Friday, November 30, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)


Note: This review contains SPOILERS for Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.

bd2DIRECTOR: Bill Condon; CAST: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

SUMMARY (from IMDB): After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.

MY OPINION:

As always with book-to-movie adaptation, I was wary before seeing Breaking Dawn Part 2. It was not as bad as I had feared, though.

Let me first do away with the things I did not like. The acting of some people is not brilliant, mildly put, but I did not really expect anything outstanding, so I could live with it. The make-up department had not improved its work much (or at all, depends on an individual character's make up) from the previous Twilight films, but I expected that, too.

As far as the story goes, it is quite faithful to the books. I found Bella's extraordinary self-control underrepresented, as well as Jacob's protectiveness towards Reneesme. The fight between them when Bella finds out about Jacob's imprinting was really underdone for something that is such a huge issue for both of them. I also missed Emmet's jokes.

One thing I dislike about Twilight films is that Bella in the films is presented as much more weak and stupid than in the books. The same thing happens in Breaking Dawn Part 2 with her shield, which is pretty crappy.

Now, onto the good things. The one thing I liked the most was also the most shocking one, only once I figured it out I was so relieved that I laughed out loud. That was an amazing job from the plot point of view.

I liked the new vampires, especially Garret, Alistair, and Benjamin. Some of the regular cast did a great job, for example Billy Burke. The scene with Jacob was priceless. The Volturi were great, too: very scary and well-portrayed.

Additionally, as in all Twilight films, the music and scenery were a treat for the ears and eyes, respectively, The action scenes were stunning and really kept me on my toes.

Overall, Breaking Dawn Part 2 is a solid companion to the books, despite its flaws. If you do not expect too much, watching it can be an enjoyable experience.

3,5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Naturally, fans of The Twilight Saga will enjoy the film, even those more demanding ones like me if they squint their eyes a little.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Debutante by Thomas Galvin


SUMMARY (from Goodreads): The debutantes' ball has been a tradition at St. Rosemary's Preparatory School for the past hundred and sixty years. Held every summer, the Ball is an opportunity for the girls of St. Rosemary's to be introduced to the boys of St. Augustine's Academy for Young Men.

Brendan Clark has been in attendance each and every year. And each time he has selected a beautiful young girl, won her affections ... and fed on her blood. And then he slips away into the night, vanishing as suddenly as he arrived.

But when a ferocious vampire attacks the Governor's daughter – and leaves a pile of corpses laying at Brendan's feet – he will be forced to leave his bloodlust behind and become an angel of mercy to a girl in mortal peril.
If only she didn't look so delicious... 

MY OPINION:

Debutante is a novella, my paperback edition is just over 120 pages. I devoured it the same day I got it in the mail in one sitting. And that is a rare thing for me to do no matter how short the book is.

What I liked:

  • The dynamic plot that just doesn't let you stop reading.
  • Just the right amount of details to give you a good feel of the atmosphere and setting.
  • Vampires. I love Thomas Galvin's version of vampires. There are bad ones and good ones. And I love that the good ones aren't humanised but they keep their edge.
  • Brendan. I don't know how to describe him without giving to much away. But I liked him. A lot.
  • Charlotte or rather her development from a spoiled princess she seems to be on the first impression to…, no, I'm not telling you anything else.
  • And Mr. Galvin's distinct writing style, a bit raw (in good way), throwing in references and well-aimed sarcasms here and there.

In the end, I cannot remember anything I did not like. Debutante is a vampire story as it should be – suspenseful, adventurous, scary, gory, glamorous, and a little bit romantic, too.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like a good, short vampire read, Debutante might be just the right thing to pick up. 

5 stars

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Huge the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn


SUMMARY
(from Goodreads):  Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens. Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father's dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair.

Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough-and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.

MY OPINION:

Children and teenagers are capable of both most noble and most cruel things. This is a novel which shows their internal conflicts when they have to decide between doing one or the other.

