Mary Sue Brigade – a review of Vigil by Angela Slater

It’s a new urban fantasy read – this time not following teens and children. Let’s see what the adults are up to, I said.

According to this book, really boring stuff. Adulthood is boring enough without cool creatures and magic, but this novel proved that even with all that it is pitiful.

Verity Fassbander, a half mortal half supernatural, is an investigator of crimes involving supernatural creatures. Two hit the streets of Brisbane that cause great intrigue – the illegal collection of children’s tears to be made into wine, and a series of siren murders. When things get personal and Verity’s own friends and associates get involved in these activities however, things get personal. Human lives are at stake just as much as the supernatural, and being one of few to walk between the worlds Verity has to solve this and prevent a conflict which may cause the world to end.

The worldbuilding was the most compelling part of this novel. It did take some turns generic to urban fantasy, but they were presented in unique ways. It takes place in the Australian city of Brisbane, in which supernatural creatures secretly intermingle with humans. They have gangs, black markets and even cute cafes. I really liked the magical realism side of things and following Verity through the novel having grown up in it. It was explained and built upon really well. The representation of creatures was very fun as well, my favourite being the original depiction of sirens existing in conjunction with the evil mermaid association that was Mandela Effected into our knowledge of sirens today.

The characters weren’t nearly done as well. Side characters that were on page for one chapter had more personality than the main characters. Every main character wreaked of Gary Stu and Mary Sue. More than one? Are you crazy? I’m wallowing in disappointment that this disease has spread across most of the cast in this book, especially when they don’t even have character arcs. I think the only situational change was that Verity got a boyfriend.

We once again have a plot solved by dialogue, talking and trying to know the right persons. Is this how all novels with a hint of mystery are solved? Regardless, it became a huge disappointment in a semi supernatural world that the investigation directly involved that maybe twice. And rarely at Verity’s hand. It just made me wish for more of a similar calibre rather than an investigation that could’ve happened without the demons and angels.

Basically the plot was about as supernatural as the time I dreamt about my cat catching a mouse and then it happened two mornings later.

Vigil gets a score of 2/5. Less talky talky, more monstery monstery.

Yours in writing


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I Finished Campaign 2 of Critical Role

It took 17 months but I finally did it! I was only 6 weeks late to the party, but I finished the second campaign of Critical Role!

I would say I’m hooked, but not to the point where I’m calling this my favourite D&D show of all time. It’s great, but not godlike. I have biases for D&D shows I started long before Critical Role. And it has its flaws.

Some of these are definitely biased flaws. Most of the D&D games I’ve experienced have been in a very certain direction, and I have yet to decipher what is good and sinful in terms of narrative in a D&D game. But I’m still here to give my Nein cents on it.

We’ll start off with a traditional rating. It’s a solid 4 out of 5. I’ve bought merch from it, so you know it’s good. I wouldn’t buy merch for something I wasn’t passionate about, just so you know.

Oh yeah, and spoilers ahead. Sorry catchup crew.


These characters are lush. I wouldn’t say any of them played a bad player character. None I hated, but I had my favourites. Nott/Veth especially. I’ve heard great things about his campaign one character Scanlan too, so I have high hopes as I watch it now. But I could see the appeal for all other characters even if I wasn’t a fan of them.

Matt was really clever at how character backstories were dealt with. This was mentioned in the campaign wrap up, but the way he planned to tie Molly’s backstory into the overarching plot was genius. And the tie ins with Nott and Beau’s backstory were equally amazing. I live for connections like these and how well Matt played each NPC tied to them. Yeza was a favourite NPC of mine just by how well Matt played such a character. And Lucien! Top notch acting from Matt right there!

I feel like this is a given, but Sam Riegel is a master of sponsorships. I’m literally studying influencer culture at uni right now, and applying the scholarly stuff to Critical Role’s ads is incredible stuff. I fell in love with Sam the moment I saw the D&D Beyond ballet.

Everyone is a genius at leaving hints to their backstory and foreshadowing. Seeing the way they handle characters makes me play my characters in the same way. And it also make me want to DM the same way. It is especially rewarding seeing it come up when watching highlight reels and seeing the true genius of what they had done there. I feel like I’m gonna analyse every word that comes out of their mouth now.


