Friday, October 30, 2015

A Defense of Found Footage Films

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am addicted to horror.

As a child, I was incredibly sheltered. I saw my first real horror film, Darkness Falls, at the age of seventeen. My first horror film was about the Tooth Fairy and I was terrified. Don't judge me. After that first taste of totally safe fear, I was hooked. I absolutely fell in love with watching things on a screen that terrified me, but couldn't do any real harm and went away when the movie ended. When I was eighteen I saw my first found footage horror movie and they've been my absolute favorite ever since.

Found footage films get so much hate and I truly don't understand why. Please allow me to refute some of the more common arguments I've heard against these movies.

  • » They make some viewers nauseous. I suppose that's a pretty valid excuse not to watch them. If I became nauseous from shaky cam footage, I think I'd take some dramamine and keep on going, but I'm pretty dedicated. 
  • » It's hard to get to know the characters. Let's be real here. I'm watching a horror movie to be scared. Personally, I enjoy being in the driver's seat, so to speak. If I wanted amazing character building I'd probably be watching a different genre of film. 
  • » No one would be filming something so horrifying. If I'm watching a movie about ghosts or aliens or demons or monsters, I can certainly suspend my disbelief a little further to allow for a character toting around a camera. 
  • » Main characters die sometimes and that's sad. If you wanted a happy ending, you should probably go watch a romantic comedy or a fairytale. This is horror. It's supposed to be horrifying.

I have a love/hate relationship with found footage. On the one hand, I absolutely adore the rush of not knowing what's around the next corner or what I'll see with the next swing of the camera. On the other hand, it's really embarrassing to jump out of my seat in front of other people every time there's a jump scare.


An oldie but a goodie, The Blair Witch Project was the first found footage film I ever saw. It terrified me then and it's still my go-to horror movie when I'm looking for a scare. The Blair Witch Project was marketed in such a way that many people were fooled into believing it was real and I'll admit I was totally convinced too. Definitely check this one out if you've somehow missed it before now!

"Presented as a straightforward documentary, the film opens with a title card explaining that in 1994, three students went into the Maryland back woods to do a film project on the Blair Witch incidents. These kids were never seen again, and the film you are about to see is from their recovered equipment, found in the woods a year later. The entire movie documents their adventures leading up to their final minutes."

Grave Encounters is a movie that has a way lower rating than I think it deserves. This one combined with Grave Encounters 2 tells such a cool story and really plays to people's worst fears.

"Lance Preston and the crew of "Grave Encounters", a ghost-hunting reality television show, are shooting an episode inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where unexplained phenomena has been reported for years. All in the name of good television, they voluntarily lock themselves inside the building for the night and begin a paranormal investigation, capturing everything on camera. They quickly realize that the building is more than just haunted - it is alive - and it has no intention of ever letting them leave. They find themselves lost in a labyrinth maze of endless hallways and corridors, terrorized by the ghosts of the former patients."

I saw Cloverfield in a dollar theater on a first date and was totally riveted from start to finish. The date didn't go very well, but the movie totally blew my mind! It combines sci-fi with horror and is mysterious enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. Did I mention this is a J.J. Abrams film? A lot of people try to act like they're too cool to like Cloverfield, for some reason. I never understood that, but I own this one and still watch it from time to time.

"Producer J.J. Abrams teams with writer Drew Goddard and director Matt Reeves for this frenetic tale of a powerful destructive force that descends upon New York City, and the four desperate people who put their lives on the line to embark on a perilous rescue mission."

Did you really think I could make a list of the best found footage horror films and not include Paranormal Activity? While I was well acquainted with found footage at this point, Paranormal Activity scared the crap out of me. It still does, even though I know what to expect. I have seen every movie in this franchise. While I admit none of the sequels have been very good, I'll probably see the next one. I'm holding out hope for another movie as good as the first.

"A haunted house makes no secret of the fact it's not pleased with its new tenants in this independent tale of supernatural horror. Katie (Katie Featherson) and Micah (Micah Sloat) are a twentysomething couple who've just moved into a new home in San Diego, CA. Katie has an interest in the paranormal and believes that malevolent spirits have been following her since childhood, though Micah is not so easily convinced..."