For Nina, the whole world is her enemy. The adults, especially men, are evil. The constant fight for survival and continuous disappointment with people she encounters drain her to the extent she welcomes the inevitable death. She loses all faith in people, so it takes a lot for her to start trusting people again and believing she is not beyond help. Basically throughout the book I just wanted to hug her, because she is a character you absolutely have to love and sympathise with.

Gustav is a heroic younger brother. His young age allows him to be less cynical than Nina, so he keeps believing in a good outcome. This attitude enables him to help them both make it through the worst.

Julien is an amazing, multi-dimensional character. He is uprooted from his home in Paris, he misses his friends and the city, and longs to be accepted by the popular kids in school. Between wanting to be popular and doing the right thing, he makes a few mistakes, not out of malice but more of an accidental teenage recklessness.

However, when Julien realises how serious things are, and learns the truth about the war, the Nazis, and the Jews, he does everything he can to not only do the right thing himself but also to convince others to do the same. I loved his approach to faith and God as resources of strength. I could relate to the simplicity of Julien's 'conversations' with God. Julien has a great advisor in his grandfather, and their relationship, as well as the kind of advice Julien gets from him, remained me very much of my late grandmother and her views, which was a great personal connection to this book for me.

There are a number of other characters, children as well as and adults, from Julien's schoolmates to his parents, worth mentioning. They each contribute an important nuance to making How Huge the Night an incredible read. Let me just mention one, the seeming antagonist, Henri. Though we view him mostly through Julien's eyes, it was fascinating to watch his development through the course of the novel.

In addition to the exceptional characters, How Huge the Night captures the atmosphere of the time very well. It depicts the lives and thoughts of ordinary people amidst the confusion, fear, and hunger. The propaganda and general lack of information made it easy to turn the blind eye and simply trust the officials. In such circumstances the selfless actions of the people helping those in need are truly noble and awe-inspiring.

Finally, another thing that I liked is the parallel the Munns draw between the persecution of the Huguenots and the Jewish people. It is a lesson on how to learn from history – Julien and others find help in making their judgement and decisions by drawing on their past as the persecuted minority, and find the compassion for those who are in the same situation at the moment.

All in all, How Huge the Night offers an amazing depiction of a small part of Wold War II in France trough its characters and plot as well as its message. As Christian fiction this novel manages to avoid being preachy or corny and still convey its message: it is important to keep faith in people because no matter how harsh the situation, people can surprise you and one can find friends in unlikely places. 

RECOMMENDATION: Fans of historical YA books will like How Huge the Night. It has sad and happy moments, and plenty of suspense to keep you on the edge. And generally, this story is a balm for heart and soul. This book is a stand-alone, but in its case I would not mind a sequel at all.

5 stars

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cat Diary (23): Autumn Entertainment


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.

Autumn is beautiful, but it can also be boring sometimes, for example, when it rains. We had quite a bit of rain lately, so Pepca and I had to find things to occupy ourselves (read: Pepca had to find ways to entertain me between naps).

So, I did the usual things, such as chasing balls, playing witch sticks, and staring out of the window a lot. But my favourite time is when Pepca joins in the game (read: when she teases me with a piece of string). She likes it so much I indulge her and pretend to be very eager to get that piece of string she keeps dangling in front of me.

Anyway, she had some spare time, and apparently nothing belter to do, so she learned how to make gifs. So, to prove it, here is one of me perpetually trying to catch that darn end of string, hehe:

kittystringnormal
How do you spend dull rainy days?

I hope you are having fun. Stay entertained!

Till next time,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book Nook #29



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

122230577356803190As1jyGIUc

Commentary: Lot's of shelf-space and light, a comfortable and spacious seat, enough place for bringing a snack with you, what more could one want for a great reading spot? And i like the green walls, it is such a relaxing colour.

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

Friday, November 16, 2012

Skyfall (2012)


skyfallDIRECTOR: Sam Mendes; CAST: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

SUMMARY (from IMDB): Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

MY OPINION:

I saw Skyfall last weekend and I really liked it. Although, it has taken me a while to review it because I  have no idea how to do that without spoiling it for you. So, my review probably sounds pretty vague.

