Twisted Tales Books

Twisted TalesWelcome to day three of my Disney blog themed posts, during which I will be in both Disneyland AND Walt Disney Studios. Exciting times. I am also now officially thirty, which is odd cause in my head I’m still somewhere in my early 20s. Today I’m going to talk about one of my favourite book series, and don’t forget you can enter my Twitter giveaway to win any Disney themed book of your choice – details at the end!

Twisted Tales

Twisted Tales are a series of books, written by three different authors. Each book tackles twisted 1a Disney film, inserting a twist into the story we know and love – A Whole New World asks ‘What if Aladdin never found the lamp?’ Reflection – ‘What if Mulan had to travel to the underworld?’ Mirror, Mirror – ‘What if the Evil Queen poisoned the prince?’ etc. There are currently seven books in the series, with two more coming out soon.

This is probably my current favourite book series, and it’s introduced me to three fantastic authors. Each book is skillfully twisted 2written and thought out, with the characters we love, yet giving them just enough changes to make the story feel fresh and exciting. And so far, the choices for stories has been really good, with a focus mainly on the princesses, but exploring a couple of others as well.

The only released one I haven’t yet read (at the time of writing) is Conceal, Don’t Feel/Let It Go (it seems to have a different title everywhere I look), which is focused on Frozen. I’ve been saving it for my Disney trip, so perhaps by the time you read this, I might have read it. Either way, look out for my review!

twisted 3The three authors are Liz Braswell, Elizabeth Lim, and Jen Calonita. Each have their own distinctive writing style, yet still feel like they match the stories really well. And it’s clear from the writing and characters how much love they have for these tales – Elizabeth Lim recently released Spin the Dawn (my review is here), a Mulan retelling, which is definitely worth checking out. Not to mention Reflection is currently my favourite of this series.

But this is the kind of series where everyone has their own favourite,. There are three of us in work who get every book, as soon as it comes out, and we each prefer different ones. Overall, the series has proved imaginative, with interesting storiestwisted 7 about the characters and adding further depths to these worlds.

In some, the book is set in the middle of the film, either changing the outcome of the rest of the story – as in A Whole New World – or giving more weight to middle-scenes, the book taking place in a contained moment which feels like it could fit easily into the classic animated film, such as Reflection. In others, the twist comes right at the very end of the film, giving us a chance to see what happens to the heroes if they don’t actually win, as in Part of Your World, which explores what happens to the kingdoms under and above the sea, if Ursula actually won.

twisted 5If you are a Disney fan, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. With talented authors telling fantastic stories, this series really does add a lot to classic animated films, and I can’t wait to see what comes out next, after Elizabeth Lim tackle’s Cinderella and Liz Braswell takes on Peter Pan.

 

The Series, In Order

A Whole New World – Liz Braswell – What if Aladdin never found the lamp?

Once Upon a Dream – Liz Braswell – What if the sleeping beauty never woke up?

As Old as Time – Liz Braswell – What if Belle’s mother cursed the beast?

Reflection – Elizabeth Lim – What if Mulan had to travel to the underworld?

Part of Your World – Liz Braswell – What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula?

Mirror, Mirror – Jen Calonita – What if the Evil Queen poisoned the prince?

Conceal, Don’t Feel/Let It Go – Jen Calonita – What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other?

Upcoming

So This Is Love? – Elizabeth Lim – What if Cinderella never tried on the glass slipper?

Straight on Till Morning – Liz Braswell – What if Wendy first travelled to Neverland with Captain Hook?

twisted 6twisted 4

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway

I am currently hosting a Disney book themed giveaway on Twitter. Just follow that link, make sure you’re following me on there, and retweet. You could, if you so wanted, pick any of the fantastic Twisted Tales books, or Elizabeth Lim’s Spin the Dawn. Good luck!

A Trip to Disney, 1994

Welcome to day two of my Disney themed blog posts, posted November 12th, 2019 – my 30th birthday! It’s also the first day we get to spend in the parks, so if you’re following me on Twitter, be prepared for lots of excitement and probably a fair few pictures. I’m actually writing this on Saturday, and I’m already a bundle of nervous, excited energy. So much to do, so much to see, I cannot wait!

Don’t forget to check the end of this post for details of my Twitter giveaway. Also, the absolute best moment of this story comes at the very end.

