Monthly Wrap-Up: September - October

We're almost into October and I can't believe it's nearing the end of the year. More specifically, it's getting closer to NaNoWriMo. That's been on my mind a lot recently. Now that's actually October, I'm going to have to start outlining my NaNo novel so it'll be ready for November. Eeek! Who else is going to be participating?!

In other news, I'm still watching Gilmore Girls (although not loving it as much anymore - the love interests are irritating me ;) and I'm looking forward to B99 season 5 dropping on Netflix, which should be anytime now. It's not like I'm counting the hours or obsessively checking Twitter for news or obsessively checking Netflix every few minutes and obsessively googling for dates and information every single hour.... *coughs*

Blog Posts from this month

My Favourite TV show ships
Romanticised Abuse: Sierra Burgess Is A Loser
YA novels Netflix needs to adapt asap
The WIP Diaries: I answer questions from you!
Blog Tour & Blitz: CORRUPTION

Reviews from this month

DARE YOU TO LIE - Amber Lynn Natusch.
DAMSEL - Elana K. Arnold.
NEVER FADE - Alexandra Bracken.
IN THE AFTER LIGHT - Alexandra Bracken.
HIM - Clare Empson.

A QUIET PLACE - 2018 film
THE BEGUILED - 2017 film

My favourite book this month was Damsel. My favourite film was A Quiet Place.

Happy October! Was your month a good one? What are your plans for October? Are you planning for NaNo?

2 Mini Book Reviews: HIM and DEATH IS NOT ENOUGH

HIM - Clare Empson.
Published: August 2018 - Orion.
Genres: Romance / contemporary / suspense / thriller
Pages: 352.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sex scenes / bad language / theme of rape / substance abuse
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

It all started with ... HIM.

Catherine has become mute. She has witnessed something so disturbing that she simply can't speak - not to her husband, her children, or her friends. The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past. Catherine needs to start with Him. Lucian. Catherine met the love of her life at university and was drawn into his elite circle of privileged, hedonistic friends. But one night it all falls apart and she leaves him, shattering his life forever. Still, fifteen years later, Lucian haunts every one of Catherine's quiet moments, and when they are unexpectedly reunited, their love reignites with explosive force. But they can't move on from what happened all those years ago. In fact, uncovering the truth will cause their lives to implode once again. This time, with disastrous consequences.

I was in love with Empson’s writing just from reading the synopsis on the back of the book. The style echoes that of the book, and it’s a style I love: sophisticated language, crisp short sentences, and intimate first person present tense. The only tiny thing I’m not loving is the dialogue; it’s a bit on-the-nose.

The story is slow. It doesn’t even feel like a thriller. It’s extremely character driven and relationship driven. It’s about the relationship between Lucien and Catherine, about the relationships in Lucien’s group of friends, how everyone is sleeping with everyone else and how they’re all hiding secrets and getting drunk over failed marriages and screwed relationships, and it’s all very Gatsby in that sense. The characters are vivid and tantalising – and so are their relationships. It’s sad, because they’re all so rich and spoilt and their lives are wrecks amidst drugs and drinking and sex, but it’s also extremely fascinating and entertaining.
It may not be a thriller, but it keeps you reading. It’s about love and loss and relationships. It’s about pain and heartbreak and abuse and power dynamics and perceptions of people. And personally, I love that. I just drank it up. If you’re a character-driven reader, you’ll enjoy it too.

SPOILER WARNING: DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED (although honestly I found this spoiler aspect predictable so it might also not be a big deal to you, just FYI):

The big thing that happens to Catherine, the thing that’s tied to the other other big thing that she witnesses and makes her go into shock, is the rape she suffers. For me, there’s just something off about the way the author writes that incident into the story. It’s too much of a plot device. It’s a catalyst for what happens between Lucien and Jack, and honestly, it’s kinda overshadowed by Lucien’s response to the incident and how he deals with it in Catherine’s behalf. Even that is kinda unsettling, because when he confronts Jack, the focus is more on “hey you did that to my girlfriend and that’s the reason we’re apart”, more than it was about Catherine’s pain and how she’s dealing with it.
Overall, I just feel like the author veered off track a bit when it came to the rape. Lucien and Catherine’s love story almost alleviates the gravity of the incident, and that doesn’t sit right with me.

