Sunday, 2 February 2014

'The Wolf Of Wall Street' By Jordan Belfort Book Review

If anyone was wondering what it would be like to be my movie buddy, the answer is, it would suck. Why? Not because I have shit taste in movies, no, my movie taste eats yours and feeds the bones to your mother. It would be terrible because I am one of those assholes who must, MUST read the book of a movie before I can see it.
Does this mean I am going to review the 2013 movie of this book, yes, once I find a way to circumvent the fact that its been banned here in Kenya, I'll be all over it.
The book though. This is the second non-fiction book I have read this year already and fuck if it wasn't great.

Meet Jordan Belfort. Young man with a beautiful wife, a new family and a job in brokerage that makes him millions. Head of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, Jordan makes millions, and is not above circumventing the law to make a few more on top of the abundant that he already makes. His life is hookers, drugs and white collar crime and basically whether or not he will spiral out of control is a matter of when rather than if. Spoiler alert, he does, fantastically.

One thing I loved, and there were many, was the tone of the book. It had what I felt was a funny, dark sort of tone, the only tone really in which you can recount the shameless debauchery that takes place over the almost decade it follows. This worked for me because I appreciate the dark humour. It was funny, not in the ha-ha funny way, but in the 'I can't believe this shit, oh my gods' way. Some of the scenarios are utterly outrageous and the entire time it feels like, this is not real. The tone is shameless, almost daring you to believe everything that it is describing although it seems outrageous. He calls himself the 'Wolf' and says that the 'Wolf' is a persona, separate from himself, that he was performing as the Wolf which brought about a 'can I trust you' thing for me while reading.

Though this is a retelling of an actual period in this man's life, it was written in a way that is probably as close to fiction as it can get without a complete crossover. From the way he describes the characters, to the way he describes settings and events it is surprisingly well written, not just bare bones exposition.

The majority of it seemed a report of the wild ride he was having but the tone of the book drops like a rock when recounting the depths of his drug addiction near the end. It stopped being so amusing and became really fucking dark for a while. I literally felt guilty for having been so thoroughly entertained by his foibles up to that point. I felt there were moments of sincerity and vulnerability but they were few compared to the complete vulgarity that ran throughout the story. His ego is big, this one and that is probably what keeps him to a great degree unlikable. But then again, you have no business really liking a creep like him.

I found it hard to do things that were not reading this book. I was reading another book, I was thinking about this book. I was in school without this book, I was thinking about this book. I really liked it you guys and would not recommend it as readily as I would recommend anything else but probably would do so for the fact that it is a cautionary tale; what happens when you play with fire.... Martin Scorsese makes a movie about your life you get burned. This book is pure excess, wears you the fuck out. Obviously, if you are young or sensitive to drug abuse, sex and coarse language, read this book, you're gonna hate it.  5 stars out of 5.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

'Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet' By Matt Kadish Book Review

After a week or so of total immersion in science fiction and fantasy, one's grasp on reality loosens. It loosens ideally to the point where if the pretty girl from class who you always thought was from West Virginia tells you she is really an alien and Earth is about 15 minutes from total detonation, you  believe her.

'Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet' is about just that, for at least the first of its three parts. The story then follows the literally and figuratively 'out-of-this-world' adventure that Jack and the friends he makes along the way have.

The hero of our story is terribly average, in fact, slightly below average teenager Jack Finnegan. Jack has had an absolutely shit day. He was late for school, had a fight with a bully and got detention. Surely, having to worry about a fleet of genocidal aliens coming after your planet is too much, all things considered am I right?

The tone of the book is casual, and in a way, I would say unhinged. It had a youthful imagination and absurdity about it, as well as giving plenty of insight into what teenage boys think about, which, as a person who has never been a teenage boy, I thought was hilarious. It tells a story of what is actual Armageddon in a really fun, sort of light manner. Though there are some serious parts, Jack hits us with a cheesy one-liner and then we can laugh as the smoke from that planet over there that just exploded dissipates.

