The house with a clock in its walls (film)

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a 2018 children’s film, based on the book of the same name that was written way back in the 1970s by John Bellairs. It is a beautiful blend of mystery, fantasy and thriller and although not overtly a Halloween story, it is one I can see myself habitually watching each October.

The film stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett and Owen Vaccaro.

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Set in 1955, a 10 year old braniac is sent to live with his estranged uncle after a terrible car accident kills his parents. Unbeknownst to him, Uncle Jonathan is infact a warlock, lives in a magical house and is best friends with his next door neighbour, an extremely powerful witch. The banter between Jack Black and Cate Blanchett made the movie in my opinion.

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Lewis

The house contains a terrible secret. It is a ticking heart hidden within it, put in place by the evil warlock who used to own it, and which is rumoured to bring about the apocalypse in the very near future. Together, the three must teach young Lewis to do magic, uncover the magical clock, and unravel its secrets to save the universe.

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This movie drew a surprising number of adult viewers to the theatre, at least for the showing I attended, and was generally well received. I am not a huge purveyor of children’s films, but I enjoyed it and so did my Mum, who had invited me.

The special effects are well done and there is enough humour in the plot and acting that we were laughing throughout.

* * * *

xx

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Magic in the Wind (Drake Sisters #1)

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“Sarah’s coming home.” Ever since Damon Wilder sought refuge in Sea Haven, he’s heard the same breathless rumor pass the lips of nearly every local in the sleepy coastal town. Even the wind seems to whisper her name – a reverie so powerfully suggestive that it carries the curious Damon to Sarah’s clifftop home, and seeks to shelter him there.

But Damon has not arrived alone. Two men have tracked him to Sea Haven, and into the shadows of Drake House, where Sarah hides her own secrets. And danger- as well as a desire more urgent than either has ever known- is just a whisper away…

—                         —                         —

The Drake Sisters series is one that I have read many, many times in the past. It is one of my favourite series ever but I have never shared my love for these books on this blog. I have started re-reading the books this summer to try and get out of this book slump I feel stuck in, and now I remember just why I loved these books so much. They are so FUNNY!

I literally LOL when reading the Drakes. The interactions between them and Jonas are hilarious. 

Sarah is the oldest sister. Her story is told in the book Magic in the Wind. It is a novella, something I have always regretted. Her story is also included at the start of Sea Storm, which contains book four in this series as well.

I never really liked Sarah all that much, nor did I warm to her fiance, Damon. Sarah is the oldest of the seven magical Drake sisters and as such, is bossy, a bit self-righteous and seemed like a stick in the mud. In re-reading her story though, I rediscovered her generosity, kindness, patience and sense of humour. She is also hugely protective of her family!

We don’t get too much of Damon in this novella – probably due to the word count – but fans of the series learn more in other books.

I think that the reason I never warmed to Sarah is because her book was such a short introduction to the series. It is less than half the word count of Abbey’s book! Poor Sarah really drew the short straw. In addition, I am nothing like Sarah, whereas I can relate much more easily to some of her sisters.

I enjoyed rereading this book and am excited to keep moving through this series. Now the dilemma though – do I keep going right away because I am in the mood to read them, or do I wait until Christmastime, (the second novel in the series is set at Christmas) to continue???

* * * *    (it would have been 5 if it was novel-length!)

xx

All The Breaking Waves (Kerry Lonsdale)

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From the bestselling author of Everything We Keep comes a gripping tale of long-buried secrets, the strength of forgiveness, and the healing power of returning home for good.

After a harrowing accident tore her family apart, Molly Brennan fled from the man she loved and the tragic mistake she made.

Twelve years later, Molly has created a new life for herself and her eight-year-old daughter, Cassie. The art history professor crafts jewelry as unique and weathered as the surf-tumbled sea glass she collects, while raising her daughter in a safe and loving environment—something Molly never had. But when Cassie is plagued by horrific visions and debilitating nightmares, Molly is forced to return to the one place she swore she’d never move back to—home to Pacific Grove.

A riveting exploration of love, secrets, and motherhood, All the Breaking Waves is the poignant story of a woman who discovers she must confront her past, let go of her guilt, and summon everything in her power to save her daughter.

—                         —                         —

I discovered this book through the recommendations that Goodreads makes on its homepage. Something about the cover intrigued me and I am so glad I decided to click on it and read the description.

I loved it! This book has the perfect blend of mystery & intrigue, romance, paranormal, and familial love. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the Drake Sisters series by Christine Feehan, only it is more comprehensive and less focused on a romantic relationship.

For those audio lovers reading this, I fell in love with the narrator (Dara Rosenberg) and would definitely listen to other books she records. Her voice is melodic and she does a great job of performing the different characters. I especially loved her “Nana” voice!

I felt that the plot in All the Breaking Waves is rather predictable but that didn’t bother me at all. I just enjoyed listening to the story unwrap, often lingering in my car a few extra minutes to hear more. In this way, it reminded me a lot of The Alice Network.

