Poetry and Photography Review: Rhythm Flourishing (2020) and Seizing the Bygone Light (2021)

Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku
by Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis

Today
questions still
haunt old stone.

Ooooh, I do adore photography blended with poetry. I’d never heard of Kindku and Sixku before, so learning about these types of poetry was very informative!

I loved so many of the poems, especially the one quoted above and the one inspired by William Ernest Henley, who is a personal favourite of mine. The photography in here is absolutely stunning, too! \o/

Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography
by Cendrine Marrouat, David Ellis & Hadiya Ali

I have seized the light! I have arrested his flight! The sun himself in future shall draw my pictures! – Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, 1839, quoted within.

Oh my gosh, the photographs in here are so stunning. I saw some familiar places, but so many new ones and it’s making my desire to travel so much bigger! Ugh, seeing beautiful pictures while locked inside during a pandemic is just MEAN (but in the best way, haha). \o/

Anyways, this is a lovely little collection of photography and poetry and I totally recommend it!

Thank you so much to the authors for the review copies!

Book Review: Mortal Engines (2001)

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve

I absolutely fell in love with the Mortal Engines film by Peter Jackson, which I’ve reviewed here, and ever since I watched it, I’ve been wanting to read the book. I finally had time to finish it the other week and I ADORED it. There are a few big differences from the film, but I loved both in their own way. For anyone who loves dystopian fiction, definitely dive into this series.

*SPOILER WARNING*

“You aren’t a hero, and I’m not beautiful, and we probably won’t live happily ever after,” she said. “But we’re alive, and together, and we’re going to be all right.”

Oh my goshhhhh, this book is so fantastic, I cannot. Hester/Tom are so fucking perfect together. The scene where he’s specifically told not to tell Hester and in less than a second goes, nope, Hester’s gonna be mad if I don’t and then runs off to tell her immediately is *chef’s kiss* These two are so perfect together I canNOT.

Tom looked round at her, and saw more clearly than ever before the kind, shy Hester peeping from behind the grim mask. He smiled at her with such warmth that she blushed.

This entire book has me like, protect Hester Shaw at all costs she is precious, despite the fact that, you know, she could break my face with her pinkie finger.

But seriously, this book is soooo good. And as grim as it is, this universe is fascinating! I definitely love Tom and Hester as much as I did in the film. Anna is a total badass, too! I also adore Kate and Bevis. Precious little investigator duo \o/

Anywho, I must get the rest of the series! 

Show Review: ¿Quién mató a Sara? (2021)

¿Quién mató a Sara? takes chaotic family mysteries to a whole new level. The show follows Álex after he’s wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his sister, Sara. Eighteen years later, Álex is let out and determined to get revenge for Sara’s death, his imprisonment and what his mother endured all the while.

The story flashes back and forth between before Sara’s death, when the characters are all teenagers, and the present, where Álex is going after Rodolfo and Chema, his former friends. Rodolfo was dating Sara when she died and Álex is convinced that he and his father are responsible. Elisa, Rodolfo and Chema’s little sister who was too young to remember Sara, befriends Álex out of curiosity and suspicion – she’s not fooled by all the half-answers her brothers and father are giving her.

SPOILER WARNING

Álex and Elisa were definitely what made me fall in love with this show. I wasn’t sure at first, but as soon as this pair met up, it tied everything together perfectly. And you know what’s so refreshing?? Everyone gets to the point in this storyline! Everyone’s straight forward about where they stand by episode two (except the dad, who’s the WORST, and the mother, for that matter). So, really, the core four are pretty honest, which I appreciated. Álex keeps Elisa apprised of his plans, or at least tells her when he can’t tell her things. They’re a solid couple and they work together so well and it was just refreshing that their storyline didn’t have the drama it otherwise could have.

Chema and his boyfriend Lorenzo had a good overall storyline, although I’m a bit worried about them for season two. I want everything to work out! Lorenzo is such a supportive partner, I love him.

The dad was the absolute worst, I’m sure we can all agree on that. Argh! THE WORST.

This is definitely a binge-worthy show filled with drama, mystery, romance, angst and more. I totally suggest checking it out!

OUT NOW: These Violent Nights (2021)

THESE VIOLENT NIGHTS IS OUT NOW IN EBOOK AND PAPERBACK!

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.

War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.

Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.

And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both.

But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares. 

