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


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Septemb-Eyre: Jane Eyre Readalong Kick-off post

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,

Kerry @ Entomology of a Bookworm is hosting a readalong of my favorite book, (which I already reviewed with gifs here) so I just had to join in.  I've never participated in a readalong, period, so I think this is the perfect opportunity to start.  Especially since I haven't reread Jane Eyre fully in awhile and have been longing to do so!

The schedule breakdown:

September 2nd (I'm early): Kick-off post, introductions, why you're reading, etc.
September 9th: Chapters I-XI
September 16th: Chapters XII-XXI
September 23rd: Chapters XXII-XXIX
September 30th: Chapters XXX-End

Even though I'm also doing Classics Retold next month, spreading out the readings for the whole month should make it pretty easy to keep up.  I hope.  Obviously I'm participating because I love the book, but I'm also eager to share the experience with others - some who have never read the book before, so that will be interesting!  I should find out if they know the twist in the story beforehand actually...

As for plans, I just hope to have a lot of fun with this - I'm not sure in what form my weekly update posts will take but it's probably going to be mostly silly.  You have been warned.   And I will probably find new things to love about this book after reading it with other people!
Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Masque of the Red Death

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Masque of the Red Death
by Bethany Griffin

Plot Summary:

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

Review:

When I first started reading this book, I was wondering where this story was going.  I knew that it was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story so I wondered how it could be turned into a fully fledged YA series.  The book was a pleasant surprise because there is quite a lot of plot, but I don't know if it was entirely successful.

The world-building seemed too summary for me, I believe there must be more answers in the next books, but I felt that there was so little in this one, that it made it hard for me to immerse myself in the story.  I'm especially curious as to the nature of these masks: why it protects only one, why is it alright to take it off indoors (or were they always supposed to wear it indoors, I wasn't sure), and why don't they need to disinfect their clothes and themselves if they've come from the outdoors in? I may have been thinking a little too much about the pathology of this disease.  There were a few other things that were too sketchily drawn for me - like how this world functions when it seemed like almost everything is shut down.  And for Elliott's plan - who was bankrolling that? I thought it would take quite a bit of money to pull off what he wanted to pull off.  It was just a little hard to picture this world at times.

Araby Worth was pretty apathetic for most of this book which was due to the loss of someone close to her, and so very understandable, especially in this bleak post-apocalyptic world, but it's not a characteristic I like to see in my female heroines.  Her voice is very straightforward and matter of fact in this book which also might explain why there was so little said about the world-building in the way of descriptions.  I think I was just a little put off as well by how quickly she trusted certain people around her, and how quick she was to betray others who were closer to her.  I just didn't feel as sympathetic to her character and I wanted her to take more control.

The two men that are presented in the love triangle were probably the best part of this book.  I had such strong sympathies for Will that when there's a certain twist near the end of the book I was pretty shocked.  I was sympathetic with Elliott for a time as well although he's not as trustworthy, but he has gone through some terrible things, and the way the author hints at his past was very well done because I really wanted to know more.

While the idea of this book was very exciting, and I loved the insidious horror of the plot, I was not as moved by the main character as I would have wished, and I wanted just a few more answers to really flesh out this world for me.  I can understand why people have enjoyed this book - it is very fast paced and darkly atmospheric with a lot of mystery and perhaps I will enjoy the series as a whole when I have all the answers.


I won this book as part of Cuddlebuggery's LBBA

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Crown of Midnight Launch Party

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
On Tuesday I went to the launch party for the amazing sequel to Throne of Glass - Crown of Midnight - and had such a fantastic time!  I met up with Paola from A Novel Idea and also Stacie from Fairy Book Mommies and it was so fun to talk books with them while waiting for the event to start.  And I may have gotten some chocolate cake (okay I did, but only a little bit.  Really!)  Sarah J. Maas came and gave her very informal and personable talk about how she came to write the Throne of Glass series (very inspiring actually - since she's been writing it since high school!), Paola and I squee-ed that she's such a Disney fan, and I found it so touching and cool that she has a first edition of Throne of Glass that she has people at her book signing stops sign for her.  Such a lovely idea.  Oh and I discovered that day that the series is going to be more than 3 books, to which I was both elated and dismayed.  Elated because YAY MOAR! And dismayed because that's just more emotional distress to go through.  I just want need a happy ending for everyone!

Sarah also talked about her new, upcoming NA series - A Court of Thorns and Roses which has a blend of the fairy tales "Beauty and the Beast", "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" and "Tam Lin" which sounds A Mazing!  And she promises a little bit of sexy times and a very hot "Beast". :D  It comes out in 2015 though which makes me sad; it's so depressing to hear about these awesome books and then have to wait for them.

Sarah's trying out a new slogan in the first pic - works?
There was also a Q&A of course, and when there was a question about what books Sarah has been reading lately she mentioned Melina Marchetta!  What, she writes amazing stories and has fantastic taste? Well, that's it, Sarah's now one of my favorite people EVER.  An audible reaction came from Paola and I (actually we high-fived), and Paola told her we even had our copies of Finnikin of the Rock with us! (for reasons)  And Sarah told us her story of meeting Melina at Comic Con and not being able to control her feels while meeting her and it happened more than once (and totally sounds like something that will happen to me!).  So fun to fangirl over Melina with Sarah, and Sarah said Paola and I were her spirit animals and then I woke up, and then I died.  But seriously because she's such a fan and such a wonderful author I wanted her to sign my copy of Finnikin of the Rock, and she wrote a little note to Melina.  So yay, I have something to talk to Melina about if I ever get to meet her and not just babble senselessly!  And I hope I didn't do too much of that while talking to Sarah.  But she's so cool, she understands fangirl attacks!  I mean, Sarah hasn't started reading Quintana of Charyn yet because she's not sure if she's ready for it! Just like us!! (By the way if you are looking to read,  re-read or just post about Finnikin of the Rock, Paola and I are planning a Finnikin event for October!)

Paola and I waited until we were the last ones at the book signing - maybe to monopolize her, I'm not saying yes, I'm not saying no - but personally I was glad that there weren't as many people to hear us squee!  We talked to Sarah about Crown of Midnight things (I couldn't get spoilery though - I had trouble repressing all the things I wanted to say about the emotional overload of this book!), Finnikin feels, how the chocolate cake was yummy at the launch party, and how Paola is a warrior for driving for three hours just to see her! (EDIT: 3 hours and 48 min!)  There was probably more things, and please visit Paola's blog for her recap of the awesomeness of this event, cause I don't even know what I was doing half the time!  Seriously this was the most fun I've ever had at a book signing - partly because of meeting the awesome Paola (who totally complements my fangirly side!), and also because Sarah was so cool, funny and lovely to talk to!  And now she totally looks like Celaena Sardothien in my head!  I wonder if she has secret assassin skills....

