Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Surviving with Wolves by Misha Defonseca


Surviving with WolvesSUMMARY (from Goodreads): This book was supposed to be an amazing true survival story of a little girl whose parents were taken to Auschwitz. She made her way through the woods of Europe during the WW2 and was later adopted by a family of wolves who took care of her. Later she found her way back home but never met her parents again. However, it has been revealed that the author Misha Defonseca (real name Monique De Wael) made up the whole story. She was not even Jewish. De Wael was brought up Catholic but kept on insisting her story was true up until it was found out to be a fabrication in March 2008.

MY OPINION:

I read this book before finding out that it was made up. I thought it was incredible. Realizing it was all a lie shocked me. I did not know what to think at first. Fictional WW II novels are being written all the time and it is nothing wrong with making up a story about that time which could be true. What bothers me is the lie. The author selling this as her own experience, although it was not, casts a bad light on the book. It would be all right if the author just presented it as her work of fiction.

Nevertheless, I am glad I read this book and I still like it very much. If looked upon as a work of fiction, it is a great book. Some plot elements are exaggerated, but for the most part Mishke’s story could truly happen. After all, anything is possible in this world. And I know plenty of strange things that happened during WW II that I think this story would certainly be possible in those particular circumstances.

Defonseca knows her subject well. Her portrayal of Miske’s psyche, her journey, the people she meets and the animals’ behaviour is credible.

Mishke’s character is amazing. The book is written from Mishke’s point of view. Her narration fits her character and sounds very natural. It made me see things through her eyes and feel what she feels. She is not a wild child or mentally challenged. She is just a child fighting for survival, using the logic she has at hand, the logic based on the scarce information she possesses. The way she is treated by adults is very realistic and so are her reactions. All of this makes Mishke a likeable character. Her way of reasoning is plausible and this is what makes the story sound authentic.

RECOMMENDATION: If you take this book as a work of fiction, Surviving with Wolves is an intriguing narrative of a story that could happen during WW II. It is a fast read with some poignant and straightforward passages about people’s nature.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman


The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel ChristSUMMARY: (from Goodreads): Part novel, part history, part fairytale, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ offers a radical new take on the myths and the mysteries of the Gospels, and the genesis of church that has so shaped the course of the last two millennia. With all the magic for which Pullman's storytelling is famed, this provocative and thoughtful new book from one of Britain's best loved writers promises to be the highest profile yet in Canongate's acclaimed Myths Series.

MY OPINION:

This book is an example of a unique approach to presenting the author’s view on Christianity and the Catholic Church. Philip Pullman, a self-proclaimed atheist, presents his view on the ideas of Christianity - the good side, illustrated in the character of Jesus, whereas the character of Christ represents the Catholic Church - clearly presenting the bad side.

As a Christian, I find it difficult to say anything specific about this book without explaining my religious beliefs. However, a book review is not a place for such a thing. Therefore, I will just say that The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ deserves recognition for its originality and the author's knowledge on the subject. Hence, I rate it **A LITTLE STRANGE due to its language and creativity. The content is on my opinion impossible to rate, since the book deals with a complex issue resolvable only by everyone on their own, or not even that.

This book is a highly provocative and thought-provoking read. It asks a lot of questions and tests the readers’ beliefs. It is the kind of book that demands an open mind and must be taken with (more than) a grain of salt. 

RECOMMENDATION: This is a not a book for people who are easily offended or not ready to put their beliefs to a test.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cat Diary (13): Playthings


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


November was a dull month – cloudy and foggy, nothing to do but sleep. But, a cat has to have some fun and exercise, which is when toys come in handy.

Now, I have some balls to chase: a colourful jingling ball, a mini orange basketball, and a soft yellow one, which is my favourite.

Wanna play? It's my jingling ball.

Then there is always the piece of string Pepca uses to tease me with, and I indulge her when I feel like it, so I chase after her and pretend I can’t snatch it from her. It’s hilarious. Let her run around!

However, the best playthings are those that aren’t intended to be played with, such as Pepca’s ballpoint pens and portable USB-devices (not that I get a chance to poke one of those often). 

Don’t be all work and no play! Still, play nicely, till next time,



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book Nook #2



Book Nooks
*Every weekend*
Show us something pretty!

 Fantastic reading nook.

Commentary: All those bookcases! The combination of wood and red colour creates a rustic ambient with a hint of aristocracy. The seat/bench in the bay window looks comfortable and I love that there is a lot of light.

