Thursday, March 29, 2012

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MONTH: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

My recommendation of the month is ‘n television series based on a series of books. The Vampire Diaries is ‘n young adult book series originally written by L.J Smith. Smith completed 7 books in the series, after which she was replaced by a ghostwriter. Though I have not read the books, the television series is one of my favourites. The storyline is well written, fast paced and very dark at times. It never gets old. The storyline is constantly changing, and is very unpredictable. A sign of a great series, the producers don’t hesitate to kill off important characters in the most unexpected ways. When you tune into an episode, you never know what you’re gonna get.

Stefan, Elena, Damon
The Vampire Diaries is a television series produced by the CW Television Network, loosely based on the book series of the same name. The story centers around a modern day love triangle between Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and the vampire brothers Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder).

Stefan & Elena

While Elena initially chooses Stefan, it is no secret that Damon loves her too, and throughout the series it is hinted that Elena might have romantic feelings for Damon as well.

Elena & Damon

It soon comes to light that the brothers had a similar love triangle approximately 145 years ago with Katherine Pierce, the (quite evil) vampire responsible for Stefan and Damon’s transformation into vampires.

Katherine & Damon 1864

It turns out that Elena is a descendent of Katherine Pierce, and Katherine’s doppelganger.

Elena 2009 / Katherine 1864

The question could therefore be asked if Stefan and Damon truly love Elena at all, or if they might actually be projecting their feelings for Katherine onto Elena.


Katherine & Stefan 1864

The plot thickens when Katherine returns to Mystic Falls, seemingly intent on winning Stefan’s heart again – and if she gets to destroy Elena’s life in the process, so much the better.



The contrast between the brothers couldn’t be greater. In their human years and early vampire years, Damon was the na├»ve, gentle, kind-hearted one, while Stefan was more of a rebel with a dark side. As the years have changed them, Stefan has come to be the dependable, serious one, while Damon has turned into a scheming, cold hearted killer (Elena’s faith in him, however, seems to trigger his softer side). Once the closest of brothers and the best of friends, Stefan and Damon have also come to hate each other over the years. It doesn’t exactly help that they now, again, love the same woman.

The colorful cast of characters also includes vampire slayers and werewolves (naturally), witches and warlocks, to name a few.


Earlier this year Nina Dobrev won the People’s Choice Award for Favourite TV Drama Actress, and in 2010 The Vampire Diaries won the award for Favourite New TV Drama. The Vampire Diaries has also won 12 Teen Choice Awards in two years, including Breakout Show, Best Villain (Somerhalder), Breakout Star Female and Male (Dobrev & Wesley), Best Actress (Dobrev) and Scene Stealer Female and Male (Katerina Graham as Bonnie Bennet & Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood). To date the show has been nominated for 37 awards in total.

The series is currently in its third season, each season consisting of 22 episodes. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on DVD, with Season 3 scheduled for release on DVD on 5 September 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

REVIEW: TRUE DEVOTION ~ DEE HENDERSON

Dee Henderson: True Devotion (Uncommon Heroes Book 1)




 

Kelly and Joe share a love of the sea, a love of sailing, and a love of a man they both lost. They become best friends after the death of Nick - Kelly’s husband, and Joe’s best friend and fellow Navy SEAL.



When a SEAL mission goes wrong, Joe is injured and Nick is killed. The story picks up three years later. Kelly, a lifeguard, is lost at sea when a rescue goes from bad to worse; now she is the one that needs rescuing. Determined to find her, Joe and other SEALs join the Coast Guard for the rescue mission. Hours too late, yet just in the nick of time, Joe finds Kelly. Disoriented from hours at sea, and shaken by a very near brush with death, Kelly confesses that she loves Joe. Surprised yet elated, Joe ponders the implications. He loves Kelly too, but feelings of guilt hold him back. Nevertheless, Joe and Kelly agree to tentatively start dating and see how things evolve. What neither realizes is that the man responsible for Nick’s death has made a comeback and has worked himself into both their lives, now suddenly in mortal danger.



As always Dee Henderson’s attention to detail is immaculate. Kelly’s days as a lifeguard are very realistically described, as is her torment during hours fighting the restless sea. Even more so the missions of the Navy SEALs, from the planning stages to execution, bring the reader into the mission, making you feel like part of the team.



