alexandral: (Powerful opponents - hard day)
"Hunger Games" is a big disappointment of 2011, something I expected to like following almost universal praise this series receive in Lj land.. This disappointment goes quite deep covering many different levels and I feel compelled to write this down while I remember, even though I am probably re-capping some of the things I said previously:



Hidden because this is may be too long and might contain spoilers, even though I tried to be vague and not disclose the ending )

Overall: Book 1: 8/10, book 2: 6/10, book 3: 4/10, on average: 6/10

PS: I always welcome a discussion, but please don’t comment with statements like "You read it all wrong". The way I read it is the way I read it, and although I respect opinions that differ from mine, and I am 100% sure that all opinions are valuable, I lived half of my life in a place where I was told what to think by other people, and unfortunately this made me quite sensitive to anyone’s attempts to tell me what to think. So – your opinion is yours, mine is mine and if you think that your opinion is somehow more valuable than mine we differ on a very fundamental level.

On the happier note: Lois McMaster Bujold! Vorkosigan Saga! HERE I COME! Cordelia and Miles and everyone else!!!!!!!!
alexandral: (Star Wars - Leila fighting)


I am through about 40% of "Mockingjay", and dear friends list, I am getting seriously annoyed. Katniss is undergoing what is probably the worst ever character development in the history of fiction.

Spoilers )

PS: Shall I keep listening? There are 6.5 more hours of this! Or shall I give up, find the spoilers, and move on to some better books?
alexandral: (The Painted Veil - Kitty China Day)
I am sailing fairly quickly through "Hunger Games" trilogy, mostly because I promised myself to listen to THE WHOLE OF "Vorkosigan Saga" next and all the books are ready and I can't wait!

I feel very apologetic because I know so many of you on my friends list love the trilogy, but "Catching Fire" (the second book of the trilogy) left me not very impressed. I AM SORRY. But I must tell you the truth. :D



The first book of "Hunger Games" trilogy ("Hunger Games") had a really good idea, even though this was something that Susanne Collins can't be given the full credit for (in my opinion) because even if you take "Battle Royale" out of the equation there is also "Running Man" and "1984". This idea worked really well in the first book, but the second book (Catching Fire) feels like rehashing of the same story. Inventing the way to send Katniss and Peeta back into the Arena felt contrived and unexciting.

Plus there were a couple of points I found particular problematic: )

Overall, after two books I rate this series 7/10, mostly because the first book was really good. I am giving the series some time and may be everything will be explained in the book 3 and the love triangle will be resolved soon.

But I definitely don't understand why so many people are so in love with this series (I would really appreciate any explanations). WHY??????????

For me, the series feel like a patchwork with the best bits taken from various sources (for example, Rue's death scene brings Ophelia painting to my mind, etc.).

PS: Somehow reading "Catching Fire" made me appreciate "Harry Potter" much more. I think Harry Potter is a much better series, especially in the worldbuilding sense. You might see me eating my hat and admitting that may be I have always been a bit unfair to "Harry Potter". :D
alexandral: (Blade Runner - Do androids)
From [livejournal.com profile] sternflammenden: Five things associated with me:

Fantasy

I am more of a Science Fiction fan, but I also love Fantasy. There is something about the current decade: there isn't too much of new Science Fiction. Strange phenomena, but true. This decade seems to be The Decade of Fantasy Fiction. And I love it!

-House Greyjoy

I love an underdog in fiction. Take, for example, "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. I like Starks as much as any other person, but with Starks, there seems to be SO MANY people out there loving them, discussing every single aspect of their personalities in great detail. So by now I am, frankly speaking, a little bored.

The other problem with a popular House like Starks is that because it has so many followers, it inevitably eventually attracts the attention of two segments of fans whose opinions and posts I like the least of all : 1) posts trying to prove to me how various members of House of Starks are somehow morally superior to everyone else. 2) Posts describing to me in OTT graphic detail how the posters like to have sex with Robb Stark, with naming of the parts they feel the tingling in at the mentioning of his name. My sensibilities are too delicate for this. Plus Robb Stark is 14 in the books and 17-18 in the TV series.

Why am I talking about Starks? Off the high horse, and back to Greyjoys! What I notice is that I am always drawn to underdogs like Greyjoys in fiction, and particular, in fandom. For some reason, here in LJ , the fans of the House Greyjoy seem to be a jolly sane, non-judgmental, open-minded and happy bunch. And the same goes for Sansa/Sandor shippers, but this is definitely digressing. It must be the salt of Greyjoys. :D Back to Greyjoys, I love the opinions and the company of Greyjoy fans and this must add to my general interest in Greyjoys, the craziest (aka the most entertaining) House in "A Song of Ice and Fire" series.

