Keaton Henson - for kiran

September 09, 2021

Is it Keaton Henson or am I super hormonal?
sobbing gifs Page 7 | WiffleGif


September 01, 2021

Things I enjoyed in the month of August:

Rainbow Rowell's, Wayward Son:

Simon looks over at me. "What?"
"Nothing," I say.
"What?!" he shouts. He can't hear a thing I'm saying over the wind and the engine and the classic rock.
"I hate this fucking car!" I shout back. "The sun is burning me! I might actually catch fire at any moment!"
The wind is blowing Simon's hair straight, and he's squinting―from the sun and from all the smiling. "What!" he shouts at me again.
"You're so beautiful!" I shout back.
He turns the radio down, so now there's just the wind and the engine noise to shout over. "What'd you say?!"
"Are you okay? You look peaky!"
"I'm fine, Snow―watch the road!"
"Do you want me to put the top up?!"
"I'm putting the top up!" He reaches for the lever.
There's a metallic creak. I look back―the convertible hood has risen about six inches, then stopped.
"We'll do it manually!" Simon shouts. "When we pull over?"

The top of the car is well and truly stuck.
Simon is kneeling in the back seat, yanking at it, and it won't budge.
"I don't think you're supposed to raise it while you're driving," I say.

Oh, hellllll no.
Rainbow Rowell, did you just cliffhang me?

Am I in some infernal nightmare or did that really just happen?
It did?
Well, fuck.
(All said whilst starting directly at the copy of Any Way the Wind Blows already sitting on my shelves. Dramatic? Me? Guilty. So guilty)

When the synopsis for the sequel to Carry On was announced, my joy was without tether; pure and unabashed.
My boys were returning, and they were skipping over the Atlantic to road trip their way across America - with Penny in tow, of course; they'd for sure die without her.
Soft boys? Feral bestie? The open road?
There's nothing bad there, not a damn thing.
Then why am I so... underwhelmed?
talking 10 things i hate about you GIF

Let me preface my answer to that question by making something very clear:

This book is a shambles, and I had the best time.

Rowell could put Simon, Baz, and Penny in just about any situation and I'd be overjoyed to be with them.
They could be stuck in a landfill, picking their way through hot garbage and I'd relish every syllable, consonant, and vowel.
They're my people, my wizard babs; I adore them and R² (how I'll refer to her from now on) writes them beautifully, but Wayward Son doesn't have that special, breathless something Carry On had.
Which is to be expected because the first in the series was an introduction to the boys we know and fell in love with.
We watched them fight (verbally and physically), we watched Baz pine (nothing sweeter than watching the object of your affection sleep while devouring endless secret packets of salt & vinegar crisps), we watched Simon finally realise (his reaction to seeing Baz in jeans for the first time lives rent free in my head).
New magic was learnt, death and intrigue around every corner, teenage drama of the non-nauseating variety.
Carry On was exciting, an adventure, a love story, a prophecy fulfilled and my love for it is steadfast and true.
But if it was a prophetic tale of a Chosen One completing their foretold task, then Wayward Son is what happens after.

Simon Snow did what he came to do.
What they all said he would do someday. He found the big baddie―he found two―and he finished them off.
He didn't expect to live through it. And he hadn't.
Baz once told him that everything was a story, and that Simon was the hero. They'd been dancing at the time. Touching. Baz was looking at Simon like anything was possible for them now, like love was inevitable.
Everything was a story. And Simon was the hero. He saved the day. That's when stories end―with everyone looking ahead to "happily ever after."
This is what happens if you try to hang on after the end. When you time has come and passed. When you've done the thing you were meant to do.
The theatre goes dark; the pages go blank.

Everything is a story, and Simon Snow's was over.

What does the Chosen One do when their destiny's been fulfilled and they didn't kick the bucket like many a One is cruelly fated to do?
And especially, what do they do when they've sacrificed all their magic to triumph over evil?
GIF by Disney+

Simon's normal now (he's totally not but my soft, butter-eater doesn't know that yet), magic-less, vulnerable and a new kind of "other" to Baz and Penny.
Even when he had magic he was a magician of a different sort; a powder keg of sorcery, likely to explode at any moment but unable to cast a single spell accurately.
There wasn't a battle he wouldn't run into, an enemy he couldn't defeat.
But now he's human, normal, mundane and where the fuck does that leave him?
Depressed, on the couch, still with wings and a tail, it would seem ← totally valid response.
Magic was everything to him and now he has none; I'd be fucking miserable, too.
I'm miserable for him.
And for Baz, who still loves him but doesn't know how to help.

Her magic.
My magic.
It was very long ago that all the magic was his.
He was the One, wasn't he? The most. The magic-est.
Bunce and I never leave him alone now if we can help it. We go to lectures, we study. (That's what Bunce and I do. That's who we are.) But there's always one of us around―making Snow tea he won't drink, sharing vegetables he won't eat, asking questions he won't answer . . .
I think he hates the sight of us most days.
I think he hates the sight of me. Maybe I should take the hint . . .
But Simon Snow has always hated the sight of me―with a few recent and bittersweet exceptions. In a way, that face he makes when I walk in the room (like he's just remembered something awful) is the only think that still feels familiar.
I've loved him through worse. I've loved him hopelessly . . .
So what's a little less hope?
"I think I'm going to get a curry," I say. "Do you want anything?"
He doesn't turn away from the television.
I try again. "Do you want anything, Snow?"
A month ago, I would have walked to the sofa and touched his shoulder. Three months ago, I would have dropped a kiss on his cheek. Last September, when he and Bunce first moved into this flat, I would have had to pull my mouth away from his to ask the question, and he might not have let me finish.
He shakes his head. 

