Review: Two Nights – Kathy Reichs

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct. . . .

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago. – via Goodreads

Okay. Uhm, let’s see. Two Nights. Uhm… no. This just wasn’t my thing. It could have been, but it wasn’t, and I should have known better seeing as this is a Reichs novel, and I have never actually enjoyed anything I have read from her. I thought this would be different, as a standalone and not part of her Temperance Brennan series, but boy, I was wrong.

I absolutely could not stand the lead character, Sunnie. Or her stupid freaking name (Sunday Night – I am not even kidding). Or her horrendous sense of humour. She was a gruff character, and not in the good way. She annoyed me, she did not come across and broken or strong or a survivor, but a whiny brat. Also, stupid little details that Reichs insisted on highlighting – such as exactly which shade of OPI Sunnie was wearing on her nails was just grating. I did not like the way the book was written, either. Certain phrases were constantly recycled (the biggest offender was “pro that I am”). So many of the sentences are short and snippy, which makes for staccato reading, nothing smooth. Just jarring.

The books dawdles and runs in circles the whole time, and there are massive chunks of time dedicated to, well, nothing happening. Just repetitive waiting, waiting, waiting, and I just couldn’t stand it. I think the best thing about this mess was Gus, and he was not featured nearly as much as he could have been. Another thing? The history of Gus and Sunnie had so much more potential than was realised in the book. This really could have been the something to draw us in. Instead the constant hinting but no real payoff really just got under my skin. Yes, it really seems that this whole book got under my skin, and it did.

Two Nights is sloppily written, filled to the brim with hateful characters, and has a rather thin story stretched out to within an inch of its life. It is dull and a total waste of time, and took me forever to slog through. Definitely not a book I enjoyed or could recommend. I am not a fan of Reichs and her work, though many people seem to love her stuff.

We’re Moving!

I know I have been MIA for quite some time now, and I am sorry about it. I really want to catch up with everyone, see what’s been going on, and actually create some fresh content for my blog, but I have been ridiculously busy lately. Why, you may ask? Because my husband and I have made the decision to emigrate from South Africa to the United Kingdom. Since we have decided that, life has been a whirlwind.

It’s quite a big decision, and has understandably taken up every moment of my time, from ironing out the details, getting paperwork together, my husband doing all the crazy interviews and nailing something down, the extreme calculations, packing up our home/life, to selling stuff and just all the big and small things that come with the decision to leave one’s country. In between this all there has obviously been the thing of finalising everything at our jobs and saying goodbye to everyone, so things have been mad.

That being said, I think I am fluctuating between extreme excitement and sheer terror at the prospect of venturing out into the world with no support structure of family, etc. that one usually comes to rely on. I am really looking forward to starting our new adventure, and hope to be back on the blogosphere with more consistency sooner rather than later. I think my blog is going to be living up to its namesake in the foreseeable future for a change.

Catch up with all of you sporadically, and hopefully with more regularity soon!

Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

“I think if we are kind, it will be a kind world.”
– Walter

SYNOPSIS: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. – via IMDB

Alrighty, this is a movie I have been looking forward to for some time, and I know that my review is rather late in posting, especially considering I actually watched it weeks ago when it first came out. Alien: Covenant is worth the watch. I know that there has been some bitching online, but people need to breathe. There were some niggles to be had here, and there were some things that should be celebrated too.

First and foremost, Covenant managed to balance what I had hoped Prometheus would have when it came out: the gore and the existential philosophising. This is handled really well. The creation question still emerges and is dealt with far better here than in its predecessor, as it handles the themes as introduced in Prometheus more successfully, yet still delivers the blood and gore one craves when watching an Alien movie. It sets an atmosphere again that is both isolated and creepy as hell, much like the Alien films of old. It also has plenty action and some deep themes to look into, and there is blood. Oh yes, all that blood.

The cast, too, was pretty good here. Yes, a lot of them were there purely for sacrifice and the bloodletting we spoke about above, but then there are some performances that stand out. I was surprised that Danny McBride didn’t get under my skin as always, and I actually quite enjoyed Tennessee’s scenes, he was entertaining. Then there is Katherine Waterson’s Daniels, a resolute woman who is easy to root for, and I appreciate that. Naturally everybody has been raving about Michael Fassbender’s performance(s) in this, and I totally get why. The man is brilliant and an absolute scene stealer. I mean wow. He totally got involved here and brought all the goods to the table.

