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Our Little Racket: A Novel
Our Little Racket: A Novel
Angelica Baker | 2017 | Fiction & Poetry
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
The idyllic community of Greenwich, Connecticut is shaken when the investment bank, Weiss & Partners, fails. Its CEO, Bob D'Amico--a man known throughout the banking community for his loyalty to his employees--is at the center of the storm: did Bob know this was coming? And even worse, did things fall apart due to criminal actions on his part? Meanwhile, Bob's teenage daughter, Madison, struggles to understand what this all means, both for her father and her family. She gets little help from her mother, Isabel, who offers Madison no comfort during this crazy time. Madison's nanny, Lily, is busy caring for her younger twin brothers. Isabel's best friend, Mina, wants to help, but is still too afraid of offending Isabel: a pillar of the Greenwich scene. And Madison and her best friend, Amanda, seem to be drifting further apart every day. Madison and her family are under intense scrutiny, yet she's still just a girl trying to navigate being a teen. She's sure her father didn't do anything wrong; right?

I had a tough time with this book. There were several points where I considered setting it down for others in my always growing "to be read" pile, but I soldiered on. <i>I can't say I really enjoyed it, though I did find parts of it interesting.</i> It's clearly influenced by the Madoff scandal, which is referenced in the novel, and there is a lot of financial lingo in the book, even if it's really a story of a troubled family at its core.

The problem is that so few of the characters are really engaging, and the story seems to drag on endlessly at points. It's a peek in the world of the truly wealthy (think household servants, golf courses at their homes, multiple residences, hired cars, etc.), but I found myself unable to care for most of the characters. None of them are very nice to each other, and Bob and Isabel come across as neglectful and awful parents for the majority of the story. Even worse is the gaggle of Greenwich women, who gossip about the situation, feel like they are unable to continue to purchase expensive clothing and wares after Bob's "situation," and generally just annoy you with their harping. They don't understand anything about what their husbands do, but they run their households (well, they delegate it all) and fear that their carefully polished way of life is in jeopardy. You understand that this is a serious event for them, but you don't really care. Was I supposed to feel sorry for them? The novel is confusing at times in this facet. Perhaps I missed a great point somewhere: is it profound or just pretentious? Hard to tell.

The one thing that kept me reading was Madison. While she could be hateful at times, the story of her coming of age in a very strange environment, with a spotlight shining on her, was the most interesting part of the novel. Her dynamic with her father, whom she clearly adored, and her cold, distant mother, was far more fleshed out than any of the other characters. You could see her struggling to find her place in the world: she was just doing it under the watchful eye of the community (and a security detail hired to keep the press away from her family). Baker deftly portrays Madison's heartbreaking forays in romance, as well as some great scenes in which the teen shows off some spunk that will have you rooting for her. I couldn't help but want to give her a hug: even though I could see that her mother was a complicated individual, her parents were pretty awful, and poor Madison was forced to confront that in some terrible ways.

Still, despite Madison's story, most of this book fell flat for me. The epilogue was interesting and tied up some loose ends, but it ended things very abruptly as well. So much of the novel was about how Greenwich was nothing but smoke and mirrors: nothing was real in this world. Yet, I would have enjoyed some characters who felt more human, whom I could relate to in some way, whom I wanted to care for and to see come out of this "crisis" intact. Rating a 3-star due to Madison and the intricate story, but probably more of a 2.5-star on the overall enjoyment level scale for me.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Edelweiss (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review; it is available everywhere as of 06/20/2017.

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AM
A Madness So Discreet
8
8.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
I am going to start off with a trigger warning because if you are not comfortable reading books that have to do with insanity, sexual assault, or murder, you should not read this book. As much as I love it, I understand that it is not for everyone, so if you have any of these triggers, please, read at your own risk.

Okay, now to start the review. This book is incredibly dark, mainly because of the issues talked about in the previous paragraph. But in this darkness, there is a lot of hidden strength which is one of the reasons I am giving this book a 4.5 star review.

There will be some spoilers in this paragraph for the plot, so if you want to avoid those, skip to the paragraph that starts with "Now." The main character, Grace Mae, goes through a lot that happen before the book even starts. We, the audience, start off very confused in the middle of an asylum with a female character who does not seem like she is crazy. And that is for a good reason: because she is not. Grace has found herself pregnant without being wed in a time where this is the worst thing a woman can do, so her family ships her off to an asylum full of people who are both "normal" like her and also some people who actually need to be there. The first asylum she is in is a cruel place where she is still under the watchful eye of her father, the man who put her in this situation.

