Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31, Top Ten Tuesday, All about the visuals

       Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Visit their blog for more details on how to participate. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list on specific topic.

Topic: All about the visuals: Top Ten Favorite Graphic Novels/Comics or Top Ten Favorite Picture Books
       I am not keen on graphic novels and comics, so I've decided to look into movies. The main criteria is: the graphics or work of camera should be unique, outstanding and memorable.

1. Tron: Legacy (2010)
TRON: Legacy turned out to be a very stylish movie. There is not much of a plot, but a simple sci-fi thrill ride, in terms of action, visuals, and unpretentious fun.

2. Sucker Punch (2011)
 "Sucker Punch" is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. The hyper stylized visuals are spectacular and a total delight, but unfortunately they are not enough to make up for an empty plot. Even with all that the film is spectacular.

3. Ying Xiong (Hero) (2002)
 There is nothing as poetic in its simplicity as Hero. It is an incredibly beautiful adaptation of ancient Chinese legend. In the film tells one story from three perspectives and each perspective has a different color and each color has a particular sense in it.

4. What Dreams May Come (1998)
This movie takes you on an amazing journey through heaven and hell. Strong dramatic acting by Robin Williams and stunning visuals for the time make this movie an unforgettable experience. A truly beautiful and imaginative film conveys a very dreamy and colorful world through its spectacular cinematography.

5. Life Of Pi (2012)
 "Life of Pi" isn't just a visual effects movie stuck at sea. There's a compelling story here as well. It is so good to see the result of proper usage of 3D technology and visual effects that make a film unforgettably gorgeous to look at.

6. Sin City (2005)
Sin City is a gloriously stylized world unlike anything you could see before. The visionary quality of the cinematography (black and white with occasional color accents) and the computer-generated effects are without question stunning. Eccentricity is the main theme of the movie.

7. Russian Ark (2002)
 Shot in a single take. The first three attempts were not good, but the fourth was successful. It can sound like a joke: to shoot a movie in one shot, but the footage speaks for itself: brilliantly costumed characters fill the screen, the camera smoothly moves along the rooms of the Hermitage.

8. Lawrence of Arabia of Arabia (1962)
Masterpiece of filmmaking, shot in the 70s, is a superlative cinematic look at the desert. The imagery here is absolutely breathtaking. The wide screen format captures the vast emptiness of the desert.

9. Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
This movie is full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast and fabulous nature footage. Each part has its visual theme: 1 - scenery and picturesque view of the lands; 2 - spectacular battle actions; 3 - all of the above combined with multiplied visual effects and intensity.

10. Avatar (2009)
 This is not a movie; this is a one whole visual effect that has a story in it. Incredibly colorful and diverse world is reviled on the screen that makes us hold breath from excitement.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Midnight Pirates by Ally Kennen

Author: Ally Kennen
Original title:  Midnight Pirates   
Pages: 227
Edition Language: English
Series: no 

Format:  Paperback
Genres: Children, YA, Fiction 

     Midnight pirates is about a young girl Miranda and her two brothers, Jackie aged 10 and Cal aged 17. This story is set by the beach in a hotel named the Dodo. But disaster strikes as the three of them are sent to boarding school while their parents are going to a wedding and they will never see the bankrupt Dodo hotel ever again. Only it doesn't go quite as planned.
      After her younger brother Jackie escapes back to the Dodo hotel Cal and Miranda have no other option but to go after him and miss the train to the school. Shortly after arriving at the hotel they receive guests, but little do they know the guests true identity. Can they save the Dodo? And what are the guest's true colours? 

My thought:
     I was not expecting much from this book as it's not my usual cup of tea. But the book is good: it has a solid plot, suspense, and mystery. Every character has its own voice and opinion. However good it is I still had major issues reading it. From the point of view of a young reader the book is full of rebellion, challenges, adventure and freedom. From an adult point of view I can see only disobedience, disrespect towards adults, danger and irresponsibleness.
      I really disliked the children from the book because of their lies to the parents and their irresponsible behavior. One situation just killed me: when they got new guests, they could not actually provide any basic comfort to the guests (and we must take into consideration that all children were involved into the hotel business from early childhood); the maximum effort was to provide semi-clean linen; the rest is the description of how they enjoyed their freedom and idleness. Really? That’s the idea of 17 year old and 15 year old about hotel management. Then I guess parents made some major mistakes in their upbringing. That all really gets in the way and spoiled the impression, and I tried to like the characters, really... but just could not.
      From the adventure point of view I have no problems (keeping in might again that this is the book for 11-13 year old). Real pirates, danger to kill the environment of the bay, loneliness, fear and courage: everything was in the order and from this perspective I liked the book.
      Altogether, I think it is an easy, exciting read for teenagers, but the characters’ behavior does not set a good example.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Post #1, Fresh Start

