Headline »

this fallen prey

Book Review: THIS FALLEN PREY by Kelley Armstrong

March 19, 2018 – 8:31 pm | 4 Comments

In Kelley Armstrong’s This Fallen Prey, third in the Casey Duncan series (after A Darkness Absolute), the detective and the off-the-grid town of Rockton remain as fascinating as ever.
Rockton, situated in the Canadian Yukon, is …

Read the full story »
Books & writing

Book reviews and more


Advance movie reviews and behind-the-scenes discussions with filmmakers

Q & A

Nerd chats with writers and actors

Random Nerdy Stuff

Ramblings that defy categorization


Recaps and reactions to some of your favorite TV shows

Movies, TV »

Strong Women Taking Charge in TOMB RAIDER & COLLATERAL

March 15, 2018 – 12:52 am | One Comment

Coincidentally, without even thinking about how March is women’s history month, I’ve been mostly reading books and watching movies and TV shows written or directed by women and featuring strong female protagonists.

I’ll write about the books in a separate post, but below are some quick thoughts about Tomb Raider, which opens Friday, and Collateral, the four-episode miniseries available now on Netflix.

Tomb Raider


I went in with very low expectations and was surprised when I didn’t find myself incessantly rolling my eyes. I can’t imagine this was the best project offered to Alicia Vikander after she won an Oscar, but the always riveting actress is the reason Tomb Raider is watchable. And hey, Angelina Jolie also chose to play Lara Croft after she won her Oscar so what do I know?

Vikander gives Lara a welcome vulnerability and grounds the action in this world even as Lara chases artifacts from ethereal realms. Yes, her arms and abs are corded with muscles, but her most impressive features remain her expressive and intelligent eyes, which let us know she can handle herself in tough situations.

The first half of the movie covers how Lara goes from being a broke bike courier to badass treasure hunter, and the second half resembles a video game that really wants to be Raiders of the Lost Ark. It doesn’t come close, but Vikander makes it palatable and you don’t feel stupider afterward.




On paper, it sounds like this miniseries covers too many timely issues: anti-immigration sentiment, racism, fear of terrorism, sexual harassment, PTSD, human trafficking, drugs, and a church’s resistance to gay female vicars.

But somehow Collateral makes it all work without being preachywrapping everything up in a mystery surrounding the assassination of a pizza delivery man. In this way the show reflects real life, where we have to deal with multiple obstacles every day.

As Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie, Carey Mulligan gives the most quietly commanding performance I’ve seen from her. Jeany Spark is haunting as Captain Sandrine Shaw, an intense war veteran who only wants to protect her country but no one protects her when she needs help. And it’s always wonderful to see Nicola Walker (Ruth from Spooks/MI-5), playing a vicar who must choose between her own needs and those of her parish. I was slightly annoyed, though, that her lover, Linh, is Vietnamese but played by an actress (Kae Alexander) who obviously isn’t.

Written by lauded playwright/screenwriter Sir David Hare and directed by S.J. Clarkson, Collateral is a thought-inducing show about the complex times we’re living in, and the compromises that are sometimes made in order to do the right thing.

Book Review: RED CLOCKS by Leni Zumas

February 28, 2018 – 1:20 am | One Comment
red clocks

This review is by contributor Thuy Dinh, coeditor of the literary online magazine Da Mau.
In Leni Zumas’s lyrical yet unsparing novel, red clocks symbolize the identity crises, haunting wombs, ticking time bombs of five female …

Nerdy Special List January 2018

January 12, 2018 – 12:33 am | One Comment
chalk man

Hello, how is everyone? You’re all looking wonderful and that outfit totally suits you.
I hid from the internet for about 3 weeks over the holidays because I wanted to reclaim my mind space. Choose what …

Nerdy Special End-of-Year List 2017

December 8, 2017 – 1:36 am | 4 Comments

While all the TV shows and commercials are depicting snow, here in L.A. it’s raining ash and debris. Happy holidays!
Because a smoke advisory is in effect, I have to stay inside and read. Luckily, cabin fever …

Mini Movie Reviews: Holiday Season 2017

November 26, 2017 – 9:41 pm | 2 Comments
Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 7.13.34 PM

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! My Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing and the only drama occurred onscreen, with my trying to catch up on movies being touted as award contenders. If you’re wondering what …


November 16, 2017 – 3:44 pm | 3 Comments

I’ve been attending lots of award-season screenings and am behind in reviews, so I’ll do some in this format. Below are my quick thoughts on Justice League.
What you want to know up front: I liked …

Nerdy Special List November 2017

November 7, 2017 – 8:50 pm | 4 Comments
woman in camphor trunk

It blows my mind Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks and Christmas is next month—I’m still wearing shorts!—but this is my favorite time of year so I say bring on the holidays. With time off, …

Book Review: THE CHILD FINDER by Rene Denfeld

October 18, 2017 – 8:47 pm | One Comment
child finder

As the titular character in Rene Denfeld’s The Child Finder, Naomi does exactly what her job description says: find missing children. Madison disappeared three years earlier, at the age of five, and her parents have …

Nerdy Special List October 2017

October 6, 2017 – 12:52 am | 2 Comments
we're going to need more wine

October is one of my favorite months. The leaves change colors—well, not in L.A. but back east in pictures from family. The weather is cooler so I don’t have to sweat my back off every …

Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life

September 27, 2017 – 1:11 am | One Comment
text don't call

Being an INFJ (the rarest personality type), I was happy to come across this book. The following review appeared originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Twenty years ago, as illustrator and …

This Is Spinal Crack

September 21, 2017 – 11:12 pm | 2 Comments
Photo: Pexels. I don't take pics of my food. I eat it.

A million years ago, my friend Lauren and I had a conversation about books and snacks and said we’d do it again, though we didn’t know when. Well, we were even lazier than we realized.
But we …

Nerdy Special List September 2017

September 20, 2017 – 12:08 am | 4 Comments
dead woman walking

I’m late getting the list up this month because I ran away. It’s been an exhausting year and I needed a respite from everything, so I went to stay with relatives where there’s no cell service …

Nerdy Special List August 2017

August 7, 2017 – 1:37 am | 7 Comments
the blinds

Summer is almost over and I’m relieved because I’m melting. But I’ve had more excellent reads this summer than I did in the past few years, and many of the standout books are August releases.
Here are our recommendations this …

Theme Tweaker by Unreal