Good times!
Um, so if you haven't read this series, I shouldn't have to tell you that I highly recommend it, right?  Check out my reviews of - Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight

Thank you Paola for "forcing" me to read it! :D

And Stacie is giving away a signed copy of Crown of Midnight! Check out the giveaway and event recap here!
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (53) Dorian Gray

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

An Awesome Adaptation of a Satire
Title: Dorian Gray
Adapted from: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I love the wit and writing of Oscar Wilde and while The Picture of Dorian Gray is a Gothic drama exploring aestheticism that devolves into debauchery and violence and is not exactly light-hearted, it is full of thought-provoking commentary on human nature and the impulses people have that they feel they need to hide.  The movie emphasizes the darkness of the tale, and becomes almost like a horror movie, while still retaining the humor in the observations, especially with Lord Henry Wotton's droll, thoughtless and charming personality.   It's an interesting mixture, and definitely interesting to highlight the ugliness in Dorian Gray's character visually.

The story is so compelling because Dorian starts off an innocent, and we see his character grow more decadent and debauched all because he can hide it and there are no consequences to his actions.  It's a fascinating, satrical commentary on what really limits human wickedness. I thought this film did a great job in capturing these sides to the story, while reimagining the narrative in a darker, more modern way.  It isn't perfect, but the thought-provoking storyline with such a great cast of actors makes this a highly intriguing adaptation of a fantastic book.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Crown of Midnight

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)
by Sarah J. Maas

Plot Summary:

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

Review:

The first book in this series, Throne of Glass, was an amazing, action-packed adventure, and I was eager to see where the author would take the sequel, and how many more trials Celaena would have to endure.  The answer is much more.  It's one of the things that is so amazing about this book - how the author continually challenges her characters with bigger dilemmas, and more seemingly insurmountable difficulties.  And Celaena continues to amaze me as a character.  She strongly adheres to her own moral code, but there is a fear in her that becomes integral to the plot of this story and also is a turning point in both the story and her character.  Whether she'll embrace her essential role is debated, and makes for some very heart-breaking plot developments.  I was so not ready for the complete beating my heart took during this story.  Reader beware!  Guard your heart!

There's also the matter of the love triangle which I was glad to see was pretty quickly resolved.  There's such a gorgeous romance brewing in this story and I loved reading about Celaena's relationship and how the romance affected their characters. And even though one guy may have been picked over the other, both are still so important to the story. It's still a team of three, which I was happy for because I like the dynamic of Celaena, Dorian and Chaol together.  And while the story revolves around Celaena for the most part, Dorian and Chaol are both going through their own trials and the author flips through the different points of view of these characters effortlessly.

There's a sense of power and danger in Celaena that makes her one of my favorite heroines ever.  I love how she is truly the strongest character in the story, in terms of skill, and everyone is wary of her.  It's just fun to have a female heroine who can deliver and who does not let emotion or second thoughts get in her way.  Sometimes you just want a bad character to die a horrible death and you don't want them to get a second chance.  They don't deserve it!  And with Celaena also investigating the return of magic and so many secrets, she's just a ridiculously capable heroine.  Not perfect, but able to come through when it's important.

This second installment of the Throne of Glass series expands on the world of Erilea and brings out so much more in the story and the characters and the emotions.  It's a glorious read, and one that is emotionally addictive - I just didn't want to stop reading!

I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.


Amazon  Goodreads

On Thursday I hope to post all about the Crown of Midnight launch party that is happening today!!  Some fangirling with Paola at A Novel Idea is bound to happen!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Throne of Glass

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas

Plot Summary:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Review:

This story is all about the strong heroine!  She's beautiful, smart, extremely skilled in the deadly arts and she owns all of those accomplishments.  She doesn't have self-esteem issues or worries she doesn't deserve what she has, but she is also charming,  compassionate and with a great sense of humor.  She's self-assured and so likable.  I think this story starts off so strongly because Celaena is immediately in a position where she needs to prove herself again.  And while the reader knows she's an accomplished and deadly assassin, we can find out so much about the strength of her character as she has to rebuild herself after a year as a prisoner of the salt mines.  And she attacks every challenge without hesitation, determined to succeed.  This alone makes me love this story so much, but there's much more to it.

The fantasy world-building is highly detailed.  The map in the beginning of the book helps to work out all the places that is mentioned in the book, and how they relate to the characters.  The places that these characters come from are important to the story, and to how it affects the politics of the land and the way certain characters must act.  I loved how in depth the history of Erilea felt without dragging down the narrative.  It added so much more depth to the characters and gives some hints of more complex plot developments in the next books.  Celaena's past especially is clouded in mystery and seems to be a very important piece to the puzzle.

While the plot initially revolves around the competition to become the King's champion, and there are plenty of books where that would have been more than enough to create a satisfying story, this book also weaves in a murder mystery with the mysterious deaths of many champion hopefuls.  Celaena tries to unravel that mystery, while also working to hold her own in the competition which made this book so hard to put down.  I think there were aspects to the mystery that seemed obvious and there were a couple of times where I knew Celaena was making a big mistake, but because the mystery ties into yet a third plot point of the novel - one revolving around Erilea's magical past, I thought the whole of it was well done.  There was so much going on in this story and I loved how everything tied together.

Last but not least, there are two cute boys in this book!  It's another love triangle, but boy was I not disappointed in it!  Prince Dorian and Chaol Westfall are both invested in Celaena to become the champion - one because he picked her and the other because he's training her, and both start to have feelings for her.  What I found interesting was how Celaena didn't really worry about choosing between the two, but was happy to spend time with one or the other, whichever one was there.  It might sound callous but it's not when you read it because she's not emo and she has bigger things to worry about.  Way bigger.  So there were two reasons why I enjoyed the triangle - the first because Celaena didn't worry herself very much over it, and the second because Dorian and Chaol are fantastic potentials - one charming and romantic and the other strong and devoted.  I think Celaena's decision is terribly difficult and I'm not even sure who I root for!

