This is my final 2018 Year End List. This one is really annoying as so many good 2017 US films got released in the UK in early 2018. But it’s a huge pain in the ass to try to adjust this list each year according to the US release dates so, once again, I’ve based this list on the UK cinema release dates.
It was an okay year for films but pretty disappointing overall. I certainly won’t have any all-time favorites from 2018 (although I think number 1 was entertaining as hell, number 2 was pretty damn fantastic & number 3 was certainly unique).
So here are My Top Ten 2018 Movie Releases (based on UK release date). Oh, and I saw a shitload so I’ll actually count down from 30. I’ve listed the rest I’ve seen at the end…
I’ll do one more post sometime next week with my 2019 Blind Spot Choices. I’m then going to take a bit of a blog break (but I’ll catch up on replying to comments first!). Sorry I’ve fallen behind on that again.
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…
• 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
• 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: 😉
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.
Where do I start?? I really enjoyed this film and, yes, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t realize so many people had a problem with the book until reading Twitter these past few months. What the fuck was with all the backlash?! Fucking hell, people. Get a grip. It’s a fun, harmless story that was written for nerds obsessed with 80’s pop culture. Not your kind of thing? Fine. Don’t read the book or watch the movie. Maybe just shut the fuck up and let people reminisce if that’s what makes them happy? I really enjoy Twitter but the self-righteous bullshit is very hard to handle sometimes.
Okay – I’m clearly in a bad mood! I’ll just talk about the movie now. If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, be aware that there are loads of changes. This normally bothers me but I kind of liked it this time. I felt like I was watching a whole new story involving the same characters and it was entertaining to watch & not already know what was going to happen every step of the way. I kind of feel like there are two completely separate Ready Player One stories now and both are enjoyable. I’ll stay spoiler free so won’t go into any details but the biggest things changed (completely!) are the challenges involved in finding each key. Being a big film fan, I loved one of these new challenges and I’m very glad that bit stayed a surprise for me. So try to avoid spoilers and watch this soon if you’re a pop culture nerd like me.
I’ll say this, though – the movie doesn’t stay as true to the “EIGHTIES!!!!” thing as the book. I understand this will have been done to please a more general movie audience but it’s kind of a shame. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still shitloads of 80’s pop culture but it’s not as in-your-face as the book. Which is good in some ways but I still feel that the 80’s kids are being a tiny bit cheated with the film version. And the movie goes more “movie nerd” than “game nerd”, which is definitely more my kind of thing so I’m not complaining. But I think the lovers of classic video games may be a little disappointed at them having a far smaller part in the film.
I’m still trying to sort my thoughts out on this movie. I know this is one where I really should wait a while before writing about it… Is it going to be an all-time favorite Spielberg movie of mine? Probably not but he has so many great ones that it would be hard for him to ever top his classic films. I did do my Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies HERE and I can say that Ready Player One wouldn’t make it onto that list. But I’ll post an updated list sometime and it will probably make it into the ten since I’d count the Indiana Jones (trilogy!!) as one on my own blog.
Sorry – I know I’ve said very little in this “review”. I’m having to keep things short on the blog lately due to lack of time. Plus I think it’s important to avoid spoilers for this one, making it hard to discuss. Plus… I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed having a new Spielberg sci-fi thrill ride of a film. It was a lot of fun to watch and I’d forgotten it was 2 hours & 20 minutes long as it didn’t feel that way since there’s always so much going on. The characters, though changed slightly, are done as well as they need to be to keep the audience interested in their story and I think Spielberg improved things by focusing even more on their friendship.
Overall, the changes made for the movie were mostly improvements on what I realize isn’t exactly classic American literature. Yes, Spielberg “has done it again!”. I love Spielberg and I love him returning to this style of sci-fi. However, like the 80’s pop culture the story wishes to emulate, this movie will always just feel like a tribute to Spielberg’s best films as opposed to actually being one of his best. I really enjoyed Ready Player One, I’ll definitely watch it again, and I’ll buy it as soon as it’s released on DVD. But I’d still rather watch a genuine classic film from the Eighties instead.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Is There A Scene After The Credits?: No, there’s nothing during or after the credits.
After watching Warcraft: The Beginning last week, I started thinking about other movies based on video games. I thought Warcraft wasn’t too bad (as far as these adaptations go) and thought it may actually be one of the better ones.
