avrelia: (Ship)
I am happy to announce that I finally managed to be in sync with the fandom, namely – I saw The Avengers in the opening weekend.

Coming home at 2 am was also a forgotten experience... As was seeing movie with my husband in the movie theater full of people, since I didn't realized how much I was used to watching DVDs and commenting aloud to him. (One awkward moment! Sorry, people in the audience).

So, it was very fun and exhilarating hours spent movie–watching. I cannot say that I absolutely loved it, but I do want more of it – more movies, more everything. And I decided to adopt the Avengers as my cousins, because they are a fun bunch for a adopted family (I know, Loki disagrees, but who cares).

reaction list with minor spoilers )
avrelia: (Zenobia)
1)I had a dream. Probably because I was on painkillers – ear stuff, very annoying. But. The dream was amazing: I was reading the most gorgeous, smart and witty graphic novel based on Wilkie Collins' novel Moonstone. With some science fiction/steampunk elements in it. And now I really want to read it in real life. And the adventures of Marian Halcombe (from Collins' Woman in White). Why didn't anyone written them?

2)I and P. finally watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, both parts. I liked the first part better than the book (nicely suspenseful), and the second part less than the book (the awe and the heartbreak in the book were more immediate, and there was more of Harry-unrelated Hogwarts Resistance). Now I feel the need to re-read the book immediately, and P. went and bought all eight movies (we didn't have them before).

3)I started to watch second season of the Lost Girl, and I am enjoying it very much. Now I finished episode 2.04, and... I am happy. I didn't know I needed it that much – weird Russian stuff that is not Random Weird Evil Russian Stuff, but character-related Weird Russian Stuff. Kenzi summons Baba Yaga – because she used to be terrified of her, and because she knows how (and because she is drunk and angry at Dyson, for Bo's sake). Of course, she ends up in Baba Yaga's hut, and has to defeat her herself, even though Bo and Dyson both are trying to help. We heard Kenzi speaking perfect Russian in the first episode, but while she doesn't hide it particularly, she doesn't advertize it, either. It's not a big deal. We can assume that she was born and learned to talk outside Canada, somewhere in former USSR – hence the normal Russian, but attended school in Canada – hence the perfect English. She grew up with Russian fairytales and silly kids' games. Summoning Baba Yaga this way was invented for the show, but we, at school at about 10-12 years did like to summon some scary stuff. Like the Queen of Spades and such. Using mirrors is also a good traditional way to stir some mystical shit. It is recommended to do only in twelve days after Christmas, though. But if you look in the mirror in the candlelight long enough, you could see your future husband or the devil (or your husband, the devil). So the fantasy stuff, while invented, felt organic to me. It also was genuinely creepy. But Kenzi dealt with it the best way possible.

4)Finished N.K. Jemisin's The Kingdom of Gods, the last book of the Inheritance trilogy. Liked it a lot, but I still think the second one, The Broken Kingdoms is my favorite of the three. I need to do a proper review, but when did I manage it the last time? If any of my friends want it, btw, it can be arranged. ;)

5)Watched Captain America. Was underwhelmed. I liked it – Steve, Old New York, Tommy Lee Jones, Fantastic Low-Tech, Peggy Carter... Except Peggy Carter was there just to be Steve's love interest, the only woman with more that one line of text. Other women were nurses or dancers. No female soldiers? Pilots? Whomever? Besides, I do always get a weird feeling watching movies about WWII where it seems that the war was fought by USA with their little helpers. I don't really expect anything from Captain America movie, of course, but it still feels weird – given the world domination plans of Agent Smith, to completely disregard the existence of the Eastern front. But the main underwhelming moment for me was that in the second half of the movie all the action became boring and perfunctory. It's like all the cool stuff was done, and they just had to fill up the time.

6)Looking forward to the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I don't care whether it's going to be good or just silly, I want to see Robert Downy Jr. And Jude Law enjoying themselves as Holmes and Watson.

Ringer

Sep. 16th, 2011 11:56 am
avrelia: Tuutikki rules (Tuutikki)
Well, I've watched Ringer. And it was interesting enough to watch more. So I am quite happy about. I am not sure whether it has the staying power - what will happen when all the mysteries are played out. And I cannot say I am hooked. I am pretty sure I wouldn't watch if not for Sarah Michelle Gellar, but she is there, and I'll be watching.

