Tuesday, February 28, 2017

On Her Majesty's Secret Service| Diamonds Are Forever

Name: On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Year: 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Cast: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas
Genres: Action, Adventure, Spy Thriller
Language:  English, German, French
Country: UK
Time: 142

George Lazenby steps into the role of James Bond and is sent on his first mission. For help with Draco, he must become very close friends with his daughter, Tracy, and heads off to hunt down Ernst Stavro Blofeld one more time. This takes him to Switzerland, where he must pose as Sir Hilary Bray to find out the secret plan of Blofeld. The facility is covered with Blofeld's guards as well as his hench-woman, Irma Bunt.

My Thoughts: 
      I must confess this is the best and the worst Bond movie of the 70s.
      First of all, the plot is quite logical. There is a step by step development in Bond’s investigation and I would not say it is too absurd, as most of the Bond movies are. Secondly, I like the introduction of bigger amount of action scenes: the skiing chase is awesome and the car race as well, and despite of the lack of technology and computer tricks those action scenes look organic and well balanced. Another strong side of this movie is the romantic part. Definitely it is not that romantic, but I liked this couple: a spoiled only child of a mob boss, with a huge weakness for extreme sports and provoking behavior and Bond, a man with no strings attached, ready for any adventure and risk. I believe this is the only long lasting relationship Bond ever had throughout all movies, apart from the Casino Royal film. So this movie is a kind of mixture of Bond romantic adventures and action story without many plot holes.
        The weakest part for me was the Bond himself. Play by George Lazenby this was not the Bond I am used to. I cannot find any fault with the actor: he has a perfect body, nice face featured, good articulation and voice, but this is not enough! He just did not work out for me and I had that weird impression of something going wrong in the movie. Another absolutely irritating scene for me was the Bond's behavior in the hotel in Switzerland. I mean, you are on a mission, you are engaged, and you are actually attractive enough to have sex any time you wish, why then put everything at a risk just for a couple of nights with some attractive ladies? This is what happening to the Bond every time, so why not to pull yourself together for 3 or 4 days to complete the mission? Do not get it. So I find this behavior in the hotel one of the biggest minuses of the story - it is just absurd and pointless.
     Altogether, I was not impressed by the movie and was longing for Sean Connery to come back, but luckily I saw Diamonds Are Forever a week later and realized that On Her Majesty's Secret Service was not bad at all, which drives me to appreciate the film more.


Name: Diamonds Are Forever 
Year: 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast:  Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray
Genres: Action, Adventure, Spy Thriller
Language: English, German
Country: UK, USA
Time: 120 

      James Bond's mission is to find out who has been smuggling diamonds, which are not re-appearing. He adopts another identity in the form of Peter Franks. He joins up with Tiffany Case, and acts as if he is smuggling the diamonds, but everyone is hungry for these diamonds.

My thoughts:
         Here it comes: this is the worst Bond movie I have seen so far. And if the first movies were stylish and sometimes funny due to technological underdevelopment, this book adaptation caused only irritation.
         First of all, they completely butchered the book plot, which, I must say, is not bad at all. Yes book's plot does not fit in the Bond-save-the-world and spy-that-hunts-only-big-fish concepts, but it is quite a good spy fiction novel without political conspiracy involved. In the book we just follow how Bond fights the diamond smuggler mob and that is enough. It was obviously not enough for a movie.
       Everything starts with the clumsy introduction of a gay killer couple Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd in the beginning, leading to even more clumsy scenes of smuggling the diamonds by Bond and posing himself as a smuggler. The cherry on the top was, however, the revealing of the rich business tycoon identity, who is actually Bond's sworn enemy Blofelds, and his plans for global nuclear supremacy. That was really pathetic. Blofeld's plot is to create a laser satellite using the diamonds, which by now has already been sent into orbit. With the satellite, Blofeld destroys nuclear weapons in China, the Soviet Union and the United States, and thus holds the world as a hostage. Not a bad idea, but poorly executed. So the filmmakers actually tried to put in one movie the full book and 2 additional sub topics: Bond-Blofeld confrontation and nuclear conspiracy. Together with spectacular fights, casino actions, car chases, love scenes the movie is so packed, that it looks ridiculous and not entertaining anymore. As a proof I take one of the last scenes where Bond tries to eliminate Blofeld on an oil platform by changing the cassette containing the satellite control codes. That fails and the problem is solved by destroying the platform with all the bad guys on it. Why not to do it in the first place, if that was the end plan altogether?
         Frankly, I was disappointed and even Sean Connery could not do much to improve the impression; he was like a puppet jumping from scene to scene without much logic and character development.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov

Author: Vladimir Nabokov  
Original title:  Соглядатай 
Pages: 155 
Edition Language: Russian 
Series: no 
Format: Paperback 
Genres: Classics, Russian Literature

        Nabokov's protagonist is a Russian émigré living in prewar Berlin, who commits suicide after being humiliated by a jealous husband, only to suffer even greater indignities in the afterlife.

 My thoughts:     
          This was a short and wonderfully absurd tale of dreams and reality merging. I would confess that I did not understand the book and felt most of the time as wandering in a fog; and only at the end of the story there were some clear sight. The characters seem to emerge for a moment and retreat straight back to haze in such a way, that it is difficult to understand what reality is and what a figment is.   
        This was my first Nabokov's book and I fell in love with the language and writing style. While reading I had an urge to be alone in a quiet place not to miss a word, not to overlook the passage. I predicted the ending, but still loved how it was executed: nice and neat.      
         Our hero departs the world and enters the realm of fantasy and imagination. Life for our narrator is a tangled mess, an illusion, is anything actually real? Do we know who we are and who we used to be or are we merely a product of how others view us? We see the character through the eyes of others, his identity is shifting with every new person emerges: bankers, women, friend, and employer. And what is next you would ask... Nothing. Nabokov does not promise anything, but to observe, that is why his book is called The Eye and we should be satisfied with it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Post #5, March!

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 

The week: 20.02 - 26.02 

This Week on the Blog

The week: 27.02 - 05.03 
  • On Monday, 27th I review The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov
  • On Tuesday, 28th I review On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever movies
  • On Wednesday, 1st I publish WWW Wednesday and Library Loot, March 1st
  • On Thursday, 2nd I review the play Sexual Perversity in Chicago
  • On Friday, 3rd I review Holy Cow by David Duchovny
New Comers on my Shelf

Friday, February 24, 2017

Under The Skin by Michel Faber

Author: Michel Faber 
Original title: Under The Skin 
Pages: 296
Edition Language: English
Series: no 

Format: Paperback
Genres: Horror, Fantasy  

In this haunting, entrancing novel, Michel Faber introduces us to Isserley, a female driver who cruises the Scottish Highlands picking up hitchhikers. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening, she listens to her hitchhikers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them if they should disappear.

My Thoughts:
     I did not like the book, though I finished it. Quite a gruesome story without much development. It is almost impossible to do a review on the book without spoiling the key points, which actually kept the story alive. On the other hand, I cannot say it was a bad read, I actually quite liked the style and how it was written, it is just the plot did not work out for me. I did not take much from the story, and felt quite sick most part of it, thought there were no repulsive descriptions the imagination did the work.
    The character development of main character Isserley was not development at all, but going in cycles. And I found the hitchhikers' point of view quite useless. They did not add anything vital or exciting to the story.
     I would only recommend this book to readers who are struggling to become a vegetarian, this book can help a lot. It left a bad aftertaste and I would like to forget the plot of the book as soon as possible. Though I may watch a movies based on the novel first.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Equalizer, Point Break, Carrie

Name: The Equalizer
Year: 2014
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast:  Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
Rating: R
Language:  English, Russian, Spanish
Country: USA
Time: 132m

A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her. 

