Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bookie Brunch: Fantasy vs. Realism



Welcome to Bookie Brunch!
Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Come join the discussion!
*Every Sunday*

Next week’s host: Story Wings (@StoryWings)
This week’s discussion is open through: July 31 - August 3

Your host this week:
Her guests this week:
Lorren at The Story Girl (Twitter: N/A)

The question under discussion: 
(suggested by your host)

People often tackle the issue of characters or plot being unrealistic or not possible in real life. Are you on
the-book-must-be-believable/realistic side or not? Why or why not?

Related topics to consider:
Do you prefer books with fantasy elements or books which stick to the world we know? Do you think it is important that contemporary literature remains true to life or do you welcome deviations from what would normally happen?

***

Christina, having Tazo passion tea lemonade, says:


***

Jodie, taking a sip of banana milkshake, says:

This is a tough question because l think it depends on a few things :

1 - My Mood : Sometimes l could literally read anything and it can be quite unrealistic but l still love it and other times any little thing which doesn't seem real can put me off a book. For example, l recently read The Iron King which l enjoyed but l did feel if l would have read it at the wrong time l probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much or at all. It totally depends!

2 - How It's Written - I think if the unrealistic side of the book is put across with realistic things then the parts which are unrealistic can become more realistic. For example if the plot of the book is very 'far fetched' but has strong characters alongside then plot then the characters can make everything feel much more real.

3 - A Mix - This kinda goes alongside the 'My Mood' category. I like both fantasy and also 'down to earth' books and if l read too much of one then l kinda get bored and fed up of it. I like to mainly read books which have a little bit of fantasy mixed with normal YA but sometimes l can read books where you really have to open up your mind to believe what your reading but l have to be in the right mood for this and not have read too many books like this recently. 

Overall l enjoy both sort of books and wouldn't be without them. The world would be rather boring if everything was like how it is now with nothing new from what we know. I like to be able to be taken into a new world where the author has used their imagination. But like l said, l like to limit myself to these sort of books and also read 'normal' books.

***

Sarah, sipping on a caramel iced cappuccino and enjoying a glazed donut with chocolate icing, says:

I don't think necessarily that books or plots need to be realistic. I love fantasy, sci-fi, and anything with a magical (or paranormal) twist to it. I can accept pretty much anything that happens along those lines because it's instantly explained by "Hey, it's magic." (Although trying to convince people that vampires sparkle is stretching it a little, but who am I to argue with an author's imagination?)

I DO think that characters need to be realistic. There are some books that I've heard such great things about, but I just find the main character to fake to concentrate. Besides the characters needing to be realistic, they need to behave realistically. I can totally accept magical happenings, paranormal creatures, and anything along those fantasy lines. I cannot accept when characters make decisions that I don't think are believable or realistic. A well-fleshed out character has a distinct personality about them - we as readers come to feel that we know a well-written character pretty well. So when they do something that seems to go completely against their nature and is in conflict with what we already know about them, it bugs me. Big time.

All that being said, I completely embrace the fantasy genre, and I welcome deviations from the "real world". It's interesting, imaginative, and there's SO much to explore and create once you've put magic into the equation. Anything can happen, and that's really exciting. Plus, I see a lot of the real world every day - we see it every time we take a walk, watch the news, go to work or school. I think that fantasy lets us imagine things differently - it gets our creative juices flowing, opens our minds to other possibilities, and allows us to escape the real world for a little while.

***

Lorren, taking a sip of double-strength herbal peach iced tea with a tiny bit of sugar, says:

I think for me, the importance of believability depends on which part of the story we are talking about. I love magical realism, where we are dealing with our present-day world but things behave in a magical or whimsical way. I love a hint of fantasy in a contemporary book. I also have always enjoyed fantasy and science fiction, although I read much less of it than I did in high school. However, if the characters are behaving in a way that is unrealistic, I am bothered, whether it occurs in a more realistic book or a fantasy book. I'm not talking about irrational behavior or quirkiness in a character - I think that might be much more true to life than a "normal" character. What bothers me is when characters don't act human (unless, of course, they aren't human, which is a completely different set of rules) or when events play out in a way that makes the story seem fake. I think this can happen in "realistic" or "fantasy" fiction.

