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The Exalted Gate
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
(This review can be found on my blog <a href="">The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl</a>.

I absolutely love the cover of this book. It is gorgeous!! Anyway, this book has ten stories in it, so I will review and rate each one individually.

Judith (of an undisclosed age) is a girl that hates wearing shoes. However, she is in a play where she has to play a Polish tramp. She doesn't want to wear shoes, but the director says even tramps wear shoes. She finds some beat up looking boots in the prop room and puts them on. As soon as they are on her feet, it's like they have a mind of their own. They take Judith where they want to go. What ensues in an adventure that Judith won't soon forget.

I thought the story of Boots was a really cute and interesting read. I definitely think this will appeal to children of all ages. The only slight problem was with punctuation, but that's nothing that major. Judith is an interesting girl. I'd recommend this story.

I'd give Boots a 4.5 out of 5.
Five Gifts

Lonia is a thirteen year old girl whose parents are already nagging her to get married. (Yeah, it's a bit much, but it does say in the story that this was way back in the day). She'd rather spend her days in the children's glade talking to her elf friend, Pintak. One day, Pintak is kidnapped by a mean old wizard, and Lonia decides that she must go rescue him. She is given five gifts from different creatures of the forest to help her on her quest.

I was impressed with this story, and I found it quite interesting. There's also a lesson to be learned about experimenting on animals. Lonia was definitely a brave little girl and was willing to risk everything to save her friend. There are a few punctuation mistakes and a mispelt word, but other than that, this story was a good one.

I'd give Five Gifts a 5 out of 5.

Sintinko is a story set in Japan back when it was all emperors and generals. The emperor is jealous of Sintinko and wants to have him killed. It's only because of Ilyo, Sintinko's love interest, that the emperor spares his life. However, Sintinko is banished from Japan until he can find a maple tree that can sit in the hand of the emperor. Ilyo and Sintinko know that they will most likely never see each other. Unbeknownst to Sintinko and everyone else, Ilyo disguises herself as a geisha to help Sintinko on his journey. Love and loss are the themes of this story.

This was such a bittersweet love story. I felt sorry for both Sintinko and Ilyo. Sintinko thought he would never see his beloved again and swore off any type of relationship. Ilyo had her beloved right there in front of her, yet she couldn't do anything about it.

The names, being Japanese, were a bit hard to pronounce, but it's easy to get past that since the story is so strong. Speaking of names, this story even lets us know how the Bonsai tree got its name.

There's a few punctuation mistakes, but nothing that takes away from the story.

I think this story would be better suited for ages 11+. Personally, I found the story a bit slow, but not painfully slow.

I'd give Sintinko a 3.5 out of 5.

Tivurambhat is the story of a ghost by the same name of the title who helps people out in times of need in India. A mean man forces people to work for him by letting them borrow money, putting the interest up, and paying them such low wages they can never afford to pay him pack. One man decides to do something about it and goes to Tivurambhat for help.

I loved the message behind the story. Towards the ending, it even had me smiling. I couldn't pronounce the names since they were all Indian names, so I just shortened them so my American self could pronounce them. I loved the character of Tiv. He kind of reminded me of an American version of Casper for some reason. I really enjoyed the conversation between Pradesh and Tiv the most. This was such a happy story!

Again, there's some punctuation mistakes and a few grammar ones as well, but the story itself was excellent.

I'd give Tivurambhat a 5 out of 5.
St. Penalyn's Well

St Penalyn's Well tells the story of Rebecca (of an undisclosed age) who ventures into an overgrown garden with her dog. She stumbles across a well with an inscription. It is while reading this inscription that she becomes trapped in the well. Lucky for her, she meets an elf named Opickle who keeps her company and gives her the inspiration she needs to find her way out.

This was definitely an interesting story. I was hooked all the way through. It's a story about friendship amongst diversity and not giving up. I found Opickle to be just a tad bit of a snob but not enough to put me off the story.

A few punctuation mistakes throughout the story but not enough to be distracting.

