{Film Review} Tomb Raider

Having not been one for video games, my first introduction to Lara Croft came through the Angelina Jolie films. While I love most adventure films, the original Tomb Raider flicks never clicked with me. Mostly that had to do with Jolie as Lara. My preferred action heroines are the likes of Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, and Katniss, and Jolie’s sexy BAMF just didn’t resonate with me.

Enter Alicia Vikander as the new Lara Croft.

I don’t like pitting heroines against each other, and I won’t do it here except simply to say that where I found nothing relatable in Jolie’s version of Lara, Vikander’s more tomboyish everywoman was a character I felt a connection with. She’s a very Katniss-like heroine, a normal young woman caught up in the extraordinary for the sake of her family.

Tomb Raider essentially serves as a superhero origin story for Vikander’s Lara Croft. When we meet her, she’s a down-on-her-luck bike courier who’s willing to join a madcap race through London just to make a couple hundred dollars. Lara’s chosen this less-than-glamorous life because the alternative–living as an heiress–would mean declaring her father dead. Her life as a normal bike courier gets upset, however, when she learns that her father went missing while trying to find the final resting place of Himiko, a woman who could kill with a single touch. Still unable to accept his death, Lara journeys to the island herself to find out what happened to her father.

Alicia Vikander makes for a perfect Lara. She’s a rather impressive everywoman in the way that Ripley is a rather impressive everywoman in Alien. There’s nothing glamorous about her. She cries when she kills someone, groans in pain during all her action scenes, and gets covered in dirt, blood, and scratches over the course of the film.  Certainly, she performs superhuman feats, but she makes you believe that had you been a boxing, bike courier, you might be able to survive a rusted out airplane on a waterfall too. Alicia Vikander absolutely shines through both the action sequences and the more personal, heartfelt moments, and between her performance in this and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., she’s proven she can be a brilliant action star.

As for her antagonist, Walter Goggins gives it his all as the violently unhinged Mathias. He plays a man who’s spent too long on a (mostly) deserted island and is willing to risk ending the world to go home to his daughters. Walter Goggins spends much of his screentime with spacey, wide eyes and a gun in hand. It’s effective and yet it doesn’t make him a particularly dynamic villain in the end. It’s not a total waste, however, because he gets some great villainous moments and his big fight with Lara impresses.

Daniel Wu and Dominic West fare better in their roles. Daniel Wu functions not just as a potential love interest for Lara (there’s light flirting but no romance in this film) but also as a co-hero in his own right. He has a story arc complete with sad father/son backstory and plays a separate role in saving the day. His character Lu Ren is completely likeable in that roguish partner-in-crime sort of way, and I hope, should there be a sequel, he returns to fight Trinity beside Lara. As for Dominic West, he truly shines as Richard. His father/daughter chemistry with Alicia Vikander is perfect, and he manages to turn Richard into a three-dimensional character in spite of being out of the action for a good chunk of the film.

Thanks to the father/child dynamic, in many ways Tomb Raider feels like a remake of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. While the dialogue between Lara and Richard might not be as snappy as Indy and Henry’s, their relationship is just as fraught with miscommunication and baggage. On top of that, the crawl through Himiko’s tomb is filled with as many traps, puzzles, and moral quandaries as Indy’s quest for the Holy Grail. It’s shocking that Tomb Raider doesn’t come out the worse for the comparison, but it’s a genuinely fun and exciting adventure film in its own right.

After my ambivalent feelings toward the original two films, I was shocked to fall in love with new Tomb Raider. It’s successful both as an adventure film and as an introduction to an amazing, new heroine. I don’t often want to see films twice in the theater, but I’d willing go back again. If an adventure film with an awesome female lead and a bit of heart sounds like your cup of tea, definitely check out Tomb Raider too!

What Tomb Raider game would you recommend to a n00b? Who are your favorite action heroines?


{Top Ten Tuesday} My Favorite Bookish Quotes

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Joining in on Top Ten Tuesday! If you’d like to find out more, check out That Artsy Reader Girl for more info!

There’s a Flight of the Conchords recording where Jemaine forgets the lyrics to “Abli the Racist Dragon.” He perfectly sums up my difficulty with quotes when he responds to Brett asking him what happens next with the phrase, “I remember. Not in words but in images.”

