Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Fine Bottle of Brandy

The sea seemed to dance to the voices of the wind. The waves rose and fell, clashed into each other with tumultuous laughter. It was hard to make out the little boat caught in this celebration of elements. It rocked dangerously but the man inside didn't seem to notice or to care. He had lost his paddles and sat in the middle of the boat, seemingly unnerved. It was only a small fisher's boat he was in and it seemed even smaller when compared to the endless sea around him.


John looked up to the sky and laughed. He had never seen the sky like this. It was dark, with here and there a light gleam breaking through the dark clouds. He knew it wasn't night yet, but he felt surrounded by an impossible darkness. He looked at his useless legs. He didn't even recognize them as being real legs. For why would he call them legs if they did not do what legs do: walk? He took another swig from the brandy bottle.

Suddenly a large wave overtook the boat. For a short moment that seemed so much longer, the boat had gone. When it resurfaced John was gone. Had he been swallowed by the gorging water? Suddenly a hand surfaced that grabbed onto the reel of the boat. For a moment it seemed that the boat would capsize but Fate seemed to pity John and the waves became calmer. John's head emerged from the black sea and he gasped. His other hand found it's way to the surface, still firmly gripping the brandy bottle.
'Damn it, that's one fine bottle of brandy ruined!'

Friday, 24 February 2012

Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read!

IMAG0004.jpgActivity!!! Take a picture or describe where you love to read the most...


I absolutely love reading outside. The best thing to do is read outside, in the garden, with a nice view in case you accidentally look up from your book, and have the sun in your back. So yeah, that is where I like to read. It's a bit public though, I always feel like people could be looking at me reading, which freaks me out. That's why I often read in my room, on my bed. Another good thing about that is that I can grab books immediately and don't  have to walk upstairs to get it. 

Book Beginnings is hosted by A Few More Pages and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

This week I chose 'The English Novel: An introduction' by Tery Eagleton. I know, not a very catchy read, but I want to read English at uni, so I'm preparing myself. 

Because the first sentence is boring, I will use one form the introduction. Book Beginning:
'The novel is the mythology of a civilization fascinated by its own everyday existence. It is neither behind or ahead of time, but abreast of them. It reflects them without morbid nostalgia or delusory hope.'

How smart does that sound?

Friday 56
'A classical education was also a moral one, fit for building character ad producing the administrators of empire. These men had studied the classics at school and university, and thus were deemed well-equipped for, say, bloodily suppressing those in India or the Caribbean who posed a threat to British imperial interest. Classics made a man out of you, whereas the novel  had a distressing knack of turning men into old women. '

Hm, apparently I am an man now. Thanks Eagleton.

What happened the last couple of weeks:
Don't hesitate to leave your link below, I'll visit! 

Friday Night Date Night


Friday Night Date Night is a feature hosted by The Garden of Books that showcases movie review (mostly movies that were adapted from books). This week I watched 'Sleeping Beauty' with Emily Browning. It's not adapted form a book, but obviously linked to the fairy tale 'Sleeping Beauty'.

Let me just tell you, it is a very strange movie. There is a lot of nudity and sex in it, but I do like the story. It is about Lucy, whose life seems to be a chaos. She has 2 jobs, is about to get kicked out of her apartment and her best and only friend is sick. She applies for a new job, which starts of with serving food in her underwear. In a way, there is not a real beginning or end to the movie. 


Emily Browning is amazing as Lucy, she just amazed me. I could never act the way she does in this movie, especially with the high amount of nudity. Rachael Blake is also brilliant as Clara, Lucy's boss. I really liked the cinematography. There were long scenes, continuous shots and this made the movie very calm and serene. That made it easier to watch the sometimes difficult scenes. 



So, if you are not afraid of a movie that is a bit challenging, than you should definitely check this movie out! Don't hesitate to leave a link to your FNDN post in the comments!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Play It Again

Some of you may remember I reviewed 'My Mother the Man-Eater' by Tracy Krauss and I am very happy to tell you that TODAY another book of hers is launched and there are all sorts of goodies and freebies involved! Not only would you get an amazing book and freebies, you could also help Tracy achieve a 'bestseller' status on Amazon!! It's win-win!