I’m not familiar with narrative tension, but there were way more filler-ly episodes after the Vokodo arc that made me lose my attention. More rest episodes than I would have liked. At times this didn’t make the stakes and situations quite feel real in the lead up to the climactic chapter. I’m not saying characters don’t deserve a break, but that felt like summer holidays if anything.

The whole campaign felt very episodic. When one main quest was over, there weren’t any proper tie ins to the next or an overall development with the situation. But I cannot tell if that was at the characters’ fault or not knowing what Matt had planned. While this made it feel realistic, it didn’t feel quite as captivating. This is a very personal and biased one considering every campaign I have played had an overarching goal to achieve by the end of it, but maybe this will just be something I will get used to. We shall see, I think campaign one is similar but I’m not sure.

Speaking of, a lot of it felt quite big. How on earth did the players and Matt keep track of so many NPCs? I definitely forgot tonnes that the characters fell in love with, aside from the iconic ones like Kiri and Pumat. This made a lot of conflicts of interest and plot point that I barely remember. – just going through the animated recaps I am still shocked at how much actually went down. I can’t help but feel in this aspect the worldbuilding was a bit too frontal.

Hopes for Campaign 3

Oh hello? A new section? Yep. I’ve had too many ideas buzzing around what I hope and want with campaign three which I would like to shout into the void.

Let’s start off with characters. Some I have really specific ideas for, others not so much. But what I know I want most of all is for Ashley Johnson to play a bard. Seeing her sneaky quips while playing Yasha, I totally saw chaotic neutral bard energy lying in there. I’m also hoping for Laura as a warlock, Marisha as a paladin or blood hunter and Liam as a warforged (now they’re canon in Exandria!). I don’t have class specifics for the others so much; just Sam still being Sam, Travis playing a chaotic character and Talisen playing something edgy. But I’m gonna be really disappointed if Ashley’s character isn’t of at least a high charisma. I know she has it in her! Oh, and I’m hoping to see some TCoE subclasses in this game!

In terms of all else, I think there was a continent made up of nothing but islands in Exandria? I’d love to have a campaign like that maybe with some links to Polynesian and Micronesian cultures. But I’m also a sucker for the hells, so I’m hoping to see some of that. I’d be happy with anything, but I have my biases. Basically, anything that will make the characters shine! And I hope they fight a Succubus coz I love that monster.

So yeah, those are my thoughts. I hope I can catch an episode of campaign three live, I’m looking forward to giving my same thoughts on campaign one, and is it Thursday (Friday in NZ) yet?

Yours in writng


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The 5 Worst Things I’ve Seen in Books

So I’ve read a lot. Maybe not as much as other people, but at least this year so far I’ve read one book every three weeks on average. I’m expecting to read three more books this year than I’ve set for my reading goals!

That being said, there is good, bad and ugly in books. Today we’re covering the ugly. The worst things I’ve read in books ever. Ones that turned 4 star reads to 1 or 2 star reads. And I’ve got five of them.

The Pointless Journey

We all know about the Macguffin quest. The quest to obtain a certain object that will grant the wielder a valuable power in completing their goals. Most of the plot of the book revolves around finding this item, and by the time they get it we have the climax.

But what if there was no object?

I read a book in which the plotline was about winding up in a magical realm while in their home realm a war occurred which the main characters had to return to to stop. It would’ve been fine if it developed into a Macguffin quest, in which their hardships earned them an item in the magical world key to stopping the war, but they got nothing out of it. Basically my time was thoroughly wasted.

More so, the novel got 4 stars on Goodreads when I only gave it one star. How the hell did people still like such a pointless journey?

The One-Chapter climax

A novel is typically made or broken during its climax. This is where everything comes together in a long, heartfelt quest or battle to right the wrongs and conquer all there is to conquer. It’s edge-of-your-seat territory.

I read a book where the climax was over in one chapter about ten pages long. Hardly a twentieth of the novel.

I was really disappointed by this because I loved the book so much! It didn’t quite make the victory feel earned as barely any struggle could be made in such a short amount of time and page numbers! A climax should make you question things and doubt things.

All I asked was “surely there’s more to this…”

Hero Monologue

If you don’t know what is wrong with the villain monologue trope, allow me to explain.

