Book Review

Book Review: Within the Sanctuary of Wings

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4 Stars

I feel kind of sad saying goodbye to Lady Trent… I’ve grown quite fond of her. She was a kick-ass woman who refused to accept the sexism of her time and worked relentlessly to pursue her passion and fight for her rights. By all accounts she’s pretty awesome, though she has the kind of luck that you have to wonder if it’s maybe a little unrealistic… even for a fantasy series.

This last adventure wasn’t the most exciting, but it was certainly the biggest discovery and it had it’s moments. It had a little of the “running out of steam” feel most series get after a while, and even the drawings were only so-so. While I’d probably still read another one if it came to it, I’m glad Marie Brennan knew to end it when it was time. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as dragging out a good series so much that it turns bad…

That’s not saying I didn’t enjoy it though…

It’s difficult to review this one without giving too much away, and honestly I don’t feel lus to try right now, so I’ll just go with it was a good ending to a good series. Maybe nothing spectacular about it that’ll have people talking about it for ever like Harry Potter. But it’s definitely a series I’ll recommend to other readers… and I might even reread it again in the future.

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Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: A Man Called Ove

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I honestly can’t say enough good things about this book. It has been literally years since a book has had me laughing out loud like this one has! Even when I was crying, I was still laughing.

The only Fredrik Backman book I’ve read before was Beartown, and I thought going into this one would be a similar experience. Man was I wrong. And I’m so happy about that. Beartown was great, but I am completely enamored with Ove! Grumpy old ass that he is and all.

The characters of this book is what really snares you, and the narrator did a great job of bringing them to life. Pravana was the main source for my lol’s and she’s also my idol. Although she’s a Saint and I fear that if I was in her shoes I’d have lost my shit at Ove and probably messed up the whole plot of the book. She’s brilliant 😀

The story can come across as very light-hearted, but at its core its really pretty deep and sad. Loneliness is a killer… and before judging someone by their surface demeanor, you should really try and look a little deeper… Although that doesn’t make it okay for people to be assholes… I’m looking at you Ove!

P.S. I was pronouncing the name wrong the whole time. According to the narrator, it’s pronounced Oo-vuh… You learn something new every day!

Book Review

Book Review: Columbine

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I have a morbid fascination with some things that aren’t very nice, and at one point my attention was brought to Columbine. I read up about it a fair deal, even watching a bit of the Basement Tapes, and thought I knew more or less what happened. I was wrong.

This book is a very well presented narrative of the culmination of years of investigation and evidence. I usually get bored with non-fiction books, but Dave Cullen managed to deliver the facts in an engaging way, and I found myself drawn into the mystery. The mystery of course being why these two kids, from normal households (as far as we know), did these atrocious things.

The catch, of course, is that even the answers that we get will never be enough. It will never be acceptable, because it isn’t. Everyone fantasizes about committing murder at least once in their life (most likely more than once), but you don’t act out on that…

Reading this book brought a lot of insight into the darkest depths of human nature… but as Patrick Ireland said: “When I fell out the window, I knew somebody would catch me. That’s what I need to tell you: that I knew the loving world was there all the time.”

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Book Review

Book Review: Assassin’s Quest

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****Spoilers Abound****

Man, what a ride. This book was so long, but it was all good. Everything that happened and that was described felt absolutely necessary in the scheme of things, and I didn’t skip a word. It completely absorbed me and when I finished I felt like I had finished a journey of my own.

In fact, it could have been even longer, because I’d have loved to have more detail of when Verity and Kettricken swooped down on Buckkeep and how they finally defeated the Red Ships. I’m not completely satisfied with Fitz’s recounting of it, and the explanation of how Forging was done doesn’t feel right. I mean it kind of makes sense if you stretched your belief within the scope of the world, but no… I need to know more.

And I need to know more about Fitz’s journeys as well. I want to know more about his year with Black Rolf and what he learned. Suddenly six years have passed and he’s acting like an old man when I make him still in his 20’s. Only six years have passed but now Nighteyes is graying when that would make him less than 10 years old. I mean surely wolves live longer than that!

The quick overview of what happened feels like a teaser and after spending so much time and emotional energy on this journey, I feel cheated out of a satisfying closure. There’s enough teased at in the last chapter to fill another book at least! My only consolation is the fact that I know there is more Fitz in the future books.

Coming back to the actual quest, I must say it was a good one. I like how Fitz is not your typical hero. He’s not so fanatically (okay maybe a little) loyal to the crown that he would give up his own child to it. He doesn’t even really want to do any of what he is doing, but is forced into it because of Verity’s skill imprint. All he really wants to do is find Molly and his child and lead a quiet life with them. Even though I never thought Molly was right for him, and I knew that would mean no more adventures, I like Fitz enough to want that for him too.

His PTSD is also heartbreaking, and I found myself missing the berserker of the second book. I hated Regal even more for what he had done, reducing Fitz to a cowering boy instead of the powerful warrior we had come to know and love (and maybe fear a little). I was all for him following through with his original plan of assassinating Regal, but ultimately I agreed that a better mission was to go looking for Verity.

The characters in this book were mostly familiar, with Kettricken and the Fool playing big parts in the quest. Chade and Burrich make appearances, Burrich mostly in Fitz’ skill dreams, but generally they didn’t play as big parts as formerly, and I found myself sort of missing them… especially Burrich. But then we got Starling and Kettle to make up the rest of the team, and as far as secondary characters go, they were okay. Both were irritating, but I liked them well enough.

There was a lot of intrigue sprinkled through the book, like when Starling tells Fitz that the Fool is a woman and I started questioning everything I ever thought I knew. Looking back over everything, I realized it was entirely possible that the Fool could actually be a woman. In fact, was it even gendered at all? Maybe it was a hermaphrodite. And when Fitz actually tried to ask him about it, he never confirmed or denied anything conclusively, except for maybe making a reference as to how he should have shown Starling his manhood when she mentioned “green manhood”. So from that, I think I’ll just go on and believe it’s a he, until proven otherwise.

The thing that really threw me started with the opening paragraphs of chapter 31. That already spoke of betrayal and his child being given up to the king. I thought the one who betrayed him would be Molly, maybe Burrich if I stretched. But then it turns out the elfbark actually hampers the Skill and suddenly it was Chade. That spiraled off into countless other deceptions and betrayals and I was actually freaking out a little. If the betrayer was Chade, that changed everything! Eventually, I carried on reading and the true betrayal came to light, but man, that was a stressful hour…

And last but not least, Regal. Spoiled, petty, clueless Regal. Who cared more about winning and power than what it entailed. I have to take a step back from my intense dislike of him and look at the bigger picture. Sure he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his beliefs and such, but if you think about it, his mother was a horrible person and did quite a number on him. She had fed and stoked his jealousy, planting delusions of grandeur in his head and making him believe he was so much better than Chivalry and Verity and should have inherited the crown instead. She basically moulded him, and if he had been stronger of character, or if someone else like Verity or Chivalry had spent more time with him and included him more, he could have turned out different. Or maybe not. As it is, I laughed when he was killed by the ferret.

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!