***

Your host, Pepca, sipping sweet green tea with a splash of milk, says:

I am annoyed when someone complains that they do not like a book because it is not realistic. People, it is called fiction. It is supposed to differ from real life. I have enough reality around me all the time. I read to escape the reality for a while. Therefore, I like new and unexpected things in books. Fantasy and paranormal fiction is among my favourite genres. I am totally for the unrealistic side.

That being said, I do think a book must be believable within its own paradigm. Its setting, plot and characters have to be consistent with one another. The characters and the plot have to correspond to the rules by which the world set in a particular book operates. If trolls turn to stone in the sunlight, then there cannot be any trolls walking around during the day, right? Right.

The same goes for contemporary fiction. I like it when things turn out differently than expected, but they have to be likely to happen. I do not like too farfetched circumstances, such as a poor girl exploited as a mafia prostitute getting away with loads of dirty money, killing a few mobsters, and living happily every after. This kind of outcome is not much plausible. Such impossible contradictions to reality are not to my liking.

On the whole, I enjoy novelties and surprises and discovering new worlds entwined with fantasy and paranormal, provided that they function accordingly to their concept.

***

You’re invited! Visitors: Please share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section, so they can be included in the discussion. This is an active discussion through Wednesday, so feel free to stop by again later on.



Bookie Brunch is a weekly meet-up, held every Sunday, where book bloggers can have a cup of tea and chat about a particular bookie question of interest. The discussion is open from Sunday through Wednesday, and you’re welcome to drop by any time to add your opinion or read what other people have to say. This discussion is open as well to general readers or bloggers in a different field, authors, publishers and publicists.

Courtesy guidelines: Thank you for coming! All thoughtful comments will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers. In fact, you’re encouraged to talk about it and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials. We’d like everyone to have a nice time. Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.



Find Bookie Brunch

Next week (Upcoming Sunday): Story Wings (@StoryWings)



Contact Bookie Brunch

If you’d like to be a host/guest for an upcoming brunch: @StoryWings
If you’d like to bring goodies for a giveaway: @StoryWings
If you’d like to suggest a question: @LiederMadchen
If you’d like to browse all Bookie Brunch discussions (Archive): The Fluidity of Time

What do you think? Please feel free to join the discussion on this week’s question by commenting below.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse #5) by Charlaine Harris

Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse, #5)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Sookie’s got just a month, before the next full moon, to find out who wants her brother dead - and to stop the fiend! Sookie Stackhouse enjoys her life, mostly. She's a great cocktail waitress in a fun bar; she has a love life, albeit a bit complicated, and most people have come to terms with her telepathy. The problem is, Sookie wants a quiet life - but things just seem to happen to her and her friends. Now her brother Jason's eyes are starting to change: he's about to turn into a were-panther for the first time. She can deal with that, but her normal sisterly concern turns to cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population. She afraid not just because Jason's at risk, but because his new were-brethren suspect Jason may be the shooter. Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who's behind the attacks - unless the killer decides to find her first.

MY OPINION:

The books in Sookie Stackhouse series are fast and intriguing reads, and this one is no exception. The writing, the characters, and the setting are comfortably familiar with both their good and their bad sides.

The narration is not too repetitive in this book, and the writing is improved as there are less errors. Though, I was bothered by “melancholy brother” and “loaner car” (instead of melancholic and loaned). I wonder, again, does Harris do this on purpose? I cannot believe she would miss these two vocabulary mishaps, since they really strike out.

