The Count of Monte Cristo ~

I always loved “The 3 Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” is another by Alexandre Dumas. It’s a powerful book about loyalty, commitment, determination, strength of spirit, of seeking justice and yet not giving up hope. And along with that, if you like sword fights, revenge, disguises, deception, then it’s right up your alley!

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”

No truer words said! As the main character finds out, he finds his ‘truth’ in the most unexpected way, through the people he meets that come into his life only briefly and teaches him something at the moment he needs it the most. 

Edmond Dantes is unjustly framed for treason and sent to a prison fortress for 14 long years. A fellow prisoner is able to teach him all he knows, to figure out his purpose and to plan his vengeance on his duplicitous ‘best friend’ who stole is life, and love. With the secrets to the treasure of Monte Cristo, he is able to re-instate himself in society as the mysterious Count, surrounded by wolves in disguise, he learns to keep his enemies close….

So, no matter what, we must endure. Nothing is perfect in life or happens as we expect, it’s about our mindset when we face disappointment and adversity, and how we act that counts.

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“When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever.”

~ The mystery of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ ~ 🖤🌹

‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is definitely a tale about escapism- Christine spends her whole life being coached by a ‘mysterious voice’ that mentors her to do better and achieve beyond what she thought possible, when she finally steps through the mirror and meets the man behind the voice, her illusion shatters and she is repulsed by his deformed face. 💀

Instead, she goes for her childhood sweetheart Raoul, and, the phantom realises that despite all he’s given her, she still turns away in horror. She pities him and yet still agrees to lay a trap, by going along with his grand plans for her on the stage, but in the end, his jealousy still destroys them (and the opera house which is also his home.) 🎼🎭

We see him as the villain of the story, but we also feel sorry for him, hiding away with no love and kindness- and perhaps it’s this forced solitude & space to develop his talents that turns him into a musical genius. There are many things to learn from it, that you can’t force love, that you can’t expect too much from anyone, yet also the power of forgiveness and also dedication throughout a lifetime. 🖤🖤

Another thing I love about the Phantom are the aesthetics, the opulent backdrop & historical references- after all it’s a theatre, the masquerade balls, the grandness, and of course, the amazing soundtrack!! Andrew Lloyd Webber really transformed it and made it his own- hence why it still stands the test of time. 👰🏻👻🎞⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

~ 𝔔𝔲𝔬𝔱𝔢 𝔠𝔬𝔯𝔫𝔢𝔯~

“They played at hearts as other children might play at ball; only, as it was really their two hearts that they flung to and fro, they had to be very, very handy to catch them, each time, without hurting them.”

“And, despite the care which she took to look behind her at every moment, she failed to see a shadow which followed her like her own shadow, which stopped when she stopped, which started again when she did and which made no more noise than a well-conducted shadow should.”

~ ‘Perfume’ the story of a murderer~

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Jean Baptiste Grenouille is a name not easy to forget. His unique job is to obtain, categorize, replicate and produce his very own human scent beyond the realms of scientific discovery. To me, the concept in itself was captivating….

“Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”

Jean Baptiste is an orphan with no undefinable human smell which isolates him from society. His rare talent of pin pointing exact components, from brass doorknobs, wood, decaying fruit allows too him to pursue his passion. Under the guidance of the best perfumers in the world (through trickery, cunning or just brute honestly he manages to secure a place with them. It shows how unlucky Jean Baptiste is however- whoever he encounters meet their own sticky ends, which you could argue contributes to the author’s humour.) This cunning, yet seemingly straight forward character is able to combine and create his own ‘bottled’ scents with the single purpose of exciting disgust, or adoration from the general public.

Since the realm of scent is so understated (and I as one would admit to having just an average capability of smell, and eye-sight for that matter!) as we are able to create images from words, wonderful pieces of art, music- he can draw upon any scent in the world and strip it down to its bare elements not only to simply ‘recreate’ something he smelt only once, but create something new, unexpected. Quite inspiring really. But let’s not stop there.