Though she is in a situation that is less than ideal, she is still able to find strength in everything she does. She is quite possibly the strongest character I have read about in a while because she has been through this trauma and is still able to act. She has been stuck in this horrible situation, both at home (in the end) and at both of the asylums, and she is still able to make a difference. I love how much agency Grace has. She knows she has to act because nobody else will. It is much like the horrible situation with her father, she knows she has to be the one to do something to save herself from him. She acts when others stand still because nobody acted on her behalf. This goes with the act of her killing the killer, because nobody else will.

Now, the other characters in the asylum and out are quite interesting as well. The doctor's sister is such a gem. She is so passionate and manipulative, but she actually cares for Grace and her brother, something we do not see much.

Elizabeth is so kind and caring, if a bit cooky, but she is able to understand and help Grace when other people would have only discounted her.

Nell was a very sad character. Knowing why she was in the asylum, even though she wasn't crazy, broke my heart, but she does things on her own terms without thinking about how other people perceive her.

Thornhollow was one of my favorite characters because he treated Grace as an equal. He has little to no empathy and relies on Grace to be that set of eyes for hi. He is aloof, but he knows he need help. He is driven to help others in their plights, we see that with the murdered girls and Grace. But my favorite thing is how much of an equal he sees Grace as. He does not see her as sick, but someone with a gift that can help people. I also love that there is absolutely no romance between him and Grace. It is so refreshing to see a balanced relationship without having them be romantic partners.

The director of the asylum in Ohio was amazing. She just wanted to help the patients do their best to get better. I appreciated it a lot.

Grace's father is a skeevy dirt bag and he got just what he deserved.

Grace is a protector, we see that both in the asylums, on the cases, and when she is worrying about her sister. And this is not a bad thing. At the trial, she braves her horrors to keep her sister safe, which is not something too many people do in books, or real life for that manner. She does not avoid, but attacks problems head on and once she finds something that is not just, she works her hardest to fight against that injustice.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I only took off half a star because there are some issues I have with the ending, but I loved it and it has become one of my favorites.
  
John Carter (2012)
John Carter (2012)
2012 | Action, Family, Horror
7
7.0 (21 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Edgar Rice Burroughs is famous for literary creations that have inspired countless generations and given birth to numerous film and television projects. You would be hard-pressed to find anybody not familiar with Tarzan, one of Burrough’s great series. John Carter of Mars is another one, and at long last has finally made it to the big screen.

The film is based on the first book of eleven, a series that began in 1911 and ran through 1964 when the last book was published posthumously. John Carter stars Tylor Kitsch as the title character, a bitter Civil War veteran who, despite an accomplished service record, no longer wants anything to do with the military. Instead he is fixated upon finding a cave of gold.

Despite the fact that he served for the Confederacy, John Carter draws the attention of the U.S. Cavalry whose leader is anxious to recruit an officer of Carter’s skills and experience to aid them in their skirmishes with the Apache tribes. No longer willing to fight or get involved, Carter declines the offer but soon finds himself caught in the middle of an unplanned battle between both sides. As he attempts to find shelter for himself and a wounded officer, Carter accidentally stumbles upon the cave of gold he was seeking.

Carter’s surprise soon turns to shock when he’s attacked by a mysterious individual who presses a glowing amulet in his hand and utters a phrase that transports John Carter instantly to the planet Mars. Of course, Carter at first has no idea where he is but soon realizes that he has incredible leaping abilities due to the lower gravity of the planet.
Shortly after his arrival he gains the attention of Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), the chief of a race of tall, skinny, four armed alien warriors. At first intrigued by Carter, Tarkas and his people become divided over what to do with the new arrival. This becomes further complicated when airships arrive and begin a massive gunbattle. Carter immediately leaps into action with his newfound ability which quickly gains the attention of Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), princess of the city of Helium.

It is learned that Princess Dejah is being forced to marry an evil warlord who possesses an awesome destructive ability and is using it to subjugate all those he encounters. Desperate to save their city, the princess is offered up to appease the warlord. Naturally this does not sit well with the free-spirited and feisty princess and before long she and John Carter find themselves united in their quest to save Helium. Despite his reluctance to get involved and fight, Carter realizes the princess may be his only way to get home.