I actually don't think I've watched SMG in anything but Buffy before, and so the first moments felt like it is Buffy got lost some place. Of course that was not Buffy but Bridget. When we met Siobhan, I felt no Buffy traces anymore. Will see how SMG will grow in her roles. (I felt in the similar way with Eliza Dushku in Dollhouse - I guess the more I see actors in different roles the less I associate them with one role only).

To sum up, the pilot wasn't brilliant but good enough. Pretty much the way I hoped. Now I am hoping the show will get its footing and stay there. :)
avrelia: (a girl)
We finished Fringe, and here I try to sum my thoughts and feelings about the whole three seasons. Peter and I started watching it in March, and we done in three months. Impressive – for us these days. I knew some spoilers that picked up by osmosis from my friends and stuff I read. But spoilers don't matter until you really care about stuff that is going on. I didn't have much expectations, beyond the fact that it is supposed to be crazy and awesome. Well, it was. Mostly. The main thing, it was always entertaining, even when it was scary and creepy and sad.

I very much enjoyed their self-aware resemblance to X-files. Even the score reminding me the days of yore and the truth that was out there. One of the major factors in my enjoyment of the show was that I liked all the major characters. Olivia, Walter, Peter, Broyles, Nina Sharp, Astrid, Charlie...

The story itself - I knew to expect more later, so the earlier MoTW, crazy-science type episodes were all good enough for me. And I did like the crazy. I could suspend my disbelieve high enough to worry about plausibility – I love the shows about vampires, right? They only pretend that science here is in any way more realistic than demons of Whedon-verse.

Watching the whole thing at once is very different – I don't ask many questions, or don't dwell on them, as I knew there will be answers soon enough.

Of course, now, that I watched all that is so far, I can see, that many questions are left without answers for good, since the story went too far away in a completely different directions.

The change of direction didn't look sudden or completely unexplicable, but when I look back now I see how different the show was then, and I am not certain Fringe season 1 connects well with the Fringe season 3. And even if, overall the show got better, I am not sure I prefer the show where only three people int the Universe (both of them) matter.

Let me think back:
at first we had a show about random mysterious “pattern” events, which were loosely connected to William Bell and Walter and their experiments back then. Massive Dynamic was a menacing presence, doing mysterious menacing things under control of terrifyingly effective Nina Sharp.

There are groups of children Bell Experimented on in Iowa and Florida. And someone who awakes their talents that lead to terrifying events.

There is Jones who just wants to see Bell and ready to move the world and kill everyone to do it.

Then we have a show about menacing Other Universe. With Newton and the shapeshifters being all kinds of evil.

Then we learn the truth about Peter, and the impact that Walter had on the Other Universe, and the show turns into “It's all about the Bishops” show. Which is kind of lacking, by definition. Lots of things gets dropped off in order to fit in the character metaphor.
I generally like a story that is character-driven, and I can suspend my disbelieve very high and forgive a lot of plot holes for a satisfying character story. I mean, I am a Buffy fan, remember? I don't mind any hiding in the bushes wise folk with magical weapons as long it made sense on the larger scale.

But in the case of Fringe I felt very differently. Maybe because Buffy from the very beginning was the show about a girl to me, and Fringe was the show about people who work with weird stuff.

Which brings me to the end of the season 3. It kind of felt like the story has eaten itself – and the time loop was the perfect in this sense – except that it didn't make any sense plot-wise.

I listed all the stuff from season 1 that went nowhere. (the group of Cortexifan children is dying out horribly, and for no good reason – and whom they will protect us from?) But maybe it will. Maybe some stuff will pop up later and it all suddenly will make a perfect sense. But so far, it doesn't. There is no big picture. The story changed – maybe not suddenly and unexpectedly, but irreversibly. Most of the questions will never have answers, because no one will bother to think of answers that would connect all the dots.

I am not bothered much by it, really. I am just along for the ride and having a lot of fun. But seeing the fate of two Universes depending on which Olivia Peter chooses is actually boring.

ok. I thought that waiting a week would help me to gather all my thoughts and arrange them in a sensible order, but it's only getting worse. So I am posting this, and thinking in small chunks.

