Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cat Diary (26): Nicknames

This is an occasional Sunday feature where my cat, pardon, Her Majesty the Cat, offers her more or less gracious insight into my (and her) life.

Did you know that Jo loves nicknames? As in, she loves giving me nicknames, instead of addressing me properly.

Some aren’t that bad, however the others…

My favourite three are:

  • Mini,
  • Mitzi,
  • Little Tiger,

My least favourite ones:

  • little thing (Really!?),
  • little naughty thing (even worse),
  • little beast,
  • little dwarf (Do I look like a dwarf?),
  • little rascal…

Do you see the pattern here? I’m a big cunning majestic cat! Rawr! Not something little. (In Jo’s defence, all those terms are one-word diminutive endearments in Slovene.)

Oh, oh, and the insult of all insults: mousey. Mousey! *hisses* I won’t say anything else.

Till next time,

Friday, August 29, 2014

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

CA - The First AvengerDIRECTOR: Joe Johnston; CAST: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending USA ideals.

MY THOUGHTS:

Why on Earth have I not watched this before?

‘This’ as in not just this film but most of the Marvel things (apart from both Thors and The Avengers which I have watched.) I mean, I am fantasy/sci-fi kind of gal. 

There are special effects and things blasting off. But there is also WWII. And good winning vs. evil. And a little guy becoming a hero, saving the world, and making the ultimate sacrifice.

There are thought-provoking issues, heartbreak, and a little romance, and it is beautiful and painful and amazing. And I’ve used way too many and-s in one post.

Overall, I loved watching the co-called making of Captain America, a growth of a hero. I say growth, because one doesn’t become a hero from nothing, not if they don’t already have something heroic in them already. And Captain America: The First Avenger presents that very well.

5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Captain America: The First Avenger is a wonderful mix of sci-fi with a historical background and the fight of the good against evil. Since probably everyone but me saw this long ago, I don’t think I have anything else to say to recommend it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bout of Books 11.0 Wrap Up

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

How it went:

I was trying to not over-stress myself since this is supposed to be fun, so I didn’t set up any big goals. But something happened on Wednesday and I was super stressed out for the rest of the week. So I didn’t do much reading. I mean, I did, but I didn’t.

Let’s se how I did with my goals:

  • read every day & finish/read 1 book

Well, I have read every day. However… considering things I’ve been dealing with in RL, I found Deathless too depressing (although so very beautiful, I’ll definitely continue reading it, just slowly) and none of the other books seemed enticing enough, so I read copious amounts of fanfiction instead, because that helped me relax.

So, page count *cough*: 36 pages (of Loki, by Mike Vasich), BUT add roughly 70,000 words of very good fanfic to that. So, I guess i did read a novel, in a way. ;)

  • participate in at least one challenge

I participated in the Book Scavenger Hunt, hosted by The Book Monsters.

  • maybe participate in one twitter chat (hopefully)

I joined the Monday twitter chat. It was great.

  • try to be a little social either on twitter or visiting & commenting on other blogs

*blushes* Nope. Socializing was not my thing last week.

“Anything of the above will be a success.”

Well, I did (sort of) accomplish more than half of my goals, so it’s a success, right?

How was your Bout of Books 11.0? Is there anything special you will remember it by?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Hunting

Bout of Books
 
It’s the first day of Bout of Books 11.0 and The Book Monsters is hosting Book Scavenger Hunt.

1. A Book that begins with “B”  (for Bout of Books!): Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Ballad

2. A book that has been made into a movie/tv show: Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks, but I liked the film better. (What? I know!)

Charlotte Gray

3. A series you love: Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole

IAD collage

And, that’s it. All god things are three, so let’s stop there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Heart of the Lion (Plantagenet Saga #3) by Jean Plaidy

The Heart of the Lion (Plantagenet Saga, #3)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): At the age of thirty-two, Richard the Lionheart has finally succeeded Henry II to the English throne. And, against his father's wishes, he intends to make Berengaria, daughter of the King of Navarre, his Queen. But first he must fulfil his vow to his country to win back Jerusalem for the Christian world. Leaving England to begin his crusade, Richard's kingdom is left in the hands of his brother, John, who casts covetous eyes on the crown, and his sister, Joanna, who is willing to defy even a king.

MY OPINION:

Richard the Lionhearted is often romanticised in fiction. However, Plaidy portrays him in a much more realistic way, with his good and bad qualities. The latter are above all his naivety and the notorious Plantagenet temper and are to blame for some of his mistakes that ultimately lead to his downfall.

Richard begins his reign by setting off on a crusade, the hardships and trials of which Plaidy leaves to a great extent unembellished. For his good looks, charm, bravery, justice and integrity he is loved by everyone – that is, everyone except Leopold of Austria.

Yet, what permeates his entire story is a great friendship (or, dare I say, epic love) between him and Philip the II of France, always mixed with hatred between the two rival kings.

Plaidy presents all points of views, even those of yet again pushed aside women: most importantly, Richard’s wife and Queen Berengaria and his sister Joanna.

The book, of course, ends in tragedy and death (which I don’t believe is a spoiler), not just for Richard, but for England, left at the mercy of his brother John, as Richard’s preoccupation with wars and male friendships and his neglect of poor Berengaria has left him heirless.

Thus, what I have to look forward in Book 4 is the rein of violence and oppression of the erratic, self-serving, profligate king John.

