Review: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass #2

SYNOPSIS: “A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for. – via Goodreads

Well, well, well, this series is shaping up to be far better than I had originally anticipated. Throne of Glass was decent, and enough to draw me in, and this book is a marked improvement over even that. We have moved on from that rather silly competition, and there is a lot more character growth going on here, and a look into all sorts of scheming and wheeling and dealing, that was only ever alluded to in the first book.

Chaol and Celaena totally get things rolling between them, and I do like them together. They fit nicely, and though Dorian is still sulking in the corner, he seems decent enough to be stepping back and not being some weird imposition the whole time. I think he will definitely find someone else that works for him so much, and I can’t wait to see who that is. Okay, but on the Chaol and Celeana front – I was so peeved about the let down that it was when they finally got to bedding each other. I didn’t necessarily want super raunchy or anything, but after 1.5 books, it was a bit tame and such a let down. Oh well. Also, while I do like them together, I don’t think they will last together. Chaol is too blindly loyal to the King, and oftentimes comes across as someone who has no sense of self, just a puppet. And he can be really whiny. I think that while he is good for Celaena now, she is certainly stronger than he is, so I guess we will see where they go together.

Anyway, Celeana being the King’s Champion means that she is up to all sorts of things, though she is steadfast against helping Nehemia and her rebel movement in any which way. This leads to obligatory strife, but all is good. There are plenty characters going about things in this book, but we still really focus on the main ones. Dorian, too, is going through some interesting things, and I can see how important this is going to be later on, which is all good for me, and I am totally looking forward to seeing what the King has really been up to and what his future plans are. I really wished we had gotten more time with Dorian in this, but whatever time we did get seemed to be well spent.

Crown of Midnight is a pretty damn good read. It reads quickly and sucks you in and gives you so much more of the world that Maas is successfully building. There is a plot twist at the end that isn’t really much of a plot twist, and has a second plotsie to go with it which also doesn’t shock much, but it is good to know that it is all in the open and I am keen to see where all goes from here. I am quite liking these!

Scream: Season 2 (2016)

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scream season 2 poster

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • Noah. Foster. Again, the dude is mah spirit animal and I absolutely adore him. He is geeky, awkward, crazy as heck, a little more withdrawn in this season, but whatever. As long as he is here 😀 Also liked seeing him try to get back on the dating horse again – gosh, it is awkward (just think of that condom shopping, and his interactions with Zoe), but I am happy for him!

scream-season-2-noah-dreams

  • The new sheriff, Acosta. He is a different kind of beast, but I like the way he approaches situations and handles things.
  • Still a big fan of the throwbacks, the rules, Noah’s podcast voicing so much, as well as how meta and aware the show is at the best of times.
  • The dynamics between the Lakewood Six. Really cool friendships have developed between these kids.

scream-season-2-emma-ghostface

What I didn’t like:

  • The score. I totally forgot how crap the music was for this show. It is really sad though, because I think it really detracts from the show.
  • Emma Duval. I know she is our main peanut and all, but she still really annoys me – she is never going to be Sidney Prescott.
  • The blackmail. I don’t know – but I think the blackmail paired with this horrendous score made me think of Pretty Little Liars, and that is not a compliment. Okay, and the phone call games made me think of Saw.
  • How bland and boring this season was at the best of times. Disappointing.
  • A lot of story lines got introduced and then randomly dropped, which was really annoying.
  • The MAJOR PLOTSIE at the end was totally not as shocking as they would have wanted it to be. Something I have wondered about since season one, and I think the implementation of it when all is said and done here at the end of this was a bit messy.

scream-season-3-brooke-breaks
Rating:

Alright, so this silly show has is sort of like a guilty little pleasure of mine. I say this because the show is undoubtedly messy, and it is super flawed, but it is also stupidly entertaining, and for that I will have to give it credit. Anyway, I didn’t rush when I saw there was a new season because, well, I totally had bigger fish to fry, but eventually I had some time to fill with something else. This was that something else.

This season was so much tamer than last season. There were no shocking deaths, the gore was not as out there as last season, and it was truly a lot slower and more bland than season one, which is a pity, but also sort of something I expected. There were also other issues that we will get into as I go along, but there were also good things.

Let’s start with Noah Foster still being the king and the biggest reason that I watch this show. For realsies, that guy is my spirit animal, and I absolutely adore him. What a sweetie! I found that he was a lot more reserved this season as opposed to the last one, and while I still admire him, I wish he had some more oomph. It was great to see him get back into the dating game because seriously, this guy is an insanely awkward turkey! Also, his antics in getting laid? That condom shopping? That had me in absolute stitches, and this whole season is pretty much worth watching just for that. I really liked him and Zoe together, so I was quite sad that Noah had the world dumped on his shoulders again.

scream-season-2-noah-and-zoe-omg

Another thing I really liked is to see the friendships that have developed between the Lakewood Six, what with the survival of the psycho (but not shocking) Piper Shaw. I guess something like that is sure to bring everyone closer. I would have loved to have seen more Audrey and Noah in this one. I thought they didn’t get enough time together – seriously, the guy couldn’t even see that she was super jumpy after the whole Piper thing? I thought it was nice to see how Brooke fits in with the others. Speaking of Brooke – I thought it was awful that Jake was barely even buried and she had taken up with Gustavo already. Girl, really???

