Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (22): Wood Angel

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!


"She gave Kate's arm a quick squeeze, and the blue scarf that hid the spell-braids a significant glance. But then two little boys herding geese started to jeer the Roamers and toss rocks at the horses, and in the hubbub the two girls got pulled apart.."

Wood Angel by Erin Bow, p. 92


I just finished this one and I liked it. I'll post my review tomorrow.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bout of Books 7.0 – Sign-up Post

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team


What goals? Reading every day. That will suffice, considering I'm still recovering from the huge reading slump I had in the beginning of the year. However, Bout of Books is always a great motivation for me, so we'll see. Not to mention that it's fun.

Join me! The more the merrier, they say. You can sign-up here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The_Hobbit_An_Unexpected_Journey_poster_Hobbits_749x1109DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson; CAST: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage

SUMMARY (from IMDB): A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on a "unexpected journey" to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.


I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey the first weekend it was out back in December. I even put down notes for a review, but I have never got around to actually write it until now.

Do I need to say I loved this film? It's Jackson's Tolkien adaptation, of course I did. Before seeing it, I had been sceptical about the length, but nearly three hours passed in no time.

The two most powerful elements of the film are spectacular scenery and magical music. The film is visually stunning and the music really is music to the ears.

Jackson surely knows how to bring places and the characters on the screen. Naturally, not everything can ever be depicted as imagined when reading the book, but Jackson's variety come very close to what I can accept. (I do have some issues, but I will get to them a little later).

I love the way Jackson connects The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with other Tolkien's works –  The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

Thus, I liked Jackson's Radagast, of whom Tolkien doesn't say much beside where he lives and that he is good with animals. With his funny antics he reminded me of a character from Slovene children's stories, for which I liked him all the more.

I loved the subtle hints of Sméagol behind Gollum and Saruman's turning evil is peeking from under the facade. Goblins and trolls are gross, much more than I imagine when reading it – that's why I prefer books to movies: while reading I can reduce imagining the disgusting parts to the necessary minimum but while watching films all I can do is look away, hopefully in time.  

Now, although The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is overall and amazing film, my inner Tolkien nerd can't do without some complaints. This is where this review gets SPOILER-y for those who haven't read the book (and seen the film).

First of all, the action scenes were in some spots seriously exaggerated. I understand the film makers wanted to make it more breath-taking, but there is no way anyone could survive those kind of falls, much less stay completely unharmed. But that is a minor thing and it does not as much bother me as it is ridiculous.

While Richard Armitage did a great job as Thorin, he is too young for Thorin. Conversely, Balin is too old. Again, I understand the wish to make Thorin more appealing for the viewers as well as more active than in the book. Also, Thorin's refusal to go to Rivendell is not in the book, but it works well in lieu of the history of disputes between the dwarves and the elves.

I am mostly understanding why changes have to be made when adopting a book to film. Yet, there is at least one unnecessary change in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: that is changing the roles of Azog and Bolg. I really don't see the point of it, to me the goblins hatred of dwarves, especially Thorin and his companions, has much more sense the way Tolkien wrote it, with Azog being killed by Dain in the Battle of Azanulbizar and Bolg being son of Azog.

Next, I was confused by the presumed Morgul blade which Radagast comes across in Dol Guldur – this was not in the book, and I think this wasn't a well-premeditated addition to the film. For, if the blade that Radagast gives Gandalf and Gandalf brings to the White Council is the sword of the King of Angmar aka Lord of the Nazgûl aka the Wraith-King, how does the Wraith-King get it back to stab Frodo with it? I think a weapon like that would be a unique thing in Tolkien's world, so that was a goof on the screen-writer's part.

