No Good Men Left: Reviewing Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I was really hoping to post this review sooner but a storm took out the WiFi for a two days then I had to go out of town for a family reunion. The plus side of all of this was that I was finally able to finish this particular novel. I also got a whole new pile of novels plus Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Be sure to expect more book reviews soon. For now, I will give you my review of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

Elliot “Eli” Cardale was on the brink of discovery. With the help of his roommate, Victor Vale, they were able to test the boundaries of human nature and unlock something supernatural. Unfortunately, this discovery leads the two brilliant and calculating young men down a dangerous path that they can’t come back from. Years later, Victor and Eli must face off in a merciless battle for revenge.

Vicious is a fast-paced and violent novel that doesn’t hold back. The characters are incredibly interesting as none of them can really be classified as “good guys.” It’s almost up to the reader to decide who the real protagonist is. Like I said, novel is fast-paced and it actually jumps around in time but it doesn’t lead to any confusion. Schwab excellently handles this non-linear story telling. There is plenty of gore and violence but it doesn’t take away from character development. One of the reviewers describes novel as “comic book-like” and I would have to agree with that. In fact, I would love to see this novel in comic book form. In conclusion, I highly recommend Schwab’s Vicious to any one looking for something violent and addictive to read.

Current Favorites: TV Show Edition

Hi everyone! I was really hoping to have my review of Children of Blood and Bone for you  by now but I have recently gotten I new job so that has taken up most of my time. I have to finance my book addiction somehow. The book addiction isn’t the only one I have. On top of being a movie addict, I love my tv shows. It’s nice to have that hour long escape from the world. TV shows give me something to look forward to during the week. For this post, I’m going to do a short list of tv shows (or mini series) I feel are underrated or not as mainstream then I’ll do a longer list of mainstream shows I like. I hope you enjoy both of these.

Legion

Legion (2017 – Present, FX Network): Based on the Marvel comics of the same name, Legion follows David Haller, a troubled young man who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He soon learns that he has powerful abilities and he must stop dark forces that want to destroy humanity.

Legion is based on the X-Men comics but, trust me, it is not the like the X-Men movies. This show is cerebral, psychedelic, and it always keeps you wondering what is real and what is not. The cinematography is absolutely wonderful as it seems to change with every episode. The show is hard to keep up with at times but it is worth the watch if you’re looking for a unique take on the Marvel universe.

Preacher

Preacher (2016 – Present): Based off of the Preacher comics, this series follows Jesse Custer, a preacher in a small Texas town who is unwittingly given the powers of an Antichrist. He then enlists the help of his criminal ex-girlfriend and a reckless vampire to  hunt for God.

The plot summary is weird and the show doesn’t refrain from embracing its bizarre plot. Preacher is full of dark humor, gory fights, and a surprising amount of heart. It’s not as hard to follow as Legion but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t keep you thinking. I’m a little behind in watching this show but I do still love it. Preacher is hell of a ride and perfect for comic book fans.

American Gods

American Gods (2017 – Present, Starz Network): Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, American Gods follows Shadow Moon who is recently released from prison only to find out that his wife is dead. When a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday approaches him with a job offer, Shadow accepts and is thrust into a world where gods fight gods.

I’ve gushed about this book and I’ll gush about the tv show. This show is one of the best adaptations I have seen in a while. I was even satisfied with the changes they did make. If you love mythology then you will love American Gods. The cinematography is great, the cast is fantastic, and the plot points are incredibly relevant to today’s world. I highly recommend you binge this one before the second season.

Gotham

Gotham (2014 – Present (Final Season 2019), Fox Network): Based on the Batman comics, Gotham follows the up and coming detective, Jim Gordon, who learns about the true evil lurking in his city after the wealthy Waynes are murdered.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I love shows based on comic books so Gotham has been on my radar for a while. It’s a refreshing take on the classic tale of Batman and it shifts the focus onto a broader cast of characters. Not only do you watch the journeys of heroes like Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon, but you also get to see the journeys of some of the most iconic Batman villains. The cast does an amazing job with these characters. The show is fun to watch as well as intense and heart breaking.