DEATH IS NOT ENOUGH (Baltimore Series #6) - Karen Rose
Published: May 2018 - Headline.
Genres: Romance / suspense / action thriller / contemporary
Pages: 608.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Explicit sex scenes / violence / strong and triggering mentions/descriptions of incidents of rape.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Gwyn Weaver is as resilient as anyone could be. Having survived an attempted murder, she has rebuilt her life and reclaimed her dignity and strength. She's always known about her feelings for defence attorney Thomas Thorne, but as her friend and a colleague there could be no chance of anything more... or could there? Thorne has known violence and pain all his life. He's overcome the hardships that have been thrown at him thanks to his own steel, and the love of his loyal friends. Now he's thinking it might finally be time to let his guard down, and allow himself to let in the woman he's always admired from afar. Then Thorne's whole world is torn apart — he is found unconscious in his own bed, the lifeless body of a stranger lying next to him, her blood on his hands. Knowing Thorne could never have committed such a terrible crime, Gwyn and his friends rally round to clear his name. But this is just the beginning — the beginning of a brutal campaign to destroy Thorne, and everything he holds dear...

You know when you read a book and think, yeah this has issues but it's also got positive aspects, and then you get to a part in the book where you're like, okay I can't take this anymore the negative outweighs the bad and suddenly, in your mind, there are no positive aspects anymore because the negative aspects are just too big?
I don't know if that made any sense to you. But that's my situation with this book.

I always make an effort to keep my reviews balanced, so let's get the teeny, tiny positive aspects out of the way: The writing is not terrible, the story is fast-paced and action-packed, and the dialogue isn't bad. There. Done. Now let's get the less than serious negative aspects out of the way: the story is cheesy, filled with James Bond-esque cliches (the villain all but does that classic evil laugh, and he's basically your typical cliche mob boss who has all the cheesy catch-phrases and dramatic threats and we've seen him in almost every terrible action thriller), and the characters are stereotypical, boring, and oh so perfect. Yawn. 

Now for the rant. Thorn and Gwyn's relationship is revolting and problematic. First of all, Thorne is your stereotypical alpha-male whom every woman fawns over and every man looks up to. He's ridiculously idealised, and his treatment of Gwyn is unhealthy. He treats her like his property, and, wait for it, he pays hundreds of dollars to the guys she's asked out so that they won't go out with her because, prepare to swoon (#not) he wants her for himself. WHAT THE FREAKING HECK?? When Gwyn hears about this, she's justifiably angry, but as soon as she hears that Thorne only did it because he likes her and doesn't believe she's ready to date again (he implicitly calls her "unbalanced", because of the trauma she suffered years ago), all is forgiven. I AM JUST SO SICK SICK SICK OF THIS RUBBISH BEING CALLED ROMANCE BECAUSE IT'S SO FREAKING NOT: IT'S TOXIC, IT'S POSSESSIVE, AND IT'S INEXCUSABLE. Who the heck does Thorne think he is making those kinds of choices for her?? Who the HECK does he thinks he is deciding she's not ready to date yet??!! It's messed up!!

But it gets worse. To provide some background: almost every woman in this story has either been raped, abused, or killed, and basically all of those incidents happened to further a man's story. That's just trashy - and sexist - writing. There's also the fact that Gwyn's and multiple other women's rapes are used as plot devices. To take it a step further, Gwyn's trauma is basically only in the story to supposedly show that she's "a strong woman", and to provide emotional angst in her relationship with Thorne. It's all about them, how he wants to protect her and "fix her", and it's all extremely messed up. To repeat: RAPE IS NOT A PLOT DEVICE. You don't, as this author does, throw it in left right and centre to make your female characters "appealingly broken" and now "strong". It is so, so, so, SO wrong.

