The Blind

Title: The Blind

Author: A.F. Brady

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 400 pages | Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row Books

Publishing Date: September 26th, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Sam Jones is the most reputed clinician at the mental health facility where she works.
She finds herself trying to help a mysterious patient who will give nothing away about himself while dealing with her personal issues and struggling to keep them a secret from everyone in her life.

Review:

I grabbed this one because it had two of my favourite themes – mental illnesses and a mystery. However, it’s been a while since I was this disappointed in a book.

For the biggest part, The Blind irked me so much. I just found the main character so annoying. Every situation, including the mysterious patient, seemed to be there as an excuse for her to whine more and descend even further to a rotten place. I couldn’t take much more of her wanting to stab people in the eye or feeling jealous that no one was petting her hair and then going back to her abusive boyfriend. At times I was so close to quitting. I had to pick up another book, which is really uncommon for me.

I appreciated the whole looking perfect to everyone else but suffering so much inside but there really wasn’t much to hold on to, just little clues every once in a while that Samantha never bother to even comment on, let alone try to investigate. I mean, if I found a note with my address and directions for how to get there, I would be seriously worried. All Sam does is comment that the handwriting is not her own.

Towards the end, the chapters got really intriguing, and the pace definitely picked up. I wanted to know more. But ultimately the ending was predictable and it did not make up for the disappointment of the rest of the book.

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 28th to Oct 1stth, 2017
GR Review

Narcissism for Beginners

Title: Narcissism for Beginners

Author: Martine McDonagh

Genres: Contemporary | Humour

Length: 208 pages | 2807 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Random House UK

Publishing Date: March 9th, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

When Sonny turns 21 years old he embarks on a journey to find out more about his origins.
As he goes through 5 letters his guardian wrote to him, while making disturbing discoveries on his own, Sonny’s world takes quite a turn.

Review:

Narcissism for Beginners is the story of a breezy young man who’s been through a lot and is about to go through a lot more emotional turmoil. It addresses difficult subjects such as different kinds of dependency – emotional and substance, to name the most frequent, and Sonny’s sarcastic tone helps cope with that.

I enjoyed this book. The writing is at times too rambling for my taste but at the same time it’s part of its charm. The breaks of pace when Sonny would abruptly change what he was narrated kept me interested.

The book is written in second person singular, as a letter addressed to Sonny’s mother, and despite the somber tone the ending was redeeming enough.

I recommend it, but you probably need to have a stomach to deal with heavy stuff.

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 25th to Sep 28th, 2017
GR Review

Mr Make Believe

Title: Mr Make Believe

Author: Beezy Marsh

Genres: Contemporary | Humour | Romance

Length: 344 pages | 4366 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Ipso Books

Publishing Date: Apr 25th, 2017

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

Marnie Marlin gave up her career as a journalist to take care of her children and her home. However, her life is not fulfilling and her increasingly distant husband isn’t helping her already low self-esteem.
To help cope, Marnie creates a blog where she takes on the role of Mrs Make Believe. What started out as a hobby will bring huge changes to her life.

Review:

Mr Make Believe is told in a very light way and I am sure pretty much any woman will relate to at least some of it.

It was entertaining but at times I was annoyed by Marnie and how her children played such a small part in her life. She actually sounded much younger, not in her young fourties, and all the ‘but he/she doesn’t like me’ and the ‘woe me I am so fat’ sort of thoughts really got old after a while.

The writing confused me at times, as it was difficult to tell how time elapsed. Also, some expressions were quite repetitive (particularly toned or perfect figures) and several things just not believable at all.

You will probably enjoy Mr Make Believe if you are looking for a light read that addresses the possibility of your fantasies coming true.

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 May 30th to Jun 4th, 2017
GR Review

A Man Called Ove

En man som heter Ove

Rating: 4.75/5

From IMDB:
Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave, has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors.

Review:

This was my first experience with Swedish cinema and I have to say I am so pleasantly surprised. I absolutely loved this film.

It portrays the life of 59-year-old Ove as he gives up on life; his routine is interspersed with scenes of his past that tell us how he has become the man he is today. I have to say the performances were right on top. The two actors that portrayed this character were right on. I can see how the young Ove became the older one and why he resents everything and everyone – the light of his life, who made him the way he is, has gone.

I thought this would be more depressing than it actually was. Yes, there were moments when I got teary-eyed because you can’t help but relate to this guy and everything he is and has been through. However, I laughed out loud in more than one occasion and so did other folks in the audience. At the same time it is so tender and touching. Ove struggles all the way but his new neighbours, particularly the mom with her perpetual sunny smile on her face who is not afraid to rant right back at him cannot help but snap his out of his bad humour and make Ove open up to life.

