I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Perfect Betrayal

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Perfect Betrayal (Double Helix #2)
by Jade Kerrion

Plot Summary:

Danyael Sabre, an object of desire, would much rather not be. An alpha empath by birth, a doctor by training, and an empathic healer by calling, he is stalked by the military that covets his ability to kill, not heal. Bereft of two days of memories, he finds himself on the run under the protection of an assassin, Zara Itani.

The more he uncovers of his lost hours, the more he doubts everything that once anchored him. He knows only that he endangers those around him and that he is falling in love with Zara, who hates him for reasons he no longer remembers.

As forces—both powerful and ruthless—threaten those he cares for, Danyael has only two options. He can betray his values and abandon the path of the healer, or he can wait to be betrayed, not by enemies, but by his friends.

A note:

I reviewed the first book in the series earlier this year and loved it.  So I was very eager to read the next book in the series, and this time around I'm also participating in the author's blog tour.

Review:

This was a fantastic sequel to the first book.  The action and danger is escalated, with Danyael even more mentally and physically damaged by the uncontrollable forces that seek to control or use him.  His fight for his personal freedom, so hampered by the judgements and motivations of his friends and enemies, fuels the conflict that is thoughtfully juxtaposed against Danyael's physical copy, Galahad's fight for his own freedom.  The tension ratchets higher as the odds continue to stack against Danyael, setting up what I hope to be a great ending to the trilogy.

The beginning of the novel drags a little as the author introduces new sides to Danyael and Zara's relationship. Although the twists and turns of their romance is intriguing, the beginning felt a little repetitive in terms of action.  But when "someone" is kidnapped, both the plot and the suspense picks up until it is impossible to put the book down.  The author continues to create an intelligent and compelling tale, with complex characters and an intricate plot.  The character interactions are especially involved and I think it adds so much to the reality of this world.  This is another breath-taking installment of the Double Helix series!

a review copy was kindly provided by the author

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The first book in the series is currently on sale for 99 cents!
Check out the other stops on the Double Helix Blog Tour!
Sunday, December 30, 2012

Suspense Sundays (27)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"Five Canaries in the Room"
Air date: June 8, 1943
Starring Lee Bowman and Ona Munson
A young man wants to get home early from a party, but his friends slipped him more alcohol anyway, so he arrives to his apartment a little tipsy. He wants to avoid his fiance and her father who live on the same floor as him, but he also meets an old girlfriend outside of his apartment building. She insists she speak with him, so they both quietly make their way up to his apartment only to discover A) a dead body B) they are in the wrong apartment - but it looks like his fiance’s father’s apartment because he has five canaries. They get the police but the body has been moved, and the room with the five canaries just can’t be the father’s apartment.

Typical mixed room whodunit - when you figure out they mystery of why the room looked different, it’s pretty easy to figure out who the murderer was. The reasoning doesn’t have to be well-developed or interesting - it’s just interesting finding out about the rooms.
Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blogspiration (11) - Green to Grey

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.



A lyric from a Gavin Creel song "Green to Grey".  It's a gorgeously introspective acoustic song with lovely optimistic lyrics and an emotionally sensitive performance by Gavin.  Can you tell that I really love this song?

Here's hoping to keeping it green in the New Year.


"Even when my evenings are quiet
I can hear a whisper of something coming."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Year in Review - 2012

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Looking back on the books I've read this year, I have found some new favorites, gotten into some new series and since first starting the blog, I have a better idea of what types of books appeal to me.  I wasn't as aware of it before I had so many choices and recommendations put in front of me now by authors and bloggers.  Unfortunately a really pretty cover helps.

According to my Goodreads stats, I read 127 books this year (way more than I got to last year!) and here's hoping I'll make it a little more every year.  Looking back, I thought I'd pick my top favorites for this year:



Top indie read: Marina in a Green Dress by Alan Davidson  [my review]

Top 'Big 6'-published read: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan [my review]

Top Jane Eyre derivative read: Ironskin by Tina Connolly [my review] (this wasn't easy to pick!)

Top non-reviewed read:  The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. I read this book before I started the blog, and I really loved it - it made me laugh and cry, and the ultimate message touched me.  It's a gorgeous story.

On the blogging front, my most popular post this year was my Awesome Adaptations pick for classic fairy tale - The Little Mermaid.  It seems like the image shows up a lot in search engines.  Interesting.  

I went to a couple author signings this year - one for Cheryl Burke's dance memoir at the L.A. Book Festival.  I never did blog about my festival visit.  I hope to go again next year and maybe do more.  I didn't see nearly as many panels as I have in the past. The other book signing was for Tina Connolly's Ironskin.  It was fun to meet her and tell her a little about how much I loved the book.  Not too much though, I didn't want to scare her. :) 

Thanks for taking this trip with me down memory lane!  My New Year's resolution is to make my reader life much more eventful so I can post about it!  And of course, READ MORE BOOKS!
Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Adèle: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Adèle: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story
(also called Thornfield Hall: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story)
by Emma Tennant

Plot Summary:

The daughter of a celebrated Parisian actress, Adele is a homesick, forlorn eight-year-old when first brought to Thornfield Hall by Edward Fairfax Rochester, her mother's former lover. Lonely and ill at ease in the unfamiliar English countryside, she longs to return to the glitter of Paris ... and to the mother who has been lost to her. But a small ray of sunshine brightens her eternal gloom when a stranger arrives to care for her: a serious yet intensely loving young governess named Jane Eyre.

As time passes, Adele watches with wonder as an unexpected romance blossoms between her governess and her guardian -- even as her curiosity leads her deeper into the shadowy manor, toward the dark and terrible secret that is locked away in a high garret. And on Jane and Rochester's wedding day, it is Adele who brings about the fiery catastrophe that will shatter her "family" and send her fleeing, frightened and alone, back to Paris.

