Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Effortless With You by Lizzy Charles

Hi all!

Another start of a week, another review :)




Author: Lizzy Charles
Title: Effortless With You
Release date: 12th of August 2013
Published by: Swoon Romance YA
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: YA, Slice of Life
Pages: 249 in in e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary: 

School is out and Lucy is ready for the perfect summer: lazy days at the pool, invitations to the most exclusive parties, and romantic dates with her hot new boyfriend. That is, until she lands in trouble one too many times and her parents issue the ultimate punishment: a summer job. Suddenly, the summer can't end fast enough. 

To make matters worse, the job is painting houses with Justin, the most popular, egotistical guy in school. Spending all summer with Justin might be other girls' dreams, but definitely not Lucy's. After all, Justin is cocky, annoying, and a jerk. So what if he's the most beautiful jerk Lucy's ever seen? Or that his grin makes her forget she’s mad at the world? Or that maybe, just maybe, there's more to Justin than Lucy realizes. Only one thing is certain: it won’t be the summer she wanted, but it might be exactly the one she needs.

Review: 

I was really impressed by this story, it surprised me in a good way and, most importantly, it touched me, which doesn’t really happen often, since I’m usually quite emotionally distanced from books I read, even though I might love them and enjoy them to bits.

This book was effortless to like and read. It went by fast, but the content wasn’t simple or instantly forgettable. Despite all the problems and serious topics included, I didn’t feel depressed or hopeless, the feeling of summer and the promise of a happy ending was constantly in my mind. Also, the actions, reactions and motivators of characters came across authentic and believable, which in turn, made me more invested in the outcomes of the story.

I loved how involved Lucy’s parents were in her life, hated how she kept her problems to herself, loved the romance, hated how long it took to see it develop, loved how strong and determined Lucy was with guys and getting back on her feet, hated how she let people walk all over her and connected with the wrong sort, loved how difficult topics like bullying, rape, etc were included, hated that there were no real consequences for the perpetrators (but I guess this is how it is in reality), loved Justin, hated how hesitant and unsure he was regarding one thing, …. loved this book, but hated how soon it ended! 

Needless to say there were diverse extreme feelings I experience while reading this, but one aspect especially connected with me. I don’t enjoy reading about family drama or issues between teenagers and parents, but I can’t say that I was indifferent towards the conflict between Lucy and her mother. Most of the time I wanted to shake Lucy and tell her to pull it together and learn to respect and other times I was disappointed with her mother for not understanding what the actual issue at the core was, the place where everything stemmed from. While I’m usually annoyed out of my skin by such YA mother/daughter moodiness, I was really hung on how things turned out in this book and I became so invested in the outcome that I even had tears in my eyes a couple times when reading and I can say for sure that that is a first for me in this instance and rare overall.

Characters: 

Lucy was at times really difficult to like or understand, because of her thoughtless actions and words. At the same time, she had faced and was still suffering from the aftereffects of humiliation and pain due to severe bullying, she wasn’t an emotionally healthy teenager, BUT she was trying. She admitted when she did or said something wrong and tried to repair the damage. It doesn’t matter that it took time for her to reach that point, what’s important is that she did come to the conclusion and mostly on her own. In the end, I respected who she had become. Plus, her pining from Justin was so cute.

Justin was a the perfect guy in every way, to the point that he was too good to be true, luckily, he acted quite cowardly regarding one topic, so I can safely say that he is not perfect, which in turn makes him just perfect. It’s not so confusing when you think about it!

Overall: 

I’m awful! While it was a great read, I felt something lacking somewhere, I don’t know where (and I feel guilty because of that) so I can’t give it a 5, which it more or less what it deserves, BUT I can’t if I can’t. Nevertheless, I urge everyone to give this a try, because it’s a beautiful coming of age story with sweet and sad moments that grip you emotionally and make you happy and sad and then happy again.


4 stars!

LIIS


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: Gravity by Melissa West

Hi all!

Another review :)




Title: Gravity 
Series: The Taking #1 
Release date: 18th of December 2012 
Published by: Entangled Publishing LLC 
Imprint: Entangled Teen 
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Sci-Fi, Dystopia 
Pages: 284 in Paperback format 
Source: Bought for the Bookdepository 

Summary: 

In the future, only one rule will matter: 

Don’t. Ever. Peek. 

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die. 

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.  

