Saturday, 28 February 2015

Review: 'Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia' by Samuel Johnson

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (Oxford World's Classics)I haven't reviewed a university read in quite a while, even if those are the books that tend to make me think the most. The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia is a compulsory read for an 18th century lit-module and I am really glad to have read it.
Rasselas and his companions escape the pleasures of the "happy valley" in order to make their "choice of life." By witnessing the misfortunes and miseries of others they come to understand the nature of happiness, and value it more highly. Their travels and enquiries raise important practical and philosophical questions concerning many aspects of the human condition, including the business of a poet, the stability of reason, the immortality of the soul, and how to find contentment. Johnson's adaptation of the popular oriental tale displays his usual wit and perceptiveness; skeptical and probing, his tale nevertheless suggests that wisdom and self-knowledge need not be entirely beyond reach.
Rasselas can hardly qualify as a novel. There is no real sense of plot development or direction, the characters all feel like they're mouth-pieces for Johnson without any real differences between them and yet there is something fascinating about it. Johnson's apologue works on the basis that its main characters do not change their opinion. They doggedly chase after the answer to the question 'what choice of life' makes one happy?'. If they gave up on that search, Rasselas would end. As Rasselas, Nekayah, Imlac and Pekuah hop through the Middle-East and Egypt, the reader can't help but be sucked into their hope to find 'the choice of life'. What if suddenly they find the answer on the last page? It is a credit to Johnson's writing that you get so sucked into this tale and these characters, despite the fact that you know the answer to their question already.

Johnson was "inspired" to write Rasselas by his dislike for complacency. He felt, and I am tempted to agree with him, that people who grew too complacent with their lives became stagnant. Written and ublished during the late eighteenth-century, Johnson doubtlessly thought about the debates surrounding free will and the influence of God in daily life. Rasselas and his crew are forced to deal with many of these issues as well, especially the former. Originally, they lived in the Happy Valley in which each of their wishes is granted immediately and where each desire is fulfilled on the spot. Could you get closer to Paradise? As Johnson argues throughout Rasselas, never having to strife towards anything and not knowing any hardships leads to a static life in which nothing ever changes, for the good or the bad. I thought Johnson's exploration of life on the different levels was really interesting. Rasselas also had one of the best portrayals of mental illness which I've read in an eighteenth-century book. Any mockery of it is immediately corrected and Johnson deals with it with such care you can't help but be fond of him for it.

What I really enjoyed was the active role of women within the narrative. On the one hand, Nekayah and Pekuah are restricted to investigating marriage and being kidnapped, but Rasselas takes his sister's opinions seriously and discusses them in the same way as he would with anyone else. She also seems quicker to catch onto the fact that happiness can't be achieved completely and utterly with just one choice. Pekuah, her maid, goes on quite a journey herself and although, on the one hand, it seems a bit stereotypical, it also allows for her to become more aware of herself as a person.

I give this novel...

4 Universes.

Johnson's Rasselas is extremely interesting as a way to get yourself thinking about happiness and your own life. Are you expecting to find 'the choice of life' and holding out being happy because of it? Although his writing may at times feel a bit contrived, it is definitely interesting.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Friday Memes and the 'Idols of Perversity' by Bram Dijkstra

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowWhy is it almost March? I mean, how did this happen? 2015 Only just started and now we're in the 3rd month, which would mean we're about to finish the first quarter of this year... Anyway, let's move on with the memes! Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question was suggested by Alison herself:

Your house is burning down and you have time to select three books you own to take with you. What three books?

Noooo! This is a dreadful question, because how do you actually choose? I don't have children but I'd imagine it would be like choosing between them! I could chicken out and say I have a Kindle and therefore would just bring that one. However, I have decided to come to a decision. I would bring The Master And Margarita by Bulgakov, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Beowulf: A New Translation by an anonymous poet and Seamus Heaney. That way I'd have a bit of a range of different styles and genres and I'd be fine until I got myself a new house with bookshelves to fill!

Book Beginnings is hosted by Gilion over at Rose City Reader and Friday 56 by Freda over at Freda's Voice. Last week I took out an absolutely brilliant book from the library, which has made me slightly despair at the representations of women in art during the last three centuries. So far I have only worked my through the eighteenth century but there have already been so many realizations on my end that I will definitely keep going. This book is Bram Dijkstra's Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siecle Culture. Long title, but absolutely fascinating.
Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture
At the turn of the century, an unprecedented attack on women erupted in virtually every aspect of culture: literary, artistic, scientific, and philosophic. Throughout Europe and America, artists and intellectuals banded together to portray women as static and unindividuated beings who functioned solely in a sexual and reproductive capacity, thus formulating many of the anti-feminine platitudes that today still constrain women's potential. 
Bram Dijkstra's Idols of Perversity explores the nature and development of turn-of-the-century misogyny in the works of hundreds of writers, artists, and scientists, including Zola, Strindberg, Wedekind, Henry James, Rossetti, Renoir, Moreau, Klimt, Darwin, and Spencer. Dijkstra demonstrates that the most prejudicial aspects of Evolutionary Theory helped to justify this wave of anti-feminine sentiment. The theory claimed that the female of the species could not participate in the great evolutionary process that would guide the intellectual male to his ultimate, predestined role as a disembodied spiritual essence. Darwinists argued that women hindered this process by their willingness to lure men back to a sham paradise of erotic materialism. To protect the male's continued evolution, artists and intellectuals produced a flood of pseudo-scientific tracts, novels, and paintings which warned the world's males of the evils lying beneath the surface elegance of woman's tempting skin.
Reproducing hundreds of pictures from the period and including in-depth discussions of such key works as Dracula and Venus in Furs, this fascinating book not only exposes the crucial links between misogyny then and now, but also connects it to the racism and anti-semitism that led to catastrophic genocidal delusions in the first half of the twentieth century. Crossing the conventional boundaries of art history, sociology, the history of scientific theory, and literary analysis, Dijkstra unveils a startling view of a grim and largely one-sided war on women still being fought today.
I know, it sounds a bit heavy, but it is worth it!

