Friday, August 11, 2023

MARIAH's THOUGHTS on The School for Good and Evil (2022)

Release Date:
October 19, 2022
Run Time:
2 hrs 29 mins

Directed by:
Paul Feig

Based on the bestselling books by:
Soman Chainani

Production Co.:
Netflix, Feigco Entertainment, Jane Startz Productions, Roth Films, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films

Distribution Co.:

Social Media:

Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Flatters, Kit Young, Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Delaney, Mark Heap, Patti LuPone, Rachel Bloom

Plot Summary:
Best friends Sophie and Agatha find their bond put to the test when they're whisked away to a magical school for future fairy-tale heroes and villains.


*My Thoughts*

Cliché as can possibly be, The School for Good and Evil (2022) film is cheesy and over the top with puffy dresses, glitter, flowers, and pink, lots of pink, but I still loved how fun it all is. Two outcast best friends live in a dreary little village and are whisked away to a school of magic and fairytales where they fully embrace who they are. Afterall, the film is set in Gavaldon, a small-time village where everyone frowns upon those who are different. Don’t dream too big. Don’t stand out. No witches or princesses allowed. But Sophie and Agatha, played by Sophia Caruso and Sofia Wylie respectively, are comfortable enough being themselves and traverse life, despite being bullied, harassed, and nearly assaulted by dusty crusty villagers. The School for Good and Evil (2022) is predictable but glittery, fun, and dramatic. My only grievance is that the acting feels stiff sometimes.

Sophie is a talented seamstress with a room filled with her personal designs. She’s optimistic, ambitious, and loves to read. It seems like Sophie tries to lean far into the ideal princess aesthetic. Agatha is more grounded, intelligent, yet kind and selfless, and she also helps her grandmother collect herbs and ingredients. When Sophie can’t stand living a tepid life in Gavaldon, she writes a note asking for admission to the School for Good and Evil, a magical place described in one of the various books she read, and places it in a wishing tree located at Sophie and Agatha’s hang out spot. While Sophie is admitted into the school and swept away by an unknown creature, Agatha hangs on to her best friend for dear life and winds up being dragged along and the two are, with unexpected results, dropped off at the school. After looking at their characters throughout the movie, Agatha being placed in the school for good and Sophie being placed in the school for evil is sensible.

As far as stereotypes are concerned, Agatha despises being a princess, never wanting to have been dragged to the magical school in the first place. She doesn’t want to be a damsel in distress or smile and be kind all the time. She despises big, puffy, and impractical dresses. Men’s attention even appalls her, yet she is admitted into the good side of the school. On the other hand, Sophie wants to be the princess of a fairytale land and do much more with her life than live in a simple village. She is ambitious and headstrong, even conniving. Sophie, much to her disappointment, is admitted to the evil side of the school. But due to each of their most prominent personality traits, they prove to be more fit for the half of the school than they originally believed.

The big bad, the antagonist, the real villain of the entire movie, Rafal, trickles into the plot bit by bit. At first, he is seen in the first few minutes of The School for Good and Evil (2022), supposedly being defeated by his twin brother Rhian in a duel, but he reveals himself to be the real survivor after Agatha and Sophie slowly integrate themselves into their respective halves of the school. He is your conventional villain, spiteful, jealous, overconfident, and vindictive. Rafal appears as an apparition made of blood flowing throughout the school and as Sophie falls further into the depths of her ambition to become a princess, he manipulates her to become his ultimate accomplice. But staying true to modern times, Sophie doesn’t need a handsome prince to save her and the entire school from being swallowed by Rafal’s influence. Agatha proves that she has more than enough love and care for her best friend and others to help save everyone.

The School for Good and Evil (2022) is a modern take on the whole fairytale motif. Although cliché and predictable, I find it entertaining for younger audiences, whether that be your child or adolescent teenager. For an older audience, it’s simple and fun background noise to your busy schedule.

