Friday, April 17, 2015

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult


Review:

The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult
In The Tenth Circle, Jodi Picoult deals with another universally topical issue - rape, focusing the story around 14-year-old Trixie Stone, whom her ex-boyfriend rapes at a party, and the Stones' struggle with the aftermath of it.

Now, the book starts a little on the slow side, which prompted me to do what I do very rarely: I skipped a few chapters and read a little ahead, and what I read made me so angry I almost didn't finish the book.

SPOILER ahead. At some point it seems as if Trixie lied about being raped and it made me furious that Picoult would perpetuate such an awful stereotype: that women lie about it out of spite or vengeance of shame of whatever, because this is the very thing why rape survivors are afraid of coming forward and reporting it and why, even when they do, so few rapist are actually convicted and/or spend time in jail. END of SPOILER.

However, I refused to believe Picoult would go for such a low move, so I went back and read the whole thing and I am glad I did, for The Tenth Circle offers a great insight into working of rape culture we live with, where rape survivors' every word and action get questioned while the perpetrators are protected by the innocent-until-proved-guilty principle.

In Trixie's case, the matter of consent is especially glaring, since she was raped while intoxicated and drugged, and it speaks volumes about male entitlement that her rapist and the majority of people who witnessed her behaviour prior to rape, never realise that impaired judgement means inability to give consent. Disgustingly, they argue just the opposite: that due to her impaired judgement she was unable to refuse consent. And that sort of attitude is very much prevalent in the world, which is truly horrifying.

Along Trixie's struggle with what happened, we also follow her father, a comic book artist, who is making every effort to help and protect her, while plagued by the memories of his origins, both beautifully interwoven with the making of his newest project, and her mother, a university professor, facing the repercussions of her infidelity and revealing the caused that led to it, mixed with her reflections upon Dante's Inferno.

Thus, The Tenth Circle tells a compelling and emotional story that gives the reader plenty of food for thought.

Cross-posted from BookLikes.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Battle of the Queens (Plantagenet Saga, #5) by Jean Plaidy


Review:


The Battle of the Queens (Plantagenet Saga, #5)In The Battle of the Queens Plaidy offers yet another great insight into the turning of the wheels of that era, the eternal struggle between England and France, with the Church as an ever-present puppet master.

The two protagonists in the title, whom the book centres on, are Isabella, mother of Henry III of England, and Blanche, mother of Luis IX of France. The two women who despised each other, couldn't be more different: Isabella hot-tempered, promiscuous, self-centred and Blanche pious, level-headed, thoughtful of others.

Alongside the lives of the great historical personages, Plaidy includes those of seemingly lesser importance, who had nonetheless a great impact on history, or even those who had none, but give her story colour and beat, from the siblings of Henry III to nursemaids. And at that she doesn't forget Eleanor of Aquitaine in the last years of her life, who remained a powerful historical player till her very end. 
Thus, the one thing that always frustrates me in historical fiction, women being looked upon as nothing more than political bargaining chips, is upturned on its head in Plaidy's books. For, despite being reduced to objects for political games of men, women were most often the ones who actively decided the fate of nations and affected the world history at large.

Isabella and Blanche were definitely one of those proverbial women behind successful men, the women who made their names, or – in Isabella's case – sometimes ruined them.

Cross-posted from BookLikes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Getting to Know You: Favourite Animals and TV Shows

gettingtoknowyou pepca

Getting to Know You is a feature, started by Jenni Elyse who wants to get to know fellow bloggers.

Last week’s topic of Getting to Know You was Favourite Animals, but I was too sick to sit in front of computer to share my favourite animals with you, so I decided to combine the two posts.

collage animals

  • cats (naturally)
  • rabbits (we used to have them when I was little)
  • horses
  • budgies (I used to have one when I was little, too)
  • pheasants (there used to be a lot of pheasants where I lived before)
  • deer (same about deer, they used to come right to the house)

Now, to this week’s topic, which is Favourite TV Shows. And you all know how much I love watching TV beside reading. So here they are:

collage shows

The currently on air or just finished:

  • Agents of Shield
  • Agent Carter (which I really hope they decide to make another season, or more, of)
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Originals
  • Supernatural
  • Saving Hope

Then there are also:

  • Constantine (which I don’t know whether it was/will be renewed)
  • Game of Thrones (season 5 starting soon)
  • White Collar (season 6 and the final one wrapped up in December)
  • Revolution (cancelled after season 2)
  • TVD (still going on but I stopped watching, the first 3 seasons definitely count as one of my favourite shows, though)
  • The Returned (US, just started) and the French original it’s based on, Les Revenants
  • The Last Ship (a summer show, will have season 2 this summer)

And I could go on, but I had better stop, because you got the idea. I watch a lot of TV shows, the above mentioned are just some of my favourite ones.

What are your favourite animals and, to stay on track, TV shows?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Getting to Know You: Favourite Games

gettingtoknowyou pepca

Getting to Know You is a feature, started by Jenni Elyse who wants to get to know fellow bloggers. This week’s topic of Getting to Know You is Favourite Games.

Games Collage

I don’t much play games lately, except when I get together with my cousins, but I do love them. Here are 5 of my all-time favourites and that recent silly obsession called 2048.

I used to play a lot of the others with my cousins and grandma when I was little, and sometimes I played them by myself – since I was an only child. :)

From top to bottom, left to right, in no particular order:

  • Ludo
  • Four in a Row
  • Mikado
  • Uno
  • 2048
  • Monopoly

What are your favourite games? Hop on to Jenni’s blog and share them with everyone if you want.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Eternally Dark by John Amory, Jenna Jones, TA Moore, BA Tortuga

NOTE: The book reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those above the age of majority.