On the negative side, I didn’t form an emotional connection with these characters – a first for me with a Dee Henderson novel. Don’t get me wrong, I came to care about Kelly and I came to care about Joe, but somehow I never got comfortable with their relationship. Henderson handled it beautifully, and again realistically, but throughout the novel it stayed in the back of my mind that Kelly is now dating her husband’s best friend, and that Joe is dating his best friend’s widow. I remained quite uncomfortable with the turn of their relationship, especially since Nick is still a very real presence. It’s been three years since his death, and Kelly still wears her wedding ring. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but to me it shows she hasn’t let go of him, and that she is by no means ready to start dating anyone – much less his best friend. Joe and Kelly also constantly talk about Nick. I realize that they both loved him, and that he will always be a part of their lives, but there is no need to talk it to death. I honestly would have preferred it if their relationship had stayed platonic throughout the book. In the beginning of the book they are best friends, and the friendship is beautiful, sweet and fun to watch – the romantic aspect didn’t quite fit for me.



Now, I’m not saying people who lose their spouses shouldn’t date or remarry. I’m not even saying that Joe and Kelly dating is wrong – personally I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. Maybe if Nick hadn’t been at the centre of the story the whole time it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Such as it is, Nick is too strong a presence throughout the novel. At times it felt like he might as well have been right there, watching the two of them kiss. I’m pleased that Joe and Kelly found happiness with each other, but I would have preferred that Nick and Joe had been just colleagues in stead of best friends, or that Nick and Kelly had been only engaged, not married. Somehow the transition of their relationship didn’t work for me.

Also, Henderson's trademark focus on faith is present, but not as strong as in her other works.  This time around it seemed to me to be an action novel first, Christian lit second.



I still love Dee Henderson, but sadly this is not my favourite book of hers. 



Product information:
Title: True Devotion
Author: Dee Henderson
Number of pages: 336
Publisher: Tyndale House
Year: 2008
ISBN-10: 1414310625
ISBN-13: 978-1414310626 

Monday, March 26, 2012

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2 OFFICIAL TEASER

The official teaser trailer for the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 has been released online today:


The teaser doesn't show us much, but then that's the whole point of a teaser, right?

We get a quick glimpse of vampire Bella as Edward studies her face, and then later as she embarks on what I can only assume is her first hunting trip.  We also see Jacob's reaction to her transformation in what I believe is the scene right before she finds out he has imprinted on her baby girl. Should be a fun conversation :)

Breaking Dawn Part 2 is scheduled for worldwide release November 16th 2012. 


Friday, March 23, 2012

THE HUNGER GAMES SOUTH AFRICAN RELEASE DATE

So I just started making my weekend plans, which was to include a trip to the cinema.  With great anticipation I had been awaiting the weekend of March 23, only to be disappointed.  Bad news, fellow South Africans: The SA release date is April 13th!  The rest of the world will be watching... we've got three more weeks to go.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

NOW READING: TRUE DEVOTION ~ DEE HENDERSON

I love Dee Henderson books, so much so I'm diving right on into my next one.

True Devotion (Uncommon Heroes Book 1)

She was going to drown...
Lifeguard Kelly Jacobs watched the sun go down and knew time for her rescue was running out.  The naval base glittered in the fading light, like a jewel she could not reach.  The sea surged and pulled, stinging her with cold.

Until he came.
Navy SEAL Lieutenant Joe "Bear" Baker plucked Kelly from the raging sea when she had nearly given up hope.  She'd known he would come  - he was her best friend - and she clung for all she was worth to the safe haven found in his arms.

Then she said the wrong thing...
Kelly had already paid the ultimate price of loving a warrior; she has the folded flag and the grateful thanks of a nation to prove it. She didn't dare risk loving another man in uniform.  But held close in Joe's arms, Kelly said the wrong thing, and their friendship suddenly hung in the balance.

Now they're both in danger.
The man responsible for Kelly's husband's death is back and closer than either of them realize. They're about to discover that God is a refuge, because this time there may be no rescue.