Here’s how:
1. Go to the Landing Page on Tracy’s Website
2. Buy the book at amazon.
3. Go back to the Landing Page and fill in the form with your name, email and purchase number
It’s that easy! You’ll be directed to your free gifts and all you have to do is choose which ones you want. 



An unlikely duo meet in Play It Again, a story of love, life and faith. Sparks fly when an ex-rock and roll junkie and a stuffy accountant rendezvous at a local resort, but neither are prepared for the emotional entanglements, family complications, and threat from the past that unexpectedly resurfaces. Set in the 1980s, this story brings two opposing forces together in a clash of romance and danger, while its musical undertones highlight the theme that God can turn anything into beautiful music. Play It Again is the much anticipated prequel to Tracy’s debut novel And the Beat Goes On. Find out where Mark Graham’s journey began in this, the story of his parents. 
Not only does it sound good, it's got some great reviews already:


This is one of the best contemporary novels I've read all year. . . Not only was it well-written, but it was edgy in that the story dared to be honest. . . I can see this touching a lot of people who have thought about God but have been afraid to move forward.”
-  Michelle Sutton, author of more than a dozen inspirational novels

“This book is hot property, and grabs your interest from page one.”
-   Yvonne Pat Wright, author of From Spice to Eternity


And here is just s sample of the amazing free stuff you might get:
-          An e-copy of Lisa Lickel’s award winning novel Meander Scar
-          Sample chapters from The Promise of Deer Run by Elaine Cooper, Warring Spirits by April Gardner, and The Right Person by Stacy Padula
-          Beautiful downloadable art cards by author and artist Brenda Hendricks
-          A free subscription to ‘PixApple’
-          You copy of Frazzled No More by Shelley Hitz
-          A cool ‘Daily Scheduler’ developed by author Janalyn Voigt
-          And much more!

All if you buy your copy of
PLAY IT AGAIN at amazon.com on Feb. 21!  All links will be operational on the ‘Landing Page’ at www.tracykrauss.com/ 



DISCLAIMER: 
This ‘Best Seller book launch’ has been coordinated with the help of the ‘John 3:16 Marketing Network’ and many other generous supporters. The free gifts are deliverable electronically over the internet or by email by individual authors and supporters. They are not in any way associated with, nor deliverable by, amazon.com  


So, what do you think? Sounds good, no? 



Thursday, 9 February 2012

Review: 'Tears for Requiem' by Daniel Arenson

This second part of the 'Song of Dragons' trilogy, 'Tears of Requiem', is a perfect sequel to 'Blood of Requiem'.  First, a summary: 


The nightshades cover the land. Demons of smoke and shadow, they fear no sword or arrow. They suck the souls from all who live, like a glutton sucking marrow from bones. The world falls under their darkness.
But the nightshades crave more than random ruin. The souls of mere humans will not sate them. They seek dragons.
Requiem's last dragons, a mere scattering of survivors, have fought off men and griffins. But how can they fight the nightshades, creatures they cannot cut or burn?



I absolutely loved the first book, because it was one of the most original dragon stories I have ever read and when it ended I felt there was so much more to tell. 'Tears of Requiem' picks up right where 'Blood of Requiem' left of, which meant I was immediately sucked back into the story. Kyrie is on the run with the last remaining Vir Requis: Benedictus, his wife Lacrimosa and their daughter Agnus Dei. Gloriae, the daughter who was stolen by Dies Irae, has released the nightshades, who are ravaging the kingdom and killing its inhabitants. These Nightshades were a brilliant addition to the story because they are genuinely terrifying. Especially the effect they have on Gloriae and, later on, on Dies Irae leaves a lasting impression. Thankfully, this book has the right mix between action and context. There are impressive fight scenes in which full use is made of the fact that the main characters are dragons. And there is still time for the characters to develop.


What I think is great in the story is that the Vir Requis aren't out for revenge per se, they want to rebuild their own home, Requiem. It is very much a battle for equality and acceptance and this is perhaps best represented in Gloriae. In this book she finally has to face up to who she is and what she has done. Because Arenson has chosen to write each chapter from another perspective we also get to see how thoughts and actions are opposed. Kyrie is an adorable character that I think everyone could identify with. He is full of life and  need for adventure, yet he is also loyal and honest. His relationship with Agnus Dei is therefor not a big surprise. She is my absolute favourite character. At times she is filled with anger and loss and at other times she can be caring and forgiving. Daniel has achieved what I see as crucial to a book: real characters. They are not stereotypes, they have human traits and arguments and are, at times, despicable. Even Dies Irae seems to have a more humane side and we learn more and more about him throughout the book.


