Friday, 25 May 2018

Female Film Reboots: Yay or Nay?


Female remakes are a huge thing right now. Hollywood is literally churning them out. It's all to give women better roles, but is it the way to go? Do we need a Jane Bond when they could write an original female badass spy?

Leave a comment and let's discuss!


Examples

There's Ocean's 8. Admittedly, the characters are new characters, but let's face it - it's heavily. heavily inspired by the male-led series, and the name's a dead giveaway. Debbie Ocean is also Danny Ocean's sister. There's not much originality there.

There's James Bond. It doesn't been done yet, but there has been a lot of talk about making James a Jane.

There's Lord of the Flies. Just rumours and conjecture, but it's been mentioned.

There's Indiana Jones. Still just talk, but talk all the same. (FYI: I think Lara Croft already covers the female Indy. Just btw).

There's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. A female remake is being made starring Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway.

There was Ghostbusters, the 2016 female remake starring Melissa McCarthy.


There will be more. Hollywood shows no signs of slowing down the reboots - female-led or otherwise.

What are they trying to achieve and do they achieve it?

What with the very current topic of feminism these days, the film industry has felt the effect too. Writers are making a conscious effort to give women great roles to play. They're rewriting the wrongs of the past that predominantly had men playing the three-dimensional, relatable, well written roles. They're feeling the pressure.

But are these writers really doing the best they can do? Is the way to give women epic characters and stories just to rewrite a male hero as a woman and alter his story to fit her? Honestly, I think that's an insult to both men and women. I think it's sexist. It isn't all that empowering, either.

Here's what two actresses have to say:


Rachel Weisz: “Why not create your own story rather than jumping on to the shoulders and being compared to all those other male predecessors? Women are really fascinating and interesting and should get their own stories.”

Rosamund Pike: "I'd just say write a new story. I mean James Bond is a character that Ian Fleming created. I mean, you know of course the brand has become bigger and whatever, but take one of the Bond Girls and give her her own story. I think the character of James Bond is a man. He is really. But I mean, to have such a character in a completely independent series, why should a woman get sort of sloppy seconds? Why should she have once been a man and now it has to be played by a woman? Why not make a kick-ass female agent in her own right?"


In conclusion...

Personally, I agree with the ladies' quotes above. I don't think remaking male stories with female characters is the way to give women decent roles and stories. I think there needs to be more female directors, more female writers, who lend their female perspective to writing new, original stories and original, three-dimensional, exciting new female characters for actresses to play.

Don't just remake a male story and give the hero a heroine makeover. You're messing with characters who were actually written as male characters. Not to mention women deserve more than that. Just be original. Be brave. Be inspired. 




What do you think of these upcoming and potential female remakes? Do you think they're necessary? Do you think they're misguided? Do you think women deserve original stories instead? 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

SHATTER ME (Shatter Me #1) - by Tahereh Mafi

SHATTER ME (SHATTER ME #1) - Tahereh Mafi
Published: 2012 - HarperCollins.
Genres: Young adult / romance / science fiction
Pages: 338.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I hadn't heard much about this series before I read the first book myself, but the cover captured my interest right away. It's so chillingly intense.


Mafi writes well and her style is beautiful. Some lines are unnecessarily flowery, and ones like "I melt, hot butter dripping down his body" are ridiculous; I hate how the author skips right past the simile and makes her character become the "butter". It's too much.
Overall, though, the prose is lovely. The chapters are wonderfully short, too ;)

The world is interesting. I think it's a bit limited - I would have liked to have seen more of it - but the imagery we're given is stunning, and that makes the bit of world and civilisation quite fascinating.

The plot isn't original (especially towards the end where the climax is a sequence of scenes I've seen so many times before). Things are also very easy, very smooth running for the heroine, and yet......it's never boring. The action is great, and the story is exciting. It's a light, fun read. That's what it is.


Sometimes I think the loneliness inside of me is going to explode through my skin and sometimes I'm not sure if crying or screaming or laughing through the hysteria will solve anything at all. Sometimes I'm so desperate to touch to be touched to feel that I'm almost certain I'm going to fall off a cliff in an alternate universe where no one will ever be able to find me.


