The Painter and his Wife

I found this old poem I wrote a couple of  years ago. I wrote this poem about a man, who was mistreated in his final days. A woman believed to have loved him, walked away when he needed her most. It broke my heart to see that happen. Some people are just rotten to the core and only want to use people. I haven’t posted any of my poetry in a while and I’m surprised I havent shared this one yet. Here’s the story about the painter and his wife.

 

The Painter and his wife

 

“For better or for worse,

For richer or for poorer,

In sickness and in health,

Till death do you part.”

Words binding

In the eyes of God and man.

A man devoted to such vows

Sang his songs of joy,

About a painter who loved his wife.

Easier to listen,

Harder to see.

His crystal facade

Cracked under pressure,

As his wife lived

Through the bottom of a wine glass,

And the expenses of the best jewels and diamonds.

Easier to believe it was love,

When the painter loved his wife.

Harder to see this developed truth

Of growing debt and lack of love.

Then came the plague.

The painter infected.

Couldn’t speak or move,

Lost all he owned,

All that remained were his paintings,

And the love for his wife.

Through her rosy lips,

She spoke her final words;

“I didnt sign up to wipe your arse for the rest of my life.”

Down came the vows,

Down came the marriage,

Down came the man.

But never did,

The painter stop loving his wife.

 

 

 

My Opinion on Nicholas Sparks

“You read a romance story because you know what to expect. You read a love story because you don’t know what to expect” – Nicholas Sparks

Today, I decided to write an opinion piece on Nicholas Sparks. Originally, I had a blog post planned where I talk about John Green and his works. However, I still need to finish Turtles All the Way Down and i have so much more planned for that post. It’ll take some time before I post it, but I cant wait for you to read it. Instead, I wanted to delve into an author that I was obsessed with years ago. But I cant imagine reading any of his works now. This post is dedicated to the romance writer, Nicholas Sparks.

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The first time I was introduced to Nicholas Sparks works, was his book The Last Song. I read it because I knew they were making a movie with Miley Cyrus in it. I loved the book and I liked the film. Then I realized how popular his books were. This is the man who wrote The Notebook, which is considered the most popular romantic films out there. He has written heart breaking tales such as A Walk to Remember and became the face of romance novels in the early 2000s. I fell in love with his works when I was in secondary school. I read loads of his books and defended his stories. However, there was a consistent criticism I heard about him. Girls in my school said to me, “he just writes the same story over and over. Someone dies in every book he writes, mostly from cancer.”

The main consensus about Nicholas Sparks is that he tells the same story over and over and over again. As a teen, i didnt see it. I continued to read his books and watch the films based on them. Now, the only book I’ll consider going back to, would be The Last Song, the first book I was introduced to. His work became formulaic and very predictable. The love stories became cliched and uninteresting.

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The last book I read from Nicholas Sparks was The Lucky One and it was uninspired. The typical love story and instead of a loved one dying, the antagonist dies. But plot twist, he is redeemed through his death. That was a no better plot twist than the abusive husband dying at the end of Safe Haven. The stories always contain the same formula, the stories take place in the South. Boy and girl fall in love but something always gets in the way, such as money, religion etc. But it all turns out good in the end. The couple stay together but lose a loved one along the way through cancer.

After the Lucky One, I attempted to pick up a Sparks novel and read it. But I just couldn’t get through it. The stories became too predictable and no longer enthralled me as a reader. So if you were to look at his quote again;

“You read a romance story because you know what to expect. You read a love story because you don’t know what to expect.”

Nicholas Sparks claims he writes love stories. Each love story he writes should be different in their own way. However, every story he puts to print, never changes drastically. Different characters and circumstances, but the story remains eerily similar to most of his previous works. That’s not promising for any writer. A writer should evolve into different genres or at least, play with different stories with the genre. Sparks was good at writing love stories, but he has lost that talent. He just plays the same tune over and over. That turns stale after a while. I bought a few more of his books before I stopped reading him, but I cant imagine picking them up any time soon.

I’ll just always remember him as an author I loved when I was in my early teens. And I’ll pick up The Last Song every once and a while for a nostalgia read. I’m sorry if I offend any Nicholas Sparks fans, but this is my opinion. I used to be a fan, and I’m not anymore. I’d like something different from an author every time I pick up their new work. I dont want to read the same thing over and over and over again. But I’ll still watch the movies every once and a while. A little guilty pleasure romance movie wouldnt hurt.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Talk to you in the next one

 

Research: A Writer’s Best Friend

One thing I find most important when it comes to being a writer, is do your research. When it comes to a particular genre or subject, you should research it so it get the full scope of it, in order to portray it properly. I learnt this in college. As an English student, I had to research the particular time periods and theories of that time to apply to my text. For writing, I research genres, character names, or certain time periods. Currently, I’m attempting to write fantasy so I’ve been reading George R.R Martin, researching the tropes and the lore of these stories. What worked for the genre and what was a cliché?

It’s even more important to research for your book, so to plot efficiently and start the writing process in an easier way. Nanowrimo is coming up, so I have been in full swing when it comes to research. Mainly, I’m focusing on choosing names, locations and plot threads to use in my novel.

The planning for this project comes easy to me, as the setting takes place in Limerick City. So I can visit it all the time, and take inspiration of places that I go to all the time. However, I want to mention some old place that are now closed down in Limerick, so that places my story in a particular time period.

 

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From those basics, I have come up with a place and a time period to set my story in. Moreover, I know several Limerick locals, so I’ve developed more of my plan based on those as well. Research on the city becomes essential to the plot. For my novel, Limerick almost turns into it’s own character. Therefore, I need to live and breath Limerick. So I needed to look more deeply into the city, as I don’t know everything about the place.

