Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Romanticised Abuse: Jeb and Alyssa in "Splintered"

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.

Today I'm drawing attention to the romanticised abuse in Splintered by A.G. Howard. It's a YA novel - the first in a trilogy - and a contemporary retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Check out the Goodreads synopsis HERE.  
Specifically, I'm going to focusing on one character from the book (Jeb) and his relationship with the heroine (Alyssa).   

Context: Jeb and Alyssa are childhood friends, but although it's clear they both have feelings for each other, Jeb is dating someone else. When Alyssa is sucked into the alternate world of Wonderland, Jeb comes with her. 
Jeb's father was abusive, and so Jeb also has that stereotypical bad boy complex where he's so tortured you're meant to forgive his over-protectiveness because he 'cares so much'. 

The following passages are examples of Jeb's relentlessly romanticised abusive behaviour. I have tried to include as much context as I can without making this post too long, but I have included page numbers so you can find them for yourself in the book if you have a copy.  I don't want you to think I'm showing Jeb's behaviour out of context - so please feel free to check the references for yourself.  

(Pages 12-13 - Alyssa has had a minor skateboard accident and is hurt. Jeb carries her) 
'"Jeb, I want to walk.".......
Jeb cradles me tighter, which makes it hard not to notice how close we are: my hands locked around his neck, his chest rubbing against my ribs....those biceps pressed to my shoulder blades and knee.

I give up fighting as he steps off the cement onto the wood planked floor.'
This makes me sick. It's the kind of thing we can see in Twilight, with Edward and Bella. Like Edward, Jeb treats Alyssa like she's a helpless little kid. Sure, she's injured, but she's told him to put her down and he just clutches her tighter. And I hate the "I give up fighting" phrase; Alyssa just gives up trying to resist, and he assumes she will because he's stronger than her. It's revolting.  

(Pages 13-14 - following on from the previous passage, Jeb and Alyssa are now outside in the car park and discussing her accident)
Jeb: '"I told you to replace your gear. Your strap's been unraveling for weeks.".....
"Actually," I say, "I should be grateful you and dad allow me to come here at all. Seeing as it's so dark, and all sorts of scary, bad things could happen to my helpless little self."
"This has nothing to do with your dad. Other than the fact that he owns a sporting goods store, which means you have no excuse for not maintaining your gear. Boarding can be dangerous."'
She's hurt herself, her knee's bleeding, and he's lecturing her on how it was totally her fault. He's letting her know she's to blame, and it's patronising and bullying.  

(Page 15 - Jeb and Alyssa are discussing her desire to move to London. Jeb doesn't want her to go.)
Jeb: '"I'm trying to be your friend. You're not ready to move so far from your dad...you'll have no one to look out for you."
"You'll be there."
"But I can't be with you every second."
"I don't need someone with me every second. I'm not a kid."
"Never said you were a kid. But you don't always make the best decisions. Case in point {referring to her skateboard accident}".....
"So I'm not allowed to make a few mistakes?"
"Not mistakes that can hurt you."'
Jeb's acting like every decision she makes has to go past him first. He's horrifically controlling; he has decided she's not allowed to go to London. I can understand her dad not wanting her to go, but Jeb's a friend - he has no right to tell her what she can and can't do.  And reminding her of her accident and how it's her fault? Buzz off, dude. 
Jeb's putting her down and making her feel stupid. That's not loving.  

(Page 83 - Jeb has come over to Alyssa's house after hearing that she's been interacting with a dodgy guy in the neighborhood, called Hitch) 
'"Al...I want you to put a stop to this Hitch thing. Whatever's going on, it's not worth..." He pauses. "Losing an important part of you."
Unbelievable. He thinks I'm such a prude he won't even say the word.
"You mean my virginity?"
"You deserve better than some one-night thing. Yo're the kind of girl who should have a commitment from a  guy who actually cares. Okay?"'
(Alyssa is then distracted by the appearance of a magical moth, and they don't continue the conversation). 
OH. MY. WORD. It's her body, you moron! How dare you - how dare you have the audacity to tell her that she shouldn't lose her virginity to this guy?! Who the heck do you think you are?! 

