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My Real Children
Jo Walton | 2014
9.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
Wow. Only occasionally does a book come along that really forces me to pause once I’ve read those final sentences. When I finally closed this one, I just had to sit quietly and take stock - thinking back over everything I’d read and smiling at how marvellously the story was put together. Looking back over my notes (three times the amount I normally take) this is a book that I will absolutely have to re-read. As one reviewer put it, it takes ‘What if?’ to a whole new level.

<b>What the blurb says:

The day Mark called, Patricia Cowan's world split in two.
The phone call.
His question.
Her answer.
A single word.

It is 2015 and Patricia Cowan is very old. 'Confused today' read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War - those things are solid in her memory. Then that phone call and her memory splits in two.

She was Trish, a housewife and mother of four.

She was Pat, a successful travel writer and mother of three.

She remembers living her life as both women, so very clearly. Which memory is real - or are both just tricks of time and light?

My Real Children is the story of both of Patricia Cowan's lives - each with its loves and losses, sorrows and triumphs, its possible consequences. It is a novel about how every life means the entire world.</b>

Essentially, the story is about Patricia, also known variously as Pat, Patty, Patsy, Tricia and Trish. When we meet her at the start of the story she is old, in a nursing home and suffering from dementia. She is confused, but her memories of her childhood and early life remain undiminished. She knows she was born in 1926 and remembers her childhood and early life vividly.

Pat is bright and goes to study at Oxford (where she is taught by Tolkien before his fame – how cool is that?). She loses both her brother and her father in the war but retains her faith and at University this is strengthened when she becomes involved with the Christian Fellowship. There are some absolutely beautiful sentences in this novel and many can be found in her descriptions of God and nature: <i>‘And the war had lasted such a long time, and taken so much from her. But the sea was still here, and just like it God was still here, waiting patiently’.</i>

All does not remain calm for long, however. Pat falls out with the Christian Fellowship over their treatment of two friends of hers who they accuse of being lesbian. In the end she concludes <i>‘that I can find God better alone, in nature and in the world’.</i> She goes on to become a teacher, firstly in Penzance.

At about this time, we meet the rigid, emotionless Mark who proposes to her – in about the least romantic way anyone can ever propose to anyone. And it is at this point that the narrative (and Pat’s memories) split in two. Did she say yes, or did she say no?

The remainder of the novel from 1949, flits between the two narratives – in one, she said yes and married Mark (and therefore had to give up teaching). In the other she said no and her life took a very different route. The structure of the story reminded me at times of the film Sliding Doors, as well as of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life but both of these comparisons seem rather unfair. This is a completely unique story which completely transported me.

The ‘I do’ narrative (in which she marries Mark) made me extremely uncomfortable. I won’t go into detail as to why but it is not an easy story to read, especially in the beginning. For a little tease… <i>‘He not only treated her as if she were stupid, but genuinely believed she was’.</i> That’s not to say there aren’t flashes of happiness – such as the love she has for her four children and the fact that she becomes close to her mother for the first time, but they are few and far between.

The ‘Mark’ story is made all the more uncomfortable because of its dramatic contrast with the wonderfully idyllic ‘I don’t’ narrative, in which she turns Mark down. In this version of the story Patricia falls in love with Italy, becomes financially independent, moves into her own flat and has lots of parties and friends. She publishes a series of travel books, buys a house in Florence and falls in love with a woman, Bee, who becomes the love of her life and with whom she has three children.

Jo Walton clearly knows Italy. Her descriptions are completely delicious and along with Pat and Bee, I absolutely revelled in the art, the architecture, the scenery and the food.

In both narratives, Pat’s story is interspersed with flashes of historical fact – but also fiction, which are absolutely fascinating. For example, we read of Pat struggling to get a mortgage in the 1950’s as a single woman; of her liberation from Mark and childbirth with the introduction of the contraceptive pill in 1961 but also of ‘Prince Charles and Princess Camilla’ and of couples getting married on the moon.

In one narrative we are in a world where John F. Kennedy was killed by a bomb in 1963, and in the other, transported to a world where Kennedy chose not to run in 1964 after an escalated Cuban Missile Crisis led to the nuclear obliteration of Miami and Kiev. In one, by 1985, AIDS and leukaemia could be cured. In the other, Pat loses a son to AIDS.

The novel explores issues of identity, love, death, grief, women’s liberation, motherhood, homosexuality, adultery, friendship, senility and independence to name but a few. I have absolutely no idea how Jo Walton has crammed so much in whilst still ensuring the writing remains completely believable, entirely beautiful and yet an easy read. I was with Pat every step of the way, in both narratives, and felt rather bereft when I had to say goodbye. It’s such a long, long time since a book has bought tears to my eyes.

To some extent I think the novel questions just how much our actions can actually change outcomes – and the way it does so is completely fascinating. It also explores the possible trade-off between personal happiness and the greater good. There are so many little overlaps and parallels between the two stories – certain characters that make an appearance in both for example, that I’m certain I’ve missed loads on a first reading.

I found this a completely fascinating, rich and enthralling read. I’m off to check out Jo Walton’s backlist so will leave you with a thought from Pat: <i>‘You’ve got no idea of the battles we’ve already won, especially when you’re busy looking ahead to the battles we still have to fight’.</i> Just perfect.
A Whole New World
A Whole New World
Liz Braswell | 2015 | Young Adult (YA)
7.3 (12 Ratings)
Book Rating
Review by Disney Bookworm
“What if Aladdin had never found the lamp?”

OK so I am going to start off this review with a really pedantic comment and I know I am being petty and that this will almost definitely end in a rant but… he does find the lamp! Of course he does! Aladdin is the diamond in the rough! He is literally the only one who can find the lamp. If he didn’t find the lamp nothing would happen: Jasmine would probably grow old with her tiger; Jafar would carry on hypnotising the Sultan; Aladdin would probably wind up arrested and this would be the shortest twisted tale in history.
So, Aladdin finds the lamp. Let’s move past it, because if you have read my other reviews, you will know I love Liz Braswell: her twisted tales always wind up being my favourites as she always brings something completely unexpected to the novels. In the circumstances, I can forgive the tagline.

This review of “A Whole New World” comes at a time where Aladdin is everywhere: the live action movie was released in the UK just over a month ago and, I for one, loved it! With this in mind, I just had to re-read this twisted tale and shout about the wholly different Agrabah that it presents to the reader.

