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01 January 2009 @ 08:36 pm
Helloooooo chickies, I am so sorry for parting with my extremely, microscopically small readership for so long. I have become rather attached to my GoodReads even though I neglected it for about 4 months prior.

Anyhow, here's to another great year of opportunities and plentiful books, both good and bad! I look forward to discovering new authors, and new works from old favourites, and dissecting the crap out of the awful ones. I wish I could feed my GR reviews onto LJ (I seem to snark more here than there, go figure) but things seem limited at this point. In any case I endeavour to post here more often than last year. *coughs* Three posts in a year is quite pathetic, yes.

That is a resolution I think will be easier to keep than say doing the utter impossible, like quitting smoking or losing those extra pounds gained from overzealous Christmas feasting.

---

Add me on GoodReads:
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Current Mood: calmcalm
 
 
03 September 2008 @ 10:37 pm
I am one lazy bitch tonight; can't even be bothered posting images... And I'm supposed to be thinking of an interesting essay topic for design theory, but I just can't rack my brains. I'd rather droll out worthless remarks on books no one cares to read. I don't suppose I'd have it any other way.

Never Romance a Rake - Liz Carlyle
The fact that I don't even remember what happened in this book clearly tells you something... like, it was boring. Dear Ms Carlyle, if you're going to go down the alley of the "tortured hero" (surely it's trademarked within the romance genre by now?) then PLEASE do it in an appealing, interesting way, and not through regurgitations of previous works! It's a fucking insult to this particular fan of yours. Granted, I liked the feistiness of the French heroine, but even she got old quickly for me when tied the knot with Kieran (what kind of hero's name is that? Reminds me of the Australian Olympic swimmer). In any case, the rake was doing the romancing mostly; the woman was all compliance, as usual. I'm quite disappointed, overall.
Verdict: 3/5

The Thursday Next series (ongoing) - Jasper Fforde
I got The Eyre Affair as a present for Christmas in 2005, and it's only now that I've finished the quadrilogy (the fifth book is newly released and I hate the book cover so I'm refusing to buy it--at present). I suppose it was because the first book was a bit sluggish for me; I found the second and third books much more lively and witty. Probably because they featured far more interesting literary characters apart from the demure Jane Eyre and the rugged Edward Rochester--Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations) clearly being the outstanding figure. Now if only Dickens had taken a note or two from Mr Fforde--his books would have been more enjoyable for the bored senior high schooler forced to endure English literature (because God forbid anyone reading an ancient text). I can think of worse Dickensian punishments... like emptying Mr. Tulkinghorn's chamberpot or sniffing Fagin's armpits or what-have-you. Anyway, these books will most likely only appeal to bibliophiles--the constant tongue-in-cheek referencing to the English language and syntax and English literature would go over the head of a typical person (including yours truly; I enjoy the classics but whether I am well-read is another matter) but hey, give it a shot--you may be surprised and even enjoy the ridiculous ride to a world where semi-colons actually come to life.
Verdict: 4/5 avg

Addition - Toni Jordan
I'm trying to broaden my scope of Australian literature and all in between, apart from the usual Courtenays, Wintons and Careys, and giving more Australian authors, both new and old, a chance. I'm glad I took notice of this particular book 'cause it was like my drug for three hours. It's very polished for a debut novel. Methinks I should sign up for RMIT's writing course if they produce work like this. I thank the A2 liftout in the Saturday Age (this is only one of the many newspaper features I read religiously, never miss a piece of this) for the feature on Toni Jordan. She has a refreshing writing style, and she's a seasoned Melburnian (all the more to love her). And her heroine is what a six year old kid with the worldliness of a rock a would describe as "WEIRD". Obsessive-compulsives aren't all Germophobics--this obsessive-compulsive heroine COUNTS. Everything. From the letters of a potential lover's name to the dimensions of her apartment to the number of seeds on her daily orange seed cake. The hero is not some swashbuckling knight bursting with rippling muscle but an "average" bloky football-loving, meat-pie-eating cinema-buff who nonetheless possesses the sex appeal of said swashbuckling knight. Did I mention he's Irish? Oh, and Nikola Tesla, the world's most forgotten inventor, is the heroine's equivalent of the first Australian Idol. This book is borderline chick-lit--the type of chick-lit that I detest, but what distinguishes it from all the other Bridget-Jones-esqueness of others is that it embraces the weirdness of said heroine, and deals with serious issues in an endearing, confronting but never dark manner.
Verdict: 4/5 -- crack on High Street (geddit? Oh I do amuse myself)

