REVIEW: The Invitation (2015)

the invitation movie posterWill (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corineadli) are invited to his former home by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman) for a lavish dinner party. But as the night progresses, Will can’t help but feel that something sinister is in the air.

The Invitation is a gripping and eerie film. You see everything from Will’s point of view so like him, you start to get the feeling that something is not quite right. The people gathered at the dinner party are mostly old friends who haven’t really seen each other for two years meaning there’s a lot of information about them that Will doesn’t know.

Throughout the film, there’s flashbacks and characters take moments to have private conversations which gives you all you need to know to piece together how all these people know each other and why they might not have talked for two years. The Invitation definitely doesn’t talk down to its audience which is much appreciated.

The Invitation is a film that slowly builds the tension. This is great as through the evening Will tries to fight his fight-or-flight instinct as he wants to be a polite guest even though he can’t help but feel something is very wrong. However, the film struggles to find that line between being a slow-building, interesting film and just being slow. You have an uneasy feeling and are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s a long wait but when that shoe does finally drop, it’s a great payoff.

The Invitation is suspenseful thriller, set primarily in one location. It gives you a creepy feeling and will definitely make you reconsider when you next receive a posh invite to a dinner party. 4/5.

REVIEW: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

star trek beyond movie posterWhen responding to a distress signal in the far reaches of uncharted space, the crew of the USS Enterprise a drawn into a trap by the ruthless and mysterious Krall (Idris Elba). Stranded on a barren planet, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew must work together to find a way to save the universe.

What Star Trek Beyond gets really right, is the characters. The crew of the Starship Enterprise are supposed to be like a family and that really comes through here. It helps that unlike the previous two Star Trek films where they were primarily focused on the relationship between Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto), this time they and the rest of the crew are split up into teams that you don’t normally see. It’s a clever move by script writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung as it allows the film to explore different character dynamics and still gives each character time to shine.

When Scotty (Simon Pegg) ends up stranded, he meets Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), someone who has also been stranded and is fighting to survive. Jaylah is a brilliant character. She’s a badass, she’s funny and she’s also really interesting. She fits in well with the crew of the Enterprise and while she may be a new character, there is neither too much focus on her nor is she pushed into the background.

One of the best character dynamics presented in Star Trek Beyond is that of Bones (Karl Urban) and Spock. They must work together and you see how their personalities clash but they still respect each other. Both Urban and Quinto are funny and give great performances. While Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) may have less to do than their crewmates, they all still shine and have a moment or two of awesomeness. To be honest, one of the best things about the rebooted Star Trek movies is the casting – it has been spot on and each actor brings a lot to their role even when the script doesn’t give them so much.

The script really is great as it combines action, humour and the heart of Star Trek which is hope and unity. There’s never a dull moment in Star Trek Beyond because the film starts right in the middle of a mission and from there there’s always something happening. Justin Lin does a great job directing. He has proved with his outings as director of four of the Fast & Furious films that he can handle action sequences but with Star Trek Beyond there are also quieter moments where the camera barely moves at all. Plus, like the Fast & Furious franchise Star Trek, in amongst the explosions and death-defying situations it really is all about family.

Krall is an interesting villain. He’s foreboding yet pretty mysterious throughout most of the film but when his motivations become clear it offers another layer to his character and everything he has said and done previously makes even more sense. Idris Elba is two of the most threatening and potentially scary villains this year, Krall and Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, and both times you don’t really see his face. That’s some acting.

Star Trek Beyond was truly wonderful. Full of action, humour and brilliant character moments. It is definitely one of the better Star Trek films, not just in the rebooted series but including the previous ten Star Trek films as well. 5/5.

The Liebster Award 3.0

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Ola from OlaReadsBooks – thank you so much for the nomination! I’ve been nominated before (you can check out my answers and discover more awesome blogs here and here) but I liked Ola’s questions a lot and I like shining a light on some great blogs, so without further ado, on to the award!

liebster-blog-award

The Rules:
Post the award on your blog.
Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
Answer the questions assigned to you.
Nominate 11 deserving bloggers for the award.
Ask 11 questions to your nominees.

Ola’s Questions:

What is the last sentence from the book you’re currently reading that you read?
“It’s not an easy thing, deciding how much to sacrifice.”
From United as One by Pittacus Lore. Even though this book is super fast-paced and full of action, I’m trying to read it slowly because I don’t want this series to end.

What is the funniest book you’ve ever read?
The first that comes to mind is The Martian by Andy Weir. It is definitely laugh out loud funny, mainly because the protagonists voice is so vivid and his personality shines through.

