Monday, August 31, 2009

Review: Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell


Candace Bushnell is undoubtedly a tour-de-force in the world of chick lit, a writer whose novels are constantly referred to as examples of why women act the way they do, which especially rings true in the case of New Yorkers, single or otherwise. Her first novel Sex and the City, essentially a collection of her already published articles for the New Yorker Observer, redefined the genre of women's fiction and spawned a TV show that achieved cult status.

Ten years later, fans of Bushnell's sharp writing are treated to another major novel about single women, their careers, relationship and the habitat that is New York City. This time, the women are slightly older and wiser. Wendy Healy is the president of Paradore Pictures, a movie studio, and also an unhappy wife and mother. Nico O'Neilly, the most powerful woman in publishing, is trying to balance her extramarital affair with her sky-high ambitions when it comes to her career. Finally, fashion designer Victory Ford is trying to recover from the disastorous reviews her last collection has just suffered.

The novel is as glamourous, steamy and light as anything Bushnell has written before, but it also has a sense of start and finish, unlike her more jumpy novels Sex and the City and Four Blondes. The world of the rich and priviliged rings true, and it is not hard to jump right into the craziness of the world these three ladies live in. Although some plot elements seem uncalled for, or even grow tedious (particularly in the case of Wendy, whose marriage problems never seem to catch our attention), the novel works. Bushnell has long been a gliteratti connaiseur, but now she goes a step further, bridging the gap between her characters and her readers, as well as providing a stronger social commentary.

Finally, Lipstick Jungle works because of its characters. These three 40-something women are a welcome distraction from the pallette of silly, dumb chick lit protagonists we have been served lately. Wendy, Nico and Victory are all women on top, and although they struglle with a variety of life problems, they would never step down and let men do their job for them. In other words, they are bitches and proud of that. They would not whine about working for Miranda Presley - they would suck it up and ultimately take her down.

Lipstick Jungle has also been adapted for a TV show, starring Brooke Shields, Lindsay Price and Kim Raver.

RATING: 4/5

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Giveaway Winners - The Eight & The Fire by Katherine Neville


I would like to thank each and every single one of you who left a comment in order to win one of these amazing books. Two lucky winners have been selected randomly, and here they are!

The Eight goes to Sheila, of BookJourney.
The Fire goes to Linda Ellen, of BambiReads.

Congratulations to the lucky winners - I look forward to reading your reviews. The book should be sent your way soon. Also, there is a new giveaway coming your way soon, so make sure you enter for another chance to win a fantastic book!

Thanks to Lisa Barnes and Katherine Neville for making this giveaway possible.

Review: The Fire by Katherine Neville


My Katherine Neville giveaway may have ended (still waiting for the winners to reply), but this does not mean you shouldn't pick up the sequel to one of the most talked-about books in the past twenty years. Katherine Neville's The Eight took the world by storm in 1988, breaking all the literary rules, and twenty years later, the sequel is finally available for us to enjoy. If you like strong female characters, mysteries, danger and puzzle-solving, The Fire will delight beyond all expectations.

The books picks up some twenty years after The Eight ended. After a tragedy, young Alexandra moves away from her mother Catherine Velis, and is shocked to find out her mother disappeared as soon as she tried to organize a rather strange birthday party. It is not soon before Alexandra first hears of the infamous Montglane chess set. Not long after that, she finds herself in the middle of an unsettling, dangerous game of unimaginable proportions. The story overlaps with the journey of Haidee, the daughter of an Otoman ruler, who must make sure a valuable artifact stays far away from dangerous hands. In standard Katherine Neville fashion, the historical stories features such real-life characters, such as Lord Byron and Thomas Jefferson.

The sequel to The Eight has taken twenty long years to write, and the depth of research the author is famous for definitely shows on the page. Many elements from different cultures and time periods are combined here, and although the plot is not as tight as it could have been, it is a page-turner worthy of anyone who likes the thrill. A strange hybrid of Dan Brown and Tracy Chevalier, Neville manages to lure the reader into her seductive, yet dangerous world, and with her impeccable writing style overcome most of the faults this book might have. The pacing can sometimes be off, and the historical part is not as engrossing as it had been in the first instalment, but The Fire will surely stand the test of time, just like its predecessor has. Any Katherine Neville novel is a literary event to be cherished.

