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The Meg (2018)
The Meg (2018)
2018 | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Fins ain’t what they used to be.
OK, OK, so I must be about the last person in the country – at least, those who want to see this at the cinema – who actually has! Maybe its something about the summer slipping into autumn that made me crave for one last summer blockbuster hoorah! In any case, I feel like a bit of a traitor, since I was very scathing about this film’s trailer when it came out. But – do you know – as a brainless piece of popcorn entertainment, I quite enjoyed it!

Jason Statham – the unthinking man’s Dwayne Johnson – plays our hero Jonas Taylor. (Jonas? Surely some sly joke?). Jonas is drinking his life away in Thailand after being traumatised by an underwater rescue mission in which he was 90% successful. (Yeah, I know. Bloody perfectionists. Hate ’em). But he is needed again, since his cute ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is stuck at the bottom of the sea being terrorised by a terrifying creature: no, not Spongebob Square Pants… the titular prehistoric shark.

Lori is working at an undersea research station – Mana One – off the coast of China, funded by the annoyingly brash billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson, from “The Office”), who you just HOPE HOPE HOPE will get munched at some point!

Running the station (in the most shameless Hollywood/Chinese market crossover since “The Great Wall“) is Zhang (Winston Chao) assisted by his cute daughter Suyin (played by the gloriously named and very talented Bingbing Li) and his even cuter granddaughter Meiying (Sophia Cai). The race is on to use their brains and Taylor’s brawn to stop the monster from reaching the seaside resort of Sanya Bay for lunch.

The action is, of course, absurd with so many near misses for Jonas from gnashing teeth that he could be The Meg’s registered dentist. There is a really nice dynamic though built up between Jonas, his potential cross-cultural love interest Suyin and young Meiying. Suyin is a classic TimesUp heroine for 2018, with an assertive f***-you attitude and not remotely giving an inch to Statham’s hero.

But it’s young Sophia as Meying who really steals lines and steals hearts with a truly charming performance, and would get my ‘man of the match’ were it not for…

…research assistant Jaxx (Australian model, Ruby Rose). She has an absolutely extraordinary look in this film. Chiselled and tattooed, she literally looks like she has stepped out of a Final Fantasy video game… and acts well too: the complete package.

As referenced above, the Hollywood/Chinese crossover is quite striking in this film, with the Chinese beach location looking like Amity Island on crack! (Cue the overweight Chinese kid as the Jaws “Alex” replacement… who knew China had a child obesity issue too… and that they also have ‘Zoom’ ice lollies!) Unusually for a mainstream Western film, a significant number of lines in the film are in Chinese with English subtitles.

In the league table of shark movies, it is far nearer to “Deep Blue Sea” than it is to “Jaws”, the reigning league champion, and all are far in excess of the ridiculous “Sharknado”. But compared to “Deep Blue Sea”, and even compared to “Jaws” – now, astonishingly, 43 years old! – it’s a curiously bloodless concoction, presumably to guarantee it’s 12A certificate. I have seen far bloodier and more violent 12A’s, and if anything I think director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) rather overdid the sanitisation.

It’s not going to win many gongs at the Oscars, but it is a slice of movie fun nonetheless.
  
Tiny Epic Western
Tiny Epic Western
2016 | American West, Bluff, Business / Industrial
It’s no secret that we at Purple Phoenix Games are fans of the Tiny Epic series. But one that had evaded our reviews until this point was Tiny Epic Western. Admittedly, this one has been sitting on my shelf of shame for quite some time, so I finally decided it was time to take it off the shelf and bring it to the table! After squaring up with TEW, how does it compare to the rest in the series? Is this the rootinest tootinest of the bunch, or should it be bucked off my shelf?

