Saturday, 31 January 2015

Short story Saturday #5

To encourage myself (and maybe others) to write more, I will post a prompt every saturday to write a short story. From time to time I will share what I have written, and if you have written something based on the prompt do leave a comment, I'm curious as to what you would have written.

This week's prompt:

'I should have gone the other direction. If I would continue this way I would certainly get caught. I looked around to see if there was any way to escape'.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Untitled poem #1

Lately I've been getting more into writing poetry. It is nice to now and then be able to write something short and actually be able to finish it and be happy with it. I do love writing long stories, but it can sometimes feel as though I will never finish anything. I initially wrote this poem in Dutch and when I tried to translate it to English I was reminded of how difficult it is to translate poetry if you want to capture the meaning and the rythm as well (this didn't turn out so well, haha).

Ze is bang om van de zon de houden
nu de duisternis haar heeft omarmd
Ze is vergeten hoe het is
zoals ze eens wist
door geluk te worden verwarmd

Laat haar slapen, niet meer dromen
en als ze wakker word dan is ze weer
het meisje dat ze echt is,
dat ze eens was
Niet meer denkend aan oud zeer

'She is afraid to love the sun
now darkness has embraced her
She has forgotten what it’s like
as she once knew
to be warmed by luck

Let her sleep, no more dreams
and when she’ll wake than again she’ll be
the girl she really is
the one she once was
No longer thinking of old grief’

Monday, 26 January 2015

Review - The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle

8263139Genre: non fiction, memoir
Pages: 244
Rating: 3,5/5 stars

In this memoir Mark Boyle tells about a year he spend living without money. He talks about his reasons behind this, the challenges he faces and gives tips to start living off-grid. 

My thoughts
The book started out pretty good. In the first chapter Mark talks about why money isn't necessarily a good thing and he did so very vividly. It was very easy to get into the book, but I have to say it got a little less easy to read when I got further into the book. The ending was again as good as the beginning, which is why I still felt very pleased with this read after finishing it.  The beginning and end of the book are stronger than the middle because it really shows why he decides to start living without money for a year and especially the end of the book is very positive and enthusiastic. The middle of the book felt a little different. Eventhough I agree with a lot of his ideas, such as that people should put in more effort to try to reduce their carbon footprint and also try to prevent the enhanced greenhouse effect from getting worse, I found it a little depressing to read the middle of the book. Mark seems to focus a lot on what is wrong with our world instead of focusing on what we can do to improve it. For me personally what has always inspired me about people who live self sustainable is their enthusiasm, the love they have for nature and the amazing things they acomplish. Constantly being told what is wrong about my current lifestyle makes me less inclined to change it.
On some fronts I understand where Mark was coming from. I do agree that money makes that we are very distant from the production process of everything we consume and because of that don't always see the concequences of the way we live. On the other hand I felt like he romanticised living off grid a bit.
The book was actually pretty good, but it wasn't what I was expecting. I was hoping to read more indepth information on how he actually managed to live moneyless for a year, instead I read a of of things I was already familiar with and a big part of the book focuses on how the media reacted to Marks project, which wasn't necesarily something I was interested in. However, if you are not too familiar with self sufficiency I think this is a good place to start reading.
The book includes some tips on how to become more self sufficient and allthough I was allready familiar with most of them, I was really surprised by the explanation on how to make your own paper and ink from mushrooms, since I didn't know this was possible.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Short story Saturday #4

To encourage myself (and maybe others) to write more, I will post a prompt every saturday to write a short story. From time to time I will share what I have written, and if you have written something based on the prompt do leave a comment, I'm curious as to what you would have written.

This week's prompt:

En elderly woman expects no one to visit on, or remember her birthday, but on the morning of her birthday she finds an anonymous letter asking her to meet the writer later that day.

