Suicide Squad (2016) | Movie Review

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I’ve been wanting to do this review for a while (I saw it when it first came out in theaters!) but I’ve put it off. But now I’ve seen it again (on Amazon video) and I’m ready to give my review.

The premise of Suicide Squad is Amanda Waller assembling a team of criminals and villains in case a massive threat that normal authorities couldn’t handle arrives. Well a threat does arrive and the team sets out for their job. They’re controlled via a device in their necks that can blow them up with the push of a button.

I enjoyed the movie but I recognize the flaws.

First of all, most of the members of the suicide squad/task force X aren’t much better than a team of well-trained soldiers would be. While I love Harley Quinn in this movie she’s just hitting things with bats and shooting with a pistol – not something a regular soldier couldn’t do. Captain Boomerang, while entertaining, isn’t much of an asset either.  Out of all of them, El Diablo with his fire powers and maybe Killer Croc are the only ones I see being above regular soldiers.

So, basically Waller’s plan is pretty dumb and that means the entire premise requires a full suspension of disbelief.

Despite this, I think the movie is really fun but I can understand why others would find it nonsensical.

Next there’s Jared Leto’s Joker – it seems this joker is getting mixed reception. Well, I thought it was “meh” the performance wasn’t terrible but it didn’t really feel like The Joker to me. Sometimes it felt like Leto was trying way too hard.

If I had to pick something I really hated about the movie I would say Slipknot – why was he even in the movie? Why is he even on some of the posters? He shows up randomly and then is gone before the action starts. He was basically a prop to show that the things in their neck actually work, I guess? Either way he didn’t need to be there – and he’s the most embarrassing part of this movie.

Either way, I liked the movie overall. Harley Quinn is probably the best thing about it. I have always loved the character and went in worried they would mess up her character but I was proven wrong – Margot Robbie did great. I also wish they would have done more with Katana’s character – I feel she had a lot more potential that wasn’t tapped into.

Pushing aside flaws, Suicide Squad is an enjoyable film but don’t take it too seriously.

4/5

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Book Pet Peeves

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Everyone has their pet peeves when it comes to books. Some of mine are probably pretty common. But I would like to do a little ranting myself so that’s why I decided to do mthis post. These pet peeves are about both the book’s story content and physical aspects of the book itself (cover content, etc.) Keep in mind, just because I have these pet peeves doesn’t mean I won’t like a book that contains them – sometimes they can be overlooked if everything else is solid. Indeed, some of my favs have these pet peeves.

I’ll list the storytelling pet peeves first!

Love Triangles

A lot of people complain about this one so that should tell writers and publishers something. It’s also a bigger problem in Young Adult books. To me, it’s just a lazy way to keep reader interest and they often take over the plot. Sometimes love triangles can be well done but most of the time they are a waste of time.

Stretching out book into a series

I prefer stand-alone novels. It will also take a lot for me to be dedicated enough to read an entire series, especially one that’s super long. And some books will stretch there plots into a series when it doesn’t really need it.  There’s also a higher chance of the author ruining the original characters and losing their touch.

Romance Novel in Disguise

Some books will make you think that their plot is an action-packed sci-fi thriller only to find out that 68% of the book is about the romance. If your book’s a romance I feel you should market it as such – and, I mean, romance novels sell extremely well so what’s the motivation?

Present Tense

I can’t stand reading a book in present tense. Why? I can’t explain. It just annoys me greatly for some reason…there’s almost a sense of rushing and incompleteness. It’s hard to explain.

Cold/Emotionless Main Characters meant to be “badasses”

To me there’s nothing hot about a guy that never shows emotion, is always grumpy and serious. There isn’t anything empowering about a woman who shows the same traits either. They aren’t cool or badasses…they’re boring. But I don’t mind if a character is emotionally distant as long it’s a trait they have to overcome.

