Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #55: HEART OF THE FAE - by Emma Hamm

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.

Publication Date: 1st December 2017. 

Once upon a time… A plague sweeps across the emerald hills of Uí Néill, leaving a young midwife’s father with months to live. To save her people, Sorcha makes a deal with a dangerous Fae. She must travel across the sea, through merrow and kelpie lands, to find a forgotten king on a crumbling throne. Born king of the Seelie Fae, Eamonn fought battles unnumbered to uphold honor, duty, and freedom… until his twin brother sank a blade between his shoulders. Crystals grew from the wound, splitting open skin and bone. His people banished him to a cursed isle for his disfigurement, now king of criminals and fools. With the help of brownies, pixies, and will-o’-the-wisps, Sorcha battles to break through his crystalline shell and persuade him to take back his stolen throne. This determined beauty could come dangerously close to stealing his beastly heart. 

It's a fairy tale retelling that takes a very unique spin on the original, so YES OF COURSE I WANT THIS BOOK THANK YOU VERY MUCH. 

And I actually have an eARC, so I'm hoping to start it soon. I've read one of Emma's books before, and her writing is gorgeous. I can't wait to see how she handles this particular story. 

Anyone else excited for Heart of the Fae?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


Published: 2017 - Disney
Genres: Retelling / adventure / romance / fantasy / young adult
Pages: 341.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Nothing.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again. The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

When I first got this book, I didn't know what to think of it. I was confused; is it a retelling, or a prequel, or a sequel? Or maybe it's based on the 2017 movie?
So just to clarify, in case you're also wondering: this book is a creative imagining of events that could've happened while Belle was at the castle, without contradicting the elements of the original tale and without changing anything enough to alter the original. It's compatible with everything in the original fairytale.
And it's a truly lovely story.

Life is fragile. Life ends. But love? Love lives forever.

The language is rich and bursting with colour. The writing isn't amazing, but it's hard not to love the vivid scenes and get dreamy on the whimsical atmosphere. The story does an excellent job of preserving the magic and enchantment of the original story.
The writing is quite childish, but it works. This book definitely feels more Middle Grade than YA, but it's lovable in its child-like innocence and simplicity. The writing suits the tone. The only thing I didn't like about it, is the overuse of exclamation marks.  Those are very irritating.

The plot ranges from quieter moments to scenes bursting with energy and urgency. Sometimes its a little too slow, but then it quickens just before you start yawning. The plot's tight and well structured, and there's a real feeling of warmth, love, and magic from beginning to end. It feels like a fairytale - a lighter, brighter, very Disney-fied version.
But I don't like the dialogue. While the rest of the writing manages to work with the childish style, the dialogue comes across a bit too on-the-nose and juvenile. Not even the magical atmosphere can disguise the dialogue's weakness.

"Life can be so difficult, and stories help us escape those difficulties. It's all right to lose yourself in one, Belle."

"It's a wonderful thing to read about other people's lives, but it's important to live your own life too - no matter how challenging that life may sometimes be."

"Sometimes, Belle, our troubles are too deep for words," Lumiere said. "It's at times like those when we need our friends the most."

"Home's all the people, all the places, and all the things that you love. You carry it wherever you go."

The characters are their Disney archetypes. There's no real depth to them, but they're still sweet and innocent and lovable. I particularly love the objects - Chip, Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth, etc, are definitely the best written of the cast, and you really get a sense of their personalities. They overshadow Belle and the Beast, without a doubt.

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book is a magical tale richly reminiscent of its original, and sparkling with a child-like innocence and whimsy. The writing quality isn't amazing, but it's still a heart-warming, relaxing read with lovable characters. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI - by Sandhya Menon

Published: 2017 - by Simon Pulse
Genres: Young adult / romance / contemporary
Pages: 380.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Very mild sexual innuendo and infrequent bad language.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

I was so excited to get this book to review! At one stage it was all I could see and hear on bookish Twitter, and despite mixed reviews, the majority of bloggers seemed to love it.
I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book.

