Movie Review: Wild (2014)

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Plot: A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.

I seem to have a knack about sitting down to watch films about real events lately. When it is done right, these films are fantastic. When it is done wrong, well, then obviously not.

Wild is somewhere between the middle – I didn’t hate the film, but I found Reese Witherspoon’s character an emotional drain. Wild is about Cheryl Strayed’s successful hike through the Pacific Crest Trail, where she rediscovers herself after the death of her mother. I’ve been through the death of a parent, so I am with everyone on the level of grief it brings. However, grief does not equal lack of accountability and I found the multiple cheatings on her husband rather distasteful, and it’s depiction of it pretty gross. There is also a heroin addiction in play, and I really pitied her husband by the end of it. Witherspoon is a good enough actress to show the selfishness of Strayed’s character on screen. Make no mistake; her journey alone in the PCT is the correct way to rediscover herself, to reset, and to begin again. The solitary journey through the wilderness appealed to me, as did the incredible scenery and the wonder of the different landscape the USA has. I also really liked that she, a woman alone, set out and discovered the world. It is also a bit strange for me to imagine as South-African – I would never dream of hiking somewhere alone in fear of safety.

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The ending especially grated on me – ending a film on an open dialogue with some profound quote is one of the greatest crimes in humanity. Give me a conclusion – show how she apologizes to her ex-husband, show how she changes her life and show her marrying Michiel Huisman – gorgeous McGorgeousface – just show me SOMETHING that isn’t an open ending.

The sex flashbacks were rather distasteful and I would probably have liked Wild better if it wasn’t so frequent. It makes the film so much dirtier than it needs to be. It does serve as a contrast to the pure beauty of nature, so there is that at least.

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Overall, Wild really wasn’t my favorite film. There are ways they could have done it better. Witherspoon is an outstanding actress so I did appreciate her efforts, but man, those character flaws in the film put me off.

Rating: 6/10

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Movie Review: Australia (2008)

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Plot: Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.

Some human rights are less equal than other human rights.

That is an unambiguous fact displayed in Australia, the Baz Luhrman epic. The Aboriginal people were the first people to inhabit Australia 45 000 years ago. They are fascinating and diverse group with over 500 different types of Aborigines, with different languages and territories spread over the dangerous continent. The Aborigines have suffered greatly since the first British invasion, and have lost land, culture and their freedom. The film Australia explores this as one of its’ concepts, primarily the fate of children who had an Aboriginal mother and a white settler father. The making of these children were depicted as consensual sex, although I really doubt whether that was the case most of the time.

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I have a deep appreciation for Baz Luhrman. He has directed a large portion of films I call my favorite. – Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby. He has a sense of fancy and shine, and a love for the epic that can’t be anything but admired. Moulin Rouge is my favorite, but after seeing Australia again I realized my vague recollection of the film didn’t do justice to its’ true quality.

Nicole Kidman displays an astonishing amount of wit and humor, a role which I haven’t seen her embody until now. Baz Luhrman and his extravagant affairs suit her – my other favorite of hers (and his) is the heartbreakingly beautiful Moulin Rouge, which is on my soon-to-be-rewatched list as well.

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I will keep my comments regarding Hugh Jackman as clean as possible, but this is one of his finest physical appearances I have ever seen. It is greatly exaggerated it is good to see the sexual focus on a male instead of a female (I can really only think of The Guest as the only other example)

Australia is both heart-breaking and beautiful. The chemistry between Kidman as Lady Sarah and Jackman as Drover is strong, and their love story is beautiful and unrestrained. There is a beautiful romance I read that takes place in the Australian outback (I sadly can’t recall the name), and the struggles of Drover and Sarah reminded me very much of their plights.

Brandon Walters as Nullah is a fast talking child, and his innocence and freedom is beautiful. It broke my heart how badly the Aborigines were treated, how very little rights they were afforded and how they had everything taken away from them – the Australian government only issued an official apology to the Aboriginals in 2008 for the crimes against their race, which is a fine case of too little, too late.

