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Month: February 2021

Henry (Updated)

I decided to draw Henry again, but in a style closer to how I drew Alex. I originally drew Henry in a more cartoonish style, as I based it off the character in my graphic novel series. This Henry is as he appears in the novel adaptation that I’m currently working on. Still the same Henry, but drawn in a more traditional style.

I’m really pleased with how he has turned out. He’s exactly how I imagine him in my head; big beautiful eyes, long thin face and generous bottom lip. His features are much softer than Alex’s because he’s more gentle and approachable – ironic, given Henry’s the shy one.

In this sketch, Henry is wearing a hoodie, most likely a rather smelly hoodie as he never takes it off – if he can get away with it. The hoodie is an important part of his character because it acts as a comfort item, something that he feels helps sooth his anxiety when he’s out in public. Henry is autistic. #ownvoices

I was nervous about drawing his hair as I haven’t had many successes sketching hair that’s swept back behind the ears, but I found a good reference picture on Google and studied the direction in which the hair flowed. I think it hasn’t turned out too badly.

Now I must find a safe place to hide this portrait, lest Alex should find it and nick it.



Alex is the protagonist in my series Friends of Foes. He shares the spotlight with Henry. He’s been bugging me to sketch a portrait of him since I first began sketching Henry. He still doesn’t understand why I didn’t sketch him first. After all, Alex is king – which ultimately puts him at the centre of the universe.

I had a lot of fun sketching Alex. I tried to keep it traditional and let his eyes shine without any embellishments from me. He’s supposed to look intense, so I hope I pulled it off. 😂

My least favourite feature to draw is the mouth. Alex’s mouth is particularly tricky because it’s long and thin – plus he smiles on one-side. To tackle this challenge… well basically I winged it until it looked somewhat presentable. Shh!

Another challenge I faced was that Alex’s head is positioned on an angle. This meant that I had to position his facial features accordingly. If one was is out of place, his face would look strange. So I used a ruler to ensure the measurements were exact. Alex would clobber me if I misrepresented any part of his regal face. Wish me luck!

I loved drawing his hair. He has longish, thick, brown hair that curls in interesting directions. I’ve never been very good at drawing males with long or medium-length hair but I actually think I’ve succeeded in not making him look like a girl. (yusss!).


Chimera’s Fire (Project Chimera #1)


I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s difficult to put this book into words.

At times I was totally immersed – it was fast-paced and entertaining – then, a spelling error, or a grammar error would knock me out of the hypnosis. It was a shame, because otherwise the book flowed well. There wasn’t a sentence that felt out of place – save for the odd sleezy line from Clark (I’ll get to him later). 

It’s a superhero whodunnit novella about three supernatural young adults who belong to a secret project called Project Chimera. The three return from a holiday to discover their boss and father-figure, Director Hunter, murdered and they’re the leading suspects. Together, the three young superspies must prove their innocence.

The protagonist, River Murphy, is a shapeshifter. I shamefully mistook him for a female for the first three quarters of the novella. Even when it was stated, quite boldly even, that he could only shapeshift into other men, my mind automatically dismissed the hint. It’s the way he describes himself… I can’t quite put my finger on why… but even now that I know he’s a he, I still picture a she. I’d be more convinced if he was a they.  

I also found something else puzzling about River. He never mentioned his parents. All we know of his backstory is that he was recruited at 17. Were his parents okay with that? Do they even know where he is? Or was he simply born by stalk? I’m curious because whatever the answer is changes the way we, the reader, would view Director Hunter’s decision to recruit him and his friends. 

River’s personality is a fascinating one. He’s a jokester – that is evident in his “literal” and funny impressions of his boss Director Hunter. He also likes to fool around with his friend, Clark. He has a quieter side too. He’s patient, observant and a strategist. It’s an interesting mix of traits that I haven’t seen very often in literature. In that sense, and it is the most important aspect of a character, he is well drawn. 

I can’t say the same for the other two heroes.

Verity – shy but hides it well thanks to years of training – has the power of invisibility. Two things I learnt about her; she fancies River, and she cannot control her temper (No spoilers!). There’s a missed opportunity here. It would be great if the reader could gain insight into how she overcame her shyness. It’s a fantastic idea to have a character who conquers their social anxiety, and I wish we became acquainted with Verity through her self-discovery. 