'Her eyes glazed with the terror of understanding. The pallor of sudden knowledge has settled on her face. A paralyzing consciousness of her entrapment has turned her body into a wedge of fear. Wracked by a dark foreboding, she pits the force of newborn moral responsibility against the soul-destructive lure of the senses. ... William Holman Hunt undoubtedly meant to shock his female viewers into virtuous conformity by means of this painted melodrama of sin and sudden recognition titled 'The Awakening Conscience'.' p.1
I decided to skip part of Dijkstra's description of the painting in order to show you how he uses his detailed analysis to support his arguments. The F56 is one which, when I read it,

F56: (Dijkstra here quotes an anonymous reviewer of Waterhouse's painting 'St. Eulalia'.)
'The artist's conception is full of power and originality. Its whole force is centered in the pathetic dignity of the outstretched figure, so beautiful in its helplessness and pure serenity, so affecting in its forlorn and wintry shroud, so noble in the grace and strength of its presentment. The tone of the dark, almost livid flesh is finely realized, and the drawing of the foreshortened figure displays masterly skill; the disposition of the body and the curved of the lower limbs are circumstances of real subtlety of design in this beautiful composition.' p.56
The 19th century culture cultivated the idea of weak, diseased and dead women as beautiful, because it showed their submission to men and the patriarchy at its fullest. Anorexia also blossomed around this time, to allow women to look as weak and ill as possible. When I look at the painting I see a young woman exposed and violated, rather than something to aspire to.

Sorry to end the post on such a down-note, but I think Idols of Perversity is a really important book! What are you reading atm? And which books would you safe from a house-fire?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Spotlight: Daniel Arenson's 'Moth' Bundle is on Sale!

I reviewed Daniel Arenson's first Moth book and can't wait to start reading the next two books in the series as well!
"They say the world used to turn. They say that night would follow day in an endless dance. They say that dawn rose, dusk fell, and we worshiped both sun and stars. That was a long time ago . . ."
The Moth Saga, a bestselling fantasy series, tells the story of Moth, a world torn in two--its one half always in sunlight, the other cloaked in endless night. This bundle includes the first three novels in the series: Moth, Empires of Moth, and Secrets of Moth.
Many eras ago, the world of Moth fell still, leaving one side in perpetual daylight, the other in darkness. Torin and Bailey have spent their lives in the light, but now they're about to venture into the dark . . . and discover a world of danger, secrets, and wonder.
I have some great news today. The bundle is currently on sale over at Amazon for only $1.52! Here's what I had to say about Arenson's writing!
Arenson's writing is incredibly readable and I mean that in the best possible way. His writing flows, whether it's exposition, description or dialogue. Talking about description, Arenson has some of the best. Whether he's describing a world of darkness with a culture that has traces of Japan, or whether he's describing a very English life on the sun side, the descriptions are vivid enough to come to life right in front of you. This brings me to the end of the novel which is a lot darker than the beginning. Whether I would recommend this book to children depends on how resistant they are against violence. However, none of it is gratuitous, which makes all the difference. His characters are never vile for the sake of it, but because they are part of the story. As such, it is still shocking but not in an abhorrent way.

So hop over there and also check out Arenson's website, and particularly the page for Moth, where you can find some maps and music which Arenson composed for the book!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review: 'Thoughtful' by S.C. Stephens

Displaying BLOG TOUR POSTER WEEK 2.jpgI am one of today's blogs in the blog tour for S.C. Stephens' new novel, Thoughtful. I'm honoured to be part of the tour today, especially since today is Thoughtful's release date!

Pub. Date: 24/02/2015
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)/ Sphere
Every story has two sides, and in this new book, the epic love story between Kiera and Kellan is shown through his eyes. 
All Kellan Kyle needs is his guitar, and some clean sheets of paper. Growing up in a house that was far from a home, he learned a hard lesson:You're worthless. Now his life is comfortably filled with passionate music, loyal band mates, and fast women...until he meets her. 
Kiera makes him ache for more. Makes him feel for the first time that he'sworth more. But there's one problem - she's his best friend's girl. 
Just when Kellan thought his emotional defenses were rock solid, Kiera's indecisive heart wreaks havoc on his soul, changing him forever. Losing Kiera is not an option.
As such I really like the idea of switching the perspectives of novels because, as the blurb says, there are two sides to each story. Especially in romance I think this could be a really good idea because love stories are always between two people and it could be a great way to show some of the preconceptions that women and men have about each other. I hadn't read Stephens' first book, Thoughtless (Thoughtless 1), and I thought that this would help me in seeing the story in a new light. Although most of the romance books that I read are from the woman's perspective I really enjoy seeing the other side. Sadly, I didn't really enjoy Kellan's point of view that much.

Before I discuss what I saw as flaws I'd like to pick up on some things which I enjoyed. I liked Stephens' pace, she didn't linger too long on "big moments" which, when it does happen, tends to lead to the reader getting tired of the endless interior monologue. Stephens was very aware of that and kept the story going, moving it on and allowing time to pass. Although, of course, there was instant attraction at first sight I did get the feeling that the two characters actually got to know each other before completely falling for each other. There were also some funny scenes which showed that Stephens wasn't taking herself too seriously and this also helped the characters feel more real. I also thought Stephens handled Kellan's abusive past with care, not using it as an excuse for Kellan to behave terribly but allowing it to play a big role in his life.

