Saturday, 24 February 2018

THE SNOWMAN (film) is a freezing mess

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Micheal Fassbender / Rebecca Ferguson / Charlotte Gainsbourg / Jonas Karlsson / Val Kilmer
Score: Marco Beltrami
Cinematography: Dion Beebe
Content Advisory: R for very grisly images, some language, sexuality, and brief nudity.
Source: Rented.

Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.

I thought the book was excellent and I love Michael Fassbender, so I was so excited to watch this film. I thought it'd be awesome. (Warning: I use lots of really bad ice/snow/cold puns in the last paragraph of this review ;).

The music is suitably eerie, but it's weak as well. The only time I really felt its purpose was during that scene near the end when Harry stalks over the hill of snow to find the killer. It makes the shot strong.
But the cinematography is...well to be honest I don't know what the heck the cinematography was doing for the duration of this film. The first scene - a flashback- is filmed with a camera that looks like it's been draped with lilac netting. It is such a mess  - so sloppy and ugly. And after that scene, the cinematography just gets more confusing. The first few scenes are very hard to watch, then we actually get some decent shots further on, and then, it gets messy again. It's a wreck of clumsy, downright bizarre filming. It's sharp one minute, then bewildering the next. What the heck was going on I don't know.

The film has its flaws. But none of the ones I've mentioned above even come close to the total sludge that is the plot. When you have such strong source material, how can you go wrong?! How?! But somehow, these writers do.
The scenes are all over the place. Their order is absurd. The whole movie feels like it should just be the start, and yet unfortunately most of it is supposed to be gripping, powerful build-up. Except it really isn't. It's in disarray, and it's embarrassing. The mystery is hollow, coincidental, and with no hero-villain personal connection, there's not much holding anything together. It's painful and tedious. 

The acting is solid. Fassbender is rugged and haunting as Hole, and Rebecca Ferguson (although sorely underused) is electric. She's absolutely lovely in every scene. Charlotte Gainsbourg as Rakel is also great, and she's darkly ethereal in the character. But with the exception of those three, the cast is completely unmemorable. I also think that even those three talents struggle with the script; they're not given much too work with, and they suffer for it, despite giving it their all.
The characters are undeveloped. The emotional connection isn't there. I didn't feel the twisted connection between the hero and the villain, nor did I recognize Hole's distress as he struggles to find the killer and stop him. There isn't an urgency or personal connection there.
(And just FYI: I don't like what the writers do with Ferguson's character. She does stuff and has stuff done to her that I do not remember happening in the book. It's a waste of who was, in the book, a wonderfully compelling woman).

The Snowman is a cold mess of rubbish plotting and bizarre cinematography. It wastes its source material and bumbles through the snow with no sense of confidence. Even the decent acting can't stop it from falling through the ice. 

Friday, 23 February 2018

2 Mini Book Reviews!

Published: March 2018 - by Aria
Pages: N/A
Genres: Historical fiction /
Triggers/Content Advisory: Strong themes of domestic abuse / sexual innuendo / violence
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

1930's London - A backstreet saga full of hopes, dreams and the fight for survival. Perfect for the fans of Rosie Clarke and Lindsey Hutchinson. Work at Price's Candle Factory in Battersea is tedious for intelligent, seventeen-year-old Hillie Hardwick, but she knows she is lucky to have a job at all. Her home life is no better, as she constantly battles with her exacted and bullying father in order to protect her mother and five younger siblings from his tyranny of abuse. Her only solace is her loving relationship with the chaotic Parker family and her best friend, Gert Parker. When matters violently escalate for Hillie, smitten Jack-the-Lad Jimmy Baxter seems her only salvation. But could this be the biggest mistake of her life, and should she be looking for protection nearer home?

- Strong female friendships. Hillie has lots of girl friends and they're all so close and always have each other's backs.
- It's a decent coming of age story. The characters make mistakes, get tangled in false starts, and finally find their way in the end.

- Terrible writing. It's amateurish and awkward, and with an overuse of exclamation marks.
- The dialogue is horrific. It's full of info-dumps and is generally just cringy and unrealistic.
- I wanted more of the candle factory and the girls' jobs. Instead, the story focuses on their love lives.
- The characters are so stereotypical and cliche. Hillie is a special snowflake who can do no wrong, who's the prettiest of all the girls, and who's loved by everyone. Jimmy, the hero, is also annoying, and he's the stereotypical bad boy who's smitten with Hillie because she's the only girl to refuse his advances and because she's the smartest and most beautiful of all the other girls.
- The romance between Jimmy and Hillie is extremely inconsistent. One minute Hillie's set on their future and busy kissing Jimmy, and the next she's trying to decide if she loves him. UGH.
- Jimmy and Hillie's marriage is so problematic. She's hesitant about having sex for the first time and is clearly uncomfortable when Jimmy makes a move, but she makes herself to endure it because it's what "a proper wife must do." More than once, she's uncomfortable with sleeping with her husband and with him undressing her, but she stays silent and lets him to what he wants with her. That's not healthy! You need to talk to your partner, you need to talk....Hillie and Jimmy never do that. Marriage is not a one-sided show - and nor is sex - that's ruled by one person's desires and needs. It goes both ways.
- The book's ending is so predictable and convenient.