A stranger in a strange land, with danger all around him, John Carter takes his audience on an epic adventure. Despite having little star power, the movie works exceptionally well with amazing special effects. The CGI used to create the various alien characters infuses them with personality and vitality rarely seen in artificially created characters. The film is visually spectacular from the legions of aliens locked in combat, to the stark splendor of the planet and its inhabitants.

Even though the film was presented in converted 3-D which, as many of you will know has long been a very touchy subject with me, the final product was actually better than most conversions. While it was nowhere near the quality of films shot in 3-D, it nonetheless offered an immersive quality to epic battle scenes and did not rely on the gimmicky trick of trying to make things pop out of the screen in order to sell the film.

Kitsch does a great job handling the action of the film and manages to interact with his CGI costars in a believable enough manner to establish as much chemistry with them as he did with the flesh and blood Collins. Although some moments of the film drag, it does have enough action to sustain the nearly two-hour runtime with a touch of humor and romance thrown in for good measure.

I first became aware of the film a year ago at the D23 Expo when Disney showed a few clips and had Kitsch, Collins and Dafoeon hand to promote the pending release. While intriguing, I did not see anything that really made the film stand out as a must-see. I am very happy to say that upon seeing the completed film, the scenes that were shown to us not only had even greater effects in the finished product but were also much more entertaining and dynamic once shown within the full context of the story line.

Director Andrew Stanton, who has made a name for himself with his animated films at Pixar, skillfully blends live-action and CGI to create a very energetic and enjoyable action-adventure film that was a very pleasant surprise.
While the acting, character development, and plot are nothing spectacular in and of themselves, they combined well and set the stage effectively for what should be a series of John Carter films in the future.
  
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
2008 | Action, Drama, Mystery
With the success of “Casino Royale” featuring new Bond Daniel Craig, the world has waiting eagerly for the follow up, “Quantum of Solace” which continues the historic spy franchise.

Picking up exactly where the last film ended, Bond is walking a fine line between revenge and doing his duty after being betrayed by Vesper at the end of the last film. While interrogating a suspect with M (Judy Densch), it is learned that there is an organization that is very dangerous and influential that even has influence in the C.I.A. and MI6.

Before they can learn any further information, a shocking betrayal happens and Bond is in hot pursuit of the suspect across the rooftops of Italy and soon locked in a deadly confrontation with the traitor.
The recent events have M concerned and Bond is dispatched to Haiti to follow on a lead which thanks to a case of mistaken identity leads Bond to a woman named Camille (Olga Kurylenko). Olga is involved in a deadly game with a corrupt businessman named Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), and a Bolivian General named Medrano (Joaquin Cosio).

Unsure of their involvement, Bond follows Greene, and learns that he heads an environmental group and has designs on a track of desert in Bolivia. Unsure if Greene’s interest in the area is related to diamonds, oil, or something else, M tasks Bond with finding out what is going on, as her superiors are betting that it is related to oil, and with the C.I. A. involved, it is reasoned that the England cannot be left out of an already dwindling oil supply.

It is at this point that the film lost much of its steam for me as the final revelation seemed to be much ado about nothing as this sort of thing happens, and has happened the world over for years and is hardly worthy of involving the MI6, much less the worlds must dangerous spy.

What follows is a series of betrayals and a few action scenes leading up to a fiery climax which almost redeems the film.

Let me say at the outset that I am a Bond fan and a traditionalist. I understand change happens over time and I am not one who thinks that the role began and ended with Sean Connery. I enjoyed Roger Moore though found him a bit camp. Timothy Dalton did not work for me, and George Lazenby was only Bond for one film so it is hard to judge him fairly. That being said, I found Pierce Brosnan to have been the best Bond since Connery as his interpretation of the character is dead on.

Sir Ian Fleming created the character and has said that he was influenced by people he knew. Bond is a well educated and cultured individual who was educated at the top schools, was an officer in the Royal Navy, and is a suave and charming individual as well as a cold and deadly killer when needed. He is scarred by events in his past, as such he relies on alcohol, duty, and woman to get by, but never once allows himself to get to close to anyone.

When they rebooted the franchise with Craig, much of the 40 years of Bond as well as the essence of the character have been lost. Craig’s Bond is not a cultured blue blood, he is a common thug. In my review of “Casino Royale” I mentioned that the new Bond passed up spending a night with a woman in order to pursue a lead, and how Connery would have found time to do both with style.

Craig’s Bond is very light on womanizing and the film has zero sexual tension and only a very brief romance seen that seems tacked on. The underlying themes of Bond has been guns, gadgets, girls, and action, and this film has chosen to pretty much eschew almost all of this as there are zero gadgets in the film and to be honest, I found the plot to be uninspired.

