Friday, February 5, 2016

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦)

Literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw has had recurrent nightmares for five years, ever since she lost her newborn in childbirth. An invitation to spend the two weeks leading to Christmas at a seaside village in Pembrokeshire, South Wales—in the company of Bridget Cooper, an author Lyn represents, and James Swift, an author she admires and would like to sign up—hints major changes, for Lyn’s nightmares change shape and prompt her to take care of a baby—descendant of King Arthur and a line of Welsh heroes—who may be destined for greatness and is in danger of being captured by “a dragon”. Lyn has the help of brooding, and elusive playwright Gareth Gwyn Morgan, a local who steers her through the world of Celtic myths, Arthurian legend and Merlin’s prophecies to make sense of her dreams and their meaning.

Named of the Dragon is the fifth novel I read by Susanna Kearsley after The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden, Mariana, and Firebird.

I started Named of the Dragon twice or thrice last year, but it seemed I wasn't in the mood for Kearsley's style. I was craving something more along the line of Frederick Forsyth and I had to satisfy that crave. And it worked. Just last month I read a glowing review penned by a fellow blogger on Named of the Dragon and I told myself: "what do I have to lose?" Apparently, a few hours of sleep.

Named of the Dragon is written in trademark Kearsley's style: absorbing, page-turning, comfortable, familiar storytelling that seems so effortless that you wonder if she invented the story or it has actually happened to someone, somewhere. I noticed this time around something that had called my attention when I read Firebird; some of her characters reappear in some form or another in her other novels. It's not necessarily a series, but it pays off to read her entire body of work from the beginning and pay close attention to characters.

I had a great time reading Named of the Dragon. In it, Susanna Kearsley weaves Celtic legends and myths to create a story that, though contemporary, recreates a time of forgotten heroes and prophesied greatness, bringing to the fore the vastness and richness of Welsh and Celtic traditions.

DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free Galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Straight Outta Compton (♦♦♦)

In the mid 1980s, five black men out of Compton, California, pioneered the gangsta rap movement that became an instant sensation nationwide. Rappers like Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E emerged from the group. But not everything was a bed of roses for them; as years passed, egos collided and money and creative differences pulled them apart.

I wanted to watch Straight Outta Compton due to the controversy that has been generated as result of it not being nominated to this year's Oscars. While I don't think it is Oscar material, I do think it stands out from most of this year's productions in several important ways.

I don't like gangsta music; its call to violence is not the type of music I enjoy, but there is a wide sector of the U.S., even the world population, who feel they live at the edge of society and this music appeals to them. I don't like this music but I enjoyed it in the context of the film--I even swayed to the rhythm--, played out against unauthorized police raids, illegal police detentions based on race, and intimidation tactics to quash, or at least censor, the gangsta movement.

I may not agree with its gritty, violent message, but Straight Outta Compton puts racial relations in the spotlight for better or for worse, and it shines a light on what means to grow up black in ghettos all over the country.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (♦♦♦♦)

In 1966, Truman Capote was at the apex of his writing career. He had published the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, and had recently released In Cold Blood in book format. He even threw a Ball that year to which la creme de la creme of society and entertainment was invited. That year also marked the pinnacle of his social acceptance. He had befriended years before five high-society ladies--Babe Paley, Slim Hayward Keith, Pamela Hayward Churchill, Marella Agnelli, and Gloria Guinness--and their powerful husbands. He nicknamed those ladies his “swans”. Perennially on the best-dressed lists, these society ladies adopted Truman as if he were an exotic pet, sharing with him details of their intimate lives.

But darkness was lurking in the shadows. Unbeknownst to the swans, Truman was taking notes of every trespass, every comment, and revealed the sordid details of their intimate lives in the 1974 short story “La Cȏte Basque, 1965", published in Esquire magazine. What followed was one of the greatest literary scandals of NY society. Truman died a few years later ostracized by those families that had so readily accepted him in the cusp of his literary glory.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue reads like those appetizing stories in contemporary celebrity magazines like Star and Us Weekly that few people confess to reading, or liking. I read them and like them, so I enjoyed The Swans... a great deal.