This book romanticises rape.

There's more where that came from. Roundabout page 349 comes one of the most shocking scenes I have ever read - one that literally made my jaw drop. I'm still not over it; it was triggering and extremely uncomfortable. It's traumatising, for all the wrong reasons. 
I've also been back and forth about quoting passages from the awful scene in question, but I just can't bring myself to do it. It's too shocking and insensitive and embarrassing. If you really don't believe me and want proof, then I'll message you the passages privately. But they're not going up here. 
The best I can do is relay the scene to you. 

This is what happens in the scene: Gwyn is telling Thorne about the rape she suffered four years earlier. Stemming from terribly written characters and problematic inclusion of such an incident in the first place, it's already in a bad place, but the author takes it a gigantic leap further by romanticising the whole incident. Throughout the scene, we as the reader are forced to watch Thorne's reaction and to see him get all angry/protective of Gwyn. But hey: there's a line between a guy getting protective of his girlfriend who's been attacked and an author who's including the incident just so that the guy can get protective of his girlfriend. Karen Rose crosses that line. It's infuriating, because it's not about Thorne and it's certainly not about how swoony his protectiveness of Gwyn is. That just negates the seriousness of the assault. It's wrong.

The author also uses ridiculous language and phrases to get romantic drama out of the incident. While it makes me sick typing "drama", unfortunately that's how it's written. The author is clearly not aware of the gravity of what she's writing about, and that's most obvious when the dialogue starts; it is extremely romanticised and blithe, to the point where I literally could not believe what I was reading. It's so clueless and insensitive. It's a mess.

This was a hard review to write and I hope I've managed to make some sense. 

Book Blitz and Blog Tour: CORRUPTION - by Elizabeth Ducie

I'm excited to be spotlighting this book today! Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity.  

Out of fear. Out of greed. Out of evil. Corruption springs from many roots. Teenagers fall prey to a deadly new drug craze sweeping across Russia. Pharmaceuticals destined for Africa turn up on the backstreets of Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok. Regulator Suzanne Jones and her sister, Charlie, fight to stop the pushers before more kids die. But will their discoveries mean a friend goes to prison? And are they putting their loved ones in danger? With old adversaries and surprising new allies, the Jones sisters face their toughest challenge to date. The heart-stopping final episode in the Suzanne Jones series of thrillers set in the sometimes murky world of international pharmaceuticals

Goodreads      /       Amazon

When Elizabeth Ducie had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years, she decided she’d like to take a break from technical writing—text books, articles and training modules—and write about some of her travel experiences instead. She took some courses in Creative Writing and discovered to her surprise that she was happier, and more successful, writing fiction than memoirs or life-writing. In 2012, she gave up the day job, and started writing full-time.

She has published three novels, three collections of short stories and a series of manuals on business skills for writers.

  Twitter  /    Facebook    /  Pinterest    /   Instagram   


Hoped you liked this post and the look of the book! Is it something you think you'd enjoy reading?  

THE BEGUILED - 2017 drama thriller film

Director: Sofia Coppola.
Cast: Nicole Kidman / Kirsten Dunst / Elle Fanning / Colin Farrell.
Score: Phoenix.
Cinematography: Philippe Le Sourd.
Content Advisory: R for violence, some gory images, and strong sexual themes and innuendoes.
Source: Rented.

The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.

I love this movie's trailer. You could say I was beguiled before I even started watching ;)  And you could also say that I quickly became un-beguiled when I actually watched the movie. Darn.

The dialogue is not great, the cinematography is average (there are some beautiful shots, but also a lot of sloppy ones), and the aesthetic is bleak: a merge of dusty pinks, smokey whites, greys, and dark greens. All the same, it's not quite the atmospheric, Gothic setting that I imagine it's supposed to be.