The writing is wonderful. I absolutely love Menon's warm, natural style, and it perfectly sets the tone for the warmth and humility of the story itself. It isn't incredibly evocative and the language isn't particularly original, but the writing draws you in with a vulnerability and 'friendliness' that makes you feel as if the characters are sitting in right in front of you, telling you the story face to face.

But the dialogue isn't great. It warms up as the story progresses, but it's never very inspired or profound. I don't not like it, it just doesn't leave an amazing impression.

I love, love, love the Indian culture and diversity that overflows through these pages. I'm a white cis girl who's never traveled outside of South Africa, but I found myself wholly immersed in Dimple and Rishi's Indian background and literally cheering for them when they stood tall against the white, bratty rich kids who dissed their culture. (Seriously.  I even yelled - out loud - 'buuuuuurn!' when Rishi's wit got the better of Hari, Evan and Isabelle's offensive comments during that restaurant scene). It's so proudly Indian, and Menon also offers some very insightful thoughts on how Dimple and Rishi's Indian upbringing corresponds to their current American life.
(FYI: There are also some amazing descriptions of food. Which make you hungry, but are definitely worth the pain).

“I feel like I need to speak out, because if no one speaks out, if no one says, this is me, this is what I believe in, and this is why I'm different, and this is why that's okay, then what's the point? What's the point of living in this beautiful, great melting pot where everyone can dare be anything they want to be?”

The story's funny. But I am disappointed that it isn't very funny. The humour is endearing and makes you smile, but there definitely aren't laugh-out-loud moments and there isn't any incredible wit. I was expecting to laugh more, and I'm disappointed that I didn't have much reason to.

The story is predictable. But it's also extremely satisfying and enjoyable. There are clichés and there is cheese, but this is a romantic contemporary so what can you expect? In this genre it's not unusual, and this book has never claimed to be anything else. It's fun and entertaining, and the fluff is proud to be there - as bright and charming as can be. There were even a number of times while reading that I just couldn't stop this beam from spreading across my face. It's feel good.

But the plot is a mess. Seriously, Insomnia Con? And they've come here to design an app, but there's a talent show that appears out of nowhere and even such a thing as Little Comic Con? It makes no sense whatsoever. I also wish we could've seen more of the app design and Dimple's techy side, instead of the story focusing on her relationship with Rishi and the friends and bullies conflict - however entertaining those aspects are. But the whole app plot and the going to Insomnia Con is very poorly executed.

“She wept for her hardheadedness, and for a world that couldn't just let her be both, a woman in love and a woman with a career, without flares of guilt and self-doubt seeping in and wreaking havoc.”

“Seriously? That's what you think I should be relegating my brain space to? Looking nice? Like, if I don't make the effort to look beautiful, my entire existence is nullified? Nothing else matters-not my intellect, not my personality or my accomplishments; my hopes and dreams mean nothing if I'm not wearing eyeliner?”

The characters are brilliant. The secondary cast are well written and compelling, and the friendships and relationship conflicts between people are expertly written. I love the positive but very human parent to child, sibling to sibling, and friend to friend relationships.
The strong feminist themes are also excellent. Feminism is present throughout the novel in a perfectly natural, unpreachy way, and I love and relate to Dimple's stubborn, somehow pig-headed, determination to succeed without a guy. Menon executes her obvious opinions on this topic and others so, so well.