(Page 103 - Alyssa and Jeb have just arrived in Wonderland, and Alyssa wants to follow the white rabbit that has suddenly appeared)
'Jeb...grabs me before I can follow the creature into the hallway.
"Jeb! He's getting away!" I thrash like a wild animal.
"No." Jeb crosses my arms over my chest, then lifts me against one of the curtains on the wall so my feet dangle, pinning me there like a butterfly to a corkboard. "We're not going anywhere."'
Again, like the first example I showed you, he's treating her like a object and taking advantage of the fact he's stronger than her. 

(Page 155 - In Wonderland, Jeb and Alyssa meet Morpheus, the 'villain')
'Jeb straddles Morpheus and cinches his fingers around his neck. "I told you not to touch her {Alyssa}."'
(He then punches Morpheus) 
Jeb has anger issues. He once '"threatened to turn Brett {his sister's boyfriend} into a smashed pumpkin if I {his sister} don't get home by midnight?"' (Page 55)
It also seems like the author's chosen the fact that his father was abusive as an excuse for Jeb's behaviour. Sure, he had a terrible childhood, but if Jeb has anger issues he needs help. His fury is not excusable. He's unstable. 

(Page 185 - In Wonderland, Jeb and Alyssa talk about Morpheus)
Jeb: '"Did he touch you?"'.......
Jeb: '"He had you in his room?" A dark cloud crosses Jeb's face. "Do you swear he didn't try anything?"
Dude, she's not even your girlfriend (or a family member). And she's not your possession. Give her a little credit, and trust her. She doesn't belong to you, and what she does with her body is none of your business.  

(Page 189-190 - Jeb and Alyssa discuss Morpheus) 
'"Stop humanising the guy, Al!" Jeb slams his palm against the mirror wall'.....

Jeb: '"We're not going to argue about this, Al. That's what he wants. I won't let him do it."
Alyssa: "Do what?"
"Come between us."'
First point: There's that anger again. It's frightening.
Second: Jeb admits that the reason he's so against Morpheus is because he feels personally threatened. He thinks he already has a claim on Alyssa, and he doesn't want Morpheus messing that up.  

(Page 194 - Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus are all talking, and Morpheus is trying to convince Alyssa to help Wonderland)
'Jeb drags me behind him. "She's not having this conversation with you."'
'"Change of plans," he {Jeb} says. "Al's not going to help you play out this little game....You're sending us back {home}. Now."' 
Jeb's not even letting Alyssa speak for herself! He's treating her like a 3 year-old! 

(Page 202 - Morpheus and Alyssa and Jeb are talking, and Morpheus touches Alyssa's temple with his thumb)
'Jeb catches Morpheus's wrist midair. "No touching," Jeb snarls.' 
'No touching?' She's not a doll, you piece of garbage. She's a human being. Don't you dare say 'No touching' as if she's an inanimate object you want to keep perched on your bedroom shelf.

(Page 208 - Alyssa participates in a feast that Morpheus hosts, and Jeb watches from the side. This scene, like the rest of the book, is from Alyssa's pov)
'There's heat behind me, too, from Jeb's gaze......He warned Morpheus not to touch me.'
'He warned Morpheus not to touch me' - yeah. like you're a part of his art collection or something. It's just gross.  

(Page 239 - Alyssa and Jeb talk and reveal their feelings for each other)
Jeb: '"I dated Tae {Taelor - his girlfriend}.....to try not think of you {Alyssa}. Hoping that it might get you out of my system..."'
EW!! How is Jeb not the villain of this story?! He admits he dated another girl to try forget about Alyssa! How sick is that? Poor Taelor.

Splintered romanticises extremely unhealthy behaviour in favour of creating a supposedly swoony love interest.  In reality, the main male character treats the heroine like dirt. Jeb is a disgusting character and his relationship with Alyssa is toxic.  

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Weekly What's Up - back to school...