I love the heroine. Juliette has a firm set of morals, and despite her inner demons, she's passionate and fiercely devoted to what she believes in. She's easy to root for - I love her beautiful personality.

The characters are vivid, and I like that. At the same time, however, Adam is a boring love interest with very little personality, Warner is an interesting villain but PLEASE do not let there be a love triangle in the second book and then gloss over his problematic behaviour towards Juliette, and the secondary characters are flat, fade-into-the-background figures. Juliette is the best written character by far, and without a doubt carries the book.

I don't ship the romance. Adam and Juliette's relationship isn't well developed, and despite them having apparently known each other as kids, that bit of their past is never tapped into deeply enough. As a result, their relationship in the present feels very insta-lovey. They need more development.

(Also just FYI: 'Kissing it out' when it's actually a conversation they need to be having is not something I support. There are too many scenes where they start kissing to get rid of their troubles, and nope, nope, nope - talk it out, kids. Kissing doesn't magically fix stuff.)





Shatter Me is a fun, intense dystopia with a compelling heroine. But the weak romance and convenient plot line are unfortunate.  

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER - by Marie Lu

BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER - Marie Lu
Published: January 2018 - Penguin Random House.
Genres: Young adult / contemporary / retelling
Pages: 272.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild violence.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy. The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list. One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals. Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope. In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.


Marie Lu is a huge name in YA and I've wanted to read her books for ages. I'm also a big fan of Batman and superheroes. This novel looked like the perfect story.
I buddy-read this book with my #squad, Di and Uma. Go check out their amazing reviews HERE and HERE.


I found the writing a bit.....underwhelming. The scenes are vivid and they move like something out of a movie, but the actual word choice and sentence structure aren't brilliant. The writing is average - not particularly astounding. It's too typical.
The dialogue is boring. It's completely unoriginal and weak. It's badly written. One of the scenes in the climax (which is supposed to be all powerful and emotional, and I can't say much more cos of spoilers) is severely impaired by its boring, cheesy dialogue, and that totally ruins the mood.

The plot isn't great. There's not a lot of action, and not much happens. There were so many amazing opportunities (like that prison break scene) for Lu to have spun the story in an exhilarating direction, but instead she played it extremely safe. It stays cliche, and adds nothing to the original Batman we know and love. It's dry and uninspired.
There's also the fact that the incidents that move the story forward are way too convenient. Bruce simply stumbles upon information (like the origami incident) and the climax of the book is easily revolved without much incident. It just doesn't make you go "wow!" It's simplistic and mediocre. I wish Lu could've taken more risks with the story.


“Maybe they weren't a smart match but fate had matched them anyway; and someday in some future perhaps they would be matched again.”


The characters need a LOT more depth and fleshing out. Bruce is a typical Gryffindor (kinda ruins the Dark Knight image am I right?) and bored me almost instantly. I also wish we could've seen more of how his parents' recent deaths affected him; their absence isn't mentioned much, which I think is a missed opportunity for depth and character growth.

Madeline is also a missed opportunity for someone who could've been an extremely compelling anti-heroine. Instead, we're just supposed to buy her connection with Bruce (which is insta-love on his side, and insta-affection on hers) and even though she's supposed to be this dark, dangerous villain, WE NEVER SEE HER FIGHT UNTIL THE END AND EVEN THEN IT'S JUST KINDA PATHETIC. Given her role in the story, I expected more. I didn't want her to go soft so early, and she needed more depth, originality, and personality. But she isn't even compelling.

The secondary characters - Alfred, Harvey, Richard, Dianne - are basically disguised stereotypes. I say disguised because I feel like Lu relied more on their legacy in the fandom (for Alfred and Harvey - since they're already established personalities) and didn't bother to add much depth and quirks to their characters. They're all very average.




Batman Nightwalker is a missed opportunity. The characters are boring, the dialogue is terrible, and the plot is too simple and convenient. It's a relaxing flick of a story, but it's not memorable or brilliant.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Romanticised Abuse: Rhysand and Feyre in ACOTAR


Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Start posting whenever you want.
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
- Please link to my blog as the original creator.
- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.