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday fun, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Last Week on the Blog
                                           published my historical fiction monthly recommendation
                                           published my December 2016 Whap up
                                           published Top Ten Tuesday list with 10 books that I've got recently

This Week on the Blog
  • On Monday, 30th I review Midnight Pirates by Ally Kennen
  • On Tuesday, 31st I publish Top Ten Tuesday list: All about the visuals
  • On Wednesday, 1st I publish Top 5 Wednesday list
  • On Thursday, 2nd I review The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
  • On Friday, 3rd I review Lou-lan by Yasushi Inoue

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Movie: The Great Wall

Name: The Great Wall
Year: 2016
Director: Yimou Zhang
Cast: Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rating: PG-13
Time: 103 m

Outline of the movie: A mystery (the myth as they put it) centered on the construction of the Great Wall of China.

Not a masterpiece for sure, but yet really enjoyable.

        First of all, this movie does a lot of things right. The costume designs are impressive; the set designs are very convincing, the story worked out well. As a constant film goer I was really impressed with this film. It was entertaining.
         I was not expecting too much from the movie from the start; I did not check the reviews and ratings beforehand and now I really do not understand all the criticism about it.
         The story is about a legend. And it was wonderful to just sit back and let someone tell a really good and captivating story. And they told it beautifully! What I liked the most is a great number of beautiful people. It was a pure delight. The nature shots and battles – everything seems to be balanced and not too overloaded: a little of romance, none of the tear-shedding.  So at this point, I did not care anymore about plot holes or historical inaccuracies, because I came to cinema to see a fantasy, a Chinese legend with monsters and heroes. And there it all was: a war story, filled with elements of the old Chinese culture, surrounded by exceptional warriors, beautiful landscapes and bloodthirsty monsters. 
        The only minus I can point out is that due to the multiple plot twists, the audience never has enough time to get emotionally invested in the characters. Nevertheless, it is not a bad movie. I was entertaining and spectacular.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24, Top Ten Tuesday, Freebie

        Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Visit their blog for more details on how to participate. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list on specific topic.

Topic: Freebie - 10 books that I've got recently

 1. Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg
I've read the book on my Kindle and loved it, so I have to have a hard copy. Though I must confess I really hate the cover of my edition, but I could not wait.

2. The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
I was lingering in a book store and wanted something, but I have not decided what. So this book caught my eyes by a winter cover and the synopsis on the back was kind of describing my mood at that moment, so I took it. Do not know anything about the author and the book itself. Might be a nice surprise.

3. Stories: All-New Tales by Neil Gaiman and a lot of other authors (short story collection).
I was checking what I have in the library for Neil Gaiman and came across this book. I like the cooperation of different known authors, when then publish their short stories together. I will see what came out of this collaboration))

4.  Lou-lan by Yasushi Inoue (short story collection). 
 I was quite surprised when I found quite a good selection of Japanese authors in my local library. I am currently reading this book and loving it, thought I must say it is not an easy read.

5.  The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka: Detective Tales (Lieutenant Boruvka #1) by Josef Škvorecký.  
Again found it in a library and I was intrigued by the idea to get to know more about Czech literature.

6.  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. 
I got this book on vacation because I have heard so much about this book and it seems to be quite popular among the bloggers and book tubers, that I just must read it. I hope it will not let me down.

7.  Holy Cow by David Duchovny. 
I got two books by David this month, one e-book and another audio book. I have no expectation, but still interested in what he might suggest as an author.

8. Bucky F*cking Dent by David Duchovny 

9. Bossypants by Tina Fey. 
 I am trying to read more non-fiction this year and the easiest way to get into it is to read memoirs of famous and funny people.

10.  Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick.
 Same applies here.

