Monday, 29 September 2014

"The Dyatlov Pass Incident" Review | Movie Monday

On February 2, 1959, nine hikers died under mysterious circumstances, in what has come to be known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident. The group, led by Igor Dyatlov, died on the east shoulder of the so-called "Dead Mountain".

Russian officials determined the hikers' tent had been cut open from the inside, and they left their camp barefoot; their bodies were found at varying distances from the tent. No one knows what really happened that night because there were no survivors, but there has been much speculation.

The events of that night have even sparked a recent horror film, The Dyatlov Pass Incident, also known as Devil's Pass. In the movie, five American college students venture to the Dyatlov Pass to film a documentary and see if they can uncover the mystery behind the incident.

This is a found footage film, a medium I've become quite fond of over the past few months, though I know some people can't stand it. I think it really suits the telling of this story.

I liked most of the characters - Holly King (Holly Goss) and Jensen Day (Matt Stokoe from Misfits, yay!) were particularly interesting to me, and I found that I could empathize with them. Holly is an ambitious filmmaker leading her own documentary crew to the Dyatlov Pass to retrace the steps of the hikers from over fifty years earlier. It's pretty obvious that it's a bad idea to make the exact same journey that killed nine people, but you've got to admire her bravery and determination. Jensen is one of her camera men, and he provides a lot of the sensible commentary about their discoveries, as well as some much-needed comic relief.

This film is so suspenseful - as the story unfolds, there are more and more mysteries revealed and it was so interesting to see this take on the unknown events of that night. I enjoyed the whole film, but the last half hour in particular kept me on the edge of my seat, quite literally.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident was a very sad event that has resulted in fascinating theories. This film is an interesting, suspenseful, and terrifying interpretation of what happened that ill-fated night.

Had you heard of the Dyatlov Pass Incident before reading this review?

Photo by Simon via Pixabay in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed CC0.

Friday, 26 September 2014

"Zac & Mia" by A.J. Betts | Book Review

Zac is recovering from a bone marrow transplant when the mysterious Mia moves into the hospital room next door. After spending almost every hour of the past couple of weeks with only his mom and nurses, he's excited to have a new person nearby. But although they're only separated by a few centimetres, Zac and Mia never meet while they're in hospital. The real story comes afterward.

I couldn't put this down. I was so intrigued by the characters and their stories that I really did not want to stop reading. The characters react very differently to their cancers and the resulting treatments, but I found that I could empathize with both.

Zac is very sweet and funny. He knows the girl-in-the-hospital-room-next-door is new to cancer and everything the C-word brings with it, so he sends her notes and tries to help where he can. Zac is, of course, upset to be stuck in a room for more than a month while he recovers, but he handles it rather well, always remaining hopeful.

Mia is a different story. Among the Goodreads reviews for Zac & Mia, I've seen a lot of hate toward her, and while everyone's entitled to their own opinion, I love Mia. Emotionally, she doesn't react well to the treatment she needs. Given the choice, she wouldn't take the treatment she needs to get rid of her cancer. But she doesn't get that choice.

She's miserable and angry at the world after her surgery, and I can absolutely empathize with her. If I had to have that procedure done, I'd need time to wallow in self-pity and figure myself out as well. Mia is very depressed, but she's also very funny and is trying to figure out how to go on after the difficult things she's been through. Having said that, she does some bad things that I won't make excuses for. Ultimately though, I love Mia - she's absolutely flawed. On a side note, I can totally see her portrayed by Imogen Poots in a movie!

So. This is a story about two teens facing the awful realities that cancer brings. Sound familiar? Because of the subject matter and target audience, I think a lot of people will be tempted to compare this to The Fault in Our Stars. While I certainly think comparisons can be beneficial sometimes, in this case I think readers would be doing the story - and themselves - a disservice. While yes, the main characters in each novel are teens with cancer (and Mia and Gus both have Osteosarcoma), the similarities pretty much end there. These are very different stories about very different people: Zac and Mia are not Augustus and Hazel.

This is such a sweet book and it really moved me. I highly recommend it, but I don't recommend reading and comparing it to TFiOS because they're really not the same.

This is a beautiful tale of friendship and two teens brought together through one of the most difficult circumstances.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review, via Goodreads Giveaway.
Photo by Author

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Non-YA Books | Top 5 Wednesday

This week's Top 5 Wednesday topic is "Non-YA Books". Now, YA novels are great, but there's a plethora of amazing books that are non-YA as well! These are my current top 5:

1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

4. The Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What are your favourite non-YA novels?

1. "the ocean at the end of the lane" by theNerdPatrol via flickr in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. 3. "End of the Pier" by Adrian Scottow via flickr in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License. 4. "cornelius" by kakisky via morguefile. 5. Photo by Author.

Monday, 22 September 2014

"A Long Way Down" Review | Movie Monday

*Trigger warning for suicide*

Martin (Pierce Brosnan), Maureen (Toni Collette), Jess (Imogen Poots), and JJ (Aaron Paul) meet on a rooftop on New Year's Eve. Each of them has come to commit suicide. Rather than jump, the unlikely foursome makes a pact to not kill themselves until Valentine's Day - six weeks from now.

This film deals heavily with suicide and depression, and shows four people - all from very different walks of life - and how their life experiences have affected them and led them all to the same rooftop.