Again, I absolutely loved Daniel's description of the characters' surroundings. Especially when the Vir Requis travel in the hope of finding a way of battling the Nightshades we get to see a wide variety of landscapes. What this adds to the story is that we are able to place the characters somewhere, instead of having them floating around in a nothing inside our minds. I also made an incredible discovery. Incredibly stupid perhaps, because I cannot believe I didn't notice it earlier. I already mentioned that each of them have Latin names, but now I was accidentally listening to Mozart's Requiem while reading the book and I noticed that almost all of the characters have names linked to songs from there, except Gloriae. So I had another listen and to my surprise found that the characters respond very well to the music. I love having a soundtrack to a book, so it seems I have found mine. 


In short, this book is bound to have you on the edge of your seat. The story line offers both tearjerkers and action-packed chases. Daniel again achieves writing a beautifully human story, set in fascinating fantasy landscape.


I give this book...

4 UNIVERSES!


So, what do you think?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Review: 'Written in the Ashes' by K. Hollan van Zandt

This book was sent to me by Kaia's publicist and I absolutely loved it. And there is something else that got me excited: this book has been optioned for a TV mini-series by Academy Award-winning producer Mark Harris (Crash 2005). I cannot wait to see this beautiful story on my TV. Here's a quick summary first:

When the Roman Empire collapses in the 5th century, the city of Alexandria, Egypt is plagued with unrest. Paganism is declared punishable by death and the populace splinters in religious upheaval. Hannah, a beautiful Jewish shepherd girl is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai and sold as a slave in Alexandria to Alizar, an alchemist and successful vintner. Her rapturous singing voice destines her to become the most celebrated bard in the Great Library. 
Meanwhile, the city’s bishop, Cyril, rises in power as his priests roam the streets persecuting the pagans.  But while most citizens submit, a small resistance fights for justice. Hypatia, the library’s charismatic headmistress, summons her allies to protect the world’s knowledge from the escalating violence. Risking his life, his family, and his hard-earned fortune, Alizar leads the conspiracy by secretly copying the library’s treasured manuscripts and smuggling them to safety.  

When Hannah becomes the bishop’s target, she is sequestered across the harbor in the Temple of Isis.  But an ancient ceremonial rite between a monk and priestess inside the Pharos lighthouse ignites a forbidden passion. Torn between the men she loves, Hannah must undertake a quest to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra to find the one thing powerful enough to protect the pagans: The Emerald Tablet. Meanwhile, the Christians siege the city, exile the Jews, and fight the dwindling pagan resistance as the Great Library crumbles. But not everything is lost. . .

As I said above, I absolutely adored this book. Once I started this book I worked my way through it in 2 days. And when I say work, I mean it was a perfect read. We are first introduced to Hannah when she is travelling across the Sinai with her father. Immediately I saw how deeply culture and tradition are embedded in this story. The relationship between Hannah and her father is not only important to Hannah but also becomes important to the reader because it forms the motivation for many of her actions. And then we are introduced to Hypatia, shortly in the beginning but truly in the middle.

Hypatia is a spectacular character. Historically she is an absolute inspiration and I am surprised she is so rarely featured in historical novels. Perhaps because smart women rarely feature, but Kaia's book has plenty of those. What is special about this book is that it confront you with 2-D characters. There are no black-and-white characters and everyone is presented in a human way. Hypatia has her weak moments and self doubt, but this is what makes the characters believable. It is clear that a lot of research has gone into this book, which is perhaps most beautifully expressed in the description of the Library of Alexandria. I only wish I could time travel and visit that beautiful place.

Another amazing description is that of Pharos and the Temple of Isis. Forming a contrast to the hectic happenings in Alexandria, it's a time to breathe for the reader and Hannah and another opportunity to see a different side of Egypt, the mystical side. I really enjoyed this part of the book as the preparation for the ceremonial rite is fascinating, as is the actual rite itself. I especially liked how the journey to Delphi is described. I went there as a child and have been fascinated with Greek mythology ever since. I think every book that has a reference to the Oracle is simply magnificent. 

