100 Happy Days 2: Day 41 – 50

We are coming up to the halfway mark here folks! Can you believe it?! Amazing.

Day 41:

Lazy Sunday meant a lovely, lazy slow cooker chicken curry. My goodness, it was awesome ❤

Day 42:

First French manicure in forever – nice and all, just usually find them boring. However, this worked out really nicely, and lasted three whole days before I decided I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Day 43:

Ran out of my favourite eyeliner recently (Avon Always On Point) and had to order more. The new ones finally arrived and all is right and balanced in my world again. Phew.

Day 44:

This “formal letter note” that Natasha left for me on my birthday a few years ago still endlessly entertains me. I am so lucky to have such an awesome bestie, truly! “This gift is not from me” xD gets me every time.

Day 45:

Whoop! I love it when I get to hit all my step goals at work, it’s great.

Day 46:

Hmmmm, a McDonald’s McFizz is just fantastic, so refreshing in this heat. Yummy!

Day 47:

Oh yeah! Got wool for a new project I am working on for myself. I am so in love with this red! Cannot wait to see how it all works out in the end.

Day 48:

Oh wow! I’m becoming a huge fan of this Yardley Supermoist lipstick for numerous reasons. It is really moisturising, the colour holds for some time, and the shade is amazing (Toffee Cream). I can see this becoming an everyday lipstick for me, it goes with pretty much anything.

Day 49:

You can never be too old for stuffed animals, in my opinion. This is a little sand filled lizard my husband got me when we went to the reptile park.

Day 50:

Love it – Pepsi and a good book.

Review: Dreaming of Antigone – Robin Bridges

dreaming of antigone cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: “I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him. – via Goodreads

GRADE 5I picked this up because it was recommended to me if I like John Green. So I checked it out, expecting something more like his work, and got Dreaming of Antigone, which I would not say is the not quite the same. Definitely a young adult novel, that’s for sure, and had me thinking “teenagers” more often than not due to numerous different incidents. I think the primary one was the falling in love in like, two days, like. I am not saying that in a derogatory sense, just stating that this book distinctly highlights the thinking pattern of kids. That was just a bit crazy. Not because it has never been seen before in a movie/novel, but because of the history shared by Andria and Alex. It’s rough, supposedly, and if that were real life, it would have been super hectic. The book tries to touch on exceptionally heavy themes, like drug addiction, guilt, medical conditions, resentment, dealing with loss, suicide, etc. but just didn’t handle these themes with as much finesse as it hoped to, and it actually quite soft about the issues, if we are being honest. It felt like they had been glossed over, more than anything. The characters are flat and the story is very, very predictable, which is a bit of a disappointment. Andria is not a character that I liked at all, she just seemed too detached from everything that was going on around her, and the whole thing with Alex was just a bit weird because it all went down so fast. As I said, they have some heavy history that seems to just disappear in a heartbeat, or a few lines of poetry. This was the type of relationship that was a bit sketchy to start with, and the rush job did nothing to make it seem more okay. Despite these drawbacks, the novel is a quick read and flows well, but definitely is not the story it could have been. It didn’t pack an emotional punch, and does not stand out after the fact at all. It did not get me thinking about anything, either, which is what I would have expected from a book dealing with the issues that this one touched on. I don’t know, maybe I am just harder to please, what with not being sixteen anymore and all that.

Review: Sacred – Dennis Lehane

dennis lehane sacred cover

Kenzie & Gennaro #3

Private investigators Patrick Kenzie and his partner, Angela Gennaro, seem to be out of the PI game, and so far it seems to be working them out alright. Except one day when they are kidnapped and taken to see Trevor Stone, a dying billionaire with a dying wish: his daughter, Desiree, needs to be found. She has gone missing after the death of her mother, in lieu of a severe depression. The original PI hired by Stone to find Desiree, Patrick’s role model Jay Becker, is also missing, and this seems to sway them. That, and Trevor manages to speak to the broken part within Angie that is still mourning the death of her ex-husband, Phil.

Trevor Stone is a man with plenty of power, and when Angie and Patrick start digging around, their leads take them to Grief Release, Inc. which seems to be some cover for cult-like church. Bubba Rugowski, their slightly psychopathic friend, assists in scaring the bejesus out of two members of Grief Release, Inc. especially after they make the mistake of wiping Patrick’s funds out. They also report to Trevor Stone that they may have a lead, one they got from their two very talkative friends at the hands of Bubba. Sean Price, their lead on Desiree and Jay, turns out to be Jeff Price, who had last swiped  his credit card in Florida. Stone spares no expense, and packs Angie and Patrick up and sends them down.