How many of you have watched the TV series Land Girls? If you're a fan of that, I think you'll love this book. Otherwise it's not worth reading. 

Published: March 2018 - by Tor
Pages: 576.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / retelling
Triggers/Content Advisory: I haven't read the whole book so I'm not qualified to say.
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood. The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes. The king's three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm's only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.

PLEASE NOTE: I only read a sampler of this book - precisely 193 pages - so my opinions/review is based on that alone.

The characters are riveting, twisty, compelling, damaged, and ruthless. It's a big cast, but everyone is vivid and layered.
The plot is achingly romantic and heartbreaking. It's a bit confusing, but otherwise extraordinary. Unique, as well, and running with the characters' dangerous agendas.
The setting is stunning and seductive. It's a maelstrom of dark imagination.

The only thing I don't like about the book is how overtly flowery and purple the prose is. It's laid on way too thick.

I can't wait to continue the story once I get the chance to read the full book! From the pages I got to read, this book was an absolute treat. Think Three Dark Crowns meets Caraval meets Game of Thrones. 

Hope you liked these reviews! Have you read or heard of these books? What do you think of them? 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Book Blitz: MARRYING MR. VALENTINE - by Laura Bernard

I'm so happy to be participating in the book blitz for this delightful book! It looks so cute and fluffy and romantic.
Check it out...

Nadine Roberts smiles for everyone, but beneath it she hides a heartbreaking past that only a few know about. Throwing herself into her new career; wedding planner at The Duck & Goose, a property recently purchased by newlyweds Florence and Hugh, has helped distract her from her loneliness. When a teary bride suddenly cancels her upcoming wedding Nadine looks to the two year waiting list. Clara Blumenkrantz and Hartley Valentine. It’ll have to be a quick turnaround, but what’s the worst that can happen, right? This should be like every other wedding she plans, but the magnetism she feels towards Mr Valentine disrupts the orderly life she’s worked hard to carve out. Can she ignore her intense desires and be a professional? Or will she open up her heart to the one person that has the power to break it? And in doing so endanger not just her job, but her venue’s reputation?

Amazon    /     Goodreads

Head on over to Laura's Facebook page to enter her release day giveaway to be in with a chance of winning a £10 Amazon Gift Card!

Website       /     Facebook    /     Twitter    /  Instagram  /   Pinterest   /    Goodreads     / 

Thanks for stopping by! 
Does this book sound like something you'd enjoy? 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

2 Mini Book Reviews!

THE DRAGON ORB - Mike Shelton
Published: 2017 - Mike Shelton
Pages: 326.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy
Triggers/Content Advisory: Nothing.
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

The fate of a kingdom rests on the shoulders of three young wizards who couldn't be more different. Bakari is a brilliant scholar wizard who's more at home in a library than a battlefield. Alli is a beautiful young battle wizard whose grace in battle is both enchanting and deadly. Roland is a counselor wizard with a seemingly limitless depth of untapped power -- and the ego to match it. As the magical barrier protecting the kingdom of Alaris from dangerous outsiders begins to fail, and a fomenting rebellion threatens to divide the country in a civil war, the three wizards are thrust into the middle of a power struggle. When the barrier comes down, the truth comes out. Was everything they were taught about their kingdom based on a lie? Will they all choose to fight on the same side, or end up enemies in the battle over who should rule Alaris?

This is a wonderfully sweet fantasy. The characters are so cute, the relationships heartwarming and relatable, and the racial diversity is excellent.

The plot is tight and the pacing is good. There's lots of action, too. I also love the political dynamics of the world, and the world itself is well-imagined.

But the writing and dialogue almost ruined the book for me. The writing is so awkward and amateurish, and the dialogue is unrealistic, packed with info-dumps, and generally just cringy.

