Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Hello Readers,

I would like to say thank you Harper Teen for sending me an ARC of Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar for free in exchange for an honest review. 

I was sold as soon as I read the main character was half star and half human. Thankfully the book didn’t disappoint.

Sheetal has always had to hide her identity as a half-star by dying her silver hair strands and trying to ignore the Starsong that flows through her. But she now has to embrace her star side because she must go to the celestial court to try to save her father after he has fallen ill. When Sheetal arrives at the Celestial Court, she has to take part in a magical competition as a representative for her family and erm no pressure at all but she needs to win. 

The discoveries she makes, the secrets that are unravelled, and the ancestry she did not know influence and develop her character to make her a realistic and relatable. Sheetal makes decisions out of desperation and love and her flawed personality makes her easy to understand. Throughout this book, Sheetal can feel her body change and becoming more and more of a star. This reflects her inner struggle with her own identity and being caught between two possibilities. Sheetal feels like she is a lot more than a “normal” human and is done pretending she is lesser, but on the flip side, she feels insecure and like she is not enough when pitted against the beauty and magical standards of other stars.

I'm not an own voices reader or reviewer for this book but what I can say it was a pleasure to learn more about Hindu mythology and the nakshatras. From my perspective, as a none own voice reader I think the inspiration from Hindu mythology is effortlessly woven throughout the book. Nothing in my opinion comes across as forced or there just to be appropriate (I'm not pointing any fingers).  

The writing style of this book is beautiful and all the descriptions, of music, setting, food, were stunning. I loved seeing the appreciation for art and all its different forms. Puppeteering and embroidery were just the start of the art forms featured in this book. There is also a slight nod to how much is taken from other cultures under the disguise of the word “muse”. The imagery that Shveta has created in this book is surreal and otherworldly the writing pulls you in and is immersive.

I adore how strong both familial ties and friendship were and I think the book does an amazing job of depicting the complicated a sometimes-messy feeling of being a family. While there is a romantic element to this story, it doesn't overshadows the story or any of the other relationships in the book. None of the characters in this book are perfect, and that's what's so amazing about them and it makes them easy to relate to and gives them an added layer of believability. They betray each other, they lie to each other, but they also love and protect each other.

The book does a wonderful job exploring the themes of legacy, identity and how it's important to own our mistakes and flaws as much as our accomplishments. This book has a little for everyone we have some magic, a splash romance, a sprinkle personal discovery and how important your culture can be. This book is immersive and you can’t help but be in awe at the magical world she has created.  

L x

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Monday, 28 September 2020

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (Gifted)

Hello Readers,

Thank you, Stephen, Jamie, Tor for sending me a physically copy of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini for free in exchange for an honest review.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (To Sleep) is pretty epic in all senses of the word. The years of research, writing, re-writing and editing that went into it is incredible. Please don’t be put off by the size of this book you’ll be robbing yourself of a brilliant book and adventure. I know it can seem daunting but risk it. If you follow me on Instagram you know I couldn't read To Sleep fast enough as the drama comes thick and fast in a thoroughly binge-worthy way.

Christopher makes sure you feel the vastness of space, the danger of each encounter and the deep unknown. Set approximately 250-years in the future, To Sleep features interstellar travel to planets and space stations, space battles, aliens and sentient life but the subtle and occasional humour and banter helps you power through this binge-worthy book. It also adds a whole new level of character development and it also makes characters seem more real; they were reacting exactly how you would expect someone to react to such crazy and dire circumstances. This story is so vast, there is so much that happens from the first time we meet Kira to the stunning conclusion.

Kira Navárez has always been fascinated by the outer worlds specifically, life on other planets. She's spent her life travelling to the edges of the known universe to categorize and learn from the microbes and other creatures. Let’s be honest who isn’t slightly jealous like sign me up give me enough books see ya later. Kira is about to finish her work on an uncolonized planet when one misstep changes her life entirely. She stumbles upon an ancient alien relic and joy turns into terror as the alien relic turns out to be a little more than she bargained for. 

This book kept me guessing and that was part of the delight of reading this book. Additionally, the world-building can easily sweep you off your feet and carry you through this book effortlessly. It's a beautifully written book, overflowing with poignant moments and even at 800 odd pages I still wanted more. I loved delving into this world and cannot wait for the next book (No pressure). This book is going to be perfect as the nights draw in earlier and it gets colder.

L x

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Sunday, 27 September 2020

Christmas gift guide 2020 (AD)

Hello Readers,

Yes, I am this organised this year surprise!! Yes, I know I am early but you know how excited I get for Halloween and I will forget to organise it on time like I have the last two years. See that I’m learning! As with last year’s guide I have worked with some of the brands I am including as always, I will disclose this after the company’s name in the subheading and they haven’t asked me to include them. I will also be including links to socials instead of the store so you can see all the beautiful things they make yourself. Okay one had but I put a call out on twitter and I will disclose this too. So now all the admin is out the way here we go…

Hulu (Gifted Product)

Hulu’s Candles, Snap Bars and Melts are made from Soy wax and are hand-poured in Yorkshire. If you missed my review of my care package, I was kindly sent I’ll link it here. I've already mentioned the Candles, Snap Bars and Melts but it would be rude to not also mention the Bath Salts, Reed Diffusers and Bath Bombs. Also, bonus points Hulu’s products are posted in recyclable containers and even the bubble wrap is biodegradable.

