Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2018

Happy June, everyone! As always, I’m behind on my blog. I’m annoyed that I didn’t see Deadpool 2 in May (but I’ve seen it now – I’ll review it soon). And I didn’t manage to review my Blind Spot movie in May (Enter The Dragon) so I might post two Blind Spot reviews in June. Or not. Life is too busy! But you gotta put life first. 🙂 Here’s the crap I watched & read in May…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Solo: A Star Wars Story – 8/10
Tully – 7.5/10
Rampage – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

War For The Planet Of The Apes – LOVED this. Wasn’t happy that I missed out on seeing this in the cinema last year but things were too hectic for me when it was out. If I’d seen it, it easily would’ve made My Top Ten Movies Of 2017. I’d put it in either 3rd or 4th place – I can’t decide if it would be above Blade Runner 2049 or not. Oh, by the way, I’d also add Colossal to that Top Ten now too and I recommend that if you’ve not seen it. But back to the apes! How great are those apes?! Who ever would’ve thought that they could look SO damn good?? I mean, I’m still a fan of the original 1968 film but this reboot has been amazing, especially in the development of these characters. The ape characters, of course. Love them. It’s funny how we can care so much more about them than we can about most human characters in movies nowadays. Anyway – I don’t need to ramble on forever. I missed this at the time but am so glad I’ve finally caught up. This has easily been one of the most satisfying reboots ever and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these films. But I hope they end it here – it would make for the perfect ending plus Hollywood needs to learn to quit while ahead. – 8.5/10

Solo: A Star Wars Story – 8/10

Metropolis – This is a Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full soon. It’s a gorgeous film. – 8/10

The Theory Of Everything – I’m happy that I finally watched this as well. I gotta be honest – Eddie Redmayne annoys me for some reason so that may be why I didn’t rush to see this. But, damn, he earned that Oscar! He was brilliant in this film. I’m sorry, Eddie Redmayne! I was also equally impressed by Felicity Jones – it’s a shame she didn’t get an Oscar as well but at least she was nominated. Jane Hawking came across as an incredibly strong woman in this movie so it’s a shame I think the role was overshadowed. I’ll be honest again and say that I didn’t know much about the life of Stephen Hawking, especially his personal life, so I found this film fascinating. I don’t normally like many “true stories” based on real people but this film was fantastic. Stephen & Jane Hawking led an amazing life. R.I.P. Stephen Hawking. – 8/10

A Monster Calls – I read this book last year (it just made it into My Top Ten Books Of 2017). I never got around to reviewing the book but thought it was a great pre-teen to young adult novel showing a different way of handling grief. What the boy goes through with his mother’s cancer felt very real & heartbreaking. The idea for the story was conceived by Siobhan Dowd while she had cancer. She died before she could write it, so it was written by Patrick Ness. This probably helped add to the grief feeling so real in the book. As for the movie, it’s a great adaptation & very faithful to the book. I loved the look of the film (also true to the illustrated version of the book that I read). Felicity Jones (again!) is very good as the mother, the boy (Lewis MacDougall) is great in a very difficult role, and Sigourney Weaver, um, sounds weird as hell with an English accent. And the dad is a useless fuckwit (same as in the book). The movie is so faithful that you could probably just watch the movie if you really don’t want to read the book. But I recommend at least one or the other. Be sure to have tissues… – 7.5/10

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – I don’t know why I’m on a Marilyn Monroe kick but this is the third movie of hers that I’ve watched in the past several months. I always wanted to check this one out since, not gonna lie, I loved Madonna’s Material Girl video. Wow – she really did do an almost exact copy of Marilyn’s performance in this film. It was fun finally watching that scene in full. Of the three films I’ve seen so far, Marilyn played the “dumb blonde” and I don’t know if she did much beyond that sort of character but, hell, it worked. I thought I might find her a little annoying (sorry!) but she’s likable in a very innocent yet shrewd sort of way. Monroe herself wasn’t dumb in the slightest – she used what worked for her and, yes, I can see her appeal. Personality-wise, though, I’d have to say that I’d personally choose to be more like Jane Russell’s character in this. She’s the very definition of SASSY! I don’t watch enough old films so I think this is the first thing I’ve seen her in. I especially loved how she lusted over the male Olympians (I loved that song & dance number – I’ll stick it at the end of this post). Together, Russell & Monroe made a great team in this with their very different, yet determined, personalities. And this is probably the best I’ve seen from Monroe – I think Russell helped bring out the best in her here. I think I have a weird sort of girl crush on the combo of the two of them. I still like Some Like It Hot the most but far preferred Gentleman Prefer Blondes to The Seven Year Itch, which is dated in a somewhat uncomfortable way that doesn’t really work now. All three have outdated values but, screw it, who cares? These movies were made in a very different time. Monroe and Russell are very sexy but also very strong women in this one. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is just a really fun film. Movies are rarely fun anymore. – 7.5/10

Tully – 7.5/10

Everything, Everything – This is another book that I read last year and liked a heck of a lot. But it’s sooooo “Young Adult romance” and definitely not for everyone. Again, this is a pretty faithful adaptation but the book did a better job of capturing the likable personality of Madeline, who suffers from “severe combined immunodeficiency” and hasn’t been able to leave her house for 18 years. This becomes complicated when she falls for the boy who has just moved in next door. Amandla Stenberg is perfect as Madeline, though. Hey – she was Rue in The Hunger Games! When did she grow up? She’s adorable. The boy she falls for is played by Nick Robinson from Love, Simon. He was good as well but the movie tells you very little about him. Anyway. I really liked the book and this adaptation but you won’t like this one unless you’re into YA romances. – 7/10

Atomic Blonde – This was fine but a bit disappointing. I feel similar to how I felt about The Hitman’s Bodyguard – it has a lot of big movie stars who did well in a weak film. Charlize Theron was great – tough & sexy & had me wondering how I would look in a blonde wig just like hers (I’d look shit – I’m not Charlize Theron). This is set in 1989 so I loved the soundtrack but the movie does try too hard to look “cool”. But it’s still a good-looking film and I totally wanted to be Charlize (without all the “getting beat to shit” stuff). I had fun with it and enjoyed it more than The Hitman’s Bodyguard. This is from one of the same directors as John Wick and it’s basically John Wick but with boobs and a far weaker storyline. – 6.5/10

Shane – I watched this because this is the film they watched in Logan. Seriously – I’m weird like that. I’m always interested in looking into the films showing within films. This is a full-on old Western and not even one of those cool Leone Spaghetti Westerns so it’s not my favorite sort of genre and I’m certainly no expert. But it’s a very good film with some gorgeous cinematography and Shane is a really cool tough dude who stands up for what’s right. It’s a timeless story & totally deserves a much higher rating than I’m giving it. But the Leone films are much more my thing if I’m going to make myself watch Westerns. – 6.5/10

Rampage – 6.5/10

Carnival Of Souls (1962) – I’ve wanted to see this for years (FYI – it’s on Amazon Prime UK). Mainly because of the title: CARNIVAL OF SOULS!!! Seriously – that’s an awesome title. The movie itself? Low budget and extremely slow-paced. I love the idea of the story, though, and can see that this probably influenced many later horror films such as Romero’s brilliant Night Of The Living Dead. There’s some great stuff going on in this movie, including creepy & atmospheric organ music and zombielike people who seem to be after the main character’s soul following her car accident. I want to give this a higher rating. It deserves higher. I may up my rating at some point… I do think it’s worthy of its cult status and that all film lovers, especially horror film lovers, should see it. But it IS very slow. The story is dragged out for too long but, to be fair, the ending won’t have been blatantly obvious in 1962. This film was probably a bit of a shock back then! But it could’ve made for a kick ass half-hour episode of The Twilight Zone instead. – 6.5/10

Going In Style – I watched this as it seemed like a nice, lightweight film starring three actors that I really like. Oh, shit – one of them is in trouble now. Dammit. Am I allowed to talk about this movie now? At this rate, I’m going to have to delete half my blog’s old Top Ten lists involving male actors (I’d never do that – I don’t believe in erasing the past). Anyway, this film was fine but a bit meh. It’s one of those that I enjoyed well enough while watching but will barely remember in a year. It relies too much on its big name stars, who all did well and were likable as always but the story is a bit weak. – 6/10

The Space Between Us -The same again – a bit meh. Disappointing as I really loved the plot synopsis on IMDb: “The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.” It was okay. I liked the story but they somehow managed to make it into a very bland film. I like all the actors in it and am not really sure where it all went wrong. Oh well. I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time – I just wanted it to be better. – 6/10

Goodnight Mommy – Another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like this one. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential. – 5.5/10

Annabelle: Creation – Ugh. I trashed the first movie HERE. The first film was ridiculous and couldn’t have been more cliché. At first, it seemed that this one was going to be much better. Oh, hell no! It’s even worse. I think it made me appreciate the first film more, even with all its overused horror tropes. Those things are overused because they sometimes work. This sequel probably could have used a little more of that. I dunno. I think what annoys me with modern horror films such as these, besides the predictability and stupid jump scares and lack of originality or good storytelling, is the filmmakers’ obvious hatred for the characters. The characters are only there to die. So why would I give a shit about what happens? In that case, I’d rather watch silly 80’s slashers which had a sense of fun. We need at least one person to root for/to possibly survive/to not be possessed. I mean, we do have a nice group of young girls I wanted to like but they got so little character development. And a tragic beginning turns a sweet couple into “creepy people who act strange”. It doesn’t end well in this film for people who don’t deserve to suffer (sorry if that’s spoiler-y). And, okay, maybe I don’t like sweet young girls turning into psychotic demons. Well, maybe in a good movie. Actually, I like demonic kids – The Omen is awesome… Never mind. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. This movie just sucked. – 4.5/10

Re-Watch: Stardust – Watched this with the kid and she loved it. She adores The Princess Bride (since she has awesome taste like her mother) so I figured she’d enjoy this as well. Not that this is nearly as good as The Princess Bride! But nothing is… – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Me & my YA novels! What can I say? They’re simple reads and some are pretty good. This is one of the pretty good ones. It’s yet again another romance but the characters feel real & truly in love despite being so different. Plus, it’s set in the 80s and they talk about lots of music that I like so that was a big plus for me (I’m so old). The story is pretty straightforward but the characters make this a really enjoyable read. – 4/5

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James – This was an odd one. I love sci-if so was intrigued by this synopsis at Goodreads: “Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . ” This is, I guess, what would fall under the YA definition again? But only because it involves a teenage girl. And it’s not a romance in the way it sounds in the synopsis. It’s hard to describe this without spoilers but this gets pretty intense at the end and I have to say it was a real page-turner as I took it everywhere with me as I was eager to find out how it would end. I liked the way we learn about these chatacters through e-mails that they aren’t able to reply to until months later. And the thought of being alone in space has always intrigued me/freaked me out. But I’m not sure how I feel about the direction the book takes at the end. It would make for a good movie & I liked the story but I’m not sure this “YA sci-fi romance drama thriller” quite worked. – 3/5

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – I’ve now read all of Flynn’s novels and I think she’s a very good & entertaining writer, especially as I’m not usually into the crime thriller type of genre. Gone Girl drove me a bit crazy with its hateful characters but it was a damn good read. Sharp Objects, however, was so utterly twisted that it’s my favorite so far just because it was so bonkers. Dark Places was also a good read from Flynn but definitely my least favorite of her full-length novels so far. But that’s not saying it’s bad – it’s a twisty turny murder mystery that I’m sure any fans of this genre would like. It’s just not my favorite genre. And although everyone in it is truly fucked-up, I liked the even crazier Sharp Objects-level of fucked-up. – 3/5

Laurie by Stephen King – This was fine. A very short, not-full-on-horror type of King story. This was a freebie released by King as a precursor to his new novel, The Outsider. Can’t wait to get that! I adore King and try to read everything of his. If you like King too, you need to read Laurie. – 3/5

Currently Reading: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Just stupid Grey’s Anatomy. Still. For some reason. They almost killed off a main doctor character again. Such a dangerous hospital to work in!!! Boring season finale. Maybe they should’ve killed someone after all.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I’m not overly excited, though, to be honest. The last one was just okay. But I’m not a massive Jurassic Park fan beyond the very first film anyway.