First off, I just want to clarify that this discussion is about Feyre and Rhys in A Court of Thorns and Roses. I am not going to address their relationship in A Court of Mist and Fury because that would require me to re-read that book and frankly it was bad enough having to re-read these sections of ACOTAR. So no thanks. That's a discussion for another day. 


The section of A Court of Thorns and Roses I'm going to addressing in this post revolves around Rhys and Feyre's relationship towards the end of the book. Feyre has ventured 'Under the Mountain' to free Tamlin, and finds herself at Amarantha's - the villain's - mercy. I can't relay everything about the story, so this post will make more sense if you've already read the book ;)  

Anyhow. Moving on. 


Context: Feyre has been taken by servants, on Rhys' orders, and is being dressed in clothes he's picked out for her. Night after night, she will be accompanying him to dancing and banqueting Under the Mountain; she has no say in the matter, and Rhys is doing it to 1) spite Tamlin, who's forced to watch as Rhys interacts with Feyre, and 2) to show his ownership of her because of the bargain they struck. Her body's been inked to show evidence of this bargain she's made with him (the bargain is irrelevant to this discussion, so I'm not going into that. But just FYI: the bargain is not that she's agreed to go to this party dressed like that. It's something else). 

But from the neck down, I was a heathen god’s plaything. They had continued the pattern of the tattoo on my arm, and once the blue-black paint had dried, they placed on me a gauzy white dress. If you could call it a dress. It was little more than two long shafts of gossamer, just wide enough to cover my breasts, pinned at each shoulder with gold brooches. The sections flowed down to a jeweled belt slung low across my hips, where they joined into a single piece of fabric that hung between my legs and to the floor. It barely covered me, and from the cold air on my skin, I knew that most of my backside was left exposed. The cold breeze caressing my bare skin was enough to kindle my rage.
The two High Fae ignored my demands to be clothed in something else, their impossibly shadowed faces veiled from me, but held my arms firm when I tried to rip the shift off.
 “I wouldn’t do that,”a deep, lilting voice said from the doorway. Rhysand was leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.
 I should have known it was his doing, should have known from the matching designs all over my body.
  “Our bargain hasn’t started yet,” I snapped. The instincts that had once told me to be quiet around Tam and Lucien utterly failed me when Rhysand was near.
  “Ah, but I need an escort for the party.” His violet eyes glittered with stars. “And when I thought of you squatting in that cell all night, alone …” He waved a hand, and the faerie servants vanished through the door behind him.
 I flinched as they walked through the wood—no doubt an ability everyone in the Night Court possessed—and Rhysand chuckled.
 “You look just as I hoped you would.” ……………..
 “Is this necessary?” I said, gesturing to the paint and clothing.
  “Of course,” he said coolly. “How else would I know if anyone touches you?” He approached, and I braced myself.
Rhys robs Feyre of her privacy.  He's dressing her in next to nothing, she's practically naked, and she has no choice in the matter.  She's going to be his 'plaything' for the evening - that's that. She's his property to parade around.
But it gets worse.   


His teeth were far too near to my throat. “And I’ll remember precisely where my hands have been. But if anyone else touches you—let’s say a certain High Lord who enjoys springtime—I’ll know.” He flicked my nose. “And, Feyre,” he added, his voice a caressing murmur, “I don’t like my belongings tampered with.”
Her body's been painted in ink so Rhys can tell if anyone else touches her. Also: possession re-enforced. She's his property for this night. She is utterly at his mercy. 


He smiled, and extended the goblet again. “Drink. You’ll need it.”
 Drink, my mind echoed, and my fingers stirred, moving toward the goblet. No. No, Alis said not to drink the wine here—wine that was different from that joyous, freeing solstice wine.
“No,” I said, and some faeries who were watching us from a safe distance chuckled.
“Drink,” he said, and my traitorous fingers latched onto the goblet.
He's drugging her. That's what's happening here.