The thing that bothered me the most was diminishing the role of Gandalf. In LOTR, Gandalf knows Sauron tortured Thrain in his dungeons in Dol Guldur and also took his Dwarf Ring. Tolkien explicitly states Gandalf found Thrain there when Thrain didn't remember anything, not even his own name, but he remembered to give Gandalf the map to the secret door and the key for him to pass to his son (from which Gandalf deduced who Thrain was and kept the map and the key safe until he met Thorin and gave them to him). So, making Gandalf unaware of the danger of Dol Guldur and Sauron's return makes Gandalf's character less wise and powerful than in Tolkien's books.

However, I liked some changes which work well, such as Gandalf sending for the eagles and the Orcs and Wargs arriving at the glade together instead of separately.

On the whole, despite my quibbles, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an amazing film adaptation, captivating to the last minute. I had been wondering how they were going to make three films out of such a short book, but seeing the film, I believe it is going to work out well.

RECOMMENDATION: As a Tolkien fan, I was sceptic about the film, but after seeing it, I definitely recommend it, not only to those who read Tolkien's works (if you didn't, what are you waiting for?) but to everyone who likes fantasy and adventure.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen

(from Goodreads):  An invalid for most her life, Alice James is quite used to people underestimating her. And she generally doesn't mind. But this time she is not about to let things alone. Yes, her brother Henry may be a famous author, and her other brother William a rising star in the new field of psychology. But when they all find themselves quite unusually involved in the chase for a most vile new murderer-one who goes by the chilling name of Jack the Ripper-Alice is certain of two things: No one could be more suited to gather evidence about the nature of the killer than her brothers. But if anyone is going to correctly examine the evidence and solve the case, it will have to be up to her.


What Alice Knew is a fascinating take on Jack the Ripper's murders. It centres on three James siblings who are trying to find the murderer, each contributing their own unique view to the joint effort.

William James, brother of the American writer Henry James, is asked to help with Jack he Ripper's murders by the Scotland Yard for his psychological and medical expertise.

William's work on the case immediately piques the interest of his brother and sister. Whilst William takes a scientific approach, Henry offers a different view on the matter with the keen eyes of an artist. Their sister, Alice, provides yet another take on the case from a female point of view.

Alice James spends most of her days in bed due to an illness, though it is suggested several times that her illness is not so much of a physical state as it is a mental one – she has made a choice to confine herself to bed, thus finding a comfortable life alongside her companion Katherine. However, Alice is not a hypochondriac. She is a quite content person. Her room is her refuge from unwanted attention, though she is not at all a loner. She is loved and cherished for her intelligence and wit by her friends, who visit her often, or else they maintain regular correspondence through letters.

In the end, as the title suggests, it is Alice, who finds the right lead to the murderer. The solution is surprisingly logical, although it couldn't be foreseen, which proves the strength of Cohen's mystery writing. When it comes to mystery and crime, I prefer the books that leave the reader just as much in the dark as the characters are, and What Alice Knew is exactly this kind of book.

The novel is a treasure chest of artistic personages of the time; basically everyone makes an appearance, from writers, such as Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, to painters, musicians, and actors. Accordingly, Marantz Cohen's language is on a highly sophisticated level, yet not hard to understand. What Alice Knew has so many quotable parts that they could comprise a book on their own. Even though I stopped numerous times to reread an especially beautiful sentence or paragraph, Marantz's style is fluid and the book reads smoothly.

RECOMMENDATION: I would recommend What Alice Knew to fans of crime novels, historical fiction, and classics. I must warn, however, that the murders are described quite graphically, and there is some extra gore in other matters, so the book is not a suitable read for very sensitive people or at least not for reading before bed (I tend to dream about what I do before falling asleep, so I didn't read this one in the evenings.).

4 stars

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (21): What Alice Knew

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!


"'What do they want?' asked Henry.
'They want attention. They want to be heard. But they don't know how to express themselves except by beating you senseless.'"

What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen, p. 257

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Revolution as The Lord of the Rings

This post contains SPOILERS for both Revolution and The Lord of the Rings. And if you haven’t yet, go and watch/read those.

