Category Archives: Reviews

Review – The Imitation Game

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Like I mentioned in previous weeks, I want to review something at the end of each month. Since, technically, this will be the last Sunday of the month, I decided to review something. And although I don’t have a “genre” of the month, like I will be having in the months to follow, I decided to write about a movie that I had previously seen that I feel as though falls under the Science-Fiction category. The movie I am talking about is The Imitation Game by director, Morten Tyldum.

To be honest, I am not usually a fan of historical movies. I don’t know what it is about them, or why, but I just don’t. Anyways, my friend wanted me to go, so I went. And, well, I was thoroughly impressed.

In short, this movie is about all that went on behind the scenes at a British facility called, Bletchley Park. It starts off with the recruitment of Alan Turing and others who need to break the Nazi Germany transition signal device called, Enigma. All of the people recruited are mathematicians and Turing, as discussed in an interview in the movie, is a “prodigy” at math, having published his greatest piece of work by the age of 24.

The device, stolen out of Germany, is much harder than it seems and has different combinations of ways to transmit an encrypted message—in fact, 159 million million possibilities. In the movie Turing builds a machine single-handedly that will try to outwit this Enigma machine because as he says, “Only a machine can beat another machine.” This quote was one of my favorite because it foreshadows this idea of the future of our society with the advancement of technology. But, I digress. One of his greater lines in the movie is “What if a machine can only beat a machine?”

Anyways, they eventually figure it out but cannot act on it all the time because, if they do, then the Germans will have figured out that they cracked Enigma. So, instead, they strategically plan what battles they are going to win so that they win the war. The idea behind that (and in the movie they use D-Day as an example) is very awesome. This idea, however, may be a little bit fictionalized as a great blog post by L.V. Anderson located here, describes the main differences between the movie and what actually happened in real life. These real life events, and what the screenplay was written off of, is based on a book by Andrew Hodges called, Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, “The Imitation Game.” You can locate that book with this link located here.

Anderson does a great job at explaining what is real and what is fictionalized. As she was going through it, sans a point about sandwiches being a major “plot point” in the story, it was really valuable. And although it’s valuable to understand these differences, I think it’s also valuable to understand why the director chose to shoot this movie the way he did. And that, my readers, is about conflict. If you ask any writer the three fundamental rules of writing are: (1) conflict, (2), conflict, (3) conflict. Without conflict there is no tension and thus we can’t really become involved in the characters’ lives and feel for them when they are going through tough times. Most of what is changed in this movie is done to create a more immediate sense of conflict (probably why I thought the movie was so great) or also to evoke a sense of poetic symbolism. An example of the latter is that the machine that Turing builds is called Christopher whereas Anderson mentions it was called Bombe. Is the name really going to change much in terms of the story-sequences? No. But it does change a lot in the story-telling and gives the readers a sense of “payoff” at the end after the “set-up” done in the earlier parts of the chronology in the movie where we learn that a boy Christopher was Alan Turing’s first true love. It is accurate that Turing is homosexual, although it seems as though he was more open about it in real life than how he appears in the movie says Anderson.

Anyways, with all that being said, this was a great movie. I highly recommend seeing it. It got nominated for 8 Oscars which is pretty impressive. The acting was great all around and Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Alan Turing did a great job in character (even though it’s not historically accurate). Kiera Knightly does another fabulous job as Joan Clarke in this movie. Who knows if the actors are going to get Oscars for their roles, but I definitely think they deserve the nominations.

The only thing that bugged me about this movie was the seemingly random ending. The movie itself is split into two different time periods—present day and past. The present day stuff seems all rather contrived and I was much more interested in the past events and working on Christopher to beat the enigma device.

What blows me away is that Alan Turing died at the age of 41 after being on estrogen pills for a year to try and curb his homosexuality. He committed suicide. Just imagine if none of that would have happened and we would have had his mind for another 20 or so years at least. The advancement we would have seen would have been phenomenal. I already believe that his Christopher is paramount in the establishment of the computer we have and use today.

In conclusion, this is 5 out of 5 stars for me. Go see it while you still can in theaters!!! If you’ve seen the movie, I would love to get your take on it. Comment below. Or, if you’ve read the book, it’d be awesome to see what you have to say on this man too!

Michael E. Thies

P.S. If you want to suggest what type of fantasy or science-fiction you want the next month (February) will focus around, please don’t be afraid to mention it in the comments.

