My Top Ten Books Read In 2018

I’ll be posting all my 2018 Year End Top Ten Lists the rest of this week. I’m starting off with My Top Ten Books (And Short Stories) Read In 2018. I even managed to review them all, making this a very quick & easy post! Links to the reviews are below.

And as always, my “Top Tens” are often full lists of all I’ve seen, read, etc. I read 19 stories so I’ve ranked all 19. Here we go!

Nineteen – Eleven

19. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – 2.5/5
18. You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames – 3/5
17. Every Day by David Levithan – 3/5
16. Odd Hours by Dean Koontz – 3/5
15. Laurie by Stephen King – 3/5
14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – 3/5
13. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby – 3/5
12. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera – 3/5
11. The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James – 3/5

Top Ten

10. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon – 3/5
9. The Outsider by Stephen King – 3/5
8. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz – 3.5/10
7. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – 4/5
6. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 4/5
5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – 4/5
4. Bird Box by Josh Malerman – 4/5
3. Strange Weather by Joe Hill: Stories 1 & 2, Stories 3 & 4 – 4/5
2. Ghastle And Yule by Josh Malerman – 4.5/5
1. The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe – 4.5/5

See you tomorrow with My Ranked Blind Spot Movies Of 2018. 🙂

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Love, Simon (2018) Review 

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Bryson Pitts, Nye Reynolds, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Skye Mowbray, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Drew Starkey, Clark Moore, Joey Pollari, Mackenzie Lintz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

My Opinion:

I recently read the YA novel this movie is based on (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – review HERE). I enjoyed the book and would say it’s one of the better YA romances I’ve read recently so was looking forward to seeing how well they did with the movie adaptation (even though romance isn’t really my thing). I have to say that this is one of the rare occasions where the movie is possibly slightly better than the book. It’s close.

They did change quite a few details from the book, which doesn’t always work for people who want to see the story in the exact same way. For example: They added more humor to the movie (a lot of this via a vice principal who didn’t exist in the novel) and Simon has only one instead of two sisters. The changes don’t negatively affect the overall story, though. Simon still feels like the same character from the book and the romance still works well. Actually, Simon feels a little more “real” in the film. His internal struggle is also somehow more apparent and believable in the movie. I think Nick Robinson has done a good job with Simon as it’s not often that a movie character feels slightly more fleshed out than the book character. His family also feel closer in the movie and I liked that they spent plenty of time focusing on his relationship with his them as well as with his friends.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good teen book and/or movie. If you’re a reader, I definitely recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. There are enough changes that it’s worth knowing both stories. Overall, the film is slightly better and the characters feel more realistic but I far prefer the ending in the book. I’ll of course avoid spoilers but the film adds a little too much drama to a final scene, making me prefer the more likely scenario in the book. This scene was the only time the film felt a little false, though. Overall, the topic is handled very well. The movie uses humor and sensitivity and thankfully never goes over the top on drama. Being from the John Hughes generation, I can’t say I’m going to be able to fully relate to a modern teen movie but I’m glad that current teens have films like Love, Simon. It’s a good film with enjoyable characters and I’m sure it’ll be a favorite for many current teens. Judging by its 8.1 rating on IMDb, it seems to be a favorite already.

My Rating: 7/10

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli & Every Day by David Levithan (Book Reviews)

I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!

My Rating: 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan

This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.

My Rating: 3/5

Here are the trailers for the movies:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2018

I didn’t manage to see many movies in the cinema in March and most that I watched at home were meh. But I did love I, Tonya! And Ready Player One was fun. I’ll do mini-reviews below for the ones I haven’t reviewed yet…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

I, Tonya – 8/10
Ready Player One – 8/10
Game Night – 7.5/10
Annihilation6.5/10
Atonement – 6/10


MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

I, Tonya – 8/10

Ready Player One – 8/10

Game Night – 7.5/10

Personal Shopper – I liked this although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I’m not a fan of Kristen Stewart so wasn’t planning on watching this until reading that it had a supernatural twist. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.” It’s an odd mix of mystery, supernatural, indie, and Kristen Stewart nudity. Not as supernatural as I was hoping but a decent story that kept me interested. – 7/10

Hidden Figures – Finally catching up on more of last year’s Oscar nominees! This is a fantastic story that I fully admit to knowing nothing about before the movie was made. It’s the type of movie I wish there was more of now that my kid is the right sort of age for these things: inspirational people & true stories in a family-friendly format. However, it still comes across as a little bit too much of a phony feelgood Hollywood movie. The story is important & I’m glad that more is now known about these women. Even though the whole “running miles to the segregated bathroom each day” was mostly bullshit. The three main performances were strong (I especially liked Janelle Monáe – I’d like to see her in more films). It’s worth watching, especially with your kids. But be sure to look into the real women as well since, to be expected, Hollywood changed things and amalgamated characters to make more drama than actually existed within the NASA environment. – 7/10