To put it simply, I’m horrendous with quotes. My brain doesn’t like details (which is probably why my quest to recap TV shows hasn’t amounted to much). I cannot quote a movie to save my life and actual prose from books? Impossible! My brain collects images and trivia but not actual words and phrases. The only things I can semi-quote from memory are weird lines from Happy Endings, Emma (specifically the 1996 adaptation), and Lord of the Rings.

Obviously, my quoting skills are in high demand.

Thankfully, with the internet and all, being able to drudge quotes up from the black hole of my mind is not necessary. I can use those images in my head and google the phrases that pair with them. I cannot promise you these are my ten favorite quotes, however. They’re just the ones that I can vaguely kinda sorta remember–which for me is a close as it’s going to get.

{Top Ten Tuesday} My Favorite Bookish Quotes

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  1. “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” ~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” (1).jpg 2.  “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” ~ Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

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3. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Rings

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4. “I have a strange feeling with regard to you. As if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly knotted to a similar string in you. And if you were to leave I’m afraid that cord of communion would snap. And I have a notion that I’d take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, you’d forget me.” ~ Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

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5. “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” ~ Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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6. “Anyone who believes what a cat tells him deserves all he gets.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Stardust

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7.  “Just kidding’ was exactly what people wrote when they meant every word.” ~ David Nicholls, One Day

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8. “True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops.” William Goldman, The Princess Bride

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9. “You seem a decent fellow,” Inigo said. “I hate to kill you.”  “You seem a decent fellow,” answered the man in black. “I hate to die.” ~ William Goldman, The Princess Bride

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10. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Are you any good at remembering quotes? What are your favorites?


What I Read {February 2018}

{February 2018}.jpgFebruary was a sad reading month. Normally, I read about ten books a month (which may or may not include Graphic Novels), but in February, I read only five. Part of the problem was my weirdo brain being unable to focus on things and the other part was that nothing sounded particularly good. I somehow managed to finish two children’s books, a YA, a Mystery, and a reread, but I floundered when it came to deciding what to read next (another Rick Riordan–which is admittedly getting old). I need a good series dive into, but I’m struggling to find something–not written by Rick Riordan–that will hold my attention. If you have any recommendations for series that pull you in, let me know. I’m getting a tad desperate. As for what I did read this month, not one will rank in my favorite books of the year, but most were an enjoyable enough way to pass the time.

What I Read

Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey ~ After reading 100 pages of Miss Pym Disposes, I checked the spine of my copy to make certain I hadn’t dreamed the “Mystery” sticker on the side. It was there, but the mystery didn’t show up until the book was 75% over. Josephine Tey’s not-so-mysterious Mystery turned out to be far more concerned with the title character’s ruminations on what makes good girls go bad (the story takes places in a woman’s athletic college) and less on the actual whodunnit. Seeing as I prefer my mysteries with a little more murder, mayhem, and investigation, Miss Pym Disposes was a let-down. *Two Stars*

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan ~ Upon finishing the Percy Jackson series, I decided to skip over Heroes of Olympus and check out Riordan’s Magnus Chase trilogy. What a mistake! The Sword of Summer is identical to The Lightning Thief in far too many ways, and unfortunately, in none of those ways does it come out as a winner. Both stories are about troublesome boys who find out they are demigods and go on similar type Hero’s Journeys. It’s predictable and it didn’t help matters that the female member of Magnus’ gang was a complete snooze-fest in comparison with Annabeth. I really wanted to like the series, but I’m dropping it for now and going back to Heroes of Olympus. *Three Stars*

Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson ~ I love weird, classic children’s novels, and while Comet in Moominland falls into that category, it is nowhere near as wonderful as my favorites in the genre, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. Comet in Moominland is about a family of hippopotamus-like beings who go on an adventure when it seems as if a comet is going to destroy their happy, little valley. Jansson’s novel is an odd combination of traditional gender roles and bleak plot and I, truthfully, found it a bit dull. *Two Stars*

The Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm ~ The true winner of this month! If you combined The Bachelor with Austenland and added a dash of A Christmas Prince, you’d get The Prince in Disguise. After main character’s sister gets engaged to a “prince” through a reality TV show, she and her family are forced to do a TV special centered around the big wedding. Of course, hijinks and romance ensue and it’s too cute. While I might not be a Bachelor fan, I have a penchant for modern day prince/princess stories so this entire book was catnip for me. *Four Stars*

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ~ I rounded off the month with the perfect reread. Hitchhiker’s Guide is one of my favorite books of all time and it doesn’t get old no matter how many times I reread it. The jokes still make me giggle and I love hanging out with Arthur Dent, Ford Perfect, and the gang. Since I now own the rest of the books in the series, I might finally finish it–even though none of the other novels are quite as good as the first. *Five Stars*

What was your favorite February read?

