Vote for the Best Books of the Year! – Goodreads Choice Awards Opening Round

I am an absolute Goodreads Choice Awards junkie.  I love going through the list of nominees and winners to see which books I’ve read and which books I need to add to my #tbr ASAP… because #fomo.

The opening round for the 11th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards dates are from 5th to November 10th, followed by the Semifinal round, the Final round and Winners announcement on the 10th of December.

There are 20 categories, with 15 books per category.  You are can submit a “write-in vote” if there is a book not nominated, that you feel deserves to be there.  Rules and eligibility for “write-in votes” here.

Categories are:

  1. Best Fiction
  2. Mystery & Thriller
  3. Historical Fiction (my favorite)
  4. Fantasy
  5. Romance
  6. Science Fiction
  7. Horror
  8. Humor
  9. Nonfiction
  10. Memoir & Autobiography
  11. History & Biography
  12. Science & Technology
  13. Food & Cookbooks
  14. Graphic Novels & Comics
  15. Poetry
  16. Debut Novel
  17. Young Adult Fiction
  18. Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction
  19. Middle Grade & Children’s
  20. Picture Books

Some of the 2019 well known book nominees include The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks.

So far I have voted for Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, Dear Girls by Ali Wong, A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer and Dead Voices by Katherine Arden.  AND I have added about 20 new books to my ever-chaotic #tbr-pile *facepalm.

Don’t delay!  Go cast your votes book-peeps!!

The Deathless Girls – a Halloween Treat!

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

My Rating: ####/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.76/5

Published September 19th, 2019

Trigger warnings:

  • Threat of sexual assault
  • Animal cruelty and death
  • Slavery and abuse

I was gifted an unproofed copy of The Deathless Girls by Pan Macmillan South Africa for an honest review. This is an unpaid review. I did a buddy read with Tams @bookwolftams.

Ok, first things first, I loved this book and please, please, PLEASE can I have more Kiran Millwood Hargrave to put in my pocket and keep for rainy days.

So when you (see, I said when, not if, because you will want to) pick up this book, you need to put aside the misconception that this is a retelling of Brides of Dracula by Bram Stoker. It is not a retelling; I would classify it as the prequel to Brides of Dracula.

On the eve of their divining day, twin sisters, Lil and Kizzy are enslaved by a cruel lord and brutally taken away from their traveler-family. They are forced to work in a castle, along with Mira, a fellow slave girl. Lil feels drawn to Mira in a way she is not sure she understands. But is Mira, Lil’s happy ever after? Or does fate have something else in mind?

In this book, sacrifices are made, journeys are traveled, and loyalties are tested between sisters, friends, and alliances to understand how the Brides of Dracula became the “weird sisters”. It’s dark, gothic and twisty.

As an only child, I do not have first-hand experience with the bond that exists between sisters, but this book is so beautifully written, I had no problem relating to the unconditional love and the fierce protective instincts sisters have for each other.

The thought-provoking and dark feminist theme is captivating, I could have easily finished it one sitting. Tams and I did a buddy-read and to give ourselves time to read other books and of course; “adult”, we read it over a period of 7 days. At no point, was there any frustration or any “what just happened?”, “what is going on?”, “when does the story start?”. No, both Tams and I just agreed right from the first chapter: “Oh my gosh, I love this book so much!”.

A clear message throughout the book that resonated with me is that home is not a place, but that home is where your person or your people are. Home is wherever you choose it to be and you can change your fate and you are in control of your future.

How far would you go to be free again?

We Hunt the Flame – a Snapshot Review

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal

My Rating: #/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.82/5

Published May 14th, 2019

This is not a full and comprehensive review, but merely a summary of my thoughts on the book.

PLOT:
####/5 – The plot is interesting, well-thought-out and unique.

STRUCTURE:
#/5 – There is no structure to the story. Plot twists and plot reveals felt disjointed. It was hard for me to get into the flow of the story.

WORLD-BUILDING:
###/5 – The world-building is creative and there is a history to the land and its people. The world-building fits well with the plot of the book. I was excited when I saw the map in the book, but the map fell short in information and didn’t assist me in understanding everything. Important areas in the map are not labeled or labeled with a different terminology than what is described in the book.

THEME:
##/5 – The theme is clear from the start of the book but gets muddled in amongst the over-detailed storytelling as the story progresses.

CHARACTERS:
####/5 – The characters are why I wanted to finish the book. I fell in love with the characters in We Hunt the Flame immediately and rooted for each one of them all the way. There are several strong and complex personalities, struggling with their grief and trying to come to terms with whom they have become. They all have one mission in mind – discover the lost artifact and restore magic to the land.

