Review on… The Bloodprint


Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all doing well. Today, I’m back with another book review, which is on Ausma Zehanat Khan’s adult fantasy novel The Bloodprint. It is the first in the Khorasan Archives series, and follows Arian, a member of the Companions of Hira, whose mission is to end the war started by the One Eyed Preacher and the oppressive spread of the Talisman. When it is thought that the Companions of Hira have discovered The Bloodprint, a script that can bring the One Eyed Preacher’s regime to an end, it is up to Arian and her second in command, Sinnia, to travel on a treacherous journey to find The Bloodprint, and bring it back to the council.

Generally, I think this book had a lot going for it. It comes across as being a feminist text, it’s set in a middle eastern setting and therefore the characters aren’t just white people; there is a lot of diversity, and it also looks at things such as religion, magic, and culture being important aspects of society and history. I think, as the start of a series, this has so much potential, and it was nice reading something with a lot of diversity, and a different perspective on the typical fantasy genre as a whole. I found that I was interested in the storyline the most, and I was curious to see what characters they meet on their journey, what else the world of Khorasan has to offer, and ultimately, what will happen when the characters finally get their hands on the Bloodprint.

However… I did have several issues with this book. Firstly, the world building. From the very first chapter onwards I found I was just a bit confused, and although I was intrigued enough in the plot to finish the book, it took me the entire month of May to get through! The Companions of Hira use an ancient scripture called the Claim to use their magic; however, it’s never explained what the Claim does, why it’s so important, and why these women are the ones who can use it. Throughout the novel, Arian is almost worshipped for being the First Oralist, but again… I didn’t know why that was so important.

Also, unless they are brought back in the books in the rest of this series, I kind of felt that bringing in loads of the companions at the beginning who weren’t actually that relevant to the rest of the story just added a bit more confusion for me. At the back of the book there is a list of characters, and many of them have “alternate” names that they go by; almost like nicknames. But I just didn’t understand why some had so many. This did unfortunately continue throughout the novel, with some of the other characters that they met along their journey. I could see why they added something to the story, but they weren’t always memorable. At one point, they meet the people of the young boy, Wafa, who Arian and Sinnia save from a slave train. They manage to save these people, but once they’ve been saved, I can’t actually remember what happened to them. Did Arian say goodbye? Where did they go? It just felt like they were there for no reason.

I had a bit of an issue with Khan’s writing style sometimes; she often told the story rather than showed it. For example, not only do some characters have other names they go by, but so do some buildings. She could describe these places in such a way that makes the reader feel like they’re reading about something special, but instead she often introduces them as “The Palace, also known as…” And this happened a lot. It annoyed me because I felt that Khan had so much more to give, and sometimes she was nearly there, but then it didn’t go any further.

*SPOILER AHEAD* There is a point towards the end of the story, when Arian and her friends have just found The Bloodprint, after breaking into a Talisman city, and they literally turn around to find they are going to get arrested. There seems to be no fighting, no attempt of escaping… they just give in. There is no explanation, and it just fell a bit flat for me. This wasn’t the only time that Khan just told the story, rather than showing it. The characters at this particular point had just been through a great big fight scene, so I can understand that maybe Khan had to start wrapping things up… but it just didn’t feel right. I had to read that part again, because I felt like I’d missed something.

The final issue I had was the fact that Arian’s love interest kiiiind of had to keep coming in to save the day. For a novel that prides itself on being a feminist story… this was a bit disappointing. There was a whole backstory between these two characters, and it was obvious from the get go that they would rekindle their love by the end of the novel. I’m all down for a bit of romance here and there, but Arian was more than capable of doing a lot of these things herself, instead of… whatever his name is. I know I should know it, but I honestly can’t remember!

Overall, I gave The Bloodprint 2.5/5 stars on Goodreads. Like I said, I really do feel it has potential, and I’m on the fence about continuing on with the series. Part of me hopes that the world building and Khan’s writing style will improve with time, but generally, I just felt that I didn’t really care about the magic system of the Claim, because it wasn’t established enough at the beginning. But, it ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, so of course, I am left wondering what will happen next.

Have you read The Bloodprint? If so, what did you think?

-Janet

Review on… Uprooted by Naomi Novik


Hey everyone!

Yesterday I finished reading Uprooted by Naomi Novik. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time but it’s one I’ve just not got around to reading! It’s been sitting on my shelf for about four years, so when I was thinking of what books I wanted to bring with me to Thailand, I knew I wanted to bring some of the books I’ve not read that have been waiting for me to read… so this one came along with me!