Disclaimer: I do not intend to rehash the entire rulebook in this review, as there are just too many details, but will instead provide a more general overview of the rules and gameplay. -L

Tiny Epic Western is a game of worker placement and set collection in which players are trying to amass the most end-game victory points. Played over a series of rounds, players will be placing their Posse (Meeples), collecting Influence and taking actions, dueling opponents (if necessary), playing a bit of poker, and buying buildings in an effort to become the most powerful boss in this wild west town. To setup for a game, place the Location Mats as described in the rules, dealing a Building Card where appropriate. Each player receives a Boss card, 3 Posse tokens (Meeples), and one of each of the Influence trackers (Money, Law, and Force), placed on the 1 space of their card. Shuffle the decks of Building Cards and Poker Cards separately, choose a starting player (who receives the Dealer token), place the Wanted card/Gunslinger dice in the center of the play area, and the game is ready to begin! Pictured below is the starting setup for a 3-player game.

The game is played over 6 total rounds, each of which is broken into 4 phases: Shuffle and Deal, Posse Placement, Resolution, and Buy. To start a round, the Dealer shuffles the deck of Poker cards, and then deals 1 card face-up to the 6 empty spaces between the Location Mats. One Poker card is dealt face-down to the Rival Space (under the Town Hall Location Mat), and 2 Poker cards are dealt face-down to each player. Players look at both of their cards and pick 1 to keep, discarding the other. The round then moves to phase 2: Posse Placement. Starting with the Dealer, players will take turns placing Posse tokens onto the placement spots on any of the Location mats. All placement spots grant unique benefits (collecting different Influence or performing Building card actions) that are performed either immediately or during later phases of the round. What happens if an opponent took a placement spot that you wanted? Then it’s time for an old-fashioned duel! The dueling players each roll a Gunslinger die, modify it if they so choose, and determine a winner. Players continue taking turns placing Posse tokens until all available Posse tokens have been placed.

When all Posse tokens have been placed, the round moves to phase 3: Resolution. The first step of this phase is to reveal Poker cards – all players reveal their cards, and the card in the Rival Space is also revealed. Moving clockwise from the Town Hall, each Location will be resolved by ‘playing’ three-card poker. Each Location has 2 Poker cards directly adjacent to it (placed between the Locations in phase 1), and those 2 cards plus the one in your hand will form your Poker hand. Any players with Posse tokens on the Location will compare their Poker hands to determine a winner. If you win the hand, you collect the Winner’s Pot (extra benefits) and are able to collect any delayed benefits from placement spots in the Posse Placement phase. Losing the hand earns you nothing *womp womp*. If you are the only Posse on a Location (with no opponents) you will compare your hand to that of the Rival. The Rival’s hand uses the cards adjacent to the Town Hall, plus the revealed card in the Rival Space. If you have a better hand, you win the benefits on your Location. If the Rival wins, though, you do not collect these benefits. All Locations are resolved in this fashion before the last phase of the round, Buy, begins.

To start this phase, all players will compare their three-card Poker hands using the 2 Poker cards adjacent to the Town Hall. The player with the best hand will act first in this phase, followed by the next best hand, and so on. The first player may now choose to buy a Building card from any Location on which they have a Posse token. Pay the requisite amount of Influence to purchase a Building, and add it to the Porch Slot on your color-corresponding Location Mat. The power granted by this Building card is now available for use in future rounds. Once all players have had the option to purchase a Building, the player with the best hand will advance one of the Industry Tokens at Town Hall. The placements of Industry Tokens will affect end-game scoring, so keep that in mind as the game progresses. When all steps of the Buy phase are performed, the round now ends. Players collect all their Posse tokens back to their boss cards, all Poker cards are collected and re-shuffled, new Building cards are dealt to Locations from which they were purchased this round, and the Dealer token is passed to the next clockwise player. If a player did not buy a Building at all during the round, they have gained the Third Posse Benefit for the coming round – granting them an additional Posse token to place during phase 2. Otherwise, all players will only ever have 2 Posse tokens to place.


