19 February 2012

In My Mailbox (11)

is a weekly recurring meme hosted by The Story Siren
Every Sunday, Kristi shares her mailbox contents 
and gives us bloggers the opportunity to leave a link 
sharing our own mail!

Hey everbody!

This week I finally received my 'Blythe Collection Guide Book'! 
It has many beautiful pictures of every Blythe doll manufactured, starting 2001. There were even some Blythe dolls I didn't recognize. 
The only downside is the Japanese... I don't understand why they use English titles but simply write the rest in Japanese... Does anyone know of a simple way to translate this? Like with some smartphone-app?
Also, the book would have been better if there had been something in it about the original 'Kenner' Blythes. Then again, had they written that in Japanese as well, it wouldn't have made any difference to me...

I'm hopelessly behind on my recurring blog-posts ever since I started to become more active again. I'm so tired after my quick-walks my brain stops functioning, LOL. I wanna read because I'm behind with that as well, but again, the brain-mush doesn't co-operate... Ah well, health is more important, and if I want to change my appearance again it's gonna take some effort! Alas... ;)

Did you get anything in your mailbox this week? Share with a link and I'll stop by!

Happy reading! :) 

11 February 2012

In My Mailbox (10)

is a weekly recurring meme hosted by The Story Siren
Every Sunday, Kristi shares her mailbox contents 
and gives us bloggers the opportunity to leave a link 
sharing our own mail!

Hey all,

In the nick of time the postman brought me the book I already blogged about in my first WoW (Waiting on Wednesday) post: 
'Scarlet' by A.C. Gaughen... Yay! 

I was extra happy I got book mail this week, because I finally took some pictures to go with IMM! 
Winter has finally kicked in here in The Netherlands with temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius at night and -6 degrees Celsius during the day. So I decided to go out to a nature area near our house, tagging along my (pink!) camera, Blythe doll and mini mailbox. 
First, some teens were frolicking about on the ice on the spot I wanted to take my pictures. So, I walked a little further and took some pics of the frozen lake when a huge, white swan walked over to me. Maybe he thought I had food, maybe he was gonna end op chewing off my (expensive!) doll's head, so again, I walked a little further.
I got my thingies from the bag and tried to jam the stick of the mailbox into the ground. That was like trying to jam it into solid rock.... DUH! 
I couldn't seem to balance the letterbox and my doll together, plus my doll's arms were coming loose too. 
I gave up. I walked home through the blistering cold and changed into my warm house-suit.

Today, I took some INDOOR shots of my Blythe doll and her mailbox with packages, as you can see up top. It looks like she's in heaven instead of snow :P

Anyways, did you receive any books in the mail, or paid the library a visit? Leave me a link and I'll come visit!

Happy, warm, indoors reading! :)

10 February 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (3)

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read
Every week there's a new feature bloggers can respond too!

This week's feauture: Goldilox and the Tree Weres

What would you prefer: reading your favorite book over and over again until you got sick of it OR reading 100s of mediocre books? And why?

Tough choice! If all I had left in the world would be my ONE fav book, then yes, I would read that one over and over again. BUT I think I would have to get creative and write another book myself!

However, since that's not an option I am going to stick with reading many mediocre books instead. Because no matter how much I like my fav books, I want to read new things, in different genres. Who wants to eat the same meal every day, no matter how jummy the dish is? No one I'd guess. The flavor would be lost after a while until it becomes just as mediocre as every other meal you've ever had.

You know, if things got really bad... We could always swap books!

But hopefully I'll never have to choose ;)

Leave me a link with your FFF post, let me know if you're a new follower and I'll return the favor! Happy reading! :)

9 February 2012

Review: Hallowed

'Hallowed' by Cynthia Hand
Series: ‘Unearthly’ #2
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Romance
Published:  January 2012
Pages: 403
My rating:  

The Blurb: For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning. 

So, I just finished reading this, the tears are still on my cheeks, but I don’t want it to end. I want to read it again, now. Always. Somehow, Cynthia Hand was able to look straight into my heart. How is it possible she used the (almost) exact same words in her book, as my (now dearly departed) mother told me…?
'You and I have a connection that nothing, not on heaven or earth, or even hell, could ever break. If you want to talk to me, talk to me. I’ll hear you…'
Yes, this book touched me in a personal way because I have been through some of the things Clara Gardner went through. Which wouldn’t have been possible if Clara wasn’t such a strongly written character.

