Bookit #20: Outlander

Title: Outlander (Part 1 of the Outlander Series)
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Publication:  2004 (ebook) 1991 (original Publication)
Medium:  Kindle eBook
Grade: A

NOTE:  Some minor spoilers for the TV show and a trigger warning for rape.
Many months ago a good friend of mine told me I should read Outlander. It did in fact seem right up my ally as far as books I like to read (History, science fiction, mystery and romance), but I kept pushing it off.  But I finally watched the first season of Outlander last month and decided to read the book.

Usually I read the book first, then watch the TV show/Movie based on it.  However, this time I did not.  It did allow me to appreciate some of the narrative changes the TV writers made.  The show is relatively close to the events of the book up till the last few episodes, although they expand on things in some places and leave out others.

I am not a big fan of first person, as Outlander is (from Claire’s POV).  There are some exceptions though (such as the Hunger Games) and Outlander has ended up being one of them despite the fact that I wish some of it was in Jamie’s pov.  The story is about Claire Beachamp-Randall, a combat nurse from WWII.  She’s visiting Scotland with her husband in an effort to reconnect after the war when she is accidentally whisked from her time (1945) to another (1743).  She finds it difficult to adjust to live 202 years before what she knew, and it causes a few adventures.

Writing wise, it’s not the best novel I ever read, but it kept me interested.  As I said, some of the narrative changes in the early episodes of the show made sense to fill in some of the gaps in the book.  It smoothed things out as it were,  However, later changes made less sense.

I’m also not sure how historically accurate this book is, but it kept me interested enough that I didn’t really need to know – though I did look some of the outside characters like the Duke of Sandringham (Not a real guy) and Lord Lovat, Jamie’s Grandfather (actually a real guy).  A lot of the characters are interesting, even if they are fairly minor.   Black Jack Randall is creepy in all his scenes (which makes me feel sorry for his great-great so forth grandson Frank), and Dougal I can’t get a hold on whether he is someone I shouldn’t mind or someone I should place in the enemy column (Both in the TV show and the book.  More so the TV series).

I know that the next book takes place in France but I will miss the lovely characters of Castle Leoch and the Scottish Highlands.

My only real issue with the book is that rape is used a bit too often as a cause for drama.  Some of it makes sense with the characters used (mainly Black Jack Randall) but other times it just seems repative and even more uncomfortable it is by default.

I am glad my friend convinced me to read this, and I’m looking forward to reviewing Dragonfly in Amber (book 2) soon.  I feel this is also a book that once I finish the series I’ll be back to re-read and connect some of the dots I missed the first time around.

As a final note, the book is not nearly as R rated as the TV-show (since it is on STARZ) ended up being.  There is a lot more fade to black.  Still, it is an adult romance novel, so I would probably not let your younger kids read it yet.

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Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Second in Jurassic World Trilogy; fifth in Jurassic series all together)
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Adventure, Superhero, Comedy
Release Date: June 22, 2018  (Seen July 4th)
Director: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall,  Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Isabella Sermon, James Cromwell, BD Wong, and Jeff Goldblum.

My friends and I went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on July 4th in a desperate need for air conditioning, but we all were fans of the Jurassic Park Movies.   I loved Jurassic World and its two main characters.  Unlike the original trilogy, these films are more interconnected.  In this sequel ot the 2015 film, we find Claire and Owen on opposite paths.  he’s building a cabin in the wilderness, quite happy never to see a dinosaur again while Claire is actively working to save the animals.  Isla Nublar has a secret volcano that is about to erupt, and Benjamin Lockwood, a former associate of John Hammond has decided to use one of his islands as a sanctuary for the dinosaurs if Claire can get them transported.  Eli Mills, his personal assistant asks her to bring in Owen, who she hasn’t seen in an unknown amount of time.

Henry Wu makes another appearance, apparently having cracked since what happened on Jurassic Park (the first film) and is now just creating because he can create.  He’s made another hybrid, and Mills is willing to sell it to make millions.

On one hand the movie does deal with some well done tropes within the series, but it also has an interesting take on them.  For example, we get a greater look at what it would be like to be a vet for dinosaurs.

Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm, warning Congress about the dangers they are going to face. I have to admit I was surprised about how little time he is actually in the movie, but thematically it worked very well.  It also makes me hope the third film (due sometime in 3ish years) will incorporate more of the characters from the original trilogy.

I also like the development of Owen and Claire as characters.  While they aren’t together in this film, their characters aren’t reset.  Their relationship is different, with three years behind them.   I enjoy their development as individuals and as a couple.  I also enjoy the introduction of Franklin and Zia.  I will be happy to see them again in the next film.

The only real issue I had with the movie is that there is a lot of foreshadowing (or appearance of foreshadowing) for something that didn’t seem realised.  Its hard to really explain that without giving a good amount of the plot away.  Since this is a new release and is in fact still in theaters I’m trying not to do that.

As an added bonus the film finally brings about what is implied from the end of Jurassic Park III.

My final grade is A-.

Women of History: Jeanette MacDonald

Author’s Note:  This was originally meant for two weeks ago but I had trouble writing it.  I’m still not very happy with the outcome, but it is complete.  I may revisit Jeanette in the future and rewrite this better.

In the United States, we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th.  This month’s theme is going to be American women of history.    While Canada also celebrates Canada Day in the month of July, I’ll be doing Canadian women of history another month.

Our first WHO is Jeanette MacDonald.  Jeanette MacDonald is an American Actress from the 1930s.  About a decade ago, my grandmother and I, who liked to watch old classic films together, started watching operettas, in particular the ones done by Jeanette and her frequent Co-star Nelson Eddy.  We collected movies, stills and other things relating to Jeanette and Nelson.

