Reading, Living and Reviewing

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (October 15th to 31st)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Welcome to 17 full days of giveaways. 250+ blogs, which can be found HERE, will participate this year in the SPOOKTACULAR GIVEAWAY HOP. Take your time, but sure to enter all of them because each will give a prize valued at $10 or more.

MY GIVEAWAY
Prize: a $10 voucher on Bookdepository
Open Internationally
Ends on October 31st

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Sunday, September 07, 2014
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

Synopsis:
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life — dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge — he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues — and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew

Review:

I am proud to announce that this is the first book by John Green I decided to read and unfortunately might be the last. Although it was entertaining and I liked the fact that it was somewhat original when compared to other YA books I’ve read, the style of the author was not for me. It may be because the dialogue seemed to swing between childish to mature then back to childish.

I was intrigued by the beginning of the story, with young Quentin and Margo discovering the victim of a crime in a park, then in present days when they reconnect after many years and going on … well doing pranks on Margo’s former friends. Then Margo disappeared and another kind of story took off. I am a big fan of mysteries, but this time just didn’t work. The entire search for Margo was boring and in the end, it seemed pointless. I do understand the reason for this search, it was a way for Quentin to discover himself, but it seemed that this was the only purpose for Margo’s existence.

The problem is that I couldn’t like any of the main characters, but I enjoyed some of the supporting ones. I mean I enjoyed Quentin’s geeky attitude in the beginning, however things changed when he started obsessing over Margo’s disappearance. It’s not the quest itself that annoyed me, but the fact that in his search there was no one else for him. He did not care about his friends or his family and had only one goal. Again, I understand that this book is all about Quentin discovering himself, but that doesn’t mean that he needed to ditch his entire life, to go after Margo. I am sorry, but he seemed obsessive and ungrateful towards his friends when they finally said no.

Then there was Margo, who left a bunch of clues behind her, as if she asked to be found, but in fact she didn’t want to. Here is the thing, all her friends were worried, her little sister was worried, but…SPOILER ALLERT she was just pissed off because her friends tracked her down and eventually found her. SPOILER ENDED.

Maybe I would have cared more about her if she actually had a motivation when she decided to run away from home, not for the first time. I might be wrong, but what I understand is that she was sick and tired of her home town so she took off…repeatedly.

“I didn’t need you, you idiot. I picked you. And then you picked me back.”

The only characters I liked were Quentin’s friends. Yes, they were not properly developed, but in the rare occasions they showed up, I liked them. They were good, loyal friends, who even accepted to ditch graduation and tag along Quentin in satisfying his obsession.


The Ending
Well, it was disappointing. I heard many things about John Green’s novels and I honestly would have expected something more dramatic. That would have had more sense, that I would have loved. Instead, we get an unlikable character, being more unlikable.
 

Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Monday, August 04, 2014
“Whenever he looks at me with those big brown eyes, I feel like giving him a nut,” she said. She even started calling the squirrels running around in the park Mr. Whitmans.”

Synopsis:


Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. 

Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
My Review:
 
Every time I start a book is because I have very good reasons, ok? Like this time, I choose to read Ruby Red because of the cover, the pretty…pretty cover. I am weak I know, but my second reason was because I wanted a good novel about time travel and people recommended it to me.

Ruby Red is the first book in the Ruby Red Trilogy, a series about a girl who is a time traveler and the last in a circle of twelve. However, to dive right into the review: I loved the fact that Gwendolyn, the main character is aware of her family’s situation. She kind of knows about the time traveler’s gene and what it does and that her cousin Charlotte was prepared her entire life for this part, but something goes wrong and Charlotte doesn’t actually has the gene, but Gwendolyn has it.

I simply loved this book and besides the fact that it took me a little while to get into it and that some things were a little predictable, I cannot think of anything else wrong with it. I enjoyed reading about the myth of time travel in this book, the way the world was constructed and I absolutely loved the characters, even the slightly shady ones.

