Reviews

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Rated: 3/5

Year of the Carnivore

Year of the Carnivore is billed as a romantic comedy, but this ain't no When Harry Met Sally. Sammy is friends with a guy she likes. A lot. Her attempt to take their relationship from friendship to coupledom ends in soul-crushing failure and the declaration she isn't sexually experienced enough. Sammy sets out to fix the problem. Year of the Carnivore has interesting characters, situations, and performances, but it didn't hold together as a story.

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Rated: 4/5

Whip It (aka Derby Girl)

Small-town life sucks when you don't fit in, and if your name is "Bliss" it's ironic suckage at that. Her mom wants her to be the next beauty pageant phenom but she's found a different calling: Roller derby! Whip It (originally titled Derby Girl) by Shauna Cross is a young adult coming-of-age story about a girl pursuing a non-traditional dream. Though it may sound cliche, the story's sarcastic snark and little human details give it a humourous authenticity, making it a fun, fluffy, and engaging read.

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Rated: 4/5

Unseen Academicals

Who's up for a game of football (of the soccer variety)? Most definitely not the wizards at Unseen University, it would interfere with their nine meals a day. Unfortunately, if they don't play they'll have to cut back to three (!) meals a day. Oh, they could keep the cheeseboard, but only with a choice of three cheeses. "Three cheese isn't a choice, it's a penance!" Nothing gets a wizard to the pitch like his stomach and thus the foot-the-ball team Unseen Academicals is born, and with it the latest novel by Terry Pratchett. Unseen Academicals has all of the humour and cleverness I expect in a Pratchett story and I devoured it whole.

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Rated: 4.5/5

The Watchmen (Graphic Novel)

The Watchmen is a comic books series/graphic novel by Alan Moore (writer) and Dave Gibbons (illustrator) set in an alternative version of the 80's. There are costumed crime-fighters, though they're mostly retired, and one of their rank has been killed. He won't be the last. The unfolding story not only presents a nice mystery it explores the morals of power. As a straightforward story it's an interesting and entertaining read, combined with the deeper questions it becomes a stunning read.

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Rated: 5/5

The Graveyard Book

It takes a village to raise a child, but does a graveyard of ghosts count? The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is the story of a boy adopted by a community of ghosts after he becomes orphaned. Under rather horrible circumstances. And still under threat of death. Gammon once again proves he's a master story teller in this fun story of ghostly and ghastly deeds.

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Rated: 5/5

The Code Book

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh is a select history of coded communication from the start of recorded history to present day. This ambitious task is not only admirably achieved, it's done so in a way that is understandable and engaging (if you have any interest in the subject). If you're curious about the world of codes, cyphers and how they're broken you'll enjoy this book.

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Rated: 3/5

Prince of Persia

Based on the video game of the same name, a prince saves the world. It's a fun romp if you don't think too hard about the plot.

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Rated: 3/5

The Road

After an unnamed apocalypse and the death of his wife, a man realizes he must take his young son south to warmer weather if they hope to survive. The Road chronicles their journey, with it's trials and tribulations. The Road was an interesting watch; I often found myself asking what I would do in similar situations. Sadly, it did not capture me emotionally and truly bring me into the story.

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Rated: 2/5

Antichrist

After the loss of their child, a husband tries to help his wife through her grief and mental anguish, uncovering deeper issues and leading into a spiral of violence. With hints at the either the supernatural or insanity, Antichrist contains some beautifully crafted and well acted scenes as well as scenes of graphic sex and genital mutilation. Although Antichrist appeared to tell me a story, in the end I could not make enough sense of it to justify the experience of watching it.

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Rated: 3/5

Thirst

Thirst is the story of a Korean priest who contracts a blood disease and becomes a vampire. Already struggling with temptation, his enhanced senses, accentuated carnal drives, and need for blood complicate his relationship with his faith. Thirst rambled quite a bit but told an interesting story and provided some humorous moments of the black variety.

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Rated: 4/5

Revanche

Revanche is a brooding character study of one man's loss and the revenge he contemplates for it. You don't want to know too much about this movie before seeing it. It's a chameleon that will pleasantly surprise you with some unpredictable moments. Though it's Austrian with English subtitles, so much of the communication is visual you won't do as much reading as you might think.