I love stories where the heroine literally kicks ass, and Celaena is powerful and dangerous but likable, with very human weaknesses, and I thought her story was so compelling, lively and entertaining.

Tomorrow I'll be reviewing the 2nd book "Crown of Midnight"!
Sunday, August 25, 2013

Suspense Sundays (59) My Wife Geraldine

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  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.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"My Wife Geraldine"
Air date: March 1, 1945
Starring Edward G. Robinson and Jeanette Nolan
>>Episodes here<<

Miss. Barton finds her lodger Mr. Graham sitting in the dark in his rooms while the police are closing in around him.  Miss. Barton wants to know if it's true he's the Black Widower and killed his wife and the other women before.  Even though Miss Barton can't believe it because he had seemed so in love with his wife Geraldine. So Mr. Graham makes Miss Barton promise to keep a secret.  That Geraldine is gone but only because she never existed.

All that summary was just in the prologue of this episode, and right when Mr. Graham reveals his wife never existed, I knew this was going to be a good episode.  And it was!  Actually pretty sweet when it comes to the end, and I really love the suspense stories that sort of have a happy ending.  It's funny how Mr. Graham gets into his predicament - his need to pretend that he does have a wife only because the guys he goes to work with on the train are always talking about their wives and he didn't want to be left out.  And then it escalates because his boss wants to promote him, with the stipulation that he is married.  I mean he has to bring in a marriage license for the promotion!  You can't be trusted to do a good job at work and be single? Geez.  By the end I felt pretty sorry for Mr. Graham, he seemed like such a nice guy, it's a wonder that he didn't get a wife before!  But like I said there's a happy ending, and this was such a great episode overall!
Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Sapphire Blue

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy #2)
by Kerstin Gier

Plot Summary:

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Review:

This second book in the series picks up right where the first left off, and in my review of the first book, I did mention how the series really seemed like one big book (because the first book just ended) and this book continues that feeling.  The story keeps building, with Gwen finding out more about the secrets everyone might be keeping and also with more hints about Gwen's future actions being dropped.  I found that element to be particularly intriguing as there was one scene in the first book where Gwen witnesses her future self, and I really can't wait for those scenes to be worked into the (final?) book to show the complete picture.  I also love how in one part of the book Gwen visits St. Germain out of order, and he gives hints about their conversation (for him it's the day before, and for her it's tomorrow) and how that sets up expectations for their scene.  It's one of the things that I love about time travel stories - getting the pieces and having them put together so cleverly to create the full story.

Gwen and Gideon's romance is still on tenterhooks, especially because they don't know if they can trust each other, but I loved reading it play out and even enjoyed sometimes disliking Gideon but always coming around  and understanding his point of view.  They have a difficult relationship and I think it's great that they aren't immediately 100% devoted to each other.  But I can't wait for Charlotte to get her comeuppance!  There's also a new character in this book - the gargoyle Xemerius - and while at first I thought he was a little annoying, I came around to his character very quickly and found that I really enjoyed all the scenes he's in!  He's so snarky and forthright, and surprisingly helpful!

This series is such a fun and absorbing read, with great characters, and interesting teen drama, that even though there were slight pacing issues I had in the middle, still so many unanswered questions, and an ending that still doesn't give a complete story feel to these books,  I have high hopes for the third book and I can't wait to read it!  I feel like because there's so much that still needs to be explained, the last book is just going to be jam-packed with action and plot twists!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Guest Post: My Writing Space

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Thank you Shauna Bickley, author of Lies of the Dead, for sharing your thoughts on writing and your new book with my blog!

Guest Post: My Writing Space

Huge thanks to Charlene for giving me this opportunity to tell you a little bit about my writing space and my latest book, Lies of the Dead.

I was born and brought up in England, but now live ‘down under’ in Auckland, New Zealand. Every once in a while I try and count the number of houses we’ve lived in – it’s a lot, and I usually give up.

For my day job I write non-fiction books and materials for training workshops, and for the past five years I’ve worked for myself and mostly from home.

My writing space changes with each of our moves, and the size varies depending on available space.

I guess because we’ve moved so often I’m not that fixated about having specific things around me. At the moment I actually have the luxury of my own small office – the spare bedroom! It’s useful for doing admin type things and closing the door when the rest of the world is noisy, but I don’t find it very good for being creative.

My favourite place is the dining table – the living area is large and we have ranch sliders (French windows) leading out to a sunny deck, so the room is light and airy and I have a view of the sea from there.

My must haves are my laptop, my office chair and quiet. I’m definitely not a writer who can work with lots of noise around.

I started writing my current novel when we lived in our previous house, which was very small. I mostly sat on the couch with the laptop on my knee. I finished the book after we moved here, sitting at the dining table and staring out of the window at the view! Good for creative thought, but not necessarily for productivity.

Lies of the Dead is a mystery/suspense tale about three siblings, Tom, Andi and Liam. What Liam has done is the focus of the story, but the narrative is from Tom and Andi’s viewpoint as they try to discover why their younger brother killed himself.

Here is a little about the book.

What would you risk to find the truth?

How well do we know those closest to us? When Liam kills himself, his older brother Tom needs to know why suicide was the only solution.

Tom, and his sister Andi, search for answers but don't know who they can believe? Are Liam's friends and associates the people they claim to be? Tom and Andi are propelled into a world where their ideas of right and wrong don't exist, and where people demand what neither of them possesses.

Liam's legacy of deceit is dangerous, and when Andi and her twin daughters are threatened, Tom realises that truth may have too high a price.

If you like mystery/suspense books on the not-so-gruesome end of the scale I hope you enjoy Lies of the Dead.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (52) Jekyll

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

An Awesomely Twisted Adaptation
Title: Jekyll
Adapted from: Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Before Steven Moffat turned his awesome writing skills to modernizing Sherlock, he modernized Jekyll and Hyde, making modern-day Jekyll an unfortunate ancestor of the original.  Unfortunate in that his darker side is more hereditary instead of the result of a potion and it comes upon Jekyll suddenly.  The story line doesn't have many parallels with the original novel other than the basic transformation, and while Jekyll is your basic good character, with a family and good intentions, Hyde is the very twisted part of this adaptation as he is remarkably creepy and unnerving.  His physical appearance doesn't change all that much, but his personality becomes smooth, cruel, unpredictable, and violent.  Of course he has super strength and agility and keener senses too.  As Hyde he is more animalistic and watching what he does makes this show pretty mesmerizing.  I think it's fun how this series teases out expectation and suspense by setting up scenes where people cross or threaten Hyde, unaware of his power.  

