Monday, 21 August 2017

THE GOOD DAUGHTER - by Alexandra Burt

THE GOOD DAUGHTER - Alexandra Burt
Published: 2017 - by Avon.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary fiction
Pages: 528.
Triggers/Content Advisory: There is an gang rape scene with occasional referrals and flashbacks. There's also one vague sex scene, and frequent, disturbing violence and gore.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed? Dahlia Waller's childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions. In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she'll learn that in her mother's world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered...

WOW: I thought there would never be a thriller to rival The Girl on the Train. This book is a gut-load of despicable pain and tragedy, but it is so, so good.

The language, the writing, is where the book truly comes alive. It is incredibly emotive, bursting with sensory details. The vocabulary is astounding, the writing raw and real, and the tone gorgeously atmospheric. It's so rich and literally tangible, and I was completely sucked into the breathless, horrifying world.

It's exciting. Creepy, horrifying, dark and terrifying, but so gripping. It's clever but not remarkably so, and I did guess the twist a while before it was revealed, but I must admit I didn't actually mind. The story's strength is in its characters and writing, not its mystery. It's not so much about the destination, it's about the journey. And it works fine that way - even for a thriller.
The suspense is thick and intense, but it's a bit of a love-hate thing for me. I felt like the author kept dangling the climatic answers to the many secrets right in front of me, and then snatching them away to prolong the revelations for yet another chapter. It's not a deal breaker, just a bit frustrating and worth mentioning.

{She} was a strong woman; strong but damaged. Those are the dangerous ones.

The story is heartbreaking. The horrors experienced by the characters are twisted, vile, agonising, and intense. It's dark and extremely sad, with deep internal and moral conflict festering beneath the surface. I think the author is talking as much about justice as she is about relationships.

The characters are fascinating and realistic. They're elusive, complicated, and hurting. The changing points of view (I think there are at least three women who get the chance to tell it from their perspective) do get a bit confusing at times, but as the story processes and the perspectives get limited to Quinn and Dahlia, it's fine; just the getting there is a bit bumpy.

I didn't love any of the characters, but I ached for them. I loved all the different, diverse relationships because of their depth and twisted dynamics, and I adored how the layers of each character's personality slowly get peeled back. Each person is unique and three dimensional, and Burt gets inside each individual mind brilliantly.
The romance of the story can hardly be called a subplot, but I have to mention it because I loved it. I loved Dahlia and Bobby's relationship. I loved their relationship arc, their individual storylines that effect each other, and that their romance never once distracts from the main plot. It's a surprisingly mature and realistic romance, and I adored it.

The Good Daughter is a standout of the genre. With its excellent, extremely evocative writing and vivid, dynamic, painfully flawed characters warped in darkness and brokenness, it's as much about human nature as it about secrets. It's a story that digs deep - literally and metaphorically - and has forever made an impression on me.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Netflix and reading and writing

PEOPLES! I've changed my blog post font - please tell me what you think? Is it easier to read than the previous one? I need feedback! And while you're at it, I'd really appreciate it if you could tell me what font you use for your blog... I'm looking for the perfect one, and I'd love to know what you find works for you.
Thanks :) 
And I also changed my blogger header! I'd love to know your thoughts on that too? 

In other news, it's been an average week. I'm still going strong with my WIP, have been reading a fair amount, and been watching a lot of Gossip Girl (I'm officially addicted. It's my new darling). I finished series 1, but I'm going to take a break from it before starting series two and make a start on Supergirl instead. Which I've been dying to see. 

A small warning: there'll be blog posts from me every day for the rest of the month. I have a lot of reviews coming, and am hoping to get a "fun" post in there somewhere too. So stay tuned :)   

Posts of the week: 
Book Review: The People At Number 9

Still going with these two books :)  

I finished one book this week (review to come): 


Except I haven't read And I Darken yet, so I need to get hold of it soon. 


Melissa shares her Writing Journey

Julie shares her Wonder Woman Art

Kariny reviews Roar

Brittany reviews Roar

Brooklyn reviews Illuminae

Alyssa reviews Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Tanya reviews Wish You Were Here

How was your week? What are you reading or watching? Have you read any of the books I got? What did you think of them? 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

THE PEOPLE AT NUMBER 9 - by Felicity Everett

THE PEOPLE AT NUMBER 9 - Felicity Everett
Published: 2017 - by HQ.
Pages: 315.
Genres: Adult / mystery / thriller / contemporary fiction
Triggers/Content Advisory: There are a number of explicit sex scenes.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Have you met them yet, the new couple? When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara's street seem dull by comparison. When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another's houses. And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they've no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them...

