Thursday, 30 August 2012

'Echo and Narcissus' by Ted Hughes

I have always been a fan of Greek and Roman mythology and the way it has influenced literature. I find that knowing the myths often allows you to find an extra layer of depth to some works.  Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' are some of the best known Latin myths, many of them retellings of Greek myths. One I always loved as the myth of Echo and Narcissus, the nymph falling in love with a beautiful man who becomes  an echo (yes, this is where the word echo and narcissistic come from) when he rejects her. Obviously they were in Latin and in 1997, Ovid's Metamorphoses were translated and put into free verse by famous poet Ted Hughes. Yes, he was married to Sylvia Plath.

I always felt sorry for the character of Echo, but in a dignified way. It wasn't pity which I felt, but a respect for her being able to love so deeply. Yet Hughes makes her sound almost pathetic, as if she is even below pity. But let me run you through my thoughts on Hughes, how he depicts Echo and what I think that may say about him. I was trying to argue in favor of a argument here and I just anted to say before hand that I do like Hughes and his work and don't think he is some kind of evil overlord.

Hughes describes Echo as a 'starving wolf' that follows 'a stag too strong to be tackled' (Narcissus). In itself, the wolf would seem to be a strong symbol. He's a predator and they live in tight nit communities. Yet no animal is as strong a symbol for solitude as the wolf. Hughes also strips it of its power by making it hungry, thereby weak. In short, he presents her as desperate for something to sustain here and pull her from her solitude. After that he describes her as a cat 'at a fire' that refuses to move away from the fire although it singes her. Again, a cat would be considered a pretty independent creature, but not Echo. She desperately wants to be near Narcissus, even though it might burn her. This isn't romantic, it is, again, desperate.

It seems to be in Echo's nature to need someone else. The very essence of her name and legacy implies this. She was so nicely talkative that Zeus used her as a distraction for Hera when he was having fun with Earth-girls and once Hera found this out, she punished Echo. From that day on, she was only able to repeat the last words of others. It is quite a sad and dramatic story, yet again, Hughes seems dismissive. When Echo catches onto words to talk to Narcissus he says she catches them 'as if they were precious'. I thought this was a rather strange turn of phrase for a poet. Of course words are precious, especially if you have too little of them and none of your own. These words are het life line, yet he mocks her. And this is where I am going to make a link to his personal life.

As I said above, he was married to Sylvia Plath, a rather famous writer in her ow right. However, she was deeply unhappy and committed suicide in 1963 after they separated the year previously. At times I find it hard to read Plath's poetry because it is very intricate and sometimes very depressing, yet it is amazing. I feel that when you read her work you can sense it is an escape for her from her every day depression and struggles. Hughes is, at times, blamed for her depression and suicide and burning part of her diary after her death didn't really help and let's not forget his girlfriend after that also committed suicide. But I feel that most of all, it seems like he looked down at her.

Perhaps he didn't like her writing style or just lost sympathy during their marriage, but after reading his portrayal of Echo I feel he just has something against women. The way Narcissus rejects Echo, with just one look, is very harsh. I understand that her bursting forward 'pleading' and with open arms might be scary, but to then leave her there crying 'touch me' is almost too cruel, especially because Hughes doesn't treat her any better afterwards.

After Narcissus has left her, Echo 'moped' and felt 'humiliated'. Again, these aren't the most beautiful or kind words to describe a woman in pain. Hughes describes her beauty as a 'petal' that is 'wasting away'. The imagery of a flower is often used to describe a woman's beauty, yet by using a petal he shows she wasn't actually that beautiful, begging the question why he decided to use that imagery at all, if not to mock her. And then, the kind of attention he pays to her decay, 'fading', 'shriveling' and the double mention of her 'bones' might almost be interpreted as macabre. Whereas under Ovid I felt that perhaps Echo's existence as  voice might be something good, a change for the better so to say, it is clearly not in Hughes version.

What made his judgement of Echo all the more poignant for me was that Hughes refrains from judging Narcissus for his harsh and vain reaction. Surely, he should judge both ways and not favor one before the other. Have you read 'Echo and Narcissus' or are you a fan of Hughes? What did you think?

Throwback Thursday and Booking Through Thursday

Throwback Thursday is hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books.

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

I decided to showcase an old book that I have started and not yet finished due to Kindle issues. I think I've mentioned this one before, but as far as I was able to read, I really love it.
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
'If On a Winter's Night A Traveller' by Italo Calvino
This exhilarating interactive novel--in which the reader, lured into the text by the enticements of Italo Calvino's splendid intelligence, turns into the book's central character--was its author's triumphant response to the question of whether the art of fiction could survive the vast changes taking place in the communications technology of our world.
I absolutely love the interactive writing. Part of the book is a description of how the main character rezds, how he prepares to sit down and how he feels while reading. The other part of the book is the actual book the character is reading. It's really refreshing and 'new', even though the book was published in 1982.

Booking Through Thursday is hosted by BTT.

Do you find yourself thinking that the books you read would be good on film? Do you wish the things you watched on TV or in the movies were available as book?
btt buttonSome really can’t be converted, of course, but some definitely can (and it’s not always the ones you think will work). There’s something to be said for different forms of media, but a good story is universal … or is it??

I do think that a good story is universal and should, in theory, work on film. Yet the big issue with films is that
they are often how the director or scriptwriter interprets the story. If they feel strongly about a certain storyline or character, they might bring that to the foreground, whereas many readers might love the general storyline or a different character.I therefore think every book could be turned into a movie if you look at it from that perspective. But this is also where there is a difference between books and movies. While reading a book, you can enjoy your own imagination, you can make it your own. A movie is very much someone else's vision that you watch. Although your imagination is still part of it, it is not as free as when reading.

Personally, I love imagining how I would set a scene, what kind of dialogue I'd use from the book and which I'd add. It's simply a great way of entertaining myself while and after reading. I think I'm a very visual reader, all of my creative writing inspiration also comes from images I have in my head.

Also, there are scriptwriters which simply mess up the story. One of my all time favourite books, which had a great story, was completely and utterly botched up by a writer and director who had no love for the story. And that does make me hesitant at times when I hear of movie adaptations. And on a side note, some stories are actually improved when they are made into movies because a scriptwriter cuts out all of the unnecessary writing and can give a pointless story vision.

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The perfect love letter: Wentworth to Anne in 'Persuasion'

I decided that after looking at the epic love that is Catherine and Heathcliff from 'Wuthering Heights', it was time to take a look at another one of my favourite lovers, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen's 'Persuasion', especially now that it's Austen August over at Roof Beam Reader. Here below I have the letter that Wentworth writes to Anne. This letter may be the most romantic thing you read today , so please be prepared.
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in 
F. W. 
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.  
First, let's put this into the context of the novel. Anne and Wentworth have met again through family and she has found out he won't marry Louisa Musgrove and he has found out she won't marry Sir Elliot. Although still uncertain on whether she loves him as well, all of Wentworth's scorned feelings have come back full force and he decides to make himself known to her once more in the most romantic letter Jane Austen has ever put down on paper.