RATING: 4/5

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Awards!

It has taken me an embarassing amountof time to get around to post anything, since I am in the middle of exams. I am not even reading as much as I usually do! But everything in life is easier when you are acknowledged, and that is exactly the warm, fuzzy feeling I got from five wonderful bloggers this past week. Thank you for spreading the positive vibrations!

The Let's Be Friends Award
(thank you Jessica & Sheila)

Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers.

This award goes to~
Jenn-ay
Lisa
Melissa
Alyssa
Ryan
Margo
Wendy

The Super Comments Award
(thank you Sheila & Melissa)

The Super Comments Award is for those who you can always count on for a comment.

This award goes to~
Jenny
Lizzy
Ryan

The Lemonade Award
(thank you Lisa & Melissa)

The Lemonade Award is a great way to show gratitude!

This award goes to~
Bookin' With Bingo
Jenn-ay
Allie

The Me to You Award
(thank you Jenn-ay)



This award goes to~
Lizzy
Sheila
Melissa

Thanks again!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Review: Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley


I have recently seen many book bloggers praise Dan Begley for writing a chick lit book. I find this really strange, since Ms. Taken Identity is not a chick lit novel. Yes, it is true that Begley's protagonist writes a novel about fashion, makeovers and women. But Dan Begley himself has written something far more rarer, especially for an American writer - an easy-to-read book about life, women and relationships written from a man's point of view, also known as a lad lit novel.

Ms. Taken Identity is about Mitch Samuel, an academic whose life is not the way he wants it to be. His dissertation on the subject of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is moving too slowly, he has a new student who is bugging the hell out of him, his girlfriend broke up with him. On top of that, the manuscript for his serious, epic novel has been turned down everywhere. Soon enough, a serendipitous moment unites Mitch with Katharine Longwell, the best-selling chick lit author, to whom he spins a story about a fictional cousin who has just finished a book. Smitten by Mitch, Katharine offers to help Mitch's cousin get the book published, and now it's up to him to write the novel in record time. Things get even more complicated when he goes about trying to understand women by taking dance classes and one woman in particular catches his eye.

In its genre, Begley's debut novel is a great read. It is obviously no literary fiction, but it is a fun, exciting ride from start to finish. The author breathes life into his characters - Mitch is a bitter academic in need of a personality makeover. Even when he does atone for his actions, he does not lose that fun, sarcastic note he has had since the very start. Also, the character of Katherine is a lot of fun to read, as she is a two-dimensional character at first, until Mitch realizes she may not be so trivial at all, which is when we can see there is certain depth to who she is and what she does.

The most impressive thing about Ms. Taken Identity, however, is the way Begley blurs the lines between the genres. Using the stereotypical chick lit elements, he writes a lad-lit novel, thus making us wonder if Mars and Venus are really that far away from each other. There is a little bit of Nick Hornby here, especially when it comes to posing as a different person as a result of your own insecurities, as well as Tony Parsons, most evidently in scenes between Mitch and his estranged father. However, Ms. Taken Identity is a work of Dan Begley - a witty, talented writer, whose debut novel suggests that he is not far away from becoming American lad lit royalty.

RATING: 5/5

Thanks to Dan Begley and Melissa Bullock.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teaser Tuesday #2


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MiZB at Should Be Reading.

Here are her instructions:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is my teaser this week...

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (I'll hopefully finish it soon, so it won't be too long before I post the review):

The breakfast was almost as silent as the supper of the preceding night; but their musing was at length interrupted by the sound of the carriage wheels, which were to bear away St. Aubert and Emily. Valancourt started from his chair, and went to the window; it was indeed the carriage, and he returned to his seat without speaking. The moment was now come when they must part.

Review: Pillow Talk by Freya North


Please note: I have not finished this book. However, due to time constraints, it is not likely I will finish it any time soon, so I wanted to review it and will come back and possibly edit this review once I am done with it.

