Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

SYNOPSIS: Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.  – via Goodreads

Okay. Alright. Here we are. So I read the first and it wasn’t awful, and then I read the second and I outright hated that (I am so sorry bestie, I tried so hard to like these, but that last one was just… rough), and dreaded the concept of moving on to the third, but decided I best give it a shot. So. Here we go.

I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it, but it didn’t cause me as much upset as the last one, though it is still not great. I think the biggest issue with this series is that the books are excessively long for what they deal with. Like, I think the story would be tighter if we just had less pages to deal with. So in this one we get more of all the couples (cause Maas seems to buy into the concept of nobody being capable of being alone). We get more of Nesta and Cassian, some answers about Mor, Azriel, and Cassian, and Lucien is holding out for Elain and all that, and she is stumbling around like a mute. Rhys and Feyre don’t spend much time together in this, and when they do it is not nearly as bad as before.

Tamlin remains uber-dweeb of the century, and it really annoys me that Maas wrote one whole set of characters and introduces them to us, and in the second book changed everyone. Annoying but alright. I am still a fan of Lucien. He was the one of the things I liked the most about book one, and probably the only semi-redeeming thing in the second book, and he gets some time here, and I like that. A Court of Wings and Ruin also decides to deliver us some battle, some war, and I liked that. It might not be a ton of it, but it was enough to keep me breathing a bit more, not dealing with all sorts of wonky sex and reading about “my mate, my life, my love” the whole time.

I did enjoy reading about Amren, especially what with her covert little thing she has going on with Varian. Rhys is also a character I feel that Maas wants to make too perfect. I know, unpopular opinion, but it is just how I feel about it.

Anyway, I won’t be rushing to read the little filler books between this and (much to my horror to learn) the upcoming book. Natasha said I could skip it and be fine, anyway. There is also the question of whether or not I will return to the next one. A Court of Wings and Ruin is not nearly as offensive as A Court of Mist and Fury, but it is still far longer than strictly necessary.

Review: The Equalizer (2014)

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the equalizer poster

“Got to be who you are in this world, no matter what.”
– Robert McCall

SYNOPSIS: A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. – via IMDB

the equalizer gif

I missed this in cinemas when it came out (blame the exams, always the exams)and could not wait to see it. I loved it when I finally did watch it, and decided recently it needed a rewatch before I could go on to the new onw. Gathering my other half the other night, we sat down and got ready to watch the excellent Denzel tear up the town again. Let me just tell you, we were not disappointed, not even for one moment.

The Equalizer is paced fantastically – I liked that it concentrated on some story, and didn’t just get lost in action, but didn’t focus so much on the story that it was purely a drama. Also, let’s not forget Washington’s portrayal as Robert McCall. I was so impressed with him (I usually am) and I thought that he was super badass. He was very cool, well-respected, I liked the way he was so important to so many people and yet when he went home it was solitary, lonely and depressing.

That changes when McCall becomes a scary machine and starts fixing Boston, intense I tell you! There were some kill styles introduced that I have to admit were fresh and original (I know how that sounds), and an antagonist opposite McCall that was worthy of his time, escalating the events (though there could have been a more hardcore showdown). There was nothing left untouched by McCall to craft his weapons with, and that alone was entertaining enough to carry so much. The soundtrack fit with the movie perfectly, and The Equalizer was shot very nicely, too.

There was not one moment of boredom for me, and I was taken in with the entire presentation of the film. Great job all round, and I can definitely highly recommend this one. It has more substance than your average movie of this type, and though it follows a recipe, it doesn’t get boring.

Review: Odd Thomas – Dean Koontz

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Odd Thomas #1

SYNOPSIS: “The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo’s sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it’s different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere. – via Goodreads

So for years I have been meaning to get to these books after I watched Odd Thomas and learned that the movie was based on book. I, contrary to what most people felt, really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was fun. I didn’t see the twist coming. I adore Yelchin, so it all worked. So then I finally got myself together and actually got to reading this the other day and, well… yeah. I liked it. I just didn’t love it. I wanted more from it.