The most difficult things for me when planning on a novel, are characters voices and how to get from point A to point B. When I am writing in the point of view of an aggressive Irish teenage girl, I need a distinctive voice. Beautiful descriptions of the city will come naturally to me. But a characters voice i struggle with everytime. So a great way to research that, is by going to a public place and listen to have people talk. Certain conversations can reinforce or add to your story. And you’ll develop your characters voice through that.

As for the plot, I always find it difficult to fill in the blanks. I have my beginning, middle and end, but I don’t have plot threads to connect them together. So I’ve been going back to my characters. What could I do for each character that will lead to the final goal, the final message? Any contrived characters delete from your draft. You feel like you are waffling, trim it down. Any plot points that go nowhere remove from the planning. And since I am writing a young adult novel, pick up a current young adult book and see what your contemporary authors did with their take on the genre. Currently, I am reading John Green’s “Turtles All the Way Down.” It puts me in that young adult feel, so that works. Another way to figure out plot points is by making out a mind map. It’ll it’ll connect characters to the plot and to each other. You’ll be able to find your progression for the story through that method.

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And another thing I do for research, is watch YouTube videos by book tubers. I wrote a post about this before, but getting tips from fellow readers and writers can help greatly with your own writing. The Youtubers I recommend to watch  would be Lindsay Cummings (she has a few advice videos on Nanowrimo prep), Sasha Alsberg, ShaelinWrites (she does calming writing vlogs, and it always gets me in the writing mood) and Kate Cavanaugh (she does a lot of writing challenges and vlogs that get you excited to write again).

I hope you enjoyed this post, and remember, research is a writers best friend. Always consult your Google search bar and YouTube recommendations for writing advice. Go out and research on people and the place for your story. And delve into the genre you want to take part in. Its daunting, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.

See you in the next post

Work in Progress #4: Nanowrimo and Two Projects

It’s been a while since I did a Work in Progress post. For the first time in a long time, I feel like writing again and getting stuck in. Writing has always been my happy place and I need some happiness in my life right now. By the time I am writing and posting this, Mental Health day just passed.

I know a few people in my life have struggled with their mental health. This year, I’ve struggled with own mental health. I might talk about that in a later post. But all I want to say to the people struggling: you are a wonderful human being. Everyone struggles and its okay to ask for help. You are not burdening anyone with your own crap. People are there to help where they can. And if you don’t have those in your life, there are professional people you can talk to you, who can help with your struggles. You are an amazing human being and you are enough 💜

Now, as for my work in progress, I have not worked on anything since my last work in progress post. My thesis took over my life and there was no way I could write my book and my thesis at the same time. My thesis is finished, so I feel compelled to work on the projects I love. The two projects I have in mind are the poetry book and my novel. Could I do them back to back?

Who knows, but I have some poems written out for the poetry books and a possible title. Well, I have a running title for that project called, “Cherophobia” which means the fear of being happy. Yeah, very bleak but it probably will change as I write more. That is only in the beginning stages of writing. Any poem that comes to me, I put it in the book. I’ll figure out which poems belong in the book later. Some poems I’ve posted on my blog will feature in this book. I’m super excited about it and it’s really personal to me. It will delve into who I am as a person and into my complicated mindset. Once I work on it more, I’ll give some points on what the project will be. I just need to figure it out more.

But the project that I most excited about, is my novel. This project has been my mind and heart for many years and I have written about my progress with this book for so long. But I have never managed to get it off the ground. I have the plans, I have the ideas. But my drive to put pen to paper hasn’t been there. This year has been a really tough year and the thought of writing anything was just not possible. But now, I feel like writing this project is good for me. Writing has always been my safe space and the only place I can be completely honest. And I really need that at the moment.

So my plan is to take part in Nanowrimo this year and crack out the first draft of this novel. I’m excited but I’m also terrified. I want to try this but I’m also scared that I’ll give up half way through. But I think it’ll be a good idea. It’ll get me to sit down, and write the project I’ve always wanted to write. 50,000 words in a month. Let’s do this.

So my current plan is to sort out more of my planning. Go back through my old notes and plan out what I am going to do for this novel. From the 1st of November, I start writing my novel. No hesitations this time. I’m getting this done. It’ll be tough but I’m super excited. I hope you come along on this journey with me, because I’ll definitely be posting about it. I just need something to drive me on. I want to end 2019 on a high note, and this project will be that. I shall be updating you on my Nanowrimo experience and continue to blog on other stuff. Hope you enjoyed this update and I’ll see you in the next post.

The Life of a Wannabe Mogul Review

This review has been a long time coming. I just finished my thesis so I feel I finally have time to catch up on some of my blog ideas that I have. But first, I need to talk about Bella Thorne’s new book, The Life of a Wannabe Mogul: Mental Disarray.

bella thorne

I first heard about this book through Instagram, I believe. Bella Thorne was posting a lot about her new book. Now, I was one of those people who was apprehensive to buy her book. I don’t know. I feel like I want to support the unknown writers so they have more of a chance to make a living as a writer. Whereas Bella Thorne has a massive following and doesn’t need this book to increase her fame.

But when I saw what she was releasing, my interest was peaked. I have been reading a lot of poetry books, so to get back into the swing of reading. So when I saw some of the style of Bella’s poetry and the use of drawings, I just knew I had to get it.

Another thing I appreciate about Bella’s book is the raw emotions and technique used. Throughout the book, it is unedited and reveals Bella’s mistakes as she picks up a pen and writes. This was intentional and thats what makes her poetry so inspiring. You know as you read that she wrote from her heart and there was little monitoring done to it.

