Tag Archives: review

Review – The Imitation Game

imitation game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Roll The Bones – Review

I am not sure why I am not able to upload an image on here, but here is my review for Roll the Bones, by Rob May. I give it a 4-star (★★★★) rating. And, here is why:

Protagonist and Dragon Killer Extraordinaire, Kalina Moonheart, returns in Rob May’s novel, Roll the Bones. And along with Kalina, Rob May’s excellent pacing and prose style.

In this book Rob does an extraordinary job of mixing fantasy and adventure, along with mystery. I am not going to lie that when I read this book I thought of Dan Brown, but without the bogged down descriptions. The reason I make this comparison is that Rob keeps his chapters short, allowing us as readers to breeze through the novel all in one sitting—a style very much similar to Dan Brown. Also, the mystery and suspense in it remind me of Brown’s style as well, as well as the ending actually, but since it is not overused and recycled continually it had a strangely organic feel to it.

The greatest improvement that I noticed in this book, compared to the first book in the series, is Rob’s ability to interweave multiple story plots throughout the novel. There is Story A going on with the election, then Story B going on with trying to find a murderer who is killing off consuls in the elections, and finally we have Story C which involves a love interest to Kalina Moonheart, Will Straightarrow and his actions throughout the novel. Now, although this may sound complex, Rob does an excellent job at tackling each story line and interweaving all three of them together into one dynamic resolution.

What jarred me as a reader, though, is when, all the sudden, we get taken back in time (that’s not clearly defined) and Kalina is remembering something that happened with her friend Ben. We go from 3rd-person limited to all of the sudden, 1st person and I didn’t know exactly why the flashbacks always occurred. Usually something triggers a flashback, but sometimes I felt as though these came on arbitrarily. On top of that, some of the scenarios were a little over the top in my opinion. For example, there is a point late in the novel, where Kal is nearly killed by a dragon and the whole place is about to explode and she and her love interest Will are taken to a tower by someone who leaves, Will leaves and both of those individuals make it out okay, but Kal has to parachute her way from the tower. I guess, why couldn’t Kal just leave easily with the rest of them? Why did this person know a parachute was going to be needed? Maybe I missed something, but it was an over-the-top instance that I think could have been planned better.

Now, did these things detract from characterization of Kalina Moonheart, or Rob May’s prose and deftness at crafting a story? Absolutely not. Rob still shows that he has a deft hand in writing and a clear voice in telling, when he crafted this novel.

 

I encourage all of you to check out Rob May’s website: http://www.robertwilliammay.com/

Also, if you want to purchase this book: http://www.amazon.com/Roll-Bones-Dragon-Killer-Series-ebook/dp/B00HUSDVP6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401226328&sr=8-1&keywords=roll+the+bones+rob+may

An International Review

Hey everyone,

So, more good news. Another review came in this one was from a, Nadia Batista, who lives in Portugal and has read my book. She gave it a ★★★★ 4 Star review on Goodreads. That is awesome on so many different levels. Hopefully it starts picking up some international steam now. That would be fantastic. There is a bunch of things that need to happen before that happens, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

With that being said, here is the link to the actual blog post. http://eu-e-o-bam.blogspot.pt/2013/12/li-ate-pag100-36.html  What I post below is the rough translation of what is posted in the blog post. Keep in mind that I do not speak Portuguese nor does my mom. She was a Spanish teacher for 35+ years and there are similarities between Spanish and Portuguese so that is why I say this is a rough translation. Where she got stumped, we went to Google Translation.

 

1st part – First sentence on Page 100:

-> “If water is blue, why must this one be red?”

2nd part – What does the book deal with:

-> Trials of the Core tells a story of six youngsters who compete amongst one another in order to become Guardian of the Core.

3rd part –   What have I found until now?:

-> You are going to enjoy the book more than one expects. In spite of that at times it reminds me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, this is going to be quite agreeable literature.

4th part – What does the protagonist find?:

-> There is no protagonist in this story. Amongst the six competitors the story is told, not favoring one more than another. Now, how much to like all the characters…that is another story.

5th part – ??? No idea. Couldn’t understand this.

6th part – Are you going to continue reading?

-> Of course.

7th Part – The last sentence of the page:

-> “Everyone else had to travel by foot – but time was no issue for him now.”

 

I was very excited for this review. As a first-time author, not really knowing what to expect going into this whole process, I find it really really interesting that people from other countries are enjoying my books. That makes me feel good on a whole different level. Again, I think a big reason for this is because this book deals with the issue of self-realization which is an issue that is global, and not just in an isolated pocket.

Spread the word about, The Trials of the Core, to your friends. Also, don’t be afraid to check out the website at www.guardianofthecore.com.

Thanks for reading!

Review of the movie Don Jon

Review of the movie Don Jon

I have been meaning to see this movie for a little while now. I finally just got around to doing it this past Sunday with a couple buddies of mine. I saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno a few weeks before and he discussed the movie a little bit and it made me only want to see it more.

What You’ll Need to Know:
This movie is all about sex. Go into it expecting that. It will definitely push the boundaries between what is R and what may even be considered NC-17. With that being said, go into it with an open mind. I mind it quite funny actually.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
Ever since Inception I think he has been doing a great job in the movies he has played. He is a really good actor and I really like the character he plays in this movie. A character that: masturbates constantly, has anger issues (especially when in his car), works out constantly, is always on the hunt for someone new to have sex with, but still upholds good morals in going to church every Sunday and repenting his sins.

He is driven by the fact that his co-actor (or actress in this case), Scarlett Johanson, is the one girl who he can’t hook up with on the first night. So he brings out his “long game” as it’s said and eventually swooes her into sleeping with him but only after first getting into a serious relationship.

