Books & Reviews 📚

Books #148 – #151: predictable cheesy YAs and spies

I found this post while sorting through drafts! Apparently, I had written it a few months ago and forgot all about it! I’m just thankful I have something to post today! 🙂

Book #148: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

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This book won the Schneider Award for teens and I want to know how and why. This book was nowhere near excellent or mind-blowing. What drew me to this book was the Deaf Culture aspect. I’ve been working on a story in which the male protagonist is deaf – I may have mentioned this already – and I wanted to read similar stories along the line like it, but this book was so terrible, I did not get very far.

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Kinda how I feel about this book although I haven’t picked up ASL in a while!

Julie is Indian American and a graffiti artist who attends the Kingston School for the Deaf. Someone writes a slur about her best friend and she covers it up with a graffiti mural. This is illegal. And what do you know? The so-call best friend snitches and Julie is expelled. I DNF’ed this book before the halfway point, so I can’t really say much about the story, but the writing style was a turn-off and the art accompanying the story was pretty boring!

This story is recommended for 12 years old and up. I wouldn’t even recommend this to anyone and the usage of foul language was a dead turn off. No, universe, you’re not welcome. 

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Book #149: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

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Let’s get right into it. Things that bothered/annoyed me:

^ This sentence: He was the best friend in the world. (Page 3)

^ The texting: Most teenagers (and most adults for that matter) do not text in full sentences completed with full stops!!

^ When the story is written in the first person, the protagonist tends to overshare and in doing so, they become little narcissists. Hence why the author ends up overwriting most of the time.

^ Pages 85-86: Why is this girl on the phone… IN THE LIBRARY?! This irks me. And on top of it, she was talking rather loud.

^ Page 90: Throwing books? You don’t throw library property at each other! What hooligans! I’m sure the author wouldn’t want me to throw THIS book at someone!

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We have Abby. She’s an artist and is in love with her best friend Cooper who doesn’t “like her like her” that way. However, there’s a nice boy named Elliot who does and he is also into art. He sculpts. 

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I thought this book was going to be about Abby getting over unrequited love and falling for someone else who was not Cooper who took her for granted and even missed her big art show! Some best friend. Cooper and Abby as endgame were forced. I came away from this story not caring for Abby as she was irritating and I didn’t care for Cooper either. I mean, was I supposed to swoon over him? There was no chemistry between them at all. What in the world was West thinking?

Abby’s grandfather Dave and Elliot were the most exciting thing about this book. Like, where can I read their stories? love coffee

Book #150: The Gordian Knot by Bernhard Schlink

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The Gordian Knot is a term used to describe a complex (sometimes unsolvable) problem and is often associated with Alexander the Great.

What we have here is a strange spy novel which starts in the dashing French countryside, but ends up in New York. The writing was terrible, the plot weak, the characters pathetic and nothing really made sense. It was supposed to have been a Cold War spy thriller, but I ended up with a story that was not memorable. love coffee

Book #151: Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman

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Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod better known by her fascinating stage name Mata Hari hailed from the Netherlands and was an exotic dancer and courtesan. She was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War 1 by the French and was executed by a French firing squad in 1917.

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Ever since I came across Mata Hari’s story in the newspaper when I was really young, I’ve been intrigued by her background. Reading her story many years later, I’ve come to understand the dancing spy’s persona better. She was intelligent and an excellent linguist. A spotlight seeker who drew the admiration of many men wherever in the world she went.

She loved turning heads.

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The author did a good job in explaining Mata Hari’s story from her early life to exotic dancer and mistress, as an alleged spy for France to her death. A lot of research went into this book, but pages devoted to what life was in the Dutch East Indies and the Dutch presence in Indonesia was extraneous. Mata came across as a spoiled egotistical opportunistic sugar baby to military men. 

In short, it was a well-written story, but I was left wanting to shake some sense into her for being so dumb and trusting all for the sake of wanting to live as a material girl. The author was very sympathetic towards Mata, but I was not. Her life and death were controversial, yes, but she was naive to a fault.

Fun Fact: In Indonesian, matahari means “sun” or “eye of the day”. love coffeelove coffeelove coffee

***GIFs and images via Google Search

Entertainment

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the Blockbuster of the summer!

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The following discussion/rant may contain spoilers due to the writer being unable to hold back excitement or rants. If you have not seen the movie as yet and you plan to, don’t read this. If you plan to see it, but don’t mind spoilers or if you’re just curious about someone else’s thoughts other than yours, then by all accounts, be my guest. 

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Let this sink in: it’s been 22 years since Tom Cruise embarked on a mission to save the world as Ethan Hunt. Twenty-two years since I’ve met Ethan Hunt and decided that he’s my favorite action spy. 