The story is about a young girl called Agnieszka, who lives in a small valley town, which is haunted by The Wood that looms over the valley. Not only that, but once every ten years, a girl from one of the valley towns is “chosen” by a wizard who goes by the name of The Dragon, to go to his tower. No one knows the purpose of this choosing, but soon Agnieszka is going to find out more than she’d expected…

I had some preconceived ideas about the plot of this book. I wasn’t expecting what was to come though! Overall, I really did enjoy this book, and often found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next, so I couldn’t put it down. I must say though, I found at the beginning and at the very end the pace was much slower than the majority of the book which was a shame, because I felt that, especially towards the end, I didn’t enjoy it so much. I thought it could have been a bit shorter than it actually was, by about three chapters or so.

However, I loved the main protagonist, I loved her friendship with Kasia, and I liked the way Novik created this fantasy world, which didn’t feel too complicated. Sometimes when I read fantasy or Sci-Fi novels, I feel overwhelmed with the descriptions of everything going on around the characters, but Novik kept this fairly concise, which I appreciated. I also loved The Wood as a character in itself, and its impact on each of the characters.

I did find that the love interest aspect of the novel was a bit unnecessary, and didn’t really add a whole lot to the book. It could have been just as good without it, and I kind of felt that it was thrown in there as an afterthought. I didn’t think the two characters had that much chemistry, so when their “relationship” started, I was somewhat surprised… but also kind of expecting something like that to happen. I don’t think the way it happened was done so well.

I felt that the action in the book was really gripping, and there were some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting to happen at all. However, in saying that, there were also some moments that I found fairly predictable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Although this may sound like a bad comment, there wasn’t really a huge amount that blew me away, but overall I did really enjoy this book and I would recommend reading it, if you’d like to read about magic, kingdoms, and a spooky forest! Like I said, the fantasy elements aren’t overdone, so it’s quite a nice read if fantasy isn’t usually your thing, or if you’re trying to break into the fantasy genre.

Have you read Uprooted? What did you think of it?

-Janet

Review on… Rocketman


Hey everyone!

Over the weekend I went to see Rocketman, the newly released, highly acclaimed musical biopic about the one and only Elton John. I remember when I first heard they were making a movie about Elton John, and I just thought… Bohemian Rhapsody has just come out… are they now just making movies about every famous musician ever? However, this didn’t stop my excitement for the film, and it was definitely one I knew I wanted to watch in the cinema.

And I’m glad I did.

Taron Egerton (most notable from Kingsman: The Secret Service and Sing) stars as Elton John/Reggie Dwight, and he is honestly perfect in the role. He looks so much like young Elton John, and what amazed me about the film in general is that the actors all sang, rather than just having the backing track playing over. I loved the choices in songs, and I loved how they placed them into parts of Elton John’s life.

It’s been advertised as an “epic musical story” and I’ve heard people saying how it’s magical, and a piece of art, and I did start to feel a bit worried that it would be one of those films that’s… too arty. Do you know what I mean? But I was truly blown away by the film, and I would happily go and watch it again. There was a lot about Elton John’s life that I didn’t really know much about- I knew his dad wasn’t so nice to him, but I didn’t know about his relationships with his other family members, and I didn’t know how sad his background was.

Watching it all on the big screen was an amazing experience, and there wasn’t a time where I felt bored. Honestly, I wanted the film to carry on, right up until the present day because I was that invested in it. I think my favourite part of the film… okay, I think there’s a couple. The first is the beginning. The opening sequence. It goes from Elton’s present as a fully grown adult, into his past through a musical number, and then suddenly we are thrown into the young Elton’s reality. It was very clever and immediately showed how the film was going to work. The second thing I liked was Elton and Bernie’s friendship. It was so real and though they had their ups and downs, it’s amazing that they’re still friends now and have never had a fight.

I think the thing that really made this movie for me was that it wasn’t like the screenwriters had just taken Elton John’s Wikipedia page and put it on a screen. They really made an effort to make it fun and enjoyable, while keeping the audience interested. The way they did this was by having flashbacks and obviously the music, to help tell the story. It worked so so well, and to be honest I’m struggling to fault it. Maybe if I see it a second time I’d notice something, but considering I don’t have anything negative to say right now, I’d say that’s a pretty good thing!

Have any of you seen Rocketman? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

-Janet

Review on… Captain Marvel


Hey everyone!

