Sunday, 30 December 2012

Reading Challenge Addict

Yes, I'm an addict, and I'm proud of it.

My name is Listra and I'm joining several reading challenges. Perhaps I'm going to add more. Any recommendation, anyone?

Here's the list:

  • Narrative Poem Reading Challenge 2013
  • Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2013
  • 2013 TBR Pile Challenge
  • Book on France Reading Challenge
  • Children Literature Event
  • 2013 European Reading Challenge
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2013

Six challenges all right. Let's hope I'll be able to add some more during the year.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Book Kaleidoscope 2012: Day 3, Top Five Most Favourite Book

I skip the second day, since I read mostly ebook, and I didn't really choose the covers well, so just forget that. Now the third day theme is more interesting for me, since there are books that I really love from my reading this year. I will pick only 5 of them, and I hope this will be easier than picking up 5 boyfriends out of countless amazing men in the books I read.

Let's start!

5. Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Ramin Karimloo as Phantom
I actually read it! It's a wonderful story about a genius whose physical qualities are not as good as the quality of his brain. It's touching and a bit scary, but overall, I'm in love with the air that dominates the novel: the air of music and the air of darkness.

4. Odyssey by Homer

Odysseus and Penelope by Primaticcio
Again, it's amazing. Actually I was a bit scared by Homer and other Greek authors since they are so old. But thanks to the brilliant translation and also to my lecturer and my friends from mythology class, I can enjoy the book. Odyssey is actually quite an adventure. Besides, I love the lady Penelope, who shows both loyalty and intelligence, thus proving herself worthy of being the wife of Odysseus.

3. Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

Pompeo Batoni's painting depicting Antony's death
Anything featuring Antony must be in the list. I don't put Julius Caesar because this year I was merely re-reading the play, but Antony and Cleopatra is something very new to me. I was surprised to read how stupid people can be when they are in love. Yet Antony is still charming with his qualities as military general, and also as a loyal friend. Cleopatra's character is a little bit shocking, though.

2. The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas

The Four Musketeers in 2011 Film
The four musketeers are amazing. They are utterly amazing. These books must be in the list of 'best adventure books ever' or something like that. When you read the book, you forget all the problems in the world and you just read. You imagine doing and seeing things and being part of the book yourself. I experienced express-reading when reading these two novels.

1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables 2000 mini-series
You know it must be here. It must get the first place. Les Miserables is a masterpiece. I've been talking about Les Mis everywhere since the day I started reading it. The book invites all kind of emotion from the readers. It demands the reader to feel agony, pain, disappointment, love, loneliness, treachery, anger, enthusiasm, and hope. Reading once is not enough. I will read it again one day.

So, these are the books I love the most from this year's reading. Can't wait to read yours.  

Friday, 28 December 2012

Weekend Quote #25

The day will come, citizens, when all will be concord, harmony, light, joy and life; it will come, and it is in order that it may come that we are about to die.

Enjolras. He's the one who says the sentence. It was in the barricade. He had just killed somebody, and he admitted that killing people is an ugly business. But then he closed his words with this sentence, sparking hope to his friends that were going to die.

I cannot help thinking about the musical when I read this sentence for the second time. (I am fond of re-reading the parts I like from the book I've just read.) Enjolras is a man of great ideas, great hope, and great spirit. He's like a blazing light from a lightning, followed by the loud voice of thunder.

But I love the sound of hope in that sentence. For Les Amis, their death means something. For them, what they did in the barricade was sacrifice for the future. They dreamed of a world that would rise from the ashes of their bodies. It's actually very sad that the world they dreamed about never came.

That's my quote for this week. Kind of sappy quote, right? Hope I will have some better, lighter quote next week. Want to share yours?

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Character Thursday: Silvia

Another strong woman character from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona. (I start wondering what kind of women Shakespeare knew or liked while he lived.)

Silvia is the daughter of Duke of Milan. She is beautiful and virtuous, but her father wants to marry her to Thurio, a man she doesn't like. Meanwhile, another boy, Valentine, that is, loves her as well, and she returns that love. But the father doesn't approve. Learning that Valentine is going to take Silvia away, the enraged Duke banishes Valentine.