Disclaimer: I am not saying that all posts of the House Stark fans are bad, it is just unfortunately in big fandom segments you are more likely to get someone who posts something crazy or OTT, and for some reason the fans that post crazy things seem to be the "loudest" (somehow the loudness seems to go hand-in-hand with craziness and OTT). But I do love my Starks too.

To show you all how serious I am about the House of Greyjoy, this is a sock I recently purchased for my Android phone:



Asian cinema

I have always been a fan of Asian cinema, but for someone who is not familiar with it I can say one thing of recommendation: Ladies and Gentlemen, Asian cinema is the place where everything is happening nowdays: new ideas, innovative graphics, fabulous actors. One statistical thing: I don't know a single re-make of a Western film in Asia (there must be some, but they are rare). On the other hand, there are so many remakes of Asian movies made in Hollywood that I can count you 10 without thinking hard. One of the re-makes, "The Departed", has even won an Oscar.

Technology

I tend to rattle about this: my job is related to Technology. I am a Systems Analyst which is just another name for the mind-boggling profession of Computer Programmer, or according to Urban Dictionary "Computer Programmer: a) An organism capable of converting caffeine into code. b) Semi-sentient being who inexplicably survives an extremely unhealthy lifestyle. Usually found in confined spaces with low lighting, at a computer terminal. C) This makes attracting females difficult, which can easily be fixed by meeting women through an online service."

I am an atypical programmer, though, because I: a) don't drink too much coffee. I like it, but it makes me too hyper so I don't drink it often, and if I do, I only like "proper" coffee! To clarify, Starbucks coffee is NOT "proper" coffee, and I am not even talking about instant coffee varieties. b) I try to maintain a semi-healthy lifestyle, exercising 2 times a week and trying to eat well, c) I AM a female.

Consequently, I have a loving relationship with technology in general. I am quite lazy by nature which stops me from buying too many new gadgets, but I am never afraid of computers/gadgets/new things and seem to be always capable of harnessing them, given enough time. All these things are my friends, unless they are made by Apple (in which case they are instruments of brainwashing). The only things I am less of a friend with are mechanical devices like printers, they are just less trust-worthy.

To add, my most notable achievement is that my 12-year old daughter still thinks I am cool.

Daughters

Daughters are GREAT. To tell you the truth, I didn't really enjoy giving birth, and neither did I really enjoy the baby period. But now, when my daughter is 12 and we can talk as equals? I am loving it! She is fabulous and cute and I love her so much I definitely know I will do anything for her.

I am in a real worry at the moment because my daughter has her first boyfriend. He seems to be nice but you know, I WORRY! What if he ends up hurting her?
alexandral: (Winnie-the-Pooh - scratching his ear)
I am living a pretty uninteresting life at the moment, much work is done and nothing else. Of interesting things, I have embarked on a full re-watch of "Jeeves and Wooster" with the family and so far this has been a great fun.



I am also listening to "Hunger Games" audiobooks. As expected, I love the series: it has lovely energetic writing, fabulous lead characters (especially Katniss), and is very comforting. After few months of "A Song of Ice and Fire" obsession it is nice to read something that is scarily realistic and tame at the same time. I am still in the middle of the first book of the series, but I have no fear. I am sure everything will be fine at the end, and Katniss and Peeta are going to get married and live happily ever after. I will be VERY surprised if this is not the case..

For the record, these are my predictions:
1. Katniss' sister and mother will die.
2. Gale will turn out to be evil
3. Katniss and Peeta will marry and have babies.

Among the interesting things in this series, I like the gender reversal with Peeta and Katniss where Katniss has traditionally more "male" role and Peeta has traditionally "female" role. Even the names sound in this way: if I didn't know who is who I would have thought Katniss is a boy name and Peeta is a girl name.

But!! (there is a BUT) From what I have heard of the series I was ready for something that heavily references "1984" and "The Running Man", but to add to this, the book seems to be very closely following Japanese novel "Battle Royale" (please see the picture below) . In fact, the resemblance is so noticeable that I had to Google the issue and to my disappointment discovered that Suzanne Collins maintains that she "had never heard of that book until [her] book was turned in,". Call me a cynic, I just can't believe it. "Battle Royale" was published in 1999, it has been adapted into a high-influence film ("Battle Royale") and manga of the same name, and Suzanne Collins (and her editors, etc.) have never heard of it?