Braswell’s Agrabah is a raw, dirty, troubled cousin of the Agrabah we all know and love. I struggle to comprehend exactly how the movies did it, because both showed starving children, but we found ourselves simultaneously accepting and glossing over the poverty of the street rats. We have no such option in “A Whole New World”.
From starving infants; old men shovelling camel dung for coins; to Aladdin’s own mother dying of a wasting disease: this novel takes no prisoners in the Quarter of the Street Rats. However, those in the Palace remain blind to the struggles of the poor, with the Sultan playing with his golden toys whilst some of his citizens have no food or clean water.
The plight of the Agrabah people creates an undercurrent of resentment that runs all the way through Aladdin and Jasmine’s story. It is also a clear indicator of the identity of this novel: Braswell has taken all the romanticism of the familiar story and buried it in her own cave of wonders, leaving behind a highly political but incredibly powerful story.

The twisted tale starts off on a similar vein to both movies, boy meets girl, boy rescues girl from hand severing businessman, boy winds up arrested and transported to a creepy cave where he finds an old lamp, boy’s monkey can’t keep his hands to himself and boy is left clinging on for his life at the entrance to said creepy cave. However, in this version, when Jafar steps on Aladdin’s fingers to prevent his escape, Abu doesn’t grab the lamp! How will Aladdin escape now?

As is to be expected from Braswell’s novels, the characters are phenomenal. Aladdin is the proud, eternal optimist that we recognise but with a strong ethical viewpoint that is introduced by the inclusion of his mother as a character.
Creating a new character, particularly Aladdin’s mother, could simply be a tactic to give some history to the charming thief. However, Braswell uses the matriarch to add depth to Aladdin: she tells him “don’t let how poor you are, decide who you are…you can choose to be something more”.
This is ultimately the lesson the genie would teach Aladdin if they were to meet and so I think it is very clever of Braswell to keep this element of Aladdin’s character. It allows us to witness Aladdin’s pride and strength through these instilled virtues: he has even lost friends over his views of when he considers it acceptable to be a thief.

Although I wouldn’t consider the genie a main character in this tale (he doesn’t get as much airtime as in the films): he remains a funny and flippant sidekick for the most part. However, in keeping with the tone of “A Whole New World”, he does use this humour to provoke our thoughts. The genie and Braswell divulge that there was once a whole race of djinn who have since died out. The genie has lost his home, his wife and his freedom and so, he rightly asks, who would stay sane under those conditions?

Jafar; Mr dark and twisty himself, is a whole other level of evil in this twisted tale. He does present some of the characteristics of the movie villain: power mad, desperate for everyone to love him and all that jazz; however, he also tortures the genie and plans to break the laws of magic in order to create an army of the dead. It’s all very game of thrones all of a sudden!

I know what you’re thinking: what about Jasmine? Surely, she isn’t all dark and twisty as well? The girl looks good in turquoise baggy trousers for goodness sakes!
Jasmine begins her journey as the typical naïve, sheltered princess she is always portrayed as: possessing no knowledge of the price of food or the struggles of her own people. However, Braswell manages to make even the live-action Jasmine appear over-dramatic and petty: she isn’t resisting marriage just because she doesn’t fancy random foreign prince number 3; she is resisting becoming a “baby making machine” and signing herself up to an early grave.
“A princess among men”, Jasmine and the reader soon realise that she has to step forward and become the hero of this tale. This is no small ask for someone who has never led an army or witnessed death before. Nonetheless, Jasmine is clearly up to the task: this is no weak princess trapped in an hourglass of sand, waiting to be rescued by a man. This is a Sultana!

The story of Aladdin typically conjures up images of love, magic carpets and romantic duets. Liz Braswell’s story of Agrabah does orbit around love, how could it not? However, “A Whole New World” explores the shades of grey in life: Street rats are not always bad, Princesses are not always good and magic is not always the solution. This is not a tale of love; it is a tale of finding strength in unlikely places; it is a tale that teaches us you don’t need magic to have a happy ending.
Blended (2014)
Blended (2014)
2014 | Comedy
6.2 (9 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Sandler and Barrymore still have wonderful chemistry. (1 more)
Blended makes a big recovery by showing a lot of heart.
The first half-hour of the film is almost unbearably bad. (2 more)
The African setting is a lot of fun, but also feels somewhat racist.
It has some pretty good laughs but it may be too cheesy for some.
Blended requires some patience to get through its torturous start but it makes a respectable comeback as Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore prove that they’re still a delightful comedic duo.
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore once again reunite for the romantic comedy Blended. Previously the pair starred together in The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, and while the two of them have sincerely compelling chemistry, Blended is unfortunately their worst pairing to-date. The premise of the film revolves around the idea of two single parents falling in love and blending each of their families together as one, à la The Brady Bunch. It’s interesting then that the film itself seems to parallel a predictable process of blending as a family. At first, it’s an unwelcome and uncomfortable experience, but as time goes by it becomes more agreeable, and eventually it becomes acceptable and even enjoyable. The same can be said of Blended, which suffers from a dreadful beginning, but gradually gets better, and by the end becomes a pretty good family-friendly film overall.

Blended face-plants in spectacular fashion right out of the gate as we first meet Jim (Sandler) and Lauren (Barrymore) on a disastrous blind date at Hooters that’s incredibly uncomfortable to watch. Sandler’s character Jim initially comes off appearing remarkably repulsive and immature, while Barrymore’s Lauren is uptight and unlikeable. Things become even more unbearable when the two of them run into each other soon later at a grocery store, in a lifeless scene that is outrageously awkward. There’s also a glaring absence of music throughout the beginning of the movie, which only seems to emphasize the bad dialogue and unpleasant situations. The first half hour of the film is dull, dry, and devoid of any laughs. However, if you can endure Blended’s horrendous beginning, you’ll find that it makes up for its missteps by being a fun movie with a lot of heart.

The film finally finds its footing when Jim and Lauren unintentionally find themselves sharing a vacation in Africa. Since both of them struggle to understand and connect with their children, they each jump on an opportunity to reward their families with a trip to Africa, while being entirely unaware that the other is doing the same thing. As a result, Jim and Lauren and their respective children are all forced together, as their trip entails sharing a hotel room at the extravagant Sun City Resort in South Africa, which is hosting a special weekend event for blended families. While this involuntary blending is initially met with great opposition, the two families gradually learn to put aside their differences and begin to care for each other. Furthermore, it turns out that while Lauren and Jim are each somewhat oblivious with raising their own kids, they’re perfectly suited to teach each other’s kids. As a dainty, goody-two-shoes mom, Lauren has difficulty controlling her two wild young boys, but she knows how to care for Jim’s daughters with a much-needed womanly touch. Equally convenient is how sports-obsessed Jim is able to instill discipline and respect in Lauren’s reckless children. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy and predictable, but it works, and does so without feeling completely contrived.

