Road Trip to Brú na Bóinne (Ireland)

Today I couldn’t get around writing a discussion post as I wanted to. Nevertheless, I’ve been wanting to share with you my road trip to Brú na Bóinne, a Neolithic archaeological complex in Co. Meath, Ireland. (I did it to celebrate my birthday last week). So, that’s what I’m going to write about. I think that if I hadn’t chosen publishing as a career, I would have definitely studied archaeology, anthropology or special education. So, I was really excited about this trip and I managed to took some photos to share. 🙂

Knowth. One of the smaller tombs.

Now, some info about the place:

Brú na Bóinne, which means the ‘palace’ or the ‘mansion’ of the Boyne, refers to the area within the bend of the River Boyne which contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes. It is located close to the east coast of Ireland approximately 40 km north of Dublin city, about 8km west of the medieval town of Drogheda and about 5km east of the village of Slane.

The archaeological landscape within Brú na Bóinne is dominated by the three well-known large passage tombs, Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, built some 5,000 years ago in the Neolithic or Late Stone Age. Archaeologists discovered that these tombs are older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza. An additional ninety monuments have been recorded in the area giving rise to one of the most significant archaeological complexes in terms of scale and density of monuments and the material evidence that accompanies them. The Brú na Bóinne tombs, in particular Knowth, contain the largest assemblage of megalithic art in Western Europe. Brú na Bóinne was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in December 1993. (more info here, here and here)

Knowth

The tombs are absolutely huge and the place is so green, earthy and even a little mystical. There’s many speculation about these rounded tomb-hills. What we know is that they were built by farming people and it was a work took more than one generation to accomplish. It’s really incredible to stand there and imagine people who haven’t even learned to domesticate horses being able to transport such have stones from miles and miles. Talk about having a dream and dedication to fulfill it…

Newgrange

To make things more interesting, these farmers were clearly engineering “experts”. Each large tomb from Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, which are miles away from each other, has a specific alignment to the sun. So, during the Solstice, Equinox and other sun related events, the the main entrances would allow the illumination of the inner chamber by the sun, marking the passage of a new season. This means that this prehistorical people were technologically learned (don’t ask me how). Also, there is the belief that, since they were farmers—and, therefore, recognised the importance of the sun in their daily lives—these people might have been Sun worshipers and used these tombs also as temples and places of gathering. Of course, some also say this is all nonsense and these tombs were actually built by aliens. Either way, it’s overwhelming just to stay in front of them.

Megalithic art.

However, I did get a chance to go inside Newgrange and experience a recreation of what would happen during a Winter Solstice, when we would be lucky to have the sun picking through the usually grey and rainy Irish sky. (no pictures allowed, though I did get one from Knowth)

Inside Knowth largest tomb.

If you ever come to Ireland, don’t miss Brú na Bóinne. It’s absolutely incredible and you’ll feel really humble next to it. What about you? Are you interested in archaeology, history and the related things? Where would you go to celebrate you B-day? I really don’t like parties, so visiting places that sell books and places really ancient and full of rocks are really my thing. Now, I’ll leave with some more amateur-ish photos of the beautiful landscape of Ireland, Trim castle (where some of Braveheart was filmed) and some pics of me. Enjoy! 😉

Trim Castle

Review: The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill

Title: The Woman in Black
Author: Susan Hill
Published by Vintage, 1998

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How I discovered this book: I bought this book at Oxfam. The Woman in Black has been on my wishlist for quite some time, though. I’ve been really interested in Gothic novels since I read Frankenstein, Dracula, Rebecca and Edgar Allan Poe short stories. Susan Hill’s book was one I wanted to read, specially because it’s a Gothic novel that was written “out of its time”. And also because I want to see the recent movie adaptation with Daniel Radcliffe (part of me just wants to be tremendously goofy and yell “Use your wand Harry!!”)

ReviewThis is a ghost story and an interesting one for that matter. It’s hard to review such a small book without giving any spoilers, and I really don’t want to do it since the suspense and mystery is key to enjoy a book like this one. Nonetheless, I will tell you that the book is the story of Mr. Kipps, written by himself in is old age as an attempt to expunge completely the past that has tormented him for so long.

