Book Review #7: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Posted 21st June 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 8 Comments

I’m back! Uni has finished for the semester, and it ended horribly. I’m 99% sure I failed my Chemistry exam, given I only answered half the paper. But that’s okay! I can do it again! I’m not sure what it was about the first half of 2017, but I’ve never been less motivated to study in my life. Onwards and upwards though!

So here goes, a book review *gasp* last time I looked at my Goodreads account I was 4 books ahead of my goal, now I’m 4 behind. Oops!

Book Review #7: Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanPractical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Published by Penguin on August 5th 2003 (first published 1995)
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 286
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...

At 85 pages in, I knew how I was going to rate this book. I decided to read Practical Magic as I love the movie (and re-watching it made me go looking for the source material). Usually I prefer to read novels after seeing film adaptations, because they are much richer and add more to the world on the screen. Well. Most of the time.

This is not one of those.

The film is vastly different, the relationships are similar but the setting is not. On paper, those relationships that made the movie for me had absolutely no depth, and there isn’t much in the way of magic (I was really disappointed by this). Alice Hoffman’s writing is beautiful, but the characters felt so lifeless and flat.

I liked Sally until the focus of the story moved elsewhere; when it shifted back, she was lost to me. I didn’t connect with her, Gillian or Sally’s daughters. It was surprising to me how much it focused on the daughters actually, I quite disliked that element.

As for Gillian, she’s the beautiful one; but she’s so weak and spineless! Running away, getting into one relationship after another until she ends up with an abuser she knows she should leave, but won’t. Then he dies and she runs to Sally for help. She’s irresponsible, supposedly a ‘free spirit’, but she just came across as sad and pathetic (whereas in the film, she was rather charming).

And Sally always helps. ALWAYS. Ugh.

The point of view seemed to change from one character to another halfway through a paragraph, which was super disorienting. Unless I read it wrong (which is possible) but it was bizarre, I never usually have a problem with POV changes.

I almost DNF at 206 pages, and then thought that would be a waste, so finished it ASAP just to move on.

I simply cannot recommend this novel, it was lifeless and bland. The movie on the other hand, A+.

Rating Report
Plot
one-star
Characters
one-star
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
one-star
Overall: 1.8

Tags: , ,


Movie Review #1: Dancer

Posted 28th May 2017 by Wattle in Movies & TV, Reviews / 14 Comments

Title: Dancer
Year of Release: 2016
Director: Steven Cantor
Starring: Sergei Polunin
Format Watched: DVD
Rating: ★★★★☆

“Sergei Polunin is a breathtaking ballet talent who questions his existence and his commitment to dance just as he is about to become a legend.”

 

Source: IMDb
 
 

 

 

I must admit, ballet? So not my thing, but then a couple of years ago this came into my life:

And I was all ‘I guess I can appreciate dance after all…’ haha this video led to reading articles and watching interviews. Sergei Polunin’s story is interesting and at times sad, so of course a documentary came about.

Trailer:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I finally got my hands on this. It was out in cinemas for a brief period last year, so brief I blinked and missed it. Promotion for the dvd was pretty huge (at least, on my Facebook feed!) so I pre-ordered, watched it, and then sat on my feelings for a while.

Polunin was a huge young talent in the ballet world – he was the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal dancer at 19, and then a couple of years later he skipped out and decided he was done. He was known as a ‘bad boy’, covered in tattoos (that he had to cover to perform), living it up at parties, getting himself into trouble. Basically just a young guy, in a stressful environment, acting out as only he knew how.

This documentary looks at his life from when he was a young boy, how his parents pushed and supported him – which led to the breakdown of their marriage. He lived away from his family at such a young age, and didn’t see them for a very long time (and then refused to let them see him perform).

Polunin seems to harbour a lot of anger and resentment for himself and his parents, his mother wanted better for him than she could provide, and in the process made it so he didn’t have a choice when it came to his career. In turn, he blamed himself for the end of his parents relationship and thought if he just did better, everything would be all right.

Watching this made me think that he both hates and loves dance, hates it because it was forced upon him, loves it because it’s how he can express himself (and he is very good at it). He went from being at the top to then being at the bottom when he moved to Russia; and that video of ‘Take Me to Church’ was what he intended to be his last performance.

But instead of ending his career, it seemed to reinvigorate it. He has been through so much personal hardship, I get the feeling he doesn’t really know what he wants, but right now dance is enough. I felt it ended in a hopeful place; but I cannot imagine the pressure he must have felt as a child to succeed. And because of this he didn’t really have a childhood at all; he was constantly working toward the goal of being the best; and when he got there it wasn’t as satisfying as he thought it would be.

An interesting documentary, though I felt it was a bit short (it’s 85 minutes long). I hope he ends up in a good place, he’s still so young (only 27) and has so much ahead of him.