The Onyx Studio (Friends New Store)

The Onyx Studio has no idea they are on my gift guide surprise! The Onyx Studio is an Etsy store that is all about resin from combs, coasters to earrings they have you covered. I am so in love with the store and I keep checking in to see the new designs.

Crafts from The Spare Room (Gifted Product)

Crafts from The Spare Room makes the cutest book sleeves I’m not just saying that because I was gifted a bat one. I love checking her Instagram to see all the new fabrics so fellow book worms keep your eyes out. Crafts from The Spare Room also makes beautiful cards, gift tags and so much more. Everything is beautifully handmade and I can vouch the book sleeves can take a bit of abuse.

Awfully Posh (Gifted Product)

Awfully Posh has hit the balance perfectly with their pork cracklings these pork cracklings have a delightful non-greasy texture and don’t make your fingers icky which is perfect for on the go. Buckle in, okay now you’re prepared for the ingredient list we have pork ride and salt. That is, it no rubbish, no e-numbers and no MSG. Also, no hairy bits! If you missed my review its linked it here.

Royal Creates (Friends New Store, Gifted)

It is no real secret that I am obsessed with notebooks. Well, it just so happened my wonderful friend now creates and binds their own and was cute enough to send me one cause I’m the best friend ever. They also have no idea they are on my gift guide surprise! The notebook has already been through a lot bless it and it's not given into the abuse or pressure I have put it under.

Pankhurst Gallery (Replied to my Twitter shout out)

Julia Pankhurst has always had a gift for painting and after some years at Epsom Art School, she spent a summer earning money as portrait artists. At that age where things start to get more serious, painting sadly fell to the wayside. However, in 2010 Julia rediscovered her love of painting and hasn't stopped since. I am so glad Julia did and for a little treat go to her website and hunt down Brian, you will fall in love. Julia's work is available on Greeting Cards, Mugs, Magnets and Prints.

 L x

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Beverley Allitt – True Crime Tuesday

Hello True Crime Junkies,

You can blame Mother Goose for this one. Today we are looking at Beverley Allitt, also known as the "Angel of Death". Major warning, she was a child killer. Beverley murderous spree is seen as more shocking because she would intentionally befriend the parents of her victims who entrusted their children into her care. As normal I won’t be going into any of the gory details there isn’t any need for it. I am using an image I have found through google I do not own any rights and am using the image purely for informational purposes (Fair use under the copyright act sections 29 and 30).

Beverley is a serial killer who was convicted of murdering four children, attempting to murder three other children, and causing grievous bodily harm to a further six children. The crimes were committed over a period of 59 days between February and April 1991 in the children's ward at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, Lincolnshire, where Beverley was employed as a State Enrolled Nurse.

Let us rewind a little bit... okay more like a lot to her childhood. Beverley, exhibited some worrying tendencies while growing up as one of four children, including wearing bandages and casts over wounds that she would use to draw attention to herself, without allowing the injuries to be examined.

As a teenager, Beverly began spending an excessive amount of time in hospitals with numerous physical complaints. At one point she convinced a surgeon to remove a perfectly healthy appendix which was slow to heal, as she insisted on meddling with the surgical scar. When Beverly grew suspicious of the doctors and thought they knew what she was doing she would move from one doctor to the next, so the doctors couldn’t become too familiar with her attention-seeking behaviours.

First off, I’m not an expert but though morbid curiosity and a fascination with psychology to me Beverley’s behaviour is kind of typical of Munchausen's syndrome.  Sadly, when this behaviour failed to prompt the desired reactions in others, she began to harm others.

In 1987, 18-year-old Allitt left school with just a handful of qualifications, before beginning nurse training at Grantham College. Her bizarre behaviour continued throughout her training while working at a nursing home she was suspected of smearing faeces on the walls.  Her attendance during her training was poor due to her many illnesses and as a result, she failed her nursing examinations and Beverley was the only student nurse who failed to get a job. Also, just a side note it reported Her boyfriend at that time said she was aggressive, manipulative and deceptive, claiming false pregnancies, as well as rape, before the end of the relationship.

After being turned down for positions at several hospitals, she was offered a six-month contract at Grantham & Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire. Despite being under-qualified and her history of poor attendance she was taken on at the understaffed hospital in 1991, where she began work on Ward Four, where children were cared for. For several months Beverley appeared to be keen to learn new skills but it didn’t take long before caring turned to killing. There were only two trained nurses on the day-shift and one for nights when she started, which might explain how her vicious, attention-seeking behaviour was concealed for as long as it was.

Fellow medical staff became suspicious after the death of her fourth victim. There were 25 separate “suspicious” episodes where 13 victims identified, four of whom were dead, the only common factor was the presence of Beverley Allitt at every episode. The hospital called in the police after noting the uncommonly high number of cardiac arrests happening in the children’s ward and quickly found that Beverley was the only nurse working at the time of all the attacks. She was immediately suspended from duties as investigators began to examine each individual case.

In May 1993, at Nottingham Crown Court, Beverley received 13 life sentences for the crimes. She is detained at Rampton Secure Hospital.

 L x

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Wednesday, 16 September 2020

My ability to have a period doesn’t define who I am

Hello Readers,

This one is personal and were going in deep. I have had this post written up for a while but I am finally going to share it. This obsession on whether people menstruate or what they have in their pants needs to freaking stop!!  

So more so over the last couple of months, I have seen more comments about what it means to be a woman. Someone who will not be named commented “People who menstruate’. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” Ever since this comment has surfaced it has become very clear that I am not a woman.