Published: 2018
Pages: 326.
Genres: Young adult
Triggers/Content Advisory: Some of the excerpts contain bad language and violence.
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

Welcome to Buzz Books 2018: Young Adult Spring/Summer. These substantial pre-publication excerpts reflect a broad spectrum of today's young adult writing, from fantasy and romance to suspense and humor. You will discover debut writers to put on your radar, while enjoying early samples from some of the biggest authors in the field and even a memoir for younger readers. Readers will be happy to see included Stephanie Garber's sequel to her New York Times bestselling debut novel Caraval, a previous Buzz Books. Other fantasies are Furyborn by Claire Legrand, Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, and Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. Then come back to the present with Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein's YA debut about a teen science whiz who tries to crack the chemical equation for lasting love or Buzzfeed writer Farrah Penn's Twelve Steps to Normal, about a father's recovery from alcoholism. Start reading the bestsellers of tomorrow right now to see why reviewers rave with comments like these: Love Buzz Books!

This collection of YA excerpts is amazing. I love the variety of books - there's sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, etc etc - and I love how many new books and authors I was introduced to. The excerpts from Furyborn and Sky in the Deep are definitely my favourites.

Highly recommend this book to anyone who's anticipating YA books coming up in Spring/Summer, but prepare to add a lot to your TBR...

Hope you enjoyed these reviews! Have you read these books? What did you think? 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Romanticised Abuse: Tamlin & Feyre

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.

It's no surprise that these two characters make it onto this blog series. You know me well enough to have at least guessed it, right?
It's no secret that I have HUGE issues with the way Maas writes 'romantic' relationships. And today I'm focusing on the worst of the worst: Tamlin and Feyre. Specifically Tamlin, who is the abuser here.

To give you some background to this scene: Tamlin has told Feyre to stay in her room and not venture out during the celebrations he and his court are having. He doesn't give her valid reason why she shouldn't, and since Feyre is curious, she decides to come out and wander around. As she's heading back inside, a drunk Tamlin corners her.

“Let go,” I said as evenly as I could, but his claws punched out, imbedding in the wood above my hands. Still riding the magic, he was half-wild. 
"You drove me mad,” he growled, and the sound trembled down my neck, along my breasts until they ached. “I searched for you, and you weren’t there. When I didn’t find you,” he said, bringing his face closer to mine, until we shared breath, “it made me pick another.” 
I couldn’t escape. I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to. 
She asked me not to be gentle with her, either,” he snarled, his teeth bright in the moonlight. He brought his lips to my ear. “I would have been gentle with you, though.” 
I shuddered as I closed my eyes. Every inch of my body went taut as his words echoed through me. 
"I would have had you moaning my name throughout it all. And I would have taken a very, very long time, Feyre.” 
He said my name like a caress, and his hot breath tickled my ear. My back arched slightly. He ripped his claws free from the wall, and my knees buckled as he let go. I grasped the wall to keep from sinking to the floor, to keep from grabbing him—to strike or caress, I didn’t know. I opened my eyes. He still smiled—smiled like an animal. 
“Why should I want someone’s leftovers?” I said, making to push him away. He grabbed my hands again and bit my neck. I cried out as his teeth clamped onto the tender spot where my neck met my shoulder. I couldn’t move—couldn’t think, and my world narrowed to the feeling of his lips and teeth against my skin. He didn’t pierce my flesh, but rather bit to keep me pinned. The push of his body against mine, the hard and the soft, made me see red—see lightning, made me grind my hips against his. I should hate him—hate him for his stupid ritual, for the female he’d been with tonight … His bite lightened, and his tongue caressed the places his teeth had been. He didn’t move—he just remained in that spot, kissing my neck. Intently, territorially, lazily. Heat pounded between my legs, and as he ground his body against me, against every aching spot, a moan slipped past my lips. 
He jerked away. The air was bitingly cold against my freed skin, and I panted as he stared at me. “Don’t ever disobey me again,” he said, his voice a deep purr that ricocheted through me, awakening everything and lulling it into complicity.

Tamlin is supposed to be the hero of the book! And yes, he is drunk in this scene, but that does not excuse his behaviour towards Feyre. She tells him to let go of her, he doesn't, and because this is Maas writing, of course he has to bite Feyre and it's all supposed to be hot and sexy.
This scene is utterly revolting and perverse. It is sexual assault. And what makes it worse is that we're supposed to love Tamlin, feel sorry for him, and ship him with Feyre! It's sick.

I hate this relationship in ACOTAR. Tamlin is horrifically overprotective of Feyre, treats her like his own personal sex toy, and when she's Under the Mountain and has a chance to escape, he ruins it by shoving her against a wall and trying to have sex with her. He's selfish, disgusting, and violent. He truly is a Beast.

A Court of Thorns and Roses does not portray a romance. It portrays a sick, Stockholm Syndrome relationship where Tamlin goes as far as to violently sexually assault Feyre. If the girl says no, you listen. If you don't, then that's sexual assault. There's no 'but' about it.

Monday, 19 February 2018

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 2018 - by St. Martin's Press  
Pages: 346.
Genres: Adult / contemporary fiction / thriller / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: Themes of abuse and mental illness 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing.