Details: Location and artist unknown, not given in original post.
Source: I found it on Tumblr.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall; CAST: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Cruz), and he's not sure if it's love – or if she’s a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.

MY OPINION:

I did not find On Stranger Tides as good as the previous three Pirates of the Caribbean films. For one thing, I missed Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly. I enjoyed the film, nonetheless.

The story seems to be a little mellow in comparison to the previous films. It does not have the same gripping focus, at least not to me. It did not hold me in suspense from the beginning to the end.

Nevertheless, I had a fun two hours. Jack Sparrow is amusing enough and he always saves the day. He always manages to find trouble, too, but that is more or less one and the same thing.

The part I liked the most was the mermaid story arc. It added something fresh to the whole brand. I was bored a couple of times by too long action sequences, but that is just me – a sword-fight longer than thirty seconds with a predictable outcome does not enthral me.

All in all, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the kind of film one would expect after seeing the previous three. Still, it is a good film with great actors and some compelling moments.

RECOMMENDATION: This is a nice relaxation film which makes you hold your breath and laugh a few times. Perfect if you like pirates, action, witty humour, and a pinch of romance.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Phantom (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #1) by L. J. Smith*


Phantom: v. 8 (The Vampire Diaries)*this book was written by an anonymous ghost-writer

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Since meeting vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore, Elena Gilbert has been to hell and back. Now that she and her friends have saved their hometown from a demonic sprit, everything can finally go back to normal. But Elena should know better than anyone that Fell’s Church will never be normal. In Phantom, a dangerous new other-worldly threat sets its sights on Elena. And this time she can only count on one Salvatore brother to protect her.

MY OPINION:

I was a little afraid of being disappointed by this book as I heard plenty of speculations regarding how it would differ from the rest of the series, but fortunately all my hopes for it have been realised and my fear was unfounded. The ghost-writer does a good job, keeping the familiar elements and improving the shortcoming(s) of the previous books.

Truly, Phantom has a somewhat different feel that the rest of the series so far, mainly due to writing which is considerably improved. Apart from two typos and a few awkward formulations the writing is generally good. The transitions between the scenes are smooth and coherent, taking away the messiness and confusion of the previous books. 

Consequently, Phantom may seem less intense than the previous books as the plot does not jump from one event to another. While allowing the reader to savour the story, the plot remains dynamic and unpredictable, offering plenty of surprises. Nevertheless, Phantom is less frantic (which is a good thing) than other books in the series, because it gives an equal focus to the plot and the characters.

The characters are the same familiar faces I love, but naturally, they change and develop, as they should. Throughout the series, the character that changes the most is Damon, and in Phantom the traits of his personality already explored and developed in The Return trilogy are shown in their full potential.

The characters’ personalities, emotions, and relationships among them are the basis of Phantom. The set of events forces the characters to bring out their most hidden parts, their most secret emotions. The new supernatural evil in Phantom has everything to do with feelings; hence we get to see the worst of the individual characters as their negative emotions gets amplified and twisted. I loved the portrayal of this new supernatural creature – it fits perfectly to the concept it represents (I can not say which as to avoid spoilers).

Finally, I have to say I love how the titles of this series always correspond to the story, yet I can never guess from the title how it is connected to the story and finding it out always pleasantly surprises me. The same goes for Phantom. I had had my speculations and expectations, but I still did not guess right. This, in addition to everything else I mentioned, makes this book an enticing read.

RECOMMENDATION: If one can keep an open mind and not hate the book just because it was written by a ghost-writer and give it a real chance, Phantom is a great read, preserving the already familiar features of the series and at the same time taking it to a new level. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just Some Thoughts


There are just some miscellaneous books and blogging related things that I want to share with you but they do not really belong in any other post, so here they are:

a)     Today I’m a guest at Library Mosaic: I’m playing the devil’s Damon’s advocate in Carla’s cool feature called Team Smackdown. She features a different team duel every week, this one is the third and there are plenty more on the list plus she is giving away some goodies. She could also use some help in defending different teams. So go check it out!

b)     I started The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún by J. R. R. Tolkien yesterday. I skipped the foreword and introductory notes and went straight to the poetry, but I’m going to read those later on. I am making this the fourth book for the LOTR Read-Along hosted by Loren at The Story Girl instead of The Silmarillion. Though, I might still reread The Silmarillion as I love the book, but at the moment I just don’t feel like rereading it.

c)     I read Phantom, the eighth book in The Vampire Diaries series, on Sunday. I have the review ready for tomorrow, but there are two things I want to say about it that don’t belong into a review, so I’m saying them here.

