Archive for October, 2012

October 31, 2012

Daughter’s Lament

Come in, come in my father dear,
And spend this hour with me.
For I have a meal and a very fine meal.
I fixed it up for thee, thee.
I fixed it up for thee.

No I ain’t coming in,
No I ain’t coming in.
To spend this hour with thee.
For I have to go down in the mines.
I’ll return this night to thee, thee.
I’ll return this night to thee.

Then she got her arrow and her bow,
Her arrow and her strings.
And she went down to the forest deep,
And sweetly she did sing, sing.
And sweetly she did sing.

Up spoke, up spoke, a mockingjay
Up from a willow tree
Saying you have a father in the mines
Who’s gone this day from thee, thee.
Who’s gone this day from thee

Woe be, woe be, mockingjay
Woe be, woe be, to thee
I’ll send an arrow through your heart
For to bring such news to me, me.
For to bring such news to me.

Up spoke, up spoke, that mockingjay
Don’t waste your time with me.
Go home and mind that pretty little girl
Her father no more to see, see.
Her father no more to see.

Then she went home to her house that night,
That house so cold and mean.
And she held her sister close to her side,
And never more did sing, sing.
And never more did sing.

October 30, 2012

Santa Giovanna d’Arco

Joan of Arc statue in Rome

I spent kurban bayram in Italy with friends. On our last day in Rome, I came across this statue while looking for the Aventine Keyhole. We were on a hurry to visit all the places on our list before airport transfer so I didn’t really pause to have good look around. But the expression on the statue’s face caught my eye. She looked so serene in her simplicity. Later I got one of my friends to take a picture of me with it imitating the same expression (no, I won’t post it here because I failed miserably). It’s only now as I thought of posting it here that I zoomed in to look for a name. “Santa Giovanna d’Arco” is the inscription. I ran a search on Google images and there you have it… It’s Joan of Arc pronounced in Italian. One really should treasure life’s little serendipities such as this one. I have always liked the character of Joan of Arc ever since I found out about it because her character might have been an inspiration for Rose of Versailles‘ Oscar. I was fascinated by her story, which resulted in a small obsession phase including encyclopedia searches and watching movie (directed by Luc Besson) and TV (starring Leelee Sobieski) adaptations. And years later, in the most unlikely place and time, I found myself drawn to her statue without knowing its identity. I feel like I should be grateful. I really am.

October 16, 2012

Best Love Scene: A Statement

Just reread the cottage scene in Seduce Me at Sunrise and came to a sad realization: There can’t be a better one. There just can’t be. No, it simply doesn’t exist and no, I won’t start babbling about The Romantic again. Kev and Win’s moment of consummation is unparalleled, unique. The passion, the sweetness, the tenderness of these two souls when they are finally joined just makes tears well up in my eyes. It’s too intense.

But maybe… Just maybe, there can be another one (I’m sounding like the magical mirror of the witch queen) that may rival it. Only that for 40 years it has been left to the imaginations of fans worldwide to fill in the gaps between those 8 (the exact number is open to discussion) beautifully drawn pages that we all anticipated with great exuberance. Dear Rose of Versailles fans, It’s safe to show your selves…

October 16, 2012

Oh please…

Brief Poem by Stephen Morris

:D Ingenious, isn’t it?

October 15, 2012

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #4

Lady of Sin by Madeline Hunter

The following review contains spoilers. Click here to read the spoiler-free version.

“It does not matter that you choose not to speak. I do not need words to know everything about you.”

*sighs girlishly* This is a typical but very good Madeline Hunter novel. It has good, solid characters, witty dialogue, delicious scenes and intriguing emotional depth. So far I have read books from Hunter’s Rarest Blooms, Rothwell and Seducer series and I think the last one, which this book is a spin-off of, is the best.

All excerpts from the book © Madeline Hunter All rights reserved

First off, the hero and the heroine… My two primary reasons for reading a story.

Charlotte is not the ideal heroine. She is caring but doesn’t have a strong character which makes her selfish and craven. Her weakness in facing the challenges that befell her family urges her to take refuge in marriage with an ordinary man of poor health who dies a couple of years later. Following an unusually long mourning period, Charlotte finds herself in a self-made cocoon. Her weakness in character has driven her to find peace in widowhood. But after a while, she feels trapped and suffocating in her little world where she has deprived herself of the slightest happiness for fear that she might get hurt. So she does something very bold and dangerous: she attends one of Earl of Lyndale’s orgies. There she meets an anxious-looking Nathaniel who, she knows, just lost a case for the first time and his client is to be hanged. Nathaniel cannot recognize her because she is wearing a mask but he can see through her solitude. And the two troubled souls find salvation in each other for a night. The silent understanding between them, the vulnerability that they both feel and don’t care to hide made my heart ache. I love “living in the moment” scenes and this was simply beautiful.

