Review: City of Glass – Cassandra Clare

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The Mortal Instruments #3

SYNOPSIS: To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost? – via Goodreads

Continuing my binge, I zipped right on through this one, and it is without a doubt my favourite of the bunch so far. It’s a great read that answers questions, does its thing, builds on a fantastic story so far, and is really immersive.

We return to the world of the Shadowhunters, and ideas that have been taking shape in my mind since the first book have started to come to fruition here, and it has been awfully rewarding. Also, there was a plotsie that happened that had us all cheering, because nobody really believed the whole thing of Jace and Clary being related (right? Or my denial was so strong). I think it would have been more ballsy if Clare had left that one there, that would have been the shocker of note, so I think we were all really just waiting for her to correct things. Anyway.

Our favourite characters are back, and we get to journey to Alicante, the city we have heard so much about and never been to, so it is fascinating to read about the city and the laws. Jace is his tortured self, and reading about him and Clary is painfully heartbreaking. I loved reading about Luke assembling the Downworlders to work with the Shadowhunters, to potentially unite against Valentine, because unity is strength. While we are on that topic, we get so much more insight into Valentine and the monster that he is and it is properly horrifying. Ick man, that man is cuckoo katchoo! What a dark bastard, but great for us who likes a good villain.

So many events take place in this book, and you are so hooked you just race on through it to learn more. The characters, too, change and grow in this, becoming even more real, and the relationships between characters grows more complicated in some instances, and less in others, but all the while moving towards something. I do so love reading about this world, it is fascinating. I really hope that they speak more about the concept of parabatai, it is such an enthralling idea, so painful and yet so full of hope.

City of Glass breezes buy. It is chock full of action and plot developments, character growth and revelations, and I adored every second of it. The others have entertained me, but this one ensnared me. I was so hooked. I feel like I loved this one so much that I can’t collect myself enough to really review this and express myself properly. Oh well. Now on to the next!

Review: Hereditary (2018)

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“Who’s gonna take care of me?”
– Charlie

SYNOPSIS: After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets. – via IMDB

So there are a lot of rave reviews about Hereditary, and I figured it was about time to check it out and get up to speed with movies lately (gosh, I have been so behind it is shocking). Plus it is October, so there are horror movies everywhere you look, and I do so have a soft spot for the genre, even though there are more terrible ones than good ones nowadays.

So Hereditary is super atmospheric. Like, seriously. It is weird and dark and tense and sets you on edge and doesn’t really let up from there. That being said, I definitely feel that the movie is split into two very different parts. The first presents a deeper, psychological story, stuffed to the brim with an unsettling feeling and a family in extreme mourning, and this all devolves into the second which is just cuckoo crazy supernatural madness. I don’t necessarily love the way ended (being just a wee bit cracked), but I still enjoyed watching it. I did like how some scenes were set up and executed, especially that WTF car scene. The family history is also slowly but surely laid out, and it works so well in explaining the characters and their weird little world.

I feel that Toni Collette delivered a pretty good performance, constantly making me think she was right on the bring of completely losing her mind. Her dinner breakdown was amazing, as that scene truly captivated her terrible state of mind, and exactly what kind of sticky situation her emotions were stuck in. I feel that Gabriel Byrne was underused, and I truly enjoyed his steadfast character, the one who tries and tries and keeps his head but is human and ultimately shatters, too. Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro also do a pretty good job playing the kids, with Shapiro being off pretty much from the outset, and Wolff being the typical teen from early on.

Anyway. Typical of an A24 horror, Hereditary looks really good, visually, and has a score that works hand in hand with the story being told. Overall, Hereditary is a pretty good movie that might not have ended as strongly as it had started, but is indeed still worth a look see, especially if you enjoy horror movies.

Sporadic Scene: The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) – Poolside Fight

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SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS

So when I checked this out, I was surprised that there was actually a scene that I enjoyed so much that I could make a post from it. That scene was the one at the pool, and it was fantastic. We get all the crazy neon lights, we get Bonnie Taylor belting Total Eclipse of the Heart while one of the potential victims of these strangers decides he has had enough, and decides that he is going to stop toying around and just go for him. It all just comes together really well.