This is a thriller that I was absolutely dying to read. I love relationship conflict and dynamics, and I adore this premise. I expected to love this book.
Just a warning: The last paragraph of this review, following on from the quote in the middle, is spoilery. I just couldn't write a decent review without talking about that spoiler, so I'm afraid I had to include it. If you don't want to be spoiled, please skip everything after that quote. 

The story is unique. The authors take well-known conflicts, but look at them from different angles, which I think is great. The book feels fresh.
The writing is.....good. It's quite similar to Mary Higgens Clark's style, and the whole tone of the book feels like something from her books. It doesn't feel like a modern, 2018 kinda story, it feels like something from the early 2000s and rather dated in terms of language and fashion, etc. It does work, it's just a change from what I typically expect from thrillers these days.

I love the language the authors use. It's very specific, and makes for some wonderfully vivid scenes. Every scene is well-fleshed out in all aspects.
The characters aren't incredible. They're okay, but they aren't very three-dimensional or vivid. They're stereotypes, and yet they aren't terribly written. They're just.....there, on the page. And they aren't exciting.
However, I do love how well drawn everyone's motivations are. The authors really flesh out the characters' pasts and give them solid motivations which explain their present day actions. Unfortunately it doesn't quite make them vivid, but it does prop them up a bit.

“I was happy, I think, but I wonder now if my memory is playing tricks on me. If it is giving me the gift of an illusion. We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”

I don't think this book works well as a thriller. I guessed the big twists way before they were revealed, and until about page 200 or so I was extremely bored. It's just not gripping - and the topics the authors delve into (like abuse and mental health issues) could've been more powerful if the authors had stopped trying to make the book into a thriller and instead just sat down with the characters and those tough subjects and paid them more attention, instead of trying to make secrets out of everything (which I personally think fails, because the "big twists" were very obvious to me).
But the theme of abuse is handled very well. The authors show the horror of an abusive relationship with a lot of raw emotion and subtle, psychological build-up. They address head-on the ignorant, cruel question we so often hear "why doesn't she just leave?" and make it clear that it is NEVER A MATTER OF "JUST LEAVING". I love how they handle that.
But when they're handling a topic like that, I wish they'd just forget about trying to make the book into a thriller. It think Vanessa's story would've been so much more satisfying and powerful if they'd tossed aside all these so-called secrets and mysteries and just narrowed it down to the abusive relationship and how the characters deal with that.

The Wife Between Us could've been an incredible book if the authors hadn't tried to draw out so-called mysteries and instead just focused on the characters dealing with the abusive relationship they're tied up in.  

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and writing

I've finally gotten round to writing my WIP, now that I've finished the outline. I'm nervous, but excited to see how things go. I'm also re-outlining my NaNo novel from last year and sorting that plot and characters out.  Hopefully I'll start writing its second draft when I've finished with my other book.  

In other news, I'm on season 5 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S!! Yay! And lemme just say: Monica and Chandler for the win <3 I ship them so much. 

Posts of the week:

Currently Reading

I haven't gotten very far with these two yet...

For Review

I've begun to use Netgalley more, and to start things off I got these two books :)


I won paperbacks of these two books from Camelle and Maria! Thank you, ladies!

I read Frostblood in about two days ;) I won't be reviewing it on the blog, but you can check out my mini GR review HERE!

Around the Blogosphere

Aneta reviews The Daughter of the Siren Queen

Emily talks the latest about J. K. Rowling

Erica shares her Favourite Cutesy Romance Books

Esther reviews Into the Water

Amber Elise talks about the Tropes she loves

Lindsey reviews The Cruel Prince

Entertainment News

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have split
Another celebrity marriage come to an end :(

Rachel Weisz weighs in on the possibility of a female James Bond
I'm not against the idea of a female Bond, but Weisz makes an excellent statement: 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.”

Reviews are in for Jennifer Lawrence's Red Sparrow
It actually looks like a really good movie...

Coming Up...

This week, I'll be reviewing The Snowman (film), The Wife Between Us, and I'll have another Romanticised Abuse post up and a book blitz promo up, as well.

So how has your week been?! What are you reading and watching? 

Saturday, 17 February 2018


Published: January 2018 - by HarperCollins Publishers  
Pages: 436.
Genres: Adult / contemporary fiction / thriller / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mature themes / infrequent bad language
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times--and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? 

This is an extremely hard review to write. The book left me with a load of mixed feelings, and I'm still not sure if I've condensed and communicated them properly. While I like this story for the most part, I'm also left with the feeling that it's missing something. A something that stops me from saying "I love this book!" or "Wow that was amazing". It's something I can't put my finger on. Perhaps it's the language that is a tiny bit too flowery? Or that the ending climax is slightly too melodramatic? Or that the twists - excellent as they are - never quite manage to come across genuinely?
Ugh I just don't know.