The movie is frustrating because it doesn't live up to its potential. The concept is brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and it's a very, very strong idea. Apparently it's also based off of a 1966 novel and a 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood, but I doubt this latest remake will make much of an impression alongside its predecessors.
It has insane potential. But the plot is not tight enough - especially not for a thriller - and if it had followed more of a "cause and effect" procedure and had not left its scenes so episodic, then I think the structure would be so, so, so much stronger and the suspense and foreboding amplified. That's what this story deserves.

The acting, despite that A-list cast, is underwhelming. Farrell is the strongest, but if the characters had been more fleshed out and better developed (or developed at all), then the actors would have had more to work with and their performances wouldn't have been so contrived.  It's the fault of the script. After all, I'm not gonna blame Kidman. She, more than anyone, deserved better.

The Beguiled isn't as bewitching as it claims to be. Despite its raw sexual intensity, the story is squandered as a result of forced performances and an extremely weak script. 

Weekly What's Up - The One Where I'm Tired

I'm typing this post on Friday afternoon, and as I sit here all I can think about is falling asleep. Lol. For some reason, I'm so drained. It could be my WIP, which is killing my spirit because it's falling apart, and it could be late nights. I'm so bad about getting to bed at a reasonable time. 

But anyhow. From Monday I'm on holiday for two weeks, so I'm looking forward to that. Hopefully I'll be able to piece my WIP back into shape, as well :) 

Posts of the Week

I answered writing questions in my WIP Diaries post!

I reviewed the final two books in The Darkest Minds trilogy.

I reviewed a horror thriller film, A Quiet Place.

Currently Reading

I feel like I'm reading slowly at the moment...for some reason I haven't been in a very bookish mood.


I am so excited to read these two lovelies!

How has your week been? Did you get any bookmail? What are you reading and watching? 

A QUIET PLACE - 2018 horror thriller film

Director: John Krasinski.
Cast: John Krasinski / Emily Blunt / Millicent Simmonds / Noah Jupe.
Score: Marco Beltrami.
Cinematography: Charlotte Bruus Christensen.
Content Advisory: PG 13 for terror and some bloody images.
Source: Rented.

In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

Normally, I don't watch horror movies. But because this one is directed by John Krasinski and because he and Blunt star in it together (WHICH IS SOMETHING I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR IN FOREVER), I had to make an exception.

Krasinski showcases an impressive directorial debut. Having watched interviews with him about the film, heard how close it is to his heart, how passionate he is about it, I also feel like I have a greater appreciation for his work. I know that's how most directors must feel about their projects, but I found Krasinski's experience particularly interesting and inspiring. I can't wait to see what he does next.
The soundtrack is breathtaking. One minute it's tentatively beautiful, the next a crescendo of emotion and urgency. In addition, the frequent lack of sound is also smart and extremely powerful. Sound - and silence - is a big part of this film, and they play with that effectively.
The cinematography is stellar. You feel as if you're spying on the characters, and it's a consistently tilting spectrum of intimate and removed.

To be honest, I feel like A Quiet Place would be considered very tame as far as horror movies go. It ties your stomach up in knots and it is extremely tense, but there's no "AH I'M SO SCARED I'M GONNA FAINT" moments. I'm a big scaredy-cat, but all I felt was hectic tension, sweaty palms, and heartbreak. I guess it's more of a thriller?
Overall, though, I love the story. The premise is fantastic, the story is so gut-wrenching and so freaking emotional (I was a sobbing wreck by the end), and the relationships between the children and the parents are probed at enough that they have some depth. They could've been more fleshed out, but it's still more than a typical horror film would give you.

My only big issue with the characters is the parents. Whereas the kids' personalities are clear from the first few scenes, the parents remain rather one-dimensional. I would have liked to have seen more to their characters and their history. Unfortunately, they're flat. And it's a pity because with actors like Blunt and Krasinski, they deserved more.
Which brings me to: The acting is exceptional. Those children are amazing (yay for child actors who can actually act) and Blunt is magnificent as always.

