RuPaul’s Drag Race Tag

Hey everyone, I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts lately. My heads been a mess, and I feel like my confidence has been knocked more than once. So I’ve been drinking lots of tea, taking long hot baths and watching repeats of one of my favourite reality TV shows – RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-ongoing). If you don’t know about it, the general gist is that drag artist, RuPaul, is searching for America’s next drag superstar. There’s plenty of fashion, comedy and bitching. There’s always lip syncs, dancing, and that contestant you just fall in love with, or you just love to hate. It’s a show that’s taught me a few life lessons too – something I didn’t think I’d take from the show. Watch out for my post on that!

So, I thought I’d do the tag, inspired by Adventure & Anxiety and Cardigan Jezebel. In the spirit of RuPaul – good luck, and don’t f*ck it up! Although there may be spoilers!

Favourite season? I’m torn between seasons 4, 5, and 6. These seasons had some great challenges and queens, and have had the most impact on my thought processes. Without these seasons we might not have classic lines like, “When in doubt, freak ’em out”, “Water off a ducks back”, and “Not today Satan!” Some great looks were served and everyone wasn’t as polished, and there was always room to improve!

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Favourite RuPaul song? Sissy That Walk is the one for me, I think! Whilst I do love a lot of Ru’s music (I have a Spotify playlist), there’s something about Sissy that really makes me smile, dance, and strut.

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Favourite drag queen? I think my favourite queen of all time is Jinkx Monsoon – she was a girl of many talents and was so sweet. She made ‘Snatch Game’ one to remember and showed a high level of consistency, as well as improvement. Although, I love Sharon Needles and Bianca Del Rio in equal amounts – both were strange in their own ways, but were so talented.

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Sharon Needles (left) / Jinkx Monsoon (centre) / Bianca Del Rio (right)

I do like many other queens though. Honourable mentions go from left to right: Shangela, Alexis Mateo, Latrice Royale, Chad Michaels, Adore Delano, BenDeLaCreme, Violet Chachki, Ginger Minji, Katya, Kim Chi, Sasha Velour and Valentina.

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Favourite maxi challenge? ‘Snatch Game’, without a doubt. It’s a test of a queen’s improvisation, styling and comedy, and there have been some amazing acts, including (from left to right) Chad Michaels (Cher), Jinkx Monsoon (Little Edie), Bianca Del Rio (Judge Judy), BenDeLaCreme (Dame Maggie Smith), Ginger Minji (Adele), Kennedy Davenport (Little Richard), Thorgy Thor (Michael Jackson) and Bob the Drag Queen (Uzo Aduba AND Carol Channing).

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Have you ever seen any Ru-girls live? No, but I’d love to see some of them. I think it would be amazing!

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Favourite Drag Race winner? Jinkx Monsoon! And then it’s a tie between Sharon Needles and Bianca Del Rio – all three are worthy winners!

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Jinkx Monsoon (left) / Sharon Needles (centre) / Bianca Del Rio (right)

 

Most robbed queen? Definitely Raven from season two. Raven was edgy and talented – so much deserving than Tyra Sanchez, in my opinion.

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Best fight? I won’t forget Tyra Sanchez and Tatiana from season two arguing on the main stage in wedding dresses for a long while! Then it’s onto season four for the infamous ‘tired ass showgirl/party city’ argument between Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O’Hara. And then season five had the long running feud between Coco Montresse and Alyssa Edwards…

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Biggest shock? In season three, Ru set down the law that ‘drag is not a contact sport’, after Mimi Imfurst lifted India Ferrah during a lipsync! Not on, girl! Willam’s elimination was pretty shocking too – although it did make the other queens happy. And lately, the shock of Valentina’s lipsync…

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Most underrated runway look? I had to think long and hard about this, but I think I’m going with Chad Michaels Rupocalypse outfit. I really liked it – it was something I could see from video games and films, although admittedly, Phi Phi O’Hara’s look was good too – very Mad Max. Robbie Turner also had some really interesting looks too from the Madonna challenge and the roller girl challenge!

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Last, but not least, what’s your favourite lipsync? I’ve had a few favourites… Jinkx Monsoon vs. Detox was a classic! It’s something I’ll always remember!

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So that’s the tag! Please feel free to complete it too – I’d love to hear about your favourite queens! And remember – if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?

– ReadWriteZoe.

August Update

Hey everyone, it’s ReadWriteZoe! I realise I haven’t checked in here with you all in 18 days! 18 whole days… I’m really sorry, but you know how life has a way of sneaking up on you? That’s sadly what happened. So I thought I’d take the chance to update you with everything that’s been happening in August so far!

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Well first and foremost, my novel VRES: Digital Quest has been released by indie publishers, Zombie Cupcake! I’m over the moon! This means I’ve been doing last minute edits, having talks with my lovely proofreader, and of course, been trying to drum up sales!

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Welcome to VRES. Click here to Sign In.

