Wednesday, 21 March 2018


SCARBOROUGH FAIR - Margarita Morris
Published: March 2016 - Margarita Morris
Pages: N.A.
Genres: Young adult / romance / historical fiction / thriller
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild violence / one scene of self-harm /
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

1899: Seeking sanctuary in the seaside resort of Scarborough, Alice discovers she is not safe from her fiancé’s jealous clutches. She jumps at the chance to run away with a man she truly loves, but when a plot to help Alice escape goes dreadfully wrong, she finds herself in terrible danger. 2016: Forced to spend the summer in Scarborough with her mother and grandmother, Rose doesn’t think her holiday is going to be much fun. Especially when she’s almost killed by a Ferrari driver on the first day. Things start to look up when she meets Dan and he asks her to go to the fair with him. But Dan’s father is mixed up with a criminal gang and Rose and Dan find themselves drawn into a life and death situation. For both Alice and Rose, the fun of Scarborough Fair soon turns into the nightmare of a Victorian lunatic asylum. They must both escape if they are going to survive.

- Writing / The writing is lovely. The dialogue is rich, the scenes are colourful, and the author gets inside each character's head brilliantly.
- Atmosphere / The atmosphere is amazing. You really feel as though you're by the beach, or at the fair, and the setting comes alive with a beautiful tangibility. It's that homely, magical, small town English vibe.  
- Plot / The plot is fast-paced, entertaining, exciting, and action packed. It's so much fun and deliciously light-hearted and innocent. There's danger, but it's never terrifying, and there's always light overshadowing the dark. It's a wonderful story.
- Characters / The characters are very sweet and easy to love. No one's particularly three-dimensional, but they're still compelling. They fit the story perfectly. And I also love the strong themes of friendship.

- Romances / There are a lot of romantic ships in this book, and all of them are extremely insta-lovey. There's also the fact that the girls are way too quick to trust the guys when they barely even know them; for example, Rose and Dan meet after his dad almost runs her over with his car, and when Dan insists on following some shady guys at the fair and later following them into an abandoned asylum, Rose has no trouble going with him. She trusts him with her life despite the fact they've just met! It's unrealistic, not to mention dangerous.
- Too many characters / There are way too many characters. By the end I knew who everyone was, but it still took a while to get them straight in my head. I also don't like how mixed up the points of view are; sometimes only a small paragraph break in the middle of a chapter is the indication of a point of view changing, and it can be disorienting. It would've been better if the author had changed points of view by chapter instead of paragraph.  


DON'T TRUST ME - Jessica Lynch
Published: December 2017.
Pages: 322.
Genres: Thriller / mystery / Adult
Triggers/Content Advisory: NA.
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

Welcome to Hamlet. Population: 192. You can't find it on any map, GPS or directions site. A small village tucked between a mountain and a valley, Hamlet is the sort of place where everyone knows everyone -- and their business, too. There's no television. No phones. Only one way in and, for the locals, barely any way out. The sheriff is the law, the only doctor moonlights as the coroner, and outsiders rarely come to town. Murders are even rarer. A treacherous storm, a flat tire and a touch of serendipity causes Tessa Sullivan and her husband Jack to stumble upon the narrow strait that leads into Hamlet. It was supposed to be a one night stop until the rain let up and Jack could figure out how to fix the tire -- until Tess lands herself in the local jail cell overnight and Jack is found dead in their hotel room the next morning. There's no doubt it was murder, but with his gentle wife having an airtight alibi, the sheriff has to wonder: who had any cause to kill the outsider? And was he only the first victim? Dr. De Angelis doesn’t think so. Neither does Deputy Walsh. With Tess looking more and more like the killer’s next target, both men take the time to comfort and protect the young widow. But only one of them is sincere. The other just wants her to himself now that her husband is out of the way. Alone and afraid, who can she trust?

This is a hard book to review and I barely know where to start. It kinda threw me all over the place. But here goes.

The writing isn't bad, but I do think it needs at least one more round of editing. Towards the start of the bool, especially, the sentences are awkwardly constructured and the word order jumbled. Take these two for example: 'Except for the radio, he preferred silence when he drove if they were going somewhere new.' - 'Was he so miserable to her that finding a hotel to stay the night in brought the life back to her?'

