Book Review: Haunting The Deep (Adriana Mather)

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Plot: Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one. 

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship. 

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers

*Slight spoilers*

There are so many reasons for disliking a novel. It could be that it is poorly written, it could be the main characters are reprehensible. It may be too far out of your usual genres. It could be too drawn out, or simply too unrealistic. With me, it can also be because I was in a bad average weekly mood*. Did I have to send too many “as per my last email” emails? Perhaps wearing my socks that sneak into my shoes that I can never throw away? Things like that influence my love and dedication towards finishing a book. I admit that I was mostly grumpy reading the first part of the book. I went on holiday, read some stupidly silly Nora Roberts, and returned refreshed and willing to finish Haunting the Deep. I finished up with a better opinion of it than I had in the beginning.

After the amazing reading experience of How To Hang A Witch, the first book in this series, I was so ready to return to Salem, Sam, and hopefully a lot more of Elijah. Elijah makes an appearance, though not as often as I would have preferred. Jaxon with the unfortunate X is still present, and he continues with forcing himself to be the third part of a love triangle that only he created – Sam is clearly not interested in him. He’s the master of the friendzone, and while I do feel some sympathy, he has some moments in this book where he really started to work on everyone’s nerves.

The Salem Sisters or Circle or whatever they are named returns as well and generally makes Sam’s life easier by not leading a witch hunt on her or by being general bitches. It’s quite a turnaround, but they are more her friends than anything else this time around.

Our main protagonist, the heroine Sam, at times seems to have regressed emotionally. Her responses are all drama, meltdowns and despair. I get why she wouldn’t be her old self right now – being nearly submitted to death by strangulation by your own stepmother, having a comatose father, falling in-love with a ghost and having a town believe you are an evil witch all in the space of one year would upset even the hardiest of folk. Then when all seems to recover, waking up on a sinking ship with no recollection of your true self and waking up to remember all that, well I get it. However, her coping mechanisms seems to be more broken than the Titanic in this book and I hope if there are more of these novels she becomes a bit tougher.

Haunting The Deep takes place in two of the coolest historical places – Salem and on the Titanic. The Mather family seems to have some truly interesting historical events in their family history – they have been in some crazy times. Although being on the Titanic is no-one’s idea of having fun, it does pose interesting history to the reader. And, readers of this blog, as Sam finds herself increasingly trapped on the Titanic with the clock ticking towards doomsday, we have to ask ourselves, can she and her friends survive AGAIN?

I liked that Sam was more settled into Salem in this book, even though her father is so against the town and any magic. The Descendants are a whole lot more pleasant, and while it takes away some of the Mean Girls vibe of the first novel, it was nice for Sam to have friends that understood her. They really need to find a way to make Elijah more solid (as in, not ghost), at some stage, because it seems that the world is deprived of much beauty and a sarcastic personality if only Sam can see him.

This book is worth reading if you enjoyed the first – it is an easy read and the characters are still entertaining. I will definitely revisit the pair at a stage, and I would be so happy if a third book can be released in the series. Now, onward with my gigantic reading list!

Rating: 7/10

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Book Review: The Seven Sisters (Lucinda Riley)

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Plot: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.

I initially started this review with: My review of the Seven Sisters won’t be the most extensive review I have ever written – ha, when I finally got going the going got long. It’s has been a while since I read The Seven Sisters, and only being nearly done with the second novel (and being more impressed), made me review the first.

I read through most of the book in a few days and then took about two weeks to read the last two hundred pages. Yup, the book is big enough for phrases like “last two hundred pages” to be thrown around. I was at that stage probably at 60% of the book, which gives you some indication of its size. It’s a bit too long, and I truly think that I would have enjoyed the book as a shorter novel more.

