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I swoon over fictional men

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October 2016

‘HEX’ Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Halloween review special)

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Okay, this is in no way a paranormal romance novel. Paranormal, yes. Romance, no…unless, of course, you get off on curses and dead ladies with sewn shut eyes. Whatever. I’m not here to judge…much, anyway.

Black Spring is just your run-of-the-mill, small American town (is it, though? I say this but have yet to actually visit a small American town). Okay, okay. Let me rephrase that. Black Spring is probably your run-of-the-mill, small American town. On the surface, it seems to have everything a prospective resident could desire. Friendly townsfolk, picturesque woodland walks…and a resident 17th century witch with sewn shut eyes and mouth.

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Affectionaly knowns as ‘Gramma’ in some Black Spring households

Oh shit. That wasn’t on the tourist information site? Oops. My bad.

After 350 years under Katherine van Wyler’s curse, the residents of Black Spring are accustomed to her presence. She walks their streets, she enters their homes uninvited, bound in ancient chains and staring at them with blind eyes that still see all. 

The youth of Black Spring, yearning for freedom and progress, decide it’s time for a long overdue revolution. Armed with nothing but camcorders and courage (or stupidity, take your pick) they go about documenting their encounters with the Black Rock Witch.

Soon, events take a horrifying turn and the residents of Black Spring find themselves being slowly pulled into a living nightmare from which they can never escape.

Original, heartbreaking and bone-chillingly eerie. These are the three words that best sum up Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s HEX. It’s been a loooooooong time since I’ve had to put down a book because I’ve felt too unnerved to read another page, but this is exactly what HEX did to me. I was reading a particularly creepy scene in bed a few nights ago and I suddenly felt like…I wasn’t quite as alone as I’d thought. I hastily snapped the book shut and placed it on my nightstand, opting to flick through a light-hearted, trashy magazine instead. Additionally, it’s also been a while since I’ve had book-induced nightmares. These two factors alone make HEX one of the best horrors I’ve ever read.

One of the many things I liked about this book is that it utilizes a reader’s imagination. There’s a saying; less is more. And less is definitely more in this instance. As opposed to in-your-face, blood-and-guts horror, HEX focuses on the unseen and the unknown and all the horrific possibilities these two things could entail. Throughout the book, we bear witness to the beginnings or endings…but never to the interims. The gaps are left for our overly sensitized, active imaginations to fill. The imagination is limitless and with the encouragement of a few choice words can conjure some truly terrifyingly unnerving images.

HEX offers insight into the human psyche and forces us to face a barrage of uncomfortable questions. What would we do if faced with this situation? Would we join forces with our neighbors, a united front against a seemingly unstoppable ‘evil’? Or would we rely on our most primal instincts, taking whatever measures to survive? Every man for himself and all that.

Oh and the ending. Shocking and unexpected in ways that words cannot even describe. All I can say is read this book!

A fantastic read and one that’s apparently being turned into a TV series.

Rating: 5/5

Song: Two Steps from Hell’s Dark Ages

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Three days off!

And three days in which I hope to catch up on blogging and finally vacuum and dust the house (the latter is probably not gonna happen, let’s be realistic)

Date night features, reviews and what not coming right up! Just watch this space. Watch it for a while actually, I really need to sleep first. I had a 4am start this morning and I’m so sleepy now 😦

The Versatile Blogger Award

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First and foremost, a massive thank you to Brooklyn for the nomination! Be sure to go check out and follow her blog. It’s awesome ❤

Rules: Write 7 facts about yourself (you might regret reading mine) and then nominate ten other bloggers 😀

1. I have a slight obsession with pandas…the below is but a small portion of my collection.

2. I’m a heavy metal kinda girl. People always seem surprised when they hear this? Never sure whether to be offended by this or not.

3. I’m really interested in all things paranormal…the theme of the books I read probably means this comes as no surprise 😛 I just love the idea that there’s something beyond what we perceive in our everyday reality.

4. I lived and worked in Japan for over a year. It was a massive step for me because I’m quite an anxious person, but it helped me grow on so many levels. I became more assertive, more confident and way more independent than I was following university.

5. I have tattoos and really need *coughs* I mean, want, to get more. I got my first tattoo at 18 and have been addicted ever since. It’s hilarious because I’m too squeamish to get a piercing but I’m apparently okay with having a needle puncture ink into my skin repeatedly for four hours…

6. I’m an emotional person. I can cry for literally any reason. Earlier on I was sobbing when an advert for rescue dogs came on the TV. I think I just experience life very intensely haha

7. My love for reading arose from a desire to fit in at school. When I was around 6 or 7 years old, I was behind academically. I could only just spell my name and, as a result, I had to sit outside the classroom with a teaching assistant. I would pracise reading and writing each evening after school and thanks to my imagination – which constantly needs feeding and requires an outlet for its own ideas – my reading and writing skills flourished.