PS: I am also finding out that there is a "Hunger Games" movie in making, with a 21-year old Blond actress playing Katniss. This sounds terrible!!!!!!!!
alexandral: (Rome - Pullo/Vorenus)
Listening to audiobooks is working GREAT for me. It has been literally decades since I did the same amount of reading! I finished 9 books of "Black Company" series by glen Cook in 2 months!! This is the answer to my less-than-perfect eyesight! It also seems to be the perfect answer to the boredom of commuting!

Black Company is a fantasy series by Glen Cook. I used to be very fond of the series when I was younger, but haven't finished it back then. This is a dark fantasy with some elements of military fiction. The series has very specific writing style, which I think one will love or hate: it is direct, choppy, gritty and no-nonsense. The story follows a military unit, "Black Company" and it's adventures in service to the various magic powers of that World.

What has always been my favourite thing about the series is the main "idea": "Nothing is Black and White. Everything is some shade of grey, and a person always has a choice." I also really like the writing style, which is somewhat unique and the main character, and the narrator of the first 4 books (and the last one), Croaker. He is not a good guy,and he is not a hero. His main appeal is that he never takes himself or others seriously and also his sarcastic attitude. His wit is extremely entertaining. As one of the other characters, the wizard called One Eye, commented : "Life wouldn't be half fun without you in it, Croaker. Watching you bumble through is an education in itself". And Croaker's unrequited love (well, things are more complicated than this) for the all-powerful sorceress named Lady, the ruler of that part of the World? Adorable.

The series have four narrators:

1. First 4 books ("The Black Company", "Shadows Linger", "The White Rose", "Shadow games"): Croaker, the Annalist and the Doctor, later the Captain of the Company.

Croaker , hands down, is my favourite narrator. He is witty, sarcastic, he doesn't tend to rattle about himself as much as the other narrators do, he is entertaining and philosophical. And the events of his books (happening first in the North, then in the South) seem to be the most interesting ones: some fabulous battles, some larger-than-life characters, all developed with good pace.

2. Book 5 ("Dreams of Steel") - Lady , The Captain of The Company

This book was a very interesting change of perspective, written by Lady, a powerful and very old sorceress. It made me chuckle and it made me cry. Lady is awesome and .. insane.

3. Books 6 and 7 ("Bleak Seasons" and "Soldiers sleep")- Murgen, the Annalist and the Standarbearer

I wish Murgen's books were never written. They are boring. Instead of the interesting things that are happening next to him he tends to go on and on about himself and his fiancée and their "epic" love. I never liked either of the two. Murgen is just boring and his books are long and confusing, plus the book 6 tells us about the events of the book 5 from a different perspective, which is a waste of time. The "love of his life" Sahra is too good to be true and uninteresting.
I wish Bleak Seasons" and "Soldiers sleep" were combined into one, much shorter book, or omitted completely.

4. Book 8 ("Water Sleeps") - Sleepy, The Captain of The Company (female)

I loved Sleepy. As far as leadership, planning and achieving success are concerned, she is the best Captain that we had in the series (4 Captains overall). She is efficient and strong, and a very non-cliché female character to the boot. I wish the writing of "Water Sleeps" was a bit tighter, but overall, I loved the book.

Book 9 ("Soldiers Live") - back to Croaker.

This is very strong ending to the series. Everything is explained, and all un-tied ends are secured. And Croaker is back as narrator! And Sleepy is one of the main characters!

Because I am more visual than wordy, I have collected some of the illustrations to "The Black Company":

One of my favourite illustration of Croaker, and something that conveys the spirit of the series. Croker in his "Widowmaker" costume, fighting:



Illustrations galore )
alexandral: (Pink Panther - Shocking)
Finally! I found a way to read more! Audiobooks! I used to read an awful lot when I was younger and my vision was better (my vision used to be perfect once). Now my vision is not perfect anymore and I find that reading anything after a day spent on computer (I work as a software programmer) makes my eyes terribly tired. I can only read in big volumes during holidays, when my eyes aren't strained as much.

I was unhappy with the fact that I don't read as much as I used to, and I think I finally found a solution - AUDIOBOOKS. I started listening to them when I drive (at least 1.5-2 hours a day), before going to bed and even sometimes when I work as I can easily multitask if I am not doing anything too difficult. I finished "A Dance with Dragons" and now I am quickly sailing through one of the series I liked when I was younger, "Black Company" (Glen Cook). I am almost at the end of the book 2, "Shadows Linger". Once I finish "Black Company", or at least get bored with it as I am told that the later books aren't all that good, I am going to properly listen to The Vorkosigan Saga. I have read several books from these series, but never the whole thing.

I FEEL SO LIBERATED.