The Painted Veil - W. Somerset Maugham
I just remembered this book because the DVD of the film adaptation is out tomorrow. I read this months back, not long after I saw the Edward Norton/Naomi Watts film in summer and my life was changed forever (pretty much this was so). Maugham is known for a poetic, lyrical writing style and bad characterisation but this novel is a beautiful insight into failed relationships and the blossoming of something deeper in the face of adversity. The 2006 film took this theme of forgiveness further in a more contextual way. No happy endings but I wouldn't have had it any other way myself. Plus, Edward Norton is sexy. Oh wait, I'm talking about the book, right?
Verdict: 4/5

The Good German - Joseph Kanon
Now I love me some World War II drama, and this book doesn't disappoint with its historically rich detail and taut thriller plot. It's not bad that the film tie-in cover features an ever-handsome George Clooney as the protagonist hero. Seriously what man doesn't look good in a soldier's uniform? I'm spontaneously combusting just thinking about it. So here we are in post-war Germany and American journalist Jake Gesimar is picking up some of the pieces for his latest article. He has a German mistress (don't they all?), the lovely, charismatic but broken Lena. Really it's got all the good stuff of a classic pulp book. I just spent too long finishing this baby off (I bought it in April 2007 and finished it pretty much in April/May 2008).
Verdict: 3.5/5

I dunno why (or maybe I do) but I am avoiding Breaking Dawn like the plague, and I am SUPREMELY amused by Stephenie Meyer's so-called hissy fit re: the leak of a mere draft of her Edwardian novel... for fuck's sake woman, get over it. Good thing JKR has a level head otherwise Voldemort might never have kicked the bucket... or worse yet Ron and Hermione would never have consummated their passionate smexy love (!!!!!!!!!!!). Good grief!

Anyhoo, off to read Kathryn Smith's latest Brotherhood of Blood (geez, how lame does it sound when spoken aloud?) offering, Let the Night Begin. I'm keeping my expectations low but it's so hard when one has so thoroughly enjoyed the predecessors. I haven't even written reviews on her stuff--see, that's how lazy I am.
 
 
24 August 2008 @ 04:30 pm
Geez, I've been reading a lot of crap lately. Anyway, I've summed things up in nutshells, so you'll be spared the same pain of reading my crap. These reviews span from January to about July, I think and I'm sure I've forgotten a good number too. So consistent, eh?




Don't Tempt Me—Sylvia Day
I confess. I like Day's stuff. She doesn't dress the sex up with flowery prose—it's downright dirty and sweaty. Granted, her writing is awkward in the attempt to be "English" and yet in essence very much "modern American", but who gives a damn anyway, all these romance authors know squat about the Regency era or what have you. The romance is romanticised, go figure that. The sad thing is in this novel I would rather see the secondary couple go to town more often (if you know what I mean...).
Verdict: 3.5/5—temptation abounds!



Thrill in the Knight—Julia Latham
Apart from wondering if this woman is in any way related to the fallen former Labour Party leader, I was very indifferent to this story; the premise had promise and it was wasted away by implausible misunderstandings and unimaginative settings. The only thrill to be had is when the book is ended. Seriously though, the title is a very bad attempt at a pun. Kids, don't try this at home. Maybe I'll give her other books a try but I'm not keeping my hopes up. I only read this in the first place 'cause I was having a Middle Ages fetish.
Verdict: 2.5/5—less thrills, more chills.



Dark Sentinel—Melissa Lopez
The Netherworld series is actually somewhat unique in the paranormal genre. A rather brutal treatment of the hero is quite unheard of within the land of Happily Ever After, so perhaps the feminist in me was mollified to see the man battered for once, by his own people no less, who are actually completely fucked up gang-banging sadomasochistic demons. There's an underlying violence and horror in Lopez's world that is both wondrous and frightening. I think I'm actually looking forward to reading more; am I screwed up or what?
Verdict: 3.5/5—not for the faint of heart!