Ahhh... A good old fashioned monster lock-in flick. After I saw Quarantine I found out it was a remake of the Spanish film Rec. That one does have a better rating, but you'll have to read the subtitles. I found Quarantine to be pretty amazing even as a remake, so you really can't go wrong either way!

"Television reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman are assigned to spend the night shift with a Los Angeles Fire Station. After a routine 911 call takes them to a small apartment building, they find police officers already on the scene in response to blood curdling screams coming from one of the apartment units. They soon learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by something unknown. After a few of the residents are viciously attacked, they try to escape with the news crew in tow, only to find that the CDC has quarantined the building."

This one is actually very recent. I saw this in theaters last year and was really blown away by it! This is a horror film that actually requires you to use your brain a little. The plot isn't handed to you on a platter. You'll definitely have to put the pieces together as you watch. As Above So Below weaves together horror with the tale of the Philosopher's Stone to create a really unique movie experience.

"Miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, the eternal home to countless souls. When a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the secret of what this city of the dead was meant to contain. A journey into madness and terror, As Above, So Below reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all."

I have always been fascinated by the story of Chernobyl, so this movie was an obvious MUST WATCH when it first came out. Despite mixed reviews, I totally love it and have seen it more than a few times. Chernobyl Diaries is basically a monster movie and the found footage format makes it all the more terrifying!

"The film follows a group of six young vacationers who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an "extreme" tour guide. Ignoring warnings, he takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than 25 years ago. After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon finds themselves stranded, only to discover that they are not alone..."

There you have it, my favorite found footage horror films. 
Are any of these on your top list? Which ones would you add?
Let me know in the comments! 
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #73: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

Sword and Verse
by Kathy MacMillan
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees. 
This sounds pretty awesome! It honestly sounds a little like An Ember in the Ashes, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up...

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #67: scary books & movies

Today's Topic: 
Ten scary Halloween books & movies

I really hate giving up on a book before I finish it, but sometimes it just happens. Life is too short to suffer through a book you don't enjoy! Even more than DNFing a book, I hate giving up on a series, especially several books in. Out of all of these, I might try to finish Nil and Red Rising sometime soon, but I'm basically done with the rest.

Best Scary Books


Insylum by Z. Rider (review)
The Merciless by Danielle Vega (review)
The Shining by Stephen King
The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn (review)
Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz (review)

Best Scary Movies


The Ring (2002)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Monday, October 26, 2015

ARC Review: The Rig by Joe Ducie

Title: The Rig (The Rig #1)
Author: Joe Ducie
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers 

Pages: 320
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book through Goodreads First Reads 
in exchange for an honest review//

Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at The Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from The Rig. No one except for Drake...

After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on The Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X - a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom - but can they survive long enough to make it?

Drake is an action hero to rival Jason Bourne and the CHERUB team in this debut author's fantastically imagined sci‐fi nightmare. 

The Rig caught my attention right away based on its title and the cover. I'm married to a Merchant Marine, so I have a little familiarity with oil rigs. Then I read the description and was totally sold! I love stories about survival and escape. The idea of being stuck on an oil rig in the Arctic Ocean totally freaks me out. Not to mention the bit about things not being as they seem. All that to say I was really excited to read this book!

Right away, this book pulled me in with its descriptions of the rig and its inner workings as a prison. Joe Ducie has done a fantastic job of creating an amazing setting out of a structure that could certainly have come across as boring. I also did a lot of fact-checking with my husband and overall the setting seems to hold up. I definitely felt like I could see each level and platform of the rig! It seems like an urban explorer's dream!

The characters were mostly enjoyable. This story is about Will Drake, a guy who just happened to find himself in a bad situation that landed him in jail. But Will is great at escaping, it seems. I wish a little more had been revealed at exactly -why- Will was so skilled at escapes. His backstory didn't make him seem like anything special, so I had kind of a hard time accepting him as a character worthy of comparison to Jason Bourne. The bad guys of The Rig were probably a little more believable than Will, in my opinion, although I did have a lot of questions about their motives once the book had ended.