Show Review: Barbaren (2020)

For all the fans of Centurion (2010), King Arthur (2004), The Last Kingdom (2015) and Vikings (2013), Barbaren (‘Barbarians’) is the show for you. Set in 9th century Roman-occupied Germania, the tribes and villages are struggling to stay alive under the repressive, brutal rule of the Romans. To keep the peace, one chief trades his sons to the Romans – years later, ‘Ari’, now Arminius, is a respected Roman soldier who has little in common with his childhood best friends, Folkwin and Thusnelda.

The show is based on the real life figures of Arminius and Thusnelda. Arminius was a German-born, Roman-raised, eventual Germanic Cherusci chief after the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. It’s not an area of military history I’m very familiar with, but apparently it’s one of the most decisive military victories in history and considered a huge failure for the Roman Empire.

The show begins with a Roman delegation arriving in a Cherusci village and demanding more tribute than the village could possibly produce or survive without. In retaliation, one of the Roman soldiers beats Thusnelda’s brother, permanently injuring him and leaving him brain damaged. Folkwin and Thusnelda swear revenge immediately and decide they’re going to steal the Romans’ eagle standard. You know, the gold-tipped eagle spear that Roman troops brought everywhere. Thusnelda and Folkwin are successful, but their victory is short lived when the Romans return to their village to enact their revenge. Very quickly, lines are drawn between the sides and Folkwin and Thusnelda’s friendship with Ari is put to the ultimate test.

This show is every bit as bloody, violent, painful, sad and tense as Vikings and The Last Kingdom. That said, this show really does bring something new to the table. It’s entirely in German and Latin. Thusnelda is front and centre, and I’m really loving her characterisation so far. She’s a wonderful lady/fighter/sister/advocate and so far my favourite of the main three. Her love for her brother and Folkwin and Ari is just amazing to watch. Ari is very sympathetic, and it’s clear he struggles with his allegiances, just like Uhtred in The Last Kingdom. He gets a bit frustrating at points, but you can see where he’s coming from. Folkwin is fantastic and full of fire, and sometimes I’m just like no, Folkwin, don’t do the thing! And then he does the thing. Oh, Folkwin.

I haven’t finished season one yet, but the show’s already been renewed for season two and I can’t wait to see how it will end.

Film Reviews: Battle (2018) & Fierce (2020)

Dance/musical competition films are such a fun subgenre that I don’t watch nearly enough. I grew up with Save the Last Dance (2001) and Honey (2003), but there was a good stretch there where I didn’t watch any. Although Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) was bloody hilarious. Break, that I reviewed a few weeks ago, reignited my love of the genre, so I marathoned a couple this week: Battle (2018) and Fierce (2020).

Fierce is a Polish film that follows a young woman who gets herself involved in a singing-on-television competition in order to impress/frustrate her estranged father, who is one of the judges. The singing in this is really, really impressive. The lead actress, Katarzyna Sawczuk, competed in the Voice of Poland competition in real life, and she’s fantastic. Maciej Zakościelny, who plays her dad, is equally as talented, and I loved his guitar scenes, haha. I also really adored the mother and grandmother! Honestly, the cast overall were awesome, the songs were really catchy and I liked the ending. There is one scene in this that had me like WHOA though, and totally took me by surprise. I won’t spoil you, but it’s near the end and I was like O.o for about five minutes.

Battle is a Norwegian film that follows a dancer after her father loses all of their money and they lose their home. They move to a new place and she hides the reality of her situation from her friends and boyfriend. When she meets Mikael, a young hip-hop dancer, she ends up discovering a whole new side of her new life and of other kinds of dancing. It’s very much like Save the Last Dance and Break, and I totally recommend it! The dance numbers are worth it and the main couple are adorable. Lisa Teige and Fabian Svegaard Tapia are brilliant actors!

Show Review: New Worlds (2014)

Okay, why did no one tell me that The Devil’s Whore had a sequel miniseries? I remember loving that series so much when it first aired. Historical madness, lucious costumes, great storyline, and a cast that was so, so good: Andrea Riseborough, John Simm, Michael Fassbender, Dominic West – AMAZING. The cast of New Worlds is equally as awesome: Freya Mavor, Jamie Dornan, Jeremy Northam, Joe Dempsie – ahhhhh. So good! I’m so annoyed at myself for not finding this miniseries sooner!

For anyone who didn’t see The Devil’s Whore, it does not a happy storyline. It’s one of those painful storylines where everything that can go wrong for the characters will go wrong. The first series followed Angelica Fanshawe throughout the 1600s, under the reign of King Charles I. The other central characters are historical figures like Edward Sexby, Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Rainsborough.