Hannibal

Hannibal (2013 – 2015, NBC Network): Loosely based on the novels by Thomas Harris, Hannibal shows the rise of the infamous cannibal as he forms a dangerous relationship with a young and troubled FBI profiler.

I am still upset this show was cancelled as it was both horrifying and enticing to watch. This one is another example of amazing cinematography. If you thought you wouldn’t find people appetizing then I suggest you watch this show. The cast gives absolutely amazing performances. The plot is full of suspense and chills. I cannot recommend this show enough as it had a short but amazing three seasons.

Lucifer

Lucifer (2015 – Present, Fox Network): Lucifer Morningstar was the King of Hell until he got bored and decided to start a nightclub in Los Angeles. When a murder happens in his beloved club, Lucifer ends up teaming up with Detective Chloe Decker and the two begin an unlikely partnership solving crimes together.

Lucifer is based on comics written by Neil Gaiman so I am biased but I do sincerely love this show. It is funny, touching, and a fun time all around. Unfortunately, it might be cancelled but, hopefully, it will be saved by the power of social media. Don’t miss the opportunity and watch Lucifer. 

Now that I’ve talked about more of the “indie” shows I like, here is my list of mainstream shows I enjoy. Note: Most of these shows are still on the air.

  • Doctor Who
  • Supernatural
  • Game of Thrones 
  • Arrow 
  • Flash 
  • Supergirl
  • Legends of Tomorrow
  • Black Lightning 
  • The Walking Dead 
  • Marvel’s Jessica Jones 
  • Marvel’s Luke Cage 
  • Marvel’s Daredevil 
  • Stranger Things
  • Sherlock 
  • Star Trek
  • The Office 
  • The Twilight Zone 
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events 

 

Kill God then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Waking Gods (Book Two of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hello everyone! It only took forever but I’m finally back with more book reviews. I’m starting to get my life back in order so I’ll have more time for this blog now. Okay, enough with the excuses. Here is my review of book two of The Themis Files, Waking Gods. 

Dr. Rose Franklin is supposed to be dead but she’s not. She is surrounded by the mystery of Themis as well as the mystery of her own existence. When Earth is brought under attack by another giant robot, Rose realizes that she is even closer to the truth about herself and the robots than before. As major cities are coming under attack, Rose and the Earth Defense Corps must unlock the secrets of the ancient alien technology that will let them win the battle for Earth.

One of my favorite things about the first book and this one is how Neuvel keeps a balance between character development as well as the action-filled parts of the story. Building character development in an unconventional story structure is difficult but Neuvel manages it. The novel doesn’t fall victim to “sequel-itis” as the stakes are higher, the mysteries go deeper, and the characters are faced with tougher choices. I was taken on many twists and turns that I did not even begin to expect when I started this novel. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I had a hard time not skipping ahead to see what would happen to my favorite characters. Waking Gods keeps the thrills going in this adventure that is perfect for sci-fi fans.

Be Strong, Saith My Heart: Reviewing Circe by Madeline Miller

Hello everyone! I am beyond excited to talk to you about Madeline Miller’s sophomore novel. I have reviewed her debut novel, The Song of Achilles. You can check that out on my blog. Anyways, I do absolutely love mythology, in particular Greek mythology. I also enjoy these particular stories that are classic tales retold with a new angle. Novels likes Wicked have shown how popular this trope is and how it is really great when done well. I shall continue on and tell you all about Circe by Madeline Miller. (Quick note: Circe is pronounced as Sir-See.)

During the fall of the Titans, Circe was born to Helios, a god of the sun and a powerful force. From her birth, Circe realized she was different that the other immortals and turns to mortals for comfort. Circe then discovers her true talent: witchcraft. She is banished by Zeus and Helios to a remote island for eternity. There she hones her powers and crosses paths with many icons of mythology, with the most notable being the cunning Odysseus. Circe, however, soon finds herself in danger after angering the gods and Titans alike. Circe must prove her true powers or else lose everything that she loves in this thrilling and vivid story.