The books discusses dark themes, such as child molestation, torn up families and self loathing. I couldn’t put it down when I started reading it. A lot of the poetry grabbed me on the first line, but there were a few that I related to a lot.

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These are a couple of poems where Bella showcases her talent to elicit emotions with her words. Its powerful stuff. She talks about how much she hates herself and how she always looks for someone else to love her, instead of her loving herself. That’s dark and I relate to that idea. It’s so hard to love yourself that you try to find that love in other people. I just want that person to tell me how they love me and how much they care. I don’t believe it myself so I’ll believe it when it comes from someone else. It’s really haunting and beautiful. And her poetry is accompanied with drawings made by bella.

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The drawings bring out the dark emotions of her poetry. And she even chose to throw words around the page to show how distorted and fractured these thoughts are. Her style represents the emotions she felt as she wrote them, such as with this piece. 20190915_122608.jpg

Overall, this book are a thrilling ride to pick up and read. I highly recommend you check it out. It is worth the money. I wont show anymore poetry from the book so you can check it out yourself. Hope you enjoyed this review. I’ll be back with regular content as my masters programme is done. I submitted my thesis and I have more free time on my hands. I have so many more blog posts planned and so much I want to share with you. Glad to be back. See you in the next post.

Let’s Talk about: Crimes of Grindelwald

Oh boy. This is going to be a fun post. For the past several months, I have been working on my Masters thesis. Its a final project in the programme, where you pick your own topic to research for several months and get graded on it. It’s similar to the final year project I had to do last year, but a little longer. Anyway, I chose to do my topic on the figure of the author in literature, and chose to analyse the author, J.K. Rowling.

 

rowling

Yes, this woman. I’m already getting annoyed just thinking about her. Now, I dont mean to say I hate Rowling. On the contrary, I consider her one of my favourite authors and she is the main reason I started writing in the first place. Thats why I chose her for my thesis. However, my respect for this woman is dwindling fast and Ill tell you why.

For my thesis, I knew I had to watch Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I hadn’t gotten a chance to watch it, and now was the perfect opportunity. I watched it for the first time several weeks ago and oh god. Why, J.K. Rowling?! I hated this movie with a passion. Why would you do this, Rowling?! And I came to find out, I am not the only one who hated this movie. Many people/fans hated this film. But I’m not here to talk about the collective thought on this film. I’m going to tell you why I hated it so much. Keep in mind that I watched this film a little while, so my thoughts are very all over the place and this will become ranty.

First thoughts:

When I first saw the trailer for this film, I was excited. I loved the first Fantastic Beasts film. I loved the story of Newt Scamander, coming to New York with a briefcase full of magical creatures and going on an adventure. The characters were so relatable and interesting, that I couldn’t help but love everyone. I also loved the character of Newt. He brought so much character to the screen, without being expressive. He plays a animal lover, without the social cues of a human. He prefers taking care of creatures, than conversing with humans. So he tends not to look people in the eye, hide away his expressions and tends to more rude towards humans. But thats what makes him a fascinating change to the original protagonist of Rowling’s stories, Harry.

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Newt just wants to find his creatures. He has no destiny to uphold. No sense of a greater duty to mankind. He serves himself and thats it. But seeing him warm to Tina, Queenie and Jacob in the first film, made me love him even more. I loved the integration of Grindelwald into the story, which showed that Fantastic Beasts connects the lore of Harry Potter. I was excited for what was in store in Crimes of Grindelwald.

Well….

The story and characters

The plot of this film was all over the place. We were following several perspectives of the film, such as, Newt, Tina, Queenie, Jacob, Grindelwald, Dumbledore, Credence and Nagini. There were too many perspectives that it clogged up the narrative. And a lot of the characters didn’t do anything to push the plot forward. For example, Newt was asked to become an Auror to help find Credence. (Why they asked a magic zoologist to help in an important mission, I dont know). He refuses, but Rowling needed him to be in Paris for some reason, so she made up the plot detail that Tina was in Paris. And thats the only reason why he goes there.

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I ship Newt and Tina as much as the next person. But it felt like Newt was misplaced throughout this film. Why does he need to be in Paris? Why does he end up at Grindelwald’s meeting at the end? He’s just there. That infuriated me. Rowling, why put sweet Newt into a narrative he shouldn’t be in? If you wanted him in the story, give him a proper reason to be there. Just like in the first film, where he was bringing the Thunderbird to Arizona. Oh wait, Rowling discredited that information in this film, when Dumbledore asked if Newt told anyone the real reason why he went to New York. Anyway, moving on. The first scene of Jacob and Queenie in this film was awful.

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Firstly, the explanation for how Jacob’s memories came back is ludicrous. He says that the potion used for the rain in the last film, only worked on bad memories. Jacob did not have bad memories since he spent the majority of them with Newt, Queenie and Tina, so the potion didn’t work on him. That contradicts the ending of the first film, when we see Jacob having no memory of the wizarding world. Also, Queenie putting a curse on Jacob so he would marry her. This was wrong on so many levels, as this is not Queenie’s character. She is too sweet to ever consider doing that to Jacob, especially if she loved him. Also, the fact that Queenie joined Grindelwald’s side. I can see it from the idea of the law against witches and non-magical people to be together. However, the fact she went to Grindelwald’s side without Jacob and with Jacob against Grindelwald, it made no sense. The point for her to agree with Grindelwald, is that shell end up with Jacob in the end. Next is Credence and Nagini.

