Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: In the Hall With the Knife (A CLUE Mystery #1) by Diana Peterfreund

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*No Major Spoilers*

When a storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students—including Beth “Peacock” Picach, Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Sam “Mustard” Maestor, Finn Plum, and Scarlet Mistry—are left stranded on campus with their headmaster. Hours later, his body is found in the conservatory and it’s very clear his death was no accident. With this group of students who are all hiding something, nothing is as it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder. Fans of the CLUE board game and cult classic films will delight in Diana Peterfreund’s modern re-imagining of the brand, its characters, and the dark, magnificent old mansion with secrets hidden within its walls.

“Just then, there was a horrible crash right outside the door, and suddenly the sound of the storm got a whole lot louder.”

I loved playing the CLUE mystery game while I was growing up. So when this novel was on a list from one of my newsletters, I knew I had to read it.

This novel is perfect for mystery lovers. There are twists and turns, as well as learning about all of the characters involved in this mystery. The story is told from different perspectives, and at first, it was difficult to tell Orchid and Scarlet apart until more character development helped me differentiate the two.

Scarlet Mistry, she was on the Council for Beautification. She lived, along with other students, in the Tudor Dorm. She would also try to keep up and boost morale with the female students to do better at their schoolwork and activities.

Also, she and Finn Plum were essentially a “Power Couple”, together they ran schemes and Finn helps Scarlet with her Chemistry homework.

Orchid McKee, she never saw Scarlet as a friend, but while they were snowed in at the dorm she confided in Scarlet her biggest secret. It’s a spoiler, but I felt like this should be mentioned because Orchid is a private person.

One of the characters I suspected to be the murderer in this story was Vaughn Green because when the other characters would ask about his sudden change in personality, he would internally blame his brother for the mishaps around the dorm. Even though when Vaughn was introduced we met his brother, he hated the school and the students because they were all preppy, rich kids and the only reason Vaughn was able to attend the school was because of a scholarship. So Vaughn was sort of considered an outcast because his home was next door to Blackbrook in the next town over. Only hearing about his brother during the murder investigation, I suspected Vaughn having multiple personalities.

A character I didn’t know much about in this story because he was introduced about halfway in the story was Sam “Mustard” Maestor. He was a former military academy student and he was kicked out, but we never find out why. The only thing we know anything about his background was when he was first introduced into the story from his perspective. He starts referring to his military experience but never says exactly why he was kicked out.

Beth “Peacock” Picach, is Blackbrook’s best tennis player. She is always righting down what she eats and the calories included and what her exercise routines were. All of her chapters included this log and a few thoughts about her day. She was the most suspected character due to an altercation between her and Headmaster Boddy.

I would highly recommend In the Hall with the Knife if you are a fan of locked room mysteries, the board game Clue, and a twist you won’t see coming, this a great book I’d highly recommend.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) by Kate Williams

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*No Major Spoilers*

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.

And lately, Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitter’s club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from a seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

Since it’s the Halloween season, and this happened to catch my interest, I thought this would be a lovely book to read to get me into the spooky season. So let’s begin my review of The Babysitters Coven!

I feel like the Young Adult genre is a hit or miss, in my opinion. I’ve read some good, bad, mediocre and everything in between. I understand that it’s the same for any group of novels. However, I would place The Babysitters Coven in the four stars category.

This novel reminded me of how integrated texting lingo has become. The characters often said LOL and OMG. I found it annoying, but then I had to remind myself that even I talk that way occasionally.

Even though the characters are younger than me, I could somewhat relate to Esme. She overthinks everything and hates gym class. Seeing her gain her confidence through learning about her newfound powers made me happy.

I didn’t like Cassandra though, she abuses her powers and doesn’t seem to care how it affects her or those around her. For instance, she and Esme go to a department store and Cassandra sets small fires to distract the employees so she can steal some name-brand jeans. Esme felt guilty even though she protested what Cassandra was doing throughout her crime.

However, I am interested to see if Cassandra learns the consequences of her magical mischief, or is she becomes a “bad guy” of her own. Whatever way Ms. Williams chooses will suit me just fine.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I guessed 1/2 of the mystery. So the other half surprised me and kept me engaged in the story overall. I love how this novel ends on a good note and leaves just enough to continue the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I found the story overall to be creative, and I felt the characters were real people and not cardboard. If you are fans of Young Adult paranormal, enjoy novels about witches, or just want an entertaining read, then I’d highly recommend The Babysitters Coven.

