West Side Story | Well Crafted & Acted But What a Sh!tty Story

Steven Spielberg making – well remaking – a musical? Why not. This is the second feature-length adaptation of the 1957 West Side Story stage musical by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by the dearly departed Stephen Sondheim – I’m no musical theatre fan but even I know who he is. This newest adaptation stars Ansel Elgort (Divergent Saga, Men Women & Children) and newcomer Rachel Zegler, with Arianna DeBose (Prom, Hamilton), David Alvarez (American Rust), Mike Faist (Panic), and Rita Moreno – who starred in the previous movie based on this musical.

Premise: Teenagers Tony and María, despite having affiliations with rival street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, fall in love in 1950s New York City.

Review: Going in I vaguely knew about this muscial, and thought it was Romeo and Juliet with song and dance, so I was not ready for the racist undertones laced throughout. I mean not at all, and the whole time I was thinking people sing these songs – in particular the jets’ songs – knowing the jets hate the sharks because they’re “foreign” and not white? Knowing they did the same with the Egyptian Kings? – who I’m guessing were people of color.
To make matters worse, I checked the 1960s version, because I suspected the racism to be more blatant in that version – since some of the Jets in Spielberg’s movie seemed a bit swirly, like their were mixed or something; – and oh boy was I wrong. I first stopped at a picture of the 1961 Jets and it screamed aryan brotherhood to me. But the worse thing about it is that Spielberg’s movie seems to be the one not shying away from the racism with a few shashays and harmonies, the old version is.

I figured this movie would have some kind of message, which is I’m guessing along the lines of “an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind?”, but even with that kind of message I don’t think that this movie is worth it. To me it only serves as a reminder that some people are trash, time passed and things remained somewhat the same or got worse. The movie itself didn’t make me sad, my eyes were dry throughout, but it was sad to see that not much has changed in particular when it comes to how people treat each other.

All of that said, I realized that I’ve heard some of those songs unaware that they were from this musical. There is also a lot more to like in this movie when it comes to how it was put together. The cast is amazing, delivering jaw dropping performances. A lot of them, are actors to watch. I never suspected that Elgort could sing like that and his fellow cast members showed him up a bit despite some of them being relative unknowns. The directing is on point, the sets, the dance numbers and the costumes are great, but I just couldn’t get into the story. It starts well enough I guess but it goes off the rails and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There’s no amount of pretty singing and dancing that would have blinded me to the problems I have with the story. Some of the characters’ actions doesn’t make a lot of sense to me maybe the actors didn’t sell it too well but to be honest I don’t think anyone could have. I have yet to watch the 1961 version in full but the two scenes I saw – The introduction scene and the I feel pretty song – and they were cringey for a whole sets of reasons.

West Side Story looks cool, the dances and music are catchy enough, but I just couldn’t get into the story. However I suspect Spielberg to have made meaningful but subtle changes to highten the social commentary

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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ADOW S3 | Trailer

  • Writer: Deborah Harkness (Novels), Lachlan Mackinnon
  • Director: Jamie Donoughue
  • Stars: Teresa Palmer, Matthew Goode, Alex Kingston, Edward Bluemel, Lindsay Duncan; Owen Teale, and Aiysha Hart

If you look at this frame by frame, you’ll see quite a few eaters eggs and great moments from the books so I’m very eager to see these episodes and to finally share The Book of Life review that I’ve been sitting on for years at this point. I might even dip back into the book.

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November readings | Adventures on Land and Sea

Title: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre(s): Epic, High Fantasy, Adventure
Page count: 814 pages
Published: 15 November 1990

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Fable
Series: Fable #1
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre(s): YA, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy
Page count: 357 pages
Published: 1 September 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

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Fable | Adrienne Young

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

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How was it? Well it took me a little over a year to finish this book. I know that sounds bad but some books are like that, they take me months to finish them. I read half of it in one sitting and was enveloped in the world building but just has everything was set up – because that the first half is mostly that – I stopped reading.

