Review: Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman

3

Practical Magic #1

SYNOPSIS: The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic… – via Goodreads

You know, I remember watching this movie when I was younger and enjoying it. I have not seen it in years, and I think I might give it a shot again. I might have to to see how it all comes together. Meanwhile, back to the book itself? I am not a fan. I don’t get how this is a cult classic. Practical Magic feels like a book that had high aspirations and shot for the stars and completely missed.

For one, I could have done with more magic. I mean way more. But then I was all like no worries, let’s go for an understated kind of magic, but it even manages to let you down. There are sections of the book that should get under your skin and give you a creep factor and a fear for the characters, but that, too, is glanced over so quickly and you never really get to sink your teeth int any kind of emotion. I think a big issue for me is that I am not a fan of the style in which Hoffman wrote this. It’s just… rushed, like you are reading someone’s notes for an idea for the story.

I did like the way the sisters were with each other, how they pulled together and pushed apart the whole time. There were also Sally’s daughters, whom I liked. I thought the relationship between Kylie and Gideon to be so sweet and childlike, and it worked. The love angle for this book was seriously just… meh. Bland. Forced. Rushed. Senseless. There are so many words that I could use here to describe it, but it just fell flat.

As you can tell, Practical Magic was not my favourite read. It’s a book that feels incomplete and rushed, and I don’t get the love for it. There were aspects I truly enjoyed and plenty of places where I could see the awesomeness trying to break through, but overall it was a complete waste for me. Oh well. I can say I have read it now at least.

Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

9

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: The Perfect Date (2019)

2

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: The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

5

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: Come Sundown – Nora Roberts

4

SYNOPSIS: Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together. – via Goodreads

Ah yes, another Roberts for me. This one was one of her better ones, as I really liked this one. It had an incredibly dark side to it that, for once, Roberts didn’t really shy away from, which worked for me. Maybe because I like dark and gritty, and her novels usually provide easy reading and very little investment.

Come Sundown is like a big family saga. Yes, sure, we know that Roberts really nails that down, and I have found that all her books that feature that more prominently are the ones I like more than average. This one worked really well. I liked the characters, I liked the family, I was interested in the resort and business they had set up and how it came together. I feel that the triple romances were bland, but no shocker there, and that some of the characters were more hollow than others. Okay, most, but yeah. Then, of course, there is the Alice aspect to it, and that is intense.

Granted, not as intense as reading, say, Karin Slaughter, but by Roberts standards it was intense and rather graphic. To read about Alice’s disappearance and the animal that had kidnapped her and broken her was rough. Just thinking about it and all that she suffered through it heartbreaking. I think that Roberts tied story in quite solidly with the story of the ranch and all really well. There wasn’t really a hitch in the story and it worked.

Okay, so then there is the romance. It is nothing special, nothing new, and Roberts, of course, played out her recipe as always. Man falls is love with strong woman, bends her to his will, decides they will be in love and get married, the woman will come around eventually. After all, strong as she is, she is still a damsel that needs saving. Yep. That’s it. Luckily this book brings more to the table than just a predictable romance. Also, my eyes were rolling at the whole bar fight and all that. I, personally, do not think it is sexy when a man wants to mission out and give another man a beatdown, and makes it this big affair. Not manly, just so stupid. Once you’ve exceeded your teens, get over that crap. So stupid.

Anyway, Come Sundown is a good read. It flows well, features a fun family and great interactions between the characters, and is interesting. It also has a dark side to it that weaves itself into the story quite well. Granted, the more modern dark side in this is a bit messy, and not unpredictable at all, but the original starting point? Really good.

Review: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

10

 

“I don’t like to do what people expect.Why should I live up to other people’s expectations instead of my own?”
– Kat Stratford

SYNOPSIS: A pretty, popular teenager can’t go out on a date until her ill-tempered older sister does. – via IMDB

This is such a classic in my opinion. I have seen it plenty of times and I still love it. There is so much about it that just screams the nineties but it pulls it off. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this movie, and it is still a blast from start to finish. It has held up really well after all these years.