St. Penalyn's Well gets a 5 out of 5 from me.
Quint and Trout's Mistake

Quint and Trout's Mistake is a story I didn't finish because of the name calling and making fun of someone who is overweight. It starts out innocently enough. A lake is being overrun by a white smelly substance. Two brothers, Quint and Trout, talk their friend Ned into investigating why this is happening. Ned swims down to the bottom of the lake and finds an overweight creature living in a cave who has been kicked out of his house. This is when the name calling starts, and I stopped reading.

I do not like stories aimed at children that condone name calling of any sort whether it be because of weight, disabilities, race, etc. Children do not need to read something like this and feel bad about themselves or view it as an excuse to tease others. I was very disappointed something like this was in a children's book.

Quint and Trout's Mistake gets a 0 out of 5 from me. What a vile story!

Densus is a boy who was born with blue fingernails and blue streaks in his hair. This is because he has a destiny to fulfill. When a crab named Arnold asks him if he'd go tell a giant that he has found a perfect wife for him, Densus agrees because it's his destiny even if there's a possibility the giant could kill him.

This is a story about destinies. It lets us know that we all have destinies if only we weren't too busy trying to find out what they are. This is a fun story which I think children would love! I loved Arnold the crab!! I think a majority of children would love him.

Again, there's a few punctuation and grammar mistakes but nothing major.

I'd give Densus a 5 out of 5.
Alice's Granddaughter

Alice's Granddaughter takes place years after Alice in Wonderland. Alice's granddaughter, Alicia, is recruited by a thief named Cheng to go down into a rabbit hole to get him a yellow dragon. Alicia discovers that things in Wonderland haven't changed much.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story! I'm a sucker for everything Alice in Wonderland-esque, and this was no exception! I loved how the author still managed to preserve the original Wonderland in his tale and how he even managed to keep the style of writing similar to that of Lewis Carroll. My favorite character was definitely the talking table. My only gripe is that I wish this story would've been longer!

As like with the previous story, there are some punctuation and grammar mistakes that can be overlooked.

Alice's Granddaughter gets a bit 5 out of 5.
The Dragon

The Dragon is a story about death. In this story, we follow a dragon in her very last moments as she dies of what I assume to be old age. We get to see her memories of when she was her prime and when she takes her last breath.

This is a sad story and probably one for the older children unless younger children can handle the topic of death. It's not written in a morbid way though. It's actually written quite beautifully especially when we get to see the memory of the dragon in her prime. I think this story can show that death is not always bad.

There are grammar and punctuation mistakes but nothing that deters from the story.

The Dragon gets a 3.75 out of 5.
The Wisdom of a Dog

The Wisdom of a Dog is about a man named Keith and his dog who go on an adventure and wind up in a crystal city. Keith must found out who is destroying the city and save it.

This story was a good read, and I think most children would enjoy it especially as it involves a talking dog. I enjoyed how the author even placed his own dialogue in the story. This is a good versus bad story that shows that bad people never win.

Again, there are grammar and punctuation mistakes, but it doesn't take away from the story.

The Wisdom of a Dog gets a 3.5 out of 5.

The Exalted Gate by Daniel Nanavati averages out to a 3.5 out of 5. I'd definitely recommend this book to old and young alike!

(I received a free physical copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review).
Freiyon Fables: A Tail to Remember
Freiyon Fables: A Tail to Remember
Justin T Hunt | 2017 | Fiction & Poetry
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
What I liked best about this book is that it is a rare occasion when I can honestly say that the ending, specifically the Epilogue is my favorite part. (0 more)
the writing style felt simplified and rushed at the same time. (0 more)
Honest Review for Free Copy of Book
Freiyon Fables: Tail to Remember by Justin Hunt was a book that I could only compare to one other book and that would be Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. The Prologue promises an amazing tale, yet I feel as if the book doesn't quite live up to it. So even though I compare it to Narnia in style it is nothing like it when it comes to the actual material. The complete book itself is separated into three smaller books (or parts) that is then spread out into chapters.

