Review: The Whispering Room – Dean Koontz

Jane Hawk #2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: “No time to delay. Do what you were born to do. Fame will be yours when you do this.” 

These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun–just before she takes her own life, and many others’, in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better.

In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide–and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals–Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But these ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue–and become the nation’s most wanted fugitive–in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.

Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them. – via Goodreads

I read The Silent Corner a while ago and quite enjoyed it, very different to what I am used to from Koontz. When this became available for request on Netgalley, I just knew I needed to know what would happen with Jane Hawk and her incessant hunt for the truth about a huge conspiracy to control mankind and to avenge her husband.

The Whispering Room picks up almost directly after The Silent Corner, and wastes no time getting the story underway. As with the first novel, it feels like it could have been shorter in some places and felt like it rambled a bit in places, but other than that, barrels along at the speed of light. We have two new characters to sink out teeth into  and enjoy what with Luther and Grandpa Bernie, which is nice. Fresh characters can be fun, and I particularly enjoyed Jane teaming up with Luther Tillman. The man is smart and sharp and brave, too, which works wonders for them in the team.

The story unfolds rapidly, and the conspiracy to take over the world for “peace” and all that throws a few spanners into the works along the way, the theory of what this conspiracy club is doing and how and who is in charge and why keeps changing. The term “play Manchurian with me” becomes a really important part of this book, and it was interesting to also read a bit of the story form the perspective of a woman who “has a spider who lives in her brain”.

I feel that this Jane Hawk trilogy started strongly and has a follow up that is just as good as the first. I am super interested to see the final part of this story to see how Koontz is going to wrap it up and bring it all to a close. Hopefully soon I will know! The Whispering Room provides another interesting, fast read that has a few characters to truly enjoy, though there are places the book could certainly have been tightened up some.

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Review: The Roses of May – Dot Hutchison

The Collector #2

SYNOPSIS: Four months after the explosion at the Garden, a place where young women known as the Butterflies were kept captive, FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez are still entrenched in the aftermath, helping survivors in the process of adjusting to life on the outside. With winter coming to an end, the Butterflies have longer, warmer days of healing ahead. But for the agents, the impending thaw means one gruesome thing: a chilling guarantee that somewhere in the country, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers.

Priya Sravasti’s sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mother move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. But when she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found—but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line? – via Goodreads

I gave The Butterfly Garden a read quite some time ago, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it. It requires a lot of suspended belief before you can get into it, but if you picture it all happening in some alternate reality, it works. I was interested to see how Hutchison would continue the story of the escaped butterflies and all the trauma that followed, so I picked this up at the first opportunity I got.

The Roses of May is completely different from what I was expecting. For one, the butterflies are not the focus of this one or the aftermath of the explosion. This is not a bad thing at all, just unexpected. In a series titled The Collector, I was expecting more of… I don’t know, the Gardner collecting more girls? His trial? Anyway. The story focuses of a young girl named Priya, whose sister was brutally murdered years ago by a serial killer, and it is likely he is stalking her. We get a long look into Priya’s life and mind and relationship with her mother Deshani, and it is something I quite enjoyed.

The agents of The Butterfly Garden return, and we learn so many more things about Eddison, Hanoverian, and Ramirez. I find that really interesting, as in the first book they were just there as the officials getting the story out of Inara, whereas here they are characters with lives and emotions and everything. I was interested in how Hutchison brought Priya, Bliss and Inara together, too, and thought it worked quite well.

The Roses of May is a little predictable, but the writing (I feel) is more solid this time around. It reads faster and with less drag. I know there is a lot of comparison in this review between  this and the first book, but the first book essentially set things up that this was to continue, and made the agents minor characters, etc. so the expectation going into this was totally different.  While predictable, it does not take away from it being an entertaining read nonetheless. I enjoyed reading about Priya in the park with the veterans playing chess, and it was nice to read about the relationship between Priya and Eddison, too.

The Roses of May is worth the read, that’s for sure. Hutchison polished up some of the issues from the first book, and gives us another compelling story to get into.