The story is okay. The mystery aspect is clever, but I feel like the romances are the plot rather than the mystery. The romances are easily the main focus, and considering that I don't ship anyone and that I don't like any of the characters, it doesn't work well for me.

The characters are dull. Tessa is the beautiful, innocent damsel everyone falls in love with, and she has no depth. The secondary characters are boring, too.
But the guys are the worst. Mason and Lucas are alpha males and ridiculously overprotective. Thankfully, Tessa has the sense to think, "This wasn’t a contest, and she wasn’t a prize", but that doesn't make me warm to them any more. They're still jerks. And Mason assaults Tessa, so there's that. (Although, thank goodness, that isn't glossed over and Tessa is actually outraged by it).

There's also the ending. It's a shocker, which is good, but it's too open-ended. I don't like it.

This is a decent thrillet novel, but the characters and writing disappointed me.


Hope you liked these reviews! Have you read or heard of these books? What do you think of them? 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The WIP Diaries - What I'm currently writing...

(I'm experimenting with image headers, so there might be a different one every week ;)

This is another post in my new blog series, where I share my writing updates, plans, and works in progress! Today I'm sharing some info about my current WIP.

Title: I'm going with Jackie for now, but that will definitely not be the final title.

Genre: Young adult / historical fiction / fantasy / action adventure

Status: Writing the first draft.

I'm only on Act 2 of this novel, and progress is slow. There are good days and bad days, obviously, but all in all I'm enjoying the story. I love my heroine, and I love my secondary characters even more. The themes of friendship and family are strong, the characters' secrets are destructive, and I'm so enjoying writing the action scenes.
Check out my Pinterest board above to see how I envision the characters and their story!

To give you a quick taste of the plot: My heroine and her three friends undertake a treacherous journey across unpredictable terrain to find the riches one of them seeks. But with relationships breaking and external forces threatening the group, their inner demons threaten to override even the fiercest of bonds. They have a lot to learn about each other. And a lot to discover about themselves.

Just FYI: It's a gender-swapped retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk ;)

Are you writing anything at the moment? What's your WIP about? 

Monday, 19 March 2018

FAWKES - by Nadine Brandes

FAWKES - Nadine Brandes
Published: July 2018 - Thomas Nelson
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / historical / romance
Pages: 352.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Nothing.
Format: eARC.
Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England. Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death. But what if death finds him first? Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in. The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King. The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other. No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

A retelling of the Guy Fawkes story?! Yes please! I was so psyched to read this book. I've also been following the author on Instagram for a while, and she's lovely. I wanted to like the book because I like her.

But I don't think much of the writing. It's bland and rather amateurish, and could definitely use a few more rounds of editing polish. The dialogue, too, is weak; predictable, peppered with cliches, and too much on-the-nose. The descriptions are also disappointing. The language is never quite suitable, and they're too bizarre to actually work. Examples: "I put on a burst of speed, broke from the crowd, and bowled into the two guards." - "It rose upon its hill like an unslain dragon." 
See what I mean? They're slightly... Off. It's like she's using the wrong words to describe what she's describing. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why the setting doesn't ever come alive.  

The plot is very weak. It's kinda predictable, and the start of the story is way too rushed. The whole colour magic system takes a while to get a grip on, but that aspect is good. It's very unusual. I also love how not black and white the politics of the plot are and how there's good and bad on either side of the rebellion; it's not all cut and dry. That's realistic.
But my main issue with the plot is how loose it is. The scenes don't tie together properly, and most of them don't seem to tie to the overarching purpose of the story. Incidents happen, but they're random. Thomas, as the protagonist, should be moving the plot in one direction, but he never does. He stumbles along on other people's decisions and choices and knocks into events that are completely coincidental. It is so frustrating.

How many of us acted and spoke out and fought for beliefs that we held because our environment told us to?

The characters are walking cliches and they aren't three-dimensional. Thomas' voice as narrator is childish, and he literally has no personality. Other characters like his father or Henry or any other members of the secondary cast are stereotypes and completely flat. They have no personality. Emma, who's the heroine, is the only person I actually like, but even then all the girl power coming from her feels preachy and forced.