I think that in many ways the people behind the film have tried to get as far away from the past Bond films as possible especially the maniacal villains who were bent on destroying the world.

As an action film, the movie does have its moments and if it was not a Bond film would be a passable action thriller. As a Bond film, it promises the world and will likely disappoint much long term Bond fans and appeal mainly to those who do not have a longstanding history with the character from book to film. I have to wonder if Sir Ian Fleming is spinning in his grave over what they have done to his gentleman spy in the name of progress.
  
40x40

Kara Skinner (324 KP) rated Fractured in Books

Dec 13, 2019  
Fractured
Fractured
Zelly Jordan | 2017 | Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy
7
7.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Genre: Science Fiction

Page Count: 198

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I am many things. A man. A soldier. Trained to kill. Born to hunt. Focused and lethal.

Nothing gets through the stoic control that hides my inner animal, an animal that simmers with rage and power. And that power makes me the perfect assassin. My first task—eliminate the vile head of a science lab responsible for creating and distributing a cruel mutation. Easy. And almost done when suddenly she invades my world.

Charlotte—petite, beautiful, and sexy as hell—a cop who claims a past with me that I don’t remember. At all. Suddenly she’s everywhere, interfering, asking too many questions, endangering herself and my mission, and pushing buttons I didn’t know I had. A dangerous distraction. My beast is captivated but suspicious, torn between wanting to sink teeth into her and wanting to sink teeth into her. My body craves her.

But I don’t remember her. I don’t trust her. And I don’t trust myself around her. Who is she? Is she lying? And do I have enough control to not be blinded by her? To protect my secrets and uncover hers? And who pays the price?

First of all, I’m so, so happy this book was from Kellan’s point of view. He’s very private and evasive, preferring to give into his near-constant lust than focus on the task at hand. Frankly, I don’t understand what makes him such a good soldier. Sure, he’s deadly and can shift into a killing machine– when he’s not too busy staring at Charlotte’s ass.

If the book was from Charlotte’s point of view, Kellan would have been completely unsympathetic. But after reading his thoughts and seeing how much he cares for Charlotte, I like him a little more. I especially like how he acknowledges Charlotte’s ability to take of herself. After all, she is a cop, not a damsel in distress.


Charlotte actually reminds me a lot of Meg.
Charlotte was pretty good. She’s definitely a badass and I liked seeing a glimpse into her work life. She’s calm and peaceful, which is a good contrast to Kellan. But honestly, I’m not sure they’re a good fit.

I love how she’s not afraid of him even though he was so afraid of hurting her. And it’s really obvious how much they care about each other. I also can’t deny that I loved the sex scenes. But Kellan and Charlotte’s relationship still felt pretty toxic.

Not only does he have to keep everything a secret from her, but he also knocked her out and tied her up, supposedly for her own protection. Less than an hour later, they’re having sex. After the sex, he still won’t tell her what happened to him, and he laughs and ties her back up again because she’s pissed and he finds it cute. Seriously, she had a legitimate reason to be angry and he does the caveman version of “calm down”.


A lot of things don’t make sense to me. Kellan is trying to keep Charlotte a secret from his boss, but he brings Charlotte to his apartment and gives her his phone number. As if his boss, who is running a classified military operation, doesn’t have cameras in Kellan’s apartment and hasn’t bugged his phone.

However, I can forgive other things, like how he thinks his boss, who is anonymous and only communicates with a voice disguising device, is not sketchy at all. Judging by how Kellan acts when on the phone with him, I think he’s being hypnotized and that’s why he has amnesia. It would explain a lot. So maybe that can make up for some of his behavior.

The ending was abrupt and didn’t feel like an ending. Which makes sense considering there’s a sequel. I’m definitely going to read the sequel eventually because I want to find out what happened. However, I think I would have enjoyed this more if books 1 and 2 were combined into one complete book. There was no real closure for the first book. It barely even felt like a chapter ending, let alone a story ending.

If you want to read Fractured, plan on reading both at the same time. This is a good fit for those looking for a shifter romance full of steamy sex scenes and an alpha hero. However, I’m rating it only a 3.5 out of 5 stars because Kellan and the plot confused me.

Get Fractured at your local bookstore or your favorite online retailer.

Zelly Jordan was generous enough to donate to Trees for the Future in exchange for this review. Find out how you can do the same.