And characters are indeed one of the many strong aspects of this book (and its predecessor). More specifically: Clara Gardner. She’s a real teenage girl who makes mistakes, even if she is part angel.
She thinks for herself, tries to find the answers her mother won’t / can’t give her and she’s strong-willed (or stubborn, depending on which way you look at it…), for she’s willing to go against her purpose because of the love she feels for Tucker. Which may come across as selfish –you know, going against the Grand Design and all- but the way Cynthia Hand has written Clara, makes that choice totally understandable. 
The feelings she has for Tucker are so realistic, so pure, so natural you can actually feel them yourself. It's hard not to love a guy like Tucker, who is the perfect boyfriend, without being too good to be true. Still, Clara doubts herself, knowing it’s not right. Knowing Tucker should have died in that forest fire. When the moment comes that Clara realises her new vision is about the death of someone close to her, I myself could almost feel the slap she got in her face. Later on, when she finds out (through the ever curious Angela Zerbino) that she was wrong and someone else’s life is at stake, it broke my heart even more. The way she felt was painfully lifelike, the zombie-state she went in, because I have been in that place myself, alas. (Here, the staccato-writing style works marvellous.)

The absence of certainty’ could be the motto of Clara’s life, she thinks, when she hears Christian say those words. But amidst the craziness that is her life, Clara still manages to maintain her wits:
‘I’m having an argument with myself. And I’m losing. So not a good sign.’
Slowly, the mystery surrounding Christian Prescott, (the part-angel boy who apparently shared Clara’s initial vision) gets resolved. Again, naturally paced, because of Clara’s aversion of being in his presence at first, and the awkward conversations they have. Finally a sensible (okay, that fact is open for discussion when it comes to many other things, but in this case…) girl who admits memorizing the facts and physique of some boy doesn’t mean you know him.
‘Every time I see him I’m struck by the fact that I don’t know actually know him. In spite of all the conversations we’ve had, the time we’ve spent in Angel Club together, the way I memorized practically every detail about him last year like some obsessed little Mary Sue, he’s still a mystery to me. He’s still that stranger who I only get glimpses of.’ 
As time goes by, Clara and Christian do become closer, forced by circumstances, based on friendship, the chemistry (still) existing between them and their joined purposes.

And finally Jeffrey, Clara’s younger brother, gets a bigger part. You can feel his change throughout the book, it makes you wonder what’s going with him and why. (Besides the obvious.) He’s been  written incredibly life-like, the way he copes with life: his anger and his denial, the way he takes off; they’re all things I recognize from my own brother. Once his purpose is revealed, it all starts to make more sense.

Another surprise is the truth concerning Clara’s dad… Which, I won’t spoil of course. But the feelings surrounding him…

I want to mention a passage/ ‘event’ which surprised me enormously and filled me with joy, awe and warmth, it made me feel a bit overwhelmed even, like the time when Harry Potter visited the International Quidditch Finals. An original idea, totally fitting the story, adding more atmosphere to it. ‘Glorious’. The angelic details are certainly present, but not overwhelming. There's room for a real story, but still room for the supernatural background. Cynthia Hand found a way to create a perfect balance between all the elements in this book: plot/story, paranormal elements, romance, humor, character depth and growth: every ingredient is mixed together in this perfect 'Hallowedblend

There are some fun references to popular things happening nowadays, which will no doubt make this now-contemporary read, a fun retro book to read many years from now. For example, there’s an amusing comparison to Edward’s midnight gawk/stalk sleeping Bella sessions.
Also there’s a comparison of which I kinda assume it’s an ‘ode’ to one of the best TV-shows ever, where Clara borrows the epic words Angela Chase in ‘My So-called Life’ once uttered as the words she would want to hear when having sex for the first time:
‘He’s beautiful, so crazy beautiful it almost hurts to look at him--’
The initial pace of the book is slow-(ish). Yes, there are many things happening, but they are all easy to follow. The writing style is mostly fluent, though sometimes a bit too staccato to my liking. A bit childish perhaps. Not very poetic. Sometimes I’m annoyed by the lack in sentence variation, other times I’m pleasantly surprised by lengthy sentences.