Thoughtful (Thoughtless, #1.5)However, unfortunately, I didn't enjoy Thoughtful very much. As I said above, I haven't read the original novel, which was from the girl's perspective, so I don't know how she came across there, but in Thoughtful she at times bordered on annoying and flat. She is perfect, has kaleidoscopic eyes and makes Kellan feel things in his cold heart, which isn't half as cold as he'd like to pretend. I found Kiera impossible to relate to. This is besides the fact that all of these characters seem to live with relative ease, playing in a band, waitressing and having fun while never worrying about who's going to pay the electricity bill.

And Kellan himself is presented as a bad boy when, from the first few pages, it is clear that he is not one. He actually comes across like a genuinely good person until, in a drunken rant, he crossed a line for me. I don't know whether this counts as a spoiler but, in an internal rant, he says some things about Kiera which I thought were simply not on. I understand the downward spiral and feeling like the whole world is against you, but I would have wished for Stephens to refrain from using certain words in regards to her main female character, especially when they are presented in a way that make the use of them seem justified. His own philandering ways, which I had no problem with, are never judged and almost make him, at times, seem like he's suffering rather than enjoying himself. In a society that is so intensely critical about women's sexuality I felt that Kellan's raging against Kiera were unacceptable, especially since there is no remorse for it and no judgement on it. It was a shame to be let down by the author in this way and unfortunately I think it's something that happens in a lot of NA books.

Overall, I give this book...

2 Universes.

Although it is not a terrible book I simply didn't really enjoy it. It felt a bit too long, despite the pacing being good. What put me off was the attitude towards women. Whether this is something that was added by Stephens since it's 'from a man's perspective' or whether I am too quick to judge, I don't know. But it wasn't one for me.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Review: 'The Novel Cure' by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

I requested The Novel Cure from Netgalley on a whim because it looked like fun. Upon finishing I have decided I need it as a hardcover so I can pull it out whenever I am in need of a new book!

Publisher: Penguin Press

Pub. Date: 05/09/2013
A novel is a story transmitted from the novelist to the reader. It offers distraction, entertainment, and an opportunity to unwind or focus. But it can also be something more powerful—a way to learn about how to live. Read at the right moment in your life, a novel can—quite literally—change it. The Novel Cure is a reminder of that power. To create this apothecary, the authors have trawled two thousand years of literature for novels that effectively promote happiness, health, and sanity, written by brilliant minds who knew what it meant to be human and wrote their life lessons into their fiction. Structured like a reference book, readers simply look up their ailment, be it agoraphobia, boredom, or a midlife crisis, and are given a novel to read as the antidote. Bibliotherapy does not discriminate between pains of the body and pains of the head (or heart). Aware that you’ve been cowardly? Pick up To Kill a Mockingbird for an injection of courage. Experiencing a sudden, acute fear of death? Read One Hundred Years of Solitude for some perspective on the larger cycle of life. Nervous about throwing a dinner party? Ali Smith’s There but for The will convince you that yours could never go that wrong. Whatever your condition, the prescription is simple: a novel (or two), to be read at regular intervals and in nice long chunks until you finish. Some treatments will lead to a complete cure. Others will offer solace, showing that you’re not the first to experience these emotions. The Novel Cure is also peppered with useful lists and sidebars recommending the best novels to read when you’re stuck in traffic or can’t fall asleep, the most important novels to read during every decade of life, and many more.
The Novel Cure is incredibly fun. Although, as a dedicated bibliophile, I always knew that books were the answer to everything, it was great to see it being confirmed by others. Berthoud and Elderkin's writing style is energetic and intimate. Whether they're recommending Lolita while agreeing that Humbert Humbert is an absolute creep or advising American Psycho's gruesomeness as a cure for shopping addiction, it feels genuine. There is simply something genius about the idea behind The Novel Cure. We all feel the need to escape into a book every now and then but how would we previously have known which book will get us running from laziness or giving up on an unrequited love? 

One of my favourite things about The Novel Cure, despite not currently ailing of anything, were all the amazing book recommendations that I got from it. Berthoud and Elderkin went beyond what is considered 'canon' by many and there are a lot of diverse authors in this book. I was initially scared Dickens would be the answer to everything and I was very happy to find this not to be the case. Whether it's female authors or authors from Africa, Asia and South-America, you're bound to find what you're looking for in here.

One thing I did wonder about was the criteria according to which they chose their ailments. Some of them were unexpected while others were very obvious and then some were missing which I would have liked included. But I guess that is the thing with books like these, they can't be infinitely long and wanting more of it usually means good things for what there is. Berthoud and Elderkin's entries are fun and although at times I feel they may give too much away about the books they prescribe, they always make a good case for why they chose certain books. 

I give this book...

4 Universes!

The Novel Cure is fun and entertaining. Whether you read it all at once, like me, or use it to figure out how to get over your break-up or deal with the financial downturn. This is the kind of book which is perfect for either your coffee table or on your bedside table, so you can pull it out whenever anyone is even showing the slightest sign of being in need of new read!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Weekly Overview

This has been a pretty successful week, I think! Although I am slightly freaking out about my dissertation (why are they so much stress and yet so enjoyable?!), university is going well and I'm making plans for my Masters next year. I reviewed two amazing books this week which I definitely recommend to all of you.

I've got a review for a really fun book coming up next week as well, so drop by for that! And on the 24th I'll be in the blog tour for S.C. Stephens' Thoughtful!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday Memes and Johnson's 'Rasselas'

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowJust another Friday and I'm sharing a read with you that I'm really looking forward to it! But before that, let's get on with some of the memes. Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question was suggested by The Realm of Books:

Do you like fantasy or realistic books?

Although this is a really interesting question, there is something in it which I fundamentally disagree with. This is the idea that fantasy literature isn't realistic. Realism is something which authors achieve not through the setting but through their character descriptions, I believe. You can set a novel in downtown New York in early 2015 and still write an utterly unrealistic novel because none of your characters feel real. But no one is going to say that Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings or Arya in Game of Thrones aren't characters experiencing real emotions and that the Deadly Marshes aren't inspired by the real battlefields of the First World War. There is nothing unrealistic about fantasy literature! But if we're going purely by genre in the sense of Fantasy or Realism then I'm obviously on the Fantasy front.

