Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Review)

Hello and, er, hail Satan, I guess? One of the hallmarks of this three-season Netflix revival of Sabrina the Teenage Witch is how the writers have carefully amended every phrase to be more witchy. So we tell our enemies to go to heaven, commend our friends as hell-sent, and so on.

Like most of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the effect is unsettling, engaging… and it almost works. But not quite. Let’s talk about the good parts of Chilling Adventures, and the parts where it left me cold.

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Crabs – Guy N. Smith (Review)

night crabs

Books about monsters rising from the oceans to wreak havoc upon humanity are some of my favourite things, and the ones that I turn to in times of stress or boredom. I have read reams of books about sharks and squid and jellyfish, but was delighted recently to discover a whole stash of books focusing on monstrous crabs. I initially intended this review to focus on one book only – Night of the Crabs – but lately I have had a lot of long & boring train journeys, so instead will focus on all eight books in the Crabs series.

Luckily, the books – all the way up to The Charnel Caves – share many common elements, and can be usefully all discussed together. The plot of each book may vary in specifics, but the core narrative is the same – gigantic, hate-filled crustaceans emerge from the oceans, and humanity must fight for its survival in the face of this new and ever-unanticipated menace.

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Love Lettering – Kate Clayborn (Review)

After years of working on wedding invitations and stationary, Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering business is just taking off when a former groom, Reid Sutherland, reappears. Demanding to know how she knew his relationship was doomed to failure, and why she hid a message stating just that in the very programme for his wedding, Reid wants answers before he leaves New York for good.

Having explained her ability to read signs and weave them into her work, Meg and Reid begin a journey of finding art around New York and its many signs, both of them finding personal and professional inspiration along the way. But are the signs really there in this book, or does the writing on the wall need some proof-reading?

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The Binding – Bridget Collins (Review)

‘Imagine you could hide a secret. Forever.’

Set in an alternate past in which the binding of books is a magical process, people have their most traumatic memories erased and bound into books.

I have to admit, I initially wanted to read The Binding mainly because I kept seeing the gorgeous cover in the bookshop where I used to work and I coveted it, which feels quite appropriate. Having read it, I really don’t know what genre I would peg The Binding as being.

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Murderous Shakespearean Teens: a review of If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Let us turn to an under-theorized but much-loved genre, which I have just decided to name “Murderous Shakespearean Teens”.

We’re thinking of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited; we’re thinking Donna Tartt’s A Secret History; at a pinch, we might think of Peter Nowalk and Shonda Rhimes’ How To Get Away With Murder. There are not many more examples, although I suspect there are quite a few Murderous Shakespearean Teens sitting in a YA publisher’s slushpile somewhere.

These stories all share three central traits: violence (physical or otherwise), glamour, and youth.

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Battle of the zombies: In The Flesh versus The Cured

I LOVE zombie films. This might come as a slight surprise because I normally leave the horror reviews to Dan. I can’t get through most scary movies without hiding behind the sofa and then having nightmares for weeks.

But there is just something about shuffling, brains-hungry, undead monsters which really works for me, as a movie concept. This may well have something to do with In The Flesh.

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Oceans 8 (2018): In a world without men

The Ocean’s franchise is venerable and well-established. First there was the original Rat Pack movie in 1960. Then came the 2001 reboot, which established the modern style: slick, understated comedy, which didn’t waste too much time explaining the heist. You get to watch the characters muddle about and mess things up with insouciance; then you see the double-speed replay where you realize that, actually, they were in charge of the situation all along.

And the formula worked for two whole sequels, until it started to run out of steam. So the big Hollywood directors sat down and thought about how to regenerate the franchise once more.

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