For Penny, who's stuck in the middle of it all and feels just as helpless.
It's a truly shit-tastic situation and road tripping across America feels like the only thing left to do to get Simon out of his "funk".
And of course it's disastrous. Of course Snowbazenny (I'm shortening everyone's names for this review, I'm just in that kinda mood) idle their way into dangerous situations without even trying. Of course they "stumble" upon a supernatural conspiracy.
Because that's just what they do; magic-less or not, they're the classic heroes in the narrative of good versus evil:

Are good > will run head first into trouble

There's no avoiding it.
I don't want them to avoid it.
And as I said, this was a total shambles but I really did have the best time - not Carry On levels of fun but still rollicking and whatnot.
My problem with Wayward Son is that it felt too much like it was heading in one direction but with no great purpose.
That is, in fact, the definition of a road trip (start the engine and see where the road takes you, yeah?) but to set a story up with the same structure? It lacks the dimension a good narrative needs to keep the reader's attention.
Throughout Wayward Son we're constantly moving forward, one dusty town to the next, with no great purpose other than finding their fourth, and unwilling, member, Agatha (who, yet again, was not exactly a draw for me; she's very one note but I do prefer her with them rather than without).
There's no time to really embrace any of the scenery or even delve into Simon's depression, and 100% of me believes  did this to mirror Simon's current state of mind.
That slow coasting through the days in an apathetic haze of why should I care, it doesn't make a difference; don't make a difference is synonymous with the lackadaisical approach the trio have towards their trip.
Almost instantly things go wrong and they're ready to head home on the next available flight, and you can feel this through the entirety of the book.
Simon's not okay, Baz isn't okay, Penelope's the least okay she's ever been.
This isn't where they should be.
They want to go home.
(Happily, that's where we're heading in the next book. Thank Merlin)
The whole trip is an unmitigated disaster and entirely, extremely, and inexorably frustrating.
What did Carry On make us do?
Fall in love.
In love with who?
And how is my ship sailing?

Off the sofa, out of the flat. Over the ocean, under the sun.
Simon Snow, it hurts to look at you when you're this happy.
And it hurts to look at you when you're depressed.
There's no safe time for me to see you, nothing about you that doesn't tear my heart from my chest and leave it breakable outside my body.

At the end of Carry On we're left with so much hope; Simon and Baz are together, they're smitten as smitten can be, everything's going to be okay.
Wayward Son shot that entirely to shit.
The most frustrating part of this story is the glaring disconnection between the MC.
Their internal monologues have always been our most direct route to how they feel; whether it be their hatred, frustration, longing, lust, etc. it's where we learned how they truly felt about each other.
Wayward Son doesn't take that away, as such, but now there's a wall between them.
Their emotions are so open in the first book, viscerally so, and now, even though we're privy to their thoughts, they're keeping them from each other, in a different way than before because the stakes are higher.
Too afraid to say the wrong thing, to even touch each other because Simon's out of his mind with depression and Baz is scared to death he's going to get dumped by the boy he's loved forever because he cannot make anything better for him.

He's lovely. A bit of a sad mess. Dull and pale and rough round the edges. But still so lovely.

It's infuriating.
And so fucking relatable.

He's sitting there on a black leather armchair. He's sitting there in blue silk with red roses, shotgun scars shining on his pale chest. His hair is wet. His teeth are sharp. His feet are bare.
He used to be mine.
Maybe he still is. A little bit. Enough that I'm allowed to look at him.
But he's less mine than he was three hours ago, that's for bloody sure. He's less mine every minute we spend in this town.

This is a likely outcome for a couple in distress who don't know how to deal with it.
I get that; I hate it, but I get it.
I wanted to shake them, sit them down and make them talk it out, but I understand, that isn't what this book's about.
It's about being in it, down in the depths of sadness and what it does to you and those around you.
Gotta say, R² nailed that hollow hopelessness, even if killed me one word at a time.
My soft, happy wizard boys are in so much pain, even whey they're making out in the back of pickup trucks moving at high speed, they're in pain.

There's a heavy thud. Snow has landed in the truck bed, crouching, his fingertips down, his wings half folded behind his neck. He looks up at me. "Baz."
Simon. I reach out and pull him up to me, next to me, onto me. I'm checking him for holes and wet spots. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine," he says. "Penny―"
"She's fine."
"And you―" His hands are on my shoulders. His mouth is over mine.
"I'm fine," I say, while he kisses me.
Crowley, if this is what it takes to keep Simon in my arms―gunshots and Quiet Zones and high-speed chases―I'm here for it. I've found my vocation.

Perhaps a bit too much pain?
Here me out, I have depression so I realise what a ridiculous thing to say that is but... the Snowbaz series isn't a place I want to feel sad in.
Reading is my escape, my time to not be 1000% inside my brain at all times and honestly? Wayward Son bummed me the fuck out.
It was still funny, still full of heart, adventure, friendship and silliness; R² 's world of magic and mayhem remains a space in literature I adore with all my might but it's not one I go to for this level of intensity.
Going into this I knew from the teasers R² fed us through social media that Simon was not going to be in a good place, I was prepared for the sad bunny version of my beloved wizard boy.
But I didn't know how thorough R² was going to be in her depiction of someone who believes they've lost everything.
I didn't realise I'd spend just over 350 pages chasing after a couple in distress and not have anything to show for it.


He touches me like he can't decide whether to push or pull me, and he's settled on both.
I go where he wants. I take when I can get.
"Can I?" he asks.
Can you what, Simon? Kiss me? Kill me? Break my heart?
I touch him like he's made of butterfly wings.
"You don't have to ask." I say it loud enough that he'll hear me, over everything.


Cold lips, cold mouth.
I've never heard Baz's heartbeat.
And I've lain all night with my head on his chest.


My favourite part of kissing Simon when he's cold is the way he goes warm in my hands. Like I'm the living campfire. Like I'm the one who lives. I warm him in my arms, and then he warms me in his. He gives it all back to me.


I'd give him all that I was.
I'd open up a vein.

I'd tie our hearts together, chamber by chamber.