I have also decided that I should watch at least 1 film per week, and won't allow myself to rely on TV series only. :D I started this week but I didn't have a particular good start:

Thor (2011)

Films like this are better watched in a movies theater, where any thoughts in your brain can be successfully blown away by fabulousness of CGI special effects. When watching at home, on your TV set, it is unlikely that you will be able to reach the stunned enough state to not notice the lack of everything else. Well, apart from the gratuitous shiftlessness and the extreme length of Chris Hemsworth's eyelashes. So, in short: Thor is made of : 3/4 of special effects, 1/12 of shirtlessness, 1/12 of Chris Hemsworth's eyelashes, and 1/12 of strange horned helmets that definitely must get in the way of lighting-striking as their horns are long enough to act as lightning rods.
Or, I have almost forgotten, the dialogue is really deep. Thor says "I will return" at least once.

Just because any post should include some positivity: Idris Elba in the strange horned helmet.



Not for the first time, IMDB's ratings are making me me raise my eyebrows (7.2 for Thor). The site is obviously populated by large numbers of people I don't see eye-to-eye with.
alexandral: (GoT - anim Tyrion I'll give you this)
"They'll prune you when you least expect it."


I am finally getting somewhere with the proper read of ADWD. I have done a spoilery read-though already but this is not the same. Actually, I cheated bit. I found my several attempts to get through the first 1/10 of the book to be a bit hard going, so I acquired an audio version for my Scotland travels and the audio version worked very well (now I know how all the names are supposed to be pronounced!). I am through the first 1/3!!!! Woo-hoo!

First, the unspoilery part:
I think Martin needs a strict editor or someone else to tell him “NO”. In the first third only, we had so much unnecessary stuff. I have roughly counted how many times chamber pots and people relieving themselves were mentioned, and the number is over 20. Martin seems to be drawn to certain things again and again, like already mentioned toilet habits of various people (especially Tyrion), and the same phrases seem to pop up again and again. But this is not the main problem. Martin seems to like to list things and people, to the point of new information overload. We are given lists of everyone: wildlings, people in White Harbor (Wyman Manderly court), people asking for Dany’s counsel at the court in Meereen (exacerbated by strange names) , etc, etc. The problem is that there are two options here: either Martin is going to provide future storylines for all these people (please, no!), or why do we have to be given the names and descriptions of people we will never meet again?

But, this all said, A Dance with Dragons might even become one of my favourite books in A Song of Ice and Fire series, because there is so much mind-blowing good things there too.



The spoilery part,combined by POV chapters: )
alexandral: (Outpost - DC)
OMPH! I have been alerted by always knowledgeable [livejournal.com profile] trailer_spot : The Three Musketeers are coming! In 3D!! With Ray Stevenson as Portos , Matthew Macfadyen as Atos and Luke Evans as Aramis! and Milla Jovovich as Milady!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort! For some strange and hard to fathom reason Dumas' books are not as popular in the UK as they are in Russia, but I must say that for me personally he is the number 1 as far as historical literature ( with some free interpretation of history ) is concerned. And The Three Musketeers trilogy is his best, I red and re-red these books so many times as a child. Hopefully there will be new editions of the English translation soon (this usually happens when new film adaptations are released) so that I can push it to my daughter - 12 years was the first time I read the books myself.

The trailer:



PS: this adaptation's D'Artagnan is a cutie.

Pictures )
alexandral: (Sita sings the blues - Reading and cat)


Although I have always loved Boris Akunin’s books set in 19th century (about Erast Fandorin and Pelageya) , I haven’t been too much in love with his modern day stories (Altyn Tolobas and Extracurricular Reading) about Erast Fandorin’s grandson, Nicholas. I liked both books just fine, but not terribly so. But this was before I have read an amazing homage to Dostoyevsky’s "Crime and punishment", "F.M." F.M. stands for the first two initials of Dostoyevsky’s name : Fedor Michailovich, but also is an abbreviation of many other things too, for example, Fata Morgana.

The story is as follows: Nicholas Fandorin (a private investigator in present-day Russia and a grandson of Erast Fandorin) is looking for a stolen manuscript of a lost novel by Dostoyevsky, which happens to be an alternative version of “Crime and Punishment”, told from the perspective of Porfiry Petrovich.

