Sunday, 17 March 2013

Scarlet - by Marissa Meyer

I just finished reading Scarlet (book 2 in the Lunar Chronicles) moments ago, and I instantly felt the need to go onto Goodreads and give it five stars. It was a surprisingly action-packed page-turner, and I read it all in one big wolf-licking gulp (forgive the pun). I have to admire a book that compels me to do that. I rarely give books my figurative five stars of approval unless they have some deeply intellectual underlying thoughts, or quotable life-altering messages, which this book doesn't.

However, it transported me into another world. - I was no longer just in my room reading a book, I was in France jumping-off a speeding train with some huge muscular Wolf-man, or on a huge spaceship navigating my way around radars, hiding like a fugitive. I was in this book, wrapped around its characters. - Eager to see them succeed and be true to themselves throughout their moral dilemmas.

The intricacies, all the character's seamlessly melding together, still blows me away. Its a very detailed story, with fairy-tales intersecting at all angles.

Scarlet is a feisty young lady with fiery red hair (couldn't help love her just for that) who lives in the south of France. She is extremely upset about her Grand-mere's disappearance, and convinced its fowl play. Most of the towns people think she's a little off-her-rocker. - Which reminded me a great deal of Beauty and the Beast. Interesting, too, they both have large "beasts" in them. - Scarlet can be extremely irrational, at times, its enough to make one want to ring-her-neck, and she goes on about her Grand-mere inexhaustibly. By the same token, she endears readers to her by this irrational passion. Especially, our dear Mr Wolf.

Enters Wolf. A strong dark street-fighter with an insatiable hunger, and an ominous tattoo. Before reading Scarlet, do read The Queen's Army, it will heighten your appreciation for Wolf, a deeply troubled and daunting character whom you shall come to love. I feel Meyer really did her homework on Wolves in this retelling of Red Riding Hood.

Most mesmerizing is how the above story is simultaneously told with Cinder's story. Where we get all the juicy details on how Cinder escapes from Royal Guard and continues to grow in her powers of Lunar glamour. Quickly the question of the love between Cinder and Kai enters, and one hopes its real and still alive. Kai, who is, in my opinion, a character most to be pitied, just days into his Emperor-ship he has to choose between true-love and saving his Empire and the world. - Both of which seem to lead to his eminent death. Poor Kai gets no sleep at all.

A character I've never addressed in my review of Cinder is Iko, and its a shame because she adds such life and humor to the stories. Iko is a lovable android with a defective personality chip (which basically means she's fun, dramatic, gets scared, and has crushes like a teenage girl) who Cinder had to rebuild, and save on several occasions. Cinder loves Iko like she's family, and, come to think of it, Emperor Kai feels the same way about one of his droids. The story just wouldn't be the same without Iko.

To digest further subtleties of this story, be sure to read My Friends are Fiction's Interview with Marissa Meyer. The following is an excerpt from this interview where Meyer explains setting choice for Scarlet:

"When trying to choose a setting for Scarlet, I wanted a place that had a history of werewolves and werewolf stories-although the people in my futuristic world aren't superstitious about such monsters, I liked the idea of a very old fear being replaced by a new, very real fear. So when I saw a documentary about a series of killings that happened in 18th-century France, and at the time were believed to be the act of a real werewolf, I felt that worked perfectly for a way to tie the mythology together with my own werewolf-like characters."

I couldn't suppress the constant thought that, done right, this series would make a fantastic movie. Especially with all the high-intensity action scenes in Scarlet. Which isn't as far fetched as it seems after a recent conversation I had with Marissa Meyer on twitter. - it appears movie rights are being discussed. I found myself creating a dream cast for the roles, like:

To quote Marissa Meyer "Lunars are kind of their own ethnicity. Her ancestry is very mixed, and she has tan skin, brown hair, and brown eyes."

- Kristin Kreuk (would be my 1st choice for Cinder, b/c she is Dutch/Chinese but its hard to place her. Also, she can easily be dolled-up and made to look like she's glamouring everyone.)

Jennifer Lawrence as Cinder - might be fun, she has a real intelligent seriousness about her. - 

- Tim Kang as Prince Kai

Or Daniel Henney as Prince Kai -

I know both my Prince Kai picks are Korean, however they could maybe pull-off a Northern Chinese look? No?

- Emma Stone as Scarlet (probably my 1st choice).

Or Brittany Snow as Scarlet.  - 

- Or Rachel McAdams as Scarlet, would be good too, very passionate.

Joe Manganiello is the only actor coming to mind for Wolf -
(To be honest, he was the guy I really imagined Wolf to be while I was reading. - I know, I've got one sexy imagination.)

Can't think of anyone for Captin Thorn at the moment... any suggestions?