The photography is beautiful. The pace is as well. I thought there would be slow moments but there was no such thing. The scenes are every-day stuff for the most part but the interactions of Ove with other characters or animals or even his monologues at his wife’s grave always have an element or two to perk things up, usually Ove’s humour.

There were only a couple of things I thought were overdone, like the bureaucratic character that seemed too vilified and a few other occasions that were exacerbated for comical value. However even despite that I cannot recommend this movie enough. It really is brilliant, a work of art. I am sure there is something in it that everyone can relate to.

20th Century Women

20th Century Women

Rating: 4.9/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
The story of three women who explore love and freedom in Southern California during the late 1970s.

Review:

My goodness, what a lovely movie! I adored pretty much every single part of it. It made me laugh out loud on several occasions, grow sad, shocked, amazed and nostalgic for a time I didn’t even live. Wow, just wow.

All the actors were absolutely wonderful, in my opinion. All the characters were very different, they had their own voices and struggles and I enjoy getting to know each and every one, even when I could not sympathise with their actions. Everyone is just so real, so genuine.

The camera work was very good as well and the visual effects were appropriate and entrancing. That scene of the ocean… I could almost smell the saltiness in the air.

This movie made me crave for a time when things were so much simpler and reminded me how we take happiness, family and friends for granted until we no longer have those things and are left to contemplate them from afar. It could be a depressing movie, but it is not. I hope you will watch it and that it will have you go through that kaleidoscope of emotions.

Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann

Premise:

From IMDB:
A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO’s life coach.

Review:

Maybe I went into this with too high expectations but the fact is I was not sold on the direction the film took. I had expected there would be slow moments but not that many and not for such lengths at a time. I had also expected more interaction between father and daughter.

Still, Toni Erdmann is very special. It’s amazing to what great lengths a father will go to help his daughter. I could say there were many unexpected scenes but the fact is, to me, the entire movie was unexpected. Both characters never seemed to do what I thought they would and that was a great feeling.

From that opening scene I could see this would be a special movie if only I could stand the slow pace. Even though at the time I kept wondering how long till it was over, the more I think about it the more I like it and think about all the issues subtly approached there.

All performances were terrific, even the supporting ones. I am still in awe at the amount of realities portrayed in this movie and how genuine they felt. They spanned cultures, social status, age, etc, etc. And then there are all the other issues addressed, besides the obvious one of whether we are happy. There’s work, family and friends relationships; the struggle of a woman to be seen as equal in her workplace; casual relationships, never getting attached; globalisation, outsourcing and everything it entails; what you are willing to do to achieve your goals and so, so much more. It is such a deep movie.

I really wish it had been further edited, though. It would have had more of an impact, at least on me.

I am not going to rate this one as I feel I would be doing it a disservice.

Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic

Rating: 4.9/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Review:

Well, I have to say this one blew me away.

Other than the opening scene where the CGI seemed fake and one scene where what happened was logistically impossible, there isn’t much I can point out that was wrong with this movie. I am still unsure whether the kids, apart from Bo who still lived the first years of his life in society, were even registered but maybe I missed that or it just wasn’t important to the story.

When I first read the blurb for some reason I figured this was a movie featuring wild children who pretty much only knew how to survive and whose parents maybe taught them how to read. Instead, I am presented to a father who does his best to, yes, teach them how to survive in the wild, but also educate them and get them to think for themselves. These children are cunning and some of their conversations left me dumbfounded.

The movie evolves with a series of emotionally packed scenes, particularly following their mother’s illness and subsequent death. Some events are full of teenage angst and you can definitely see the dynamics changing, with Ben keeping to his beliefs while being open to to something different as long as it is properly argumented.

Everyone is just plain brilliant in their performances, both main and supporting actors. Viggo Mortensen is amazing. You can clearly see this father’s struggle to come to terms with the fact that what he believed was best for his children may not actually be so.

Whoever cast these children – kudos. I was particularly awestruck with the eldest and the two youngest, but in general everyone was so darn expressive. I cannot even conceive how such young children could possibly memorize such lines while maintaining natural facial and body expressions. My chin actually dropped during some scenes.

I cannot really say much more without spoiling the movie for you. Captain Fantastic is simply amazing. It is shocking, at times even macabre, enthralling, thought-provoking and beautiful. You really need to watch it as soon as possible, don’t let this one slip by!

Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.

Review:

The opening scene of this movie had me laughing out loud and there were a couple of them which had the same effect. Most of all however I felt extremely sad for Florence’s character, who was just so very clueless. I guess it comes from a personal place as I know what it feels to be mocked and not realizing it at the time but yes it did upset me after a point.