The Indiebound link in this post is an affiliate link, meaning I get a small commission every time you purchase a book through that link, but at no additional cost to you. I donate half of my affiliate earnings to Trees for the Future.
  
GM
Gold Manor Ghost House
8
8.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
(This review can be found on my blog <a href="http://themisadventuresofatwentysomething.blogspot.com/">The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl</a>).


I have to admit that the blurb is what drew me in to this book. While it wasn't really that ghostly, it was still a good book.

Usually any title with the word "ghost" in it captures my attention, and it was no different for this book. The title references the name of the tv show the characters are in. It also reflects real life for them.

I don't like the cover at all. It's not very captivating nor does it tell us anything about the book besides one of the characters is a girl. There's so many different covers this book could've had, so why settle on a boring photo of some girl. I just hope the cover doesn't put others off because this is a good read.

The world building, while believable, was confusing at some points in the book. I don't know if it's because a lot of questions will be revealed in the next book (if there is one) or what. There were times when I had no idea what was going on. I even would go back a few pages and reread them in case I had missed something, but I hadn't. I don't really know how to describe it other than to say the world building was choppy at times. Besides being confused, I found myself drawn to the world which the author created for this book. There were times when I felt like I was even one of the characters.

I enjoyed the pacing. Once you get past the confusing bits of the story, the pacing is done rather well. I was totally immersed in this book, and I could've wait to read the next chapter to find out what the characters would experience next.

The plot was interesting albeit confusing since we don't really know where and what Anna is yet. It's the typical good versus evil story, but written in a very interesting way. We're not sure who to trust yet, and we're left wondering with whether Anna is good or evil. The plot thickens...in the next book. (At least, I hope there's a next boo since so many questions are left unanswered).

I liked the character of Anna. She's been through a traumatizing experience, yet she's a strong person. I felt bad for her with what she was going through, and I loved her feelings for Adam! I enjoyed Adam. He's still a very mysterious character, not because he wasn't written well, but because I think the author wants to save what he's really about for another book (hopefully) and because she wants her audience to make up their own mind about him. I love how protective he is and how sexy he sounds! He's British (like my husband) so he instantly scored points with that one! I felt bad for Corey when it came to his unrequited love from Anna. He's her best friend, yet he yearns for more. I was Team Corey all the way even though I liked Adam. I wanted Anna and Corey to become a couple all throughout the book! He comes across as being a tad more sweet than Adam, and I don't know what it is about Corey, but I just loved him a lot. To me, he was better boyfriend material.

The dialogue didn't really sound like it was teenage like. It sounded more like the way adults would talk, not a bunch of teenagers. However, I did enjoy the dialogue but kept forgetting that Anna was meant to be only sixteen. It annoyed me how Adam kept saying "love" though. I found it to be too stereotypical. Yes, some British people do say "love," but Adam seemed to say it an awful lot. Having lived in England for 6 years, I can tell you that British people do not say "love" all the time. However that's just a me thing and shouldn't affect the book for others. I enjoyed the scenes Corey was in the most though as his dialogue was the most enjoyable in my opinion. I didn't notice any swearing in this book.

Overall, Gold Manor Ghost House by Merry Brown is an enjoyable book despite some of its confusing scenes and minor faults. I really hope there's a second book in the works because I enjoyed the first one and am wanting my questions to be answered. The way the first book is written, it seems like there will be a second book which I will most definitely read!

I'd recommend this book for those aged 14+ who are fans of the paranormal that are also looking for a bit of romance.

I'd give Gold Manor Ghost House by Merry Brown a 3.75 out of 5.

(I received a free ecopy of this book from the tour host in exchange for a fair and honest review).
  
WP
When Patty Went Away
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
(This review can be found on my blog <a href=http://themisadventuresofatwentysomething.blogspot.com/">The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl</a>.


The blurb intrigued me a lot. This was a book I really wanted to read. However, I was a bit disappointed when I finally got a chance to read it.

The title definitely fits the book for at least the second half. (I'll go into more detail about that later). The title reminds me of someone who checks out of reality though.

I like the serene look of the cover. I don't really know how it ties into the book though. The cover made me think more of a holiday romance type.

I can't really fault the world building. I thought it was done rather well and very believable. From a historic viewpoint, the facts and events were all correct. It was interesting that Ms. Burt chose to narrate through the point of view of a man. She did a great job of making it work though. There was one or two times I felt a bit confused, but I put it down to just a personal thing like maybe I wasn't paying as much attention as I should've been. The only thing that bothered me was when the narrator of the book would suddenly start talking about a memory. It was too sudden, and I didn't know if it was happening in present time or if it was indeed a memory. I felt as if a memory could've had a better introduction so the audience was aware that it happened at another time in the book.