Hereditary – This looks intense! And I always get excited by horrors that actually get really great reviews. This is the movie I’m most looking forward to this month. Can’t wait!

Ocean’s 8 – Looks like a bit of fun but I don’t expect much more than that.

Sicario 2: Soldado – I thought Sicario was fantastic despite it not being my type of genre at all. But different people are involved this time (no Villeneuve or Deakins!) so it’s hard to get overly excited about it.

May watch on Netflix:
Book Club, In The Fade, Adrift, Tag, Leave No Trace

Advertisements

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2018

Happy February! YES, January is over!!! (I hate January). And since movies cheer me up, I watched quite a few during the darkest & dreariest month of the year. Here’s what I watched…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED THIS MONTH (ranked best to worst):

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriMy Rating: 8/10
The French ConnectionMy Rating: 7.5/10
CocoMy Rating: 7.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED THIS MONTH (ranked best to worst):

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – I really liked this movie & it’s easily my favorite of Martin McDonagh’s films. It’s also my favorite of the three Best Picture nominees I’ve seen (this, Darkest Hour & Get Out) but I’m hoping to see a few more before the Oscars. My Rating: 8/10

Colossal – I actually kind of loved this movie. No, not kind of. I did love it. Not what I was expecting as Anne Hathaway annoys me! I’ve already posted My Top Ten Movies Of 2017 list so won’t amend it but Colossal would be in the Top Ten (I’d put it at 8 after Gerald’s Game & before Thor: Ragnarok). THIS is the type of movie that I want to see. Something truly original. I’m sooo sick of all the remakes & reboots & superheroes. I highly recommend this one to fellow bloggers who are sick of seeing the same old predictable shit all the time. My Rating: 8/10

Coco – I’ve already reviewed this so I’ll say it’s another lovely film by Pixar but sadly not my favorite from the brilliant studio. My Rating: 7.5/10

Citizen Kane – This is a 2018 Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full at some point. Hoped to love it more. My Rating: 7.5/10

Mudbound – Yikes. A hard watch. This is a Netflix original that I admit to only watching because it got some Oscar nominations. I’m not good with heavy dramas as I often find them too upsetting, especially if they’re true stories or something that could realistically have happened. The movie itself is just okay – I was very bored for the first half. But the characters and acting are very strong and I immediately loved the characters played by Garrett Hedlund & Jason Mitchell, two soldiers who become friends after returning home from WWII and have to deal with the extreme racism of the time. I knew it would all go to shit and I got very emotional & couldn’t watch the screen at one point (Sorry – trying to avoid spoilers but you’ll know when watching it that it’s all leading up to something bad). This is why I don’t watch many realistic dramas. I like to use movies as escapism from all the shit in the world. But I can say this movie certainly does its job in making you feel for these characters (as well as feeling an extreme hatred toward others – I was fucking angry). It’s worth watching for the performances as long as you know it’s a heavy drama but it’s slow going at first and is overlong. I was only really interested in the friendship forming between the two soldiers – the movie dragged when spending time on Jason Clarke’s & Carey Mulligan’s boring characters. My Rating: 7/10

Ghost In The Shell (2017) – I watched the original anime film last year as a Blind Spot movie (review HERE) and thought it was pretty damn fantastic. Of COURSE this doesn’t even come close to the original but, as far as dumbed-down Hollywood versions of classics go, I’ve seen far worse than this one. It had some great visuals (taken directly from the original) and was well-paced and entertaining in that braindead blockbuster type of way. It was disappointing that they dumbed it down, especially at the end as it started off fairly promising. But, hey – that’s Hollywood for you. Just please watch the original before watching this! My Rating: 6.5/10

The Big Sick – A solid film about a real couple with funny moments but far more drama than I was expecting. I was intrigued by the story (it’s quite an interesting relationship story!) but it was very slow to start and felt a little long. Well-written and worth a one-time watch. My Rating: 6.5/10

The Red Turtle – I’m a huge Studio Ghibli fan so was really looking forward to this co-Ghibli production. It’s a sweet & lovely film but, unlike my beloved Ghibli movies that I could watch over and over and over again (and have), The Red Turtle is a one-off watch for me. Kind of disapponting & a little bit slow. Sorry. I’m glad I finally saw it, though. My Rating: 6.5/10

Gleaming The Cube – Another Blind Spot choice (weird one, I know), I’ll review this in full at some point. My Rating: 6.5/10

Atonement – And another Blind Spot movie! I’m trying to get ahead. I’ll review this at some point too but I can tell you it was a massive disappointment. I kind of sort of hated it. My Rating: 6/10

Nymphomaniac: Vol I & Vol II – I have a slight fascination with Lars von Trier’s films although I don’t know if I can exactly they say that I’ve actually “liked” any of them. Maybe Melancholia. Nymphomaniac: Vol I & Vol II are by far my least favorites of his work that I’ve seen. I just didn’t see the point of these movies. To shock? I certainly didn’t give the slightest shit about any of the characters. If you want to see a film that’s a better exploration of sex addiction, watch Shame instead. And I’ve now seen waaaaaay more penises than I ever wanted to see. So, uh, thanks for that, von Trier. I guess. My Rating: 5/10

The Boss Baby – I watched this since it’s an Oscar nominee. Yes, this is the world we live in. Humanity deserves The Boss Baby. Because humanity sucks. Okay, The Boss Baby sucks but I’ve seen worse animated kids’ movies, which is a fucking scary statement. The Boss Baby is weird as shit but at least it’s, um, an original idea? I said something nice! My Rating: 4.5/10

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe – Why do I bother to watch modern horror movies when 90% of them suck? Like this one. I don’t know if I have the energy to again do horror movie reviews for all of October this year. If I do, I’ll review this piece of shit. For now, I’ll be nice again and say that at least this one also had a fairly original concept and going through the stages of the autopsy was kind of interesting. My Rating: 4.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

This month has been mega hectic so I’m still in the middle of the book I started in December: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & son Owen King. Enjoying it so far! It’s a thick book… I think my next one needs to be more lightweight. I’ll probably read A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle with my kid next in anticipation of the film adaptation in March.

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Black Mirror – Season 2, Episodes 2-4 (White Bear, The Waldo Moment, White Christmas. Season 3, Episodes 1-5 (Nosedive, Playtest, Shut Up And Dance, San Junipero, Men Against Fire) – Clearly, I’m working my way through the Black Mirrors so I’ve watched no other TV shows. One left to go then I can finally start season 4!

As I’ve watched so many and would like to discuss each episode, I’ll do a full Black Mirror post once I’ve seen them all. For now, San Junipero is my favorite episode. I’ll also say that I’m really enjoying the show as it’s right up my alley. However, I find it somewhat overrated. Being a big fan of the original Twilight Zone, I think that was a far more groundbreaking show. Black Mirror just adds a more modern twist to the exact same morality tales as were in The Twilight Zone. Anyway! As I love to rank stuff, here’s my ranking so far (from favorite to least favorite):

San Junipero
White Bear
Be Right Back
Nosedive
Fifteen Million Merits
White Christmas
Men Against Fire
Playtest
The National Anthem
The Waldo Moment
The Entire History Of You
Shut Up And Dance

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Oscars Shit!!!

It’s that time of year! It’s like the Super Bowl for movie nerds! I love/hate the Academy Awards. They’re absolute bullshit and the wrong things win all the time but, fuck it, I’ll probably always watch the stupid show. At least there was some excitement last year with the wrong winner being announced. Best thing to happen to the show in years!

I don’t have any huge blog plans for the Oscars as I’m taking it easy on blogging. I’ll probably just do a post choosing what I want to win & what I think will win for each category. However, I do plan to try to watch as many nominees as possible since most are coming out in the UK over this next month. I’ll review any more Oscar nominees that I watch. These are the nominees I’ve seen so far (not ranked! I’m slacking):

(Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Darkest Hour, Get Out, Mudbound, Logan, Coco, The Big Sick, Blade Runner: 2049, Baby Driver, Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Boss Baby, Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Lou, Garden Party)

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Loads that I want to see this month! I can’t wait! In order of release date…

Winchester – Er. Damn. Bad reviews so far! I’d really liked the sound of this. May wait for Netflix now.

Black Panther – I’ll watch it but, as I’ve said many times on this blog, I’m superheroed-out. I’m bored. But this looks promising.

The Shape Of Water – The one I’m most excited about. Finally! Out on Valentine’s Day here. This is one I won’t be missing.

Lady Bird – Another big nominee so will do my best to see this as well.

I, Tonya – I’ve always been fascinated by this fucked-up true story. Really looking forward to finally getting to see this.

Annihilation – I read this book last year and really liked it so can’t wait to see how they manage to make a movie out of it (it’s weird). But I don’t know what’s up with this. Apparently it’s “too intelligent” for the general public so they’re planning to now not release it in UK cinemas? WTF?!? Give the public some damn credit! Oh. Wait. This is the world in which The Boss Baby is an Oscar nominee. Never mind. 😉 Supposedly Annihilation will be released in the UK straight to Netflix instead….

I saw Darkest Hour over the weekend so will try to review that this week. Gary Oldman is freaking fantastic. Give him the Oscar!

Have a great February, everyone!

**Oh, holy shit! The new Cloverfield movie is on Netflix! I am SO watching that ASAFP!!!!!** 🙂

My Top Ten Books Read In 2017

I read quite a few books in 2017. Well, I read 27. Which is a lot for me as my focus is obviously on movies. A lot of what I read were books that I knew had movie adaptations coming out soon and I’ll probably try to do the same in 2018. I wasn’t great about reviewing all that I read but I’ll catch up on reviewing some of these before their movies come out.

So, counting down to my Top Ten, here are all the books that I read in 2017 ranked from my least favorite to my favorite:

27-21

27. Tape by Steven Camden
26. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
25. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
24. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
23. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
22. The Circle by Dave Eggers
21. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Top Twenty

20. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
19. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
18. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
17. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
16. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
15. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
14. The Dinner by Herman Koch
13. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
12. Blaze by Stephen King
11. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Top Ten

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

8. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

7. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

6. End Of Watch by Stephen King

5. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

4. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

3. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

2. The Fireman by Joe Hill

1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Currently Reading: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King.

See you tomorrow with my list of My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017 (movies released prior to 2017 in the UK). Then I’ll finish on Friday with My Top Ten 2017 Movies (based on UK release date).

October Horror Month Roundup & My Top Ten

Happy Halloween, everyone! This wraps up another year of October Horror Month for me, which always makes me a little sad (but also a little happy since I can go back to reviewing all sorts of genres instead of just horror). Until October 2018… 🙂

Ah, the horror genre. Between horror & comedy, I’d have to say we get the largest number of movies that are complete & utter shit. Very disappointing. I suppose part of the reason may be that they’re probably the cheapest types of movies to make but, also, people’s tastes vary so widely on these genres so only a small handful end up with praise & high ratings.

It felt like I reviewed only a couple of good horrors in 2016 & that the rest were dreadful. This year I’ve again seen some truly abysmal horrors but, overall, I lucked out and saw some really good ones. Yay! On this list of 32 movies: I loved numbers 1-4, I liked numbers 5-9 quite a lot, and I thought numbers 10-15 were fine & had fun with them. The rest were meh or awful. But 15 decent ones out of 32 is REALLY good for the horror genre! Oh, I should add that I cheated a little & threw a few “thrillers” in as well. 