Review: Revival – Stephen King

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SYNOPSIS: In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price… – via Goodreads

Yes, another King novel. I have made it my life’s mission to read everything from him. I absolutely love and adore King and his work and have read a hell of a lot of it, but a lot still isn’t all, so I am rereading the ones I have read and starting the others I have not. This is one I was curious about, as it is one of the more recent ones, and when I saw it in my library I thought it was time to give it a shot.

Man, I am so glad that I did. Revival is really good, exactly what I hoped for. You journey through life with a character, from when they are children to when that one, big, crazy event occurs, and as always, Kings blows it out of the park. When Jamie looks back on his life and reminisces, it feels as though you are, because his journey has become your journey.

Charles Jacobs is an interesting character, and the man is crazy to boot. I can totally understand how a tragedy like that could push someone clean over the edge, but the things that Jacobs was willing to do for his research is intense. I really liked reading this, and enjoyed Jamie as a character. I must say I enjoyed the gaps and the encounters between Jamie and Jacobs, though many have complained. The books devolves into plain crazy by the end, but typical King style, it takes you there and you have fun with it.

Revival is well written and an enjoyable read, definitely honing in on that Lovecraftian tribute, and something I thought was really good. I breezed through the book, and though there were some niggles, and I found the secret electricity thing to be a bit much at times because we never really got anywhere with that, this is still definitely worth the read.

Review: Apostle (2018)

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“These people, they’re blasphemers, a cult, a disease.”
– Charles

SYNOPSIS: In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island. – via IMDB

Alrighty, so there have been a lot of horror movies for me to be checking out recently because it is the month of October, and I will not let that go to waste, as I am always looking for a horror. When my husband and I saw the trailer for this on Netflix, we were intrigued. It looked vicious and dark and nasty and (for me at least) there was Dan Stevens, and yes, that was a super seller for me.

We popped this on and immediately went into this weird and twisted little story. The movie is pretty damn good, but not without flaws. There are a lot of things I would have loved to have fleshed out more, such as Thomas Richardson’s faith and the breaking of it, as well as Prophet Malcolm’s family life, the building of the village, etc. We don’t get those things, but we get other things. For one, the violence and brutality displayed in Apostle really is intense. It starts slowly enough, and it might not feature in every second of the movie, but when it is presented, it is crazy. I swear, when we got the violence and crazy, I was literally yelling about that asshat Quinn and all the evils I desperately hoped would befall him. What a cruel, wicked man.

Apostle fluctuated between going really fast and drawing you in, and then slowly delivering on other things. For the most part, this worked. I also liked the atmosphere that the movie builds, but do feel that the score wasn’t always worked in tandem with the movie. That being said, their is a constantly feeling of dread, which starts low key but relentlessly builds throughout the run time, and I loved that. I am always really big on the atmosphere on a movie. I prefer a scary atmosphere way more than I prefer a monster. I also liked that Apostle’s story is different from what we usually get in the horror genre. Aside from all that, Apostle is also really beautiful to look at, what with the scenery and the sets. Very cool.

I have never watched The Raid movies (I know, I know, maybe one day), so I had no point of reference for what to expect from Gareth Evans. Maybe that worked in my favour, maybe not, I have no idea. I enjoyed Apostle, though there are flaws. I enjoyed watching Stevens, as always, and thought that there were plenty visuals that were fantastic in here (particularly looking at that immensely merciless branding). The violence and brutality in this were pretty harsh, but worked hand in hand with the film. While there were many aspects that could have been explored to make this resonate more, the fact that they weren’t does not ruin Apostle, but does limit it from being a truly great movie.

Review: City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare

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The Mortal Instruments #2

SYNOPSIS: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? – via Goodreads

So I dove straight on into this one after City of Bones. Naturally, this was after I calmed down about that horrific plotsie. Meaning I had to sleep on it, collect myself, breathe deeply, steel myself and then return to the world of the Shadowhunters. Glad I did, even though I still want to flip the heck out about the Jace/Clary arc. UGHHH. But we will come back to that.

