Tuesday, 30 August 2016

"The Jungle Book" Movie Review & Giveaway!

The Jungle Book (2016)
DVD Release Date: August 30, 2016
Run Time: 1h 46min.
Rating: PG
Genre: Adventure/Drama/Family
Links: Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | Best Buy

"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack." -Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

Raised by wolves in the jungle, man-cub Mowgli must flee the place he calls home when a tiger, Shere Khan, threatens to kill him. With the help of his friends - panther Bagheera and bear Baloo - Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery to find where he belongs.

Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling, this story tells of the bond between humans and animals. It takes that very real bond and gives it more of a fantastical twist because although human-wild animal bonds are not unheard of, they're not something we often see. And plus, the animals talk. I'd say that adds to the fantasy a little too.

This story has always been one that can appeal to a wide range of ages. Kids will love the story because here we have talking animals protecting a child they love from an "evil" villain, Shere Khan. Some adults will love it for that alone, but others may pick up on the underlying themes of the story as well. Shere Khan hates Mowgli and all humans not just because of the one man who left him disfigured, but because humankind is so destructive.

The acting and voice acting were great. Neel Sethi as Mowgli is a great match as he portrays the carefree, determined, resourceful character so well. Honestly, at the beginning I wasn't sure how I felt about the voice-to-CGI animal situation - I think because the 1967 animated feature is one of my favourite Disney movies, I was kind of stuck on THOSE being the voices of the characters. But once I got into the story, which didn't take long, I was able to appreciate how good the acting was. The standout voice actor in my opinion was Idris Elba as Shere Khan. He's able to be so menacing and as much as I love his accent, it's perfect for a villain like this tiger.

One of my favourite things about The Jungle Book is the soundtrack. The music is so beautiful. Going into this movie, I wasn't sure I'd be hearing the songs I love so much from the 1967 classic - but I was so glad when the iconic lyrics of "Bare Necessities" started up that I immediately broke into song with Baloo. And much to my brother's chagrin, I haven't stopped humming or singing the songs since. Fun fact: according to IMDB, Richard M. Sherman, who wrote songs for the 1967 Disney feature, wrote an extra verse for "Wanna Be Like You", which is here sung by Christopher Walken, who plays King Louie.

The visuals in this film are stunning. Being a story with a lot of talking animals, most of the film is CGI - but it's so much more than just that. The entire jungle comes alive in this movie and in any given scene, you can look around in wonder at the beauty and detail. It looks awesome. And watch through the credits because there's a really cool sequence that you won't want to miss.

Another thing I want to mention is that the action scenes are so well done. While our characters run through the jungle facing different adversaries, I found myself practically on the edge of my seat, heart racing.

All in all, The Jungle Book is a great movie that's fun for the whole family.

The Jungle Book is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD. Check out the trailer here:


And now for the giveaway! ThinkJam is very kindly providing a Blu-ray & Digital HD copy of The Jungle Book to give away.

Rules for this giveaway:

1. You must be following this blog - this is for you, my reader!

2. It is open to residents of Canada and the US.

3. If selected as the winner, you must be willing to provide me with your address, which I will then send to ThinkJam so that they can send you your prize.

4. I will email you if you're selected as the winner, and you must respond within 48 hours, or I'll have to choose another winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Review and giveaway copies were kindly provided by ThinkJam in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

"The Couple Next Door" by Shari Lapena | Book Review

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Publishing Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 320
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo

Anne and Marco Conti's seemingly perfect lives are turned upside down one night when their 6-month-old daughter, Cora, is abducted from their home while they're at a dinner party next door. They're immediately pegged as the prime suspects, but it's much more complicated than that.

What follows is a story of lies, deception, and breakneck twists. As it starts off, we as the readers have mixed feelings about the parents. Even though they checked on Cora frequently, Anne and Marco left their 6-month-old home alone while they were next door, which is really not advisable. That said, the onus is of course on the kidnapper.

What may at first seem like a cut and dry situation is actually a dark and twisted tale. Once the action of the story gets going, which is pretty much immediately, the suspicion begins. Can we really trust these people? Is everyone really telling the truth?

We get several different perspectives in this story, from the parents to the neighbours to the lead detective. It's hard to trust some of the characters because you get this deep sense that they're "off", or that they're not letting us (or the police!) in on everything they know. At first, with all the secrets that were being revealed, I was left wondering which couple the ominous title alludes to, but it's actually relatively obvious.

The sheer amount of twists and secrets that are revealed are nearly whiplash-inducing, and that makes for a pretty entertaining story. I really liked the way those things were revealed as well, because it was done in such a way that I couldn't guess what was happening or what people were hiding until I was specifically told.

Whether or not you see the ending coming, this is a great thriller and I definitely recommend it if you want a quick read that packs a punch.

*This book was kindly sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

I'm participating in Bout of Books 17!

Hi all! If you've been around here for a while, you know I love the Bout of Books read-a-thon. I'm happy to say that it's that time of year again - time for the next Bout of Books - and I'm participating! It's super low-pressure and all you need to do is set your intention to read - and then you do your best! I always love the challenges and discussions they host as well. Here's the official blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week-long read-a-thon that begins at 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure ti visit the Bout of Books blog. -From the Bout of Books team

Let me know in the comments if you'll be participating! :)

Bout of Books

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

"The House Between Tides" by Sarah Maine | Book Review

The House Between Tides
by Sarah Maine
Publishing Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 400
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo

After her last living relative dies, Hetty heads to her family's long-abandoned ancestral home, Muirlan, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. When she arrives, she discovers that a century-old skeleton has been found under the floorboards. Her plans to renovate the place come to a grinding halt while she and some locals search for clues as to who the murder victim might be.

As it turns out, Theo Blake, a famous painter and naturalist (and a distant relative of Hetty's), came to Muirlan in 1910 with his new wife, Beatrice. The two were there for a short time, and their stories are shrouded in mystery - Theo seemed to be obsessed with a local boy, Beatrice disappeared suddenly from the island, and Theo eventually became a shut-in, his paintings reflecting his dark turn.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that the writing style is beautiful. In a book where art is so central to the story, it feels right to have the writing reflect that as well. Maine writes stunning descriptions, not only of the scenery, but of the characters' feelings. Her writing is poignant and so fitting for this story.

The story spans 100 years and we learn it through two different timelines - 1910, when Beatrice and Theo are living in the house, and 2010, when Hetty and the locals are searching for answers about the house's mysterious inhabitants. I was drawn mostly to Beatrice and her story in 1910, and always found myself wanting to read more of her story. She is an independent woman with such gumption, and I found her intriguing. She's brought to this place that, initially, she doesn't care for (she'd rather be vacationing in Europe), but that she tries to enjoy for her husband's sake. She ultimately gets wrapped up in what could be considered a scandal if people found out about it, but I was rooting for her all the way.

I felt a kind of disconnect with the love story in Hetty's timeline - I didn't really feel a spark between the two characters and so when something did happen between them, my reaction was something like, "Oh...ok". I wasn't opposed to that pairing, and in fact I think it was a good fit, but there wasn't much leading up to it that had made me root for them. When I was reading her timeline, I found myself mostly interested in finding out who the body belonged to.

The mystery unravels at a good pace and I must say, I very much enjoyed this book. If you like mysteries, love stories, and switching between timelines, I definitely recommend reading The House Between Tides.

*This book was sent to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.