Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

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The Folk of the Air #2

SYNOPSIS: You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world. – via Goodreads

OMG. OMG. Like really now! So as you know, I quite liked The Cruel Prince, and I was looking forward to seeing how things were going to go after Jude played all her fancy pants tricks on Cardan and burnt her bridges with Madoc and family.

So starting up shortly after the end of all the trickery, the book gets right down to business. While I do think the logic of Jude deceiving Cardan into bearing the crown as king was a little uneven, it is how we get the story. I mean I understand the whole concept of them wanting Oak to rule, but it just seems sketchy, conning Madoc out of the regency and forcing Cardan in.

Naturally, things are a little different between Jude and Cardan now, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Like, there was finally more interaction between them – he wasn’t just some character off in the distance anymore. Cardan and Jude have a strange relationship, and it is fantastic. I love the tension built between them, and the misery and the longing and the anger. I have a lot of time for it. It is not the newest of all relationships ever written or anything, but I appreciate the way Black has built them. I am also quite taken with the concept of fairies not being able to lie, because it gives another dynamic to the games that they are playing with each other. 

The Wicked King certainly delivers the goods in terms of events and things happening, scheming, wheeling, and dealing. I do enjoy how that was all woven together, and things are certainly becoming more intense. There was so much cracking with the war brewing, so obviously I was sold. There is backstabbing and desperation, devious and calculating plans, mayhem, so yes. I liked the way the book was written, barrelling along and flowing and keeping you super hooked. There are characters you are never going to like, and others you do. Jude and Madoc also have a rather strained connection, and it is interesting to read about, with so much going on in it.

Also, the end of Chapter 15? Whoooooo *fans self*.

I wasn’t even finished with this when I pre-ordered the last book in the trilogy. January seems like it is forever and a day away! I say that these books are so worth the read!

Review: Killing November – Adriana Mather

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Killing November #1

SYNOPSIS: It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim. – via Goodreads

So it is rather well known that I was a huge fan of How to Hang a Witch, and that I thoroughly enjoyed the follow up, Haunting the Deep. When I saw Mather was bringing a new book, I was stoked. I then saw that it was not part of the series, but figured why not? Why shouldn’t I be equally as excited? I preordered the book even, and was so happy when it arrived. However, I was in the midst of a Shadowhunter reread, and so it waited until I was good and ready, which was while I was off sick recently.

The disappointment was real peeps. So painful. I really wanted to love this. I think Mather is super sweet and cool and I really enjoyed her other books, but this was a fantastical chore to work through. There are no likable characters, the romance is so flat (I mean seriously, we had Sam and Elijah in the last books and I couldn’t get enough of that). The concept, too, is something that could have been amazing (think John Wick type schooling), but instead you get this… lame stuff to wade through. The events weren’t exciting, the history was bland, the characters sucked, and just overall, this didn’t play like I was hoping it would. Oh well.

I was even more horrified by the time I reached the end of the book, though I can’t deny I did see this coming. It is only the first book in a series. Instead of engendering excitement for me, I am just flat. We need more from the How to Hang a Witch series, it worked so much better. Anyway, reading reviews on Goodreads, it would seem that my opinion is in the minority and this is wildly popular with most other people. Me? Not so much. I honestly will not be going out for the next book.

Review: Dangerous Lady – Martina Cole

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Maura Ryan #1

SYNOPSIS: No one thinks a seventeen-year-old girl can take on the hard men of London’s gangland, but it’s a mistake to underestimate Maura Ryan: she’s tough, clever and beautiful —and she’s determined that nothing will stand in her way. Which makes her one very dangerous lady.

Together, she and her brother Michael are unbeatable: the Queen and King of organised crime, they run the pubs and clubs, the prostitutes and pimps of the West End. With Maura masterminding it, they pull off an audacious gold bullion robbery and have much of the Establishment in their pockets.

But notoriety has its price. The police are determined to put Maura away once and for all —and not everyone in the family thinks that’s such a bad idea. When it comes to the crunch, Maura has to face the pain of lost love in her past —and the dangerous lady discovers her heart is not made entirely of stone. – via Goodreads

 

Oh man, I haven’t read these books since I was in high school, and I recently got a library card for the library down the road from me (amazing, first one I have had since I was a young girl). When I saw this on the shelf, I was like REREAD TIME! It had been so long that I remembered bits and pieces, and thought it was time to look at the overall whole again. So damn pleased I did.