Like a Thief in the Night—Bettie Sharpe
I've never denied that I'm a superficial person—I love beautiful, pretty things especially when I can't afford them, and the cover image of this novel was very pretty and the blurb seemed interesting enough (if they're not then, well, the copy-writer should be fired). Lots of hot, angry secks between two gorgeous, deadly assassins, well, what's not to love about that, eh? Crackfriggintastic. Very choppy ending though, must say. Still, Sharpe is an author I'm keeping a sharp eye out for. Apparently her anti-fairy tale interpretation of Cinderella is supposed to be fabulous.
Verdict: 4/5—fancrackin'tastic



Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed 1), Midnight Awakening (Midnight Breed 2), Midnight Rising (Midnight Breed 3), Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed 4) —Lara Adrian
Goodbye Ms Ward (for good), hello Lara! I have to say I was pretty damned impressed by this vampire series, and I think I'm rather difficult to impress in this particular genre; so many people seem to have implanted the naive idea in their heads that they can get away with producing utter rubbish just because their so-called novels have a drop-dead gorgeous, irresistible bloodsucker in it. Case in point, Twilight's successions. If only that were true. There's a great grittiness to Adrian's world that feels quite tangible and the tension between her protagonists in each novel is damned palpable to boot. Her narratives just get better each time; it's crack on crack. Favourite so far has to be Midnight Rising (Tegan's story). Definitely an author to look out for.
Verdict: 4/5 avg.—a gritty, realistic vision of the vampiric underworld with strong, (on the whole) likable heroines and the usual angst-ridden swashbucklingly irresistible heroes.


Tyger, Tyger Burning Bryght—Cathryn Cade
Some ideas just weren't meant to come to fruition, although the crack was fun but all too short-lived. And geebus, could book covers get any more BLATANT?
Verdict: 2/5—smokin' hot in many furry places, double entendres and all.



Only a Duke Will Do—Sabrina Jeffries
Only a puke will do. While Jeffries writes her love scenes with the finesse that has become expected of her, there is little else to recommend her dull narratives of late. For shame. All that tension for a crappy climax (in every sense of the word).
Verdict: 3/5—why do all her heroines make me want to crack my head open against a brickwall?



To Taste Temptation—Elizabeth Hoyt
I am relieved to say this was a better effort from Ms Hoyt. An irritating heroine with an equally irritating hero? Superhotsecks in unconventional places? I'm sold!
Verdict: 4/5—this is what I love about Hoyt, her stuff is full of delicious crap, and she revels in it.



Fearless Fourteen—Janet Evanovich
This woman seems to be getting better and better every time. It's NOT RIGHT! The plots just get more elaborate and hilarious, no matter how gruesome the crimes are. Evanovich has a knack for characterisation and slapstick humour in a sum of a few words. Highly recommend the audiobooks, narrated by actor, Lorelei King. I'm sorry, I know there's shitloads to snark about but I'm just too fangirly for it.
Verdict: 4/5



The Countess Takes a Lover—Bonnie Dee
Interesting take on the classic older-woman-younger-man concept; the prose is awful and, whaddaya know, the plot was just ridiculously funny.
Verdict: 2.5/5—I'd probably rent The Graduate DVD instead.

Oh yes, I have Breaking Dawn.
No, I have not read it.
Yes, I will.
No, don't ask me tomorrow.
 
 
25 June 2008 @ 04:33 pm
Eh, I dunno what happened this semester – I didn't get to read as much as I'd hoped. But I have reviews on the way. xD
Tags:
 
 
So the RWA is having a crackdown on internet piracy. Of all the organisations in the world, it's THEM. I say they can go fuck themselves. Oh wait, they're the experts on that already aren't they? Honestly, as long as books and television and movies are not accessible to all then piracy will always remain a need and a necessity. The RWA can go and find some bigger fish to fry, or make that bigger bosoms, because quite frankly just posting a blacklist of sites isn't going to curb the rate at which piracy is expanding.

