Monday, 17 April 2017

Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast


So I meant to write this review much sooner than I have, mainly because I had so many feelings and emotions after the movie. But sometimes giving myself time to ruminate over those reactions can help me decide if they were just knee jerk reactions or if they are constructive to my review. To start off full disclosure, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney Princess movie of all time so I feel slightly more critical.

Looks wise I think Emma Watson fits the bill perfectly, I just can’t say I was overly impressed with Emma Watsons acting. It just felt a bit off and quite stiff. In part this could be to do with the fact that a lot of the time she would be acting opposite a CGI character and that would be unimaginable awkward in more serious, emotional scenes.
 I think it was made even more evident in the end scenes where the beast is dying, I just couldn’t feel it. I didn’t expect to be moved to tears or anything but her acting felt insincere particularly in this scene and the animated movie just seemed to capture the pain and heartbreak much better.

The new songs and fill in of the back story we missed in the Disney original was great. I loved the little bits about the beasts past and explanation of how the village had completely forgotten about the castle and its inhabitants. I particularly adored the Beasts song ‘Evermore’ it had a Phantom of the Opera-esque feel to it, ‘Days in the Sun’ and ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’ were a delight as well. Of course all the old favourites were present and delivered by some great talent like Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson and Audra McDonald (I didn’t even know she could sing!)

The Beast himself, while obviously being CGI had some great voice acting done by Dan Stevens and as I mentioned his solo song was impressive. Gaston and LeFou were very good and the actors well chosen for their respective roles Gaston was the epitome of arrogant and manly just as I remember him from the original movie. The little nod at the end toward LeFou and his romantic preferences was endearing and surprisingly brave in a Disney movie.  

Overall, I was impressed with the movie but I wasn’t in love with it. The original will always hold a place in my heart that will be hard to replace, and there’s just something about animated Belle and Beasts romance that is so much more believable to me. Not to mention I’ve loved animated Beast since before I can remember, and I still prefer him to the CGI beast (although Dan Stevens voice is delicious and does give animated Beast a run for his money).

Lastly, it may have something to do with the fact that I prefer my men ruff and rugged with beards, but I’ve always liked the beast more before he got transformed into his princely self (too clean shaven and boyish for me) and this especially holds true in the animated version. Is that weird? Am I the only one who finds him less attractive as a Prince? I need to know I’m not alone in this haha.



What Did you guys think of the new Beauty and the Beast remake?


Image Credits: 
Belle gif- Giphy.com

Sunday, 12 March 2017

February Wrap-Up

And here we go sailing into March. I didn't get a lot of reading done in February, I blame the month for being short, but I also took some time out of my home town to soak up some of the last of the summer sun at the beach for a few weekends.

Normally that would mean a whole lot of reading for me and my introverted self, but the friends we stayed with are pretty outdoorsy and always need to be doing something (unlike me who is quite content with plonking myself on the sofa and reading the weekend away). So that meant a lot of time swimming at the beach, paddle-boarding and just generally being social in situations where pulling out a book to read may have been interpreted as rude. 

A good time was still had all round and I definitely had a lot of fun (apart from my alabaster skin getting fried in the sun, which lucky with my genetics eventually faded into a nice tan). 

Finished 


 Reboot by Amy Tintera Rebel by Amy Tintera
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks  Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Reboot and Rebel were a duology, which I was happily surprised by. It came out some time ago and I've had it on my TBR for a while now. I picked it up on a whim and was instantly caught up in the story. I'll have a review of both books out later this month. If you're looking for a diverse read, I highly recommend None of the Above. It was a greatly informational book while also being entertaining . You can find my full review here. 

I managed to read A Walk to Remember in a day. While I wouldn't say its the most fast paced book, there is something delightfully charming about its story. However, I do prefer the movie adaptation than the book, same with The Notebook. Coming up for Air, is an ARC I was lucky enough to receive. It was probably my favorite book of the month and I have to say it is my favorite of the Hundred Oak series thus far, and I enjoyed it immensely more than her last release 'Defending Taylor'. (My Review for Defending Taylor can be found Here)


Up Next In March

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between, #1)The Vincent Boys (The Vincent Boys, #1) The Vincent Brothers (The Vincent Boys, #2)


Other Favorites



So I built a fort in my living room, because you know I'm 26 and live with my fiance in our own home, so why not? I mean it was a little embarrassing when his auntie showed up unannounced at our house, as you know we're suppose to be adults and all but pfftt. Basically we built the fort so we could watch telly and play playstation in it and that's basically what we did all weekend. (If you want to see a short video of what our fort looked like, it's on my Instagam :P)

So now I'm back into playing GTA 5, and I'm pretty close to clocking the games main story line. I've sunk a lot of my reading hours into this this past week haha but it's been so worth it and it's also helped with my anxiety quite a bit.