The book is pure love and hilarity:
1. Apparently it was conceived as a joke poking fun at Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code".
2. I always liked Porfiry Petrovich and it was nice to see him to be finally vindicated.
3. There are various other interesting characters involved, for example, Little Red Riding Hood, Inuyasha.
4. The book is seriously funny, in a dark way.
5. The book mentions Boris Grebenshikov’s song, Dostoyevsky: Dostoyevsky song on Youtube, accompanied by a fabulous collection of photographs of Dostoyevsky himself and also some otherachive photographs picturing the old city Omsk (the place where I was born and where Dostoyevsky was kept in prison for several years :D) )
alexandral: (Harry Potter - Sirius)
My life seems to be in a craziest stage since the time of my long-forgotten youth: work is madly busy, Zend PHP certification exam is approaching too fast (6th of December), I need to write two assignments for the Leadership and Management course (which culminated on 19th of November in consolidation day and my team's win!) by the December 18th, on which day I am flying off to Moscow. Oh, also lately I went to few one-day conferences and as a result London is practically making me sick, especially considering that one of the conferences happened on the day of the Tube Strike. I still hold on tightly to my usual optimistic POV, but only just. If I don't go prematurely all gray, I am due for two Christmas weeks of ice sculptures, ice skating and pancakes in Moscow.

In good news, I finally nailed salchow (A move in figure skating in which the skater jumps from one skate, completes a full rotation, and lands on the other skate) and tea-pot move and completely completed my silver NISA (National Ice Skating Association) level!

I am not even watching anything!!! Well, may be "Lost Girl" and "Gloria", but this is ALL. "Gloria" is safely helping me through this crazy real life spell.



My daughter made me go and watch "Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows 1", which overall was a pleasant surprise. Of course, I am still the same old nay-sayer that is not overly excited by Harry Potter in any shape or form , plus I have a confession to make: I find grown-up Daniel Radcliffe to be somewhat on the creepy side. Where has the pretty boy gone? BUT! To be fair, "Deathly Hallows" was much much better film than the two previous ones. There was enough time given to beautiful landscape shots, there was enough time for characters to talk to each other, and there was enough time devoted to Dobby's death (more time than to Dumbledore's death, actually) and Ron's jokes. Some other excellent things included Ron himself, Hermione in a red dress and Luna's father. Oh, if there are any Hermione/Harry shippers left (although I am not one of them) : I thought "Deathly Hallows number 1" was a really shippy film.

In short, I enjoyed the film, enough to give it 6.5 out of 10 and we had a nice time afterward in Pizza Hut. It took a lot of explaining for my daughter and her friends to understand what the Horcruxes are, though. I blame it on the scrambled-up previous film.

Some more film stills )

PS: Oh where ebooks_crack has gone????????????? I am so very upset!!!
alexandral: (True Blood - Pam)
My huge apologies! It always happens to me that after a LJ break I find myself a little slow to get into the habit of posting and commenting again. However, I must start posting regularly again, because my head is full of unexpressed thoughts and opinions (to the point of bursting), hence I have many many fragmented things to say:

1.“Black Dagger Brotherhood” book series (by J.R Ward): I am still obsessed, mostly with the relationship between Qhuinn and Blay . The series have many interesting characters and I am in love with at least 70% of them but Blay and Qhuinn are my favourites. If someone told me a month ago that I will be obsessing over a relationship between two men so much, I would have not believed it. But I guess relationships between two best friends growing into something romantic have always been my thing. I also like vampire fiction. Plus I adore "opposites attract" cliche , and besides, I do love characters with major parental issues and self-destructive behaviour (like Qhuinn) . As a rule, I also adore true-to-the-bone nice guys like Blay.

And the fact that one of the pair (Qhuinn) is totally in denial about the nature of their relationship makes it all even better. To add, there is a genuine obstacle in the way, which is always a huge plus for me (so often romantic pairing obstacles are just invented willy-nilly), as coming out is not an easy thing to do, especially for someone in a rigid “vampire aristocracy” society. Still – I need to find something to move on to, otherwise I will spontaneously combust. The new book in the series is out in April/May 2011- obsessing for 8 months is not healthy!

2.Asian drama recs request: I need to move on to something nice and obsessive-feelings inducing. Ignoring the “Bad Guy” ending disaster, I would love some new Asian drama recommendations. ** puppy eyes ** What is making you obsessed nowdays, ladies and gentlemen?????? Please recommend? I need it!