For this, I worked off the list of video game movie adaptations at Wikipedia. It turns out that I’ve seen hardly any (Warcraft, Silent Hill, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider & Alone In The Dark). That’s it! And, wow – other than Warcraft, those movies are absolute shit. In fact, Alone In The Dark was so bad that a bunch of us bloggers watched it at the same time while trashing it in the Comments section for Shitfest at The IPC (you can check that post out HERE – it was good fun!). Therefore, I can now officially declare that Warcraft: The Beginning is the best film based on a video game that I’ve seen!
So what the heck is this top ten all about? At the above Wikipedia link, there’s another section entitled “Films With Plots Centered On Video Games“. Yes! There are some great movies in this section! Why is it that movies in which video games play a big part are often so good but it seems that no one can turn an actual video game into a decent movie?
I admit to being lazy this time & working only off the Wikipedia list but their lists are never complete. If you can think of other video game based movies, let me know. As always, though, my Top Tens only contain movies that I’ve actually seen. I’m hoping that once Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s awesome Ready Player One comes out that it’ll be a very high addition to this list. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am for that one – I absolutely loved that book & Spielberg is the perfect choice to be directing it! 🙂
Okay – here are My Top Ten Movies With Plots Centered On Video Games (counting down to my favorite):
10. Pixels Ugh! What a huge disappointment this was but I have to see more video game movies before I can knock this off the list…
I have somehow so far avoided having the kid drag me to this one. 🙂
– Arcade & Brainscan
For years I was slightly obsessed with finding a mid-90’s movie I saw part of in which teens were being killed inside a video game. Some kind people on this blog informed me that it sounded like Brainscan. Thank you, kind people! But I’m now thinking it may actually be the movie Arcade. Hmm! I have to track both these movies down to know for sure…
– The FP
Speaking of movie obsessions, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with wanting to watch this 2011 movie ever since I heard about it. Here’s the synopsis from IMDB:
In a post apocalyptic future, two rival gangs fight for control of Frazier Park by playing “Beat Beat Revelation”, a deadly version of Dance, Dance, Revolution(TM).
Are you shitting me?! That sounds like the best bad movie EVER! But I don’t think it became some big cult classic so maybe it’s not as goodbad as it sounds. But I still badly want to see it.
Happy New Year, everyone! Wow – I’ve read a record 14 books in 2015! (That’s a lot for me. Hey, I’m a movie blogger – not a book blogger). 🙂
I’m really bad about getting around to doing book reviews so I’ve only reviewed a few of these (I’ve included links to the full reviews I have done). For the remainder, I figured I’d just do some very short mini-reviews right here right now. And, as my regulars know, my Top Ten lists rarely contain ten things so it seemed stupid to ignore four books when I’ve only read 14.
So here are My Top Ten (14…) Books Read In 2015, counting down to my favorite:
14. The Gospel According To Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright
I believe this is what they call “chick lit”? Which isn’t very “me” but my hubby picked this up for me based on the title since he knows I’m a fan of Drew Barrymore. I thought that was very sweet & thoughful of him! 🙂 Anyway, I really liked the concept. Through flashbacks, we watch the relationship develop between two (40ish?) best friends. They’re very different from one another but we see how they bonded over Drew Barrymore movies at various points in their lives (such as E.T. & Poison Ivy). Unfortunately, the book just isn’t very good. I didn’t like one of the women and the Drew Barrymore gimmick really did feel like nothing more than a gimmick – the references to her felt awkward & forced. It was a good idea but without that gimmick, you’re left with two characters I really didn’t give a crap about. My Rating: 2/5
13. Florence & Giles by John Harding
I grabbed this from the library as I’d been wanting to read it for a while based on The Times quote on the front cover: “Imagine The Turn Of The Screw reworked by Edgar Allan Poe”. It sounded like it would be all gothic & atmospheric but it was pretty disappointing. A young girl in the late 1800s must protect her younger brother from a sinister & otherworldly new governess after the mysterious death of the previous woman who cared for them. The girl (and narrator if I remember correctly??) isn’t allowed to read but teaches herself & reads loads of books in secret. It’s caused her to develop a strange sort of language of her own and having to read the book with all her odd words took some getting used to (and was slightly annoying). The girl also isn’t that easy to like and the book is extremely slow until finally picking up in the final half. It was a good story but not a very fun read. I actually think it could make for a great film if the right people were involved. My Rating: 2.5/5