Alfred Elmore, Scene from "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" (1857)
Proteus, Valentine's friend who is equally in love with Silvia, tells her that Valentine is dead. But the girl doesn't believe a bit of it, and decides to follow her beloved no matter what.

What I love from Silvia is her constancy and loyalty to Valentine. It's good to read about a girl whose “No” means “No” and not “try to get me” sort-of stuff. The way she reacts to Proteus' flirtatious comments is also very much to my liking. She makes it clear that she doesn't like him and that she abhors his infidelity towards his lover, Julia.

“You have your wish; my will is even this:
That presently you hie you home to bed.
Thou subtle, perjured, false, disloyal man!
Think'st thou I am so shallow, so conceitless,
To be seduced by thy flattery,
That hast deceived so many with thy vows?
Return, return, and make thy love amends.
For me, by this pale queen of night I swear,
I am so far from granting thy request
That I despise thee for thy wrongful suit,
And by and by intend to chide myself
Even for this time I spend in talking to thee.”

I like Silvia better than Julia. She is like a marble pillar to me. A little proud, perhaps, but she proves herself worthy of praise.

That's my character for this Thursday.

Book Kaleidoscope 2012: Day 1, Top Five Book Boyfriends

Now, Fanda's BookKaleidoscope forces me to write some fangirling materials in this blog. Ehm, I usually choose Tumblr to fangirl, or at least Twitter. But this post is an exception.

Top five book boyfriends sounds tempting enough. I've read not very much this year, but at least I can say that I have more than 5 boys to like, and at least 5 to love. Choosing favourite characters is a hard job, really. You start to feel like a judge in heart-stealing contest of some sort. But here we are.

Athos a.k.a Comte de la Fere

If I have to choose between the musketeers, I'd choose him. He dashingly appears in the novel, and stays so during the two novels that I have read. He outsmarts his friends and opponents, he is a good general and also a desperate lover at the same time. He's loving and loyal, with huge sense of honour, that sometimes costs him much.

Edmond Dantes a.k.a Monte Cristo

Need I say more? I have loved him for several years now. He's a naïve fellow who turns into a charming angel for his friends and terrible demon for his enemies. He's a genius, a proud genius, who once “like Satan thought himself for an instant equal to God”. His life is an adventure, a war, and a game, but he is given happiness in the end.

Mark Antony

If there's anyone I like in Julius Caesar, it is Antony. If there's anyone I like in Antony and Cleopatra, it is Antony. The reason I love him in Julius Caesar is his renown speech. It's a wonderful work of art. The reason why I love him in Antony and Cleopatra is his kindness towards Pompey and Enobarbus. There's something in him that is grander than Octavius or even Julius. He remains a great figure for me.


For those who wonder who he is, well, read Les Miserables. I don't even understand what makes me love him this much. He's not even a major character. But I like his dedication for what he believes in. He has his mind so focused on a goal that he hardly cares about anything else. He is described not as “Cherubino,” a lovey-dovey kid in Marriage of Figaro, but rather as the “angel of Ezekiel,” a mighty angel blazing as fire. His death is sad but beautiful. He dies for what he believes in. (And then I care no more about Marius.)

King Richard the Lion-Hearted

This king from Walter Scott's Ivanhoe really get into my heart since the first time I read the book. Come on, who wouldn't like a knight in black armour, winning each tournament he runs into, and turns out to be the first man in the country? I am actually torn between this king and the other unofficial king, Robin Hood, that is. But I don't really like the version of Robin I read this year so, let's stick to Richard.

The next guy is special, because he is not a boyfriend to me. No, no. This guy is older and more mature, and I think I will have him as something else. This way, I still don't break the rule and only take 5 to be my boyfriends. :p

Jean Valjean

Can I have him as my grandpa? He's such a nice man. Despite what he has done in the past, he changes. He tries hard to be a better man. He learns through his life the most important things. He shows love, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. He's a man with a big heart. His death dries out my eyes.

So, to sum up: this year I've been in love with mostly Frenchmen! Don't understand how such thing could happen. Four out of six are French, one is Roman, the other British (sort of). Five of six are old, one is quite my age. Four of five have experience of killing somebody, one doesn't. Three of them have bad experience with a lover, three don't even have any girlfriend. Well, I can't even figure out their similarities.