Like these ones: Lincoln Lee. Love him. A lot.

Generally, I want more of everyone's story.

Is it me, or is Our Universe People are much dorkier than their Other Universe counterparts?
avrelia: (Reading books)
I was happy to read this book. From the first page to the last page, even if there were happening horrible, scary things, even if occasionally I slowed down, something had kept me happy, something had made me run to the library to grab and devour the next book (just as happily), and now that something is making me jump in my chair waiting for the autumn release of the third book in the Inheritance trilogy. (The stories are self-contained, all right, they have different heroes and heroines, but they are all a part of the larger story). What was that something, then? The first heroine – Yeine, the short, dark-skinned warrior princess, the impossible odds she is playing, the emo gods she is dealing with (beside the humans with different degrees of meanness, ambitions and conceit. The wonderful world-building – the creation myth that feels both fresh and familiar, true. The language, not too fanciful and poetic, but rich and delicious just enough for my taste, the kind of language that does not obstruct the story, but makes it deeper. You just want more and more of it – and you get it, in the second book, The Broke Kingdoms: Another awesome heroine, Oree, a blind painter who can see magic, more emo gods, more horrors and heartbreaks and misery and beauty for everyone.
avrelia: (reading is hot)
One of the first cultural surprises, that happened after coming to Canada, was looking at the giant map of Canada for the first time, and finding out that the Klondike Gold Rush that I read about in so many Jack London's stories happened in fact, in Canada, not in USA. It felt just so American, you know, that even if there were mentions of Canada we jumped right over them. Not that I knew – or cared to know - a lot about Canada before moving there. It was the place north of USA, the land of randomly cool TV series (Degrassi and Les filles de Caleb) so, naturally I had a lot to learn. Finding Dawson city on the map was one of the first surprises.

I didn't want to re-read Jack London for a long time though, and when I did, last year, I had another surprise: one of my favorite pieces, and the one that is extremely popular and well-loved in Russia, Smoke Bellew is virtually unknown here. It is a later work, published in 1911-12, and Jack London himself called it a hack work, written for money. And yet, it is, I believe, great. I mean, I've read later London's novels that were over-blown, over-melodramatic and rather impossible. Smoke Bellew is none of those things. In fact, it combines the best of both worlds. It is a collection of short stories tied into unity by the same characters (both main and secondary), same time ( Klondike Gold Rush) and same place (Yukon territory). It escapes the the soggy plotting and other problems with novels that Jack London had – most critics agree that Jack London was much better with his short stories than his novels- and yet still allows for character development impossible in a short format.

Read more... )
avrelia: (синичка)
I like short stories, but I have trouble to read any collection of it whole. No matter whether it is a themed anthology, or “best of”, or one-author collection, I start out excited and run through several stories, and then I my enthusiasm fizzles out and I have to make myself read on, and them there are always some stories that are left unread – not necessarily at the end of a book, since I rarely read them in order. There are exceptions, of course. But all my latest science-fiction and fantasy short stories reading followed the same pattern. And I've decided to make piece with it. Yes, I won't read the whole collection, so what? I'll still read several whole short stories and get my fun.
The last attempt is the collection of best short stories by Peter S. Beagle's Mirror Kingdoms. I have never actually read anything by Beagle before, so I came with no expectations except that it was supposed to be awesome. And it was – some of what I read, anyway. I started withMy Uncle Chaime, My Aunt Rifke and the Blue Angel . And... You have to read this, it's amazing, and possibly beyond amazing. It's a very stark, very simple story and it touches something - our sense of wonder, our hunger for mystery and some deep-seated sadness. It is my favourite type of stories – when in our regular world something wondrous happens. There are other stories in the collection of that type, but none had a similar effect on me. It happens in New York of author's childhood, and the details are so vivid that I can feel everything the boy narrator sees and feels – Beagle's stand-in, his uncle Chaim, the artist, uncle's friend, aunt Rifke, the rabbi, and the city they live. It's an amazing story.