See, when Arthur Kipps was young, he worked as a solicitor. His boss told him to take the train and go to some remote region of East Coast England and take care of the papers of one of their clients who recently died: Mrs. Drablow, a very weird, lonely old lady who lived in a big old house surrounded by marshes, estuaries and fogs, called Eel Marsh House. When he gets there, he realises people are very superstitious and for some reason they are terribly afraid of Eel Marsh House. Still, he’s young, näive and pride, dismisses whatever it is they all fear and goes to the house anyway. After some scares and shocks, he’s possessed by some morbid curiosity and returns to the house to finish his job sorting out the late Mrs. Drablow’s tons of papers (talk about job dedication…) and unfold the mystery about a certain woman in black.

As far as I’ve researched (yes, I like to read about literary genres and aesthetics sometimes, and then try a bit of everything), Gothic Horror is a genre that combines horror, romance and mystery. In a way, it can be considered as a sort of pleasing horror story and an extension of Romantic literary aesthetics. Settings as castles, monasteries with hidden passages, medieval buildings and ruins are a must have in Gothic novels (actually, part of the reason why they are so called gothic). This genre was quite common in the 18th and 19th century. 

So, considering this information, Gothic novels aren’t really supposed to scare you to death. Therefore, I was not expecting to be really scared and shocked while reading this book, as I wasn’t expecting to be scared and shocked when I read Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe. Still, Mr. Kipps’ story did gave me the chills sometimes, more than Shelley and Stoker did, and I had to force myself to put the book down and do life related stuff. The story is really compelling! Like Kipps, I had to know what was the mystery and the fuss around that mysterious woman in black. Sadly, it wasn’t that great of a mystery, since I managed to be one step ahead of Arthur Kipps when it was time to discover the truth. Still, the ending was not less striking and bizarre because of it. And that rocking sound… I got my heart racing a little with that one. Also, I really liked him as a character. He worried about a woman that was nothing to him. He even felt compassion about her and wanted to help her, even when all she felt towards him was hatred. He was too näive and prideful, though, and paid dearly for that. He was very “real” to me, so I really enjoyed him as narrator and MC.

The Woman in Black was written in the 20th century, yet it reads like a Victorian Gothic novel. This is what attracted me to the book in the first place, the fact that it was not written in the time of the great Gothic novels, yet it is considered as one by many people. I think SH did a remarkable job writing the book. I’ve read a few classics from the time, which I really enjoyed, and I think she has done a good job writing a book that sounded Victorian (if this makes any sense to you). I guess that what I’m trying to say is that, in my opinion, she captured the stylistic and linguistic aspects of the time really well, to the point of almost making me forget that I was reading a book that was written in the 80’s. Of course, you may say that she did a poor job, but I think she did really well. Plus, I could almost smell the fog, feel the marshes around me and that creepy woman dressed in black staring at me from behind my back.

Now I have The Monk, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Woman in White and The Turn of the Screw to look for! Gothic Horror is starting to grow on me. 🙂

Overall I’ve read some pretty bad reviews about this book, and some really good reviews as well. I guess it’s either a book you love or hate. It happens that I liked it! It was a really good “old time” entertaining ghost story. You won’t be terrified by it, or have trouble sleeping at night, but it will give you some chills and skin-crawling feelings. Now I’m over curious about the movie!! Although, I do get easily scared with horror movies. Anyway… If you enjoy old time “light” horror stories, do read this book! 😉

4-5-stars

Quotes worth mentioning: 

But, more than anything else, I needed an explanation. It is remarkable how powerful a force simple curiosity can be.

“For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish list meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. To know more about it and participate, click here.

This week’s top ten list is about Memorable Secondary Characters. Well, I’m having a little trouble finding 10 secondary characters that were so perfectly written that they were simply unforgettable. Sadly, authors tend to dismiss secondary characters as mere accessories to the plot, so they’re not that layered and well built. However, I do have a few in my pocket and if you count Mr and Mrs Bennet separately, I made it to ten!

Top Ten (or Nine!) Most Memorable Secondary Characters
(This time in gif style, because they’re too cool to be featured in static pictures)

1. Severus Snape

I love Snape and I’m not that big of a fan of the Harry Potter series (I know, I’m weird, please don’t throw sticks at me… I just never got the chance to read past book 4). Still, read the first 4 books several times and saw all the movies. Snape’s character has always been one of my favourites. He’s also so deliciously layered! I just like his attitude, pose and emo kid style. He’s by far one of my favourite secondary characters ever!

