October 30, 2014

Book Review: Exorcist Road

Author: Jonathan Janz
Publisher: Samhain
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source: Author
Purchase: Amazon
Add To: Goodreads

"Possessed by a demon...or by the urge to kill?"

Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.

A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.

But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn't possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies." ~ Goodreads

When one thinks of  'exorcist' Reagan, split pea soup and spinning heads come to mind. William Peter Blatty taught us all we need to know about exorcisms, what is so radically new and inventive about Exorcist Road?  Casey's exorcism is not the main focus here.  It is a game of "Guess Who" to discover the identity of the Sweet Sixteen Killer.

Exorcist Road does not fiddle around and cuts right to the chase.  I don't like dawdling plots so this was a bonus but on the same token I did't feel like I got to "know" the characters before staircases went to pieces and levitation ensued.  Instead I got hectic descriptions.  There was so much to process to begin with I didn't feel a complete picture and was quickly warped into Lincoln Park's nightmare.  The cast of characters were all leering and each with an underlining motive to kill.  Thus the question of the true murderer was kept at a guess until the very end.  

The conclusion had a Frailty vibe to it.  An eerie ending with the true culprit evading capture, and as Norman Bates says "it has a creepy smell."  

October 29, 2014

Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley

Author: Kathrine Reay
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: Novemember 5, 2013
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon|Barnes & Noble 
Add To: Goodreads

Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.

After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.

As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

Fond of:

I liked that Dear Mr. Knighley used aspects of Jane Austen as I am always a sucker for that.  Also, while it was almost a flutter I thought the incorporation of Eunice's time as a dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was nice.  I also liked reading the story in letter format, being written as if Samantha was speaking to the reader.

Not Fond of:

Even though I enjoyed the format, it did seem a little 90s era teeny-bob, which was a bit of a downfall for me.  I also got a little annoyed with her squealing  over romantic issues and had me thinking, does Mr. Knightley actually care about this drivel or do I for that matter?  The Alex/Samantha relationship felt stilted, with Alex coming off as the rebound guy after her horrible break-up with Josh.  It was a coupling you wanted to happen, but when it was revealed that Alex was kind of a dud too I felt the build up to the crescendo was all for naught.

Final Thoughts:

Mr. Knightley felt like fan fic and had to put it down several times.  For me, Samantha was an annoying baby sister who I wanted to stay out of my room.

October 28, 2014

Book Review: The Killer Next Door

Author: Alex Marwood
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon
Add To: Goodreads

Alex Marwood’s debut novel, The Wicked Girls, earned her lavish praise from the likes of Stephen King, Laura Lippman, and Erin Kelly, and was shortlisted for an Edgar Award. Now Marwood’s back with a brilliant, tightly paced thriller that will keep you up at night and make you ask yourself: just how well do you know your neighbors?
Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be renting rooms in a dodgy old building for cash—no credit check, no lease. It’s the kind of place you end up when you you’ve run out of other options. The six residents mostly keep to themselves, but one unbearably hot summer night, a terrible accident pushes them into an uneasy alliance. What they don’t know is that one of them is a killer. He’s already chosen his next victim, and he’ll do anything to protect his secret.

Fond of:

The character The Lover is creepy.  Like Buffalo Bill creepy, taking embalming to a completely different level.  He was a perfect villain.  He has you terrified of him but not to the extent that the reader is looking over their shoulder scary.  The Killer Next Door had a harrowing storyline but found the lives of the tenants just as fascinating and when needed banned together.  Exhibited via Cher's attack and really think that moment is where the shit started to hit the fan.  After "the shit hit the fan" it felt a little comical, like the three stooges trying to cover their tracks.  This may not have been what the author was going for, but I enjoyed it just the same.

Not Fond of:

While I enjoyed the novel it did take me about 20% (or so says my kindle) to really immerse myself in the lives of those living at 23 Beulah Grove.  When the novel first began it flipped flopped from tenant to tenant and had a difficult time discerning who I was reading about at the present.  In other words, a better arrangement would have been beneficial.  The landlord, I could have done with less of him.  Pretty much all he was good for was saying he'll get around to it and using his hand in lewd actions.  Fortunately this doesn't last long.

Final Thoughts:

I had read that The Killer Next Door was scary and gruesome.  I found it to be neither, but rather a stand up suspense novel with a fun/comic spin.  Although just when one felt comfortable in their light-heartiness Alex Marwood pinched your skin and reminded you that you are not reading David Sedaris but rather a thriller that needed your complete attention.  

October 24, 2014

Movie Review: Cleopatra

The two things it is known for is  being a bomb and having the biggest budget film at the time, starting with 2 million and spending 44 million at closing.   It is also the film in which Richard Burton and Liz Taylor hooked up.

I got Cleopatra through the library as I was unable to finish a biography on her for book club so I thought I'd cheat.  Unfortunately, that didn't work either.  I could only make it through the first disk only watching Caesar, played by Rex Harrison and Cleopatra's love affair.

Julius Caesar was epileptic, and there was a scene of him having a seizure, which was pathetic.  I am epileptic myself, and it was such a bad, inaccurate portrayal of a convulsion that I almost turned it off right then and there.  The film was extremely sexual for its time, women scantily clad in provocative positions.  There is one scene with Elizabeth Taylor in which one of Cleopatra's servants has the job of pulling down her dress whenever Liz moved so as not to show her ass-crack.

Anything positive?  The scenery and costumes  were incredible and can see why they went over budget, but otherwise it was a complete bust.

October 23, 2014

Movie Review: Gone Girl

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Screenplay: Gillian Flynn (and based on her book of the same name)
release Date: October 3, 2014
Run Time: 149 minutes
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne reports that his wife, Amy, has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick's portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

This was the best part of Gone Girl, it is not Ben Affleck and his expressionless acting but the bird on the bat.

Neil Patrick Harris almost gets decapitated.  It was way too violent, more than it needed to be and was borderline slasher.  Also, while we're talking about blood when Amy is released from the hospital she was dolled up with a cute hairdo and scrubs but she still has blood all down her neck.  Somehow, I don't think that's protocol.

On a side note, my prudishness also came into play as the nudity (while expected) was a little much as well, whatever happened to leaving some to the imagination.

I wasn't impressed by Rosamund Pike's performance.  She wasn't the Amy I pictured, someone more conniving and instead I just got stilted.  Although my expression throughout the movie was similar to this.

There was definitely something missing in Gone Girl and it wasn't Amy Dunne.  Gone Girl wasn't even close to amazing.