That said, this isn’t the first birthday I’ve spent at Disney. This is a story I’ve shared before on Twitter, but doing it as a post allows for…well, a bit more, doesn’t it? So if you excuse me, I want to share something that happened to us 25 years ago this month, something terrifying (to us), amazing, and which ended with the best holiday of my life.

And my fifth birthday.

(Please excuse the lack of pictures – this is going to be a text heavy post, apologies in advance for that. This is a mix of my memories and things I’ve learnt since, mainly from my dad.)

(And a trigger warning – there’s a car accident in this story, no deaths, but it was…pretty bad.)

Way back in 1994, my mother entered a radio competition, which resulted in her winning a trip for two, to Florida. For the week before my birthday. With a 4 year old girl and 9 and 10 year old boys, it wasn’t like they could really go without us. So my dad did everything he could, borrowing money wherever possible, so all five of us could go, and so we had an extra week there, to make my birthday absolutely bloody magical.

I can still remember leaving school the day we were to travel to London, staying overnight before the flight the next day. The jealously of my classmates, the sheer excitement I felt, piling into the car, my neighbour running out calling not-my-name. “Helena! Helena! ” She had a present for me, she said, and handed me a small box.

A collection of puppy-in-my-pockets.

If there was anything I loved as much as Disney, it was dogs, and I was building a collection of the small toys. I kept them close in the car, playing with tissue to make flowers, something we’d just learnt in school – or maybe my brother had taught me.

Either way, I loved making them, and did so as we came over the bridge between England and Wales.

I was in the middle of one, in Swindon, when something…happened.

The car rolled.

And I mean, went full on upside down, over and over. Thankfully, we landed on the hard shoulder. Not thankfully, we were upside-down. My brother unclipped his belt and dropped to the ceiling. Dad got out. Couldn’t get to Mum, but managed to get me and my older brother out of the car.

It was only years later I’d find out people stopped, but not the driver. As far as my dad could tell after, someone undercut us, caught the side of the car, and sent us spiralling out of control.

With the people who stopped, one woman said to my dad, “I wanted to help, but I froze. I thought you’d all be dead.”

As we stood on the side of the motorway, a police car came rushing down. Remember, this is before mobile phones – someone must have called from a roadside phone, and the police were quick. They went past – Dad says he saw the officer look over, gesture to the driver. The police car backed up down the hard shoulder. When they reached us, he checked Dad over. Paramedics arrived and got Mum out, and as they realised we were all walking, the officer looked up, gestured, and a helicopter – about to land – flew off.

They asked if we wanted to carry on or go home. Paramedic insisted that, nope, we were going to the hospital before any other decisions were made.

Asked Dad if he was okay. “I’m fine,” he said, then blinked, and his eyes stung. He looked down, and glass fell out of his eyes. How the hell his eyes weren’t badly injured, we have no freaking idea.

We were taken in an ambulance, to Swindon Hospital. Mum taken away, Dad checked out, my brothers left in charge of me. I think we went to the play area, but all I remember thinking was that I’d never see my mother again.

As it turned out, she was actually okay. A deep cut above her eyebrow – we think Dad fell into her, knocking her into the window – but stitches on that and all was fine.

We survived, we walked out…because we were all wearing our seatbelts. And people wonder why I’m so insistent if I get in a car with anyone and they don’t put them on.

We had to go the garage – Manathome – to get our stuff when we were out of the hospital. Had to go in a taxi. And I….refused. Screamed, cried, did not want to get in another car. Reasons for that should be obvious. Dad threw me in, and off we went.

Walked into the garage, and the mechanics asked – “You’re not here about the Ford, are you?”

Readers, please note, I could not tell you any car we have had in recent years. I know my dad’s current car, but most, I can’t identify them for shit. I’m useless with Ubers – have to check the licence plate. But that car? I can remember it, remember loving it, remember it being a happy place, and remember being devastated we would never ride in it again. But damn if it didn’t protect us.

Why did they say that about the Ford, you may ask. (I’m making an assumption here)

Because they could barely believe anyone had walked out of that car alive, let alone WALKED OUT, with nothing worse than bruises, scratches and cuts, no broken bones or worse injuries.

Mechanic – “Today was not your day to go, was it?”

Hell no it wasn’t!

We got our stuff. I don’t know when it was – if it was in the ambulance or in the recovery vehicle that took us to our digs – but at some point, me and my brothers were asked, “Do you want to go to Florida, or go home?”