Review:  

I usually don’t read Sci-fi or dystopian YA, because these genres simply don’t offer what I’m looking for, but for some reason the synopsis of this book appealed to me and I decided to give it a try. And while I’m still not likely to pick up more books in this genre in the future, I did enjoy it and will find a way to fit the second book of the series in between my endless TBR pile.

The world created was unique and intriguing and the world building continued strong through the story. The central conflict of who is right and who wrong, are the actions of either party right, who is entitled to what, etc, was quite masterfully created. I was confused, then enlightened, then new information surfaces and I ended up changing my sympathy to either side as often as I change my underwear, and that’s a lot. There were motives and justification on both sides and I guess the lesson to be learnt is that neither is correct or incorrect in their beliefs, means and fears. And communication can go a long way if you are willing to do it, if not, then everyone take cover. 

I liked that the scientific text and the explanations of how this current state of life came to pass wasn’t too heavy and didn’t take over the basic plot and characters. The overall pace was also fast and there was constant action and plot development, I think I finished this book in record time, it just flew by. 

The strong, confident and knowing-right-from-wrong heroine was one of the highlights of this book. I also thought the hero wasn’t too shabby – mysterious, charismatic and on a mission. These two, I was hoping, would create an explosive and engaging couple, but there romance for me didn’t really take off. There were some sweet and successful scenes between those two, but nothing that entirely impressed me. BUT, I still spot potential there, so maybe there is more to this in the second book. 

Something more to whine about: I wasn’t really wild about any of the secondary characters. They were too bland or annoying, but I guess this comes down to preference. Also, why does there have to be a cliffhanger? This one left me too frustrated. 

Characters: 

Ari was a great and admirable heroine. She worked hard and she made the right choices on her own, despite the situations being overly complicated. She rebelled when she though lines were crossed that shouldn’t have been, even though, the consequences of her actions would result in torn loyalties and being in conflict with people closest to her. She took responsibility and didn’t turn a blind eye and that’s what made her awesome. From her attitude you could never guess that she is basically “elite” in every way, she was too down-to-earth and relatable for that. 

Jackson and everything related to him was a mystery for the most part of the book, yes, he’s an alien, but his motive, past, identity, etc were all vague and made you hesitant about everything that was revealed. Otherwise, I liked that he was a rival to Ari in training and school and they were quite compatible in a sense that either could outsmart, out beat, etc the other in any way. They came across as equals in their abilities and roles. 

Overall: 

I liked as a strictly no sci-fi and dystopia reader, so that has to count to something. Unique setting, great main two characters, girl power, fast-moving plot, endless potential – so give the book a shot!


4 stars!

LIIS

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: Me, Cinderella? by Aubrey Rose

Hi all!

Something non-YA for a change :)




Author: Aubrey Rose 
Release date: 24th of June 2013 
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Contemporary, Romance 
Pages: 234 in Kindle e-book format 
Source: Bought from the Amazon.com for Kindle 

Summary: 

One kind deed can change your life forever... 

Brynn Tomlin could never afford to follow her heart. But when she sees a stranger shivering in the snow outside of the college library, an inexplicable urge leads her to buy him a hot cup of coffee. It's just a small act of kindness, a few words of conversation. Brynn should be focusing on her finals, after all, not on the man who looked up at her gratefully with piercing blue eyes. 

He could have been anyone - a janitor on break, a graduate student, a bum. But the man standing outside in the cold turns out to be Dr. Eliot Herceg, one of the most brilliant minds in mathematics and heir to a fortune. After years of reclusive isolation, he now finds his heart awakening to the kind girl whose name he does not know. 

Brynn has spent her life trying to forget her desires, and Eliot's deep wounds have taken nearly a decade to heal. After so much hurt, will either of them be able to open their hearts again? 

Review: 

While I can name several flaws in this book, which would usually be deal breakers, starting from the abrupt ending to the somewhat of a doormat heroine who played the martyr role too well (which I didn’t like, at all), I was left charmed by this retelling and enjoyed the story to bits. All the positive and negative components came together and formed a dark and slightly too realistic fairy tale – I loved it! 

I thought the overall heavy atmosphere full of melancholy, sadness and grayness while remaining in a somber mood, despite a joyful scene or not, was masterfully created. This was in turn enhanced by the foreign setting of Budapest in Hungary during midwinter – cold and full of ancient painful history and cruelty. The slow pace with heaps of angst was exactly what made this story special, although, it can come across quite depressing to read at times. 

