Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review - Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades

Original Title: Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4.5
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: February 2009

Publisher: Puffin Books

Short, fun novella in which we join Percy, Thalia and Nico (the children of the Big Three) sent by Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, in a quest to retrieve Hades’ sword for the war to come. It doesn’t add much to the story, but I will read anything if that means I can join Percy and the other demigods in their quests and keep knowing more about the world they live in, in which myths are forever alive and he keeps moving forward, discovering new abilities and powers, and living up to the ‘hero’ title he rightfully earns with every adventure. I only missed Annabeth in this one, but as she’s Athena’s daughter, Persephone didn’t summon her, she only called the most powerful demigods.

The book is only four chapters long, I read it in little more than an hour, and just as I feel with every Percy Jackson story, I didn’t want it to end. Awesome read!

Review - The Battle of the Labyrinth

Original Title: The Battle of the Labyrinth
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: March the 6th, 2008

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Seriously, I can’t stop reading this series! With every book, it gets better and better, and I’m getting that feeling in which I want to know how it ends, and at the same time, I don’t, because I feel like I’ll never be ready to say goodbye to Percy, Annabeth, Grover, Tyson, and the whole Camp Half-Blood.

I can’t explain how much I loved this book. Here, Rick Riordan does it again, taking us to an epic adventure, through the many twist and turns of Daedalus’s Labyrinth, in their pursuit to avoid the inminent uprising of Kronos, and the destruction of the Olympians. I said it in my other reviews, and I’ll say it again: it is amazing how Rick Riordan manages to adapt ancient Greek mythology to the 21st century. I don’t get tired of seeing how he has an answer to every question I ask myself as I read, and every new character he introduces is both lovable and interesting. In this book, particularly, I grew quite fond of Annabeth; I already liked her, but here, I got to like her even more. She’s smart and brave, and she unhesitatingly takes the chance to prove herself leading the quest through the Labyrinth, even with the weight of the prophecy on her shoulders, but she’s also kind and loving, and doesn’t always let people know how she really feels, terrified to expose her weaknesses, even to her best friend Percy. That’s why, when she suddenly kisses him, I stood stunned, pretty much like Percy himself, but I had an instant smile on my face. The only thing that bothered me a little that they didn’t mention it again, but I hope they get more moments together in the next book.

Oh, and the battle! Grab your sword, and get ready for an epic fight! I read it holding my breath, and I felt like I was truly there, in the middle of the noise, the screaming and the roaring of monsters, with the heroes, satyrs and nymphs, fighting back to protect the Camp, and the world. This book (and the rest of the saga) truly makes me feel like I’m there, with them, going every step of the way at their side, and I have no words to say how much I loved it, and how badly I didn’t want this book to end. I have lots of questions I hope to answer soon, like, who was Nico’s mother, that attracted a god like Hades himself? What happened exactly to Luke, and is he still there, now that Kronos is gaining strenght? I can’t wait to know!

Just like the Labyrinth in itself, this book is full of twist and turns, and you have to keep reading to discover its secrets and know where you will end up, but also, you can get lost; the only difference is that there’s no hurry to find the way out. I was gladly surprised when, as I read, discovered that the whole book doesn’t take place inside the Labyrinth, which is a good thing (otherwise it would be repetitive and tiresome). Through our heroes’ quest, the old myths get interwined and mixed with each other, as Percy and his friends become a part of them, in this cycle that never ends (like when he cleans the Augean stables, where the flesh-eating Mares of Diomedes live -those are two of Hercules’ labors in one). I love how Percy discovers, in each book, new talents and powers, and his voice as narrator has me laughing out loud, it’s impossible not to love him!

If you like fantasy, you can’t miss this saga! It is the best I read in a long time (and trust me, this year I didn’t had much luck with the genre -it seemed to be one trashy book after another, or a very good first book, and then the rest of the saga simply sucked or got ruined by unnecessary things). It is clever, funny, epic... Everything a fantasy serie should be. Do not take the movies as reference and give it a chance! You will be captivated by this amazing world, and won’t want to leave it!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Review - The Titan's Curse

Original Title: The Titan's Curse
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: May the 7th, 2007

Publisher: Puffin Books

*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Once again, Rick Riordan delivers a captivating story that I just had to keep reading. I’m so glad I decided to grab this story, it is so great! In this new installment, we find our heroes in a whole new quest, and this time, someone else has come to be a part of the group: Thalia, Zeus’ daughter, and one of the most powerful demigods ever born. 