We nodded. Dad says we looked sorta terrified, shocked, but it was one thing we could agree on without needing to talk.

We were freaking going.

So we got to the digs – the very lovely pub which welcomed us, set us up in our rooms, and let us have free roam of the pub in the morning, leaving out cereal and other breakfast things for us.

On the plane, I cried when Dad showed me why there was a sign saying, “Do not flush toilet.” When we landed, I howled.

“What’s wrong now?” The question, I imagine, many exasperated parents put to their kids.

You said we were going to Diiiisneeeey!

I can’t imagine how frustrated they felt at that. Probably had to explain the whole concept of airports to me and how we couldn’t just land in the park.

We were in Florida.

Throughout the holiday, my parents received looks from different people – people who’d glance at my bruised mother, then look at my father, with his cut, bruised knuckles. A pair of old ladies approached my mother at one point.

“If you and your children need somewhere to go-”

“Oh, no, we were in a car accident.”

“Of course, dear, but we can help you if you need it…”

Dad always said he wasn’t even angry at them – at least they said something, rather than just giving him dirty looks like everyone else.

I was poorly – not enough to disrupt the trip, but I barely ate, had to use the toilet by the time we got to the front of every queue, could barely walk. I was four (then five) and had to be put in a pushchair. When they went to the doctor’s to have Mum’s stitches checked, the doctor looked me over. Gave them a prescription. They collected it, gave me a couple of drops, and…

I fell asleep in the middle of the shop, Great Western Boot Company.

I missed TWENTY-FOUR HOURS of that holiday.

BUT I had an amazing birthday, and the whole thing…a lot of that trip remains firmly fixed in my memories.

And after sleeping away a whole day, when we went to Universal, as we went past the Jaws ride, I spotted a hot dog vender.

“Dad, can I have a hot dog?”

He almost cried – it was the first time I’d asked for any food the whole trip.

At Universal, they had a Jurassic Park exhibit. We walked in, I spotted Triceratops, my absolute favourite thanks to Land Before Time, and bawled my eyes out.

“What’s wrong now?”

They killed all the diiiinoooosaurs!

However, Dad’s favourite memory, the one he says made the whole awful ordeal worth it, was when we first arrived and went to the Magic Kingdom.

Me, little four year old me, running up to Chip and Dale, hugging them, and turning to my brothers.

“See!” Triumphant, overjoyed. “I told you they were real!”

Giveaway

I am currently hosting a Disney book themed giveaway on Twitter. Just follow that link, make sure you’re following me on there, and retweet. Good luck!

Underrated Disney

Underrated.png

When this post comes out, I’ll be on my way to Disneyland Paris to celebrate my birthday. So I’m scheduling a few Disney themed posts for your reading pleasure while I’m away.

There are so many Disney films out there, and typically, the majority usually get a lot of love. But to me, there are just a few which always seem to be overlooked. I could be wrong, and in Disney fan circles these could be worshipped as the treasures they are, but these are ones I personally don’t see mentioned a lot. Or which are perhaps fan favourites, but overlooked by Disney themselves.

Like all my lists and posts, these are just my opinions – I am more than happy if someone wants to ‘correct’ me and point out if a film isn’t overlooked, and feel free to tell me your own underrated favourites.

black cauldronThe Black Cauldron

I really enjoyed this film. It’s far from being one of Disney’s best, and came at a time when the studio was struggling. It was seen as a bit bleak and dark for a children’s animated feature, and if memory serves, they went way over budget on it. But it’s still black cauldron2enjoyable, with more of a Celtic fantasy feel than Disney’s over films. It’s a little bit reminiscent of Sword in the Stone, too. If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely check it out, and here’s hoping we eventually do get a live action remake of this one – it’d be great to see it a little bit redeemed. And if anyone is sort of familiar with Celtic mythology, I think they’d get a definite kick out of this one.

 

brother bearBrother Bear

I only watched this one relatively recently, but I fell in love with it so much I watched the sequel straight away. The second film was supposed to lead into a TV series, and it’s such a shame we didn’t get that. Brother Bear is an adorable story, the characters are insanely loveable, and the focus on love, redemption, forgiveness and family make it so poignant. The soundtrack, too, is an absolute blast, bringing back Phil Collins – this and Tarzan are two of my favorite Disney soundtracks, and what’s not to love about the bears themselves? Safe to say, I  laughed and cried at this.

