Top 10 Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday looks at popular books that lived up to the hype. I could name quite a few books that didn’t live up to their hype, but here are the ones that I think did. We’ll have to leave the ones that didn’t for another day.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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Film Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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Film Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again    

Release date: 20th July 2018

Director: Ol Parker    

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgĺrd, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Andy Garcia, Meryl Streep and Cher    

Runtime: 114 minutes

Genre: Musical, Romance  

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

The much anticipated sequel to Mamma Mia!, ten years on from the original film, carries the same spark and barmy hilarity as the first. Five years later, Sophie is getting ready to open the hotel on the island that her mother dreamed of, while the story of Donna’s three love affairs many years earlier is told in flashbacks.

If you loved Mamma Mia!, you’ll probably love the sequel. If you didn’t like the first, this probably isn’t the film for you. The plot is a little flimsy, but really that’s not the point. This is a feel-good film and it definitely ticks that box.

Lily James was brilliant as the young Donna and it was great to see all the younger versions of the original cast. Now we know what happened on the island all those years ago! I wondered if it were really necessary to see the prequel side to the story, but I actually loved watching the story of young Donna. The returning cast also did a great job at reprising their roles in the sequel side to the plot.

The return of songs Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen were very welcome, as they are two of my favourites. Those who were disappointed Waterloo didn’t make the main movie first time round will be pleased to see it included as a main musical number in the sequel. Being too young to have grown up with ABBA, it was nice to have some of their less well-known songs included in this film, as I was introduced to some new ones I hadn’t really heard before.

As with the first film, there are some slightly odd and barmy sequences but that’s the charm of these films. So much of it is silly and cheesy but I couldn’t help smiling most of the way through. There are some very funny moments that made the whole theatre laugh aloud. On the flip side to that there were some sad and touching moments (I will admit I may have shed a tear or two).

At the end I was left smiling and wanting to sing ABBA songs and dance through the streets – except this is the UK we’re talking about and I’d probably have got some funny looks. If you want a feel-good film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and will leave a smile plastered on your face for the rest of the day, this is the movie to see.

Book Review: Plague by Michael Grant

81apkuk0bplPlague by Michael Grant  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2011)

Pages: 560

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

They’ve survived hunger. They’ve survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.

But enemies in the FAYZ don’t just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they’ll escape or even survive life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

I have mixed feelings about Plague, the fourth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. If you’re squeamish, there are some scenes in this novel that will really make you want to close the book. Warning: do not eat while reading this. I really shouldn’t have been surprised since the title of the book is ‘Plague’. There are people coughing their insides out or having evil bugs hatching out of them and eating them alive – gross. Let’s not linger on that.

Grossness aside, this is a great book. While the previous books in the series felt quite disjointed to me, this one fit together much better. Each of the individual threads were tied together so nothing felt random or out of place like some of the scenes or story lines in the previous books did. All of the plot elements were heading in one direction, which made this novel gel better.

The power relations and struggles are really interesting in this book and the series as a whole. Dynamics between all the characters is one of the things that keeps pulling me back to this series. It’s great to see how relationships, friendships and rivalries evolve over the course of the story as different problems are thrown at the characters.

There is so much complexity in all of the characters and they continue to develop in this novel, which I am glad about since that is something that was lacking in the first two books. Some of them did annoy me a bit in this book, but they have been through hell so I can maybe forgive them for being irritating. Nobody’s always nice. Nobody’s always perfect. Toto – a new character – added some much needed humour to what is a very grim series. Not laugh out loud comedy – that would be kind of out of place – but enough to give me a wry grin and break up all the disaster, tragedy and death going on left right and centre.

There are some issues in this series with presentation of female characters. At times they are presented as weak and needing saving or protecting. At the beginning of the series as well there seemed to be an imbalance of lead male/female characters. However, the more I think about it and further the story goes on, there are some really good things. There are a long list of female characters who are strong for one reason or another – Dekka, Brianna, Dahra, Lana and more. Brianna saves Caine’s arrogant butt in this book which made me figuratively punch the air – I wouldn’t do that literally…. Dahra is someone who I feel gets forgotten about, but she’s running a hospital practically on her own, trying to learn as much as she can from textbooks, and is the one who figures out they need a quarantine to stop the plague spreading. So while there are some problems, there are also some really great parts to the presentation of female characters in this series.

There was no let-up in this book. It was packed with lots of action and suspense and the ending was so mysterious and intriguing. I’m still really not sure how this series is going to end, and that’s one of the things that keeps me reading. It’s unpredictable and I want to see how this tangled web is going to be resolved.

Mid-year Reading Round Up 2018

33154647We’re already halfway through 2018! So today I’m looking back at what my best books have been so far this year and looking ahead at what novels I want to sink my teeth into in the second half of 2018. According to Goodreads I’m on track to reach my 2018 Reading Challenge goal of 25 books, having read 12 so far this year.

Two books that I loved were Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray and The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Defy the Stars had me hooked all the way through and I loved the darkness of The Young Elites. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass was also a highlight.

I finished Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy but unfortunately was disappointed by the final book, Ruin and Rising. The series is still a favourite of mine though. Other books that didn’t live up to my hopes were The Girl King by Meg Clothier and S.T.A.G.S. by M. A. Bennett – both had great concepts and potential, but could have been much better.

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