Review:

Jane Eyre's hidden story, this is not, as most of the events in this book are pretty ludicrous and unrealistic and it's highly unlikely this is what happened behind the scenes.  Adele says it rightly at one point in the novel when she remarks that Jane is the one who sees things clearly.  The novel is not totally from Adele's point of view, though, often a chapter is devoted to Grace, Mr. Rochester's, or Mrs. Fairfax's thoughts, and it was difficult to decide what was really happening with the characters with so many different viewpoints.  Mrs. Fairfax for example thinks Mr. Rochester is really in love with Blanche and wanted to marry her instead of Jane, Adele thinks Mr. Rochester still loves Celine and would want her to come back, Mr. Rochester doesn't help by seeming to think about Celine often before and somewhat after he meets Jane.  Grace is just in it for herself and is probably the most honest character in this story.

This story just felt confusing and all over the place, and although at first I thought it was an interesting idea to tell the story from Adele's viewpoint, reading this story I realized she was really too young and couldn't have  known much about what was happening.  And her thoughts do not lend any cohesiveness to the story because she vacillates in her feelings so much.  The author did have some interesting ideas and changes to the story of what went on behind Jane's back, and I did like how Adele grows as a character and realizes what a positive influence Jane has been on her life.  The tone of the characters was also pretty well done - I didn't have too much of a problem with how the author painted them.  The ending however kind of ruined the half-regard I was having for this story though.  There was a pretty over the top twist that was truly unbelievable and ridiculous and disappointing since the story seemed headed towards a nice conclusion until it made a complete u-turn for crazy town.  This is such an uneven story, that I can only think that die-hard Jane Eyre fans that need to read everything related to the original novel (like myself) would find any reason to read it.

Tenth and last book for the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge
(Yay I made it!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (18) - Marina in a Green Dress

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome book that needs to be adapted
(and the cast you'd like to see perform it!)
Title: Marina in a Green Dress by Alan Davidson

This is a book I read and reviewed this year that I really loved.  Probably because I identified with it a whole lot, and adored the concept and the suspenseful way the story played out.  I can imagine it as a very stylish, play within a story, suspense thriller film, TV movie, or stage show - whatever! I would just love to see it reimagined for the visual medium. It also helps that the story is pretty straightforward and not very long, so I probably won't be disappointed by a screenplay that gets rid of a large chunk of story.  There are three main characters that I'll dream cast for this post - but it is really a dream because most of the characters in the story are young - eighteen, nineteen, early twenties, and my choices are not exactly age appropriate anymore.  Oh well.




For impressionable, ordinary fangirl, Jessica Tye who figures out her life and becomes a strong woman, Jennifer Lawrence!  She does down-to-earth yet gorgeous so well, and after seeing her in two movies (only? I know I should check out more) I love her acting.







For the up and coming actor/singer Kennedy Orr who Jessica adores and who won a TV competition to be the lead on the new musical "Marina", I would love to see Gavin Creel, one of my favorite Broadway actors/singers.  He's ridiculously talented and has a fantastic voice, so that fits Kennedy pretty well.




And for Jessica's poor boyfriend, Steve, who is nice, but not very encouraging, or exciting and takes her for granted, I can see Arthur Darvill - Rory from Doctor Who.  Mostly because Rory is such a nice guy and ordinary and Arthur portrays him so well.  But of course in Doctor Who he gets the girl, so he is going to have to downplay his charm for this!
Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Hello and thank you to all my past and present and future readers!  I started this blog earlier this year in March and wasn't sure exactly where it would go or if anyone would see it, but so many months later I'm so glad I did it and am so grateful for anyone who takes the time to read the posts. It's been a fantastic year celebrating books and authors and readers, and it's so lovely to be part of a community of so many dedicated and inspired individuals.  I appreciate everyone who stops by so much, and I hope you all have yourself a merry little Christmas!  (and/or holiday of choice!)

Now I'll just leave my favorite version of my favorite Christmas song here:



And then the Doctor Who version:

New Doctor Who Christmas special today OMG!

Happy Holidays Everyone!
Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: A Vampire Christmas

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
A Vampire Christmas
(A Dark Dates Short Story)
by Tracey Sinclair

Plot Summary:

It’s Christmas in London but Cassandra Bick, owner of the human/vampire dating agency Dark Dates, doesn’t feel much like celebrating. There’s a rogue vampire running loose on the streets and Cassandra and her friends must try to stop him before he strikes again – even if that means enlisting the help of Laclos, the flirtatious vampire with very definite ideas of what (or who) he wants to unwrap this Christmas…

A note: 

I read and reviewed the first book in the Cassandra Bick Chronicles - Dark Dates, and really enjoyed it, so I was happy to read this short story.  It's a little spoilery if you haven't read the first book in the series so I highly recommend you picking it up!

Review:

This was a very light read - there's not much to the mystery of the rogue vampire as it is so soon solved and dealt with, so it's Cassandra's snarky sense of humor and her thoughts on Christmas that really make up the heart of the story.  It's a filler piece that comments somewhat on how things ended for Cassandra and her love interests in the first book.  Quick, and entertaining this is a fun and thoughtful short story to read around the holidays that makes you appreciate life's blessings.

review copy kindly provided by the author
Sunday, December 23, 2012

Suspense Sundays (26)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"Back for Christmas"
Air date: December 23, 1943
Starring Peter Lorre
Herbert and Hermoine are planning a trip for three months to America.  And Herbert would like to plant some orchids and starts digging a hole in the cellar.  Once you hear more of Herbert and Hermoine's relationship - and Hermoine hen-pecks Herbert mercilessly - you know that hole in the cellar is not for orchids. And even if Hermoine and all their friends think they will be back for Christmas, Herbert has other plans.