After that – I was not reading in order, but by accident, I had a totally unexpected treat. You see, my parents had a book, a part of science fiction collection, that I loved to read when I was about 10 or 12. It was an anthology of magical short stories by foreign writers (foreign to USSR ) It was mostly translations from English, but I think there was a Japanese story and something else non-English. The thing is, it all being in Russian and me not caring about names as much as about stories I hardly remember whose stories I read and loved. But I remember the stories themselves. (I probably could research it on the Internet, but it was never urgent, just a delicious memory.) Back to the book: I open one page, and I see a story from that book, from my childhood! Very much the same, translation notwithstanding. Come Lady Death.

Then there were other stories – some I liked a lot, some I was kind of meh about. All worthwhile read. And I read El Regalo – which I liked, and realized that I am done with this book. I am leaving it in a very good place and hope to come to it again some day in the future. There are still unread stories there. I might even love them, but not now.
avrelia: (Reading books)
This is the book I was looking forward to love. It had wonderful reviews from people I trust, it had that lovely mash of ingredients I love, it had an interesting magic concept... I read and was underwhelmed, and now, a month and a half later I can hardly remember what it was about. It is a regency novel with magic in it. But it seemed that the regency part and the magic part were too diluted to give space for each other that that the whole book seems too empty. I liked the characters well enough, but they didn't look significantly different or memorable which makes me sad. There are definite allusions to Jane Austen – who else we start thinking about when reading a book set in early 19th century England? But comparison isn't flattering – for all their simplicity, Austen's novels are so rich – in details, in characters, in humour, in inner connections between everything. This story feels like an enchanted mural, an amusing illusion that would dissipate by the nest day, by comparison. But maybe it is supposed to?
So we have not-so young Jane, who is plain, but has a great talent for magic and art. And we have her young sister Melody who is very beautiful, but talentless. Both are somewhat resentful of each other and both have formed attachment to one gentleman (don't remember the name). There is also his very young sister, another dashing your officer, a disapproving viscountess with her long-nosed daughter, patient father, silly mother, and the regular assortment of figures one can find in any book set in the era. There is also an artist who is making a glamural for the viscountess and is angry with Jane for prying into his secrets. So we have all this fun ingredients – and nothing fun happens. Oh, the book moves smoothly from one chapter to another, with no loss of momentum, no straying of your attention everywhere, but when you get to the end, nothing much stays with you, either.
It is not a bad book. It is not uninteresting book. I probably suffered from my own overblown expectations. But I don't really feel like ever re-reading it.
avrelia: (Books are yammy)
This is the book I was looking forward to love. It had wonderful reviews from people I trust, it had that lovely mash of ingredients I love, it had an interesting magic concept... I read and was underwhelmed, and now, a month and a half later I can hardly remember what it was about. It is a regency novel with magic in it. But it seemed that the regency part and the magic part were too diluted to give space for each other that that the whole book seems too empty. I liked the characters well enough, but they didn't look significantly different or memorable which makes me sad. There are definite allusions to Jane Austen – who else we start thinking about when reading a book set in early 19th century England? But comparison isn't flattering – for all their simplicity, Austen's novels are so rich – in details, in characters, in humour, in inner connections between everything. This story feels like an enchanted mural, an amusing illusion that would dissipate by the nest day, by comparison. But maybe it is supposed to?
So we have not-so young Jane, who is plain, but has a great talent for magic and art. And we have her young sister Melody who is very beautiful, but talentless. Both are somewhat resentful of each other and both have formed attachment to one gentleman (don't remember the name). There is also his very young sister, another dashing your officer, a disapproving viscountess with her long-nosed daughter, patient father, silly mother, and the regular assortment of figures one can find in any book set in the era. There is also an artist who is making a glamural for the viscountess and is angry with Jane for prying into his secrets. So we have all this fun ingredients – and nothing fun happens. Oh, the book moves smoothly from one chapter to another, with no loss of momentum, no straying of your attention everywhere, but when you get to the end, nothing much stays with you, either.
It is not a bad book. It is not uninteresting book. I probably suffered from my own overblown expectations. But I don't really feel like ever re-reading it.
avrelia: (reading is hot)
Midnight Never Come (Onyx Court, #1)Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


1)I loved it. It's probably not a brilliant book, but I don't care – it has that magical quality of pulling me right in and not letting go until the last page. Your millage might obviously vary, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I cannot say that I am a huge fan of Elizabethan time and fairies (I love them, but not with passion), which probably helps, since I cannot catch any historical details that might be different from reality. Nothing spoiled my fun. The language is simple and flows perfectly, the story is engaging and stays powerful throughout.