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley starts when an enigmatic tycoon, named Pa Salt by his 6 adopted daughters, passes away under murky circumstances. Following his death, which occurs in the early pages of this book, he leaves each of his daughters with a set of coordinates and some information for them to hunt down their true roots. There is obviously something underfoot – The Seven Sisters should be, well Seven, and as they are only six daughters, there is a seventh missing daughter. I have some theories that are beginning to form on this, but we will see. He seems to also have chosen his daughters particularly well, as each daughter has an impressive lineage in her history despite her early orphanage.

Falling back into 1920, we meet Bel, a beautiful society queen who is barely of age. Her engagement to a wealthy, older society gentleman is of no surprise. The combination of her beauty, her father’s wealth, and Gustavo’s social status promises the elevation of her and her family into the elite social class in Brazil. Despite her father’s great success with his coffee plantations, the society still looks down on them because of their Italian heritage, and this will change with Gustavo’s status. There seems to be at least friendship in their relationship, but the youthful Bel wishes for some adventure before settling into her life as a married woman. This wish is granted when she can travel to Paris with Hector Da Silva, the architect in charge of the mammoth construction of the Christo, and his family. There Bel finds love in the arms of a penniless (but naturally) gorgeous apprentice but is mature enough to return to her home country and wed, knowing the dishonor that will befall her parents should she refuse.

Fast forward a few months, and Bel, married albeit unhappily to the now alcoholic Hector, is shocked when the beautiful Laurent shows up in Brazil. Because Bel is Catholic, and it is 1920, their now sexual relationship sans protection leads to a pregnancy, and Bel must decide her fate – run away with Laurent and bring shame on her deeply traditional family, or will she stay in a loveless marriage and pretend the child is Hector’s?

This part of the novel teaches life lessons like: if you made your bed you will lie in it, and makes you thankful that you are not a woman in the 1920’s. Also, don’t cheat on your husband, even if he is shitty. I really liked Bel, in fact much more so than her modern-day counterpart Maia, because she was vivacious, sweet and mostly kind. I won’t spoil her decision, and I am not sure if I agreed with her choice, but it remained hers to make.

Fast forward 90 years, Maia D’Apliese is motivated to explore her heritage when an old lover shows up close to their estate and wishes to meet with her. Maia has no such desire and sets off to Brazil where she meets up with the (also handsome) author she’s been assisting with translations of his novels. As a historian, he is interested in her history and aids her in her research. As neither of them are ugly, they soon have a little bit of chemistry going on.

Maia’s adventure is not that amazing, and to be honest she irritated me just a bit. She is overly dramatic and her responses to any event is exclamation marks and distress. She’s also mostly the reason I ended up stalling finishing the book – the woman loves to be dramatic. It is also in her sections where the author’s writing, which is overly descriptive at the best of times, became overbearing. I wish most modern novelists could understand that they don’t have to go JRR Tolkien on us all the time (or attempt to), because they aren’t sitting with the greatest novel of our time nor do they have his literary finesse (and I am looking at all of them with this, not only this author).

However, the book isn’t all bad. I enjoyed how involved the Rio community was with the construction of the Christo, it seemed everyone had a crucial role. The book is also just about interesting enough to continue into the second book, which I am relieved to say is much more interesting and the main character, who also has flaws, isn’t nearly as grating as Maia.

I have respect for the author for the research these books had to require, and how she aligns each daughter’s story. The second book is already much better than the first, and it seems like there won’t be any issues with plot holes later in the series.

I would refer this to people who have lots of time for reading, who are patient people, and like long and epic stories which isn’t fantasy based.

Rating: 6.5/10

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows)

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Plot: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

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I absolutely LOVED the movie (review here); so much so that it spurred me to start writing on my blog again. Naturally no force on this planet would keep me away from the book, and I got the last copy at my local bookshop – even though at an exorbitant price – seriously, how do they want people to keep on reading when it is so expensive? – I was still willing to fork out the cash because I just had to know.

I do love the romantic notion that one hard copy book can travel across oceans and reach people you would never have come in contact with. It’s part of the fun of buying a second hand book – someone else has read and enjoyed that particular book.