DIALOGUE:
#/5 – The dialogue is almost non-existent, flat and unstructured. This made it hard for me to imagine any sort of friendship, relationship or kinship between the characters as they barley uttered more than a couple of words to each other.

Small Spaces

Small Spaces (Small Spaces #1) by Katherine Arden

My Rating: ####/5

GoodReads Rating: 4.03/5

Published September 25th 2018

“After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.” – GoodReads

Small Spaces is just such a fun read – perfect for October.  This is Arden’s debut middle grade novel and it is insanely creepy and scary.  Seriously, it’s a children’s book that I couldn’t read at night but could not wait to get back into the following morning. 

Characters:

The characters are diverse in age, gender and ethnicity which makes it a modern and relatable read for younger readers.  Olivia (Ollie) has a strong, well-rounded personality, but is struggling to move on after her tragic loss.

World-building:

The subtle fantasy and parallel worlds are sewn together in a sensible and logic manner and makes the story flow smoothly and is easy to follow.  The setting is perfectly normal during the day, and downright terrifying at night.

Themes:

Themes for younger readers in Small Spaces include:

  • Literary works such as Alice in Wonderland and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Bravery
  • Teamwork
  • Grief and overcoming loss
  • Anxiety

Plot:

Small Spaces is told from Ollie’s point of view.  Ollie is trying to come to terms with her grief and is thrown into a mysterious world of creepy scarecrows, the smiling man and a very peculiar farm with two unlikely friends when she discovers a weird looking book.  The dialogue is fast-paced and jam-packed with quippy remarks and recognizable “tween-chatter”.  The mystery of the smiling man is unpredictable and is complimented with several supporting characters and plot twists.

In my completely biased opinion, Katherine Arden can write a paragraph as follow: “blah blah blah, write, write, write, nonsense, a bunch of squiggles and some punctuation, blah blah blah” and I would call it a literary masterpiece!

My favorite quotes from Small Spaces (contains spoilers):

“Even bad things can lead to good. Maybe in sad times, it helps to think of that.”

“Alice in Wonderland,” said Brian. “Remember? ‘How do you know I’m mad?’ asked Alice.” “‘You must be,’” Ollie said, finishing the quotation slowly, “‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’” Brian buried his face in his hands.

Coco didn’t cry because she was weak. Coco cried because she felt things. Ollie never cried because she didn’t feel things. Not anymore. Not really. She tried not to feel things.

If Only I Could Tell You…. How disappointed I am.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

My Rating: #/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.96/5 

Published February 21st, 2019 by Orion

Trigger Warning(s):

  • Life-threatening illness
  • Miscarriage
  • Suicide

Synopsis:

Audrey is fighting an incurable illness, but her greatest fear is not dying. Her greatest fear is dying while her daughters are still estranged, and her granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. Audrey’s family is torn apart by secrets and she is determined to set everything right.

Writing:

Audrey, Lilly and Jess’s stories are told from the third person limited point of view. The TOC gives a clear outline of how sections and chapters are broken down into the past and the present and how Audrey’s last year of her life progresses. And this is where the clarity stopped for me. Yes, at the table of contents.

I don’t enjoy overindulgent writing and If Only I Could Tell You is written with a lot of excessively emotional and repetitive explanations for the same thing, whereby when it comes to the personal circumstances of each character, you are told very little. This made it hard for me to relate to any of the characters, as I’ve only been given a basic overview of their lives. 

The Story:

The chapters are short, which at first, I thought would make it a quick and easy read, but each chapter ends abruptly and the next one starts at a random point in time. The end of each chapter left me feeling unsatisfied and takes away from the flow of the story. This book gave me the impression it was written by three different writers and then the chapters were pieced together haphazardly after the fact. I didn’t enjoy some chapters being repeated verbatim after the “big secret” was revealed; I believe this was done as a reminder to the reader of past events, but this added to the random flow of the chapters and unfortunately added to my frustration with the story.

The “big secret” is only revealed right at the end, and by this point, I wanted to shout: “just tell us already!!!!”. There is also an unexpected plot reveal about halfway and even this felt disjointed and did not tie into the story told in the first half of the book. By this point, I got the impression that the writer changed her mind about what the “big secret” should be, added another element to the story and then changed the whole plot for the second half of the book. 

My final thoughts:

I picked up this book because it was described as an emotional, deeply moving read. It fell flat in several departments and I wish it had more substance to it. The concept of the story is such a great idea, but the execution didn’t live up to the hype. I am surprised I finished it, as I usually DNF books very quickly if they don’t grab my interest and attention right from the start. I kept thinking: “There is a lot of hype around this book, it’s going to get better and it’s going to be epic…” It didn’t get better…. And it was not epic. 

