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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

J. Randy Taraborelli - Michael Jackson - The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story

Isbn: 978-0-446-56474-8
Releasedate: August 5, 2009 (re-release)
Genre: Biography - Reallife / HC format
For sale at : The Book Depository Store

Synopsis
So much has how been said and written about the life and career of Michael Jackson that it has become almost impossible to disentangle the man from the myth. This book is the fruit of over 30 years of research and hundreds of exclusive interviews with a remarkable level of access to the very closest circles of the Jackson family - including Michael himself. Cutting through tabloid rumours, J. Randy Taraborrelli traces the real story behind Michael Jackson, from his drilling as a child star through the blooming of his talent to his ever-changing personal appearance and bizarre publicity stunts.

This major biography includes the behind-the-scenes story to many of the landmarks in Jackson's life: his legal and commercial battles, his marriages to Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe, his passions and addictions, his children. Objective and revealing, it carries the hallmarks of all of Taraborrelli's best-sellers: impeccable research, brilliant storytelling and definitive documentation.
REVIEW
This book tells about an incredibly life, the journey and path in life that the King of Pop and humanitarian Michael Jackson took in the nearly 51 years he lived. The road to stardom and the consequences of being as famous as him, the extortion and the seclusion, the lonelyness and eccentricities.

Michaels lifestory is so incredibly emotional, impressing, amazing, shocking and nearly unbelievable in so many ways! This book tells the complete story from his early living years in Gary, Indiana to his passing in Bell Air, California. This will probably be one of the last updated versions on this novel and is supposedly written by someone who met up with Michael many times throughout all his life and claims to have an inside scoop on things.

The beginning of the story tells about the abuse, physical as well as emotional, Michael and his siblings endured from his father. The total opposite lifestyles of his father and his religious mother, which gave a distorted example of how to live a good life and were total opposites in every sense of the word. It shows how his parents, the record companies and representations, as well as being in the spotlight isolated him from normal life ever since he was a young boy. He has been alone and lonely for most of his life, misunderstood and never appreciated for his opinion when he needed it the most. It shows that he always was a shy introverted boy, but instead of helping him find a way to being more extravert and open they shielded him from the outside world making it impossible for him to take a stand in a social life.

To tell this part of Michael’s life takes up to about 400 pages in this book, is extensive and really takes you on the road towards stardom and into Michaels thoughts and life. This was the part that touched so many of my emotions and really got me connected to Michaels life from the inside point of view. However I found it a bit annoying that throughout the pages this author placed remarks towards the future from his own point of view. This irritated me on a certain level because when I read a biography I want to read about someone’s life story not about the opinion of the author, I can make up my own mind thank you very much! It irritated me and it was then that I started to see typo’s and grammar mistakes in sentences, wrongful use of words and sentences that were incomplete. For a book published this many times I expected it to be near to flawless, especially in the first half. Boy was I in for a surprise later in the story as that worsened!

The first part makes clear to me what I had known all along. Michael held out his heart; pouring with love for everyone to see; take from or enjoy; without any boundaries, borders or walls protecting it on his part, only hoping some of the love he gave would be given in return unconditionally. Everyone sensitive enough to it would see it in everything he did. From his love towards his mother, to the love for his fans, for the underprivileged people of this world, to the animals he had living at home.

No matter how his heart was bruised, kicked at, torn up, or smashed to pieces. No matter how much time it took him to come back, he stayed in search for that one small bit of light to grasp and pull himself back towards it.

When he was brought down in that deep dark cold space all I could feel was the need, the want, the desire to keep his heart safe from harm and warm it with my own love and heal the pain he has lived with so many years and make it better for him. Reading this book only strengthened that feeling and makes me more sad that he never had someone to blanket him as he needed to be.

One particular scene stayed with me and still pops into my mind every now and then, that was where young Michael (if I remember correctly about 14 years at that time) warned a fan who was invited up to the apartment his brothers rented for some “action” to not go, even wrote her a note with his autograph asking her not to go as he told her: They wouldn’t treat you right. She decided to ignore it and went anyway. She went and Michael was brought home, got out of the car, recognised her and said: I can’t believe you went. She was all up in tears and regretted that she had done so. She got into a cab and left… To me it showed everything Michael was, even back then they didn’t listen to what he had to say. He was not trusted in what he said.

No matter how controversy and eccentric a picture of Michael, J. Randy Taraborrelli painted I dreaded reading the last pages of this book. Of course it really was real, Michael had died June 25, 2009, but to read it as a final thought in this book was just surreal to me. It was the ending of a person’s life who never was able to live life.

I said it before in this review that in my opinion as an author of a biography you should remain objectivity, remain to facts and keep an open mind. In the writings of the past 15 years J. Randy Taraborrelli was not able to do that. It felt what he wrote down was not inside information but more stories gotten from outside sources. The spelling, grammar and wrongful use of names is stunning, and rather implies the quickness it’s written and released again and again without taking the time to read and edit it and re-read it with every new publication.

I’ll name a few of these to stipulate that I’m not just saying or making it up:

  • Neverland has been said to have both 27,000 & 2,700 acres of ground.
  • The videographer interviewing the Arvizo family was name as both Christian Robinson and Christian Anderson.
  • The DCFS was also named DSCS.
  • There are countless grammar mistakes in the built up of sentences that make you have to re-read sentences to understand what is being said.
  • And there are typo’s that make your brow raise as well.
What makes this book quite difficult to read as well that it’s written up in chapters, it reads very confusing at certain points, especially in the later years because in one chapter you find yourself reading information from i.e. 1994-1997 when the next chapter will take you back to i.e. 1992-1993.

There was a remark in the book that made me want to lash out to J. Randy Taraborrelli. Although it has to be somewhat applauded that in the ‘Chandler-case’ he remained saying wasn’t sure what had transpired-personally. However, in my opinion looking at the facts he brought forth in this book, it was clear that Michael was innocent. I knew that then and after reading this book I’m even more sure of it now. But I’m coming back to the fact that his opinion does not fit in a book portrayed as a biography! In the ‘Arvico-case’, in his own words he knew it was a set up.

What made me want to lash out however was that after the acquittal of Michael June 13, 2005, a woman came up to J. Randy Taraborelli saying to him “After all of THIS, what if he really IS innocent?”

He wrote in response to that and I quote: “As I looked at the startled expression on her face, I felt a chill shoot down my spine and I thought to myself… ‘Oh, my God! What is he really IS?’

It made me want to scream and say “You dimwit, do you finally get it now??!!! It, for Christ sake took you long enough!’

For someone who they claim knows or is an ‘expert’ on Michaels life it seems to me that he might only know what Michael wanted him to know, but never understood the essence of Michaels being. I think Michael never forgot the fact that J. Randy Taraborrelli is indeed a journalist and in his world they could not be trusted. Throughout his whole life people backstabbed him and he remained cautious towards certain people, unfortunately not so cautious towards the one that hurt him the most.

The question remains though, would I recommend this book for reading, is it what I expected from reading a biography and did it really give me the satisfaction of getting the inside information on this person’s life?

I have to admit that it’s difficult to extract myself from the way it is written and the person who it is written about. Michael, throughout the years has affected and touched more in my life that I realized.

The first 400 or so pages give a clear, insightful view and a lot of information on Michaels life so in order to establish if this is biography worthy I have to say yes, surpassing grammar mistakes and writing errors. It touches every fibre of my being, emotion, stirs me on every level and leaving me amazed in all that he had experienced in his life (good and obviously bad!). Throughout the years after that, it becomes more clear to me that this story isn’t written from Michaels perspective anymore but from the authors viewpoint. Throughout it all I missed real interaction with Michael (though the second half a lot more that the first half). So it left me feeling bereft and misguided by the title.

