Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins * * * *

I've been meaning to read this book for a while. I started to do the Popsugar challenge, and this fit in with the murder mystery novel. 

The circumstances under which I started reading were a bit funny. I was on a train to London, heading from one Swan hotel to another. I happen to work in a Swan hotel. If you read the book, you get the hotel bit.

The story itself unfolds in the account of three women. While it jumps around a bit in time, it doesn't feel confusing. The killer isn't impossible to figure out, you get all the clues. I knew who it was around 60%. It's not so bad, I often know around 20%. 

The main character is Rachel, who is a bit of a train wreck. Her life is at a standstill, and she's unable to move on. The funny thing is that getting mixed up in the whole mystery is not a bad thing, possibly one of the best things ever to happen to her. Though from where she is, the only way is up.
Megan is another character we follow. Her life isn't all that great either, though in part it seems like it's of her own making. We can excuse some of her behaviour by the things that happened to her, but a different person would have handled it differently. However, after the initial catalyst some of her actions feel unexplained, like something is still missing. Not vital to the story, but the character.
Anna is the third woman. She's different from the other two, and appears the happiest. However, one must remember that not all that glitters is gold.
Apart from the mystery, that is very much the theme of the book. You see people from the outside, and think their life is perfect, and they’re happy. Then you read their diary, and discover that isn’t even remotely so.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It didn't have much actual action, but I was curious as to how it was going to play out. If you like action though, this isn’t really for you, since the story is actually a lot of walking around and talking to each other.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles (2016) * * * * *

Let me start out by saying that I haven't read the books. So if you're expecting some sort of comparison, not in this review. Though the books have been on my list for about a decade, maybe I'll finally read them.

MTV makes TV shows. It was odd at first, after all, first it was music, then reality shows, and now, TV shows. I was sceptical at first. That is, before I saw Teen Wolf. I kept hearing about it, so one day I decided to give the first season a shot. About 10 hours later, I couldn't stop watching it. Now with The Shannara Chronicles I was hoping for more of the same. Let me tell you, it didn't disappoint. When is the next episode again?

So I'm writing this 3 episodes into the series. Let's start with the visuals. Every good fantasy has to wow us with the visuals, that's sort of a given. It certainly does. One thing I didn't know about the world was that it's actually set on a future Earth. The pictures in the show never make us forget this. Sometimes boldly, like the remains of what I think is the radio astronomy observatory in New Mexico, to a toy in the bottom of a river. There is something poetic about these reminders of us. Then there are the new buildings. The elven palace is just as beautiful as it should be. They sure didn't spare any expense here.

The cast is a mix of relative newcomers and old dogs. While looking at the work of some of the main characters shows that they haven't done too much, they blend in well with the likes of John Rhys-Davies, who plays the king. There is definitely talent there.

The story itself is exciting. Straight from the beginning we are plunged into events that move the story along. No lengthy sitting around wondering about what's going on, but straight into action. I'm someone who likes that sort of thing, so it swept me along right from the first moment. When is the next episode again?

So if you love fantasy, action, magic, this is the show you want to watch. It's probably not going to be the one that tries to resolve the philosophical questions of our age, but who cares! Jump on the horse, and ride along with these characters, because it's shaping up to be one great adventure! Again, next episode MTV?