But one of the things I do love about this book is its atmosphere. It is so atmospheric, breathtakingly film noir, and with details ranging from Anna's obsession with black and white films to the way the author describes and chooses props for Anna's house, I felt like I was watching an old Hitchcock thriller in my mind's eye.
But the writing is a win-lose for me. I like it, and I generally love the vividness. However it feels a bit too purple-prosey at times, and some descriptions are overdone: page 200: "the car, glossy as a shark"... page 107: " Black as a spent match inside. I yank the string beside the bare bulb. It's a deep, narrow atttic of a room, folded beach chairs slumped at the far end, tons of paint like flowerpots on the floor......Ed's toolbox sits on a shelf, pristine". I don't know if those lines give you enough of an idea, but overall I just think the language is too flowery.

Until page 116 and Anna hears The Scream, I was kinda bored. The book takes that long to get going. Perhaps it was also that the writing and characters weren't enough to grip me until the twists and action came. Although admittedly, the twists do make up for that intial slowness...
Gosh the twists are good. Finn takes the word "twist" to a whole other level with this book. When there isn't a twist, the story's not gripping, but as soon as something huge is dropped, you can't look away. The shocks are so clever and so razor-sharp. The story goes from creepy to deathly creepy in the blink of an eye. It's excellent.

“If there's one thing I've learned in all my time working with children, if I could whittle those years down to a single revelation, it's this: They are extraordinarily resilient. They can withstand neglect; they can survive abuse; they can endure, even thrive, where adults would collapse like umbrellas.”

Anna is a compelling heroine and I love how unreliable she is. Her story and past are heartbreaking, and I almost cried reading about it. It's so painful.
But the secondary characters could be stronger. They never give the impression of being fully three-dimensional human beings, and I really wish they had more personally and vividness. The whole cast just needs a bit more...punch.

The book is similar to The Girl on the Train. I thought it'd be useful to mention that. Anna is an alcoholic, an unreliable narrator, and the whole premise of her not being believed rings very close to TGOTT idea. This story does take its own path, though - thankfully - but the similarities are hard to miss.

The Woman in the Window is an atmospheric thriller jabbed with terrifying twists and lots of heart. I recommend it for all thriller fans, despite feeling like it's missing something that could've made it magnificent. 

Friday, 16 February 2018


Published: 2017 - by Macmillan.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / fairy tales / retellings
Pages: 281.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild sexual innuendo
Format: Signed hardcover.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns. Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price. Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

I'M STILL SO OVERJOYED - AND HONOURED - THAT I GOT A SIGNED HARDCOVER OF THIS BOOK. Thank you to the incredible people at Pan Macmillan <3 As a Leigh Bardugo fan, there's nothing more exciting than a signed hardcover of one of her books. Thank you!

By now, I think all of you know that I will read whatever Leigh writes and smile about it - if not scream and squeal and possibly succumb to a book hangover. Her writing is just so. flawless. Everything about her sentences is perfect. Every word, every phrase, is magic breathed into ink. I devour her writing.

The world in these stories is beautiful. It's so imaginative, so lavish, and so deliciously colourful and fascinating. You can get lost in it, and that goes for the whole book. It's simply relaxing. It's pure, fairytale escapism.
The illustrations are also stunning. I absolutely adore the artwork, and I love, love, love how they add so much to the tales. They're beautiful and empowering. 

“We were not made to please princes.”

“This goes to show you that sometimes the unseen is not to be feared and that those meant to love us most are not always ones who do.”

My favourite short story is definitely the last one: When Water Sang Fire. It's by far the best of the lot, I think, and it certainly holds together the most powerfully. I also love the tale that's a spin on Hansel and Gretel; I love Bardugo's take on it.

But the whole book didn't blow me away. Somehow, it lacks something. None of the stories are amazingly plotted, and some are quite confusing to follow. I love it because it's Leigh and because it is a relaxing, enchanting collection, but it's not altogether incredible. Which is kinda sad :(

The Language of Thorns is a collection of gorgeously imaginative, effortlessly feminist, and darkly atmospheric short stories. As a Leigh Bardugo fan, I love it. But I do think it's missing the extra magic that takes me from loving it to LOVING it.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

My Favourite Fictional Ships

Happy Valentine's Day!! And even if you don't celebrate, just buy yourself chocolate and stuff your face. Or wait till after Valentine's Day when the chocolate isn't so expensive. Which kinda defeats my first point. But anyway.