2. Gollum

Gollum, gollum!!! I love the Smeagol/Gollum duo from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Together they make this incredible character, so twisted and layered and overall one of the most unforgettable characters in the fantasy genre.

3. Mr and Mrs Bennet

Have you read Pride & Prejudice or, at least, seen the movies? P&P is one of my favourite books of all time, although not my favourite Austen. Nevertheless, I’m a huge fan, not only because a part of me is a hopeless romantic who loves Lizzy and Darcy, but also because all the characters in this book are absolutely amazing. Mr and Mrs Bennet are unforgettable. She is your typical mother hen, yet so ridiculously funny. She’s just full of love. 🙂 Mr. Bennet is witty, sometimes sarcastic, charismatic, book lover and a loving father. His dialogues were always so fun to read. If it weren’t for the Bennet parents, the book wouldn’t have the tremendous success we still see today.

5. Mr. Collins

Yes, he’s waving at you. 😀 Mr. Collins is absolutely ridiculous and creepy yet, at the same time, hilarious. (Yes…also P&P). It’s been years and years since I read the book and I still find myself and some of my friends joking around saying “Well, perhaps Mr. Collins has a cousin!”. Behold that wave and creepy smile. He’s just unforgettable…in a bad, absolutely funny way.

5. Ellen “Nelly” Dean

Nelly is the narrator of Wuthering Heights, also one of my favourite books of all time. She’s not very striking as a character. She’s observant, compassionate, comprehensive and quiet. Although, her voice stayed with me after all these years, and I could never quite forget her. So, she made it to the list. 🙂

6. Tyrion Lannister 

If you read A Song of Ice and Fire series or saw the Game of Thrones TV series, you know Tyrion Lannister. I haven’t read all books in the series, yet… but I really like Tyrion. He is just absolutely crazy, flawed, hilarious…he’s pretty unique and that makes him memorable.

7. Violet Bridgerton

The Bridgertons series, by Julia Quinn, is my favourite historical romance series. I won’t start talking about it, otherwise I’ll get into fangirl mode and won’t shut up. Violet is the mother of all the Bridgerton “kids” and she is fantastic. Sadly, there’s no movies or series adaptations, so that is not really her “adaptated” face. However, I picture her looking somewhat similar to Mrs. Gardiner (also P&P, but I just mean the looks). She is incredibly strong, wise, compassionate and funny. Plus, she’s an incredible mother. Violet’s character adds to the series richness and quality. She holds everything together! Without her, it wouldn’t be the same.

8. Rebecca de Winter

Rebecca, by Daphne du Marier, is also one of my favourite books. Rebecca de Winter names the book, yet she never appears in it, since she’s death (or perhaps not? read it to find out). However, her presence is always so powerful and haunting that it’s incredible. She never appears in the novel, people. Yet, she manages to sweep us over and demand our attention. So, she’s part of my list.

9. Minny

See that? Read The Help to know what that’s all about. I won’t tell you, but I’ll never forget Minny for that. I lover this character. As the synopsis say, Minny is “short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job.” Read the book + see the movie = falling in love with Minny.

 Now, let’s hear it from you. 🙂 Which are your most memorable secondary characters? Do you share some of mine? Let me know all about it!

Literature & Fashion #4: Little Red Riding Hood

banner_lit&fashion’Who’s that I see walking in these woods? Why, it’s Little Red Riding Hood!’ Today’s L&F theme is inspired by the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, first published by Charles Perrault. I’m absolutely crazy about folktales, the darker the better. A few days ago I was surfing the web and found US Vogue’s 2009 ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ inspired editorial, photographed by Mert & Marcus (which is just fantastic photography and is one of my favourite editorials ever!!). I LOVE red clothes and accessories, there’s great couture inspired in this tale, so I just couldn’t resist doing a L&F about Red Riding Hood. Alas, I’m not that good with collages to do it justice. Anyway…I try. 😉

So, here you have two of my favourite pics from Into the Woods editorial. That jacket&mini-skirt outfit is gorgeous and I would SO wear it if given the chance (night out, fancy party, wedding, wherever!! I love the outfit and I would find opportunity to wear it). Another passion of mine is heavy read winter coats and wool red blazers. I had one (winter red coat) a long time ago and I’m still trying to find the perfect replacement. And, I also love that handcrafted sterling silver ring!! As for the rest, I find the dandy wolf brooch pin and the acrylic ring set really cute, and Christian Louboutin shoes are adorable, even that they were supposed to be lion paws, instead of wolf’s… They do look slightly similar, though.