“What happened?” I got out, even though I wasn’t sure I truly wanted the answer. My memory was a dark blur of wild music.
Lucien drew back. “I don’t think you want to know.”
Feyre asks her friend, Lucien, to tell her what happened the night before: Rhys drugging her, them going to the party...
Lucien's answer is chilling.  And it begs the obvious question: What did Rhys do to her and what did he make her do? 


Lucien let out a sharp breath, running a hand through his red hair. “He had you dance for him for most of the night. And when you weren’t dancing, you were sitting in his lap.”
 “What kind of dancing?” I pushed.
 “Not the kind you were doing with Tamlin on Solstice,” Lucien said, and my face heated.
 From the murkiness of my memories of last night, I recalled the closeness of a certain pair of violet eyes—eyes that sparkled with mischief as they beheld me.
 “In front of everyone?”
 “Yes,” Lucien replied.
So there. Lucien tells her what happened the night before, and it's horrific.  Feyre is not choosing to do these things, Rhys is making her do them. She's drugged - she's unaware of what's happening. 


After I drank the wine, though, I was mercifully unaware of what was happening. Night after night, I was dressed in the same way and made to accompany Rhysand to the throne room. Thus I became Rhysand’s plaything, the harlot of Amarantha’s whore. I woke with vague shards of memories—of dancing between Rhysand’s legs as he sat in a chair and laughed; of his hands, stained blue from the places they touched on my waist, my arms, but somehow, never more than that. He had me dance until I was sick, and once I was done retching, told me to begin dancing again. I awoke ill and exhausted each morning, and though Rhysand’s order to the guards had indeed held, the nightly activities left me thoroughly drained. I spent my days sleeping off the faerie wine, dozing to escape the humiliation I endured. When I could, I contemplated Amarantha’s riddle, turning over every word—to no avail.
HE IS KEEPING HER DRUGGED FOR DAYS AND NIGHTS. But hey, it's chilled, because his hands don't touch her anywhere but her waist and arms. Please. It's already sexual because of what she's wearing and how she's dancing. And although you can argue Rhys didn't sexually assault her, the way he's making her behave is extremely disturbing in itself. 


I lurked by a wall, forgotten by the crowd, waiting for Rhysand to beckon me to drink the wine and dance or do whatever it was he wished of me.
More horror. "Do whatever it was he wished of me". She's unaware of what she's actually doing. Rhys is stripping her of choice. 


Just to clarify again in case we still have any doubt of Feyre's awareness of the situation, here's a quote from A Court of Wings and Ruin where after Lucien remarks about a kiss Feyre had Under the Mountain, she replies: "I had as little choice in that as I did in the dancing." (pg 114)
I think we can agree she has no choice in these nights of revelry. So let's move on.

- Rhys drugs her. She is not aware of what he's doing or what she's doing. She has no choice in what's happening.
- Rhys makes her dance sensually (reading Lucien's earlier quote, I think it's obvious Feyre's dancing isn't PG).
 - Rhys has servants strip her naked and then has them dress her.
 - Rhys has her entire body painted (including, in Feyre's own words, "{her} more intimate parts".
 - Rhys keeps Feyre drugged day after day after night after night. This isn't a once-off incident.
 - Rhys touches her. Yes yes nowhere but her waist and arms, but please - cheap shot, Maas. He touches her against her will and that's wrong. Period.
 - Rhys has her dressed in an outfit that's barely an outfit. It's transparent material. Her breasts and backside are literally exposed.


And after all that, after everything that I've listed above happens, we are supposed to be grateful to Rhys (Feyre is supposed to be grateful to Rhys) for saving her?! For 'protecting ' her and keeping an eye on her?! Maas is romanticising a sequence of extremely disturbing incidents. She is manipulating and messing with our minds so that what Rhys does to Feyre is only questionably wrong?!

Maas is trying to push in our faces that Rhys is the hero here. He saved Feyre. And when you read the following lines, it's easy to be swayed. He "kept her from shattering":

It took me a long while to realize that Rhysand, whether he knew it or not, had effectively kept me from shattering completely.