Rick Riordan continues doing what he does best, blending old Greek mythology with the 21st century, in a way that had me laughing, and gasping, and wanting to know more, passing one page after another, not wanting the book to end. In this book, we get to go on a quest with our heroes, who leave Camp Half-Blood with an ominous prophecy looming over them. Here we get to know a new set of characters, as Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, and her Huntresses, who are the counterpart to Camp Half-Blood, because even when Artemis has an honorary cabin in the camp, it will be forever empty, as Artemis vowed to stay a maiden forever. Her second in command, Zoe Nightshade, was one of the best characters; her story was both sad and beautiful, but she proved to be a Huntress worthy of the title, and when Artemis turned her into a constelation, I almost cried. It was such a beautiful scene to read, and to imagine, especially after both Zoe and Bianca di Angelo, a powerful half-blood whose parentage is unknown, gave up everything out of love and duty, and proved themselves worthy of the word “heroine”. 

I also liked both Bianca and Nico di Angelo; from the start, with everything they say, you can tell how powerful they are, and they kept me guessing and wondering which god could be their mother or father. And when I finally learned it, I admit, I suspected it, but I wasn’t sure. Hades doesn’t sound like the kind of god who goes out there having children with mortals, but I really hope we get to know more about that story, especially now that Nico is the new possibility to fulfill the prophecy (I felt really sorry about that, I like Nico and I want him to be happy!). I wonder what kind of mortal woman could possibly atract the God of Death himself, she must have been very special indeed.

This book has so many amazing and funny moments that I cannot do justice to all of them. It shows how friendship, love and loyalty can, if not overcome everything, make you do and face anything, awakening your courage and taking you to the most unlikely places. They set off in their quest knowing its price, and for that I like Percy even more, because nothing is enough to stop him from going after Annabeth. Not once he forgets about her, and is even willing to find her on his own if he has too. I love him for that. He may be a hero because he is a demigod, but he rightfully earns the title.

I love Greek mythology. It’s a fascinating universe in which you can get lost, and here, it appears wonderfully adapted to our modern world. You can’t help loving every single character, but, as I said, I can’t do justice to every detail in this book, as much as I would like to. You need to read it know what I mean! If you love fantasy, then this saga is for you!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Review - The Sea of Monsters

Original Title: The Sea of Monsters
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: April the 1st, 2006

Publisher: Hyperion Books

*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

I loved this book! It’s even better than the previous one, and I really hope this saga only gets better and better. It had me laughing, and gasping, and passing the pages not wanting to stop. In fact, when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking that I wanted to go back to it! I love when a book does that.

Once more, Rick Riordan proved himself brilliant, blending the old Greek myths with the 21s century’s reality. This time, he takes us to the Sea of Monsters, where Percy, Annabeth and their new friend Tyson face an Odyssey of their own, going through all those dangers the heroes of old went through on their sea voyages: Circe, the sirens, Scylla and Charybdis… everything within the Bermuda Triangle, in an amazing way to explain some of its mysteries, that mortals simply can’t see or understand by themselves. I loved the way Riordan depicted the Sea of Monsters and the perils they encountered along the way to retrieve the Golden Fleece from Polyphemus, who’s holding Grover captive, and had me laughing out loud! Poor Grover, he wasn’t having any fun, but still, his scenes trying to dodge Polyphemus were so much fun! And it was great how Riordan managed -very cleverly- to adapt a part of Penelope’s tale -Odysseus’s wife- to Grover’s. Well done!

However, there’s something I couldn’t help noticing, and I simply have to mention it. In order to save Camp Half-Blood, Percy, Annabeth and Tyson go on a quest to find the Golden Fleece. At some point, Annabeth tells the Fleece’s story, and perhaps there’s another version of it, but I noticed it is the wrong one. She says Cadmus and Europa were saved by the ram with the Golden Fleece, but that’s not how the story is, and I’ve read it enough times to know it very well. The real story involves the twins Helle and Phrixo, children of Athamas, king of Boeotia, and Nephele, a cloud nymph. Athamas, after divorcing Nephele, marries Ino, a woman who grows to hate her stepchildren, and plots to get rid of them. She burns the crops and bribes some men to lie about an oracle that dictates that, in order to avoid famine, Helle and Phrixo must be sacrificed. But before they can be killed, their mother sends the ram (which is said to have been sired by Poseidon and Theopane, a nymph) to rescue them, and it takes them flying away. They are warned not to look down to the Earth as they fly, but Helle, however, does it anyway, and in her fear, she falls from the ram, and drowns in the sea that later takes her name, Hellespont (Sea of Helle). Phrixus, however, survives and reaches Colchis, where finally King Aeetes gives him his daughter Chalciope in marriage, and in return, Phrixo gives him the Golden Fleece, which the king hangs in a tree in his kingdom, bringing prosperity.

I just had to mention it; mythologically speaking, it is wrong. The story Annabeth tells mentions Cadmus and Europa, that actually are brother and sister, but they have nothing to do with the Golden Fleece’s myth. Actually, she’s another of Zeus’ lovers (and the one from which Europe took its name), and he is a famous monster slayer, each of them with their own myths. But still, it is a minor detail and the story can be understood the same, it doesn’t take away the fact that the book is awesome.

