Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MONTH: THE ICE QUEEN ~ ALICE HOFFMAN

My recommendation of the month is a very intriguing book called The Ice Queen, by Alice Hoffman. This book is one of those that caught my eye because of the cover, and I was rewarded with a fascinating story inside.


In a moment of rage our (nameless) heroine wishes for something truly awful, and her wish comes true. Guilt ridden, the heroine believes herself to have some kind of power over life and death, and lives her life pushing others away, preferring to spend time with books instead of people, and imagining herself as a creature of ice. The antisocial librarian has become so completely obsessed with death that she soon becomes an expert, and consults with a member of the local Police Department on all manner of cause and consequence of death. As you would imagine this type of lifestyle is quite depressing. Our heroine continues to live in this frozen emotional state until her concerned brother has enough of her isolating lifestyle, and insists that she move to Florida to be near him and his wife.

Uttering an idle wish to be struck by lightning, the heroine’s wish is granted, but does not leave her dead. Suffering several physical effects from the lightning strike she begins a new journey in life when she becomes part of a University research project and befriends other members of the “struck by lightning group”. I always love when a book teaches me something in addition to entertaining me, and The Ice Queen describes all kinds of effects a lightning strike can have on the human body. Amongst other things, our heroine (now with a fitting scar over her heart) loses the ability to see the colour red and has a clicking sound in her head. She soon finds herself drawn to a mysterious fellow survivor known as Lazarus (because he came back to life in the mortuary), whose breath is so hot that he can set paper on fire. They soon begin a passionate and obsessive love affair: a woman of ice and a man of fire.  Do opposites truly attract, or do they actually repel each other? Can fiery heat melt a heart of ice?  The answer is not quite as obvious or straightforward as you would think.

The Ice Queen is a fascinating read for several reasons. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be “different”. This book is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. It is quite dark and intense, but instead of being gloomy, as one would expect, the core of it all is actually light – hope, peace and love; in true Hoffman tradition, I would even call it magical. Alice Hoffman’s unique story weaved in between fact, fiction, fairytales, legends and myths, along with her beautiful command over prose kept me hooked and invested until the very end. I am certain it will do the same for you.

Monday, January 30, 2012

MY REVIEW HAS BEEN ADDED TO AUTHOR DEEANNE GIST'S WEBSITE!

As previously mentioned, Deeanne Gist, author of Love on the Line (amongst others) undertook to add my review to her website, and she did! 


The link to the review on my blog has now been added to Deeanne Gist's website!

What an honour! :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

20 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE THEY'RE ADAPTED INTO 2012 MOVIES

Buzzsugar.com has listed the top 20 Books to Read Before They're Adapted Into 2012 Movies. They are:


One For the Money by Janet Evanovich



The Woman in Black by Susan Hill


The Vow by Kim and Krickett Carpenter


The Lorax by Dr. Suess


John Carter on Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks


The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer


Les Misérables by Victor Hugo


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien



Life of Pi by Yann Martel


World War Z by Max Brooks


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


On the Road by Jack Kerouac


Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo


Another Bullsh*t Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky



Generally movie versions don't live up to the books, but for some reason I always enjoy watching them.

The three film adaptaions I would say I am looking forward to most are The Vow, The Lucky One and The Hobbit. 


Here's hoping these 2012 adaptations will suceed in getting some more people reading!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

EXCITING NEWS!

Exciting news, friends! Not only has my review of Love on the Line been read by its author Deeanne Gist(!), who also mentioned her intent to have my review posted on her website(!)...

But my blog has also been featured on a really cool literature website, I Like Literature!


First approval to join the Tyndale Blog Network, and now this! What an exciting time for my blog :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

REVIEW: LOVE ON THE LINE ~ DEEANNE GIST

Deeanne Gist is quite obviously an author who clearly loves what she does. Every single page of her beautiful work is lovingly written and utterly enjoyable.


I first came to know Deeanne from reading A bride in the bargain, which you mightl recall I adored. I have since also read Beguiled and A bride most begruding, and Deeanne has become one of my favourite authors. Reading Deeanne's books is a completely effortless process. Your eyes swim across the pages at record speed, and before you know it you're halfway through. Her characters are always well rounded, intriguing, witty and brave, her plot lines are unpredictable and final pages always leave you wanting more. What I love most about Deeanne's books, though, is the crash courses she cleverly weaves into her stories. In A bride in the bargain I learned all about logging and the fascinating Mercer brides debacle, In Beguiled I learned about journalism, antiques and robberies, and even a little about dog walking, and in A bride most begruding I learned about the tabacco brides, tabacco farming and the Indian massacre of 1622.


Love on the Line is no exception. It taught me of bird watching and conservation, the work of telephone operators and troublemen in the early 1900's, and most fascinating, a little something about Texas Rangers and train robbers. I've always loved cowboys and crooks, so I thoroughly enjoyed the core of this story.


