Doubt

Doubt

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A Catholic school principal questions a priest’s ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student.

Review:

Doubt was at the same time brilliant and exasperating.

There isn’t much I can say about this movie without spoiling it. I believe I have never watched a movie that featured such ambiguous dialogues, which for me was at the same time genius and nerve-wrecking.
It was a very powerful movie and there were scenes when the characters never said a word but you could feel a range of emotions coming through the screen. At times, the tension was palpable.

I am still trying to process it all. It is a solid film with impressive interpretations, a controversial main theme but so much richer than that, as it confronts the spectator with several serious issues to which you may never get a right or wrong answer.

In the midst of it all, I think I found Viola Davis’ character the most shocking and emotionally packed. Both Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman blew me away with their performances throughout the entire film, and the way they played their characters was brilliant, particularly Streep’s. Sister Aloysius sure goes through a troubling development.
However, Davis as the altar boy’s mother, in perhaps five minutes in the entire movie, was something completely out of any league, so disturbing and heartbreaking, and she was so freaking good.

I hope you will watch Doubt as it really is an excellent movie, but please know you may be disappointed in the ending. I know I was. I understand the conclusion and it was quite powerful in its own way, but I am still sad about it. I think with time I will learn to move past it and fully appreciate it for its brilliance.

The Pestilence

Title: The Pestilence

Author: Faisal Ansari

Genres: Dystopia | Fantasy | Paranormal | Religion | Science Fiction

Length: 269 pages | 4736 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

When a mysterious electrical phenomenon occurs, a young man finds that he gained abilities which may help other people. Another man also gains a mysterious gift.
And now… The Pestilence is coming.

Review:

When I first began reading The Pestilence I had a bit of trouble immediately placing the story in space and time. I don’t think I had ever read a book placed in the Middle East (shame on me, I know), but I thought the characters sounded oddly American to me. And then I saw miles being mentioned while action took place in London, Paris and Palestine and it bugged me. Mistake perhaps, as the lack in punctuation when addressing a person and other few minor ones.

Then I figured out that action took place in modern-day and my impression was very good. For a time I actually wondered if I was reading fiction because it totally sounded like something that could be happening nowadays. I never thought it would be possible to make a fantasy story this contemporary – or vice versa. So one minute everything is all so realistic and then boom, a light phenomenon occurs and everything changes.

The narrative develops as a countdown to an even called The Pestilence, interspersed with interviews with BBC’s correspondent in the Middle East, as well as other information obtained in a very mysterious way – calls, emails, etc and even comments from the general public to the media reports, which brought yet more realism to the narrative.

I was a bit confused at times because the story would jump back and forth in time. Most times, it did not take me long to readjust and it gave sense to what was previously told. On the other hand, some days seemed to last a long time while I had the sense some others were skipped altogether, so I did have a bit of difficulty keeping track of time.

Still, most of the time The Pestilence was a fast paced thriller and I kept wanting to know what came next. There were a couple of occasions when I was a bit ticked off, particularly when a video of a certain event was mentioned at least three times, every single time described as if it were the first but I was always interested in seeing how the story would pan out and the suspense kept me on edge. The writing really was quite good.

Make no mistake, this novel approaches a lot of religious stuff, even though several characters are not religious, particularly the main one. If you cannot deal with it, don’t bother to pick the book up.
If you can, you should, because it is much more than that. I truly enjoyed the way some events developed and despite thinking there were many characters I enjoyed meeting them and though most were useful to the story in some way or the other.

I just did not know what to make of some of them and wished they had been developed better. Also, I was unsure of the way they dealt with the situation. In such a globalized age, where everything is exposed, and these events immediately were, I thought for sure they would attract more immediate attacks and/or government and private security institutions in a heartbeat. Not to mention the main religions would most definitely have a say. It was like everything was global but at the same it wasn’t, know what I mean?

At the very least they would want to stick the guy in a lab and perform all sorts of tests on him. But, again, the story is very Americanized, and we see a character telling everyone that in this time and place he would have to go willingly to have those tests done. Seriously? In the Middle East? I don’t know.

So then we meet the other guy, the philanthropist, whose agenda is never clear until the end. His purpose seems noble, although many disagree with them. How he deals with their disagreement is a clue to what comes later but I was still mindblown and to be honest a bit unsatisfied.
The ending was simply much too abrupt and not knowing what the heck was up with a couple of characters bugged the heck out of me. I did not know this would be book one of a series but still, I wish I had had more closure.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the novel. I just didn’t relate to the characters much and did not understand why they would react the way they did. I still can’t get over the absence of any reference to Mariam’s affair or the brother that Samuel brought back from the dead telling the family to end his life because of God had wanted to give him a second chance he would have. I was like… Seriously? Well then go back to your grave, you, you… Bah.