Next to a beautiful story, the book also shows respect for the time in which the story is set. As a historical fiction novel it is one of the best I have read in a long time. The conflict between the Christians and the Jews and the awful conclusion to that are described with respect and very beautifully, with attention to the human suffering on both sides. It also highlights slavery throughout the novel as Hannah keeps on facing prejudice and also feels restricted by her position, even if those closest to her don't treat her as a slave. 

Kaia has truly achieved creating a story that is both captivating and interesting. With beautiful attention to detail and tradition, it is bound to ensnare every reader. Hannah is a strong lead character that does not bore and especially the characters of Alizar and Hypatia form a great set of realistic characters. There are may touching moments  and the description of landscape is bound to make a reader's imagination take flight. 

I give this book...
4 UNIVERSES!!!

So, what do you think? Does this sound like a book for you? 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

FREE Two Days Only: A Vampire Novel with Actual Bite!


As the modern world establishes itself and pushes the supernatural into the shadows, the supernatural fights back.
The Darkening Dream is a chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, that has received rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and is FREE for two days only on Amazon Kindle (February 7th to 8th)! Download your FREE copy here: http://amzn.to/yTvZPG

Long-time readers of dark historical fantasy (Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kurtz) will appreciate the weaving together of mythology, occult, and religion, while younger readers and fans of HBO dramas (True Blood, Carnivàle) or urban fantasy (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher) will be drawn to the twisted imagination, graphic action, and romantic tension.

About The Darkening Dream
Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?

No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be her very soul.

The Reviews Are In
"A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews

"Mr. Gavin has brought something refreshingly new to a genre now suffused with poorly-concealed bodice-rippers which have more in common with Fabio than Bram Stoker: depth. His big baddies are scary, not romantic interests, and the added religious lore is complex and engaging. Don't expect another Twilight -- the story can get downright creepy, so be prepared for a return to the old horror sensibilities of supernatural fiction." ~Amazon Review

"With Mr. Gavin's video-game pedigree, I was expecting something aimed squarely at the 18-25 year old fanboy contingent; what I got in The Darkening Dream was something wholly unexpected: A period novel with a female protagonist, a crash-course on Judaism in the colonial years, and multi-layered series of plot arcs featuring a crazy cast of natural and supernatural characters populating 18th Century Colonial America." ~Amazon Review

"…A perfect blend of mystery, magic and myth. A grown-up Grimm's fairy tale...emphasis on grim." ~Amazon Review

Read the first two sample chapters here >> http://bit.ly/xXVxXS

Get your FREE copy of The Darkening Dream for two days only on Amazon here.


No eReader or Kindle? No problem. Get free apps for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android Phone.

Friday, 3 February 2012

February Friday


Gain New Blog Followers

It's Friday and it's snowing in many parts of Europe, but not here. It is freezing, but the sun is shining.

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read.

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


My favourite books are all fiction (I know, big surprise there) and I think most of them are pretty strong on plot and description. Look at a book like 'The Shadow of the Wind'. It is terribly plot-driven, there are always new story lines and everything somehow comes together in the end in a baffling conclusion. I also absolutely fell in love with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Barcelona and I will most likely be slightly disappointed when I go there this summer. Yes, I forced my friends into going to Barcelona with me so I can run through Barcelona, trying to find a bookstore that looks like 'Sempere & Sons'. 
Today I chose D.H. Lawrence's 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' to do Book Beginnings and Friday 56.

Book Beginnings is hosted by A Few More Pages. 

'Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacle. We've got to live, no matter how many skies fall.'
That sounds really good if you ask me. Slightly tragic and deep, but I like a philosophic beginning.

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

'Their eyes met. His had a cold, ugly look of dislike and contempt, and indifference to what would happen. Hers were hot with rebuff. But her heart sank, she saw how utterly he disliked her, when she went against him. And she saw him in a sort of desperation. 'Good afternoon!''Afternoon, my Lady!' He saluted and turned abruptly away. She had wakened the sleeping dogs of old voracious anger in him, anger against the self-willed female. And he was powerless, powerless. He knew it!'
Love it. I know I probably quoted way too much, but I love how they have such opposing feelings for each other, even though obviously she interprets him wrong. I actually love this story and if you are a Sean Bean fan, you'll love the movie.

So, how about you? Post your link in the comment section and Ill return the visit :)