Now with any romance movie you can kind of smell the ending coming. Well, I could here especially when he randomly meets a new (but older) woman during class. There is a shift in Levitt’s psychology when he realizes that Johannson is practically not really caring about him and just using him to get her ways.

I won’t spoil the whole movie for you so I’ll leave some of the things out but I think this movie really does a good job at sorting in the dichotomy of a male-female relationship. Men go into relationships with a more care-free attitude and woman want to be treated well and not lied to (which is definitely respectable). The issue this movie raises is when does that “lie” become something like Everest (near impossible) or a plausible idea. For Levitt the straw breaking the camels back (for lack of a better phrase) is something he can’t live without–masturbation. In fact, this whole movie discusses the role that masturbation plays in mens’ lives and shows how a female tends to view it (or at least Johansson who is a Catholic in the movie).

More over, it shows a man’s growing and learning to know what is truly important in his life. What he is willing to fight for and what isn’t. It shows that having the ideal model and trophy-life may not be necessary if, in doing so, you are giving up a part of who you truly are. I am sure this is an issue that many couples can relate to in America and actually all over the world and it goes back to “settling” or being “truly happy”. In fact, this is symbolized by Levitt’s character doing the exact same thing throughout the whole movie and walking into the gym the same way every single time until the very end where he doesn’t go to the gym but, instead, goes to play basketball. Very clever by the directors.

I truly enjoyed this movie and thought it was pretty funny. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. The actors and actresses was great. Analyzing this movie is so fresh and original, however, it loses that 1 of those 5 stars because I felt like the plane that took off when the movie started never quite landed on the runway.

Review #5 (More good news!)

Hi everyone!

Alright, I know you are all probably getting tired of me posting the reviews that I get on here, but, I can’t help it, this is my debut novel and the amount of positive feedback that I’ve been getting on it has been phenomenal and something I can’t be thankful enough for. With that being said, this next reviewer, Jay Williams, gave it a 5/5 stars and this is what he had to say:

“A well-written adventure in a fantasy world, this novel quickly engages the reader and keeps you engrossed through the never-ending action and adventure. People and places are always introduced with a brief description that helps to form mental images as the story progresses. I was completely in suspense up to the final selection of the apprentice. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Thoughts and images of the story and its characters stayed with me long after I had finished the book.”

Thanks Jay for your support. And thanks for everyone who has been behind me on this project of mine 100%. I appreciate it and it means a lot to me. December can’t get here fast enough, nor can my book launch party November 6th.

Until the next one!

Writer’s Block Press

 

Review #4

Hey everyone,

So, here is another review that came on about my book, compliments of “Teresa” on Goodreads. She received my book from the NetGalley system. For the most part pretty positive! She didn’t like the fact that it’s not a “complete” book and that there is bound to be a second one, but I suppose…it is a series after all. Wouldn’t be without other books. Anyways, here is the review!

 

“SPOILERS WITHIN:
This is a science fiction story involving magical powers, technological advances and one all powerful guardian. In this portion, the applicants have applied and eight are chosen to compete for an apprenticeship with Eska, the current Guardian of the Core. Should they survive the contests, they will have the opportunity to answer questions for approval from the ruling families and with the required votes begin the apprenticeship for a 200 year position which will require the person to remain single, childless due to the potential transfer of the power.

This portion is well written and the author has well developed story line with the different locations. I could relate to the characters as I was reading the story, not to mention some of the technology used in the story. The places, people and events had excellent descriptions. The reader is able to get lost in the storyline and wonder where the time is gone when he arrives to find, what is to me, a disappointing ending.

Like so many stories being published these days, to me, this is merely part one of a story. From the way the story ends, it is clear there will be more but instead of creating one novel they’ve broken it up into parts so that more money can be made. ( )”

 

She gave it a 3/5 stars. My lowest one yet, but still overall a good review I think considering what she wrote above. Thanks for reading along and hopefully you’ll get the chance to review and read my book soon enough.

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!

Review of Riddick

So, one of my favorite movies ever was Chronicles of Riddick. I thought the whole movie was tastefully done and it had lots of twists and action in it that kept me guessing until the very end. When I heard that a new Riddick movie was coming out I was intrigued. Where did this one fit into the story line? Is it before Pitch Black? Is it after the Chronicles of Riddick? I had to check it out. And I did. Here is what I thought.

The beginning of the movie we get Riddick chronicling his life and what happened to him after he took over the throne. He is in pain and on a planet we have never seen before and the first fifteen minutes are just him showing his survival skills. The beginning could have the pace picked up a little bit. We see him get his dog pet and eventually we see him with his dog grown which raises the question, how much time has passed? How fast does the dog grow? Once the dog is grown he sends a beacon which attracts bounty hunters and finally the action begins.

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the other movies but the connection this one plays is with Pitch Black and a guy named Johns who is never really focal to the story telling but we get his dad who hunts down Riddick in this one to find out what happened to his son. The connection is tenuous at best. The creatures that Riddick and the Mercs face in this movie are pretty unique and entertaining, however, I feel as though its really contrived that they, essentially, are underneath of the whole planet and when it rains a shit-ton come out. Wouldn’t they feel getting walked on? How would they survive if they are just in some sort of stasis until it rains?

The ending is good though, and there is definitely going to be another movie coming out as Riddick tries to find his home (which I thought was destroyed in the first movie, or they showed a clip of it being destroyed I am pretty positive).

Overall, it was a good movie. Worth the investment and when dealing with action-type movies I tend to negate looking at plot and structure and overall plotholes just because if I did that then most movies would get torn to shreds. I give it a 6.5 out of 10 just because I liked the action, but I was expecting more in a sequel to Chronicles, I was hoping for more real action instead of a “filler” movie as I would call it. I am looking forward to the next one though.

Image