Short Story: An Episode of Lies

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An Episode of Lies

 

I sit on the sofa and put my shoes down on the floor, making it look like I’ve just taken them off. My bag goes next to them, open, and I pull a few textbooks out, spreading them out on the sofa next to me. I look at the book on top; the one with the word ‘faggot’ written on it with a black felt-tip, and slip it back into my bag. My clothes have to look worn in too, so I crinkle up my shirt and ruffle my hair. I consider flicking water on my face to make it look like I’ve been sweating from the heat, but that may be a step too far. Besides, this is London, the weather’s never been great here.

Then it begins.

I glance at the front door once, then ease into the sofa as the first episode of The Walking Dead loads. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen it a hundred times, it doesn’t matter that this is the third day in a row of doing this, and it doesn’t matter that I can practically feel my grades lowering. The show starts and I swear if I could, I’d melt into the sofa and stay there forever.

I love TV more than people – and that’s not in a cute teenager way, I mean I literally consume every character I watch, I dissect everything about them and wish they could be my friends. When you’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, you’re not concerned about who’s popular or who’s the freak. It’s life and death and loyalty.

Before I know it I’m on Season Two, Episode Four, with ice-cream smeared around my lips. I hear the key in the lock, and everything springs into action. Suddenly I’m whizzing around the room, making sure the remote goes back on the coffee table, next to the tissue box. I make sure to dust the biscuit crumbs under the sofa, turn off Netflix and flip open a textbook, looking deep in thought.

Mum walks in with her bag in her hand, stroking her black hair from her sweaty face. She has bags under her eyes but tries to keep her voice light and happy. “Hey, honey. You just get in?”

I nod mechanically. “Yeah.”

“Oh.” She pauses and stares over at the TV; I’d turned it to get a better view, but forgot to turn it back. She stares back at me and all my textbooks, then my shoes. I think I see a flicker of something in her eyes, but she just tightens her hands around her bag, keeping the same cool expression. “How was school?”

I have the answer already rehearsed: “It was good. We learnt about the French Revolution today, and in English we got to watch Romeo and Juliet, wish I knew what the hell they were banging on about, though.”

She pauses again, lowering her bag to the floor. “Oh. So how are your friends? Rick Grimes, I haven’t heard about him in a while – or Jesse, Jesse Pinkman?”

“Oh yeah…they’re fine.” I know I could have been more imaginative with the names, rather than just picking TV characters, but it’s not like she’d know anyway. I can’t tell her about my real friends – like Joey Smith, who is three years younger than me and devours everything I say. You can read a book in a week, that’s so cooool, Jack! You’re such a good artist, Jack, you’re so cooool. If it’s not the fact that he drags out the word ‘cool’ every time, it’s the way he stares at me with wide eyes, like I’m some kind of superhero that he idolises. Then there’s Susan, perhaps the only person more unpopular than me. She’s scarily thin – like she could snap at any minute, and every time she talks the words spill out into one long ramble. She refuses to wear short-sleeved shirts, which I find kind of weird. Even in the sweltering heat, and I have no idea why.

Anyway, I’d rather have a fictional Harry Potter as a mate, over a Joey Smith in reality.

Mum nods robotically when I talk, but her eyes seem glazed over and her clasp on her bag just seems to get tighter. She walks away slowly, with her shoulders hunched.

This continues for a few weeks. The days blend together and my legs go numb from sitting on the sofa for so long. My eyes even start to sting from staring at the TV. The more time that passes is the more I worry about getting caught – so I try to mix up the text books I display on the sofa. I get through seven different shows, I befriend over four hundred new characters; more and more of reality slips away from me. Each day Mum walks in, asking the same questions, with similar or identical responses. We’ve gotten into a routine now. We both know the exact moment to nod and smile, or make a noise of acknowledgement, but every day I can see her face getting tighter. She grips her bag as usual and stalks off to her room.

Then it changes one day. It’s one o’clock, and the door opens suddenly with no warning. I’m not prepared; my clothes look fresh, I haven’t taken out my textbooks yet, and the TV is still facing another way. Mum’s face is stern, she looks over at the TV, where Season Five, Episode Ten of Game of Thrones is loading. “Turn it off.”

I follow her order. She sits on the sofa and pulls scrunched up pieces of paper from her bag. Pieces of paper that had been in my bin. “I’m not stupid, Jack,” she flattens out the papers. One is a letter from school – with the ‘West London High school’ logo at the top – a warning letter about me being expelled. Another is a photo of me with ‘freak’ written at the top, and the third is my portrait of Piper from Orange is the New Black. I can already hear how “cooool” Joey would think it was. The routine is ruined. Mum talks to me about my future and not letting others deter me from my goals.

I consider how my fictional friends would deal with this, I can practically see them all sitting around me, chiming in exactly what I should do, but executing or eating my mother doesn’t seem like a good idea. In the end, all I can say is: “I’ll go to school Mum, I promise.”

She pauses again, and for a long time we just stare at each other. “Ok.” She stands, resting her bag on her shoulder. As she leaves the room she tries to keep her head held high.

I stare at the TV, willing myself to believe things will change. I know they won’t. We’ll be back to the old routine in no time, and we both know it.

Book review: A Court of Mist and Fury – By Sarah J. Maas

17927395Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Date: 3rd May 2016 – Bloomsbury
Pages: 626
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.  (Goodreads)

I wanted to review this book as soon as I finished it, but life got in the way! Before I even started this book, everyone told me how great it was, and they weren’t wrong! This was so much fun to read, and really expanded the world. Plus, it was a great set-up to the final book in the series.