City of Ashes returns with Clary’s mother still being comatose in hospital, which is, of course, exactly what Clary needs, what with this entire alien world and all the confusion it brings. Like, why would she need guidance? There is also the sudden shifts of Jace being close to the Lightwoods to them being his actual adoptive family, which was never actually mentioned in the first book. But we will move on from that. The book wastes no time getting back on the “Valentine is cuckoo crazy” train, and the journey is still good (though, just like the first, a little long in places).

There was so much frustration, pain, and suffering for me reading the scenes between Jace and Clary, and I don’t know when last I resented something so much and wanted it changed. There were parts of this book that inspired hope that it’s all been a mistake, and others that make me afraid Clare will try stick with this preposterous development. Then there is Clary and Simon, who actually start sort of dating each other, and it is just awkward. Like, it doesn’t feel right, even though I like Simon, I don’t like him with her, and he deserves someone that wants him totally, too. The Magnus and Alec arc is also a strange one, but one I totally appreciate and am hoping for the absolute best on.

There is more craziness going down than you can shake a stick at in this one, and not nearly as much world building as City of Bones, but that does not make this any less engaging or entertaining. I am quite enjoying this series so far, and will definitely see where it goes. There is a lot going on with Valentine, and the more I read about him, the more I think he is not nearly as straightforward a villain as you are initially led to believe, which is interesting. The Inquisitor made me think a little of Umbridge in some ways.

In any even, this series has been good so far, and I hope it continues this way. City of Ashes is an easy read, though a touch too long (as I said), but I am enjoying them. There is a lot to like here, I can highly recommend.

Review: The Babysitter (2017)

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“Things get messy when you make a deal with the devil.”
– Bee

SYNOPSIS: The events of one evening take an unexpected turn for the worst for a young boy trying to spy on his babysitter. – via IMDB

Ah! This movie! This is so my cup of tea, and I enjoyed the hell out of this. Chop, I am so with you on this one, it’s great! Everything works.

The cast is really what makes this – they all seem to be having an absolute blast, and that comes through. I think that Judah Lewis was fantastic as Cole, and Samara Weaving was great as Bee. She totally nailed down that sort of girl next door thing but with an extremely healthy dose of crazy. The two of them play off one another really well, and I loved watching them together. She really was like the best babysitter, and you could understand how he saw her as probably his best friend, even if it meant she had to stay his babysitter.

I would like to thank McG and co from the bottom of my heart for a shirtless Robbie Amell for essentially the whole movie. Yes, for science, and your contribution is immensely appreciated. So. Much. He was hilarious to boot, too, but still. Science.

Okay, back to the movie, right? Sorry, can’t help it, he was distracting in the movie, too. I think the humour for The Babysitter was spot on, and definitely had me laugh quite a few times. This movie totally embraces how crazy it is, and it just works. I really loved the little cuts in the movie to show certain events (the pocket knife, Cole’s plans, etc). I also think that things were just pretty weird all round. The Babysitter is a load of fun, and just goes for it every step of the way.

Anyway, as you can tell I had a great time with The Babysitter. If you are into horror comedy, this should totally work for you. It’s a total blast and it has some fantastic moments and silly characters, with a solid score and it looks stylish, too. Absolutely worth the watch!

September Blind Spot Review: Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

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“The only way to find out what story you’re in is to determine what stories you’re not in.”
– Professor Jules Hilbert

SYNOPSIS: An I.R.S. auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death. – via IMDB

I have always heard that Stranger Than Fiction is a solid movie and that Ferrell is excellent in it (this reason is always cited when I say I am not a huge Ferrell fan) and I have always said I will get to it at some stage and then I never do, which is how it ended up on y 2018 Blind Spot list. I needed to cross it off my list.

Right off, I didn’t know what to expect from this movie when I started it. Was it going to be one of Ferrell’s ridiculous movies, would it be different, what was going to come from it? Well, let me tell you, Ferrell rocked this one. Completely. It was a more contained performance than I am used to seeing from him, and the humour landed for me from him now more than ever. I feel he is sometimes just too OTT and not my cup of tea. I think the cast all worked well together in this to deliver a pretty good comedy drama, and I enjoyed it.