In A Tail to Remember a squirrel by the name of Micklang escapes from a zoo and in the process is electrocuted, giving his tail a lightning-bolt shape. He then falls into another world in an Alice in Wonderland – down the rabbit hole style. In this new world, Micklang receives dreams about his warrior-self telling hi how to become that version of himself. During his journey, Micklang makes some surprising new friends and is reunited with some he has met before in the human world. It is with these friends that Micklang travels this new world, mapping it out.

At one point Micklang comes across an island where his traveling companions are captured and must rescue them before their captors harm them. Then after abandoning ship in a bad storm Micklang finds himself on yet another island, but this one is home to only other lightning-tail animals. Towards the end, Micklang goes back to one of the first islands that he visited in this new world, now called Freiyon. It is there that Micklang and his friends fight in the first battle in a war between The Grabbers and King Karel. It is during this battle that Micklang’s story ends but it is not the end of the stories about Freiyon. This is because a little human boy is told about Freiyon by his mother and decides it is time for him to visit this land of talking animals.

What I liked best about this book is that it is a rare occasion when I can honestly say that the ending, specifically the Epilogue is my favorite part. The epilogue tied the entire story together with the prologue when frankly I originally was confused about how it all connected. This actually redeemed the entire book in some ways. What I did not like was that the talking animals and being in a different world or realm gave the book a Chronicles of Narnia feel. Normally that would be a good thing but in this case, the writing style felt simplified and rushed at the same time. Also, this book felt like it was intended for children up until book three. In Book Three: The Switch Between Stories the phrases “What the HELL” and “how the HELL” were both used and that doesn't feel kid-friendly.

It was hard for me to pick a target audience for this book. My best guess would be for early middle school students and late elementary students, age-wise anyway. This is because the length might make it difficult for some elementary students (and some parents may not be thrilled about all the violence, who knows). Yet the simplified writing style may (or may not) appeal to older readers. Most likely it would be dry and boring for anyone out of middle school. That being said I rate this book a 2 out of 4. This is because this story falls in that dangerous zone between being simple enough for young readers and having just enough detail to feel rushed. The action moves from one major event to another without much of a break in between yet the story is still interesting
Spinning Silver
Spinning Silver
Naomi Novik | 2018 | Fiction & Poetry
9.3 (4 Ratings)
Book Rating
I had previously read Uprooted, and adored it, so I was eager to get my hands on this book as soon as it came out. I was very excited to see it as a Book of the Month choice for July, and quickly made it my pick!

I received the book last weekend while I was at Anthrocon, so I didn't get a chance to sit down with it until yesterday. (It officially came out Tuesday.) I proceeded to read straight through the entire book because it was SO. GOOD. Novik writes absolutely ENTHRALLING fairy tales. And in Spinning Silver, she has written fae as beautiful, alien, capricious, and as absolutely bound by rules as they should be. Doing a thing three times, even by normal means, gives one the power to ACTUALLY do the thing; in Miryem's case, turning the Staryk's silver into gold (by creative buying and selling) means she gains the power to LITERALLY turn silver into gold. Which then gets her into the trouble the rest of the book is built on.

One of my favorite lines was very near the end of the book, about the Staryk palace:

"The Staryk didn't know anything of keeping records: I suppose it was only to be expected from people who didn't take on debts and were used to entire chambers wandering off and having to be called back like cats."

My only real quibble with the book is that it shifts viewpoints between at least five characters, and doesn't start their sections with names or anything, so it takes a few sentences to figure out who's talking. It never takes too long, but it did occasionally make me go "Wait, who is this....ah, okay."

The plotlines weave in and out of each other's way for most of the book before all colliding into each other at the end and showing how everything connects. I was definitely confused on occasion, but it was that enchanting Alice-in-Wonderland kind of confusion more than actual puzzlement. The book is, by turns, a mix of Rumpelstiltskin, Tam-Lin, Winter King vs Summer King, Snow Queen, and a little Hansel and Gretel. I love seeing elements of so many fairy tales woven together and yet still remaining recognizable.