The sheer unpredictable way this story unfolds adds to sense of unease this story thrives on - because there is much more to the series than the Jekyll and Hyde transformation - there's a security team that monitors Jekyll for mysterious reasons and the reason why Jekyll transforms and his past presents some very unique and intriguing ideas.

This series has so much to offer - it can be scary and disturbing (not so bad as most horror films today though), there's a really touching love story at it's heart and some genuinely surprising and unexpected twists and turns.  Hyde especially is just not what you think he'll be.  Pretty much each episode ending didn't go where I thought it would go.  The only sad thing about this series is that it was possibly due for a second season which somehow never happened, so the viewers are left with a few questions in the end.  
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Ruby Red

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy #1)
by Kerstin Gier

Plot Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended - and rather eccentric - family in an exclusive London neighborhood.  In spite of her ancestors' peculiar history, she's had a relatively normal life so far.  The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn't been introduced to "the mysteries," and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesley.  It comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden uncontrolled leaps into the past.

She's totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart.  He's obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she's seen in any century...

Review:

I picked up Ruby Red because it has lots of things that I love. Time travel, romance and English history.  And it delivered on all those things while surprising me with its wit and humor.  Seriously Gwen is such a fun narrator, especially more so because she is not prepared for the crazy things that happen to her. Gwen's family life adds to the humor and the interest because she lives in a gorgeous upscale home with her grandmother, her immediate family and her aunts and cousin.  Oh and they have a butler!  The modern setting with such old fashioned values fits in with the secret society of time travelers that Gwen is involved in and all this created a world that was believable and fascinating.  With the rules to the time traveling gene being both wonderful and a pain.  I love that because it adds a level of realism - especially when comparing Gwen's obligation to the freedom her cousin Charlotte has now that she doesn't have to worry about randomly time traveling.

The romance between Gwen and Gideon was very unsure at first, and I thought the author developed it wonderfully - with the reader never really knowing Gideon's true feelings or intentions.  And there is a love triangle of sorts in that Gideon may have feelings for Gwen's cousin Charlotte, so that is an interesting angle to take.  Gideon is a fun character to explore as well - he can be sarcastic and changeable and I think there is still much to find out about him through this story.  There's another love story that is detailed in this book - between Lucy and Paul, and while we only get glimpses of it, it is definitely important to the narrative arc, and I look forward to finding out more about their characters.

There is one other aspect about this story that I really adored - everything with Gwen and her best friend Lesley.  So often in YA novels, when something supernatural or extraordinary happens to the main character, all of that character's old friends are left by the way side, but in this book it doesn't hurt Gwen and Lesley's friendship and the fact that Gwen had someone she could share everything that happened to her was awesome.  Especially fun was every time Lesley suggested they rent the DVD to solve some problem (like not knowing about a particular time period).

The logistics of the secret society, time traveling and Gwen getting to know Gideon made up most of this book, which I mention because this book just ends.  There's not really a cliffhanger, and no sense that this book is only set-up for the series, but this book felt like the first part of a three part tome.  Although I prefer each book in a series (or at least the first book in a series) to feel like a complete story, I didn't mind the ending of this book as much because I just went into the second book right away.

This book is a fun, engrossing read with strong characters and a great new approach to someone carrying a time traveling gene. A must read!
Amazon  Goodreads

P.S. There's a German film adaptation of this and it's OUTRAGEOUS it's not released globally!!
Monday, August 19, 2013

Film Review: Austenland

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
All the way back in January of this year, I blogged about an awesome forthcoming adaptation and now, finally, I've seen it!  I also kinda reviewed (more fangirled over) the Shannon Hale book on my blog before, so I've been excited for this film for awhile.

So far I've seen it once, and I plan to see it a few more times because here's the thing: going into an adaptation of your favorite book you are bound to have a few expectations that are disappointed once you see it.  And there were some things that I was a little iffy on in this film, but I'm still open to thinking that it's only because I was expecting something different or closer to the novel.  I know they have to change things to suit the new medium and to make the story flow better on the screen.  So maybe after I see it again, some of these things won't bother me.  But I did really enjoy this film, and overall I think it's an excellent adaptation so I don't want to gloss over that fact!

Some of the changes:

The prologue of the film was one of the things I wasn't particularly enamored with - the whole introduction to Jane Hayes.  I felt like I identified with her much more in the book as a 30-something fangirl than in the film - where her fangirling felt more over the top and far too much like she was an infatuated teenager.  It felt a little too ridiculous and I almost felt like it put too much of a negative spin on being a fangirl.

About Martin.  I think Bret Mckenzie was very good and charming, but by trying to establish his connection with Jane so quickly there came some really cheesy scenes between them.  That kinda turned me off from that storyline - I just wanted to move on.  And I thought Martin in the book was really very sweet.  I think Martin didn't come off as believable as I found him in the book.

Now Miss Heartwright.  In the film she had an edge to her, which I actually liked, she was a little aggressive, and eager to show off but there was this awkwardly buoyant side to her - sort of over doing her acting which just didn't fit in very well.  Mostly just because I was so confused with why.  It seemed like the only point was to create some humorous moments when I would rather it was made important through character.  There's a little more back story for her, though which was interesting.

The very very end of Austenland was funny and it was great to see what everyone was up to, but ... I don't know.  I need someone who has seen this to tell me what they thought because while I can see why they added it, it just delegitimizes so much about this Austen theme park idea.

The Awesome:

Now for what I loved about the film - Kerri Russell was awesome as Jane - it's established that she really just wants her Regency romance, yet she knows that Austenland is a bit silly and I think the way she was unprepared for everything that happened to her was so well done.  I also loved Colonel Andrews and Captain East - both particularly over the top characterizations but they were fun, and I thought were good for adding that fantasy aspect to Austenland.  They are caricatures of wish fulfillment in Austenland (which in a way Mr. Nobley is as well but he has a bit more depth to him) and the humor that that brought out was just right.

Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Charming was just perfect!   Just the right amount of exaggerated brashness and heart that made you love everything she did and said.  I loved that she was not there because she's an Austen fan, but just for the men.  I wish there was a little more to her backstory like there was with Miss Heartwright, which would have really brought out Miss Charming's character I think.   At least given her a shade more depth.  Her friendship with Jane was such a nice touch though, and I thought it brilliant they arrived at Austenland together - it gave their characters a real sense of camaraderie.