So here’s my ranked list, counting down to My Top Ten Horror & Thriller Movies Watched For 2017 October Horror Month:

32. The Forest
31. Lifeforce
30. The Neon Demon
29. Poltergeist (2015)
28. The Girl On The Train
27. Byzantium
26. Only Lovers Left Alive

25. Cooties
24. 1922
23. Cell
22. Ghostbusters (2016)
21. Ouija: Origin Of Evil

Top Twenty:

20. Green Room
19. Mother!
18. Alien: Covenant
17. Split
16. Get Out

15. Monster Hunter (aka Dark Was The Night)
14. The Watcher In The Woods
13. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
12. Before I Wake
11. The Babysitter

Top Ten:

10. The Witch
9. Pontypool
8. The Wailing
7. The Gift
6. Coherence

5. The Final Girls
4. House (Hausu) (1977)
3. Gerald’s Game
2. Train To Busan
1. It (2017)

Phew. Horror Month is over! Now I can go watch something happy & fun. Any recommendations? 🙂

Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

Welcome to Day 3 of Stephen King Movies & Day 1 of Mike Flanagan Movies! I love King & recently did a Stephen King Week on my blog and last year I did a Mike Flanagan Week for October Horror Month. And now they’re together! How cool is that?!

The last two days I’ve posted reviews of It (2017), Cell & 1922. Today I’m reviewing Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of King’s Gerald’s Game. I’ll continue with Mike Flanagan movies the next few days with reviews of
Before I Wake, Ouija: Origin Of Evil, and reblogs of Absentia & Hush (but not Oculus, since I didn’t like that one so much). 😉

Let’s talk about Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Based on Gerald’s Game by Stephen King

Starring: Carla Gugino, Chiara Aurelia, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.

My Opinion:

I think I kind of loved this movie. Oh man, it makes me so happy when a Stephen King film adaptation is done well since there are quite a few dodgy ones. I did a ranked list of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (all 43 that I’ve seen) in September. I’ve just added Gerald’s Game & 1922 to that list. You can have a look at their placement if you want but I’ll say that 1922 is pretty low while Gerald’s Game is ranked much higher than I thought it would be before watching it. Maybe I enjoyed it so much since my expectations are usually quite low for King films?

I did read Gerald’s Game but it’s one I read years ago so didn’t remember all the smaller details. I prefer it that way – I remembered it as the movie unfolded but didn’t know beforehand some of what would happen. From what I remember of the book, I liked it fine but it was a bit long. That’s the genius of Stephen King, though – who else could write a full length novel where the main character is handcuffed to a bed for 95% of it?! For a 1 hour & 43 minute movie, it worked perfectly and I was gripped the entire time. I didn’t even mess around on my phone once during the whole thing! I only do that at home, FYI – People who use phones in cinemas are wankers.

The plot synopsis probably doesn’t sound all that appealing but it’s really a great psychological character study of someone facing their inner demons & with a far more feminist theme than I realized when I read the book years ago (I was probably too young). Or maybe the movie just does a great job getting its themes across? I do think this is easily one of the best King film adaptations as far as staying faithful to the book’s central idea and really bringing these characters to life. I know King doesn’t like some of the films (such as Kubrick’s The Shining) but I’d imagine he’s very happy with this one? As for Mike Flanagan movies, I’ve now watched all his biggest ones but I wouldn’t say I’ve absolutely loved any of them. Gerald’s Game is now my definite favorite of his. Way to go, Mike Flanagan! You’ve made a fantastic Stephen King movie.

I won’t go into the film’s story too much for anyone unfamiliar with it. If you’re planning on watching it, I think it would be best if you know nothing beforehand. I think this movie has been a pleasant surprise for those wondering how they’ve made an entire story of a woman stuck to a bed. I’ll talk about the acting instead. Carla Gugino is brilliant! I’ve liked her ever since that Son In Law movie she did with Pauly Shore. Haha! There goes my movie blog street cred. I’ve just said “Pauly Shore” on my blog! Seriously, though – this had to be a very tough role and she carries the whole film splendidly. Bruce Greenwood, whose role is bigger than you might think considering that he dies right away, does well with a character we can’t quite trust while Henry Thomas is creepy as f*^k (I’m trying to not connect this film in my mind to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial! Dammit – why did they have to make Elliott so creepy?!). The young girl, Chiara Aurelia, is also very strong. I remembered very little of her role & that backstory from the book. I really liked her character & her important connection to Gugino. Okay – I just looked into it & they made Aurelia’s role bigger in the film. Wise choice, Flanagan! Especially the ending bit involving her. I’ll say her story is a theme that upsets me and one that King addresses quite often but it’s very relevant at this point in time as it’s being openly discussed more than ever. For the film to come full circle in that way was a brilliant change to make. You know what? I think this may be one of those rare occasions where the movie is better than the book, at least based on what I’ve just read online of the “book to movie comparisons” in order to refresh my memory.

I do wonder if I should re-read this book as well as Dolores Claiborne, which came out the same year & which I now barely remember at all. I read this about Gerald’s Game at Wikipedia:

“Originally the book was intended to be a companion piece to King’s novel Dolores Claiborne, with the connecting theme of two women in crisis caught in the path of an eclipse, though this aspect was greatly reduced by the time the books were published.”

I can confirm this for King fans: there’s a Dolores Claiborne reference in the film as well as several other nods to other works by King. Thank you, Mike Flanagan! You know how to keep King fans happy. I loved the references. And I admit that I love when King does his “strong women” stories. I wonder why he so often revisits these sort of themes? He must have had some good female role models in his life. It’s not something I can say I even noticed when reading his books starting from the age of about 13 but it’s something I appreciate now as a grown-up (well, physically grown-up… maybe not mentally!). In fact, I don’t think it’s something I even gave much thought until after watching Gerald’s Game and noticing the Dolores Claiborne connection. It got me to thinking about other King stories involving strong women who often have to deal with various forms of abuse. A similar favorite of mine was Rose Madder, which doesn’t seem to get mentioned often. Lisey’s Story is another one I liked a lot that didn’t seem to be one of King’s more popular books. And I can think of quite a few King short stories, such as A Good Marriage, with the same themes & strong female characters. Yeah, I think I need to revisit Dolores Claiborne as I’d probably appreciate it more at my age now.

I obviously liked Gerald’s Game a lot. Is it perfect? I suppose it has its flaws plus I think the somewhat jarring ending, if you haven’t read the story, may not work for everyone as it sort of seems to be from out of left field. It probably worked better in the book (I think it’s difficult to put some of the weirder aspects of King’s stories on screen). Or maybe it didn’t work better in the book – it seems to be a contentious ending from what I read online. Either way, all the inner torment leading up to the finale was done perfectly by Flanagan & by Gugino. I must say that this is a King story I never really expected to be adapted and am pretty amazed that such a good film has come out of it. I’m not entirely sure how non-King fans would feel about it & I admit that I may be rating it slightly too highly since I’m a huge King fan. But good King movies make me so happy! Oh, and for the faint-hearted: prepare yourself for one big gross-out moment. Yiiiiikes. And I knew it was coming! But don’t let that scare you off – It’s just one small moment that’s part of a strong psychological horror movie that delves into some disturbing themes.

My Rating: 8/10

1922 (2017) Review

Welcome to Day 2 of Stephen King Movie Reviews! I already did a Stephen King Week back in September but, dammit, two more films have come out since so I couldn’t ignore them. I reblogged my reviews of It (2017) & Cell yesterday and tomorrow I’ll finish by reviewing Gerald’s Game. Today I’m talking about 1922

1922 (2017)

Directed by Zak Hilditch

Based on 1922 by Stephen King

Starring: Thomas Jane, Dylan Schmid, Molly Parker, Neal McDonough, Kaitlyn Bernard, Brian d’Arcy James

Music by Mike Patton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A simple yet proud rancher in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to participate.

My Opinion:

1922 is a novella in Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars. I love King’s short stories & novellas and did a list of My Top Ten Stephen King Books including a separate list of the story collections. In that list, I mentioned a few of the stories I liked or remembered the most from each collection and I see I put Full Dark, No Stars as my least favorite collection & I didn’t mention 1922. As I watched the movie, I realized that I did remember the story quite well – it’s just not a favorite of mine although it’s a well written piece of work. I feel the same way about the film adaptation: I don’t love the story & just couldn’t connect with it or with the characters but it’s a well made film with good performances.

I was happy to see Thomas Jane in yet another King film (I love The Mist). I can’t say I was able to connect with a male rancher in 1922 Nebraska plus he’s not exactly a likable guy what with the murdering of his wife & all that. I mean, she was an annoying bitch but, still, what a jerk. He also drags his sweet teenage son into the murder plot. My hubby also had a very hard time understanding the mumbly accent Jane put on but I wouldn’t say I had a problem with it. I reminded British hubby that Americans required part of Trainspotting to be subtitled. 😉



Stephen King loves rats. And corn.

I’d say that King often writes very rich characters but that wasn’t the case so much with this story. The movie did manage to improve on this a bit and I cared about what would happen to the son & his girlfriend (well, I already knew since I read the story but you know what I mean). The best scene in the movie involves the two young lovers. Other than that one scene, I think this is a movie that I won’t remember much years from now. Kind of like how I’d pretty much forgotten about the novella until watching the story unfold…

Don’t let me stop you from watching 1922. It’s a good film but set in a time period & a place that doesn’t really speak to me. It has a very slow pace, which I guess fits with the way of life of a 1922 farmer, but it made the film feel very long. In a way, it also sometimes doesn’t help when I already know the whole story. As the movie is slow & the characters are unlikable, my only reason for continuing to watch was because I always watch every King adaptation that I possibly can. 1922 is a faithful adaptation of a story that’s not a personal favorite of mine.

My Rating: 6/10


Stephen King also loves wells.

Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that Mike Patton did the score for this film. I’ve always liked Patton & am still a Faith No More fan. The score really annoyed the hubby – he didn’t think it fit the film’s time period and there were different styles that were a bit all over the place. I kind of liked it & thought it set the somber mood well at times but, yeah, I suppose some might find it a little messy & distracting. Let’s watch a Faith No More video! Midlife Crisis is probably still my favorite song of theirs…

Cell (2016) Review

Welcome to my final day of Stephen King Week. King turned 70 yesterday so I posted something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews (including 2017’s It), and two Top Ten lists (My Top Ten Stephen King Movies & My Top Ten Stephen King Books). Today I’m reviewing the film adaptation of his novel Cell.

Cell (2016)

Directed by Tod Williams

Based on Cell by Stephen King

Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Owen Teague, Clark Sarullo, Anthony Reynolds, Erin Elizabeth Burns, Stacy Keach

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England.

My Opinion:

Okay, what I’d heard about Cell is true: the movie isn’t good. However, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as its rating on things like IMDb (4.3 out of 10. Yikes). I’ll say that I quite liked the Stephen King book (it just makes it into My Top Ten Stephen King Books list) although it certainly doesn’t seem to be a favorite for most people. And it’s likely to drop out of my Top Ten over time as it’s admittedly not one of his best pieces of work. I’ve just always had a thing for anything at all post-apocalyptic and this story of a “zombie-like” plague of sorts is so my type of thing that I’m probably more forgiving of its flaws than I should be. Story: Good. Execution: Not so good.

The movie starts out okay. As always, things were changed from what I remember of the novel now but the overall story stays close enough. The problem with both the film and book, however, is that the story falls apart at the end. I like King when he’s at his most bizarre & supernatural but not everyone is going to buy into that sort of thing and this novel’s ending was one that was never going to translate well to film. On the written page, it’s easier to suspend disbelief & King has a way of writing which makes you accept some weird ass shit. On screen, it rarely works well. And it unfortunately didn’t work well for this movie.