If you hate trans and non-binary people just say it don’t go hide behind some flimsy excuse you got of some fuckwit writer. Before people jump down my throat, I have read the essay it was pointless and I’m going to do the same thing here just with fewer words.

Periods do not invalidate trans men and non-binary people! Every time she has made her comments, I have seen more and more trans and non-binary people get harassed! How is that okay? She has personally opened the floodgates to a barrage of attacks online. I know periods aren’t the main focus but people need to realise by pushing this statement to the point they are you are hurting the women you are “Defending”.

This comment has set off a snowball of comments and opinions that only women who menstruate are women. Buckle the fuck down while I rip this shit apart!! I am not defined by my ability to have a fucking period! No woman is. Why are people so obsessed over this? If a woman at 18 needs a hysterectomy for medical reason is, she no longer a woman after that point?  Where do I fall? Cause by your logic I am not a woman?

My ovaries has tried to kill me and you may think that dramatic Nah hun lets go! I get cysts on my ovaries I have done since I was 18, so almost 10 years of my life I have had to live with my body turning against me. Do you know how long it takes to get the correct diagnosis? Do you know how many times I was hospitalised with unknown causes? Do you know how many times I was called a drug addict? Do you know my appendix almost killed me because of my history?

It took me three years to get a diagnosis even then I didn’t fit nicely into a box of Endometriosis or just cysts. So, my life became more about pain management which took another year and a half to control. I had to leave my second year of university because I missed so much because I spent so much time in and out of the hospital.

Now for anyone who is going to sit and go “Awwww she just has a bad period”. Sit down! I would leak through most menstrual products and couldn’t leave the house. I wouldn’t be able to move, eat or do anything other than sleep. One hospital visit my body was that stressed out I had to be hooked up to an ESG with a defibrillator next to me for two days because my heart was freaking the hell out, I was 19 do you know how scary that is.

 My doctor was getting that worried about my health and the stress on my body that we had started the conversation to start the process of getting a hysterectomy. It wasn’t until a specialist visited that we manage to save my ovaries and get a treatment plan that works.

We had everything under control until four years ago. That was when my appendix went funky big time now seeing as I have a history of “tummy pain” and cysts it took four days for them to work out it was actually my appendix. Yes, I was in hospital but do you know how dangerous it could have been mine almost burst. Even after reading through the paperwork that just said appendectomy and signing they then told me that if once they got in there it was my ovaries, they would be taking them. I was 23. I still remember waking up and grabbing my tummy to check for drains to check what had happened.

So here I am four years later I don’t have periods! I am still a woman! I have people I know who haven’t been as lucky and have had a hysterectomy where do they fall. You don’t get to invalidate them like that. It’s hard enough mentally as it is.  In a society that is still so judgemental on a someone’s ability to have a child you’re just adding to the internal battle they are facing not “defending”.

Once more for the people at the back If you hate trans and non-binary people just say it don’t go hide behind some flimsy excuse you got of some fuckwit writer. Also, why the fuck are you on my blog this is an LGBTQ+ safe space and always has been! Periods do not invalidate trans men and non-binary people! You are also not defending women you are putting them in a box!

I am so over this argument just say you hate trans and non-binary people and you are not defending women

L x

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Monday, 14 September 2020

The Next Innings by Rama Ramani (Blog Tour)

Hello Readers,

Thank you, bookstainfluencers and Hilton Jenkin for the blogtour invite. Thank you for joining me on my stop on the blog tour for The Next Innings by Rama Ramani grab a biscuit and a cuppa and get comfy. There is also an extract at the bottom for you.

Title: The Next Innings

Author: Rama Ramani

Genre: Suspense fiction

Release Date: September 14, 2020 on Kindle

Cover Image:

 


Synopsis:

Rama Ramani's The Next Innings is a suspense fiction novel that employs the stream-of-consciousness technique at times. It interleaves time and life of a set of people, with various twists and turns. The primary plot is setup with Vishwanathan, a life coach, living in Chennai and a young couple, Jagan and Lakshmi, moving to San Francisco. What happens when their lives intersect forms the crux of the plot. Vishwanathan lives in Maaya's Presence with his humanoid assistant, Corlexa, and his dog, Future. There is a hidden room in the mid-flight landing which has a spiral stairway. Maaya's Presence is a state-of-the-art apartment complex circular in shape and built with glass. Simple love stories can carry profound meanings too. Two Indians, Lakshmi, an educator, and Jagan, an IT engineer, bump into each other in a bus. Unknown to them, their lives are about to take on new, unexpected directions as they fall in love and move to San Francisco after marriage. Cricket is fused into the story line via the character of Sandhiya Rajalakshmi. Sandhiya achieves her dream and takes Indian Women's cricket to great heights and also leads a local Women's Premier League team, the Chennai Wolverines. She works together with Thala, who joins the team as a head coach as his next innings.

 

Author Links

Website                        Instagram


Extract 

L x

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Friday, 11 September 2020

The Extraordinary Ordinary (Film Review)

Hello Readers,

Thank you, Prophecy PR, for reaching out and for a link to watch The Extraordinary Ordinary. Also I do not own the image it is being used under fair use sections 29 and 30.

The Extraordinary Ordinary is a film by Natalie Rodriguez. Round of applause to Natalie because not only did she direct this feature film, she also wrote and produced it. The film stars Maddison Bullock, Alex Montalban, John Posey, and Ana Marte. 