I hope I will be able to find people like them next year.  

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Narrative Poem Reading Challenge: Master Post

Right! Here's the Master Post of Narrative Poem Reading Challenge 2013. For those who are interested and are not signed up yet, please go to this post andjoin us. The more the merrier, yay!

During the year, we can discuss the poems via Twitter, with tweets tagged #NPRC13. I will post the updates via Twitter, so you can follow @museforsaken for information. Please feel free to share your thoughts and impressions on the poems.

Happy reading!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Weekend Quote #24

“Cease to lament for that thou canst not help,
And study help for that which thou lament'st.”

This quote is taken from Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona that I have just finished lately. I like this quote in spite of the one who says it and the motive behind that saying.

It's a nice idea to remember that lamenting over something usually doesn't help much. It doesn't mean that it's wrong to be sad over something bad, but to be overly sad over something is never good. The first line of the quote reminds us that there are things we cannot change in the world, and grieving over it doesn't change the fact. But the second line suggests that there are things we can mend still, and for those things it is better to act than to grieve over it.

That's my quote for the week. Please share yours with me. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: The Main Plot Doesn't Really Matter

What matters most is of course the comedy. Yup, Speed and Launce get all the spotlight here, while the plot itself is not really amusing, at least for me.

Valentine and Proteus are two young gentlemen living in the Italian city of Verona (the same city where Romeo and Juliet lived). They are both close and loyal friends – at first. Proteus is in love with a girl named Julia who lives in town. Meanwhile, Valentine goes away to Milan to serve the duke there, and fall in love with his daughter, Silvia.

Being sent by his father, Proteus finds himself with his friend again in Milan. There the young man falls in love with Silvia too. He devises a plan to get rid of his competitors: Valentine, and another man named Thurio. Proteus tells the Duke that Valentine is planning to take Silvia away, and the poor man is banished shortly after.

Valentine Rescues Silvia in 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' 
by Angelica Kaufmann
Silvia is not impressed. She abhors Proteus' betrayal and infidelity, and she openly says so to both Proteus and his new servant, Sebastian. Wait, why does Sebastian look very much like Julia? Silvia then goes away to Mantua to look for her lover in his exile. Proteus goes after her and tries to rape her. But Valentine interferes.

At the end, everyone's happy. That's why we call it a comedy.

But as I said before, I'm much more impressed by the witty comical scenes featuring the two clowns, Speed and Launce. Here are some of them:

SPEED. How now, Signior Launce! What news with your mastership?
LAUNCE. With my master's ship? Why, it is at sea.
SPEED. Well, your old vice still: mistake the word. What news, then, in your paper?
LAUNCE. The black'st news that ever thou heard'st.
SPEED. Why, man? how black?
LAUNCE. Why, as black as ink.

And more.

SPEED. What an ass art thou! I understand thee not.
LAUNCE. What a block art thou that thou canst not! My staff understands me.
SPEED. What thou say'st?
LAUNCE. Ay, and what I do too; look thee, I'll but lean, and my staff understands me.
SPEED. It stands under thee, indeed.
LAUNCE. Why, stand-under and under-stand is all one.

Well, I must say that this play doesn't really amuse me as much as other comedies, but it's pretty nice. I think they should make the No Fear Shakespeare version to make it easier to read, though. So many puns have lost their meanings nowadays, that it's so difficult to really understand them without help.  

Friday, 14 December 2012

Weekend Quote #23

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

This weekend I choose a quote of simple logic. Sherlock Holmes, one of the best logicians in literature history states those words in one of Doyle's novel, The Sign of Four. Do you agree with that?

Well, in one of the classes I attended, the lecturer used this same quote to teach us the power of elimination in logic. We do this all the time. For example, when we have to answer a multiple choice question such as, “Who is the author of Les Miserables?” and choose between Shakespeare, J K Rowling, Hugo and Verdi, while we have no idea at all who the author is, we can just eliminate all the “impossibles”. Verdi didn't write a novel, he's a composer. Shakespeare didn't write in French, they say his French was not good. Rowling is still living, while the author of Les Mis must have been dead already, given the fact that the novel is so old. It leaves out Hugo.

