Halloween 2018: Annihilation (2018)

Continuing on with the Halloween movie watching, we’re back to something a little more current with a 2018 film. While a lot of people got this on Netflix, Canada got the theatrical release and therefore only just got it available on Netflix now. I remember watching the trailer for this and being incredibly interested in it. It felt like it would be a horror thriller with science fiction and such. Honestly, at this point, I don’t remember much from the trailer except the general storyline.

Annihilation (2018)

annihilation

Director: Alex Garland

Cast: Natalie Portman, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. – IMDB

As usual, I’m going to be clear that I’ve never read the source material so this write-up is based completely on the film itself.

Annihilation comes as a midway point  for myself. I had some high expectations for it when I first saw it announced but somehow that feeling has gone away a little. As for whether it met my expectations, I’d have to say that it did in one way and then it didn’t quite reach what I had expected it to be completely. A part of me also thinks that this isn’t quite horror. Its more of a scifi/fantasy thriller with horror elements. With that said, Annihilation is visually very pretty. The creativity behind the world that the five scientists go into definitely was an eye-opening experience just to see the ideas behind it and how it was executed. The execution itself is a recount of events from Natalie Portman’s character and with that centers her as being the main character which makes it out by all means but then it jumps from mostly in the past rundown of events but jumping back to the present as she is being questioned.

Annihilation

The creatures in this world and the flora and the colorfulness that covers all over the world has this sinister yet mesmerizing sort of effect. The world creation actually is the plus in Annihilation. Its the mystery that surrounds it which makes it so intriguing to keep watching just to see what more there is around the corner. There is this creeping feeling of something bad always going to happen because of the little that we know especially with the history of no one making it back from this area. At the same time, there is a lot of genuinely dangerous moments that happen at fairly unexpected moments. There are some that pack in quite a lot of atmosphere building tension.

Annihilation

As for the cast itself, I haven’t seen Natalie Portman in too many movies so I’m not sure that I’m exactly impressed with her performance. To be honest, everyone does a well enough job but nothing really does standout because it becomes fairly obvious that the scientists here are only half developed especially with anyone outside of Natalie Portman. Everyone seems to have some past that gives them some form of weakness but its never given enough attention to make them memorable. Some of them seem to fall a tad flat. For anyone back in the facility with Benedict Wong who only plays as a tough interrogator while Oscar Isaac is a survivor that pretty much that falls into a coma after the events and is the main reason behind the mystery and why Natalie Portman’s character goes into this area. His parts are best described as powerful because of what the scene delivers but its Oscar Isaac and he always has some presence but he’s more of a supporting leaning into cameo part. However, there are some familiar faces like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tessa Thompson.

Overall, Annihilation is visually very impressive and the story and execution uses ambiguity to create mystery and suspense and that works especially with the beautiful world they have created. However, there’s something lacking about it that makes it hard to really be completely memorable and that probably gets down to lack of character development. There has this effect of giving the story something to think about at the end but then, I’m not sure it actually lingered that long in my mind.

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Festival du Nouveau Cinema: The Guilty (2018)

The Guilty (2018)

The Guilty

Director (and co-screenplay): Gustav Moller

Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi, Johan Olsen, Jacob Lohmann, Katinka Evers-Jahnsen, Jeanette Linkbaek

A police officer assigned alarm dispatch duty enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. – IMDB

Suffice to say that I know nothing about Danish films. The Guilty is a one location thriller which sets an emergency office dispatch who picks up a call at the end of his shift from an abducted woman. Right away, we can think about movies like The Call (review) but while the concept of it is similar, The Guilty stays true to its one location. Other than a few random conversations with his colleagues in the same office, the bulk of the film is through different phone conversations. Its also pretty much a one man show and a rather thrilling one at that.

