Sunday, 31 July 2011

July in Review

Another month gone, eek! Unfortunately I didn't get many reviews done this month, mainly because I spent two weeks trying to slog through A Romanov Fantasy by Frances Welch and didn't do any other reading in that time. It's not a bad book, but pretty slow going, and when I finally made it half way through I decided not to force the rest and instead pick it up here and there while I'm reading other books. I don't usually like to have more than one book going, but it's non-fiction so it makes it a little bit different, I suppose. Anyhoo, it's still been a busy month!

I read and reviewed...
I swooned over...
The reading icons I admired were...
I listed my top five...
Some bookish things I wanted to buy...
Other fun stuff: I celebrated reaching 200 followers with my first giveaway (which is still open!); Got addicted to Tumblr; Had some hilarious incoming search terms; Compared the two upcoming Snow White adaptations; Loved Emma Stone in Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly and Mila Kunis with Justin Timberlake in Elle; and had Crystal from The Uniblog pop by for two guest posts on Batman (read part one here and part two here).

How was July for you?

Image via We Heart It. 

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Note-worthy: So that's why I'm an insomniac...

While Crystal from The Uniblog has been teaching us all about Batman, she let me take over her blog for a post revealing just how much of a loser I am five movies and TV shows that scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. Hop on over to read it and make me feel better by letting me know I'm not the only one who lost sleep over Drop Dead Fred (What, I am?! Dammit).

PS If you missed my first guest post at The Uniblog, in which I described the love lessons I got from fictional boys, you can read it here.

Guest Post:: Batman Primer Part II - The Batman Family

Crystal from pop culture website The Uniblog is back to continue her series on all things Batman. You can read Part I here. Over to Crystal...

The Batman Family are the friends of Batman who fight crime with him. One of the more fascinating and contradictory things about Batman are his connections to the people who follow him to a life of crime-fighting.  As broody and solitary as he seems, he is constantly surrounded by others who know his secrets.

The most famous of these is Dick Grayson's Robin, the yellow-and-green-donning young man who was at Batman's side for decades. Robin gets a lot of flack for being kidnapped all the time and being pretty much useless, but in reality he's a kid who kicks ass and keeps Batman from falling too far into the darkness of wearing the cape and cowl. He has gone through the same thing as Bruce, losing his parents as a child to violent tragedy, but he doesn't let it consume him. He has since grown up and become his own hero, first as Nightwing and then as Batman himself (long story), but Dick Grayson will forever be known as the most famous side-kick of all time. 

Jim Gordon is the Police Commissioner of Gotham and is perhaps Batman's best "friend" who doesn't know his secret identity.  It's implied that he's smart enough to unravel the mystery of Batman's identity, but that he chooses not to. Gordon is cool because he is a beacon of honesty and goodness in a department corrupted with dirty cops. He is also a tragic figure, whose first wife leaves him with child in tow because his priorities keep him serving the dark lady that is Gotham, and not his family. Then that same city gets his second wife brutally murdered.  I like Gordon best when he is played as a grizzled and tough old man.

Batgirl is Barbara Gordon, Jim Gordon's niece (or daughter depending on the continuity). She is at first a very light character, due to the fact that her backstory wasn't born out of tragedy like Batman or Robin. Initially she's mostly a foil for Robin to argue over who is a better sidekick.

This all changed in 1988 during the famous and controversial "Killing Joke" storyline. During an attempt by the Joker to drive Commissioner Gordon crazy, the Joker shoots Barbara in the spine, paralysing her. In a world of comic books you would think that she could be healed through sci-fi science or magic, but there is no such cure for Barbara Gordon.   Rather than letting the character get what happened to her undone, writers chose to revive her as a character living with a disability - the information broker and computer expert Oracle.  She is actually empowered by this role enough to become the leader of her own superhero group, the all-female "Birds of Prey".

I am sure you know Alfred Pennyworth as Batman's faithful manservant and butler, but there is a lot more to the British gentleman than that. He is also an actor, an amateur surgeon, a sometimes spy and even a rose breeder. He bounces dry, sardonic humor off Batman in a way nobody else can, and in the sometimes humorless world that is Gotham that is a godsend.  He is the closest thing Bruce Wayne has to a father.

There are MANY other members of the Batman Family, including the formerly mentioned (in Part I) Zatanna - a magician who can wield magic by speaking backwards; Batwoman, Kate Kane - a kick ass military brat and the first homosexual to lead Detective Comics; Catwoman, Selena Kyle - who is somewhat reformed and actually has been let in on Bruce Wayne's secret; and more Robins than you can shake a stick at.  

One thing Batman does in spades is keep a certain distance from others, but over the years he has accumulated more compatriots in crime than even the usually sunny Superman. Why? I think for somebody as pained as the Dark Knight, you need others to keep you from going over the edge, especially when most of the villains you fight are violent lunatics.