And the ending! Oh, the ending was absolutely, marvelously perfect.

I loved this book, just as much as I loved Uprooted. I can't wait to see what fairy tales Novik spins next!

You can find all my reviews at
Dodger&#039;s Doorrway
Dodger's Doorrway
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Dodger’s Doorway, by Alessandro Reale, is a fantasy adventure story that explores retelling classic fairy tales and fables in unique and fun ways. The book follows main character Mark ‘Dodger’ Bishop, a teenager from our world who is tired of his life. While struggling with divorcing parents, and school bullies, and getting through his senior year of high school, Dodger finds a doorway to another world. This world is inhabited by the fairytale characters of our childhoods. Dodger meets Humpty Dumpty and Rumpelstiltskin and many more classic characters. Dodger is taken on an exciting journey which has its dangers and challenges. Along the way, Dodger must work to not only save Storyworld but work through his own fears and struggles.

Dodger’s Doorway is a fantastical adventure that makes for a super fun read. The melded fairytale worlds is a theme we have seen more and more of, which I love, and I think that Reale did a masterful job of combining the magical nostalgia of the characters we know and love as well as bringing in a unique twist and creating new life in this classic characters. I particularly liked the portrayal of Humpty Dumpty. I think that Humpty is a character that is often veered away from as being too hard or not interesting enough to expand upon, but Reale takes him and makes him into an exciting warrior, which I thought was very clever. Reale’s Storyworld combines the magical innocence and dark origins of the stories and characters he chooses which gives the story a real sense of danger and epic adventure that makes the book a quick and thrilling read. Reale took inspirational from a wide range of stories; from Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and many more. I loved the variety and enjoyed seeing Reale’s spin on the characters.

The book itself is well-written, and the arc works well to make for a book that is hard to put down. Dodger is a great character in that he has a lot of growth throughout the book and creates real feeling relationships with the fairytale characters he meets. I liked that Reale brought the book to a young adult read instead of a children’s book by playing with the dark sides of fairytales, as well as making Dodger a teenager dealing with very real young adult issues.

Dodger’s Doorway is an enchanting story with a lot of heart. I very much enjoyed reading it. If you are a fan of fantasy stories, particularly tales where characters find magical worlds, a personal childhood dream of mine and many others I am sure, then I would highly recommend giving this book a read!

Sarah (7504 KP) created a post in Bookworms

Apr 3, 2018  
A couple of years ago Goodreads posted a list of their 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime, as voted by users. We may have moved on a little, but personally I think this list still stands.

What do you think? How many have you read?

1. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
2. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
3. The Diary of Anne Frank - Anne Frank
4. 1984 - George Orwell
5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - JK Rowling
6. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
7. The Great Gatsby- F Scott Fitzgerald
8. Charlotte's Web - EB White
9. The Hobbit- JRR Tolkien
10. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
11. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
12. Jane Eyre- Jane Austen
13. Animal Farm - George Orwell
14. Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
15. The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
16. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
17. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
18. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
19. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
20. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
21. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
22. The Lord of the Flies - William Golding
23. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
24. Night - Elie Wiesel
25. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
26. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
27. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
28. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
29. Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
30. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
31. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
32. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
33. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
34. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
35. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
36. The Giver - Lois Lowry
37. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
38. Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein
39. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
40. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
41. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
42. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
43. Macbeth - William Shakespeare
44. The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
45. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
46. The Holy Bible: King James version
47. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
48. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
49. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
50. East of Eden - John Steinbeck
51. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
52. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
53. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
54. The Stand - Stephen King
55. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
56. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling
57. Enders Game - Orson Scott Card
58. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
59. Watership Down - Richard Adams
60. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
61. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
62. A Game of Thrones - George RR Martin
63. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
64. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
65. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
66. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
67. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - JK Rowling
68. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
69. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
70. Celebrating Silence: Excerpts from Five Years of Weekly Knowledge - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
71. The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
72. The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
73. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
74. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
75. Dracula - Bram Stoker
76. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
77. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
78. The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe
79. The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
80. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
81. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
82. The Time Travelers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
83. The Odyssey - Homer
84. The Good Earth - Pearl S Buck
85. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
86. And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
87. The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough
88. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
89. The Glass Castle - Jeanette Walls
90. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
91. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
92. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
93. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
94. Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse
95. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
96. Beloved - Toni Morrison
97. Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese
98. The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
99. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
100. The Story of My Life - Helen Keller
Show all 14 comments.