I've also started back into watching House. M.D after taking a little break. While I love the show, I feel that the story lines may be different but they do tend to follow the same formula of "This person is sick, they must have this. Treats for specific illness/disease. Oh no, they're not getting better, they must actually have this, lets treat them. Oh no they've gotten worse. Amazing spin at the end, where at the last minute the mystery is solved". Don't get me wrong, I do love the show, but there's only so much I can watch at one time, hence the hiatus for a little while. 




Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Review- None Of The Above (I. W. Gregorio)

None of the Above



Synopsis


A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?


When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.


But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."
Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?




                     Goodreads.com


Review 


After a bad experience trying to have sex after prom, Kristin visits her OB/GYN as a precaution as her mother had died a few years earlier from cervical cancer. However, the visit is more than she is expecting and after some questions and an examination, the doctor is suspicious Kristin may have a chromosomal abnormality which causes her to externally look female, but internally carry male hormones and have internal male structures. The book covers her life as she learns to accept her new diagnosis, which she is having a tough time dealing with. This is all made worse when people at her school find out. The lack of support she receives from her peers, and the start of bullying, both emotionally and physically at one point, go to show how ignorance breeds fear and hatred.

Kristin is a strong character overall, but also allows herself to show weakness. She has a tough time dealing with all the information being thrown at her all at once, and goes through the stages of grief as a result. The supporting characters were also important in the overall shaping of the novel. There are the best friends, Faith and Vee, who upon discovery of Kristin’s disorder attempt to be supportive but there is also tension and confusion for them as well. Then there is her dad, who tries to help in the only way he knows how, by researching everything from A to Z and offering his own support while encouraging her to reach out to others who are in the same position as her.

This book proved informative, while also remaining engaging and entertaining. There were a lot of important educational messages about AIS, along with messages on bullying and acceptance. The fact that it was written by a surgeon who has encountered people with this disorder before provides an authentic and likely well researched novel.

Diverse novels always leave me with a lot to think about. None of the Above was a particularly interesting one which brought to the forefront of my mind many a question of how I would feel in the situation of Kristin. If I had been told that I had internal male sex organs, or that my chromosomes weren’t the expected XX of a girl, how would I feel? How would I deal with this knowledge? How would I learn to adjust to the idea of never carrying a child of my own?

Reading these kinds of novels are so important for young and old alike, because it teaches us to empathize and put ourselves in the position of the characters, and just maybe if we do that in our everyday lives a little more often the world could be a better place.

SPOILER BELOW


So the romance between Darren and Kristin seemed somewhat unnecessary to me. I thought they could have just remained friends, instead of turning it into a romance and right at the end too. Or if the author was determined to make it into a romantic relationship then Darren’s girlfriend, who conveniently broke up with him right before him and Kristin get together seemed such an unnecessary character. She didn’t really serve any point to the plot, and if Darren had been single for the book the romance would have come across much more genuine at the end than the rushed and opportune ending that we were left with. Other than that I did like their romance and I thought it was particularly sweet, especially since they had known each other when they were much younger. 

My Rating 4/5


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Review- Blood and Chocolate (Annette Curtis Klause)

Blood and Chocolate



Synopsis


Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?


                     Goodreads.com


Review 


As far as werewolf books go, Blood and Chocolate is one I can read again and again (and indeed I have). Written quite some time ago (1997), long before the hype of Twilight and other supernatural books like it. Blood and Chocolate follows the typical path of werewolf girl falling for a human boy, but it’s not all candy and roses.

Our main character Vivian finds kinship in a male teen, Aiden, from her high school, after she reads a poem he’s written for their school newspaper. The poem speaks to her wolf side on many levels and shows an understanding that she would never expect to find from a human. Teen romantic escapades ensue, and Vivian begins to believe that she could actually reveal her true self to Aiden and have a somewhat normal life.


“It's only a game, she told her herself, to see if I can snare him. But she wanted to know what was in a human head to make him write that poem, and she wanted to know why he'd stolen the breath from her lips"
- Annette Curtis Klause (Blood and Chocolate)

Vivian is hard character to empathise with. The author did a great job of giving her a lot of ‘canine’ traits that I would expect to see in a werewolf; aggressive, hyper-sexuality, conceited and drop-dead gorgeous. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make for an easy character to like. There are a lot of instances where her dominant wolf-side comes out and it’s not necessarily pretty or nice. 

