Book Review: Nil Remembered by Lynne Matson

30827348Nil Remembered (Nil #0.5) – prequel novella to the Nil series

Lynne Matson

4/5 stars

Release Date: July 19, 2016

Publisher: Henry Holt & co.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

My name is Scott Bracken, and this is my journal.

Scott Bracken has been home for 28 days, but nothing is the same. A month ago, he escaped from Nil, an island of wonder, beauty, and incredible danger. Now, back in his old life, no one believes Scott’s story. To deal with his present, Scott must relive his past—whether he wants to or not.

Introduced to readers in Nil Unlocked, here, for the first time, is Scott’s journal in its entirety. Delve deeper into the world of Nil—before Charley and Thad, before Skye and Rives—and discover the truth.

Review:

NIL REMEMBERED by Lynne Matson is a quick, enjoyable read. I loved the main character, Scott – his personality really stood out to me & his humour was great. I also loved that, after going through Nil, he still found ways to make jokes. It actually reminded me of the protagonist in THE MARTIAN.

This novella is written in a journal-type format, with a mix of drawings and entries. It was an interesting way of re-discovering Nil, at least for someone like me who’s read the first book in the series & already knows a bit about the island. Sometimes it got a bit boring which I think was due to the lack of dialogue.

At the end of almost every journal entry Scott would write, “my name is Scott Bracken, and this is the truth”. I think it made this journal-type format all the more authentic. When you’ve gone through such a traumatic experience and people are telling you it wasn’t real, it definitely seems like something you’d be constantly thinking about. Something that you’d have to write down.

There were only a few things I disliked about the book. One is really specific; here’s a quote from the book:

“Now she’d been sitting in front of the Wall of Names for the last twenty minutes, Indian-style, like she was silently singing the Clash song ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go.'”.

I don’t really like that term “Indian-style”, which I usually see describing someone sitting cross-legged. I only ever see it in books published in the US, so maybe it’s only me (a Canadian) but I feel like people should use words like “cross-legged” instead of “Indian-style”. I feel like it’s not referencing Indian as in India but Native American, so I always get a bad feeling when I see it.

Overall I thought this was a fun, interesting addition to the NIL series and I definitely recommend it. Even though it’s a prequel, I’d say read NIL first and then this, just so you have a better understanding of Nil going into it. Disclaimer: I downloaded the ebook from Kobo for free, this has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.

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July Wrap-Up Post

IMG_1391I read a total of 16 books this month. Even though most of them were novellas, I’m still feeling very accomplished. I was able to reach the 50 books read mark before the end of July. One of the books I read, The Bane Chronicles, I started over a year ago so I’m glad I finally finished it. I also started Rebel of the Sands back in March, so I’m happy I finished that too!

Books Read:

Steel Scars by Victoria Aveyard

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Naruto Vol. 3-4 by Masashi Kishimoto

Morrighan by Mary E. Pearson

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

Nil Remembered by Lynne Matson

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

The Lost Herondale by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

The Whitechapel Fiend by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

Nothing but Shadows by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

The Evil We Love by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

Pale Kings and Princes by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

Bitter of Tongue by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

The Fiery Trial by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Rebel of the Sands would have to be my favourite book of July. Hamilton’s writing is gorgeous and I loved the slow-burning romance between the main character, Amani and Jin, a mysterious stranger she meets in the beginning of the novel. I am super excited for the sequel Traitor to the Throne. I hope you guys all check it out! Some books I liked but ultimately underwhelmed were Nothing but Shadows by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan and The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. For the first, it was basically a story within a story and very boring. The second one was also very boring for the first half of the book and there wasn’t a lot of action.

I’d love to know what everyone read in July and what they plan to read in August? Are you taking part in the ARC August challenge?

Click on the links above to read my reviews.

