Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares


SUMMARY
(from Goodreads): Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. For all the times that he and Sophia have been connected throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart.

But just when Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally awakens to the secret of their shared past, the mysterious force that has always separated them reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together. 

MY OPINION:

What I liked:

  • the reincarnation premise
  • Ben, especially in the contrast between Ben's and Daniel's attitude to remembering past lives,
  • all the historical things as seen by Daniel, his story is amazing
  • a credible course of events, especially in terms of the characters' development, such as Lucy's reasoning and reactions
  • good writing, which manages to held the readers' attention and enables smooth and fast reading

I did not find anything that I would dislike in My Name is Memory. The story is narrated from three different POV-s: Lucy's present, Daniel's present, and Daniel's past. This was confusing at the beginning but very helpful later on, because the three POV-s complement one another perfectly.

In the end, there are some things I would like to see clarified, such as Joaquim's tricks and Daniel's plan to deal with him, and also something in Daniel's and Lucy's relationship. I am not sure if I want a sequel because My Name is Memory is really good just the way it is. On the other hand, it would be nice to learn about the above mentioned things, so if Brashares writes a sequel, I will definitely read it.

RECOMMENDATION: My Name Is Memory is a captivating love story, with a pinch of mysticism. I would not recommend it to very young teenagers, though, due to some specific references to sex.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #17

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


MY TEASERS:

 


"For a second he stood in the doorway, hand poised on the handle in case he needed to duck behind the door. The grin faded from his face."

A Trick of the Dark by B. R. Collins, p. 119

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cat Diary (19): Laughter


This is an occasional Sunday feature where my cat, pardon, Her Majesty the Cat, offers her more or less gracious insight into my (and her) life.


There is a saying: "A good laugh is the best medicine, whether you are sick or not." So, as Pepca is having a cold, I think she needs a good dose of this medicine. Nothing can cheer Pepca up like a funny kitty picture, such as these (source):funny-cat-pictures-yikesfunny-cat-pictures-classic-lolcat15

funny-cat-pictures-i-should-probably-move1
funny-cat-pictures-untitled2
I'll tell you a secret: we cats prefer you humans to be happy, you are much easier to deal with than when you are not. So, I hope you had a good laugh at the expense of us kitties.
Which lolcat picture made you laugh the most?
Stay smiling!
Till next time,



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Splash into Summer Giveaway


Splash into Summer Hop
May 25-May 31, 2012

Welcome to the Beyond Strange New Words stop on the Splash into Summer
Giveaway Hop!

We're offering a nice book to win, which could be a perfect summer read.
About: On the brink of ruin, three very different women discover redemption where they least expect to find it…at Ten Beach Road. Madeline, Avery and Nikki are strangers to one another, but they have one thing in common. They each wake up one morning to discover that their life savings have vanished, along with their trusted financial manager, leaving them with nothing but co-ownership of a ramshackle beachfront house.
No one is going to save them but themselves. Determined to fight back, they throw their lots in together and team up to take on the challenge of restoring the historic beach house to its former glory. But just as they begin to reinvent themselves and discover the power of friendship, their secrets threaten to tear down their trust and destroy their lives a second time…

Shown above: Video interview with the author of this book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
HOW TO ENTER:

1a. WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER 
for Random Magic, by Sasha Soren: CLICK TO WATCH

1b. SHARE FEEDBACK

Then, on the same YouTube page, leave your comment on your favourite part of the Random Magic book trailer, or something in the trailer which surprised you or made you smile.
Examples:
-
 I was most interested in finding out more about a nine-dimensional cat.

- I'm really curious about the ‘obnoxiously cheerful’ vampires, that’d be a change from most vampire stories.
- I thought the idea of being able to jump into a story was really appealing, and wish I could do it, too.

2. SIMPLY CUT AND PASTE YOUR COMMENT 

Just cut and paste your comment from the YouTube page into the comments section below, at this blog post.

3. TELL US!
When you’re done, just mark off the two simple tasks in the Rafflecopter box above, and you’ll be fully credited with two points.

BONUS:
You do have the option to pick up a third point by either tweeting a link to this post, or pinning a mention and link of this post on Pinterest, whichever you prefer. The link must be clickable, to make it easy for people to visit this post.