L&F_LRRH

1. Wool Jacket and Padded Mini-Skirt by John Galiano 2. Handcrafted Sterling silver Ring by Spoonier 3. Lion Paw Pumps by Christian Louboutin 4. Dandy Wolf Brooch by House of the Black Wolf 5. Little Red Riding Hoof Ring Set by LicketyCut 6. Wool Blazer by Stella McCartney 

I hope you enjoyed this week showcase! Next Monday we’ll have more. 😉  Do feel free to make your own collage. We could link each other’s posts and have more fun!

Review: Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 2010

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How I discovered this book: After all the hype around Delirium, I got curious with Lauren Oliver’s books. I saw Before I Fall in my public library, liked the story premise and decided to give it a try.

ReviewThis book awoke in me a huge amount of feelings. I mean, I felt angry, heartbroken, hateful, warmhearted, frustrated, nostalgic… I still don’t know exactly how I feel about the book now. (Maybe while writing this review I’ll know how I feel about the book. It’s not the first time it happens.) I do know that this story reminded me to be more mindful of the gift that is to be alive and what kind of person I want to be

The book is about Samantha Kingston, a high school mean girl who dies in a car accident when she’s coming home after a Friday night out partying with her friends. The thing is that Sam doesn’t stay dead, like people are supposed to. Instead, she wakes up over and over to relive her last day until she figures out what is stopping her from moving on. Each chapter corresponds to a day relived by Sam, and each day she becomes more aware of the mistakes she made and how empty her life is. In other words, she is given the chance to make amends and set things right before she moves on.

Samatha is one of those insufferable popular/mean girls, with her popular group of annoying/selfish friends that we all must have met in high school. I was one of those geeky/smart/bullied girls, really close to the edge of the social circle, so reading about Sam’s daily life and her friends (Lindsey, Elody and Ally) did touch a nerve. Sometimes I just wanted to slap them all, yell “wake up! stop being so shallow and stupid! what you say and the rumours you spread have consequences!”. God! These girls irritated me SO MUCH. I’m so glad high school days are long gone.

On the other hand, I liked that Oliver chose a mean girl as a main character. It was refreshing, actually. We always have YA books about non-popular girls, (socially awkward, completely insecure), that after finding “Edward Cullen” turn out to be really cute and beautiful and smart and strong. *I think there’s a factory somewhere making this kind of characters 24/7.* Sam and her friends were a challenge and, honestly, Oliver did a great job showing us their side of the story, the perks and cons of being in the popular side. Oliver showed me these girls’ “human” side, their flaws, weaknesses and fears. I’m glad she did it, because it really added to the book. Sam didn’t know better, she just followed the crowd and “the rules” that say acting like “this” is the right way, the cool way. At some point I stopped hating her and actually felt sorry for the girls, because they were just so unaware of what life is really about. To be truthful, on the last two chapters I actually liked Sam and felt sorry she was, well, dead.

We also get to know some characters on the non-popular side, who were bullied by Sam and her friends (Juliet Sykes, Anna Cartullo, Kent McFuller). I liked them the most, to be honest. I could relate to them. Juliet was a victim, her only fault was loving her friend too much and being compassionate. Kent had a crush on Sam since ever, but the girl was so stupid and so “worried” about being popular that she wouldn’t date someone she loved, only someone who was “cool”. (bahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! you have no idea how this kind of mentality drives me crazy!!). Although, when Sam dies, she finally starts using her brain cells and sees that Rob (the jerk she calls boyfriend) is not worth her time and Kent is, after all, the one she truly loves. (well Sam, you should have figured that out sooner, don’t you think?). I’m so sorry for Kent!! Oliver should have allowed him to move on, find another girl to love. Sam is dead! It’s not like she’s coming back from ghost land. Was it necessary to break the guy’s heart over and over? That’s mean. I didn’t like it. It broke my heart. 