Sookie’s character is making some progress in terms of self-restraint. She still lets almost every hot guy who comes around kiss her, and she falls for every other one, but this time she manages to spell out one clear refusal. Way to go. Maybe she is just a little too polite and worried not to hurt the men’s feelings. And then she feels guilty for indulging them. I hope she soon decides who the one she wants is and tells everyone else to back off.

Dead as a Doornail is generally a gripping read. In addition to Sookie's story, it offers more information about Tara and Werewolves, which is very interesting. The plot is dynamic, and there is not a boring moment from start to finish. 

RECOMMENDATION: Anyone who enjoys Sookie Stackhouse series will not be disappointed by this book.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson

The Tsarina's Daughter

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): It is 1989 and Daria Gradov is an elderly grandmother living in the rural West. But she is not who she claims to be – the widow of a Russian immigrant of modest means. In actuality she began her life as the Grand Duchess Tatiana, known as Tania to her parents, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra.

At the heart of the story is young Tania, who lives a life of incomparable luxury in pre-Revolutionary Russia. When her younger brother is diagnosed with haemophilia and the key to his survival lies in the mysterious power of the illiterate monk Rasputin, it is merely an omen of much worse things to come. Soon war breaks out and revolution sweeps the family from power and into claustrophobic imprisonment in Siberia. Into Tania’s world comes a young soldier whose life she helps to save and who becomes her partner in daring plans to rescue the imperial family from certain death.

MY OPINION:

The story of The Tsarina’s Daughter is a completely fictional story of how might the life of Tatiana have been like and how she could have survived. The emphasis is on fictional. This is not a book which would dedicate itself to historical accuracy.

Nevertheless, The Tsarina’s Daughter is a book which gives the reader a good taste of the life in Russia in the early twentieth century. Though many characters and events are fictional, Erickson creates a vivid picture of the time and place.

On one side there is the aristocracy, spearheaded by the Romanovs. Through Erickson’s writing the reader can see the luxurious palaces, smell abundant feasts, and feel the smooth silk gowns. There are scandals and family problems, worries and weaknesses, small anecdotes and private conversations. They might not be real, but they could be very close to reality.

On the opposite side, there are dark, dirty streets, damp houses, cold, sickness, and hunger of the poor. When the war makes their lives still worse, the suffering of the unprivileged gives rise to revolutionary ideas, which slowly but resolutely start tearing apart the sheltered world of the Romanovs.

Erickson shows us the eternal gap yawning between the rulers and their subjects, the rich and the poor, who live in different realities. Instead of facing the problems and doing something about helping the people who they are supposed to be taking care of, the nobility rather buries their heads in the sand and pretend their life will forever continue the same way, because they do not want to lose their position. In a century this has not changed much and Erickson reminds us of that.

The plot focuses on Tania’s story. It is on many places farfetched, but the anecdotes and details of her life could have happened. Her survival is, naturally and sadly so, a product of imagination, but telling the story from her P. O. V. adds the air of authenticity.

The Tsarina’s Daughter is a book which creates a genuine atmosphere of a particular era in history. It is a compelling book you can enjoy if you are not too strict about historical accuracy.

RECOMMENDATION: Those readers who would like a general picture of the end of the Romanov era would enjoy this book which is trying to redeem historical brutality by providing a partially happy ending through imagination.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It Started a Year Ago

Actually, it started as soon as I knew how to read. Many years ago I boldly set off beyond strange new words to peek into fascinating worlds books have to offer.

I got the idea for starting a book blog one lovely day last summer when I was having a chat with my friend Irena (of This Miss Loves to Read) who had just started her own book blog. So, thank you, Irena, for the inspiration.

It took some contemplating on the name and getting the technicalities, and a year ago Beyond Strange New Words was born.


It was a quiet birth, no fireworks, not even a start up post; I just posted three reviews of the books I had just read then (if you are interested, those were Grace and Truth, Jerusalem, and a joint reflection on The Twilight Saga and The Host).