That is, however, the only negative thing I have to say about ‘Hallowed’. It was better and more intense than ‘Unearthly’. It started out sweetly and slowly, but got so much deeper in an emotional way. The story swallows and envelopes you, in a bitter sweet embrace. Much like the moment you know you’re sharing your last painful kiss with a lover you don’t want to leave, but have to anyway. Crushing.


I want more.


(Somehow, 'Happy Reading' doesn't fit now...)

8 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (2): Scarlet

'Waiting on Wednesday' is a weekly meme,
 hosted by Jill over at 'Breaking the Spine'. 

Hey there!

When I saw the book 'Scarlet' by A.C. Gaughen pop up somewhere on Goodreads and read about its interesting premise, I pre-ordered mine almost instantly! Admittedly, the gorgeous cover was the proverbial last drop! (It's shown towards the end of the video. I enjoyed listening to the beautiful prose also.)

'Scarlet' was supposed to be published later, but I received an email this week already, confirming its early release and consequently, its journey towards me...

Are you excitedly waiting for a book as well? Let me know, leave me a link and I'll hop on over to your blog!
Happy reading! :)

'Scarlet's Blurb: 
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

3 February 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (2)

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read
Every week there's a new feature bloggers can respond too!

This week's feature: Omnom Books

Define what characterisitcs your favorite books share. Do they all have a kickass heroine or is the hot love interest the Alpha Male?

As usual there's no simple answer to the featured question, as I'm sure is the case with almost every reader out there! 

I'm inclined to say I prefer my female characters feminine, but with a witty/edgy side. (Sarcasm) I don't like my heroines to be 'over-the-top' kick-ass, but still strong, with brains and self-sufficient.
Normal, besides their special ability. Realisticly written, as far as that's possible in my favorite genre, fantasy. 

*Lena Holoway from 'Delirium' (Lauren Oliver)
*Clara Gardner from 'Unearthly' (Cynthia Hand)
*Taya 'the Icarus' from 'Clockwork Heart' (Dru Pagliassotti)
*Aoife Grayson from 'The Iron Codex' (Caitlin Kittredge)
*Finley Jayne from 'The Steampunk Chronicles' (Kady Cross)

When it comes to my men, I'm such a cliché... I'm a real sucker for the bad guys... The wounded puppies, the men with alterior motives when it comes to their bad attitude. I like my (book-)men to act manly, (and a bit) dominant even. Humor is a must also, more specifically sarcasm... 

*Will Herondale from 'The Infernal Devices' (Cassandra Clare)
*Alex Sheathes from 'Delirium' (Lauren Oliver)
*Dean Harrison from 'The Iron Codex' (Caitlin Kittredge)
*Cameron Briel from 'Fallen' (Lauren Kate)

My one exception is Tucker Avery from the 'Unearthly' series (by Cynthia Hand): he's not a bad boy, he's for real though. Manly, with a hint of romance.

What about you, are there certain characteristics your book share?
Share with me!

Happy reading! :)

2 February 2012

Review: Fallen in Love

'Fallen in Love' by Lauren Kate 
Series: Fallen (#3.5)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Romance, Fantasy
Published:  January 2012
Pages: 201
My rating: 

The Blurb: Unexpected. Unrequited. Forbidden. Eternal. Everyone has their own love story.
And in a twist of fate, four extraordinary love stories intersect over the course of a romantic Valentine’s Day in medieval England. Miles and Shelby find love where they least expect it. Roland learns a painful lesson about finding and losing love. Arriane pays the price for a love so fierce it burns. And for the first-and last-time, Daniel and Luce spend a night together like none other.
Lauren Kate’s ‘Fallen in Love’ is filled with stories… the ones everyone has been waiting for.

Despite the dissension surrounding the ‘Fallen series by Lauren Kate, I’ll gladly admit I enjoy the series. I’ll also gladly admit I had some trouble finishing the first book. However, the concept of 2 lovers who are destined  to meet, fall in love, yet never survive their love (until now!) is heart breaking.  Yes, haters, it is. Even though Daniel Grigori is a drag, I get why Lucinda Price loves and chooses him every single lifetime, despite the collision course she’s headed on.