In this novel the reader gets to know Truman's duplicitous nature. He was as enamored with the banal minutiae of the rich and famous such as the gorgeous clothes and even more fabulous lifestyles, as those rich personages he befriended. He was attached to the sense of belonging to a very exclusive club by virtue of being a literary prodigy.

Even if his society friends didn't have an exact measure of Truman's literary stature, they adored him for his flamboyance, his antics, his comic gossipy nature. What they didn't foresee was Truman's veiled hatred of the people he seemed to adore, his cattiness. He exposed their empty lives and empty marriages, the lack of affection towards their children, their obsessive preoccupation with beauty and appearances. In the end it was an act of betrayal on his part; taking advantage of people who had welcomed him and accepted him more or less for what he was. He paid dearly for it, but the damage was done.

DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free Galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pawn Sacrifice (♦♦♦♦½)

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet chess team's supremacy was undeniable, that was until American Grandmaster prodigy Bobby Fischer made it his mission to defeat, along with chess Grandmasters the world over, chess world champion Boris Spassky and the entire Soviet team. While Fischer was waging war on the chessboard, he was struggling with his increasingly deteriorating mental state.

I have a thing for Bobby Fischer. I've never learned entirely to play chess, but during my teenage years I made a scrapbook containing the chess matches ever played by Fischer and Spassky, that was much coveted by those in my social circle who played.

Anyways, Pawn Sacrifice is after my own heart. It is well written, well acted and well directed, and I think the film perfectly encapsulated the era--the music, the politics, the high stakes.

Tobey Maguire baffles me as an actor. He managed to achieve commercial stardom with the Spiderman franchise, yet he is still an under-the-radar actor, which I think is a pity because he always delivers understated performances that are award-worthy. Take Pawn Sacrifice, for example, in which he interprets the role of Bobby Fischer. He nails the antics, the paranoia, the cockiness... He does it so well that you say over and over: "there he goes again", and laugh while you shake your head knowing that for him it was a serious matter. While Maguire threatens to steal the spotlight, Liev Schreiber ably keeps up as Boris Spassky and gives Maguire a run for his money. Peter Sarsgaard has in Pawn Sacrifice his most sympathetic role to date as priest and anchor Bill Lombardy.

If I had had the opportunity to nominate movies for the Oscars, I would have done away with The Martian and Matt Damon, and would have nominated Pawn Sacrifice, Maguire and Schreiber, the two leading actors for their outstanding performances.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (♦♦♦♦♦)

Walter Mitty is a bachelor who has never done anything noteworthy or been anywhere. He takes an interest in a coworker whom he has overheard joined eHarmony, so he joins as well, but even writing his profile is a struggle. Little does he know that over the course of the next two weeks his life will change dramatically (in the best sense), for Life magazine, where he has worked for 16 years, will be transitioning to online only release after a merger and they’ll be facing a massive layoff.

Directed, co-produced and acted by Ben Stiller in the leading role, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a little gem. Who knew Ben Stiller had this in him?! It has beautiful cinematography, breathtaking photography and cool special effects. Quirky and outrageously funny, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty shouldn't be missed.

Cast:
Ben Stiller (Walter Mitty), Kristen Wiig (Cheryl Melhoff, Walter's love interest), Shirley MacLaine (Edna Mitty, Walter's mom), Kathryn Hahn (Odessa Mitty, Walter's sister), Sean Penn (in a cameo role as Sean O’Connell, famous photographer and Walter’s hero)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Her (♦♦♦♦)

In a future Los Angeles, Theodore Twombly makes his living working for an online company writing personal letters for other people. A new computer OS comes out and he gives it a try. The OS personalizes the experience according to people needs and gives it a human voice. Samantha, Theodore's OS, is thoughtful, loving, and funny. As the relationship between the two evolves, they fall in love but soon they begin to question if what they feel for each other is the real thing.

