Sunday, October 30, 2022

REVIEW: Scream 3 (live action movie)

Scream 3 is a slasher horror movie. I bought my copy new.


Sidney Prescott now lives out in the middle of nowhere, spending as little time with other people as possible. Even her work (crisis hotline) is remote, and she doesn't use her real name with her coworkers. Meanwhile, Cotton Weary is milking his 15 minutes of fame as much as possible and now has his own talk show. He also has a cameo appearance in the newest Stab movie. When he gets a "wrong number" call from a random woman who says she recognizes his voice and is a fan of his, he initially soaks up the attention and ego boost, until the caller reveals themselves to be a new killer using voice changing technology. Whoever it is wants to know where Sidney Prescott is, or they'll kill Cotton's girlfriend.

So yeah, the newest twist on the Scream franchise is that the killer is using voice changing technology to make themselves sound like other people. Phone calls can't be trusted, although lots of people don't find that out until it's too late. Sidney is eventually drawn out of hiding and into the race to find and stop the killer, who is now targeting people involved in the newest Stab movie.

REVIEW: Ghostbusters: Afterlife (live action movie)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a supernatural movie with comedic elements. I bought my copy new.


When single mom Callie Spengler learns that her father has died and left her everything, all she hopes for is enough to pay the rent. Her dad was never really in her life, so there's no grief at the news. Unfortunately for her, the "everything" he left her is a moldering old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, a lot of weird junk, and a lot of debt. 

Callie's son and daughter aren't exactly thrilled to be living in something that looks like a murder house. Trevor tries to make the best of it by getting a job near his new crush, Lucky, and fixing up his grandfather's old car. Phoebe, meanwhile, is an awkward and nerdy girl who comes into her own when she realizes that her grandfather was a scientist. With a little help from something that seems to be the ghost of her grandfather, she puts some of his old equipment back together and finds her first ghost, along with her new friend Podcast.

However, it turns out that Egon Spengler was living out in the middle of nowhere for a reason, and it's up to Phoebe to somehow finish his plans and help save the world.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

REVIEW: Cat's Cafe (graphic novel)

Cat's Cafe
is a gently humorous slice-of-life graphic novel.


In this full-color collection, Cat runs a cafe that's intended as an emotional refuge for the other animals in the area. Rabbit is Cat's anxious new assistant. Penguin is a regular at the cafe, and utterly addicted to coffee, and Kiwi is Penguin's friend. Armadillo seems grumpy but is actually more grumpy-nice. Axolotl is cool. Snake is lonely and appreciates when others include them. Gator is an artist with imposter syndrome who's nursing a crush on Cat. Hyena has depression but tries to hide it. And so on...

I believe this started off as a webtoon. Most of the comics in this volume are 4-6 panels, and the whole thing functions as an emotionally gentle warm fuzzy blanket. Some of the characters are struggling a bit more than others, but everyone is supportive in their own way. I was reminded, a little, of Winnie the Pooh, although this was more direct about its mental health aspects.

As I was reading this, I repeatedly got the urge to show various pages to people in my life. There's something for just about everyone, whether you're here for the coffee, the emotionally supportive pep talks, or the coffee shop moments. Although this was overall a very gentle collection, there are a few strips that may hit a bit harder depending on your own experiences - the one on page 130 made me wish for a happier moment for Hyena immediately afterward.

I enjoyed this. The artwork was cute and the topics were relatable. There's another collection, called One Cup at a Time, that I plan to read at some point as well.

REVIEW: Shutter Island (live action movie)

Shutter Island is a historical psychological thriller based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. I bought my copy new.


This takes place in 1954. U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule travel to Shutter Island, the site of the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. They've been sent there to investigate the disappearance of Rachel Solando, a woman who ended up at Ashecliffe after drowning her three children.

Teddy has an additional goal: finding Andrew Laeddis, who he suspects is an unreported extra patient at the hospital. Laeddis was responsible for Teddy's wife's death in a fire, and although he swears to Chuck that he isn't planning to kill Laeddis if he can manage to find him, it seems doubtful that he's telling the truth.

Various details, as well as the somewhat "off" behavior of several of the hospital staff and patients, lead Teddy to believe that the head of the hospital, psychiatrist Dr. John Cawley, is hiding things, and he's determined to get to the bottom of it all. But in a place like Shutter Island, is there anyone, even himself, that he can really trust?

