Why I won’t be rushing to see the new Beauty & the Beast

Why I won’t be rushing to see the new Beauty & the Beast

I remember the animated version being released – I think I was 8. We went to see it at the cinema, I had a jumper with Belle’s face on it (My cousin had the exact same one – I think my grandparents bought them), I got the video for my birthday. 

I still have a soft spot for those animated classics, there’s a fair few in my DVD collection. Of the most recent ones I enjoyed Brave, Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, and even Frozen (I have some issues of its apparent origins being Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen – a very different story.) 
However I haven’t seen any of the new “live action” films – not sure how that much CGI can be considered live. 

Pete’s Dragon is one of my favourite films and nothing will replace a cartoon dragon called Elliot for me – I saw some stills of the updated version – just no. 

A CGI Baloo just won’t cut it after the delights of the animated one and Cinderella has been done to death.

Emma Watson isn’t my ideal Belle, and that’s fine – can’t please anyone. But I saw a review calling it ‘authentic’, which I can’t agree with. 1. It’s set in France, so Belle and everyone else would speak French, 2. It’s a fable – it’s about vanity and love overcoming all odds. 3. The Beast – do I need to expand. 
Like most fairy tales this had a slightly darker heart originally, the Prince becomes a Beast because that’s what he is inside – vain, selfish, cruel, monstrous. He’s cursed to learn his lesson. But he doesn’t, he becomes even worse, hence the kidnapping of Belle’s father. 

The film versions do away with Belle’s sisters – who demand jewels and furs from their merchant father, while the youngest daughter requests a single perfect rose. There’s more than a little King Lear in this tale as the youngest daughter atones for her father’s crime. 

Watson has spoken about making the film more feminist – erm, it’s about a woman who sacrifices her freedom for her idiot father and is kept prisoner by a monster – feminism didn’t exist in 15th century France (or at all) and I just don’t get how you can make this story less twisted and more feminist while keeping that key storyline. 

Anyway, I know people are raving about how beautiful it is, how they’ve kept the songs (why no Angela Lansbury?) etc. But it just isn’t for me. Rather than keep doing this  (Mulan is up next – but with no songs, fingers crossed they at least cast Asian actors) why can’t Disney go back to making fun, musical animation? 
I hear Moana is brilliant and I will be watching that next. 

If you do want a Disney film where the female characters are aces, here’s a little list. 

⭐Brave ⭐Tangled ⭐Frozen ⭐Zootropolis ⭐Mulan ⭐Pocahontas ⭐Robin Hood (I defy you not to love Clucky) ⭐Bedknobs & Broomsticks (oh Angela Lansbury, I do think you’re marvellous) ⭐The Princess & the Frog ⭐

Let me know if I’ve missed any Disney heroines who deserve to be mentioned (tbh most of the traditional princesses are a bit hopeless). 

Are you going to see this new Beauty & the Beast? Or will you be watching the 90s classic for the millionth time like me. 

Book Review: Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

Book Review: Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

Calling all Labyrinth fans – this book, inspired by the author’s love of the film starring David Bowie as the Goblin King is a musical journey into the Underworld.

Liesl lives with her family in Germany near the Goblin Grove deep in the forest. She dreams of being a composer and her brother, the other half of her soul, plays her compositions. 

Her music attracts the attention of the Erlkonig  (Goblin King) and his minions. Drawing inspiration from Christina Rossetti’s poems as well as the aforementioned film, as winter turns, can our heroine escape the goblins’ lair and return to the World Above before the memory of her fades forever? 

I really liked this – fairy tale retellings are a bit favourite of mine and this is a well written one. German fairy tales aren’t as widely known as they should be, especially not the darkness within. 

This book was in my most recent Illumicrate, which means it’s a bit of a lucky find – I might not have read it otherwise as there are so many great books out there. 

If you like romance, adventure, fairy tales and plucky heroines, this book’s for you. 

Wedding Wednesday 

Wedding Wednesday 

One of the most stressful things during wedding planning is working out what venue you want. It took us ages to decide how we wanted to do things and then find the right place to host it. 

Image from Wedding Wire
Wedding Wire got in touch about their fun quiz designed to help you decide. Now I don’t know about you but I love an online quiz and this one is quite fun. You can do it alone or with your partner (even if you’re not planning a wedding at the moment. 

Image from Wedding Wire
According to the quiz I should be having a vineyard Wedding, sadly North London is lacking in those so I’ll be sticking with the venue I’ve picked. 

