Review: The Bat – Jo Nesbø

5

Harry Hole #1

SYNOPSIS: Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case. Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case. – via Goodreads

You know, I have been interested in reading these books for years as you always see Nesbø books around the bookstore and all that, then there was the movie that came last year that people got excited about and it apparently let them down. Well, I saw this one at the library the other day and figured I would give it a shot, even though I have it on my Kindle because there is nothing like reading a physical book.

I believe that the first two books in this series were translated long after the subsequent novels, which is interesting. I also understand that the original two offerings are the weakest of the lot, so let me get into it. The translation is really good, you don’t get hung up on the fact that the book is translated. Maybe it is because Harry is a Norwegian man in Australia, so you are constantly in Australia as is, and not in his native hometown, so there is no constant reminder that English is not the first language of the book. Now, that being said, there are some issues.

For one, there aren’t a lot of likeable characters, and this includes our main peanut. I was also not super impressed with Harry’s relapse, and how he somehow managed to solve a case he had no business being in anymore. Also, the villain is a total let down. A complete and utter let down. There were times where I felt that the book was trying to be too smart, and ultimately ended up too confused for its own good, but it is what it is. The direction and pacing also felt a little strange to me, but yeah.

The story itself moves quickly, though the characters are quite meh, and it feels like its running in circles. The mystery had more potential than it ultimately delivered. I do think that the book takes more heat than it deserves, and that may very well be because people started later in the series and got a more complete man to follow as opposed to this one. Anyway. I did like the scattered premise, and I did like that it was a quick and easy read, and I did like reading about Aboriginal history in pieces here and there as well as some of the cultural stories, I thought they were some of the strongest and most fascinating pieces of the book.

I liked that Harry as such a flawed protagonist, so while The Bat might not be the most solid book I have ever read, I am willing to get through the first two to see what Nesbø does with Harry Hole. He is interesting and has loads of potential, and even though people say that the first two are weak and can be skipped, I cannot start a series a few books in in good conscience.

July Blind Spot Review: Before Sunrise (1995)

8

“Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”
– Celine

SYNOPSIS: A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together. – via IMDB

I know I am in the extreme minority with this one (apparently), but I found it really hard to get excited about this one while watching it, and after. In fact, I have no real excitement to write this review, either. I watched this weeks ago and haven’t even been able to muster the oomph to write about it. I really don’t want to write a half-assed review, so let’s see how it goes.

I totally don’t mind a dialogue based movie at all. I really don’t, if I feel that the dialogue is worth following. For me, that wasn’t the case here. It came off as pretentious and meh, like it was trying too hard. Truly. For two, I do like Ethan Hawke, a lot, I think he gets a lot of flak and he really isn’t the terrible actor that people say he is. I just thought that there was like no chemistry between him and Delpy. The runtime, too, felt like the movie was forever and two days long and it was actually (technically) a really short movie.

Okay, you know what, I am just going to leave it there. I didn’t like this, and I really wanted to. There was this romantic angle that could have been more than it was. Not because I wanted some Disney-style something, but because I really thought that this could have been more genuine. For some it probably is, for me it fell flat. I know there are two more movies in this trilogy that is so well loved, but I don’t know if I will be taking the time to check them out.

Review: Calling Major Tom – David M. Barnett

0

SYNOPSIS: We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world. – via Goodreads

So, it did take this book a while to actually become something to me, but it finally did ramp up from the slog it was initially. While it did not hit the heights of the claim of being “the feel good novel of 2017”, it certainly was a decent read, and it was a quick one, too.

The plot is absurd, and it is good. A lot of time is spent in the beginning of the book telling us a little bit about Thomas and then the Ormerod family, and it isn’t happy, pleasant stuff. Not super dramatic either, it just feels like filler, even though it is important to set up the remainder of the novel. Necessary, though. Then the novel just dives in. The whole story is built on a wrong number call made by Thomas Major, and from there, things snowball.

I really like Gladys. She is sweet and endearing and it is really sad to know that she has knowledge of the fact that dementia is taking her. Ellie is a character that did not grow on me, not at all, no matter what was happening. James is a cute and confused little boy, and Delil is the comic relief we need in this whole thing. I really enjoyed the interactions between Major Tom and James, super sweet.

The book is a bit predictable though, not going against anything in the heartwarming formula, and that is okay. Once you accept the premise, it gets rolling, and when you start wondering when the humour is going to start kicking, you get some particularly juicy Taxi Driver, ninja granny moments, and it is great. Calling Major Tom also plays heavily on Thomas Major’s name and mission in connection to David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and it works for this. It is just enough to not be too much. It also has a pretty decent message it presents, never too heavy handed about it, either.

While not my favourite book, Calling Major Tom is a decent read and is very sweet. Characters you don’t expect to grown on you do (like Craig), and the story is fun to follow. I liked it, even though I didn’t love it. Others will likely enjoy it more than I did if this is their genre – let’s not forget mine is mind games, gore, and twisted killers.