It might be a surprise to hear as I have been open about it but I have anxiety with sprinkles of depression that decides to raise its ugly head now and then. I will just say if you are not in the right headspace this film might be a little much as the panic and anxiety attacks shown in the film were very realistic. But I will mention they weren’t just used as a topical device. I honestly think this film has done a great job of raising Mental Health awareness and allowing people an insight into the minds of others.

This film follows three young adults with a history of mental health issues and how they learn to cope with triggers when old wounds resurface. We also get to see a very realistic portrayal and glimpse into the life of someone experiencing PTSD. It also shows that different people cope with anxiety and depression in different ways and although it might be the same diagnosis. The film exposes the vulnerability and constant struggle of people trying to recover from traumatic events. Please don’t think this film is all doom and gloom this is also a gripping and a heart felt story. 

The film hides no secret about wanting to challenge the stigmas associated with mental health, trauma, and recovery and it has been done wonderfully. I wasn’t only impressed with the cast and their acting but also the way the film has been written as the representations feel realistic and not forced. It is clear the vision for this film has come from the heart, not someone trying to be topical or exploiting the genre. 

This film hits the realism on the head you can easily forget in moments that everyone is fighting their own battle which is what happens a lot in real life. I’ve had it happen myself when someone I know has seen a post when I’ve posted about my own mental health and they are like I had no idea. You can tell the relation between Erica and Bianca is a genuine friendship that is easy to relate too. So, another well done for this level of realism. 

I think one of the most important things to take away from this film is that it shows that you are not alone with your struggles with anxiety and depression and that the road to recovery is paved with more love, understanding, and a support structure you could have never imagined. Which can help people find their purpose and light. This film honestly shows you the value of communication and support within a group of people and how much people can overcome. 

Please watch this movie if you need a reminder you are not alone or if  you know someone who struggles with their mental health.

L x

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Wednesday, 9 September 2020

I, Ada: Ada Lovelace: Rebel. Genius. Visionary by Julia Gray (Gifted)

Hello Readers,

Thank you, Rob and Andersen Press, for sending me a physical copy of I, Ada: Ada Lovelace: Rebel. Genius. Visionary by Julia Gray for free in exchange for an honest review.

Julia Gray’s I, Ada falls is a beautiful book that lays between a biographical account and fiction. The well-balanced charm of historical facts and fiction, help fleshes out some real-life figures helping create real personalities rather than a boring list of dates and events. The fictional parts were treated respectfully and nothing was out of the realm of possibility which is a credit to the research Julia must have done.

Julia’s portrayal of Ada Lovelace was fantastic, it showed what an unusual life she led. Just a quick history lesson Ada was the daughter of Lord Bryon, and Annabella Millbanke, an accomplished mathematician. She spent much of her childhood being controlled by her mother and this book shows the strained relationship they had in a realistic way. I liked that Lord Byron was included in the story but as an accompaniment and not as a focus point (yes, I am side-eyeing you Mary Shelley movie).

Ada is desperate to learn about her father but whenever he is mentioned her mother closes up and refuses to talk about him. From an early age, Ada is under her mother’s strict control as she is determined that her daughter will stick to mathematics and steer away from poetry so she won’t grow up replicating Bryon’s shortcoming. The contrast between Ada and her mother was great and I enjoyed reading them push against each other. Both are brilliant and clever women, but they both have extremely different personalities and ideas on how best to use their knowledge and education.

The book is divided into three parts from when Ada is age five to nineteen. Ada has a strong sense of who she is throughout and with a quick mind full of ideas, she is a fun and interesting character. Ada has to contend with gossip-based on who she is which in turn has an affect on her mood and behaviour.

Reputation was one of the most important things back in the 19th century so I understand Ada's mother's point of view but I also feel so much sympathy for Ada feeling so controlled. Ada doesn’t appreciate the traditional rules for ladies in the early 19th Century and is more interested in maths, inventions and economics. In a world when females had strict rules to follow this book shows that you don’t have to accept what is expected of us, we can achieve our goals regardless.

Ada was a pioneer of her time and a role model then and for all women today as well as long after her death, she is recognised as the first computer programmer. Ada is recognised as a highly intelligent and strong young girl who tries to prove that females are just as clever and ambitious as men. You may even call her a feminist. However, she is growing up in a time when propriety, marriage and reputation were so important to how women were viewed. It is great to read about such intelligent women just trying to get by in a society ruled by men.

This is a perfect book for young people to read as it is both excellent in its own right to education about Ada but it can also inspire people to believe that anything is possible if they believe in themselves. 

L x

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Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The Philpott Fire – True Crime Tuesday

Hello Fellow Crime Junkies,

Today we are going to be looking at The Philpott Fire as always, I will not be going into any of the gruesome details. Trigger warnings for fire and child murder.

I was 19 when The Philpott Fire happened in May 2012 and I remember feeling so heartbroken like most people who heard the news. Honestly, who wouldn’t be heartbroken hearing a story of six children being murdered in a house fire. 

I can still recall watching the interviews and pleas they made for information with my mum and thinking something was off about Mick Philpott. I’m pretty sure Mother Goose said something felt off and I said: “what you expecting the next Tracie Andrews”. Less than two weeks later we would regret that whole conversation. I can also still clearly the six horse-drawn carriages and seeing the six white coffins being taken to the church.

Mick Philpott is a unique character he had countless tv and media appearances and the tabloids dubbed him "Shameless Mick" for his claims and refusal to get a job. 2007 was a big year for Mick Philpott he discussed living with 11 of his children and his wife and mistress on the ITV programme 'Ann Widecombe versus the benefit culture'. He even appeared on the Jeremy Kyle Show in the same year and was nothing but standoffish and argumentative.

