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!!!