Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

The Emerald CircusThe Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an advance review copy from the publisher and I'm very grateful for it.
I have to admit that before picking up this book i had never heard of Jane Yolen. Turns out she's an acclaimed writer with many fascinating books. Another thing I have to admit is that I love short stories. I know how hard it is to tell a whole story on a limited number of pages. Some of the stories in this collection were entertaining, some were not. The problem that I had with Emerald Circus was that once the story was over I forgot about it. Unfortunately I cannot name a single story that stood out for me. All I remember about this book is that the stories were retellings of old fairy-tales. But wait, there's one more thing that I remember and it's that Emerald Circus was a very well written book. Fantastically well. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read good writing. And if you like old fairy tales with new twists and turns, then this book is for you.

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Amsterdam Exposed by David Wienir

Amsterdam Exposed: An American's Journey Into The Red Light DistrictAmsterdam Exposed: An American's Journey Into The Red Light District by David Wienir
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because of its beautiful cover. This should be a good lesson to me to stop picking books based on their covers. I hate being negative but I didn't like Amsterdam Exposed. I couldn't get into it and at some point started skimming, just to be over with it. The story wasn't engaging. It didn't keep me interested. And this has been a problem with many bios: a lot of authors just don't know how to write interesting biographies. The author told about dull and mundane things, but a more skilled author would've written these same stories in a much more interesting way. Biography is a hard genre and not everyone can write it the right way.

I'm very grateful to the publisher for the advanced review copy and I wish the author all the best.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Lewis Barnavelt, #1)The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up the moment I watched the trailer for the upcoming movie. It’s a dark children’s fairy tale, but because of the trailer I’d been expecting more than I got. This is the story of 10 y.o. Lewis who comes to live with his uncle after his parents’ death. Uncle Jonathan is a minor magician, and so is old Mrs. Zimmerman, the neighbor. Lewis is a friendless kid who tries to impress a popular boy and ends up summoning a dangerous wizard from her grave.
Obviously there will be a lot of difference between the book and the movie, but this is one of the rare cases where the differences seem to be for the better. Jack Black looks nothing like the ginger-bearded Uncle Jonathan, and Cate Blanchett looks nothing like very wrinkly old Mrs. Zimmerman, but it won’t matter. From the very first second you see Cate Blanchett on screen in the trailer, you can tell she’ll be brilliant, as always. Also, there were no octopuses in the book. It was a short read and I’m sure back in the day has managed to scare a lot of kids, but for today’s children might be lacking in action and adventure.
The illustrations by Edward Gorey are splendid. And creepy.

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Ready Player One. The Movie.

One word: BAD.
Two words: VERY BAD.
I didn’t want to write about this movie, because I was so angry, but I had reviewed the book (which I had liked more than I’d expected), so I’ll write a quick review about this terrible mediocrity and move on with my life.
This was unbelievably bad. What were everyone involved with this movie thinking about? What was the author thinking about? I was sitting in the movie theater, cringing and wondering if the script writer had even read the book, and it turns out the author himself was one of the writers. I guess he didn’t have much choice.
Everything was changed. The only thing left from the book was the title and how one of the minor characters died in the beginning. The rest wasn’t “Ready Player One”. It was “Spielberg Thinks He Needs to Change Everything.” I can’t remember another movie that would be so far from its source material. Surely I didn’t expect them to show 8 hours of Pac-Man, but come on, could the movie at least try to follow the book?
The humor was flat, the characters were even flatter. The story was a hot mess. Rebels? What the hell was that?
Parzival and Art3mis meeting in real life in the middle of the movie? The whole point was to meet in the very end.
All of the characters being from the same city, even though the whole wide world is engaged in OASIS? They were from all around the world in the book and that was believable.
Ogden Morrow being a hidden character in the OASIS who is live 24/7? Really? So the guy never slept, ate, and rested?
Art3mis sneaking into the bad guy’s office and no one spotting her? No security cameras?
The bad guy becoming Halliday’s intern? Why?
Art3mis being locked in a prison cell at IOI an getting free because the key (a lever) was hidden in that same prison cell? What kind of idiot puts the key inside the prison cell? No, but really?
Art3mis becomes an IOI slave, logs in from an IOI computer, but looks like her old avatar? HOW?!!! Then she takes off the helmet inside the OASIS, but stays in the game?
I could go on and on, but I’ve got better things to do, like working on my next book and hoping it won’t be as flawed in logic as this terrible, boring, cliche movie. They took a cool book and turned it into yet another Hollywood flick. A sour candy wrapped inside a glossy paper. Who needs all these special effects when the story sucks?

They raped the book the same way they raped "Wrinkle in Time." At least WIT flopped, and it may teach Hollywood suits a few lessons. But serioulsy, who in their right mind thought this looked good?

Can anyone even look at this pic with a straight face? I know I'm rolling on the floor :D :D :D
Looks like a school production with tin foil costumes and a bad dance choreography. Oh, well. Hollywood has lost its mind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Moonlight and Spotlight (and #metoo)

After the oh-so-terrible “The Shape of Water” I decided to check out other best movies of the year that have received the Academy Award. I started with the “Moonlight.” 
What can I say? Nothing good. Absolutely nothing. “Schindler’s List” has won the best picture award. And now “Moonlight” has won it. Again, where’s the logic? What’s wrong with people? Why aret hey giving awards to such medicore and boring movies? What was so extraordinary about “Moonlight”? Nothing. It was so forgettable I can’t even remember what it was about. A guy struggling through childhood, boyhood and adulthood. I’ll have to check the other nominees. If this was the best picture of the year, I can’t even imagine what the other movies were like. 

Then I watched “Spotlight.” Well, this one was much, much better. The story was heartbreaking. Not that there’s someone left in this world who still doesn’t know about the “good old” Catholic priests, but watching them being exposed felt really good.
Can’t say that I loved “Spotlight” and that I was smitten away by it, but when compared to the other two best pictures, “Spotlight” is a masterpiece. 
Also, there was an Armenian character portrayed by the always great Stanley Tucci, and of course I loved the character, because of course I am biased, ha, ha, ha! But seriously, we need more “spotlight” and less “moonlight”.

Now I wish they’d make a movie about this whole #metoo movement, but with the truth. I hope they will expose all these “I had no idea” celebrities, who think that their condemning tweets and FB posts somehow make us all believe that they didn’t know. Oh for God’s sake, it’s Hollywood, the most toxic place in the world. Of course all of them knew. And of course almost all of them are guilty. One has to be a naive lamb to think that all those actors, actresses, directors and agents had no idea what was happening behind the not so closed doors.
Give me a break.

But of course Hollywood won’t admit it. They will probably make a movie about all that rape and sexual harassment, but will present themselves not as the predators that they are, but as some poor and innocent people who never knew. 

They knew, all of them knew.