Although I understand that most of chick lit is fluffier than fluff, and just as literary important, I sometimes enjoy reading books that would fall into this category. Some, I liked a lot - Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding, MaryJanice Davidson... Some I liked a lot less, and Freya North's Pillow Talk falls into this category.

Pillow Talk tells the story of Petra, a somewhat lonely jewelery-maker in London, who doesn't seem very independent. She has an arrogant boyfriend, egocentric parents, and on top of that, she sleepwalks, which often gets her in trouble. She also fondly remembers her high school days, when two of the best things in her life happened. One, she took care of a wise, old lady, who taught her a lot about life and its intricacies. And two, she was romanced by Arlo, the frontman of a teenage band who also entertained her with his guitar during her pottery lessons. It isn't long before Petra accidentally runs into her high school sweetheart during vacation, and this is when the romance starts.

Obviously, Pillow Talk is not a heavy, important read, and thankfully, it doesn't pretend to be one. However, one can't easily overlook its flaws. First, the character of Petra is not very likable. She used to be an opinionated, headstrong girl back in high school, but now, she is indecisive and too romantic for her own good. The book is also full of stock characters, as well as some rather superfluous plot lines. On the other hand, the character of Arlo is well-conceived, and Petra's flashbacks to the conversations she shared with the old lady are nice as well.

If you need a pool-side book, or something to read and not think a lot, Pillow Talk could be great. However, I would advise you to pick up something that moves more quickly and is less corny.

RATING: 2/5

Award: B-I-N-G-O

Lizzy, whose blog Historically Obsessed I absolutely adore, thought my blog was "neighbourly", and presented me with an award, which I am to forward to five bloggers. Thank you so much Lizzy!

And here are my picks:

B: Beautiful, Today I Read
I: Informative, My World
N: Neighbourly, Wordsmithonia
G: Gorgeous: Hist-Fic Chick (try saying that four times in a row!)
O: Outstanding: The Eclectic Reader

Monday, August 17, 2009

Award: The Zombie Chicken Award

Many, many thanks to the wonderful Melissa over at her blog, who awarded with my very first award EVER! Melissa, thank you for choosing this little corner of the blogosphere to award, you really made my day! Here is a little bit about my award.

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by coosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

Here are the 5 people this award goes to:

Lizzy J, over at http://historicallyobsessed.blogspot.com

Amanda, over at http://zenleaf.blogspot.com

Jenny, over at http://takemeaway-jennala9.blogspot.com

Sheila, over at http://bookjourney.wordpress.com

Elizabeth, over at http://ebogie.blogspot.com/

What Are You Reading Monday? #1

What Are You Reading Monday? is a weekly event hosted by J. Kaye’s Book Blog to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week.

The previous week was absolutely crazy for me! Starting my own book blog, trying to stop procrasting when it comes to studying for exams that are now way too close, as well as learning about so many great books from fellow bloggers. No wonder I didn't actually read much.

I did finish Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson. Feel free to check out my review here.

I also started reading The Mysteries of Udolpho, a long, gothic 18th-century novel by Ann Radcliffe. This is something I have to read for school, but still, it is rather interesting and I like it so far. Also, I started listening to the audiobook of Ellen Degeneres - The Funny Thing Is... It's too bad I won't be able to finish it any time soon. FInally, Freya North's Pillow Talk is still being read after roughly one month, simply because I cannot get around to it. You guys should expect these reviews soon, as I plan on finishing these books by the end of the week.

So, what are you reading?

Review: The Eight by Katherine Neville

I have already reviewed The Eight for Suite101 (you can find the review here). However, since I am hosting a giveaway of both this novel and its sequel, I thought it would be nice to revisit the book and write a new review, which should speak better to the readers of this blog.
The Eight was originally published in 1988 and caused quite a stir on the literary scene. Before this novel, there were no such books like The Rule of Four, no such writers as Dan Brown. Katherine Neville's novel was innovative on many different levels - it had two parallel storylines, it blurred genre boundaries, posing as historical fiction, romance and literary fiction at the same time. Finally, it used historical figures as characters, deliberately throwing them into a plot that mixed conspiracy theories, mathematics, history, literature, and of course, chess.