My problem is that, being still a Greek mythology freak (although less enthusiastic as I used to be at thirteen, or fourteen), I knew some things the characters didn’t and when they came out were less surprising as they were intended to be, like Chiron being Kronos’ son. But I simply have to stand up and give a loud applause to Rick Riordan, because of the awesome fact that he was able to make me laugh with a character as terrible as Tantalus. Lets face it, his myth is probably one of the cruelest, but even so, his bad mood and his attempts to catch food had me laughing out loud, and even more through Percy’s eyes: “That was so completely unfair that I told Tantalus to go chase a donut.”. And also “Tantalus made a wild grab, but the marshmallow committed suicide, diving into the flames.”. Really well done, Mr. Riordan!

The book is amazing, and I’ll never get tired of saying so. The ending is a perfectly mean cliffhanger that will make me grab the third book as fast as I can. This series only gets better and better, and it reminds me why I love fantasy so much! You are never too old for stories like this, and I recommend it all of those people who haven’t read it yet! Go for it, you won’t regret it!


Friday, December 2, 2016

Review - The Lightning Thief

Original Title: The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: June the 28th, 2005

Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books

I said it before and I say it again: “never judge a book by its movie”. I grabbed it after a peaceful Sunday afternoon watching the movie on tv, after mere curiosity, and that very same day I got the book and started reading it.

My first thought was that I wish I had read this book back when it was published. I was thirteen years-old back then, and I already used to lock myself up with a collection of encyclopedias to read about gods, goddesses and heroes. I was a Greek mythology freak pre-teen. But also, I’d wish I had met Percy back in a time in which he and I had so much in common. Upon reading about him, I could relate to many of those things he faces, as I faced them as a kid back in school, and that sadly are a reality many adults choose to ignore, especially when it comes to bullying (yeah, I know that firsthand, but back when I was a kid, it didn’t had that name -it was only something all kids do, so I was never defended; in fact, my bullies were defended when I reacted).

It was a great read; as I passed the pages I was able to remember lots of things I had read about mythology, and let’s face it, Rick Riordan did a great work adapting the gods and deities to the modern world, and definitely, his image of the Fire is quite accurate. Humanity, basically, hasn’t changed, and those same vices the Greek pictured in paradisiac islands, brought by spells casted by nymphs and goddesses, tempting travelers and heroes alike, are perfectly clear in the most powerful nation in the world. The way he told how those myths we can read are a reality in this story, is brilliant, especially after I, as I read myth after myth, discovered that much of what happens in them isn’t always suited for under-aged readers.

There’s however, a few things I have to mention. For starters, Percy’s mom. She knew the whole time she had a son with the Sea God, and she takes it normally, but I want -need- details! How they met, how she knew who he really was, how she believed him and… I mean, how do you take in the fact you ended up pregnant by an old Greek deity? Even when she’s a really good character, Sally Jackson never really gives any explanation of how things happened, except for a few lines that aren’t enough! And on the other hand, we have Poseidon as Percy’s dad. It bothered me a little that nobody seemed to connect the dots. I mean, come on! Percy finally accepts the fact that his father is a god, but he doesn’t know which of them. Although, yes, he has uncontrollable reactions related to water every time he’s bullied or mistreated, like when he made the bathroom pipes explode, or healed his own wounds. It was right there! There’s not much to think if you have twelve cabins for the kids of those twelve main gods to live in Camp Half-Blood, and only one of them belongs to a god related to water. Of course, there’s other Greek sea gods, but they are minor and wouldn’t have a cabin in the camp (like Proteus -a son of Poseidon-, or Nereus), so I think it was quite clear the whole time, even before Poseidon himself claimed him as his son.

A thing that also bothered me a little is that everything is very American. Very. And before anyone say anything, I’m not from the U.S.A., but from Argentina. I bring it up only because lately I’ve been thinking, it’s unbelievable how we naturalized all those things we hear about in movies, series and books, about the Northern country; it’s geography, celebrations, summer camps… Even the seasons! This book takes place in the U.S.A, and it has lots and lots of reference to things only those born there will fully understand. But it’s not, however, something I fully criticize. It’s ok.

As for those comparing Percy Jackson with Harry Potter, yes, I saw lots of things in common, but this story is great in its own way, no comparison needed. Give it a try; after all, each reader has a different, unique point of view, and Percy and his friends are heroes worth reading, so definitely, I’m going to read the rest of the saga!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Review - Arabella

Original Title: Arabella
Series: -
Author: Georgette Heyer
Published: 1949

Publisher: Salamandra, Barcelona (2007 edition - Spanish)

*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

I decided to grab this book because I heard such praises of its author that I thought I needed to give her a chance. But I’m afraid that, even when I was more than willing to love this book, I couldn’t.

