The Horror Movie Tag

Saturday 31 October 2020

 1. What is your favorite scary movie?

That's a really tough one. I have a lot I watch quite a bit. I think The Conjuring is my favorite because it was the first movie to actually scare me in my adult life. Most horror movies scared me as a kid. But as an adult I could go back and watch anything that scared me as a kid, and be perfectly fine. The Conjuring was the first one that scared me in a long, long while.

2. What is the 1st horror movie you ever remember watching?

My earliest horror memory was one day when I was but a child and my mother thought I might like the movie Alien, the sci-fi horror film from 1979 starring Sigourney Weaver. I loved it. It didn't scare me, but it was 

3. What type of horror films are your favorite?

Seeing as The Conjuring is my favorite horror film, it may seem obvious that my favorite type of horror film is paranormal. That can encompass ghosts or demons. I find those the scariest because I believe ghosts exist. I've had a few paranormal experiences and I almost copied my wife and wrote a blog about it but I decided against it. Instead, I'll share Anne's with you, which you can find here.

4. What type of horror film do you not like?

Revenge style films based on rape. There are many reasons to not like a movie like that. The first and most obvious is that it's a horrid topic and a traumatic event is being used for shock value. Also, it's lazy writing. It's like killing a character when it doesn't serve the plot somehow. It's used to get a cheap emotional response. So not only can it be potentially triggering, not only is it a awful topic, but it's just plain lazy. 

5. What movie has given you nightmares?

The 1986 version of Invaders from Mars. Scared the hell out of me. The idea that all these people were getting taken over by Martian invaders and no one could tell was what really scared me. Especially the end of the movie when David wakes up and finds out it's all a dream and then sees the alien ship land just like he did when he was dreaming. THAT scared me. 

6. What is the last movie that actually scared you?

Annabelle Creation scared me. Best of all, it did it without a ton of jump scares. The first Annabelle movie was one of the weakest in the Conjuringverse but they really brought it back with the good sequels.

7. Who is your favorite horror movie villain, why?

Michael Myers. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. He's the most bad ass. He keeps coming back and he's not some dream monster like Freddy or some undead killing machine like Jason. He's a real dude in a mask and even though it may be far fetched, the ways they kill him are survivable.

8. Who is the worst horror movie villain, why?

I almost said The Babadook or The Entity (It Follows) but those weren't bad villains, their movies were just awful. I also almost said Chucky because come on! He's a doll. Kick him in the face and get the hell out of the house! It wasn't until my wife reminded me that we saw a film called The Bye Bye Man from 2017 that I had my answer. She was the real one with the answer, I'm just copying her homework.

The Bye Bye Man didn't actually do anything and he wasn't scary. Look at those jackets hanging on the wall. Guess who's going to show up there? The Bye Bye Man! Not only is the name stupid, but The Bye Bye Man doesn't really hurt you. He just makes you go crazy until you kill yourself and sometimes take others with you. 

9. Worst horror movie you've ever seen?

If I wanted to tease my wife I'd say Treehouse, a film from 2014 that was bad in so many ways, but the title of "the worst" should take more into account. So instead of some straight to DVD d-list horror, I'm going to name a popular one that didn't deserve the hype.

The Babadook was an awful film. I know, I know. I get what the film was trying to be about. It was trying to be about a mother dealing with an autistic child while working with dementia patients and how it all affects her mental state and how her mental state affects her child. But that's not what was promised by the trailer AND the kids mental illness was really just used for uncomfortable outbursts to add to the mother's depression. Couple that with the horrid ending and you get the worst film I've ever seen. I know the film was supposed to stand for more, but that doesn't make it good.

10. Favorite horror movie series

I kind of already answered this one so I'll just reiterate and say The Conjuringverse. Not only does my favorite horror film belong to the franchise, but there was only one movie out of the six (so far) that I didn't like. And it's not like I hated The Nun. I've seen worse horror films. But overall The Conjuringverse was the best. 

11. Which horror film do you think is underrated?

This was probably the hardest question of the bunch. So many movies that used to be made fun of or hated because they were bad or cheesy are no loved by film nerds because more and more people are realizing that you can like films that aren't "good." 

My answer is House on Haunted Hill from 1999 with the stacked cast of Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Peter Gallagher, and Chris Kattan. It was a critically panned movie, but remember that critics are movie hating jerks. This was a fun 90's horror that was over-the-top and tryhard at times, but it was enjoyable. It was also hated because it was a remake of a Vincent Price film from 1959, but we can love both!

12. What scenes have grossed you out the most?

Anne just made me watch a film called Would You Rather and there's a scene where a dude has to cut his eye with a razor blade. That was super SUPER hard to watch.

13. If horror movies were real, would you rather be in a zombie apocalypse, an alien abduction, or a haunted house?

Easy! Haunted house! Zombie apocalypse would just mess up the whole world. Alien abduction you have the worry about how to get back home if they take you back to their planet. But with a haunted house you have many ways of making it out alive. First and probably easiest, you can leave. If it's a localized hunting the ghosts won't follow you. If it's demons or something a church and an exorcism sounds right up your alley. Either way it's a lot more promising than either of the other two options.

The Ghostbusters' Real Enemy

Tuesday 20 October 2020

The following blog is a repost from a piece I did for Be sure to stop by SomewhatNerdy to keep tabs on our podcasts (including mine: Future Flicks with Billiam) and check out our old blog posts. The reason I'm reposting this is because I'm working on a part 2 for this one and if I'm going to post part 2 on my blog, part 1 should be there too. So enjoy!

We all love Ghostbusters. It’s a classic. It’s a great movie. Many of us nerds could recreate the movie from memory. But I ask you this question. Who was the main villain? The main antagonist in Ghostbusters? If you said Gozer the Gozarean, you’re not wrong, but you’re also not right. The true villain, the true evil, is Walter Peck.

If you haven’t watched the film in a while you may be wondering who I’m talking about. I’m talking about Walter Peck from the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s right. The pencil pusher from the EPA is the biggest bad guy in the first film. Allow me to explain.

Two things made me want to write this blog. The first is that this last Halloween, my wife and I rewatched Ghostbusters 1 and 2 as well as the reboot. And yes, I’ll still defend the reboot as a good movie until the day I die. But during the original I noticed a few things that Peck said that I had never noticed before. So afterward, I googled him to find the quotes and found a blog some random person wrote about how Walter Peck was the true hero of the film. I read the blog, keeping an open mind, and the conclusion I came to was that not only was the author wrong, but Walter Peck is the true villain of Ghostbusters.

We all love the environment, right? It allows us to live. Trees give us oxygen, water falls from the sky, and the animals and vegetables we eat need the land to grow. So people who help protect that are our friends, right? Well, maybe some. But not Walter Peck.