My rating:

MARIAH's THOUGHTS on Barbie (2023)

Release Date:
July 21, 2023
Run Time:
1 hr 54 mins

Directed by:
Greta Gerwig

Production Co.:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Mattel Films, Heyday Films, LuckyChap Entertainment,

Distribution Co.:
Warner Bros. Pictures

Social Media:

Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Kate McKinnon, America Ferrer, Issa Rae, Alexandra Shipp, Simu Liu, Michael Cera, Will Farrell, Rhea Perlman, Helen Mirren

Plot Summary:
To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full-on existential crisis. Or you’re a Ken.

From Oscar-nominated writer/director Greta Gerwig (“Little Women,” “Lady Bird”) comes “Barbie,” starring Oscar-nominees Margot Robbie (“Bombshell,” “I, Tonya”) and Ryan Gosling (“La La Land,” “Half Nelson”) as Barbie and Ken, alongside America Ferrera (“End of Watch,” the “How to Train Your Dragon” films), Kate McKinnon (“Bombshell,” “Yesterday”), Michael Cera (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Juno”), Ariana Greenblatt (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “65”), Issa Rae (“The Photograph,” “Insecure”), Rhea Perlman (“I’ll See You in My Dreams,” “Matilda”), and Will Ferrell (the “Anchorman” films, “Talladega Nights”). The film also stars Ana Cruz Kayne (“Little Women”), Emma Mackey (“Emily,” “Sex Education”), Hari Nef (“Assassination Nation,” “Transparent”), Alexandra Shipp (the “X-Men” films), Kingsley Ben-Adir (“One Night in Miami,” “Peaky Blinders”), Simu Liu (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”), Ncuti Gatwa (“Sex Education”), Scott Evans (“Grace and Frankie”), Jamie Demetriou (“Cruella”), Connor Swindells (“Sex Education,” “Emma.”), Sharon Rooney (“Dumbo,” “Jerk”), Nicola Coughlan (“Bridgerton,” “Derry Girls”), Ritu Arya (“The Umbrella Academy”), Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Dua Lipa and Oscar-winner Helen Mirren (“The Queen”).

Gerwig directed “Barbie” from a screenplay by Gerwig & Oscar nominee Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story,” “The Squid and the Whale”), based on Barbie by Mattel. The film’s producers are Oscar nominee David Heyman (“Marriage Story,” “Gravity”), Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Robbie Brenner, with Michael Sharp, Josey McNamara, Ynon Kreiz, Courtenay Valenti, Toby Emmerich and Cate Adams serving as executive producers.

Gerwig’s creative team behind the camera included Oscar-nominated director of photography Rodrigo Prieto (“The Irishman,” “Silence,” “Brokeback Mountain”), six-time Oscar-nominated production designer Sarah Greenwood (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Anna Karenina”), editor Nick Houy (“Little Women,” “Lady Bird”), Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (“Little Women,” “Anna Karenina”), visual effects supervisor Glen Pratt (“Paddington 2,” “Beauty and the Beast”), music supervisor George Drakoulias (“White Noise,” “Marriage Story”) and Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat (“The Shape of Water,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents a Heyday Films Production, a LuckyChap Entertainment Production, a Mattel Production, “Barbie.” The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and released in theaters only nationwide on July 21, 2023 and beginning internationally on July 19, 2023.


*My Thoughts*

“This is the most over-the-top, whimsical, wacky piece of art that has touched what sliver of my soul I have left,” is the most accurate sentence I can come up with to describe Barbie (2023). The opening scene with narration and little girls playing with dolls in a desolate wasteland set the tone of the entire film. Little girls play with baby dolls in a dusty, desert scape until a giantess Barbie, played by Margot Robie, appears as a magnificent curiosity. For them, Barbie symbolizes freedom and imagination. They realize they don’t want to just play mother or housewife anymore. They want to be glamorous, confident, and career-driven women. As a babydoll is tossed into the air, the movie then transitions to Barbieland, where everything is perfect, pink, peaceful, and Barbie-centric. The different types of Barbies have their roles in society and it’s like a pretty utopia, and then there’s the Kens who coexist with the Barbie’s.