The main reason I started this blog is that I have never been good at remembering the titles and authors of the books I read, so it seemed a good idea to help me keep records of what a read. I did not imagine gaining so many followers and having so much fun book blogging.

Therefore, thanks to all of my readers, I am so glad of your interest in my blog.

Also, I have experienced so many great things through book blogging. I met a lot of wonderful fellow book bloggers; it is wonderful to see other people sharing my passion for reading.

Through book blogging I keep discovering great new books, I found my way to Goodreads, and I have recently joined Twitter (@StrangeNewWords). Participating in Random Magic Tour: Pirates! was an amazing blogging experience.

All in all, book blogging brought a lot of joy into my life and I plan to keep doing it. Thanks so much to everyone who make this so much fun. Especially, thanks to all my readers for being interested in my blog. I would gladly reward you with an awesome giveaway, but I am a little tight on money now, however, I hope I will be able to do this next year.

Finally, as an anniversary is a good time to try and improve things, I am asking you, my readers: what would you like me to change? Is there anything you dislike about my blog? Are you missing something? Do you wish there was more or less of a particular kind of content?  Feel free to leave your suggestions in comments, and I will try to make this blog better.

Thanks again to all the book blogging community, you are amazing and here is to you and another year! Cheers!

A glass of champagne [924635]

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (Immortals After Dark #4) by Kresley Cole


Note: This is a review of an adult book. Please, do not read either the review or the book reviewed unless you are an adult.

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's NightSUMMARY: Bowen MacRieve of the Lycae clan lost the one woman meant for him long ago. Cold and guilt-ridden, he alienates himself from everyone. Mariketa the Awaited is the most powerful witch in the history, but she cannot control her magic. Stil mortal, she joins the Talisman’s Hie to prove herself. 

Bowen hates witches. Mariketa does not trust the Lycae. 

As Mariketa’s spell costs Bowen the only chance to recover his mate and his trap almost costs Mariketa her life, they unwillingly join their paths. But in the world of immortals, nothing is as it seems when a dark force sets at work and soon something bigger than them is at stake. Will they be able to overcome their differences and defeat the enemy in time to find their happiness?

MY OPINION:
It is kind of unfair that this series is mainly known as adult romance, because there is so much more to it than that. In the fourth book, Cole continues to unveil more of her unique paranormal world, adding to it still new layers.

Whereas the love story between Bowen and Mariketa seemingly follows pretty much the classic pattern, it offers some refreshing surprises. Besides, their relationship develops slowly and the reasons for their feelings and actions are credible and well presented.

The charm of Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night is in details. Thus, the reader learns a few new things about its world and creatures. Cole is a good describer and she makes everything fit together very well.

To me, reading this series is beginning to feel like revisiting old friends as characters from the previous instalments recur. Lachlain and Emma reappear, ever so pleasant to read about them, and we also get a glimpse of Sebastian Wroth, who really grew on me. Then there is Nix, a somewhat psychotic Valkyrie soothsayer who is never wrong and is so much fun, so I would like to see more of her.

All in all, this book is a gripping mixture of familiar and unknown, with a few steamy scenes. The outline is well executed and the book reads smoothly and fast. In addition, Cole introduces some new minor characters whom I am already looking forward to reading about in the following books in the series.

RECOMMENDATION: If you can get past some sexually explicit scenes and language, Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night is a book with an intriguing paranormal world and characters. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Booking Through Thursday – Repeats


btt button 

What’s the first book that you ever read more than once? (I’m assuming there’s at least one.)
What book have you read the most times? And–how many?

I wish I could remember an exact answer to that. I have always been a re-reader, so I don’t know exactly which book was the first I reread. It might have been Heidi by Johanna Spyri, I loved it as a child and reread it several times.

