Review: Run – Blake Crouch

SYNOPSIS: 5 D A Y S A G O
A rash of bizarre murders swept the country…
Senseless. Brutal. Seemingly unconnected.
A cop walked into a nursing home and unloaded his weapons on elderly and staff alike.
A mass of school shootings.
Prison riots of unprecedented brutality.
Mind-boggling acts of violence in every state.

4 D A Y S A G O
The murders increased ten-fold…

3 D A Y S A G O
The President addressed the nation and begged for calm and peace…

2 D A Y S A G O
The killers began to mobilize…

Y E S T E R D A Y
All the power went out…

T O N I G H T
They’re reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System. You are listening over the battery-powered radio on your kitchen table, and they’ve just read yours.

Your name is Jack Colclough. You have a wife, a daughter, and a young son. You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People are coming to your house to kill you and your family. You don’t know why, but you don’t have time to think about that any more.

You only have time to….

R U N – via Goodreads

Yep, this one just wasn’t really my cup of tea. It just… got really old and repetitive quickly. As is typical of a Blake Crouch novel, you are dumped smack into the middle of things and it sure as hell doesn’t slow down as you keep going.

Run starts quick enough, and you read for ages before you even get to a place where you sort of understand that the family is being hunted down and that it has something to do with some night time astral viewing of sorts, and that is pretty much all you get. The running away gets repetitive after awhile, as survival is the name of the game, which is all good and well, but it has been done much better in the Wayward Pines novels by Crouch, for instance.

I also feel that while the violence makes its way onto the pages, you are never truly afraid for the characters, and it comes across as rushed and underplayed, except for one specific scene (which, horrific as it was, was also rushed through).

I don’t really have an awful lot to say about this, as there is not much to say other than it is an okay, if slightly unimaginative survival horror. If you are looking for a quick filler book that does not need too much investment and is something you will burn through super fast, Run would be the pick for that.

Review: Hot Summer Nights (2017)

“You can’t hold on to everything.”
– McKayla

SYNOPSIS: In the summer of 1991, a sheltered teenage boy comes of age during a wild summer he spends in Cape Cod getting rich from selling pot to gangsters, falling in love for the first time, partying and eventually realizing that he is in over his head. – via IMDB

So I moved this up on my watch list because I adore Timothée Chalamet and I also thoroughly enjoy Maika Monroe, so the talent alone had me like “hells yeah” on this. I had no preconceived ideas about Hot Summer Nights, I remember reading about it before it came and thinking to add it to my watch list because I liked the cast, and A24 has churned out some pretty good movies over the years, then I kind of forgot about it. But then I saw it again and I was like “oh yeah!”.

Hot Summer Nights is a mixed bag. It’s carried by amazing performances from the cast, and it looks great – the outfits of the time, the stylish way it’s shot, the colours, everything on that front works for it. I even like the soundtrack, though at times it just felt like someone wanted to cram as much nostalgic/relevant music of the time to set the scene, which sometimes kinda just dragged you out of the whole affair sometimes? Chalamet was (as expected), fantastic. Honestly. Maika Monroe, too, impressed me (as always), and the two of them just looked gorgeous together. Alex Roe (a newcomer for me) was solid, too. He doesn’t have the most extensive filmography and I am not sure why, I thought he was rather good. I really liked them all, and watching them all.

Where the movie is let down is the paper thin story. For reals. It could have been so much more, weaving a coming of age story into this summer and seeing how it would all come together. But that opportunity was wasted. Also, these guys grow their pot sales empire, but never really addresses the how. We are told it is happening, we see the money, but we don’t get anything more than that. It just leaves holes and questions. Thomas Jane, too, is underused in this.

Anyway, Hot Summer Nights is a decent watch. The performances alone are worth a look see, and it’s not a terrible movie. It just doesn’t have an awful lot of substance to it at the end of the day. Not your typical coming of age movie, but I liked it enough.

Review: Almost Dead – T.R. Ragan

Lizzy Gardner #5

SYNOPSIS: Life for private investigator Lizzy Gardner will never be the same. It’s been three weeks since her fiancé, Jared, was shot on what was supposed to be their wedding day. He’s in a coma now, and Lizzy is being forced to make a decision she might not be able to live with.

