branquignole: (orange)
Everybody who knows me also knows that I really love me a list. I make lots and lots of them - so have some to sum up 2011!

books read in 2011 )

films watched in 2011 )

musicals & concerts )

I travelled rather a lot this year; I went to Paris twice, I finally got to visit London, I was in Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, and York, and I travelled on a ferry for the first time in my life, which was really exciting (even in spite of the seasickness). All in all, it was a great year, even though I was in a bad spot every now and then, but I tackled some of my problems, and 2012 will be the year of coming to grips with them. It's also going to be a year of adventures! I'm going to finish school and move out (for the second time, but this time on my own), and I seriously cannot wait to start uni. Inbetween, I hope I'll be able to go to London (for funtimes and marmfishery!) and Paris (for work). I don't know whether everything will work out, but I'm certainly determined to try. OPTIMISM FTW.

Thank you all for being fabulous friends and for making my life all the time. <3 Here's to 2012!

branquignole: (scabior)
I read The Hunger Games trilogy back in February, and though I was planning to make a post about it, I just never got around to it. My memories are now vague at best, but I just read The Girl Who Was On Fire (an anthology of essays exploring themes and characters in The Hunger Games) and Battle Royale, which is the August book over at bookdeyada and a dystopian novel with a premise very similar to that of The Hunger Games. Reading both of these spurred my motivation to type up an entry with what I still remember and the new thoughts with which the anthology and Battle Royale have provided me. (: And then, of course, there's the teaser trailer for The Hunger Games just come out, by which I am considerably underwhelmed to be honest, but let's start off with it anyway:

When I was doing a work placement in a bookstore in January, Mockingjay was just bound to come out in German. Everybody was in a flurry about it, and I unpacked boxes upon boxes of Die Tribute von Panem - Gefährliche Liebe (the title is stupid, but the German covers are gorgeous) and decorated Hunger Games themed displays. I had heard of The Hunger Games of course, but that was the first time I actually seriously considered reading the trilogy. I ordered the box set from amazon and since I was ill and didn't really have much else to do, I tore through all three books in just a few days. In retrospect, that might not have been the wisest decision because afterwards, I felt incredibly sick and depressed.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Spoilers for all three books. )

The Girl Who Was On Fire. Spoilers for all three books of THG. )

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. Spoilers. )
branquignole: (Default)
Let me sum up.

1. I've been doing a lot of paperwriting (in the course of which I've read some brilliant essays in Transforming a Rape Culture, which is basically an assortment of awesome feminist stuff, but more on that soon), so I haven't been able to read much this past month. I read Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones which was sweet and funny and also kind of heartbreaking, and then I read The Castle of Otranto which was oh so ridiculous. These gothic novels, they have potential, they really do, but all this being in love forever after only having known each other for two minutes? Nah. Cranky banter's much better than endless chitchat about how you will never leave each other yadda yadda yadda, So, in conclusion, Howl's Moving Castle = much better than The Castle of Otranto.

2. I went to France! For about... two days? We had a horrible ride there with lots and lots of traffic jams and not enough coffee, but we had sushi when we arrived, and we went to see Sweeney Todd the next day which was all kinds of awesome. It was soooo good, and the cast was amazing. Downright amazing. Only the guy playing Anthony was a bit old-ish for the role, but apart from that, it was all perfect. <333

3. I have finally seen The Social Network! And I thought it was a pretty boring film which was mostly due to there not happening a lot of things, or at least not a lot of things I understand, but I fell in love with Erica and the Winklevoss twins, and then I was all, "MARK AND WARDO, WHY ARE YOU SUING EACH OTHER INSTEAD OF INDULGING IN SEXYTIMES?", and then laliandra pointed me to the fix-it fic, AND I STILL HAVEN'T GOT ROUND TO READING IT YET. Which, uh, moving on, is probably due to #4.

4. Almost done (re)watching season 1 of The Mentalist! It's my favourite tv show right now, and I think that I was huge amounts of too innocent when I first watched it because I missed all the slashy subtext, and also, upon rewatching, I have found my first OT3. Oh, the goodness that is Cho/Rigsby/Van Pelt. ALSO. I totally want an Inception/Mentalist AU where Cobb is Lisbon and Van Pelt is Ariadne and Minelli is Saito. And then Cho would be Arthur and Rigsby would be Eames, only that leaves Jane with Yusuf. IDK. BUT I WANT THIS. SERIOUSLY, THIS IS TOO GOOD TO JUST LET IT GO. Aaaanyway. THIS IS OWAIN YEOMAN. HE'S MY FAVOURITE AT THE MO. And he has this lovely Welsh accent he has to drop for the show, and it makes me sadface all the time. :(((

Owain Yeoman

branquignole: (Default)
I know, I technically still owe you that entry about The Hunger Games, but I haven't gotten round to it yet, and I don't know if I ever will. I'm bogged down with (self-induced) work, and there's all that other stuff I want to blog about as well. Maybe when The Girl Who Was On Fire comes out... but first, have my March books!

20. Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
21. Eine Woche voller Samstage by Paul Maar
22. Am Samstag kam das Sams zurück by Paul Maar
23. Sams in Gefahr by Paul Maar
24. Onkel Alwin und das Sams by Paul Maar
25. Neue Punkte für das Sams by Paul Maar
26. Ein Sams für Martin Taschenbier by Paul Maar
27. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
28. Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf
29. Ash by Malinda Lo
30. An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley

Good news: there weren't any books I particularly disliked this month. There were some who didn't quite live up to my expectations though, but this was a really good month in terms of books.

A bunch of good books. )
branquignole: (Default)

How is it that when I finally work up the motivation to write these entries, I am at my least witty and sophisticated? Duh. Anyway, have the...


Books I Read in February

10. Woyzeck by Georg Büchner
11. Flavia de Luce - Mord im Gurkenbeet (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) by Alan Bradley
12. Frühlings Erwachen by Frank Wedekind *
13. Knife by R. J. Anderson *
14. Rebel by R. J. Anderson *
15. Arrow by R. J. Anderson
16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
17. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
18. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
19. Love, Ellen - A Mother/Daughter Journey by Betty DeGeneres

Books I liked. )

Books I didn't like. )

The Hunger Games Trilogy is going to get an entry of its own, I think, because I have a lot of conflicted feelings about it, and I don't really know where to fit it in.
branquignole: (Default)
Introducing the new monthly feature - aint that fancy? :D

Books I read in January

  1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  3. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  5. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
  7. Die Wellenläufer by Kai Meyer
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  9. Die Jungfrau von Orléans by Friedrich von Schiller
Books I liked. )

Books I didn't like. )
branquignole: (Classics)

I proudly present: my 2010 in numbers and in a nutshell. I saw 19 musicals (I wanted to make it 20, but then Spring Awakening was cancelled) in 12 different cities and 2 countries. On the whole, I was in 3 countries. 32 episodes of Glee made me laugh and cry. I saw Harry Potter 7.1 twice in the cinema, and it was the first time that I actually managed to go and see the original version of a film. 3000 Days of Innocence has made me happy. (Okay, I cheated, the number is part of the title.) I've taken on  quite a challenge by deciding to translate it though, since it's over 130,000 words. I've already translated the Prologue and 7 chapters though. And I read a lot, of course - A LOT. I absolutely wanted to read more again, and I'm incredibly proud because I actually managed to read 75 books. 30 of those are classics, 8 of them German classics. I've also finally reread a ton of books I've been burning to reread (such as the Harry Potter series). On top of that, I've read the first six books of the Bible, but those are not listed here because I first want to read the Bible in its entirety. And I did manage to read The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes this year!

List of books under the cut. )

On the whole, it was a really great year with hundreds of beautiful moments. I'm really grateful that I have so many wonderful friends who shared it with me, and friendship is something that can't be expressed in numbers.

Thank you. <3 I wish you all a Happy New Year!

branquignole: (Default)
Hello there! It's been more than a week... which is an almost unusually long absence for me, since I tend to badgering you every few days or so. :D Lately, though, I just can't be bothered to make a proper blog post... even though I have so much to blog about!

I've almost finished my epic Harry Potter reread for one. I reeeeally love the Half-Blood Prince which might just be my favourite of the HP books. I love how it's more grown-up than the ones preceding it, and the plot is rather dense, and yes, there is actual stuff happening, not just whining. Also: the whole Malfoy sub-plot. <3 The memories in the Pensieve. <3 Snape. <3 Everything. <3 Deathly Hallows, on the other hand, is quite disappointing. I thought that I'd maybe like it better now after loving the film so much but I just think it's downright stupid most of the time. The film really is much less stupid. Which makes it so good, I guess. But the book just pales a lot in comparison. Anyway, I've been sobbing my eyes out over Deathly Hallows today and yesterday because of all the unnecessary deaths. It started with Dobby's death which kept me crying for at least another twenty pages or so. And then Fred died. And I still think that this is one of the saddest, most cruel deaths in all the series. I mean WTF. Robbing one of the twins of his counterpart... I teared up so badly about this that I was still crying when Snape was killed. :(

Aaaanyway... I went to see musicals too, of course! In November (aaaages ago), I saw Come together on Abbey Road which is a Beatles musical with the music from their last CD. I didn't know the music before I went, but I quite liked it. That was one of the few things I did like though. CtoAR is a veeery weird musical, no plot, just one disconnected scene after another. It's just not something I can connect to. I like a plot to come with my musical.

I also went to see Hair for a second time and it seems that I just couldn't spot the plot there the first time round. :D No, honestly, I think it's quite confusing on stage (as opposed to the film) and it really does help to see it multiple times. It was much clearer to me this time, and it was even more awesome than the first time I went. Tickets for the third show are already booked. Hee.