Sporadic Scene: Grey’s Anatomy (Season 4×16) – Han Solo’s Not a Loser

0

So I have recently gotten hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, and find the humour to be quite entertaining. I saw an episode where Dr Miranda Bailey went from “not knowing who Han Solo was or about the carbonite scene” to extolling the virtues of Han Solo and his totally non-loser antics. The whole scene just came together really well and gave me a good laugh. I guess someone does like sci-fi more than they let on!

I know this is not the greatest video, but it is the best I could find.

Review: Bitter – Francesca Jakobi

0

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out?

It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son. – via Goodreads

Bitter is a really strange book. When I read it, I initially disliked Gilda intensely. She is nasty and cruel and reminded me of someone, and I didn’t like how obsessed she was with her son. Like really, it is unhealthy. She is not a likeable character at all. And yet she is the main character of the book and we need to follow her story, and as we do, we slowly learn more about her.

Gilda has a fantastic friend she treats like dirt but who loves her enough to stick around, though why anyone would put up with that for as long is beyond me. Then there is her obsession with her son and jealousy of his wife. It is pretty intense when a mother cannot see her son (child) as an individual, something more than just a title, a person who has hopes and dreams, but instead has a concept for them that they must adhere to, but still insists that they know their child better than anyone.

Anyway, let me not get caught up in that. It really seems that Gilda needs some serious mental health help, and the book goes on to show you the disturbing things she does, and as it does so, you learn more about her, that ultimately you can understand how Gilda got to the place she is in life, and you really hope that she will be able to overcome it. Bitter is not an easy read, though it reads fast. It is a decent one, one I am glad that I read. I could definitely recommend Bitter to anyone interested in darker books that are more of a character study.

Review: The Mist – Stephen King

5

SYNOPSIS: It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light? – via Goodreads

I have been on a real roll with King recently, and wanted another read recently, but did not want to commit to a bigger book again (don’t even judge me), and decided I have put off reading The Mist for way too long now, even though I have seen the movie and enjoyed it, too. Well, The Mist is a great pick as you get your King fill and it breezes along so quickly that it is over before you even know it.

The Mist is not a long book (obviously), but is a bit longer than one would expect for a short story, so it’s pretty cool like that. The book wastes no time setting itself up and diving into the story, and also doesn’t spend too much time exploring the whys and the whats, it just gets into it all, which is fantastic. You get this little slice of terror and then it is over, leaving you reeling, asking all the questions that won’t really get answered, and that is okay.

For a short story, there are quite a few characters, and more are fleshed out than you would expect, and I liked that. Our main peanut is David Drayton, and we read of him, his struggles, and how he tells the story of all the crazy that ensues after Maine suffers a heavy, odd storm. Ollie is a character I enjoyed, as well as Mrs Reppler (teacher). Mrs Carmody peeved me, so in a few short pages King still manages to give you a character to dislike.

The Mist is a great example of a monster horror, which is awesome. Not much mincing around with the paranormal or psychological here my friend, oh no, let’s get straight into that bizarre, nasty, monster horror that one sometimes so desperately craves. This book totally delivers on all fronts there, so that is good.

Overall, The Mist is a pretty damn good short, quick read if you are interested, and has monster horror to keep you going. It knows what it is and it goes for it, no mincing about. It is well written and barrels along, definitely worth the read.

Sporadic Scene: The Fate of the Furious (2017) – Haka

2

Goodness, this scene! When it opened with Dwayne Johnson giving the lecture, I was like “oh, I am sure this is just gonna be some scene with some kids for the lols”,  but man, it was so much more than just that. Manis and pedis for everyone after, sure, but man, this scene is fantastic all round. Dwayne Johnson leads a girls soccer team in the haka and it is truly both hilarious to boot and at the same time rather inspiring, as you can see it means a lot to him and the girls take it seriously. It is more than just a choreographed skit, especially when you see how much respect was actually afforded the scene, that the haka was blessed by the elders, everything. That’s just great, in my mind.

Review: Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

8

“Alright, you son of a bitch!”
– Sheriff Dan Tashtego

SYNOPSIS: Sheriff Dan Tashtego and a team of creeper hunters enlist the help of officer Davis Tubbs to help stop the monster’s eating spree. – via IMDB

Holy shit, another one of these?! I don’t even know what to do with that! When I saw this on Netflix I was sure that there was some kind of a mistake, but no, there (unfortunately) is not. Naturally this meant that I had to check it out and see how it goes because really, the last one was pretty terrible. In comparison, it was a damn masterpiece.

This movie features more slow-mo scenes than you can shake a stick and and should legally be allowed. I am telling you, it dragged that movie out into that intolerable zone, too. This movie was entirely too long, and entirely too lame. They are still trying to link up these three movies as being part of the same 23 days and all that, but hell, it’s getting a bit long in the tooth now, and it is really starting to jumble the already dodgy timeline. Like what, he drops to his knees, screams and yells and performs and birds of carrion rain down from the sky and they “know what he is” and all that and then he just moves along all hunky dory to hunt some kids on a school bus? What?