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The backdrop of the film is naturally the raw and intense landscape of Australia’s Outback, which provides a visually stimulating experience. Australia has been accused of being overly long, and yes, it certainly is a doozy, clocking in at two hours and forty-six minutes. As many of you know, I am always first to complain about movies that are too long without any real substance, so if I tell you I didn’t feel that Australia was drawn out and overly long, I really mean it. You just have to be willing to sit down for quite a while and get through it, but the conclusion is rewarding and beautiful.

I thoroughly enjoyed Australia, and would recommend it to people who love Baz Luhrman. It made me read up on the Aboriginals, the atrocities against them, improved my already substantial admiration for Nicole Kidman and convinced me that the acquired taste of an Australian accent could be easily achieved if Hugh Jackman strutted in tight pants across a desert uttering words that I could barely understand but definitely appreciated.

Have you seen Australia? How did it rank for you?

Rating: 8.5/10

Book Review: The Rise of Nine (Pittacus Lore)

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Plot: The Mogadorians who destroyed the planet Lorien continue to hunt for the Garde, the small group of Loric survivors who have taken refuge on Earth. During a dangerous mission at a Mog base in West Virginia, John found and rescued the brutish Nine. But even with their combined powers, special abilities known as Legacies, the pair barely escaped with their lives. And in the process, John’s best friend, Sam Goode, was lost and taken captive by the enemy.

In order to save him—and our world—John and Nine must join forces with Six and Seven who have been battling the Mogs in Spain, and who are now trying to locate Number Eight in India. The Garde must come together before it is too late. They are Lorien and Earth’s only hope.

Firstly, it took me ages to write this review. Analyzing how I felt and whether the book was good took me a chunk of time. This is the third book in the series, and I would love to continue until I have finished the entire set. (Read reviews here and here or the first two books). Of the three novels I liked this one second best, after I am Number Four, although I still felt that it had plenty of mistakes.

Despite the title suggesting that The Rise of Nine is focused primarily on the adventures of Nine; the book shifts between the members of the Garde.  You barely get to know Nine – he just seems like a big brash teenager with way too much ego and way too little sense. He frankly irritated me, and he is by far not my favorite. His pissing contest with Fouris ridiculous, and if I wanted to watch Fast and The Furious for a battle of the penis, I would have. I see Michael Bay had a favorable review of these books, and it makes sense – there is a lot of bang and smoke but very little effect. Reading “The Rise of Nine” was like reading a Michael Bay film – not something I’d actually recommend that often. The book has so many drawn-out fight scenes it feels like I would guess how a book version of his work would read.

I really like Six, and wouldn’t mind a book focused on her. I guess that this series is aimed at teenage boys, which makes that wish highly unlikely to occur, but she’s an interesting character and one of the strongest. Also, least annoying.

I’m not sure where they are heading with the American Government siding with the Mogadorians, but it seems rather vague and silly at this point in the books (though not looking at the current administration, which makes it more likely). While I remember this sore point for me – the “Mogadorians” or “Mogs” is the stupidest name I have ever heard for a fictional race.

The number of dumb decisions these kids make is very high – you can just see high hormone levels drives their life choices. Particularly the final and ridiculous battle with Setrakus Ra. This “all powerful being” attacked in the middle of the series when half the Garde is seriously maimed and they still escape without a casualty? Stupid stupid.

There are some glitches and the writing is by no means perfect, and I really think I’m just too old now for this, but the books are good for light reading and are a fast thing once you get going. I found that final fight stupid. It is starting to feel that things work out for these kids because they must, not because of some brilliantly revealed plot. I am still enjoying the Legacies the kids develop, that at least remain pretty cool.

I will likely read the rest in due course, because it is good for when you want to read but don’t want to think too much about it. I wouldn’t recommend this series to anyone over seventeen actually, but it isn’t too rough just for some mindless semi-dystopian drama.

