Book Review

Book Review: And Then There Were None

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Rating: 4 Stars
Date Started: 06/21/2017
Date Finished: 06/25/2017
Pages: 264
Genre: Mystery

Dude! So this is what a real honest to goodness mystery is really like!?

At first, I found it a bit difficult to get into the writing style, and I feared this would turn out to be another “classic” I wouldn’t finish. I persevered though, and pretty soon the writing style was the last thing on my mind!

The story and the mystery more than carried this book along, and the fact that I couldn’t figure it out was driving me barmy! Every time I thought I knew, bam, they’re dead, and the mystery continues. I guess with some of the glaringly obvious mystery novels of today, I never considered what a true mystery would look like. At one point, I was so convinced I knew who it was, that when that person also turned up dead I felt like tearing my hair out!

Of course, after everything is explained (and honestly, without that confession in a bottle I would still be sitting here pulling out my hair trying to figure it out), you realize that it all depends very heavily on some super duper timing and planning that just seems unrealistic. I personally don’t think the killer could have known how people would react or where exactly and when exactly they would be at a certain spot, but I guess you have to leave some room for creative imagination…

It’s been a while since I’ve read such an intriguing mystery, and a good one like this always leaves me wondering about the author’s state of mind. Surely you’ve got to be a little bit off a psychopath to be able to come up with such fantastically mysterious murders!?

Get your copy here: And Then There Were None

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Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: Born a Crime

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As a South African myself, this book hits very close to home. Although I grew up poor as well, I’m a white person, and I’ve always had that privilege. It was fascinating and horrifying listening to how it was on the other side of the tracks, so to speak.

Through it all, Trevor’s optimism and strength of character shines through. I’ve always liked him, but now I have even more respect for him. His love for his mother is so clear a blind person could see it, and I found myself loving her as well. I’m so happy she survived all that happened. She’s such an inspiration and as a mother I think she did such a wonderful job of rising above circumstances… I just wish that she didn’t feel like there was no escaping from an abusive relationship that no doubt had an effect on her children…

Trevor did am amazing job with writing this book and his audio narration was such a pleasure to listen to. I’ve known about him for ages and just assumed that he had always been a comedian, so it was a shock to realize that’s not the case at all and to hear about his beginnings and his struggle was such an eye opener. I wish there was more though. I’d have loved to hear more about how his actual comedy career got started, as that part was skipped over entirely… I’m sure it didn’t go straight from being a DJ to the famous CellC ads.

Of course the crime in South Africa played a fairly big part in this memoir. It is a big deal to us after all, and there’s been a lot of outside focus on it over the years, with a lot of the blame game being played across the board. Other than a few house break-ins (while we were out thankfully) I’ve mostly been lucky and haven’t really had to deal with some of the things I’ve heard from family and friends. Funny enough, I got mugged for the first time in my life while listening to the chapter about crime and jail! Just a strange coincidence, but I’ll definitely never forget which book I was listening to the first time I had a really scary experience!

Rating: 5 Stars
Date Started: 11 January 2017
Date Finished: 14 January 2017
Pages: 304 (8:50:00)
Genre: Memoir

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Movie Review

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (Live Action)

This movie has such a dear place in my heart. I have a vivid memory of watching it the first time and begging my mom to rewind the part where Lumière gives Belle’s dad a fright over and over again and cracking up like a crazy person for at least half an hour!

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Another memory is of my mom blackmailing me that she would get me Beauty and the Beast from the video store if I let her pull my loose tooth. I was too scared to let her do it, but I remember being so desperate to watch it again that I climbed on top of the bathroom sink and watched myself in the mirror as I gradually wiggled my tooth out. Even though it wasn’t quite our terms, my mom got me the movie again.

I was basically your original Beauty and the Beast fangirl. I was determined to change my name to Belle and move to France to find my own castle with an amazing library. Somehow the Beast/prince was more a cherry on the cake than the main attraction… even back then I loved books more than just about anything else…

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A couple of years after the first Harry Potter movie came out, after she had grown into her role and into herself, and even before it became a fact that B&B would be made into a live action, I remember thinking that Emma Watson would be the perfect Belle. Not only did she play my favorite bookworm ever, but she was an activist for women with her very own bookclub. So when I heard that she was actually going to play the part, I wasn’t even surprised… just unimaginably happy that it was actually going to happen!

And then I stalled. When it came out on cinema I kept on meaning to go and see it, but I just couldn’t. My friends kept on coming back and telling me how great it was, but still I was scared.

Scared? you may be asking. Yes. I was scared that I was expecting too much and that it couldn’t possibly hold up to my expectations and fond memories. Irrational maybe, but how often have I been excited for something only to be disappointed? All 8 Harry Potter movies comes to mind just off the top of my head.