As for Clarke (the Truthsayer) … (oh boy). Disclaimer: Some of you are going to love him; some of you (me) are going to send his ass to a women’s group with a silver bullet in his butt (it prevents their magic from working). There he’ll be forced to earn a certificate in respecting women. For the duration of the book, he’s treating this perilous mission like a serial tinder date. I mean, I’m impressed by his ability to multitask (investigating a serious crime and dating), but come on, Clarke. You solve crimes with your head not with your… nevermind.

Onto the antagonist, I had him pinned three chapters in, so wasn’t surprised by the reveal. However, since finished the story, I realise it isn’t about who he is, but rather who he is working for. And with that, I applaud the author for hoodwinking me. It’s not a typical supernatural whodunnit… with the exception of maybe Supernatural!

I do have a problem with the book’s tone, nonetheless. It appears to dance between middle-grade and YA. One minute its style is closer to a Scooby-doo, then next minute it’s a more sophisticated X-men: First Class. I had to check Google to confirm it is indeed a YA. With that in mind, it should have been harder for the three superspies to defeat the villain and maybe a page or two about how River feels about the loss of his father-figure and the discovery of the big evil intelligence organisation that’s after him and other supernaturals.

Overall, this is a well-crafted tale. There wasn’t a moment I felt lost or my attention wandered. It’s succinct and entertaining and who knows? Clark might appeal to you.

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When I finished reading Beautiful by Fran Laniado, I had an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. Not because the book was rubbish. Quite the contrary, I had become so involved, so present with the characters that when the story ended, I didn’t know what do with myself. It was as if I had lost my companions – Eimear, Finn and the horse Eachann. Why did it have to end? I can only hope there’s to be a second book… Is there? 🙁

The story is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and before you roll your eyes, this is not a typical retelling.

The main character Eimear is a socially awkward fairy princess with a weird-looking face and white hair – and before you roll your eyes again, the hair is compared to an old woman’s, it’s hardly exotic.

The love-interest Finn is a beautiful cruel and vein prince from “The World” (human world) whom Eimear accidentally curses, turning him into a sight for sore eyes. But hey, mistakes happen.

The danger with involving a character cursed with ugliness is that it risks communicating favour in conventional beauty standards. Finn was never described in a way that could have been associated with real conditions that result in deformity. In fact, there was a sense of an otherworldly magic in his features. 

In fact, what I appreciated most of all was that the majority of the supporting characters were beautiful except for the two main characters. Yes, take that Hollywood and conventional beauty standards. Think you can handle a supporting cast more beautiful than your stars? It’s a big ask, I know. It was hard enough with Ugly Betty, but I have faith in you. You will achieve it someday.

Putting looks and Hollywood aside, Eimear is exactly how I imagine Belle. I know she’s not Belle. She’s the enchantress. But her personality, the fact that she is clearly not neurotypical and that she’s curious but in an introverted manner, it’s exactly what I wanted in a retelling. 

I also appreciated the nod to the original story when Eimear suggests she go find a “beauty” for Finn to help break the spell. In the original tale it’s a merchant who fetches the beauty. What’s even funnier is that Eimear is so earnest, even though the idea is absurd and Finn points that out. (Don’t worry, she doesn’t follow through).

Maybe this is me on a delusive tangent, but some scholars believe, as well as those in my community (I am autistic), that changelings were most likely autistic babies. Some believe that even fairies – what with their large ears, expressionless faces, wide apart eyes and high voices – were metaphors for those on the autism spectrum. I may be barking up the wrong tree, but Eimear’s love of people-watching, her love of music, her earnestness, how every emotion is concentrated only in her eyes, her lack of interest in socialising, parties and fashion – everything really – made me wonder if Eimear was autistic. For most of the book I just assumed the likeness was a coincidence, but when Eimear had the heart-to-heart with her mother about how she felt like an alien, I began to wonder if she was meant to be autistic.

Regardless of my wackadoodle theory, I thought Eimear was perfect. It’s not every day that I read a book in three days – mostly because I find it difficult to relate to many protagonists. It’s why I like Belle (Disney cartoon Belle). I mean, she likes books and solitude – an all-round sensible human being. It’s about time we had a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a proper Belle character. It’s a cause I feel passionately about. More stories with Eimears and Belles please! 

And some nice sensitive Finns with proper interests like carving and woodwork. None of that “Look at me, I’m shirtless.” Or “I’m so broody and deep and I like my solitude, but hey I do small talk.”

Yeah, Finn’s cool. Apart from when he’s unwell, then he’s hot and sweaty (no swooning matter), but I won’t spoil it for you because you definitely have to read this. I’m calling to all Beauty and the Beast lovers – except those rare fans of Beastly (they tragically exist) – you all need to read this blessing of a book.

And if you’re looking for a heroine whose feelings of difference are not displaced, you’ve come to the right place. (And that kind of rhymed). 

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Nadya Harkness

Just finished a sketch of my oc, Henry’s aunt, Nadya. She’s a no-nonsence witch who runs her own coven.

For Nadya, I decided to go more traditional with my sketch because she is stubborn and isn’t easily swayed in her beliefs. I couldn’t help but add a little of my own style, such as the overly large eyes – guess it fits her subtle non-conformist nature.

I also coloured her hair and eyelashes in charcoal to portray her rebellious streak. Nadya is secretly in love with a vampire, and in this world marriages between vampires and witches are illegal.

I have Nadya looking away from the viewer because she is an idealist and often ponders about a better future. She hopes it’ll be with her vampire lover.



I forgive you.
These three words are not so hard to say. But should they be?
You who have made me what I am today. Yet I forgive you. 

I forgave you then.
I of seven – a horse to be whipped.
A body to be shamed.
And for Middle School I was ill equipped. Yet I forgave you then. 

And I forgive you now.
You scarred me, but I didn’t know it
Until I was out, and fourteen I was. And still I was seven in a playground. You at the top and I at the bottom. 

You were with friends; I was alone. How did that make you feel?
While I stood at the bottom looking up. You looked down. 

Did you feel proud? 

I still remember now.
I was there at seven; when I was fourteen. You were laughing. You and friends
Laughing at me, but that wasn’t it.
Your faces like suns couldn’t brighten more. 

It was a game; we were playing a game. I played a game at fourteen.
Gang up, it was.
Was that the game we played at seven? You were the hunters; I the hunted. 

I at fourteen played a game.
I entered a playground; the one at middle school.
It was made of wood, just like our playground.
It had a yellow slide, just like our slide.
And it had a tall platform so high I was forced to look up. 

And that was when I saw you. You and your friends. You at seven looking down on me.
I at fourteen looking up at you. 

I was not in middle school, So where was I? 

I was with you then.
Stuck in a loop of a broken memory. A cold sore that won’t go away.
Or a scar that’s here to stay.
Don’t worry, I forgive you. 

I wonder if you know how it feels To be stuck in a moment
That won’t move on?
It was a flashback I had. 

I was punished for it, can’t blame the teacher. 

She didn’t know I was looking at you and not at them
When I told the hunter where the hunted were.
I betrayed them the way you betrayed me.
It was you who tampered with the rules when it came to me.
The difference is I didn’t know. 

I hurt them like you hurt me.
Stuck in a snapshot of seven years old. And yet they got over it.
But I did not.
Still stuck – like a foot in a drain. 

I am nineteen now and still haunted by you.
You and your band of five.
Your faces; it was your faces.
I saw that look in a movie when I was fourteen.
A woman drove another woman mad and she was pleased. 

Were you pleased?
I suppose you were,
For the moment.
Hurting me takes the pain away,
Like biting your lip when you stub your toe. 

I know what you were about.
It was on a Friday; we were ten. You saw me with my mum.
She had driven for six hours
To be with us for the weekend. 

You stood there outside the school classroom staring
With bruised eyes.
You weren’t looking at me.
You were looking at my mum. 

It was never about me. 

That was the only time you were friendly. Although I was with my mum and
You were always charming around mums. That is the last memory I have of you. 

I saw your Facebook page.
You’ve still got your straight blonde hair.
Some things never change, like your interest in horses,
Although your mum tried to scare you away dumping you on that tremendous
Stallion back when we were young. 

We ​are ​young – some states slowly pass. 

I wonder what now’s like – For you, that is. You still live in the area, I hear.
Some things never change.
I’ve left and yet I cannot leave. 

You haven’t and yet you wished you had. 

Some things never change and some things do. Like how you made me what I am today
And yet I still forgive you. 



So my first portrait is of the protagonist, Henry, from one of my online stories. There’s a crease in the picture, which is a bit unfortunate. Will be more careful with my next sketch.

I decided to go for a realistic-expressionistic look to better express his personality.

In this case, Henry is troubled, which is why I have him staring into the distance (how deep!). I think the eyebrows help create the troubled, but thoughtful look too. They slightly stoop in the middle. It always amazes me how subtleties of expression completely change a person’s look. If I had the eyebrows completely straight, he’d probably look quite serious. If I had, however, the eyebrows on a curve like a humpbacked bridge, he’d look rather surprised instead.

Something I always struggle with is symmetry, which is another reason why I started this project. Henry’s head is on a slight angle, which means the rest of his face would be on an angle too. How you ensure that the facial features are perfectly aligned is by drawing parallel lines where the features of the face should be. Sometimes, though, I have a tendency to not want to make things perfectly aligned, but almost aligned, because it makes the picture slightly disconcerting and you don’t quite know why. I didn’t intend to do that with this picture.

Anyway, overall, I think he turned out okay. Not perfect, but if it was up to me, I’d be tweaking him forever. XD


Awakening: A Not Too Distant Future

By Eric Jeffrey Kaufman

I have received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

In the near future, planet Earth as we know it is dying. The human race is diminishing, while cyborgs are increasing at a rapid rate. Can humans and cyborgs work together to save the humanity?

The story centres on a very relevant topic. How do we adapt to a planet that’s becoming uninhabitable? Should we bend the Earth to our will, or should we adapt to the Earth? I appreciated a science fiction story about global warming and the risks we are likely to face in the near future. I also appreciated the ethics that this book brings up around technology and at what point, when we enhance ourselves and our lives through technological advancements, are we ceasing to be human?

While I enjoyed the subject and the ethical questions that this book brought up, I did have a couple of issues with the expression. For instance, in the first few chapters there was some confusion with the tenses.

For example: 

“Striding through the darkened club, I keep my head held high and my shoulders back. I was dressed in an impeccably tailored Armani three- piece suit.”
– Chapter one

In addition, I would have preferred to see more showing rather than telling. 

Having said that, I appreciated the flawed protagonist, Ricardo. At first, I couldn’t stand his arrogance and sexist behaviour, but as the story unfolded I came to respect the way the character was drawn. Ricardo’s journey from arrogant to recognising his own ignorance was particularly well-done and the twist at the end caught me off guard. 

Overall, I found Awakening to be an interesting read. I would recommend it to hardcore sci fi lovers looking for something different.

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The Colonel and The Enchantress (The Enchantresses #4)

By Paullett Golden 

This is one of the best books I’ve read EVER! It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me angry and then it made me very happy. 

The Colonel and the Enchantress is about a young couple, Duncan and Mary, from different social classes in the 19th century. Duncan is working class and Mary is the daughter of a Duke and Duchess. Duncan enters the army and quickly climbs up the ranks to Colonel in the hope that he will be worthy enough of Mary’s hand in marriage. However, he returns from active service with a crippling injury that leaves him paralyzed from the waist down. The book’s main storyline is Duncan and Mary’s relationship and how they navigate their life together in spite of Duncan’s condition.

Duncan and Mary are beautifully drawn. Both have flaws that come with consequences and both have strengths that hold them together. Mary is stubborn to the point that she fails to see her mother, the Dowager Duchess’s, position on the relationship in any other light than as one of cold-hearted snobbery. There’s a beautiful scene towards the end of the book where the Dowager Duchess explains to her daughter that she was on her side the entire time if Mary had only listened. Duncan, on the other hand, is caring and kind but sometimes selfish and has a tendency to push people away because of his own insecurities. One of my favourite moments is when Duncan is in bed feeling sorry for himself and he and Mary get into an argument over whether Duncan was “worthy” and “useful” enough to be her wife and Mary says, “I need you, not because I need you to do something for me, but because I need you.

What’s so satisfying about this love story is that it feels real. There are no points in the plot where anything feels forced or contrived. The love between Duncan and Mary, the arguments they have, the moments they make up, all flow naturally, and I don’t once end up rolling my eyes.

Overall, this is a book I would definitely read again, and that I recommend to anyone who loves a good period romance.

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Protostar (The Star-Crossed Saga)

By Braxton A. Cosby

I have received this arc copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Prince William of the Torrian Alliance lands on Earth on a mission to assassinate the Star-Child, Sydney, only to fall in love with her instead.

In terms of structure, PROTOSTAR is well-paced with a clear and engaging plot. The prologue opens with a punch and each chapter brings more intrigue. 

There’s a shocking twist towards the end that I think fans of the mystery genre will appreciate.

Overall, there are some really engaging scenes with stella characterisation. Henry, Sydney’s father figure and the chief of police, is particularly well-drawn. He is flawed, sarcastic and funny. With him we discover clues about this alien colony that has made contact with Earth.

There are also some nice touches. For example, we are told that Isaac Newton’s ground-breaking theories actually come from Aliens. Quite a funny idea worthy of Doctor Who.

However I do have some issues with the character Sydney. At times her dialogue feels forced and so does her characterisation. Her references to a “Mr Right” and a “Prince Charming” are not realistic. Having recently been a teenage girl among many other teenage girls, I’ve never once talked about or met anyone else who has talked about meeting “Mr Right”, Mr Perfect” or even “Mr Imperfect”. 

There are also certain descriptions of Sydney that I find problematic. Below are some examples:

Hysterical Sydney:

Small explosion of hysteria.

Panicking as she watched her grandmother struggle with the news.

Why is this problematic? Women in history have often been described as hysterical. And the men in this book seem to be able to handle the events much better.

Such are the examples below of the men being seen as the protectors and the women depending on them:

She was nervous but felt safe being with Henry. – Jasmine about Henry.
The only ounce of strength he had left came from knowing Sydney was safe by his side. Protecting her from now on was his new priority. – William

Sydney and boys:

The usual topics of conversation about cute boys, pretty girls and boring homework would have to wait.

“You know how we girls are… He’s no one in particular. Just that certain someone who comes in your life, sweeps you off your feet, and takes you to a whole new level of liking – another world.” – Sydney

She stared at the hand William had kissed. Could this guy really be my Prince Charming?

She nodded as her eyes locked on Earth. “Funny how neither space, distance, or time was sufficient to hinder the power of love. William, tell me more about Star-crossing.”

Why is this problematic? Sydney’s focus on finding “Mr Right” and “love” takes away from her personality and therefore leaves her very 2D because all we know about her is that she loves her grandma and this mystery man in her head. 

Sydney as perfect:

“Well, if I could have anything in the world, I’d like to see my parents”… “But that’s something that can’t be done by anyone on this side of heaven.”

Eyes batted innocently.

Sydney caressed Sarah’s shoulders.

“Oh please do… if you don’t mind.” – Sydney at breakfast.

“I remember that one time you made up that story of stars being parents to lonely kids and that you had a dream one day they would take all the lonely children away to a far-off land to play together.” – Grandma Sarah to Sydney

Why is this problematic? I’m yet to come across a woman, especially a seventeen-year-old girl, who has the mannerisms and speech of Sydney. It’s like she’s reading from a book of how to be a perfect Victorian woman, and yet this is the 21st century, supposedly.

I think the closest we get to Sydney being Sydney is this line her grandma Sarah says to William.

“She’s always making crazy jokes. You know how these young girls are these days.”

However, once it’s established that Sydney is indeed very mature for her age, we get this scene on page 174 where William and she are walking through a forest and Sydney suddenly balances on a wall because she’s bored. Naturally she falls so William can save her.
Usually, having a character do something as silly as balancing on a wall is to show their youth and immaturity – think Dorothy from Wizard of Oz and Louisa Musgrove from Persuasion. Sydney, however, isn’t immature so this action doesn’t appear to be consistent.

Putting criticism aside, I thought the motif of warmth and redemption a breath of fresh air in the YA genre. It’s a message that is relevant to today where there is so much intolerance and lack of forgiveness. 

For example, Sydney’s reaction to William’s apology after he had unwittingly betrayed her to the Torrian Alliance:

“Sydney, is there any way you could forgive me for what I’ve done?” 
She caressed his face. “What’s done is done. Even though all the pain, something inside me knew that you would save me.” 

I found it a powerful and a positive message to send to teens. I also liked that the story ended on a cliff-hanger that made you want to buy the next book.

Overall, I found ProtoStar a well-written YA novel about young love in the face of adversity. I hope in the next book, we see Sydney being more proactive. 

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