Have I mentioned Revolution is my (not-so-new) TV obsession? The show itself makes a couple of blatant references to The Lord of the Rings, namely with the pendant(s) and the latest mention of the Tower. Additionally, Eric Kripke (creator) specifically mentioned in one of the interviews that Revolution is supposed to be a LOTR-like quest to defeat the evil guys.

You know my love for LOTR. No wonder my thoughts got out of control once I started thinking about it, so here it is – a full-on (but only half-serious) Revolution/LOTR comparison (take it as seriously or as jokingly as you like).

I mentioned the pendant(s), right? Aka the One Ring/the rings of power (pun full intended)? This is a clearly Monroe = Boromir parallel, which is logical, since Monroe intends to use the power for the benefit of The Monroe Republic, as Boromir under the Ring’s evil influence wants to use it for the benefit of Gondor. I hope Monroe doesn’t meet an equally bitter end as Boromir, though. Besides, I have another parallel in mind for Monroe, but I’ll get there in a while.

Bass-pendant    boromir-ring


The aforementioned Tower could be Barad-dûr or Mount Doom. Since it appears to be the source of the blackout and also the place where they can turn the power back on, I would go for Mount Doom, as the One Ring (i.e. the source of Sauron’s power) is made and destroyed in it.

Now, Charlie, being the main protagonist, is obviously Frodo. Though, I don’t know who the Revolution version of Sam would be. It could have been Danny, but that is no longer an option, unfortunately.

charlie matheson    frodo

This would make Miles parallel to Aragorn. I am not going to comment on that. Miles is Aragorn. A twisted, morally grey Aragorn, with a dark past. But he knows how to make things happen. And he is good at killing (as is Aragorn, isn’t he?). And he always finds a solution (even if it’s not the best one). So, end of discussion.

NUP_149347_0503.jpg aragorn

The show writers want to convince us the bad guys are Monroe and Randall. I agree with Randall being evil, maybe even the big bad, since he had everything to do with the blackout, which would make him Sauron. His recent alliance with Monroe suggests the latter as Saruman, with his obsession for power and weapons, and the Militia could be Orcs. however, I don’t like it. It may be logical and the writers obviously think we should see Monroe as a a big bad villain, but I refuse to accept it. I view Monroe more in the role of Théoden – that is the Théoden poisoned by Wormtongue’s influence before Gandalf opens his eyes and heals him. I can’t think of the Revolution versions of Gandalf and Wormtougue, but I think the person who could bring Monroe back to the good side would be Miles, thus also doubling for Gandalf in this case (once he gets over his resentment and guilt which he projects on Monroe). Again, I hope Monroe's ending will be better than Théoden's

bass theoden

Viewing Monroe as Théoden brings us to Jeremy as Eómer and the Militia as the Rohirrim. The rebels could be the men of Dunland, otherwise I have no idea what to do with them.

Naturally, Nora is  Eówyn, being a fierce fighter and having a (what seems unrequited) crush on Miles. This brings up a comparison of Rachel to Arwen which I don’t even want to think about. However, Rachel, especially when siding with the rebels, could be seen as Saruman (and the rebels his Orc army). It would make sense in terms of fighting for power against Randall and his people. Oh, look, I solved the problem where to put the rebels.


Let me conclude with some minor, more superficial guesses who could be who. For example, Strausser could be compared to the Wraith-King, especially considering his (not really untimely) end.

Julia might be a dark Galadriel. Because that lady knows things.

Tom would be Denethor, protecting the Republic/Gondor while potentially wanting to usurp/usurping the throne. Hence, Jason, a disobedient son, can be Faramir. Hey, this even makes my Nora/Jason (crack)ship work out in LOTR version, lol.

These are all the parallels I could come up with. It was fun for me, and, hopefully, for you as well.

If you’re familiar with Revolution and LOTR, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Any alternative or additional suggestions? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the photos/gifs used in this post.