But the film isn’t perfect. There are a number of aggravating plot issues and illogical writing choices; the primary one being that the actual details of the creatures' hearing and their weakness/connection to the daughter's hearing aid device, is never properly explained. By the end, we still don't have a clear understanding of how it all works. It's poorly developed.

Another example of illogical writing: when Krasinski’s character leaves the safety of the bunker to go in search of his children, why doesn’t he take his rifle – which he had just a few minutes ago – with him? He leaves it with his wife and the baby, but considering that they’re in a more secure, hidden place, it seems more practical that he take it. He’ll have more need for it, surely.
Then there’s the flood. My question: where the heck did all that water come from? Unlike the nail incident – which is beautifully foreshadowed – the pouring water comes at random and is suddenly a critical plot device. Hmm…
Another query (piece of advice?): surely when you’re walking in the wilderness and trying not to make a noise, it would be logical to have your young son – he must be about 4? – walking in front of you, or at least between both parents, where he can be supervised? Maybe don’t let him walk behind your whole group! That’s just common sense. Right?
There’s also the birth sequence. Blunt’s character goes into labour, and get this, it lasts all of a few minutes. Yes, maybe a 12 hour labour would be difficult to write into the plot, but still. Surely that could’ve been written better? The rocket goes off, the creature flees, Blunt screams, and in the next few seconds her husband is racing to save her. A shot or two later he’s cradling her and the newborn child. Say what?! It happened too fast.

A Quiet Place is a captivating, well shot, brilliantly directed and superbly acted horror thriller. It’ll make you sweat and it’ll make you sob – the balance is perfect. If not for some plot issues, it would be an excellent movie.

2 Mini Book Reviews: NEVER FADE and IN THE AFTER LIGHT

NEVER FADE (The Darkest Minds #2) - Alexandra Bracken
Published: 2013 - Quercus Children's Books
Genres: Young adult / futuristic / adventure
Pages: 560.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / child abuse
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind.
Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her. As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

This series is truly a case of "it's not you, it's me." Because if you're a die-hard sci-fi fan and you love Bracken's style of writing, I think you'll adore the series. But for me, it's just not working.

Like you probably already know, I'm not a big fan of Bracken's writing. The style isn't for me - her paragraphs are chunky and she isn't concise, and I find that that holds me back when I'm trying to enjoy the scene on the page.

The plot and characters are so boring. The story moves slowly, and it only begins to get interesting about 250 pages in when Liam shows up; he's the most compelling character by far. But the others - especially Ruby - are dull. They lack that crucial spark. They're vivid - well, the leads are; the secondary cast is unremarkable, especially the villains who are one-dimensional - but for some reason I find them bland and unoriginal.

The world is extremely uninteresting. Amidst a sea of other YA futuristic stories that involve torn apart worlds and kids strewn around the globe rebelling against the government, this particular story doesn't have enough to make it stand out.

IN THE AFTER LIGHT (The Darkest Minds #3) - Alexandra Bracken
Published: 2014 - Quercus Children's Books
Genres: Young adult / futuristic / adventure
Pages: 592.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / child abuse.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds. They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

Warning: this review isn't complimentary and I actually feel wrong writing it because I think my review amounts to little more than personal taste. It doesn't feel fair.

Okay, so I didn't enjoy the book at all. I was bored out of my mind, there's hardly any plot, the characters' actions feel passive most of the time, and there's a ton of seemingly unnecessary teen angst. The book is almost 600 pages: boy, does it feel like it.

If you've loved this series up-til now, then I'm positive you'll enjoy In The After Light. But if your reactions to the previous two books have been lukewarm  and you're now hoping for the final story to turn things around, I'll tell you now: it doesn't. At least, it didn't for me.

The WIP Diaries: I answer questions from you!

Thank you so much to Angela, Genni, Olivia, Lindsey, Zoey, and Olivia-Savannah for asking me questions about my writing process! I had such fun answering. 

Hope you like this post :)

The Questions!