Today I'm doing a blog post about my favourite fictional ships. I also did one last year, but my mind has changed a lot since then, so I needed to do an updated version ;)

Hope you like this post! <3

- Kaz and Inej / The Six of Crows Duology / These two are the definition of "JUST KISS ALREADY!" Their relationship is built on mutual respect, and their romance is a slow, steady burn throughout the duology. The small ways through which they show their love for one another are incredible and thoughtful, and I love how protective they are of each other. Kaz & Inej are an amazing ship. AND I NEED A THIRD BOOK FOR THAT KISS PLEASE LEIGH 

- Jasper and Alice / The Twilight Saga / Forget Edward and Bella, Jasper and Alice are the real canon of Twilight. They are so thoughtful, sweet, and protective of each other, and they support each other no matter what. They're partners in everything - it's beautiful to watch.

- Jules and Liam / Everless / THESE TWO BETTER BE CANON. They aren't even a couple in Everless, but there's definitely an implication they could be in the second book. I love the development of their relationship, their chemistry, and whenever they interact it's magical. PLEASE LET THEM BE AN ITEM IN BOOK 2 SARA

- Scarlett and Wolf / The Lunar Chronicles / AW THESE BABIES. They are so sweet and protective of each other, and they're equals through and through. They're my fave Lunar Chronicles couple, and I love how subtly they show their love for each other. They aren't a kissy-kissy or touchy couple, but their love runs deep. 

- Juliet and Declan /  Letters to the Lost / The great thing about this book is that there's almost no romance between Declan and Juliet. They're just friends; friends who have a complicated relationship, who learn so much from each other, and who come to respect and support each other. So when they do finally kiss at the end, it's a kiss that makes the wait worth it. They are probably the best example of friends-to-lovers I've ever read about. 

- Nate and Bronwen / One of Us Is Lying /  He's the bad boy, she's the girl who never breaks a rule. But their relationship is incredible, and every scene between them is swoony as heck (especially the kisses OMW). Their chemistry is amazing, but I hate how the author handled their relationship at the end of the book.  


- Tony and Pepper / The Marvel Universe / AWWW THESE TWO DARLINGS. They're my Marvel OTP, and RDJ and Gwyneth Paltrow have stunning chemistry. I love the development of Tony and Pepper's relationship, and I love when their personalities clash. It's fantastic ;)

Peter and Gwen / The Amazing Spiderman / ANDREW GARFIELD AND EMMA STONE WHY DID YOU SHATTER MY HEART. Their chemistry was off the charts, their acting made Peter and Gwen a couple to be reckoned with, and Gwen's death was a cruel but beautifully tragic finish to what they had. It hurt, but their love was invincible. I still cry to think of them.

- Emma and Killian / Once Upon A Time /  These two characters have had such an incredible journey, and YAY to them getting their happy ending! I love Emma and Killain, and I love how they compliment each other. They're both such haunted, broken human beings, but they grow so much and never give up on each other, despite being through some of the hardest trials imaginable. I just love them.

- Amy and Rory / Doctor Who / I'm convinced that seasons 5 to 7 of Doctor Who were actually just a story about Rory and Amy's relationship, because WOW did they have an amazing relationship. It was so well developed, and they went through so much together. Even though they had their fights and their ups and downs, they were passionately in love. And when Amy came to that heartbreaking choice in series 7, she still choose Rory over the Doctor. I treasure that.

- Jim and Pam / The Office / Jim and Pam's will or won't they romance lasted three long seasons, and although their finally getting together took away a bit of the magic, they were still an amazing couple. The chemistry between Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski and the way their characters struggled with their feelings for long before spilling them, made this couple one to root for. Their humour, their friendship, their partnership - it was all beautiful.

- Will and Djaq / Robin Hood / I'm not a Robin and Marian shipper or a Gisborne and Marian shipper, but I always loved Will Scarlett and Djaq together. They are so cute, so protective of each other, and the small ways their attraction for each other is hinted at throughout the series before they actually become a couple, is adorable.

- Sybil and Tom / Downton Abbey / Awww Tom and Sybil. The lady and the chauffeur. SOB. These two fought long and hard to be together, and battled social norms, furious family members, and even a world war to follow their hearts. They were equals with shared passions. When Sybil died, it was heartbreaking.

Who are your favourite fictional couples? Do you love any of the ones in this post? 
Let's chat! 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Romanticised Abuse: The Notebook

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.

Please Note: I have not read the Nicholas Sparks novel. I am only judging the movie. 

A while ago I was browsing online when I came across an article that claimed that Noah from The Notebook was a creep. I didn't read the article (never have) but my ignorant reaction was one of shock and anger. How dare they say that about Noah?! How dare they suggest his romance with Allie wasn't amazing?
But as I thought about The Notebook, the film, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And so I decided to rewatch it, keeping in mind that Noah might, well, be a creep.
What I saw literally made my jaw drop. After taking extensive notes throughout the film, I decided to speak out and write this post.
Here are the reasons why I believe Noah and Allie's relationship is not a romance.