Of course it might be a catch-22 because music sites and some book retailers (Dymocks for example) have embraced the digital download, with mixed success, but give people an incentive to want to buy your product and you might not need to make such a calculated crackdown on so-called perpetrators.

Anyhoo, my first review for 08 -- I read this one all the way back in January.

The Soldier's Return by Melvyn Bragg

Now you all know that I love my World War II (and the occasional WWI) fiction, and this novel does not disappoint.
In 1946, Englishman Sam Richardson returns to his wife and young son after fighting in the "Forgotten War" in Burma. Like so many who fought beside him and lived to return, Sam feels suffocated by life in tiny rural Wigton. The men who were left behind ask too many painful questions, and nightmares rob Sam of sleep. Work is scarce and demeaning, and rebuilding his life with his wife, Ellen, and young son, Joe, is fraught with awkwardness, misunderstanding, and frustration. Ellen wants a home with a garden and maybe a second child, and Sam is tempted by the government's offer of relocation to Australia. In the end, readjustment nearly destroys Sam's family.
I really enjoyed this story. Sam's frustration, inner rage and loneliness is palpable and raw -- the shell shock doesn't just die along with the war, it stays forever, embedded in the minds and hearts of the soldiers who were lucky to return home. The drama of village life is understated, and gives off an air of careless indulgence and ignorance that I found irritating, but completely relevant in the context. If you're looking for an epic romance stay clear because this will quickly bore you. In spite of Sam's angst about everything in his life, there is hope yet: the final chapters are exquisite, ending in a heartwarming manner.

Verdict: 3.5/5 -- An honest and also devastating story of the effect the war has left on its humble survivors and those lucky enough to not have witnessed it.

I just realised this is the first part of a trilogy; alas I only have the first and third novels which is highly convenient...
 
 
 
06 December 2007 @ 10:18 pm
That hot guy tied to Lissianna Argeneau's bed? He's not dessert—he's the main course!

Lissianna has been spending her centuries pining for Mr. Right, not just a quick snack, and this sexy guy she finds in her bed looks like he might be a candidate. But there's another, more pressing issue: her tendency to faint at the sight of blood . . . an especially annoying quirk for a vampire. Of course it doesn't hurt that this man has a delicious-looking neck. What kind of cold-blooded vampire woman could resist a bite of that?

Dr. Gregory Hewitt recovers from the shock of waking up in a stranger's bedroom pretty quickly—once he sees a gorgeous woman about to treat him to a wild night of passion. But is it possible for the good doctor to find true love with a vampire vixen, or will he be just a good meal? That's a question Dr. Greg might be willing to sink his teeth into . . . if he can just get Lissianna to bite.
This novel, if one can even call it that, really was just an excuse for a mortal and a vampire to have gratuitous sex. Lissianna spends so much time explaining her background and her family that there is little left for the development of her relationship with the rather charming Dr. Hewitt. The subplot of Lissianna's hemaphobia is an interesting premise and I am sorry that it was not explored in greater detail - it seems like a silly red herring. As a cherry on top, the writing is dull and awkwardly prosed. Badly done, Ms Sands, badly done!

I have not read Sands' previous vampire works, and perhaps I picked the wrong one out of the lot, but needless to say, Sands doesn't look like she's a keeper in the long haul. I have never been more pleased to see the final page of a book!

Verdict: 1.5/5 - ... NEXT!
 
 
06 December 2007 @ 10:04 pm
I have a big line up of books to be reviewed, so wotcher!

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Who says a vamp can't have it all?

Darcy Newhart thought it was a stroke of genius - the first-ever reality TV show where mortals vie with vampires for the title of The Sexiest Man on Earth. As the show's director, Darcy's career would be on track again. And she can finally have a life apart from the vampire harem. Okay, so she's still technically dead, but two out of three's not bad. Now she just has to make sure that a mortal doesn't win. If only she wasn't so distracted by a super-sexy and live contestant named Austin...