Some questions to get you started:
Why does the woman not expect anyone to remember her birthday? Who send the letter? Who is the writer of the letter? Where does he/she propose to meet? What happens at their meeting?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Review - Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green

93008Genre: classics, adventure, historical fiction
Rating: 3,5/5
Pages: 279

Summary from Goodreads
Robin Hood is champion of the poor and oppressed against the cruel power of Prince John and the brutal Sheriff of Nottingham. He takes refuge with his Merrie Men in the vast Sherwood Forest, emerging time and again to outwit his enemies with daring and panache. This classic version brings sense and clarity as well as excitement to the varied myths, ballads and legends about Robin's adventures.

My thoughts
Every chapter was a short adventure on it's own. It was definitely enjoyable to read but not extremely exciting. I was mostly interested to read on because of its influence in literature. So many stories are based on the stories of Robin Hood and so many references are made to them.
Because every chapter was pretty much a short adventure on its own it was easy to read only one chapter at a time and it was not one of those books I couldn't put down because I needed to know what happened next.
Although some of the characters in the book seem to be entirely bad persons, there are no characters that are entirely good. I was surprised at how often I thought Robin made a wrong decision. I liked Robin Hood a little less then I thought I would. He had a very agressive way of approaching people, so it was no wonder some of those people reacted really angry. Most of his encounters with others started out with a fight with sticks. Eventhough it was funny in the beginning I honestly got a little bored with it over time and also a lot of the stories just seemed very much like stories I read earlier in the book.
The chapters on their own contained a lot of action, but the overarching plotline progressed quite slowly. For the most part of the book Robin was just getting people to join his band of outcasts. Although this book wasn't quite what I was expecting it was sometimes quite funny and it was still an enjoyable read.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Short story Saturday #3

To encourage myself (and maybe others) to write more, I will post a prompt every saturday to write a short story. From time to time I will share what I have written, and if you have written something based on the prompt do leave a comment, I'm curious as to what you would have written.

This week's prompt:

A musical instrument that has certain magical abilities depending on what song is played gets stolen.

Some questions to get you started:
What kind of instrument is it? What kind of magical abilities does it have? Who stole it? To who did it belong in the first place? How did it get stolen? Is anyone trying to get it back?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review - The 100 by Kass Morgan

17332969Genre: young adult, science fiction
Pages: 336
Rating: 3,5/5 stars

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

My thoughts
Last year I started watching the tv series The 100 that is based on this book. I really enjoyed it and when I realised it was also a book I knew I wanted to read it. Going in I already knew it was quite different from the tv series, but in this case it didn't bother me. Some characters that are in the tv series do not exist in the book and also one of the main characters of the book is not in the tv series. Every chapter of the book was written from a different perspective, alternating between Clarke, Wells, Bellamy and Glass. I like how Morgan used Glass to show what life on the ship was like, but I would have loved to see more of that. I did really enjoy this book while I was reading it, but at the same time I realised I didn't think it was a great book. I thought the book would focus more on how the kids had to survive on earth and the group dynamics, but instead it was more of a romance with a lot of high school drama.
From the beginning of the story Clarke seemed like a strong person, on the contrary to the beginning of the tv series. I liked her in the beginning, but at the end I thought she was just 'okay' because of all her boy drama.
Througout the book you slowly discover why all of the characters were in prison, and this was the most interesting part of the book. When I discovered some of the things Wells had done however, I was really annoyed with him. He thought that just because he wanted to save a girl he loved, who could perfectly take care of herself, he should just endanger what is left of the entire human race. For me he was not relatable at all.
The language used in this book is quite simplistic which made it a very quick read. There doesn't seem to be a central plotline that is resolved at the end of the book. The book seems more of a build-up for future books. The ending was rather dissapointing. Although some discoveries are made they are sudden and there was no build up towards them what so ever. I get the feeling like the author thinks this is a 'cliff hanger', but it's really not. The book felt just incomplete and it did not make me especially excited to read the next book. Eventhough it was a pleasant read, I am not sure yet if I wil continue with this series.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Series I won't finish...

Usually I finish series, because when I already invested in the first book I feel like it has been a waste of my time if I do not read the others in the series. Hardly ever do I quit reading a book if I do not like it. There are some exceptions to these rules however, these series are all ones I do not plan on continuing...