My major problem with The Rig was the magic element. I somehow overlooked this part of the synopsis, so it caught me off guard. That isn't the issue, though. The magical substance, Crystal-X, is mysterious from the beginning of the book until it ends. Not much is ever explained about it. The book never goes into the why's and how's of this magical mineral and it's not clear why it affects different people in different ways. I'm okay with some questions being left over at the end of a book, but I feel like nothing at all was answered in this one. More than that, though, is that I don't even feel like the magic was necessary. The Rig was shaping up to be an awesome survival/escape story before Crystal-X was introduced.

Overall, I The Rig was just okay. I loved the world and the set up of the plot. I just wish it had strayed into weird, magic territory.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Weekly Recap: 10/18 - 10/24

My Super Exciting Life 

I will be SO HAPPY when this move is over. My life is absolutely insane right now with preparing to move to Florida on two week's notice. It's madness. Don't do it. But once it's over I know it'll be worth it. It has been a slow reading week (again). There's just no time! But I signed up for a read-a-thon this week, so YAY! I'm confident that I'll get my reading groove back soon!

As we're preparing to leave and say goodbye to my family, we've spent more time than average with my parents and brother, Michael. Michael came to stay with us Sunday and Monday nights, and then again on Thursday and Friday nights. We watched Jurassic World, which was awesome! We also played a ton of Elder Sign. On Saturday, we had lunch with my mom, dad, and brother, and then my mom took me to see the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast in Durham, NC (is it still Broadway??). Today we're going for a cookout at my parent's house and then next week is the big move!

New Books



In Case You Missed It

Monday audiobook review of Lost Stars
The topic was book wishes for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured The Shadow Queen for Waiting on Wednesday
On Saturday I shared my HoHoHo Read-a-Thon goals

This Week I Read & Upcoming Review

Saturday, October 24, 2015

HoHoHo Read-a-Thon

Last year, HoHoHoRAT became my first ever read-a-thon. I loved every single second of it, although I didn't meet my initial goal. This year I'm super excited to get another chance to try my hand at this Christmas read-a-thon! I think I'll have much better luck this go round (fingers crossed)!

Once again, this read-a-thon is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Bookshelfery. Participants have from November 12th until the 17th to read as many holiday or winter themed books as possible. There will be some super awesome challenges and giveaways also! You can join here!

My "Goals"

You guys know me by now. I'm terrible with following a set list of books! I also had a pretty hard time finding actual Christmas books. I am not a huge fan of contemporary romance and it seems like most Christmas books are really cheesy... If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments! In any case, here are nine books I may get to during the read-a-thon. 


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #72: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

The Shadow Queen
by C.J. Redwine
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
Let's face it. I'm a retelling junkie. I can't help it. I have to read EVERY SINGLE ONE! And this cover... and that description... I need it!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #66: book wishes

Today's Topic: 
10 Wishes I'd Ask The 
Book Genie To Grant Me

Ooooh! What a fun topic! I'm splitting today into two categories: general book-related wishes and really amazing, expensive, rare books I'd love to own!

Five Book-Related Wishes
  1. I'd wish for more time in the day for reading. 
  2. I'd wish for a super amazing hidden library with floor to ceiling shelves. And a sliding ladder. 
  3. I'd wish for the ability to speed read.
  4. I'd wish for unlimited funds to attend all of the awesome book conventions around the world. 
  5. I'd wish for more bookish friends. 

Five Rare Book Wishes


The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan, 1st/4th, signed - $300
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, 1975 edition, 22k gold accents - $875
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, 1926 limited edition, signed - $5,995
Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling, UK Deluxe Edition, signed - $7,500
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1971 one volume edition, signed - $20,000

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Monday, October 19, 2015

Audiobook Review: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Title: Lost Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Narrator: Pierce Cravens
Publication Date: September 4, 2015
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Add to Goodreads

Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliet in this epic YA novel that follows two best friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the war between the Empire and the Rebellion.