All swooning aside, Jane Austen here shows she perfectly understands how romantic love works for women, who would have been Austen's main audience. 'You pierce my soul' is a very simply, small sentence that immediately sets the tone for the letter. The sentence goes back to the ideals of courtly love in which love would be both a sickness and a cure. Love, especially unrequited, hurts very deeply, yet the only cure for it is that very same love, only requited. Wentworth shows Anne he has suffered for her and that she still awakens these kind of feelings

I always felt Jane Austen treated men very fairly. Her male characters are just as emotional as women, which I think is a good thing. Often men in novels are simply strong or simply in love, end of that. Yet Wentworth, as an example, is completely aware of his emotions and feels them just as strongly as Anne. He argues, fights for his love. First he assures her of his love, not only referring to himself but to all men and the strength of their affection, something often doubted in literature since it's usually the women pining after the men, not the other way round.

Another lovely touch is Wentworth almost arguing with himself. First he says he couldn't read her emotions and therefore waited and then he says no one knows her like he does. He can read her sighs, her looks and he wants her to know he is completely at her disposal. He again places himself in her power, again she could break his heart. The bravery in this is what makes this letter so passionate and beautiful. It is full speed ahead, fully aware of the possible negative consequences, yet also despite them. The possibility of her loving him would be worth the fear now.

Captain Wentworth's Letter - Persuasion Literary Quote Brass Cuff Bracelet- Jane Austen JewelryI simply love this letter. It is heart-breaking even though it is also uplifting and hopeful. I get a rush of emotions from it that I usually don't get. A lot of romance has become very predictable. 'I can't live without you', 'you are my soulmate', 'I'll die', etc. etc. This love is so much deeper in its context as in its language. These two know they can live and exist without each other and they have passed the stage of teenage love declarations. Loving each other is their wish, that one thing that would make their life the best it could ever be.

Over at Etsy they have put part of this letter onto a cuff bracelet that I am going to buy as soon as I have money. I mean, have you read this letter? It would just make me smile reading it every single day, no matter what the weather etcetera. I would be such a happy, fulfilled person. I am waxing lyrical here.

Kate 'n Kaboodle's 'Back to School' Nook Giveaway 8/30-9/13

Welcome to the Nook Color 8MB Giveaway!
BuyDig has teamed up with Kate n' Kaboodle and co-hosts News Wahl and Colleen's Book Nook to bring you this wonderful Back to School giveaway!
This fabulous giveaway includes a 8GB Nook Color and a $25 Barnes & Noble Giftcard!

The Barnes & Nobles 8GB Nook Color features the 7 inch VividView Touchscreen that displays 16 million colors ultra-bright. This touchscreen is specially designed for remarkable clarity, minimal glare and is ultra responsive. The Nook Color is fully customizable so you can make the text bigger, choose your favorite font or read in portrait or landscape. Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Textbooks, Comics...if you want to read it, the Nook Color can deliver in seconds with it's built-in WiFi capabilities! With over 2.5 million titles available, there is something for everyone. There is an endless list of free books and you can even save up to 90% on textbooks! Concerned about storage? Worry no more! With 8GB (up to 5,000 books) of built-in memory and expandable storage up to 32GB with microSD memory card, there is plenty of room! Whether you want to watch movies with Netflix, read your favorite book, listen to music, check your Facebook, search the web or enjoy a wide variety of apps, the Nook Color is for you!

Read Kate n' Kaboodle's Review here and check out her other Back To School giveaways!
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BuyDig currently has the 8GB Nook Color available on their website for $149!
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One winner will receive a 8GB Nook Color and a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card!
Enter on the Rafflecopter below. US Only.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment, nor did I receive any compensation for this post.

Facebook Competition for 'Sweet Venom' by Tera Lynn Childs!

Just a quick announcement: amazing competition has launched that you're not yet part of! I received Sweet Venom for review and am now sharing this opportunity with you!

Templar and Sweet Venom have an awesome Facebook competition running to find the next Sweet Venom Huntress!


One lucky fan will be featured as a cover star inside Book 3 of this YA trilogy

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs is published 3rd September 2012

Templar Publishing will be engaging with fans directly in a Facebook promotion to launch Sweet Venom, the fast-paced YA trilogy about three demon-slaying sisters living in modern-day San Francisco.

Fans are invited to email a picture of their face, which will be superimposed on the Sweet Venom cover artwork (see above) and posted on Templar’s Facebook wall. Click HERE to enter.

Entrants will then be asked to get their friends to ‘like’ their picture. Author Tera Lynn Childs will then pick her favourite from the two entries with the most ‘likes’ and the winner will feature on the inside cover of Sweet Legacy, the final instalment of the Sweet Venom trilogy, when it is published in September 2013.

Magazines will be invited to spread the word of the competition via their social networks and Shout Magazine has confirmed it will feature via its Facebook (12,000 likes) and on Twitter (7,000 followers).

Jessica Dean, Marketing Manager at Templar said: “Tera Lynn-Childs has a really active social network and so connecting with her fans in this way seems a natural thing to do. We’re obviously hoping to raise awareness of the book and drive UK sales – but via a platform that Tera’s fans will understand and hopefully really enjoy.”

Author Tera Lynn-Childs, who is one of YA fiction’s rising stars, said : “I’m totally up for connecting with new and existing young readers, especially if it’s fun and innovative. I’m looking forward to seeing who the winner will be…”

Watch out, all you mythological beasties roaming the streets of San Francisco - There's a new kick-ass team of demon-fighters coming your way - Meet Grace, who just moved to San Francisco. It's a tiny bit scary, starting over, but it gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks exactly like her turns up to fight the monster. Then, there's Gretchen, who is fed up of monsters pulling her out into the small hours, especially on a school night. Getting rid of a minotaur is just another notch on Gretchen's combat belt, but she never expected to run into this girl who could be her double in the process. And Greer, who has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But everything tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're all sisters. These three teenage descendants of Medusa must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.
Forgive My Fins (Fins, #1)
Tera Lynn Childs is an award-winning and best-selling US author of teenage fiction. She holds a degree in Theatre from the University of Colorado and a Masters degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University. Tera now spends her time blogging and writing wherever she can find a comfy chair and a steady stream of caffeinated beverages. Her first book with Templar Publishing, the mermaid romance Forgive My Fins, was published in 2011, with the follow-up, Fins are Forever, published in Spring 2012. Sweet Venom marks the beginning of a fantastic new trilogy from Tera Lynn Childs.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

'The Definition of Love' by Andrew Marvell - Analysis

I really enjoyed this poem when I had to read it last year for English, so I thought, why not write a stanza per stanza analysis. Every stanza has something to offer about love that I think is very interesting. Also, it's deliciously dramatic.