After a total of 6 complete rounds, the game ends and points are tallied. Victory Points are earned from Building cards bought throughout the game. Building cards have a specified VP amount, and also have a collection of Industry Icons on them. Using the final placement of the Industry Tokens on the board, players will earn points for Industry Icon sets they have collected. And finally, whomever holds the Wanted card (won the last duel) gains an additional 2 VP. Points are all counted, and the player with the highest score is the winner.
That all probably sounds pretty complicated. But I do have to say that verbally explaining/teaching the game (and being able to use components for examples) is waaaaay easier than doing so through a text review. So please do not let the seemingly complex gameplay turn you off from this game. Once you get a basic understanding of the phases of each round, the game moves along pretty seamlessly. Honestly, the biggest learning curve for me to conquer was playing three-card poker. As someone who has never played any form of poker before, this was probably what had me most hesitant about learning TEW. After having played it now, three-card poker really isn’t too complicated, and there are some nice player reference cards to help you figure it out.

Aside from the poker element, this game really comes down to worker placement and strategy. Each Location card only has a finite number of placement spots, and the resources required to buy Buildings are not exactly in abundance. This affects your strategy, as you must decide which resources to collect at what times, as well as deciding whether you need to duel someone for a coveted resource. Another element to your strategy? You may only buy Building cards from Locations on which you have a Posse token. Maybe none of those placement spots really appeal to you this round, but you reaaaaally want that specific Building card. Are you willing to ‘burn’ a Posse token for the chance to buy it? Or is there a different Location that offers a useful resources and a desirable Building card? Also, keep in mind how your poker hand will come into play. Since poker cards are dealt to each Location at the start of a round, you are able to see what your hand will be for each Location. Maybe you have a pretty strong hand at the Bank Location, but at the Courthouse the cards end up being a bust. Are you willing to risk a placement in hopes that you have the best hand of the bunch? Because remember – if you don’t have the best hand at a Location, you get no resources/rewards! There are so many elements to a successful strategy with this game, and it really keeps all players engaged at all times. Be warned though – the variety of strategic options could be difficult for some AP-prone players.


Let me touch on components for a minute. As with all Tiny Epic games, the production quality of TEW is pretty stellar. The cards are nice and sturdy, and the iconography is clear. The Posse tokens are cute Meeples with cowboy hats, and they are nice and chunky. The only thing I don’t really like about this game are the Gunslinger dice. In theory, they are super cool, but in actual execution, they leave much to be desired. The numbers aren’t really clearly define, so they’re a bit tricky to read. Aside from that, a pretty high quality game here.
So all in all, how does Tiny Epic Western stand up in the series? It is definitely one of the heavier games of the bunch, and there is so much more going on than initially meets the eye. It feels daunting for the first few plays, but once you get the phases under your belt, it really flows pretty well. I can’t say that it is my favorite Tiny Epic game, as I just personally feel like there are too many elements going on at the same time. You’re strategizing your worker placement, but also need to consider buying Buildings for VP and to collect sets of Industry Icons and for their specific abilities, as well as figuring out your poker hand for 5 different Locations, and dealing with duels. Some people might really be into that amount of strategic forethought, but it feels a bit cumbersome to me. That being said, Purple Phoenix Games gives this three-card poker game a 3/6. The gameplay is decent, just not really my kind of game.
  
In a Land of Paper Gods
In a Land of Paper Gods
Rebecca Mackenzie | 2016 | Fiction & Poetry
9
9.5 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
Better than expected
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

“My name is Henrietta S. Robertson. That’s my English name… My Chinese name is Ming-Mei.”

As the child of members of the Interior Alliance Mission, Henrietta has grown up between two cultures: English and Chinese. From the age of six she was sent to boarding school on a mountain in the Jiangxi Province, where four years later she remains as a small, pale, lonely girl.

For a girl as young as ten, Etta has a big imagination. She decides that God has called her to be a prophetess, and encourages the other girls in Dormitory A to join her in a Prophetess Club. This results is Etta getting into all sorts of trouble as she naively goes about inventing prophecies; all the while the Second Sino-Japanese War gets closer and closer to their mountain sanctuary.

Told mostly from Etta’s point of view, In a Land of Paper Gods is a hilarious historical novel about a young girl’s innocence. A large part of the story is about the missionary school rather than the ongoing war, therefore the focus is on Etta’s interpretation of the bible and her understanding of the differences between Western Christian and Chinese culture. However, once America joins the war effort, it is shockingly quick how the tale can go from humorous to heartbreaking.

