Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book review: The Lady Elizabeth (Alison Weir)

Author: Alison Weir

Genre: Historical fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: It's about the Lady Elizabeth's younger years up till the point she ascends to the throne and becomes Queen Elizabeth I. There are also lots of facts on the House of Tudor from King Henry the eigth till Elizabeth herself. You'll learn a little about Elizabeth's relationship with her father and her half-sister Mary who later becomes Queen Mary I.

I was pleasently surprised that a book on history could be so engrossing. I was completely hooked from start to finish and this book actually had me interested to learn more about Queen Elizabeth I specifically and the British royal family in general. Alison Weir's writing is exactly what i prefer in terms of fiction, light on the descriptives and straight to the point. Alison Weir is actually an historian, so you would expect a dry style of writing, but her writing is far from dry and her background as an historian gives her credibility as a novelist. This is more of a history lesson with a little, just a little, sprinkling of fiction. 

The plot of the story makes perfect sense because Alison Weir takes historical facts and adds some drama and lively dialogue to spice it up a bit. It is part historical facts and part fiction. So there are certain parts in this novel which are pure fiction and some which are not. But somehow you can tell what is fiction and what is not. It is a novel after all and she does take some literary license. However, overall, most of her facts are true, just google the bits and pieces and you'll find that she rarely if ever, bends the truth, therefore you'll feel that you're actually learning something when you read this book, unlike say *cough* The Da Vinci Code *Cough*. If your're clever about it you can actually tell when she really deviates from the facts. I don't want to tell you which parts it is, just read and find out yourself. Weir has taken a very complicated subject, sorted it all out in a way that makes sense to those that aren't really fans of history and turned it into a real page turner.

Conclusion:  For a book filled with historical facts with some fiction added in, this book is very interesting and unputdownable. It will get you started on some history on one of the most influential women and monarchs in British history. At the very least you will impress your friends on your knowledge on the subject of Queen Elizabeth I and get you started on the path to learn more on other monarchs in the British royal family. If you're interested to know more on the House of Tudor, especially Queen Elizabeth's early years before she ascended the throne then this is the book for you.

Recommendations: I very much recommend that you BUY this book

Rating: 5stars for educational content, interesting spin on history, not too descriptive & unputdownability

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review: The Hunt for Atlantis (Andy McDermott)

Author: Andy McDermott

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

PLOT SUMMARY: It's your standard action adventure story where the main characters Dr. Nina Wilde, heiress Kari Frost (whose father is funding the expedition) and her ex-SAS bodyguard Eddie Chase set out to find the city of Atlantis while some baddies are out to stop them from reaching their objective. You'll discover as you read more of my reviews i suck at giving a summary to a book.

IMHO: The book starts out pretty straight forward. You think you know who the bad guys are and who the good guys are but almost halfway through the book you get the sense that there's more to the story than that. You begin to suspect that some of the characters actually have some ulterior motives and that they might not be the good guys after all....or are they? So, the book isn't really as straight forward as some action adventure books are, like for example The six sacred stones, where the characters are all straight forward. You know who the good guys and the bad guys are. Overall The Hunt for Atlantis is fast-paced and well written. It keeps you wanting to know more. The characters are likeable and believable. The main male character Eddie Chase is not what i expected of a military guy in that he's not your stereotypical hero. Usually these ex-military guys are all portrayed in a stereotypical fashion....tall dark mysterious, or ruggedly handsome or dashing or dangerous looking. But Eddie Chase, he's different. I get the impression he's not conventionally handsome like how the ex-military guys in other books are usually portrayed. He's not the ruggedly handsome type but he is charming and likeable and a real believable hero. You'll find that you end up rooting for him to be the hero of the hour and get the girl in the end. The same can be said for the 2 main female characters. They are not straightforward characters. Dr. Nina Wilde, in the beginning, is not the typical  all able female protagonist. She's not that strong or able to fight big guys with big guns with just her martial arts moves. She's a real archeologist....not Indiana Jones. You'll see a transformation in her towards the end of the book. She starts out a little weak and kinda annoying at first but she'll grow on you as the story develops.
        Andy McDermott's writing style is exactly what i like in a and fast paced. There's no overly long and elaborate explanations of things. Sometimes there are authors who like to overly explain things from inanimate objects to feelings to nature/sceneries. I can't stand long winded explanation especially about things like a clock on a mantel place or how the sun is shining onto a green meadow. This book doesn't do that and therefore i like it for that reason alone. It's what i call an unputdownable (i know there's no such word) book. My only gripe with the book is that it seems to be more about the characters themselves than a story about the adventure in looking for Atlantis. I wanted to know more about atlantis and it's history but there's a lack in that area, i feel. I think, Matthew Reilly's 'The Six Sacred Stones' plot in terms of the history of the item they're hunting for is better explained. In The Hunt for Atlantis at times i forget what they're looking for. It's like the book concentrates too much on the characters and what they're going through than their objective....which is finding atlantis. But overall it's a good read.