Here’s what happened if you look at it from just the surface. The Ghostbusters had been open for business for a while when they get a visit from Walter Peck of the EPA. He has terrible bedside manner, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad guy.  The right off the bat, Peter Venkman is mean and won’t even listen to what Peck has to say. So if we look at just that part of their interactions, Peck was wronged and Venkman is the bad guy. Here’s exactly what Peck said when voicing his concerns to Venkman.

“Well, because I’m curious. I want to know more about what you do here! Frankly, there have been a lot of wild stories in the media and we want to assess for any possible environmental impact from your operation! For instance, the presence of noxious, possibly hazardous waste chemicals in your basement! Now you either show me what is down there or I come back with a court order.”

So from this alone, Peck’s only crime was being standoffish. He didn’t offer any proof that there were environmental risk, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? The court order could be for a basic search, an investigation, right? Sure.

So here’s what should have happened. Peck would have gone back to his office and reported to his superiors, got a court order to search and evaluate the property and equipment the Ghostbusters use and then decide if anything needs to be changed or fixed to help lessen their impact of the environment.

Instead what he does is he does get a court order, but it’s to shut down the power grid to the containment unit. First off, what kind of judge would sign that without any proof. He said that the Ghostbusters were using dangerous chemicals but where were they? If they really were in the basement then that should be easy. Warrant for to search for dangerous chemicals THEN take the next steps. But no. Peck returns just as Egon and the rest of the team were starting to understand the Zuul and Gozer situation and shuts off important equipment that he admits, and the Con Edison (a power company in New York) worker also admits he has no idea what could happen if it’s turned off. Not only that, but Egon Spengler, the man who created this whole system, tells the it would be a bad idea.

So let’s go over what we have so far. First is that Walter Peck was wronged by Peter Venkman and instead of coming back with a court order for an investigation, comes back to shut down delicate technology that he doesn’t know A: Its purpose, B: how it works, and C: the ramifications of turning it off. Are we all caught up? Good.

So what happens as a result? All the ghosts that the gang has captured are released in an explosive event that takes the top off their building. The released ghosts just don’t go back to their old haunts. They all go to Dana’s Central Park West apartment which just happens to be where Zuul the Gatekeeper is waiting. So the ghosts and their spiritual energy are loose but to top it all off, the Keymaster Vinz Clortho (in Louis Tulley’s body) got away from Egon and now knows where to go to find the Gatekeeper and summon Gozer the Gozarean.

What would have happened if Peck had never turned off the containment unit? We may never know the whole story, but here’s what we can assume based on where the story was headed. Vinz Clortho was under the care of Egon in the Ghostbusters HQ. He was being studied and kept safe. Dana Barrett, having been taken over by Zuul the Gatekeeper, was in her own apartment awaiting the Keymaster. Gozer had to be summoned at 550 Central Park West (where Dana lived) because the building was designed by Ivo Shandor, the leader of a Gozer cult who was obsessed with summoning Gozer into our world. The Gatekeeper and Keymaster had to meet and it had to be in that building because the building was built very specifically and made out of a magnesium-tungsten alloy which was chosen to aid in the summoning of Gozer. So they had to meet and they had to do so in the apartment. Egon was watching Vinz and even says that the two meeting would be a bad idea. So we can assume that Egon wouldn’t have let Zuul and Vinz get too close to each other. Would Gozer have eventually been summoned? Maybe. We don’t know what other tricks the Sumerian god had up its sleeve. But what we do know for a fact is that the return of Gozer would have been delayed. Maybe, just maybe, Egon and Ray could have figured out a way to prevent Gozer from coming. Maybe he could have figured out a way to extract Zuul and Vinz Clortho from Dana and Louis. Could the Ghostbusters have put Zuul and Clortho in the containment unit?

We can assume they had to meet while possessing humans. Why can we assume this? Because when they initially broke out of their dog statues on top of the Shandor building, they were already together. If all they needed was to be next to each other then Gozer would have been summoned right there. But no. They needed to possess humans and then get together and they were able to get together thanks to the actions of one Walter Peck from the EPA.

So is that all Walter Peck did? No, not at all. It doesn’t stop there. Like a true villain he was only getting started. If we wanted to be generous we could have written off his previous actions as momentary weakness. Being caught up in the moment. He felt disrespected and embarrassed by how Venkman treated him and shutting off the containment unit was the culmination of that embarrassment. But then we get to the post explosion fallout.

We see Walter Peck a few more times during the film. In fact, we see him again right outside the firehouse when Peck and the Ghostbusters (mainly Egon) are arguing and the Ghostbusters are sent to jail. Peck tells the cops that “these men are in direct violation of the Environmental Protection Act and this explosion is a direct result of it.” Egon, instead of defending himself using science, just says “Your mother!” and attacks Peck. So the cops, who don’t know any better, who are just doing what a representative of a government agency is telling them, arrest the Ghostbusters and take them to jail. So Peck lied to the police. We all know that the explosion is his fault for turning off the containment unit. Let us move on.

We see Walter Peck next in the Mayor’s office after he summons the Ghostbusters because no one knows what’s going on. Peck arrives at this time too and tells Mayor Lenny what he thinks is going on, and what he says reveals a lot about his character. He says:

“I am Walter Peck, sir, and I’m prepared to make a full report. These men are consummate snowball artists! They use sensitive nerve gases to induce hallucinations. People think they’re seeing ghosts! And they call these bozos, who conveniently show up to deal with the problem with a fake electronic light show!”

Here we catch Peck in another lie. There was no nerve gas. Peck had only been on the Ghostbusters property twice and neither time did he find anything. If he had some other proof, like proof that Egon or Ray purchased the chemicals to make nerve gas, then that would be one thing. But Walter Peck doesn’t offer up anything to back up his argument. He just claims the Ghostbusters are frauds.

So he didn’t believe in ghosts and thought the Ghostbusters were con artists. That’s fair. If you’re not one of the people who actually saw a ghost and needed their services, then you may be a naysayer. But that still doesn’t excuse his actions which, thanks to my flawless logic, we now know caused the coming of Gozer.  

This is all why Walter Peck was the true bad guy. If he didn’t do what he did, then Egon and Ray would have had more time to study Vinz and Zuul. They may have thought of a solution and could have saved lives. Even though we didn’t see it, I refused to believe that no one died that day. The ground was cracking, pieces of the building were falling off and crashing down on the onlookers below. The Stay Puft Marshmallow man stepped on a church! You know that during and event like that there would be people in there praying.

Walter Peck caused massive destruction which resulted in the loss of lives all because he had a vendetta against the Ghostbusters and decided to jump to conclusions without any proof. We know, thanks to the first thirty minutes of Ghostbusters 2, that the Ghostbusters are blamed heavily for what happened. Not only that but they are the victims of many lawsuits and they disband after they’re banned from busting ghosts by the court.