So, last but not least... last year, I went to see A Christmas Carol with my English class, done by an English theater group. They give a guest performance here every year, and since last year was not so pleasant because of a few of my classmates doing everything to disrupt the show, and the audience being generally noisy and annoying, I grasped the chance to go a second time when I heard my brother was going with his class (same teacher, you know :D). Getting there was a bit of a pain in the arse since we couldn't go by car because of the weather and the trains were delayed, of course. But in the end, I'm really glad I went. The actors were even better than last year, but that might also be because I could really appreciate them without noisy classmates next to me. My favourite moment is by far the one when Charles Dickens, functioning as the narrator, asks the audience a favour, which is to turn to the person sitting next to them and wish them a merry Christmas. It's a lovely thing when a whole theater full of people wishes each other a merry Christmas. <3 Naturally, they received standing ovations.

I think that's all for now. I had to keep this rather short because I still have to revise for my biology test tomorrow... urgh. Wish me luck. :)
branquignole: (Slytherin)
And Harry's going to take it out on people he likes. Because he's Harry. Potter. Do you know why I love the Potter Puppet Pals so? Because I think Harry is just so authentic in his stupidity and emo-ness. Yes, I've been reading Order of the Phoenix. Can you tell? It truly is the worst of the Harry Potter books. No, really.

I really rather like the first three books because I think they're kind of charming and magical, and there is never too much emo in them because when the story gets dark or Harry too whiny, there's still the humour to keep you going. And anyway, in the beginning Harry doesn't get whiny so much. I mean, he's stupid of course, but that is one of his most prominent character traits, and if he weren't, he wouldn't have any adventures worth telling. So that's okay really. Then comes Goblet of Fire, and that is okay apart from Harry angsting about the Triwizard Tournament and being generally hated by a lot of people. At least Goblet of Fire contains a few of my favourite Snape moments, one of which always had me convinced that Snape is one of the good guys. You know the scene in fake!Moody's office near the end? He has this Foe Glass in there somewhere, right? And when Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape arrive, Snape's to be seen in it too. I've always been wondering whether Rowling did that on purpose, but it's enough that it's there. <3 Also: my heart always constricts at the thought of Snape having to go out there and face Voldemort and not give anything away. Ah, my Snapey. :/

Aaanyway. Then comes OotP. And it starts with... Harry angsting! Luckily, he never stops, so that there is a constant flow of angst throughout the whole book. Whew, I don't know what I would have done had they cut the 200 pages of unnecessary whining. I could actually be found sobbing why JKR's editor had allowed this to happen during my reread. But it's okay, Fred and George are there to lighten the mood! But then they leave school and it just goes from bad to worse... really, I understand that teenagers have problems. But while these eternal torments Harry is subject to are really very fascinating, I don't have to read about them in detail every other page. Oh, and while we're at it... I know he is dreaming of a corridor with a dark door at the end. This doesn't get more exciting with every time you describe it, JKR. Okay? Good.

What really, really bugs me about OotP is not necessarily the whining though. The worst thing is definitely the stupidity. Remember Sirius giving Harry the two-way mirror? Wow, such an easy means of communication! But let's break into Umbridge's office so I can talk to Sirius about my teenage woes, because it's more fun when you could be expelled. I mean, WTF? Same thing later on when Harry thinks Sirius has been taken. Why doesn't he even think of trying the mirror instead of asking an unreliable house-elf that isn't under any obligation to him? WHY? This is so stupid I cannot even put it into words. The fate of the Wizarding World lies with a boy who is so stupid he couldn't tell a cucumber from a potato.

Okay, I think I've vented enough now. OotP even had one good aspect! It made me want to watch the film. Which I hate. With a passion. But I thought of a few moments they got just right, especially the one where Luna tells Harry about all of her possessions that have gone missing and that stuff turns up in unlikely places. I just love this scene, when they look up and see her shoes dangling from the ceiling. Evanna Lynch is awesome. I love her. Period. She actually saved a good bit of the film. :)
branquignole: (Christmas)
... since it did actually snow here today! Well, okay, it was a kind of white and snowy drizzle rather than actual snow, but it was nice. Speaking of drizzle - I've been listening to Christmas music nonstop all day, putting my Christmas albums on shuffle. So every time I enter my room, there's a nice drizzle of Christmas music washing over me which is really, really lovely. <3

Anyway, because it's so cold, I decided I had to have another pair of boots. I have a fancy pair of half boots which are not warm at all and a fancy pair of boots which are moderately warm. So I went looking for comfy warm boots today, but they had to be fancy of course! And I actually found some! I have no idea how this happened. This is not supposed to happen apart from in an alternate universe where there are actually boots that fit me and are pretty! I'm insanely happy because of these boots. :)

Um, so. This was originally supposed to be a book post! But then I realized I didn't have much to say about the books I've read lately, so I started babbling on boots... Have some book babbling too!

For some strange reason, I always take longest to read books I think I'll have read in two or three days. Tinkers by Paul Harding was one of those books. It is a Pulitzer winning novel, and it's actually deserving of the prize. It's a very fine piece of literature and gorgeously written.  Tinkers is about George Crosby, and it starts at the point where he starts hallucinating a few days before his death. His life is told in retrospective, sometimes from his dad's, Howard's, point of view. I really enjoyed it, and my favourite parts were those about Howard, a man living with epilepsy in the 1920s. I also loved the parts about George's work of repairing old clocks. So beautifully told.

