The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) – Libba Bray

Diviners-The-Diviners-Libba-Bray

Source: Goodreads

 

Evangeline O’Neill has special powers. She can see important moments in a person’s life just by holding something that belongs to them. This talent, of course, is not accepted in Zenith, Ohio. After a particularly bad evening of illegal drinking, the seventeen-year-old is shipped off to New York City to live with her bachelor uncle, William Fitzgerald, who runs The Museum of Creepy Crawlies, and his mysterious assistant, Jericho. Evie reunites with her childhood friend and the daughter of revolutionists, Mabel, as well as some new friends including Theta, a showgirl, and her brother Henry, a piano player, a thief named Sam, and a numbers runner named Memphis who might just be magical himself. Life can’t be the berries forever though, and before long Evie is called upon to use her powers to help stop a murderer before he raises the antichrist and wipes out all of man kind. Just another summer in 1920s New York, right?

 

I’ve heard about this book on and off since it came out in 2012, and I finally picked it up from the library in August of 2017. Definitely not disappointing! While the writing is easy to follow (except for the 20s slang, which I had to look up) and the chapters are short, the gruesomeness and maturity of the plot and characters’ thoughts definitely put this book squarely in the Young Adult category. If the reading level were a little higher I might even put it in adult, even though over half of the characters are ages 17-19.

If you can’t stand gore in your books, don’t read this. About half of the murders are detailed, and all of the bodies are described once they are discovered. If I was close to stopping my reading more the night and I knew a murder chapter was imminent, I would stop before it so I didn’t have it running around my brain all night long. Not that it really helped, because I still knew it was coming, so my brain usually decided to try and guess how it would go down *facepalm*. In that regard, I’m glad I’ve finished the book. At the same time, I’m sad to let the world go for a while until I get the next book. Bray’s version of 1920s New York City positively shines. I found myself wishing I could visit for the weekend (sans murders) to visit the theatres and clubs she describes in such vibrant detail. The buildings and the city are just as much characters as the human (and not so human) population.

If I were a cry-in-the-corner type of person, my horror-hating-soul would be doing that, because I don’t like being terrified of what’s coming, but I’m a bloody Gryffindor, and we don’t show fear, so I just marched on and kept reading. Overall, I think the horror aspects were very well balanced with the daily life in the 1920s and the mystery parts, which made me quite enjoy myself despite the demons lurking in the shadows.

Definitely pick this up if you have any interest in America’s supernatural history (I’m personally hoping one of the books in this quartet focuses on the witch trials), or if you adore 1920s period fiction, or if you liked Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, because this book is pos-i-tute-ly for you. Also, this cover is magic. I love it.

 

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Lair of Dreams
Book #3 – Before The Devil Breaks You
Book #4 – Untitled – TBD

TV Review – The Vampire Diaries, Season #1

The-Vampire-Diaries-Season-1

Source: Wikipedia

 

Seventeen-year-old Elena Gilbert is still reeling from the loss of her parents in a car accident four months prior to the beginning of the show. She lives in the small town of Mystic Falls in Virginia with her younger brother Jeremy and their aunt and guardian, Jenna. The new school year starts and Elena and her two best friends, Bonnie and Caroline, meet the new boy at school, Stefan, who turns out to be a vampire. The storyline mostly follows Elena, Stefan, and Stefan’s mysterious older brother Damon, as well as a secret town council, made up the founding families, that somehow knows about vampires and seeks to rid Mystic Falls of them.

 

This television series is based on the book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. I will readily admit I have not read them. Because everyone told me the writing was really terrible. Also, I had already seen the first season of the show at that point and knowing it wasn’t going to be as good made me just not want to go there and potentially ruin something beautiful. Because I consider what the writer has written to be cannon and any adaptations secondary, and I really want this TV show to be my cannon for this series.

This is a rewatch for me, but since I binged it the first time, I couldn’t remember where the first season ended and the second season began. This, my friends, is an excellent show and probably not appropriate for teenagers with the amount of illegal substances, underage drinking, and hooking up going on without anyone’s parents seeming to care overly much as long as they don’t see it personally. Not that that stopped me from watching it in 2009 when it premiered and I was a seventeen-year-old senior in high school. That said, Elena and pals are juniors, not seniors.