Image from Wedding Wire

If you are planning a wedding or are already married, how did you pick your venue? Let me know in the comments. 
This post is sponsored by Wedding Wire but all opinions are my own. 

Book Tour – Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsells 

Book Tour – Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsells 

Today I’m hosting a stop on the book tour for this new fantasy novel. Read on to find out more.

Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe. 
The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Iwan and Ashael meet and she invites him to stay in Oak Cam, neither of them realise that she is the one the Zanthar seek.  The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on Ashael’s shoulders.

Author details

Shona Kinsella is a fantasy author who lives near the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, in the west of Scotland. She is a member of the British Fantasy Society where she writes reviews of indie books. Shona has a degree in Law from the University of Strathclyde where she learned a lot about narrative structure.; everyone loves a story. 
Shona enjoys spending time outdoors and much of her writing is inspired by the environment that she lives in, at the edge of Scotland’s first national park. When she is not writing, she enjoys geocaching with her husband and children and reading as many books as she can get her hands on.

You can find out more about the book and Shona at the following places. 

Unbound  Facebook Author website

 Twitter Instagram

Just to get you in the mood to read the book, here’s an extract to get you going. Enjoy. 

“All-Mother, you who gave birth to the world, watch over this woman and her child, Bhearra prayed silently. She had lost the thread of the baby’s consciousness and was deeply worried. Soraya screamed as another contraction struck. Ashael wiped the pregnant woman’s face with a cloth dipped in cool water. Bres paced the room. It was mid-afternoon and Soraya was exhausted.

‘We’re almost there now, Soraya. Get ready to push.’ Bhearra squeezed Soraya’s hand, keeping her voice calm, trying not to show her concern. The poor woman was frightened enough. As the next contraction arrived, Soraya pushed as hard as she could, gripping Bhearra’s hands hard enough to press the old bones together, and the top of the baby’s head appeared.

‘I can’t. I can’t push anymore.’

‘One more and the head will be out, and then I can help you,’ Bhearra replied with a soothing voice. She pushed a little of her own energy into the woman before her. She had been doing this for some time now and did not have much more to spare. With the next contraction, the baby’s head was out, face white and lips blue. Bhearra soon saw why: the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. Another contraction pushed a shoulder out while Soraya screamed, and Bhearra was able to get her fingers under the cord, pulling it slightly away from the baby’s neck. With quick, sure movements, Bhearra took the foraging knife attached to her belt and cut the cord, pulling the baby the rest of the way out with the next contraction. 

The baby had not yet taken a breath. Bhearra moved her out of view. She blew into the baby’s face then slapped her bottom. Still nothing. 

‘What’s happening? Is my baby alright?’ Soraya asked, gasping in exhaustion.

‘Ashael can help you with the afterbirth,’ answered Bhearra. ‘I’m just going to get the little one cleaned up.’ 

Bhearra moved towards the doorway as she spoke, Bres close behind. Speaking in a low voice, she told him what had happened. Bres looked back at his mate and began to weep silent tears.

‘Hush now. All is not lost.’ Bhearra held the baby before her then closed her eyes, once more stretching her senses out beyond her own body, searching for the lingering spirit of the baby. Nothing. Nothing… There! A spark of life floated nearby. The filidh breathed this spark in and then blew it gently toward the baby’s face. Nothing happened. Please, All-Mother.

The baby gasped and let out a great cry.

Bres fell to his knees and Soraya burst into tears. Bhearra gave a small smile, letting out a shaky breath as she moved over to Soraya and handed the baby to her.

‘You have a beautiful baby girl. What will you name her?’

‘Bhearrael. For the woman who brought her to us,’ Alayne answered.

‘Sirion bless you. You saved her life,’ Bres said. ‘How can we ever thank you?’

‘Nonsense; I didn’t save her. I just showed her the way home. She did the rest herself.” 

And as if that wasn’t enough – you could win a £20 Amazon giftcard and a copy of the book. All you have to do is click here.

Book Preview: Greatest Hits – Laura Barnett

Book Preview: Greatest Hits – Laura Barnett

Written by the author of The Versions of  Us, Laura Barnett, Greatest Hits is the story of Cass Wheeler a rock star in the form of a Joni Mitchell or Stevie Nicks. Her career has been in decline for a while and she spends her days mourning a tragic loss tucked away on her secluded farm. 
Her record label wants to release a greatest hits collection and this sparks Cass on a mission of memory – of her parents, her former band, and her past. 