3.Swimming: I am getting old and my bones are achy, it is true, but I have started swimming!!! Leeds Uni have opened a new shiny swimming pool right next to us and I have been swimming few times already! This is going to be a good addition to my weekly ice-skating sessions. The swimming pool:


4.Broadband Support terror: But the longer I live, the clearer I realise that I do not like talking to Broadband Support People. I get annoyed terribly every time I have to talk to them (is it their patronizing tone? Is it their total lack of any knowledge of what they are supposed to be supporting? ) Our home Broadband was down yesterday, both the Modem and the Wireless Router. I have spent 2 hours on the phone, the time that I am never going to get back, talking to various people... As the result of 2 HOURS OF MY TIME: by 22.00 the modem was fixed but the Router was still not working. At the end, I got too annoyed for words, Googled the Router myself and fixed it. There are three professions in this world that I dislike intensely:

- Parking wardens
- Broadband support
** Disclaimer: I am not really serious, I am sure there are plenty of good folks in these jobs. In fact, one of the guys I spoke to yesterday (the one that fixed the modem) was good.

5.Supernatural season 5 : I am breezing through this show. I am deep in the season 5 now and I find myself liking it. Well, one has to admit that “Supernatural” has a big problem with description of women, as in “Women? Who needs women? What women? Do they even exist? They all are demons!” sense, but still, even though the season 4 was quite useless the season 5 is rather very good so far! Apocalypse! Lucifer walks the Earth! Castiel is great! I wanna see Michael too!

6.True Blood 5.08 - more Eric last week! YUM YUM YUM.

7.I am in a huge Bob Marley moment. I have always loved his music and I periodically go through Bob Marley periods. My favourite song of the moment is “Redemption Song”. Just love it, can’t get enough of "Old pirates, yes they rob I, Sold I to the merchant ships" and "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery". "Burnin’ and Lootin’" and "No woman , no cry" have been my absolute favourites before, but it is time for "Redemption Song". Redemption Song, Youtube clip )
alexandral: (True blood - she was sure)
I have missed you all so so much, please let me know of any major news! My belated birthday wishes to the fantabulous [livejournal.com profile] baleanoptera!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Holiday rep:
The holidays were wonderful. Scottish West coast is one of most gorgeous places on Earth. We had wonderful time with our small family and my daughter’s friend: swam in the sea, did long beach walks, biking and even mountain ball rolling. The girls made us play scrabble during the evening , but I had some time to red as well.

Books:

Kresley Cole, Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, Book 1) - This was absolute rubbish, not even worthy of the paper it was printed on. I haven’t really “read” it as much as I quickly looked through it (and put it promptly in the bin).

Peter F. Hamilton, The Dreaming Void (Void Trilogy) – I liked this one, it was just the kind of mind-bending sci-fi that I tend to like. The only minus is that the book was too huge. I think everything could have been much better if one half of the characters was omitted. I really want to finish reading this trilogy and want to know what happens at the end, but the prospects of reading two more books of this size are daunting.

William Gibson, Neuromancer – great book, true classic. I need to do a proper post on this, if I start talking now I might end up talking too much. :D

J.R. Ward, Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series) – I have promptly gotten myself ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY obsessed with these series. I am still reading through the books properly (book 4 at the moment), but I have read in quick-and-spoilery manner through all 8. And the last one, “Lover Mine” is the best so far. I am obsessed. I can’t say that the series are good and it edges precariously between romance, vampire fiction and porn, but it has done something to my “emotional” side that not many books do.
Plus the vampire world-building part is really quite neat and there are plenty of strong female characters.

“Black Dagger Brotherhood Series” even has got me on board with gay romances. Right. This was something I thought would never interest me, but as always – “never say never” and Blay/Qhuinn (from the last 3-4 books of the series, and "Lover Mine" in particular) is my pairing of this summer, and may be of this year. And may be one of my favourite pairings ever. If they don’t end up together, I am going to hunt the author down. Seriously.

Iain M. Banks “Use of Weapons” – I have finished this on holidays. I love Iain M. Banks and this was the best book in the “Culture” series so far. Really strong , stone-in-your-heart , invade-your-mind, change-your-views kind of book. I was spoiled for the ending (I always spoil myself) but I think I would have guessed the ending anyways.

The result: 7 books in 14 days? This made me happier than anything else, for years it have been bothering me that I can’t read in English as fast as I do in Russian. It seems I am getting better.

TV
Vampire diaries: There were some really good recs on my friends list for this show, so I went ahead and marathoned it last week. And I am glad that I trusted the recs as this series , even though it starts truly badly, ends up to be really quite good , world-building-strong, Angel-like assembly cast show. If you are willing to ignore Stefan/Elena boring romance, that is. Personally, I promptly closed my eyes and had regular naps during Stefan/Elena scenes, and luckily, towards the end there are less and less of these. The guy is ugly and self-righteous and .. boring. Elena is interesting when she is not with Stefan. Stefan’s brother Damon is, of course, the main attraction of the show, and I think the creators realised this truth towards the end. The guy is delicious.