“I'd like to feel my teeth in her throat, Vivian thought. I'd like to slit her gullet"
- Annette Curtis Klause (Blood and Chocolate)

Aiden on the other hand is your typical teen boy, who falls for a mysterious, beautiful girl. While his character loses some esteem in my eyes, I really can’t blame him for his faults. A teen boy can only accept so much.

I have a feeling there will be many ill feelings regarding the ending, but for me it makes perfect sense. I don’t want to spoil it, but Vivian learns that having someone who truly accepts and understands you as a mate is better than hiding who you truly are. Unfortunately, this may disappoint some people who were hoping for a romantic ending about love overcoming all obstacles blah, blah.

The wolf pack itself and all the main players really gave off the vibe of a pack. There was hierarchy, fights for mates, dominance, and a hell of a lot of misogyny going on. Which while may be difficult to read in this day and age with equality between the sexes as the ideal, it pretty much nails the principles of pack and canine behaviour on the head.

Overall an enjoyable re-read, that I will more than likely come back to again in the coming years. Definitely one of my favourite romance werewolf novels that appears to grasp the morals and conventions of a wolf pack, without any of the ‘sparkles’.  

My Rating 4/5


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Review- Defending Taylor (Miranda Kenneally)


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Synopsis

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor's always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that's what is expected of a senator's daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor's kicked out of private school. Everything she's worked so hard for is gone, and now she's starting over at Hundred Oaks High.


Soccer has always been Taylor's escape from the pressures of school and family, but it's hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she's going through is her older brother's best friend, Ezra. Taylor's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it's hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?



                     Goodreads.com


Review 


After a ‘misunderstanding’ in which Taylor takes the fall for her boyfriend, she is expelled from her boarding school. The fallout of her choice affects not only her and her future but her family, specifically her father’s senator campaign. Taylors world starts to collapse and everything she has worked so hard for starts to fall away… her future at Harvard is not as unquestionable as it once was. Not only has she lost her friends, boyfriend and the trust of her parents… add to that starting a new school.

Personally I couldn’t connect with Taylor as I have previously with the authors other characters. I felt she didn’t think things through properly and her rash decisions caused her to be in that situation in the first place. However, I did admire her dedication to her future, she was hardworking and a good team player when it came to soccer. Mostly I admired her ability to forge her own path and make the most of the situation she was in. She broke the yoke of her family’s expectation in regards to her future and chose to do what felt was right for her, instead of majoring in business which was expected.


However, the overall plot was somewhat predictable, along with the romance between Taylor and her brother’s best friend Ezra who she hasn’t talked to for many years, after a misunderstanding. While it was an OK read, it was not my favourite of Miranda Kenneally’s work and I feel she has much better books in her ‘Hundred Oaks’ series to choose from. 

My Rating 3/5


Friday, 3 February 2017

January Wrap-Up

Alas, Earwax... I mean alas, it's February already! Time has flown this month and I've been lucky enough to read some pretty great books to start me year off with. I was also able to get some time off work which has helped me read some more this month and having my bullet journal has helped ALOT with the organization of the rest of my life. I'm especially loving my habit tracker! Anyway on with the books...

Finished 

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnisTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanP.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
 
Buffy by Kel McdonaldBuffy by Faith Erin Hicks Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Landry Park by Bethany HagenThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn BennettFables by Bill Willingham

To All The Boy's I've Loved Before was a reread for me in preparation for the release of Jenny Han's new book 'Always and Forever Lara Jean'. A Madness So Discreet was possibly my favorite book of the month and you can find my review here. Mindy McGinnis has a great way of writing, and if you want something a bit dark and creepy I urge you to read this book. 

Landry Park was a bit of a slow read for me, but I got there in the end and I 'm interested to see what happens in the next book. Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell, was an adorably cute short story, that I feel anyone who has ever belonged to a fandom can relate too. 
  
  

Up Next In February

Reboot (Reboot, #1)Rebel (Reboot, #2)None of the Above


Other Favorites


Image result for wynonna earp
Image resultSo I finished the first season of Wynonna Earp on Netfllix and wholly hell, it brought back all my love for fantasy shows. I kind of reminds me of Buffy in the early days a little, the show's not over polished and the characters are witty and charming. Even the villains are somewhat charming in their own right, and my, my, my Doc Holiday with his southern drawl and cowboy hat. 