You can buy a copy of Scarlet online at: Chapter's Specials

For my review of Cinder (book 1 in the Lunar Chronicles) click on the following link: My Review on Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Sunshine Award

The prestigious Sunshine Award

I was delighted to wake up Yesterday to the notification that I had received this Award from a fellow blogger whom I most sincerely admire, and enjoy creatively. A. K. Anderson - Her blog is always lots of fun, and never the same. She'll get you thinking and make you laugh, often at the same time.

So what is the Sunshine Award?
The Sunshine Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. The recipients of the Sunshine Award are “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” The way the award works is this: thank the person who gave you the award, and link back to them. Then answer questions about yourself. Finally, select up to 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post, and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award!
What inspired you to start blogging?

I work at a bookstore so I wanted to find a way to get in touch with the book community. I also wanted to organized my own thoughts - to have a point of reference - when it came to books I had read. On a minor note I wanted to meet individuals who could inspire me, and in a way help me fine-tune my own writing.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Well... haha. I thought it should express me and my intentions. My name and books. :P

What is your favorite blog that you like to read?

I like ones that are pretty, and colorful. I like ones with giveaway prizes. Ones that have deep insights into an Authors thinking, or perhaps even an actual interview with said Author.  I like ones that have a combo of things to look at like, perhaps the Blogger's vlog, or poetry - I love poetry. More importantly I like ones that share a unique intelligent perspective.

Tell about your dream job.

Honestly, I love what I do. I love waking up in the morning to come into my bookstore and share my passion for literature. Perhaps writing a work of fiction on the side and having that published would be the cherry.

Is your glass half full or half empty?

Oh, its full, baby! :)  I believe positive thinking is 80% of the reason why I never get sick. <cue music>
I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe... Even when I'm trying to be pessimistic it comes out more like subdued optimism, and I still believe the best will actually happen and surprise me. 

If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

Indonesia, Bali. 

What food can you absolutely not eat?

Anything that's still alive or is seemingly looking at me. Or is very slimy.

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?


How much time do you spend blogging?

An hour or two a week.

Do you watch TV – if so, what are some of your favorite shows?

Not much at all, actually... but occasionally I'll sit down and enjoy Oprah, Ellen, or List it or Love it, or some cooking shows... or I did really like MadLove - sad it ended after one season. 

Now, I get to nominated some of my favorite bloggers, and I look forward to their answers to these sunny questions.

History's odds and sods - This lady is fascinatingly well read, and such a pleasure to know. She's is most definitely an inspiration to me. 

Faith Sullivan Writes - Faith is a very talented writer of NA fiction titles Heartbeat and Unexpected. She's fun, down to earth, and very enthusiastic. And a very good twitter friend @_FaithSullivan_ 

Bloggin'bout books - Susan's blog is fabulous, and well-developed. She is a loving mother of four, and incredibly well read. I agree with her reviews 100%! She inspired me to be a more lively blogger. And I hope she writes a book one day. 

In Between  - Jude is a 19 year old university student who is passionate about writing and reading. She's  only been blogging for 2 years and has 1690 followers!! Her blog is lots of fun and has a contest celebrating the anniversary of her 2nd year. 

My Friends are Fiction - Kristen has an amazing blog! She fell in love with Teen Fiction while pregnant, and has some fascinating reviews on the books she really enjoys. Her knowledge and artful thinking becomes very clear in the questions she asks in her blogs. Before reading a book, read her review of it, it will enhance the experience.

Mindful Mundanes - She is an intense blogger and the one who first inspired me with the idea to start blogging. She reads tons of YA fiction, and writes very specific, articulate, and passionate reviews.

Journey of a Soul - CJ Sullivan is a "speculative fiction author" of the Epic Angel Trilogy and has a beautiful blog/vlog combo. She is creative and honest in her blogs, and most enjoyable.

Dyadic Echoes - Andrew is a multi-faceted, and very talented blogger. And a loving father. He does much to support the writing community! 

Ok, there you have it consider yourselves most worthy award winners!! Can't wait to read your answers!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Books in my Soul

One of my favorite Bloggers wrote an article about how the movies, music, paintings, and, of course most especially, books that we grew up with become apart of us. I love this theory, and completely believe it.

Do read her beautifully written blog on this subject: Books in my Soul and the further inspired What art is in your soul?
To follow her on twitter @A_K_Anderson

Also C.J. Sullivan has a lovely vlog posted on her blog of her favorite childhood book. Favorite Childhood Book

And now I attempt to peer into my own soul... What has molded me? What were the books of my childhood that have now became apart of my soul? ...

- Island of the Blue Dolphins - It was b/c of her that I had all sorts of wilderness adventures as a child. I even decorated my room with fur pelts (i.e. my mom's minks - she loved that), rocks, and hanging sticks. Not to mention the yarn spider maze trap I turned my entire room into for a time.