Everyone does a great job with their characters. Julia Stiles is a fantastic, bitter girl, Heath Ledger is fantastic as the outcast bad boy, Larisa Oleynik is a suitably spoiled brat, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is that sweet boy-next-door type. There are so many characters to talk about here so I will not really get into them all. It’s a sweet, fun story with plenty of humour in it. No matter how many times I have seen this, there are still things I laugh at. 10 Things I Hate About You is also super quotable, and will stay with you long after you have moved on.

The humour is great and the story keeps you hooked throughout. There are so many little things that come together in this to make it worth the watch, and I loved to see how certain characters interacted with others. The soundtrack also totally works with the movie. I thought the rumour mill surrounding Patrick was absolutely amazing, too. While this is not the most original and unpredictable movie ever, it is done so well and the cast work so well together that it still has a fresh feeling to it. Also, I absolutely love the chemistry between Stiles and Ledger.

So much has been said about this fantastic movie over the years, and there is not really much that I can contribute to the discussion. I will just say that 10 Things I Hate About You is quirky and sweet and has heart and gets me every time. It manages the fine balance between sweet but not sappy, and I appreciate that. It is the kind of movie that guys and girls alike can enjoy. The movie is bags of fun every time and I highly recommend it, and not just because of the nostalgia!

Also, could we just take a moment to admire Heath Ledger in this??

Review: City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare

2

The Mortal Instruments #5

SYNOPSIS: What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? – via Goodreads

Well, here we go, back to something that reads more like a Mortal Instruments novel. City of Fallen Angels really felt like filler nonsense, and I wasn’t a fan really, but City of Lost Souls starts taking us back to the things that we love in the series.

Gosh, I was so torn about all the Jace and Clary scenes here. There were times where you laughed and could picture this Jace as Jace as we know him (gosh, I know how that sentence looks and reads), but at the same time you know it isn’t really Jace. Gah, I can just imagine how Clary felt. Like we have been shipping Clary and Jace from the beginning, and then here you get sections of them together here but it’s not right. Nooooooo!

There is also that business with Alec being a complete and utter fool about the Magnus thing. I just want to reach out and slap him. His jealousy in City of Fallen Angels was super annoying and against character, but the stupid things he is getting into here with Camille really make me mad. I have shipped Alec and Magnus since Magnus told him to give him a call after the unfortunate party where Simon turned into a rat. I love them together, and what Alec has been doing is not okay!

So the story in here is back to much better. It is indeed a slow burn, but it is worth the read, and the payoff is so worth it. Sebastian really is a crooked, great villain. I mean I have been waiting for him to come back since City of Glass, as he is too good an opportunity to pass up, and I really liked seeing what Clare has done with him. I was interested to see what type of villain he would be, and so far, worse than Valentine it would seem, and I am enjoying it. I am so looking forward to more of the struggle against him.

City of Lost Souls is a return to form in the Mortal Instruments series, and has the series finally finding its feet again. We get great characters again and there is development going on again, though maybe not as much as before. I enjoyed this, and I have to say, I am so hooked on these books.

Review: City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare

2

The Mortal Instruments #4

SYNOPSIS: The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace. – via Goodreads

Okay, I am going to admit immediately that, of the four books in the series so far, this one is without a doubt the most uninspired. It could have ultimately been a short story, but instead was too long for a short story, but too short for a proper novel for this series (the books are longer). It was also totally unstructured and unsure of what it wanted to be, only starting to materialise with a point to the story near the end, which is a pity. Not the worst book to read, it just not have the oomph of its predecessors.

City of Fallen Angels blunders around. We finally get to read about Jace and Clary without that horrible sibling thing going on, and instead we get sulky teens avoiding each other and having no real idea what is going on. Like… they finally became the stereotype you fear in these kinds of books. There is no actual heat between them anymore (like there has been) and they are whining to everyone but each other. There is not really much character development in this one. Alec turns into a hot, jealous mess about Magnus, and it is not endearing or even funny. If anything, it will chap your ass because Alec has never been like this in any of the other books, which is so annoying. Why is this a thing now? Stop your crap Alec!