Jeannette Anna MacDonald was born on June 18th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The year of her birth is somewhat of a mystery as different records say different things.  According to a baptismal record, the year of her birth was in 1903.  However, later in life Jeanette would change her name (dropping an n), and her year of birth (Saying it was 1907).  Even her gravestone lists the 1907 date, and her widower, Gene Raymond, would continue to insist it was 1907.  However, several sources now list the 1903 date as accurate. Continue reading

July 4th Movie Post

Since it’s the week of the Fourth of July, I figured I’d start the month with a post about my favorite US government focused films and TV shows.   I’ve come up with a list of movies and TV shows that I feel are good and also happen to have that theme.  Hopefully you’ll agree with me.   I’m sure there are many films and shows that should be on the list that I don’t include.   Some of this is because I simply haven’t watched them.  So feel free to suggest other films and tv shows in the comments area.  I know I’m missing quite a few of the classics.

West Wing (1999-2006)
West Wing was a liberal slanted TV show that showcased the inner workings of an Administration and written by Aaron Sorkin whose known for fast witty dialogue.  It starred Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet, and included many famous faces over the years including Alan Alada, Jimmy Smits, Ed Begley Jr., Rob Lowe,  and many others.  This is one of the best written shows in my opinion and remains one of my favorites.  While it is liberal slanted (The administration is democrat) I feel they try their best to portray the Republican characters with dignity.  I do feel I should warn you – the finales tend to hit you hard with feels.

Designated Survivor (2016-?)

Designated Survivor is a show that explores the contingency of the Designated Survivor.  When an attack on the capital leaves the President and most of the government dead, Tom Kirkman is sworn in as President as he was the designated survivor for the State of the Union speech.  He must deal with conspiracy and rebuilding his nation after such a severe attack.  IT has an excellent cast led by Kiefer Sutherland  and excellent writing for the most part.  While it has been cancelled by ABC, I still hope it gets renewed by another distribution company.

Independence Day

You can’t have an Independence day theme without mentioning the movie with the day in the title.  This sci-fi thriller has aliens attacking us, and the world meeting the challenge.  It has an amazing Cast (Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch) and a good script.   The sequel is also pretty good, although I prefer the first movie.

The American President

This is more of a romance film then one focused on the US government.  It is also has Aaron Sorkin (who wrote the majority of West Wing) on the writing staff, so maybe that’s why I liked it.  In this film the President (played by Michael Douglas) falls in love with a lobbyist played by Annette Bening.  It’s a cute romance, which brings us to our last selection.  Also features Martin Sheen as the Chief of Staff before he would go become the President himself in Sorkin’s West Wing.

Dave

Dave is a romantic comedy featuring Kevin Kline as Dave, a temp office employee who has a side job as being President X’s double.  This comes in handy when the actual president has a stroke while having an affair.  The Chief of Staff brings in Dave to act as the president for a while so they could hide the president’s condition.  And he manages to convince everyone, including the President’s wife (Sigourney Weaver) for awhile.  But the COS is up to no good, and Dave has to decide whether to go along with the plan or  change things.  Also this movie has Ben Kingsley as the Vice President and Frank A. Langella Jr as Bob Alexander the corrupt Chief of Staff.

Movie Review: Thor Ragnorak

Title: Thor Ragnorak/ Thor 3
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Superhero
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum,

Once again I’m here reviewing a Marvel film.   Thor Ragnorak was available through Netflix so I happily choose to watch it.  I love the Thor series of films.  For those of you who follow my twitter account or know me outside of WordPress, you’ll know that Loki is one of my favorite Marvel characters.  Jeff Goldblum is also a draw for this movie because he’s from my hometown and is awesome in his own right. Continue reading

Movie Review: Deadpool 2

Title: Deadpool 2
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Adventure, Superhero, Comedy
Release Date: May 18, 2018
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, TJ Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Morena Baccarin

I was able to see Deadpool 2 in theaters a week or so ago,  My friends and I try to see the Marvel movies in the theater, although I can’t say I’m up to date on them.  However, I did manage Deadpool 2, so I’m able to review it for the blog this week.

Deadpool 2, as you probably know, is not for kids.  Lots of violence, langauge and sexual humor.  This movie also has an undercurrent of suicide and depression.  That being said, it also was very funny.  Lots of outside references, and you can tell the cast had a blast putting this film together.  The references to the comics are good, although I admit I had to look to my comic-fan friends to explain a few.

The music editing in the film is excellent.  I loved the ode to James Bond in the opening credits to Celine Dion’s song Ashes which also happens to be an awesome song.  The rest of the movie also has really good music-to-film sequences.

My grade for this movie is a B,   The cast did a great job, and it was hilarious.  I felt there were some points of the plot that didn’t quite fit, and I felt I was missing something for not being a comic book fan.  I do not recommend this as a family movie.  You have to be okay with a certian level of violence and humor, and like the first movie, you can probably watch the trailer and already see that its not for kids.  Some adults as well.

This movie also has some awesome cameos.  I won’t mention who as that would spoil the surprise.

Women of History: Katy Jurado

Authors Note: I apologize for any horrible Spanish used.  Most of my translations are either US Titles provided on IMDB or use of Google Translate as my Spanish is rusty.

Since it is May, and May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) is tomorrow we are going to have a theme of Mexican (or Mexican-American) Women of History for this month. Our first woman featured is Katy Jurado. Katy was a Mexican actress who eventually had a Hollywood career. Continue reading