Rating: 6/10

Halloween Month Movie Review: Hocus Pocus (1993)

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Plot: After three centuries, three witch sisters are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night, and it is up to two teenagers, a young girl, and an immortal cat to put an end to their reign of terror once and for all.

What better month to finally watch Hocus Pocus? Following news of an imminent and probably unnecessary sequel, combined with the onset of Halloween, I knew I had to finally sit down and watch this favored and loved cult classic. It was a completely different movie than I thought it would be! The acting of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy is amazing and hilarious. Sarah Jessica Parker in particular surprised me. She’s just Carrie Bradshaw in my mind, and I couldn’t see her as something else. Well, as the beautiful, crazy and really damn weird Sarah Anderson she was all the levels of entertaining – such an inspired and crazy performance. The three actresses as the Sanderson sisters work great together; they share symmetry in their movements so accurate it is almost like watching a dance routine. Realizing that Sean Murray – always Timothy McGee in NCIS to me – is the poor Thackery Binx also gave me such delight.

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I really enjoyed the performances by the Sanderson sisters and how ridiculous they were and still so nastily evil, but I did find the story just a bit lacking. There isn’t always too much structure, but even with this flaw I still had a really entertaining time with it. It’s the generic “the youth defeats the evil” storyline, and while you would just love to question everything about it, I suggest you don’t, and watch Bette Midler with really weird dentistry enchant you and make you cackle with glee.

Have you seen Hocus Pocus? Let me know what you thought!

Rating: 6/10

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Book Review: Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

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Plot: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

*Contains spoilers*

I had such a good experience finally reading Gone Girl. I watched the movie  in 2014 (I can’t believe it’s’ been three years!) and rated it my favorite film of 2014  . I plan on watching it soon again to be able to compare with the book, which I’ve owned almost equally as long but didn’t have the inclination to read. Finally picking up the novel was a good idea. I have the slight wish of not having seen the film before I read the book, because instead of discovering that plot twist I was merely awaiting it’s arrival. Would I have seen it coming? I don’t think so. Amy’s diary entries are so sweet and caring and she seems stupidly devoted and optimistic towards her marriage. Nick seems desperate and slimy and an all-around horrible spouse, a man whose frail ego was damaged when he lost his job and his wife didn’t fawn over him all the time. Amy seems like a sweet-hearted fool for about half of the book and then you get to know the psychotic sociopath beneath her pretty exterior.

Gone Girl has a fast tempo and I found it written well. I enjoyed Flynn’s writing style and the way her character’s thought patterns works. The characters are flawed indeed. I sincerely hope there aren’t any Amy’s’ out there in the real world. Amy and Nick are both repulsing, and they are a strong reminder to know your partner very well before even contemplating marriage.

Gone Girl is not a book that celebrates the best in human kind or is sweet, fluffy or romantic. It is full of nasty realizations about relationships and how bad they can be. I have to say that while I usually pick up more lighthearted novels I did enjoy this one. It’s more realistic than most though there are elements which are hopefully too shocking to be true.

I wasn’t fond of the end. Amy gets away with so much and in return she gets more leverage over Nick and no repercussions.  It jarred with my (and probably everybody’s) sense of justice. Nick in no way deserves an easy existence – he really is quite a slime ball, but Amy getting everything she wants just didn’t feel right and had the book fall slightly on its’ face in the end – like a Goosebumps for adults, the world isn’t rid of Amy’s evil.

It is just a thought here, but I think the book can also send a negative message to the world. So many women are murdered by their husbands, are abused and discarded when they cease to hold interest for their spouses, where a book where the female is clearly the villain and clearly a psychopath does not do well for the eradication for these murders.

Gone Girl was a good read, highlighting the craziness that a couple can bring forth in one another. It’s (hopefully) much dramatized but kept me entertained for the entirety of the book. Have you read Gone Girl? Let me know!

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: Sully (2016)

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Plot:The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight’s passengers and crew.