The last 4 years the author has only been in touch with Michael on the phone twice and only for a few minutes and the years before it seems that contact has been minimum too! So to name this book:

‘The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story 1958-2009 / Updated with new chapters on the stars last years and last days’

is not accurate! The last deals only with the rumours everybody knows, the news everybody knows but I have not come across a snippet of information about the allegedly private lifestyle Michael had according to this author that wasn’t already know to me through other means. It came across as though the author was trying to say “I know Michael and I want the whole world to know as well.”

All in all the positive feelings I have about this book is that it kept me focussed on Michael, his life and him as a person. It made me understand even more about his past and giving a total different view on Michael and the Record Companies and Paparazzi and their influence on Michaels subtraction to open up and live a very secluded life.

What is a nice addition to reading Michaels story is that certain televised performances can be looked back on sites like ie. youtube. It shows even more how exquisite Michael as a performer was. Despite all the things going on in his personal life, he was able to tune that out completely and still give his best performance ever. A good example of that it: Billie Jean Motown 25-the first time he performed the ‘Moonwalk’ eventhough it originally is called the backslide but media picked it up as the moonwalk. Behind the scenes there is so much turmoil and drama going on, but he got up on stage, did his thing and not one moment can you see on his face the hurt he feels inside.

As a biography, how it’s written – structure as well as writing-language left quite a bit to be desired and I think the book is as successful as it is because of the subject and timing of every (re) release. For me as a reader it left me with the desire to read more inside information and still left me with unanswered questions that should have been answered at least partially by someone who claims to have been on the inside!

And most of all what I really missed was the last years of Michaels life. Information about his return, his rehearsals and of course the weeks from his passing away to the memorial service in Staples, the world newly awoken to his music and life. This biography is NOT the whole story, it is NOT a completed biography and the fact that almost 60 (!!!) pages are used for acknowledgements are a rip off in my opinion. I’m left very dissatisfied about the last almost 368 pages.

The last 4 pages are a reflection of J. Randy Taraborrelli walking through an empty Neverland that rose my hair and gave me goose bumps, realizing that this author just wanted some publicity to pour drama to his last reflection. I was not fooled by it, my eyes opened up and left me thinking ‘You bollocks! If you only see this now that he has passed, you never really knew Michael at all!’ But then again it really shows how the press used Michael to their own raise to fame – this journalist in the end seems no exception to me.

Would I recommend this read? It depends on the reason why you want to read this book. If you’re a lifelong fan following him from as early as the 70’s, looking for new information, I think most of the written pages hold information you already know. However the early years give some background information on Michaels life that might be of interest to you. If you became interested in Michael after his passing, wanting to know more on his life, it is a good way to start your search, but if you are longing to read more information about Michael (in-depth and private) on his let’s say last 20 years I’d say don’t bother buying it, all the information can be looked back on the internet and it does not give you anything real constructive.

Would I read other ‘biographies’ written by this author? As simple as NO, and simply because in the end he was not objective concerning Michael which lead me to realize that a biography might best not be written by one person or at least not by this author alone. It should not be opinionated and should consist of information given by the topic and not for 90% people from outside. I missed so much viewpoints from Michael, how he looked on life, how he stood in it all and where he came from.

All in all in the end I would like to close my review that my critique and review on this book is based on how it’s written, structured, set up, it is as a viewpoint on the writing skills of this author and NOT on the person it is written about!

3 Stars
Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kim Lenox - Night Falls Darkly


Genre: Paranormal
Book 1 in the Shadow Guards series
ISBN: 978-0-451-22537-5
Releasedate: October 2008
Publisher: Signet
Format owned: HC Rhapsody & MPB
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis
A cunning immortal who's been called upon to reclaim a marked soul...

Ever since an accident took away her memory, Miss Elena Whitney can't recall the secrets of her own past. All she knows is that with her mysterious benefactor Archer, Lord Black, returning to London at the behest of Queen Victoria, she should seize the chance to get some answers.

A member of the immortal Shadow Guard, Archer has been summoned to London to eliminate the soul of an evil demon - Jack the Ripper. Archer feels not only bound to protect the women of the night, but also his beautiful young ward, Elena, whom he spared from death two years before. But with a wave of panic spreading across London, Archer fears that Elena is his weakness - a distraction he can't afford, especially since she's likely to become the Ripper's next target...

REVIEW
Elena finds herself in the claws of a killer and her savior appears on the rooftop to help her out. In her getting saved from said kiler she falls of the rooftop making her memory blank out. After she spend her time recovering she tries to built up a life for herself, she knows there is a guardian Lord Black but he’s not in London.

With a killer on the loose in the streets of London she has to be careful on the Eastside of town but she eagerly wants to start a study which is on that side of town. One day she comes home and finally gets the chance to meet her guardian, things aren’t what they seem, but the attraction between them is evident and not avoidable-no matter how hard they try.

I had to get into the writing in the beginning as when some speak as it’s written is exactly like the lower class speech. I had to get used to that a lot, but once I got settle into that I was hooked onto the story!

The twist between the shadow guards, the Transcended in combination with the Jack the Ripper history gives this story something rather unique and thrilling to read. Especially as it’s set in a Victorian Historical timeperiod which – by the way – was captured marvelously in my opinion. Throughout most of the book the attraction between the hero and heroine lingers and gives a more “Regency” like vibe to it all, but it’s out there and that satisfied my need for a bit of romance in each story I read.

Elena is a woman who has no memory of who she was from before her previous encounter with a ‘dark encounter’ and is trying very hard to remember her past, her loved one’s - all the while trying to make herself the purposefull life she craves. She is smart, sweet, loveable and passionate as well as very brave.

Lord Archer Black is this thousands year old Shadow Guard who has seen it all. He has this intensity around him making you want to peal back the layers around him to get to the centre of his being. He is one of the guards who has to deal with Jack the Ripper on the lose, whom is giving them a hard time in catching him. Archer has to deal with the duality of the excitement of something new on his plate to deal with and the need on a personal level to keep Elena from harms way. Elena - who by the way - stirs feelings inside him he thought had been long gone.

There are a few other characters coming to scene who play a keypart in this novel and Mr. Leeson is one of them. I find him amusing as well as entertaining. The twins Marcus and Selena and dr. Charles Harcourt stick to mind mostly. Some with just the blishfully normal life and others with some – how do I call it – interesting quirks which gives this book a great twist.

This story takes place in 1888 which brings this setting into a world of beyond the average historical regency and historicals I have read so far and to me that stirred up my need to read on. You can taste the way of living changing a bit more to what we are used to these days. The struggle of women wanting to make it on their own and the dangers that come along without the protection of a strong protocol and guardian by their side.

There is a particular scene between Queen Victoria and Archer that made me instantly aware of how far the paranormal abilities of the Shadow Guards can reach, and how they have to have the ability to constantly keep reaching between the moraly right and wrongs for the “humans”. It struck my emotions and left me amazed by Kim Lenox’ writing skills – in that one small scene between them she was able to hit my emotions full force!

The romance/love connection between Elena and Archer builts up gradually making it a lingering sub-plotline. I really liked the fact that Elena has the struggle of wanting to take some action on it, but the shyness as well to not do so promptly when she experiences the fluttering feeling of attraction. It stipulates the fact that in this timeperiod the world was already changing a bit to the likings of nowadays. Because the love between them is taking it’s time to built up, it was all the more important to read about the attraction they felt for both their point of view. The story changes from both sides on and off so it didn’t leave things to be desired in the romantic department for me whilst reading this novel.