The other character who plays a large part in this novel is Muriel, a dorm aunty, whom Etta regards highly. Muriel wanted to be a missionary but instead has found herself working at the Lushan school, keeping an eye on the ten and eleven year old girls. Although most of the book is written in Etta’s first person narrative, Rebecca Mackenzie has also included the occasional diary entry from Aunty Muriel. Since these are so few, it is not clear what their purpose is, as the story could easily continue without them.

Despite being an historical novel, In a Land of Paper Gods focuses less on fact and more on the impact the times had on a young girl. It is interesting to see the character development of Etta as she goes from a naughty, attention-seeking schoolgirl, to a young woman who must fend for herself. All the while she has her belief in God to resort to for explanations about the world she is living in. The reader also witnesses the growth of a relationship between Aunty Muriel and Etta. To begin with it is that of an adult and child, however it ends with them being equals in their suffering.

In a Land of Paper Gods is a pleasure to read. It is comically entertaining to begin with as the reader grows to love the characters, particularly mischievous Etta. It is hard to put the book down due to pure delight of the storyline, yet when the story turns darker it is just as difficult to put down, as we want to find out if the characters are going to be okay.

For some people, the Christian content will not mean anything, however it is possible to enjoy the novel without a religious background. For those, like myself, who do have a Christian upbringing, this aspect makes the story even better. Readers may recognize themselves or of their childhood in Etta, particularly her understanding of the bible.

Overall I loved this book. I was not sure what to expect, and have often found historical novels set in China to be rather dull. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to discover how good this book was. I encourage others to read In a Land of Paper Gods, and I look forward to reading what Mackenzie writes next.
  
The Festival Shoes
The Festival Shoes
Tolulope Okudolo | 2017 | Children
6
6.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
Layout (0 more)
A literal fairy story
This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Festival Shoes by Tolulope Okudolo is a fairy story (literally) for young children. Although referred to as “pixies,” the illustrations provided by Eric Scott Fisher look like typical western imagery associated with the magical, winged creatures. The main character, Drumlo, is an ebullient pixie who is about to embark on his first trip to Earth in order to deliver a very important gift. With so much relying on his success, it would be absolutely awful if something went wrong.

Weaverton, the name of the land of fairies, is an invisible world that lies above the Earth. Whenever a child has a good thought or does something virtuous, a colourful string, unseen by the human eye, snakes its way up to the hidden land. Collected by pixies, these threads are woven into magnificent presents, which are delivered to the children as rewards on the day of the Great Festival. In order to prove himself as capable, Drumlo has been charged with safely transporting a pair of shoes to a truly deserving girl. With an effulgent thread as a guide, Drumlo sets off on his exciting mission.

The author is the founder of the publishing company Magnifying Children’s Horizons, which aspires to inspire children physically, mentally and spiritually about the natural world. Tolulope Okudolo’s author biography implies she is a Christian and likes to bring this aspect of her life into her writing. Although, as far as we know, fairies and pixies only exist in folklore, Tolulope retains the idea of the existence of God by referring to an unseen High King who lives above Weaverton. In this respect, the Great Festival and gift giving become similar to our Christmas tradition.

The Festival Shoes, however, is not intended to be a Christian book. Its purpose is to enhance children’s creativity and character by showing them the impact of their good and bad behaviour by emphasising the idea of receiving rewards. Whilst Drumlo is on his journey to Earth, he passes through the land where all bad thoughts and actions go. Compared with everywhere else, this place looks dull and gloomy, which goes to show what happens when nature is neglected and not cared for.

Another important message The Festival Shoes shows children is to have faith in themselves to do something for the first time. Drumlo had never been given such responsibility before, but he believed he could do it. Even though something goes wrong, his faith sees him through. He does not give up, everything works out in the end.

Reading the book as an adult, The Festival Shoes is not all that interesting. The ending comes about too quickly and, although the author is trying to emphasise that Drumlo’s faith saves the day, he does not physically do anything to fix what goes wrong – slightly misleading, perhaps?

