Monday, February 28, 2011

Where’s the Fellowship?

This is a follow-up on LOTR Read-Along and contains SPOILERS. So, where's the Fellowship?

Right, here we are outside the Moria gates.


Oooops! One fellow missing.


Lots and lots of tears falling.


Orcs on our heels.


And the Fellowship is … stuck.

I’d planned to go a bit slower since I’d been way ahead of schedule reading almost through the Fellowship of the Ring in January. But how much did I read? Nothing. Not one page. Mission more than accomplished. 
I’d also planned to read the translation alongside the English version. Did I? Of course not.

Fortunately, I can get to Rauros in less then two hours, so unless there is a major orc, pardon, work attack, I’ll be there by the end of March.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop, February 25 – 28, 2011

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books. It is a great way of discovering new blogs and meeting fellow book bloggers, talking about books and authors, and sharing our love for literature. This weeks' question is: 

“Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?”

Book Blogger Hop

MY ANSWER:

Prior to starting this blog I had had a few ideas, but they had been already taken, which made me think really hard to come up with the name. However, I think it was good that it wasn’t easy, so I could come up with the name I am perfectly happy with. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Romance Reviews Grand Opening

March will be an exiting month for romance readers, so go and check it out at The Romance Reviews. 


You’re invited!

From March 1 – 31, 2011


THE ROMANCE REVIEWS' GRAND OPENING!


Play the games. Explore new books.

Chat with authors. Vote for Best Books of 2010.

Rack up your points!

CAN YOU UNLOCK THE PUZZLE?

Tip: Visit everyday to increase your chances to win awesome prizes!

Over 200 prizes waiting for you!


PRIZES

Weekly Prizes

$10 Gift Cards – 32 winners!
(8 winners each week)
Over 150 Book Giveaways in total
(paperback, hardback, ebook)

Major Prizes

Grand Prize: $100 Gift Card
2nd Prize: $70 Gift Card
3rd Prize: $50 Gift Card

For Authors
(based on results of book votes)

Grand Prize: $200 TRR Advertising Package
2nd Prize: $100 TRR Advertising Package
3rd Prize: $50 TRR Advertising Package

 
*** For Bloggers only:
 
Want to be entered for a chance to win $20 Gift Card? Help us promote this event from now until March 31, 2011!
 
1. Post about TRR's Grand Opening and link tohttp://www.theromancereviews.com/ (You may post a portion or the entirety of this post on your blog.)
 
2. Place the poster (with link to http://www.theromancereviews.com/) on your sidebar in a prominent place.
 
3. Come back to this post and give us your link in the comments!
 
For additional chances, every tweet or Facebook post gets 1 chance each. Come back here and give us your link in the comments!
 
