A Monster Calls Review

Stories are wild creatures,” the monster said. “When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?

Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls


This book, as so many do, tugs at the heartstrings. But what makes A Monster Calls unique is in the way and capacity in which this is done. I wouldn’t call this book eloquent in the way that Ness strings words together to make them beautiful, but in its dealing with rough and tough topics so expertly. The mastery here is in the simplicity. He writes as if speaking to a child and it’s what makes the story all the more haunting and brilliant.

Conor, our protagonist, has been suffering from dreadful nightmares. It’s something so horrible he can’t bare to speak about it. As the book progresses, it becomes quite evident to the reader just what this monster he’s having nightmares about might be. Another monster comes to visit him because he’s having such a rough time of it. Conor’s mother is battling cancer, his loathsome grandmother comes to help out, the bullies at school love to pick on him, and his estranged father makes everything all the more complicated.

What makes the appearance of these monsters so scary is their realness. The yew tree monster continuously proves himself to be real. And you don’t find out just how real the monster Conor is terrified of is until the end. The yew tree monster shows its significance throughout this short novel in many ways. Ultimately, he’s there to bring justice, though his form of justice is quite unorthodox.

This book feels a lot like Wonder, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. And it’s probably just as great, so I don’t know why it’s not as widely known. Even so, A Monster Calls is being turned into a film that looks perfectly deep, dark, and mysterious. I’m excited to watch the yew tree monster scenes and see the magnitude of the character brought to life on screen.


Honeybee Doughnuts Review

Half Dozen from Honeybee Doughnuts

Half Dozen from Honeybee DoughnutsThere has been an eruption of doughnuteries in Miami; people are just crazy for them. Although Mojo Donuts has been around for years in Broward County, the love has spread recently with the opening of The Salty Donut and various other bakeries carrying their own doughnut specialties. And now one more. Wednesday, May 11th was the grand opening of Honeybee Doughnuts in South Miami and I was beyond excited to find a doughnut shop so close to home.

Just beyond Sunset and on Red Road you’ll find a cute little shop, decorated by a geometric honeycomb design. It’s exactly what you’d want and expect as far as décor goes for a bakery—or in this case a doughnut shop. Like The Salty Donut, Honeybee stays open till they run out of doughnuts.

On opening day, Honeybee Doughnuts greeted us with complimentary tea (which I believe was actually an Arnold Palmer) and strawberry infused water. Every doughnut is priced the same at $2.50. And as far as gourmet doughnuts go, that price seems to be the market average—maybe even slightly under. We got a half dozen ($15), each one vastly different from the other in some ways but not as much in other ways.

The most colorful of the bunch was the Fred Flinstone, topped with real Fruity Pebbles. And the most delicious was probably the strawberry with raspberry syrup topping. But these were just toppings to the doughnut, and didn’t quite feel like they made the doughnut wholly new. The dough of these doughnuts was truly great. Each was soft and maintained great consistency, but they all felt relatively the same.

The different flavor toppings were not all that powerful, making it a step up from Dunkin Donuts but not quite on level with The Salty Donut. I hope that as this business grows, they will introduce more types of doughnuts to their repertoire. Bring out some filled doughnuts or doughnut holes! The real challenge Honeybee Doughnuts will have is in attracting The Salty Donut crowd.

All in all, Honeybee Doughnuts is located in a very convenient location for us—within walking distance and in an area that seems to be growing, introducing cool new stores and restaurants every day. We’ll visit again, but not often enough to gain us five pounds.

Fortitude Review

fortitudeFortitude is one of those shows where, once you’ve watched it, you try to get everyone you know to watch it too if only to watch their faces twist in horror. Our Scottish friend Alyssia showed me, I showed Diana, we showed half our friends. It’s become a creepy, polar bear infested fixture in our lives.

I’ll avoid spoiling too many details – like most mystery or horror shows, knowing the surprises ahead of time takes away half of the fun. But if you haven’t watched this, (and considering it’s a series on Sky Atlantic, you probably haven’t) go find it now. We’ll save you some trouble, it’s free to watch if you have Amazon Prime. It’s like a darker, creepier version of Twin Peaks – a murder occurs in a town filled with secrets, and as the secrets collapse into each other the mysteries deepen, the gore and horror begins. Oh, and in the opening shot someone’s eaten by a polar bear. What’s not to love?

The entirety of the show takes place in the fictional town of Fortitude. It’s the globe’s northernmost town and it’s populated not by locals, but by a mix of people from different countries. Even so, the characters seem to take on Fortitude’s own strange nationality. Everyone seems characterized by their own unique brand of loneliness, uniting them as Fortitude’s population. Though throughout the show, they don’t seem all that united. While the audience is attempting to solve the mystery—dark, murderous, and potentially supernatural—at the show’s core, the struggles between characters—unrelated to the mystery—remind us of their humanity.

Fortitude was filmed in Iceland, a country we’ve been desperate to visit, but we probably won’t be venturing out to Fortitude… Still, one of the show’s strengths is the filming itself. It’s filled with beautiful shots across desolate landscapes of ice and snow, in which our cast seem oh so small. While they might seem small, giants populate this cast. Michael Gambon and Stanley Tucci are both regulars on Fortitude, showcasing the best of their acting chops.

Don’t marathon it if you’re easily creeped out. The gore and guts start out light, but get increasingly grosser as the series progresses. All in all, it’s a show that kept us on our toes through every new reveal. It could easily have been self-contained in this one series, but a little birdy told us there will be another soon to come. And we can say that without a doubt, we’ll be watching it.

Get to Know Us

We’re new to the blogging thing so we thought you might want to get a sense of who we are before you commit to reading our stuff and being our friends. There should totally be screening processes before you start friendships right?

Let us know if we have the same favorites in the comments!

Diana’s Favorites

5 Films

  1. American Beauty
  2. It Happened One Night
  3. The Usual Suspects
  4. Before Sunrise
  5. The One I Love

5 Books

  1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  2. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  3. Dawn by Octavia Butler
  4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

5 TV Shows

  1. Gilmore Girls
  2. Twin Peaks
  3. Doctor Who
  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  5. Twilight Zone

5 Places

  1. Barcelona, Spain
  2. Canterbury, England
  3. Boston, Massachusetts
  4. Oxford, England
  5. Seattle, Washington

David’s Favorites

5 TV Shows

  1. Firefly
  2. Pushing Daisies
  3. Community
  4. ATLA
  5. Doctor Who

5 Board Games

  1. Cosmic Encounters
  2. Castles of Mad King Ludwig
  3. Ticket to Ride
  4. Sushi Go
  5. Love Letter

5 Webcomics

  1. Gunnerkrigg Court
  2. Stand Still Stay Silent
  3. Johnny Wander
  4. xkcd
  5. Bad Machinery

5 Books

  1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  4. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  5. Sabriel by Garth Nix