Firstly, there is quite a campaign against this book as it is not written by L. J. Smith but by a ghost-writer. I had expressed my sympathies with L. J. Smith situation before and I stand by what I said (the unfairness and all). However, as Mrs. Smith herself said not to boycott the ghost-writer and as I wanted more of the story and characters, I read the book and I am glad I did (more in the actual review tomorrow).

Secondly, related to the issue above, I have seen lots of hate toward this book from the people who have not read it and only presume it would be bad. I’m happy I did not cave in under such opinions and checked out the book by myself. The lesson to be learned from this (considering any book): keep an open mind and check it out by yourself if you feel like it. You can still hate it later. But at least it will be your opinion, not someone else’s.

This is it. Enough of rambling. And thank you for reading! You are welcome to express any related or unrelated thoughts in the comments.

Teaser Tuesday #11



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: 


The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún"The Gods gathered
on golden thrones,
of doom and death
deeply pondered,
how fate should be fended,
their foes vanquished,

their labour healed,
light rekindled."


The Legend of Sigurd and Gudr
úby J. R. R. Tolkien, p. 61

"The guests were many:
grim their singing,
boar's-flesh eating,
beakers draining;
mighty ones of Earth

mailclad sitting
for one they waited
the World's chosen."


The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrúby J. R. R. Tolkien, p. 65

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Nook #1



Book Nooks
*Every weekend*
Show us something pretty!

 

Commentary: This looks like a comfortable and warm place to read during these cold days. You can even read on the extension of the fireplace for extra warmth: you just need a blanket, perhaps another pillow and, of course, a good book. The orange colour is invigorating and uplifting for the spirit.

Details: Location and artist unknown, not given in original post.
Source: I found it on the manufacturer's site.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Burning, Really?


People have different tastes. This is good. The world would be a very boring place if we were all alike. This is also true when it comes to books. Recently, I have been reading reviews and ratings of the books I read on Goodreads and I noticed that virtually every book has all the ratings – from one to five stars. Of course some books have more five-star ratings and almost none one-star rating, and the other way around.

So far so good. However, what bothered me was seeing so much hate some one-star raters expressed towards certain books they did not like. The top of it was a commentary that said a particular book should be BURNED and the writer of this review says the author of this book was condemned to hell by writing the book in question.

It is perfectly all right to dislike a book. It is perfectly fine to say so. But I was and still am appalled by that comment. Book burning? Such a hateful statement. Are not people entitled to form their own opinion based on their own reading? I think they are, no matter which book it concerns.

It made me go over some of my reviews and see whether I am imposing my opinion on anyone. I think not. I hope not. I try not to. What do you think? Please do tell me if you think I might be doing this, because it is the last thing I want as I know how awful it looks like.

I dislike some books too. In my reviews I say why it is so and I usually add who probably would not like the book. But I try not to force my opinion on others. The same goes for the books I like. I realize some of my reviews are very enthusiastic, but I think I make it clear enough others may think differently. I also state this in my review policy. And I wholeheartedly mean it.

Anyone can like or dislike any book and express their opinion. But I think it is necessary to allow other people do the same. Tolerance and peaceful cohabitation in this world starts with little things, books included.

What do you think? When it comes to a book you dislike or that is against your beliefs, do you discourage other people from reading it? Or, would you condemn people for reading certain kinds of books?

I must say that judging from the reviews by you, my fellow book bloggers, this post is preaching to the choir. I have not seen any hateful reviews on any book blog so far since I started blogging more than a year ago. I am very happy about it.

Now, I am done with preaching and I apologise for it. Please, feel free to express your opinion about the questions in this post or anything related in the comments.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen


A Doll's HouseSUMMARY (from Goodreads): A Doll's House is the story of Nora Helmer who has secretly borrowed a large sum of money to help her husband recover from a serious illness. Nora who has borrowed this money by forging her father's signature soon discovers the value of the relationship she has with her husband, Torvald, when he becomes the director of the bank that employs the man, Nils Krogstad, who has lent the money to Nora. When it is discovered that Nils has commited a forgery himself, Nils threatens to reveal Nora's secret to her husband if she does not convince Torvald to allow Nils to keep his position at the bank. A Doll's House is a gripping drama about a failing, loveless marriage.

MY OPINION:

In the beginning A Doll’s House just seemed ridiculous. I did not like Nora, who acted as a spoiled, wasteful, silly woman. I disliked Torvald even more, because he was treating Nora as a toy, a doll who does not have her own mind but has to do everything as he says, thinking included.