The Guilty

One location is just a set up and because of it, it creates the mystery of the unknown. Who is on the other line? Are they trustworthy? What is happening on the other side of the screen? Being a thriller, it also adds the expected desire to decipher the twist as we grab on to as many details in the conversation and the nature of the conversation and the character reactions through the dialogue. A convincing voice cast and a compelling main character is essential along with a captivating dialogue and pacing of the events and reveals to create a hook. Luckily, The Guilty achieves that almost completely. It drops reveals and hints and at the same time, the abducted woman is a vessel to somehow understand our main character better as we see that he has some secrets of his own that he is trying to come to terms with. All these elements gives him depth and development. Just as the abducted woman also has another level of depth to be discovered and where do these stories compare.

The Guilty

With that said, Jakob Cedergren is fantastic in this. We see closeups and how he emotes. His feeling and emotions despite having no dialogue. There is so much strength and conviction to his performance that we believe in the urgency of the situation and the logic behind his actions. At the same time, we can’t neglect the voice work from Jessica Dinnage who voices Liben, the abducted woman as well as the the myriad of characters, especially the young Mathilde, voiced by Katinka Evers-Jahnsen.

Good thrillers are hard to come by. By staying to the one location and having a strong main cast and compelling character arcs and gripping dialogue, The Guilty does a lot of things right. Its not complicated and the twist might be slightly expected but buying into the characters makes all the difference here.

Halloween 2018: The Visit (2015)

It sure feels like I’m working backwards one year after next as I work through the films. Trust me, it isn’t deliberate. Next up is 2015’s The Visit, somewhat considered a comeback directorial film from M. Night Shyamalan. I have only seen The Sixth Sense from him so I have no idea about his career.

The Visit (2015)

Director (and writer): M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn

Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation. – IMDB

I am probably about the only person who doesn’t know much about The Visit. I honestly chose this one off a whim, remembering it had mixed opinions. With that said, all I knew was that grandkids visit their grandparents and stuff happens like most horror movies would go. Not a whole lot to go on so expectations are non-existent. With that said, The Visit turned out to be quite good. Usually, I figure out twists pretty well but I didn’t finish convincing myself of it before it took the route that it did. Maybe it had to do with the similarity to an elementary school camping creepy tale that made this one feel more effective for me.

I enjoy films that use a documentary format to play up the events because when it is done well, it helps to keep some things under wraps and there are things left to imagination in the mysterious zone. The Visit works relatively well in that department especially since the events are highlighted a lot with noises here and there. The bumps at night are generally overused in horror films but because we never quite know what to expect whenever the kids see what is causing the noise. On top of that, its a question of what is causing the odd behavior in their grandparents. Creepy grandparents somehow have its effectiveness and these ones have the unexpected factor.

Its interesting to see how Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould was both in Better Watch out (review) after this film. They are very good young actors and they definitely excel in their roles here. The same goes for the grandparents here played by Deanna Dunagan and McRobbie. They are sufficiently creepy. There are some bits especially with the grandma that has hints of fairy tale stories and also, she has one scene under the house that is crazy creepy notched up to level eleven. That is just a quick example.

Overall, the story here feels fairly simple. The reason this works to a decent horror extent is in the mystery of how it is filmed and executed. If it was in traditional filming, it might not have been as effective. The creepy moments were in the unknown and a lot of the off frame and creepy ambient sounds used here. The twist was also relatively clever. Thinking back, it wasn’t completely hard to figure out but I was sold on the twist.

Have you seen The Visit?
Are you a fan of M. Night Shyamalan films?

Festival du Nouveau Cinema: Burning (2018)

Burning (2018)

Burning

Director (& screenplay): Chang-dong Lee

Cast: Ah-In Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jeon

Eight years after Poetry, Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-Dong adapts Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s novel on the coded twists and turns of a love triangle. After a chance encounter with Haemi, a former girlfriend, Jongsu, a young courier, agrees to feed her cat while she goes to Africa. To Jongsu’s chagrin, she returns in the company of a mysterious, rich stranger, Ben. A powerful social message and bewitching lyricism lies behind this patient but fascinating thriller. It is an odyssey to the heart of uncertainty and it will haunt you long after the credits have rolled. – Festival du Nouveau Cinema

First of all, lets clear the air that I have never read or heard of the source material that Burning is adapted from so there is no comparison to be made. What I offer is the film experience as a whole.