Her behavior at that party had been shocking. Ruinous. She had thought that one person would not condemn her for it, however. Her lover that night would not see any sin. She had assumed that the man she embraced was as far removed from that salon as she, transported to a private world where an intensification of life’s energy existed and where souls replenished their vitality.

It was very sweet of Charlotte when she later on (being the first chapter of the book) visited Nathaniel to keep him company on the day his client would be hanged. But since the two cannot stop arguing (as we know from The Romantic), the hour was far from peaceful. I usually tolerate the cliche where the hero and the heroine can’t get along well at first and then fall in love, which is the case for Charlotte and Nathaniel, but here I actually liked it. The duel of words between the two were delightful to read. They bickered continuously and after a while things really got out of hand… in a different manner.

“Forgive me. It was stupid of me to think you might need company, when clearly all you required was that decanter.”

“It was not stupid. It was very kind. Quite soft, actually. A very warm, womanly gesture. I am touched.” He smiled softly. “However, if you truly want to help, if you really want to distract me, there are better ways. When I saw that dress, I dared hope you had realized that.”

When Nathaniel realizes that Charlotte was the women at Lyndale’s orgy and informs her about his discovery to Charlotte’s shock, the two choose to deal with the issue in quite contradictory ways: Charlotte doesn’t want the episode repeated for fear that her precious memory will be spoiled and Nathaniel wants to have her again to be sure that what he experienced that night wasn’t merely an illusion. While one is afraid to find out that they didn’t in fact experience the same intensity of emotion that night, the other is afraid of not finding out that they indeed did! Wow. Kudos to Ms. Hunter as this is harmony of contrast at its best.

So here, Charlotte’s cowardice kicks in again. I’m no fan of her but her emotions were described in a very convincing manner. She was a well-founded character, just not my type of character. The jealousy Charlotte feels over seeing Dante and Fleur so happy after the birth of their son is worth mentioning. Surely she is happy for them but jealousy wins over and she finds herself crying her heart out in Nathaniel’s arms. I mentioned above that she was selfish. But this scene touched me rather than making me judgmental. I thought Charlotte’s reaction was a very human one in its rawest form.

Nathaniel’s moment of cowardice is yet to come. But let’s talk about him a little. I like Nathaniel, I really do. He is the son of an earl with a profession, which makes him a rebel. Initially he wanted to be an actor but found that the courtroom was just another kind of stage, so he became a defense lawyer. He is not the typical arrogant and carefree rake, but he’s not the complete opposite either. He is quite serious but unlike Julian from The Romantic, who is a very private person and a man of few words, Nathaniel is more outgoing.

read more »

October 12, 2012

She walks in beauty…

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

This is the song that plays at the beginning of the movie Vanity Fair, starring Reese Witherspoon. It features the first verse of Lord Byron’s famous poem She walks in beauty.

I’m not at all big on poetry but this… is simply beautiful. Although this is a well-known poem, it’s new to me since I’m no scholar on literature. But it just is too beautiful for me to ignore together with the haunting melody and the soft voice of Sissel. It fits perfectly to my current mood which is a state of constant daze influenced by the historical romance novels I’m reading. It sets off my imagination. I try to create a scene in my mind. What sort of sight or fantasy would inspire such fascination? Would mesmerize what sort of man to reflect that emotion so beautifully? Could its beauty be truly equal to the verse’s? It’s so inspiring that one can write an entire story out of this mere verse. Oh, no! Don’t look at me :D So far I only came up with a simple music video.

October 9, 2012

Instagram, oh no don’t…

After carrying the app with me (because it’s got a cute icon!) for more than a year today, about an hour and a half ago, I finally got an Instagram account… only to discover that I can’t post Instagram photos to my blog directly. If only there were a “press this” button next to the tumblr share option! I tried to find a way around it and did some reading. Finally I decided to enable the “post by e-mail” option and now the e-mails I sent don’t appear as posts. Not impressed, really no…

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October 8, 2012

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #3

Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory

The following review contains spoilers. Click here to read the spoiler-free version.

I have to reread this one! This is a wonderfully written book with an interesting characters and unpredictable plot. My only complaint at the end was how late I realized these qualities. I failed to see the appeal of the book at first but halfway through things took a different turn. The book completely took me by surprise, left me quite pleased and a little bit baffled about my stupidity in not recognizing the gem standing in front of my eyes the whole time.