Now, I did have some issues. I didn’t like that the one huge plotsie that was set out here is so damn transparent it is impossible to miss. I would have liked some more mystery there. Another thing, I was not overly sold on all the different xenomorphs here. Yes, we get different ones for each film, yes, they all bring something to the table, but these ones made me thing a lot of the cat-like, super bad CGI xenomorphs of Alien³. Really. Also, the effects were a little dodgy at the best of times and pulled me totally out of the experience, which sucked a bit. A huge gripe I had was that ridiculously unnecessary sex/shower scene that was tacked in here. It had no place in the movie, and was totally uncalled for. Not a fan.

Alien: Covenant hits the ground running with its story and execution. Definitely nothing new at all, but it is brutal, fast paced, carried by good performances, and sets an atmosphere for the audience. The pacing is also quite good, as it doesn’t feel rushed or drawn out. While not a perfect movie, it is a damn enjoyable one. Scott gets to balance out his Prometheus themes with the horror of his original Alien, and so Covenant is birthed and I can appreciate it. Worth a watch I say, especially if you are a fan of the Alien franchise.

Review: The Last Town – Blake Crouch

Wayward Pines #3

SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Wayward Pines, the last town.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrived in Wayward Pines, Idaho, three weeks ago. In this town, people are told who to marry, where to live, where to work. Their children are taught that David Pilcher, the town’s creator, is god. No one is allowed to leave; even asking questions can get you killed.

But Ethan has discovered the astonishing secret of what lies beyond the electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and protects it from the terrifying world beyond. It is a secret that has the entire population completely under the control of a madman and his army of followers, a secret that is about to come storming through the fence to wipe out this last, fragile remnant of humanity. – via Goodreads

Well there we have it folks, the trilogy is done. It’s a super fast trilogy to read, and I am glad that it is all done and dusted now. While not this insanely intricate trilogy, it was fun, albeit predictable and a little silly. Each book has a distinctly different feel to it, and this final one was through and through survival horror, but it was good.

Absolutely nothing shocking came to  light here again, but it was interesting to read about what happened in Wayward Pines after that cuckoo -crazy Pilcher shut off the power. Issues are addressed in this book, the ego of man, but there is no real and substantial lesson to be learned here. The book focuses on the residents of Wayward Pines and the narrative flicks between some characters, be it just to tell about a slice of horror, or to contribute to the main story overall.

Ethan is still not a character I am particularly sold on, and the supporting characters don’t really win you over either. There are still more fragmented sentences than you can shake a stick at and The Last Town still sports the phenomenally questionable and impossible logic and reasoning as its predecessors, but when ones does not focus too closely on that. It barrels on as a light, entertaining read. I am still frustrated at how one dimensional the characters are, and how preposterous things are at times, as well as the silly interactions between people. They come across as so hollow.

I have noticed that these novels are particularly popular and have a loyal following, and maybe I expect more mystery from a thriller, and you know, maybe more thrills, but I could recommend these books if you are looking for a light, quick read. Maybe you find more heart in it than I did. Either way, I don’t regret having purchased these, and they kept me buy and intrigued for a few hours – enough so that I read them back to back, not as filler reads.

100 Happy Days 2: Day 91 – 100

Okay, finally posting the end of my second 100 Happy Days Challenge! I know, it took me long enough. Will maybe soon share what’s been cooking 🙂 Thanks for checking in on this throughout the duration guys!

Day 91:

Restarted The Walking Dead recently. I really liked the first two seasons and watched until five, but thought it got so boring. Let’s see what happens after that.

Day 92:

Picked up a Slush Puppie on the way home from dinner the other night. They are amazing.

Day 93:

Super chilled – watching The Walking Dead and snacking on some Nik-Naks. So good.

Day 94:

What a gorgeous day it was! Green, lush, super sunny without being excessively warm, loved it.

Day 95:

Snaaaaaaacks! The guys chilled and played some games this weekend, so we got snacks and I watched some series and relaxed. We totally needed it.

Day 96:

Naturally ESKOM had the power off for the whole day. Again. So we tripped out to see Alien: Covenant while waiting for the power to come back.

Day 97:

OMG! MY PASSPORT! FINALLY! Had some issues with this. I applied for it, and all went well, and then suddenly last week they closed the home affairs here without any indication of when they would be open again. Naturally this happened after my passport had been dispatched, so I have been panicking. We dropped by and they happened to be open, so I snatched the opportunity up to get this sorted no matter the amount of time it took. Yay! I now have official travel documents again!

Day 98:

Got a sweet score recently from Clicks with their online sale. Yay!

Day 99:

Decided to get adventurous and step out of my comfort zone and try the Nescafé Gingerbread Latté. Not bad.