I had an absolute ball when Audrey pointed out to Emma that not everything is about her. It really took way too long for someone to open up their damn mouths and point out the painfully obvious. I know we are supposed to like Emma, but she really grates on me. I find her to be quite spineless and insipid, neither characteristics that will ever endear her to me. While we are at it, what the heck is the obsession with Emma? Eli is the new one to add to this mix, and the guy is creepy as hell, no lies. I was not a fan of him at all. Icky, and dude, that is your cousin’s girlfriend, have some respect and go fish somewhere else! Not to mention Mr Branson and his teen obsession popping up here again – nasty, man!

scream-audrey-and-brooke

The big reveal at the end about the new villain was so not a shocker – in fact, I have been waiting for something in this line since the first season. It was not revolutionary, and I don’t think it was handled well either. Not because the actors didn’t pull it off, but because they were let down by a faulty script. Shame, too. While we are at the big shootout and all, how many freaking rounds can that gun hold?! I could not buy into it. What madness!

Anyway, definitely a slower season than last, and not nearly as edgy, nor as unsafe for the characters as season one, Scream season 2 is still not the worst way to burn through some time, specially when you don’t really have to invest too much, or think further than “these stupid kids”. There isn’t really much more to say on the matter.

scream-season-2-family-jealousy

Review: Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass #1

SYNOPSIS: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. – via Goodreads

Well, after the pain and suffering that was the Court of Thorns and Roses books, I have been super reticent about checking any more of Maas’s work out, though I have wondered about this series off and on for years. Seriously, after that flipping A Court of Mist and Fury (truly, fuck that book to the ends of the earth), I was not even remotely interested. Natasha realised that I had a major issue with Maas after that, and when she read these, she loved them, but kept it low key and didn’t even remotely recommend that I check them out. So, with no pressure, I eventually needed something to read recently and was really in the mood for some fantasy. That is how we ended up here.

Well, this is a totally different beast compared to the ACOTAR series. For one, I actually liked it. For reals. Yes, sure, the book is still plagued with the typical Maas issue of being far longer than necessary, but aside from that, I was actually interested. The book is also really easy to read, and just breezes by, even though it is a touch long. There is, of course, this little love triangle that crops up in it, and it almost feels that it didn’t strictly need to be in it.

Celaena is not a nuisance, and I quite liked her. I know that she is cocky and self sure, but this is not necessarily a bad thing – she has spine and oomph, and I like that. Then there is Chaol, and this is the horse I was backing! Yes, Dorian is beautiful and charming and all that (and I certainly want so much more of him and did love reading about him and Celaena), but Chaol is the one that I was all for. He challenges her and sees her and just… they click really well together. That being said, I would love more Dorian. The competition that we get in this to set everything up is not quite as hardcore as one would expect, and fluctuates between being written about in a lot of detail or being glossed over. The third act with all its reveals and all that is where things really start rolling, and sets up for a lot more to come.

Overall, I quite liked Throne of Glass. There is a lot of potential to be found in this series, and I am interested to see where it all goes. I totally did not expect to like these books at all, but so far, so good! Yes, a little long winded, and Maas still has a really nasty fixation on vomit, but neither of those detracts from the story. I will most certainly be reading more in this series.

 

Review: Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale – Holly Black

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Modern Faerie Tales #1

SYNOPSIS: Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death. – via Goodreads

You know, I was such a big fan of The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King that I was quite looking forward to checking out other books from Holly Black, but I have to say that I was extremely underwhelmed by this book. Honestly, if I did not know that they were written by the same person, I would never have guessed it. The writing style is worlds apart!

Tithe is quite crazy – and not necessarily in a good way. The writing is super stinted, and also the flow of the book is all over the show. There is virtually no logic to it, and it is so weird. There are absolutely no likeable characters here. They’re all just… not nice, and really nasty and cruel and it just isn’t any good (for me). This book also seems to be geared at YA readers, which is a little wild because I do feel that the content is quite a bit more mature. I mean, the lead character is supposed to be around 15/16, and is dealing with a seriously neglectful mother, smokes heavily, drinks a lot, is essentially homeless, lives quite trashy, and sex is only thinly veiled in this. Which is not to say all a bad thing, but the roughness makes this a bit much for me to see as YA o.O Maybe I am just a prude, whatever.