The conflict of Barbie (2023) rises when the main Barbie, stereotypical Barbie, starts manifesting thoughts outside of the norm for Barbieland, such as death and depression. Stereotypical Barbie’s world starts to spoil like milk and nothing goes right for her, like she’s in a constant state of bad luck. Fairly early in, I noticed the foreshadowing of how brilliant the movie would be from set the color scheme, environment, and the soundtrack. The bright pink and pastel outfits that Barbie normally wears start to change with her newfound conscientiousness, such as a blue business casual outfit to represent depression, muted colors, and greyscale to represent the journey to the real world where it seems colder and harsher. The soundtrack often transitions from upbeat pop music to melodious and melancholy. But let’s not forget the Kens.

The main Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, is clingy and desperate for stereotypical Barbie’s attention and approval because that’s how he started and that’s how he wanted to end. Ken follows Barbie into the real world and learns a different way of life. While he does bring more stereotypically masculine aspects back to Barbieland, monster trucks, beer, and faux fur coats, he also dismantles his homeland to become Ken’s mojo dojo casa. The major climax of Barbie: The Movie (2023) is an exaggerated fight scene and musical. To say the least, I was pleasantly confused but pleased. In the end, Barbieland incorporated the Barbies’ and Kens’ needs and desires.

Barbie (2023) plays heavily on gender stereotypes to lean into its comedy genre, and it works. After watching the movie, I understood why there was plenty of social media discourse. It hits many social issues and makes references to the history of Barbie. It is, indeed, a pink acid trip but it’s such an in-your-face masterful piece of art that you’d want to go back for more.

My rating:

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

BLOG TOUR: Disenchanted by Brianna Sugalski


Welcome to the Official Blog Tour for Southeast Asian Fantasy Author Brianna Sugalski's Disenchanted, book 1 in the A Lay of Ruinous Reign trilogy. Today, on our tour stop, we have an exclusive excerpt AND a tour-wide giveaway to share! So... Be sure to check it out and start the series NOW! Follow the tour, HERE.

New Adult/Adult
Paranormal Romance
Dark Fantasy
A Lay of Ruinous Reign, #1
Publish Date:
December 27, 2022
Fenfoss Tavern Publishing LLC
(2nd Edition)

Tangled meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this Breton folklore-inspired dark fantasy, brimming with wry humor, epic adventure, and an irresistible romance.

At the peak of the Breton Renaissance, Lilac Trécesson is held prisoner in her own castle after a most wicked secret is revealed on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. Years later, her Accession looms upon her father's decision to abdicate, and between town riots and the noble family bent on snatching her throne, she prepares for the worst… Until a letter arrives from The Witch of Lupine Grotto, detailing a curious offer to banish her curse forever.

Her heirloom dagger at the ready, Lilac embarks into Brocéliande and finds herself in the grasp of a bloodthirsty barkeep who demands her help in exchange for protection against the even deadlier forces of the woods.

She is thrust on a quest to uphold her family’s legacy—and her sovereign right to destroy it and start anew—by any means necessary. Pity the fool to underestimate the girl with subpar blade skills but the pure spite to make up for it.

This is the tale of a cursed princess,

A crestfallen killer,

The town that wants them to burn,

And the witch who can save them both.

***FREE on Kindle Unlimited***


They gasped and spun toward the voice that floated from the trees. Sinclair jumped and brandished his sword blindly in the air.

Smirking, the vampire emerged from the shadows. 

“But you knew that.” He winked at her, his mouth stained the color of cherries.

Lilac’s soul nearly left her body. 

He was dressed in the same black undershirt and quilted vest that both Enzo and Mathis had worn, over a pair of their uniform black trousers. One of their dark leather baldrics was laced across his chest. 

In one hand, he held the stone goblet that had been on the floor next to the utensils, and in the other, he clutched a limp arm—a severed arm, torn from its body at the shoulder by brute force. Humming pleasantly to himself, he tilted the appendage and squeezed it like a summer orange, causing the blood to drain. Each red droplet clung to the mottled flesh before dripping clean into the cup.

“I apologize for keeping the both of you waiting.” Garin spoke methodically, observing the scarlet liquid. He frowned when the blood seemed to stop flowing altogether, but instead of stopping there, he held a finger up for them to wait and placed the goblet down as he knelt next to it. The vampire then grabbed the bluish hand and flexed the forearm and bicep, pumping the last of it into the chalice. 