The African setting in Blended is exciting and beautifully represented, although its depiction does seem mildly racist. It just feels a little wrong to have an African resort where rich white people can go on vacation and be catered to by Africans that are portrayed as being relatively primitive. Even Sun City Resort feels less like a resort and more like an amusement park, albeit one that I’d love to visit. It serves as an appealing setting and looks like a whole lot of fun. Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that Adam Sandler recently confessed that he chooses his movies based on where he wants to go on vacation. It may be something of a devious strategy, but he’s managed to make himself a very successful career in doing it. He’s a guy who knows how to have fun, and I think that’s where Blended really shines. Even though it gets started off on the wrong foot, it’s a film that ends up offering a fair amount of laughs, while being a fun movie-going experience.

The performances in Blended are a bit typical, but they’re certainly not bad. Adam Sandler plays his usual good-intentioned-but-misunderstood man-child self. Meanwhile, Drew Barrymore adds a lot of fun to her role as the sweet, geeky mom who’s trying hard to be cool. Terry Crews represents the head of the singing entertainment at the resort who repeatedly appears to interrupt in song. He brings in a good dose of humor and had me really cracking up in one scene. Kevin Nealon seems to be channeling his character from Happy Gilmore in this movie, and is part of another blended couple vacationing in Africa. His blonde trophy girlfriend played by Jessica Lowe is a real stand-out. She does a remarkable job creating laughs as a stereotypical bimbo. Her hot and heavy relationship with Nealon is truly comical, even if slightly sickening. As for the children, their performances are mostly adequate, with Jim’s daughters being the best of the bunch. Disney star Bella Thorne is wonderful as Hilary, who like all of Jim’s children, has unconsciously been raised like a boy, even to the extent of being nicknamed Larry. Additionally, the young Emma Fuhrmann, who plays Jim’s middle daughter, can be surprisingly effective at evoking genuine heart-felt emotion into her scenes. Of course, this wouldn’t be an Adam Sandler without some cameos from his buddies, although the ones in Blended fail to be very funny at all.

All in all, Blended requires some patience to get through its torturous start, and it gets pretty heavy on the cheesiness later in the film, but it makes a respectable comeback overall. It even manages to touch on aspects of the awful beginning and effectively incorporate them into the grand scheme of things later on. In the end, everything ends up blending together nicely to create a pretty decent comedy, while Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore prove that they’re still a delightful comedic duo.

(This review was originally posted at on 6.16.14.)

5 Minute Movie Guy (379 KP) rated The Fault In Our Stars (2014) in Movies

Jun 26, 2019 (Updated Jun 26, 2019)  
The Fault In Our Stars (2014)
The Fault In Our Stars (2014)
2014 | Comedy, Drama
Undoubtedly one of the great love stories of our time. (3 more)
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are a perfect match.
John Green's novel is brilliantly adapted to the silver screen.
This is a movie that will stay with you long after it's over.
You'd better bring some tissues! (0 more)
On the surface, it's easy to dismiss The Fault in Our Stars as being a sappy teenage love affair, but I can fortunately say that this is one of the great love stories of our time.
Based on John Green’s popular young adult novel, The Fault in Our Stars is a film that is profoundly beautiful, eloquent and heartfelt. It tells of an extraordinary love between two unforgettable characters who are brought together by similarly ill-fated circumstances. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are both victims of cancer. Although they do their best to hide it, these two young adults are each afraid of their ominous and unstable futures. They’re just trying to live purposeful lives and experience life like normal teenagers, but the looming threat of an untimely death impedes that desire. However, for a film filled with so much uncertainty, I can fortunately say that there is little doubt that The Fault in Our Stars is one of the great love stories of our time.

On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss The Fault in Our Stars as being a sappy teenage love affair. I’ll confess that I went into the theater expecting to be fully surrounded by crying teenage girls, while I would be quietly laughing to myself at their heartache. What I surely didn’t anticipate, however, was to be so deeply drawn into the film. Even more surprising is the fact that The Fault in Our Stars has actually turned out to be my favorite movie of the year so far. This is a film that is sincerely heartfelt and unflinchingly genuine. It brings truth to the romantic fantasies we have, and teaches us that we can’t let the fear of possible heartache hold us back from the endless potential of love.

Make no mistake about it, The Fault in Our Stars is a tear-jerker. It’s difficult to watch these lovable characters endure such unjustifiable hardship. Hazel and Augustus are each forced to face a formidable fate that they shouldn’t have to. I really felt a strong attachment to both of them, and found them to be remarkably identifiable. This connection makes it all the more unsettling when their situations turn dire. The reason that The Fault in Our Stars manages to be so effective is because of its authenticity and accessibility. The characters are not only admirable, but relatable. They’re not simply reduced to being unfortunate young cancer patients that we’re meant to feel sorry for. While of course we can sympathize with their condition, it is their compassion and the content of their characters that make them so compelling.

While the film features its fair share of tragedy, I should make it clear that it’s not heart-wrenchingly malicious in the way it deals with its ensuing sadness. This is not a film that is deliberately trying to make anyone feel bad. It is merely being honest in its depiction of the unfairness that often exists in life. While you very well might cry when watching the film, it’s not entirely depressing and hopeless. In fact, I would argue that The Fault in Our Stars is more pleasant than painful. The sadness it makes you feel ends up all being worthwhile because of the joyous, unforgettable memories the movie creates along the way. This is a film that will stay with you long after seeing it. To answer the question you’re all wondering: no, the movie didn’t make me cry. Though my lack of tears is not a particularly good indicator of the emotional quality of the film. I don’t really allow myself to cry during movies, but I certainly came close, and it undeniably left me deeply touched and forever grateful that I watched it.

Being that this is a romance, I must warn you that this isn’t a movie for everyone. Truth be told, I’m a sucker for a good romance, but I’m aware not everyone has the patience for these kind of movies. The Fault in Our Stars is a slow-burning journey that takes its time to relish in the moments. It does this skillfully, maintaining a steady, balanced pace while building up to a powerful climax. Some may find the film to be a little too cutesy, but I think anyone who approaches it with an open-mind will find that it’s legitimately a really great film. My only real criticism of the movie involves the awkward return of a particular character towards the end of the movie. It makes for a rather unwelcome and perplexing intrusion, although it does at least help to set up the film’s wonderful ending.