This is one of my favorite episodes, so funny how fussy and annoying Hermoine is, and how Herbert thinks his only recourse is to kill his wife.  Why doesn't he stick up for himself sometime?  And even when Hermoine is facing death, she still berates him - hilarious. But of course there is a twist in the end that makes it doubtful that Herbert will be successful in his plans. It's a great twist!  And Peter Lorre's reading of it is wonderfully over the top!
Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blogspiration (10) - Clarke's Third Law

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.


I remember thinking in the latest Twilight movie, that Jane simply saying "pain" and collapsing her victim is such a cool power.  And yet now when I click a button and say "play" to my iPhone, and it starts playing my music - it's pretty much the same amount of coolness.  Since college I've been geeky over new technology, and though it can be pretty daunting and overwhelming, especially with how fast it is evolving, it's still makes me tingly with joy to see something new do something amazing.  It's magic!

This is British author Arthur C Clarke's third 'Law of Prediction'.
Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Lady Audley's Secret

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , , ,
Lady Audley's Secret
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Plot Summary:

The flaxen-haired beauty of the child-like Lady Audley would suggest that she has no secrets. But M.E. Braddon's classic novel of sensation uncovers the truth about its heroine in a plot involving bigamy, arson and murder. It challenges assumptions about the nature of femininity and investigates the narrow divide between sanity and insanity, using as its focus one of the most fascinating of all Victorian heroines. Combining elements of the detective novel, the psychological thriller and the romance of upper class life, Lady Audley's Secret was one of the most popular and successful novels of the nineteenth century.

Review:

This is a glorious story to immerse oneself!  The author's approach of writing about these characters in a straight-forward factual way, gives the reader a chance to piece together the first secret that Lady Audley is keeping and eagerly I read to see what would come from the train collision confrontation that was sure to occur.  Yet when it does occur, the author takes us away from that action, leaving us to find out with Robert Audley - the lawyer turned detective - what exactly is going on with Lady Audley and how many crimes did she commit to keep her secret(s).  As the reader, I was intrigued by how the author makes it easy to know what is going on in the minds of the characters without actually detailing their thoughts, and I felt like this approach kept up the suspense of wanting to see the other characters realize the truth, which was strung out until almost the end.

In addition to the excellent plot, there are side commentaries on the nature of women, especially their influence over men, and a strange condemnation of women's power which I found so odd because the main impetus for Lady Audley's questionable conduct came from a man.  At least I think the fault of men was glossed over repeatedly, and I couldn't tell if the author meant that ironically or not.  But it was very thought-provoking to think of how different the lives of many of these characters would have been if the men had made better choices.  Not that Lady Audley is without fault.

A note on the Jane Eyre derivative aspect, which is one reason why I picked up this book to read - the interesting idea of Lady Audley being the one to embody almost all the main plot points of Jane Eyre in one character - with bigamy, arson, and innocent governess - created a very complex, coolly manipulative but highly sympathetic character.  Lady Audley is driven to action like Jane Eyre wanted in her life, but it didn't work so well with her without the innate sense of morality that governs Jane.

The writing in this novel is very precise and detailed; with a story that has so many intertwining motivations and agendas, and the author does a great job of revealing all the information at the right time without slowing down the pace.  It's a highly entertaining read with characters that are complex and relatable.  It's a suspenseful, pseudo-mystery (the reader often knows more than Robert Audley did) but there are still a couple plot twists in the end to make it interesting. I highly recommend this book!

Ninth book of ten in the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge
My first read for the Classics Club Challenge

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Excerpt: I Hate Cell Phones

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
I Hate Cell Phones
by Mike Ronny

Plot Summary:

All his life, Rodney “Red” Daley loved building bombs. Now, however, this retired weapons expert is in an assisted living home. Forced to play Bingo and checkers all day, Red attempts a daring escape. It’s no use. But then Red gets his hands on some wires, and a battery, and a timing device….

Book Excerpt:

I wake up at seven-thirty and I feel like buildin’ a bomb. I’m good at buildin’ bombs, the way some guys are good at playin’ football or strummin’ on the guitar. I haven’t made any actual bombs since I retired, but I could always pick up some things at the hardware store and create a nice explosive device right here in the apartment. But what I decide to do instead, once I shower and eat oatmeal, is walk in Boston Common. Most beautiful park in the world, and practically my backyard. At nine-thirty I’m ready to go, ‘cause I’m finished readin’ the obituaries and the nurse ain’t comin’ today. This nurse checks up on me a few times a week – don’t know why, she don’t do me much good. She just makes sure I swallow my pills, but I don’t mind her comin’ ‘cause her skirt’s always short.

I take off my robe and pull up my pants and I see the cell phone on the kitchen floor. So I pick up the phone and throw it against the wall ‘cause I don’t know how to use it and cell phones are stupid. I hate cell phones. Don’t know why my son even bought it for me.

I open my door and look down the hall and make sure no one’s comin’ out – don’t like sayin’ hi to them nosy neighbors. The coast’s clear and I make my way with my cane. It’s a warm March day and as soon as I step on the stoop I’m thankful I forgot to put on a coat ‘cause the air’s makin’ my muscles feel alive.

My first stop’s that cemetery facin’ Boylston Street. They got plots there filled for hundreds of years, and skinny gravestones so faded you gotta squint to make out the names. I always feel smug walkin’ there, can’t help smilin’. Sometimes I’ll say out loud: “How you boys doin’ today?” Don’t know why I should feel so smug; I’ll be joinin’ those fellas soon enough.

