Reading This Week: 15 April 2019

I didn’t read as much as I would have liked last week. I only finished three books, so most of the books I was planning to read last week I will instead read this week.

I still have The Lights to read this week, as well as Quality DNA and Eighteen Below, all of which I’m hoping to review this month.

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I also have The Chalk Man to start, and Cruel Acts to finish from last week, and I really want to start The Hunting Party.

After this I’m going to make my way through my TBR lists for the O.W.L.s readathon and the Unsolvedathon. I’m only working 2.5 days this week, before I finish for my holiday. I’m getting the train down to my parents on Thursday, and we’re flying out on Saturday. The flights and layover total 18 hours so hopefully I’ll have a lot of reading time. I have hundred of unread books on my kindle, and some audiobooks downloaded so I can spend as much time as possible reading.

Finally here’s a picture of my baby boy Dominick ready for Game of Thrones. I’m in Scotland so we get it on Mondays, and I’ll be watching it as soon as my housemate gets in tonight.

Review: As Old As Time

As Old As Time is another book in the series of Disney retellings. In this retelling Belle’s mother is the enchantress who cursed the beast. How will Belle cope with this knowledge and save the inhabitants of the castle?

Given that I really didn’t enjoy A Whole New World, I wasn’t sure whether I still wanted to read this book, but I had listed it as one of the books for my O.W.L.s magical readathon, and they’re quick reads so I went ahead. I enjoyed this much more than A Whole New World.

This book alternates chapters between the story of Belle, and the story of her mother, Rosalind, explaining how she came to curse the Beast, and what happened to magic in the kingdom.

In the early chapters of this book we learn that magic was prevalent in the kingdom, but soon became feared and hated, and all of the les charmantes disappeared. Unlike A Whole New World this book does explore more of the characters back stories and develops them in a different way than the film. I was much more interested in how this was going to be resolved.

This book did lose points for using censi instead of the correct plural of censuses, but if you’re not a statistician and a giant nerd you can probably get past it.

My rating: 2.5 stars, it was enjoyable, but still nothing special.

Review: A Whole New World

As Old As Time is the first in a series of retellings of Disney classics. In this version Aladdin never summoned the Genie, instead Jafar uses his first two wishes to become the Sultan and the world’s most powerful sorcerer. Aladdin and Jasmine must then work together with the Street Rats and people of Agrabah to defeat Jafar before he makes his final wish and becomes unstoppable.

I wanted to like this book. I love retellings in which we find out more about characters we think we now, particularly ones explore those characters motivations and back story to present them in a different light. That doesn’t happen in this book. Jafar is a one-dimensional villain Aladdin is still the hero.

The first 25% of the book is exactly the same as the Disney film, even using some of the same lines. The story doesn’t get much any better after this, following the stereotypical let’s overthrow the government/dictator storyline, but with none of the depth that makes us care about the characters.

If you want a retelling of Aladdin focussing on Jafar’s story I would recommend watching Starkid’s Twisted on youtube. This is a moving and hillarious retelling of Aladdin with a misunderstood Jafar. Otherwise just watch the Disney film.

Review: Murder Games

His victims appear to be total strangers. The only clue that links the crimes is the playing card left behind at each scene that hints at the next target.

The killer, known in the tabloids as the Dealer, is baiting cops into a deadly guessing game that has the city on edge. Elizabeth Needham, the tenacious detective in charge of the case, turns to an unlikely ally – Dylan Reinhart, a brilliant professor whose book was found along with the first playing card.

As the public frenzy over the Dealer reaches a fever pitch, Dylan and Elizabeth must connect the clues to discover what the victims have in common – before the Dealer runs through his entire deck.

I watched the first episode of the TV adaptation last year when it aired and didn’t enjoy it, but I did think that the plot was interesting and would have been better in the book. A year later I finally read the book, and I was right, it is much better.

The book gets straight into the story and I was immediately hooked. I read the entire book in one evening.

I loved the characters in this book, particularly Dylan, and I liked finding out more about him as the book went on. His relationship with Tracy was particularly adorable and made the character more likeable.