But a string of deaths has forced her to get back to work. While they appear to be unrelated accidents at first glance, a closer look shows they all have something in common. More than a decade earlier, the victims were all members of the Ambassador Club at a Sacramento high school: a posh posse that bullied other students, one of whom remains tormented years later. – via Goodreads

Well, here we are with yet another Lizzy Gardner book, and man, what a kick in the teeth. The first two were such meh reads, and then three and four were much better and quite interesting. Obsessed ended with quite a cliffhanger, and I was interested to see how Ragan would tackle the issue that she presented. The way she went? Sucky. So sucky.

We have regressed to super bad – the book is not good. At all. Instead of being edgy with the whole botched/ruined wedding thing and instead of using this book for extreme character growth/introspection and to pack and emotional punch of note, Ragan blabs around in circles and goes nowhere, and the book is even more unrealistic than others in the series. The cases being investigated by her, Kitally and Hayley are so silly and there is nothing compelling about this book.

There are so many issues that could legitimately be explored in this book, like losing a loved one, respecting another person, dedication, support, domestic abuse, all of those things, and instead this book hobbles along in the most insipid manner possible. The villain dragged back for this? I barely remembered him from the first book. In fact, I barely remember anything about why Lizzy is the way she is, other than that she was kidnapped and held for some time. Like, how bad is it that the main protagonist we have been following for five books now is beyond lacklustre and mediocre? What?

The best way to summarise Almost Dead is extremely bland and boring. What a wasted opportunity that was set up. The book had no heart, and it had so much to work with, too. This series is so hit and miss – and more miss than anything, with only two semi-decent entries so far. The Jessie Cole book started with a bigger bang, and I am thinking that, if Ragan continues that series the way she started it, she will definitely have me sold, because Lizzy Gardner and her band of misfits is really irritating me more than entertaining me.

The Originals: Season 3 (2015 – 2016)

originals complete season 3 poster

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • Hayley and Elijah getting some awkward time together, and finally caving to it. YAY!
  • More Vincent. I really like this character, definitely interesting, and I am so looking forward to seeing where it goes for him.
  • The relationship ties between characters really improves more with each passing season.
  • I warmed to Freya – she annoyed me last season, but she has grown into herself, and definitely fits into the family better now, and I like that.
  • The relationship between Klaus and Elijah. I love how they can mess each other up intensely, but they are the only ones allowed to mess with each other like that, and then they will have drinks. Nicely done guys.

klaus and elijah

  • The guest appearances from Stefan and even Matt Donovan, as pompous and annoying as he still is.
  • The Mikaelson family drama remains absolutely enthralling every step of the way.
  • Those last two episodes! That finale! Like oh my goodness!

Okay, okay, okay. I can’t help it, but Elijah. So cold, so efficient, so classy, so hot.

originals season 3 elijah kills two people originals season 3 elijah hot

What I didn’t like:

  • Lucien. Ugh. I don’t even want to really type out what I think about this… prat. It’ll get ugly.
  • All these first turned vampires got on my nerves, not even going to lie.
  • This whole Camille/Klaus and Aurora/Klaus thing. It just annoys me. He doesn’t actually have any proper chemistry with them, anything that would convince me that they are supposed to be together (whichever he wants).
  • Camille annoyed me enough as is as a human, but as a vampire? UGH.
  • Finn coming back.
  • That whole prophecy angle, while it was good, was dragged out way more than necessary.
  • Minimal werewolf story arc, and I actually liked knowing more about them all.

originals season 3 vincent griffithRating:

Oh my goodness! What a season! Initially I was a little peeved, and there were sections I didn’t like, but there was also so much that was so right with this season! When it started up, I was a little sketch about all these first sired vampires, one for each Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah. Lucien Castle particularly annoyed me, even just the way he spoke. Soon it was evident that it was going to be an issue. Tristan didn’t peeve me like Lucien, but Aurora was a piece of work I didn’t like, and neither did I like this forced, ancient love story.

originals season 3 marcel trust your family

Davina leading the witches and finding herself wasn’t bad, either, I have warmed up to her as the show has progressed, though she truly still is a flawed individual. A character I adore is Vincent, and the man is fantastic, has his own set of morals, and works totally different. He is a character that is immensely sure of himself. I was also pleased to see how the Freya story arc was sorted out, because I really didn’t like her in the last season. I was so sad to see Jackson killed off – like I said, I really liked the dude, I just didn’t want him to be with Hayley because I am a Haylijah shipper for life man. Elijah is so freaking in love with Hayley, but he is such a good man and would put her happiness above his wants, and would step back so that she could just live her life. Man, too much for me.

