Book Review: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Original Screenplay)

“Do you know why I admire you, Newt? More, perhaps, than any man I know? You don’t seek power or popularity. You simply ask, is the thing right in itself? If it is, then I must do it, no matter the cost.”

Written by J.K. Rowling and a sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Crimes of Grindelwald begins with the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald escaping from MACUSA, and has set about gathering followers to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists the help of his former student, Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead.

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Book Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (Original Screenplay)

“See, they’re currently in alien terrain, surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet. Humans.”

Written by J.K. Rowling and a spin-off of her Harry Potter franchise, this beautiful hardcover edition captures Rowling’s screenwriting debut. Set in 1926 New York, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them follows ex-Hogwarts student Newt Scamander who travels to the city as part of a global study of fantastic beasts. But when he gets caught up in a conflict of a group of extremist No-Majs and a mystical act of destruction, some of the magical creatures in his case are accidentally released. With the help of a No-Maj named Jacob and two members of MACUSA (the American equivalent to the Ministry of Magic), he must find all of his creatures before they are blamed for the mysterious deaths that are adding up, causing magic and non-magic folk alike to panic.

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Book Review: Mythos – The Greek Myths Retold

“It is enough to say that the Greeks thought it was Chaos who, with a massive heave, or a great shrug, or hiccup, vomit or cough, began the long chain of creation that has ended with pelicans and penicillin and toadstools and toads, sea-lions, lions, human beings and daffodils and murder and art and love and confusion and death and madness and biscuits.”

Written by Stephen Fry, the Greek myths are retold in a brilliantly entertaining way as we learn about the greatest stories that have ever told. Passed down through millennia, the stories are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West, from the birth of the universe to the creation of humankind. Smart, funny, and informative, the stories of the Titans and Gods are ones we all recognise – from Athena’s birth from the crack in Zeus’s great head, Persephone’s trips down into the dark realm of Hades, the terrible and endless fate of Prometheus after his betrayal of Zeus, and the evil torments of Pandora’s jar. Their tales of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies are told in a spellbinding way, as Fry explores them in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

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My Reading List 2018

Over the past couple of years, I have documented every film that I have watched and reviewed them all using Letterboxd. As a way to motivate myself to read more, I thought I would do the same for what books I have been reading, using Goodreads as a way to set myself a reading challenge every year.

After reading only 6 books last year, I kept my target low this year and set myself the goal of 10 books. However, I somehow managed to read 20 books this year, mostly due to reading a book a day on my honeymoon.

Here’s how my 2018 challenge went, with a short review and rating for each of the books that I read:

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Book Review: This is Going to Hurt

“It’s sink or swim, and you have to learn how to swim because otherwise a ton of patients sink with you. I actually found it all perversely exhilarating. Sure it was hard work, sure the hours are bordering on inhumane and sure I saw things that have scarred my retinas to this day, but I was a doctor now.”

Published in 2017, This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor is a collection of diary entries by Adam Kay, a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010 who worked for the NHS before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. Selecting a variety of his experiences throughout his training, This Is Going to Hurt gives a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor, from the highest highs to the pain, sacrifice and life-altering situations that come with working on the front line of the NHS in its current crisis.

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Book Review: We Were Liars

“We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.”

2014’s We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is a modern young adult suspense book which focuses on the themes of family, morals, and self-acceptance. Narrated by Cadence, a brilliant but damaged girl, we are told all about her wealthy family who spend every summer gathered on their private island. With the summer of her fifteenth year approaching, Cadence can’t wait to spend time with her Liars – Johnny, Gat and Mirren. Their lives are seemingly perfect, especially as this is the year that Cadence and Gat begin to realise their true love for one another. But when something bad happens, Cadence suffers from memory loss and painful headaches and is told that she can’t go back to the island. Everybody seems to be keeping the accident a secret from her, and not even her Liars will tell her what happened. Cadence has to figure it out for herself. Two years later, they meet up once again to prompt Cadence to remember the incident.

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Book Review: Lying In Wait

“My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”

The 2016 book by Liz Nugent, Lying in Wait, follows the seemingly happy (if a little reclusive) Lydia Fitzsimons, who lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and respected judge, Alan, and beloved son, Laurence. But, one night, Lydia finds herself in an unfortunate situation with her husband when they meet up with a drug-addicted prostitute. They may have had their own plans that night, but they certainly didn’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden. While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son, her husband begins to fall apart. But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks, and his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.