The Ferris wheel incident / Noah and Allie meet for the first time when he comes up to her at the carnival. Their conversation goes like this:
N: "Do you wanna go out with me?"
A: "No."
N: "Why not?"
A: "Cos I don't want to."
She then walks off with her girl friend, murmuring in an uncomfortable tone, "Did you see, he was like two inches from my face?" whereas her friend replies, "That's Noah, though."
Hmm. Not cool, dude. Respect her space.
Allie then climbs onto the Ferris wheel with a guy. Noah, not one to give up easily, climbs after her and falls into their laps amid Allie's startled screams. He repeats, "Will you go out with me?" She says "No...because I don't want to", and Noah then proceeds to hang from the metal rail of their compartment, threatening to let go, until she agrees to a date.
That. Is. Not. Cool. She said no; take a hint and leave her alone. Threatening a girl to make her go on a date with you is not romantic. Watching that scene, I was also stunned by how serious and solemn it was. This wasn't a light hearted event (until she pulled his trousers down - you go, girl); Allie was genuinely angry and uncomfortable, and Noah refused to take no for an answer.

Noah confronts Allie / Noah confronts Allie in the street about the date she apparently swore she'd go on with him (she might have sworn, dude, but she screamed it while you hung from a rail threatening to let go. That's pressure). Noah refuses to let her go back on her word, and says this: "It was a stupid thing to do {the Ferris wheel incident} but I had to be next to you. I was drawn to you......when I see something I like, I got to ha - I love it. I go crazy for it." Anyone else getting serious creeper vibes from this? It doesn't sound like romance, it sounds like Noah is obsessed with Allie. It's creepy, not flattering.

First "date" / Noah and Allie's friends "set them up" on a double date to the cinema. Allie doesn't know Noah's coming, and when he shows up she honestly looks uncomfortable and distressed. She pulls her friend aside, but being the bad girl friend her friend is, her friend shrugs off her worries. At this point it is not clear that Allie has any kind of affinity towards Noah; at this point, she's simply trying to avoid him, and he and her friends are making that impossible.
However, their time at the cinema goes okay, and by the end of it Allie is obviously smitten with Noah. But that does not excuse her friends and Noah setting her up when she was genuinely uncomfortable about it, given Noah's previous behaviour.

Lying in the road / That is reckless as heck. And I hate, hate, how Noah says to Allie "you need to learn how to trust" as he convinces her to lie down in the middle of the street with him. That line and the way he says it does not sit right with me.

Allie is physically abusive / Allie frequently hits Noah, and I'm not talking a light nudge or even a slap. I'm talking beating with her fists. Once in the street, when they're arguing, she turns on him and starts hitting him. Again when he says he has to break up with her, she slaps and punches him and shoves him so hard he bangs into his truck.
There should not be another way to take this! She is being physically abusive. No doubt about it. There's verbal abuse that goes both ways, too, but it's the physical abuse that I'm more concerned about.

The letters / Allie leaves town and Noah's hurt. I get that. But the guy sends her a letter every single day for a year. She never replies, and although we as the viewers know that it's Allie's mom who's keeping them aside before Allie can read them, for all Noah knows, Allie is purposefully not relying because she's moved on. Sure, it would be hurtful, but she is entitled to. And yet that doesn't stop Noah from sending her 365 letters. Three hundred and sixty five!! Obsessed much? Noah, for all you know, she's moved on and happily so. Quit being a creep and a stalker.

Noah's unstable / Noah feels things passionately, and yes, Allie hurt him when she left. It was a cruel cutoff of the relationship they had. But....he is emotionally unstable. After he sees Allie and her fiancé together (which would hurt, obviously) the narrator follows up with: "After seeing Allie that day, something inside Noah snapped. He got the notion into his head that if he restored the house where they had come that night {slept together} Allie would find a way to come back to him. Some called it a labour of love {not me, just FYI}. Some called it something else {Yup. Toxic obsession.} But in fact, Noah had gone mad." 
And there you have it. Noah is emotionally unstable, and although I feel sorry for him, his relationship with Allie (as you can see above) is not a healthy one. This goes beyond passionate and right down to obsession and yes, abuse. Here's more proof of Noah's instability: "{When Noah finished building the house} he got rip-roaring drunk, considered setting it on fire......He told the man who offered him $5000 over his price {to buy the house} that no one in their right mind would do that and he wouldn't have a lunatic living in his house." He then scares the man and his wife off his property with a gun. 
Just... What the heck?! How can we ignore that?!