And then I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone because after Deathly Hallows Part I, I decided my reread could no longer wait. It's weird, reading these books again now after a hiatus of about three years. The last time I read the Philosopher's Stone, I was fourteen or something. I still love it, but I notice all the flaws and rant-worthy things a lot more now, unfortunately. I'm trying not to get all worked up about them though, and I'm going to start on Chamber of Secrets now. I'm getting all nostalgic about Harry Potter at the moment. :(

By the way, speaking of Harry Potter... I'm going to see Deathly Hallows Part I again tomorrow. I didn't want to see the German version originally, but I just have to see it again! NOW. I'm also going with some awesome friends and my brother is probably going to come along too, so it's bound to be fun. :)
branquignole: (Default)
Hush, Hush. A book which is on the New York Times Bestseller List. A book which is read by huge amounts of young girls. And a book which teaches us that we can't just say no to someone harassing us because it would be impolite.

Frankly, this book was even worse than I had thought. It had me cringing in agony, snorting at the ridiculous, and groaning in exasperation. I am actually impressed that it spawned such a wide range of reactions from me when the one that would be most justified is flinging it against a wall. Anyway, let's get the good points over with quickly. It was a quick read. There, that's that.

In fact, the writing wasn't so bad either. )
branquignole: (Default)
FeelWhen I embarked on my latest musical adventure, I wanted to pack a book. It had to be a book I wouldn't get too invested in (I mean, I was visiting friends), a book I could put down for some time without losing track of what had been happening. Feel: Robbie Williams by Chris Heath turned out to be the perfect pick. I'm not really a fan of Robbie Williams. I know songs of his like Angels and Feel - you know, the stuff everybody knows. Why, you may wonder, did you read this book then? Well, my mum has been talking about Robbie Williams a bit, and I decided that he seemed to be an interesting enough person. One it would be interesting to read about. And since my mum had the book anyway, I did.

Feel: Robbie Williams
is about the year from August 2002 to some time in 2003, I think. I have near to no background knowledge about Robbie and Take That and all that, but even though I couldn't follow what was going on some of the time, what put me off even more in the beginning was the style in which the book was written. You get the feeling that it has no purpose whatsoever, that it isn't really going anywhere. I like to know where the books I read are going. Once I realised that Feel wasn't actually going anywhere and that there was no real purpose to it than to just tell Robbie's story, no matter how weird or random, I liked the book a lot better. It was actually quite engaging at times and although it was not an Oh God I Have To Finish This Now! Book, I quite enjoyed reading it.

There was something that weirded me out a little though. It was that I couldn't really work out the relationship between the author, Chris Heath, and Robbie Williams. From the way they interacted and talked to each other, it seemed as though they were friends, but the book was sometimes written in such a detached way... it was just weird. Then again, Chris Heath sometimes took Robbie's defense and his story turned into something moralizing, teaching us how to treat someone like Robbie Williams who is really just a poor guy. These parts were... even weirder. And weirdly written. The writing is not the thing I would celebrate about this book, anyway. It's the simple moments that are created by cutting out snippets out of Robbie Williams's life which are simply delightful. I'll give you my favourite moment. And then I'm off to bed.

"As we listen to the songs, he opens the desk drawer in his hotel bedroom and discovers a pencil and a pencil sharpener. The pencil is already sharp, but he sharpens it with the pencil sharpener nonetheless.
He looks at the resharpened pencil with delight.
'I haven't done that for 15 years,' he says."

Simple. But so nice.
branquignole: (Classics)
I actually wanted to blog about The Great Gatsby before my musical adventure last week but as usual, I didn't finish packing right in time, and so Gatsby had to wait until now. I hope I can still scrape together a few things; my memory is already starting to get blurry.

Nick , a young man about to start his own business, moves to the country, not far away from his cousin Daisy, a beautiful woman married to one Tom Buchanan. Nick's neighbour, Mr Gatsby, remains an anonymous and rather mysterious figure even though there's a grand party at his house every weekend. One Friday, Nick is invited over, not really feeling comfortable because he doesn't know a lot of people, and even more so because he just can't find the host to whom he wants to introduce himself. On top of that, the wildest tales are told about Gatsby's past - but on one thing most of the guests agree: Gatsby looks as though he has killed a man. Nick finally discovers that a man he has casually been chatting with is actually Gatsby. They grow to like each other, and one day, Gatsby asks Nick a favour. Could he - as Daisy's cousin - invite her over for tea, arranging for the both of them to meet? Nick agrees when he learns that they were sweethearts in the past and that Daisy knows nothing of Gatsby's presence in her vicinity, but as it is when there are two men involved with one woman, things tend to come spiralling down, and Tom is bound to find out about Daisy and Gatsby.

I was really sceptical of this book because one of my classmates thought that the book was horrendously boring. On the other hand, I don't really trust his taste in literature, and we all know that I love English classics beyond words. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald didn't prove me wrong. I fell in love with it at once.