I leave the cemetery and I’m walkin’ the main path through the park and these squirrels start accostin’ me. They run up to my loafers and get on their hind legs and stare at me with puppy-dog eyes. That’s the thing about city squirrels: no fear. People feed ‘em when they’re not supposed to, so those animals look at everyone goin’ by like they’re a food bank.

I walk down the path some more and I see a few women in tight pants and a guy also in tight pants, and they’re doin’ stretchin’ exercises. What’re them things called? Yogurt, or something. Yeah, yoga, that’s it. So this guy’s standin’ on one leg, like he’s a flamingo, and his other leg’s stickin’ out straight and his ass is on display for everyone, and I think, what’s this guy tryin’ to prove? This is disgusting. So I get an idea. I make like I’m losin’ my balance, and I reach my hands out and grab this guy’s shoe that’s in the air and I give him a nice shove. He falls forward and his face hits the dirt. The girls rush round him to see if he’s hurt his precious self.

“Sorry about that!” I yell. I walk away laughin’. That was a good one.

I sit on a bench now ‘cause I been walkin’ for fifteen minutes and obviously I’m tuckered out. I watch folks passin’ by – they’re all on their damn cell phones. Not just kids, either, but old fools like me. Their eyes are glued to them things. I betchya most of them people yappin’ away all day haven’t said a single worthwhile thing in the last five years.

And then this kid, this oily kid in his twenties, sits next to me. He’s wearin’ a wool hat like it’s January. He’s got sandals and a beard, too, and I start laughin’ ‘cause I think: gee, this guy prob’ly thinks he looks good.

“Hello,” he says.

“Yeah, hello to you.” I look straight ahead and hope he goes away, but he sticks some kinda paper out at me instead.

“Care to sign my petition? I’m advocating for the forgiveness of student loans.” I keep lookin’ straight, but he doesn’t go away. Instead he says: “My name’s Morris. I’m an advocate for social justice.”

“And I’m an old man. Leave me alone.”

“Sir, have you ever considered the rising interest levels on student loans that are shackling the youth of today? If these loans were forgiven, young people could start fresh. This simple act would stimulate the economy and….”

I look at him. “Wait, you’re doin’ the what for the who?”

“Student loans. We want them to be forgiven.”

“Forgiven by who? The pope?”

“The government could bail students out.”

“On what grounds?”

“On the grounds that the students who signed these loans….”

“Lemme get this straight: when I was a young fella, and I slaved away at two jobs till my eyeballs bled at night so I could pay my mortgage, you’re sayin’ what I shoulda done instead was grow a beard and go to the park and have people sign some paper sayin’ they should forget about my mortgage?”

“Sir, the reason we have such income disparity in this country today….”

I grab my cane and start pokin’ him all over with it.

“Knock it off!” he says. “Ow! Ow!”

“Get that bullshit away from me. Go! Go!”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (17) - Hercule Poirot's Christmas

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesomely festive adaptation
Title: Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Adapted from Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Murder.  So festive, right?  At least for Poirot it means having a warm house to reside in over the holidays.  And he can observe family interactions up close and personal.  It's not an ideal family - the house he is staying in belongs to an extremely rich, miserly, miserable old fellow with children (some illegitimate) who dislike him.  And in-laws who dislike him.  And then Poirot doesn't even like him that much.  But fortunately for him, Poirot likes it worse when people murder.

This adaptation starts in Africa - already revealing some important backstory to the characters that we don't find out about in the book in quite the same way.  This sets up certain expectations and foreshadows events to come.  It changes the structure of the mystery slightly, making it easier to understand the solution when it is given.  This adaptation also drops a few family characters and use Inspector Japp as Poirot's right-hand man.  Japp introduces a little family element for Poirot who in the show doesn't seem to have anyone around.  The changes don't detract from the adaptation, because there is still an attention to detail and fantastic character portrayals to highlight this entertaining and puzzling mystery.

There are a slew of mysterious characters with various motivations and backgrounds that this film takes care to properly set-up without weighing down the pace, and David Suchet as Poirot (as always!) captures the brilliant Belgian detective with nuance and aplomb, showcasing the poignancy of his lonely genius in the scenes at home and when he is opening his gift from Inspector Japp.  There's one moment that I love, when Harry Lee makes the standard assumption that Poirot is French, and Poirot says "No," so quickly it was like he was expecting him to say it, and so quietly because he knew it didn't matter at all to Harry.  David Suchet, you are so amazing as Poirot.

Overall, I think the mystery and this adaptation is a wonderful treat to watch during the holidays - not particularly because it is warm and fuzzy (but at least your family can't be this bad), but because with Poirot you realize the inescapable impact of family amidst all the emotional baggage.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Broken

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Broken
by A. E. Rought

Plot Summary:

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

Review:

The author did a fantastic job spinning a romantic novel from the original idea of Frankenstein.  Emma's grief at the loss of her old boyfriend transforms into an inexplicable connection to the new boy in town, Alex Franks, who is really too perfect for her in every way.  Because of Emma's grief, the novel starts and continues with a pervading moody atmosphere that I found really helped accentuate the horror elements in this story.

At first I thought the romance would fall into the insta-love category, but I really loved how the author fleshed out their connection and personalities, though I was curious to know what personality differences there were between Daniel and Alex.  Emma's character is 'broken' from the beginning, so I have to attribute that to the fact that she can be a little too dependent on Alex at times.  I do like stronger female characters, but I can't say I didn't enjoy when Alex would come swooping in to save Emma.  It's so romantic!