The book I read the most times is without a doubt The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, although I only wish I knew how many times I read it. I lost track somewhere around the fifth or the sixth time, but I reread two or three more times since then. I am rereading it this year, too, and I think this might be the eight time, counting conservatively.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fallen (Fallen #1) by Lauren Kate

Fallen (Fallen, #1)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce – and goes out of his way to make that very clear – she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

MY OPINION:

Fortunately, I did not notice all the bad reviews for Fallen until after I had read it. However, I did not read them, because I do not want to downplay other people’s opinion or make my review defensive. Instead, I just want to say why I liked this book.

Firstly, Fallen is a thoroughly engaging read. I had been putting it off for quite a while before starting it, since four hundred fifty and something pages looked so bulky, but then I virtually gulped it down. Its intriguing plot hooked me right at the beginning.  

Secondly, I love the setting. At first, Sword & Cross and its surroundings appeared to be the dullest and the ugliest setting in the book ever. However, Kate skilfully reveals the details which make this place not only interesting, but also strewn with spots of beauty. This is especially so in case of the cemetery. Whereas cemeteries are as a rule not the places I would like to visualise, Kate’s depiction of the creepy, decaying, and yet beautiful Sword & Cross cemetery makes it a fascinating setting.

Next, the selection of characters in Fallen is odd, but strangely complementary. The teenagers at Sword & Cross are all branded as bad kids, but in the course of reading the reader uncovers their diversity. Both the two main characters and the minor characters are well developed and turn out rather surprising.

Luce is a character I could really get into. She is the girl who is struggling with her secret all her life, and I truly felt for her. She is suffering, but instead of getting help, revealing her secret only makes it worse, so she has to keep it to herself while trying to understand it. It is an extremely difficult situation, and it made me thinking about our attitude towards the people who claim they are in contact with supernatural forces and about the existence of these forces. I think Luce’s predicament is well-dealt with, and she makes a great strong and independent character.

Daniel is a mysterious character. His hands are pretty much tied if he wants to protect Luce. Therefore, Daniel and Luce learn about each other slowly, one piece of the puzzle after another. It is prudent to go about their relationship so carefully and yet persistently, and it fits the story. The only problem I have with this book is that there is still so much left unknown about Daniel’s history and how he got himself in trouble so to speak, nevertheless I believe everything will be cleared up in the sequels to Fallen. 

Finally, Fallen is a book that follows its own rules which are constructed in the way that makes the setting, the characters, and the plot work well together. I am definitely going to read the rest of the trilogy to find out how everything unravels.

RECOMMENDATION: Fallen is a complex book in a simple way. On the surface it may be an easy read about teenage love, but if one ventures to look underneath, there may be unexpected depths to be found for consideration. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (July 19, 2011)


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
MY TEASERS: 

Northanger Abbey


"But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way."

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen p. 5

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cat Diary (7): A Comic

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

  
I know. It’s been a long time. Sorry. But nothing much was going on these days. What can I say - lazy summer. It looked like this:



 



                  
By the way, that is my new favourite nap spot. Pepca wasn’t too keen on my choice, but she had to give in soon. I can be very persistent to get what I want.

Take some time off and have a nice rest,


P.S.: Pepca apologizes for the bad quality of the photos, she took them with her cell phone and I don't like posing for the camera too much.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Wedding Date (2005)

 SUMMARY (from IMDB): Single-girl anxiety causes Kat Ellis (Messing) to hire a male escort (Mulroney) to pose as her boyfriend at her sister's wedding. Her plan, an attempt to dupe her ex-fiancé, who dumped her a couple years prior, proves to be her undoing.

D
IRECTOR: Clare Kilner; CAST: Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Jack Davenport…


MY OPINION: 


After a bad and depressing day some time ago this romantic comedy was exactly what I needed to cheer me up.

The Wedding Date follows a predictable, simple plot-line, which is perfect for when you want to rest your mind. There are two strangers who meet on “business” purpose, get to know each other, and gradually fall in love. In the meantime, there are some thoroughly funny situations that made me laugh out loud. Of course, it does not do without one or two misunderstandings, arguments, and a few tears. But it all ends as it should, and they all live happily ever after.