But Darcy doesn't know the worst of it. Austin Erickson is actually a vampire slayer! And he's got his eye on the show's leggy blond director. Only problem is, he's never wanted any woman - living or dead - as badly. But if he wins her heart, will he lose his soul? And if it means an eternity of hot, passionate loving with Darcy, does that really matter anyway?


An interesting premise I thought, and then I met the misogynistic-esque Austin, and the two-dimensional Darcy (who I mistook for a man for a moment). Sure there is some spark of chemistry between our two protagonists, but I couldn't be quite convinced that Austin really did want Darcy in the end, or whether he was simply listening to his lusty appetite, as he displayed a strong disdain for the "undead" throughout the book that never truly shook off.

In spite of this major flaw, it was still readable.

Verdict: 2.5/5 - you'll feel more "alive" reading Dracula.

---

This "adult content flag" is most peculiar. It seems that everything I write henceforth is flagged "adult"... *rolls eyes*
 
 
11 October 2007 @ 10:38 pm
OK, I know I've been slow on the reviews but here's a very quick overview of what I've read in the past two months (which has not been much, unfortunately):

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
    A worthy ending to a highly enjoyable and acclaimed fantasy series, albeit considerably darker and dilapidated as far as the plot goes. Nevertheless, I found it an enthralling experience. The death count will indeed shock all. A thorough review from yours truly will come soon. Wotcher!
    Verdict: 4/5

  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
    OK, so I just wanted to know what all the hype was about, and this whole Edward/Bella and Jacob/Bella business. And quite frankly I've missed reading the vampire genre. There have not been many good series to my satisfaction of recent years, but I am pleased to say that this book was wonderful with refreshing prose. The story is fraught with a good dose of sexual tension and teenage angst. I've already bought New Moon and Eclipse so they're next on my agenda
    Verdict: 4/5

  • Northern Lights (His Dark Materials - Book 1) by Philip Pullman
    Seeing the film trailer a bajillion times at the cinema had me yearning to read this old favourite again. Lyra and Pan are a pair of the most wonderful characters I've read in children's/young adult fantasy. It's a delightful adventurous fantasy that will enthrall children and adults alike. Although now I can't stop imagining Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter and Daniel Craig as Uncle Asriel, compared to my original images. It is neither a crime nor a blessing.
    Verdict: 4.5/5
 
 
18 July 2007 @ 11:32 pm
As soon as I read the first page I knew that this book wasn't going to be my complete cup of tea...
Misha is an aristocratic young officer in the army when the Russian revolution sweeps away all his certainties. Tonya is a nurse from an impoverished family in St Petersburg. They should have been bitter enemies; and yet they fall passionately in love. It cannot last, and Misha must flee the country as Tonya faces arrest and possibly death.

Thirty years later, Misha has survived the War and seeks to rebuild his life in the destroyed city of Berlin. Drawn into spying for the British, he learns of a talented female agent from the Soviet quarter. Can it be his lost love? And how will they find each other, as the divide deepens between East and West?
First of all, the man writes romance like a textbook. The depth of feeling is there yet as conversational as buying ham over the delicatessen counter. The historical research was thorough and authentic, rendering the story with elaborate backdrops within a sweeping time span of over seven decades - from the birth of Soviet Russia to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I couldn't connect emotionally with Tonya and Misha, and when that happens; well, it's a bumpy road to the end of the journey.

Verdict: 2.5/5 - Read the Tatiana and Alexander trilogy by Paullina Simons instead.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows review is very soon! Not that I want to review it - it's too sad to contemplate the actual end...
 
 
05 June 2007 @ 06:53 pm
I finished this ages ago, but only found time to write a somewhat decent review today. As the cover says it is a compilation of "Tatiana and Alexander's Recipes for Food and Love". It will be somewhat difficult to fully appreciate this book if you have not read the preceding trilogy (The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander/The Bridge to Holy Cross, The Summer Garden) but the recipes are simply delicious, ranging from borscht to ice cream to stuffed cabbage, each with a significantly melancholy and bittersweet anecdote from the trilogy to suit. Perhaps prepare a tissue box for the final pages of the book. ;]

Verdict: 4/5
A keeper for Tatiana and Alexander fans who happen to be food buffs, or either.