I nominate:

  1. Rant and Rave About Books
  2. The Bookish Libra
  3. juliesbookland blog
  4. It’s a Reader’s Life
  5. To Grace the Pages
  6. Romancing Myself
  7. A Blog of One’s Own
  8. Books, Coffee & Passion
  9. Birdie Bookworm
  10. Esther

And anybody else who wants to join in on the fun! If any of the above nominees have already received this award, my apologies for tagging you again ❤

 

I’ll tell you what’s more luxurious

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A sofa, a book and a cup of tea…with biscuits. Yes, definitely with biscuits.

A sad, undeniable truth

It’s not very often that a simple sentence flaws me, leaving me pondering the ways of the world for several minutes afterwards.

But that is exactly what my current read – Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost – did earlier this evening. The main character, Leila, is describing a man she’s seen and her description is as follows:

“…All set off by a handsome face with lines that on men were called ‘character’ and on women were considered cause for a Botox appointment.”

The way its written, in a very off hand, almost nonchalant manner, makes Ms Frost’s dig at the patriarchal nature of our society quite subtle. But it’s there. It’s most definitely there and it’s something that really got me thinking about the hypocrisy we face due to huge gender divides.

If an older man dates a younger woman, no one bats an eyelid…yet if an older woman dates a younger man she’s called a ‘cougar’, a term that is both unflattering and derogatory. The first examples that spring to mind are Michael Douglas (72) and his wife Catherine Zeta Jones (47), and Sam Taylor Johnson (49) and Aaron Taylor Johnson (26). The former are considered a Hollywood Golden couple and yet the latter’s relationship has come under intense media scrutiny over the years.

In a lot of action movies, the male lead can be middle-aged. Some of the actors playing the Avengers are fine examples of this. We’ve got Robert Downey Jr (51) and Jeremy Renner (45) both in lead roles but the female lead roles, played by Scarlett Johansson and Elizabeth Olsen, are comparatively younger. Sure, there is Gweneth Paltrow in her early forties as Pepper Potts but she’s not exactly playing a leading role. If you get me?

Also, a completely random example…but thongs! I was listening to The Guilty Feminist podcast at the gym today and they raised an interesting point. Thongs (allegedly, I haven’t actually researched this) were designed as a way of ensuring women could wear any outfit and not have a VPL (visible panty line). But do we see men wearing these uncomfortable garments? Sure, some do but the for most part the answer is no. Men are free to wear low-lying jeans that flash their snazzy new Calvin Klein’s. They don’t care about a VPL. Hell, they want VPs (visible pants)!

Why is there this divide? Why is it that I open magazines and see Leonardo DiCaprio being praised for being like whiskey and getting better with age, but women being slated for the natural lines that come with age? And they can’t win…if they try and do something about these natural, normal lines, they’re accused of being ‘fake’ and of ‘overdoing’ it.

What do women have to do to catch a break?

Phew. Wow. That was a lot longer than I anticipated.

 

Date nights with Lucien and Reyes

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*lets myself into your house and begins making a pot of tea* Heeeeeey there. How’s it going? *starts opening and closing cupboards* Do you have any biscuits? What do you mean “no”!? *staggers backwards in horror* What the hell do you dunk in your tea!?

Anyway *settles for a chocolate bar* I Swoon Over Fictional, Non-human Men HQ have been incredibly kind to me this week. They temporarily released from my contract so I could go on a course…but now I have to work doubly hard to catch up on the dates I failed to arrange for you! Please forgive me *hands you your own chocolate bar* Here, take this as compensation.

