Review: Killing November – Adriana Mather

2

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 likable 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: The Stolen Girls – Patricia Gibney

5

Detective Lottie Parker #2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: The young woman standing on Lottie’s step was a stranger. She was clutching the hand of a young boy. ‘Help me,’ she said to Lottie. ‘Please help me.’

One Monday morning, the body of a young pregnant woman is found. The same day, a mother and her son visit the house of Detective Lottie Parker, begging for help to find a lost friend.

Could this be the same girl?

When a second victim is discovered by the same man, with the murder bearing all the same hallmarks as the first, Lottie needs to work fast to discover how else the two were linked. Then two more girls go missing.

Detective Lottie Parker is a woman on the edge, haunted by her tragic past and struggling to keep her family together through difficult times. Can she fight her own demons and catch the killer before he claims another victim?  – via Goodreads

I decided to give this one a shot because the synopsis seemed alright, and people were comparing this to the work of Karin Slaughter, so naturally I was sold. Unfortunately for me, this is not the same genius as Slaughter, and I had a myriad of issues with the book. Some things I liked, but for the most part, I was not pleased.

To start, I figured out pretty quickly after starting this that this was the second book in a series, which sucks because I don’t like reading things out of sequence. It was obvious, too, because the author continually referred to things that obviously happened in the last book, and it felt like I was missing something major because I had not read it, which sucked. I prefer a book in a series to be okay on its own, even if you miss some things, but to feel like you have been chucked into the middle of the ocean is not cool.

I was not a fan of one single character in this book. Not our main protagonist Lottie Parker (I just think she’s a terrible mother and an all round bitch), and the supporting characters were not endearing, either. I just want to take another moment to talk about Lottie. She is really terrible – she knows her kids are going through stuff, and she is just absent. Completely, totally absent. I also found her extremely selfish and I didn’t like the way she treated other people. Not cool. I found most of the characters to be whiny. I was initially drawn into the writing style, because it came across as solid, but the longer I read, the more dawdling and long-winded it became, going around in circles and never really getting to a point. The plot also tried to be so much more in depth and complex than it ultimately was, so it came across as really convoluted.

I enjoyed the concept of the book, I did. I also liked reading about the young boy who fled the extreme horrors or his past, who survived, and who underwent even more harsh things at the hands of terrible people. I could have done with more of that and less rape scenes. Also, setting up this monster stalking these girls was something, but never really got to anything super scary because Gibney almost had too many bad people in this novel, so they ultimately all ran together and had no distinguishing features. There were way too many coincidences in this book to make the plot plausible, too.

I have to give Gibney credit for the grittiness of the book. She did not shy away from some heinous things (maybe that’s why this got the Slaughter comparison). I know it sounds rough, but when an author is ballsy about that stuff, I have got to respect it. You want to tell a story about human trafficking and the sex trade? You are going to have to get into some icky areas.

Anyway, The Stolen Girls is not the worst thing you could read, but it is convoluted, filled to the brim with unlikable characters, and is an excruciatingly long read that happens to have an interesting plot that is just drowned by all the issues presented throughout the book. I don’t know if I will be in a hurry to read anything else from Gibney, despite the fact that she is not afraid to go to the nasty places for her story, a book that is icky and gory does not mean it is a good read if it cannot substantiate the nastiness with a solid story.

Rapid Review: Knock Knock (2015)

9

knock knock poster

“I’m an architect, so obviously I believe in things happening by your own design.”
– Evan Webber

SYNOPSIS: When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse. – via IMDB

knock knock headphones

GRADE 4Well, yeah. I got to see this, something I have been looking forward to. Primarily for Keanu Reeves, let’s not even joke. Okay, well, Keanu Reeves and a horror film? Sold. Well, I got to see this, and it just… had more potential? It started off well enough, and then devolved into something crazy. My fiancé and I were just sitting there, hoping for an explanation so that it would give the movie some reason, some meaning. Instead, when the opportunity came to give us meaning, the ball was dropped. Right off, let me just say that those bitches were annoying as hell. Lorenzo Izzo’s Genesis and Ana de Armas’s Bel got on my absolute last nerve. Maybe that is because they were too good at what they did. I don’t know. I was just annoyed as hell watching them. Knock Knock is cheesy, too, and not the good kind, either. I mean I did not expect a masterpiece going in  here, the trailer already showed it was going to be a little ridiculous and all, but I did not realise that it would be so wasted. The performances were perfectly fine – everyone delivered exactly what they were supposed to and Reeves was really good – something totally different from usual, and it was shot quite well, but aside from that? The plot was all over the show and inconsistent, the characters were annoying, we are waiting for a reason, a motive, that just never makes an appearance, and there are places to make you cringe in here. I am alright with a horror comedy/some cheese (we all know this), but Knock Knock just didn’t deliver on those fronts like I was hoping it would. Obviously I was not expecting John Wick or Constantine, but I was expecting more than I got here. I think that Roth should have stuck to his more gory/horror/tension things. I know he is going for something different, but there was certainly something missing here. Maybe this is a learning curve for him, I suppose we will see.

