Room

Room

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.

Review:

After finishing the book a mere couple days ago, I went to watch the movie adaptation of Room.

On the whole, I was very pleased with what they did with the story even if, as usual, I prefer the book version. Some things just brought more depth and realism to the characters.

I felt this especially with Jack’s transition to the real world. Whereas in the book the boy felt terrified and in shock for most of the time, in the movie it was almost as if he was just surprised and curious, even if a bit shy. On the other hand, Ma didn’t come across as the huge role model as in the book, even selfish at times, which I found very true to such a character’s development.

Pretty much all the characters were different in one way or the other, which was OK for most except for Old Nick, as I felt he came across as much too humane.

At the end of the day, there are so many little details in the book that make the experience so special and something else entirely. Also, there’s the fact that it is entirely told by Jack. You see everything through his eyes and even when he is describing something completely ordinary you have to stop and figure out what it is because he describes it in such a different way. That can’t really happen in a movie, not to that degree, because you base what you are watching on your own notions. He still narrates it from time to time so you can appreciate it, just not on the same level.

Considering all the difficulties involved in bringing this story to the big screen, I feel it was a job very well done and definitely recommend it, whether you have read the book or not. This is not a theme for the faint-hearted and I felt it was handled with respect by the author and now by the director. I am so happy that the author’s input was taken in so much account when making this movie. You can tell.

The performances were breath-taking. I can’t believe a little boy can act like that, even if he was probably 8 or 9 years old at the time. I have to admit I shed a few tears on more than one occasion.
This is a heart-warming and heartbreaking story all at once, just like the book’s.

In a time when it seems so difficult to go to the movies and find something special to watch, this one is definitely a pearl in the middle of the ocean.

Room

Title: Room

Author: Emma Donoghue

Genres: Contemporary

Length: 433 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.8/5

Premise:

Jack just turned 5 and his whole world is Room. He thinks he knows what is real and what is not but when his mother finally gathers the courage to escape their captor Jack’s entire world is turned upside down.

Review:

This was a very touching book. I believe it’s safe to say that no one can come out of this experience unaffected.

Because it is told in first person by 5 year old Jack, I didn’t just become incredibly depressed reading this or burst to tears at the horrendous situation. Jack tells us about his world: why something is that way, what happens after a certain something, what consequences certain actions have… There is a routine for everything and Jack and he is actually happy because he does not know any other way. It’s not bad, it’s his life. And then everything changes.

The only downside I could find reading this was that I would get tired because there was a lot of rambling and it was a tad repetitive, which totally makes sense because the book is told in Jack’s voice and he is 5 and to be fair it’s part of the book’s charm. I would have to think what was going on because it was told from such a different perspective, which was amazing but a bit overwhelming at times.

The fact is Room is a roller-coaster ride of emotions and even if some things did not feel very realistic (like is it even possible for a mother to be that patient all the time or that Jack would just accept orders without throwing more tantrums) the fact is I wouldn’t know, this is something no human being should ever have to experience and I have to admit the author did a pretty damn good job telling this story.

There is a lot of depth to this book, not only going on Jack’s journey but also trying to figure out the character of Ma and even the rest of the family. There were hints here and there that piqued my interest but I was not bothered that they were not further addressed because the book had a clear voice and it was Jack’s, who I am sure will stay with me for a long time.

I highly recommend this novel and I am looking forward to watching the movie.

Read from Feb 19 to Feb 26, 2016

GR Review

The Forest

The Forest

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A woman goes into Japan’s Suicide Forest to find her twin sister, and confronts supernatural terror.

Review:

I was looking forward to this but as it often happens with Horror, The Forest‘s plot did not grasp me.

The concept of a place drawing on your fears and sadness to make you turn against yourself is interesting but the way it was executed was less than impressive.

The photography in the movie is breathtaking. The forest during the day, the light, the sounds, everything was mesmerizing and for that alone it was worth watching. But, I don’t know, I guess once you’ve seen enough horror movies you’ve seen them all and you need a cool plot to get you going. At least that’s how it was for me.

In this case, I did not even get why the main character’s sister would go off the trail in the middle of a school trip where she is the teacher or even why the trail is magically safe when the rest of the forest is haunted.

The call that made Sara go there was beyond silly. A teacher goes off the trail and is immediately assumed to go on her way to commit suicide because that’s what people do there? Really? No one even searches for her? Her sister has to get on a plane from the other side of the world and do it for them?

I also never got closure regarding Aiden’s character. What was up with that guy? He kept saying he didn’t know Jess but he had her picture on his phone and he did not deny it. He didn’t deny any of Sara’s accusations, just looked at her menacingly. Even when he was dying I was never sure if he was the real deal, having lied to Sara so many times. I mean… An Australian reporter living in Japan without the slightest hint of an Aussie accent? Meh.

As far as horror movies go, it was ok. Just the Japanese touch makes everything scarier. I had just expected more. I wanted to feel terrified and I never quite got there, not even close. All I kept thinking was what the heck do these people eat? They don’t look hungry, dehydrated or that much tired, just scared. The ending was fairly expected and abrupt. My feeling was basically… What, that’s it?