12. The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer
My favorite books to read are always horror, sci-fi or fantasy (which will be obvious when we get to the top of my list) but I do try to sometimes read bestsellers or ones that have awards slapped on their covers (like this one) which are probably bullshit half the time anyway. This is an example of a book that was pretty good and plenty of people probably liked it but, like the previous book, it just didn’t really work for me. Oh! I also judge books by their covers and this has a good one. And I was intrigued by the back cover (which I’ve grabbed here from Goodreads): “I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.” See? Sounds interesting. This is a book where you’ll easily find out what it’s about if you read anything whatsoever about it but if you like knowing nothing other than what’s on the back cover, skip over this next part. SPOILER: This book is about mental illness (schizophrenia) and told from the viewpoint of the young adult (Matt) who is suffering from it. It’s a fairly unique book & I’d recommend it if it sounds to you like one you’d like. I have to say it’s actually a better book than my next two choices but, as always, I rank mainly by my level of enjoyment & I found myself not really wanting to pick this one up much so it took me quite a long time to finish. My Rating: 3/5
I admit to enjoying Young Adult books, especially as the current trend seems to be YA books that are dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic. I love dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic! I don’t normally do it this way around but I saw The Maze Runner movie first and I liked it so decided to read the books. Well, I’ve read the first two so far and will continue in order to see how they end but I’ve certainly read far better YA books. I also get the feeling that the story is going nowhere plus the author has a strange writing style that many people don’t seem to like. I’ve reviewed this & The Scorch Trials in full if you want to click on the links. My Rating: 2.5/5
This & The Maze Runner are pretty interchangeable but I suppose I’ve put this higher as reading it was a bit more enjoyable since I didn’t see the movie first so didn’t know what would happen. Meh. Yeah. Again, not the greatest book… I just like the overall concept, which is why I’m continuing with the series. My Rating: 2.5/5
9. The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Not to be all snobby as I certainly don’t read many “worthy” classics or anything but this looked like one of those supermarket books you see old ladies reading on the bus. Well, I suppose it kind of is but, screw it, I AM an old lady on a bus! The basic story is simple: Retired Harold Fry decides to make a pilgrimage by foot across most of England to visit an old work colleague & friend named Queenie, who has written him to say that she is dying. It was a slow read to start but I was fairly hooked as Harold got closer & closer to reaching his destination. As you may expect, Harold goes on a “journey of self-discovery” during his long walk and this was the best thing about the book and was handled quite well. Something becomes obvious pretty early on but it made me want to keep reading to find out exactly what happened & how. My Rating: 3/5
8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I’ve just finished this book and I can see why some people have told me that they really loved it. I wanted to like it a little more than I did. I’ll say that Zusak did a great job developing some rich characters that I very much cared about. Liesel, a young girl in WWII Germany, is the central character and I liked her strong will. Even better, though, were the characters Liesel loved most (her foster parents and best friend plus two other important characters I won’t mention to avoid any spoilers). Unfortunately, despite some great characters, I felt something that I can’t quite put my finger on was “missing” from this book. I think the problem was that it was narrated by Death (as in, The Grim Reaper). It’s a better “gimmick” than the Drew Barrymore thing above and I didn’t mind it at first but, in the end, I think it actually got in the way of what was a good enough story without any gimmicks. Also, the ending felt rather abrupt & rushed after this long journey that we’ve just gone on with all these characters (it’s a pretty thick book). It was a good book & I’m interested in seeing the movie now but I wish it was higher on this list. My Rating: 3.5/5
7. Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin
This is the second (of two!) graphic novels that I’ve read (the other being Watchmen). Wait – is this a graphic novel? It’s more of a collection of several comics… I think?? Is there a difference? This sort of thing is something I have NO knowledge in but I have to say that I did enjoy Tank Girl. She’s a cool character and I really appreciated the (inappropriate) humor (it took me a while to read it all as I had to keep putting it away someplace where my young daughter wouldn’t grab it). I mean, Tank Girl has sex with a kangaroo. Whaaaat? It’s pretty damn bizarre but it’s fun and I was entertained. I suppose I should watch the horrible-looking movie that doesn’t appear to resemble the comic much now? Or… Should I not?? My Rating: 3.5/5