“Feyre, for Cauldron’s sake. I drug you, but you don’t wonder why I never touch you beyond your waist or arms?”


But we shouldn't be questioning whether or not Rhys was wrong. There should be no question. He drugged her. He invaded her privacy. He stripped her of choice. He treated her like his own personal toy, made her dance sexually in front of other people, but "he did it for her good"?! 
To that I say: romanticised abuse. 


Monday, 21 May 2018

BRING ME BACK - by B. A. Paris

BRING ME BACK - B. A Paris
Published: June 2018 - HQ 
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary / mystery
Pages: 384.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again. Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love. As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?


I was so looking forward to reading this book. I hadn't ever tried the author before, but the premise was fantastic. It sounded deliciously twisty.


But the writing is weak. There is a gross excess of telling instead of showing, and that made it impossible for me to get immersed into the story; I never got to feel the anger, the pain, the torment, of the characters - it's all simply reported. The bland language doesn't help, either.
The setting of the story isn't fleshed out well enough. It's never fully realised. I wanted more of it. I wanted an atmosphere, and the setting never gives you that.

It's very cheesy and melodramatic. The last lines of almost every chapter end with an ominous cliffhanger such as "You have ten days" or "But then she spoiled everything" or "It was time to find out!" It's just so....eye-roll worthy. The anticipation the author's trying to instill in his readers is too forced. It's cheesy and overdone.

The end of the book has some nice twists. But they are also the kind of twists that make you think "is that really, really clever, or is it just totally bizarre and confusing?" That's how I feel. I'm not sure that the twists do make complete sense, and I for one am still very puzzled with the ending. The details of the ending's incidents are very weak and far-fetched, and they aren't written convincingly. I don't know quite what to think.


“Sometimes we lie for the greater good, don’t we? I wish that’s what you had done.”


The characters are flat. I hate the narrator - the protagonist - because he comes across so aloof and arrogant, and the secondary cast are dull and one-dimensional, too. No one is vivid and layered; they're all half-finished beings with tunnel purpose.
And the author never digs deep with them. That goes for the rest of the book, too. He just doesn't go below the surface, and so we get a weak, glossy surface-level story with no real depth or engagement. It's hollow.




Bring Me Back is badly written with flat characters, and does nothing to draw the reader into its clutches and keep them there. It also sends out mixed messages about abuse, which are never properly resolved. 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Weekly What's Up - sick, school, sleep


The royal wedding. Let's talk about it. I absolutely loved it, thought it was amazing, and Meghan looked incredible. Also, couple goals <3 I melted a few times. 
AND AMAL CLOONEY'S OUTFIT. Gosh. She was my fave - she looked sensational. Also, the Queen, Kate, Meghan's mother, Serena Williams......BEAUTIFUL.  

Apart from an amazing Saturday, it was hasn't been a great week for me. I've only scraped by with school because I was sick, and spent half of Friday in bed with a headache that made it impossible for me to get up. I hate flu because it's not just the nose you get - it's the aches, the headaches, the sensitive eyes, the temperature. And I slept so much
But I'm already getting better :)    


Posts of the Week

I took part in the blog tour for My Sweet Friend.

I shared some aesthetics from my WIP...

I reviewed Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.

Currently Reading

I didn't actually realise I was reading this many books until I collected their covers for this post ;) Oops.



For Review

Thank you so much, Penguin Random House, for these amazing paperbacks!









Around the Blogosphere

Uma reviews Ash Princess

Heather reviews Zenith

Olivia reviews A Thousand Perfect Notes

Ronnie reviews Nothing But Sky

Amber Elise reviews Furyborn

Aneta reviews From Twinkle, with Love





How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

ASH PRINCESS (Ash Princess #1) - by Laura Sebastian

ASH PRINCESS - Laura Sebastian
Published: April 2018 - Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young adult / romance / epic fantasy
Pages: 432.
Triggers/Content Advisory: One traumatic whipping scene / mild sexual innuendos / mild violence
Format: Paperback ARC.
Source: Gift from Pan Macmillan.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner. For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside. Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield. For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


I buddy-read Ash Princess with the amazing Uma from Books.Bags.Burgers. You can read her review HERE. After seeing the many 5 star reviews on Goodreads, we were both excited to start reading this book.