{February 28th} Comic Pull List

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It’s a good thing I’ve gone two weeks without purchasing a single comic because overall this month has been a doozy. (Far too many good graphic novels have been coming  out lately!) While I have a couple “Might Buys” this week like Legion #2 and Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1, there are four very important books I’m super psyched to grab, and the two single issue comics might even be my most anticipated series of the year.

Pull List

labyrinth-coronation.jpgJim Henson Labyrinth Coronation #1 by Simon Spurrier, Daniel Bayliss

Acting as prequel to the film, Labyrinth: Coronation features another young girl battling against a Goblin King. This time, however, she’s trying to save a boy named Jareth from his clutches. The art for this series looks gorgeous, and obviously, I am already sold on the plot. I cannot wait!



lockjaw.jpgLockjaw #1 by Daniel Kibblesmith and Carlos Villa

Lockjaw turned out to be one of the few redeeming qualities of the Inhumans TV series (which I have not finished. . .oops), and now he has his own solo comic. He’s always a very good boy, and I love whenever he shows up as part of the Pet Avengers. I fully expect to be awwing all over this thing.




Crosswind Vol 01 by Gail Simone and Cat Staggs

What if a hitman and a housewife swapped bodies? Well, that’s the idea behind Gail Simone and Cat Staggs’ violent, Freaky Friday-esque Crosswind. The first issue was fantastic with a awesome concept and grungy art. I’m excited to read more.





Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 7: Been Waiting for Squirrel by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

The always amazing Squirrel Girl is on her seventh volume! I always look forward to reading the next Unbeatable Squirrel Girl regardless of what adventures our plucky heroine embarks on–which reminds me, I’m several volumes behind on this series. *Heads to library and grabs volumes 5-6*


What are you picking up this week?

{Countdown to Disney} My Disney in December Bucket List

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The countdown begins. In just a few weeks, I’m journeying to Disney World for my very first Christmas Season at the Parks. I’m not going on actual Christmas (that would be too crazy),  but I still cannot wait to see all the holiday decorations and activities at Disney World.

As the day draws nearer, I’m feeling excited and a little nervous. This will be my second time at Disney World, but my first time there with hardcore anxiety (particularly triggered by crowds so. . .yeah). I’m planning on coping with the lines and bunches of people by loading podcasts and Disney music on my iPod shuffle, Honey Lemon. If you have any Disney-themed podcasts recommendations, please share (Star Wars and Marvel podcasts count too!). I’ll need all the fun, distracting listens I can get.

To help with the nerves, I’m watching Disney movies to get me in the spirit of things and trying to plan fun activities for the Parks to amp up my excitement for the trip. I created a bucket list of things I’d like to do at Disney, but I’m totally open for more ideas (like maybe great locations for photo-ops or characters I must meet). Tell me all your favorite things to do at Disney World, please!

Until then, here’s my bucket list. . .