Review #3

And the positive reviews continue to roll in. Here is what Betsy Harrison said about my novel on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/730582546. Otherwise here it is below!

“The Guardian of The Core is reaching the close to his 200 year term as Guardian and must seek out a replacement. Letters arrive at different places to assemble the best of the best for the competition to see who will be chosen as the apprentice. Prince Hydro, Eirek, Zain, Zakk, Gabrielle, Prince Evber and Cadimar are the contestants for the apprenticeship.

“The trials would sort the strong from the weak. Nothing else matters.” These are the thoughts of Guardian Eska as he finally meets those called to attempt the trials.

Through a series of four trials they will be tested for knowledge, strength, survival and more with only one spectator allowed to witness the trials, Senator Numos. After each trial, some will be dropped while others continue on until only two are left. These two will compete in the final Trial with the winner to become the new apprentice and eventually the new Guardian.

All of the contestants want to win, but at what lengths will they go to to be the final person left? Rivalries and friendships. Which will it be?

Totally unique and very interesting story line, plot, setting, and characters. The author does each person justice by not focusing on just one or two but spreads out the developing plot between them all. This story has me awaiting the next book to see if the characters and story go the way I have developed them to go in my mind.

I gave this book 5 stars. Actually, I’d give 6 if I could.

(I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)”

Thanks Betsy for enjoying the book.

MY SECOND REVIEW!! :)

Hi everyone,

Alright sooo I finally got a second review in now and it comes from a reviewer who requested my book over NetGalley. Speaking of which, if you want to read it and review it before it comes out on December 10th, sign up for a NetGalley account and I can send you a link to download it on your e-reader.

Anyways, here is the review. It comes from reviewer, Duchovney Osborne. He says….

“I don’t normally put a synopsis of the book on my site but this book is so good, I’m making an exception in order to peak interest and hopefully introduce you to a great read you may have overlooked. The synopsis below is taken from Goodreads.
{ As Edwyrd Eska approaches his two-hundredth year as Guardian of the Core, he must find an Apprentice to train under him. His title and role compels him to safeguard and govern his universe, Gladonus, as each Guardian before him has done and those after him shall continue to do until relieved of such duties by will of the Ancients. Prince Hydro Paen, Eirek Mourse, and Zain Berrese—amongst other contestants—receive invitations to compete in a quest of Trials intended to determine who becomes Eska’s Apprentice. An old adage goes: “the toughest trials test you truest” – and these events challenge their fortitude through tenuous partnerships, intellectual rivalries, and battles of weapons’ mastery. Along the way, each contestant must attempt to overcome personal demons that haunt them. In this tale of ideal dreams and lucid aspirations, these competitors find theirs threatened by deceit, betrayal, sabotage—and even flesh—as all become vital to success…}
My thoughts in short I really enjoyed this book. All the characters, world building, action and intrigue you would want in a book, well its in this one.
My recommendation this book is worth grabbing a copy. I think this is a book that will pick up steam purely from word of mouth.
I received a copy of this book in ARC form from the publisher. This does not change my opinion in any way.
4 out of 5″
Thanks Duchovney for the review. You can check out his blog at http://bookcoffeereview.blogspot.com/
I hope to get more positive reviews as the publication date draws nearer.
Thanks for reading everyone and for the continued support I receive. It means a lot to me.

MY FIRST REVIEW!!! :)

Okay so I’ve been sending out galley copies for a while now and I finally got my first review back from one of the readers. I am so excited that I’m posting all of it here! It’s kind of long but I like it all and I am hoping the other reviewers will feel the same way. This is for the book, The Trials of the Core, the first book in the series, Guardian of the Core, which you can like at www.facebook.com/guardianofthecore 🙂 Anyways, here is the review!

“If fans of science-fiction or fantasy are looking for something unique and unconventional, The Trials of the Core blends the two genres in a way that is simple yet elegant.  Michael Thies creates a universe that is sort of a cross between Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.  Written unpretentiously and with clear character voices, this is the first installment of a series that has potential to speak to both young and mature audiences alike.

In a faraway solar system known as Gladonus, twelve distinctive planets – each with its own culture of inhabitants – form an intergalactic kingdom.  Presiding over this collection of nations is Edwyrd Eska, a “Guardian” who protects and rules his republic with stoicism and gumption.  Underneath Eska’s firm exterior, bits of softness shine through as he searches for an Apprentice who will ultimately become his successor.  Six young warriors compete in a series of trials to prove who is worthiest of accompanying Eska during the twilight years of his reign.

