Terrible! That’s What It Was.

Worst Movie Ever

There are many things that can frustrate me and drive me up the wall. One of it is an online game that my husband introduced me to. Often, I’d find my character being killed off over and over again, despite the endless streams of health and mana potions. I end up telling myself that if I ever died again (my game character, that is), I’m going to quit the game.

But I never do. I stubbornly replay that round until I win. My husband calls me ‘tenacious’. I think I’m just stubborn and refuse to give up.

But my tenacity didn’t spill over to the books I read and the movies I watch. I don’t enjoy giving up on books that were dull or uninteresting. I’d still press on, stubbornly again, struggling to finish them. But I’m not perfect. I’m only human. And I have stopped reading books that were uninteresting. Two or three, I think. I’m more careful now when it comes to buying books. Goodreads and Amazon are two of my most trusted sites to go to when it comes to researching a book prior to buying it. Amazon, because it lets me read the first few pages of a book to see if I liked what I saw.

Movies, however, are a little different. No amount of official trailers on YouTube, rotten tomatoes or IMDB reviews could help prepare me for the worst movie of my life.

During my courtship years with my then-boyfriend (now-husband), we went to watch a fantasy movie. I can’t remember the name but I knew there were knights, horses, a king and a kingdom, and quite possibly a dragon in it as well. The timeline of the movie was also set during the medieval era. Oh, the movie was so boring! It started out quite slowly, with too much talk and not enough action. The acting was flat. I didn’t even recognise any of the actors and actresses! I sat there, staring blankly at the big screen for at least a quarter way into the movie before I finally decided to call it quits.

Yes, I walked out of the cinema. And that was the only time I ever walked out of a cinema hall before the end of a movie. Even the cinema hall wasn’t packed like a can of sardines like it usually was. The lack of movie-goers made the cinema hall quite cold. I could feel the chill despite wearing my jeans-and-sweater combo.

Needless to say, I’ve also become more careful when it comes to watching movies today. I didn’t want to waste time and money for a movie that wasn’t worth it. Thankfully, at that time, movie tickets didn’t cost a bomb. Also, in this day and age, if you did miss a movie you wanted to watch or thought would be great, you could always download it or stream it and watch it in your own time.

What about you? Have you ever walked out of a movie before?

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Book Review: The Last Innocent Hour by Margot Abbott.

the-last-innocent-hour-by-margot-abbottNo. of Pages: 599 pages (although in iBooks, it was shown as 1,251 pages)

Publisher, Date: Sand Hill Review Press, June 2017

Author: Margot Abbott

Setting: Berlin, Germany

SynopsisIt is 1946 and Berlin is a ruined city, the Nazis vanquished, but memories of the city in 1934 haunt Sally as she returns to investigate war crimes as an army intelligence officer. Her father was the American ambassador to the new Third Reich and Sally was too naïve to understand the corruption and depravity underneath the shiny surface of banners and marching men. Childhood summers at a Bavarian lake made her believe she knew Germany. 

Her job, which helps expiate her old guilt, is analyzing photographs; she is no longer innocent of the evil done by the Nazis. In the American sector offices, Sally finds friendship with the other members of her unit, especially with Tim Hastings. His easy, relaxed friendship is a balm to her frozen heart. She does fear he will despise her when he learns about her past, especially her marriage to Christian Mayr, an SS officer. 

He was a rising officer under the command of General Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the dreaded secret police. Apparently supporting the young couple, Heydrich’s manipulations instead tore them apart, nearly taking Sally’s life, certainly shredding her soul. She does not know what happened to Christian. 

Sally studies a series of pictures documenting a wartime atrocity, a reprisal by the Nazis after the 1942 assassination of Heydrich. Stunned, Sally believes she can recognize the SS commander as her husband. It is logical that Mayr was sent to revenge his chief. 

But Christian was also Sally’s loyal childhood friend, and then her passionate husband. Sally believed in Christian, in their love and she believed that Berlin and Heydrich could not touch them. Now, in 1946, she understands love does not always triumph, but how could Christian have become the man in the photograph? And is he still alive?

There’s one thing you should know about me.

Make me watch a horror film, I’ll sit as far at the back of the cinema as possible with my eyes closed and my fingers shoved into my ears.

But give me a historical fiction novel on World War 2 and I’ll be glued to the book. I will stop to eat (though sleeping in questionable as I’ve sacrificed sleep before just for the sake of reading) until I’m done. Yup, that’s me. For some unknown reason, I’m able to read and digest the terror and destruction wrought upon mankind by the Nazis or the Japanese, the torture and suffering faced by the prisoners-of-war (POWs). But horror flicks have left me terrifed at night, unable to even use the toilet out of fear that there is something waiting to get me.

So here’s what I have today. The Last Innocent Hour by author Margot Abbott was, by far, the most emotional novel I’ve ever read during the World War 2 timeline. It was painful to read mostly because of Sally Jackson’s (the main female character) involvement with her childhood sweetheart, Christian Mayr. Now that wouldn’t have been a problem if he wasn’t drafted into Hitler’s world as an SS officer. Sally Jackson is the daughter of Lowell Jackson, an American ambassador in Berlin, and falsely believes that her position could protect her from the wily charms of the SS General Reinhard Heydrich, Christian’s boss.

All’s fair in love and war could have been the only tagline in Heydrich’s head. After all, he was the mastermind behind all the gross atrocities towards the Jews and he does have the last say of what Christian Mayr should or shouldn’t be doing. If Sally wanted nothing but love from Christian, then Heydrich would do anything to make sure it happened. Of course, having a German police general as your matchmaker is the last thing you’d want. But Sally just couldn’t stay away from it all, and it was her naivety and gullibility that led to her downfall.

