Friday, 23 December 2011

Songs of the Season Music Hop

Songs of the Season
Event production by Random Magic Tour 
Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Dec. 10-25, 2011

Welcome to the Songs of the Season music hop! You're invited to join us every day from December 10-25, to enjoy a virtual round of caroling.

You can visit a different blog each day to find another wonderful music selection, handpicked by a great host. You can find the schedule here!

Here's my selection for the event!

Title: Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
Artist: Frank Sinatra
Available at: Amazon 

This one is one of my absolute favourites for Christmas! I'm not sure if anyone else has posted about it during this event, but even if they have, then you should definitely listen to it again (if you happened to see it one someone else's blog, too)! This song always puts a smile on my face! Probably because of the lyrics to be honest! The thing is that I live in a part of Greece where is doesn't really snow.... Honestly, I have only seen real, live snow three or four times in my whole life (and I am 22). So, always, when Christmas is just round the corner, I end up wishing that we could have some snow. It doesn't happen, but I can still keep on wishing, can't I???
(Fortunately, now that I have a car, I can go up into the mountains and get my fill of snow!! YAAAAAAY!)

Oooooooh, the weather outside is frightful and the fire is soooo delightful!!!! (That's me singing to myself!)

Thank you for stopping by and many many thanks to Sacha Soren for inviting me to be a part of this event!

Event production by Random Magic Tour 
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You can follow the linky to see all the other amazing christmassy songs everyone else has picked!

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Time Will Come (10)

The Time Will Come is a great meme hosted by Jodie over at Books For Company. The point of this meme is to list a book that has been sitting on our bookshelves unread for too long and we have been meaning to get round to for ages!

This week's pick is:

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.

This was actually the first book I swapped for. I have no idea why I haven't got round to reading it yet (seeing as it WAS the first book I swapped), but I will! I haven't seen the film, but I have heard that it's supposed to be very good. Now that I have the book, I don't want to watch the film before reading it, so I will have to get to it soon!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
First published by Charles E. Brown in 1850 (this edition by Harper Press in 2010)

Description (from Goodreads)

'Ah, but let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart.' A tale of sin, punishment and atonement, The Scarlet Letter exposes the moral rigidity of a 17th-Century Puritan New England community when faced with the illegitimate child of a young mother. Regarded as the first real heroine of American fiction, it is Hester Prynne's strength of character that resonates with the reader when her harsh sentence is cast. It is in her refusal to reveal the identity of the father in the face of her accusers that Hawthorne champions his heroine and berates the weakness of Society for attacking the innocent.

My thoughts
The Scarlet Letter was a book I saw randomly in the bookshop, saw that it was on offer, remembered that it was on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list and so, I decided to buy it. I started reading it without reading any reviews of it first or checking the ratings on Goodreads, two facts that definitely played a huge part in my deciding to read it (and also, to try and finish it).

I really did have a problem when reading The Scarlet Letter. It's not that the story isn't interesting. It really is. If you think about it, the book is set in an era when women with children born out of wedlock were shunned by the community and was published at a time when people weren't very receptive of the idea, either (or so I suppose). So, the fact that the main character in this book is such a woman (who has borne a child out of wedlock) allows us to "see" how the person who is subjected to such treatment deals with the whole situation and can account for a very interesting tale.

However, (and that is a BIG however) the book is just unreadable. The language is far too complex, with difficult to comprehend sentences and very long paragraphs with not much going on in them. All of that made the book too difficult to understand at times, which resulted in me ignoring large parts of certain chapters (though I had read them, but failed miserably to comprehend them). And I think it was a pity not to enjoy a book for such a reason. But, really, the difficulty in reading this book took too much of the story away from me.

As for the story and the characters, I can't really say they were clear-cut characters. They were pretty difficult to figure out, as the author made them keep secrets even from the readers, not just from one another. The little child, Pearl, thoroughly creeped me out for the better part of the book and I really couldn't find myself caring for any of the characters in this book.

So as you might expect, this book is not going to be getting a good rating from me. But, from what I've seen on Goodreads, there have been a great number of people who have really enjoyed reading The Scarlet Letter and have managed to "get over" the whole language issue. So, if you like the sound of the story (just like I did), then do not hesitate to try it out for yourself. Even though I did not enjoy it in the end, I am glad that I at least gave this book a chance.

Rating: 2/10

Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer, who lived in the 19th century. He is considered to be a key figure in the development of 19th century American Literature. A large part of his writing centers around New England (such as The Scarlet Letter). Some of his other works include:

You can find out more about the author HERE.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, Victorian Literature Challenge, 1001 Books To Read Before You Die (personal challenge)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mortlock by Jon Mayhew

Mortlock by Jon Mayhew
First published by Bloomsbury in 2010 (this edition by Bloomsbury in 2011)

Description (from Goodreads)

The sister is a knife-thrower in a magician's stage act, the brother an undertaker's assistant. Neither orphan knows of the other's existence. Until, that is, three terrible aunts descend on the girl's house and imprison her guardian, the Great Cardamom. His dying act is to pass the girl a note with clues to the secret he carries to his grave.