I didn’t feel that this story was entirely focused on the love and happiness aspect of Cinderella, the themes of redemption, making peace and learning to cope were much more prominent than a couple with different backgrounds finding their way to one another. While some plot elements were based on the fairy tale, quite uniquely by the way, they didn’t overwhelm and take over the story, this book definitely did its own thing, but used Cinderella as a main reference. 

The romance was sweet, slow and tender, with caution in every step and lots of scars on both sides needing to heal before a healthy relationship can work out. I didn’t like the push-pull side of the romance, but I understood why when things got too intense Eliot and Brynn pulled back before taking a step further. They didn’t jump into anything, although, they experienced the “insta attraction” at first meet. 

I have to have a separate paragraph for the handling of one specific detail I must compliment. I’m horrible at math and I’m not even ashamed to admit it. While it’s great to read about people immersed and living for this science topic, I don’t want to read anything in detail because the whole math vocabulary just leaves me scratching my head, it will make me feel like in school in front of the class without knowing the answer to the question the teacher is asking again. The amount of math talk was entirely in the limits of my tolerance, enough to leave an impression that the speakers know what they are talking about and enough so that I won’t feel like a boot. 

Characters: 

Brynn – I liked her intelligence and academic ambitions, she wasn’t just a girl, but she was a girl who aced in math. While, overall, I liked her and she was quite daring with some things, she was also incredibly self-conscious, self-sacrificing and careless concerning herself. I appreciated, however, how she wasn’t willing to give up on Eliot even while he was reluctant. Also, I loved how quickly she took to the lost kitty and cared about its wellbeing – animal lovers or people who even care a little are always on a high place in my eyes. 

Eliot – Well, talk about a tortured broody self blaming emo hero, BUT, it all worked out in his favor and I was quite intrigued. I thought it was appropriate how Brynn couldn’t erase the demons of his past entirely and even by the end, he hadn’t changed much from the person we first met. They have a long road ahead of them, despite having won the first battle. 

Overall: 

I’m not going to lie, this story has its issues and will probably not do it for everyone, but why not give it a chance and discover that it just might be something exactly to your liking!


4 stars!

LIIS

Free on amazon - The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson!

Happy Tuesday!

This wonderful book is free on amazon!! Use your chance and get it! I read it last year and it is a well-written sweet romance.





 
 
 
 

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson

Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it’s up to the viewers–not her–to decide which bachelors stay or go.

Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke’s an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she’s up to, it means revenge.

Grab a copy for FREE on Amazon!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: In This Moment by Autumn Doughton

Hi all!

A new week a new review :)





Author: Autumn Doughton 
Title: In This Moment 
Release date: 12th of August 2013 
Published by: Llama Drama Publishing
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Contemporary, Romance 
Pages: 304 in Kindle e-book format 
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle 

Summary: 

Every moment possesses its own kind of magic... 

Aimee Spencer learned the hard way that for some moments, there are no take-backs, no rewinds, no do-overs. A year ago her world imploded and Aimee has been running ever since. She doesn't want to feel. She doesn't want to remember. To bury the ghosts that haunt her, she is living a life that has become unrecognizable. 

Cole Everly is a golden boy with a cocky smile and an attitude to match. He's grown accustomed to girls throwing themselves at his feet, but when Aimee trips and literally lands in his lap one afternoon, she's not at all what he expects. Difficult, damaged, closed-off. If Cole needed to make a list of qualities to avoid in a girl, Aimee would probably match up with every single one of them. He knows that he should stay away but he's drawn to her in a way that he can't exactly explain. 

In this honest and absorbing story, Aimee and Cole struggle to sort out the thin spaces between loss and love. Ultimately, they will need to learn how to navigate through the pieces of the past if they want to hold on to the future and each other. 

Review: 

I picked this up solely because of the cover, for some reason it just spoke to me. I was lucky that the story itself too turned out to be just as beautiful, subtle and simple as the cover. 

Aimee is girl who is trying to get in track with her life after a tragedy that left her broken and in complete emotional turmoil. And after meeting the hottest and brightest guy on campus, the diverse emotions intensify with the happiness she is suddenly feeling and the self-doubt and guilt that intensifies because of the demons of her past still hunting her. Together, they develop and tight and intense bond over time, but Aimee isn’t the only one who has personal issues, so there is a shadow constantly looming over this seemingly ideal opposites-attract-couple and, unfortunately, problems have a tendency to catch up eventually… 

This was an adorable and sweet book with lots of angst on the side. The text was easy and flowing, but efficient in conveying what it needed, the overall mood was emotional yet not making it a difficult and heavy read, the characters were relatable even though they made quite careless and incomprehensible decisions, at least to my mind, and the romance was slow and slightly sugary, but very satisfying. So, all in all, this book managed to get almost everything just right. 

Even though it seemed so in the beginning, the attraction between Aimee and Cole wasn’t insta love, instead the relationship developed steadily and the couple got to know each other and be friends first and foremost. All this made the romance quite realistic and easy to believe in. The book also included Cole’s point of view, which came across authentic and gave insight into his motives and issues. Another relationship I liked was that of Cole and his little sister Sophie, they were so warm and fuzzy towards each other. 

I didn’t like a couple of turns the story took near the end though: the “great divide,” the “big gesture,” which is a plot device that has never appealed to me – I felt it all wasn’t necessary to make the connection of Aimee and Cole more significant, they already had too much drama and had proven that they were what the other needed. 

Characters: 

Aimee – I thought she was great – realistic, sympathetic, a fighter, but one specific decision she made at the end regarding Cole I couldn’t understand. I guess it made sense, but it doesn’t mean that I had to accept that, and accept it I don’t. By the way, I laughed at Aimee’s theory about people who read Harry Potter and people who don’t, very clever yet funny and mean. 

Cole – open, honest, positive, extremely likable, despite his typical womanizing qualities due to his character type (sexy and popular playboy), and simply someone to whom it’s not too difficult to fall in love with or swoon over. When explored further, he hides his own wounds, which make him who he is and give him some depth. I was really fond of him for the simple reason that he just came across very positive and shiny and sunny and just the right kind of guy for a “broken” girl, helping her to heal and in turn turning into a better person himself. 

Overall: 

Despite the emotional issues, this was a feel-good summer read with likable characters, sweet believable romance, easy and readable text and something that simply left me in a good mood. I will definitely check out other books from this author and recommend this story as a good read amongst the hundreds of new adult books that are popping up lately.



4 stars!

LIIS

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Hi all! 

The newest installment in the Dark-Hunter series.




Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon 
Title: Styxx 
Series: Dark-Hunter #23 
Release date: 3rd of September 2013 
Published by: Mcmillan 
Imprint: St. Martin's Press 
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Paranormal, Romance 
Pages: 848 pages in Kindle e-book format 
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle 

Summary: 

Just when you thought doomsday was over . . . 

Centuries ago Acheron saved the human race by imprisoning an ancient evil bent on absolute destruction. Now that evil has been unleashed and it is out for revenge. 

As the twin to Acheron, Styxx hasn’t always been on his brother’s side. They’ve spent more centuries going at each other’s throats than protecting their backs. Now Styxx has a chance to prove his loyalty to his brother, but only if he’s willing to trade his life and future for Acheron’s. 

The Atlantean goddess of Wrath and Misery, Bethany was born to right wrongs. But it was never a task she relished. Until now. She owes Acheron a debt that she vows to repay, no matter what it takes. He will join their fellow gods in hell and nothing is going to stop her. 

But things are never what they seem, and Acheron is no longer the last of his line. Styxx and Acheron must put aside their past and learn to trust each other or more will suffer. 

Yet it’s hard to risk your own life for someone who once tried to take yours, even when it's your own twin, and when loyalties are skewed and no one can be trusted, not even yourself, how do you find a way back from the darkness that wants to consume the entire world? One that wants to start by devouring your very soul? 

Review: 

I’ve been looking forward to this book for it feels like ages. And while this story definitely impressed me (and not only with its length), it wasn’t without its faults, or aspects that made me want to run and hide. 

Firstly the positive: 
We finally get back to a character who has been around from early books (ok, a villain, but ok), plus a lot of insight into Ash from a different perspective, which wasn’t always entirely pleasant, but made him seem more flawed and, thus, sympathetic. 

While I was slightly annoyed when reading that a good portion of the book takes place in the past and only 20 or so percent was set in the current time, it was actually nicely handled and fit the story perfectly. I guess the fact that the heroine was introduced already in the past contributed to making that portion of the book enjoyable. Furthermore, the fact that the heroine wasn’t as prominent next to the hero was a nice change. Styxx had the limelight and Bethany’s presence complimented him. There were some twists in the end, which at first glance were out of the blue, but fit nicely to the story and made me glad for the characters.  

It was an emotional read and few stories get from me the reaction they are aiming for with this. It was a gripping, but difficult read. I didn’t feel as if I just read a book I’ll soon forget about, it stayed with me for days, I kept mulling over what happened and all the feelings it invoked. And this fact makes this a successful book. 

Now for the negative: 
What was going on with the mega ultra amounts of continuous heart wrenching unfair torture of Styxx that goes against anything I can tolerate? There were times I had to put the book aside to just take a breath because what was done went to such high degrees that it seriously hurt my sense of justice, decency, overall being human and probably everything else. I don’t think such descriptive degrading and torture was necessary, yes, it illustrated the awful life of Styxx, but wow, that was hard to read. And when you think that was it, something worse comes to pass.

I was also expecting more from the final confrontation, but overall, I loved how everything turned out with that (Apollo! Finally!). The groveling from various characters, especially, Ash should have been more meaningful, but it wasn’t too shabby, so I’ll settle for what I got. 

Characters: 

Styxx is already inhuman how he managed to stay sane and decent after all that he was forced to endure, it was beyond crazy and, thus, he is beyond precious. I liked that he wasn’t a complete doormat or hadn’t given up and didn’t take everything done to him lying down. He wasn’t a saint either, because despite his kind and forgiving nature he couldn’t extinguish the mistrust and even hate to people who wronged him, but who later on were his close ones. 

Bethany was a good heroine and a great match for Styxx, but I didn’t feel that she had that extra something to take her to the awesome heroine league. It might be due to her overall small portion of appearances, but oh well. I liked her, but she wasn’t anything amazing. 

Overall: 

While a huge improvement in various ways from the last dark-hunter series books, I was put off by the torture in the story to the point where I can’t give this more than 3 stars, even though I’d want to give more. It’s a super addition to the series, but isn’t for very sensitive people (like me).


3 stars!

LIIS

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: Young Lover Murder by April Brookshire

Hi all! 

Something older :)




Title: Young Love Murder 
Series: Young Assassins #1 
Release date: 24th of August 2011 
Published by: April Brookshire 
Reading level: FICTION - ADULT: Contemporary, Romance 
Pages: 502 in Kindle e-book format 
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle 

Summary: 

First love's a killer, but so is seventeen-year-old Annabelle Blanc. The teenager was raised to be an assassin and taught to never fall in love. She lives for the job until she meets Gabriel Sanchez, the son of her latest target. 

Wealthy, spoiled and self-indulgent, Gabriel Sanchez is a teenage playboy. Setting his sights on the beautiful Annabelle, he's drawn to the mysterious new girl who's playing hard to get. Gabriel also finds himself drawn into a world of deception, violence and murder. 

Off-centered for the first time in her life, Annabelle struggles to fight her doomed attraction for the handsome Gabriel. 

In this gritty, mature YA novel, you'll follow Annabelle and Gabriel in an intense, funny, angry, crazy, rocky and passionate romance. 

As two worlds collide and they're repeatedly thrown together and pulled apart by fate, will Annabelle and Gabriel overcome betrayals, revenge and heartbreak to find a lasting love? 

Review: 

This was an oddly intriguing read, I don’t even know how to rate it. It definitely had a premise I hadn’t encountered often before in YA - teenage world-class assassins. A lot of shooting, killing, betrayal, love and mountain-fulls of angsty angst. Come to think of it, this book isn’t really for people under 17 with all the blood and sexy times, but at the same time this wasn’t a topic heavy, dark or depressing read either, which I can appreciate. 

Basic gist: Anna, the tough, talented and gorgeous assassin is sent to take out Gabriel’s, the sexy, spoiled and confident hunk’s, father, who’s a big shot criminal. What happens happens, and Gabriel and Anna fall in love with lots of emotional turmoil following, since Anna is good at her job and does the deed despite her involvement with the mob’s son. One chases the other thought the wide world and a big tug war beings with once Gabriel being cold and murderous towards Anna and then the other way around. Their relationship has a lot of issues I think should be addressed to a shrink. Nevertheless, love is love and those two are crazy for each (there are some adorable scenes which I really enjoyed). 

The humor at times was genius, totally made me chuckle. The banter between the main couple and Jackson (one of my favorite characters, a sexy dork) and the fourth, who I’m not going to mention here, was hilarious, snarky, teasing and exactly to the embarrassing “pain” points. The dialogue in general was decent too, but there was a considerable emphasis on description and Anna and Gabriel’s (whose points of view the book consisted of, them taking turns) thoughts, views and emotions. 

What I wasn’t really fond of was the constant talk of intense, passionate and soul mate kind of love between Anna and Gabriel. They were so messed up and, thus, I completely understand their need to, when finding someone who invokes such deep feelings, to hold on to it, but as they were not entirely sane to begin with, then in conclusion, their romance was just as a crazy and all-consuming. Still, the high amount of “I love you”, “don’t love you”, “can’t help but love you”, etc was simply too much for me to take seriously since we were talking about teenagers, however grownup or experienced in the cruel real world. Also, since love and hate is the same emotion one the opposite sides of one coin (allegedly) then this couple also switched back and forth and it became slightly tiring. 

Characters: 

Anna – I liked her, her lifestyle was of course out of this world, but she was still and teenage girl, who experienced her first love, which had quite devastating consequences. Despite her job and cold/tough exterior, Anna was a sympathetic girl, wacky and messed up, but sympathetic. 

Gabriel – He came across as this playboy and arrogant douche at first glance, but was a total softie inside. He was sweet and loving with Anna, unfortunately, their relationship was very volatile and doomed from the start, but that didn’t mean they didn’t try to make it work. The way they hurt each other was thoughtless and brutal, but it went with their reality. All in all, I liked Gabriel, he was determined and didn’t let anything deter him to make Anna his. 

Overall: 

I still don’t really know how to rate this. The enjoyment factor was high and it was a gripping read, but many aspects were overdone or so painfully far away from reality for me to take it seriously. I’m between 3 and 4 stars, but in the end I think I’ll give it a 3 and expect better from the next book (which I understand should be still coming?).


3 stars!

LIIS

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Excerpt and Giveaway of Death by Living, by N.D. Wilson!

Happy Wednesday!

Couple of days I posted a review of Death by Living by N.D. Wilson.
Today I am glad to share an excerpt from his book and also offer you a giveaway of the book which I truly liked. See my 5 stars review HERE.

It's a great book, so enjoy the excerpt and good luck with the giveaway!

Summary:



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Death by Living is a follow-up to N.D. Wilson’s critically acclaimed Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl. While Notes focused on a way of seeing life, Death by Living focuses on a way of living life. Wilson reminds each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. Every second we create more of our past—more decisions, more breathing, more love and more loathing.
In his uniquely poetic style, Wilson writes the stories of his grandparents, grapples with the concept of time, and inspires readers to “Burden your moments with thankfulness. Be as empty as you can be when the clock winds down. Spend your life. And if time is a river, may you leave a wake.”
“Our sad, dark and decaying culture needs more salt, light and joy from such authors as N. D. Wilson. He reminds me of a young Chesterton.” —Eric Metaxas, bestselling author




An excerpt from Death by Living, by N.D. Wilson

 

Chapter 8: The (Blessed) Lash of Time

On Saturday nights, our family gathers at my parents’ house to eat and laugh and drink to grace. My sisters and their husbands come with their tribes and I with mine.

My grandmother, mother to my father, went into the ground on top of a hill two years ago. James Irwin Wilson comes to these Saturday dinners alone (and yet not). He is the one most likely to ask if he can invite an ex-convict, or to need a ride because he loaned his car (knowingly) to a thief, and now it is gone. His heart struggles. His blood struggles. The man who rowed at the Naval Academy now walks with a cane. The boy who was there when a stallion was rearing and his father was falling to the ground, the boy who ran a ten-acre farm and finished high school and worked eight-hour shifts every night in the Omaha stockyard is now eighty-five and not yet spent. Though he is trying to be. My grandfather has no intention of ending his life with closed fists. His hands will be open and they will be empty.

I began meeting with him early on those Saturday afternoons, and I set up a camera. He was uncomfortable that first time, because I was demanding that he talk about himself, and because he had forgotten to wear a tie. I laughed (in my sweater and jeans). He hasn’t forgotten his tie since.

When he turned eighty-five, he asked for no presents. Like a good hobbit (though I have always said that he is more entish), he wanted to give to us. He is not in the business of accumulating, especially now, as he hears the crowd counting down. He had some birthday menu requests (with pie for dessert), and then he wanted to tell stories to his great grandchildren.

That Saturday, aunts and uncles and cousins came, and when we had eaten and sung and laughed, we settled him in an armchair and sixteen great-grandchildren wrapped around his feet on the floor.

He had no doodads to give. No cheap party favors. Instead, he gave those kids what they could never buy for themselves, what they could never find on their own. He gave them the memories of a boy on a Nebraska farm with brothers, a boy trying to break a wild prairie mustang. He gave them memories of his mother, born in a sod dugout in the prairie grass.

He gave a crowd of mostly small people (who all exist because of his choices in his moments) a glimpse at a time long gone, at moments extinct, at vapor seen with his eyes and remembered.
Iand all of those childrenreap a tremendous daily harvest thanks to his faithfulness, thanks to the man with the cane who has received his life with joy, and whose large hands have always been open. Thanks to the Author who crafted such a character and set him on his path, who claimed his heart and carried his burden.


For my part, as he sat and talked, I held a camera. A time will come, I pray, when I am the spent one in the chair still aiming to give. And if I reach his age in 2063, I hope, even then, to introduce this man to generations unborn, to give them more than words, but the flickering image of this face, and the sound of this voice.

On his birthday, this grandfather is not yet done. He has more wealth to give. He chose a passage of Scripture for each of his children and their spouses, for each of their children and their spouses, and for each of their children. Forty-six souls (and counting). He asked a son to arrange and print each passage on archive paper, and he wrote a note of marginalia to each of us, in the sharp, perfect handwriting of another time.
To the youngest of all, my sister’s two-month-old son, he handwrote a simple message next to Colossians 1:912: "You may not remember me. I remember you and prayed for you when you were one day old. -Great Grandpa"


My sister cried.

My grandfather’s accounts are in order. His seed is sown. His hoard is elsewhere, in the faces at his feet, and in the hundreds and thousands of stories his own story has touched and will continue to shape.

Drink your wine. Laugh from your gut. Burden your moments with thankfulness. Be as empty as you can be when that clock winds down. Spend your life. And if time is a river, may you leave a wake.

-----------------

Death by Living is a very inspirational book, and here is your chance to win it!


Giveaway details:

Me and Reading will be giving away Death by Living to 1 winner.
Giveaway runs from today until 11th of September 2013.
Open for US and Canada only.

To participate please leave a comment telling me why would you like to win this wonderful book. Don't forget your email addy, so I can contact you in case you are the winner.

Good luck!

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2 Movie Reviews: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters & The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Hi all! 

I've seen a lot of movies lately, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on two. 




Title: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 
Director: Thor Freudenthal 
Writers: Marc Guggenheim (screenplay), Rick Riordan (based on the novel by) 
Stars: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, etc 
Release date: 16th of August 2013 in Estonia 
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy 

Summary: 

In order to restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising. 

Review: 

I’m a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series and, honestly, quite sad that the movie adaptions haven’t really taken off, because they aren’t half bad. There is always some getting use to or being disappointed how the live version compares and turned out next to the books, but most of the time, if you try get over the fact that a direct adaption is quite impossible and the actual feel of the movies (if it coincides with the books) is what matters, at least to me, then I think there would be less disappointment. 

I liked the first movie, the huge changes were quite annoying at first, but the actual atmosphere of the books, adventure and characters translated well to the big screen. And, luckily, the entertaining and fun aspects carried on to the second movie. I really had fun watching this! 

From the first scene to the last there was non-stop action to keep me busy not analyzing the story too much (and comparing it to the book). And despite many scenes, settings being left out and altered, I’m surprised they managed to squeeze in as much as they did. So, storyline wise I don’t really have much to complain. I’m glad they added many key factors that were part of the first book, but weren’t mentioned in the first movie (though now they felt rushed being introduced as they were). The visuals in general were also believable and exciting to watch, there was some subpar stuff, but the fast pace took away from any not-too-great effects. 

Some good scenes: the mechanical bull, whenever Percy used his powers (cool), the beautiful seahorse (it had a name, but I can’t remember), the sea monster swallowing the heroes’ boat (really nasty), the whole scene with HERMES!!! 