Monday, March 19, 2012

REVIEW: KIDNAPPED ~ DEE HENDERSON


FBI agent Luke Falcon and fifth-grade teacher Caroline Lane meet when his cousin marries her sister. An immediate connection leads to a relationship even though Luke withholds a part of himself, and Caroline has her doubts about getting involved with an FBI agent. A year into their relationship, just as Caroline starts considering breaking things off with Luke because he hesitates to let their relationship turn into something more serious, their collective family vanishes. As it becomes clear that Mark, Sharon and Benjamin have been victims of a kidnapping gone wrong, evidence points to the involvement of Frank Hardin, a serial killer Luke has been chasing for years. With their family’s lives on the line, Luke and Caroline are placed under the kind of pressure their fragile relationship might not be able to survive. When a stalker’s obsession with Caroline merges with the kidnapping, a ransom delivery goes wrong and bodies start piling up, Luke faces the most daunting case of his career; and when the kidnapper also sets his sights on Caroline, Luke is forced to face his emotions and admit his feelings for her. The only question is, with everything that’s been happening, might he be too late?

Dee Henderson never disappoints. As always her writing is very realistic. Her detail to the operations of a profession (in this case FBI agent) places the reader firmly in that world, creating an exciting reading experience. She painstakingly follows the kind of procedures the FBI would have to follow in a case of this nature, with the result that the reader gets to tag along for every aspect of solving this case. Henderson doesn’t hesitate to kill off characters, which causes a certain suspense to hang over every page. A good outcome is not guaranteed, so as Luke races to save those he loves, you can be sure the readers are holding their breath. 

What I love most about Dee Henderson’s books is that she manages to build intense, gripping stories on a foundation of faith. Without it ever becoming preachy she effortlessly integrates characters’ reliance on their faith to carry them through, as well as legitimate concerns believers might struggle with under certain circumstances.

Any fans of detective novels will love her work. Her writing is precise, thorough and perfectly executed. In Kidnapped, Dee Henderson has delivered yet another thrilling suspense novel which is sure to keep you turning the pages just as fast as you can.


Product information:
Title: Kidnapped
Author: Dee Henderson
Number of pages: 368
Publisher: Tyndale House
Year: 2008
ISBN-10: 1414323638
ISBN-13: 978-1414323633 

Friday, March 16, 2012

NOW READING: KIDNAPPED ~ DEE HENDERSON

It's gloomy, rainy and cold.  Perfect weather for my next read!


Dee Henderson's Kidnapped (Previously published as True Courage).

FBI agent Luke Falcon has a dead woman on his hands, a fresh victim from his old adversary Frank Hardin.  This time, Frank won't walk away.  But even that case will have to wait when Luke's extended family disappears over Labor Day weekend.  Is there a harmless explanation?  Or could they have been victims of a sordid crime?

Fifth-grade teacher Caroline Lane cares deeply for Luke, but she's not certain she can handle the pressures of dating someone in his line of work.  When foul play strikes his family, she gets a far closer view of those pressures than she ever wanted.  She's grateful that God brought Luke into her life.  But will they share anything more than tragedy by the time the storm passes?

Luke has never worked on a case involving family.  It's tempting to let his hardened exterior weaken, given the circumstances.  But he has to be strong if he's going to bring them all home.  When the ransom delivery doesn't go down as planned and the bodies start piling up, so does Luke's frustration.  He fears that innocent people may not survive this crisis... and neither will his relationship with Caroline.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

REVIEW: WILDFLOWER BRIDE ~ MARY CONNEALY


A little unobservant this time around, I only discovered that Mary Connealy’s Wildflower Bride is book 3 of a series after I started reading it. Though I missed the preceding events, Ms Connealy kindly made mention of previous events, and it was no hardship to follow the story. I understand Wade and Abby have been mentioned in book 1 and/or 2, although they were not the main characters at that stage.



