Being brutally honest about books

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Film Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

I'm feeling pretty hipster because I went to an advance screening of this last night (its official release here in NZ was today). I'm not a film critic, but I had enough thoughts to share and I wanted to post something a bit different, so here we go. Not a spoiler-free review.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a4/King_Arthur_LotS_poster.jpg 
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berg├Ęs-Frisbey, Jude Law
Release date: 18 May 2017
Rating: M
Running time: 126 mins

Summary

Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy — whether he likes it or not.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is… different. Not what I was expecting. They tried to put too much in there and it turned into a bit of a mess.

The start is very confusing and two female characters die within like 2 seconds (one's Katie McGrath, whose appearance confused me because I saw her and went, “Morgana!” but it wasn't Morgana). The confusion continues as throughout the film I had no idea what anyone’s names were except for Uther and Arthur.

The music and fast cutting are great (I loved the music) but the high fantasy mixed with action is too much. One or the other might be fine, but it's too intense. (I watched it in 3D, though, which might’ve added to that over intensity.) They also tried to put humour in there, including all of Arthur’s one-liners, which are actually annoying - some are funny, but most aren’t. Again, they tried too hard.

To be honest, I don’t think it relates that much to actual Arthurian mythology. If they changed Arthur and Uther and Excalibur's names and removed the round table, for example, it could almost be am original fantasy movie in its own right.

As a history nerd, one question that really got me was what is the historical context?
  1. In the film's version of Londinium is a ruined Roman amphitheatre but the rest of the town looks how I’d imagine parts of England a few hundred years ago?
  2. And some of the dialogue makes the people seem Christian but I assumed King Arthur was pre-Christianity? 
  3. And there are Vikings? 
  4. And certain characters wear a lot of black leather and tight pants which look too modern (yeah, I’m looking at you, Jude Law)?
Consider me confused.

I did, however, like that there's some ethnic diversity. I counted at least two black characters and one Chinese character, who become Arthur’s knights at the end. It's far from great representation (the Chinese character is, of course, a kung fu expert, and there are no women of colour to speak of) but they tried, which is more than you can say for most of these sorts of epics set in Ye Olde England.

The biggest plus for me was there's pretty much no romance! (Because they killed off the two royal wives at the start! But never mind; I will forgive!)

Conclusion

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is by no means a good film, however parts of it are enjoyable, like the soundtrack and playing where-have-I-seen-this-actor-before? Recommended for fans of Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, etc. Not recommended for history buffs or fans of Arthurian mythology.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

10 Things I Need More of in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist - things you want to see more of in books ie. tropes, a time period, a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a certain plot, etc.

1. Main characters who stay single for the entire book/series

I want to see main characters who are aromantic, main characters who don't want a partner at this time, have sworn off love, aren't good with the ladies (or whatever gender/s they may prefer) or don't have time because they're too busy saving the world. It can be done. Really. I just need to see a single single character!

2. Bechdel Test passes

For those who don't know, it tests whether a fictional work includes (at least) two female characters who have a conversation about something that is not a male character. You'd think it would be pretty easy to pass the test, but I've read a surprising number of supposedly feminist books that don't.

3. Queer women characters whose identities are irrelevant to the plot

Let them be queer just because they can be, and then let them get on with it because, being book characters, they have work to do. Like saving the world.

4. Hate-love relationships

I live on that tension when two characters in the same room don't know if they want to fight or fuck each other. Mm yes. Build that tension as high as it can go. Tease me.

http://68.media.tumblr.com/ebb23bf8e147ac03380ccad7c7458769/tumblr_oahn09gPlf1r608gvo1_500.gif 

5. Bisexual characters

Especially bi male characters. They aren't unicorns, y'know. Enough said.

6. Russia

It's one of my new favourite settings, and it's so cool! (Pun not intended.) I want to read more books set in Russia, by Russian authors. I don't want to read any more books about aristocrats during or after the Revolution, though - if I read books set in that era, I want to read about normal people.

7. Lesser known badass historical women

Hypatia, anyone? Or Empress Matilda? Vasilisa Kozhina? Khutulun? You guys know how I love my historical fiction, and I'd like to see more obscure figures portrayed in books.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/%D0%9F%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B5%D1%82_%D0%92%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%8B_%D0%9A%D0%BE%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B9.jpg 
Vasilisa Kozhina

8. Flawed & morally grey main characters

It's wonderful to come across a character that you'd hate in real life but you love in the book. These characters are complex and realistic, and it's much easier to relate to someone who has flaws than to a perfect angel who can do no wrong.