You meet the Big Bad Evil Guy, right? His threatening presence is only shown by how much he talks. It’s so frightening and powerful that when it comes to actually fighting him, it becomes an easy defeat.

Now let’s subvert that trope and have the heroes do it to the all powerful, genuinely threatening villain.

Spoiler alert: it’s a bad case of subversion. It almost felt comedic when the literal heroes of this one book defeated the villain by talking to him. I think some under nine-year-old targeted kids movie called saying they want their defining trope back.

Communication is hardly a struggle in a fantasy setting and fight. At least save a monologue for after the villain has been defeated and they are truly at their lowest point, for the love of all things holy!

The Backstory Chapter

Chapter two of a book that I was reading literally had this happen in it; a woman sends off her animal companions to track someone. No, I’m serious. That was it.

Because the rest of the chapter was devoted to explaining how these companions meant so much to her, the meaning of her piercings and tattoos on her body and the way her house looked. It was a chapter 95% full of irrelevant backstory and 5% plot progression.

The number one rule of writing a novel is that a significant progression in the story must be made every chapter. And chapters like these made up half of the actual chapters I read before I erased the title and author of that book from my memory.

And somehow that isn’t the biggest book sin I’ve seen.


I’ve seen this happen in to books I’ve read. Not one, but two! One I DNF’ed, the other I gave a two star rating to.

If all I can say about your main character to describe them is their looks and hobbies they undertake, ya done goofed. I know more people without hobbies yet with a vibrant personality than I do people with hobbies and no personality. Hint: I know zero people like the latter.

What peeves me even more is that this is always done to female main characters. I’ve seen both male and female authors do this to their characters too. Why is the only gender bias towards the gender being written?

And look, I know the Everyman trope exists – a person with a personality that is easy to relate to – but even they can be described by adjectives instead of hobbies.

So please don’t make these mistakes too guys.

Yours in writing


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Journal – I just watched Avatar for the first time

I had a sheltered childhood by circumstance.

So my closest friends made it their mission to take me through all three seasons, or books I guess, in their bid to witness what they had in its true form.

Was it all they had claimed it to be?


This isn’t one of my formal reviews so I’ll just say it now, I think it was a solid 3 out of 5. I’ll be honest, with how much my friends gushed about it I was expecting a 4. Maybe they think of it higher because they grew up with it or something?

But my ranking isn’t just because I didn’t grow up with it and in its initial form it wasn’t my taste. Yes there were some incredible highs, but it was countered by some baffling lows. So baffling it was bizarre that people still regarded it as the best animated series of all time.

I feel I’m gonna get hate for saying this, but I don’t care that I disagree. I’m a critical mind. I’m gonna critique Avatar. Here we go lads.


The worldbuilding was very fluid and strong. I don’t recall when anything was made contradictory, for one thing. You could distinctly find that the kingdoms were different but the same in such a small world. Even the various Earth settlements had different character, and there was a lot.

It showed cultural appreciation, not cultural appropriation. I was immediately concerned about this being based off of Chinese cultures, but it rooted itself in similar spiritual and customary beliefs for it to feel like its own culture while still appreciative of its roots.

Zuko. And Iroh. Their stories and arcs were incredibly fulfilling. I almost cried on several occasions. This was also surprising considering upon first seeing Iroh I didn’t like him and now he’s one of my favourites. I heard a lot about Zuko’s redemption arc being one of the best ever written, and he didn’t disappoint.

Book 2 was incredibly well written. That was absolutely the volume I was most engaged in and the one that featured my favourite episodes. The narratives imposed there were very clear, flowed expertly, and I can agree that there is no war in Ba Sing Se.


They didn’t know how to write villains, sans Azula. Azula was the only main villain with any sense of character, motivations and true threat. The Book One and Three villains were each so pathetic I don’t even remember their names, and one of them is the main villain of the series.

Their female lead characters were poorly written, sans Azula and Toph. They were either inconsistent or without personality, which is a shame when some of them were to powerful. Suki was a big red flag, for instance. She had no personality aside from being a noble fighter and loving Sokka. She was basically fridged in the third book too.

There were too many characters to keep track of. I especially found this an issue when there was a big reunion of characters in book three. My friends chorused over each of them and I kept asking who they were or trying to remember where they came from. They clearly didn’t leave an impact on me. Also, I’m sad that those secret tunnel nomads weren’t among them.

