Alice Through the Looking Glass

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to help the Mad Hatter.

Review:

This is not really related to the book the movie borrows its title from, but it was a fast-paced, entertaining adventure and I got a couple of good laughs through it.

It is very interesting to see the past of Alice in Wonderland’s characters..

Though some things didn’t make much sense (like how Alice changed to her last outfit and the ending – where did they get the funding to do that if they seem to be broke?), I have to say I mostly enjoyed it.

I would say the weak spot is the plot and all the running around felt pretty pointless at times and even bored me.
However, it is such a fast-paced and colourful that you don’t stop to think about it much.

The visual effects are stunning as usual and I felt taken a way but I do feel the characters had shone more and the plot had had a bit more depth and oomph.

The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit.

Review:

I know it sounds a bit sick but when I heard a 65 year old man died watching this movie I just knew I had to watch it. It’s been so long since I got a good scare.

The setting in England was very refreshing. I loved everything about it. The family seemed very real.

The sets were amazing as well, particularly the house. It was so decrepit. I really felt for that poor family, living in those conditions.

As far as I am concerned, most of the performances were spot on. The girl playing Janet was pretty amazing at times.

And I did get good scares, although I could always see them coming.

Regarding the shortcomings, I would say the pacing was a bit off, the ending was somewhat rushed and convenient, the romance between the two investigators was a bit overdone – american style, I suppose – and some dialogues were just not good at all. Example:

– (…) entities like to kick you when you’re down.
– Well, that hardly seems fair.

It was just silly and I never really felt like that mother truly feared for her daughter’s sanity or safety.

The Conjuring 2 is still amongst the best horror movies I have watched lately, so I recommend it.

The Versatile Blogger Award

I am late, oh so late!

 

I have not done one of these in ages!
I don’t know her name but thank you for nominating me, Ajoobacat!
You should definitely visit her blog, her reviews are concise and very informative and have helped me on several occasions to pick out my next reads.

Rules:

Show the award on your blog
Thank the person that has nominated you
Share 7 different facts about yourself
Nominate 15 blogs of your choice
Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

Seven facts about me:

1. I am extremely awkward in social settings but I thoroughly enjoy one on one interactions.

2. For the past few months I have woken up at 5ish am regardless of what time I went to bed and just cannot get back to sleep.

3. Some of my happiest moments are spent around nature, just feeling/listening/smelling it or reading as well.

4. Reading is definitely my #1 hobby but it has been increasingly difficult to find a book that sweeps me off my feet.

5. I don’t watch movies or shows on my computer.

6. For several months now I have switched from morning coffee to around 4 cups of tea and have found it makes me feel better and perks me up just as much, not to mention I get the liquids I need and never get otherwise.

7. I cannot recall ever buying an e-book.

15 Blogs I Nominate:

I am picking awesome people who take time to check out my posts and whose blogs I thoroughly enjoy.
So, in no particular order:

1. Sarah @ http://www.sjhigbee.com/

2. Emma @ https://emmathebooklover.wordpress.com/

3. Kim @ https://cadburypom.wordpress.com/

4. Rosie @ https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/

5. Koeur @ https://koeur.wordpress.com/

6. Paul @ https://photopaulm.com/

7. Nicola @ https://rustandstardustblog.com/

8. Diana @ https://mythsofthemirror.com/

9. Cathy @ https://746books.com/

10. Angela @ https://booksandopinions.com/

11. Loreen @ https://coffeeandcatsblog.wordpress.com/

12. Daniela @ https://bookstogetlostin.wordpress.com/

13. Geoffrey @ https://highteadreams.com/

14. ? @ https://abooknation.wordpress.com/

15. ? @ https://wearevoracious.wordpress.com/

Blood, Ink & Fire

Title: Blood, Ink & Fire

Author: Ashley Mansour

Genres: Dystopia | Fantasy | Romance | Science Fiction

Length: 464 pages | 6224 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.25/5

Premise:

Noelle is different from everyone else in Fell. In a place where words are forbidden and no one even seeks them anymore, Noelle feels an urge towards them.
When she makes the decision of following that calling, can the ones she loves be safe? What will she find? About herself, about the world?

Review:

I understand many people loved this book so I will try to keep my review as objective as possible.

Blood, Ink & Fire starts out as your average dystopia: a society where individuals are deprived of freedom and has this incredible AI whose purpose is more than meets the eye. Quickly you get the feeling that this is an ode to Fahrenheit and Shakespear and book loving in general.

However, as a work of fiction, to me, it failed to deliver. Suspension of disbelief is taken to an extreme, dialogues and monologues are cringe-worthy and the narrative just doesn’t flow, being obvious at time and not delivering resolution at others.