In this case, it leads to a life changing journey for author Juliet Ashton, who herself is still recovering from World War II, travels to Guernsey to meet their illustrious book club and one of it’s intriguing members – Dawsey Adams. He writes to Juliet after finding her details inscribed in one of his second hand books, and their pen-pal relationship develops nicely enough that she decides to embark on the journey that will alter the course of her life.

The one thing that took getting used to is that the book is written entirely as letters. This makes things a bit difficult, and certainly something to get used to, because there’s no “real” interaction between the characters and everything is written after the fact. I did get used to it, but like I said, it took a while.

With any book to movie adaption there will be a few changes. This is no different matter, but none so severe that it makes me like one more or one less. Dawsey Adams is definitely less attractive than the beautiful Michiel Huisman, although his character is just as beautiful in the book as in the movie. Again, Glen Powell and his absurd levels of charm make Mark Reynolds a nicer guy in the movie than he is in the book – he seems a whole lot of toxic in the book. They are also never engaged, as they are in the film.

I don’t want to give away too much for those who are planning to pick up a copy, but if you do I really hope you like it. It is still a testament to the beautiful country of Guernsey and their almost overlooked horrors experienced in the war. I am as a result also quite interested in who Charles Lamb was, the country of Guernsey, and any man who might be similar to Dawsey! 😉

Have you read the book? DO let me know!

Book Review: City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

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Plot: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… 

My sister was campaigning that I  read this, hands wildly thrown in the air, that it was good and I needed to read this (you get the idea). I needed a healthy break from Grey’s Anatomy (seriously too attached), so it was a great time to pick up a new book series.

I think we all know these YA books are such hits with their population group because it tells the story of a teen who realizes that she really is different, and that it isn’t just her wildly out of control hormones making her feel excluded. I happen to still like them – they are fun and campy and you can use them as “filler” books between more serious reads.

City of Bones is a good example of this. Clary is likable, Jace is a good love interest. Jace has an attitude as big as the Great Wall of China so that makes him an entertaining character even when you want to punch him, which is quite often. There is a regrettable love triangle going on between Clary’s best friend Simon, Clary and Jace, and that is really typical and not too unexpected, but I still an arc like this as I consider it lazy writing. Imagine a series where two characters are completely into each other and a third doesn’t have to get hurt? For all Tris’ many mistakes, she and Four in the Divergent series never deviate from each other. But it does play into the dreamworld of a teen girl who wishes that not only one, but two, really handsome guys can pine after her

Simon is also a pretty cool only-human character (there needs to be one in every YA book). He is sweet and it is annoying that he lost his superior position in Clary’s life just because she realized her true identity. I hope he is around throughout the series. He’s a funny guy.

So if you’ve read the book you will know there is a major plot twist at the end. It made me furious furious furious (probably as intended). I hope some magic happens and it un-plots itself because I just can’t deal with this.

The book felt about a hundred pages too long. Gosh, the ending is just too drawn out and the author could have kept a few paragraphs off the book and still have gotten to the end like she did.

So now that I have bitched about the bad things, I will tell you that this is easy and light reading. The lore is explained as the book continues and it is as imaginative as we can hope from a genre that has explored every single avenue repeatedly. There are demon hunters, werewolves, vampires, faeries and an entire underworld that hosts them. The focus is on the demon hunters, and how snobby and elite they can be. The villain is all around bad and unforgiving, and not unlike Hitler in his beliefs. He is mad and determined and not even remotely afraid in taking out the people that needs to be taken out in order for him to succeed.

The main protagonist Clary is determined and can deal – she isn’t needy or silly or whiney, and she does her thing. I liked that about her, because too often female protagonists in their own story end up depending on every male available. Clary isn’t like that, and while she may be minuscule, she remains someone to be reckoned with.

If you like the genre, you will definitely like this. I will pick up the movie (even though it has terrible ratings), and maybe even the series – I see that got cancelled too – just to see whether their casting matches to my imagination

Have you read the series? No spoilers please!