Read other Young Adult Reviews Here

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Vol. 1 by Akira Himekawa

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* No Major Spoilers*

Link, now a Hylian Knight, serves Princess Zelda at Hyrule Castle. When Shadow Link kidnaps Princess Zelda, Link once again must prepare himself to defeat the forces of evil. To do so, he needs the legendary Four Sword, but getting it means releasing and then battling the ancient evil power Vaati. The Four Sword also splits Link into four different versions of himself, and these new Links aren’t team players! Rescuing Zelda, beating Vaati, and getting his wild alter-egos under control isn’t going to be easy!

I enjoy the lore behind The Legend of Zelda series. However, I find most of the games to be boring. I prefer to watch someone else play the games in the background while I sleep. So I have been wanting to review one of The Legend of Zelda mangas for a long time now, so let’s dive into this adventure series!

First off, I watched a collaborative let’s play on YouTube with some of my favorite YouTube personalities. It was fun watching them trying to cooperate with each other. The four of them with their own unique playstyles trying to figure out the game and its puzzles were interesting and brought me a lot of joy.

Now back onto the book. The first thing I noticed and really enjoyed was that they actually gave Link a vocal personality and that he had the title of a Knight in Hyrule and his dad was the one in charge of the Knights of Hyrule. This change of pace from the games was something of a refreshing take on the series outside of Link and his “HYAA! HEY! YAA!”

With all of the aspects of the various personalities of Link unleashed by the Four Sword, Green Link, the original Link, has to keep the 4 of them from getting side-tracked. The other three Links outside of the Green one wore a different color tunic and hat. the red one had more of a laid back personality, the blue one was really angry and feisty, and the purple one was more of the nerdy researcher if I understood that right based on the descriptions. With these personalities, they had to work together to save the Princess, a very arduous task considering that Dark Link kept antagonizing by trying to separate them.

If you want to know more about the story than what I’ve put here, then you’re just going to have to pick up the book and read it. This is a good read and I’d definitely recommend it to any Legend of Zelda fan and or a fan of manga.

Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

MOVIE REVIEW: Joker (2019)

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*Minor Spoilers here*

Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker. -IMDb

The never-ending battle between Batman and Joker is a good vs. evil scenario that will continue into pop culture history. We all know the story of Batman. Ten-year-old Bruce Wayne witnesses the murder of his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Thus the beginning of our epic hero begins.

However, what do we know about the Joker’s backstory? How did this man descent into such madness and psychopathy to cause great harm to Gotham City?

Throughout the Joker’s comic history, his origin story keeps changing. He has told so many origin stories that he doesn’t remember which one is the correct one. So this somewhat ambiguous backstory gave the writers of Joker the freedom to create their telling of Joker’s beginning.

I had heard early reviews that this movie was a different take on the Joker character. I am up for a unique story or a different way to tell an origin story. However, when I watched this movie, I had found a movie that I needed to chew and digest.

First off, Gotham City is experiencing not only a garbage man strike but a bad financial recession. In the comics, Gotham City has always been portrayed as the ghetto or where lower-income families live. I feel these circumstances extenuate how not only how Arthur feels, but how the lower-income citizens feel.

This film came under a lot of controversy for “glorifying gun violence”. To a certain extent, I can understand where those people are coming from. The Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting caused a ripple effect when it comes to movies and portraying violence. On the other hand, where the Deadpool movie was just pure chaos. I felt like the people Arthur, and then Joker, murdered were meaningful and had a reason behind each one.

Of course, this brings up the issue that comes with all violent acts, real or fictional, where mental health is the main factor. People use gun violence because it’s a tangible concept “I can see a gun, and I’ve seen gunfire”.

Whereas the idea of mental health isn’t tangible to most people who are either uneducated in the matter or choose to ignore mental illnesses. “I can’t physically see mental disorders” or “I don’t know anyone with mental illnesses” plague the evergoing argument.

Joker is about a man with mental disorders. Life keeps throwing him hard balls, and he loses his sanity after he lost his job and can no longer afford his medication. He gives up on trying to hide his disorders and trying to just be satisfied with the way the world is in Gotham City. He lets the madness consume him.

Overall, I really enjoyed Joker the psychological aspects of this and my love of the comics made this movie my favorite movie of 2019.

