Book Review: Bay of Sighs (Nora Roberts)

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Book #2 in The Guardians trilogy

Plot:

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The second novel in the Guardians Trilogy from the bestselling author of Stars of Fortune.

Mermaid Annika is from the sea, and it is there she must return after her quest to find the stars. New to this world, her purity and beauty are nothing less than breathtaking, along with her graceful athleticism, as her five new friends discovered when they retrieved the fire star.

Now, through space and time, traveler Sawyer King has brought the guardians to the island of Capri, where the water star is hidden. And as he watches Annika in her element, he finds himself drawn to her joyful spirit. But Sawyer knows that if he allows her into his heart, no compass could ever guide him back to solid ground…

And in the darkness, their enemy broods. She lost one star to the guardians, but there is still time for blood to be spilled—the mermaid’s in the water and the traveler’s on the land. For she has forged a dangerous new weapon. Something deadly and unpredictable. Something human.

Rating: 8/10

I wasn’t too excited for this part of the trilogy. Since she came in to the first novel, I thought Annika was a bit not all right in the head. I also couldn’t relate to her. I could relate to Sasha with all her stress levels and Riley as the brash academic, but this bubbly, sweet 2and excited mermaid just didn’t exhibit any signs of who I identify as.
I still don’t think she would have worked well as a standalone novel (whereas Sasha and Riley were both developed well enough to succeed at that) . Annika won’t be my favorite character of Nora Roberts anytime soon, but she managed to not irritate as much as I thought.

I still maintain that this is some of the freshest ideas Roberts has produced in ages. I enjoyed this book very much, maybe a bit less than the first, but really still very much. I liked Sawyer’s character; he seems like an affable adventurer, something which is always a plus in my book. His banter with Riley amused me to no end as it is a wealth of popular culture references.

Bay of Sighs also had some shocking moments – I mean, when in the history of ever has a Roberts character been captured and tortured? I was horrified and feared for both their safety. Malmon turns into something disgusting, his inner character shining finally showing on the outside. It was decidedly creepy and I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of Nerezza, ever. Or even on her right side, now that I think of it.

Bay of Sighs progressed with the same easy rhythm as Stars of Fortune. Naturally we end up with idealistic relationship expectations everywhere and dashing scenes of courage and bravery. You guessed it, they find the second star and that makes their nemesis pissed. I also like how they hide the stars from Nerezza, it is ingenuity combined with powers from two characters.

Definitely worth a read if you read the first book/are a Roberts fan or like some fantasy mixed with your romance.

Blindspot 2017: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

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Plot: Danny Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

Rating: 8.5/10

Brad Pitt and Matt Damon really is everywhere on my Blindspot list this year. I’m back with Brad Pitt today and looking at the 2001 heist film that proves just how cool Brad Pitt and George Clooney it.

If you are a clever deducer (I know that is not a word), you realized by the rating that I liked this. A good heist film remains a good heist film, and a fast paced, no-nonsense one provides for good entertainment. I thought the heist was brilliantly planned. The film is intelligent and quirky and doesn’t take time to tell its’ story.

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The core actors certainly contribute towards the camaraderie Oceans provides in spades. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac – really everyone on screen was great to behold. There is a chemistry in the group that comes across as authentic. I especially liked George Clooney and Brad Pitt together. Both men were able to look and sound like old friends who were up to no good.

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My favourite girl crush Julia Roberts was on screen again. She’s so talented and drop dead gorgeous and she’s so classy on screen. It takes a lot of an actress to be cold and angry and charming at the same time.

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I really liked that this film didn’t take ages to get through and sort itself out – I hate a long drawn out affair as you all know. The plan was laid out, the men were recruited and informed and things went down. Can’t all films just go like that??

Have you seen Ocean’s Eleven? What did you think? I see the next film in the franchise is an all women cast – a relatively popular decision nowadays. What you all think about that?