*hoists myself onto the kitchen counter and begins sipping my tea* So, I’ve got a real treat in store for you tonight. Tonight *dramatic drum roll can be heard in the next room* Thanks for that, Illium *whispers* Our date went pretty well…*clears throat* Yeah, tonight you’re going on a date with not one but two eligible bachelors/Lords of the Underworld. Pretty nice, huh? With Lucien’s ability to teleport, he and Reyes could be here, like, any minute. So I best get a wiggle on and tell you what to expect from tonight. Date nights with Lucien and Reyes will probably/definitely include:

  1. A typical bacheloresque style dinner. Takeout pizza, anyone?
  2. You and Lucien restraining Reyes as he tries to leap from a window.
  3. Paris joining you guys in the entertainment room and trying to reassure Lucien and Reyes that he will not seduce you…he’ll simply try. Stay strong!
  4. Lucien and Reyes snarling at each other if they feel the other is doing a better job of impressing you.
  5. Catching Reyes trying to sneak out of another window.
  6. Lucien getting sick of Paris’ flirting and banishing him to the kitchen to bake cookies.
  7. Lucien flashing (am I the only who finds that term hilarious?) you and Reyes to safety so you can eat freshly baked cookies in peace.
  8. Deciding to end the night with drinks and dancing in the local nightclub in town.
  9. Being ambushed by Hunters who seem to think you’re the Lords’ hostage.
  10. Reyes cutting short their would-be rescue with a bad case of death before accompanying you and Lucien back to the fortress for video games.

*shrieks and falls off the counter as Lucien materializes* Dude. Some warning next time? Maybe a text to say “Yo, gonna be with you in two point three seconds exactly”?

Have fun. In fact, be sure to have double fun!

Not book related but exciting nonetheless!

Sooooo…I completed the classroom part of my TEFL course this weekend and look at the uber nice reference letter they gave me! It means I’ll be able to start applying for jobs before completing the online part 😀 Feeling so happy and positive!

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‘Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night’ Kresley Cole

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Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, book four in the Immortals After Dark series, basically had me hyperventilating before I’d even turned onto the first page. Why? Well, the male lead is a Lykae…and not just any Lykae. He’s Lachlain’s cousin. As in sexually-assaulted-Emma-at-any-given-opportunity Lachlain (as if I needed to specify. Not sure about you but I’ve yet to meet someone with that name). I was genuinely fearful of what the next 359 pages would bring.

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Me at the phrase “Lachlain’s cousin”

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night begins mid-way through the Hie, a deadly contest with competitors from the many different factions of the Lore. Lykae competitor Bowen MacRieve will allow nothing to stand between him and the final prize; a chance to reverse time…a chance to bring back his long-dead love, Mariah. Maddened by his desire to win, he imprisons Mariketa the Awaited and thinks nothing more of it…until he realizes just how vulnerable the young witch is.

When dark forces unite against her, Bowen vows to play the role of protector, but can Mariketa forgive his past deeds?

Alright, alright. I take it back, okay? I may have been quick to judge the entire Lykae race based on the actions of their king. Bowen MacRieve is actually, well, okay. Sure, he encapsulates most of the traditional Lykae traits: an inflated ego, arrogance, cockiness and unbearable brashness. But he’s still an inherently good person. A lot of his behavior stems from the loss of Mariah 180 years previous (ooo just wait for the plot twist on her!) and when you hear of the suffering he’s endured since it becomes somewhat forgivable. When he realizes the irreparable harm he might have caused Mariketa, he is literally on the first plane outta Lachlain’s sex dungeon *coughs* Shit, I mean home. And he’s still missing a hand and half his face at this point, too! (Damn hexes) He’s the alpha male a lot of people crave…fiercely protective and somewhat arrogant, yet kind, gentle and sweet when need be. Bowen, I would like to formally apologize for misjudging you so greatly *bows*

Mariketa the Awaited is, dare I say it, my number one favorite paranormal romance leading lady of all time. She hasn’t quite reached immortality (a point reached at someone’s prime), competing in the Hie at the tender age of 23 and for this very reason she’s such a relatable character. She has an iPod with cat stickers pasted on it and thrives off video games and music. These actions are just so…normal. And it’s great! If Mariketa were real, I feel me and her would be great friends. I sticker the shit out of everything. Additionally, I admire Mariketa’s strength and I don’t mean in a physical sense. Her powers, though great, are uncontrollable. When she channels her power towards something, there’s a 99% chance it’ll blow up. Not the most settling statistic. However, she understands that she has a role to play in a prophecy and knows that a life with Bowen could be catastrophic for everyone no thanks to Häxa, a bitter goddess demoted to a sorceress eons before. She’s willing to sacrifice her happiness to ensure the happiness and safety of others.

Also, I love how this book pokes fun at the age gap trope found within the paranormal romance genre. Mariketa openly teases Bowen about his age, dubbing him ‘Father Time’ and her dad, in a traditional protective dad pose of crossed arms and narrowed eyes, asks “Aren’t you a bit old for my daughter?” Love it!

Rating: 4/5

Song: ABBA’s I’ve been waiting for you

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This book is available on Amazon in e-reader format and paperback.

 

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