‘The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope’ – Book Review

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

If I cast my memory back, I believe it was during a local book store’s closing down sale that I first saw ‘The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope‘. The cover and title instantly caught my eye, and someone I knew it would be the mix between enthralling characters, great story, and weirdness – though maybe this is because I was instantly reminded of The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012).

Once I read the synopsis on the back, I was hooked, and bought it. A myriad of factors got in the way, and it took probably over a year before I began page 1.

Rhonda Riley certainly has a talent for describing scenery and setting the scene. What first appears to be a normal story set in the Post-WW2 era, becomes a tale possibly from out of this world. After a violent rain storm, Evelyn discovers a person partly-buried in the field of the farm she has been left in-charge of. As she wipes the dirt away, it is clear this is not an ordinary person. There are no features, no hair, no clothes, and no gender markers.

Living all alone on the farm, Evelyn brings the stranger inside, and that is where their relationship takes off.

There are parts of the book that I found unnecessary; storylines that felt included for the sake of popularity with the current-ideals. Riley managed to make it work with the story and the evolution of the characters, but I did question whether to put the book down.

Boy am I glad I didn’t! I have just finished this book, and my eyes are still sore from crying. I’m not usually emotional over stories – and maybe I’m coming down with a cold or the flu – but the way Riley makes you feel for these characters and their loss is phenomenal. This family want answers just as badly as we do. They suffer with uncertainty. We all have fears about our own mortality, and for Evelyn and Adam (or A/Addie) this is definitely amplified.

I loved how the book covered such a large period of time, and I feel almost like Adam, remaining young as the characters I’ve grown attached to age and wither.

While I wouldn’t go searching this book for ideas on religion and answers about mortality, I would recommend it for someone who likes a good story.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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‘The Man In The High Castle’ – Book Review

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Last night I finished the book ‘The Man In The High Castle‘, written by the (late) acclaimed science-fiction author Philip K. Dick.

I first heard about this book when I stumbled upon the TV show of the same name. Being on Amazon, I have yet to see any of it, but the idea immediately intrigued me.

The novel differs greatly from the series – which has been renewed for a second season – but is a great place to introduce yourself to this upside-down world.

Without going into too much detail, the novel is set in an alternative universe where the Germans and Japanese won World War Two, with America split approximately 2/3 and 1/3 respectively. The book follows several character groups that manage to intertwine. One such way in which this occurs is through a novel-inside-a-novel. Despite being a forbidden book, almost every character talks of reading ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’, in which author Abendson postulates a world in which the Allies had been victorious.

The book contains many twists and turns, brilliantly exploring the ways in which humans can understand the world around them, and how we can justify anything in order to continue to survive.

You might have trouble finding the book in bookstores (it’s quite old now, but might come back in popularity due to the series), but I found a copy at the library. There are only 249 pages, so it’s a quite read.

Enjoy and let me know what you think of it!

HULKI – Eco-friendly playhouses!

Finally I can share a project I’ve been working on as the creative writer.

This is great for those in Europe and America (even Australia when the money conversion is better). HULKI is an environmentally-friendly playhouse for kids that incorporates an app with games and a story. I was lucky enough to write all the stories and they are voiced by former BBC voice Peter Baker from the UK.


The first story is available if you scroll down the page.

Check out the KickStarter page HERE.

Debug (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.

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I love David Hewlett. I have loved him since seeing him on Stargate all those years ago, and I even got an autograph from him once. So, when I heard he was making another film, I just had to check it out. Having seen bits and pieces of his process (from youtube, twitter postings, etc.), I still didn’t know what to expect. Well I needn’t have worried, because Hewlett has made an epic film and I have given it a rightful score of 4/5.

Debug is a film that follows six 20-something year old computer hackers whose job sends them aboard a broken and abandoned space freighter. But it is not as empty as they thought. The hackers are forced to fight for their lives against an AI (artificial intelligence) that is desperate to become human, and will kill for the chance.

Having been a fan and a part of science fiction projects before, David Hewlett has seen how it is done, and he knows how to improve upon it. Debug is an awesome film that is scary, intelligent, and one you can’t miss.

The casting was also brilliant, bringing a mix of known-actors and fairly-newcomers. Like with his first film A Dog’s Breakfast, Hewlett has been able to get actors and actresses he has worked with before to take on these new roles. Jason Momoa (who plays the AI), is the same as we have seen him before – i.e. a fighting baddie – but still different to what he has done before. His growing popularity from Game of Thrones should also help bring more viewers as well. Kate Hewlett (David’s acting sister) is also brilliant, and it is awesome to see the siblings working on another film project together.

Hewlett has also written a smart script. It deals with current issues and worries we have about technology and where the line then comes between human and machine.

It does have some violence and blood, but it shouldn’t be enough to dissuade anyone from watching it.

With the reach and reliance on social media growing more and more everyday, Hewlett has grabbed hold of this and really connected with his fans. He has talked about the film – which he is rightfully excited about – and has made everyone feel as though they have been included in the process. This makes you more inclined to see it.

There have not been many reviews yet, but what is out there have been quite mixed. It may not be the newest idea – Hewlett said he watched 2001: A Space Odyssey when he was younger and wanted to make a film from Al’s perspective – but Hewlett has made enough changes to make it different and relatable to viewers of this generation.

There are no two ways about it: you must see this film. Hewlett has done a brilliant job of transitioning behind the camera, and he knows what he is doing. Check it out and be entertained!