Annihilation6.5/10

The Seven Year Itch – I decided to check out more of Billy Wilder & Marilyn Monroe after thoroughly enjoying Some Like It Hot (my mini-review is HERE). The Seven Year Itch hasn’t aged nearly as well. I know it was a different time & I always keep this in mind when watching older films but this one really feels out of place now with the “all men are simple idiots who can’t help themselves around beautiful women” trope. But I do think Monroe was truly iconic and, although her naïve sexy blonde thing also feels out of place today, there’s no denying a certain likability there despite what I suspect was an ability to only play one type of character (but I know I need to watch more than just two of her movies to see if that was the case). Monroe is the true star of this film while the “tempted male” (Tom Ewell), who talks outloud to himself through the whole film, is quite annoying. I do wonder if I’d feel this way if he’d been played by someone like Jack Lemmon, who may have made the character much more likable & funny. Thanks to Wilder there’s still some sharp writing, though, and it’s worth watching for some very iconic Monroe scenes (including the one with the famous white dress being blown up by the subway grate). What’s interesting is that the scene is nothing like the pictures you’ve seen where you see all of her: you only see shots of her legs & her face separately. Sadly, I read this bit of trivia at IMDb, which adds a terrible twist to that scene: “Not without a distinct ring of irony, the nine-month Marilyn Monroe-Joe DiMaggio marriage officially ended during this shoot. DiMaggio was furious about the filming of the scene where his wife’s dress blows up, and the next day, Monroe reportedly required make-up to cover up bruises from the ensuing domestic fight. Three weeks later, she filed for divorce.” Horrible. But I think it’s well known that, despite being one of the most famous sex symbols of all time, it didn’t bring Monroe much happiness. – 7/10

Tickled – This is a documentary investigating a bizarre practice called “Competitive Endurance Tickling”. The filmmaker, David Farrier, discovered videos online of late teen/twentysomething males tickling tied-up males. It seemed strange but fairly innocent until he decided to look into things further for his documentary. The story takes a very sinister turn when he discovers that these young men were blackmailed and threatened over the videos. He then starts receiving very disturbing threats as he gets deeper into the story and the true indentity of the person behind the videos & harassment. This is certainly one of the more odd & intriguing documentaries I’ve seen & I do recommend it if you like a weird story. It reminded me a bit of Catfish (2010) in that both are so unbelievable that they almost feel staged. But I don’t think this was – it just needs to be seen to be believed. (This probably deserves a higher rating but I’m not a huge fan of documentaries & tend to rate them lower). – 6.5/10

Teen Witch – Hahaha! Oh. Wow. This is BAD. I’m not sure how I managed to miss out on a teen movie back in 1989 but, for some reason, this one passed me by. I’m giving it a decent rating, however, as it’s so bad that it almost achieves that “so bad it’s good” status. Not in a Road House kind of way (which is so bad it’s AWESOME) but the many silly bits are quite entertaining. It’s hard to pick a favorite part but the “I Like Boys” dance routine in the locker room was pretty fucking hilarious – I’ve put that video at the end of this post if you want a laugh. And if you like 80’s cheese, you should definitely watch Teen Witch. To be fair, I think it knows it’s cheesy… – 6/10

Table 19 – I didn’t know beforehand who’d written this story (Mark & Jay Duplass). Ugh, those mumblecore guys. I’m not really a fan of that subgenre. But Table 19 isn’t a mumblecore film, FYI (though I’m not sure why since it mostly fits the definition – maybe it’s excluded since some stuff actually happens in this movie). Here’s the Wikipedia definition if you don’t know what I’m talking about & link to list of films: “Mumblecore is a subgenre of independent film characterized by naturalistic acting and dialogue (often improvised), low-budget film production, an emphasis on dialogue over plot, and a focus on the personal relationships of people in their 20s and 30s.” Looking at that, though, I see that I do like some of the mumblegore movies (mumblecore in the horror genre). Mostly the Ti West films such as The House Of The Devil but I can definitely see how those got the mumblegore label. Who wants to watch millennials sitting around & whining about their lives for two hours while never actually doing anything?! I just realized what mumblecore is… It’s all those whiny bitches I try to avoid on social media! No thanks. Oops – I’m meant to be talking about Table 19. It’s borderline mumblecore and it did take me a while to get into it but I liked that it went in a direction I wasn’t expecting. It gets more serious than it first seems it’s going to be and I ended up not hating Anna Kendrick like you may at first because of her behavior at the beginning. It’s an okay film but just be aware of the writers beforehand and know that you’re not going to be getting too much of a plot. Wow – I really doubt I’ve talked anyone into watching this. It’s not bad. It’s an interesting assortment of characters and I ended up liking those played by Kendrick, Stephen Merchant & especially June Squibb. – 6/10

Free Fire – This was my first Ben Wheatley film and… Meh. It looks like some of his other films are considered mumblegore so I guess that tells me that I may not be a fan. I thought the story and characters were okay but it’s really just Tarantino-light. It’s a boring version of Reservoir Dogs without the witty banter. The hubby hated it & fell asleep after moaning about the terrible editing or something (I don’t notice that sort of thing) but I kept watching as it kept me slightly interested. But only slightly. Maybe Wheatley’s other (non-mumble) movies are better? – 6/10