In the end, I enjoyed The Pestilence but found it lacking in some aspects, enough not to give it 5 stars. However, I still recommend it and I know it will stay with me for a while.
I would definitely read the next ones in the series, if only to know if I would get closure to the aspects I found lacking in this one.

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 Nov 13 to Nov 23, 2015
GR Review

One Last Thing

Title: One Last Thing

Author: Rebecca St. James, Nancy Rue

Genres: Contemporary | Realistic Fiction | Religion

Length: 368 pages | 4394 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

When Tara finds out her perfect fiancée is not so perfect after all, she needs to decide what to do. She is torn between standing by him and protecting herself and the ones she loves. His secret would destroy everyone’s world. Can she stay true to her promise to him that she won’t tell?

Review:

When I first started reading this book I was pretty confused. How were these two getting married? She asked stuff like Don’t you have any normal milk in here? while opening his fridge and practically swooned when looking into his eyes.
There seemed to constantly be something along the lines of:

An oatmeal-colored crumb escaped and rested on his lower lip. Lucky crumb.

This is a girl who has been dating this guy for three years. Come on.

So then I found out they were not living together, mainly because of Seth’s Christian values. I guess it made a bit of sense but did not really justify that sort of thing, in my book.
The main character kept telling me that she had been in love with this guy since she was 15 (so ten years prior to narrative) and yet I could not tell that she knew him at all or what exactly she loved about him besides his great looks.

I guess one of the main issues I had with this book was all the insta-love, particularly when Tara was the object of affection. I never understood why anyone fell for each other, either in the beginning or later on.

I actually enjoyed reading the novel when new things or people arrived to Tara’s life and secrets were being uncovered.
I have to admit I had already anticipated most of the revelations, particularly the major ones, and I never really connected much with the main character as you can probably tell by now, although I could see where her struggles came from.
It’s just that she came across as this self-loathing, rich but supposed to be normal, just a cutiepie girl. She is just plain perfect and has great manners and values all the great things in her life. She also has very perfect, understanding, modest parents and even if her mother was the queen of denial she always had great intentions at heart.

So a lot of the time I was reading about Tara calling herself names and then later on someone patting her on the back saying there there don’t feel that way. I suppose it is very realistic in the way that people who are struggling through something which is not even their fault may feel guilty, but I really have this beef with perfect characters.

On the other hand, Seth’s parents were portrayed as unnecessarily evil in my opinion, each in his own way – mother just plain aggressive and father more manipulative. They felt like caricatures to me and obvious alliances were formed from the get-go.
I was sad to see there was no redemption for either character in the end. I would have appreciated some growth.

Alas, the story developed into one of self-empowerment and respect, of valuing true friendships and not being afraid to be happy and also the true meaning of having God in one’s life and how the way He operates is not obvious.
As I mentioned, I did appreciate the mystery aspect. Everytime a new revelation was made, even if I had already predicted it, I felt compelled to keep reading, to see what happened next and which decisions the characters made.

In the end, it was mostly the perfection aspect and the few drama scenes/clichés that hindered my enjoyment. I gotta tell ya, there were some pretty lame lines.

The man’s footsteps echoed in the alley as he came lightly down the steps. They paused near me. I died several deaths.

Eurgh. The main character plainly irritated me and this is a case where I think different voices would have contributed to a stronger narrative.
Also, I did not really get the closure I had hoped for in the end.

The love triangle with Ike seemed beyond forced and, again, insta-love. It’s like one minute Tara is nothing more than a very efficient worker to him and the next she could be the mother of his children. What?? I have to give kudos to the author that they saved till fairly late in the book but still it was simply ridiculous and nonsensical.
I also never got what the deal with Evelyn was, what exactly she saw that would make her hate her brother that much.

Ultimately, the book had a good message and I still enjoyed reading 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 Sep 29 to Oct 02, 2015
GR Review

Ensina-nos a rezar (Guia catecismo, #2º ano)

Título: Ensina-nos a rezar (Guia catecismo, #2º ano)

Autor: Fundação Secretariado Nacional de Educação Cristã

Género: Religion

Duração: 396 páginas

Fonte: Igreja

Formato: Brochura

Classificação: 3.5/5

 

Crítica:

Este guia contém textos muito interessantes para apoio aos catequistas, se bem que bastante longos, e infelizmente nem sempre tive tempo para os ler.

As propostas para as catequeses também são interessantes, alguns textos mesmo muito bonitos, mas regra geral foi-nos impossível reproduzir tudo numa catequese. As crianças querem participar e então o tempo vai passando… Por vezes é muito difícil escolher o que transmitir.

Gostaria de ter visto mais actividades. Ainda são pequenos, e quando falamos muito é natural que se distraiam.

Um bom guia, o material de apoio no site também ajuda.

Lido de 28 de Setembro de 2014 a 8 de Junho de 2015
Crítica no GoodReads