Why I gave the movie the rating I did?: The ending, about half an hour from it, was dreadful. They just altered too much and went over the line, they completely changed the being of one of the main players and left it looking like a wuss, visually, power wise, evil wise… all wise. Also, one absolutely useless “sacrifice” felt out of place and there were just many things wrong with the last half an hour. I can tolerate a lot, but I felt I was watching an adaption of a completely unknown book. 

Characters: 

I think Logan Lerman is a perfect Percy, not how I imagined him, but who cares, in essence he is Percy. Believable, likable, underdog-y, sweet, funny, brave, the list goes on. The supporting gang of two Grover and Annabeth also continued to shine and portray their characters faithfully. 

New characters: 
Clarisse wasn’t as hardcore as I thought she would be from the books, but she remained arrogant, able, active and a great counterforce for Percy’s character. I’m really happy they introduced Dionysus, he’s like the camp’s mascot and his presence was sorely missed in the first movie. Stanley Tucci was perfect, but he could have been slightly meaner and more bitter. I didn’t really care much for Tyson in the books, but he was such a cute puppy dog in the move that he grew on me and I’m quite fond of him now. Nathan Fillion as Hermes was definitely one of the highlights of the movie, great casting! 

Overall: 

If you are a fan, I urge you to give it a chance, it’s a fun movie, it really is! It had its issues, that I was quite disappointed with, but the overall feel of the movie I liked a lot. 


3 stars!





Title: The Mortal Instrument: City of Bones 
Director: Harald Zwart 
Writers: Jessica Postigo (screenplay), Cassandra Clare (based on the novel by) 
Stars: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, etc. 
Release date: 23rd of August 2013 in Estonia 
Genre: Adventure, Action, Drama 

Summary: 

When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld. 

Review: 

I’ve been trying to read the first book in the series for several times already. I start it, I read a couple of hundred pages and then… I just move on to other things, because apparently it lacks the IT factor that makes me want to go on, even though, I actually liked what I’ve always read till the point. A mystery. I’m the kind of person who even if she is dead bored with a book and despises the content, if started I WILL finish it. So, not knowing if it’s my issue or the book’s, I decided that it would be easier to watch the movie instead of starting the book another couple of hundred times without finishing it. And here are my conclusions. 

I liked it, both story wise and visually. The plot was somewhat familiar, but had its own intriguing elements and engaging conflicts. Plus, there were several twists there that I didn’t see coming and, thus, were quite original (not that I actually liked the direction they were taking, but oh well). I’m slightly becoming bored with the vampire and werewolf themes, but in this they complimented the main plot and were just in the right dosages. 

The movie itself looked good too. The institute looked grand and impressive yet sad and forgotten with so little people roaming the halls. The effects weren’t in great numbers, but what was present came across believable and decent. Since I don’t remember much from the book and how I imagined everything then I couldn’t really feel that anything was in major conflict with my imagination. 

The characters each had their distinct personality and features that made them likable or, if they were the bad guys, then they definitely fit the bill. Isabelle was a wonderfully tough chick, but Jace was the one that caught my fancy. His unique serious/sarcastic/daring yet not completely jaded approach was quite endearing and a lot of it had to do with how he was portrayed in the move by Jamie. I’ve heard that there were complaints regarding him in the role, but I thought he was one of the highlights. In general, it was refreshing to see so many new faces in the movie and everyone did a fine job. 

My biggest con is to do with one character… 

Characters: 

Who was incredibly useless and annoying that it was quite difficult at times for me not to cringe? The honor goes to Clary! I don’t remember if she was like that in the books as well, but, I just couldn’t find myself to even remotely root for her. She was here and there and everywhere, most of the time being saved or just standing there doing nothing significant. And when she did achieve something it wasn’t because of HER, it was due to her powers or just dumb luck. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but, Clary definitely didn’t cut it for me as a great YA heroine. Luckily, others were there to almost fill the void she left with her incompetence and damsel-in-distress-ness. 

Other than Clary, I’ve already said that Jace was intriguing, Simon was whiny, but still sympathetic, kickass characters were kicking it and Valentine was a wicked and crazy maniac (loved the fight in the end with him and …). 

Overall: 

The movie was fine, I don’t know why there is so much negativity and criticism surrounding it. It definitely wasn’t without issues, but I enjoyed and finally, I know what happens (without having to read the book)!

3 stars!

LIIS
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