I spent a long time reviewing It (the 2017 version) the other day as I liked that one a lot & I get all excited and chatty when I see a movie that I truly enjoy. Boring, predictable, poorly made movies just kind of suck my will to live and forcing myself to “review” them is a struggle. I’m sad to say that’s the way I feel about Cell. I can’t be bothered. It was only about three weeks ago that I watched this and I can barely remember the damn thing. I believe I got bored & started f*^king around on my (cell!) phone, meaning I certainly wasn’t giving this my full attention. At least I didn’t turn into a cell phone “zombie”. But aren’t we all cell phone zombies already anyway?!?! Hmmmmmm. Is that the moral of this story? You’d like to think so! But what could’ve been a thoughtful social commentary is nothing more than yet another zombie story.

I like both John Cusack & Samuel L. Jackson but I can’t say they were trying to win any acting Oscars for this one. 1408 is a better movie if you’re specifically wanting a King movie starring Cusack & Jackson. I remember liking the girl & young boy in the book (I’m too lazy to look up their names) but the movie manages to make us not give the slightest shit about the fate of any of these characters. Heck, the most enjoyment I got from this was seeing Stacy Keach as it reminded me of the last thing I saw him in: Class Of 1999a movie probably even worse than Cell, in which he looked like THIS…

What’s up with the banana? I don’t know. And I’m not sure what exactly made this movie so bad. I suppose it’s mainly due to the lack of decent character development. As I said in my It review on Wednesday, it’s the characters that really made that film so enjoyable. Horror movies are the worst for giving us underdeveloped characters. It IS possible to have a good story and good characters within the horror genre. Why are there so few??

Meh. Cell isn’t the worst horror movie I’ve seen but it’s just another forgettable one to add to the huge pile of bland films in this genre. Both the book & film are guilty of missing the opportunity to really say something about our smartphones destroying society & all that. But, to be fair, the book is over ten years old now so it’s already starting to feel a bit dated. If I remember correctly, you have to actually be talking on a phone to get the virus in this movie. I mean, who the hell actually uses their smartphone as a phone?!?! I’ve typed this entire review on my phone but I can’t remember the last time I talked into it other than to say “Hey Siri, I see a little silhouetto of a man!“. People don’t talk to each other. Social media is the opposite of social. That’s the problem. Oh well – not every movie has to have deeper meaning, I guess. I found the book a fun read. It’s too bad the movie isn’t a bit better. Oh, and I still f*^king love my cell phone. I just wish they’d changed the title to Mobile in the UK because it’s such a horrible title that it would’ve been kind of amusing.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Top Ten Stephen King Books

Happy Birthday to Stephen King, who turns 70 today!

Welcome to Day Four of Stephen King Week. I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews (including 2017’s It), and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m posting my list of My Top Ten Stephen King Books.

I love Stephen King’s books, which I’ve been reading ever since the age of about 12 when a friend let me borrow his Night Shift short story collection during study hall. I was immediately hooked. That version had the hand with the eyeballs on the cover (from the creepy short story I Am the Doorway):

It’s funny how the brain works: I remember the short stories in Night Shift as if I read them yesterday while I have trouble remembering some of King’s stuff that I read in later years. I suppose it’s a combination of it being a damn good book & the fact that we often seem to have a good memory for the things we loved in our formative years.

Anyway, I’ve always loved King’s short stories & novellas just as much as his full length novels so I don’t want to ignore the collections in this post. As they’d be too difficult to “rank” alongside one-story novels, my below list is a ranking of only King’s full-length fictional novels. But I’m going to talk a little about each of his short story collections at the end of this post too (Well, hell – there are ten so I suppose I can “rank” the collections as well. Oh I do love making lists!). 😉

First, here are My Top Ten Stephen King Full-Length Novels. As always, though, I’m doing a full ranking from least favorite to favorite book and I’ve read 37 in total. Here we go!

The Rest That I’ve Read

37. Dreamcatcher
36. The Regulators
35. Desperation (I honestly can’t remember which is which of The Regulators & Desperation – I barely remember either of them)
34. The Tommyknockers
33. Bag Of Bones
32. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
31. Dolores Claiborne (Could do with re-reading)

Top Thirty:

30. Finders Keepers
29. From A Buick 8
28. The Dark Half
27. Under The Dome
26. Blaze
25. Gerald’s Game
24. Thinner
23. Revival
22. Lisey’s Story
21. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

Top Twenty:

20. Duma Key
19. Doctor Sleep
18. Cujo
17. Insomnia
16. End Of Watch
15. Rose Madder
14. Misery
13. Pet Sematary
12. Needful Things
11. The Running Man

Top Ten:

10. 11/22/63

9. Cell (I know I have this too high & will probably change my mind over time. I’ll be reviewing the movie tomorrow so will talk a little about the book too.)

8. Joyland

7. Mr. Mercedes

6. The Long Walk

5. The Shining

4. It

3. The Green Mile

2. ‘Salem’s Lot

1. The Dead Zone

Need To Re-Read:

Rage & Roadwork (I don’t remember them at all) & The Stand. I must have read three quarters of The Stand in my twenties then got too busy in life & took so long to get back to it that I’d have to start from the beginning again. It’s… long! It was great so I still regret not finishing.

Not Read:

Carrie, Firestarter, Christine, Cycle Of The Werewolf, The Talisman, The Eyes Of The Dragon, The Dark Tower Series (other than Book 1), The Plant, Black House, The Colorado Kid, Sleeping Beauties (book coming soon)

Now here are My Top Ten Stephen King Short Story & Novella Collections (ranked from least favorite to favorite). I’ve included my favorite stories from each collection as well:

10. Full Dark, No Stars: Big Driver & A Good Marriage. It’s weird that I don’t remember this collection that well when it’s not that old. I liked A Good Marriage but somehow didn’t even remember I’d read it until I was halfway through watching the film

9. Everything’s Eventual: 1408 is the only story I really remember from this collection. It’s a good one (and decent movie adaptation, as well).

8. Hearts In Atlantis: The story Hearts In Atlantis was very good but I somehow don’t remember the slightest thing about the other stories in this book…

7. Just After Sunset: Willa, The Gingerbread Girl, Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, Graduation Afternoon. Looks like I remember quite a few, so obviously a pretty strong collection.

6. Skeleton Crew: The Mist (could do with re-reading), The Monkey, The Raft & The Jaunt (this last one haunts me to this day).

5. Four Past Midnight: The Langoliers, Secret Window Secret Garden & The Sun Dog (this creeped me the hell out). These stories were great but perhaps my absolute least favorite story of King’s is also in this book: The Library Policeman. Urgh.

4. Different Seasons: The book where only The Breathing Method didn’t become a movie because, seriously, that would NOT work as a film…! The Body became the brilliant Stand By Me, Apt Pupil was turned into an okay film, and it’s obvious what movie came from Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption. I worship that film. Is it time to confess that it’s the only story in this collection that I can’t bring myself to read as I love the film so much? There. I’ve admitted it.

3. Nightmares & Dreamscapes: The End Of The Whole Mess, Chattery Teeth, You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band, Sorry Right Number, Crouch End. Another really strong collection I remember well despite it being fairly old now. It might help that several of these were made into shorts for the TV series.

2. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams: The Dune, Ur, Under The Weather, Drunken Fireworks, Summer Thunder. A really recent book I was very happy with after King’s collections from more recent years have been a bit weak compared to his oldest stuff. And I reviewed every single story in full (I’m a nerd).

1. Night Shift: Jerusalem’s Lot, The Ledge, Children Of The Corn, The Last Rung On The Ladder. I love this book so much. My introduction to King & still possibly my favorite book overall. I think he writes fantastic short stories (as does his son Joe Hill, FYI – I highly recommend 20th Century Ghosts). Children Of The Corn is really good (I think it was a hard one to translate to film without it ending up as cheesy as it did). The Last Rung On The Ladder is heartbreaking and possibly the one that most got me hooked on his work (odd, considering it’s a non-horror). Actually, it was Last Rung as well as Jerusalem’s Lot that got me hooked. Jerusalem’s Lot is a story set in the same town as in Salem’s Lot, which I have very high on my novel list. I remember actually almost enjoying the shorter story even more. Sometimes less is more.

People skip these short stories & novellas sometimes but they really shouldn’t be ignored. I think there’s almost more skill to making a short story really good (which is why my posts are always too long. I’m no writer! Blah blah blah. I need to get to the point).

Phew. I think I’ve covered everything? I’ve read none of King’s Nonfiction but Danse Macabre does sound interesting.

It (2017) Review

Welcome to Day Three of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 tomorrow so I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m reviewing the recent It film.

It (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of seven children in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by the eponymous being, only to face their own personal demons in the process.

My Opinion:

Is it weird that I’m so happy that this film is kicking ass at the box office?? I just love it when one of King’s books actually gets a good film adaptation and, even better, when it gets a lot of really positive reviews. I did a list yesterday of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (this film was at number five if you don’t feel like clicking that link). I admitted in that list that, while I always watch & enjoy all adaptations of King’s work, some of the movies have been pretty damn awful. But then we occasionally get masterpieces like The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me to make up for the bad ones. It (the film – such a confusing title!) isn’t quite up there with the likes of those two but I’m very happy to say that it’s easily one of the better Stephen King movies of the many that have been made. Yes! I love when the movies do his novels justice.

You’ve all probably seen reviews by now that compare this to Stand By Me and that’s a very accurate description. Stand By Me with added horror, of course. Like that, this is a coming of age tale first and foremost and I’ve always loved a good coming of age tale. That’s why I’m actually a bit surprised that this film has done as well as it has as I can’t see it being loved by full-on “horror” fans. Pennywise the clown is a great creation but I have to say that I don’t find either this or the 1990 version scary. The book is a bit unsettling but I wouldn’t say that feeling fully translated to the films. I’ve never been one to get too scared by movies, though. As far as “creepy” goes, Kubrick’s The Shining certainly has this film (and pretty much every other horror film) beat. It’s a shame that King hates that adaptation – I think it’s one of the greatest horror films of all time.

I think the main difference between the 1990 It and the 2017 It is that Tim Curry’s Pennywise is the true star of the 1990 film while the kids are what make the 2017 version so good. I think this version has done things right in focusing more on the kids & their relationships with one another. I will always be fond of the 1990 film & prefer Curry’s Pennywise to Bill Skarsgård’s somewhat dull (and a little too funny-looking) Pennywise. It felt like Curry was truly having fun in the role & his Pennywise had far more personality. But… This story is about the kids. It’s about all kids who felt like “losers” when growing up. Pennywise shouldn’t really be stealing the show and I’m glad this version gets the balance right in making the kids the stars while also giving us just enough of the monster to keep the story interesting.

The kids all did a great job in this film. As has been said, It has a very Stranger Things feel to it. But of course it would since The Duffer Brothers wanted to make It but went on to instead make Stranger Things, which is meant to feel like King meets Spielberg. Plus It used one of the same actors from that show (Finn Wolfhard, who bizarrely looks like The Shining’s Shelley Duvall). I have to say that the girl playing Beverly (Sophia Lillis) was especially good. She’s like a young Amy Adams (which is a compliment as I love Adams). I’d be surprised if Lillis, as well as most of the rest of this young cast, doesn’t go on to become a big star. However, I’m so glad they AREN’T big stars yet as having a cast of relatively unknown actors was a huge plus for this movie (in my opinion, anyway). I loved not having the distraction of having seen them in a million other things.


I do have to admit that the time period this is set in (1989 into 1990) was another huge plus for me in a way that may not work as well for the current younger generation. Or maybe that doesn’t matter? I loved Stand By Me & 1990’s It even though those kids were living in the late 1950s. I suppose the coming of age dramas tend to transcend their time period as kids that age still go through all the same sort of emotions. Although I found it kind of hilarious/scary reading this article about how the film’s director had to start a “bicycle camp” to teach these pre/early teen actors how to ride bikes for the film(!!).