BONUS:
(Another easy credit) Watch this mellow review of Random Magic: CLICK TO WATCH
Then just leave your comment under the video, replying to something the vlogger said (story, writing style, characters, etc.) that sounded interesting to you. Cut-paste your YouTube comment into the blog comments section below and check off that option in the Rafflecopter. Done!

OTHER STUFF:
Please leave your name or nickname and email address, so that you can be contacted if you win. A winner will be picked at random, unless someone leaves a comment so witty, fun-loving and hilarious that it makes us laugh out loud - then that person justifiably has to win, and fair play to all.

Please note:
In the interests of impartiality, you’re not required to write a compliment on the YouTube page, just to give your neutral take on which part of the book trailer stood out the most to you, personally. Of course, if you really liked the trailer, you're free to write more, if you like. If you don't enjoy the book trailer, it's perfectly fine if you choose not to enter to win.
On the other hand, if you got a kick out of the book trailer and genuinely liked it, feel free to show your support by giving it a thumbs up or a like, also, if you want to - that's not a requirement to enter and not taken into account for the entry, but it would be appreciated, and thanks!

***** Thanks for visiting, have fun and good luck. ******



***** If you’re a book blogger or vlogger who’s interested in requesting a review copy of Random Magic ******

If you're a book blogger or vlogger who posts regularly and you’d love to review Random Magic, feel free to send a note via Twitter.
Kindly note that this is an indie book, and if there's a 'no indies' review policy in effect at your blog or video channel, we’ll be unable to fulfill your request for a review copy of this title. Review requests received from bloggers or vloggers who specifically have indie-friendly policies in effect will automatically receive first priority status.

***** If you're just interested in knowing more about Random Magic here are some quick links to browse. ******

Print | Kindle | You Tube | Twitter | Pinterest

***** If you're considering buying a copy of Random Magic for yourself, or as a surprise gift for someone cool, and you just want a chance to check it out a little beforehand, here’s a quick sampling of reviews. Please feel free to browse. ******

Review | Review | Review | Review | Review | Review | Review

***** You might also enjoy... ******


Browse some beautiful reading spots, or, if you feel inspired, feel free to join in with your own picks. This is a collective meme, so anyone can join in at any time, just jump in. Please read through the how-to, as it will help you organize a template post you can refresh each week, making it easy on you to
join in. New picks go up each weekend.
I’d like to see what people picked: Browse
I’d love to join in with my own picks: How-to

To see all the stops listed for the Splash into Summer hop: View full schedule.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #16



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


MY TEASERS:

 

"She could not make herself see in front of her. The room spun so violently she closed her eyes and he was there, too, behind her eyes, as though from her memory."

My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares, p. 24

Monday, May 21, 2012

I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan


SUMMARY
(from Goodreads): The Prince of Darkness has been given one last shot at redemption, provided he can live out a reasonably blameless life on earth. Highly sceptical, naturally, the Old Dealmaker negotiates a trial period - a summer holiday in a human body, with all the delights of the flesh.

The body, however, turns out to be that of Declan Gunn, a depressed writer living in Clerkenwell, interrupted in his bath mid-suicide. Ever the opportunist, and with his main scheme bubbling in the background, Luce takes the chance to tap out a few thoughts - to straighten the biblical record, to celebrate his favourite achievements, to let us know just what it's like being him.

Neither living nor explaining turns out to be as easy as it looks. Beset by distractions, miscalculations and all the natural shocks that flesh is heir to, the Father of Lies slowly begins to learn what it's like being us.

MY OPINION:

Glen Duncan definitely deserves credit for having the courage to approach such a controversial topic as telling the Lucifer's side of story. However, the story he tells is a story no man can actually tell, therefore, it comes out nothing if predictable. Nevertheless, Duncan's attempt at it is a good one.

It is clear that Duncan did his research for I, Lucifer, which heavily relies on The Bible. Hence, Duncan's version of Lucifer's tale can be logically deduced from the Christian tradition. From the Fall to the seduction of Eve and the Crucifixion, Lucifer's version of events makes perfect sense in relation to what had already been written about numerous times. An interesting part to me was the similarity of Duncan's re-telling of the Lucifer's Fall to Tolkien's version of creation in The Silmarillion.