Book Review: How To Hang A Witch (Adriana Mather)

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I’m not sure how exactly Zoe manages to find these interesting and obscure reads, but sooner rather than later I saw symptoms of what would invariably lead to a book hangover for her. I was intrigued enough to be interested, and following her recommendation (we only refer books we know the other will like), and getting a hard copy (quite hard to do, I assure you, I was looked at as if I was perhaps a witch myself after inquiring this interesting title at the local book store), I started reading. It was delicious, not knowing one thing about the book, and the originality and suspense of the novel kept me engrossed and finished it within three days. Reading a new book is risky – so much time spent on something that might not work out! – But I was well rewarded. I won’t say too much about the story – but it is YA with some interesting twists, and the high school setting and typical teenage bitchiness is perfectly mixed with the spookiness of Salem and its tainted history. I’ve always found the Witch Trials really interesting, and they are well explored in this book.

How To Hang A Witch reads really easily and fluently, and the book does not drag or have events that shouldn’t have been included. The characters are likable – especially Sam, who really suffers from the children in her school, unknown forces and how to deal with her father’s illness, but she’s luckily never marketed as self-pitying or a wimp.

I started getting suspicions on who the main villain was when I reached about 75% completeness of the book, and was proven correct. It’s a great turn of events and suitably nasty, and those last few pages were intense and anxiously read.

I am just a bit sulky about how it ended – but since I saw that there is another book out, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Although pretty sure I can’t actually like you if you don’t like this book, I would recommend it to people who generally enjoy YA. It’s not a genre for everyone, but I do hope that those who pick it up really enjoy themselves!

Rating: 8.5/10

Book Review: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

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Plot: Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

-Contains minor spoilers-

I have finally read and finished Jane Eyre. I had to mature, this I can now tell you with utmost certainty. I attempted a couple of years ago, and halfway through the book became overwhelming – the English is elaborate and for lack of a better word – floral – and the twists and turns of the novel was too much at that stage.

I enjoyed it very much this time around. The book has a dark tone, with intimacy I would not expect published back in the 1800’s (it wasn’t all Fifty Shades of Grey back then). The romantic suspense between Jane and her master builds and builds, until you want to smash them together.

There are some shocking moments in this book too – Jane’s treatment as a child is nothing sort of horrific. Her school years is a vast improvement over her aunt’s behavior towards her, but I felt the same helpless sympathy I felt when Harry was locked under a staircase in Privet Drive. Jane takes school and turns it into a life for her, and it is soon evident that she has overtaken all her relatives in integrity and ambition. Leaving the school, she starts working for the mysterious Mr. Rochester, and her love for him is pure, idolizing and intense, and nearly fatal when she flees him after hearing his dark secret.

The writing is incredibly elaborate and winding, and the dialogue is sharp and drawn out. There were a few times where I generally wondered the need for ten pages dedicated to one scene, the fact that it could have either been eliminated or just shortened was evident.

I was ready to burn this book to the ground nearing the end. I feared and feared Jane would end up marrying the extremely boring St. John, who, despite what Jane believes, struck me as a priggish, self righteous fanatic that would have murdered her spirit. Had this happened, I promise you now, I would have hunted every single copy of Jane Eyre and burned them all into crisps. Luckily, the novel avoided it’s untimely end by giving me exactly what I wanted. The book ends with sadness – Mr. Rochester injured and suffered a great loss, but their love is enough to carry them through.

This book made me sigh with happiness more than once. It appealed to me because Jane is firstly, a feminist. They did not coin that term so easily back then, but she is a smart, educated woman who takes her affairs into her own hands. She has no need to marry until she falls deeply in love with a complex man. Mr. Rochester’s love for Jane does not spring from her beauty or her charm, rather her smartness and capability and that they are so excellently suited for one another. In the end Jane meets him as his equal, and not some inferior caste who is dependent on him. For over two hundred years this is a love story that is more realistic than the garbage produced today.

My next step is to watch the latest adaption – I need to watch it NOW.