As he grows older, his existence becomes almost animistic. “No longer distracted by anything external, he basked in his own existence and found it splendid.” He lives alone in a cave for many, long years, sustained by nothing but his ‘memory’ of lifelong scents, one day alone of which would drive any sane person mad, but not he. It becomes an obsession that overtakes even daily needs, an obsession which drives him to murder, again and again.

Grenouille knew for certain that unless he possessed this scent, his life would have no meaning.”

In fact, the novel is abundant with disgusting imagery of blood and decay, and most significantly, the perverse. He is systematic and logical, feeling no remorse for his actions and yet you sway between horror and desire to see him reach his goal of obtaining the ‘optimum’ scent – which by the way he does by killing all the beautiful girls in the city and embalming their skin.

I found the writing style to be witty, and fresh. Overall, I read this book in a few days and was really interested to read more of Patrick Süskind’s works. Though I had seen the movie originally and remembered liking it, it had definitely changed and diminished in my eyes after reading the novel. Nothing can be expressed better than through the author’s own words and intended voice, humour, tone, and ‘Perfume’ is no exception.

{The novel was originally written in German entitled ‘Das Parfum‘ in 1985, later translated and made into a film in 2006}

Liebster Award

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Thanks so much to Josh at Been There, Read That for your kind nomination! The idea behind this award is to promote new and obscure blogs, to help them gain followers and readers.

Here are the rules for this award:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the individual who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 new bloggers (with under 200 followers) and come up with your own 11 questions. You cannot nominate the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform your nominee on being nominated.

Okay, so here we go!

  1. Books are full of memorable quotes: which one is your favourite?

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” — Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

2. Out of all the fictional characters we’ve read about, there are plenty that we can all relate to; but which one do you relate to most?

Well this question just sparks off my indecisiveness. So for the sake of having an answer, I’m going to say Dorothy from Wizard of Oz.  Loyal to the scarecrow, tries to do what is right by destroying evil and save those she cares about, determined on the path she must follow but unsure all the same, goes on crazy journeys and gets swept up in whirlwinds….But in the end she realises that the dream world only takes her so far, and there’s no place like home. (Not to mention she’s a gal with a craaazy imagination!)

3. Speaking of characters: who is your number one?

I’m going to say Scarlet O’Hara just because I finished “Gone with the Wind” recently- she’s not a particularly likeable character but she’s down to earth and someone I aspire to be more like despite her faults! She is enduring with a strong, spirited personality and weathers all storms!

4. You know all of those characters you love? if they were real, who would you most like to date?

So, so tricky. Can I say a character in a story I wrote? Ha! If not, then maybe Bowman in the “Wind on Fire” trilogy. (the last one, because otherwise he is definitely underaged!) he is reliable, loyal, not to mention has really high EQ skills and can talk to animals… but actually there are definitely dateable book characters- let’s face it, most of them are pretty perfect on paper.

5. What do you feel is the best book->movie adaptation?

I enjoyed “Holes”. I also liked the BBC (most BBC adaptations actually) of “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” and “Emma”. But generally I hold the view that books are better than films! And my favourite films were not books to start off with…

6.What book or book series would you like to become a movie?

I would say “The Wind on Fire” series, but I’m glad they haven’t been made into a movie as it would ruin it completely! And I am pretty positive I would not be happy with the main character choices!

7. If you were zapped into Middle-Earth, which race would you like to become?

Definitely an elf. They’re gorgeous. They’re super-fast and have awesome arrow shooting skills among other assets.

8. Come, tell us a story! How did you first get into reading?

I was reading as long as I remember, I used to borrow around 4 books a week from the local library. I guess my mum told me a funny story about how my grandmother used to prop my head up for me as a baby while I was glued to the pages…I also have a memory of reading Beatrix Potter in red trousers, but that’s just…random.

9. E-books, paperbacks, or hardbacks?

I would have said paperbacks, but now hardbacks. Having seen such beautiful leather covers that exist in the world, I can’t go back. Ever.