Gwendolyn, the main character, is funny, surprisingly, not annoying and has this thing for not following the rules. What I enjoyed about her, was the fact that she asked questions where there was needed an answer and she was the only one in the Order asking them and for some, this kind of curiosity is considered dangerous. She is definitely underrated. All those around her seemed to think that they were somehow superior to Gwen, but she seemed to be with one step in front of them at all times.

As much as I loved Gwendolyn, I hated Gideon. I am so sorry, but I could not stand him. I do not find the cocky, d-bag kind of guy attractive. He slowly wormed up to Gwen, but I was still not convinced about his intentions. Maybe I will change my mind in the next books, since he is the love interest and we will see him more.

The Love Story

Well, here is the thing: it had that kind of hate at first sight, slowly converted in love at second sight relationship. It’s not incredibly sappy, buy it wasn’t entirely believable and I couldn’t take it seriously. Do I need to mention again that I did not like Gideon so the love story was kind of meh for me?

The Villains

I don’t even know from where to start with this one. More than half of the characters look villainy. From Charlotte, the bitchy cousin and the aunt to Count Saint-Germain, whose sole purpose is to gain more power and probably eventually rule the world. His motivation is obvious and this is the part where things go predicable. The count is the main villain of the series, and even though we were not told what his plans are, it’s kind of obvious. 

“If we were in a film, the villain would turn out to be the least-expected person. But as we aren’t in a film, I’d go for the character who tried to strangle you.” 

Overall, it was a nice reading, fast paces, lots of mystery and a likable main character, a rare thing to find in a YA novel. I would recommend it especially to those interested in reading a nice story about time travelers. 

Barcelona – A Trip between Books, Coffee and Sweets

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

I started planning my trip to Barcelona a few months back and after I had finished adding all the things I wanted to visit, I was already bored. Don’t get me wrong, the trip was amazing, way more than I expected, but pinning every landmark, bookshop, coffee shop and anything in between was a daunting process. I had the feeling that once I’ll get there I will be strolling the streets without a map or GPS. Well, it wasn’t like that because I did manage to get lost. It’s a gift, what can I saysome have it, some don’t.

On my first day, I woke up really early, ready to explore the city. I hopped on in the Metro with one thing in mind – to get a coffee. Nearby the Diagonal Metro station, Starbucks was waiting for me with a fresh, hot coffee, the perfect way to start the day. I took my cappuccino with chocolate (for which I paid extra – like you pay at McDonald’s for a slice of baconbecause I was silly enough to think that they were giving it to me for free) to go because I didn’t want to waste any minute. After a couple of “turn right, turn left,” “that’s not the wayandhmm, I think I’m lost,” I finally found my first bookshop – La Central.

La Central is a bookshop with a wide selection of books in Spanish and a smaller, but eclectic selection of books in English and other languages. It’s also thought to be the best bookstore in Barcelona with five locations from which one is a café. Unfortunately, it was close, but I did make a couple of pictures from outside, as a reminder that not everyone gets up early as I do.

Inside the La Central Bookshop
I continued my way throughout the beautiful streets of Barcelona, passing by and taking pictures of important landmarks such as Fundacio Antoni Tapies or Casa Batllo – one of the most iconic monuments built by Gaudi. On my way to the famous La Rambla, I found another library, which obviously was closed, Llibraria Antiquaria Farre. I was sad to find it closed because they have a selection of rare and out of print books in a wide variety of topics, including first editions, hunting, law, cooking, magazines and vanguards.

Llibraria Antiquaria Farre
After an hour or two, I finally got to Placa de Catalunya, an enormous plaza located in the heart of Barcelona at the junction of Eixample districts and Las Ramblas. This magical square it’s not only an important transportation center, but it’s also home of a plethora of monuments, fountains, shopping centers and coffee shops.

