Monday, January 30, 2017

A Fitting End

This past weekend was a total shitshow. I'm not going to go into it further than that, because the medical issues involved were (largely) not my own. What I can say is that I backslid in terms of my anxiety, but I am fighting my way out. I am guessing the next few days will be rough, but I am toughing it out as best I can.

Sunday afternoon, Tkout and I went on a date to go see Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Dipper had suggested we take a break from the stress of the weekend and have a small date. I was worried that I wasn't going to do well, since I have been having trouble in packed theaters. That didn't happen to be a concern, since there weren't more than 13 people in the whole theater.

For those readers that maybe haven't been following the series closely, this final movie is meant to close the franchise and answer some unanswered questions, and clear up inconsistencies between the other films. The film opened in theaters on Friday, January 27th. The Final Chapter received mixed reviews, some people loved it's action-driven scenes. Others were nonplussed with the offering as the conclusion to the long-running franchise.

I fall in the middle. But that's not really surprising, considering I do for most Resident Evil movies when I first see them. The plot of this one had me intrigued from the start though, because it was a return to the Hive. Basically, Alice needs to save humanity from extinction, and the answer to that problem (as well as answers for questions she and the audience have had for years) lie where it all started. Below the bombed-out remains of Raccoon City, in the Hive.

PROS:

  • It was great to go back to Raccoon City and the Hive. It felt appropriate, given that's where the virus escaped.

  • We finally learn Alice's origin story.

  • How she survived all the previous movies is explained.

  • The visuals were stunning.

  • The action scenes were well choreographed.

  • The movie tied up many previous loose ends nicely.

  • We finally find out the true origin of the T Virus.


CONS:

  • There felt like too much action and not enough plot. I would have liked to learn more about Alice, Wesker, Dr. Isaacs, and Claire Redfield.

  • Where did everyone go?! Luther. Jill Valentine. Ada Wong. Leon Kennedy. Chris Redfield. If this movie picks up from where the last one left off, what happened to everyone?! You can't expect me to believe they all conveniently died off!

  • How the hell are the zombies running?! When did that happen!?

  • MOAR CREATURES! I was hoping for much more mutated obstacles and hellbeasts.

  • I was hoping to see some of the creatures from the first film make an appearance, only  more badass and mutated than they were at first.

  • What happened to DC?! In the penultimate movie, Resident Evil: Retribution, Wesker gets Alic & Co. to come to DC for humanity's final stand. I would have at least liked to see what happened. Even for a few minutes!


I'm a fan of the franchise, so I'm going to go full-tilt fangirl and say that the movie was a blast. I'm extremely glad I got to see it on the big screen, and even happier that it was left open-ended. I wouldn't mind if the franchise kept going. I know Resident Evil: The Final Chapter just came out in theaters, but I can't wait to own it! That way I can have a weekend-long marathon with all movies included!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nightmares, I tell you!

I know this is probably common knowledge, considering I run a review website dedicated to horror and sci-fi, but it bears repeating. I love horror. To the point where I live it. My library walls and shelves are covered with all sorts of horror paraphernalia, and Edward Gorey lithographs hang in my living room. My movie collection is basically a wasteland if you don't like horror. The same for sci-fi. The point I'm trying to prove is that it's been quite some time since I've had nightmares based on what I've read. When you read about zombies and monsters and all other manner of horror all the time, it's hard to be shocked.

I thought those days were over, to be honest. But then I started The ePocalypse: emails at the end. From the first day until the last, I had nightmares. The stories are all told in an email format, where the reader is given a collection of exchanges between people and that makes up the story. The Kindle version is 450 pages long, and as you can see with all the author names in my keywords section for this post, the talent is varied and strong. (You may see some familiar names....Suzanne Robb, Adrian Chamberlin, and Bowie Ibarra stood out for me. The ones you don't recognize will still make an impact on you, and leave you wanting to read more of their works!)

For such a specific topic, the emails are surprisingly varied. They are between coworkers, estranged lovers, friends, enemies, families, friends, and just about anyone you can think of. As to the apocalypses themselves, they're also varied. The standards are there: chemical warfare, biological warfare, human stupidity, disease, starvation, natural disaster, etc. Everything you would expect. Then there are some really out-there stories, that work purely because they're so damnably absurd, but treated so realistically. There are mole people who come up from the Earth and destroy people. Disease cures gone wrong. Astronauts trapped in space trying to fight a fungus-like growth. A few religious fanatics. And my favorite, killer kudzu. That's right....a bio-engineered and very pissed off strain of groundcover plant goes postal. It's reminiscent of one of my favorite movies, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, wherein a plant goes bonkers and attacks a family.

