Monday, 31 March 2014

Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher

3.5 stars

After being a good girl and reading a classic it's time for my reward, which naturally means more Harry Dresden. Be warned - if you haven't yet read Changes it's time to click away, as here be spoilers...

Things have changed a lot for Harry since Changes...for one thing, he's dead. But, being Harry, that doesn't mean his troubles are anywhere near over and before he's been in the Inbetween for five minutes he's been sent on a mission - to solve his own murder and protect his friends. Lacking a body, Harry finds he's also somewhat lacking in mojo but that's not about to stop him. Even if that means risking dying. Again.

While some things have changed in the Dresden universe - as well as Harry being dead there is now a new, formidable group called the Fomors who are filling the vacuum left by the annihilation of the Red Court, and virtually no-one that Harry left behind is in a good place - thankfully the excitement hasn't diminished for me thanks to all of the usual twists, turns and heart-racing action scenes (including an awesome ghostly version of the D-Day landings). This one also included some more quietly touching moments that must have made the room dusty because I totally wasn't crying, I swear...

The only down side for me was the ending, and the reason that Harry's body was never found. While it's not really much of a down side (I'm glad that it can only mean a return to a state that will allow for a continuation of the storyline I was so invested in before death intervened), it's also made everything I've just read a little redundant.

Still, it's not enough to keep me from diving straight into Cold Days.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Thank you (yes, you!)

A year ago today I started this wee little blog, a place for me to come and rant about the books I'm reading, the films I'm watching, and whatever else pops into my head to stop me from sleeping at night. At the time I thought my only readers would pretty much be me and, occasionally, my mum. But 152 posts and nearly 20,000 hits later, it seems I was wrong (unless my mum is just really, really bored and those hits are all hers).

So, to everyone who's paid this site a visit over the last year, even if it was only to think 'never again!' and click straight back out again...


You guys...

So awesome I could break into a Rockwell dance any minute...

May all your days be sunny, your shirts be non-itchy, your weekends be long, and your therapist look like Mads Mikkelsen. You rock.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

16 years

16 years ago today, NikNak and I got together. So, in celebration, here are 16 films that were released that year...

1. The Big Lebowski.

We must have watched this one at least 1,000 times over the last 16 years, so this film really tied our relationship together.

For iPhone/iPad click here.

2. Rushmore

Kickstarting a shared adoration of Wes Anderson, further cementing my love for Bill Murray and inducting Jason Schwartzman into the hall of people who should be in everything...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

One day we will go to Vegas and recreate this film. I think I'd be NikNak's attorney...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

4. Blade

For my money, Blade is one of the best vampires ever thought up. And Wesley Snipes is one of the only action stars that I really believe could kick my head in.

For iPad/iPhone click here.

5. Antz

It may feel kinda yucky watching Woody Allen films these days, but he was the perfect choice to voice Z in a film that harks back to his earlier, funnier films.

For iPhone/iPad click here.

6. Taxi

Daniel is the best taxi driver, ever. And Samy Naceri should be in more things.

For iPhone/iPad click here.

7. The Faculty

Whatever happened to Josh Hartnett? Based on this I thought he was going to be great, but...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

8. Ringu

NikNak introduced me to Asian horror films, and my nightmares haven't been the same since...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

9. Armageddon

I don't care how stupid this film is, it's one of my guiltiest pleasures. And yes, I always cry at the end.

For iPhone/iPad click here.

10. Run Lola Run

While I'd like to be able to say I'd do the same for NikNak, I'm nowhere near as fit as Lola and after 5 minutes the rest of the film would just be me, turning purple and gasping for breath.

For iPhone/iPad click here.

11. Buffalo 66

Back in 1998 I had a thing for Vincent Gallo. I think it's because of the eyebrow ridge he shares with NikNak.

For iPhone/iPad click here.

12. Out of Sight

Also known as the only film in which J-Lo is any good at all...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

13. American History X

White supremacists are fucking terrifying...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

14. Saving Private Ryan

It's all bloody Matt Damon's fault...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

15. The Truman Show

NikNak had no idea when we got together just how many 'reality' shows I'd watch over the next 16 years...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

16. Godzilla

I don't think I've ever seen NikNak so excited as when he first saw this trailer. Sadly, his excitement didn't last throughout the film. Here's hoping Cranston helps pull it off better this time around...