REVIEW: The Girl I Was (book) by Jeneva Rose

The Girl I Was would probably best be referred to as "women's fiction" with a side of fantasy due to its time travel elements. I bought my copy brand new at Book Bonanza 2022.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Content warning: parent death.

This begins with Alexis having an absolutely awful day. She gets called to HR, and instead of the promotion she's expecting, she's laid off. She's reluctant to tell Andrew, her long-time boyfriend, because he was so excited for her when she got the job, but he can tell that something's wrong and gets justifiably frustrated and upset when she tells him that it's none of his business (they live together, so I was as baffled and frustrated as Andrew was). They fight, and Alexis discovers that Andrew had planned to propose to her this evening. Now, unfortunately, they're breaking up.

Miserable, Alexis attempts to drink herself into oblivion. She decides that the root of all her problems is her college self, who never put effort into anything because "Everything happens for a reason" and "In the end, everything will be all right. If it's not, then it's not the end." She finishes off her evening with a bottle of vodka that she and her college friends once got from some woman who told them to drink it in an emergency - "Drink to forget. Drink to repeat." Because that's not weird at all.

And when Alexis wakes up with a terrible hangover, she eventually realizes that she has somehow been transported back to college in 2002. She figures this is a chance to make things right, but then realizes that she's still her present-day self. If she wants to fix things, she's going to have to convince her 2002 self to make some changes. Unfortunately, her 2002 self is convinced that she's the one who needs fixing.

REVIEW: A Study in Emerald (graphic novel) story and words by Neil Gaiman, art and adaptation script by Rafael Albuquerque

A Study in Emerald is a Lovecraftian take on A Study in Scarlet. I checked this out from my library.


This starts similarly to the original A Study in Scarlet, but with some Lovecraftian details even in the beginning. For example, this time the victim's blood is green. You'd think that would be one of the baffling parts of the investigation, but not here. It's definitely an alternate universe take on Sherlock Holmes.

I checked this out from my library after running some circulation reports and realizing that no one had checked this out yet. I decided I might as well be the first person.

A Study in Scarlet is one of my least favorite of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Granted, I haven't read all or even most of them, so that's not really saying much. This graphic novel took the very basics of the original story and then went in a completely different direction. I can't say too much without spoiling things, but I enjoyed the result. I was reminded of Gaiman's Murder Mysteries, which also had more folded into it than the premise might lead one to expect.


Includes some early character designs and sketches.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

REVIEW: I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You (graphic novel) by Yumi Sakugawa

I call I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You a graphic novel, but it's probably more accurate to call it a picture book for adults. I bought my copy new.


This book is a confession of friend-love from a gray, one-eyed being to a faceless white being. It's a very quick read, more the kind of thing you might give as a gift to someone than something you'd read for its story or characters. 

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes, it's great to see something that recognizes friendship as a relationship that can be as deep and affecting as a romantic relationship. On the other hand, it gets kind of weird at a few points and ends on a note that doesn't entirely feel healthy. Although I said this feels like the kind of thing you might give someone as a gift, the recipient might feel more than a little creeped out after reading it.

REVIEW: Scream 2 (live action movie)

Scream 2 is a horror movie. I bought my copy new.


Sidney Prescott is now in college, trying to live a normal life despite the immense popularity of the new Stab movie, based on Gale Weathers' popular true crime book about the murders the occurred in the first Scream movie (yes, Stab is essentially Scream with different actors). Unfortunately, the movie seems to be inspiring horrible people to call Sidney and pretend to be the original killer. She deals with it as best she can, but then a sorority girl is murdered by an actual copycat killer. Also a couple moviegoers - it occurs to me that there was never any attempt to explain that.

As Sidney and others try to figure out the new killer's identity, the body count rises.

REVIEW: Clue: The Movie (live action movie)

Clue: The Movie is a mystery comedy based on a board game. I think I bought my copy brand new.


Six people are invited to a house party by someone who is blackmailing them all. Each person is assigned a name in order to protect their real identity: there's Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, and Mr. Green. As each of them arrives, they're greeted by Wadsworth, the butler. The house has two other staff members, a cook and a maid. The last person to arrive is Mr. Boddy, the man blackmailing all the guests.

Shortly after his arrival, Mr. Boddy is killed. The evening snowballs as more people are found dead, and the clock's ticking because the police will soon be arriving. Can the guests figure out who the murderer is?