Rating: 8/10

Watched, Read, Loved: November and December 2017 and a (belated) happy new year!

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Happy New Year dear friends! The past two months have been whirlwinds! I’ve forgotten how to even blog, and I will be super surprised if my WordPress account actually allows me to log me back in.

Needless to say, it has been hectic – when is it ever not though? I finally completed my degree. I always imagined how it would feel getting that notification, and nothing came close to it because hyperventilation was the prevalent feeling – this panicked excitement and too much happy. I’ve also subsequently been promoted, so November and December were interviews and crazed stress. January is all about settling in to my new role and getting my replacement into her new role, so I can promise some extra crazy moments around the office.

We had my sister’s babyshower, and it was a wonderful day. She’s had some scares with her pregnancy, but I am happy to report that her baby girl is now happy and on her way at the end of January. The day of the babyshower was extremely hot! (It was after all December in South-Africa). We made way too much food but had a lovely time celebrating. If I may say so myself – I can organize an event! 😀

I also managed to have some recreational fun. We went to Sun City in Rustenburg, South-Africa. It has a “sea” and it was a fun day away from Johannesburg. (Also an international five star resort, and looks like the intro to Jurassic Park) However, if I ever go again, I will stay the night. The drive back was straight from a horror movie.

We also went to The Garden of Lights, annually hosted by Emperor’s Casino. It was nothing like I imagined it would be – so charming and gorgeous. It is definitely something I will revisit in the years to come.

Another nice day was visiting the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. They are so wonderfully green now and it was therapeutic strolling between the plants.

I went on another Tinder date. It’s actually a recurring event with this one guy. I just don’t know what to make of the situation at this stage. I’m sure he’ll make a decent boyfriend, I’m just not sure if he will make one for me. I also went to another singles event, which was really nice. However, the people that attend persistently do good in short bursts but later just fade into the background.

It seems too few paragraphs to describe the past few months. I feel like my life has expanded and grown, and you won’t hear from me that 2017 was a bad year. It was a pretty good year for me. I’m extremely grateful how much I’ve managed to achieved, and hopeful that I will reach some major milestones this year – which I’m keeping secret for now, but the moment they happen I will let you know.

I only have one “resolution” this year, and that is to use less plastic. Plastic consumption in South-Africa is pretty bad, and I am also a culprit. The government implemented costs on plastic bags a few years ago, but as it is still only about 20 cents a bag there hasn’t been a lessening in the staggering plastic consumption in South Africa. So I am planning to take a woven bag with me from now on and to pack my groceries in there when I shop, so as to help in a small way save this planet of ours.

Well, here is a rundown of my entertainment adventures below. Let me know your opinions! (Sitting on a thousand unread personal emails, so I might have missed some really important moments)

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The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Hmm. There are so many strong feelings about this film currently on the internet.  Let me tell you, my feelings were strong after exiting the cinema. I’ve mellowed some, but I am not a fan of this film. I need to write a proper review for it, and I will save my commentary for then.

Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017): These amazing ladies have decided to exit while they are on top. I enjoyed this film so much. It is such silly humour and can be pretty darn vulgar, but at the same time it does my heart good to see female driven comedies shine on their own.

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PS I Love You: Gerard Butler, my pants were on fire. I like this film, despite fully knowing so many people hate it.

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Lego Batman (2017): What a smart, funny, dialogue savvy film. The best Lego movie and one of the finest DC movies.

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Fifty First Dates: I remember loving this film as a child, and eagerly ordered the DVD when I stumbled upon it. It’s still good – a strange mix of Adam Sandler’s best and worst sides. I can at least let my Adam Sandler movies I actually like list grow to three – The Wedding Singer, Mona Lisa smile and Fifty First Dates. The rest remain garbage though.

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Lethal Weapon 3 – I got the third and the fourth movie to watch after Zoe and I watched the first two. I had a great time with this one as well, and the three movies I’ve seen are all equally good. How looky was Mel Gibson before he became the bitter old white man?

