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On the Other Side of the Wall... There Lurks Some Scary Stuff! (The Hollow Places sci-fi/horror book Review)

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Something that every good storyteller knows: a great story doesn’t need flash, sex, an exotic location, a hot hero, or any other element obviously thrown in to grab the audience’s attention… such things are far better used as a dash of pink Himalayan salt, rather than a heavy pour from the navy blue Morton’s canister. (Sure, they can be a lot of fun, but feel pretty one-note in a hurry, if relied upon to be the meat of any story.)No, what a great story actually needs is something the audience can really relate to, on a personal level… and generally, that isn’t anything very fancy, at all.
So let’s just do the whole TL;DR bit right up front, and say that T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places absolutely NAILS some damn fine story-telling, okay?_______________
Kara—a thirtyish (give or take) gal—is as “regular” as they come: she’s been married for several years, but finds herself recently (surprise!) divorced (her ex-hubby’s decision), out of home (she let him keep the house) and struggling (s…

Movie Monday: Because October Needs More Thrills (Black Box movie review)

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2020… welp, it’s a year like no other, innit?
Still, we do the best we can; we… adapt, certainly but also try to maintain as much of a sense of normalcy as possible. (Honestly, it’s that, or give up, and quitting is so not an option.)
Anyway, that's why I've been trying to do some of the “normal” October stuff. (I mean, trick-or-treating, or the adult version—getting costumed up and partying till the wee hours—is totally out of the equation, but the less-people-y stuff? Like, solo, or with my nearest-and-dearest? Still do-able.)
So, in a year that's all about surviving-from-the-safety-of-home? Reading and watching seasonally-chilling fare throughout the month is a no-brainer… which brings me to tonight's watch, Black Box, from the Blumhouse (streaming on Amazon)._______________
A young woman introduces her emotional husband to their newborn daughter… a tender family moment touchingly captured on video.
Fade out—then back in—to the same man (Nolan), several years later... se…

When the Art of Deceit... is Murder (Still Life crime thriller review)

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A waterlogged body, pulled from the ocean by an unsuspecting fisherman. A staid, middle-aged Scottish civil servant, missing for years, finally declared legally dead. The body of an unknown female, now little more than bones, found in a derelict camper van hidden in a recently-deceased woman’s garage. And, a flashy, louche, anti-establishment artist, who committed suicide a decade ago. 
There are a lot of dead people woven throughout Val McDermid’s latest crime thriller, Still Life… but, as always, the much-lauded Scottish mystery maven manages to fashion a terrific tapestry from all the pieces and parts._______________
Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie takes her job as head of a cold cases squad very seriously—even more so, after losing her own life partner a few years earlier, and feeling firsthand how devastating the not knowing can be, until a loved one’s murder is resolved. Still, some cases are gonna be trickier than others, no matter how dedicated the team.
Take this latest on…

A Face in the Fjord, and Spirits in the Snow.... (The Nesting thriller Review)

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A troubled young woman—fresh from trying (and failing) to end it all—finds new life with a grieving family that’s still trying to come to terms with their own sorrow after the loss of their young matriarch, in the picturesque wilds of rural Norway… that’s the bare-bones premise of C.J. Cooke’s latest thriller, The Nesting.
Better, though, to add that it’s a gothic horror, eco-thriller, psychological suspense, and supernatural fairy tale, by turns… lest you’re tempted to write it off as a sappy romance (which it most definitely is not)._______________
Lexi Ellis hasn’t had what you’d call a great life, but things have gotten progressively worse, of late, and—on the heels of a botched suicide attempt—having her boyfriend of several years suddenly decide to end things is one more straw than she can handle.
No, make that almost one more straw; the last straw is that he also expects her—now jobless and still recovering mentally and physically—to also move out of his apartment… within the week

Detecting in Amsterdam: a Case of Synchronicity Led to My Recent Binge Watches ("TV Tuesday")

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Synchronicity: an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated.
Soooooo… pretty sure it wasn’t because I did some search for “cool shows set in Amsterdam” (because I definitely didn’t), but the fact remains, nontheless, that I found myself watching, back-to-back, two different series set… in Amsterdam. 
Anywho, I'm going with "synchronicity is totally a thing", mkay? (The fact that there's also a totally-legit The Police tie-in, here? I mean, just kill me now.)_______________
The series about the quasi-retired French detective, on holiday with his wife in Amsterdam? Yeah, Baptiste was a no-brainer for me, because I found both seasons of The Missing riveting (My review of the first of that series’ two seasons can be found here.)

Baptiste, let me say, is definitely best appreciated after watching both seasons of The Missing, because—while it certainly stands on its own, just fine—there’s so much added dept…

It Turns Out, Watching Movies is a Little Bit Different in 2020... (Movie Monday)

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Maybe it was because the last movie I streamed was so very, very grim—which, under normal circumstances, I don’t find to be a bad thing, but… oh hey, 2020, you’re still here?!?—or perhaps it was just a mood, but I can’t deny getting loads more pleasure from the fluffy YA piece I watched last night, than from the much-lauded, layered work (from a brilliant writer, no less!) a couple nights before._______________
After being wowed by Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things a couple of weeks ago, I was really looking forward to his first directorial piece (which somehow flew under my radar back when), 2008’s Synecdoche, New York. It seemed like a safe bet: Kaufman always writes these thought-provoking, mind-bending scripts that are unquestionably his; he’d gathered an impressive cast (including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, along with Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Michelle Williams, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan, and Dianne Wiest); and the premise of a going-nowhere…

Nowhere to Run... Trapped by an Avalanche with a Murderer (One by One thriller REVIEW)

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Plenty of things sound like less fun than a week-long team-building trip with co-workers--root canals, watching paint dry, etc--but as far as “having-a-great-time-and-getting-away-from-work-crap” goes, it ranks way down the list.Of course, when you picture one of those corporate morale-boosting retreats, it’s likely full of “trust-fall” games, goofy role-playing exercises, and rah-rah positivity talks. What probably never, ever, crosses your mind is a weekend in which the object is—literally— just stay alive… which is precisely what one company trip becomes, in Ruth Ware’s latest thriller, One by One._______________
A week at a small, boutique ski resort high in the French Alps, with a few work meetings penciled in around the hours allocated for skiing, snowboarding, and partying aprés ski in the cozy, private lodge (which also boasts both a live-in housekeeper and chef, to ensure all needs are met)…  sounds like a perfect bonding-and-work jaunt for an up-and coming British high-tech o…