Rapid Review: Max Mad (1979)

16

mad-max-poster

“Any longer out on that road and I’m one of them, you know? A terminal crazy… only I got a bronze badge to say I’m one of the good guys.”
– Max Rockatansky

SYNOPSIS: In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang. – via IMDB

mad max 1979

GRADE 5Well, gotta say that this is certainly not as good as I would have hoped. I have not seen the original Mad Max trilogy in years, and I thought it was time to check it out (obviously with the new release and all that). Hmmmmm. Not so good. It hasn’t aged well, has pretty much no story, and some of the worst parenting I have seen in a really long time. Max and his lady run off with their kid, yet when shit hits the fan, not a single person wondered about the child until too late. Now, the thing about this movie is that it starts slow and goes nowhere for an hour and ten minutes. The whole thing that you remember about this movie is crammed into the last fifteen to twenty minutes – what makes Max mad, what sets him off and gets him on this whole revenge mission, everything. Meanwhile, before we get there, we are in some form of dystopian future where we have no idea what the rules are or how the world has changed. We just need to sort of accept that it is filled with crazies. I suppose we should try buy into that, it just didn’t really work so well for me, but that is likely because the movie hasn’t aged as well as you would hope. If the story was just fleshed out more, it would not feel like you are going around in circles, waiting for something to happen, then have Max go on his revenge spree, but not actually do anything. The movie wasn’t shot terribly at all, all things considered, but I do feel that time could have been used to flesh out the characters more before the tragedy, making us feel something for Max’s plight. I remember Mad Max being so much more. This one didn’t tick that box as to why this was so popular. The score was alright, the dialogue was alright for the most part, it was shot quite well, it is just that I wanted more action, more revenge. It is marketed as a bloody revenge type dystopian action, but that isn’t really what it is all about. The movie itself isn’t quite sure what it wants to be, and this makes the pacing very uneven. I did like checking some old school Mel Gibson running around in leather, though all he is to me nowadays is some abusive cuckoo that lost the plot. Pity, too. The logic in the movie didn’t follow so well, like how that biker gang just so happened to constantly be wherever Max was, but other things it got right (like how run down and sad everything looked in the future). I think that Mad Max is riding on the cult classic status it has achieved, which is beyond me. It certainly can’t be this . Overall it is a hollow experience, and is just pretty much there to introduce us to Max as a character as well as the dystopian world, and how he became Mad Max, preparing us for the movies to come, seeing as this didn’t really bring too much to the table.

Review: The Search – Nora Roberts

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the search nora roberts

Fiona Bristow runs a dog training centre and heads up a canine search and rescue unit, and both are her life. Fiona has a history, a bad one, that cost her the love of her life. Kidnapped and almost killed, Fiona escaped from the Red Scarf Killer, George Perry, being the only woman in dozens that survived his murder spree. In return, Perry retaliated and killed Greg, her love, and his K-9 partner, Kong. Fiona has had to move on and rebuild her life, and went to Orcas Island to do so.

Her mother-in-law, Sylvia, sends bachelor and artist Simon Doyle to Fiona for help training his puppy, Jaws, who he cannot stand and was a gift from his mother. Initially the two do not get along, yet they fascinate each other, and eventually things heat up enough to end up in a sexual romp. The two are forced to spend more time together when a fresh bout of murders occurs, the MO identical to Perry’s, though he is in prison. The only conclusions that can be drawn is that there is a copycat, or Perry groomed someone.

Fiona refuses to let her life be ruled by fear again, and continues as best she can. She and Simon do not want a relationship, but they are steadily moving in that direction. It soon becomes evident that the new Red Scarf killer is making his way toward Fiona, and he starts taunting her. Fiona is terrified, and this aggravates Simon. The entire island is looking out for Fiona, and the feds work their way back into her life while they hunt down their latest problem. Fiona is also dealing with a pesky reporter who does not care who she needs to walk over to get her next scoop and make a name for herself.

Will the island looking out for her be enough? Will the solitude of her home count against her? Will Perry’s disciple ever get to her? Will the FBI stop this man, too? Will Fiona be able to hold it together? Will her and Simon ever get over themselves and just let themselves be together?

GRADE 4.5So here was another one that I gave a try and I must say that again, I was not bowled over. I think my issue is that Roberts writes too unrealistically for me, and it is more about some soppy, ludicrous romance as opposed to the crime section that I want more of. I like layered villains, or more scary criminals, or something like that. Also, so far her books are overwhelmingly similar. For instance, The Search was too similar to The Witness, what with escaping a bad past, too much gardening and dogs, wine and all that. Another thing that worked on my last nerve was the fact that this book revolved so much around dogs. Like I don’t mind dogs and pets and all that but seriously, I am sure that there are so many other types of things to write about. The romance, again, just felt rushed and hollow and I wasn’t a fan. She also sets this unattainable type of relationship up in her books, and then this just again reminds me why women that read too many romance novels have issues dealing with a real relationship because they are expecting something like this which is just not right. This one definitely had a more satisfying end than the failure from The Witness, but it still felt like a rushed cop out. So much of this book just felt like it was going in circles and not contributing anything, and I felt like I wasted my time. I think I just have really high expectations for stories in this genre because I want some flesh, some more psychology and a deeper meaning behind things. Again, it is not because Roberts is a bad writer, her work flows and all, it is just the realism that gets to me, and how it can feel like an empty affair sometimes. Probably because the bulk of what I read usually is either crime thrillers, dramas or horrors, etc. so I am used to something being more serious, well thought out and constructed, with logic that flows and a creepy villain. I wanted to like this more, I did, but it just didn’t really work for me. Seeing as Natasha is a huge fan and has recommended me some more of her work I am bound to find something in there that I like. Oh well, maybe there are others that are like The Villa, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I suppose we will find out. Maybe.