Archive for February, 2013

Book Review: Death Cloud

Feb
28
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Death Cloud Cover

Title: Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Holmes #1)

Author: Andrew Lane

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 The year is 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. His life is that of a perfectly ordinary army officer’s son: boarding school, good manners, a classical education – the backbone of the British Empire. But all that is about to change. With his father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously ‘unwell’, Sherlock is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. So begins a summer that leads Sherlock to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent . . .

My Review

I have to admit my fascination with Sherlock Holmes is almost entirely based on the recent BBC revival. While I did read a few of the originals when I was in elementary school, I barely remember them, so my judgement is more based on a replication of the original.

For me, Death Cloud was a bit of a conundrum. Read more »





Wanted: Real-life Becomes Fantasy

Feb
27
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Wanted
Wanted Button

Thanks to Kristilyn for designing the button!

Have you ever wished you could find that one book that was about _____? Have you ever found yourself wondering what a book with a certain kind of theme or message would be like? That’s exactly what “Wanted” is all about. A semi-regular feature, I use “Wanted” to talk about all those books I wish I could find that nobody seems to have written yet. If you happen to know of some books that fit my criteria, I would love for you to send them my way through the comments!

In honor of yesterday’s release of The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson, this week I’m featuring real-life mysteries told with a supernatural or paranormal twist. Seriously guys, I LOVE THESE! It has sort of become a thing, with the big one recently being Jack the Ripper (like in The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, which is totally awesome and you should read it, like yesterday. No, before yesterday, because YESTERDAY you should have read The Madness Underneath, right?) I mean, I love retellings, and what’s better than a retelling that might actually have happened? And there are SO MANY real life mysteries to be used! What happened to Amelia Earhart? What’s up with the Bermuda Triangle for that matter? Why did the bees all disappear in 2009? And I’m sure there’s any number of other unsolved mysteries out there – let’s hear about them!

Do you know of any books that take these classic real-life mysteries and tell them on a slant? What unsolved mystery would you like to see spiced up with some paranormal/supernatural elements?





Book Review: The Gathering Storm

Feb
26
5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Gathering Storm Cover

Title: The Gathering Storm (Katerina #1)

Author: Robin Bridges

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe’s royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina’s strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar’s standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina’s help to safeguard Russia, even if he’s repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

My Review

Russia, black magic and Victorian-style balls? I am so there! I have to say I was a little worried, though. It seems like since its release The Gathering Storm has just fallen off the radar. Usually if a book is really good I’ll see a review here and there for at least a little while after. I needn’t have worried though – this one lived up to its blurb.

Read more »





Media Monday: North & South

Feb
25
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Media Monday
North & South Poster

Image belongs to BBC

Title: North & South
Media Type: Miniseries
Director: Brian Percival
Studio: BBC
Genre: Historical
Summary: [from IMDB]

North and South is a four part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton.

My Review

This is one of those things that I knew I really should watch because a lot of people seem to like it (I heard all about “THE TRAIN SCENE! WAH!”) and because I was fairly likely to enjoy it. While I don’t think I enjoyed it quite as much as some people, it was definitely worth watching, even if just to see Richard Armitage without a beard!

One of the big things I really liked about this one was the time period it portrayed. A lot of the historical dramas are more during the “Jane Austen” time period, all light and frothy with pretty dresses and beautiful balls. North & South is definitely NOT that. Set in Milton, for the most part, it is right smack in the middle of the industrial revolution. Mr. Thornton is the owner of a cotton factory, and we get to see the harsher side of that life. Times are hard, there are workers striking, and not all of the characters live to the end. But all of that hardship somehow made the romance all the more poignant – something beautiful in the midst of all that hardship.

That said, I did question the romance a little. It seemed like Mr. Thornton spent very little time around Margaret over the space of a few months, and then suddenly he was in love with her? Since when? He sees her for a few minutes before his lessons, they exchange pleasantries on the streets, etc. but he hardly knows her well enough to believe he’s in love! Of course, that can mostly be chalked up to my modern sensibilities, and whether I believe in the romance or not, it is adorable.

