The Circle (Starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks) ~ Review by Laura the Book Enthusiast

The Circle (2017)

Technology, social media, networking, public documentation; in a simple phrase, our lives today. Only, this particular story does not take place in our known present, but at some unknown time, likely in the near future. At a time when cameras the size of marbles are strategically placed all over the world, when a tech company called The Circle is reigning, taking the world by storm, and swiftly taking over the globe completely. Not only is The Circle making things accessible to the common person that was at one time inaccessible, but making every moment of our lives accessible to all.  This world, that is not all that unlikely to occur in our universe, is one in which Mae is apart.

Mae feels her dreams have come true when she lands a job at the tech company, The Circle. Working at The Circle, not only allows her to provide excellent customer service in internet technology, but enable her to connect to millions via social networking. The owner of the company, Bailey, takes a liking to Mae, catapulting Mae’s career and recognition within The Circle. Will Mae’s intelligent and creative mind usher in an exciting new age for The Circle and the world, or create a road to hell paved with good intentions?

What I love about this film, which is based on a novel of the same name by Dave Eggers, is the moral and ethical implications it delivers. While social media and other modes of technological communication is often fulfilling and fun, how far is too far? How important is our own privacy? Is privacy just an illusion? If we are willing to document several of our significant, and not so significant moments of our lives online, would we be willing to expose every moment of our waking lives to the world?

Would publically documenting every moment of our lives keep us more honest? Should honesty be forced from us because others can see what we do, or would it mean more if we willingly remained honest in our private lives, due to our own free will? And what about the special moments by ourselves; those times we commune with nature, or even in our own rooms, contemplating our own thoughts? What about bonding with a loved one? Or for those who believe in higher power, praying to God? So many little moments we so often take for granted, no longer sacred, but revealed to the eyes of the world.

Lastly, and perhaps the most difficult question of all, could we easily hand over our entire lives to the public via social networks without blinking an eye?

The Circle makes you think, and doesn’t beat you over the head with its message, but makes it clear. I will allow you to make that connection yourself, as you, dear reader, are very smart. The Circle has great themes, intense moments, and layered characters. So, join me, and become immersed in The Circle. Go on, you wouldn’t want to disappoint your viewers, would you?

~Laura the Book Enthusiast

P.S. My apologies once again for the delayed posting.  I am currently working on blogging more often.  Please be patient with my failings.

Advertisements

The ABC’s of You and Me (Feeling VS Thinking According to MBTI)

Hello Fellow Bloggers and Blog Readers!

I apologize for the delayed post, but I had some situations develop that needed my attention. I have been trying to post at the very least every two weeks, but I know it has been close to a month now. I hope to eventually make my goal of a weekly post. Once again, I shout my praises to all you daily bloggers! Now, on to the reason for this post.

I recently instructed an MBTI session at a staff training day. The prep involved was a lot of work, but I enjoyed every moment of it. A topic I brought up were some stereotypes that have become my pet peeves, one of which is the thinking preference vs the feeling preference.

What I have noticed around the web is a disturbing trend of the misuse of MBTI adjectives. I have seen this on fictional-character typing blogs, as well as discussion forums. When folks describe feeling they often refer to it as a type who is emotional. Such as: This character/coworker/frenemy is emotional, irrational, (or another similar adjective) so they are a feeler. This character/coworker/frenemy uses cold, hard logic and is unemotional, so they are a thinker.  Oddly enough, some of the people who use these terms seem to be individuals that know a lot about MBTI, and yet their descriptions of these judging functions seem off.

According to Myersbriggs.org, people who prefer the thinking function base their decisions on objective principles, and impersonal facts. Individuals who prefer the feeling function base their decisions on social concerns, and the people involved in the issue. The site also points out not to confuse feeling with emotions or thinking with intelligence. In fact, I know an ISTJ who gets quite emotional if you disagree with them. Myersbriggs.org also mentions that anyone can feel emotional about their decisions.

“Feelers” are not spastic, irrational basket cases who cannot think logical thoughts. “Thinkers” are not cold and heartless intellectuals, who wrote the book on logic.