The coloured illustrations that appear on every other page are pretty but do not help to tell the story. It is not a picture book for very young children; it is the next stage up. With discussion questions at the end of the book, The Festival Shoes is for parents and children to read together and think about their own impact on the world and nature.

Unfortunately, the book does not look professionally produced. The choice of typeface is uninspiring and the illustrations do not always slot into place well, leaving awkward layouts. As an eBook, this does not matter too much, but if it were to be printed, sales are unlikely to rocket.
  
In a Land of Paper Gods
In a Land of Paper Gods
Rebecca Mackenzie | 2016 | Fiction & Poetry
10
9.5 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
<i>I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

“My name is Henrietta S. Robertson. That’s my English name… My Chinese name is Ming-Mei.”</i>

As the child of members of the Interior Alliance Mission, Henrietta has grown up between two cultures: English and Chinese. From the age of six she was sent to boarding school on a mountain in the Jiangxi Province, where four years later she remains as a small, pale, lonely girl.

For a girl as young as ten, Etta has a big imagination. She decides that God has called her to be a prophetess, and encourages the other girls in Dormitory A to join her in a Prophetess Club. This results is Etta getting into all sorts of trouble as she naively goes about inventing prophecies; all the while the Second Sino-Japanese War gets closer and closer to their mountain sanctuary.

Told mostly from Etta’s point of view, <i>In a Land of Paper Gods</i> is a hilarious historical novel about a young girl’s innocence. A large part of the story is about the missionary school rather than the ongoing war, therefore the focus is on Etta’s interpretation of the bible and her understanding of the differences between Western Christian and Chinese culture. However, once America joins the war effort, it is shockingly quick how the tale can go from humorous to heartbreaking.

The other character who plays a large part in this novel is Muriel, a dorm aunty, whom Etta regards highly. Muriel wanted to be a missionary but instead has found herself working at the Lushan school, keeping an eye on the ten and eleven year old girls. Although most of the book is written in Etta’s first person narrative, Rebecca Mackenzie has also included the occasional diary entry from Aunty Muriel. Since these are so few, it is not clear what their purpose is, as the story could easily continue without them.

Despite being an historical novel, <i>In a Land of Paper Gods </i>focuses less on fact and more on the impact the times had on a young girl. It is interesting to see the character development of Etta as she goes from a naughty, attention-seeking schoolgirl, to a young woman who must fend for herself. All the while she has her belief in God to resort to for explanations about the world she is living in. The reader also witnesses the growth of a relationship between Aunty Muriel and Etta. To begin with it is that of an adult and child, however it ends with them being equals in their suffering.

<i>In a Land of Paper Gods</i> is a pleasure to read. It is comically entertaining to begin with as the reader grows to love the characters, particularly mischievous Etta. It is hard to put the book down due to pure delight of the storyline, yet when the story turns darker it is just as difficult to put down, as we want to find out if the characters are going to be okay.

For some people, the Christian content will not mean anything, however it is possible to enjoy the novel without a religious background. For those, like myself, who do have a Christian upbringing, this aspect makes the story even better. Readers may recognize themselves or of their childhood in Etta, particularly her understanding of the bible.

Overall I loved this book. I was not sure what to expect, and have often found historical novels set in China to be rather dull. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to discover how good this book was. I encourage others to read <i>In a Land of Paper Gods</i>, and I look forward to reading what Mackenzie writes next.
  
Lies We Tell Ourselves
Lies We Tell Ourselves
Robin Talley | 2018 | History & Politics
8
6.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
<i>This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review</i>

<i>Lies We Tell Ourselves</i> by Robin Talley is a realistic tale about the beginning of the integration of coloured people into white schools in late 1950s America. In Virginia it is 1959 and ten Negros are beginning their first day at Jefferson Highschool. The experience is narrated from one of the ten, Sarah’s, perspective. In other parts of the novel the voice changes to that of Linda, a particularly nasty white girl, who is one of countless students opposed to integration.