John Green’s story is refreshing, witty, and modern. It is not only insightful in its depiction of love and life, but also offers an amazing attention to detail. It nails the feelings of love, and perfectly captures the life of being a teenager. The characters created by Green truly come to life in this film. Divergent star Shailene Woodley shines as Hazel, a young woman suffering from terminal thyroid cancer. Additionally, Ansel Elgort is incredibly charming as Augustus, a high school basketball star whose career ended short when cancer turned him into an amputee. The two of them are a perfect complementary match. Laura Dern also puts in a commendable performance as Hazel’s mom, a selfless, loving parent and companion. The film’s soundtrack is sensational. It’s appropriately fitting and delightful, featuring great work by artists such as Ed Sheeran, Birdy, and Ray LaMontagne. Every aspect of the movie comes together to produce a thoroughly poignant and relevant package.

The Fault in Our Stars is a film that speaks to our generation. It stares boldly into our fears of the eminent death that haunts us all, and makes no attempt to glamorize it. Even though it’s about a pair of teenagers, it’s not afraid to deal with mature content. It’s actually all the more engrossing and troubling because these two characters are young. They’re already facing a pivotal time in their lives and are learning to experience the world on their own accord, and yet their journeys are plagued by the callous complications of cancer. Their age gives the film a stronger emotional impact, emphasizing the preciousness of life and the importance of living it to the fullest. The Fault in Our Stars is a smart and stimulating movie, and just like its star characters, it is wholly worthy of remembrance.

(This review was originally posted at on 7.12.14.)
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational

Page Count: 324 pages (of nauseation)

Average Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars (why, Goodreads? You’re usually so tough on books)

My Rating: 1.5/ 5 stars

Truthfully, this is actually a great story. Yeah. So great. It’s the perfect backstory for its horror sequel: The Martins Trump Manson on Body Count.

As a romance it fucking sucks.

I don’t even know where to begin. This book is so full of sugary sap that it makes pasta covered in maple and chocolate syrup and marshmallows look appetizing.

Still not as sweet as The Air We Breathe
Here’s the thing: I’m not actually a bitter and cynical person. I like sap and fluff. I smile and giggle during romance scenes, I’ve obsessively written cute and romantic fanfiction and my boyfriend and I were arguably the most nauseatingly cute couple to ever walk the halls of John Bapst Memorial High School.

But I gagged reading this book for the amount of love-doveyness.

Marguerite is on holiday in London, recovering from the sudden deaths of her parents which liberated her from 27 years of being suffocated and controlled by them. While there, she has a random chance encounter with Chase Martin, a depressed rock star exhausted from touring with his band. Chase and Marguerite are drawn together by a strange unknown force. They don’t know why they have such a strong connection to each other, but they do know that life without the other would not be living at all.

I actually really liked the beginning and thought that it would shape up to be an interesting and sweet romance. We see them before they meet in the coffee shop, miserable and depressed, and then while sipping her drink and reading her book, Marguerite feels Chase’s anxiety. So she buys him a decaf drink and gives it to him, saying she could feel his anxiety from across the shop. That’s great.

The two of them realize they’re drawn together and can find each other happiness and Marguerite ends up spending the night at Chase’s house just so they can find comfort in having another human being near them. That’s great, too.

The beginning is by far my favorite part because it has promise for a good story and has more vivid scenes than any other part of the book.

But then it moves too quickly from there.

From that moment on, the two of them are so deep in love they make Romeo and Juliet look reserved and cautious. They are constantly “blown away” by each other and moved to tears every minute by each other. They “get a kick out of” every little joke they make to each other, and they start living together immediately after they meet. After a week (that’s right, a flipping week), Chase proposes to her.

And if I had a pin for every time one of those quoted phrases appeared in this novel, I could pulverize a voodoo doll. The repeated phrases and excessive emotion of the characters is definitely the worst part.

I’m still not that aggravated with this book, yet. Yeah, the insta love irks me, but I figure there will be a great plot with lots of trouble between the two of them after they marry. After all, they barely know each other and they need to figure out what this psychic connection means. Maybe they’re the incarnated souls of Hawkgirl and Hawkman and they’re about to get killed by an immortal psychopath (did I mention I’m a huge nerd?).

Nope. The two of them agree on everything, right down to how to decorate the house and the new rule that shoes are off upon entering. And things continue to be hunky dory for practically forever. All of Chase’s friends, and their girlfriends, love Marguerite and nobody questions their whirlwind romance. Yeah, because a severely depressed person getting engaged after a week of dating isn’t a cry for help or anything.

And there is so much to dislike about Chase’s and Marguerite’s decisions. Marguerite is forced to quit her job so she can move to London to be with Chase.

Never mind that she liked her job in Pennsylvania and didn’t express any wish to be a housewife. Never mind that Chase was getting tired of touring and thinking about quitting the band anyway. It’s her life that gets turned upside down.

Also, so much for her newfound freedom following her parents’ deaths! Now she’s shadowed by a bodyguard wherever she goes, needs to sneak into the backs of restaurant when she wants to eat out, and can’t even walk to the store for fear of being accosted by her husbands’ fans.

Yes, Chase’s life gets changed too. He now has a wife that cooks meals for him, cleans for him, furnishes and decorates his house for him, and hands him a cold towel when he walks off stage. He made some real damn sacrifices when he married Marguerite.


But life goes on. With a lot of summary and over thirty years, it goes on.

Aside from dialogues and scenes peppered here and there, the book is mostly sweet and sappy summary of their lives. Dark things happen now and then but they’re glossed over and smothered in fluff.

If this storyline was done by a competent writer, this actually could have been an entertaining series about the Martin family. There is actually plenty of material between the psychic connection, Marguerite’s tragic background, a miscarriage, a huge celebrity drugging conspiracy, two sets of twins, a near death experience, and a baby on the doorstep.

But somehow it becomes boring and plotless when it’s all crammed into one book that seems to drag on forever. During all of this my main concern, the psychic connection, was never explained. It’s just a gift from God. One that turns their “perfect” (as in creepily well behaved and mature) children into kids from The Shining. Because they also have a psychic connection. They can “feel” each other and their parents. Oh, and talk to their dead sister, apparently, when their dead sister wants to tell them about babies being left on their doorstep.

“This is Baby Sarah,” Matt said.

“Baby Sarah?” Marguerite asked.

(Both sets of twins) said “Yes. We knew she was coming.”

Chase asked, “How did you know?”

“Baby Margaret told us,” Mark said.

Also, when Chase and Marguerite choose Sarah’s full name, all four children, in a different room, wake up from a dead sleep, sit up in unison, and announce that the baby is named.