When the hottest and newest virtual reality game is released, it doesn’t take fanatics Felix Moon and Erica Beale long to enter its magical world. A place like no other, it becomes everything to them – and there is more than they bargained for.

VRES is more than a game – it’s an experience that you will never forget. Once you enter, you will never want to leave. Draw your sword, equip armour and be ready to fight to the death.

Available now on Amazon!

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I’ve been suckered back into the world of television! I’ve been religiously watching the new season of Rick and Morty (2013-ongoing). If you didn’t know, Rick and Morty is an animated show that follows super scientist, Rick, and his grandson, Morty, as they have weird and wonderful adventures. Often, Morty’s family join in too and it’s just bizarre. I love it though!

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What else have I been watching? Well the highly anticipated new season of Game of Thrones, of course (2011-ongoing)! If you haven’t heard of the show, I think you must have been hiding under a rock… The show follows the families of Westeros as they fight for control of the Iron Throne and the right to rule. Meanwhile, danger fast approaches with mythical creatures – and no readers, it’s not those big dragons!

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Early on in the month, I was suffering from the dreaded reading slump. Everything I picked up, I struggled to be engaged with. I tried paperbacks and Kindle books, but it was useless. I felt rubbish for not sticking with a book. Now though, I’m on a graphic novel and manga kick so watch out for that in the August wrap up at the end of the month.

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I’ve also checked all the paperwork this week and I’m ready to enrol on the last year of my course. I’m going to be studying a Bsc (Top Up) in Health and Social Care. It means that I’ll soon be back to writing assessments and before I know it, I’ll be working on a massive dissertation – so I’ll be a busy beaver! It probably means that I won’t be carrying on with my current book – not until the holidays and reading weeks that is…

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So what have you been doing in August? Let me know, I’d love to here from you!

– ReadWriteZoe.

July Wrap Up

Hey everyone, welcome to the end of July – the time when parents are already run ragged looking after children in the holidays, teachers are kicking back, and students are waiting for exam results.

It’s also that time where I’m going over what I’ve read this month. So without further ado, lets get on with this tidy little wrap up! Fair warning, there may be spoilers.

The first book on this list is A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin, which is the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. July meant that the show would soon be back on our screens, so I had to continue with the books. Following on from the first book, problems in Kings Landing has created an uprising, with many Lords now calling themselves Kings. Daenerys is planning to conquer Westeros still, whereas the Nights Watch are planning to go Beyond the Wall to investigate the wildlings. It is perhaps longer than the first, with a lot of viewpoints to take into consideration. It is just as good though, and I rated it 4 stars.

I naturally followed this up with A Storm of Swords Part 1: Steel and Snow and A Storm of Swords Part 2: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin. These make up the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The book is so large, that it’s split into two separate volumes. It’s just as deadly as the first two though. With its many characters returning to tell their stories, it is a powerhouse. Civil war is still rife in Westeros, so the reader should prepare for battles, weddings and murders. I rated Steel and Snow 4 stars, because I found it quite hard to get into at first. I rated Blood and Gold 5 stars.

I also read Blood and Gold for the Biannual Bibliothon as it completed the task Read From a Hosts Favourite Genre (Brittni – Epic/High Fantasy), and also Book to Movie Adaptation (read and watch).

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The next book I read was an eBook – Switched by Amanda Hocking. The first book in the Trylle trilogy, it follows Wendy Everly, who was nearly killed at her sixth birthday party, after her mother claims that Wendy is not her child. Saved by her brother, Wendy moves in with him and her aunt, although Wendy experiences trouble wherever they go. She already suspects that she is not like others. One evening, new boy Finn tells her that she has persuasive abilities and that she is part of the Trylle community – think troll. And then she learns that she is a princess too! An intriguing YA read, I really enjoyed the conflict between the human mother and Wendy. Wendy is likeable enough, although I didn’t enjoy the romance between her and Finn. It seemed strange, especially as Queen Elora seems to have a soft spot for him. I gave this 5 stars, as it was such a solid start. I had bought this a while ago, so cannot confirm price.

I followed this up with the sequel, Torn. Picking up at the end of the first book, Wendy has run away from her new life with the Trylle, although this leaves her vulnerable to enemy attack. She is kidnapped along with Matt, and Matt’s real brother, Rhys. Here Wendy learns the truth about her heritage and why the Vittra (another sect of the Trylle community) are intent upon keeping her. It’s a comfortable book, not as good as the first, as it’s predictable in places. Wendy still longs for Finn, although she is destined to marry another. There is also the addition of Vittra royalty, Loki, who sounds devilishly handsome. He’s cocky, making him funny, and is a welcome addition to the novel. He and the Vittra are utterly prepared to disrupt Wendy’s life. I gave this 4 stars. I had bought this a while ago, so cannot confirm price.

