Monday, September 22, 2014

“All right you bloody Scottish bastard, lets see how stubborn you really are.”


Outlander
Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



After watching the trailer for the TV show, I was totally convinced I NEEDED this book in my life. I was lucky enough that Audible had it for its daily deal for cheap last month, as such, I was able to jump into the Scottish bandwagon quick enough.

My thoughts:

The Audiobook is brilliant. It consists of 33 hours of Davina Porter's magical tones. She is a tremendous narrator and her voice, accents and inflections are just beautiful. There were some passages I just had to share with my hubs because of the cheer loveliness of her voice... its truly mesmerizing. In more than one occasion I just closed my eyes and let her take me to these beautiful places she narrated. So, as you can imagine, I am completely satisfied with the experience of listening to it in audiobook.

The Book. I am torn. On one hand, it was majestically written. I cannot imagine the amount of research it took, not only to portray historical events, but to actually describe a setting, customs, flora-fauna, people and points of view. If I where to wonder about the use of cultural relativism (the view that all beliefs, customs, and ethics are relative to the individual within his own social context) in fiction, this would be the book I would use as an example. It was pretty clear to me from the beginning that this story was not going to sugarcoat lifestyles and beliefs and I didn't mind it a bit. However, the THING that I am torn about is the books' take upon time-travel.

I know. Really? I am going to be picky about it? ... well, yes.

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For starters, I was really expecting something more in the lines of Dr Who... I know! I am lame for I didn't read enough reviews to figure out this was just going to be more on the historical romantic side than on the sci-fi side, and this is my fault. But being this my review, I must say I am, if not disappointed, just not satisfied with the take on time-travel. I think that Clare's pragmatic take on her circumstances were too simplistic. She was raised by a scholar who traveled the world, more or less an archaeologist, so she must've had engrained, not only on her schooling, but on her surroundings the importance of historical events/artifacts and how ANYTHING may be an effect from the past, thus her ACTIONS when she travels to the past WILL for sure affect her present-time. This, she only wonders briefly at the end of the book... SERIOUSLY? It didn't make sense to me.

Secondly, Claire's attitude, descriptions and ultimately adventures might as well be part of a visit to an exotic place in her own time. What I am trying to say is that time-travel was more of an excuse to show an exotic place/culture rather than a strong storyline. I think that she might as well had just visited another continent/city during her present, and the story would have been exactly the same. The whole "I come from the future" wasn't at all important, necessary or explained. I am sure this has another take on the following books from this series, but quite frankly, I was not convinced.

I really enjoyed the story, as far as descriptions, adventures, characters, lifestyles and plot goes, I am glad I read it. I was just expecting more!! I don't think I'll read the following books since this one clearly reminded me that historical fiction is not my thing! Give me ghosts, Loch Ness monsters and witchcraft as main characters and plot devices, then I will be a happy woman who reads all the books.




View all my reviews

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blog tour: 'The Undead: playing for keeps' Giveaway & recipe!

https://curiosityquills.com/news/book-release-the-undead-playing-for-keeps-by-elsie-elmore/
This week, I'm participating in the Blog Tour of the book:


The Undead: Playing for Keeps, by Elsie Elmore


Genre: young-adult, paranormal-romance

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Publication: September 3rd, 2014

Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson

Add to your Goodreads list





Description:

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.



About The Author:

Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW.  The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel.


Find Elsie Elmore Online:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 



MY THOUGHTS

This book was fun! It has necromancy, an amazing rock band and a few kisses.
What else do you need?

It's told from two alternating points of view, Layla and Eric. Their encounter is triggered by the unexpected disappearance of a dead woman's body from Layla's family Funeral Home. Lost between their own explanations and roles, their confrontations become more and more uncomfortable, as the recently deceased appear to haunt Layla's sanity.

Issues about family obligations, friendship, trust, hope and bullying will certainly keep you glued to this story.

 It made me wonder a lot about those dark teen years, when you learn life is not as simple as it seems and high school is just dreadful. The book was short and satisfying. Although, I wished for more kisses, they were perfect when accomplished :)

What I really like (besides the paranormal necromancy stuff), was the commitment of Layla to her family. Her devotion and love to her parents and brother is something that shone through her ordeals. I also enjoyed imagining the music her brother, Ben plays. I love rock music and being able to infuse such enthusiasm for his band, made Ben a key star in this book. Obviously, Eric's song was swoony enough to make me kind of forgive him.

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I received a copy of this book from its publisher Curiosity Quills in exchange of an honest review, no songs where sang during this exchange. Thank you.

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For my Fictional Meals section, I decided to focus on the High School cafeteria food fare. My experience and popular culture has infused me with the notion of what to expect in a High School cafeteria. I was gingerly reading through this book when I came across Sloppy Joes. Since I'm not from the US, I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with this meal. So obviously I did a quick search and found out what I was missing! However, since I don't eat beef I wanted to know if a vegetarian solution was possible and voilá..... Jaime Oliver to the rescue! Yes, the same one who has made great efforts to change school's diets has a perfect recipe for this on his website. Enjoy:

Vegan lentil sloppy Joes (Serves 6) 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 red or yellow sweet pepper, diced
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 cup (200g) French lentils
1- 28oz (796ml) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
6 whole-wheat or sprouted grain buns, sliced in half

Toppings (optional): relish, pickles, avocado, coleslaw, sliced onions…anything goes! Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion, pepper and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until they soften. Sprinkle in the cumin and chilli powder; cook for an additional minute. Add the lentils, 3 cups of water, tomato sauce, tomato paste and Sriracha. Increase heat to high and bring the lentils a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if the level falls below the lentils. Taste the lentils, and if they are sufficiently tender (stoves and pots may vary) add the salt and balsamic. Stir and serve over buttered buns you favourite toppings.

PURCHASE LINKS



GIVEAWAYS 
(US & CA only, sorry INT'L peeps)




Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Undead by Elsie Elmore

The Undead

by Elsie Elmore

Giveaway ends September 24, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Farewell August: Mini opinionated discussion of the books I read this month.

Apparently it is becoming a theme these past months. Life gets in my way and I lazily dismiss any entries on my blog. *tsk-tsk*  I must change this, I know, since this is a space I simply ADORE!

My excuse this month is simple. I got too busy with work! I barely had time to read, lest review. In my defence, I started a new job last month and it is really hard to balance my work/life. I had to stay until too late these past days working and I am not happy about it. The brighter side: I am doing something that relates completely with my career, anthropology, thus feeding my professional career with meaningful work (and is a government job too!) is a very positive move.

My commute time was extremely well spent listening to audiobooks. These are the times when I am ecstatic about my Audible membership. I am able to enjoy my readings and rest my tired eyes while listening!


https://www.goodreads.com/series/82863-apparatus-infernum1) I started the month by reading the second book in A.A. Aguirre's Apparatus Infernum series, Silver Mirrors.

This book started  immediately after Bronze Gods left.  Inspectors Celeste Ritsuko and Janus Mikani are cleaning up the mess left by the magical device that was pivotal to the previous book. They are sent overseas to try to discover the source of strange occurrences happening, such as a wailing, crying train, machines that decide to sprout a life of their own and the disruption of communications. It is apparent that they are way over their heads from the moment they set sails.
The worldbuilding, as usual, was amazing and the adventures, fights and characters blew my mind away.

This book's sexual tensions are the best if not frustrating! I looooonnngggggg for more Mikani + Ritsuko time (and kisses!)
I want MORE adventures please!!!



 2) I moved to a different kind of genre this month: realistic fiction. Being a fantasy lover, I am very picky on my realistic books. I had read amazing reviews about Kristy Eagar's Raw Blue and had bought it long long time ago. It was just sitting on my Kindle, begging to be read. I AM SO GLAD I DID.

It was just AMAZING. It is raw as its title and I couldn't stop looking at the cover every few pages.

This book made me cry like a baby and exposed my soul to its words. I was moved beyond reason with Carly's story. I am not very familiar with surfing, so I was kind of worried I was going to be lost. But I was oh so wrong. I learned a lot about the ocean from this book's pages.

Basically, this was one of those life altering kind of books... what is it with these talented Australian writers?


3) I was just on a roll about my realistic fiction books. I had read that Sarah Alderson decided to write Out of Control inspired by the need to empower teens into taking a stand into world issues, particularly about human trafficking (Here are her thoughts). I really applaud this attempt, thus I decided to give it a try and bought it.

I was immediately thrown to a fast-paced chase, where Olivia (Liva) has to run for to save her life with Jaime (Jay) throughout New York.

The story was fun, until a nightclub scene made me want to punch Liva, but in overall, I was satisfied.





4) I finished reading the AMAZING, unique and unforgettable The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima.
I listened to its glorious 4 books: The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Grey Wolf Throne and The Crimson Crown and I was just mesmerized. Han Alister, Fire Dancer, Raisa Anamarianna, Amon Byrn and Micah Bayar will forever inhabit my mind. Their story was spectacular.
I wish EVERYONE reads this fantasy books (I managed to convince the hubs as well). I am just sad it ended, since I think I need more Han + Raisa in my life.







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