Movie Review: The Wedding Singer (1998)

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Plot: Robbie, a singer, and Julia, a waitress, are both engaged, but to the wrong people. Fortune intervenes to help them discover each other.

Rating: 7.5/10

I’ve often heard that the earlier work of my arch nemesis Adam Sandler isn’t that bad. I cautiously ventured into this; sure I would end up disliking it either equally or more than his other shitty movies. Other than a horribly outdated impression of a transvestite character which would not have gone off well today, this film was actually really okay and not irritating. There were no butt jokes I could find and the humor was really general and not as below the pants as the current work of Sandler.

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Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler share a large number of films they’ve costarred in, and they seem to have a decent chemistry between them. She’s adorably young and naïve as Julia, whose biggest predicament in life is the inevitability that she would be named Mrs. Julia Gulia. I don’t know about you, but that would put me in a flat spin. Her fiancé is so prick-like you have to wonder how they even met in the first place.

Adam Sandler’s character is a bit of a lost case, a clearly talented singer who makes his money performing at weddings. He’s remarkably proficient in his job, managing to prevent wedding fights and turn the tables around on bad, drunken speeches by best man Steve Buscemi – honestly, it was good enough to watch just for Buscemi’s appearance.

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The whole theme behind this film is these two characters who both clearly just want to get married. The notion is quite antiquated and I was a bit horrified with the outdated notions that were waltzing around for the majority of the film. I’m not going to be overly offended here – I was eight when this film dropped and we’ve (hopefully) come a long way in changing the world’s perception that women must marry or be regarded as failures.

I also have to mention the glorious 90’s fashion sense that is celebrated in here. Adam Sandler’s mullet is spectacular, the exercise clothes of Holly and the overall dress sense of the characters were godawful and wildly amazing to see. No one had a clue in the 90’s, hey?

The Wedding Singer is ultimately a worthy film of popularity. It is sweet, fun, sincere and happens all in one hour and forty minutes, which is as much as you can ask from Sandler.

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#outfitAndHairGoals

Book Review: Stars of Fortune (Nora Roberts)

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The Guardians Trilogy #1

Plot: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a trilogy about three couples who join together to create their own family and solve an ancient mystery through the powers of timeless love…
 
Sasha Riggs is a reclusive artist, haunted by dreams and nightmares that she turns into extraordinary paintings. Her visions lead her to the Greek island of Corfu, where five others have been lured to seek the legendary fire star, part of an ancient prophecy. Sasha recognizes them, because she has drawn them: a magician, an archaeologist, a wanderer, a fighter, a loner. All on a quest. All with secrets.

Sasha is the one who holds them together—the seer. And in the magician, Bran Killian, she sees a man of immense power and compassion. As Sasha struggles with her rare ability, Bran is there to support her, challenge her, and believe in her.

When a dark threat looms, the six must use their combined powers—including trust, unity, and love—to find the fire star and keep the world on course.

Rating: 7.5/10

For all my love of Nora Roberts her books generally follow the same route. She’s a good writer who thoroughly researches everything she writes about, but I’ve never really stumbled across a book of hers that felt like fresh air until Stars of Fortune. I avoided this series mainly because I so strongly disliked The Dark Witch series. I was sure that another venture into magic was a poor choice for Roberts. You know, because I speak with the authority of a gazillion New York Times bestselling author.

Hidden Treasures is the first of three books which covers the adventures of six people who are essentially strangers in the beginning. Each has a secret, and everyone is unwilling to share. Sasha is an artist who has flashes of the future. Her Seer qualities have led her to lead a reclusive life, and you can’t really blame all the boys for staying away from her as she can read emotions. She’s been having troubling dreams where she sees evil and alternatively a really hot man being her boooyffrrriieeend, and ends up deciding to go to Corfu because literary characters have a lot of money and also because of possibility of hot boyfriend (don’t blame her). She immediately meets Riley and Bran. Riley is a girl, as the name can be a bit confusing, and Bran is the loverboy she’s been dreaming about. They are both in the game of hiding shit from their new friend, and that promises later drama. The three decide to rent a place together to search for the three stars that was hidden centuries ago, because that is totally safe and believable. The three are soon joined by another three, which tidily brings it up to three boys and three girls each. Convenient AF, am I right?