Anyway, you obviously know I was over the moon when Klaus wheedled Hayley into admitting that she still had the hots for Elijah, and that she should do something about it, and then she did. My heart sang. Anyway, the Mikaelson “Always and Forever” motto is really put to the test here, and it was insane to see Kol brought back, but Rebekah taken, Finn brought back, though it was short-lived (thank goodness), and there is just melodrama everywhere, as is Mikaelson tradition. I loved seeing how this season tied into The Vampire Diaries (season 7), and it was great to see Stefan again.

Freaking heck, can we just talk about this Camille/Klaus crap for a second? It has always irritated me, this you know, but this last season it was particularly bad. Then the bitch was turned, and was even more annoying. I know this sounds awful, but when she passed, the only person I felt bad for for losing her was Vincent. Anyway, the way the Mikaelsons sorted out the warring sirelines was fantastic, and Klaus’s disposal of Lucien was cold, like wow. All that aside, that finale nearly drove me crazy! People dying left, right, centre, wars starting, this super dangerous hybrid whatever Lucien crafted, Klaus’s life, my poor Elijah getting snacked on (I literally cried out “no” when it happened), all sorts, it was some intense stuff! I was riveted.

originals season 3 klaus and hope

Review: The Silent Wife – Karin Slaughter

Will Trent #10

SYNOPSIS: Atlanta, Georgia. Present day. A young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead. The police investigate but the trail goes cold. Until a chance assignment takes GBI investigator Will Trent to the state penitentiary, and to a prisoner who says he recognizes the MO. The attack looks identical to the one he was accused of eight years earlier. The prisoner’s always insisted that he was innocent, and now he’s sure he has proof. The killer is still out there.

As Will digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the original case in order to reach the truth. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear. And now he needs medical examiner Sara Linton to help him hunt down a ruthless murderer. But when the past and present collide, everything Will values is at stake… – via Goodreads

Okay so I get ridiculously excited when I see Karin Slaughter is releasing a new book. Every time. I have been reading her books for around 12-13 years now, ever since I stumbled upon her first two books that someone was trying to bin. I read anything I could get my hands on, and they were new books from an unknown author in a genre I loved. I did not know what I was about to embark on was an absolute obsession. #noregrets

I was beyond stoked to see that we would be reading about Jeffrey Tolliver again. I am a fan of his, and I adore being able to go back to some original favourites. I love how the past and the present intermingle so effortlessly here. Reading in the present and flipping back to the past also brought up so much pain and suffering. All the angst, the worry, the fear, the heartbreak!

The Silent Wife is an excellent read. The relationships, as always, are nuanced and detailed and so real (I mean, we have been with these characters for over a decade). It’s awesome how Slaughter manages to keep things fresh, even this long on in a series. The book is twisty and genuinely scary at times, and it is so ridiculously exciting from page one.

So we return to Will Trent (also a huge fan) and Sara Linton and their fresh, icky case. Lena Adams makes a return as well, and it reminded me once again what an absolute nuisance that woman was. Ugh, what a character as well! Anyway, reading about the case and the developments hand in hand with the past is a tough one. I mean, I love Sara and Will together, and that she really does try to be so much more with him than she was with Jeffrey, and it did feel like cheating returning to Jeffrey, but man, it all works perfectly. I know, a love story, but really, Slaughter always works the romance in so naturally. What an emotional roller coaster! I NEED MORE!

All in all, The Silent Wife is yet another excellent piece of work from Karin Slaughter. The story is emotional and drags you right along for the ride, and is totally heart-stopping at times. I loved every minute of it and tried to drag the experience on for as long as possible – ask Natasha, I even did two hours of gardening (gardening!) to ensure I didn’t just tear through it super fast). As always, I highly recommend Slaughter’s work – it’s gory, dark, gritty, violent as hell and super intense, carried by very human characters and relationships throughout. Engaging read!