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Book Review: Sleeping in the Ground (DCI Banks #24)

“If the incident had been a scene in a film, it would have looked beautiful. The violence would have taken place in elegantly choreographed silence and slow motion. Perhaps it would have started with the wedding party milling around outside the picturesque country church, then the camera would zoom in on a rose of blood blossoming from the bride’s white gown as she looks up, surprised, and floats serenely to the ground, arms reaching out, gasping for something too insubstantial to hold.”

The 24th book in Peter Robinson‘s DCI Banks series, published in 2017, Sleeping in the Ground begins with a shocking mass murder at a wedding in a small Dales church. A huge manhunt follows as Banks feels the need to dig deeper into the murders. But as he struggles with the death of his first serious girlfriend, Banks is plagued with doubts as to exactly what happened outside the church that day, and why. With the return of profiler Jenny Fuller into his life, he uncovers forensic and psychological puzzles that lead him to the past secrets that might just provide the answers he is looking for. But when the surprising truth becomes clear, it is almost too late.

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Book Review: Pretty Girls

“No matter what happened to you, no matter what horrors you endured when you were taken away, you will always be my pretty little girl.”

From the author of the Will Trent series, Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls is a 2015 thriller that follows two sisters, Claire and Lydia, who haven’t spoken in years. Claire is a glamorous trophy wife and Lydia is a single mother who struggles to make ends meet. When a pretty, young girl goes missing in their hometown, Claire and Lydia are reminded of their sister, Julia, who vanished without a trace when she was a teenager more than 20 years ago. Now, the two are brought back together when Claire’s husband is murdered, something that Lydia couldn’t be more happy about. But what could connect the disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man almost a quarter-century apart? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago.

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Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”

Gail Honeyman‘s 2017 debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, follows an out-of-the-ordinary character who leads a simple but strictly routined life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day, and she buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. But her life is anything but fine, as much as she will tell you otherwise.

Eleanor Oliphant is a little weird and struggles with appropriate social skills. She tends to say exactly what she’s thinking, and avoids all social interactions, apart from her unavoidable weekly chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling IT guy from her office, and they save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk. Although she hadn’t planned to welcome anyone into her once secreted life, Eleanor begins to look forward to changes in her schedule, as Raymond begins to rescue her from the life of isolation that she has been living, as she is forced to face the profoundly damaging past that she has been hiding from.

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Book Review: Then She Was Gone

“If she could rewind the timeline, untwist it and roll it back the other way like a ball of wool, she’d see the knots in the yarn, the warning signs. Looking at it backwards, it was obvious all along.”

Then She Was Gone is a 2017 book by Lisa Jewell, which sees a 15-year-old girl go missing just before her exams. 10 years later, her mother, Laurel, still hasn’t given up hope of finding her. But when she meets a charming stranger called Floyd in a cafe, Laurel’s breath is taken away by how much his nine-year-old daughter, Poppy, reminds her of Ellie. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. What really happened to Ellie? Where did she go? And who still has secrets to hide?

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Book Review: Unseen (Will Trent #7)

“If only Lena hadn’t found it. If only she could take a razor and slice the images out of her brain. They haunted her. They flickered into her vision like an old movie every time she blinked. They filled her with a constant, unrelenting sorrow.”

The seventh instalment in Karin Slaughter‘s Will Trent series of detective thrillers, 2013’s Unseen sees Special Agent Will Trent return with a secret, something he doesn’t want the woman he loves, Dr Sara Linton, to find out. He’s gone undercover in Macon, Georgia, and has put his life at risk to solve a case involving someone close to Sara – her stepson, Jared, who has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife and also a detective, responsible, so Will knows that she will never forgive him if she finds out the truth. As Will tries to solve his case, Sara is forced to confront her past and, without even knowing it, they become involved in the same crime. Soon, both of their lives are in danger.

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Book Review: The Escape

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

C.L. Taylor‘s 2017 thriller, The Escape, follows mother and wife Jo Blackmore who, when a stranger asks her for a lift, says yes. But she quickly wishes she hadn’t. The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband, Max, and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two-year-old daughter, Elise. What starts off as a series of inconvenient encounters soon turns into threats, police and social services involvement, and then even Jo’s own husband turns against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger, but Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – to escape.

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Book Review: The Lie

“I was escaping from a job I hated, Al was escaping from a failed relationship, Daisy was tagging along for the adventure, and Leanne… well, she was looking for somewhere to call home.”