Martina Cole usually writes about the gritty London underbelly, and I read a lot of her books in high school. They won’t be for everyone. However, I do feel that this book stands above her others (and I am not a huge fan of her work in general). It’s excellent. Dangerous Lady is a masterfully crafted affair. It is a whole family that rises above, takes over London, rules over an empire. You all know how I love my mobster style stories. This was no exception.

There are an abundance of characters littered throughout this book, but you never get lost and forget them, and I feel that that alone is masterfully crafted. Maura, too, is a fantastic character. She is a unique character, a strong woman, who rose higher than what society said she was allowed to for her era. She is complex, and remains so throughout. The relationship between her and Michael is really something, too, as those two are thick as thieves.

The writing flows smoothly and the way the plot is presented and how time advances throughout the novel to tell the story of the Ryan family is good, too. It just fits. You cannot help but be drawn into this world, and it comes across and gritty, dangerous, and wholly believable. It just draws you in. The book doesn’t have a whole lot of twists, but that is alright. This is more of a family drama that comes to power and just overall great to read, especially when you take into consideration how old Cole was when she wrote this.

Overall Dangerous Lady is an absolutely absorbing read, has a great story and an array of characters and situations that will keep you hooked and it just barrels along. I loved every second of it and highly recommend this.

Review: The Perfect Date (2019)

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SYNOPSIS: To save up for college, Brooks Rattigan creates an app where anyone can pay him to play the perfect stand-in boyfriend for any occasion. – via IMDB

Having an apathetic vibe about picking something to watch one weekend, I figured that The Perfect Date might be the perfect movie because it would require absolutely no investment on my behalf, and probably no need to think, either. The movie absolutely delivered on all fronts in that regard.

The movie totally does not come along and revolutionise the genre. Not even close. This doesn’t make it terrible, it just makes it… ordinary. It’s like… I don’t really have much to say about the movie. I know that sounds bad, but it is true. So this dude essentially sells dates to girls, and falls for the first girl he took out, the one who started the idea. Generic recipe follows of strife with friends and strife with the girl and then happy ending. There. Boom. That is the whole movie, and nothing more. There are no characters that shine above others, there is no conflict that you can really sink your teeth into, there is no meat, essentially, and because it fails to present you with something new, it has absolutely nothing that sets it above anything else, or make you remember it.

The Perfect Date is a simple, straightforward movie. Nothing we haven’t seen before, and that can be comfortable, although not thrilling. What the movie does have going for it is Noah Centineo, as he really is a chilled and charming lead, and slips on the character effortlessly. He is pretty much what keeps you watching. The movie is cheesy, at times boring, at all times predictable, but it is not the worst movie you will ever spend your time on. It is so generic that it won’t stick with you for very long at all, but won’t crush your soul while watching it. There are too many other movies that have done this story before, and done it way better (read: 10 Things I Hate About You).

Review: Easy A (2010)

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easy a movie poster“The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.”
– Olive Penderghast

SYNOPSIS: A clean-cut high school student relies on the school’s rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing. – via IMDB

I am not really into comedies, but every now and then you get a good one. One that is sharp and witty and doesn’t take itself too seriously or try too hard. Easy A was that one for me. I thoroughly enjoy Emma Stone, so to watch a film where she is leading lady is excellent. Olive is smart and intelligent and has an incredibly good sense of humour and Emma Stone brings out those qualities really well. I must say though that I can see how she got so flat about the reputation she had garnered, though how/why the hell she let it get so out of hand is beyond me.

Amanda Bynes cracked me up, definitely the kind of person that I would stay hundreds of kilometres away from –  what a nutcase and a silly bitch (yep, gonna put it out there just like that). It is a feel good movie to watched an A student go on to be the town bicycle, if only by reputation, and take it to a certain extent.

The relationship between Olive and Woodchuck Todd was quite sweet, and that he was the one that stood by her no matter what is pretty awesome. The way she embraced her role as the scarlet woman was terrible, though she rocked it. Olive’s family was definitely entertaining for me, and the banter that went on between them was truly crazy and funny. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci played the parents excellently.