I actually read it on the train, and I don't like reading on the train that much since I tend to get dizzy and nauseous, but I just couldn't put The Great Gatsby down. It was not so much the story which kept me reading because, intriguing as it sometimes is, it is not really that captivating. It was the writing style that really got me. The Great Gatsby has this slightly satirical feel to it, and it's written in a fun and engaging way. I've been thinking how lucky it is that I didn't give up on American authors after reading Melville because F. Scott Fitzgerald is just so brilliant. I loved every bit of this book and I can't even really explain why. I can't actually grasp the reasons but I'll just give you one or two quotations, and I'm sure you'll understand.

"And I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy."

"Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan, I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs, and so I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms. Her wan, scornful mouth smiled, and so I drew her up again closer, this time to my face."

(Both quotations from The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Penguin Popular Classics. London. 1994.)

Do you see now? I just love it.
branquignole: (Default)

I have finally - finally! - reread Torture the Artist. In English. It has been lying around here for such a long time that I wasn't sure whether I would get to it this year. And my book report on the novel is done as well, hooray! So, what is this novel about?

The media and the entertainment industry are mostly controlled by one single man: Foster Lipowitz, CEO of IUI/Globe-Terner. For years now, he has been dumping mainstream entertainment on his audience, his only goal being to profit from this business as much as possible. When he gets cancer, though, his conscience starts pricking him and he founds the New Renaissance Academy, a place where young people are going to be trained to become artists, songwriters and screenwriters. The concept is to make them produce songs, television series and films which are actually of value, and to market and sell their work in order to add depth to the entertainment industry again.

But this iTorture the Artists not enough for Lipowitz. He initiates the project of the tortured artist for which Vincent, one of the most promising students at New Renaissance Academy, is chosen without his knowing. Harlan Eiffler, a loner disappointed in the development the entertainment industry has undergone, becomes his manager, which means that he is responsible for administering torture to his client. Vincent's puppy and only friend Wynona is mysteriously poisoned, he is deserted by his mother and he just does not seem to be able to hold down a girlfriend. In short, nothing ever seems to go right for Vincent. Harlan guides him to let his frustration inspire him because, after all, the most tortured artists have been known to produce the best art. Vincent does write masterpiece after masterpiece, and he and Harlan grow closer and closer. He becomes Vincent's confidant and father figure, all the while manipulating his life so that he remains unhappy, convinced that what he is doing is for Vincent's own good. With time, though, one question keeps nagging Harlan: how long will he be able to hold up this charade, and more important still, how long is he willing to do so?

The novel is told from Harlan's point of view, and his sarcasm and biting humour give the book a very enjoyable tone. I just love Harlan, especially when  Harlan he characters by reducing them to their favourite band, their favourite tv show and their favourite film. Or when he wants to pry open the eyes of the entertainment industry's big bosses in order for them to see how shallow entertainment has become by turning on the tv or radio and giving a speech about how (when there's no ad on) the song or show playing is just rubbish. Torture the Artist is fine, fine satire, criticising our mindless consumption of what we are offered entertainment-wise.

The writing seems to be a bit awkward at times, but there are a lot of positive points to make up for this. Even though Harlan seems to hate most of humanity, his narrative is engaging and often fun, and the book has its soft moments as well. I like Torture the Artist a lot for its satirical tone and the unusual ideas Joey Goebel toys with in this book. Although the end always leaves me somewhat bitter and unhappy, I just love it, and there is one thing Torture the Artist is definitely not: mindless and shallow.

branquignole: (Classics)
The holidays are not far off (one day to go actually!), we wrote our last test for October today, and we were given the book we are going to read in English. Our teacher distributed F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and said she didn't want us reading it over the holidays, and that she'd rather like to read it with us successively. Which prompted the following situation which prompted this blog post.

ME: Well, when are we going to do it in class? Because I'd actually like to read it over the holidays.
CLASSMATES: shocked gasps

I think they were, in fact, genuinely shocked. My teacher explained to me that she wants to do a few creative assignments to do with the book for which it would be better not to have read all of it. I guess it's going to be that kind of assigment again... Imagine an ending for the chapter/the book. Imagine a dialogue between Character A and Character B in Situation X. I hate those kinds of assignments, especially because I think the author wrote the book the way he or she did for a reason, and I don't think that these assignments actually give me something. (Don't get me wrong though, I generally approve of my English teacher's methods a lot!) So back to reading the book over the holidays. It's not that I don't have anything better to do with my time; I'm going away to have awesome adventures, and I have loads of other books to read and loads of tv shows to watch. The thing is that I'd rather read a book without interruption and not chapter by chapter, and I don't like books from school interfering with my other reading. I hate reading two things simultaneously. It's not that I start confusing them, but I get distracted.

It's also really hard for me to keep track of what's going on in a book when I read a few chapters of it every few days. Don't you just love that feeling when you open a book at the page you left off at, read a few sentences and then just stare at the page blankly either because you already read them or because you don't understand what the heck is going on? Does anybody else know this feeling? I'm feeling alone at the moment.