What is important to understand when approaching a poem by Andrew Marvell is that he was a metaphysical poet, which means his poetry was about answering the question what love is, therefore the title in which he searches a way to define the emotion. So when he says 'My Love' in the first stanza, he doesn't mean the woman he is in love with but Love itself. He immediately sets up his love as an impossible one, saying it was begotten 'upon Impossibility'. This links in with the second stanza

Marvell says that 'magnanimous despair' was what showed him a love 'divine', whereas 'feeble hope' couldn't have. Magnanimous Despair is an oximoron, which means that two opposite things are brought together and here it reveals the nature of love as Marvell describes it. The love he feel is all the more beautiful because he cannot have it. Through his despair he can see how precious love really is and how beautiful, whereas hoping for love would only have kept him at the surface of the emotion.

In the third and fourth stanza Marvell reveals that it is 'Fate' that has come 'betwixt'  him and his beloved. Fate has seen how perfect they are for each other and won't stand for it. Marvell says it would be 'her ruin' for them to be together. By that he implies that love is stronger than anything and when achieved could bring down 'tyrannic' fate itself. Yet he cannot achieve it and is therefore left heart broken and weak. Note that Marvell compared Fate to 'iron' and 'steel'. He subtly uses language to show how immovable Fate is supposed to be.

In the fifth stanza, Marvell uses what is called a metaphysical conceit, and a very fine example at that. Metaphysical poets used sometimes strange comparisons that were drawn from geography, science and many more subjects to highlight their message. By comparing the lovers to the Earth's 'poles' he makes the distance between them insurmountable, but also vital. The Earth spins on these poles and we would loose all direction without them. Marvell here gives us a glimpse of how he feels about love. The emotion is crucial to our lives, yet the fulfillment of it is not unnecessary to the same degree. He takes on almost a neo-platonic view of love, in which the physical love, Eros, is seen as beneath the spiritual, Divine, love. In the sixth stanza he makes clear that 'to join; the two lovers would spell disaster.

In the seventh stanza he uses another, smaller conceit of lines. A sloping, 'oblique', line represent a love that is not as true as theirs and those lovers may well meet and love each other. Yet Marvell and his beloved, who are 'truly parallel', are doomed to forever follow each other but never be together. It is the ultimate impossible love image, two lines, always moving along the same path, but forbidden from ever meeting and being together.

The final and eighth stanza forms both a conclusion and summary of the poem. Marvell again highlights the fact that Fate interferes with their love. For anyone who has to write an essay on love poems, this would be where a link can be made to the context; the time in which the poem was written. Fate was a lot more important and "active" back then, whereas now Fate plays much less of a role. Marvell also makes a point out of the fact that their love is a 'conjunction of the mind', which seems to strip their love of any kind of romance. It is the neo-platonic ideal of being in love with Love itself and not with a person.

Let's also take a minute to appreciate that Marvell never mentions his love by a name or even refers to her as 'her'. He talks only about the emotion which is another clear sign this is a metaphysical poem. These poems were written by men, to be shared in a group of other men. This wasn't a poem written for a woman, as sonnets often are, but meant as a piece of work, to be admired for its proficiency in conceits and language.

That was my analysis of 'The Definition of Love' by Andrew Marvell, who's last name has made it impossible for me to talk about Marvel movies without mispronouncing Marvel all the time. So what do you think? Does this sound like your kind of poem?

Top Ten: Bookish Confessions

 Ok, I think this is a good way for me to finally face up to my own literary failings and then happily continue being a hypocrite about some.
Top Ten Tuesday's are hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. So, here we go:

  1. This is probably something a lot of people do but I dog ear books and not only because it's handy and quick, but also because I like the way they look on a book. Yes, I am a book ruiner, but I like it when a book looks like it has been read and has the slightly worn look. It makes it look beloved, I think.
  2. I keep on bashing the Twilight books, but I have read all of them. *cries in a corner* I am a complete hypocrite about this sometimes because I have grown completely sick of them. I loved the first book because I was at an impressionable young age and then I felt I had to read the others as well and although they annoyed me more and more I couldn't put them down. I didn't even enjoy it that much, but my friend and I literally spent 2 days reading New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn back to back and we don't know why.
  3. I buy books and then don't read them. It is just as if I get into a kind of frenzy as soon as I walk into a bookstore. Especially if they're having a sale, I'm in there and don't leave until I have spent all my money. And I don't even feel bad about it until half a year later when I look at that book I bought that I didn't read and don't plan on ever reading and my mind is just like:' Why the HELL did you spend your money on this?'
  4. I find it really hard to type properly most of the time. I think maybe that's why it sometimes takes me ages to write something because I always have to retype simply words like 'the' or 'for' because I keep on typing 'teh' and 'fro'. Why won't my fingers work?
  5. I never ever go to the library. I always say I will just get it from the library but that's simply not how I roll. I don't like having to make sure I don't dog ear it (see Confession 1) or having to finish it within 3 weeks. I want to take my time with it, I want to reread it whenever I want and not have to pay extra for wanting to read the love confession one more time 1 week after the return date.
  6. If a book bores me, I'll simply skim ahead until a word that looks interesting catches my eye. Maybe that's how I survived Twilight, because I really can't remember anything of Bella's endless interior monologues. But back to the confession, sometimes a certain part is simply boring and doesn't really add that much to the story and then I feel I'm wasting my time reading it, so I skip it. I don't do this with books I review though, unless they are really bad.
  7. I once wrote a review that the author declined. It was for a book tour and I didn't realise the book had vampires in it and the book just took a turn and I was all like: 'NOT AGAIN!' so I wrote a review in which I really gave my honest opinion. It wasn't all bad and I tried to be constructive, but the author wanted none of it so I was told not to post it and removed from the book tour. :(
  8. I can be a terrible hypocrite on this blog and I worry about that sometimes. I don't want to bash all the paranormal and vampire novels because I know people love them, but I simply don't like them anymore. And then I feel really bad because I have read Twilight and enjoyed the first book. And then I start feeling like a snob because I talk about classics a lot and it maybe seems I look down on those who haven't read them. But that's where Nr 9 comes in.
  9. I haven't read anything by Charles Dickens and other big name classic authors. With Dickens the case is simply that I opened 'Great Expectations' and after about a page thought: 'Not for me', closed it and never looked at my Dickens' books again although my family have been angels and bought me really nice copies. But I simply don't have the urge to read it. And the same counts for other authors who's names spontaneously evade me. 
  10. I love watching movie adaptations, sometimes even before reading the book, and if it's really good I sometimes won't even read the book. Movies are an amazing way of getting to know books, but I try to read the book first. I tried with the Hunger Games and then realised I didn't care enough to plow through the book before the movie came out. So I didn't and still haven't. I've read the Wiki page though, in case that counts.
So, those were my confessions. Not all of them may have been shocking or revelatory, but I hope you enjoyed them. Leave a comment with a link to your own, I can't wait to see what you have to confess!

