Monthly Archives: January 2012

Book Review: The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

The Swan Thieves Review

The Swan Thieves Review

“In the end, I always act from the heart, even if I also value reason and tradition. I wish I could explain why, but I don’t know.” – Elizabeth Kostova, The Swan Thieves


started reading this book on December 28, 2011 and finished January 15, 2012. It took me a while because I got really busy with work. 😦

What attracted me to this book is that it appears to be a historical art fiction with a hint of mystery. Something that first made me think of The Girl With Pearl Earrings. I am a fan of books with references on history and especially the arts, being a frustrated artist myself. I am not an artist, I can not even draw a good stick figure. But I do know how to appreciate. 🙂

Moving on, here’s what I liked about the book:
  • Very appealing. Robert Marlowe acquires the renowned painter Robert Oliver as his patient when he tried to stab a painting. Marlowe then travels around meeting people who might be able to shed some light on the reasons behind Oliver’s breakdown. The book mainly comprises of the memories and insights of these people told in the voice of that particular individual–some sort of first person interludes. This appeals to me so much. Each chapter tells me more about the characters and the gradual revelation, exploration, and turn of developments makes this reading worthwhile.
  • Different points of view. Hearing from the individual’s point of view is a refreshing take because it feels like they are honestly and actually telling you their story face to face. The author was able to blend the different points of view in past and present tense to create an elaborate whole piece by piece.
  • Vivid and fascinating descriptions. All events and characters are described so vividly, it’s as if they were really alive and not just fictional. Even the paintings are described in such a way that you would think the writer actually saw what she’s been describing. Her words put a very stunning visual in my mind.
  • Makes me want to be a painter. The way she writes would definitely make you feel this way. I actually browsed through paintings especially the ones that she mentioned in the book that actually exist just to see with my owns eyes the power of her compelling descriptions. Her descriptions of the paintings are really dramatic and realistic.
And here’s what I did not like:
  • It is such a slow read, kind of dragging at times. If you are used to reading fast-paced, action-driven novels, this one is an opposite. The story line develops gradually so it takes a while to see some action. Plus, the book is almost 600 pages long so it takes a while to finish.
  • Very short chapters. I like short chapters the way James Patterson writes it. But when it comes to historical mysteries, I prefer long ones. Plus, I noticed that some of the chapters just stop for no reason at all. So it is kind of annoying.
  • Repetitive and wrong descriptions. I do not need to be told that over and over that Robert Marlowe is a gifted psychiatrist who can “make a stone talk.” Plus, she uses the word “transparent” to describe old people’s hands. You can’t see through their skin. Translucent would have been a better word.
  • The characters all sound alike. It’s a good thing that she puts the name of each character in the chapter headings. Otherwise, I would only have the locations and salutations in letters to differentiate each character. I believe that Kostova should have made each character more distinct in their voices.
  • The disappointing ending. I thought there would be more to the story, but there wasn’t. What kept me reading for a long time just made me feel disappointed after. There wasn’t any real big mystery. At the end I just felt like, “So that’s all there is to it?” Why would the painter go all quiet just because a woman from the past was blackmailed? Then why, after Marlowe discovers the mystery, did Oliver suddenly speak and say “Thank you” and get miraculously cured?
Overall, I’m going to rate this book a 4 out of 5. Despite its flaws, I still like it. I would recommend this to those interested in art, history, and mystery.

Have you read any of her books? Let me know what you think! 🙂

xoxo,
Moe

*Elizabeth Johnson Kostova is an American author. She is a graduate of Yale University and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress. Her first novel, The Historian, was published in 2005, and it has become a best-seller.
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Reading is more FUN with Kindle Fire!

Lovin' my Kindle Fire!

Lovin' my Kindle Fire!

Reading has become more exciting with my new Kindle Fire!

With my new gadget, my reading life would definitely change! I was one of those bookworms who love going to the bookstore to smell, or rather sniff, the pages of a book repeatedly, inhaling its aroma. That is aside from checking out the new releases, of course.  Even when blindfolded, I could differentiate a book whether it is old or new just by smelling it. I was so frugal when I was still studying so that I could use my allowance to buy books, whether brand new or secondhand. I must have spent tens of thousands already with all the books I bought. But I do not regret that at all. In fact, I am proud to have them in my personal library.