I was absolutely hooked on this book from the first page. Circe herself is a relatively lesser known figure in Greek mythology who is only really known for having an affair with Odysseus. Miller, however, saw this character and turned her into a force to be reckoned with. The first thing I wanted to talk about was the mythology backdrop and the godly characters. They felt equally as human as they did divine. The competition between the Olympians and the Titans felt very much like Game of Thrones, which I enjoyed. With that being said, the novel did present a certain harsh reality within the mythical world. Circe herself embodied what it meant to be a survivor, in my opinion. Despite her familial history, she still goes through many struggles with little to no help. The novel certainly carries a feminist message throughout, which I found very empowering. Her voice, thoughts, and feelings are all very strong and honest. Miller certainly proves that even gods struggle but that there is hope through survival and perseverance. You probably know I’m going to highly recommend this novel to you. Circe was an exciting and emotional reading experience that is impossible to put down.

Note: I got the title of this review from The Odyssey. I do actually really enjoy that epic.

Build God, Then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Sleeping Giants (Book One of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hi everyone! First of all, I want to congratulate myself for posting two days in a row. Second of all, the title is stolen from a Panic! At the Disco song (which they probably took from something else) and I’m not ashamed because it works really well with the review. I am really excited to talk about this particular novel. A lot of reviews compared it to The Martian and World War Z, two books which I love. It pretty much hit all of the marks on something I would be interested in. Now I shall tell you more about Sleeping Giants. 

When she was a child, Rose Franklin stumbled across a giant metal hand in her town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Years later, Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist who dedicates her life to finding the mystery behind the origin of the hand and how it works. Dr. Franklin and her team must work against powerful forces stronger than any government in order to learn whether the world will ever be the same after discovering that we are not alone in the universe.

The first thing I want to say about this novel is I love the narrative style. Like The Martian and World War Z, it is told through things like interviews, articles, and journal entries. Some people don’t particularly like this style of story but I really enjoy it as it makes me feel immersed in the story. Sleeping Giants felt like diving down a rabbit hole of conspiracies. It felt so real and unreal at the same time as the story navigates between the science fiction elements and the global political crises caused by the discovery of the hand. I find conspiracy theories fascinating so this really piqued my interest. The writing itself felt very real. The transcripts of the interviews helped to develop the characters as well the story itself. I liked the balance between the forces driving the plot. Neuvel doesn’t sacrifice character development for the sake of the alien element. There’s more than enough humanity in this novel. What is also nice about the novel is it doesn’t get involved with jargon to the point that you don’t even know what anyone is talking about. Since most of the characters are involved in science, the military, and the government, it can get overwhelming at times but the unnamed interviewer helps to serve as the one who clarifies all of it. Speaking of that, the book has an overall suspenseful feel as everyone has their own agenda and it makes the story even more interesting. I found myself not wanting to put the book down at all. If you couldn’t tell by my long review, I am absolutely going to recommend Sleeping Giants and I look forward to getting my hands on the rest of the series.

You do not believe although you have seen: Reviewing The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Hi everyone! I want to begin out this post by saying thank you so much for your response to my post about anxiety. I’ve been doing a lot better and I hope that you have been feeling well too. Now that we are past that for now, I’m going to talk to you about one of the more famous horror novel, The Exorcist. I should note that I’ve never seen the movie but I have seen the more famous moments. In general, I’ve always been really fascinated with the paranormal. Some of you are already rolling your eyes but, if I’m being honest, my life would be just a little more boring if I didn’t believe in the possibility of ghosts or demons or whatever. I’ll talk about this more after I give you my review of The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Chris MacNeil is a struggling single mom and actress whose only source of happiness is her young daughter, Regan. Chris realizes something is wrong after Regan begins spending time with an imaginary friend she calls “Captain Howdy.” When things begin to escalate to the point everyone in the house is in danger, Chris calls on the help of Father Damien Karras in the desperate hope that he might save her daughter. Soon, they are faced with a dangerous entity who wants to destroy everything dear to them.