Odd Thomas breezes by. Seriously, it is an easy book to read, and the characters are fun, albeit a little thin. There is the Elvis angle, and then there is Odd himself, who is truly just a sweetheart, simple and pure. There is the whole backstory with his mother that could legitimately be way more messed up than was delivered here (who knows, it might be different in later books), but I just felt it was a little flat, like just glossed over? Plus two, what a hideous woman. His dad, too, was no real great shakes.

I enjoyed the story well enough, and as I said, it breezes by. It was an easy read, nothing too hectic to commit to, nothing too major to sink your teeth into, so that means you feel that you have missed a little by the end of it. It leaves you feeling a little wanting. That being said, I had a good time reading Odd Thomas and will read more of the books at some point, though I won’t be rushing for the next in the series anytime soon if I’m being honest. I suppose Odd Thomas prescribed to the typical Dean Koontz recipe of being entertaining and fun and all that, but not really staying long after as it doesn’t pack a major punch.

Review: Daughters of the Lake – Wendy Webb

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SYNOPSIS: After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams…

One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.

As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past. – via Goodreads

I think I got this as a Prime first reads option, and then I never got to it, though it looked interesting. I recently had LASIK done and decided to get this on Audible, too, for the few days where I could not read or watch too much TV. While my eyes were healing, basically. So that was my first audiobook experience in years, too, and it was quite good. The narrator, Xe Sands, was fantastic, and it was nice to listen to her. But anyway, let’s get to the book itself.

I quite enjoyed Daughters of the Lake. It was certainly not unpredictable, and the characters were not super deep or anything, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story flicking into the past and into the present, and seeing the connections come together, as well as how the story joined up. I feel that logic goes out the window a little bit, but that is to be expected in a supernatural story like this.

Anyway, overall I thought that Daughters of the Lake was a decent book and it’s a pretty quick one to go through, too. I thought it was a pretty good listen, too, as Xe Sands did a great job and was easy to listen to. Worth it.

Review: Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (2016)

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“Everything is unprecedented until it happens for the first time.”
– Chesley “Sully” Sullengerger

SYNOPSIS: The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight’s passengers and crew. – via IMDB

So chilling around the other day, I decided it was time to watch this. Obviously I know the story, but not in too much depth or anything like that, so figured this would be a good yardstick. Plus, Tom Hanks. I think he’s fantastic and would watch him in anything.

I didn’t think Sully was the greatest movie ever, but I did think that what Captain Sullenberger did that day was truly amazing. As the movie points out, you only ever see bad news nowadays, so to see a success story is always nice. Tom Hanks was excellent, as always, and was well worth watching. Aaron Eckhart, too, was solid and played well alongside Hanks. Comparing the actual photos at the end of the movie to what Eastwood delivered, too, is good, because it looked exactly like what had happened.

Sully is a quick watch, and so never overstays its welcome. It tells the story and gets you involved with the investigation into that fateful flight, and it is interesting to see how the investigation was going, and how it ultimately turned around. I don’t necessarily know if I will ever go back to watch Sully, but it was a decent watch with a strong cast and was done well.

Review: The Chalk Man – C.J. Tudor

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SYNOPSIS: None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.

Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?

Was it the terrible accident?

Or when they found the first body? – via Goodreads

So my extreme book hangover following The Infernal Device trilogy left me confused and lost. I was floundering when Luke recommended I check out The Chalk Man. As I am one who takes suggestion seriously, I rooted around my Kindle until I found it again and set out to see what it was all about, as I remember rave reviews for it and a lot of advertising for it when it was originally released.

The Chalk Man reads very easily. It is slow paced and uses this to set up a pretty damn creepy vibe; it’s hopeless and damning and draws you in. It is not necessarily a scary book, and not the most fascinating, yet it keeps you going the whole way through. The story juggles two timelines, and this is one of those times were both timelines were handled well. There was not too much of the one or too little of the other. They trundled along neatly and it all worked out.

