Montana, 1948 by Larry Watson – Book Review

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David Hayden lives in a small town in Montana with his parents. His father followed in the footsteps of his father into law enforcement while his brother, war hero and all around top bloke, became a doctor. But as ugly truths come about the doctor, the family struggles as they battle loyalty, truth and justice.

It’s a simple story, told from the perspective of one who was a child at the time of the events, and in this way, it reminds me a little of How to Kill a Mockingbird. And wow, does it pack a punch. This is a novella that hurts to read, that makes you wish that you could make the world a better place. Brilliant.

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Magic Mike (2012) Film Review

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Mike (Channing Tatum) is a stripper who secretly dreams of having his own furniture business. Then he befriends an unemployed young man Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and tricks him onstage where he is pressured (by screaming woman and club MC Dallas, played by Matthew McConaughey) into removing his clothes. Then Adam is in despite his sister Brooke (Cody Horn) being unhappy with his choices.

Reverse the roles? This would be a horrifying tale of a woman being led astray by nasties. As it is, well, the male stripping industry is a lot different to the women’s, and this is just like a fun romp that a lot of people really love. I had been told it was a lot better than I’d expect it to be. This pretty much raised me up to the point where I thought it was… ok. The dancing is good (especially Channing Tatum – he has got some good moves), the bodies are very nice to look at, but there were a few things that I found a bit odd. Like, yes, Mike needed an extra guy on stage, but he seemed to readily to become friends with a nineteen-year-old boy who could barely communicate. And why did that hen’s party at the start consist of only two girls – that’s totally tragic! And how is it that all of the women in the audience were beautiful – even the older ones were gorgeous…. Or is that what Florida is like?

 

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Wonder by R. J. Palacio – Book Review

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Auggie is about to start school. That’s not that unusual – what is unusual is that Auggie is ten, and this is the first school he’s gone to. Most of his childhood, he has been in and out of hospital having treatments for a condition that he was born with – a condition that means he is facially disfigured. Going to school means meeting people and being looked at and having to deal with so many fears.

Palacio takes us on the journey of Auggie from several points of view – Auggie’s, of course, then there is his sister Via, then Summer and Jack, new friends from school, and others. It’s mostly fabulous, a really great read that deals with fears and school and bullying and confusion, and apart from the final scene that is really a bit cringeworthy really, it is great. I know this has been a hugely popular book with younger readers, and with very good reason.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- Book Review

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There are two Will Graysons who accidentally meet one night. The first is a high school student who is trying to keep his head down and get through life despite having just one friend – the loudest, gayest, largest boy in the school, Tiny Cooper. The second is also a high school student, but he is depressed, but his online relationship with ‘Isaac’ is the only light in his otherwise dull existence. After they meet, both lives are changed, and everyone is forced to look at things that they were happy to avoid.

I really enjoyed this book. I heard of it some time ago, and love the idea of two authors creating a book together. It adds a different level to it. Now, it is absolutely a YA novel, and gets a bit cheesy and whatever as it goes on, but that’s fine. It’s a book, and it’s great to have a book with LGBT characters for YA. I’m searching for more recommendations, if anyone wants to contribute, I’d be pleased to hear more.

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X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) Film Review

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We’re back in the early days of X-Men. The really early days – there is a dude back in ancient Egypt who is a mutant, who rules as a god on earth and takes powers from other mutants. Luckily, there are some good guys who manage to trap him in the Earth for thousands of years. Unfortunately, he gets free and tries to take over. He’s always had four sidekicks, and this time is no different: he takes Angel (Ben Hardy ), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and our old favourite, Magneto (Michael Fassbender). So it is up to Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his guys to save the world.

For me, as someone who came to the X-Men films with no prior comic knowledge, this is all starting to get a bit confusing. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. I love all the explosions and the craziness, and especially the powers, but I get a bit lost. Who is what? What powers do they have? Who is good and who is bad? And what’s the story with Magneto – after constantly being in these battle where he seems to (spoiler – I think?) change from the bad side to help the good, why does he keep being bad? What? I know I’ll keep watching these films and getting more and more confused, and I don’t really mind as long as they keep the special effects fancy and the costumes cool.

 

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) Film Review

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Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), a war hero who was badly injured rescuing his colleagues, is recruited to the CIA as an analyst. When he is sent to Russia on a mission by handler Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to look into the affairs of Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) things get messy. They only get messier when his wife, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) turns up.

It’s exciting and Jack Ryan is a great character. There was tonnes of action, all the stuff I love. Running and shooting and the like. I even didn’t mind Keira Knightly, though I’m still far from a fan. Wonderful to see Kenneth Branagh back – I haven’t seen him for ages!

 

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Robin Hood (2010) Film Review

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I remember when this film came out, everyone was going on about how terrible Russell Crowes’ accent was, and I just want to say that it didn’t bother me. There were accents all over the shop, I had no idea who was supposed to be from where, and didn’t really care.

The film tells the story from when Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his mates are fighting under King Richard the Lionheart in France, only when the king dies, they nick off home, pretending to be some nobles whose they find dying along the way. After delivering the news to the new king, Robin goes to tell the noble’s father that his son is dead. The father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) convinced Robin to stay and assume his son’s identity to ensure that the land is not taken away from the widow, Marion (Cate Blanchett). And the story continues up to the point where Robin and his mates become outlaws.

In general, I didn’t mind this movie. It’s wasn’t amazing, and personally if I was to watch a film about a rebel in the olden days in Britain, I’d sooner watch Rob Roy or even Braveheart. What really bugged me was that Cate Blanchett had a very average role to play, and there was absolutely no chemistry between her Marion and Crowe’s Robin. It felt like it was close to being a good story but never quite made it.

 

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