Pseudo-Diversity

Ok, I love diversity in a book and as a black female…I like seeing black female characters. But a lot of these authors just throw in a gay, black etc. character that has no personality. To me, if they are not as compelling or well-written as the other characters then it’s just pseudo diversity. It’s either make them good or just stick to the characters you really want to write.

So those are the story telling pet peeves from the top of my head and not for physical attributes of a book:

Not clearly saying the series number.

Seriously, put what number the book is in the series clearly on the cover somewhere. I think not doing it might be a ploy to get people to actually buy the wrong book and then have to automatically buy the rest of the books in the series.

Comparing a book to a popular series to sell.

Sometimes there will be a sticker on a book that says something to leach off a popular series: “Just like Harry Potter!” “Readers of The Hunger Games will love this!” this is just annoying.  Especially when sometimes said book isn’t even like the series mentioned.

Cover with just a face.

I don’t want photograph of a random girl staring at me on my cover…not to mention this type of design just seems too easy. I’ll put an example:

dod

Nope.

Eliza Haywood (c.1693-1756) | Author Exploration

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Eliza Haywood (1693? – 1756) was a prolific British author of the 18th century. She published over 70+ works, and was primarily known as a novelist. Many details of her life seem to be disputed, including the year she was born.

Haywood enjoyed a successful writing career. Her first and most famous novel, was Love in Excess. However, she did eventually fall into obscurity and wasn’t rediscovered until the 1980s.

The most important part of her legacy is that she helped to innovate the romance novel. This can be seen because Love in Excess has a lot of the tropes you find in modern historical romance novels.

Fantomina; or Love in a Maze is another important work of hers – it’s a short story that follows a woman that takes on various identities to observe how differently a man will treat her. This was the first work I read by her – I thought it was enjoyable to read although it did end poorly.

Throughout the story the power of female sexuality is shown but by the end it becomes a typical fallen woman story. However, I wouldn’t say the story is all that pro-woman anyway since the main character is a woman desperate for the attention and validation of a man.

Fantomina along with Love in Excess probably get studied the most. Although, you can find some of her other work in anthologies and such.

Even though some scholars are fascinated by Haywood, I’ve noticed that reaction to her work online seems to be mixed to negative. For example, Love in Excess has low ratings on both Goodreads and Amazon.

However, I think if you’re interested in women and literature she is a good figure to check out due to the fact she was fairly innovative and successful.

Doctor Strange (2016) | Movie Review

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I’ll start out by saying that I went in expecting not to like Doctor Strange… I’m no fan of Marvel films and the trailers didn’t win me over.

Well, I was glad to be proven wrong (for the most part.) The movie turned out to be pretty good.

It was a unique film with plenty of action. I liked the character development of Dr. Strange – he starts out as this arrogant guy and eventually must learn to overcome his ego. A classic character type but it was done particularly well here. I’m no fan of Benedict Cumberbatch but he did well here.

Also the costume and cape are just plain cool.

The other characters are all right but they didn’t really stand out that much… except for Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, she killed it.

I thought the action sequences and effects were fun to watch. However, at times the screen looked like a kaleidoscope – just patterns shifting and turning. I didn’t mind it overall but at times it was a bit much.

So, in the end, the film was good but I did have some issues.

My first issue is that all the humor seemed force… one or two of the jokes were funny but most of the time it was just awkward. I fine with jokes but only when they’re executed well.

And my other issue was the final showdown with the villain was just plain dumb and a cop out. That’s all I’ll say without spoiling things.

Anyways, everything else was good for the most part.

3.5/5

Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women by Aemilia Lanyer | Poetry Analysis

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Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women is a poem by Aemilia Lanyer (1569-1645) that comes from her work Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum and when I first read it I was fascinated – the poem basically makes an argument that blaming all women for Eve’s sin is silly, and that if she is to be blamed then Adam is just as at fault. She also makes a defense for Eve’s actions.

Lanyer is very bold with this work and that’s what I like about it. She turns societal notions about women upside down by using them in her argument.