I don’t feel that the book featured an awful lot of likeable characters though. Okay, so maybe none. They all sucked, and reading about the constant alcoholism was also a little much at times. The story gives its secrets up bit by bit, and it works. The book was insanely bigged up here from the marketing and all, so I was a little wary that it might fall flat, but this was not the case. Okay, so maybe not the most amazing book ever as it was proclaimed to be or anything, but I had no regrets checking it out. I had a good time reading it. I liked how easy it was to read and how engaging the story was, even though at times it was a little predictable.

I think that The Chalk Man is also really well written, especially when you find out after the fact that this is a debut novel. I will certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for more of Tudor’s work, and I can recommend this for a read. While I might not be as hyped for this as some were, it is definitely worth a read. Thanks for the recommendation Luke!

Review: Pieces of Her – Karin Slaughter

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . . – via Goodreads

You know, I was beyond stoked when I got my hands on this book. You all know how deep a love I have for Karin Slaughter’s work, and there are few authors I get as excited about when they have a new book coming, so I was over the moon when I got my paws on this. My joy, however, was short lived.

It is not that I hated Pieces of Her, not at all, but I did not find it nearly as thrilling or as well crafted as Slaughter’s other work. I didn’t like any of the characters, which in and of itself is not something that would ruin a book for me, it’s just that I wasn’t keen on the story. Usually I am fascinated with cults, I really am, and I was interested to see where this would go, and in parts it is really good, and others it is just… bland.

I was so interested to read about the relationship between Andy and Laura, but it never really felt real for me. I did like Gordon. I seriously thought we had some espionage thriller on our hands, and then it went another way. I am seriously struggling to write a review for this. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I just found it to be a bit of a chore to read in the sense that it did not hook me and take me captive, where I just had to know what was going on every second of the way. It is, without a doubt, the most disappointing Slaughter read I have ever read. That is all I can really say on it.

Review: The Craft (1996)

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the-craft-poster

“True magic is neither black, nor white – it’s both because nature is both. Loving and cruel, all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. Life keeps a balance on its own.”
– Lirio

SYNOPSIS: Four girls at a Los Angeles Catholic school form a coven of witches that cast spells on their classmates and each other. Their new powers overwhelm them, leading to an internal power struggle. – via IMDB

the-craft-spells

I watched this movie so many times as a kid. So many damn times. I liked the fact that these girls were different (not to mention witches) and not afraid to embrace that. That’s always something I enjoy, when women do not conform to the expectations of society. The Craft is a good film. It starts out all innocent and sweet, and then devolves into utter madness.

I thought the actresses picked to play the witches were all great, and all brought something else to the table. These are just young girls with small things that irk them, that come together because they are different, they believe they are powerful. Initially they ask for little things, each having their own small issues. This is where some big lessons come in. They say you can’t always get what you want, and be careful what you wish for. You hear it all the time. This movie shows how seemingly innocent things can be turned on their heads.

the-craft-we-are-the-weirdos

The constantly shifting dynamics between the girls is also something that is fascinating. Innocent, then friends, then obsessed and changing, afraid of Nancy, yet power hungry and feeling superior to the rest. Then there is Sarah, a witch and girl questioning her group, not wanting to conform to the inevitable peer pressure. That does not stop the magic the girls try out from just getting bigger and more crazy, and does not change the fact that these girls can be right bitches.

Seeing how the magic doesn’t quite work as one would hope, and how it can sour terribly was interesting. It takes a different spin on it than a lot of movies handling magic and witches usually do.
the-craft-kiss2

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses #2

SYNOPSIS: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two. – via Goodreads

Ugh. This book. I know my bestie Natasha is a ridiculously big fan of these books, and I really wanted to love them like her, and I thought A Court of Thorn and Roses wasn’t too bad, but then this hunk of junk rolled around. It grated on my last nerve from page one essentially. Remember all that sexy time Natasha said might put me off and I didn’t get what she was talking about in the last book? Well. It is ALLLLLLLLLLL here. Let me get into this stupid book already, and keep myself reigned in as much as possible.