Now, what I really  didn’t like about the book was the repetition. Since each of the seven chapters is a reliving of Sam’s last day, with little to no changes on the first 2 to 3 days, at some point I got SO bored. I mean, I was hating the main characters, I was reading about the same daily routine and events chapter after long chapter. At some point I really had to force myself to turn the page and keep reading. Also, the book was all too predictable. I already knew where the story was going, the “thing” that Sam had to do to move on, that she was going to turn away from her mean self and try to be a better person… Nothing surprised me! So, again, I had to force my way through the book, only because I thought that the overall message was worth it. I’m glad I did it, though. In the end, I enjoyed the book.

Obviously, this is a story, and I honestly don’t believe that we all have the chance to realise after death of how mean and utterly stupid we’ve been to others, how eagerly we’ve been throwing our lives to the gutter, and still have time do something about it. Nevertheless, I really liked the message Oliver tried to pass. I mean, do we really stop to think before we say “I hate you” or other rude stuff to our parents/friends/whoever that these might be the last words they’re going to hear from us? We don’t think about this stuff. Most of us live every day as if we are immortal, but we aren’t. As if we’ll always have a tomorrow, and we don’t really know if we will. Most of the time, we don’t think about what we do and say, we don’t care if and how it will affect others. I’ve lost too many loved ones to know how quickly and sudden we can leave this world… To know that most of the time we don’t get a second chance to tell them how much we love and respect them. Sometimes loss strikes as a lightening. You don’t know you’ve lost that person until she/he is no longer there. And then you see your heart being shattered, broken to pieces, and all you think about is what you could have done differently. So, you can see that, despite everything that was annoying and boring, this book touched me. Mostly because I could understand and relate to the author’s message, to the lesson we can learn through Sam’s story. This book reminded me again that each day is precious. It reminded me to be less selfish and more caring with people. It reminded me that not long ago I said to myself that I was going to be a better human being, and I still have a lot to do to reach my goal.

Overall: I think this book is a must read specially for teenagers, actually. In a way, it’s really a wake up call and, if we pay attention, it can really point the path to be a better person and value more each day we get to live. It’s a lesson. So, despite all the plot annoyances, repetitions and predictability, it’s a book I definitely recommend.

(P.S.: Sorry for the incredibly long review!!! Someone needs to teach me how to write objective, short straight-to-the-point reviews. If you read it all, thank you!)

3,5-5-stars

Quotes worth mentioning: 

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.” 

“It’s funny, isn’t it? When you are young you just want to be old, and then later you wish you could go back to being a kid.”

“Here’s another thing to remember: hope keeps you alive. Even when you’re dead, it’s the only thing that keeps you alive.”

 

Inspired Fridays #7: Lighted Glass Houses

banner_inspiringfridaysThis weekly meme is hosted by Inkk Reviews.You can read more about it here.

LIGHTED GLASS HOUSES

This week I am inspired by this incredibly cute little glass houses. They can be used for decor or as mini lamps. Aren’t they the cutest thing ever and at the same time extremely elegant? They transpire design and sophistication as well as cuteness. I really love them and, since I can’t make them myself, I am adding them to my wishlist. 🙂 These miniature houses are the creation of Dan and Mer Dundin.

A Book’s Secret Formula

Have you ever felt that you are reading different books, yet it’s the same story over and over? You have a different setting, characters with different names, a slightly different plot, but essentially, it’s just about the same thing. Well, sometimes I have this feeling, specially when I’m reading YA and chic-lit. This lead me to think perhaps there’s a secret formula only accessible to authors, telling them the basics to write a best-selling plot, and then they just add some little adjustments to imprint their brand in the story.

I’m not saying this happens all the time or that there is some sort of written guidebook that teaches authors how to write a successful book. But, you must agree with me that sometimes we get a few déjà vu feelings while reading.

