500 Followers, A Milestone Post

Since it’s conception in 2013, this blog has had many purposes, many milestones, many birthdays. It is the one safe place; the one continuous space, where I can write freely and know my words will not only be seen but appreciated.

I just wanted to say thanks, to old and new followers – you make it worth posting. I know I am a bit of a sporadic blogger, but my work/life balance leaves something to be desired. I really appreciate the loyalty.

Thank you all so much for the love and support, and I hope we will be seeing more of each other soon.

Love, Mel ❤

Brainy Belle, Sarcastic Beast and the Periodically Accurate Teapot (Beauty and the Beast Movie Review)

One of my first memories was of watching a charming, witty, brown-haired bookworm teach the men in her life a thing or two – and I was enthralled. I am delighted to say, that Disney has done it once again and given us a brainiac for a princess.

STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

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Belle herself is physically matched with Emma Watson, however, the 2017 live-action gives us a few more (very much appreciated) quirks. For one, her everyday ‘peasant’ dress is slightly askew to show that she wears trousers/bloomers underneath – which is always seen as a deliberate wardrobe choice for empowered female characters.

The Beauty is also the Inventor in the new story – not her father, which was a wonderful way to show her independence when she invents the washing machine so she can read for longer.

Along with the addition of her dearly departed mother’s back story, there are some charming tweaks to the story which I am sure many fans will be happy with.

Belle’s script doesn’t change an awful lot when it comes to her conversations with the Beast, although there is certainly a lot more humor and sarcasm between the two of them, which adds a whole new layer to the famous library scene.

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Speaking of the Beast – he was a surprise and a half on-screen. A live-action movie meant that the actor playing Beast (Dan Stevens), could have his facial expressions portrayed more accurately, making the character far more realistic.

There have been several online comments about how the Beast isn’t attractive enough once he transforms – which is absolutely ridiculous for two reasons. Firstly – Dan Stevens is a very attractive man. Secondly – those people are missing the point of the movie. It’s a beautiful tale about a girl falling in love with the man underneath the darkness, seeing past the physical to get to his soul. Belle certainly isn’t going to go through all that, see that he’s not that hot and change her mind.

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I went to the cinema quite hung up on the change to the appearance of the enchanted antiques, ie Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth. However, I will concede to the fact that they are almost certainly more periodically accurate.

Emma as Mrs. Potts was a wonderful choice, although I’m not sure about her accent choice; her singing is simply perfect for the role. (Oh – and she has feet now!)

I was quite fond of the animated versions, but I am aware they faced many challenges when it came to actually animating and interacting with the character; one being Lumiere doing a can-can kick during Be Our Guest. But with the addition of some suitable limbs, he can kick away with the side plates.

lefou-comparison.jpgGaston and Lefou are interesting characters, and I’m sure there are many articles discussing at length the obvious sexual orientation of Lefou. But I am more interested in some of the more subtle aspects to their personality.

Lefou is not a simple character by any means, which is shown in the end battle when he helps Mrs. Potts and turns his back on Gaston.

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Gaston is given a new layer in regards to his attitude and violence, by making him a soldier who has recently returned from war. Whilst somewhat implied in the original movie, it is plainly said in the new version. What’s more, he is made to look a fool in terms of literacy, when Lefou says ‘Ah, je ne sais quoi’ and Gaston replies, ‘I don’t know what that means.’

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The only addition to the story that I wasn’t moved by was the Enchantress. She is added to the plot as a homeless spinster who has been watching over the corner by Belle and Maurice’s house for many years. This is probably supposed to be an act of foreshadowing, but it is certainly a change that will go straight over a child’s head.

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The Romeo and Juliet string to the plot appears once more. Not only is it supposedly the loose basis for the story, it is also mentioned by the characters in both movie versions.

Literacy plays a huge part in both, however, in the latest edition, it is far more significant. For one thing, not only can the Beast read, but he knows his Shakespeare and even goes as far as to mock Belle’s enjoyment of the famous star-crossed lover’s tale.

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The soundtrack is incredible – there is no doubt about it. It is the perfect mixture between the classic, well-loved songs, and some beautiful new tracks. The Beast gets his own song when he pines for Belle, and it really adds to his character.

The singing wardrobe has her own mini love story with her husband the grand piano, which is quite sweet to watch. She is also featured in a lot of the soundtrack as she as shown as one of the performers from the first ball at the beginning of the movie.

Whilst I will always have a place in my heart for the 1991 version, this new portrayal certainly deserves a place too. The cast, the music, and the quirks are stunning, and I can’t wait to buy the DVD, all the merchandise and probably the soundtrack.

Oh, and Disney – you need to make Enchanted Christmas as a sequel!