Sooo... I'm going to read The Great Gatsby over the holidays anyway. And I'm looking forward to it! (Shocked gasps.) I'm just going to make up some stuff for the creative assignments, because knowing the end doesn't keep me from thinking up something "creative". Isn't that what fanfiction and fandom kind of teach us? Isn't that what it's actually all about?
branquignole: (Cumulonimbus)
Yes, I did finish it! I don't know when was the last time that it took me so long to finish a book. It must have taken me at least three weeks to read Moby Dick - which was partly due to the fact that it was horribly boring most of the time. When the pace finally picked up a little, though, I didn't have time to read anymore. It seems that the Gods were not willing to smile on my read of the book. :D

Moby DickAnyway, I don't really understand what people think is so great about this so-called classic. Ishmael (the main character) decides to go a-whaling and stops in Nantucket for a few days. There he ponders ponder-worthy questions and makes friends with the savage Queequeg. They decide to go a-whaling together! So they choose a craft on which to embark for their great adventures, Ishmael ponders ponder-worthy questions for another fifty pages, then proceeds to tell the reader all scientifically relevant and irrelevant facts about relevant and irrelevant whales. (If I wanted a fact sheet on whales, by the way, I would go to wikipedia and not bother with reading a novel.) Then lo! they sight their first whale, kill it in a very dramatic and dangerous way and then cut it to pieces. Ishmael tells the reader all about the proceedings, and goes on to ponder ponder-worthy questions for another seventy pages. The next whale is sighted, and so on.

Now you'll probably understand why I don't have all that much to say about Moby Dick. Alright, there were some trains of thought I loved to follow, and some of the ponder-worthy questions were really sophisticated. But then the book just dragged on and on and on, and I started actually skipping parts (the whale fact sheet among others) which I never do. I didn't want to abandon my reading of the book somewhere in the middle, since I figured that I could just as well finish it now. And still there was this faint glimmer of hope that, along the way, it would get better somehow. I was disappointed. On the up-side, though, I have now read 50 books this year. On the down-side, I could have read three better ones during the time I read Moby Dick. Well, live read and learn, I say. :)
branquignole: (France)

Yesterday, I promised you a post. And then I almost forgot about it. This is absolutely not because I have been watching too much GLEE. No groundless accusations, please! (I have been watching too much GLEE though, but it was totally worth it to see one of my favourite ships ever kissing! SQUEE.)

On to Sherlock Holmes though! You probably all know by now that I love him with a mad passion. Because this man is just brilliant. And Watson is adorable. I think they are both literary crushes of mine. More Watson than Holmes though, because I like a man who is not pressured into taking drugs! There. I've said it. :) The best thing about The Hound of the Baskervilles is that there is so much Watson. The worst thing about is is that there is so little of Holmes.

I hadn't actually expected I would be disappointed in this book. I read The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was in seventh or eighth grade because we had to read The Beryl Coronet for the First Certificate and it made me want to read more. I kind of have fond memories for both of these stories and I really enjoyed The Beryl Coronet while rereading, so I thought it would be the same with The Hound of the Baskervilles. But then I actually found that the plot was unravelling too slowly and I really thought it was rather dull at times. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that I didn't like it at all, but there just was something missing I like most about the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Usually, we get a report of the case. Then Holmes does a few weird things, maybe gets on the wrong track once or twice, but is always neatly analyzing what's going on. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, he isn't really around that much, and all we get from Watson is observation. Mostly anyway. Therefore, the case just wasn't as fascinating as some others. I also love the interaction between Watson and Holmes, and that was missing as well. So, not a thoroughly bad reread, but I like the other Holmes stories better.

And then, while I was still reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, my French teacher came up to me and asked whether I would not like to read Yasmina Reza's L'art and do a presentation on it since I am so not challenged in class. (Well, what do you expect when you have a student who lived in France for four years while the others still struggle with things like comparisons and other easy peasy things?) Teachers don't seem to understand that I do not mind to be unchallenged in any way. It means I can lean back and relax! The least I can do is thank God that she didn't ask me to do a talk on something grammar-related, as my last teacher did (- needless to say, I refused; I don't really see it as my duty to do the teacher's job). I dragged a friend of mine into the L'art assignment and agreed, because I thought this could actually be fun – as opposed to a gramar-related talk.

L'artL'art is a play. The French have a weird way with plays. They actually seem to have a weird way with all kinds of literature. L'art is about three guys who have been friends forever, Marc, Serge and Yvan. When Serge buys a modernist painting which is white with white stripes (that are not actually white, mind you!) for a horrendous sum of money, Marc gets all worked up about it because he says he's worried about Serge. He laughs at him for having bought such a horrible painting and Serge is hurt. He asks Yvan for his opinion of the painting, and he admits to rather liking it. So it all evolves, Serge is hurt because Marc doesn't like his painting, Marc is hurt because Serge doesn't get him anymore, Yvan gets hurt because he doesn't want to take sides. And then it all becomes very nasty when they start picking on each other's girlfriends.