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This week's question was suggested by Elizabeth over at Silver's Reviews:

Is there anything that makes you not return to a blog or not want to look at it even for the first time?

I try to give every blog a chance because, as I said last week, every blog is someone's way of expressing themselves. However, there are simply certain things which I don't enjoy as much. Partially I may not like a certain type of books in which case I won't constantly come back checking for reviews. On another level, I will stop reading and not return if I can't read the font, or if there is a lot of clutter which makes it hard for me to find what I want to read! But I will give everything a try!

This week I'm using one of my University reads for the next week: The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abssinia by Samuel Johnson. I quite like Johnson at times, so I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in this one. Book Beginning is hosted by Gillion over at Rose City Reader and Friday 56 by Freda over at Freda's Voice.

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (Oxford World's Classics)Rasselas and his companions escape the pleasures of the "happy valley" in order to make their "choice of life." By witnessing the misfortunes and miseries of others they come to understand the nature of happiness, and value it more highly. Their travels and enquiries raise important practical and philosophical questions concerning many aspects of the human condition, including the business of a poet, the stability of reason, the immortality of the soul, and how to find contentment. Johnson's adaptation of the popular oriental tale displays his usual wit and perceptiveness; skeptical and probing, his tale nevertheless suggests that wisdom and self-knowledge need not be entirely beyond reach.

'Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy, and pursue with eagerness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow; attend to the history of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia.' p.1
I love this beginning. Johnson is such a dramatist and when he speaks to the reader I can't help but listen to him and be impressed by what he says!

'The daughters of many houses were airy and cheerful, but Nekayah had been too long accustomed to the conversation of Imlac and her brother to be much pleased with childish levity and prattle which had no meaning. She found their thoughts narrow, their wishes low, and their merriment often artificial.' p.56
I know how Nekayah feels because once you go away and learn new things, returning to your previous life and friends can be difficult. Maybe Nekayah is being a little bit harsh though!

So, how do you feel about Rasselas? Equally in love with Johnson's writing style as me?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

HP Moment of the Week - Trelawney's Prophecies

I haven't been a part of this meme in ages and I honestly don't know why. I mean, who doesn't love Harry Potter? (Weird people, is the answer to that.) And who wouldn't love to post about it regularly? So, I'm back on the HP train, so to speak. Harry Potter Moment of the Week is hosted by the lovely Leah over at Uncorked Thoughts. This week's question is:

Favourite Trelawney prophecy?

I remember how ridiculous I thought she was until we found out she had made THE Prophecy and when I read how Umbridge treated her, which was the final straw for me in regards to that woman. Also, Emma Thompson is an all-time favourite so that definitely helped the character. Ok, let's get back to the question.
How can I not go for the main one? I mean, as far as prophecies go that one is pretty epic and impressive.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies [...] "
Chills, I tell you! What I loved about Trelawney was that in her Rowling showed that even the person whom you think is least connected to his/her surroundings can be absolutely crucial. Go J.K. Rowling!

Although I have a feeling that this might be a very popular choice this week I'm still going to ask. Which prophecy did you go with?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Review: 'The Republic of Užupis' by Haïlji, Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton

The Republic of UžupisI try to read as much foreign literature as possible and yet there are many countries from which I haven't read anything. The Republic of Užupis is my first foray into Korean literature and I definitely will be continuing my exploration after such a promising start.

Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Pub. Date: 14/10/014
žUžupis ("on the other side of the river") is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Užupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.
The Republic of Užupis is a fascinating novel. Although Goodreads calls it 'Murakami-esque', it reminded me a lot of Kafka and his convoluted narratives in which men go through the strangest experiences, surrounded by people who are at once understanding and rejecting. From the get go Haïlji twists your expectations by setting this novel in Lithuania rather than in Korea. As a Western reader this meant that the setting was both familiar and yet also strangely disconcerting. Haïlji demands for you to pay attention on each page, keep track of what happens and to whom because the story will otherwise make no sense. I enjoy these kinds of reads, where reading is, in some ways, a challenge because what you get out of the book is hard won and therefore feels more precious. Haïlji's narrative is one which constantly twists about and runs in circles. On the one hand it feels as if everything that happens is slightly familiar and yet every new twist is surprising and fascinating. None of the characters seems aware of what is happening and this brings realism to a narrative which is otherwise utterly absurd.

The author stirred controversy in Korea with his Racetrack-novels through the way in which he deals with the contradictions in life and this is something he also does in The Republic of Užupis. He offsets characters and situations against each other which seem utterly ridiculous and yet the reader can't help but feel that if the novel were narrated by one of the other characters their actions would make sense. A big theme throughout the whole novel is the idea of home and missing something that is impossible to find. When do you give up and stop hunting after something everyone tells you doesn't exist? As Han continues on his mad search for Užupis and the reader becomes more desperate to find out what the truth is, Haïlji makes it clear that maybe the truth doesn't matter. Is what Han believes to be true not more important than the actual truth? The Republic of Užupis is bound to leave you with a whole range of interesting questions and conversation starters. It might also make you want to visit Lithuania. I know I'm desperate for a hike through its snowy hills now.

This translation is from the Library of Korean Literature series — a joint venture between the Dalkey Archive Press and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton do an amazing job at translating Haïlji's intricate fiction. There is no difficulty in their writing and the understanding of the story for a non-Korean. Haïlji's story feels nation- and time-less, as if it could happen everywhere at any point in history, present or future. The novel's strength, then, lies in exactly this. Han's search for his long lost country becomes personal to the reader and Han and Haïlji show that language and borders form no barriers for someone desperate to return home.

