Friday, 26 August 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop

FF is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison can Read & this week's FF question:
Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?

To be honest, I have never read the True Blood series and I am getting a bit sick of all the paranormal books. Having said this, I do not count wizards as paranormal. However, I do not think I would want any mythical creature to come out of the closet because I love the fact they are mythical and therefore perhaps not real. What would be the attraction of the Greek myths if we knew for a fact that Minotaurs and gods were real? Now we can escape to those worlds and imagine they exist. So I guess my answer is I would not want any of them to come out of the closet.
Book Blogger Hop
BBH is hosted by Crazy for Books and this week's BBH question:
Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?

Unfortunately I do not have any pets at the moment! I used to have a guinea-pig, which I named after Simba's daughter in the second Lion King. All I have now is my dad's girlfriend's dog and he doesn't even life with us. Maybe I can convince my dad to get my sister and me a rabbit and then I can name him after the one from Alice in Wonderland!

So, how about you? Any mythical creatures or pets you want to open up about? Don't hesitate to leave your link behind!!


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Booking Through Thursday : History

I haven't participated in BTT for ages and saw this weeks question and thought it would be fun.
btt button
When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography? You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL.
Well, the last time was 'People of the Book' by Geraldine Brooks, about two weeks ago. What I like about Historical Fiction is the fine line between extending history and simply writing something that is not true. Whereas in a lot of oher genres you can get away with doing relatively little research, Historical Fiction requires huge amounts. Geraldine Brooks also said this in the interview I did with her.
I also like, after having read the book, to browse real history books and the internet to see which was fiction and what actually happened. Sometimes however HF can be a bit tiresome because the author is too busy showing of his knowledge instead of writing a story.
What are your thoughts on HF? If you also posted a response don't hesitate to leave the link!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Changes to my Pages

For anyone who was thinking of sending me their book for review, I made some changes to my review policy and rating system. You might want to take a look.

Interview with Geraldine Brooks, author of 'People of the Book'

For those of you who have stepped by my blog in the last week, you might have seen my review of Geraldine Brook's book 'People of the Book. Now I can present a tiny interview, only 4 questions long, in which I asked her a couple of questions on her book and her writing. But first, a quick bio.

Geraldine Brooks was born on the 14th of September, 1955, in Australia. She studied journalism at the University of Sydney and at the american Columbia niversity after getting a scholarship. In 1984 she married the American journalist Tony Horwitz and converted to his religion, Judaism. She became a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and covered crises in the Middle East, Africa. the Balkans and more. Her first book, 'Nine Parts of Desire', was published in 1994. Her book 'March' ,2005, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 and all her books have become bestsellers. Often they reflect on places she has been for her job as a foreign correspondent and their history. 'People of the Book' was published in 2008 and creates a history for the Sarajevo Haggadag.

From your article on the Haggadah it can be concluded you did a huge amount of research. When did you start and how much of it did you eventually use to write the book?

GB: I always research and write simultaneously, letting the story I want to tell unfold to me what I need to know. Ther research was various: it included travel to Venice to get the feel for the ancient ghetto there, a return to sarajevo to interview people who had been involved in the real history of the Haggadah, and to watch a conservator as she worked on the codex, and visits to conservation labs at Harvard to see how conservation scientists investigate stains on parchment.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Review: 'Blood of Requiem' by Daniel Arenson

I am terribly late with this review and very ashamed because of it, but finally, here it is. I really enjoyed this book. As Arenson did in The Gods of Dream he spends a lot of time on the surroundings of his characters. Castles and landscapes are described in such a form that I could see them before me while reading. I have noticed that this is missing in a lot of literature, where an author simply leaves it to the reader to fill the gaps. Thanksfully Arenson does create atmosphere and setting.

I am a huge fantasy fan, but a lot of books that call themselves fantasy are not what I would call fantasy. A fantasy book is so much more than just a story with magic in it or something paranormal. All the vampire books are not fantasy and definitely not literature. 'The Lord of the Rings' is fantasy, because an author has spend time to build a story, create characters and present everyday struggles and morals in a way that we can read and aspire to them. Arenson achieves this at times in 'Blood of Requim', 'Flaming Dove' and 'Gods of Dreams'. In a fantasy world his characters go through betrayal, love, friendship and confusion.
At the centre of the book is Kyrie Eleison, a young Vir Requis, one of the few who have remained after the Great Battle. He wants to find Benedictus, the former king of the Requis, in order to revenge his dead parents and friends on Dies Irae, now king and brother of Benedictus. Kyrie is a great as a character because he is sometimes unstopable in his youthful enthousiasm. Benedictus is a great opposite to this and together they make the perfect master-student couple.

Arenson made the decision to write each chapter from a different character's perspective. Especially in a story like this, where there are two sides fighting each other, it allows the reader to be able to judge by themselves and not blindly follow what the main character thinks. I also really enjoyed the chapters from Gloriae's point of view. Gloriae is Dies Irae's daughter, however Benedictus beliefs she is his daughter. Gloriae knows none of this and has been raised to hate Vir Requis and her story is one of the most interesting ones in the book.