For iPhone/iPad click here.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis

3 stars

Lucky Jim is one of those books that I would probably never have read if it wasn't included on virtually every 'Books You Must Read Before You Die' list I've seen. And whilst I definitely enjoyed it, to the point of laughing aloud in several places, I don't think I'd have really missed much had I carked it before finishing.

Jim Dixon is nearing the end of his probationary period as lecturer at a University and, despite disliking his subject and nearly everyone he comes into contact with, he's desperate to hang on to his job. So desperate that he'll do anything to suck up to Professor Welch, who has the power to decide the future of his employment, even to the point of hanging out with his awful family at pretentious parties and reluctantly squiring around Margaret, one of the family's hangers-on. It's only when Bertrand, Professor Welch's boorish son, arrives with an attractive young woman in tow that Jim's luck starts to change, and after a lot of face-pulling, telephone pranking and heavy drinking, he's finally ready to start shaking Margaret off and start going after what he really wants.

As I said in the beginning, this really was funny and enjoyable (especially once I could read more than two lines at a time. Up yours to work, housework, life and shit), and I can definitely identify with a character who finds interacting with most people either awkward or annoying. I just think I was expecting a bit more to it for such an apparent must-read.

I'm tired...

It's now been winter for about 10 years, but all that hibernation hasn't left me feeling refreshed. Instead I'm just tired. So very, very tired.

Too tired to read...

Too tired to watch TV...

Too tired  to eat...

...and after four months of doing this every day...

...I'm so tired of work that this could happen at any moment...

April and the new leave year had better hurry up.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

4 stars

The trouble with reviewing a book like Gone Girl is that you can't really say much about it without spoiling it for others. But I'll try...

When Nick's wife, Amy, disappears on the morning of their fifth anniversary, something seems a little off. Not at all the grieving husband, instead Nick spends his time lying to everyone and douchebagging around, and as the perspective switches between him in the days following her disappearance and Amy's diary entries in the years leading up to it, it starts to look more and more like Nick might not just be an asshole, but a murderer too. But are things really as they seem?

A book that keeps you second-guessing yourself the whole way through, knowing you're being manipulated into certain ways of thinking by unreliable and deeply unlikeable characters, and yet still compelling enough that I found myself staying up long into the night turning (virtual) pages, as layer after layer of lies was peeled away and the truth slowly emerged.

Gone Girl is now apparently being made into a movie by David Fincher - I personally think that Batffleck is rather a good choice for Nick (he has a perfectly smug beat-me mouth, don't you think?) but now I'm far more interested to see how they pull off Amy...

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Side Jobs, by Jim Butcher

3 stars

I've just realised that I've spent a month and a half reading nothing but Dresden. I'm turning into a bookier version of Superhans...

A few short side jobs from the case files of Harry Dresden, taking place from before Storm Front all the way up until after Changes (which you should definitely read first, as Aftermath deals with the, um, aftermath of a pretty huge plot development from that book), this was a fun diversion but didn’t make me feel anything near the brain-shrieking levels of glee that the series has been delivering lately.

My favourites were easily It’s My Birthday Too (as Harry attempts to give Thomas a birthday present, interrupts a game of vampire LARP and has to hit some bad guys with those gravity anvils that I love so much) and Backup (in which Thomas runs around trying to help Harry without him realising, and lets us in on the Oblivion War) although I swear I’m not a Thomas fangirl (my heart belongs to Toot). Our opener, A Restoration of Faith, was also notable in that it showed the germ of what would later come while also demonstrating just how much Butcher has improved over the years.

Not as much of a must-read as the series itself, but a pleasant way to spend a few days if jonesing for a quick fix of Harry. And on that note, it's probably time for a self-imposed intervention before I turn into Gollum.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Changes, by Jim Butcher

5 stars

Holy shit. Those stakes? Just got well and truly raised.

When Harry's ex-lover Susan Rodriguez calls, his world changes overnight. Finding himself in a truly desperate situation, he's forced to make hard choice after hard choice after hard choice...and still the best outcome he can hope for is bleak. I can't say any more than that without dropping a ton of spoilers but trust me, it's a doozy.

While not exactly the most fun entry in the series to date, this probably made it all the more effective for me and besides, just because Harry was having the worst time of his life it didn't mean there weren't moments that nearly made my head explode with glee. Including that cliffhanger, although that also had a dash of...

(and this, even though I'd known something like that might be coming thanks to a couple of hints in Bombshells)

I keep telling myself I'll read something else for a little while. But like any addict, I also keep telling myself, 'just one more...'