This book, in Kindle format, is 450 pages long, and I plowed through it in a matter of days. I couldn't put it down. My Kindle was literally hitting me in the face as I was struggling to read it. I was going into work with burning eyes and slurred speech. I regret nothing.

Even if this doesn't seem like your kind of book, read it. Every single story is amazing. I never knew there were so many ways to end the world, and even though the glimpse we are given of the characters in each story is shorter than I'd like, it's enough to feel for them. Whether it's rage at their actions or denial, or you are empathizing with their loss. This book will tear your heart out, even as you're shitting yourself in terror!

 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Classic Zombie Lit

I have been friends with Rhiannon Frater via Facebook since 2013. Her posts are interesting and thought-provoking. Throughout the years, I've read posts on the different books she's written and have always promised myself that I would give them a read. She has several series that I've been wanting to pick up, but haven't been able to choose where to start.

When my Kindle died and I got the Paperwhite, I had to reorganize my books. I realized I already owned The Living Dead Boy, so I decided to give it a try. I couldn't put it down. To be honest, I can't remember the last time I was so freaked out by a zombie novel. I've read so many and seen so many movies, that, while still enjoyable, I don't find myself really scared anymore.

The Living Dead Boy starts out standard enough. Josh watches the news, and he knows the zombie apocalypse is starting. It's not civil unrest, it's neither riots nor protests. It's the beginning of the end. The problem is that nobody will believe him. Not even the members of the Zombie Hunters Club, that meet to spar and prepare for the end of the world. His mom and dad are sure he's just acting out to cope with the stress of the family's financial situation. While at school, there is a crash on the nearby highway. The principal goes to investigate, and Josh's worry goes into overdrive. He knows this is how every zombie movie starts. With people innocently trying to help the infected. His fears are confirmed when the principal comes back bloody, and orders the evacuation of the school. From there, everything disintegrates rapidly.

What Rhiannon brings to the table is raw emotion. She creates palpable tension between Josh and his younger brother, Drake, whom he resents for getting most of his parent's affection. (And for getting him in trouble, as younger brothers will do!) There's a scene in particular that I had to reread several times, because it was so deeply troubling. The kid's bus has crashed and they've escaped. As they're going down the road, Josh looks back and sees a zombie dragging itself towards them. Hungrily. Inexorably. It's everything a zombie story should be.

There are more really freaky scenes, but I don't want to deprive the reader of the ghoulish fun of reading The Living Dead Boy for themselves! Not to mention, there's a sequel that's already available. It's called Lost in Texas: The Living Dead Boy 2. Reading the quick synopsis on amazon.com, it looks like Josh and his friends aren't out of the water yet. The second book finds them travelling through a zombie-infested Texas looking for safety.

If you're looking for a genuinely scary book with loads of heart, do yourself a favor and pick up The Living Dead Boy. Make sure to leave a review on amazon.com, goodreads.com, and anywhere else you can.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Is it ready yet? Is it ready yet? Is it ready yet?

I recently read All Souls Day by Martin Berman-Gorvine, and reviewed it for this site. (Read the review here!) Then, do yourself a favor and go purchase it here. I finished this book in a matter of days. It's a helluva page-turner, and it leaves you absolutely salivating for more.

Luckily, it's part of a series called The Days of Ascension. The next book in the series hasn't been published yet, so you still have more than enough time to go and read the first book, then peruse the rest of Martin's works.

Martin was kind enough to send me a 7 page teaser of the next book, Days of Vengeance. Holy mackerel! I'm going bonkers dying to know what happens next! Talk about a cliffhanger! Even though this isn't the final copy, we pick up right where we left off in the last book. Our surviving characters trying to figure out how to move on, and what to make of their shattered lives and relationships. To that end, I'm going to say "holy shit!" because the characters have found themselves in a hellish interpersonal tangle. One that I do not envy them for one single iota! I wish I could say more, but Martin has me on a gag order not to give too much away, and I don't want to spoil the ending of the first book.