Of course JJ Feild stood out for me in this film (hopefully not because I'm already a fan of his - I'd like to think I'm a little more fair-minded!) but he is just so sweetly uptight and so perfect as Mr. Nobley. Instead of his being a veteran actor in Austenland like in the book, this is his first time taking part and his disdain for the acting that goes on made for some really funny one-liners.  He's aloof and mysterious and of course that's so attractive!  Especially when his aloofness has nothing to do with his feeling superior but only because he is so uncomfortable.  Probably my favorite line in the film (and there's something about the way JJ delivered it!) was when he tells Jane that she doesn't annoy him, she makes him nervous.  So perfect.  There's also an antagonism between Nobley and Martin set up right away and that was much fun too. And the added scenes where you see the actors taking breaks really brought so much to giving a backstory to these characters and I loved seeing how they interacted.


Bottom Line: 

Where I think the film differs the most from the novel is in how everything is much more unsubtle.  It's still funny and romantic and a celebration of Austen romance, but some of the characters hit you over the head with their quirkiness.  I love this story so much though, and so many scenes played out just how I wanted them to (OMG Airport fight!!) that I still recommend this film to everyone.  And make sure to stay for the little scene over the credits.  It's almost the best part of the film!


In early September the film is showing in a city a little closer to me, so I'll be seeing it then and I plan to add a postscript to this post if I have any new thoughts on the film!
Sunday, August 18, 2013

Suspense Sundays (58) Drury's Bones

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  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.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Drury's Bones"
Air date: January 25, 1945
Starring Boris Karloff
>>Episodes here<<

A man wakes up one day with no memory of who he is or what happened to him, and with only two theatre tickets to Drury Lane in his pocket.  Scotland Yard tries to help him but he really can't remember anything so what do they do with him? Why give him a job of course.  After a few years, he becomes a detective and is sent to investigate the unearthing of a skeleton in a small seaside town.  Terrence Drury as he is now called, finds some memories are coming back to him, and while he finds out that a husband and wife used to live in the house where the skeleton was found, he is afraid that he was that husband and he killed and buried his wife.

Again another wonderful premise from Suspense!  The idea of the murderer having to investigate his own crime. (Or is it? You'd have to listen to the episode to find out.)  It's very sporting of Terrence to continue with the investigation regardless of the result purely because he wants to know the truth.  While I didn't quite see the twist that came in the end of this episode, it did fulfill my expectations of where the story would go, (still trying not to give away the ending here!) and I thought this was a great performance by Boris Karloff as well - definitely not the kind of role I'm used to hearing him do.
Friday, August 16, 2013

A to Z bookish survey

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
This is a great survey from Jaime at Perpetual Page Turner with some really fun questions, so I was eager to participate in this!  I've seen so many bloggers participating in this lately and I've been itching to join in, but I only had an opening in my schedule today.

I'm so glad of the opportunity to talk about lots of different books!

Author you’ve read the most books from:

According to the 'most read authors' Goodreads tab it is *drum roll* Agatha Christie! 60 books. I had to at least read all the Poirot novels!

Best Sequel Ever:

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta was particularly amazing.  No sequel slump there!

Currently Reading:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.  Paola from A Novel Idea! convinced me to start the series (and the author has a book signing we are going to at the end of August!!!) and I'm so glad I did, this series is fabulous!

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Hmm, I really like ice water but probably tea or hot chocolate when it starts getting cold out.

E-reader or Physical Book?

This is so sad, but right now, with the ease of holding and carrying an e-reader, I really prefer to read books on one.  Hardcover books lately are just so unwieldy. I need to get a book holder to read while I'm having a meal!

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Um, thanks to Paper Cuts, I'm in a Northanger Abbey mood, so I'll say sweet, teasing Henry Tilney. If you thought I would say Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, I'm obviously marrying him after high school.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. It has a lot that I like in a story, but with my large TBR pile it was kinda a whim that led me to read it recently.  And it was so good!! My review of the first and second book should be up next week.  And there's a German film adaptation of it, that I wish I could get my hands on!

Hidden Gem Book:

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale - such a gorgeous read, and I got so emotional over it!

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

I think it's when I picked up The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain the second time my freshman year of  high school.  The first time I must have been 10 or so, and I couldn't get into it, but when I picked it up again, I fell in love with the characters and the humor and with the excellent story development of Classic literature in general.  After that I started picking up a bunch of Classic novels. (which led me to Jane Eyre, but that's a whole other story.)

Just Finished:

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFever.  Still have to write my review, but it was very good!  Thanks to Audiobook Sync that I got a copy!

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Anything strongly political, war stories, gritty realism, overly religious

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray 848pp  I think - I'm too lazy to do the Goodreads thing and check.

Major book hangover because of:

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson.  SOO GOOD!! It made my heart hurt (a good kind of hurt) for days!

Number of Bookcases You Own:

3, and I definitely need more!

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Preferred Place To Read:

My room in my comfy chair.  I get too distracted outdoors.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

Well from a recent read this is probably my favorite quote from Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta:

"She remembers the nights you lay with her when she worried about something happening to you.  'What would I do without you?' she would cry.  Do you remember your response, Captain Trevanion? 'What needs to be done, Beatriss.'"


Something about that mantra "What needs to be done." (which is recurring in the book) and the inner strength needed to bear it really touches me.  I would love to have that kind of fortitude.

Reading Regret:

Probably that I'm not more well-read.  I would like to read more Classic literature (and I am participating in the 50 book Classics Club challenge so that's a start) because there are so many really great books I would like to read and appreciate.  YA books are so fun though and easy to get through!

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

Well the Lumatere Chronicles - but I'm waiting to finish Quintana of Charyn with some other bloggers so we can support each other through the pain of saying goodbye.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Melina Marchetta! I've only read a couple books by her, but I'm pretty much sure she's one of my favorite authors ever!

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Dangerous by Shannon Hale! YA superhero story from one of my favorite witty authors!

Worst Bookish Habit:

Is preferring to read over social interaction a bad habit??  I've cancelled plans with friends a few times just so I can finish a book... Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer came out on my birthday and I told my family that what I wanted to do on my birthday was stay home and read the book.  And I did. :)

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams.  Love me some Hitchhiker's Guide.

