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!

Watched, Read, Loved: October 2017

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My battle cry should be: “What a Month!”. 2017 in particular has felt like a whirlwind. Every month, so busy, so rushed. Work has been mad. Growing career wise is exhausting. There have been a number of unpleasantness in my team – people resigning, a sexual harassment case (super happy to report that my esteem for my company rose with how they handled the matter), and naturally just the normal amount of pettiness, drama, laziness and idiocy I’ve come to expect from working professionals. However, that said, some demented part of me enjoys working in such a difficult environment. It is enormously satisfying when people bend to your will, see your point, praise your efforts and start acting less like two year olds. I’m probably going to go crazy while doing it, but man, what a ride.

Some things are stressing me out still – waiting for my final results to get my degree is one particular one, and my University is as relaxed about releasing results as they usually are. It is so frustrating to be on a cliff, waiting for an answer, so close to the finish line. That and the course was pretty damn hard, so I am STRESSED. One moment I am convinced I passed and the next moment I’m sure I failed. I’m not the most pleasant person to be around right now, of that I can assure you.

I am also planning my oldest sister’s baby shower. She’s married with a baby on the way; I applaud myself when I comb my hair in the morning. These are the paths we take. However, planning an event is something that always stresses me out – I am such a perfectionist and if I don’t feel something is nice, I get really grumpy. With that is all the baby things too – stressing me out, because my ovaries are going to die soon (I might remove that sentence, I might not). Looking at children in the mall and wondering why anyone would put up with that is what I think of the most, yet at the same time there is something to be said about leaving a legacy. But I also like having my entire salary to myself, and let me tell you, pregnancy seems to come with many ailments that makes me want to revise my previous notion that pregnancy isn’t a sickness.

To load more on my plate, I’ve literally started loading things off my plate. That’s right – I’m at the “healthy lifestyle” game again. It’s a pretty pompous term, but I enjoy using it and it is certainly a better one than the word diet. I’m taking it very basic – cutting out most carbs and eating veggies and protein, with lots of water. I don’t drink any sugar carbonated drinks, so that isn’t a problem, but I do consume copious amounts of Coke Light. Working on lessening that too, as my primary objective is living as clean as possible and not consuming pseudo junk. I like to think I’ve become a regular at our local Parkrun, my total tally of walks is now somewhere around ten. I’ve even done one on my own, because I’ve realized that fitness and companionship aren’t always something that can happen at the same time. So far I’ve lost 3kg, which is obviously slower than I’d like, but it is a consistent trend downwards that makes me happy. I am also sleeping better and feeling more alert, which are two things I desperately needed.

So after an entire dialogue about all my problems, here’s what went down entertainment wise this month.

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017): This was one of the big ones I wanted to see. My darling favorite superhero returned to the big screen, and I was ready. Thor has never been my favorite franchise of Marvel, but on a science level it has always worked really well. This time around Waititi joined in to direct (and star), and I actually watched it TWO times in cinema – super super rare for me. The second watch did highlight some issues – some of the pacing is off, especially by Tessa Thompson, but it was still so much fun that I am not willing to alter the 8.5/10 I gave it.

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It was also Halloween month, so I picked up Hocus Pocus for the very first time in my life. It was okay, I’ve definitely seen worse and better, but I did enjoy the drama of the three witches and how excellently they acted it out.

Dis Koue Kos, Skat, was my Afrikaans feature for the month. Think Eat, Pray, Love, with less praying (and travelling). Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe, a South-African film legend, stars in this excellent film as a newly divorced woman settling into her new life. I had  a lot of fun with it.

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Lego: Ninjago movie (2017) – This was October as well?! October WAS a long month! I had a lot more fun with this than I thought I would, which is saying something.

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Star Trek (2009) – it took me nearly ten years to watch this, and I am happy that I finally did. Review coming soon.

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I kept it pretty simple this month with reading, revisiting the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It’s simple reading, perfect for stressful days where you just need a bit of chill and sexy vampires.

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The real reason for the little amount of movie watching that went down can be pinned to Spartacus. I finally started the series. It’s pretty good despite awful dialogue, though just not one of the shows to watch with your parents / child. EVER.