The acting is good and the film is paced just right, not too slow or too fast. There are some very clever lines said. The following statement made me melt: “I’d miss you even if we’d never met.” Now, that is romantic.

Overall, this is a typical nice, light film to help you unwind after a hard day.

RECOMMENDATION: If a girl needs to relax and have a good laugh, this is the film to watch.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It Must Be Love by Rachel Gibson

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Undercover cop Joe Shanahan's bad luck hit bottom the morning he stared up into the face of sexy suspect Gabrielle Breedlove. She'd blown his cover – brought  him down with a can of hairspray – and now his new assignment was to pose as her boyfriend. But spending as much time as possible with the utterly irresistible New Age beauty caused unexpected complications. To make matters worse, his matchmaking sisters are picking out china patterns. Joe's brooding good looks and T-shirt-straining muscles might be easy on the eyes, but how could Gabrielle be attracted to a straight-laced detective who's determined to find evidence to arrest her? Still, he invades her dreams and when they share a transcendent lovemaking experience, Gabrielle knows it must be love.

MY OPINION:

It Must Be Love is a book a girl picks up when she needs comfort reading – something  to make her forget all the stress and worries. It is a nicely flowing book without any major shocks.

The characters are just enough complex to be interesting but not too complicated. Gabrielle is a naïve new-age type of a woman and self-proclaimed pacifist, but she is also capable of kicking some ass. Joe has unresolved issues about an arrest that went awry and wants to make up for it, but he is basically a nice guy who would like to settle down with the right woman.

Both characters have intriguing families and I liked the way their families’ dynamics are presented in the book. Also, Gibson’s dialogues are true to life and on several occasions genuinely funny.

Overall, It Must Be Love may not stand out for any particular quality or stay with you for a long time, but it is a nice and enjoyable read.

RECOMMENDATION: This is a typical chick-lit book – an easy and quick read which gives you a few good laughs to unwind.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Mini-Readathon Mini-Challenge #5


Sarah at Sarah Says hosts Summer Mini-Readathon. The last mini-challenge is a simple end-of-the-event survey.

1. How many books and/or pages were you able to read?

I read one book and approximately a half of the second book or 460 pages.

2. About how many hours were you able to read for? (Were there many distractions, breaks, etc?)

I read for six hours. I spent a lot of time online blogging, checking other blogs and tweets, watched news (some at least), had some snacks – no ice-cream, though, took my cat out and some other minor things one has to do and time flew.

3. Do you have any likes/dislikes about the 12-hour readathon, compared to a 24-hour readathon?

This was my first readathon. I was thinking of joining a 24-hour readathon in the past, but I have a lot of things to take care of at home, so I just can’t afford myself to commit so much of my time. Plus, I need my sleep. I have been up for 24 hours only one day in my life so far.  12-hour period is much better. It allowed me to do quite a lot of reading and still do all the other things.

4. Favorite and least favorite books that you read today?

Of the two books I was reading, Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole was my favourite – it was far more interesting and better written. Although both books seem of the same easy-read type based on genre and titles, they are quite different. It Must Be Love by Rachel Gibson was a really easy easy-read, predictable, and writing was really nothing special (plus I read it in Slovene translation and there were a few awkward translations). Cole’s book was much more suspenseful and the writing is enjoyable, too. 

5. Do you have any suggestions for things you'd like me to do differently if I host another mini-readathon?

I honestly have no idea – and the summer heat here is killing my thinking capacity.

I think you did a splendid job. This was a really well-organised event and I loved the mini-challenges, which were all fun to participate in.

Summer Mini-Readathon Mini-Challenge #4




Sarah at Sarah Says hosts Summer Mini-Readathon. The fourth mini-challenge is: 

Take a picture (using your camera, webcam, phone... whatever) of where you're reading today for the readathon, or your favorite places to read.