So characters first… In the beginning, Gabriel seemed too much of an an arrogant playboy who always had his way with everyone and, perhaps, talked a bit too much during sex. It was as if he was immune to feelings. I really didn’t like him after seeing how he could seduce Marietta, totally devoid of emotion. It was after I finished the book that I realized what he meant by “almost losing control.” In the end, he finally decides to defeat the controlling urge inside him, stemming from a deep vulnerability hidden in his past, and asks Marietta to take the lead and “free him.” The way he was completely undone by the novelty of appreciating passion was so moving, especially when he tried to cover his face to hide his expression of ecstasy. I literally melted reading that scene.

So, Gabriel is in fact a deeply tortured hero with a haunting past and unspeakable secrets. I mean he was broken beyond any almost hero I have so far read about. What fascinated me most about this book was how the author created this deliciously virile hero from an emasculated servant. At first Gabriel was nothing more than a pretty shell, but he became stunning after the author started to fill it up with his personality, providing a look into his past to reveal how he became what he is today. She did a wonderful job depicting this devil of a man and then showing in fact how vulnerable and compassionate he really was. And, oh, isn’t he a unique hero now? He is the richest man in London and he is not of noble birth (I always prefer commoner heroes to aristocratic ones). He is a self-made man, a fighter and the pure definition of masculinity. And he cooks!

As for Marietta, I didn’t think she was anything special, especially with that name. I don’t have much to say about her; Gabriel was the star of this book. But she is not just any heroine either. She is well-written throughout the book and doesn’t act in an out-of-character way. She is protective and a survivor, qualities which draw Gabriel into taking her case because he feels close to her. She is also caring and insightful. She can decipher the great enigma known as Gabriel. And she is not shy when it comes to passion, which is always a plus for me. I like it that she too initiates lovemaking ^^;

Besides its vibrant hero and heroine, this book is special with its Gabriel & Marietta moments. I am driven by characters and moments rather than the actual plot. So I liked that the two got to share a lot of moments alone and not solely in bed. Since the plot is quiet unusual, Gabriel and Marietta have to stay under the same roof and most of the time they have privacy. They run the same household by day and go out chasing clues at night under a different disguise each time. This way they got to know each other better and got used to each other’s presence. And the scene where they were washing the dishes together was simply priceless. I bet it’s a fan-favorite :)

Perhaps one complaint that I have concerning the relationship between the Gabriel and Marietta (though it’s mostly a preference) is that I like to see the characters fall in love, yes, but I also want to see them in love, being all dizzy and utterly happy. And this book did not really show the aftermath of the happy ending.

Other than its adorable couple, this book shines with its plot too. There is a mystery to be solved, a murderer on the loose. And I must say the book does well in this aspect. I really hate it when historical romance authors try to incorporate cheap mysteries into the story but this one did a lot more than ok for sure. I thought my heart stopped when the murderer was finally revealed. There are some scenes that have remarkable depth at the end of the book, fueled by sensitive moral issues such as rape and child abuse that the book touches upon. I thought the story was especially bold in dealing with the subject of rape of young boys by adult women. This was, without a doubt, the most shocking aspect of the book and, while disturbing me considerably, it did not put me off from reading but rather made me respect the author even more. I’m not sure I want to delve into these issues right now, although the book trigged me to do some thinking. Perhaps another time.

Finally, I think the misfortune of this book is its presentation to the reader. Everything from the cover image to the title is misleading. And that blurb! It is as if it’s talking about a whole different book. Honestly, if I came across this book at a bookshop, I wouldn’t buy it. This one owes this review to this post by Ashley March. I read her review of five historical romances, thought we shared the same preferences, took a risk and bought all the books. And since I had already read Lisa Kleypas’ Tempt Me at Twilight and liked it, I thought I’d be safe with the rest. So far this has proved to be a great decision. I am currently reading Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros (in French!) and I am intrigued.

So, I recommend Three Nights of Sin to everyone who is looking for more than a love story. This book may not be the best historical romance I’ve read but it certainly is the most interesting and unusual one. So if you are bored with the London society match-making type of romances, give this one a go. And do try to ignore the cover image while doing that!

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

October 6, 2012

“Like a Sir” brooch

This is a project I posted on Busymitts a while ago. I thought I’d post it here as well because, personally, I don’t find Busymitts as accomplished as Ravelry for a craft site. Too bad Ravelry only features knit and crochet projects. Anyway, this is a brooch I made for my best friend. She’s into everything with a hipster feel so I thought something with a mustache would be just for her. Then I came across Sarah Fordham’s adorable cross stitch mustache accessories, available on her Etsy shop. The mustache pattern of this brooch is based on her design. Once I cross stitched the pattern I gave up trying to stitch the cross stitch fabric on the brooch because it looked awkward and because I am very bad at free stitching ^^; So I thought I would make a crochet circle like a scrunchie to hold the fabric in place. And it worked fabulously! The only problem was that the joining stitches of the crochet circle looked really ugly so I had to cover it with something. And that’s when I came up with the idea of a top hat. Then came the idea of sewing a transparent button to make it look like a monocle. And our gentleman was complete!

