Book Review: Entranced (Nora Roberts)

Entranced

Plot: Obviously psychic Sebastian Donovan was a fraud, but fiercely protective Mary Ellen Sutherland was desperate to find a missing baby and had run out of leads. So, reluctantly, the skeptical private investigator agreed to enlist Sebastian’s help. Soon she had to admit – grudgingly – that this man had some pretty remarkable gifts. Especially his extraordinary ability to penetrate her tough facade and awaken her heart. (via Goodreads)

Rating: 6.5/10

I’ve read the Donovan series out of sequence, but who cares if it was fun right? Anyway, these books aren’t a continuation on each other, they are just about the same family who all have magical abilities. Nora Roberts loves a few things: trilogies, romance (duh), Ireland and witches. Throw them together? I think she passes out from happiness.

This book is not particularly groundbreaking or earth shattering – it is the same old story of woman meets very attractive man with great power. Initially she refuses to believe in his powers (romantically and magically), but soon she yields because he is hotcakes.

But, it was fun. Roberts is a good author and although some of her themes are explored to exhaustion, she does what she does extremely well.

I liked the characters – Mary Ellen was sort of a hard ass and as I am one myself, I appreciated it. I thought her traumatic childhood was not explored at all, and could have caused some interesting chapters. Sebastian was the typical hero in the book – handsome, talented and sure of himself. He is pretty much the expected love interest – very Bella Swan-ish because where you could virtually imagine any girl as Bella Swan because she’s so vague you can imagine any man as Sebastian Donovan.

Entranced is a bit higher than the other books in the series because it contains some villainy. Sure, it serves as an introduction for Mel and Sebastian to meet, but it was fun seeing them hunt down a baby snatching ring. It was kept to a very polite villainy level, no blood or gore, but it turned the slightly stagnant story into an adventure.

If it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book, I did. It was fun, sexy, entertaining. I can only handle basic literature at this point – way too much drama in my life to add any more to it through a book, and this certainly fits the bill. Definitely a good read if you are looking for basic entertainment!

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Movie Review: Heathers (1988)

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Plot: In order to get out of the snobby clique that is destroying her good-girl reputation, an intelligent teen teams up with a dark sociopath in a plot to kill the cool kids.

Rating: 8/10

What I liked about this movie:

Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder): How fresh faced and beautiful is she in here?! Gosh. And so perfectly cast as the teenager with so much social anxiety and exasperation.

Jason “J.D” Dean (Christian Slater): I actually had a great time watching Christian Slater in here. I won’t call it the best acting on earth but he reminded me a bit of method acting and was highly entertaining. He was the perfect bad boy and really, really helped with the escalation of the plot.

How absolutely terrible Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) is:  Kim Walker’s facial expressions perfectly show the nasty heart of Heather Chandler and her despicable words. This girl is the nightmare of every teenager that wasn’t born as a perfect hormone infused child.

The collective brilliance of Shannen Doherty and Lisanne Falk as the other two Heathers. One was a little aloof and basically just Heather Chandler in another form, Lisanne Falk’s Heather was a ditzy brained idiot who was just in it for the popularity.

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It is dark and cynical and hilarious and is truly a unique perspective on the interpersonal relations teenagers have in highschool.

Teenage issues are addressed but not in a sickly sweet way that annoys the audience because it is unreal. Heathers is raw and cynical and includes suicide, date-rape, teenage angst, drinking and cliques, but it feels sincere and is therefore entertaining in its absurdity.

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The escalation of the plot: Things are perfectly normal, then BOOM, everyone is dying and bombs are not excluded from plans and the bad boy is clearly the mad boy.

The mind boggling fact that Daniel Waters was involved in this and then managed to produce the train wreck that was Vampire Academy. Talk about a fall from grace!

The fashion – it is so glorious. The 80’s must just happen again.

Not sure how many people I’ll offend by saying this, but Heathers strikes me as a rom-com version of Donnie Darko – it is weird shit but you can’t help but find it genius and highly entertaining. It is a very good watch and I think if you love movies you will enjoy this, even if it is not your usual style.