And he’s still doing things James Bond could only dream about in his sleep. The latest Mission has been certified fresh…

…but I don’t need Rotten Tomatoes to tell me so. The pulse-pounding engaging action had me leaping off a rooftop and ducking from bad guys… okay, that did that happen… but it happens in my writing! 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a solid summer blockbuster. When I first watched the movie, I couldn’t decide if to give it 4 or 5 stars. I eventually settled on five and because of that, I’ll be discussing why I give the movie this rating instead of doing a ‘traditional’ review. This post can get lengthy. You’ve been warned. Again. 😒

Ethan Hunt 

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Unfortunately, this clip didn’t make the final cut 😢

Ethan gets better with age and experience. He is the heart of the team and a great leader. Tom Cruise IS Ethan and this character should never be recast. I also love the fact that McQ treats Hunt like a human rag doll rather than a superhero. He is human after all and we have to buy into the character which was well written. Hunt makes James Bond look lazy with his incredible running form and work ethic. After all, the best lie Tom ever told is that he’s an actor when he’s actually a real-life spy who uses acting as his cover.

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Christopher McQuarrie is a directing genius!

I feel as if McQ doesn’t get enough props. The first movie I’ve seen of his was Jack Reacher. Where Rohit Shetty doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do with cars besides flipping them, sinking them and blowing them up (Dilwale, Chennai Express, etc.), McQ approaches car scenes with action respect. He coordinates car chases spectacularly as in the case of Jack Reacher even though the poor Chevelle takes a crucial blow. RIP.

What I also love about McQ, he doesn’t use any fancy sounds/songs to strangle the action scene, something I’ll talk about when I reach the bathroom fight. He served as a director on Rogue Nation and Tom brought him back to do Fallout. McQ has topped himself and I wish Tom could work with him for the rest of his action life. What am I talking about? I don’t want to see Ethan Hunt in a wheelchair! 😁McQ knows how to craft spectacles and I take my hat off to him. I’ll love for him to direct one of my screenplays… well if I wrote any. 

The stunts 

TC is going to die while performing one of those crazy stunts one day, but he’ll go out doing what he loves for I bet he’ll find a way for the writers to write his death into the movie. Anyways, if you were to look up the word ‘stunt’ in the dictionary, you’ll probably see Tom Cruise as the definition. While it’s admirable that at 56, he still wants to do his own stunts, ain’t nothing wrong with the green screen sometimes. 

I enjoyed the stunts, though. There was a car chase in Paris and going the wrong way on a motorcycle at the Arc de Triomphe. A helicopter chase was shot in New Zealand, the HALO (high altitude low opening) jump sequence in Abu Dubai and the fight scene on Pulpit Rock in Norway. Watching TC dangle from a helicopter over dizzying landscapes was gasp-worthy. 

Yeah, he plane crazy!
GIF via Skydance

The action

Thrilling! The action was thrilling from start to end. It’s probably the best action movie of the century. The action in this film was kicked up a notch because McQ and TC had to top Rogue Nation. There’s a tunnel shootout, bike runs, car chases, running, cliff climbing, and helicopter parachuting. There’s a sequence where the camera rolls with TC for a few seconds in an uninterrupted sprint across a rooftop in London and I was sitting there randomly thinking, ‘Bolt was lucky to not have to compete with that!’ 

BMW rules!

Two BMWs make appearances in this film. At the beginning of the film, the sleek and classy brand-new BMW M5 makes her cinematic debut and it was gorgeous eye candy for a few minutes. 

However, the real star of the film was a classic 1986 E28 BMW 5 Series which Ethan Hunt bashed! I mean, he went in on that car. A funeral was promptly held after the drifting scene.

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He even smashed a BMW motorcycle in the Parisian streets.

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*shrugging* Sue me. I like seeing things get damaged… fictionally speaking of course!

That bathroom fight scene!

I talked about this epic fight scene in a post last month, but I’ll touch on it again. The fight looks realistic despite Liang Yang tearing a drain pipe from the wall as if he’s Hulk. I love that Hunt doesn’t beat everyone in the room singlehandedly and walks out unscathed, but he gets blows and lands blows. Even August Walker gets his butt kicked. The fight choreography was well done right down to Hunt’s keysi moves and reaction timing. The fact that there is no music makes it even better for the realism and grittiness simply shines through. Hollywood (and Bollywood), take note, for THIS is how you do a fight scene.

August Walker 

I love the name, but I like Henry Cavill better when he isn’t speaking. I get why women like him: he’s tall, dark, brooding and good-looking, but thankfully, the man is not my cup of tea and I can watch movies with my eyes open. I’ll rather watch TC watch paint dry anyway. 