So I’ll stop amusing myself and actually review now. I liked the book. It is original for Roberts although it still has some of her traditional plot devices in. She really spent some time developing each of the secret supernatural abilities each of the character possesses. The book is well structured and doesn’t lag. It was good enough that I’m now progressing to the second book, although I must admit of the three inevitable love stories that of Sawyer and Annika interests me in the least.

As for the two leading characters in Stars of Fortune, Sasha is continuously a wet blanket with a poor me attitude and a certainty that she’s beleaguered and weak and everyone hates her. Bran is a lot more fun and for reasons not clearly understood immediately attracted to Sasha. He’s pretty cool, he’s a sorcerer, and seems the most formidable of the team up to this point. Their fights with Nerezza is increasingly testing on the team, and their trust grows in each other as all secrets are revealed in due course. I’m rooting for all our characters, since Nora has never really killed anyone off, but still I will work through the series and sees what happen.

This series is a bit of a trick with recommendations – it certainly contains new mystique and an interesting supernatural element, but it is still Nora Roberts at the end of the day, so if you aren’t a fan of her usual work I’m not sure if you’d even enjoy this. But I sure did!

#100HappyDays ROUND 2: Days 31-40

So it is Monday again, and I thought I’d post this specifically as a reminder about happy things, not Monday things. However, I am almost going on leave and seeing my bestie, so today is pretty great!

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Day 31: I went for a walk in the nature reserve close to where I live. It is really beautiful there, and it was really relaxing walking in the green after a long day at work.

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Day 32: The crochet-bug has been around significantly more frequent now that it is a slight bit cooler. I am trying heroically to finish this granny square blanket that I started over a year ago. Wish me luck!

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Day 33: I sat down with my mom and sister and watched another old-school film I haven’t yet seen. Andy McDowell has NO clue how acting works, but I did like Hugh Grant. He was so handsome as a younger man.

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Day 34: I went back to the same nature reserve for another walk. glorious!

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Day 35: Some wine before Power Rangers. Did it make the movie better? Not sure, but might have contributed.

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Day 36: I do love this Avon French Manicure nail polish. It always comes out looking so pretty!

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Day 37: I love these pretty rings I bought!

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Day 38: I bought this USN shake after I finished my Nutritech shake. Further investigation reveals that this is actually just a bit too sweet for me. Anyway, at the price it goes for I will definitely finish it. Maybe it grows on me!

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Day 39: At this stage in my life I have no issue admitting I love buying shoes. It is my own money, so I couldn’t give a damn about opinions anymore. Anyhow, here is my tan heels I purchased recently. #love

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Day 40: Attended a babyshower. Let’s be real – most women face these only because you like the mom-to-be and not because of any actual potential fun. I have to say, this one turned out great. I am happy I went!

What have you been up to lately? Let me know!

Movie Review: My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

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Plot: When a woman’s long-time friend reveals he’s engaged, she realizes she loves him herself and sets out to get him, with only days before the wedding.

Rating: 6/10

I was so looking forward to this. Julia Roberts in her heyday? I am so onboard watching her films, any of her work really, but especially anything done that time period. The film also stars a really young and hunky Dermot Mulroney (SURPRISE) and an equally young and fresh faced Cameron Diaz. But here is what I can tell you about this film:

Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) is an annoying character who is having a tantrum about the fact that she’s been friendzoning an amazing man for years and now that he’s moved on she wants him back. She’s also clearly evil and doesn’t mind hurting a perfectly nice and innocent young woman just because her title as the perfect girl is being attacked. Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz) is Julianne’s nemesis in here purely because she dared to date a clearly single and unattached man.