This blurb promises a delicious thriller. I love the subtext, the creeping tension, the juicy foreboding, and not to mention the irresistible theme of complicated relationship dynamics.
I did enjoy the book, although overall I was disappointed.

But the writing is good. It flows at a comfortable pace, and the suspense - although understated - is always there; quiet and subtle. It's never boring, however I do think it needs more drive. It lacks urgency.
There are also a ton of details sprinkled throughout the story, and most of them appear extremely significant the way the author draws your attention to the smallest thing. But when the ending comes, none of those details actually contribute to the final twist!
I felt cheated.

Then there's the climax. What is supposed to be a huge twist and shocking moment, just. Falls. Flat. The twist is so underwhelming and 'meh' that I felt like saying out loud: "That's the best you could do? That's supposed to shock me?"
It didn't shock me, it didn't make me feel anything, and it didn't take everything that had been building before it to a satisfying clash. Throughout the book, it's clear that the characters are getting riled and that tensions are climbing, but at the end everything just flops quietly downhill without a blow-out confrontation of any kind. It's too mild and easy.

"The thing is, Sara, writing's scary. You have to be prepared to go deep......And when your brain's shouting, 'No, no, no, I'm not going to think that thought; it's too dirty, it's too scary, it's too painful,' that's when you must make yourself think it and make yourself write it."

You must push through the negativity and self-criticism that dam up your creativity and just let it flow. Be your authentic self. Write or sing or dance or paint with your whole being, without guardedness or cynicism and without trying to second-guess an audience.

"Writing isn't something you can tinker with on the sidelines. It's a serious commitment, or it's nothing. Why do you think I'm up in the middle of the night? It's not because my creative juices flow better at two in the morning, I can tell you. It's the only time I can b***** carve out. Is it any wonder my writing's s***? Is it any wonder I've got an inbox full of rejections? I'm an amateur, Neil, and I write like one. To be a proper artist, you've got to make sacrifices. You've got to be prepared for your work to eat you alive - and for it to eat everyone around you alive."
(I love those quotes ↑↑. I usually don't like it when an author makes one of her characters a writer, but I think it works in this book. And I found those above quotes so empowering and relatable).  

I liked the characters. They're all original, vivid, flawed, and fascinating. Sara's my favourite, and I adored her personality; flaws and all. She's the main point-of-view character, and I enjoyed seeing the story unfold through her eyes.
I loved the tension and conflict between the couples. Every scene when they're all together is absolutely delicious and rife with seething feelings and heated subtext. The awkwardness, the tension, the lust, the conflict.....Everett nails it. She handles the scenes between the couples superbly.
The characters deserved more than that cop-out ending.

The People At Number 9 is a wonderful and entertaining story with vivid characters and excellent conflict between them.
But as a thriller, it doesn't deliver.

A Blog Squad Special: Requesting a Review Checklist Infographic

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions. 


This week we've collaborated to bring you a series of infographics. 

 Di will be showing you ‘How To Write a Book Review’ 
Uma will be showing you How To Be A "Social" Blogger

 Please take some time to check out the other ladies' posts when you can!

We hope that you've enjoyed this week's special! 
Are there any other infographics you'd like to see? 

If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s post!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

My One Year Blogiversary! Thank You

It's Part 2 of my One Year Blogiversary posts, and today I'm doing a huge thank you to everyone who's helped me and my blog and made my first blogging year so incredibly amazing.  

I also REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to host a giveaway, but unfortunately I'm broke :( I promise I'll have one - or two - when I get some money again!  

I know I've left people out because this was a hang of a job, but if you aren't mentioned, I'm still thanking you! <3 

I am so grateful to have met all of you and I've learned so much from your amazing blogs and reviews. I can't wait to read all of your future posts, and thank you thank you thank you for every comment, follow, retweet, mention or ANYTHING.    

Jonathan Ball SA, Pan Macmillan SA, Penguin Random House SA, St. Martin's Press, Harper Collins, Readers Warehouse, Noks, Tazmin, Magdaleen, Eileen, Veronica, John, Rebecca, Ellie, Kim, Rachel, Jaye, Candy, Emma, Lisa, Melissa, Kelsey, Cara.....

THANK YOU <3 You've introduced me to so many amazing books and responded to my emails with such warmth and kindness and generosity.  I'm still in shock that you actually send me free books to review. 