The plot in this book is really interesting. There’s a lot going on, but everything adds to the story, and keeps going to the last page of the book. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an easy to read mystery. This would be a good rainy day read, an enjoyable read but doesn’t require a lot of concentration.

My rating: 4 stars. I don’t know that I’ll try the TV show again, but I’m looking forward to book two.

Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.
Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.
Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.
Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined.
For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.
These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . .

This is the first book I’ve read by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies is still on my TBR list, and I really liked it. This had mixed reviews so going in with no expectations may have helped.

When I started reading this the idea of a retreat sounded quite nice, but I quickly changed my mind. The daily blood tests and five day ‘Transformative Silence’ were enough to put me off.

As the blurb was quite vague I was expecting a murder mystery before I started the book. The plot starts like a typical whodunnit, nine people arrive at a location with no means of contacting the outside world. What’s actually going on is much more sinister.

There is a sense early on in the book that something is not quite right with the retreat, but you’re not sure what. This builds up the tension in the book as you try to guess what’s going on behind the scenes. There are hints that the leaders of the retreat have plans that aren’t being shared with the guests, but I wasn’t expecting it to go much deeper than this.I certainly wouldn’t have guessed what was actually going on.

My rating: 3.5 stars, and I’m planning to move Big Little Lies further up my TBR list.

Reading This Week: 8 April 2019

I had a great reading week, I finished seven books last week. I read five books for my readathons (four for the O.W.L.s magical readathon and one for the Unsolvedathon). I’ll be posting reviews of some of these this week. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to set aside just as much time for reading this week.

I have a few review copies to read this week. I’m particularly excited about The Lights which I got a paperback copy of. This and The Humid don’t have any reviews, and Room 11 only has a couple so I don’t have any expectations going in and I’m really excited.

I’m also planning on reading Circe and The Chalk Man for the Unsolvedathon and Cruel Acts starting on The Pigeonhole.

How was your reading last week? What are you reading this week?

Pet Sematary: Book vs Film

Film adaptations seem to be hit and miss. They’re either great; The Hunger Games and The Book Thief (perfect), or they’re awful; The Maze Runner (I still haven’t watched 2&3), The Vampire’s Assistant (I can rant for hours), or The War of the Worlds (just no). With that in mind, reading Pet Sematary and watching the film so soon after probably wasn’t the best idea, but is what I did.

I really enjoyed the book, but thought the film was lacking. I think the changes made for the film removed some of the suspense and creepiness that made the book so good.

One of the first major changes is the relationship between Jud and Louis. Instead of the wonderful relationship they have in the book, Jud is the creepy neighbour, and the lack of relationship means that some of Jud’s actions don’t quite make sense, or take on a sinister edge. While in the book the relationship between Jud and the family mean that him showing Louis the place to bury Church demonstrates how much he cares about Ellie, whereas in the film Jud has barely interacted with the family so this action doesn’t have the pure intent behind it. In the film Jud also seems to be aware that this will change Church in a bad way, which doesn’t match with what we see in the book.

The film also changes which child is killed. While I partly understand the decision to kill Ellie instead, an older child can act the part of creepy zombie, this meant that one of the creepier parts of the book didn’t happen in the same way. Ellie having nightmares about what Louis was going to do, and scaring Rachel into trying to stop him, was one of the most sinister parts of the book, and while the film tried to recreate this with Gage, it didn’t create the same feeling of suspense and terror.

In the book we get to understand Louis’s thought process, which adds to the suspense, particularly at the end of the book. We don’t get the same sense of this in the film, and the ending differs quite a bit from the book. The film is quite forgettable and the end doesn’t leave you with anything, whereas you’re left with a feeling with unease after finishing the book.

Overall the movie seems to move closer to a stereotypical horror movie relying on jump scares, rather than building up the terror through the story where we both fear and understand Louis’s actions.

I’d recommend reading the book and skipping the movie. On an unrelated note if anything ever happens to Dominick then he’s being cremated.

Have you read/watched Pet Sematary? What did you think?