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)
The Immortal series by Alyson Noel
I honestly don't remember why I didn't like it that much. It wasn't horrible, it just didn't leave any lasting impression. 
Shatter me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
This choice I feel is quite controversial. So many people seem to LOVE this series. I read the first book and at the beginning I was really excited because I thought it would be very original, but I was dissapointed. I didn't like how passive the main character was in her own life. 

The Awakening and The Struggle (The Vampire Diaries, #1-2)The vampire diaries series by L.J. Smith
Some years ago I started watching the tv series The Vampire diaries and really enjoyed it so I decided to pick up the book. I read the first two books, but then I stopped. The books were nothing like the series. All the reasons why I loved the tv series so much seemed to be absent in the book. I don't watch the tv show anymore and I have no desire to pick up a series that I enjoyed a lot less.

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)The Shiver trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater
The first time I read Shiver was during eight grade. At the time I really loved it, but I didn't continue with the series. When I reread the first book some years later  to see if I wanted to continue the series I was really bored. Where first I thought the writing was very beautiful I now found it to be full of clichés and weird sentence structures. 

Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking
12133821The first of this trilogy, Switched, was actually okay. I did pretty much enjoy it but I found the ending to be a bit weird. I just felt like the story wasn't at all that original and I was constantly reminded of other books eventhough I have never read a book witht the same plot. The main character is a troll, but she looks hardly different from humans. Pretty much the only thing distinguishing her from humans was the fact that she had a psychic ability. It seemed like the aurhor only choose to call her a troll because that is someting very few authors wrtite about and not because she had an interesting take on trolls. A lot of the other characters in the book are unnecessarily mean to Wendy or annoying.

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, #1)Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore
Fallen (Fallen, #1)Many people seem to love this series, but for me this was one of the very few books ever that I did not finish. I read about half of the book, but the main character lacked personality and the insta love was just a huge turn off. 

Fallen series by Lauren Kate
I actually really enjoyed reading the first book in this series quite some years ago. I just think my taste in books has changed, I don't really like angel book that much anymore, and I do not have a desire to continue with the series.

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)Across the universe trilogy by Beth Revis
The plot of the first book sounded great, but when I picked it up I was highly dissapointed. One of the main characters, the girl (I don't even remember her name) acted very young for her age and she was very whiny. Both she and the other main character Elder didn't really seem to have a personality and to me they weren't relatable. When the one character I liked killed himself I was just done with this book.

The mortal instruments series by Cassandra Clare is a series I don't yet know it I will continue reading it or not.The first book I really enjoyed, but the second one I didn't like that much. It seemed like it was only building up for the next book and nothing was really happening. If the third books is going to be like the second I have no desire to read it, but if it will be as good again as the first book I might really enjoy it! I don't know yet...

Do you always finish series? What are series you do not intend to finish?

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Short story Saturday #2

To encourage myself (and maybe others) to write more, I will post a prompt every saturday to write a short story. From time to time I will share what I have written, and if you have written something based on the prompt do leave a comment, I'm curious as to what you would have written.

This week's prompt:

An old woman steals a world famous painting in the middle of the night after she receives a letter from a stranger.

Some questions to get you started:
Who is the woman? Why did she steal the painting? Did she get caught? Who send the letter? What is in the letter? What does she plan to do with the painting?

Friday, 9 January 2015

Review - The fellowship of the ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