With that said, Burning is an intriguing story to say the least. Albeit, a slow paced, slow burning sort of film experience. The idea here is a really good one from its first act of our main character, Jongsu meeting again his high school friend, Haemi who he develops feelings for and ends up agreeing to feed her cat while she goes to a dream vacation to Africa. At the same time, he has a change in his life as he goes to take care of his father’s property and we slowly learn why as his back story unfolds bit by bit as well. Things change in the second act upon Haemi’s return with a new friend, Ben, an offputting yet social and rich young man. There are so many awkward and comedic moments that show off each of these characters. It also helps that the movie was generally in three or four acts. From meeting Haemi to Jongsu waiting for her to get back to their time spent with Ben and then Jongsu’s search.

Ah-In Yoo plays the young courrier Jongsu who seems very much like a wallflower. He doesn’t have a direction and follows around Haemi and easily follows others in what they do and doesn’t make a first move while he does find joy in some of the little things. He is a quiet and introvert character that we see have a decent amount of development throughout the film. On the other hand, Haemi is an odd ray of sunshine. She is expressive and very much an open book even in her weird obsession with her search for the hunger of the meaning of life and such. Which leads us to our final character and a familiar face, Ben played by Steve Yeun who I have never seen speak Korean let alone expect to be in a Korean film. His character is mysterious but its almost too obvious that he has something more because of just how he answers all questions vaguely. But there is a very great moment of reveal when things link together and that is what I liked about it.

Mysterious phone calls, missing crush and dark secrets are the basis of Burning. Its a character study set in the midst of a thriller. At some point, it gets a little blurry in the second half as the movie drags on for longer than it feels necessary. It feels like a tighter execution might have rendered it more fun to watch. That really is the one complaint I have of this film. The cast themselves do a fantastic job and the director takes great care in framing the shots and the details with lighting and atmosphere. All things I like to watch and see in films.

Halloween 2018: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

pride and prejudice and zombies

Director (and writer): Burr Steers

Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance

Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies. – IMDB

Parody novels seems to be a fairly new thing in the last few years. Its always risky business to mess with the Classics but the initial idea of adding zombies to anything usually works. Think about when I looked at the children’s novels collection the past few years called Fables of the Undead. Jane Austen, particularly Pride and Prejudice, is particularly close to my heart, as I’d imagine it is for many people especially with the strong-headed girl and the very misunderstood Mr. Darcy which gives a lot of the charms. As parody novel goes, I’ve never read this source material but in my mind, for this to work, there had to be a fine balance on keeping the original ideas and adding enough of a twist of balancing out how to integrate the zombies logically and well, Lizzie and Darcy. Does it live up to it? I’d say half and half.

pride and prejudice and zombies

Suffice to say that I think the story itself retains a lot of the original flow of events. It works for the fans of Jane Austen but the twist really is in the nature of the characters especially how the Bennet girls are trained in the high arts of fighting and weaponry as they live in this desolate world of zombies taking over the world. Was the world always like this? Why are they trained so strongly if not? There’s a lot of questions here of the set-up that leave a little to be desired. It would be what sets it apart but its really how the characters integrate and how the zombies can live in hiding until tasting human flesh that they truly turn and how the zombies work that give the extra twist. It also obviously pulls in the sly Wickham into the equation. Darcy, of course, is the no BS highly skilled fighter. The landscape is a little gloomier. The question is whether its set itself apart and the twist at times feels like its slightly forced. I like the fact that they kept to the script and a lot of the Pride and Prejudice popular stuff is kept in but it just felt like a very small change and I’m not sure if I’m completely down with the zombies aspect. Its probably why the film, after putting this together is categorized as an action thriller and not a horror (Oops..but zombies count for Halloween).

pride and prejudice and zombies

As for Darcy, I have nothing against Sam Riley. Honestly, I’m not sure what else I’ve seen him in but I didn’t really feel like his Darcy gave me anything special. He was just odd. Darcy is odd and awkward and misunderstood but somehow, maybe its because the Darcy’s before him are so iconic that I couldn’t really get into his character as Darcy. On the other hand, Douglas Booth has a thing for these kinds of roles. I’ve seen him before in a similar one with 2013’s Romeo and Juliet (Review). I haven’t quite decided whether I like him or not but as Bingley, somehow it felt like it worked.

