Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Screen Time #8: Remakes all around


Happy Saturday, everyone! This week I got roped into watching two remakes by my husband. One I ended up really liking and the other was even worse than I expected it to be!


THIS WEEK IN FILM


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - This Jumanji remake/sequel had me a little scared to buy a ticket for a couple reasons: I loved the original and I wasn't positive how the video game aspects would work out. But my husband dragged me to see it and I'm happy to report that I did enjoy it a lot! I hadn't realized this wasn't a straight remake. Instead, it picked up right where the original Jumanji left off and there were little nods to the original throughout. I enjoyed the way the game changed to stay relevant and I LOVED watching all the adult characters become their teenage counterparts (except for Kevin Hart who played Kevin Hart). Is it a masterpiece? No, and it's also not as amazing as its predecessor, but I did really like it! I think this Jumanji will appeal to old and new fans alike. (4/5 stars)

The Mummy - I had absolutely no intentions of seeing this movie. Ever. So imagine my surprise when the red Netflix envelope came and this was inside instead of Mother! I had totally forgotten that Universal was planning this Dark Universe franchise, but I was reminded right from the opening credits. It's so bizarre to watch a movie that refuses to be its own thing and instead shoehorns in 57 new characters to build an entire universe. I'm no film expert, but it's stupid of these filmmakers to think that they can do what Marvel did over 10 years in one movie. Honestly, why do we need Jekyll and Hyde in a Mummy flick? The Mummy had no idea what it even was! Horror? Comedy? Action? Adventure? Not even the scriptwriters know! The Mummy herself looked amazing and I'll give it one star for her, but the movie is awful, I'm sad to say. A quick Google search revealed that most people must agree, because the Dark Universe seems to be dead. (1/5 stars)



Have you seen either of these? What did you think?
What movies have you watched lately?
Let me know in the comments!
Friday, January 19, 2018

ARC Review: The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye

Title: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2)
Author: Evelyn Skye
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 415

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Review for book 1

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves. 

Oh boy. Here I am again, reviewing a book that I hated. I reviewed The Crown's Game when it was first released and you can check out my review of that here. It was a giant disappointment to me for various reasons, but I thought I saw a glimmer of hope for the second book and decided to pick it up. I shouldn't have wasted my time.

Basically, everything I hated about the first book stuck around for book two. One of my biggest complaints about the first book was the overwhelming number of tropes the author used. But the most annoying trope of all was the love triangle. It was weird, completely pointless, and in the second book, it became very childish. It persisted through the WHOLE BOOK until there was magical resolution in the last few pages. Just POOF, suddenly there was no love triangle anymore. All the characters came to the realization at the same time. Ugh.

Now let's talk about the plot. I was greatly disappointed with the direction that the plot went in The Crown's Game, but I think it was a decent storyline overall. But The Crown's Fate went in such a different direction that it didn't even feel like it was part of the same story. It had the darkness that I wished was present in the first book, but it was thrown into the story so sloppily that I was still not interested in it. It didn't feel like a continuation of book one at all.

This same feeling applied to the characters as well. They acted completely differently throughout the second book. They weren't nearly as interesting as they had been previously. They were mostly whiny and annoying and moody. And there was no character development whatsoever. They were the same people when the book ended as when it began. This was a huge disappointment because the characters were one of the few things that I actually liked about The Crown's Game.

All in all, I think its safe to say that I really, really dislike these books. They held so much promise and were such a letdown. If you were someone who actually liked The Crown's Game, you may enjoy The Crown's Fate as well. But it is such a change from the first book that you may also be let down by this one. There are much better fantasies out there that I would highly recommend over these books.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #170: Bookish goals


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Bookish Resolutions/Goals

Here we are a few weeks into 2018 and we're talking about bookish resolutions! I already kind of did this a couple weeks ago, but why not do it again, I guess? Like I've mentioned before, 2017 was a rough reading year, so some of my goals just center around actually reading. 

  • Read 75 books
  • Complete the three challenges I've signed up for
  • Actually take time to read every day
  • Finish and review all the ARCs that are sent to me
  • Force myself to read House of Leaves
  • Complete my incomplete Harry Potter collections
  • Find some awesome new graphic novels
  • Donate/give away the ARCs I'm just never going to get to
  • Actually read the books I put on my top ten lists 
  • Get more active on Instagram



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
Monday, January 15, 2018

Audiobook Review: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

Title: And the Trees Crept In
Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
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Stay away from the woods…

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night… a man no one else can see?

It has been quite awhile since a book let me down quite as much as And the Trees Crept In. In fact, this book has caused me to break a long-standing tradition of not rating books I don't finish. Having completed 70% of this never ending audiobook (and reading spoilers for the rest), I feel that I know enough to confidently rate this one disappointing star.

And the Trees Crept in is a horror story that follows Silla and Nori to they're aunt's house in the woods. Silla has led them there seeking shelter from their abusive father and an impending war(?). The house is immediately creepy - blood red and creaky - but Silla and Nori enjoy their time there at first. They get to know their aunt and spend their days gardening and reading in the library.

Let me go ahead and say that none of these characters are likable. Silla grated on my nerves with her annoying, repetitive internal dialogue. Nori wasn't awful, but I just didn't find myself caring too much about her, maybe because Silla didn't and it was told from her perspective? And Crazy Aunt Cath was literally the worst, leaving her nieces all alone in her creepy manor. The only redeeming character in this entire book was the (sort of?) romantic interest, but he's not there enough to save it.

