Blogging, Books, Reviewing

Improving the Blog

I’ve recently got back into blogging and I’m really enjoying it! So much so, that I would love to continue to write more and improve the blog.

So, as you lovely people have taken the time to read and subscribe to ‘The Avid Reader’, in the future I would like to make sure that the content that I’m creating, is not only is enjoyable for me to write, but also fun for you to read too!

That’s why I have created this poll. Feel free to also leave your (constructive) comments, about what you would like to read on the blog and also, I would love to hear suggestions of novels I should read in 2018.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

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Books, Four Star Rating, Reviewing, Science Fiction

Review: ‘I am Legend’ by Richard Matheson

i am legend

 

Publisher: SF Masterworks

What the ‘blurb’ says:

Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville’s blood.

By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn.

How long can one man survive like this?

My Thoughts:

I’m not the biggest fan of vampire novels, neither have I much reading experience with the Science Fiction genre. I did join the ‘Twilight’ bandwagon a few years ago and it put me off this genre for a lot of reasons, those of which I won’t go into now.

The main reason I picked up this novel, was because I have watched the film adaptation with Will Smith and was curious to see how the book differs from the film. As it turns out, it’s VERY different from the film.

That’s not to say that there isn’t anything wrong with the film, I quite enjoyed it, but the tone of the novel, is dark, disturbing and very psychological.

The novel is told from the first person. I think the effect this has, something that the film was unable to do, was to centre the novel around the psychological effects, and loneliness that a person could experience in this type of situation, rather than provide suspense and action to the story. This novel mainly focuses on the coping mechanisms and survival instincts, that are built within human nature.

That lack of action, differs from the film; this book only really has a couple of exciting parts within it, but I was really compelled by Robert’s fight for survival and to discover a cure for the virus, destroying the humanity.

If you’re expecting a romantic, sparkly portrayal of vampires, forget it. Also, if you’re in a bad mood, then ‘I am Legend’  isn’t going to lift your spirits. This is gritty, psychological and at times, downright depressing.

So you would assume that I didn’t enjoy this novel, but I really did. It made a change from the stereotypical romantic vision of the vampire and was a novel which (pardon the pun), I could really get my teeth into.

If you like Sci-fi mixed with horror and grit, then I would recommend this novel.

My Rating ****

Have you read this novel? What did you think of it?

Comic/Book Adaptation, Films, Four and half Star Rating, Friday Film Chat

Friday Film Chat- ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

murder orient express

I have to confess, I have only read one Agatha Christie novel. Most of my knowledge of her work has been from TV adaptations of ‘Miss Marple’ and ‘Poirot’. Weirdly enough, I have never watched an adaptation of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, so I went into the cinema with no idea of what this was about and who the murderer would be.

Actually the main reason why I wanted to watch this film was because of the plethora of stars in it. It features some impressive stars such as Johnny Depp, Daisy Ripley, Penelope Cruz, Shakespearean actor Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh, who is also the director, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leslie  Odom Jr, Williem Defoe, Olivia Coleman (one of my favourite tv actresses) and finally, Dame Judy Dench.

If Judy Dench is in this,‘ I reasoned’ it has to be good.’

I’m pleased to say, that this is a very good film.

The plot of this film revolves around Detective Hercule Poirot, the best detective in the world; his words, not mine, being called to solve a crime, in some far off place. He decides to make a bit of a holiday of it and manages to land a seat on ‘The Orient Express’, one of the most luxurious trains in the world. Good gig so far, right? Wrong.

During the journey, one of the passengers is murdered in his bed and it’s up to Poirot to find the murderer, whilst the train is stuck in a snow drift.

One of the things I loved the most about this film, was the look of it. It is beautiful. From the stunning views of the mountains from the train, to the interior of train itself, this is a feast for the eye. I didn’t know a mostly motionless train could be filmed in such an interesting way!

poirot

Something that surprised me about this film, was how much humour was in it. I am used to watching David Suchet in the role of Poirot, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel watching Kenneth Branagh play the Belgian detective. He was still prim and proper, but he also had some funny one liners, which was refreshing.

I really enjoyed the way the plot of this film twisted and turned, so that I thought I knew who committed the crime, but then my mind switched to another one of the suspects. In the end, I didn’t guess the murderer and really liked the ending.