Walter Peck not only caused the nearly cataclysmic events of Ghostbusters but also destroyed the livelihood of the four heroes who saved New York and this is why he’s the true villain of the first movie. The repercussions of his actions reach far beyond the first movie and are felt up until the Ghostbusters judicial restraining order is dropped by Judge Stephen Wexler in Ghostbusters II. Gozer’s evil stops at the end of the first film but Walter Peck’s evil lasts much longer. Walter Peck, ladies and gentlemen. Your true villain.

Hubie Halloween | Movie Review

Monday 19 October 2020

 Adam Sandler comedies are like marmite. They're an acquired taste. Netflix made that huge deal with him a while back and they seem to be just throwing stuff at the proverbial wall to see what sticks. This time around we have a family comedy centered around Halloween. It this one a winner? Here's my review.

Despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem (and its Halloween celebration), Hubie Dubois is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something is going bump in the night, and it's up to Hubie to save Halloween. (Premise from IMDB)

So was this a winner? Short answer? No. It's not a winner. Long answer? It's complicated. There was a lot I liked about Hubie Halloween. It oozed with Halloween spirit from the very beginning which is a true bonus while we're in the season. If you're anything like my wife and I, you watch a lot of horror movies around Halloween, but sit back and think of how many of them are actually based around the holiday and out of those, how many actually make you feel the Halloween spirit.  Off the top of my head I can think of Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, Trick r' Treat, maybe a few of the Halloween films. But that's when my memory starts to wane and I'd have to rely on google to think of more. So this film has that going for it.

It also has a good cast. Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Michael Chiklis, June Squibb, George Wallace, Kenan Thompson, Shaquille O'Neal, Ben Stiller, Noah Schnapp, and a handful of current SNL players.  That's a good cast right there. Not really an A list, but a list that's perfectly set for a fun movie. But there's a catch. For a fun cast to make a fun movie, you have to have a fun script.

That's where Hubie Halloween fell short. It wasn't a bad idea, but there was so much hate and negativity in the film that it kept me from really enjoying it. The townsfolk hate Hubie. They hate him with a passion. He's weird and they hate him because he's weird. That's it. It's the classic story that's been told for years. The popular people hate and ostracize those who are different. Don't misunderstand, I'm not jumping on a soapbox here. While bullying IS wrong, that's not the point of this blog. It's just an old plot told without a speck of joy in it with so much negativity that it holds the film back. The towns people of Salem are horrible in this movie. There are only a handful of characters even worth a damn. If this was a slasher film, most of that cast would be dead at the end because they deserve it. 

The other issue I have with this movie is Sandler's Waterboy style of comedy. If you look at his comedies, they can be broken down into two main categories. He's either a screaming asshole, or a mentally slow moron. Hubie is the latter of the two. And since we're now in the woke year of 2020, we have an important question to ask. For his characters like Bobby Boucher and Hubie Dubois, are they mentally handicapped? Is that why they have that affected voice and act so weird and don't understand social norms? If so, isn't that not okay? 

This is running long so let me wrap this up. The biggest and most blaringly unforgivable issue with this movie is the fact that it's just not funny. It tries to hard to tell boring and rehashed jokes, there's nothing original, and there's not even enough to enjoy to make the lack of originality ignorable.

There was a good idea in this film but it's beyond saving. The only reason to watch this is because of the over abundance of Halloween spirit. That's it.

Hubie Halloween gets a 4.5 out of 11

Special Note: I wanted to love this film. I wanted to love it because the young actor Cameron Boyce from the Grown-Ups movies, was supposed to play the role of Mike Mundi but passed away just days before filming. Boyce's parents asked that Karan Brar be cast in the role as Karan and Cameron were best friends. I wanted to love this movie because of that story that's equal parts sad and uplifting.

Net Galley Wrap Up #4

Sunday 18 October 2020

It's time for another Net Galley Wrap Up! Yay! This time, instead of audio book or graphic novels, we're talking about regular books. So check it out and you may just find a fun future read.

Coffee Days Whiskey Nights by Cyrus Parker

This is a collection of poetry, prose, and aphorisms that juxtaposes the hopefulness a brand new day can bring with the lingering thoughts that keep us up into the late-night hours. This book takes a look at the way a single day can change our outlook on everything from relationships with others, to our relationships with ourselves, and everything in between. (Net Galley Synopsis)

I didn't expect to be blown away. I didn't expect to love it. I expected to read a bunch of lofty poetry that I'd only understand a smidge of but I got it as much as someone who is not Cyrus Parker can get it.  It was beautiful. It was sad. It was happy. I related to some of it while I can never understand some of it but I can still appreciate the words and emotions. 

This is my first modern poetry book and it will be on my favorites list. 

This was great. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.

Coffee Days Whiskey Nights gets a 10 out of 11

I Hope This Helps by Tommy Siegel

Tommy Siegel's debut book collection includes 200+ pages of comics, essays, and extremely helpful guides to coping with 21st-century panic. With comics titled “Choose your social anxiety coping mechanism” and “What your coffee drink of choice says about you,” I Hope This Helps offers clever and sardonic commentary on our phone-obsessed, social media-driven culture, as well as a series of devastatingly funny relationship comics starring his popular Candy Hearts characters. (Premise from Net Galley)

I had no idea what to expect going in as I had never heard of Tommy Siegel before. But I like comics so I figured, why not. This is a collection of 

The full title is I Hope This Helps: 500 Days of Comics and Extremely Helpful Guides. The comics were hit and miss. Some made me laugh so hard I was shaking. Others just missed the mark.

An ongoing theme is the difference between younger and older millennials as well as social media and phone addiction. The goal felt like it was aiming for sarcasm but it comes across as super cynical. 

This was going to be a 3 star book but a handful of comics really made me laugh. A great honest belly laugh that just makes you smile and that alone upped the rating by one.

If you're a fan of comics like The Oatmeal or anything with a vague resemblance to old Far Side, than this is for you.

I Hope This Helps gets a 7.5 out of 11

Dead Dudes by Christopher Sebela

Dead Dudes by Christopher Sebela and Ben Sears is a goofy little graphic novel about paranormal investigators that become ghosts and want to prove to the world that ghosts exist when their rivals show up to the place their haunting. 

The Ghost Bros, which is what the protagonists call their team, are quite clearly modeled after the Ghost Adventures crew while the rivals give off a Ghost Hunters vibe.  

The art is just okay. Not great but not awful. It seems to be purposefully messy. The plot is interesting but gets a bit too odd and convoluted at the end. There's no character growth. Everyone stays the same. The author has bleeps instead of actual swearing which gets quite annoying. Either swear or don't swear. Don't try and be cute and live in the middle. 

This was fun but could have been a lot better. The story tried to do to much and it didn't have enough going for it to make up for the shortcomings.