The writing style is accommodated to suit the presumed Lucifer's personality: nonchalant, sarcastic, and haughty. However, the initially intriguing trying-to-be-smart wording and snarky remarks eventually get old and tiresome. Also,  constant digressions get in the way of smooth reading a lot.

All in all, I, Lucifer is nothing new or surprising content-wise. Actually, there is not much of the story, as the emphasis is on the telling itself. This, combined with oh-I'm-so-smart-and-snarky style, makes the book boring in places.

RECOMMENDATION: I do not really know whom to recommend this book to. I presume the various Christian churches would call it blasphemous, although its content is basically in concordance with the Bible. You might be interested in I, Lucifer if you want to read something which would make you think about the nature of humankind, religion, and the concepts of good and evil.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book Nook #17



Book Nooks
*Every weekend*
Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Show us something pretty!


Commentary: I love this porch. It provides a shelter from heat or rain, and at the same there is nature all around. The furniture looks comfortable, and there is enough place for a few books and a snack. I want to have something like this when I "grow up." :)

Details: Location and artist unknown, not given in the original post. 
Source

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 Mini-Challenge 5: Books and Shoes



Jacinda from The Reading Housewives of Indiana hosts Books and Shoes mini-challenge: the aim is to match a character or a book cover to shoes.

books and shoes


I think these shoes would go well with the dress. Plus, Caitlin from Sire by Thomas Galvin would totally rock wearing them.


Winnie from Random Magic by Sasha Soren would love such colourful sneakers: they are pretty, and very useful for running, jumping, climbing, etc.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 Mini-Challenge 2: Book Confessions


Nyx Book Reviews hosts today's Bout of Books mini-challenge.


I like questionnaires, so I opted for part II. Also, I just can't think of any bookish stories right now.

So, here it goes:

Physical book or eBook? Physical book. I don't even own an e-reader.

Paperback or Hardcover? Paperback – they are more easy to hold.

Reality or Make-believe? Make-believe.

Adult or Young-Adult? Adult, though YA is growing on me.

Dog ears or Bookmarks? BOOKMARKS!

Breaking the spine or Barely open the book? Breaking the spine.

Tea or Coffee? Tea.

Reading in bed or On the couch? In bed.

Series or Standalone? I feel obligated to say series, because standalones are hard to come by these days. in any case it doesn't matter as long as I enjoy the plot and characters.

Original or TV Adaptation? Original.

Defy motion sickness or Audiobooks? I don't know, I haven't listened to an audiobook yet.  

Author crushes or Who-was-that-guy-again? Who-was-that-guy-again?

Interview or Guest post? Interview. But it really depends on the topic.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 Goals & Updates



It 's time for Bout of Books 4.0 readathon hosted by Amanda from May 14 – 20.

My Goals:

As per usual, I will try to do my average amount of reading and read at least an a hour day or 50-100 pages a day. Although, I hope I'll manage to read more than that. Nevertheless, 500 pages is my minimum goal for the week.
I will try to visit other participant a little and maybe participate in a challenge or two, depending on how much time I have.

The books to choose from:

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3) by E. L. James  - I have already started this one (on p. 262), so I'll  finish it and then continue with one or more of the following:

I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan
My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares
A Trick of the Dark by B. R. Collins
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
The Collector by John Fowles

UPDATES (The format is adapted from Amanda's.) I’ll also update on Twitter @StrangeNewWords, and you can find me on Goodreads:

May 14:


The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Fifty Shades Freed (182)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 182
Total number of pages I’ve read: 182
Today #insixwords: I am happy with my progress.

May 15:


The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Fifty Shades Freed (116)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 116
Total number of pages I’ve read: 298
Today #insixwords: I was hoping to read more.

May 16:


The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Fifty Shades Freed (19), I, Lucifer (27)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 46
Total number of pages I’ve read: 344
Today #insixwords: Too many distractions and time online.

May 17
:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): I, Lucifer (23)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 23
Total number of pages I’ve read: 367
Today #insixwords: Today has just flown by me.