This thrilling YA novel gives readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe: from the purge of the Jedi in Episode III, to the beginnings of the rebellion in Star Wars Rebels, and through the fall of the Empire in Episodes IV-IV. Readers will experience these major moments through the eyes of two best friends who grow up in these troubling times, and find themselves on opposite sides of the war.

As with other Journey to Episode VII titles, hints about the upcoming film will be included in the narrative, as well a original, post-Episode VI content that sets up the new film.

DUAL NARRATIVE: Chapters alternate perspectives between our two protagonists – one a Rebel pilot, the other an Imperial officer. By exploring these two different worlds, readers will experience many of the major moments in the original Star Wars trilogy – from the destruction of the Death Star to the battle of Hoth – through these two characters' eyes.

Despite my love of the Star Wars films, Lost Stars is actually my first adventure into this literary galaxy. There were quite a few books I could've chosen from. Obviously, there's the original trilogy and literally hundreds of canon and "Legends" books that have been released over the years. Lucasfilm has also begun releasing children and adult books in their Journey to "The Force Awakens" series. But when I saw a YA Star Wars book written by an author I knew, I jumped at the chance to read it!

The first thing I will say about Lost Stars is that It's really, really long. Okay, so it's only a little over 500 pages (or 12 hours of reading). I think it's actually the content that made it seem to go on forever. I feel like a normal YA book spans maybe a few years. Maybe. But this one spans 20 years! We see Ciena and Thane as small children when the Empire is brand new, as students, as officers fresh out of the academy, all the way up to the rise of the New Republic. And perhaps because of that it seems to drag in a lot of places. On the flip side, this also gave me a chance to really get to know the characters, which may or may not have been a good thing.

I had a really hard time identifying with Ciena and understanding her motives. I feel like Claudia Gray tried really hard to explain Ciena's backstory and the customs on her home world, but I found myself being really over her constant talk of honor fairly quickly. I love some Darth Vader, so I can understand a little devotion to the Empire, but her choices just did not make sense at all. Thane, on the other hand, seemed to have a solid head on his shoulders. His motives made total sense and I think he was the far more sympathetic character. If I had been Thayne, I would have given up on Ciena long, long ago.

One thing I really enjoyed was getting to experience all of the classic battles and characters from a new angle. I appreciated the fact that this wasn't a strict retelling and the main characters of this story weren't overshadowed by more well-known faces. I did love Thayne's snide comments about Luke Skywalker (I was never his biggest fan)!

I really did enjoy this book a lot, just because it allowed me to explore the Star Wars universe in a new way! I think I would probably be easily bored with the "adult" Star Wars books, so this was a great fit for me. There were some downfalls, but overall it was a good read. I'd definitely recommend this to any fan who wants to get a little extra reading in before Episode 7!

°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
There are a few things to be said for this audiobook because it was totally unlike any other I've listened to. It was full of the Star Wars soundtrack and there were some really amazing sound effects! This was like listening to a movie instead of just a narrator. That being said, Pierce Cravens was not the best choice for this book, in my opinion. I had a hard time reminding myself that this was a YA romance novel. He sounded very young and... too excited? I don't know, but it didn't quite fit. I feel like he would have been better as the narrator of the Percy Jackson series or something similar. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Weekly Recap: 10/11 - 10/17

My Super Exciting Life 

This week has been a little better than last week was. I'm still quite fatigued, but overall I definitely feel a little more normal, so that's something! Towards the end of the week, I was also been able to read on more of a normal level. I spent this week slowly working through another Peter Pan retelling and Wendy Darling is coming up soon!

I embarked on a dog sitting adventure for one night this week! I discovered that my younger dog is not impressed by having a stranger in her house. She mostly ignored her, but she was certainly not happy about it! It was a fun experience, though! I also made an awesome discovery yesterday at my local indie bookstore - signed copies of Six of Crows! Obviously I came home and cleaned enough books off of my shelves to trade for a copy! So I came home with a "free" (trade credit only) signed copy and I can't wait to read it!

We also found out this week that we're moving... in twelve days. Things are moving very quickly now and I honestly can't even believe it's actually happening! We've talked about moving to Florida for years and here we finally are! I can't wait to get settled in the warmth of Orlando!