JB & The Chop Do: Scream 3 (2000)

JB & THE CHOP SCREAM

Peeps! We are totally on a roll with these movies, the most awesome Chop and I! Man, I have been having a blast, and I am thrilled the Chop was game to do another one of these. So now we are on to the third part of the original trilogy. This is, in my opinion, the weakest of the four Scream films… but what did PSC think of this thing?

scream 3 poster

SYNOPSIS: While “Stab 3” is in production, somebody in a ghost mask starts to murder the new cast members. This lures Sidney out from hiding deep in the woods where she lives, and she comes to Hollywood to face the killer for the final act. – via IMDB

JB SCREAM

So let me immediately start out by saying that Courtney Cox’s hairdresser completely screwed up her hair. Gale is this hot, tenacious reporter with very few qualms. Then she’s back here, and she is all those things but that fringe. Plus her wardrobe. Okay, there was just a lot appearance-wise that was just not working for her in this. Goodness. It was like a horror movie all on its own!

This one certainly lacked the charm of the previous two. I appreciated what was being done here, though I was not a big fan of everything being “the movies” and “on set”. It was gimmicky and didn’t work for very long. Scream 3 is certainly the flimsiest of the lot – the story is absolutely ridiculous, but what saves this is the consistency – seriously, the story, the actors reprising their roles, the humour, Sidney still wearing Derek’s necklace, it all works so well in keeping this movie afloat more so than it would otherwise have worked.

Randy Meeks got a little cameo, which was cool.

Neve Campbell truly is fantastic as Sidney, and she is one of my all time favourite horror movie heroines. She just won’t make anything easy for anyone and stands her ground. She is afraid, but she is also sick and tired of all the bullshit. Much love man, much love.

scream 3 it's your turn to scream

The “romance” of the phone calls has been lost, there are calls, but more often than not, like the last, it is more about slashing and killing than anything else. Scream 3 totally delivers on the gore and all, but yeah, there was just something missing.

scream 3 bodyguard attack

Totally stoked to see Gale and Dewey back at it again – this is a romance I will always love. It is just so silly and it works.

Parker Posey irritates the ever-loving crap out of me always, and this movie was no exception. Aside from the silly story, I think she is the main culprit as to why this movie is not a little higher in my esteem, though I still enjoy it. She is grating, annoying, loud, ridiculous, and just all round grating. I don’t ever find her to be an asset or a selling point in a cast.

scream 3 i'm the killer

Anyway, Scream 3 is still fun, though definitely a decline after the other two, but miles ahead of most horror/shasher sequels. The reasoning and explanations get pretty fucking thin (har har) here, but it still entertains nonetheless, and the consistency of these movies elevates it. Much fun.

CHOP SCREAM

Scream 3! The last one! Bangs! Like I’ve said before, I’m not really familiar with these things, but I did find myself laughing a few times in this. Was this supposed to be more of a horror comedy? Or was this supposed to be a horror and the new writer through in some laughs? I know all three of these have aimed to poke fun at themselves for being a horror movie, sequel, etc but this one was kind of funny. Mostly with these two:

I’ve NEVER been a fan of Parker Posey but for some reason I liked her in this. She’s kind of…. dumb but hangs in there. When her and Bangs start screaming and running around with their arms flailing in the air, I liked it. LOL They also had some of the better lines. I liked it when Cox was tied up, off screen and she yells, “SHOOT THE FUCKER!”

I also see Jenny McCarthy’s in here. Obviously for her very good acting skills.

Plus, she really just screams purple!

The keen eye will also notice Emily Mortimer’s décolletage – look at me using fancy words!

I remember when this guy was popular as a kid – before JB was even born. Then he was popular again on that TV show which I never understood. My bad, I guess. Nice hair, bro.

So someone else has a hood and a mask and a knife and a voice altering device. He or she is going around stabbing people and throwing them through glass doors. While this one was bloodier and décolletage-ier, I thought this was pretty flimsy. Like – there’s this one scene where Campbell is running away from the ghost face guy and she opens this door on a movie set and almost falls to her death but then, when she pushes ghosty out the door he falls onto a bed that wasn’t there three seconds before.