May 18
:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): I, Lucifer (50)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 50
Total number of pages I’ve read: 417
Today #insixwords: Morning reading was a good idea.

May 19
:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): /
Number of pages I’ve read today: 0
Total number of pages I’ve read: 417
Today #insixwords: Total reading disaster – wasn't at home.

May 20
:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): I, Lucifer (162)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 162
Total number of pages I’ve read: 579
Today #insixwords: Cheering helped me reach my goals.

WRAP-UP:


Books read: 1 and 2/3: I, Lucifer and Fifty Shades Freed (click the link to see my reviews of the books)
Pages read: 579

Bout of Books is always a great motivation to do some reading. I set a low goal, but I was secretly hoping to get perhaps twice as much reading done. However, something happened on Tuesday which ruined my reading plans for the week. Still, I have managed not only to reach but even surpass my initial goal – extra cheering by my fellow Bout of Books participants on Sunday helped a lot. So, thanks!

I didn't make it one of my goals, but I did want to participate in one or two Twitter chats, but then things got in the way. I could actually make the Sunday one, but the I started reading and forgot about it – I wasn't happy with myself. I made a mental note for the next Bout of Books to make a Twitter chat participation a goal and pay more attention to the schedule.

I participated in a few (I think three) mini-challenges. Those were all fun, I enjoyed them all, especially the Books and Shoes mini-challenge.

All in all, Bout of Books 4.0 was a fun experience, I caught up on some reading, I definitely read more than I would have otherwise, so that was great. I need to improve my socializing, though, on the next Bout of Books. And, by the way, I cannot wait for the next one!

Thanks to the organisers and mini-challenges hosts for your hard work and for making this such a great experience!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Nook #16



Book Nooks
*Every weekend*
Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Show us something pretty!



Commentary: A nice place for hot days. It seems like it's in the middle of a forest, surrounded by nature, so you can enjoy in fresh air. At the same time, the chairs look soft and comfortable for a longer period of reading. 

Details: Location and artist unknown, not given in the original post. 
Source

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Avengers (2012)


DIRECTOR:
Joss Whedon; CAST: Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who's who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster.

MY OPINION:

I liked Thor (2011), so I could not wait for The Avengers and I was not disappointed.

The two hours passed very quickly. There was never a dull moment, and the course of action kept me on my toes from the beginning to the end. I loved the witty dialogues, and I laughed out loud at the banter among the characters.

The Avengers follow a typical formula for this kind of a film – bad guys invade the Earth, and after initial defeat and sorting out the differences among themselves the good guys win – hence giving us the standard lesson: united we can stand up to anyone.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film, also for its great visual effects and acting.

RECOMMENDATION: The Avengers is a funny mix of action and science fiction, a film well worth seeing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton


SUMMARY (from Goodreads): A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but mouldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancĂ© jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

MY OPINION:

It took me a month and a half to finish this book. I read other books alongside, that is true, but I only did this because I just could not make myself read more than twenty to thirty pages at a time. I actually really got into the book only for the last 200 pages (of nearly 700) or so.  

My point is: The Distant Hours is an extremely slow read. The reasons for this are mainly two. Firstly, it is too descriptive, and it pays too much attention to the things which are not significant for the story. Secondly, there is too much focus on the language. The writing is beautiful, but it is too crafty. Every sentence does not need to be the state of the art. It does not necessarily make a great book, but, as in this case, it can make a slow one.

The characters did not interest me almost until the very end. It is strange, because I have some things in common with most of the female characters – I love reading and writing, I know what it means to be responsible for your family, and I am familiar with being attached to one’s home – yet I could not connect with any of them. For the major part of the book I did not care what happens to any of them. I found them dull, too co-dependent, and incapable of fighting for their happiness.

Nevertheless, Kate Morton tells a clever story which unravels completely unpredictably. The final resolution is thoroughly surprising, and I never saw it coming.

The Distant Hours is at its core a gothic tale of madness and tragedy. It is a story about people making foolish choices, sometimes based on misunderstandings, thus demonstrating the well known saying – the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Therefore, the Blythe sisters and their friends fall victims to Raymond Blythe’s actions. 