Retelling the story of The Eight is not an easy feat, because of its many layers. It is safe to say that it follows two female protagonists, one living in modern-day New York City, and one living in France at around the time of the French Revolution. The modern-day hero is Catherine, a computer expert and chess enthusiast, who is suddenly sent to Algeria on business. While there, she gets involved in dangerous, seemingly random situations that are all somehow connected to a mythical chess set. On the other hand, we have Mireille, a novice nun in 18th-century France, who is sent on a mission, along with her cousin Valentine, to scatter what appear to be figures from an ancient chess set. Many important historical figures appear along the way, including Robespierre, Napoleon and Katherine the Great.

The Eight is not a paranormal story about witches, sorcerers and their powers. Rather, it is a book that uses the clever metaphor of chess to portray the ways people act when confronted to danger, and how easy it can be to progress, or on the other hand, get into harm's way. This is all packed into an engaging thriller that will leave your head spinning after each chapter, all the way until the very end. The characters are all made out of flesh and blood. Although they are essentially the good guys, our heroins soon learn that in order to win this deadly Game, they need to take a few detours themselves. Apart from them, the supporting characters are amazing as well, especially Catherine's romantic interest, the mysterious - and quite possibly dangerous - chess master Alexander Solarin.
Katherine Neville's groundbreaking novel has often been called the female answer to Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose", as well as the novel that defined the genre of Quest Novels, by that influencing many of today's writers, such as Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling.
RATING: 5/5
To win a copy of The Eight, click here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Sit-Down #1


Sunday Sit-Down is a wonderful book meme hosted by Book Reviews by Bobbie. In a nutshell, it serves as a recap of whatever has been going on on one's blog during the week. For more information, visit Bobbie's blog.

This has been a big week for Nikola's Book Blog, since it was born on Monday! Here is a list of things that happened since then:

3 Book Reviews: Notes on a Scandal, Pants on Fire, Undead and Unwed

1 Book-to-Movie review: Angels and Demons

1 Giveaway: The Eight & The Fire (ends August 28th)...

...also, lots of interesting memes, comments, giveaways, blogs I now follow and interesting people!

And today, I won a giveaway of Philippa Gregory's new novel, The White Queen, over at Historically Obsessed. I cannot tell you how happy this has made me - it was a cherry on top of a fantastic cake. Big thanks to Lizzy, you really made my week. And everybody, make sure you visit her fabulous blog!

Also, big thanks to all of you for reading and thus cementing my will to blog about books.

xoxo

Nikola

Sookie Stackhouse Box Set

Brande over at BookJunkie is hosting an amazing international giveaway. One lucky reader will win the Sookie Stackhouse box set! So what are you waiting for, head over to the giveaway here!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Book to Movie Review: Angels & Demons


People tend to misunderstand Dan Brown a lot. First, there are people who read Brown's books as if they are history books. They most definitely are not. Secondly, there are people who do not realize what they are reading - fictional thrillers with elements of sci-fi and/or history. These people groan through the books, thinking they are ridiculous and stupid. If you belong to either one of these groups, you will not like Angels & Demons.

In its book form, Angels & Demons comes before The Da Vinci Code, which was adapted for the silver screen back in 2006. In its movie form, however, it plays as the sequel. After being involved in a big religious scandal that is at the core of Da Vinci, symbologist Robert Langdon is surprised when he is invited to Vatican to help them solve a mystery. It seems like a container of antimatter, a cluster of highly explosive particles has been stolen from a research laboratory in Switzerland and is now planted somewhere in the Vatican. This is thought to be a work of a long-forgotten secret society, the Illuminati. Also, the pope has recently died, and the four strongest candidates have been kidnapped.

The Da Vinci Code was a big commercial success, but it was butchered by the critics. This movie has been graded only slightly higher. In truth, it's much less faithful to the book than Da Vinci was. I was annoyed to see very much of the book's fascinating information about history, science and the city of Rome cut from the movie. On the other hand, there are also some moments from  the book I was glad didn't make it into the movie - namely, Langdon's gravity-defying stunt. All in all, this movie is more focused on being accessible, fast and suspenseful. For the most part, it is. The special effects are impressive, the cast list is almost as good as last time, especially due to Ewan McGregor's enthused take on the role of the late pope's student, and it's just violent enough. However, I would have liked to see more flesh-and-blood characters (sadly, no Audrey Tautou, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany and Ian McKellen this time around), as well as more history, cryptography and secrets.