ICYMI:

The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

ARC August Challenge

Book Review: Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

Book Review: The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

24934065Rebel of the Sands

Alwyn Hamilton 

5/5 stars

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Review:

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton is a gorgeous, gorgeous book! I’m in awe of how beautiful the writing is. Not only does Hamilton create a world I’d love to live in, but she also creates a protagonist who I’d love to be friends with, who I might aspire to be like & who I wouldn’t mind being enemies with because I know that battle would be phenomenal. I strongly recommend everyone read this, it’s not a book I’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

The world building was my absolute favourite. I loved the legends and stories Hamilton would weave into her world. They were so enchanting; I really need some kind of legends/mythology book that lists them all. Hamilton combines two very different cultures and I wasn’t sure how that’d work, but it actually goes really well. Although the first couple chapters only seemed to have a Wild West feel, once I got into the novel, the combination was quite flawless. There are high-speed train heists and djinni and ghouls!

Amani has to be one of my favourite protagonists of all time. I liked her, but I also liked that she’s not completely likeable (if that makes sense haha). Reading this, I got a “The Mummy” feel from it. Jin was also a fantastic and very swoon-worthy character. The chemistry between the two was like this slow-burning romance – exactly like the desert. I loved that the romance wasn’t immediate – the two are strangers in the desert, and both have their secrets.

One of the only things that I was confused about was the geography of the world. I was a little unsure of which countries were against which and which countries had a part to play in the war. I think a map would have helped as I’m more of a visual person, but I know no map isn’t the fault of the author.

Another thing I loved was the reveals! Jin being a bit of a stranger, I was so focused on trying to figure out who he was that when Hamilton revealed some things about other characters I was totally and completely surprised. I did end up being half-right when it came to figuring out who Jin really was. One of these reveals was really interesting and opens up a thousand possibilities! I’m excited about that.

Rebel of the Sands is one of my favourite debuts of 2016 and I expect a lot of good things from Alwyn Hamilton in the future. I’m still not over the gorgeousness of this book! Be sure to check this one out as well as it’s sequel Traitor to the Throne, coming in 2017.

The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

I was tagged by Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks and Maria @ Big City Bookworm. This tag was created by Chami @ ReadLikeWildfire and Ely @ Ely Jane.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2016

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All The Rage by Courtney Summers – I’m a huge fan of Courtney Summers so I’m glad her latest book didn’t disappoint. This book is so important when it comes to rape culture and I strongly recommend you all pick it up.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2016

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A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I really liked the first book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series but ACOMAF blew me away! Full review here.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey – I loved the first book The Girl at Midnight and I can’t wait to dive into its sequel!

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas | Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz – I’m a huge fan of all of these authors, so it’s no surprise I’m widely anticipating their latest books.

Biggest Disappointment

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The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine – this book was so underwhelming! It’s such a disappointment, considering I always see people recommending this author online.

Biggest Surprise

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Rabbit Ears by Maggie De Vries – I absolutely loved this book! This is a surprise because when I first started it I originally set it back down, a little taken aback by the writing style. It’s in 2nd POV, which can go really wrong if not done right. However, I’m glad I picked it back up, it’s a fantastic book! Full review here.

Favourite New Author

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Emily Skrutskie – this author impressed me with her sci-fi debut, so I’m excited to see what she comes up with next. Full review here.

Favourite New Crush

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Jin from Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – Jin is such a swoon-worthy character!

Favourite New Characters

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ACOMAF: Rhys’ inner circle – Morrigan, Azriel, Cassian, & Amren

Book That Made You Cry

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All The Rage by Courtney Summers – and also made you angry and throw the book across the room! Seriously, you need to read this book.

Book That Made You Happy

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – the cover on the right is the new one, which will be on paperbacks next summer. Isn’t it stunning?!

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought So Far This Year

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The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – This was one of my favourite books of 2015 and when I saw it was on Book Outlet, I had to snag a copy. There’s still lots of copies for sale, I definitely recommend you get it.

What Books Do You Need To Read Before The End of the Year

 

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – I bought this book last year and still haven’t found time to read it! I really need to read it soon, as I’m sure once Empire of Storms comes out there’ll be lots of spoilers online.