Next Time on The Batman Primer:  Batman's Rogues Gallery

Thanks Crystal for the fascinating post!

Reading Icons: Belle

I thought it was about time I dedicated one of these posts to the icon who inspired this blog - or the name of it, at least. I'm so jealous of Belle's library. It's just one example of Disney setting me up with unrealistic expectations of men - I mean, who gives a freaking LIBRARY as a gift?! Only the greatest prince ever. Except for, y'know, the whole holding Belle captive thing. But I prefer not to dwell on unpleasantness. Look! Pretty pictures!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Bookish Fun: Battle of the Snow Whites

It seems that the powers that be in Hollywood have decided vampires are, like, so 2010 and have moved on... to fairy tales. We've already seen new versions of Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast (in the Vanessa Hudgens vehicle Beastly), but it looks as though Snow White is really where it's at. Because they're making not one but TWO versions of it at the moment - and they both look kind of awesome.

Sorry, Snowie, you're old news.

Film 1: The Brothers Grimm: Snow White (working title). According to the studio Relativity Media, it will be "a spectacular reimagining of the classic fairy tale - an evil queen steals control of a kingdom, and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright in a spirited adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the imagination of audiences the world over." There's even a love triangle - between the evil queen, the innocent princess and, of course, the handsome prince.
The date: Release is currently set at March 16, 2012.
The stars: Lily Collins (Phil's daughter) will play Snow White, while the prince who captures her heart will be played by none other than my Gatsby, Armie Hammer - who you might recognise as the Winklevii from The Social Network. Julia Roberts, meanwhile, will get to use her grin for the greater evil as the queen, and Sean Bean will be her king.
The sneak peek: So far, only a shot of Lily as Snow White has been released. She looks very pretty, and very much the fairy tale princess.

Film 2: Snow White and the Huntsman, which IMDb says is "a twist to the fairy tale - the huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the evil queen."
The date: US release is set for June 1, 2012.
The stars: Kristen Stewart tackles this version of Snow White, while the titular huntsman will be played by Aussie spunk and Thor star Chris Hemsworth. Charlize Theron will play the evil queen, and Sam Clafin of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fame will represent the prince - looking decidedly more creepy than handsome here.
The sneak peek: Here's a glimpse of all the key players, which suggests that despite being based on the same story, this will be a very different film to the Collins version.

I'm excited for both films - they both seem to have great casts and unique takes on the tale. The fact that I'm not a fan of Kristen's acting makes me lean towards the first version, but then I also dislike Julia Roberts. But judging from the tidbits of the stories that have been released, the latter film does intrigue me a little more. What do you think?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bookish Buys: Pretty in Prints

There is a ridonkulous amount of awesome prints available on Etsy. Here are some of my faves...

Alice in Wonderland by Prrint

As You Wish by Zavalick Designs

Jane Austen quote by Tag Team Tompkins

Mr Darcy card by Little Minnow Designs

A Fairy Tale Ending by Type Posters

Harry Potter typographic print by Balanced Personality

Click Your Heels by Penny Wishes

Make Believe by Please Be Still

Yearning by In The Nook

Flying Lessons by The Gorgonist

The Secret Garden by Kate Fete

A Remarkable Book by The Little Chickadee

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Cross Sugarman

It's My Book Boyfriend time! This is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Missie at The Unread Reader, focusing on fictional boys that we wish were not so fictional. This week I've chosen Cross Sugarman from Prep by Curtis Sittenfield. OK, so he's a D-grade douche, but hey, he's freaking hot.* He's the star basketballer you crush on in high school but never get (except Lee does kinda get him, but they both do stupid things and it all gets kinda awkward). So he's not so much My Book Boyfriend as My Book Boy-I'd-Totally-Bang.

*There's a 90 per cent chance I chose him because to me he looks like Zac Efron, and I wanted to post shirtless pics.

Swoon-worthy Quotes

"The reality of Cross before me was jarring: his tallness, his pale skin and cropped brown hair, his blue eyes, which seemed to contain both intelligence and boredom... Cross Sugarman was the best-looking boy I had ever sat so close to. And this fact was both thrilling and mortifying."

"His hand cupped my shoulder, and there was the slightest pull, a pull toward him. I gave into it. My body fell against his: my leg pressed to his leg, my arm filling the hollow between us, the top of my head just below his collarbone... He touched my hair, first so briefly that it felt accidental; then his fingers raked through and started over again, and every so often, he rubbed the back of my neck with his thumb. My whole body was hot liquid; I felt beholden to him, and painfully happy."

"'I like your bed,' he said. How had this happened? Why was he here? And what if I did something wrong and he left? 'Except,' he added, 'it’s kind of hot. Hang on.' He pushed back the covers, raised his torso as if doing a sit-up, crossed his arms, lifted his sweater and T-shirt over his head, and tossed them away. 'There. Much better.' When he lay back down and pulled up the covers again, relief washed over me - I’d been afraid he was leaving altogether, but now (his shirt was off!) it seemed he was settling in."