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I loved Credence in the first film. Tragic and powerful character. He had a strong storyline in this film, with trying to find his real family. That was cool. But it also felt lacklustre with Grindelwald’s involvement. The reason he was in Paris, was because Grindelwald set a path for him to follow. Okay? And Nagini, you had no purpose in this film. Her character was pushed into the trailers and promotions of the film for nostalgia points. She only spoke 5 words throughout the whole film. She had no story. There was no development in her relationship with Credence. So when Credence joined Grindelwald’s side, she was upset. Why? The film showed no relationship. Rowling didn’t make me care about these characters, which leads me onto the next character, Leta Lestrange.

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I was excited for what her role would be in the story. What did we get?? Nothing! The first film eluded to her character and that was a great scene. It gave hints to a relationship between Newt and her. However, I got the impression that Newt had feelings for her and she didn’t reciprocate. In this film, it was the complete reversal. She is engaged to Newt’s brother, but the film presents us with flashbacks of Leta and Newt when they were kids. It looked like the film was going to push more of this deeper love between Leta and Newt. But that doesn’t happen. There were a couple of flashbacks, Leta seems interested in Newt, but Newt doesn’t seem to care. Also, her final scene where she says, “I love you” to the Scamander brothers. The film confused her relationship with Newt so much in the narrative, that I didn’t know who she was referring to. Maybe that was the intent, I dont know. It just didn’t work. Also the reveal of her murdering her brother, Corvus Lestrange was just cliched soap opera type.

Random Guy: Oh, Credence. You are our long lost brother, Corvus. The product of a sexual crime against this guy’s mother. (I dont remember this guys name, and since he served no real purpose to the film, except for giving this crap climatic revelation, it doesn’t matter).

Leta: No, he cant be Corvus. Because I killed Corvus. I swapped him with another baby because his crying annoyed me.

I am not joking. This was supposed to be the revelatory moment in the film, where we find out the identity of Credence. There is a revelation and then it gets taken away from us. Until it gets placed as the last scene in the film (ill get to that).

As for Gellert Grindelwald…

Grindelwald

I actually dont have anything bad to say about Johnny Depp’s performance. He was good in the role, even though, Rowling failed to present this seductive dictator, as she claims in interviews. As discussed above, several characters went over to his side, due to his charismatic speeches. However, as a viewer, I didn’t feel like he won me over. His discussion of the oncoming war caused by humans, felt like a crap motivation for people to come to his side. He has murdered people, and has done terrible things. But oh, he predicts the destruction of World War 2 by the humans, and that gets people to forget the evil deeds he has done.

Also how does a human war affect the wizarding world? I dont know. I guess we are going to wait for the next film, to find out.

Needless Harry Potter easter eggs

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Nicholas Flamel, why are you even here?

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Oh cool, the Philosopher’s stone appears on screen for less than 5 seconds. Why even put this in? Oh, youre not a true Harry Potter if you didn’t see this useless easter egg appear in the movie.

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Also McGonagall appears in this film. But according to Harry Potter lore, she shouldn’t be alive during the events of film. And what makes it even more hilarious, when Leta reminisces about her childhood at Hogwarts, McGonagall is there too. What is she? More than a 100 years old. Come on, Rowling.

Major mistakes on the lore

Throughout the film, its almost like Rowling doesn’t know her own world. Or she just wants to change on a whim.

First, Dumbledore is Defence against the Dark Arts teacher during the events of the film. No, he shouldn’t be. He should Transfiguration teacher. Why change it? Because its the cooler subject in Hogwarts. Jude Law tried to say that he was Defence against the Dark Arts teacher for a period of time, after he was Transfiguration professor. I love how the actor, himself, is trying to defend the mistakes of the author. Rowling never can shut up on her Twitter about meaningless information. But when it comes to a lore mistake made by her, she is noticeably silent.

Another small thing, was the fact that people can apparate onto Hogwarts grounds. According to the lore, no wizard can apparate into Hogwarts, except for Dumbledore himself. And this mistake showed up in the first trailer, before the film released. They could have fixed it, but decided to leave it in. Even after, many fans expressed their complaints about it.

Now for the biggest mistake in the film. At the end of the film, Credence discovers that he is the long lost brother of Albus Dumbledore. Now, there are so many things wrong with this revelation. How did this never get mentioned in the Harry Potter books? This would be valuable information to Dumbledore’s backstory in Deathly Hallows. How could Dumbledore fail to mention that he had a secret brother in the Kings Cross chapter in the final book. First thing, I thought was Grindelwald is lying. He has to be, because this statement makes no sense. When Dumbledore reveals all his regrets to Harry in the final book, he never mentions Credence. The only explanation is Grindelwald is lying or Dumbledore never found out.

Firstly, Rowling attempts to prove this statement is correct by the appearance of Credence’s phoenix. Albus said earlier in the film, when a Dumbledore is in need, a phoenix will come to him. So that points to Credence being a Dumbledore. However, this makes for a discrepancy in Rowling’s lore and reveals bad storytelling. Now, the next film hasn’t come out yet, therefore, answers have yet to come. But if Credence turns out to be this long lost brother, then to make the final moments in Deathly Hallows make sense, Albus must have never known he had a brother. Then where is the point of this revelation if Albus doesn’t find out he has a long lost brother??

Also I am briefly going to talk about the claimed romance between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, as I am going to get very annoyed at this point. As we understood it in the lore, Dumbledore had feelings for Grindelwald but Grindelwald never reciprocated. However, as Rowling claims in this featurette for the film:

“There was a sexual dimension to this relationship”….So did they have sex or no? But that isn’t the point. She is stating this, when the film suggests nothing of the sort. The only thing we get is a line where Dumbledore says: “We were more than just brothers.” Now, I dont want a sex scene between Johnny Depp and Jude Law. Thats not what I am getting at. But I feel like Rowling is just shoehorning information in as an attempt to make her look progressive. She isn’t concerned about her characters or her story. She just wants to maintain relevancy, by making these big claims and never proving or showcasing them. If they had such a love relationship, show it more in the films. Now, they could do it in later films, but from this sequel, I fear itll be more the same. Jumping around the subject and claiming progressive behaviour.