All disappointments aside, I loved the fight scenes (slow motion or not) and the strength of the Bennet girls and how they enter the scene full of character. The setting and landscape and the tone to create the environment works well and its a nice piece to watch especially in the final act of the film. However, it was slightly lacklustre. Whenever I watch a movie like this, I want to catch up with the source material. Maybe it captures a little more than what was translated to the big screen. Its dangerous territory to tread and it just fell short of my expectations. Sad because it had all the elements that I like a lot.

Have you seen Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

Double Feature: Chasing the Dragon (2017) & Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Welcome back to the next double feature! Its been a while, right? I’ll try to be better…I guess I was more burnt out from writing reviews that even I could imagine. Overall, I’m just feeling mostly burned out and not in the mood for writing lately but I’m slowly getting back on track.

With that said, no specific reason when I first chose these two together but the banners are looking like there is a versus vibe to it. 😉 This double feature is 2017 Hong Kong film Chasing the Dragon starring Donnie Yen and Andy Lau, which had its wave of popularity when it was announced and released in Hong Kong (judging from Facebook activity) and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a DC film that I honestly didn’t care too much about to begin with but it was going to leave Netflix and I just went for it, hoping that low expectations might make it a little more entertaining. One high hopes and one low expectations, lets see how they truly fare, right?

Chasing the Dragon (2017)

Chasing the Dragon

Director: Jason Kwan, Jing Wong, Aman Chang

Cast: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Wilfred Lau, Kang Yu, Kent Cheng, Bryan Larkin, Ben Ng, Ken Tong, Dongdong Xu

An illegal immigrant from Mainland China sneaks into corrupt British-colonized Hong Kong in 1963, transforming himself into a ruthless and emerging drug lord. – IMDB

Chasing the Dragon is said to be based on a true story of real life gangster, Ng Sek-ho and also a remake of the 1991 film, To Be Number One. I don’t know much about the history and I don’t think I’ve seen that movie before so I have no idea how it compares. However, Chasing the Dragon is a good one. Its a bit different from how you would normally perceive in a movie solely focused in Donnie Yen’s fighting abilties.

In this one, he plays the gangster Crippled Ho who while has one or two really good fight scenes, he spends most of it being a triad leader. For audience who don’t speak Chinese, it is a pity because the achievement here is how Donnie Yen takes over the character and nails this really fantastic accent while not making it sound goofy but still manage to feel threatening especially since the movie is set in characters sitting in grey areas. On one hand, there’s a lot of bad that has happened and it feels like Crippled Ho was pushed into the situation and we can’t help but to fight for his escape and Andy Lau (the awesome actor that he is) plays Lee Rock, a corrupted cop who will do anything to be number one and finds his support with Lee Rock. You can see where his grey area is because he becomes fairly ruthless. Their appearances are aided a lot by an even more evil cast by Bryan Larkin as Hunt, an arrogant and even more ruthless British cop who is the top dog and feels threatened by Lee Rock’s promotion. This guy is scripted in such a  way that makes him so hard to like, and it was the intent.

Chasing the Dragon is very much a Hong Kong film and rather meant for a Chinese speaking audience. Be it the way the movie is and how the language, especially the slang nature of Cantonese can get lost in translation easy. The successes of the film also rely on various elements that rely on understanding why Donnie Yen is so convincing in his role. I’m not sure that if I was just reading subtitles and not totally understanding some of the history (the little bit that I know), how it would changed my enjoyment for it. There are some pacing issues and some rather forced bits possibly over-dramatized. While its a pretty good film, its definitely not the best. It met my expectations but I have to say that might have to do with my respect for both of these actors as well as the great supporting cast that was on screen.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot

Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. – IMDB

Let’s make it really clear that I haven’t seen Man of Steel so I don’t know what happened to make Batman so angry except for the little recap snippet in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As I said before, my expectations for this one wasn’t high. My difference here is just that I  didn’t feel convinced about this film from the trailer. I have no issue with Ben Affleck as Batman, maybe a tiny issue with Henry Cavill as Superman, mostly because I haven’t seen a movie he has done that I like. The issue with the film might not exactly be the cast because they are all great actors and do a pretty good job. Where this film falls apart is its length which made the pacing so horrible. The story itself falls apart and is flat out boring. It never feels like much happens. There’s some stealthy useless stealing scene, Wonder Woman gets in the way, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor does his crazy act and then takes them down a notch from their high superhero ways and they put aside from issues and team up to fight him. Not exactly a riveting story in my mind but some basic stuff with a lot of padding in between. I wonder if its because I haven’t seen Man of Steel that I don’t have that connection with Superman so I don’t have any stake in how much I care about his making it out of this or not. But the movie itself just wasn’t good because it was boring and at times, felt so pointless.

Either way, not one that I’ll go visit. So far, the top DC film out of the two (and a tenth of Man of Steel) that I’ve seen is definitely  Wonder Woman (review). Not in a hurry to catch up with the DC films just yet. I had low expectations and this one possibly even went a bit lower than that.

Blog Tour: Just by Jenny Morton Potts [Review/Excerpt/Giveaway]

Blog Tour Just

Just
By Jenny Motion Potts

Just novel

Publication Date: June 14, 2018
Genre: Romantic Thriller

SYNOPSIS

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea.

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.

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EXCERPT

Chapter 1

The Elephant

At Westside Dental Practice in Cambridge, it was quitting time.

“Oh, nearly forgot.” Finlay Duff pulled an envelope from his jacket pocket and thrust it roughly towards Lucienne Langbrook. “This came for you. Hand delivered.”

Luci thought her Practice Partner looked a little out of sorts. “What’s wrong?”

“What is wrong is that your root canal patient left without paying. A full apicoectomy. That’s the best part of a grand, that is.”

“Ah. I see. Blimey, he was a gruff sort. Even before the pain and general torture.” Luci tore the letter out of the envelope with her fingers which annoyed her Partner further. Finlay always used a letter opener, the handle of which was monogrammed with his initials. She’d given him that as a birthday present, from the website What Do You Give The Smug Git Who Has Everything?

“Come to think of it, Finlay, my patient didn’t even thank me.”

“It’s not funny. May I remind you that we have spent a fortune doing this surgery up. And every penny of interest that we—”

“Oh my God.” Lucienne’s fingers flew to her mouth.

“What? What?”

The letter shook in her hand as she read it quickly again, then held it out at the end of a stiff arm. Finlay took the letter and began to murmur his way through.

Dear Lucienne

It is with enormous regret that I have to inform you of Eddie’s death. As you may know, he was in Botswana on a contract with Lucara Diamonds, and one evening on his way back to the hotel, his car ran into an elephant.

The letter shook a little in Finlay’s hand.

“Oh my sainted aunt, you cannot be laughing. Fin, tell me you’re not laughing at this.”

“I’m not! Of course, I’m not.” Finlay’s Glaswegian accent always amplified in moments of vehemence. “It’s just a nerve thing. I’m like this at funerals. I am.”

Luci grabbed the letter from him. “Well, there’s not going to be a funeral. And if there was, you certainly wouldn’t be invited. Look! She’s going out there. Her. To cremate Edward.”

“Where? Who?”

“Susan. Mrs Langbrook Mark Two. She’s going to Botswana.” Lucienne flicked her hand away from her own body and towards a far-off continent, like Susan was an imaginary fly to be propelled. “It is the incumbent, you see, the present wife, who buries the husband.”

“Whit? They’re not bringing the body back? How’s Ed going to feel about that?” Finlay tried to arrange his amusement into a frown.

“Oh you’re concerned, are you, about Ed’s wishes? Come off it. You always loathed him. Anyway, it’s what he wanted. Not to be repatriated, in such a… circumstance. Apparently. You know Edward, every administrative eventuality will have been planned for.”