Back to the story, things take a turn for the worse when Silla and Nori go against their aunt's rules by going near the woods. This is when the story really started to get weird (and slow). I really, really thought that this book was going to be terrifying. There were moments in the audiobook when there was background whispering, which was really unsettling at first. Then everything started dragging and the rules started getting muddled (can you go into the woods or not??). The trees are creeping closer, but at the point where they completely cover the house, the book is only halfway over! I couldn't believe it when I realized there was so much more to go. It could've ended with a bang there and I would've been happy, so why did this book continue to drag for hours longer?

As much as I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened, I just couldn't force myself to keep reading. I spoiled the ending for myself, although I won't do it in my review, but suffice it to say, it was ridiculous. There was no reason for this book to go on for so, so long. It could've just been what it started as - a horror book with Slenderman and some creepy, creeping trees - but instead the author chose to flesh it out as much as humanly possible and then some.

Was the setting creepy? Yes, absolutely! I was completely entranced by the moving trees and the creepy town beyond them. There were things that the author did right, for sure. The atmosphere is definitely one of those things. I just don't understand why she took it in this direction.

I wanted to love this book SO MUCH! If you want to read a slightly creepy, pretentious book that tries to do more than it ever could have needed to, this is is the book for you! But if you're looking for a horror story that will haunt your nightmares, this is not the one.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Weekly Recap: 1/7 - 1/13


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi, everyone! I hope everyone's had a fantastic week! Mine has been a bit busy, but luckily I've actually had a bit of time to read! Not much has happened around the blog, but I feel good about the year so far. This week I got a couple new books from a friend who was going to be donating and was nice enough to let me have first pick. I also made a couple trades and FINALLY got my hands on an ARC of Waking Gods for my collection!!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  


THIS WEEK I READ

 



MC'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi, everyone! This week was incredibly uneventful and pretty boring. We had some really random warm weather, but now it is back to being super cold. It was a really boring week at work and it seemed to just drag on forever. I thought the weekend would never get here. I finished a couple audiobooks this week, but other than that I haven't been doing much reading. I'm hoping to get some more reading done this weekend and this coming week, because I don't have many plans. Fingers crossed. Have a good week!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing new this week!


THIS WEEK I READ

 



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday audiobook review of Winter's Heart
The topic was books I didn't get to last year for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday book review of The Abyss Surrounds Us


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, January 11, 2018

Book Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us #1)
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Publication Date: February 8, 2016
Publisher: Flux
Pages: 273

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Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

Unfortunately, this book ended up being incredibly disappointing for me. I have heard pretty much nothing but rave reviews for this series since it's release almost two years ago, and I wish I could say the same. Ultimately, it all boils down to me wanting more from this book. The story seemed interesting, the world was unique, the characters were intriguing, but I needed so much more.

The Abyss Surrounds Us is set in what appears to be our world at some unknown time in the future. The world has been broken up into much smaller territories in an attempt to better govern the people. And there are these things called Reckoners, which are aquatic beasts of various builds that protect ships from pirate attacks. This sounds pretty cool, right? Well, unfortunately, that is pretty much the only information you get about the world in the entire book. I wanted to know so much more. What led to the division of the world? In the story, Cas meets a man who was alive before the transition, meaning that it is a more recent development. So shouldn't there still be some things getting worked out? You can't decide to divide up the ENTIRE WORLD and have everything working smoothly in just a couple years. Who came up with the idea of the Reckoners? Why was there a demand for Reckoners? How long have Reckoners been around? JUST TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE RECKONERS HOW COULD YOU CREATE SUCH A COOL STORY IDEA AND TELL ME NOTHING ABOUT IT SERIOUSLY WHYYYYYYYYYY.....

Phew, ok, now on to the characters. Again, this is something that needed more development. A pirate crew can always provide a smorgasbord of personalities and back stories, but we got barely any detail on most of the characters. We did learn about the childhood of Swift, the love interest, but by the time it came, I didn't care about her at all. And don't even get me started on Cas' character arc. It made zero sense and her personality changed drastically from one second to the next.

Cas and Swift's relationship didn't make sense at all to me. I liked the idea of them being together and I was excited about that prospect, but the development of the relationship was confusing and WAY under-developed. Cas would always think things like "the Swift I know," "I know she's clever," and "I know she cares for me," and I kept screaming HOW DO YOU KNOW THESE THINGS???? We only witnessed them having a few interactions and those were mostly full of insults and fighting. So how in the WORLD could Cas know ANYTHING about Swift? I feel like this was a terrible case of telling rather than showing. The reader was expected to assume that they had interactions "off-screen" that made them start falling for each other. But you can't tell me that Swift was really sweet and caring and only show me her being a complete jerk. I'm never going to believe you. And, this really isn't important to the story at all, but if Cas mentioned Swift's bad haircut ONE MORE TIME, I was going to throw the book across the room. This was a seriously unimportant detail and wasted so much space that could have been used actually DEVELOPING THEIR RELATIONSHIP.

Even though I didn't like the characters involved in the romance, one thing that I did appreciate about this book is that there was a f/f romance that existed without anyone having to point it out. There was no coming out aspect or negative views from the other characters. Cas and Swift being together was perfectly natural, and it was nice to read a book that included LGBT+ aspects, but didn't make them the focus of the story. This was the saving grace of the book for me.

To be completely honest, I don't understand why so many people love this book. It is a fun story, but it is missing so much. It feels like a good first draft that would become a great book if it was developed more. I see so many reviews saying that there is a vivid world and detailed characters, and I just didn't see it. Cas' development as a character made no sense and happened way too fast. The romance happened way too fast. Basically everything in this book happened way too fast.

I already own the second book, so I will probably continue with the series. I am not going to give up on this author based on this one experience. I feel so bad that I really didn't enjoy this book that everyone loves so much. Obviously, I was hoping that I would enjoy it as well. But I truly don't see what everyone finds so amazing about it. As if I haven't said it enough, I just wanted MORE.