"That was when, not unlike the way he had that rainy evening in the taxi three years before, he began to stroke my hair. He set his fingers against the top of my forehead and ran them back, smoothing out my hair against the pillow, then set his fingers against my forehead again. Over and over, back through my hair, the glide of his fingertips - I think that maybe nothing else in my life ever felt that purely, uncomplicatedly good. I couldn’t speak because I was afraid if I did, I might start crying, or he might stop doing it. I shut my eyes. After a long time, he said, 'You have nice hair. It’s really soft.' He ran his knuckles along the line of my jaw, over my lips. 'Are you awake?' 'Sort of,' I murmured. It was an effort to speak. 'Can I kiss you?'"

Giveaway: Celebrating 200 Followers!

I have officially reached 200 followers on my blog, YAAAY! I'm so excited; I was thrilled just to have two followers on my blog and now I have a hundred times that, so my mind is pretty much blown. You guys are the awesomest 200 people EVER.

To say thank you for being so awesome, I'm holding my first-ever giveaway! There will be TWO winners, who'll receive one book each - either The Princess Bride by William Goldman or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (two of my fave books).

All you have to do is fill out the form below giving me some feedback (killing two birds with one stone and all that). This giveaway is open to residents of any country that Book Depository ships to. It ends on Sunday, August 7th at 1pm AEST. The winners will be chosen via and will be contacted via email. Woo!

Giveaway has closed.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Well. That was heart-shattering.

I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at the raving praise Forbidden - the story of a brother and sister who fall in love - was receiving around the blogosphere. Sure, growing up on a steady diet of V.C. Andrews, I'm no stranger to incestuous relationships (er, in book form!), but they're not exactly the kind of stories that get resounding love and five-star ratings (unless it's on a trashtastic scale). So I was immediately curious when this one did, and decided to investigate for myself.

After reading it - and peeling myself up off the floor, where it left me in sobs - I realised that what makes this book so different from the likes of those written by Andrews and her ghostwriters (and it is ultimately VERY different) are the characters. Alternating between the viewpoints of the siblings in question, Lochan and Maya, you really get to know them, understand their choices - even if you can't exactly relate to them - and, most importantly, care about them. Plus, by grounding the star-crossed lovers in the very real situation of an abusive home (as opposed to, y'know, twins-separated-at-birth/rich-kid-kidnapped-at-birth/locked-in-an-attic-for-money), Suzuma takes a concept that's generally used for cheap titillation and turns it into a touching tragedy.

And what a tragedy it is. I should have expected it - I was warned that it'd be sad - but I was shocked and crushed by the end of the book. Just thinking about it now, I feel absolutely gutted. Which is a sign of a good book - something that Forbidden most definitely is. But I can't say it was an enjoyable read. It hurt way too much to be that.

Rating: 4/5

Spoilery Talking Points
  • Lochie. :-( It was because of him, more than Maya, that I was really drawn into the book. Such a beautiful, selfless, caring character! So, so, so sad. I'm GUTTED.
  • I was surprised that the mother didn't wake up to herself after everything that happened - she still pissed off back to her boyfriend's house in the end and didn't learn her lesson. The sad thing is there are plenty of mothers out there like that.
  • One thing I was impressed with in Forbidden was the exploration of the emotional side of Lochan and Maya's relationship. I've seen docos on GSA (Genetic Sexual Attraction) before and always been like WTF?! Even when the people on them were describing their feelings and how they couldn't help themselves, I remember thinking, "REALLY?! How about you just don't have sex with your brother. Is it really that hard?!" So I liked that Forbidden really made me think twice about the whole situation and see their side of the story. Though I still think it's all pretty icky, y'know, generally speaking.
Eye Candy
I pictured Felicity Jones as Maya and Nicholas Hoult as Lochie.

Fine Print
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2010
Publisher: Definitions
Get It: Book Depository

Pash, Pick or Pass: Hot Vamps

The Contenders
Three of my fave vamps - Edward Cullen from The Twilight Saga, Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries and Eric Northman from The Southern Vampire Mysteries.

My Choices 

Pash: Eric. Coz he pulls good string. I lurve him so, but with all the vamp politics, he's not really ideal boyfriend material. I'd sure pash the Viking out of him though.

Pick: Damon. He's a good guy at heart with all the sexiness of a bad boy. But the poor guy desperately needs some lovin'. And I'd be more than happy to oblige.

 Pass: Edward. He may have been my first vamp love, but he pales in comparison (literally) to the others.

Who out of Eric, Edward and Damon would you pash, pick and pass? Share your choices in your own post and leave a link in the comments, or reveal them directly below!

Next time: We play with The Princess Bride's leading men - Westley, Inigo and Humperdinck!