Tags:


Here we go again…

Posted 3rd May 2017 by Wattle in Whimsical Nature / 16 Comments

I’m back! I think the site is all together (I worked on it solidly for two days and then did nothing so…if something is broken, let me know!)

Yes. I decided to move back to Whimsical Nature. I just feel like this space fits me better than Fleeting Whimsies – I was never really comfortable with the name. I’ve also moved back to regular hosting – which really just means I can break things by accident again, and when I do, I get to fix it lol I missed all the behind the scenes stuff; as weird as that is.

I must admit, I’ve not really read much for the past few weeks. I was on fire with the Kate Daniels series and then I hit book 6 and a plot I don’t like so…meh. I’ll get back to it, I think I’m just burned out on urban fantasy for now. It happens (I was waiting for it, I read SO MUCH in such a short time).

This post is very me, me, me isn’t it? I hope you are all doing great, I’m going to visit some blogs very soon (and then hopefully get back to reviewing things…more than once a month haha)

Tags: ,


Life Happens #3

Posted 22nd March 2017 by Wattle in Life Happens / 7 Comments

I was going to do my monthly review for February, but then realised I don’t have all my data tallied so…that’s not going to happen!

I really didn’t mean to neglect my blog for a month (I’m actually having trouble with the fact it is indeed, one whole month!) but uni started again and for the first week it was fine, the second it was not. I dropped a unit, picked up another, dropped that too and am sticking with Chemistry for this semester. Adding anything else on top just seemed too hard.

For a couple of weeks I didn’t read a thing, but somewhere along the way I have become obsessed with the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Goodness me. I’m up to book 4 (yes, I went and bought ALL OF THEM in paperback haha) and it is SO good, I sure hope it stays that way!

The fact I’ve been neglecting my blog means I totally and completely failed the Blog Ahead challenge *sigh* I got a grand total of zero posts done. Ooops! So I’m just going to have to wing it for a while, I’m hoping I’ll find some motivation somewhere to get some drafts done up at the very least.

My motto these days is to not stress and take care of myself first. So I imagine my posting will be totally sporadic (now I’ve said that, I bet it ticks over like clockwork 😛 ) but I am still around. Off to catch up with some blogs now, I’ll have actual content soon (I hope!)

Tags: ,


2017 Mini Blog Ahead #1 (March 1 – 15)

Posted 25th February 2017 by Wattle in Challenges / 8 Comments

Hosted by Anna @ Herding Cats & Burning Soup (via The Herd Presents), this challenge is all about getting ahead in your blogging by upping your number of scheduled posts by 15 during the challenge.

This is great prep for vacations, emergencies, and just helping get through blogging slumps or busy weeks. Having posts ready to go can be a huge relief! Stop last minute blogging in its tracks and join in! Sign up HERE!

I always fail at the Blog Ahead challenges haha but this is a mini one, less chance to fail! There’s another mini challenge scheduled for the second half of June and the main one that runs for all of October. I will of course be taking part in all three, since I need all the motivation I can get!

So come the end the middle of March I hope to have 15 posts scheduled for the rest of the month and into April. We’ll see how it goes.

Tags:


Life Happens #2

Posted 20th February 2017 by Wattle in Life Happens / 14 Comments

I have a list of reviews to write, and the notes to write them; but I’ve not quite got there yet. Oops! There is a Blog Ahead challenge coming up I believe and I will be taking part (once I get that post up haha!)

Things have been busy in my world. I’m not entirely sure where the last month has gone.

I finally got myself out of the public system when it comes to my kidneys (I love Australia’s public healthcare system; but since I can afford to not be in it, I’d rather go private – it frees up space for someone else), and was told entirely different things by my new specialist compared to the old. I don’t have a serious condition; it’s something that may eventually lead to one though. He’s taken me off half my medications (not necessarily a bad thing) and we’ll revisit everything later this year. I am cautiously optimistic.

Last week I had another skin cancer removed. Getting a bit sick of those, but there’s nothing I can do about it (they’re not caused directly by sun exposure, but by a medication I’m on). It wasn’t on my face this time, so that’s a win 🙂

University starts again very soon. I went in today to sort out some parking and get my ID revalidated and it was a madhouse! Students eeeeverywhere! I usually study externally but I have to go in a few times each semester – this coming semester I’m studying one unit on campus; I’m not really looking forward to it but I have to do it!

Aside from that, I’ve been reading – slowly. I’m hoping to finish at least one more book before the end of the month. I’ll be spending some time on public transport later this week, which will give me some extra time to read.

I hope everyone is having a lovely February!