*Love where you least expect it. The Valentine of Shelby and Miles.
I loved ‘Passion’ with all its peeks into Luce’s former lives, because I love reading about the past. There are many eras that still could be explored in Luce and Daniel’s history, and hopefully will be.  Which is why the tale of Shelby and Miles was –besides being a good point to start- right up my alley. However short and sweet it was, it developed very natural, credible and slow-paced. Maybe the magical setting of the Valentine’s Faire in medieval England contributed to Shelby and Miles’ change in perception of one another and the shifting of their feelings, who knows. Despite the harshness, or maybe because of the simplicity in those days, I felt the happiness Shelby must have felt just being around Miles. I guess you could conclude that Shelby and Miles found love when they least expected it, not where
At first Shelby feared for a dreadful outcome though: 
Thrilling. Twenty-four hours of feeling especially single and pathetic…medieval-style.’
Especially when she was reminded several times that her lack of knowledge of the past was eclipsed greatly by Miles’ scholarly mode. 
Traveling with him was like carrying around an encyclopaedia.
*Love Lessons. The Valentine of Roland.
Once Roland’s story began I was pleasantly surprised Lauren Kate wove these 4 stories together the way she did: each one is sort of a follow-up of the next, set in the same time and place, only seen through someone else’s eyes, dealing with someone else’s love life.

A quote that best describes the way Roland felt about his former love Rosaline is this one:
‘He might have been experienced at war, at rebellion against the divine, but when it came to romance, Roland’s heart had been the heart of a child.’
Next, add the advice of someone who didn’t have any luck with his own relationship (Cam) and you’ll understand what happened to Roland. Or rather, what Roland made happen to Rosaline. That it took him several centuries to finally come to peace with his past, was –despite my lack of affection for / interest in the guy-nothing short of heart breaking.

*Burning Love. The Valentine of Arriane.
Arriane’s story has two sides, like good and evil, day and night, darkness and light. I should have expected a lover like Tess I guess, but I still found myself pleasantly surprised. The sugariness was too much sometimes, but the daring proposition and consequences of the offer Arriane’s lover did, made up for that big time! This story had all the ingredients that lacked in the other stories. More spunk, more action, more epic-ness. And a devastating ending…
'As far as possible, Arriane realized, each soul had to be content alone before plunging into love, because one never knew when the other would move out of that love. It was the greatest paradox: Souls need each other, but they also need to not need each other.’
*Endless Love. The Valentine of Daniel and Lucinda.
This story actually takes place during ‘Passion’ (‘Fallen’ #3) which is a fun bonus in its own way. The soul-clefting with Luce’s own old selves stays amazing. Of course, the readers already know about Bill’s intentions by now, which makes it feel like an inside joke.
Other than the fact this Valentine has been the only one Lucinda and Daniel ever shared (and Cam’s cameo), nothing interesting happens. No new realizations for Luce, simply more Luce and Daniel in their own sappy way…
Yes, our medieval Luce was a broken-hearted but wise girl. 
‘The idea that a stroke of chance could decide my heart’s destiny does not appeal to me.’

*My overall impression of ‘Fallen In Love’.*

Sugary sweet ‘n easy: as in easy to read, but also easily written.

Honestly? Most side characters never interested me that much. Besides Cam, obviously. Who happens to be left out of this novel, much to my regret. Then again, given the high doses of sweetness presented in this novel (yes, I’m aware it’s about Valentine, but still…) Cam’s absence is probably a good thing.

At times it feels like Lauren Kate knows her characters too well and they’re not exciting to her anymore. (Enter the ‘easy’ part!) Which is why my favourite, most surprising and most epic story from this novel, has to be Arriane’s story. Because despite the fact this Valentine was the only Valentine ever Luce and Daniel got to share, the story wasn’t refreshing and shared no new insights. Same old Luce and Daniel.

Even though I enjoyed the setting (the medieval Valentine’s Faire in England), it felt easy too. Some parts were described vividly, but the entire setting felt shallow and functioned like a backdrop rather than a well-described, detailed society.

Also, it struck me that some sentences that could have been beautiful, life-altering and epic, failed to deliver their message because it was like Lauren Kate couldn’t find the right words to express her feelings. She simply told the stories she felt the need to tell, but neglected to use the prose it should have been accompanied with.

Enjoyable but slightly disappointing, fluently but shallowly written, a nice bonus but abundant in some ways, extremely sweet… but average. I'm giving it 3 stars because I like the series as a whole and this book adds some background.

To my regret… I haven’t ‘Fallen in Love’ with this book.