We may not know who Hugo is, but if we know a little bit about the others, we can still answer rhe question with acceptable degree of certainty. (I did this all the time in High School, with Latin-derived words and Greek symbols in Science classes.)

That's the quote for this weekend. Anything you'd like to share?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Review Request: At Drake's Command

At Drake's Command
The Adventures of Peregrine James during the Second Circumnavigation of the World
Author: David Wesley Hill
Publisher: Temurlone Press | New York |
Format: 5.5 x 8.5 Trade Paperback
Pages: 424
ISBN-10: 0983611726
ISBN-13: 978-0-9836117-2-1
Publication Date: November 15, 2012
Cover Art: "The Golden Hinde off New Albion" by Simon Kozhin
Contact: for order information or: 347.452.8784

This is a beautiful, beautiful novel. I must admit I was a bit hesitant reading it since it's a “modern” book and I'm more accustomed with classics. I also am not really familiar with Drake except with his reputation as excellent captain and renown pirate. But, I read it all the same, because I am fond of sea adventures.

It's the story of Peregrine James, or called Perry James, a cook from Plymouth. After having been sentenced for stealing, he joins the Pelican, one of Drake's ship in his famous circumnavigation journey. There he becomes the least boy in the ship, but his character wins him the general's favour.

Before leaving England for the sea, he meets Dr. Dee, a master of decryption and palmistry among other things, who warns Perry of the dangers that he must face in his journey. Dr. Dee only gives vague explanation on this subject, namely “the ocean of sand, the sea of silver, and the mountain of fire.”

Aboard Drake's ship, many things are new to Perry. He must face a less capable senior, corrupt people, and stern masters. Seeing him facing all these difficulties while having a tour along the coast of Africa is quite an experience. I cannot wait to read more about him.

About the book itself. I am amazed to read so many details of sea journey. Even the historical preface of the book impresses me. The author has taken so much pain to be as accurate as possible historically, and I really appreciate that. The description of the life aboard is also fascinating. I like to imagine things as I read, and this book helps me a lot in doing so.

The author also strives to be balanced between the opinion of the crews regarding non-English races and also the fact about them. The description of the Moor being a good example of it. The patriotism common in that era is also portrayed satisfactorily.

If you are fond of sea adventure or pirates story, or if you are fond of history in general, not mentioning a fan of Drake himself, this is a book that deserves your attention.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Read and Reviewed

The list of books I have read and reviewed since I started this blog. From now on, I will put them all here.

Aristophanes - Thesmophoriazusae (2015)

Blyton, Enid - Five on a Treasure Island (2013)
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre (2014)
Burnett, F. H - The Secret Garden (2013)
Burnett, F. H - A Little Princess (2016)

Calderon, Pedro - Life is a Dream (2015)

Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe (2013)
Dumas, Alexandre - The Count of Monte Cristo (2012)
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers (2012)
Dumas, Alexandre - Twenty Years After (2012)

Euripides - The Trojan Women (2013)

Fitzgerald, F. Scott - This Side of Paradise (2013)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby (2013)

Green, John - The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Hammett, Dashiell - The Maltese Falcon (2013)
Hill, David Wesley - At Drake's Command (2012)
Homer - Odyssey (2012)
Hugo, Victor - Les Miserables (2012)

Leroux, Gaston - Phantom of the Opera (2012)
Leblanc, Maurice - Eight Strokes of the Clock (2013)
Leblanc, Maurice - The Hollow Needle (2013)

Marlowe, Christopher - Dido, Queen of Carthage (2013)
Marlowe, Christopher - The Jew of Malta (2014)
Milton, John - Areopagitica (2012)
Mortimer, Ian - Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England (2015)

Puzo, Mario - The Godfather (2013)
Pyle, Howard - The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (2012)

Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac (2013)