Your latest book purchase:

Last book was a physical copy of Finnikin of the Rock. Because of reasons.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier.  It takes awhile to get into it, but near the end I just HAD to finish it!
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Excerpt: You Are Mine

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
You Are Mine
by Janeal Falor

Plot Summary:

Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.

Book Excerpt: 

 The judge stands and looks, not at the Grand Chancellor like I'm expecting, but right at me. His eyes wide. “Dead.” The masses let out a cry. Some fall to their seats. Dead? How can he be dead? He's supposed to lord over me, not die. Can I really be free of him? My chest lightens.

Someone tugs on my arm. Cynthia. She forces me to drink the brew I avoided earlier. Then another. With shaking hands, she drinks one herself and helps me to my chair. Everything goes abnormally silent. The soothing concoction already sweeping through me. I grow distant from myself. The scene before me further away than ever.

The Envadi bends to the ground, his fingers swirling in the dirt. His lips move with words, but they don't carry, even in the silence. Once they stop, he brushes the dirt off and stares straight at me. Even from my distant state, goosebumps raise on my arms.

“Citizens.” The Grand Chancellor's voice draws my gaze. He stands, face void of expression. “We will all mourn the loss of Chancellor Thomas. He was a rising star, fated to leave his potential unfulfilled.” He pauses. “As our tournament rules dictate, Envadi Zade now becomes Master of all Chancellor Thomas had.” He holds his hand out to the Envadi. “Chancellor Zade.”

The Envadi is still watching me. He nods his head.

Suddenly, Father is yelling from the Grand Chancellor's box. “You will not have her!”

The words take a moment to find me through the muffle my world has become. As the significance of his words take hold, the field becomes splotched with black. I blink a few times. The whole world darkens.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (51) The Lion King

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

An Awesome Modernization of a Classic Story
Title: The Lion King
Adapted from: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

While I think it's not been directly stated that The Lion King is a take on Hamlet, there are enough similarities between the story for me to think of it as one.  And there's nothing wrong with that - they are both awesome stories.  Both have a King murdered by the Uncle and a Son who has to avenge his father's death but where Hamlet is a little bit of a downer (just a tiny bit), The Lion King delivers a heartwarming, life affirming story of duty and destiny and when sad tales have a happy ending, I'm always much more inclined to adore the story.

There's not much I have to say about one of Disney's greatest films - I think it's pretty clear that this is practically a masterpiece in story, animation and music.  And with the touching father/son relationship and the need to fulfill an important destiny at it's heart, this movie becomes so inspiring.  While the setting of the story is modern compared to Shakespeare (and also fantastical) I think by setting it in Africa with animals as the characters adds a certain timelessness to the story that appeals.  It's a story that everyone can identify with - not literally hopefully - but in needing that bigger scope to life, and in valuing your family and  friends.  It's lofty ambitions for an animated movie but the film pulls it off so well, with such a solid story and a main character with an important character arc.  I love this film obviously, and while Hamlet is a powerful story and of course perfect in it's own way, I think The Lion King refocuses some of the themes through the positive influence of family and friends and makes the story both moving and delightful.  Hakuna Matata guys!
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: Truly, Madly, Deadly

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Truly, Madly, Deadly
by Hannah Jayne

Plot Summary:

They Said It Was An Accident...

Sawyer Dodd is a star athlete, a straight-A student, and the envy of every other girl who wants to date Kevin Anderson. When Kevin dies in a tragic car crash, Sawyer is stunned. Then she opens her locker to find a note:

You're welcome.

Someone saw what he did to her. Someone knows that Sawyer and Kevin weren't the perfect couple they seemed to be. And that someone—a killer—is now shadowing Sawyer's every move...

Review:

This is classic teen thriller fare with a great chilling premise.  At least the selling point for me was the idea in the summary of finding such a simple, presumptive note in your locker after your boyfriend has died.  It's a great idea but on the whole, I think this book failed to deliver on the paranoid fear I was hoping to get.  And while I really think this is an entertaining book, good for something lightly sinister and intriguing, the two things that really disappointed me was Sawyer Dodd as a character and the fact that it's just way too easy to guess who the culprit is - almost from the first scene I knew who it had to be, and subsequent scenes only reinforced it.

Oh Sawyer, why were you feeding so much power to the killer?  I just didn't get why she wouldn't talk to someone about what was happening to her.  It didn't have to be authority, but her friends at least.  I kept coming back to that while I was reading, and it really made me less sympathetic to Sawyer's plight.  I wish there was something else to her character to make up for that, but her character felt too much like other angsty, misunderstood teenagers to really stand out.  To be honest I really didn't understand why everyone was so crazy about her.  I also didn't understand the unreasonable antipathy Maggie felt for Sawyer.  It seemed like Maggie had hidden reasons for her intense dislike of Sawyer, and at one time she said something that I thought would be important, but it wasn't brought up again at all.

The main male lead, Cooper was sadly flat and cardboard.  He seemed like he was just there to support Sawyer as needed, and although I really hope I won't go through the grief Sawyer did, I just didn't understand Sawyer's behavior and almost immediate attachment to Cooper after he says some nice things to her.  It might be her coping mechanism but it's so disappointingly superficial.

It's hard to tell how to review this book because I did read it quickly and I was interested in knowing how it would be resolved, but at the same time I was not very invested in the characters and I was pretty much high-fiving myself when I got to the reveal of the killer.  The story seemed disjointed because I was so clueless as to the motivations behind so many characters' actions.  So while this is a fast-paced read with an interesting story, it was pretty unmemorable for me.  If you don't figure out who the killer is, it would probably be much more enjoyable.


I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: The Dark Unwinding

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Dark Unwinding (The Dark Unwinding #1)
by Sharon Cameron

Plot Summary:

When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.

Review:

This book has a great atmospheric quality to it that is heightened by the resolutely logical voice of the main character, Katharine.  The Gothic and mysterious nature of the story is well balanced by the control that Katharine wishes to place on the estate and in her life, and I very much liked Katharine as a character and I was very sympathetic to her dilemma.  After being under her Aunt's thumb for so long, she comes into her own at Stranwyne and has a great character arc.