The story goes like this: At ten years old, Abby’s family dies from fever and she is left alone in the wilderness. A Flathead tribe of Indians discovers her, renames her Glowing Sun and adopts her as their own. Living with the Flatheads, Abby starts forgetting her former life and even her native language. Years later cowboy Wade Sawyer rescues Abby from a kidnapping, befriends her and helps her rediscover her command of the English language as he helps her find her Flathead family. Although Abby feels connected to Wade, she rejects his advances as she has already been promised to Wild Eagle, the next Chief of the Flathead tribe. A year passes and Abby’s village is attacked, her people slaughtered and Abby again taken by the assailants. Once again Wade comes to her rescue, though she handles herself pretty well. When the surviving members of her Flathead family blame Abby for the massacre and evict her from the tribe, Abby has nowhere to go. Having had two families stripped from her life, Abby is convinced that God has created her to be alone and determines to live in the wild by herself. Wade, also living by himself and unsure of his place in the world, having finally left his abusive father to run the ranch alone, is contacted with the news that his father is dying and wishes to see him. When he refuses, Abby lashes out saying that he should be grateful he still has a father, and admonishes him for not honouring his father. Refusing to leave Abby to her own devices, Wade agrees to go home if Abby joins him. Planning to ditch Wade just as soon as she can, Abby agrees and they head for Montana, unaware that the men who slaughtered Abby’s people have recently been hired to work on the Sawyer Ranch. With danger surrounding them at every turn, can Wade and Abby survive long enough to realize that God has placed them right where they should be: with each other?

I decided to read Wildflower Bride as I was in the mood for something old fashioned and romantic, and that’s exactly what I got. It’s a lovely story about an unlikely pair falling in love despite their reservations about each other. Abby has been raised to hate and fear white men (even though she is white herself!), yet Wade is kind and protective instead of cruel and sadistic. Wade has spent his life praying for a gentle, submissive wife, yet Abby is hostile and independent. She pulls a knife on him every chance she gets! Even though neither is what the other wanted, they can’t fight their growing attraction.



Layered on top of the love story, the book deals with Abby’s doubts and fears and journey to discovering who she really is, and Wade’s unresolved feelings towards his abusive father and the mother figure who stood by and let it happen. The book beautifully deals with a Christian’s struggle with hate and resentment, and Wade’s attempts to help his father accept God. Abby’s untamed ways is also quite comical, and Connealy’s humour provides welcome reprieves from the darker side of the story.



The only thing that slightly annoyed me was that the story often moved away from Wade and Abby to focus on Silas, Belle, Red and Cassie (characters from the previous two books). Readers of book 1 and 2 may have appreciated this approach, but honestly I just wanted to read about Wade and Abby. Other than that Connealy’s writing is fun and a pleasure to follow. At the end of the day, Wildflower Bride was a joy to read.


Product information:
Title: Wildflower Bride
Author: Mary Connealy
Number of pages: 320
Publisher: Barbour Books
Year: 2010
ISBN-10: 1602601445 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

THE HUNGER GAMES WORLD PREMIERE

Last night saw the highly anticipated World Premiere of the Hunger Games movie.


Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) delighted fans with their presence at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.  Here are some of the the stars' interviews.

Jennifer Lawrence interview with Yahoo Movies:


Josh Hutcherson interview with Yahoo Movies:


Liam Hemsworth interview with Clevver:


Collage of interviews with the cast, director etc...


With the World Premiere over and done with, the rest of the world can officially get excited.  March 23rd is only nine days away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

MY NEXT BOOK TO REVIEW FOR THE TYNDALE BLOG NETWORK

The time has come to select my next book for Tyndale review.  As I was browsing my way through the possible selections for March, Candace Calvert's Trauma Plan caught my eye.  The description of the book just about had me convinced to give it a shot, but what totally tipped the scales in its favour was when I saw on Candace's Facebook page that the cover model is South African! :)

Proudly South African, I have selected Trauma Plan as my next Tyndale review.


TRAUMA PLAN (Grace Medical #1)


Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, nurse chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to ER duties. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.
 
Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.
 
As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion - and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode, and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart - Candace Calvert website.


Monday, March 12, 2012

NOW READING: WILDFLOWER BRIDE ~ MARY CONNEALY

This week I'm in the mood for something a little old fashioned and romantic.  Enter Wildflower Bride by Mary Connealy.  This is my first book by this author, so we'll see how it goes.


Glowing Sun, a white woman raised by the Flathead tribe, has never met a man she didn't want to pull a knife on, including the man who's determined to marry her.

Glowing Sun has vague memories of her former life, including a name—Abby Lind. When she’s forced to sever all links with her adopted Indian family, Abby wonders if she’ll ever find a home again.
 