We are introduced to two court in England – the court above, the court of Queen Elizabeth Tudor, and the court below London in the Onyx Hall, the court of the Fairy Queen Indiviana. We follow the fortunes of Lune, the lady who lost the favour of the fairy queen and tries to return it – or at least survive. And we follow the fortunes of a young courtier Michael Deven, who
seeks fortune at the court of Queen Elizabeth Tudor, and - of course – his fortune gets entwined with Lune's.

Love is the main engine for this story, and the straightforwardness of it works very well. There is a fine sense of mystery and wonder, there are intrigues and power play, and friendship and loyalty and pride, all tangled in one fine mess, and in the end, the fae world doesn't look that much different from a human one. Oh, fairies are different enough to be instantly recognizable as such, and they are immortal and cannot abide the mentions of the God and the toll of church bell's, but they are still not alien. The author does a fine job of not really describing them – we can imagine them to our taste, but she does say that the fae we are reading about are close to humans in looks and manners as fairies can. There are others, less human-like, in looks and nature. Maybe we'll see them later.



View all my reviews

TiMER

Oct. 20th, 2010 11:33 am
avrelia: (Default)
(re-posted from LJ)

One of the pleasures not available to Canada is Netflix. There are lost of things that more than make up for its absence, of course, so it’s that we were lacking entertainment because of it, but now - since we can have it - we amuse ourselves by looking for things to watch there, we wouldn’t watch otherwise.

One of those finds is TiMER. I learned about its existence from here: http://io9.com/5642348/timer-and-the-trope-of-destructive-prescience, and immediately wanted to see it - as it is available on Netflix steaming video. Read more... )

TiMER

Oct. 18th, 2010 01:20 pm
avrelia: (alphabet)
One of the pleasures not available to Canada is Netflix. There are lost of things that more than make up for its absence, of course, so it’s that we were lacking entertainment because of it, but now - since we can have it - we amuse ourselves by looking for things to watch there, we wouldn’t watch otherwise.

One of those finds is TiMER. I learned about its existence from here: http://io9.com/5642348/timer-and-the-trope-of-destructive-prescience, and immediately wanted to see it - as it is available on Netflix steaming video.

For the first five minutes I had a feeling I am in Buffyverse AU, where Anya and Halfrek are working on some hapless male together. The feeling passed soon, and I got used to seeing Emma Caulfield as Oona, the orthodontist who is looking for her soulmate. Here is the thing - in this world it is assumed that everyone has a soulmate, and it is easy to find it - you only have to implant a small device into your wrist, called TiMER, and it starts a countdown to the momentous meeting with him or her, and when your soulmate is in the range, a pretty tune will alert both of you. Sounds perfect, isn’t it? No more heartbreak, unrequited love, plummeting divorce rate and so on. But, of course, they bring completely new problems. Oona’s TiMER isn’t yet started the countdown - and she is almost 30 - which means that her soulmate hasn’t yet got himself a TiMER. Her stepsister and the best friend Steph, also at 30, has a dozen more years till the meeting with “the one”, so she spends the waiting time with one-night stands. Their brother meets his soulmate three days after getting the TiMER, at 15, and well, nobody is happy.

it is not a romance, or a romantic comedy. I would say it is a scifi comedy about love. It tries to explore predestination, and love and how can our behaviour would change if we know our future. It poses questions without suggesting right answers. Oona and Steph both try to defy their screwed TiMER-ed futures. And their brother is facing the future that is already all settled for him at 15. Is love still exist? Are people slaves to their own technology or just to their own believes? Are there no more second chances? How to love a person when you know they are meant for someone else?

The turns and twists are rather predictable, but that doesn’t really spoil the fun of poking at the predetermination and love. And it is always a pleasure to see Buffyverse alumnae in starring roles and episodes (Kali Rocha). The movie is not groundbreaking or too deep, but quite solid and fun ride to no answer.
avrelia: (Reading is cool)
My first impressions are here

I finished the book a week ago, and I have very mixed feelings about it. It is the type of quirky fantasy with a bit of romance that I should fall in love with. I didn't, and I feel uncomfortable about it, as it failed me even though it didn't owe me anything, but I am still annoyed.