This movie turned into a melodrama and a hot mess, instead of a wizarding world film. And I hate it. I am sorry to Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Jude Law and every other actor who had to be a part of this terrible movie. You deserved so much better.

Apologies for this ranty post, but god, did this movie make me angry. This wont be the only time I say this, but Rowling, please stop. Keep the integrity of your story. Thats why I loved Harry Potter so much. Good story, good characters. You weren’t trying to make your story relevant or keep it in the public eye. I loved the first Fantastic Beasts film because it was a new story in a world I already knew. By placing too much relevance on Harry Potter lore, you ended up tarnishing the story of this film, and the lore with it. Please stop or just make sure the next film fixes your mistakes. You know what, just get rid of this film. Pretend it didn’t happen and start over.

Hope ye enjoyed this rant. I shall see ye in the next post.

 

International Women’s Day Book List

To celebrate international women’s day, I shall share some books that were written by strong females or books that talk about strong females. Most of these I have read, with the exception of one. The books contains themes such as femininity, female sexuality, sisterhood, sexual violence and many other themes that bring about female empowerment. Or opens up discussion about womens experiences and rights. If you are interested in these books, pick them up. They are all great books. So my choices of books for International Women’s Day are:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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New York Times bestseller Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Rupi’s collection of poetry is an amazing representation of femininity and what it means to be a woman. Her poems hit hard on topics, such as rape and sexual identity. I fell in love with every piece she put into the book and the strong illustrations Rupi created for each piece.

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games is a 2008 dystopian novel by the American writer Suzanne Collins. It is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the future, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation. This YA novel created a strong, female protagonist in Katniss Everdeen and I admired her when I read the series. I related to her cold demeanour towards strangers and how hard it is to trust. However, she is living in a dystopian society so it is harder to trust people. Katniss’ defiance against President Snow and the totalitarian state of Panem is inspiring and what you need to see every now and again from literature.

 

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

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It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family. The novel focuses on race on an Indian reservation in North Dakota, rape and the aftermath of such a tragic event. It was a powerful read, through the eyes of a child witnessing the aftermath of his mothers rape. This story of vengeance, justice and history is a brilliant book and you should give it a read.

 

The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch by Anne Enright

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Based on the true story of the beautiful Irishwoman Eliza Lynch, who, in the 1860s, became, briefly, the richest woman in the world…In Paris, Eliza is in bed with Francisco Solano Lopez, heir to the untold wealth of Paraguay. The fruit of their congress will send Eliza across the Atlantic, leading a caravan of servants, clothes, jewellery and champagne on a regal voyage down the River Parana to her glorious future in Asuncion. Together with Lopez, Eliza embarks on a series of disastrous wars that define the nation and demonstrate her power – until she discovers the true sweep of her own cruelty. Anne Enright has an amazing talent at writing fascinating women. The character of Eliza Lynch captured my imagination when reading this book. Plus she is an Irish girl, which hits home. Brilliant writing, excellent female protagonist. Give it a read.

 

Asking For It by Louise O’ Neill

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A story about sexual violence and consent. Louise O’ Neill tells a story of an unlikeable girl who had a horrific thing done to her. This book marked conversation about consent and whose to blame. The book was fascinating, as the main character was deplorable at the beginning of the book. Therefore, when she was raped, people started to claim that she asked for it. She deserved to be raped because she was a horrible person. This book delves into those dark topics that need to be discussed in the world we live today. A world where the rules of consent become blurred, where yes means no, where its okay for this to happen to someone. This will be a tough read, but it is worth picking up.

 

Daughters of the House by Michele Roberts

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Thérèse and Leonie, French and English cousins of the same age, grow up together in Normandy. Intrigued by parents’ and servants’ guilty silences and the broken shrine they find in the woods, the girls weave their own elaborate fantasies, unwittingly revealing the village secret and a deep shame that will haunt them in their adult lives. This book centres on mother-daughter relationships and sisterhood. Moreover, the religious undertones take a feminist view, when Therese goes against the patriarchy of the church. Monsieur Cure represented the patriarchal Church, where he refused to allow Therese speak and called her stupid for seeing the Virgin Mary. Whereas, Therese leads a reformed religious belief with the Virgin Mary by her side. Moreover, the question of the female sexuality and the female body becomes a central theme within the novel. Its a slow-paced one and it jumps between timelines but I highly recommend it.

 

Thats all I have for this post. If you are interested in finding more books by women, about women, check out Our Shared Shelf on Instagram. Its always posting up-coming books and circulates many books by women. Hope you enjoyed this and I shall talk to you in the next post.

 

Killing Stalking: A Review

Here comes another review. However, it isn’t a typical book. This month, I took up a manga that I discovered online, called Killing Stalking. It is a Korean manga and the story is told through visual art. I havent read that much manga, so I decided to try one. I heard about this particular manga through the grapevine on the internet. It was the new upcoming manga that became very popular. So I picked it up and….wow. After reading some of this story, I knew I had to talk about it. So thats what I am doing here.

 

*****DISCLAIMER: This manga contains graphic scenes of violent sex, rape, murder, self-harming and suicide. If you are sensitive to these topics, please dont read this manga*****

 

To avoid any graphic content, I am going to stick to the story and its characters in this review.