Like all good romances, Dimple and Rishi are a heroine and hero who are strong characters whether they're together or not.  They are both so human and three dimensional. In some ways, I can easily relate to Dimple and I saw myself in her shoes more than once. My opinions of men, women, and romance are alarmingly similar to hers - for better and for worse - and I admit I'm also the kind of girl who might push guys away because I'm so convinced I don't need love in my life, or be too hard on myself and tell myself I will not fall in love. And like Dimple, I've learnt something from those cold, pig-headed claims as well - and seen the idiocy in them.
(One thing I do not like about Dimple: how she infrequently hits or 'punches' Rishi. Yeah, it's mostly playful I guess, but still. I don't think it's okay). 
I also adore how flawed these characters are. Dimple and Rishi's faults prove almost catastrophic in this story, but they grow and learn from them as the story continues - undergoing incredible, pitch-perfect development. Menon also does a rare thing: she stays true to her characters. She plays their flaws for all they're worth, and just when things are going too smoothly for the couple, she stays true to their personalities and makes sure that the obstacles that pop up are a result of their own flaws and mistakes. Her consistency is note-worthy.

The romance is sweet. Dimple and Rishi are geeky and adorable together, and I definitely ship them. But I do wish they'd argued more and been less 'insta-loving' - as it is, there's hardly hostility between them before suddenly they're warming to each other and becoming friends. I was expecting more fire, more anger, more 'You're my enemy! You will not win me over!', but their initial little spat is over soon, and they're already following their hearts. The rest of the book is rifle with conflict between them, but I still wanted more build-up, more slow-burn. It's definitely insta-attraction, if not love. And not just for Rishi (whose character is meant to be like that from the start anyway).

When Dimple Met Rishi is a diverse and heart-warming story filled with vivid, human, and beautifully flawed three-dimensional characters. The plot and dialogue are weak, but the characters and themes of feminism, friendship, and learning from your mistakes make this an utterly worthwhile read. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and watching

I watched so many movies this week!! Well, 3 to be precise, but that's a lot for me. I watched Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, Contagion, and Love, Rosie. (I won't be reviewing them). 

I've also been reading a lot. Not writing much, just mainly reading. School's also been so frustrating and tiring this week, so I'm in a bit of a bad mood. Lol ;)

Posts of the week: 

Book Review: CRESS

I'm still not loving City of Brass, but Final Girls is decent - if not rather morbid ;) 

I finished 3 books this week! Reviews to come soon. 

Audrey explains why and how Writing Is A Gift

Angelique reviews The City of Brass

Bryce reviews The Last Namsara

Amber Elsie reviews Ravenous 

Di reviews Tower of Dawn

Aneta reviews All The Crooked Saints

Poem fanatic shares a gorgeous Poem

Kyra talks about Mental Health

Brooklyn reviews Scarlet

Kathryn reviews Spindle Fire 


From Twinkle With Love looks amazing! And the cover is absolutely stunning. 

Women continue to come forward sharing their stories of harassment, sexual assault, and rape at the hands of film producer Harvey Weinstein. The allegations continue to send shock waves through the film industry, prompting responses from other actors - many of whom have shown support for these women. 

Have you had a great week? What's up in your life? What are you reading and watching at the moment?

Saturday, 14 October 2017

CRESS (The Lunar Chronicles #3) - by Marissa Meyer

CRESS - Marissa Meyer
Genres: Young adult / science fiction / dystopia / romance
Pages: 530.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Very mild sexual innuendo, violence, and some graphic, emotional scenes that might be disturbing.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Bought.
In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth. Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she's just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she'd ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Warning: This is a largely incoherent, fangirlish, totally unprofessional review. This series warrants squealing, crying, insane amounts of love, and not logical thought.

So please bear with me.

Basically, this book brought out the fangirl in me. And I mean seriously; I was giggling, giddy, squealing, wanting to cry and scream and laugh with one second intervals, and from the first chapter I was feeling all the feelings. I think the wonderful thing about this series is that it's escapism, pure and simple. You never want the story to end and yet you also need it to go faster. It's so easy to lose yourself in the world and the characters. It's so sad and so beautiful at the same time.

“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.”

NOW. What can I say that I haven't said in my reviews of Cinder and Scarlet?! Umm...