A tonne of episodes were filler, but my friends claimed them not. About a third of all episodes hardly progressed the main narrative. This was especially a bad thing in book three, where in the episode before the climax they go off to see a play that makes fun of the rest of the series. What good does that do to the plot? I don’t care about this – just go attack the fire nation already!

The narrative was solved with a deux ex machina. This is the biggest sin of them all. You don’t just give the character a superpower in the climax that was never explained or built up prior which also contradicts the lessons being taught to Aang. His character arc felt incomplete as a result.

So there’s my short take on the series. Zuko and Iroh are precious, Toph is an icon and there is no war in Ba Sing Se.

Yours in writing


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Finding and using Inspiration

People claim that inspiration gets them going when writing and that they cannot create when their brain isn’t buzzing.

So how does that buzz come about?

Many people have their stimulants for inspiration, so to speak, and they can come in a variety of forms. But the difficulty can be finding out how to take those stimulants of inspiration and be productive with them. It’s good to have them, but better to put inspiration to use than to go down a rabbit hole.

So I’ve got some tips for your inspiration to take action, whether in music, picture or film form.

Passively Collect

This is the biggest part where people get it wrong. This is the white rabbit you follow down the rabbit hole. Might I suggest taking photos of the rabbit instead?

You don’t need to go out to find inspiration like you’re researching your final thesis. If I were to compare passive collecting to anything, it’d be like checking your social medias. Minus the addiction.

If you happen to pass by inspiration, then add it to your collection of inspiration. Take the channels that you already collect things you like from and find it from what you already know. For if you search actively for inspiration it becomes hollow. Find and consume media and aesthetics for your own personal pleasure only. And then your inspiration piles can follow.

Make it present

Inspiration was never made to collect dust in boxes at the back of your wardrobe.

But how’s an easy way to keep it present? Take it wisely, like prescriptions. Avoid indulging in your inspiration and make it a backdrop for your life as a way to remind you of what you’re working on and why. You could make your desktop background your aesthetic pictures from pinterest, regularly listen to your music playlists on commutes or read books in similar genres.

Basically think about how you take in the things you love when it’s not for writing inspiration. You need to do that just the same.

Pre-writing routines

This can be helpful for those writers who struggle to dive right into their manuscript. A naturally forced inspiration, if you will.

Many writers have a ritual or routine they undergo before they start writing, and this is often using a stimulant to get them inspired once again. Reading a chapter of a book before they started writing, listening to their playlists to get pumped, whipping out their Pinterest board for their assignment… everyone has their strategies.

But remember your priority is to start your writing from it. If you have a habit of slipping into rabbit holes, set aside a timer. You shouldn’t spend any more than 10 minutes getting inspired for a 1 hour writing session. Or longer. Do not take that as a ratio.

Don’t Rely on it

We gotta get real now.

Inspiration is your crutch, but only for when you are creatively injured and if you absolutely need it. Some writers rely on it too much that without it they’ve hit a wall. Do not keep pushing.

If your normal stimulants for inspiration fail you, do not keep consuming them. It won’t be the problem. There is more to not being able to write than just a lack of inspiration. Something may genuinely be wrong with your story, you may be burnt out or have other external factors get in the way. Analyse what may be wrong instead.

Because inspiration is valuable, but not worth its weight in gold. It has no mass.

Yours in writing



Journal – Getting Back Into Writing

With book one of the Aster’s Coda series being officially out, I already couldn’t just sit back and relax. Book two is on the horizon now.

And it was a draft that I hadn’t touched in roughly three months. It’s amazing how much a book release can stray you from your work, among other things. It wasn’t until the week of release, when I finally scheduled all my work, that I finally was able to get back into creative writing again.

I had been more on and off with writing book two than I expected. I started writing it when I sent book one off to beta readers late last year, into the new year and then half-abandoned it during the crunch time of release month. My priority then was the release blitz and creating content for Exposure’s release.

It is odd, to say the least, knowing that I wrote my first draft in High School while classes turned to monotonous lectures of the same old things. And I had time in between assignments and without a writing platform to maintain. This time feels all the more foreign. I’m balancing my author platform, part time job and uni assignments while trying to find and prepare myself for a full time job.

Needless to say, this draft won’t get finished for at least a year.