First of all, the fact that the heroine is a brain twin of Amelia Peabody, and the hero reminds strongly of her Emerson, doesn't help. They are probably the homage, but I feel that they are clones, and I'd rather re-read “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters in the fifth time. (you should, too, it's delightful).

Alexia and Lord Maccon work together as a romantic pair, but they felt to me kind of “meh”.
My major gripe is with the soul stuff. The book is called “Soulless”, and I kind of expected more exploration of the matter. What is the soul, what does it mean in that Universe? It is said that Alexia doesn't have a soul, which she was told at 6, and she read Greek philosophers to acquaint herself with the moral implications of that fact. But the thing is – it all falls empty, a tantalizing promise that never gets fulfilled. Alexia has a pronounced effect on supernatural beings, an effect that is attributed to her lack of soul. Except this is the only effect, and I reasonably suspect that either the soul here is something different from I am used to consider it, or the basic theories of her world are wrong, and Alexia does indeed have a soul, and her soulless effect is caused by something else. It might be explored further in the next books, but I was waiting for more soul stuff from the book that is called Soulless. After all, it would have been interesting whether good manners can be a person's moral compass. How love would look like without the soul in that world? What is the soul, anyway? Those are all questions I asked myself when I picked up the book, but I didn't find them – not even the questions themselves there.

Reading went much slower than I expected, and at the culmination I was frankly bored. Not a good sign.

What did I like? I liked the world, the atmosphere, the new and different take on vampires and werewolves, and their effect on human history and politics. I liked the scientific ideas of the supernatural. The world, of course, pretty much didn't exist beyond British Isles and North America, but that goes with the mores of the time, and a topic for the following books, anyway. I wrote previously that I was tired of vampires, and I still am, but I wasn't here. The ecology of supernatural beings among humans was very different and very interesting from what we are used to.

So, when all is said and done, my resume is that it is why it fails for me personally, I can recommend it for my friends, or for any lover of romance and Victorian fantasy. I won't guaranteed that you fall in love with it – I didn't, but it is a glimpse into a curious world. I will be checking out the second book as soon as I dog through my immediate to-read pile.
avrelia: (Books are yammy)
After several months of fighting through The Windup Girl I was longing for something light, fluffy and cheesy, so I got myself Insatiable by Meg Cabot. Happily, I was able to get it from the library - imagine that, only a month after release!

Anyways, it is all that promised - light, fluffy and cheesy. Except I couldn’t read it - I am so over vampire romances. (Yes, Whedon’s vampires are a huge exception to me.) I liked the beginning when it seemed more of a quasi-vampire story, but as soon as love started I got bored. So I jumped ahead, and well, there are really good pieces there, but also there are quite a lot of vampires. And I am just that tired of them and their problems. (I LOVED reading everything about vampires when I was a teenager - duh! ) One thing that I really loved was the notion that a vampire always want to kill you dead - especially when they love you. And being dead sucks. Out of all the characters I now remember - and therefore think it was the most interesting character - the vampire hunter. He is a good guy, but annoying and psychotic, and you enjoy seeing him suffer, even though you want his side to win. About the girl of the book, I cannot say anything at all. Except that she has a healthy disgust for vampires until she meets the best of them. And her head is a mess. Which makes her super-special.

No, it is a good summer read. Two weeks after returning it to the library I cannot remember anything more substantial than a Marc Jacobs’ tote that the heroine coveted. And the fun fact that the events took place fifteen streets south from where I live at the moment.

I watched Buffy vs. Dracula after that and the parallels very hilarious, (obviously, they used the same Bram Stoker novel as the source of fun), and the differences telling.

by the way, my very favorite vampire novel? A Russian quasi-prequel to Stoker’s Dracula, written in the beginning of 20 century, anonymously. Very trashy, very cheesy, very entertaining. Lots of mists, water lilies, and the goddess Kali.