It's a pretty funny play. I see that it is funny. But it doesn't really make me laugh. That is often the case with French literature and me. I see what it wants to achieve and sometimes I can even admit that it does achieve it, but it just doesn't reach me. It's a bit sad, but I don't really seem to have a connection to most French literature. I really like Ana Gavalda's writing, and I liked The Elegance of the Hedgehog. That's the kind of thing I like to read, and I like that kind of thing most when it's French. Otherwise, French literature doesn't touch me. L'art doesn't touch me. I can acknowledge it's good. But I don't really like it.

branquignole: (Books)
I was wavering a bit whether I should watch another episode of GLEE or blog. Blogging won, since I haven't blogged in almost a week. (Whew, imagine that!) Anyway, I've now become such a Gleek that it takes me ages to finish reading a book because I soooo want to watch another episode. Today I've already seen #7 and #8, and I can't really decide whether I want to read another Sherlock Holmes, or watch #9. Hell, this is difficult!

Part of the reason I fell in love with GLEE so quickly is probably the fact that there are a tons of awesome singers that sing on it. I don't know most of the songs (so far) since I'm not so much into pop music and what not (yes, that is the sad reality of being a musical freak), but I love all the singing that's going on nonetheless! And then there's the cast, and they're all awesome. All of GLEE Club are made of win. The people I want to squish most are probably Kurt (KURT! He is so effing adorable! And he wears hats!), Mercedes (what a woman) and Tina. Well, and everybody else. Puck's been growing on me, because frankly, he has a beautiful voice and I don't care if he's a jerk, he looks all beautiful and lit up when he sings! Finn always reduces me to giggling because he's so naive and cute ("You're so chivalrous, Finn." - "Thanks. That's a good thing, right?") And I totally love Emma although I don't agree with her choices, but she's fun and weird and CAN YOU TELL I LOVE THIS SHOW?

And although it sounds like I've been doing nothing but watch GLEE, I'm actually blogging to tell you about the book I read. (Yeah, right, who am I kidding?) After reading Kirsten Boie's Die Medlevinger I absolutely wanted to pick up one of her other books, and when I spotted Alhambra at the library, I checked it out at once. It's about Boston who goes to Granada with school. Rummaging through some wall tiles in a souvenir shop, he finds one that looks pretty old and worn and real and decides to buy it for his mum. When he touches it, though, it takes him back in time about five hundred years. Back in 1492, he lives all kinds of adventures. It's the time when Christians reconquered Granada which had been taken by the Moors, and he witnesses a lot of misery - and then he gets caught up in the events himself, and is accused of having made a pact with the devil.

What I actually don't like about Boie's YA books is that there are no fathers around. It's like that in Die Medlevinger, and it's the same in Alhambra. I know that there are a lot of children whose families are not intact, but I think it would be nice to read one book where a child has a mother and a father, where none of them is dead, where they're not divorced, where they're kind of present in the kid's life. I think that Kirsten Boie's writing is otherwise pretty flawless though. She is really good at fleshing out characters and I get the feeling that she really gets young people. She also manages to have a lot of threads of the plot running parallel to each other and she's good at tying up the knots.

I'm not completely in love with this book as I am in love with Die Medlevinger. That one just was magic. Alhambra is good, no doubt, the historic background is interesting, and what's lacking is just a little something I can't put my finger on. I just didn't get as caught up as in Die Medlevinger. But that doesn't change the fact that Boie is a great author with a knack for intriguing stories. Her books are not books I miss all the time once I put them down (it's like that with Sanderson's book), but once I've picked them up, I don't want to stop reading for a long time.


Sep. 1st, 2010 08:17 pm
branquignole: (Schmendrick)
I told you in my last entry that I was rereading Die Medlevinger by Kirsten Boie. As some of you may know, I spent four years in France. I didn't have many friends there, and therefore I spent a lot of time in the school library, on my own, trying to find a book there I hadn't read already. Books have always been my friends, but during that time they were my best friends and I cherish all of the things I read in France a lot. Among those things were, for example, The Lord of the Rings, Torture the Artist, Das blaue Mädchen, and Die Medlevinger. Which is of course the reason that prompted me to snatch it from my sister and reread it, to get that fuzzy feeling of meeting an old friend again.

Die Medlevinger is the story of Johannes who lives with his mum Britta. One day, two small people, Nis and Moa, enter his world through a tunnel in the flower-bed in the backyard. Nis and Moa are looking for Nis's dad, who just disappeared shortly before Nis's 13th birthday, a great day for every Medlevinger, the day he comes of age, which Vedur wouldn't have missed at any cost. It turns out that he, along with another Medlevinger, Antak, has been kidnapped by the Cain, the Medlevingers' archenemy, who won't let his prisoners go until the Medlevingers bring him the one from among them that can turn anything into gold - Antak's own son.

I loved the book. It's a children's book, and those are usually pretty intelligent. That's the case with this one; it's witty, fast-paced and full of adorable characters. The most awesome thing is, that although I'd already read it once, I didn't know who the Cain was for a long time. I caught on eventually, but it took the characters a bit longer, and my nerves were close to snapping because HOLY CRAP, it got so suspenseful at the end. It was brilliant how Kirsten Boie had hidden in clues from the very beginning, but so astutely that you didn't notice them at all until you got to the chapter where they were relevant, and then you would be frantically leafing back to the beginning to check whether you'd read those clues correctly.