Dazzled by the architecture and the smell of lime, I nearly passed by Happy Books, a bookshop located in Bari Gotic, on Portal de l'Àngel, a busy shopping street. The bookshop is one of the oldest in Barcelona, being founded in 1885 and it resembles a huge labyrinth split by arches leading to a new room with a new theme

Outside the Happy Books Bookshop

I found many interesting books, both in Spanish and English, but the most interesting things that caught my attention were the post-its with various quotations of famous people such as Aristotle, Cicero, Confucius and many others.
Post-it Panel with famous quotes
It was time to leave behind the bookshop and head back to La Rambla. I was eager to visit La Boqueria, Europe’s best markets, born somewhere in 1200. As years passed, La Boqueria became an important commercial supply for many restaurants as well as tourists and locals. It was praised by renowned chefs around the world like Ferran Adria from El Bulli Restaurant in Roses, Spain or Thomasina Miersfrom the Wahaka Restaurant in London or even writers like Manuel Vazquez Montalban. The market it’s like a gastronomic temple where you can eat and shop. There’s an abundance of seafood, fresh or salty fish, vegetables, fruits, herbs, sweets and wine. After drooling at every show-window, I left from there with sushi and spring rolls. I honestly couldn’t decide what to buy and even if I did, the lines were a bit long. It’s very hard to stop and look at something without being pushed by someone.

La Boqueria chocolate stand
Overall it was a great day. I enjoyed everything from the nicest people on the world to the cleanest streets I have ever seen. Don’t miss the part two of my Barcelona – A Trip between Books, Coffee and Sweets.

Bookshops Mentioned

La Central Bookshop
Carrer de Mallorca, 237
Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 09.30 to 21.30
Saturday 10.00 to 21.00

La Central del Raval Bookshop
Carrer de Elisabets, 6
Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10.00 to 21.30
Saturdays 10.00 to 21.00

Café:
Monday to Friday 10.00 to 21.30
Saturdays 10.00 to 21.00

La Central del Lliure
Passeig de Santa Madrona, 40-46

La Central del MACBA
Plaça dels Àngels, 1

Llibraria Antiquaria Farre Bookshop
Canuda, 24
Happy Books
Av Portal de l'Àngel, 5
Ciutat Vella, El Barri Gòtic

Cover Reveal: Checkmate by Diana Nixon

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Get ready, this is the latest book cover I made for the new book of Diana Nixon. I know it's not nice to brag, but I am really proud of how it turned out and I cannot wait to see it in paperback version. 

The book will be released on July 15th so you don't have to wait to much to read it. Rumors and the small sneak peeks on Diana Nixon's Facebook hint to the fact that the new novel will be HOT!

Check out and enjoy the First Chapter.


Synopsis:
       Smart, beautiful and ambitious, Scarlett Wilson never thought that trouble could be that irresistible. After she wakes up in a handsome stranger’s bed, with nothing but the vague memories of the night they spent together, her life changes tremendously. What she thought was the biggest mistake ever, turns out to be the only thing her body and mind would never let her forget.Who would have thought that the only witness to Scarlett’s night adventures would become the new head of her father’s company that she had been dreaming to head for years?
       The owner of the most gorgeous face and the most impossible temper ever, Dominick Altier will make the wildest of her fantasies come true…
      Is falling in love with the devil worth giving up dreams and betraying principles?
Will setting the rules help retain dignity?
Or will losing a match become the only way to win the game?

Full Cover
  
Cover Design by Amina Black
Follow the Author:

Review: Love Undone by Diana Nixon

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"God, if only his every word didn't sound like an invitation to burn the sheets. How the hell was that even possible to be just friends with someone like Daniel Farrell? A delightful picture of everything that any woman would love to see first thing in the morning..."

Synopsis:

     What would you do if all your memories were gone?     One day Kassie wakes up and realizes that her life is nothing but an endless emptiness…   
 

    One tragic incident takes away everything that she has ever cherished and loved: family, friends and all the best moments that she ever lived through.  
 

    Now everything seems unknown, including a beautiful stranger, whose mere look makes her heart beat faster.
 

    Who is that reckless and mysterious man? Is he just an old friend or an enemy? Sinking into the vortex of indescribable emotions, they will give in to the most irresistible temptation ever, just to fall in love with each other, again and again...


Review:
          I finished this book a while ago, but as soon as I finished it I couldn’t find the proper words to write a coherent review. I enjoyed Love Undone more than I would have imagined, as a matter of fact I am always pleasantly surprised when reading a book by Diana Nixon. That is mainly due to the characters. It’s so easy to like each of her characters, because they have a certain maturity that many characters from other books don’t have.

