Thursday, 27 August 2015

Movie Review - Boy 7

A trailer with English subtitles can be watched here.

When Sam regains consciousness in the middle of a crowded subway, he doesn't know how he got there, where he came from nor his own name. He franticly searches for his identity, using the contents of his backpack. Slowly but surely he realizes his life is in great danger.

Together with my friend Sophie I watched Boy 7, a movie based on the book by Mirjam Mous. I don't really tend to watch a lot of Dutch movies, since they don't make a lot of fantasy or sci-fi movies, but when I heard about the making of a Dutch young adult sci-fi movie I knew I had to watch it. The movie is certainly not as epic as some other young adult sci-fi movies that are out there, like The Hunger Games or Divergent, but that isn't strange considering a much smaller budget to make this movie. Still, it was a lot of fun to watch. The main caracter Sam was played very well, and eventhough hack coach Marit only appears a couple of times I also really liked her. The ending of the movie was sound, but a little too rushed for my liking. It was fun to see an imagined version of my country in the future, but I would have loved to see more of what the country looked like by then!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Review - Lydia's Secret by Finn Zetterholm

13549899Genre: childrens, historical, fantasy
Pages: 316
Rating: 4/5
Original language: Swedish
Translations: Italian, Dutch

Lydia is twelve and lives with her parents in Stockholm. She is crazy about art and can draw incredibly well.

One day Lydia is sketching in the park, when a bird steals her pencil. She is so flustered that she forgets her sketchbook in the park. When she returns the next day someone has written a message in it: 18 september, 15.00 hours.
The unknown messenger turns out to be a boy who tells her to 'take good care of her hands, because they are very special'. Lydia doesn't really know what to think of this.

The next day she visits the national museum with her grandfather. When Lydia accidently touches a painting by Rembrandt, she disappears into a black hole. She wakes up in the world of Rembrandt, the year 1658. The only thing Julia has with her, are her sketchbook and her pencil.

This is the beginning of an amazing journey through the world of art. Lydia meets famous artists like Velázquez, Leonardo da Vinci, Edgard Degas, William Turner en Salvador Dalí. From every artist Lydia learns something new.

But how does she get back to the 21st century? The secret is in Lydia's hands...

My thoughts
Lydia's Secret has been described as Sophie's World about art history. I really enjoyed Sophie's World, so the comparisson made me curious about this book as well. While reading this book I definitely noticed some similarities between the two books, both have a curious Swedish girl as the main character and both books are fiction but include information on a certain topic. However, there are also some differences. Lydia's Secret focusses more on the adventure Lydia is having and the magical aspect to it, whereas in Sophie's World the deliverance of information on philosophy is more prominent. This makes Lydia's Secret accesible for a younger audience, since the educational aspect is not too prominent. The book also reminded me a little of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, where things can escape from books and can enter them, and Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman, where a boy travels back in time and accidently ends up in the time of the crusades.
From every painter Lydia meets you learn what age he lived in, what kind of life he lead, distinct personality traits and some aspects of his paintings that stand out. Personally I'm fascinated by Leonardo da Vinci, so I would have loved to read a little more about him, but for others who might not be as interested the amount of information might have been enough. I think overal there was a nice balance between information and entertainment.The painters only appeared in the book for a short while, but they definitely had distinct personalities. Almost all of the painters immediately take Lydia with her eventhough they hardly know her, and this was the only part of the book that felt a little unrealistic. When she wore strange clothes and said she was from the future I would have thought that the painters would think her truely crazy, but instead they were all easily convinced she wasn't that crazy after all.
I think Lydia's character could have been a little more well-rounded, because I still feel like all I know about her is that she loves to draw and loves her grandfather, but I did like the relationship she had with her grandfather and how adventurous the story was.
Lydia travels to the time of a certain painter by touching one of his paintings. At first it seemed a little cliché, but when it was mentioned that because of this she could only travel backwards in time (because at a certain time she can only encounter paintings that have been painted before that time) I truely felt like the author really thought the traveling in time trough.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Short Story Saturday #10

A prompt a week to encourage myself and maybe others to write more even when we don't have any inspiration!

This week's prompt:

A building collapses with people inside.

Who are the people? What building is it?

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Reading multiple books at a time

A couple of days ago my currently reading list on Goodreads looked like this:

I don't know what happens, but somehow I always start reading a new book when I'm already reading a couple of others. Every now and then I think it gets to crazy and I try to narrow it down. Once I have reached 2 books the number of books that I'm reading slowly starts to increase again.

I know I should stop reading so many books at the same time, but somehow I never do. When the list is this long I often feel a little stress to narrow it down again, because I have a couple of unread books lying around that I'm dying to start, but I want to narrow down my list first, so I have to finish at least five books before I can start the one I really want to read. That truely is my problem, the books I like to read really depend on my mood and since my mood can change rather quickly I have sometimes already lost a little bit of my intial interest in the book I'm currently reading but I have gotten really excited about a new book, so I end up adding another book to my currently reading pile.