Teaser Tuesday: 'Felice's World'

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading and today I am teasing from a book I was sent to review for a booktour: 'FELICE’S WORLDS: From the Holocaust to the Halls of Modern Art' by Henry Massie.

“I’m sick of the word marriage. I’m suffocating in it. I have to escape. And I need to find a way to make more money because every cent I earn goes to my room and board. I have no money for books, for concerts, for the theater, for clothes.”
P. 68
I am not quite sure who is speaking here because I am not that far into the book yet, but I like the tone of it. I feel that this is something I could say.

Felice's World: from the Holocaust to the Halls of Modern Art' by Henry Massie
First she escaped the Holocaust and the poverty of the Shtetl. After that, she moved in many worlds. And in every one she made her mark.
Felice Massie was a student in France caught up in the horrors of Nazism when she was 20 yeas old. Cut off by the war from her family living in a small village in Poland, she shifted from one country to another attempting to find a home for herself and a means to rescue her parents, brother and sister. As the Holocaust descended on her shtetl, she arrived penniless in America. Over time she raised a family and amassed one of foremost collections of American modern art. Her boldness and resilience became a beacon of hope and inspiration for others.
The cover isn't that nice, but that's probably because it's a Kindle edition. So, what are you teasing with this week?

First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

'The train with four wooden carriages stuttered to a halt at the Lebanese crossing into Palestine near noon on a September day in 1935. Felice and her companion stepped into the sun, feeling the intense heat, tasting the sting of salt from the Mediterranean Sea to the east. For a moment a breeze from the mountains on the west brought a hint of freshness. The wild grass along the tracks was burnt golden. Everything was sear,  scorched, except for the flowers in the border station’s window planter boxes. Dust hung in the air from a gravel road that paralleled the tracks.'

I like the opening, it's so descriptive and I love travelling so I like the prospect of getting diferent placed described to me.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Symphony of Science and its link to literature

Yesterday I took a trip down memory lane by listening to the Symphony of Science songs, which are absolutely brilliant, and I felt very inspired by them. These scientists somehow were able to talk about science, something so abstract and distant for many of us, as something inspirational and real. At times they talked about science much in the same way I would talk about books, which fascinated me. So I decided to pick out my three favourites and try and see why I feel so inspired by them and how I think they link to literature. Because believe it or not, this bookworm felt like picking up a science book after listening to these songs again. I might be nuts, but give me the benefit of the doubt.

My favourite is probably 'The Poetry of Reality' with my science-crush, Richard Feynman.

First of all, I don't really like Richard Dawkins. I think he makes very valid points about religion, yet sometimes goes to far in his rethoric in order to get his point across. But I absolutely adore him for calling science the 'poetry of reality'. Poems are often very intricate, honed down to the last comma, perfected over and over again. They really are a piece of art and hard work and I think the same can be said about reality. The way our world is put together is fascinatingly difficult, yet once you get into its intricacies, you can really appreciate its beauty on a whole new level, just like a poem. With this phrasing, Dawkins also, unawares, shows why scientists can be as obsessed with their subject as readers can be with their books. To be honest, I actually think that readers and scientists are quite similar. Neither of them are afraid to dive into a different, new world and be surprised by what they find there. Both love to ask questions, to wonder and to want to find out more and both of us would rather continue searching for the answer than finding it and having to end the adventure. Maybe that is why I love Feynman so much. His enthusiasm for his job is the same kind of enthusiasm I feel for reading.

I love Neil deGrasse Tyson's comment about being 'scientifically literate' because it again shows this link to us readers. Being able to "read" the Universe opens your mind and does indeed empower you to understand your own nature and surroundings better, just like reading a book allows you to understand humans and the way we behave better. Books and science do shine light into dark corners. Both allow us to explore, to search for that which is not known. The only difference is that books are written by humans, whereas science is rather a book written by nature. That is where the next song comes in.

Another amazing song is 'We Are All Connected' in which Feynman shows of some great drumming skills.

First of all, I love the message of this song. We are all connected by the way we have come into existence. And how brilliant would it be for Tyson to run up to you and ask you whether you have heard this? Also, how funny is Bill Nye, the guy who calls himself a 'speck'?

'Nature's imagination' might sound like a strange concept, but when you look around you, you have to admit it is true. Nature has created beautiful things that surpass any kind of human creation. We humans get all of our inspiration from nature. All novels are about humans, about our interaction with our surroundings and each other. And what is our imagination if not our ability to piece together different pieces of information, images and sounds to create one idea? Nature works no differently. And again, I think there is another link to literature here. The beauty of a book is not necessarily whether the main character is likeable or whether the setting is beautiful, but rather how all of these things come together to create something that takes your breath away. I believe a book cannot work if these things don't come together to create one idea in the same way an animal or plant couldn't live if not all of its molecules were put together properly by nature.

I think the idea of us being a way 'for the cosmos to know itself' is fascinating. I wonder whether enough sci-fi writers have picked up on this. In my head it is already developing into a storyline for a short story. I mean, us humans are probably nature's most fascinating creation. We are a bunch of molecules that work together in such a way we have become conscious of ourselves. Nature works through us yet also knows itself through us. It is a mind-boggling concept that would make for a very interesting novel. Yet I don't know whether any author could express it as beautifully as Carl Sagan and his amazing eyebrows.

And finally, here is a song I discovered this time around, 'Onward to the Edge'.

First of all, I love the music in this song and how beautifully soothing the chorus is. Yes, Brian Cox's voice still annoys me but I find this way I can actually learn from what he says.

Yet Neil deGrasse Tyson is, in my humble opinion, still the most prosaic of scientists. He has a way with words that make reaching for the other planets not something dry and boring that stuffy scientists in laboratories somewhere at NASA strive for, but something all of us could be inspired for. It is in our nature to explore the unknown, to look beyond the boundaries of what seems possible. Why do we read books if not to explore how life is for others? We want to know how the characters deal with life, just like we want to know how other planets came into existence and works. Tyson has a calm enthusiasm and dedication that I think is admirable.

'When I reach for the edge of the Universe, I do so knowing that along some paths of cosmic discovery, there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves.' First of all, is this not a great closing sentence, not only to this song but to everything? We readers take on books, fully aware that while reading there will be a lot of questions, many of which will be answered in the end, some of which may not be answered at all. Yet does this mean we don't read? No, because the questions themselves are worth thinking about. To question is, I believe, one of the best things a human can do. Questioning is wanting to know, perceiving something as worth understanding and realizing there is something bigger out there.