Inception

Jul. 25th, 2010 04:09 pm
avrelia: (Reality)
I went and watched Inception. The first movie I watched in 2010 and in USA. I need to find some company to go to movies together, because going alone is not the same, especially when I want to talk about it afterward.

Anyway, that’s what I have LJ for. I liked the movie well enough to watch it the second time some time in the future. I loved the actors involved and they did a great job. I don’t like much Christopher Nolan’s work, but this was probably most watchable of all. I wasn’t bored for two plus hours, the suspense was suspenseful enough to keep me on the edge of my seat literally, even though I knew it was a movie and not real. There were pieces of action that were too long - I think the chase in the snow plodded on meaninglessly, but the slow fall, the piece in the hotel starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and others were awesome. incoherent ramblings )

Now, onto spoilers; with more ramblings about dreams )
avrelia: (short circuit)
I have just finished the Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi having spent many painful hours on this book. It is a very good book – it won Nebula award and is nominated for Hugo, both justly deserved. It is also a very difficult book to read and love.
One of the reasons is that I need characters to care about, and here... it is not that there were none of those, but none to carry the weight of a protagonist. The story followed fates of several: a businessman, an old Chinese refugee, a titular windup girl, and two corrupt Thai officials. It was not a character story, after all, it was a... situation story, I would say. Not unlike mystery novels in a way. Only the question was not who murdered X, but what the hell happened?
Another reason why it was hard to love and painful to read book, because it is misery porn. Not because of actual porn involved (though there pages and pages of sexual abuse description), but because this is the world where things cannot get better, they only can get worse, and after a while I started to wish it all blew up already. And the book delivered.
Now, for spoilers.Read more... )
avrelia: (Reading is cool)
I really like Tanya Huff's books that I read, but I haven't read many of them. A strange thing. Several months wait from the library over, and I went through it in three days with great pleasure
Then I read reviews on Amazon, noting yet again, that when I like a book I agree with 4-5 star reviews, and when I don't like I agree with 1-2 ones. And it is absolutely impossible to use Amazon for recommendations, but okay to figure out what I liked and disliked in a book - if I was left with only a vague feeling instead of sharp analysis of my own.

Anyways. I loved this book, and what I liked the most was the same I liked in all Huff's books I read: cool and likable characters, snappy dialogue, vivid imagery and sharp details. Details make me relate to the world Huff's characters live in and feel quite at home - whether it was mentions of some Canadian realities, brands or problems, or pop culture ones (like Joss Whedon and World of Warcraft).

So, what is about? A young woman that inherits a junk shop in Calgary from her grandmother, her gigantic magical family, her insanely powerful aunties that rule the family and would be ruling the world if they were not too nice for it 9so they just make the world to accommodate to their wishes), her cousins, her lovers (mostly the same cousins), her love, her growing up, dragon princes, fate of the world in one Canadian city, and everything else in between. The scene with hunting evil monkey paw through the shop reminds me powerfully of some mummy hand scene, and it is also a bonus in my opinion.

There is a system of magic that we don't get a full picture or detailed explanations, just glimpses - the females' roles and powers are divided by their maiden/mother/crone status, men are literally AND figuratively horny, and there is sex. It sounds cheesy and may turn someone away, but in the story it made perfect sense to me.

The story is finished, but I hope Tanya Huff will return to this family and the rest of the characters. There are a lot of fun cousins to write about. And then, of course, there are dragon princes - gorgeous, powerful, bored, clueless... I'd love to see more of them, too.
avrelia: (Brain - SB)
I finally watched 2.04 episode of Dollhouse, and I have weird thoughts about. Of course, the announcement of the cancellation of the show just went up, but it is not a particularly shocking surprise for anybody, I think. So, back to the aired episodes.
Read more... )
avrelia: (Reading is cool)
I remember there was a meme going on and as a part of it I was asked about my opinion on chick lit genre. I answered then that I like the books but hate the name "chick lit". Now I came to the conclusion is not the "chick lit genre" as it is, but as I want it to be: a light, fluffy and humorous story centered on a female protagonist - or several protagonists, with or without a romantic subplot. In fact, there are some books that fit this definition that I liked, "English as the Second Language" by Megan Crane, for example. And those I hate to call "chick lit".