I felt that the pacing was too slow for about the first two-thirds of the book. It seemed to drone on and on about a topic I wasn't that interested in (farming). I realize that Ms. Burt was setting up a back story, but there was too much focus on the whole farming aspect of the book and not about Patty disappearing as the title and the blurb would suggest. Once the main character goes to Montreal, the pacing picks up decently, and it becomes a book that I had a hard time putting down.

The whole story line was a bit weak, I felt. First off, it reads like two books. The first two-thirds of the book is about a family who has lost their farm due to a bad storm. The reader then takes a journey into finding out how this family struggles to survive without their means of income. I found it a bit tedious because I don't really care about farming, and this book used a lot of farming terminology. The last third of the book is when Jack goes to Montreal to look for Patty. This explores the seedy side of Montreal (which could be just about anywhere) and prostitution involving runaways. I thought the story line was strong during this bit.

I felt that Jack was a well developed character and very likable. It was easy to feel what he was feeling and to feel sorry for him with all that he was going through. Molly is a strict God fearing woman. However, I felt that there was too much focus on her being overweight which was uncalled for. I didn't really like how Christianity was portrayed when it came to Molly. I'm sure there are people in the world like her, but there were times when I just felt a bit offended. I would've loved to know more about Patty and Edie as individuals. I just felt like they didn't get enough time throughout the book, Patty especially. I found it a bit hard to care about Edie and Patty especially as I felt like I didn't have enough information on them to care.

The dialogue fit this book very well. However, I think a lot of people will struggle with the farming terminology and have a hard time relating to the whole farm scenario. As I've said before, this book reads like two books in one. To further prove my point, even the dialogue is different. During the whole family losing their farm scenario, the language isn't vulgar nor is there any swearing (that I could remember). Once Jack gets to Montreal, the language turns a bit vulgar, and there is some swearing.

Overall, When Patty Went Away is just an alright read. The plot could've been better and the merging of ideas could've been smoother. Saying that, the main character is very likable and the world building was good.

I'd recommend this book to those 18+ who know something about farming or those who want a book that will last awhile.

<b>I'd give When Patty Went Away by Jeannie Burt a 2.5 out of 5.</b>


(I received a free paperback of this book from LibraryThing for free in exchange for a fair and honest review).
  
Unfaithful: The Deception of Night
Unfaithful: The Deception of Night
10
10.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
As I look back at Unfaithful, all I can think is wow. This book had some unexpected twists and turns, that leave you breathless and riddled with anxiety. It was a nice continuation from the first book with some real anxiety ridden situations. I loved that we got to see more of the others: Ginerva, Simon, and Drake. I loved getting to know these character more. However, I found that not everything as it seems to be. I guess that is to be expected when you are dating an Angel of Death. I also enjoyed learning more about how the Evan and his brothers are created and chosen. There was so much information in this book, that at times it was hard to absorb it all, while continuing the story without pausing to take a moment to think about what you just read.

Let me first discuss Evan. Though we don't see a whole bunch from his point of view this time around, it was definitely nice to learn about his past and how his kind works. Although, I wished we could have had more of him in the book, it was nice to learn more about the others in his family. I think I really enjoyed learning about how he met each member in his family after his death. I also very much enjoyed learning about how each member had an impact on the others. Seeing how he was saved by a Witch, Ginerva, who was with Simon, was amazing to see. I also enjoyed him explaining how the forbidden fruit that Eve ate was the same that gave Evan and his kind the nutrition they needed to stay alive and how without consuming it they would just end up dead, instead of becoming the angels they were destined to become to pay their way into Eden.

Evan had even explained some of his family to Gemma, which helped shed a new light on them. I believe what little information was given, really helped give these characters a better feel. It made you feel sorry or sad for how things had come to be. To even see how close to Gemma that they had grown to be, was a pleasant sight to see. It made the character intertwine together better than before. However, with Drake's crazy antics and the ever threatening danger around the corner, you can't help but wonder what was really going on.

At one point, you are introduces to Eden and the details to describe it left you breathless. I can't help but wonder if my imagination even done it justice. I believe the details were amazing and definitely breathtaking. However, I think even with the details, that I would have loved to see more of it. Though it was very hard to believe such a place could exist, after all it is supposed to be our Heaven, I think I would have definitely needed to see more to be satisfied. This is on of the things in the book that made me want more of it, knowing I may never be able to visit it again.