“Give me back the letter, I didn’t finish.”

Lucienne looked at her watch. “It’s just gone six thirty. I’m going to lock up. My God.” She pushed her hand through her blonde streaks and held it there for a moment, at the temple, where the grey crept to the fray once more. Then she left the letter on the luxurious orange leather of the Aston treatment chair – Finlay’s personal favourite – and he reclined on it now to finish Susan Langbrook’s letter.

…accidents are actually the most common cause of death in that country. Not all animal related, obviously, but elephants are a constant hazard. The temperature drops rapidly in the evening and the tarmac is the warmest place for the beasts. Eddie wasn’t driving particularly quickly, the Botswana Police Service said (from the tyre marks) but all the same, an object of that size…

Lucienne Langbrook checked that the drug cabinets were closed properly and set the new alarm with her son Scott’s birth date. The letter said that Scott had been told about his father’s accident, but Luci had not heard from her son since he first arrived in Libya. She’d had a text, saying “Landed” and that was it. Was he in touch with Susan though? Oh dear God, was he? A little hook of pain hitched onto Lucienne’s heart. Both her loves in Africa, one dead love – Edward – who was now actually dead, and the other, her son, who was both missing and being missed terribly. Had Susan Langbrook heard from Scott though?

Lucienne could hear Finlay’s regulation brogues on the newly fitted engineered oak. She wanted to fall down, simply, on the floor and wait for something better. Finlay gestured at her torso. “C’mon Luci. Rip that Velcro.”

She took off her crisp, pale blue dental tunic. It had arrived just that morning and her Partner had wanted to tell her how much better that choice than the bottle green she’d considered. Finlay wanted to tell her how much she suited this tunic, the short sleeves showing off her perfect arms, the unnecessary but charming penny collar for the lady dentist. He cramped his toes up inside his shoes to banish his inappropriate responses. Anyway, Lucienne Langbrook wouldn’t stand for a compliment. Finlay knew that he ought to be ashamed of his skin-deep assessments, when she’d just that moment got news of her ex-husband’s brutal passing. Ought to be ashamed, but wasn’t. “Hey, not a mark on it. Your shirt, Luci. Must have been a good day. At some point.”

He threw her tunic into the laundry and got their coats. “I’m sorry about Ed. I am really. Sincerely. I do struggle with certain aspects of being a grown up but I—”

“You hated him from the very first.”

“Lucienne, please.”

“It’s alright, I did too, in the end. I hated Edward. Hated him and loved him. An elephant for fuck’s sake.” She looked up at her best friend and Practice Partner, eyes ashine with coping. “Now it really is, the end.”

REVIEW

Just is somewhat of a hard novel to review, probably the one where I’m having the most conflicted feelings about in a while. I’m always a little cautious when going into romantic thrillers. Romance itself has some blurred lines in the modern novel sense and thrillers are just tough to nail down. I’m not sure that Just nails down both of these areas or creates a good balance per se. However, despite a slow start to the novel which frankly did begin a little confusing as it jumps a little timeline (unless I missed something and just lost track), as the ideas of the thriller solidifies and the pieces slide together by around the middle, the second half takes a nice turn that almost does make up for the slow beginning.

On one hand, I think that the thriller elements does truly come together in the second half effectively. The pacing definitely could be better. But the setting it uses and the whole idea when we see the whole picture does work out. However, the romance element here is also not completely convincing. On many levels, this book reminded me a little of reading The Casual Vacancy. The characters are quite flawed so they don’t quite have you connecting or backing with any of them in particular. However, their flaws for some of the characters particularly the mother Lucienne and her associate/best friend, Finlay is the ones I thought worked the best here. Their flaws made them feel genuine.

There are some good ideas here and the setting here works overall. It starts off slow and the pacing is a tad slow but give it time and the second half does deliver on the thrills.

Goodreads: 3 out of 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JENNY MORTON POTTS

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

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GIVEAWAY

Jenny is giving away 5 digital copies of Just in your preferred format, so be sure to enter the giveaway!

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