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Plot: Yoon Bum, a scrawny quiet boy, has a crush on one of the most popular and handsome guys in school, Sangwoo. One day, with Yoonbum’s obsession towards Sangwoo reaching its peak, Yoon Bum decides to enter Sangwoo’s home. But what he saw inside was not the Sangwoo he had dreamed of.

After reading the overview of the plot, I wanted to learn more about the characters. Yoon Bum (the stalker) discovers that the person he stalked, Sangwoo is a murderer. Bum becomes Sangwoo’s personal victim, a person for him to enslave and do as he pleases. There is torture, there is murder and there is disturbing sex. To me, the duality of a stalker and a murderer was just too fascinating to pass up. I wanted to see how this twisted relationship goes.

Bum (the stalker) 

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Bum is the perfect example of an obsessive stalker, and Stockholm syndrome victim. Bum starts the story with the line:

“There’s a guy I like. I follow his social media updates religiously. Isn’t it obvious I’d want to know about the personal life of someone I like? Its nothing to be embarrassed about. But I don’t want him to know.”

“Normally in male-female relationships, they would either date or decide to be just friends. But in my case, neither applies. I am Yoon Bum and I am a male.”

Bum begins the story with the denial of his stalking and encouraging his own unhealthy behaviour. He follows Sangwoo and breaks into his home. He becomes Sangwoo’s victim, which entails torture and mind-games. Moreover, you learn about Bum’s childhood filled with abuse and loneliness. The dark events of his past inform you as a reader and you begin to sympathize with Bum. However, there is no black and white in this story. Bum is no more innocent than his murderous captor, Sangwoo.

Sangwoo (the murderer)

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Sangwoo is the mysterious psychopath and the apple to Bum’s obsession. I love Sangwoo as a character. There is so much mystery and terror surrounding him. One minute, he can be gentle and kind. The next, he will threaten to cut your throat and toss your body away. His main tactic is manipulation. He keeps Bum as a pet, as he is aware of his obsession and he keeps him around for enjoyment. However, his intentions start to blur as the story moves forward. Why does he keep Bum for so long? A psychopath like Sangwoo surely would tire of Bum and find another victim to terrorize. But he keeps Bum around. He takes him to events, allows him to meet his friends. He integrates Bum into his life. This puts a big question mark over Sangwoo’s intentions. What does he want? His change in behaviour puts you on edge throughout the whole story. He is handsome, charismatic, but he is also short-tempered, violent and psychotic. From what I read so far, Sangwoo had a troubled past with his parents. You can see scenes, where Sangwoo’s father dominated over his mother and him. These scenes transfer to his interactions with Bum, which shows he holds onto some trauma in his past. As a reader, I still dont have all the answer surrounding Sangwoo, which makes him all the more intriguing as a character. Why does he kill people? How did he become this? So many questions still!!!

 

Things I love about it:

The artwork

Not only is the story intriguing, the artwork is beautiful. It portrays simple scenes brilliantly, in contrast with the horrifying, violent scenes. The manga artist did an amazing job, capturing the thrilling mood of the story, through their page turners. Each image cut up and spaced out to leave the suspenseful effect on the reader.

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The Story:

This manga is a suspenseful thriller through and through. Every time I turned a page, I was gripping the edge of my seat. I wanted to know what happened next. Also, the characters are fascinating. There is no black and white. Sangwoo and Bum live in the grey area. For a minute, I think I have figured out Sangwoo. But then the next minute, I am left confused about his intentions and who he is. Neither character is innocent. You are reading a story about a murderer and a stalker. Both of them are pretty bad. But it’s interesting to see the manipulations, the cat-and-mouse games played and the power dynamics between the two.

One thing I dislike about this story is the Detective plot.

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Yes, this idiot. Detective Yang Seungbae, I really didn’t like him. I understand you needed conflict in the story, besides the impending doom of Sangwoo and Bum’s relationship. And the suspicions Detective Yang had over Sangwoo was interesting, but he was working off little evidence and he was doing everything the wrong way. I dont want to get into spoilers, but he screwed up his investigation of Sangwoo and I wasn’t sad about it. At that point, I was on Sangwoo’s side. I wanted the murderer to get away, which I guess is the point. Nevertheless, I didn’t like the actions of Yang. Also his chapters were boring. I hated it, whenever I just passed an intense scene with Sangwoo and Bum, and I turn the page to find Detective Yang gracing us with his presence. I didn’t like the swapping between storylines. I would have liked it better, if Yang was a smarter character.

Character development: 

Bum and Sangwoo are the driving force to the story, and both are equally compelling. Bum, the cowardly stalker, shows depth in his dire circumstances, asking the questions what would you do if you were in his situation. The amount of times where I sat through another one of Bum’s running thoughts on escape and screaming “why wont you do it?” But he answers that for you. Sangwoo will catch me, overpower me and kill me easily. So he bids his time. He stays. He learns, but he also still obsesses. You cant teach an old dog new tricks. A stalker to Sangwoo for many years, he still remains a victim to Sangwoo’s will. Its tragic, pathetic and intriguing. No matter how pathetic Bum is, I sympathize with this stalker. The same with Sangwoo.

Throughout the story, I fear Sangwoo as much as Bum. However, I sympathize with his moments of weakness, where we dont see a murderous psychopath. This gives the reader a weakness, to believe that there is something human underneath this monster. I dont know if there is any humanity in Sangwoo. I have yet to find out. But finding out is part of the fun. The story develops these characters for you to hate and sympathize with, all at once. The story gets you to love the villains, similar to what the Netflix series, You did. Even though we knew the protagonist was committing horrible crimes, we understood his motives and started to sympathize with him.