I love this movie. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love movies that make me cry. I think it's the mark of a good story if it can touch me emotionally, find a place deep down where I can relate to the characters' feelings and not only sympathize with them, but truly understand why they feel the way they do.

I found all four characters lovable in their own way. Martin is the bitter grump whose quips you can't help but enjoy; Maureen is reserved and has such a warm heart; Jess is loud-mouthed and a bit neurotic, just wanting someone to love and pay attention to her; and JJ is a very sweet, but utterly lost man. Each is portrayed brilliantly by the actors - I think the casting is perfect in this movie.

I think it's important to keep in mind that this is a work of fiction. A chance meeting of suicidal people on a rooftop wouldn't likely end well in real life. But this story is very hopeful and leaves the audience thinking that perhaps things do get better. Their friendship has by no means cured anyone of their depression, seeing as it's a chemical imbalance in the brain. But it made something twig in each of them, made them realize there might be a reason to keep going.

Another great thing about A Long Way Down is that it's based on a book, so you know I'll be reading that soon!

Our four protagonists have almost nothing in common aside from their suicidal thoughts. And yet, when they find each other on that roof, something changes. This is a very sweet, moving film about four people who find hope and love in the most unlikely place - each other.

Friday, 19 September 2014

"Virgin" by Radhika Sanghani | Book Review

Ellie Kolstakis is a 21-year-old virgin. She's not looking for Mr. Right and she's not saving herself for marriage; she just hasn't...had the opportunity.

Virgin is the hilarious account of a girl on a quest to lose her virginity. She's in her final year of college and is sick of having to lie about her sexual experience when playing Never Have I Ever with her classmates.

In preparation for the big event, Ellie starts thinking - well, panicking - about what's expected of her, especially down there. The last time a guy saw her untrimmed pubic hair, he laughed. Hard. She never wants to feel that mortification again.

This novel is hilarious from the get-go. I find Ellie herself really funny. At first, her obsession with (losing) her virginity was a bit much - I kind of wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, "It's okay, there's no need to rush! There are so many different kinds of people and you're not a freak!" But as the story progressed, there were just so many amusingly understandable situations. It's hard not to laugh at and love this book. And it's so refreshing to read about the things that are so rarely discussed regarding the female body.

This story, with Ellie as the amusingly exasperated protagonist, is so easy to relate to. From her nerves on a first date, to her relationships with her friends, to her panic about her pubes, Ellie is easy to identify with - in spite of and because of her flaws.

Whether or not you're a virgin, you'll definitely find something to relate to in this comically honest novel.

Photo by Author

Friday, 12 September 2014

"The Maze Runner" by James Dashner | Book Review

Thomas wakes up in a dark box one day, remembering nothing but his name. He arrives in the Glade, a place full of other young men like him who have created a community in the midst of all the unknown. The Gladers are surrounded by a massive, mysterious maze; when he sees the Runners returning home from exploring the maze, Thomas knows instantly that he has to be one of them. But will Thomas be able to discover the mystery behind being sent to the Glade?

This novel has a really cool (albeit disturbing) plot, and that's mostly what kept me interested in the story. Having finished the novel, I want more information on who or what is behind sending all those people to the Glade, and I want to know all the secrets that I'm sure are going to start surfacing soon. I really want to know!

Although I enjoyed the plot, I didn't really like the protagonist, Thomas. He's kind of a prick. I get that he's sarcastic and that's a big part of his personality, and I usually quite enjoy sarcasm, but it just didn't translate for me in this case. In fact, there were very few characters I liked. Like, maybe one or two.

I'm also disappointed in Teresa's role in this novel. It's almost like she's there because there are no other female characters in the book. She has a potentially very interesting story line, but she's barely part of the story in The Maze Runner. I hope she's more involved in the sequels, because there really wasn't much to her in this novel unfortunately.

The description of the Grievers is weird, it sounds like a blob that shoots spikes, which I have trouble taking seriously. I'd probably get killed by the Grievers as I stood bemusedly gawking at them. I found myself skipping some of the repetitive descriptions because it's a bit scarier to think about what they might be, as opposed to what you're being told they are.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but it was mostly the plot and the mystery surrounding the maze that kept me going. I didn't like most of the characters - I found them rude and irritating - and there was a lot of repetition, but it kept my attention enough to make me want to know the secrets behind the Glade.

1. Photo by Author; 2. "Teresa" by Dominique Wesson via deviantart in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, 8 September 2014

August Book Haul!

August's Book Haul comes to you late because of my computer. But better late than never, here it is!

1. The Virgin Coop by Matt Scallon

2. Drive by James Sallis

3. The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

4. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

5. Throat by R.A. Nelson

6. The Ghost of Milagro Creek by Melanie Sumner

7. Alabama Moon by Watt Key

8.  Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz

9. What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges

10. Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

11. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

12. Deviled Eggs by Debbie Moore

13. Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

14. A Poet to His Beloved by W.B. Yeats

16. The World's 100 Best Adventure Trips by Jasmina Trifoni

17. Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin

18. Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash

What books did you buy in August?

I have bad luck with computers...

Hi there! I'm really sorry about the lack of activity on here over the past couple of weeks.

My laptop died the True Death. One second it was working, and the next it was completely and utterly unresponsive. So that hasn't been fun.

I most likely won't be buying a new laptop for a little while, but I think I've sorted out internet access and such, so I should be back to a regular posting schedule real soon.

I just wanted to explain what's going on, I hope you're keeping well!