 
THE ROMANCE REVIEWS GRAND OPENING
 
Main Sponsor

Dorchester Publishing


Participating authors

Kat Martin                  Beth Kery                    Susan Lyons             
Madison Blake            Gini Rifkin                    Sandra Edwards
Ashley March             Karen Rose Smith         Laura Tolomei          
Grace Elliot                Suzanne Barrett             Jessica Chambers
Maeve Greyson          Sable Hunter                 Josie Arlington         
Tanya Stowe              Elaine Cantrell               Suzette Stone
LK Rigel                    Kristen Painter              Renee Rearden  
Susanna Ives              Amy Corwin                 Keta Diablo      
Suzanne Tyrpak         TL Schaefer                  Monique Martin        
Kari Gregg                 Kathy Carmichael         Ingela F. Hyatt
Susan Meier               Laura Moore                Susan Roebuck
Brita Addams             KT Grant                     Winslow Eliot 
Jan Scarbrough           Victoria Blisse              Sharon Buchbinder    
PG Forte                    Cate Rowan                 Terri Reid
Bronwyn Storm          Patricia Preston             Alice Gaines   
Ann Tracy Marr         Joan Beth Erickson        Tara Lain       
L.J. McDonald           Lucinda Brant                Eden Baylee              
Hayley B. James        Jason W. Chan               Pat Amsden
Kayelle Allen             Elle James                      Rita Hestand
Beth Trissel               Viviane Brentanos          Morgan Rice 
Mahalia Levey           LK Below                     Gale Stanley              
Sarah J. Bradley        Jenny Schwartz              T.C. Archer
Joanne Troppello        Rhonda L. Print             Pamela Jackson 
Mary Manners           Eve Silver                     Jennifer Crusie   
Jocelyn Modo            Sloan Parker                  Kerri Williams           
Stacey Espino            Savannah Chase            JoAnne Kenrick
Heather Matthews     Marcia James                Cherie De Sues
Simone Eden             Lauren Fraser                Annie Nicholas
E.D. Walker             Rachel Haimowitz           HP Mallory   
Suzanne Rock           Eden Bradley                  Taryn Kincaid
Andrea Speed           Elle Amery                     Nichelle Gregory
Shermaine Williams   Berengaria Brown          Tina Donahue     
Red Haircrow           Virginia Cavanaugh         Hailey Edwards  
Elle Druskin              Tarah Scott                    CJ Archer
Rachel Brimble          Frances Pauli                 Nancy J Cohen
Em Petrova               Heather Wardell             Cara Marsi     
Mary Eason              Skhye Moncrief              Jana Richards  
Jill James                  Alison Henderson           Michael Davis
Alison Chambers       LoRee Peery                 Gail Pallotta  
Nicki Greenwood      Alianne Donnelly            Tiffany Ashley
Gem Sivad                Stacy Juba                     Tory Richards
Darcia Helle             Jennifer Labelle              Linda Mooney
LaVerne Clark          Sibel Hodge                   Ashley Ladd 
Elaine Hopper           Victoria Howard     

Have fun!

Booking Through Thursday – Something Old, Something New

btt button

All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical speciman, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

If I buy a book, I prefer a new copy. I like the scent of freshly printed pages and the feeling that a book is only mine. Plus, buying new hard copies helps printed books survive in the electronic era.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

A Mulher do Viajante no TempoSUMMARY (from Goodreads): When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future.

MY OPINION:

I have seen the film before I read The Time Traveler’s Wife. I had been postponing reading the book for a long time, because I had thought it would be boring since I had already known what happened. Naturally, reading the book was worthwhile and not at all boring.

Although the book is sometimes sadder and gorier than the film, it is more enjoyable because it offers you time to process things. And processing is indeed needed. The concept of time travelling is very confusing, nonetheless Niffenegger deals with it in such a manner it makes sense. The reading can be difficult on some spots and you might stop a couple of times to think things through, but in the end everything works out.

I also liked how Henry and Clare alternate to tell their story. It is often argued that re-telling the same event from the point of view of several characters is redundant. I usually agree with this. However, in this case, it is sometimes necessary and I believe Niffenegger uses just the right amount of this technique in all the right places.

The best thing about The Time Traveler’s Wife is that, in spite of such unreal problem as time travelling, Niffenegger makes the plot as well as the characters realistic. Henry and Clare have to face the same issues as any “normal” couple. They disagree, they fight, they suffer, and then they make up, laugh, dance, and are happy. They work hard for their love and this makes it extraordinary. 

RECOMMENDATION: The Time Traveler’s Wife is a wonderful story about true love which overcomes all obstacles. It requires some effort to understand the course of events, but it is what makes this book special. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark #2) 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.

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, #2)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents – until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae – and their notorious dark desires – ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.
Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

MY OPINION:

From the first pages, when we witness Lachlain escape the vampire dungeons, to the last scenes of quite a different way of escape, A Hunger Like No Other is a thoroughly absorbing book.

In the beginning, I felt uneasy to some extent with initial erotic descriptions, especially because of a particular exaggeration in terms of size is redundant on my opinion. Apart from that, Kresley Cole handles sexuality well. She does not overdo sexually explicit scenes and she incorporates them into the story not just for their own sake, but uses them to function partly as a respite from graver themes and partly as a tool supplying explanations for the main characters’ behaviour or actions.