The writing is beautiful. There is the occasional info dumping, but otherwise, for a debut, the writing is solid. I liked it.
But the characters are uninteresting. Theo is one-dimensional, there's absolutely nothing unique about her, and I'm not even sure if she has a personality. The secondary characters aren't great either -  they're dull and stereotypical - and the love triangle is predictable and unnecessary.
Overall, I couldn't connect to or care about anyone. They're all cardboard cut-outs.

But the plot is the worst. I could endure the characters and enjoy the writing, but the plot has no redeeming factors:

- There is no real conflict. Sebastian plays it safe with petty troubles and easy-to-control situations, and keeps events on a straight path to a risk-free finale. Every incident in the book is devoid of excitement and extremely underwhelming because of the lack of threat. It's too safe, and considering the premise, it definitely shouldn't be.
- The story is also too easy and convenient, and events are random and coincidental. Blaise killing off Theo's guards to get them out of the way, Blaise giving Theo the poison to use against her enemies, Blaise getting the ships ready for the escape and making sure Theo's friends are safe, are all laughably opportune events. It's all taken care of off the page and it is SO. CONVENIENT.
- There are also incidents like the Kaiser's wife's death and the little uprising that gets Theo punished that I don't think worked in the story simply because they're isolated events with no direct ties to the main plot. They just happen (and they have little consequence). Wouldn't it have been so much better if Theo had implicitly caused the Kaiser's wife's death? Or if she'd done something to cause the uprising? Just get her involved, please! Theo doesn't lead the plot, and as the heroine, she should be doing stuff, making mistakes, following impulses, etc, that set the dominoes in motion.
Yet she doesn't. She thinks about doing stuff more than she actually does the stuff. She isn't making the plot move - it's moving regardless of what she's doing.




Ash Princess is beautifully written with an intense premise. But the characters are cardboard cut-outs, the heroine doesn't move the plot, and the story has very little conflict.  

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The WIP Diaries: JACKIE Aesthetics......


This is another post in my WIP Diaries blog series where I talk about my writing and what I'm currently working on. Check out the previous posts here:

MONSTROUS: a short story
What I'm currently writing...
THE WOODS Saga
MORGANA series
The CONTORTION trilogy


Today I'm sharing some character aesthetics! The peeps below are secondary characters in my WIP - Jackie - but since I haven't finished my heroine's one yet, she's missing from the group. I'm hoping to shows hers in a few weeks :)

In the meantime, here are the supporting cast: 

Cali (heroine's close friend and Tikee's sister) 




 Liam (heroine's friend and love interest) 




Minh (heroine's best friend) 




Tikee (heroine's friend and Cali's brother) 






Are you writing anything at the moment? What's your WIP about? Do you like creating aesthetics? 

Monday, 14 May 2018

Blog Tour and Intl Giveaway: MY SWEET FRIEND - by H.A. Leuschel


Today I'm sharing an excerpt and international giveaway for this beautiful book! Read on to find out about the story...





A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives...
A perfect friend ... or a perfect impostor? Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships. But is Alexa all she claims to be? As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack's, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted? In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.



Goodreads   /    Purchase 







Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.



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INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

Win a signed copy of My Sweet Friend!


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– Worldwide entries welcome.
 Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.





Note from the author: 


Many dream to become the next Husain Bolt, Nobel Prize Winner or movie star? Much of what children are taught today is about reaching goals, coming first, standing out and being one of a kind.

Without hard work and learning to accept failures and hardship, very few are in a position though to reach those heights. So, what if you haven’t got the grit, little personal ambition to sit down and work? What if appearances are everything to you?
There’s one way to get there and that is via the observation of fellow humans, how they tick, what their strengths and especially what their weaknesses are and then lie yourself to the top. Lies and betrayals have fed numerous story lines in literature since time immemorial. From psychopaths, protagonists out to achieve their goal at all cost, deceiving husbands and wives to those simply scared to be found out, lying comes in many shapes and colours. Their consequences are always devastating to the injured party, leaving a trail of hurt.