Among them is Eirek Mourse, the “everyman” who rises from the mundane life of a pauper to embark upon a journey that leads him to seek out a greater purpose for his existence.  Although Eirek is far from robust in the brawn department, he compensates for it with compassion toward others and brainy resourcefulness.  Unlike the typical hero, Eirek’s path meanders in several unexpected directions as he attempts to reconcile his long-term desires, lack of self-confidence, and abandonment issues in the absence of his uncle and onetime mentor, Angal.  Battling his competitors as well as natural elements, Eirek – who has been unable to cast Power – finds that his inner demons are his greatest adversary as his quest concludes in a surprising manner.

Eirek’s main adversary – as well as a common foe to many of the other characters – is Prince Hydro Paen.  The son of a royal lord on the planet Acquava, Hydro brings an entirely new spin to the concept of the “antihero” as his delusions of grandeur impede the genuine affection he harbors toward his fellow countrymen and his family’s legacy.  As he intends to stop at nothing to seize the reward of becoming Eska’s Apprentice, Hydro loses sight of some of the greatest qualities that a leader should exemplify; yet, he remains a strong contender for the coveted title even as a final showdown ensues.  The prize Hydro eventually captures proves to be alternately filled with both promise and darkness, leading the reader to ponder what it could mean for the future of Gladonus as a whole.

A third finalist in the trials, Zain Berrese, exemplifies some of the deepest character complexities imaginable.  Saddled with guilt for failing to save his former lover, Ava, from death, Zain struggles with his role in the apparent demise of his best friend, Zakk – a fellow gladiator who was also slated to compete in Eska’s trials.  Haunted by visions of the comrade he fears he has killed, Zain finds himself distracted throughout the trials by the sexual wiles of a female warrior, Gabrielle, along with a battle of egos against several of their male rivals.  It’s often tricky to get inside Zain’s head, but that only goes to show how immensely conflicted he remains over what qualities Gladonus will require from its next generation of leadership.

In addition to the seductive and cheeky Gabrielle, numerous secondary characters pepper this saga of Guardian Eska’s grueling competition.  Cain, a suave-yet-cerebral prince who vies with Zain for Gabrielle’s affections; Cadmar, the beefy and often-bullheaded Garian soldier who craves the apprenticeship as a matter of honor; Tundra, a wise but outspoken elder who serves as one of Eska’s closest advisors; and Senator Numos, the portly, seemingly jovial politician who observes the trials with tight lips and keen interest.  Each of these characters has a perspective to share, causing the astute reader to theorize what role they might individually – or collectively – play in later editions of the series.

The author oscillates between fast-moving action and slower moments of rich character development, never truly revealing his hand in terms of which character is destined to come out on top by the end of the trials.  These young competitors display a nice balance of elemental magic, physical strength, and mental prowess to battle the various creatures thrown in their paths as they strive to prove their merit to an enigmatic ruler.  A variety of supernatural creatures come into play throughout Eska’s trials, my personal favorite being the fairy-like Windies.  Other antagonistic species – reminiscent of ogres and centaurs – create life-threatening obstacles that turn our young warriors inside-out to show what they are truly made of.

A common quality linking all of these diverse characters is their perseverance; the six ambitious personalities jockeying for Eska’s favor individually value either wisdom, honor, compassion, power – or some combination thereof.  Their interactions result in a compelling series of alliances, feuds, friendships, and grudges.  One cannot help but anticipate that their future paths may become continuously intertwined even after Eska’s newly-minted Apprentice finally assumes his or her mantle of power.

Michael Thies has created a colorful and action-packed world that taunts the genre-lover into delving beneath the surface of what a character initially appears to be.  While several mysteries embedded within the plot are left dangling, the story concludes with the implication that this battle was only the beginning for Gladonus – and that more ominous, and much more complicated days await its future.

I highly recommend The Trials of the Core as an introduction to a cosmic saga that challenges adventurous readers to leave one’s assumptions and expectations at the door.  This nebulous narrative dares you to pick a side, reinforcing the menace of how no character is safe from confronting an untarnished destiny.”

Thanks for reading and I hope to have plenty more of these to come in the following weeks!