Cole’s characters are a combination of strength and vulnerability, constantly developing through their complexity. The themes of vengeance, destiny, identity and love are interwoven throughout the dynamic plot in the course of which Emma and Lachlain search for a way towards each other. Cole gives readers a great insight into their reasoning and emotions.

I found the theme of being predestined for something fascinating. On one hand, Cole presents destiny as an unstoppable, irrevocable force one is involuntarily subdued to. On the other hand, Emma does not and cannot simply surrender to her destiny, she has to work towards it, and so she ends up not a victim of her destiny, as one might fear, but a winner of it by her will.

Lachlain survives unthinkable torture only by the aid of hatred it ignites in him. Meeting Emma, he must fight the urge to give in to his hatred, knowing doing so would mean losing her. His physical strength is combined with his striving to control his beastly side. What he finds so hard to do gets easier and easier in Emma’s presence.

Inventively adding new concepts to familiar paranormal beings, Cole transforms them into a new kind of characters, thus creating foundations for the world of a unique and rich story with astonishing possibilities. A Hunger Like No Other definitely makes me want to come back for more of Kresley Cole’s writing.

RECOMMENDATION: This paranormal romance is a suspenseful story about fulfilling one’s destiny and the fight between forces of good and evil, and is an absolutely enjoyable story for everyone not too squeamish about sexually explicit scenes. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Blogger Hop, February 18 – 21, 2011

Book Blogger Hop is a great way of discovering new blogs and meeting fellow book bloggers, talking about books and authors and sharing our love for literature.

Book Blogger Hop

As the Hop’s host, Jennifer, over at Crazy-for-Books says, better late than never. It was 5 a.m.  Saturday morning where I live when Jennifer posted this week’s Hop and I had a busy singing day today, so I’m posting only this late, but I really want to share my answer to this week’s question:

“What book(s) would you like to see turned into a movie?”

MY ANSWER:

I was really looking forward to Eucalyptus by Murray Bail being made into a film starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. It was announced to happen in 2005, but nothing has come out of it. I think it could be made into a great film and I still hope it will be done some day in one way or another. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Booking Trough Thursday - Romantic



This is my first time I participate in Booking Through Thursday, a weekly meme mostly about books and reading. This week Deb is aking:

What’s the most romantic book you’ve ever read?

(Mind you, I don’t mean the hard-core stuff you hide in plain wrappers under your mattress. I mean True Love, Romance, deeply emotional, heart-tugging, and all that stuff.)

And, secondly, did you like it? Is it your usual kind of reading, or did it take you by surprise?

I’ve read tons of romance, so it is difficult to choose just one book. Perhaps, I’d point of just a few books, such as the timeless The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, Eucalyptus by Murray Bail and Caroline series by Sandra Paretti.

Even though I read a lot of romance, good romance books always surprise me in one way or another and this is after all what makes a good book. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten GardenSUMMARY: In 1913, a little girl is set aboard the ship heading from London to Maryborough in Queensland, Australia. Abandoned in a strange land, she is unable to remember her name. Ninety years later, Cassandra follows the little girl’s footsteps back to England to uncover her grandmother’s identity. Doing so, she gradually reveals a strange family history of friendship and betrayal, sacrifice and sorrow, and love.

MY OPINION:

While reading The Forgotten Garden, I felt as if I were a detective. Unravelling a secret after a secret, following various leads, speculating about the truth, ad every time I thought I had figured everything out, there was a new surprise round the corner.

Kate Morton masterfully switches the story telling between several strong female characters. Remarkably, in spite of all the differences between them, they all evolve around one main theme – a search for one’s identity and longing to be loved.

Nell and her granddaughter Cassandra both share their feeling of abandonment. In spite of suffering because of it, they never hurt other people. The same can be said about Eliza Makepeace, the Authoress, who put the little Nell on the ship to Australia. Although Nell and Cassandra are the ones who reveal her story, I think Eliza is the true heroine of The Forgotten Garden. However, she is a tragic heroine I cannot but sympathise with. 