I give this novel...

5 Universes!

Haïlji's The Republic of Užupis is a singular book. By this I mean that I have read nothing like it before. Whereas Kafka's fiction is absurd to the extent that his characters can hardly be identified with, Haïlji infuses his characters with so much realism that the reader can't help but curse our strange world for dooming them so. I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a challenging and fun read. The Republic of Užupis is short, but it will stay with you for a long time.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tuesday Intros and Teaser Tuesday - 'Where the Bird Sings Best' by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Alfred MacAdam

Where the Bird Sings BestThis Tuesday I'm using a book which as been calling my name for a long time now and somehow haven't gotten round to. So I'm trying to tease myself as much as you right now. Hope that makes up for the merciless teasing!
In this wildly imaginative, powerfully moving, “psychomagical” autobiography, legendary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky tells the story of how his Russian Jewish grandfather (also named Alejandro), his fiery wife, Teresa, and their four children moved to Chile under fake passports and assumed Christian identities, with only a half-kopek to their name, and no idea how they’d forge their new lives. 
The book is a visionary family saga filled with ancestors both mythical and real—including relatives always covered in bees, women who commune with wolves, snake charmers, and militant anarchists. Where the Bird Sings Best owes its title to Jean Cocteau’s reflection: “A bird sings best on its family tree.” Drawing on history, ancestral legends, and intimate family stories, in this memoir Jodorowsky brings to bear the same unique storytelling genius he has brought to his iconic films El TopoThe Holy Mountain, and The Dance of Reality in this deeply personal search for his roots.
Tuesday Intros and Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea and MizB over at Should Be Reading. These quotes are from an advanced reading copy and may therefore differ from the final, published novel. 

BB (from the Prologue):
'All characters, places, and events are real - though from time to time the chronological order is altered. But this reality is transformed and magnified until it achieves the status of myth. Our genealogical tree is the trap that limits our thoughts, emotions, desires, and material life, but it is also the treasure that captures the greater part of our values. Aside from being a novel, this book may, if it is successful, serve as an example that all readers can follow and, if they exercise forgiveness, transform family memory into heroic legend.' p.1
I'm all for turning family memory into heroic legend because everything that happened in the past fascinates me. I like this beginning because Jodorowsky draws you in by maintaining the reality of what he is describing while also allowing for some narrational magic to seep in.
'"I've lost her. And now that she's not here, I finally know how much I loved her. I'll feel her absence or the rest of my life. I love the empty space she's left, where she is missing is now my place. The light is gone."'  p.113
I was considering not using this teaser because it technically could be a spoiler but then, we have no clue who is talking here about whom, so I feel like there is plenty of suspense left. And isn't this prose just absolutely stunning?

Does Where the Bird Sings Best sound like your kind of book? Or are family sagas not really your thing?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Review: 'Love and Treasure' by Ayelet Waldman

I requested this novel off Netgalley because I thought the cover looked absolutely stunning and the synopsis promised a lot of good things to come. I am so glad I did request it because Waldman's novel had me absolutely spell-bound.

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday (USA) / Two Roads (UK)
Pub. Date: 04/09/2014
A spellbinding new novel of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes, Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure weaves a tale around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.
In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, victorious American soldiers capture a train filled with unspeakable riches: piles of fine gold watches; mountains of fur coats; crates filled with wedding rings, silver picture frames, family heirlooms, and Shabbat candlesticks passed down through generations. Jack Wiseman, a tough, smart New York Jew, is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure—a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a fierce, beautiful Hungarian who has lost everything in the ravages of the Holocaust. Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack gives a necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie Stein, and charges her with searching for an unknown woman—a woman whose portrait and fate come to haunt Natalie, a woman whose secret may help Natalie to understand the guilt her grandfather will take to his grave and to find a way out of the mess she has made of her own life.
Waldman's narrative in Love and Treasure is one that is absolutely fascinating. She weaves together the stories of a number of different characters who are all somehow related, despite living in different centuries. The actions of one character impact the others and yet it takes you till the end of the novel to figure out how all the different plot strands work together. Split into three different narratives, the reader is faced with love, anger, regret and everything in between.  We find characters of different ages, genders, races and positions and because of this each character is fascinating. Waldman gives each of them their own story and all of them are at times almost impossible to like, although you can't help but love them either. There are moments which will break your heart and Waldman never sacrifices the reality of her chosen time-period for the sake of "plot". She describes the harshness and cruelty of a continent ripped apart, while never depicting humanity as utterly lost and depraved.

What Waldman manages to do in Love and Treasure is tell the story of the Second World War and the Holocaust in a way that is new and, in lack of a better word, refreshing. History is a story that is often retold and sometimes it can seem as if everything has already been told. The skill, then, for an author, lies in finding a new angle of telling a well-known story. Waldman picks up the, for some reason, relatively obscure story of the Hungarian Gold Train and from there spins her own tale. She doesn't shirk away from showing everyone from both their good and their bad sides, may it be the American soldiers, the Zionists or the late 19th century elite. As a consequence her characters are real, are human, and act surprisingly at times. Something I majorly enjoyed was Waldman's development of female characters. They are active and crucial to the plot of each of the narratives.

Waldman's writing style is both straight-forward and beautifully descriptive. Whether she is describing Salzburg as it once was or talking about the horrors of the concentration camps, there is something very honest to her writing. It is engaging and it is fascinating. The different characters' stories will stick with you when you are forced to put the book down to resume normal life and will mercilessly drag you back. Love and Treasure doesn't shirk back from showing humanity from its bad sides, yet Waldman always reminds the reader of the beauty in the world as well. Finally, the novel addresses a consequence of the Holocaust which is overlooked by many people: the utter loss of culture that Europe suffered through the destruction of the Jewish people. A whole generation of musicians, artists and craftsmen disappeared and after reading Love and Treasure this will be something you will severely lament.