I did just finish Kinderen van Nederland, so I have only five more books on the list, but that still seems daunting. Genom dina Ögon (The Host in Swedish) I started reading a long time ago (almost a year!) to practice my Swedish. I can definitely read the story, but I'm still a very slow reader in Swedish. Why on earth I thought it was a good idea to have the second book I read in Swedish be a 600 page book, I have no idea. I've read about a third of the book, so at this rate it wil take me a total of three years to finish the book, haha! I think the next time I read a book in Swedish I should pick something shorter and also something easier, to keep it fun. Now it has just become a struggle.
Dark Entries I also started a while ago, but since these are short stories I don't really have such a hard time picking this book up again. I have read the majority of the stories, so it looks like I'm finally reaching the end, woohooo!
Pogingen iets van het leven te maken really grabbed me in the beginning, but after a while I was starting to feel like I was just reading more of the same. It isn't a difficult read, so I should just get on with it and finish it already.
A Feast for Crows, like any other Martin book, is taking forever to read. Somehow I find Martin's book really hard to read quickly. I am getting better though! The first book in the series took me about two years to finish, the second book took about a year and the third book I finished in about half a year, so that would mean it will take me 3 months in total to read this one! I don't think that's going to happen, but I definitely hope so!
Eragon is the newest addition to the list. It is an easy read, but because I'm not reading it for the first time I don't find it as interesting as before and it is hard to keep paying attention to this book. I wanted to reread this book so I remembered better what happened, before I would start reading the sequel. I just need to find my enthousiasm for this book again...

I do feel like it should be possible to finish one or two books pretty soon, but I fear especially Genom dina Ögon will be on my currently reading pile for a long while to come!

Do you read multiple books at the same time? How do you make sure it doesn't get too crazy?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Review - The Lily Pond by Annika Thor

10338850Genre: historical, childrens, teen
Pages: 224
Rating: 4.5 /5
Original language: Swedish
Translations: English, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, German, Russian

A year after Stephie Steiner and her younger sister, Nellie, left Nazi-occupied Vienna, Stephie has finally adapted to life on the rugged Swedish island where she now lives. But more change awaits Stephie: her foster parents have allowed her to enroll in school on the mainland, in Goteberg. Stephie is eager to go. Not only will she be pursuing her studies, she'll be living in a cultured city again—under the same roof as Sven, the son of the lodgers who rented her foster parents' cottage for the summer.
Five years her senior, Sven dazzles Stephie with his charm, his talk of equality, and his anti-Hitler sentiments. Stephie can't help herself—she's falling in love. As she navigates a sea of new emotions, she also grapples with what it means to be beholden to others, with her constant worry about what her parents are enduring back in Vienna, and with the menacing spread of Nazi ideology, even in Sweden. In these troubled times, her true friends, Stephie discovers, are the ones she least expected.

My thoughts
Eventhough this book is technichally the second book in a series, it can be read seperately. I have not read the first book and this did not lead to any confusion. I read this book for the fist time when I was about twelve and I remember thinking it a very good book, so I was interested to revisit the story and to see if I still felt the same way. I do enjoy reading some childrens stories, but I don't always feel like I'm really submerged in the story. The Lily Pond on the other hand was really gripping and I found myself relating to Stephie a lot. I think for children this book is both entertaining and educational.

A theme in this book is the second world war and usually I also don't really connect to those kind of stories, because to me they seem very distant and it is hard to imagine the true horrors of the war if you have neaver lived it yourself. Also most books tend to focus a lot on the large effects the war has on people. In this case the author did a great job of incorporating many small details of the war without them overtaking the plotline and this made it easy to relate to the main character and feel for her, eventhough I am in a very different situation than Stephie. Most books I have read about the second world war are set in a country where people are actually fighting, so it was interesting to read from a little different perspective. The book raises the question how countries that are not participating in war should deal with fugitives and the war in general, and with everything that is going on right now in the Middle East and Africa this question is again very relevant.

The book deals a lot with loneliness and Thor does a great job of truely making you feel lonely. I loved how towards the end of the book you find out that there are actually people who understood Stephie all along. Stephie's friendship with May is really heartwarming, May is a friend I think we all like to have. She doesn't follow the crowd, has her own opinions and sticks up for Stephie when no one else does. Different teachers in the story represented different opinions on the war and I am glad that Thor included both 'bad' and 'good' teachers. Aunt Marta, who takes Stephie in when she first arrives in Sweden, is one of those mother figures that seems harsh and strict at first, but you know that she loves Stephie like she is her own daughter and would do anything for her. Aunt Marta is part of the Pentecostal church, and eventhough this only plays a small part in the story I appreciated that there are both nice and not so nice people part of the church as well as nice and not so nice people who are not part of the church. To often when religion is included it is only done to vent the authors own believes, but Thor gives the reader the space to believe what he or she wants.