And there are also some awesome women/girls in there! Johannes' mum, she raised her son on her own, she never finished school because she had him so early and is doing that now and working as a waitress. But she's not stupid and she has a sharp tongue. Then there's Line, Johannes' best friend, who likes to talk about girl stuff with the girls from her class, about pop singers and nail polish. And she likes to show Johannes that he can't just boss her around when he wants to talk to her, but she's there for him when he really needs her. She also thinks like a criminal and would make a brilliant detective. And theeeen there's Moa-Belle who's destined to be a fairy when she's older and not at all thrilled by the prospect. (All the purring and floating about and being generally embarassing... nah.) She's really brave and snarky at times and vulnerable and cute.

Best of all - the girls are not Mary Sues, and the boys are just as awesome. Nis, who's easily scared but horribly curious and always jumping to conclusions, Thomas, Line's dad and Johannes' father figure, and of course Johannes himself, who can be an incredibly annoying teenager at times, but is usually pretty sensible, determined and intelligent. And I almost forgot to mention Thoril, who's willing to sacrifice himself for the others, and who's just so clever. Oh, I just love them all.

I also love Glee now, for that matter! I was bored today and clicked through my folders to see if there was anything unwatched in there, and then I stumbled across the Glee Pilot. I have no idea how that even got onto my computer, but since there wasn't anything else, I decided to watch it. And then I fell in love. <3 Will have to hunt the rest of the series down on the internet. In other musical news, I sang I Dreamed a Dream in singing lesson today. It was my second try; the first was one and a half years ago and didn't go over very well, and I realised that I'd gotten much better. It really wasn't perfect, but that was to be expected, especially since my tonsillitis is not completely gone. But the faith in my voice is growing, and I'm starting to get more and more self-confident! Still don't know what to think of my new singing teacher though, but we'll see!
branquignole: (Books)
I've been wanting to blog for aaaaages, but I've been such a sleepyhead this past week. I got ill around Saturday-ish but it was just a throatache and that wasn't so bad. On Monday, I felt rather the worse for wear and slept the whole afternoon, and although my throat was better, a cold hit me right on. And then my throat got worse again and I had a temperature on Wednesday - the doctor confirmed on Thursday that I had a tonsillitis. You cannot imagine my delight. I had one about half a year ago, and it was pretty nasty. I'm feeling much better now, but I'm scared that I'm going to get tonsillitis again and again and that they'll have to take out my tonsils, and I'm fucking scared of this. Anyway, let's hope it doesn't get to that. :)

I also have some positive stuff to tell you! I got my new glasses and they're soo pretty! I was effing lucky, too - I'd wanted the blue ones, but they didn't have them here in G. anymore. We asked them to order them and they promised they would. They called on Tuesday and we went to get the glasses, and the nice lady (I love her so much I could go to that oculist every day just to talk to her!) told me that when she had tried to order them they hadn't been available anymore. Fortunately, she found out by asking around that they still had exactly one pair of those glasses in D. God, I was so relieved. (Can you imagine what it is like to have your absolute favourite glasses torn from you at the last moment? Pretty tragic, right?) I also have sunglasses, and they're greeeen! EEEEE! (The spectacle lenses too! I mean, how awesome is that? Whenever I put them on, the world is all green and I feel so wicked!) I haven't really worn my new glasses yet, since I'm ill and I want to wear my comfy familiar glasses, but I love them nonetheless!

So, what else has been going on? I read my 45th book this year. I'm really proud of myself. It was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Frankly, I just can't get enough of Mr Holmes and Dr Watson. It was kind of nice to have an assembly of short stories rather than a longer one since it took me only one evening to read one of the adventures in most cases. Sometimes, I thought they were a little too short to really develop the case though. A client called, they told their story, Sherlock Holmes deduced and la! case solved. That was a bit unfortunate at times, but most of the cases were intriguing nonetheless. Oh, and one of them had Irene Adler in them, the awesomesauce lady from the film! LOVE. This woman. This woman. She beat Sherlock Holmes. She has to be awesome, right?

Now I'm reading Die Medlevinger by Kirsten Boie. It's so adorable! I've already read it once and when I saw my little sister reading it recently, I decided to borrow it from her. Good decision, that. :) Ah, and do you remember me reviewing Don Carlos? I read it during the holidays so I wouldn't have to do that when school had started again, and then my teacher said that we had to make a reading protocol. It was all I could do not to strangle her. I typed all of the information (act, scene, page, line, people on stage, location) up on my computer - effing lot of work that, but I only had to do the summaries while rereading which made it a lot less like annoying work and more like a fun reread! Because yes, it was actually fun. I hadn't grasped everything during my first read because the whole plot is rather complex, but I understood everything the second time round and I just fell in love. Head over heels. Schiller has written such a brilliant play, and I absolutely want to read more by him. I can't wait until we start discussing Don Carlos on Monday.

À propos school - a friend e-mailed me that the lists with the dates for our class tests have been posted on the notice board, and who's of course not at school to copy them, but ill at home? Yeah right, me. The one who's always waiting for them with unholy impatience so that she can finally plan when to go and see musicals. I WANT IT TO BE MONDAY. NOW.

And now I have to put together a more or less coherent report about the American Civil War. So maybe I shouldn't wish for Monday to come too hard.


branquignole: (Default)

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