It was natural to finish the series up. The final book, Ascend, follows Wendy’s marriage to Tove and how she struggles to accept this new part of her life. They can never be in love as Tove is gay, and Wendy cares for another. As if this isn’t enough to turn her 18 year old head, she is struggling with Queen Elora’s failing health, and how to deal with the problems with her father, the Vittra King! It is much more enjoyable than the last book, and Wendy finally gives in to her lust and, eventual, romantic feelings. Wendy decides that she must be the ruler that the Trylle need, and aims to change the way her world is. An addictive read, I wanted to keep going, unlike the last book, where I felt bored. I gave this 5 stars. I had bought this a while ago, so cannot confirm price.

I also read Ascend for the Biannual Bibliothon as it completed the task Read a Book You’ve Seen Somewhere Other Than BookTube (Amazon online), and LGBTQIA+ (Tove married Wendy to keep up the appearance of being straight).

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I was on a bit of a manga kick this month, and read the first FIVE volumes of Death Note by Tsugmi Ohba. The series follows the trials and tribulations of top student, Light Yagami. One day, Light finds a Death Note on the ground and picks it up. If a human name is written into the book, they will die. Light is sceptical, until he sees the power at work, and so decides to use it to create a perfect, crime free, society. This catches the attention of young, legendary detective, L. And so the battle begins. The first five volumes keep getting better, and really keep the reader guessing. What will Light do now? What is L’s next move? Volumes one and two were rated 5 stars, as everything was still so new and fresh. Volume three was rated 4 stars, as I struggled a little when starting this. Volume four was 5 stars (it also featured my favourite character, Misa). The fifth volume was 3 stars, as half of it seemed so boring. There’s still many left to read!

I also read the first volume as part of the Biannual Bibliothon as it completed the task Read a Book That Has Been Banned/Is Still Banned (banned in China), and completed the Throwback challenge – a Book Set in Another Country (Japan).

I also used the first volume for the second blogger challenge, which was a review.

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The next book I read was an eBook, bought for 99p, as part of my Kindle haul in July. That book is Through the Shattered Looking Glass by M. L. Crane, which is a take on the classic, Alice in Wonderland. In this tale, Alice starts an internship at the Lutwidge Mental Health Institute. She is content, happy, with the past behind her at last. Until the nightmares start, and the patients she meets seem to know more about her than they should. This eBook was graphic in places, and dealt with pressing issues and mental health. It was an interesting plot, with room to continue and plenty of nods to the classic story, but I felt the writing was a little weak in places. I’ve always had an idea in my head to rewrite Alice in a horror style, and reading this makes me want to go for it! For this reason, I rated it 3 stars.

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The penultimate eBook I read was Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. The novel follows freida (and yes readers, it does not have a capital letter – in fact, all female names don’t), as she enters her sixteenth year at the School. She is an eve – perfectly designed, and trusted to become the perfect companion, concubine or chastity when they are seventeen. freida’s world is all about being perfect – being at target weight, being happy and always pleasing. And yet, her world is flipped upside down, and she finds herself struggling to be the perfect eve. A standalone, debut novel, I could not put this down, even though it was a reread. It was easy to connect to the various characters, and there is a lot of development. Set in a dystopian future the girls are hooked on technology eerily similar to our own, and its a clever take on the culture we’re embodying now. At times, it is uncomfortable reading, in relation to mental health and eating disorders, but it makes you think about your own life, and your own choices. I gave this 4 stars. I had bought this a while ago so cannot confirm price.

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The final book I read was an eBook, and that was Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. I bought this for £2.99, and it was part of my Kindle haul, earlier in July. The novel follows Nancy Astley as she becomes infatuated with male impersonator, Kitty Butler. Nancy is so in love with Kitty, that she jumps at the chance to leave her oyster-girl life to be her dresser in London. Eventually Nancy becomes Nan King, and joins Kitty’s act on the London stages. When Kitty breaks her heart, Nan finds herself in a state of depression, and finds a new career as a rent boy. This career path eventually leads her to become a well kept ‘pet’ for an older woman. The world isn’t finished yet with Nancy, and life takes a drastic turn. Nancy’s journey is about finding out who she really is, who she wants to be, and what she wants out of life. I rated this 5 stars.

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So that completes my second wrap up for this blog! Let me know what book/books you have read in the month of July – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga. They all count! Of course, if you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Writing Q + A

Hey everyone, welcome back to the blog, where normal service has resumed! Today, I thought I’d do something writing focused, so I hope you enjoy that! I recently read Switched by Amanda Hocking (the first book in the Trylle trilogy), so look out for that in the July wrap up. In the back of the eBook was an interview with the author. So I thought, I’d replicate the questions here, but with my answers obviously!

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What first inspired you to write? I’ve always loved books from an early age. I have fond memories of my mum reading The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien to me at bedtime. My dad made up stories as well and I can still see the pictures he painted in my head. Naturally, when I started reading for myself, and writing things for school, I knew that I wanted to be an author. Although when asked what I wanted to be when I was an adult, I often said I wanted to be a fairy… In fact, a concert I went to had an unusual dress code – come as what you wanted to be when you were young. So here’s the proof!