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Grease – It really seems unnatural the way John Travolta’s hips move in this film. How young was he?! How young was Olivia Newton John?! Had a lot of fun watching Grease, but it is undeniably a long film.

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Sy Klink Soos Lente – I got in my Afrikaans fix twice in films the past few months. Both (the second below) made me so happy and proud of my language and what we are achieving in cinema. Sy Klink Soos Lente is funny, smart and sweet, and I have watched it once more since the first time.

Vir die Voels

Vir Die Voëls – Same as the above. The writing is significantly better than most South-African films, and there is an awareness of dialogue in both these films that impressed me. It’s not just words, it is how Afrikaans people speak. I will definitely sit down for this again!

Eat Pray Love – I grabbed this off the shelf for something to watch with my mom. I’ve always liked this film, but this time around I found myself slightly irritated with the level of first world problems the character experiences – it’s just so much easier to have a midlife tantrum when you can travel the world. Javier Bardem in this remains gorgeous.

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The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King: My heart. I am so attached to these films. They are everything. I actually don’t want to review them – how to bring justice to some of the best films ever made? My heart.

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Justice League – Yep, seemed to have done this in November/December too! To be perfectly honest I enjoyed this more than – gasp – Star Wars. It is definitely one of the better offerings from DC.

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The Italian Job (2003) – Another Blindspot off my list! This went okay, just not a favourite Blindspot this year.

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Zoë got me the best Christmas gift EVER – all the way from England (I’m still naive enough to get such a massive kick from an international shipment). DOWNTON ABBEY BOXSET!!!!! I cannot describe my intense love for this show – it is simply so wonderful. I am already on to season two, and the sarcastic remarks, the amazing running commentary of the Dowager Countess, and the unbearably lovely Matthew Crawley (SOB) keeps my so entertained my pinkie is going to shoot in to the air anytime soon.

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I actually have read way too much to even remember. I am still busy with Under Rose Tainted Skies – it’s good, just very angsty. I’ll finish it soon and tell you all about it, but teenagers are generally difficult to deal with and this one even more so. I am currently devouring Marian Keyes’ This Charming Man, arguably my most favourite read of hers. It’s written so well and flows through the course of the story easily. I also revisited Laurian Clemence’s Mushy Peas on Toast, one of my favourite South-African reads ever, and consumed an unhealthy amount of Nora Roberts. Nora is a spiral – I will read so much of her and then not look at another author for ages, which is lazy and unhealthy on my part. I know I read the two books in the Stanislaski brothers again – which I enjoy despite my opinion on Ukranians not quite matching Nora’s, I also read one of the MacKade books (Return of Jared MacKade), and revisited the Guardians Trilogy. I also read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (the original book, not the play, which I avoid on principle), and this makes me in the mood for Harry Potter, a complete reread. Who knows, maybe I will even watch the movies as a series. I am also in the mood to read Eat, Pray, Love again by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s the True North of my love of her books, and I’d like to experience it all over again.

What were you up to this festive season? Let me know!

Book Review: The Rise of Nine (Pittacus Lore)

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Plot: The Mogadorians who destroyed the planet Lorien continue to hunt for the Garde, the small group of Loric survivors who have taken refuge on Earth. During a dangerous mission at a Mog base in West Virginia, John found and rescued the brutish Nine. But even with their combined powers, special abilities known as Legacies, the pair barely escaped with their lives. And in the process, John’s best friend, Sam Goode, was lost and taken captive by the enemy.

In order to save him—and our world—John and Nine must join forces with Six and Seven who have been battling the Mogs in Spain, and who are now trying to locate Number Eight in India. The Garde must come together before it is too late. They are Lorien and Earth’s only hope.

Firstly, it took me ages to write this review. Analyzing how I felt and whether the book was good took me a chunk of time. This is the third book in the series, and I would love to continue until I have finished the entire set. (Read reviews here and here or the first two books). Of the three novels I liked this one second best, after I am Number Four, although I still felt that it had plenty of mistakes.