Written, directed, and co-produced by Spike Jonze, Her is one of those movies that are extremely odd to categorize, and may not be appreciated by the majority of moviegoers, but it makes you feel good, and it is food for thought. What does it mean to be in love? Is the love any less real if one of the subjects in the relationship isn't material? Her takes a sentimental look at loneliness and human needs and turns the answers inside out.

Her is a jewel of a film, and to that contribute its solid yet odd screenplay, which won an Academy Award for originality, its superb photography with aerial views of L.A., and its soulful musical score. Another outstanding contribution to the appeal of the movie is the cast.

Joaquin Phoenix is amazing in the role of Theodore, the main character. Phoenix is usually spot on in his roles, and he has a series of outstanding performances in films such as Gladiator, Walk the Line, and now Her. That he hasn't won an Oscar yet amazes me. Amy Adams is a beautiful actress, who also happens to be a gifted one. I think that to really shine she needs a strong ensemble around her; then she gives her all. In Her, as Amy, she is a subdued wife who has suddenly and hardly won back her freedom. Adams imparts her character with vulnerability, and even in her limited role she excels. As much as Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson gives one of her most vibrant performances ever, all the better because we get to know her character Samantha through her voice; in other words, she doesn't physically appear in the film. Johansson conveys her feelings and emotions through her conversations with Theodore, and we get to like her too. Rooney Mara (as Catherine, Theodore’s ex-wife), Olivia Wilde and Chris Pratt (as Paul, Theodore’s admirer at work) complete the ensemble.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Children's Home by Charles Lambert (♦♦)

Due to his mother's smothering affection, Morgan Fletcher grows up to become a disfigured millionaire who has seen very little of the world outside his mansion. That changes, when children begin appearing somewhat mysteriously at his front door and he has no other choice than to provide food and lodging. Within months of their arrival, strange discoveries are made in the mansion's attic, and a leader emerges among the children who reveals the purpose of their visit in due time.

The Children's Home has been compared to works like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, but in my opinion that comparison is overly ambitious for it lacks their appeal. The children's behavior and purpose seemed more in tune with Lord of the Flies than with inverted fairy tales, though there are elements of it in this novel. Even when the events described are supposed to be disturbing, they sound so trivial, perhaps because the plot doesn't seem to be moving at all.

Overall, The Children’s Home was a miss for me.

DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free Galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (♦♦♦♦)

An alien race known as Mimics has invaded Earth. Our very survival is at stake. Mimics are by far winning the war against humans, but there's hope in the form of two soldiers who have killed, each on a different battle, an alpha mimic--organism dependent of a central brain-like structure called Omega--whose blood has the power to reset time for the soldiers who killed it, making them relive the same day over and over, while the Omega anticipates their every move.

Super soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) trains to and kills over and over soldier Major Cage (Tom Cruise). Together they'll have to find and destroy the brain-like Omega if they are to save humanity.

Hip and brainy... Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhog's Day with an alien twist, and the latest weaponry mankind has been able to conceive, and battles on top of battles. Agreed, you have to be a fan of action movies or sci-fi to enjoy this film, but it delivers on both fronts with a stylish and original screenplay.

I'm partly a fan of these combined genres thanks mostly to Tom Cruise, who has become the go-to actor for hip action-sci-fi. He is an actor that can tackle demanding dramatic roles with ease, but the public has made the choice for him to catapult him to commercial stardom with these action roles, and he has responded by excelling in them. Among his acclaimed movies in this genre we can't fail to cite Minority Report, and the fairly recent Oblivion. I can't quite grasp for sure where the appeal of those films reside, but it's undeniable.

Opposite Tom Cruise is Emily Blunt as super soldier Rita Vrataski, and if you think she is too girlie for this role, you'd better think again. Blunt is not only credible, but we root for her to win; whether she makes it out alive is quite another story.

Emily Blunt is more in her niche with movies like Young Victoria, The Devil Wears Prada, The Adjustment Bureau, The Five-Year Engagement, and Your Sister's Sister, but she is slowly proving that she is not just a pretty face, but an actress with enduring appeal and untapped potential.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Madame Bovary (♦♦♦)

Young Emma is Catholic educated in a convent. She marries country doctor Charles Bovary, with hopes that she will forever be happy. Soon after the marriage, the Bovarys move to a village, and the boring country living torments Emma.