Speaking of smoke dissipating, the story is surprisingly action packed, for the somewhat sedate beginning it had. One minute we are in Physics class and Jack is sassing his Professor, the next someone is being tortured to death-no spoilers-the next we are meeting aliens and frequently almost dying. Blame this on the last few weeks being total sci-fi/fantasy immersion for me but I couldn't help imagining this book as a fantastic graphic novel or 3-D film. Co-directed by J.J Abrams, Michael Bay and Peter Jackson...shit, I'd see it.

The book constantly brought to mind superheroes and video games for me, in a sort of nostalgic manner that made the reading experience really, colourful, and loud. I really like it you guys. And in the boring, adult way that I see things sometimes, there is a really interesting treatment of things like 'freedom', 'will' and 'choice' in the book. It ends on a bitch of a cliffhanger but that is because this is only the first in what is intended to be a series of seven books. Give this to your kids, your boyfriend, your pal who loves old school arcade games, your mother, everyone.

Just by the way, a peek at Mr. Matthew Kadish's (the author) social media and website was very, very much worth the clicks it took to get there.



Friday, 9 August 2013

'Doha 12' By Lance Charnes Book Review

There was a time I thoroughly enjoyed thrillers. I still do, but there was a time I would read them almost exclusively. I went through a phase of reading whatever the fuck I wanted for a while and then picked up the Millennium trilogy. That is a thriller trilogy and Goddammit I hated it. Coming off of that clusterfuck of a series I read this novel.

I really enjoyed it.

This book does this thing that I feel all thriller books should do, and that is be engaging within the first 20 pages. And I mean thoroughly engaging. Very early in the book I had a million questions and was already swept up in the story.

What is the story? Well, between the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in Tel Aviv and terrorist sect Hezbollah in Lebanon, Miriam Schaffer, Philadelphia secretary and Jake Eldar, Brooklyn bookshop owner become unwittingly wrapped up in an international terror scandal. Along with 10 other civilians, their names were used by Mossad in an extermination mission of a high ranking Hezbollah commander in Doha, Qatar hence the Doha 12. A Hezbollah hit team is now knocking off the civilians one by one.

There is so much to the book. Such a rich backdrop to what is unfolding. The characters have their own backstories which are great and the scale of what is going on is amazing. Besides following Miriam and Jake, the author fleshes out the secondary characters like the Mossad agents and the members of the hit team. Alongside Miriam and Jake's story, there are several subplots which  are really great and do well to build the story, it being an INTERNATIONAL thriller, it has a lot to it. literally. These characters are humanized, and the weight of what they do is shown to weigh on them, more than in the physical manner.

I felt for a lot of the book that it was a few steps ahead of me. The action was very fast, and many things in many places happened at once. This kept it exciting and gave an urgency to everything. The book only spans a matter of months, but things become so drastically different in the individual characters' lives. There were a few parts that were so ridiculously sad, and others where I felt, 'Isn't it too much? Haven't they had enough?' The treatment of life and death in the literal, figurative and spiritual sense is remarkable, as well as living in fear and allowing circumstances to leave you shortchanged. The ending was satisfying but so much had been lost since the beginning, there is truly something ferocious and manic which allows us to exceed what we think ourselves capable of.

This book made me sweat. It was great. There are some visceral emotional and violent portions in case anyone avoids those but what a great read regardless. Stars out of five... four.

Purchase on Amazon HERE.
Stalk the author AT HIS SITE.
Follow him on Twitter HERE.


Friday, 26 July 2013

'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest' by Stieg Larsson Book Review

Who's managed to read through all the books in the Millennium Trilogy?

Well, I would suppose lots of people, who I now join. It's finally happened.

It is the last book in the trilogy and the tail end of Lisbeth Salander's misadventure. The book resumes where the last left off; with Lisbeth critically injured, an international gangster momentarily subdued and Blomkvist ready and willing to carry the entire mess to court for Lisbeth's well deserved justice.

The book is mainly about Lisbeth's journey in police custody from nearly dead to court to be tried for various crimes she both did and did not commit. She however, in custody has to rely on an outside team headed by the one and only, head meddler in her affairs, Blomkvist to uncover the truth about the people trying to get her and to win her case.