Here are some excerpts from the poem:

“Till not your indiscretion sets us free,
And makes our former fault much less appear;
Our mother Eve, who tasted of the tree,
Giving to Adam what she held most dear,
Was simply good and had no power to see;
The after-coming harm did not appear:
The subtle serpent that our sex betrayed
Before our plot had laid”

Here, the speaker argues for Even’s innocence – she was ignorant of the consequences and only offered Adam the apple out of love for him.

“But surely Adam cannot be excused;
Her fault though great, yet he was most to blame.
What weakness offered, strength might have refused;
Being lord of all, the greater was his shame;
Although the serpent’s craft had her abused,
God’s holy word ought all his actions frame;
For he was lord and king of all the earth,
Before poor Eve had either life or breath,”

So, basically Adam is more at fault because he should have known better. Still, it could be that the speaker’s goal is to show if you’re going to blame one, you can blame the other. The conclusion should be that either both are punished for their actions or no one takes the blame for what another committed.

“Whom, if unjustly you condemn to die,
Her sin was small to what you do commit,
All mortal sins that do for vengeance cry
Are not to be compared unto it;
If many worlds would altogether r try
By all their sins the wrath of God to get,
This sin of yours surmounts them all as far
As doth the sun another little star

The speaker’s argument turns to discussing how it was men who betrayed Jesus — the greatest sin of all.

“Then let us have our liberty again,
And challenge to yourselves no sovereignty.
You came not in the world without our pain,
Make that a bar against your cruelty
Your fault being greater, why should you disdain
Our being your equals, free from tyranny?
If one weak woman did offend,
This sin of yours hath no excuse nor end.”

Again, this emphasis that men have committed a greater sin – and that if women are to be punished for there’s then men should be punished as well.

This poem is a pretty harsh one but I didn’t really get “punish men” out of it, I got the idea that entire groups shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a biblical figure. I imagine this was a radical idea in Lanyer’s time.

Foe by JM Coetzee | Book Review

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I’m not fan of Robinson Crusoe, I found reading the book to be a boring and agonizing experience for the most part. Perhaps this why I was able to enjoy Foe more than Wide Sargasso Sea (I love Jane Eyre, so I wanted that book to be better). Foe also has a sense of incoherence but I felt the author manages to do it right in this case.

The premise follows Susan Barton, she was a castaway on a deserted island where she ran into a man named Cruso and his servant Friday. Once off the island she, with Friday by her side, seeks out author Daniel Foe to tell her story.

The parallels to Robinson Crusoe are obvious but the novel goes beyond that. It’s a book that shows how storytelling itself can be manipulative and deceiving.

Susan struggle to get her story told mirrors the experience of many who have a story to tell – they often can’t tell it themselves and have to seek another out to do it for them. And when they do find someone that person tries to change and bend the story to their own will.

Foe is a book that goes beyond just a response text – it is able to take elements of the more famous novel and tell a dark truth about humans and storytelling.

4/5

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys | Book Review

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Wide Sargasso Sea is a “response” to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It gives the infamous madwoman, Bertha, in Bronte’s novel a backstory. This is a great idea for a book – despite not appearing in the Bronte’s book very much she has fascinated readers and critics alike. Including me.

Unfortunately, Wide Sargasso Sea proved to be a disappointment.

It’s not that it’s terrible…it’s just not what I wanted it to be. The problem is the book doesn’t feel like a complete work – it’s very incoherent it doesn’t develop the characters enough.

Reading it was like reading a bunch of random sentences mashed together. And I mean, I want Bertha (in Rhys novel she’s originally called Antoinette before being renamed.) to have a well-developed coherent story.

And that’s not what I got. It’s hard to even explain Wide Sargasso Sea completely because it doesn’t even feel complete.

This book is critically acclaimed, but I don’t see why. This is not a book that can function on its own – it can’t separate itself from Jane Eyre and that alone makes me question its greatness. But maybe I’m being too harsh.

Wide Sargasso Sea just isn’t for me and it would be nice if Bertha’s story was told by someone else.

2.5/5