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I can tell you that the message of this film was clear – MOVE ON AND DON’T POACH. Seriously – Kimmy was so perfect it hurt teeth to look at her, but she was a good person who loved her fiancé. Julianne, who incidentally is the “heroine” of this film, is notoriously horrible to men and obsessed with herself. I just didn’t appreciate the fact that the heroine was horrible and that the story didn’t have the traditionally happy ending we demand from romantic comedies – If I want moral lessons or unhappy endings I would rather check out another genre, thanks so much.

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Can I just also ask what is going on in this film regarding that pesky thing women’s rights? Kimberly is nearly a decade younger (or maybe more) than her fiance, and she’s dropping out of school as a promising student to be with him? She clearly states that she would love to start her career. The power of this movie could have been much more if Julianne Porter spoke up and advised the girl that you could both have a career and still be a functioning female with a successful marriage? And that little scene where Michael strips himself and starts screaming at her in the restaurant because she dare voice worries about the job he loves that doesn’t pay so well? Uhm, not a foot to stand on my friend – you are taking her career from her. Okay, little rant over.

I’m rating this 6/10 because I’m petty and angry about the ending. The rest of the film is probably okay if you are fine dealing with the root-canal version of a heroine. As a last comment I can say that Dermot Mulroney was pretty damn hunky in his youth and suits my idea of the ultimate 90’s man as well despite the fact that he’s named Dermot. I’ll leave you with that, folks. Let me know what you thought about this in the comments!

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Watched, Read, loved: March 2017

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Here is my monthly rundown of what I was up to the previous month. Right now it is still pretty much only addressing entertainment, but I hope to add some more life things into it soon too. Please feel free to comment below if you’ve seen any of these, or just to say hi!

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Southpaw (2015) – I love a good sport movie. Even though they are all pretty much the same story, I’m always caught up. It was no less with Southpaw, and even though Jake Gyllenhaal irrationally annoyed the shit out of me, I really enjoyed this one.

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Letters to Juliet (2010) – Amanda Seyfried delivers another charming performance. Objectively I know this isn’t a strong film, but it is so feel good I actually couldn’t care less about ratings. It is foolishly optimistic and cheerful, and a great film to watch if you are feeling down.

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The Wedding Singer (1998) – The 90’s atmosphere, combined with a surprisingly affable Adam Sandler and an adorable Drew Barrymore, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Definitely one of the best Adam Sandler films I’ve ever seen.

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My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) – I HATED the ending and I really disliked the main character. What a stupid movie.

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Enchanted (2007): This spectacular Disney production made me so happy when I watched it again. It is on a grand scale and very elaborate and so lovely to look at.

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Underworld (2003), Evolution (2006), Rise of the Lycans (2009), and Awakening (2012)

After years of ignorance I am finally familiarizing myself with this franchise. I had a great time with all these movies. Seline is such a strong female character and saves herself and her love more than once, and the feminist in me was cheering all the way.

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Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Continuing on this journey to watch more romantic films that are seen as classics, I got to see this. It was… okay. Hugh Grant really was quite the adorable English actor in his prime, and it is easy for him to be quietly charming. Andie McDowell also had no clue how to act. I’m not sure if she’s ever had a clue in that regard, but it really is prominent here.

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The Lucky One (2012)

The Lucky One  is not by any means the worst Nicholas Sparks film – Best of Me still holds that title – but what is most notable is the awful acting. Taylor Schilling and Zac Efron just don’t gel together. I’m forced to ask whether Zac Efron actually has a brain – there is nothing shining behind those pretty blue eyes. Sure, he’s cute and ripped, but his attempt at a tortured marine invoked less sympathy than concern about synapses firing at an appropriate rate. Schilling, yeah, also pretty bad. They also have zero chemistry and the scenes looked stage and neither actor really wanted their hands on each other. Okay, I’m done. But sheesh.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island is what it was supposed to be: a nice action packed adventure with a handsome cast and a big gorilla. Ticked all the boxes for me, excellent popcorn entertainment.