I know I will have to seize any tiny amount of time to work on this novel and set aside those little moments to do so. The ten minutes or half hour I wait for my dinner to cook. The fifteen minutes after I get ready to go out too early. An hour after I shower. I peak creatively after showers.

And I’ve started to do that when I can. Unfortunately, my next scene to write is a fight scene. I need an hour at a minimum to work on that. I’ve started, but stopped short at the beeping of the oven timer.

That being said, I have missed creating entire scenes again. Even if the contribution was small, it was sensational adding a page to the draft. And I don’t care how bad it is, in the moment it is thrilling. I had a stroke of genius creating a point of tension in said fight scene which adds so much more the characters and their relationship. It’s amazing what small yet crucial changes can come up when you actually write the story out.

So Aster’s Coda: Semblance looks promising. At least more promising than the version I wrote in early high school.

Yours in writing


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My Debut Novel is Out – What next?

You thought this was over? Aster’s Coda: Exposure is just the first book in a five part series. And that’s just ONE of the story ideas I want to write.

As heartwarming and rewarding as it was to publish a novel and set my author career off, I am ambitious and want to eventually turn my storytelling into a full time gig. And we know that doesn’t happen overnight.

So here I am, ready to say what is in the works of a little indie author at the bottom of the world. Holy shit, I can call myself an author now!

Aster’s Coda: Semblance

Of course we have a book 2 in the works! Aster’s Coda: Semblance sees Abby Tacker embracing her Aster identity and trying to work out what it means as conflict rises against the Merus Imperium.

This is currently in the drafting stage, and I’m up to chapter 10 of the first draft of this. I’m already excited for you guys to meet the new characters in book including Dina, Lily, Tyrell and Fray!

And of course we have some amazing fights and conflicts, I’ve already written two gripping fight scenes!


Last year I decided to commemorate a year of playing D&D and my quickly discovered passion for the game with a month long celebration, and I’m gonna be expanding it across my platforms! More than just YouTube and Instagram.

Among this I’m planning to release some homebrew content based on the magic systems in the Aster’s Coda series, worldbuilding tips and more!

The Rose Bulletin

I’ve been working on creating a newsletter, and it will soon be ready to go live! This will be a monthly newsletter featuring updates on my media, insider information on Aster’s Coda, life updates and more!

Let me know what else you’d want to see in this email newsletter and keep your eyes peeled!

Writer’s Block 2.0

My blog is getting a revamp! We now have more than just book reviews and book updates coming up on this blog – there will be posts every Friday! Whether I’m talking about what I last watched, some writing advice or providing writerly updates, expect a post about it on Friday!

I’m so excited for you to be joining me on this ride, thanks so much for sticking around! And keep watching for big things coming up in the next year.

Yours in writing



Poor Unfortunate Souls – A review of Bane and Shadow by Jon Skovron

This book was published before its predecessor, Hope and Red, was reviewed on my blog. And somehow, many of the fixes were already implemented.

Spoiler alert: the sequel is better!

Hope and Red have split apart again in their missions to rid the Empire of Storms from the selfish wrath of the biomancers. Hope takes to the seas as the captain Dire Bane, aiming to build her forces strong enough to take out the biomancers once and for all. Meanwhile Red joins the nobility of Stonepeak, a disguise so the biomancers can keep their new experiment in check. This leaves Red plenty of time to plot against them. Both face challenges as they learn of the new plots the biomancers are pulling; a “shadow demon” assassin killing seeming innocents, girls being ripped from their families and herded to abandoned islands, the arrival of foreigners deemed threats to the empire. All while Hope and Red still seek freedom and justice they’ve yearned for in their year apart.

My initial complaints regard the first book in the series was that the fight scenes had next to no detail in them. I’m glad that Skovron found a way to solve this with plenty more ways to create action and stakes. High sea ship vs ship fights, political tension, mental tension. There was a lot of variety of points of conflict present in this book that always kept me on the edge of my seat. I honestly didn’t think I’d be engaged by maritime warfare, but I genuinely found those parts of the book among my favourites!

I also loved seeing the depth of the characters Hope and Red now they had matured and separated. Maybe it was how their character arcs this round felt realer than the first time, especially Hope. Her character on her own didn’t sit with me in book one as she did in book two. She felt far more engaging this time! And of course I still fall for Red’s charm. But I loved seeing such dark situations either faced and how their brains ticked in their respective places.