Texas Ranger Lucious Landrum is sent to Brenham, Texas to infiltrate the most notorious gang of train robbers. The Comer Gang, under leadership of Frank Comer, has cleverly presented themselves to the public as honourable thieves, seemingly stealing from the rich to give to the poor, and as a result always manages to escape justice. The only problem is that the gang is much more mean spirited and dangerous than the public believes, and Lucious is set the seemingly impossible task of trying to protect the townfolk of Brenham from men they don't want to be protected from.


Having one final opportunity to bring the Comer gang in before another Texas Ranger takes over his case, a desperate Lucious goes undercover as telephone installer and repairman, Luke Palmer. Using his days working the lines to scope the town, and befriending the townfolk to determine who is part of Comer's gang, Luke soon begins narrowing down the list of suspects. Luke thought this job would be easy; What he didn't bargain on was discovering that some of the men simply got involved in a situation they can't get out of, and coming to care about some of the men he would have to arrest... or falling in love with Georgie Gail, the independent, stubborn switchboard operator who hates his guts.


Georgie Gail prides herself on her success and independence in a man's world, and is furious when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder. Armed with her resentment Georgie tries to show Luke who's boss, but Luke turns out to be every bit as stubborn as Georgie herself. The friction of a clash of wills soon creates a spark, and Georgie and Luke start to fall in love despite themselves.


When Georgie accidentally discovers that Luke is more than he claims, Luke is forced to trust Georgie and reveal his true identity and purpose for being in Brenham. When her involvement with Luke places Georgie directly in the path of the deadly Comer gang, Luke realises that a lot more than his job is on the line.


Love on the line is a very enjoyable read. You'll cringe one moment, laugh the next, and then be so angry you can't stand to read further; but of course you will. Deeanne Gist will capture your imagination as well as your heart.


Product information:
Title: Love On The Line
Author: Deeanne Gist
Number of pages: 368
Publisher: Bethany House
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 0764209493 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I REVIEW FOR THE TYNDALE BLOG NETWORK!

Exciting news, friends! My blog has been approved and I am now officially part of the Tyndale Blog Network!


Tyndale House Publishers will henceforth kindly provide me with complimentary copies of books for review! This is a huge honour for me since Tyndale has been a part of my life for so many years. I have come to love so many books published by Tyndale, and of course own a Tyndale Life Application Study Bible.


Tyndale publishes Christian fiction, nonfiction, children's books and Bibles, and aim to spread the Good News of Christ around the world. Tyndale is home to some of my favourite authors such as Francine Rivers and Dee Henderson, both of whom have been featured on my blog in the past. I am sure I will discover many more favourite authors throughout this exciting journey with Tyndale.


Thank you, Tyndale, for this amazing opportunity!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A GAME OF THRONES


Throughout last year #GameOfThrones dominated my timeline on Twitter. As the show had not aired in South Africa at that time, I had no idea what it was about, but one thing was clear: the people love it! I also noticed that people were quite shocked and outraged by the series’ penultimate episode and the season finale, and I made a mental note to watch the show once it aired in South Africa. A few months later the series started so I watched the first episode not knowing what to expect, and didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. I sat through the first episode connecting the dots, figuring out who’s who, where they’re from, what it is that they do and who is related to whom. The first episode ended with quite a shocker, grabbing you by the throat and making you realize that these guys don’t play around - they mean business. This was sure to be a very unpredictable series. During the TV series’ opening sequence of the second episode I actually paid attention, and realized that the TV series is based on a series of books. That was all it took.




I have now finished the first book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series, entitled A Game Of Thrones. Each book in the series will equal one season of the television series produced by HBO (although there is talk that some of the books may be split into two seasons per book in order to remain true to the story). I loved every single of it’s somewhat 800 pages. A Game Of Thrones was first published in 1996. As I got into the series I couldn’t help but wonder how it is possible that I’d never heard of this series prior to 2011?! It is epic, it is huge, and it is absolutely amazing! Somehow A Song Of Ice And Fire has managed to remain the best kept secret of the literary world… for me and many of my friends, anyway.

The setting and scale of A Game Of Thrones is massive. George R.R Martin has created a world in which to set his great tale, reminding me somewhat of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. This new world has maps, myths and legends, mystical creatures and deadly monsters. There are three known continents: Essos, Sothoros, and Westeros. To the very North of Westeros we find the Great Wall, a huge wall of ice manned by a brotherhood called The Night’s Watch, protecting the realm from dangers known and unknown, natural and supernatural, North of the Wall.



A Game Of Thrones is set mainly in Westeros, also known as the Seven Kingdoms; one nation comprised of seven formerly independent kingdoms now ruled by one King (King Robert Baratheon at the start of the series). The Seven Kingdoms are:



•The North - ruled from Winterfell House Stark.
•The Iron Islands - ruled from Pyke by House Greyjoy.
•The Vale - ruled from the Eyrie by House Arryn.
•The Westerlands - ruled from Casterly Rock by House Lannister.
•The Reach - ruled from Highgarden by House Tyrell.
•The Stormlands - ruled from Storm's End by House Baratheon.
•The Dorne - ruled from Sunspear by House Martell.



