Wednesday 31 August 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Jack Force

My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader, all about fictional boys who make us swoon. This week my book boyfriend is Jack Force from Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series. While I didn't love the books, Jack is definitely worth a swoon or two. 

About Jack
  • Full name is Benjamin Force, Jack is a nickname. He's blonde, athletic, graceful and "painfully" handsome. Needless to say, he's the most popular guy in school.
  • He's a vampire and a fallen angel - and not just any angel, but Abbadon, the Angel of Destruction.
  • He's kind, sensitive and romantic, but due to his violent past he sometimes has anger issues. 
  • He loves reading, and one of my fave things about him is the way he romances Schuyler via hidden messages in books.
  • I picture him as Chace Crawford. 
Swoon-worthy Quotes

"She wanted to run to him - to skip, giggling into his arms - but she savoured the way he was looking at her. She could drown in the intensity of his gaze... Outside of this place, they could be nothing to each other. He would not even allow himself to look at her. He could not afford it. So she wanted him to enjoy himself, to look at her as much as he liked. 'Get over here,' he growled."

"Before she could breathe, there he was, solid against her, his warm lips on hers, his hands around her waist... she could feel his heart beating against hers and the intensity of the emotion exploding between them. She returned his kisses with an ardour that she did not know she was capable of - and he buried his face in her neck, as if he wanted to breathe in every part of her, and she buckled to the floor so that he fell with her, until they were lying down, still kissing, their bodies entwined like roots of a tree."
"Jack looked at her and raised an eyebrow. He looked so serious in the moonlight, but his eyes were teasing. They were sparkling. This was a boy who spoke through books: longing and exile - The Plague, banter and obstacles - Pride and Prejudice. He spoke her language. And with his hair tousled and his eyes shining, she watched as he held her arms above her head, so that she was immobile beneath him... Then he bent down and kissed her so gently, a feathery whisper that melted against her as she pressed her body against his."
Images via Chace Crawford Online

Note-worthy: Disney Princesses are the Best Role Models (Really!)

If you want to read my fangirling about the Disney princesses, head on over to The Uniblog, where I've written a guest post on how awesome they are. Coz, y'know, they're really awesome.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Guest Post: Batman Primer Part III - Batman's Rogues Gallery

Crystal from pop culture website The Uniblog is back to continue her series on all things Batman. You can read Part I here and Part II here. Over to Crystal...
The villains in Batman are what really set his world apart from that of most superheroes. They aren't generally very high-powered, they aren't looking to take over the world, and most of the time they are batshit (pun intended) crazy. Sanity, or lack thereof, is a topic explored at length in Batman; even the sanity of the Dark Knight himself has been tackled by many writers. So let's take a look at some of the most prolific and famous members of Batman's Rogues Gallery.

Catwoman, one of Batman's most recognizable villains, has gone through many changes since her creation in the 1940s. Selina Kyle is a cat burglar who has been a socialite, a hooker, and even an amnesiac flight attendant (wait, what?). She's Bruce Wayne's most prevalent love interest and, contrary to most of the villains in Gotham, she isn't generally a murderer or criminally insane. In recent years, Selena has been let into the inner circle of Batman lore by being in on his secret identity, and has already proven that under great duress, she could keep that secret.  

The Penguin is another very recognizable figure from the Rogues Gallery.  Like most of the lasting characters in the DCU (DC Comics Universe), he too has gone through many changes over the years. A rotund "bird" of gentlemanly style with a penchant for using weaponised umbrellas, Oswald Cobblepot may not seem very menacing, but he is one of Batman's oldest, most persistent enemies.  He is mostly a mobster and thief, but is not against killing should the situation call for it. These days, he is quite often seen running a nightclub, The Iceberg Lounge, as a front for his criminal activities.  Contrary to the Penguin of the Tim Burton films, The Penguin is not some sort of mutant, but a strange stout man who leans to the ugly side.  He is also sane, and in complete control of his actions, which creates a novel dynamic between himself and The Batman.

