Ashley Ram

Favourite reads and life in writing!

Spoiler Alert!! I will be talking some endings and other spoiler-ish elements so just beware.

It’s a rare time for me to notice that I actually enjoyed an adaption over the original novel. Considering how subpar most adaptations are. I don’t talk about this much but my favourite Studio Ghibli film and romance story in general is Howls Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki.

Sophie resonates with me as a character and I love the idea of the basic eldest daughter running away with a wizard who’s friends with a fire demon. So in order to prolong and thicken my excitement for this story, I decided to read the book as well.

The book was good, don’t get me wrong. It’s a beautifully written, casual fantasy that’s very similar to Miyazakis’ form of ‘soft’ worldbuilding. Or ‘frolicking fantasy’ as some reviewers put it. You don’t know everything going on in the created world but in the end, it doesn’t matter. Like how we never really know what happens in the Hufflepuff dormitories. At least not until the Rowling Unnecessary Head canon Era.

Even though I enjoyed the book, it left me feeling quite deprived compared to what I had in the movie.

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After reading Crescent City and writing the book review, I simply chalked it up to the fact that this book was a product of too much hype. It was okay but didn’t nearly give what was promised. However, I then had a conversation with my sister who had less than pretty things to say about Court of Thorns and Roses, another bestselling series of the same author. It came to my attention that there is something more to be discussed when it comes to Sarah J. Maas books and the immense support her books get.

The common critiques given during the conversations with my sister was that the fantasy elements were pretty half-hearted, the romance was tepid, characters were silly and most of all, it reads like a fanfiction. Which would be great but the book industry still doesn’t take fanfictions seriously whilst giving Sarah J. Maas a pedestal for writing great “epic fantasy” so… are we looking at a little hypocrisy here?

Speaking of the book industry, we have our main problem. If you told me that Crescent City by Maas was a romance story between a Fae/Human and an Angel after they were thrown together for an investigation on the Fae/Human girls’ dead friends then my review would’ve been far kinder. Except that’s not how Crescent City was marketed. Even in the blurb section, it describes this book as an “epic adult fantasy” when really it should be a “fantasy romance”. Am I only one who thinks that this is an incredibly important distinction? Especially when looking for books to read.

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I have decided this month I’m gonna be steering away from posting blogs since my priorities are getting a little too split from working on my novel. Obviously, I really don’t want to hold off my novel since it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years. So in order to ensure that I’m not losing my focus, I will not be posting anything for this month and perhaps spill into next month as well. Thank you to everyone who had been supporting my posts so far!

One of my challenges or resolutions this year is to write a short story each month to either send it to Furious Fiction or just keep it to myself. This is a story I sent in this month. It didn’t get a prize or anything but that’s not really the point of why I send them in the first place. Last year, most of my time was spent with writing my novel and I found myself not really improving in my actual writing since I was so focused on finishing the project. Writing these short stories has allowed me to expand my horizon and see how my writing can develop as I explore different settings and stories while completing my novel. It’s been an great experience and deep down, I’m still a little proud of this piece so I wanted to keep it here.

You can also read it on Wattpad if you prefer the reading platform!

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Book Information:

  • Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  • Year Published: 2008
  • Page Count: 360
  • Genre: Historical Fiction & Mythology Fusion
  • Pacing: Drawling | Slow | Suspenseful Build | Fluctuating | Steady | Fast | Vague
  • Type: Fantasy | Mix | Realism
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Feminism in storytelling is going through a transitionary period. So it’s not the most impressive even in stories that are aimed for this particular theme. The irritating part is no one truly mentions this because it’s welcoming a wave of hellfire into your mentions since people like certain things to stay a certain way. In this case, people like feminism to either be heavily drowned or excessively pushed rather than a natural flow of thematic structure in storytelling.

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Aside from the intense fantasy adventure stories I usually read, historical fiction is another personal favourite genre of mine. It’s not always as action-packed but often the internal conflicts exude more energy than anything else. Sandalwood Death is one of those books. This was a friends’ recommendation showcasing a fearless rendition of political corruption in Imperial China.

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After watching all kinds of mediums for long time in my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a hierarchy of which mediums are the best (or most creative) for storytelling. Live-action movies and TV shows can be beautifully artistic if the right person has the creative reins. However, there are some aspects that make them third on the list of most creative mediums of storytelling. The first on this list is (probably) to no one’s surprise, books. And the second is animations. We all know that nothing can truly beat the creative freedom we’re given in books whether it’s reading or writing them. So today we’re going to talk about animations and a few reasons why it takes second place above films or TV shows.

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While all the chaos brewed by both Mother Nature and her mischievous children who can’t seem to follow simple safety rules, the book industry still continued to soar with some new releases.

One of the most popular and talked about releases was Crescent City by Sarah J. Mass. I spent a good month or four reading this book so today I have compiled my thoughts below.

Note: These book reviews are my own personal observations and experiences so if it does not align with your own views then that’s completely normal. Stories will have different interpretations and the beauty of it is that no view is the same. Friendly debates are welcome but please keep it civil.

Content Warning: mentions of murder and sexual content.

