MatthewSean Reviews

Book reviews, movie reviews, and other writing

Book Review – Watch How We Walk – Jennifer LoveGrove — February 22, 2014

Book Review – Watch How We Walk – Jennifer LoveGrove

Facts:

▪   Book: Watch How We Walk

▪   Author: Jennifer LoveGrove

▪   Genre: Fiction

▪   Year of Release: 2013

▪   Read 317-page paperback edition in February 2014.

Book Description: Emily is a 10 year-old girl growing up in a small town environment.  She is shy and doesn’t spend much time with other girls in her school, mainly because her family are practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They attend regular meetings at the Kingdom Hall, read Watchtower magazines faithfully, and go out in service door to door, telling worldly neighbours about the Truth.  However, Emily is starting to encounter a number of stressors in her young life, from her older sister who is beginning to take on a more rebellious tone of late, to her Uncle Tyler who is falling out of disfavour with the Elders, to her parents’ fighting, to the kids at school who make fun of her faith.  As Emily struggles to make sense of the world around her, shocking things begin to happen that will change everyone.

Book Review: This was an amazing first novel by poet Jennifer LoveGrove.  The style of writing was unique: sometimes hard to follow with a bit of time jumping and lack of quotation marks, but it usually works.  Although the plot developed slowly at first, eventually it kicked into high gear half-way through, so that you literally couldn’t put the book down for the last half of the novel, always a good sign.  LoveGrove did a fantastic job developing primary character Emily, showcasing her 10 year-old confusion and mixed emotions as events and conversations unfolded around her.  LoveGrove also developed some excellent character sketches of a faith-first father, a nuanced mother, and a rebellious older sister Lenora, who was going through typical teenage issues but inside a very religiously conservative environment.  LoveGrove developed the story so that we truly could picture and feel the varied emotions of the characters, even the claustrophobia that many felt inside the walls of a strict faith.  This was a great examination into some shocking realities of people and their lives within a religious community that has no room for multiple truths, and the damage that results from a rigid stance.  The novel tells an emotional, intense, and fierce tale.

Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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Movie Review – Miss Congeniality (2000) —

Movie Review – Miss Congeniality (2000)

Movie Synopsis: An FBI Special Agent (Sandra Bullock) who is not known for being overly feminine, to put it mildly, is thrown into the role of going undercover as Miss New Jersey at the Miss United States pageant to try and track down a dangerous killer.

Movie Review: This fun comedy had a lot of laughs in it, and is definitely a classic where actress Sandra Bullock plays up a funny character to great success.  Her ability to be awkward with the beauty queens while being totally comfortable in a male-dominated FBI environment is funny and an interesting social commentary for the time.  The storyline isn’t too serious and it is fun to just go along for the ride and enjoy.  Small and large laughs are found throughout the movie, and there are an array of very likeable and very non-likeable characters, sometimes in places you’d least expect.  Acting performances by Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine, Candace Bergen, William Shatner, and of course Bullock in the lead role, are fantastic.  The result is a funny and enjoyable movie.

Overall Review: 4 stars out of 5

Book Review – Bert – Herb Robertson —

Book Review – Bert – Herb Robertson

Facts:

▪   Book: Bert

▪   Author: Herb Robertson

▪   Genre: Fiction

▪   Year of Release: 2011

▪   Read 209-page paperback edition in December 2013.

Book Description: This book follows a number of stories in the life of Bert, a Canadian immigrant from the United Kingdom.  Bert shares with the narrator a number of tales that have helped shape his life over the years, from a childhood with a strict and quiet father to life as a young-adult immigrant making his way in the jazz and big band music scene in Canada and the USA.  Bert meets a diverse array of characters along the way, and learns about life and himself in the process

Book Review: This book is a fascinating tale written in a unique style.  This is the first published work by the author, and he has taken some very interesting approaches in writing about a complex, nuanced, imperfect character.  The author does a great job showcasing a character who we sometimes feel sorry for, and sometimes get very angry at.  It is a true picture of the imperfect human, who sometimes makes mistakes, sometimes learns from them, but overall is still a person worth caring about at the end of the day, someone who has a good heart.  The author does a great job demonstrating the character’s varied emotions and life successes and challenges through the years, with disparate scenes and chapters of his life.  The author makes some great points throughout the novel.  One downside of the novel is there are a few chapters which feel a little lengthy and overly-written, where too much detail is shared for not enough payoff.  When the story is about the character and his relationships with others, it is fantastic.  It sometimes meanders into details that aren’t as important or interesting.  However, this happens only in a few instances, and overall this is an enjoyable novel about the exploration of a complex character.

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5.