The Seven Kingdoms were consolidated by the great dragon king, Aegon of House Targaryen, who conquered six of the Kingdoms, and secured the seventh through a marriage pact. Ever since the Seven Kingdoms have been ruled by one King, the King who rules from the Iron Throne. House Targaryen was defeated in battle by Robert Baratheon, all the Targaryens murdered, including infants, save for two. A pregnant Queen Rhaella Targaryen escaped murder and fled to Dragonstone with her son, Viserys. Rhaella died giving birth to Daenerys during a vicious storm (therefore Dany is also known as Daenerys Stormborn). Dragonstone fell to the rebel forces soon thereafter, and Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, the rightful heirs to the Iron Throne, were smuggled to the Free City, Braavos, and now live in exile in Essos.



The continent of Essos is comprised of:
•The Free Cities
•The Dothraki Sea
•Slaver’s Bay
•Valyria
•Qarth



The continent Sothoros is uncharted, and not of much significance in the first book.



A Game Of Thrones focuses mainly on the clash between the honourable House Stark and the scheming, power hungry House Lannister, and the aspirations of Daenerys Targaryen to reclaim her rightful throne. Ned Stark, liege lord of the North and patriarch of House Stark, is chosen by his childhood friend, King Robert Baratheon, to succeed their common mentor, the late Jon Arryn, as The Hand of The King – the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms after the King. At first reluctant to accept, Ned agrees as a result of the pleas of his wife when they begin to suspect that Jon Arryn had been murdered, and that it is somehow connected to a freak accident that left one of their sons in a coma. Ned leaves his home, his wife and his sons behind and makes the journey to the capital city to investigate. In Kings Landing Ned must navigate his way through lies and deceit to uncover the secret Jon Arryn had died for, and care for and protect his two very different daughters while ruling the Kingdom in the stead of a disinterested, drunken King whose only interest is getting rid of the last Targaryens. Ned ultimately uncovers truths more far reaching than he had ever imagined, placing his life and the lives of his family in grave danger.



The A Song Of Ice And Fire series is one of extremes: You either adore characters or you loathe them. George R.R Martin is not afraid to kill off important characters (in the first book alone three of my favourites die along with countless others), ensuring a roller coaster ride for the reader. Let’s face it, there is nothing more boring and frustrating than a predictable book – and there is no way I can even begin to predict what will happen next.



A Game Of Thrones starts with one ruler, but concludes with no less than five people who will actively vie for the Iron Throne (and I am sure even more will surface):



King Joffrey Baratheon (Not King Robert’s legitimate son or rightful heir)
King Renly Baratheon (Crowned, supported by House Tyrell, no rightful claim to the throne)
King Robb Stark (Crowned King of the North, as the Stark Kings of old)
Stannis Baratheon (Robert Baratheon’s rightful heir)
Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Self proclaimed, rightful heir to the Iron Throne)



No wonder the second book in the series is titled Clash Of Kings.



As far as the television series goes, I have to say that the first season of the series did the book perfect justice. The storyline is carried out perfectly, omitting very few scenes and mostly using dialogue directly from the book. The characters are brought to life beautifully by a very talented and committed cast, and the settings are also very true to descirptions in the book, realistically and beautifully done.




In comparing the book and the TV series’ first season, my only complaint regarding the series is the inclusion of a lot of nude scenes and sex scenes. Although mention is made of nudity and sex in the book, it is done very subtly and minimally, and there are nowhere near as many scenes in the book as they have brought into the series. These scenes are totally unnecessary in the great scheme of things, especially the homosexual relationship between Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell. A relationship between the two might come into play later in the series, I don’t know yet, but as for the first book no mention is made of a relationship between the them. I therefore feel that the inclusion of a lovers' scene between the two is, again, unnecessary. Furthermore a red haired prostitute named Ros is a character nowhere to be found in the books, a character specifically created for the TV series, with the express purpose of bringing more sex scenes into the TV series. I have a huge problem with this. This character (and all of her scenes) is completely unnecessary as she doesn't promote the storlyline at all. I use the word unnecessary a lot here, but it really kept screaming at me how very unnecessary all these scenes are, and I can't express it enough! In my opinion they greatly cheapen the series.



Filming of season 2 of the Game Of Thrones television series wrapped last week, and season 2 is scheduled to air in April 2012. Special mention must be made of the awesome production diary the producers are posting online to keep fans in the loop. While giving fans new information on a regular basis, they are also very careful not to drop any spoilers. You can follow the Game Of Thrones production diary here.



There are currently five, and will ultimately be seven titles in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series:



1. A Game of Thrones
2. A Clash of Kings
3. A Storm of Swords
4. A Feast for Crows
5. A Dance with Dragons
6. The Winds of Winter
- Publication date not known

7. A Dream of Spring - Publication date not known



When an author sits down and creates a whole new world complete with maps, myths, legends and monsters, you can be sure you’re going to have an enjoyable read on your hands. Throw in secrets, schemes, murder plots and battles, and A Game Of Thrones becomes a wonderfully thrilling, exciting book filled with unexpected twists and turns around every corner, making this one of the most unpredictable stories I’ve come across in a very long time.



If you haven’t thrown yourself into A Song Of Ice And Fire yet, I strongly recommend that you do.

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