          This is the case of Kassie, who suffers from a kind of amnesia that doesn’t allow her to remember any recent events. She discovers new friends and the loss of loved ones. She starts off as an innocent, unknowing young woman and grows up quickly; becoming the strong woman she was before the accident. It’s impossible not to like her especially since Kassie is not that kind of character that is set off on drama.

          Then there’s Daniel, always there for Kassie. Some are tempted to say that he is a bad boy, but I cannot see him like that. Yes, he owns a motorcycle and a business and a bitchy girlfriend, but he had a tough life and worked hard for what he has. I love how he takes care of his sister and Kassie and the way he respects the memory of his best friend.

The Love Story
          Here is one thing about Love Undone: the love story flows naturally. The chemistry between Daniel and Kassie doesn’t feel forced because deep down inside Kassie’s heart, those feelings exist. They just emerge as soon as she gets to spend more time with Daniel. So no instant love here and I always appreciate this when speaking about Diana Nixon’s books.

Other characters

          As much as I liked the two main characters, I loved Emily. She is bright and so alive. She has her dark secrets, just like the others, but on the surface she doesn’t show them. Emily still feels the need to have fun, protect and help her best friend.

          Love Undone is the perfect read for those that enjoy a heartwarming love story, a story about remembering and reliving. Perfect as a summer read.

Guest Post: Top 3 Kids’ Movies of 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014
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Mr. Peabody and Sherman (March 7)

Meet Mr. Peabody, the smartest and undoubtedly most accomplished dog in the world, evident by the way he wears a bowtie and spectacles. This guy is a man of action – he can play dozens of musical instruments, speak every language spoken on this planet and is a Nobel laureate who has the distinction of advising heads of states on important matters. Enter Sherman, who is his legally adopted son. One fine day, Sherman decides to take their time machine (called WABAC) for a spin to impress his friend, Penny. As luck would have it, it leads to disastrous consequences – in the process, he rips a hole through the universe, managing to wreak havoc on some of the most important events of world history. Does Mr. Peabody come to the rescue? Watch it to find out!

Fast-paced and the wonderful use of 3D techniques make this a completely delightful movie to watch. As Mr. Peabody proudly announces, “There’s no doubt about it… every dog should have a boy.” And, if I may add, every boy and girl should go watch Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)

One of DreamWorks’ most widely-acclaimed computer-animated 3D action fantasy films, How To Train Your Dragon 2(HTTYD 2) is the sequel to the 2010 film based on the book series by author Cressida Cowell. Hiccup (the son of the Viking Chief) and Toothless (his friendly Night Fury dragon) make an indomitable pair, willing to risk their own lives to save the other. As they chart unmapped territories together while journeying through the skies, they chance upon a secret ice cave teeming with hundreds of new wild dragons. Danger is imminent – the villainous Drago has plotted a massive invasion. Will Hiccup, Toothless and the other dragon riders unite, to change the future of both men and dragons?

Touted to be the mother of all animated sequels, this movie is undoubtedly the most-awaited flick this summer. The Cannes film review sums it up this way: “Braver than ‘Brave’, more fun than ‘Frozen’ and more emotionally satisfying than so many of its live-action counterparts, ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ delivers.”

The Boxtrolls (September 26)

The Boxtrolls are a group of underground, cave-dwelling monsters who go about collecting all sorts of trash as a way of living. This community of quirky, naughty creatures has lovingly raised an orphaned boy called Eggs. Enter: Archibald Snatcher, the villain of the story (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley’s voice), who hatches a plot to exterminate the entire community at one go. The time has come now for the hero of the story – Eggs – to venture above the ground and ‘into the light’, to see if he can come up with a plan to save his family. The movie is based on Alan Snow’s novel for children called ‘Here Be Monsters!’

“In a town probably not unlike your own… Deep below the homes and cobblestones… Down, down through sewer tunnels and manholes… Exists a family of squares called the Boxtrolls.” Enough said. This movie deserves to be waited for.

Sneak Preview: www.theboxtrolls.com

Author Bio:
Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at kidslearninggames.weebly.com

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