Nevertheless, it is a lovely, relaxing read, and it has, here and there, hints that reminded me a lot of Jane Austen. Arabella Tallant, the heroine, is a great character, with a sweet nature and a strong, bold personality. She’s the eldest sister in a family of eight siblings, who depend on her catching a wealthy husband. I really liked her; she’s no shy, modest girl, but an outspoken young woman with a well defined personality. I found her somewhat naïve at times, but she’s still a lovable character. She can’t hide who she truly is, and even when she tries to maintain the masquerade she starts around Beaumaris and his friend, she can’t help it. As a preacher’s daughter, she can’t stand injustice, and though she acts like a proper young lady -the toast of London’s finest society-, her true self comes out when she meets the little boy on her chimney, and the dog being beaten on the street. In both moments, Beaumaris is there, being able to see her real personality and temper, and getting to know she’s more than the beautiful debutante in ball gowns and walking dresses he needs to favor so she can eventually find a wealthy husband. Even when she practically makes him take care both of the boy and the dog, he still finds her charming, and even when he just compliments her out of duty, his interest turns real, because he gets to know her real self, the Arabella she is out of the ballroom, and her aunt’s drawing room, and that no one else could see.

Just one tiny thing. I found the first few chapters with her whole preparation to finally depart to London a bit too long. I found myself wanting the story to start, instead of saying this and that about packing, and dresses, and jewels... It seems to go on forever, until finally, Arabella sits on the carriage and leaves.

As for Robert Beaumaris, I liked him but not as much as I wanted to. He reminded me both of Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth, and his dialogues with Ulysses are pretty much his funniest moments. I liked the fact that he finds amusement seeing how society copies him blindly, but... I just couldn’t love him. I mean, I was supposed to feel something when he realizes he’s in love with Arabella, right? But I didn’t see him being changed by love, he stayed the same man. Also, something that bothered me is that Arabella realizes she loves him, but I, as reader, didn’t think there was enough interaction between them for love to grow. They didn’t convince me. I mean, yes, they spent a lot of time together, but I felt that this romance was meant to be sparky, and finally fell short. Although it is nice how Arabella doesn’t notice when she stops following convention to actually love Beaumaris. She’s so worried about her brother’s situation, that she forgets about her own heart, and all the sudden she finds herself in love... But still, their story, even when it is funny and lovely (and Georgette Heyer is a very witty narrator), felt a bit flat from time to time, and as a couple, I didn’t really find them very engaging. Although the book still had enough to keep me reading to the end.

As for the whole gambling plot around Bertram, I couldn’t help finding it so boring... The scenes in the club, where he starts winning, but then losing all over again, and his debts start mounting, are a bit tedious, and too long. I couldn’t keep focused on the story, as it went endlessly about this card hand, or that bet... It says too many times he is indebted, as if thinking we are going to forget it, and perhaps, that part of the story could have been told in a lot shorter way. But still, Beaumaris’ attitude, purchasing his debts and paying them all, just to save Arabella, is the sweetest thing. I loved that he doesn’t get angry upon discovering her lie about her family and fortune, and still, even with such a big family, so little money, and such an impetuous attitude, he finds her worthy of his love. That’s a hero for me.

It’s not that I didn’t like this book, because I did. It’s just that I didn’t think it was so great as many people seem to think. It’s not, however, the end of this author for me. I will definitely read more books by her, and I already have in mind which one will be next. There’s something wonderful in Heyer’s narration, and that’s the promise I’ll cling to. Classics are classics for a reason, right?


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hi there!

Hello, guys!
It's been a while, don't you think?

First of all, thank you, to all of you who visit me every day, I watch the stats from time to time, and I see that I'm not out of visitors, who often drop by this tiny corner of the web. To all of you, a huge hug, and an even bigger thank you! You guys, are the best.

I promise I haven't abandoned you, nor forgotten you. I'm just having a lot to do for school, and not enough time to properly sit and share with you my next post (or to read a new book, for that matter). I have one (post AND book) in mind, and I will have it up as fast as I can.

And of course, I'm about to tell you something that's really important for me (and another reason why I haven't been here much). I'm about to enter a contest for storytellers. As you may have read in my little bio, I want to be a writer with all my heart, and with this, I'm giving one step ahead to fulfill my dream. The world belongs to the brave ones, right? -- The thing is that I already have stories written, and I intend to present them, but the process of editing them (and finish the unfinished ones) it's taking tons of my time, my patience, and my tears, as I fight writer's block, and my own criticisms, which, believe me, it is harsher than I intend to. Being a perfectionist doesn't help, either, but still...

So, no matter where you are from, and that we speak different languages, I have a tiny request, if it isn't too much of a problem for you. To those who share my faith, I would like to ask you to say a prayer or two, if you are so kind or feel like it, so I can finish my stories and deliver them on time. I'll be most grateful to you. And to those who don't, I'm equally grateful to you, because you are giving me the greatest gift you can: your time, and your reading.

In fact, that last part is to all of you, without distinction. Love and respect are universal languages, and if you can speak them, you earn them both.