So no real plot or character development leaves the book feeling rather hollow. It is definitely lacks direction. I lapped up all the good bits I could, and will forever look at this as more of a filler book. No seriously scary villains in this (though really, there was all the potential in the world), and I feel that I have watched inordinate amounts of Supernatural because I called the instigator pretty much from the off, City of Fallen Angels is a step down from the other books, but certainly (EVENTUALLY) sets up for the story going back to some fantastic places. We shall see where it goes!

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas

0

A Court of Thorns and Roses #1

SYNOPSIS: Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever. – via Goodreads

Okay, so I recently sold my soul to read The Mortal Instruments series, and I loved it. Every single second of it. I was so hooked, and had the worst kind of book hangover possible when it was done. Natasha was reading this series and was unashamedly in love with it. She said she didn’t know if there was too much sexy-time in it, but ultimately ruled in its favour and told me to check it out. So I read this, and really expected way more sexy-time than was ultimately delivered.

So A Court of Thorn and Roses takes forever and six days to get going, I won’t even pretend. It is excruciatingly slow, and just as I was about as exasperated as I was willing to deal with, things start to roll. Feyre starts growing into an actual character, not just this “survivor” she is painted, and she stops her incessant silliness of “let me stab the faeries” and actually starts to adapt to Prythian. Tamlin is a flawed character with some issues, and some of the things he does about Feyre (especially at the end) are questionable, but the two of them seem suited for one another. I must admit, I find the characters to be exceptionally flat and boring in this, the only one of interest being Lucien so far, and not by much. There is also Rhys, a character Maas goes out of her way to revile, but I can see that it is bluster, so I am sure what with this deal struck between Feyre and Rhys that we will see a completely different character than the one she has so painstakingly masked and put forward here. I thought the world building would be more expansive and in depth than it was in this, but it was enough to get one interested.

Anyway, A Court of Thorn and Roses is not necessarily the greatest fantasy book ever, and the writing is uneven and there are way too many ellipses in Maas’s writing, and after a rocky start, the story got underway. It was in no way unpredictable, but it was an easy read, albeit a little too long. I wonder what Maas will do now that she has finished with Amarantha, and where she will take the story from here?

Review: City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare

4

The Mortal Instruments #2

SYNOPSIS: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? – via Goodreads

So I dove straight on into this one after City of Bones. Naturally, this was after I calmed down about that horrific plotsie. Meaning I had to sleep on it, collect myself, breathe deeply, steel myself and then return to the world of the Shadowhunters. Glad I did, even though I still want to flip the heck out about the Jace/Clary arc. UGHHH. But we will come back to that.

City of Ashes returns with Clary’s mother still being comatose in hospital, which is, of course, exactly what Clary needs, what with this entire alien world and all the confusion it brings. Like, why would she need guidance? There is also the sudden shifts of Jace being close to the Lightwoods to them being his actual adoptive family, which was never actually mentioned in the first book. But we will move on from that. The book wastes no time getting back on the “Valentine is cuckoo crazy” train, and the journey is still good (though, just like the first, a little long in places).

There was so much frustration, pain, and suffering for me reading the scenes between Jace and Clary, and I don’t know when last I resented something so much and wanted it changed. There were parts of this book that inspired hope that it’s all been a mistake, and others that make me afraid Clare will try stick with this preposterous development. Then there is Clary and Simon, who actually start sort of dating each other, and it is just awkward. Like, it doesn’t feel right, even though I like Simon, I don’t like him with her, and he deserves someone that wants him totally, too. The Magnus and Alec arc is also a strange one, but one I totally appreciate and am hoping for the absolute best on.

There is more craziness going down than you can shake a stick at in this one, and not nearly as much world building as City of Bones, but that does not make this any less engaging or entertaining. I am quite enjoying this series so far, and will definitely see where it goes. There is a lot going on with Valentine, and the more I read about him, the more I think he is not nearly as straightforward a villain as you are initially led to believe, which is interesting. The Inquisitor made me think a little of Umbridge in some ways.

In any even, this series has been good so far, and I hope it continues this way. City of Ashes is an easy read, though a touch too long (as I said), but I am enjoying them. There is a lot to like here, I can highly recommend.