As much as I ended up liking this book, it has some aspects that are eye roll worthy, bringing the quality down. I paused right in the middle of an action sequence, which is odd for me, but the book was getting to a point where I felt that most of the world building was done. The setting of this book is one of the best thing about it. I loved learning about it, the different places, what made up the crew of a ship, the trade guild or the idea of Gem Sages, the author does a great job at laying all that out. It’s not too complicated and it feels real.

However, when the focus was shifting more to other characters and tried to move the plot forward, the story lost its shine a bit. The problem is part of the plot is vague and the other is predictable; as for the other characters – mainly the crew of the Marygold – the further you got from West, the less you knew about them. I can barely remember their names and am not sure how many of them there were. Also as charming as these characters were, they’re not believable as the crew of a ship. Their young age might make them seem like underdogs compared to the other ships but given how these other crews are described it’s a wonder that they’re still alive and retained their ship.

There’s also some romance in this book, thank goodness it’s doesn’t take much space but it’s USELESS. It seemed liked an obligatory added on thing, as if it can only be a YA novel if someone catches feelings. I don’t mind romance, in fact I read a lot of it but it was unnecessary here.

Besides the world building, the other aspect of the book that I liked is Fable. She’s driven, brave and a great character to follow. I may not have liked all of her choices but I enjoyed going on this adventure with her.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fable is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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October readings | Dragons, Mysteries and Dead Things

Title: Dead Until Dark
Series: Sookie Stackhouse book 1
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Page count: 292 pages
Published: 1 May 2001

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre(s): Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Fiction
Page count: 360 pages
Published: 30 May 2017

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Origin
Series: Scales’N’Spells 1
Author: A.J. Sherwood, Jocelynn Drake
Genre(s): Contemporary, Fantasy
Page count: 392 pages
Published: 1 October 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Silk & Steel
Series: Silk & Steel #1
Author: Ariana Nash, Pippa DaCosta
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, MM
Page count: 380 pages
Published: 18 January 2019

My review | Book | Audiobook

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You (S3) | Exploring The Lies We All Tell To The World

Netflix’s psychological drama with the adorkable serial killer Joe Goldberg played by Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl) is back for a third season. The series see the return of Saffron Burrows (Agent of Shields) and Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor) from season two, joining newly cast Travis Van Winkle (Instinct, The Last Ship), Shalita Grant (NCIS: New Orleans, Special), Tati Gabrielle (CAOS) and Dylan Arnold (After We Collided, After).

Last seasons: After first meeting Joe Goldberg in New York, where he developed an extreme, toxic, and delusional obsession with Guinevere Beck, a customer from the bookstore where he worked. When the relationship with Beck sours – to put it mildly – and old demons comes back to haunt him, Joe moves to Los Angeles, changes his name to Will, and falls in Love with local heiress Love Quinn. His tumultuous time in L.A. came with a ton of surprises, pone of which the fact that Joe and Love have more in common than Joe first thought.

Premise: How do a couple of sociopaths like Joe and Love feel about being expectant parents and other conventional norms – especially when they have an exponentially messy series of murders to cover up ?

Review: The end of season two could have a happy ending for Joe, who now lives in the suburbs, he’s married to Love – who knows about his dark past and has one of her own – and they are also expecting their first child together. It could have been a series finale, if one is ok with Joe getting away with what he’s done but in the last seconds of the episodes it becomes apparent that Joe will never change. At first, I did not know how this move into suburbia was going to impact the show but F**k! it made it very interesting. It was nerve-racking, hot, sad and exciting at the same time.

Their new location brought a slew of new and interesting characters, like Joe and Love they have a darker side to them. They might not be as twisted as the Quinn-Goldberg couple but they all have their secrets and present a different persona to the rest of the world. I guess the tag line “Living their best lies” has more meaning than I first thought. Throughout the season, old and new characters have quite the interesting arc. The series focus on different types of relationships, how they work, and makes a good case for working on what you have t make it as good as you’d like it to be instead of constantly looking for better and more elsewhere.

