Review: American Satan (2017)

2

“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

7

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.

Review: The Last Widow – Karin Slaughter

2

Will Trent #9

I received this in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor.

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves. – via Goodreads

YES! YES! I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this, you all know I am a ridiculously huge Karin Slaughter fan. I started this pretty much the second I got my hands on it, and I had no regrets. As with all Slaughter’s work (bar Pieces of Her), you will get sucked in almost immediately, and the story barrels along super fast.

The Last Widow flips between characters, telling the story simultaneously from differing perspectives, and it works so well. I absolutely love reading about Sara and Will, I think they are great together. It is a testament of Slaughter’s writing that she managed to merge two series so successfully, and especially how she brings Sara and Will together, and there is no resentment (because come on, Jeffrey man). The side characters don’t get as much focus in this one, making them more bit characters than usual, but that is alright.

I thought the story for The Last Widow was engrossing and interesting. The book  has it all – romance, action, drama, the works. Sara’s family makes an appearance again, and some truly hurtful things are said in that section, but it definitely contributes to all that goes on.The Last Widow is without a doubt a whirlwind read. The events take place really quickly, so the book is essentially a snapshot of time with characters we have grown to love over the years. I absolutely cannot wait for more in this series!

Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

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The Folk of the Air #2

SYNOPSIS: You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world. – via Goodreads

OMG. OMG. Like really now! So as you know, I quite liked The Cruel Prince, and I was looking forward to seeing how things were going to go after Jude played all her fancy pants tricks on Cardan and burnt her bridges with Madoc and family.

So starting up shortly after the end of all the trickery, the book gets right down to business. While I do think the logic of Jude deceiving Cardan into bearing the crown as king was a little uneven, it is how we get the story. I mean I understand the whole concept of them wanting Oak to rule, but it just seems sketchy, conning Madoc out of the regency and forcing Cardan in.

Naturally, things are a little different between Jude and Cardan now, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Like, there was finally more interaction between them – he wasn’t just some character off in the distance anymore. Cardan and Jude have a strange relationship, and it is fantastic. I love the tension built between them, and the misery and the longing and the anger. I have a lot of time for it. It is not the newest of all relationships ever written or anything, but I appreciate the way Black has built them. I am also quite taken with the concept of fairies not being able to lie, because it gives another dynamic to the games that they are playing with each other. 

The Wicked King certainly delivers the goods in terms of events and things happening, scheming, wheeling, and dealing. I do enjoy how that was all woven together, and things are certainly becoming more intense. There was so much cracking with the war brewing, so obviously I was sold. There is backstabbing and desperation, devious and calculating plans, mayhem, so yes. I liked the way the book was written, barrelling along and flowing and keeping you super hooked. There are characters you are never going to like, and others you do. Jude and Madoc also have a rather strained connection, and it is interesting to read about, with so much going on in it.

Also, the end of Chapter 15? Whoooooo *fans self*.

I wasn’t even finished with this when I pre-ordered the last book in the trilogy. January seems like it is forever and a day away! I say that these books are so worth the read!

Review: Killing November – Adriana Mather

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Killing November #1

SYNOPSIS: It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim. – via Goodreads

So it is rather well known that I was a huge fan of How to Hang a Witch, and that I thoroughly enjoyed the follow up, Haunting the Deep. When I saw Mather was bringing a new book, I was stoked. I then saw that it was not part of the series, but figured why not? Why shouldn’t I be equally as excited? I preordered the book even, and was so happy when it arrived. However, I was in the midst of a Shadowhunter reread, and so it waited until I was good and ready, which was while I was off sick recently.

The disappointment was real peeps. So painful. I really wanted to love this. I think Mather is super sweet and cool and I really enjoyed her other books, but this was a fantastical chore to work through. There are no likeable characters, the romance is so flat (I mean seriously, we had Sam and Elijah in the last books and I couldn’t get enough of that). The concept, too, is something that could have been amazing (think John Wick type schooling), but instead you get this… lame stuff to wade through. The events weren’t exciting, the history was bland, the characters sucked, and just overall, this didn’t play like I was hoping it would. Oh well.

I was even more horrified by the time I reached the end of the book, though I can’t deny I did see this coming. It is only the first book in a series. Instead of engendering excitement for me, I am just flat. We need more from the How to Hang a Witch series, it worked so much better. Anyway, reading reviews on Goodreads, it would seem that my opinion is in the minority and this is wildly popular with most other people. Me? Not so much. I honestly will not be going out for the next book.

Review: Dangerous Lady – Martina Cole

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Maura Ryan #1

SYNOPSIS: No one thinks a seventeen-year-old girl can take on the hard men of London’s gangland, but it’s a mistake to underestimate Maura Ryan: she’s tough, clever and beautiful —and she’s determined that nothing will stand in her way. Which makes her one very dangerous lady.

Together, she and her brother Michael are unbeatable: the Queen and King of organised crime, they run the pubs and clubs, the prostitutes and pimps of the West End. With Maura masterminding it, they pull off an audacious gold bullion robbery and have much of the Establishment in their pockets.

But notoriety has its price. The police are determined to put Maura away once and for all —and not everyone in the family thinks that’s such a bad idea. When it comes to the crunch, Maura has to face the pain of lost love in her past —and the dangerous lady discovers her heart is not made entirely of stone. – via Goodreads

 

Oh man, I haven’t read these books since I was in high school, and I recently got a library card for the library down the road from me (amazing, first one I have had since I was a young girl). When I saw this on the shelf, I was like REREAD TIME! It had been so long that I remembered bits and pieces, and thought it was time to look at the overall whole again. So damn pleased I did.

Martina Cole usually writes about the gritty London underbelly, and I read a lot of her books in high school. They won’t be for everyone. However, I do feel that this book stands above her others (and I am not a huge fan of her work in general). It’s excellent. Dangerous Lady is a masterfully crafted affair. It is a whole family that rises above, takes over London, rules over an empire. You all know how I love my mobster style stories. This was no exception.

There are an abundance of characters littered throughout this book, but you never get lost and forget them, and I feel that that alone is masterfully crafted. Maura, too, is a fantastic character. She is a unique character, a strong woman, who rose higher than what society said she was allowed to for her era. She is complex, and remains so throughout. The relationship between her and Michael is really something, too, as those two are thick as thieves.

The writing flows smoothly and the way the plot is presented and how time advances throughout the novel to tell the story of the Ryan family is good, too. It just fits. You cannot help but be drawn into this world, and it comes across and gritty, dangerous, and wholly believable. It just draws you in. The book doesn’t have a whole lot of twists, but that is alright. This is more of a family drama that comes to power and just overall great to read, especially when you take into consideration how old Cole was when she wrote this.

Overall Dangerous Lady is an absolutely absorbing read, has a great story and an array of characters and situations that will keep you hooked and it just barrels along. I loved every second of it and highly recommend this.