Bottom line: I’d recommend it! But mostly to fans of period dramas, not necessarily to everyone.





Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge 30

Feb
24
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Clock Rewinders

Clock Rewinders banner

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender shamelessly plug each other, share the fantastic posts, giveaways, or whatever else we’ve found and loved by other awesome bloggers (or authors!) during the week, and talk about the books we plan on reading in the coming week. [Description and banner borrowed from On a Book Bender]

The Corner Newsstand
(This week on Creativity’s Corner)

Read more »





Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight

Feb
21
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Clock Rewinders

Days of Blood and Starlight Cover

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2)

Author: Laini Taylor

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My Review

The funny thing about Days of Blood and Starlight is that, while I can’t tell you more than one or two major things that happened in it, this book was so important to the narrative (well, I assume. I haven’t read book three yet. But it seems like it!)

Read more »





Bookish Bucket List Banner

Thanks to Kristilyn from Reading in Winter for designing the banner!

Have you ever finished a book and said “Man, I wish I could ________ like that?” Bookish Bucket List is a semi-regular feature for the things I’ve put on my bucket list and the books that made me do so.

Everyone, say hello to Kristilyn! I’m so happy to have her over today, to participate in the meme she designed the button for! I’ve been out of town and I am SO BEHIND, but like the saint that she is, Kristilyn offered to guest a few times!

Thank you so much to Anne for having me on the blog today! I love this feature and am constantly reading books thinking about all the things the characters I read about get to do that I’d love to be able to do.

Return to Me cover

Title: Return to Me

Author: Justina Chen

Summary: [from GoodReads]

Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She’s weeks away from starting college–at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad’s last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there’s the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.

And if that isn’t enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb’s dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her “perfect” boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?
Justina Chen, the acclaimed author of North of Beautiful, has created a moving and powerful novel about the struggles that arise from betrayal, the uncertainty of life after high school, and the joy that ultimately comes from discovering what’s truly in your heart.

Kristilyn’s Bucket List Entry: A treehouse!

Why: When I was younger, I remember my cousins having a treehouse in the backyard. It wasn’t extravagant by any means, but still very cool to have this little separate place outside of the main house. In this book, Reb has a treehouse and wants to actually build treehouses as a career. How cool is that?

When I think about treehouses, I start thinking about having this separate little house, maybe with windows on all sides, filled with books and lots of pillows and blankets. Maybe in the trees, or with a view of the river behind the house. It would be so amazing to have this little place, all my own, with no distractions except for my books. I mean, when you think about it, reading in the house can be filled with distractions — there’s the kitchen, the internet, the TV, the phone, the other people living in the house, etc. But in a treehouse, it can be just what you want it to be. That’s it.

Just imagine — a room filled with light, books, blankets, you, and lots and lots of quiet. No distractions. Perfection.

What’s on your Bucket List?

If anyone else would like to join in and guest for a Bookish Bucket List, please email me at: anne [at] creativityscorner [dot] net – I would love to hear from you!





Book Review: The Crowfield Curse

Feb
19
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Crowfield Curse Cover

Title: The Crowfield Curse (Crowfield Abbey #1)

Author: Pat Walsh

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Sent into the forest to gather firewood for the medieval abbey where he’s an apprentice, Will hears a cry for help, and comes upon a creature no bigger than a cat. Trapped and wounded, it’s a hobgoblin, who confesses a horrible secret: Something is buried deep in the snow, just beyond the graveyard. A mythical being, doomed by an ancient curse…

What does this mystery have to do with the cryptic brotherhood of monks Will serves? What does it have to do with the boy himself? When two cloaked figures darken the church’s doorway and start demanding answers, Will is drawn into a dangerous world of Old Magic.

My Review

The first word that comes to mind to describe this book is “odd.” It is an odd mixture of various books I’ve read, the prose felt odd and it left me feeling… odd. In a good way, but it’s still weird.

