Monday, 19 February 2018

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 2018 - by St. Martin's Press  
Pages: 346.
Genres: Adult / contemporary fiction / thriller / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing.


This is a thriller that I was absolutely dying to read. I love relationship conflict and dynamics, and I adore this premise. I expected to love this book.
Just a warning: The last paragraph of this review, following on from the quote in the middle, is spoilery. I just couldn't write a decent review without talking about that spoiler, so I'm afraid I had to include it. If you don't want to be spoiled, please skip everything after that quote. 


The story is unique. The authors take well-known conflicts, but look at them from different angles, which I think is great. The book feels fresh.
The writing is.....good. It's quite similar to Mary Higgens Clark's style, and the whole tone of the book feels like something from her books. It doesn't feel like a modern, 2018 kinda story, it feels like something from the early 2000s and rather dated in terms of language and fashion, etc. It does work, it's just a change from what I typically expect from thrillers these days.

I love the language the authors use. It's very specific, and makes for some wonderfully vivid scenes. Every scene is well-fleshed out in all aspects.
The characters aren't incredible. They're okay, but they aren't very three-dimensional or vivid. They're stereotypes, and yet they aren't terribly written. They're just.....there, on the page. And they aren't exciting.
However, I do love how well drawn everyone's motivations are. The authors really flesh out the characters' pasts and give them solid motivations which explain their present day actions. Unfortunately it doesn't quite make them vivid, but it does prop them up a bit.


“I was happy, I think, but I wonder now if my memory is playing tricks on me. If it is giving me the gift of an illusion. We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


I don't think this book works well as a thriller. I guessed the big twists way before they were revealed, and until about page 206 I was extremely bored. It's just not gripping - and the topics the authors delve into (like abuse and mental health issues) could've been more powerful if the authors had stopped trying to make the book into a thriller and instead just sat down with the characters and those tough subjects and paid them more attention, instead of trying to make secrets out of everything (which I personally think fails, because the "big twists" were very obvious to me).
But the theme of abuse is handled very well. The authors show the horror of an abusive relationship with a lot of raw emotion and subtle, psychological build-up. They address head-on the ignorant, cruel question we so often hear "why doesn't she just leave?" and make it clear that it is NEVER A MATTER OF "JUST LEAVING". I love how they handle that.
But when they're handling a topic like that, I wish they'd just forget about trying to make the book into a thriller. It think Vanessa's story would've been so much more satisfying and powerful if they'd tossed aside all these so-called secrets and mysteries and just narrowed it down to the abusive relationship and how the characters deal with that.




The Wife Between Us could've been an incredible book if the authors hadn't tried to draw out so-called mysteries and instead just focused on the characters dealing with the abusive relationship they're tied up in.  

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and writing


I've finally gotten round to writing my WIP, now that I've finished the outline. I'm nervous, but excited to see how things go. I'm also re-outlining my NaNo novel from last year and sorting that plot and characters out.  Hopefully I'll start writing its second draft when I've finished with my other book.  

In other news, I'm on season 5 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S!! Yay! And lemme just say: Monica and Chandler for the win <3 I ship them so much. 


Posts of the week:
Book Review: SHADOWSONG
Book Review: THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS



Currently Reading








I haven't gotten very far with these two yet...

For Review








I've begun to use Netgalley more, and to start things off I got these two books :)


Won!








I won paperbacks of these two books from Camelle and Maria! Thank you, ladies!

I read Frostblood in about two days ;) I won't be reviewing it on the blog, but you can check out my mini GR review HERE!


Around the Blogosphere


Aneta reviews The Daughter of the Siren Queen

Emily talks the latest about J. K. Rowling

Erica shares her Favourite Cutesy Romance Books

Esther reviews Into the Water

Amber Elise talks about the Tropes she loves

Lindsey reviews The Cruel Prince


Entertainment News


Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have split
Another celebrity marriage come to an end :(

Rachel Weisz weighs in on the possibility of a female James Bond
I'm not against the idea of a female Bond, but Weisz makes an excellent statement: Why not create your own story rather than jumping on to the shoulders and being compared to all those other male predecessors? Women are really fascinating and interesting and should get their own stories.”

Reviews are in for Jennifer Lawrence's Red Sparrow
It actually looks like a really good movie...


Coming Up...

This week, I'll be reviewing The Snowman (film), The Wife Between Us, and I'll have another Romanticised Abuse post up and a book blitz promo up, as well.




So how has your week been?! What are you reading and watching? 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW - by A. J. Finn

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW - A. J. Finn
Published: January 2018 - by HarperCollins Publishers  
Pages: 436.
Genres: Adult / contemporary fiction / thriller / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mature themes / 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.
Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times--and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? 