This book might be the perfect light and fluffy beach read, if you are looking for something superficial or a palate cleanser, where you do not need to live yourself into the story too much or if you only are able to read a couple of pages a day and can fill in the substance by using your imagination.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

By Sarah J. Maas

My Rating: ####/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5

Published May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

SHE STOLE A LIFE. NOW SHE MUST PAY WITH HER HEART.

Way back when I read a review on GoodReads where the reviewer described A Court of Thorns and Roses as “more or less softcore erotica”. As you can imagine, I put it down even before you can say “New Adult Fantasy”. I just don’t have the time, nor the stomach for that.

So years have gone by, more books in the series have been published and it has never lost momentum. Along with a large fanbase, loyal ACOTAR-ians (see what I did there) and more YouTUBE videos than you can count, people are still pushing it on me. So I decided to try again. It took another two attempts, to be honest as it still was not love at first sight for me.

But I do like it and I will be continuing with the series. I have already purchased the second book and fans are telling me how the second book is their absolute favorite.

The title nods to a Beauty and the Beast retelling and the cover is supremely inviting. My first impression was that the book was going to be disjointed and disorganized as there’s no Table of Contents, so I didn’t know what to expect from a chronological point of view. It is important to note that ACOTAR is not a Young Adult Fantasy novel as most believe, but New Adult Fantasy. I appreciate that the back cover clearly states that this book contains mature content. But it’s not smut at all and it’s not Fifty Shades of Awful erotica. There are mature, intimate love scenes that add to the weight and emotions this novel portrays. But the story flows beautifully and with ease. I didn’t once feel embarrassed or that the storyline didn’t follow events or character development.
The story is about Feyre who has been taken captive by a High Fae Lord in the Faerie Realm because she slaughtered a faerie. But there is a lot Feyre doesn’t know about her captor, her new home and the enchanted forests around her.
I found Feyre’s character to be refreshing. She is strong-minded and self-aware. Albeit a little predictable, Tamlin is handsome and gentlemanly. Lucien, Tamlin’s emissary, adds a bit of dark humor to the trio.
I cannot tell you my favorite, nor least favorite parts of the books without revealing spoilers. I can tell you though that as the story progresses, it gets better and better with twists and turns and plot reveals. The ending had my heart pounding in anticipation, and I couldn’t scan-read those pages fast enough.

Fans of The Bear and the Nightingale, Shadow and Bone and A Curse So Dark and Lonely will appreciate the complex storytelling, world-building and internal struggles of the characters in A Court of Thorns and Roses.

It’s the Rockin’ and the Rollin’ of it.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My Rating: #####/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.24/5

Published March 5th 2019 by Ballantine Books

Trigger Warning(s):

  • Addiction to alcohol
  • Addiction to drugs
  • Un-abandoned nudity
  • Self harm
  • No sexual violence
  • No domestic violence

What makes a 1970’s rock and roll band, at the height of their career, walk off stage and never return?

7 band members; and they all remember it differently.

HOLY SHIT! This book!  Ya, sorry, that curse word is there and it’s going to stay there…

“Making music is never just about the music.  And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops, and the feelings begin.”

The book is written as an interview journal and the story is told in an oral biography format.  The narration is an account of each member’s experience and point of view.  The producer, agent, other crew members, and friends and family are also noted.  The 70s were all about drugs, sex and rock and roll.  Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is all about Daisy Jones, drugs, sex and rock and roll. 

The Six is a talented, albeit somewhat mediocre, rock and roll band.  They do fairly well but they haven’t hit the big time. In walks Daisy Jones – she is a young, gorgeous, spoiled, barefoot, wild-child with a voice that lays the proverbial “golden egg”.   No one’s lives are ever the same.

It was completely normal to do rehearsals, record songs and perform in front of thousands (if not millions) of fans, stoned and stupefied.  Especially if you were one of the biggest bands in the world. 

But what happened behind the scenes?  Did they get along?  Did they hate each other’s guts?  Did they have normal lives, with hopes and dreams or did they just care about where their next fix is going to come from or writing that NEXT BIG SINGLE??

“But that’s because it’s easy to disguise almost anything as a love song.”

Reid takes you through the ups and downs of band dynamics, sleazy agents and producers, relationships inside the band, attempting relationships outside the band, addictions, rehab, marriage, children, travelling the road, hitting the big time, reaching your lowest point and performing. 