Deception and lies leave behind broken hearts and suspicion, cause anxiety and often further deceit and in my latest novella ‘My Sweet Friend’ this is no exception.


It had all happened quite fast. I was standing in the queue at the ticket office, waiting for my turn, when my memory travelled back to the day I’d gone back for a cup of coffee to Jack’s apartment. ‘Let’s have some fun, shall we? No one has to know.’
The words had worked their magic because he, like countless others before him, could not resist my direct advances. The signals were clear and without complicated initiation periods. They’d soon be all too keen to assuage their guilty consciences when it suited me later. At the next opportunity, facing each other over evening drinks, I started tickling his conscience.
‘Are you worried about Rosie finding out?’ I asked, and he blanched at the question, his eyes focused on his Apple Martini.
He took another mouthful, then looked at me. ‘I care about Rosie and I think our little game is a mistake.’ He’d chosen the wrong condescending tone, as if he were the father telling off his silly little girl.
 ‘Whoa, seriously? Are you suggesting it was a chore to spend time with me? You’re just like every other guy, you know. Alexa is fun but let’s dump her for the little mouse who prefers women,’ I said, watching Jack squirm and shift in his seat.
 ‘Why do you keep calling her a little mouse? That’s offensive. She’s your friend, you said. Since when do friends talk badly about each other behind their backs?’ He slapped his hand on the table. ‘Calm down. She is, and she’s really sweet, but I sometimes feel she’s too clingy and needy, calling me in the middle of the night to cry on my shoulder, so to speak, borrowing money from me because she can’t pay back her credit card bills.’
The words tumbled out of me without much reflection, so to back them up I showed him the long list of calls and text notifications Rosie had sent, after I had called her in desperation in the middle of the night, then had given her the silent treatment. I left the latter fact out, of course, watching the dismay sadden Jack’s face.








Hope you like the look of this book! 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Weekly What's Up - birthdays, watching, reading


This is a really short weekly round-up ;) Not sure how that actually happened, but oh well.   


It was my birthday on Thursday!! I turned 18! It feels so weird and terrifying and exciting. I got wonderful presents, ate amazing food, and spent most of the day relaxing. My parents also gave me season 1 of Big Little Lies, which I was EXTREMELY ecstatic about. ( I've already finished watching it and it is sooooo good. Go watch it now). 

I'm also watching a Netflix mini series at the moment with my Mum and I highly recommend it. It's called Safe, and is based off of the thriller by Harlan Coben. If you enjoy crime shows, you should love this one too. It's addictive.  


Posts of the Week


I rounded up all the Romanticised Abuse discussion posts that I've done so far.

I reviewed A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews.


Currently Reading

I'm not enjoying either of these so far and I feel TERRIBLE :(









For Review

Looking forward to The Astonishing Colour of After, and kinda hesitant about The Darkest Minds #2 and #3...











How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES - by C.G. Drews

A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES - C. G. Drews
Published: June 2018 - Orchard Books.
Genres: Young adult / contemporary / romance
Pages: 300.
Triggers/Content Advisory: The whole book is centered around the abusive relationship between a boy and his mother. It could be very triggering. There are also a number of extremely violent scenes.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music - because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence. When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?


This is Cait's book! And I feel so absolutely terrified reviewing it! She's so popular that reviewing her novel is frightening. So please don't kill me ;) This is just my opinion.


Drews writes well, her style deeply poetic, unique, and profound. The dialogue is also excellent, showcasing the characters' distinct voices and always staying tight and witty.
But honestly, I found the writing too melodramatic. It's also occasionally - and nonsensically - purple prosy. The drama in every line is packed on too thick and some descriptions are so flowery that they don't even make sense. There are also so many sentences
written
like
this
and although I understand the author is trying to create an affect, it just feels fake and melodramatic. I even think it might make a better poem than a novel. The language and style would suit that better.