Review: The Fast and the Furious (2001)

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.”
– Dom

SYNOPSIS: Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Connor must decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamored with the street racing world he has been sent undercover to destroy. – via IMDB

You know, this came out when I was a rugrat and it was extremely popular then, so naturally it is a movie I saw multiple times when I was like… 11/12. I liked it. Fast cars and family and all that. I’ve grown up a lot and can see where the flaws are, and there are issues in this movie, but it is a good action movie regardless.

The Fast and the Furious introduces us to characters that we will get close to and stick with for more than a decade, and it’s crazy because they don’t even get too intense about showing you everyone and what they are, but they give you enough. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel work really well together, and give the movie a lot of its charisma. Chad Lindberg as Jesse, of course, is a favourite, and I will always be so sad about how his story was concluded before it even really got started. I also really liked that there were more practical effects here as opposed to CGI, gives the movie a much more authentic feel.

The soundtrack though is something I am not a big fan of. It’s supposed to fit but actually comes off as feeling like it’s trying to be too cool, so seems forced. The story is also super generic, no matter how many fast cars they tried to layer it under and wrap it up in. Granted, we got all the tropes we could expect from it, though some were certainly handled better than others.

Anyway, The Fast and the Furious is the first chapter in a massive franchise, and it’s not a bad one. Nostalgia definitely tides me through, but a simple story and a short run time help. The acting is a little off sometimes and sections of this movie are dated and didn’t age well, but overall, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, you can have quite a bit of fun with this.

Review: Thirteen – Steve Cavanagh

Eddie Flynn #4

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury? – via Goodreads

You know, this book impressed me because I really didn’t expect much from it at all. I did not know that it was a part of a series because it didn’t read like it was. Sure, references are made which will likely make way more sense if you have read the other books in the series, but did not stand out as an issue while reading, like you were missing something. Mentions of past actions or characters, etc. just felt like musings in the book, or indicators of how certain things came together, and it is rare that a book in a series can be read so successfully as a standalone.

Okay, now that I have marvelled the ability of the novel as a standalone, let’s get to the story itself. It was quite an interesting one, though it does require you suspend reality altogether, otherwise you are going to have a bad time. The pacing is super fast, and the book barrels along, which makes for an entertaining and fast read. The plot is constantly twisting and turning (albeit predictably at times), it is still fun. There are also quite a few characters to like in here.

It was pretty cool to read about this crazypants killer, but the reality of the killer did not quite live up to my expectations completely, but then again, maybe that is just due to the “suspend belief” thing. I found Thirteen to be quite a solid book for the story it tells. I liked it enough that I would happily check out other books in the series at some point. I would definitely recommend Thirteen if you are looking for a fast paced, crazy thriller, as it will definitely deliver on those fronts.

Review: American Pie (1999)

“No longer will our penises remain flaccid and unused! From now on, we fight for every man out there who isn’t getting laid when he should be! This is our day! This is our time! And, by God, we’re not gonna let history condemn us to celibacy! We will make a stand! We will succeed! We will get laid!”
– Kevin

SYNOPSIS: Four teenage boys enter a pact to lose their virginity by prom night. – via IMDB

See, this was one of those movies for pretty much every coming of age teen in my youth (except Natasha – how the heck did you miss this train?!), and it is a movie I have seen more times than I care to mention. Now, granted, I haven’t seen these movies in years and years and thought it was time to revisit them.

Now, while American Pie is nostalgic as all hell, I also look at it totally differently than I did when I was a rugrat and it came out. It is fun but it is so silly, and such a ludicrous concept that losing your virginity is the be all and end all in your life – though this is also a common teen movie trope. Growing older and wiser in my years (har har har), I have naturally learnt that there are more important things about. Not when you’re a teen though, I guess.

Jason Biggs is totally the perfect guy to play Jim. He is awkward, he is weird, he nails down that vibe and rolls with it. Seann William Scott own Stifler, he is such a total asshat! Finch is a character that I truly enjoyed – uptight, total oddball, but works. Even as a teen he made me laugh, he was just so different from the lot. Eugene Levy is perfectly embarrassing as Jim’s Dad. Alyson Hannigan will forever be “This One Time At Band Camp” Michelle for me, no matter how much How I Met Your Mother I have seen. Needless to say, American Pie touts a range of characters you will remember for years after as they were presented here. *cough cough* Jennifer Coolidge Stifler’s mom.