That's the hardest part of this; we're finally together again, after years of waiting, and we spend a whole book not figuring anything out.
Not a damn thing.
Not Simon's depression.
Not Snowbaz's fragile as fuck relationship.
Not whatever the fuck's going on with the new wave vampires - although, this one's fair, I didn't expect a resolution to this.
Not how Simon's going to move forward.
And a sincere part of me is okay with that; I don't expect Simon to immediately be better after a few days on the road, that would be absurd.
But I expected something. A crumb. A bloody atom of hope just to spur me on with my boys.
But alas, there was nothing.
Or there might have been but at the first sign of it, the book's over.
I'm not being hyperbolic, the very last page is our opening to my boys finally speaking some fucking truths and they get cut off by yet another impending magical disaster.
Screaming. I am screaming.
350 fucking pages, R²!
You sadist!
And to add insult to injury, you wounded my girl.
Properly, right to the jugular, wounded her.
Penelope has always been a source of gumption-fuelled positivity, she buoys Simon up when he needs it but she'll also lead the charge when the situation commands it.
That's the word, commanding. Penelope is commanding.
Can I see her leading a troop of wizards into battle like some magical, warrior, sorceress queen? Vividly and brightly.
Can I equally see her throwing chunks of cherry scone into Simon's mouth in their flat whilst movie marathoning the shit out of all available streaming services and being just as happy? *enthusiastic nodding*
And R² dared to hurt this wonderful creature?
At the hands of a stupid fucking boy who doesn't deserve her?
All my protective, literary instincts were on high alert from that moment on.
The mantra of...

Hurt Penny, will get junk-punched.

...running on a loop inside my head.

And it didn't really get better, she's so sad and defeated throughout the book.
EVERYONE's so sad and it killed me.
Wayward Son is a sad book, with moments of joy and terror and wonder but mostly sad.
I wasn't even interested in the new kid, and he had all the attributes of a character I would normally like.
(Nerdy, awkward, mildly pushy interloper? Yeah, that works)
But nah, nothing; I was too busy sad-sacking all over the pages with Snowbazenny to appreciate him.
Not even the reveal of why Simon still has a wings and tail caused much of a stir in me, other than a whispered cry of knew it.
And all I can think is:

Dear Merlin, let the next one be better.

It has to be, right?
R² wouldn't lead us on like this, right?
She's not that kind of author? RIGHT?
Ugh, I'm very stressed about all this.
Having intense feelings for fictional people is exhausting.
And it hurts me to write a review filled with such disappointment because it wasn't all I felt, not at all.
This story is full of those moments of tenderness and excitement we encountered in the first book, our boys are still very much in love - even if they don't know what to do with each other, and that feeling of hope I mentioned before, it's still there.
Amidst the drowsy apathy that slinks throughout the pages, I can still feel that moment coming when everything's going to be okay again, when all's right in the magical word of Snowbazenny.
That moment just didn't happen in this book.
But we've had the exorcism, it's time for the rebirth.
HopefullyAny Way the Wind Blows will be just that.
It better fucking be, or I might actually lose what's left of my mind and nobody wants that.
Top 30 Madame Mim GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

Special shoutout to Baz's wardrobe.

Baz's sunglasses are as big as his head. And that scarf. It should make him look like a mad old bat, but I'll be damned if he doesn't look half glamourous. Like a boy Marilyn Monroe . . .
My brains gets kind of stuck on "boy Marilyn Monroe" for a while.


Baz is standing in front of a full-length mirror, wearing―I swear to Merlin―a flowered suit. It's some slick material, dark blue with blood red roses. With a white shirt. No―a light pink shirt. When did he start wearing all these flowers? When did his hair get so long? He's put stuff in it, and it's hanging over his collar in thick, black waves.
"You can't be serious," I say.
He cocks an eyebrow at me in the mirror.

Its legend was foretold and the telling was good.

Let me take you on a journey with the rest of subparselkie's Snowbaz fanart; it's adorably accurate:

They even have a picrew
Here's mine:

Feels accurate.

Ps. The moment I knew I'd love Basilton Tyrannus Grimm-Pitch for eternity:

"Come here, Bunce."
"I'm right as rain, Baz."
"Don't make me climb over Simon."
Penelope sighs, leaning over the seat, and Baz holds his wand to her mouth. "Kiss it better!"
"Basil, that's a family spell!"
"Hush," he says, kissing her cheek.

I'm totally fine.

Bonus Taryn Knight baking cherry scones while I was reading this:



(If only Jon Snow had been played by the lovechild of Dev Patel and a young Christian Bale instead of Kit big dull dud Harington)

Some very attractive jawlines, here.


Tyler Gaca segue:

Is this what true love feels like?

More sun and moon goodness:

Moon Love GIF by Jackie Lay
(gif by Jackie Lay)


My sister finally got me to watch Queer Eye.
It only took her a year or so because when people tell me to watch something I automatically do the opposite.
For bratty brain reasons.
She's figured out a way to get around me, though, the tricky trickster woman.


STEP 1: Have it playing in a room she's inevitably going to walk through.

STEP 2: Stay vewy, vewy quiet and watch as the lesser-spotted sister-idiot sniffs the screen inquisitively with her brain.

STEP 3: Bask in your success as she proceeds to devour every episode available and talk about it non-stop as if you don't already know it's fucking brilliant and told the idiot to watch it in the first place.

I'm a simpleton, I can't deny it.
And a particularly stupid one for putting off the Queer Eye boys for so fucking long because oh holy wow, they're the sweetest, kindest, most loveable humans in all of television.
Slight exaggeration?

For the last two weeks or so they've made me idiotically happy with their softness.
That Time Queer Eye's Antoni Gave Me Life Advice - FLARE

 Made me smile when I'm having a bad day/moment.

And provided eye candy in the form of home improvements... 


...and Antoni Porowski's general being:
#mine from cool motive . still murder

Look at this precious thirst trap:
Tumblr: Image
Tumblr: Image

And this on point fanart:

Kelsey C. Roy really nailed the adorable maniacal muppet expression he gets when he's excited.

I need the next season to drop on Netflix.
Now would be preferable.
I miss my boys.


If you ink your skin with a Moomin do you gain eternal softness?


Amandla Baraka's photoshoot of Wunmi Mosaku:

Bottom left.
Dear god, bottom left.
I just want to bring her a cocktail, or a puppy, or, I dunno, my soul or something.
How is she even real?
#wunmi mosaku from sateenkaarikansalainen

Cannot wait to watch this goddess in Lovecraft Country and the next season of Loki.


Cannot even begin to describe how much I loathed Midsommar.
Give me Ginger Minj any day over that 148 minute clusterfuck.
#midsommar from sandra-the-swamp-witch

Ed Mironiuk's felt creation, though?