* * * * *

xx

Deathless (Anne Malcom)

Deathless is the second book in the Vein Series Chronicles. It is a new vampire romance series with witches, hunters, demons and gods. You can read my review of book one, here.

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My life was never black and white.
Heck, it wasn’t even black, white and gray.
Lines were not drawn between good and evil, and if they were, I would have jumped those suckers for fun.
But now it was simpler. It wasn’t black and white. Or gray. It was only one thing.
Blood.
A crimson-tinted world. That was all I needed.
All I wanted.
Him.
Despite the war raging around us, or the secrets between us, there was nothing simpler than blood.
It didn’t matter that it would be fatal.
After all, it’s the things we’re not undead without that will kill us in the end.

—                         —                         —

This is my second attempt at reading this book. It is a fantastic idea but the prose just kills me. The author tends to be wordy at the best of times, IMHO, and her new heroine Isla is rather prone to going off on tangents. She talks and talks and talks.

At times, I actually lost focus on Isla’s original point and felt that it was taking away from the otherwise excellent story. The blurb I posted above is an excellent example of text from the book. I’m sure that there are tons of people who love this style, but it is not for me.

At times I had to force myself to finish reading the book, or at least skim the current section, because I did want to find out what happened. But I will admit that if the author wasn’t someone I usually like, I would have given up before the 50% mark.

In addition to the run-on sentences and overly wordy style, sometimes sentences just didn’t make sense. Ms. Malcom’s editor/betas did not do her any favours in this instance.

For example:

“Well, I need to think of something that your mind wouldn’t conjure me up doing that will make you sure of that fact” – Pg. 18

“No, it was the benevolent power of nature herself that gifted the first of our kind with gifts. Not the powers of gods but the powers of mortals unrealized. Or maybe forgotten powers the gods had left strewn about the leaves which had settled into the soil when they wandered the earth.” – Pg. 139

“He’ll not want to be hoping to run into me” – Pg. 277

The next book in this series is going to be one I wait and borrow from my local library, rather than purchasing. I still want to know where the series goes but if it is written the same way, I won’t be continuing.

* *

xx

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

So I recently listened to the book Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (aka JK Rowling) but somehow I ended up with the wrong book??

There are technically two books by this name. One is the original screenplay that Rowling wrote for the 2016 film, and the other is a textbook Harry Potter gets for school, which Rowling actually wrote and released to raise money for a charity in the UK.

Confused yet?

I was!

I thought I was going to be listening to the actual screenplay when I downloaded the ebook from my library’s digital catalogue because it did say original screenplay in the description, and the cover art matched that of the screenplay on goodreads.

Despite having almost identical titles, these ARE different books and I ended up listening to the former rather than the latter.

So the text book version of Fantastic Beasts is very interesting, although not quite what I was looking for. The audiobook is only two or three hours in length and I listened to it while driving one day, so I did end up finishing it. At first I thought it was just a cool introduction before the story started but once I was halfway through I decided to continue. It didn’t help that the textbook was read by Eddie Redmayne which made me believe even more that it would eventually evolve into the story told in the film. (He does have a very sonorous voice though).

Needless to say, I am ready for my first day of class for Magizoology!

Here is the official blurb for Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander’s classic compendium of magical creatures, has delighted generations of wizarding readers. With this beautiful, large-scale new edition illustrated in full color, Muggles too will have the chance to discover where the Runespoor lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why shiny objects should always be kept away from the Niffler.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief and J.K. Rowling’s international charity, Lumos, which will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, one can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.

—                         —                         —

A very interesting read for any Potterhead who is desperate to learn more about the magical world of witchcraft and wizardry.

* * * *

xx

Dark Legacy by Christine Feehan

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In a thrilling Carpathian novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan, a woman fights to free herself from the grip of the vampire trying to possess her…
In a beautiful compound hidden away from the world, Emeline Sanchez tries to blunt the pain that has wracked her body ever since her terrifying ordeal in the labyrinth beneath the city—when she was forced to exchange blood with an evil master vampire.

Now, it’s his voice that haunts her…that calls to her in the dark…that never lets her rest. And while the children that she helped to free from his clutches struggle to heal, watched over by their Carpathian protectors, Emeline knows one thing: She must sacrifice herself to keep them all from harm…

—                        —                  —

Dark Legacy is the 27th book in the Dark series by New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan. This series has been hit and miss for me for the last few years – to the point that I no longer buy them but wait until I can borrow the newest from the library – however this book is definitely my favourite from the “modern era” of Carpathian romance.

In many ways, Dark Legacy felt like a fresh breath of air and turned some of the more repetitive plot points around. The author has always blended fantasy and science fiction with romance, but romance was the key driving factor of every story and the genre in which books were categorize. I feel like this story almost turned the corner to have fantasy driving the story rather than the romance. I don’t mean this to be a slight against the author, because there was tons of heat between Dragomir and Emeline, but their relationship was not the driving factor in DL in my opinion.