American Pie really goes for that icky, gross out humour and tons of sexual humour, and I am not really sure how someone who didn’t watch these movies when they came out, or is a lot older, will feel about them. Me? I still have fun, but that is also quite likely fuelled by the nostalgia. Blink-182 (pre-Tom departure) also has a guest appearance, which is quite amusing. This is not to say that the movie is without flaws – seriously, the story is all over the show, the writing and directing is messy at times, and it is definitely clunky.

All that being said, American Pie is nostalgic, silly, and features some gross out humour and is quite raunchy. Uneven but fun, I still think this is worth the watch, though I have no idea how it will work out for people who have never seen it before.

Review: The Obsession – Nora Roberts

SYNOPSIS: Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.  – via Goodreads

Well, well, well. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and picked it up at random while in Isle of Man forever and six days ago – the book shop had it super cheap and I felt like something to read, and grabbed it. I didn’t expect much – Roberts churns out relatively standard books, but every now and then she gets one that really just works for me. This was one of those.

The book opens with a bang, and it is one intense read, little Naomi following her cuckoo dad, discovering horrors that nobody, let alone a child, should see, and having her life crumble. It was intense, then it skips on to present day. I was so afraid that this would take the route of The Witness – solid intro and then just down the drain, luckily for me, it did not.

I am maybe not the biggest fan of the romance here – because it is super rushed and awfully sudden, like absolutely no tension developed between Naomi and Xander. I also got irritated about “he took her mouth”. I swear, that phrase repeated consistently throughout the book, and gave me a frisson of irritation every time it happened. That being said, I found the story enjoyable and I was hooked. The book barrels along, too, so there is not a lot of filler jammed into it. I also liked the characters in this one, which is what kept me going. Especially Seth and Harry, what a lovely pair!

Now, this book certainly doesn’t reinvent the genre, and is predictable to boot in terms of the villain, but it is a great, fun, light read and that is exactly what I was looking for.

Review: The Dark Portal – Robin Jarvis

The Deptford Mice #1

SYNOPSIS: In the sewers of Deptford, there lurks a dark presence that fills the tunnels with fear. The rats worship it in the blackness and name it “Jupiter, Lord of All.” Into this twilight realm wanders a small and frightened mouse-the unwitting trigger of a chain of events that hurtles the Deptford mice into a world of heroic adventure and terror.  – via Goodreads

I read these books when I was a kid – and I mean a little rugrat. I recently saw this pop up while I was something totally unrelated on Amazon, and decided it was time to give it a shot again. Why not? How would it stack up after all these years? It was quiet a dark, fun adventure when I was a kid.

Well, let’s just say that this is perfect for the target group – kids. Definitely. Okay, a little darker than most kids books, but that worked, too. I feel that the writing was a little stiff in places, and I especially found the characters to be flat and lacking (most of them, anyway), and the author didn’t really build atmosphere and let you get into it. Like, as a kid this is not bad, the books barrels along and it has a fantasy aspect to it, and enemy, an adventure, all that, but when you get older, you want more spine in your book, you want a more solid story and characters that have more depth.

It’s not a bad read, but it just felt disjointed. Also, an editor needs to look at this. Spelling issues, layout issues, and so many problems with punctuation it was actually a chore at times to not completely lose my cool. I don’t know when last I read something that was this poorly edited! While the characters are flat, you can enjoy some of them sometimes, though it is fleeting. I could still see the characters in my mind as I did when I was younger, so that was pretty cool.

It also frustrated me that the book always felt like it was starting, it never felt like it was actually going anywhere, like it had developed into anything. The conclusion felt super rushed. Like I was reading and then it was suddenly over, and came across as messy. There was no sense of danger, no epiphany, no closure. It was just suddenly happening and then conveniently it was all over. I found it interesting to read about the landmarks in the book and actually have been to some of the places.

Anyway, there is not really much to say about The Dark Portal. It’s very good for the audience that it is intended for (speaking from experience, I really enjoyed these as a kid), but it does not hold up wonderfully for adults, to be honest. I had some nostalgia when reading, but it is not like reading Potter or Dr Seuss or anything like that from my youth. A decent read,  but not something I will be going over again.