Although Nora grows a spine and becomes rather likeable at the end, there is one thing about what she does that I do not approve of. Also, the story line of other characters is wrapped up rather quickly and is not entirely convincing.

Nevertheless, this play is an interesting read; it is fast-paced, and the course of action and the characters are easily imaginable. The resolution is not predictable at all; I never expected it to end the way it does.

RECOMMENDATION: A Doll’s House is an enticing read about a failed relationship and people pushing after a desired social status. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Guys and Molls: Sing, You Sinners! (and Get Some Goodies)



Guys and Molls
Event production by
Sasha Soren (Random Magic)

SWEET MUSIC OF THE JAZZ AGE

Sing, you sinners! Or dance. Or both! Just have some fun, as we used to do.

And boy did we know how to have fun during the 1920s and 1930s! Surely, there were Prohibition and the Great Depression, all the more reason to get some distraction and have a good time.

This was The Jazz Age, and there was jazz being played everywhere: in dance halls, roadhouses and speakeasies all over the country. The good would call it the devil’s music in the beginning, but soon everybody would enjoy it.

Now, the kind of jazz that was immensely popular with the majority back then is now called “sweet music” and the music that people consider today as “jazz” was played by minorities and called “hot music” or “race music.”

This was also the era of Broadway’s prime years, opening over 50 new musicals a year. Musical comedies gained their popularity not only through being entertaining, but also for their quality, as the jazz pieces were composed by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Vincent Youmans among others.

Paul Whiteman, known as the King of Jazz, was the most popular bandleader in the 1920s. He was the one who commissioned Gershwin’s jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue for his orchestra.

This is an abridged version of Rhapsody in Blue, as used in Whiteman’s talking picture called King of Jazz. Click on YouTube description for more information.


One of the most successful singers of the 20th century, Bing Crosby, launched his career being hired for Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. Soon, Crosby’s songs topped bestselling lists.

Out of Nowhere was Crosby’s first number one solo hit:


The main centre of developing “hot jazz” was our good old Chicago, and the leading force of the genre was King Oliver whose songs are still regularly played, for example Sweet like This.  

  
You can find more information about King Oliver here.


King Oliver was a mentor to Louis Armstrong, whom he greatly influenced. He was the composer of one of Armstrong’s most famous recordings, West End Blues:


Louis Armstrong’s band Hot Five popularised scant singing, that is: improvised singing with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all, which means singers sing improvised melodies and rhythms, creating the equivalent of an instrumental solo with their voice. The greatest scant singer in jazz history is considered to be Ella Fitzgerald, who was highly influenced by The Boswell Sisters, especially Connee Boswell, immensely popular during the 1930s via recordings and radio. Their #1 hit was The Object of My Affection (find more on The Boswell Sisters in the description here):


The genre which had a great impact on jazz prior and during the 1920s and 1930s was blues. The most famous female blues singer and one of the best singers of her era was Bessie Smith.


In 1930s, Bessie Smith changed her style into something fitting the swing era. Swing evolved from jazz and became a trendy new distinctive style in the second half of the 1930s. some of the most prominent big band leaders were Harry James, Benny Goodman, and the Dorsey Brothers, who often helped launch the careers of vocalists who later became famous as solo artists.

One of the most popular songs of the time was Stardust, recorded by anyone from Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller to our very own (allegedly) Frank Sinatra.

Let me conclude with Sinatra’s recording of Stardust with Harry James and his orchestra.


  
This Guys and Molls feature has been brought to you by Miss Melody aka Melody Mistress of the Beyond Strange New Words syndicate.



Guys and Molls - Goodies



WIN this hilarious deck of flashcards, and you'll have fun learning how to sling some lingo.
About: Get a line on this racket: flashcards feature famous one-liners
and slang from 1930s gangster classics. Dish out some gangster speak
and your pals and enemies will think you were made
for the silver screen. 30 movie flashcards, boxed.

AND



WIN this great multi-title DVD, which includes four of the best
gangster movies that were ever made. Host your own 1930s mobster movie
marathon!
About: There are four vintage films included on this DVD.