10. How many books do you think you’ve read in your entire life? Go on, take a guess!

Hundreds, thousands, millions. Ha joking…I have no idea.

11. As we have all probably though about this: if you could have saved one character in Harry Potter, who would it be and why?

Lupin & Tonks? That was unnecessary. Dobby’s death was traumatic- along with all those that died in the crossfire, yeah I would have saved them all, but that wouldn’t have made for good reading would it?

I now nominate:

Reading and Roaming

Mind Ecology

Beautiful Insanity

Dating Dickens

magicnaturepoem 

It’s your turn lovely people! The questions:

  1. If you could be transported into a book- which would it be and why?
  2. Kindle or hard copy?
  3. What is your favourite fairy tale?
  4. Have you ever wanted to write your own novel/piece? If so, what inspired you to start writing?
  5. Is there a character you truly hate?
  6. What is your favourite book? Why?
  7. Do you prefer reading short stories, poetry or novels?
  8. If you could time travel, where would you go and why? (ok so, limited to book worlds)
  9. What do you think about the idea of leaving books in public places for others to read? Would you do this?
  10. Are your books well loved/dog eared and spine bent, or kept in pristine condition?
  11. Have you ever had a book signed by the author? If so what was it? If not, who would you want to sign your book?

Have fun, and looking forward to reading your answers! 🙂

~ “Dombey & Son”, “Villette” Book Reviews ~

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Recently I got more Dickens books- some more classics ordered and on their way! (Leatherbound classics, Barnes & Nobles copies- if you have seen previous posts you will know my obsession with them!)

Along with “Dombey and Son“, I also picked up “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte. Any thoughts on this? I hadn’t heard of it before but it seemed intriguing, especially due to many classic lit lover’s hype surrounding Jane Eyre. I had recently finished Ann and Emily’s works so it would be interesting to compare writing styles.

It has been a while, but I am fully committed to getting back to writing reviews! I finished “Gone with the Wind” – it was great! If you like epic historical dramas/romance, you need to give it a try. If you have any recommended readings or requests for book reviews, feel free to let me know. A literature book club sounds fun! (possible to set one up here? haha)

Reviews will be posted shortly.  🙂

Kate

What to do??

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Sadly, I’ve relapsed into a reading dormancy.

…Which also means no book reviews. I’m currently midway between a Wilkie Collins book, “Heart of Darkness” and “Sense & Sensibility”. I’ve never multi tasked with so many books before. I’ve considered getting on the bandwagon for the latest best-sellers but which are the ones to read? 

So I started listening to audiotapes. On the plus side, it’s quicker than reading and you can rest your eyes!

Problem: I haven’t bought subscriptions because a) they’re so costly and b) the public domains I rely on don’t have modern books. It seems there is no way around it. It also requires your full concentration. After a max of 20 mins, the lulling words blur together and I either fall asleep, or zone out and have to rewind it all. What’s the solution??

Here’s hoping I get back to ‘reading mode’ soon!!

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Inspiration #9

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“Live for a while in the books you love. Learn from them what is worth learning, but above all love them….Whatever your life may become, these books -of this I am certain- will weave through the web of your unfolding. They will be among the strongest of all threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys.”

– R. M. Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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It doesn’t have to be boring! ~10 Tips for reading classics

swirl-divider4reading-oncosecThe first time we come into contact with classics is at school, where novels are thrust upon us. We are expected to write essays, sit exams on them, (honestly, 3/4 we don’t read but end up wiki-ing the plot.) Some of us never pick up a book again.

I am pretty sure this is not what our teachers wanted our education to lead to. The purpose of these books is to cultivate our love of reading and bring us into contact with inspirational material that will make an impact on our future lives…(maybe.)

So here are some tips that can help you with your transition to reading classics- whether you are just starting or want to get back to reading on a regular basis. So, let’s go!