Along with the book teaser, Martin sent me an image of the cover. The art is by Christian Bentulan, whose work I was previously unacquainted with. If you peruse his website, you will find a variety of covers. He sells both pre-made and custom covers.

Christian's work is original, and done by photo manipulation. His pre-made covers go for $50, and are so interesting that I wish there were a story behind them so I could read it. (For my author friends out there looking for a really standout cover artist, his FAQ states he will hold a pre-made image for 7 days free of charge while you consider. Sounds like a steal to me!)

While on his site, you can also take a look at his past work. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but I am more than willing to look into some of these books solely based on their cover art.

If you're looking for a wild ride of a read, pick up Martin's All Souls Day, so you can begin the countdown to the release of Day of Vengeance. If you're looking for a smashing book cover, check out Christian's pre-mades, or have him custom design one of your own (starting at $150).

 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Navigating the Kindle Paperwhite

I was thrilled to receive my Kindle Paperwhite in the mail yesterday. I took it out, synced it with GoodReads.com, and started trying to figure it out. I can say right off the bat that I love it's sleek new design and touch screen. I'm also in love with the cover that I picked out for it, even though I'm not usually a fan of pastels.

When I bought the Paperwhite, it was supposed to be intuitive. For the most part that's been true, except for a few features that were harder to figure out than I had hoped (or expected). I consider myself a capable technology user, as I work as a computer professional. However, there were a few instances I went online for answers to questions I couldn't figure out. I as also dismayed that there wasn't really a catch-all webpage or help link that answered everything. I searched by several criteria, just to make sure that the problem with the search results wasn't me. (This also surprised Tkout, because normally I prefer to ask him for technology help, rather than head into the vastness of the Internet.) As you can see from the picture on the left, it's a very hot item in this house! Both Zelda and Chloe want to get their paws on my Kindle Paperwhite!

Below are some of the features I struggled with, and how to overcome them. If you haven't purchased the Kindle Paperwhite yet, I highly recommend it. It's a great investment, even if it takes you a little bit to get used to it.

  • Collections. Managing my collections had my absolutely shouting obscenities, but I'm going to own up to it and say that it's totally my fault. There are a couple of ways to manage your collections, but so far, I've only dealt with books I've purchased via Amazon. (There are ways to include books purchased elsewhere, but I haven't tinkered with that yet.)

    • The Hard Way: You can manually add books to collections by holding your finger down on the title and waiting for the dialog box. However, this can add to mistakes such as opening the book, removing it from the device, and other missteps.

    • The Easy Way: Let Amazon.com do the work for you! Follow these steps:

      • Open amazon.com (or smile.amazon.com, if you're donating to a charity)

      • On the right, hover over Accounts & Lists, which will open up another menu

      • Under Your Account, go to Manage Your Content and Devices






In this menu, you'll see all of the books that you've purchased, or are shared with you if you share an Amazon account within a household. From there, you can add books to collections in batches of 10, you can delete books, or send them to other registered devices. You can also register and deregister devices on the account. That's where I deregistered my old Kindle, registered my new Kindle, and changed the device's name. If you have your kindle open while you're making the changes, you can see it happen with only a few second delay. (However, to show the new device name, I had to reboot my Kindle. Not a big deal, but just mentioning it.)

  • Backing out of a book. I was able to open books to read them, but I didn't know how to get back to the home screen. Since I was a dedicated Apple user for years, I automatically looked for the home button. As it turns out, when you're reading, the menu containing the home button and other options is hidden. If you lightly tap the top of the screen, the menu drops down. You can go to the store, bookmark your place, go home, back out of the book and go to the collection, etc. Neither hard, nor an inconvenience. Once you know what you're doing. If you decide you don't want to do anything in the menu, gently tap once anywhere on the book and the menu will close.


I realize that struggling with two features isn't the end of the world, but they are, in my humble opinion, two of the most important features of the Kindle. Most people like to organize their books, and certainly it's important to be able to get out of a book and go back to the home screen.

While trying to overcome my obstacles, I stumbled on some features that I really enjoy. Such as the ability to change the font of the book. At first, I thought that was just kitschy and neat. I didn't realize how much easier it would make the books to read. You can also choose whether or not your progress will be measured in page numbers or as a %. You can also choose to have your GoodReads.com lists display on your home screen.