My thoughts: 
     Mostly atmosphere, zero story.
     At the end of it all, I found this movie very boring. The story is old as dirt. The plot is so obvious that as soon as characters appear on screen one can identify what it is going to happen in the film. Denzel's character is likable. He's always friendly, always in a good mood, always smiling. Sorry Denzel, but not even your amazing talent could save this simple-minded, patronizing movie. Yet again a movie is about a lone (American) man that saves the day and kills all the (foreign) bad guys. Hollywood all over again.
       The movie is fast pace and most of it is very tense, and keeps you hanging on to each scene, waiting to see what happens next. But ultimately, we all know Denzel will kick ass.On the other hand, it felt very long. There's just no surprises here. We have seen those types of movie 100 times. Back in the days it was still cool, but now just not interesting any more.

Name: Carrie
Year: 2013
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Cast:  Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde
Genres: Drama, Horror
Rating: R
Language: English
Country: USA
Time: 100m

      A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom. 

My thoughts: 
     Firstly, let me start out by saying this isn't a terrible movie, but I can't help but feel disappointed from the 2013 version of Carrie. This movie does not really add anything new to the mix. It's basically a copy of the original 1976 film, just with a modern setting. I found myself bored throughout a lot of the movie. I've already seen the original, so why do I need to see the exact movie again? And I am not even talking about the book here. The main themes of the Stephen King's novel: the destructiveness of social isolation, religious fanaticism, bullying  were in no way conveyed effectively in this movie. There is a lack of connection in Moretz's performance and  she is unconvincing as a socially deprived and awkward girl. Even her rage is not believable, she seems soft in her frenzy. Julianna Moore as always delivers a competent performance.
      Overall, this wasn't a terrible film, but cannot even remotely compare to the original. Those that haven't seen the first film might very well enjoy it, but for those who have, you most likely feel disappointed. This remake was completely unnecessary.

Name: Point Break 
Year: 2015
Director: Ericson Core
Cast: Edgar Ramírez, Luke Bracey, Ray Winstone
Genres: Action, Crime, Sport
Rating: PG-13
Language: French, Spanish, English
Country: China, Germany, USA
Time: 104m

     A young FBI agent infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists. 

My thoughts:
        Story revolves around Utah (Luke Bracey), an FBI trainee as he investigates a series of heists and their connection to a group of athletes led by Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez). Hardly surprisingly, it follows the same trail that Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze has placed. The new leads do what they can, although it's better not to compare, because it certainly doesn't have the same level of chemistry.
         If you like those 3 or 5 minutes GoPro or Red Bull videos of people doing extreme sports then you will certainly like most of the movie as a lot of it is exactly that and those moments were pretty cool to watch and very well done. But! I appreciate the stunts and stunt people for their quality work involved, but stunts don't make a movie. A good story, with quality characters with emotions and plots that pull the viewer into the characters' world is what makes a memorable film.The characters are bland, the plot makes no sense  I'll stick with the original "Point Break".


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

T5W February 22, Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

This weekly book meme officiated in November 2013. Every week there is a new topic and your list of 5 nominates will be based off this topic. For further information check out the Goodreads Page.

The theme this week is: Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

Here I need to tell you that I never paid any attention if I was in a reading slump or not. The only 2 exceptions I can tell for sure are after I finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and after I read two novels in a row by Erich Maria Remarque (Arch of Triumph and Three Comrades). Those put in terrible mood and I did not want to read at all. I did not remember how I was fighting it then, but for sure I can find a couple of books that I can read in any state, even if my reading attitude is down.

1. Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
       A beloved childhood favorite; the tale of the poor but virtuous Dutch family. An inspiring story that teaches not to give up and not loose your human face. 

2. Any book of  James Herriot, especially those  Dog Stories, All Creatures Great and Small,  All Things Bright and Beautiful

3. Any book from Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple' series by Agatha Christie

 4. Any detective book without much plot and ideas (examples Lee Child, Jeffrey Archer and others)

5. Or I just watch romantic comedies till I am sick with its sweetness and run for a good and serious book.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bucky F*cking Dent by David Duchovny

Author: David Duchovny
Original title: Bucky F*cking Dent
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Genres: Sports, Drama
Format: Audio book
Read by:  David Duchovny
Duration: 6h18m