- Miss Rumphius - Its actually based on a the real life of a lady that lived in Maine. Miss Rumphius is a librarian who decides to travel the world. And then fulfill a quest her grandfather gave to her to do something to make the world more beautiful. It  was a quest that always inspired me as a child. And strangely enough my life is truly following a similar path. This is a book I feel compelled to pick-up/buy every time I pass by it.

- Little Women - I was Jo. Tom-boy. Writer. Philosopher. Not content with settling down. Little Women - Chapters Specials

- Pride and Prejudice - I was a little bit of all of the girls, but I greatly related to the sarcasm and independent thinking of Elizabeth.

- Anne of Green Gables - Stubborn redhead with a ridiculous imagination that always got her in and out of trouble. - Yup that's me.

- Cinderella/Sleeping Beauty/Beauty & the Beast - grew up singing my way through everything. Also believed Prince Charming might actually exist in all his perfection. - not such a healthy belief, that one.

- Archie Comics - I've read more Archie comic books then I've read of all other books combined. I just adore Betty. She is Superwomen! She can fix cars. Play any sport like a pro. Bake cake to perfection. She's a straight 'A' student. She is totally sexy, and doesn't really know it. If there was only one character of all literature (yes, I said literature) I could choose to make an impression on my soul, it would be Betty.

She deserves to get Archie, but he doesn't deserve her. Still, I hope she gets him, just because she loves him so completely.
She gets 4 pics in this blog, because she's that awesome.

Do the characters of these various books belong in the same room? Let alone altogether affecting one soul? - curious indeed.  Still, I would hope, had they all known each other, they might have been great friends.

What about you? What books have become apart of your soul?

Monday, 4 March 2013

History's Odds and Sods : Book Review: FIREBIRD - Susanna Kearsley

History's Odds and Sods : Book Review: FIREBIRD - Susanna Kearsley: Firebird by Susanna Kearsley                                                       Hardcover (UK edition) Publisher: Allison & B...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Little Prince By Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Little Prince was actually introduced to me by James Dean. It sounds strange, I know, but its true. Years ago, I went through a bit of a James Dean obsession phase. - And it was mentioned, more then once, how he loved this story, and insisted upon reading it to most of his friends. Etched on a sculpture by his memorial tomb is his favorite quote, from this book, "What is essential is invisible to the eyes." Based on this heavy recommendation I had to read it for myself.  If you haven't read this book, let it be James Dean's praise of it, and not mine, that truly motivates you. - It's more fun that way.

Though I was predisposed to love this book, long before I read it, I found it really was/is a masterpiece. Written for children yet laced with philosophical profoundness for sages. I have personally bought five copies of the book, and I periodically give them out to inspire the particularly enlightened.

Saint-Exupery takes the subject of love with all its complexities, and he concisely explains it to a child. "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose..." "If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers..." He further awakens the reader to the sad reality that adults tend to forget what is actually important, and become buried in superciliousness.

It is no wonder over 80 million copies of the book have been sold in over 180 languages. Yet, it still amazes me to see how The Little Prince has become such a culture-craze. Quotes, from this book, can be found anywhere from jewelry to tattoos. Artist's depictions of many of the book's scenes are constantly being drawn. People of all backgrounds seem to be very touched by the universal truths found in this beautiful story about a Little Prince's love for his rose.

Copies of this book are available for purchase here: Chapters

Post Review Notes:

Since writing the above review, I have read some very conflicting reviews on GoodReads, though by far the majority still do love it, I would like to state my thoughts on some of the objections raised.

Obviously I loved this book. It spoke to me (and 80 million+ others), and is the kind of philosophical book I enjoy. Certainly I appreciate that not everyone enjoys that type of story. And quite often when a book is so overwhelmingly loved it is met with an equally passionate wall of hate.

However, I think as far as the accusation of it " trying too hard to be profound..." goes, the year it was published should be taken into consideration. And I would like to explain why I feel this way. Today, we may have thousands of books that are packed with profoundness, but this book was the grandfather of those, published in 1943, right in the middle of world war II. There was not much like it at the time.

Pointed statements were made about racism/xenophobia, the fallibility of leaders, the lack of humanity in the commercial world, and in general the foolishness of the human condition. Granted it does have a depressing tone which reflects the author's disillusionment and perhaps bitterness with his own life. Nevertheless, it was a powerful message at a time when the world was falling apart at the seams, and I believe it deserves some respect for that alone.

In the end, at the heart of this story, the message is fairly simple: all the distractions and garbage in the world mean nothing... Love is what gives life importance. - And I think that's a message worth sharing.