Friday, October 24, 2014

Memory Challenge Meme

I found this on my friend’’s Agnes’ blog and I thought it could be a cute post. The rules: answer the questions without searching the Internet or looking at your bookshelves and tag five bloggers.

memory challenge

Indeed, what a challenge for me, with my bad memory! I tried my best.

1. A book written by an author called Michael:

Und Morgen die ganze Welt by Michael Burk. I don’t think it is translated into English; I read it in Slovene.

2. A book with a dragon on the cover: 

This couldn't be easier: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

hobbit

3. A book about a character called George:

Does George (aka Georgina, but she hated that name) from Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series count? Because I can’t think of anyone else. (And I’ve been mulling over it for days. Really. No cheating.)

4. A book written by an author by the surname Smith.

Again, piece of cake: The Vampire Diaries series by L. J. Smith.

5. A book set in Australia:

This is easy, too, as it’s one of my favourites: Eucalyptus by Murray Bail.

6. A book with a name of a month in a title:

This is the question I had to cheat at, at least as far as by searching Goodreads for the authors’ name, although I’ve heard of Paris in April by Allan Dare Pierce before, I have yet to read it, though.

7. A book with a knife in the cover:

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) by Philipp Pullman.

the subtle knife

8. A book with the word “one” in the title:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my to-read list.

9. A book with an eponymous title:

Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

10. A book turned into a movie:

Well, I could go with five of them, not one. One of the better and fairly recent examples: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

***

Wow, this was actually easier that I thought, with the exception of number 6. And oops, there are a lot of WW II themed books in my answers. I guess the era & genre are simply a lot on my mind lately.

Tagging: Sarah of Sarah Says Read, Celine of Nyx Book Reviews, Freda of Freda’s Voice and if anyone else want to join the fun, I’m sure you’re welcome to as well.

P.S.: Since I’ve been a terribly unsocial blogger for a while now, I won’t hold a grudge if you just ignore me. ;)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

CatwsDIRECTOR: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; CAST: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson …

SUMMARY (from IMDB): Steve Rogers, now finding difficult to fit in to the era of today then leads an assault against a friend turned rival from World War II, a Soviet emissary known as "The Winter Soldier" and his lead of a precarious uprising.

MY THOUGHTS:

I watched this sometime in July and it took me till October to get to writing a review. That’s how I am nowadays.

However, one of reasons for me stalling with reviewing was definitely the emotional turmoil caused by Captain America: The Winter Soldier which still makes it hard to find the right words to describe my feelings about this film.

I can’t think of anything I didn’t like in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as there were so many thing I loved:

  • the overarching theme of the evil rooted at the very core of the good as Steve stumbles upon a terrible conspiracy against humanity,
  • the incredibly developed characters and in-depth explored relationships, even minor ones, despite the turbulent pace of all the action scenes
  • and, yes, the spectacular fighting choreographies and special effects.

In conclusion to my sort-of review, I’m pretty sure everyone but me had seen and fallen in love with this franchise ages ago, but if you haven't: what are you waiting for?

5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an action-packed but heartfelt film about the struggle against evil found in the very pores of what was supposed to be good; a tale of not just one hero, but many; and, of course, a story of a long lost friend who may yet be found again. No need to say I’m excited for Captain America 3.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron man 3DIRECTOR: Shane Black; CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

MY THOUGHTS:

In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark continues to struggle with who he is both as Iron Man and as a person as his past comes back to haunt him in the form of an adversary who feels wronged by him in the past.

On a personal level, Tony’s preoccupation with his so-called hobby - that is, working on constant development and improvement of the Iron Man technology - interferes with his personal life, in particularly with his relationship with Pepper.

However, the Mandarin puts in danger not only Pepper’s life, but the world, and Tony must figure out how to save both. Fortunately, he finds not only strength within, but also outside help in likely (Captain Rhodes) and unlikely places (Harley Keener, and does just that.

While the film’s central themes are fighting evil and not being able to escape one’s past, Iron Man 3 also addresses the issue of genetic engineering and provides some food for thought on that topic.

Finally, the film has quite a few stunning scenes, mostly of fight and destruction. Curiously though, I found that this fearful imagery, such as the fall of the Malibu compound, can also be beautiful, in a way.
3-stars_thumb2
 
RECOMMENDATION: Obviously, if you have watched the first two Iron Man films and are a fan of Marvel cinematic universe, you won’t want to skip Iron Man 3.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

DeathlessSUMMARY (from Goodreads): A glorious retelling of the Russian folktale Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, set in a mysterious version of St. Petersburg during the first half of the 20th century. A handsome young man arrives in St Petersburg at the house of Marya Morevna. He is Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and he is Marya's fate. For years she follows him in love and in war, and bears the scars. But eventually Marya returns to her birthplace - only to discover a starveling city, haunted by death. Deathless is a fierce story of life and death, love and power, old memories, deep myth and dark magic, set against the history of Russia in the twentieth century. It is, quite simply, unforgettable.

MY OPINION:

Deathless is quite a depressing book, in a way, but nonetheless a fantastic read.

The story is mainly set in St. Petersburg, the city with ever-changing name, in one of the darkest (if not the darkest) periods of Russian history, spanning the time from the pre-Revolutionary era to the aftermath of the Second World War. That said, the plot takes the reader across Russia, to its farthest hidden corners, both the tangible and the intangible, in space and in time.

Catherynne M. Valente perfectly captures the Slavic soul – which may feel exotic to some people, but is so much a part of me – with its pessimistic worldview with and a penchant for tragedy, finding beauty in dark things and sadness, interspersed with tiny bits of humour, or rather, typical sarcasm, even cynicism.

Valente combines myth and folklore with historical allusions, which stay almost unobtrusively in the background of the story. Between the lines one can discern insightful yet subtle social commentary/criticism, applicable both to historical and contemporary circumstances.

Everything is wrapped in a beautiful, highly metaphorical, yet easily readable language. The magic, myth and folklore at the forefront are, for one who wants to see beyond them, filled with an overwhelming symbolism, a study of humanity on the level of an individual and the society in general.

All that said, I have no idea why I had had the impression Deathless would be a YA book prior to reading it, for it is certainly not, at least in my opinion. It is, however, an amazing read, though dark, and I enjoyed it very much.

5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you love the darker side of myth, folklore and humanity, Deathless could be excellent read for you.

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