Or, during the big climax-explain-why-hes-doing-all-of-this scene, he’s talking to her for several minutes in the killer voice but he’s not even holding the voice modulator to his mouth… because he can’t…. because he’s wearing a fucking mask! Plus, the whole reasons why this person decided to mass murder all of these people in cold blood was kind of stupid. It was kind of the cinematic rendering of this:

Meanwhile, not only were there Creed posters on the wall of the movie-set’s house, there were Creed songs played over the credits. So, speaking of asses:

Anthony Scott Stapp. Get it?? A.S.S. Get it???? HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAAH I fucking crack myself up. I’ve already watched number 4 by now so I can say – YUM

Review: 99 Red Balloons – Elisabeth Carpenter

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared… – via Goodreads

I don’t know. This book. I really thought it was going to be so more than it ultimately was, and so many people raved about it. I should have known from early on it wasn’t going to be my jam. I just felt it in my bones, and yet I foolishly soldiered on. The completist in me. Pfffffff.

Right off the bat, the characters. Oh. My. Gosh. I resented them all. The only one that was nice was Jim, the only one I didn’t mind reading about. It also didn’t help at all that none of the characters ever had their own voice. Which is frustrating as hell because every chapter is from someone else’s perspective, and the only person you can distinctly pick out from the pages is Maggie. This was really maddening. Like really, really frustrating. Not liking any of the characters didn’t help at all, because I couldn’t give a damn about their situation, the present, the past, nothing, and this book is all about that.

I was also not a fan of the writing – it was really stinted and didn’t flow nicely. The story gets told, but it comes across as erratic, and the plot twist that comes along later is not delivered super smoothly at all, it is something you sort of wonder about, especially with the plot device that the author is deliberately trying to shove down your throat, so insistently that eventually you are wondering if she would be so bold as to be so honest.

I did not appreciate the chapter division – like the perspective from a multitude of characters. This style can work for some books, but it didn’t really work here, and I think that is primarily because the characters all ran into each other, there were no major differences between them, and it was hard to keep track of who was who as they all sounded the same. Also, all the characters being equally messed up, selfish and overall meh contributed toward this. 99 Red Balloons also felt like it was going around and around in circles, not really going anywhere – it felt like an awfully long read. I feel it could have been a lot shorter than it ultimately was.

Anyway, I don’t think I need to state the obvious that I wasn’t bowled over by this. Seems a lot of people liked it, but it just didn’t work for me. Not the worst book I read this year, but it was really generic for me at the end of the day. I would say skip, but that is just me.

Review: I Know Where She Is – S.B. Caves

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: On the tenth anniversary of her daughter Autumn’s abduction, Francine receives an anonymous note containing just five words: I KNOW WHERE SHE IS

When a young woman approaches her the next day claiming to have sent the letter Francine wants to dismiss it as a cruel, twisted joke.

But the stranger knows things that only Autumn would know.

It soon becomes clear that Francine must go to dark places in order to learn the truth about her child’s kidnapping.

She will discover that danger comes from unexpected sources. She will do things she never imagined herself capable of.

But will Francine get her daughter back – or is it too late? – via Goodreads

You know, I picked this out a while ago, but never got to it. I recently decided to give it a go, and I had just finished Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life, and drew so many parallels between this fictitious world and her horrible experience. Not because I was supposed to, but Dugard’s story was so fresh in my mind, the concept of snatched kids returning after all that time, hence the link for me, I suppose, because they aren’t really alike aside from that.

Right off, I would like to say that there are absolutely no likeable characters in this book. Francine, our main peanut and perpetually grieving mother, is just… meh. I understood the concept of her, and I felt for her, but this does not mean that I had to like her. And I didn’t. Next up in her permanently exasperated husband. Sure, another character I understood and felt for, but again didn’t like. Not to mention all the other characters peppered throughout this novel, none of them with actual stories, none of them real characters, but there to move the story along. While that was hollow at times, it also served the purpose really well that the only two characters who actually really meant anything were Autumn and her mother, for better or worse.

I think the concept was decent, and you know, nobody wants to think of the ugly world we live in, and that some seriously sick, nasty stuff really does happen. This book hits on that, but there are a lot of things that remain vague and never detail out, and are never explored in more depth. For instance, the pregnant girls, where the babies go, who raises them, how much more of this could possibly go on, how extensive it is, how the cops are involved but nobody is saying anything – so many loose ends. Still, you are drawn in and the story hooks you pretty early on.