The Public Enemy (1931) - A taut, realistic time capsule of the Prohibition Era, showcasing James Cagney's powerhouse breakthrough as a streetwise tough guy who rises high in the bootleg racket. The Roaring Twenties (1939) - Screen legends Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino star in this soulful study of a gangster whose hard-boiled persona finds itself at war with his compassionate side - a side that will ultimately be his downfall. Little Caesar (1930) - Loosely based on the life of real-life Prohibition-era mobster, the infamous Al Capone. Edward G. Robinson rocketed to stardom as a pugnacious hoodlum who murderously rises to the top ranks of the underworld. Smart Money (1931) - In their only screen teaming, Little Caesar's Edward G. Robinson leads the way and The Public Enemy's James Cagney rides shotgun in this brisk tale of barbers who go from cutting hair to cutting in on the gambling racket. (Source: Amazon product description)

HOW TO PLAY - there are four steps, but they're all fun and easy to do:

1. Leave a comment on this post, giving your take on this question: What was your favorite music track of the era and why? Feel free to sign it with your own mobster nickname or syndicate, or Twitter name.

2. Comment on ANY other second Guys and Molls post. (Browse event schedule)

3. Comment on ANY other third Guys and Molls post.

4. Share a link to ANY Guys and Molls post on Twitter.

Note: Please remember to include email address in entry form so you can be contacted if you win.
Additional info: International. DVD is region 1/NTSC but should play on multi-region player.
Winner will be selected at random using random.org.
Ends December 15, 2011, midnight, EST.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma


ForbiddenSUMMARY (from Goodreads): She is pretty and talented  sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.

MY OPINION:

Incest is something usually regarded as abominable. However, I could not find one thing that would be even remotely disgusting in the relationship between Lochan and Maya. Not one. On the contrary, I felt deep sympathy for these two characters throughout the book.

The relationship between Maya and Lochan is well-developped and perfectly paced, their feelings pristine; they are extremely likable characters from the start on. Their love is pure and strong, and seems so right. Despite knowing they had virtually no chance for a happy ending, I really hoped they somehow make it through. 

In spite of being centred on Lochan and Maya, Forbidden is also a book about kids who are being let down by their parents as well as by the society in general. The latter is not surprising – institutions are rigid and unfeeling towards particular circumstances of an individual. Naturally, I wish it could be different. Even more disturbing to me is the attitude of the parents in this book.

I know a little bit of how it feels to have to grow up too early, to take care of yourself and your parent instead of your parent taking care of you, though, thankfully, my experience was not as bad as described in this book. This is the reason why I can understand the difficulty of the situation for these kids. I can relate to their covering up for their mother and their fear of being separated. In the end, nothing is more important than family staying together, all the more so if the siblings are the only real family left.

I cannot say how I detest the mother in this book. She is a self-centred, selfish excuse for a mother, a woman who should not have had children, acting towards them the way she is.

Forbidden is not only a well-written, but also a beautifully written book. Suzuma’s writing brings the characters to life, her clearly substantiated language enabling the reader to understand the characters feelings and actions.

Although I expected Forbidden to end badly, I did not anticipate it to end in such a way. I cried myself though the last two chapters. The saddest thing of all to me was how everything fell apart because of one silly unfortunate event. 

This is a very valuable lesson from this book: it takes only one little thing to ruin everything. It is the eternal “what if” question – what if somebody did something differently. Hence, one of the most important lessons one can learn from Forbidden is to be sensitive to how what we do affects other people.

SPOILER (highlight if you want to see it): The possibility of how differently could the story end if Kit's teacher had not humiliated him  although probably unintentionally  in front of the entire class makes it all the more sad. It is a good reminder, not only for me as a teacher, but for everyone, that even our tiniest, presumably innocent actions can have a devastating effect on other people.  END OF SPOILER.

RECOMMENDATION: All I can say is: read this book. Even if you think it is not exactly your kind of read. Even if you think you will be disturbed by some things. It is meant to be this way. Forbidden gives you a lot to feel, to think about, and to learn.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Coming soon! Guys and Molls (November 10 – 17)


 

Guys and Molls
Event production by
Sasha Soren (Random Magic)

November 10 – 17, 2011

November 10
Lit noir – Fictional henchmen

November 11
Concrete shoes and tommy guns – How to talk like a gangster

November 12
Double feature
vvb32reads (@vvb32reads)
Secret doors and liquid fire – Speakeasies
and
Theater of the air – Radio show: Angels with Dirty Faces

November 13
Sing, you sinners! – Vintage mobster music

November 14
Mob rules – A mafia code of honor
and
Splash of our Worlds (@SplashOOWorlds)
Rogue's gallery – Top 15 vintage mob flicks

November 15
Kings of the boardwalk empire – Atlantic City's real-life wise guys
and
Reviews from my First Reads Shelf (Twitter N/A)
Jimmy Blue Eyes and the Wizard of Odds – Mobster nicknames

November 16
The bitter end – Assassinated gangsters
and
Inky Pages - Coffee and a Good Book (vlog) (@inkypages)
Inky Pages (blog)
From ink to screen – Mob movies based on books, short stories or plays

November 17
Pinstripes and fedoras – Gangster fashion

And event goodies! Details available on event posts.