Day 100:

I love Italian meatball subs. This must be said. This one looked glorious, and I was super excited, but sadly it was not as awesome as I was hoping – it was rather bland. But points to be awarded for presentation.

Review: Wayward – Blake Crouch

Wayward Pines #2

SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amidst picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden…except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture.
None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise.

Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining. – via Goodreads

So I returned to this after completing Pines, a book that was entertaining enough, albeit predictable and messy. Wayward brings more to the table, though it is still flawed. The fragmented sentences still reign supreme, and Ethan is still not the most likable protagonist in the world, and the logic and reasoning is still all over the show and a little hard to swallow, but overall the story definitely had more kick to it this time around.

Wayward breezes along, and to not have to follow Ethan around just trying to figure out who he is and just running is nice. We understand all that is sinister, and while we don’t know everything, we know enough to follow what’s cooking. Ethan’s actions are sometimes beyond ridiculous, but I have come to accept that it is simply how this character is. David Pilcher is explored a little more in this novel, and so is Pam. Ethan and Pam are supposed to hate each other to the ends of the world, but it just doesn’t feel real.

The story of Alyssa, while super engaging, was also rapidly swept under the rug, and dragged out once in a while to remind us that there was a murder investigation at play. I am interested to know what else Tobias learned on his furlough beyond the town, but it was no shocker whatsoever to learn who he is. Theresa annoyed me quite a bit – finally learning the truth and taking that anger out on Ethan, making out that he is an idiot for not changing things, that is not fair.

This book also did a much better job at addressing how things are handled in Wayward Pines, the structures, and how things worked. It almost makes it worse knowing how everything works in the town. Something I did take issue with, however, is how they want the residents to think that they are dead right, but they keep them in line with the fear of death? If you are already dead, how is death an effective threat? SO CONFUSED. I felt that there was a lot of filler stuff in between the actual plot as well as the explanations behind the town and what was going on, but because of the writing style this just zips by at least. As before, the book is more predictable than it would like you to believe.

Anyway. I will definitely read the final installment of this series. I have come this far and I need to know how things are going to work out for everyone, and what the end game is.

May Blind Spot Review: Rear Window (1954)

“I’ve seen bickering and family quarrels and mysterious trips at night, and knives and saws and ropes, and now since last evening, not a sign of the wife. How do you explain that?”
– Jeff

SYNOPSIS: A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. – via IMDB

So I finally, finally watched this. I quite liked Disturbia when I saw it, and learned after the fact that it was based on Rear Window. I have vowed for years that I would get to this, and it has finally happened folks. I am so damn proud of myself. That being said, let’s talk about the movie, a film I particularly liked for a variety of reasons and can finally understand why it is so revered.

Rear Window faces the challenge of taking place in pretty much one place. I am not usually bothered by this even remotely, provided that the story is solid and there is method to the madness. One set is fine with me. This is a prime example of how to handle a single area. You are constantly wondering about Lars Thorwald and all that Jeff is seeing, wondering if there really is an issue, or if Jeff is so bored from sitting there the whole time and his mind is getting awfully creative. The performances from both the stunningly gorgeous Grace Kelly and James Stewart are exceptionally important for the implementation of the film. Because we essentially only have one area the story is taking place in, their chemistry is important, as well as the delivery of their roles. You buy into their obsession – it starts slowly with Lisa, initially dismissive, and then they are hooked, both of them. This obsession also forces them to come together more – they are also so into each other and dancing around it because Jeff is a fool that thinks Lisa is just some finicky fashionista with no real depth. Idiot.

I enjoyed the dynamics between Jeff, Lisa, and Stella. I was not overly keen on Detective Doyle and his distinctly sexist views on things, but it must also be noted that this movie did touch on feminism. Lisa is a strong, independent woman who totally does not fit the mould Jeff would like to place her in, and Stella is also quite the entertaining woman. I also truly appreciated the dialogue of the film – it is fast, witty and sharp.

The way that the movie was shot is also impressive – the voyeuristic feeling you get while Jeff watches the courtyard and the neighbours lingers. It really comes across as curious, and then moves right into creepy territory, which adds to the suspense and unease you feel when watching this, which is awesome. It is masterfully handled. The runtime for this is rather long, but you never feel like time is being wasted while sitting around and watching it. Instead you are hooked from the off and desperate to see what happens.

Rear Window is a rewarding watch, something I can say I am pleased to have finally gotten to. It is masterfully created, the suspense sets in from the off, it is visually appealing to watch and carried by fantastic performances from our lead. It is engaging and fascinating and well worth the look see.