Image296_fmtSUMMARY (by the publisher): What might make a vampire vulnerable enough to take a human lover? What if they were blind, and needed what a human could give them, not just blood, but sight?

In ‘Blind Eye of the Sun’, TA Moore gives us a dystopian, ruined pleasure planet where humans and vamps fight for resources. Jenna Jones pens ‘Aubade’, where a young slam poet finds both fear and excitement in the arms of a vampire. In John Amory’s ‘Spearmint Warning’, a vampire teaches a hot barista all about mint leaves and tea. Finally, in ‘Those Who Cannot See’, BA Tortuga gives us a historical cowboy who’s nearly been hanged and the vampire who saved him.

MY OPINION:

Blind Eye of the Sun’ by TA Moore  

With well-built and intriguing characters, ‘Blind Eye of The Sun’ was my favourite of the four short stories in the anthology.

In few words, TA Moore manages to build a rich, albeit gritty world, depicting technological and medical advancements as well as setbacks, such as artificially grown food, and many more interesting details.

The characters, even minor ones, are fleshed out with unique traits and hints of backstories. I loved the protagonists – Shea, a hardened soldier, a resourceful, smart man, with an ability to bring people together, and Anatoly, the blind vampire, a noble monster with a code of honour – and the way they function together.

The semi-open ending fits the overall feel of the story and brings some sort of a closure while leaving the future unknown, but with a hopeful undertone.

Finally, the only shortcoming – which isn’t a shortcoming at all – I found was that I could read a lot more of this story, its world, and characters.

5 stars

‘Aubade’ by Jenna Jones and ‘Spearmint Warning’ by John Amory 

Since the two short stories are pretty similar, I decided to combine the reviews into one.

Firstly, both so-called relationships are rushed (so-called because what they are really just hook-ups, although the authors call it ‘love’).

And secondly, the human characters are somewhat bland, since we don’t learn much about them. In addition, despite being given the vampires’ backstories, those are pretty much clichĂ©d (for one thing, both vampires have possessive jealous makers) and didn’t make me invested in the characters, either.

All in all, ‘Aubade’ and ‘Spearmint Warning’ are readable stories to pass the time, but nothing more.3 stars

‘Those Who Cannot See’ by BA Tortuga

The last short story of the four is perhaps the most sensual one. A telepathic connection between the main protagonists makes the sensuality and the strong emotional bond that forms between them rather quickly actually plausible.

I liked the well-established western setting. The plot is well-rounded and the characters outlined well enough to provoke a reaction, whether positive or negative. Thus, the main protagonists, Edmund and Blaze are quite likeable, as well as two minor characters: Running Water, a Native American tracker, and Lwazi, Edmund’s African American butler.

Overall, ‘Those Who Cannot See’ makes up a good short story.

4 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Whereas the last three short stories are good enough, Eternally Dark anthology is worth picking up for ‘Blind Eye of the Sun’ alone as it is an exceptionally well-written and fascinating short story.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Getting to Know You: Favourite Bands

gettingtoknowyou pepca

Getting to Know You is a new feature, started by Jenni Elyse who wants to get to know fellow bloggers. This week’s topic of Getting to Know You is Favourite Bands.

I love music, but I’m terrible at knowing who sings what because I either listen to it on the radio or what I randomly come across on the internet, and I fail to remember the artist. So, I guess those I do know the names of must be my favourite. ;)

Here are a few of them (some new-ish, some less so) whose music I really enjoy, in random order:

  • Imagine Dragons
  • Snow Patrol
  • Ingrid Michaelson
  • Bryan Adams
  • Il Divo
  • Eros Ramazzotti
  • Enrique Iglesias
  • Plavi Orkestar

What are your favourite bands? I always like discovering new awesome music, so do tell. And go over to Jenni’s blog and share it with everyone if you want.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Getting to Know You: Celebrity Crushes

gettingtoknowyou pepca
Getting to Know You is a new feature, started by Jenni Elyse who wants to get to know fellow bloggers. I like the idea, so I decided to join in, albeit (a little) late. This week’s topic is celebrity crushes.

Celebrity crushes collage
My list of celebrity crushes is very very long, and tends to change a lot, so I decided to share a handful of current(ish) younger (with one exception) ones, all not just gorgeous and talented but also wonderful people. Oh, yes, and I threw in some ladies, too.

In case you don’t recognise them, from left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Daniel Craig
  2. David Lyons
  3. Nina Dobrev
  4. Brett Dalton
  5. Tracy Spiridakos
  6. Daniel Gillies
  7. Hayley Atwell
  8. Simon Kassianides
  9. Joseph Morgan

What are your celebrity crushes? Any in common?

If you want to share your celebrity crushes, go ahead, and don’t forget to link up on Jenni’s post so we can all get to know each other better.

* Disclaimer: Celebrity photos are not mine and belong to their respective owners.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

vanishing actsSUMMARY (from Goodreads): Della Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and a job she loves, finding missing persons. However, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can't recall. Then she discovers that her father had kidnapped her when she was a child.

MY OPINION:

As always, it is hardest to review the books one likes, and since it has been a while since I read this, I will do this the short way.

Things I liked about Vanishing Acts:

  • all five POVs – the combination worked perfectly together and made an amazing story;
  • the insight into prison system/life, however harsh it was – it felt much more realistic than in most books;
  • the parallels between Delia and her daughter Sophie and between Delia’s family and Sophie’s;
  • the subplots fit in very well;
  • and, finally, this is how you do love ‘triangles’, subtly in the background.

I cannot think of anything I didn’t like about this book.

All in all, Vanishing Acts was an absolutely heartfelt story not only about the kidnapping as its main focus, but also many other present everyday issues everyone could or might be facing already. 5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Jodi Picoult’s books are excellent for those interested in a thought-provoking material about contemporary issues and Vanishing Acts is no exception.

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