Angelicalynnn (21 KP) Jul 6, 2018

I’ve read 30 not to bad but still plenty I would love to read!


iamsara (128 KP) Jul 19, 2018

14 ?


Dana (24 KP) rated Heartless in Books

Mar 23, 2018  
Marissa Meyer | 2017 | Children
8.3 (33 Ratings)
Book Rating
Let me start off by saying that I love Marissa Meyer's writing so much, but this book wasn't as good for me as The Lunar Chronicles.

This was a really cute and quirky book with so many puns! I loved all of the puns about baking, they gave me life. Especially since I love puns and I love baking, so putting those two things together made me so happy!

This had a very interesting story, one we all know the end of, just not how the story will get to that point. If you have read or even know of Alice in Wonderland, you know that the Queen of Hearts is a villain, so it was interesting to see how she got to be that way. I am always a little hesitant to read the villain backstories because a lot of times, authors will make them out to be the heroes and completely go against what the audiences know about these beloved villains. While Meyer does have some instances of this, she also is able to build up the story enough to the point where it may be believable.

So there are going to be some plot spoilers in this paragraph, so if you do not want to read them, skip to the next paragraph! Okay, so the plot goes like this: Catherine doesn't want to be queen, she wants to bake, but the King of Hearts, as well as her parents, want her to be the queen. Cue the Joker, Jest, who is the wrong guy to fall for, but she does it anyway which eventually gets him killed and will make Cath want revenge and become the killer we know her as. There were a lot of moments throughout the plot that I was not as engaged with because they felt like they had been too much. Of course Cath would fall for Jest and of course a man would be her turning point. I was not the biggest fan of those aspects of the story. I wanted her to have more agency in why she becomes the Queen of Hearts, not just that she wants to use her power to avenge her lost love.

There was a prophecy in this book, I won't say what it was, but I will say that it wasn't my favorite because it takes any and all tension out of the story.

I loved the play on names from Meyer. Hatta being the Mad Hatter and Haigher being the March Hair, loved it!

The characters were pretty interesting, but they weren't as gripping or memorable as I would have like them to be.

I usually adore Marissa Meyer's books, but this one fell a little flat for me. Overall, it was enjoyable, but I am not sure if I would read it again.
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
2012 | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Snow White has certainly been receiving a lot of attention this year and it’s been hard to ignore two films competing with each other to win the accolade of best cinema adaptation.

Julia Roberts has already starred in sickly sweet adaptation Mirror Mirror and here Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame takes on the lead role in the gritty, dramatic adaptation of the fairytale. But is it a good take on a children’s classic?

Snow White & The Huntsman opens as you would expect with a look back at the aforementioned Princess’ traumatic childhood, from the death of her mother, to witnessing the death of her father King Magnus, it seems like any normal child would’ve had a few problems after this but Snow seems a little more reserved.

Snow White’s father is killed at the hands of her wicked stepmother, played wonderfully by Charlize Theron who really gets her teeth into the role she’s been given and plays the character with a nice dose of evil intertwined with brief moments of sincerity. Those of you familiar with the story will no doubt know that Snow White hides with the seven dwarves to escape the clutches of her stepmother, but more on that later.

Chris Hemsworth, who seems to be getting more and more acting jobs these days does a nice job as the widowed, constantly drunk huntsman, though his accent is a little hard to assess, no doubt done to cover his Australian roots.