Here’s an observation I have made this is my opinion I think Mick was too early to gain the fame and reputation he wanted from appearing on talk shows. He appeared back in 2007 long before Danielle Bregoli and the like who have managed to get famous for being a “Personality” on tv. I’m not saying if he had gotten the fame, he wanted he wouldn’t have done what he did but I think it possibly played a part in his justification in his mental state. He wanted to perform the miracle rescue and be the hero, imagine how much that would have boosted his ego.

Despite watching countless documentaries and listening to the criminal psychologist I just still can’t get my head around how and why? I like even now while writing this I have tears in my eyes. His mistress left him so you know what he did, he planned this whole scheme about how he was going to frame the fire on her and get custody of the 5 children the shared. If you honestly loved your children or any sort of paternal instinct how could you endanger your children that much?

Mick didn’t act alone Mairead and Mick’s friend Paul were also involved and knew of Micks plans. Even after the children had died both Mick and Mairead were seen joking about in the local pub, mick even sang karaoke. The 6 children who died were still in the morgue he even started to plan to remarry Mairead.  Honestly just even a little research into how they both reacted after the fire is enough to make you feel sick threesomes, karaoke you know all the things you do when six of your children have been murdered. 

 Here is the timeline of how this horrifically true tale of revenge played out from the event that unhinged Mick to the sentencing. 

If you would like to know more you can watch the Channel 5 documentary The Philpott Fire: 5 Years on its infuriating hearing the evidence and how calculated Mick was behind closed doors.

L x

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Friday, 4 September 2020

Mulan 2020 Review

Hello Readers,

So I have just watched Mulan on Disney+ (it finished at 1pm how’s that for a turn a round).  It was amazing!!! Side note: I do not in any way support Liu Yifei views to the point Mulan isn’t going to be mentioned other than in the title if I can help it. I do not own the image it is being used under fair use sections 29 and 30. Spoilers. 

I was 5 when the animated film came out it was the first Disney film with a strong independent female lead. It opened my 5-year-old eyes to the fact girls didn’t have to be too girly and that they could be strong. Up until this point I think I had Megara in Hercules and was still happy to Disney princess waiting to be rescued. It opened the doors for Mother Goose to show me other strong women such as Captain Janeway and Xena: Warrior Princess because of this Mulan hold a special place in my heart and how I became who I am.

Some of the problems I thought I was going to have with the film was the songs being taken out like come on how much of a power ballad is reflection…Awkward I didn’t actually mind. There are also little Easter eggs characters recite entire lyrics in scenes from the songs that have been removed which a cute little detail.

The only thing I can honestly say I only missed two scenes. The first was the whole sneaking out and cutting her hair scene but this is replaced with a father-daughter chat which is I guess adds more emotion. The second was the matchmaker scene and I can’t believe these words are going to come out of my mouth but the animation scene seems a little more plausible. Just another reminder Mushu has been replaced with a vibrant phoenix as a nod to the family’s ancestral roots. Also, a round of applause for Cricket nice little loophole. 

In this live-action remake, the namesake isn’t the only strong female character we also have Xianniang played by the talented Li Gong. The two time I am going to mention the name but Mulan is single handily upstaged by Xianniang more than once. Yes, she has been invented for the film but it gives Mulan a strong female opponent.

Xianniang embodies the vengeful bitterness of a woman misunderstood and ultimately exiled by a sexist society oh and she’s A shape-shifting hawk.  Xianniang is such a brilliant character not only has she got one of the best character arcs I’ve seen in a while and despite being so “evil” she’s way to easy to relate too. Don’t be shady I know I’m a Disney Villain.  She is portrayed wonderfully and if Disney wants to give her a standalone, I will champion it!

Böri Khan played by Jason Scott Lee is our bad guy and he is such a good bad guy and he brings a whole new layer to him that just makes him outright nasty. I think what adds to his villainy is how he explains to Xianniang, that he has promised her that when he rules China, she will no longer be an outcast. However, he needs her help to do it.

Honestly its worth a watch even for the nostalgic feels or to see why Xianniang should have a standalone.

 L x

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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Old English Co. Notebook (AD, GIFTED)

Hello Readers,

Today I am going to talk to you about the notebook I was kindly sent by Old English Co. Thank you again I also have a 15% off discount code for you guys: OESPECBR15

I have spent the last ten days running this notebook through the ringing throwing in it and out of multiple size bags to tests its durability and the notebook has held up. I know having a matte black notebook might panic come people with how easy it is to mark but my notebook has held up pretty well and hasn’t becomes scratched despite being loose in a backpack. If you follow me on Instagram you know that this is now my phone background.

I have used almost every writing instrument I own to see if I could get anything to bleed through the page and nothing went through not even a felt tip (obviously I’ve not used a sharpie). For any of stationary nerds who like myself its 100gsm ivory paper made in England using FSC certified wood.

You need to go check out the website because they have some stunning notebooks and I will be honest it was hard to pick the quote I did. It was a huge tossup between “I have no idea what I’m doing” and “Know your worth then add tax” obviously in matte black and gold foiling. There is however some brighter colour such as pastel pink, grey or white so you can find one for most colour pallets.