May I present the newest additions to the Martin family?
If you want to read a rockstar romance, I recommend Love’s Rhythm by Lexxie Couper, which isn’t perfectly crafted, but leagues beyond The Band 4: The Air We Breathe.

Bob Mann (459 KP) rated No Time to Die (2021) in Movies

Oct 7, 2021 (Updated Oct 10, 2021)  
No Time to Die (2021)
No Time to Die (2021)
2021 | Action, Adventure, Thriller
What a wait it’s been for Bond 25! But Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond is finally here and I thought it was great! It has all the elements of Bond… but perhaps not as we traditionally know it.

Plot Summary:
We pick up immediately after the ending of “Spectre“, with Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) all loved up and driving off into the sunset together. But their romantic getaway to Italy is rudely broken short by Spectre as elements of Madeleine’s past emerge to haunt the couple.

One element of that past – the horribly disfigured Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) has a plan to make his mark on mankind with a biochemical weapon. And the retired Bond teams with the CIA’s Felix Leiter (a very welcome return of Jeffrey Wright) in a mission to Jamaica to combat it.

US: PG-13. UK: 12A.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ana de Armas.

Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga.

Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. (From a story by Purvis, Wade and Fukunaga).

- The script has all the trappings of Bond: exotic locations; great stunts; thrilling action sequences; and more gadgets on show than in recent times. Yet it’s a real character piece too, delving far more into Bond’s emotions. The story running through it with Madeleine is both deep and emotional: something we haven’t seen since the Bond and Tracy romance in OHMSS. (And with Craig’s acting, he manages to pull this off far better than George Lazenby ever could!).
- I found the finale to be magnificent, bold and surprising. We’re back to the megalomaniac owning an island lair, à la Dr No. It even has its own submarine pen (a nod to Austin Power’s “Goldmember” perhaps!?). For me, the production design harks back to the superbly over-the-top Ken Adams creations of the Connery years. There are no sharks with frickin’ laser beams… but there could have been. (The set is a rather obvious redressing of the 007 stage at Pinewood, created of course for the tanker scenes in “The Spy Who Loved Me”. It even re-uses of the gantry level control room.)
- Craig is magnificent in his swan-song performance. There’s a scene, during the extended pre-credits sequence, where he’s sat in his bullet-ridden Aston just glowering for an extended period. I thought this was Craig’s acting at its best. I thought this again in a dramatic showdown scene with Rami Malek. Malek is not given a huge amount to do in the film, But what he does he does wonderfully, particularly in that electrifying scene with Craig.
- The film has a great deal more female empowerment than any previous Bond, with the tell-tale signs (although this might be a sexist presumption) of Phoebe Waller-Bridge on the script. Newcomer Lashana Lynch acquits herself well as the first female 00-agent, getting not just kick-ass action sequences but also her fair share of quips. But stealing the show is Ana de Armas (reunited with Craig of course from “Knives Out“). Her scenes in Cuba are brief but memorable, delivering a delicious mixture of action and comedy that makes you think “cast HER as the next Bond”!
- The music by Hans Zimmer! It’s a glorious soundtrack that pays deference not only to the action style of recent composers, like David Arnold and Thomas Newman, but particularly to the classic scores of John Barry. It actually incorporates not one but two classic themes from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, directly into the film. I’m even starting to warm to the Billie Eilish theme song, although I think it’s too similar in style to the Sam Smith offering from “Spectre“.
- The cinematography from Linus Sandgren (who did “La La Land“) is gorgeous: in turns colourful and vibrant for the Italian and Cuban scenes and cool and blue for the tense Norwegian action sequences.

- My main criticism is not of the film, but of the trailer(s). There are so many of the money shots from the film (particularly from the Matera-based action of the pre-title sequence) included in the trailers that I had an “OK, move on, seen this” attitude. Why did they have to spoil the movie so much? IT’S A NEW BOND… OF COURSE WE’RE GOING TO SEE IT. All you EVER needed for this is a 20-second teaser trailer. Just put white “Bond is Back” text on a black background and the Craig tunnel shot to the camera. Job done. It really infuriates me. B arbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, PLEASE take note!
- At 163 minutes it’s the longest Bond ever and a bit of a bladder tester. But, having said that, there are no more than a few minutes here and there that I would want to trim. To do more you’d need to cut out whole episodes, and leaving Ana de Armas on the cutting room floor would have been criminal. As the illustrious Mrs Movie Man commented, “I wish they’d bring in the half time Intermission card like they used to do in the old days”. I agree. Everyone would have been a whole lot more comfortable and less fidgety.

Summary Thoughts on “No Time to Die”: Reading the comments on IMDB for the movie, I’m perplexed at the diatribe coming from supposed ‘Bond fans’ on this one. One-star review after one-star review (despite, I note, the overall film getting an overall 7.8/10 at the time of writing). In this regard, I class myself as very much a Bond fan. (My first film at the cinema was the release of “Live and Let Die” in 1973, but I then binge-watched all the other Bond films at the cinema: they used to do repeated double-features in those days). And I thought this was a fabulous Bond film. Full of drama, action, humour and deep-seated emotion. Couldn’t be better for me, and certainly on a par with “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall” for me as my favourite Craig outings.

As the end of the end credits said – “James Bond Will Return”. Who will they cast as the next Bond? And where will they take the story from here? Two of the most intriguing movie questions to take into 2022.

(For the full graphical review and video review, please search for @onemannsmovies. Thanks.)
I Heart New York (I Heart, #1)
I Heart New York (I Heart, #1)
8.8 (4 Ratings)
Book Rating
This novel would probably not have made it off the shelf and into my hands for even a cursory glance, had it not been for the fact that I heard Lindsey Kelk interviewed on the wonderful BookD podcast. Actually, I’ll be completely honest, there is no ‘probably’ about it, it absolutely wouldn’t have. I tend to avoid like the plague anything that could remotely be considered ‘girlie’ fiction (and no, I am NOT going to use the infamous term ‘Chick Lit’ as I can entirely appreciate why certain female authors find the term derogatory and patronising. Although thinking about it, ‘girlie’ fiction is probably similarly offensive. No offense intended).

I don’t avoid it because I am in any way dismissive of the genre – I firmly believe that good fiction looks entirely different to each one of us, and also that time and mood are incredibly important to how a book is received and appreciated by an individual. As long as you can escape into it, it’s a good novel as far as I’m concerned. It is simply that as my own personal form of escapism, this kind of novel doesn’t generally do it for me. I therefore tend to avoid pink, flowery covers and storylines that revolve around men and shopping (this is despite the fact that I actually do like flowers, men, shopping and am not averse to the colour pink). I just tend to go for books that are more likely to have me in floods of tears than make me smile. Oh God, am I a masochist?