Wow what’s this, another review?! Why yes, yes it is! And today I’m writing fresh out of seeing Marvel’s latest movie, and their first female fronted Captain Marvel.

This film has definitely had a lot of hype surrounding this factor. It’s got a strong cast and the characters are some that we already know and love (including a young and very funny Nick Fury) as well as some new faces who definitely added something special to the story.

For those who don’t know, Captain Marvel (or Carol Danvers) is a Kree warrior, who is fighting a war against the enemy Skrull race. When she finds herself on Earth, she starts to uncover the truth about who she is and where she comes from…

In my opinion, Captain Marvel was really enjoyable, it was funny and I loved the 90’s nostalgia- this mostly came across at the beginning of the film when she crash lands into a Blockbuster store (not a spoiler, don’t worry!) and the music. However, there were times when I forgot she was in the 90’s, and I felt like the trailers hyped this up a bit. Not that the era of the film makes or breaks it, but I thought there’d be a few more references to the time in the film as a whole.

The humour was great, and I loved the relationship between Nick Fury and… Goose… The cat. If you know, you know. I think Brie Larson was perfect for the role, because she had a great mix of portraying #girlpower as well as showing her emotions, as this is a running theme throughout the film as something she struggles to control.

I also loved the fact that it wasn’t a big deal that a woman can be a superhero. She was just like any other Marvel superhero in the MCU, and the only problem I have with this is just how long it took Marvel to finally get to this point. Captain Marvel is badass, she’s funny, and she’s probably the most powerful superhero there is.

Plus, did I mention Goose the cat?

-Janet

Review on… Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine


Hey everyone!

It’s been ages since I last wrote a review of any kind, and so I am back today with a review on Gail Honeyman’s novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. 

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I had heard so much about this book from people both online and in person, and everything I’d heard about it was positive. The lady at Waterstones told me that Eleanor is an unlikable character at first and it would take me a while to actually like her, but then I’d end up loving both her and the book. I was a bit cautious when she told me this; why would someone use a main character who the reader doesn’t like? But I took the lady’s word for it and gave it a chance.

I’m not going to lie, it took me about 100 pages to actually get invested in the story. At the beginning, Eleanor’s narration I found kind of annoying and she takes everything so literally, but eventually, as her story begins to unfold, I really started to get a soft spot for Eleanor and I really wanted to know more about why she acts in the way she does, and I wanted to know more about her past.

Eleanor is, socially, kind of awkward. She has her set routines, she doesn’t have any friends, and she’s been working in the same job for the past nine years. But then she meets Raymond, a man who works in tech at her company, and soon the two become friends. Raymond helps Eleanor learn to take a different outlook on both life and the people around her, and he eventually becomes someone she can trust.

This novel is actually so heartwarming, heartbreaking, and full of humour. Everything about Eleanor makes sense by the end of the novel, and I felt so proud of her for being able to take control of her own life, thanks to the kindness and patience of Raymond, along with the other people she meets along the way. We learn that Eleanor had a troubled childhood, with her mother being incredibly abusive, but we do not really get to grips with her mother’s past until right at the end of the novel. Part of me was a little disappointed with the ending, and realizing the truth about who Eleanor has been talking to every week, but now I’ve had time to think about it, it actually works quite well and I get it now.

I would 100% recommend this book to anyone wanting to read something a little bit different. As I said, it took me a while to get into it, but I’m so glad I stuck with this book because I ended up loving it more than I thought I could.

-The Storyteller

Review on… Black Panther


Hey guys!

So, last night my housemate and I went to watch Marvel’s latest cinematic release, Black Panther. Honestly, this is quite possibly my new favourite Marvel film, but I have been a long term fan of Captain America, so I may have to watch Black Panther again…

We first met Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, and I’m really glad that they referenced that film enough for people who aren’t so familiar with the films and characters to get some background, but I also liked that this whole film was based on Black Panther himself, rather than the other characters we’ve already met.

I heard someone saying they felt the opening was too long, and there was too much at the beginning showing us Black Panther’s background, but I disagree. I felt it worked so well, and it was so important to have all of that at the beginning, because it linked with the rest of the film, and I personally love learning about the characters histories, and seeing how they end up where they are now.

One of the things I liked about the film is that the plot was more complex than it initially appears to be. I thought it would be a case of Black Panther having to get back the stolen Vibranium from Ulysses Klaue, but there are other sub-plots, and other characters which add to the story, and make it a whole lot better, without making the film feel like it’s cluttered and disorderly… does that make sense?