For example, we don’t even know why people are ‘immersed’ on their 17th birthday. Why 17? Because it is convenient that our main character is that old when all the juicy stuff starts happening?

And the bad guys. They are supposed to be almighty and have full control and all imaginable resources to be anywhere, anytime they want and yet they only show up at convenient times?

Even the names are ridiculous. Why Fell? Other than it is one letter apart from Hell? Obvious much?
And Boolos as short for book lovers? Really?
Forgetsum?
Need I go on?

There is a lot of info dumping and yet no actual world setting. When do these people eat? How can Noelle drive? How can she run for ages, did she get any exercise in her previous life that would justify it? And it goes on and on.

Also, once again, romance completely overpowers the story from a point on. And it doesn’t even make sense. This Ledger guy sounds much too human from the getgo, for someone or something who is not supposed to be one of us. I didn’t even get what he was supposed to be.
There’s a lot of feels and yet I go through the book completely unable to connect to any of the characters, least of all the main one, who everyone seems to love, Lord knows why.

The book had potential. I thought the relationship between Noelle and John was cute, different, and not just because he was blind or they didn’t make romantic moves. Although the fact that they called each other by their initials never made any sense to me but I guess it was supposed to make their relationship more special. Then it just went downhill for me. Things started happening for the sake of happening and I was, quite honestly, bored.

There were, as I said, things left unexplained and others that made no sense like what happened to the twin who deserted the Risers, or Noelle finding herself in a room, alone, with a note explaining that the room only locks from the inside and she can use the key to let herself out. Wha…? Is this a whodunnit book? Nope, it goes completely unnoticed.

There were several interesting concepts, especially the importance of books and the dangers of this new age where people no longer seem to resort to them to obtain information or pleasure – supported by quotes of books at the beginning of the novel whose authors have studied this phenomenon and sadly I have to say that was about my favourite part, the inspiration. The development of the premise just left me disappointed beyond words.

Disappointing does not even begin to describe the ridiculous ending. Is it supposed to be surprising or shocking? It’s not. It’s just ridiculous.
If you are going to introduce a different concept you need to make it work, not just be lazy in the end. You have this guy who isn’t a guy but sort of the memory of books. He has a mission. She has a mission. Find 9 books which will somehow lead to the location of this special, amazing place, although it is never clear what is supposed to be done when it is found. HOW?? How on Earth was that supposed to happen? How does it work? She reads all 9 volumes and something clicks? Are there hidden clues in each of the volume? How??
Also, for a thing that is supposed to be special, there were numerous opportunities to shake the reader with the wonderful act of reading and yet I only even remotely felt it once that I recall and even that lacked a good amount of emotion.

So even though most of this book waived between a 2 and a 3, by the end it just went down to 1. What a total waste of time.

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 Jun 19 to Jun 24, 2016
GR Review

Now You See Me 2

Now You See Me 2

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
The Four Horsemen resurface and are forcibly recruited by a tech genius to pull off their most impossible heist yet.

Review:

Well that was entertaining!

There were quite a few loopholes, some corny stuff particularly in the villain department, no way most of that stuff could ever have happened, and I have to admit the long sequences worn me out, but the movie still held my attention through and through.

The ending spoiled it a bit for me and I felt dizzy with everything that went on, but it was still a very enjoyable experience. Cannot beat the first one, but still pretty darn amazing.

Apt Pupil

Apt Pupil

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A boy blackmails his neighbour after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.

Review:

After reading the novella the book was based on, I just had to watch the movie.
As usual, I immediately noticed the differences. The opening scene shows a quiet, brooding Todd Bowden while the first few pages of the story portray an eerily cheery blond, blue eyed boy with a constant pearly white smile pasted on his face, which in my opinion made the character all the more creepy.

The opening credits are quite well done. The soundtrack adds to the chill factor,as it does in other moments throughout the movie.
We move on to the first interaction between Todd and Dussander and I was just as unimpressed. Todd just did not freak me out one bit and he felt much too normal, unlike on the book, where you could tell something was wrong. Dussander took Todd’s blackmail much too easily as well, so another disappointment.

I know movie adaptations are just that, adaptations, and that it is nearly if not utterly impossible to reproduce the feeling of a written story. However, the entire dynamic between those two was just too different. Dussander is never in a fragile state. There is no subtle psychological pressure and absolute control on Todd’s side, he just sounds like a curious, spoiled brat.
In the book the tension builds because the entire ordeal is much too difficult for Dussander in the beginning and as it evolves. In the movie he just goes on to tell about the things that supposedly tormented him. The fact is Dussander makes Todd in the movie, while in the book the boy has a growth of his own and plenty to work out for himself while trying to deal with something that is way over his head.