GRADE: 4/5

Friday Fill-Ins #1


Friday Fill-Ins is a fun weekly book meme. Why not join in?


1. When will my review copy of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre arrive?

2. Undead and Unwed was the last good book I read or movie I saw or TV show I watched.

3. Everything has its beauty but not everything tastes nice.

4. Fish is what I had for dinner.

5. I'd like your comment, or at least for you to enter my giveaway.

6. At the seaside is where I want to be right now. 

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to doing some more studying, tomorrow my plans include a lot more studying and Sunday, I want to watch Angels & Demons!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Booking Through Thursday #1


Booking Through Thursday is a weekly book meme that changes every week (you can find them all here).

This week's question: What’s the worst book you’ve read recently?
(I figure it’s easier than asking your all-time worst, because, well, it’s recent!)

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Fortunately, I don't read a lot of books I hate. I usually have a good hunch about the book I'm about to read, so I'm rarely disappointed. However, the second installment in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga, New Moon, left me a little cold. After setting up the stage so gloriously in Twilight, the author doesn't do anything with her characters in New Moon. Although it's far from being a bad book, it was a disappointment for me. And why include another love interest so soon after introducing the first one?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Giveaway: The Eight and The Fire by Katherine Neville

I have exciting news for all of you!

One of my all-time favorite authors, Katherine Neville, has decided to give away two of her smash hit bestseller novels, The Eight and its sequel, The Fire (a copy of each). If you haven't read either of these books, you better sign up, because you have no idea what you have been missing out on! Her novels transcend book genres and all the readers' expectations, with tight plots, gripping action and some of the best characters in modern literature!

Synopsis of The Eight: New York City, 1972—A dabbler in mathematics and chess, Catherine Velis is also a computer expert for a Big Eight accounting firm. Before heading off to a new assignment in Algeria, Cat has her palm read by a fortune-teller. The woman warns Cat of danger. Then an antiques dealer approaches Cat with a mysterious offer: He has an anonymous client who is trying to collect the pieces of an ancient chess service, purported to be in Algeria. If Cat can bring the pieces back, there will be a generous reward.

The South of France, 1790—Mireille de Remy and her cousin Valentine are young novices at the fortresslike Montglane Abbey. With France aflame in revolution, the two girls burn to rebel against constricted convent life—and their means of escape is at hand. Buried deep within the abbey are pieces of the Montglane Chess Service, once owned by Charlemagne. Whoever reassembles the pieces can play a game of unlimited power. But to keep the Game a secret from those who would abuse it, the two young women must scatter the pieces throughout the world. . . .

Read my review of The Eight here.

Synopsis of The Fire: Colorado, 2003: Alexandra Solarin is summoned home to her family’s ancestral Rocky Mountain hideaway for her mother’s birthday. Thirty years ago, her parents, Cat Velis and Alexander Solarin, believed that they had scattered the pieces of the Montglane Service around the world, burying with them the secrets of the power that comes with possessing it. But Alexandra arrives to find that her mother is missing and that a series of strategically placed clues, followed swiftly by the unexpected arrival of a mysterious assortment of houseguests, indicates that something sinister is afoot.

Albania, 1822: Thirty years after the French Revolution, when the chess service was unearthed, all of Europe hovers on the brink of the War of Greek Independence. Ali Pasha, the most powerful ruler in the Ottoman Empire, has angered the sultan and is about to be attacked by Turkish forces. Now he sends the only person he can rely upon–his young daughter, Haidee–on a dangerous mission to smuggle a valuable relic out of Albania, through the mountains and over the sea, to the hands of the one man who might be able to save it.