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What have you been up to this month?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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

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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

Watched, Read, Loved: August 2017

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Yay! It’s spring! (I am writing this up quickly in September). The weather has turned me into a positive, upbeat person for the time being. There is something to be said to drive to work and the sun is actually up when you get there, so I am pretty thankful. The saddest thing is naturally not being in the sun during the day, but it makes life worth it.

Life-wise, we went to the Modderfontein nature reserve for a friend’s birthday. It’s quite lovely, and as it is not the one I usually head to for a it-doesn’t-feel-like-the-city feel, it felt like a new place to see in the concrete jungle I live in. Had some amazing cupcakes too, which changed my life – like WOW.

I also watched the international Dota championships – like, I still don’t know how that happened. I hope to have actually played this game by next year to have a clue what is happening.

I also did a Parkrun – naturally the morning was chillier than all the rest, but I did one. I’d love to 1) make better time 2) remember my barcode and 3) get fitter. We are doing an international health challenge at work, starting the 27th of September, and the aim is 10 000 steps a day. It is scary because I don’t think I manage 2000 a day at this stage.

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Ghost (1990) – I really thoroughly enjoyed Ghost. The effects had me giggling, while the youth of Swayze and Demi Moore was really pretty to look at. Definitely one of the best Blindspots this year, though my selection has been pretty on point if I say so myself.

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The Intern (2015) – you can read my review here. The Intern is a heartwarming film with a great message, and I had a great time.

Ella Enchanted (2004) – I seemed to have had a lot of exposure to Anne Hathaway this month, but I’m not complaining as I really like both films. Hathaway is joined by Hugh Dancy, who has the most perfect face to play any form of a Prince. So handsome. This is a really fun movie, and I always enjoy it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) – yes, again. Don’t judge.

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Sully (2016) – probably my favorite watch this month, Sully is inspirational and I was on the edge of my seat. Highly recommended.

Wild (2014) – Wild is a prime example why I don’t like real life adaptions. The lead character was uninspiring and selfish, and a track across the NST couldn’t convince me to root for her.

Mean Girls (2004) – Is Mean Girls the most quotable movie of all time? This movie is definitely one of my favorite films ever. It is relatable, accurate, hilarious and just so much fun.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them (2016) – I have a friend who was really outraged that I talked smack about this film. His attempt to convince me was to have me watch it at home in Bluray with 3D Glasses. I don’t have the heart to say that just because something is pretty to look at it means it is good, but it did improve on rewatch.

series

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Stranger Things – the amounts of hearts I want to draw around this show. STRANGER THINGS IS EVERYTHING AND I NEED MORE NOW. The soundtrack, the premise, the whole I difference of it all, the miraculous amount of kids who can actually act. I was told by ten million people to watch Stranger Things, and now, after watching, my life is richer as a result. I need the second season now. Like NOW.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 – I joined everyone and their grandma’s to watch the amazing penultimate season of Game of Thrones. I still need to do a recap of the last two episodes, which are some of the best this show as given us.

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Vampire Diaries Season 7 and 8

Season 7 nearly sunk the show for me. The departure of Nina Dobrev proved to be a terrible blow to the show. The odd thing is that Season 7 started fine and halfway just lost the plot. It became so bad that Damon slipped in his number one ranking for me, and was replaced by Enzo. Even after being done with the show, Enzo remains as number one. I need to find it in me to review the last two seasons, but man, some things just can’t be forgiven, DAMON.

books

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The Rise of Nine (Pittacus Lore)

I am steadily working my way through the Lorien Legacies series of Pittacus Lore. I am enjoying the Rise of Nine quite a bit, although I still find the battles way too frequent and drawn out.

The Gunslinger (Stephen King)

Finally, I am also trying to attempt to work my way through The Gunslinger. I really like Stephen King’s way – I’m not always sure whether his books are for me, the man is amazing with words. I was about 5 sentences in when I googled a word to check what it means, and that rarely happens for me. I’ll still have to see what the book is all about, and hope to finish at least the first one.

What have you been up to this month?

Book Review: Jewels of the Sun (Nora Roberts)

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Plot: Determining to reevaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, immersing herself in the study of Irish Folk and discovers hope for the future of the magical past.

Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses an uncommon understanding of his country’s haunting myths. Although he’s devoted to managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his stormy eyes–and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her–while they create a passionate history of their own..

Rating: 6.5/10

I always think that I have read all that there is to read with Roberts. I think of her work in four categories – her JD Robb work I haven’t really touched, her thriller mysteries which I devour,  her romance trilogies such as this, which I really thought I had covered them all, and her Mills and Boon novels which I really rarely, rarely venture in to.

So when I the Gallaher family series naturally I had to investigate. There is a clear distinction between  Nora Roberts writing Irish stories and real Irish writers writing Irish stories. They can’t be grouped together and Roberts really writes perfectly nice books about them but it is clear she doesn’t have the cultural grasp of the nation as the authentic ones do. Her characters are nearly cartoonish with their cultural habits and they are all, always, the “black Irish”. But anyway, I’m not here to bash one of my favorite authors, that is just the impression I wanted to share with you.

Jude Murray – who names their child Jude? – is unsure of who she is when she lands in Ireland. Since we’ve all been there I won’t really blame her. She meets the incredibly attractive and remarkable single bar owner, Aidan Gallagher. She’s clearly immediately what he’s been waiting for his whole life, and he finds her neurosis and anal personality endearing and not irritating as shit. (Because this is a totally legitimate love story). But there is more – Jude is living with the town ghost, who has been cursed to stay as a ghost in eternity because she spurned a proud Prince Fairy’s advances when she was a married woman. Men and their fragile egos aren’t made for positions of power. So there are some conversations with ghosts and fairies and sad souls all in the midst of Jude and Aidan falling in love, and we are kept entertained and a little flabbergasted throughout the book.

Despite all my mean spirited thoughts, I actually did like this book. It is innocent, empty fun and you don’t have to think way too much about it. Despite the cartoonish cultural attachments, I enjoy Aidan. He’s obviously written to be a hero and he’s good at that. Jude is my favorite of the three female characters in the trilogy – Darcy is a gold digger and Brenna was written as this fiercely independent woman who really wasn’t a fiercely independent woman. Jude might be neurotic and insecure but she’s the most believable of the three female leads. The entire trilogy didn’t need the ghost element – it is certainly not the main focus of these romance novels, and it mostly feels pushed in to breathe some life into the often lagging plot.

Anyone looking anywhere for some real characters or even just a love story that feels legitimate will probably not like this. If you are in the midst of stressful exams like I was, this might just get you through the week and prevent you of beating your zoology professor to death.

Watched, Read, Loved: June and July 2017

*warning: gargantuan post ahead*

I want to start every post now with “yes, it’s me, and I am still alive”. What a couple of months this has been! July has hands down just been the slowest month in everything for me. It was a roller coaster – I was away in Nelspruit end of June to bid my bestie goodbye, then for two weeks in Potchefstroom for university work and then I had to rush to finalize my younger sister’s 21st birthday. And when I looked down at the date it was suddenly the 19th of July and there were no blog posts from me! SHOCK, HORROR. So I am trying to move my blog into activity again, and herewith some of my favorite posts, a Watched, Read, Loved list for both June and July. I really hope to be back to full time blogging in August, I’ve really missed everyone and the feeling of having a creative outlet.

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I started off June by watching Wonder Woman (2017). I’m not really a weeper, but let me tell you I was misty eyed reading some of the truly excellent tributes that poured in. Little girls in costumes, women everywhere just flooding cinemas to watch a superhero films and all the financial and critical acclaim that accompanied this film just filled my heart. I can’t do any more justice to this excellent work of director Patty Jenkins that has already been done, but I assure you that I will always try.

Say Anything

I also saw Say Anything (1987) for the first time. I can now put a film to the iconic John Cusack pose that is everywhere on the internet, and I’m not really surprised that I enjoyed this film because it is right up my alley. It is a short, fun and easy watch and really good in its’ genre. I must post its review soon but a severe case of apathy towards typing out reviews has taken hold of me at this stage.

 

I also saw Rules Don’t Apply (2016) which has the unfortunate distinction of being one fantastic box office fail. It’s not really bad, it is just frustratingly boring. It could have been great with its excellent set design and costumes, solid acting and notable performances. It just lacked heart and a decent turn of events.