I’ve taken a long break from reading anything to do with World War 2. Only because the books tend to mess with my mind. But I do kind of miss it, really. Like I mentioned above, it is strange how I can tolerate reading so much of this suffering, torture, pain and death surrounding this dreadful period. How dark and depressing it was back then. But I found it hard to put the book down.

One thing did cross my mind about The Last Innocent Hour, though. The total number of pages given in iBooks was 1,251 pages. However, on Goodreads, it was 599 pages. I’m not sure what’s up but 599 pages is nowhere near 1,251 pages. Although reaching page 599 or 600 would just mean I’m halfway through reading the book.

As I neared the end of the story, I realised how far I’ve come and it has been a turbulent, rollercoaster ride of emotions. It was the most painful story I’ve read in 2018. Dramatic, yes, I know it’s just a story but the author was pretty good! The way the story was written left me reeling. The book made me feel so much for Sally Jackson that after awhile I had to take a break from reading. Imagine sticking your head down into the Pensieve only to have all sorts of nasty things exploding in front of your eyes. I had been so sure that Sally and Christian would rise from their doom. Then I wasn’t so sure anymore.

It took me a little over four days to finish reading this. I found it hard to tear myself away and even if I did, just for awhile, I found myself being dragged back into the plot. Sally and Christian’s relationship was doomed from the start the moment the latter grew up into a fine young man. Sally had been too trusting to notice the cracks forming and even if she did, she couldn’t call it off for the sake of her own sanity. Instead, she got drawn in deeper and deeper into a labyrinth of lies and deception. At first, I thought she was being silly. I did tire of her stupidity and blindness to the SS General’s dirty tricks. But even I had begun to ask the same questions as Sally had in her head. Was Christian for real? Or was he just following the general’s orders? Eventually, I got as confused as Sally. Did he truly love her as he claimed to have?

The book was so enthralling and captivating. It hooked me in right from the start. Margot Abbott is a truly remarkable author. Her writing style made me feel as if I was another character in the book with everyone else. It made me feel the way Sally felt. Long after finishing the book, I coulnd’t determine if I was still in the book or came back to reality. I should have pinched myself.

Cats: The Purr-fect Cure for What Ails You.

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Did you know…

… that many studies have shown how pets can help to reduce stress and even lower blood pressure?

I didn’t, at least, not until recently.

I sat in the corner of the room my cats live in, cross-legged, and quietly observed them as they routinely padded around their living space. A sniff here, a prod there. Such inquisitive creatures. I watched as Chibi, my youngest, hopped onto the short wooden stool and meowed. As if to hope that I would understand what he just said. Not waiting for a reply from me, he hopped off the chair and started licking himself. My eldest boy, Loki, carefully made his way towards me but decided to rest against the wall not far from where I sat.

It was pleasant sitting in the room with them. But then it gets better than that.

Chibi meowed again and came towards me. A paw on my knee, followed by a second, third and finally the last hind leg. He stood there, rather precariously, on my thighs before settling himself down on me. I reached up to stroke his body, smoothed his fur and scratched his ears. I caressed his neck, rubbed his cheeks and gently massaged his soft and pink, jellybean toes. I sat there for what seemed like forever, my legs falling asleep. I craned my neck and took a peek at his face. There was a look of content on his face, a couple of slow blinks. Then his eyes closed. I’ve never seen him so cosy and comfortable before. My endless stroking and petting had put him to sleep. And you know what else? I felt myself drifting off as well!

My husband had mentioned before that the petting of cats can reduce the stress we feel. Well, if you have a bunny, I’m sure the same applies. For those who live with depression or anxiety (yours truly suffers from this caused by work stress), pets can truly be an integral part of getting through the day and overcoming challenges. And this is true for both adults and children.

The Academy of Anxiety and Depression of America states that anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. This is important to me because I was recently diagnosed with anxiety due to insane work stress. I hit rock-bottom hard and struggled to resurface for air but nothing worked. I lost interest in my hobbies, I found it difficult to read and focus, I lost precious sleep, I hadn’t wanted to see anyone. Not even my own parents. But one thing kept me going and that was my cats. They became my best option for therapy (free as well since I didn’t need to pay a fortune to see a real therapist), and that’s when I saw how the healing power of felines helped me through my darkest days.

Here are the top 3 reasons why I love my boys so much and am so grateful for how they have made me feel today:

They provide stress relief

Physical contact with your cat can lead to the production of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. All it means is the simple act of stroking your feline friend can relieve your stress and help you relax. Your heart rate and blood pressure are lowered, resulting in you focusing on your kitty rather than on your daily worries. It’s difficult to react with anger when you have a purring cat in your lap, no?

They provide health benefits

Petting and stroking your cat generally makes you feel good and happy. You feel more relaxed, calmer and less stressed about life. Spending time with and petting your cat can also help to prevent anxiety-related health issues. When you reduce the amount of stress in your life, your blood pressure is lowered and your chances of suffering from anxiety-related illnesses are reduced as well. It’s a domino effect that I don’t mind having.

Petting makes them feel loved

The act of petting works both ways. Not only does it help you breathe easier but it also shows how much tender loving care your cat is getting from you. Want to make the connection even better? Concentrate your rubbing and/or stroking motions on the areas behind her ears and eyes. Don’t forget the cheeks and the chin, too. Your cat will thank you for the ad-hoc massage and purr like a well-oiled, V8 engine of a sleek, sports car!

I used to think that term “therapy animal” was for dogs. After all, it is a given that dogs make excellent companions and constantly provide assistance to humans to cope in a variety of ways. But cats can be certified as official therapy animals too. Cats may not be for everyone, but they certainly are for me. That’s why I make it a point to spend as much time as possible with them.

Want more reasons to own a cat? Read Mental Floss for 10 Scientific Benefits for Being A Cat Owner.