This is an extremely hard review to write. The book left me with a load of mixed feelings, and I'm still not sure if I've condensed and communicated them properly. While I like this story for the most part, I'm also left with the feeling that it's missing something. A something that stops me from saying "I love this book!" or "Wow that was amazing". It's something I can't put my finger on. Perhaps it's the language that is a tiny bit too flowery? Or that the ending climax is slightly too melodramatic? Or that the twists - excellent as they are - never quite manage to come across genuinely?
Ugh I just don't know.


But one of the things I do love about this book is its atmosphere. It is so atmospheric, breathtakingly film noir, and with details ranging from Anna's obsession with black and white films to the way the author describes and chooses props for Anna's house, I felt like I was watching an old Hitchcock thriller in my mind's eye.
But the writing is a win-lose for me. I like it, and I generally love the vividness. However it feels a bit too purple-prosey at times, and some descriptions are overdone: page 200: "the car, glossy as a shark"... page 107: " Black as a spent match inside. I yank the string beside the bare bulb. It's a deep, narrow atttic of a room, folded beach chairs slumped at the far end, tons of paint like flowerpots on the floor......Ed's toolbox sits on a shelf, pristine". I don't know if those lines give you enough of an idea, but overall I just think the language is too flowery.

Until page 116 and Anna hears The Scream, I was kinda bored. The book takes that long to get going. Perhaps it was also that the writing and characters weren't enough to grip me until the twists and action came. Although admittedly, the twists do make up for that intial slowness...
Gosh the twists are good. Finn takes the word "twist" to a whole other level with this book. When there isn't a twist, the story's not gripping, but as soon as something huge is dropped, you can't look away. The shocks are so clever and so razor-sharp. The story goes from creepy to deathly creepy in the blink of an eye. It's excellent.


“If there's one thing I've learned in all my time working with children, if I could whittle those years down to a single revelation, it's this: They are extraordinarily resilient. They can withstand neglect; they can survive abuse; they can endure, even thrive, where adults would collapse like umbrellas.”


Anna is a compelling heroine and I love how unreliable she is. Her story and past are heartbreaking, and I almost cried reading about it. It's so painful.
But the secondary characters could be stronger. They never give the impression of being fully three-dimensional human beings, and I really wish they had more personally and vividness. The whole cast just needs a bit more...punch.

The book is similar to The Girl on the Train. I thought it'd be useful to mention that. Anna is an alcoholic, an unreliable narrator, and the whole premise of her not being believed rings very close to TGOTT idea. This story does take its own path, though - thankfully - but the similarities are hard to miss.




The Woman in the Window is an atmospheric thriller jabbed with terrifying twists and lots of heart. I recommend it for all thriller fans, despite feeling like it's missing something that could've made it magnificent. 


Friday, 16 February 2018

THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS - by Leigh Bardugo

THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS - Leigh Bardugo
Published: 2017 - by Macmillan.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / fairy tales / retellings
Pages: 281.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild sexual innuendo
Format: Signed hardcover.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns. Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price. Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.


I'M STILL SO OVERJOYED - AND HONOURED - THAT I GOT A SIGNED HARDCOVER OF THIS BOOK. Thank you to the incredible people at Pan Macmillan <3 As a Leigh Bardugo fan, there's nothing more exciting than a signed hardcover of one of her books. Thank you!


By now, I think all of you know that I will read whatever Leigh writes and smile about it - if not scream and squeal and possibly succumb to a book hangover. Her writing is just so. flawless. Everything about her sentences is perfect. Every word, every phrase, is magic breathed into ink. I devour her writing.

The world in these stories is beautiful. It's so imaginative, so lavish, and so deliciously colourful and fascinating. You can get lost in it, and that goes for the whole book. It's simply relaxing. It's pure, fairytale escapism.
The illustrations are also stunning. I absolutely adore the artwork, and I love, love, love how they add so much to the tales. They're beautiful and empowering. 


“We were not made to please princes.”

“This goes to show you that sometimes the unseen is not to be feared and that those meant to love us most are not always ones who do.”


My favourite short story is definitely the last one: When Water Sang Fire. It's by far the best of the lot, I think, and it certainly holds together the most powerfully. I also love the tale that's a spin on Hansel and Gretel; I love Bardugo's take on it.

But the whole book didn't blow me away. Somehow, it lacks something. None of the stories are amazingly plotted, and some are quite confusing to follow. I love it because it's Leigh and because it is a relaxing, enchanting collection, but it's not altogether incredible. Which is kinda sad :(




The Language of Thorns is a collection of gorgeously imaginative, effortlessly feminist, and darkly atmospheric short stories. As a Leigh Bardugo fan, I love it. But I do think it's missing the extra magic that takes me from loving it to LOVING it.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

My Favourite Fictional Ships


Happy Valentine's Day!! And even if you don't celebrate, just buy yourself chocolate and stuff your face. Or wait till after Valentine's Day when the chocolate isn't so expensive. Which kinda defeats my first point. But anyway.