Fawkes is a cliche, untidily plotted story with stereotypical, flat characters and boring writing. Its politics are intriguing, but overall the book is a disappointment.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Weekly What's Up - reading, writing, watching

Not much to report this week. I've been reading a lot and I'm on series 8 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, so that's been great. And I've been posting every day on my blog, which is actually working really well for me. I'm loving it. 

Posts of the Week

I reviewed A Perfect Marriage, a book I highly recommend. It's excellent.

I shared horrific examples of romanticised female abuse in Crazy House by James Patterson.

I reviewed Crystal Kingdom, Girls Can Vlog, and Goth Girl in a three mini review post. Goth Girl is a beautiful Middle Grade novel which I definitely recommend to anyone who has small kids :)

I reviewed The Perfect Girlfriend, a taut, chilling thriller which is written from the perspective of a terrific anti-heroine.

I reviewed Fireblood, the second book in Elly Blake's Frostblood trilogy, and didn't love it :(

I reviewed My Cousin Rachel, the film based on the book by Daphne du Maurier. It fell flat for me.

I reviewed Daughter of the Pirate King on Goodreads. It was such a disappointment.

Currently Reading

I'm having mixed feelings about Sky in the Deep, but I'm enjoying The Wren Hunt, and I've just started Don't Trust Me.

For Review

I got these two paperbacks for review...

And got these eBooks on Netgalley.....

And some giveaway prizes finally arrived from Book Depository, as well!

Around the Blogosphere

Di reviews Fireblood

Alyssa shares her Favourite Jane Austen inspired books

Heather reviews Little Fires Everywhere

Christy reviews To Kill A Kingdom

Ronnie shares some Quotes to brighten your day

Angela talks about her  Biggest Blogging Fears and how she plans to overcome them

Genni interviews the authors of Our Dark Stars

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

Saturday, 17 March 2018

MY COUSIN RACHEL (film) is passionless and tedious

Director: Roger Michell.
Cast: Rachel Weisz / Sam Clafin / Iain Glen / Holliday Grainger
Score: Rael Jones.
Cinematography: Mike Eley.
Content Advisory: PG 13 for some sexuality and brief strong language
Source: Rented.

A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin's mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.

Because I've been desperate to read the Daphne du Maurier book for ages, naturally I was excited to see the movie, too. I'm also a huge fan of Rachel Weisz. I had high hopes for the film.

Visually, it's stunning. The cinematography is excellent, the scenes well crafted, and the setting and landscapes magnificent. The direction is also very good, and the scenes are atmospheric.

But the script is poorly written. The film starts off extremely rushed, and we're flung into the story without nuanced development. The scenes are also discontinuous, and I personally think they could've been either rearranged or replaced with alternative sequences and the plot would've been tighter - better - for it. As it is, they feel like missed opportunities. It doesn't help that the pacing is odd, too.
I was so bored. The story is just dull. Because the scenes aren't taken to their full potential and the writing isn't brilliant, the whole story drags and every scene is slow. I wasn't gripped - I wasn't entertained. It's disappointing.

The story doesn't leave an impact. I was never certain what the theme was, or who I was supposed to be rooting for, or what I should have been thinking. It's not powerful enough; it dragged me along and showed me characters and incidents but I was never sure how I should react. I couldn't appreciate the content.

Sam Clafin's performance is good, but overwrought. He doesn't make an impression. Rachel Weisz, on the other hand, is intoxicating. She's ethereal, terrifying, seductive, and captivating. Her acting is spellbinding. She carries what she can of the boring story and almost makes the film worth watching.

But Weisz and Clafin have no chemistry. There's zero spark between them. I think this definitely contributes to the overall impression of their relationship, and took a lot away from its soul. I also don't like how little is seen of the progression of their characters' relationship; Rachel arrives, Philip sees her, and he's utterly charmed by her. There's no solid development to their romance. I wish we could've seen him slowly falling under her spell, but the story misses that.

My Cousin Rachel is beautifully filmed and led by a mesmerising Weisz, but otherwise it's insufferably boring and poorly plotted. It's a missed opportunity.