The theme of abuse is handled brilliantly. It's gut-wrenching and horrific, of course, but it's also sensitively and realistically dealt with. I also appreciate how the author showed the effects of Beck's mother's treatment of him on Beck's little sister, Joey, as well. It makes perfect sense that such violence would affect other members of the family, too, and I like that Drews includes that.

“You are worth more than a thousand perfect notes.”

The plot is fast and never boring. It's predictable, but that doesn't distract from the story. There are great atmospheric scenes and plenty of tension to keep you gripped.
Yet I still wanted more. I wanted a rounder story. I wanted to see stronger subplots (and more of them...), a more fleshed out town, more quirks to the characters, and more depth. The focus is on Beck and his mother and Beck's relationship with August and that's all done very well, but I wanted to see around them. Instead, the story and theme are one dimensional. There's very little else going on besides the main plot.  I just didn't like that; it didn't feel like a totally dynamic story.

The characters' personalities are strong and vivid. But Joey, who's Beck adorable little sister, is the only person I actually loved. Although I obviously felt for Beck, I never loved his character, and August irritated me with her abrasiveness and inability to take a hint.  I also would've liked to have seen more depth to August's character, more of her hobbies, things to flesh her out. As is, she's not far from becoming a hippie stereotype. 




A Thousand Perfect Notes is a heartbreaking and hopeful composition, rich with strong personalities. But the writing is too melodramatic, better suited for a poem than a novel, and the story isn't well rounded.  


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Romanticised Abuse // Posts So Far......


Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Start posting whenever you want.
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
- Please link to my blog as the original creator.
- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.





A few months ago I decided to start a blog series where every two weeks I'd write about a type of romanticised abuse I'd seen in a movie, book, or TV show. It is terrifying how much content I had to share. But this is a subject I feel passionately about, and as incidents of sexual assault, toxic relationships, and even rape continue to be romanticised and glamorised in pop culture everywhere, I do not plan to stop this series anytime soon. These are abuses that have to be shown for the evil they are. More people need to recognise the horror of such incidents. And failing to treat them with the seriousness and sensitivity they deserve, is something society desperately needs to correct.  


1: Jacob and Bella in Twilight // Jacob violently assaults Bella in Eclipse, and the incident is totally glossed over. The scene is disturbing and revolting - yet no one seems to recognise it as sexual assault.  


2: Bad Boys // Boys can be 'bad' without sexually assaulting the heroine. We need to see more of those types of bad boys.   


3: Paolo and Phoebe in F.R.I.E.N.D.S // Paolo sexually assaults Phoebe, and the story completely misses the point of the incident. 


4: Erik and Christine in The Phantom of the Opera // Erik and Christine's relationship is extremely toxic and terrifyingly violent. But we're supposed to ship them, because Erik's a poor, broken soul. That's sick.  


5: Rape in Once Upon A Time // Regina and Zelena rape two male characters and the writers ignore the incidents to continue to develop the two popular, much-loved female characters.  It's shocking.  


6: Noah and Allie in The Notebook // Literature's best love story? Or is it nightmare? Noah and Allie are anything but couple goals, and all Noah deserves is a restraining order.  


7: Tamlin and Feyre in ACOTAR // Tamlin sexually assaults Feyre and it's written as a hot, sexy love  scene. It's enough to make you vomit.  


8: Locke and Roar in Roar // Locke's toxic masculinity is a prime example of how men objectify women and treat them as inferiors. 


9: Sexual abuse and rape in Crazy House // The constant abuse against women is frightening in this badly written YA dystopia from James Patterson.  


10: Sexual assault in Daughter of the Pirate King // A guy watches his love interest get sexually assaulted and does nothing? Yup. And that's only part 1 of this book's problems.  


11: Abuse in The Orphan's Wish // An abusive relationship is romanticised and the girl's trauma is used to further her love story with another guy. Uuurrrgghh.  


12: Jeb and Alyssa in Splintered // The relationship between these two characters is unhealthy in every sense of the word. Jeb treats Alyssa terribly, and his disgusting behaviour is totally romanticised.   






Thank you so much for supporting this blog series so far <3 

And I encourage you to write your own posts highlighting the romanticised abuse you might come across in books and movies :)