Thank you again, for your support, and please, the recommendations offering still stands, if you need them, you just have to ask me, and I'll do my best to help you.

Thank you! - Gracias! - Obrigada! - ¡شكر - Merci! - ধন্যবাদ! - მადლობა! - धन्यवाद! - Dankie! - Kiitos! - O ṣeun! - Tack!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Quick note

Hi, guys!

I've seen I've been getting visits from all corners of the world, and it's been a great surprise. To all of you, who visit me from Argentina, the States, Sweden, Canada, and even Mauritius, a big THANK YOU, and an even bigger hug!

Today I just want to share with you that I added the "follow" button on the upper corner to the right, so if you like what you have read so far, and would be interested in further reviews and recommendations, you just have to click it, and voilá!

And in any case, as I know not everyone of you speak English, and perhaps it is not the most common language in your area (like in my own case, and you guys who visit me from Latin America and Asia), I added the Translate option, so you can read in any language you want.

Thanks again for your big support!!
Hope to see you around!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review - The Silent Governess

Original Title: The Silent Governess
Series: -
Author: Julie Klassen
Published: January 1st, 2010

Publisher: Bethany House
*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

I was ready to give this book the five GoodReads stars the other works by Julie Klassen I’ve read so far earned in their own right. However, and even when I tried, I can’t give The Silent Governess more than four. Don’t get me wrong. It is far superior to other books to which I gave four stars; but still, I can’t give it five. Let me explain myself.

Something I love about Julie Klassen’s writing is her elegance. Words flow and form beautiful sentences, the dialogues never feel forced, nor the metaphors, and she’s able to create characters you love from page one, like it happened here. Her stories are captivating, beautifully written, and this one is no exception. I love when an author writes a book with a well done research behind it. It is a true pleasure to feel she/he actually knows what she/he’s talking about, and in this book, that can be clearly seen (as in the others, too). I love the fact that Julie tells the story in the third person, but let her heroines tell the prologue and the epilogue with their own voices. It’s a very nice touch.

I must say, I’m not reading Ms. Klassen’s books in the order they were published in. That’s why, upon reading The Silent Governess I noticed lots of mystery elements I had already read in The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Those who have read both will understand: the anonymous letters, the mysterious veiled woman, and the mumblings of an old woman who’s mind is slipping, and no one pays real attention to her (but she knows the truth). Of course, this one is one was published earlier, but I couldn’t help noticing the similarities. I’m not criticizing, just stating the fact.

I loved Olivia Keene. She’s beautiful and smart, really good with numbers, and has inherited her mother’s calling to be a teacher. Something I loved about her is that, during the whole book, she stays true to herself. The novel opens with a prologue in which she’s a kid, and her father uses her quickness with math to place bets in the local tavern, something that leaves a mark on her, after the only episode in which she loses one of those bets, earning her father’s disappointment and disaffection. Years later, she comes home to see his mother being strangled, and flees after hitting the attacker with a fire-iron, fearing she may have killed him. But she doesn’t go far, and ends up at Brightwell Court, a house in which her mother used to work as a governess, and in which a party is being held. There, without meaning to do so, she overhears a conversation regarding Lord Brightwell’s son, Edward, and his parentage, so, upon being discovered, she’s not allowed to leave, and for that employed as under nurse to Lord Brightwell’s wards, his niece’s stepchildren. In despite of the book’s title, Olivia isn’t silent for a very long time. She’s soon able to speak again, though for the whole house, except Edward, she must seem mute. I guess her silence is rather metaphorical, given that she never fully reveals who she is, and where she comes from, except for a few things. 

There were some aspects I need to mention. First of all, I grew a bit tired of how Olivia was a temptation for everyone. First, Borcher, the poacher who almost raped her, if it had not been for Croome, who saved her just in time. Then, Johnny Ross, the stable hand in Brightwell Court. And then, Felix, Judith Howe’s brother. And the three of them without counting Edward, of course. I mean, I understand that servants were usually the object of such desires, but this felt a bit tiring and repetitive. And although some people thought Lord Brightwell himself was romantically interested in Olivia, we as readers (and Edward) knew that it was true he was interested, but not in that way. He thinks Olivia could be his daughter, as he had an affair with her mother back when she was a governess in his house, before marrying his wife, and she was actually pregnant with his child when she left. However, when Lord Brightwell tells Edward he thinks he may be Olivia’s father, I instantly knew it wasn’t true. Somehow I felt it was too early in the book to arise such a doubt, and that told me that Olivia wasn’t his daughter. Perhaps because that kind of revelations use to come closer to the ending of the story, but the question is that I didn’t think it was true.