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Another thing I am not a big fan of, is the graphic sex scenes in the manga. However, I dont let it bother me, as they do play an interesting part to the manipulation tactics in the story. Each sexual scene portrays Sangwoo and Bum’s dynamics. Who is in control in this scene? Sangwoo always has control over all aspects of Bum, including in a sexual context. However, these sexual scenes can show a change in power relations, as the manga progresses. At the beginning, Sangwoo is dominating and aggressive. He decided what to do and if it was to be done. Whereas, as the story continues, dynamics slightly shift and Bum takes control in sexual aspect. This leaves you wondering how much is Sangwoo in control of Bum? How long would Bum retain that control? And what does it mean for their toxic relationship?

Overall, the manga is an intriguing read and I recommend you read it. However, it is a tough read. As I said in the disclaimer above, the manga holds disturbing, violent scenes that if you are sensitive to content like this, than I advise you not to read it.

Thats all I have for this post this week. Hope you enjoyed it. I wanted to try something different today and I hope it pulled off. If you are interested in reading Killing Stalking, you can find it on the internet to read. It is worth the read, but be warned of the graphic scenes you will see in this manga. Hope you all had a lovely week and Ill talk to you in the next post.

 

What Literature Means to Me

Since I started my Masters programme, I have gone on a journey to delve into as much literary texts as I possibly can. Part of my course is to look at Literature and define it. What is your own definition of literature? Do you only see elitist literature as part of the canon of literature? Can only a select few of works by writers, such as the Brontë’s and Austen, be considered a part of canon? What counts as literature?

literature

This a big question in literary academia and it is quite contested. Literary critics/theorists argue that certain significant works will be considered a part of this grand literary catalogue. However, this becomes elitist. The literary canon consists mainly of classics and works that critics deem exceptional within the literary world. An example of an elitist work would be Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. 

pride and prejudice

Austen’s novel became influential for its time. I read somewhere that many male readers believed Pride & Prejudice to be women’s literature. Therefore, they didn’t take it seriously. However, Austen’s work places a new perspective on her current society and how it treated women. Moreover, she created the progressive character, Elizabeth Bennet who subverted societies thoughts of women at the time. Pride & Prejudice is up there on the elitist list of literature. However, can a series like Harry Potter, be considered elitist?

harry potter

Harry Potter would be considered popular fiction. However, does it discredit it as an influential book? As of February 2018, the books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history, and have been translated into eighty languages. The books have touched so many generations of readers. But it isn’t considered elitist. However, what a critic will think is exceptional, you may think its tripe. Therefore, the literary canon becomes subjective and the question of literature comes into question. To me, literature are works that really grapple you, works that amaze you, leave you speechless and change your view on the world.

I dont consider popular fiction, or elitist fiction when I read. I read what interests me, and what grabs me as a reader. But more importantly, I read something that teaches me something. I want a novel that doesn’t provide me with all the answers. I want to be on the tips of my toes when I read a novel, and many things to be left up to interpretation.

I had a conversation with my Gender & Sexuality professor, about this topic. She started to compare two novels: Asking For It by Louise O’ Neill and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. Both are well-known Irish novelists and both books portray similar scenes or themes. Asking For It delves into the trauma of sexual assault and the continued assaults made to the victim by society after the event. According to my professor, O’ Neill’s novel delivers a simple story with an obvious message behind it. It starts a conversation, but it doesn’t create new avenues to explore that. Whereas with Conversations with Friends, you have to read between the lines to explore the full extent of the story. The narrative is not taken on face-value. You must read further into the plot thats given to you.

And thats what literature is.

Stories that leaves you with more questions than answers. Stories that make you return to the same characters over and over again. Stories where you take away something different each time you read it. Literature insights so much emotions and intrigue. It is a beautiful form of art and knowledge. Ill find a place in the literary world. It’s my home and that’ll never change.

 

 

 

 

My Top 10 Favourite Films

Along with my love for books and writing, I love film. When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a film director. That dream is gone, but I still have a love for films. For this post, I shall talk about my top ten favourite movies. This is in no particular order and some of these choices are part of a series (I couldn’t chose what was my favourite from those series, so I just put down the series as a whole). So here are my top 10 favourite movies:

Inception

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For those of you who dont know what Inception is, the basic plot of the movie, is: A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. 

I saw this film when it first came out in cinema in 2010, and it blew my mind. The concept of dream-sharing technology was fascinating and to see it come to life on screen, was spectacular. The visual effects and the binding of realities in the dreams were beautiful to look at. Christopher Nolan shot this movie remarkably well, and it is my favourite of all his movies. The acting was amazing. DiCaprio was brilliant, but my favourite part of the movie were the interactions between Joseph Gordon Levitt and Tom Hardy in the film. Tom Hardy wasn’t known before Inception, but his presence lit up the screen. A brilliant scene-stealer. Exceptional film. Would highly recommend it.

Clouds of Sils Maria

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I may have mentioned this film in a previous post. Clouds of Sils Maria is about, a film star comes face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself while starring in a revival of the play that launched her career. 

This film is more slower-paced than Inception, but remains remarkable. The only reason I watched this film in the first place, was for Kristen Stewart. The films slow-paced narrative, made me hate it at first. But the acting and the inner conflict of the story kept me there. The interactions between Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, kept me engaged and I fell in love with their conflict. The conflict between different imaginative minds brings me back to the many conversations I had with fellow writers. Delving into the meaning of texts, and arguing different interpretations, it was refreshing to see. Kristen Stewart was phenomenal in her role as Juliette Binoche’s personal assistant, and she won the French version of an Oscar, the César award for Best Supporting Actress. If you’re into slower-paced and artsy films, check out Clouds of Sils Maria.

Harry Potter series
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As it probably was for many of you, the Harry Potter films were my childhood. I saw every film in the cinema when it came out. I bought all of the books, films and even owned a Harry Potter wand. I’m still in love with this series as a whole. The creation of the magical world onto the screen, was brilliant to see every year. Moreover, to grow up with the trio from when they were 11 to 18, was very nostalgic, and heart-warming. I love all of the films equally and I couldn’t just chose one film as my all time favourite. But my top favourite Harry Potter films would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 1.

 

A Silent Voice (Koe no katachi)

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This film is one of the darker films on my list, but it is a very important film. A Silent Voice is about, a young man who is ostracized by his classmates after he bullies a deaf girl to the point where she moves away. Years later, he sets off on a path for redemption.

The main plot of A Silent Voice, relates to a guy bullying a deaf girl. I have watched many movies about bullying such as A Girl Like Her, and Cyberbully: 

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But none of these films portrayed bullying well on screen. They either have the stereotypical pretty blond girl being the bully or a dump, innocent victim. In A Silent Voice, it portrays the dark elements of bullying, such as the effects it can have on victims and abusers. I never have sympathy for bullies, but A Silent Voice puts you in the shoes of a person, who tormented an innocent person and attempts to make things right. This film portrays bullying honestly, in a way that shows the many sides of these tragic events. Everyone plays a part in some shape of form to these horrific events, but no one speaks up. I’m going to make a blog post about this film, as there is so much to discuss around this film. But I highly recommend you watch it. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s worth the tears.

 

How to Be Single

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It may not be for everybody, but I loved this film. How to Be Single is about, a group of young adults navigating love and relationships in New York City. 

I thought the characters and storylines were really funny. Rebel Wilson was comedic gold in this film. I related to quite a few situations in the movie, and that kept me engaged throughout. Also, I really want an apartment similar to Dakota Johnson’s one in this film. It was so quant and solitary. It’s just a fun movie and if you love fun, comedic films, check out How to Be Single. 

 

The Social Network

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Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.

It was a fascinating take on the history of Facebook and its creation. David Fincher made a really smart film, and brought together an exceptional cast that brought the characters to life. I never knew about Mark Zuckerburg until I saw the film. I was so fascinated by Facebook’s history, that I wrote a history paper on it. I analysed statements from the real Mark Zuckerburg and his opinions of the films. The film is brilliant, if you take it as entertainment. There is some factual information provided in the film, but not enough to call it a reliable source. Also, Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Zuckerburg was brilliant. The intro to the film never fails to amaze me.

 

 

Your Name

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Your Name is about, a teenage boy and girl who embark on a quest to meet each other for the first time after they magically swap bodies.

It may seem like a stereotypical swapping bodies story. But it has so much more attached to it. Its hard to explain without spoiling it, but this film portrays a beautiful love story, about honest connection and longing. The look of the film is breath-taking. The director, Makoto Shinkai, creates amazing sceneries that brings you to the urban look of Tokyo to the scenic backgrounds of Japan’s countrysides. Moreover, the music is phenomenal. Your Name wouldn’t be Your Name without Radwimps (the band who composed the soundtrack). Listening to their songs on their own is fine, but they work seamlessly with the film. Its a masterpiece. It became the highest grossing anime film in the world, surpassing Spirited Away. I advise you check it out. You wont regret it.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

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I love all of the films, but Dead Man’s Chest has a special place in my heart. After The Curse of the Black Pearl, I was dying for more pirates. And I got it in the form of Dead Man’s Chest. It was bigger, the action scenes were better, and the trio were back. It was a treat of a movie, and a great way to continue on the story. I loved Elizabeth Swann in this film, as she threw away the corset and picked up a gun. Instead of standing back, she became part of the action, which I preferred. I began to adore her as a character in this film, before she became the Pirate King in the final film in the trilogy. The locations were fabulous and the humour still amazing. This movie in the franchise will remain my favourite of all the Pirates films.

 

Personal Shopper

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Another Kristen Stewart film, of course. Personal Shopper is about, a personal shopper in Paris refusing to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message. 

This film is very haunting and beautifully shot. This is the best performance Kristen Stewart has ever given. The film questions the concept of the afterlife and communication with ghosts. When Kristen Stewart’s character starts getting texts from an unknown number, you wonder whether its her dead twin brother, another ghost or something more sinister. Its another slower-paced movie, but worth the watch. My favourite part about the film is the use of texting to tell story through the medium of film. I dont know why, but I love it when movies base their storytelling actions on our modern-day technologies, such as using messenger, texting, Facebook or Skype. Another film that does this is Face 2 Face, where the film is strictly through Skype calls or facetime.

 

The Lord of the rings

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If you havent heard of The Lord of the Rings, you have must lived under a rock. Set in the fictional world of Middle-earth, the films follow the hobbit Frodo Baggins, as he and the Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, to ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron.

This trilogy was directed by the master, Peter Jackson and it became one of the highest grossing film series of all time. Its final film, The Return of the King won 11 of its Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. This film series had a massive impact upon its release and they are still praised to this day. It was The Lord of the Rings that got me into movies. I love the scenery of these films, which was shot in New Zealand (on my bucket list to go there). The acting, the story, the lore, just everything about it I love. Even years after first watching them, I still adore the films. If you havent seen them yet, I highly recommend them. Its a high-suspenseful fantasy with action, romance, friendship and loyalty. A great film to sit back and watch on a quiet Friday night.

 

And there you have it. Those were my top ten favourite movies. If you havent heard of any these, check them out. You wont regret it. My soul remains with literature and writing, but film will always have a special place in my heart.