Now I tag Sasha & Sarena @ The Pendant Trilogy, Genissa @ Story Diary, and Rebecca @ Intrepid Pages, and anyone else who wants to do it! If you’ve done this tag before, I’d love to see your posts.

Book Review: Steel Scars by Victoria Aveyard

25362018Steel Scars (Red Queen #0.2) – prequel novella to the Red Queen series

Read my review of Queen Song (Red Queen #0.1) here

Victoria Aveyard

4/5 stars

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Publisher: Harper Teen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

In this digital prequel novella set in the Red Queen world, Captain Farley exchanges coded transmissions with the resistance as she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital. She was raised to be strong, but planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected—until she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation: Mare Barrow.

Review:

In this prequel novella to RED QUEEN, STEEL SCARS tells the story of Farley, a secondary character from RQ & a captain of the Scarlet Guard – a group rebelling against the Silvers in power. I absolutely loved this book! Farley is a fantastic character and I wouldn’t mind reading a full-length novel in her POV. I also wouldn’t have minded if RQ had been told in Farley’s POV instead of Mare’s. Obviously it wouldn’t have been called RQ, but it’d be way more entertaining (to me).

I think I like Farley a bit more than Mare because she isn’t a special snowflake. She’s worked very hard to get where she is and her strength is human. I don’t mind characters who end being a special snowflake – I mean, who doesn’t imagine themselves as heir to the throne or having magic powers or finally getting their Hogwarts letter. However, I don’t always like it when everything about the protagonist is self-made, human strength and then suddenly we find out they’re a special snowflake & everything that made them human is left in the dust. It’s easier to identify with a character if their strength seems somewhat realistic & obtainable to us.

I also loved the behind the scenes feel we got from this. Reading decoded messages sent to and from Farley was great (although sometimes hard to read). Overall, it was really exciting! We also saw a bit of Shade Barrow, Mare’s brother and I loved the chemistry between him and Farley. Another reason why a full-length novel in Farley’s POV would have been great.

Something I did dislike about the novella, it was one big book, no parts or chapters to separate it. It made it hard to decide when and where would be a good place to pause. Sure, I can bookmark it at the beginning of the page but it seemed like pausing in the middle of the action.

I find you don’t need to read Queen Song to read this but you should read Red Queen beforehand – you’ll understand things a bit more.

ARC August Challenge

img_7515I’ve decided to participate in the ARC August challenge, hosted by Octavia and Shelly @ Read Sleep Repeat. I found out about this really fun reading challenge last year where you aim to read as many arc’s (advance reader copy) as possible during the month of august. Want to join in? Check out the sign up post here. There is also a cool bookish prize you can win 🙂

I’m a pretty slow reader so this is the perfect challenge for me – you can read just one arc or 20, it’s up to you. If you’ve decided to sign up, I’d love to know what you’re planning to read!

Here are the arcs I’m planning to read:

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

I’m not sure if I’ll get to all of them because there are some non-arcs I want to read, but I’ll try to be extra productive.

Book Review: The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

26883560The Drowning Eyes

Emily Foster

3/5 stars

Release Date: January 12, 2016

Publisher: Tor

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

When the Dragon Ships began to tear through the trade lanes and ravage coastal towns, the hopes of the archipelago turned to the Windspeakers on Tash. The solemn weather-shapers with their eyes of stone can steal the breeze from raiders’ sails and save the islands from their wrath. But the Windspeakers’ magic has been stolen, and only their young apprentice Shina can bring their power back and save her people.

Tazir has seen more than her share of storms and pirates in her many years as captain, and she’s not much interested in getting involved in the affairs of Windspeakers and Dragon Ships. Shina’s caught her eye, but that might not be enough to convince the grizzled sailor to risk her ship, her crew, and her neck.

Review:

I’m really disappointed with this novella. After hearing so many good things I expected to love it – the premise is exactly what I love reading in a fantasy book. I was confused for most of the novella, although the ending was definitely better than the beginning. Reading the first chapter, I felt bombarded by several characters, like opening a book on a random page. There were too many voices being introduced at once. I actually considered DNF-ing it, but decided to push through, since this is a short book.