Situations where airplanes malfunction rarely have a happy ending. It’s either disappearances or crashes and morbidity is synonymous with these events. So when Captain Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger sent out a mayday signal on the 15th of January 2009 after birds took out both of the engines on the Airbus 320 on Flight 1549 which Captain Sullenberger was the pilot of, no one believed it possible that Sullenberger could put down the plane on the Hudson River successfully. In doing so, he saved the lives of his 154 co-passengers. The successful landing was a combined result of a lifetime of experience and a man that not only excelled at his job but was born to do it. I followed this story obsessively when it came out, and recently checked again the technical difficulty this landing required. I love stories about human courage and defeating unimaginable odds (who doesn’t?), and the event kept me glued to the screen for weeks.

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That said, I’ve burned my fingers the last few months with real life events turned into movie adaptions. It’s a seemingly difficult task for directors to tell these stories accurately and keep the inspirational levels as well as the truth intact. However, with Sully, director Clint Eastwood made a film that wasn’t only true and inspirational, it is Oscar worthy.

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Tom Hanks plays veteran pilot Chelsey Sullenberger. He does so by portraying a pilot who had the correct level of confidence in his abilities, which he combined with good sense and humility. Hanks shows you all the sides – the PTSD, the stress he and his family is shouldering, the fatigue and overpowering sense of media frenzy. Aaron Eckhart is the lighter of heart Co-pilot Jeff Skiles. His importance to the success of the landing is paramount, as he did not, as I would have, started yelling “what the fuck” at the top of his lungs.

The passengers get their moments too – a woman with her elderly mother, a mother with her infant daughter, business men and women, a father and his sons rushing to make the gates for the flight – real people with real lives all just planning a quick trip. It adds a human element, and the chanting of the passengers as they braced for landing is heartbreaking to listen to.

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I was engrossed by Sully. It is chilling and inspiring and I will definitely watch it again. Eastwood and Hanks are a power combination that should be explored further. If you need to feel inspired, watch this. It is a story about thinking on your feet, being insanely courageous and calm, and using the experience life has given you to fulfill your life’s work.

Have you seen Sully? What did you think?

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

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Plot: An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0834001/

Rise of the Lycans is perhaps to Underworld what Tokyo Drift is to the Fast and The Furious (although not that bad). It took a risk by removing their main audience draws – Seline and Michael. Rise of the Lycans is set in long long ago where we finally get to see why Lucian embarked on his vengeful path against Viktor (Bill Nighy).

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Casting Rhona Mitra as Sonja was obviously a designed and successful choice. It is mentioned in the first film that Viktor was unable to kill Seline because she reminded him so much of his daughter, and comparing the two, both on personality and on looks I agree with Viktor – they really do share similarities.

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Michael Sheen has never struck me as a man with any appeal, and yet as Lucian I was not immune to his charms. He lost that leery look that I associate with Sheen for his work (mostly as the icky Aro in Twilight) as Lucian, for which I thanked him.

The film has its’ own version of some political commentary with the harrowing conditions the lycans are enslaved by. It is cruel and inhumane, and if there was any misconception that Viktor was a “good” vampire left, this film serves as final proof that he likely had it coming to him.

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Although not part of the main story I enjoyed Rise of the Lycans. It is probably my third favorite overall. The film at least maintains its gritty and sexy feel, something the following films never quite managed to achieve as of yet.

Rating: 7/10

 

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

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Plot: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Can you hear that sound? It sure sounds like the patriarchal system starting to crack. Since I watched Wonder Woman Friday night I haven’t been able to stop looking at photos of young girls entering the cinema in their Wonder Woman costumes looking excited and elated. Someone of their own gender entering battle and saving people! I haven’t been able to stop checking on the financial success of WW, which is helmed as a victory of super heroines and female directors. I can’t help but laugh with glee how mad all the men are about the women only screening in Texas – how dare women want to celebrate and feel strong without having to hear whisperings that Steve Trevor is the actual hero? MADNESS.

