Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Book of the Month: May 2017



Title: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
Year: 1818
Rating: 5 out of 5 teacups

WHAT I LIKE AND DISLIKE ABOUT PERSUASION

This review may be a bit spoilery, but mind that the book was published 200 years ago! You've had time to catch up! :)

Above all, I liked the atmosphere, so Regency-esque, and full this time of naval characters. 

The best in my opinion were Admiral and Mrs Croft, a married couple of brave, amiable and very clever people, who soon make friends with main character Anne. Mrs Croft sets the example of a strong minded sailor's wife, who has accompanied her husband in many sea voyages. 

There are also generous Captain Harville and brooding, poetry-loving Captain Benwick. 

The heroine, Anne Elliot, is a well informed and very clever woman, she is a very talented piano player and loves reading. But her desire to make others happy usually ends up badly for herself, she was persuaded years ago to refuse Captain Wentworth's marriage proposal thinking she would make her godmother and her family happy. I didn't like this at first, but she develops her character through long years of suffering and becomes much braver. But I hated the fact that she was considered nearly an old maid at the age of 27! (I'm 27 now hehe)

Sir Walter, Anne's father, was a pretty fun character to read about, he was so conceited, but he was hilarious. I didn't like Anne's sisters, Elizabeth and Mary. Both were full of themselves too, but they weren't funny. And I couldn't stand Mrs Clay or Mr Elliot.

The romance between Wentworth and Anne was quite sad, it kept you suffering for chapters and chapters. But it was very beautiful to see how the characters went through personal changes and learned the good qualities the other had. Aaaannnddd the letter Wentworth writes to Anne!!!! It's one of the finest examples of romantic literature. 

The settings were very interesting, above all the city of Bath, England, where the last part of the story takes place. If you are familiar with the city you'll enjoy the book's atmosphere!

Some debate for Captain Wentworth and Lady Russell. Wentworth can be unforgiving to the last, that was hard on poor Anne! Lady Russell is depicted as a horrible woman in the movies, but the book makes more justice to her. She is not a bad woman, she is only prejudiced, but like Anne and Wentworth she learns from her mistakes.


A QUOTE

"My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best."


EXTRA STUFF

Editions I own: The Barnes and Noble Leatherbound from 2015. It has all six novels: Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion; plus Lady Susan. But I wish I had the Vintage Classics Collection too!

When did I first read it? April 2017. I listened to the Librivox version read by Karen Savage, and read the physical book shortly afterwards.

Film adaptations: There is the 1995 one, I liked this better, but the actors looked too old for the parts. The story is more accurate, the music is better and the version is more picturesque. A more modern adaptation is the 2007 one, but they invented some of the story towards the end, when the letter by Captain Wentworth appears. 

Extra books I plan to read: Fun-fact books on Jane Austen, or some Jane Austen inspired mysteries! I know, not very academic, but it looks fun to me!

I'd love to hear your opinion! Tell me in the comments!

April 2017 Wrap-Up!

So this month I ended up reading five books!



1.Cuando me veas (When you see me), by Laura Gallego: 
As far as I know, this one hasn't been translated to English, and I don't know if it will. It tells the story of Tina, a normal, shy teenage girl who realizes she has the power of invisibility. She uses it to protect people from bullying and crime, as well as investigating the death of Adrián, the older brother of the boy Tina likes. 3 out of 5 teacups!



2. Persuasion, by Jane Austen: 
This was the only one of her six novels that I hadn't read or listened as an audiobook. I tried both the normal book and audiobook. It ended up as my 2nd favourite Jane Austen novel after P&P! It tells the story of a girl who turned down a marriage proposal from a sailor 8 years ago. The sailor, now Captain Wentworth, comes to the neighbourhood again and Anne is still in love with him and doesn't know what to do. It is a super-romantic book, quiet and wonderful! Plus, a great part of the story takes place in the city of Bath, England. Bath is a well known place for Jane Austen fans and I have visited it :) I gave this book 5 out of 5 teacups. There are two cute film adaptations, one from 1995 and another from 2007. The first is better in my opinion.



3.Lady Susan, by Jane Austen: 
The book I bought compiled all six of Jane's novels, plus Lady Susan, which was written earlier as one of her juvenile works. It is an epistolar novel and I found it a bit hard to follow, especially at first. I hated the character of Lady Susan, but liked most of the others- Mr Johnson, the Vernon family, Lady De Courcy and Reginald. I didn't enjoy this one so much, and gave it 2 out of 5 teacups.



4.The Griffin's Feather, by Cornelia Funke: 
I read the Spanish version, as the English one will be sold in July I believe. This is the sequel of Dragon Rider and this time the story takes place in Indonesia. The book is full of atmospheric illustrations by the author herself, and of fabulous creature goodness! I enjoyed it very much, but messed up all the different monkey characters (there are quite a few) and which griffin each followed. I didn't like the job they did with the translation. For these reasons I rate this book 4 out of 5 teacups.



5. The Tomb of Tutankhamen, by Howard Carter:
This took me ages to read! I started it 3 months ago and just managed to finish it. Here is the chronicle of the discovery of King Tut's tomb. That was pretty exciting to read, but I hated when Dr Carter described aaaallll the treasures and objects they found. It took pages and pages. I found it boring because there were no illustrations in the edition I had. Perhaps all this will interest archaeologists :) In the end I  gave this one 2 out of 5 teacups.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Chronicle of a Mad NaNoWriMo Writer



November spells disaster like no other month. It's Nanowrimo time, and that's all that needs to be said. If you don't know what it is, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It basically consists on writing a 50000 word long novel starting November 1, and finishing November 30 if you want to win.

I had been thinking on writing my own book since 2003 or 2004, and had done a bit of world building over the years. I felt terribly shy when I saw a blank sheet of paper, so I didn`t start writing a novel till 2008. I wrote occasionally, achieving a quite boring ,35k long draft, but kept with my worldbuilding.

Then magic occurred when I discovered Nanowrimo and decided to participate. During October 2015 I did a 17k warm up, and then did Nano during November. I won Nanowrimo. I finished my novel. I've called it Unknown Island for the time being. It's not a terribly original title, but it's enough for me. I still don't know how I am going to edit this, but the first draft seems promising. It's a fantasy mash up of my favourite books plus a little bit of this and that. But you know what? I like it and that should be enough.


But then the problem was burnout. I didn't want to write anymore, I felt as if I wouldn't have any new book ideas for a long time.

And then September 2016 came, and with it the starting worries of "I want to participate in Nanowrimo again, but what am I going to write?" I decided I could do a sequel to Unknown Island, and not to worry till October 1. Then I would try and start to plan my novel .This was quite new to me, but I had been reading blogs on writing for a year now, and then on Oct 2 I had this wonderful idea. I was going to write a crime or mystery novel but in a fantasy setting, and it would be a bit different from the previous book. Like different countries in a fantasy world. It worked and it took me less effort to complete this year's Nano goal during November. I wrote 50536 words and titled the draft "Artist's Life", after a piece of music written by Strauss.


Now I have a weird duology of book drafts that are screaming to be edited. I don't know how I'll do this, or if I will ever publish them. I'm quite shy about it at the moment. But this is a beginning, anyway!

Have you ever participated in Nanowrimo? What are your current writing projects?

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Roald Dahl Tea Party

Hello my friends, hi my friends! Today I should have posted the Book of the Month review, but that will happen another day. Excuse me, I'm quite exhausted right now.

What I wanted to share with you guys is my tea party experience. Living in Spain, I had never ever been to a tea party. So today my Auntie told me that one of the local bookshops was giving one and I said-well, sounds ok! and there we went. As one would expect, it started at five o'clock.

The party was Roald Dahl-themed because of the 100th anniversary of his birth. The space was very limited but there were 20 or so of us. Quite a lot of people were dressed English-tea-fashion. They wore hats and everything. It reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie or Wodehouse's novels.

We were invited to tea - delicious! and cookies. It was one of the best cups of tea I've ever tasted.

There were people from all ages and all of them extremely nice. Some volunteered to read aloud a Roald Dahl short story. A woman read the narrator's part and then several people read the different characters. They acted well and it was quite fun!

I can't remember the title of the story, but it was about two men that start a wager about properly naming a wine. The guest ends up gambling two houses, while the host says that if he loses, the other can have his daughter's hand in marriage. The story was weird and I didn't hear the ending properly, so I don't know what happened, or who won the wager, or if it was an ending open to interpretation. The fun part was the readers' impromptu acting.

Next month they'll be discussing P.G. Wodehouse and then Jane Austen in December! I'd love to go to that one. I'll keep you informed.

Stay tuned for Sherlock Holmes stuff this month and until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A Long-Expected Party


All Tolkien fans celebrate Hobbit Day on September 22nd, which marks both Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday and the epic beginning of The Lord of the Rings. An ideal occasion to eat second breakfast, laugh with Merry and Pippin, dance hobbit-style and watch some fireworks by Gandalf. Enjoy the party!

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


Monday, 19 September 2016

Book of the Month: September 2016



Title: Peter and Wendy 
Author: James Barrie
Year: 1911
Rating: 3 out of 5 teacups


WHAT I LIKE AND DISLIKE ABOUT PETER PAN

For me, this is a controversial book. I hate to love it, or I love to hate it. And, yes, I like it because of Neverland, the atmosphere, the pirates, the indians, the mermaids, the Lost Boys... But I don't much like Peter or Wendy. Why? Here comes the controversial stuff I found!

I love the fact that Wendy explains to the Lost Boys everything she remembers about mothers, but at the same time, she has left hers at London! Poor Mrs. Darling! And besides, Wendy is a little too perfect to be relatable, too much "grown up", she is often afraid, and doesn't run as much adventures as the others.

And then comes Peter. I don't quite like him and I don' t feel much related to him. He is a child that never grows up, so that must make him really old, but never aging? Kind of like elves? But at least they learn something.

Peter forgets everything and everybody after a few hours. Normal children don't forget so easily. And Peter doesn't like mothers because it means that if the Lost Boys want their mothers they'll leave Neverland and won't come back. But does Peter miss his mother? He says he doesn't. Not normal for a child either.

Also, he is soooo conceited it makes anyone sick. Peter likes justice, but doesn't pity people very much. And he quite likes killing off pirates.

Life isn't worth much there in Neverland. Many Lost Boys had died in the past. And the book says it matter-of-factly.

And on top of it all, the Darling children left their parents for months without pitying them and going home. Their parents were half mad with grief when the kids came back. Well, at least they did come back.

I think what freaks me out the most is the fact that the narrator treats very grown-up themes while saying that the best thing is to keep being a child forever (but not as normal children are, you know).

On the bright side, I love the descriptions the book gives of the Neverland, the lagoon, etc, and the adventures in themselves more than the characters. There are loads of awesome quotes, and funny ones too. And I will always remember when we were 11 and decorated our classroom as Neverland and we dressed as the characters. It was quite magical :)


A QUOTE

"On this evening the chief forces of the island were disposed as follows. The Lost Boys were out looking for Peter, the pirates were out looking for the Lost Boys, the redskins were out looking for the pirates, and the beasts were out looking for the redskins. They were going round and round the island, but they did not meet because all were going at the same rate."

From Chapter 5, 'The Island Come True'.


EXTRA STUFF

Editions I own: The Puffin Clothbound one (2010), as seen at the beginning of this post.

When did I first read it? I was about 23. Hence all the rant above.

Fa Orozco's video about Peter Pan: If you speak Spanish, you'll enjoy how she talks about the story. Hint: It's her favourite book. Watch the video here!

Extra books I plan to read: Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter Pan in Scarlet, perhaps the annotated Peter Pan, and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Because I liked the adventures, the Neverland and the magic.

I'd love to hear your opinion about Peter Pan! Tell me in the comments!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Alice in Wonderland Book Tag



In honour of the 150th Alice Anniversary last year, and due to my love of the Alice books, Tada! Here's the Alice Book Tag! This was invented by Emily Boone on Youtube.


1. Alice: A book with pictures
Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, by Chris Riddell

If you didn't read this wonder, please do. This is a parody of Gothic novels, and takes place in the Romantic era. Don't be fooled by its 'target audience'. It may seem a book for kids, but you'll enjoy it much more as an adult because of all the bookish references it contains. The story follows Ada Goth, a bit inspired by Ada Lovelace, and her wanderings about her quirky manor house. The weird and wonderful illustrations are made by the writer himself. Plus, this is one of my favourite books ever!


2. Mad Hatter: Favourite riddle from a book
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

My best friend introduced me to the riddles in 'The Hobbit' some years before I read the actual book. At the moment I considered them to be the craziest stuff I ever heard of, and still think they are a piece of quirkiness fundamental to the book. Hop to Chapter Five, 'Riddles in the Dark', and enjoy! (Try to solve them yourself first.)


3. Cheshire Cat: A book that takes place in an asylum
Ports of Call, by Amin Maalouf

This is a book I didn't like and one of the strangest I've ever read. It follows the VERY unlikely story of a Turkish man, and a significant bit of it takes place in an asylum. Which is the main reason I didn't like the book. It made me feel really sorry for the main character.

But you can always read 'The Woman in White'. Some of the story occurs in an asylum's garden.


4. White Rabbit: A book you were late to the party
The Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Edition of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

I hope they print a new (and cheaper) one!


5. Queen of Hearts: A character youwanted to kill off
Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

I think I didn't want to kill him off, but I really wanted to get rid of him. Book Gollum is not the cute creepy creature you see in the movies. Anyway, I kinda felt sad for him. Well, the Gollum dilemma makes my head split. Off with the next book.


6. Caterpillar: A character you can relate to
I´m going to cheat a bit. The character I less relate to is Peter Pan.

Why? Many like this cocky, unnatural child. I myself prefer Tolkien's elves. They don't age much, but at least they are a reasonable folk. Don't misunderstand me. I quite like the Peter Pan story, Neverland and all that stuff, but the main character gives me the heebie jeebies. He loves to be a child forever, but never remembers anyone, not even his best friends (how sad is that!), and enjoys killing (pirates). Ugh! Creepy! I don't think being a child forever should be like that. It's better to grow up and keep being a child at heart. All this stuff about Peter would make an awesome post by itself.


7. Tweedle Dee and Dum: A book with a battle in it
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

I'm listening to this as a LibriVox recording. As it's a LONG book I don't know if there are any battles in it, but I think there will surely be some!


8. Walrus and the Carpenter: A character you thought was good but turned out to be bad
Agatha Christie's books!

I recommend The Orient Express, it was my favourite. I read quite a lot of Agatha's books because a couple of years ago they sold them at €5 in all the bookshops. (I live in Spain.)


9. White Knight: A book that made you cry
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

It made me laugh as well, but I'm not sure if I would re-read it in a hurry. I don't like to cry when I read. I feel as if the sad stuff were happening to me and it takes me a lot of time to cheer up again. Like, days? Anyway, 'Little women' is a good book and I liked it.


10. Lewis Carroll: Author that writes under a pen name
Erin Hunter, Warriors Series

This is in fact a collective pen name. There are five people or so behind it. These authors wrote 'Warriors', a collection of fantasy books about cats. It sounds very geeky indeed, but as I loved the 'Legend of the Guardians' movie (which is about owls), I think these cat stories wouldn't be at all bad.

That's all for now, I'll see you soon with more Book Club stuff, Nanowrimo and book reviews!