30 Oct 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: You Make Me Feel

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is one that will have us all remembering those books that just made us feel a little bit more. It is: Top Ten Books I Had VERY Strong Emotions About. If you haven't already, remember to head over to The Broke and The Bookish ´http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/ - who are behind this amazing Tuesday tradition. They are one of the best blogs out there if you ask me.

10) "The Crimson Petal and The White" by Michel Faber
This is one amazing story. It is about a prostitute in 19th century London who falls in love and to some extent loses both her identity and her freedom. It is very touching and it made me incredibly APPRECIATIVE that I a women today, not 150 years ago...

9) "The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella
This is not a book that I like. Actually I was so ANNOYED by the frustrating lack of self-awareness and common sense of the character that the story ended up being irrelevant and all the fun parts of the book were lost on me because I was so ANGRY with the airhead heroine.

8) "The Book, The Film, The T-shirt" by Matt Beaumont
Told from many many angles with several characters, all of them with their own voice. One of the FUNNIEST books on my shelves, it never fails to make me LAUGH.

7) "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J. K. Rowling
Probably the Harry Potter book that touched me most deeply. The dictatorship of Umbridge and the absence of light was almost too much for me. It was so tough to read through, I almost couldn't deal with the pain that Harry went through and it almost HURT physically to read through it.

6) The Sooke Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
This series never fail to make me feel COMFORTABLE. I love Sookie and her southern charm and she never makes to make me feel all WARM inside.

5) "The Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I was quite young when I first read this one and the other in the series and it was a book that stayed with me for a very very long time. One of those that I kept coming back to, reading over and over again and marveling at the strength of the characters. The family values displayed in it really really MOVED me.

4) "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver
Scary, so scary. If you are pregnant and even just a little bit worried about whether or not you will be a good mum, it is not the right time to read this one. Or maybe it is. The ultimate fictional story about nature vs. nurture, questioning whether or not a person can be born evil. Really made me WORRIED about becoming a mother.

3) "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J. K. Rowling
Read the last pages of this book on a train and cried. I could not stop myself. It was so sad, the end of an era and I was so not ready to say goodbye to Harry. Luckily this is one of those books that can be read and re-read because because it was both SAD and HAPPY at the same time.

2) "Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" by Christiane F.
I was thirteen when I first read this one - the truthful and heartbreaking account of a teenage drug addict and prostitute in 1980's Berlin. It was the book that really made me realize that what I saw on the news actually happened to girls who were just like myself. Such an eyeopener and very very emotional read, it made me really SAD.

1) "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
Most be the scariest book I have read in the sense that it all seems so real. This could happen. Reading this book actually scared me, not in the thriller-sense, but in the what-is-the-world-coming-to-sense and I actually ended up writing an article about it for a political blog as well as buying it as birthday presents for friends. Amazing book that really had me SCARED.

We Need to Talk About... a really amazing film!

Right so it's been a long long time - or at least many days - since I've done any blogging. The reason for this absence is not that I no longer love blogging or reading but that I have moved to: another job in another industry, another city and another country. Quite a bit of change in one go. So at the moment focus is on settling in, getting to know my way around etc. etc.

Last weekend after a rather tough week in new position in a new department, my boyfriend took me to the cinema and even let me choose the film so we went for "We Need to Talk About Kevin". I read the book by Lionel Shriver a year or so ago and loved it so I was quite worried about the film actually. Would they be able to tell this horrible story without resorting to overdramatizing or focusing too much on Kevin and too little on the family. The book is so special. Even though it is all about Kevin, he is hardly in it. A minor character that the entire plot centers around. And the narrator, Eva, is unable to see outside of her own context at all which means that the reader has to do his/her bit to understand what is at play here. It is a difficult book to translate into a movie.

When we left the cinema, I was more or less stunned by the fact that the director had managed what I had in no way expected: to make the film a natural extension of the book. A lot of this is down to the incredible Tilda Swinton, who is probably the only actress on earth able to rightly portray Eva. Distressed, broken Eva whose life has been taken from her and left her with a shattered existence as an outcast. Much of story is not told outright but by her actions, her facial expressions and she takes this movie to another level - it is not sensational or cliche or over-emotional as one could have feared. It is silently strong, it made me physically uncomfortable in the best possible sense because it is so obvious that this is a family doomed to tragedy. Ezra Miller as Kevin is beyond amazing. A great career awaits this actor, I am sure, because he does a great job of portraying a range of emotions from sadness to a burning rage.

If you are wondering what to do next weekend, going to the cinema to watch "We Need to Talk About Kevin" would definitely be my suggestion.

11 Oct 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Reading them again for the first time...

This Tuesday, The Broke and The Bookish ask us to think about this topic in our Top Ten:

There are just some books that leave you with such deep, intense feeling when you finish it for the first time. We've all experienced this at one time or another. The bad thing is, there's really no way we can go back and experience that feeling again, even with multiple rereadings. We already know what happens, if there are plot twists, a surprise ending, who the main characters ends up with , who dies, etc. Here are some books that leave me (Kelly) with these feelings of longing.

So here is my Top Ten of Books that I Would LIke To Read Again For The First Time...

10) "The Liar of Umbria" by Bjarne Reuter
Not sure this was ever translated to English which is a shame because it is a really really really amazing book.

9) Peter Pan and Wendy by J. M. Barrie.
One of the children's books that have most effectively captured my imagination. Such a wonderful book. Full of adventure and heartbreak.

8) "Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.
I expected so little and got so much. I read the book right around Christmas time last year and it was a really amazing experience because I got so sucked into it.

7) "Stolen" by Lucy Christopher
The development of the stolen girl's Stockholm Syndrome and the changes in the relationship between captured and hunter had me completely enthralled. Loved the unpredictable parts of this story and loved the ending.

6) "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas
I love both the villains and the heros of this story. They are all so vain, so selfish and so lacking in the self-awareness department - have loved it since I was a girl and wish I could remember the first time I read it.

5) The Silent Duchess by Dacia Maraini
So beauty and such emotional turmoil. On amazon.com they write: "Episodic and essentially plotless, but propelled by an inner tension..." and I definitely got caught up in that tension.

4) "Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" by Christiane F.
The biography of a teenage heroin addict and prostitute in the Berlin of the 1990's. I was in a depressed state for days after first reading this when I was 13 years old. It was the first book that made me realize that it is up to us to take control of our lives and decide how we want to live it. A very very scary and emotional read.

3) "New Moon" and "Eclipse" by Stephenie Meyer
I long for the days when these were books that hardly anyone talked about and that didn't have people divided in lovers and haters. Because honestly I was completely addicted to these two. "Twilight" not so much but these two had me in a state of being where nothing else mattered except from Bella, Edward and Jacob. I miss the innocence of those days, before the movies and the R-Patz/K-Stew mania.

2)"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
I saw the BBC series before I read the book. Big mistake. Wish it was the other way around. LOVE this book, it really is one of the greatest love stories ever. And oh how I long for that first feeling of intense worry that Darcy and Elizabeth wouldn't have their happy ever after.

1) The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Booking a week of vacation and spending the entire week reading all of the Harry Potter books in a row for the first time is more or less my idea of perfect bookish bliss. I loved being part of the HP adventure, lining up outside bookstores at midnight to get my hands on the newest book and I loved the sense of being a muggle, lucky to catch a glimpse of the magical world of Hogwarts.

10 Oct 2011

Review: "The Summer Without Men"

Summer is most definitely over now - october has set in loud and clear in Copenhagen with lots of rainy days and brown leaves on the ground. Not unpleasant but not summer either. The season for staying inside with a cup of tea and a good book is here and I am not one to complain about that. Nothing beats the cosiness of being wrapped up in a blanket with a good book and a cup of tea on a rainy Sunday. Pure bliss.

One of my early-autumn reads this year was "The Summer Without Men" by Siri Hustvedt. I chose it for the title and the author and I must say that the title is oddly fitting for my life as my boyfriend and I have now lived in a long-distance relationship for four long months. However, this week is the final one. But it has been a summer more or less without men for me so this book made sense to me on a personal level. When Hustved writes without men, she means it. There are no men in this book except for the ones that we are told about by the women that this book is really about. The narrator is Mia, a poet, a mother and a wife to the philandering neuro-scientist Boris who has become so enchanted by a French colleague that he leaves his wife of twenty-odd years for her. And that leaves Mia with a mental breakdown, literally, which sends her straight to the psychiatric ward and from there to a summer of rest and recovery in her childhood town.

Coming back to the town that she left behind when she ventured into the land of adults is not easy for Mia but despite her frail mental state and her anger and frustration with Boris and his Pause, she manages to carve out a place for herself in the local community. As she teaches a summer class about creative writing, she gets caught up in the catty intrigues of teenage girls and as she visits her mother's friends, she has to face the difficulties of old age and the constant shadow of death that hangs over these ladies in their 80's and 90's. It is both sobering and hilarious reading at once because it is so easy to relate to. Hustvedt manages to perfectly capture both the confusion in the mind of a teenage girl and the resignation of a lived that has been lived and is soon to end.