Stephie herself is thirteen year and the author truely made her seem like she was 13. In other books I often have problems with teenagers appearing younger or older than they are in reality, but here this was not the case. Stephie could sometimes be very mature, but she still needed a mother figure which I thought was very realistic. In the book she deals with first love, which was cute, but since she was only 13 I am glad it didn't turn into anything more.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Short Story Saturday #9

A prompt a week to encourage myself and maybe others to write more even when we don't have any inspiration!

This week's prompt:

A little boy eats an enchanted mushroom.

What happens when he eats it?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Mini review - Seaglassing by Nathan Smith

Genre: comic, fantasy
Pages: 24
Rating: 4/5
Author's blog

Seaglassing is a lighthearted tale inspired by the shores of Lake Erie. This story is about a seaglasser (someone who combs the sand and pebbles on a beach to find weathered fragments of old glass) who is slowly making her way along the water's edge when she suddenly encounters a mythical creature.

The first half of the book contains the story, and the second half of the book is a Seaglass Journal that explores pieces of the world introduced in the comic.

My thoughts
I bought this comic via Etsy from the author who independently published it. I love collecting things on the beach, so the subject of this story really spoke to me. The first part of the book, that contains the story, does not have any text, but the second part of the book, the Seaglass Journall, does. Eventhough there are no words, the story is easy to follow and it is a lovely and short story. The drawings are simple, but have a nice color scheme. I alwasy love seeing art journals and sketchbooks and that was what the second part of this book reminded me of.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Top 10 - Classics

331. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have attempted to read this book many times. It took me a very long time to get into it. Every time I got stuck somewhere, put the book down and stopped reading it for a very long while. When I picked up the book again I would start over, and everytime I got a little further into the book. Eventhough the book was sometimes a struggle to read it was also very rewarding. I love how immensely detailed the world is that J.R.R. Tolkien created. Because of this it truely feels like Middle Earth has existed long before the book begins and continues long after the story has finished.

2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

18113445One of my favorite childhood books, this book will always be amongst my favorite classics as well. This book has a special place in my heart because it truely made me fall in love with reading. Also I gained an appreciation of the outdoors because of this book.

3. The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

Another childhood favorite. This Dutch classic was translated into English about two years ago which made me very happy. This book really made me fall in love with the fantasy genre. The setting is sort of medieval and the main character gets an assignment from a knight which has him traveling to another country.

69694. Emma by Jane Austen

84979I always have a hard time picking my favorite Jane Austen novel. I love Pride and Prejudice and Emma almost equally, but at the moment I love Emma just a little more. Eventhough Emma Woodhouse has many flaws she still is a very likeable character and it was hard not to root for her.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favorite literary characters. She is smart and not afraid to say what she is thinking. She is very honest and she is also not afraid to admit that she is wrong. Eventhough the book was written long ago it still succeeds at being witty.

59076. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Since The Hobbit was written before The Lord of the Rings and it is a childrens book it does not yet contain such a detailed world as in the later books, but the story already introduces you to an interesting world that is very promising and the story itself is very adventurous. I read this one when I already was a little older, but I am sure that I would also have loved it if I had read it when I was younger.

7. The Tintin graphic novels by Hergé

When I was younger I loved reading the Tintin graphic novels and recently I have sort of rediscovered them. They are very adventurous and those are precisely the kind of stories I like. My favorite Tintin novels are probably Explorers on the Moon and The Secret of the Unicorn.

203426558. Krabat & the Sorcerer's Mill by Otfried Preußler

2647293I have read this book many times and everytime this book managed to creep me out. The story is scary in its simplicity. The fact that the boys cannot leave the mill always made me feel very uncomfortable.

9. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

When I was younger I probably wouldn't have loved this book, but thanks to the Tim Burton movie adaptation (which is very different from the book though), I can appreciate this book in al its crazyness. If you want a coherent story this book is probably not for you, but I find it a weird but enjoyable read.

5149610. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Rovert Louis Stevenson

When I picked up this novella at the library I wasn't really expecting all that much from it, and maybe that's the reason why I ended up enjoying it so much. The story felt sort of 'comfortable creepy', the idea of the book is creepy, but it was never really scary.

The next classics I hope to read are The Catcher in the Rye, The Time Machine and stories by Jules Verne. They have been on my shelves for ages. I also have to admit that I never read any Narnia stories, so I also need to do something about that...

Do you like reading classics? What are your favorites?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Mini review - Europan by Nathan Smith

Genre: comic, science fiction, fantasy
Pages: 24
Rating: 4/5
Author's blog

Europan is a science fiction story about two astronauts exploring the Jupiter's moon Europa. As they make great strides for humanity under the icy crust of this alien place, the love and discoveries these explorers share changes their lives!

My thoughts
I bought this comic via Etsy along with some others by the same author. This independently published comic is short but lovely. The drawings are colorful and simple, but they convey the story very nicely. The drawings very much look like they have been made on the computer, but somehow that works pretty well. The text in this comic is more like a poem than a piece of prose.The story reads quickly and is very imaginative.