There is also the romance between Kaye and Roiben. I want to say I like it, as it is the best thing about this book, but that isn’t saying much, because even the romance is meh. She vacillates between hating him (for what, I don’t even know), to desperately pining for him (again, wtf). There isn’t even real conflict between them. It feels like it was shoehorned in. Anyway, I thought this was super messy. There was a story told with no rhyme or reason, so you can’t even give a crap. There are no characters to like and root for, and the writing is all over the show. I don’t think I will be rushing for a reread for this, and will stick to The Folk of the Air books.

Review: American Satan (2017)

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“Okay, okay, fine. So, what else do you do?”
– Ricky Rollins

SYNOPSIS: A young rock band, half of its members from England and half from the U.S., drops out of college and moves to the Sunset Strip to chase their dreams. – via IMDB

So we were recommended this by a fellow metalhead friend, so naturally my husband and I were sold. We love metal, we love movies, we had hope. After watching the trailer, we thought that this was a pretty solid looking movie. So we hopped up for American Satan, and ultimately it was a really mixed bag for us.

While watching, my husband and I were a bit let down by the music. It’s just not our type of metal – which is not to say that this is bad, it just isn’t our cup of tea. I still commented that it reminded me of that angsty, screamo type stuff like Black Veil Brides/bands of that ilk. I then found out after that Biersack is the BVB lead o.O So, there was that. But anyway. Moving on from the music – the movie itself wasn’t too shabby. I mean, it escalated really quickly, from like “we’re in L.A. and we are going to do what we must to make it”, to “fuck yeah, lemme kill that dude and sell my soul to Satan for fame”.

Naturally, you can’t look too closely at the logic in a movie like this, even though the escalation was super rapid and super extreme. I did like watching how the band went from one thing to this huge beast, and it was interesting to see how it all plays out, how the band influences the masses, etc. Naturally what follows is the expected debauchery and insanity of a big rock band on tour. There are plot holes, for sure, but for the most part, just sit back and go with it.

So not all the acting was top notch or perfect in this, and there were times where it was a little cringy and awkward, but it still worked. I liked watching certain friendships, and I liked the fact that this movie didn’t look like some really cheap movie – which is good. A lot of times, movies like this won’t necessarily look like films that had money to play with. So it looks good and it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t, and I liked the satire it presented on the music industry peppered throughout.

I was looking forward to this after hearing about it, and while it didn’t necessarily deliver all the goods, it wasn’t an awful watch. The music might not have been my jam, but it was nice to see a metal movie. It’s worth a look see, at the very least, if you are into metal.

Review: Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman

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Practical Magic #1

SYNOPSIS: The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic… – via Goodreads

You know, I remember watching this movie when I was younger and enjoying it. I have not seen it in years, and I think I might give it a shot again. I might have to to see how it all comes together. Meanwhile, back to the book itself? I am not a fan. I don’t get how this is a cult classic. Practical Magic feels like a book that had high aspirations and shot for the stars and completely missed.

For one, I could have done with more magic. I mean way more. But then I was all like no worries, let’s go for an understated kind of magic, but it even manages to let you down. There are sections of the book that should get under your skin and give you a creep factor and a fear for the characters, but that, too, is glanced over so quickly and you never really get to sink your teeth int any kind of emotion. I think a big issue for me is that I am not a fan of the style in which Hoffman wrote this. It’s just… rushed, like you are reading someone’s notes for an idea for the story.

I did like the way the sisters were with each other, how they pulled together and pushed apart the whole time. There were also Sally’s daughters, whom I liked. I thought the relationship between Kylie and Gideon to be so sweet and childlike, and it worked. The love angle for this book was seriously just… meh. Bland. Forced. Rushed. Senseless. There are so many words that I could use here to describe it, but it just fell flat.

As you can tell, Practical Magic was not my favourite read. It’s a book that feels incomplete and rushed, and I don’t get the love for it. There were aspects I truly enjoyed and plenty of places where I could see the awesomeness trying to break through, but overall it was a complete waste for me. Oh well. I can say I have read it now at least.

Review: The Summer Children – Dot Hutchison

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The Collector #3

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: This FBI agent has come to expect almost anything—just not this…

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might. – via Goodreads

Just quickly: it chaps my ass I can’t find a proper, big image for this damn review of the cover. UGH!

You know, I really have a like/hate relationship with these books. They are by no means bad books, not at all, but I find them to be wildly inconsistent and that they never really deliver the goods. Ever. Now, let’s move on.

The Summer Children naturally features all these terribly broken FBI agents once again. You don’t dislike them, but you have to wonder how they are all cleared for duty, what with their various issues, because their issues are not necessarily ones they have successfully dealt with, as the fear is constantly with them. Anyway. We also, naturally, have Priya, Bliss, and Inara rejoin in here, and it is always nice to read about them.