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Rated: 4/5

500 Days of Summer

Tom has found "the one", the girl he's destined to be with for the rest of his life, he's found Summer. Unfortunately Summer doesn't believe in either destiny or long term relationships. 500 Days of Summer chronicles their time together, but as the opening narration warns, this is not a love story (actually it is, just not a typical love story). 500 Days of Summer is an emotionally resonant portrayal of a couple with mismatched expectations that manages to stay light-hearted while dealing with the worst part of love gone wrong.

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Rated: 4.5/5

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is hard to pin down. It's a story about a boy and a girl, it's a story about relationships, it's a story about bullying, it's a story about isolation, and it's a vampire story. Oskar is isolated, bullied, and harboring pent up aggression. When he meets his new neighbour Eli a friendship rapidly developments and we learn Eli is not a normal girl. The story is a study of two damaged people finding each other, with some disturbing overtones enabled by supernatural story points. Let the Right One In had my full attention as it unfolded and left me saying "wow" when it was done.

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Rated: 3/5

The Last Mimzy

The Last Mimzy is charming little picture about children finding a box of toys and saving the world. Unlike many studio products of this type (Disney, I'm looking at you) this is a smart script that doesn't rely on stupid adults and silly action-oriented plot devices to move the story forward (not that there's anything wrong with silly action . . . every once in a while). Though smart, the story lacked the kind of dramatic tension and sophistication that would make it a must see.

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Rated: 1.5/5

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno chronicles the misadventures of Zack and Miri, they're so desperately in need of money they decide to make an adult film to pay the bills. Zack and Miri have been friends since childhood, but never intimate. Most of the movie's humour comes out of the inherent awkwardness of amateurs putting together a porno production and Zack and Miri's verbal dancing in anticipation of "doing the nasty" together. In spite of a great cast and some funny moments I was mostly bored.

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Rated: 3.5/5

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow is a quirky little book about an affable serial entrepreneur named Alan. If you think you have an odd family you haven't met Alan's. His father is a mountain and his mother a washing machine. Literally. Alan was doing just fine until he discovers something isn't quite right with his next door neighbour, who's missing her wings, and he receives a visit from his brothers, a set of Russian nesting dolls, who are disappearing one-by-one. Doctorow's prose reads effortlessly so even though aspects of the story might seem strange the book flows smoothly to its conclusion. It's is a fun and imaginative read.

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Rated: 3.5/5

Battle Royale

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami takes place in an alternative Japan named "The Republic of Greater Asia" ruled by "The Great Dictator". Every year as part of an ongoing research project the republic runs an event informally known as "Battle Royale" where all of the students of a randomly selected high school class must kill or be killed. While the physical story follows the students to the competition's bitter end, the psychological story is an exploration of humanity when life is on the line. And there's more going on than first appears. As grim or as silly as this concept sounds, the book worked for me. I often drifted off in reflection exploring my own morals.

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Rated: 4/5

Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is the story of a scientist named Isaac in an alternative Victorianesque city. Entirely by accident Isaac has loosed something dangerous on the city and he's desperately trying to make things right. The city has a government out of the movie Brazil, the science is steampunk with a dash of magic, and the humans aren't the only intelligent beings in the city. After a slow start, there's a lot of details to assimilate, Perdido Street Station was a hell of read! Like pop-rocks for the brain story details fired my imagination and stimulated my thoughts in sometimes horrific but mostly delightful ways. Recommended.

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Rated: 4.75/5

Up

Carl had a good life, but everything he loved is gone or disappearing. Fed up, he decides to fulfill both a promise and a lifelong goal with an adventure to South America ... flying in his house ... carried by helium balloons. Things get complicated by a boy, a bird, and a dog. The boy is 8 years old, the bird is 10 feet tall, and the dog talks; Carl gets more adventure than he bargained for. Up is a wonderful, smart exploration of what's important versus what we think is important, that doesn't resort to tired emotional gimmicks. I greatly enjoyed it.

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Rated: 3/5

Full Dark House

Full Dark House is the first book in Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May mystery series. Arthur Bryant and John May are a classic pair of odd couple opposites partnered together in the North London Peculiar Crimes Unit. The story starts, "It really was a hell of a blast." and we discover one of the team is dead. The other sets out to solve the murder and discovers it's linked to their first case together. Fowler wove an interesting mystery and it's what kept me going to the end of the story. Unfortunately, his characters didn't click for me, making it just an OK read.

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