Actually this book should come with a warning: "Read only if you are ready to think about some of life's big questions" because - at least for me - the reading opens up for a lot of thoughts about how to live life and how to make the most of the time we have. This is probably also the reason why it took me a long time to read this book - because I took it in little bites in order to be able to process it. However, it is not all as "heavy" as it sounds because as a narrator, Mia is full of witty remarks. Her sharp observations and dry sense of humor lifts this book to another level. Her internal dialogue and her anger with Boris is honestly really entertaining and this counteracts the many philosophical parts so that it ends up being a perfectly balanced book.

And I think this is where I end this review. By saying that this is a perfectly balanced book. I had me laugh, cry and worry and it also got me thinking. What more can you ask for in an autumn read?

4 Oct 2011

Pictures from a sunny weekend in October

Spent the weekend hanging out at my parents' place and going for walks with them. Very relaxed and a pretty amazing way to spend a warm Indian summer weekend.

Here's the photo evidence :-)

Top Ten Tuesday: Endings that made you go "What?!?"

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday for a while and have to admit I missed it. So here we go - thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for facilitating this great game!

Today's topic.... endings that left me open-mouthing going "What happened?!?!"

10) "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier
So unexpected - and it makes it so much more than a love story!

9) "Changeless" by Gail Carriger
I was completely dumbfounded by the ending of this one and actually rather annoyed with the situation. As I remember it, my immediate reaction was "Men!!" in a very grumpy tone of voice

8) "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman
I am not even sure why but this ending really surprised me. In a good way. And if you haven't read this book, you must. It is really really good.

7) "The Collector" by John Fowles
I am not sure what I expected from this book in terms of ending but certainly not this. Loved it once I got over my initial surprise

6) "The Pearl of the Soul of the World" by Meredith Ann Pierce
I was quite young when I first read the Darkangel trilogy and I was really disappointed with the ending. Guess I was a bit of a romantic then - or at least more romantic than now. Because now I think it is the perfect ending - surprising but perfect.

5) "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins
All I can say is that I was very very happy that I had already bought book three and could start on it immediately. Otherwise I might have gone crazy trying to figure it all out.

4) "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro
I won't say anything other than: Things are not what they seem.

3) "A Handful of Dust" by Evelyn Waugh
Definitely not a feel-good ending. I was completely taken by surprise when I read it - hadn't seen it coming. Until the last page I was hoping for a happy ending...

2) "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling
Not only was I extremely surprised but I was also a little (tiny) bit angry at the author for letting this happen and very very sad. Think I even cried. One of the things I love about the Harry Potter series is that sometimes sad and bad things happen to good people and it affects not only the characters in the story but also the reader.

1) "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness
I didn't know that this was the first book in a trilogy and at first I was furious with the author for leaving such a cliff hanger. Then I googled the book to find out if others felt the same way and found out that there was more to come. So now I am waiting excitedly for the next book as I absolutely love "A Discovery..."

2 Oct 2011

Ten Things I Love About... "Stardust"

I know, I know, you shouldn't see the film until you have read the book. But with "Stardust" - written by Neil Gaiman - I had no idea that there was a book until I had already seen the film. Twice. I really liked the film, I was completely sucked into the story so when I found out there was a book, I had to read it even though I was worried that it wouldn't live up to the film. How wrong I was. In my defense, I hadn't read anything by Neil Gaiman at the time so I had no idea that this wasn't just any author but a very very gifted one with a spark and an imagination that very few can match. It is hard to describe this book but it kind of reminds me of Willam Goldman's "The Princess Bride".

Since then I have loved "Stardust" and now I want to tempt you into reading it. So here are ten things I love about "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman:

1) One of the main characters is a fallen star and the reader meets this fallen star at a moment when said star is in a very bad mood and very ready to throw mud at our hero.

2) It manages to be both tough and whimsical at the same time.

3) The names of the characters - Tristran, Dunstan, Yvaine...

4) This quote from page 123: "As they travelled, the star cursed the day she had fallen to this wet, unfriendly world. It had seemed so gentle and welcoming when seen from high in the sky."

5) And this quote from page 167: "It has occasionally been remarked upon that it is as easy to overlook something large and obvious as it is to overlook something small and niggling, and that the large things one overlooks can often cause problems."

6) It features the word "gradiloquently" on page 37.

7) And on page 183 it features the words: "lackwit", "clodpoll" and "dunderhead".

8) Two goats are having to act human in one of the chapters. Not an easy task.

9) The villains are really evil. Not kind of nasty or had-a-bad-childhood-unpleasant. Evil.

10) This quote from page 135: "They sat side by side on a thick, white cumulus cloud the size of a small town."

1 Oct 2011

Tweet tweet

So... after having told myself for a looooong time that Twitter was definitely not for me (just as I always thought that blogging was not for), Willa now has a Twitter account!! WillaWWW - not very imaginative but hey, what's a girl to do when it's past midnight and she can't sleep.

If you guys are on Twitter, please let me know so I can follow you!!