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Do you start with a character or a storyline? Usually the characters make themselves known, banging at my brain with their fists. The story follows closely behind.

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Have other authors/books inspired you, and why? There are plenty of books I could name, but inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere! Every time I pick up a new book, or I reread something, I can be inspired. Sometimes it’s the characters, the plot, or the writing style. Cliché as it is, the biggest inspiration I have is J. K. Rowling – it’s not just her books, but how she rose to fame from nothing. She’s a heroine.

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What genres have you written before, and what would you like to try? So far in my writing career, I have written for young adults and adults. I have written horror, romance, and fantasy. In the future, I’d like to try a proper contemporary – without any fantasy elements. Just a straight up contemporary – but I’m not sure of the audience.

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Would you ever write a children’s book? It’s definitely something I’d consider. It would probably be about cute fluffy animals, but spooky stuff does appeal to children. My non-fiction/sequential art tutor once said that children are interested in things that have sharp teeth – maybe I could make a cute vampire work?

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How do you manage to keep all your characters and series separate when working? Both WIPs that I’m working on are very different – and so are the characters, so I don’t have a problem there. The notes I have are in separate places too. My YA WIP notes are in a notebook, whereas my adult WIP notes are on my laptop.

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Do you have a favourite character or series that you’ve written? Erica from my upcoming release VRES: Digital Quest is my favourite, so far. She’s strong, sassy, but she’s experienced a lot to get where she is now. If she can manage it, so can I!

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What attracted you to having a publisher over self-publishing? By being with a publisher, I have a wide readership – there is definitely an aspect of promotion there. I thought about self-publishing VRES: Digital Quest – I even said to myself, if it wasn’t accepted this time, I would self-pub. The idea of it scares me though – the editing, the cover design, the formatting/layout… Makes me shudder – someone more experienced than me can do it!

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What advice would you offer other aspiring writers? I’m still aspiring myself – higher things, big sales, international success… My advice for other writers though is to keep writing. It’s a craft that improves with time. If you keep writing, one day you will have a fully fledged first draft, and that will be something to be proud of. And read – you can learn so much from other books.

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Where do you want to go from here with your books? I’d like to be successful with what I write, but I’ve learnt from past mistakes. It’s not about churning books out for publication. For me, whatever I want to write in the future, I should be fully invested in the story and its characters. I’ll always write.

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What do you think about the future of physical books? Do you think most people will buy eBooks in future? Physical books will always exist, because people love to read. There is nothing like holding a hard/paperback book and entering the world that awaits. I don’t think they will ever go ‘extinct’. People will still buy eBooks though – you can get good free books or special offers. They don’t take up room on your shelves or in your bag/suitcase. They’re convenient and you can reach a wide audience just as much as with a physical book.

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What format do you read in – eBook or physical? And why? I read in both formats – I love curling up with a book, or reading in the bath. I’d sooner do that with a physical book as it can be dried and saved if its damaged. eBooks are great for travelling though, and for getting special offers – I recently picked up Caraval by Stephanie Garber and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon for 99p each on Kindle! They are both fairly new, so at those prices, I couldn’t resist! Quite a lot of BookTubers/book bloggers read both, like Little Book Owl pictured here!

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What can you tell us about the next books you’re working on? Project #1 is currently titled Exile. It is a YA fantasy novel. Faye has always dreamed of life outside of her village. One accident changes her life forever. She has to find the strength to keep going. It was inspired by my favourite episode of The Simpsons – Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken.

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Project #2 is currently titled Power Play. It is an adult fantasy novel. Nora is the privileged daughter of a vampire politician, but an attack leaves her life in pieces. Nora is about to test herself in ways she never thought possible, and risk everything for life and love. I have no idea where the inspiration came from, but I’ve had the idea for a while! Some character inspiration came from Bianca Del Rio’s runway look for the black and white challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

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Did you enjoy my writing Q + A? If you have any questions for me, please feel free to ask – I’d love to hear from you guys!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Biannual Bibliothon #7

Hey everyone, can you believe it’s the last blogging challenge of the Biannual Bibliothon? I can’t! This week has flown by and I’ve had so much fun. Thank you to everyone who has liked, commented, and followed this blog, and gotten in touch over my other social medias – links to which are in the About section!

The final challenge has been set by Reading and Other Random Stuff and it’s so different from what I’ve been doing this week. The challenge is to write a letter to a character from a book! It can be any character you want – it can be from a book you’ve read during the Bibliothon, or it can be a different character. The point is to make the letter your own – be creative!

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and as I woke this morning, I realised the perfect letter I could write. Something that wasn’t quite me, but would be great. During Snape’s memories in the Pensieve, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the tension between Lily and Petunia Evans starts to build. After Lily receives her Hogwarts letter, Petunia decides to write to Albus Dumbledore, asking if she could attend the school as well.

