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?

Advertisements
Journaling, Life, Reviewing, Writing

Review: Morning Pages

Usually at this time of the week, I post a review of a book I’ve read. This week is going to be a bit different, as I would like to talk about my first week of doing ‘Morning Pages’.

Some of you reading may already be familiar with ‘Morning Pages’, but for those who aren’t, basically this concept was devised by the writer Julia Cameron and is featured in her book ‘The Artist’s Way’ . It involves a strict regime of writing three pages of stream of consciousness, preferably in the morning, every morning. By doing this, it is supposed to rid the mind of unnecessary clutter, allow for creativity and a clearer mind.

journalling

I have been writing a journal consistently for the last year or so and found the practise of daily writing, highly beneficial. It has helped me to deal with many issues and reduced stress. When I saw the term ‘Morning Pages’ mentioned in several YouTube videos connected with journaling, I decided to see if it would work for me.

At first, writing first thing in the morning wasn’t something I looked forward to, as I’m like a bear with a sore head most mornings. During my research of this process, I discovered that the majority of people doing ‘Morning Pages’ did their pages at the first opportunity, so that their ego didn’t get in the way of writing their true feelings.

My first couple of my entries were filled with ‘I don’t know what to write’ and ‘This is stupid’. I resisted the exercise entirely and toyed with the idea of giving up after only a few days.

One morning I remember writing such negative things, that that negativity carried on through the day. ‘How could this be beneficial?’ I thought to myself, as I felt like all I wanted to do was go back to bed and let the world get on with things.

Suddenly however, whilst I was writing my usual ‘I don’t know what to write’, I started writing down thoughts I didn’t even know I had. Through all of that mind fog, I was writing raw, unreleased emotions that were so surprising, that they didn’t even sound like me.

As the week has gone on, I still complain, moan and write utter nonsense, but I’m finding that after each of these writing sessions, I feel lighter and actually more motivated to create. So much so, that I felt compelled to try water colours, something I had previously been scared to try.

Whether this was because of the ‘Morning Pages’ I have no idea, but it’s giving me glimpses into parts of my mind, I never knew existed. It’s too early to tell whether or not this exercise will have long term effects on my creativity or moods, but I think I will continue to do this, despite the early mornings!

Some of you might think that ‘Morning Pages’ are utter nonsense, but I think this practise is worth giving a go if you are stuck in a creative rut.

I’ll post more on my progress after I’ve done a month of ‘Morning Pages’, that’s if I can keep it going for that long!

Do you do ‘Morning Pages’ or journaling? How does it help you?

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?

Books, Fiction, Reading, Reviewing, Romance, Two Star Rating

REVIEW- ‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks

the notebook

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

How far can love endure?

Noah Calhoun has just returned from World War Two. Attempting to escape the ghosts of battle, he tries to concentrate on restoring an old plantation home to its former glory. And yet he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met there fourteen years before, a girl who captured his heart like no other.

But when these distant memories begin to slide into reality, the passion that had lain still is ignited once more. Though so much is in their way, the miraculous force of their love refuses to fade.

My Thoughts

Firstly I have to admit that romance isn’t a genre I normally read, but on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to give this novel a go.

What I liked about the story was Noel, one of the main characters. He is believable and likeable. The romantic story between Noah and Allison, is very well told. It does come close to being too over sentimental, but just about gets away with it.

The problems I had with this book, were contained within the later half. The issues this book deals with is, as far as I can imagine, were well told and researched. I do think that those issues could have been developed more though.

I also felt disappointed with the story, at the last page of this novel. I didn’t expect this book to end as it did. Some people may be satisfied by the way this novel ends, but I thought that it was slightly far-fetched and ruined the story a little for me.

I wasn’t entirely keen on the slow pace of the novel either. I can imagine this novel to be perfect for the lazy days of summer, when there is no rush to go anywhere. I prefer slightly faster paced novels.

After reading this review you may think that I didn’t enjoy this novel at all, but I thought it was a reasonably enjoyable read.

Whilst I wouldn’t rush to read this again, I think that ‘The Notebook’ would make a readable, beach novel.