The Levelling – I saw a review really praising this when it came out last year & liked the sound of if. IMDb synopsis: “Somerset, October 2014. When Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) receives a call telling her that her younger brother Harry (Joe Blakemore) is dead, she must return to her family farm and face the man she hasn’t spoken to in years: her father Aubrey (David Troughton).” Boring indie drama. Complete waste of my time although I suppose there were some okay performances. Sorry – this just isn’t my type of thing at all but it may work for others who enjoy dark & dreary dramas in which very little happens. And it’s so grey & wet & rainy & muddy – I get enough of that in real-life England. Screw that. – 5/10

It Comes At Night – Another 2017 movie that I was wanting to see ASAP due to its rave reviews at the time. WTF?! I was bored out of my damn mind! I’m starting to truly believe that IMDb is being filled with fake reviews written by the studios. This has a 78 out of 100 metascore?! Fuck off! Nothing happens in this but, to be fair, there’s more of a plot than the mumblegore stuff. The performances are good, especially from Joel Edgerton’s son in the movie (Kelvin Harrison Jr). But. But. Ugh. I don’t know. If someone here did like this, I’d genuinely be interested to hear why. Because maybe I’m missing something since, for a horror, it has a decent IMDb user rating as well (6.2). I’m really annoyed with the shitty movies I wasted time on in March. I have too many other things to do. – 4.5/10

Demolition Man – Wow. This movie is absolutely dreadful. Like Teen Witch, this one passed me by for some reason even though I was just out of high school & watching this kind of crap. I’m actually shocked at how bad it is. Not “so bad it’s good”. Just plain BAD. I thought I’d finally be watching some kick ass 90’s action flick like Speed or something (a good Sandra Bullock movie!). I had no idea this was a cheesy “comedy”. Not gonna lie, though – I fell asleep. I saw maybe 40 minutes. In five years of blogging, I’ve forced myself to finish every movie I watch no matter how shitty. No more! I don’t have the time. This movie broke me. I can’t continue. I just can’t. – Not Rated As I Refuse To Finish It

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – This book was pretty great! I’d never ever heard of this series until seeing the movie adaptation listed on IMDb, currently scheduled for a December 2018 release. Here’s the synopsis: “Many years after the “Sixty Minute War,” cities survive a now desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.” Cities on wheels “eating” smaller cities. That’s nuts! I love the concept. And in this first book, the focus is on the city of London. The movie appears to have Peter Jackson involvement and will be directed by someone who did the visual effects for a lot of his films (Christian Rivers). I’m really looking forward to the movie. If done right, it could be great. As for the book, I’ll try to do a separate full review of it before the movie. It’s a “kids book” but aimed at the same sort of age range as Harry Potter. It’s one of the more entertaining books I’ve read in a while. – 4/5

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) comes out in UK cinemas this Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me! – 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan – Again, this is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines, I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though. – 3/5

Annnnnd…. I’m still in the middle of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King. I’ll finish it someday!

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Grey’s Anatomy – It’s shit.

The Walking Dead – It’s even more shit than Grey’s Anatomy.

I seriously need to get back onto the Black Mirrors. Or find some reruns of The Golden Girls or something! TV sucks now.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Again, not much! I just plan to review my monthly Blind Spot movie (Citizen Kane or Enter The Dragon) & any films I see in the cinema.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

A Quiet Place – Ohhh – a horror movie with excellent reviews?! I’m super excited for this & will try to go to it this weekend. However, It Comes At Night also had great reviews & it was shit. So who knows! Horror is very subjective.

Love, Simon – Definitely going to this as well as I really enjoyed the book.

Thoroughbreds – This looks interesting. Kind of Heathers-like maybe?? (But of course nothing can top that). May try to catch this one and try to not be upset at yet again seeing Anton Yelchin in a movie (RIP – I really liked him).

I Kill Giants – Liked the sound of this but some are saying it’s too similar to and not nearly as good as A Monster Calls.

Ghost Stories – Supernatural short stories?? SO my type of thing! But since reviews are now meh, I may wait for Netflix.

Wonderstruck – Based on a book by the same guy who wrote Hugo, which I loved as a movie. Wondering if it’s a good family movie to take the kid to…

Tully – Diablo Cody & Jason Reitman? I’m, like, the exact target audience for this. I’m very likely to check this out. I loved Juno.

Every Day – As I said above, the book is okay but the movie has meh reviews so far. I’ll watch it but may wait for Netflix.

Wildling – What IS this?! Another horror movie with fantastic reviews?!?! Liv Tyler & Brad Dourif????? I’m extremely curious about this one!

Avengers: Infinity War – Yeah. I’ll go to it. Of course. But I’m bored with superheroes. I’ll mainly be watching it for sexy Thor and all the Guardians Of The Galaxy characters! THOSE I love.

Will Wait To Watch On Netflix If I Can Be Arsed With These:
The Hurricane Heist, Rampage, Truth Or Dare, The Titan, The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society

Now, here’s a small taste of what you’ll experience if you ever watch Teen Witch: 😉