Sunday, 19 August 2018

Weekly What's Up - work, school, new schedule

Some random thoughts:
- Beautiful use of colour and the scenes are gorgeous. LOVE THE AESTHETIC.
- Can I have my own Peter Kavinsky please
- I relate to Lara Jean so freaking much. Literally. It's insane. 
- Gold humour and adorableness.

In other news, my week was busy but productive. I've started doing admin work for my dad to earn money and that's eating up my time; I'm exercising and feeling better about myself; I'm waking up earlier to read my Bible; aaand I'm all-round feeling good. Yay :) 

Posts of the Week

I reviewed a superb thriller, The Puppet Show.

I reviewed a YA novel, Tradition.

Currently Reading

I'm finding all of these books boring, except for Catwoman, which I'm buddy reading with my #squad <3

For Review

IT'S THE GRISHA TRILOGY WITH THE NEW COVERS. I'm so in love. I'm gonna re-read them - kinda skim-re-read - and then do an overall series review post :)

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought id' be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

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

Friday, 17 August 2018

TRADITION - by Brendan Kiely

TRADITION - Brendan Kiely
Published: May 2018 - Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genres:  Young adult / contemporary
Pages: 342.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Graphic scene of sexual assault / strong language / sexual innuendo / drug abuse
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us. When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

I love boarding school stories!! The vibes are usually pretty messed up, but they're irresistible at the same time ;)

The writing is okay. It's neither here nor there. Kiely's style is easy to read, but it's not profound or brilliant or striking. However, I did enjoy the dialogue.

There is very little plot and it has no structure. It's loose, it's messy, and it's weak. Bad as this sounds, the story actually improves from the assault on-wards, which happens about halfway through. I hate to say that, but it does. Until then and even a bit afterwards, the scenes are weak and random and totally without direction. It is frustrating to say the least.

The messages are on point. The author certainly has some good points about the dangers of toxic masculinity and the horrors of rape culture. And they are good messages - the injustice and messed up handling of sexual assault and the way women are treated in the story succeeded in making me, as the reader, furious. And that's why it's there! It's supposed to come across naturally and non-preachy to make an impact, and it does.

But I still think it could've been done better. If the writing and characters were stronger, the emotional connection would be stronger, and so would its impact. While Kiely has a solid theme, he's chosen poor scenes and poor characters to actually convey his message. It's like he doesn't know how to tell a story. That's my issue.

Everything that had once felt so alive now suddenly felt so dead. That was what I wanted the world to know.

The characters are indifferent. Jules, Javi, and Aileen are cool, but they could've been fleshed out more. As for Jamie, I'm sorry but I hated hated hated him. I know he's supposed to the good guy - the guy who isn't like the other guys and who supports our uptight feminist heroine - but I found him boring, irritating, pitiful, and stereotypical. He's so perfect and so good, and it makes me want to barf because it feels fake. He feels fake. And I simply could not warm to his character.

But there is a positive ;) I appreciate how Jamie and Jules aren't a ship. I was expecting that, and I'm glad it didn't happen. I also like how friendship takes the focus instead of all the romances (Max and Javi, Aileen and Jamie).

Tradition has solid messages at its core, but its characters, plot and writing are very nearly ineffective. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

THE PUPPET SHOW - by M.W. Craven

THE PUPPET SHOW (Washington Poe #1) - M.W. Craven
Published: June 2018 - Constable.
Genres: Adult / thrillers / mystery / contemporary
Pages: 352.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / graphic, gruesome descriptions / strong language / child abuse / mentions of rape
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District's prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of. Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it. As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he's ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive...

How chilling is that cover?! Every time I look at it, my stomach curls. Those burnt letters make me think of flesh (which is probably the point) but ew ;) 

The writing is stellar. I like Craven's style, and the dialogue, specifically, is excellent - witty and to the point, it's just terrific.
I also love that the chapters are short. The plot is fast anyway, but short chapters just make everything so much more enjoyable and easy to read. The story is richly entertaining, with a dash of action here and there, and it's compelling and tight with a surprising and infrequent inclusion of dry humour.
In addition, the mystery took me by surprise. It is so, so clever, although definitely dark. And speaking of, a number of descriptions in this book are rather hard to stomach ;) They're graphic.