The insertion of an attempt at romance and a best friend for Todd are both unnecessary and don’t add anything positive to the story in my opinion, particularly the friend, as the relationship and consequences that it entails are supposed to be a private matter for Todd and Dussander. On the other hand, the dialogues between the two main characters almost get dull at times. I just did not feel shocked or very entertained, not nearly as much as with the book.

It gets much better towards the end and I am sure that had I not read the written story I would have enjoyed the movie much better.
My recommendation is that, if you want to watch it, don’t read the story first. It is highly disturbing, it might even give you nightmares. The movie… not so much.

M Is for Magic

Title: M Is for Magic

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genres: Children | Fantasy | Paranormal | Quickies

Length: 272 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

A collection of 11 short stories by Neil Gaiman.

Review:

I had read 5 of these stories in other Gaiman books but even those were a pleasure to reread.
Gaiman has such a way with words. At times I was a bit frustrated because a lot was left unsaid and I need resolution to feel fully satisfied but I can admit it is part of the magic. They are short stories, little snippets of magical worlds spun from a mind I cannot help but admire.

Admitedly, I did not find all of them enjoyable. Sunbird in particular seemed to stretch on and on forever and ever and it did actually bore me, although the ending was surprising.

My favourite tales were The Price, Chivalry and October in the Chair – even if this last one had me on my toes to know what happened next.

These stories will please young folks as well as older ones and they make for a wondrous, quick read, so I definitely recommend the book.

Read from Jun 15th to Jun 19th, 2016

GR Review

Different Seasons

Title: Different Seasons

Author: Stephen King

Genres: Adventure | Fantasy | Horror | Mystery | Thriller

Length: 508 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Four novellas by Stephen King which have his touch everywhere but cannot be classified as horror, per se.

Review:

Who knew a trip to the 60s and 70s could be so much fun?

The first story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, was a reread for me and I had watched the movie a few times as well.
Even though I knew what was going to happen, King’s prose is so engaging I was immediately enthralled.
Putting Red as the narrator, making Dufresne almost a legend as he put it, was just brilliant. In the middle of describing how life in prison works and what it does to a man, we hear about how one man’s unwavering hope leads to a jaw-dropping ending and inspires everyone around him. This sort of narrative usually bores me to no end but this story reminds me why I love King’s work so much. I just could not look away and was interested in everything that happened.
All the characters had their own voice and there were hints here and there of what would happen and the way the story was wrapped up was beautiful.

I had not read the other three stories, nor watched the movies they were based on.

Apt Pupil caught me completely by surprise. The second I read about the main character, this apparently innocent, all-american 13-year-old boy who will not stop smiling, I was freaked out. Once I found out his macabre fascination, that feeling intensified. As the narrative advances and we watch him grow up, his life intertwined with the one of the man who calls himself Arthur Denke, I was the one who was fascinated and could not stop reading. The way the relationship between those two developed and the devolving of each of the characters reached a conclusion that left me wanting but was nonetheless fitting. It was a deeply disturbing, entertaining tale.

The Body is a coming of age story about 4 thirteen going on fourteen-year-old boys who discover the location of a dead body and journey on their way to find it. This adventure will make them grow in all sorts of ways.
I wasn’t as committed to this story as the others, probably because I was impatient, as there was this premise of kids finding a dead body of a boy their own age and they never seem to get to it already!
Also, I felt it rambled a bit, particularly when it concerned the narrator being an author. It’s not the first time King does this – inserting himself into the story somewhat – and it irked me that the guy kept mentioning that he was a big shot writer who made a lot of money, even addressing the person reading the story as gentle reader.
I enjoyed the story quite a lot, but there didn’t seem to be much ‘juice’ to it. It is an introspective story that makes you wonder about all sorts of things, although it did not make me feel as King’s fiction usually does. Obviously that is the point of these stories, they are different, and this one was very touching but those two things did hinder my enjoyment.

The Breathing Method comes the closest to typical King and it reminded me of a novel, I think by Peter Straub, which is probably why the story was dedicated to him.
The protagonist is in his 70s and is a very real character. There were little hints here and there about this mysterious club but I did not see the ending coming and I did not mind it one bit that it was left open to one’s imagination.
There is much more in between and even if I felt the prose was bit heavy at times the fact is the story was daunting, gruesome and even a bit beautiful.

In all four stories, we get references to other King’s work, some a bit of these stories themselves, which is something I always found intriguing and enthralling, as it is like it is all part of one big world. I highly recommend this collection, especially if you want to read something by Stephen King that is not the genre he was typed as.

Read from June 11th to June 15th, 2016

GR Review