Hunting down any and all leads possible, the more they hear about the Stones, the more they think the people are crazy. Desiree is beautiful, but broken, and Trevor is dying, but extremely rich and used to getting his own way. Naturally, Stone sends his own men to tail Angie and Patrick, who shake them and start looking. In Florida they discover Jay Becker in prison for killing Jeff Price and completely grief stricken over Desiree’s murder. Bailing him out, Angie and Patrick start re-evaluating the case from scratch, sure that they have missed something. Stone has his own stories about his daughter and all, and Jay has totally different, grotesque stories from Desiree about Stone, and there are many little things that are just not adding up across the board, making Patrick and Angie rather fidgety. Nothing is as it seems, and some terrifying rumours about Stone and his power surfaces. Patrick and Angie are even caught in the midst of it later, though they are trying their best to keep Jay in Florida, and not to rush off to Boston to even out the cards with Trevor Stone. Being away from Boston is certainly bringing Angie out of her shell a bit more.

What is really going on? Why were Desiree and Price together so long? Why is Trevor Stone so determined to find his daughter? Are Angie and Patrick ever going to acknowledge what is between them? Will they ever realise their importance to one another? What will Stone do to Patrick and Angie? Will Jay Becker make good on his threat to kill Stone for the things Desiree claimed he did?

GRADE 7I liked this one. Lehane surely knows how to write a fast and slick novel, which is a winner. This was a pretty short read, and didn’t really have a hell of a lot of surprises popping up (they’re good, we all knew they were going to find Desiree Stone). What I really liked about this novel, and probably what makes it so good for me, is the relationship changes between Angie and Patrick. It is just something that is so totally worth the read in every sense of the word. They are more than just best friends and partners in business, they are twined together in an inexplicably beautiful way. Lehane works wonders with this neo-noir genre of his, and this Kenzie and Gennaro series is so cool. The plot for Sacred raced along, and I liked reading about Bubba and Nelson in the beginning, and how Bubba is always such a great help, though there is no denying that he is not all straight upstairs. I like that though. It works for this setting. Angie dealing with Phil’s loss is still going on here, but it never takes centre stage, but neither is it forgotten. I wish we had heard more about the church, though, as well as whatever the hell happened with Patrick’s money. Look, sure, I get it. After being visited by Bubba, I am sure the colossal mistake would have been fixed, but I would liked to have heard when it was resolved. What I did like a lot was the conclusion of this book, it came together nicely and wrapped things up. This book did not feel as distinct as the previous two, but it did sink it’s teeth into the aspects of Angie and Patrick, and I will have appreciation for that. It adds so much more dynamic to all that is going on. Anyway, another solid read, and definitely worth checking out. I think these books will certainly appeal to guys that don’t read a lot – they just strike me as those kind of books. You don’t need to be a reader to appreciate that they flow nicely and are sharp and witty.

Review: The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

Night Circus, The

SYNOPSIS: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. – via Goodreads

Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are recommended that I check this one out. Obviously I had to oblige, and I am so glad that I did. Whatever you do, don’t think you know what is coming because of the description of the jacket of the book or via Goodreads. In fact, rather go in blind (I did, and reading the write up after the fact it is and isn’t the story, at the same time). Initially it took me a while to get into the writing style, it was a little disconcerting, very abrupt and blunt, which didn’t help at all towards flow. Also, the story is told in disjointed parts, which could frustrate you, but just go with it and it is immensely rewarding!

The story is not told in extreme lavish detail or anything, but it is rich when it comes to the circus. As a reader you know more solidly how the competition will end, though it is shrouded in mystery within the novel. The circus is described beautifully, all lacking in colour and all gives it a terribly dreamlike quality, which is amazing. Not only that, the magic starts to seep from the pages in a sense, and you are drawn in, making the discoveries alongside Celia and Marco. I wish I could adequately describe the feeling you get when reading this book… ethereal, enchanting, mesmerizing and dreamlike. You can see the circus, smell it, damn near taste it!

The relationship between Marco and Celia is painfully beautiful, drawing you in, feeding you with a passion and a mystery you would not have believed possible based purely on the writing style from the beginning, though their love story is not wholly unexpected. It is chaste and frustrating at times, but I think the circus and the love story that lingers throughout it is what totally owns your attention throughout the pages. The circus was the venue, of course, and the moves of the challenge the love letters between the magicians, and I thought it was really well done.

I do have an issue with how sometimes the book felt a little distant, due to how Morgenstern writes, but at the same time it is almost perfectly suited for the tale that is told. Initially when I started this book, I was not totally sold. I had some severe issues with some things (the writing style, the lack of explanations, no real character depth), but then later I was drawn in and I fell in love, and all the earlier parts start fitting in and working wonders. I was disappointed by the challenge, overall, and the book description doesn’t help much because it gears you up for some crazy epic showdown, and that is not quite how it goes.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Night Circus, and I am looking forward to revisiting it so that I can look at the smaller nuances, catch things that might be more beautiful the second time around. Thanks lady, I must say this was a spectacularly magical recommendation!