I Know Where She Is wasted no time in getting started and barrelled along throughout the time I read it. It was also a quick read, and I think the flow of it helped a lot for that, too, and it quite well written. Even with its flaws, it is an engaging read, one you would like to know what happens, and what has happened, although you might not get the most satisfactory answers in those quests. But the story is good, Autumn is the only decent character, and it all comes together alright. I see that many people enjoyed this more than I did, but I think it might just have been the fact that I expected more from the conspiracy and brutality of it all, and a more well thought-out read than was ultimately delivered. Still, not a bad read, especially if you want something fast that has dark sections to it.

JB & The Chop Do: Scream 2 (1997)

JB & THE CHOP SCREAM

“A year after running over a fisherman and dumping his body in the water, four friends reconvene when Julie receives a frightening letter telling her that their crime was seen. While pursuing who he thinks is responsible for the letter, Barry is run over by a man with a meat hook. The bloodletting only increases from there, as the killer with the hook continues to stalk Julie, Helen and Ray.”

Oh wait…. WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH????

scream 2 poster

SYNOPSIS: Two years after the first series of murders, a new psychopath dons the Ghostface costume and a new string of killings begins. – via IMDB

CHOP SCREAM

For The Good Reader / Zutsonian with a keen eye (it seems paying attention these days is something a lot of people aren’t fond of) the team-up for the first Scream we put out was drafted over two years ago. Since then, I have spent over a year in a foreign land, living in a hotel and eating shit food until a few months ago when things started calming down and I was able to get a laptop back in action. Note: I am NOT fucking patient or OCD free enough to try and do posts on a tablet or phone. Anyway, since time is still precious, my entry here will probably be written in two parts before it goes live, so here’s Part One.

“A guy can’t even take a fucking piss….” that’s actually a quote from Angel Heart (maybe not [sic]) and it may or may not apply here but, I thought it was laughable that these two fellows were off pissing in their ROBES and MASKS setting up the first kill.

  1. As a male, normally, you have to be able to handle the thing that releases the pee – which is why the Benevolent Creator (as it is, whatever you believe in) allowed humans to invent the slit in the front of the pants or, at least, a tie string so we can drop them and let go #zippers
  2. The male human has to be able to see the thing that releases the pee in order to aim or else you fucking piss all over the floor and, likely, your fucking feet. Despite the fact that these people can somehow see through the ‘ghostface’ masks and run around all over the place, they probably really can’t and just befouled the floor and their shoes
  3.  True story that no one will get: about 25 years ago I was at a St Patrick’s Day event at a local bar and went to piss. If you’re not familiar with urinals, you should educate yourself but I was having a good, solid, beer infused whizz, looked over and a popular sports celebrity was peeing next to me. I smiled, stabilized my drunken self, and I noticed was peeing all over his leg. #fuckingclassy #calegundy

Watching this, It’s not so fucking 90s as I remember the first one being but it’s weird seeing a bunch of these folks so young and skinny. I’m a huge fan of Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber), Timothy Olyphant (you name it), Portia de Rossi (married to Ellen DeGeneres) (or was, that could have changed since I paid attention) but what I thought was the most funny thing, Rebecca Gayheart… I remember when I was a kid, having the hots for her in her OxyClean or Noxzema face cleaning ointment commercials. That picture, while digital, is probably older than JB.

Up next: Part 2:

Speaking of Timothy Olyphant, I see he’s wearing some sort of shirt and has a visible sleeveless undershirt on underneath it. I’ve never understood this. My lifelong understanding of wearing an undershirt was to prevent your armpit sweat from showing or staining your good shirt you have on to impress people. What’s the fucking point of not covering your armpits? Why wear two sets of shirts for no reason. I guess, if these things aren’t popular overseas, here’s what I’m talking about:

Jeez, nice thighs, man. The movie? I think I liked it more than the first. I liked the new cast better and it was “less 90s”. Plus there was some Foo Fighters in there. You can’t go wrong with a little Foo. It was basically the same story as the first, with more blood – which is something they talk about early on in “Film Study”. Now let’s pass the mic over to JB. Oh, since I know JB loves GIFs, I better include one.