I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed it so much was that I had known next to nothing about it before seeing it, apart from the fact that it is a Bond film and all the expectations I had had from seeing the previous 007 films. Therefore, some things caught me completely by surprise, which I did not mind at all. 

The breath-taking action is worthy of the Bond franchise, and the scenery and settings are spectacular. When people (i.e. mostly Bond) are not shooting, running, jumping, etc. and things are not exploding, there is emotional intensity and British wit to keep your mind whirling. And the fact that I noticed the music should say something about how good it is, since the score is one of the things I pay the least attention to in films unless it is really good.

I love the story arc of the last three Bond films, revealing Bond's backstory bit by bit. Skyfall gives us a few interesting pieces of information in that aspect.

All in all, the almost two and a half hours of watching Skyfall were time well spent.

4,5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If Daniel Craig is not a good enough reason for you to go watch this film, then a mix of action and drama, and an interesting story, spiced up with humour and stunning visuals are definitely the things worth seeing Skyfall for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole (Immortals After Dark #8) and Gena Showalter (Alien Huntress #5)


Note: This review and the book reviewed reviewed contain adult themes. Please, do not read either unless you are an adult.

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Deep Kiss of Winter contains two short novels: "Untouchable" (IAD #8) by Kresley Cole and "Tempt me Eternally" by Gena Showalter.

KRESLEY COLE delivers a breath-taking tale of a brutal vampire soldier about to know love for the first time ... and a Valkyrie aching for his touch. Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela – the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can’t be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure. Can they conquer an agony of frustration and slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?

GENA SHOWALTER puts a daring spin on a tale of huntress and hunted ... and concocts a sensual chemistry that is positively explosive.
With only skin-to-skin contact, Aleaha Love can change her appearance, assume any identity. Now she’s an AIR (alien investigation and removal) agent on a mission to capture a group of otherworldly warriors. Only she is held captive when dangerously seductive Breean, a golden-skinned, iron-willed commander, threatens her new life – and for the first time, Aleaha wants only to be herself.

MY OPINION:

"Untouchable" by Kresley Cole

I knew Murdoch and Daniela would be awesome, and I was right. Their story runs parallel to the stories of the other three Wroth brothers –  so, from the beginning of the series – but with just the right amount of repetition. Hence, I was reminded of all the important things that had already happened, and I loved meeting all the familiar and beloved characters from the previous books again.

I felt so much sympathy for Murdoch and Daniela. They are both strong, but lonely, craving companionship and love but neither of them wants to impose on the other. They do not want to show their vulnerably by admitting how much they really care for each other. So, it takes them a while to work through it, especially since the chances of them being together seem very slim.

Daniela is partly ice-fey, and she hurts every time she is touched by someone not of her own race, which makes it impossible for her to form any kind of a love relationship. She pretends not to care, but she hurts on the inside.

Murdoch has problems accepting that his human preconceptions can no longer apply to his current situation. Also, he hates the concept of fate forcing him into something, so he fights the feelings he begins to develop towards Daniela.

Due to these issues they have a hard time coming together. However, they talk (and  argue, which was hilarious at times) about their problems, and they eventually work things out. I loved how, despite their disagreements and issues, they try not to hurt each other, at least not intentionally. They are really considerate and caring towards each other from the beginning, which makes up a sweet and warm relationship.

Overall, "Untouchable" is a touching and suspenseful story with some humour and Valkyrie snark (loved that, as always). The resolution for Daniela's and Murdoch's romance was so simple and brilliant I couldn't have seen it coming, On the whole, their love story was just prefect. Add the rest of the Wroth brothers and their wives. What more could you possibly want?

5 stars

"Tempt Me Eternally" by Gena Showalter

This is a really short novel, just over 200 pages. I only read it because it came included with Kresley Cole's novel. I was curious about it, since Gena Showalter is such a  praised paranormal romance author, but I did not like it.