The Saddest Goodbye

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It is a universally accepted truth that no parent should ever bury their child.

I’m not about to disagree with that because it is true – it is the way life is supposed to go

But what is really never discussed is how painful it is for a child to bury their parent.

My father Jan Hendrik Stander passed away on the 19th of September 2015.

He had a short battle with liver cancer.

He was first hospitalized in May 2015.

He died four months later.

Cancer is not kind. It is not romantic and it isn’t what they make in the movies.

There is nothing beautiful about it.

I saw a strong, funny, hyper intelligent man turn into a deathly pale invalid that could not move himself.

Cancer reveals what love is. 

But it isn’t this pretty thing that people think.

It’s a painful, maddening love that makes you weep hysterically.

It makes you shake your fist angrily at whatever deity might be listening.

Cancer makes you question religion. I think it is impossible to blindly trust God at times like this.

But cancer makes you also realize what is important – family and a handful of friends.

Earthly possessions holds no value.

My father was a wonderful man – he had a sarcastic sense of humor, and he could be so negative that I could sometimes only laugh. He was incredibly well read and intelligent, he was kind to car guards and to waiters, he had faith that he based on facts and not because he was told to believe.

It is unreal that he is gone – how can life just be wiped away so completely?

I will miss him forever. He was one of the best men I will ever know, and the void in my life feels huge. I know the sadness will fade and that life will move on, but he will always be my father and I will love him to the end of days.

Ek en pappa

Links I Love 1

links i love

So after what seems like forever, I’ve finally managed to align my life perfectly to sit down at my laptop for five minutes and attend to my blog. I’ve missed it so much – I’ve been able to check a few blogs here and there, but as we all know scheduling posts takes ages.

SO, as I have a few seconds right now, here is something I’ve wanted to do for a while – post about the interesting posts I’ve read – both news worthy and blogging posts. This will hopefully become one of those installments that pops up from time to time – I read a lot of interesting articles and would love to have it up here for those who are interested to check out.

Leading the awesome news this week was the discovery of Homo Naledi at the Cradle of Humankind. I think this might be my favorite news titbit of the past week.

Now this is awkward: This post about Getty images suing a blogging site for the use of the Socially Awkward Penguin (Getty has the copyright on it) was very interesting. It is another subject that interests me – where bloggers should draw the line on images and whether large scale companies should lighten up a bit.

Ellen De Generes responded to Caitlyn Jenner’s not so nice comments about gay marriages. I personally find Caitlyn Jenner now the most irritating of the Kardashian clan and find it extremely rich that someone who underwent such a public and massive change in life would even think of judging what makes others happy.

The Syrian refugee crises had me captivated like everybody else on the planet. It humbles me and reminds me that the troubles we have in South-Africa are not really as bad as I would love to make it. This post from Buzzfeed about how Germany welcomed the Syrian refugees into their country really made me smile and think well of humanity for a moment.

Huffington post put up their weekly 20 funniest tweets from Women This Week again, and it was as hilarious as always (seriously one of my favorite installments of them)

The Telegraph had a really nice post about the Queen of England loving Downton Abbey #class #TheQueenandILoveTheSameThings

Cracked had a post about 6 Iconic Movie scenes that weren’t even planned to happen that way – right up the alley of everyone who reads this blog!

This Buzzfeed post had me go to it twice in stubbornness – the fifty characters in Harry Potter who are named the most.

Blog posts:

This blog post from Mushy Peas on Toast sums up my current feelings so well.

Series: Vikings Season 1

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What I liked:

The show is presented as a documentary, but works exceptionally well because the characters are developed and it isn’t a dried and dusted tone that sets the scene.

The characters develop well: I love the relationship between Lagertha and Ragnar: they are partners on every level, she is his equal and he values her input in every area of his life. The relationship between Ragnar and Rollo: how Rollo’s insecurities are explored and fleshed out, the relationship starting well and turning sour and how they really did love each other. Then there is the fascinating relationship between Ragnar and Athelstan – the coldness of their first meeting, Athelstan’s introduction into Ragnar’s world and how he becomes a valued part of their household.