I’ll be honest when I say that I wasn’t a massive fan of Feyre in the first book, but she got a lot of development here. One of the things I always found strange about fantasy books, was that the characters seem to adapt to things really quickly, i.e. killing people and fighting monsters. It was refreshing to see that after her ordeal, Feyre really struggled with the things she did Under the Mountain, and the exploration of her PTSD was handled strongly. As for Tamlin… I wanted to strangle him! I got the hint of him being controlling in the previous book, but he took it to a new level in this one. Sarah J. Maas is great with her characterisation because every time his name was mentioned, I wanted to throw my book, especially with what he does at the end of the book (which I won’t spoil). All I’ll say, is that I hope he gets taken down in the next book! Ianthe and Lucien need to suffer some consequences too – more so Ianthe, since Lucien was just trying to be loyal, even if his actions were wrong. And can I take a moment to say how much I hated the mortal queens!

Rhysand. Pure perfection. I loved his chemistry with Feyre – he is such a complicated character with multiple layers, and every time he was in danger I couldn’t breathe, there were so many tense moments involving his character, and this book almost gave me a heart attack on multiple occasions. I loved the introduction of his court as well, particularly Amren, as I think her character has a lot of potential for the next book. Each of them were well-crafted, and I thought the group dynamics were really well done.

Despite being longer than the first book, I read this one a lot faster, simply because there is so much at stake. Feyre has so many enemies in this book – Tamlin being one of them – and there were so many times where I wasn’t sure who she could trust. I’m constantly saying how I don’t like romance, but the relationship between Feyre and Rhysand was beautiful to read. Feyre’s powers were also cleverly explored, and watching her use her new abilities to complete certain goals was fun. The main plot to do with the cauldron and the books did remind me a little bit of the Throne of Glass series, but not enough that it bothered me.

Overall, I loved this book, and I think it is a massive improvement on the first one. I am so pumped for the final book in this trilogy!

My rating:

five of five

TV review: Shadowhunters – Season 2 Episode 1

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The time has finally come – the new season of Shadowhunters is finally back on our screens, which means I’m back to review the show! I’m going to give my thoughts on the premiere, and break it down by what I did and didn’t enjoy.

Positives:

  • Right from the start it was clear that the CGI had improved. The seraph blades look a lot more realistic, as do the portals and the runes. There was also a scene where someone’s face got burnt on a barrier, and I think it was really believable.
  • The fight scenes were better, there was more intensity to them than before.
  • The acting has definitely improved – some of the dialogue is a little cheesy, but every character felt believable, even if I thought certain characters were jerks *cough* Aldertree.
  • And this last thing didn’t surprise me, but I thought that Simon’s scenes were really funny. Alberto always manages to bring great comedic timing, so I’m glad that hasn’t changed.

Negatives:

  • Why is the shape shifting rune still a thing!? I think this rune opens up a huge gateway for plot holes, never mind the fact that it kind of undermines Tessa’s abilities and makes them less impressive.
  • Pacing is a huge problem for me. Why are we rushing through so much of the source material? The reveal that Valentine experimented on Jace was such a huge thing in the books, and I don’t think that was handled as well as it could have been. I get that Valentine is using that to manipulate Jace, but I don’t think that should have been revealed so soon. Another thing is that now Jocelyn is awake, that opens up some issues regarding Jace – I won’t spoil the books, but I’m curious to see how that plays out. I just really hope we don’t see Sebastian too soon…
  • While the fighting scenes were good, I really didn’t enjoy the music playing over it, it kind of took me out of the moment.

Overall, I did enjoy the episode, but I still found there were some issues with pacing and plot. Hopefully my doubts can be put to rest as the season unfolds, but for now…

My rating:

three of five

Book review: A Court of Thorns and Roses – By Sarah J. Maas

16096824Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author:
Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Date:
May 5th 2015 – Bloomsbury
Pages:
416
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever. (Goodreads)

I absolutely love the Throne of Glass series, so when I heard that Sarah J. Maas had started a new series, I was really excited. As a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this book introduces us to a brand new world, and a new set of interesting characters that I overall enjoyed.

In terms of characters, I wasn’t personally invested in Feyre a lot of the time – I did sympathise with her situation, and I think her family dynamic was really interesting, but a lot of the time I did find that I couldn’t really connect with her. As for her relationship with Tamlin, I was intrigued to see how their relationship would develop – I figured that they’d have to fall in love eventually, but the journey of getting there was exciting (and frustrating at times!). I did get the sense that Tamlin could be a little controlling, so we’ll have to see how that plays out in the rest of the series.

 By the end of the book, I have to say that my two favourite characters were Lucien and Rhysand. Lucien, because of his loyalty and comedic timing, and Rhysand, because of how complex he seemed. I think Rhysand’s character will play a large role in the  rest of the series, and I liked not knowing whose side he was on.

As for the plot, I really enjoyed the mystery element of the curse – we were told many things at the beginning of the story that later on turn out to be untrue or a distorted version of the truth, and I liked those twists.  The masks in particular were really fascinating. The reason why I love reading fantasy books is because I love exploring new worlds, and I think the world building was done really well here, I just hope in the next two books we get to see more of this world.

For me, the ending was the most enjoyable, as we learn about the character Amarantha, and the threat she poses. Everything to do with the trials and Rhysand was the most interesting, as this had the most intense scenes, and like I said, I was really curious about Rhysand’s character, especially after the deal he made with Feyre. I will say that the riddle Feyre had to solve at the end was really obvious, but the story reached a satisfying conclusion for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book as an introduction to this new world, and I think the characters have a lot of potential, especially the way things ended. For me, this is a great set up for the next book, which I can’t wait to start. I’m torn between giving this book a 3 or a 4, but…

My rating:

four of five