An invitation to the neighboring estate of Marquis d'Andervilliers for a hunt, marks the beginning of her emancipation, for both Emma and the Marquis will engage in an all-consuming extramarital affair. And when the Marquis bids her farewell, Emma continues her affairs with passionate tax clerk Leon Dupuis. During these entanglements, Emma buys expensive gowns and trifles that lead the Bovarys to financial ruin.

Mia Wasikowska, so at ease in the roles of Jane Eyre, and as Albert Nobbs' paramour in Albert Nobbs, seems ill-fitted for the role of passionate Madame Bovary. I understand there are two sides to Emma Bovary: the one of discontented wife in a suffocating small village, and that side Wasikowska nails to perfection; she is somewhat lost as a passionate lover, however. I didn't think there was chemistry at all between Emma and her lovers, unless that was the point. Ezra Miller, so brilliant in We Need to Talk about Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is also miscast as Leon Dupuis in this period piece.

Beautiful costume designs and music is what I liked about this movie. Unfortunately, these technical aspects of the film weren't sufficient to make me love it overall.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Elephant in the Living Room (♦♦♦♦♦)

Many states in the U.S. allow legal ownership of exotic wild animals, and there is a booming marketplace out there where no filming is allowed, catering to every exotic taste. But when animals grow unmanageable and attack, or when owners change their minds and discard the wild critters, it is up to public safety officers around the country to risk their lives to catch and protect the animals or find them suitable accommodations.

Interwoven with public safety officers' interviews are those of exotic pet owners, an emergency doctor's opinion and snippets of news reporting public sightings and/or attacks of wild animals. Eye-opening, visceral, and just plain heartbreaking is this documentary that is a roller coaster experience for victims and animal lovers alike.

When you see an old man crying his love for his four year old African lion, which he reared up since it was a cub, you know that you are facing an issue in which there are only losers, most of all the wild animals.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦)

I could never do justice to Frederick Forsyth if attempted to retell the plot of any of his novels in my own words. Thus, for The Fist of God, I submitted to Barnes & Noble from which I extracted the official book blurb:

"From the behind-the-scenes decision-making of the Allies to the secret meetings of Saddam Hussein's war cabinet, from the brave American fliers running their dangerous missions over Iraq to the heroic young spy planted deep in the heart of Baghdad, Forsyth's incomparable storytelling skill keeps the suspense at a breakneck pace.  Somewhere in Baghdad is the mysterious "Jericho," the traitor who is willing (for a price) to reveal what is going on in the high councils of the Iraqi dictator.  But Saddam's ultimate weapon has been kept secret even from his most trusted advisers. And the nightmare scenario that haunts General Schwarzkopf and his colleagues is suddenly imminent, unless somehow, the spy can locate that weapon--The Fist of God--in time."

I spent the month of December on a trip to the past in the form of the Gulf War in 1991. And let me tell you, The Fist of God is not a crash course, but a full immersion complete with army acronyms, rogue, hero pilots, and top notch espionage.

Taut, dense, and brimming with useful (and likely) insider's information, it took me ages to absorb it all, and what a ride that was. It furthered my understanding of the conditions it took to build that big, yet fragile, Coalition, which Saddam Hussein endangered by targeting Tel Aviv with modified Scud missiles, possibly facing retaliatory (and rightly so) action against Iraq's military infrastructure. The U.S. had to convince Israel not to join the war.

Curiously (and likely), a Washington-based think tank wrote in a memo addressed to James Baker, then Secretary of State, the reasons why Saddam Hussein shouldn't be targeted for assassination. The interesting thing is that it seemed they were watching through a wormhole the chaos the Middle East has become since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Don't get me wrong, he had it coming, but his terror regime was a stabilization factor in the region.

Finally, to conclude, I'll just send a question to the void: if Saddam Hussein had WMD, and he had some as early as 1990, what happened to them? Because by 1990 estimates, Saddam had invested nearly seventeen billion dollars in procuring WMD and/or the means to get them, yet when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 supposedly none were found. Is it possible that the Iraq War was justified after all?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year 2016

Happy 2016 to casual visitors of my site and those assiduous visitors along the year. Your support has made me appreciate writing for you all the more.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart and please keep on visiting with open hearts and minds. Hopefully there will be plenty of more things to say in the years to come.

May 2016 be a healthy, joyous, and prosperous year for you all!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Reading Year 2015 in Retrospect

2015 was for me a great reading year, though I definitely read less books than in the previous two years. Also, I discovered the benefits of joining NetGalley, through which I could read advance copies of some of this year’s hot releases. Visiting Jessica @ Bookworm Chronicles last December I saw a post that made me want to replicate what she did, so I borrowed the format and the questions for this post. Below is how my 2015 reading year looked like:

Books read: 26         
         
Fiction: 24                 Non-Fiction: 2                      Re-reads: 0

Genres: (some of these overlap)

Poetry: 1                    Historical Fiction: 9             Religion: 1

Contemporary Literature: 7           Mystery/Suspense: 3           

Thrillers/Espionage: 6

Jessica @ Bookworm Chronicles adapted these questions which I borrowed because I found them fun and so revealing.

Best book of the year (I couldn’t possibly pick just one): Best Books I Read in 2015

Most surprising (in a good way!): Angels at the Gate by T.K. Thorne, because it took me five trials before I finally read the whole thing

Most recommended to others: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain; Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas (both drew the most comments)

Best series you discovered: I read only two novels from series I already knew, namely The English Spy by Daniel Silva and The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer

Favorite new authors (to me): Mark Henshaw; David Mitchell; Frederick Forsyth

Most thrilling (unputdownable): The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth; Slade House by David Mitchell

Most anticipated: The English Spy by Daniel Silva

Favorite cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Most memorable characters: Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin from Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb; Beryl Markham from Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Most beautifully written: The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw

Had the greatest impact: Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Best Books I Read in 2015

I hadn’t realized until I was compiling this list that most of the book I read this year I rated four stars or higher. That says a great deal about the quality of the books I chose (mostly) from NetGalley. The following is a compilation of the books I read and liked best in 2015.


After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles by Bryan Litfin (♦♦♦♦♦): Scholarly and didactic, written in a language easy to understand, After Acts is food for thought and a theological page turner. Also, it doesn't shy away from addressing theological controversies and differences in thoughts.

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott (♦♦♦♦): is a fascinating and meticulous account of the filming of Gone with the Wind. It is an ode to the movies and the magic of movie making, to the glamour and decadence of an age gone by, to the movie stars who were part of it, and to the making of movie history.

Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb (♦♦♦♦½): reverberates with intensity. I could picture the unfolding story in my mind as if I were watching a movie.

All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer (♦♦♦♦): is a solid four until the end, which I thought was so ingenious that I felt tempted to give an extra half star just for it. When it ended I said, wow. It was that good of an ending.

The Jazz Palace by Mary Morris (♦♦♦♦): is an ode to Chicago, to its blue collar heritage, to the glamour and decadence of the Jazz Age and Prohibition era, to the music that defined the early part of the 20th century which had its roots in New Orleans, and the famous and sometimes shady figures that inhabited the city.

The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer (♦♦♦♦): Count on Brad Meltzer to concoct a story where fact and fiction intertwine seamlessly and U.S. history is just part of the mix with such outlandish result that could very well be real. With small bite chapters and easy to read prose, The President's Shadow will breeze before your eyes.

The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw (♦♦♦♦): has all the ingredients of a Greek tragedy, and a timeless feel, despite the action unfolding circa 1950s or 1960s in Japan. Vintage storytelling gives The Snow Kimono the feel of a modern classic, and in my opinion, it deserves to be one.

The English Spy by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦): I always rely on Daniel Silva to administer me a summer adrenaline shot, and as usual, he doesn't disappoint. The English Spy is ambitious and deadly in its plot development as some of the previous installments in the series were before it.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (♦♦♦♦): Paula McLain did a remarkable job drawing out the characters—all the British expatriates that lived in Kenya at the time—as well as the place. The Kenya of the 1920s shone under McLain pen, so much so, that it could be considered one more character in the story.

The Shadow Patrol by Alex Berenson (♦♦♦♦): The pacing was steady, the action unpredictable most times, and the characters were fleshed out and credible. As a thriller, this novel was a solid four, but I feel I spent this last week in a war zone, that being the double edge sword that makes me feel torn as I finished The Shadow Patrol.

The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦): is taut as violin strings and an intricate story made of convoluted subplots, which kept me on my toes as I kept track of every twist. It is unlike anything I have ever read, incendiary and frighteningly plausible to the point of being timely and prescient.

Angels at the Gate by T.K. Thorne (♦♦♦♦): is absorbing, a page-turner. It reads like an ancient text and benefits from a rich and complex biblical tableau.

Ophelia’s Muse by Rita Cameron (♦♦♦♦): The affair between Lizzie Siddal and Dante G. Rossetti is the ultimate testimony of two people that are destined to bring the best (and the worst) in each other…If you want to imagine how all may have happened, then read this book. Otherwise you can save yourself the heartache and the madness and head to Wikipedia. I did both and felt richer for it.

Slade House by David Mitchell (♦♦♦♦): Mind-bending, with echoes of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, but darker in tone, Slade House manages to keep an original touch… An eclectic mix of the modern and the gothic gives birth to this devilish Halloween fairy tale for adults.

Muse by Jonathan Galassi (♦♦♦♦): Absorbing, amusing at times, addictive, and erudite (I had to consult the dictionary every two seconds), Muse is an insider's look at the publishing world, taking place in a fictional publishing house, probably not all that different than real ones in the business.

Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen (♦♦♦♦): captured my imagination as much for the modern (medical) mystery as for the parallel account of the violinist before and during the war. Most books treating this topic go on at length, so it is remarkable that Gerritsen managed to write such a powerful story in under 300 pages. I cared about all the characters and their fates.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova (♦♦♦♦): is as much a medical tale… as it is about…how devastating the diagnosis of an incurable, fatal disease is for patients and their families…I had to take breaks from reading every once in a while because the story is overwhelmingly heartbreaking and I became emotional several times while I read.

Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas (♦♦♦♦): is a provocative reading on many fronts; it speaks openly about race and discrimination as Dr. Omalu has experienced them. It denounces front and center the manipulations of the NFL to keep Congress, the public, and particularly active and former football players from finding out the brain damaging effects that derive from playing football on a regular basis. It speaks of how scientific research may be corrupted when is sponsored by organizations related to the field of inquiry.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Project Nim (♦♦♦♦)

I have had pets of different kinds throughout my life, and I'm very good with animals. In fact, as years have gone by I've grown more comfortable among animals than humans. Animals don't judge; they take you at face value, and I have seen animal behavior that cannot be described any other way than human. For that reason I think that animals have to be treated with empathy and consideration. Though I'm not an animal rights activist and I believe sometimes their rights are taking to the extreme, I feel heartbroken when I see animals suffering or being killed in human hands or care.

The reason for the diatribe above is the HBO documentary Project Nim, about a baby chimpanzee named Nim, who was raised as a human child with a family in New York, all in the name of science. The objective of the project was to find out the effects human interaction had on a developing chimpanzee, and if it could communicate with his human charges using sign language. As years went by and Nim grew stronger, it became a liability for the research scientist in charge of the project, setting in motion a chain of events that adversely impacted the rest of Nim's life.

Documentaries weren't my thing until I watched Blackfish and I was hooked. Blackfish explored the life of the orca whale Tillikum and the ethics and consequences of capturing animals for entertainment. As its environment negatively affected Tillikum, so did human interaction to Nim.

I find something very wrong with injecting diseases to animals as part of the process of a drug coming to the market. If we can't take good care of them, why do we even capture them and deny them an environment that is totally conducive to their development as is living with their fellow animals? The answer eludes me.