This is something I've discussed on and off with my sisters throughout the years; when we're not solely speaking in pop culture references, that is.
(It doesn't happen often, we're walking gifs)
We all read but not one of us processes literature the same.
I can't focus on audiobooks, my middle sister can without even thinking about it.
I prefer print but happily read digital, but I find my eyes focus differently when looking at a screen and I'm not fond of it.
My eldest sister hops around all three forms without any difficulty or seemingly any preference.
We're made from the same genetic material but we couldn't be more different when it comes to reading.
But we do all narrate inside our heads, hear our own voices when specifically looking at the printed word.
And I've actually tried to alter it whilst reading, especially when it's a male character speaking because my tone doesn't deepen or become more masculine when they start talking but they do feel distinctly male in my head.
And when I try to make the voice in my head more masculine it feels bizarre and false, more false than my voice, a woman's, narrating a male.
The human brain is wild.
Hungry Brain Food Sticker by Idil Keysan
(gif by Idil Keysan)


Agavny Vardanyan's moss rug:

Guess who's going to be raiding her sister's wool supply?


Penny Thomson's automata:


My idiot:

He's very pretty but he's very stupid.
He's also not stuck.
He just wants to show you how smart he is for getting on the roof and how good he is at getting down but only if you act like you're helping him.
Did I mention he's an idiot?

Ps. The whole interaction reminds me of this Fishball comic:


Forensic and Flowers' spooky pizza branding:

I want spooky pizza...




Blood made beautiful.

I'd love to see a process video of this.
Just so my brain can be wrinkled in motion.

Want more of the red stuff?

Technically they're Anemone dresses but come on?
They look like something straight out of Angela Carter's bloodied brain.

Speaking of ridiculously beautiful dresses:

Chotronette continuing to blow my fucking mind.


Ampreh's BEASTARS fanart:

I wasn't as into the second season (not enough Legoshi and Haru time) but I still love these fuzzy disaster babies.

Here's more of Ampreh's work:


So grimy and fucked up and violent.

I don't know who sends Daniel Radcliffe these type of scripts but bless your skeevy heart.

Ps. The Samara Weaving crush-fest continues:
#userbru from born to run.

Pps. I have no idea what's happening here but I am so in:


Book facts:
Alyxandria Ang

Kaylee Mesa

Also this:




The Witcher season two:

Season 1 Episode 10 GIF by NBC

Did I scream/yelp when my sorceress girlfriend appeared at the end?
You bet your sweet Witcher ass I did.
Just look at her:

And some more fanart by Sim Sim:

Now look at this line art of the boyfriends by Kaciart

And this special time from Lady Cibia:

If they're separated for the duration of the next series, i'mma gonna lose it.
Tumblr: Image


Studson Studio's, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE made from JUNK:

So Shocked GIF - Shocked Shookt Surprised GIFs



There's always at least one animal on the internet giving me endorphin highs.
Casper, Daisy, Bernie and Crumpet are the current flavours of the month.


Ilona Andrew's, Iron and Magic:

"...just to be crystal clear," Elara said. "This marriage is in name only."
"Sweetheart, you couldn't pay me enough."
Pink touched her tan cheeks. "If you betray us, I'll make you suffer."
"We haven't even married yet, and I'm suffering already."
"We have that in common," she snapped.
They both leaned back at the same time. He was marrying an ice harpy. Fantastic. Just fantastic.


Hugh shook his head. "I had a crazy thought."
"By all means, do share it."
"What if I'm dead and this is purgatory, and you're my punishment?"
"I doubt it," she told him.
"Because if I'm your punishment, you're mine. The Christian god is the god of forgiveness. He is too kind to do this, even to us."
He laughed again.


"You can't," Savannah recoiled. "For him? You would manifest for him?"
"Hugh was abandoned by everyone in his life." Her words rang out. "His parents, his teacher, his surrogate father. They all threw him away. He trusted us. He sacrificed himself to save us. This is his home. I'm his wife. I will not abandon him..."

I wasn't worried.
There are some authors who I may love but can't entirely trust to deliver the goods with every book.
House Andrews are not those authors.
If anything, they surpass my expectations with every Kate story they put out, which is truly a thing of wonder when it's a ten book series and it's been running concurrently with two other series.
Their talent is mind-boggling.
Thus why I wasn't worried when Iron and Magic was announced and subsequently thrust out into the world.
Mostly, I was happy-bouncing that a) Hugh d'Ambray, the anti-villain of my fucking dreams (think a meaner Loki, but just as sarcastic, 10 x deadlier, and filthy god-level hot; like if Henry Cavill and Tom Hiddleston did the nasty and produced a blood-soaked, handsome as fuck demon with fantastic hair. Good, right?) was finally getting his own series, and b) there's another House Andrews series in the Kate Daniels Universe for me to fall hopelessly in love with.
A Dream Come True Dan Levy GIF - A Dream Come True Dan Levy Saturday Night Live GIFs

Concerns over whether this story would work?
It's Hugh fucking d'Ambray, people; this man could space-hopper himself into a battle of feral pugs and I'd happily bounce along behind him into the adorable fray.

I find it endlessly amusing how much people in the fandom hate Hugh, actively loathe him for what he's done to Kate and her family and yeah, valid, point taken, but this freak?
Cheering him on from behind the pages without a shred of remorse.
When he was behind the death of Aunt Bea? Still my malevolent mister.
Torturing Ascanio in front of Kate to force her to say uncle? My man was just doing his work and he did it with style.
Imprisoning Kate down an inescapable well for weeks on end? Starving her? Stealing all her hope? Well, what else was he supposed to do to get her attention, huh?
This man... he could burn the world down and I'd still have fucking stars in my eyes for him.
I'm disgusting for Hugh d'Ambray and entirely cool with that.
He's my kryptonite; pelt me with green space rocks, I don't mind, as long as I can see that man slice people to shreds with his words and his sword.
(The amount of delight I take from words and sword being anagrams of each other in that particular sentence could make a lexicographer blush)

D'Ambray stepped forward, his movements beautifully liquid. His left hand caught the mercenary's wrist. D'Ambray yanked the man's arm straight, and stabbed into the inside of the elbow, twisting the blade. The man's arm came off in d'Ambra's hand. Blood poured.
He deboned him like a chicken. This isn't happening, this can't possibly be real, it's too horrible to be real...
D'Ambray tossed the forearm aside.
The mercenary fell to his knees, his eyes wide, and toppled over. His intestines fell out in a clump.
The world had turned into a nightmare and she skidded through it, stunned and petrified.
"Look at that," d'Ambray said. His voice froze the blood in her veins. "He's going into shock. This won't do. Not at all."
D'Ambray held his hand out. A current of pale blue magic poured out of him, bathing the man.
The mercenary coughed.
"That's right," d'Ambray said. "Come on back. We're not done yet."
The blood over the stump clotted, sealing it. The mercenary tried to rise.
"Come on. Almost there. Let's get your guts back in."
The intestines slid back into the man's stomach. He stood up, shuddering and gripping his knife with his remaining hand.
"Very nice," d'Ambray said.
The current died.
The mercenary charged, trying to take a swipe at d'Ambray. He sidestepped and slashed across the man's back, stopping just short of the spine. The mercenary turned, ripping his stomach wound open. The innards slipped out again. They were hanging from him like some sort of grotesque garlands. The air reeked of blood and acid.
Elara finally saw the crowd around them, dead silent, her people horrified, the Iron Dogs impassive. Skolnik stared, his face completely bloodless. The other mercenary shook like a leaf, clamped tight by d'Ambray's people.
"Let's do the nose next," d'Ambray said.
"Hugh," she called.
He halted. "Yes, darling?"
"Please stop."
Hugh glanced at the disfigured stump that used to be a man. "My wife wants me to stop. We'll have to cut this short."


The primordial hormonal monster inside of me isn't coping well with... all that.
But enough about my formidable crush on a fictional sadistic shithead, let's talk story.
Iron and Magic is not what I was expecting.
To be fair, I didn't really have any firm preconceived notions on where HA (House Andrews, because I'm too lazy to type it every time) were redirecting Hugh's story after his banishment, but did I see this mediaeval-esque, arranged marriage, knights in malevolent armour, classic big, messy battle style of tale unfolding?
Uh... no, no I did not.
Was it better than anything I could have ever dreamt up?

If I could kiss HA right now... I probably wouldn't because boundaries, but the urge would be insanely intense.
Because I loved this, I loved it so much and I didn't know this was where I wanted Hugh to be.
We know he's a classic dark knight stereotype:

✓ Works for an evil bastard
✓ Doesn't have many morals
✓  Will murder on command
✓ Caustic sense of humour
✓ Catnip for the ladies
✓ Really fucking good at his job

This is all established the moment we meet him, but so far our only encounters with him have been when Kate's around, from her perspective, and Kate's a very modern woman, there isn't anything mediaeval about her other than that foul temper of hers and a gift for colourfully swearing at people.
Hugh might be a knight but we've never seen him in the classic setting, we've never seen how well it suits him.
Hugh d'Ambray is a man who should always ride a big horse, wear a flowing cape, own a big fuck off castle, and lounge in his throne room with the ease of a king.
He's that guy.
And holy fuck, does he wear it well.
#henry cavill from The Left One

But what do I alway say about what makes a fantastic villain?
Unabashed glee.
All those brooding, stoic, soliloquising villains, please step off the podium, it's the snarky bastard in the back's time to shine.
And shine he did, he was a nuclear fucking blast of shininess.
Let me set the stage for you:

Our anti-villain has been disowned by the surrogate evil bastard father who he worships like a deity, banished to live a mortal life with the constant threat of death hanging over him, loathed by just about everyone and in need of a place to hang his head and protect his people, the much feared Iron Dogs.
Cue an arranged marriage with an equally feared and despised witch with a caustic tongue and a terrifying entity lurking inside her, a castle thrown in to sweeten the deal, and a new big bad to rend and claw at.
All while situated in the middle of nowhere, in the above-mentioned castle, with an Arthurian aesthetic draped in enough flying banners to hug my idiot heart with.

Aidy Bryant Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live

Truly, this is one of my favourite places to be in fiction; I looooove anything with knights and duels and bloody battles.
In my head, Iron and Magic very much has a The Witcher vibe to it.
You could actually interchange Hugh with Geralt and Elara with Yennefer, they share much the same qualities except Hugh's ability to brood lasts about a minute (at least outwardly) and is swiftly eclipsed by his need to make evil lemonade out of perfectly fucking reasonable lemons, and Elara... no, Elara's pretty much a Yennefer but with alabaster hair and harbouring an eldritch horror inside her body.
But otherwise...

Down to the bickering, their fierceness, the battling in tandem, the shared magic and the inability to admit their, I'm gonna say a dirty word, feelings *shudder* for each other, they're the perfect OTP and complete matches for Gerennefer? Yenalt? Yenralt?
And in much the same vein, they took me completely by surprise.
(The Witcher was one of the best tv shows from last year but I was fully prepped to hate it. ... I fell idiotically in love instead)
HA are magnificent at setting up couples within the KD universe: Kate and Curran (my original and most beloved idiots), Andrea and Raphael (screamed a little when they showed up, not gonna lie), Jim and Dali (anyone else worried for the stubborn panther and his treasured white, sneezing tigress?), and Barabas and Christopher (even though it's not canon yet, it's going to be adorable when it is).
All fantastic, believable, time-invested couples who I love so fucking dearly, I'd cut any bitch who dares harm them.
And I can now add Hugh and Elara to this list.
Although, they'd probably do the cutting for me, these two are as feral as they come.
The moment they meet it's a snarling mess of sexual tension, so thick with pheromones you could scoop it into a bathtub and paddle around in it, rubber duckies of evil and all.
My favourite type of couple.
The more they fight, the more I feel the love and my love is unfathomable for these two.
It's been one book and I'm obsessed with them, Kate and Curran level obsessed and I never thought I'd see the day that would happen.
But it did and it's amazing and I'm now going to spend a frightening amount of time just thinking about them, trying to find fanart (it'll be fruitless because no one makes fanart for Kate and her cronies but alas, I must search anyway), obsessing over fan-made Tumblr gifsets.
Like this beauty:

Y'know, normal fangirl behaviour.
Oh, and bemoaning the fact that book two is on indefinite hiatus because to quote HA:

Fair play but my brain will continue to banshee scream for more in the meantime.
I'll just have to soothe myself by keeping the book close and rereading particular chapters like the good obsessive monster that I am.
And there's plenty to choose from; the fox-earing I did to the pages of my copy borders on abuse but it couldn't be helped, not when there's magic, mayhem and manhandling to be had on every other page.
And especially when 90% of that is either being caused or dealt with by Hugh.
Y'know, I said I wasn't worried at the start of the review but that's not entirely true.
I was really worried in fact that HA would give Hugh his own book and that they'd change him, soften his integral badness, give him morals.
Because that's what you'd do, right? Change the villain into a teddybear so he'll be more palatable for the masses? It's the obvious choice and I could never accuse HA of doing anything I expect (which I love) but the fear was still there, that they'd make him human and not the monster I loved on first sight.
Which, well, they did.
Very important but.
It wasn't a change, it was a reveal.
As I said, we've only observed Hugh from Kate's perspective, and it's probably for the best, but Kate can't read minds.
She has no clue just who Hugh d'Ambray is.
She knows his history, his misdeeds, the way he fights and flirts but she doesn't know what's going inside of him
And neither did we until now.
I may have been puke-worthing-ly in love with him before but I'm a fucking fool for the conceited twat now.
Henry cavill the tudors GIF - Find on GIFER

Because now I know that he may be a villain, he may do terrible things, he may enjoy doing those terrible things but that isn't the entirety of him.
He's not a victim, exactly, he's had a choice in everything he's done but how much of it really was a choice?
He was a homeless orphan, abused for his powers, totally alone in the world and then suddenly a man, full of light and warmth, offered him a home, a place to belong, to be a son, but only if he did the man's bidding and knew that if he defied him, he would be cast out or worse.

"You're very special," the man said. "Look at all those people out there."
He didn't want to look away from the man, but he didn't want to disappoint him even more, so he turned his head and looked at the people in the market.
"Of all the people out there, you shine the brightest. They are firebugs, but you are a star. You have a gift."
He raised his hand and studied his fingers, trying to see the light he man was talking about, but he saw nothing.
"If you come with me, I promise you that I will help your light grow. You will live in a nice house. You will eat plenty of good food. You will train hard and you will grow up to be strong and powerful. Nobody will be able to stand in your way. Would you like that?"

There is a choice there but it's a vastly difficult one to make for someone who's only known love from one place, even if it came with conditions.
And he's endured this since infancy, he's been trained to believe this is what love looks like; unlike Kat, who escaped her father's clutches before he could do any permanent damage, Hugh's felt Roland's "love" at its full force and it's skewed him beyond repair.
Which, if it were anyone else, I'd want rectified but d'Ambray's a special case, to change him would be to neuter him.
I don't want his sharpness dulled, I just want a closer look.
HA gave us that in this book and what I always suspected to be true, was.
A villain Hugh may be but he's not without depth or remorse or lack of emotion, in fact, he might be one of the most emotional characters in the whole KD universe.
You think Curran's got a tight leash on his emotions? Hugh's Fort fucking Knox.
But only with people who aren't his family.
I may not have had any concrete ideas on how this book would go but I did have hopes, one of them being, like I said above, that HA wouldn't alter Hugh's integral villainy but show his soft, vicious bunny side - which they did, beautifully, the other to spend some time with his family, his real family, the Iron Dogs.
Again, so far they've been "the bad guys", hunting and attempting to kill Kate and her family, doing general misdeed-ery (it's a word now, shut up), fucking shit up for shits and giggles.
There hasn't been any real substance, but even just seeing them from other people's perspective, I knew there had to be more to it; not just anybody follow's a man like Hugh d'Ambray.
And do you know what? 
They're all complete softies.

Killing machine cuddle monsters with unwavering affection for their leader and it fucking killed me, because they may be "owned" by Roland but their allegiance is to Hugh, without question, they'd die for him.
And they're not amoral brutes. They're intelligent and thoughtful and heroic.
We so often forget there are two sides to a story.
Good and evil?
Well, it depends on your viewpoint, which side you're on.
And Hugh's side has always been firmly on Roland's, not on himself but his adopted father, and when he was bid to do something wrong, he did it because a god, who surely wouldn't ask him to do something without righteousness behind it, asked him to.
His father asked him to.

"You want to see inside my mind, Elara?" He strode into the water. Panic bit at him, but he crushed it. Magic bathed his legs. "Go ahead and look."
He remembered it all for her. The razor-edge flash of ending a life, one after another, the endless chain of deaths he caused, the blood, the pain, watching friends fall, the screams, the clamor of metal on metal, the staccato of guns, failing, breaking, burning, getting up again and again, and killing... Everything that he used to shrug off and that now haunted his nightmares, he let it all out. He owned all of it. He was ordered to do it, he was praised when he succeeded, and it didn't matter, because every drop of blood, every last gasp, all of it was his fault.

Christ, is there anyone more gaslit and abused in Urban Fantasy than Hugh d'Ambray?

The best thing that ever happened to him was being disowned and left for dead because now he can see Roland for what he is.
Now, he can see his true family isn't some dogmatic false deity but the people who would turn against that same god and follow him instead.

"We want you to lead us," Stoyan said. "The Dogs know you. They trust you. If they know you're alive, they will find you. We can pull in the stragglers and hold against Nez."
"You don't know what you're asking." To stay awake and anchored to reality, with the void chewing on him. He would go mad.
"I'm not asking." Stoyan stepped in front of him. "I trusted you. I followed you. Not Roland. Roland didn't make me promises. You did. You sold me this idea of belong to something better. The Iron Dogs are more than a job. A brotherhood, you said."
"A family, where each of us stands for something greater," Lamar said.
"If you fall, the rest will shield you," Bale said.
Hugh surveyed the Iron Dog ranks. All the family he would ever need.

#hcavilledit from I’m here for the cult stuff

This was one of those moments in literature when I've wanted something for a character but I haven't realised it yet, and when it happens?
Tsumugi gifs!. Saas: Sweetness and Lightning, such a good little show!.. Such a fantastic wholesome show. I read through the whole manga and it's wonderful. I'd love to see a season 2.

I think I've wanted this for Hugh for a very long time.
I think I've wanted it since he offered Kate a life with him instead of Curran, because there was a longing there.
A longing to have someone other than Roland, someone to play with, fight with, feel with.
I've wanted that for him, just not with Kate but someone equally fierce and funny and challenging.
Someone like Elara.