I haven't shared my stats before, and I thought it'd be cool to see how the first year's been in terms of followers, etc. 

GFC: 128.

Bloglovin': 195.

Facebook: 50.

Twitter: 540.

Instagram: 150.

Review copies received since the very beginning: 46. 

Total published blog posts (so far): 321


Hope you enjoyed this post! 

And thank you so much for making my first year of blogging so absolutely amazing Xxx <3

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #46: EVEN THE DARKEST STARS - by Heather Fawcett

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.

EVEN THE DARKEST STARS - by Heather Fawcett

Publication Date: 5th September 2017.

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance. But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit. The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Yes please and gimme.
Doesn't this book sound amazing?!!!???!! I requested an ARC a while back and never got a response (SOB) but I hope I'll be able to get a copy when it's published.
It looks sooooooooo good <3

Anyone else excited for Even the Darkest Stars?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

My One Year Blogiversary! Interview

It's been a year, guys! A year!! I can't believe it. It feels so weird to know that I've been blogging for a year, when it actually feels like I started just yesterday. It's been an amazing - and stressful - time, but I am so grateful for everything that's happened and everything it's taught me. I wish I'd started sooner.

(FYI: I had to look over my 2016 diary to work out when exactly I started blogging, and I managed to narrow it down to sometime between the 15th of August and the 18th. I totally felt like Sherlock, by the way. And because I'm not sure of the actual date, there'll be another blogiversary post on Thursday).

As part of my celebrating, I asked you guys for any questions you'd like to know my answers to! So here goes:

1: (From Paradoxical GrenadeWhat's the best thing you love about blogging?

The community!! I absolutely love the friendships I've made online, the wonderful people I've "met", and the stunning blogs I've discovered. Nothing beats fangirling with fellow fans.

2: (From Angela) What is your favorite book, and what book would you recommend to anyone (they don't necessarily have to be the same!)?

My favourite book is probably The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, although it's so hard to choose just one! 
And the book I'd recommend to anyone would definitely be Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. Everyone needs to read that darling work of art. 

3: (From MellenyWhat made you decide to become a book reviewer and join the book community?

I joined Goodreads in 2014 after hearing about it from my friend, who is a blogger and reviewer. It just looked like fun! And I soon began to write short reviews on Goodreads for the books I was reading, because I enjoyed it.

4: (From GenniDo you ever feel overwhelmed or uninspired while blogging? What do you do to change that?

YES. I'm always feeling a bit overwhelmed, which is entirely my own doing because I'm OCD and I plan a ton of posts and make a thousand lists and give myself deadlines. But it's also kinda therapeutic for me, and I do enjoy it.
If I'm feeling too overwhelmed, I just take another look at my diary, see what's ahead, shuffle things around if I'm stressing, and it calms me down. I love having a schedule, but it's a good and bad thing for me.

If I'm feeling uninspired, I just take a break from blogging and go read or watch TV or something. It's always good to take a breathing break once in a while and fresh inspiration will often come when you're least expecting it.

5: (From GenniHow did you decide on your blogger design and your blogger name?

My blog name was a spur of the moment decision, and I love words and I believe they're magic, so I just quickly chose A Magical World of Words. I originally had another blog name, but I didn't think it was working, so I had to change it quickly. Hence the rush.

I always knew the colors I wanted for my blog design: deep pink, black, and white. And I wanted my blog to be clean, easy to navigate, and neat.
I've tried to make it like that :)

6: (From Genni) What are some of your favorite posts of yours?

I really enjoyed writing my Top Favourite Couples post, and I loved my blog tour post for Perfect, and I loved reviewing Miss. Sloane.

7: (From Abby) Can you do an eyebrow wave?

NO!!!!! And it's tragic. I mean, what's the point of me anymore.

8: (From AbbyAlso, describe your current WIP only using five words.

Scars. Pixie dust. Neverland. Shadows.

(Not very good, sorry!)

9: (From MelissaIf a library was burning and you could only save five books, which books would you save and why?

I'm answering as if it's my local library that's burning, so I can only save books they have in stock. I'd save: Crooked Kingdom, How To Fall in Love, Gone Girl, The Marble Collector, and The Assassin's Blade.

10: (From GeybieWhat are your MOST favorite books you have read since you started blogging?

I doubt I would've ever got to read Letters to the Lost or Perfect if I hadn't started blogging! Those two are definitely my favourites.

11: (From Tanya) Which author (or authors) do you consider auto-buy authors?

Leigh Bardugo, Cecelia Ahern, Gilliam Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Stephenie Meyer (it's a long story...), and A. G. Howard.