*****COMING SOON*****
November 10 – 17, 2011
*****************************

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Queen of the Damned (The Vampire Chronicles #3) by Anne Rice


The Queen of the Damned (The Vampire Chronicles, #3)SUMMARY: The Vampire Lestat, a rock star, is preparing for a concert in San Francisco. Across the globe, various individuals, mortal and immortal, are disturbed by a chilling dream of red-haired twins, which they cannot explain. The Queen of the Damned is walking. Death is everywhere. The destiny of both mankind and vampires is at stake.

MY OPINION:
This book was for the most part a slow read for me, but some things are so good they are better when savoured slowly, and this was such a case due to mainly two reasons.

First of all, the stories of various characters in the beginning seem rather loosely connected. However the different parts soon come together, forming each on their own and as a whole a compelling plot.

Secondly, Rice’s writing tackles many philosophical and ethical themes, which made me pause frequently, reread a paragraph, and think about the issue it deals with. I like it how Rice exposes various questions without giving her answers but rather leaving it to the reader to come to their own conclusions. In this way she deals with feminism, nature of genders, warfare, poverty, inequality, the potentials for peace in the world, and how people justify means to an end. There is a lot of symbolism in The Queen of the Damned, drawing parallels to history and religion.

The most surprising theme in The Queen of the Damned was cannibalism. Although this is an occurrence normally considered revolting, Rice provides a logical background to the concept, which makes it virtually consecrated.

There is nothing black and white in this book; the characters are not simply good or evil, but rich in complex personal features. Akasha aka the Mother is a perfect example of such a character. Thus, one cannot hate her and can certainly see her reasoning despite knowing she is wrong.

Finally, the solution of the main conflict in the book is simple, yet unforeseen and therefore ingenious. Hence, I was satisfied with the ending which at the same time left me craving for more.

RECOMMENDATION: The Queen of the Damned is an amazing book, because it reaches beyond the borders of paranormal into philosophy and ethics, and I highly recommend it both for its plot and characters and its power to make you think of several timeless issues. However, it contains explicit scenes of violence, and if you have a sensitive stomach, you should probably not read it before meals. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Apologies and Plans


 Nothing happening?

You have probably noticed that I have not been posting as often lately as I used to. In case you are wondering what is going on, I think it is only fair to tell you, my readers, why I post fewer reviews and why I hardly participate in memes.

The reason for this is that I have not been feeling very well lately, both physically and emotionally. I am dealing with some problems and, as all of you I guess, I have a lot of real-life things to do, such as tutoring, taking care of my mother, do the errands and the usual household things. I am also trying to continue with my WIP. So, I just do not have as much time to read as I would like to, hence the lack of reviews. Additionally, autumn, especially November, is not a particularly good time for me, as the ever shorter and ever darker days have a very depressing effect on me.

The lack of time is also the reason for my infrequent participation in memes, since I do not have the time to visit other blogs, even if I might find the time to do the post. It just does not seem fair from my part to just post and not visit around. The same goes for my lack of commenting. I do still read your blog posts, although sometimes with a few days of delay, and I try to comment, but sometimes I just do not have the time to write a quality comment. But I really do enjoy reading your posts.

I hope you forgive me for all these things, which will continue in November, I am afraid.

However, not all is black. I have a few really great books on my to-read pile for this month and I will try to post at least a review per week. I have finally finished The Queen of the Damned, so you can expect the review on Friday or Saturday.

Also, there is a cool event coming up, which I am going to be part of, but more about that some other time. And as this year is coming to a close, I am thinking through some plans for this blog in 2012, which I will let you know about and also ask for your opinion sometime soon.

Finally, I thank you for your patience and sticking with me, and I hope you will not get tired of waiting for some coolness and run away (but no hard feelings if you do). Things will get better, and I think you will be able to enjoy some things I am planning for this blog soon. Plus, December is close, my favourite month, so that will surely cheer me up, and consequently my blog. 

Oh, and I have just noticed I say that I do not have the time much too often in this post, I am sorry for that, too.

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