Tenderhearted Wade Sawyer, responsible for Abby’s survival during the village massacre, convinces the knife-wielding woman to return with him to the Sawyer Ranch, never realizing danger lurks behind every corner. Can they survive long enough to fall in love?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

REVIEW: A KILLER AMONG US ~ LYNETTE EASON

New in town, hostage negotiator Detective Kit Kenyon is partnered with Detective Noah Lambert – against his will. Feeling guilt over the death of his previous partner, Noah isn’t quite ready to take on a new one, but doesn’t have much choice. Within mere weeks of working together, Kit and Noah are thrown into a serial killer case. On top of dealing with the pressures of the job and getting to know (and falling in love with) her new partner, Kit is also getting to know her family. Having recently found out that she was adopted at birth, Kit left her adoptive family and home behind to get to know her birth family. Dealing with extreme feelings of rejection on one hand and guilt on the other, questioning her place in the world and her relationship with God, Kit is forced to take a hard look at her life when the killer focuses his attention on her, and she starts wondering how long she might have left to live.


As previously mentioned, I wasn't blown away by Lynette Eason's Too Close To Home, and sadly I didn’t find A Killer Among Us to be much better. The writing is a little too light for my taste, and at times a little too cutesy. The way the characters speak sometimes came across very unnatural to me. I also got very annoyed with the investigators who didn’t immediately connect the deaths (could it be any more obvious they are related?), and that they didn’t immediately make the connection that all the victims (save one) were in the graduating class from the same Law School. This is supposed to be a detective novel – I need the detectives to be sharper and not catch on much later than I do. About halfway through the book: “They’re all law students. I wonder if that’s the connection somehow?”. Really?! You think?! The response: “Possibly.” My word…
 
There are also a lot of little inconsistencies in this novel. First, a piece of evidence is a diamond and ruby tennis bracelet. Later it magically turns into a diamond and emerald tennis bracelet. Kit’s signature scents are initially said to be vanilla soap and strawberry shampoo. Later, it is combined into vanilla shampoo. At one point Kit reflects something along the lines of “So she was killed sometime this morning”, when by my calculations it should have been “sometime yesterday morning”. Readers pick up on these things! Ms Eason and her editor should have been much more observant. Impeccable details are what make a great novel.  Furthermore, Kit and Noah are partners, yet when she gets shot and it is decided she has to stay in the hospital overnight, he doesn’t even come back to check on her. She later decides to take a couple of days leave during a serial killer investigation, but doesn’t bother to tell her partner. Unrealistic! Partners always have each other’s backs. In real life, they wouldn’t do things like that.

On the positive side, Kit’s internal struggle at dealing with finding out she was adopted, attempting to accept it and get to know her birth family and get over her anger towards her adoptive family, was very realistic and heartbreaking at times. Her need to hold onto self righteous anger is very convincing. Kit’s need for a relationship with God, and her gradual submission in giving God her heart is the most beautiful and best written part of the story. Since the spiritual aspect is ultimately the whole point of the novel, I guess that makes up for the other little issues.

If you enjoy books about building bridges with God, you won’t be disappointed in this one.  Just don’t focus too hard on the police work details.  It’s not a hardcore crime drama, so don’t expect to have to work hard to connect the dots, but if you’re in the mood for a quick, light read, this book might be the way to go.


Product information:
Title: A Killer Among Us
Author: Lynette Eason
Number of pages: 352
Publisher: Revell
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 0800733711
ISBN-13: 978-0800733711 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

NOW READING: A KILLER AMONG US ~ LYNETTE EASON

So I have finished Randy Singer's The Last Plea Bargain, but my official Tyndale posting date is April 16th, so I'll withhold all comments until then.

I have now started reading A Killer Among Us by Lynette Eason.  It's the third book in the Women of Justice series.  I read the first one (Too Close To Home) a couple of months ago, and wasn't terribly crazy about it, but it wasn't a horrible book, and I like to give authors second chances, so we'll see how this one goes. 

It seems I missed book 2 altogether as the stores don't even seem to stock it anymore (well, let's not get carried away, I tried three stores), but it doesn't seem to have had a major influence on book 3.  All the important information has been relayed already, so it's no problem to read these books individually.  At least that's something.     

Follow by Email

Followers

Twitter

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...