The writing's just as amazing as always. The dialogue is flawless, the world-building incredible, and every scene is vivid and flawlessly constructed. There's also a spectacular amount of action and a number of THRILLING fight scenes that are just as emotionally poignant as they are epic fights. The plot is also effortlessly tight and intelligent, and there's never a dull moment. It's gripping.

The only thing about the writing - or rather the plot - that I don't love so much, are the scenes not involving Cress, Thorne, Scarlet or Wolf. It's entirely personal preference, but I just found the scenes with Cinder and Jacin, for example, and the scenes with Kai and his advisors, etc, a bit boring. Those characters aren't my favourites, so I guess that's an explanation, but still - I found myself rushing over those parts a bit.

“Captain,” she murmured. “I think I’m in love with you.” An eyebrow shot up. She counted six beats of his heart before, suddenly, he laughed. “Don’t tell me it took you two whole days to realize that. I must be losing my touch.”

The characters are all preciousness and babies that must be kept safe and loved for all eternity. Everyone is extremely vivid, three dimensional, consistent, and gorgeously different from one another. Meyer has written everyone so well that it's clear from the first chapter that she's simply following them and letting them lead the story themselves. It's insanely brilliant.
There are also some new characters - Jacin, for example - and more page time for recurring characters, such as Sybil and Dr. Erland. I really enjoyed the added depth these characters got, and how Meyer brings them into bigger roles in the story's central conflict. Like the original cast, these characters are effortlessly compelling and dynamic.

The main cast also gets great characterisation. Cinder's more mature than we've seen her before, and even Thorne's grown up a bit (I say a bit. And we wouldn't want it any other way, let's be honest.)

The romances are absolute perfection. Wolf and Scarlet are my favourite couple, but Cress and Thorne come a close second. I adore that everyone's relationships are so different from each other's - how they range from Cress and Thorne's dorky, sweet awkwardness to Wolf and Scarlet's subtle adoration and fierce protectiveness. Every couple is immensely shippable, and I love how healthy, strong, and downright swoony these relationships all are.
As for Cinder and Kai, I'm glad they got those special scenes together at the end of the book. To be honest, I don't like Kai as much as I once did, but he is bearable when he's with Cinder. Otherwise I find him very annoying.

But there aren't just amazing romances. The friendships are spectacular too.  I love Cinder and Thorne's relationship, and even Wolf and Cress's interactions and Erland and Thorne's towards the end are incredible. The chemistry between every single person is so rich and natural, and the way their different personalities clash and compliment is without comparison. It's mind-blowingly perfect

Cress is another addictive installment in a series that keeps getting better. It's quite possibly the best escapism and the best example of storytelling done right that I've ever had the privilege of losing myself in. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

WONDER WOMAN (film) is empowering, but disappointing

Director: Patty Jenkins.
Cast: Gal Gadot / Robin Wright / Chris Pine /
Content Advisory/Rating: PG13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content.
Source: Rented.

When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

To say this movie has taken the world by storm would be an understatement. You've probably seen for yourself how much it's achieved, or the impact it's had, or how many girls it's inspired, or the debates it's sparked.
Because of all that hype, because I love superheroes (and was admittedly hoping for some redemption for DC), and because of its female lead and director, I was incredibly excited to watch this movie. Beyond excited.
I was disappointed. But I still love it and all it stands for.

It's overwhelming. It's breathless. It's empowering and extraordinary, and the way women are represented and the way Diana is portrayed is magnificent. I love how she's not another stick-thin, zero-personality badass heroine, and that she's so much more than an epic fighter. Her care, her compassion, her genuine concern for others, her desire to do what is right and her effortless acceptance of everyone no matter what age or what gender or what colour, is what makes her the heroine we love. And more than that, Diana proves her true goodness by choosing the right path in the end when faced with a difficult choice (I can't be more specific because of spoilers...). That made me love and admire her even more.