THE FUCKING WHINING. Dear God, will it ever end?! Not once did Feyre stop moaning and whining and feeling sorry for herself in this, which chapped my ass. Almost as much as her constant vomiting. I am not kidding. All this character does it whinge and bitch and puke and have sex dreams/fantasies. Goodness gracious me. I had some hope for Feyre from the last book. Maybe not the greatest character of all time, but certainly not the worst. But here? Save mine eyes!

The book was also excessively long. Seriously. Maas could have lopped off two hundred pages easily and still told the same wheedling, stupid story. So much of this book is wasted on erotica. And not the good kind, either. The lame, silly kind, with some exceptionally questionable sex scenes/practices going on. Forest Fuck Fest, Tom! I know how you love that phrase! This is it! I don’t like to read erotica or a ton of sex scenes, I want a story more than I want to know about… okay, let me stop there. This conversation might become too graphic for words, and is so not the way I converse. Just know I was extremely unimpressed with the offering.

Aside from Feyre working on my last nerve, the characters are again shallow and flat in this book, and Tamlin turned into a real asshat in this one. Controlling and manipulative and abusive. That bastard did nothing in the freaking uprising of Amarantha, and he is treated like the conquering hero that gets Feyre as a prize? What? CONFUSED. But yeah. Also, it irritated me that he was essentially an entirely different character than in the first. The first he had flaws, but who the fuck is this guy?! Then there is the completely NOT SHOCKING development of the relationship between Feyre and Rhys.

Maas is also a crappy writer. Well, in this series, at any rate. Repetitive language, more ellipses than should be legal and more em dashes than you can shake a stick at. Seriously. And she constantly repeats certain phrases. I don’t know how many times she used the term “vulgar gesture”, but my eye twitched every time I read it.

Okay, I am actually going to stop venting here before this turns crazy. Needless to say, I hated this book. It took me about a week and a half to read it because every time I looked at my Kindle, a little part of me wilted and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But I am a completist and masochist and soldiered on. At least it is done now. I won’t lie, I have absolutely no motivation to pick up the next one. We will see if I get to the place where I wish to give Maas her last chance, but I don’t know. It seems my opinion is in the minority on this series, but I just don’t get the hype at all.

Review: Bird Box (2018)

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“Listen to me, we’re going on a trip now, it’s going to be rough. If you hear something in the woods, you tell me. if you hear something in the water, you tell me. But under no circumstances are you allowed to take off your blindfold.”
– Malorie

SYNOPSIS: Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety. – via IMDB

So there was so much hype surrounding this that I figured it was time to give it a shot and see what it was all about. I think this was largely down to people doing silly challenges. Well, I got to it and it was… okay. I know, I know. Opinions seemed varied about it, but I didn’t love it.

I felt the movie was excessively long for what it gave us. Like, it could totally have justified the run time if there was just more going on. As it was, way too much. Also, it never felt like it got intense enough, if that makes sense? It was always on the fringes of delivering, but never did. It didn’t even get you riled and then not pay off, it just… carried on and on. So I wasn’t super invested. And for all the “it’s unique and different”, I didn’t feel that.

I thought the performances were decent, albeit not groundbreaking material that you will remember long after the movie is over. The story itself won’t even linger long after aside from the blindfolds. I suppose that is how it was with Hush. It was not necessarily unique in terms of genre (home invasion), but had a different spin (deaf victim). So it was with Bird Box. End of the world/invasion type deal, and you can’t look at anything because it will drive you crackers (serious Lovecraftian stuff going on there).

So Bird Box was okay, albeit long. It is not something that will stay with you long after all is said and done, and is not as different and unique as it would like to think it is.