All Eliza wants is to be loved by her relatives who only exploit her eagerness to gain their love. Yet, no matter how hard she tries, what she does, what sacrifices she makes, she is denied that because of her origin. She would be acceptable only if she humbly yielded to their expectations of how she should behave and what she should do. Eliza, however, is an unconventional and honest person, and she refuses to conform, remaining true to herself.

The only person who could and should relate to her is her uncle Linus, who is unable to do so because the suppression by his family in his childhood turned him into a coward and a doormat. Thus, Eliza finds her only sanctuary in writing fairytales with carefully hidden autobiographical elements.

It is utterly incomprehensible, even inhumane, to me how people could be so cruel to shun a good, intelligent and helpful person on the basis of his/her birth. Another reason for the relatives’ rejection of Eliza is that her presence constantly reminds her of their own origins, actions, opportunism and, above all, sins.

Morton portrays the naturalistic views upon the circumstances of birth defining a person very well. She makes The Forgotten Garden stand out also by employing a variety of narrating styles, from flashbacks, dreams and letters to fairytales.

The Forgotten Garden is a beautiful story in its tragic way and I could not help myself not to shed a tear or two in the end.

RECOMMENDATION: The Forgotten Garden is a beautifully written must-read about people searching for their roots and, in spite of a lot of sorrow, finding love along the way. 

The King’s Speech (2010)

SUMMARY (from IMDB): Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.


DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper; CAST: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Geoffrey Rush,...

MY OPINION:

Above all The King’s Speech is a film about a personal struggle with a disability, which is so much more difficult when someone is a public figure. The film focuses on the King’s personal drama and is, therefore, quite static. Yet, it is an attention keeping film and two hours pass like a flash.

There has already been much praise on the acting and, after seeing the film, I can only join in. Firth makes his character so believable one can easily empathise with, struggling alongside him, suffering through the self-consciousness, despair and anger. The montage also adds to the whole atmosphere, for example the repeating echoes creating a feeling of confusion and enhancing stage fright in the speech at Wembley scene. Regular intermezzos of typical British humour perfectly round up the film.

The King’s Speech is a very emotional film which presents royalty with the same problems and difficulties in family relationships as other people have, only theirs are perhaps harder to bear because of their public functions. Aditionally, the film is valuable not only for its historical insight, but also for the lesson it offers for the present day. It is a great illustration of how damaging mocking of a disability and pressure upon improvement in place of comfort and encouragement is.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop, February 11 – 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books. It is a great way of discovering new blogs and meeting fellow book bloggers, talking about books and authors and sharing our love for literature. 

Book Blogger Hop

This week’s question is “Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise)!”

MY ANSWER:

I usually write only 1-2 posts a week (not including the Hop), so my only post this week was a review of Trouble in High Heels by Christina Dodd. I read the book last autumn but it was a very memorable book so I could still review it so long after reading it.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Trouble in High Heels by Christina Dodd

Trouble in High Heels (Fortune Hunter, #1)SUMMARY (by the publisher): Brandi Michaels, a young, gorgeous lawyer, moves to Chicago to join her fiancé, only to find out he's gone to Vegas to marry his pregnant girlfriend. She pawns the engagement ring, vamps herself up, and prepares to sleep with the first sexy man she meets that night. That man turns out to be a playboy Italian count and jewel thief, Roberto Bartolini, and the weekend is as hot and heavy as she could wish. On Monday, there’s another surprise – guess who turns out to be the client of her new law firm? Brandi not only gets to defend Roberto, who's accused of stealing a jewel, but to spend time with him 24/7, as a judge remands him into her custody. Can she reform this handsome bad boy in a hurry and prevent the jewel heist of the century in the process?