How do you keep yourself motivated / make sure to complete the goals you set for yourself without giving up?

I am not a good goals setter ;) Only recently am I seriously thinking about setting goals for myself. I’m certain they’ll help, I’ve just been procrastinating.

As for motivation: watching YouTube videos on writing, and reading through motivational quotes from other writers.....those can really get me pumped to write. There's also the unquenchable desire to tell my stories and breathe life to the characters in my head. I have to tell their stories. That drives me to write.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Brainstorming! Lol that sounds like such a cop-out, but I just love envisioning all the scenes and characters in my head and playing them out like movies to see how they work. I also thoroughly enjoy outlining – I’m a neurotic organsier, so listing scenes and plotting them out is my thing ;)

Do you work on several WIPs at once, or one at a time?

Definitely more than one at a time. I don’t know if that’s always smart, but I can’t help it. The only risk is that I get carried away with a shiny new idea and start working on that when I actually should be spending all of my time on the previous book idea….It runs the risk of not finishing anything. But I try hard to balance them.

Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Inspiration just happens. Movies, books, real life…I'm perceptive and I try to be aware of what's going on around me so I can use snatches for my writing. I never know when an idea will strike.

Also, since most of my novels are fairy tale retellings, I just examine the original fairy tale and ask “what if?”. That gets me thinking and imagining, and as a result a book idea is usually born.

What's your favourite character you've written and why?

That’s like asking me to pick a child! I love all my characters so much – even the villains. But if I had had had to choose, I think I’d go with Tink (it’s a nickname btw; I haven’t decided on her real name yet) from my Peter Pan retelling. She’s fierce, twisted, broken, and sometimes downright wicked. But she’s hiding a lot of pain, and out of all my protagonists, I think I have the softest spot for her.

How do make your characters realistic? 

I draw on real life emotion and incidents I've experienced and make a note of how they made me feel so I can pass them on to my characters. I also make sure to give each of my characters a quirk - usually something random or weird - and I find that that usually adds some relatability or at least humanity to the person.

What do you find the hardest thing about writing? 

Writing! Ha.

Seriously though: it's the sitting down and writing when you hate every single word you're typing out. It's torture.

More specifically, I think it's also the quieter, slower scenes in my books. I'm big on action, so a quieter scene is usually a struggle. I mean, why can't characters punch each other and jump from moving trains all the time?

Notebooks vs. digital idea keeping: how do you organise ideas?  

Sometimes, if an idea comes out of the blue, I'll scribble it down on the nearest piece of paper or on my phone if there's no paper. But I try to get them onto my Mac at some stage, and make a Microsoft Word document for each individual idea. Then, if the idea grows and develops, I'll make a Scrivener project for it and start fleshing it out.

Do you use spreadsheets? Do you use any special programs to write? plan? brainstorm? 

I use Pinterest to get a feel, or aesthetic, for the story and characters. But otherwise I use Scrivener for everything from brainstorming to plotting to outlining to the actual writing of the book.

How do you keep your character's appearances straight? 

I have them all in my head! Their appearance is glued to their name, so I always know exactly how everyone looks if I know their name. They're not exclusive. But I also use Pinterest to cast each character; there's an image of every person there.

Where do you get your ideas from? Do you start with a "what if" scenario or with a character or with an event, or maybe with a theme/message?

Story idea and characters arrive almost simultaneously. The story idea, whether it's an incident, a setting, or a premise, can come from anywhere: movies, books, real life, or me just daydreaming. And when I get a story idea, a character usually appears at the same time. For example, when I got the idea for my Peter Pan retelling, I immediately knew that the story would be from Tinkerbell's pov and she'd be a rebellious, broken teenage girl. I even knew some of the secondary characters the book would have. 

So yeah. Inspiration can strike at any time, and if I've ever lost for a book idea, I can wrestle one from daydreaming and asking "what if?" I am literally never short for book ideas. Hopefully I'll get to write them all in the future. 