While people with the feeling preference may come across as warmer, and more loving than those with the thinking preference, it doesn’t mean the former is automatically more compassionate and a better person than the latter. While a person who prefers the thinking preference may appear more systematic and level headed than those who prefer the feeling preference, it doesn’t mean the former is more logical or rational than the latter.

Additionally, since we can access all the preferences, we can often use the opposite judging function to aid us in our preferred preference when making decisions. This enables all of us to be healthy, balanced individuals, no matter our type. All MBTI types are needed and valued, and how we access our functions make us as individualistic as our appearance. To all types, let your preferences shine bright!

Please feel free to sound off in the comments section below. I love constructive discussion! See you around the blogs!

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/thinking-or-feeling.htm

~Laura the Book Enthusiast

Splintered Series by H.G. Howard

Book Review by Laura the Book Enthusiast

So, a few months back, I reviewed the novel Heartless by Marissa Meyers. Well, allow me to guide you once again into the Wonderland world. This time, however, we are not learning about who the Queen of Hearts was before she became the notorious head chopper. A.G. Howard introduces us to Alyssa Gardner, the great-great-great granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the star character of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alyssa’s mother is in a mental institution, however, this grim fate seems to be in store for Alyssa, as she can now hear plants and bugs talking, the same affliction her mother, Alison has. Desperate to save her mother from electric shock therapy, and preserve her own sanity, Alyssa takes her own leap of faith down the rabbit hole. She discovers Wonderland, a far darker world than Lewis Carrol’s fairly-tame version. Alyssa, and her friend, Jeb, journey through the disturbing paths of wonderland, often encountering Morpheus, the mysterious, shapeshifting moth, who has an agenda of his own. Alyssa soon discovers that her destiny is far more connected to Wonderland than she first thought.

Splintered is an engrossing series, with a well-paced plot, and interesting characters. My favorite character has to be Morpheus. He feeds my love of layered characters. Morpheus is mischievous, manipulative, and witty. Paradoxically, Morpheus has intense loyalty to people he cares about, and to Wonderland. Howard, does a great job of showing Morpheus’ subtle compassion, a quality he intensely attempts to hide, but doesn’t quite succeed in.

If you love Alice in Wonderland, dark and intriguing worlds to escape into, and the idea of good vs evil (even within characters), you will enjoy A.G. Howard’s, Splintered trilogy. As Morpheus said to Alyssa: “You crave chaos. Your happiest when the world is in an uproar. You thrive on madness.” If you agree with this assessment, then leap into the rabbit hole, and grab a copy of Splintered at your local library or bookstore. After all, you don’t want to be late for such an important date.

Side Note: There is also two accompanying novels to this series you may want to check out.  The Moth in the Mirror, mostly Jeb’s point of view of the events in the first novel.  Return to Wonderland, which I have not read yet, is apparently a book of short stories that take place after events in Ensnared.

 

Just a Matter of Time

Hello All! Sorry about the delay. I try to post every two weeks, but sometimes time gets away from me. I really admire those bloggers who post something every day. You make time, talk about dedication! Anyway, I wanted to post a little blurb about one of my favorite songs from Eddie and the Cruisers 2: Eddie Lives* soundtrack. If you have not seen this movie series, I encourage you to do so. The story is intriguing, and the cast talented. But, I am not reviewing these films, at least not today. I want to talk about the song, Just a Matter of Time (1989*).

The song was written and performed by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. (IMDB*). I am posting a lyrics video of the song. Feel free to listen as I analyze it.
Just a Matter of Time-John Cafferty

This song is so beautiful, and one most of us can relate to. The first verse illustrates that when we are young (young is relative, but I am talking late teens and early twenties), dreaming is so easy: You just wrapped yourself in a dream…All you had to do was believe. Usually, not always, but usually when we are young adults we think anything is possible. We have our whole lives ahead of us, and think if we work hard, and persevere, we can make our dreams come true. It’s only a matter of time!