I also caught the first episode of Riverdale on Netflix and its GOOD...like REAL GOOD. It's a little Pretty Little Liars meets Gossip Girl with it's intrigue and mystery and I can't wait to see where it's going.

I'm also loving the Duolingo app. It's one of my goals this year to learn a language and I'm currently trying out the French on the app. So far it's going well and my habit tracker is making sure I'm practicing everyday. Speaking of habit tracking, my bullet journal is a Godsend. I feel so much more organised and I keep all my go-to lists in there ie. Books I've read, Series I want to start/finish, weight loss goals, Bucket list etc. 




Are you on the bullet journal craze yet? What was your favorite read from the New Year? 





Thursday, 2 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday (30)


Top Favorite Graphic Novels/Comics


I have been waiting a really long time for a topic like this to come about, so I'm super buzzed to share with you guys some of my favorite graphic novels/ comics.

I am a huge fan of Brian K. Vaughn and highly recommend his Saga series and Y-Man series (you can find my review of it here). I also like his new graphic novel Papergirls, but I haven't had the chance to fully immerse myself into it, although I think the story has a lot of potential. Giant Days is a great series if your at college and want something lighthearted and relatable. The unlikely trio of friends are always a good laugh. In Real Life, was an amazing eye opening comic, that was so much more than I was expecting (my review can be found here).

Lastly, BTOOOM is the epitome of everything I want in a manga. It has a Hunger Games vibe, but with 1000x more violence and some scenes that definitely made me feel uncomfortable. If you want something a little rougher and more volatile, this would be a great one to pick up.





Honorable Mentions




Tuesday, 24 January 2017

2017 Challenges


This one is just a quickie, with an update on what reading challenges I've decided to take on this year. 

With my new bullet-journaling craze, tracking my progress for my 2017 reading challenges is even more fun. Below are a few of the challenges I'll be participating in this year.

My goodreads goal is set to 60 books which I think will be achievable. My other goals including reading more classic horror novels... think Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray and the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Therefore I will be participating in the Classic Horror Challenge (which can be found here). I've also created my own book bingo with ideas amalgamated from various places, which I had lots of fun creating and I'm sure I'll have lots of fun filling in. 

Overall I'm pretty happy with my challenges this year, and hope to keep you guys updated with pictures from my bullet journal :)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Review- A Madness So Discreet (Mindy McGinnis)





Synopsis


Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.


When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. 


Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.



                     Goodreads.com


Review 


By God, Mindy McGinnis has managed to do it again.  As if her ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ duology wasn’t great enough, ‘A Madness So Discreet’ delivered everything I wanted from a slightly creepy and dark novel.

Mindy has an amazing ability to write a great novel without ever really resorting to any kind of romance as a plot device. As someone who enjoys mainly young adult novels where such conventional things occur on the regular it’s refreshing to read something without an ounce of romance in it. There was definitely an opportunity to write a romance into the plot and I’m not going to lie, a part of me kind of wanted it to happen. However, I’m so glad it didn’t. The whole character relationship dynamic would have been destroyed by blurring the lines between patient and physician and I most definitely would have frowned upon the abuse of power.

A Madness So Discreet follows Grace, a girl placed in an insane asylum with questionable standards, by her father while she is with child. Such an occurrence during this time (the setting is historical; I believe the late 1800’s) would be a ‘blackmark’ on the family name. So, she is dealt with until she can return home sans child. The poor standards and severe treatment of the patients causes a defiant outburst from Grace and she is sent to spend her remaining time in an isolated area of the asylum.  But a chance encounter with a visiting Doctor, who performs lobotomies on untreatable patients, allows her to be freed from her physical prison and taken into his care where she is moved to a much more humane facility. Her talents in noticing small detail with her brilliant mind assist the Doctor in his new fascination of solving criminology cases.

The grey areas surrounding the morality of the characters intrigued me. I love it when characters aren’t just black and white. Grace’s past experiences and the way she deals with the fallout from these, are precursors to some of her later actions. Even while she is our hero of the book and we are rooting for her, at the same time she does some questionable things.

The picture painted of mental illness and how it was ‘dealt’ with at the time is vividly accurate. I find it astonishing the things people were put away for, promiscuity, alcoholism and in Grace’s case being pregnant. The fact that a single word to a judge from a (male) family member could get you sent away is harrowing.

There are some dark moments in this book, but the satisfaction felt at the ending was…. well satisfying. The mystery behind the murders the doctor and Grace are solving have a Sherlock type vibe to them, which satisfies the detective in me.  If you’re after something a little dark and different, also dealing with a minority group this would be a good one to pick up. 

My Rating 5/5


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