Conclusion: It's a fast-paced read that'll keep you entertained.

Recommendations: If you like action adventure than you should BUY this book or at least borrow it.

Rating: 4 stars for likeable plot, character, pace and unputdownability (not a word...i know. I'm using it anyway).

Review: The Last Airbender in 3D....NOT!!

The Last Tai Chi Master? 

MY RATING:  Just half a star for actually existing 

I watched this movie on it's premier day on the 5th of August. I only just started this blog, so this posting is a bit outdated but i felt i had to get it out there.

Overall summary: The Last Tai Chi Master.....opps! I mean The Last Airbender (TLA) was IMHO the worst movie i've ever watched, maybe even the worst ever made. Before this movie, the worst movies i've watched were The X-MEN and ULTRAVIOLET but after watching TLA, the x-men and ultraviolet have been relegated to 2nd and 3rd place. Watching TLA, was more like watching an instructional video for TAI CHI in 3D. There wasn't actually anything 3D about it, except maybe one or two scenes. There was very little action. The fight scenes a.k.a Tai Chi moves did not look 3D to me.  The villains were unimpressive and they way they died was even more unimpressive. M. Night Shyamalan has sunk to an all time low in his movie direction. Seriously, even Unbreakable was wayyyyy better than this movie. It's sad how far he's sunk from his best work "The Sixth Sense". One could even say he's a one hit wonder. Anyways, here's my review of The Last Airbender, although you can obviously see it's gonna be a bad one.

PLOT: The movie's plot was VERY VERY different from the animation series. Why oh why! must movie directors and producers insist on changing the plot to an adaptation movie till it's almost unrecognisable from the original. Sometimes it's okay to change a plot to make it more interesting for the big screen but please make sure that IT IS INTERESTING to begin with. Don't even get me started on how they screwed up the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) movie. They made a lot of mistakes that made it confusing for people who attempted to read the book only after watching the movie. I had read the books before watching the movie and lets just say that it put me off from wanting to watch the other movies.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: what can i say about was unimpressive and DULL DULL DULL! There was nothing that warranted it to be made 3D. I should have just watched the normal and definitely cheaper version. The special effects was there but blink and you'd have missed it. 

ACTING/CHARACTERS: The actors did not have any chemistry with each other. Sokka was not funny like he is in the animation. The only people who made the martial arts moves not look like Tai Chi moves were the Earth Benders, who were consequently Chinese and that's why i think they made it work. The water benders were Caucasian and the Fire Benders were Indians so they looked like they were trying a bit too hard to make the "martial arts" moves look authentic. I'm not saying they couldn't have made it work but in this movie they failed to make it believable. The villains were not villainy enough. They were killed too easily and they way they died was unmemorable.

THE ENDING (NO SPOILERS): After the movie ended, it left me with a feeling of relief. Relief....that the TORTURE was OVER! It also left me with a sense of regret....regret that I wasted my TIME and MONEY on this crap of a movie. There's nothing positive i can say about it. Usually i can squeeze out a few positive sentences, even for the Harry Potter movies, even for ultraviolet (at least there was Mila Jovovich, who i think is better at action movies than Angelina Jolie) and even for .......gasp.....the X-men movies (at least there was eye-candy a.k.a Hugh Jackman).

Come hither and waste thy money on this movie