Read more »





Media Monday: Alice

Feb
18
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Media Monday
Alice Poster

Image belongs to SyFy

Title: Alice (Syfy)

Media Type: TV Miniseries

Released: 2009

Director: Nick Willing

Genre: Drama / Fantasy

Summary: [from IMDB] (unavailable)

Kristilyn’s Review

 

So, Anne is pure evil. Every few days I get a recommendation of some sort from her for a TV show I should watch, or a movie to rent, or a book to read. BUT after falling madly and deeply in love with Doctor Who (one of her awesome recommendations), I have learned to trust Anne with ALL things she urges me to dive into.

 

Alice was one of those things and, oh my gosh, what a ride that was! I absolutely love retellings of classics, from Grimm fairytales to classic novels, and have been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland for years. I’m sad to say that I’ve never actually read the Lewis Carroll original, but I’ve seen enough movies to know what’s going on.

 

Really, Alice in Wonderland is one of those stories that is so crazy and strange, that any retelling of it will be equally crazy and strange, if not more so. I mean, falling through a rabbit hole, a mad hatter, a Cheshire cat, the Queen of Hearts – it’s all so imaginative that in order to make a movie out of it, or in this case, a miniseries, the writers better have a darn good knack for the weird.

 

I was a little worried when I popped this movie into my player, seeing that it was 240 minutes long – I was certain that at some point I would be bored and ready for it to end, but it was such fun to watch! I loved how modern it was, that it wasn’t the same old little girl falling through the rabbit hole kind of story, but a grown woman following her boyfriend who looked to be kidnapped through a mirror to another world.

 

And oh, that world! The whole place just looked fantastic on the screen and I couldn’t tear my eyes away! The colours were magnificent and the story moved at quite a quick pace that by the time I knew it, the movie was already over. I was sad because I didn’t want it to end!

 

Of course, I can’t write a review about the movie without mentioning some of the actors. Catarina Scorsone was brilliant as a grown up Alice. She had the perfect look for the role and even the outfit to boot! Kathy Bates was unrecognizable as the Queen of Hearts – well, I knew it was Kathy Bates, but the whole time I was watching, I couldn’t believe what an amazing actress she was! And then … <insert swoony sigh here> … there’s Andrew Lee-Potts, or Hatter (a.k.a. the MAD hatter in the original story). A special place in my heart is reserved for him because he stole it right from the get-go.  He was charming and quirky and I couldn’t help but smile whenever he was on screen!

 

I laughed, I swooned, and when it was all over I wanted to watch it again. There’s adventure, fantasy, and romance – surely something for everyone! Big thanks to Anne for the wonderful recommendation!

 





Discussion Day: Business Cards

Feb
15
7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion Day

Discussion DayI have a confession to make – I am REALLY BAD at spending money spontaneously. I get it from my dad, though I’m not nearly so bad as him – he’s been doing “research” on buying a new car for TWO YEARS now and they still haven’t test-driven anything! I can spend weeks thinking on something, weighing the pros and cons and researching all my options and prices before I finally make a decision. And some of doing research is finding out what others in a similar position think. So today, I want to know what you think about business cards.

For me, it’s weird to think of getting business cards for something that is a hobby. I’m not trying to sell my website or any sort of product. But, then again, more and more recently I’ve wished I had them to at least show someone – it’s more legit if I have snazzy business cards, right? I guess I just have a really old-fashioned idea of what business cards are for – perhaps I should call them calling cards instead? Or, maybe I should consider bookmarks! That sounds much more like something that a) would go with a book blog, and b) I would use! Then again, the main difference between a bookmark and a business card is the size/shape, and the price. Which brings me back to the business card.

My main concern, though, no matter what I get, is whether I would use it. I am in the unfortunate position of being nowhere near any place big enough to host events – I’ve been to ONE author event in my lifetime, and that was before blogging. I don’t have the money to attend conferences at this point, and there aren’t any other bloggers near me. The two main ways I could see myself using business cards/bookmarks are either leaving a stack at the check-out desk at the two local libraries, and seeding my favorite books with them when I return them hoping the next reader will find them. Is it really worth it? If you have business cards, what are some other things you use them for?

And finally, I was wondering, do any of you have recommendations for designers? I know essentially what I want, and it’s fairly simple – if I had ANY design skills I might be able to do it myself and just go get them run off at Staples. On the other side, is there anyone you would warn me away from?

 





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