For a moment things even looked like they were going to follow the same pattern with Joe’s newest obsession but they didn’t, it was worse. Having similar personalities didn’t seem to make Love and Joe the best dynamic duo that I thought they would be but a good team. Seeing a couple of sociopaths trying to act normal despite their dark impulses slipping through was fun. I also enjoyed seeing Joe explore new things and loved seeing him struggle through them. The moments with the therapist were gold, filled with dark humor like a lot of the season.

However when it comes to Love, the show kind of leaned toward a “Bitches be crazy” trend that I didn’t like, it was even highlighted by Joe’s – hypocritical – inner monologue when it came to Love and his relationship with her. She was the only one working the relationship while Joe was looking for a shiny new thing. Ultimately I don’t think that they were a great match even with their similar past and personalities because they wanted different things.

You S3 was thrilling but there is a formula to the series that is starting to get old. The writers have been good about managing Joe’s impulses, which probably won’t change, but within those parameters there’s still ways to switch it up.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

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A Veiled & Hallowed Eve (Soulbound VII) | Hailey Turner

Releasing: October 1, 2021
Cover Designer: AngstyG, LLC

Available now:

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Death is the last lover you will ever know.

SOA Special Agent Patrick Collins has lived a life full of lies, and it has finally caught up with him. There’s no denying his past any longer, not after giving up the truth to save himself from a murder charge. But truth alone can’t set Patrick free, and time is running out to stop the Dominion Sect from turning his father into a god.

Jonothon de Vere knows survival isn’t a guarantee, but he’s desperate to keep Patrick safe, even as hope slips through his fingers. With the future unknown, Jono will follow Patrick wherever he goes, even to Salem, where a family reunion reveals a bitter secret that was never going to stay buried.

With New York City under control of their god pack, Patrick and Jono must fall back on every alliance they’ve brokered to fill the front lines of a war coming directly to the city streets. The veil is always thinnest on Samhain, and what awaits them on the other side is the stuff of nightmares. For when it tears, all hell will break loose, and the gods will be summoned to face a reckoning the world isn’t ready for.



The stakes have never been higher, failure has never been so deadly, and the Fates have never been kind to heroes. Patrick knows that better than anyone–because everything has a price, every debt always comes due, and it’s finally time for Patrick to pay his. 

How was it?

I dreaded the final installment of the Soulbound series. As much as I wanted to read it, the idea that it’s the last one did not sit well with me. But Hailey Turner managed to get me to a place – after playing way too much with my emotions – where the possibility of not having another book or spin-off, which I still want, might be ok. It might be the denial talking.

Soulbound VII put me through a vast array of emotions from start to finish, there were many gut punches, surprises, and thrills throughout. Some of these emotional gut punches hit harder than I would have expected, this book has more surprises than the seventh book of a series that I’ve re-read several times should have. The action in this last entry is also astounding and very cinematic. The mythology and lore is here in full forces, and once again they are very well used, the avengers have assembled and they’re kicking ass. But as thrilling as the book is, there’s a healthy amount of fear that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

The series as a whole is well-crafted, the details that went into it is inspiring. Not only the use of myths and lores from around the world is impressive but the growth of the characters from installment to installment is also amazing.

As for the audiobook, Garry Furlong once again does an amazing job but I couldn’t enjoy it as much, because it’s harder for me now to pretend the story hasn’t ended. For some reason there’s a finality in his performance throughout that I don’t like to hear. I want at least a spin-off, another story set in this world. At this point I’d settle for one that doesn’t even have to feature any of the characters in Soulbound. Anyway I guess now that my collection is complete, I have all the ebooks and audiobooks, and I’ll try to refrain on getting the physical copies until I can get them signed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Soulbound VII is available on Amazon, Audible, and Kindle Unlimited.

Previous book in the series