There are two main villains in this novel, and they are so intriguing that I really wanted to know more about them - I felt their motivations sometimes were a little murky - but they were not badly written characters at all.  There is a nicely escalated sense of danger as Alex and Emma fall in love, and the two people who want to see them apart are forced to intervene.  The story overall flows at a good pace, and kept me eagerly turning pages.  The suspense comes mostly from needing to know what will happen to the characters, as Alex's secret can be easily deduced from the fact that this is a modern spin on Frankenstein.

review provided by the publisher through Netgalley
This book releases January 8, 2013


Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Not to Disturb

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Not to Disturb
by Muriel Spark

Plot Summary:

A storm rages round the towers of the big house near Geneva. Behind the locked doors of the library, the Baron, the Baroness and their handsome young secretary are not to be disturbed. In the attic, the Baron's lunatic brother howls and hurls plates at his keeper.

But in the staff quarters, all is under control. Under the personal supervision of Lister, the Baron's incomparable butler, the servants make their own, highly lucrative preparations for the tragedy.

The night is long, but morning will bring a crime passionnel of outstanding attraction and endless possibilities.

Muriel Spark has created a world in her own idiom - bizarre, gruesome and brilliantly funny.

Review:

This is a very short novel, which delves into it's character's personalities and motivations in a rather unapproachable, abbreviated style. The story is from the point of view of the servants who know that their employers are about to commit a murder suicide and plan for it accordingly, by seeing how they can profit the most from the situation.  The reader is thrown into the midst of their preparations and must put together the pieces of the backstory as the author drops the clues and hints amidst the seemingly random witty asides made by the characters.  It's an interesting idea of a story with a great angle - the servants profiting from the foolish indiscretions of their employers - but the story comes off as rambling and self-indulgent at times, highlighting the absurd in humanity.

I picked up this book because it was listed as a Jane Eyre derivative, but aside from the Gothic themes and the madman in the attic, there isn't much of a direct connection or homage to that novel.  Perhaps certain characters were included as a pastiche on elements of Jane Eyre.  Overall, this is a very curious story with a witty satiric style that I felt was overly-favored over the development of the story.

Eighth book of ten in the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Suspense Sundays (25)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"Menace in Wax"
Air date: November 17, 1942
Starring Joseph Julian
The episode starts off talking about Madame Tussaud’s origins in the French Revolution and then today with her wax museum during another war - WWII. A reporter - Mr. Rogers - visits the museum to look at the chamber of horrors because he got a tip about “something funny going on.” His discovery there leads him to a top secret military base in the countryside which is in danger of being attacked by the Nazis.

Okay.  The story and opening scenes in the wax museum are very misleading! I thought this would be some creepy wax monster story or dastardly murderer story who seals his victims in wax (oh wait, isn't that a movie?). But no, after such an interesting setting, the story moves on to a war-based suspense tale of spy intrigue. It’s ‘Meh’ really - not very exciting, but I suppose very relatable to the listeners at that time.
Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blogspiration (9) - Monty Hall Problem

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.


Let's say you are given the choice between Doors # 1, 2,  and 3, and one door has a cool prize behind it.  You pick # 1, and the host opens door #3 for you because there is nothing behind it.  Now you have the option - stick with door #1 or change your answer and pick #2.  It seems like there is only a fifty/fifty chance so you might as well stick with your answer.  But you shouldn't!  If you change your answer, you are more likely to get it right.  It's counter-intuitive, but the statistics support it.  It's called the Monty Hall Problem.

I had a conversation with my co-worker recently about this and found it such an interesting truth.  And even though I know it's true, it's still hard to understand why. I devote this blogspiration to logic problems - yay, it's awesome!

Derren Brown (my favorite illusionist extraordinaire) recently demonstrated the principle on one of his live shows.  I will just place this youtube video here in case anyone is interested in being enlightened in a far more entertaining and hilarious way than reading this post. Keep in mind that he slips in a few subliminal words and ideas to help influence the choice. 




And just in case the video's intro is a little long (about a minute or two), you can Click here to go right to the segment.
Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Nimpentoad

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Nimpentoad
by Henry, Joshua and Harrison Herz

Plot Summary:

Nimpentoad is the tale of a courageous and resourceful little Nibling who leads his tribe through the perilous Grunwald forest, overcoming obstacles and encountering strange creatures along the way. Nimpentoad is an engaging story with fantastic illustrations, and positive lessons of teamwork, creativity, perseverance and leadership.


Review:


This is a short, illustrated fantasy book for young children. I reviewed a kindle version of this book which I don’t recommend if you want to appreciate the detail and artistry of the illustrations of the Niblings and the strange and dangerous creatures they encounter on their quest to see the Giant. It’s a simple story that I can see engaging children, especially with the aid of the illustrations, and I found the main character, Nimpentoad, to be a strong, smart and likable hero to lead his people. I also appreciated a children’s story that introduced so many well known fantasy characters to children - trolls, orcs, and giants - and adding wolves and scorpions to the mix. It’s a straightforward story, with the story tension built in how the Niblings overcome or bypass each successive danger they encounter and I think it’s a story that children can very much enjoy.

a review copy was kindly provided by the author


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Excerpt: Three Sisters + a Giveaway!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Three Sisters
by Helen Smith

Twenty-six-year-old Londoner Emily Castles has been invited to a party in the big house at the end of her street. How could she know, as she left her house that evening, that she was making an appointment with death?

This 70-page comic mystery novella will appeal to fans of M C Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith.



Book Excerpt:


The south London sky exploded with a thousand deaths that night. Emily looked up. Tiny coloured lights hung in the blackness, like Midget Gems suspended mid-rinse in a toddler’s open mouth. She was on her way to the bonfire party, at the big house at the end of the street in Brixton where she lived, at the invitation of the new owner whom she had never met. Emily should have been used to the fireworks at her age because there had always been fireworks on bonfire night, for as long as she could remember - the fireworks now as much a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, and Halloween, the American festival of gore and dressing up, as Guy Fawkes night, when people in England remembered the day back in 1605 when a plot had been foiled which, had it been successful, would have blown up the Houses of Parliament, with King James I inside it.