Tags: ,


Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison Bliss

Posted 12th February 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison BlissSize Matters by Alison Bliss
Series: A Perfect Fit #1
Published by Forever on November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 337
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars
Heat Level: 2.5 Flames

The rules of (fake) engagement . . .
Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she's sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren't enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper - or the fact that he just told her mother that they're engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.

Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah's date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancee! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay "just friends," and make Leah's family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah's decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren't going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he's for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book. I absolutely hated parts of it, and other parts were really funny? And it was a bit…frustrating. There’s a few spoiler cuts in this review:

Let’s start at the beginning. Size Matters starts out badly – Leah is so focused on her size it made me uncomfortable, and her drowning her self pity in alcohol made me angry. I know it happens, we all have our insecurities, but her self esteem issues are very triggery and generally unpleasant to read.

My main issue with the book were the characters (ALL OF THEM). Sam’s inner monologue (where every sentence starts with “Hell…” I don’t care about the word itself, but it was so repetitive! “Damn” was used a lot too) did not help, going on about how he liked a woman with something to hang on to – I became worried this would slide into the ‘fetish’ zone (it didn’t, thankfully).

And then there was the fact that View Spoiler »

Leah’s mother View Spoiler » *shudders* if my mother was like that, I would disown her or at the very least spend as little time in her presence as possible. Leah herself just sucks it up and goes along with it (self esteem issues) which was endlessly frustrating. View Spoiler »

There were some laugh out loud funny moments, and then the negativity ramps up all over again. Sam is such a dick (and in a weird type of denial) and Leah isn’t any better. All this really boils down to is that neither of them can communicate, they are both stubborn and they’re not really likeable apart or together.

Leah needs to grow a backbone, and Sam needs to use his words. And her mother needs to butt out. The plot was completely ridiculous, I feel like it could have been executed much better (a fake fiancé story could be so fun!) but the mass of misunderstandings that took place just drew it out to the point of disbelief.

The one upside of this book is that it was written really, really well, and some of it was hilarious, but overall it just wasn’t for me because of the characters and their choices.

Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
half-star
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Overall: 2.1

Tags: , , ,


Book Review #5: Good Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Posted 6th February 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #5: Good Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett and Neil GaimanGood Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap, Full Cast
Published by BBC Worldwide on December 22nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Humour
Length: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: five-stars

A full-cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’s apocalyptic comic novel.

According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday in fact. Just after Any Answers on Radio 4….

Events have been set in motion to bring about the End of Days. The armies of Good and Evil are gathering and making their way towards the sleepy English village of Lower Tadfield. The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse - War, Famine, Pollution and Death - are assembling.

Witchfinder Shadwell and his assistant Newton Pulsifier are also en route to Tadfield to investigate unusual phenomena in the area, while Anathema Device, descendent of prophetess Agnes Nutter, tries to decipher her ancestor’s cryptic predictions.

Atlantis is rising; fish are falling from the sky; everything seems to be going to the Divine Plan.

Everything, that is, but for an unlikely angel and demon duo, who have been living on Earth for several millennia and have become rather fond of the place. If they are to prevent Armageddon they’ve got to find and kill the one who will bring it about: the Antichrist himself. There’s just one small problem: someone seems to have mislaid him…

Adapted, sound designed and co-directed by Dirk Maggs (Neverwhere, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) this first ever dramatisation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel features a large cast including Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap, Josie Lawrence and Paterson Joseph.

I was at work a couple of Fridays ago, and as the Thursday beforehand was a public holiday there was next to no one in. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to pop my headphones in and listen to something, but I didn’t want to start a long audiobook. Then I came across this version of Good Omens (which I’m counting as a book, because it’s pretty much an abridged version) and thought ‘yes! That will do!’

It’s only 4 hours and 20 minutes long, I had to take a couple of breaks when I needed to concentrate on something important but I listened to it all that day 🙂

I giggled a fair bit during this: “Earth is a Libra”, I mean…come on!
 
The radio adaptation is a condensed version of the story and it just works so well. The sound effects and different voice actors are just so great. I wish actual audiobooks were done like this (I think some do exist?) it would make it easier for me to listen to – I’m struggling with audio at the moment.

As always, it’s all about Crowley for me. He’s my standout character, a demon who doesn’t really want the apocalypse to happen as he’s quite fond of Earth. He and Aziraphale (an angel with a similar outlook) do have a lot in common, even if they are on opposite ‘sides’. What their superiors don’t know, won’t hurt them 😉 There’s a mix-up with the antichrist, witches, witchfinders (hunters, if you will), and the four horsemen (or…persons). What’s not to like?
 
A great, though also very short listen, it was absolutely worth the time and energy spent. It actually made me fire up the proper audiobook of Good Omens, which is my favourite book of all time. When I’m done with that, I’ll probably re-read it again.

Seriously. Favourite. Book. Ever.