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But then eventually my mother cornered me into it and I bit the bullet. I would watch it and try to keep my expectations to a manageable minimum.

I don’t know if I lowered them too much or if I needn’t have bothered! This movie was absolute perfection! Yes, even the parts that they added and changed! Even the singing, which wasn’t as great as the original (although the songs were better in some places), was still enjoyable and also fit with the personalities of the characters and the actors who played them.

The casting was honestly so on point that I can’t decide who was better: Luke Evans as Gaston stomping around all self important and good looking or Ewan McGregor as Lumière singing “Be our Guest” or Emma Watson in the iconic yellow dress! I don’t know how much of the Beast was CGI and how much was Dan Stevens, but I loved him just as much as Ian McKellen as a grumpy old Gogsworth fighting off his wife’s advances! But if I go on and list all the characters I like, I might as well list the whole cast. Ultimately though, I think Josh Gad as LeFou is my favorite thing ever! He really brought so much more to an originally one-dimensional character and I absolutely loved it!

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There was obviously nothing new plot-wise, though some of the characters were fleshed out and given more backstory. I think the directors tried to answer a lot of the plot holes and unanswered questions the original movie raised, which I thought was great and added more to the story. One of my friends mentioned that they thought the scene where Belle asks them why they don’t escape or leave the castle was worthy of a facepalm, because obviously they can’t leave the castle because they’re furniture and knick-knacks, but I disagree. I always wondered the same thing. They weren’t cursed, the castle and the prince was. What if they changed back if they left the castle? Did they even try? And if they were cursed along with the prince, then that enchantress was a bigger villain than everyone thought!

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One thing I think I should mention is one of the biggest reasons I stalled at watching this movie. Emma Watson. Yes yes, I know I said I always thought she would be the perfect Belle, but let me be honest… I never thought that much of her acting skills. She’s a perfect Hermoine as well, but I was always left knowing that she was acting. She never felt natural in any of the roles I saw her in. I’m not going to say she was absolutely natural as Belle, and her singing wasn’t anything compared to the original Belle, but she impressed me. Maybe Belle is her natural!

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The biggest disappointment to me, and no lying it was a big one, was the library scene. They kept it in (obviously they couldn’t leave it out!!!), but it was changed and the original intent was completely lost! They changed a couple of scenes and even juiced up the songs a bit, but this… this was MY scene! My little bookworm heart thought it was the ultimate romantic gesture, and now it’s been reduced to a happy accident. I thought that was the biggest reason she fell for him in the first place! I just can’t deal right now…

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Ok, I’m back and I feel a little better. So in conclusion, coming from an original Beauty and the Beast fangirl… this live action remake was totally worth watching and I’ll recommend it to infinity and back.

P.S. I loved the Beasts’ song when he set Belle free!

Book Review

Book Review: Kindred

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Rating: 4 1/5 Stars
Date Started: 9 June 2017
Date Finished: 12 June 2017
Pages: 306
Genre: Historical Fiction

This is one of those books that aren’t quite 5 stars, but which will stay with you for a long time…

It’s difficult to gather my thoughts to write a coherent review for Kindred, which usually happens when I come across a book that is as jarring as this. There were scenes of abuse so heart rending that I can’t even begin to try and articulate how I feel about it. Suffice it to say that I’m so grateful that I didn’t live in that era. Not because I wouldn’t want to see that happening (which I seriously don’t), but because I’m scared that like the characters in this book, I’d get used to it and it would just be a part of everyday life after a while.

I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.

This line in particular is one that will haunt me for a long time to come. And I think that’s good. I think it’s important to remember, because there are all kinds of slavery. Coming from an abusive household, I recognized a lot of the mental games that were part and parcel of slavery. And I also recognized it in today’s society with the news and politicians and wars getting progressively worse and desensitizing us to the atrocities that happen on a regular basis.

There were a lot of plot holes, and most of it didn’t make sense even in the context of the story, but that just underlines the irrationality of it all. At the end of the book, there was this essay, and one of the lines caught my eye and explains why these things don’t detract from the story:

“Kindred, one could say, is no more rational, no more comfortably explicable than the history of slavery itself.”

Dana was an extremely relatable heroine. She didn’t have special powers or knowledge that helped her defeat the baddies. She was just a regular person that extraordinary things happened to, and she had to deal as best she could. She was definitely brave, though after a while (desensitization) she got used to being a slave and her bravery faded into the background. And you can’t fault her because as you read along, you’re right there… you’re her. You experience her pain and the after effects and you can’t help but implore her to just go along with it to avoid more pain. And that’s how they kept the slaves in line.

