Archive for April, 2013

April 27, 2013

A Little Coaxing

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - A Little Coaxing (1890)

I was going through my bookmarks yesterday when I came across this gorgeous painting by Adolphe Bouguereau. I don’t remember where I had previously come across this painting, but I remember it was love at first sight. I had saved the Wikipedia page to my bookmarks to buy a poster of this painting later when I moved out to my own apartment (which I’m yet to do). Well,  if such a thing is possible, I love it even more now than I loved it then.

April 23, 2013

Wallflowers #3

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

The following review contains spoilers (from It Happened One Autumn).

As I expected, this one turned out better than the last two, though still not as much as I would have liked. It started out really nice. The way St. Vincent took care of Evie on their way to Gretna Green was adorable. The later events were not so appealing, but I’ll come to that later. First, the characters…

Evie is a quiet, loving girl who’s had to suffer her relatives’ cruel designs since she was born. Years and years of repression, disdain and severe punishments have turned her into a shy, stammering wallflower. The only way out of the of her relatives’ clutches is eloping. And she is willing to do so with a man who, by all accounts, has no heart. It is really sad to see the extent of her desperation to get away from her cruel family. But she is determined, not to mention strong. Her relatives didn’t succeed in breaking her spirit (but their effort manifested itself in the form of her stammer). She tells the the other flowers at some point in It Happened One Autumn that she knows she’s not responsible from her mother’s death (her mother died while giving birth to her) although her aunt tells her otherwise. So if she has managed to preserve her essence all these years, she believes that she will be able to continue to do so as the wife of St. Vincent, who makes it clear to her from the beginning that he’s only agreeing to her proposal for the money.

I like Evie. She’s my type of heroine. Shy but courageous, loving and kind but ill-treated. Her stammer and the way she indignantly says “I don’t like that word” every time St. Vincent curses is adorable. And she is a redhead! OMG, freckles! How can I resist that? However, the fact that I like her puts all the more pressure on her character to outdo herself in the story, but, unfortunately, she doesn’t. I can’t quite put my finger on it but she doesn’t act the way I would deem appropriate to her character. But the intent is appreciated nonetheless.

As for St. Vincent…

“If your concern is that I may be overcome with manly ardor and ravish you in a moment of weakness… I may. If you ask nicely.”

Haha! Yeah, I know, he’s fun to read about with all his wicked and witty remarks (reading the quotes page on Goodreads has helped refresh my memory). In this respect, he’s like Leo (Lord Ramsay) from the Hathaway series. But I’m afraid, St. Vincent doesn’t have as much of an excuse as Leo does to act like the jerk that he is. Yes, he is a tortured soul, I get it, but there is a golden rule: Guys don’t betray their buddies. Period. And St. Vincent does exactly the opposite in the most despicable manner by kidnapping Lillian, Lord Westcliff’s fiancé.

Now, about the rest of the book… The ending held too many moral conundrums for me to digest, so I’ll just skip that. Cam Rohan was a welcome sight, although I’m not such a great fan of him from the Hathaway series. And again, the love scenes were kind of dull. However, for some inexplicable reason, Devil in Winter has a very high ranking in lists in Goodreads. For example, it’s voted the highest among Lisa Kleypas’ books. It is definitely better than the first two Wallflowers and it’s classic Lisa Kleypas goodness. But compared to any of the Hathaways, I don’t think it’s very deserving.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

April 23, 2013

Desk bunny

Meet Desk Bunny!

I came across this adorable desk organizer at a random stationary shop. Leaving aside the gorgeous design, the mere fact that it’s in the shape of a bunny compelled me to buy it naturally. As this one was the only one left at the shop (it was on display but still in good shape) I even got a discount, yay!

I thought I’d bring it to work first but then changed my mind for fear that it might get lost or something. So stays on my desk at home (although here, as you can see from the stone tiles, it’s taking a little stroll in the balcony).

April 14, 2013

A Pure Woman

Vineyard house season is officially open. Last week I took the 8PM dolmuş there. The two-hour journey on the bumpy roads of central Anatolia was almost… otherworldly. I read rather enthusiastically a few chapters from Music by My Bedside. Then the driver turned the lights off inside the vehicle and my carefully-selected mix of heavy metal music accompanied me for the rest of the way in semi-darkness. Metallica’s Low Man’s Lyric was especially memorable in the setting. I realized how much I had missed being on my own and surrounding myself with my “likes.”

I don’t know what to call this… this “mood” really. It’s when you are alone and very comfortable, completely immersed in your own world, either curled on your bed, on a long bus ride, lying under cherry blossoms or simply sitting in front of your computer, drinking a warm cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate or a glass of your preferred spirits and you’re watching/reading/listening to something you like or something you longed to watch/read/listen to. Bullet points might have helped with the description, but whatever, you see what I mean.