December 2016 Wrap up

Read books:
read: 4 / listen: 1 / pages: 1538/ hours listened: 14h53m
1. John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle - Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances p.352 - My review
2. Jo Nesbø - The Phantom 14h53m - My review
3. Cornelia Funke, Inkheart p. 543 - My review
4. Neil Gaiman - Fortunately, the Milk... p.160 - My review
5. John Grisham, The Client p. 483 

Movie watched:
1. Carrie (2013)
2. Westworld  (2016 - )
3. Waking tall  (2004)
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
5. Minions (2015)
6. Coach Carter (2005)
7. Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
Movie re-watched:
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) 

Theater visited:
1. Urna na prazdnem jevisti, Ciniherniclub - My review
2. No Man’s Land, NT LIVE 

Sport watched:
1. Biathlon World Cup 1. Oestersund, SE
    Dec. 3, Women’s 7,5 km Sprint, Men’s 10 km Sprint
    Dec. 4, Women’s 10 km Pursuit, Men’s 12,5 km Pursuit
2. Dec. 4 Liverpool FC-AFC Bournemath 3:4
3. PDC World Darts Championship 15 December 2016–2 January 2017

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Author:  Paula Hawkins
Original title: The Girl on the Train
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Format: audio
Read by: Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
Duration: 11h1m

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My thoughts:
      What would I say? I was wrong not to read the book for such long time. Actually, after all those movies based on books I am afraid to pick up the original. I was not taken nor by the book description neither by the movie trailer. How wrong I was.
       The first thing I liked is the 3 women narration. I actually quite love this technique in books, it refreshes the narration and abrupt changes from one character to another keeps you on edge and helps brush up everything you know about the character. Though, in this book only narration of Rachel and Megan were audible and had character development, Anna’s part was rather weak and not credible.
         This book has been compared to "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn but honestly, I don't see any comparison at all besides from them being written within the same genre. Maybe that is why I liked this book so much. I was impressed what with the author’s creation: Rachael – such a miserable drunk head, broken, without self-esteem, useless and paranoid character.  I liked the inner monologues in her head, the perception of reality and despair and loneliness that surrounded her. It felt so real. The hopelessness she felt all of the time and such a severe desolation worked her in a state that the touch of a stranger made her shiver and her stomach flip. Everyone in this book is terrible, especially a drunk and unstable Rachael and as a result, this book delivers good work in character study and development.
       As for the plot itself, it was not so complicated or mysterious: a murder, attempts to get away with it and one unreliable witness – nothing new. But I liked the way the story was revealed: a big deal of manipulation and mistrust, every page throws suspicion on a different character (I actually was suspecting even Anna); the ending fell a little flat for me though.


Monday, January 23, 2017

January Monthly Recommendations| Historical Fiction

 In this group we will have a monthly theme for book recommendations to share on your BookTube channel or blog. It is pretty relaxed with when you can upload, but we recommend that you upload the first full week of each month. You are welcome to recommend as many books as you want.  We would love for you to share the books you would recommend based on each months topic, no matter how many you have.  For more details visit the a group on Good Reads named Monthly Recommendations. This group was created by Trina from Between Chapters and Kayla Rayne.
 "Historical Fiction"
      Ok, when I have read about the topic for January I was all exited. Yey! It is going to be easy. Past is my favorite topic, so what I should recommend you guys from my favorite books. And then suddenly I had this thought: how we define the book as historical fiction? You would ask: Is it not obvious Julie? A book set in the past. Ok, I would agree with you. Yes when Kerri Maniscalco publishes the book “Stalking Jack the Ripper” in 2016 and it is about Victorian England I totally agree – it is historical fiction, but say when Jane Austin publishes “Pride and Prejudice” for her it is a contemporary novel, yes for us it is in past, but still the novel is not historical. So I tried to find the definition of the notion “historical fiction”, here comes almighty wiki:
Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Historical fiction can be an ambiguous term: frequently it is used as a synonym for describing the historical novel.
Historical novel. Definition:
Definitions differ as to what constitutes a historical novel. On the one hand The Historical Novel Society defines the genre as works "written at least fifty years after the events described", whilst on the other hand critic Sarah Johnson delineates such novels as "set before the middle of the last [20th] century in which the author is writing from research rather than personal experience." Then again Lynda Adamson, in her preface to the bibliographic reference work World Historical Fiction, states that while a "generally accepted definition" for the historical novel is a novel "about a time period at least 25 years before it was written", she also suggests that some people read novels written in the past, like those of Jane Austen (1775–1817), as if they were historical novels.
    So even according to "generally accepted definition" the setting of the book should be at least 25 years prior the publish date, which actually cuts a great amount of books I was thinking about as Jane Austin’s, sister Bronte’s, Remarque’s and so on.

    Still, I have some suggestions left, which fit the pattern. Please check my previous post on historical fiction. 
  1. The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley
  2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  3. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  4. Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
  5. Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell
  6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  8. Aubrey/Maturin Book by Patrick O'Brian
  9. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell