Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Awakened by a Kiss by Lila DiPasqua


Note: The book reviewed is not suitable for persons under the age of majority.

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Three classic fairytales – “Sleeping Beauty,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Little Red Riding Hood” – cleverly retold with enough sensual twists to prove wickedly ever after does exist….

Sleeping Beau: Five years ago, the notorious rake, Adrien d’Aspe, Marquis de Beaulain, was awakened by a sensuous kiss – and experienced a night of raw ecstasy that was branded into his memory. Years later, he spots his mysterious seductress – and this time, he has no intention of letting her go…

Little Red Writing: Nicolas de Savignac, Comte de Lambelle, has been assigned by the King to uncover the secret identity of the author writing scandalous stories about powerful courtiers. He never expected his investigation would lead to his grandmother's house, or to a ravishing woman who would stir his deepest hunger…

Bewitching in Boots: Elisabeth de Roussel, daughter of the King, is accustomed to getting what she wants – and she wants Tristan de Tiersonnier, Comte de Saint-Marcel, an ex-commander of the King’s private Guard. A recent injury has forced Tristan to leave his distinguished position, but Elisabeth is determined to make him see he's every bit the man he once was – and more than man enough for her..

MY OPINION:

Awakened by a Kiss is a collection of three novellas loosely based on classic fairy-tales. The stories are set in France during the reign of Louis XIV and faintly depict the glamour and the intrigues of his court.

The connection of the stories to the corresponding fairy-tales is VERY loose. The main characters and an echo of the fairy-tale plot can be recognised, but no more than that. All three novellas are focused on sex, therefore the plot and characterization are all but non-existent and serve only as a background.

The plots and characters' depictions are rushed in order to make place for erotic scenes. Now, I enjoy erotica when it comes in package with a compelling plot, possibly some suspense, and well-developed characters, which is not the case in these stories. The stories in Awakened by a Kiss have interesting premises, but their potential remains largely unrealised.

Of the three stories, the third one, Bewitching in Boots, is the one I enjoyed the most. Even though everything said above holds true for this one, too, I liked that Elisabeth actually helped Tristan go through some difficulties.

Finally, I think these three novellas would be much better if expanded into full-length novels, thus allowing for plot and character development. Anyway, Awakened by a Kiss is an easy read for when you just want your brain to rest for a while.

RECOMMENDATION: Awakened by a Kiss is readable if you want just a light adult read. However, if you are looking for erotica with a memorable story and the characters you fall in love with, this is not it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

One for the Money (2012)


One for the moneyDIRECTOR: Julie Anne Robinson; CAST: Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara, Daniel Sunjata

SUMMARY (from IMDB): Unemployed and newly-divorced Stephanie Plum lands a job at her cousin's bail-bond business, where her first assignment puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past.

MY OPINION:

I will not even pretend that watched One for the Money for any other reason than Jason O'Mara. Well, mostly.

The story is pretty clichéd: a girl wants to get back to a guy, but finds out that he is innocent of what he is being accused of, so she helps him out while still getting some revenge, and they make up in the end.

There are some foggy moments, but on the whole the plot is nicely rounded up. As expected, the bad guys are defeated, however the story is not completely predictable, as the main villain is quite a surprise.

The film is just as funny as it should be for a comedy, and did I mention the main cast is very easy on the eye? Also, I loved Stephanie's grandma, she is amazing.

All in all, One for the Money is a nice film to watch after a stressful day.

RECOMMENDATION: One for the Money offers some light entertainment to relax with.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals After Dark #7) by Kresley Cole


Note: The book reviewed is not suitable for persons under the age of majority.

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): From New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole comes this spellbinding story of a demon king trapped by an enchantress for her wanton purposes -- and the scorching aftermath that follows when he turns the tables and claims her as his captive.

HIS OBSESSION...
Sabine, Sorceress of Illusions: the evil beauty who surrenders her body, but not her heart.

HER DOWNFALL...
Rydstrom Woede: the ruthless warrior who vows to keep her at all costs.

THEY WERE NEVER SUPPOSED TO WANT EACH OTHER THIS MUCH...
With each smoldering encounter, their shared hunger only increases. If they can defeat the sinister enemy that stands between them, will Sabine make the ultimate sacrifice for her demon? Or will the proud king lay down his crown and arms to save his sorceress?

MY OPINION:

Kiss of a Demon King was actually the book that first directed my attention to Immortals After Dark series quite a few years ago. So, basically, blame my love for IAD on this book. It took me some time to decide to try the series and then to get to this book, but it was all worth it.

Kiss of a Demon King definitely lived up to my expectations. It cleared up some issues left open in the preceding books, and finally provided a lot of information on rage demons and their kingdom.

Sabine's and Ryndstrom's story is very complicated due to their history. Sabine finds it difficult to trust anyone because of her troubled past. Ryndostrom is the first person ever who wants to protect her, so it takes time for her to accept that.

Ryndstrom is a very honest and upstanding man. He isn't without mistakes, but he always tries to right the wrongs once he becomes aware of them.

The relationship between Sabine and Ryndstrom is full of lies and deceit, which I am not a fan of, but their thinking and actions are well-reasoned and fit their characters.

Naturally, everything is clarified by the end. As usually with this series, the final solution(s) caught me by surprise, although I should have already expected that from Kresley Cole. The ending is perfect, though, because it totally goes with the rest of the story and the characters.

RECOMMENDATION: Kiss of a Demon King is another exciting story from IAD series which is not to be missed by fans of paranormal romance.

On a side note: I usually don't like promotion within a book, but Kresley Cole's (un)subtle mention of Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series somewhere in the middle of the book is incorporated in the story so well it made me smile. Watch and learn, advertisers. Oh, and that is another series I have check out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top Ten Favourite Books I've Read During The Lifespan Of My Blog


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

I started blogging in July 2010. Here are my favourite books I've read since then (in random order, linked to my reviews):

  1. Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
  2. Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon
  3. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  4. Labyrinth (Languedoc Trilogy #1) by Kate Mosse
    Sepulchre (Languedoc Trilogy #2) by Kate Mosse
    The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
  5. The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #2) by Anne Rice
    The Queen of the Damned (The Vampire Chronicles #3) by Anne Rice
  6. The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott
  7. Random Magic by Sasha Soren
  8. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
  9. Shadow Souls (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #2) by L. J. Smith
  10. Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James
  11. No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark #3) by Kresley Cole
    Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark #5) by Kresley Cole

I know, that's more than ten books, but I really can't choose between neither Kate Mosse's, Cole's, or Rice's books.

I would like to point out that I distinguish between my favourite books and the best books I've read. I love both my favourite books and those I consider the best I've read. Although the two kinds mostly coincide, there are some exceptional books I've read which I cannot, in spite of their quality and greatness, consider my favourite books due to either the themes they deal with or other elements, take for instance Fatherland by Robert Harris or Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.

What are your favourite books you've read since you've started blogging? Do you share any of mine?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga #1) by Colleen Houck


SUMMARY (from Goodreads):  The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she'd be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.

But that's exactly what happened.

Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

MY OPINION:

Tiger's Curse has an intriguing premise, but the execution is mostly not to my liking.

What I liked:

  • the premise of breaking the tiger's curse
  • the adventure
  • the exotic setting: the jungle, India – well described
  • Ren: upstanding, gentle, loyal
  • Kelsey, in the beginning, when she seems brave and smart

What I disliked:

  • telling instead of showing, especially because of feelings, too, are mostly told not shown
  • everything playing out so quickly and easily: Kelsey's and Ren's adventures require a lot of effort and involve plenty of danger, yet everything works out smoothly, there is always a convenient solution to a problem at hand, they seem to  overcome any danger or hardship effortlessly
  • in relation to the previous two points: the discrepancy between what Houck shows and tells us: for example she tells us Kelsey feels scared and tired, or that she is hurt and beside herself, and yet she doesn't act like it – she just keeps going as if everything was a piece of cake
  • the ease with which Kelsey accepts everything she learns – I think an average person would have much more trouble believing and dealing with all the strange, irrational things she finds out and experiences
  • Kelsey: I liked her in the beginning, but then she became really annoying as she started showing or rather telling how low self esteem she has (do all these YA heroines have to have be self-deprecating?)
  • consequently, the teenage thinking/drama: Kelsey's reasoning is rather immature for an 18-year-old at several spots, and her creating imaginary obstacles between herself and Ren made me want to scream at her
  • the amount of thinking Kelsey does during a kiss: pages, literally. How can she think so much while kissing?

Overall, what kept me reading Tiger's Curse was wanting to know what happens to Ren and the curse. I am interested in finding out the final outcome (although I can probably predict it), but I am not particularly eager to read the sequel. I might if I happen to come across it.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like YA adventure set in exotic places, and don't mind teenage romance angst, you might enjoy Tiger's Curse.

Have you read Tiger's Curse? How did you feel about it? Perhaps I'm just too old for YA and silly angst to really enjoy this book.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Virtual Travels

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

As a part of Bout of Books 5.0, Virtual Travels is a challenge hosted by Ex Libris.

The Challenge:
Choose a book and find a picture to match the setting you envision for the novel.


 

 

Today I finished Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck.

 

 

 

jungle

 


The major part of it is set in the jungle.

Source: picture taken from here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Spine Haiku

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

As a part of Bout of Books 5.0, Bookgoonie hosts Books Spine poetry challenge, with a nice twist: it has to be a haiku.

This is what I've come up with:

DSC00660

Blood of My Brother,
Forbidden, Phantom Eclipse
– A Trick of the Dark.

Today I am up for dark and mysterious stuff, what can I say. :)

UPDATE: I remembered another one, a bit more romantic, and since this is so much fun, I un-triple-stacked my top bookshelf to take a picture:

DSC00665

The Wolf and the Dove –
Kindred Hearts, Nightfall Moonsong,
Deep Kiss of Winter

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Book for Every Season

a-book-for-every-season-01

As a part of Bout of Books 5.0, Kristilyn at Reading in Winter hosts A Book for Every Season challenge:

Name the perfect book for each season of the year! The book can either have the name of the season in the title, or — and this is the preferred way! — the book can take place in that specific season.

Feel free to jazz it up however you like, by including pictures of the book to go with the name. The entry form will have space for you to submit your entry on the form, or via a link to your blog.

159582

 


Spring:
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rowlings – The main character Jody is coming of age, the most important parts of the novel are set in spring, and the Slovene translation of the title is 'In the spring of life'.

1123320

 

 

Summer: Eucalyptus by Murray Bail – Australia, heat, and eucalyptus trees – it doesn't get more summer-like than that.

15350

 


Fall:
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien – A large part of the novel goes on in fall, alongside some crucial events.

 

6450212

 

 

Winter: The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse – Winter is in the title and it is also set in winter.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bout of Books 5.0 Goals & Updates

Bout of Books Read-a-ThonThe Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 19th in whatever time zone you are in.  Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week.  There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 5.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books 5.0 team

MY GOALS:

  1. to read/finish the following three books (about 1200 pages total):
    • Dracula by Bram Stoker – because I borrowed it from a friend and I've been reading it for far too long (read 155 pages before Bout of Books )
    • Second Glance by Jodi Picoult – because it is also borrowed from a friend and although she is okay with me having it as long as I want I'm annoyed with myself for having it for so long.
    • Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck – because it's due at the library on August 20. (DONE)

      Of course, I might decide to be bad, change my mind and read something else. Because my reading depends on my mood.
  2. to participate in at least one Twitter chat – Monday or Saturday (because the one on Wednesday is in the middle of the night for me). (DONE)
  3. to participate in some challenges (DONE)
  4. to try to visit as many blogs as I can and make new blogging friends (DONE)
  5. and, most of all, have fun (DONE)

UPDATES:

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

August 13:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Dracula (51), Deep Kiss of Winter (169)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 220
Total number of pages I’ve read: 220
Today #insixwords: A great start of this readathon.

As you can see I already changed my mind and picked up a book which isn't on the initial list. I participated in Twitter chat, which was fun, although a bit dizzying because it was going so fast. I met some great new book bloggers, and 'old' ones, too, so that was amazing. I also did the Passing Books challenge hosted by Reading in Texas and The Space Between, but I was lazy, so I just filled the form that was provided rather than making a separate blog post. Oh, and I visited some blogs, too. All in all, a fun readathon day.

August 14:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Deep Kiss of Winter (78)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 78
Total number of pages I’ve read: 298
Today #insixwords: Not bad for a busy day.

I had a lot of work-related things to do in the morning, and then I had to run some errands and do the grocery shopping, so I was pretty tired, especially because it's very hot here. Also, my cousins stopped by, which was great because they don't come often, I usually visit them, and we had some fun time, but I was exhausted afterwards. Considering it all, I read a lot. I visited some blogs, too, and commented, but I didn't do any challenges. I'm quite happy with the day in general, though.

August 15:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Deep Kiss of Winter (53)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 53
Total number of pages I’ve read: 351
Today #insixwords: A weird, half-busy and half-lazy day.

We had a national public and church holiday, The Assumption, one of my favourites, so it was quite nice. I went to church, but then I worked awhile, because without a job I use every opportunity I get to work. Then I was mostly free, I hopped around the blogosphere a little and did Book Word Search challenge hosted by The Musings of ALMYBNENR. It was fun, although I had to take a couple of breaks and come back with fresh eyes to find all the short words, hehe. I read less than I could have, because I procrastinated, but hey, that's what holidays are for.

August 16:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Tiger's Curse (158)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 158
Total number of pages I’ve read: 509
Today #insixwords: I spent too much time online.

I started Tiger's Curse, because this is the book I really need to finish this week. It's been a fast and enjoyable read so far. I completed two challenges: A Book for Every Season hosted by Reading in Winter and Candy Challenge hosted by BookSmartie. I spent a lot of time on line, visiting quite a lot of blogs and commenting on them. So, there went my reading time. Much better than Tuesday and Wednesday, though.

August 17:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Tiger's Curse (120)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 120
Total number of pages I’ve read: 629
Today #insixwords: Where did all the time go?

I blame the Internet for eating my time again, haha. The day was gone so quickly, though I wasn't doing anything special. Besides the usual things, I read (a little), and blog hopped. I loved Book Spine Haiku challenge hosted by bookgoonie, which I completed.

August 18:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Tiger's Curse (186)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 186
Total number of pages I’ve read: 815
Today #insixwords: Relaxed day, did lots of readathon things.

All right, over 800 pages doesn't seem so bad, does it? So, I finished Tiger's Curse (you're welcome to read my review). I did some commenting. And I completed Virtual Travels challenge hosted by Ex Libris. I also participated in Twitter chat. It was great, I found it more easy to follow than on Monday and I actually had some conversations with people.

August 19:

The books I’ve been reading today (and the number of pages): Deep Kiss of Winter (86)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 86
Total number of pages I’ve read: 901
Today #insixwords: I took the last day easy.

My enthusiasm waned a little, so I didn't do neither as much blog hoping as in the previous days nor any challenges. I didn't have a particularly good day, so I did some other things to distract myself from worrying. I read quite a lot considering my general state of mind, though.

WRAP-UP:

Total number of books read: 1 and partly two others
Total number of pages read: 901

Fro me personally, Bout of Books 5.0 was one of the more successful readathons. I was more organized than usually, and I socialized a lot on line through commenting and Twitter chats, which was great. I had set my reading goals pretty high to motivate myself and it worked. Although I didn't exactly reach them, I am happy with how much I read – more than twice as much as I usually read in a week, so hooray! Also, I really enjoyed the challenges I completed.

Overall, Bout of Books was a great motivation for me, and I had lots of fun during the week.

Thanks so much to Amanda and Kelly for organizing everything so well and running it so smoothly! You are awesome!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Paris in the Twentieth Century by Jules Verne


SUMMARY (from Goodreads):  This newly rediscovered novel, written by Jules Verne in 1863, is set in Paris in 1960. Money and technology have taken over society and the narrator, a young poet, is forced to work in a bank. Verne's vision of our mechanized time is prescient: there are fax machines, automobiles, computers, subways, and electronic musical instruments. Illustrations.

MY OPINION:

Paris in the Twentieth Century is a relatively short novel, published posthumously, having been rejected by the Verne's publisher during his lifetime. It is basically a science-fiction work, presenting Verne's vision of the world and, in particularly, France, in the twentieth century as he imagined it at the time of writing, in the 1860s.

The novel is set approximately a century later, in 1960. Its main protagonist Michel is a young poet born at the wrong time. The story of his struggle in the world he ultimately cannot survive in is tragicomic.

Verne's image of the twentieth century is on one hand horribly bleak. He describes an emotionless world where everything is subjected to industry, work, and money-making. This materialistic, mechanical world values only technical and financial achievements. Science is praised above all, and everything is evaluated from the aspects of usefulness and practicality.

In such a world, there is no place for anything remotely emotional. Art is all but abolished, and what is left of it is terribly deformed, adopted in a twisted way to suit the industrialised world. Artists in the 'old' meaning of the word are despised, their art unwanted. The art of the past and its famous creators, from writers and poets to painters and musicians, are pushed in the background, forgotten.

On the other hand, Verne's ideas are amazingly fantastic. We can still only dream about some technical achievements he envisioned. For example: a perfectly ecological, fast, and virtually soundless transport – high-speed light trains on elevated tracks, running on a combination of compressed air and magnetic force. Or, very prophetic, although we are still not quite there, hydrogen-powered cars.

Verne is extremely pessimistic and cynical about the future he imagines. Through his presentation of the future, however, we can also see his mocking of industrialisation. Therefore, Paris in the Twentieth Century is partly a satire of the world in Verne's time, shown through his sarcastic and at times paradoxical writing in which he often exaggerates.

Paris in the Twentieth Century is a relatively short and fast read. The only setback for me was getting lost a couple of times amidst all the names of people and places.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like the kind of science-fiction predicting the future which is really already the past, you should not overlook this book.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Book Nook #25



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


Commentary: I like the antique feeling the furniture evokes and bright colours. The whole room looks very fluffy and seems like a pleasant place. 

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

Friday, August 03, 2012

Magic Mike (2012)


MagicmikeDIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh ; CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Munn, Matt Bomer

SUMMARY (from IMDB): Mike (Tatum), an experienced stripper, takes a younger performer called The Kid (Pettyfer) under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money.

MY OPINION:

Magic Mike is so over-hyped I felt let down after seeing it. Its basic purpose is for the guys to show as much nudity as they can in a PG-13 rated film. While I have no problem with this movie mainly being about objectifying men (they are, after all, doing the same where women are concerned all the time), but the trailer had been promising more than that and more than the film actually delivers. 

The story is very superficial, which was another disappointment. I think there could be more to say about some of the characters, especially Mike, Adam/the Kid, and his sister Brooke.

There was a hint at a romance between Mike and Brooke. Based on the trailers, I had expected more focus on their relationship and Brooke's dealing with Mike's job, but that aspect was only faintly pointed at.

By the end, I began to hate two characters – Dallas and the Kid – who are both world class jerks. The Kid's behaviour is understandable to some extent – after all he is just a kid, a lazy, irresponsible teenager who does not know what to do with himself. I loathed Dallas (McConaughey) for being a selfish arrogant egoistic [insert your word of choice] who breaks his word to people/his friends.

I admit I mostly went to see Magic Mike because of Matt Bomer, although he has only a minor role. He mostly stands in the background and looks good. I think this film was a waste of talent for him and McConaughey. Also, I am a little shocked that a director like Soderbergh made a film like this one – I would expect something different from him.

On the whole, the film is entertaining. It has some funny moments, and there is plenty of eye-candy to enjoy.

RECOMMENDATION: Magic Mike is a watchable movie for some light entertainment when you have some time to kill in this hot summer. Just don't expect too much from it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum


SUMMARY (from Goodreads): A book to raise the spirits and warm the heart. Includes the famous Kindergarten essay that was read on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

MY OPINION:

This is a collection of short stories and essays. The author shares his contemplations about a wide range of life-issues, often sharing his personal experience.

The book is sometimes funny, sometimes touching, but always thought-provoking. I disagreed with some views expressed in it, but mostly found a lot of relatable material in Fulghum's writing. The individual stories/essays are very interesting, the writing is transparent and easily approachable, and the book is generally a fast read.

Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is probably best to be read as a meditation aid – one story a day, which you can think about in depth. However, I read a library copy which was due back shortly, so I read it in two sittings. I might have taken more from it had I read it more slowly, but  I liked it in spite od the rush.

RECOMMENDATION: If you are looking for something inspiring to make you think Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten could be a good choice.

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