Sunday, 2 August 2020

TV Review: NOS4A2 - "Cripple Creek"

It's the beginning of the end for the second season of NOS4A2 and "Cripple Creek" makes for very disturbing and unsettling viewing. There were several points in the episode where I considered whether this was entertainment because, as could be expected from an episode about Bing and Manx, things got very dark indeed.

The Good

Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is chilling as the deluded and deranged Bing Partridge. I recently saw him in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga so I know he can be perfectly lovely and charming when he wants to be. Bing Partridge is neither charming nor lovely but he has Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) tied up so kudos to him.

Bing's torture of Manx results in two things, a visit to Manx's childhood and a visit to Christmasland.

Celeste Arias is Cassie Manx and Mattea Conforti is Millie Manx  | NOS4A2 Cripple Creek | season two episode seven

Oh, Millie Manx, how we've missed you, horrible little demon child! ! This week we're seeing double as the excellent Mattea Conforti plays both Millie Manx and... Mille Manx. Millie seeks her mother's counsel when the lights begin flickering in Christmasland again and Cassie Manx (Celeste Arias) has had close to a century to contemplate Charlie Manx's weaknesses.

Cassie Manx: "His deepest fears reside inside this house. Fears he's locked behind these doors".

Millie Manx gets to meet herself and remember how she once had dreams, ideas and most of all, a desire to grow up.

Can Cassie save her daughter from beyond the veil?

Cassie Manx: "Don't die here, trapped in your father's sad fantasies".

The Bad

In Cripple Creek, we meet a teenage Charlie Manx (Aidan Pierce Brennan) and learn about the events that stole the light from behind Manx's eyes. We also learn about the other childrens' lives he helped destroy and who he held responsible for those outcomes.

Justice is served and vengeance is delivered but the viewer is left cringing in revulsion and despair.

The Dire

Bing Partridge is the epitome of a small-minded beaten and broken man who turns to sexual assault to exert his power on the world and "Cripple Creek" gives us a nauseating look into the mind of this hideous man. The effect is not unlike being dipped in a vat of an unknown sticky, viscous substance; there aren't enough showers in the world to cleanse my mind of what he did to Paul Demeter and later, Bing Partridge.

The Gas Mask Man is back.

It occurs to me that despite Manx's strongly held beliefs of his own virtue, he and Bing are essentially the same. Both are guilty of parenticide, neither own their crimes and both destroy other lives for the glory of Christmasland.

"Cripple Creek" is gritty, edge of your seat viewing and for one, small moment there was hope. And then there wasn't.

Jason David is Wayne McQueen and Dalton Harrod is Craig  | NOS4A2 Cripple Creek | season two episode seven

Wayne: "I made a mistake".

Yes, you definitely did Wayne (Jason David) but not as big of a mistake as Bing.

Charlie Manx: "Slow as molasses and dumb as a box of hair".

NOS4A2 returns next week with "Chris McQueen". You can catch NOS4A2 on AMC and BBC America (US) with new episodes added every Sunday and AMC UK (BT TV 332) with new episodes every Thursday.


Saturday, 1 August 2020

Georgina Young's Text-Prize-Winning "Loner" | New Adult Book Review ★★★☆☆

I'm trying to work out why I chose to read Loner. It was partly the hype; the first I heard of Georgina Young's Loner was that it was winner of the 2019 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. The description sounded enticing, with mention of roller DJs, Harry Potter fans and old school photography. I suspect I was also riding high on the Normal People wave and may have seen an article comparing Loner to Sally Rooney's exceptionally popular book.

Loner by Georgina Young | New Adult Book Review

Whatever lead me to Loner was not what I found in the book and that is little surprise.

Had I properly read the blurb, I would have realised that a book about a university dropout aimlessly navigating social isolation, unrequited love and a perpetual sense of failure was never going to be exciting reading. In fact, it was all rather bland.

Loner by Georgina Young | New Adult Book Review Perhaps it was that my own memories of university were of an identical inertia, an inability to function that slowly marched its way to a bone-grinding depression? Whatever the case, Loner was not the quirky, uplifting book I was in the market for and perhaps the hint was in the title?