--This next part is a spoiler so please read at your own risk.--

I have to say that the ending with Evan dying has me extremely upset. I am not sure what happened and even now I am sitting her unsure of what happened. I had cried out in frustration. It was definitely not a satisfying ending. With what Gemma tells Evan as he dies, and what happens with their supposed threat, I can't help but count down the minutes until I can start the next book. This book definitely gave me lots to think about. For example, how nothing is certain in life. There are many things, people and situations that can lead you to the wrong conclusions or paths to take. I feel this book had given so many things to be processed and though about, that people could easily lose themselves in thought, just from the situations, like deception, and ideas of places unseen by us alone.

Overall I would rate this book five stars out of five stars. It was breathtaking, detailed, and kept you in suspense. There were a few very sweet moments that made you long for romance like that in your personal life, but kept everything in the right perspective. I definitely think that I learned that I should live to the fullest, for you never know when death is waiting for you. I think this series has been amazing so far and can't wait to finish it. It definitely makes you want more and with and ending that doesn't answer the important questions, it definitely feels like the cliffhanger at the end of your favorite show to keep you waiting for the next season to figure out what the next thing is going to be.
  
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Hadley (499 KP) rated The Collector in Books

May 4, 2019  
The Collector
The Collector
K.R. Alexander | 2018 | Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult (YA)
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Quick read (0 more)
Lack of character development (0 more)
Contains spoilers, click to show
Whenever you move to a small town, there is always a hidden secret. When one of those secrets is children going missing, it makes for a great horror story. But 'the Collector' makes for an okay one,with most of its twist and turns being highly predictable.

Josie, the main character of 'the Collector,' has just been uprooted from Chicago with her younger sister, Anna, after their single mother just lost her job. They move in with their ailing grandmother in a small town far away, where she warns the girls to never enter the woods that surround her house. Very early in the book (literally within the first ten pages), Josie and Anna hear a voice coming from the forbidden woods, calling out their names. This isn't the best horror book I've ever read, but it has its quirks.

The reader gets to follow Josie through the story, from her time at a new school to nightmare fueled dreams. She watches her mother take care of her grandmother, who has Alzheimer's, but the grandmother constantly speaks of someone named Beryl, and how this woman knows and wants Josie and Anna. Fortunately, Josie meets a girl at her new school named Vanessa, who becomes a quick friend. Josie speaks about the woods around her grandmother's house, and how she and her sister weren't allowed to enter them, but Vanessa believes there's nothing to worry about: " 'There's nothing to be scared of in the woods,' she said. Her voice sounded different. Flat. Like she was reciting a line from a story she'd read, but didn't believe. 'It's just trees and animals.' "

Josie and Anna soon go over to Vanessa's house, where she lives with her aunt. Little did they know that the house was the one in the forbidden woods that their grandmother warned them about. Josie ignores the rule and enters the home; inside, they are met with a hoarding collection of porcelain dolls, lining the walls and the floors of the entire house. Although Josie has had dreams about this house before even meeting Vanessa, including a life-size doll that answered the door(which she later states looked just like Vanessa), she didn't put the easily accessible puzzle pieces together.

Ignoring the obvious, Josie invites Vanessa over for a sleep-over, where we witness Josie's grandmother instantly recognizing her friend. Vanessa quickly leaves, taking off into the woods towards her home without giving an excuse or getting her overnight bag. When Josie asks her grandmother how she knew Vanessa, her grandmother replies: " 'Beryl is coming!'... 'You've brought her in here. I can't protect you. Not anymore.' "

Josie becomes angry and decides to confront her friend, Vanessa, and find out why she left the way that she did. When she reaches Vanessa's house in the woods, she can hear her crying,but there's another voice - a voice from Josie's dreams of none other than Beryl! Josie overhears Beryl demanding that Vanessa bring her another child for her collection.

Anyone who ever enjoyed R.L. Stine's 'Goosebumps' or 'Fear Street' series will enjoy this book. The story follows the basics of all young adult horror books: one pre-teen/teen experiences something supernatural, and no one believes them, so they are left to fend off the threat by themselves. But this one leaves out the teen drama of a blossoming romance with a boy-crazy girl, instead focusing on an older sister's love for her sibling. "I felt I should apologize to her before dinner. I should try and show her that I was sorry by offering to bring her food or something. I had to protect her, and that meant she had to trust me again."