Mr. Freeze gets a bad rap from mainstream media today. The incredibly cheesy and inexcusably awful performance by "The Governator" Arnold Schwarzenegger may have ruined him a lot of people, but make no mistake, Victor Fries is as nuanced and interesting a character as comics are capable of. This wasn't always the case, as when he was created in the late '50s he was just a villain with a cold theme. When the lead writer of Batman: The Animated Series (which will be explored further in a future article), Paul Dini, reworked the origin of Mr. Freeze, he really took shape. Dr. Victor Fries' story became that of love and loss. His wife, Nora, had a terminal disease which he was attempting to cure. He had cryogenically frozen her to keep her alive until he could come up with a solution. Unfortunately, his funding was cut and the person who owned the equipment violently caused an accident between Victor and his cryogenic machinery, which changed him into the icy cold man he is today.

Two Face is another villain who is an almost tragic Shakespearean character in nature. Former Prosecuting Attorney Harvey Dent was a champion for justice in the corrupt world that is Gotham City. He was even a frequent contributor to cases that Batman worked on and was a friend of both the Bat AND his alter-ego Bruce Wayne. Dent had a dark secret though - a duel personality, and the side that was becoming more and more prominent was the dark "Big Bad Harv" persona. Then, depending on continuity, organised criminals either throw acid in his face or cause him to be in an explosion, but either way the result is the same: Half of his face is irrevocably scarred. The dark personality took complete control and Two Face was born, an organised criminal mastermind with an insane obsession with the number two. One interesting thing about Two Face: He uses a two-headed coin he got from his abusive father to make all of his decisions.  One side is scratched up and one side is clean, so if he is flipping to kill you, you better hope you don't get the scratched side.

Poison Ivy is the one of the most famous eco-terrorists in comics. She was used as a guinea pig by an insane professor who injected her with more poisons and toxins than a small army could withstand. Now she is attuned with plants in every sense. She feels closer to plants than people, she is immune to the poisons and toxins that created her and is an incredibly skilled biologist, especially with exotic and dangerous varieties of plants. She is a seductress and uses pheromones to snare her victims, and the poisons that naturally flow through her veins to take them down. Her (arguably) only human friend is her polar opposite - the light-hearted and sledgehammer-wielding Harley Quinn.

Harley Quinn is the clown mistress of crime. Otherwise known Doctor Harleen Quinzel, she was a physiologist who got through medical school mostly by cheating and seduction. She ended up getting a job at the infamous Arkham Asylum, where she planned on getting the dirt on some of their more "glamourous" criminals in order to write a tell-all book and make a mint. When she got the opportunity to treat the infamous Joker, it was just what she was looking for. In their session, The Joker filled her head with sympathetic stories, painting him as a tortured soul. The source of that torture?  Batman. Quinzel became infatuated with The Joker, and when he escaped she went mad with fear of what happened to her "Puddin". When Batman returned him battered to a pulp, she was driven completely over the edge. Helping The Joker escape in full Harlequin costume was her first act as a super villain. Now she is known for being almost as ruthless as the man who created her. Her insanity is based on her obsession with all things Joker; she is willing to put up with massive amounts of abuse from him, though as the years go on she has become more independent and has teamed up with Poison Ivy, Catwoman and even Batman for different adventures. Her popularity has even allowed her to carry her own comic series for a while.  

The Joker is THE most famous criminal in Gotham, and is Batman's opposite in every way. Where Batman represents order and justice, The Joker is chaos incarnate. He doesn't kill to be cruel (though he is cruel), he kills because to him, it doesn't matter - and that is the joke. His origin varies; the currently accepted version is that he was a poor comedian with a pregnant wife. Because he worries about supporting his family he gets roped into robbery. Unfortunately, before said crime transpires, his wife and unborn baby die in an accident, but he can't get out of the plan. The criminals make him keep his commitment to robbing a chemical plant. At the job, Batman shows up and scares him so badly he falls into a vat, causing his face to be bleached white and sending him the rest of the way into insanity. I tend to like a more mysterious Joker, where he is crazy because he just is. That is what makes him so menacing; he is just as likely to give you a hug as shoot you in the head.

There are many, many more villains to cover, but these are a few of my favourites. Others include The Ridler; a brilliant criminal mastermind who uses clues to outsmart the police and especially Batman. Killer Croc is a hardboiled giant with scales and sharp teeth, who at his best is a hired hand and at his worst is a cannibal. Bane an incredibly smart "roided-up" Caribbean super-criminal who arguably comes the closest to taking Batman out. If you want to learn more, Wikipedia is a killer source for info on all things comics.