REVIEW: Bananya: The Kitty Who Lives in a Banana (anime TV series)

Bananya is a slice-of-life fantasy series. I bought my copy new.


The only one who says recognizable words in this series is the narrator, who acts as though he is studying strange and gentle creatures in their natural habitat and inviting viewers to join him. The cats just meow (or, to be more accurate, say "nya" in both the Japanese and English dub versions, because that's what Japanese cats do).

Each episode introduces different cats who live in bananas and shows snippets of their daily lives and behaviors. There is Bananya, whose greatest wish is to become a trendy chocolate-covered banana. There's also Tabby Bananya, Bananyako (the only confirmed female cat who lives in a banana, bringing to mind shows like The Smurfs), Black Bananya, Long-Haired Bananya, and more.

I've seen Bananya merchandise and thought it was cute. I've wanted to try this show for a while. It's cute, easy and quick to watch, completely stress-free, and will probably not make much of an impact on your thoughts. But if you've had a bad day and need something cute and stress-free, it may just hit the spot. I used it for some self-soothing after a biopsy.

I don't really feel strongly about any of the cats, but if I had to pick a favorite, it might be Mackerel Tabby Bananya, because he's shy. Honestly, though, most of the Bananya cats don't make a huge impression on their own. They're all just...nice.

Although this show definitely seems like something that younger kids in Japan could watch, I'm not sure how well it would work for English-speaking younger kids. It's not that it would be bad for them so much as some of the jokes don't come across nearly as well in the English dub. 

Not really a must-see, but also not bad. Get the Bananya merchandise that looks cutest to you, and then get this if you have cash to spare and want something short (39 minutes total) and soothing to watch.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

REVIEW: Men (live action movie)

Men is a 2022 horror film. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Harper Marlowe has traveled to the village of Cotson to emotionally recuperate after her soon-to-be ex-husband's death. In flashbacks, viewers see that James, her husband, attempted to emotionally manipulate her into staying with him by threatening to commit suicide if she left. However, it's unclear whether his death was suicide or just an accident.

Initially, Cotson seems like a lovely and perfect place to heal. It becomes much less appealing after Harper has a frightening encounter with a filthy and naked man. Soon, every man (and boy) Harper meets behaves menacingly to her in one way or another, until finally the nightmare comes to a very personal head.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

REVIEW: Heartstopper (graphic novel, vol. 2) by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper is a high school romance graphic novel series. Although the primary relationship is between two boys, there are several other relationships in the background that occasionally get some page-time and might feature more prominently later on, such as one involving a lesbian couple and a potential relationship between a boy and a trans girl.

This review includes slight spoilers.


This picks up a little after the events of volume 1. Charlie is convinced that he has now ruined the friendship between him and Nick by kissing Nick. Nick, meanwhile, instantly regretted bailing on Charlie but is also still overwhelmed by a confusing jumble of feelings. He decides to go to Charlie's and talk to him, only for the two of them to admit that they really like each other and kiss again. They decide to become a couple but keep it between themselves for now, because Nick isn't really comfortable with the idea of coming out yet and hasn't even settled on what label applies to him, although "bisexual" sounds more appropriate than "gay."

The rest of the volume is devoted to Nick and Charlie spending time with each other and just generally being really bad at hiding their feelings for each other. As it turns out, however, there are people blind enough to see them making heart eyes at each other and not realize that they're in a relationship. Tao, one of Charlie's friends, is worried that Nick will end up hurting Charlie the way Ben did. Charlie, meanwhile, doesn't mind keeping his and Nick's relationship private, but he's not wild about spending time with some of Nick's friends.

REVIEW: Mimic (live action movie)

Mimic is a 1997 sci-fi horror movie. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes slight spoilers.


New York City has spent the past couple years battling a deadly disease that particularly affects children and that is spread by cockroaches. Since no one has been able to develop a cure or vaccine for the disease, Dr. Peter Mann, deputy director of the CDC, asks entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler to help him eradicate the disease at its source. Susan has genetically engineered an insect called "the Judas breed," which is uniquely designed to kill cockroaches. She releases these insects in the city, where they successfully accomplish their task. They've been designed to be infertile and die within a few months, so as to not cause any new problems.