But oh how I loved seeing kids the same age as me in this movie’s ’89/’90 time period. Well, sort of… I was the age of the slightly older bullies back then. And, like the bullies, I was also a huge fan of Anthrax. Anthrax! There’s an Anthrax song in this movie!!! But I’ll come back to that at the end of this review – I just want to point out that I was more like the kids being bullied than the ones doing the bullying, even though I was a metalhead. 😉 And I had way too much fun seeing the movie marquees in the film’s background accurately portraying the movie releases of that time (god I’m a nerd). And I enjoyed the fact that I could almost hear a massive WHOOSH in the cinema as the New Kids On The Block jokes went right over the heads of those in the audience. Not that I liked NKOTB… Anthrax!!! Oh, and there are lots of fun Easter Eggs in this film so, if you’re a King fan, be on the lookout for them. And read the IMDb trivia for the movie afterwards – there’s loads of fascinating info there.

I think I should try to wrap this up now or I’ll just continue to ramble on for ages. I’m clearly very happy with this adaptation of a favorite book by my absolute favorite author. The kids are fantastic, their characters are likeable (so rare in horror movies), there’s some Anthrax (and a few other soundtrack gems I won’t mention to keep some surprises), there’s a creepy clown who isn’t quite as cool as Tim Curry but still does the job, there are Stephen King and 1989/1990 pop culture references, poor little brother Georgie is still a cutie pie, “that” controversial scene from the book is thankfully again left out of the film, Sophia Lillis has true star power, the kids are the stars instead of the clown, this sentence is really long, and last but not least: this movie doesn’t rely on cheap horror movie “jump scares”. That’s not to say there aren’t some jumpy moments but I was impressed with how well the horror was handled. I especially loved the slideshow scene, which references a fantastic King novella in Four Past Midnight that really gave me the creeps. It focuses on telling its story and on its characters then it focuses on the horror. That’s what makes this a good film instead of yet another bland & predictable horror movie with expendable characters. I can’t wait to see the next film now, which will feature the kids as adults. However, as with the scenes involving the grown-ups in the 1990 film, I think the second film won’t have the same kind of magic as this one. There’s a special sort of innocence in these coming of age films and the ones that really capture that feeling end up being all-time favorites for some people. I know Stand By Me was that way for me when I was growing up & I can see It being that way for a new generation.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Back to Anthrax, as promised**

As I said, I was a big Anthrax fan in my high school days and the fact that they had an Anthrax song & t-shirt in this movie filled me with such boring old-fart joy. I’ll assume they were used on purpose as they were always big fans of Stephen King and their songs so often referenced his work (such as The Stand in Among The Living & Misery in Misery Loves Company). I bet Anthrax are happy as f*%k that their song Antisocial is in a Stephen King film. And this was possibly my favorite song of theirs at the time, being the socially awkward misfit that I was (am). Anthrax!!! \m/ 🙂

My Top Ten Stephen King Movies

Welcome to Day Two of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 on Thursday so I’m going to post something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch, yesterday), two movie reviews (including the new It film tomorrow), and two Top Ten lists. Here’s my list of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies.

I love when Stephen King’s novels are made into movies, even though some of the films have been atrociously bad. But I do my best to watch every adaptation that I can, and… Holy shit – I’ve watched a lot. I think this is the longest list I’ve ever done since I now choose to rank everything that I’ve seen instead of just the top ten. Wait – I lie! My list of My Top “Ten” Best Picture Oscar Winners is slightly longer. But not much.

For this list, I’ve excluded TV shows & most straight-to-TV mini-series(es?!). I cheated & included It (1990) & Salem’s Lot (1979), however. They’re so good we’ll pretend they were theatrical releases (which they actually were in the UK, I think). Some others may have been TV – hard to remember. Enough faffing! Let’s start this countdown.

Here are My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (from least favorite to favorite & not judging on if they’re “loyal” to the book). I could do with re-watching a lot outside the top twenty so don’t take the order of those too seriously… 😉

**Edited October 22nd 2017 to add Gerald’s Game & 1922**

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

43. The Mangler
42. Sleepwalkers
41. TIE: The Lawnmower Man (WTF? Shares only the title.) & The Dark Tower (WTF? Also nothing like the book.)
40. Dolan’s Cadillac
39. Rose Red
38. The Night Flier (Don’t really remember this)
37. Sometimes They Come Back
36. Dreamcatcher (Why, Morgan?!)
35. Quicksilver Highway
34. Desperation (Also don’t really remember)
33. 1922
32. Cell
31. Storm Of The Century
30. A Good Marriage
29. Carrie (2013)
28. The Dark Half
27. Apt Pupil
26. Dolores Claiborne (Could do with re-watching)
25. Thinner
24. Secret Window
23. Needful Things
22. The Langoliers
21. Hearts In Atlantis (I need to re-watch this – it probably deserves to be higher)

Top Twenty:

20. Christine (Again, I could do with re-watching this)
19. 1408
18. Firestarter
17. Cujo (Although the complete change of ending was odd)
16. Maximum Overdrive (I like this more than I should. The soundtrack helps.)
15. Children Of The Corn (I like this. Not ashamed. Malachai!)
14. Creepshow 1 & 2 (I could do with re-watching. To be honest, I’m not sure which is which so stuck them together)
13. Misery (I know this should be higher)
12. Silver Bullet (I know this should be lower but, you know, it has one of the Two Coreys…)
11. Cat’s Eye

Top Ten:

10. TIE: The Running Man & Gerald’s Game

9. ‘Salem’s Lot

8. The Dead Zone

7. Pet Sematary

6. The Mist

5. TIE: It (1990) & It (2017) (In all honesty, the 2017 adaptation is the superior film but I’ll always have affection for the 1990 version and, of course, Tim Curry)

4. The Green Mile

3. Carrie

2. The Shining

1. TIE: Stand By Me & The Shawshank Redemption (Sorry. Don’t make me choose between them!)

Movies Not Seen:
Graveyard Shift, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, Children Of The Corn II through VIII & TV Movie, Sometimes They Come Back…Again & …For More, Trucks, The Rage: Carrie 2, Firestarter 2, Carrie (2002), The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer, Riding The Bullet, ‘Salem’s Lot (2004), Big Driver

TV Series/TV Movies:

Seen:
Golden Years, The Tommyknockers, The Stand, The Shining (1997), Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Haven (Saw most of. Stopped watching when it stopped being pretty damn good.)

Didn’t finish:
Under The Dome (Started. Stopped. Not bothered. Hated the book’s characters.), The Dead Zone (2002) (Saw most of this. Pretty good show. Need to finish.), 11.22.63 (Started. Just don’t have the time to devote to TV shows nowadays.)

Not Seen:
Bag Of Bones, Kingdom Hospital, Mr. Mercedes, The Mist (2017), Various short stories…

**I cannot WAIT for Castle Rock to start up as I adore King’s short stories & want to see more of them made! But it’s gonna air on this Hulu thingymabob so who the hell knows how/when/if I’ll ever see that in the UK… 😦

End Of Watch by Stephen King (Book Review)

Welcome to Stephen King Week! King turns 70 on Thursday so I’m going to post something King-related these next five days. One book review, two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists. Here’s my review of his novel End Of Watch.

End Of Watch by Stephen King (Part III of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the ‘Mercedes Massacre’ when a queue of people was run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield.

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways …

My Thoughts:

I previously reviewed the first two books in this trilogy: Mr. Mercedes (HERE) & Finders Keepers (HERE). The first book is still the best but I enjoyed this final book much more than the one in the middle, which didn’t feature enough of our main Mr. Mercedes characters. It was good to again have Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney & Jerome Robinson as the stars of this one. Oh, and Brady Hartsfield, of course. The wanker.

I love King most when he’s doing his “supernatural thing”. Give me the weird stuff! So Mr. Mercedes being a straightforward crime novel wasn’t really my type of thing. However, he developed these really enjoyable characters who work so well together and it was such a good story that Mr. Mercedes is fairly high up on my list of my favorite King books (But does it make it into the top ten? You’ll find out on Thursday when I rank all 47 King books that I’ve read 😉 ).

I’d heard that this final book was a supernatural one so I was very much looking forward to reading it. I have to say that, yes, it was a little strange to go from crime drama to supernatural horror but I suppose King decided to end on what he does best. The story itself is fine. King has certainly had better stories within this genre so End Of Watch isn’t going to be one that really stands out compared to his very best books. I also felt that the story ended too easily & abruptly. We needed a bigger “end” (I won’t spoil what happens) to the story of Brady Hartsfield. He’s such a bastard, we needed a little something more than what we got at the end.

But the thing that has made this such a good trilogy, the characters & their relationships with each other, is done pretty well in this final book and I’m happy with the “end” we had for Bill, Holly & Jerome’s friendship. I’m especially fond of Holly, although she’s probably a love her or hate her character for some. What can I say? I can relate to her socially awkward weirdness! And she’s a movie geek – I gotta love that.

King doesn’t exactly do anything too unusual or original with these characters but you can’t help but like them. I know it may seem unrealistic or “contrived” sometimes but I want to like the characters in a story. If I don’t give a shit about the characters, I’m unlikely to care about the story. For example: I recently watched The Lobster & The Wave (the 2015 Norwegian disaster flick). The Lobster is extremely original and well regarded by critics while The Wave is a predictable disaster film. I far preferred The Wave, which spent far more time on its characters than you usually get within the disaster genre. I quickly grew bored of The Lobster’s quirk and didn’t care what would happen to anyone. I suppose that makes me mainstream. But so does liking Stephen King. I don’t care – I want to be entertained & King has managed to keep this fan happy for a good 30 years now. End Of Watch isn’t going to change the world or win any awards. It probably ranks somewhere in the middle of all his books if ranked on “quality” but, overall, this was a fun & memorable trilogy thanks to the characters King created.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– Blaze by Stephen King
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– End Of Watch by Stephen King
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

**Currently reading some more of King’s son’s work: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Stephen King Week At CPD

Hi all! Starting on Monday, I’ve decided to do a Stephen King Week on my blog. King turns 70 next week so I’m going to post something King-related Monday through Friday. One book review, two movie reviews (including the new It film), and two Top Ten lists. Unlike certain political leaders, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I hope to chat with some fellow fans next week. 🙂

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Book Review)

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The story centers upon Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, who has been chasing after his adversary, “the man in black”, for many years. The novel fuses Western fiction with fantasy, science fiction and horror, following Roland’s trek through a vast desert and beyond in search of the man in black. Roland meets several people along his journey, including a boy named Jake Chambers who travels with him part of the way.

My Thoughts:

Another quickie book review! I figured I better “review” The Gunslinger since The Dark Tower movie is out now in the US (and out August 18th in the UK). Not many positive reviews so far, though! Damn.

Stephen King is easily my favorite author. I’ve read almost all of his books other than The Dark Tower series, which never really appealed to me for some reason. I got into King in my early teens (maaaaaaany years ago now) and I did read The Gunslinger early on but didn’t remember a thing about it other than that I didn’t really enjoy it at the time. Therefore, I guess that’s why I never continued. I hate re-reading books. Don’t know why. But I obviously had to re-read this one before I could continue with the series & the movie coming out has finally forced me to read it again.

I lie – I do remember one thing from reading it many years ago. Desert! Lots of desert. I remember the book dragging in the first half (in the desert). Reading the book again now, I wonder if I didn’t actually finish it as I remembered nothing at all from the second half of the book, which I found much more enjoyable. The story really picked up once Roland met up with Jake (toward the end of the long desert journey). I mean, I love King but a guy walking alone through a desert gets a bit boring after a while. Maybe I just don’t like stories set in the desert? Nah, that can’t be – I love post-apocalyptic desert landscapes (like in Mad Max: Fury Road or the book Wool). And I don’t mind long journeys (like in The End Of The World Running Club or King’s own The Long Walk or, you know, The Lord Of The F*^king Rings…). So. I dunno. Wow, I suck at reviews lately.

