Tag Archives: The Cubicle Escapee

Warcross by Marie Lu

Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

 

My Review:  I loved this book.  It was really non stop and  I loved Emika.   Her character was so well written.  In fact, I would go as far to say every character was well written.  What was fun about this book was you didn’t really know who is good or bad.  You were investigating right along with Emika.

Plus I am gonna be honest, this book will make you want to go to Tokyo.

I will say I did predict one major event, about 25% into the book.  It seemed so obvious to me I am pretty positive that is how Lu meant it, but don’t worry it doesn’t take away from the complexity of the sinister plot and guys the plot is good like so freaking good.  I absolutely can’t wait until book 2.  I love Marie Lu and just about everything she writes so once again I will spend the next year anxiously awaiting because it was a damn good ending that will leave you begging for more.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Sometimes, old little mystery book “who-dun-it” novels of escapisms should remain exactly that. As novels. I have not cared for the two (one movie, one television movie) iterations of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS before this one, and guess what? I didn’t care for this one either. But be warned. I have read the novel. Love the novel. Love Agatha Christie. Love both this and And Then There Were None. There is something delightful about reading a murder investigation in a book that doesn’t translate so well on screen. You get inside the characters/investigators head and are holding their hands into that great journey. In a movie, they are just speaking and telling you what is going on. Not as engaging. I know inner dialogue in films is usually considered taboo now but I think something like that could’ve made this movie a little better. I don’t know. Except for the last 20 minutes of the film, I didn’t care for this iteration of the classic novel, and will probably not be taking changes on it (or if they do the God awful idea of turning And Then There Were None into a remake) in the future.

The last 20 minutes, where you know all loose ends are tied up and the killer is revealed, is spectacular. Especially the musical score. The acting, direction, cinematography, all incredible. The perfect combination of showing and telling that any iteration of the novel has done. Why couldn’t the other hour and a half been like that as well? The other hour and a half is just two people sitting (with one tiny action beat) talking and telling the audience who these people are and what they have done. I think the movie could’ve benefited with more flashbacks instead of just staring at Kenneth Branagh mustache moving. I’ve said in reviews before, it is all about showing, not just telling the audience, and if you can get that perfect match made in heaven between the two, you’ve mastered the technique. And while the last 20 minutes are beautiful, the rest completely drags and is quite boring, a good lesson in what just telling does to a motion picture.

The story, without giving anything away, is that one passenger on a train is brutally stabbed 12 times during the night. The train is then caught from getting into a tunnel by an avalanche, and a quick witted and OCD investigator, Hercule Poirot, has to solve who did it, and hopefully before they are rescued and the train hits the next station. That’s all I’ll give away because the ending is quite unique and endearing if you haven’t read the novel. At least the movie keeps all the cards in the same deck. It’s just that the deck was scattered into a 52 pick up game, and was just laid to waste on the floor until someone started to pick the cards up at the end of the movie.

The marketing for this movie is also a bit misleading even though I’ve read the novel and know that it was just the quick cutting techniques of a trailer maker. Be warned, this is not an action movie, there is a tiny action beat near the middle of the film, but that is it, it is mostly investigation. And while the novel makes the investigation fun, endearing, and makes you think critically, here, it is just someone talking to you on the Discovery channel, but without pictures and films of moving animals to back it up. The acting is great, the focus of it being on Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Phiffer, and Daisy Ridley. Ridley again shows that after Star Wars, she is going to be a force to be reckoned with…in better movies that this. It’s Branagh and Phiffer that steal the show, and Branagh is the best Poirot I’ve seen thus far, I just wish it was in a better film.

So, being a fan of the novel, I didn’t like the movie. If you haven’t read it though? I don’t know how you’ll feel. I do suggest that if you have no idea what happens you pick up a book and entertain your mind rather than this be the first iteration of the story that you actually see. Would it hurt you to pick up a book? In this culture? Probably. But I tell you it is worth it. The novel is a masterpiece of mystery fiction. This movie is not even close. In fact, it never moves at all, the engine is running, but it never leaves the station.

Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

 

My Review: To be honest I don’t know if I would have sought this book out if it wasn’t for the Goodreads 2017 Awards, but man I am so glad I decided to read this one before voting closes because it is damn good and action packed from page one.

The premise is fascinating it is so good.  What if you married a sadistic serial killer but didn’t know it?  What if that killer was on death road and blamed you.  What would you do?  This book did not stop with the action and build up.  The characters were so well developed and seriously complex.

I couldn’t imagine going on the run from a deranged lunatic and his followers.  It was so good.   This is a must read if you have not read it. This book also will keep you guessing until the end which doesn’t happen to often anymore.

 

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LAST FLAG FLYING

LAST FLAG FLYING is a pretty good film that drags in a couple of spots and goes on a little too long, preventing it from being a great film. The premise is good, and I also liked the fact that the film wasn’t anti-war or pro-war but about honor, doing what you feel is right, and how to cope. Cranston, Carrell, and Fishbourne are still three some of the best actors working today, and they shine in this too, keeping the film watchable even in the parts that drag. And just like Thank You For Your Service, it comes with a message that we really do need to start treating our troops better, maybe even a little more subtle than Service, but still with an emotional impact.

If you haven’t seen any trailers, the film is about three Vietnam vets in 2003 who haven’t seen each other in a long time and one of which (Carrell) just lost a son in Afganistan, and he asked the other two to accompany him to the funeral. The film plays like a somber, but with some humor, road trip film, as the three reminisce about the past, present, future, and the lies and mistakes in between. The conversations in this movie feel a little bit more real than normal. There is no giant speech or confrontation at the end where one gets mad at the other and the other has to make it up to him or apologize. There are some heated arguments, but quick and peaceful resolutions. It felt a little more real than most films dealing with that subject matter and I appreciate the way Director Richard Linklater didn’t try to Hollywood ham it up.

Steve Carrell’s sad yet poignant performance is being treated as an Academy Award contender, and while it is good, I happen to disagree on the contender part (if you want his best performance that got the nomination it deserved see: Foxcatcher). His role is a little more down key than usual, and he doesn’t have that many lines as well, and to me it doesn’t take a lot of effort to sit there and look sad. The moments he speaks are the better parts, and I wish there were more of those. It is Cranston and Fishbourne that steal every scene they are in. Cranston’s character is a wise cracking vet that almost has no filter and Fishbourne is a priest trying to forget his former dark life. When these two have scenes together, and there are many, they both steal the show. Especially when Cranston’s character gets cell phones for all of them for the first time.

The movie is a little over two hours, and I think that if the movie was trimmed by about 15 minutes, it could’ve been much tighter. Some parts seemed really unnecessary and made the film drag at little intervals, although still completely watchable. I appreciated Richard Linklater’s direction here too as he always gets good performances from his actors. In this case, if the performances weren’t there, this film wouldn’t have worked at all. Even though it does drag, the movie certainly sticks the landing very well, and I completely recommend this film to any veterans or active military out there. There is something in it for everyone, even though it is Rated R (just for language to be sure).

So I do recommend Last Flag Flying, even though there is a tighter film that doesn’t drag at all somewhere in there. If I had to describe it, it is a more depressing Plains, Trains, and Automobiles with a good message, but still retaining some of the humor to get it out of it completely being bleak. Good job to all those involved with this film.