Snapshots - #38: Only the Brave, Jane, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Only the Brave (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Based on the true story of the effort it took to get a municipal crew of firefighters from Prescott, Arizona, certified as Hotshots. After battling thousands of wildfires since their inception, the Granite Mountain Hotshots answered a call to battle the Yarnell Hill fire—about 30 miles away from Prescott—along with several other crews. How they got to that point and what happened is what this movie is about.
Only the Brave is a drama with some thriller on the side, and excellent performances to boast of. It's got a dynamic pace, engaging plot, amazing shots of wildfires, fun camaraderie, and great music to underscore the action. As an audience, we care for the journey of that crew, individually and as a group, and as heartbreaking as the closing scenes are, we stand in awe at the sacrifices that firefighters and their families make every day of their lives. Only the Brave is a darn great tribute to them, and elite firefighters such as the Granite Moun…

The Lion by Nelson DeMille (♦♦♦)

It’s 2003.
John Corey, a former NYPD detective, is now retired from the force on partial disability and consulting with the FBI’s Anti-Terrorist Task Force. During a weekend with his wife Kate Mayfield, an FBI agent, in the Catskill Mountains in upstate NY, Kate is assaulted by Libyan terrorist Asad Khalil and left for dead. Later on, Corey learns that on that same weekend Khalil has managed to kill seven people, one of them a colleague on the ATTF. Khalil threatens Corey to kill him next as payback for something that happened three years ago, and so the cat-and-mouse game begins.
I liked this book, though not as much as I thought I would. The reminiscing gets tiring and the book is at least two hundred pages too long. By page 470, just when I was about to give up reading, the story came alive and the finale was a pure adrenaline rush, unfortunately by then I was so tired of nothing happening that I didn’t care how the book ended.

Three characters are better developed than the rest of the ensemble: John Corey, Asad Khalil and Boris Korsakov. John Corey, a seasoned police officer now consulting with the FBI, has a sarcastic and dark sense of humor; that’s the trait that I liked the most because the book was humorous narrated from his perspective even though the plot was deadly serious. Boris Korsakov is a cliché: a rugged former KGB assassin dwelling on past glories. In spite of that, when Corey tipped Boris on Khalil’s return, Boris provided brief glimpses of how skillful a killer he used to be and the impetuosity of his trainee. Asad Khalil is who the story is based on, and it is the character with more accomplished development. Even though the story is seldom told from his perspective, readers get to know him very well due to other characters’ recollections of the events narrated in the previous novel—despite being a sequel, this novel is a stand-alone. Aside from being a typical jihadist, Khalil is a deranged murderer trained by Boris to eliminate his targets in the most “creative” ways imaginable; furthermore, he is a master of disguise, a loner and leaves no one behind so it’s easier for him to find his targets than the other way around. That said, despite not being a steady presence throughout the story, he manages to be both memorable and scary as hell.