This book focuses on Mercedes and all the crap she has been through, and I must say this book has been my least favourite read of the lot so far. I don’t know why. I read it and I was interested, but I always feel that while Hutchison deals with dark topics, they don’t have a true feeling of dread. It is also not helped along when you read about all this awful stuff going down, and these agents revert to children, all having huge sleepovers and falling apart at the seams.

I don’t think these are books I will ever go back to reread, but if Hutchison does any more I will likely read them because they aren’t difficult reads. Yes, they deal with some heavy issues, but as I said, it feels more like they are touched upon than actually explored really in depth. If you have read the books, you will know what I mean. I mean we explore nasty crimes and get in depth looks at different characters in each of the books, but it feels superficial when all is said and done. Okay, I am going to stop now. I don’t really have anything other to say than it was okay.

Sporadic Scene: Drive (2011) – Elevator Kiss

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I have an indecent obsession with this scene. I know Brian is a huge fan of the fact that a murderer just waited this out, but it is one seriously rewarding moment in cinema for me. For the whole damn movie the relationship between Irene and the Driver is so chaste, so pure and they never step over the boundaries. I loved it, every second of it. The tension drove me wild, and when this kiss finally happened, it was beyond beautiful. Everything about this scene is absolutely perfect, and the way Driver touches Irene so gently and kisses her and her response to him… goosebumps without fail every time. OMG.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a link to the scene and an explanation as to why.

Review: Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare

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The Dark Artifices #1

SYNOPSIS: It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it? – via Goodreads

Oh. My. Gosh. Yes, me, back at these books, because I am a hopeless Cassandra Clare junkie. In the most extreme. Any excuse to return to the world of Shadowhunters and I am there. So. I am very pleased that a few years have passed in between since City of Heavenly Fire, as that was the one thing I was worried about – I wasn’t really in the mood to read about 12 years olds. However, Clare masterfully moves us on a few years until after the turmoil that was Sebastian Morgenstern is not the be all and end all.

So we move on with Emma Carstairs, and I grew to quite like her. Then again, I expected nothing less. Cassandra Clare writes great characters. Oh, and Julian. I love it. I feel for him, I really do. That he is the pillar the holds the family up is so sad. Mark Blackthorn returns, and I felt for him. I am so pleased that he has returned, but it has most certainly not been an easy return. Not for him, and not for the Blackthorn family. I had a suspicion the Kieran thing was going to go the way it did, but that was fine. Also, exploring two parabatai that want more than they may have, this has seriously interesting potential to it. Then again, what would a Clare book be without a forbidden love angle? Not that I am complaining, she delivers the goods better than anyone else!

I loved reading about Magnus Bane, even though it was just snippets. And, naturally, slurping up any and all information pertaining to Clary and Jace, because, you know, that was just soooo my jam.

Okay, so something that did annoy me a bit? We are always told and reminded how rare parabatai are (and you know how incredibly fascinated I am by the concept), though it is starting to turn into every second person has one, and I don’t like that. It’s like… it’s killing the magic?

But, mini gripe aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this. A new story, with new issues, events deeply rooted in the events of The Mortal Instruments series, and yet confident enough to stand on its own, I thoroughly enjoyed Lady Midnight. Not Clare’s strongest offering ever, but not one to be overlooked. I cannot wait to see where this story goes.

Review: John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019)

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“Are services still off limit to me?”
– John Wick

SYNOPSIS: Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere. – via IMDB

Okay, so this is something I have been looking forward to since John Wick 2, because I love the hell out of these movies. The first John Wick blew my mind, and I have been hooked ever since. We hopped off to see this on opening weekend and, naturally, had a good time.

John Wick 3 is teeming with action. The movie picks up immediately after the conclusion of the last movie, and it never really slows down in between. There is an absolutely fantastic knife fight in the beginning that I had a really good time with. Later, we also have Halle Berry and her badass dogs knocking about, and it all works. Obviously this movie is beautiful to look at, they have all been. Story wise, it offers more than its predecessor, but again, it only hints and plays at things, it does not necessarily get into the nitty gritty.

A complaint I do have is that the villain John is set against in this. I feel that Zero was really flat. As a fighting opponent, it was great to watch the two of them go each other, but I was not really sold on anything the moment he opened his mouth. The humour fell flat and was cringy and verbal interactions between Zero and John just totally pulls you out of the experience every time. I also feel that Asia Kate Dillon’s Adjudicator was also a rather wasted character. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Broyles Lance Reddick featuring in this (again) and totally owning his screen time. Always delivering on the laugh. Al Winston is also back in full swing, and I really feel that Ian McShane is hands down the best actor that could have been chosen to play him.

Anyway, John Wick 3: Parabellum is a worthy addition to the franchise, what with fantastic action sequences, a good score, fun humour and visually pretty, it is well worth a look see.