Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Friday, March 05, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Big Year  (PG): A quiet, low-key movie about bird enthusiasts trying to see the most different bird species in a single year. It's not hilarious (although it seems like many of the reviews online hoped for 100 laughs per minute), but it's not really trying to be. We watched this because Rebecca had just read and enjoyed the source book.   Final Grade :  B     7 Wonders: Duel : This is our favourite two-player game at the moment. The instruction manual reads like an awful translation, where the writer tries to avoid confusion by overexplaining things but just ends up making it ...
  2. Wednesday, February 24, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Azul : We purchased this two player game based on our enjoyment of Patchwork. You compete to get tiles and gain points for deploying those tiles in different patterns. It's fun and easy to pick up in spite of the length of the rulebook, but it never really feels like you're in control of your fate. It feels impossible to plan more than a couple moves ahead, and some portions of the gameboard feel useless other than as a holding pen for discarded tiles. We'll try it a few more times to see if it clicks, but it's not our favourite.   Final Grade :  C+     The Expanse, Season Five : ...
  3. Friday, February 19, 2021:
    Review Day: A Summoning of Demons by Cate Glass / Carol Berg   There are no major spoilers in this review.       A Conjuring of Assassins  is the second book in the Chimera series by Carol Berg, writing under the pen name, Cate Glass. (I also  reviewed  Book One,  An Illusion of Thieves  last year). The author delivers a satisfying, self-contained story that can be appreciated on its own, but doesn't push the overall series forward in a significant way.    A Summoning of Demons  is the final book in the Chimera trilogy by Carol Berg, writing under the pen name, Cate Glass. (I also reviewed  An Illusion of Thieves  and  A Conjuring of Assassions ). I enjoyed every aspect of this book (the pac...
  4. Friday, February 05, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Six : The last season of Schitt's Creek goes out on top, with a positive, understated ending. The whole series is worth watching even if the first couple seasons lack momentum. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Mystery Road : This movie about an aboriginal detective solving a murder in the Australian Outback feels simultaneously familiar and muted. All the beats are there, but there's no intensity or suspense to anything that happens. There are so many dialogue-less driving scenes that I had PTSD flashbacks to  Broken Flowers  and the whole ...
  5. Friday, January 08, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Five : Another quickly-watched season with a good balance of awkward and heartfelt humor. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm  (R): The majority of this movie is a retread of the first with less reason for existence -- while there are a few laugh out loud one-liners here and there, most of the humor feels obligatory and the targets seem too easy. It's also no longer clear who's in on the shtick which reduces the shock value. The wrap-up and final reveal is good though, just barely making the rest of the movie worth watching. F...
  6. Friday, December 18, 2020:
    Top Reviews of 2020  Here are the experiences I gave the highest ratings to in 2020. Go discover something new!    Television Shows       John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch  (A) (Netflix)    Money Heist, Part Three and Four  (B+, A-) (Netflix)    Parks and Recreation, Quarantine Episode  (A) (YouTube)    Dead to Me, Season Two  (A) (Netflix)    Dark, Season Three  (B+) (Netflix)    Middleditch and Schwartz, Season One  (B+) (Netflix)    The Good Place, Season Three  (A) (Netflix)      Movies       Parasite  (B+)  &nb...
  7. Friday, December 04, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Four : A pleasant enough season, although I'm sick of the Moira character who I feel should have gained way more self-awareness after three seasons. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     The Much Much How How and I  by Cosmo Sheldrake:  Come Along  came up on one of my Amazon stations and took me down the rabbit hole of this aurally unique album. It's a mix of whimsical lyrics, wind orchestrations, and soundscapes like the ones I might have tried to write with MIDI as an undergrad.   Final Grade :  B+    ...
  8. Friday, November 20, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Rising Tied  by Fort Minor: I purchased this album on the strength of the single,  High Road . There are a few good hooks throughout but as is often the case with these impulse buys, none of the songs were as strong as the one I already liked. Most of the other songs fall into the "white rapper complaining about how hard life is" category, which gets old very quickly unless you're The Lab Rats.   Final Grade :  B-     Paper Mario: The Origami King : I need to accept the fact that the Paper Mario series will never again be as good as  The Thousand Year Door ...
  9. Wednesday, November 04, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Two : The second season is still pretty shallow (Moira in particular feels overused and one-note), but it starts to show tiny signs of growth. The season finale is warmly pleasant. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Schitt's Creek, Season Three : This season works very well because the characters are finally allowed to evolve past the "fish out of water" cliches that held the first two seasons back. I enjoyed it and finished it quickly.   Final Grade :  B     Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine : Th...
  10. Friday, October 23, 2020:
    Review Day: Long Light by Paige L. Christie   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Long Light  is Book Three of the four-book series,  Legacies of Arnan , by Paige L. Christie (I also reviewed  Book One  and  Book Two ). This story decisively belongs to Kilras, who was easily my favourite supporting character in the previous books. We learn (in a mostly sequential manner) of his growth from a child in a specific village to the empathetic caravan master that eventually befriends Cleod.   It would be too easy to dismiss it as "just a prequel" (in spite of the vexing fact that Book Three ends without any closure about the climax of Book Two) -- Kilras' journeys across Arnan also serve...