I am always surprised by how much I love these songs. When I was taught science in high school it was a very dry subject that only came alive when I realized its presence all around me. Yet I had a teacher who was far from enthusiastic. And in these songs we see scientists who love their subject, who are able to find words and comparisons that are highly imaginative. For me, these songs are a great source of inspiration for writing. Not only is the music great, but here I find people driven to move forward, always curious to know more. As a fan of classic literature I am often in danger of being stuck in the past. Yet I find that nothing is as fascinating as what I don't know yet. Everything that is to come, all the things we will find out and discover in the future is tantalizingly interesting.

I highly advise anyone who likes these song to check them out on Youtube or go to the creator's website, where you can download them for free: Symphony of Science

Have you listened to these songs and are you inspired by them?

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday's here

Gain New Blog FollowersI am running really low of reading because I don't have a Kindle at the moment, so that would explain my lack of posting, next to the stress of organizing finance for university and working at UCL. But I decided I couldn't miss out on Friday!

This week's FF question, hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, is:
Q: Worst cover? What is the worst cover of a book that you've read and loved?

I never used to pay a lot of attention to covers before I got into blogging and then I saw some gorgeous covers and started paying a lot of attention to it. In fact, I'm planning on decorating my room at uni with those extra covers they put around book covers. But I don't think I have ever really disliked a cover on a book that I loved. I do have to admit that a cover can turn me off reading a book. I usually don't like the cheesy, romancy-type covers with a guy and a girl in some passionate embrace, but then again, there are very nice examples of these as well.

Covers I usually like are drawings, such as the German covers for Harry Potter. Although they might not be beautiful paintings, I loved them as a kid and thought it did really well at maturing the Harry character and showing some of the amazing imagery and scenes from the book.I also like how Harry is looking at the reader, there is simply something about it. And let's face it, I grew up loving this book so of course I love the covers! I spent years looking at them while my dad read them to me.

And the Book Blogger Hop is back and I can't wait to get started again, It's hosted over at Crazy For Books by Jen, who is also celebrating her 4-yr Blogoversary! This week's question:

Book Blogger HopWhat is your favorite thing about blogging?
What  I love about blogging is simply writing about books. Sitting down, opening Blogger and start writing. I never really edit my reviews in the sense that I spend a lot of time thinking how they should be organised, but I do also really enjoy thinking about what to write and how to write. Something I didn't expect was how much I started to enjoy networking. It took me some time to get into and to start to see the fun of it, but now I love browsing through blogs.
For this week's Book Beginnings (hosted by Rose City Reader) and Friday 56 (hosted by Freda's Voice) I decided to go back to a classic that I've been rereading over the years: The Iliad by Homer.


Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly goddess, sing!That wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reignThe souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain
I love the drama, it always makes me feel excited. Little trivia: the central theme of the Iliad is not the Trojan War, but Achilles' wrath, that's why it's the first (in Greek) words of the entire book.


The gathering murmur spreads, their trampling feetBeat the loose sands, and thicken to the fleet;With long-resounding cries they urge the trainTo fit the ships, and launch into the main
When reading this I really feel as if I can hear the cries of the soldiers and the trampling of their feet. Perhaps I get into it too much, but I simply really like it.

So, how about you? Do you hate any covers? What do you love about blogging?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A review of 'The Taming of the Shrew' at the Shakespeare's Globe

I had mixed feelings about going to see this play. Not because I'd ever not want to go to the Globe or because I was expecting a bad performance or play, it is Shakespeare after all, but because I am quite an independent, equal rights girl and I didn't know whether I would like watching a woman being tamed. But I did enjoy myself terribly, I don't know whether I ever laughed this much and I felt they dealt with the taming delicately.
The Taming of the Shrew performed at The Globe Theare, with
Samantha Spiro as Kate and Simon Paisley Day as Petruchio.

For those unfamiliar with the play, it is set in Italy and Baptista has 2 daughters, the eldest, Katherina, who is everything from feisty to aggressive but never calm, and Bianca, who seems to be her polar opposite. The latter has many suitors who cannot press their suit unless the eldest is married. In comes Petruchio, who seems mainly interested in Katherina's dowry and believes he can tame her. What follows is their power struggle until Katherina gives in and becomes the best wife of the bunch, trumping even her sister in obedience.

The performance started of with the entrance of Christopher Sly, dressed in a footbal shirt, entering the stage drunken, "peeing" on the stage and fainting. The actors then decided to stage a play for Sly, convincing him he was a lord. This included one of the actors, Tom Godwin, dressing up as his wife which was a very impressive feat and had quite a lot of women amazed. Although they don't come back to Sly, I believe it is rather important. Shakespeare here shows us that a drunken fool can be made to seem like a nobleman when everyone knows he is really not. In the way he is "changed", Katharina is eventually tamed.

The performances by the actors were brilliant. One of the highlights at the beginning, as already mentioned, was Tom Godwin dressing up as a noble woman and he maintained his funny streak throughout the play, drawing regular cheers from the audience. Pearce Quigley as Grumio, Petruchio's servant, had me on the constant lookout for him because he was simply comedy gold. The way he talked, underlining the heavy irony of his character, his interaction with Petruchio, especially the constant kicking of the bucket every time Petruchio mentioned his father's "untimely end", and his generally amazing performance made him much beloved by the audience as well. Sarah MacRae gave her Bianca a sharp edge by making it seem she played her father into believing she is so very innocent when she has the same capability of cruelty as her sister. It made her character less of a device of contrast and rather a fully fleshed person. Joseph Timms as Lucentio, in love with Bianca, is adorable in his acclamation of love, showing the stark difference between how wooing might typically have been presented and how Petruchio goes at it. Jamie Beamish as his servant Tranio, dressed up as Lucentio for the biggest part of the play, was highly enjoyable in his over the top acting as his master, getting both of them in trouble.

And of course, Samantha Spiro as Katherina and Simon Paisley Day as Petruchio were amazing. She was amazing in her energy and convincing rage. What I enjoyed was that she did play Katherina as being slightly out of control. She is not just what would have been seen as disobedient for Shakespeare's time, she is even hard to deal with for our time, knocking over walls and bashing instruments over teachers' heads. This allowed for her 'taming' to be a bit more acceptable since she definitely needed a lesson. Simon Paisley Day made Petruchio a complex character, both cruel yet also almost respectful of Katherina. Although his methods of starvation, sleep deprivation and humiliation are cruel beyond account, he subjects himself to them as well. Also, he is rude to everyone, treats everyone with a humorous contempt and at the end seems to have genuine affection and even respect for his wife.