Allie visits / An engaged Allie decides to visit Noah to "see if you're alright". She and Noah have a chat, and she tells she "loves him {Lon, her fiancé} very much." They then have supper together. Allie remarks jokingly, "I have to warn you, I'm a cheap drunk. A couple more of these {beers} and you're gonna be carrying me right out of here." Noah replies, " Well you go slow then, I don't want to have to take advantage of you." Allie says, "You wouldn't dare. I'm a married woman", and Noah points out, " Not yet." EW EW EW EW EWWWW. And did you catch that "to have to"?! That's gross.
Look, Ryan Gosling is an excellent actor, and in this scene he really communicates Noah's anguish. The thing is, he says those lines in a way that's less of a joke and more darkly serious. In that scene, he acts like a psychopath, what with his tone of voice and body language. I'm not implying that Noah would take advantage of Allie if she did get drunk, but what he says and how he says it is creepy and disturbing. Knowing his psychological issues, I for one would want to run out that house then and there. It's not romantic. It's intimidating and creepy.

After Allie goes / After supper, Allie leaves the house. The narrator's voice-over tells us that, "She had come back into his life like a sudden flame.....Noah stayed up all night contemplating the certain agony he knew would be his if he were to lose her again." 
SAY WHAT? He stayed up all night?! Isn't that just a tad disturbing and worrying? The narrator isn't exaggerating, either, and knowing Noah I'm not surprised he'd do that. But is that romantic? Is that healthy? It shouldn't be! The guy is fixated with Allie.

The Notebook is unanimously one of most classic fictional romances in the Western world. But rewatching the movie, I saw not a tale of beautiful romance, but a story about toxic obsession. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams might have incredible chemistry, but their characters are not depicting a loving relationship. Noah is psychologically abusive, and Allie is phsycially abusive. I don't think this is a love story. It certainly isn't the kind I hope to be in one day.
I strongly believe that The Notebook, although well acted and well filmed, is a romanticised depiction of obsession and abusive behaviour.


Monday, 12 February 2018

SHADOWSONG (Wintersong #2) - by S. Jae-Jones

Published: 2018 - Wednesday Books.
Genres: Young adult / romance / fantasy /
Pages: 384.
Triggers/Content Advisory: The author herself includes a content warning, for which I respect her so much. There are strong themes of substance addiction and self-harm, and this book is a lot darker than the first.
Format: eARC.
Source: Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

I adored the first book in this duology, Wintersong. It ended on such a cruel but perfect note, and I immediately requested the sequel to review. I was confident that it would be just as good, if not better, than the first book.

Jae-Jones' writing is stunning. It is purple, but it's effective and it means something. It's...purple with a purpose, I guess. And considering I'm not generally a fan of purple prose, I'm surprised and delighted that Jae-Jones' style won me over. I just love her graphic choice of language.
Shadowsong is just as atmospheric as its predecessor, but in a different way. The story is darker, heavier, and it takes place in some breathtaking new settings. We get to see Liesl and her family adjusting in the wake of their experiences with the Goblin King, and Jae-Jones looks at their story from a different angle. It's enlightening and it's fresh.

The plot is slow, but it's tight. I love how the story focuses inward, focuses on the characters' internal struggles more than their external ones. There's little to no romance, and instead it's a story about Liesl's relationship with her brother and how they both - as broken people - are struggling to find themselves, heal themselves, and come to terms with who they are. It's heartbreaking, but it's beautiful and thought-provoking. There's a lot more backstory and history relating to the Goblin King's past, as well, which is needed.
I also love the strong themes of identity; how the characters face theirs, and all Jae-Jones says about the subject. I adore how the ending zooms in on exactly that, to the point of Liesl saying who she is - what makes her "Elisabeth, entire". It's a maelstrom of everything come before it; it's a catastrophe of heartbreak, of love, of sacrifice, and of identity. It is numbing, but it's perfect.

“Perhaps I loved the monstrous because I was a monster. Josef, the Goblin King, and me. We were grotesques in the world above, too different, too odd, too talented, too much. We were all too much.”

“For all that I could not bear my own silence, I wanted the voices of the world around me to disappear. Solitude was different from loneliness, and it was solitude I was seeking.”

We see so much more of these gorgeous characters in the sequel. We see more of Kathe and François, and there are two new characters as well: the Count and Countess. Everyone is vivid and three-dimensional, and the recurring characters are more fully realised. Liesl and Josef are each struggling with demons, and I love love love the development they each get. Liesl is one of my favourite YA heroines ever.
I also adore the dynamic sibling relationships between Liesl, Kathe, and Josef. They're so well written, so human, and Jae-Jones is not afraid to dig deep.

Shadowsong is a soul-stirring piece of psychological poetry taut with raw emotion. I personally prefer the first book because it's more romantic and gripping, but this sequel is still incredible.