Book Review: The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to AdvantageThe Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ryan’s book was the first proper introduction to Stoicism for me. I have to say I’m blown away by the concept of it.

Besides a healthy dose of Stoicism, Ryan also serves a great deal of historical and modern a day anecdotes that builds up toward one of the greatest Stoic mantra: The Obstacle is The Way

Ryan’s research and observation is commendable. And for me, as a writer, quite inspiring as well.

He brings in years of knowledge he gained by reading a whole lot of books. And turns them into lessons for his readers regarding how Perception Is Everything, and how Every Obstacle Is An Opportunity In Disguise.

This is a revolutionary book for me. One of those that will be a part of me forever and one that I’ll be returning to time and again.

Thank you Ryan Holiday for giving such a fresh perspective on things, and being an inspiration.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1)

 

 

 

 

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ladies and gentlemen, filthy boys and snarky gals! Presenting… Blackbirds, a book that reads out like a charm!

Okay, it doesn’t. It actually reads out like a derailed train set on a collision course. It’s a grim, super fast-paced story set in an even grimmer world, where each character is more flawed than a Nepali politician. Not the least of whom is our protagonist, Miriam Black.

But. It only makes this book so much more interesting.

Coming back to Miriam Black… What a superb character she is! Probably one of the most awesome female protagonists I’ve read in years. In fact, she is one of the major reason why I so much loved the book.

IMG_20151006_021148[1]

My version of Miriam! (based on an image I found on the internet)

The story is okay for me. But it’s the narration that tops the chart. I’ve always been a fan of Chuck Wendig’s writing style and that no-nonsense, kick-in-the-guts, fist-in-the-teeth attitude in his voice. I came to Blackbirds expecting all of that, and, of course, I wasn’t disappointed.

If you love a witty thriller with a touch of fantasy, set in a dark world, full of low-life villains and filthy-tongued heroes, this book is most definitely for you.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2)

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)

 

 

 

 

 

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fool Moon is your typical “Harry Dresden” book. Pretty much enjoyable (and funny as anything!). Plus a lot of fangs, furs, snarls, and howls. Few things didn’t work for me, though. But in the end, who doesn’t love a good ol’ Wizard vs. Werewolf face-off, eh?

Harry Dresden is your modern day Wizard, and a pretty good one at that. With his magic, he tries to keep the creatures of Nevernever from creating havoc in the world. As a Wizard-at-hire, he invests most of his time assisting Police (Special Investigations) and Detective Karrin Murphy.

“Fool Moon” begins with Murphy requesting Harry to look at a case regarding bestial attacks on a few local gangsters. After much investigation (and a bit supernatural help), he concludes that the attacks have been done by some kind of supernatural Wolf-thingie.

He starts to dig in. And soon finds himself surrounded by all sorts of Werewolves (Butcher divides supernatural wolves into four categories — Lycanthropes, Hexenwulfen, Werewolf, and Loup-garou, which was something fresh in urban-fantasy). All of which, for one reason or another, want him dead.

But wolves are just that. Animals. Dogs. They don’t do organized crime or planned murders. (Or do they?)

Beaten, broken, and bandaged too many times to count, Harry Dresden must now find the real culprit — the one who let the dogs out (sorry, couldn’t resist).

All good so far. But for some reason, I didn’t like Harry Dresden as much as I’d adored him in the first book. Don’t get me wrong, he was funny and imperfect and everything else that made me like him in the first book. But this time, he somehow had developed this irritating habit of feeling too much sorry. Everything bad that happened was somehow his fault. Always.

I also hated the part where Murphy completely loses her trust in Dresden. I mean, Murphy has seen some pretty bad supernatural forces at work, and has taken Dresden’s help on more than one occasion. Now after working together on several cases, how can she (how can anyone!) ever doubt the one person who uses magic for all the right reasons?

It felt as if that thing was there only for the sake of adding one more conflict to the story. Ew. The book tries to get emotional but utterly fails (at one time, even crossing tacky-meter). Again, ew.

This is not one of the most fascinating tales you will ever read. And certainly not one of the best Harry Dresden (or Jim Butcher) books. But this will keep you entertained through the end.

Talk about the the silver linings.

View all my reviews

Book Review: A Feast for Crows (ASOIAF #4)

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is no real review. Because the story is not yet done. I’m just jotting down the feeling that came after I read the last word of the fourth book.

A Feast for Crows is also a feast for the readers. Though the hunger goes unsatisfied as the book follows only the events of King’s Landing. You can tell that this is just a bridge… a setup for A Dance With Dragons, which, hopefully, looks to be the real feast.