But tonight each explosion startled Emily slightly, as if it was the sound of a gunshot, danger. And the sizzling sausage smell of blackening flesh that hung in the autumn air made her think of her dog Jessie who had died the week before. The dog had not been barbecued: she died peacefully, after a long and happy life. But she had very much enjoyed eating sausages.

Emily was carrying a tray of homemade cheesy potato bake – a wholesome, portable dish that usually went down well at parties – and a bottle of rosé wine. Ordinarily she wouldn’t have gone. Ordinarily, she would have been at home with Jessie, just in case the dog was disturbed by the noise of the fireworks. But those days were gone. And when the handwritten invitation had been slipped through her letterbox, well, she had interpreted it as a sign that she should start a new life, and find some new friends. How was she to know she was making an appointment, not just with a new life, but with death?

Halloween had fallen this year on the weekend before bonfire night, and as usual many people were out celebrating both events. Local children wandered the streets in ugly masks. At least, she hoped they were masks. For a moment or two Emily felt uneasy – what if this invitation was some sort of trick? What if she got to the big house at the end of the street and the place was dark and deserted? But then she seemed to feel the presence of her dog Jessie walking beside her for a few paces, and she felt reassured.

As she got closer to the house, she saw it was not deserted. First she heard music, and then she saw the coloured lights strung up in the trees, and finally she heard the happy buzz of conversation from people gathered in the garden. The guests were easily distinguishable from their hosts because they wore anoraks, scarves and gloves. The hosts were walking on stilts or juggling fire – the first sight Emily had was of a giant, glowing, pink papier-mâché or fibreglass painted head floating about five feet above the top of the privet hedge that surrounded the property.

Amazon  Goodreads  Author's Website  Facebook  Twitter  Shelfari  LibraryThing

~ Giveaway ~

Win a Kindle copy of Three Sisters by leaving a comment with your email on this post or emailing me at bookishwhimsy(at)gmail.com.  The winner will be randomly picked and notified by email on Monday, December 17th.  Thanks for reading the excerpt!


Praise for the Emily Castles mystery series:

"Fast-paced, funny, and mysterious... Helen Smith is a master story-teller." Socrates Book Reviews

"It grips you from the very beginning." Babs Books Bistro

"Bright, colorful and full of surprises."  Amazon Vine Reviewer

"Fast-paced and unusual, I highly recommend this one". Eva’s Sanctuary
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (16) - All This And Heaven Too

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesomely epic adaptation
Title: All This And Heaven Too
Adapted from All This And Heaven Too by Rachel Field

I wavered on my choice for an epic adaptation because when I think of 'epic' I think sweeping vistas, high stakes, high causes, but I think this film can fit the 'epic' bill quite well if I think lavish, big budget, high drama.  The novel was a bestseller in the thirties, and featured an account of the real-life murder suicide scandal in Paris in 1847 that centered around the author's aunt, Henriette Deluzy, mild mannered governess.  The film makes the more friendly relationship between the married Duc de Praslin and his children's governess of the book into a hand-wringing, emotional, soul-connecting romance.  They never kiss, never say those three little words to each other, but by look and pregnant pauses Charles Boyer and Bette Davis get their character's feelings across.  And however much they deny the depth of their attachement to the Duchess de Praslin and the other characters, there is no fooling the audience.  ... Actually there really is no fooling the characters in the film either.

I also think of this as an epic adaptation because it was Warner Brothers studios answer to the juggernaut to come - Gone With the Wind, where the studio tried to create a film that would match the emotional historical drama amidst social upheaval.  While All This And Heaven Too didn't quite deliver when faced with Gone With the Wind at the box office, I personally love this movie and rank it as one of my top three favorite films.  The romantic tension between the leads, the spiteful jealousy of the Duchess, and the innocent redeeming love of children (the Duc's children as well as the children Henriette tells the story to in the beginning) makes this an absolutely captivating melodrama.  And the final scene with the Duc just rips your heart out. What the Duc does is terrible, but you feel that he really had no choice.  A perfectly acted and perfectly pitched drama, I can usually put this movie on to completely forget about my life and immerse myself in a heartrendingly doomed romance.

By the way, this post on the real-life story behind this book makes for interesting reading.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Princess of the Silver Woods

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Princess of the Silver Woods (Princess #3)
by Jessica Day George

Plot Summary:

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse.

The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

Review:

I didn't realize this was the third book in a series when I started reading it, and I recommend not doing what I did and read it anyways without reading the first two.  There are characters and previous events that would have been nice to know more about before reading the abbreviated version of events in this book.

The author's new take on the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale is more the basis of this book - as the same events that happened in the previous books are overtaking the Princesses again.  Although elements of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood are woven in, the Princesses fairy tale is the one that gets the most intriguing makeover.  This time the Princesses seem to be stronger and better prepared, making them more formidable, especially Petunia who is a fantastic, strong female character.  The way the Princesses stick together, when nightmares from the King Under Stone plague them, is heartwarming and it's so great to read about how the Princesses work together to help themselves out of their predicament.

There is romance, action and fairy tale historical lore to make this a fast-paced, fun read, full of great character development.  I do think I would have loved this story more if I had read the previous two and had known all the loose ends the author was tying up in this one, but on it's own this is a really enjoyable read.

a review copy was received from Netgalley
Release date is today!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: His Black Wings

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
His Black Wings
by Astrid Yrigollen

Plot Summary:

Claren Maidstone has been forced to flee her childhood home, following the death of her parents and a vicious attack from a man who intends to marry her. She assumes a new identity and finds employment as an assistant to the handsome, Fredrick Lowood. However, Fredrick's generosity isn't without a price and Claren soon finds herself forced into a strange friendship with his disfigured son.