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1) Try to get into a routine- may it be reading 1 chapter a day or every night before bed.

2) Start off with easier books. If you want to keep to classic lit, then start off with ones with simpler, uncomplicated writing styles and plot lines. Usually, we have memories of books we read at school, that have put us off evermore. This doesn’t have to be the case. NOW, nobody is forcing the books on you- and you get to choose the one YOU want to read and appeals to you.

3) Genres in books are just like that of films-adventure, action, romance, comedy, sci-fi…they are endless. And this goes for classic literature too. It is hard to know the best books to read, so you can either do some research online for recommendations, or just go to the book store and read the blurb (back cover!) Imagine them screaming ‘pick me, pick me!’ Now generally, classic lit blurb’s don’t have a lot of glossing on them like many modern novels. Some editions are long (with unattractive covers) which can put you right off. But the great thing, is how publishers are ‘re-vamping’ covers making them bright, colourful and appealing that are supposed to look nice on the bookshelf- taking content aside.

Tip: Buy one with a nice cover. Yes, it is undoubtedly true you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But there’s no harm in choosing an edition that is attractive to you. Not only does it improve the reading experience, but also your chance of going back to it in the future, trust me.

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4) Classics are easier to access- you got it, a library! Some of my best memories are of libraries- I’m not even kidding. They always have a little corner, a comfortable place to sit and get away from the world. It’s also somewhere to meet like minded people (theoretically speaking…)

5) There’s a reason why they are called classics. Passed down through the ages, they remain people’s favourites and have been so…for a reason. In some cases, you won’t agree, and think a book people champion as amazing is utter……well you get the picture. The point is that you made the effort to read it, to find out for yourself. That way, not only can you say ‘I’ve read it, and I disagree with you’, but it gives you something to talk about.

6) It might be interesting to keep an ‘old language’ vocabulary notebook. It comes in handy, and teaches you new words all the time. Words like alacrity and auspicious and sanguine. They exist, but sure, most people don’t use them any more. But treat it as a brain exercise, and it can improve your language skills- no matter which classics (or any book for that matter) you are reading.

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7) All reading requires patience, the act of picking up from where you left off, the desire to continue reading, no matter what it is. It’s so easy to become sidetracked in the busy routine of day to day life. But a lot of things require patience, and in a society where we rely on phones, laptops, ipads etc to get by, most people would rather choose a game or watch a TV show (yes, guilty!) rather than do something more time consuming. Especially if you’ve had a tiring day at work, there’s nothing better than catching up your latest TV show rather than reaching for a book (depending also on how fast a reader you are) But that doesn’t matter. It’s the point of persevering and not giving up on a book you like.

8) Kindles and other electronic devices are taking over actual books, equalling to less of us reading hard copies. Yes this is an issue for book lovers, as nothing can beat a hard copy. There are many advantages to using a Kindle, it can store thousands of books, easy to access and bookmark, light to carry. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re reading something.

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9) This may be less a tip and more an observation- but keep a hard copy of the book by your bed, or on your desk, somewhere you can see it. I’m more motivated to read if there’s a book that’s there right in front of me, rather than on a kindle or other device which I can just tuck away.

10) Last but not least, why readers are scientifically proven to be the best people to fall in love with…uh huh, it’s true. Fellow book readers, this is the moment you have been waiting for…

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/date-reader-readers-best-people-fall-love-scientifically-proven/662017/

So what do you think? Do readers make the best lovers?

And what are your reading tips?

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Modern Fairytale

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-Welcome to my library says the beast. Two storeys to be read at your leisure. All yours.

-No thanks. Belle shows him her Kindle, held to her chest like an over swaddled baby-binder. This is your whole library.

-Can you eat it? Smell it, touch it, lick it? Didn’t think so, says the beast. It is not a proper thing you can drop in a bath, crumple in your bag until it is dog-eared, use as a coaster -no, it’s a travesty. You cannot eat a Kindle, and that’s a fact.

Copyright © 2014 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)