My thoughts
That there is the most awful book description I have ever seen! I am pretty sure that is not what is on the back cover of the book, but I can't find the book right now, so I'll just have to keep this one for now. Anyways, other than that fact, this one was a book that try as I might, I just couldn't get myself to enjoy.

((I found another description (from the author's website this time). I think it's better than that one above.))

A wonderfully exciting, dark, and gruesomely gothic middle-grade chiller, set in Victorian London. Perfect and pacy entertainment for both girls and boys of 8+. 

For orphan Josie, life is good with Cardamom, the great magician who took her in as a baby and with whom she now performs her astounding knife-throwing act. But then three mysterious ‘aunts’ turn up - taking over the house and transforming into vicious, giant crows, in thrall to evil Lord Corvis. With his dying breath, Cardamon tells Josie to ‘seek the Amarant - and Mortlock’.  So begins a terrifying quest for Josie and her newly discovered twin, Alfie, the undertaker’s mute, who soon realize that the legendary Amarant is a plant with power over life and death, which Cardamon, Corvis and Mortlock first discovered many years ago in Abyssinia.

Only the final destruction of the plant can quench Corvis’s growing powers and evil plans.  Braving a circus of the living dead, and a terrifying encounter with the Amarant in a graveyard, Josie and Alfie will need all their courage and skills to save themselves and the world.

I'm not sure what it was about it that I just didn't like. The storyline itself was not bad. It was based on a rather interesting idea; it was the delivery that I found to be rather lacking.

The story focuses on two long lost siblings; they grew up separately, one - Josie - as an assistant to a magician and the other - Alfie - as an assistant to an undertaker. But circumstances lead to them being reunited, when three terrible aunts arrive at Josie's home and threaten her and her guardian, Cardamom. In the space of days, Cardamom is dead (yes, guess who did it!) and leaves Josie with barely just enough information to figure out where she came from. Joining forces with Alfie, the two children go through some pretty tough situations before finally figuring out the mystery.

So, as you can see, there is much to go with and it does have the potential to make a pretty good and fast paced story. But for me, it turned out to be a little disappointing. There were quite a few pretty gory scenes of birds devouring various things and of weird transformations, which would be pretty scary for the intended audience, but other than that, the story felt a bit flat. It didn't feel as if the two children were very anxious and scared, and as a result, it didn't make me feel scared.

But then again, I do concede that I read this from a different perspective that if I had been a younger reader. I think I will have felt much different after having read it if I were younger. So, if you do like the sound of it, then don't let my review put you off it. Each to their own!

Rating: 3/10

To find out information about Jon Mayhew and his book, you can check out his website HERE.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Past Perfect by Leila Sales
First published by Simon & Schuster in 2011 (this edition was an eGalley, provided through the S&S GalleyGrab programme)

Description (from Goodreads)

All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it….

My thoughts
Past Perfect was such a perfect and sweet little book! I remember being in the mood for something light and funny with a bit of romance to top it all off, and this book definitely delivered!

In Past Perfect, we have Chelsea, a girl who has spent the last I-can't-remember-how-many summers working at the Essex Colonial Village; first, because her parents worked there and they used to take her with them and then, as a fully paid re-enactor. So, she was really looking forward to working at the mall this year with her best friend. But then her best friend thinks it's a good idea to work at the Colonial Village and so, Chelsea ends up working there for yet another summer. And lots of other things going on, including ex-boyfriends working at the Colonial Village too, them dating other people and also, cute romantic interests; all amidst the big "war" that has been going on between the Colonial re-enactors and the Civil War re-enactors.

This book focuses a lot on the relationships between the characters, and not just the romantic ones. There is the relationship between the exes, the relationship between two people who are attracted to each other but know that the attraction could pose some problems, the relationship between friends, the relationships between co-workers. But it still doesn't feel too relationship-heavy, as it's all part of being a person.

My favourite thing about this book - and which made it one of the most unique books I have read this year - was the setting. The story actually takes place "now", but, because of the fact that the setting is the Colonial Village, it has a rather historical feel to it. The feud between the Colonials and the Civil Warriors and the actual "War" going on between them is fun, as they actually come up with some hilarious ideas to win the battles.

The romantic story in this book is also rather cute, as are the two characters involved. I'm not going to go into many details, but I am going to say that even though the romance is very "Romeo-and-Juliet"-esque (as in they are on opposite sides of a feud, you do end up wanting them to come to their senses and just ignore the stupid war already!

I know this is not a good review, but a) it has been ages since I last wrote a review, b) I have been writing this review for over two weeks (with not much success!) and c) it has been ages since I read it, so I can't really remember that much about it. I promise the next ones will be much better, though!

Rating: 8/10

Leila Sales grew up just outside Boston, Massachussets. She has a degree from the Universiry of Chicago and currently lives in Brooklyn. Other than Past Perfect, she has also written a book called Mostly Good Girls.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011
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