Old English Co. doesn’t just have notebooks they have some cute pin badges, mugs, pillowcases and cards off the top of my head. You’ll be doing yourself an injustice if you don’t go and sneak a peek. here's a link to all the stunning notebooks

L x

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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Birth of the Fae: Locked out of Heaven by Danielle Marie Orsino (Gifted)

 Hello Readers,

I would like to say thank you to HJ Book Blog for reaching out and letting me join the tour and for getting me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The story starts when the angels are locked out of Heaven with no idea why. Which as you can imagine is going to have different effects on different Angels in this book, we get a sneak peek at how the most important angels cope with losing their wings are no longer allowed back through the gates of Heaven. I honestly found it interesting to watch these angels evolve into their new species, some were light and some were dark.

The first couple of chapters are emotional, the way she describes the characters feelings of their abandonment is very heartfelt, you can feel the pain of our characters. Imagine having no names and having to find a new way to survive and exist on earth. Seeing how each side built their infrastructure was a new twist, how they each interpreted the situation was very thought-provoking and you can’t pick a side or well at least I couldn’t. I couldn’t imagine being cast out in such a way where you have no idea what you did wrong? Would you let it consume you or would you make the best out of your new situation? Are the bad actually bad or misunderstood?

There are a lot of characters that I would have liked to get to know a little better but I think that’s a personal thing.  Queen Aurora has spent time adjusting to and helping those who are stuck on earth and is considered to be Queen of “The Court of Light.” She is in charge of all factions and together they are called the Fae. The Fae are the “Fellowship Aegis of Earth.” (Aegis meaning the protectors) Where we have light there must be darkness. Meet King Jarvok who is in charge of the “Court of Dark.” He does not rule with kindness but with cruelty and his factions are mostly made up of dragons and the weepers,

As a first-time author, Danielle seems to take on an immense world, but it’s imaginative and fascinating. There is so much magic and mystery woven throughout this book that it envelops you. The care, love and attention that has gone into this book is incredible as Danielle describes everything in such detail you feel like you are there. This book takes very little effort to read which I love if you are taking me to your world don’t leave me to fill in the gaps I will stuff in locations and characters I already know whether they fit or not.

It is so easy to get lost in this world that Danielle has created and never come out. Danielle has created an entirely new magical world full of fae, mystery and wonder, oh and dragons and mermaids!!! This story is so well thought out, very thought-provoking and leaves you wanting more if were getting a book two I am so ready for it. Don’t get me wrong it's not all happiness, rainbows and unicorn farts, there is still darkness and evil that has been one in a way that remains intriguing.

This book was such a pleasure to read thank you again HJ Book Blog 

L x

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Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron (Gifted)

 Hello Readers,

First of thank you, Tandem Collective and Bloomsbury, for sending me a physical copy of Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron.

Spoilers

Imagine a world where instead of any holy literature there is the tale of Cinderella, her Prince Charming and horrible stepmother and stepsisters. What if that tale is now law and a lie?

This book was so interesting to me because this book enveloped me to the point, I was imaging what would happen if this was our reality? Could I cope with going to the ball to be leered at by men paraded around and my ability to be chosen at my first ball as my worth? Nah, Hun! Could I put my faith in a Fairy Godmother who hasn’t been seen in 200 years to make me look magical or spend almost a whole day getting ready to make it look like she did? It just sounds like a lot of effort and stress not to include the shame of not being picked at your first ball.

This book is such as easy read and people who I was on the read-along agreed as they also effortlessly read past the prompts. In fact, I read the book in about two sittings once it has it hands on you it doesn’t let go. Despite reading the press release I still kinda thought this might be a retelling and I am so glad I was wrong. It takes the Cinderella stories we know and mushes them together and adds its own unique layers that make this book so unique and complex.  In Cinderella is Dead, our heroines don't need a handsome prince to save them from dark fates they rescue themselves and shred the unjust, patriarchal systems in the process.

There are a couple of important topics woven through this tale LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights and a clear wealth divide.  The exploration of misogyny, sexism, and homophobia in this book is about as subtle as a brick to the face. But people with the same view as the villains in this book exist in the real world and we shouldn’t be fooled into only believing its only “Fictional Villains”.

Now to our protagonist Sophia, she is a great character she’s “stubborn” because doesn’t just take everything at face value. She questions the things she was taught growing up, which in this book world is very brave. She wants to live a beautiful, free life with her girlfriend, not the property of some man she doesn’t know.  Sophia is smart and has noticed the harsh reality that many of the marriages that result from the ball are anything but happy.

If Sophia refuses to attend the ball, she would ruin her family they would all be taken as forfeit which means they disappear. Sophia goes to the ball a fire burning deep in her core to rise against this unjust treatment but also with a need to protect her family. But disaster strikes, and soon Sophia is on the run with another girl.

Constance, I love her! From her fiery red hair to her freckles she is one of the best love interests I’ve read in a long time! her and Sophia complement each other beautifully. Constance is the strong badass that doesn’t have time for fools. They team up and become a fierce two-woman resistance against the king.

This is a beautiful story of bravery, and it shows that if you believe in yourself, you can move mountains. There were so many twists and turns you can see them coming, and I loved the effortless way Kalynn turned this classic fairy-tale on its head to make it a modern anthem of feminism and empowerment. Go read it!!

L x

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Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Mary Bell - True Crime Tuesday

Hello, fellow True Crime Junkies,

From the polls on social media, you guys picked paper number three…. Mary Bell (Hints in the title). I’m guessing you’re asking who is Mary Bell and why haven’t I heard of her? Mary was only 10 years old when she committed her first murder.I am in no way agreeing or condoning her actions she had a right to murder but she had a tough upbringing which is what I’m going to delve into first. I am using an image I have found through google I do not own any rights and am using the image purely for informational purposes (Fair use under the copyright act sections 29 and 30).