Dead Dudes gets a 3 out of 11

Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World's Most Infamous Prison by Sarah Mirk

This is the heaviest graphic novel I've ever read. I've always known that Gitmo was just one gigantic war crime, but the stories of those involved were shocking, i think this graphic novel attempts to bring to light some of the stories that people need to know. 

Sarah Mirk and the various artists who worked on this did a fantastic job.  The art was good and the stories ranged from intriguing to horrifying and it captured my interest right away. 

I think this should be required reading in high schools and even in college because I never knew a lot of this stuff. Even some of the facts like there are 40 inmates still there was completely new to me. This is something we should know. Since this is all from first hand accounts the stories bypass the talking heads and spin doctors who always make things all muddled. 

I'm glad I read this and I'll recommend this to anyone willing to read it.

Grumpy Cat Awful-ly Big Comic Collection by Various Authors

This collection of Grumpy Cat comics would be great for kids.  This isn't one of those all ages comics where the parent would get just as much enjoyment as the child would. The jokes were basic, perfect for someone young. But for anyone able to tie their own shoes? This is an easy one to skip. Grumpy Cat, may she rest in peace, had her moment of fame and was a funny internet meme for a while but the fad is over. Sure, a good grumpy cat meme is still fun, but this doesn't feel like it's trying to capitalize on Grumpy Cat herself as opposed to just a cute topic for a kids book.

So if you want something fun for a child in your life, this could be worth a look. If not, skip it. My friends and fellow adults, we are not the target audince.

Grumpy Cat Awful-ly Big Comics Collection gets a 5 out of 11

The Secret Garden Argo Classic Audiobook | Book Review

Saturday 17 October 2020

 The Secret Garden is a classic book. A great children's book that can still be read and enjoyed by adults. This review is for the audio book narrated by actress Glenda Jackson which was originally released 1975 on Decca Records (formerly Argo). This is an abridged version of the book that has the occasional musical accompaniment and odd sound effect.

This was given to me for free as an advanced listening copy by Net Galley and the publisher Harper Audio in exchange for an honest review.

I do plan on giving this five stars, but that doesn't mean I didn't have any issues with it. I think this audio book is perfect for someone older who had the record as a child OR for someone who is looking for something to play for children of their own. This could be good for an adult as well, but the fact that it's abridged may turn some avid readers away.

The story is great. We know that. This is a story about growth. The characters of Mary Lennox, Colin Craven, and Archibald Craven each go through a change in the book. The Garden itself grows and it seems that even Misselthwaite Estate grows as well. This is a charming tale that doesn't have any problematic elements to hinder it's enjoyment over time. That, to me, is a key part of enjoying old books. Reading (or watching) anything old in our more woke times is a risk but The Secret Garden is risk free.

I mentioned that I did have issues with the audio book. Those issues weren't big enough to lower my overall score. I found some of the background sound effects to be annoying. When the children sang it was just cringy and when the bird was chirping it was recorded too loud and was a bit uncomfortable. But other than that, the sound effects added a bit of flair to an old recording. Each character had their unique voice so I never got confused and Glenda Jackson had a very motherly delivery in her performance. 

This is a good audio book that's perfectly suited for a child or for an adult who wants a bit of nostalgia. If you've read The Secret Garden before, this version could be a wonderful revisit to a true classic. If you have never read it, this isn't a bad way to start. 

The Secret Garden 1975 Decca/Argo Recording gets a 9 out of 11

Victories Greater Than Death | Book Review

Friday 16 October 2020

 Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders is about a young woman named Tina who always knew she was meant for bigger things. She just happens to be the clone of the most brilliant alien commander in the whole universe. She’s tired of waiting to be swept up by the alien fleet, but when her wish comes true she may just find she’s in over her head. But with her best friend by her side as well as a group of brilliant earthlings, she may find a way to save the day.

I got this as an advanced reading copy thanks to Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. So let me be perfectly honest and say that this was a good book just begging to be great.

There was quite a bit I liked about Victories Greater Than Death so let me start with that before I get critical. I liked the main story. The idea behind a larger alien fleet (akin to Starfleet) in a battle against a group whose main goal is the genocide of anyone not like them is a very engaging plot. The huge universe Charlie Jane Anders built had more potential than almost anything I’ve ever read before.

The main issue with this book was that it felt cluttered. It felt like Anders was trying to do too much. It felt like this should have been a 500+ page book but it had to be cut down to under 300 pages. Because of this, the two main parts of the story felt disjointed. We had the character driven elements, how the earthlings got along and became friends, and we had the bigger story of good vs. evil. But the main focus of the story was so heavy on the character elements that the battle against The Compassion (the bad guys) felt like it was tacked on as an afterthought. This should have been a book like The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet which was more character driven and you knew it was a character driven story going in. 

Also, it was weird that the bad guys kept on showing up but the good guys couldn't get back up to save their lives. In fact, the good side seemed like a group of inept idiots. The Compassion could show up any place at any time but the heroes couldn't find anyone from their group to help? Even if there was a line of exposition that explains this, it's still bad. You can't expect me to imagine a Star Fleet type group that can't muster even one ship to help.

Let's make this positive! So more good stuff. The aliens had a world where saying your pronouns when you introduce yourself to someone is commonplace.  I liked that as it helped normalize the giving of pronouns AND it makes perfect sense because there are so many alien species that were this real, it’d be impossible to memorize every alien species genders. I believe anything that normalizes that in our modern culture is a positive. If it matters to you, you should give your pronouns to those you meet and it should be a normal thing. 

Back to what needed work. Parts of the book were too “infodumpy.” There are so many different alien species and characters that it became hard to remember anything without going back to the beginning of the book to remember it all. Even the earthlings were hard to follow and there were only a handful of them. There was a list of things at the end of the book but it killed the pace of the book having to go back and check stuff. I've read tome sized epic fantasy books that were less confusing. 

Also, we have this group battling against bad guys who want to commit genocide on a level never seen before. But Tina starts having second thoughts about killing. What a great idea! You're fighting against actual evil, a group who would kill billions if they got the chance, and you decide you no longer want to kill. It's stupid and unreasonable. 

Also, there were times when the earthlings were all a bit extra. Rachel could have been a great example of mental health issues but her mental problems were never properly explored so she just came across as the weird kid. Rachel disappears for chapters at a time because of her mental health issues and there's a golden opportunity to talk about them, but nope, she's just the weirdo. It could have been a great excuse to talk about anxiety or depression or autism or anything that could cause her to act the way she does. Unfortunately Rachel comes across as a trope instead of a lesson.

Normally when I have this much negative to say about a book, it would lead to either a critically low score or a DNF. But something kept me coming back to find out how everything ends and that’s what kept my score from dipping lower. I kept picking it up over and over again even though I was frustrated.