Hemsworth is sent by the wicked Queen to kill Snow White so that her eternal youth isn’t threatened but things run less than smoothly as he realises that he is being tricked, he and Snow then decide to go on the run, bumping into the seven dwarves along the way.

The Kingdom in which they live is beautifully realised in fabulous CGI, from the dark forest, to the towering stone walls of the castle and then further into the ‘sanctuary’ a place where people can go to relax and unwind. Fairies, badgers, foxes, rabbits, mushrooms with beady little eyes and moss covered tortoises are amongst the creatures here and ruling over them all is the spirit of the forest, a fabulous and very real looking white stag.

This is, however, where Snow White & The Huntsman falls short. Yes, the CGI is impeccable and yes the acting is good, but it all feels a little bit soulless. It’s all about the frills rather than creating a deep and meaningful story. It has the basics right but it’s impossible to care about the characters because there isn’t enough back-story. Each set piece is interspersed with a little bit of emotion, but it’s not really enough and because of this, the entire film feels disjointed.

This is made worse by the fact the film is stretched to over two hours when there isn’t really enough story to create a two hour film.

Unfortunately, these points detract from what is a wonderful and beautifully realised adaptation of a classic children’s fairytale. To compare it to Mirror Mirror would be unfair as they are both so different. Snow White & The Huntsman is like last year’s Alice in Wonderland, it all looks and sounds great, but is ultimately; decidedly average.
Dumbo (2019)
Dumbo (2019)
2019 | Animation, Family, Fantasy
Tim Burton and the flying elephant
If you had told me 15 years ago that Tim Burton would be directing a live-action adaptation of Disney’s classic, Dumbo I would’ve been overwhelmed with excitement. The director, famed for his unique sense of gothic style and visual flair has directed some of the best films ever made.

Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Beetlejuice are just a few classics on a resume populated by cracking movies. However, over the last decade Burton has become a director that has focused on style over substance. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory was a pale imitation of the original and his live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland was successful but hollow.

Therefore, we arrive in 2019 with a slight sense of apprehension. Dumbo is a classic Disney cartoon and there’s a risk of a little too much Burton for the little elephant’s good. But is that fear unfounded?

Struggling circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists a former star (Colin Farrell) and his two children to care for Dumbo, a baby elephant born with oversized ears. When the family discovers that the animal can fly, it soon becomes the main attraction – bringing in huge audiences and revitalising the run-down circus. The elephant’s magical ability also draws the attention of V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), an entrepreneur who wants to showcase Dumbo in his latest, larger-than-life entertainment venture.

Updating Dumbo for the modern age was always going to be a difficult task. At just over an hour long and with some shall we say, less than PC story elements, the original needed some serious padding and editing to turn it into a fully-fledged feature film and while there are moments of brilliance here, Dumbo suffers from a disjointed and overthought script, flat characters and you guessed it, too much Burton.

We’ll start with the good. Dumbo is a beautiful film, filled to the brim with striking imagery that harks back to some of Burton’s previous work. The cinematography is absolutely astounding with stunning sunsets and vivid colours populating the screen at all points during the 112-minute running time. The opening in particular, a hark back to the original in which a train crosses a map of the US is inspired and nicely filmed.

For the most part though, Dumbo pushes the limits of visual effects to the point where everything feels far too artificial. The baby elephant himself is on the whole very good, and as adorable as you would expect, but there are moments dotted throughout the film that suffer from the limitations of CGI. A scene in which Dumbo gets a bath is terrifying. In fact, there are multiple sequences towards the finale in which the CGI is so poor that it looks like something out of a second generation video game.

Dumbo is a beautiful film, filled to the brim with striking imagery that harks back to some of Burton’s previous work
Elsewhere, the cast is by far the film’s weakest element. Colin Farrell is a disappointingly forgettable and miscast lead. Arriving home after losing his arm in the war, Farrell’s Holt is completely flat, not helped by some poor acting from the usually dependable star. Michael Keaton doesn’t get to do much apart from smile menacingly and Danny DeVito hams it up to 11 as struggling circus-owner Max Medici; oh dear.