Unaware of how Claren's past entwines with his own, Etrigan Lowood begins to yearn for her love. Unfortunately, the past is not far behind.

Is his love for Claren enough?  Or will Etrigan remain alone with his black wings...

Review:

An expansion on Beauty and the Beast, the author adds many layers to the tale by mixing genres, changing motivations, and adding more perilous situations for the heroine.  Claren is on the run from her unwanted suitor, Kurten (a much nastier, and less good-looking version of Gaston).  Her mysterious benefactor, Mr. Lowood, comes off as both sinister and kind at times - he is keeping secrets, but he is helping Claren when she most needs it.  The mystery deepens with the introduction of disfigured Etrigan who grows from immaturity to understanding as he gets to know Claren.  Their romance is sweet, but I didn't feel as invested in it, because of the conflicting appeal of  Claren's other would-be suitors - Horace and Dekker - who never stood a chance, yet they were more fun and equally entranced by Claren.  And their competitive friendship made me smile.

At times Etrigan was very possessive and Claren very willing to yield to weakness despite the assurance she is very strong-minded and that also made it difficult for me to root for their romance.  Although they are an interesting in two lonely characters with tragic pasts.  Another issue I had with the story was the random switching of character perspectives - it hurt the pace and was jarring sometimes, especially when information on character's back-story was thrown in unexpectedly.  The story is generally well-written however, with an interesting dystopian, steampunk setting, and I found it a very absorbing read.

review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with Young Adult Novel Reader Book Tours

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Suspense Sundays (24)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"The Burning Court"
Air date: June 24, 1942
Starring Charles Ruggles and Julie Haydon
Based on John Dickinson Carr’s novel, this story is a never-ending tale of red herrings and false accusations. Mr. Stevens, editor, while perusing a book finds a picture of a woman who is a dead ringer for his wife. This woman in the picture lived in the 1600s and was beheaded and burned for poisoning someone. Before Mr. Stevens can confront his wife, he finds the picture missing from the book. Meanwhile, Mr. Stevens’ boss suspects the recent death of his uncle to be because of poisoning instead of gastroenteritis. Mrs. Stevens was last seen with the uncle.

I love how this story keeps pointing the finger at all the characters. Everyone is suspicious and seems to be hiding or lying about something. In the end, the solution is quite normal and reasonable, but there is an additional twist ending that is very much a surprise. I think the mystery story this book is based on would be a delight to read, because this short radio adaptation has so much promise.
Saturday, December 8, 2012

Blogspiration (8) - Sleepwalking in the Rift

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.


Gorgeously talented director, Cary Fukunaga, has created a series of short films to promote a fashion collection.  One short that was posted online shows off the languid beauty of Africa, the wildlife and the love of the people who live in it.  This short film is wonderful to look at, every shot could be an amazing still photograph!



Sleepwalking in the Rift on Nowness.com.
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Feature & Follow (9)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet  people and gain more  followers in the book blogging community.

Q: Activity! Who do you want to be? If you could choose any character from a book. What do you think that character looks like and what do you have in common?




Jane Eyre!  I admire her character so much, and would love to experience the intense romance she has with Mr. Rochester.  The trials she endures are unenviable, but for the rewards well worth it. :)  I'd like to think that Jane and I are both logical, level-headed, with a wry sense of humor and I think I'm pretty intelligent.  Jane from the book is small with brown hair and green eyes.  She's plain and unassuming, and from other characters can look child-like or fairy-like.   No actress in an adaptation has quite captured that, but for my taste I like Mia Wasikowska's look from the 2011 film the best.



Review: Beautiful Creatures

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Plot Summary:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Review:

My feelings towards this book are lukewarm at best.  There are things I liked about it - some exciting scenes, some interesting plot twists and developments and a romance that felt well-developed and... well romantic.  Most of the characters seemed authentic, and the family aspect adds a touching depth to the narrative.  Ethan, with his sharp, observant wit, is an entertaining narrator.  The Caster mythology is interesting and intelligently worked out, although I felt like towards the end there are more than a few too convenient changes to the rules we were constantly told were absolute.

And then there are the things I disliked about it.  I was disappointed and annoyed by some of the things Lena and Ethan would decide to do, when it seemed like it was clearly a bad idea (But, teenagers, right?), and the story paints the South in a highly negative light - I could barely stand Gatlin and the inhabitants just like Ethan. The pacing of the novel was a little uneven, and I wished some things were not so overly described. I also wished there were not so many loose ends - after the characters have gone through so much, very little is resolved!  There are almost no answers to how, or what, or why.

I listened to the audiobook and I have a few comments on the production.  I found the way the narrator would speak Ethan's words in more of a pronounced Southern accent than when he spoke his thoughts, a little odd.  And the pauses for dream-like sounds when Ethan was dreaming was annoying as well.  I do think the readers did a great job overall with the story though, and really loved the reader Kevin T. Collins rendition of Ethan's Great Aunts.  It was eerily spot-on for the character and age!

This book did hold my interest and was suspenseful enough to keep me listening.  I'm also really looking forward to seeing the movie because it looks great.  I think with a little streamlining this book could have been much better.

And darn that audiobook - that Sixteen Moons song is stuck in my head!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (15) - X-Men First Class

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a comic book
Title: X-Men First Class
Loosely Adapted from X-Men: First Class by Marvel Comics

I'm not a big comic book reader - and I'm only marginally more of a superhero movie watcher, so I can't really speak for what makes this film an awesome adaptation of the comic (I haven't read it), but more about what makes this an awesome film, especially when I think of the previous installments.