MY OPINION:

Trouble in High Heels is cooked by a clichéd recipe for a romance novel. The Guy is tall, dark and handsome, partly Italian, a little mysterious, possibly dangerous, and absolutely charming. The Girl is a bosomy blonde, but – wait – a lawyer, who takes things into her own hands.

Instead of sulking with a box of chocolates upon discovering her fiancé’s betrayal, she does what is usually considered a masculine way of coping with things. She decides to take revenge. Roberto Bartolini comes in perfect for her plan, but at the same time, he is quite a match and a challenge for her as she does not know whether she can trust him or not.

Dodd makes Trouble in High Heels intriguing exactly with that: the reader, as well as Brandi, cannot be sure until the end whether Roberto is a good or a bad guy. Add some unexpected twists in the plot, a lot of humour and a traditional happy-ever-after ending, and you get a perfect comfort food for a bad day.

RECOMMENDATION: This is a perfect book for taking a break from a troublesome day. Besides, which woman would not like her own Roberto Bartolini, if only fictional, at some point?

Friday, February 04, 2011

My New Babies

A very important day is coming up and, since I can’t expect to get anything delicious to devour from my family, I decide to afford myself a little treat.

This came in the mail today:

 Cambridge Wizard Student Guide The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Cambridge Wizard English Student Guides)

This one is actually something I got to be able to help my high school cousin and some students I tutor with their required reading of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I like the book, but as I skimmed through this guide right away I was a bit disappointed. But this is only the first impression and a report of its usefulness comes later.

 The Silmarillion

The crème de la crème. I already have a Slovene translation of The Silmarillion, but I wanted the original, too. So, I thought it is high time to get it. It’s Tolkien. Need I say more?

And finally, a dessert:

 A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark)

I read a lot of praise to Kresley Cole and Immortals after Dark series, so I have to try it and see if it is as sweet as it sounds.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Some Extra Thoughts on The Fellowship of the Ring

Recently, I’ve read some posts from my fellow bloggers concerning The Lord of the Rings, in particular The Fellowship of the Ring, which provoked some thoughts I absolutely need to put down in writing just for the sake of my peace of mind.
Firstly, I feel old. I mean, I managed to read the books before the film trilogy came out. It is quite a shock for me to realise that some people first heard of LOTR in its film version and only later read the book. It is also interesting because they see LOTR from a different perspective.



This is the closest to how I imagine Bag End to look like. 




I first read the book, then saw the films and am totally in favour of the book. Nevertheless, there are a lot of good things about the films, one of them the great way of bringing orcs to life. You can read more about that here.

Next, as many other people I find the Old Forest – Bombadil – Barrow Wights a bit slow because of all the sleeping and resting. But, these parts are a perfect demonstration of Tolkien’s ability to create atmosphere, his language itself creates the suffocating and sleepy mood of the Old Forest, the peacefulness of Bombadil’s house, and gloomy and fearful air of the Barrow-downs.


Someone said the Bombadil and Barrow-downs chapters are pointless. They may seem such, I admit, especially on the first reading. However, Bombadil is a very important person of great strength behind his foolish and careless appearance. In addition, if the hobbits never passed the Barrow-downs, where would Marry get his sword, “a work of Westernesse”, the only blade which could deal “that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will” (The Return of the King, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)?  

In addition, there are many allusions not understandable to a first-time reader, which can be as several people pointed out nonetheless enjoyable. Such allusions are clarified if a reader makes the effort through the Appendices at the end of LOTR and / or reads The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.

Now when I got these reflections down in black and white I can spend the rest of the day peacefully. Please, don’t blame me for trying to be smart about the theme, but I just couldn’t resist sharing my thoughts.

Orc Voices

One of the best things about the Lord of the Rings film trilogy is how the film makers brought orcs to life. I think even Tolkien who gave such a precise description of the orcs couldn’t have done them better. The orcs in the films are hideous and disgusting, but the scariest are their voices.


This gives me goose bumps. That is why I skip the orc-ish parts of the films. I can watch them, but hearing them makes me want to run and hide into a hobbit hole.  
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