New Worlds takes place years later and follows Angelica’s daughter Beth under the reign of King Charles II and spans from Oxfordshire to the colonies in Massachusetts. Like its predecessor, it’s bleak and violent and sad and frustrating. But for those who like historical costume dramas that are well acted and beautifully shot, these shows are definitely worth your time! Freya Mavor steals every scene she’s in – she’s so wonderful and captivating! I’ve loved Mavor since Skins, and she was so good in Il était une seconde fois with Gaspard Ulliel. Jamie Dornan is great as always, as is Joe Dempsie!

Audiobook Review: Midnight Sun (2020)

I first read Twilight (2006) when I was thirteen. I loved it, and read all three sequels in quick succession. I was a bit hesitant to give Midnight Sun a go, however. After all, it’s the same plot as Twilight, only from Edward’s POV. (There’s also a gender-swapped version of Twilight, too. So, there’s three Twilights to choose from, really.) But then I read The Host, and I really enjoyed that, and I found out that Jake Abel (in The Host movie) was voicing Edward in the audiobook, so I decided I wanted to give it a try.

‘My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me.’

Ah, the nostalgia hit me hard on this one. I was deffo not expecting it. Like, I haven’t read Twilight since I was a teenager, but diving back into this world has been so fun. And I really, really like Edward’s POV. I actually prefer his POV. And I wholeheartedly recommend reading this via audiobook. After listening to it, I can’t picture anyone else as Edward. Jake Abel is A+ casting.

Also, Edward is bloody hilarious in this. Like, the things he obsesses over had me howling. Dude has absolutely ZERO chill. And I like the insight and development of their relationship that Meyer goes into. He and Bella have a lot of conversations that they didn’t have in Twilight, and hearing his perspective on the whole thing actually makes a lot more sense now. Bella always thought of him as so perfect and it was really hard to get a read on *Edward* in her book. Now, reading his perspective, it just makes so much more sense. The books complement each other quite well in that sense.

You learn about Bella’s favourite bands, movies, books. It’s not just Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. Bella gets cool points for Monty Python love, I’ll give her that. She talks about having jobs back in Arizona which led to her lack of a social life because she was always taking care of her mother, having no childhood because she was the adult, etc. Edward susses out why she loves taking care of people and worries about her not getting to do the things she actually wants. His concern for her wants is really sweet, honestly. Yes, he needs to chill, but it’s hard not to sympathise with the lad. Seriously, though, it’s from Edward’s POV, but Bella’s personality is explored so thoroughly in this one and I’m so here for it.

As well, his interactions with Emmett have me giggle snorting. They’re great bros in this and the family interactions really added that extra side to the novel that we never got from Bella’s POV. He’s also so sassy about Mike and the other students in the school. Like, chill dude. C’mon. Be cool. No one can conjure problems out of thin air to worry about quite like Edward. Poor lad needs a cup of tea and a calm movie.

Anyways, this book is pretty cool and Bella/Edward are still shippable.

Film Review: Stoker (2013)

Oh. My.

How. Compelling.

This movie. This movie. Oooooh. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I do know it was very well done. It is an enthralling blend of muted, disconnected creepy, and disturbingly compelling. It’s the rare film that holds my attention so well. I’m not sure I liked all of the twists or the ending, but it was impossible to stop watching. A very well acted, stunningly directed, superbly written, horror show.

The plot follows India Stoker after her father’s death. She lives with her mother Evelyn Stoker, who doesn’t particularly care for her. The arrival of her uncle, Charlie Stoker, really shakes up their home. At first you don’t know what to make of Charlie. India and Evelyn know nothing about him, only that he’s supposedly travelled everywhere and simply never came to visit.

It’s a very atmospheric film. You see that Charlie makes people uncomfortable, that he makes India comfortable. There’s something a relative knows that she wants to tell them, but can’t. India’s mother, however, adores him. The relationship that develops between India and Charlie has an undercurrent of tension, and you don’t know what’s wrong with Charlie – or indeed if something’s wrong with India.

As the strangeness mounts at home, at school, India is continuously bullied and begins to respond, drawing both Charlie’s attention – and approval – and the attention of another boy. This event leads all three down an increasingly disturbing road.

The film is a psychological horror film with a dash of the gothic and a touch of the arthouse. I still don’t know how to feel about the twist or the ending, but I do know it’s going to be ruminating around in my thoughts for a while.

Wentworth Miller should write more films, to be sure!

New Novel Alert: These Violent Nights

My newest novel is going to be published at the end of the month! It’s a fantasy, science-fiction, dystopia, romance, action/adventure mashup.

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.

War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.

Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.

And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both.

But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares. 

Goodreads link.

Available for Pre-order: Amazon US. Amazon UK. Amazon IN. Amazon AU. Amazon CA.