Sabatini, Rafael - Captain Blood (2013)
Sabatini, Rafael - Scaramouche (2014)
Scott, Sir Walter - Ivanhoe (2012)
Shakespeare, William - Antony and Cleopatra (2012)
Shakespeare, William - Coriolanus (2014)
Shakespeare, William - Henry IV, part I (2014)
Shakespeare, William - Henry IV, part 2 (2014)
Shakespeare, William - Henry V (2014)
Shakespeare, William - Julius Caesar (2012)
Shakespeare, William - Love's Labor's Lost (2013)
Shakespeare, William - Lucrece (2014)
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth (2014)
Shakespeare, William - Much Ado About Nothing (2013)
Shakespeare, William - Othello (2013)
Shakespeare, William - Richard II (2014)
Shakespeare, William - Richard III (2013)
Shakespeare, William - The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2012)
Shakespeare, William - Venus and Adonis (2013)
Shapiro, James - 1599: One Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2014)
Sheridan - School for Scandal (2013)
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island (2012)

Tey, Josephine - Daughter of Time (2013)
Tolkien, JRR - The Hobbit (2013)

WIlde, Oscar - The Importance of Being Earnest (2013)

Monday, 10 December 2012

Classic's Challenge: December Wrap-Up

I am so happy to be able to say that I completed the Challenge by November's Autumn. It has been a great pleasure reading the challenges and participating in the prompts this year. Here's the links to the posts of the prompts:


And I also love to say that I have read 13 books from my Classics Club's Project's list. I have made the review of 12 of them, and here's the list of those posts.

It has been a good year for me, and also the first year for my blog. Hope things will be as good, if not better, next year.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Weekend Quote #22

“That is a dream also; only he has remained asleep, while you have awakened; and who knows which of you is the most fortunate?"

This time I go back to Monte Cristo, one of my all time favourites. The quote above is what he says regarding death.

Monte Cristo is watching an execution with Franz and Albert. Both of his guests are young and inexperienced, while Monte Cristo (according to himself) has seen death execution several times. Franz finally faints, and Albert closes his eyes. Waking up, Franz comments that the experience passed like a dream – a nightmare. “But how about the culprit?” he asks.

The quote above is Monte Cristo's answer. Well, the first part of it is nothing but fact. Death is like slumber. Perhaps Dumas borrowed the expression from Shakespeare, a bit. But the second part of the comment Is interesting.

Normal person would say, “Of course the living is more fortunate. No one wants to die.” But we're talking about Monte Cristo, a person who has seen and tasted so many bitterness in the world. This person has wished for death several times in his life, including when he was imprisoned in Chateau d'If. No doubt there are times when he feels that death is a relief from all the sufferings he has to face.

That's my quote for the weekend. What about yours?


Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Character Thursday: Jean Valjean

Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean (Les Miserables musical)
At first I didn't want to choose him at all. He's a complex character, and I always feel that I won't be able to fully describe or express my thoughts and feelings about him. There's no other way to know him except by reading all volumes of Les Miserables. It's a long story about change in a man's life.

Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who tries to find a new life – an honest life – despite being widely misjudged by people. When he went out of jail for the first time, he had great hatred for the world, thinking that the world hates him as well. But Myriel opens his eyes and makes him see that there is still a chance for him to have a good and respectable life just as any other people. Jean then chooses to lead a good life from that moment, although doing such thing is never easy, especially for him.

If there's something that makes me love him so it is that he's a normal human being, just like Javert. There are battles inside his heart, especially when things are not to his advantage. I remember muttering, “Jean, please do what is right,” when he must choose between revealing or not revealing his identity. When he actually does, I'm so proud of him.

Guillaume Depardieu (as Jean Valjean)
His acts of kindness always touches my heart. Even the way he deals with little Cosette warms my bosom. Has he ever taken care of a child before, perhaps his sister's? Perhaps. But it's his promise to Fantine that makes him very tender and kind to Cosette. The way he cares for Marius, whom he doesn't really like, by the way (fathers always see young men as threats to their daughters), makes me think, “Jean, you don't have to do it this far.”

There's something interesting about it, actually. In his mind, Jean thinks that it'd be good for Marius to die. Well, he's going to England with Cosette anyway. But somehow he ends up being there in the barricade, 'just to see how things are going'. The results: he settles things up with Javert, and he saves Marius in order to assure Cosette's future. What a man!