As the story builts up in the first half, Kim Lenox takes her time in letting the reader know the characters and giving bits and pieces of the Shadow Guards world and how Archer fits in that. In the middle Jack the Ripper starts stirring up giving more and comes to scene more often. The ending is climactic and though it rounds up things concerning the love between Archer and Elena it leaves plotlines open in which the next book will continue. The duality of their love building up and the murders getting more brutal and viscious makes this novel the addicting blend you just cannot put down. It’s making you crave to get your hands on the next novel so it made me straight away go to the buy-button and ordered So still the night.

Kim Lenox is a firm believer of Happily Ever Afters and that shows in this story. In the love-connection between Archer and Elena she focusses on the feelings and emotions of it and eventhough there are ofcourse sensual scene’s they are really that! Because the focus is on the emotions it comes across as sensual instead of sexual and I loved that because it made this book a real Paranormal Romance!

4,5 Stars

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shayla Black - Tempt Me With Darkness


Shayla Black – Tempt Me With Darkness
Genre: Paranormal
Book 1 in the Doomsday Brethren
ISBN: 1-4165-5858-6
Releasedate: August 6, 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format owned: MPB
For sale at: The Book Depository Store


Synopsis
He’s an immortal knight hungering for satisfaction. . . .
As soon as Marrok sees Olivia Gray, he’s sure they met in eons past. He’s felt her soft, gentle curves writhing in pleasure beneath his own powerful body. . . Morganna! For centuries, towering Marrok, once the mightiest of King Arthur’s warriors, has endured a terrible curse the witch cast upon him when he spurned the witch.


She’s a modern woman about to discover ancient magic. . . .
Olivia shares a mystical—and irresistible—connection with brooding Marrok. Soon after the sexy warrior appears in her erotic dreams, he abducts her, demanding she uncurse him. Their intense passion is more powerful—and intimate—than either of them has ever known. Olivia may be the key to unlocking the diary that will break Morganna’s hold on his life. But in the wrong hands, the book also holds the power to destroy magickind. As they search for answers, a ruthless wizard returned from exile is building an army of evil. When he discovers Marrok and Olivia have the diary, only their love—with the help of a powerful group of magical Brethren—can save them.
REVIEW
Marrok, an ancient warrior from the reign of King Arthur, trapped by a spell cast upon him by the witch Morganna La Fey to immortal life, has been around for a very long time. Once he had the dream that he would have a way out of this immortal life he quickly finds himself in a situation not foreseen taken care of a girl he claims is Morganna herself.

Unbeknownst to Olivia, Marrok thinks she is the key to unlock a book known to be able to uncurse him. However there is also the catch that this book is powerful enough to destroy mankind in the wrong hands. To make matters worse a dark and rogue wizard returns from exile and is making a steadfast group of followers to help him get what he wants.

An century-old pact of hatred between wizards and witches has to be laid to rest, to help safe the world, henseforth the Doomsday Brethren are introduced!

It starts up with a very demanding and erotic dream that introduces Marrok and connects the dots to why he, as an ancient warrior, is still allive in the 21st century, why he so much seeks revenge on Morganna and why he wants to undo the curse she bestowed upon him. As expected from Shayla Black this first book in the Doomsday Brethren has it’s scorching hot scenes, starting with this one!

Tempt me with Darkness, is a classic and solid introduction to a new series by this author. It holds a thorough basic explanation on worldbuilding and characters. It shows very much the potential that this series can be brought to further heights with the follow-up books. Though the theme of a brotherhood (Brethren) protecting the world from evil is one that we come across a lot in books as of late, Shayla Black is able to give it a different surrounding environment, using old legends in new settings, where good stands against evil once more. Ofcourse with the incredibly hot scenes between the hero and heroine!

Marrok is the warrior type loved amongst many. Alpha Male, demanding, seeking revenge, creative (who doesn’t love a man who can create with his hands!), brooding, reluctant to follow rules, but sensitive and tender once you found a way to his heart.

Olivia however, is a woman on the brink of finding the magic she unbeknownst to herself holds within. A girl who is trustworthy, follows feeling over rational interpretation, passionate but very sweet and strongminded as well.

Their interaction is strong and sharp, verbally, and has to overcome issues as trust and betrayal. What really got me connected to them as a couple was the fact that the everyday emotions of doubt and trust (being able to lay your heart in another’s hands), were difficult for them to surpass. Especially as the world around them, gives them obstacles to solve whilst working out their feelings for eachother. It took this romance from the fairy-tale like of it all and threw it back into reality. Some ‘Romance’ readers might not perceive it well but it does fit within this world an the way Shayla Black set this world up so for me it fits right in.

The story unfolding in Tempt me with Darkness grabbed me from page one. I was intrigued immediately by the fascination of the erotic-tinted dream Marrok had and made me want to read on to find out how it would unfold and which part Bram was playing in it all. What did he know and would his premonition come to be! I was completely surprised with the mate-bonding ritual. It wasn’t strong and urged but it came natural and unexpected to both Marrok & Olivia. It holds a nice little quirk that will leave the expectations of Shayla Black’s readers of other books satisfied.

The secondary characters are as fascinating as the hero & heroine and gives you a certain longing to keep reading on in this series. Ofcourse there is one character within this build up of series that is like an encyclopedia into this world and in this series Bram is that person. Mysterious and with that appealing to me! But these are the good guys. Amongst all this, a brooding chilling evil is raising and it’s one of the few evils that I can say leave my heart cold and frosty and instantly disliking him to every fiber of my heart. I loved it. It’s great to see that contrast and I have to say that every storyline in this book was well balanced and creates a great thrill for the fan of erotic paranormal romance!

Certain plotlines however might come across as a bit of shocking and it made me raise an eyebrow for a bit as well but strangely enough it fitted the picture of good vs the evil portrayed in this book and shows that this author is not afraid to use it to balance it out.

All in all Shayla Black was able to grab hold of me with this sereis and made me a fan of her writing-style even more. I’m so glad I’m able to dive straight into the next installment Seduce me in Shadow to see what will happen next!

4 Stars
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code

Genre: Suspense
Book 2 in the Robert Langdon series
ISBN: 0-552-14951-9
Releasedate: March 18, 2003
Publisher: Transwolrd Publishers Ltd.
Format owned: PB-UK / HC Limited Illustrated edition
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis

Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes.

As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that leads to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci - and suggests the answer to a mystery that stretches deep into the vaults of history.

Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the pieces of the puzzle, a stunning historical truth will be lost forever....

REVIEW

Normally I am not a big fan of novels within the thriller genre, but Dan Brown has got a lifelong fan, with his Robert Langdon series, in me. And to keep things in perspective - since I bought this book 3 years ago, I've read it about 16 times or so - yes I've been told it's not an addiction anymore but a mental issue....

I'm only writing the review now because I've started writing reviews 2 months ago (Sept '06). I remember buying the book, settling in at home, making a cup of tea with some biccies, and the whole time I went : I knew it, I was right all along ~ about the Mary Magdalene part ~. Eventhough the Robert Langdon story is Dan's own creation; he did use facts that no-one can deny! No wonder the Vatican went balistic over this book.

Dan Brown knows how to putt a thrilling story to paper. Every chapter leaves you wondering what comes next and just when you think you have it figured out - the whole thing is mixed up again and new things come to light.

I think this second novel is not as sublime as the first one in this series 'Angels and Demons' it comes very close though. And to be able to do this for a second time in a row as an author I think is amazing. His writing is so formidable that you get sucked into the thrill and are eager to keep reading.