I am quite aware I am just too picky so I still recommend it, especially that you watch it at night.
I would appreciate it if you’d drop a comment if you have watched this movie or plan to!

Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:

Derek and Hansel are lured into modeling again, in Rome, where they find themselves the target of a sinister conspiracy.

Review:

Well, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed in Zoolander 2.

After laughing pretty hard on 1, I had expected scenes that were so stupid they were hilarious and instead ended up with just plain stupid.

It’s one of those movies where the trailer really shows the best scenes.

I liked Benedict Cumberbatch and that’s about it. Who knew that guy could do so much with his eyes? Eh. After all the talk about genderless people his ‘All’ character totally made sense. There were a few similarly interesting sarcastic bits about current events that I could take away.

Besides that, again, extremely disappointing. The story made no sense most of the time. The plot was ridiculous but not in a funny way. The pacing was dreadful. The dialogue was so heavy at times that I actually found myself dozing.

It simply didn’t flow and it pained me to see such good actors in this movie, not to mention all the famous fashion designers.

I do not recommend it.

A Thorn Among the Lilies (Detective Leah Teal series #3)

Title: A Thorn Among the Lilies (Detective Leah Teal series #3)

Author: Michael Hiebert

Genres: Crime | Mystery | Thriller

Length: 304 pages |3400 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

When Leah takes her daughter Caroline to a psychic for her birthday, she is shocked by the revelations she leaves with. It turns out the psychic was right and there is a dangerous killer preying on the small town of Alvin. As the town detective, she will do everything in her power to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Review:

The book begins in 1976 with a shocking and sad event and the chapter hints that it had consequences. So, naturally, as the narrative moves on to 13 years later I kept wondering how these characters related to the previous. When I could not find any obvious connection, I started to go along with the story.

There was something about the writing that put me off. I am not sure if it was the dialogues, particular between the two 13 year olds, or the narrative bits. Maybe it was the procedural work more than anything. I don’t even get how a town that has a population of over 5 thousand people can have a police department consisting of exactly 3 people: the chief, a detective and a cop. It bothered me that Leah would go on dangerous assignments by herself, for instance.

The repercussions Leah’s talk with her son about serial killers had were, at first, cute but then it got tiresome. I was bored chasing those kids around, especially since every other sentence seemed to have a ‘reckon’ or ‘on account’.

Our main character is the detective and it appears this is the third book in a series revolving around her. I didn’t catch much character development. I know that it’s a crime novel and one should probably not expect one but I was still disappointed. I think because it didn’t feel real, none of it. Some things were particularly off, like Carrie’s boyfriend being too perfect or lines such as:

Me and Dewey watched all this from the golden grass that had long ago been painted from green to gold by the winter sun. – Does not seem like something a 13 year old would think, to me.

(…) sounded great to Leah because deep inside, she wanted him to sit and be interviewed wearing that red towel all night – After making up Leah as such a modest woman who still has not gotten over her husband’s death, and having she just showed distaste for the character in question that, just seemed weird, creepy and completely out of character.

“What’s his name?” Her mother hesitated, then said, “Dan. Dan Truitt.” Detective Dan Truitt. Sounds like a made-up name for a crime novel.” – Pet peeve of mine, really dislike it when authors do that.

On top of all that, I got who the killer was almost straight away because of a few clues, or at least I was strongly convinced about it. There were far too many red herrings, on account (see what I did there? :P) of all the ‘investigation’ the kids did plus Leah’s, but it all still seemed to point in that direction. On more than one occasion I knew what was happening before the characters did and that is never a good feeling, in my experience.

The ARC I read needs to be re-edited. Sometimes the voice changed and there was no separation. Also, there was this one character in the beginning, the uncle, who one minute was named Henry and the next he was Hank and then he was back to Henry.

All in all, it was an ok book. I had just expected more.

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 Feb 12th to Feb 18th, 2016
GR Review

The V Girl

Title: The V Girl

Author: Mya Robarts

Genres: Dystopia | Post-apocalyptic | Romance

Length: 363 pages | 6051 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

In a dystopian future, North America is at war. The worst things are legal, including rape. Knowing her future, 18 year old Lila desperately wants to lose her virginity by having consensual sex. In a surprising turn of events, Lila is faced with protecting her family, while her dilemma gnaws at her. When mysterious Aleksey shows up, her inner conflicts only increase.

Review:

I chose this book because the few reviews I read were very encouraging.
Sadly, I felt less satisfied by the experience as it turned out to be more an erotic romance than a dystopia and I was not much of a fan of that.

I believe I have said before that I read books so I can get immersed in a new world. So it was interesting to me how the government justified actions such as rape, for instance, as well as the visitants occupation, not to mention the characters. The chapters were interspersed with quotes from leaders and other important people of the new system and those I found interesting because they sort of brought logic to the madness.