So without further ado, here is Petunia Evan’s letter! I hope you enjoy!

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Dear Professor Dumbledore,

My name is Petunia Evans. I am the sister of Lily Evans, and I would like to come to school with her at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I think that I have magic, like Lily, but it hasn’t shown itself yet. My parents have said that I could be a late bloomer, but I think they are talking about flowers. Not people.

Please may I come to school with Lily, and study with you? I will try ever so hard, and I know I can do magic – it’s in my blood, it has to be. If Lily has it, why shouldn’t I? I have seen the letter that came to our house, so I know what I need to bring with me. I will save all my pocket money for the books. I can read and write well, and do sums and maths. My teachers say I’m a hard worker, that I could go far. Please won’t you see if that’s true?

One of the teachers has already come to our house to talk to Lily, but she didn’t answer any of my questions. She ignored me, but I heard a lot of what she was saying about the wizard street and the Ministry and the train to school. I don’t get travel sick, so I’m sure that I’d be able to get on the train with Lily! And I’d never get in trouble with the Ministry, I’m a good girl, I swear.

Please won’t you come to our house? I want to be part of your school so badly. I won’t let you down, I’ll be the best witch I can be. I promise.

Yours sincerely,

Petunia Evans

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If you remember the scene, you will know that Petunia was unsuccessful in attending Hogwarts, although she received a polite letter back from the Headmaster. She probably burnt the letter, or tore it up into tiny little pieces, feeling humiliated, especially after Lily and Snape had seen it.

As any Potter fan knows, Petunia developed a sort of hatred for Lily and the wizarding world, and barely spoke to her sister for years, calling her a freak on numerous occasions. When baby Harry was left on the doorstep of her married home, she allowed him to stay after seeing the familiar handwriting on the envelope and reading Dumbledore’s words.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Although, I suppose you could call it, A History of Magic.

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So there it is – the final Biannual Bibliothon challenge! I’ve had such a fun week – huge congratulations to the organisers on BookTube, as well as to the blogger hosts who have made this week so interesting. Thank you for sticking with me on this wild journey, and normal service shall resume shortly!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Biannual Bibliothon #6

Hey everyone, welcome back! Today is the penultimate day of the Biannual Bibliothon! It’s hard to believe that it’s all coming to an end – I’ve had such fun with these tasks. Today’s has been set by Mary, and her blog can be found here! And the task is to list 25 facts (no more, no less) about you! Now, those with keen memories will remember that my first post on this blog was very similar (20 facts) – but don’t worry, these are new! So without further ado, let the list begin!

  1. One of my favourite characters is Harley Quinn – you can learn more about my connection with her on my last Bibliothon challenge.
  2. I have seven Harley Quinn’s from the Funko Pop range. That includes different variations, a miniature, and a keyring.
  3. My first holiday abroad was to Lanzarote with my older sister.
  4. My sister taught me to swim on the Lanzarote holiday by putting me on an island, in the deep end of the pool. I had to swim to get back to my sun lounger.
  5. I would love a white female cat – I’d call her Zelda, after the infamous Nintendo princess.1preview__banner-auto-cropping
  6. The first Funko Pop I bought was Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones.
  7. Speaking of Game of Thrones, I support House Targaryen for the Iron Throne.
  8. My favourite film villain is Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
  9. One of my favourite horror films is The Cabin in the Woods.
  10. In nursery school, I was convinced I was Tinker Bell. I jumped off a small wall, bruised my knee, and found out I wasn’t a fairy.300px-TinkerBell-Disney
  11. I discovered the films of Studio Ghibli in my first year of secondary school, at a recommendation from my English teacher.
  12. I first got into Linkin Park through my brother. He used to play the Hybrid Theory album at night and I used to hear ‘Crawling’ through my wall.
  13. My favourite Linkin Park song is ‘Numb’, and I’m still upset over the death of Chester Bennington.
  14. I became addicted to the band Aiden in 2005, when they released their second album, Nightmare Anatomy.
  15. I met my hero, Wil Francis, at his gig in Sheffield in 2010.38078_412494823143_1769283_n
  16. I’m really crap at guessing the murderer in murder mysteries/crime dramas.
  17. I collect mugs.
  18. J.K. Rowling inspires me to be a better writer.
  19. I was sorted into Thunderbird during the Ilvermorny Sorting on Pottermore.
  20. I cried when I saw the Hogwarts Express at my second visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. It wasn’t the first or last time I cried that day.IMG_6890
  21. One of my strange celebrity crushes is Peter Capaldi, as the Doctor.
  22. My favourite part that Tom Hiddleston has played is Loki in the Marvel films.
  23. My dad once drove me back to Mablethorpe, because I lost my phone at the bottom of a waltzer. Oops!
  24. My mum and I once jumped on our beds in a hotel. We didn’t know the beds were on wheels, and we went skidding halfway across the room!
  25. I’ve been fascinated by Camden in London for years. I finally got to visit it in 2015!IMG_0034.JPG

So there are 25 facts about me! I hope you enjoyed this post, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow, for the final Biannual Bibliothon challenge!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Biannual Bibliothon #5

Hey everyone, today’s Biannual Bibliothon will be a lengthy discussion post, so please feel free to grab a hot coffee or tea, and maybe some snacks, before settling in! The host for today’s challenge, Inside My Minds, has asked for bloggers to speak about one, or two, characters with who you have a personal connection with. There will most likely be spoilers.