I think the fun of this film, is trying to figure out ‘whodunnit’, but I suppose if you have read the novel before watching the film, I don’t know if it would be as much fun to watch.

I can see this version of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ becoming one of those classics that is shown every Christmas and I hope there will be more ‘Poirot’ films like this in the future.

I would recommend watching this novel, both if you are a fan of Agatha Christie or if you like a good mystery.

My Rating **** 1/2 

Have you watched this film? What did you think of it?

Also, which crime/detective would you recommend?

 

 

Action, Books, Comic/Book Adaptation, Fiction, Films, Reviewing, Stephen King, Two Star Rating

Friday Film Chat- ‘The Dark Tower’ (With Spoilers)

the dark tower

 

I have been a MASSIVE fan of Stephen King since I was about 14 (so a few years now…….maybe…..), but ‘The Dark Tower’ series had passed me by. That was until this summer, when I started reading these novels in preparation for the ‘Dark Tower’s’ release.

I’m now on the third novel of the series and completely hooked, so I was excited to watch this film. I had seen a few bad reviews of this, but decided to go to watch it, in order to make up my own mind about this film.

There are some good elements about this novel which I really enjoyed. The depiction of Mid-World was absolutely spot on and although Idris Elba doesn’t fit the physical description of the character in the book, I think the attitude he conveys is perfect. I also really liked Tom Taylor as Jake.

Now, for the problems. There were quite a few elements which let this film down. I didn’t think that Matthew McConaughey played a convincing role as The Man In Black AKA Walter O’Dim. In my opinion he was a generic, slightly pantomime villain, rather than really embodying the character, as Stephen King had written it.

This novel is packed with mythology and back story which mostly revolves around Roland, his family and friends and how he became a Gunslinger. There were moments in which the characters started to talk about these things during the film and I was excited to think that the film was going to get to the essence of the first novel. However, I felt frustrated that any back story or mythology which was mentioned through the film’s appalling dialogue was simply glossed over, instead of expanded on.

For me, it actually felt like the producers and scriptwriters simply skim read the novels and then decided to make up the majority of this film. I can only think of two or three instances where any of the story from the first book, was transferred into the film. The rest, was completely untrue. These included: Jacob’s entrance into the story, the ending, the way in which The Man in Black was trying to take down the Dark Tower and Jake’s family and the list goes on.

Now I know film adaptations can’t always feature every single element of a book, but to be honest, I struggled to find ANY similarities between the book and the film.

Doing a book justice in film form is possible. A good example is Peter Jackson’s adaptations of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. You can tell by watching those films, that Peter Jackson loved the novels and wanted to do them justice. So it annoys me to think that the producers and screenwriters in charge of adapting ‘The Dark Tower’ series, simply didn’t care and were only concerned about making money. In fact I think this would have been received a bit better than it has been, if the producers had taken their time and allowed the plot to breath a bit more. Stephen King was consulted during the making of the film, so it’s also disappointing that he passed this film as acceptable.

If you haven’t read the novels, you may mildly enjoy this forgettable film. If you are a fan of the novels however, you will be sorely disappointed.

My Rating: ** 1/2

Have you watched this film? What did you think of it?

Books, Fiction, Reading, Reviewing, Three Star Rating

Review: ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ by Jodie Picoult (Contains Spoilers)

my sisters keeper

 

Anna Fitzgerald doesn’t want her sister to die. But she’s sick of helping her to live.

Anna was born to be a perfect genetic match for Kate, who at just two years old was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. For thirteen years, she has acted as donor to her sister.

Now, Kate needs a kidney, and nobody is asking Anna how she feels about it, they’re just assuming she will donate.

Until the Sheriff serves the papers that will rock their family’s world: Anna is suing her parents for the rights to her own body . . .

My Thoughts:

Seeing as my last book review was of ‘The Tenth Circle’ by Jodi Picoult, I thought that I would jump start my reviews, with another one of Picoult’s novels.

The premise of this novel seemed very interesting and grabbed my attention straight away. I think that Picoult’s attempt to tackle controversial topics, is something which drew me to her books in the first place.

This book approaches the idea of genetically modifying a child in order to save another sibling, with diverse writing.

Each of the chapters are dedicated to the points of view of several different characters; Anna Fitzgerald the main character, Kate Fitzgerald, Anna’s sister who has a terminal illness, Jesse Fitzgerald, their brother and their parents Sara and Brian  Fitzgerald.