      Ted Fullilove, aka Mr. Peanut, is not like other Ivy League grads. He shares an apartment with Goldberg, his beloved battery-operated fish, sleeps on a bed littered with yellow legal pads penned with what he hopes will be the next great American novel
My thoughts:
      Such a strange book! This is one of those cases when I have problems to start describing it. Here you find a lot of funny, but you also find a lot of sadness. Not tear bursting sadness, but the one that drags you down in life and death speculation. There is a lot of description of America with all its diversity and a lot of baseball as one of the main characters of the book.
     At the beginning, it is difficult to get through the book: little-known America of 70s, a great number of known, but mostly unknown names, music bands and also baseball referenced to which a great part of every page is dedicated. Personally for me, it is uncharted waters: innings, basemen, infield fly…I do not have a clue what those are.  But later on the relationships between the main character and his father come to the fore; and, needless to say, these are quite peculiar.
       Ted is an Ivy League graduate, but does not look like one. He works as a peanut seller at Yankee Stadium and is known under his nickname Mr Peanut. He is on bad terms with his father, but on good ones with marijuana. From time to time Ted thinks about the meaning of life and writes a novel. The great American novel. But he is too lazy to finish it and regularly finds pretexts for his failures.  He would bloat even more in his dirty, dark flat, if one day he was not informed about his father’s terminal illness. Ted begins to change in order to bring some relief to his dying father and alter the reality around him, though he does not realize it; but we as readers are the witnesses of this transformation.
       If most of baseball terminology and swearing are brushed away, we are left with a touching and striking story about a father and a son; a story of their reconciliation. For me, however, it was difficult to perceive the book as a whole, as great amount of jokes, metaphors and allusions did not hit the target. So I can say that I appreciated only half of the book with the father-son theme and felt aloof about the baseball, sportsmen and music themes.
      Almost all the time I was wondering about the title of the book as well. I wanted to understand it so badly, that when it was finally explained I felt pure satisfaction. As for the drawbacks I find the finale a bit weak. I do not want to post any spoilers here, but I felt bad for Ted’s mother, namely for her memory. Why the death of one beloved parent went by and left no traces, and the death of another gains such importance and acknowledgement? I found this a little stretched out.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Coach Carter| McFarland, USA

Another post on movies. Today I review 2 similar movies dedicated to sport theme.
Name: Coach Carter
Year: 2005
Director: Thomas Carter
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Ri'chard
Genres: Drama, Sport
Rating: PG-13
Language: English
Country:  USA, Germany
Time: 136m

In 1999, Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner, accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA, where he was a champion athlete. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both.

My thoughts:
       If you're sick of inspirational-type movies, then don't see it, but otherwise I highly recommend it. This is also not a movie about the sport. While basketball is used as the backdrop for the movie, Coach Carter really isn't about basketball. The real heart of the movie is in the way Coach Carter begins to turn the lives around of the players on his basketball team by showing them that someone actually cares about what happens to them after high school. Coach Carter is trying to instill values that he thought would help an entire community.
         At one point in the movie Carter (played perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson) asks a player why he plays basketball and he responds with "to win the state title" - which of course gets him high fives from the rest of the team. Carter then asks the team who won the state title last year and nobody knows the answer. Carter tries to show his players that high school basketball is not about winning, but about discipline, respect and the confidence to accomplish any goal. He offered resolutions to his team's behavior and left it to them to make the right decisions. 
      The breaking point of the movie is when Coach Carter gets the academic results of his players. He closes the gym and had to face the rage of players, parents, fans and media. By surviving this pressure he drives his players to understand that they are to decide what course their life will take, and it is easy to give in to the opinion of the majority, but they should carry the responsibility of their own action and deeds. When they make the right decision, they are able to see the positive consequences. When they make the wrong decision the players are faced with negative consequences and had no one to blame but themselves. Coach Carter teaches his players that they must be committed and work hard to excel.


Name: McFarland, USA
Year: 2015
Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez
Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport
Rating: PG
Language: English, Spanish
Country: USA
Time: 129m

       A struggling coach and teacher who has had to move around for different incidents in his career finally comes to one of the poorest cities in America: McFarland, California. He sees that some of the students are worth starting a cross-country team and turns seven students with no hope into one of the best cross-country teams.