The most of it though, seems to be all about brand-names, shoes, shopping and glamorous life of whomever, and I am desperately bored just to leaf through them at the bookstore. Of course, one may always said that 80% of every genre - or mainstream literature is crap, but in the case of chick lit they do represent the essence of the genre for the public. When we think about fantasy, we think about "Lord of the Rings", when we think of "Chick lit" we think "Devil Wears Prada". Which is telling, right?

So, I think I should put it this way: I love light and witty books about women, I don't like "chick lit".

In my travels I saw "Nanny Diaries" - the book, not the movie - for $1 and bought it, figuring that it won't be a big loss if I don't like it. I mean, here is another shining example of the genre, and maybe it really is as good as it is popular. No, I didn't like it. I haven't even finish it - though I did check the ending. There are so many reasons why I disliked it, and they all covered by hundreds of one- or two-star reviews on Amazon. To be fair, there are much more positive reviews there.

So what did I hate?
Nanny Diaries review )
avrelia: (Reading is cool)
Quite recently I had my annual rereading of Georgette Heyer - a kind of tradition of the last several years. The books read this year:

Cousin Kate - I read it for the first time, and didn't like it much. It was not a romance, but a thriller with elements of a romance, and it didn't quite work for me. The insanity has just brought sadness, and the mother's drive - anger, and the romance itself didn't quite work, and I can hardly remember Hero and Heroine by now... It wasn't bad, but flat I would say.

False Colours - now that was a pleasant surprise. I remembered it (from reading many years ago) as a twins' switch and mistaken identities and fluffy problems of young and dashing. But now I decided that this book just cleverly pretends to be about twenty-something twins, but instead the heroine is their mother ( I have to admit, all names flew out of my head), and it is her life and her romance that have the highest stakes here. The love affairs of her sons are pretty much uneventful - even when Kit pretends to be his titled brother and falls in love with brother's fiance, the problem is resolved soon enough (the fiance, Cressida is not stupid - which I love- and soon enough knows whom exactly she is in love with), and since then their problems have more technical character - where is Eve, the other twin, and how to exchange back without anyone noticing. The problems of their young and beautiful mother, however, are more of ontological character - how is she to live? She likes not being married to her late husband, but she hates being called Dowager, and she finds it impossible to live with her daughters-in-law, or alone, or with any female companions, plus she is extremely impractical, and have accumulated massive amount of debt that just keeps growing... Good thing she can always hit upon a solution that looks crazy but works out quite happily.

Overall, when reading lots of Heyer in short period of time, one starts noticing some things and getting confused in others. For example, some stories I can never remember whether I read them or not. Some stories I didn't want to finish, and some I keep rereading over and over. I skimmed through Heyer's biography once, and I remember an author made a suggestion that Heyer had two types of heroes and two types of heroines and paired them up in different combinations. It looks true, however I don't quite agree - I think it is more like she had several sets of qualities and character traits that she mixed and matched creating characters either interesting or forgettable. Another thing is that when I read Georgette Heyer and p.G. Wodehouse together, I had a distinct impression that their character inhibit the same universe - not ours, but another, the happier one, where Freddy (from Cotillion) is a direct ancestor of Berty Wooster.

The class notions are as troubling as they a regency-appropriate. I mostly suspend my frowns, but occasionally I cannot help being annoyed by them.

My current favouries:

The Grand Sophy - it has a monkey, one of the best heroines, and a host of the most ridiculous characters and situations. One thing that doesn't sit well with me is that that Hero and heroine are first cousins. not good for their progeny in genetic sense.
Frederica - great fun all way round
A Civil Contract - not a romance, but great novel about married life. Plus, it was fun to read about pregnancy and babies - to compare and contrast, so to say.
Cotillion - an unlikely hero, an adorable heroine, good cheers
the Foundling - I feel for the poor Duke! And cheer up for him ;)
Sprig Muslin - I usually read the last third of it, because the heroione's family is abominable, and deserve the big smackdown.
False Colors

Books that everyone likes. but me:

These Old Shades - May-December romances are not my thing, plus I don't quite enjoy old rakes settling down.
Venetia - I love the heroine, but not the hero - a woman broke his heart, and now he is a rake, and glomps on an unsuspecting heroine because he thinks she is not noble enough? no, thanks.

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