  11. Friday, October 16, 2020:
    Review Day: Wing Wind by Paige L. Christie   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Wing Wind  is Book Two of the four-book series,  Legacies of Arnan , by Paige L. Christie (I also reviewed  Book One ). I enjoyed the first book for its uplifting themes, well-developed relationships, and effective use of time jumps.    Wing Wind  continues to evolve the childhood friends, Leiel and Cleod, into their 20s and 30s, and thankfully deepens their relationships with wonderful supporting characters like Kilras and Gahree. While the pay-off here is excellent (I immediately started Book Three after completion), the order of how the story is told had me struggling to gain momentum in the first...
  12. Friday, October 09, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season One : I started watching this comedy from Eugene and Dan Levy based on the number of Emmies the final, sixth season received. It's pleasant enough but starts to feel a little one-note by the end. Still, it was over quickly and piqued my interest enough to start the next season. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     I Love Beirut  by Mika: This live fundraising concert actually turned out to be a pre-recorded invitation-link-only concert, but this format allowed for a much more interesting 90 minutes, with plenty of guest performances and videos. A few songs...
  13. Friday, September 25, 2020:
    Review Day: Draigon Weather by Paige L. Christie   There are no major spoilers in this review.       Draigon Weather  is Book One of the four-book series,  Legacies of Arnan , by Paige L. Christie. The story takes place in a land where rare visits from giant Draigons can cause droughts, fires, and unpredictable weather. The fearful populace have learned that the sacrifice of a woman will appease a Draigon for at least a generation. This setup allows the author to expertly turn the "damsel in distress" trope on its ear.   While the plot spans decades, the heart of the story centers on two childhood friends, Leiel and Cleod, and how a singular traumatic event sets them on very different paths. The two points-of-view are eq...
  14. Friday, September 18, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       His Dark Materials, Season One : This is a solid adaptation of Book 1,  The Golden Compass  by Philip Pullman. (I enjoyed the first two books but thought that the 3rd was an imploded mess, not unlike the 3rd Hunger Games book). Great performances and decent CGI keep the story moving, and even Rebecca liked it. The only flaw in the structure of the story was introducing a character from Book 2 early on to get their scenes out of the way -- while it makes sense not to have to backtrack in the next season, nothing truly happened in any of that character's scenes.   Final Grade :  B    &nb...
  15. Friday, September 11, 2020:
    Review Day: Family and Foes by Susan Quilty   There are no major spoilers for either of the first two books in this review.       Family and Foes  is Book Two of the YA Fantasy series,  The Psychic Traveler Society . The story centers on a fifteen-year-old protagonist with typical adolescent woes whose recurring daydreams lead her to a secret society and the possibility of other worlds.   The ending of Book 1 left the main characters in a setting filled with plenty of untapped world-building potential and unresolved conflicts. It felt more like an interim stop than a terminus, so it would have been safe and predictable to pick up right where we left off. Instead, Susan Quilty succeeds at delivering something more am...
  16. Friday, September 04, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       We Need Medicine  by The Fratellis: A solid Fratellis album exactly halfway between the earlier T-shirt shop music and the more mature recent stuff.  Seven Nights Seven Days  is a pretty good representative track.   Final Grade :  B     Codenames Duet : Rebecca and I started playing this game after a summer too chock full of  Patchwork . Two players work together to guess target words on a board (uncovering spies) without accidentally picking the assassins or hitting innocent bystanders. The first couple games will stretch your mind in odd directions, but it's ...
  17. Friday, August 21, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Live at Brooklyn Steel  by Mika: Mika's most recent album is a live collection of older songs. It has great sound mixing -- the audience sound is toned back just enough that you get the live feel without losing the main performance. Mika also sounds just as good as he does on his studio albums.   Final Grade :  B+     Ocean's 13  (PG-13): I watched this movie over 3 treadmill sessions and remember very little about it. It has minimal characterization, minimal heisting, minimal payoff, and minimal reason to care about any of it. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade : ...
  18. Friday, August 14, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Leviathan Wakes  by James S.A. Corey: While the book in isolation is just good, not amazing, it really serves to highlight how strong the TV adaptation,  The Expanse  is. (The book maps to the first one and a half seasons of the show). I had a greater appreciation for the new side characters and plot events from the show that seamlessly fit into the original story. Worth a read if you like the show, but give it some distance so you don't have the show fresh in your mind.   Final Grade :  B-     Angry Cyclist  by the Proclaimers: Amazon Music finally tricked me into a 3-m...
  19. Friday, August 07, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Middleditch and Schwartz, Season One : 3 hour-long episodes of improv comedy from these two actors (Richard Hendricks from Silicon Valley and Jean Ralphio from Parks and Rec) is just about right. The first two are great while the quality of the third drops a bit, but there are some great belly laughs to be found. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Superstore, Season Three : We zoomed through this season quickly and enjoyed it. Everyone is still essentially a caricature, but each one is used sparingly enough that no one turns into a "Cam" of Modern Family.   Fi...
  20. Friday, July 03, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Modern Family, S10 : Most of the cast has been  flanderized  by this tenth season. There are just enough warm family moments or funny jokes to keep it afloat, but it's definitely showing its age.   Final Grade :  C+     Knives Out  (PG-13): This is a great, traditional murder mystery that functions well as a 21st century version of  Clue . The large cast of characters is expertly introduced in a way that the audience can keep up with who's who, and the clues to the murder of a famous author are placed in a way to allow both solving-at-home and red herrings.&n...
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