4 stars

RECOMMENDATION: The Heart of the Lion is a well fictionalised tale of one of the most renown kings in the English history, Richard the I.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Bout of Books 11.0 Sign Up & Goals

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

It’s almost Bout of Books time again!

MY GOALS:

I’m still trying to not over-stress myself since this is supposed to be fun, so my goals are once again minimalistic:

  • read every day & finish/read 1 book
  • participate in at least one challenge
  • maybe participate in one twitter chat (hopefully)
  • try to be a little social either on twitter or visiting & commenting on other blogs

Anything of this will be a success.

Books to select from:

  • The Prince of Darkness by Jean Plaidy
  • Grave Suprise by Charlaine Harris
  • Deathless by Catharine M. Valente
  • Loki by Mike Vasich
  • and a few more

I’ll be updating on Twitter (@StrangeNewWords), since that is less time-consuming and I’ll write a wrap-up posts in the end.

Are you in? What are your goals?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly #1) by Charlaine Harris

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, #1)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Harper Connolly is honest, ethical and loyal - and ever since a bolt of lightening zapped her on the head, she's had an extra-special talent: she can find dead people. It's not a common-or-garden job. Some people find Harper's talent useful and fascinating, but she's getting used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. She's become an expert at getting in, getting paid and getting out, fast.

When Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver, travel to the Ozarks to find a local teenager, missing, believed dead, they discover that someone is willing to go to great lengths to bury a secret. Before long Tolliver's locked away on trumped-up charges and Harper's fighting for her own life.

MY OPINION:

I read Grave Sight very fast, so it must have been good. It definitely held my attention, probably because there was always something about to happen next and I was hardly able to put it down.

Most of the characters are sort-of roughly sketched, enough to give them personality and distinction, but not exploring them in-depth.

Harper, the main protagonist, is an exception. She is quite well explored, so the reader gets a good understanding of what shaped her and how she has been dealing with her past as well as  the present. I didn’t love her, but I liked her. Perhaps it was because she doesn’t let her issues defeat her, she struggles through them and – for the lack of a better word – lives.

Harper’s brother Tolliver is mostly just a shell, an extension of Harper, and their co-dependent relationship is somewhat annoying. I understand why it is the way it is, but still something was missing, some bit of information or evolvement. Perhaps we will get that in the second book.

The book is written in the first person point of view, which tends to be melodramatic, but that is not the case in Grave Sight. The only thing bothering me was the frequent repetition of how much people frown upon Harper’s way of earning her living.

Therefore, looking at the individual elements, Grave Sight feels like a 3-star book, but taking into account how much it hooked me, it deserves 4 stars. Especially because I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.

3,5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you like a suspenseful story, with elements of crime novel mixed with a touch of paranormal, this fast and easy read is worth trying. Actually, I think Grave Sight is a perfect summer read.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Revolt of the Eaglets (Plantagenet Saga #2) by Jean Plaidy

The Revolt of the Eaglets (Plantagenet Saga, #2)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): News of Thomas a Becket's martyrdom has spread throughout Christendom and the blame is laid at the feet of Henry Plantagenet, King of England. Two years later, with Becket canonised, Henry's position is precarious: punished at the Pope's insistence for his part in Becket's death, he now also has an enemy in his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, after her discovery of his longstanding infidelity with Rosamund Clifford. Eleanor is determined to seek vengeance, so, with King Philip of France, she encourages her sons to conspire, both against their father and each other. Much embattled, the old eagle Henry struggles to fend off both rebellion and the plots of his aggressively circling offspring...

MY OPINION:

There are several reasons I liked The Revolt of the Eaglets better than The Plantagenet Prelude. 

Firstly, it seemed better written to me, or maybe I just got used to Plaidy’s simplistic style for this saga.

Secondly, as much as I usually root for female characters’ presence in fiction, I think Eleanor’s absence for the most part of the book turned out for the good. When she did appear I liked her better, perhaps because we could then really see the gist of her character. I disapproved of her pitting her sons against Henry and each other, but on the other hand I understood her reasons for acting in such way, and I couldn’t help but admire her resilience and ability to adapt to circumstances and make the best out of them and still find a way to scheme and try to get her way (and succeed).

Thirdly, despite Henry’s many faults, it was captivating to watch him manoeuver between various sides and demands and most of the time manage to get himself out of precarious positions, even if by questionable means (lying, going back on his word, manipulating, etc.) And I felt a little sorry for him wanting to be loved by the sons who hated him, though he had kind of brought that hatred upon himself and though he was a fool (and a willing one at that) to turn a blind eye where John was concerned due to that longing of his for the love of at least one of his sons.

At least Henry’s daughters seemed all right, although the book barely mentioned them, apart from Matilda and Joanna. After all, women were a lot of times only chess pieces, means for making alliances, expanding territories and buying peace. Sad and frustrating, but historically accurate.

Finally, I liked the sense of the author’s sarcastic opinion about the historical events and figures she presents. It appears in subtle, faint undertones in many spots, and I may have just imagined it, but I it gave the book a bit of a special flavour.

Overall, The Revolt of the Eaglets was a gripping historical read, and it convinced me to read more of The Plantagenet Saga. Actually, I can’t wait to start next book, The Heart of the Lion.

4 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you are looking for an unembellished presentation of history, Plaidy’s works definitely qualify as such, and The Revolt of the Eaglets is no exception.

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