First of all, it stars James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.  Win. Win.  With comics, I've generally found the character development to be a little vaguer and the plot a little one-dimensional, but this film turns the characters and plot into an intricate and believable origin story for Professor X and Magneto.  The gritty and tragic opening scene with a young Erik who is torn away from his mother and forced to exhibit his mutant power already sets up an incredibly compelling and emotional backstory to Magneto's later actions and ideology.  Erik's friendship with Charles Xavier is seemingly unlikely as they have such different backgrounds, but ultimately touching - especially to see how much Charles helps Erik.  I do so love stories that focus on incredible friendships.

I also really enjoyed the introduction of so many new mutants and the training they went through to control their powers.  Stories about kids with special powers in schools are appealing, aren't they?  It's difficult to introduce so many new characters in one film, but I felt like most of the characters had a good amount of screen time, and the audience is really invested in their story and when they can work together in the end it's a momentous reveal.  Weaving the story into real-life historical events also helps add depth to the story and the characters while also addressing some interesting social issues.  Overall, I think this film is so awesome because it is a wonderfully told story with solid, engaging characters and emotional depth.

And they are making a sequel!  With McAvoy, Fassbender, Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart!  All in one film!!  This could make me a huge X-Men fan. :)
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: One Night at the Abbey

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
One Night at the Abbey
(previously titled Carisbrooke Abbey)
by Amanda Grange

Plot Summary:

When Miss Hilary Wentworth takes up an appointment at Carisbrooke Abbey, little does she suspect it will lead her into a whirlwind of mystery and suspense. Her petulant employer, Lord Marcus Carisbrooke, is as enigmatic as one of the heroes from her favorite Gothic romance novels. Yet behind his gruff manner she senses a deep and abiding pain. As Marcus's brittle exterior dissolves, Hilary catches a glimpse of the man beneath. But when she discovers the secret that haunts the Abbey, it puts them both in terrible danger - a danger they might never escape.

Review:

I read this novel because it is inspired by Jane Eyre, and as a retelling it does a great job.  The character development is a little shallow, and the romance starts quickly, but Hilary is a strong, intelligent character who is clearly the kind of woman Marcus Carisbrooke needs.  And for once both Hilary and Marcus are described as not very pretty/handsome!  Just like in Jane Eyre.  The story does follow the basic plot of Jane Eyre, but there are many interesting changes and ideas that kept the story fresh and suspenseful.  Marcus Carisbrooke's secret was especially unpredictable and a brilliant change totally in keeping with the character.  And it is a secret that could definitely keep the two apart.

Although Hilary and Marcus's love runs deep too quickly for my taste, there is a lot of chemistry and tension, and it makes a very enjoyable read.  There is another mystery in this story than just Marcus's secret, and it makes a wonderful addition to the story.  I absolutely couldn't put the book down during the final few chapters.  This story is well-written, romantic suspense with enough inventive twists to distinguish it from most straightforward Jane Eyre retellings.

Seventh book of ten in the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Uberlord

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Uberlord
by Mark Anderson Esquire

Plot Summary:

Mymy, the porn star. Able, the hacker, Yoshi, the retired corporate ninja.

Three unconnected people whose lives lead them down a rabbit hole of conspiracy, danger and terrifying truths.

Haven't you heard yet? The world is owned - bought and paid for, and those in control are not happy with the rest of us. Not happy at all.

Project Uberlord has started. Our time draws to a near.

Review:

I was really impressed by how well the three main characters carry the story.  The story of how Mymy, Able and Yoshi's became involved with the Uberlord conspiracy is masterfully intertwined, until they all finally meet and get to the bottom of the mystery.  The characters are also extremely well-written and fleshed out - the author seems to have done a lot of research behind the three character's complex backstories and personalities.  Yoshi in particular is super cool with his ninja-y powers.  His methods were so simple and effective, he seemed almost like a superhero. The author must have also done a lot of research on conspiracy theories, that work very well in the story.

The story is well-written and engaging, but I never felt that the stakes were very realistic as the main characters seemed to get to the bottom of the conspiracy too easily.  There is a reason for it, but it is given very late in the story and I felt it worked against the paranoia and fear that should inform the atmosphere and pace of the story.  So for those reasons it is hard to suspend disbelief and really get into the world of the novel.  And the resolution felt a little rushed and flat, especially compared to the power and planning that went into the conspiracy.  But for the fact that the story is fast-paced and has incredibly likable and interesting characters I still would highly recommend this novel.

review copy was kindly provided by the author


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Suspense Sundays (23)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  




"The Lodger"
Air date: July 22, 1940
Starring Herbert Marshall
The Lodger in question is austere, religious fanatic Mr. Sleuth who takes a room with Mr. and Mrs. Bunting while a slew of murders are occurring throughout London. The murderer seems to kill women with loose morals (= taking a drink once in a while it seems) so the police think the killer is a religious maniac.... Mr. Sleuth seems very suspicious. When the Bunting’s daughter Daisy comes to stay after a time in boarding school, Mrs. Bunting especially gets very nervous.

This is the very first episode of Suspense - featured as a pilot and was not picked up for another two years. It’s directed by Alfred Hitchcock who shot a silent film of this story in 1927. There are two things that distinguish this story - it was recorded in front of a live audience, which was very cool because you can hear the audience’s collective gasp in the end, and the ending is kind of a disappointment/weird. It kind of just ends, and all the actors talk to each other as themselves discussing the ending of the story. They ask Hitchcock to reveal the solution but he doesn’t. It seems the story this is based on has an ambiguous ending. It’s too bad, the buildup and development of this story is so well done.