My Disney World in December Bucket List

  • Disneybound ~ The likelihood of me Disneybounding on this trip is low, but I’d very much like to try. I will definitely be wearing Mickey Mouse ears–which is a start–but hopefully, I’ll be able to pull an entire outfit together before I go. *Fingers Crossed*
  • Ride the Jingle Cruise ~ I’m looking forward to all the Christmas decorations and fun, but riding the Jungle Cruise-turned-Jingle Cruise sounds like a blast. My first ride on the Jungle Cruise was memorable thanks to it raining so ridiculously hard that everyone was soaked and cracking up. It’d be awesome if my second ride was just as memorable.
  • Buy My First Disney Pin ~ I have a feeling souvenirs are going to be a problem. When I first went to Disney World, I was in an “I’m totally an adult” stage–which meant I decorated my room with adult things and wore clothes without animated characters or Star Wars quotes on them. That stage passed and I’m totally going to buy cute things. Disney pins, Ufufys, and whatever I can find with Nick Wilde on it is coming home with me.
  • Meet Gaston ~ Obviously, I want to meet Disney Princesses (last time, I met Jasmine and Pocahontas), but this time, I’d really, really like to say hello to Beauty and the Beast’s bad boy, Gaston.  
  • Ride Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey ~ We missed out on the FastPass for these rides, but I’m going to be fine waiting in line to ride the new Avatar rides. I’ve heard they’re amazing and the world Disney created around them is breathtaking. I’ll just need to rewatch Avatar before I go because I haven’t watched it since the theater.
  • Go to the Country Bear Jamboree ~ I’m still sad the Country Bears were “sick” last time I went to Disney. I’m 100% going to drag my parents to see them perform this time around.
  • Ride Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid and the entire New Fantasyland expansion were added after my first visit to Disney World. I cannot wait to see all the new buildings (most of them Beauty and the Beast related) and visit the new attractions like Journey of the Little Mermaid and Enchanted Tales with Belle.
  • Meet Kylo Ren ~ I love my Trash Prince Kylo Ren, so if you think I’m not going to get my picture taken with him in Disney Studios you’d be wrong.
  • Go to the Festival of Holidays at Epcot ~ Epcot is not my favorite park, but I think seeing the countries all Christmas-y will be amazing. I’m hoping to check out a few performances and try at least one (gluten free) Christmas treat.
  • See For the First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-a-Long ~ I love a good sing-a-long so a Frozen sing-a-long is a must-do for me.
  • Ride Frozen Ever After ~ My dark secret is that Maelstrom was one of my least favorite rides at Disney World. While I didn’t loathe it as much as Dinosaur, it underwhelmed me (also, it was dark & I hate the dark, fast-moving rides). I’m excited to ride its replacement Frozen Ever After. Sorry.

So, what are your favorite things to do at Disney World? Anything I should add to my list?

{ARC Review} Devils and Thieves by Jennifer Rush

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I received an ARC of Devils and Thieves by Jennifer Rush from The NOVL in exchange for an honest review.

In Devils and Thieves, Jemmie Carmichael doesn’t do magic. It’s not that she can’t (although she doesn’t believe her locant powers are very strong); it’s that magic causes an almost synesthetic response in her. When she casts spells or when someone else does, she can see and smell the invisible magic. Unfortunately, that often causes a sensory overload that she chooses to self-medicate with alcohol. To keep her mother and her friend, Alex, from worrying, she’s always kept this ability secret, allowing everyone to believe she simply doesn’t perform magic because she’s not good at it.

Her reticence about her power becomes a liability when people begin disappearing at the annual kindled festival. When she discovers Alex is among the missing, Jemmie reluctantly teams with the leader of the biker gang, the Black Devils, to uncover what’s happening. This leader, Crowe, just so happens to be Alex’s brother and the boy who broke Jemmie’s heart a year earlier. Things won’t be easy for Jemmie as she’s forced to embrace her powers and make peace with Crowe if she’s to have any hope to track down the villain who’s keeping those she cares about for his own nefarious purposes.  

Devils and Thieves takes place in a world in which magical folk (or kindled) inherit specific powers through their bloodlines. Jemmie inherited her father’s locant power–which gives her the ability to create force fields and bind people’s magic. Her friend Alex’s family can use their venemon to heal or hurt those around them. There are approximately twelve types of magic in all, and although it’s difficult to keep them straight, the general setup of Jemmie’s magical world is a fascinating one. It’s interesting to see an urban fantasy setting tie together biker gangs, magic, and young adults. There’s no werewolves or otherwise mythical creatures here, but the world is brimming with magic all the same. The novel almost exclusively takes place within the kindled community so you get a strong sense of the magical system and hierarchy within that world. I’m happy that this is the first book in a series because I definitely want to find out more about magic which is just hinted here.

In many ways, Devils and Thieves reminds me of a mix between the Twilight series and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy. Thankfully, it shares enough strengths with Shadow and Bone to keep me interested in reading on. Like I said, I loved the world building and the plot was fast-paced and easy to get lost in. I blew through Devils and Thieves in two days–which is fairly impressive since I usually have to force myself through one hundred pages a day (and that’s only manageable on good days). Devils and Thieves, however, never had a boring moment. It was just what I needed to keep me entertained during two dreary, fall days.