My favourite character by far was Shuri, because she is so funny, and she’s not like a typical “damsel in distress” character. She’s a princess, but she builds and creates all the technology used in Wakanda, and she knows that she is good at what she does. I just loved her the whole way through the film, and whenever she was on screen I smiled. She’s just so great. I also loved that the army was pretty much all women. Just going to put that out there.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the film, which I won’t spoil for you if you haven’t seen it yet, was how the battle scene ended… It was just a little bit disappointing but maybe that was just me.

So those are my thoughts on Black Panther, and I’d love to hear what you thought about it too!

-The Storyteller

Review on… Dunkirk (2017)


Hey guys!

Yesterday, my family and I went out to watch Christopher Nolan’s new film Dunkirk, which, if you didn’t already know, is about the events that happened in Dunkirk during the war. (I’d seen a lot of people on Twitter asking others not to spoil the film, but there really isn’t much to spoil- I’m sure most people know how it ended already!)

Anyway, the story follows several characters, and is in a non-linear narrative (which is apparently “very Christopher Nolan” style) which is made clear at the beginning of the film, where we see three different scenes; on the beach, the events take place over the course of a week; on the sea, the events take place over a day; and in the air, over an hour. I didn’t quite get this until my brother explained to me afterwards, and then the whole film made a lot more sense, because there were some scenes which took place at night, followed immediately afterwards by the fishermen in the middle of the day. As you can tell, it took me a while to click, and realise the relevance of the text at the beginning of the film, but in hindsight it was very clever and incredibly well done.

I’m not sure which character I liked the most, because, like most war films, it’s not exactly easy to enjoy. I think the characters were incredibly well casted, and was surprised how well Harry Styles did in his movie debut. Tom Hardy was an excellent choice as his role as a pilot, as were Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Brannagh and Fionn Whitehead, who was essentially the main character. The story begins following him and some comrades making their way to the beach, and Whitehead’s character joins the thousands of British soldiers waiting for British forces to take them home.

The main thing I took away from Dunkirk was the desperation to get home, and that survival was everything. This is especially highlighted in the scene towards the end when the soldiers find a boat which is unused, and tensions start rising when they start questioning whether everyone can be trusted. Like I said, it isn’t “enjoyable” in the normal sense, and I actually found it hard to watch, just because it felt so real. There were times when I felt sick- not that I wanted to throw up or because it was bad, or that there was so much violence, but more because I don’t know how anyone could handle being in a situation like that, and how men could put other men into a position like that.

It’s an incredible film, and I encourage anyone who loves film to go and watch it. Also my boyfriend was an extra because a lot of it was filmed around Weymouth, but that’s not the only reason you should go and watch it. It’s a major part of history which I’m sure will never be forgotten, and it definitely has no reason to be. And I think that’s why Nolan did this film- it’s not some war glorifying film, it shows the reality of it, and true human emotion when hope becomes more and more difficult to find.

-The Storyteller

Trail’s End Cycle Hotel


Hey guys!

Apologies for the unintentional hiatus, but I have been out of the country since Tuesday (well… technically Monday night) as I am visiting South Africa again this summer! It's been great catching up with family and friends again, but that does mean a lack of internet connection so unfortunately, blog posts will be very few and far between.

BUT I do currently have internet, so I thought I would take this opportunity to do a bit of cheeky promoting (not sponsored, I'm just nice). My uncle started up a Bike Hotel last year, and this is the first time I've seen it completed. It is situated in Grabouw, in the Elgin Valley and if you're a keen mountain cyclist, then this really is the place for you.

South Africa is big on cycling, and there are many cycle events that take place during the year, such as the Argus which, from what I've heard, is pretty tough! Trail's End is in a perfect location- situated in a peaceful valley, there are so many trails to take for people of all abilities. Let's not forget the Pilates and Yoga studio, and the conference room, too!

The building of the hotel itself is in fact my uncle's old factory, which he converted into a warehouse like hotel in 2015. There are a mix of en suite bedrooms and shared bathrooms, all of which are of an extremely high standard, plus there are rooms for families too- there really is something for everyone.

If you're a triathlete then Trail's End is the perfect place for you, with a 20m pool, with two lanes and diving blocks, and miles and miles of trails to run along, as well as cycling of course! With a kitchen and a bar on site, along with a library and two fireplaces, the interior definitely has a cosy vibe for cold winter nights, but I'm sure in summer, there is nothing better than sitting outside with a cold drink, watching the sunset.