What I understood about the world and Windspeakers was interesting, but I didn’t feel like enough things were explained in the beginning and middle. For example, Windspeakers are either referred to as wet-eye Windspeakers or stone-eye. Wet-eye means your natural eyes. When Windspeakers are fully trained they undergo a surgery to remove their eyes and replace them with stone eyes. This blinds them, but also increases their power. This wasn’t fully explained until near the end. It was also not explicitly stated whether stone-eyes are blind, until the end. I assumed this, but did theorize that magic could keep their sight or something like that.

Ultimately the author’s vision did not fully translate in the writing. Maybe it’s because this is a novella, so there are less words to use or just the writing. Who knows? I’d still recommend this because I liked what I saw of the world, but maybe request it from the library first. This is a quick read so if you don’t like it, your time isn’t too wasted. I feel The Drowning Eyes would have been better as a bigger book – allowing more time for the reader to bond with the characters and world.

Book Review: Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

 

25005214Queen Song (Red Queen #0.1) – prequel novella to the Red Queen series

Victoria Aveyard

3.5/5 stars

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher: Harper Teen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.

Review:

Victoria Aveyard’s writing is superb in this prequel novella to Red Queen. Queen Song tells the backstory of Queen Coriane, from her life before the Royal Court to her friendship with the crown prince as well as the heartache and despair that comes with being a Silver daughter. Although the writing was strong, the main character was not.

I think Coriane’s personality didn’t fully get across to me and her troubles came across as a pity party. She seemed like she’d make a great mechanic or engineer and a big reader, but she doesn’t really fight for those things. As well, she talks about these things, but we don’t really see her doing them. It should be show, don’t tell. She also observes and thinks about the Reds and the Silvers. I did like that and I felt like she could’ve made strong strides as the Queen. She acknowledges that the Reds have it so much worse than the Silvers, but the focus remains on what the Silvers can’t do (like fight cancer or death). The irony is that she’s told multiple times to get a backbone and is written as weak and underwhelming.

I read Red Queen over a year ago so I don’t remember every skill/talent that the Silver houses are known for, never mind remember what a Singer can do. I wish the author had mentioned Coriane’s ability earlier (rather than near the end) and maybe explained it a bit more. I was actually starting to think Coriane didn’t even have one. Elara’s ability was mentioned earlier and in greater detail.

Maybe my main issue was that, I the reader know the fate of this character, having read Red Queen and wished for a character who fights up until the last moment, despite their fate. Coriane did act but it didn’t feel significant. It seemed to place her deeper into the hole. If you liked the Red Queen series or want to read about the backstory of this character, this is a quick read – just don’t expect a great YA heroine.

May + June Wrap-Up Post

tumblr_o94xrqi3dh1sefywro1_1280I didn’t have a chance to blog about what I read in May so I’m combining it with June’s wrap-up post. I read a lot in May, but it was all novellas – no full-length novels so I’m a bit bummed about that. That made me determined to read more novels in June, which I did but not a lot. I did finish ACOMAF which is basically three books in one, so that’s got to count for something. 🙂

 

 

May:

The Black Knife by Jodi Meadows

The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo

The Siren by Kiera Cass – unfortunately this one was a DNF

The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

Vampire Knight Volumes 7-10 by Matsuri Hino

June:

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

I loved ACOMAF! It’s definitely my favourite Maas book to date and one of my favourite reads of 2016. It’s the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses and I totally recommend it.

How did everyone do with their reading last month? Any good books to recommend?

So I was looking at my Goodreads Currently Reading shelf and noticed I have 10 books on there. 10! I’ve also started a couple other books that I haven’t added onto there, so I am determined to finish a couple of those this month. I’m also planning to finally start some books that have been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. Anyone else have the same problem?