I was crying from that first fight on the beach when the Amazons take on the soldiers. That scene means so much to me because to see women of all different ages, different colours, different shapes, fighting alongside each other without men, is beyond special. It's hard to put into words what I felt when I watched that, or how I felt when I saw Diana save Steve (numerous times), or when she insisted on involving herself in matters the men mocked or criticised her for getting involved in, or simply when she refused to do something a man told her to do because she didn't agree with him......overall, I just came away feeling inspired. I didn't realise how much I'd missed that aspect in movies - particularly superhero movies - until I saw Diana doing it.
The feeling's indescribable.

I cried so much during this film. Whether it's the heartbreaking, unjust deaths of certain people at the hands of the bad guys, or simply Diana taking down the enemy and the ladies kicking butt, it's exhilarating. I sobbed so much.
I also appreciate how the darkness is real. Jenkins doesn't sugar-coat the horrors of the war, and to see the wounded men and feel uncomfortable from that is how it should be. A while ago I read an interview with Jenkins where she said something along the lines of making sure the very real suffering of the soldiers and the horrors of war are exposed to the viewers - and yes, she succeeds with that.

The story is beautiful. It's fast paced, heart-warming, and as lovable as it is gut-wrenching. I love the rich feminist undertones, and I love the real heart and soul invested in the film. There's so much energy on screen it's hard not to enjoy yourself.  The passion is infectious.

The action is fantastic. I do think the slow-motion gets too melodramatic at times - especially when I just wanted the fight to get going - so I wish they'd done without that. The fights would've been smoother.
The cinematography is unremarkable. The shots aren't majestic or original, and the lightning is messy and the colours often bland, dull, and grainy.  It's a pity, because the scenes could've been so much more beautiful and effective with the proper attention.

The dialogue is weak and flat. Diana and Steve's banter is amazing (thanks to the actors and characters) but otherwise the conversations are boring, lacking in wit, and frequently cheesy and cliche (Ares' lines during the end fight are extremely cliche). It's so disappointing.
But the humour is great. It lacks real substance or wit, but it springs from the best place: the characters themselves. Diana is lovable as a naive foreigner in the human world, and Steve's frantic reactions to her experiences are deliciously funny and adorable. Again, it's thanks to the actors and characters for the humour, but still - it works and it's fun.

The secondary cast is strong and diverse. Their characters are compelling, and I love the different strengths that come through.
As for Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, their chemistry is one of the best things about the movie. It's so effortless and genuine, making them a ship that I couldn't help but fall in love with. The warmth of their relationship off-screen translates to a gorgeous dynamic in the movie and it's wonderful.
Chris Pine is an excellent actor. He's so down-to-earth and utterly perfect in the role of Steve, and I loved every second of his performance. Just like Diana, Steve's a hero - equally as inspiring, and just as strong and likeable a character.

I don't think Gal Gadot is a good actress. And I know that's a very unpopular opinion, so I feel terrible admitting that! But while she doesn't act brilliantly, her enthusiasm, energy, and purity of heart is infectious. She's not a great actress, but she makes Diana a person - a relatable woman we can love. She's not a sex symbol badass, she's a real woman. That's what she feels like to me. That's one of the reasons she inspires me so much.

Wonder Woman is a beautiful movie with gorgeous chemistry between its leads, razor-sharp action sequences, and an empowering message for all females. The film lacks good dialogue, good cinematography, and an excellent actress in the title role, but it's still a wonderful movie that gives the film industry's superhero genre the heroine every girl deserves.  

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #54: KEEPER - by Kim Chance

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.

Publication Date: 30th Janaury 2018. 

 When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother. After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic. With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book. .


The story also sounds amazing. And I was lucky enough to be selected as part of Kim's street team, so I've got an eARC too! I can't wait to start reading this debut.