Mary Bell was born to Betty, a 16/17-year-old prostitute who reportedly told doctors to “take that thing away from me”. Betty was often away from home on “business” trips but her absences were periods of respite for the young Mary, who was subject to both mental and physical abuse when her mother was present.  Multiple family members and witnesses recall Betty attempting to murder Mary at only two or three years old. One-time Betty even gave the young Mary to a woman she met on the street, Betty's sister quickly recovered Mary from the stranger with little help from Betty.

Mary was also “accident-prone”; she once fell from a window, and on another occasion accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills. Some attribute the accidents to Betty’s determination to rid herself of an encumbrance, while others see accidents as the symptoms of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The Bell home, in the Scotswood area of Newcastle, was said to be filthy and sparsely furnished. At school, Mary became known as a chronic liar and a disruptive pupil. Warning skip the next paragraph yes them two lines we're going to get dark

Mary herself says Betty started to offer her up to some of her clients, and as early as four years old which means Mary was being sexually assaulted by these men.

Although Mary’s violent behaviour is noticed by those around her, nothing is done and she carries on unchecked, with terrible consequences. On May 11, 1968, Mary had been playing with a three-year-old boy when he was badly injured in a fall from the top of an air-raid shelter; his parents thought it was an accident. She also tried to strangle a little girl and suffocate her by filling her mouth with sand while her friend Norma held her down.  Although Norma is a couple of years older than Mary, she had learning difficulties and was easily led. As a result, her previous crimes, including attacks on other children at school, vandalism and theft did not attract unnecessary attention it was the perfect mix for what’s to come next.

On May 25th, 1968, on the eve of her eleventh birthday, Mary Bell strangled four-year-old Martin Brown to death in an abandoned house. This is slightly infuriating and pure police incompetence There was an empty bottle of painkillers on the floor near the body. In the absence of better information and pure laziness, they assumed Martin Brown had swallowed the pills so his death was ruled an accident. He was four years old in an old building, of course, he had an overdose, he couldn’t have possibly slipped and fallen over or you know have been murdered. Mary told her classmates that she had killed Martin Brown. But her reputation as a show-off and a liar prevented anyone from taking her claims seriously.

On July 31, two months after the first murder, Mary Bell and her friend Norma killed three-year-old Brian Howe by strangulation. When Brian’s body was finally found, the neighbourhood was panicked: two boys were dead in as many months. 

On 17 December 1968, at Newcastle Assizes, Norma was acquitted but Mary Bell was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, the jury taking their lead from her diagnosis by court-appointed psychiatrists who described her as displaying "classic symptoms of psychopathy".  Mary was initially sent to Red Bank secure unit in St. Helens, Lancashire.

After her conviction, Bell was the focus of a great deal of attention from the press and her loving caring mother repeatedly sold stories about her. Mary made her own headlines when, in September 1977, she briefly escaped from Moore Court open prison, her penalty for the escape was a loss of prison privileges for 28 days.

After serving 12 years in various jails, Mary was freed at the age of 23. She was also granted anonymity, so she could escape the media frenzy about her.  In 2001, Bell won a battle in the High Court to keep her anonymity and her daughter’s anonymity for life, something that later was updated to include Bell’s granddaughter as well.

L x

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Monday, 24 August 2020

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (Gifted Book, Book Review)

Hello Readers,

First of thank you, Lydia and Titan, for sending me a physical copy of Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland. Also, a special thank you for being kind during my mental health blip.

This is my review of the second book in the duology. The first book is called Dread Nation you can check out my review here. If you read my review of book one you know I am majorly crushing on this book.

Taking place directly after the events of Dread Nation, Jane and Katherine find themselves fleeing for their lives from Summerland as they are chased by a hoard of the undead. The story is told in two parts, the first dealing leaving behind Summerland and the journey to Nicodemus, and the events that take place there. As with the first book, Justina digs deeper into her characters, and both Jane and Katherine have a chance to shine here.

If you’ve just come for the zombies, yes, they’re there but you’ll be robbing yourself of a great story if that’s all you want, what will keep you invested in this tale is the fantastic portrayal of female friendship. Which is helped along by dual perspectives work really well. The love and loyalty between friends has been executed well and one of the most interesting parts of the book. At its heart, this book is a story of female friendship, which is a theme I will never become tired of reading. 

Just like its predecessor this book also tackled some big questions in nuanced ways that added to the plot rather than bogging it down. I absolutely loved seeing everyone struggling with the same problem. Yes, all the cities, even the ones that look safe, were faced with an overhanging threat of shamblers. But also dealing with racism, sexism and all the other horrible things that keep people not born into privilege down. 

The world-building in this book is just as incredible as its predecessor and it was fascinating to see more of this alternate United States. Rarely does a sequel match its predecessor. However, Dread Nation comes pretty close it. This book also needs a huge shout out for its diverse representation: bi character, an asexual character, an amputee character, POC characters (African American, Native American & Mexican descent). 

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a diverse own voices story by a black author. I also like the universe Justina Ireland created and would be happy to visit it again and again. Justina if you want to give me a little more, I’m ready. Also, I am still obsessed with matte and metallic books.

 L x

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Tuesday, 18 August 2020

The Botanist Lincoln Review (Discounted Event)

Hello Readers,

I would like to say thank you again to Lincoln bloggers UK for the invite to the Press/ Influencer/ VIP night. Disclaimer: The event was discounted but in no way will affect my opinion.