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Ragnar Lodbrok: Played by Travis Fimmel, Ragnar Lodbrok is everything. I am such a fan (except for the last episode, STUPID MAN).  Fimmel does the best Viking I have ever seen. He is utterly terrifying when he puts on his war face. The madness that seeps into his eyes.. sheesh. I also now have a new contender to compete with Khal Drogo for the sexiest cave man alive – I’m pretty sure Ragnar can talk me out of my pants with “HELLO”

Things I like about Ragnar Lodbrok, PART 1

The eyes

The hair

The fuck all attitude

The voice

The torso

The way he looks at his wife

His adoration for his children

The whole package

The eyes

The madness

(this will obviously not be the last time I drool talk of him)

Lagertha

Okay, back to pure thoughts – Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is one seriously badass woman. She has the ability to be powerful and a mother figure – something that is rarely portrayed correctly on screen. She is fierce and strong and sexy AND a mother – love how they layer her character from the start.

Rollo (Clive Standen) – this guy has such grey areas. I think he lives in a world where he is both good and bad and can’t really decide when to act on which side. It must be hell to be related to Ragnar though.

Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) bat shit crazy but totally awesome. Love

Bjorn (Nathan O’Toole) – what a cute little Viking kid.

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#squadgoals

The story. I just love a good and intelligently written story. I know very little about Norse mythology, so I can’t really discuss the accuracies or inaccuracies of Vikings, but I really enjoyed the story and the intricacies of it. The religious aspect is fascinating – the religion of the Vikings, their sacrifices and offerings, their amazing version of Armageddon, their very scary seers and priests. I have to say that I truly find the primal energy to their religion extremely fascinating. Then there are the Christians, who at that stage of the world were still extremely barbaric and uncivilized. I think that Athelstan (I am SUCH a major fan here) is the only Christian character that correctly portrayed what the religion truly means.

The scenery – Vikings was shot in Ireland, and it is breathtakingly beautiful.

What I didn’t like:

Princess Aslaug. I can just tell I am going to loathe her in the next few seasons.

Ragnar’s infidelity – you stupid man. I hope your truly amazing wife roasts your balls and feeds it to Aslaug.

The first episode really doesn’t showcase the show’s greatness. It took me ages to get through the first one and the rest are so amazing.

Rating: 8.5/10

Vikings is intelligent, well cast and excellently produced. Exceptional camera work is not really so important when you have such naturally beautiful landscape at your disposal, but the camera work was done really well and attributes towards the success of the show. I find everything well put together – the solid acting, the contrast between the religions, the love stories, the war, the history. There are some violent scenes, but they are not overbearing, and you will end up enjoying the show if you can work past all the gore.

Ragnar

PS: Please don’t comment spoilers on the rest of the show in the comment section – I have only seen season one! 🙂

Book Review: Charmed (Nora Roberts)

Charmed

Plot: (via Nora Roberts)

Boone Sawyer never expected to move next door to a woman who looked like one of the fairy princesses he often wrote about. Anastasia Donovan had a serene kind of femininity that would baffle and allure any man who was still breathing – and Boone was definitely breathing!

Ana’s gift was for healing. Though her intriguing new neighbor made his living writing fairy tales, she didn’t think he’d easily accept her legacy. But when an accident put a life at stake, she could not deny her powers – though it could cost her Boone’s love, and risked her very life….

Rating: 6.5/10

So if you read that Plot synopsis you definitely know by now what we are dealing with. It is the schmaltziest romance you can wish to stumble upon. So let’s review it as such and not as a comparison to any great pieces of literature, because only then it can be fairly addressed.

I actually enjoyed this. I am not in a place in life where I want these gruesome murdery books or dystopian fiction or anything that doesn’t have some happy. Charmed has some happy – it’s unbelievable and totally cheesy but it is still some happy.