What is your book buying habits? Do you research a book before buying or just buy it on a whim?
The only research I do when it comes to buying books is reading the blurb. I might be more aware of a book before buying it because I’ve seen it’s popular in the book blogosphere but I never look at its Goodreads rating or read any reviews before buying a book. (more…)

My first OwlCrate Box

My OwlCrate box arrived earlier this week and I can’t wait to show you what was inside. This was the first time I’d subscribed to Owl Crate, while I have tried other subscription boxes I hadn’t really thought about OwlCrate since it is a US based one so presumed it’d cost more in shipping and take a long time to get to me in the UK. I was both right and wrong. Shipping cost $20 which is roughly £15 which is a bit much for me to pay on top of the cost of the actual box, or at least it’s a bit much to spend every month. But I was really surprised by how quick it got to me – it shipped on the 15th and arrived just four days later!

FullSizeRender (13)

Each month there is a theme and this month’s theme was Good vs Evil and to be honest, that’s pretty much why I decided to give OwlCrate a go this month. I love a villain and this month everyone would receive the same book but you’d either receive Good themed goodies or Evil themed ones. By pure chance my box was an Evil themed one which made me really happy. (more…)

REVIEW: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

unwind neal shustermanThe Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The resolution is a chilling one: Life is inviolable from conception till the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen children can be “unwound” where all the child’s organs are harvested and distributed into different donors so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is a problem for his parents. Risa is a ward of the state, budget cuts and lack of talent means she’s not worth keeping alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child raised to be unwound. Together, they might have a chance to escape, and to survive.

Unwound is a dystopian YA novel where the pro-life vs pro-choice debate has led to a world where teenagers are just seen as viable body parts and parents can easily get rid of problem children. It’s a grim world and the way it’s so excepted and how they operate on the children is very unsettling.

Connor, Risa and Lev are all different kinds of people who are thrown together in a difficult situation. You get the story from their perspectives so while you may understand their actions, the other characters don’t. It can be frustrating and they aren’t always likeable, especially Lev because of his naivety and Connor because he often acts without thinking. Risa is the only one who manages to keep a level-head and while she does sometimes get mad at both Lev and Connor, she is very practical and excepts other people’s mistakes with good grace.

Unwound is a fast-paced read that appears to be a thrilling start to a series. The chapters are short and pretty much every one ends on a cliff-hanger. There’s lies, double-crossing and secrets throughout as Connor, Lev and Risa meet new characters who may or may not cause them harm.

I think I will be carrying on with this series, it’s a compelling and action-packed book and I’m interested to see what becomes of the characters. There’s a secondary character called Hayden who I liked a lot but considering my luck with secondary characters in dystopian novels I’m half expecting him to die/something terrible happens to him in later books. 4/5.

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Most Recent Additions to Your Wishlist

Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature created by GingerReadsLainey and hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. This week it’s all about those books we’ve recently thought “ooh that looks interesting, I’ll have to pick that up sometime soon” and then added them to your Amazon wishlist.

Girl Up by Laura Bates
I read and loved Everyday Sexism last year so I’m really want to read Laura Bates’ next book. From what I can gather it’s all about the pressures society puts on young girls and how the media reinforces that. Like Everyday Sexism, it will probably make me very angry but it’ll probably also be a very interesting and important book.

Girls on Fire by Robin Wassweman
I don’t have a clue how I heard about this book but it’s one of my most recent additions to my wishlist. It seems to be all about female adolescence and rebellion and I always love a book centred on girls.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book. It’s set during a school shooting which is obviously a tough subject but I really want to see how it’s handled.

Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer L. Powzer
I watched and loved the documentary Miss Representation and the author of Reality Bites Back was one of the women interviewed. I found her opinions interesting so I would like to hear more from her.

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
I saw the trailer for the film adaptation of this book which stars Emma Roberts and Dave Franco (both actors I like) so now I’m interested in the book. It looks like a fast-paced story full of potentially risky or dangerous situations.

What books have you recently added to your wishlist?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Books Set Outside The US

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. This week it’s all about different book settings, especially as so many popular books are set in the USA, so it’s good to share books that are set in different places to the norm.

FullSizeRender (1)Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
This book is set in Brighton in England. It stuck with me as I actually live about 45 minutes away from Brighton so it was fun recognising the place that the story was set.

 

 

tokyo heist elenasquareeyesTokyo Heist by Diana Renn
As the title might suggest, the majority of this book is set in Tokyo. The descriptions of Tokyo are very vivid and then when the story moves to Kyoto it sounds like such a beautiful and peaceful place.

 

lagoon elenasquareeyesLagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Lagoon is set in Lagos in Nigeria – a place I’ve never been too and I’d never read a book set there either. While I have mixed feelings about the book, I loved how Lagos was described and it felt like a bustling city that may have it’s problems but was still kind of beautiful. (more…)