Nothing has been left out of this book.  You experience sobriety with Billy in era where no one is sober… ever.  You root for Camila, the woman fighting for her marriage and the father of her children.  But above all, you feel stubborn with a devil-may-care attitude with Daisy, you cry with Daisy, you feel so intensely and without inhibition with Daisy, that it breaks your heart!   That is just how good Reid’s writing is. 

It’s Evelyn Hugo meets rock and roll!!

The book is loosely based on the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac and their iconic Rumors Tour.  If you’ve never listened to Fleetwood Mac, you’ll want to listen to every single song after reading this book.

Read more about how Fleetwood Mac influenced Daisy Jones & The Six on Reese Whitherspoon’s book club – Hello Sunshine.

Amazon has ordered 13 episodes of a TV series adaption for Daisy Jones & The Six, to be co-produced by Reese herself.

This How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

My Rating: #####/5

GoodReads Rating: 4.26

Published by Flatiron Books

Tags: Fiction, Contemporary, LGBT, Adult

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them. This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret.

Until one day it explodes. – Goodreads

It took me a long time to sit down and write this review, or rather, this review for this book. The whole year I have been going on and on about Crawdads and The Great Alone… Delia Owens this and Kristin Hannah that; and then I picked up This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel.  I cannot even remember how or where I found it, and no one recommended it or anything like. I can only believe that I was meant to read this book and the universe dropped it, and Claude and Poppy, into my lap. On that note, this book should be on the GoodReads Choice Awards for Fiction every year since it’s release date – it deserves, no, it demands a spot.

Rosie is a surgeon and Penn is a stay-at-home-dad-author of TDN (that damn novel). It’s the typical, but not boring, boy-meets-girl-falls-in-love-girl-says-she-is-a-surgeon-doesn’t-have-time-to-date-boy-persists-woos-her-with-romance-they-get-married-story. 2 boys, a couple of years of residency and still no published TDN (that damn novel) later, Penn and Rosie decide; “let’s try for one more, maybe this time it will be a girl?”   A set of twins (also boys) later and Rosie and Penn are ready to give up. But Rosie desperately wants a little girl and maybe fifth-times’ a charm… maybe. So why not? Rosie falls pregnant again and 9 months later, another healthy, bouncy, baby BOY is born. Enter Claude.

But here’s the thing about Claude. Claude is a boy, raised in a household with 4 brothers. But Claude wants to wear dresses, hair barrettes, and rainbow tights and play with dolls. Claude wants to be a girl. Claude wants to be Poppy… and Claude is only 5-years old.

“How did you teach your small human that it’s what’s inside that counts when the truth was everyone was pretty preoccupied with what you put on over the outside too?” – Lauria Frankel

So how do you teach your child, that they can grow up to be anything they want to be, but they cannot (yet) wear dresses to kindergarten? How do you explain to them, that even though it doesn’t hurt anyone, they cannot be a princess, because they were not born a girl? Do you keep the secret, move away, hide it from your neighbors and friends or do you let your precious child wear a dress with fairy wings to school and “let life sort itself out”?

The story is interesting, fun, funny, relatable and heart-wrenching… all of these on one page! The characters are vivid and realistic. You feel the frustration as a parent, the concern and protectiveness as a sibling and your heart breaks with and for Claude as he realizes the truth of the world.

The writing is beautiful and clean. The story flows without lagging or hiccups. And yes, you are going to need tissues.

Frankel addresses several controversial issues and hypocrisies. We would like to believe we have come a long way with some of these issues, but have we truly? Frankel lays it all bare; from gender identity, gender equality and sexual orientation and what it must be like for a parent, who just wants their child to believe they can become anyone or anything they want to be and that all their dreams can come true.  Even if they dream of becoming a night-fairy.

Aladdin at O.A.K. Youth Theater

Last year we went to see O.A.K. Youth Theater’s production of Beauty and The Beast and WOW, it was amazing – see blog post here – so when they announced Aladdin earlier this year, I was probably one of the first to purchase a ticket.

Aladdin:

Aladdin (1992) A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.

O.A.K. retells the classic Disney fantasy with modern twists and turns, humor and classic nostalgia.  The cast is made up of 45 talented singers, dancers and contortionists.  Ladies and gentlemen, there is no lip-syncing here, these kids CAN SING!   It’s The Greatest Showman (2017) meets Aladdin.

Cast Members:

Aladdin is played by the very handsome Miguel de Sampaio.  I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that Miguel looks remarkably like a young Zac Efron – guys I am not even kidding, it’s doppelganger resemblance.

The charming Eldiré Strauss portrays a very beautiful Princess Jasmine.  In O.A.K.’s reproduction, Princess Jasmine has a sassy little sister, Princess Chamomile, who has you in stitches in the first couple of scenes as she teases Jasmine mercilessly about choosing a prince to marry.