4 out of 5 stars

A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014) – Review

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No, this is not another Taken film, but it does seem close. This film is darker than that franchise, and is an improvement that shows off its star – Liam Neeson’s – immense talent even more. It is an old-school action film, and Neeson is plain and simply awesome.

A Walk Among the Tombstones: Neeson is Matt Scudder, a former cop turned private eye. After first refusing the job, Scudder finally agrees to help a known drug dealer find the men that not only kidnapped his wife, but killed her after the ransom had been paid. Scudder soon learns that this is not the first time the group have done this, and when they kidnap another girl, he sets out to find them and make them pay.

Any review on this film should begin with: Liam Neeson is awesome. There is no denying it. He has been very kick-ass in his film role choices, and he more than deserves all of the roles he has been getting lately – not to mention all of the attention. He is not just a brilliant action-genre actor, but has shown over the years that he can pretty much play any role they throw at him. With A Walk Among the Tombstones, he is more than capable of turning a generic good-guy-bad-guy action film into something more than just entertaining.

However, the film couldn’t be as good as it is without a good script. The story – based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Block – is full of moments of suspense and plot twists that make the finished product more than just shooting and car chases.

The look and feel of the film is gritty and noir-esque, which makes it more interesting. The director Scott Frank (who also wrote the screenplay for the film) hasn’t done as much directing work as he has done writing work, but with the cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr., they have created something striking.

It is not usual for films made from books to be successful, but this one is doing quite well for itself. It has been a long time in the making – since around 2002 – and it was back then said that Harrison Ford was originally going to play the lead. Ford is a great actor too, but the novel’s author had always pictured Neeson among his top choices for the lead character.

Reviews have been adequately positive. There has been much praise for Neeson’s acting, the directing, and the script. The cliche aspects have also been criticised, though its improvements of the story and perfecting of the genre have compensated for this.

Action films have always been popular, and A Walk Among the Tombstones is an action film done right. Parents and guardians might not want to have it on while their kids are in the room – due to the violence, etc. – but it’s nothing overly gory. Enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Paul Blart 2 (2015) – Review

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I must have seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop more than a handful of times by now, and so when I saw the Paul Blart 2 DVD for sale on a local buy-sell-swap site, I jumped at the chance.

I was never a huge fan of the movie, but my mum was, so we sat back and watched it one night.

Starring Kevin James, this sequel takes place six years after the original. Blart has lost almost everything, so he appreciates it when he is invited to Las Vegas, Nevada, to the security convention. Once again he is needed to save the day. Will he win, or will Blart bust?

 

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  • It’s funny, got a good ‘action’ storyline, and a more emotional family storyline.
  • I thought Blart’s daughter’s ‘love-interest’ was Josh Peck from Drake and Josh, but even though I was wrong, he was still a good young actor.
  • The scene with Blart and the bird was very entertaining, albeit a little long.

CONS

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  • It overplays the same tired jokes.
  • Kevin James’ weight is horrible. It is not healthy, but I still think he’s an awesome actor.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Bear Designs – Hand-Made Items

*Please note – I am not getting paid for any of these ‘reviews’. They are merely articles to share the love and support small Australian hand-made businesses/hobbies.*

One thing that I have found while researching these Australian Hand-Made Businesses, is that their contribution to society is much more personal. Unlike big businesses that are only out to make a profit, these businesses focus on pleasing others. Here is one such independent business.

Bear Designs

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Who doesn’t like dressing up? I don’t know a kid that doesn’t. But with so many superheroes and characters, it can be difficult to keep up with the cost of buying costume after costume. This is where Bear Designs comes in.

Bear Designs was created by Nadine Bear, and stocks capes with a virtually-endless array of designs. Her product size range includes 1/2 years, 3/4 years, 5/6 years, and custom orders are welcome. Products can also include capes for teddies, and props for photography sessions.

Prices are very affordable, and the capes can easily be tucked away for further use.

I spoke with Nadine to hear how she came up with this brilliant idea.

“I came up with the idea as my son loved dress up and I could never find good quality capes with his favourite theme; so I decided to give it a go myself. I hadn’t sewn in years, and was surprised how much I loved making them.” Nadine told me.

“I first started making capes for my kids, and then friends, which then extended into people requesting all types of super capes. I decided to start up a Facebook page (found HERE) and see how it went.”

When talking about her products, Nadine said: “I do a variety of patterns/favourite characters/themes and custom orders. Basically it depends what people are looking for and their child’s favourite theme.”

Not only does she do individual sales, but also collections, for kid’s birthday parties.

As I said before, independent businesses have a closer link with their communities and and Bear Designs is no different.

“I was recently involved in a massive charity event, which I called ‘Capes for Cancer’. It was for a little boy in my son’s pre-primary class.”

“This is the reversible cape I designed with ‘C’ for childhood cancer on yellow being the gold representation and the other side being the super hero fabric. I made 70 capes for all the kids, and 15 for the teachers. It was a massive event/quiz night, to raise awareness for childhood cancer, and I managed to raise over $7000. All the kids looked amazing in their capes. Shawn Redhage from Perth Wildcats also came out on the day and chatted to the kids.”

Nadine’s final words echo those of other independent Australian Hand-Made businesses: “As I’m still a new business with a young family, I haven’t yet ventured out to the market arena, but I’m hoping to as my business grows.”