Friday, September 12, 2014

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man 1DIRECTOR: John Favreau; CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): When wealthy industrialist Tony Stark is forced to build an armoured suit after a life-threatening incident, he ultimately decides to use its technology to fight against evil.

MY THOUGHTS:

The reason I didn’t watch Iron Man films before was that I thought they were full of senseless action. Obviously, I was wrong.

Iron Man is so much more than an action/science-fiction film. It starts as a story about a rather arrogant heir to an empire, a playboy flying on the wings of success, a not particularly likeable character, for all the dazzle surrounding him.

However, Tony Stark is not just some spoiled rich guy, he is a genius inventor, who has earned his own success, and he can very well roll his sleeves up, which is what saves him when he finds himself in a precarious situation. Once he realises the people closest to him have been lying and his company, a weapon industry giant, has been selling arms under the table, he decides to set things right, and thus becomes Iron Man.

The slow uncovering of the intrigues behind Stark Industries is what keeps up the suspense throughout the film, but what I loved most was the gradual peeling of the layers off of Tony’s character and getting to know him.

All in all, Iron Man is not just an action film, but also a character and a relationship study with a hint of criticism of modern warfare and weapon industry.

4 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Iron Man is a film both for those who like action and fights and those who like an insight in the characters, relationships and some general world issues.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Loki by Mike Vasich

LokiSUMMARY (from Goodreads): God of Mischief. Father of Lies. Harbinger of Destruction. Exiled and tortured by the gods, Loki swears vengeance. He will summon the mighty Fenris Wolf and the legendary Midgard Serpent, and they will lead an army of giants and all the dead in Niflheim. Brimming with the power of the most destructive being in the Nine Worlds, he will not rest till Asgard is in ashes and all the gods are dead under his heel.

MY OPINION:

I enjoyed Vasich’s retelling of Norse myths with their entangled web of inevitability, for even though Odin, all-knowing as he is, can foresee the future events, he does nothing to stop them. On the contrary, he makes sure they come to pass.

While such behaviour is contradictory to every living creature’s inherent drive for self-preservation, this willing surrender to fate is, paradoxically, while a total renouncement of free will at the same time its ultimate embodiment and thus exactly what keeps the Norse gods alive, if only in myth.

Loki ends with a powerful message: that even in a total destruction, something may survive. Even more: that the destruction of old is necessary for something new, something better to be born. Hence, as the world of gods falls to ruin, a new world arises, a world of Men, in which, however, the old world is not forgotten, but lives on in the form of a myth.

Nevertheless, while all of the above is highly interesting and worth exploring, the writing in Loki was basically dry. Vasich writes from multiple characters’ POVs. However, he only seems to have a good grasp on one character, Loki, who truly comes alive trough his words, while the others appear rather mechanical, unable to provoke emotion in a reader.

Therefore, I must admit that after the first 40 pages and a few other sections further along the story, I more or less skimmed most of the book.

All in all, Loki does have some intriguing aspects, but the writing just wasn’t my cup of tea. Perhaps I should find another author for fictionalised Norse mythology.

2 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Loki is not actually a book about Loki, at least not for the most part. What it is is a basic retelling of Norse myths, and a rather dryly written at that.

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?

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