Anyone else excited for Keeper?!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

PERFECT REMAINS - by Helen Fields

Published: 2017 - by Avon.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary fiction
Pages: 416.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Scenes of trauma, graphic violence, mentions of rape and physical abuse, and one explicit sex scene. 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing. In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness. Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care. It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

I seriously seem to be on a thriller spree at the moment. Since the start of October I've read about four. All appropriate, I guess, considering that it's Halloween season.
So I was thrilled to start this book, loving the synopsis and the sound of the characters. But instead, I was disappointed.

The writing is darkly elegant and terse. I love that. But pivotally, it lacks urgency. At page 200 I still wasn't gripped (although towards the climax I couldn't put the book down) and there's no real feeling of panic or desperation from Callanach, despite the author telling us that he's desperate to find the killer. I just couldn't feel his desperation. I wasn't convinced of his need to save the women, however much I knew deep down that obviously he wanted to because he's the detective and the good guy, blah blah blah.

The dialogue is weak. It's lackluster, conventional, and although I'm delighted to say that the characters' actions speaker much louder than their words, it's still their words and exchanges I wanted to feel more from. That's another disappointment.

First he takes them. Then he breaks them...

The mystery aspect (or more like thriller, since we actually already know who the psycho is from the start) doesn't completely work. It's supposed to be a thriller, but without the essential urgency of a thriller it falls flat. And not to mention the scattered jumble of a plot - a plot that's disjointed, disorganised, and without a proper focus, thanks to a subplot that challenges the main plot's significance. The whole subplot (although really it's bigger than that) of the nuns and the pregnant girls has no tie to the main plot involving the kidnapped women, and it's although it's an emotional and incredibly interesting story by itself, it's unnecessary in the bigger picture. It doesn't tie to the main plot and it doesn't do much for the characters (except occupy Ava's character for a while) so why's it there? In another story - or even one where it is the main plot - I think it'd be brilliant. But with another plot as the focus of this book, that whole nun/pregnant girls story doesn't make sense.

And the main plot bothers me too. Clues are discovered by the detectives as the book progresses, but then they return to those clues chapters later and salvage at them again and discover more info. But this isn't clever sleuthing; it feels desperate, like the author's trying to drag information from already dry sources. And the finding of said clues is vague and coincidental anyway. It isn't clever enough.

'It was funny, Callanach though, how women were so much sexier when they weren't trying to be. He looked at Ava's sensible boots on the floor, at how she curled into a ball, wrapped around her mug, utterly unselfconscious and at ease.'

The characters aren't strong. The secondary cast is weak, and D. I. Callanach is an incredibly inconsistent protagonist. I still can't get a grip on his character, and his back story also feels very forced.

But the ladies in this novel are amazing. They're the ones with compelling, three dimensional personalities. Jayne's levelheadedness and quiet authority, Elaine's child-like innocence and humanity, Natasha's fire and loyalty, and Ava's vulnerability, passion and independence all come through vividly. I just love the female characters; Ava, especially, is a sparkling personality amidst an otherwise grim, gritty story - giving much needed light. She's easy to love and root for.
The villain is equally as well written as the ladies. He's chillingly deranged, deeply disturbing, and with a back story that gives plausibility to his present motives. Reginald King is the perfect villain.

Perfect Remains is solidly written and saved by its impressive cast of females - all with different strengths. The plot isn't great, nor is the dialogue, but a chilling villain, admirable ladies, and exceptional finale make it a thriller I enjoyed.

Monday, 9 October 2017

I HAVE NO SECRETS - by Penny Joelson

I HAVE NO SECRETS - Penny Joelson.
Published: 2017 - by Electric Monkey.
Genres: Young adult / thriller / contemporary
Pages: 330.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Very mild sexual innuendo.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone. Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

I opened this book without knowing anything about it. It looked interesting, but the cover didn't grab me. The premise sounded ominous, but didn't say much about the story.
So I started reading. And I thoroughly enjoyed what I read.