In Beauty and The Beast in 2018, Matthew Otto was my favorite on-stage personality with his portrayal of Gaston. I was ecstatic to see him cast as the boisterous Genie this year.  His acting skills and stage personality is made for this role.

Music and Dance:

After the opening scene with the classic narrator introduction, the cast jumps straight into the toe-tapping rendition of “The Greatest Showman” originally performed by Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Zac Efron, Zendaya and The Greatest Showman Ensemble – this already gives you a sense of how much fun the production is.   Dancing includes acrobatics-; hip-hip-; modern-; ballet-; Gatsby and tap-dancing.

The second song is performed by Aladdin, Zahar and Princess Jasmine respectively with their rendition of “A Million Dreams” originally performed by Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams.  It shows how each character has their own dreams of a “better” or “different life”.  Zahar’s ending note being “a million dreams of a world I am going to take…” [insert crowd laughter and applause here].

The show continues with scene after scene of talented acting, singing and dancing, humoristic comments and nuances, making references to classic fantasy tales like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and The Road to El Dorado, and modern pop culture like the loveable Baymax, Baby Shark, Harry Potter, Frozen and Game of Thrones.  Donald Trump, Jacob Zuma, SARS, Susan Boyle and Lord of The Rings are made fun of (very tastefully) and of course the show would not be complete without true Aladdin classics like “Friend Like Me” originally performed by Robin Williams and “A Whole New World” originally performed by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane.

Other songs include:

  • The Other Side by Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron
  • Treasure by Bruno Mars
  • I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
  • Havana by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug
  • Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock
  • Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars

Genie – Matthew Otto:

Matthew shines!!!… like a Genie diamond.  His on-stage personality bursts at the seams with singing and dancing talent, quick wit and Elton John-like attitude.  His quips are quick, and on-point and he has the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout the whole show.   

His funniest quote – “Maleficent wants her dress back!”

His funniest moment – “I am Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65

Once again – well done and congratulations to O.A.K. Youth Theater on another spectacular production.

Image credit: O.A.K. Youth Theater Facebook Page

The Professor and the Madman – for the love of words.

Director: Farhad Safinia (as P.B. Sherman)
Writers: John Boorman, Todd Komarnicki, Farhad Safinia & Simon Winchester (author)
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sean Penn & Natalie Dormer

The Professor and the Madman is a biographical drama set in the 19th century Ireland.  The movie is based on the 1998 book The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words written by Simon Winchester.

Have you ever wondered how the Oxford English Dictionary came to be?  Who wrote it?  How was it decided which words to include and their meaning?

This is about recording the evolution of meaning.”

James Augustus Henry Murray (eventually knighted Sir James Augustus Henry Murray), portrayed by Gibson is assigned the daunting task of gathering all the words in the English language, their origin, translation and meaning and compile what we now know as the Oxford English Dictionary. To assist with this enormous assignment, he enlists the help of the public. The public is asked to submit words to be included in the OED, along with quotations from books, newsprint, bibles and any other sources of literature.   

While being held at a psychiatric hospital, the brilliant, but very disturbed, William Chester Minor (Penn) comes across the invitation and devotes most of his time (and eventually his life) reading, researching, cataloging and submitting words and quotations to Murray and his team.  As such, Minor becomes one of the OED’s most effective and significant contributors.

Disclosure: I have not read The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words, but the film is brilliant.

The characters are well thought-out, interesting and likable.  The Victorian era is profoundly illustrated through dark, somewhat gloomy and cold spaces for those lower-; and middle-class families suffering poverty and hardship; contrasted with rich, warm and comfortable settings depicting the educated and upper-class society.  Sean Penn truly shines as The Madman and I cannot think of a better actor for Minor’s role.  Penn portrays calm, intelligence, anguish, wretchedness, lunacy and love in such an intense way, you feel it as if you were in the room with him.  Mel Gibson compliments Penn’s character with consistency, stoicism and true Gibson-style perseverance.  Seeing them together on-screen, makes you want to yell: “You can do this, just keep going!!”.

WATCH IT BECAUSE:

Book lovers: you’ll love this film with its passion for words and it’s beautiful and historical books #bookshelfappreciation. Minor’s ingenious cataloging system will make you want to unpack your bookshelf, read every single book and start your own cataloging system.

“James Murray: Who’s she?
Dr. William Chester Minor: The impossible.
James Murray: The more impossible, the greater the love. “

The technical stuff:

Genre: Biography, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Run time: 2h 4min
Parental Guidance: No sex or nudity, moderate graphic violence and gore and mild profanity.