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Director Patty Jenkins was the perfect choice to direct this film. A film about a woman by a woman. If you will bear with me, I will tell you why – Diana Prince is portrayed as a strong woman who fights for herself, sees her love interest as secondary to her mission, is fierce and formidable while being beautiful and smart and adoring children at the same time. I feel like women are constantly told you can either be the soft maternal type OR the fierce business woman, and it was nice seeing a character on screen that didn’t just do it, she made it look positively easy. Gal Gadot strides on screen with her incredible face and intimidating charm and manages to be warm, pure, sweet, funny, caring and kick-ass without breaking a sweat. It is a standout performance of which she can truly be proud, and she’s truly the Wonder Woman we needed.

The opening scenes with Themyscira is certainly some of the weakest parts in the film. I enjoyed the women fighting sequences, it was beautifully choreographed. The beauty of the hidden island is a perfect contrast with the war Diana plans to enter. It did feel just a bit out of place with the strong structure of the rest of the film. The scene where Steve Trevor crash lands and brings a horde of Nazis behind him is heartbreaking to behold, and the consequences of his arrival made me very sad. The fight scenes aren’t ridiculously drawn out, something Mr. Zack Snyder just loves to do, and it is DC’s saving grace. I haven’t seen a DC movie like this ever, and it is the first I’ve able to place above many Marvel movies. If DC can take this magical formula and copy it directly over into Justice League, please note that I will buy a ticket again and be completely on board with cheering for the male heroes too – something I can do without feeling my gender threatened, hem-hem.

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Where DC usually spends their entire films being depressing and dull, Wonder Woman manages to balance the serious with banter and some light-hearted moments. That is actually where Marvel sometimes messes up – they can be too light-hearted. Steve’s insecurities that can’t help slipping out when Diana refers to him as an average man is quite funny, as well as Diana’s comments on why women should even want to tuck their tummies in had me laughing – so very well aimed at society’s double standards.

There is always the stock standard romance, and while it was present this time around, there was nothing stock nor standard about it. Steve is such an incredible guy – he has a purity that is very nearly Steve Rogers about him – morals, etiquette, the ability to see war as injustice on both sides. He allows Diana to do her thing and after only a few slips begins to understand that she will do what she wants to whether he thinks it is allowed or not. Chris Pine was a great choice as this character. He is a talented man that is finally getting some good exposure. He had good chemistry with Gal Gadot. Honestly – he looks like a wartime hero and that certainly gave him impact as well.

Did I see some of the plot reveals coming – I saw the one, but there were a few others that managed to surprise me. It made for interesting watching – and no, I’m not telling you. This movie is way too fresh out to be spoiled on my blog.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet – go right out and do it. I will need a really strong contender to even ruffle this movie’s feathers as my favorite film of 2017 going forth into the remainder of this year. It is an excellent superhero film in a time where superheroes are stock standard. Let me know if you’ve seen it, and what your thoughts were!

Rating: 8.5/10

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

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Plot: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”
–penguinrandomhouse.com 

I started to write this already at the halfway mark of the book, so as to not forget any of my thoughts. I can tell you that I am going to pretend I am British for another week now (the same inevitably happens when I watch Downton Abbey). I had the best time working through Pride and Prejudice and can really not think of a time this year when I felt so content reading any book.

This is finally a successful attempt at reading Pride and Prejudice – the first time I picked it up I only managed to get through half of the book. I have no idea why, perhaps I just wasn’t as inclined as I was this time around. I watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies AGAIN the other day, and I love the 2005 adaption of this novel with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden. The plot speaks to me on many levels – the unerring feminism of Elizabeth Bennet, the courage of Jane Austen to write about Elizabeth Bennet, the love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I can tell you now that I find difficult people so much more appealing than the Mr. Bingleys of the world. Their loyalty is ultimately more rewarding and unyielding. Pride can be attractive in any person. Mr. Darcy is a difficult man, but truly appealing. It is fun to find a character that isn’t written in the typical hero fashion – he’s so ornery and stubborn and proud.