On the other hand, the performances were superb. There are several interesting characters, all multifaceted and very well constructed, that were a joy to discover. Never was any information ever imposing at all, it was given progressively and at key moments and so it flowed so well, which is not an easy thing to achieve in a movie, especially these days. So yes, the screen writing definitely gets a big applause from me.

St Claire Bayfield was probably my favourite character. He is so devoted to Florence and yet he is still a man, so he has other needs. He struggles to find a balance between the two and that struggle shone through Grant’s performance – one of his best, I must say, certainly the best I have seen of him to date. He didn’t even have to say anything for me to feel for him.

Little Simon Helberg… Well, he blew me away. I had only known his work on The Big Bang Theory and never thought he was capable of pulling off something like this. His effeminate ways paired with his wavering between curiosity, maintaining composure and even his dignity all served to provide numerous humorous moments. He made me laugh most of anyone and he also made me care. That soft side of him truly moved me and provided a much-needed balance to the character and the entire story.

And Meryl Streep. Well. Not much to say about such an amazing actress. Stellar performance from beginning to end. Again, her story was told in the most organic, natural manner. There was never any info dumping and for that I was extremely grateful.

Florence Foster Jenkins is an interesting movie with a varied set of characters. It got quite a bit tiring for me at some points, there was some language that definitely did not seem fitting of 1944, and I honestly grew tired of Florence’s singing. It was one of those things that I felt were ok do it once or twice as it is funny, but do it much more than that it is just annoying and, again, sad.

I definitely recommend you watch it but for sure be prepared to both laugh and become quite emotional.

La Vita è Bella

La Vita è Bella

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Review:

No, this is not the most historically faithful movie. Yes, there is no way most of this stuff could ever happen. It is still one of the most beautiful, inspirational movies I have ever seen. Throughout it I was never sure whether to be incredibly sad or amused and ended up being both at the same time, which left me an emotional wreck.

I have to admit I was put off in the first part of the movie because that machine-gun drivel style of talking gets tiring. Trying to keep up made my head hurt, but it is part of Guido’s charm, talking so much you can’t tell it’s all nonsense cause you don’t have enough time to process it all. And seeing all the seemingly pointless scenes come together in such funny sequences was very amusing.

Guido’s imagination had no end and that is where the strength of the movie lies. The lengths to which he goes to keep his son safe and rid him of all that is going on…
The kid was such a star, so expressive…
And the ending made me cry like a baby.

There really isn’t much I can say without spoiling the movie but I definitely want to make it clear this is one of those movies you need to watch at least once in your lifetime.

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.

The Red Mohawk

Title: The Red Mohawk

Author: Anonymous

Genres: Horror | Humour | Thriller

Length: 244 pages | 4484 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

In the town of B Movie Hell everyone seems to know each other and are not keen on talking to strangers, even when a psychopath is running around killing the locals.
It’s up to an alcoholic ‘ghost’ of an agent and an FBI detective to figure out what is going on and catch the murderous serial killer.

Review:

There are some books where I just cannot seem to appreciate the humour or irony behind the story and this started out as one of them. I especially distrusted a book written by “Anonymous”. Seriously? Couldn’t come up with an alias at all?

The writing wasn’t bad. There were a few very repetitive descriptions, such as Candy’s figure and how some men’s hands were like shovels.

At first, each chapter introduces different characters. From then on, some of them intertwine while some other poor folks get killed. Hey, it’s a horror story, no big spoiler there.
There are new characters being introduced even after halfway past the book. I have to admit at some point I no longer knew who was who.

I don’t believe everyone would appreciate this book, especially because it seems to address and explore in a very graphic way every rotten trait a person could have. There was a lot of pretty detailed violence, sexual acts, degrading of women, bribery and just about anything morally wrong.
In my case, there were times when I was not sure whether I should be shocked, horrified or laugh because the fact is there was dimension to the story inside the humorous bit and it appeals to those things everyone knows they should not find funny but do. I guess it depends on how lightly you are able to take horror.

I for one tried to tune out the gruesome stuff (although it still got to me) and focus on the mystery and therefore managed to enjoy it to some extent. Not an easy job, I tell ya. Usually, I take my stories very seriously, particularly horror. But since this is obviously a play on bad horror – starting with the town name, B Movie Hell -, I tried to tone it down and cut the characters’ “quirks” and events some slack. From then on, I began enjoying it more.

That said, there were a lot of plot holes. There was an entire subplot that was not nearly explored enough. There were things I wanted explained, such as how the guy from the asylum (Touretto?) escaped or how Mellencamp got his hands on Baby in the first place or how everyone in town knew where ‘Baby’ came from.

It is definitely not a book for everyone, including several of my followers most definitely.
You’ll enjoy it if you don’t mind the things I mentioned above.
As for me… It was, well, refreshing. I had never read anything quite like 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 Jan 17 to Jan 21, 2016
GR Review