While there is a steampunkish side to the story, I felt it was largely pushed to the side in favor of the Victorian mystery.  But the mystery is weakened by the pace of the book, which deals so much with Katharine's exploration of the unfamiliar at Stranwyne.  From the organization of the place to her Uncle's eccentricities and the steampunk contraptions, there was much to describe but it made the story very uneven at times.  The romance between Katharine and Lane didn't help things either in my opinion.  Katharine's attraction to Lane seemed rather too cliche and Lane is the strong, silent type and he almost annoyingly adheres to that which put me off his character.  The misunderstandings and distrust between them in the beginning also felt too contrived especially when it was so obvious they were really into each other.  But with the ending of this book, I do feel like I could get to like Lane better, the resolution has a nice set-up for the next book in the series.

The historic time period and details seemed well-researched and added a lot of life to the story.  And even with the uneven pace, the story had a lot of suspense and disquieting moments, especially when it came to who was messing with Katharine's head.  The little eccentric family that surrounded Katharine's Uncle in the story were all endearing in their own ways, and I think this book has a great engaging cast of secondary characters.  With a mystery that was very difficult to figure out, and such interesting characters and world-building, this is an overall enjoyable book, and I'm definitely planning to continue with the series.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Suspense Sundays (57) My Own Murderer

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  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.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"My Own Murderer"
Air date: May 24, 1945
Starring Herbert Marshall, Norman Lloyd
>>Episodes here<<

Richard, a lawyer receives a visit from his kind of friend (seems more of a love/hate thing) by the name of Alan who has just done in his butler for trying to blackmail him.  The butler had some incriminating love letters from a married woman in his possession, and Alan couldn't let the butler get away with it.  Alan tells Richard he has to help him beat a murder rap, or he will go in for two murders instead of one.  Richard hides Alan and plans for Alan to be declared dead and assume a new identity.  But it seems like Richard might not be too keen for Alan to survive.

Well Alan seemed like a thoroughly unpleasant fellow - not sure why he has any friends or girlfriends - but that's another thing.  I'm not sure what the motivations for what some people were doing in this story was, the story seemed a bit rushed, as there were lots of things to get through.  I may have missed something actually as it seemed unexplained why Richard seemed to have it in for a particular doctor.  And then Alan seemed to have something in for him as well, but that is part of the surprise reveal in the end.  It was easy to guess what Richard was planning and the resolution was not very believable so the only thing I really liked about this episode was the irony of the title.
Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Supernaturally

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2)
by Kiersten White

Plot Summary:

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

Review:

I loved the first book in this series, Paranormalcy, especially because of how delightfully sassy Evie is, but in this book there were things that annoyed me about her character.  I realize in the first book she has less power because she has lived a pretty sheltered life, and in this book I think I expected her to have grown a little more, learned more from her experiences.  Yet in this book she is disappointingly indulgent and immature, and makes some pretty silly mistakes more than once.  Her boyfriend, Lend is such a nice guy and always there for her, that her treatment of him is pretty horrendous (even if Lend feels like he can tell her what to do sometimes) and then there is Jack.  His inclusion into the story is very important, but from the beginning I found him really annoying.  He's so smug and if it was backed up with good reasons for him to be so conceited I might not have found him so intolerable, but doing back flips and opening fairy doors is not that amazing.  And yet, in almost all of Evie's encounters with Jack, he forces her to do something she doesn't want to do, or puts her in a bad position, and Evie forgets her anger quickly because he's a lonely boy.  So annoying!!  Almost every decision Evie made, I was thinking 'Don't do it!  Why are you doing this?' because it was clear to me from her past experiences that it wasn't going to go well.  She hates faeries, and they are trying to kill her (possibly) and yet she's okay for a staycation in the faeries realms?  Ugh.

While there is a mystery brewing in the plot, the story mostly revolves around Evie's love life and work life, and I felt like very little actually goes on in this story.  It doesn't advance too much, although there are some interesting revelations made about Evie's past and the faerie realm.  The world-building is great still - I love the explanation and introduction of new paranormal creatures.  This book really seemed like a set-up for the last in the series, but I really hope Evie gets more sense knocked into her, so I can enjoy her witty narrative voice again.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Excerpt: INK - Fine Lines + Giveaway!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
INK - Fine Lines
by Bella Roccaforte

Plot Summary:

INK: Fine Lines follows the twisted path of Shay Baynes, an up-and-coming comic book artist. A horrific series of tragedies strike just as she’s finally about to hit it big.

When paranormal investigator McNab uncovers a pattern of disturbing coincidences it becomes clear that this is more than just a bout of bad luck.

Everyone’s in danger including Aiden & Eli who have divided Shay’s heart down the middle since childhood. McNab teams up with them to stop the killing before it’s too late for Shay!

***Warning this book contains adult language and situations.

Book Excerpt:

He’s let his caramel hair grow out to his shoulders. I love when his hair is longer. The t-shirt clinging to his muscles in all the right places is mesmerizing. He somehow looks both leaner and more substantial at the same time. Even though he’s only a little taller than I am, that’s never bothered me. His arms are so strong the way they hold me is sublime. When he smiles, his amber eyes sparkle with all the mystery of who Aiden Roth really is.

Realizing that I’m being lured like a moth to flame, I snap back on point. Don’t get soft Shay, stay strong. Don’t forget your anger; he won’t be here long. “You can’t just sneak into my house late at night.” My head lowers to hide the tears forming. “I could have killed you, thinking you were some kind of murderer.”

The corner of Aiden’s mouth tugs at a smile, and he raises an eyebrow playfully. “You mean with the deadly loofa?” He can no longer suppress a gentle laugh, reaching for the ‘weapon.’

“It’s not funny. How the hell did you get in here anyway?” I gather the strength to look at him and close my robe tighter, obstructing his view.

Aiden pulls a key from his jeans. “With my key, of course.” He slides it quickly back into his pocket.

“Remind me to change the locks again,” I say. “You shouldn’t be here. You need to leave.” I have to turn away from him and put some distance between us. Moving into the living room, leaning back on the arm of the couch, my arms folded defensively across my chest. My gaze is firmly fixed on the floor in front of me trying hard to focus on the hurt and anger, to suppress the sadness.

“Shay, don’t be like that. I just don’t want you to be alone on your birthday.” He comes and takes my hands in his. “I’ve missed you.” He leans into me, so close I can feel his breath. There’s a chemical reaction that happens when we are together. It’s so hard to resist. It seems that no matter how angry I am, my body succumbs to the warm hum he sends through me with his touch. He looks up from our hands to my eyes, searching for a glimmer of softening.

