Snowden

Snowden

Rating: 4.75/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
The NSA’s illegal surveillance techniques are leaked to the public by one of the agency’s employees, Edward Snowden, in the form of thousands of classified documents distributed to the press.

Review:

I went to watch Snowden with someone who was extremely well informed about the subject while I sadly wasn’t and while we had extremely different perspectives going into it, I believe it is safe to say both thought the movie was pretty darn awesome. From the former point of view, it appears some important things were left out, while I kept getting stuck on stuff like how does a guy who did not even finish high school and obviously really wants to make it in Special Forces turn out to be such a genius, only being self-taught.

The fact is the story enthralled me. Even if some things felt cheesy, especially the abuse of light surrounding the main character in key moments, the fact is due to such a strong issue and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s stellar performance (queue choir of angels – yes, I am biased towards this guy, sue me), this was indeed a memorable experience.

I mean, that guy obviously did such a brilliant character study. I cannot get past how he placed his voice. The facial expressions and ticks, the way he held himself, a lovely mixture of a fragile and strong young man with principles literally held me at the edge of my seat sometimes – I had to keep reminding myself to sit back.

Some things did throw me off besides what I mentioned above, such as the way he got the information out (the entire process just seemed oversimplified) – and really every single time he expressed his obviously dangerous points of view.

However, I had a terrific time watching this and I highly recommend it. Makes me want to watch the documentary, to find out what really happened and what is just in the movie.

Youth Without Youth

Youth Without Youth

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A love story wrapped in a mystery. Set in World War II Europe, a professor is changed by a cataclysmic event and explores the mysteries of life.

Review:

What an intriguing movie. It is not a fast-paced one, that’s for sure. It flows like a dream or, at times, a drug-induced hallucination.

When 70 year old Dominic Matei is struck by lightning, instead of dying, he rejuvenates. Not only that but he seems to have gained the ability of never ageing, so we accompany him throughout different times and places, watching him deal with his new abilities while having to make difficult decisions. When he meets Veronica things take an even more bizarre turn.

I was not sure what to make of Dominic. He certainly seemed to handle all the weirdness that was happening to him quite easily and some things did feel like devices to get the movie going in a certain direction, such as the fact that he would find such a nice doctor that would do anything for him and how the heck could he support such a lifestyle through the years if he wanted to remain low key? Where did his money come from, to what extent did he use his powers?

The story became so focused on the supernatural things happening to him and the people chasing him to their own advantage that I failed to see the man behind it all.

The resolution towards the end seemed rushed and nonsensical. The last scene was quite touching, though.

In the end, Youth Without Youth is definitely a thought-provoking movie that stands out from the rest but it is definitely not for everyone’s taste.

The Tone Poet

Title: The Tone Poet

Author: Mark Rickert

Genres: Horror | Paranormal | Thriller

Length: 429 pages | 6994 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

When Cameron suffered a car accident at age 6, he was dead for 4 minutes, during which he experienced something that would forever change him. From then on, the out-worldly music never left him. When an odd stranger comes along promising to relieve him of the nightmares and at the same time unveil a very old mystery, Cameron is seduced into a truly horrifying trial.

Review:

I have to admit I am baffled at how this book has not become a hit by now.

When I read Overture, the book’s prologue, I was immediately enthralled, particularly by the way the author weaved the story into embarrassment which turned to anger which turned to utter disgust and panic.

When he introduces us to Cameron, and then to Holloway, things slow down a bit, but there is this constant eerie feeling following our main character. I was captured by what happened to him and by his duality in wanting to do something but fearing it was wrong, never actually knowing it or at least believing it was worth it.

At the same time we meet other characters, each with their own voices, fears and desires, who all play into the story, insignificant as they may sound at first.

Rickert was masterful in the way he infused a feeling of normality into a place where obviously very wrong things were happening.

It is not a perfect book. I would say it is definitely strongest in the first few chapters.
Some things were a bit repetitive, others fairly predictable and I did struggle with the pace. I think that opening chapter was so damn good it would be nearly impossible for the rest of the book to follow through in the same standard of quality because it really had everything.

Also, I struggled with some of our main character’s decision that didn’t really make sense to me. For instance, I could not understand why he did not just write the Nocturnes in private to purge himself and then burn them, so Bloom couldn’t get them, or why it took him so long to understand how dangerous Bloom was, or why he threw Kalek under the bus by confronting Bloom with what only Kalek could have told him, amongst many others.

Bottom line is there are many authors out there who are inspired by Stephen King but few are able to produce something even remotely close to my favourite author’s stories. Even if some references were a tad too obvious (Carrie, The Shining and ‘Salem’s Lot all come to mind, for example), the fact is I for one have not come across anything that came as close as The Tone Poet.
Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Sep 17th to Sep 21st, 2016

GR Review

Random Chat: YA and NA

What makes a good blurb?

Step up, take a seat, make yourself at home and let’s chat!

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!
I came across this article a few days ago while browsing facebook and it prompted me to post something I have been mulling over for ages now:

Author Claims YA Does Not Exist

It links to the following article: There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel.

I am not sure if any of you have noticed, but I don’t have YA as a book genre in my blog. Quite frankly, the notion still baffles me. I am not even sure if I fully understand it, because I have seen it defined accordingly to the characters age and also to the audience’s age. It seems that the latter prevails, or at the very least a mixture of the two.