C.L. Taylor‘s 2015 thriller, The Lie, follows Jane Hughes, an ordinary woman living in a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She has a caring boyfriend and a dream job working in an animal sanctuary and is happier than she’s ever been. But her name is not really Jane Hughes. Five years earlier, Emma went on a spa holiday with her three best friends to Nepal. It was the trip of a lifetime, until it rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women. Jane has tried to put her past behind her, but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves.

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My Reading List 2017

Over the past couple of years I have documented every film that I have watched and reviewed them all using Letterboxd.

As a way to motivate myself to read more, I thought I would do the same for what books I have been reading, using Goodreads as a way to set myself a reading challenge.

After completing my challenge of 15 books last year, I thought I would increase my goal to 20 books. However, it turns out that having a baby takes up more time than I thought it would, so this is the first year that I haven’t completed my challenge. Still, I thought I would share the few books that I did manage to find some time to read. Here’s how my 2017 challenge went, with a short review and rating for each of the books:

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Book Review: The Maze Runner – The Death Cure

“I watched as that kid died. In his last few seconds, there was pure terror in his eyes. You can’t do that. You can’t do that to a person. I don’t care what anybody tells me, I don’t care how many people go crazy and die, I don’t care if the whole shuck human race ends. Even if that was the only thing that had to happen to find the cure, I’d still be against it.”

The Death Cure is a 2011 young adult dystopian novel written by James Dashner and is the third book published in his Maze Runner series. Picking up where The Scorch Trials left off, Thomas has beaten the Maze and survived the Scorch, but WCKD has taken everything from him. Now, he’ll risk anything to save his friends. But there’s one final test. Thomas remembers far more than they think, and it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say. But the truth will be terrifying and it could be what ends it all. The time for lies is over. Is there a cure for The Flare? And will the Gladers make it out alive one last time?

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Book Review: The Mountain Between Us

“Maybe each of us was once a complete whole. A clear picture. A single piece. Then something happened to crack and shatter us. Leaving us disconnected, torn and splintered. Some of us lie in a hundred pieces. Some ten thousand. Some are edged with sharp contrast. Some dim shades of grey. Some find they are missing pieces. Some find they have too many. In any case, we are left shaking our heads. It can’t be done. Then someone comes along who mends a tattered edge or returns a lost piece. The process is tedious, painful, and there are no shortcuts.”

The Mountain Between Us is a 2011 romance novel by American author Charles Martin. The story follows Dr Ben Payne and writer Ashley Knox who are stranded in the High Uintas Wilderness after their charter plane crashes when the pilot has a heart attack mid-flight. With Ashley unable to move, Ben must carry her 75 miles to safety in the harsh conditions of the snow-capped mountains. The ordeal leads them to rely on each other to stay alive and, ultimately, brings them closer together.

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Book Review: The Accident

“You never feel heartache as keenly as you do when you’re young. You think it’ll destroy you and that you will never love, or be loved, again.”

The debut novel from C.L. Taylor and published in 2014, The Accident (Also known as Before I Wake) follows Sue Jackson, a mother and wife who seemingly has the perfect family. That is until her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma. Retracing her daughter’s steps, she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and is forced to look into the depths of her own past. There is a lot that Sue doesn’t know about Charlotte’s life. But then there’s a lot that Charlotte doesn’t know about Sue’s.

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My Reading List 2016

Over the past couple of years, I have documented every film that I have watched and reviewed them all using Letterboxd.

As a way to motivate myself to read more, I thought I would do the same for what books I have been reading, using Goodreads as a way to set myself a reading challenge.

So, this year I set myself a challenge of reading 18 books, and for the first time since doing so, I have managed to exceed my target, hooray!

Here’s how my 2016 challenge went, with a short review and rating for each of the books:

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Book Review: The Host

“This place was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds – the most beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions…the most malevolent desires, the darkest deeds. Perhaps it was meant to be so. Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached.”

From Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, The Host, originally published in 2008, follows 17-year-old Melanie Stryder who lives in a world which has been taken over by an unseen parasitic alien race known as Souls, who deem the humans as too violent to deserve the planet. With her body taken over by a Soul known as Wanderer, Melanie refuses to just fade away. When Wanderer starts hearing Melanie’s voice inside her head and begins experiencing memories of her brother, Jamie, and boyfriend, Jared, she sets out to risk everything to find Melanie’s loved ones, as she struggles to put aside the strong human emotions that are refusing to let her cooperate.

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