Interspersed between the chapters of Cass’ life are her songs, actually written by singer-songwriter Kathryn Hughes especially for the book. 

Interestingly the two writers will be releasing an album of these songs to coincide with the book’s release in June this year. 

I really liked this book, it has great emotional writing and I found Cass very intriguing. At times there were very sad moments and I’m not ashamed to say I cried a little – really good writing hooks your feelings like nothing else. 

The book isn’t out until June 15th, which gives you loads of time to put it on your wishlist. 

20 Years of Buffy

20 Years of Buffy

Friday was the 20th anniversary of the first airing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – one of the defining tv shows of my life. 

Final seasons Scooby Gang
I remember watching the first season on BBC2 with my little sister and my dad, and just thinking here was a show that spoke to me. I was just starting secondary school and those teenage monsters were very familiar. 

Now we were all supposed to be in love with David Boreanaz’s tortured vampire-with-a-soul Angel but I must admit I do love a bad boy – there was a huge poster of Spike (James Marsters) on my bedroom wall.

“I’m a bad rude man”

The monsters as metaphors is a construct as old as story telling but these were monsters A teenage girl with a sharp stick and a great line in quips could kill. That’s a pretty empowering thing for any young woman. 

Buffy dealt with bullies, death, a bratty sister, love, heartbreak, exams and friendships – all the things we all go through. She showed us the way. How many times did you want to quite literally stab your heart breaking ex through the heart with a wooden stake. 

And then there was the kickass soundtrack. I still have all 3 of the soundtrack cds – including the musical episode ‘Once More With Feeling’.

Mr Pointy

I have trouble picking a favourite episode, character etc but here’s my highlights. 
The silent episode ‘Hush’ was masterful. And proves the cast can all act. 

Xander and Willow’s relationship is definitely a friendship to aspire to – he saves her from becoming full on evil Willow with the power of his love for his best pal. And then there’s the Snoopy dance (bless Nicholas Brendon for still doing this at fan conventions). 

When everyone loses their memories and Spike and Giles think they’re father and son (and Spike’s called Randy) 

My ideal tea party

Faith – just too damn cool for school. But also power crazed, murderous and just a tad unhinged. 

Five by five

The Halloween episodes – vamps took the night off but all sorts of havoc would break loose. My favourite was either when everyone became their costumes (Buffy as an actual damsel in distress) or when they get trapped in a haunted house and have to defeat a fear demon – who’s about 3 inches high! 

Squished

Tara and Willow’s beautiful falling in love story. Pretty much the first sane sex couples I remember seeing on tv. Sweet, sad, romantic and tragic. 

😭😭

How much I hated Riley the cardboard soldier and that whole plotline – even more than the Glory/Dawn storyline and I really hated that. 

Eurgh
When did Buffy sleep? Demon fighting by night and school by day. What a hero, or serious caffeine habit. 

How sad I was when it all ended. 

Me too Anya, me too

This weekend I am planning a boxset binge to mark the anniversary – anyone else? 

Book review: Caravel- Stephanie Garber

Book review: Caravel- Stephanie Garber

This has been incredibly well promoted and publicised online so when I got a copy I was quite keen to see if it lived up to the hype. 

Firstly it’s a good looking book, I know you should never judge a cover but it does add something when the book looks good too. 

I’m very into books set at fairgrounds, carnivals and freak shows, I think it’s my preference for the “other” in fiction. 

Caravel is set at something between a carnival and a theatrical experience – a living theatre that has been known to drive people a little mad. 

Scarlett and Donatella are ruled by their strict and cruelty father but Scarlett’s upcoming marriage to a man she has never met could equal freedom. 

However Scarlett has been writing letters to the mysterious Legend, who owns Caravel, and shortly before she’s due to marry, he finally invites the sisters to his private island to play his twisted game. If they go, it could change everything. 

This is YA fiction and sometimes the best books come from this genre. Unfortunately I don’t think this is one of them. The premise is great but it struggles in the execution. 

At times the plot felt a little weak and repetitive, at others the characters grated slightly. It wasn’t the worst book ever, not even close, but I’m not desperate for the sequel (which is bound to be written considering the ending). 

It just wasn’t up there for me. I think Angela Carter ruined this style of Magical realism for me (Nights at the Circus is sublime fantastical writing).