The character I have chosen is from DC Comics, and that is the one and only, Harley Quinn.

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Harley (full name Harleen Frances Quinzel) first appeared in The Batman Adventures #12, and was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Her origin story was retold in the graphic novel The Batman Adventures: Mad Love. Harleen was an Arkham Asylum psychiatrist intern who was fascinated by the lunatics in the Asylum. One particular innamte, however, proved to be her downfall. She freely gave sympathy, allowed herself to be seduced, and ultimately fell in love with the Clown Prince of Crime, and Batman’s nemesis, the Joker. Harleen helped the Joker to escape, gave herself a makeover, renamed herself Harley Quinn (a play on the word harlequin), and joined him in his adventures against the caped crusader, Batman.

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I first came across Harley in the animated film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. She was a kooky character, in love with a mad man, and yet, she was sad. It was like she was pining for a real family, something that is echoed in the recent Suicide Squad film adaptation.

And then, I started reading the comic books/graphic novels. Harley appears in so many, but that’s the beauty of her. She’s versatile. She once joined forces with Catwoman and Poison Ivy to form the Gotham City Sirens. She is also part of a government initiated group, the Suicide Squad, along with Deadshot and Captain Boomerang.

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The character has had immense popularity, not just through graphic novels, but with animated TV shows and films. She has been featured as a playable character in fighting games such as Injustice: Gods Among Us. The Arkham trilogy of video games features Harley, and has had playable DLC with Harley Quinn’s Revenge. Actress Margot Robbie has brought the character to life more in the Suicide Squad film, released 2016. She has a lot of merchandising including t-shirts, costumes, figures and more.

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I connect with Harley because she’s a trier. Before being led to a life of crime, Harley was a model student who received high grades at university. I am always aiming for high grades too. She is always trying to see the best in her twisted relationship with the Joker – I always want to give people second chances, even those I’ve been wronged by.

Harley is one of the strongest characters in terms of her physical abilities. A once dedicated gymnast, Harley is flexible, agile, and is an expert in hand to hand combat.

It is her mental capacity that I most connect with her, though. She is a woman who has gone through hell for someone she loves, although she knows that the relationship is no good for her. Joker is abusive, showing tender moments when he thinks it will suit the situation. In her New 52 storyline, she shows that she is strong enough to stand on her own two feet – she is done with Joker’s bad attitude towards her, and even goes so far as to beat him in a prison, during Volume 5, The Joker’s Last Laugh. She has what she wants in life now – she has a stable job, a lot of pets, and friends that she can depend on. Poison Ivy (or ‘Red’, as Harley calls her), is a wise character, keeping her on/off girlfriend/lover in check, but at the end of the day, Harley shows you don’t have to depend on others anymore. The knowledge that someone else is there for you though, is beautiful and holds meaning.

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Harley Quinn gives me faith that I can be as strong as she is. And that is the connection. Strength. Harley has been through so much, and she is still going. This is proof that I can be as strong as her. That strength, the words she speaks, that is what connects us. Besides, both of us being absolutely mental!

What character do you connect with? Please let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Biannual Bibliothon #4

Hey everyone, I’m back with another of the Biannual Bibliothon challenge’s. Today’s has been set by Bursting With Books, and it is all about a book that you have rated 3 stars or less! It was hard not to choose one straight away from my June wrap up, or a book that was massively part way through a series, but eventually I managed it.

Today I’m going to discuss Sword Art Online: Aincrad #2 by Reki Kawahara! Potential spoilers ahead.

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Sword Art Online follows players Kirito and Asuna as they become trapped in a deadly virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The only way to escape is to beat the game. For a seasoned gamer that’s easy, but there’s a catch. If you die in the game (are killed by an opponent/beast/fellow player, let your health bar fall into the red zone, or have chosen to commit suicide), you will die in reality too. Kirito as experience of the game prior to its launch, and with that knowledge, he is determined to beat the game once and for all.

This book I’m going to discuss is the second in the series, and is a collection of short stories from four different character perspectives. These are four women who have made a mark upon Kirito as he journeys around the different levels. All the stories featured are from Kirito’s time in Aincrad, the city and world, in which all the players are trapped.

The first story, The Black Swordsman, follows Kirito as he agrees to help beast tamer Silica bring back her familiar, Pina. Kirito has a much stronger level than Silica, but agrees to help her anyway. All is not what it seems, though. Kirito is also on a mission. He is hoping to find the leader of the orange guild (a guild that has committed crimes, such as theft) and put them in jail where they belong. In the end, Silica is pleased that she has a friend like Kirito, although she often wishes for his strength.

