Round-up of Books read in February

It’s the first time I’m doing this, but I think it’s a fairly good idea to summarize both my ratings and my thoughts regarding the books read during each month. The books here are the ones I FINISHED during the month of February. This does not necessarily mean that it’s the first time I have read said books.

So here they are, by the order (date) in which they were finished, that is, read by me ;p I keep my goodreads account as updated as I can. There are 9 of them in all. Not bad, considering I spent a week abroad this month too (I took some books with me ofc).

1. The Death Cure – James Dashner – Maze Runner #3

2 Stars – Whether it’s because these dystopic novels all seem to end up the same, or whether I expected something more, I’m not sure to be totally honest. Suffice it to say that I was kind of dissatisfied by the way the trilogy ended. Thomas’ relationship with Teresa was cloudy and unrealistic to say the least. His whole character left something to be desired, and not just because of the memory loss (gods how I hate that too-facile writer’s construct). Also, the last ‘scene’, reminiscent of Kevin Costner’s movie ‘Waterworld’ was too good to be true, not to mention simplistically explained.

The_Death_Cure2. Coraline – Neil Gaiman

4 stars – I just love Gaiman’s style. He does not write books ‘for kids’, HE IS one of them! Apart from that, his plot-lines are so full of different layers and psychological innuendos that even when they are aimed at children, you know that there are things only an adult will realize too. Each book is a real treasure. WE WANT MORE!

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3. The Lady of the Rivers – Philippa Gregory – The Cousin’s War #3

4 stars – Philippa Gregory’s recount of British history is mesmerizing. Weaving a coloured tapestry made up of real known historical events, mashed with the imagined account of individuals’ everyday emotions and passions, her writing-style is a very interesting blend of magical motives and the intricate psychology behind human nature.

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4. The White Princess – Philippa Gregory – The Cousin’s War #5

4 stars – I had purchased all the Cousin’s War books online, unfortunately they didn’t arrive all at the same time, so I ended up reading some books before others, and not in their intended sequence. This is not as bad as it sounds, since the narrator of each novel is different, so the plot-lines, though interlocking, still make sense no matter which sequence you read them in. That being said, like the rest of the series, I loved the political yet individualistic tribulations.

download (1)5. A Wheel of Stars – Laura Gilmour Bennet

3 stars – This wasn’t the first time I had read this novel, though quite some years had passed since I read it first. I took it with me during my trip to France as I knew I would be visiting various Cathar Castles, and since the novel takes us back to the Cathar crusade, I knew it would be quite interesting to read in that particular setting. That being said, the writing is ‘okeyish’, as are the characters, nothing more.

download (2)6. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

3 stars – I already wrote my own review of this novel in details https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin-book-review-spoilers/

download (3)7. The Evolution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

4 stars – Wrote a more in detail review of this one too here https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/book-review-the-evolution-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin/

download (4)8. The Retribution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

3 stars – And for this one too https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/book-review-the-retribution-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin/

157684099. Daughter of the Blood – Anne Bishop – The Black Jewels #1

3 stars – I had kind of forgotten this series, even though I had bought them ages ago. Was curious to see whether I would evaluate them differently now that I am older. The fact that unlike most books, the main character is not the narrator is very freshening. There are multiple narrators, all of whom revolve around the main ‘heroine’ however we only ever see her through other people’s eyes, and never actually hear her own narrative voice. This is very original, yet can be frustrating too!

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Anyways, there’s the haul! Next month will probably continue Bishop’s series, as well as a couple of more Philippa Gregory Books. Also have got a brand new copy of Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ waiting for me and calling to me sonorously from my sitting room table ^^ So much to look forward to! ❤

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Women = You are a Blatant Disappointment!

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150226/local/fifty-shades-of-grey-breaking-local-records.557723

Really? Are most Maltese women as misguided and bereft of any kind of intimacy as all that? This novel/movie is wrong on so many levels that I really don’t know where to start. Let me at least try to scratch the surface:

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1. The writing is CRAP. As a book-lover and writer with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Masters in English Contemporary Literature, I can say this with professional and experienced detachment – it is TURDS ON TOAST, and that’s that.

2. It was originally written as a fan-fic of Twilight… which says it all. Love Twilight? Love soft-porn? Here you got a mixture of the two!

3. It’s not even real BDSM!! And believe me, I know what I’m saying! The novel is about a girl who doesn’t know her cunt from her ass, meeting a ‘pshycologically hurt’, not to mention inept, guy, who thinks he wants to play Master, while all he wants is a girlfriend without the title.

4. It wrongly promotes the idea that people who find BDSM kinky and titillating, like it because they are emotionally disturbed in some way. That they get excited by whips and leather because there is some big dark secret pointing towards neglect or violence in their childhood or youth = WRONG

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What does the fact that it is such a big success say about Maltese women and women in general??

1. These women know NOTHING about BDSM.

2. They know nothing about REAL RELATIONSHIPS, or the ups and downs one really encounters when trying to build something permanent with a partner.