I think the main problem may have been that I didn’t really buy into the character of Roland Deschain. I didn’t like him (not that you’re meant to). He’s so stoic. Having to walk through the desert with that guy would be a total drag. I made him super hot in my head, though, so that helped. Oh! I did like the flashbacks to when he was young & being trained to one day fight to declare his manhood. The flashbacks & the time spent with Jake were the best bits (for me) and made up for the bits that dragged on a bit too long (like the time spent in Tull, although I liked his relationship with the woman while there). The “man in black” was a disappointment but I’m assuming we get a lot more of that story in the remaining books…

Well, I did like this book more than it probably sounds from this so-called review. I’m probably rating it half a point more than I otherwise would since a) it’s Stephen King & b) I can see a lot of potential for the remaining books. I’m assuming this first book barely even scratches the surface of this story. You really learn nothing whatsoever about Roland & the “man in black” and I found it entertaining enough to want to continue & learn more, especially about Roland’s past. I’ll read the rest. Eventually…

My Rating: 3.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– Blaze by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Currently Reading: End Of Watch by Stephen King (book 3 of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

Oh, and it looks like the Mr. Mercedes TV series is starting today on the Audience (?!) network in the US. So I don’t know how I’ll see that in the UK but I’d like to as I enjoyed the book (more than The Gunslinger). Here’s the trailer for the show, starring Brendan Gleeson, Harry Treadaway, Mary-Louise Parker, Kelly Lynch & Ann Cusack:

My Top Ten William Sadler Movies

Happy Birthday to William Sadler, who turns 67 today.

Sadler is a great “Hey, it’s that guy!“. I doubt many people other than hardcore movie fans could name him but most people will know his face. He’s been in 165 things according to IMDb. I’m a fan thanks mainly to his Frank Darabont/Stephen King connections. I wish Darabont, King, and Darabont’s usual favorite actors would work together all the time! Come on, Darabont – would you hurry up & adapt King’s fantastic The Long Walk?! And please once again give Sadler at least a small role. And Jeffrey DeMunn! Okay – I’m getting off topic. I just love Darabont’s King adaptations & he’s had the rights to The Long Walk, a favorite of mine, for ages. I. WANT. TO. SEE. IT. NOW. 😉

Sadler’s Darabont/King movies may be my favorites but my favorite role has to be his Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He stole the show in that one – I wonder if he’s fond of that role? He should be! I think he got to play quite a different character in that film & he really stood out. It would be cool to see him in more unusual roles like that one. But not necessarily lead roles – sometimes it’s cool to be a “Hey, it’s that guy!” guy.

As always, I’ll count down to my favorite films as opposed to performance. What a great, mixed bag to choose from. Here are My Top Ten William Sadler Movies:

The Other Two I’ve Seen:

12. Hard To Kill
11. Disturbing Behavior

Top Ten:

10. Man On A Ledge

9. August Rush

8. K-9 (Haha! Can’t even find a picture of Sadler in this as “Salesman Don”. So here’s James Belushi & the dog…)

7. Iron Man 3

6. Die Hard 2

5. Project X

4. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

3. The Mist

2. The Green Mile

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Sadler has also been in lots of TV shows, some of which I’ve seen him in, but the one movie of his that I’ve not yet seen but really want to is Rush starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jason Patric & Sam Elliott (stud).

Here’s Sadler as Death with Bill & Ted. Best two out of three!

Finders Keepers by Stephen King (Book Review)

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
Finders Keepers is the second volume in a trilogy focusing on Detective Bill Hodges, following Mr. Mercedes. The book is about the murder of reclusive writer John Rothstein (an amalgamation of John Updike, Philip Roth, and J. D. Salinger), his missing notebooks and the release of his killer from prison after 35 years.

My Thoughts:

I found the first book in this trilogy, Mr Mercedes, very enjoyable (I reviewed it HERE). Stephen King managed to create some of his most likable characters in that book so I can see why it became a trilogy as I was, and I’m sure a lot of people were, happy to continue reading about retired detective Bill Hodges and his odd assortment of friends & now colleagues. I’ve heard good things about the final book and someone hinted that it goes a bit more supernatural, which is much more my kind of thing than a straightforward crime novel, so I’m really looking forward to reading it this year. However, I found this second book quite weak compared to the first one and slightly disappointing overall for a King novel.

I’m not going to do an in-depth review since one of my blog goals this year is to keep my book reviews short. King is easily my favorite author so, when I find a book of his slightly disappointing, it’s still likely that I enjoyed it more than a lot of books that I’ve read from other authors. That’s the case this time – I enjoyed the book but it’s certainly not as good as Mr Mercedes and is one of the more forgettable King novels compared to his other work.

I found I didn’t care about the characters in this one (a young boy, who finds the notebooks & money stolen from a murdered author, and that boy’s family). The boy’s family is struggling with money thanks to the dad being hurt by the Mercedes Killer in the first book. The Finders Keepers murderer himself is uninteresting and it takes quite a long time for Bill Hodges & his friends from the first book to even make an appearance. I kept reading & thinking “When do we get to see the Mr Mercedes characters?!”. I did like the idea of a famous author having so much material hidden away from the world and it may have been nice to actually learn a little more about this author before he was murdered at the very beginning of this novel. He seemed more interesting than the other new characters in this book.

Oh well – it’s a decent story, we get to see Bill Hodges & his friends again, and we get to now move on to the final book (which I’m hoping will be as good as the first one and doesn’t make the mistake of straying from our favorite characters too much).

My Rating: 3/5

My Top Ten Books Read In 2016

Welcome to Day Two of my annoying End-Of-Year Lists! Today I’m ranking the thirteen books that I read in 2016 (but it’s still a Top Ten as I didn’t really like the bottom three very much). As always, I rank things according to my own personal taste. For example, number 13 is a far better & more well-written book than 12 or 11 – I just enjoyed 12 & 11 slightly more. I’m also quite proud that I somehow managed to review them all (poorly, though – I suck at book reviews even more than movie reviews) so I’ve included the links to what I said about each.

So now, counting down to my very favorite, these are all the books that I read in 2016:

Three Not-So-Great:

13. Straight White Male by John Niven

12. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

11. The Death Cure by James Dashner

Top Ten Much-Better-Ones:

10. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

9. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

8. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

7. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

6. The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

4. Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

3. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

2. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

1. The Colour Of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Can I just say that, while I highly recommend at least my top seven, I want to give a special mention to Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts. I’ve now read several of his books after wanting to find out if he was as good as his father (Stephen King). I’ve really enjoyed all his books so far but, finally, 20th Century Ghosts is one that I really loved. As with all short story collections, some stories are much stronger than others. But the best ones are fantastic!

**See you for two more end-of-year lists over the next two days. Tomorrow I’ll be posting a list of My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2016 then will end on Friday with My Top Ten Movies Released In 2016 (going by UK release dates). 🙂

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King (Book Review)

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
The stolen Mercedes emerges from the pre-dawn fog and plows through a crowd of men and women on line for a job fair in a distressed American city. Then the lone driver backs up, charges again, and speeds off, leaving eight dead and more wounded. The case goes unsolved and ex-cop Bill Hodges is out of hope when he gets a letter from a man who loved the feel of death under the Mercedes’s wheels…

My Thoughts:

Mr Mercedes was a very enjoyable read but I have to say that, for some reason, it didn’t exactly feel like a Stephen King book to me. I do always prefer when King’s books stick more to the strange & supernatural stuff as “crime” fiction really isn’t my thing. However, this was a quick and thoroughly entertaining read with some of the most likable characters he’s ever written so I definitely plan to read the remaining two very soon.

This was just, in a way, a far less intense novel than most of his other weighty tomes. King is and always will be my favorite author so I don’t mean this in a bad way but I have to be in the right mood to start his novels as they’re such a huge commitment & tend to leave you emotionally exhausted by the end of them. Actually, that’s a good thing – it shows what a talented writer he is! But Mr Mercedes almost felt more like a light read along the lines of authors such as Dean Koontz. Don’t get me wrong – I have a weird & frustrating love of Koontz books but you always know what you’ll get from them: likable characters, predictable but fun stories (usually with a supernatural twist), and more often than not a “happily ever after” ending.

Mr Mercedes is still much darker & less predictable than a Koontz book but King has certainly written these characters in a different fashion than usual. I really liked that – the characters are memorable & easily some of my King favorites. They’ll work fantastically in a TV/film adaptation (is one still going ahead after the tragic death of Anton Yelchin? He’d have been great as Mr Mercedes). Okay – I guess I can just Google that myself! Looks like this will be a 2018 mini-series & Yelchin has been replaced by Honeymoon’s Harry Treadaway.

The central character (and star of this series of books, so he clearly survives the first two at least) is retired cop Bill Hodges. The Mercedes Killer case was never solved & still haunts him after his retirement and blah blah blah – your usual retired cop story setup. Very mainstream for King! When he receives a letter from the killer, he decides to do his own investigation without getting the police involved. The one & only thing that bothered me in this story is that he secretly works on the case with a friend of his – a teenage neighbor boy who helps him with his computer & mowing his lawn. I thought that was putting the boy in too much danger, though Hodges was always mindful of trying to keep him safe. I won’t get into spoilers too much but there are two female characters that worked really well, including one that really grows on you by the end. As for the baddie, he’s a psycho but not totally over-the-top, which often annoys me (like Negan in The Walking Dead at the moment. Okay – you’re a bad guy. We get it!). Damn – Yelchin would’ve been fantastic playing this character.

Well, I won’t say much more about the plot for those who haven’t read this yet. This is a King novel I’d recommend to those who aren’t necessarily fans of his as well as those who are. It’s a pretty straightforward crime thriller that should make for a very good mini-series. People love the retired cop crime story thing so I would think it’ll be more successful than Under The Dome, which even I got bored with & didn’t finish. I watch all King-related stuff! But Under The Dome was one of very few King books that I really didn’t like very much, due to there being so many disgustingly hateful characters. I want to like a book’s characters, so it was great to get that from Mr Mercedes. They may (so far) be a little less complex than some of King’s other characters but I’ll happily read more stories involving this unconventional group of friends & crime investigators.

My Rating: 4/5

Revival by Stephen King (Book Review)

*I’m taking it easier on blogging so am re-posting some mini book reviews I did in one long post HERE at the start of this year. Here’s my mini-review of Revival by Stephen King…

Revival by Stephen King

What It’s About: (from StephenKing.com)

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of 13, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that “revival” has many meanings.

My Thoughts:

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 ranked it 5th on my list HERE of the 14 books I read in 2015). 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.

However, 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 Joe Hill’s book NOS4A2, which I read at the same sort of time, but will admit that Hill’s book was probably actually a little better than this one. *Note to add: I’ve read even more Hill books now and he’s great! But I still love his father’s books more and likely always will…

My Rating: 3.5/5

Note to add: I’ve also done a new review of King’s Mr Mercedes, which I read recently. I’ll be posting that tomorrow. 

Audrey Rose (1977) & A Good Marriage (2014) Movie Reviews

I appear to have watched one too many horror films in the past year so I’m doing a special 2 for 1 deal for my dear readers. Today only! Get it while supplies last! I figured I’d put these two together as I don’t have a whole lot to say about either. I don’t mean that in a bad way – I really liked them both but, well, sometimes there’s just not a lot to say. This is why I’m not a writer… 😉 Let’s have two quickies, shall we?

Audrey Rose (1977)

Directed by Robert Wise

Based on Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta

Starring: Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck, Susan Swift

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger attempts to convince a happily married couple that their daughter is actually his daughter reincarnated.