JB SCREAM

Sequels aren’t usually that good, we all know that. It is a topic that this sequel harps on about, and it is  actually successful. For one, I still had an absolute blast with this movie, how conscious it is of the type of film it is, how it mocks and taunts again, even after having done all those things. Scream 2 manages to pull it off. Hell, it even has a (really) brief glimpse of Joshua Jackson in it, so there aren’t complaints for me – except maybe that it could have been more Joshua Jackson????? I need eye candy too!

Screw it, I will provide my own… just the one, I swear…

Anyway, let’s get to the movie. Super big fan of having Dewey back, and watching him argue and snipe at Gale is adorable. Seriously, I absolutely love watching these two together. It is sweet and it is seriously funny, too! David Arquette and Courtney Cox have fantastic chemistry. Sidney Prescott is back and kicking some major ass again, not to mention Gale laying down the law, too. There are a lot of throwbacks to the first movie here, but it all works. Scream 2 knows what it is and apologetically rolls with it.

Now, on to… *drum roll*

THE UNFORGIVABLE DEATH OF RANDY MEEKS

This! Fuck! Why?! This still rankles. I get why it would happen (do I really???). Doesn’t mean I gotta like it. And I don’t. I hatessssss it!

In Randy’s words, “Fuuuuuuuuuck yoooooou.”

scream 2 randy

Gale develops quite a bit more in this one, which is good. She’s still a bitch, but Gale is fantastic. Cotton Weary plays a bigger role in this one, but I still don’t like the damn creep. Icky, icky, icky.

We get tons of blood, tons of fun, tons of chases and tension and games, and plenty to quote. I thoroughly enjoy the humour in Scream, it just gels with me. In short, Scream 2 delivers everything you could want from a sequel.

Okay, this is the last one. I swear.

Review: The Collector – Nora Roberts

SYNOPSIS: When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .

Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . .  – via Goodreads

Psssssssh, let’s talk about The Collector. This is hands down one of the most forgettable books I have ever read. In my life. If you need further proof, Natasha (who has read damn near all of Nora Roberts’s work and remembers 99% of it) cannot for her life recall having read this, even though she freaking reviewed it! This has been a source of amusement for us for quite some time now.

Okay, now moving along from the best part of this book (which is having a real laugh with my bestie about how ridiculously forgettable this read is), there is nothing else to really redeem it. Seriously, it is not like you pick up a Roberts novel expecting a super thrill or to find the meaning of life, they are good for light entertainment, but this book is so lazy it is unforgivable. I promise you, the plot if beyond preposterous, the writing is just messy, let’s not forget the array of generic, bland characters crammed into the book, and ultimately a super lacklustre romance makes for a bland read. I think when I saw the title, I was thinking blood and guts and bone and gore. Probably because I read The Bone Collector shortly before this one, possibly also because I read too much icky stuff to think like an art collector :/ Judge me, whatever.

Bland, and frustrating at times. My biggest frustration is, of course, Lila, our main peanut. For one, she is grating. Really. She just irritated me, and then there is Ash, who is just as frustrating, and when they get together, it is super trying on the soul. Consent, as always, is an issue here. He snaps his fingers, she must obey. He wants, he gets. Yap, yap, yap. The men are always such control freaks in Nora Roberts’s books, and it is not sexy. It also annoys me how the women are always “strong and independent” until a man rolls up and then suddenly she is a damsel. Something that really worked on my last nerve is that Ash has a troubled relationship with his father. That is between them. Instead, when his father is being a real piece of work and Ash has calmly decided it is up to his father to be nice or piss off, that nuisance Lila speaks up and condemns Ash for his decision. People that get all involved in family drama they know nothing about and judge harshly should just shut the fuck up. What do you even really know about the situation?

Another thing that made me cringe is Lila’s constant obsession with money. She was so vocal about it, and it was awkward. Like shut up! I don’t want to read about those things, because it came across as embarrassing/preachy, instead of a fact of the character. Argh. Also a pity how much Russian history could have been worked with here and been so much more thrilling, but it wasn’t. I suppose one thing to be happy about is that this luckily is not one of Roberts’s fuck fest novels, so there is that.

The Collector is a wasted affair, and so lacklustre and empty. It feels like a filler and reads like one, too. It also really, truly won’t stay with you after the fact, and the sloppy, generic writing is an awful flaw here. At least it is a quick read…