Kevin was a bit more of a mystery, but ultimately I liked him. We don’t really get to know him as intimately as we do Dana, but by his actions and what he tells Dana he did during his own journey, you can kind of get the measure of him. His life was infinitely better than Dana’s when it came to their trip back, but it must also have been difficult for him on a different level than it was difficult for Dana. The 1800’s weren’t very kind to sympathizers and abolitionists…

And then we have Rufus. I didn’t like him at all and while I understand Dana’s reasons for saving him all the time, I still think that she forgave him and let him get away with more than she should have. I get that he’s a product of his time and his upbringing, but damnit, he had the potential to be better! And I guess that’s the ultimate tragedy. It’s easier to swim with the current and believe and act like everyone else tells you to than to stand up against something that’s dangerous to oppose.

Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

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Rating: 2 Stars
Date Started: 24 May 2017
Date Finished: 10 June 2017
Pages: 257
Genre: Memoir

I honestly don’t know why this book came so highly recommended? David Sedaris is an insufferable pain in the ass that complains about everything and tries to be funny about it like that will make it better.

I don’t know if any of this is serious or if it’s all just an attempt at dark humor, but it’s difficult to sympathize with someone about how horrible their lives are when it’s very clearly not. Yeah sure he’s gay and there have been obstacles in the way of his happiness, but that isn’t discussed at all. Instead he decided to rant and rave about how difficult it is to get a passport to stay in England and about his journals.

I really couldn’t give less of a shit about anything that was discussed in this book and the music between chapters was so irritating I ripped my headphones out multiple times. I usually love when books can evoke some emotion in me, but when that emotion is irritation and borderline rage, I’m thinking that’s not a good thing.

The only redeeming quality were the last couple of chapters where he stopped going on and on about his own life and added some satirical chapters with actual stories. They mostly focused on how stupid conservatives sound when they oppose everything, and although we were back to making fun of other people again, at least these stories had an element of actual humor to it. There was even a poem about dogs thrown in.

Maybe you have to be American to appreciate this, but I just wanted it to be over.

Book Review

Book Review: Three Weeks with a Princess

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Copy provided by the publishers and Netgalley

More like 2 1/2 stars… it wasn’t the worst historical romance I ever read, but it was exceedingly boring. There was hardly any action or plot and information was delivered repetitively in slightly different ways. The character’s reasoning and feelings were rehashed and explained over and over and over again in an attempt to carry a thin plot. Honestly this book could have been cut down in half and the story wouldn’t have suffered.

Another thing that bugged me was the title of the book. It seems to allude to something specific, like three weeks spent with a princess. I kept waiting and waiting and eventually the three weeks thing was mentioned in passing with the stupidest explanation on earth why it was “relevant”. The princess thing was even thinner and even less relevant. She’s the bastard daughter of a prince, so I guess in some backward way she’s a princess, but I don’t buy it. Talk about a misleading title…

I really wanted to like this book, because there was a time when Avon historical romances was all I’d read. I don’t know what changed… maybe I’ve just read so many truly amazing books since I’ve broadened my reading horizons that these kind of frothy romances don’t turn my buttons anymore? Or maybe my tastes have just changed? Or maybe this was just not that great…

Book Review

Book Review: Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare Children’s Story)

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Rating: 3 Stars
Date Started: 1 June 2017
Date Finished: 1 June 2017
Pages: 67
Genre: Drama (so much drama)

I’d be really sheltered if I’d never heard the story of Romeo and Juliet before, but believe it or not, I’ve never read the play or even seen the Leo diCaprio movie! This was the first time I’ve actually got a feel for the actual events of the story, and honestly it doesn’t inspire me to either read the original or finally watch a young Leonardo climb up a trellis.

Having said that, this is super easy to read and very to the point – which I appreciated. It would even be something I’d consider reading to my son, if I wasn’t so opposed to the message within… and if I thought he’d sit still long enough to listen.

Honestly, I don’t like the story and never thought it was so amazing. Even when I was a moody and over dramatic teenager, I thought they were being a teensy bit extreme. Also it looks like the only reason Romeo was at that party in the first place is because he was trying to get over someone else?! And then he marries Juliet the next day? Can someone say rebound…

Anyway, I’m glad I finally got more or less the whole story now, and I’m putting my dislike aside and suspending belief that people were this over dramatic knowing that this was supposed to shock audiences. What I choose to take from this is the fact that the Montague’s and the Capulets finally figured out that lifelong family feuds are dumb and causes unnecessary strife.

I’d say a solid Meh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