This week I started up with school again, and it's going alright. I also got to see a blogging friend - Ruby - on Saturday, and we had a great time at a bookshop together. 

I've also been doing quite a bit of clothes shopping this week. It's really unusual for me, because clothes are so expensive and I struggle to allow myself to spend money on them, and I've never been particularly into fashion or shopping, etc, etc. But recently I've just felt like I want to "define my style", if that make sense. I want to be more conscious about the colours and styles I wear. 
So I had a wonderful time clothes shopping ;) 

P.S. I also made a Pinterest board for my clothes style. Check it out :)   

Posts of the Week

I did a collab with Abby and we answered a bunch of Marvel related questions in preparation for the upcoming Infinity War :)

I shared some info about one of my WIPs: a spin on the King Arthur legend.

I reviewed The Hazel Wood, a book I neither loved nor disliked.

I reviewed the film Battle of The Sexes. It's an incredible movie - go watch it.

I posted two mini reviews for A Great Reckoning and The Whispering Room. Both books bored me so much.

I did two mini film reviews for Thor Ragnarok and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Currently Reading

I'm still unsure what to think of these books so far...

For Review

Got this from Netgalley! It looks really good.

Around the Blogosphere

Aimee shares some amazing resources if you're wanting to revamp your blog design!

Suzanne reviews Sky in the Deep

Erica some ideas for Author Events

Amber Elise reviews Ash Princess

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

Saturday, 21 April 2018


Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth / Tom Hiddleston / Cate Blanchett / Anthony Hopkins / Tessa Thompson / Idris Elba
Score: Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography: Javier Aguirresarobe.
Triggers/Content Advisory: PG 13 for sci-fi and fantasy violence and action, and brief suggestive material.
Source: Rented.

Thor is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, and must race against time to return to Asgard and stop Ragnarök, the destruction of his world, which is at the hands of the powerful and ruthless villain Hela.

Even though I knew it would be a light, fun film with little substance or emotional depth, I was still extremely disappointed.

Chris Hemsworth cannot do comedy, and the others struggled too - with the exception of Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston, who lit up the screen considerably every time they were present. If only we could've seen more of them.
Otherwise, the dialogue is shoddy, awkward, and cheesy. Even Cate Blanchett struggled to pull off those one-liners.
The plot is fast-paced, the action is good, and the soundtrack is awesome, but it isn't a great movie. I didn't even think it was very entertaining or fun, and for that I blame the generally cheap humour and terrible dialogue.


Director: Jake Kasdan.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson / Jack Black / Karen Gillan / Kevin Hart
Score: Henry Jackson.
Cinematography: Gyula Pados.
Triggers/Content Advisory: PG 13 for adventure action, suggestive content, and some language.
Source: Rented.

Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game.

I never saw the original Robin Williams Jumanji, but because I love Karen Gillan and because this one looked like so much fun, I decided to watch it.

Yes, it is predictable, but the story is still so fun. It's entertaining, exciting, and although the cheesy themes are ones we've seen so many times before, there's still a truth to them that never gets old. The frequent action is also awesome, and the CGI is solid. The plot is kinda episodic, but because it's meant to be a videogame, it works.
I laughed a lot. The humour is terrific. Jack Black is an absolute hoot, and he gets all the best lines. I loved how he took on Bethany's character. He owned it ;)

The characters are all enhanced stereotypes, but they're meant to be. Their performances are charming and amusing, and I liked all of them. I don't think the Rock is a good actor, but hey, he's ok in the role he's been given.


Hope you liked these reviews! 
Have you watched these movies? What do you think of them? 

Friday, 20 April 2018


A GREAT RECKONING (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12) - Louise Penny
Published: August 2016 - Sphere
Pages: 498.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mature themes / bad language
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes. Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must. And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map. Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor. The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets. For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.

This book has a lot of positives:
1: It is so atmospheric. I love the snowy setting and the chilling tone.
2: Dialogue is realistic and sharp.
3: The writing is punchy and eloquent, with short sentences.
4: There's good, dynamic tension between all the characters.
5: The mysteries are clever, and they're seamlessly revealed.
6: I love the relationship between Armand and his wife, Reine-Marie.