423092Genre: fantasy, classics, adventure
Pages: 495
Rating: 5/5 stars


One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

My thoughts
I have read this book two times before when I was a lot younger. In my memory the story was very slow paced and at the time it took me very long to read. It might just not have been the right time to read it, because now that I read it again I went through it really fast. I love the world that Tolkien has created. The Hobbit was a nice introduction to this world, but in The lord of the Rings the world seems so much more fleshed out. In the book there are a lot of references to things that happened in the history of Middle Earth which made me feel like it was really a world that once existed.
The main character Frodo is quite interesting and not a typical hero. He is definitely a brave person, but he is also spoiled and a little naive and cannot always manage on his own. He does have a bit of a black & white view of the world, but it didn't bother me, because the other characters in the book didn't all share that view. All the characters in this book were very different and it was easy to distinguish between who was saying what.
One of the guys that follows Frodo on his quest, Sam, transforms quite wonderfully throughout the book. Or maybe it has more to do with the way he is described and you slowly find that there is more to him than meets the eye. In the beginning he just seems like a very loyal person who wants to follow Frodo everywhere and who is mostly excited to see the elves, as though he isn't really aware of the real danger the hobbits are in. Throughout the book he proves himself to be the most sceptic of all the characters, and very often this sceptism proves to be just.
The book starts out quit light, but slowly builds up and gets darker as Frodo and his companions come to realise more and more what it is they are dealing with. Pippin is one of Frodo's friends who seems very naive at times, but the manages to lighten up the story in times when it gets dark. Tom Bombadil is one of my favorite characters. He is a little strange, but that is exactly what I liked about him. It would have liked to see him in the movie of the book as well, but sadly he is not.
Tolkien's  writing style might not be the most accesible, but I really enjoyed this book and I can't really think of anything I did not like about it. I can't wait to read some of Tolkien's other stories!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Review V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd

5805Genre: science fiction, dystopian
Pages: 296
Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary from Goodreads
A frightening and powerful tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world, V for Vendetta stands as one of the highest achievements of the comics medium and a defining work for creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Set in an imagined future England that has given itself over to fascism, this groundbreaking story captures both the suffocating nature of life in an authoritarian police state and the redemptive power of the human spirit which rebels against it. Crafted with sterling clarity and intelligence, V for Vendetta brings an unequaled depth of characterization and verisimilitude to its unflinching account of oppression and resistance.

My thoughts
I watched the movie based on this novel with my sociology class in high school. It really stayed with me and I hoped to one day read the graphic novel as well. Now that I've read it I think the movie is even stronger, but it is definitely a great story. It really deals with some heavy themes such as oppression and the cruelties of war. The movie made me feel more for the characters, I thought Natalie Portman portrait Evey splendidly. In the book she seems somewhat too naive and innocent at 16 and have grown up in such a harsh world without her parents. I personally need at least one character in the book that I really connect with or feel for in order for the book to be amazing and I felt that that was the most important things that was lacking in the book. I loved how the character V represents an idea and that it is emphasized that it is not important who the person behind the mask is. Watching the movie I was a little annoyed that we never really got to see the face behind the mask, but the novel handled this better. I had a bit of trouble keeping apart all the bad guys, but apart from that the book was great. At some point you really start to feel like you are going crazy because you can't really make sense of what is going on in the book. This is not a bad thing, since it is obviously intended and I thought it was excecuted really well. It is really a novel that doesn't have just good guys and bad guys. Pretty much all the characters (except one or two) are in the gray area.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Short story Saturday #1

To encourage myself (and maybe others) to write more, I will post a prompt every saturday to write a short story. Maybe from time to time I will share what I have written, and if you have written something based on the prompt do leave a comment, I'm curious as to what you would have written.

This week's prompt:

His grandfather handed him a strange looking book and told him not to show it to anyone. He gave him the adress of a place by the name 'The Curtain'. He needed to go there right away to pass the book on to someone else. The person who was supposed to pick up the book would approach him and say 'They say tonight is as good as any'.

Some questions to get you started:
What does the book contain? Why must it remain a secret? Who is the person he is suposed to hand the book over to? What kind of place is 'The Curtain'?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

To a new year full of books

Happy new year!

'May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.'
                                                                                                                            - Neil Gaiman

I hope to read many great books this year. I am setting myself the challenge on Goodreads to read 45 books. That is five more books than I set out to read in 2014 and it is the number I actually ended up reading. It is only a little bit higher than my goal of last year, because I want to encourage myself to read and not make it feel like a task that needs to get done. I do have some particular books that I would like to read:
- A book in a language other than English or Dutch
- A book in Dutch
- Poetry
- A non fiction book
- Finish The lord of the rings

Apart from reading I also hope to be writing more in the coming year. To encourage myself to write more I am setting myself the challenge to write one short story each week. Every week I will try to post a prompt, to hopefully inspire others to also start writing. These posts will be posted on saturdays.

What are your plans for the coming year?