Also, I have to admit, as the youngest of three – and the only girl – I can totally relate to Koda, especially when he’s excited and chattering away and won’t shut up because, yep, I was that kid. I bugged my brothers no end, and could talk the ears off anyone, who I was comfortable with, anyway.

Bugs-life6A Bug’s Life

This is a classic and I won’t have anyone tell me different. A Bug’s Life is a fantastic story, and when it came out, I remember being absolutely blown away by the world created – the animation had only really been seen in Toy Story. A Bug’s Life was Pixar’s second bugs lifefeature film, coming out three years after Toy Story. And I loved it just as much. We now have four Toy Story films, a sequel to Incredibles, and a whole franchise from bloody Cars – where’s Bug’s Life 2, people? Considering how much I actually hate bugs and cringe away when they come near me, it’s a surprise this and James and the Giant Peach were two of my childhood favourites, and I still remember my friend, cousin and I arguing over which VHS cover each of us would get, after my aunt got one of each and we had to pick.

moana

Moana

I love Frozen, but Moana is better. I will fight anyone who says otherwise, and I don’t think I really need to say more about this one, except I seriously hope we get a sequel to this eventually. Amazing music, brilliant cast, visually stunning and overall a fantastic film.

oliver and coOliver & Co

When I was a kid, if there was a dog in a film I wanted to watch it. This was no exception, I adored this film, and watched it constantly. I also very much liked the musical Oliver, so this was a perfect combination for me. What happened to Disney taking classics and oliver and co2doing them with animals? (More on that below) Oliver & Co is cute and fun, and the ending is….freaking dark. Talking of which, when did Disney stop doing the dark endings??? I miss them – villains just seem to…slink away now, or are dragged away. Frozen should have ended with Hans dying, really. But yeah – Oliver & Co, like Brother Bear, has a fun soundtrack, adorable characters, and is overall really fun.

 

lion king 2 upendiLion King 2 – Simba’s Pride

Yeah, I freaking love this film. Again, classics, retold with animals. Lion King is Hamlet, Lion King 2 is Romeo & Juliet. Lion King 1 1/2 also deserves a mention, for being a recreation of a Hamlet spin-off play. But 2 has a special place in my heart because damn, I freaking love it. He Lives In You is such a legendary song they worked it into the musical (and the live action version), Upendi is pure bliss, My Lullaby is an amazing follow up to Be Prepared, Not One of Us is creepy and dark and heart-breaking and We Are One  brings a tear to my eye every time. Once upon a time, Disney sequels had a particular formula – either show what happened during the character-growing-up-montage, or character from original has a kid and their main want is the opposite to their parent’s – of course, parent completely doesn’t understand this and forgets what they were like at the same age. Ariel’s daughter wants to go into the sea, and Kiara really doesn’t want to be royalty. But they come to understand each other and everyone, of course, ends up happy. This film is a gem, and I can honestly watch it over and over again. And He Lives In You doesn’t make me cry like Endless Night from the musical does.

Honourable Mentions: Dinosaur, Enchanted, Lilo & Stitch, Little Mermaid 2, Fox & the Hound and probably many more I have forgotten.

Don’t forget, friends –

Giveaway

I am currently hosting a Disney book themed giveaway on Twitter. Just follow that link, make sure you’re following me on there, and retweet. Good luck!

Giveaway Time!

Disney Book GiveawayI promised before I would do a book giveaway if I hit 100 followers before my birthday, and somehow it actually happened! With over a week to spare, too.

So firstly, huge thank you to everyone who follows this blog. It really does mean a lot to me, and I just hope you get some enjoyment out of reading my various ramblings.

This giveaway is Disney themed because it’s where I’m going to celebrate my 30th birthday. I’m flying to France on 11/11, back on 14/11, so the giveaway ends 17/11 and that’s when winners will be drawn.

To enter, just make sure you’re following me on Twitter (@elleturpitt) and retweet (don’t QT) my pinned tweet. The giveaway is for a Disney or fairy tale retelling book of your choice, up to £15. It includes Star Wars and Marvel, and graphic novels as well as long as they’re below the price limit.

It is international as long as Book Depository ships to you.

Possible Giveaway For November

Disney Book Giveaway

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will be aware of this, but thought I’d mention it on the blog too, and look, you get a not-great graphic to go along with it!