Check out my other movie reviews here!

Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

DISCUSSION: My Thoughts on Doctor Who: Past, Revival, and Current Re-Generation

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Ever since I started this blog, I feel compelled to share my love of Doctor Who, however, I feel I’m constantly repeating myself when I’m reviewing a Doctor Who novel or audiobook. So I have finally gathered up my thoughts on Doctor Who in its entirety to share with you.

How I discovered Doctor Who

Back long, long ago, my ex-boyfriend told me his brother was watching Doctor Who on Netflix. It took me a couple of tries to watch the pilot episode of season 1 of the “reboot/current” series. But once I got past how the monsters were mannequins (hello another irrational fear) I binged the rest of the series.

Now that Doctor Who isn’t on any of the streaming services anymore, I missed 3 seasons of the show. It was Peter Capaldi’s run of the lovable Doctor. I feel like I didn’t miss too much since I follow the memes and humor on the Internet. As well as the fury about the writers changing things (thank goodness most of those were only temporary), and the downfall of the writing quality overall.

Classic Doctor Who

There is so much more of Doctor Who than anyone can keep up with. The show started in the ’60s and they had no idea how huge this small, low budget show would become. Thanks to the Internet, the reboot took off. With the addition of David Tennant and Matt Smith, the show would remain in the mainstream for years to come.

I love Classic Doctor Who and all of its cheesiness. I only just started watching Tom Baker’s Doctor before the streaming services stopped showing Doctor Who. There is so much left to watch, read, listen, and enjoy from this long-lasting franchise.

I like to watch my shows in chronological order, so I started with the man who started it all, William Hartnell’s Doctor. He was a grumpy, yet lovable grampa by the time Mr. Hartnell had to end his reign as the Doctor due to health issues.

Next is Patrick Troughton’s Doctor. I feel this incarnation of the Doctor has a lot of “missing” episodes/stories. I do own one of the DVDs of one of the lost stories, so some parts are filmed, and some parts are animated. Mr. Troughton’s Doctor is the one I know the least about personality-wise. He often refers to his “500-year journal” since his regeneration caused him some amnesia. One of his more popular companions is Jamie, a young man from 18th century Scotland. Even though a lot of what the Doctor does and talks about is beyond Jamie’s understanding, Jamie still enjoys the adventures and travels through time and space.

Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor in the classic series is one of my absolute favorites. One of my favorite quotes from him is

“Courage isn’ a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”

I’ve seen similar quotes to this, but this one struck a chord with me because when I first heard it I was going through a tough time and it helped me realize not every choice is an easy one, and no matter what you still have to make a choice.

Doctor Who Reboot

I have two main favorite doctors in the reboot/current series so far. Right now those favorites are the 9th and 10th Doctors played by Christopher Eccelston and David Tennant respectively. What I really enjoyed about these Doctors was their personalities, Mr. Eccelston and his sarcasm that he brought to the character was charming. Even though his stint on the show wasn’t long, he is still my Doctor. Mr. Tennant has a great sense of humor and adorable quirkiness. You can see his love for the franchise throughout his run. These two doctors were probably the most unique and interesting Doctors I’ve seen so far.

The Future of Doctor Who:

Right now as far as the current Doctor, Jodie Wittaker is a good actress, especially for the mediocre writing she’s been given, now that’s not to say that the current writing is very poor, but it leaves a lot to be desired. My favorite episode from the 11th season is The Demons of Punjab. The plot is:

The Doctor and her friends arrive in the Punjab, India, in 1947, as the country is being torn apart; while Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history, the Doctor discovers demons haunting the land.

This is my favorite episode because the story was interesting, the writing was better, and the cinemaphotography was gorgeous and made 1947 India a place to visit.

Going forward I’d like to see better writing and better use of the companions in each episode, for example, a companion getting tired and The Doctor brings them back to Earth for a break. Also, three companions seems a bit much for an hour-long TV Show.

Side note: My fiance thinks the audio mixing needs a bit of work, you can’t really understand much of what’s being said without a high-end audio system. Gotta make it work on All systems, ya know? -Alex Dickson (Fiance who loves his woman so very much he will surprise her on her birthday with something special, now with what, he doesn’t know yet, but he’ll figure something out.)

Read My Reviews of Doctor Who Novels and Audio Dramas HERE not all of these I realize are not Doctor Who directly, but other novels that remind me of the show.