This book needs better editing. It needed to be passed by a writing group first. It needed some help because there’s a great story in here somewhere, but one too many issues kept this story from shinning. 

This book could have been great. But it's just mediocre at best.

Victories Greater Than Death gets a 5.5 out of 11

I'd like to thank Net Galley for the opportunity to read and ARC of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This book comes out on April 13th, 2021.

31 Movies of Halloween Part 2

Thursday 15 October 2020

 Yay! We're still going strong. It's time for the next five movies I've watched this Halloween season. There's a fun mix so you may just find your next spooky watch.


This is a film from way back in 2005 starring Christina Ricci, Jessie Eisenberg, Milo Ventimiglia, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer, Portia de Rossi, and Shannon Elizabeth. It's about a pair of siblings who get cursed by a werewolf and have to figure out what to do to avoid becoming werewolves themselves.

This was a truly fun movie. Werewolf films are fun but not nearly as popular as zombies or vampires, so it's always nice to find a new one. It's especially nice if it's a good movie. This film here may seem like a 90's cheesey horror holdout, but it's really a fun and cleaver film that wasn't entirely predictable. 

This isn't a perfect film, but it's good enough to be entertaining and stands the test of time. There's nothing hugely problematic or cringey that would keep me from rewatching it so this will now go on my yearly rewatch list. The few times they use CG is obviously outdated but practical effects are used to which keep this from being hard to watch.

Cursed gets an 8 out of 11

The Forest

A woman goes into Japan's Suicide Forest to find her missing twin sister and confronts a supernatural terror (Premise from IMDB) This stars Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones.

I had been wanting to watch this one for a while. Since I'm half Japanese, I'm quite interested with anything having to do with Japan. Asians don't get a lot of love in Hollywood in general so I'm jump at the chance to see anything with Asian representation (unless it's an awful remake of an Asian film). But for one reason or another I never got around to this one but this year I finally did.

And it was okay. It was just okay. I didn't hate it, but I also didn't particularly enjoy it. The acting was fine, the plot was okay, but it never quite clicked. The characters were a big let down in this film as Sarah was the biggest idiot ever and everything bad that happened in the forest was her fault. I won't say to much so I don't spoil it, but when you go somewhere and experts are telling you not to do something and you go and do it anyway, you fully deserve your fate.

There were also too many jump scares and dream sequences. It was hard to feel any fear when you knew the jump was coming because they were setting you up for it, and also some of the scares had no effect because they ended up being dreams and thus the fear didn't carry over into reality. 

This isn't a bad film, like I said. This was just a mediocre at best film. The Japanese Suicide Forest still has a lot of potential that someone else can try and work with later.

The Forest gets a 5 out of 11

Don't Knock Twice

A mother desperate to reconnect with her troubled daughter becomes embroiled in the urban legend of a demonic witch after her daughter knocks on the witches door, incurring  her wrath.

I had no idea what to expect from this film. I had never heard of it. But my wife wanted me to watch it and she knows my tastes pretty well. What I eneded up watching was an interesting B list horror movie. It has an interesting plot with a little bit of mystery thrown in. Though I could see what the red herring was, I didn't see the ending coming and that served as a nice surprise. 

This movie had good characters who didn't make stupid decisions, which is always good to see in modern horror. The acting was good, better than you'd expect from a non-artsy indie horror. This stars Katee Sackhoff who is no stranger to horror and Lucy Boynton who has been in more well received movies than I had realized (and she was good in them too). So this film has a good plot with a twinge of mystery, good characters, and good actors playing said characters. So all in all, this is a fine horror that I wouldn't mind adding to my yearly rewatch list. 

Don't Knock Twice gets an 8.5 out of 11 

Hubie Halloween

Despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem (and its Halloween celebration), Hubie Dubois is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something is going bump in the night, and it's up to Hubie to save Halloween. (Premise from IMDB). This stars a lot of people so to keep this short I'll just mention Adam Sandler.

TLDR for my longer review:

The best thing about Hubie Halloween is the strong seasonal atmosphere of the film. Just like Hocus Pocus or Trick 'r Treat, this is a great film if you're really wanting something full of the Halloween spirit. As for the plot? It's mediocre at best. It has promise but is just not very good. Also, is Adam Sandler's Waterboy style voice still okay? Isn't he doing an impression of someone with a mental illness or birth defect? 

Hubie Halloween gets a 5 out of 11

Would You Rather

Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman unknowingly agrees to compete in a deadly game of "Would You Rather," hosted by a sadistic aristocrat. (Premise from IMDB). This stars Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect), Jonny Coyne (Alcatraz), John Heard (Home Alone), Eddie Steeples (My Name Is Earl), Logan Miller (Love, Simon), Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham), and porn star Sasha Grey.

Have you ever wondered what kind of movie someone would make if they just kind of watched Saw once and thought they got the general idea then tried to remake it with an evil Rich Uncle Pennybags as the villain? You'd get Would You Rather! Yay!

This film had a lot of promise. It was an interesting idea that felt like it never got fleshed out. It feels like the script was going through rewrites and they just ran out of time and submitted something half finished. There's a gem of an idea hidden somewhere in the mess that was presented. The cast wasn't bad except for Sasha Grey who felt like a dollar store Megan Fox. 

Would You Rather gets a 4 out of 11

Odessa by Jonathan Hill | Book Review

Eight years ago an earthquake—the Big One—hit along the west coast of the United States. Life as we know it changed forever. But for Vietnamese-American Virginia Crane, life changed shortly after the earthquake, when her mother left and never came back. She has since gotten used to a life without her mother, helping her father take care of her two younger brothers, Wes and Harry. But when a mysterious package arrives for her eighteenth birthday, her life is shaken up yet again. For the first time, Ginny wants something more than to survive. And it might be a selfish desire, but she's determined to find out what happened to her mother—even if it means leaving her family behind.

I received this as an advanced reading copy from Net Galley and the publisher for an honest review. I saved posting this until Odessa actually came out. The fact that it was free did not affect my review.

So this is a post-apocalyptic drama/adventure with hints of Sci-Fi elements that follows a group of kids as they travel. You have Ginny, a na├»ve girl who's a terrible caregiver, you have the middle child Wes who somehow has more common sense than his older sister, and finally you have Harry who's sole job is to be a moron and get in trouble. 

If you sensed a hint of bitterness with that last line, you're not wrong. I found a lot of the character's actions to be unbelievable. Harry was born around the time of the earthquake (that's not a spoiler) so we can assume they've lived in this new post apocalyptic world for a few years now. I refuse to believe that Ginny and Wes (and most of the good adults too) can have lived in this world since the beginning and still be so stupid. Ginny holds on so tight to her old pre-earthquake moral compass that if it were coal, she'd get a diamond. Her annoying innocence gets them into trouble and even has repercussions for the end of volume one.. 