Outside of the Fitzgerald family, chapters are dedicated to expressing the points of view of Julia Romano, who acts as Anna’s guardian during legal proceedings and Campbell Alexander, Anna’s lawyer.

Whilst I liked the idea of reading the situation from different perspectives, at first, I found the individual chapters, took a bit of getting used to. I frequently had to keep going back, in order to remember who each character was. Despite that, I think that Picoult’s characters are equally believable and well rounded. Each character had its strengths and weaknesses and I think this helped me to invest in the story.

I even thought that the romantic element between Julia and Campbell fitted in very well with the book’s very heavy topic.

The main problem for me about this book and it was a pretty big one, was the ending.

Due to the fact that this novel asks you to believe and invest a lot of time and emotion in the characters, the ending left me feeling furious and cheated. ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ goes into great detail about the proceedings of a court case and is very thorough at presenting a realistic representation of the law. Therefore, to simply put all of her characters through all of this heartache and stress in the court case, to come to a decision and yet write an ending which just felt convenient, I feel that Jodi Picoult demeans her readers by giving them that ending. I was so annoyed by the last few chapters, that I actually wanted to throw the book out of the window in frustration!

It’s not the first time this has happened with Picoult’s novels. So far, I have read two of her books and both have had endings which have nicely wrapped up the story, but have not tackled the gritty topics she focuses on, in a satisfactory way.

I’m willing to give Jodi Picoult one more chance, but after that, if her novels still continue to offer the reader a patronizing, ‘warm and fuzzy’ ending, then I will not continue to read any more of her novels.

‘My Sister’s Keeper’ starts with promise, but falls very flat at the end.

My Rating ***

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Blogging, Books, Life

I’m back!

I’m a terrible blogger. There, I’ve said it.

I could write another one of those posts where I apologize for not posting in a long time and give you the reasons why, like life got in the way and all of those usual excuses, but I won’t.

Instead, I’ve come back to what I love doing and that is talking about books, films and TV programmes and I promise you that I will do my upmost best to post at least twice week. If I can post more frequently, then that’s a bonus.

I haven’t stopped reading since I last posted though. Reading remains a constant in my life. Over the last few months I have read the following novels:

‘A is for Alibi’Sue Grafton

‘A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man And His Cat Found Hope On The Streets’James Bowen 

‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’ John Tiffany 

The ‘His Dark Materials’ Trilogy-Philip Pullman 

‘Billy and Me’Giovanna Fletcher 

‘My Sister’s Keeper’Jodi Picoult

‘The Gunslinger’Stephen King

It has been a mixed bag with my choices of reading. Some of these titles I have enjoyed like ‘A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man And His Cat Found Hope On The Streets’ and some that I haven’t enjoyed, for example, ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ (possibly a controversial choice). However, I haven’t stopped enjoying the reading experience.

Writing has been put on the back burner over the last few months, I’ve probably written a handful of pages. By getting back into blogging, I hope that this will re-ignite my passion for writing.

I have some exciting plans for future blogs. I want to start a regular film reviewing series and possibly collaborate with other bloggers, so keep coming back to see what’s new on the blog!

If you have any suggestions or would like to collaborate with me on future posts, then post in the comment box below, or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Have you read or want to read any of the books I have read over the last few months? Have you made any new book discoveries that you think I need to read?

Look out for some film talk on Friday!

Books, First Paragraph Tuesday, Reading

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

‘First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday’ is hosted by ‘Bibliophile By The Sea’. Each week, I’ll share with you the first paragraph of a novel I’m currently reading or want to read in the future.

This week’s paragraph is from ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet’ by David Mitchell:

‘The House of Kawasemi the Concubine, above Nagasaki’. The Ninth Night of the Fifth Month.

‘Miss Kawasemi?’ Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. ‘Can you hear me?’

In the rice paddy beyond the garden, a cacophony of frogs detonates.  Orito dabs the concubine’s sweat-drenched face with a damp cloth.

‘She’s barely spoken,’ the maid holds the lamp ‘for hours and hours…’

‘Miss Kawasemi, my name’s Aibagawa. I’m a midwife. I want to help.’

Kawasemi’s eyes flicker open. She manages a frail sigh. Her eyes shut. She is too exhausted, Orito thinks, even to fear dying tonight.’

Would you continue reading?