Review: Calling Major Tom – David M. Barnett

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SYNOPSIS: We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world. – via Goodreads

So, it did take this book a while to actually become something to me, but it finally did ramp up from the slog it was initially. While it did not hit the heights of the claim of being “the feel good novel of 2017”, it certainly was a decent read, and it was a quick one, too.

The plot is absurd, and it is good. A lot of time is spent in the beginning of the book telling us a little bit about Thomas and then the Ormerod family, and it isn’t happy, pleasant stuff. Not super dramatic either, it just feels like filler, even though it is important to set up the remainder of the novel. Necessary, though. Then the novel just dives in. The whole story is built on a wrong number call made by Thomas Major, and from there, things snowball.

I really like Gladys. She is sweet and endearing and it is really sad to know that she has knowledge of the fact that dementia is taking her. Ellie is a character that did not grow on me, not at all, no matter what was happening. James is a cute and confused little boy, and Delil is the comic relief we need in this whole thing. I really enjoyed the interactions between Major Tom and James, super sweet.

The book is a bit predictable though, not going against anything in the heartwarming formula, and that is okay. Once you accept the premise, it gets rolling, and when you start wondering when the humour is going to start kicking, you get some particularly juicy Taxi Driver, ninja granny moments, and it is great. Calling Major Tom also plays heavily on Thomas Major’s name and mission in connection to David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and it works for this. It is just enough to not be too much. It also has a pretty decent message it presents, never too heavy handed about it, either.

While not my favourite book, Calling Major Tom is a decent read and is very sweet. Characters you don’t expect to grown on you do (like Craig), and the story is fun to follow. I liked it, even though I didn’t love it. Others will likely enjoy it more than I did if this is their genre – let’s not forget mine is mind games, gore, and twisted killers.

June Blind Spot Review: Billy Elliot (2000)

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billy elliot poster

“I want to be a ballet dancer.”
– Billy Elliot

SYNOPSIS: A talented young boy becomes torn between his unexpected love of dance and the disintegration of his family. – via IMDB

billy and teacherbilly elliot dancing

GRADE 8So this movie was huge when I was a kid. It was in every magazine and newspaper, and yet I never, ever got around to seeing it. I have no excuse. I don’t know why I didn’t, it was just one of those things. I am so happy I finally did! I found myself grinning like a fool for chunks of this movie, and yet it managed to take things back to a super serious thing effortlessly, and successfully. The era in which this movie is set suits it perfectly, too, so all the themes and messages explored within it just resonated more. I thought that the Elliot family was so sad and dysfunctional, trying to hang in there, yet fighting the big fight. Billy’s love for dancing is amazing to watch, and to see his journey, his dedication to continue with an art like ballet was fantastic. Billy Elliot is a heartwarming story and it is sweet to boot, and yes, it will also break your heart at the best of times. Jaime Bell is incredibly talented, even as a young boy this is evident. I was particularly taken with the family, and how they eventually all got behind Billy, how he became the family’s beacon of hope (when that letter arrived and that whole family was on edge and waiting). It was so sweet. I thought the soundtrack for the movie was also great, every song fit the scene, and they were all fun and fitting, which can sometimes be an issue. If you haven’t seen Billy Elliot, get to it. Now. Soon. It’s wonderful!