Take Nora Roberts, for instance. I don’t know if you’re familiar with her books, but she writes entertaining chic-lit. A couple of years ago I read her books like a crazy person. *It was a NR phase.* I’ve read more than a dozen of her books so far, as well as some other chic-lit authors, and I see a pattern. With NR trilogies we always have a kick-butt/tomboy heroine, a force of nature/incredibly sexy heroine, or a quiet/angelic/peaceful heroine. Sometimes they have read hair, sometimes blond, occasionally black or brown… Sometimes they work in the police force or have artistic professions… But it’s always the same! The same insecurities, the same main personality traits, the same obstacles and the same dazzling irresistible men to sweep them of their feet (again, always sexy and incredibly skilled in bed, usually dark-haired, but we also get some blond specimens along the way). They meet, they feel attracted to each other. They either have their fears and traumas to deal with, or there’s an outside force that is keeping them apart… or there’s both! After some tears and hot sex scenes, they find their way to each other and live happily ever after. This is the pattern. It makes me sad that it’s so far from reality, but I liked them because I need a break from it sometimes. Hey, dreaming never hurt anyone. It’s just annoying that after some time, the “dreaming”/reading is always the same. No surprises, not plot changes, nothing refreshing.

Now let’s get to YA books. I’m not an experienced reader in this genre, but as far as I ventured myself, I can see a pattern as well. Beginning with dystopias/alternate fantastic universes and ending with love triangles. Again, the same thing over and over. There’s either the kick-butt heroine or the insufferable whining heroine. When it comes to the latest, her main actions are complaining about everything and nothing, all the time. The two of them never seem able to make up their minds about the person they love. The boys they love are always a) very dark, mysterious and sexy, or, b) the boy next door, cute, friendly and reliable. A devil and an angel. Plus, they always have a world crisis sort of situation to solve. Oh, yes…and the main character is always a girl!! Why can’t we have more boys as MC’s in YA? *If you know of an non-realistic YA with a boy as a MC, please let me know the title! I would really like to read it.* 

Please, do understand that I’m not ranting against chic-lit and YA. I read both genres and I like them. Nonetheless, to be honest with you, I would like some variety. It seems that we find this constant repetition mostly in these genres! It also looks like these are always best-selling books. So, this got me wondering…

Is this a “formula” that helps an author get popular? A “formula” that publishers are betting on because they know the books practically sell themselves? What does it say about us, as readers? That we like to read the same story over and over? That we’re not choosy or demanding about the originality of the books we read? That we are easily satisfied?

Let’s discuss! Post a comment below and let me know what you think about this, or if you share my thoughts about the existence of a “formula”, particularly in chic-lit and YA, but also in other genres.

If you want to know what other topics people are discussing in the book blog world, check out Oh Chrys! blog for weekly updated lists.

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make My Life As A Reader/Book Blogger Easier

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish list meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. To know more about it and participate, click here.

This week’s theme is pretty interesting! I’m looking forward to read all your posts and share some tips that make our lives as readers/book bloggers much more easier. God knows how much we need it! I believe most of you might share with me the lack of time to be an active and highly productive book blogger and reader. So, sometimes, we really need some help.

Top Ten Things That Make My Life As A Reader/Book Blogger Easier
(click on the images and links to find the websites)

TTT_1 I dare say that every passionate reader in this planet with regular access to the Internet will have a Goodreads (GR) account to organise their shelves and rate the books they read. It needs no introduction. We all know it! As a book blogger, GR has always been a great tool, too. I like to direct people to the GR page of the books I talk about because you can find all the info you need about that book in it. And, since most people have a GR account they can add the book directly to the “to-read” shelf. It’s quick and easy to everyone!  As a reader, GR also helps me organise what I read and what I’ll read in the future. I never buy a book without checking the overall rating on Goodreads, so that tells you how dependent of it I am. To sum things up, it helps me keep things organised and it helps me finding new books to read.TTT_2

WordPress changed my life as a blogger. I remember that my first blog ever was blogspot.com and I used Blogger platform for a long, long time during my teens. Eventually I stopped blogging, but now that I have the experience of using both platforms, I definitely prefer and feel that it’s a lot easier to blog with WordPress. The themes are way better are you can completely customize them, you have more control over your blog (Blogger does not allow you to create self hosted blogs), more options to optimize your blog for search engines, better display of stats info, amazing pluggins and widgets, you have the media library, it looks and feels more professional, easy to use/very organised and complete dashboard, etc. WordPress made things easier for me.
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Feedly and Pocket also changed my life both as a blogger and online reader. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been receiving every single update from the websites and blogs I follow on my e-mail. *It was a mess!!!!!* Since Google Reader decided to retire, a friend of mine told me that Feedly was the best alternative. You can keep there all the websites and blogs you follow and it feels like you’re reading one single website with all the content you read online. You can also divide your content in categories and tags. It’s really, really great. Pocket works sort of the same way, but it’s only for single articles and pages. I don’t usually have time to read all your latest posts during the week so, instead of having my e-mail spammed with new updates and my Favourites Bar overflowing with links I just wand to read once, I save all the things I want to read later in Pocket. These two little fellows really make it a lot easier for me to follow you.