In the end, the only character I grew to like was Juniper Blythe. Of all the characters in the book she is the most tragic and the most innocent figure. I wished her story would have turned out differently.

Overall, The Distant Hours stays close to Morton’s other books plot-wise, though not style-wise. It could be shortened by half and still tell the whole story.

RECOMMENDATION: The Distant Hours may appeal to those who enjoy good writing and gothic tragedy. If you liked other books by Kate Morton, you might also enjoy this one. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Top Ten Favourite Quotes From Books


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

 

The list of quotes that inspire me is by no means complete with these, but here I give you top ten I could come up with in random order:

  1. “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

  2. “Foolishly romantic, yeah, sure, maybe: but she'd rather have dreams of Prince Charming than the reality of Mr. Wrong.”
    Lisa Cach, Wake Unto Me

  3. “It's an awful truth that suffering can deepen us, give a greater lustre to our colours, a richer resonance to our words. That is, if it doesn't destroy us, if it doesn't burn away the optimism and the spirit, the capacity for visions, and the respect for simple yet indispensable things.”
    Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned

  4. “It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish.”
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

  5. “People think happiness will simply fall into their laps. You have to aspire to it. And sometimes you have to seize it when it’s kicking and screaming.”
    Kresley Cole, Dark Needs at Night's Edge

  6. “[...] so important to believe in a concept of goodness, even if we make it up ourselves. We don't really make it up. it's there, isn't it?"
    "Oh, yes, it's there," she said. "It's there because we put it there.”
    Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned

  7. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

  8. “You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
    C.S. Lewis

  9. “The dead leave their shadows, an echo of the space within which once they lived. They haunt us, never fading or growing older as we do. The loss we grieve is not just their futures but our own.”
    Kate Mosse, The Winter Ghosts

  10. “Evil will never find peace. It may triumph, but it will never find peace”
    L.J. Smith, The Awakening

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott


SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Ancient prophecies say that if the thirteen skulls already in existence are not reunited, the world will end on December 21, 2012. Cedric Owen, the skull’s last Keeper, died so that it might keep its secret for the next four centuries. Now Stella Cody has found it, and someone has already tried to kill her. Like Owen, she’s being hunted—but by whom?

Desperate to unravel the mystery of the crystal skull, Stella must decode Cedric Owen’s coded writings, sketches and ciphers no scholar has been able to unravel. What she discovers is astounding: a shocking secret prophecy…and the staggering puzzle of four terrifying creatures, thirteen precious stones, and what will happen if Cedric Owen’s crystal skull falls into the wrong hands. But time is against Stella. She has only days – hours – left to uncover the only secret that may yet save the world.

MY OPINION:

I absolutely loved The Crystal Skull. It pulls you in right in the beginning. It reads like, though I can only imagine, flying a fighter jet.

The Crystal Skull is a plot-driven novel. The characters reveal themselves mainly through their actions and still give the readers all they have to know about them. Likewise, the reader gets a solid impression of the settings as seen through the eyes of the characters without being given any excessive detail. 

Stella’s and Cedric’s stories unravel parallel to one another, each complementing the other. Both Stella and Cedric are faced with the same task – to keep the crystal skull from getting into the wrong hands, discover its purpose, and enable it to be fulfilled.

The Crystal Skull is a suspenseful read from cover to cover, and the ending remains a puzzle to the very end. It is an absorbing and memorable story which stays with you long after you have finished reading.

RECOMMENDATION: The Crystal Skull is a brilliant combination of the modern and the ancient, science and myth, adventure and mystery. If you like all of the above, you will love this book.

*****

As an after thought, although I enjoy reading a good end-of world-theory-based book, I am not a believer of the apocalyptic 2012 prophecies. At least, I do not believe the world will end just like that on a particular date.

However, I do believe that if we do not start treating out planet and each other differently, we are facing dark future. I think the Mayas might have been on to something in terms of our civilisation coming to an end of a some sort of a cycle and a major shift happening in the way we live.

How about you? What do you think about this topic? Do you believe any of such predictions? Do you like reading books about them? I would love to read more of this (sub)genre, so if you have heard of or read any good books of the kind, fiction or non-fiction, please, let me know in the comments. 

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