Being that this season takes place from 2009-2010, the music is super nostalgic for me. A lot of it is what I listened to during that time, and the tunes I didn’t recognize the first watch through I noticed now because they were songs I loved in college that hadn’t quite found me yet in high school. I also quite enjoyed the references to TwilightThe X-Files, and How I Met Your Mother, amongst others. The CW, like MTV, has a habit of picking attractive actors and actresses to fill their roles, though the CW doesn’t usually go over the top like MTV tends to. In this case, they played it right down the line and it worked out exceptionally well. While we had quite a few one-off characters, the season felt really full.

My favorite parts of the season might be the flashback scenes. Because we’re dealing with the eternally dead-yet-alive, the writers were able to jump into the past and show us bits of American history through the eyes of Stefan and Damon. I happen to know from experience that the flashbacks only get even better from here.

We got 22 45-minute episodes, and the first 6-7 mostly deal with getting to know the characters and setting up the layout of the town for the rest of the show. This was done really quite well. The remaining 15 episodes are composed of a mix of plots, furthering the basic character back story bits while also allowing room for a ‘big bad’. In this case, a bunch of scary vampires from the past show up and try to murder everyone. The season ends by wrapping up the season one big bad and hinting at the bad things to come in season two. If season one could be called “Let’s get to know everyone and hope not too many people close to our characters die”, then season two will probably end up being called “Feelings suck”.

 

Since this is season one, I won’t share any spoilers. Starting with season two, however, I’ll be referencing things from previous seasons, so don’t read them if you don’t want the plot spoiled!

 

And since this is of the utmost importance, I’m going to keep a tally of which team I’m on as far as ‘ships’ go in this series (Only the obvious one this time, though. No spoilers!):

The first time I watched this show, I was hardcore Team Stefan. Having watched other seasons I am now biased, obviously, but rewatching this season allowed me to see all the little manipulative things Stefan is doing while not actually realizing he is doing them. You would think that after 150+ years on this Earth he would know better, but, alas, he does not. So, this time around, I am wholeheartedly Team Damon. And I have no regrets.

 

Favorite Episode: Episode 19 – Miss Mystic Falls

 

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

 

TV Review – Wynonna Earp, Season #1

Wynonna-Earp-Season-One-Syfy

Source: IMDB

Wynonna Earp has been running all her life. Hated by nearly everyone in her small town and thought to be off her rocker by the rest, she had no intention of ever returning to Purgatory. Brought home by the sudden and mysterious death of her uncle, Wynonna gets drawn into a quest for redemption that has been plaguing her family for decades.

 

First off, the diversity in this show is so SO good. Secondly, the number of strong female characters is pretty darn high and that rules. When it comes to the romances, the chemistry and build up isn’t always 100% there, but there is plenty of comical awkwardness to make up for it. I’m not a fan of zombies, but these zombie-esque monsters have been great so far. Even though it’s quite a gory show, it’s still fairly stomachable.

Wynonna, as the title character, is the focus of the show. However, there are plenty of cast regulars that hold their own and often have large storylines of their own. Wynonna’s kid sister, the black-ops agent sent to look into Purgatory’s strange occurrences, the local law enforcement, and even well-known historical characters are all well developed and intriguing to follow along their own paths that criss-cross Wynonna’s life.

To be honest, what I loved most about this show was the old-timey-western nods because I’m a fan of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, but with the season finale, the show takes a turn towards decidedly more Syfy Channel material. I’m still not sure how I feel about it since it was all only in the finale, but I’m just not quite as excited to watch season two as I was season one.

Besides the old-west vibes, I really enjoyed the snarky streak that runs in the Earp family. Waverly’s clearly developed because she is continually underestimated and therefore needs to speak up to get a word in edgewise, while Wynonna built her’s up as a shield against everything being thrown at her. The snark and sarcasm are often used to diffuse awkward situations – usually by making them even more awkward until someone gives up and walks out – and it adds a lot of humor to the show.