The pacing was good, and I was sold on seeing what, exactly, Harold’s life was all about, because it was super bland, doing the same thing day in and day out. Emma Thompson as writer and narrator fit the role perfectly, and it was entertaining to watch her whenever she was on screen. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s insistence on being a kind anarchist is sweet, too, and Ferrell’s lonely Harold is quite sad. Dustin Hoffman, too, as the weird and quirky writing expert is quite fun, and just to see how all the characters interact and pull together to change the initially drab story is a satisfying experience.

The humour is rather sharp and low key in this, not forceful or over the top or anything like that, and it just worked completely for the story being told. I liked how the story paced itself, never too slow to be boring, never too fast to be confusing. I found myself delighted with Stranger Than Fiction coming to life, as a reader and a moviegoer, there was plenty that worked so well.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction, and I might very well check it out again someday. Ferrell did not irritate, and it had enough quirk to keep it fun and sweet but not grating or excessively cheesy and with a cast that worked well together, and I can highly recommend it.

Review: Beast (2017)

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“Can you keep a secret?”
– Pascal Renouf

SYNOPSIS: A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders. – via IMDB

My husband and I have really been struggling to find new movies recently that are good and that we are actually drawn to or interested in. Everything is just a remake nowadays, or bland, or just… no fun. So we saw this and figured why not give it a shot? Well folks, I am here to tell you that this one was well worth the watch! Definitely a slice of something different.

Right off the bat, the atmosphere is fantastic, and the score works hand in hand with the imagery to keep you uncomfortable, and with a feeling of dread and foreboding. It is truly unsettling. The performances also blend right into this, completely dominated by Buckley and Flynn. Beast gives up its secrets slowly but surely. Never so slow you get frustrated, but so gently and well paced that you forget that you are waiting for them. The pacing was definitely solid for this, building up into this slow burn thriller. The story builds steadily from the opening, and you are whipped up into this bizarre story of Moll and Pascal.

Beast definitely is a focuses on Moll and her crappy life, and how Pascal coming into her life has changed her, and the change is not necessarily bad, despite what her family thinks. Bits and pieces of her life are revealed, and it is a gratifying thing to make the discoveries with the movie. The characters set forth in this are truly horrible. Her family made my blood boil, and Moll herself had me fluctuate between pity for her and being repulsed by her, much like the emotions Stephen King’s character Carrie evokes in a person.

All in all, if you have not watched Beast and are looking for a solid thriller, I would highly recommend this. It comes together well, and the bizarre journey that you undertake with the characters reels you in. The movie also leaves you thinking for quite some time after it, picking the characters and their actions apart, and it has been a while since I have seen something that did that.

Review: Finders Keepers – Stephen King

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Bill Hodges #2

SYNOPSIS: Wake up, genius.

The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years. – via Goodreads

Oh my goodness! I somehow managed to publish Mr Mercedes and then End of Watch, but forgot this one in between! That is awful!

You know, I liked Mr Mercedes well enough, and was interested to see how the story would continue, and I must say, I liked this even more than the first. Not because the first wasn’t good, it was, but this one just worked more for me, I don’t know. I really liked the concept. Brady Hartsfield is, without a doubt, the stronger villain, and I am hoping he will make his return in End of Watch, but Morris was a solid bad dude, and I really liked Pete.

Finders Keepers starts the story off way back in the day with a crazy murder, and progresses to a modern day time. It takes about a hundred or so pages before Bill and Holly make their appearance, but this doesn’t detract from the book. As is typical Stephen King, you get drawn in by the characters you are reading about, and it just works so well. Naturally he blends it seamlessly from the story told into Bill’s connection, and it works.

It’s great to see characters such as Jerome and Holly returning, and to see how well the two books tie into each other. They feel like they gel well, so that is good. Not like trying to tell stories without remembering that they are all linked together, and I like that, though King is the master of world building.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I am looking forward to seeing how King closes off this trilogy. I can highly recommend these ones, especially for someone who wants to give King a shot. They are different from his usual works in that these are more detective mystery novel type deals as opposed to horror and drama, but they work and are good.