There is a load, LOAD of new characters entering the picture during this novel. Last book in the trilogy and must be like this? A lot of them were absolutely necessary but I could have lived without a lot of the character development they were afforded and how much of the book was dedicated to them. I know, when is character development ever a bad thing? When the character about whom the book is written starts to look like part of the support. I KNOW it is probably towards the end of illustrating the sheer scale of what is going on but shit, we don't care about these bitches, and hundreds of pages without apparent plot development is really disheartening.

The book's denouement, I won't say what it is because spoilers and epilogue pretty sweet. There was a section, AS USUAL after the climax where a load of nothing happens for about fifty pages but after that, the book wraps up nicely. In fact, among the maddening subplots, a resolution to Lisbeth's dramas was a wrapping up neatly.

The plot is draggy as all hell and there are these subplots, dear Lord. There was a little less action than there was in the last two books but that considered, the book did not have to include as much as it did. I sensed padding. A load of it. The book has these vaguely exciting events whose excitement is like is just flat because the plot drags itself along so much. Then again, perhaps at this point I was just a little jaded.

Like the previous books it is a bit NSFW and potentially scandalous for sensitive readers. I thought getting to the end would get me on #TeamSalander but nope, still can't stand the girl. It is a challenge feeling anything for her because despite being served a terrible fate, she does a lot of the damage all on her own. I feel that she makes no real effort herself to really respect people and be civilly responsible. I have to say though that she does grow as a character somewhat from the first novel. The way a 5cm tall bean stalk can grow into a 7.5cm beanstalk.

Verdict on the trilogy though? Does not stand up to rereading, as far as I am concerned but all the reviews I have heard about this book trilogy have been good. IDK whether we read the same thing but perhaps it just was not to my personal taste. It is an intricate and developed story-line  shocking at times, suspenseful at times, actually very good at times but maybe just not for me. A lot of people really appreciated it so I wouldn't discourage anyone from giving it a bash.


Sunday, 23 June 2013

'The Great Gatsby' By F. Scott Fitzgerald Book And Movie Review

Sandra on the blog. Whut whut! How’s it hanging!?


That was a perfectly appropriate introduction to a The Great Gatsby’ Book and Movie review wasn’t it?

After weeks of re-reading, fangirling, obsessing and talking my best friend’s ear off about it, I finally went to see Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. To be honest the night before I was supposed to go I was feeling really conflicted, because I had read completely polarizing reviews on it.
Firstly, the novel. ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an American classic and Gatsby an iconic character. It is beautifully written, very quotable and darn posh-sounding. Sound like a goddam genius bringing it up during discussions. This book, I love. It follows mysterious and charismatic Jay Gatsby who in his pursuit of his incorruptible dream, surrounded by poisonous people, meets an undeserved and tragic fate. He stakes his dream on loving a woman who can never be his with disastrous consequences. I have read and reread this novel and honestly never get tired of it. I was well excited to see the 2013 movie release.
From the outset however, I was wary. I learned that Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio were playing Daisy and Gatsby. My quarrel is that they didn’t look like the Daisy and Gatsby I imagine when thinking of the story. I remember telling a friend that I thought DiCaprio was too cuddly to be Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s characters are Daisy and Tom; the Buchanans, Nick Carraway our narrator, Jordan Barker golf star extraordinaire and of course Jay Gatsby, the incomparable, the amazing, the unforgettable, the- okay I’ll stop.

Gatsby for most of the story remains a mystery, not even appearing until like the third chapter. Nick as well in his narration attempts to paint himself the storyteller, detached from the action to some extent. Daisy is portrayed as charming to death and C. Mulligan just seemed so stern sometimes. Tom is an asshole who does a lot of talking out of that same orifice and Jordan is, well, she’s forgettable. I felt we were allowed to become more intimate with Nick as a narrator in the movie than we are with the book and he is fleshed out as more of a character rather than just the teller of the story. We heard a lot about Nick didn't we? Yes, very much.

