Friday, January 30, 2015

Grave Surprise, An Ice Cold Grave, and Grave Secret (Harper Connelly #2–4) by Charlaine Harris

an ice cold graveSUMMARY: In Grave Surprise, Harper finds a body of a girl she already searched for in the past, but in vain, in a 19th century grave. In An Ice Cold Grave, looking for a body of a missing boy puts Harper’s life in danger as she stumbles upon a serial killer. And in Grave Secret, Harper finally finds out the truth about her own family and the disappearance of her older sister Cameron.

MY OPINION:

It has been a long time since I finished the series, and I forgot many details, so I decided to simply review the final three books together. Besides, I would be only repeating the same things if I reviewed each book on its own.

What I enjoyed the most about this series were definitely Harper’s cases. From the strangely reappeared body of Tabitha Morgenstern in Grave Surprise, the serial killer in An Ice Cold Grave (which was both the creepiest and the one that made me empathise with Harper’s predicaments the most), and finally to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Harper’s sister Cameron in Grave Secret, they were full of suspense and their outcomes were unpredictable to the very end.

I liked Harper well enough throughout the series. However, I didn’t much care about Tolliver, who always seemed just as her extension. Even the language used suggests that, since Harper, the first person POV narrator, uses a lot of plural, not only with regard to actions (which makes sense, as they do most things together) but also when describing their emotions and even thoughts, thus “they” like this or that, “they” feel, etc.

Their relationship taking a not really unexpected turn does not do any favours to Tolliver’s character, as he remains uninteresting and personality lacking. If anything, he becomes annoying as he pouts because people only see him as Harper’s sidekick, which hurts his manly feelings.

Nevertheless, I liked the entire series. The books were fast and entertaining reads, and the stories were captivating so much so that I often couldn’t put the book down because I had to know what happened next.

3,5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you like crime and mystery with a bit of a supernatural element, this series might be great for you.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

gotgDIRECTOR: James Gunn; CAST: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe.

MY THOUGHTS:

As usually, I didn’t care much for all the explosions and the like (Why am I watching sci-fi again? Oh, right, because there is more to it than action and special effects), but I liked the film as a whole very much.

What appealed to me most was that Guardians of the Galaxy is at its core a story of a band of misfits who have no one and by teaming together for essentially selfish reasons (read: greed and revenge) at first, they eventually find a family of their own choosing in each other.

The above is an important theme on its own, but alongside it, the line that struck me the most was Rocket’s “I didn’t ask for this!”, spoken in the name of everyone ‘different’. It is such a powerful message all people should bear in mind, that whichever ‘difference’, be it the colour of skin, sexual orientation, a disability, or anything else, sets us apart form the ‘norm’, we didn’t ask for it and shouldn’t be judged on its basis.

After all, we are all Groot. And Groot made me shed a tear in the end. However, Grootlet (as a friend of mine likes to call the Groot sapling) was adorable.

Over all, Guardians of the Galaxy was both an entertaining and thought-provoking film, and I am looking forward to the sequel.

4 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you like good, entertaining, but not mindless sci-fi, give Guardians of the Galaxy a try.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013 – 2014)

OUAT-Wonderland-Title-CardCREATORS: Jane Espenson, Zack Estrin, Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis; CAST: Sophie Lowe, Michael Socha, Peter Gadiot…

SUMMARY: A spin-off of Once Upon a Time is based on Alice in Wonderland, but rather than retelling the story, it is cantered around a twist of its own. In Victorian England, nobody believe young Alice’s stories of her adventures in Wonderland. As she finds herself on the brink of a precarious decision with irreparable consequences, White Rabbit and Knave of hearts save her from a terrible fate and bring her back to Wonderland, where Alice sets on a new series of adventures, saving her friends, herself, and Wonderland itself.

MY THOUGHTS:

Firstly, let me admit that I haven’t read Alice in Wonderland yet (I still might in the future, though) – growing in a non-English speaking country, we read other, Slovene authors, as children.

This is one of the reasons, that although I have seen one or two film adaptations, and I have been watching Once Upon a Time (OUAT) since the beginning (although I only reviewed season 1) I have only caught up with Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (OUATIW) now, but I absolutely loved it, even more so that OUAT.

Here are the reasons why:

  • Alice. She is a wonderful heroine, a “strong female character” written as she should be: yes, she kicks ass, but she is not invulnerable, not masculinised as many so-called strong female characters are; she saves others but needs saving herself, too,  she accepts help when needed, she makes mistakes, and she breaks when everything is too much. But in the end, she comes out stronger and victorious. She is good hearted and selfless, but I loved that she fights for her own happiness, contrary to the cliché of a heroine only putting others’ happiness before hers.
  • Knave of Hearts. What a splendid male sidekick! Sassy and snarky (though, Alice is all that herself as well), and not always quite willing or capable to do what’s right, but the goodness inside him gets the better of him.
  • No love triangles drama. Almost no love drama, period. Far from the usual norm of contemporary television which focuses on romance, in OUATIW, love is in the centre of the story but is also just a part of it at the same time.
  • The villain(s). I loved the parallels the show draws of how differently life can take people who start with things in common: one may earn the error of their ways and try to do better while the other does not do so and suffers the consequences.
  • And all other characters and subplots. There is just so much good I cannot possibly mention everything.
  • Despite the fact that the show wasn’t renewed for a second season, the story is perfectly wrapped up in 13 episodes of its first and only season and everything is nicely tied up. No cliff-hangers or loose ends.
  • The fluff-tastic, but not corny, ending.

Finally, OUATIW does slightly overlap with its parent series (OUAT), but the references make sense even if you haven’t been watching OUAT.

Hence, there is no reason not to watch Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: I think OUAT and Alice in Wonderland fans as well as fantasy lovers in general will tremendously enjoy this series.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015 Challenge

My new goal in life is to keep hobbies just that: hobbies. I am, after all, reading and blogging for myself. So, I'm going to read what and however much or however little I want to and blog and review when I want and/or can. I was basically doing that in 2014 and in brought back some joy into my reading and blogging, so I will keep it low pressure by setting modest goals.

Nevertheless, I'm challenging myself to read 20 books in 2105 and rereads and books not translated into English count as well.
    CHALLENGE RECORDS:

    Books are listed in order of reading (with the level of strangeness, see my rating system); those reviewed are linked to their reviews and also listed under Book Reviews tab.
    1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)
    2. The Battle of the Queens (Plantagenet Saga #5) by Jean Plaidy - (3.5)
    3. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult - (4)
    4. Shadow's Claim (The Dacians #1, IAD #13) by Kresley Cole - (4.5)
    5. The Queen from Provence (Plantagenet Saga, #6) by Jean Plaidy - (3.5)
    6. Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1) by Kresley Cole - (4)
    7. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis (1/7) - (4)

      Books I Read in 2014
      Books I Read in 2013
      Books I Read in 2012
      Books I Read in 2011

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