Most often I read on my bed:


or on the living room sofa:


Summer Mini-Readathon Mini-Challenge #3


Jenn at Booksessed hosts Mini-Challenge #3:


Pick one of the books that you're reading during the readathon. Post a pic of the cover. Then go find a cover of another edition that you love: paperback vs. hard, second editions, international, fan-made...whatever strikes your fancy. Or pick one that you don't get/like or both! Post both pics in your blog stating what you like or don't like about the covers, then link up your post. It's that simple.


I was reading Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark #4) by Kresley Cole. This is the cover of my edition:

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night

I think this cover fits the title and the content perfectly, especially the background elements - the Moon, winter, headstone. The characters are represented well, and I like the fact that their faces are obsured. I want to make my own image of the characters and places, so I don't like too revealing covers, such as:

Versuchung des Blutes

This is the cover of the German edition. It reveals far too much (and the people on the cover are miles from the characters' depiction). Also this cover gives an impression the book is all about sex, which is not at all the case. Sex is a part of the book, but it is not even its focus on my opinion.

However, my absolutely favourite cover is:

Dark passion

According to Goodreads, this is still the same book, just titled differently. I think the original title tells more about the book than this one, although all the titles in this series are in a way misleading and do not tell a lot about the content. The cover, though, is beautiful and fits the title. It also fits the content - the dark purple of the rose, frosted, emerging from the darkness. It is simply gorgeous.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Mini-Readathon Mini-Challenges #1




Sarah at Sarah Says hosts Summer Mini-Readathon. The first mini-challenge! It's pretty basic - a start-of-the-event survey.

1. Tell everyone three random things about yourself:

- 1) I sometimes watch cycling races TV broadcasts to see some great places – right now the scenery – nature, cities, castles – on Tour de France is amazing.

- 2) Over the past few months I’ve become a little (okay, a lot) addicted to anything connected to The Vampire Diaries – watched the show, currently working through the books (so far read four), and of course love the music from the show.     

- 3) I eat fish, but I don’t like seafood. 

2. Is this your first readathon?

Yes.

3. Do you have any specific goals for today? (# of books or pages to read?)

I want to read two books (or 500 pages).

4. Do you have any specific snacks, drinks, or books planned?

Snacks: I will have some chocolate-vanilla-strawberry ice-cream, and sin with some chocolate, though.

Drink: I usually drink water, nothing special in that department.

Book plans: I was saving Kresley Cole’s Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night for this event; otherwise I’ll grab what I feel in the mood for.

5. What hours do you plan on reading during? 

I’m planning on reading during noon to midnight European Central Summer Time – CEST (that is 6. a.m. to 6. p.m. US EST, if my calculation is correct).

It’s Summer Mini-Readathon Day



So, today is the day. Sarah at Sarah Says hosts Summer Mini-Readathon.

As it often happens to me, I was not sure how much I would be able to participate up until the last minute, even though I signed up pretty early. However, a friend cancelled our meeting (*makes sad, disappointed face*), but that’s what the books are for, to make us feel better, right. So, on the good side, I can do a lot of reading.

I decided to do the Mini-Readathon between noon and midnight European Central Summer Time - CEST (that is 6. a.m. to 6. p.m US EST, if my calculation is correct). I chose this time, because I had things to do in the morning (going to Church being one of them) and I don’t have to get up early tomorrow.

My book pile at hand: 

It Must be Love by Rachel Gibson
Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night  (Immortals After Dark #4) by Kresley Cole
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Nightfall (The Vampire Diaries #5) by L. J Smith

I decided to just add updates as they come to this post. I will, however, put up separate posts for mini-challenges. 

And since it is 4 p.m. here, this starting post already needs updates.

UPDATE #1

  • Time: 4 p.m. CEST (10 a m. US EST)
  • Books read: 1 – It Must be Love by Rachel Gibson (276 pages), Slovene translation, 
  • Reading time: 2 hrs 15 min
  • Break time:  50 min for lunch & washing up, 45 min and still running for doing this post, posting….