Anyway, I’m visiting the vineyard house for the first time in six months, I’m in the comfort of my bedroom in the attic and I’ve just found out that I could take an extra day off work. Perfect! Yay!  So I settle to watch BBC’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, starring Gemma Arterton. Only this time, I devour all four episodes in one go instead of watching them one at a day like I did with North and South.

And? Well, I was expecting something else altogether. Most of all a happy ending. Honestly, Tess must be one of the most depressing pieces of fiction I ever came across. But it was very interesting. There are so many things to be said about it. I have so many things to say about it, but it would make more sense and read the book first and then restructure them. In the meantime, I came across this journal article by Ertuğrul Koç: Tess of the d’Urbervilles: the Tragedy of Godless Human Existence. It felt good to do some serious reading and actually like it. Yes, this counts as serious to me *grins*

Wallpaper - 2560 x 1600

Wallpaper – 2560 x 1600

April 9, 2013

Wallflowers #2

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas

The following review (if you can call it that) contains spoilers.

Aaaand I tolerated It Happened One Autumn. I knew I would be feeling like this after reading this book, so no surprises here. I don’t like heroines who are ridiculously stubborn and who pride themselves in having the upper hand in everything just out of spite. So Lilian is not my kind of heroine but that’s still okay.

What’s not okay is god-damn Westcliff seducing her when she was clearly drunk. Yes, these things happen, for the good sometimes, but still it would have been nice if he were more sensitive about it afterwards. And for the first time while reading a historical romance novel, nonetheless one written by Lisa Kleypas, I couldn’t picture the hero in my head. I just couldn’t come up with a handsome, breath-taking Westcliff. Thank goodness, Simon Hunt was present during most of the book. (“Once a week you said?” Haha, good one!)

But I guess the one thing that had me really hanging at the end is how the hell St. Vincent turned out to be the villain? And more importantly, how the hell is he going to be the hero of the next book, when he was on the brink of raping Lilian (let alone fondling her breasts!)? Yes, I’m very curious indeed *snorts*

Then why am I still reading the Wallflowers, right? Let’s not do any injustice to Lisa Kleypas. She is not the most brilliant author out there (*cough* Madeline Hunter *cough*) but she sure is one of the most (recently) popular ones. And that’s for a reason. I just find myself reading her books. She is the author I’ve read the most books of in the historical romance genre (somebody please correct the syntax here!) Her novels are excellent for light reading. And sometimes she does surprise you by writing something really deep and endearing. I just hope that she’s going to do that for the remaining Wallflowers.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

April 1, 2013

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #8

I wanted to put it off, to take it up at another time when I wouldn’t be as busy as I am now. To no avail. Rereading the love scenes and my favorite passages didn’t help. The book basically sang to me, caught my eye even with that dull purple cover no matter where I hid it in my room, as if it was luring me to lose myself in it again. I couldn’t have been more glad that I did.

Dear readers, it is my great pleasure to present you my review of my absolute favorite historical romance novel.

The Romantic by Madeline Hunter

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

“I never hated you. My anger was never with you, but with the little hell my heart had put me in. The anger always passed. I never regretted loving you. If I had gone to my grave never kissing you or touching you, I still would not have thought it a wasted love.”

I have been hinting at this gem of a book in many of my previous reviews. And I’m finally reviewing it now. Oh, what a joy! Beware because it’s going to be a long one.

It is this book that started this latest wave of historical romance craze in me. I bought it in July last year and was instantly hooked. It left such a great impression on me that I rediscovered my great love for historical romances. After that I read 20 more historical romance novels and I can say for certain that Madeline Hunter’s The Romantic is unparalleled, as rereading it has proven.

So what can possibly be so great about it? Well, first of all, it has a good storyline with a strong plot. Madeline Hunter’s novels are usually too plot-intensive that I forget I’m reading a romance novel. There’s always a mystery to be solved or some sort of mission that the heroine sets about accomplishing. But in The Romantic, the plot didn’t bother me because this time it involved the main characters. But more than that, it set the scene for a great tragedy. Penelope, Countess of Glasbury, has been separated from her husband for more than a decade because the man is an immoral, perverted bastard who, as Penelope puts it implicitly, “he takes pleasure in giving punishment.” The person who negotiated the separation, and the only one who knows the reason for it, is the Laclere family solicitor, Julian Hampton. He has known Penelope and her brothers since they were teenagers and needless to say he has been in love with Penelope since forever. Now isn’t that just perfect?

This already sounds like my favorite kind of tragedy. However, it’s only the background story that is expertly revealed as the main storyline unfolds. That’s another thing that Madeline Hunter handled excellently. Through hints, and passages of memories written in italics, she gives you a whole life story to fill the gaps with your imagination as the characters grow on you. So here, Glasbury wants Penelope back to give him an heir. And Julian, to save his ‘incomparable beloved’, dons his armor once again and swears to slay this sleeping dragon for once and for all. Oh, my… I must have really gotten carried away this time.

All excerpts from the book © Madeline Hunter All rights reserved

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