I studied this book last year of high school and there was this question the teachers used to bother us with; ‘What in the end was it that made Gatsby great?’ it was his extraordinary gift of hope. Absolute belief and conviction in his dream despite everything. In the thorny bushes of the careless rich he was the sole blossom, and it was his fate that the thorny intentions of those around him would bring his demise. The movie puts this across pretty well I felt. Though at times I thought DiCaprio’s Gatsby was a little abrasive and almost unkind, it was distressing but that particular feature of him, the one that made him great was well communicated.
Let’s talk about the actual movie now though. Holy shit where do I start. Did anyone hear *spoiler alert* ‘H.O.V.A’ playing during this movie set in the 20s? Did anybody notice Nick was writing the story from a psych facility? DID ANYONE HEAR TOBEY MAGUIRE’S INTRODUTORY NARRATION!!

Allow me to dwell on this for a few, I won’t even start on how Tobey sounded like a geriatric speaking those lines, no, my problem is the almost criminal watering down of it! Many lines were changed to fit better/sound better/not get too long-winded but THAT LINE, of all the damn lines why that one? Call me a book snob because shit, with this book I have every right to be. They retained a good amount of the original text in the movie, best part was at the end where most of the last page was narrated practically line for line but there were a lot of lines I really wanted to hear. Some parts as well were delivered so ‘meh’ that that might as well have not been included. Reading the book however it is understandable that the language which is very sophisticated-sounding and grandiose in its imagery and, well, sheer number of long words could be a little bit tiresome.

Here’s a fact, JAY-Z did the music for this movie. The 1920s was the Jazz era and the music in this film... not going to lie, I sort of liked it, was jazz with modern beats and modern songs jazzed up. The set and costume design was to die for. Fitzgerald spends pages and pages describing the parties and the opulence and the film visually is faultless.

I talked a paragraph or so up about how some of the lines I super wanted to hear were left out. The last couple paragraphs are narrated by Nick practically word for word in an absolutely heart breaking and aptly tragic end to the movie. I didn’t totally dig Maguire’s Nick though, I thought him a lot less sophisticated than Fitzgerald’s. As someone who knows the story though, I should not have been crying as much as I was but shit. I think the end so beautifully captured the tragedy that was Gatsby’s life and demise, set to Fitzgerald’s gorgeous prose and finished with G’s fading green light... I was a mess. I liked the ending so much I was willing to overlook the fact that the funeral and G’s father’s visit were completely left out. Besides the end, the scene on that hot afternoon in New York when Tom and Gatsby have it out was powerful.

I would readily read and recommend the novel any number of times but hit the movie with a solid 7 over 10. Would be a 6 but that gorgeous ending gets that extra.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Donate and Receive Rewards

Hello Readabababababunnies. Josiah here. As some of you know, I'm publishing my novel late this year/early next year. I'm doing some fundraising to get a wee bit of extra funding for the process. Even better - you get rewards - the more money you donate, the better (and more) rewards you'll get! The lowest you can donate is NZD $5 (USD $3) and maximum NZD $500 (USD $300) You can donate money to the cause and receive rewards such as modelling a character in a future book - with your name! You don't have to be in New Zealand, but you will need a valid Visa or Mastercard to donate as well as creating an account (it's as simple as entering an email address and a password. No validation required.) You can read more and make a donation here: Hello Struggling Writers! My name is Josiah Morgan and I am raising money to receive professional editing for my next novel, Puppets. You can donate money to the cause and receive rewards such as modelling a character in a future book - with your name! You don't have to be in New Zealand, but you will need a valid Visa or Mastercard to donate as well as creating an account. It's as simple as entering your email address and a password. You can read more and donate here:

Saturday, 15 June 2013

BoX by Lucas Heath

Recently I've been browsing the kindle store on Amazon for nice wee compact and sometimes free reads, and recently I came across this $2.99 gem. The premise is simple: 27 people are all locked in boxes that make up a larger cube. They will be put through a series of tests to determine things about the human nature. Oh. I forgot to mention. The tests are deadly. Okay, it sounds a little like that cult horror movie called Cube but I can assure you it's VERY different. This is going to be a short review, as I have virtually no criticisms whatsoever, except for one: REALLY? After all that fantastic build up and sadness and suspense and then you find out what really happened when the boxes go black? I mean... there's even a line in the book "the body... is missing" and then -- SPOILER ALERT ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- it turns out they aren't even dead after all. I mean... what? Anyway, I rate it 4/5 stars ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------