The villains of Batman are my favorite part of Batman, and honestly what really got me into comics originally. They are varied and deal with the broken psyche in a dramatic but very human way. These are people who were driven over the edge and, generally, revel in their madness. They lead to one of the greatest debates in comics; is it having a Batman that created this breed of villain, or would they have existed in one form or another anyway?

Next Time: The Batman Primer IV - My Favourite Batman Media.

Thanks Crystal for another awesome post! I have to say the villains are definitely my fave part of Batman too - they're all so unique and intriguing. 

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, check out more of Crystal's writing and other fun stuff at The Uniblog.

Monday 29 August 2011

Mag Monday: Follow The Roses in Fine Taste

This fashion shoot from online magazine, Fine Taste, is just dreamy. I want to live in it.


Sunday 28 August 2011

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I was surprised at the strong reaction I had to City of Bones, the story of the mysterious underworld of New York City (no, not the mob - the paranormal). You see, it made me freaking mad.

I wasn't mad the whole way through, of course. At first, I felt kinda "meh", and wondered why everyone raves about the book so much - more specifically, the love interest, Jace Wayland (he just wasn't doing it for me)...

Then, about a third of the way in, I really got into the action and found it hard to put down. I loved Clary, the strong, smart, quick-witted protagonist, and Jace was growing on me. I enjoyed their relationship, and thought how refreshing it was that there were no apparent obstacles for them being together (though I did wonder how the tension would be sustained throughout the rest of the series)...

Little did I know there was a big freaking twist at the end...

Yeah, that about sums up how I feel about the book right now. I liked it overall; though there were a few inconsistencies in the plot, it moved along at a good pace and provided plenty of action, while the characters were all likable and real (er, as real as Shadowhunters can be, that is). I saw one twist coming a mile away, but there was another that, as you might be able to tell, I was NOT expecting. I usually enjoy when that happens - it's definitely a sign of good writing - but this one just made me very cranky. I nearly threw my book across the room, I was so mad; instead I just ranted to my poor fiance for five minutes while he nodded along with a bemused expression on his face that said, "I'm trying to look interested because it interests you, but really I don't care, because it's a BOOK." When that didn't satisfy me, I went to Google - yep, I looked up spoilers. They calmed me enough to make me want to continue with the series... but I'm still kinda mad.

Rating: 3/5

Spoilery Talking Points
  • There's not much I can say except... WTF?! I was not expecting incest in this book. I was most shocked that, in all the praise I'd read for it, I'd never come across any mention of this little twist. I wondered how everyone could swoon over Jace if he's in love with his sister. Which made me think maybe she wasn't after all, and sent me searching for spoilers. But I was still surprised the book ended with you thinking Clary and Jace are siblings... in love. Seriously, WTF?!
  • One thing I wasn't surprised about was Valentine being Clary's father. What a creep! I was kinda disappointed with Jace in the end when he so readily believed everything Valentine said... but then, I guess he'd be pretty messed up after the years of emotional and physical abuse he endured. That hunting bird story?! Yikes.
  • I'm sure there were other things I wanted to discuss, but I'm finding it hard to get past anything other than the brother/sister thing right now... Was anyone else as shocked or angry as me after reading this book?
Eye Candy
With Jamie Campbell Bower and Lily Collins cast as Jace and Clary in the upcoming movie, I automatically pictured them.

I think Lily totally works for Clary, but despite Jamie Campbell Bower's prettiness, Jace was coming off more creepy than cool when I pictured him. So I didn't get far before I switched to picturing...

Alex Pettyfer, circa 2008 when he had longer hair on his head and less on his face. Also, before I knew he was such a douche. Though the douchiness kinda works for Jace (well, the arrogant part of it anyway). As for the others, I pictured Nina Dobrev as Isabelle, Ethan Peck as Alec and Penn Badgley as Simon.

Fine Print
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
Published: 2007
Publisher: Walker Books
Get it: Book Depository

Saturday 27 August 2011

Reading Icons: Ava Gardner

Apparently, Ava Gardner once met J. R. R. Tolkien and didn't know who he was - but he didn't know who she was, either, so I guess that's fair. One writer she did know really well was Ernest Hemingway, whom she was good friends with. She starred in three movies based on his writing - The Sun Also Rises, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Killers. Oh, and according to Wikipedia she also swam naked in Hemingway's pool, prompting him to tell his staff, "The water is not to be emptied".