I do want to give a bit of a warning. There are some very graphic parts in this novel that those who are sensitive may not want to read. With that being said, the novel delivers with all of the horror elements. It has just enough gore, scary real-life details, and the psychological elements. I liked the build up to the final event of the actual exorcism itself. It was a terrifying and interesting experience that didn’t feel too convoluted or drawn out. This is certainly a very plot driven novel if you prefer the that type of novel. If you aren’t familiar with horror then you might not enjoy this novel but horror fans should give this one a chance. I had a hard time putting this novel down and it is a surprisingly quick read. William Petter Blatty’s classic horror novel lives up to its reputation with plenty of scares and suspense.

Note: The novel is based on a real life event. If you are interested, I’m going to leave a link below. You might have heard of the Roland Doe case before. If you haven’t, it is an interesting read. You’ve been warned again as there are some graphic details.

To Russia with Lust: Reviewing The Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

Hello everyone! I finally have a book review to give you and I am so happy to share another nerdy side of me. I have mentioned before that I love mystery/thriller novels but I have never mentioned that I love spy novels. In fact, I love the spy genre in general. I’ve seen almost all of the James Bond movies and I do have a few of the original novels but I haven’t gotten to reading them yet. I had a bit of a phase when I was younger where I was really into spy stuff. It kind of stuck with me after all of these years. I will now talk to you about The Red Sparrow, the first book of the Red Sparrow trilogy.

Dominika Egorova, wanting to become the perfect spy for Russia, finds herself in the infamous “Sparrow School” where she trains in the art of seduction. Nathaniel Nash, wanting to break away from his family’s legacy, decides to join the CIA and is caught in the middle of a new kind of Cold War. The two promising young spies are pushed into the dangerous world of sexpionage, double agency, and secret alliances. Dominika and Nate must find a way to survive their missions and save their countries.

Spy novels have somewhat fallen out of trend but Matthews brings a new angle to the genre as he worked for the CIA. This knowledge certainly shows in the writing and I found it fascinating. I enjoyed the character of Dominika. She has synesthesia, which plays in really well with her skill set. I definitely found myself rooting for her throughout the book. Nate was also an enjoyable character. He was charm but he isn’t meant to just be James Bond knock off. Some of the pacing in the book was a little off when it gets to chapters that are solely about different government officials meeting but I guess that is where some of the realism plays in. Spying is not that glamorous of a job. I do feel obligated to give a warning that there are a few scenes of sexual violence in this novel that were a bit hard to read at times. There’s also a lot of jargon that I didn’t quite understand but I appreciated the use of it. Other than that, I really enjoyed this novel and definitely enjoyed unravelling all of the mysteries. I’m going to go ahead and recommend The Red Sparrow if you are interested in spy novels. I will definitely try to read the rest of the trilogy as I cannot get enough of this stuff.

Note: I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ve heard mixed reviews, though. If you’ve seen it, let me know if it is worth it.

 

Current Favorites: Movie Edition

Hi everyone! I currently don’t have any new books to read and a sprained ankle. But you know what I do have? I have passion for movies. I’m actually currently taking a class called Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film for my senior seminar. This got me thinking and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite mainstream and/or indie films. While I do have a ton of movies I love, I’m just going to talk about five more recent films I’ve seen that struck me in a particular manner. I hope you enjoy this list. Let me know if you have seen any of these and what you thought about them.

the shape of water

The Shape of Water – (Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, 2017)

A good majority of you readers have probably heard of this movie as it has been picking up plenty of award show buzz. If you haven’t, then I will give you a quick synopsis.

