Snapshots - #39: Coco, Pitch Perfect 3, Star Wars: Episodes VII and VIII

Coco (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Miguel, a young aspiring singer, is afraid to defy his family's forsaking of music. On the Día de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday to celebrate the dead, Miguel is, unwillingly, granted night passage to the Land of the Dead, where he meets his ancestors and gets valuable life lessons.

This Disney/Pixar production has great animation and music, is colorful, fun, has endearing characters (both living and dead). Coco also has meaningful lessons about the value of traditions, the importance of family, loyalty, and honoring one's ancestors, all in a very entertaining package. Don't let the fact that it is an animated movie deter you from enjoying this gem. Coco is a great story to ponder for kids and adults alike.

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017), (♦♦♦♦): The members of the a cappella singing sensation ‘The Bellas’ have graduated from college and are realizing that they suck big time at real life. They miss the singing, the mischief, and the camaraderie. The father of on…

Rasputin’s Daughter by Robert Alexander (♦♦♦♦♦)

I finally finished Rasputin's Daughter. Wow! What a book! The author does a great job at portraying Rasputin in all his human complexities. It's an eye opening look into the life and death of one of Russia's most vilified historical figures. My only regret is having taking years to actually finish the book.

The story begins with the capture and taking into custody of Maria Grigorievna Rasputina, Rasputin’s older daughter, by the Thirteenth Section, the committee in charge of interviewing witnesses of the events that led to Rasputin’s death. The book is divided in sections, though not stated so, and in the introduction of each section there is a narrative about a character that takes part in the assassination, but whose identity is not revealed until the final pages.

Telling the story from a daughter standpoint, Maria manages to portray him as both, a man and a larger than life figure. Rasputin, a monk from Siberia, deeply spiritual and gifted in the arts of healing and of foretelling the future, form an unshakable bond with Nikolai II and Aleksandra, Tsar and Tsaritsa of Russia, due in part to a heavily guarded state secret: Aleksei, the heir to the throne, is sick with hemophilia, and no one but Rasputin has been able to heal him once and again when his life has been in danger. Thus begins a friendship, polluted with gossip of marital betrayal and speculation of treason, amidst Russia’s war with Germany, which grants Rasputin access to unimaginable power. Ultimately, young members of Russia’s royal families conceive a plot to eliminate Rasputin and rid the country from his so-called evil influence; what they accomplish instead is the stuff of legends.