Three years later, Susan and Peter are a married couple. When Susan's insect hunters find what appears to be a juvenile "Judas breed," she realizes that her creation has somehow survived. As she, Peter, and a reluctant police officer attempt to find the insects' breeding site, a shoe shiner named Manny searches for Chuy, the young autistic boy he's raising.

REVIEW: The Addams Family (live action movie)

The Addams Family is a supernatural black comedy movie originally released in 1991. It's based on a cartoon created by Charles Addams and a 1964 TV series. I think I bought my copy brand new.


Tully Alford, the Addams family's lawyer, pays them a visit in the hope that they'll provide him with the funds he needs in order to pay off his loan shark, Abigail Craven. It doesn't work out, but the visit and his realization that Abigail's son, Gordon, strongly resembles Gomez Addams's brother, Fester, does give him an idea. He convinces Abigail, who's also a con artist, to have Gordon pretend to be Gomez's long-lost brother, returned from the Bermuda Triangle, so that he can figure out the secret to getting into the Addams family vault.

Gordon is initially horrified by the Addams family and its weird and sometimes terrifying quirks, but he gradually grows to like them. Unfortunately, that means he must somehow choose between his mother and the Addams family, with the knowledge that, if the Addams family discovers he isn't who he says he is, they may cast him out.

REVIEW: Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes (book) by Scott Cathorn and Kira Breed-Wrisley

Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes is the first book in a horror mystery series that I believe is aimed at a younger YA audience. I bought it brand new, as part of a trilogy boxed set.


It's been 10 years since Charlie left Hurricane, Utah, the site of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, her father's restaurant. Now 17, Charlie has returned for a dedication ceremony arranged in honor of Michael, a friend of hers who was kidnapped and likely killed all those years ago. The visit will reunite her with her former best friends: Marla, Jessica, Lamar, Carlton, and John. Although Michael wasn't the only child to go missing, his disappearance was the one that hit Charlie and her group of friends the hardest.

While Charlie's there, she decides to explore some of the forgotten recesses of her childhood, visiting the nearly undisturbed remains of her and her father's home, as well as what's left of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. Charlie and her friends initially think the restaurant has been torn down, but then they discover that it was simply walled up. What's more, it's still accessible, as long as they're willing to take the risk of being discovered by the local security guard. 

REVIEW: Klara and the Sun (book) by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun is a blend of literary fiction and sci-fi. I bought my copy brand new.


Klara is an AF, an Artificial Friend. At the beginning of this book, she lives in a store where she generally stands in one place for hours or days at a time. Every once in a while, certain AFs are assigned to the store's most prime spot, the window, where they not only have the best access to sunlight (AFs are solar-powered) but also the best chance of catching a customer's eye.

Although Klara isn't the newest AF model, she's special in her own way, more empathetic and curious than many of the other AFs in the store. One day, she catches the eye of a sick little girl named Josie, who promises to come back and take her home with her. Although she's warned not to put her faith in the promises of children, Josie does eventually come back for her, and Klara enters the next phase of her existence, learning how to be the best possible AF for Josie.

Klara gradually learns about Josie and her relationships with others, including her mother, father, and childhood best friend, Rick. Josie's health is fragile from the start, but Klara is hopeful that she can somehow find a way to help her.

REVIEW: The New Girl (book) by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The New Girl is a YA thriller/mystery. I bought my copy brand new.


Content warning: drug use, a scene with eyeball-related gore, and possibly other stuff I've forgotten.

Lia Setiawan is Draycott Academy's newest student, there on a track scholarship. Although her fellow students, with their designer clothes (and designer drugs), might as well come from a different planet, Lia is determined to do her best. Unfortunately, there's an established pecking order on the track team, and Lia's presence disturbs it, earning her an instant enemy. It's not all bad, though: she also gains a few friends and somehow manages to catch the eye of super-hot Danny.

Her future at Draycott is put in jeopardy by Mr. Werner, her English Lit teacher. She strongly suspects that he's allowing students (like her track team nemesis, Mandy) to pay for good grades, and for some unknown reason he seems determined to fail her. If she can't keep her grades up, she can't stay on the track team, and she can't keep her track scholarship. Something's gotta give.

As the situation goes from bad to worse, Lia scrambles to keep everyone from finding out what she's done and desperately tries to find a solution that doesn't involve flushing her own future down the toilet. Even if she manages to figure something out, will she be able to live with herself afterward?