Thank you to everyone who asked me questions! If you're a writer, where do you get the inspiration for your stories? Do you use Scrivener? Do you cast your characters?

Weekly What's Up - The One Where I Write Something

I have started watching Gilmore Girls! Oh my gosh it is so much fun. The writing is so smart and witty, and the characters are deliciously eccentric and relatable. I also love how relaxing it is - it's totally feel-good and so harmless.

I actually did some writing on my WIP this week! Scrivener is amazing. It makes everything nicer. However, the day after I wrote something my whole premise kinda fell apart, so now I'm back to outlining and plotting. Darn it. I know my characters well, but the story is in shambles. Hopefully I'll be able to fix it this week :)

Posts of the Week

I talk about the romanticised behaviour in Sierra Burgess Is A Loser

I share some YA books I want Netflix to adapt for the screen!

Currently Reading

I'm taking it very slow with Shadow and Bone cos I haven't been in a fantasy mood, I'm loving Him, and I'm also going slow with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Around the Blogosphere

Angela shares 5 reasons why you'll love This Could Change Everything

Kyra reviews Caraval

Tânia shares a list of Books That Deserve More Love

Laura Patrica Rose talks about How To Define Your Personal Style

How has your week been? Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? What are you reading and watching? 

YA novels that Netflix needs to adapt ASAP

Netflix is all about YA books right now. It goes without saying that not all have been a success - and some have been successful although they don't deserve it (looking at you The Kissing Booth) but generally, rom-coms are making a comeback in the form of YA books and peeps are eating them up.

So keeping with that theme, here are some YA novels I think should be adapted asap. Most of them are rom-coms. 

Let me know your thoughts and choices in the comments!

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

"Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? 

 Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? 

 Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways."

Indian rep, an adorable enemies-to-lovers romance, witty banter, strong-willed characters, and messy family dynamics? Yes please! This book would be so so good as a film!

Netflix, make it happen. I can totally see a When Dimple Met Rishi film getting the hype of TATBILB. It could be amazing.

Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer

"Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope. 

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past. When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. 

But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart."

This isn't your average rom-com. 

It'll warm you up inside, sure, but it's also infused with an incredible amount of heart and beauty and real, relatable pain. The characters are extraordinary, their struggles are human, and the friendships are magnificent. It is such a good book - no words can do it justice. A film adaption is literally ESSENTIAL.

Geekerella - Ashley Poston 

"Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad's old costume, Elle's determined to win - unless her stepsisters get there first. 

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons - before he was famous. Now they're nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake - until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. 
But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?"

Fandoms and cuteness and mistaken identities....get on it, Netflix! This book is the perfect summer flick, and it's the kind of light, fluffy, harmless rom-com we need on our screens. It's generic enough to find an audience, yet unique enough to add something new.

But please - cast good teen actors. Otherwise this could get bad real fast. 

Keeper - Kim Chance

"When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.
After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book.

But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

 With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book."

Urban fantasy needs to make a come back, and a Keeper film could be amaaaaaazing. With the right cast, cinematographer, and director, this atmospheric small-town fantasy would be perfect and fresh and totally spellbinding.
It's a great story. If done right, it could be a great film.

Windfall - Jennifer E. Smith

"Let luck find you. Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

 At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

 As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect."

Beautifully written, unexpectedly funny, adorable, and wholeheartedly romantic. This book is pure through and through - there's literally no cussing or even slightly inappropriate content. That's rare in a YA book.

I want a film! Please Netflix! It'll be so cute. It'll make everyone feel fluffy and warm inside. I need this in my life.

American Panda - Gloria Chao

"At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. 

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. 

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?"

Okay fine. FINE. I haven't read this book yet. BUT. It looks so good and I'm obsessed with that cover (more specifically, that creamy drink). And it sounds like it'll be an awesome movie, right? And also diverse and unique and powerful?

Hopefully I'll get to read the book soon. In the meantime, make a movie Netflix.

What are some YA books you think Netflix should adapt? Do you agree with my choices?