So basically, I currently have 88 blog followers (love you all!). I am turning 30 on November 12th, at which point I will be in Disneyland, Paris and yes, I am very, very excited for the trip. Got my countdown at my desk in work AND my ears to wear in the park!

Where does the giveaway come into this, then?

Well, if I hit 100 followers before my birthday, I’m going to do a Disney themed book Twitter giveaway. It’ll be up to £15, international if Book Depository ships to you. And by Disney, I’m also including Star Wars and Marvel. Which yes, could mean graphic novels, too! And I’m also going to say the book can be a fairy tale retelling, so even if you’re not a Disney fan, there should be something for you, too. Though personally, I am a huge fan of the Twisted Tales series, and if you haven’t tried it yet, it comes highly recommended from me.

So spread the word – help me reach 100 followers in the next three weeks. As soon as I hit 100, I’ll post the giveaway. If that happens soon, I’ll pick the winners once I’ve returned from holiday, so the 15th November. If it doesn’t happen until early November, I’ll extend it a little.

Blogtober Day 5: Top 5 Disney Villains

Blogtober Day 5.pngDay One: Spooky TBR

Day Two: October Releases

Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List

Day Four: Cosy Reading Nook

Anniek’s Library: Challenge List

Anyone who has spent any time following me on Twitter probably knows by now that I love Disney. Disney films bring a lot of comfort to me, I was lucky enough to spend my fifth birthday in Walt Disney World, and I’ll be spending my 30th at Disneyland Paris, because I am, indeed, a very lucky woman. And, let’s face it, Disney villains are freaking awesome, otherwise we wouldn’t have had a whole spin off dedicated to Maleficent.

But how to sort them into a top 5? It feels like there are so many different directions this could go. Top most stylish? Top 5 best songs? Top deserve-their-own-live-action-film?

I’ve pondered this, and I’ve come to a conclusion.

This list will be my top 5 most frightening villains – from an adult’s perspective. The darkest villains. Sure, Maleficent can turn into a dragon, and the Evil Queen is terrifying when she transforms into an old hag, but have you ever stopped to think about the villains who are actually abusive? Or sing about, well, rape?

Top 5 Terrifying Disney Villains

1. Lotso

lotso
Ain’t he just an adorable, fluffy bear of evil

Lotso, the pink cuddly bear from Toy Story 3, is evil. He twists the minds of those around him, convinces them they’re unwanted, unloved, and only he can give their lives purpose. And he tries to destroy anyone who tries to escape, or who doesn’t fall in line. Lotso is a cult leader; one intent on clinging to power, anyway he can.

2. Lady Tremaine

lady tremaine
Can we have a nice step-mother for once, please, Disney?

Ahh, Lady Tremaine, the widow with two daughters who remarries and then, after the death of her second husband, enforces a strict life of servitude on Cinderella. I’ve seen the argument that Tremaine is a grieving widow, but plenty of people grieve without inflicting child abuse on those under their care. And that’s not to mention the way she treats her daughters – yep, they don’t get out lightly either. She forces them to dress a certain way, to act a certain way, all with the aim of finding a rich husband. She uses her daughters, step- and bio, just to try and better her own life, rather than ensuring her daughters are able to live full, happy lives. She’s selfish and abusive, and if Cinderella was set now, social workers would be knocking down their door before the Fairy Godmother could say bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.

3. Judge Claude Frollo

judge claude frollo
Who is the monster and who is the man?

Frollo is a villain who, as I get older, gets worse and worse. There’s so much more to him than I thought as a kid, because quite frankly, so much of his character went straight over my head. For starters, he’s a religious fanatic – he doesn’t follow Christ’s teachings, but uses God and Christianity as a shield for his own actions, positioning himself as a champion of good and using religion as an excuse to enact his own evil, cruel policies. He threatens people. He’s the reason Quasimodo’s mother dies in the first place, as he chases her down and onto the steps of the cathedral (though seriously, where was the archdeacon when she was banging on the doors asking to be let in?) and he almost DROWNS A DAMN BABY. He convinces Quasimodo he cares for him, keeps him locked up and warns him against going outside. Like Mother Gothel, Frollo’s power over our hero is only there because the hero loves them back, because Quasimodo and Rapunzel love the people who claim to be their parents. And on top of that, HE FULL ON WANTS TO RAPE ESMERALDA. Hellfire is one of the most underrated, terrifying Disney songs, where Frollo basically states that if he cannot have her, no one can. Manipulative and abusive, Frollo feels sometimes way too realistic, with the kind of attitude, belief and power that combined, make him a very dangerous man indeed.

