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Showing posts from October, 2017

2 x Vampire stories

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I have never been very fond of vampire stories, nor watched all the classic films about them. However, that changed a few years ago when I read the absolute classic of vampire tales; Dracula by Bram Stoker. It was a surprisingly, vivid and interesting read, even after all these years. Today the world of vampires has changed due to a number of modern accounts on them; Twilight , The Sookie Stackhouse series (True Blood) and Interview with the Vampire and many more. Not to talk about the various TV-series following in the wake. According to the British Library, the first vampire in English literature came with Robert Southey's epic poem  Thalaba de Destroyer. The vampire takes the form of Thalaba's bride Oneiza, who dies on their wedding day. Her very lineaments, and such as death Had changed them, livid cheeks, and lips of blue. But in her eyes there dwelt Brightness more terrible Than all the loathsomeness of death. It seems that Southey added a very deta

The Reading Woman

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Yesterday, on a very nice, sunny day here in Brussels, I went downtown. It does not happen that often. The trees are changing their colours so you could get quite some nice photos. Passing by the Museum of Art I went into their shop. I really love museum shops. They have so many beautiful things and if you are looking for presents it is perfect. This time I found a present for myself. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I am a fan of notebooks. I have therefore put a ban on myself, not to buy any more until I have used the ones I have. It is a little bit like books. I can't resist them when I see something I love. Yes, you are right. I did buy another one. Not a notebook but a calendar. It is call The Reading Woman - 2018 Engagement calendar. The cover is beautiful, and the calendar is filled with paintings of women, not always reading. However, each painting come with a quote connected to books. I will use this one to note what I am reading and when. It will also

The Brontës in Brussels by Helen MacEwan

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As you might know, I am a fan of the Brontës. While living here in Brussels I came into contact with the  Brussels Brontë Group . A group, founded by Helen MacEwan and some fellow enthusiasts. I did not have so much knowledge about the Brontës. Just that they grew up on the moors of Yorkshire and wrote wonderful, passionate novels. Being part of the group have, for me, opened up a whole new chapter in the history of the Brontës. The group has taken on numerous investigations in order to track the lives of Charlotte and Emily during their stay here in 1842-43 (Emily only the first year). For Charlotte it was a life changing experience. The life she lived here and her studies for the charismatic M. Heger gave her another output in life. She became infatuated with him and he entered into her literary characters. Helen is the source of information concerning the sisters life here in Brussels. She has written several books related to their stay here. The Brontës in Brussels is a well

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

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This is my first book by the highly appreciated Haruki Murakami. It contains short stories of men and their relationship with women. Although I had a slight problem with the first story, or the way it was written (might have been the translation), it improved with each of the stories. The stories are about different men from different parts of the society and their often troubled relationship with their women. Together, they show the different ways of love. One of my favourite was the one about a man who did not want to get married, and had a lot of different affairs. It was always him that ended the affairs. Then, one day, the thing happened, that I always think happens to most of us, he fell in love with his mistress. All of a sudden the situation was the reverse. He was the eager one and she withdrew. It lead to a total downfall for the man and ended in disaster. This is just one of the extremes of the stories Murakami tells us. They are all told in a calm, matter of fact way, a

The Poems of Catullus

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A book from my TBR shelves came in handy for the literary course I am taking. The history of literature, starts, like so many other things, with the Greeks and the Romans.  The Poems of Catullus  has been on my shelves for several years, and finally, I read it. It is not entirely easy to interpret the poems, even with the very good introduction by the translator, Peter Whigham. Here a few lines from the introduction. "We know very little about Catullus's life: even the dates of his birth and death are uncertain. The likeliest figures are: born 84, died 54 B.C. His full name was Giaus Valerius Catullus. … He appears as one of the lovers of the notorious Clodia Metelli, and a leading figure - perhaps the leading figure - in the new movement in poetry. … In short, the tradition that he died of what our grandmothers called 'a broken heart' finds no support in the poems. It is based solely on the assumption that his love for Clodia was of the conventional type of romant

Swedish Crime Novels

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Continuing my crime novel streak, I want to share two great crime stories from Sweden. One is Spring Tide by Cilla & Rolf Börjlind and the other is Tjockare än vatten (Thicker Than Water, my translation) by Carin Gerhardsen. Both are of the kind, difficult to put down. That is why you read until 1 a.m in the morning, just to finish it. Spring Tide was spoken of quite a lot in Sweden some years ago. It has a different set-up of characters from other novels, and this is the first in a series involving Olivia, a trainee at the police academy and Tom, a former police inspector, now home-less. Olivia is given a cold case to look at during the summer holidays. It concerns the murder of a woman in 1990 on an island on the west coast of Sweden. The case was never solved, and the identity of the woman was never found. Olivia gets involved in the case, and starts her own investigation. At the same time people involved in the actions years ago are feeling nervous and unexpected things

2 x Indridason

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I have spent a couple of weeks in Sweden, seeing my son and friends, decorating the flat and doing some studies. The last was more of an emergency call, since I had misread the dead-line! Well, know I have caught up again. Looking at my TBR shelves in Sweden (yes, these shelves exists both in Belgium and Sweden!) I discovered to my great pleasure,  two unread books by Arnaldur Indridason.  Nordic crime writers are very popular these days. For one reason or the other, I don't read so many crime novels. However, having found some unread on my shelves, I went all crime fiction during these weeks. I start with one of my very favourite author. Artic Chill and Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason. As usual, interesting cold case stories mixed with a murder mystery. In Arctic Chill  a dark-skinned young boy is found dead and his Thai half-brother is missing. Is it a racial murder? Or a paedophile murder? Or did the boy see something he shouldn't see? The options are man

Mount TBR Reading Challenge - check point #3

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October is here and time for another check point for our mountaineering efforts. Bev at My Reader's Block has called upon us to tell you where we are. So far I have read 35 books from my TBR shelves. Well, it is really some more, but for this challenge it has to be books which were on the shelves before 1 January 2017. On 1 July, I had read 23 books, and now I am at 35 books. That is just one book short of climbing Mt Vancouver. It is 4,812 m to the top, and I am on 4,678 m. Another book and another 135 meters and I am there! Bev has given us a few tasks to complete, based on the books we have read. Here we go! Who has been your favourite character so far? And tell us why, if you like. I think I go for a family, the Buddenbrooks. Thomas Mann manages to fully engage us in the members of this family and their rise and fall. A fantastic book. Which book (read so far) has been on your TBR mountain the longest? Was it worth the wait? Or is it possible you should have tackl

6 Degrees of Separation

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I don't know where the time goes. Reading your blog posts I realise it is time again for a 6 Degrees of Separation, hosted by Books Are My Favourite And Best . This month starts with the book Like Water for Chocolate  by Laura Esquivel. I have not heard about the book and thus, not read it. "Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico blends poignant romance and bittersweet wit. " Sounds like an interesting read, just what I like. It will be added to my to read list. Being about cooking, my first thought goes to The Dinner  by Herman Koch.  It is about a family drama where two brothers with their wives meet up for dinner to discuss what their sons have been up to. A drama slowly evolves and it keeps you in suspense to the very end, what the sons have really done. Thinking of family dramas I opt for The Go-Between   by L.P. Harley and one of my favourite books. Leo is invited to his best friend Marcus' man