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Power Rangers (2017)

I had not planned going to cinema for this. I would have preferred John Wick, but I was sorely outvoted by a bunch of 30 year old men who wanted to watch Power Rangers. There is something to be said for nostalgia. I ended up having a decent enough time – I  was unaware up until this point that Power Rangers could be made into something that resembles a non-cheesy film. I’m still shocked.

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The Guardians Trilogy by Nora Roberts: Stars of Fortune, Bay of Sighs and Island of Glass

I read these three books in the span of two weeks and I don’t regret one second of it. It is the most fun I’ve had in ages with Nora Roberts’ fantasy work.

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Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (JK Rowling)

The penultimate book in the best series to have ever been written is overshadowed in intensity only by the last book. Half Blood Prince is consistently one of my favorites. It features the more mature trio, naturally Dumbeldore’s death and the discovery of the reason behind Voldemort’s apparent immortality.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling)

Horace Slughorn returning to the castle to fight, Snape’s secret, Fred dying, Lupin and Tonks, Colin Creevy being tiny in death, Kreacher’s bullfrog voice, Dobby’s death, Hagrid throwing MacNair, Molly vs. Bellatrix– the last hundred pages of this book is nonstop goosebumps. I get tears in my eyes every time. Every. Single. Time. Deathly Hallows binds every single event that occurred in Potter from the very first page of The Philosopher’s Stone to the very last page of Deathly Hallows in a neat bow. This is truly the best thought out work I’ve ever read by an author.

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Angel’s Fall (Nora Roberts)

I really enjoy reading through my Nora collection at least once a year. Right now I’m with Reece and Brody, and I particularly enjoy the book – I like both main characters, the setting, the plot and development of said plot.

Movie Review: My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

My_Best_Friends_Wedding

Plot: When a woman’s long-time friend reveals he’s engaged, she realizes she loves him herself and sets out to get him, with only days before the wedding.

Rating: 6/10

I was so looking forward to this. Julia Roberts in her heyday? I am so onboard watching her films, any of her work really, but especially anything done that time period. The film also stars a really young and hunky Dermot Mulroney (SURPRISE) and an equally young and fresh faced Cameron Diaz. But here is what I can tell you about this film:

Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) is an annoying character who is having a tantrum about the fact that she’s been friendzoning an amazing man for years and now that he’s moved on she wants him back. She’s also clearly evil and doesn’t mind hurting a perfectly nice and innocent young woman just because her title as the perfect girl is being attacked. Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz) is Julianne’s nemesis in here purely because she dared to date a clearly single and unattached man.

MBFW

I can tell you that the message of this film was clear – MOVE ON AND DON’T POACH. Seriously – Kimmy was so perfect it hurt teeth to look at her, but she was a good person who loved her fiancé. Julianne, who incidentally is the “heroine” of this film, is notoriously horrible to men and obsessed with herself. I just didn’t appreciate the fact that the heroine was horrible and that the story didn’t have the traditionally happy ending we demand from romantic comedies – If I want moral lessons or unhappy endings I would rather check out another genre, thanks so much.

I’m rating this 6/10 because I’m petty and angry about the ending. The rest of the film is probably okay if you are fine dealing with the root-canal version of a heroine. As a last comment I can say that Dermot Mulroney was pretty damn hunky in his youth and suits my idea of the ultimate 90’s man as well despite the fact that he’s named Dermot. I’ll leave you with that, folks. Let me know what you thought about this in the comments!

Blindspot 2017: Seven (1995)

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Plot: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

Rating: 8.5/10

Set in a dark and dreary city, homicide detectives Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt must investigate what is turning into a serial killer’s mad spree through town, emulating the 7 deadly sins in the most horrific of ways. Detective Freeman is retiring and after years of witnessing the horrors a decaying city can provide, he’s not too keen about taking up another job. But he somehow can’t pull away – he’s forced to worked with the new young detective and solve this last crime.