A partial reason why I did not like this novella was probably because it is a part of a series, and I had not read the previous books. Therefore I was missing some background information about the world it is set in. But, this was my problem.

However, even bigger reason for not liking this book was the way the relationship between Aleaha and Breean is portrayed. It is basically all based on lust and sex, which I don't like, anyway. In addition, the sex scenes did not work for me, I had read much, much better ones. I could not feel any chemistry between Aleaha and Breean. They kept telling how much they want each other and love each other, but there was nothing in the story to support that.

All in all, the futuristic world Showalter creates seems interesting, but the romance and erotica in this novel were not my kind of thing.

2 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Deep Kiss of Winter is definitely worth trying for Kresley Cole's "Untouchable". Fans of Immortals After Dark series absolutely cannot miss on Murdoch's and Daniela's story. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat


spirit of lost angelsSUMMARY
(from Goodreads): Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her poor peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the ancient regime. Can she muster the bravery and skill to join the revolutionary force gripping France, and overthrow the corrupt, diabolical aristocracy?

Spirit of Lost Angels traces the journey of a bone angel talisman passed down through generations. The women of L’Auberge des Anges face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse.

Amidst the tumult of revolutionary France, this is a story of courage, hope and love.

MY OPINION:

Spirit of Lost Angels is Liza Perrat's historical fiction debut. I have read several books set in the French Revolution era, but Perrat's novel offers a refreshing approach to that period as it does not centre on aristocracy and the revolution itself.

Instead, Spirit of Lost Angles focuses on the life of a simple countryside girl, Victorie, while only glimpsing at the main revolutionary events. It does however, very well present the living situation of the majority of the population and the horrible conditions that led to the Revolution.

Victoire is a flawed heroine. Yet, her very imperfection makes her all the more likable as a character if not as a person. Her almost cheating on her husband (she would have had there not been an interruption), vengefulness, and occasional lack of perceptiveness (despite her otherwise praised intelligence) are things I disliked about her. At the same time, those flaws make her more realistic, and because of that I liked her on the whole.

As her story unravels, Victorie finds ways to compensate for her mistakes and shortcomings (and no, I'm not telling you how, you will have to read the book to find out). Thus, she grows as a person. Generally, Victoire is a strong and endurable woman, who stands up not only for herself but also for others.

I especially enjoyed the writing in Spirit of Lost Angels. Through the first-person point of view Perrat captures Victorie's states of mind (depression, madness, anger) wonderfully. Victorie's character development is reflected in the manner of her narrative which changes from the perspective of a child to that of a sophisticated city woman and all the phases she goes through in between.

The plot seems a little far-fetched at some spots, with the people Victoire encounters and the streaks of good and bad luck, though the course of events seems generally plausible.

Overall, I enjoyed Spirit of Lost Angles. I especially liked the ending, which bears a positive note but not in the way one might expect.

RECOMMENDATION: Spirit of Lost Angles offers a great depiction of the French Revolution era from a somewhat different perspective than usually. I think people who like reading historical fiction, especially concerning French history, would enjoy this book.

4 stars

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Book Riot's Top 50 – How Many Have You Read?


You know I love this kind of lists, don't you?

So, I've come across (via Sarah Says Read's post) Book Riot's Top 50 favourite novels the blog readers voted on, and you can leave the number of the books you've read from the list there.

Here's the list:

bold – books I've read

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  14. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  15. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  16. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  17. The Stand by Stephen King
  18. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  19. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  20. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  21. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  22. The PIcture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  23. The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  24. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (only the first book, but I'm counting it anyway, I'm going to read the rest, too)
  25. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  26. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  27. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  28. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  29. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  30. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  31. 1984 by George Orwell
  32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  34. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  35. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  36. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  37. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
  38. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  39. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  40. Ulysses by James Joyce
  41. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  42. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  43. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  44. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  45. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  46. Dune by Frank Herbert
  47. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  48. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  49. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  50. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

That's 14 books. Hmm, I guess I have some more reading to do. :) How many have you read?

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