ICYMI:

Movie Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

Review of Rabbit Ears + Interview with Maggie de Vries

Movie Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

I’m really late getting this post out, but I’m sure it will still be helpful for anyone considering buying or renting this movie when it’s available. If there are any places where it’s still playing in theatres, I hope it helps those moviegoers. Today I’m going to answer the important question: is The Jungle Book as amazing as it looks and more importantly, is it worth your money? Watch the trailer and read my review below:
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Yes, yes it is and it’s worth the cost of a 3D ticket. This is probably one of the only movies that are actually worth paying 3D for. For this review, I’ll be comparing it to the 1967 animated classic. I didn’t have time to read the book, but if I do I’ll write a follow up post. The CGI was fantastic and I really liked how they decided to tell the story. Every character brought a different emotion to the big screen and I loved, along with other adults in the theatre, hearing the soundtrack and score of a beloved classic. It really brings you back to your childhood. For those unfamiliar with the 1967 adaptation and even the book by Rudyard Kipling, this movie stands on its own.

There are some big differences between the two Disney versions. The biggest one is Mowgli’s place in the movie. The 1967 film is largely focused on Mowgli’s story while this one is just like the title: it’s about the jungle and Mowgli and all the creatures that live in it. We get to see more of the wolf pack as well as Shere Khan. I’ve always felt like how we saw him in the 1967 movie was brief and a bit cowardly – the viewer doesn’t truly see why the jungle is afraid of Shere Khan. Here, Shere Khan is fear and cruelty; Idris Elba is phenomenal when it comes to bringing such a character to life.

The cinematography deserves 5 stars. I felt like I was there and nothing has ever done that as well as Planet Earth (the BBC documentary). Actually, I’m curious if they used some footage from PE. I also liked that they used live-action to show natural events that might happen, things that have nothing to do with Man. You’ll watch animal stampedes, the dry season, the wet season, rock slides & flooding. The CGI is fantastic – the animals look real and the 3D aspect adds another layer. I can only imagine how much time and dedication goes into that. What’s interesting, with some animals you could tell they were CGI because of their expressions, like Bagheera and Baloo. There’s this humanity, which is amazing to watch. Others, like Shere Khan, well lets just say it’d be hard to tell him apart from the real deal.

There are some big differences between this version and the 1967 version. There are only two musical sequences and they’re pretty short. While they use the same music and score, it’s largely in the background, which I think fits better with a live-action adaptation. It’s harder to imagine real-life animals breaking into song. I did like that they could bring these songs back in different scenes as well as scenes that weren’t in the 1967 version. There was one musical sequence I didn’t like and it’s one of the only things I dislike about the movie. I’m not a 100% percent fan of the actor they chose for Mowgeli and I didn’t feel like he lived up to the musical aspect, but maybe that’s just me. Overall, it was still entertaining and I think every kid in the audience was enthralled.

Bagheera is a fantastic character, and the actor sets a precedent. Even when you only hear his voice, you know who he is. He’s taken up the job of being Mowgeli’s foster father, teaching him everything a man cub needs to know to survive in the jungle. This is something Mowgli struggles with, doing things like a wolf when you don’t have sharp teeth and claws. He comes up with clever alternatives, called tricks, which gets him into trouble with Bagheera.

I loved Baloo! He brings the humour, just lazing around with not a care in the world. The actor was fantastic with this character.

One of the only things I had an issue with would be King Louie’s character and how he was brought to life. This character perhaps represents greed and lust, always looking for power and trying to climb up the food chain. He considers humans to be at the top and so is always looking for human things. He’s a giant orangutang living in ancient human ruins with his eye on fire, a human invention. I didn’t have a problem with that. However, King Louie takes on the role of an Italian mob boss and while it fits with the character and everyone laughed, I don’t know how I feel about westernizing a character from an Eastern work. I don’t feel like this character needs to be westernized to connect with the audience.

All in all, I was thoroughly entertained and impressed with The Jungle Book. The animals were so well done, and it makes it easier to think about them doing movies and characters that are largely animal-based or characters that would require CGI (Mulan!). I really, really hope they decide to take on The Lion King and Mulan next! There was actually a scene that reminded me of The Lion King. It’s my favourite movie on the planet, so my life won’t be complete without a live-action Lion King. I give this movie 5 stars.