“Just trying to get every last bit. Some Daemons are on the brink of starvation, you know. It would be a shame for me to be wasteful.”

Lilac and Sinclair watched, petrified. Each hollow plink shattered the otherwise deafening silence.

When they didn’t answer, Garin clicked his tongue without looking back up at them. “Don’t pretend to be friendly now, you two. Come on.” He spoke coldly, yet his voice was warm. It felt intimate, made Lilac shudder, as if he’d dragged a blade along her naked form. “No more pretending, now that our truths are out in the open.”

She said nothing. 

“You don’t drink blood!” Sinclair finally raised his voice, his sword at the ready.

Smiling down through his lashes, Garin licked each of his fingers clean and used the tattered sleeve hanging off the arm in an attempt to wipe the blood off his face, only smearing it further, before carelessly tossing the limb into the fire. “It appears my reputation has preceded me.”

Nausea had replaced her hunger. It was true. All true. The final vestiges of her denial of what he was, that it was all some idiotic misunderstanding on Sinclair’s part, crumbled. The way Garin didn’t eat anything at the inn, the weight of his gaze upon her, as if he were sizing up a pie.

The way he’d tried to trap her.


**About the Author**
Brianna Sugalski is a Southeast Asian fantasy author with a soup addiction. Diverse medievalist and developmental editor who lives in oversized sweaters, and prefers to explore the more ominous—disenchanting, if you will—undertones of history, romance, and the arcane.

Brianna Sugalski's debut, Breton Arthuriana-inspired YA Dark Fantasy Disenchanted, released with the Parliament Press in March 2020, and was re-released and rebranded for the New Adult/Adult indie market in December 2022. The rest of the trilogy will follow this updated genre rating.

Stay connected with Brianna Sugalski


***The Giveaway***

Giveaway Open Internationally
- ends August 17, 2023
Note: Not Responsible for Lost & Damaged Prizes in Your Mail Box

Blog Tour Organized by

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

COVER REVEAL: Defying Evil by Abbie Roads

Today, we have a Cover Reveal for Bestselling Author Abbie RoadsDefying Evil, the first book in the Blood is Thicker Than... series! So... Be sure to check out that gorgeous cover and pre-order your copy NOW!

Dark Romantic Thriller
Blood is Thicker Than..., #1
Publish Date:
October 17, 2023
Abbie Roads

He’s the son of a serial killer.
She’s his father’s only surviving victim.
He’s obsessed with her.
She’s frightened of him.
Before it’s all over they’ll need each other to survive.

Cain Killion’s life has revolved around blood. From a childhood of torture by his father, to his gruesome ability to solve crimes. When a current case is directly connected to his past, there’s only one person with answers.

But she isn’t talking, and the bodies are stacking up. The only solution… Kidnap her.

Defying Evil is the first book in the Blood is Thicker Than... series of dark romantic thrillers. It features a man tortured by his past who never thought he was capable of love. If you devour edge of your seat thrillers and romance novels, you’ll love a series that combines both in a roller-coaster ride of mind games and tragic love.

Read this dangerously dark romance today!

Trigger warning: Depictions of violence.

Previously published until the title Saving Mercy.



**About the Author**
Abbie Roads is the best-selling author of the Fatal Dreams Series and the Fatal Truth Series. Her novels have been finalists in many prestigious contests including The Golden Heart, The Greater Detroit Booksellers Best, The Oklahoma National Readers’ Choice Award, The Write Touch, The Strut Your Stuff Contest, The Aspen Gold Contest, The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, The Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award, The Midnight Sun, The Kathryn Hayes Contest, The Chanticleer, The Daphne du Maurier, The National Readers’ Choice Award, The New England Readers’ Choice Contest, The Beverly Award, and The Maggie Award. Her debut novel Race the Darkness was Publishers Weekly Top 10 Pick for Fall and Never Let Me Fall is an Amazon Editor’s Pick.

By day Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor always focusing on the bright side. By night she writes on the dark side, putting her characters through the wringer before she gives them their happily-ever-after. She loves a good inspirational quote and is a fan of true crime.

Stay connected with Abbie Roads

Cover Reveal Organized by