Anyway, Lindsey’s interview hooked me in a number of ways. It was interesting to hear how she went from a career in publishing to becoming a published author herself. She described the various bumps along the road that she encountered on that journey, including one delightful agent who told her that her name sounded like a cat being sick! She is without doubt one of the funniest authors I’ve heard interviewed and I was intrigued to find out if her humour came across in her writing (she is also one of the funniest people to follow on twitter by the way). I bought her first novel to try and find out (NB: there are now five I Heart novels).

The blurb says:

Fleeing her cheating boyfriend and clutching little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins and her passport, Angela jumps on a plane – destination NYC.

Holed up in a cute hotel room, Angela gets a New York makeover from her NBF Jenny and a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps. Before she knows it, Angela is dating two sexy guys. And, best of all, she gets to write about it in her new blog (Carrie Bradshaw eat your heart out). But it’s one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it’s another figuring them out for yourself.

Angela has fallen head over heels for the big apple, but does she heart New York more than home?

As the story opens, Angela is about to walk down the aisle as bridesmaid to her best friend. Fast forward just a few pages and she discovers her own fiancé with his pants round his ankles giving another woman a good seeing-to in their car. Fast forward another few pages and instead of being consoled by her mum over a cup of tea and a biscuit as you’d expect most good English girls to do, she jumps on a plane to New York and books herself in to an incredibly expensive hotel. The rest of the story concerns the people she meets and her experiences of New York in general.

I challenge any woman to read this novel and not feel a twinge of jealousy. Or even several large twangs come to that. Not regarding the bloody awful breakup of course, but you can’t argue with the fact that after that she has a damn good time. Actually even before that she is wearing a pair of £400 Louboutin’s. And she gets to keep them! How much did the Bride’s shoes cost for God’s sake??

Her experiences post-adultery shocker are undoubtedly well-oiled by a seemingly bottomless stash of cash (something I could do with right about now). Despite describing herself as a freelance writer and not having a ‘proper job’, Angela decides early on that half of the joint ‘wedding’ savings account is hers and although specific amounts are not mentioned, there was clearly enough money in this account for her to have had a wedding of which a minor member of Royalty would be proud. The hotel she stays in for the first week costs $350 per night and there are endless trips to boutiques and beauty counters with mass purchases of perfume, make up, underwear, clothes, shoes and a particular Marc Jacobs handbag that amounts to a small fortune. Retail therapy rocks in this novel.

As the blurb mentions, Angela soon ends up dating two different men, which according to the New York guru Jenny, is perfectly acceptable behaviour as far as dating in NY goes. This seems fine, until she starts The Blog. Maybe it’s just me, but from the description I thought The Blog was just something Angela decided to start writing to record her own experiences. Not so. The Blog is something she becomes employed to do, and her editor specifically wants her to talk about the two different men. Again, this could be OK only she makes a huge deal of the fact the she is given this job to the two guys she is dating, who don’t know that she is dating someone else as well. She doesn’t ever seem to see the imminent danger of one or other of these guys reading the blog, and even seems to encourage it at one point when she is sitting around with one of them waiting for her first post to appear on a website. This just didn’t make sense to me. And actually it still doesn’t!

Aside from that aspect though, I was surprised how much I did escape into the novel and how much I enjoyed it. The character of Jenny is great fun and through her the reader is treated to some fantastic insights into the city – the author clearly knows New York intimately and even includes ‘Angela’s Guide to NYC’ at the back of the book which includes recommendations for places to stay, eat out, drink and of course, shop. I want to go. And spend bucket loads of money. First stop? The Chocolate Shop.

I couldn’t entirely identify with Angela, but I don’t think we’re supposed to. There are certainly specific aspects of her character that I could identify with but more importantly, what she does and how she deals with her heartache makes for damn good escapist fiction. I think she represents a pretty common female fantasy (albeit taken to an extreme) and who would have thought it? Reading about that is actually good fun! I loved the novel’s humour (answer to my original question = YES. Lindsey’s humour is evident on practically every page). Her style is engaging – far from being sugary and soppy, it is snappy and to the point and I did actually laugh out loud in places. It just works. Try it. And if you’re still unsure, a little taster:

“‘Angela,’ Mark stood up, he pulled his pants up high, and wriggled into his shirt. I looked past him into the car. The girl had managed to get her dress on and was rubbing under her eyes to try to get rid of the mascara. Good luck, I thought, if it’s as good a quality as your shoes you won’t get that off by rubbing. Shoes still looked great though. Bitch”.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
2019 | Sci-Fi, Thriller
Robert Downey JR, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner....some to think of it, everything (0 more)
I'll let you know! (0 more)
Ending The Game
Contains spoilers, click to show
Avengers: Endgame - the concluding installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's 'Infinity Saga', has made box office history, breaking a number of records on its' journey (thus far) of becoming the second highest grossing movie ever in a short period of time. Bringing together the story threads of 21 films before it 'Endgame' had a number of hurdles to overcome - not only did the Russo Brothers have to find a satisfying way to reverse the effects of 'The Decimation' (if you have to ask then you're probably reading the wrong review!) but they had to do so in a way that did not lessen the impact of 'Infinity War', whilst bringing to a close a number of character arcs for many well respected and founding members of Marvel's flagship superhero team and setting the course and direction for whatever comes next.

The question is, did it succeed?

At the time of writing 'Endgame' has been in cinemas for over two weeks and all embargoes pertaining to spoilers have since been rescinded. It is on that note that I will make the following SPOILER ALERT and advise anyone yet to see the movie (is there actually anyone out there daring to call themselves a fan who hasn't seen it?!) to leave now.....

Endgame picks up a few short weeks after the events of 'Infinity War' and depicts the surviving heroes of Thanos's snap coming up again him once again. The encounter is very short lived but doesn't go as planned/hoped effectively destroying all hope for returning the vanished. Que a five year time-jump..

Steve Rogers heads up a support group for the survivors, Natasha Romanoff directs the remaining Avengers refusing to move on, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are living a quiet life raising their daughter, Thor has spiraled into despair at New Asgard effectively leaving Valkyrie in charge, Clint Barton has become the blood-thirsty vigilante Ronin - tracking down and eliminating those criminals who escaped the decimation when his family didn't, and Bruce Banner has found a way to merge personalities with the Hulk allowing both to co-exist as one (Professor Hulk).

Things look pretty grim until AntMan (Scott Lang) returns - quite accidentally, from the Quantum Realm bringing with him the key to bringing everyone back and reversing Thanos's decimation. And that's where time travel appears...