To push him back my hands rest on his chest. “That doesn’t work on me anymore. I‘m immune to the ‘soulful brown eyes’ bit.” I glare at him with all my bitterness. “My birthday never mattered to you before.” I catch myself sounding weak and have to take a breath to summon the new Shay who doesn’t put up with bullshit. “Why should it matter to you now?”

Aiden steps in closer again, putting his hands on my shoulders, His eyes are closed and he touches his forehead to mine. I can feel his heat, his strength, and his words are quiet and pleading. “No strings attached; just let me cook you dinner.” He allows a tinge of sadness through, as though I hurt him. “I brought your favorite: lamb chops, asparagus, and new potatoes seasoned just how you like them.”

My resolve is crumbling, the capacity for rational thought seeping away. Aiden dons an expectant smile as I take him in. His strong chiseled body, bronzed by the sun, his rugged jaw line, his kissable lips and his gorgeous golden eyes. All of that allows him the confidence to walk in and out of my life at his cruel convenience. He slides his hands down my arms, presses my fingers with his, and breathes into my ear, “Shay, no excuses, no promises; just a happy birthday.”

He brushes his lips against my ear, then down my neck. His breath on my skin sends a current down my spine bent on demolishing the barriers I have spent a year and half building in his absence. I quickly exhale to suppress a moan and push him away, sliding out from under him.

To escape him I walk into the kitchen, stopping to smile sadly at the flowers. All my favorites. My resolve is all but gone as I dip down to smell them.

Aiden slides in behind me, looping his arms around my waist. “Gardenias because I know how you love the scent.” He lays a gentle kiss on my shoulder. “Lilac because you loved to pick it for your mother when you were a little girl,” another kiss, “and gladiolas because I remember you telling me how they remind you that you can be different and beautiful.” He turns me around and gently glides his thumb on my cheek, pleading into my eyes with a touch of melancholy. “It doesn’t matter how near or far I am from you, you are always in my heart.”

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (50) Northanger Abbey

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

An Awesome Coming of Age Adaptation
Title: Northanger Abbey
Adapted from: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Just seeing the images for this adaptation when I looked for a picture to use for this post brought back so many wonderful memories of the first time I watched it.  I was not familiar at all with the story before seeing it, and I was in for such a pleasant surprise because while the story does have Jane Austen's signature ironic wit, Catherine Morland's romantic and exuberant tendencies was the perfect foil for the gently mocking attitude towards the melodrama of Gothic stories.  And I did read Jane Austen's novel after seeing this TV movie and was a bit disappointed in how the wry humor overpowered the optimistic, innocent voice of Catherine, and even the charming, teasing Henry Tilney played with such perfection by JJ Feild in the adaptation.

I do think this adaptation is slanted more towards bringing out the whimsical aspect in the story and is consequently more delightful and more satisfying as an experience than Jane Austen's cynical approach.  Catherine is very impressionable and innocent because her experience of life has come mostly from the over-the-top, dramatic Gothic romance novels she reads, and while believing that the novels can occur in real life, she gets into a few mortifying misunderstandings. Yet eventually she realizes her own perfect romance which only seemed to reinforce the idea that maybe these novels are not life ruiners.  (Sounds good to me!)

Catherine is the oldest of her large family and is very naive, but she comes into her own as she deals with false friends, first love, and heartbreak.  And she comes out just as sweet and endearing as she began and with someone who loves her for who she is.  This is one of my top TOP favorite period dramas because it's so engaging and winsome, marvelously acted and scripted and with a cheeky sense of humor.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: Blood of the Lamb: A Novel of Secrets

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Blood of the Lamb: A Novel of Secrets
by Sam Cabot (S.J. Rozan and Carlos Dews)

Plot Summary:

The Historian meets The Da Vinci Code in this exhilarating supernatural thriller set in Rome. Rival groups are searching for a document that holds a secret that could shatter the Catholic Church.

While in Rome, American Jesuit priest Thomas Kelly is called upon to reclaim a centuries-old document stolen from the Vatican. An enigmatic letter leads him to the work of a 19th century poet, where Thomas discovers cryptic messages that might lead to the missing manuscript. His search is unexpectedly entwined with that of Italian art historian Livia Pietro, who tells him that destructive forces are threatening to expose the document’s contents. As they’re relentlessly chased through the heart of Rome by mysterious men who quickly demonstrate they would cross any line to obtain the document for themselves, it becomes clear to Livia and Thomas that the pages hold a deep, devastating, long-buried truth. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: she and her People are vampires. But all this pales in light of the Secret that Thomas and Livia discover together—a revelation more stunning than either could have imagined.

Review:

This book had all the components of a potentially enthralling thriller.  The history seemed well researched and the authors' use an interesting time period to highlight the historical unrest between the Italians and the vampires.  Because the book seemed so well researched I think this book was a really informative look into Italy and Italian culture.  The history of the Noantri (or the vampires) was very well set-up with a realistic approach of an almost scientific explanation for their existence.  I really liked the culture the authors created for their vampires.

Where I was disappointed was in the pacing and ultimately the construction of the story.  It begins strongly, but once Livia and Father Kelly start unravelling Damiano's clues, the action is very repetitive.  A new riddle, a new church and someone always trying to get them.  And to make the story even more tiresome and halt the flow at key moments there was a subplot introduced with the local police force - on the periphery of the mystery and generally putting forth erroneous theories as to the criminals vandalizing these churches.  There really didn't seem to be a point to the lengthy inclusion of these police characters.

My feelings towards the main characters were mixed.  Livia Petro, the intelligent and logical Noantri, was an excellent lead - wryly humorous at times and sympathetic.  She needed to enlist the help of Father Kelly who is reluctant to involve himself with vampires and while Father Kelly is equally intelligent, his intolerance and immediate judgement of the Noantri was tiresome at best and to me seemed at odds with the way his character had been first presented.  He seemed so understanding and open-minded, especially in how he came to terms with his religion.  But in the end I do think the authors' message about tolerance was good - I just felt too disappointed in Father Kelly in the beginning to warm up to his character.

There were a couple subplots and a very creative religious scavenger hunt but the intrigue felt flat many times so that even the twists in the end seemed bland.  Except for the one twist which was pretty shocking and probably controversial.  But the idea of it was so interesting, I wish that was how I felt about the rest of this book.

I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.