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Walker is an assassin who is put in charge of babysitting Hunt if he ever tries to go rogue again. This is a spoiler, but when Hunt was telling Walker how to catch John Lark and Hunt aims the masked gadget at Walker’s face, it foreshadows that Walker and Lark are one person. I like the character, but I feel as if Cavill didn’t do Walker much justice. He’s wooden but shares good chemistry with TC. It gave me immense pleasure when Walker met his demise in the end.

Men in suits

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White Widow and Ethan 

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Vanessa Kirby as Alanna Mitsopolis aka White Widow the daughter of Max from the first MI was my favorite female (shockingly!) and I would’ve loved to see more of her. She is a lover of paradoxes and there is playful chemistry between her and Ethan. 

I guess if Hunt wasn’t already spoken for, there might have been some sort of ‘relationship’ between these two characters for they look good together. 

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Ilsa Faust and Ethan

Their relationship is complex, but they care about each other. Ilsa has Hunt’s best interest at heart and she’s sort of protective of him. Although he doesn’t need her protectiveness, her hovering is kind of cute.

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They’re endgame after all and although many fans complain that they’re yet to kiss, I don’t have any problem at all. Their tenderness for each other is beautiful enough. 

Ilsa Faust — rebeccalouisaferguson: Tom Cruise and Rebecca...

The 3 Musketeers! 

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And everyone else…

The cast gelled great and Tom Cruise seems to have some sort of chemistry with everyone. The women (White Widow and Ilsa Faust) are not sexualized like the Bond films even when the camera is on them. They’re capable and independent and they’re not in need of rescuing. Luther (Ving Rhames), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) were also given their moments to shine regardless of their time on screen. I was particularly happy to see a chapter close for Hunt’s ex-wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan). Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) was scary good and Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) might have made his last appearance as the IMF Secretary. 

The supporting cast was great and I love how McQ layers a character.

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The Ending

When the credits start rolling, I realized that Fallout actually closes out a chapter in the series leaving room for a new story altogether. The storytelling started with Rogue Nation all thanks to McQ. It also closes the storyline of Ethan Hunt being a one-man show for he now has someone by his side to bear the burden with him. This brings us to the 7th MI which Tom says is going to be in the works and has asked McQ to direct. If McQ does direct the 7th MI, it’ll be a trilogy of sorts for him. He breathed new life into a 22-year-old franchise in which the main character is still Tom Cruise. I have no idea what they’ll do for the 7th one, but I think they should come film in the Caribbean. You know? Change up the scenery a little bit? Trinidad has a lot to offer. 😁Or maybe they can head to space. Now that’s going to be an impossible mission for sure!

Thoughts aside, while it’s refreshing to see that TC refuses to stereotype himself as a ‘grandpa’ actor (taking on certain roles because his boyish charms are long gone), I refuse to see Hunt in a wheelchair. 

Overall

The lighting and the atmosphere in the movie is just gorgeous! The movie was like a dose of human love towards humanity. It was relentlessly entertaining, the plot was solid, and it’s the only franchise I’ve seen get better with every film. Everything was well done from the directing, writing, music score, and cinematography. This film was made for fans and not to appease Hollywood elitists. There were several scenes that were shown in the trailer that didn’t make it into the final cut, but the movie turned out well and the shots of Paris were magnifique

TRIVIA

^ Tom Cruise trained for an entire year to perform the HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) stunt in this film.

^ Solomon Lane is the first villain in the franchise to appear in two films.

^ At 2 hours and 27 minutes, this is the longest “Mission: Impossible” film to date. Still wasn’t long enough for some people (including my sister and friend) who didn’t want it to end. 

^ Christopher McQuarrie was the first director in the franchise to direct more than one film.

^ The bathroom fight was meant to be shot in 4 days but due to the complexity of the fight, it ends up being shot over 4 weeks. Best. Fight. Ever!

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^ This was the first “Mission: Impossible” film to be released in 3-D.

^ Tom Cruise did all stunts by himself. Props.

^ The building Tom Cruise was jumping across when he broke his ankle is Baynard House, near Blackfriars, in London. It is a building owned by BT and used as offices, meeting rooms, a car park, data routing centre and telephone exchange.

^ The helicopter which Ethan Hunt pilot is an H125 which was manufactured by Toulouse-based company Airbus. Ayy, France! 

^ Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames are the only actors to appear in all six “Mission: Impossible” films.

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(Via IMDb)

Would I watch it again?: Already did.

Memorable Lines:

Solomon Lane: There cannot be peace without first a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace. The end you’ve always feared… is coming.

AND

Delivery Man: Fate whispers to the warrior.
Ethan Hunt: There’s a storm coming.
Delivery Man: And the warrior whispers back.
Ethan Hunt: I am the storm.

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***All photos and GIFs via Google Search

If you’ve read the entirety of this discussion, thank you, or simply skip and came to the end of this, I have a question for you: Did you enjoy Fallout as much as I did?