4. Hans

hans.jpg
Hans is the guy who posts on AITA; “I convinced a girl I loved her after knowing her for 5 minutes so I can take over her kingdom, but I was left with no choice…AITA? I really don’t think I am. Her and her sister should just give me the kingdom I can rule it better”

Seriously, this guy. He targets the sisters, and only goes for Anna because he can instantly see how vulnerable she is, how easy it would be to win her over. He manipulates her, and right at the crucial moment, breaks her poor heart (and probably half the audience’s, too!). And yes, there are fantastic parallels between Hans in Frozen and Littlefinger in Game of Thrones, and not just because THAT moment feels so eerily similar. But Hans is the kind of guy who lures you with his looks, who acts like a nice guy while he’s drip feeding abuse into your ear. Let’s face it, if he and Anna HAD married, it wouldn’t take long before her self-esteem was at all time low and she had no one to turn to but him. He’s more than willing to kill Elsa, not because he thinks she poses a threat, but simply because he wants the kingdom all for himself. What an arsehole.

5. Zira

zira.jpg
‘My Lullaby’ is a massively underrated Disney song.

Okay, here me out.

Zira is the antagonist for the sequel to Lion King, aka the big bad of Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride. She’s a devoted follower of Scar, and as such, sets up her son, Kovu, raising him with the goal of Kovu killing Simba, then taking the pride for himself. Though of course he’d be little more than a puppet king, with Zira as the main power. Zira makes the list because not only is she hellbent on revenge, she is more than willing to use her children to achieve her goal. In some respects, she does care for them – she is honestly upset when one dies – but like Lady Tremaine, there are elements of abuse in the way she treats them, and she is happy to manipulate them in order to achieve her goals. Again, she doesn’t want to see Kovu as alpha male so he can have a better life, she wants it so she can have the power.

And ‘My Lullaby’ is an absolutely awesome song, and a brilliant follow up to Scar’s ‘Be Prepared’.

So there we have it, 5 Disney villains. What are your thoughts? Are there any particular Disney villains you love to hate, or ones you think are downright evil?

 

 

 

Twisted Tales: Mirror, Mirror – Jen Calonita [Books]

mirror mirrorTwisted Tales is a series of books presenting different twists on various well-known Disney stories, and Mirror, Mirror is the sixth in the series, following on from novels about Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid and Mulan. Five of the previous novels were written by Liz Braswell, with Reflection, the Mulan story, written by Elizabeth Lim.

Both authors are tough acts to follow, bringing fresh new perspectives on beloved classics. With this being the second book penned by a different author, I think Disney are taking a great approach, rather than just leaving it all down to one writer.

The combination of different authors, plus taking different characters, means a vast difference in the books, and I think from what I’ve seen online and conversations IRL, various people have different favourites from the series. I see this as a really good thing – people are responding in different ways to the same series, and I feel it’s working well for Twisted Tales.

However, I do think Mirror, Mirror might be the weakest book of the series (so far). This, despite the fact Jen Calonita is clearly a talented writer, and I would definitely pick up mirror mirror2one of her other books. So, the writing is good, the characters actually read really well, but the plot itself is a little weak.

One of the things I like most about previous books in the series is the fact the twist actually changes everything for the characters. It forms the crux of the plot, and prevents the characters reaching the happily ever after point we know from the films. In some instances, by the end things are right with the world and we know the characters are going to continue as they would from the films, but they are still changed from their animated counterparts.

The difference with Mirror, Mirror is that the twist – printed plainly on the cover – doesn’t actually affect much of the story. Instead, the changes made don’t feel like they fit into the world of Snow White, and it doesn’t make sense why these changes happen in the context of the animated film. If this was just a retelling, it would work well, but as it is, it doesn’t have the same feel as the previous books.

Sections of the book just simply take us through what happens in the film, but do allow us – as books do – to get deeper into the head of Snow White, as well as the Evil Queen, named Ingrid in the novel. The Ingrid chapters are where the book really comes alive, as we see her transform into the sort of woman who can order a child’s killing.