My only negative about Devils and Thieves is the part that did make it similar to Twilight. I’m not a fan of overbearing leading men and Crowe was of the controlling type. I didn’t like how he lorded over Jemmie, forcing her to go home from parties when she didn’t want to and being otherwise physically imposing. Of course, sometimes Jemmie acted too stupid to live and I’m ashamed to admit I might have had the desire to shake her myself. I didn’t find Jemmie or Crowe particularly likeable, but from the ending of this book, I suspect I’ll be way more into her character, at least, in book two. Beyond that, thankfully I liked the rest of the book enough that the characters didn’t ruin things for me.

If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy, magical systems, and looking for a quick, engaging read, I’d recommend picking up Devils and Thieves. It’s not perfect but it’s a fun ride all the same.

Three out of Five Stars.

{Book Review} The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

IMG_1993.JPGOne of the worst book series I ever finished was The Maze Runner by James Dashner. The plot about an evil corporation using children to cure a disease is not awful in and of itself. The books individually were fast paced and the main character a bit dull but not hateful. The problem came when I continued to pick up book after book, hoping for a conclusion to a story that increasingly made less and less sense as it went on.

By the last book, I was ready to throw it across the room.

After finally finishing the first book in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series, I realized with much chagrin what book The Knife of Never Letting Go reminded me of. It was The Maze Runner and now I’m awfully nervous to continue on with his series.

In The Knife of Never Letting Go, our hero Todd Hewitt lives in a town where men can hear each other’s thoughts. He’s been told that’s because an alien race called the Spackle released the Noise on the human settlers during “the war.” Now, Todd not only hears his adoptive fathers’ and the townsmen’s thoughts but also those of his dog and the sheep he cares for. As bad as all that Noise can be, sadly, way back when, it also came with the germ that killed off all the women on the planet, including Todd’s mother.

As the novel begins, Todd nears his thirteenth birthday. He’s edging toward that day when the village will celebrate him becoming a man when he discovers a Silence in the old Spackle village. This Silence moves and he soon discovers that this rip in the Noise is caused by a girl. In saving her life from the village holy man, Todd finds himself on the run from his own town with many questions about the world he thought he knew.


Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go is a 400+ page escape novel. Todd and the girl, Viola, run and run and run some more to get away from Todd’s town and its holy man, Aaron. While that’s exciting for the first three hundred pages or so, it gets monotonous once you realize there’s no resolution coming once they get to the duo destination. I completely understand that this is the first book in a series, but it ends more like it’s part one of a huge novel rather than a book in and of itself. I left the novel wondering if this is one of the many occasions when two books could have been edited into one. There’s no way I needed four hundred pages of two kids being on the run–particularly when action and horrible things happening trumped characterization and actual plot. This, in particular, reminded me of the Maze Runner books (and the latter Hunger Games novels) and that’s not confidence inspiring.

Perhaps, if the characters in The Knife of Never Letting Go had been more than caricatures or one dimensional stick figures, the running might have been less objectionable. Todd, in particular, never felt like a real human being. He struggled and cried and cared but had no personality to speak of. He was just on the page emoting and I found it so hard to empathize with that. Viola was slightly better. She had a life on her ship and actual opinions and thoughts. It wasn’t until her friendship truly started to bud with Todd that I found her a little eye-rolling as well. As for the villains, well, they were baddies of the unkillable, mustache-twirling type and I found them tedious at best. Aaron was particularly annoying. I don’t care much for straight up crazy villains and he was straight up crazy. He also should have died in the book about five times over. (I’m still not entirely sure he won’t show up in the next books as it is.) While teen books don’t always have complex villains, I expect them to have villains that at least make sense.  

I know it’s starting to sound like I hated this book. I didn’t. The novel had strong points–especially when it was dealing with ideas rather than character. I completely appreciated the way The Knife of Never Letting Go handled killing. I always loathe when books/movies/TV series make killing carry no weight within the story. The choice to murder and to kill continually plays a HUGE part in Patrick Ness’ novel, and it was such a relief to see that choice carry consequences and emotional turmoil with it. I also liked how the novel played with masculinity and I have a feeling that particular concept will be explored further as the series continues on.  

I’m not entirely certain, however, I will be continuing on with this series. I have heard it gets better, but I have been burned before (see The Maze Runner again). I just wish The Knife of Never Letting Go had offered me more substance from the start. I like stories with complex characters and engaging plots and that’s not what I was offered here. I feel like my time could be better spent on other series (and there are so many out there), but we’ll see how hard up I get for books in the future.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go unless you love action-oriented novels or are looking to complete your homework before the film comes out. Also, if dog deaths bother you, I beg you to stay far away!