AND a tv show (written by Mr Gaiman) has been announced. Woohoo!

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Performance
five-stars
Quality
five-stars
Enjoyability
five-stars
Overall: 5

Tags: , , , ,


Monthly Overview #1: January 2017

Posted 1st February 2017 by Wattle in Monthly Overview / 8 Comments

This year I’ve started using a spreadsheet created by All About Books to track how many books I’ve bought/received/read and I thought that would be a good monthly post, because seeing those numbers just before I wrote this made me go ‘oh god…’ lol

January 2017
Books Bought: 21
NetGalley: 3
Freebies: 15
Total: 39

Books bought also includes freebies on Amazon, because I one-clicked, it’s like I purchased them. The spreadsheet has a ‘gifted’ source which I’m using to track freebies from author newsletters and sites.

Of the books I bought:

6 of them were freebies

15 were ones I purchased
– 4 of those were ebooks
– 9 were paperback
– 2 were cookbooks

Ah cookbooks, blew my budget out of the water. Oops. The spreadsheet is great for tracking how much I’ve spent (even if the figure did make my eyes water, thank goodness for people that bought me book vouchers for Christmas!)

Stores I bought from were Booktopia, Book Depository, Wordery and a local 2nd hand store. Amazon US for my ebooks.

Books I Read:

In January I read 6 books (and 2 short stories; I’ve not decided how I’m tracking those yet, since they’re in actual books but are being read out of order).

5 were regular books, 1 was an audiobook (actually it was a radio dramatisation!)

All 6 were adult books 😮

1933 pages read, 259 minutes listened

Not a huge amount (I don’t read as fast as I used to) but certainly more than I thought I’d get through 🙂

Tags:


Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest

Posted 31st January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 6 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. NuestDirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest
Series: Likely Story #1
Published by Lyrical Underground on January 31st 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 285
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3.5 Flames

An Eye for an Eye
As owner of Dirty Deeds, a tech-savvy company specializing in the age-old art of revenge, Eden Smith knows first-hand that secrecy is critical. But when a dead body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan clutching her business card, Eden’s well-constructed world begins to fall apart. Apparently, she’s not the only one with a passion for payback, and staying alive to outsmart a killer has become her most important job of all.

A Game for a Game
Hardened homicide detective Kelly Riordan is convinced Eden Smith is hiding more than she’s willing to admit. Years on the force have taught him that nothing is what it seems, and that couldn’t be truer than when it comes to investigating the alluring owner of a revenge-for-hire business. But revealing her past could put everything Eden has worked for in jeopardy. And trusting a man like Riordan goes against the very instincts that have kept her alive this long.

Today is my stop during the blog tour for Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest. This tour is being run by Love Reading Romance Tours, check out the tour page for more reviews!

I had one significant issue with this book. I’m going to get the bad stuff out of the way first – because really, I don’t want to be a downer, but…

I don’t like it when characters immediately objectify each other, like their looks are the only thing of interest about them. I can understand thinking someone is hot, but to imagine sexual activity within 5 seconds? Nope (or is this just me?) This book has instalust, that turns into instalove.

Turns out I don’t dig it; I just cannot buy it as part of reality *sigh*

Now on to the good stuff.

The premise? Super interesting. The thing I liked best about this was the plot. Also, I loved Eden as a character (and Kelly wasn’t so bad either, but Eden is where it’s at), she was independent and didn’t often do as she was told – I like a rebel. I felt the other characters were a bit hit or miss, and they definitely faded into the background (I couldn’t tell you most of their names) but since this story isn’t about them, that’s okay.

I did have a bit of a lull around 60%, to 65%. The pacing sort of fell away, everything was rushing at breakneck speed and then I hit a bump. But the last 35% of the book was great and really held my interest, it was a bit stressy, although that ending – I’m not sure if what happened is possible, I guess maybe? I’m not keen to conduct an experiment to find out haha.

The writing was excellent, even if the pacing was a bit much for me. I would have liked a bit more background on Kelly and Eden to be honest, we did get bits and pieces about them but I didn’t feel like I knew them very well (although in the case of Eden, that is probably the point).

All in all it was a fun read, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Nuest’s work in the future!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 3.5

About A.J. Nuest

Multi-published, award-winning author and editor AJ Nuest resides in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband, two beautiful children, and a bevy of spoiled pets. Her four-part serial fantasy romance, The Golden Key Chronicles, was awarded the RONE Time Travel Romance of 2015 by InD’tale Magazine, and her spin-off series, The Golden Key Legacy, was chosen as a Must Read Romance by USA Today’s Happy Ever After. Her contemporary romantic comedy, She’s Got Dibs, won First Place in the Heartland Romance Author’s Show Me the Spark! Contest, 2013. For more please visit her at ajnuest.com

Tags: , ,