The second verse demonstrates what life so often does to us. Whether it be failures, disappointments, unexpected changes, a need for practicality, or just survival, we often lose track of our dreams. Then you wake up one day. All your dreams somehow
faded away… Even worse, sometimes we lose the passion that fueled our dreams. You can’t find where the fire once burned. And life so often causes us to compromise, and give up on our dreams, as the latter part of the verse illustrated.

The third verse is all about reflection. When we meditate on some of the choices we have made in our lives, we feel regret. Not saying that all our choices our bad ones, or even that our lives are miserable because of our choices, but, perhaps we feel opportunities passed us by. Maybe we were too afraid, or it could be that external influences denied us the opportunity. In any event, we wanted it all, and we start to regret giving up on dreaming, and allowing our failures to hold us down.

The final verse gives us hope. Out of one small grain of sand… and maybe you find in the end, you’re able to dream once again. Hope is something we all need to endure in life. And it’s not so much making your dreams come true that gives you hope, it’s the ability to keep on dreaming. So, if you stop dreaming for a while, don’t lose hope. You’ll dream again, it’s just a matter of time.

With Love,

Laura the Book Enthusiast

Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097262/soundtrack?ref_=tt_trv_snd

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Book Review by Laura the Book Enthusiast

A child who has lost her memory, a mysterious book of fairytales, and a woman known simply as the Authoress. This is the plot we are presented with in Kate Morton’s, The Forgotten Garden.

As her grandmother, Nell lay dying, Cassandra hears her grandmother utter something about the Authoress telling Nell to wait for her. From this point on, Cassandra’s life goes into a tailspin. After Nell’s death, Cassandra begins to unravel a mystery involving a book of fairytales that belonged to Nell. Cassandra travels to England, to gaze upon the cottage her grandmother had purchased back in 1975. She discovers a garden without an entrance, a garden that despite its neglect, is full of life. What secrets does this garden hold? Who are the Mountrachets? And how does the Authoress fit into this puzzle? Join Cassandra, as I did, on this journey into the past.

I must say, I absolutely loved this book. While one could argue it is very character driven, the plot is intriguing and engrossing enough to hold your attention. I couldn’t put it down. I had to find out who the characters were, and what they would do next. Speaking of, I adore the character, Eliza. We get to see her in childhood and adulthood. Eliza is a free spirit, smart, and strong. While she may appear to have rough edges, Eliza has a heart full of love and courage. She’s very fun to read. In fact, all the characters are memorable and interesting.

The setting takes on a life of its own. The maze, garden, and cottage seem to be characters in their own right. Yes, The Forgotten Garden has something for everyone. As said in the novel, ““She’s understood the power of stories. Their magical ability to refill the wounded part of people.”

Whether you like fairytales, mysteries, romantic settings, love in all its forms, or even well written characters, you will enjoy The Forgotten Garden. I wouldn’t describe this novel as a romance, but the premise is weaved beautifully into this engrossing mystery. Above all, this novel is about people, with all their layers, good and bad. And these characters unfold the plot for us in a thrilling way.

So, what are you waiting for? Go to your local library or bookstore, and pick up a copy of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. That’s right, plant yourself, and allow the story to bloom into your heart.

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

Review by Laura the Book Enthusiast

As children, who of us don’t, at least, imagine having no adult supervision. We can eat what we want, go to bed when we want, and do what we want. Best of all, no consequences, or so we foolishly believe.

The scenario above is exactly what Jonathan Grisby finds himself in. Sent to Slabhenge Reformatory School for reasons unknown, the protagonist struggles to adjust to the harsh conditions of this brutal prison. When the boys of Stabhenge find themselves without adult supervision, they decide to take Stabhenge into their own hands; renaming it Scar Island, in honor of themselves. But what starts out as a democracy, turns into a dangerous dictatorship. Will Jonathan stand up against the foe of Scar Island, or will he allow his personal demons to condemn him?