I can't say enough about how much I love my Kindle Paperwhite. I can't believe that it took me so long to catch on to the electronic book craze, but here I am. What format do you prefer? Do you have a Kindle or other e-reader? Let me know in the comments!

Eating Crow

In January 2011, my boyfriend and I were sitting in his room. He handed me a large brown Amazon box. My eyes lit up, thinking that he went onto my Wishlist and ordered me a box full of books. I opened it, and my jaw dropped. Inside was a green, faux leather-clad nemesis. The Kindle Keyboard. I had ranted and ranted and ranted for days about how much I hated the idea of electronic books the first time Tkout had brought the idea up. He posited that I could more easily read books and then review them if I had a Kindle. I swore up and down that I would never abandon "real books". In fact, I almost broke up with him over it, because I thought that he didn't understand me. That he was trying to change the core of who I was.

A few months ago, as 2016 slogged to a close, I rediscovered my Kindle. I rearranged the books on it, discovered a host of books I had meant to read, and began to take it to work with me. I became quite attached to it. I loved watching the reading progress at the bottom of the book. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, as did moving the book from the Currently Reading book list to the Charnel House Reviews: Read book list.

The first days of 2017 were largely uneventful. The weekend of our anniversary and my birthday, my now-beloved Kindle died. I was outraged and incredulous. I had barely used it! I went straightaway to Amazon to order another one. (In front of Tkout who couldn't stop laughing.)

My Kindle Paperwhite arrived Monday. It's Tuesday, and I've barely been able to put it down. I'm voracious when it comes to learning the features, and was delighted when I found out that I could sync it with GoodReads.com, which I have been using more and more. In the picture on the left, you'll see the bigger, greener Kindle Keyboard. Laying next to it is the sleek, super sexy Kindle Paperwhite. (Not gonna lie, I totally feel badass holding it. Even though the case IS paste...)

I absolutely love my new Kindle, but there is a distinct learning curve, despite Amazon's promise that it's intuitive. It is, but only to a point. (If, like me, you're finding the learning curve to be a bit daunting, I will be posting soon about overcoming the obstacles. Stay tuned!) I am obsessed with the cover, the size, and the screen. It's far superior to my Kindle Keyboard, even though I will admit that I miss that first Kindle. It was clunky, basic, and a token of my future husband's love. And as much as I hate admitting it, it's a symbol to me that he knew me better than I knew myself.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Anyone up for a little Virgin Sacrifice?

I've been sitting here at my computer for fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to begin this review. I don't want to give away any plot spoilers and deprive the reader of the sheer force of the gut punch that Martin Berman-Gorvine delivers. On the other hand, I am all but bursting with excitement to tell you about this book.

I consider myself to be well-read in the horror genre, and All Souls Day by Martin Berman-Gorvine still knocked me on my ass. Hardcore. The story takes place in an alternate 1985, where the Cuban Missile Crisis actually triggered World War III. The war laid waste to the United States, paving the way for the ancient god Moloch to rise. If the name sounds familiar, Moloch was mentioned in the Old Testament, where his worship is expressly forbidden. (A quick Internet search reveals that Moloch was closely associated with child sacrifice, if that's any indication of the mindset of his followers!) A closed off suburb of Philadelphia, Chatham's Forge, is run by the evil Pastor Justin Bello, who rules as the right hand of Moloch. Any other worship is forbidden, causing Jews and Christians to hide their true religions. If they don't, Pastor Justin will make a terrible example of them, because public torture and execution are alive and flourishing in Chatham's Forge. Moloch himself guards the suburb, and has insidious ways of dissuading the inhabitants from leaving and joining the "muties" outside the wall. As is true in so many societies, there is a fierce us vs. them component, and the townspeople are led to believe anyone outside the wall is a horrific mutant. Corrupted by the nuclear war and the absence of their god, Moloch. This allows for raids into the wasteland, where the muties are captured, raped, and killed with reckless abandon by the raiders.

In the middle of this hellish society are our main characters. They are stymied by a caste system that keeps everyone in a high school mindset for their entire lives. There are Nerds, Jocks, Nice Girls, Sluts, Jesters, and Punks. While it's possible to be demoted to a lower caste, it's impossible to be promoted, and just as impossible to date outside your caste.