I give this novel...

5 Universes!

Love and Treasure is stunning and is a novel that will stick with you for a long time. Waldman moves between narratives and characters with ease, explaining one by developing the other. Each of the time periods discussed are fascinating and Waldman has clearly done her research. I recommend this to everyone who is interested in historical fiction and in the Second World War.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Dresden: 70 Years On

Today Germany commemorates the controversial Allied bombing of Dresden, one of the better known bombings in Germany towards the end of the Second World War. On the night of the 13th of February, 1945, 800 British planes dropped 4,500 tonnes of explosives onto the city of Dresden, killing 25,000 of its inhabitants. The following day another bombing followed by the US Air Force. Before the bombing, Dresden was known as the 'Jewel Box' for its baroque and rococo city centre. Most of the city was destroyed during the British and American attacks.

The restored Church of Our Lady has become a symbol of Dresden's resurrection

The BBC showed a heart-breaking interview this morning with Victor Gregg, a British WWII-veteran who fought throughout the Middle-East and Southern Europe before being captured and becoming a prisoner of war. He was being held in Dresden on the night of the bombing and his recounting of his experiences this morning made it seem as if it was yesterday rather than 70. It was clearly an experience which shattered something in him and made him question not only his country's actions in the war but also something that made him question himself.

Victor Gregg isn't the only veteran to have had trouble coping with his experiences. A literary equivalent is Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five.
Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
Rather than try to describe something so outside of normal human experience, I thought it would be best to let Vonnegut share his experiences with you in the way only he can.

'Billy thought hard about the effect the quartet had had on him, and then found an association with an experience he had had long ago. He did not travel in time to the experience. He remembered it shimmeringly-as follows:  
Slaughterhouse-FiveHe was down in the meat locker on the night that Dresden was destroyed. There were sounds like giant footsteps above. Those were sticks of high-explosive bombs. The giants walked and walked. The meat locker was a very safe shelter. All that happened down there was an occasional shower of calcimine. The Americans and four of their guards and a few dressed carcasses were down there, and nobody else. The rest of the guards had, before the raid began, gone to the comforts of their own homes in Dresden. They were all being killed with their families.  
So it goes.  
The girls that Billy had seen naked were all being killed, too, in a much shallower shelter in another part of the stockyards.  
 So it goes.  
A guard would go to the head of the stairs every so often to see what it was like outside, then he would come down and whisper to the other guards. There was a firestorm out there. Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn.  
It wasn't safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead. 
So it goes.' p.78
The beautiful thing to have come out of this terrible experience is the relationship which has been established between cities who have experiences such dreadful violence, especially Coventry, Dresden and Rotterdam. It shows Europe's capability to never let this happen again,

However, Dresden has also found itself at the centre of a new rise of nationalism in Germany, being the birthplace of Pegida, a new right-wing party with extreme views. As the years pass, the memory remains and the city is torn over its history and how to deal with it. A remembrance such as today is crucial, for the fact that it should serve as a reminder of the destruction that is caused by extremism. Tonight Dresdeners will form a chain of light around their rebuilt Frauenkirche and for the moment it seems that the light still outshines the dark.

If you want to read more, here are some of the articles about the bombing and its legacy:

Friday Memes - 'Thoughtful' by S.C. Stephens

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowI've got two pieces of good news: one, I did pretty well last term at university. I wish I had put in a little bit more work while gallivanting around Israel because then I could easily have boosted them up to another level, but that's past so now I'm just going to work extra hard this term! Second, at some point today my Kindle Voyage will get delivered!! My old one is breaking down slowly but surely so I invested some bday money and soon I will be spamming you with pictures of my new baby!

Ok, I should really get on with the memes now! Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Cand Read and Parajunkee. This week's question was suggested by Unconventional Book Views:

Do you use the # FF on Twitter on Fridays? If you do, are you afraid you'll forget someone and they'll be sad?

I don't use the hashtag exactly for that reason! There are so many people I'd want to include and tweet that I'd just end up Tweeting all day and probably still forget someone! And although I don't know whether anyone would be sad over that, I definitely would be. It's something I love seeing though and I always get all warm and tingly on the inside when I get included.

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This week's question was suggested by Elizabeth over at Silver's Reviews:

Is there anything that makes you keep returning to certain blogs?

I really enjoy reading blogs, which is the main reason I hop around. What keeps me coming back is partially really enjoying someone's writing style or because I like the way in which they answer memes. If it is not a meme day I tend to drop by blogs where I know I'll find books I like as well. I won't always leave a comment but I do drop by a couple of blogs a day!

Thoughtful (Thoughtless, #1.5)Book Beginnings and Friday 56 are hosted by Gilion over at Rose City Reader and Freda over at Freda's Voice, respectively. This week I am using a new book I got from Little, Brown last week which is up for review soon (many thanks to them and Sphere!): Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens.
Every story has two sides, and in this new book, the epic love story between Kiera and Kellan is shown through his eyes. 
All Kellan Kyle needs is his guitar, and some clean sheets of paper. Growing up in a house that was far from a home, he learned a hard lesson:You're worthless. Now his life is comfortably filled with passionate music, loyal band mates, and fast women...until he meets her. 
Kiera makes him ache for more. Makes him feel for the first time that he'sworth more. But there's one problem - she's his best friend's girl. 
Just when Kellan thought his emotional defenses were rock solid, Kiera's indecisive heart wreaks havoc on his soul, changing him forever. Losing Kiera is not an option.

I am appreciating the abs on the cover. I am wondering whether I should have read the first one but I guess I'll find out!