Overall, I really really enjoyed this one. Not only is it a win for female characters, it’s a win for diversity as a whole with its character backgrounds, sexuality, and even age. This show encompasses so many good things, and the plot and it’s execution across all 13 episodes of season one are fantastic to boot. I definitely recommend that you go watch it immediately so you won’t have too much catching up to do! The finale cliffhanger(s) are killer, and season two just started at the beginning of June on Syfy in the US, Space in Canada, and Spike in the UK.

 

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

TV Review – Stranger Things, Season #1

Stranger-Things-logo-wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Alright, let’s start at the top, shall we? I’m pretty picky when it comes to entertainment consumption. Things tend to stick with me, to the point where I remember details of a plot for years after I’ve finished watching or reading something. This is frustrating when a book becomes my favorite because re-reading is pointless for about 10 years. It’s worse when it comes to TV and film, however. I saw The Birds when I was about eleven years old and it still gives me nightmares 14 years later. In general, I don’t like horror because of this. That being said, I really enjoy 80’s movies. So it was fairly difficult for me to decide whether or not Stranger Things was something I wanted to put into my head.

My brother watched it when it first came out and then proceeded to make the rst of my family watch it. At the time I was helping to plan two separate friends’ weddings and was living with one of them part-time to facilitate this process. Because of my living situation, my family was already on episode three when I figured out they were watching it, and at the time I didn’t want to miss anything if I was going to actually commit to it. Which brings us to how I ended up watching it.

The music was cool. That’s really all I could hear from my bedroom besides various characters screaming ‘Will!’ and ‘Barb!’ over and over again, so I didn’t have much to go on besides the music and the recommendation of my family.

I think I started watching it in January? It was well after the weddings were over, and after NaNoWriMo too, so I think it was January. The first episode was half creepy, half boring. I loved that they played Dungeons and Dragons (greatest game ever!), but nothing had really happened, and I had no sense of the world so I had no idea where the story could possibly be going. Fast forward another month and I had watched episodes two and three, and I was becoming seriously bored. I thought this was supposed to be scary? Nothing was happening to propel the story forward, and Winona Ryder was getting really good at playing a crazy lady. I was about ready to give up.

Then, near the end of April, my brother asked if I had finished it yet. I told him my feelings and he insisted that I watch episode four. We watched it together. I was still bored. He kept telling me “some episodes are slower, some are faster.” I didn’t believe him.

Finally, I went back to it at the end of May because I hate leaving things unfinished and I had other series I wanted to watch. I turned on episode five, and WOW! What a difference! In fact, the entire second half of the season moved at lightning speed compared to the first half. It honestly felt like watching an entirely different show. Characters developed! The plot moved along at a semi-reasonable pace! We got a good look at the monster!

Overall, I enjoyed it. It’s 80’s nostalgia wasn’t overpowering, but the setting was believable. The plot was well constructed in the last four episodes. We got clear answers to our burning Mike and El questions, and Lucas finally turned back into a normal human being. We got some backstory on Chief Hopper (though no hints as to what he’s currently up to), and Nancy turned into a pretty cool character.

Now the bad news:
Besides the first four episodes being more boring than watching paint dry, the actual ending killed me. I should probably warn you that I finished watching the finale about… 27.5 minutes ago at the time of writing this, so these impressions are piping hot and fresh, but come on, Steve? And what about the egg? And the stupid homage to Stephen King’s IT with that last bathroom scene? And I WANT EL BACK!!!

Plenty of it was cliche “Don’t open the door!” moments, and, I’m sorry, but can the library please not be the most dangerous place in everything? It’s just too obvious. (See every video game featuring a library. The ‘library’ level is the most difficult. Or it’s the lair of the evil beast. Always.) And I know these people have never dealt with *****SPOILER***** Infectious aliens personally before, but COME ON, this is the 80’s, the movie Alien had already been released! They’re all obsessed with Sci-fi and Fantasy and no one thinks to do an X-ray to see if anything else is inside of him? I mean, it’s not like you pulled a four-foot-monster-larva out of him or anything. *****END SPOILER*****

 

Will I be watching Season #2? Yes. Will I be angry if it ends anything like this one did? YES.

 

HHC Rating: 3.75 Stars.

 

One last burning question: How does their science teacher know so much? I smell a conspiracy.