Two and a Half out of Five Stars

If you could speak to animals, which would you try to make your new best friend?

On Loving Reading and Under the Dome

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Reading has always been a capricious hobby for me. When I was in high school, my habits shifted with my mood and I’d go weeks or sometimes a month without reading anything. In college that changed–both because I was an English Major and because I self imposed a 100 book reading goal on myself. Reading was still a joy in spite of that (I read many film scripts later in my college career to get me to that one hundred) and it didn’t stop being joyful until I became a substitute at a public library.

Working at a library makes reading a self-preserving necessity. If I’m not reading when there aren’t patrons at the desk, I’m usually on Twitter–which isn’t exactly good for my mental health nowadays. I always have to be reading a novel or some non-fiction then, but the trouble is that, deep down, I’m still the same reader I was as a teenager. I go in spurts of wanting to read everything and not wanting to read at all. 

That combination is a recipe for making reading a chore rather than a joy, and that’s exactly what it’s been for the past three years. There have been a few bright spots (A Song of Ice and Fire–at least, when I’m not ranting about it–and my reread of Harry Potter), but for the most part, the books I enjoyed have been like ports in a storm. They don’t remind me what I love about reading as much as they keep me sane for a brief period of time. It wasn’t until I picked up Under the Dome by Stephen King that I really remembered what made me love reading in the first place.

Under the Dome is a 1,000 page doorstopper about what happens when the small town of Chester’s Mill is enclosed within a mysterious dome. It’s a science fiction novel that’s not so much interested in science as it is in characters and the horrors that are inflicted on a small town by those in charge. Basically, it’s “soft” science fiction in the extreme, but it’s exactly the sort I can dive into.

Even with its 1,000 pages, Under the Dome flew by. For me, it wasn’t like reading A Song of Ice and Fire where I struggled through the boring bits to the chapters featuring Lannisters. All of Stephen King’s tome engaged me and I quickly learned not to read it right before bed or I’d be up far later than planned. With every passing page, I worried about the characters’ survival, knowing most of them would die before the end. I fretted when they acted as if their fishbowl had the same rules and protections as the America outside their bubble. I rooted on the good guys and crazy but not villainous guys to defeat Big Jim, Junior, and the thugs running the town. In other words, I grew invested–which is something that hasn’t happened in a long time.

I wish I could pinpoint exactly what made Under the Dome so perfect for me. I cared about the characters certainly, but our heroes Barbie, Julia, and Scarecrow Joe won’t stay with me the way Detective Miller from The Expanse or Jaime Lannister for ASoIaF have. Big Jim, on the other hand, is admittedly one of the most terrifying villains I’ve ever read in a book. While on the TV show adaptation of Under the Dome Big Jim is just a car salesman and straight up murderer, the Big Jim of the book is more nefarious. He manipulates the town into hysteria for his own gain. He creates conspiracies where none exists and is not afraid to murder people in public because he knows he can spin it to his advantage. It’s terrifying mostly because he’s the sort of villain who feels real. I’ve met people I could see becoming a Big Jim–which, obviously, just adds to the scary factor.

As for the story itself, I loved the progression of Chester’s Mill’s implosion. It takes less than a week for the Millers to self-destruct their happy, little town, and while I was unsettled by it all, it’s a ride to see our heroes struggle against the insurmountable odds of survival in this bubble. I should say now that I rewatched the television show as I was reading the book and what the television show is truly missing is the ticking clock of the novel. Things get FAR worse in the book than they do in the show, but the biggest difference in the book is that there’s an insane, drug-addled man with bombs waiting for Halloween and the ever present threat of bad air quality closing in. The people in the Dome series don’t have these fears because they’re worried about the trouble of the week instead of the overarching horror of what’s happening in the Dome. Under the Dome’s story works so much better when its threats loom over 1,000 pages rather than wrap up week by week.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t watch the show. You absolutely should if you, like me, are a fan of TV that’s of the so-bad-it’s-good variety.

The book (unlike the poor, bonkers show) is fantastic throughout. I never expected to love a Stephen King novel so thoroughly, but reading Under the Dome reminded me why I love stories and storytelling so much. There’s such joy in getting completely wrapped up in a novel and I hope it won’t be another three years until I experience that again.