Edward and Olivia’s love story is beautiful, but... I wasn’t completely satisfied with it. Julie Klassen writes very passionate heroes and heroines, and they are not the exception. A bonus point is that here there’s no love triangle, Edward falls in love with her a short time after she starts working on her house as the kids’ nursemaid, and they have lots of parent-like moments with them, like when they go ice-skating, or play in the schoolroom. But I felt like they only had a few moments together, and always with the kids present, so that couldn’t let anything more to happen. Actually, Olivia spends more time with Edward’s father than with him. I don’t doubt they love each other. But I waited a lot for them to have a truly heartfelt, emotionally open moment just for the two of them (save some furtive glances and stolen moments of closeness -like in the carpentry), and when they finally had it, it was at the very last page! Literally! It was really sweet, and very romantic, but too short! Too rushed! They passed from declaring their love to their happy ending too quickly, before we could truly savor it!

Another bonus point, in addition to the no love triangle topic, is that at the end, once the mysteries are solved, we learn who Edward’s real parents were, and get to know that his illegitimacy will deny him the earldom he thought was his during his entire life, there’s no magical solution for that. He can’t inherit, and he won’t. That door is closed. And that is what makes the ending atypical, and hence, a little gem. There’s not much to be done, no distant relative who suddenly leaves a generous amount of pounds that end’s up being the hero’s salvation, and allows him to live richly ever after. And needless to say, I liked that Olivia accepted him knowing that theirs wouldn’t be a perfectly comfortable life, because she’s no meek miss, and she’s more than ready to roll up her sleeves and work for a living. As for Edward’s true parents, I knew from the very start that Croome was related to him, in a way or another. I thought he was his father at first, so I only missed the target for a few inches. What I didn’t see coming was the identity of his real father, because his physical similarity with Lord Brightwell wasn’t entirely unjustified. He was a Bradley, after all, but the illegitimate son of the one he always considered his uncle, and Croome’s daughter, a servant in the household. Lord and Lady Brightwell adopted him, because they could never have a child of their own. And for the entire book, the family is stalked by an anonymous blackmailer who writes letters threatening to expose the truth (it bothered me a bit that Edward thought it was Olivia, but still). It was well written, and it kept me guessing to very end.

Something that bothered me a little where the unsolved matters. Like the missing cubes Edward carved for baby Alexander (Judith’s son) in the carpentry, and then those mysteriously painted ones that appeared when he gave them to the kid. Was it Croome? Probably, but we don’t know for sure. On the other hand, was Martha’s baby Felix’s child? Probably, again. And even more, I felt a bit disappointed that we don’t know how Eliza Ludlow and Mr. Tugwell’s story ended. Or at least, we don’t know if he finally proposes to her. But this three things are very small, and the story has a lot more, bigger pillars to sustain it, so they are only a tiny something I noticed.

The Silent Governess is not a book in which you can enjoy the parties and balls of the highest society, because it isn’t the point (sadly, because I like that). I guess that for many of us the word “governess” has become synonymous with “Jane Eyre” (she’s even mentioned in the little research extracts Julie Klassen adds at the start of every chapter). But here, I have to say, I saw more likeness to another Brontë sister’s work, Anne. Rather thanJane Eyre, this book reminded me more of Agnes Grey. Those who have read it will remember that both Agnes and her mother were teachers (like Olivia and Dorothea Keene), and worked as governesses, and by the end of the book, they both start a school for girls together, much like Olivia and Dorothea’s dream, that Edward helps them fulfill (by the way, Agnes Grey’s hero is also named Edward). Perhaps that book is generally less known, overshadowed by Jane Eyre, but it is still there, and it also features a governess, even when we instantly think of Jane at the mention of that word.

I did loved this book, and I was more than willing to give it five stars, but those were the little things I couldn’t help but notice. However, I will keep reading until I have devoured each and every single book written by this amazing author! If you like historical novels (especially Regency), hers -along with the classics by Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters- are the best I’ve ever read.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A bit about myself

Hello, everyone!

Today I just want to share a tiny post with you. I've been asked a couple of times why I named this blog "A Book and a Teacup", and first of all, I need to tell, it wasn't an easy choice. Before creating this I spent literally a month trying to figure out a good name for it. It is always the hardest part for me. Character names, or titles... They always take me most of the time.

So here is my story. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out a really poetic, beautiful name to catch the attention, and none of the words I came up were up to the task, as I know, it happens to everybody. It also happened that some of the names were already taken, so there wasn't luck there either. But the thing is that I wanted to make it special so bad, that I forgot the essential part. This blog was going to be about me, about the books I read, and my thoughts about them. So I simply thought, "what represents me?"

And only when I asked myself that question, I noticed that every single time I found myself reading, it was with the book in front of me (obviously), and next to it, a cup of tea. I've read lots of adventures and romances next a good old Earl Grey, but also red tea, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, blueberry (I'm into not so common teas lately)... So I noticed I didn't need a fancy name for my blog to show who I am. I just needed to be honest about myself, for the blog to be a reflection of myself. 