My thoughts:
         McFarland USA is much more than the regular good sports movie. Kevin Costner plays Jim White, a coach whose anger forces him to move to McFarland, California, where he begins a job teaching science and gym. In this predominately Latino town Jim and his family experience a culture shock. White joins a school that isn't the best in the world. He sees potential in a few students and forms a cross country team, much to the frustration of colleagues, his and runners' families.
      What I like is that the movie that it doesn't contain a crazy amount of over dramatizations. It is quite simple: there are no unexpected fancy twists. The acting is straight up and solid. The ethnic background of the movie adds to the movie lots of diversity. I enjoy a few of the scenes that involve the interactions between the coach or his family and the locals. They demonstrate how cultural interaction and familiarity can eliminate fear and break down the walls that divide us.
       Since this is a Disney movie, acute topics are rounded off. Crime, discrimination, politics, racism, and poverty are present, but are not signified or looked upon in depth. A nice work is done by the director Niko Caro in keeping the story grounded and focused on the individuals. We get a feel for the skepticism and family obstacles faced by this first group of runners. More importantly, we witness the pride and involvement as the boys begin to have some success. It is actually nice to see when such a sensitive topic as the racial theme is turned into a positive and inspiring story.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Post #4, Sun is out!

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

The week: 13.02 - 19.02
This Week on the Blog
The week: 20.02 - 26.02
  • On Monday, 20th I review movies Coach Carter and McFarland, USA
  • On Tuesday, 21st I review Bucky F*cking Dent by David Duchovny
  • On Wednesday, 22nd I publish T5W February 22, Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump
  • On Thursday, 23rd I review movies Point Break, Carrie, The Equalizer
  • On Friday, 24th I review Under The Skin by Michel Faber

Friday, February 17, 2017

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 Pusle Check Up

I was not sure if I need this post at all. The only important thing to is to read as much as I can. But it turned out that I completely lost the overview of the books read in connection to this challenge. I wanted to do the pulse check every 3 months, but I did not entered the challenge so long ago, so it is a half year check and I will have to continue it in the new 2017 year before I can join PopSugar Challenge 2017.

1. A book based on a fairy tale
    I read The Lunar Chronicles in the first three months of the year. I’ve actually used this series to tick off a few categories, but this one is specifically Cinder.
My review.

3. A YA bestseller
   Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle. My review.

5. A book set in your home state
    I don’t actually live in my home country, so I went with a book set in the country I currently live, otherwise it will be too easy. That’s Czech Republic, and I went with The Student of Prague by Hans Heinz Ewers. Done!

6. A book translated to English
    This was really easy. I am currently cannot tear myself away from Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo, who wrote series of detective Harry Hole. So under this category I count Nemesis by Jo Nesbo.

7. A romance set in the future
     Scarlet, from The Lunar Chronicles fulfills this one. The plot is set in some type of a "future". I still think this counts. My review.

8. A book set in Europe
   Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is mostly set up in Italy. My review.

9. A book that’s under 150 pages
   The Lonesome West By Martin McDonagh. Actually it is a play, but as it is published in a separate book, I do consider this point done. My review.

10. A New York Times bestseller
     I will go here with  Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. My review.

11. A book that’s becoming a movie this year
     Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Riggs, Ransom. Actually I never heard about the book before I saw the movie trailer, so I picked the book solely to fulfill this requirement, but it turned out to become one of my favorite series, which I really loved. My review.

14. A book you can finish in a day
     Cress, from The Lunar Chronicles fulfills this one. I was so enchanted by the series that I really read this book within a day. My review.

17. A book at least 100 years older than you
     Kidnapped and Catriona by Robert Louis Stevenson was first published 1893.

18. A book that’s more than 600 pages
     Winter, from The Lunar Chronicles fulfills this one.The biggest book I read this year; 832 pages. My review.

19. A book from Oprah’s Book Club
     Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. I read this book only to fulfill the requirement of this challenge. I liked the idea and positive message it carries and I liked the movie, but the book itself did not work out for me.

