I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: Castles

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Castles (Crown Spies #4)
by Julie Garwood
Historical Romance
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Orphaned and besieged Princess Alesandra knew that only hasty marriage to an Englishman could protect her from the turmoil in her own land. To the amusement of her makeshift guardian, Colin, younger brother of the Marquess of Caineswood, the bold raven-haired beauty instantly captivated London society. But when Alesandra was nearly abducted by her unscrupulous countrymen, the fighting instincts that won Colin a knighthood for valor were rekindled.

Deceiving himself that he wanted only to protect her, Colin swept her into a union meant to be a marriage in name alone ... yet Alesandra's tender first kiss and hesitant caress ignited a wildfire in his soul. As the lovely princess dashed headlong into unforeseen dangers, Colin would follow, knowing he must claim her as his own forever. Now he would risk life itself before he would lose this sweet, tempestuous angel ...


Castles is a lovely romantic story with a little mystery and a quietly sassy heroine.  Alesandra keeps tries to act with decorum and it's not always easy, but she is very smart and figures out ways to get what she wants.  I enjoyed reading about a heroine who wasn't too outspoken or confident, but was not a pushover and could hold her own against the forceful personality of Colin.

Colin was a total alpha male, and a great match for Alesandra, even though I sometimes felt like Colin could be a little too overbearing and harsh.  But he did soften in time (as of course he had to!) and it was very sweet to see how Alesandra changed him for the better.  Both of them had their insecurities that they worked through and I love that their romance developed somewhat slowly.

I also loved that the secondary characters felt fleshed out and added to the story - even the smaller characters felt like a big part of Alesandra and Colin's development, and it was great to see how much they added to the plot.

The story has a mystery that is pretty predictable, and because it figured so little into the main plot, it was a little jarring when the story would make reference to it.  It created a great denouement for the story, but sometimes it did feel unnecessary.  This is a book I'd recommend for the way it builds the romance which is very touching, and for the great heroine.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
by Sarah J. Maas
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.


I think it's safe to say that this book took the series in directions I could have never anticipated.  I love how Sarah Maas can completely change dynamics and relationships and reveal hidden depths about these characters you think you know from the first book.  As a reader it's nice to have these surprises.

I should say that at first I wasn't really happy with the way things were going.  I don't want to spoil things, but with A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre had to go through so much, that it almost felt invalidated in this book because of how things were changed.  Feyre also is recovering from the horrors of her time Under the Mountain, so I felt like the story took awhile to get underway due to how damaged she was.  It was chilling though to read just how devastated by those events our heroine was, and I admired how realistic it was for Maas to explore those things.  It also served to strengthen Feyre, and really showcase that fierceness in her that I loved to see.  The pace of the story was slow for me in the beginning, but the character development was stellar.

Rhysand was a favorite character in the first book for me, so learning more about him and his court was definitely a highlight.  Especially because there is so much depth to him that was only hinted at in the first book.  And he is still solidly a favorite character for me.  He's almost too perfect really, as a romantic ideal, and it's not fair, haha.

The world expands too, as more is revealed about the other courts, and the threat against the fae and the humans become more apparent.  The story really ramps up towards the end too, as everything in the story comes together for a pretty heart-stopping finale.  I was absolutely riveted.  It's crazy how intense this story became - it went from the characters sort of dancing around each other in uncertainty to so much being laid out on the line, and so many things going wrong.  It was brilliant.  And the last book in this trilogy will be glorious I'm sure!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Last week I finally watched the new Star Trek film - one that I have been anticipating for awhile now because it was co-written by Simon Pegg, and featured a new story idea (still love you Into Darkness!).  I had such high hopes for this - or rather so much faith in Simon Pegg for some reason.  Star Trek Beyond was a good film, but not as good as I was hoping.  Anticipation and Expectation is a bummer sometimes.

My feelings on the film are mostly positive though.  It's an enjoyable movie, sometimes a little too predictable, but there are some great epic moments, the way the story moves between what is happening with the separated crew was excellently done, and the way the different storylines meshed was fantastic.  I loved that the film started with a bit of humor with Kirk trying to broker peace with an alien race.  It felt very much like the start of a fun adventure, and I think the movie mostly delivered on that.  It does have it's darker moments though, and some great emotional moments for the cast.