The final scene, Katherina's final speech, is, I believe, what everyone fears about this play. Here this headstrong woman is the first to come running at her husband's command and in a speech to her sister and the audience tells us women should be obedient to their husbands, that their happiness lies in pleasing the other and that they owe it to them for protection. She then places her hand on the floor, for Petruchio to step on if he so pleases. Thankfully here, Petruchio's love comes through and he kneels and kisses her. There was a silence in the Globe during this speech, as if no one was quite sure what to do with themselves. I believe that it is important to see this speech as part of the time and class it was written in and for. Women of noble birth during Shakespeare's lifetime could indeed stay at home, safe and protected, often uneducated to the real dangers and workings of the world. Their husbands simply did know better and even I think it is only fair to be nice to your husband when he comes home after fighting to keep you and everyone else safe. For women of the working classes back then and women nowadays this of course didn't count since they work just as hard as their husbands even though I might be tempted to say that the kind of dedication shown by Katherina and Petruchio for each other is lacking in many modern relationships.

The play left everyone with the right taste in their mouth. Slightly upset, but entertained and aware of the fact they just witnessed a brilliant Shakespeare play. The Globe is, in my humble opinion, the best place to see a Shakespeare play. The actors are so close, it is so interactive that Shakespearean English becomes no problem. Just to prove this point: we went to the Globe last night with a Dutch friend of my sister's. She has had 3 years of English education to Dutch standards, no Shakespeare, trust me. She, not once, looked bored or as if she didn't understand but had the night of her life. Is there anything better than a play that
breaches a language barrier and becomes enjoyable to all?

 Have you seen the Taming of the Shrew or read it? What did you think?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Inspiring Friday

Gain New Blog Followers
Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q: What blogger inspires you? It can be any kind, it doesn't have to be a book blog.
Oh lord this is a difficult question because how can you pick just one if there are so many amazing bloggers and blogs out there? I don'r really read a lot of blogs outside of book-blogs except maybe political ones and there I usually just click on random ones if I feel they are talking about something that would interest me.

If it comes to book bloggers I really couldn't pick just one because I always get inspired, no matter what book blog I visit. Even if I don't like a book they are reviewing, every review has something that inspires me to either want to write better, look at a different kind of genre or simply read more by that blogger. A blogger that did inspire me at the beginning of my own blogging-career was The Story Siren. She did blogging tips, just like Parajunkee with her Blogging 101, which really helped in understanding the different aspects and difficulties of blogging which was great because I went into blogging completely unawares of what to do. Now I simply love all different kinds of blogs and I couldn't simply pick one. Below I have some blogs I really like visiting and I probably missed out loads I wanted to add to the list and I'll probably beat myself up over that, but there is simply too much book blogger amazingness out there to make a coherent list. This list is alphabetical and not ranked in any way.

Alison Can Read, Ao BibliosphereBecky's Book ReviewsBeyond Strange New WordsCarabosse LibraryConfessions of an Inner AspenGReads, Great Reads, Guiltless ReadingI Have Lived a Thousand LivesLadyD BooksMixed BookBagsMusings on FantasiaRainy Days and MondaysTales of Whimsy

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 by Freda's Voice, also 2 great blogs! For today  I have chosen 'The Picture of Dorian Grey' by Oscar Wilde, which I started reading before my Kindle died on me. Now I am reading a PDF file over the computer. Thankfully the book is good, otherwise it wouldn't be worth it!

'The studio was filled with the rich odor of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pinkflowering thorn.'
I love this beginning. It is amazing at setting the scene and it just really transfers you into the book.


‘One evening about seven o’clock I determined to go out in search of some adventure. I felt that this gray, monstrous London of ours, with its myriads of people, its splendid sinners, and its sordid sins, as you once said, must have something in store for me. I fancied a thousand things.'
Well, that's London for you. But I love this quote because every time I go into central London, this is how I feel!

So, how about you? What are you reading and what inspires you?

Review of the 1999 'Mansfield Park' movie

Part of Austen in August, hosted over at Roof Beam Reader.

'Mansfield Park' is not really a favourite of mine. Although I prefer it, as an Austen book, to many other books, I would much rather read 'Pride & Prejudice' or 'Persuasion'. I stumbled onto this movie version of 'Mansfield Park' after watching the superb 2007 'Persuasion' movie and rather enjoyed it, to my own surprise. Previously I had only seen the 2007 BBC TV series which only affirmed me in my disliking of the story.

My main problem is the character of Fanny.She is very different from Austen's other heroines and reminds me, character-wise, much more of Mary from 'Pride & Prejudice' rather than a lead role. In the memories I have of the novel, I'm planning on rereading it soon, Fanny is a bit bland, too easily scared and her devotion to Edmund came across more slavishly than anything else. In this movie, Fanny has been given some of the wit that the other Austen heroines have. She is a lot more likeable, she can stand up for herself and is not such a victim to the others. When her aunt, Mrs. Norris, is rude to her in front of all the guests, you actually feel for her, whereas in the novel I wanted to scream at Fanny to stand up for herself.

Mansfield Park PosterThis is quite an "experimental" movie in the sense that the director, Patricia Rozema, has experimented with the way of filming, sounds, etc. to get the story across rather than relying solely on the text. For example, at times Fanny talks directly to the camera, reading aloud her letters and stories to her younger sister. Even the costumes were slightly updated, allowing for a more modern look. I quite liked this approach to the story, especially because I feel that at times the story in itself is lacking. For example, I never really bought the love between Fanny and Edmund. If he loved Mary Crawford first, he couldn't have fallen in love afterwards with a more polar opposite, in the novel that is. In the movie, the bond between the two appears always very strong and it is therefore easier to believe he was actually in love with her as well.

My biggest problem with this interpretation of the novel is that they made Henry Crawford so charming. I was half in love with him by the time he proposed to Fanny and I really felt that she mistreated him. In the novel I felt sorry for him at times because I feel Fanny played with his emotions; encouraging him yet never giving him a real chance. In keeping with the modern approach to the story, the movie really shows his genuine affection for her and his disappointment when she cannot let Edmund go, who, at the time, is completely engrossed by Mary Crawford. I even got angry over the fact that Fanny then dared to be angry over the fact he seduced someone else, because I felt that in rejecting him she lost any claim she had to his affection.

Overall though, I really liked this movie. Fanny was nice, even funny, and reminded me at times of Catherine Morland in 'Northanger Abbey'. It has definitely made me want to reread the book, in case I have been misjudging Fanny all along and she is actually a nice character. Is it my favourite Austen book? No. Is this movie adaptation up there with my favourite Austen movies? Yes.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it, especially in comparison to the book?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: 'The End of Your Life Book Club'

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. I am definitely getting better at this meme because again, I have a book that is set for release on October the 2nd.

“What are you reading?”
That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.
The End of Your Life Book ClubThis is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. 
Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page

I think I will really like this book. I like the idea of books inspiring conversations because it is so true and I cannot wait to see what books they are going to use.

So, what are you waiting on?