'I'd been playing the guitar since I was six. While I'd been with the D-Bags for a few years now, I'd been in one band or another since high school. My childhood hadn't been the easiest, and music had been my saving grace.' p.1
I like the beginning because music is important to me as well. However, a band called the D-Bags is a bit much, no? Bad boys and the things they get up too ;)

'It gave me a huge smile to see Denny so happy. He looked satisfied, like everything in his life was just the way he wanted it.' p.56
Although I'm questioning whether the first sentence makes sense, I do think this teaser sounds adorable. People being happy is always a good thing!

Do you use the #FF on Twitter? And is there something that keeps drawing you back to blogs?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review: 'Pride & Prejudice' from MangaClassics

21433253My last manga review didn't go down too well, not because of the format but because it was an adaptation of Les Miserables, which is simply not a book for me. I am happy to announce that I enjoyed this Manga Classics product a lot more. I received a copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review.
Beloved by millions the world over, Pride & Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen’s original, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King
I am a massive Jane Austen fan and Pride & Prejudice is, probably, my favourite Jane Austen novel. It is a classic and is a novel that I know is read by thousands, if not millions, of people. As such, I am excited every time I see it being adapted in different ways. Mangas are read by a lot of different people and before I get into the details of the review, I want to go on record saying that seeing different cultures come together, even if it is as obvious as Jane Austen being adapted into a Japanese comic-style, it warms my heart. Literature is one of the key ways in which a culture expresses itself, no matter in which form, may it be oral, visual or literary. If people can meet on this level they may actually get to know one another.

Now, let's put the emotions to the side and get to business. Something I really enjoyed was the way that Stacy E. King adapted Jane Austen's use of language. One of the best things about Pride & Prejudice is the way in which characters are formed by the way in which they speak. I was really worried that the reader would somehow miss out on the language in this Manga Classics edition, since I know it is largely a visual medium. However, King managed to both adapt Austen's words into something new and fresh while maintaining some of the novel's key phrases. There were moments while reading that I just perked up, recognizing a turn of phrase etc., and it just made the whole reading experience really fun for someone who has read Pride & Prejudice repeatedly.

The artist, or manga-ka, for this Manga Classics was Po Tse, who did a great job. Somehow the manga style really fitted Austen's story. Although at times I wished for Austen's acerbic wit, I thought the drawings were stunning. The pure drama which is added through the illustrations rather than just the words is something which I really enjoyed. At times I had to stop myself from flying over the page too quickly and actually take the time to look at each panel and consider it. Although perhaps the romance at time overwhelmed Austen's words, Po Tse and Stacy King worked together very well and here present a great adaptation of a classic.

I give this manga...

4 Universes!

I enjoyed this manga a lot! I was really looking forward to seeing how different story lines would be interpreted by the writer and the artist. The ability to adapt a story as classic as Pride & Prejudice in a way that is fresh and new is quite impressive. I would recommend this to fans of Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice, but also to those well-seasoned manga readers amongst you who want to try something new.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tuesday Intros and Teaser Tuesdays - 'Notes from Underground' by Dostoyevsky

Notes from the UndergroundIt's Tuesday and that means we'll be teasing each other with our current reads! I will also be picking up my grades so please keep your fingers crossed for me! Tuesday Intros is hosted by Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea and Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading. This week I'm using Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is one of the books on my 100 Classics-list for the Classics Club and I took it out of the library yesterday.
In 1864, just prior to the years in which he wrote his greatest novels —Crime and PunishmentThe IdiotThe Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov — Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) penned the darkly fascinating Notes from the Underground. Its nameless hero is a profoundly alienated individual in whose brooding self-analysis there is a search for the true and the good in a world of relative values and few absolutes. Moreover, the novel introduces themes — moral, religious, political and social — that dominated Dostoyevsky's later works. Notes from the Underground, then, aside from its own compelling qualities, offers readers an ideal introduction to the creative imagination, profundity and uncanny psychological penetration of one of the most influential novelists of the nineteenth century. Constance Garnett's authoritative translation is reprinted here, with a new introduction.
'I am a sick man... I am an angry man. I am an unatractive man. I think there is something wrong with my liver. But I don't understand the least thing about my illness, and I don't know for certain what part of me is affected. I am not having any treatment for it, and never have had, although I have a great respect for medicine and for doctors. I am besides extremely superstitious, if only in having such respect for medicine. (I am well educated enough not to be superstitious, but superstitious I am.) No, I refuse treatment out of spite. That is something you will probably not understand. Well, I understand it.' p.1
I like the sound of this beginning. Dostoyevsky seems absolutely unapologetic about his writing and his main character already sounds really fascinating.
'Gentlemen, of course I'm joking, and I know I am not doing it very successfully, but you know you mustn't take everything I say for a joke. I may be joking with clenched teeth.' p.39
I definitely love this teaser. I like the interaction with the reader and I think most of us have joked through clenched teeth before!

So, what are you reading? Would you like to read Notes from Underground?

Monday, 9 February 2015

Review: 'Middlemarch' by George Eliot

MiddlemarchMiddlemarch is a book I read quite a long time ago and yet never wrote a review for. It is said to be George Eliot's best work and when I read it I was blown away by the detail and delicacy with which she wrote.
'People are almost always better than their neighbours think they are'
George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose pioneering medical methods, combined with an imprudent marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamond, threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories entwine, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.
Before getting into the book, a quick word on George Eliot herself, who was a fascinating woman. George Eliot was a pen name for Mary Anne Evans, who hoped that by assuming a male name her work would be taken more seriously. It's no surprise she did so, since Mrs. Radcliffe's novels were all the rage in her time. Next to being a novelist she was also a journalist and translator. She wrote in the same time as Jane Austen but had a completely different style, which shows how different an age can work on the minds of people. Another reason for her pen name was the desire to keep her private life as private as possible. Her 20-year relationship with the married philosopher George Henry Lewes was something incredibly scandalous, despite him having an open marriage with his wife. In 1880 Eliot continued to cause controversy by marrying a man 20 years her junior. When she died, however, she was buried next to George Henry Lewes. As you can see, she was a spectacular woman. Now, onto Middlemarch itself.