When the first e-book reader came out, I wanted one immediately. But it was so expensive for me back then… and besides, I always knew that something better would eventually be released. And thus, I discovered Kindle. I was first introduced to the Kindle by my friend MK. She recently bought a Kindle and I sent her some of my e-books for her to read. And then I decided that I want one for myself too. Having an e-book reader would save me a lot of effort from always bringing books with me wherever I go. An e-book reader can hold thousands of e-books and yet still weigh less than 500 grams. Also, I would be able to save much more since I would just be downloading the e-books for free. 🙂

So I was choosing between Kindle, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Fire. Of all the models of Kindle, I chose Kindle Fire since it is the most advanced and the only one with its own back light and it can also play music, videos, etc.

Amazing, right? To know more about the features of Kindle Fire, you may visit Amazon.com.

Yesterday, I was finally able to get my own Kindle Fire! Major thanks to my boyfriend Rhalph, who is just simply amazing! 🙂

Holding my KF

Holding my KF

I bought mine from Nelson and Kris on Facebook. (Thank you for a fast and worry-free transaction. Kudos!) If you purchase from them, you get lifetime access to a wide array of e-books. Plus, they even have the latest bestsellers. As for my own collection, Rhalph helped me by finding where I could download even the latest releases for free! I actually have 10GB of e-books in my collection! 🙂

Here’s what I got in the package:

The Amazon Kindle Fire Box

The Amazon Kindle Fire Box

A user guide

A User Guide

The Kindle

The Kindle

And a Charger

And a Charger

I am so happy with it! I loaded it already with the US Bestsellers this January 2012! I’m gonna start reading in a while. ❤ I was also able to sideload apps from GetJar. Yey!

Sadly, Amazon app store is not available in the Philippines. I still have to try and make it work by other means. I hope some of you could help me with this one.

So that’s it for now. Do you have a Kindle too? Share your stories. 🙂

xoxo,

Monique

2-0-1-2! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Ohh ohh
2-0-1-2
Ohh-yeah
It’s alright, Oh It’s alright…

Turn it up .. Turn It Up.. Mash it up
We gonna party like
Party like it’s the end of the world
We gonna party like, like it’s 2012
You know that it doesn’t matter as long as we got each other

Turn it up.. Turn it up .. Mash it up
It ain’t the end of the world

We celebrated 2012 by playing 2012 by Jay Sean Ft. Nicki Minaj! Happy New Year everyone!

I am happy to say that our 2011 was way better than 2010. Of course there were a lot of struggles and problems along the way but we were so blessed by God that the bad things seem so minute already. 🙂 I am very much looking forward to a better, healthier, and more awesome 2012!

We had a very simple celebration today. No more grand fireworks. No more elaborate preparations… After all, the most important thing is that we are celebrating the coming of the new year with our family. Live simply so that others may simply live.

Here are some snapshots taken last night. Enjoy!

Tiki and her self-made niche

Tiki and her self-made niche

All dogs are afraid of the noise from the fireworks. Thus, they were all placed inside the house. Our dachshund Tikiwiki has a special place in the girls’ room, being pregnant and the favorite as well. She is such a smart dog that she made her own bed from the small pillows that we have.

Love for New Year

Love for New Year

While everyone’s wearing polka dots, I wore a lot of hearts. 🙂 Cheers to a year filled with love! Loving people are very peaceful. Agree? So if we want world peace, let’s go for love for all mankind first. 🙂

Mariah and Trisha

Mariah and Trisha

Mariah, Mama, and I

Mariah, Mama, and I

With some neighbors

With some neighbors

Patrick and Papa

Patrick and Papa

Mikey wasn’t around because he had to go to work. 😦

Food!

Food!

Like during Christmas, Mama prepared everything. I was making myself well from having allergies so I slept pretty much the whole afternoon. My mom really deserves an award for being the best mom! 🙂 She’s working so hard already during workdays and at home she still prepares good food for us. 🙂 Mama prepared sandwiches with ham, cheese, and grape jelly. (It’s a weird combination but it’s tasty.) Then, she also prepared pancit (for long life), potato salad, mushroom soup, and buko pandan. 🙂 Very simple but fills not just our stomachs but also our hearts. 🙂

Wishing you all a fantabulous 2012! ❤

More pictures on my Facebook or Photobucket. You can also HYPE my look on my Lookbook. 🙂 Thanks!