My Opinion:

This is the kind of supernatural story that’s right up my alley PLUS it’s set in one of my two absolute favorite decades (the groovy Seventies, when everyone looked like an ugly porn star) so I jumped at the chance to finally see this when it popped up on Netflix a while back. I love the pulp novel feel to the film’s story and I found out after watching it that it is indeed adapted from a book (with a great pulpy cover, which appears to have been partially used on that cool orange poster up above).

I find reincarnation a fascinating topic & thought this film had a pretty strong story. I’d probably enjoy the book (has anyone here read it?). The movie is helped by some very good performances, especially from Marsha Mason as the young girl’s mother & Anthony Hopkins as the heartbroken stranger who is convinced that Mason’s daughter is the reincarnation of his own daughter, who died in a car crash at the same time this girl was born. Hopkins was very convincing as a man, understandably, slightly crazed with grief while the girl’s parents were very believable as a loving, close-knit family who would do everything possible to protect their daughter.

Unfortunately, and I feel super bad saying this, the girl (Susan Swift) is the film’s weakest link. Which isn’t good as she’s the character who links everyone together… I can handle this as I grew up on 70s & 80s movies but younger people who watch these older films nowadays have to remind themselves that the quality of acting from children wasn’t in the same league back then. It still almost freaks me out how amazing Jacob Tremblay was in Room! Or Sennia Nanua in The Girl With All The Gifts (a fantastic “zombie film with a brain” that I highly recommend, by the way). “Bad” child acting was common in older movies, though, and I don’t think it’s the fault of the kids – I think maybe they just didn’t know how to direct them back then. But other than the girl’s distracting acting… Ha! That could be a song. Like Conjunction Junction! What’s your function? Distracting Acting! What are you, um, lacking? That doesn’t quite rhyme. What rhymes with acting?? I’m off topic! Now back to your regularly scheduled review:

I think Audrey Rose is a decent psychological thriller (despite distracting acting!) that’s been forgotten about as it’s definitely not at the same level as others from the same decade such as The Exorcist, Don’t Look Now, The Omen, etc. With so many greats being released at the time, it’s easy to see why this gets overlooked. Audrey Rose is more psychological than a full-on “horror” like those, though, and I’d compare it more to something like The Changeling (1980), which had a similar feel. I really did enjoy it and want to give it a higher rating but I have to admit it’s not perfect & I was sadly disappointed with the ending. It’s worth your time if you’re a fan of this decade & genre, though. I’m happy that I finally saw it.

My Rating: 6/10


“Distracting Acting! It’s DETRACTING!” *sing it!*

A Good Marriage (2014)

Directed by Peter Askin

Based on A Good Marriage in the short story collection Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Starring: Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, Kristen Connolly, Stephen Lang

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After 25 years of a good marriage, what will Darcy do once she discovers her husband’s sinister secret?

My Opinion:

I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read almost every single one of his books (other than The Dark Tower series & Carrie for some strange reason – I love that movie). I think his short stories are just as fantastic & I recently reviewed one collection, The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams, in great detail HERE. That took me ages! And two people read that post. Thanks, you two! 😉 Anyway, you would think it would occur to me that I’d read the short story this film was based on but, nope, I totally didn’t remember reading it. Then, as I watched, I was like “Why does this seem familiar?”. What an idiot. I worry about my memory lately. I think it’s partly why I keep this blog going! Someday I’ll look back at that Bazaar Of Bad Dreams post to refresh my memory on what I read.

A Good Marriage is from King’s Full Dark, No Stars collection & it’s odd I didn’t really remember it as it’s a good, basic story of discovering that the person you married isn’t who you thought they were. This is one of those very “straightforward” King stories. I don’t want to give too much away but this isn’t in any way weird or supernatural, which may be why I didn’t remember it as I usually love his weirdest stuff the most.

Joan Allen gives a great performance as the wife who must decide what to do when she finds out the truth about her husband (Anthony LaPaglia, who perfectly plays a creepy horndog). Allen is the true star of this film and helps elevate it from something that otherwise had the potential to feel like a made-for-TV Lifetime movie. I’ve always thought she deserves more recognition than she seems to get. I also found her quite attractive in this… She has that “sexy older lady” vibe. She plays this character well, going from vulnerable & insecure to a woman determined to take charge of the situation in which she finds herself. And… I like the ending! I’m so rarely satisfied with the conclusions to films of this nature that I feel the need to point it out when I do like an ending. So, once again, good job on writing an enjoyable story Mr. King! Sorry I didn’t remember it. I think it’s just because I’m getting old. Old but with a sexy vibe, hopefully!

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, this is totally stuck in my head now…

**Starting Sunday, join me for Creepy Dolls Week! I’ll be reviewing some “creepy doll” movies, including a Blind Spot review for yet another Anthony Hopkins film released a year after Audrey Rose… 🙂

My Blog’s August 2016 Recap

Happy September, everyone! I know I say this same sort of thing every month but I’m serious this time: When the hell did it suddenly become September?! Ahh… Back to school, after school clubs, no holidays & having no life. Not that I have a life any other month of the year anyway. Oh, and then it’ll be winter & I’ll moan even more. God I hate winter. Oh wow – I’m sounding so positive! Here’s a recap of what I posted in August…

POSTS

My Most Popular Post: Stranger Things Poster Art By Kyle Lambert. Holy shitballs – people love Stranger Things! I had a lot of comments on this post. I didn’t say much other than that I was watching it & that I liked the above artwork by artist Kyle Lambert. I did really enjoy the show & I want to see more. The hype was a bit much, though, and the “1980s” thing felt too forced sometimes. But, hell, I adore that decade so I’m not going to complain about that too much.

My Favorite Post: The Legend Of Billie Jean, Less Than Zero & Private School “80’s Quickie Movie Reviews” Post. Speaking of the 1980s, my favorite post was probably the one with my three short reviews of movies from my favorite decade. I’ll always love discussing & reminiscing about movies from this time period, even though I’m pretty much on my own when I do. This post got 5 comments & hardly any views. Ha! Don’t care – I’ll never stop posting about movies that no one under 35 has seen. (Btw – there were boobs in that post. Maybe it’ll get some views now…) 😉

*Baby Dory is one of the most adorable things ever

MOVIES REVIEWED

My Most Popular Movie Review: Finding Dory

All Movies Reviewed (ranked best to worst):
The Legend Of Billie Jean
Pete’s Dragon
Finding Dory
The Book Thief
Lights Out
Swallows And Amazons
Less Than Zero
Paper Towns
Private School

MOVIES WATCHED

In Cinema (ranked best to worst):
Pete’s Dragon
Lights Out
Swallows And Amazons

At Home (ranked best to worst):
Carol
The Good Dinosaur
Fright Night (2011)
The Invitation
Pan

TOP TEN LISTS

Top Ten Celebrities With Color Names
Top Ten Madonna Songs
Top Ten Christian Slater Movies
Top Ten Tim Burton Movies

SEARCH TERMS

My Top Search Term: “Jennifer Connelly white top”. The pervy Googlers strike again! Okay, there’s the photo of said white top above. Various versions of this search term come up a lot – the photo is from the rather bad film Career Opportunities, which I reviewed HERE for my John Hughes Blogathon. The post also contains a pervy gif of Connelly suggestively riding a toy horse while wearing said white top. I apologize – I clearly encouraged the pervy Googlers with that post…

My Favorite Search Term: “film mit killer penis”. It’s my favorite this month because WTF is that? I can usually figure out why a search term brought someone to my blog but, nope, not this time. Were they trying to type “film WITH killer penis“? If so, I’m still pretty sure I haven’t written about a movie with a killer penis. Were they searching for the Tromeo & Juliet penis monster from my Class Of Nuke ‘Em High review? Eh. Maybe.

Here are my top search terms for the month:

BOOKS

I kept it in the King family with my selection of books in August!

Book I Reviewed: The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Book I Finished Reading: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Book I Started Reading: 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

August was the first month where I didn’t manage to watch or review anything from my 2016 Blind Spot list. Too busy. Oh well – I promise I’ll still do 12 by the end of the year. I realized that I put three horror movies on my list so I plan to post reviews of all three in October (including Phenomena, starring Jennifer Connelly once again in a white top!). I’ll probably post the missing Blind Spot review in November. You all told me last month that it should be Zodiac so I’ll try to make that my November post & then Akira in December.

For September, I’m again going to take it easy on posts due to lack of time for blogging. I have more of my “lazy but fun” actor top tens already written & scheduled for the entire month (yay me!). Oh, and Music Video Friday is ready to go for the entire month as well. No one looks at those posts. Don’t care – I like ’em! 😉 I’ll post reviews of movies I see in the cinema but I mainly want to spend September writing my horror movie reviews for my usual October Month Of Horror.

Upcoming Movies:

I missed out on lots of movies I wanted to go to in August (again, too busy). Not sure what I’ll manage of this month’s cinema releases but I’ll probably see Sausage Party this week. I think Kubo And The Two Strings looks good so we’re very likely to go to that one as a family. Not sure how I feel about Blair Witch – I’ll probably watch that at home if it gets halfway decent reviews since (shock horror!) I liked the original film. Does this ruin my movie blogger cred? I’d rather have a root canal than watch Bridget Jones’s Baby! The Girl With All The Gifts looks like my type of thing so I’ll attempt to make it to that one. Swiss Army Man sounds SO completely WTF that I HAVE to watch it eventually but I’m not sure if it’s worth a trip to the cinema.

Finally, I’m very much looking forward to Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. I read the book (which I reviewed HERE) and said while reading it that Tim Burton should make the film if they decided to adapt it. Such a perfect choice – I can’t wait to see what he does with it even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the book overall.

Okay – I always end these with a music clip related to something I posted or watched in the past month. So I’m just going to go ahead & once again post the theme song from The Legend Of Billie Jean: Pat Benatar’s Invincible. Because it’s awesome. Enjoy the glory of 1985! 🙂

The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Book Review) 

The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

I absolutely love Stephen King’s short story collections. The very first thing I ever read of King’s was Night Shift when I was in Junior High and it blew me away. I went from reading YA Christopher Pike books straight to Stephen King thanks to Night Shift turning me into a huge fan. My first proper “grown-up” book! It’s funny how memory works – I remember every single story in Night Shift as if I only read it yesterday (I only read the book that one time well over 20 years ago) whereas I struggle to remember the short stories in his collections from recent years.

I do think Night Shift happened to be a fantastic book and maybe it was a little better than collections from recent years but I can’t say for sure – I do just have a scarily weird memory for things from my youth but can’t even remember what I had for supper last night. Ah, old age sucks! (Oh yeah – it was a burger…)

I did really enjoy The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams (as I do all of his short story collections). I read it a while ago so I better write a little something about the stories now as my memory is already getting hazy. I do think it had some stronger stories than his previous few collections.

My Quick Thoughts On Each Story:

Mile 81:

Not my favorite in the book but a fun read and SO very “King”. What is it with him & murderous vehicles? Some of this collection consists of previously published material so I didn’t have to re-read this one as it’s the first thing I read on my brand new Kindle years ago when I still knew how to use that thing. Old age, again! I should see if I can figure out how to even turn it on again. Speaking of Kindles, Ur was one of my favorite stories in this book. I’ll talk about that later (I’ll do these in the order they appear in the book).

Premium Harmony:

This story wasn’t a favorite but it’s one of those that has that special way of sticking in my mind that I only really get with King’s writing style & it’s why I’m such a big fan. It’s not a horror story & he’s written it after reading a lot of books from another author (Raymond Carver, an author I don’t know) and King says it has a Carver feel to it. Oh – there’s a King intro to each story, by the way. I really like when he does those.

Batman And Robin Have An Altercation:

I found this to be a pretty heartbreaking story about a son & his elderly father (with Alzheimer’s?). As always, King writes such rich characters, even in his short stories.