But I did not really get the rest of the world. How Starville did not have running water or electricity but they could make pills and gels to numb feeling in sensitive parts during rape. Why it seemed, at times, that not being a virgin could save Lila from being recruited while at others it struck me as a matter of entirely her preference, as she wanted her first time to be consensual. Then there’s talk about genetically engineered monsters but I never got to hear about any other than her dog.
It particularly annoyed me that I never new what Aleksey was on, as it was clearly said he was taking something. I was also unhappy that some things were mentioned and then later there was no resolution to it, like the story of a Prince living in the mountains (was it linked to Aleksey at all?), why people called him Prince even if it was the meaning of his name, or Clavel’s story I think that was her name? Hard to know cause I could not search on my Kindle, there was an error.

Having an 11-year-old act so much more older to bring out the main character’s innocence even more was not, in my opinion, the best way to do it. It sounds like Lila never had a sexual thought before the age of 18 when action occurs and I just not see how that could be possible.
On the other hand, Azzrael is more knowledgeable of the world in general than our main character. She is more organised, quicker thinking and just more mature at times. She gets things done.

So we have this 11 year old kid giving advice on her 18 year old big sister on how to flirt. Apparently saying hi and smiling is enough and it is a thrilling experience for Lila, despite Azzy’s smug face.
This episode right here sums up their relationship pretty well for me. 11 yo kid has all the answers, 18 yo struggles with emotions.

There’s a lot of repetition. Sometimes entire paragraphs are repeated, so the ARC could use some revising. The sensual scenes were repetitive as well. Lila’s infatuation with Aleksey and vice versa tries to sound natural but fails at it. The fact that she refers to their relationship as insta-love isn’t even cute. While it was interesting to see Aleksey’s layers exposed, the fact is that guy was always in control and as much as others may enjoy the macho attitude whenever he said something along the lines of ‘only I can give you true pleasure’ I cringed at the arrogance and never really got past that. I also wonder what would happen if he lost control. And I could not really see a future for the two. The entire story was a game of cat and mouse and now that Aleksey got his prey I am not sure exactly what ‘feelings’ could arise between the two other than lust and a sense of possessiveness.

I guess the book was too YA for me to enjoy. There’s the usual nasty upper class girl who all men crave giving the protagonist a hard time, who does her best to ‘come of age’ and overcome her fears and, of course, the dreaded love triangle. On the other hand, there were positive things as well, such as Duque’s character development. Rey’s however could have used some more. He was referred to as the Priest but I don’t remember him having any religious stance at all.

It’s not that the story does not have depth or the world was not developed. It’s just that it kept going back to sex and romance and, well, I wanted more.
Still, it addresses and explores important matters within sex and its boundaries, mainly of consent. The questions at the end were a nice touch and made me have an entirely new, more mature perspective of the book.

I am rounding the rating up because I know I am not the target audience and I am sure they will love it.

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 Feb 06 to Feb 11, 2016
GR Review

The Field Trip

Title: The Field Trip

Author: R.A. Andrade

Genres: Adventure | Contemporary | Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 272 pages | 8786 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

Professor Ross Barton plans to go on a research trip to which for some reason everyone calls a field trip. He intends to do serious botanical investigation but after meeting a strange woman his plans radically change.

Review:

When I read the first chapter of The Field Trip I have to admit I was not impressed.
In it, I found out that our main character is:

1) Awkward with women and says he scares them off, though for some reason they seem interested in him. Even his flight instructor practically pimps out his own daughter insisting on what a crush she has on our lovely professor and that he should ask her out;
2) A hero who does not hesitate to put himself in a very perilous situation to save two strangers, actually grinning in the process, although he could die any minute;
3) Often prone to do something completely different than what he intends, which is substantiated by inner monologues of I am going to do this followed by the action of him doing the complete opposite.
4) Has a mother who constantly nags him about being single at 35 and let’s not forget:
5) He has a thing for rescuing strays.

How’s that for info dumping and poor character construction?

The sad part is it did not get much better after that. The writing varied from chunky to pompous to utter nonsense with nothing to back it up.

Unfortunately I cannot say much without spoiling the story. I will say that I never related to the characters as the story developed and felt every major events were simply much too convenient. Our botanic professor is a hero and well, that’s it.
The author tries to make it sound like everything does not come easy for him but, in my opinion, does not succeed.
Most of how the plot developed was predictable and uninteresting.

What a mess. The Men in Black references were not even cute. First of all, what obviously intelligent alien beings send their children on a field trip to a hostile planet? Or at the very least – giving them the benefit of the doubt here – that they did not know whether they were hostile or not? How did Jay get a hold of 500 dollars? How come she says her body was made oversensitive so every single time Ross touched her she became sexually aroused and yet she was the epitomy of a rock even during foreplay? How on Earth did Marsha want anything to do with the Professor when, if she was that attractive, she probably could have gotten someone much better? How do people just accept Ross’ story? How come he has this ability to see into people’s feelings but at key moments it is suddenly forgotten? Not that it matters because all characters he blurted to had such good intentions…

Convenient sums up what I have to say about the events in this story. No proper build up, no meaningful plot twist and just a majorly disappointing development- Clichés left and right in a book that tried too hard to be a sci-fi but only succeeded in being foolish.

I truly am sorry to be so negative but I just feel that this was a waste of my time. It had potential and it was just wasted. Shame, really.
Rating it up because of the owl.

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 Jan 29 to Feb 05, 2016
GR Review