I love Robert Langdon's character and putt him right next to Buffy's - Rupert Giles. Looks as well as personage. The interaction between Sophie and Robert adds to the story and it all just fits like a glove. Amazing. I'm amazed, that's all I can say.

What I think is marvellous as well is (as I've never been to Vatican City / Rome before) the added map of this part of Italy. It was great to be able to see the map that they followed and what came out of it, brilliant.

4,5 stars
Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - RIP



In our darkest hour, in my deepest despair
Will you still care, will you be there
In my trials and my tribulations
Through our doubts and frustrations
In my violence, in my turbulence
Through my fear and my confessions
In my anguish and my pains
Through my joy and my sorrow
In the promise of another tomorrow
I’ll never let you part
For you’re always in my heart
                                ~ MJ Jackson ~

Friday June 26, 2009 – 8.13 CET

I received a text-message from my brother that said: “Michael Jackson has died.”.
That one line made me stop whatever I was doing and I remember staring at my mobile phone for what seemed like forever, but later turned out to be just one small minute or so. That one line made my heart skip a beat, my stomach turn in a twist and my emotions upheaved in all directions.
When my conscious mind became aware and the impact hit full force I texted back: “I had no idea. When?”
I was about to drive off for a family visit 260 km’s away from where I lived but just had to switch on the TV and watch the morning news to see if something was said about it.

There was some footage, some first reactions and a reporter blurted something out – mostly wild guessing at the time. Cause of death wasn’t for sure yet, first news was it was a cardiac arrest. But there it was, not that my brother isn’t a trustworthy news-giver because he is, but up to then it was so surreal, yet, the newsreporter said it a few times, the legendary King of Pop has died on June 25th, 2009 at 14:34 LA-time.

As always with news concerning Michael Jackson, rumours about his passing started up straight away to lead their own life, was it suïcide, did it have to do with all his allegedly surgeries, was it foul play, natural death or drug-abuse? With the news on a quarterly loop I watched it again – and it still didn’t hit home really.




Like many others, I grew up with Michael Jackson, I mean, he was just about in his twenties when I was born so I’ve been hearing about him all my life. Grew up liking his music very much and always looked forward to a new release to see what spectacular video he made with it. Just stipulating here that he is not in my thoughts every day of my life. A few months ago, I however had a dream, totally out of the blue, about Michael Jackson dying. Different circumstances but the result the same. Back then it got me all emotional and that dream stayed with me, it left me with a gnawing feeling ever since, but also with feeling some sort of connection.

I never believed the rumors about the childabuse and people who know me know this because I spoke it out loud every time they reared it’s ugly head. I followed the trial on TV and prayed as often as I could for justice to prevail. If he was indeed guilty let him be found guilty, if he was innocent let him be found not guilty on all charges. When the latter became reality I remember sitting in my bedroom crying happy tears because justice prevailed, but also grieving tears for the man who came out of it broken and torn up even more inside!

I saw and still see Michael as a loving man. Strong because of his views on familly, his charitable work as a humanitan was outstanding, his musical achievements unrivalled and someone who has been fighting for his believes for so long. Eventhough he came across so many people who tried to bring him down, he always stayed the kind, caring and tremendously generous person he was.


I think he was a highly intelligent man. Whenever he heard something if either from history, or facts or something that interested him, he listened when someone tells, takes up the information and is able to use that and relay the information when needed. Without anybody realizing it nowadays he really was steps ahead of his time, always innovating and wanting to come up with something new and always came up with something new. I know he came across as distant and a loner, part of it is because it is in his character but it’s been put upon him as well by record company/manager and such persons.

I know how the music industry works, you still see it going on with popstars these days, they have to come across as available, no wives or relationships or families, just to keep the record sales up. They think the illusion needs to be created, but what they did to Michael, taking it all away from him – in their thoughts they justified it as to protect him… And they knew how to play Michael, they knew what to say and how to say it to make him do so, but at the same time they disconnected him from life in such a horrible way. I can only hope they stop and realize some day that it was part their doing that Michael wasn’t able to live life to the fullest and feel the guild they should feel!

People made millions and millions of dollars of Michael but when he needed their support 99% of those turned their backs and walked away. All for that stupid money and stupid meaningless reputation which never was in danger to begin with. Yes, now it’s in danger, because it’s reflecting negative on them now. But it took him passing away for that to start, a little too late in my opinion.

Everybody who saw the interview with Martin Bashir knew straight away that things were set out to reflect him in a bad way. There have been another tv-program where things were set right by Michael’s own video-taping of the interview. I remember that I saw the first interview with Martin Bashir on TV and I felt a sadness because it was not in line with how I felt Michael was, I’m so glad it was counterspoken and that Michael was able to counterspeak! But it really shows how Michael was constantly surrounded by people who were trying to bring him down. It must have been so tremendously difficult to find light and a positive look on life and the will to keep living and holding onto his own believes – whilst being in the midst of all that negative energy.

Ever since the trial in 2005 there was an emptiness inside of him, a part of him had died in that process. There are moments in interviews from the past years – where he answered questions about his life, where you can see true love and light in his eyes, when he smiled a twinkle lighted up, but most of the time he griefed for the nowadays disconnected society. He had so much love to share and everytime he showed kindness someone took advantage of it and made him suffor till he had no more strenght and God decided that it was time for his son to return home.

Jet Interview - part 1
Jet Interview - part 2
 
Videoclip They don't care about us
 
There are people out there who say “Life goes on, he made great music, but I personally feel no grief.” I respect that. Everybody has their own emotional connections in life. If you don’t feel anything, don’t say it. I honor honesty.

There are people who claim to be friends and grief deeply about his passing but didn’t stand up and speak out loud when Michael went through the difficult peroid of false accusations: because let’s face it, they didn’t want to be connected just in case it gave a black spec or dark reflection on their own carreer à I dispise them! They are trying to get attention now through his passing, all I can say in all it’s crudeness: Up yours!

There are people making sick jokes about his passing: Making fun off it and laughing about it – all I can say to them is “How would you feel if someone else did that about the passing of one of your loved one’s?” Remember what you give it will be returned times three. Karma always balances itselve out! A lot of consideration and respect for other people and their feelings will get you far in life. I will never understand why people do crude things like that and it makes me really sad to see that happening.

Michael was working hard on his comeback – which I know in all confidence – he would have made in such a way that left everybody baffled. He would have been able to hold his head high and show the world the man he is.

In my opinion I think we will never hear the truth about what happened in the room where things occured and at this point it doesn’t matter anymore. I have my thoughts about it but don’t want to go into rumoring about him, I will not lower myself to that point. I’m sure he had good and bad points, it’s what makes us human, we all have our stepping stones to take. I only hope that if it wasn’t natural cause that justice will prevail once more for Michael! He is in his resting place, his soul can heal and he can look back on his life with pride and honor. He stayed true to himself and helped wherever he could with the means he had at hand. He enlightened the lives of so many people.

I however find it difficult to see how long it takes for him to be buried in his final resting place. Even after his death he still cannot find the peace he deserves so much. There’s this whole commotion about his atopsy and such and it feels like his body is dragged all over the place. In my opinion he should be buried at Neverland and to keep that as his final resting place it’ll make a great place for mourning people to go to whenever they feel the need to connect. I know rules and regulations prevent that from happening, but for Michael to be buried on a “public-common” burial ground feels so wrong. Not only because he deserves to have a resting place where his energy is felt by everybody but also because it’s so open to vandalization on such a burial ground. It is just bound to go wrong eventually. I’m already having nightmares about his body being dug up and his thomb/headstone or whatever he will get, being vandalized. People these days just don’t have respect for a final resting place anymore. If Michael would be buried on Neverland he will finally get the peace he craves.


My heart cries out for him and feels like screaming to leave him alone. No more poking around no more pushing and shoving, it’s enough - ENOUGH! That news about his will and what he left to whom is being played out in the media is plain discusting. Ok we get it, he didn’t have financial insight but who cares? He died, there’s a pain in my heart for it, and the need to focus on wanting to remember the person he was (and according to my believe still is) is of so much more value. Let’s all focus on that.

Near to everybody holds some kind of memory to Michael Jackson, through his songs or him as a person and I never expected his passing to touch me this deeply. People are dancing in the streets in his honor, millions if not billions people mourn him, he touched the hearts of more people than anyone else could and if it was up to me he would be up for declaration of sainthood for all the good he did for the world where human society got more distant and careless. He never forgot, so let us not forget and keep up what he set out to do! Embrace the world with love and kindness, help those in need and open your heart for all the pain in the world so we can ‘Heal the world!’

I remember my first Michael Jackson tape, which I got for Sinterklaas (sort of Dutch Santa Claus) it was Thriller, to this day I still have the tape, not able to play it anymore because his ‘Auws’ and “Oehs’ are slightly – read extremely - stretched out and the tape is literally listened to pieces. I was 10 or 11 years old and so very happy that I received it. I really love music – all sorts – but well you know, Michael is Michael. I also at that time received a poster of him (thousands of images on the net and couldn’t find it back!), it was the one from that time in that red royal like outfit with hands folded in front, it has been in my room for years. Later on when my musical direction was more focussed on a boyband that poster slowly disappeared from my bedroom but out of all the posters that have been in my room (and trust me… there were a lot of them!) that one has always stayed in my memory.

The moment that Moonwalker hit the movie theatres me my brother and sister went to see it with my dad – it must be like 8 or 9 times in the theatres. I have it on dvd now (bought it years ago) and every now and then I still watch it. So amazing. That movie touches my emotions on a lot of different levels. Because of the fond memories, but also because in that movie Michael smiles a lot and enjoys himself, it really shows! I always love it when Michael smiles, on film on photo or in sound – when he really laughs his whole face lights up, he gets dimples and always catches my giggles as well.

There is a movie on youtube that shows Michael not being able to stop laughing during an interview, it’s one of my favorites. There is this watch or phone going off during the filming and everytime the journalist wants to ask a question which needs to be translated (it’s an Asian journalist) that darn thing goes off. There are photo’s as well that show Michael smiling – he has such a broad smile that hits his eyes when he is thorougly enjoying something, but there’s a different with smiling politely and really smiling and with Michael you can tell the difference! There are also photo’s where Michael seems so deep in his thoughts and into his own world that it makes me long to be able to read his mind to tell what he’s thinking. It brings out the caring part in me because you can see the sadness in him, the sufforing.

Whenever I see/saw Michael perform live – he does so with so much energy and dynamics that it invigorates me as well, making me want to get up, shake my hips and my heart just overflows with joy. I think that is what makes Michael special to me. He touches parts of my soul, he brings out a better person in me and makes me think about and reflect on my life. How I can be a better person. I recognize bits of my own personality in him. I sometimes catch myself being in my own world, I recognise the need to fight for injustice as well, but I cannot do things on such a large scale. I recognize that the negative energy being send of to me from people outside my family all throughout my life ever since I was 9 years old and how it closed myself and toughened a part of me. It is only now that I realize and recognize what it is that makes me drawn towards Michael Jackson on a personal level instead of only through his music.

I feel like I can write for hours. Every time I finish a sentence another one pops up in my mind. My emotions are like a rollercoaster and to describe them all would be too much and I think some thoughts should be kept private because they are so very personal to me.



***********

At about 8.55CET I went on my way to my familly and every now and then in the car, my eyes teared up and wave of grief touched me. I let my feelings be, felt them as they came and send out my sincerest condolences to the people who truly cared about him and to whom this news came as a shock I can imagine.

Later that day I heared that online stores ran out of Michael’s cd’s and dvd’s. I can forsee like the rest of the world that – like with Elvis Presley – years from now: Michael’s music will still be played – remixed – and re-released a lot. He was and will always be the man who changed music forever.

June 25th, 2009 will go down in history as the ‘black day’ for music – the day when the Legendary King of Pop passed away.

Michael, rest in peace, I hope you finally found the loving place where they care about you for who you are, what you believe and where I know you can give out and receive the unconditional love that you longingly looked for down here but never truly found to cherish in your personal life. Don’t forget to collect your wings, so you’ll be able to fly amongst the angels!

Untill we meet again!

In love and light,

Natascha

This column is copyright protected and may not be duplicated as a part of it or as whole, without the writers written permission.
Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kinley MacGregor - Born In Sin


Genre: Historical Romance
Book 3 in the MacAllisters series
ISBN: 9780380817900
Releasedate: April 30, 2003
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishing Inc.
Format owned: HC Rhapsody
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis
Though few can equal her skill with the sword, Caledonia MacNeely fights an unfamiliar shiver when she is offered in marriage to the infamous "Lord Sin." Though Callie fears this mysterious, unreachable stranger -- less for the dark whispers that damn him than for the heat of his touch -- she is under the order of the English king. And with the fate of her troubled clan hanging in the balance, she has little recourse.


Banished as a child, "Sin" MacAllister learned to despise his Scottish heritage. Yet now, to unmask King Henry's foes, he must return to the hated Highlands -- wedded to a bewitching lass whose flaming red hair matches the fire of her spirit. A cold, hard heart has always been the key to Sin's survival, but this beauty awakens in him a perilous need he's never known.
 
REVIEW
This is Sin MacAllister’s story. He’s the English-Scotsman out of the lot. Given to the Englishmen when he was still a child. With them he went to a cruelty beyon comprehension so he grew up to be the cold-hearted soldier and protector of the king today. Untill he comes across the task to wed ‘Callie’ a Scottish lass on English ground. Could she be the one to open him up?


What makes this novel standing out and rising above others in this genre is Kinley’s ability to write stories which reflect her unique sense of humor. She has a way to put the brotherly connection to words that make you instantly fall for them.

Kinley MacGregor had me highly entertained with this story. She has a brilliance to weave humor into the heavy set harsh reality of Sin’s traumatic past, but sometimes I found it got me out of connecting to Sin and I had the feeling I didn’t get to know enough of him to fully grasp why he was so closed off...

Callie is a fierce, proud and emphatic Scottish lass. She would putt herself at the frintline in a war to protect the one’s she loves. She’s all I would love to see back in a true Scottish heroine from way back then!

I do realize that Kinley’s MacAllister’s are written to entertain her readers, so in that way she definitely delivered again! She sets her characters – main, as well as secundary – down very well.

Though I enjoyed reading this story a lot, the one character who stuck in my mind was Ewan MacAllister. His story is next in line, and I would really love to see what she has in store for him.

With all the humor and funny situations, an underlying plotline also shows, which brings excitement and action in the mis. The easy way she uses humor in her writing – as both Kinley MacGregor and Sherrilyn Kenyon – shows that this is a major part of her personality. It brings a certain flair to her writing that I really love, it makes her novels all the more appealing to read and re-read.

There are two specific scenes in this novel that I kept with me for while after reading this novel. Both ofcourse with Sin and Callie at centre and are just heartwarming and hilarious at the same time. In my opinion they are a great example of this authors writing capability. I’ll give you two small hints; 1st – ‘Blood’ and 2nd – ‘Bull’. Are you intrigued? Best to pick up the book and read for yourself. You will be highly entertained and touched.

4 stars

Kate Holmes - The Wild Swans

Genre: Fantasy
A Stand-Alone Novel
ISBN: 9780505523839
Releasedate: June 13, 2000
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Format owned: MPB
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis
King Richard had had it with frivolous females filling his ears with their foolishness. Yet for all his castles and dragon-slaying, he still needed a wife. Preferably one who wouldn't plague him with womanly whining. One who knew when to shut up. So why not lay claim to the sweetly saucy silent A MAN WHO REALLY LISTENS!

Princess Arianne had had it with meddling males making her life miserable. When her twelve brothers angered an ogre, she was the one stuck spinning nettles into shirts to save them from eternal servitude as swans. And she had to complete the task in total silence! To make matters worse, along came chatty King Richard, wanting to bed her, wanting to wed her. Rugged Richard made her virginal knees weak. But could even a king know a woman's mind--without her speaking it?

REVIEW
King of Avalon etc. etc. etc. – Richard – knows he has to marry, and as a king it should be a princess, but after months of meeting princesses, his ears nearly fell of from all the chatting about useless subjects they’ve been doing, he vows that he would marry the first person who know’s just how to shut up!


THY WILL BE DONE....

I was browsing my shelves for something to read, but it had to be different from what I’ve been reading lately. It was then that my eye fell on this novel. I bought it over a year-and-a-half ago becuase it appealed to me then, but never got around to reading it.

On the cover it says ‘A Faerie Tale Romance’ and it’s exactly that. Kate Holmes took a very well-known children’s faery tale and turned it into a humerous and wickedly fun to read adult faery tale. It totally brings flair on my bookshelves!

The Faerie Tale she uses in this novel is the one where 12 brothers are turned into swans by an old hag in the forrest after they broke into her home and ate her food. Their sister can turn them back by knitting each of them a sweater of nettles, gathered by the light of the full moon – but she has to do it without uttering a word; no singing and no one must know.....

When this event has occured, king Richard arrives at Ariane’s doorstep in the evening, all soaking wet and muddy footed. In that first meeting alone my heart took the leaps it did when my mum read me a bed-time faerie-tale story when I was younger.

Kate Holmes uses the ‘men are from Mars; women are from Venus’ in such a superb way, blends it into this fairytale, giving me the time of my life reading it. As it’s a faery tale historical facts might not be accurate and eventhough the writing sometimes is somewhat rough around the edges, its’all forgiven and forgotten when I turned the last page and let out a long sigh with the Happily Ever After! I was a bit sorry to see it ending where it did though. It would have been more satisfying to read on about the return of the boys at their father’s home.

King Richard etc. etc. etc. captured my heart straight away. Regal with a boyish charm and a typical male outlook on things, which comes perfectly to light with his thoughts being blended into this story. What else can a girl do but fall head over heals? Though he has many friends his relationship with John Paul is exquisite! (for those who are wondering – yes it is his uhm.... manhood...).

Princess Arianne is a young woman who took over her mother’s role in the keep when her mother passed away. Her absent minded father is not able to run the keep, leaves it all up to her. Beneath the weighing responsibility I sensed a girly girl who loves to sing and enjoy life, which came to surface again towards the end of the novel.

Arianne cannot say a word till she finishes knitting the sweaters. That fact, combined with the ‘men are from Mars; women are from Venus’ concept gives this story the oh so recognisable miscommunications between men and women. And as Arianne has difficulty explaining herself Richard has to dig deep and beyond his manly ways to try and understand her.

If you want something ‘dreamy’ to read, this is definitely a novel I would recommend. It gave me such a springtime, butterfly feel good feeling that I just know I will re-read it sometimes and therewith Kate Holmes achieves something not a lot of authors achieve with me as a reader.

Alinea Quote
‘My horse threw me,’ he said. That was close to the truth anyway.
Her equally perfect left brow quirked upward to join the right. Her more that perfect lips twitched with amusement as she let go of his chin and silently stepped back, eyeing him with exactly the same expression Nurse had used whenever he’d told a fib.
Richard blushed ‘.... all right then, I fell off.’
She smiled with an irritating trace of smugness. ‘It was right after everyone else got lost, you see, and – Well, they did!” he said defensively when her smile widened. ‘I’m the king, you know. They’re supposed to follow ME, not some damned bug hart, with as nice a rack as – What? What?!’
She was laughing at him. Outright laughim at him!!!

4,5 stars

Alexis Morgan - Dark Protector

Genre: Paranormal
Book 1 in the Paladins of Darkness series
ISBN: 9781416520368
Releasedate: April 7, 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format owned: MPB
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis
Devlin Bane will die for his cause -and die again if he must. A Paladin in a centuries-old war against the Others, dark creatures that prey on mankind, Devlin is destined to fall in battle and reawaken again and again in his ceaseless fight. And with each death, the Paladin loses another piece of his humanity, slowly becoming one of the monsters he was born to kill.

At his side is Dr. Laurel Young, charged with watching over her Paladin and reviving him each time he meets his death. And as Devlin edges ever closer to darkness, she readies herself for her ultimate task: to destroy the Paladin should he ever become one of the Others. But as the war rages on, Devlin and Laurel are irresistibly drawn together in forbidden passion, and soon find themselves pitting desire against duty. Having sacrificed his life to the cause, will the Paladin also sacrifice his heart?

REVIEW
Alexis Morgan takes us on a journey into the world of Paladins. She created a band of brothers who captured my heart and made it thumb with a warm longing to be the savior of one of these men.


These are not hard balls, but men on the brink of losing themselves into something which takes away their humanity, giving their handlers the power to kill them as soon as this happens. That fact gives these men a certain masculine vulnerability which is implemented in this first story in this series very well, opening the reader up to a new world.

I, for one, was happily surprised with this story. Never in my wildest imagination did I expect such a hidden treasure on my shelves, addicting me to the world where Paladins and Others fight for existance.

It’s written with a certain flair, easing you into a story. From the first page on you get to know the world and built up straight away and Alexis Morgan does it really well-structured. She combines rules and storylines very good, but leaving enough details out in the open that you instantly want to grab and read the next novel in line.

Laurel Young is a handler at the research centre where they care for the wounded and dying/dead Paladins. She could keep distance from them, but she’s the kind of docter that takes a personal interest and cares deeply for her patients. She’s emotional, strong, willfull and stubborn as well, making her a lovely person you would want to get to know.

Devlin Bane is the Paladin this story is all about. On the outside he’s acting all tough and built such a wall around his heart to protect himself, not easy to penetrate, but for some reason Laurel see’s right through him. He finds himself on the brink of crossing to the other side which makes him scared and vulnerable. One of the many reasons he doesn’t want to let Laurel come close, but for some reason he’s powerless against it and before he realizes it, he’s standing outside her door....

These two together work out really well, showing passionate but sweet blooming love with a jolt of suspense – a man hired to do some damage in their world – lingering above their heads.

The band of brothers that we get to meet is greatly described and the one’s that came to play small parts immediatly held my attention. Trahern grabbed my heart instantly (though I have to admit when Baraq came to scene – OH...MY...GOD!).

I read this story in a time when I was a bit averse to the whole ‘warrior-like-men stuck together’-series, because lately we’ve been overflown with the concept, but Alexis Morgan took the concept, gave it her unique twist introducing Paladins with their new set of rules and reminded me why I loved it in the first place.

Needless to say that the Paladins of Darkness swooned me off my feet!

4 Stars
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Carla Neggers - The Angel

Genre: Suspense
Stand-alone Novel
ISBN: 978-0-77832-483-6
Releasedate: May 2008
Publisher: MIRA Books
Format owned: HC - Rhapsody
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis

On a remote stretch of the rugged coast of Ireland, folklorist and illustrator Keira Sullivan pursues the mysterious Irish legend of an ancient Celtic stone angel. As she searches an isolated ruin, she's certain she's discovered the mythic angel, but before she can examine her find, she senses a malevolent presence…. Is someone in there with her? Then the ruin collapses, trapping her.

Keira's uncle, a Boston homicide detective, enlists the help of Simon Cahill to find his missing niece. Simon, an expert with Fast Rescue, a rapid-response search-and-rescue organization, is trying to keep a low profile after secretly assisting in the takedown of a major criminal network, but he rushes to Ireland, pulling Keira out of the rubble just as she's about to free herself.

Simon isn't interested in myths or magic, nor is he surprised when Keira can't find a trace of her stone angel. He doesn't believe it exists. But the gruesome evidence of a startling act of violence convinces him that whatever she found in the ruin, the danger she faces is real.

When the violence follows them to Boston-and escalates-Simon and Keira realize that the long-forgotten story that has captivated her has also aroused a killer…a calculating predator who will certainly kill again.
REVIEW

Patsy, an Irish woman living in Boston with a great story-telling ability,- tells about a legend from Ireland concerning a Stone Angel, three brothers and a place called Beara Peninsula. This inspires Keira, a folklorist and artist to go to this place and illustrate what the story entails. However she gets more than just the normal fairies, myths and folklore – and soon she finds herself in a bizarre swirl of circumstances that on their own seem like accidents but all together might be something more.

I started off reading this novel as a Romantic Suspense because that’s the genre what it’s published in. When I finished reading though, I thought to myself - ‘If I was the judge of it, I’d say it’s more a Contemporary Romance.’ - as the suspense left things to be desired.

I had a bit of trouble getting into the story. The chapter’s each begin in a Law & Order sort of style, starting with date, time, location and as a big fan of the series whenever I started reading a new chapter I heard that tone you hear in the series :S. It should get you eased into the story but instead it slowed me down and made it feel a bit chaotic to me.

The story re-located from Boston to Ireland and I just love to read about the Irish setting. Carla touched a certain vibe that for those who’ve been to Ireland know what she means however some things are a bit cliché as well as making me find it funny. Having been there myself the Irish Knitted jumpers aren’t worn so much anymore ;-) these days. However the time spend in Ireland was way too short for me.

Carla has her own way in writing and you need to keep a straight head making sure not be distracted too much when you read. A lot of characters are main characters in The Angel and sometimes that left me hanging and wondering what happened to the Hero and Heroine – Keira and Simon. I really loved them as characters and feel more pages should have been used to deepen their connection and getting to know them. At some point the storyline of Abigail and Bob took over the story completely.

Keira is this amazing character, extravagant, an artist with a passion for folklore, fairies and myths. I found things of myself back in her that made me instantly understand her and her quirks. Simon is a bit of a mystery, but kind, caring and a balanced person. With his dark hair, green eyes, incredible voice and lean body it made the package of a hunk-a-liscious hero complete for me.

Because I really like these main characters and they are great together, I’m all the more a bit disappointed that they didn’t get as much writing space as they did in this novel. I could easily see this book turning into a trilogy because the other characters really appeal to me and have potential to more. I found out that Abigail Brown has a novel dedicated to her story as well in The Widow but I didn’t miss the fact I hadn’t read that novel beforehand. In this novel events around Abigails past are well-explained and that was great to read, however it took attention away from Keira and Simon and I would have loved to seen the time spend on that storyline to have been spend to her mother, Eileens, past. It suited more in this novel and would have made me connect more to the current Hero & Heroines story.

In the end I think all the different plotlines – past and present – and characters make this story one with not too much depth and too little time spend with each character to fully grasp where Carla wanted this novel to head to and what she wanted to achieve. When I finished I had a major question about the plotline of the stone angel that still leaves me hanging and wondering what was what.

Having said that it was a great read and it did grab me at some level. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the hours I spend reading this novel. It’s easy to read in terms of that there’s not a lot of use of technical terms in the police business. It’s a mixture of humor, drama, a bit of legend and an faint attempt to make things a bit thrilling as suspense but wasn’t able to achieve that last.

My advice is to not read this as Suspense (because then I would have to admit I won’t get any further than a 2,5 star novel) and read it as Contemporary Romance. So herewith I would like to emphasize that the 3,5 stars would be when you leave out the suspense part as a main factor in this novel. What made it a 3,5 star in the end instead of a 3 star book is because Carla Neggers was able to stir my inner emotions and touch my feelings with her characters. There is something about her story telling that does something to me, she paints clear pictures so that I felt as though I was captured in the scenes, looking in on it through a window.

It’s one of those books you can pick up on a dark rainy day, read it and when you finish you know you had a few hours nicely spend. It was an interesting read and makes me wonder how her other novels are so I am trying to get my hands on at least The Widow and some other books by Carla Neggers – most are out of print so hence my hunt begins…

3,5 stars
Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jennifer Ashley - Penelope & Prince Charming

Genre: Historical Romance / Fantasy
Book 1 in the Nvengaria series
ISBN: 9780843956061
Releasedate: June 30, 2006
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Format owned: MPB
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis
His blue eyes beguiled. His muscular form could have satisfied any fantasy. He had a delicious foreign accent—and to top it off, he was royalty! What woman would dare refuse the most sought-after lover in Europe?


Miss Twice-a-Jilt Penelope Trask, that’s who. And, unfortunately for Damien, marrying Penelope is the only way to inherit his kingdom. Good thing this enchantingly infuriating woman doesn't seem completely immune to his many charms. The passionate way she returns his kisses tells Damien he isn’t the only one head over heels. But wooing is difficult amid assassination attempts, wild magic, and desire so strong it threatens to overwhelm him every time they touch. Why had no one mentioned the road to happily-ever-after could be so difficult?


REVIEW
According to a Folklore of his country Nvengaria he was bound to find the long lost Princess of Nvengaria. They would fall in love instantly and she would save his country. When his father died and the ring was enherited by him, this folklore also was brought back to live.



He travelled to Little Marching, England where he would be destined to meet the woman to save his country, he never in his wildest dreams figured she would save him as well!

Where to start off. This book has two sides for me. Jennifer Ashley writes a story that reads with such ease that no matter which mood you’re in, if you either have a stressful time or a busy life it’s still enjoyable and easy to follow. She weaves words into sentences which complete indeed a fairytale- like story as the title would imply. Though that being said, it is a fairytale spiced up with romance and moreso a lot of HOT love-making courtship.

Damien is a loveable hearththrob outcast by a father who didn’t want him to rule Nvengaria. He made his way through Europe in beds of lushious ladies, and captured the liking of many rulers of various countries. With them, he built up a good relationship with a solid foundation, which would come in hand now that his father died, leaving him as only heir to the throne and to rule Nvengaria.

Penelope is the old-spinster of Little Marching who said “no” to two previous marriage proposals making her an outcast in society. She’s frownend upon by the ton and not in line for a bethrothal soon. She has her own values and standards that she wants to live by. And has such a kind caring heart for those she holds close. She has a toughness in her but not too much and knows what is right and what is wrong. She is able to know when to say no and when to fight for what she believes is right. When she loses her control it mostly turns her into a passionate woman who comes across things she never in her wildest dreams would know she would accept or do.

This story, has a solid baseline with the prophesy/folklore that has to be fulfilled. Most of this book is focussed on the courtship between Damien and Penelope, the people directly involved with that, and introduces a nice list of secundary characters, some in favor and some in dislike of Damien, but nonetheless all very likable and I’m pleased to know Alexander and Egan are the main hero’s in the follow-up stories. The suspense factor that I thought would come to closure in the end was a bit disappointing and I was left with a slight feeling of missing something throughout it all, like something was not completed for some reason.

The storyline of whether Penelope is or isn’t the true Princess is not really clear but left more open to interpretation as there are more ways to look at things in the end.

Eventhough I loved the thrill and passion of lovemaking between Damien and Penelope, I felt in the end I had read one too many love making-scenes for a none-erotica and I noticed myself skipping the last two or three of these scenes with the feeling of been there done that. In my opinion it took a bit away from the quality of the story.

Nonetheless it was a great read overall, I enjoyed the time I spend reading it and was highly entertained. It had me interested enough to read on in this series but 3/4th through, it didn’t baffle me as it did in the beginning of the story. It didn’t make it to a 4+ star rating. I had hoped for the story to be more deepened and worked out, despite the fact it’s quality writing. It kept a bit too much to the surface for me.

3,5 Stars
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Loving Memory

One night a woman had a dream. She dreamed she was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from her life. For each scene she noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to her and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of her life flashed before her, she looked back at the footprints in the sand. She noticed that many times along the path of her life there was only one set of footprints. She also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of her life.

This really bothered her and she questioned the LORD about it. "LORD you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied, "My precious, precious child, I Love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints,instead of two, it was then that I carried you."

I'm sad to say that on February 25, 2009 my nanna - not by birth but all the more by heart - has passed away.

After a short hospitalbed we got the news that she quietly passed away during a short induced sleep while docters tried their best to safe her life.

She was one of those grandma's who every one should have had the pleasure to know; loving, caring and always showed interest in everybody who was blessed to know her. Eventhough her body on many occassions gave her health problems having her confined to her wheelchair; eventhough her life sure to say hasn't always been easy, she always stayed upbeat and held a strong heart and will to live.



What I think is the one thing that I learned from her through my dad, is to - no matter what the situation is - always handle it with humor and a smile, stay positive and live life to the fullest. Needless to say that she will be greatly missed by her children, grandchildren, friends and caretakers.

Nanna, I know the light called you and you were ready to say goodbye, I and we feel peace with that, knowing you had no pain and had no long sickbed. You were and are still loved by us all. You will never be forgotten and always remain with us in our hearts!

I know it was time for you to say goodbye
To leave this life behind
In peace you went into the light
For the way back to your creator to find
I’m sure by now you found the peace
Of heaven and of God
That’s why we say farewell today
Forever you’ll be in our hearts

Rest in peace, Nanna!

Your loving granddaughter,

Natascha


Friday, January 2, 2009

JK Rowling - Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince

Genre: Fantasy
Book 6 in the Harrry Potter series
ISBN: 9780439784542
Releasedate: July 1, 2005
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format owned: HC Adult / Bloomsbury
For sale at: The Book Depository Store

Synopsis
The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.


And yet....

As in al wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate - and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weaseley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterrious Half-Blood Prince.

So it's the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort - and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.


REVIEW
Harry Potter enters his sixth year at Hogwarts and finds himself a great way to be an excellent student in potion making, with a little help from a book previously owned by the Halfblood Prince. This to the utter annoyance of Professor Snape, his previous teacher in Potion making.


Together with Hermoine, Ron and Ginny he tries to uncover who this Halfblood Prince is. Albus Dumbledore makes Harry his special project in working with him to further uncover the truth about the prophecy and how to eliminate he-who-shall-not-be-named!

I shamefully have to admit I never read the first 5 instalments in this series about Harry Potter, but I have faithfully seen all the movies. They were so well set in the storylines, following the books (I presume as) I found myself not missing the fact that I haven’t read them. All the information necessary was shown in the movies, so if you have seen them and not read the books you’re still good to go on in this series.

In my opinion, after reading this book, I’d say that this particular story is more likely for a 14-year-old, as some storylines are just not totally children’s-book material. A nine-year-old would not be able to understand and comprehend the inner turmoil and feelings of falling in love in the way like it is written in this novel. It is more something a teenager would be able to relate to. My advice in this series would be, when you want your children to read the books, follow the publication-releases. Let your child start at about eight/nine years of age and read a book a year.

What eased me into the story straight away was that the characters who were shown in the movies are freakishly alike to the characters as they are described in the books. So when, in example, Dumbledore came to scene, I had a clear view on what he looked like, how he would say what he said and how he acted when doing so. The same goes for all the other characters. Normally it would irritate greatly that I wouldn’t be able to let my own fantasy form a picture in my head, but this was just a brilliant cast.

Having said all that, JK Rowling has a superb writing style. It’s catchy, it’s entertaining, it’s got everything you long for in a story and more. Normally I would find it difficult to keep concentrating in a 600+ pages book, but I just kept turning the pages like no tomorrow, finding myself without noticing, that it was an hour ahead in time. I can totally understand why people are hooked onto this series and I have to say, reading the books is more intense, more satisfying even than watching the movie. So for those who haven’t read them yet I would highly recommend: go out, buy the books and read! When I grab back to my own childhood I would say this book/this series has the same impact on me as the Pitty-series of Enid Blyton had.

It is a book that is appealing to youth, teenagers, and adults, making JK Rowling one of the few admirable authors that are writing these days.

This story and the connection with the Halfblood Prince and Voldemort are giving it a nice new spin in this series. You’ll be taken back to the time when Voldemort was younger, the dotted line gets more connected and you can taste that time draws nearer to the point where the battle between Voldemort and Harry finds its completion. Harry finds himself falling for a girl who rocks his inner-emotions. Ron of course will be thrown into situations only “Roonal Wazbly” can be found in, and Hermoine is just her own unique self. She is one of those stable factors in this series that stays the same but not quite the same. She has a certain flair about herself that I find incredibly annoying and amazingly funny at the same time.

I just love the greater message in this book: “Love is bigger than (can overcome) everything…”

The fact that this is woven into a “children’s” book is what I find heart-warming. It’s not always the ‘once upon a time…a happily ever after’ with Harry Potter, it’s not always the knight in shining armor story. But in the end, it comes down to that one thing and in this book Harry is being confronted with that same thing and finally comes to understand it as well.

This is one of those rare jewels on my bookshelves that I had laying about for over a year and didn’t really feel like picking up. But now that I have done so, I entirely regret it, as this will be one of those books that I will re-read many times. Ofcourse I will read on in this series and read the first 5 instalments too! I was fairly surprised that this book grabbed me the way it did. Do not let the opportunity to read them pass you by, if it comes to you. You’ll find that JK Rowling can sway you and lead you into the wizard-realm within our realm. She’ll take you to a magical place and entice you to open yourself to the world of Harry Potter & Co.

4,5 Stars

Blog Assistant

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With spring in the air, my blog assistant decided to dress a bit more appropriate...

State Of Mind

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Torn between the good stuff and the yummy stuff....

About Me

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Natascha
Winschoten, Groningen, Netherlands

With everything new, I ofcourse, had to get used to the idea of making, owning and maintaining a blog but I have to say, now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s quite fun to do. Let me introduce myself, I’m Natascha, in my early 30’s and from a little place called Winschoten in the Netherlands, I’ll be your host on this blog.

As an avid reader you’ll find that most of my blogs will maintain reviews, books, topics about books, writing and such, but as I am a diverse person myself, it will include many other topics on things that I find interesting in life. So welcome to my world, and happy blogging!
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