Despite the title suggesting that The Rise of Nine is focused primarily on the adventures of Nine; the book shifts between the members of the Garde.  You barely get to know Nine – he just seems like a big brash teenager with way too much ego and way too little sense. He frankly irritated me, and he is by far not my favorite. His pissing contest with Fouris ridiculous, and if I wanted to watch Fast and The Furious for a battle of the penis, I would have. I see Michael Bay had a favorable review of these books, and it makes sense – there is a lot of bang and smoke but very little effect. Reading “The Rise of Nine” was like reading a Michael Bay film – not something I’d actually recommend that often. The book has so many drawn-out fight scenes it feels like I would guess how a book version of his work would read.

I really like Six, and wouldn’t mind a book focused on her. I guess that this series is aimed at teenage boys, which makes that wish highly unlikely to occur, but she’s an interesting character and one of the strongest. Also, least annoying.

I’m not sure where they are heading with the American Government siding with the Mogadorians, but it seems rather vague and silly at this point in the books (though not looking at the current administration, which makes it more likely). While I remember this sore point for me – the “Mogadorians” or “Mogs” is the stupidest name I have ever heard for a fictional race.

The number of dumb decisions these kids make is very high – you can just see high hormone levels drives their life choices. Particularly the final and ridiculous battle with Setrakus Ra. This “all powerful being” attacked in the middle of the series when half the Garde is seriously maimed and they still escape without a casualty? Stupid stupid.

There are some glitches and the writing is by no means perfect, and I really think I’m just too old now for this, but the books are good for light reading and are a fast thing once you get going. I found that final fight stupid. It is starting to feel that things work out for these kids because they must, not because of some brilliantly revealed plot. I am still enjoying the Legacies the kids develop, that at least remain pretty cool.

I will likely read the rest in due course, because it is good for when you want to read but don’t want to think too much about it. I wouldn’t recommend this series to anyone over seventeen actually, but it isn’t too rough just for some mindless semi-dystopian drama.

Rating: 6/10

Watched, Read, Loved: September 2017

Yay! Spring is here in South-Africa and I couldn’t be more excited. When the weather is so much better I am so much better. Getting to work while the sun is actually up makes me a much nicer colleague.

I’ve been doing a couple of Parkruns. My work gave us all the opportunity in taking part in the Discovery Pulse challenge, which made me realize (again) how little steps I take each day. I’ve been trying to average it at 5000 steps, but that is already a challenge. The challenge officially began on the 27th of September 2017, and I really am working hard to do everything healthier – eating, sleeping, more exercise, less stress (HA!). It runs for three months and I will definitely let you know how it progresses.

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Movies

The Fate of The Furious: Continuing the ridicule of series that is the Fast Franchise, Dominic Toretto this time abandons his family for some obscure reason. I really enjoy these films because they are so brain dead and is just easy entertainment, but this one was particularly ridiculous.

Hidden Figures: So.Much.Love. It is heartwarming and beautiful with excellent performances, and I am so happy the film was released in such an important time in history. Not only is it about racial prejudice, it is about female empowerment, determination, love, courage and there are also great scenes of the early days of NASA.

Walk the line

Walk The Line: I was SO proud when I finally watched this – I’ve had the DVD on my shelf for many years now, and I remember hearing people rave about it but I never really made the effort to see for myself. Well, it was great, and a great Blindspot choice for me.

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The Girl on the Train: It was okay. I enjoyed Blunt (I always do), and her supporting female co-stars where all very strong. I also really do like Luke Evans. The big plot twist – I caught it half right so I was marginally impressed. Definitely not as good as Gone Girl, but interesting all the same.

Easy A (Official Movie Poster)

Easy A (2010): Emma Stone is one of my favourite young Hollywood stars. She’s just so incredibly talented and really funny. Easy A is some of her earlier work and she’s hilarious as Olive Pendergast. If I ever have daughters I hope they are like Olive – not willing to take bad behaviour from friends, loyal, hilarious, inventive and wildly inappropriate.