Review: Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer

eclipse cover stephenie meyer

Twilight #3

Bella Swan and her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen are finally back together after an exceptionally unsuccessful breakup. This works them out well, but it absolutely crushes werewolf Jacob Black’s heart. He is Bella’s best friend and he is hopelessly in love with her. Bella’s dad, Charlie, grounded her after disappearing when she went to save Edward’s life in Italy, though he does not know this. Jacob is not taking any of Bella’s calls, and Charlie is being totally nasty to Edward, though he deserves it all. In an attempt to get Bella grounded to prevent her seeing Edward, Jacob brings the motorcycle he fixed up for her home. He soon establishes that that is not the reason that she has not been to see him.

Bella, meanwhile, is desperate to see Jacob again, to find a way to be his friend. Edward will not let her anywhere near the La Push reservation where Jacob stays, though she truly wants to fix things. This ends up with her launching an escape to spend time with Jacob. Bella and Edward argue furiously over this, until such time as Edward sees that he cannot force her to leave her friend behind, never mind the fact that the vampires and werewolves are sworn enemies. Things go so much better for Bella after this agreement is reached, though she still has to deal with Jacob, who is constantly making his feelings for her clear. Graduation is coming up, and much to Edward’s chagrin, the rest of the Cullen family took a vote on Bella’s wish for immortality to be with Edward forever and have decided that Carlisle will turn her after graduation. This adds more friction between her and Jacob.

It seems that someone is hunting Bella again, and the Cullens are worried that it is the Volturi, coming back to see if the Cullens have kept their word and turned Bella. Whoever it is is making sure that Alice, Edward’s sister with the gift of seeing the future, does not see who is doing what and where. Edward is desperate to keep Bella mortal for as long as possible, and proposes that he will turn her himself on the condition that she marry him. Ultimately she gives into this demand, though she is extremely upset. In Seattle, there is a huge problem with a bunch of newborn vampires being made. Soon it becomes clear that the newborns are likely to launch an attack against the Cullens, and that Bella seems to be the target. Jacob is anxious, and his pack gets involved, a truce is being spoken about.

Will the werewolves and vampires stand together? Who is coming for Bella? Are they also responsible for the newborn army of vampires that is being bred in Seattle? Will Jacob and Edward ever get over their rift? Will Jacob ever accept the fact that Bella is with Edward and off limits? Will their friendship endure? What will Jacob do when he hears about the fact that Edward and Bella are to be married? Will he ever accept that she has requested to be turned?

GRADE 5It just so happens that I have somehow managed to drag my way through three of these things. I am going to chalk it up to the fact that you can read one of these in an afternoon. But alright. Also, as soon as I accepted what the hell I was reading, it didn’t totally piss me off anymore, it reduced to an irritation at best. Eclipse was infinitely better than that piece of garbage New Moon, so that’s saying something. Meyer’s writing has improved a bit here, but I can still not say that she is a particularly good writer. There is just too much that gets on my nerves. Obviously Bella and Edward can never just be happy, and I am so over her referencing classics. She has not written a classic, that is all. I enjoyed it a bit more when the stupid jealousy thing between Jacob and Edward reached a place that it was manageable, though I honestly think that Bella acts like a freaking child and then has the gall to get all peevish about things when they don’t go her way. I don’t know how Meyer can still claim that Bella is a mature girl for her age – I think she’s like an obsessing rugrat. But whatever. I was also a little fazed by the way that Charlie was alright with Jacob kissing Bella, though she was obviously superbly unimpressed by it seeing as she broke her hand trying to get him off of her. That just didn’t sit right with me – like your daughter has actually seriously hurt herself in an upset, don’t humour the guy she broke her hand on. I know this is going to sound mad, but hear me out. I think there is zero passion in the relationship between Bella and Edward, which makes this all the more irritating to read about seeing as there is nothing in the relationship to sort of draw you in or interest you. It’s hollow. Then she’s gotta beg for sex… like there are two sides to this story, I get it. He wants to get married, she is adversely against it in the absolute extreme, he is forcing her hand on that, and she wants to get laid. It was so freaking annoying, that is all. I seriously am over Jacob flipping between being a toolbag and being nice, but I also think Bella needs to get the hell over herself. One or the other, stop dragging everyone along with it. There was nothing revolutionary about the plot but I did like reading more about Jasper. He is one of my favourite characters. It amuses me that Meyer manages to write really good supporting characters, but her mains just lack a bit, you know?