Despite my reservations and lukewarm reception, I strongly suspect that this will somehow become a television series. The critical hype is immense - hence the Text Prize - but for those of us seeking a bit of escape during the worst year ever? Not so much. Ultimately, Loner reminded me of why I don't read New Adult fiction.

I give Loner an okay three out of five stars. Recommended if you're looking for the post-millennial version of Douglas Coupland's Generation X.


I received an electronic copy of this book from Netgalley. In my search for superior young adult fiction, I will always provide an honest review, whether books are provided to me or purchased by me.


Friday, 31 July 2020

Malorie by Josh Malerman (Bird Box #2) | Audiobook Review ★★★☆☆

If I thought finishing Station Eleven while a pandemic hit was bizarre, I have no words for reading a post-apocalyptic novel. In Josh Malerman's Malorie (sequel to Bird Box) our protagonist talks about people mourning the world they have lost, meanwhile in the real world, we've learned that it doesn't take an apocalypse to lose a way of life.

Malorie by Josh Malerman | Bird Box 2 | Audiobook Review

Malorie is set 17 years after apocalypse, a decade after the events in Bird Box. Boy and Girl, Tom and Olympia, are teenagers now and if you think the post-apocalypse will protect parents from teenage rebellion, think again.

A census man arrives on the doorstep where Malorie and the teens are hiding out only to be chased away by a terrified Malorie. He departs, leaving documents on the porch.

It is in these documents, disturbing glimpses into a world that they dare not see, that Malorie discovers that her parents Sam and Mary Walsh might be alive.

It took years to prepare for their journey down the river at the end of Bird Box but the maddening allure of the possibility of her parents being alive drives the family out into the world and on to the fabled Blind Train, travelling towards where the Walshes were last recorded.

Malorie by Josh Malerman | Bird Box 2 | Audiobook ReviewI absolutely loved Bird Box, giving it a glowing 5 star review back in 2014 and remarking that it "couldn't be creepier if it was woven together with cobwebs and dust using rodent bones as needles". I want to say that I had high expectations for Malorie but the truth is that I didn't think Bird Box needed a sequel and I was happy to just read Malerman's other works instead (A House at the Bottom of a Lake is particularly good).

It turns out that my instincts were partially correct and I'm going to base my rating based on an average of several factors.

As a sequel to Bird Box

Two stars. Malorie definitely wasn't as good as Bird Box. Where Bird Box hinted and implied, Malorie told and explained. Bird Box was creepy, interesting and terrifying, Malorie rehashed a lot of what we knew already and was often dull.

As a horror story

Two stars. Bird Box terrified me. It was the scariest book I'd ever read, Malorie was not.

As a standalone post-apocalyptic novel

Three stars. Had I read this on its own, without expecting it to be particularly scary or live up to its predecessor, I would have rated it above The Road which I couldn't finish but far below The Walking Dead, The Survival Game or Wye. It's quite an interesting (albeit slow) quest, traversing a post-apocalyptic landscape while blindfolded and landing up on a Blind Train.

As a young adult novel (which it unexpectedly became)

Three stars. This is a strange addition but so much in Malorie focuses on Tom and Olympia, their rebelliousness and their desperation to see the world they have grown up in that I figured it deserved a rating as a YA novel and it does okay on this level.

On average, I give Malorie an okay two-and-a-half out of five stars, rounded up to three stars. I'm not entirely sure I'd recommend it but I'd definitely recommend Malerman's other works.

I listened to Malorie on audiobook narrated by Katherine Mangold who did a great job of capturing Malorie's fear and desperation as well as capturing distinct voices for the other characters.


I received an advance copy of this audiobook from Netgalley. The audiobook function is new on Netgalley and is very much in the beta stages. I was unable to download this or another audiobook using the iPhone app and ultimately had to download to my work Android phone. Not ideal.


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

C.L. Taylor's The Island - Cover Reveal and First Chapter

The Island by CL Taylor | Cover Reveal anbd Excerpt

How gorgeous is this cover? C.L. Taylor is releasing the much-anticipated YA novel The Beach in January 2021 and I'm pleased to share the beautiful cover and exclusive excerpt.