Nerd Amos longs to openly date Nice Girl Suzie. It doesn't seem fair that his friend Tom, a Jester, can openly date Suzie's best friend, fellow Nice Girl Vickie. Throughout the story, Amos, Suzie, Tom, and Vickie struggle against the harsh caste system, the oppressive rule of Pastor Justin, and the rebellion and resentment they feel towards Moloch. At prom, the alpha Nice Girl is chosen to be the virgin sacrifice for Moloch. She is taken to an old armory known as the Castle, where she lives in isolation for five months before being served up to Moloch, tied to the hood of a car. As if that weren't bad enough, Moloch isn't exactly quick in terms of accepting his sacrifice. The virgin sacrifice faces a gruesome and agonizing death, and all so that Moloch will leave the rest of the people alone, perpetuating the survival of the sick and twisted society.

All Souls Day was an absolutely amazing book. I couldn't put it down, and raced through it in a matter of days. The whole time I read it, my mouth hung open. Martin is very detailed in terms of his world building, but not so much as to be intrusive. Instead of setting the story with the entire layout of the world, he lets the reader take it in, a little at a time. It's so complete, and it feels like everything is accounted for. The part that floored me the most was the treatment of religion. One of the main characters is Jewish, and the family practices in secret. Rather than expressly stating it, Martin left little clues here and there, until finally the subject of Hanukkah is breached. As it turns out, there are practicing Jews and Christians stuck in the midst of the others. They are forced to hide, as has happened so many times in history. Jews are considered extinct, and I use the word because they are spoken of as almost another species entirely by the people who worship Moloch. I wasn't expecting that level of detail, because most of the time authors merely state what's going on in the world of their characters. Martin brings it to the reader, and dumps it on their lap, forcing them to confront the harsh reality that the characters live in.

When I finished the book, I immediately emailed Martin, and sure enough, this is not a standalone. I am itching for the next book to be released, because the ending of All Souls Day is not only a complete shock, but I'm dying to know what happens to the characters next. In the spirit of fairness, I will say that Martin approached me two years ago with an advanced reader copy, in exchange for an honest review. Personal circumstances caused me to put the book aside, and I only recently was able to read it. I am kicking myself for not having read it sooner. I also plan on delving further into Martin's catalog in order to see what other gems he's been hiding.

I can't recommend All Souls Day by Martin Berman-Gorvine strongly enough. Whether or not you like alternative history, horror, or romance, you NEED to read this book. It's engrossing, engaging, horrifying, and ultimately satisfying.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Wowza!

I was familiar with Suzanne before I was familiar with her writing. We met because we had several mutual friends on Facebook, and both of our profile lokipictures featured our Boston Terriers. (On the right, you'll find a picture of Loki, Suzanne's Boston, serving as her PR manager.) That got us talking, and that's how I found out she was a talented author, and she found out I was a voracious reader with a penchant for reviewing.

Suzanne is quite the writer. I've read different series by her, as well as stories she's published in anthologies. If pressed, it would be hard to come up with a favorite. That is, until she sent me a copy of Dead by Midnight. In the interest of being fair, I did receive a reviewer copy, but it was with the understanding that my review would be honest. Whether scathing or glowing.

I can honestly say that Dead by Midnight is now my favorite of her titles. I first came across the zygote of the story in Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My! She took what she started, and drew it out not only to full length, but is planning a series. (Amazon already has Dead by Midnight listed as Volume 1.)

The story is rich and the plot is involved. Elliot is the new Chief and detective in Logansville. He partners up with tenacious paranormal reporter Lucy Lane in order to crack the case of a serial killer that's been sending body parts in jars to the police department. Lucy names the serial killer The Moonlight Killer, because he kills during the full moon, and the body parts arrive afterward.

dead-by-midnightAlso tangled up in the plot is Zach Harris, who is a student living with a weirdo and a clingy, gold-digging girlfriend. When he's not studying, or buying things for his ungrateful girlfriend, he's working as a shot boy at Shakers, the local gay bar. Even though he's straight, it's good money, and the employees all think he's the bee's knees. As if Zach weren't living life on the edge as is, one night he's bitten by a werewolf. During the attack, he bites a chunk out of the werewolf's ear. From there, it gets weird.

When the moon is full, Zach becomes a werewolf, while the wolf becomes a man. (Were-man?) During the rest of the time, the wolf follows him around as his pet dog, Buddy. At first Lucy believes a werewolf is the killer, but when she deduces that Zach is a werewolf, she changes her mind. Elliot has enough trouble believing Zach is a werewolf, let alone that the mayor is a vampire, and the whole town is steeped in the paranormal in one way or another.

The race is on - for Zach to clear his name, Elliot to find and stop the killer, and Lucy to find out why Zach has been acting so weird, and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the serial killer. Time is running out, every day closer to the full moon is a day closer to the killer striking again!

Dead by Midnight is an engrossing read. The plot is complex, but not to the point of losing the reader. The characters are multi-dimensional and extremely interesting. The supporting characters are just quirky or interesting enough to be remembered, but not to the point of outshining the principal characters. (Suzanne - bring back Ramon and the rest of the Shakers gang in the next books, please!) There are a few red herrings as to who the killer is, but that's good. I don't like reading books where the plot is so thin you see every twist and turn as its happening. Even though I read the zygote story before, it was still a surprise for me when I discovered who the killer was. I have to say, I wasn't expecting that character!

I'm also eternally grateful that Suzanne didn't just end the story after the climactic fight between the good guys and the serial killer. (That's right - no spoilers!) Sometimes books do that - they just drop off and don't go anywhere. Suzanne followed up with the characters and set the stage for the next book. I can't wait to see where she goes from there!

In the meantime, if you're wanting to keep up with the adventures of Lucy Lane, reporter, follow her at her blog, All Things Strange and Unusual. If you're looking to find out more about Suzanne, head to her blog here. When you're on her blog, don't forget to sign up, during which you'll receive a complimentary short story pack including the story that would become Dead by Midnight. (I read it when it first came out, the stories are awesome!)

Once you've read Dead by Midnight, be sure to head on over to Amazon.com and leave a review. Reviews help writers keep doing what they love best!

Soothing the Beasties with Screams

The first pet we adopted when we moved into our new house was Chloe, our Bengal cat. We got her right after we moved in. We tried to add another cat, but she wouldn't put up with it. A year ago, we decided to adopt a Boston Terrier, that we named Zelda. They were alright with each other, but not friends yet. Zelda enjoyed (and still does) pulling Chloe around by her ears, and Chloe for the most part took it in stride. As time goes by, they've gotten closer. The last few weeks, after I was stuck in bed for a week solid with a strep throat infection, they started to make peace with each other. Even though I'm better and have since gone back to work, they are getting closer still. Zelda cries if Chloe isn't in the bedroom with us when we go to bed, and when we wake up, if Chloe has spent the night in the basement, she makes sure we let her out so she can see her friend.

A new development that Tkout and I are really pleased with has been their penchant for snuggling. Although they aren'tpuddle quite a cuddlepuddle, they are still inching closer. We joke that they're trying hard to keep up appearances like they aren't friends. I think the real issue is that Zelda still has puppy tendencies, and sometimes gets a little too ardent, which results in her dragging Chloe around by the ear. If you're Zelda was hanging out, and Chloe decided to get up on the futon and snuggle with her. (Our futon is always down like a bed, and yes, I am a compulsive sheet-straightener.)

The entire week that I was sick, I layed on the futon in our finished basement and watched horror movies. More accurately, I layed there like a sack of potatoes while the fuzzies watched the movies. Now that I am no longer sick, they still hang out on the futon, and when they are restless, Tkout and I can rely on a few movies to keep their attention. (I'm not making this up - they really do sit and watch movies!) Some they prefer more than others, but the list of Comfort Movies that they seem to enjoy best are...

FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) - I'm honestly not sure why the fuzzies love this movie so much. It could have something to do with the nonstop action and killer soundtrack. All I know is that once it goes on the TV, they both lay down and watch.

ALIEN (1979) - Chloe seems interested in what Jonesy, the space-cat, is up to. As for Zelda, this is one of her sleeper movies. I can count on her grabbing a chew toy, settling in on the futon, and falling asleep in about 20 minutes.

dreamcatcherDREAMCATCHER (2003) - This fast-paced Stephen King sci-fi flick is always a good one for getting the fuzzies settled down. Clocking in at an impressive 2 hours and 16 minutes, I think the reason they prefer this movie is they know they are guaranteed a long snuggle session.

AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) - This is another guaranteed snuggle session whenever it goes on the TV. Other than that, I think they enjoy the werewolf noises, and the people panicking. (Chloe, especially, seems enamored of people in a state of panic.)

JAWS (1975) - This movie takes place on land, on the sea, and in a boat. There's lots of action, and colorful characters. Not to mention an awesome orchestral soundtrack. Chloe and Zelda make it about halfway, before they both fall asleep. But putting the movie on almost always brings them to the futon.

What movies do your fuzzies enjoy watching?

 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Gummies, Sharks, and Stupid People OH MY!

jawsI was beyond thrilled when I found out that Phoebe had never seen JAWS before. When I was a kid, it was my absolute all-time favorite movie. Every Easter, TBS would show JAWS as part of it's animal-themed horror movie marathon. When my parents got me the VHS, I was in my glory. I knew all the trivia. I could recite all the lines, including Quint's harrowing story of the USS Indianapolis. Hell, I used to clean my room while listening to the soundtrack on CD, and recite the dialogue.

I was absolutely over the moon when Phoebe and I got ready to watch JAWS. I made birthday cake and white chocolate popcorn with shark gummies for our snack. (I don't care if you judge me or not, I used to be a teacher. I have no children. I miss being a teacher, and I get overboard excited whenever Phoebe comes over to watch a movie.) We had the living room set up, and Zelda snuggled with us.

I explained that the movie was made in 1975, so in some ways she'd have to lower her expectations of the movie's special effects. I told her that the shark was an actual metal construction, NOT CGI. I also told her that part of it was filmed in a backyard pool, and she asked me to point that part out. (If you're wondering, it's when they find Ben Gardner's boat chewed to hell and back and the head pops out of the bottom of the boat. Classic!) I also told her that the metal shark prop, Bruce, didn't behave at all. It kept sinking and got messed up from the salt water exposure during filming. That last part wasn't very exciting to her, except that she questioned the intelligence of the special effects crew, since they kept using a faulty prop.

Phoebe was absolutely not having it right from the beginning. She chastised Chrissy for boatgoing swimming at night in the ocean and the guy who was with her for being stupid drunk. I think what got to her the most was how preventable the whole scene was. If Chrissy hadn't gone swimming in the dark, at night, by herself, she would have been alright. Phoebe also decided that had she not been hanging around with someone who was so drunk, they might have talked her out of going into the water in the first place. She pointed out how dangerous it is anyway, especially considering that boats can't see you when it's dark.

Right around the time when the town meeting is called, Phoebe had hit her limit. She turned to me and said, "Why don't they kill the shark already?! If it's that much of a problem, kill it!" Her outburst came about 15 seconds before Quint verbally flays the townspeople for their stupidity. She was stupefied when they argued with Quint about killing the shark. She thought he was the most capable (if not batshit crazy) person in the room. (Which, when you think about it, isn't really saying much considering how long it took for the townspeople to decide to do something about the shark.) When the Mayor wimps out and doesn't hire Quint, P decided that he was going to get what he deserved, since he wasn't doing what he should to protect the townspeople and the tourists.

Even though she's seen CGI shark movies before (Sharknado, ugh!), she really liked the death scenes. She thought they were really well done. Especially the guy in the estuary whose boat gets tipped over. She was impressed with the effect of the shark creeping up and snagging the guy off the side of the boat.

She wasn't too thrilled about Quint, but that's because she didn't buy into the shark jumping onto the boat. She figured if that's all it took, the shark could have done that in the beginning and ended the movie right there. However, once Quint was in the jaws of the shark, she was all in again!

What bothered her even after we turned off the movie, was the human element. When Hooper is examining Chrissy's remains, Phoebe thought it was terribly obvious that a shark had killed her. She didn't understand why it took a "shark expert" to figure it out. Phoebe has a really good heart, and I hated explaining to her that people don't always do what's right for everyone. There are people that are only out for what they can get. She was shocked that people would put other's lives at risk, but I told her that you can't underestimate a selfish person.