New Books


From the library:

For review:

In Case You Missed It

Monday book review of Illuminae
The topic was author duos for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Bound by Prophecy for Waiting on Wednesday
On Friday I discussed authors who can't let go

This Week I Read

Upcoming Reviews

Friday, October 16, 2015

Authors who can't let go

We all have a favorite author - a favorite series - that we just don't want to ever stop. I totally understand the feels that come when a series is over and a new one begins. Maybe it won't be as good, you think. And sometimes you're right! I've been really unimpressed by a couple authors' second series (Exhibits A and B). But at least they tried something different!

It is, in my opinion, a hundred times more desperate to continue milking the same cow for literally decades. Sometimes I genuinely have to wonder if these women are really one trick ponies who just have no other ideas floating around in their heads. Three authors come immediately to mind.

This woman... Am I the only person who feels like she's just at the point of embarrassing herself? It has been ten years, ma'am. You seriously just need to let it go.

I understand that when she wrote The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, she was still in the prime of the Twilight frenzy. That one... you know. It's forgivable. Tons of authors write in-between novellas.

Then The Host was released. It seemed like Mrs. Meyer was finally moving on! Until she abandoned the series completely (with two additional books still slotted on Goodreads), to the dismay of her loyal fans.

Recently, the unthinkable happened. She released Twilight Reimagined. At first I thought it was just some kind of a tenth-anniversary joke. Maybe even a jab at E.L. James who just re-released 50 Shades of Grey from Christian's perspective.

But then it showed up on the Target shelf. It popped up in my Instagram feed. And I stared in disbelief. How desperate is Stephenie Meyer? Could she POSSIBLY make it any more obvious that this is a clear cash grab? And the ratings make it obvious that the book has not been well received. The fans wanted original work and they got... this.

I didn't love the Twilight series. I read it, obviously, but I was never a part of that fandom. I can't imagine the disappointment from those fans who have been anxiously awaiting original work for the last TEN YEARS from Stephenie Meyer. I'm embarrassed for her, honestly.

It's no secret around these parts that I loved The Selection series. Loved it. I don't care that it's mostly fluff. I don't care that it suffered from stupid teen angst syndrome. It was a good series with some good plot points and loveable characters! Yes, I was sad when it ended, but there were enough novellas to keep me occupied for awhile and I was excited to see what Cass would do next.

What Kiera Cass did next was announce another book in a completed series. A series that was nicely tied up and well done. A series that definitely did not need a book four. But there it was. Book four came out and I bought it. I was wary, but I had high hopes. My hopes were dashed.

The Heir was terrible. Awful characters, terrible plot, no redeeming qualities. And you know it couldn't just be one follow-up book! Nope. It had to be a duology. (Please, book gods, let her stop after two!)

I loved Kiera Cass so much. I wanted so much more from her amazing, romance-writing brain. I'm still holding out hope that she will finally let go of The Selection series and embark on a new bookish journey that will pull me back into her fan club.

Admittedly, this is one author I don't have much first-hand experience with. I listened to Clockwork Angel on a ten hour drive a few years ago and, while I didn't really love it, I did want to give it another chance at some point. I currently own The Infernal Devices series and am just waiting on the right mood to read them. I know a lot of readers are obsessed with Cassandra Clare, but good grief.

A few days ago I saw an announcement for a new series by Cassandra Clare - The Dark Artifices. The cover was gorgeous and for a moment I was intrigued! Until I saw that it was yet ANOTHER Mortal Instruments series. I understand that she apparently loves this series (and so do her fans), but when you've exceeded 25 books in the same book universe, maybe it's time to put down the pencil? Maybe.

At least she did branch out to co-write The Magisterium series, I guess. I just can't help but feel like she is getting every single last drop of milk from the Mortal Instruments cash cow. More power to the readers who will read all 25 of these books! Maybe one day I'll join you.

I get it. An authors' work is her baby. I understand that there might be some growing pains in moving on to different things. But some of these ladies just really need to understand when it's time to let go of their babies and just.move.on.

What do you think? Is it totally cool for an author to write the same series for 10 years or 25+ books? Or do you get the feeling they're stuck?