I read my first two Joe Hill books this year & I have to say that, so far, I may end up almost liking his work as much as his dad’s. This one seems to be a favorite but I enjoyed the other book more and found that I didn’t really care that much about the characters in this. But it’s a good & very original story. You can read my full review at the above link. My Rating: 4/5
5. Revival by Stephen King
Stephen King is and always will be my favorite author so I’m going to put a book of his fairly high on any list. I’ve not yet reviewed this one but I will try to do a full review soon as it’s a King book so I’ll keep this short. For now I’ll say that this isn’t one of his best (it probably ranks somewhere in the lower middle for me if I were to do a list of all the King books I’ve read). I find that I’m quite often a little disappointed with how King’s books end and this one has the same problem of starting out great but then kind of fizzling out at the end. I’ll say that King once again draws a very detailed picture of small town American life which I can always relate to in his books and what makes me love his work so much. I was very much drawn into this small town where a young boy and tragic preacher reside. I just wish these two main characters had remained as interesting in the second half of the book as they grew older (the book spans many years). Well, I enjoyed it anyway – read it if you love King. I enjoyed it more than his son’s NOS4A2 but will admit that Hill’s book was probably a little better than this one. My Rating: 3.5/5
I suppose Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 is a slightly better book than Revival and also Horns but I read this one first & actually enjoyed it the most of this father/son trio that I read this year. It’s weird, especially as it gets to the end, and not everyone would like it but it was quite refreshing to read something so totally unique & unpredictable. You can read my full double review of this and NOS4A2 at the above link. My Rating: 4/5
3. Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin
This is the first and only George R.R. Martin book I’ve ever read and I loved it! I got the Game Of Thrones book last Christmas but haven’t yet had the energy to embark on that massive journey so when a woman I work with brought in a bunch of books that she was getting rid of, I was excited to see this standalone Martin book so I could see what his work was like. I can only compare this to the Game Of Thrones TV show but I’d have to say it’s quite different from that. This is sci-fi comedy! I’ve read very few books in this genre but one happens to be my all-time favorite book (The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) so this one was perfect for me and I enjoyed it immensely. I suppose I also owe this one a full-length review at some point… I’ll just say that, although Martin’s books are clearly popular, I had no idea of what a great writer this guy really is and it has me definitely wanting to read more of his stuff. I’ll also admit this: I’m a casual reader & clearly like light & easy entertainment. My vocabulary is limited (as evidenced by my so-called “reviews” 😉 ) and I’ve never had to look up so many words for their definitions while reading a book as I did while reading this. (Not tons, maybe six or seven words). But that’s awesome – I don’t have to do that with my YA books! This guy truly has a great way with words and his characters (especially Tuf) felt so alive. And it was actually funny! After watching Game Of Thrones, full of so much tragic death, I wasn’t sure what to expect of a sci-fi comedy from the same author. Plus the story itself had me hooked. Loved it. Can anyone recommend any of his other work? My Rating: 4.5/5
I can’t believe I never had a chance to watch this film considering how much I loved the book! Oh well – I’ll catch it at some point. I did at least review this book in full so I can keep this short. I guess I really do love my sci-fi comedies (although this is more sci-fi than comedy but I loved the central character’s amazing sense of humor). I find very few books to be perfect (I’m almost always disappointed with the endings) but I really can’t fault this one in any way other than it ending too abruptly. But I suppose that’s because I was enjoying it so much. The Martian is easily now an all-time favorite of mine and I highly recommend it. My Rating: 5/5
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’m so disappointed in myself for not getting around to reviewing this yet even though it’s the very first book I read after receiving it for Christmas last year. Thanks to anyone who has actually read this (really long & rambling) post! I’m sorry to do this to you now at my number one but I’m not going to say much about this one. Yet. It deserves a full-length review from me as it’s my favorite book in a very long time & nothing could be more “ME“! This was written for Eighties-loving geeks like me by an Eighties-loving geek and I absolutely adored it. I had so much fun reading this one. I hope the movie does it justice! My Rating: 5/5