Thinking about the film though, I was disappointed by the sense that the story felt too derivative of the Original Series TV show.  Which is a little odd for me to say, because it's like saying the film was too faithful to the original and I almost never have a problem with that.  But a lot of the moments or the plot points felt too episodic or traded on the dynamic of the characters in ways that were already explored thoroughly in the show or even in the Abrams films.  It all felt so familiar, that it was hard to appreciate the film as it's own thing.  I was thinking as I was leaving the theater, that the films might be better if they had a completely new set of characters (so excited for Star Trek Discovery!) or maybe in a similar way to First Contact - if it explored something that the Original Series didn't really explore.  With First Contact, the story was so much more cohesive and riveting because you see a different Picard, changed by the Borg, and the effect on his character was huge.

I'm not sure if being a fan of the show hurt or enhanced/validated my feelings for this film.  When I first watched the two Abrams films, I had never seen any of Star Trek before (refer to my first post on getting into Star Trek!) so I didn't have anything to compare or detract from the films.  I could appreciate them as their own thing, and I haven't re-watched those films since.  I should, just to see if I would feel differently, or less enthusiastically about them now.

Anyways, despite some of my lackluster emotions toward this film, I think it is very good, and worth watching if your a fan, or maybe more worth a watch if you are not as much of a fan.  I can see why this film is more appealing to the Trekkie though because it adheres more strongly to the ideals and the message of Trek, and it highlights some of what fans love about the show.  It was beautifully chilling to see the new Enterprise built, the old theme music used, and the "space, the final frontier"  speech being said.  My nostalgia (from watching it just a couple years ago...haha) for the TV show was satisfied by the inclusion of these things.  I look forward to the next film and I even hope that Simon Pegg might co-write it again, because I feel like he can really do something great with Star Trek.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pokemon Go Book Tag

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

I'm a bit addicted to PokemonGO, so when I saw Aentee's book tag, I had to participate!  Even though it took me awhile to find the time to write my answers to the tag, heh.  I'm so glad to mix my love for books and my new love for this game though. :)   And thank you also to Aentee for the wonderful graphics she created for this!  I tag anyone PokemonGO players who would also love to mix the two fandoms.

The Game:  For the starter, I picked Charmander, because my nickname is "Char" sometimes, and... that's pretty much why I have a connection with Charmander. LOL

The Book: This is a hard one... I'm not sure I remember the book that started it all, but it may have been a Nancy Drew book, or The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, which started me on reading book series.  I know The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain started me on reading the Classics when I was in high school.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Movie Review: Florence Foster Jenkins

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

I was able to attend a screening of this film Monday night - which comes out August 12th in the States, but it was out earlier in England.  I saw the ads for it when I was in England earlier this year, but didn't make it to the theater.  It looked interesting ("Inspiring true story of the world's worst singer") and it stars Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, so I was even more keen to see it.  It is based on a true story, but I've never heard of Florence Jenkins, so I really had no idea of what the plot would be going in.  My review will have some spoilers for aspects of the story, but nothing major and nothing about the ending.

I think what should be the appeal of this movie is the humor and the heart of the characters.  Definitely not the singing, because it is awful and goes on way too long.  Some of the instrumental music is very beautiful though.  But the humor felt flat to me all throughout the film.  I'm not sure what it was.  There were people laughing in the audience though, so maybe it's just not my kind of humor.  The incredulous reactions of people in the movie to Florence's singing was milked a lot though, and if felt a little much.

With the characters, it's established very early on that there were meaningful motivations for Florence, her husband St. Clair, and her pianist Cosme, to want to showcase Florence's (awful) singing, and their backstories were very touching, although there were moments when it was hard to sympathize with St. Clair, the husband.  But in a way I also found it hard to empathize with such self-delusion and manipulation, even though it made Florence so happy.  It felt kind of cruel actually, and I think that also helped diminish my enjoyment of the film.

One thing I really loved was the character of Cosme.  He was kind of thrown into being a pianist for Florence, not really aware she couldn't sing, but needing the job, and in the end, caring about her as a friend.  His character arc, and the humor of his reluctance to continue in the situation made him very endearing.

The movie isn't particularly memorable unfortunately.  It looks great visually - I loved the Forties New York era, and the acting was fantastic, but the humor was very hit or miss with me, and I didn't empathize with the characters as much as I wanted to.  It's too bad, because everything about this film seemed like it would be great entertainment!