The plot, in places, feels rushed, and especially the ending. But despite this, the characters themselves give off that feel of real, living breathing people. Snow White is definitely a far cry from the passive princess in the film, given a stronger, more prominent role, as she realises what her people have been through. We also get a better idea of why she cleans so much. The prince, as well – Henri – is more of a character, rather than just the guy who rides in and out. We see the relationship between them blossom, and can feel why they fall for each other. Those aspects of the book work really well.

Overall, although I did have a few niggles with the book, and although it maybe wasn’t up to the same standard as previous books in this series, I did enjoy it. And the additions to the characters worked nicely, giving more depth to Snow White, the prince, the Evil Queen, and even the dwarves. I would definitely recommend this, and although it might not have been my favourite in the series, it’s bound to be someone else’s.

Play Time

One thing writers are told time and time again is to read everything they can get their hands on. You cannot be a writer unless you’re a reader; otherwise, how do you know what’s gone before? Plus, reading books allows you to see how sentences are crafted and with a keen eye you can see how a writer has enabled you to feel for a character or, in some cases, to see where they have fallen down flat with this.

But it’s not just in books where aspiring writers can pick up tips. Film and TV, obviously, are brilliant showcases for dialogue, and looking at the way directors frame camera shots and build on relationships between characters can always provide inspiration for tricky scenes. But there’s a further medium that can be looked at, too – video games.

I mentioned before about my love for Bioshock and part of that love comes from the way it’s written. There are twists that are built up throughout the game, great moments of dialogue, and the way it’s written means that, as the main character, by a certain point you’re never quite sure who to trust. And then, of course, there is the ending, which quite honestly had me tearing up. (Well, the ending I saw. There are different endings depending on your actions in game)

Since I finished that game I’ve been playing Fallout 3. Bioshock is a more linear game, where you basically move from one part to the next. Fallout is different, in that you can pretty much explore the world around you at your leisure. You can follow the main story quests, or do lots of little side quests or a mix of both…it’s up to you.

Even with this freedom, story and plot still play a major role. On top of that, the writing – especially with dialogue for so many different characters – has to take into account the potential actions of the person playing. Yes, the enemies have stock lines that get thrown at you as you fight them, but if you listen Galaxy News Radio with Three Dog (a DJ who doesn’t know what a disc is) you’ll hear him mention various places and events and, later, even hear him reporting on what your character has been doing.

The actual plot revolves around your character going out looking for his/her father, and in terms of writing, the game is very good at giving hints as to what your father might be doing, via Three Dog. And there’s a karma system to it, too. You can save certain characters or help them out, giving you karma, or…do other stuff and get negative karma. I assume. I very much help people in the game where I can. And of course, there is one character I care about more than any other, who I just want to be happy even if he keeps running away from me. Just hope he turns up at Vault 101 again soon.

images (1).jpgOne of the other games I’ve been playing is Kingdom Hearts 1.5  – the remake of the PS2 game by the same name, but this version is apparently HD or something and has two of the other games included. I’ve been focusing on replaying the main game; I know when I played years ago I got to the end, but I don’t quite remember if I actually managed to beat the final boss or not.

Kingdom Hearts is a game using characters from Final Fantasy and various Disney films. You play Sora, a FF-style kid who just wants to leave the island he lives on with his two best friends. But when a storm strikes, the friends are separated and Sora wakes up in a very strange town. He meets Goofy and Donald, on a quest to find King Mickey, and joins them hoping they can help him find his friends.

With these two familiar faces, Sora travels through various worlds including Wonderland, Agrabah, the jungle Tarzan calls his home, Ancient Greece, and many others. As for plot, it’s a fairly simple one to follow, but one which does really well in drawing in these characters and having them inhabit the same universe, as the villains gather together to try to take over the world, using the heartless to achieve their goals.

Plot wise, it has some good examples perhaps of how to take existing stories and merge them together or rework them to fit something else. And what with it being a kid’s game, although it is single player there’s a strong message of working together and the importance of friendship. Something to keep in mind if, as a writer, you’re working on writing for kids.

kh That’s only two of the many, many games out there with compelling plots and interesting characters, mainly because it just happens to be the two I’m mainly playing at the moment. There are so many others out there, and I’ll probably come back to this in a future blog post, maybe one about the sort of games I played when I was younger. But if there are any games you’d recommend, or think contain some good tips for writing, let me know in the comments.