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The second story, Warmth of the Heart, follows Kirito as he accidentally breaks blacksmith Lisbeth’s best sword. The pair agree to work together on a quest to find a new material in the frozen lands. Lisbeth swears that she can create a new, better, stronger sword. Lisbeth grows to gradually care for Kirito on the journey, although she puts her feelings aside for her friend’s happiness in the end.

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The third story, The Girl in the Morning Dew, follows Kirito and Asuna as they take time away from the main game to honeymoon together – yes, players can get married in the game too! While out walking in the woods, they come across an abandoned girl, Yui. They decide to find someone that can take care of her, but they grow to become a family. Yui’s story is more complex, and it turns out that she isn’t a lost player, but an artificial intelligence (AI) created for the game. In my opinion, it’s the best story, and also the most heart-breaking.

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The final story, Red-Nosed Reindeer, focuses on Kirito’s past experiences when he joined a guild. He has strong levels, but finds friends in these members. He meets Sachi, and feels bound to protect her, but is sadly unable to. In the present day, Kirito takes part in a Christmas boss mission, and finds a ray of hope that he and Sachi can reunite. Instead, he receives an audio file, set to go off at Christmas time. In the end, Sachi finally speaks to him, giving him peace.

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I rated this book 3 stars, simply because some stories were better than other’s. Yui’s tale is beautiful and shows that families are not always what you expect them to be. It’s amazing how one person’s story can evoke so much emotion!

I’m not a fan of collected shorts from a book series, so I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as the first book in the series, which focuses on Kirito trying to beat the game. That means that there isn’t much that could have made my reading experience of Sword Art Online Aincrad #2 any better – it’s simply personal taste. I like anthologies, but collected short stories from different characters is a different thing entirely.

It is a well written novel though, and features some lovely graphics, but the stories play out better in the anime adaptation. I suppose you can connect more to the characters, in a sense. The characters in Sword Art Online are whimsical and real, with flaws and human emotions, but I don’t know why every woman that Kirito meets essentially falls in love with him! Maybe its a hero complex, I don’t know. Kirito is clueless to romance though, as he only has eyes for Asuna. They are the one true pairing (OTP) of Sword Art Online!

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3 stars is not a low rating to me. It means I enjoyed what I have read, but I had problems with it. It’s usually personal issues, with being unable to connect to the characters or some issue with the plot. It’s a nice, comfy middle ground.

2 stars, however, is not something that I struggled to finish and wasn’t enjoyed.

A 1 star is just plain awful. It’s not often I give out these ratings though, because I like to see the good in things!

The Sword Art Online novels have been very successful, with manga and anime adaptations. Due to the success, Reki Kawahara is able to take us beyond Aincrad, to places like ALfheim Online and Gun Gale Online, where more characters are introduced, such as Suguha/Leafa and Shino/Sinon!

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Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, the film, is due to be released soon, and there have been multiple video game counterparts, as well as merchandising and cosplay galore!

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What was the last book you rated 3 stars or less? As usual, if you have any recommendations, please let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Biannual Bibliothon #3

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Biannual Bibliothon blog challenges. Today’s challenge has been set by Pirates And Pixie Dust – The Villain Synopsis. The challenge is to pick a book you like, imagine that the story was written from the antagonists perspective, and rewrite the books synopsis from the villain’s perspective. This was so hard – I couldn’t narrow it down to one book! As for rewriting the blurb, the book I chose was very difficult, and almost was written from a villains perspective. So I went full blown synopsis. A book synopsis, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is an outline of everything that happens within the story. Including the ending, so beware. Spoilers ahead.

I’ve chosen a horror novel for today’s challenge – William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, which was originally published in 1971. The novel had great success and led to the cult film of the same name! So without further ado, it’s time to meet our villain!

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Demon Pazuzu, an ancient Assryian demigod, is disturbed when his statue is unearthed on an archaeological dig in northern Iraq. Pazuzu radiates omens to the elderly Jesuit priest, Father Lankester Merrin, unknowingly alerting him to a powerful future confrontation. Pazuzu is not content, however.

Twelve year old Regan MacNeil lives with her actress mother, Chris, who is busy filming for a new movie. Regan plays in the basement of their rented house with an old Ouija board, convinced that her imaginary friend Captain Howdy is playing with her. Unbeknown to Regan, Pazuzu is actually Captain Howdy, and starts to possess Regan. Pazuzu causes strange disturbances in the home, and then takes control of Regan. Under demonic possession, Regan refuses food and cannot sleep. She is withdrawn and frantic, and later becomes aggressive and violent. Pazuzu watches behind Regan’s eyes, as the child is subjected to medical and psychiatric treatments. During a dinner party, Pazuzu causes Regan to urinate herself in front of her mother’s dinner guests.