There are some positives cast-wise however: Nico Parker as Milly Farrier, Holt’s curious science-minded daughter, is very good, even if the script beats you around the head with the fact that she’s an intelligent girl who wants more out of her life, but this is brought right back down to earth by Eva Green’s horrific French accent.

Then there’s Burton himself. While the shots of Dumbo circling the circus tent in the air are breath-taking, and scenes of the pachyderm covered in clown make-up as he’s abused for profit are as heart-breaking as they are in the original, they’re ruined by unusual story-telling choices. As the film steamrolls to its climax set in a theme-park that’s a third Scooby Doo, a third Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and a third Jurassic Park, Burton piles on his usual tropes far too thick – it just doesn’t fit with the tale of the magical flying elephant.

Some of the more touching elements are handled well however. Dumbo’s separation from his mother is devastating and he feels like a real personality throughout the entire film, but for a film titled Dumbo, it needs more Dumbo!

Overall, Dumbo is a perfectly enjoyable adventure ride that’s spoilt by Burton’s once trademark filming style and a roster of flat and forgettable characters. With the boundaries of CGI being pushed to the max here, some of the film feels a little unfinished and as such, this live-action adaptation is a touch disappointing. One can only wonder what this film would have been like with a different director at the helm.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins | 2014 | Young Adult (YA)
8.5 (275 Ratings)
Book Rating
The Hunger Games is a trilogy of YA dystopian novels written by American author Suzanne Collins. The story is set in an unspecified future, in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem located in North America. The country consists of the Wealthy Capital surrounded by the twelve (Originally thirteen) poorer districts, each one in various states of poverty. The story follows Katniss Everdeen as she takes her sisters place in the annual Hunger Games. The games are a televised event created as punishment for a past rebellion. Over the course of the books Katniss and the rest of Panem are plunged into Civil War thanks to Katniss inadvertently fuelling a hidden rebel fraction led by President Alma Coin of (the previously thought to be destroyed) District 13. After going through hell, loosing friends and the sister she tried to protect Katniss is eventually tried for killing Coin at the execution of Ex-President Snow and sent back to District 12. Katniss eventually marries fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (whom she was tied to during the games as the pair of star-crossed lovers) and eventually have two children a boy and a girl. Author Suzanne Collins stated that the inspiration for the story came to her after channel surfing through TV channels, having seen a reality show on one channel then saw footage of the Iraq invasion. The two began to blur in an unsettling way and the idea started to form. The Greek myth of Theseus also served as a basis for the story, with Collins saying that Katniss could be called a future Theseus and The Hunger Games being an interpretation of the old gladiatorial games.

The Hunger Games the titular book was released on September 14th 2008 under the publishing house Scholastic Press. The book had an initial print run of 50,00 copies eventually being bumped up twice to 200,000 copies. By February 2010 the book had sold 800,000 copies and rights to the novel have been sold in 38 territories. In November 2008 The Hunger Games was placed on the New York Times best seller list where it would remain for 100 weeks (just over three months). By the time the books film adaption released in march 2012 the book had been on USA Today's best seller list for 135 weeks (Four months) and sold over 17.5 million copies. The book received several awards and honours such as Publishers Weekley's “Best book of the year 2008”, the New York Times “Notable children's book 2008” and was the 2009 young adult fiction category winner of the Golden Duck award. The book also received the California Young Reader medal in 2011.

Catching Fire, the second book was published on September 1st 2009 under Scholastic. As the sequel to the Hunger Games book it continues the story of Katniss Everdeen and the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem as rebellion begins. The book received mixed reviews but was placed on Time Magazines Top 100 fiction list of 2009. Catching fire had an initial print of 350,00 copies but was (Like its predecessor) had grown to 750,00 by February 2010. The book has sold over 10 million copies.