The story is perfectly paced. It's fast, easy-to-read, and constantly entertaining. I was never bored nor did I feel the need to put the book down. It's not gripping, exactly, but it is engaging - incredibly so.
Unfortunately I found the dialogue very disappointing. It's bland and boring, and there's no spark or excitement to it. I like the writing, but similar to the dialogue it isn't profound or brilliant. It falls short of poetry, but it still isn't bad. It's well written; though it could've been better.
I love how real the story is. Joelson grounds it firmly in real life with all the typical ups and downs; it's a tragic story, gut-wrenching and painful, and she never shies away from all that. There's no fluffy, sugary coating or happily ever afters. There's real disappointment, real loss, real pain, and there's also hope. It's extraordinary.

But I guess sometimes there is nothing you can say. It's just being there that's important.

I've realised something important. Being able to communicate doesn't mean that anyone's going to listen.

The characters are generally great. I love the humanness of everyone, and the tender but unflinching way Joelson handles their mental health issues and disabilities. Finn's autistic, Olivia's bipolar, and Jemma's quadriplegic, and they all get such depth and good representation. I love how Joelson writes them - I personally know people who are autistic, quadriplegic and bipolar, and I think Joelson gives her characters the voices they deserve while also making sure they get heard (one way or the other).

I don't love Jemma's character, but I like her. Still, her narrative voice through the entirety of the novel is spectacular: rich, compelling, full of personality, and raw with strong emotions. She's such a fascinating, admirable heroine, and I felt all her pain, all her joys, as if I myself was in her shoes.

The other characters could've used more depth. Sarah's the only one I feel was fully three-dimensional, but I did like the dynamic between her and Jemma's mum; that gives the story some much-needed relationship conflict. Everyone else is well written, but for characters like Dan, Richard, Jodi and the carers, I wish they were more vivid and rounded-out.

I Have No Secrets is a deep, thought-provoking, entertaining read that will have you cheering and crying at the same time, over and over again. It's heartfelt, unflinching, and gives mental health and disability superb representation. I had some issues with the characters and the dialogue, but overall it's a great story I definitely recommend.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and watching

I was on holiday this week! That was awesome. But I start school again tomorrow and I'm dreading it :( 

I finished reading I Have No Secrets and Perfect Remains (reviews to come this week) and I finally watched Gone Girl and Wonder Woman! My review of WW will also be up this week, but I won't be reviewing GG.

I'm supposed to be spending October editing my novel in time to write the second draft for NaNo. But I haven't been doing much work on it. I spent Sunday and Monday doing hardcore editing, but since then I've been taking a break. Having handwritten about 5 pages a day for about two months, I'm exhausted.
I'll probably start work on it again tomorrow, though.   

Posts of the week: 
Book Review: HERE AND GONE

I'm finding The City of Brass so disappointing :( But Lost in a Book is enchanting and fun. 

Amazing haul this week! The Language of Thorns is only a sampler, but I'm still super excited to read it. 
I've also been chosen as part of Kim Chance's street team for her debut, Keeper, and so I got an eARC of that. 
And......I got a paperback of When Dimple met Rishi! I'm SO excited. 

I was so naughty, but I literally couldn't resist. They were on special, and the covers......*swoon* 

Mary-Kate introduces her NaNoWriMo novel

Brittany reviews Warcross

Olivia talks NaNoWriMo

I'm sharing news from the last week of September, too, since I didn't include any in my Monthly Wrap-Up. 

They were being interviewed for their latest film, Blade Runner 2049, when things took a turn and left them in absolute hysterics. It's hilarious. 

I cannot WAIT for this movie! It looks amazing, with an A-list cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, and Kevin Costner.   

I'm not a Thronie, but like the rest of the female population I'm in love with Kit.  Unfortunately he chose Rose.

They look amazing.  

So sad. The man was an icon. He suffered a heart attack, was rushed to hospital, and died almost immediately. 

It looks.....strange. But Natalie Portman will be excellent, I'm sure.  

How was your week? What are you currently reading?