I also love how he follows his conscience, no matter how hard it is for him. Again, the Chmpmathieu incident would be a good example. Also when he has the chance to kill Javert, and he doesn't is touching for me. This man makes me think of Myriel's word:

“To be a saint is the exception; to be an upright man is the rule. Err, fall, sin if you will, but be upright... The least possible sin is the law of man. No sin at all is the dream of the angel. All which is terrestrial is subject to sin. Sin is a gravitation.”

Well, Jean tries his best to be upright.

The bad things about him, the things that annoy me are these: First, he doesn't speak much. I feel like Hugo doesn't give him a chance to express himself fully to people around him. Even the musical gives him more dialogues. It makes me sad to see how people do good things, but others are ignorant of that.

Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean
Second, he has tendency to admit his guilt and conceal his virtues. This is seriously annoying. When he admits that he is Jean Valjean to save Champmathieu, for example, he doesn't bother to explain the Bishop's gift etc. When he confesses to Marius, he doesn't bother to tell him all the good things he has done for Cosette and Marius as well. He might think that people won't believe him anyway. But what I fear is that he might think that all the good things that he has done still cannot pay for his sins.

“I do not know whether the person who gave them to me is pleased with me yonder on high. ”

He is, Jean, after all that you have done, he certainly is.

It's weird how Jean has influenced me. He makes me look at people with less prejudice. He makes me cry every time I watch a new version of Les Miserables, musical or not. He reminds me that we have to try to do our best no matter what other people think or say of us. Best of all, he reminds me that there will always be a second chance for people. It's never too late to change.

Monday, 3 December 2012

2013 Challenges Compiled Together

I join so many challenges for next year. It has not even been a year of my blogging life, yet the excitement of joining challenges is irresistible. To make things easier, especially when updating books I have read, I'd like to put all those challenges in one post only.

This post applies only for challenges and events that will be finished in less than a year, and starts on or during 2013. That's why this post won't cover Let's Read Plays and Classic Club's Project. Also, because this post has cover them all, I will delete all previous redundant posts.

So let's go to the lists.

Narrative Poem Reading Challenge 2013

I host this challenge. You can read the detail of the challenge here.

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2013

This challenge is hosted by Bev@My Reader;s Block and will take place during 2013. I have decided to try joining it, since my classical journey started with Sherlock Holmes, which is also one of the mystery solvers. Sadly, I don't know much about mystery, and I hate scary stuff. So I put things here that hopefully are not very frightening, so that I can read them with much easiness of mind.

I pick 8 books to start, but I will add it to 16 if in later time I see that I can do more than that. Here's the list:

2. Murder by the Numbers: LeBlanc – Eight Strokes of the Clock
3. Amateur Night: Queen – Adventures of Ellery Queen
4. Leave It to the Professionals: Conrad – A Secret Agent
7. World Traveler: LeBlanc – The Hollow Needle
8. Dangerous Beasts: Hammet – The Maltese Falcon
15. Cops & Robbers: LeBlanc – The Crystal Stopper
19. Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Agathe Christie – Death in The Air

I am curious about LeBlanc's Lupin, since I have tried to read it but find little delight in in that I didn't even finish my first book. I like Ellery Queen, though, but I have only read the short story collection, so I will try to read some more of him. What? No Sherlock Holmes? Well, let's see if I can add him to the list later on.

2013 TBR Pile Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Roof Beam Reader and will be held along 2013. The point is to read 12 books from your TBR pile during the year.

I'd like to combine this challenge with other challenges that I have joined such as Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, Let's Read Plays, and also a challenge I host myself, Narrative Poem Reading Challenge. Here's my list for this particular challenge:

James, Henry – Portrait of a Lady

Book on France Reading Challenge

This challenge is hosted by WordsAndPeace. Here's my reading list for this challenge.

Children Literature Event

This event is hosted by Bacaan Bzee. I don't really into children literature, but let's give it a try.

2013 European Reading Challenge

The event is hosted by Rose City Reader.
I aim for the highest star in the challenge: Five books. Here's my list for the Challenge:
(to be added later)

LeBlanc - Eight Strokes of the Clock (France)
Euripides - The Trojan Women (Greece)
Shakespeare - Othello (Italy)
Tey, Josephine - Daughter of Time (England)

The Classics Reading Challenge 2013

This challenge is hosted by Thoughts at One in the Morning. I know it sounds quite silly because I read mostly classics anyway, but I want to cheer myself up by adding more challenges to the blog.