So if you are thinking about opening a blog or something of the sort, and you can't figure out the name or the title, think about what defines you, what face do you want to show. It took me some time, but I noticed that I was making things a lot more complicated than they really were. For me, reading is sitting quietly with a good cup of tea, and I feel perfectly fine and happy, so that's the face I chose to give to my personal diary, this space entirely of my own.

Hope this answered your question, guys!
'till next time!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review - The Little White Horse

Original Title: The Little White Horse.
Series: -
Author: Elizabeth Goudge
Published: March 2nd 2005 (originally published in 1946)
Publisher: Salamandra (the Spanish, Hardcover edition) 


This is one of those books I read because I saw the movie first, The Secret of Moonacre, which I loved a lot more. And when I learned it is a favorite of my hero J. K. Rowling? So much better! But the truth is that, after a thousand difficulties, and the countless bookstores I went to find it, reading it was... disappointing. There was a moment in which I found myself reading and saying "Really? This is what I made such a fuss for?".

I'm not one of speaking ill of a book; it has to be very bad -or terrible- for me to give it one or two stars, or review it unfavorably, but the truth is that I didn't like it as much as I was expecting. There was a time in which I started wondering "when will the story begin?"

There's not a real conflict, and everything is so absolutely beautiful and perfect, that it is cloying. I never understood which was the evil the men in the Forest caused -besides being the atheists, and hence, the villains-, and the truth is that, thanks to the movie, I thought the pearls would have a more active role (that they were, at least, magical). Besides, I didn't think Maria's role in the whole situation was worthy of calling her a "Moon Princess", because that title didn't give her any special ability, or anything of the sort, in addition to being a "moon Merrywheater", because she was born at night.

I don't deny that there are nice moments, and that the descriptions of the places, like Maria's bedroom in Moonacre, are beautiful. But they are too extensive. Too many pages with descriptions, at the expense of what could have been a good story.

I've read enough books in my life as to know that not everything is so black-and-white as it is depicted here. The good guys are too good, and the bad guys are... well, bad, but I never understood which one was the real evil. Plus, at times I thought this book was cruel to women, like when the parson tells Maria that excessive curiosity in women is dangerous. It was like to yell at him, "What? Only men can be interested in things?". Perhaps it was a way of thinking during the era in which the book is set, but it clearly bothered me. How is Maria supposed to be a heroine in those terms? A hero is such because he decides that rules -mostly the stiffling ones, like here- no longer apply to him/her if they won't help to reach his/her goal. At least for me, if the hero estrictly follows the accepted rules, then that's not being a hero, but an obsequious idiot. 

In general, I recommend to watch the movie before reading the book; but The Secret of Moonacre is one of those movies in which, I think, if they are going to alter the original story that much, it is easier to change the names, and done! A new story to tell. I passed the pages eager to get to the moment in which Maria jumped from the cliff to the sea, and the white horses brought her back, but that never happened. Huge disappointment.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and it had one thing that fairly deserves to be mentioned. The moment in which the white horses appeared. I think it was the only one in the whole book in which I could truly feel inside the story. With this:

"...And it was not only that the darkness was yielding, for the silence was broken too. Far off, faint and mysterious, they could hear the sound of the sea."

The idea of hearing the ocean, even when it was far away and it shouldn't be heard, was lovely. The first touch of real magic I was expecting from page one. And then...

"To the east, where was the sunrise and the sea, light was stealing into the woods, like a milkwhite mist, and as the light grew so did the sound of the sea grow too. And then it seemed as though the light was taking form. It was still light, but within the light there were shapes moving that were made of yet brighter light; and the shapes were those of hundreds of galloping white horses with flowing manes and poised curved necks like the necks of the chessmen in the parlor, and bodies whose speed was the speed of light and whose substance seemed no more solid than that of the rainbow."

That was the most magical moment in the whole book, and I loved it. But it didn't make up for the fact that I passed the pages bored, and I never stopped waiting for the true conflict to begin.

Lots of people adore this book, because they probably read it as kids, and I understand it perfectly. But, sadly, it is not for me. Personally, I prefer happy endings after an uphill fight to conquer it, to deserve it, and not as it happens here, where everyone gets married and is happy (including Maria, and at 14! - seriously?).

So, in short, this isn't such a bad book, but it is definitely not for me.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A MUST VISIT for bookworms around the world!

Hello, everyone!

The world has many wonderful places, and today, I want to share with you one of my favorites, a true jewel of my beautiful Buenos Aires. As you know, if you read my little bio, I am from Argentina, and the truth is that not many people know of the treasures our southern country holds in its cities. Buenos Aires has true gems in its streets, and today, I want to share with you one of those I love the most, that must be in every traveller and book lover bucket list.

Yesterday, I had a dentist appointment, but going there isn't always bad. One of the things that always makes those days better is that, three blocks away from the clinic, I can visit one of the most amazing bookstores ever built. And it's not just me saying it. The British newspaper The Guardian named it as the second, most beautiful bookstore in the whole world. Let me introduce you to El Ateneo Grand Splendid.