My Rating **

Ann Shreve, Books, Fiction, Four Star Rating, Reviewing

REVIEW- ‘Sea Glass’ by Ann Shreve

seaglass

What the ‘blurb’ says:

Anita Shreve’s new novel Sea Glass represents a remarkable advance. She previously caught the attention of many readers with Fortune’s Rocks and The Pilot’s Wife, beautifully crafted novels with rich and subtly observed characterisation. But however impressive those books were, Sea Glass has the same adroit creation of character, but the prose is even more rich and allusive. This is a story of the human heart, of the demands of the past, and of the necessity for pragmatism in human relationships. It’s 1929, and Honora Beecher and her husband Sexton are enjoying their new marriage in a cottage on the coast of New Hampshire. Honora is renovating the rundown property and searching for pieces of coloured glass washed up on the beach. Sexton attempts to buy the house they both adore, but with disastrous results: like many other Americans, he is a victim of the stock market crash and is financially wiped out. He is forced to work in a nearby mill, where a labour conflict is having violent results. The couple’s struggle to maintain their marriage in the face of dangerous forces that threaten to overwhelm them is vividly and poignantly told.

Shreve has written nine novels and throughout her work she has painstakingly honed her storytelling skills with elegance and intelligence. She is particularly skilful at depicting interlocking lives, as in Sea Glass, and adroitly invests each with its own portion of love and tragedy. If you want to be one of the “early adopters” of Shreve’s cherishable novels, now is the time:

In the wet sand by her foot, a bit of colour catches her eye. The glass is green pale and cloudy, the colour of lime juice that has been squeezed into a glass. She brushes the sand off and presses the sea glass into her palm, keeping it for luck.

My Thoughts:

Having never read any novels by Anita Shreve, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I embarked on ‘Sea Glass’. What I’ve discovered, is a writer who has an incredible talent for description. The landscapes and details within the novel are so beautiful, it’s like she is painting a picture in your mind, by only using words.

I must admit that it took me a while to really settle down into this novel. Due to the story being told through several different characters, all of which are completely different, I wasn’t sure where this novel was going. With a bit of persistence it became clear.

This novel isn’t exactly a complete story. What I mean by this, is that it is complete (it is a book with a beginning, a middle and an end), but ‘Sea Glass’ focusses on one period of time, in which the characters find themselves dealing with different issues. The characters within this novel are believable, well rounded and vivid. Through them, this book perfectly encapsulates the glamour and struggles people faced, within the 1920’s. The love story also isn’t over sentimental and fits within the book as a whole.

The only criticism I could give about this novel, is its slower pace. Then again, this may be just personal preference. Nevertheless, I think that ‘Sea Glass‘ is a beautiful novel and I look forward to reading more novels by Ann Shreve.

My Rating ****

Books, Reading, Reviewing

On Reviewing…

I’ve been thinking about what the future holds for the blog and some of the ideas I have had, I’m quite excited about. Although I’ve realised that to start off well, the foundations of the blog have to be right.

In my previous book blog, I realised that my book reviews were good, but lacked a scoring system. When reading book reviews, I’m not usually persuaded entirely by the review. In fact, if a novel has received a complete slating by a reviewer, that actually encourages me to read that novel so that I can make my own mind up about it. However, I do pay slight attention to a star system any review, it would certainly encourage me to read the rest of its contents.

So, that being said, here is my scoring system for any review of books, films or tv featured on the blog:

***** Loved it. Thoroughly recommended.

**** Enjoyed it, but not without faults.

*** It was ok. Neither good nor bad.

** Mildly enjoyable. Had elements which could have been improved.

* Hated this. Wouldn’t recommend.

Whilst I don’t expect everyone to agree with my reviews/ratings, (feel free to disagree, I love a discussion on books and films!) it’ll give you a good idea of what I think. I’ll also tag each book review not only by genre, but by ratings.

I’ll be posting a review tomorrow, so watch this space!

For those of you who review (books, films, tv etc) what’s your rating system? How much attention do you pay to reviews/ratings?