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Microsoft OneNote was a suggestion from Asti @A Bookish Heart. Thank you for introducing me to this, Asti! It also changed my life and I feel that everything is easier to deal with after I started to use it. It’s only been a week, I think, and I already feel that I have more control over my posts. I feel more focused about where I’m going with my blog. Check out Asti’s post where she tells you all about this tool.
TTT_6 Creative Market is a great place for bloggers with an interest in blog design. It’s makes it easier for me professionally, but also as a blogger because you can find all kinds of “handmade” fonts, templates, digital illustration, banners, (you name it!), at a great price. But that’s not where the party starts. Every week they let you have a few things FOR FREE, and they always send you an e-mail so that you won’t forget to get the free stuff each week. And the free stuff is usually really, really good to work with. So, there! Enjoy fellow design junkies. 😉TTT_7

If you check my IMM posts you’ll notice that 90% of my books come from charity shops. Yes, I’m a used books lover. But why do they make my life easier? Because they’re cheap and I can’t afford to buy everything I want to read otherwise. No.7 is a photo of an Oxfam Books near my flat. I pay them a visit every week, among other charity shops, like Irish Cancer Society. But this Oxfam Books really has good deals and used books that look like new.
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AwesomeBooks is my “online charity shop”. 🙂 When most people buy books at Amazon, I buy used books with these fellows. They have a great staff and an effective refund policy.
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Public libraries also make life easier when you’re short of money, which I usually am. The library in the picture is also near the place I live and I like to pay them a visit on my way to grocery shopping. Most of the time I just go there to visit the books. They have a really nice staff and a great collection. Plus, the building is enchanting!
TTT_10Yes!! You, dear reader and follower!! You, fellow book blogger!! You always make it easier with your fun and supportive comments, your discussion posts, your “let’s share experiences” posts, your book reviews and opinions. Without you life as a reader would be lonely and blogging would be boring. *Honestly, it would be impossible.* So, THANK YOU!

Now, let’s hear it from you. 🙂 What makes your life easier as a reader and/or blogger? Do you share some of the things that make it easier for me? Do you have any suggestions?

Literature & Fashion #3: The Hunger Games

banner_lit&fashionToday we have yet another Literature & Fashion (L&F) day! These L&F theme is based on The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. I’ve been in love with the characters outfits since the new promo pics for Catching Fire movie were released. Some of the dresses were inspired by Alexander McQueen AW 2012 collection and I think they look wonderful. I was also surprised to find so many weddings following The Hunger Games theme! There’s some really great pics online of THG weddings.

Now, I just love the Golden Arrow and Wooden Hair Pins. It’s something that I would definitely wear. I also like the Glittler Arrows Bouquet! I would’ve never thought about it. There’s also a Team Finnick bracelet, that I think it’s really cute. And I love the “You Love me. Real or not real?” bracelet. I hope you enjoyed this week showcase! Next Monday we’ll have more. 😉 Do feel free to make your own collage. We could link each other’s posts and have more fun!

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1. Couture by Alexander McQueen 2. Wooden Hair Pin by The Ancient Muse 3. Golden Arrow Hair Pins by Fawning in Love 4. Team Finnick Bracelet Wrap by The Forks Forest 5. Bracelet Cuff “You Love me. Real or not real?” by The Hidden Pearl 6. Messenger Bag by Finest Shirts and Gifts 7. Glitter Arrow Bouquet via Glitter Weddings 8. Wedding Dress by Alissie

Review: The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 2001

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How I discovered this book: Actually, it’s a long story, but to keep it simple… I first saw this book on a charity shop and the cover got my attention. For some reason, I thought it wasn’t worth reading and left the book where I found it. When I got home, I looked for it on Goodreads and went almost mad with regret after reading all the positive reviews. I searched for the book everywhere, and only found it again after several weeks of complete insanity. *Sometimes I can get a bit obsessed over a book getting away. I’m not proud of it. Good thing it doesn’t happen very often.*

Review: This reading experience showed me once more that I shouldn’t have incredibly high expectations over a book. When Goodreads said that this book is actually about books… Nay, what GR said it’s even better than that. The book is about people getting into books to solve crimes and mysteries. The book is about a Special Operations detective – Thursday Next – in an alternate universe, and she’s going to travel inside Jane Eyre to solve a mystery, while she is also falling in love! I love Jane Eyre, I love books, I love alternate sic fi/fantasy universes, I love “love stories”. You have to agree that for someone like me, The Eyre Affair seemed to be the perfect match. I was so excited about this book, and that ruined it a little for me.