I picked up Mother’s Day (2016) to watch with my own mother, because I can promise you Gary Marshall won’t be putting too risqué sex scenes in any of his films. I was right – there is little to no romance. If you can get past the notion that Jennifer Aniston is supposed to be the old, washed out mom in here, you will likely enjoy it. Julia Roberts is hidden under the most horrible wig I have ever seen, but the film is sparingly okay and has some legitimately funny moments in. It also casts Jason Sudeikis, and I have never seen him in anything except this and that godawful We’re the Millers – can someone tell me why he’s famous?

I also watched Bad Moms (2016) which was rather fun and hilarious. I know, I was shocked too.

Then there was Jackie (2016), a movie that got an Oscar nod for Natalie Portman. While her performance certainly deserves a nod, the movie itself is quite slow and not really worth the hype.

On the Afrikaans movie front I watched Platteland again. It is such an intense musical, and as Afrikaans as can be. I really do have a fondness of locally produced movies, and my plan to branch a part of this blog off into local films will hopefully happen sometime.

Homecoming

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) was a first of three July cinema watches for me. I really still struggle to formulate thoughts on this film. I sincerely didn’t hate it, but I have struggled to see the reason for Spiderman for years now, and this reboot even more so. Tom Holland is okay I guess. I particularly liked Zendaya. I think it is safe to say while I still have time for amazing and new superhero films (such as Wonder Woman), the generic Marvel film has become somewhat of a repetitive bore.

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I still cannot believe that I refreshed my makeup, made sure my outfit was okay and went out on a damn Friday night (this is torture for me) to watch Valerian and a City of a thousand planets. You will see that review hopefully Friday, but heads-up: I hated it.

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I also saw Dunkirk this last weekend and that at least was worth my time. Christopher Nolan is the salve to every hurt a bombastic Bay/Snyder movie throws out, and the beautiful, heart wrenching film hit me quite in the feels.

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Series:

Yes, I know. I need to tame this wild Pride and Prejudice obsession that has gotten over me. Not only did I see the 2005 film AGAIN – this is in addition to the watch I did in May of it, I also got my hands on the 1995 series version of it. I am a bit torn. I’ve read far and wide that it is the best adaption, and while it is certainly the most faithful adaption, I really hated the score – classical music makes me want to pull my hair out.

I finally started watching Alias season 4. It isn’t bad, still has plenty of Michael Vartan in, and I want to finish it before it somehow gets spoiled by the internet for me.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 6: Season five of this vampire-tastic show took me ages to finalize. It was slow, badly planned and really unimaginative in some places. I am glad to report that season six is wonderful – it is the first season with really legitimately funny moments in, and I am having a fantastic time.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This is still ongoing and I am avoiding people or comments like the plague who have watched it – the internet is the rudest place ever.

books

On the reading front I haven’t been exactly revolutionary, but I have picked up Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. I have never read anything by this author, and I am really enjoying it so far. It is fast paced plot and is well written with likeable characters. I didn’t think I would like a lawyery story, but it seems I was mistaken. I’ve hit a lag with it, and should really finish it up. I’ve slightly changed my opinion with the events that just loops all the time.

I have reread a bunch of Nora Roberts novels – Blue Smoke, The Obsession and some small ones which I really can’t recall the names of. I’ve also picked up Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, and I will review the entire trilogy once I am finished with the third book.

come sundown

I am also now reading Come Sundown – I did all the dance moves when I got a special on Loot (online shopping rocks) for this new release of Roberts. I always weep because I’m just not okay with forking out the prices retailers ask in South-Africa for new releases, so this was quite a score. I can tell you now that there is something different to Come Sundown. I will see how it ends, but it is one of the most unique books Roberts has ever done, and the tone is quite different from what she usually does.

I also should really get in to finalizing those 100 Happy Days post on here. They are just so much work and admin that I am not in the mood. I did finish the challenge, and you can few that all on my Instagram account.

As for adventures, I quickly went down to my bestie to see her one more time before she goes on her international adventure. The next time I see her will be in London, which at this stage is simply mind boggling to me.