And then there are Bonnie, Caroline/Matt,Tyler and Jeremy , who was my daughter’s favourite. And aunties and uncles and all other interesting characters.

Supernatural: I am ploughing though the season 4 and although I frequently want to ask “What?” types of questions, I think my interest in Castiel is strong enough for me to keep going.

True Blood: I am up to speed with this, still - not really enough Eric. :D
alexandral: (Sita sings the blues - Reading and cat)
Woo-hoo! We are going on holidays next week, like it often happens in our family, this is a last-minute booking and we are going to Scotland,Kirkcudbrightshire,Dalbeattie! The place seems to be handy for exploring Scotland and Lake district; we are taking Sasha's friend with us and Sky-the-dog!

I have found a lovely old photo of Dalbeattie:






I am taking following books:
1. Kresley Cole, Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, Book 1)
2. Peter F. Hamilton, The Dreaming Void (Void Trilogy)
3. William Gibson, Neuromancer
4. J.R. Ward, Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series)

But any last minute you-must-read-this-book recommendations are welcome.

PS: We have also booked plane tickets to go to Moscow during 2010/2011 winter holidays!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!
alexandral: (Harry Potter - Ron Quidditch)
Half-term school holidays are over!! I am back in the land of living or "less of real life, more of virtual".

My daughter and I had:
- 2 swimming pool trips,
- one shopping trip ,
- two sleepovers,
- I passed bronze level in ice-skating. I can have an ice-skating passport now! woo-hoo!
- My daughter's fishtank is set up. It looks great now! And only one fish has died (so far)!

Harry Potter
I had a week of holidays and finally I have done something I wanted to do for ages - caught up on reading Harry Porter books and watching Harry Potter films (I have only seen two of the films before and once half-heartedly attempted to start the first book). I quite like both. The books are quite pleasant and have some lovely secondary characters and details but there is nothing special or outstanding in the writing or original in the story. But I am quite sure that if I had a chance to start reading the books when I was twelve and never heard about the hype surrounding them I might have been hooked.

The films definitely get better as they go. In the first film the children-actors' acting is quite a bit on a wooden side but this improves in the later films. The special effects continue to improve too.

On the whole - the big popularity of the series is still a mystery to me.
alexandral: (Three Colours Red - fraternity)
You know, I love vampire stories. When I saw "Fevre Dream" by George R. R. Martin whilst looking for a book to read on the train to the UK Oracle User Group convention on Friday I immediately snaffled it. I was a bit apprehensive because I like "A song of Ice and Fire" so much but there are not many things as overdone as Southern Vampire Genre.

I loved "Fevre Dream", I am so affected by it now. It is not letting me go. The best book in years about slavery and the best book about friendship for me. And the best book about Vampires. I wish someone makes a film from this book one day, with all the steamboats and great Mississippi river.



Has anyone else read it? This is the Amazon link

And EEEEE! A Dance with Dragons is going to be released on the 6th of April in the UK . It is quite soon, isn't it????
alexandral: (Vampire Knight - Kaname)
Charlaine Harris' "Southern Vampire" series consists of 8 books so far, starting with "Dead Until Dark". If you like your books well-written, please give this one a miss. I thought the herouine could have been Mary Sue to the extreme, but to be fair at least the books had a slightly contrived explanation for why every person of every gender falls in love with her (she is a supernatural being herself). The thing I liked the least was the very poor quality of writing. The worst book of the series for me was "Dead as a Doornail" because I had to read it in atrocious translation onto Russian which made even Harris' dialogue look supper-intelligent.
However I galloped through the books in two long nights because I loved the character of Eric who is their redeeming feature (and such a good one too!). ERIC ERIC ERIC ERIC ERIC ERIC ERIC. Sometimes I fall in love with a character in a book which I don't even like and this can change my perception of the book in some instances...

The vampire genre seems to bring the worst out of the writers. I am a huge fan of it but there are only few books about vampires (or containing vampires) that I thought were good (in no order, I feel there must be more but I can't rememebr any):

1. Dresden Files Series. This is not about vampires only, but about all things supernatural and the main hero is a wizard residing in Chicago. I would recommend these books for the many characteristics of good serial fiction : strong world building, humour, numerous characters you will care for (including vampires). Jim Butcher has a way with words and writes great fun: wars between wizards and vampires, fairy queens , fallen angels, demons, named swords... everything.

2. Vampire Knight. This is series of Japanese manga (graphic novels) and anime. Very much young-adult oriented series but your inner teen may like it too. The main herouine Yuuki is lovely. For one thing, I understand why the two main guys are in love with her: she is brave, loyal and ready to do anything for her friends. The series is a well-done gothic take on teenage sexuality.