Also, for a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the kids seem to stumble across every nice adult that exists and they just always happen to find what they need. I never once feared for their lives. Even when they were in danger I never ever thought that anything could ever happen to them because their plot armor was so thick that it could withstand a nuclear blast.

The only two characters worth a damn in this were Four Dollar (a guy they stumble upon in a time of need) and Wes because he's not a gigantic moron. Four Dollar was actually an interesting character and I would rather read about him. Wes stood out because he was the smartest both in terms of "street smarts" and emotional intelligence. I believe Ginny was supposed to serve as some sort of moral compass, but she just came across as an idiot.

There was a very very small love story which had to potential to be really cute, but it was greatly ignored in volume one. 

Odessa has promise but volume one was a gargantuan let down.

Odessa gets a 4 out of 11

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse | Book Review

Wednesday 14 October 2020

 There are two things I can say about Net Galley. The first is that it's really screwed up my reading plans. I'm all ready to pick up the next book on my TBR but what's that? I just got approved for a book I wanted? Well there go my plans. The second thing I can say is that it's given me the opportunity to read a lot of good stuff for free. When I saw that Rebecca Roanhorse's new book was available to request, I jumped on it. Now the book is out available for purchase from your local book peddler and in celebration of that, here's my review.

I already want the next book. I want it in my hands now. So if you're looking for a simple good or bad review, this is it. This book is good. In fact, it's wonderful. But for those of you who want more, I'll go on.

Premise: A ship sets sail for the holy city of Tova. On that ship is Xiala, the captain who is a disgraced Teek. She has the power of song that can calm the seas and warp men's minds. She has one goal, to deliver a passenger named Serapio to the holy city in time for the convergence, a holy time. But this year the convergence is happening alongside a solar eclipse and Serapio, the blind and scarred young man, has a destiny to fulfill. There is also Naranpa, the Sun Priest, who aims to reunite the people of Tova who have long since distrusted the priesthood. But she has enemies from all sides who don't want her to succeed. 

I had a bit of fear when picking up this book. I feared that I would get confused. There really is a lot going on and one of the downsides of the fantasy genre is that if it's not done well, it's easy to get lost. I'm currently reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan and I got lost more than once. But I'm happy to say that Rebecca Roanhorse is a pro and it never got too hard to follow.

There was a good mix of characters and not many of them fell into any classic trope. Even if they did fit a certain trope's niche, they were their own person and not some cardboard cutout of what's expected of the genre. There was also no clear bad side. Though I did pick a side, it's not as clear as something like Jedi vs Sith. The characters and their various plights have depth beyond good vs evil and I loved that. Naranpa's goals are pure and honest. She wants to restore people's faith in the priesthood. Serapio's goals are honorable. He wants to bring forth an long dead god to bring his people back to their former glory. These two goals can't coincide. Only one side can win and I'm not sure who I want to get the metaphorical gold.

There was also wonderful representation for the LGBTQ+ community. A main character is Bi. More than one important side characters use gender neutral pronouns, and there's even transgendered representation. The best thing is, is that it all came about naturally. It never felt forced to meet some sort of unspoken woke quota. The only thing I found difficult was the use of the xe/xir pronouns since I'm used to the more popular they/them. But that's not really a big deal at all at it was easy to get used to even if it was jarring at first.

 The world Roanhorse created is vast and full of possibility. Just like Terry Brooks's Shannara, Roanhorse's world in the Between Earth and Sky series has a lot of potential for stories beyond this series. Everything was original too which makes the promise for more even more intriguing. But right now all I want is the sequel to Black Sun. IT doesn't end on a huge cliffhanger, but it's so good that I want more right away.

Black Sun is a fun read. It has a very intriguing story with great characters that tell a unique tale. The world is immersive and easy to understand but that doesn't take away from the wonder of it all. Rebecca Roanhorse is a master of her craft and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to read this book.

Black Sun gets an 11 out of 11

The Hallotober Tag 2020

Monday 12 October 2020

Hello friends! It's time for another Tag, this time it's the Hallotober tag. I was tagged by my wonderful wife RootingBranches so don't forget to go show her some love and check out her answers for this tag. The rules are as follows:

1. Thank the person who tagged you and link to their post
2. Put the rules at the beginning or after the introduction
3. Answer the 13 questions
4. Tag 13 people to do the tag
5. Delete question 13, add a new number one question to your own
6. You are free to use the tag image somewhere in the post.

1) You're attending a fancy smancy Halloween party. Money is no issue, what costume do you choose?

I'd be one of the Ghostbusters complete with a proton pack replica. That's always been my dream costume. 

2) What’s your favorite thing about October?

I love the fact that once October starts, the prepping for Halloween starts. You see themed candies on sale in the store, you see horror movies becoming more popular, and it's now okay to start decorating. I like the fact that it starts to get colder and you can go on nice long walks with a cup of coffee. 

 3) Are you a big celebrator of Halloween?

Not as much as some, but a lot more than most. Thanks to my wife, the level of decorating done in the house has skyrocketed, but we also get more Halloween themed treats and start to primarily watch horror movies. The closer it gets to Halloween, the more themed TV shows like the Brooklyn Nine Nine heist episodes, 

4) What’s your favorite horror movie?

This one is very hard. My answer is very fluid as it always changes. I can tell you some of my favorites though! Thirteen Ghosts is a classic that is going back on my yearly rewatch list this year. The new Halloween and Halloween H2O are must watches for me. 

5) Would you rather a cozy night in watching horrors or a big night out in a costume?

Younger me would have said a big night out, but now that I'm an old old man  (37) I like a night in. I wouldn't be opposed to going out, but not spending the whole night out. At most, go out and have a few drinks then go home and watch movies and eat candy.

6) Which has been your most favorite costume to date?

I was never much for costumes because as I kid I was fixated on masks and my parents would buy me one, but that would be my whole costume budget so I'd just be in a t-shirt, jeans, and a mask. It wasn't until my adult years that I realized masks aren't all they're cracked up to be so I think my favorite costume was when I did an 11th Doctor (from Doctor Who) cosplay for an anime convention and used that again for Halloween.

7) Bobbing for apples or pin the hat on the witch?

Seeing as I have never heard of "pin the hat on the witch" I'd have to say bobbing for apples. I can guess that it's a "pin the tail on the donkey." Either way, bobbing for apples seems like more of an event. Though seeing as my wife is allergic to apples, it doesn't seem fair to play that without her.

8) How do you celebrate Halloween?

Movies, Food, Snacks. If someone I know is having a low-key party I may stop by, but usually I like to stay home and watch anything that gets me in the Halloween spirit. 

9) What’s your least favorite horror?