As I mentioned, there are family rooms, and it is definitely a family friendly environment. There is a climbing wall, a jungle gym and many other activities for families with young children. So whether you are a professional athlete or enjoy cycling for fun, I would definitely recommend visiting Trail's End. Whether you're from South Africa or thinking of visiting, this is definitely somewhere to check out, and I'll leave all the links to their social media and website at the end of this post!

-The Storyteller

  • Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @TrailsEndZa
  • Website: Trail's End

Review On… Spider Man Homecoming


Hey guys!

I went to watch the latest Spider Man film a few days ago, and I will say that it definitely deserves all the hype it’s been getting.

I recently felt like a lot of Marvel movies were having too much of a focus on the Avengers when it wasn’t an Avengers film *cough* Captain America Civil War *cough* and when I saw Tony Stark in the trailers for Spider Man, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. This was supposed to be introducing Tom Holland’s Spidey and I really didn’t feel like watching another movie where Iron Man is taking the focus away from a smaller character because… he’s Iron Man.

However, I was definitely proven wrong because although Iron Man/Tony Stark is featured a lot in the trailers, his appearance in the film itself isn’t overpowering at all. It actually works really well, and I liked how he was there as a mentor figure and didn’t get involved with Peter’s life too much.

Another plus was that we didn’t get the entire back story AGAIN. There have been three actors play Spider Man over the past 15 years or so, and though backstories are important, they’re not necessary when the character is already so well established, and audiences know it all by heart anyway. I think it was a good move on Marvel to leave it out, because it made room for other new things to be included.

I loved Holland’s portrayal of Parker/Spidey, and I definitely think he is my favourite actor of the role so far. I’ve seen almost all of the Spider Man films with both Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire, and though they weren’t all terrible (they weren’t all amazing either), Tom Holland definitely played the role in a way that seemed to make the character more genuine, in a way. He is the youngest actor to play Spider Man so far, and though he is young, it actually makes a lot of difference- in a good way. He is playful, but it doesn’t seem out of place, or forced.

But he is also of an age where he wants to be a part of something bigger and better, and when Tony Stark keeps telling him to lay low, and that he has to wait to become an Avenger, he just wants to prove him wrong and show that he is good enough. I’m sure we all hate being told we’re not good enough at something, and so I really related to Parker in this way.

I will say, waiting for BOTH end scene credits is worthwhile in this film, because they are both great and you won’t be disappointed.

Have you seen Spider Man Homecoming? What did you think of it?

-The Storyteller

Review on… Wonder Woman


Hey guys!

I have now been to see Wonder Woman twice in the cinema now, and I will gladly watch it as many times as possible while it’s still on the big screen. Wonder Woman is DC’s latest release, and it’s been breaking all sorts of Box Office records- and it has every reason to.

Wonder Woman shows the back story of Diana Prince, an Amazon, whose purpose is to protect the world from Aires, the God of War. The Amazons appear to live a life of luxury, until Pilot Steve Trevor is rescued by Diana, bringing with him the German ships who are after him. It is here when the Amazons learn of the First World War, and Diana knows it is her purpose to find Aires and stop him, with the help of Trevor.

When Diana enters the “real world”, she is very naive and sees it all in a different view. However this doesn’t hold her back, and she keeps proving that she is worth more than the men of 1918 London think. Although Trevor doesn’t believe that Aires is behind the War to End All Wars, Diana keeps true to her goal, and for the entire film does not let anyone else’s opinion defy her own.

I freaking loved this film, if you hadn’t already gathered. This is the first female fronted superhero film, and Patty Jenkins did an excellent job of directing it too. I loved Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, because although she is an Amazon, she is so genuine and sees the good in people, even when they are living in such a troubling time. We all know I’m a feminist, and this film breaks so many boundaries and I don’t know why it’s taken so long for a female fronted superhero film to come to our screens. Wonder Woman is so badass, and every single fight scene is just as hardcore and exciting as any other superhero film.

My favourite scene in particular is the No Man’s Land scene. If you’ve already seen the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Both times I watched it it gave me chills, and the music they play in the trailer is used quite a lot throughout the film too, and whenever they played it in any of the fight scenes it just gave me goosebumps because it was so freaking cool.

I just. I can’t. It’s so good. It’s more than that. It’s everything you’d want in a superhero film and more. I also think It’s saved DC, because it’s far better than Batman vs Superman, which was when Wonder Woman made her first appearance, and it was even better than Suicide Squad. So, I just hope that the Justice League films will equal the standard of Wonder Woman.

Have you seen Wonder Woman yet? What were your thoughts?

-The Storyteller