I enjoyed how dark and dreary the city was. The constant torrential downpour makes England look like a sunny palace. It’s so heavy, and combined with the decay of the city a sense of hopelessness lies in the air.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is a sharp contrast to the city. She’s everything the city isn’t – fresh and sweet and kind. I really liked her, how she balanced her husband out and wasn’t everywhere in the story and somehow remained so important in it.

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A thing that stands out sharply is the difference between the two detectives. Both are good men but so much difference in character. The younger detective is impulsive, perhaps because of his age. He’s by no means unintelligent but is far less cerebral than his older counterpart, who is often reflective and studies the crime and reasoning behind it well. The dynamic between the detectives shift – initially Freeman is cold shouldering his colleague (I think mostly due to impending retirement) but he begins to warm to Pitt with the case developing.

What is it about Kevin Spacey that he is so well capable to play such derange characters? It is creepy. He is creepy. So calm with an underlying menace. Madness coated in quiet demeanor. That flat of his. His belief in his work. A subtle creep. Sheesh.

How intense was the ending?! Edge of your seat business. John Doe concocted everything to make his plan infallible. I was horrified and entertained, because sheesh, what a nail biter.

Serial killers always have this dark glamour about them. It is wrong, but I have been interested in their mind games for years now – how they justify, what motivates them and how carefully they pick their victims. Seven is a film that follows one such killer in his demented ways in the best method I’ve ever seen. The film is backed by solid performances, directing, score and story to bring a thriller that will remain with you well after the end.

If you are looking for a film that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, Seven is definitely NOT for you. It is scary and gross and relentless and keeps you nailed to your seat, but come prepared because scary man. Scary.

 

#100HappyDays ROUND 2: Days 21-30

Greetings, everyone who still comes here. Sorry I’ve been so scarce. I’m currently in data wars with my service provider again, and I had to take a necessary break to prevent me having to buy yet more data. Soon I’ll start naming and shaming them.

However, this is supposed to be a HAPPY post, and we seriously need one right now. I’m doing quite well on this challenge. I’m actually at Day 40-something now, so I just know how long I’ve been missing from here. So, without further ado, here we go!21

Day 21: I am also currently in a war with unhealthy eating habits and carbs in particular. It really isn’t easy, but on this particular day I actually chose a nice and healthy option at a restaurant here in South-Africa. Since that said restaurant has been in the media for unsavory reasons as of late, I’m not willing to praise them too much right now. 22Day 22:
There is a coffee machine at my work that makes us cappuccinos. YES, I am that lucky. They get me through the mornings where anything other than caffeine would be scoffed at and chased away. It was delicious!

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Day 23:

To be honest, this was another day where I had to work really hard to get something to post. I was still dieting really good, and this picture really is the truth, so there you go.24

Day 24:

My mom bought me these shoes from Woolworths for my birthday. They are so comfy, pretty and corporate that I can work in them in ease and still look professional AF.

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Day 26:

I know. I took a bathroom selfie. I’m so ashamed. That jean is officially hanging on me now (starting to sag already in the pic). So yay for progress!

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Day 27:

Went to see Kong. It was such a fun, popcorn-entertainment film.

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Day 28:

Yoh. Let me tell you that this particular day tested my patience. This cappuccino was literally the only thing that kept me from biting people.29

Day 29:

We had some dinner at John Dory’s. I love good seafood when I can find it, and this was really delicious!

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Day 30:

My sister, myself and mom pictured above went to the Botanical Gardens here in Johannesburg. The drought that plagued Gauteng for two years was recently broken, and this is evident looking how gorgeously green and in full bloom the garden is right now.

What have you been up to lately? Tell me in the comment section!