UPDATE #2

  •  Time: 8 p.m. CEST (2 p m. US EST)
  • Books read since the last update: I'm on page 80 of Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole
  • Reading time: 1 hrs 40 min
  •  Total number of pages read so far: 355
  •  Total reading time so far: 3 hrs 55 min


UPDATE #3

  •  Time: 12 p.m. CEST (6 p m. US EST)
  • Books read since the last update: I'm on page 184 of Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole
  • Reading time: 2 hrs 5 min

FINAL STATS:

  •  Books read: 1 and a half
  • Total number of pages read : 460
  • Total reading time: 6 hrs 


FINAL THOUGHTS:

I had a blast doing this. I felt a little tired and sleepy towards the end, but otherwise it was great, especially knowing other people are reading at the same time as me. I would have probably read more if I started with the second book and then read the first but it really doesn't matter. I did quite a lot of reading - it does not happen often that I read one and a half book in a day. Of course I will be reading the remaining books on the pile (see above) in the next days (or better said - weeks). Overall, this was a fun experience. 


Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Luxe (Luxe #1) by Anna Godbersen

The Luxe (Luxe, #1)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): In the self-contained world of young Gilded Age Manhattan socialites, Elizabeth and Diana Holland reign supreme. Or so it seems. Scratch the surface, though, and you can detect festering jealousies that threaten to topple them. Elizabeth suffers a more literal fall when her carriage overturns and she is carried away by the swift East River current. That's only the beginning of the action and suspense in The Luxe, the launch volume in a teen series by Anna Godbersen.

MY OPINION:

T
hrough more than three quarters of the book I was wavering between loving it and hating it. The last sixty pages or so made me tilt to the first option.
The Luxe is basically a soap opera in the written form. I love soap operas. And I hate them. That is, I love splendour and romance, but I hate scheming and misunderstandings.

Now, I must explain myself. I am the kind of a reader who suffers when being in the know of what the characters have no idea about, especially when it hurts them. It makes me nervous and I wish I could skip all of it and just find out what happens. Although, I am perfectly fine with scheming when I can solve it alongside the characters. Knowing the core of the problem in advance, however, does not work from me. Unfortunately, The Luxe follows the let-the-reader-be-in-the-know concept, which I don't like. 

Godbersen knows how to create ambience. Her writing conjures luxurious homes, glamorous attires and dazzling people right before your eyes. Then it takes you from all the wealth to the modest rooms of the less fortunate, their rough dresses, and daily toiling. As Godbersen lets you take a look at the lives of the New York society of the late 19th century, she shows you a two-sided canvas: one side out in the open for everybody to see, and the other hidden, dark, full of secrets.

What bothered me the most in The Luxe was the insincerity in the relationships between people. Everyone is so concerned with decorum that nobody says what they truly mean. Even family members cannot openly speak to each other about what troubles them, because it is not appropriate, thus the relations between them are often unaffectionate due to numerous misunderstandings. 

The one character I truly liked and rooted for in this book was Diana Holland. She is a rebellious girl who speaks her thoughts. She is pristine, full of life, adventurous and unlike any other society girl. She reads inappropriate books in her craving for knowledge and breaks rules. Wanting to find out what happens to Diana was what kept me reading all those times I was about to give up on the book.

Her sister Elizabeth is a good character, too, but she feels bound by duty to her family, which almost makes her ruin her chances for happiness. I was really sad for her alienation from her sister, but I was really happy that the circumstances forced her to step out of conformity and try to make her own luck.

Overall, the social atmosphere of the era with its hypocritical conventions does not appeal to me, which made me struggle thorough the book. However, the story of the Holland sisters is intriguing. Therefore, I will continue reading the series, because I am very curious about how their lives continue.

RECOMMENDATION: This is the book for someone who likes a well-described settings and vivid atmosphere of the Gilded Age. 

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