22. A graphic novel
    The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot. This is genre is not my cup of tea, so I grabbed the first adult looking graphic novel in the library and, frankly, quite enjoyed it.

25. A book that takes place during Summer
       Goldfinger by Ian Fleming. I believe the whole adventure started in a hotel in Miami, where Bond crossed the way of notorious criminal figure known as Goldfinger.

27. A murder mystery
      The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbø. This is not one murder mystery, but 5 killings that seems to be the deed of a serial killer. It is a grasping novel with a lot of unexpected plot twists, with one of my favorite fictional detectives Harry Hole.

30. A book with a blue cover
     My edition of The Leopard by Jo Nesbø has a winter scenery on a cover and it all together looks very blue. Another Harry Hole mystery/thriller novel, which was very intriguing and nail-biting, but not the best in Harry Hole series.

34. A book from the library
     Hotel World by Ali Smith. I've heard so much about this author and was looking forward to read one of her books, but was really disappointed. My review.

39. A book that takes place on an island
     I was confused by this one, but found out the book I read in the spring Dr.No by Ian Fleming. The story takes place mainly on the fictional island of Crab Key close to Jamaica and Jamaica itself. My review.

40. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy
     Fortunately, the Milk... by Neil Gaiman. This is a funny short book for children age under 10 but I had a silly smile on my face the entire time I was reading it. It was nicely written and the illustrations by Riddell are so vivid and witty. My review

Outline is 20 books out of 40. Not the greatest result. So these are all the books I read in 2016 from the creation of this blog. Before that I did not track what I was reading, so most probably I lost about 10 books from the beginning of 2016. I would give some time in the beginning of 2017 to catch up with this challenge and close it, so I can fully concentrate on my 2017 challenges.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood

Author: Margaret Atwood
Original title: The Handmaid's Tale
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Format: Audio book
Read by: Claire Danes
Duration: 10h26m

In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right ideals have been carried to extremes. The resulting society is a feminist's nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the "morally fit" Wives. The tale is told by Offred, a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be.

My thoughts:
        First of all, I am so happy I have read this book. Though happiness is not the feeling you get while reading it. I had to put it away a couple of times just to precede the ideas. The world, Margaret Atwood describes quite plausibly, is so depressive and hopeless. As a reader, you get to know step by step the social structure and norms, behavior patents and atmosphere in the society. The author skillfully builds up the world, which is split into castes where everyone has its role and fail to fulfill it is subject to inevitable punishment; the community, where notions as freedom, education, technology and science are banned.
       Anyway, I find too many gaps in this society structure and how the Republic of Gilead was actually formed. It is difficult to believe that a small group of extremists were able to overtake the regime without any struggle. It was mentioned in the book that there were protests, which were suppressed by force and fire, but the next logical step is armed standoff, guerilla war, civil war as the last resort, but quiet acceptance of despicable degradation of all values and freedoms... quite strange and improbable. But anyway, it is not about the society structure or oppression of women, who are not allowed to read, write, work, possess anything, choose anything or have an opinion. This is a story of a broken woman, whose life was shattered and who was stripped off of anything she had ever had: firstly, of her civil rights: work, money, rights to be an owner, right to be an equal citizen to a man; secondly, of her family: mother, husband and a child; thirdly, of her freedom: she became the hostage of a system - either death or submission; fourthly, of her personality: she is not herself anymore - a potential incubator for somebody’s children, her memories are a mess, she does not pronounce her real name for ages, she is afraid even think in somebody's presence, only alone, in the darkness of her unlocked room.
         Frankly speaking, the picture of Offred is so frightening that is so difficult to find its connection to reality. I can hardly imagine to what level of desperation a person should be driven to cherish like the ultimate treasure the printed page from a magazine; being driven to the state of hysterics by a touch of a man, just because her body has not been touched by anyone apart from the reproduction purposes; to find the ultimate freedom and pleasure just being dressed in anything feminine, even prostitute’s cloths and being treated as one; that having a match is an ultimate rebellion and death penalty matter. These points are extremely dreadful and difficult to proceed. The tragedy of a life and personality, where you cannot even choose to take your own life if you'd want to.
           I will not elaborate on the character's actions or choices as it will be spoiler-full, as the most important part of the book is Offred's reflection and self-analysis. The last part of the book is quite interesting and ambivalent. It is actually the analysis of Offred's Tale as historical document on a future conference dedicated to the Republic of Gilead. I heard so many bloggers complain about this part, that it completely spoiled the impression of the book, that it was not necessary and pointless. I, however, find this chapter really interesting addition to the book. It shows that we are only numbers: faceless and lifeless figures of the past from the future perspective. Even having at hand such a bloodcurdling record of somebody's broken life "the future us" will only regard the historical probability and connection to known figures in the history.  And this is actually such a true vision of history events: passions fade; the sufferings and troubles are not taken into consideration – only bare facts and numbers. This is the way we will be viewed in the future if we are valuable enough to be viewed at all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Resident Evil and La La Land