3. They are starved for sex.

4. They haven’t got past the ‘I’m a 14-year old gushy gushy oh-so-innocent version of femininity just waiting to be plucked’ stage.

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5. They know nothing about literature, realistic plot-lines, characterization and they know NOTHING of the human psyche!

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Don’t like my summary? Bite me!

And yes I have obviously read the the book… tried to must be more like it. The cheesiness, and plain stupidity in every page made me want the vomit. Point being – I don’t write about or criticize something I know nothing about, which is why I made the effort. I wasted hours of my life and numbed my brain for THIS.

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Fortunately for the ‘author’ (for want of a better word) many people don’t need to numb their brains to accept and ‘love’ this story, since their consciousness seems to be naturally numb already.

The Weaver of Tapestries

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The darkness faded long ago
the shards have healed, the soul has eased
and yet somehow, at times my mind strays
asking why’s, looking for might-have-been’s

Do you ever think of me?
Telling everyone I was the cause, I was the pain
did you really suffer, were you grieved
were there a million pieces of you, like there were of me?

Excuses, excuses
Anything to use worn beds
tattered into incredulity
even after the passage of time

Yet, you spin the old mantra
of lies couched in sweat and sniggers
corruptible spasms in a sea of disruption
Fanciful cocktails of blood and music

Beneath freckled claws, under wide eyes
do you really believe what you say?
Does the villain always see a hero in the mirror
or does he open his eyes sometimes?

Clutching spheres of crystals and tears
sucking in derailed hearts
No – I will not forget. I do not want to.
Frosty-eyed I clutch at the withering storm

Dark stars falling on fluttering eyelids
nails scraping at the brittle grime
Still here. I am still here.
Bereft, but whole.

Book Review – The Retribution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

Personal Grading – 4 stars

Considering how cheesy and ultra-‘Twilighty’ this trilogy was when it started, I’m glad to say that it did not continue to play out that way. As I wrote in the book review to Book 2, the story evolves, the characters develop, and in Book 3, we are finally presented with a specific explanation and ending. I am not sure I am totally satisfied with the ending itself, however one could easily think that Michelle Hodkin could be thinking about writing a continuation, so I’ll let it lie for now.

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That being said, I loved the veiled references to the Goddess Maat, not to mention the various jokes and innuendos referring to various movies and books. Michelle, I like your reading list! ;p

Strangely enough perhaps, it’s the character of Noah which I like less. He is too perfect, too hot, too awesome at anything he does and is. I get it – he’s the HERO, but really… I’d have preferred Jaimie. With his weird-humored t-shirts, his badass remarks, his assholish behavior at times, his unswerving friendship and loyalty, not to mention his smartass attitude – he’s so much more realistic and present than Noah – with his neverending litany about courting death, for absolutely no reason that the reader can fathom.

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That being said, I really liked this book, though again, I think it was too short and abrupt. But then, every good novel is ‘too short’ isn’t it?

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Book Review – The Evolution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

MONDAY

I just finished ‘The Evolution of Mara Dyer’, and I must say, it was SOOOO MUCH BETTER than the bad review I gave on here – https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin-book-review-spoilers/  with regards to the first book.

Well done Michelle Hodkin, you managed to improve yourself a lot since your first novel, which was, let’s face it, pretty tripe in a nice packaging.

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The second installment to the trilogy not only had be hooked, but contained some really interesting revelations. It focused a bit on the love story, but also explored the realm of the psychological, not to mention revealing more stuff about the characters, making them well-rounded and believable. I also simply adored the ‘past lives’ angle, and it was a really good idea for Mara’s power to be genetically inherited – makes a lot of sense and is very plausible.

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Not wanting to give any spoilers, I will try not to write anything else, apart from illustrating how much I am looking forward to the third installment of the trilogy. I honestly never encouterd any trilogy I had such a low opinion of while reading the first part, while being totally engrossed in the second, since usually the second book in a trilogy is the one which lags the most.

So, surprised and pleased me, gives you the over and out 😀

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Movie Review – The Woman in Black 2 – Spoilers Alert

Personal Rating – 1 star

I had been looking forward to this sequel for quite some time. I had hoped that unlike most sequels, it would be exciting, titillating and emotionally disturbing – most of all, I had hoped that it would shed more light on the background story of Jennet Humpfrye, that is the ghost that became the ‘Woman in Black’ herself.

I am sorry to say, that I was VERY disappointed.

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The movie, subtitled ‘Angel of Death’, fast-forwards us from the Victorian era, which had set the stage for the first Woman in Black film, to the Second World War, when the now semi-renovated haunted house in question,started to be used as an impromptu orphanage. You’d think the ghost would have a field day… hmm…

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The main character (Phoebe Fox), of bland appearance, gives us an equally bland performance as a woman who has, in the past, experienced the loss of a child. This could have been a good idea for the focus to be not just on the main character as a grieving mother, but also on the ghost herself, since the child-carer here could empathize with the dead woman’s similar plight. That is the way I would have played it, while giving more background and detailed info on the ‘ghost’ herself. Instead, the film portrays the feelings which inexplicably grow between bland young woman, and a bland young pilot, in an ever-boring slow movie where nothing happens, and where semi-horror background music is used to try and built up a sense of suspense which simply DOES NOT HAPPEN.