One aspect that was needed was character development - there is such a lack of backstory that the reader can't bring themselves to care about any of the characters. Alexander keeps the story going with no lulls of teen life, but very little human interaction. Josie spends a lot of time with her younger sister, Anna, but the interactions are quick and seem unimportant.

'The Collector' is good for a quick read with a few scares here and there. I would recommend this book for pre-teens that are interested in horror genre books, but not wanting to deal with the nightmares that horror books for an older generation might bring. Although the ending of the book seemed rush, with a quick death of our villain by the hands of Josie, we are left with an opening for a possible sequel: "Slowly, I opened my eyes, tried to make my vision adjuts. I couldn't believe what I saw. There was a doll on my nightstand. A doll that looked an awful lot like Beryl. " It ends like most horror movies end, but was it good enough for a sequel? I don't think so.
  
Moonlighting
Moonlighting
1985 | Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Classics
7
7.5 (13 Ratings)
TV Show Rating
Contains spoilers, click to show
Another dip into the retro TV archive as part of that odd period in lockdown when all I could do for my watching fix was find old shows with full episodes on You Tube. My favourite show when I was a teenager happened to be one of those, with most of seasons 1 and 5 out there, and a small selection from the middle years.

If you were to make a time capsule to show aliens what the mid to late 80s looked like, look no further than this madcap rom-com drama that ran for 66 episodes between 1985 and 1989. The shoulder pads, the hairdos, the slip on shoes, the large chunks of cheesiness, it’s all there. Some of the coloured silks Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) wears have to be seen to be believed.

It was the first show to get free reign creatively from a network, with ABC trusting Glenn Gordon Carol, fresh from success with Remington Steele, to create something cool and hip. At the peak of its success it was costing $1.6m per episode, with Bruce Willis’ pay check becoming a big chunk of that, as his ego inflated and his star rose.

They auditioned close to 600 actors for the role of glib, fast talking sleuth David Addison, before taking a risk on an out of work nobody the producers had heard singing karaoke in an LA bar. The phenomenal buzz around Bruce Willis in 1985 is hard to imagine now, but he was literally the biggest star on TV, and once Die Hard came along in 1988, he gave the movie star thing a good go too.

Famous for its post-modern take on episode content, with overlapping dialogue, direct address to camera, in jokes and endless references to current events and the show itself, it was a knowingly self-conscious misfit. Nothing had ever been like this. Nothing, even close. It was funny, cool, had mass appeal and could seemingly do no wrong, breaking ratings records all over the place.

But all was not paradise on set. Shepherd and Willis were never pals, and at the worst actively despised one another, often refusing to film scenes if they thought the other one was too much the focus – which in Shepherd’s case was often a weird anachronistic soft focus, that attempted to make her look like a vintage movie star. They argued, fell out, made up and threw tantrums just like the characters they played. And scripts for the unusual hour long format were often so late, they filmed filler scenes whilst they were being finished on set!

This allowed for an unparalleled voice in American TV land. They got away with some very terse comments and innuendo bordering on smut, that slipped under the network radar, simply because the show was being edited minutes before it was shown. By season four it was really falling apart, as episodes got more surreal and used the breaking of the fourth wall more often, in a desperate attempt just to keep going.

Ostensibly, it was a detective show. But it was never about the cases. The sleuthing was only a background to the will they won’t they romance of Maddie and David, facilitated by the ever present Allyce Beasley as Agnes DiPesto, the rhyming receptionist, that was the only other cast member to appear in all 66 shows apart from the two stars. Early on the mystery plots and crimes to be solved were taken semi seriously; with a peak in season three where it actually approached proper drama. But by the end it was all about Willis goofing around, at the expense of any recognisable story.

Let’s face it, looking back on it now it has aged a whole bunch in a lot of bad ways. You aren’t really going to indulge in it for anything other than nostalgia reasons. But I was a huge, huge fan, and so for me it was a real trip to see it again. I never missed it as a kid, and would sulk if anything threatened to stop me watching it as it aired. I had every episode taped on VHS and could quote entire episodes, I had watched them so much.

It all ended too soon for me, but not soon enough for them. Shepherd got pregnant, Willis took the break to go and make some mid budget action film, and the rest is history. To this day, footage of them reminiscing about it is a fascinating but awkward watch, as they clearing still can’t agree on anything and thinly veil their contempt for each other. Willis’ ego does not come out of it well, but David Addison will always remain the one character that formed my personality via TV in those days, for better or worse.