3.Aleksey Tolstoy, "Upir". Upir is the old Slavonic word for a vampire. This is series of short stories which was the beginning of my interest to vampires. It is a great one for the lovers of folklore and extremely scary.



True Blood : The pilot episode of this HBO series based on Charlaine Harris "Southern Vampire" series could be found in some places. Somehow, though the events seem to be the same as in "Dead Until Dark", the TV episode gave me a totally different feel. I liked the pilot of "True Blood" (considering this is the worst title of all times) and I thought it was more of "my thing" than the books.

But it seems that quite a big part of the dialogue has been changed (for the best!) and Anne Paguin plays a much deeper character than Sookie-of-the-book is. I am looking forward to the continuation of the series in September.

But - OH HORROR! I looked and looked in the character lists but I could not find Eric. Why???? He is not there? He is not among mains characters in the first book but he is quite essential even there! ** rants **
alexandral: (Default)
Happy birthday dear [livejournal.com profile] queenofthorns and [livejournal.com profile] jenlev!!! ** squishes and throws confetti ** I wish you happiest of birthdays! Two of most awesome ladies being born on the same day - this must be a very special day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wish I could teleport this to you!! )

London sitrep
It was a glorious trip and the Oracle User Group was very informative. I have many things to share, but I must save them for the time when I am less tired and brain-exhausted. Just a couple of things (that will not wait until tomorrow).

1) There was an earthquake in Yorkshire AND I WASN'T THERE! I have never have been in an earthquake and whilst I am not saying that I wish to experience a BIG earthquake (and neither I wish it upon anyone else) it could be interesting to experience a little tiny one?

2) I have properly started "The Game of Kings" by Dorothy Dunnett.

- ** sigh ** Well, I have been living in the UK a while and I have become better with my English over the years and people I meet for the first time don't ask me to repeat my phrases anymore. And I even read with a considerably good speed. But then a book comes along and whilst I LIKE IT and find it's style worthy of an immediate notice I don't seem to be familiar with a good half of the worlds on EVERY SINGLE PAGE of it. And this is intensified by the fact that I don't know English history well enough to recognize any of the historical names in the book. ** weeps ** OK, I like a challenge and I am sure if this doesn't kill me it will make my English better, but is it worthy of getting myself into 6 books 500 pages each? (I apologise for blurting this all out)

- Will Lymond get a nice OTP?

- I spoiled myself for the end of the book - Richard/Lymond and Richard/Mariotta, I just love it.
alexandral: (Photos - Autumn- Smiling Wolf)
I have finished reading this in a very speedy manner and I really liked the sequels at the end. I liked the two last books even more than the first one – because I found an idea I can relate to and at the end it was a book that made me think rather than just a lovely written teenager romance story (but it is very lovely written!) Now I can re-read all this properly. :D I wanted to think more before I do a post about these books but thoughts keep going round and round in my head.



I can see very well why these series are so popular – I am not a teenager (far from it!) but the books made me feel as if I am. :D I get this sometimes with some books - they make me fall in love with the characters and imagine that I am there, in the book. I really value when this happens and it is such an intangible feeling. When this happens I usually stop thinking rationally and forget about any existing flaws. :D

I had a quick check on "Twilight" communities and I think I am in the minority on the way I see the story.. :D

My thoughts on the Twilight series so far )

Twilight

Oct. 25th, 2007 11:13 pm
alexandral: (Photo - Food - Cake!!!!!!)
I loved this book. My head is quite light from reading for few hours straight and finishing it in one day but it was so great to have this book-reading binge (and compliment it with a stack of chocolate eclairs) ! YAY holidays! I guess I am still pretty much in love with vampire stories, [livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore! "Twilight" is just another prove that a "beauty and the beast" type of stories is my complete weakness.. Especially whenspoiler ) ** sigh **

This book was totally worthy a strange look I got from a "Waterstones"'s book shop assistant when my daughter and I were buying it (and another book, of course, for her - "The Wind in the Willows" :D). The guy was so clearly calculating in his mind - "HMM, you look a bit too old for this, lady, and your daughter looks too young!." HE-HE!!!!!!

Now, would he remember me tomorrow when I roll in to get the sequels for "Twilight"? I am so tempted to do this as they have "buy one get another half price" sale on children's books (where "Twilight" was surprisingly categorised) and I don't want to wait for these books to be delivered from Amazon..

Just a couple of quick questions:

- Not spoilery: Are the sequels worthy of getting a strange look from the shop assistant again? Are they any good?

- Spoilery )

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January 2012

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