I was lucky enough to visit on Friday (14th August) before of its official opening this today (Tuesday 18th August). Good luck guys!! You have to visit trust me not only is the food spectacular the decor might not be to everyone’s taste but I really liked it for me it was major secret garden vibes. We were given a warm welcome and welcome drink with an edible print sheet and flower (I want to say a pansy I might be wrong).  Once upstairs the building and decor came into their own the large glass windows let in so much natural light and a delightful view looking down onto Cornhill courtyard.

Also given the fact the government are relaxing restrictions with safety protocols in place I would just like to say during our visit it was safe and clean with social distance measures put in to place and the staff was wearing face masks and sanitising regularly.  People might be put off by dining out and not being able to see their servers face but I can say even with the masks the staff were friendly, attentive and nothing was too much hassle. One thing I did notices that the wait staff had a wealth of knowledge about the food and drink which for me is always a good sign.

Luckily, I wasn’t dining alone had the wonderful Claire Bear with me. I would just like to say Claire Bear and I can eat a lot of food but portions sizes here are huge and we struggled.  Claire’s starter was the garlic bread I wish I was recording when they brought it to the table. The miniature loaf of bread was served in a miniature picnic basket it was so soft, cheesy and garlicky like what more do you want. I ordered the onion petals and it was divine the salt and pepper coating was so flavourful and crisp. But!! Next time we go we are going to share a starter.

For our mains, Claire ordered a burger with proper seasoned chunky chips and I ordered the halloumi hanging kebab (it's clear why they’re known for them) and properly seasoned fires.  They are not joking about properly seasoned chips or fries they are lush just enough salt and pepper not enough to be over baring and we had a friendly debate about whether the chips or fries were better. Claire said the burger was really good and she would order it again. The halloumi kebab was one of the best I’ve had and the garlic oil that you pour over the top was lush (Check out the video of it here). The halloumi and the vegetables came off the skewer easy which is a bonus nothing worse than a stuck kebab.

For dessert both Claire and I ordered the cookie dough, it was heavenly the chocolate chips must have been huge as we both kept finding huge pockets of melty goodness in the skillet. A personal preference from me would be a little more ice-cream but that didn’t ruin the cookie dough.

Both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails are both a must and I really can’t wait to visit again and try more from the menu. Their signature cocktail is called “The Botanist” it contains vodka, rum and elder flower. I had “The Botanist” in the non-alcoholic and it was still a wonderful flavourful drink that came beautifully decorated.

I hope everything runs smoothly tonight and I can't wait to return.

                                                                                 L x

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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Hello Readers,

I have just reread this book after watching the Hamilfilm and I didn’t think it was possible, but I love this book even more. Quick little disclaimer I got Dread Nation myself however the second book Deathless Divide was kindly sent and gifted by Titan. 


We all know I love a zombie book, but a zombie book set in the civil war. I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love these historic retellings including Abe Lincoln vampire slayer and Pride, Prejudice and Zombies. Also, another shout out to Titian for yet another stunning cover.

This is a magnificent own voice, YA historical fiction, that is unapologetic in the way that it looks at race, and consequently, racism. There are points in this book when we are in the dark underbelly of history and racism but don’t let that put you off. Dread Nation tells the story of an alternate US, in which the Civil War came to an end because of zombies.

To salvage what’s left of the US, the Civil War ends in a compromise that frees the enslaved (don’t get too excited) but forces them into combat schools that train them to slay the undead shamblers (Zombies) and protect the white upper classes. 

Even in the face of the apocalypse, it’s infuriating to read about men in positions of power being so shallow and short-sighted about their power and control (GRRRR). Just for future reference in case, anyone in power reads my little blog… Zombies (The walking dead, whatever you want to call them) don’t care about politics; they don’t care about returning the world to the “glory days”. So, stop having a pissing contest and sort out this shit out!! K thanks. In Justina’s story, the US would’ve been overrun in mere years if they had not forced enslaved children to fight their war.

I loved the main character, Jane McKeene. She is a fierce heroine and can outwit her enemies, living or dead. Jane was born to a white mother and is shipped off to the most prestigious school, Miss Preston’s, where she is trained. As just two days after she was born, “the dead rose up and started to walk on a battlefield in a small town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.”. talk about unfortunate timing.

I enjoyed following her journey from Miss Preston's to Summerland and beyond, as well as the personal development and the people she met along the way. During the day Jane trains with other girls eager to be selected as an Attendant to a wealthy white family, and at night she haunts the countryside, taking out shamblers and saving the innocent but she longs to find her way home to her mother. Humanity and survival are at the heart of the story and Jane is a bright beacon of hope, she understands the way the world works and realises that she can’t change it, but she’ll try anyway.

All the classic elements of the zombie novel are present, but boiling underneath Jane’s character and Justina’s subtext is the real history of the US through a skilful exploration of racial oppression in this alternative America. It’s a sober account of what life was like for people of colour, and especially women of colour, during the post-war years in the States.  No doubt readers to make connections with the modern-day. Take away the zombies and the training, Jane could just as easily be any young woman of colour from that period, and her experiences wouldn't have been all that different.  This book also doesn’t shy away from how shockingly life expectancy rates varied depending on the type of work, geographic location, and personality of the slaveholder.

This is honestly a must-read book get it on that ever crushing TBR! Check back for my review of book two Deathless Divide.

L x

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