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The ghost, instead of seeing Eve, the main character, as a representation of herself, since her baby was taken from her, wants to punish her for ‘letting him go’. This attitude could have spurred a showdown between the two women, one alive and one dead. Needless to say, it didn’t. Ever. The movie plodded its way on through half-finished dreams and mediocre attempts at giving the audience some thrills, which failed miserably. Veiled women shrieking in corners and screaming silently in one’s face are not my thing. Give me a well-rounded plot with believable emotional characters and an interesting background story, or a psychological effort at least, and you’ve got me. Unfortunately this film had all the wanna-be cheesiness of a gore movie, without the gore.

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The worst part (yes even worse than a wasted hour and a half where nothing happens) was the ending. The pilot semi-love interest is killed, and the Woman in Black just stops haunting the child she had ‘chosen’ as well as Eve. Without explanation or reason. Totally pointless. On the other hand, she continues to haunt the house. We do not know why and there is no explanation. Another attempt at creating ‘mystery’ = FAILED.

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The Pope says that Trans people ‘destroy creation’ and compares them to Nuclear Weapons…

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danthropology/2015/02/pope-francis-says-trans-people-destroy-creation-and-compares-them-to-nuclear-weapons/?utm_content=buffer4f603&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

And this is a religion which prides itself on promoting the precepts of love and tolerance?

Seriously… the mind boggles…

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin – Book Review (SPOILERS)

I am currently of two minds about this book. Having just finished it, I am still oscillating between amused interest and irritated indignation.

Following the Twilight destruction phenomenon, a spate of wanna-be teenage angsty star-crossed lovers ‘novels’ started to come out, all aimed at young people and all of them the same.

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Mara Dyer Book 1 started with a very interesting (although not at all original) premise. The reader is unsure whether Mara is suffering from post-traumatic stress psychosis or if there’s something else. We see flashes of the truth, but the narrator is fallible, so we are still not sure what is happening. Everything is exciting, mysterious and a tad uncanny.

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And then, everything goes to rot.

Enter Noah – the new Edward. Perfect in every sense, every girl wants him, but for some strange inexplicable reason he only wants quite, introvert Bella.. er I mean Mara. Noah is elusive and special. Rich and adored. And he has special powers! Surprise, surprise!

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By the way, have I mentioned Noah’s equally perfect ex who bullies Mara with the help of her friend the blonde-Mr America? Are all the characters so beautiful and picture perfect? Yes! Gods even this is enough to irritate the hell out of me! Where are the fat chicks, the pimpled cowards, the bitchy sluts and the insecure people you REALLY find in every school in existence?!

Anyways, to be fair, there are many differences which tend to try and put Mara Dyer outside the Twilight zone… maybe I have become too adept at perceiving similarities everywhere? Hmm… Maybe it’s just me? Or not?

Anyways, Bella… I mean Mara, feels physical attraction towards Noah, but he keeps back (even though apparently he’s shagged every other thing in skirts), because… well no actual reason is given. He just refuses her advances… sounds familiar? To make matters even more… *cough*cough* cheesy, we realize that Mara too has special powers! Oh these two are so special! Their special powers complement each other so specially, driving the point home that, as Noah said ‘We are made for each other’… honestly, the syrupy sweetness is enough to curdle bacon.

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And yet… there could be something there… something more…

Maybe it’s just the awesome book-cover which is still getting to me lol (for some reason it seems familiar too…?)

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Yes, I’m going to start reading the second book of the trilogy, ‘The Evolution of Mara Dyer’… maybe it will get better.

I surely hope it won’t be worse.

Prospective Employers checking out your Facebook!!

Have you ever been told off at work for something you said or posted on Facebook or another social media?

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Yesterday an article of mine was published – can be read here:

http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/02/18/sexy-or-slutty-if-you-have-it-flaunt-it-right/

The article is about how different people can perceive ‘sexy’ and ‘slutty’, since these two terms are entirely subjective. That is, what is sexy for me, may appear slutty to my neighbour, and vice versa for example. It is also about the importance of posting and uploading certain things on Facebook, and the consequences of this.

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I know for a fact that most employers in Malta check a person’s Facebook and anything they can find on him/her online, before interviews, therefore fair or not, some employers DO judge a prospective employee basing their judgment in part on their social life, and behaviour in general, and not just on the prospective employee’s professionality or how much they know the job.

Is that right?

To be honest, I am of two minds about this.

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If an employer is searching for the best candidate for a position, isn’t he at liberty to take into account a person’s behaviour, mentality and the way s/he thinks and can interact with others, apart from his/her academia and work experience? Especially if the person will be working in a team?

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On the other hand, how can someone who doesn’t know you judge you from a simple Facebook photo? What if I think I look hot and sexy in my photo, and the prospective employer is a conservative and thinks I look slutty and promiscuous? Is he at liberty not to hire me then? Just based on my appearance? Isn’t that discriminatory and illegal?

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