What a cast of characters! Poe is the "do whatever it takes to get things done" detective who thinks as impulsively with his fists as he does with his brain. Stephanie Flynn is his boss, and although I like her, her personality definitely isn't as strong as the other characters; I would've liked to have seen her fleshed out more.
Tilly is another great character. She's a genius, a whizz with IT, but at the same time socially inept and extremely naive. Her bluntness is endearing, as are her comic book T-shirts, and she's a unique if not unusual addition to the lead characters.

I also love her relationship with Poe. There's no romance between them - she's like his little sister - but he always has her back, looks out for her, and she clearly respects and trusts him. They're sweet together.

The Puppet Show is a dark, gruesome tale that allows its stand-out cast to pull the strings (#sorrynotsorry). Brilliant writing, strong action, and a smart plot make this a wickedly good thriller. 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Weekly What's Up - reading, watching, school

Another week's gone by and I can't believe we're heading deeper into August. It's crazy. Before you know it it'll be Christmas and New Year, and that's just insane. 

In other news, I started watching Riverdale! Only two episodes in, but I'm enjoying it. I've also finished season 7 of TVD - just one left to go! - but I'm gonna be watching Riverdale season 1 before I start season 8 of TVD

My Mum and I have been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, too. AND GUYS WHY DIDN'T I START IT SOONER?! It's seriously one of the best shows out there - the humour, the characters, the dialogue... the writing is so freaking perfect. I'm obsessed. 

Posts of the Week

I reviewed two thrillers: The Quaker and The Death Knock.

I reviewed the amazing Grace and Fury.

Currently Reading

Not loving any of these yet......

For Review

Yay! Thrillers galore :)

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought id' be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

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

Friday, 10 August 2018

GRACE AND FURY (Grace and Fury #1) - by Tracy Banghart

GRACE & FURY (Grace & Fury #1) - Tracy Banghart
Published: July 2018 - Hodder Children's Books.
Genres: Young adult / romance / fantasy
Pages: 320.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendos / violence
Format: ARC paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive. Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace - selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman. But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything. Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win?

The reviews for Banghart's debut have been mixed. But as soon as I opened the book and read the first paragraph, I knew what my review would be. I was falling into a book slump, and this books saved me. It took me on a wonderful, thrilling ride of feels and emotions and empowerment, and all I want to do is gush about it. SO GO FORTH AND READ.

The writing is lovely. Tracy Banghart's style is extremely similar to Sara Holland's (Everless), and so needless to say I enjoyed it. The imagery is also gorgeous, and the dialogue is good. Overall, it's an easy-to-read tale that doesn't sacrifice quality prose.

The story's action starts right away. The hook grabs you, the central story conflict is immediately introduced, and the characters are clear. It doesn't leave you floating. There's lots of action throughout the story, the plot's always entertaining, and it's exciting. The pace is fast - you'll simply fly through the pages, losing yourself in the fluff and thrills of the conflict and characters. You'll have fun and you'll be invested.

Oh and the twists! I admit I didn't expect to be so flabbergasted, but I'm so glad I was. This book is not predictable, and it'll probably steal your breath away in more than a few scenes. Yay for awesome twists and turns!

“It isn’t a choice when you don’t have the freedom to say no. A yes doesn’t mean the same thing when it’s the only answer you’re allowed!”

“For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet... And who stood up anyway.”
- from the author's dedication

The characters are predominantly a diverse group of women. I love that they all have different strengths and support each other - albeit eventually. There's a lot of emphasis on women uniting and having each other's backs and how crucial it is they do so if they want to fight sexism, etc. It's an empowering message, and it's not preached. The characters individually, too, are vivid, although the secondary cast have rather simplistic stereotypical personalities. Still, they're lovable and inoffensive. 

I also love all the strong female friendships. Even the romances are lovely and swoony and entirely shippable. But no relationship is more amazing than the sisterly bond between Nomi and Serina, our two heroines.
Serina is the obedient, beautiful daughter. She's been groomed her whole life to be a Grace. Nomi is the rebellious one, the underdog, the one who admits she wants more than this life. I love how the story forces the girls out of their comfort zones and develops and grows their characters as a result; Serina has to basically "unlearn" everything she's been taught, and Nomi has to find answers while squashed into a role she's spent her life hating. They're terrific heroines, and their bond is strong. I'm also a sucker for sisterly relationships, so Nomi and Serina's relationship made me happy ;)

Think The Belles meets Everless, with a stab of The Hunger Games and a sparkle of The SelectionThis little fantasy has it all: action, romance, intrigue, twists, and at its heart a cast of women with diverse strengths who have each other's backs. Do not miss this book!