Name: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Cast:  Milla Jovovich, Ruby Rose, Ali Larter
Time: 106 min
Genres: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Country: Germany, Australia, Canada, France
Language: English

Picking up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity's final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began - The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.

My Thoughts: 
Frankly, there is nothing to review in this movie. This is typical Resident Evil film. I would say there is a maximum 3-4 dialogues one minute long. The rest of the movies are a race, combat and zombies.
The program betrays the Umbrella Corporation and help Alice to get back to the beginning, to the place where everything started: The Hive, otherwise the humanity will be wiped off. Everything is like expected: Alice kills every living and unliving on her way to the goal. There was one unexpected twist with the clones at the end, which kind of explaining Alice loss of memory. I would say predictable, but scary to the point movie. The final scene, however, showed that this "The Final Chapter" might not be final after all.


Name: La La Land 
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt
Time: 128 min
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance
Country: USA
Language: English

Mia, an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and Sebastian, a jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart. 

My thoughts:
       It is difficult to talk about the movie without spoilers, but I find it so unfair! This is a nice movie, romantic and touching with a beautiful main musical theme. It made me cry really a lot. But I find it so unfair that little incidents are changing our lives so drastically, that we have to sacrifice our feelings and dreams in order to go on living, so sad. 
      Another sad theme for me was the idea of a dream: how deeply one should believe in his dream to overcome all the doubts and failures and continue to work hard and what is more important to believe even harder; how clear one should be about his dream that not to lose his path and not be distracted by glory or success. This is such a challenge! I guess this topic was nicely shown in the movie.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday and Monthly Recomendation 2

  It happened again that the topic for TTT for Feb. 14 and Monthly Recommendation group coincide. So to avoid two posts on a similar topic I'll have it in this one. For TTT the theme is About Romance Tropes/Types which nicely fits into Monthly recommendation topic "One True Paring"
"One True Paring"
I really had no idea at the beginning that I would be passionate about this post)))

1. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

       This book has many important themes: in a larger political sense, it is about oppression and persecution, and in a moral sense, it is about courage, devotion, and the power of love. The idea is: once true love is betrayed (even if the reasons were to save the beloved one) it is difficult to gain it back. Both have to go through many ordeals to prove that they are worth to be re-united again. But when they do meet all the challenges and unite in their love they will be granted the upper happiness. It sounds a little cheesy, but the execution of the love theme in this book is just superb. This is the picture of ideal love: all-forgiving, sacrificial and enduring.

2. Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

      This is one of my most favorite couples. They are so funny and genuine. I mostly base my liking on the movie. I like how their romance is shown, there is no kisses (just the last one), no obvious hints, everything is executed so purely and nicely, but at the same time you can feel the tension and passion and open sexuality between those two. It is also so romantic because it focuses on how he loves her despite, or perhaps because of, her embarrassing flaws and hilarious antics, mostly because Bridget is hilarious, relatable, and so genuine.

3. Meggie and Ralph from The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.

     I cannot say that this is the ideal couple in the romantic sense. But the relationship between Meggie and Ralf can be called true love as it affected their life paths and ripped their souls apart. This story is an example of when finding true love is not enough; then this pure feeling can be tread down by vanity, ambition, insult and betrayal.