Here's the list of the classics I'm going to read:
Daniel Defoe - Robinson Crusoe
Edmond Rostand - Cyrano de Bergerac
Euripides - The Trojan Women
William Shakespeare - Othello
William Shakespeare - Richard III
William Shakespeare - Venus and Adonis

Dive into Poetry Challenge 2013

This one is hosted by Savvy Verse and Wit. Here are my rules:

1. Create a post on your blog stating your intention to read poetry in 2013 and sign up in Mr. Linky. If you don’t have a blog, simply leave a comment about reading poetry in 2013.
2. Choose one of the following options to complete the challenge:
  • Read and review up to 2 books of poetry throughout 2013 and leave the full link to each review in Mr. Linky.
  • Feature one poet (perhaps not per month) on your own blog.
3. Complete your goals between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013.

My list:

What's in a Name Reading Challenge 2013

This challenge is hosted by Ren's Little Corner. I've been waiting for this challenge. Haha. I choose Level 2 - 10 books with character's name in its title.

Here's the list of the book I'm going to read this year:

Books in English Reading Challenge 2013


This challenge is hosted by Peni at Ketimbun Buku. The rule is simply reading at least 12 books in English and make reviews for those books. At the end of the year, wrap-up post will be mandatory. I'm going to have fun (since I read mainly English)!

New Authors Reading Challenge 2013

This challenge is hosted by Ren@Ren's Little Corner, focusing on reading books from authors new to us. I don't know if I'm going to be able to read much from new authors, since I'm quite a fangirl, and I tend to focus on several authors and their works than reading a little bit of everything. 

I will attempt the Easy Level for this one, at least for now. 

2013 Book to Movie Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Doing Dewey

Yay! I love this. I just love this because I love to watch movies after reading the books. Well, I have several movies I want to watch, based on books. I will take the second level, Movie Devotee, because I know I can't manage more, with so many challenges this year. Haha.

Edmond Rostand - Cyrano de Bergerac (film review link)

Pick an Author Book Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Of Sparrows and Butterflies. It's just perfect for me, who like to fangirl over an author. I will put my list below. It's a temporary list, so I will add more authors if I happen add something to my reading list. 

Here's my list (this far).
Oscar Wilde
William Shakespeare
Maurice Leblanc

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2013

This challenge is hosted by the kind Historical Tapestry. I love Historical Fiction and I'd be happy to read some of those. I aim for the Victorian Reader, meaning I need to read at least 5 HF book in the year. Let's hope I can manage to do so. 

Here's my list: 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Off the Shelves: Ramin Karimloo's Character Interpretation

For all of you who think that I like him because he is handsome (and yes of course, he is), let me tell you that the first time I saw him and liked him was when he sang Phantom of the Opera, as Phantom, masked, and later, ugly; love at the first glance scenario doesn't apply here.

Actually, I have only watched him playing two different roles, although he has played more. My contact with the other side of the world is limited, so let's just leave it there. Those different roles are Phantom and Enjolras, in Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, and Les Miserables. I immensely enjoy his performances and one reason is because I like his character interpretations.

For me personally, character interpretation is one of the most important things in any theatrical production, musical or not. It is also very interesting, because every actor has different interpretations of characters personalities, not mentioning the interpretations of the directors as well. The interpretation makes each theatrical production unique.

Let's first look at Ramin's interpretation of Phantom. I am impressed by his acting skill while playing the unstable self of Phantom. From the sweetness of Angel of Music and Wandering Child to the romantic and sexy Music of the Night, from the furious and scary first part of Stranger than You Dreamt It and Final Lair to the pitiful and pleading voice of their second parts, Ramin shows great varieties of voice colours, and puts much feeling in each line. There are times when I really want to hug Phantom when he plays the role.