Don’t get me wrong. The book is good, entertaining and funny. Jasper Fforde did an amazing work with the alternate universe he created for the story. The book takes us to an alternate England in the 80’s where everything is “colourful”. I mean, people are genuinely in love/obsessed with books and reading to the point of literary crime being something of national and international importance (there are people kidnapping books to demand ransoms!). In this alternate universe you can get inside books to stop villains (or just for a clandestine tourist visit). People seem obsessed with knowing who wrote Shakespeare’s plays. There’s even different clubs to argue the mystery (almost like religious cults). There’s time travel, bookworms (literally!), mad and brilliant scientists, Special Operations divisions for just about anything you can imagine. There’s werewolves and vampires. The most common pet seems to be the dodo!! I mean, there’s so much nonsense that it felt like I was going inside Alice’s Wonderland, and it was absolutely amazing.

However, despite finding this book’s universe really unique and creative, there were some things that put me off the book. There were just too much going on at the same time! I mean, you already have to take in a lot of information about this new deliciously crazy universe. Apart from that, you also have to catch up with Thursday’s personal life and traumas, the Crimea War that has gone for more than a century and has a huge impact in everyone, the invincible and terrible villain Acheron Hades, Thursday and Landen’s sweet and sour love life, the more than 30 Special Operations divisions, the under the counter dirty schemes of the huge financial Goliath Corporation, the Martin Chuzzlewit original manuscript theft (it’s a Charles Dickens book), the Jane Eyre abduction… It’s just too many lines of action for a single book, I think. Plus, I was so disappointed that the Jane Eyre “affair” only came up near the end of the book! I mean, that was supposed to be the main story, right?

Also, Landen and Thursday’s big love didn’t feel like it was so big after all. Or perhaps I just didn’t like Landen. He waited for the girl to come to terms with the dead of her brother for 10 years. When she finally comes back and starts talking to him, he gives up trying and decided to marry the first woman he sees passing by his door? Because he’s tired of waiting! I understand his frustration. Thursday’s reasons for not being with him were a little petty to me. If her brother did a mistake in the war, then he did it. Why would she want Landen to lie about it just to make her brother’s memory look well? He’s dead! All the people who suffered for his mistake are dead. What’s the point of lying about it? Anyway… their “romance” really annoyed me at some point.

Let me now complain about Acheron Hades. He’s probably the most ridiculous villain I’ve ever met. He kind of fit in the book’s atmosphere of nonsense… But, really, it was disappointing. The book tells me he is the most evil villain with the greatest magnificently brilliant evil mind of all time! The man is pure evil! Instead, I get one of those cartoon villains, that are just mean idiots with no real reason to be devilish. It’s as if he was just there to bring nonsensical chaos and give Thursday some purpose as an action heroine. He was an idiot, a big bully craving for attention. Sometimes funny, but mostly irritating and annoying. 

Overall: I liked The Eyre Affair, perhaps more than you may think after reading my review. I really don’t want to be too harsh on the book. Like I said, it was entertaining, funny and Fforde did a wonderful job writing this alternate universe. Most of the characters were “ok” as well. But the book was also disappointing. I expected to fall in love the it and I didn’t, because of all the reasons I already told you. At some point it was just too confusing, too messy. I blame it all on my immensely high expectations. I’m still interested on the rest of the series, though. It was a funny read, after all… And when I like a series’ universe I usually give it one more chance.

3-5-stars

Quotes worth mentioning: 

“Religion isn’t the cause of wars, it’s the excuse.” 

“What is there to forgive?. . .Ignore forgive and concentrate on living. Life for you is short; far too short to allow small jealousies to infringe on the happiness which can be yours only for the briefest of times.” 

“The industrial age had only just begun; the planet had reached its Best Before date.”