About The Island

Lost meets The Hunger Games in the thrilling new young adult novel from C.L. Taylor, the Sunday Times and million-copy bestselling author.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island. But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?

The Island - The First Chapter

Can't wait? Click here to download a sneak peak of C.L. Taylor's The Island - Chapter One


Sunday, 26 July 2020

TV Review: NOS4A2 - "The Hourglass"

NOS4A2 was brilliant this week and despite the hype over last week's "Bruce Wayne McQueen", I think this week is the more thrilling episode. Not even a minute into "The Hourglass" Jonathan Beckett (Paul Schneider) has his clutches in Dr Gregory. Ultimately, it is Maggie Leigh who puts herself in the most danger this week but leave your expectations at the door because there are two very unexpected outcomes (which I will not spoil, so carry on reading).

Jahkara Smith is Maggie Leigh and Paul Schneider is Jonathan Beckett | NOS4A2 The Hourglass | season 2 episode 6

Aside from the Unexpected Outcomes Which Shall Remain Unmentioned, there is, as always in season 2, a lot of focus on the characters and how different they are eight years after the first season.

Linda McQueen

Virginia Kull is still billed as Linda McQueen but we learn that it's McNulty now. Linda is doing a good job of pretending to be a good person but for a moment there is a serious risk that her good intentions might result in them losing Wayne.

Linda: "We are Americans, okay? My husband works for the postal service. I go to church. Do better!"


I hesitated to write about Craig on a supposedly spoiler-free review but what the heck, you'll see Dalton Harrod on the cast list anyway. I was not a fan of Craig at all (creepy boy takes advantage of best friend vibes, anyone?) but he's back and I've never been happier to see him!

I'm hoping we see a lot more of Craig in the episodes to come for the fate of the McQueens might rest on his charred shoulders.

Maggie Leigh and Tabitha Hutter

Maggie is spot on when she intuits the true threat facing the McQueens; she absolutely makes a great amateur sleuth and partner for Agent Hutter.

Jahkara Smith is Maggie Leigh and Paul Schneider is Jonathan Beckett | NOS4A2 The Hourglass | season 2 episode 6

Maggie tracks The Hourglass down to The Providence Hotel and they both clock each other immediately from across the room.

Hourglass: "I have a rule not to let a beautiful woman buy herself a drink"
Maggie: "That's funny. I have a rule to not let a man do anything for me"

Don't let him turn that hourglass, Maggie!

We learn that The Hourglass's cost is his memory, which is very interesting, and Maggie begins a dance with the devil. The Hourglass makes Maggie an offer she can barely refuse - so tempting but so dangerous. Just when you're beginning to wonder whether Maggie is brave or very reckless, "The Hourglass" delivers the first very unexpected outcome.

Lou Carmody

No week can go by without a bit of Lou Carmody (Jonathan Langdon) appreciation. He really is the best.

Lou: "Baby, I'm the best mechanic west of the Rocky Mountains. I can fix this bike".

That Ending

The second unexpected outcome arrives right at the end of the episode. I can't talk about that but I can tell you that according to Screen Rant, while he didn't exist in the novel NOS4A2, The Hourglass was created especially for the TV show by author Joe Hill. There is also a very subtle hint that there may be a third season in the article. I'm not sure how I feel about this to be honest, I love this show but I'd love to get that rare moment of closure that comes with a show properly wrapping up before they're cancelled.

NOS4A2 returns next week with "Cripple Creek". You can catch NOS4A2 on AMC and BBC America (US) with new episodes added every Sunday and AMC UK (BT TV 332) with new episodes every Thursday.


Friday, 24 July 2020

Believe by Julie Mathison | Book Review ★★☆☆☆

There is a magical world that children can escape to when middle school gets to be too much to handle and they have problems making friends. A world of adventure and happiness, friends and allies, all you need is an imagination. In Believe, debut novel by Julie Mathison, eleven-year-old Melanie is one such believer, a bullied child going through a rough patch and one in desperate need of a friend.

Believe by Julie Mathison | Middle Grade Book Review

Things start looking up when Melanie meets Sabrina and she even lands the role as Peter Pan in her school play. The only problem? Melanie's mother is missing, possibly involved in a fight to bring down the mob, and Melanie misses her dearly.