Anything Rob Zombie. I like his music but his movies are a bit much. It goes extreme for the sake of being extreme and that doesn't make it good or clever. The Nun also sucked. I love the Conjuringverse but The Nun sucked.

10) Do you have a favorite trick or treating memory?

Here's the thing. I have a terrible memory. Truly awful. I don't remember a lot of my childhood. But I DO have a favorite trick or treating memory. I was but a wee lad and my dad was chaperoning my friends and I for the night. We walked up to a house that had all the telltale signs of being open for business. The lights were on and there were decorations so it means open for business. So we walked up to the house and knocked... and nothing happened. We knocked again but that's when I noticed the scarecrow that was placed in a chair by the door. I noticed that between the glove and the shirt sleeve there was skin and hair. So I was about to point it out when the guy leaned forward and said "do you want some candy?" He scared the crap out of the group I was with but I was fine!

11) What’s your favorite thing about Halloween?

I love the mood. I love the ambiance of the season. I love watching scary movies back to back to back with junk food that I'd never allow myself so much of any other time of the year.

12) Scary costume or Silly costume?

It really depends. I think this is more of a mood decision. I've never really done a scary costume, opting more for a nerdy cosplay, but if I had a good idea, I'd totally go scary.

13) What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Easy. The Reese's Pumpkin. There's more peanut butter in the pumpkin than a standard peanut butter cup. I also like the Resse's Ghosts since it's white chocolate which is a nice change.

Quick note about the questions. It seems most people have been deleting question 13 then adding their new question for 13, but the rules say "delete question 13 and add a new number one question." So, in true D&D fashion, I'm going with the rules as written and adding my question at the top.

My Questions

1) In the spirit of Freddy vs Jason, what is your dream horror villain match up?
2) You're attending a fancy smancy Halloween party. Money is no issue, what costume do you choose?
3) What’s your favorite thing about October?
4) Are you a big celebrator of Halloween?
5) What’s your favorite horror movie?
6) Would you rather a cozy night in watching horrors or a big night out in a costume?
7) Which has been your most favorite costume to date?
8) Bobbing for apples or pin the hat on the witch?
9) How do you celebrate Halloween?
10) What’s your least favorite horror?
11) Do you have a favorite trick or treating memory?
12) What’s your favorite thing about Halloween?
13) Scary costume or Silly costume?

When it comes to tagging people, I must admit that I don't know a lot of bloggers yet as I need to be more active in the community. That, and my wife and I know a lot of the same people so she steals all of my friends. So, instead, I tag you, my dear reader! If you are a blogger and have yet to be tagged, consider yourself tagged by me. 

Punching The Air | Book Review

Sunday 11 October 2020

 Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam is about a young man named Amal Shahid how gets wrongfully accused of a violent crime and sent to a juvenile detention facility. This story, written in verse, is about Amal and how he fights to maintain his sense of self and humanity in a prison that aims to break him. This story is loosely based on Yusef Salaam’s experience was one of the Central Park Five.

I received this audiobook as an advanced listening copy from Net Galley and Harper Audio in exchange for an honest review and honestly, I’m thankful I got to listen to this.

Books in verse are always hit or miss for me because poetry can be a more fluid art form that can leave more up to interpretation than prose can. This story was easy to follow but the ease of reading (or listening in my case) didn’t stop it from being deep and meaningful.

The narrator, Ethan Herisse, did a wonderful job and had a unique voice for all the characters. His cadence carried the intensity of the verse wonderfully and he helped me get lost in the story.

Amal was a great character because he was wonderfully in the middle. He wasn’t some perfect angel of a kid but on the other side of things, he wasn’t some “bad kid” who always got into trouble. It could be said that Amal has a bad attitude. He has a problem with authority figures who don’t seem to believe in him and more than once his first instinct is to throw a punch.  He’s a very realistic young man and I think it helps to show that this type of injustice can happen to anyone.

Punching the Air is very blunt about prison. Nothing graphic happens but there is violence against inmates, some of which obviously comes from a place of racism. But there’s also a few positive elements too like a kind guard, a friend Amal makes, and a poetry class that captures his attention. But the good stuff never once made prison look like anything other than an awful place. It just showed that Amal was finding ways to stay sane during it all.

This story has an important message. We need prison reform and we need to share stories about those who were wrongfully incarcerated as well as those who did commit a crime, but got harsher sentences due to the color of their skin, as well as addressing the treatment of prisoners.

Punching the Air is a wonderful book that tells an important story and it does so with a memorable main character and it’s written in a style that captured my attention from the first moment.

Punching the Air gets a 10 out of 11

Tenet | Movie Review

Saturday 10 October 2020

 This movie was sitting, waiting to go for quite a while. We know that COVID pushed it back and that for a while the hype behind it claimed that it was going to single handedly save cinema. Theaters were hurting due to lockdown and this was the film that was going to bring everyone back. But it didn't go that way. America didn't get the pandemic under control and movie after movie got pushed back to 2021 and beyond. Some were released straight to VOD. But Tenet came out anyway. Here's my review.

Quick note. If audio is more your thing, I talked about this film as well as my experience going back to theaters on my podcast Future Flicks with Billiam which can be found anywhere you listen to podcasts. Look for Return to Theaters and Tenet Review - Ep 183

Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. (Premise from IMDB).

This stars John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga), Elizabeth Debicki (Everest), Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla), Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Michael Caine (The Dark Knight), and Indian actress Dimple Kapadia. It was written and directed by Christopher Nolan who did Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy.

Let's be honest, You know if you like Christopher Nolan's work already. If you like movies at all you've seen something he's done and by now you should know your feelings on his work. The question now is, how confusing is it?

Before the movie came out there were quite a few stories of the actors having no idea what the film was even about or how things worked within it, but that could have just been Nolan's strategy from preventing leaks. Michael Caine was only given his scene to work with and given nothing else of the plot. John David Washington was only allowed to read the script in Nolan's locked office. So the fact that no one on the cast really had a clue, doesn't surprise me.

I do have to be honest though, this film took a while for me to get into for one good reason. This begins faster than a coked up greyhound race and the protagonist (he's never given a name) just kind of goes along with it and knows what to do. He's told about the word tenet, he's introduced to a scientist that tells him how the weird time stuff works, he's told what he has to do, and he's just sent on his way without anything else. It's a jarring beginning to a film that could have used a little more to start with. The film was already two and half hours, would ten more minutes of exposition really been that bad?

But that aside, I eventually go it. I understood what was going on in the movie and I felt confident watching the film that I wasn't missing anything hugely important. I have no doubt that a rewatch will reveal even more to me, but one time through didn't leave me with any unanswerable plot related questions. 