I highly recommend picking up Under the Dome if you’re looking to lose yourself in a horrifying Sci-Fi this fall.

5 out of 5 stars.


What books have reminded you why you love reading?

Top Ten Spooky Flicks for Fall

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Every October, patrons come into the library and ask for horror movie recommendations. While I’m totally the person to talk to if you’re looking for Science Fiction, Animation, or TV Show recs, I am completely hopeless when it comes to horror.

I don’t watch proper horror movies. I’m totally a wimp.

Thankfully, we usually have a display full of movies like Friday the 13th, Chucky, and Saw. Otherwise, I’d just keep pointing patrons to films like The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night because I like to promote female directors when I can (even if I haven’t watched their movies myself).

While horror movies are mostly a no-go for me, I do like spooky flicks. Give me ghosts, not-totally gruesome zombies, and aliens and I’m good to go. I’ve decided to share a list of some of my favorite spooky films with you. . .just in case any of you lovely readers are a tad squeamish like myself.  

Top Ten Spooky Flicks for Fall


  • Crimson Peak ~ I always try to sell people on Crimson Peak by telling them it’s like Jane Eyre but with more stabbing. I just love Guillermo del Toro’s gothic masterpiece and I wish more people would fall in love with it too. It’s one of those very few films that feel made for me personally. There’s ghosts, a lady writer heroine, gorgeous costuming, and a heroine saving herself. It’s perfection!   
  • What We Do In the Shadows ~ In a roundabout way, the TV show Legion led me to discover Taika Waititi and his mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. If you liked the idea behind Being Human (a werewolf, a ghost, and a vampire are roommates), What We Do in the Shadows will appeal to you. It’s a quirky and occasionally bloody tale about vampire roommates living in New Zealand. I recommend you watch it before Taika’s Thor: Ragnarok this November!
  • The Visit ~ I’m going to say something controversial: M. Night Shyamalan is one of my favorite directors. He’s had his rough periods, but he’s also made several of my favorite films (Split, The Village, and Signs–all appropriately spooky) and the wacky The Visit. I picked The Visit for this list in particular because it’s one of his creepier yet still funny films. Also, it has a naked, old lady pretending to be a cat–which is particularly unnerving, let me tell you.    
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane ~ I once overheard two middle-aged men talking about 10 Cloverfield Lane at the library. It was hilarious, mostly because it became obvious that neither of them had ever watched Cloverfield. Please, dear reader, watch the far lesser Cloverfield before 10 Cloverfield Lane. It makes the entire thing creepier. As for 10 Cloverfield Lane itself, John Goodman is so creepy in it and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is great as the trapped heroine. Sigh. I cannot wait for God Particle next year.


  • The Boy ~  You know what I’m scared of? Porcelain dolls. Seriously, they freak me out. As a kid, I used to go to Hartville Kitchen with my family and they had a doll nursery there. It was a thing of nightmares. The Boy, about a woman who plays nanny to a possibly possessed doll, is actually a pretty scary film for me. I saw it in the theater with my mom and I may have jumped. A lot.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ~ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies seems like it would make a garbage movie, but I legitimately loved the zombified film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s book. It’s not scary per say, but there are zombie attacks and blood spatter. Halloween appropriate? I think so.
  • Alien ~ Alien is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s the one proper horror movie that I absolutely adore–which probably has to do with it’s perfect combination of aliens chomping people, androids, and Ellen Ripley herself. I could definitely watch Alien and Prometheus on repeat all fall long.
  • Maggie ~ My Arnold Schwarzenegger love led me to watch Maggie, a relatively tame zombie movie about the relationship between a father and his zombified daughter. It’s a sweet, sad movie, but it still has the right atmosphere for spooky, Halloween viewing.
  • Practical Magic ~ I’m not including Hocus Pocus on this list because, let’s face it, that movie is awesome but not spooky. Practical Magic, however, has just enough spookiness to make the cut. It’s about sister witches and the troubles that occur after they accidentally kill Goran Visnjic. Good times.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts ~ One last zombie movie to round out the list! The Girl With All the Gifts is a dystopian film about a young girl who’s hungry for brains. It’s not a particularly scary or bloody film (although there is chomping) but it’ll definitely creep you out in a slow-burning kind of way.

What are your favorite spooky flicks?