Thursday 25 August 2011

Bookish Buys: Wear Your Book On Your Tee

I love novelty tees! If you're not afraid to declare your inner nerd to the world, there might be something here for you, too (BTW, click on the links to buy and/or see a wider selection)...


Dark Cycle Clothing

Out of Print Clothing

Sandra Grafik

Red Bubble

Gold Label (I bought this tee specifically to wear to the gym. Yeah, I'm cool.)


Wednesday 24 August 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Prince Lir

My Book Boyfriend is hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader. It's all about fictional boys who make us swoon. This week my BB is Prince Lir from The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. He starts out as a bit of a "marshmallow" - sweet and soft - but love transforms him into a hero; slaying dragons, defeating dark knights, and sacrificing everything to save his sweetheart. He's pretty lovely. I pictured him looking a lot like Max Irons, who I'm slightly obsessed with right now.

Swoon-Worthy Quotes

"Marveling at his own boldness, he said softly, 'I would enter your sleep if I could, and guard you there, and slay the thing that hounds you, as I would if it had the courage to face me in fair daylight. But I cannot come in unless you dream of me.'"
"'You were the one who taught me,' he said. 'I never looked at you without seeing the sweetness of the way the world goes together, or without sorrow for its spoiling. I became a hero to serve you, and all that is like you. Also to find some way of starting a conversation.'"

"'Unicorn, mermaid, lamia, sorceress, Gorgon - no name you give her would surprise me, or frighten me. I love whom I love.'
'That's a very nice sentiment,' Schmendrick said. 'But when I change her back into her true self, so that she may do battle with the Red Bull and free her people-'
'I love whom I love,' Prince Lir repeated firmly. 'You have no power over anything that matters.'"

Review: Innocence by Kathleen Tessaro

I was excited to read this book, but sadly it fell a little flat for me.

A friend lent it to me because we share a mutual love of love stories, and after I made her read If I Stay (and she adored it), she insisted I'd love this one. The story definitely intrigued me - switching between timelines, it tells the tale of Evie as she is at 18 and at 33. At 18, she dreams of being an actress, is best friends with the larger-than-life Robbie and swept up in a passionate affair with wannabe rock star Jake. At 33, she's living in a sharehouse as a single mum, teaching acting classes for amateurs at night and being haunted by the now-dead Robbie. How she went from one to the other is slowly revealed and it's this that kept me reading. I had no problems with the plot, really - but the characters drove me bonkers.

I had high hopes of falling for Jake and being swept away with passion myself, so I was very disappointed to find him extremely unattractive. Oh, sure, he's sexy - but he's also douchebag drug dealer/manipulative asshat (side note: can you tell I'm currently reading City of Bones?). He raves on about how Evie's everything to him, but that's clearly not true. He cares more about drugs, music and himself, because that's what he chooses over her time and again. I would even say his relationship with Evie is emotionally abusive; it's not her he loves, it's how she makes him feel and the power he has over her. Even their first sexual encounter (and the only one detailed in the book) seems less about passion and more about what he can do to her and get her to do to him.

All of this made Evie's obsession with Jake extremely frustrating; even 15 years later, she's no longer with him but he's still haunting her - perhaps even more so than the actual ghost in her life. She's floundering and clearly extremely unhappy, with her scraps of unmet dreams and lost love piled up in a box under the bed. Hence the haunting; Robbie comes along with the message to not waste life because you never know when it will end. At least, I think that was why she was there. It's never firmly established; in fact, the haunting takes a backseat to a bunch of other things so much that each time Robbie pops up, I was like, "oh, that's right, this is a ghost story." In the end, all Robbie proved to me was what a horrible friend Evie was, making me like her even less.

Robbie herself is a colourful character, which is one of the reasons I would've liked to see more of her - dead or alive. There were some other secondary characters that I also enjoyed - namely pretty much all of the people Evie lives with as an adult. Piotr the pianist especially caught my heart; from the moment he was introduced I found him so much more attractive than icky Jake. But he wasn't in it enough to make up for the horrible relationship that dominates the majority of the book. To me, Innocence was not a story about love, or even about ghosts, but about the damage we can inflict on others. Not quite the bubbly chick lit I was hoping for.

Rating: 2.5/5

Eye Candy
I pictured...
Rachel McAdams as Evie

Gillian Jacobs as Robbie

Colin Farrell as Jake

Adrien Brody as Piotr