I like Easy A, it was a fun movie that did not take the romance in it to extremes or make it the central point, only something that becomes evident later. Before that it is all about Olive and the silly mistakes that she makes that will take her to where she is. I definitely enjoyed this one, well worth a watch.

Review: The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

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The Folk of the Air #1

SYNOPSIS: Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. – via Goodreads

After taking forever to schlepp through another book, I wanted something that wasn’t going to make me pull out my hair in frustration and feel like work. I decided to give this a shot to see how it would work out, and boy oh boy, I had absolutely no idea it was going to spark my latest obsession. 

I really liked the opening for The Cruel Prince. Like, right off the bat we have strife and murder and the book keeps rolling from there. Holly Black gets to the story quick as can be, and I appreciate that. A story set in Faerie is always something that can either work really well for me, or backfire completely. This is certainly in the former category.

I really liked the world that Black creates, and I appreciate how complex the story is, and you don’t even realise. I only got to grips with it when trundling along in my book when all sorts of freaking crazy broke out, and I was like “whaaaaa?!” and my husband asked what was cracking because (of course) I was very vocal while reading. Dear lord, that explanation started simply enough, and then I was backtracking and breaking stuff down and then I realised that there was so much more going on, but Black has woven it in such a way that it feels straightforward and simple enough, but gives you tons to pick apart.

The relationship between Madoc and Jude is such a complex one, and I am really interested to see what comes of this one. Madoc himself is a rather layered character, and I truly hope he is not wasted. I am not too keen on either Tarynor Vivi, but I guess we will have to see where that all goes. Cardan is a character who is hateful, and yet the more you get into it, the more complex he becomes. Obviously the whole hate you thing with Jude is where it starts but won’t stay, but I do so like how it is done. 

Anyway, as you can tell, I really liked this. Here I thought I was in for a quick, easy read, and before I knew what was happening, I was hooked and enchanted. The story barrels along, the book is an easy, engaging read, and there is so much potential going on. Plus, there is the whole Jude and Cardan thing to keep your eyes peeled for, that could really turn into something.

Review: The Chestnut Man – Søren Sveistrup

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over. – via Goodreads

I got access to a copy of this awhile ago. The write up looked like my cup of tea, and a Scandinavian thriller/mystery is totally something I am on board for. As Jade said the other week, this is typically that story of a cop who neglects their home life in favour of saving other people and their loved ones. No different, box standard formula. Which would have been okay, except that it wasn’t.

I thought the story was going to be… more. So much more. But it was seriously bogged down by the writing, or (and I will freely admit this) the translation. There were plenty times while reading where I was like “oh dear, that could have been edited better, or translated more smoothly”, and it kept jarring me out of the story. I also feel that there is a ton of filler stuff, and that the book is filled with flat, bland characters. They are really by the numbers, nothing special… okay, except maybe for the fact that they were really daft. Almost wilfully stupid. I mean really. I know I am just the reader, but they were clunky and blind and, honestly, came across as incompetent more often than not. And I don’t mean the higher ups – I mean Thulin and Hess, our main pair.

Not only that, the author Søren Sveistrup weaves in a totally unnecessary and bland romance. It just came across as forced. I didn’t like that at all, and it pops up out of nowhere, and nothing comes of it. I mean they are trundling along, and all of a sudden they just want each other, then they don’t? What? Just, no. No.

So I am in the minority apparently about how I felt about this book – it seems other readers loved it. It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the characters or care about them, the book was very predictable in places, there was too much filler stuff between happenings, the logic is a little questionable, and the experience overall was not that great. The book felt like a super long read, so I didn’t love that, either. I just didn’t love The Chestnut Man, overall.

Review: Pet Sematary (2019)

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“It was a myth. Kids used to dare each other to go into the woods at night. They knew the power of that place. They feared it. Those woods belong to something else.”
– Jud Crandall

SYNOPSIS: Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. – via IMDB

After having a lot of fun at the cinemas recently, and completely forgetting that Pet Sematary was even still a thing, I saw the posters up for this and obviously decided I needed to see it. So, while I was maybe not expecting it to be It, or even The Mist (if we are looking purely at the more horror based side of King’s adapted works), I thought it would be a watchable movie, maybe not great, but entertaining. Plus, you know, I will watch Jason Clarke in just about anything.