Scar Island is mesmerizing from start to finish. I listened to the audiobook, performed by MacLeod Andrews, who captivated me with his wide array of voices and characters. You have the stoic protagonist, Jonathan, voice ordinarily calm and quiet. There is Sebastian, the loud-mouth bully, who also sounds like a bit of a whiner, which I believe is a good acting choice, because bullies usually are. Colin, my favorite character, seems to be Jonathan’s conscience, and is a brave boy with a lisp, no less. His speech impediment does not hold him back from speaking his mind, much to the irritation of Sebastian. Speaking of, the subtle humor Gemeinhart weaves into his story, via dialogue, is clever. You will find yourself shifting between dread and laughter quite frequently throughout the narrative.

There is a mysterious librarian who pops up from time to time, and yet, you can feel his presence through the whole novel. While we do get some background information on this character, just who the librarian is, is shrouded in mystery. This elderly man can’t even remember his own name. However, he remembers all the books available in his library. Jonathan always has a book in hand after his encounters with the librarian. As the latter always says: “You cannot leave a library, without a book.” Truer words never said! The librarian shows Jonathan, Robinson Crusoe, Lord of the Flies, and Treasure Island, subtle, or not so subtle references of their similarities to Scar Island.

If you enjoy elements of mystery, horror, suspense, adventure, and even humor, you will enjoy Scar Island. Great characters abound, and an intriguing setting is the frosting on the cake, or, the shells on the seashore. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of Scar Island at your local library or bookstore. The librarian would approve!

Wonder Woman 2017 – Film Review by Laura the Book Enthusiast

I finally saw the film, Wonder Woman last Monday, and I have to say, it was fantastic! I grew up watching reruns of seventies superhero tv shows, such as The Incredible Hulk, and of course, Wonder Woman. Because of this, I wasn’t sure if Gal Gadot would be able to fill Linda Carter’s boots. I must say, Ms. Gadot exceeded my expectations. She nailed both Diana Prince’s, and Wonder Woman’s characters. Gadot portrayed Prince’s strength, courage, naivete, and compassion with intelligence, sensitivity, and humor. I felt this is a woman I would want on my side, even be friends with.

This film deserves the title of blockbuster; not only was there action, but excellent character growth, and portrayals. Despite it’s somewhat dark setting, Wonder Woman succeeded in its message of hope. One even begins to wonder if Wonder Woman has lost faith completely in the world she has only recently begun to inhabit. What, or who though, inspires her not to give up? For those who have not seen the film, I will not spoil this for you, so, I will leave that for you to discover.

Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, is an excellent hero in his own right. He and Diana Prince light up the screen together, as equals despite Diana’s super-strength and powers. Speaking of, this film does an excellent job of portraying man and woman as people, not focusing so much on gender, but individuals. There are some references to a woman’s proper place, but only because the setting is during World War 1; its brushed aside rather quickly, and it doesn’t distract from the film.

The story opens with Diana Prince, present day, studying an old photograph of her sent by Bruce Wayne. Cliché as it is, she narrates of something dark that she learned about humanity years ago. Diana says, “I used to want to save the world. This beautiful place. But I knew so little then. It is a land of beauty and wonder, worth cherishing in every way. But the closer you get, the more you see the great darkness simmering within. And mankind? Mankind is another story altogether.”

This statement sets the mood for the rest of the film, as we anxiously await her conclusion of mankind. Of course, the action in this film is a wonderful distraction until that moment.

We are introduced to the Amazonian world of Diana’s youth. We meet her mother, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and her Aunt Antiope, a valiant warrior. We see Diana grow in her skills as a warrior, and as a leader. One day, the Amazonians lives are shattered, when enemy forces from the world of men find the island of Themyscira. Lives are lost, and Themyscira will never be the same, neither will the Princess of the Amazonians. In the midst of this tragedy, Diana meets Steve Trevor, a stranded pilot fighting a battle of his own. Together these two heroes will find their destinies in the world of man, and Diana, aka Wonder Woman, will come to an insightful conclusion about her journey, and what it means to be human!

Anyone who likes action, superheroes, intriguing villains, great characters, inspiring messages, and heart, will love Wonder Woman. I encourage all to see this entertaining, and inspiring film. So, grab your lasso, and head on down to your local theater to see Wonder Woman. You won’t regret it, and that’s no lie!

Image Source: http://jonesyd1129.deviantart.com/art/Wonder-Woman-Poster-1-501720779