The Avengers must travel back to key moments in their history to remove the Infinity Stones and bring them to the present where Stark and Banner create their own Gauntlet to house them. This involves the second act of the movie displaying some time travel shenanigans as our heroes interact with events - and themselves, of previously seen movies. Such encounters include revisiting the events of Avengers Assemble, Thor:The Dark World, and Guardians Of The Galaxy. Don't expect a retread of the 'Back To The Future' franchise however, as Avengers: Endgame creates its' own rules for time travel. Basically, going back in time and interfering with established events does not alter the future - instead it creates a branched reality (think parallel timeline), however traversing the Quantum Realm will still return you to the original timeline you came from. In other words, go back in time kill Thanos, return to the future and you've changed nothing.... Simple, right?!

That's the basic gist, and all I'll give you for now.

Whilst this does follow on from 'Infinity War', 'Endgame' is stylistically and tonally a different movie. Whereas the former threw us straight into the thick of the action and never let up until the devastating conclusion, throwing a cavalcade of heroes at us in a relentless fashion, 'Endgame' scales it all back (for two thirds of the running time at least) focusing on the original six core Avengers (with strong support from Don Cheadle's War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Paul Rudd (returning as AntMan), and of course, Rocket Raccoon! With the preceding movie been Captain Marvel you would be forgiven for thinking Brie Larson would play a strong role in this movie, however - with a throwaway line earlier on justifying her absence, Carol Danvers features for all of around fifteen minutes! That's not to say she doesn't make an impact when she does I might add! Given the downbeat tone to 'Endgame' there is a lot of humour from start to finish - Chris Hemsworth, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, I'm looking at you most here!, which in no way detracts from the weight of what's at sake here.

Josh Brolin is back as Thanos, and Thanos...that's right, two versions of the mad Titan appear. The one whom our heroes go up against during the final third act is a past version who travels forward in time to present after seeing into his own future and witnessing the efforts of Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the lengths they are prepared to go to in order to 'decimate' his plans. This is a Thanos whom I would deem more ruthless that 'Infinity War's' protagonist, a Thanos now determined to erase ALL life in the Universe.

I imagine the biggest question - well, one biggie amongst many, fans going into this movie blind had concerned who would return after the shocking climax to 'Infinity War' (along with whether those who died in that movie stayed that way). There was never any doubt - was there, that the vanished would return? It isn't that much of a spoiler then to reveal that the final thirty minutes or so of 'Endgame' features every MCU hero on screen together embroiled in the biggest fight of their lives. And what a visual delight it is. The visuals in this film are fantastic and the final battle rivals anything Peter Jackson gave us.

I was fortunate enough to see 'Endgame' at the first screening (pre-midnight) at a local cinema and what an experience it was - a mini comic con. The atmosphere was electric and it was a highly memorable experience.

Everyone involved in this movie deserves kudos, for this lifelong superhero fanboy Avengers: Endgame is the best movie....ever.

If I may digress somewhat, there has been much confusion reported concerning the movie's ending, namely the resolution to Steve Rogers' story. Having returned the Infinity Stones to their rightful place in the MCU timeline Cap chooses to remain in the past (circa 1940-ish) and to live out his life with Peggy Carter (the final shot shows the two having that well overdue dance). Whilst the perfect sendoff this has left many conflicted as to the implications with some reviewers claiming this goes against the rules established earlier in the movie relating to the use of time travel. It really isn't that complicated. Essentially there are two theories at play that can explain the climax.
The first is that Steve simply lived out a life in secrecy within the established continuity, choosing not to involve himself in major events. This does not contradict what we've seen so far - back in 'The Winter Soldier' we see archive footage of Peggy from the nineteen fifties in which she talks about Captain America saving her (un-named) husband during the war. It isn't really a reach of the imagination to suspect that Cap and this man are one and the same. In the same movie, present day Steve visits a dying Peggy - clearly suffering the effects of dementia, who apologises to him for the life he didn't have. Could this be a reference to the man she married having to live a life of secrecy, choosing to stay out of the fight for fear of creating a divergent reality? Given that the movie establishes that actions in the past will not change the future (within the main timeline) Steve's interference would not change anything in 'our' reality anyhow.
The second theory is that Steve created a branched reality by reuniting with Peggy and lived a fulfilling life in that alternate timeline, only returning to the main timeline an old man when the time was right to handover the shield to Sam Wilson/Falcon (as seen at the end of the movie). Sure, this raises questions as to how Steve was able to cross realities but to be honest - that's a story for another time and the answer isn't important (for now).
Further confusing things is the fact that the Writers and Directors cannot seemingly agree, with Marcus and McFeely disputing the alternate reality theory that the Russo brothers subscribe to. You could argue that surely it is the Writer's view that counts, as..after all, they wrote it! Well, yes and no. The directors translate their understanding of the written word onto the screen and it has been reported that additional material was filmed after test audiences struggled with the time travel aspects of the film. Therefore it's not that hard to believe that the film - and that ending, were shot in a way that supported the film-makers understanding. I subscribe to the former - the romantic in me and all that, with Steve's story coming full circle with the revelation that he was always there with Peggy. Either way, both theories work and preserve the integrity of what has come before.
In any regard it's the perfect ending for Captain America!

So, to conclude....did it succeed? OH YES!!
If I Stay (2014)
If I Stay (2014)
2014 | Drama
The film's "live or die" premise is dumb, dangerous, and downright offensive. (4 more)
A totally lousy and illogical love story that lacks any heart.
The dialogue is almost as bad as Adam's 8-year-old-grade-level music lyrics.
It's far too frustrating and bland to be emotionally effective. The only pity I felt was for myself for having to sit through it for two hours.
If I Stay is unforgivable and reprehensible garbage. It should be avoided like the plague.
Had I not seen this film with a friend, it would have been the first movie I’ve ever walked out of. I haven’t hated a movie this much all year. If I Stay disappoints and offends on nearly every conceivable level.
Imagine yourself in a situation where your whole life is turned upside-down in an instant, and nothing will ever be the same again. That’s the troubling position young Mia Hall is faced with in If I Stay, after her and her family are involved in a terrible car accident. Mia wakes up from the crash, only to discover that she’s having some sort of transcendental experience, where she sees her own lifeless body being treated by paramedics. In her ghost-like form, no one is able to see or hear her, leaving her helpless as she watches her tragedy unfold. The devastating crash put her into a comatose state, and as she teeters on the verge of life and death, she’s informed by her nurse that whether or not she lives is entirely predicated on her will to survive. Based on the young adult novel by Gayle Forman, If I Stay asks us if life is still worth living even when all hope appears to be lost. Whether it’s really even worth it to endure life’s cruel hardship and heartache, and to muster the courage to face another day.