The differences between the movies and the original work are perhaps not significant but the book is naturally more illustrative to the characters. Mr. Wickham is even slimier than his onscreen presence shows, Mr. Collins is a phenomenal, pompous and amazingly irritating pain in the ass.  Mrs. Bennet is truly an embarrassment to her offspring. Her antics are mortifying and she has a cold disregard to Elizabeth that is not shown often in a film adaption. She never ceased her ambition to have her daughters favorably married. Whatever true care she felt for each of them was very much overshadowed by her need to see her daughters settled with men of high fortunes. It was embarrassing.

There is only one section that felt tiresome eventually. The section where Lydia runs of with Wickham is pivotal in the romance of Elizabeth and Darcy, but it really took an extraordinary amount of pages to get through. The conclusion of Pride and Prejudice is the most delightful British ending you can hope for. Feelings are expressed in the utmost British way – please tell me they are still like this! – and the overpowering sweetness of Darcy’s happiness when Elizabeth expresses her love and admiration is lovely. I really did enjoy how sweet he became eventually when he was around her, and that the strength of his feelings could make him do such introspection and radical personal change.

The theme of the book is clear the very descriptive title, but there are also themes of family, learning to look deeper into a person and not expressing yourself in anger – Elizabeth’s family had quite the shock when she professed to love the man she had been so against the majority of the time she’d known him.

Pride and Prejudice really isn’t a quick and easy read, and it takes time to get yourself acquainted with the author’s writing. It is high English, and it was a good exercise for me as a predominantly Afrikaans speaking person to read through it. You also really need to be in the mood to read this book, it isn’t going to be pleasing or successful if you want a fast read.

I am giving this a 9.5/10. It is a very high rating, yes, but I found it very deserving of the classic cult status and many adaptions it has gone through. I really enjoyed it so much! One of my favorite books this year!

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Book Review: Island of Glass (Nora Roberts)

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Book #3 in The Guardians trilogy

Plot:

The final Guardians Trilogy novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Bay of Sighs and Stars of Fortune.

As the hunt for the Star of Ice leads the six guardians to Ireland, Doyle, the immortal, must face his tragic past. Three centuries ago, he closed off his heart, yet his warrior spirit is still drawn to the wild. And there’s no one more familiar with the wild than Riley—and the wolf within her…

An archaeologist, Riley is no stranger to the coast of Clare, but now she finds herself on unsure footing, targeted by the dark goddess who wants more than the stars, more than the blood of the guardians. While searching through Irish history for clues that will lead them to the final star and the mysterious Island of Glass, Riley must fight her practical nature and admit her sudden attraction to Doyle is more than just a fling. For it is his strength that will sustain her and give her the power to run towards love—and save them all…

Rating: 8/10

Concluding the Guardian’s trilogy, Island of Glass was packed with drama and bravery and heroics. Did I like it? YES. This series swept me up and kept me entertained for the entire two weeks I read it in. It is rare nowadays for me to drop everything and push to get through three books in two weeks, but I had to know. Island of Glass focuses on the last two remaining characters that haven’t resolved their feels yet for each other (hey, this is still a Nora Roberts series). The immortal Doyle and the lycan Riley deal with their growing attraction for each other and the fact that Nerezza wants them all dead, and the stars in her possession.

The last book is similar to the first two in writing and execution. The end left me happy – I won’t give it away but everyone is given everything they would ever want. Riley remains my favorite female character with her academics and abrasive nature. Doyle and Riley make a perfect couple, and their road to each other was the best across the series. I really liked Doyle – cantankerous people are always better to read about than affable sweethearts. His outbursts and clear insight to what lies ahead made him valuable to their mission, and through all of that he showed that he still cared for the lot of them.

The ending of the book was slightly drawn out – catching the last star and then meeting the goddesses and then still having to defeat Nerezza. In my opinion the book would have been stronger if they had done all of that in one huge fight.

I’m likely to reread this series quite soon. I enjoyed it very much and is some of the better fantasy novels Nora Roberts has produced.