She walked up to the altar, beautiful like a vision. He was marrying a queen from a fairy tale.
Hugh held his hand out to her. She put her fingers into his and together they walked up three steps to the altar. She smiled at him, and something in his chest moved.
He had to break the illusion, so he made his mouth work. "Nobody to walk you down the aisle?"
Elara didn't look at him, her eyes fixed on the pastor. "I don't need anyone to give me away."
He needed more. She was still too beautiful, too regal, too much.
"Aren't you supposed to have some little kids running around throwing flowers? Or did you sacrifice them on the way?"
Her face jerked. "Yes, I did. And I devoured their souls."
There she was. "Good to know. The photographer is snapping pictures. Say cheese, love."
Elara gave him a brilliant happy smile. "Cheese, dickhead."
"He did his best to look the way a groom might if he was actually marrying this creature and imagining getting her out of that gown tonight. "Rabid harpy."
The pastor, a man in his thirties with dark hair and glasses, stared at them, his mouth slack.
"Start the ceremony," Hugh told him, putting some menace into his voice.
"Before we kill each other," Elara said.
"I know pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss."
Hugh stepped toward her. "Try to make this look good."
"I'll do my best not to vomit in your mouth."


Oh, Elara, let me sing you a song of how much I FUCKING ADORE YOU.
You're a gift.
A curse-happy, foul-tempered, Hugh-baiting gift to the KD universe and I cannot wait to spend more time with you and your ability to ruffle your hubbies unrufflable feathers.
The infamous warlord and his ice queen harpy.
I get the happy shivers just thinking about them because unlike the rest of the couples in the KD universe, these two really made each other work for it.
Kate and Curran played a little cat and uh, bigger cat; Hugh and Elara went to fucking war.
There was flirting, of course, but it was caustic and vicious and intended to wound.
This wasn't playground love, this was Battle Royale, a fight to the death, kill or be killed, no prisoners taken, here, just good old fashioned fucking and fighting for the sheer pleasure of it.

"We can't withstand a siege. We have to hit Nez so hard and so fast on his first charge, that he'll decide besieging us is too expensive. To do that, we need defenses that work against undead. The moat is such a defense. Without it, this place is a death trap. I realize you don't understand it, but you're not in charge of our defenses. I am."
White ice exploded inside Elara. "You have some nerve," she snarled. "Your moat will cut my budget by a third!"
"Our budget."
"Not yet, it's not! I have to fund the school for this year. I have to feed three hundred extra people who earn no money. It doesn't grow on trees. Did Roland not explain to you the concept of money when he doled out your allowance?"
Hugh's eyes narrowed. "I don't know if you're too thick to see it or you're on a power trip, so I'll make it simple for your: give me the moat or I'll take my people and leave. I'm not dying here because you're an idiot."
"Arrogant dickhead!"
"Screeching harpy."
"Rot in hell, d'Ambray."
"I love you too, darling."

Gotta say, it was a nice respite from the love-fests I'm usually reading.
(I gobble those love-fests up like a trail of Skittles, don't get me wrong)
A little malice with my romance is always welcome and Elara comes with a stockpile of it.
She's a tricky one, though, just like Hugh because actually, actually, there's nothing evil about Elara, other than the entity that co-exists inside of her.
We haven't got any backstory on that yet, so I may be wrong about this but as it stands, Elara is a true leader: strong, capable, fearsome, a champion and martyr for her people but also beloved.
Morally compromised? Perhaps. Evil? No way.
A match for Hugh? Oh, most definitely.

I don't know how you create fictional couples and write their chemistry as if they really exist, I don't know what magic was given to authors to be able to do that but HA must have been given an extra dose because their MCs always have incredibly connections, which seems to come out the strongest when they're arguing.
And Elara and Hugh don't stop bickering until the very last page, and even then, there's still bite to their interactions.
If I used the word gorgeous to describe the way Elara holds her own against her cocksure tart of a husband it wouldn't be strong enough because the back and forth between them?

The timing, the viciousness, the leaving Hugh I have an answer for everything d'Ambray fizzing with blistering rage.

Hugh bit off words, pronouncing them with icy exactness. "Our agreement was, I get the salvage and you let us have the bulldozers. I have three days' worth of salvage credit left."
"Yes, but we didn't specify when the bulldozers will be available to you. There is nothing in that agreement about any kind of timeline. You will get your bulldozers back. Just not right now."
He couldn't kill her. If he killed her, he would have to kill everyone else in this damn settlement. His rage was boiling over and he distilled it to a single word. "When?"
"When I feel like it," she told him.
She was toying with him now.
Elara reached over, picked up a folder from the desk, and half it in front of her so only her eyes were visible.
"What are you doing?"
"Waiting for your head to explode. I don't want to miss it, but I don't want to be splattered with gore."

I couldn't have asked for more.
Daenerys Targaryen Khaleesi GIF - Daenerys Targaryen Khaleesi Betray Me GIFs

But then they started banging.
Actual detailed, several chapters long, kinky-fuckery banging.
This has never happened before in the KD universe, normally we're treated to vague descriptions and it's over within a page or two. Highly unsatisfying but apparently these two warranted a vivid trip to bone-town, and the best way I can describe it is with this gif:
Tumblr: Image

And this is the SFW version.
The visual part of my brain is in a happy stupor, right now and not just because I get to throw around Henry Cavill gifs all over the place - although, that's pretty spectacular.
I don't need sex in fiction but sometimes it really does cement the relationship between two characters and with the amount of tension built between these two, it was a foregone conclusion.
And my girl gave as good as she got.

If you hadn't noticed, I love her.
I'd read a whole book/series just with her because she isn't simply there to be a match for Hugh, she isn't a plot point, she's a compelling, fully formed character all on her own.
This book? You could write it without Hugh.
d'Ambray stans, back off, I still want him in it. I want him just about everywhere *cue dirty chuckle* but Elara could've sorted this shit out without him, she'd have found a way.
Admitting that doesn't make Hugh redundant, just like Elara he could've sorted his current clustercuck out by himself as well.
They're very capable people.
It just means that Elara, as a women and a leader, is fully capable of getting shit done without having to reply on outside help but accepts it when she chooses, and that's my kinda woman.
The fact she keeps Hugh around because she's clearly infatuated with the idiot, even though she'd rather cut her tongue out before admitting it - same goes for the idiot in question, just illustrates that she makes her own decisions and she'll have some fun while she does it.
She wants d'Ambray? She'll have him and she'll make him suffer in the process.
But anyone else tries to fuck with him?
Well, there's a certain thing of many teeth that lives inside her that might take issue with that.