Some criticism that I have read in the recent past of Feehan is that her books have too much sex in them and not enough plot. This book is certainly more plot heavy than previous works and the couple doesn’t jump into bed until the eleventh chapter. I like how they grew into a couple from first meeting and how the author developed their relationship amid a host of secondary characters. This book didn’t contain the usual isolate couple for half the book format that too many previous books employed and I actually wish that certain secondary characters had a little more interaction with the couple rather than only serving their purpose during battle scenes.

I loved that Dark Legacy gave us regular readers new insight into the Carpathian community as a whole, including differences between how they raise children and how humans raise children. Some readers might take issue with some of these finer points or accuse the author of heavy-handed heroes, but the reality is that they are a different species, and for long-time readers, the idea of these ancients blending into a modern world they have little experience with is ludicrous. It is much easier for the woman to adapt to a new lifestyle when she has only lived twenty or thirty years than a male who has lived 2000. The interaction between the community is important when they are spread out across the world and every Dark book is filled with so many battle scenes.

Another change that I loved is the author spent noticeably less time reminding the reader of previous plot points, characters and rules in this fantasy universe. Feehan usually writes her series so that a reader can pick up any book without necessarily starting with the first in the series. While I can understand the business acumen behind that decision, it is so repetitive for fans to have to recap in every book, especially at this point when most of her series have been on-going for so long. There was very little regurgitation of Carpathian/Vampire rules in Legacy and I hope that this continues.

I fervently hope that they next character to receive a book is Elisabeta, who was introduced in Legacy, I think she offers the best opportunity to read an old-school Carpathian romance with the D/s undertones I usually crave in my romance.

* * * * *

xx

Fire Bound by Christine Feehan

Housekeeping Note

Fire Bound is the fifth book in the Sisters of the Heart series that I have been reviewing on Mackenzie’s Mountain these last two months, in anticipation of the release of the last novel in the series, in March. If you are an avid reader, you might realize I skipped reviewing book 4, Earth Bound. I actually reviewed it when EB was initially released.

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Flame-haired Lissa Piner is a skilled glass blower whose delicate gift conceals a burning inner strength that can destroy as exquisitely as it can create. Commissioned to design chandeliers for a string of luxury hotels, her remarkable skills have taken her to Italy. But Lissa’s real mission there is a secret. For her entire life has been a lie, leading to a chance to avenge a terrible wrong.

Enlisted as her bodyguard is Casimir Prakenskii, a trained assassin living off the grid. In Lissa, he sees a kindred spirit—something unexpected and wicked, mysterious and sensual. But more than desire is about to bring them together: because both of their pasts cry out for revenge. And for two people with this many secrets, this much passion, and this many enemies, someone is bound to get burned.

—                         —                         —

Fire Bound is the first book where all seven Prakenskii brothers make an appearance! Yes, we finally meet the last aloof two, Casimir, and Viktor.

I appreciated having a scene with the brothers we have already met introducing Casimir. Most of the book takes place in Europe, away from the family that readers have grown to love, so it was important to have those brief moments of interaction between secondary characters. The lack of this was one of my problems with Air Bound.

Lissa is one fiery red head. She was always a bit of a mystery in the other books, a holdout. She has a ferocious temper that is only matched by her protective instincts. Her desire to take revenge for her murdered parents AND kill the two powerful Sorbacovs who have targeted her brothers-in-law is the drive behind this story. She decides to sacrifice her life to allow her family members to live happily. Luckily, Casimir is secretly watching her back.

Each of the Prakensii brothers have been used for slightly different tasks. Ilya’s tasks were mostly legitimate as he was loaned out to Interpol. Others worked as assassins, influenced events in foreign nations, or went “deep” undercover (working for years at a time to reach a specific target). Casimir is the master of disguises. He went undercover, mostly for short period of time, in order to complete a kill. Throughout Fire Bound, he assumes many different identities, and Lissa also goes undercover for brief periods.

At first this creeped me out, because they both talk about “becoming” that character and refer to each other by those names, often even in private. But on a re-read, I could see their true selves bleeding through in their interactions with each other and it no longer seemed like a weird sex game.

To be able to survive the turmoil and evil surrounding them, Casimir and Lissa use their telepathic link to open themselves up to each other far earlier than any of the other couples, who were more reluctant to do so. They are also kinkier. Finally a couple who isn’t too prudish to introduce a sex toy or two!

Fire Bound provides a great introduction to the final chapter of the Sister of the Heart series, Bound Together. As many readers already suspected, Viktor met his wife Blythe while undercover five years ago and there is a lot of history between them, which will be explained in the final book, due out in March 2017. It was great to meet him before he becomes the hero though, because we got to experience Viktor through the eyes of his sister-in-law Lissa.

Viktor seems intense and scary and a man apart, even from his own brothers. I cannot wait to read Bound Together in June. Hopefully the first chapter is revealed online soon!

* * * * *

xx