 

 

Saying Farewell to my Pseudonym

The blog-fans among you will know that I have removed my pseudonym, Melody Carter, from the Internet. She’s gone now. *RIP fictional version of myself*

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I’ve waved goodbye to her website, her Facebook page, and her Twitter. I’ve exported all her churlish attempts at Children’s Fiction or bizarre tries at Adult Writing. She isn’t working well for my writing career, so, like the proverbial rose – she had to be dead-headed.

(Although the design for that website was pretty awesome, so I may have to move the typography over to another site… we will see!)

I found Melody Carter no longer had a place or standing in my writing portfolio; she had become just an extra tab on my social media to ignore and avoid during the low moments.

Any writer can tell you that this is not a fun career choice by any means – particularly as there is no money in it. So it becomes hard to justify your meager efforts when you are spread so thin across your many pen names.

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Instead, (if rather late in the day) I have decided to solely write under my own name; no pseudonyms or pretenses. Just little me and my little words on my little books.

I hope you can all get behind me on this, and as you have all been such lovely readers; I am sure you will be.

I’ll be back soon with some news about my upcoming novel, Finding Jennifer, but for now; I’m off to drink tea and ponder over Chapter 12.

Alan The Christmas Donkey | Recent Reads

​Recent Reads: Whilst on the train back from Wales recently,  me and my mom ended up reading Alan The Christmas Donkey by Tracy Garton. 

It’s a sweet, funny book all about the donkey sanctuary the author set up twenty years ago, and the donkeys she adopts along the way; the most mischievous of all being Alan. 

It’s a quick read and a good laugh, and quite an eye opener to the amount of work that goes into these sanctuaries. Worth a read! 

They have a website where you can learn a little bit more about their donkeys: http://www.radcliffedonkeys.com

Sex In Books | Not That Sexy (16+ content)

sex in books.pngEveryone loves a cheeky sex scene in a romance novel; or those secret make-out sessions in your favourite Young Adult series, but there’s a line.

With a society that is climatized to seeing sex in everything, perhaps no sex in a book is the New Sexy?

If an author tells you they have never written a salacious sex scene – they ar lying. But, ask them if it ended up in the book, and some will say no.

For my novel, Searching For Katherine, I wrote a sex scene for the night of Jennifer’s wedding – and then deleted half of it. Yes, I kept some of the build-up and the tension in, but there is no actual sex in the sex scene.

Sometimes, the idea of sex is sexier than the act itself. And sometimes, sex isn’t sexy. 

the-russian-concubineIn The Russian Concubine by Kate Furvinall, there is a sex scene between the two main characters who are roughly fifteen or sixteen years old. The boy is injured and weak, the girl tending to his wounds as she hides him the shed from her family.

It is a sweet, tender moment, but it is – naturally – a very awkward and fumbling scene. Why? Because virgin teenagers don’t know how to have sex, so it would be ridiculous for the author to have pretended otherwise. It is a beautifully written scene and one I have specially marked in my copy. I read it when I need reminding that sex isn’t always the sinners show it’s perceived to be. Sometimes, sex is communication.

It is a beautifully written scene and one I have specially marked in my copy. I read it when I need reminding that sex isn’t always the sinners show it’s perceived to be. Sometimes, sex is communication.

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It’s difficult to write an article about sex in books without mentioning the elephant in the room: Fifty Shades of Grey. Originally written as a sexy Twilight fan-fic, and quickly tidied up when the website when crazy and was picked up by a publishing house; Fifty Shades is the perfect example of Sex Overload in fiction.

I won’t waste too much time talking about this series, but if memory serves me right; there’s a lot of pretty ridiculous sex in this book series. They have sex anywhere and everywhere, several times a day and it some strange positions and situations. I think Mr .Grey needs to see a therapist because he just can’t keep it in his pants.

The sex is completely unrealistic – however, it also proves that sometimes there is only one way to write a sex scene: badly. E.L James repeats the same phrases and rhythms throughout the book, giving all the scenes a very samey vibe. But, she is an international best-selling author; so she must have gotten something right!

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Perhaps sex scenes in books scene somewhat ridiculous because they are a little bit more real than we’re used to.

Most adults have watch pornography at some time or another, and we’ve all seen those perfect six-pack muscle men with engorged penises and perfect bodies. They give women expectations of what a man should look like in bed, and I’m afraid to say that not every man is built like Superman. Nor, should they be!

And for the men, those poor bastards are relentlessly shown swimwear models with tidy, toned bodies and tiny waists. None of these women have scars or stretch marks, none have bore children and they certainly don’t look like the women we see in the high street doing their shopping.

Why is porn so popular? Because we like to fantasize. Why does sex suck in books? Because sometimes… you’ve just got to use your imagination – and the only references most of us have are porn sites and some embarrassing sex stories of our own.

And because reading the word penis is never going to be as sexy as seeing one! 

So maybe next time you read an awkward sex scene in a book; remember that sometimes it’s better in real life than it is on the page; give the author the benefit of the doubt. And, if it’s really bad, just skip it.