There is not one other book I can think of that excels in bringing the thoughts and feelings of a small English town to life the way that Eliot does in Middlemarch. Where Jane Austen chooses her protagonist and shows the reader the world through her, Eliot fluently moves between characters, professions and classes in order to bring her landscape to life. Her writing is at times deeply psychological which can be hard to get through, but at the end of the novel you walk away understanding humans in a whole new way. Not to say that the plethora of characters doesn't become confusing and that at times you will despair at the plot. But where's the fun if there's no challenge?

What I really enjoyed was the way Eliot made the reader reconsider characters. Initially, Dorothea seems to be too holy, too pious and too stubborn. The reader knows that her marriage to Causabon will be a disaster and yet you find yourself rooting for her. Personally, I loved reading about a female character desperate for knowledge and self-improvement. Looking up to those more knowledgeable than you and idolizing them comes naturally to Dorothea and seeing the shift in how she and Causabon consider each other is really interesting.

Throughout the novel there is a pattern, where people realize that how they thought someone was and how they actually are are two opposite thing. It is fascinating to read and since Eliot gives you access to everyone's mind the reader finds themselves constantly switching loyalties and affections. It is especially the female characters who are developed and worked out, without them being placed on pedestals. Eliot clearly had an eye for how women operate in her society, which requires a lot of self-awareness. Nothing feels overdone or ridiculous and once you finish Middlemarch you might even find yourself wishing there was more.

I give this novel...

5 Universes!

Middlemarch is a marvel. It is both intricate and sweeping, talking about everyone while discussing only one. Although it is a commitment, it is definitely worth taking the time for. Because of its complexity I would recommend only reading it when you're ready for it, but then not giving up on it!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Weekly Overview

On Such a Full SeaThis has been a very good week for me, I think. I have managed to get two reviews up, participate in some memes and keep up to date with my university work. Besides that I even went to work, so I was a busy bee and managed to do all of it sort of successfully. Next week I'm getting back my grades from the last term though and then we'll see how successful this combination of work-blogging-university is!

So, that was my week! I hope to get reviews up next week but my reading is a little bit slacking at the moment. How was your week? Do you have an overview post? post the link in the comments :)

Friday, 6 February 2015

Friday Memes and Dryden's 'Against the Fear of Death'

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Second week of university is over and I am coping surprisingly well, I think! I have read Paradise Lost while translating some Old Norse and actually managing to review a couple of books this week! Yesterday I reviewed Just One More Day by Jessica Blair, which I remember some of you liking the sound of! Hop over to check it out and if you live in the UK and would like me to send you my copy, let me know in the comments! Now, onto the memes!

Follow Friday is hosted by Allison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question was submitted by Words I Write Crazy:

Do you read more than one book at a time, and if so, how, like a certain amount of pages per book before moving on to the next one in the queue?

I do read more than one book at the time, partially because I have to read books for university beside reviewing. When it comes to having to read for university I always give that priority. So if I have some free time I will pick that book up first and when I feel I have advanced enough I might switch to a review book. On the other hand, I sometimes just need to read something else, even when I am really enjoying a book. I always read based on mood so if I want to read something romantic I switch to a different book, but if halfway through my mood changes I might pick up a biography. Thanks to blogging I have learned to control myself a little bit so I am actually sticking with books a lot more than I used to.

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This week's question was suggested by Elizabeth from Silver's Reviews:

Is there anything that turns you off when you are reading a blog post? For example: two posts in one post such as answers to two memes?

Well, I am incredibly guilty of the later one since this post has four memes in it! I love reading other people's thoughts and blogs are an amazing way for people to express themselves in their own way. Therefore, in all honesty, there is nothing about blog posts that can really turn me off! If you want to put each meme in a different post, then by all means. If like me you shove them all into one post and hope that people don't get confused between all of them, that's also good. The great thing about blogging is that everyone writes differently and therefore no post is ever the same and it never gets boring!

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 are hosted by Gillion over at Rose City Reader and Freda over at Freda's Voice. This week I am using a long poem I have to read for university. I really enjoyed reading it and thought I'd share so of it with you! Get ready for the long-ass title: The Latter Part of the Third Book of Lucretius; against the Fear of Death by John Dryden.

'What has this Bugbear Death to frighten Man,
If Souls can die, as well as Bodies can?
For, as before our Birth we felt no Pain,
When Punique arms infested Land and Main,
When Heaven and Earth were in confusion hurl'd,
For the debated Empire of the World,
Which aw'd with dreadful expectation lay,
Sure to be Slaves, uncertain who shou'd sway:
So, when our mortal frame shall be disjoyn'd.
The lifeless Lump uncoupled from the mind.
From sense of grief and pain we shall be free;
We shall not feel, because we shall not Be.'

I just love the way Dryden has set up his ideas because I agree with him over almost anything. I do think that after death life ends and that that is not a bad thing. He just puts it into words a lot better than me!

F56: (in this case I'm using the lines around l.56!)
'If, while he live, this Thought molest his head,
What Wolf or Vulture shall devour me dead,
He wasts his days in idle grief, nor can
Distinguish 'twixt the Body and the Man;
But thinks himself can still himself survive:
And what when dead he feels not, feels alive.'

Ok, translation. Dryden is here critiquing the man who worries about what will happen to his body after he dies, even when he will obviously not feel the 'wolf' or 'vulture' pick at his corpse. He distracts himself from enjoying daily life by worrying about something he will never really have to deal with. I like it!

So, do you read one book at a time or more? And is there anything that turns you off blogging? Have a great weekend everbody!