12: (From Di) Best blogging experience?

I have so many!! Probably when I got my first retweet from an author. And she's my favourite author: Cecelia Ahern. That was shocking and SO exciting.

13: (From Brooklyn) What inspired you to start blogging?

My friend, her blog, and her huge accumulation of free review copies.

14: (From Jollygirl) What's your favourite TV show? 

IT HURTS TO CHOOSE JUST ONE!! I have to go with a few: Arrow, Once Upon A Time, The Office (American version), Miranda, Gossip Girl, Parks and Recreation, White Collar....
I'll stop there.

Thank you to everyone who asked me questions! I had such fun answering :)<

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the "interview" <3

Monday, 14 August 2017

THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE (film) is too pretty and clean

Director: Niki Caro.
Cast: Jessica Chastain / Daniel Brühl / Johan Heldenbergh
Content Rating:  PG 13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, violence, brief sexuality, and nudity.
Source: Rented.

The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

This film is pleasant. It didn't amaze me, it didn't make me love or hate it, but it was an understated movie delicately sprinkled with heartache.
I only watched it because I love Chastain so much. And she certainly carried it.

Visually, it's enchanting and idyllic. Gorgeous sets, striking costumes, and scenes delicately brushed with soft glows and ravishing tones. It's beautiful to watch - no doubt about it. And the cinematography is also stunning.

But the dialogue is boring, and often ruins scenes that would otherwise be extremely powerful in total silence. The characters often say things that don't need to be said, and thus the scene loses its emotional grip on the viewer. It's wasted.
Most of the scenes themselves are wasted opportunities. Some of them don't add to the story, and some just feel tedious when the plot's already taking too long to get going. There are heartbreaking moments, yet I never shed a tear; there are scenes I know I would otherwise be crying at (I cry extremely easy in movies) but I never did.
Why? Because they lacked punch.

It's too soapy. Pretty, too clean, and far too nice. It's too sugar-coated and lovely, and there's no emotional punch or real horror. The story's tragic, but the movie never whacks you with the realisation because everything's kept too comfortable; you feel sympathy for the characters, definitely, but it's not profound. Even when there are gut-wrenching moments (example: when that young girl is assaulted - off screen - by two soldiers, and later emerges from the alley with blood on her legs and clearly in shock) it feels romanticised. Here's a pivotal moment to showcase the utter barbarity of the Nazi occupation and what the soldiers were capable of doing to the common people who had no say, but the scene does not hit as hard as it could have. It doesn't mock or cast those types of tragic scenes in a good light, it just doesn't dare to make them real.

The acting is solid. The characters are slightly contrived, but Jessica Chastain gives an incredibly understated and heartrending performance. Her character gets decent development, and through her courageous but outstandingly humble and subtle efforts to help the Jews and save her own family, she's an inspiring heroine I never stopped rooting for. I loved the feminist example she was, and how her quiet strength got the spotlight.

The Zookeeper's Wife is beautifully shot, and shares a generally unseen and unheard of perspective of the War by focusing on the lives of people affected in a different way. But it's too clean and idyllic to pack the emotional punch the story so desperately needs.
Jessica Chastain's performance, although slightly contrived, is certainly what carries the film.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Writing and reading and watching

Yikes, another week has just flown. And it was a good week, I think, although I didn't read a lot. 
I did a lot of writing AND FINALLY STARTED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY WIP!! WOOHOO!! It's going really well so far, but it is slow-going. Still, I'm glad I've finally made a start on it. I was also thinking of maybe doing a blog post about the characters and the vague outline of the story to give you an idea of what it's about. Would that be something you'd like to read?    

I also watched a bit more Netflix this week. I've finished season 3 of Arrow (having spent most of the season fuming about its dropped standards and plot and character shortcomings. I also thought of doing a blog post about it, but I'm not sure how many of you are Arrow fans. Who'd be interested in a post like that?)   

Posts of the week: 
Book Review: WINDFALL
Book Review: STARR FALL

I'm buddy-reading You don't know my name with my #squad, and by myself I'm reading The Marble Collector and Silver Blood.   

I also finished these three books: 

(Reviews to come soon). 

I got these two beautiful paperbacks this week! And I've already finished reading Seven Days of You...

Aneta reviews My Lady Jane

Lauryn shares 5 Profound Book Quotes

Di reviews Scarlet

Uma reviews Six of Crows

Have you had a wonderful week? What are you reading or watching? Are you writing anything at the moment? 
Chat with me!