I cannot even tell you how excited and honored I am to be able to share these two masterpieces, written by the incredible Katherine Neville. I will review these two books again specifically for this blog in short time. Winners are also encouraged to review the novel. Until then, here are the giveaway rules:

1. The giveaway is open only to people with addresses in the U.S. and Canada.

2. The giveaway will have two winners - one for each novel.

3. The giveaway will be open until the 28th of August. The books will then be shipped by the publisher.

4. In order for you to enter, please comment on this post, and make sure you leave your email address. No email, no entry.

5. You can get special points by doing the following:

+2 if you write a blog post about the giveaway

+2 if you add the link to the giveaway on your blog's sidebar (UPDATE! 3 points if it's a graphic - feel free to use the one from my sidebar).

6. The winner will get either one of these two books, but if you are interested in one in particular, make sure you include that in the comment.

Please, include the links in your comment.

Many thanks to Lisa Barnes and Katherine Neville for making this giveaway possible.

The giveaway is now closed (70 comments total). Thanks for signing up. Winners will be notified shortly.

Review: Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson


The worst thing in the world is to have a bad day. Imagine being laid off from your job and getting killed in a car accident, all on the same day. Now, imagine the horror of waking up not soon after that, realizing that although you died, you might not be dead all the way. This is what happens to former model Betsy Taylor, the heroine of MaryJanice Davidson's Undead and Unwed.

Ms. Dickinson has crafted one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is quite obviously a chick-lit novel, with enough designer names and stock characters to make Helen Fielding blush. But Undead and Unwed is also a paranormal romance, as well as a hilarious spoof on the popular vampire novels de jour.

Betsy Taylor is a great heroine, and she is the one who carries the novel from start to finish. She provides us with nothing but side-splitting dialogues and thoughts. As soon as she comes back from the dead, she starts thinking of hilarious ways to die again. Her biggest fetish in the world is shoes, and she is horrified when she finds out that her stepmother had stolen all her Manolos. And finally, she can't help but lisp every time her fangs come out.

The supporting characters are well-written as well, although rather marginalized. Betsy has the hots for Eric Sinclair, another vampire, although he doesn't quite live up to her moral standards. Her best friend is a millionaire named Jessica, who along with their new gay friend Marc, decides she should become Betsy's sidekick in fighting crime.

All in all, Undead and Unwed serves enough laughs to make your stomach hurt, but is also a very quick and depthless read. Also, it features a couple of sex scenes that border on pornographic, which I thought were either hilarious or clumsily executed.
Rating: 4/5

Wish List Wednesdays #1

All book lovers have a list of books they want, right?


Rupert Everett - Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins

(I wanna read this book so much I'm gonna die!)

Gregory Maguire - Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Dan Begley - Ms. Taken Identity


So what's on your list?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review: Pants on Fire by Maggie Alderson


Maggie Alderson's novel Pants on Fire has all the qualities of a successful chick lit novel - a great set of characters, funny one-liners and a gay best friend. What makes it even better is that it wisely sidesteps the clich├ęs of the genre, and serves as a fast, funny, thought-provoking, warm read.
Pants on Fire is a story about a spunky London girl named Georgia Abbot who, after being cheated on by her lying boyfriend, moves to Sydney in hope of a fresh start. There she starts working for a glossy woman's magazine and starts living the crazy life of the Sydney glitterati. It is not soon before Georgia finds out that men can break your heart regardless of the location, and that she needs to take matters in her own hands.



What I thought was rather refreshing about Pants on Fire was its realistic feel. The book seemed like a hybrid of Sex and the City's coldness and Bridget Jones' idealism. The characters in the novel are downright crazy - Georgia's colleagues at the magazine are either alcoholics, drug addicts, nymphomaniacs or have severe eating disorders. The men in her life are not much different. But what Maggie Alderson managed to find at the bottom of all of them is heart, and that is exactly what makes the reader like this novel.



Although there are a couple of repetitive situations in the book, as well as some mildly pathetic moments, there is nothing bad enough for me not to recommend this book to you. If you like reading about wild parties, extravagant characters (Georgia's best friend Andrew being my absolute favorite) and a lonely cowboy or two, make sure you pick up Pants on Fire.

RATING: 4/5

Teaser Tuesday #1


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MiZB at Should Be Reading.

Here are her instructions:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is my teaser this week...

Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Dickinson (soon to be reviewed):

A few days passed without incident, which was apparently too much for my ol pain in the ass, Jessica, and my new pain, Marc. The excitement of my return from the dead had died down, no vampire baddies had come knocking, my relationship with my stepmother and father remained the same (she ignored me, he sent checks), and that was just too darned staid for my pals.

Monday, August 10, 2009

How Many Have You Read?

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How does your reading habits stack up?


I saw this on A BookLovers Diary's site:


Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!



1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen ()

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (X)

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (X)

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (X)

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee ()

6 The Bible ()

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte ()

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (X)

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (X)

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (X)

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (X)

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy ()

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller ()

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ()

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier()

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X)

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ()

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (X)

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ()

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot ()

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell ()

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald ()

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens ()

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ()

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams ()

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh ()

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky ()

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ()

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame ()

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ()

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (X)

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis ()

34 Emma-Jane Austen ()

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen ()

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (X)

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein ()

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ()

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ()

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (X)

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (X)

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving ()

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ()

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X)

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ()

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ()

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding ()

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ()

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel ()

52 Dune - Frank Herbert ()

53 Cold Comfort Farm ()

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen ()

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ()

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ()

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens ()

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley ()

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon ()

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (X)

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov ()

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt ()

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold ()

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas ()

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac ()

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ()

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (X)

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ()

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville ()

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (X)

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett ()

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson ()

75 Ulysses - James Joyce ()

76 The Inferno – Dante ()

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ()

78 Germinal - Emile Zola ()

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray ()

80 Possession - AS Byatt ()

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens ()

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ()

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker ()

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ()

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert ()

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ()

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White ()

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (X)

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ()

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ()

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad ()

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (X)

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ()

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams ()

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole ()

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ()

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas ()

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X)

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl ()

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo ()

Well I've read 24! How many have you read?

*Thanks to Natalie for tagging me! Since I don't have any close blog friends, I will simply tag the ones I like to read:

Ladybug

Jenn-ay

The Eclectic Reader

Review: Zoe Heller - Notes on a Scandal


Having seen and loved the film version of Zoe Heller's critically acclaimed novel Notes on a Scandal (What Was She Thinking?), I am not sure why it's taken me such a long time to read the novel. And I didn't read it - I devoured it.

The story is narrated by an older woman named Barbara Covett, a bitter aging spinster who works as a high school teacher. She tells the story of Sheba Hart, her colleague from school, who pursues an extramarital affair with a 15-year old student. As the various events unfold, Barbara tries to get as close to Sheba as possible, hoping they would have an everlasting friendship.

What is both astounding and unsettling about Notes on a Scandal is how nothing is as it should be. For a woman who fornicates with a minor, Sheba is surprisingly unhurtful and naive. The relationship she has with Barbara is also very out of the ordinary and could easily be understood as romantic, save for all the practical reasons. And finally, as Barbara shares the events with us, the readers will slowly witness her own predatory features that may be even more dangerous than Sheba's.

Shortlisted for Man Bookers Prize, Notes on a Scandal (What Was She Thinking?) is a book well-worth of your time if you can handle some really unusal characters, situations and perceptions. The novel has been turned into a critically acclaimed film of the same name, starring Cate Blanchett as Sheba and Judi Dench as Barbara.

RATING: 5/5
Notes on a Scandal is my entry for the "One Half of the Year Gone… Whats your Favorite read in ‘09 to date?"contest. For more information, click here.

Welcome to my book blog!

Welcome to my brand new book blog!

The creation of this blog is really only a series of fortunate events. While promoting my older blog, viciousworld. (the title turned out to be true, since I had around zero traffic on it), I accidentally stumbled upon a wonderful community of book lovers. These people review, recommend and give free books - what more do you need? I instantly realized that in order to be a part of this vibrant community, I had to make a book blog myself, and the rest is history.

I solemnly swear that I will try and make this blog as organized, interactive, interesting and fun as I possibly can. I do read a lot, but there is a twist - as a student of English language and literature, I often need to read the classics. Since I am planning to post about every single book I read, the blog might be of special interest to those interested in reading the classics. Just a thought.

Thanks so much for reading!

Nikola