Phoebe really enjoyed watching JAWS. She's curious about the sequels, especially when I told her that in one of them, a shark takes out a plane. Since she enjoyed JAWS, Jurassic Park, and Arachnophobia, I asked her if she wanted to see Deep Blue Sea, which is one of my guilty pleasures as horror movies go. We will have to wait until everyone's in bed, because Dipper hates that movie. Tkout might be up for it though. (Yes, I have forewarned her that it contains CGI effects, and has a paper thin storyline. But hey - Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Jane, and CGI sharks!)

 

 

 

Good morning!

Well, here we are, six days into 2017. So far, so good. The worst of it was a week I spent in bed with an upper respiratoryhappynewyearmonsters-sm infection, courtesy of this crazy weather we've been having.

Before getting into any new posts, I thought I would take a moment and get us set up and ready. (Old habits die hard - especially for teachers!) I've decided to make some improvements, part of what Dipper and I call The Reclamation. I may have alluded to it in previous posts, but it's the idea of reclaiming who you are after a particularly rough period in your life. It's like resolutions, but more long-lasting.

Here are mine...

  • BETTER HEALTH. I am focusing on making the changes that I can make and stick to. For example, I'm on a 3-day streak of making my own breakfast before leaving for work. So far, what I've noticed is that I'm not starving by lunch, and my bank account has a little bit more padding. I'll be adding biking and swimming at the gym when I'm better and fully over the aforementioned upper respiratory infection.

  • MOAR BOOKS. You can never have too many books! I joined Goodreads.com's book challenge, stating by the end of 2017, I want to have read 79 books. I haven't finished one yet, but I'm making good progress. I also want to sit in front of my bookshelves at some point and categorize all my books on Goodreads.com, so that I have everything catalogued. (Oh! And I also fell in love with my Kindle, some seven years after Tkout bought it for me. It's never too late!)

  • CROCHET ALL THE THINGS! I still owe some crochet gifts to people for Christmas, and I was working on a 2016 temperature blanket. I want to finish those items, and then move forward. I miss learning new stitches, and I am embarrassed to admit that I have 12 bins of yarn. I want to plow through that, because nobody in their right mind needs that!

  • MOAR REVIEWS! I owe book reviews to a few authors. Now that my life is balancing out from my 2016 year in hell, I intend to make good on my review promises. And sooner. Reviews will be on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, and of course, here on CharnelHouseReviews.com.

  • GROW UP. My husband and I have been in our house for four years. It's time to really take stock of what I have, get rid of what's no longer useful, and make space. Not to mention, I'm still bringing stuff over from my parent's house. Most of which is from my teaching career.

  • NO MOAR DRAFTS. Before writing this post, I almost worked on a previous post from last Easter. But I decided my 2017 Declaration of Intent post should be first. I want to sort through my post drafts, finish some, trash others, and then start new in the new year.


Let's make this year super groovy!

 

2016 Year on Goodreads.com

A few months ago, I became active again on Goodreads.com. If you're unfamiliar with the site, I highly recommend checking it out. You can log books that you are reading, want to read, and have read. You can also write reviews for books. You can create digital bookshelves to organize your books, as well as recommend books to others. Many authors are on Goodreads.com as well, which is pretty cool considering you can interface with them, see what they're reading, and see what books of theirs you're missing. (If you want to connect with me, I am searchable on the site. My name is listed as Holly Ann, and the email address is deadaeris@gmail.com.)

I also participated (albeit late) in a reading challenge. I figured why not, since I enjoy posting my reading progress on the site, which it then uploads to Facebook as well. This year, I made my goal 79, which I'm sure I'll surpass, since I'm allowing graphic novels and young adult fiction to be counted as well.

The site also does a round-up at year's end, giving you stats about what you read. Here's a screenshot of my 2016 year. (I declined to screenshot the section showing the covers of the books I've read. I'm just including my stats.)

goodreads2016

Prior to this challenge, I didn't realize just how many books I read each year. I'm sure this year was a little heavier, because I was borrowing so many graphic novels from Dipper. However, it gives me a real sense of pride at my literary accomplishment. Especially considering 2016 was my own private hell in terms of personal (and family) illnesses.

I'm looking forward to seeing what this new year brings, both in terms of expanding my literary tastes, and also in terms of what new friends I might meet. And if you happen to see me on Goodreads.com, add me and let's be friends!