Book Information:

  • Author: Sarah J. Maas
  • Year Published: 2020
  • Page Count: 800
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Pacing: Drawling | Slow | Suspenseful Build | Fluctuating | Steady | Fast | Vague
  • Type: Fantasy | Mix | Realism
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Other than figuring out whether to get the right eye or hair color, getting actors to truly embody an existing fictional character is challenging and far too underestimated. Sure Zendaya could dye her hair red to appease the over-dramatic fandom but that doesn’t really make her Mary Jane nor does Daniel Radcliffe just having glasses makes him Harry Potter. In the point of view of a reader, I will be talking about three of many elements that aren’t taken into enough consideration when adapting stories.

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Original and Fan-fiction have always had a clash for many reasons. However as time went on, both mediums are now starting to live together in the entertainment industry. Perhaps not in full harmony but whether each party likes it or not, both mediums now have an interest and use in todays’ market.

This week I wanted to talk about some of the pros and cons of each of these mediums (including the community around them) and how they contribute to entertainment audiences:

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Let’s all be honest. How interested are we in another vampire story being released? This is branching from the plot change my book went through from fully vampire themed to a dark high fantasy. One of the biggest reasons that my sister also pointed out is the mere word ‘vampire’ causes one to cringe so much the book closes on its own. However, in truth Vampires are historically interesting creatures that have just as much depth in their folklore as Faeries or Elves. One would think Vampires would be a highly respected genre like Wizards or even Demons. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t really see it at that level anymore.

Today I will talk about all the ways a genre can be viciously murdered in the storytelling community in any medium. Vampires in particular will be discussed because the theme has become a prime victim to genre death.

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There’s a million reasons why a book takes a long time to finish. Mostly it’s because the writer wants to provide the best possible story to their audience ensuring everything is interesting, engaging and able to evoke emotions/messages. Sometimes this involves changing the plot altogether for the sake of the story.

I’ve had to go through this recently despite finishing the first draft of the other plot. While it felt kind of disheartening at first, there are a few lessons I learnt throughout this process. This week I will mainly be talking about the main three things!

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Last Sunday I printed out the rough draft for my book which felt both accomplishing and terrifying at the same time. Something about holding the story in your hand for one thing is really solidifying; a small way to remind yourself that you did a lot of work even though it was hidden in the electronic folders.

Then also the terrifying journey to read what your brain dump looks like. For most people, the first draft is the version no writer wants a reader to see because it’s almost written in their own personal language that no one else will understand. That’s what the second draft is for. To make people understand that weird, personal language swirling around in an authors’ brain.

While I had a few other things to talk about this week, I think this blog is a good place for me to write down some lessons I’ve learnt while writing. Especially since the writing community is all about sharing experiences and learning from one another to develop each other’s style. So here are a couple of things I’ve realized while writing my less than pleasant first draft:

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This week we have another book review coming for you so it can help you decide whether to add something new to your list or maybe even dive into a unexplored theme! Sword of Shannara has definitely for a long time so some of you might be already familiar with the whole series but this is a first for me and I’ve compiled my thoughts under the read-more. I hope it helps in expanding your reading list!

Book Information:

  • Author: Terry Brooks
  • Year Published: 1977
  • Page Count: 664
  • Genre: High Fantasy
  • Pacing: Drawling | Slow | Suspenseful Build | Fluctuating | Steady | Fast | Vague
  • Type: Fantasy | Mix | Realism

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Since we are all staying at home (hopefully), it should be a good time to dive into new reading territory. We all see the memes of going ‘insane’ staying inside and social distancing so there should be no reason to discriminate against trying new things in the comforts of your own place. For this week, I have listed four websites best known for fanfiction (and writing if you want to get into it). These are selections from my personal experience with fanfictions so if you have any other suggestions, feel free to put them in the comments below!

This list will also include sites that have original fiction as well if you want more reading material in that area!

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A question clearly giving away that someone has never written or finished a book in their entire life. Writer whether aspiring or otherwise go through a series of people who love pretending they know what it means to be a writer. Less than pleasant but well-intentioned is usually the nicest way to describe them but this post is not to completely bash this collection of people. Instead I wanted to touch on the three points usually involved in the writing process.

These are obviously based on my experiences and every writer will vary on their process but what you see in print or in online book stories has a gruelling journey that no one sees. Hopefully with a few words on this post, people (especially non-writers) can understand why it takes someone that long to write a book.

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Fan-fictions may be an unconventional way to begin this new blogging scheme but I find that people jump onto the negative bandwagon far too quickly when it comes to this topic. While my experiences in both original and fan-made fiction are not as vast as some others, I do see this lack of diverse knowledge behind what fan-fictions are to people and why it is still a fairly popular medium in entertainment.

WHAT ARE FAN-FICTIONS?

If you do not already know, fan-fictions are transformative creative pieces either inspired by or contain characters from a TV show, movie or book. Fan-fictions also involve fictional characterisations inspired by celebrities mostly by their name and physical features depending on the genre or universe.

WHY DO PEOPLE WRITE FAN-FICTIONS?

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