As you may have notices, all the characters have Latin, often religious names. Arenson did the same in 'Flaming Dove'. It shows extra consideration for his characters on the author's side. All the names tell us something about the characters. Benedictus' wife is called Lacrimosa, which means tears in Latin. She does have a lot to cry about, since her life has not exactly been easy. By doing this the characters gain extra depth and it shows the author's commitment.

I have enjoyed all of Arenson's books and I can't wait for the sequel to this one. Although this book can be read alone, I think it is almost impossible not to be wanting to read the sequels. I give this book...


It is a really enjoyable book and its story will definitely hook you if you are a fantasy fan. His characters are loveable and his writing style is easy to read and to enjoy.

So what do you think? Sound like your cup of tea??

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Classics Unknown, Part 1

As you may have noticed I have been missing from the blogosphere for some weeks now, all due to a holiday. I was actually in Bad Dreikirchen in Italy, which is only important because Goethe was there once, apparently.

Now I'm in France and the only reason that is important is because I picked up a French Literary magazine, which is quite good. The best article is definitely one on a 100 classics who's authors are either forgotten or barely remembered. Most of them are French, which offers me the perfect opportunity to refresh my French. I picked a couple of author's whose books sounded pretty good and thought I'd share them with you. Perhaps you have read some of them and could tell me what you think, perhaps they are books you'd like to read yourself.

JudasThe first is 'Judas' by Lanza Del Vasto. I was trying to find this one on Amazon, but the British Amazon only has 3 copies left, so I will have to be quick in getting my copy!
The author's actual name is Giuseppe Giovanni Luigi Enrico Lanza di Trabia and he was born in 1901in Italy and died 80 years later. He had quite a spectacular life, from joining Ghandi in the Indian Independence Movement to going to Palestine during its Civil War. Also, he is the founder of the Arks, Christian communities that follow Ghandi. I couldn't find a proper summary, all that Amazon wrote was:

One of the deepest novels of the 20th century. The book deepens into the utmost depths of the greator Traitor, he who would not accept the love of the Saviour.
The magazine was highly positive about the book and I think that Lanza's life and his belief in Ghandi and Christianity must make this book very interesting.

Another is called 'Auschwitz and After' and is written by Charlotte Delbo. This is what Amazon writes:
In1942, Charlotte Delbo (1913^-85) and her husband were arrested in their Paris apartment, where they were preparing to distribute anti-German leaflets. He was executed, and she was deported first to Auschwitz and then to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Auschwitz and After, first published in France as three separate books (None of Us Will Return, Useless Knowledge, and The Measure of Our Days), is a memoir about her experiences in the camps. Delbo, a non-Jew, recounts the daily struggle to stay alive while besieged with hunger, thirst, abuse, fatigue, and despair. She also relates the recollections of survivors of her own work group and their difficulties in returning to a normal life, as well as her return to France after her liberation. A small portion of the memoir is written in the form of poetry. Holocaust scholar Lawrence Langer has written a penetrating introduction to this masterpiece, in which he says that Delbo writes "not as a heroine but as a victim. Her language is exquisite, but the pain of her memories is not, and this may help to explain why her audience has never been very large." Finally translated into English, this unique memoir will be able to reach the larger audience that it deserves.
To me, this sounds very promising. I always feel like a lot of stories about the Second World War have been written to fit a certain style, yet a book by a woman about that time and her experiences must be a great read.

In the next part I will look at Valery Larbaud's Fermina Marquez, Junichiro Tanizaki and Helene Bessette's Le Bonheur de la Nuit.

Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

This is partially a review, partially me telling you how amazing the story of this book, and the book the book is about, is.

This is an amazing book that I read over the holidays. Once I got started I took it everywhere so that whenever I had a moment to spare I could pick it up and continue reading. The story centers around the Haggadah of Sarajevo, which disappeared during the Yugoslavian Civil War. Later on it turned out it was saved by a Muslim librarian from the museum, while it was shot and burning. This was the second time the Haggadah was saved by a Muslim. The first time was during the Second World War, when a German officer came to the Sarajevo Museum and demanded that the Haggadah, being a Jewish book, was given to him. Another Muslim Librarian risked his life by smuggling it out of the museum and brought it to a mosque in the mountains, where it was hidden between Qur'an's.
People of the Book

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
'The Bridal Gift' centres around this Haggadah and its discovery. It is "discovered" in a bank's vault, where it was hidden by the Muslim Librarian, after the Civil War. Dr. Heath is asked to restore it, since she is one of the leading authorities in book restauration and has a lot of experience with Ancient Eastern languages. She restores the book and then flies around half the world to have pieces of material she took from the book examined in order to find out something about its history. The genius thing is that Geraldine Brooks has written a chapter about what happened after Dr. Heath has a piece of material examined. For example, she finds the wing of an insect between the pages of the Haggadah. She has it examined and it turns out it's a butterfly wing. The next chapter is a backflash to what happened in order for that wing to find its place in the book.

Even though most of the "history-chapters" are fictional, some of them are based on facts and actual events. She writes about both Muslim librarians, about a Partizan-girl who fought during the Second World War. All three of these stories are true, even though the names have been changed. The author has shown a huge amount of respect for these people and a huge enthousiasm for her own story in doing so much research. Also, she is terribly lucky have been allowed to see how the Haggadah was actually restored after the Yugoslavian Civil War.