Review: 'Beautiful Disaster' by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)I saw a review for this on A Glass of Wine by Kathy and thought I'd like it. Because it's a 'read now' on NetGalley I rushed over there, put it on my Kindle and started reading. I am getting my exam results tomorrow, so I needed to be distracted over the last couple of days. And this book most definitely did the trick of distracting me.
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
I hadn't expected to love this book. In her review Kathy mentioned the violence in the novel, which was to be expected from reading the synopsis and I thought this would probably make me dislike the novel but there was something strangely alluring about it. McGuire did really well in conveying the thrill and excitement of the danger that accompanies Travis, especially because it was intertwined with some really sweet scenes. Together with Abby, we feel much more excited when she is with Travis. This book will probably really work for every girl that is attracted to bad boys who are actually sweet. Although I liked it in this novel because Abby wasn't trying to change him, I think we are all ready for novels in which girls don't change guys. Although I liked it in this novel, it has been done a bit too much. Why can't the girl be corrupted once in a while, or just accept the way he is and leave?

 Finding out who the 'old Abby' was really interesting. I think that maybe I had expected something else but her story was worked out really well. Once the big reveal came I realised McGuire had dropped little hints all throughout the novel. I was surprised with the level of development for the characters and plot line, showing once again that I am slightly, perhaps terribly, prejudiced against the YA genre. It is just that I don't run into YA novels I like that much and now here I am, finding two in two weeks.

Thinking it over again, I think I know why I liked this novel as much as I did. It is absolutely human. There is no magic, no ghosts, no vampires, just people. They all mess up, say stupid things, regret it, don't regret it, they gossip, etc. I think that was very refreshing. It is a lot easier to relate to the characters and it does give the novel more depth because the behavior of the characters can be better explored. The sequel 'Walking Disaster' is going to be the same story but from Travis' perspective. I don't know whether I'm ready for that, I already nearly combusted reading it from Abby's perspective. But it will be very interesting to see whether McGuire is able to hold onto her realistic writing style.

I give this book...


I liked this book a lot more than I expected, the cover is gorgeous and I hate my Kindle for dying now  because this means I can'y reread it. I really enjoyed it, it is a very entertaining read and I think every girl will be hooked on Travis immediately. I only gave it 3 universes because while I absolutely love it now, I don't think it will always remain a favourite! But right now, I can't get it out of my head!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Review: 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen

Persuasion'Persuasion' is one of my favourite Austen novels but I haven't read it in ages so I decided to reread it for Austen in August, hosted by Roof Beam Reader. I still absolutely love it.
Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
What I find really interesting is that she wrote this after 'Emma'. There is such a difference between Emma and Anne Elliot, the protagonist of 'Persuasion'.  Where Emma is stubborn and convinced of her own right, Anne was too easily convinced and as a consequence seems to lose the last bit of backbone she  had. Yet where Emma becomes more open to others, Anne's resilience and independent spirit comes through, which eventually makes her happy again.

I quite like the plot of this novel, especially because I feel it is very different to most of the other Austen plots.  Although there is a resemblance to 'Sense & Sensibility', impoverished family, I feel this novel is a real departure from the somewhat fluffy, if still amazing, love stories such as 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'Emma'. I feel that in this novel Jane Austen looked much closer at the consequences of the expectations of women. Anne rejected the man she loved because of the expectation she would marry someone richer and more worthy. As a consequence, she is now miserable and her family financially ruined. Although there is still love involved, it is a novel about humans after all, it is very much also about Anne finding her own voice. Anne is also presented in a much more emphatic way than most other Austen characters are.

If you are looking for a fluffy romance than this might not be your cup of tea. It is not very fluffy, it is an almost bitter and resentful love that is portrayed in the book. Austen had a keen eye for people, I believe, and this is one of her books in which I feel none of the characters are over the top parodies of real-life people. There was a 2007 BBC series and I usually love the BBC versions so I am definitely going to watch that one and a movie in 1995, which might be even better. I think I know what I'm doing tonight!

I give this book...


I love this book by Jane Austen and I think all Austen lovers who haven't read it should do so right now! It is confrontational at times but also very warm and the end feels much more deserved than in 'Mansfield Park'.

Tune in Tuesday: Abide With Me

I used to do a post called 'Lyrical Tuesday' where I chose a song and talked about what the lyrics meant to me. Now I find out GReads already has one of those and it's doing a lot better than mine, so I'm hopping onto their bandwagon. Here's what Tune in Tuesday is about:

A weekly feature hosted by me that showcases music - my other passion in life besides books! Each week I will post a new or old song in hopes to gain more interest. Help me in spreading the love of music! Feel free to get involved with this feature by linking up at the bottom of this post, thanks!

For this week I chose 'Abide With Me', which Emeli Sande sang at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. I realize that the Opening Ceremony has already been followed by a Closing Ceremony which was epic, but the way Emeli sang this was simply amazing. I couldn't find the actual clip, but this one is almost just as good!

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
This is what religion is about for me. I am Christian, but a lot of friends say I am not because I don't follow every letter of the Bible. But this song encapsulates perfectly, for me, why belief helps at times.

So, what tune are you listening to this week?

Teaser Tuesday: Life Knocks

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading! I chose a novel I am reading for review at the moment, since that was the one closest to me. It's 'Life Knocks' by Craig Stone. Here is the teaser I chose:

'To distract my imagination from picturing Mohammad naked, and on the other side of my front door with a cup up against the wall trying to hear me breathe, I start cleaning.'         P. 25
I should probably explain that Mohammad is his landlord, who sneaks into his room when he's not there. At this moment Colossus, the protagonist, is waiting for M. to enter again so he can catch him in the act. But as you see, it didn't really work out for him. I am really enjoying this book so far, it is really funny and interesting at the same time.

Another teaser from another book I'm going to start soon, because I'm in a happy mood! ;) This is 'The Picture of Dorian Grey' by Oscar Wilde.

'Lips that Shakespeare taught to speak have whispered their secret in my ear. I have had the arms of Rosalind around me, and kissed Juliet on the mouth.'          P.81

Aaaagghh, I love this quote sooo much. What is wrong with Oscar Wilde that he wrote such beautiful things that make me happy?
So, what are you teasing everyone else with?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Review: 'Pygmalion' by George Bernard Shaw


'Pygmalion' is one of my favourite plays and many people know it better as the musical 'My Fair Lady' with the amazing Audrey Hepburn. I still can't get over the fact that my grandmother knew her and saw her perform in her own livingroom! Yes, I am jealous of my grandmother!

Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a commentary on women's independence.

The plot of this play is amazing in its simplicity. A professor teaches a flower girl how to speak properly, thinking that this is the way to enter into society. That she is eventually the one with the better manners barely comes as a surprise. All of the characters are lovable, although Higgins always treads on the line between lovable and offensive. The play is a great piece of criticism on trying to fit in too much and thereby changing your own persona, something that is still very current. Neither Eliza Doolittle, nor her father, are happy with their new position and expectations in and of society.