I had my misgivings – I mean her name is Ana and I am still traumatized by Fifty Shades of Grey and that stupid name. Also, who names their child Boone? Really? The book is also really not complex and there is no villain worth mentioning. Everyone is perfect and Boone is the big strong man and Ana is the beautiful lady with a big secret and vulnerable nature. There is a kid that is cute and never annoying and just so perfect and everyone is wonderful because that is how life is – beautiful and wonderful.

Totally legit!

Consensus: Fun, silly, cheesy, romancey. Don’t read it if you hate any of those things because this book ODs on it all.

Movie Review: Clueless (1995)

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Plot: A rich high school student tries to boost a new pupil’s popularity, but reckons without affairs of the heart getting in the way.

Rating: 7/10

I’ve been dying to see this. It feels that I missed out not seeing it as a kid. That would have made me so much more attached to it than I am now. I found the first part of the movie a complete letdown.  Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) might not be a vicious Regina George from Mean Girls, but she is a ditzy pain in the ass with no morals or work ethic. Her determination to completely change Tai (Brittany Murphy) from the original girl she was to a drone plastic was irritating AF.

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Once I realized that this is in fact an adaption of Emma, the novel by Jane Austen, things looked up because then the main character made sense – she’s a lonely, rich and pretty girl and utterly Clueless about herself and everyone else in her life. The movie lacks otherwise because there is no background given to the character except a few lines that her mother died when she was just a baby. The things Cher says and does is cringe worthy at points and really illuminates that she knows nothing despite her façade.

The 90s fashion was hilarious. Gosh, did people really wear that?! The outfits on the men were really painful to see.

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I always liked Paul Rudd but never understood everyone’s attachment to him. Now that I’ve seen Clueless I totally get it. He is so damn cute as Josh. He makes the perfect romantic lead and is so frigging adorable.

This movie’s last half is better than everything before it. It ends strongly, making up for the stumbles in pace along the way and the irritating chirping of teenage girls worrying over become heifers because they ate four M&Ms. Any girl wants a guy to stumble over his words when sitting next to her, and that scene was the most adorable thing.

Clueless is not a bad movie but I think I missed that whole adoration thing – it would probably have had a nostalgic grip on me if I had watched it as a teen!

Currents

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Location: Potchefstroom NWU University for my Microbiology practicals. I always like it here but it also always feels like I am living someone else’s life – the full time students with nothing but time. It feels so weird.

Reading: Insurgent by Veronica Roth. This is where Tris is the most annoying, so it is a slow process.

Vikings poster

Watching: Trying get into the swing of Vikings. Everyone keeps raving about it so I am willing to give a few episodes a try.

Recently watched: Heathers, Insurgent and the Longest Ride on the movie side of things. Heathers was by far the best movie of the three, and I am going to gush about it if I ever get to writing a review for it. I reviewed the Longest Ride here, and I am first finishing the book Insurgent before I properly bitch about the movie – a girl needs her priorities straight.

Heathers

Thinking about:

Grief: About how it doesn’t really change you, but it shows you who you really are. I finally feel like all the bullshit has been scraped away from my eyes because for the first time in a long time I know what really matters. I am not ready to word yet what has been going on in my life, but I’ve realized that your heart can keep on breaking every single day and you can still have the power to keep moving through life.

Savings: Like, I really need to start. I have to be able to live in Potch next year for six weeks and I have no idea how I am going to carry myself financially through 2016. I just love ADDITIONAL stress, you know.

Health: It will fully incorporate into the whole GRIEF post eventually, but I’ve just realized again what a life of bad eating habits does to a person. Healthy eating and regular exercise is also a way to combat depression, so I need to start doing both because I think that depression is not that far from where I am at this point. I am seriously considering Banting – I’ve heard great testimonials from people I know and they all look and feel great. I plan to start next week when I am back in Johannesburg, but will obviously only keep you updated if it works for me.

Excited about: Honestly, not much. I am really happy it is getting warmer here – I HATED THIS WINTER, and I am both happy and sad that Downton Season 6 is on its way.

How about you? What is going on in your life?