9. Close & healthy sibling & cousin relationships

Obviously I couldn't relate to the sibling relationships as I want to kill my sister 103%* of the time, but I'd like to see more familial love and family going on quests together. In some cases they would complain and fight the whole time, but in others they'd work well together and get the job done ASAP, with some great dialogue on the side.
* That's a joke. It's 96% of the time.

10. Boats

I was going to say ships, but I didn't want to be misinterpreted, LOL. Anyway, I want more books set on boats! Pirate and Waterworld-type scenarios especially. Boats are amazing. I want to read about smallish groups of people surviving together on boats.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/58/Brig_Niagara_cannons.jpg/800px-Brig_Niagara_cannons.jpg 
By Lance Woodworth - originally posted to Flickr as Niagra Cannons, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10208119

What are 10 things on your reading wishlist? Do you agree with any of these? Alternatively, what are you sick of seeing in books? (I, personally, am sick of contemporaries.)

Sunday, 30 April 2017

April Wrap Up

  

Life

  • Midsemester break happened. It was very much needed.
  • This month I have: done assignments, read, blogged, watched TV and movies, and baked.
  • It's been a great blogging month - I posted lots, and I also read many fantastic posts from other bloggers. 
  • In exciting news, I've read more books so far this year than I read in the whole of last year!

Posts

Read

Click the covers to go to the Goodreads links. 
17316589  11688774  20425125  33128455 
17429737  8812221  18477295  21944747
   25256322  815786

Around the blogosphere

Mareli at Mareli Thalk Ink told us how to fail at book blogging.
Michelle at Pink Polka Dot Books shared her 5 phases of book blogging.
Cait at Paper Fury discussed 10 TBR problems that bookworms face.
Bec at Readers In Wonderland talked about star ratings.

How was your April? What did you read? Did you find it was a great blogging month too?

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Review: The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium #4) by David Lagercrantz

25256322 
The girl with the dragon tattoo still has it.

Summary 

She is the girl with the dragon tattoo—a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.

Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . . 
Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist are back to kick arse in this book, a continuation of the Millennium trilogy that's written by a different author. Lisbeth is back to her usual tricks, but in this book we see that she kind of has a caring side as well. It's really nice to see her protective streak for another human being.

This book is fast-paced, probably more so than the original series. Almost all the action happens over 5 days. That's not even a week! And the book is 430 pages! That's a lot of action in not much time. It's exciting, it kept me hooked.

We meet some new antagonists, victims, and other supporting characters in this one, but we also revisit old characters from the original trilogy, such as the people at Millennium magazine and Officer Bublanski's team. I thought this was well done as we get to see Lagercrantz's take on Larsson's characters as well as some original characters. I guess you could liken it to fanfiction.

Speaking of which, you can tell it's a different author and translator, but it imitates the style of original trilogy pretty well. It's similar enough that the writing style doesn't jump out and say, "Hey, I don't fit in with the other books!" but at the same time it's also not quite as dry as Larsson's style.

The book explores themes such as surveillance, artificial intelligence, and how journalism has changed. None of it made me comfortable, and it's not meant to. If this book taught me anything, it's to question everything. It also makes you wonder how ethical is surveillance? AI? (I'd say not at all. It's terrifying stuff.)

There's a tiny bit of LGBTQ representation in this novel. Lisbeth's bisexuality, established in the original trilogy, is mentioned again. There's also a flirtation between two supporting female characters. But neither of these things are important to the plot, which is fantastic. They're queer women just because. They get on with their jobs and their lives and their sexuality doesn't define them. I want more of this in books, please.
There's also an autistic child in this book. I don't know enough about autism to know if it's a respectful portrayal or not, so I'll leave that for others to analyse. But there's autistic representation either way.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl in the Spider's Web. It isn't a necessary addition to the Millennium series, but it's an entertaining and exciting one. While it has a cute ending, there are definitely loose threads to be tied up in the next book, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye. I'll be reading that one for sure. What should I do while I wait for its publication later this year?