4. Feride and Kamran from Çalıkuşu (The Wren) by Reşat Nuri Güntekin

       For those who did not read this beautiful historical fictional love novel here is the story:
The events in the novel take place in the early twentieth century, near the creation of the Turkish republic. Most of the novel is recounted in first-person diary format by Feride. Feride is the orphaned daughter of an army officer. As a teenager, she attends Lycee Notre Dame de Sion in the winter, and stays with one of her late mother's sisters during the summer holidays.
      She gets engaged to her charming cousin, Kamran, whom she leaves the night before their wedding, upon discovering that he has been unfaithful to her. She runs away from home to become a teacher in Anatolia, although she remains desperately in love with Kamran.
    The rest I cannot tell as it will be full of spoilers, but I should say this is not about the power of mutual love, but the force of love that this tiny girl has endured, the force that kept her going and not give in, not to break down and yield. How she developed as a person, but always kept true to her feelings towards Kamran. How this love was simultaneously destroying and rebuilding her. We do not know anything about the depth of his feelings, but it is enough to know hers to fill this book with purity and hope.

5. Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

     This is no surprise for Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler and be in this list. Though their relationship cannot be called idealistic or romantic, I believe those two strong personalities and made for each other.   

6. Captain Blood and Arabella Bishop from Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini

      I just admire how the love theme is executed in  this novel. You will not read about any passionate dialogues, witty confrontations and ardent glances. Instead, you will find two people drawn apart by circumstances. How a niece of a plantation owner can show any sympathy to a slave? How a slave ever dares to count on true lady's affection? Even when he is not slave anymore, he is just a cursed outlaw, a pirate and thus he will never be able to gain the heart of a woman he ever loved. In this book love theme is not the primary one, but it is perceptible in every decision Captain Blood does. This is the story of all-forgiving and enduring passion, that overcomes not only physical, but also moral obstacles, time and distance.

7. Petruchio and Katherina from The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

       I cannot tell you why, but I just love those two from my childhood. Of couse looking at this couple from an adult point of view I can see that this relationship far from ideal, I would even can call it abusive. But what you I can do? Just love their hate-to-love story development.

8.  Christine and Raoul from The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

       These two are just so sweet and adorable. A bad, bad Phantom of the Opera dared to love and want Christine and steals her in his chambers. And young and passionate, but rather useless Viconte de Chagny is trying to save his beloved from the nets of an ugly monster. Beautiful story, much deeper of cause, and everything is not so easy with the "monster" but still Christine and Raoul are so sweet in their young and passionate love.

9. Maria Bolkonskaya and Nikolai Rostov from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

      If you ask any Russian who is the greatest couple of all time, you would probably in 80% get the answer: Pierre Bezukhov and Natasha Rostova or Andrei Bolkonsky and Natasha Rostova from War and Peace. It turned out that Natasha Rostova was the favorite character of Leo Tolstoy. He put a lot of effort in the development of her character, and since this was his ideal of a woman he gave her 2 best male representatives to love. Those love stories are really worth reading about. This is not some fluffy infatuation, but serious speculation on relationship, family, responsibility and duty.
       But if you ask me, I will tell you there is nothing more lovely than the relationship between Maria Bolkonskaya and Nikolai Rostov. The development of this love story is superb. They meet during the war and that does not contribute to the romantic involvement. She is a plain and humble girl, he is a rarely handsome and successful officer; there is no way she can attract him; but then something unbelievable happens (actually the dream of every girl comes true) this beautiful and prominent man falls in love with Maria and not due to her appearance but her character. He saw the beauty of her soul and fell for it. That is so enchanting to read how he comes to realization that there is so much more behind the unattractive shell, which can inspire and empower.
10. Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen  

      I guess I just like quiet and constrained love stories. I cannot feel enough for Elinor suffering when she went through all the ordeal of love without perspective and all the obstacles in her way, and how she managed to pull herself together and be civil and smile and socialize.

      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.   

 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.