Mist shot through the doorway, glowing with magic, broke, and there it was, pure white and glowing, too monstrous to comprehend, emanating the kind of wolf that rode comets and lived between the stars. Roland jerked back, shock on his face. Hugh just stared at it, mute. Every cell in his body was screaming. And then he saw her among the chaos of teeth, mouths, and eyes. She'd come for him.
She turned to Roland and he took a step back, shock draining all of the blood from his face.
She spoke, and cracks split the walls.
"Have him then." Roland vanished.
The creature of chaos lowered itself to him, and Hugh made his lips stretch into a grin, before his mind split open from sheer terror. His voice came out hoarse. "Hi, honey."

#game of thrones from telescopes

Um, HA? What'd you put inside my lady? Because it's bloody terrifying and I'd like to know some more.
I'd like to know more of everything to be honest.
More of Hugh's history, Elara's powers, Hugh's powers, the things they've done and seen.
I'd really like to watch them build a life together; bickering, crรชpes, eldritch horrors and all.

If it comes back, Hugh will kill it. That's what he does. He protects us.
The world had sat askew, until he'd come to the castle. All the cornerstones of his life had fallen: Roland gone, his position as Warlord eliminated, his immortality over. But now he had a place, here in the castle, and a purpose.
If it comes back, Hugh will kill it. That's what he does. He protects us. It will be okay.
When he'd heard the child scream, he had imagined the worst. If someone had asked him this morning what was the worst that could happen, he would've had to think about it. Now he knew. The worst would be Elara dying.
The fights, the compromises, the manoeuvring, pissing her off until she turned purple in the face and forgot to keep a hold on her magic, so it leaked from her eyes, all of it took up so much of his time. It was fun. If she was no longer here, he wouldn't know what to do with himself. Would he leave? Would he stay?
The new life, it was just his. Hugh didn't owe it to anyone. He was building it himself, brick by brick, one shovel of cement at a time, the same way he had built that damn moat. He was building his own castle, and for better or worse, the harpy wormed her way into his world and became its tower.

Geralt and Yennefer, The Witcher | The witcher books, The witcher, The  witcher geralt

I'd like this to be Kate Daniels mark two, knights in bloodied armour style, but that's maybe not giving it enough credit.
This may be set in the KD universe but it's most certainly a story unto itself.
It feels separate enough from Kate's chaos to exclude her mostly from Elara and Hugh's decision making - even when certain Bouda's drop in and make me inwardly scream like a delighted idiot. Ascanio, you beautiful moron, drop in anytime you like.
This is their story, no one else's.
So, maybe I don't want a rehash but something that'll give me that feeling of rightness I experienced when I read the first few pages of Magic Bites, that same feeling that continued and grew as the series went one.
The feeling I'm heartsick to lose when I read the final book.
I can tell you now, Iron and Magic gave me that feeling, from the first page onwards and I'm dying for more.
So, world, could you give us a break so my authors could get on that, please?
I need more of my bickering idiots in hate/love.

"Elara," he called.
She turned around, walked up to the bed, and leaned over him, one knee on the covers. "You're my husband, Hugh. We no longer walk alone. We are each other's shelter in a storm. As long as you want to stay here, you'll have a home. I'll never abandon you."
She leaned forward. Her lips brushed his and she kissed him.

#henry cavill from Toss a coin to your Witcher

Ps. Is Hugh riding a unicorn? Is that happening, HA?

"Is his horse glowing?" She squinted at the stallion. If you looked just right, there was a hint of something protruding from its forehead, like a shimmer of hot air.
"It appears so."

Because fucking yes!
Taylor Swift Cat Joe Alwyn Cat GIF - Taylor Swift Cat Joe Alwyn Cat Katy Cats GIFs

Pps. Chapter 10, page 222-27.


Like Heavy Metal but better?

I need this on a t shirt/sweatshirt/varsity jacket/whatever, I just need it on my body!


I liked season one, I did.
But I lovvvvvved season two.
The misery's gone and in its place is an actual family.
#the umbrella academy from yes! I'm a werelock, so what!?

Petty bickering, sucker-punches, face-pulling and all that good sibling idiocy I know by rote because this is the shit I do with my sisters.

Bar the time travelling, superpower, apocalyptic stuff.

Sidenote: can everything be set in the sixties?
This aesthetic just does things to me.


I'm sorry, what?
Homer Day Dreaming GIF - Homer Day Dreaming Thinking GIFs


The prettiest picrew I've seen yet.
And the most seamless.
All the details fit perfectly together, no matter the combination, and all the facial quirks are so bloody cute.
I can't stand it!
And I can't stop making them, I think I'm up to eight at this point? And not looking to stop.
It's the digital dress-up game of my dreams.
And yes, I need the glasses every time:

Ps. This is also the most inclusive picrew i've come across.
It's overflowing with options for skin colour, facial features, hair type and more.


My birthday Raspberry and Pistachio Tiramisu:

I'm only capable of making om nom nom noises to describe this.


Anxious, feral, shit-stirring harpies might be my greatest of all jams.
(art by Lisa DuBois)

And these ladies:


Iffy aka. beartnie:



The Avo-babs:

My sister and I started an avocado army.
I eat their flesh, Em gives them a bath.
And of course we're naming them.
(If you don't know why, get out of my house. ... Or go here to have your life made infinitely better)

(Because he looks like a Fraggle, he's coming in jaunty, and Em let me decide which muppet to name him after. Rookie. Mis-take)

And Klaus
(Because he's Number 5. Obviously)

They only get a name when they breach the seed.
(Don't judge me, it needed phrased that way)
It's the rules.
(animation by Breton Brander)


Olympic gold winner, LI Wenwen by ็œ ็‹ผ:



A little serenade from Lennie to finish this up:

Maybe if this was my alarm, I'd be a little less...

And a little more...

Or a horrifying mish-mash of the two.
Yeah... that seems more likely...
(gif by kantaro)

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