Well, let me state it simply and succinctly: Pet Sematary sucked. I wasted time and money tripping out for it. And I took my husband, he is always keen on a horror. Then there was this, and it was just… rushed, sloppy, messy, and features a different story from the book. I felt that the movie was going downhill slowly pretty much from the minute that family arrives at the new house, and completely lost faith in the story as a whole by the time the wrong kid died. I mean, that is a driving point of the book! I know, I know, what lunacy is this, comparing a book and a movie? But honestly, you would think the basics would be the same. Also, I am capable of appreciating it for what it is and ignoring the book, but I really didn’t like this.

Anyway. Even the music was just meh in this. The movie was heavy handed trying for scares and failing miserably. The story doesn’t resonate at all and the characters are all flat caricatures. If there is one thing that Stephen King excels at, it is writing characters. This movie did not highlight that in the slightest. As much as I love Jason Clarke, this movie sucked. I wish it had been an okay movie, but it is not even that. I had serious regrets. I could have gone to see another movie. Any other movie.

Pet Sematary  isn’t very long at all, but it is absolutely chaotic – and not in the good way. Scenes jump all over the show, the content is heavy handed, there is nothing creepy or scary about it, and that whole child progression they are marketing on the posters? You see it once.  Skip this. Completely.

Review: Shazam (2019)

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“Billy Batson, I choose you as champion.”
– The Wizard

SYNOPSIS: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM. – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam. – via IMDB

I caught this on opening weekend and have just been faffing around about publishing. This wasn’t really on my radar until Zachary Levi was cast in it, and then I was sold. I mean really? Chuck Bartowski? Beyond sold! Then it was forgotten until a few months ago and I saw the trailer, and it looked like plenty of fun. When it was released, it was legitimately the first movie in months I was willing to go to the cinema to see. Glad I did.

Shazam certainly is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it. It is not the greatest movie of all time, but it is an easy watch. Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer have fantastic chemistry, and you can certainly tell that Levi is having a total ball. Asher Angel, too, is quite sweet as the young Billy Batson. I really liked how Victor and Rosa try to make a difference in these kids’ lives, and they seem to be such genuine, sweet people.

The third act of the movie is just a little bit too cheesy for my taste. It got a little bit too much and was a bit cringy, but not so much that it spoils the movie. I also feel that Mark Strong’s villain was very flat and generic and not really developed as much as he could have been. Also, some of the humour was most certainly geared at kids, but that isn’t really a problem because I think this is a great movie for kids.

Anyway, while Shazam has some issues, it is still amusing, and was certainly worth a watch.

Review: Where The Missing Go – Emma Rowley

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: My name is Kate.

I volunteer at a local charity – young people who have run away from home call me and I pass on messages to their loved ones, no questions asked.

I don’t get many phone calls, and those I do are usually short and vague, or pranks.

But this morning a girl named Sophie called.

I’m supposed to contact her parents to let them know their child is safe.

The problem is, Sophie isn’t safe.

And Sophie is my daughter. – via Goodreads

Alrighty, so the synopsis for this totally looked like my cup of tea, and I was pleased when I was granted access to it from Netgalley. When I started this book, I was quickly and easily drawn in, and that is good. The premise is interesting, and I think everyone’s nightmare – for their child to go missing. That being said, you quickly realise you don’t really know what’s cracking, and the book slowly gives up its secrets.

I didn’t love all the characters, and that is okay. I liked the story, even though I feel that sometimes the writing style and the pacing let the story down a bit. There were sections that were a little unbelievable and then there were moments where something happens that is so stupid you are just stumped. But the story still keeps you engaged, even when the story goes from “missing” to “runaway”, and you start wondering how Rowley is going to keep you going.

The book is a simple, fast read, and very engaging, as I said. It probably could have been slightly shorter, but it is not so long that you lose interest, or wonder why you have spent so much time. There are some lulls, but for the most part, the story moves along. It is hectic to think about parents that have gone through/are going through something like this, it is horrible. I don’t have too much to say, just that the book was well worth a read, and I enjoyed it. It was twisty at times, and while predictable in some places, it wasn’t like that when it counted. Definitely worth a look see.