Jeepers Creepers 3 is bogged down by a ton of dodgy CGI, so it was certainly not going to be winning any love for me. I HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THE VANITY PLATE! This truck is so smart it probably waltzed into the DMV and ordered a plate. Also kept itself clean and running and reading for Jeepers for when he returns every 23 years. Because really, WTF? It can think for itself? Protect itself? Drive itself? What is this? Never once has it been even remotely alluded to, and then this movie this stupid thing is zipping around and responding only to the Creeper. What on Earth is even going on anymore?!

While we are on a tangent on what’s wrong with this movie, let’s not forget the characters or the acting. It was some next level terrible stuff, and horribly awkward to sit through because they all took themselves and this project way too seriously.

Anyway, apparently the third time is not the charm in the case of Jeepers Creepers 3. The movie feels like it is a century long, has awful effects, no answers, lame action, and a shitty story. Skip this stupid thing. Definitely the worst of the thee, and hopefully they will really just leave this alone now, it’s getting really old.

Review: Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three – Mara Leveritt

2

SYNOPSIS: In 2011, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history was set right when Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years in prison. Award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt’s The Devil’s Knot remains the most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on the investigation, trials, and convictions of three teenage boys who became known as the West Memphis Three.

For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers, alleged members of a satanic cult, with the killings. Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere of the trials, and a case which included stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison and Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. The guilty verdicts were popular in their home state, even upheld on appeal, and all three remained in prison until their unprecedented release in August 2011.

With close-up views of its key participants, this award-winning account unravels the many tangled knots of this endlessly shocking case, one which will shape the American legal landscape for years to come. – via Goodreads

You know, I heard about this clusterfuck when I was much younger and watched Paradise Lost. I was horrified. Me, my husband, my circle of friends? We were (and still are) those “weird” kids, those “Satanists” with our black shirts, our band shirts, our black trench coats, spiked wristbands and belts, outspoken questioning of religion, dark hair, dark makeup, black nails, the whole shebang. Back then, and even now, if you had to look at my reading habits, movies/series collection and Google search history in a witch hunt style and with and closed mind, I would probably also have been tossed in prison and the key thrown away. Appearances can be deceiving.

I know that there is a vehement back and forth about whether Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley are innocent or not. This book is a great read to get you up to speed with the finer nuances of the case, investigation, and trial. Yes, Leveritt tried and for the most part succeeded in being as impartial as possible concerning the West Memphis Three, and the book never came across as repetitive. The book read very easily and was a thorough affair. The notes substantiated the content, and the content is written in a way that it is not bogged down by inner monologue and personal opinions, and so presents the horror that was visited on those three poor victims, as well as that botched investigation and joke of a trial. It is presented in a clear, concise way and is structured in a way that is understandable and easy to get into. It is presented that the information never bogs you down, and makes logical sense.

I was hooked on this book, and I highly recommend it for a read. It is not boring, and doesn’t read too heavily, either, making it daunting. It just barrels along and isn’t repetitive at all in giving forth the information, and you don’t feel Leveritt is forcing an opinion on you, just informing. The lunacy of the situation had me gasping and in shock on multiple occasions. Super solid true crime read.

Review: Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)

7

“Two classes of people? What, the “will be eaten” and the “won’t be eaten”?”
– Buck

SYNOPSIS:  Set a few days after the original, a championship basketball team’s bus is attacked by The Creeper, the winged, flesh-eating terror, on the last day of his 23-day feeding frenzy. – via IMDB

Alrighty peeps, so I am back with the next instalment of this series. Well, where Jeepers Creepers gave us a flawed but entertaining horror, its successor just… misses the mark, and widely. There is just so much more wrong with this than the first, and unlike the first, we don’t even really get that entertainment factor, either.

This movie is also where they started messing with the monster, good ol’ Jeepers. I mean, we all had questions in the first one – the most glaring for me being the fact that this dude hibernates for 23 years and then gets 23 days to feed. In those 23 days every 23 years, he has somehow managed to:

  • Learn to drive
  • Procure a car he can stash for 23 years (and it still runs just fine and remains undiscovered until he returns)
  • Somewhere cough up a vanity plate for said car
  • Manufacture weapons
  • Preserve the bodies and build a creepy Sistine Chapel type deal (that is also never found)

Like, I have a lot of issues, but those pop up super quickly and without much thought. The Creeper is also less… scary in this one? Like the first it was all about the hunt, about the terror. Like crazy hunting. This one he toys with his victims? Winking and smiling and what the hell? He also suddenly has a barrage of weapons at his disposal? We never saw those! There are also a lot of dodgy looking scenes in this one, and the characters are just freaking awful. The least offensive characters are the avenging dad and his dutiful son, and the outcast kid that people fear for potentially being gay. But then you get the high school students. They all freaking sucked, especially that douche nugget Scott. I was actually kinda thrilled when his racist, abusive ass got hauled off by the Creeper.

It was nice to see Justin Long in a few scenes though, and I can appreciate the movies trying to keep up some form of continuity, having this happen a few days after the first, although I can’t recall whether the first let us know how far into his 23 day spree he was.

Anyway, Jeepers Creepers 2 is not a great movie. It is not the worst, but the flaws are glaring and obvious in this one, and it lacks the campy charm of the first. Still not a bad movie for a cheap flick movie night, so I guess it scores some points there.