Got an opinion? Share it in the comments! 

The Snow Killer | Free On Kindle This Weekend!

As my book birthdays are fast approaching, I thought I’d celebrate by making The Snow Killer FREE on Amazon Kindle! Details and links below.

The Snow Killer (plot):

When Danny Fores loses his family in a car accident, he sinks into depression. Two years later, he’s still blaming himself for their death. When Danny meets Diane Warner, a thirty-five year old lawyer: she brings the good, the bad and the murderous to his door.

But can he cope?

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Term start date: October 28, 2016
Term end date:   October 31, 2016

The Snow Killer is available on the following and more sites for FREE:

Amazon UK   Amazon US   Amazon FR   Amazon CA   Amazon AU  Amazon DE

The Fault in Our Stars | Book Review

tfios-melissaholden94I spent a long time avoiding this book, and I feel like an idiot for it.

I did cover the topic briefly in my John Green article I posted a couple of weeks ago, but the general premise is that I was swayed by other people’s opinions and basically didn’t get John Green’s work a chance.
I didn’t give his books the time and devotion to reading that they deserve, and believe me when I say: I regret that and I plan on catching up pretty damn quick.

The Fault In Our Stars was first published January 2012 under Penguin – the sixth book by John Green -, and has since sold 10.7 million copies worldwide.  The movie adaptation came out in 2014, and the screenplay was co-written by the author himself, which attests for how close a resemblance the screen version has to the original novel.

green_2The plot (in case you’ve been living under a rock – as I have!): (Sourced from Amazon UK)

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

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Hazel: 16-year-old Hazel-Grace has accepted her cancer-ridden fate and is pretty much living in her day to day routine, waiting for death. Her coddling mother thinks Hazel has depression so often forces her to socialize with other ‘cancer kids’.

She has been living with cancer for a long time, so has since grown used to life with rubbish lungs. She gets on with school and reading and seeing friends when she can, and is pretty settled – if unhappy – wth her routine. But when she meets Augustus Waters at a ‘cancer kids’ meeting, all that goes out the window.

03f45905f29d65c365f67d5498014173Augustus Waters: Originally introduced as your typical tall, dark and handsome, Gus is a one-legged cancer survivor and romantic lead of The Fault In Our Stars. He is quick to admit his attraction to Hazel, and is not deterred by her initial rejections of a relationship.

Originally introduced as your typical tall, dark and handsome, Gus is a one-legged cancer survivor and romantic lead of The Fault In Our Stars. He is quick to admit his attraction to Hazel, and is not deterred by her initial rejections of a relationship. He is weird as he as beautiful, so he’s a perfect match for our main girl.

Van Houten: Van Houten, the author of Hazel’s favourite (fictional) novel, An Imperial Affliction, is the typical example of ‘never meet your heroes’. He’s a drunk, a fool and a rude old man who doesn’t feel he should waste his time writing a sequel to Hazels’ cherished book, let a lone answer some of her questions. He has some secrets of his own, but they aren’t revealed until later on, making him somewhat of a bitter but one-leveled character until the end.

3f10f7365f73d9b28ffccb50e24a844d1eb8755616c22a72abb09a3ec295b4bdRomance: Neither Gus or Hazel are your typical love interest, however – which makes this a far more interesting read. It’s not just your average star-crossed lover’s tale (although there is some element of Shakespearean tragedy towards the end of the book).

Cancer: I can’t review the book without mentioning one of its main themes: cancer sucks. There is no beautification of cancer in this book as far as I am concerned, and I am so glad for that.

John Green wrote from experience about the issues and pain and day-to-day suffering of a ‘cancer kid’, so it stands to reason that his depiction of two teenagers with cancer would be more or less accurate.

I personally knew someone who had this sucky illness, and there were places in this novel that sent a shiver down my spine: because I had seen them happen in real life. It cannot have been easy for Green to write this, and particularly as there was such a backlash concerning it, so for that alone; I applaud him.

The Fault in Our Stars continues to raise money for The Teenage Cancer Trust, click here if you would like to find out a bit more about the charity. 

Overall review: I really wish I hadn’t waited four years to read this amazing novel, and I am happy to say that it’s up there with my favourite novels. It is a heart-wrenching, beautiful novel that is very hard to put down. So for god’s sake – read it. download

Other Recommendations:

If you’re interested in reading books about Cancer and how disastrous it can be from a true-life perspective, I recommend Discussing Wittgenstein by Ann Drysdale.

Plot: (Sourced from Amazon UK)

Launched at the 2009 Hay festival, Discussing Wittgenstein picks up the story of Philip Grey and Ann Drysdale after their near death-bed marriage and Philip s return home. It is the end of a remarkable love story, but it is also much more; a tender, poignant testimony to how personal mythologies are built and survive. Discussing Wittgenstein is an elegy to the human spirit and to our quest to shape experience into meaning.