Today I'm doing a blog post about my favourite fictional ships. I also did one last year, but my mind has changed a lot since then, so I needed to do an updated version ;)

Hope you like this post! <3



- Kaz and Inej / The Six of Crows Duology / These two are the definition of "JUST KISS ALREADY!" Their relationship is built on mutual respect, and their romance is a slow, steady burn throughout the duology. The small ways through which they show their love for one another are incredible and thoughtful, and I love how protective they are of each other. Kaz & Inej are an amazing ship. AND I NEED A THIRD BOOK FOR THAT KISS PLEASE LEIGH 

- Jasper and Alice / The Twilight Saga / Forget Edward and Bella, Jasper and Alice are the real canon of Twilight. They are so thoughtful, sweet, and protective of each other, and they support each other no matter what. They're partners in everything - it's beautiful to watch.

- Jules and Liam / Everless / THESE TWO BETTER BE CANON. They aren't even a couple in Everless, but there's definitely an implication they could be in the second book. I love the development of their relationship, their chemistry, and whenever they interact it's magical. PLEASE LET THEM BE AN ITEM IN BOOK 2 SARA

- Scarlett and Wolf / The Lunar Chronicles / AW THESE BABIES. They are so sweet and protective of each other, and they're equals through and through. They're my fave Lunar Chronicles couple, and I love how subtly they show their love for each other. They aren't a kissy-kissy or touchy couple, but their love runs deep. 

- Juliet and Declan /  Letters to the Lost / The great thing about this book is that there's almost no romance between Declan and Juliet. They're just friends; friends who have a complicated relationship, who learn so much from each other, and who come to respect and support each other. So when they do finally kiss at the end, it's a kiss that makes the wait worth it. They are probably the best example of friends-to-lovers I've ever read about. 

- Nate and Bronwen / One of Us Is Lying /  He's the bad boy, she's the girl who never breaks a rule. But their relationship is incredible, and every scene between them is swoony as heck (especially the kisses OMW). Their chemistry is amazing, but I hate how the author handled their relationship at the end of the book.  





   


- Tony and Pepper / The Marvel Universe / AWWW THESE TWO DARLINGS. They're my Marvel OTP, and RDJ and Gwyneth Paltrow have stunning chemistry. I love the development of Tony and Pepper's relationship, and I love when their personalities clash. It's fantastic ;)

Peter and Gwen / The Amazing Spiderman / ANDREW GARFIELD AND EMMA STONE WHY DID YOU SHATTER MY HEART. Their chemistry was off the charts, their acting made Peter and Gwen a couple to be reckoned with, and Gwen's death was a cruel but beautifully tragic finish to what they had. It hurt, but their love was invincible. I still cry to think of them.






- Emma and Killian / Once Upon A Time /  These two characters have had such an incredible journey, and YAY to them getting their happy ending! I love Emma and Killain, and I love how they compliment each other. They're both such haunted, broken human beings, but they grow so much and never give up on each other, despite being through some of the hardest trials imaginable. I just love them.

- Amy and Rory / Doctor Who / I'm convinced that seasons 5 to 7 of Doctor Who were actually just a story about Rory and Amy's relationship, because WOW did they have an amazing relationship. It was so well developed, and they went through so much together. Even though they had their fights and their ups and downs, they were passionately in love. And when Amy came to that heartbreaking choice in series 7, she still choose Rory over the Doctor. I treasure that.

- Jim and Pam / The Office / Jim and Pam's will or won't they romance lasted three long seasons, and although their finally getting together took away a bit of the magic, they were still an amazing couple. The chemistry between Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski and the way their characters struggled with their feelings for long before spilling them, made this couple one to root for. Their humour, their friendship, their partnership - it was all beautiful.

- Will and Djaq / Robin Hood / I'm not a Robin and Marian shipper or a Gisborne and Marian shipper, but I always loved Will Scarlett and Djaq together. They are so cute, so protective of each other, and the small ways their attraction for each other is hinted at throughout the series before they actually become a couple, is adorable.

- Sybil and Tom / Downton Abbey / Awww Tom and Sybil. The lady and the chauffeur. SOB. These two fought long and hard to be together, and battled social norms, furious family members, and even a world war to follow their hearts. They were equals with shared passions. When Sybil died, it was heartbreaking.





Who are your favourite fictional couples? Do you love any of the ones in this post? 
Let's chat!