October 5, 2012

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #2

This time I think I’m doing the sensible thing and writing my thoughts on a novel right after I have finished it.

Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas

The following review contains spoilers. Click here to read the spoiler-free version.

Because being in love does not give you any excuse to be less than honorable, Lady Tremaine.

Wow. Just WOW. I didn’t fall in love with either the hero or the heroine. I might not have liked them even. I didn’t think the story was anything original. But I don’t remember ever being shaken in such a way by a historical romance novel. There is something about this book and I can’t put my finger on it really but if I blame it on the exquisite writing of Ms. Thomas, I don’t think I would be too far off.

First, let me explain why I wouldn’t enjoy this book if it weren’t so extraordinary. The characters and theme of the book isn’t to my liking. Gigi is too arrogant and Camden is too controlled on the outside. They both hide their emotions (not appealing) and always try to have the upper hand (so not appealing). And on top of all this, they fall in love instantly as if to put me off more.

And here’s what appealed to me despite what I said above. I admired Gigi when she relentlessly tried to win Camden back after he supposedly took his vengeance by leaving her. I liked that she is no passive female and that she will chase her man. Her desperation touched me when she would barge into Camden’s room in Paris and attempt to seduce him, while it made Camden loathe her even more. But I don’t favor either character in this book. I think they both acted as they should all the time. As for Camden, he is a perfect case of harmony of contrast. I really have to give him that. He is naturally outraged and appalled by Gigi’s scheme to manipulate him into marrying her. He cannot forgive her despite his deep love for her. I’m not a person who attaches great importance to pride. I value emotions above all. But this wasn’t about Camden’s pride. He was emotionally hurt over finding out that his beloved is capable of disregarding and manipulating his decisions with such disdain. The agony he felt over loving and hating her so much was a so heart-wrenching. He couldn’t do the honorable thing and face Gigi about her deception and plotted revenge instead to punish her with his absence. But this turned out to be as cruel a punishment for him as it was for her. And all this emotional drama was just so delicious for me. Now at this point I ask myself if I am a horrible person who enjoys the characters’ pain and desperation? I guess if the book didn’t end happily, I wouldn’t be such a sadistic fan.

About the supporting characters… Well, Lord Frederick is still an enigma for me. I could perfectly relate to Gigi’s feelings for him but they way he so calmly took Gigi’s decision to not to marry him after all left me baffled. But then I hate watching people’s hearts getting broken (again, if they don’t get a happy ending). But Lord Frederick was a well-written character too. His courage when facing Camden was admirable. But he was this characters that was supposed to be unappealing to the reader (and also to Gigi) due to his lack of flaw in character. He was just too perfect to be passionate. As for Mrs. Rowland and the Duke of Perrin… Well, if there is a good secondary love story (as not in Madeline Hunter’s The Sins of Lord Easterbrook) in a novel, I always lament at the end why it didn’t get its own book. And it did this time for this totally interesting couple. Pity. It seems I can’t divide my attention (or rather the flutters in my heart!) between great love stories.

On the whole, Private Arrangements is a story of the battle among betrayal, guilt and love. What starts as a deception driven by love ends up in betrayal for the sake of vengeance. When you put it this way, it all sounds very epic. But to me it felt so real, not something I would read for distraction. For starters, the hero and heroine are immensely flawed, not something I am used to in a historical romance novel. One might even say that they have very ugly personalities, which makes this book all the more interesting and at odds with the stereotypical historical romance story. The way they express themselves is not at all fantasy-like. This isn’t the kind of book which will take you on a ride above the clouds. I don’t enjoy stories where the hero and heroine dislike each other at first and then fall in love. But this one is the other way around, leaving the reader anxious over the possibility of a happy ending. This book is indeed a really sad one with its crude portrayal of reality. Seriously, I never weep while reading romances and I didn’t weep while reading this one either, but I had never felt so sad over a romance before.

In short this book moved me, awed me, shook me to my very core with sorrow and utterly surprised me when I loved it so much. Seriously, I had never so fervently wished a historical romance novel to be turned into a movie. I think this one would work better than any Nicolas Sparks adaptations. I recommend this book to all romance readers regardless of their likes/dislikes and preferences in a story.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)