But there are negatives, too:
1: The cast is so, so, so big. I couldn't keep track of everyone. It's a waste of some genuinely compelling personalities.
2: There's diversity. Nathaniel (and Jacques, I think?) are gay, and Huifen is Chinese.
3: The story is sooooooooooooooooooo slow. I was so, utterly, completely, bored. It kinda undid all the good elements of the story for me.


THE WHISPERING ROOM (Jane Hawk #2) - Dean Koontz
Published: December 2017 - HarperCollins.
Pages: 528.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / bad language
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacherCora Gundersun takes her own life, and many others', in a shocking act ofcarnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, itseems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better. In the wake of her husband's inexplicable suicide - and the equallymysterious deaths of scores of other unlikely individuals - Jane picks up thetrail of a secret cabal of powerful players using a terrifying technologicalbreakthrough to gain power for their own monstrous ends. But these people neverbanked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue - and become thenation's most wanted fugitive - in order to derail their plans. Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-oldson she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator.Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls acrossthem.

I tried with this book. I really, really tried. And if it hadn't been against my unspoken rule that I will never DNF a book, I would've definitely DNF-ed.

The writing is over-descriptive. It is so heavy, there are so many ridiculous details, and it's not concise at all. Honestly, I don't want to know every teeny tiny minuscule detail - especially when it's supposed to be a thriller. I mean come on. The author over-describes every. single. thing, and I was literally itching to throw the book across the room.

The dialogue is melodramatic. It's like the author's trying to make it smooth and slick and cool, but instead he's just trying too hard. It's cheesy.
(Just FYI: There's very little dialogue at all. So get used to large chunks of boring text over-describing the atoms in the room. (That's is a teeny little exaggeration there, just btw).  

The book is extremely boring. I didn't care for any of the thinly drawn characters or their problems, and the writing killed everything. There's little action, little dialogue, and too many unnecessary words.

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

Thursday, 19 April 2018

BATTLE OF THE SEXES (film) is sublime entertainment

Directors: Jonathan Dayton / Valerie Faris
Cast: Emma Stone / Steve Carell / Alan Cumming / Andrea Riseborough
Score: Nicholas Britell.
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren.
Content Advisory: PG13 for a sex scene, sexual content, and partial nudity.
Source: Rented.

The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs.

This is the most I've ever been interested in tennis. I didn't expect to love this film as much as I ended up doing.

The music is beautiful, the cinematography is breathtaking (Sandgren did La La Land - you can tell immediately) and the sets are radiant. The use of colour is amazing, the dialogue is rich, and every scene is saturated with an amber tone that dates the story in the 70's. It's atmospheric, and it sweeps you into the time period. I absolutely loved drinking in the scenes and the stunning sets. They're incredible.

What a story. I laughed, I had tears in my eyes, I was furious, I was triumphant. I could almost feel the weight King was carrying when she walked out onto that court with everything to prove, and I am so empowered by her victory and her fierce determination. She fought for women in a man's world, and when she played Riggs she was fighting for women everywhere. It's both heartbreaking and inspiring to watch.
The plot is fast-paced, entertaining, and utterly engrossing. I was glued to the screen. Towards the end the story becomes extremely hard-hitting - with aching emotion - and my heart was pounding for King. She won against Riggs, but her story is bittersweet. Seeing her break down in the locker rooms after the match made me realise just how much pressure she must have been under. It made me admire her even more.

The cast is excellent. Everyone is on their A-game. Steve Carell is brilliant as always, but it's Emma Stone who is especially captivating. She's so immersed in the character, and her subtle facial expressions are particularly riveting. Sarah Silverman as Gladys is also a standout.

Battle of the Sexes is a game of pain and beauty, of fear and bravery, of love and triumph. The cast is wonderful, the production is lavish, and the script is excellent. It's a fanatically entertaining and moving film.