Mocking-jay the third and final book in the Hunger Games Trilogy and was published August 24th 2010 by Scholastic. The book had a 1.2 million copy print that was bumped up from 750,000 copies and in its first week sold over 450,00 copies. Reviews were favourable with the book and notes that it thoroughly explores the themes of the other books.

I really love the books and regularly read them. Whenever I do read them I tend to read all three of them in the space of a week. To be fair whilst I had heard of them before the first movie release I didn't start reading them until I'd seen the first movie. I did read Catching Fire and Mockingjay before their movie equivalents hit the screens. Whilst The Hunger Games was a brilliant opener and Mockingjay was a brilliant ender, I agree with a few reviewers that Catching fire had a delayed start and it took a bit of time to get into the action of the story at large.

Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford Connecticut on the 10th of August 1962 as the youngest fourth child to Jane Bradley Collins and Lt. Col. Michael Jon Collins a decorated U. S. Air Force officer. As a daughter of a military man she was constantly moving with her family and spent her childhood in the eastern united states. Collins went to the Alabama school of fine arts in Birmingham 1980 as a theatre arts Major. Collins went on to complete a Bachelor of arts from Indiana University in 1985 and telecommunications and in 1989 Collins earned her M. F. A. in dramatic writing from NYU Tisch school of arts. Collins began her career in 1991 as a writer for children's television shows and won a nomination in animation for co-writing the critically acclaimed Christmas special Santa, Baby!. Collins after meeting James Proimos whilst working on a children's show felt the urge to write children's books and spent the early 2000's writing five books of the Underland Chronicles; Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret and Gregor and the Code of Claw. The influence for those books came from Alice in Wonderland. During the late 2000's she ends up writing the Hunger Games trilogy which went onto a famous movie trilogy. As the result of the hunger games trilogy popularity Collins was named one of Times Magazine's most Influential people of 2010. On June 17th 2019 Collins announced she was writing a prequel to the Hunger Games and is scheduled to be released on 19th May 2020, the book is to focus on the failed rebellion 64 years before the Hunger Games trilogy.

I highly respect the Author Suzanne Collins for both her work as a writer of Children's media and for her creativity in creating both the Hunger Games and the Underland Chronicles. Her creativity has been awarded with her books popularity and being announced amongst Time Magazine's 2010's most influential people and Amazons best selling Kindle author in 2012.

In March 2009 Lions Gate Entertainment entered into a co-production agreement with Nina Jacobson's Production company Color Force for the Hunger Games. Novel writer Suzanne Collins adapted the book in collaboration with screenwriter Billy Ray and Director Gary Ross. Actors Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutchinson and Liam Hemsworth were hired for the roles of Katniss, Peeta and Gale respectively. Lawrence was four years older than Katniss was in the books but Collins said she would rather the actress be older than the character since it demanded a certain maturity and power. Collins also liked Lawrence stating she was the “only one who truly captured the character I wrote in the book”. The Hunger Games Movie was released on march 23rd 2012. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released on November 22nd 2013 with Francis Lawrence being hired as Director and actors Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone and Sam Claflin being hired as Plutarch Heavensbee, Johanna Mason and Finneck Odair respectively. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay was split into 2 and Part 1 was released on November 21st 2014 and part 2 on November 20th 2015 Francis Lawrence remained Director for the final movies with Actor Julianne Moore joining the cast as President Alma Coin.

I loved the movies point blank and whilst it has its flaws like most movies often do I think its redeeming quality has been it faithfulness in sticking to the books as closely as possible and the actors representation of Suzanne Collins characters such as Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Donald Sunderland and President Snow, Stanley Tucci as Ceaser Flickerman, Woody Harrelson as Haymich Abernathy and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinkett. Whilst all the actors were very good and were chosen well for their characters. These actors in particular I feel did exceptionally well in bringing their characters to life especially Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson but then I am a very big fan of theirs so I may be a little biased.