Believe is an enchanting story about grief, friendship and trust. Set in 1980, it harks back to a simpler time before the advent of technology and when the original Charlie's Angels was on TV.

There are twists in Believe and I somehow guessed both of them in the opening paragraphs. I'm not sure that early middle-graders would though which would make the reveals especially interesting and will generate a lot of conversation on the issues addressed. The final reveal was very well done indeed.

Believe by Julie Mathison | Middle Grade Book ReviewMy main criticism of Believe would be the quotes of Peter Pan throughout the novel. I've always been a fan of Peter Pan and Melanie's experience playing Peter is integral to her development throughout the story. However, Peter Pan is a play marred by racism and from the quotes used I deduce that the children are performing the original, unabridged stage version.

This would have been absolutely normal in 1980 when the book was set (and Melanie does reflect on how uncomfortable some of the terms make her feel) but there are references to 'Indians' and 'natives' throughout the book and Melanie goes on to use the term 'pygmy' in a story which is an equally racist term.

There is also ableist language throughout the book, with Melanie remarking at one point that she 'stood there like a stroke victim'.

I read an advance copy of Believe on Netgalley. Perhaps these issues will be ironed out in the final version? Having suffered loss in our family, I would love to be able to recommend this book to my nieces but feel I couldn't unless these issues were resolved (and they can be resolved by a simple edit).

An otherwise excellent novel spoiled by insufficient analysis of racist and ableist terminology common in the era in which it was set, I give Believe a disappointing two out of five stars.



Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Horror Film Review: Impetigore (A Shudder Original) ★★★★★

As a horror writer, I've come to expect that you take most horror films with a pinch of salt. More often than not, horror is full of camp and gore, light on plot and sometimes blessed with decent acting. With this expectation comes moments of utter joy when you discover a gem; Joko Anwar's Impetigore is one such gem and it is absolutely flawless. Based on a bad dream and in development for over a decade, the Satan's Slaves director has created a lurid, visually stunning and very scary film.

Ario Bayu is Ki Saptadi in Impetigore | Horror Film Review

Maya (Tara Basra) and her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita) work at a toll booth in an Indonesian city until one night when Maya is the victim of a sudden and very violent crime. She survives the attack but the aftermath sees Maya and Dini giving up the vulnerability of the toll booth for the somewhat safer world of the market selling clothes. In the months following the attack, Maya cannot stop thinking of the village that her attacker mentioned and her investigations lead her to believe that she might be the heir to a large property in the village.

Maya and Dini catch an overnight bus and horse-cart to the remote village but soon discover something is amiss. Why is there a funeral every day, why is the cemetery littered with tiny graves and what is the enigmatic leader of the village Ki Saptadi (Ario Bayu) up to?

Staying in the now-abandoned family home, amidst the vines and trees that have begun to reclaim the structure, Maya and Dini are immediately surrounded by mortal danger.

Tara Basra and Marissa Anita in Impetigore | Horror Film Review

There can be no more chilling location than this remote and crumbling village with its shifty inhabitants and air of mistrust. Even the nightly wayang puppet shows have an air of foreboding and impending tragedy.

With an expert hand, and not unlike the wayang puppet masters, Joko Anwar takes the individual threads of the story and winds them expertly into a rich tapestry of a tale of great evil, black magic and furious spirits. Nothing on the screen is a coincidence, with every prop, shot and angle of some significance in the film.

Impetigore poster | Horror Film Review Impetigore is buoyed throughout by excellent performances from Basra and Anita, as well as Indonesian darling Christine Hakim in her first horror film role and Asmara Abigail in her role as Ratih.

This is a clever, scary film that plays in your mind for days after the final credits have rolled. It is indeed flawless in every way.

A Shudder Original, Impetigore premieres on Shudder in the US, UK and Canada on 23 July 2020. The film (originally Perempuan Tanah Jahanam in Indonesian) is in Indonesian with English subtitles and reminds me again of how easy it is to watch horror films in foreign languages.

I give Impetigore a superb five out of five stars and recommend to fans of superior, plot-driven, paranormal horror.


Impetigore Trailer

© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig