Wednesday, 21 December 2011

'The Hobbit' trailer has landed!

The trailer for 'The Hobbit' was released and I do not think I can describe my excitement! It is simply amazing! It is just great so see Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchett in their old roles again and it looks like the new cast is brilliant. And may I warn you before you start watching the glory below that from 0:52 on the Dwarfs start singing their song and it is very haunting. It seems to be a mix between those Christian hymns and old heathen songs. I absolutely love it.

Also, the settings look beautiful again, especially the darker ones. And I am really happy Ian McKellen has such a big role! I realise that for many people it will not come near the book and that it will add new fuel to the debate about how movies are ruining books for people etc, but as a true fan of the books I just love seeing them come alive, even if it is not how I would have done it! There should be room for everyone's interpretation, n'est pas?

So, how excited are you? And isn't Martin Freeman a perfect Hobbit?

Friday, 16 December 2011

This Friday...

... will be my last in the UK, for this year! I'm leaving for the Netherlands to celebrate Christmas and New Year! What are your plans?
Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read. This week's Follow Feature is Once Upon A Time.

When you've read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)

Eeerm, depends on what kind of book it is. I always keep books that were sent to me to review, because often the books aren't published yet and the author doesn't want it to be given to others. Books I personally buy I usually keep , unless I try to get my sister or my friends to read them. 

Book Beginnings is hosted by A Few More Pages.  
This week I chose 'Only You Can Save Mankind' by Terry Pratchett. If you have not read anything by him you really should, because he really has a great writing style with a lot of wit.

'Johnny bit his lip, and concentrated.
Right. Come in quick, let a missile target itself - beep beep beebeebeebeeb - on the first fighter, fire the missile -thwump - empty the guns at the fighter - fplat fplat fplat fplat - hit fighter No. 2 and take out its shields with the laser - bwizzle - while the missile - pwwosh - takes out fighter No. 1, dive, switch guns, rake fighter No. 3 as it turns fplat fplat fplat fplat - pick up fighter No. 2 in the sights again up the upcurve, let go a missile - thwump - and rake it with - '
Well, this will definitely take some time to get used to. Although the fight sounds are slightly over to top they do make sense if you say the out loud! (Don't try this at work, you will look silly!)

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice
'He switched off the screen and turned his ship away from the fleet. He half expected the Captain to send some fighters after him, but she did not. She didn't so anything.'
So, what do you think? Don't hesitate to leave a link in the comments!
And a happy weekend everyone!!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday's Blog Exploration

It is another Friday and we are getting closer and closer to Christmas. I just realised, starting this post, that I forgot posting about Sinterklaas. I really wanted to because I love it, but I was so busy celebrating and unwrapping presents :P

First up: Book Beginnings, hosted by A Few More Pages
My dad bought himself a copy of Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead', which got me really excited. I always told myself I should read more early 20th-century writing, because it is truly different from contemporary literature. Also, Rand is a terribly interesting writer. Here are the first sentences:

TheFountainhead.jpg'HOWARD ROARK LAUGHED.
He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion. The stone glowed, wet with sunrays.'

Is that not simply some oft he best writing ever? And those capitals are her capitals.

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

'But he'll say that he's very sorry, only the commission has just been given to Guy Francon. And you'll go home, and do you know what you'll do there? You'll cry. You'll cry like a woman, like a drunkard, like an animal. That's your future, Howard Roark. Now, do you want it?'

Now I am really intrigued at what is going to happen in the book!! Aaaargh my dad needs to finish it now so I can start reading it!

This weeks' Follow Friday question has to be one of the easiest ever. (Hosted by Alison Can Read)
Q: Keeping with the Spirit of Giving this season, what book/s do you think EVERYONE should read and if you could, you would buy it for all of your family and friends?

Eerm, I don't like telling people what to do, so I'll just make some suggestions.

  1. Harry Potter: most definitely a book you should read. Also, a great book to read to your kids and I say this from experience. 
  2. The Lord of the Rings: I think that if you have a liking for dramatic, epic stories you should definitely read this. It is not only a great story, but once you read it you will start to see how the fantasy-genre developed.
  3. The Angel's Game/ The Shadow of the Wind/Prince of the Mist: you are really missing out if you have not read anything by Carlos Ruiz Zafon you are definitely missing out. If you don't like massive use of adjectives or a lot of pathetic fallacy (weather reflecting a character's mood) then maybe this isn't your writer. But if you have a taste for epic romances, thrilling adventures and amazing twists then you should definitely start reading these books: NOW.
  4. Nineteen Eighty-Four: Suggested by my friend Sophia, who is hilarious, check her out on Youtube!!! She says it is a brilliant book that has changed the world. Apparently it is also magical. I guess she'll have to give it to me for Christmas because I have not read it yet. Also, Orson Welles is pretty good anyway. (Sophia is caressing a pickled egg, should I worry??)
  5. Persuasion: This is one Jane Austen's lesser known works, but my favourite, next to Pride & Prejudice. Anne Elliot is one of her best heroines even though she is perhaps a bit weak compared to modern day heroine.
  6. Wuthering Heights: this is my favourite Bronte-book. Although 'Jane Eyre' is good, I think 'Wuthering Heights' is much more passionate and the lovestory between Catherine and Heathcliff is just enticing. I don't want to go into more detail because otherwise I will never be done!
  7.  Iliad: when it comes to massive and world changing works this is pretty much it. The mistake many people make and that I can get very annoyed about is that people think the Iliad is about Helena and Paris. The story of the Trojan War is indeed about those two, but the Iliad is only about Achilles and stops once he dies. Nice to have cleared that up! :)
  8.  The Hungry Catterpiller: another Sophia favourite.She still holding her egg! HELP??!?? (Seriously though, check her out on Youtube!

    Check out some of my posts this week:

    So, how about you? Favourite books??

Thursday, 8 December 2011

'We Need To Talk About Kevin' by Lionel Shriver

I was invited by Tea Time with Marce to join in on his discussion of 'We Need To Talk AB#bout Kevin' and I thought I'd toshare an essay I wrote on 'Kevin'. I shortened it, so it should be readable! Sorry if it's too long for a Friday ;)

It could be said that ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ revolves around the issue whether parents are responsible for a child’s actions. Many psycho-analytical theories have focused on the mother as being the parent who is most responsible for a child’s optimal development, the first being Sigmund Freud. One of the most influential however might be Melanie Klein’s theory. She argued that the mother was the most important person to a child because she was its prime nurturer and that any of its future problems were related to bad nursing experiences. In an article in the Guardian Shriver gives her opinion on this stream of psychology, saying how she was surprised to find out how nowadays parents are blamed for all of their children’s actions. Motherhood, but also parenthood in general, almost becomes a burden and you are not even allowed to complain about it. In the novel Franklin seems to share these thoughts, thinking it inexcusable to complain. Eva however, in Shriver’s words ‘allows herself to say all those things that mothers are not supposed to say[1]’.   
In order to perhaps understand how Shriver presents motherhood it is important to look at how Eva talks about being a mother and her child. Perhaps Shriver thought of Melanie Klein’s theory when writing Eva and Kevin’s trouble with nurturing. : ‘Sucking is one of our few innate instincts, but …his head lolled away in distaste.’ Eva sees it as her duty to provide for Kevin, he however refuses her which causes her to connect feelings of ‘suffering’ and ‘defeat’ with him from the very beginning of their relationship. She calls him a ‘writhing creature’ and almost cannot bear the sight of him. Before giving birth she and Franklin had had endless discussions in which they had discussed the possibility of having a child. In these conversations Eva had said: Motherhood, now that is a foreign country.’. What she meant was that it would be something new, something different but also something terrifying. Eva did not travel because she liked it so much but because she had set herself the challenge of travelling and had to go though with it. From the beginning what attracted her to motherhood was its ‘insurmountability’. To her it really was a foreign country and she felt ‘cheated’ at it being so. Maternal feelings did not come natural to her yet she could not say so, which represent Shriver’s view of a ‘gag law’ on parents about the bad sides of parenthood.
 Motherhood is presented in two different ways in the novel. On the one hand there is the relationship between Eva and Kevin which is, as I described above, a torture for Eva. On the other hand there is Celia, Eva’s daughter. In contrast to Kevin, Celia was completely Eva’s decision. Having Kevin was a reaction to a need of Franklin’s and Celia is a reaction to her need to connect to someone in a loving way. . For once Eva can be a normal mother and she does not have any of the problems she so painstakingly explained when Kevin was still a baby. However, even though Eva seems to be “doing everything right” as a mother Celia still has her faults. She is almost too dependent. Perhaps Shriver is trying to show that in the end as parent you have a limited influence on your child.

Throughout the entire book there is a constant debate between nature and nurture. Is Kevin born evil and was there nothing Eva could do? Or was he an innocent and ruined by the fact that Eva was not loving enough? Melanie Klein would argue the later, however there are also other opinions. In ‘Savage Spawn’ Jonathan Kellerman defends the opinion that some children are simply born evil and should be locked up ‘till they die’[2]. In the aforementioned Guardian article Shriver tells us she can remember being a ‘conscious agent’ and knowing exactly what she was doing. This would lead us to belief she also thinks some children know very well when they do something wrong and therefore choose to be evil and that parents cannot be blamed for everything their children do. This idea is also  represented in Ian McEwan’s novel ‘The Good Son’, in which a son starts showing psychotic and evil behaviour. Interestingly, motherhood is also important in this novel because in the end the mother has to choose between her own evil son and her good nephew. She chooses the latter. This also calls for the question whether a mother is responsible for her son’s evil actions. In contrast to this mother Eva seems to take responsibility for her son’s actions, even though she spends the entire novel making excuses. What does it say about McEwan’s novel-mother that she chooses the other “good” son and what does it say about Eva that she keeps on playing a “good” mother by visiting Kevin?

What do you think? Hop over to Marce's to share in the discussion-fun!

[2]  Jonathan Kellerman: ‘Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children’. Ballantine Books (1999)

Friday, 2 December 2011

First Friday of December!

Another Friday means more blog hopping!!!
This weeks Follow Friday (hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee) question is...

What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to books? Maybe you don't like love triangles or thin plots? Tell us about it!

Well, it all depends on the genre. To be honest, if we take books in general I have one MASSIVE pet peeve: I do not like paranormal fiction. I am not one of those hardcore Twilight-haters, I just do not think most of the books are that original. Plots are often the same and although entertaining, I like to be surprised by a book. 

Next to that I do not really like those books with love at first sight. That is just not what usually happens. Also, love-triangles are a bit overused. Sometimes they work, as in 'Never Let Go'. But the typical boy meets girl, boy leaves, girl turns to boy 2, boy 1 comes back and girl cannot choose is overdone!!

Book Beginnings is hosted by A Few More Pages

I just started reading 'Asenath' by Anna Patricio. Here are the first few lines. 
'The Nile had just flooded, leaving the ground moist, rich and black. The children of our riverside village, I among them, frolicked about in the cool, gooey earth. In the distance, the ancient river circled the land, glittering with a thousand tiny dancing lights from the sun-god's Boat of a Million Years.'

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post on Freda's Voice.

I slightly cheated because the book I am reading doesn't have more than 56 pages, so this is the 15th. This is from Page 15 in 'Aslauga's Knight' by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque.
"I make known to all," she said, with solemn earnestness, "that according to the just decree of my imperial uncle, this hand can never belong to a vanquished knight, however noble and honourable he may otherwise have proved himself."
What about you? Anything you do not like about books? Don't forget to follow FF Feature Fic's Book Reviews!  Comment your link and I'll come and visit you! :)

Friday, 25 November 2011

Friday memes

It is Friday, which means the blogosphere is on fire with memes!

First, TGIF, hosted by GReads

When You're Not Reading: What occupies your time when your nose isn't stuck in a book?

When I am not reading for fun I'm reading for school or hanging out with friends. I love just having discussions with my friends about the world, especially because my friend group is very diverse. One of them can always be counted on to look at everything from a feminist perspective, which causes hilarious moments when you are discussing a poem such as 'To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time' by Gavin Ewart, which is terribly sexist, even if it is meant to be funny. Next to that I spend quite a lot of my time travelling between here (London), the Netherlands and Germany. I love travelling and cannot wait to go to American next April!

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post on 
Freda's Voice.

'But after sod and shingle ceased to flyBehind her, and the heart of her good horseWas nigh to burst with violence of the beatPerforce she stay'd, and overtaken spoke.'

This is a verse from 'Gareth and Lynette', from my copy of 'The Works of Tennyson: Idylls of the King' from 1913. I decided to post a stanza instead of a sentence because in poetry a sentence alone is often to ambiguous. 

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.

It's Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for - blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

I am really thankful for all my fellow bloggers who have been so kind to allow me into their community and everyone following my blog: YOU ARE ALL AMAZING. And of course all the authors that trust me with their books and hope for the best. I hope you all enjoy reading my blog!

If you feel like it, check out my review of Hamlet at the Young Vic. It is a brilliant play, but this version had, in my humble opinion, some slip ups!

Do not hesitate to leave behind a link in your comment, I will definitely comment back! 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Booking Through Thursday

It's Thursday and therefore it is time for BTT, hosted by Booking Through Thursday. This weeks question is:

What book or author are you most thankful to have discovered? Have you read everything they’ve written? Reread them? Why do you appreciate them so much?

Blog-wise, I am really thankful for "discovering" Christopher Bunn and Daniel Arenson. I already mentioned them last Friday so this makes me seem kind of stalkerish, but their prose is simply great. I have reread all the books they sent me to review. In a way I guess, they discovered me, oh the irony. 

Other authors I am happy for knowing are J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Emily Bronte, Shakespeare, etc, etc.

How about you?

If you have the time: stop by my review of 'Hamlet' at the Young Vic, with Michael Sheen as the lead!

Review: Hamlet, as performed at the Young Vic


Warning: there are spoilers in this review, because the Young Vic play is different from the Shakespeare version and I will discuss those differences!

This was the third performance of 'Hamlet' I have seen this year. The first one was at the National Theatre, the second at Shakespeare's Globe and now, last night, at the Young Vic. The reason I want to compare these three is because they were all so different and each had its positives and negatives. I'm assuming most of you know 'Hamlet', but here's a short summary:
Prince Hamlet returns from Wittenberg for his father's funeral, only to find out his mother has already married his uncle. At night the King's ghost comes and tells Hamlet he was killed by the uncle and mother. Hamlet fakes madness to find out the truth, but in the process he looses his love Ophelia and in true Shakespearean style, everyone dies at the end.

I think it is one of Shakespeare's most touching plays, with Hamlet being a beautifully tragic character. He is a typical example of a tragic hero, someone who seems to do all the wrong things from good intentions. If you are familiar with the Greek myths it will remind you of Orestes, I think it is clear Shakespeare was inspired by  that story line.

I will start with the most recent performance: at the Young Vic.  Ian Rickson (director) had so much going for him: a great play, a great stage and a great leading man, Michael Sheen. And I am all for reinterpretation, they did it at the National Theatre as well. I think it shows great skill as a director if you can reinterpret or modernise a play like 'Hamlet', or any Shakespeare play for that matter. It is such a shame however if you cannot explain it properly. If the audience walks away confused then you did something wrong. Rickson had decided to situate the play in a mental institution, which was in itself a good idea. Hamlet's madness seems so genuine at times, and he is, in a way, a lost soul. You entered the theatre through the backdoor and was led through "the institution".  They had clearly spent a lot of thought on how to set the stage and what effect it would have. However, I, having seen and red 'Hamlet' multiple times, found it hard to understand what Rickson wanted exactly. Were all the characters in the mental institution? Were they all in Hamlet's head?

Hamlet is such an amazing character because he is so full of honest pride, love and pain. By saying his father's ghost was simply a figment of his imagination, that he imagined it all, destroys, in my humble opinion, his character. He is one of Shakespeare's noblest hero's and in Rickson's version he was presented as a mad man. Michael Sheen is, of course, an amazing actor and I think he did really well. The script was simply not that overwhelming. Sheen gave it his all and his Hamlet came to live, but there was something missing when he was not on stage. The others were not convincing enough, in my opinion. In both other versions Polonius had me laughing out loud and I welled up at his death. Here, I only felt sorry for Hamlet because it meant he was now a killer. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were not, as the British Theatre Guide says, 'quirkier than ever', they were dry and it seemed a bit forced. Maybe it was due to the strange setting, where Gertrude was a drug addict and Ophelia came back from the grave (she literally got up from the grave) to play a different character, but the play had lost part of its charm for me. 

The Shakespeare's Globe version was completely different. Of course the setting was very different and very classic, but the actors seemed to have so much more fun in their roles! Perhaps that was due to the fact that they were constantly together because they were touring through the country, but they were all so convincing. Almost all of them had double roles but that never confused me and what was the best was that the play had some genuinely fun moments. The Young Vic version was so downcast and melodramatic all the time and I understand this is a tragedy, but Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Hamlet in his madness are funny at times and I think it is important to put this in the play as well because Shakespeare put those in for a reason!

The biggest crime the Young Vic committed, in my opinion, was the ending. Hamlet was dead, in Horatio's arms. Then he is kicked into the grave where everyone else lies by one of Fortinbras' men, who are all masked. As far as I can remember Fortinbras and his men are respectful and amazed at what has happened, not treating them like waste. And then Fortinbras appears, masked as well, (HERE COMES THE SPOILER) and when he takes of his mask it turns out to be Hamlet and then the play ends. I cannot believe they made Fortinbras so disrespectful, because Hamlet bequeaths Denmark to him with his last breath and as far as I can remember Fortinbras is a good character in the play. 

The National Theatre version also had a different setting, but here it worked. Denmark seemed a bit of a police state and Polonius was head of National Security. Rory Kinnear was a great Hamlet, serious but also funny in his fake madness. But Joshua McGuire (2nd picture) was the best. He was witty, tragic and such an energetic actor. Also, the Globe's Ophelia was the best. I truly felt for Jade Anouka's Ophelia, whereas Vinette Robinson (Young Vic) disappointed me. Her songs were strange, her flowers had been changed for pills and she seemed oversexualised in her madness. 

There are many more things I could say and I do not want to seem overly negative of the Young Vic's  performance! Have you seen any of these performances? What did you think?

Friday, 18 November 2011

It's Friday, Friday!

See how I parodied society there? Anyway let's return to the memes!

TGIF is hosted by GReads!
Giving Thanks: Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?

I am very thankful to my parents for introducing me to the books of their childhood. Through my mum I was able to read amazing books like 'Grischka's Abenteuer' or 'Trotskopf' and from my dad I got 'Brief aan de Koning' and 'Koning van Katoren'. They shaped my childhood and are probably one of the reasons I am blogging.

I am very, very thankful to all the authors who send me their books. Two highlights, so far, for me though have definitely been Christopher Bunn and Daniel Arenson. Their books are some of the best contemporary fantasy books I have read. Their ideas are original and they put a lot of thought into their background story. Here are some reviews:
The Hawk and His Boy - Christopher Bunn
The Shadow at the Gate - Christopher Bunn
Blood of Requiem - Daniel Arenson
Flaming Dove - Daniel Arenson
The Gods of Dream - Daniel Arenson

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings by A Few More Pages!

These two memes give me the perfect opportunity to show of my most recent (2 hours ago) book purchase: a copy of 'Vilette' and not just any copy.
I was browsing through a vintage shop that also has books and I found this. Although I have the book I decided to glance it over because I have an everlasting wish of finding a Bronte book with the original pseudonym as author. And voila, my wish came true!

I present, my copy of 'Vilette', printed in 1891 and written by Currer Bell. You might guess my excitement on finding this. So I went up to the shopkeeper, fully intent on paying whatever price she asked for it. She looked at it and said: '2 pounds.' So I paid and ran out of the shop screaming of happiness.

Friday 56 Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) in the Linky at Freda's Voice.

'There was a little pause, in the course of which, as he turned more fully to the light of a lamp above him, I saw that he was a young, distinguished, and handsome man; he might be a lord, for anything I knew: nature had made him good enough for a prince, I thought.'

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

'My godmother lived in a handsome house in the clean and ancient town of Bretton. Her husband's amily had been residents there for generations, and bore, indeed, the name of their birthplace - Bretton of Bretton: whether by coincidence, or because some remote ancestor had been a parsonage of sufficient importance to leave his name to his neighbourhood, I know not.'

So, how about you? What books are you grateful for? 

Friday, 11 November 2011

Another Friday :)

And it is a Friday again.
FF is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Question: In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran's Day tell us about your favorite solider and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.

For the first time in weeks I like the FF question again, which is not meant as a criticism to anyone. But this question has allowed me to bring out one of my priced possessions. It is my great-uncle's journal from when he was in Indonesia. Indonesia used to be a Dutch colonie and after the Second World War they wanted their freedom. The Dutch desperately wanted to keep it and send in soldiers. The Dutch did not want to be seen as tyrants and to this day say it was a police action and not a military attack.

Two members of my family went to Indonesia and found it exceedingly hard to deal with the pressure in the Netherlands once returning. This journal is not a typical journal. These are "entries" are party actualy diary entries and partly written postcards addressed to my granddad, who typed them up later on. What is very touching is how clearly he expresses his doubts and feelings conerning their mission, their enemies and their superiors.

'Originally opposed to the Dutch, he now said that without our help the problems in his country would be insurmountable. "We have to side with you," he said. "but the future must be a free and independent Indonesia!" I told him that in my country we had a compulsory education system and that they should enforce this here as well. He had never heard of such a thing and became very enthousiastic. I thought he was simply an amazing fellow and started to apprehend how it must feel to have such ideals for your country. At the same time something inside me wept. Would I have to kill a man like him in the future, a man with ideals who happened to be on the wrong side?'

I think that is simply beautiful writing. The translation from Dutch might be a bit wooden here and there, but that is because it's mine.

Now, for the Friday 56!

Rules:*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky.
The Book I am ransacking this week is my copy of 'The Oxford Book of Ballads'. On page 56 we find ourself in the middle of the ballad 'Kemp Owyne'. Because it is a ballad I decided to post an entore stanza instead of just a sentence, This is stanza 11:

'Her breath was strang, her hair was lang
And twisted thrice about the tree,
And with a swing she came about :
'Come to the craig, an' kiss with me!'

The story of this ballad is that the heroine is turned into a dragon by her wicked stepmother and the enchantment will only end if kissed three times by the king's son.

And now on to the last meme of today: Book Beginnings over at A Few Pages More.

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.
I grabbed a book randomly from my room and fate chose: 'A Thousand Splendid Sunds' by Khaled Hosseini. I was personaly very happy with fate's choce because I want to incorporate more books that are not European in this blog, since it is calle A Universe in Words, not Europe in Words.
'Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami. It happened on a Thursday.'

'Harami' means bastard, which immediately sets the tone for the book. I was really touched by the book and I think the first sentence is great. As an outsider you do not immediately know what the word means and you will have to research it or hope it will be explained later on in the book. And for everyone who has not read it: Mariam is a beautiful character, as is her name.

So, how about you?
Happy Rememberance Day everyone!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Review: 'Bending the Boyne' by J.S. Dunn

Bending the Boyne was sent to me last month by Seriously Good Books, which is a publisher of historical fiction. It has won the 2011 Next Generation Award (USA) for historical fiction. 

2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age. Well before any Celts, marauders invade the island seeking copper and gold. The young astronomer Boann and the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, when long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures and between Boann, Elcmar, and her son Aengus, ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland’s beginnings in a totally new light.

I accepted this book for review because I find Irelands history and myths fascinating. I also wanted to see whether Dunn would be able to write a good story without loosing the historical context or vice versa.

The story centers around Boann and how her life changes when Invaders land on Eire's shores and threaten her village. I found the beginning of this book fascinating. Dunn went into a lot of detail when describing the Starwatcher's culture and tradition, really showcasing his research. After reading the book you really feel you have developed an understanding of the importance of starwatching to these cultures. The threat posed by the Invaders is very well descrived, especially the conflict between how two different cultures clash and how the gape between the two seem impossible to overcome.

Boann is a goddess in Irish mythology, the Goddess of the river Boyne. Elcmar, her husband, and Aengus, her son, are also part of this mythology. After having read the book I looked into a number of myths concerning Boann, Brighid, Aengus and Elcmar and it is remarable how many of the storylines have been woven into the book by Dunn. As it happened, I have also been reading 'The Winged Destiny: Studies in the Spiritual History of the Gael' by Fiona Macleod / Wiliam Sharp in which there is a tale titled 'The Awakening of Aengus Og' and it seems it concerns the same Aengus. I personally love these intertextualities because they add so much more depth to a book.

What is captivating is the way Dunn has incorporated the process of trade, of creating bronze and mining copper and gold into the story. Although the chapters concerning Cian and his travels in Continental Europe can at times take long to read they are always worth your time. They truly add to the story of the book and allow Cian's character to grow beyond the stereotype. I  myself do not know that much about mining, but Dunn has incoporated it in such a way that it is not only interesting to read but also entertaining.

Overall, I give this book...


This book is a truly good read. The characters are diverse, their interaction is entertaining and the historical and cultural background has been well researched. After reading this book I had not only enjoyed myself but also learned something, no matter how cliche it sounds. And does its cover not match perfectly with my Universes?

What do you think? Does this book sound like your cup of tea?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Friday :D

"Found" a new meme and thought, why not, it's Friday after all!

The Friday 56
  • Grab a book, any book
  • Turn to page 56
  • Find any sentence that grabs you and post it
  • Add your URL to the Linky on Freda's Voice
So, I grabbed the book I have been reading lately: 'The Winged Destiny: Studies in the Spiritual History of the Gael' by Fiona Macleod / Wiliam Sharp. 

'A great stillness of blue prevailed on the morrow.'
2nd meme: Book Beginnings by A Few More Pages

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt
I grabbed the closest book to me, which turned out to be 'Written in the Ashes' by K. Hollan van Zandt, which was sent to me 2 weeks ago for review. First sentence from the Prologue:
'All trees hold secrets.' 

Because it is such a short quote I thought I would share my favourite line from the prologue:
'Trees are the first libraries, the oldest houses of wisdom and knowledge.'

So, how about you? Share your favourite lines in the comments or link to our blog!!!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Discussion: Mr. Ripley and homosexuality

We are studying Patricia Highsmith's 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' for A-levels and somehow everyone seems to think that Tom Ripley is gay. I disagree.

One of the main scenes that the "pro-gay interpretation group" use as evidence is the scene where Tom puts on Dickie Greenleaf's clothes, impersonates him and imagines killing Marge. However, I do not think he did this because he is in love with Dickie and therefore jealous of Dickie and Marge's relationship. I think that the only reason Tom wants to impersonate Dickie is because as Dickie the world is open to him. However, Tom, in my opinion, is asexual, rather than straight or homosexual. Sex is disgusting to him and he only looks at men because it enables him to impersonate their behaviour if necessary. I think the drive behind his anger is the fact that he is unable to impersonate the sexual aspect of Dickie's life and that someone else is apparently so good at reading Dickie's mind and controlling him. Therefore in a sense it is possessiveness that drives Tom in this scene, but the idea that he could not impersonate Dickie or be like him is what truly infuriates him.

Strangely enough I think that Tom dressing up as Dickie and then "killing" Marge is not Tom wanting to have Dickie to himself but is Tom making "Dickie" act like Tom thinks he should. Tom does not think that this sexual side of Dickie's personality is necessary or in any way positive and wants Dickie to see this as well.

Have you read the book? Do you share my opinion or think differently?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

How Fiona Macleod was born

Three days ago I bought a book. In itself, this is nothing special. What intrigued me about this book however was not only the title (The Winged Destiny: Studies in the Spiritual History of the Gael) but the fact that the author's name was in double quotation marks. Why, I asked myself.

"Fiona Macleod" was William Sharp's pseudonym, which he kept secret for most of his life. This second identity was born in 1891, after he had an extramarital affair with Edith Rinder. According to some his pseudonym was a reflection of his confused sexual identity whereas others argue it was a pseudonym for work that was inspired by Edith Rinder. These works were the ones that were not only financially successful but also made him one of the defining writers of his era. Towards the end of his life he was also involved, it is said, in esoteric cults such as The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. More on this in this very interesting article: William Sharp and the Esoteric Order.

Born in 1855, William Sharp must have been aware of female writers who chose male pseudonyms, such as Mary Anne Evans 1819-1880 (= George Elliot) or Charlotte Bronte 1816-1855 (Currer Bell). Women chose these pseudonyms, afraid their works would not be accepted by the literary community otherwise. Interestingly, W.B. Yeats found Macleod's works more interesting than Sharp's, until he found out about the pseudonym. I wonder why Sharp felt the need to write under a female pseudonym. I think that perhaps he felt he could not be as expressive as a man as a woman was perhaps allowed to be. I have been reading the book (a collection of amazing Gaelic tales) and the language is very intrinsic, detailed and flowery and in my mind I always get the image of a female writer.

I thought it was quite interesting to share this with you. What do you think?

Friday, 21 October 2011


The Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop questions aren't that interesting this week so I decided to go a bit wild.

If you have checked out my blog before you might remember this one: What To Do In The Weekend: Scriptwriting. Just to recap shortly: I have taken it upon myself, with some help from the family, to create a 4-movie script out of my favourite two childhood books: Brief aan de Koning and Geheimen van het Wilde Woud. Its protagonist, Tiuri, has to deliver a letter to the king of Unauwen, but the Black Knight is trying to stop him at all costs. In this post I had outlined two different locations for the two different kingdoms. I think it is good to have an image in your head when you are writing.

One of the most beautiful locations in the book is Isadoro's castle. Isadoro is a beautiful Lady whose loyalty unfortunately falls on the wrong side of good. Her castle is described beautifully and especially her gardens are amazing. Yesterday I was waiting in a hotel lobby, do not ask me why, when I found a flyer for Hever Castle.

It has a moat, which would be perfect to withstand the siege in the last movie. There is wood on the inside, which fits the book and i like to be true to the book. What would make this castle perfect as well is its history. Anne Boleyn grew up here and she if anyone was a strong woman it was her. Now, for the gardens: these are simply beautiful. The roses would be perfect to represent Isadoro's character since she can be quite stingy. Overall, this seems to be the perfect castle for me or for Isadoro really.

So what are you planning on doing this weekend?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

David Lodge's 'The Art of Fiction'

I have just finished David Lodge's 'The Art of Fiction' and it was very enlightening. Although I was familiar with most of the literary devices he explains, such as the epistolary novel and pathetic fallacy, it is hard to find a compact synopsis of them with good examples. I just wanted to highlight some of the chapters and explain thoughts that arose to me while reading the book. Chapter 30 is on Symbolism and David lodge used an excerpt from Lawrence's 'Women in Love'. This made me reflect on Lawrence as a writer and it came to me he has a strong liking towards animals, in particular horses. In this excerpt he describes how the mare 'spun and swerved like the wind, and yet could not get out of the grasp of his will'. This, for me, was a striking resemblance to his novel 'St Mawr'. In this novel Lou Witt is entranced by a powerfull stallion called St. Mawr who seems to represent all the masculinity and vitality men are missing in her opinion. She is almost forced to realise that 1920s England is not her place. In the excerpt from 'Women in Love' the mare is supressed by Gerald Critch, who is forcing her to face industrialisation, represented by a locomotive. I thought it was striking how similar these two scenes are although their respective books were published 4 years apart. It can be concluded that Lawrence saw the animal as a strong symbol of life.

In the book each chapter is dedicated to a literary device. My "favourites" were Chapter 8: Names, Chapter 21: Intertextuality and Chapter 24: Magic Realism.

Chapter 8 focusses on names and the reason I took an immediate interest to the chapter was that in one of my Dutch exams I once got the question what Emily Bronte had been thinking when she named her protagonist Jane Eyre. I was baffled since this had never been discusse din class. However, after some brainstorming, quick brainstorming I may add, I came up with the following:

Jane is a very common and ordinary name in English. The expression 'plain Jane' might be suitable to describe Jane Eyre and therefore perhaps her first name was represent her commonness in her looks and social position that seperate her from Mr. Rochester and her family. However, her last name, Eyre, is exotic, outlandish. I thought that perhaps this told us something about her character, something that is not quite usual in young women of her position.

David Lodge said that 'in a novel names are never neutral.' I completely agree, even thought often the meaning of a name is hard to find. Some names can be very easily linked, such as names from the Bible. If a character is names Eva there are a whole lot of possible connotations that can add to your character. I have started writing a story in which the protagonist is named Eva and she is looking back on her fall from grace, so to speak. Obvious connection, n'est pas?

Chapter 21 on intertextuality is very interesting on many different levels. First of all, all authors copy each other in some way, e.g. Virgil copied Homer's writing style in the Aeneid but I do not blame him. Something that has become clearer to me over the years for example is how much inspiration Tolkien got from the Prose and Poetic 'Edda', from 'The Nibelungen' and others. Some names are heavily influenced if not copied, which links back nicely to the paragraph above, but it is mainly themes that we can recognize. The question that formed in my mind however was: how far is this copying other authors or are these themes, such as death, loyalty, betrayal and love, simply human and therefore come from each author independently?

Of course intertextuality mainly has to do with linking back to different books in your own story. The example David Lodge gives in the book is the correlation between Joseph  Conrad's 'The Shadow Line' and Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. However, there are more obvious examples, such as James Joyce's 'Ulysses', where the intertextuality starts with the title.

Chapter 24 is on Magic Realism and this is a style of writing I particularly like. As David Hume said 'humans love the fantastical' and often the impression an experience gives us cannot be described through purely realistic use of language. Sometimes the impossible is the best way to describe the possible. David Lodge uses Milan Kandera's 'The Book of Laughter and Forgeting' as an example and in the excerpt a circle of dancing people takes of and flies away while the narrator is left behind. It is obvious this cannot happen, but the feeling of isolation, alienation and loneliness is all the more poignant and it is beautifully described.

What do you think on any of these three chapters? Have you read the book or ones similar to it?

Friday, 30 September 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop

It is that time of the week again! Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books and Follow Friday by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

This weeks FF question:

What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character?

There are so many books I would love to see on screen. At the same time, a director's vision is never yours, so wishing for a movie is always a tricky thing. However, I would love to see the Otori-saga by Lian Hearn. Everyone who has ever taken a liking to Japan will love these books. Its characters are very well presented, the landscapes are described beautifully and the story is breathtaking. I would love to see this series be translated into 4 different movies, even though I am not sure you can put the entire story in only four movies! I will not even try to figure out a casting, because that would take me forever. I might try it this weekend though, because searching a face for a character tells you something about what you secretly think of the character too!

This weeks BBH question: 
In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?”
Click here for 2010-11 list in PDF format. You can also clickHERE to view past years and choose from any of those titles!

Book Blogger Hop
I truly think this is my favourite question so far! However, why is Twilight on that list? It says there is explicit sexuality in those books, which is absolutely not true. It is one of the tamest books I have ever read! A favourite for most other bloggers seems to be 'The Hunger Games', but I still haven't read that one! Am I the only one in the world who hasn't?

I have been wanting to read 'Perks of a Wallflower' since over a year now, but still haven't. However, I have read Anne Frank's Diary and it was very interesting, but more from a shocked perspective. Her writing style was extraordinary, but then again, she lived in extraordinary times.

I have also read the Koran, or more correctly the Qur'an. This was actually a very enlightening experience. The Qur'an shares so many storied with the Bible. I would also like to tell those that think the Qur'an calls for a Jihad against all Christians that it does not, in fact, do that. It is a very peaceful book, even though it has its violent moments, just like the Bible.

And isn't it hilarious they put 'Catcher in the Rye' up on the list too? I have read the book twice now and I liked it more the second time. Although not one of my all0time favourites I still think it is a classic that is supposed to be read in school.  

 This is actually my first TGIF! This week's question is:
Banned Books: How do you feel about the censorship of the freedom to read? Do you think the education system needs to be more strict on what children are exposed to in books?

I think it is wrong to censor books in the way it is often done. Books express much more than just the story within. For example, 'Catcher int he Rye'. It is on the banned list for 2011, which I think is ridiculous. The story is not very offensive and the use of language is a lot tamer than in the average reality show on TV. Furthermore, it is a book that expresses the feeling of a time period. It is a book that teenagers all around can still identify themselves with because it catches this well-known feeling of being the only sane and independent person around. To ban a book like this, in my humble opinion, is to hinder the children's development.

Also, I think this is the wrong way of telling children what is good or bad. In 'Huckleberry Finn' for example, the word 'nigger' is used a lot. I think we can all agree on that being unacceptable nowadays. However, when Mark Twain wrote this book this is how they talked. Books are historical evidence for a change in attitude. Is not reading about this the best way to tell kids it is no longer acceptable? Although there are definitely age limits to certain books, you should never try to withhold a book completely from a child. I think that as long as there is a healthy discussion after wards everything should be fine.

So what do you think?  What is your favourite banned book and what do you think about banning books anyway?