While I can understand that it may make books easier to find, defining a book by age categories seems extremely restrictive and I have found that the same formulas get used over and over again.
Ever since the YA genre came out, I cannot seem to find, for instance, a fantasy book I enjoy. Sure, there is New Adult now as well, but I cannot seem to relate to either the writing or the topics in books classified as such. On the other hand, if I pick up a YA book I am usually faced with much of the same teenage dramas, romance and, at times, tantrums.

I thoroughly miss a solid fantasy novel with characters I can relate to and which does not necessarily include romance. Something that presents a new world, one that is unique but makes sense and utterly enthrals me in the story. I cannot seem to find that anymore and I am convinced it has gotten worse since these categories were released to public.

What do you think? Have the YA and NA categories done more good or harm to the book industry, in terms of quality of books, not marketability?
Do you find any of the points I made make sense?
Tell me everything!

The Uninvited

The Uninvited

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
Anna Ivers returns home to her sister Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardized thanks to her cruel stepmother. Her dismay quickly turns to horror when she is visited by ghastly visions of her dead mother.

Review:

The Uninvited is one of those movies where you reach the end and want to go right back to the beginning so you can view things from a different perspective. I have to admit I did not see the ending coming.

I was very surprised by the mystery, development of plot and the outcome, which are clearly its strong points. It was very interesting to see all the characters evolve and understanding where everyone came from, why they acted the way they did.
Also, the imagery and setting could be beautiful and eerie at the same time, which is a must have in horror movies, in my book.

On the other end, as a horror movie it did have its share of clichés, which got a bit cheesy at times. I kept thinking I had seen all that stuff before – the setting, the pacing, the camera plans – and certain scenes looked very rehearsed, the main character was not natural at all. I wish the director had taken those in a different direction, although there was clearly an attempt to tone that factor down while still making them suspenseful and frightening.

In hindsight, not every single thing made sense but I still find this a very entertaining, intriguing movie and I recommend it for fans of the genre.

Ana’s Lair on Facebook and Twitter

Dear all,

I would like to make a quick post to all who follow and keep up with Ana’s Lair.
First of all, thank you very much! I really appreciate that each and every one of you takes the time to visit the blog, especially considering I am not able to invest in it as much as I would like.

I would also like to let you know that Ana’s Lair is linked to Facebook and Twitter, where a post is automatically created when I post here. That’s not new.

However, I have also been making an effort, whenever work and other nuisances allow it, to post interesting tidbits every now and then, from quick thoughts/images to news to quizzes about the themes you usually find in the blog – books for the most part, as well as movies and the occasional TV show. They are basically an expansion of what you see here in the blog and a different way to connect with you.

So I would like to invite you to like the pages, post whenever you feel inclined and please feel free to give suggestions! I would love to engage with you in a different manner so I really hope you will join.

Have a great weekend!

Emissary

Title: Emissary

Author: Chris Rogers

Genres: Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 440 pages | 6290 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

An Emissary from the Szhen race is sent to neuro-couple with the leader of the Earth’s strongest nation, in an attempt to save their people.

Review:

I am quite demanding on books involving alien races because I feel that if they are alien and claim that everything Human is so darn odd because it is so different from what they are then they should come across as completely different. While there was some attempt to do that here, it felt forced, because human terms and analogies kept being used, like becoming a sponge to absorb knowledge or eating crackers by the stream.

As the narrative evolved, I only got glimpses and pieces of the world this emissary came from and although they were incredible creative it all really just sounded like a device to tell a completely different story. It took the entirety of the book for me to realize what Ruell had been telling the whole time and not exactly showing, in my opinion – that the Szhen were once like Humans, that they had evolved into something more, that he was actually quite young. Again, I was told those things but they never really sunk in because it didn’t sound true, for some reason.

The writing put me off as well, as the sentences were unnecessary long and there was quite a lot of info dumping. There were many characters and many subplots. The entire story seemed unnecessary long, quite frankly. It dragged on for quite a while in particular places.
The ending was predictable and I never got to know one thing that had bothered me and that the president actually voiced towards the end but never achieved any resolution.

Emissary was not without interest. The narrative evolved in a fairly interesting manner because one minute we are in space and the next we are at Earth dealing with international crisis and getting to know a cop who suffered great losses in his life. That guy is the anchor to what the reader might consider normal, so he provided a good balance. We are also taken almost around the globe, from North America, to Africa, to South America. The highlights for me were definitely the descriptions of Szhen life and Ruell’s reactions to what surrounded him, even if for a minute everything seemed to have a ‘spicy’ quality to it.

However, I had expected a sci-fi story and was instead presented with a political mystery sprinkled with a touch of sci-fi, where I could not even relate to the characters. I mean, how could the White House staff not only be on first name basis but also a few of them have been close friends with the president? I don’t know, the utter sense of informality did not feel realistic to me and the dialogues felt so stilted. Everyone was so chummy and driven to do and be good.

And our cop guy, everything came to him to easily. There was so much that could have gone wrong, so many new people he came across and depended on that could have turned out to be scum with their own agendas but things just kept flowing for him.

So even though I felt the premise was interesting and there were a few engaging bits, overall it just didn’t convince me or keep me very interesting throughout the experience.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Sep 8th to Sep 16th, 2016
GR Review