A young mute woman named Elisa works as a cleaning lady at a secret government lab. When she encounters a mysterious humanoid fish creature who is being studied, she and the creature form an intimate bond. Elisa decides she must save him from the sinister government agency who have bigger plans.

Now I am a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s work. I was certainly interested by the bizarre and intriguing premise. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I had read a lot about the sex scenes in this movie. Regardless, it is still a fairy tale-like and romantic movie with plenty of beautiful visuals. With a balance between the otherworldly and the realistic, The Shape of Water is certainly an experience that the viewer can lose themselves in with its romance and fantasy.

colossal-poster2

Colossal – Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, 2016

I stumbled across this movie after reading a review in Entertainment Weekly. It sounded interesting but I didn’t think I would get around to watching it. I ended up getting a hold of it and decided to watch it on a whim. I certainly didn’t regret it.

Gloria, an unemployed party girl, is kicked out her apartment by her exhausted boyfriend and decides to return to her hometown. Once she returns home, a monster appears in Seoul, South Korea. Gloria begins to realize that she is more connected to this phenomenon than she thought.

I know that a lot of people are not fans of Anne Hathaway but I have a feeling you might change your mind. She portrays probably the most messy and realistic character I’ve seen. The movie does an excellent job reworking the classic monster movie. It’s a nice balance of dark comedy, drama, and sci-fi. Give this one a try if you get a chance.

arrival-2016-poster-9

Arrival – Directed by Dennis Villenueve, 2016

This one is pretty well-known for being snubbed severely during the 2016 movie awards seasons. At first, I didn’t think much of it until I was given the opportunity to watch this movie. Afterwards, I also became angry that this movie got snubbed. I also don’t really remember what the movie was up against. Regardless, here’s the premise:

Twelve stranger spacecrafts land on Earth and no one can figure out why they are here. Linguistics professor Louise Brooks is recruited to figure out a way to communicate with the inhabitants of the space crafts. Soon, she discovers a message that no one was expecting.

This one isn’t your typical alien invasion movie. There isn’t any horror to be found, nor is it overly preachy about the self-destructive nature of humanity or something like that. Instead, this movie focuses on creating an understanding between humans and aliens. What if the aliens have something important to say? Why is language so important? Arrival explores these various themes with its excellent story telling. (There is also a really good plot twist at the end that I won’t spoil.)

the accountant poster

The Accountant – Directed by Gavin O’Connor, 2016

I’m a fan of action movies but they tend to get repetitive over the years. When I find one that stands out, I get excited. I do realize that Ben Affleck has been rather controversial recently so I don’t mean to promote him too much but, just hear me out about this movie.

Math savant Christian Wolff has made a career on cooking the books for crime families, mobs, and terrorists organizations. When the US Treasury closes in on him, he must undo the damage he’s done and save a new friend.

I have to give this movie props for having a unique main character. Christian has high-functioning autism and I felt that Affleck portrayed it in a realistic manner. It does somewhat perpetuate the myth that people with autism tend to be savants but it is not unrealistic by any means. It’s refreshing to see a protagonist who breaks the classic “Macho Man” role. If you are a fan of John Wick, then you will definitely like this movie. It is clever, action packed, and stands out in the action genre. I recommend you give this one a chance.

logan-poster-sunset-2

Logan – Directed by James Mangold, 2017

I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a huge superhero fan. I love MCU and all of the DC tv shows. The DC movies have yet to completely win me over but Wonder Woman was fantastic. Anyways, I was definitely sad to see Hugh Jackman retire Wolverine but I was at least glad that they gave him and Sir Patrick Stewart such an amazing exit. This movie is currently getting some much deserved Oscar buzz.

In the near future, an aging and reluctant Wolverine is charged with taking care of Professor X, who is going senile. Their quite lives are quickly upended when a young mutant arrives with dark forces following close behind.

The first thing I love about this movie was that they made it R-rated which was perfect for the character of Wolverine. This movie has some great Easter eggs for X-Men fans and give the perfect finale for such iconic characters. It’s touching, violent, and profound. Logan is an experience for any comic book fan as it takes the genre in a different direction that doesn’t rely on heavy special effects or anything too convoluted. (Not that I have a problem with that.)