The Dune:

One of my favorites in the collection, this very short story deals with a tiny island where prophetic messages appear in the sand. King writes excellent stories even when he steps outside the horror genre but my favorites will always be the ones that contain anything supernatural.

Bad Little Kid:

That little kid was creepy as hell. This was a fun story – I think it would make a good adaptation to screen somehow. I really wish they’d do more of his short stories as TV adaptations, like they did with Nightmares & Dreamscapes.

A Death:

I couldn’t remember this one & had to refresh my memory by skimming it just now. I didn’t like this one, but I suppose I liked the ending which has somewhat of a twist.

The Bone Church:

I wasn’t a fan of this either, which was written in the style of a poem. I think. I’ve never been into poetry at all. I suppose that means I have no class. Can anyone tell me how “There once was a man from Nantucket” ends, though?? I’ve always wanted to know that.

Morality:

A weird story with people who are pretty hard to like. But I suppose that’s the entire point. Again, not a favorite & I found it a bit too long.

Afterlife:

I had to refresh my memory on this one as well, although it was a good story. One with a great idea behind it but, for whatever reason, it didn’t fully connect with me.

Ur:

I liked this horror story about a Kindle a lot – it’s one of my favorites in this book. Only Stephen King could write a scary story about a Kindle, for crying out loud. And it works really well. That damn Kindle gave me the creeps! Maybe I don’t want to get mine working again after all.

Herman Wouk Is Still Alive:

Another pretty heartbreaking story that feels too “real” for my liking. King is so good at capturing human nature & the sort of every day tragedies that we all read about in the news but I read for escapism and, like I said, I’m happier when he sticks to the strange & supernatural. I get enough “real life” in real life.

Under The Weather:

Another absolutely heartbreaking “real life” sort of story. But it’s so good & such a well-written story that I did like it (and, again, it would make a good TV adaptation). The end is extremely obvious from early on if you’ve read enough stories but it was still heartbreaking & kept me wanting to read to see how he’d handle the ending.

Blockade Billy:

I wasn’t really a fan of this one. The story is about a baseball player & it’s an okay story but still has too much baseball talk for my liking.

Mister Yummy:

An okay story but not the best. King explores mortality so often & this is yet another one with this theme. He’s done far better stories dealing with this topic – this one is fairly forgettable.

Tommy:

This was an interesting story of a hippie who died in 1969. King doesn’t give much detail in his intro but alludes to the fact that it’s somewhat based on someone he knew? It’s a well-written piece & evokes a 60’s mood that I really liked.

The Little Green God Of Agony:

Yet another so very “King” tale. It’s a bit bizarre & something that only his mind could come up with. He says in the intro that he wrote it several years after being hit by that van, once the worst of his pain was gone. I knew that accident was pretty bad but didn’t realize quite how badly he was hurt. Anyway, I enjoyed this story & its typical King weirdness.

That Bus Is Another World:

A pretty simple story that, once again, explores human nature & morality. A good story but probably not one I’ll remember years from now. Was hoping for more of a supernatural twist with that title.

Obits:

A good story with a great concept. Not the best in the book but one of the strongest ideas. Another one that would make a great adaptation for the small screen.

Drunken Fireworks:

I really liked this story. The thing that King always does best is capture small town American life (usually in Maine – I’m too lazy to see if that’s where this was set too but I assume so). The characters are great & feel like people I grew up with in my own small American town. Probably not the best story in the book but, if it’s the type you can relate to, it’s probably a favorite for some readers. Would probably just squeak into my top five in this collection (I’m not gonna be sad enough to rank these. Well, maybe…).

Summer Thunder:

The final story in the book & definitely one of my favorites. It was the perfect story to end the book as it’s a post-apocalyptic tale. I don’t know why I have such an obsession with this genre – I think it’s because any sort of apocalypse is a genuine fear I’ve had since a young age. Anyway, I thought this was a strong story for its very short length.

My Overall Rating For The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams: 4/5

Okay, I’m gonna choose my five favorites. Hmm… Here are My Top Five Stories (in book appearance order):

The Dune
Ur
Under The Weather
Drunken Fireworks
Summer Thunder

Honorable Mention: The Little Green God Of Agony

Scott Ian Turns Into A White Walker While George R.R. Martin Talks To Stephen King

George R.R. Martin interviewed Stephen King at an event last Thursday night?! Wow! How did I miss the news of these two legends being in the same room together? And I love Martin’s question to King: “How the f*%k do you write so fast?” HA! You can read more about this event & some of their conversation here: thisisinsider.com. Wish I’d been there!

FYI – I’m aware that last night was the penultimate episode of Game Of Thrones, meaning someone big most likely died a horrible death. I’m in the UK and didn’t feel like staying up until 3am to watch it so SHUT YOUR YAP until I’ve watched it tonight!!! 😉

Any regulars here probably know by now that I’m a HUGE fan of Stephen King but, as for Martin’s books, I shamefully have yet to read them even though I got A Game Of Thrones for Christmas 2014. I know, I know… Hey, he’s apparently such a slow writer that I should easily catch up before he finishes the next book, right?? At least I’ve finally read ONE of his books (Tuf Voyaging – I loved it! Review HERE).

And to keep with a Game Of Thrones theme for this post, I thought I’d share a link where you can watch Scott Ian of Anthrax get a White Walker makeover. Scott Ian of Anthrax!!!! Don’t you dare say “Who?” my young bloggers – Scott Ian rules. I was such a huge Anthrax fan in my teen years and I absolutely loved that they so often included pop culture references in their songs (such as Judge Dredd, Blue Velvet, and my beloved Stephen King’s books). Geeky metalheads! Is there anything cooler?

Anyway – it’s a great video to check out whether you’re a Scott Ian fan or just a Game Of Thrones fan. Ian has a video series called Bloodworks where he goes behind the scenes to talk to make-up and effects artists & he talks to Barrie Gower, prosthetic makeup designer for Game Of Thrones, for this episode. Check out the article & video here: io9.

Which Book Should I Read Next? (A Poll!)

Last Christmas (2014) I got a lot of books as gifts, which I worked my way through in 2015 (the only one of those that I haven’t read is A Game Of Thrones – I don’t have the energy to start that yet!). I did a Top Ten (okay, 14) of everything I read last year including reviews of each of those books HEREif you’re curious.

I have to say that I really lucked out last year – I absolutely loved several of the books that I read (especially Ready Player One and The Martian plus I read my first George R.R. Martin and Joe Hill books, which have me definitely wanting to read more by those authors). This last Christmas, though, I got no books. However, I got a load of vouchers! So what did I buy? Books! They’re in the above photo, including some I’ve had for years but still not read.

I mainly stick to reading Stephen King most of the time. And, okay, I admit it – I read way too much Dean Koontz. I’ve just always loved horror and the supernatural when it comes to books but for some reason have barely explored the genre I love above all others: sci-fi. I like fantasy as well but have read very little of it (I do adore The Hobbit & The Lord Of The Rings).

I think, with sci-fi, I’m scared of it. I don’t have a science-y mind. Those books are for smart people! The technical gobbledygook in Star Trek: The Next Generation confused me enough as it was (god I loved that show). Maybe it’s why I like sci-fi comedy when it comes to reading (The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is my favorite book ever). So I thought it was time I try some new authors. The first two books I picked up were a Neil Gaiman & a Terry Pratchett. Look at me! Expanding my horizons and shit!

I’m in the middle of reading Stephen King’s The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams at the moment but I thought it might be fun to do a poll asking everyone which book I should read next. It’ll give me an idea of what’s the most popular. I would also love it if people would like to recommend any other authors, especially in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Or horror & supernatural… The one thing I never really like is “crime” novels, though – the Patricia Cornwell was given to me and I don’t know if I should read it or not. Any fans of hers here?

Enough of my blathering – here’s the poll. You can choose up to three. And feel free to discuss any in the comments – I love a good book chat. 🙂

My Top Ten Books Read In 2015 (and mini-reviews!)

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

11. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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

10. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

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

6. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

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

4. Horns by Joe Hill

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

2. The Martian by Andy Weir

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

My Top Ten Horror Movie Quotes

Happy October everyone! Let’s kick off this month of horror with a top ten list of my favorite horror movie quotes. 🙂

I fully expect to have missed some with this list (I don’t re-watch horror movies to the degree that I watch favorites from other genres) but I’ve tried to pick the first quotes that popped into my head from my favorites. Oh, and I’ve never considered the Alien films or Jaws to be horror, FYI, so you won’t find “Get away from her, you bitch!” or “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” on this list. Those would top the list.

So here are my mainstream & super obvious Top Ten Horror Movie Quotes:

10. “If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.”

As Heard In: The Babadook

I loved The Babadook – it was one of the very few horror films after 1989 that didn’t totally suck. Anyway, nothing is more freaky than that damn book and this is a cool rhyme (even though it doesn’t actually rhyme if you have an American accent…).

9. “The soil in a man’s heart is stonier.”

As Heard In: Pet Sematary

This is probably my only choice on this list that’s not totally predictable. I don’t know why but I had a slight obsession with this movie when it came out – it probably helped going & seeing it with a group of friends (I assume it was rated R? I actually wasn’t old enough. Hmm). Plus, one girl would shout out “PASCOW!” at school for months after seeing this. Anyway, “Sometimes dead is better” is probably the more famous line but the above quote, said by two characters, is more important to the story & the one I always liked.

8. “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”

As Heard In: Carrie

I also love “I can see your dirty pillows.” Ha! Dirty pillows! Carrie’s mom is such a nutjob. Yeah, I like my Stephen King movies…

7. “You are all my children now.”

As Heard In: A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Oh man, there are SO many A Nightmare On Elm Street quotes to choose from! Funny I’ve chosen one from my least favorite & least watched of the series. In fact, I was like “does he say that in number 2??”. It’s just such a well known Freddy line. I was also always fond of “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” and Nancy’s “Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep“. Well, I have another one higher on the list.

6. TIE: “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach; all the damn vampires.” & “Death by stereo!” & “My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire!”

As Heard In: The Lost Boys

Dammit, there are also so many quotes in The Lost Boys! I’m also fond of saying “Maggots, Michael. You’re eating maggots.” anytime we have Chinese food. Goddamn I must be shit-sucking annoying to live with.

5. “They’re here!”

As Heard In: Poltergeist

Well, duh. So obvious. But you all immediately knew what it was from!

4. “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Five, six, grab your crucifix. Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. Nine, ten, never sleep again…”

As Heard In: A Nightmare On Elm Street

I’m a sucker for rhymes or creepy lyrics to the tune of some kids’ song. “One, two, buckle my shoe” will only bring the above lyrics to mind for a generation of Freddy fans now. Or, maybe more than one generation – you young kids seem to like this one too!

3. “Heeere’s Johnny!”

As Heard In: The Shining

Again, like the Poltergeist quote, this one is super obvious. But The Shining is my favorite horror movie (along with The Omen, the Nightmare On Elm Streets & the series that my top two are a part of) so it’s naturally going to be high on my list. Guess that’s three Stephen King movies on my list (even though he hates this movie).

2. “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”

As Heard In: Night Of The Living Dead

I love Romero’s zombie movies (yes, even Day, Land and Diary. but especially Day!). The Barbara (it’s spelled “Barbra” on IMDB but that just looks weird) line has to be the most famous Romero line & the one I quote the most by far, unlike my number one choice. But number one is just so damn cool

1. “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”

As Heard In: Dawn Of The Dead

Love it. I don’t find this to be a very “quotable” quote like most of those on the list but it’s just such a great line. And I also love it being said by once again by Ken Foree in the (also totally excellent) 2004 remake. I suppose it’s somewhat quotable – you could say things like “When there’s no more room in hell, the Kardashians will walk the Earth“. Or something. Nah, that doesn’t really work – someone come up with something better! Well, I love these movies & keep saying every year that I’ll review the whole lot in October but never do. Maybe next year! 😉