Well, if you answered that question with a resounding “yes!”, then like me, you’ll probably find this movie to be pretty darn stupid. Actually, regardless of your opinion on the matter, I think it would be hard for anyone to escape the fact that this movie is pretty darn stupid. However, as much as I find the central question of the movie to be absurd and even offensive, it didn’t detract from my interest in seeing the film. So let’s not make the assumption that I disliked this movie from the get-go, because that’s really just not true. Even though I may disagree with it, I can certainly sympathize with the idea of a teenager who is experiencing a life-shattering trauma and is afraid to continue living on afterward. However, I would personally argue that she hasn’t actually experienced any of that at all. She’s living in an extra dimensional safe-zone. Her horror can’t be real unless she makes it real by returning to life to face it. To look at it another way, couldn’t we say that if she chose death instead, that she never would have experienced the tragedy at all since she was stuck in a coma, and that she would be dead without ever knowing the fate of her family? That’s what I think, though I’ll admit it’s rather complicated as it draws upon unanswerable questions. To be frank, it’s a bogus scenario for a bogus movie that isn’t even worthy of that much thought, and clearly wasn’t ever given that much thought.

Before I digress on this topic, I’d like to look into a few of its implications, because I think it’s sending a terrible and dangerous message to its viewers, particularly the teenagers it’s targeted to. Basically, I believe the film is implying that death is a perfectly okay alternative to facing an undesirable change. I find that very idea to be immoral, irresponsible, and horribly atrocious. “Sorry your dad died, Timmy. If you can’t bear to live another day and want to end it all right here, well that’s okay with us. We understand and we won’t judge!” Are you kidding me? What kind of a message are they trying to send here? “Bad day? Just give up! Things are great here in Heaven! Join us today!” Is that really what they’re trying to tell us? How is anyone possibly okay with this? The film is essentially preaching that killing yourself is a perfectly acceptable option when life gets hard, and I have a really big problem with that. Whether we want to think about it or not, suicide is always an option we have in life, but that doesn’t mean that we should encourage it or try to pretend that it’s ever a favorable opportunity. Mia doesn’t even know what life will be like if she wakes up because she hasn’t lived it yet. Her fears are fully based off of negative assumptions. Yeah, maybe things will be really hard if she comes out of her coma. Maybe she’ll wish she was dead. Or maybe she’ll go through some difficult times, but then maybe things will get better and she’ll pick up the pieces and end up living a wonderful and happy life. Had she actually endured this new life and struggled with thoughts about suicide, I think it would have made for a far more compelling narrative, rather than all of this hypothetic nonsense. Either way, good or bad, life goes on. It’s up to us to adapt to it. Where there is hope, there is always possibility. With all that said, I would still contend that If I Stay’s premise is only the tip of the iceberg of its problems. This supposed tear-jerked failed to stir up any sympathy or sadness from me, and there are a few major reasons why.

First of all, it completely fails as a love story. The film is almost entirely devoid of romance, and has no believable connection between Mia and her boyfriend, Adam. Rather than being a Prince Charming type, Adam’s mostly just a jerk that she shouldn’t be wasting her time with in the first place. Yet the movie tries to make you believe that it’s love, and that this is what all normal relationships are like. It’s a complete crock. Movies like this give girls a false understanding of what love should be, and I find that to be an unforgivable offense. Adam’s the local hot shot rocker who falls for Mia, the talented young cello player who aspires to go to the renowned music school Julliard in New York. Adam manages to win her heart and the two of them start dating. Unfortunately though, their relationship can be pretty unpleasant to watch. Adam’s living the life of a local rock star and is blindly dragging Mia along for the ride, introducing the sweet, young girl to a world of parties, sex, and alcohol. Adam’s utterly oblivious to her disinterest in such a lifestyle and he rarely shows any concern for her feelings anyway. Yet she’s so foolishly committed to him that she follows this path of corruption, all for a guy who only thinks about himself. I thought this was supposed to be a love story, but it’s severely lacking in the love department. Just because Adam occasionally does something nice, we’re supposed to think he’s a good guy and forgive him for the majority of the time when he’s a lousy boyfriend and a loser? Of course, how romantic! Their whole relationship is lifeless and immensely frustrating. If living with him was my alternative to death, believe me, I’d choose death without hesitation.

Had I not seen this film with a friend, it would have been the first movie I’ve ever walked out of. I haven’t hated a movie this much all year. Even with my friend there, I still thought about leaving, then had a good laugh about the film’s title being so perfectly appropriate, as I contemplated to myself whether or not I should go. As much as I wanted to leave, I stuck it out all the way to the end. Then the entire audience ended up laughing at the ending, which goes to show I was far from the only one that thought this movie was a complete joke and waste of time. I had more than a few laughs at the film’s expense, from its dumb and derivative dialogue, to the way Chloe Grace Moretz slightly crosses her eyes whenever she’s upset. While I think I still remained open-minded about the film despite my issues with the story, I really don’t think the film itself was any good, nor does it appear to serve any purpose. Seriously, what’s the point of this movie? To give people hope that you can overcome obstacles in life? To justify suicide? I don’t know. Halfway through the movie, I was so disengaged from it that I was imagining how fun it would be to do cartwheels in the theater. That must be the lesson that I learned from all this. Well, that and to steer clear of crummy musicians, I suppose. While I’ve heard a lot of praise about the film’s soundtrack, I thought Adam’s band was quite horrendous. They do have a moment of redemption when they cover a Smashing Pumpkins song, which may have been the only good moment in this otherwise pitiful movie. I also found the lyrics of that song to be unusually appropriate to my misery when they said, “I’ll rip my eyes out, before I get out.” It’s almost funny that this might have been the only moment of the movie I could actually relate to: the thought of ripping my eyes out before being able to leave.

If I Stay is a movie that disappoints and offends on nearly every conceivable level. The saddest thing about this film is that garbage like this actually exists. Its pro-death agenda is just plain horrible and ill-conceived. It also troubles me greatly to think that teenage girls might watch this film and think that Mia and Adam’s tumultuous relationship is a desirable model of love. Lastly, I’d like to note that the If I Stay novel does have a follow-up book titled Where She Went. Wherever she goes, I sure hope it’s not back to theaters. If I have to sit through another If I Stay movie, I might just give up on life myself.

(This review was originally posted at on 9.5.14.)