The acting was phenomenal. John David Washington is the new hotness and he's already ready to explode. I wouldn't be surprised if he surpasses his dad in pure acting talent. His dad is Denzel Washington, if you didn't know. Robert Pattinson is further escaping his Twilight/Harry Potter past and showing us he's much more than a teen heartthrob, and everyone else involved was, at the very least, good. There were no wooden or lackluster performances in this movie. 

The cinematography was astounding with no wasted shots. Not once did I stop to wonder why we saw a certain scene or why anything was needed. Christopher Nolan knew what he wanted and it translated flawlessly to the screen. Nolan is no stranger to CG or other computer aided movie telling tools, but what sets him apart is his use of conventional means. Remember the scene in Inception when Joseph Gordon Levitt was walking up the walls? Do you also remember that was real and they built a rotating set for it? That's the kind of stuff that sets Nolan apart from other blockbuster directors. For certain scenes the actors had to learn how to speak backwards, they had to learn how to fight backwards, a lot of this was done conventionally and that will only add to the film's longevity. 

 Tenet was fantastic. I loved it. I loved it even more once I got passed the slightly confusing beginning. Do I love it more than Inception or The Dark Knight trilogy? Maybe not. But this was a fantastic film that was well worth a watch. Yes, you should watch this. Yes, you should own this, and yes, you should watch this more than once.

Tenet gets a 10 out of 11

Net Galley Wrap Up #3

Friday 9 October 2020

 Hi friends. It's time for another Net Galley wrap up. This one is graphic novels and manga again because, well, they're the easiest thing to read and rate on Net Galley. So sue me! But I digress, here are the next five graphic novels I've read.

Cagaster Vol 1 by Kachou Hashimoto

Manga is funny. Not funny haha, but funny in the sense that 

Cagaster vol 1 is set in the year 2155 after (back in the year 2125) a plague called "cagaster" turns one in a thousand people into man eating bugs which are also called "cagaster." Now a young expert exterminator naked Kidou has been tasked with protecting a helpless girl named Ilie and finding her mother. 

This is a basic action manga. A 17 year old boy is somehow an expert and he meets a helpless girl and the two form an instant and inseparable bond even though Kidou is a huge jerk. In fact, he's really mean to Ilie and gives her no reason to actually like him, but she does because she's an manga heroine and she has to like the main character because of reasons. 

The story is weak and the characters are huge tropes. There is nothing new, challenging, or even remotely interesting about this. I've read so many others that are better. Skip this.

One of it's selling points is that there's an anime on Netflix based on it. But don't waste your time. Watch One Piece or Food Wars or literally anything else.

Cagaster Vol 1 gets a 3 out of 11

The Wizerd! And The Potion of Dreams by Michael Sweater and Rachel Dukes

This is about The Wizerd who's a recluse and is very happy to stay at home not going on adventures. One day the brash and foolhardy Princess Wallace attacks the Wizeard out of nowhere and tries to convince them to help them  make a wishing potion. The Wizeard agrees and the two start an adventure. Along the way they meet an archer who they help get out of a sticky situation and together the group goes on their quest.

This is at least a YA graphic novel if not even a middle grade.  I think it's very important to keep that in mind when you read because it's not a very challenging story. What it is, is cute. It's perfect if you just want a fun and enjoyable story or you want something to read along with your kids.

This is a very positive, very innocent, and very pure story. There may be swords, explosions, and fighting, but never once did I think anyone was actually going to get hurt. So if you're reading this to a very young child, maybe just do the good parent thing of reminding them that hitting their friends with swords is a no no. But other than that, there's no reason that even very young kids could enjoy this.

If you have read any other reviews for this graphic novel, you have have seen others compare the art style to Adventure Time. I too will add that comparison but also add in some inspiration from Dr. Seuss. The art isn't bad or lazy. It's very purposeful in it's whimsical cartoon style.

If you're looking for a quick and fun read. This is your book. If you're looking for something to read with your children or as a gift for a young relative, this is your book. If you're looking for something that's boundary pushing and progressive, then look elsewhere. But for just plain enjoyability, this is for you.

The Wizerd! And The Potion of Dreams gets an 8 out of 11

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O'Neill

This is the third book in the Tea Dragon series and it's still just as cute and adorable as the first. It still follows Greta and Minette with the Tea Dragons but this time they have different problems. Greta struggles with her future and a potential apprenticeship with a renowned blacksmith. Also, she can't seem to help her Tea Dragon Ginseng deal with its depression because of the loss of its former owner.  All the while, Minette is dealing with problems of her own.  She is suffering from some deep dark homesickness and lack of purpose. Together and with the help of their friends, Greta and Minette can find their way. 

I love the Tea Dragon series and I'm so thankful that my wife discovered this series AND that Net Galley had this ARC. This is a truly wonderful children's book that had some beautiful illustrations and had a very open and positive story.  

This is what a kids book should be. It's beautifully inclusive and makes the inclusivity look like an everyday normal thing which it is and should always be.  There are different races getting along, There are characters of color. There is LGBTQ representation. There's a disabled character and it even deals with mental health. The story normalizes all of it without coming across as preachy.

I plan buying this series for my children because it's the type of book I want them to read. As a bonus, I would love to reread our myself.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry gets an 11 out of 11

Kusama by Elisa Macellari

I was only mildly familiar with Yayoi Kusama before reading this graphic novel. I knew who she was due to taking an art history class as well as my own Grandmother's interest in all things Japanese since she herself was Japanese. 

What I expected going into this was a biographical graphic novel. But what I ended up with was a beautifully illustrated cliffsnotes version of Kusama's story.

Don't misunderstand. I liked this. The art was beautiful and I learned quite a bit more than I knew previously. To be honest my level of knowledge went from almost nothing to a little bit of thanks to this book.

This was pleasant to read thanks to Elisa Macellari's wonderful art. Kusama herself had (has) a life that ranged from sad to somber but the vivid colors and style of Macellari's art was the perfect vessel for Kusama's story.

I would still like to know even more about her life but outside of a full biography, this was a good start. If you buy this, do it for the art. Do it for a taste of a larger story.

Kusama gets a 7 out of 11

Haiku Illustrated translated by Hart Larrabee

I remember this

The counting on my fingers

And making haiku

But all joking aside, this is a well done book. Just like I was taught from Dead Poets Society,  I don't critique poetry. But what I can do is tell you that I did love the Haiku and thought they were quite beautiful. Are they good? Well I liked them and that's as much as I'm going to say about the poems.

There was artwork in this book as well and it ranged from beautiful Japanese woodblocks to a photo of a tree. The pictures were my only issue. The woodblocks were nice and topical but the random other pictures or small drawings felt out of place and it messed with the flow of the theme.  Hopefully in the final product they'll change it.

But a few of the pictures being less than topical was truly my only issue. This was a great book and perfect for a coffee table conversation piece or as a thoughtful gift.

Haiku Illustrated gets a 7.5 out of 11

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