Add it on Goodreads

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

10 Things That Make Me Avoid a Book Like the Plague

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book. It's time to bring out the salt, so sit tight.

http://dreamicus.com/data/salt/salt-03.jpg

1. It has only positive reviews.

Not every book is for everyone, and if everyone else loved the book, chances are I'm going to be that one person that doesn't. If it only has negative reviews, I won't read it either.

2. It has a low average rating.

If the average rating on Goodreads is less than 3.5, I'm not likely to read it. Sometimes I disagree with the average rating, but it can be a good indicator of a book's quality.

3. It's dystopian.

Nope nope nope. I've had enough of this genre to last a lifetime.

4. It's paranormal.

I've read and enjoyed some paranormal books, but not enough to like it as a genre. No werewolves, vampires, or any of that for me, thanks.

5. The blurb mentions a male character the female protagonist's age that she's not related to.

Because I know how it's going to go, and I've had enough.

6. The blurb mentions a "passionate" or "epic" romance.

Not interested.

7. "Star-crossed lovers".

I don't mind romances if they actually are doomed to fail, but usually relationships that are labelled "star-crossed" get a happy ending. False advertising.

8. "I'm not like other girls."

Yes, you are. You're just like 75% of the girls reading this book. Shut up.

9. Protagonist's life changes when she meets a boy.

Do I even need to explain this one? Just no. It's not all about men.

10. Any or all female characters are either pure or immoral, nice or mean, with no in-between.

I need my women more complex than that. Women are people, and people are flawed and complicated, not just black and white, and I'm not going to able to relate to your characters if they're not fleshed out. No-one is 100% good or evil. Do you want to be accused of misogyny?

What instantly turns you off a book? Are there tropes or genres you avoid like the plague? Are there exceptions to the rule?

Monday, 24 April 2017

In a Sentence: Micro Reviews

In which I review the books I've finished reading this month in one sentence.
Covers link to Goodreads.


17316589
The Kingdom of Little Wounds by


11688774
Gladiatrix (Gladiatrix #1) by


Looking for JJ (Jennifer Jones #1) by


 
Night Swimming by


381532
Sacred Country by
Very well-written in the end (although I didn't like all the different POVs at the start) but I got confused as the main character is a transgender boy but the narrator kept referring to him as a her until very late in the book, and I'm not sure if this is due to trans perspectives at the time the book was set, the time it was written, or due to the author's own beliefs.


8812221

Roma Victrix (Gladiatrix #2) by
An action-packed sequel that deals with some gritty stuff and has a heart-stopping ending (bring on book 3!).


18477295

Sapphire Skies by





Imperatrix (Gladiatrix #3) by

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium #4) by

Thursday, 20 April 2017

10 Books I Loved That Nobody Else Did

A few days ago I talked about 10 books everyone else loved that I didn't, always an awkward position to be in. But here's another awkward situation: when you love a book that nobody else loves. You can't rave about the book with other fans, and you wonder what you missed that made everyone else not love it. Why weren't other readers on the same page as you? So here are 10 books I loved but no-one else did.

Book covers link to Goodreads.


22062431
Goddess by Kelly Gardiner
This book is about a fascinating historical figure. She was a French swordswoman and opera singer, but that's not all. Do yourself a favour and read it. My review.

2163359
The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner
The French Revolution, murder, and magic. I loved this book so much as a pre-teen/young teenager; I even have it in hardcover. I'd probably roll my eyes if I reread it now, but I adored it at the time.

1112520
Derby Girl by Shauna Cross
I hadn't heard of roller derby before I read this book. I think the awesome concept of it is why I liked the book so much.

22677129
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
This is one of her less popular novels, but I loved it! Yes, it's long, but it's still a great book. Also has a fun genre shift partway through.

16070141
 The Elites by Natasha Ngan
A dystopian that's original and didn't make me roll my eyes? What? My review.

13627751
Dead Time (The Murder Notebooks #1) by
The series was so thrilling and so British and I loved it.

18393213
Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
A modern AU of a Jane Austen classic that isn't disguised as anything else (looking at you, Bridget Jones's Diary). My review.

15736258
Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Just look at that tagline. This is the thriller that got me into thrillers. Not that I read a lot of thrillers. In fact, I should read more...

1015198
Love in the Land of Midas by
No-one knows about this book and that's sad, because it's so good! A little tropey in terms of Adult fiction, but I was new to the genre then, and of course I always love reading about Greece. My review.



I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.