That, however, doesn’t mean that this volume fails to delight the reader. It is beautifully written, as always, and some of the chapters really leave you biting your nails. Yes, there are no Red Weddings, Tyrion’s trail scenes, and the likes, but mayhaps GRRM never intended them to be. We are rightly impatient over the story of our favorite characters Tyrion, Daenerys, and Snow, but we must accept “A Feast…” for what it is — a well deserved pause in the saga and a build up to the moment when the winter finally comes!

Can’t wait to gobble up A Dance with Dragons!

View all my reviews

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Based on a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (All You Need Is Kill)

Writers: Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay), Jez Butterworth (screenplay), John Henry Butter Worth

Director: Doug Liman

Stars: Tom CruiseEmily Blunt

 

Easily, one my favorite movies of 2014. A fast paced, captivating, and involving sci-fi thriller.

The Story (SPOILERS!)

The aliens known as Mimics have conquered most of the Europe and are moving on the entire world.

Meet William Cage (Tom Cruise), an army PR officer, who is thrown in the line of duty with total disregard to his desire (or skills, for that matter).

In the battlefield (almost D-Day), Cage engages himself with an alien known as Alpha. And although he manages to kill it, he gets its juice (blood, gore, whatever) all over him.

He pretty much dies.

Only to wake up a day back in time.

Turns out, the freaking aliens have a way to reverse time each time one of their Alpha dies. That was their edge over the humans.

Good news? Now Cage has this power too.

He teams up with Rita Vatraski (Emily Blunt), a war hero and poster-child of the war, who had had those powers in the past but lost it after a blood transfer. She trains and guides Cage, as he dies over and over again, learning new things about himself and the aliens along the way and getting stronger.

Finally, together they seek out the den of the Mother Alien (an octopus thingy, only larger and way grosser) and kill it for good.

Afterthoughts

Edge of Tomorrow is an enthralling story of a man caught in time. It entertained me throughout. The concept of ‘Live. Die. Repeat.’ is not new in itself (remember Groundhog Day?). Nor is the concept of an unlikely hero put in a ridiculous steel suit and send out to fight the aliens (Pacific Rim, anyone?)

But a nice blend of these two concepts, a master storytelling, and some badass special effects provide “Edge of Tomorrow” that special edge over other sci-fi movies of the past year.

Major Characters

William Cage and Rita Vatraski are, undisputedly, two compelling characters with well-crafted character arcs.

Tom Cruise depicts William Cage and the role of i-don’t-want-to-do-this-shit hero brilliantly. He makes us live his frustration and cheer his actions. Action is something he’s always been good with and in EoT,  too, he holds back nothing (even at fifty!).

Over the course of the movie, he turns from a scared, poor warrior thrown into a lost war to a hero that the world needs, who, ultimately, saves the day. We sigh when he fails and we rejoice when he shows an act of bravery.

Emily Blunt is simply awesome as Rita Vatraski. She is one of the most captivating female characters you’re ever going to see in a sci-fi movie (and most badass). We are introduced to a snub side of her. You know that particular trait we find in characters who have seen too much war? Yeah, she’s pretty much called the “Full Metal Bitch”. But as the movie progresses, we get to see the “human” side of her. We can really feel her anguish over not being able to succeed when she had the power. And her reinvigorated hope when she finds Cage with that same power.

Most intriguing thing of all is the relationship between these two. Now Cage has known Vatraski for, literally, many a lifetime. But from her point of view, she has only known him for a few hours. That makes things difficult for Cage. He even starts to develop a feeling for her (as well he should after dying so many time alongside her!) but she has nothing for him. Poor William Cage.

The Tension

Despite knowing that our protagonist can’t possibly die (although that situation changes by the end), the movie doesn’t fail to keep the tension rising.

The conflicts are too graving!

Cage’s internal conflict about being a warrior he isn’t is nice — a typical trope but well executed. Vatraski’s internal conflict regarding her failure to use the power to a good use and her vow to succeed with Cage is interesting too. And then there is that superbad alien race threatening to conquer the world.

Important thing. The movie is about a day being lived over and over, but the audience, however, get to see a different side of things every time. A different exposition, a different character building, a different piece of information — the story moves quite differently each time. In other words, only Cage lives the same moments over and over, not the audience.

The scene do not feel redundant, so hat’s off to the editing team for that.

All in all

“Edge of Tomorrow” is a classic sci-fi thriller. A master story with a captivating plot, well-crafted characters, and well developed tension.