Although many young people will have been taught about the black civil right movement it is still shocking to read about the horrible things they had to endure. By writing in the first person, Talley encourages the reader to try to understand how they would feel in a similar situation. Sarah and her friends instantly become the victims of verbal and physical abuse that members of authority turn a blind eye to.

To Sarah, Linda is a nasty spoilt bully who, although does not join in with the taunting and abuse, is as bad as the rest of them. Through reading Linda’s account it becomes clear that her behaviour has a lot to do with her home life, in particularly with her father’s attitude towards her. After being forced to partner Sarah for a French project Linda begins to question why there is so much emphasis on skin colour, however not wanting to be shunned by her own friends she keeps these thoughts to herself.

Sarah is also struggling to come to terms with her sexual preference for girls. It has been drilled into her that these thoughts are a sin. She hides her true feelings from everyone and constantly berates herself mentally for being “unnatural”. But it turns out she may not be the only one with these thoughts.

The lies referred to in the title are not the blatant or harmful lies but rather the lies the characters believe or even want to believe. Each chapter begins with a lie that reflects what is occurring in the novel at that time; for example “There’s no need to be afraid” and “I don’t care what they think of me.” This is an interesting way of telling the story as it emphasizes Sarah’s determination to keep going despite what she is subjected to. It also reveals the mental struggles she faces. On the other hand the lies disclose Linda’s conflicting feelings towards the South’s current situation and segregation laws.

Although not a religious novel, each part begins with the title of a Christian hymn. It was the norm for everyone to go to church and, despite the separate churches, was something black and white people did. Sarah and Linda have faith in God yet they both use the bible’s teachings for opposing arguments. The religious aspect also highlights Sarah’s self-hatred and belief that she has fallen into sin.

Unfortunately in today’s world there are still issues with racism and homophobia however after reading <i>Lies We Tell Ourselves</i> it is evident that these situations have vastly improved, at least in the Western world, since the 1950s. Without children such as Sarah going through these horrible experiences nothing would have changed. There would still be separate schools, slavery and inaccurate opinions about race inequality. America has a lot to thank these brave students who were the first to create mixed race schools.

Overall this is a brilliant book. Well written and realistic, it really draws the reader in to the characters’ stories. Although <i>Lies We Tell Ourselves</i> is a work of fiction, it is historically accurate and can teach a lot about America’s history to young adults today.
  
The Festival Shoes
The Festival Shoes
Tolulope Okudolo | 2017 | Children
6
6.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
<i>This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Festival Shoes</i> by Tolulope Okudolo is a fairy story (literally) for young children. Although referred to as “pixies,” the illustrations provided by Eric Scott Fisher look like typical western imagery associated with the magical, winged creatures. The main character, Drumlo, is an ebullient pixie who is about to embark on his first trip to Earth in order to deliver a very important gift. With so much relying on his success, it would be absolutely awful if something went wrong.

Weaverton, the name of the land of fairies, is an invisible world that lies above the Earth. Whenever a child has a good thought or does something virtuous, a colourful string, unseen by the human eye, snakes its way up to the hidden land. Collected by pixies, these threads are woven into magnificent presents, which are delivered to the children as rewards on the day of the Great Festival. In order to prove himself as capable, Drumlo has been charged with safely transporting a pair of shoes to a truly deserving girl. With an effulgent thread as a guide, Drumlo sets off on his exciting mission.

The author is the founder of the publishing company Magnifying Children’s Horizons, which aspires to inspire children physically, mentally and spiritually about the natural world. Tolulope Okudolo’s author biography implies she is a Christian and likes to bring this aspect of her life into her writing. Although, as far as we know, fairies and pixies only exist in folklore, Tolulope retains the idea of the existence of God by referring to an unseen High King who lives above Weaverton. In this respect, the Great Festival and gift giving become similar to our Christmas tradition.