I just can't resist it. Every time I'm around the area, I have to visit this place. If you look up, and let your eyes wonder on that wonderful decoration and splendor, you can easily lose yourself in the fascination, and believe you actually are in the 20th century. Let's explore some of its history, ok?


It was built in 1917, and opened in 1919, meant to house a cinema-theater, on the foundations of what once was the Norte National Theatre, which took the name of Grand Splendid. Back in its theater days, this place had four rows of boxes and the capacity for a 500 people audience, and was famous for the tango presentations and the important figures that performed on its stage, like Carlos Gardel. The theater even had a Radio, installed in 1923.

Today, the bookstore still keeps that old, wonderful splendor, with the original decoration intact, and the red, velvet curtain; but, most definitely, one of the most amazing things this place has are the frescoes in the dome, painted by Nazareno Orlandi, which have their own story to tell.

They catch my attention every time I look at them. It shows an allegorical representation of Peace, painted in 1919 as a celebration for the end of the I World War. The Peace is represented by a sensual female figure, next to a ladder sorrounded by flower garlands, clouds, doves, angels and nymphs, everything as a way to show that the world has left the cruel war and its horrors behind. And on the opposite side, on the left, we can find another female figure holding a projector whose film wraps around the Peace, as if connecting the new technology with the praises towards love, peace and harmony.


It's beautiful, isn't it?

The bookstore has worked there since 2000. In what used to be the private boxes, now you can sit to read and have some coffee, or find one of the comfortable chairs where you can take any book with no purchase required (there's a very nice table with comfy chairs around the romance area). Or you can take a sit in the restaurant and confectionery (where the old stage used to be), order your favorite drink, and simply enjoy a good moment listening to the piano music that always floats around.

If you ever have the chance to visit Buenos Aires, you won't want to miss this place (and you will probably find me walking there). Any book lover will find it fascinating. I can tell many people from other countries visit it; once I helped two Chilean women to find the price of a book, and yesterday, I saw and heard people from Japan, the USA, France, England, and many other countries. After all, who can resist going there? Even if you don't love books, the place itself lures you in with its great beauty.


If you want to see more, you can find more pictures and see the decoration details here: http://www.ba-h.com.ar/buenos_aires/libreria_el_ateneo_grand_splendid.htm#.V6-ImHVS3VN

Thanks for reading! And please, feel free to leave your comments and opinions!
'till next time!




Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Typical Bookworm Problem!

Hello, there!

So far, I've just posted my reviews on some of the books I've been reading for the past year, and the past months, as I followed my reading challenges, both of them to read at least twenty books in twelve months. This year, I'm almost there, there's only three books left!

If you are like me, probably you have a to-read least with over a hundred titles, and every time you read one, you end up adding two or three more to the list. It's an ever growing novel bucket list. Right? So, there's a point in which we bookworms asks ourselves, "and now? What I will read next?", and the answer simply doesn't come, because we have so many options, that we don't even know for which genre we are in the mood for. Maybe fantasy, or romance, or a nice chicklit to relax a bit after your last reading left you reeling on your sit. Personally, it happens to me a lot. So I decided to find a possible way out for our little big dilemma.

True to my love for Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, I went for the method that lead them both to be two of the greatest stories I've ever read: the sorting.

Let me introduce you to my to-read jar.


Isn't it cute?

I got the idea from Pinterest, and I loved it! So I searched my house, grabbed one of the many empty jam jars left around, and used an old stencil to decorate it, painting those butterflies, and the black arabesque on the other side, in acrylic. Very homemade, nothing very hard for us who don't do very well with art (but still love it), and true to its purpose. Inside, I put little papers with all those titles I've been adding to my to-read list over the years, and they look pretty much like this:


I was going to make them handwritten at first, but then I typed them; after all, it was faster. Those went into the jar folded in two, so I wouldn't cheat. From there, I would I pick randomly, and voilá! There is my next reading. The fun thing is that anything can come out, but I admit (not very proudly) that more than once I returned the paper to the jar, whether because I wanted to leave that book for another, better moment, or simply because I couldn't get it yet (as you know, some books are more difficult to find than others), and went for another I already had in the ever growing pile. 

It has worked so far. Sometimes we don't read not because we don't have books, but because we have too many, and all of them present a unique path, with their own charms and twists and turns, luring us in... All of them at the same time. So here it is an idea to help you make the choice. If not for reading the first book that comes out sorted, at least you can clear your head and discover which genre you feel more like reading this time.

Please, feel free to comment and leave your questions! Also, you can visit me in my Pinterest account, here https://es.pinterest.com/cintiatch/, and see my collection of book covers. And if you don't know what to read next on whatever genre you like (or want to try something new), and need recommendations, feel free to leave a comment, and I'll do my best to help you to figure out your next book!

Thanks for reading!