Shaw, through Higgins, is actually something of a feminist if you look at his lines closely. Towards the end of the play, Higgins tells Eliza:
'You call me a brute because you couldn't buy a claim on me by fetching my slippers and finding my spectacles. You were a fool: I think a woman fetching a man's slippers is a disgusting sight: did i ever fetch your slippers? I think a good deal more of you for throwing them in my face. No use slaving for me and then saying you want to be cared for: who cares for a slave?'
Shaw is basically advocating for women to be independent and not slave over men. Higgins wants Eliza to be  her own woman and to be his equal. He has no inclination to fall in love with her and the play therefore does not have the, perhaps expected, romantical ending. Unfortunately but predictably, Hollywood changed the ending of 'My Fair Lady' from the play. I only found out later that Shaw had been inspired by Ibsen, who wrote the ur-feminist play 'The Doll's House' which I also quite liked but wasn't as light in tone as this one.

This play was of course inspired by the tale of Pygmalion and Galatea, a story of a sculptor who falls in love with his own sculpture and asks the gods to bring her to life. Shaw was probably inspired by the 1871 play 'Pygmalion and Galatea' by W.S. Gilbert in which Galatea eventually returns to being a statue because she was happier that way. We see the same desire in Eliza near the end when she wishes she could return to the less complicated life of a flower girl, a thing that is impossible for her now that she has seen how life could be. There is also a link to 'Frankenstein', or at least I believe there is. Just like Frankenstein, Higgins creates and then leaves his creation wanting. He teaches Eliza no manners and  doesn't show her any kind of love, much like Frankenstein's attitude towards the Creature.

I am always fascinated to see how plays are adapted onto a stage and still haven't had the luck to see this one live. What I do know is that Shaw had written a couple of scenes he said could be removed if they proved to difficult to stage. I wonder whether playwrights sometimes feel very limited in their writing because they have to think about what is possible on stage and what isn't. On the other hand, many plays are surreal and play exceptionally well with light and music, something a book, which has all the room for endless descriptions, has not.

So, what do you think? It's only a short play, so does it sound like something you'd like?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Nook Colour Giveaway over at

Sign up's are now open for the Kate n' Kaboodle Back to School Nook Color Event!
This is a free blogger event!
Prize: Barnes & Noble NOOK Color 8GB Memory with Wifi
Dates: Aug.30 - Sept.13
Sign up here!

Review: 'City of Bones' by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones.jpgI will admit that I decided to try this series for a very vain reason, namely that it was announced Jonathan Rhys Meyers would be in the movie as Valentine Morgenstern, which starts shooting somewhere this month. I love that man, so I decided this was the moment to see what these books were about and why everyone loved them so much. I went into this not expecting too much from it but also quite curious because this is the first proper urban fantasy I have read, I think.

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 
I did enjoy reading the book. I was expecting to be a bit exasperated because I don't really like novels with demons and vampires and all of that stuff. But it was nice to come into this world together with Clary, who had no idea what was going on, just like the reader. This next point is more a general criticism of all these kind of novels. The protagonists adapt surprisingly quick and never once stop to question or take a breather from everything. I realize that is difficult when your mother has disappeared but sometimes I feel the authors try to cram everything a teenager might feel into too short a period; abandonment, love, despair, loss of trust, etc. Also, after finishing the book I felt Clare had left to many plotlines open for an ending. This could not be read as a stand-alone book, as the 'Harry Potter' books could be, because there is no closure whatsoever.

I quite liked the characters. Jace is funny and at times his lines almost made me laugh out loud. I think it is a good thing Cassandra Clare uses a character that is so ironic because otherwise the book would seem to take itself to seriously, thereby opening itself up for ridicule. Clary herself was a nice protagonist although she didn't leave that big of an impression on me as Jace did. She is clearly a character the author wants us female readers to identify with and that definitely works in parts. However, I feel that the characters of Simon, Isabelle and especially Alec are underdeveloped. I would have loved to know more about Alec and to develop his story more because I think he is very interesting.

What I did like were some of the imagery Clare produced. Especially the brotherhood and the idea that magic is based on runes that are almost tatooed onto the skin was very nice. It shows Clare's creativity and also makes her story seem a lot more plausible than, for example, the existence of vampires in 'Twilight'. Although not loop-hole free, it's not as glaringly missing explanation as those books.

I have to say, and I'll be careful not to spoil the book for anyone here, I did not like the big revelation regarding Jace and Clary at the end. Those who have read the book will now what I mean. It just turned me ever so slightly of the books. I forgave it in 'Star Wars' (this link will make no sense if you haven't seen 'Empire Strikes Back' and/or haven't read 'City of Bones') because it was a completely different situation there, here it just seems wrong. I guess I will just have to read the next book to see how this develops, but I really hope it turns out different.

I give this book...


It was an entertaining read and I finished it in a day. Although it didn't completely blow me away I liked the story and the characters. I do hope there is some more character development in the next book and some explanations and answers. I definitely will go see the movie and although the other cast choices, except Simon, don't really seem to fit, I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers will be great as Valentine Morgenstern.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Friday's Angels

Gain New Blog FollowersThis week's FF question is:
Q: What would you do over if you were to start your blog again from scratch?

I don't really know. I started blogging 1 and a half years ago and have learned so much! I only recently wrapped my head around how to network and absolutely love some of the other bloggers I've connected with! I still haven't completely figured out what I am doing and where I want to go. I really enjoy the fact that my blog encourages me to read more. At the beginning, I posted things every day and reviewed much more regularly. Now I am so busy I'm unable to post reviews etc every day. So if I were to start again I would probably keep my review-production rate up and maybe look around a bit more and not stick to books I know I will like.

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader. The book closest to me was 'Where Angels Fear To Tread' by E.M. Forster. I absolutely love that title and quite wait to get reading

'THEY WERE ALL at Charing Cross to see Lilia off—Philip, Harriet, Irma, Mrs. Herriton herself. Even Mrs.Theobald, squired by Mr. Kingcroft, had braved the journey from Yorkshire to bid her only daughtergood-bye.'
Well, at least we are introduced to loads of characters. And we know Lilia is leaving. Usually I quite like novels that start in the middle of action and don't immediately explain it. With this one I am not entirely sure.


“Are we to go into mourning, do you think?” She always asked her children’s advice where possible.Harriet thought that they should. She had been detestable to Lilia while she lived, but she always feltthat the dead deserve attention and sympathy.'
I am all for involving children, but asking their advice as an adult when it comes to things like death, I don't think it's a good idea. Now we know something is going to happen to Lilia though, so now I am curious.

So, how about you? What are you reading and is there anything you would change about your blog if you could start again?