Wild Child

Wild Child (2008): Many people wouldn’t necessarily like this film, but I really do. It is one of my favourite teen movies, and although it isn’t as sharp as Easy A, Mean Girls, Heathers or Clueless (other favourites), it still remains one of the nicest things to watch, reminiscent of a time where Emma Roberts and Alex Pettyfer were clean cut, sweet individuals (probably not that sweet).

australia

Australia (2008): One of Baz Luhrman’s work I have had the least exposure to, Australia is a tribute to the wild and terrifying glory that is the continent of Australia. Hugh Jackman is ridiculously attractive, wildly blown out of proportion delicious, and the dainty and unexpectedly hilarious Nicole Kidman impressed me with some of the humour she injected into her character. This was definitely a great watch and I will watch it more in the future

clueless

Clueless: Clueless is one of my favorite “high-school” films. It is so silly and sweet and Paul Rudd is so adorable and Alicia Silverstone is so friggin adorable. You can’t feel bad after watching something like this, you just can’t.

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Books:

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Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn I actually started reading this after The Girl on The Train, because it made me want to explore more thrillers. I am really enjoying so far and finding the writer pretty good at telling a story.

Hot Rocks: Nora Roberts I can’t decide whether it will be worth my time actually reviewing this. I’ve now successfully proven to bestie that I can actually read and review a book and then just not remember it, and it might very well happen with this novel. It wasn’t bad and I actually had a pretty great time, but it feels superfluous reviewing every single Nora Roberts book I read

Book Review: Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

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Plot: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

*Contains spoilers*

I had such a good experience finally reading Gone Girl. I watched the movie  in 2014 (I can’t believe it’s’ been three years!) and rated it my favorite film of 2014  . I plan on watching it soon again to be able to compare with the book, which I’ve owned almost equally as long but didn’t have the inclination to read. Finally picking up the novel was a good idea. I have the slight wish of not having seen the film before I read the book, because instead of discovering that plot twist I was merely awaiting it’s arrival. Would I have seen it coming? I don’t think so. Amy’s diary entries are so sweet and caring and she seems stupidly devoted and optimistic towards her marriage. Nick seems desperate and slimy and an all-around horrible spouse, a man whose frail ego was damaged when he lost his job and his wife didn’t fawn over him all the time. Amy seems like a sweet-hearted fool for about half of the book and then you get to know the psychotic sociopath beneath her pretty exterior.

Gone Girl has a fast tempo and I found it written well. I enjoyed Flynn’s writing style and the way her character’s thought patterns works. The characters are flawed indeed. I sincerely hope there aren’t any Amy’s’ out there in the real world. Amy and Nick are both repulsing, and they are a strong reminder to know your partner very well before even contemplating marriage.

Gone Girl is not a book that celebrates the best in human kind or is sweet, fluffy or romantic. It is full of nasty realizations about relationships and how bad they can be. I have to say that while I usually pick up more lighthearted novels I did enjoy this one. It’s more realistic than most though there are elements which are hopefully too shocking to be true.

I wasn’t fond of the end. Amy gets away with so much and in return she gets more leverage over Nick and no repercussions.  It jarred with my (and probably everybody’s) sense of justice. Nick in no way deserves an easy existence – he really is quite a slime ball, but Amy getting everything she wants just didn’t feel right and had the book fall slightly on its’ face in the end – like a Goosebumps for adults, the world isn’t rid of Amy’s evil.

It is just a thought here, but I think the book can also send a negative message to the world. So many women are murdered by their husbands, are abused and discarded when they cease to hold interest for their spouses, where a book where the female is clearly the villain and clearly a psychopath does not do well for the eradication for these murders.

Gone Girl was a good read, highlighting the craziness that a couple can bring forth in one another. It’s (hopefully) much dramatized but kept me entertained for the entirety of the book. Have you read Gone Girl? Let me know!

Rating: 8/10