Category Archives: Movies

Flashback Friday: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

PUBLISHER: Long Barn Books

LENGTH: 4 hrs, 36 min

SOURCE: purchased, audiobook

SUMMARY: The Woman in Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler — proof positive that this neglected genre, the ghost story, isn’t dead after all.

What true readers do not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of their hearts, for a really literate, first-class thriller — one that chills the body but warms the soul with plot, perception, and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story written by Jane Austen?

Alas, we cannot give you Austen, but Susan Hill’s remarkable Woman in Black comes as close as our era can provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and most dreadfully — and for Kipps most tragically — the Woman in Black.

REVIEW (Does contain sPoileRs!): When the movie came out in 2012, I wanted to see it mostly because of Daniel Radcliffe. But I didn’t want to see it without having read the book. So, I listened to the audio version which is brilliantly narrated by Paul Ansdell. I was totally into the story and legitimately creeped out in all the right places and ultimately taken by surprise at the ending. A great recipe for a good horror novella.

Hill does a great job of  setting a believably creepy scene and building suspense. Empty house of widowed old woman through whose belongings one must sift for days and days? Perfect plot set up. House still contains a child’s nursery even though widow was aged and alone? Enter tragic family back-story. Said house is completely cut off from everything during high tide? Perfect location for a malevolent ghost who, of course, preys on children. With all of these elements in place, it’s clear that the town’s inhabitants believe in the spectre and that Kipps is not imagining things.

The brilliance of the tension and Creep Factor in Hill’s novella is the simplicity of it. There is no big poltergeist moment. Nothing flashy or fancy happens beyond traditional haunt tactics like blowing out candles and making rocking chairs move in empty rooms. The Woman in Black makes her presence known and shows herself to Kipps without fanfare which is what is so disturbing.

When nothing happens to Kipps while he’s in Eel Marsh House and he makes his way back to London intact, if perhaps a little nervy, there’s a definite sense of anticlimax. But then, a la Dumb and Dumber, Hill TOTALLY REDEEMS HERSELF with  a major twist at the end. The sense of tragedy that readers feel over what brought Jennet to this horrible place where she takes out her wrath on innocent children is echoed in Arthur’s family’s tragic ending. Framing their demise and The Woman in Black’s ultimate “revenge” on Kipps in the mundane elements of his everyday life is a surprising and almost malicious move by the author. With little in the way of resolution after that, the reader is left to digest the Woman in Black’s motives and misery alone.

An excellent read and a definite must for audiobook fans, I was happy to take a stroll back into Gothic horror. Now I just need to make some time to see the movie which was the whole intention in reading the book in the first place.

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters Movie Trailer

Ender’s Game trailer

Orson Scott Card’s YA Science Fiction thriller hits theaters on November 1, 2013.



Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl


TITLE: Beautiful Darness (Book 2 of Beautiful Creatures)

AUTHOR: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

LENGTH: 528 pages

SUMMARY: (via Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

REVIEW: This series is impressive. Stohl and Garcia have managed to create a truly unique magical world within the unwritten social confines of the American South. Those who were raised in the South will feel immediately comfortable in Ama’s kitchen and wince with every wave of her wooden spoon. Even those not from the South will appreciate the setting and its effect on the story.That’s one of the things that makes this series so intriguing. Many series try to set their stories in ambiguous places with a sort of Every Man feel and yet everything about this series is firmly rooted in the South. It is so refreshing to have a series be somewhere so familiar, not only in location, but also in its cultural connotation. Beyond the series’ setting itself, the magical world that Stohl and Garcia have created is entrancing. The Casters battling for dominance in the underground tunnels that connect the Caster world beneath the Gatlin community is captivatingly creepy.

As a second book goes, there is no second-book-drop-off whatsoever. The on-again-off-again dynamic between Lena and Ethan keeps readers turning pages to see if their love can survive this second year of waiting for the other shoe to drop. More secrets and connections to Ethan’s mother and family are revealed and the layering of the Caster world mysteries within Gatlin’s history seem natural. Readers get a closer look at some of the minor characters and the scope of the Caster world expands. Because Lena’s emotional state is so precarious, readers may tire of her self-pity and changeable attitude toward Ethan, but ultimately the connection between the two of them and the revelation of Ethan’s role within the Caster world will keep readers tuned in until the last page.

More Movie News: Mortal Instruments

Headey as J. Fray

Lena Headey, Jared Harris and More Join The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Source: Screen Gems
July 19, 2012

Lena Headey (300, “Game of Thrones”), Jared Harris (“Mad Men,” Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and Godfrey Gao (All About Women) have joined the cast of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which has also added that subtitle to its official production name.


Harris as Hodge

Headey will play Jocelyn Fray, Harris will play Hodge Starkweather, and Gao is set to portray Magnus Bane. They join the previously-announced Lily Collins as Clary Fray, Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland, Robert Sheehan as Simon Lewis, Jemima West as Isabelle Lightwood, Kevin Durand as Emil Pangborn and Robert Maillet as Samuel Blackwell.

“The Mortal Instruments” is a series of six young adult fantasy books written by Cassandra Clare and published by Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books. In the series’ first book, the #1 New York Times bestseller “City of Bones,” set in contemporary New York City, a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray, discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother, Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie is targeting an August 23, 2013 release.

Once again, thanks to Dotti and the YALSA list serve for keeping us informed.


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