Chris, an atheist, pleads with a Jesuit priest for help. Pazuzu has his claws in Regan and is not relinquishing his hold, making her do more depraved acts. Pazuzu and Regan meet with Father Damien Karras several times. Karras is having a crisis of faith which Pazuzu manipulates, and eventually, Karras seeks permission to perform an exorcism.

Karras is partnered with Merrin to perform the exorcism. Pazuzu recognises Merrin, and taunts him, using Regan’s mouth, although the voice is the demon’s own. The exorcism begins and starts to test both priests – Pazuzu torments Karras over the loss of his mother, seeing him as a weak target. During the exorcism, the pressure mounts and Merrin dies of heart failure (having previously suffered with cardiac arrhythmia). Karras tells Pazuzu to take over himself, and to leave Regan, who is an innocent. Pazuzu seizes the opportunity to possess a priest, but this is his undoing. Karras jumps from Regan’s bedroom window, falling to his death. He regains his faith as last rites are read, and Pazuzu is finally exorcised.

Well that was harder than I thought it would be – but a lot of fun! Makes me want to reread and then rewatch The Exorcist all over again – it does have some memorable moments after all!

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Let me know what synopsis you would rewrite, with the villain’s perspective!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Biannual Bibliothon Day #2

Hey everyone, welcome to the second day of the Biannual Bibliothon – turns out I’ve started earlier than everyone else. Blog posts and the event are actually starting 23 July, but oh well. I’ve never had a head for dates and such, I’m such an idiot! Oh well, I’ve started so I’ll finish! I’m enjoying these blog prompts more than anything, and it’s a great way to keep writing.

Day #2 is hosted by MissSassyKassie who has asked participants to write a book review – something that our bookish community relies and thrives on! So without further ado, enjoy the first proper review on this blog! I read this for the Summer Biannual Bibliothon for the challenges Read a Book That Has Been Banned/Is Still Banned, and the Throwback Challenge – A Book Set in Another Country.

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Death Note Vol 1 is written by Tsugumi Ohba, with art by Takeshi Obata. This is a manga from Shonen Jump Advanced, who have published popular manga’s such as Bleach, Naruto and One Piece. This is the first volume in the twelve part series – each of the chapters are collected into one book, known in Japan as a ‘tankōbon’. Traditional manga is read right to left, which can be confusing for some people who are unfamiliar with these books. I consider myself a seasoned veteran, so I’m used to this – I’ve read and collected a lot of manga over the years, including seven of the Death Note books. The manga series relies heavily on the paranormal, police procedures/criminal investigations, and the concept of morality. Sounds good so far, right?

Death Note Vol 1 follows Light Yagami, a 17 year old, top student in Japan. Whilst his intelligence is through the roof, he is incredibly bored. As he leaves school one day, he finds a Death Note on the ground, and picks it up. A Death Note is a book where supernatural creatures, known as Death Gods or ‘shinigami’s’, write the names of humans. As the instructions say, ‘the human whose name is written in this note shall die’. At first, Light is sceptical of the notebooks abilities, until he witnesses its incredible power at work. And so begins Light’s journey, closely followed by shinigami Ryuk, as he begins to cleanse the world of criminals. Things aren’t as simple as that though. The Death Note has rules, and it isn’t long before the killing spree catches the attention of legendary detective L and his police cohorts. Light needs to bend his rules and guard himself against his enemies.

045_01_DNThe first book in the series is gripping – the concept of the Death Note is very interesting, with its many rules. Whilst Light and Ryuk explain the rules as the story progresses, the manga also prints pages of the Death Note, complete with the instructions such as: ‘If the cause of death is written within 40 seconds of writing the persons name, it will happen’. The artwork is incredibly detailed, especially Ryuk, who is imposing and definitely frightening for a shinigami. And as ever, it’s interesting to see how Japan is depicted – a country on my to visit list!

7a6461f86b681e7b2333e5c4fc12ad47However, the book does raise issues of morality. Is it moral to kill someone, even if they are a killer? This is something the book addresses straight away, with many of the police staff becoming aware of what is happening – Matsuda even states that within the past few days ‘there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of violent crimes committed worldwide, especially in Japan’. Light can choose whether to give people heart attacks or be cruel and provide descriptions of how someone dies – this could be physically and mentally damaging to not only himself, but to the readers. This is part of the reason why this book was banned in many cities of China… Its something that the reader starts to question – would they be able to do the moral thing? And what is moral?

The manga series had great success. Since its release, it has been adapted into two anime series (Death Note and Death Note: Relight). There has also been two light novels, a video game, six film adaptations (the sixth is coming to Netflix later this year), a TV series, and a musical. There has been merchandising and lots of cosplay of the many characters. Overall, I’d say it’s been a success!

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You can pick up Death Note from most booksellers as well as online stores, such as Amazon.

So that completes my first review and also this challenge! Have you read Death Note? What did you think to it? Let me know, and as always, if you have any recommendations, please let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.