The secondary characters were thoroughly entertaining in this novel too. Even some characters that appeared for no more than two chapters had so much going on with them it was hard to not forget them! They were so distinct from each other, reminiscent of NPCs in a tabletop RPG campaign. My only complaint is that there weren’t any villains of the like – the biomancers felt like copy-paste boys in white robes. But all the good guys and neutral parties were incredibly distinct and zany that I can’t pick a favourite!

And now comes the main downpoint. Similar to how fight scenes were treated in the previous books, there were some emotionally harrowing scenes and moments that weren’t given enough time. They barely left an impact on me because they barely had enough pages to let it sink in. I wanted that dread to sink in! But the plot had to move forwards sadly. And there were some big whammies facing it too – character deaths! One reaction to a character’s death barely lasted a page! I wasn’t even sure if they were truly dead! The strong emotional realisations that some characters had just felt like an afterthought in some cases as well.

To finish off, after reading book one I was honestly very unsure if I would read the rest of the series or not. But now I’m very glad I did. Bring on Blood and Tempest!

Bane and Shadow gets a score of 4/5. Real characters and real engagement, a fantastic step up from Book One.

Yours in writing


Cover Reveal

I’m Gonna Be An Author

I’m breaking up your regular schedule with a very exciting announcement – MY BOOK IS COMING OUT THIS JULY!

Aster’s Coda: Exposure is the first book in a five-part YA/NA contemporary fantasy series that’s been in the works since 2013. 8 years in the making! Back then I didn’t even think I could be published, but here I am!

You can learn more about my book baby in this video on my YouTube channel, where most of the updates will be released. I’ll also be adding more updates to my Instagram and a couple on my blog too, alternating with reviews.

Also, my cover reveal and book trailer will be released at the end of the month! May 28th/29th (depending on timezones). All info is in the graphics.

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/amywriterrose/

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1SDMLIdpDWNeH5Z01hShbA

Yours in writing



Poohrple Prose – A Review of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

Disney wasn’t my go to animation studio growing up. However, Winnie the Pooh was always a joy to watch, even today as an adult. There was so much whimsy and wholesomeness portrayed in the characters that made them very hard to dislike.

Until now.

We follow Winnie the Pooh and his friends in several short stories of their antics, from overeating and getting stuck in a front door, to tracking down Woozles and interacting with new neighbours. These include some come to life from various Disney movies as well as some ones I was not familiar with.

I’m usually all for unique styles of narration, which is evident in many of my favourite books and series. Percy Jackson, The Book Thief, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time… but while it was a nice narration style at the start, it quickly became convoluted to read. Milne was very fond of songs and poems interrupting his work, and would often make up a paragraph with one incredibly long sentence filled with purple prose. It was supposed to add character, but it just added confusion to me. And a narrative within each short story that was far from concise. It makes me wonder how a child would wrap their head around stories like that being read to them when I had trouble as an almost fully grown adult.

The characters saved the story for me. Seeing the way that these characters were written and their adorable little quirks was incredible, especially seeing how in depth some of the characters go from a single quirk. One favourite for me was Owl portraying himself as a smart person but being ashamed when he knew nothing. It was downright adorable. Rabbit was a favourite too, far more likeable and sweet than how Disney portrayed him. I wonder why they decided to make him so bratty when Pooh was far more bratty and sassy to Rabbit in the actual book.

However, some of these characters were incredibly problematic. For instance, Eeyore. Hate to go and compare books to movies, but Eeyore in Disney’s various adaptations was sad, loveable, and in need of some cuddles. I wanted to punch Eeyore in the books sometimes. A lot of the time it felt like he was using his depression just to get attention, especially with his choice of words. And Winnie the Pooh himself had similar problems too! He was self centred and at times sassy.

This could just be culture shock as I transfer from the cinematic portrayal of the bear with very little brain.

The language was absolutely better in the form of a bedtime story. Just silently reading this on the bus is NOT the ideal way to read this story. Maybe reading this to a kid, things would be a bit more amusing.

Winnie the Pooh gets a score of 3/5. I’m pretty sure I read this the wrong way; not aloud.

Yours in writing