All My Soul Within Me Burning: Reviewing The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl

Hi everyone! I am so glad to be bringing you another book review so soon. I practically raced to finish this book today. As you might know, I am a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe and I have been absolutely fascinated with his odd life as well as death. I saw the title of this book and could not resist. I promise not to be biased in this review but it does combine a lot of my favorite elements. I will now tell you my thoughts on The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl.

Quentin Hobson Clark, a young lawyer living in Baltimore, is devastated by the death of his favorite author, Edgar Allan Poe. Clark decides to take it upon himself to clear Poe’s name and solve the mystery behind the bizarre death. Quentin soon realizes that there is much more to Poe’s death than he imagined as it leads him to international police agents, assassinations, and the horror of the Baltimore slave trade. Clark finds soon that he must solve the mystery of Poe’s death or else he may befall the same fate.

At first, when I was reading this novel, I was afraid that it may simply lead back to the factual evidence of Poe’s death, which is still unsolved to this day. Instead, I found myself enthralled with the twists and turns that the plot took me on. The pacing is slow to begin with but I soon began to realize it was the beginning of a roller coaster. The novel avoids getting too convoluted but still provides enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. I was surprised by how intense this novel got but I absolutely love that. This novel is most definitely in the vein of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories with its gothic elements and atmospheric writing. I am so glad I stumble upon this novel. You don’t need to be a Poe fan but, if you are a Poe fan like me, then I highly recommend Matthew Pearl’s The Poe Shadow as your next mystery/thriller novel.

Current Favorites: Podcasts Edition (Part 2)

Hi everyone! I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. Therefore,  I decided to do another blog more of the podcasts I’ve discovered. Personally, I like to listen to podcasts while I’m working and I’m sure some of you like to do the same. Here are some suggestions if you’re looking for a new podcast or two to enjoy.

Alice Isn’t Dead – From the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, “Alice Isn’t Dead” follows the journey of our unnamed narrator as she decides to become a truck driver in order to find her wife Alice, who she once presumed to be dead. If you’re looking for a perfectly twisted and weird serial then this podcast is for you. I really enjoy this one, as I am a mystery junkie. You don’t have to be a fan of Night Vale in order to enjoy this series but it definitely holds up to the same level of weirdness if that’s what you’re looking for.

Alice Isn't Dead

Crime in Sports – Are you a sports fan? Well I’m not but this one definitely peaked my interest. Created by the same hosts as “Small Town Murder,” this podcasts explores the lives of athletes from various sports who fell from grace so hard that it’s mind boggling. You don’t need to know anything about sports in order to enjoy this podcast but, if you do have sports background, then this podcast is definitely for you.

crimeinsports_300

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – I had to include a Harry Potter related podcast on this list and this is the one that appeals to my inner English Major. Join Vanessa and Casper as they delve into the series and analyze it chapter by chapter. This podcast provides a meaningful and thoughtful conversation about the magical books we all know and love.

Harry-Potter-and-the-Sacred-Text

Spirits – It’s time for some boozy talk about mythology, legends, and folk lore. For you fans of all things paranormal, supernatural, and alcoholic, then I recommend this podcast. It’s fairly light-hearted but still informative. Grab some wine and sit back as your hosts discuss legends from all over the world.

spirits

Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know – Get your tin foil hats ready before you listen to this podcasts that explores the strangest and most interesting conspiracies. Whether it’s a government cover up, alien invasion, or questionable death, this podcast covers it all. You might be just a little more paranoid after listening to one of these episodes but, I guarantee, you will be fascinated the entire time.

stuff they don't want you to know

That’s my part two. There are some more podcasts coming out in spring that I’m looking forward to that I might do individual reviews on. In the meanwhile, let me know if there’s any podcasts you enjoy that I might not know about or if you like any of these ones.