Review: The Chestnut Man – Søren Sveistrup

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over. – via Goodreads

I got access to a copy of this awhile ago. The write up looked like my cup of tea, and a Scandinavian thriller/mystery is totally something I am on board for. As Jade said the other week, this is typically that story of a cop who neglects their home life in favour of saving other people and their loved ones. No different, box standard formula. Which would have been okay, except that it wasn’t.

I thought the story was going to be… more. So much more. But it was seriously bogged down by the writing, or (and I will freely admit this) the translation. There were plenty times while reading where I was like “oh dear, that could have been edited better, or translated more smoothly”, and it kept jarring me out of the story. I also feel that there is a ton of filler stuff, and that the book is filled with flat, bland characters. They are really by the numbers, nothing special… okay, except maybe for the fact that they were really daft. Almost wilfully stupid. I mean really. I know I am just the reader, but they were clunky and blind and, honestly, came across as incompetent more often than not. And I don’t mean the higher ups – I mean Thulin and Hess, our main pair.

Not only that, the author Søren Sveistrup weaves in a totally unnecessary and bland romance. It just came across as forced. I didn’t like that at all, and it pops up out of nowhere, and nothing comes of it. I mean they are trundling along, and all of a sudden they just want each other, then they don’t? What? Just, no. No.

So I am in the minority apparently about how I felt about this book – it seems other readers loved it. It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the characters or care about them, the book was very predictable in places, there was too much filler stuff between happenings, the logic is a little questionable, and the experience overall was not that great. The book felt like a super long read, so I didn’t love that, either. I just didn’t love The Chestnut Man, overall.

August Blind Spot Review: Into the Wild (2007)

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into the wild poster

“The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences.”
– Chris McCandless

SYNOPSIS: After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life. – via IMDB

into the wild alaska

GRADE 7Alright, now I can finally cross this off my massive watch list, too. I must say that while I enjoyed the movie, I did not absolutely love and adore it, and think it is a little hyped up. Maybe a tad too much. Anyway, that being said, there was a lot to like about this. There was the huge, sprawling backdrop of America that Chris traverses on his journey to Alaska, and all the people he meets along the way and the influence that he has on them and, inversely, them on him is fascinating and worth checking out. Hirsch, of course, shines here, and I think he is quite a talented actor. Chris and his motivations to up and leave his family one day are very complex, and can be seen as both understandable as well as completely cooked, depending which side of the spectrum you fall on and how you look at it. I think the whole cast did quite well with what they brought to the table, and made the tale real. I did enjoy the concept of finding yourself, becoming your own person, and how society influences all of these things on one hand, but at times the movie was a little heavy handed with sharing these concepts with the viewer. I also took issue with how long the movie is, and I am not one to quickly point something like that, especially not in a drama film, but this movie took forever. I was interested, not riveted, and I enjoyed it, but I do think that it could have done with some tightening. There were also parts where the movie felt hollow – like it set out to be something else, but didn’t quite hit the heights that it had wanted. For me personally, that is. Anyway, I think it is worth a watch, but I was not as taken with it as I had expected. The film is shot well, looks good, has a strong cast carrying it, and is interesting, but ultimately it falls a little short of the ambitious mark that it set for itself.

Review: Hideaway – Dean Koontz

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hideaway cover

SYNOPSIS: He was clinically dead after the accident—but was miraculously revived. Now Hatch Harrison and his wife approach each day with a new appreciation for life.

But something has come back with Hatch from the other side. A terrible presence that links his mind to a psychotic’s, so that a force of murderous rage courses through him. – via Goodreads

GRADE 6.5Alright, so my reading slump is lessening. Not much, not too fast, but I definitely have a whole lot of books I wanted to check out. I stuck with Koontz because, as we have established, they are usually fast, light, decent reads. This one took forever to go anywhere though, and I was getting right annoyed. The car accident, rescue, and hospital revival took 130 pages. That is lunacy! Anyway, while it dwindled and took forever and six days to start catching, when it did, it got interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed the last half of the book. The concept was pretty cool, a man resuscitated after being dead for so long, and coming back a little different, with a super creepy connection to a pretty dark dude. Aside from that, it is pretty standard work (Koontz has a formula, or so I have noticed). A balance is struck between telling us the story from the perspective of the good and the evil, and Vassago’s character was interesting, and intrigued when he was given the limelight. I did enjoy the few times we got to read about things from Regina’s perspective, her conversations/prayers were quite amusing. There are quite a few clunky parts in Hideaway, but nothing so bad it couldn’t be read. I liked this, but didn’t love it, though it definitely takes time to get into. Some seem to have been riveted by the opening of this novel. I found it to be tedious though. Quick read, after you get past the beginning, though it won’t be breaking any boundaries of other Koontz books, as far as I can tell. Will see what the next one brings me!

Rapid Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

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x men apocalupse poster

“Everything they’ve built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one!”
– Apocalypse

SYNOPSIS: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. – via IMDB

x men apocalypse not all of us can control our powers

GRADE 7Yes! I finally went to see this. My husband wasn’t thrilled (he loves going to the cinema), but he knew it is one of the few superhero movies I will insist on seeing in the cinema. Screw that, any new movie in this franchise will have me tripping out, no matter how many installments. I know, it sounds mad. I think the reviews have been unjustly harsh towards X-Men: Apocalypse, though it is by no means a perfect movie. It definitely doesn’t have the wow factor of Days of Future Past, and the plot is a little messy (okay, maybe a dash more than a little), and there were some holes, and the pacing was a bit off. The villain, Apocalypse, was also quite disappointing in the long run. As much as I like Oscar Isaac, this was really not good. There was so much more that could have been done with this character! His rising and the X-Men battling him was so rushed and quick, his true power and danger is never really realised, which is a pity. Besides that, the cast is, as is to be expected, excellent. McAvoy is a fantastic Charles, and Fassbender, of course, delivers as the tortured Erik. I wish that the two of them had been given more screen time, if I am being honest, but I loved them when they were there. Also, Nicholas Hoult could have done with more screen time, too. Okay, I think one of the large flaws of the film is that there are a ton of characters, and none are really done any real justice. Evan Peters returns and owns as Quicksilver, which I loved. I must say though, his hit scene from DOFP was recreated here, and as entertaining as it was, it wasn’t perfect like the last one, and didn’t thrill me as much. It also felt squished in, like it was expected. Fun, but a little off. Sophie Turner really impressed me as Jean Grey (and trust me, this was something I was extremely leery about), and Tye Sheridan’s Scott Summers didn’t manage to peeve me endlessly, which in and of itself is a feat. Last but not least, I want to talk about how awesome Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler is. I was so stoked to see the Nightcrawler return, and to see him get such a large role was fantastic. Happy as can be! Look, he is no Alan Cumming, but he was still wonderful, and I am hoping to see more of him in future movies. Also, a young Storm? Yay! Yes, I had a total ball with all these things. I actually think this film is going to appeal more to people who love the X-Men franchise, and not necessarily newcomers. That being said, I enjoyed the story, but didn’t love it, it was flawed, but a fun film, the effects were good, but there were issues, but I would definitely recommend it for a watch. I really am such a fan of going back to see how the X-Men formed, how the relationships were, how everything was before, and I really think a great job is being done with that. I am going to stop now, before this review gets excessively long.