<i>The Festival Shoes</i>, however, is not intended to be a Christian book. Its purpose is to enhance children’s creativity and character by showing them the impact of their good and bad behaviour by emphasising the idea of receiving rewards. Whilst Drumlo is on his journey to Earth, he passes through the land where all bad thoughts and actions go. Compared with everywhere else, this place looks dull and gloomy, which goes to show what happens when nature is neglected and not cared for.

Another important message <i>The Festival Shoes</i> shows children is to have faith in themselves to do something for the first time. Drumlo had never been given such responsibility before, but he believed he could do it. Even though something goes wrong, his faith sees him through. He does not give up, everything works out in the end.

Reading the book as an adult, <i>The Festival Shoes</i> is not all that interesting. The ending comes about too quickly and, although the author is trying to emphasise that Drumlo’s faith saves the day, he does not physically do anything to fix what goes wrong – slightly misleading, perhaps?

The coloured illustrations that appear on every other page are pretty but do not help to tell the story. It is not a picture book for very young children; it is the next stage up. With discussion questions at the end of the book, <i>The Festival Shoes</i> is for parents and children to read together and think about their own impact on the world and nature.

Unfortunately, the book does not look professionally produced. The choice of typeface is uninspiring and the illustrations do not always slot into place well, leaving awkward layouts. As an eBook, this does not matter too much, but if it were to be printed, sales are unlikely to rocket.
  
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
2019 | Action, Adventure, Drama
Characters – John Rambo is the war veteran we all know, he has retired to a small ranch away from the world, where he has created a series of tunnels, he has helped raise Gabrielle and wants her to achieve what he couldn’t in life, with college in her future. When she goes missing, John turns the switch he keeps on the off button, becoming the soldier that will kill anybody in his way, dealing with the traumas of war and not caring about the consequences, he starts a war with the Mexican gang, one that he is prepared to end. Gabrielle is like a daughter to John, he help raise her with her love of horse riding helping their bond, she is ready for college, but the one question she wants more than anything is why her father left her, which sees her go against John’s request to Mexico in search for him. She gets drugged at forced into prostitution, with no way of escaping her captors. Victor and Hugo Martinez are running the operation, they use the girls up and sell them, they use the gang numbers to deal with any unwanted attention, including John and if a girl escapes, they will make them pay. They are pretty much routine Mexican villains though.

Performances – Sylvester Stallone is back in one of his favourite franchises, he does keep John looking a lot more like a true veteran that is still haunted by his nightmares of war, even if he is mumbling his way through the film. Yvette Monreal fills her role with ease, naïve young girl, while both Oscar Jaenada and Sergio Peris-Mencheta don’t put a foot wrong in the villainous roles.

Story – The story here follows a retired calm John Rambo that is called into action when his adoptive daughter gets taken by a gang in Mexico and he will go to any lengths to get his revenge at save her. When it comes to this style of action film, the story doesn’t need to be very deep at all, in fact the basic plot is broken down as war veteran takes on gang who took family member, lots of bodies left lying. We do get glimpses at the idea that John is still dealing with the traumas of his experiences in war, though they are very small, if we didn’t have these, we could have easily have had just another older military person doing the same thing, it didn’t need to be Rambo for the most part. Saying this, it was nice to see Rambo returning to what made his actions popular in the First Blood, with his stealth ability over the countless bullets flying around. This is everything you want and need from a Rambo movie when it comes to the story.

Action/Western – The action in the film does take it time to get going, but when Rambo starts, my word this is one of the most graphic action movies you will see, certain sequences will make John Wick’s kills look like a Disney movie.

Settings – The film does use the Mexico setting for the fish out of water when it comes to John wanting to take the fight to them, so he makes them bring to the fight to him, showing us how deadly he is when he knows the land. The settings are key to the final act of the movie.

Special Effects – The effects are brutal, when it comes to the injuries people were wincing in the cinema at certain moments, they don’t hold back in anyway.

Scene of the Movie – Whole final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain stories don’t seem to get an ending.

Final Thoughts – This is one of the most violent action films that you will ever see, it uses the brutal action to highlight Rambo’s military skills and doesn’t hold back in anyway.

Overall: Graphic, Violent, Rambo’s Back.