Next, Enjolras. I watched Les Miserables musical only after I finished the novel, so I have already imagined the characters in my head before seeing any interpretation of them. For me, his Enjolras is a little bit too fiery compared to the character's description in the novel, but it's better than some other interpretations where Enjolras smiles too much. Instead, Ramin's Enjolras shows rage and excitement when he talks about revolution. After Grantaire's part of Drink with Me, Enjolras' face shows disapproval, but then he shows that he still loves his friend all the same. (Enjolras and Grantaire are two sides of a coin in the novel.)

Some might argue that Ramin's voice is not steady when he sings. As I said, he puts much feeling in every line that he sings. The emotion gets the better of his voice sometimes. But let us put it this way: even in films people don't talk properly when they play emotional parts. The same thing happens in musicals and even in opera. I am convinced that the voice is very important in both of them. But I must confess I don't really enjoy anything too musical. Besides, isn't it also important to make sure that the emotions of the character you play get into your audiences hearts?  

Les Miserables Final Review: What Does Hugo Want to Say?

Let me first make a confession. I have watched Les Miserables 25th Annyversary in Concert, yes, the musical. Is it necessary to say that I cried like a baby when I did so? It may be the music, or the lyrics, or maybe because I link every line to the novel, rich with its description and deep philosophy.

As I read Les Miserables, since I understood that Myriel is not the focus of the story, I have always asked myself: What does Hugo want to say? Why does he put so much details, sometimes even seem irrelevant with the main story at all? Why so much history and philosophy? I have put it somewhere in the volume-by-volume review of the novel that I don't think Jean is Hugo's center of thought during his writing Les Miserables. Something much greater lies there.

Myriel. He is a saint. Let's say he always tries to do what is right up to the point of his limit. Doesn't he say that it is men's duty to do the best that they can? He rains his kindness and fortune upon those who need it, not only upon those who he thinks deserve it. One of them is Jean Valjean. Myriel dies without knowing what actually happens to Jean. He doesn't live to see all the good things that Jean does thanks to his kindness towards the unfortunate man. Perhaps Hugo wants to say that we never know if the good things we have done to people will change their lives for good. Perhaps he wants to say that it's out of our business to think about that. We just need to do our best, and let things work the way they will.

Javert is a grand lesson about the limitation of the law of men. There are things that men cannot see, and cannot understand. There are things that simple sentences signed by a nation cannot solve. The law is good, and law helps to organise society. But that same law cannot be relied upon for everything in the world. Some condition allows human beings to go beyond the law they know. Is that the thing you want to say, Hugo?

The friends of the ABC are heroes of revolution. They have a dream of a better world, and they do everything that they can to make it happen. They believe the government must change, they think it will change everything. On the other hand, Hugo praises both Napoleon and Louis Philippe in his novel, saying that both are great man, and moreover, says that Louis Philippe is a good man. Does he try to say that everything has its goodness anyway, that no matter what kind of political government you believe in, you still can live peacefully with others? Or does he try to say that even great people and good people in the government, no matter of what type, can't really solve the problem of society?

One lesson that I will always remember from Jean Valjean is the importance of listening to the voice of your conscience. There are and will always be things in the “grey zone”, things we can't classify as true or false. But if listen to our conscience, no matter how hard the decision may be, we can always face ourselves without the feeling of guilt. Jean makes so many difficult choices in the novel: whether to save Champmathieu or not, whether to kill Javert or not, whether to save Marius or not, and he chooses well, so that when his death is near, he has nothing to fear, he has no regret.

Jean's experience also shows us that people can change – for better or worse. There's no such thing as 'too late' to be good. When you want to leave your past and live a new life, things won't be easy for you, but there is always a way. It doesn't depend on the society. It depends on you. Jean has done all that he could, despite the difficulties he has to face.

Eponine, Gavroche, and the two little boys on the street reminds us that there are people suffering so much pain out there. Have we ever stopped and think about them? Those miserable little people who always need help should be helped. Do we care? Well, Hugo did.

I haven't read anything so long as this since Monte Cristo, perhaps. Les Miserables will be one of my treasures from now on. I must confess that I need to read it more than once to grasp the full idea of it. There are so many things to contemplate on in this book. One day, perhaps, I will open the book again and re-read it.  

Here's my volume-to-volume review of Les Miserables:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

LRP December Meme: Costume

“Not out of your apparel, and yet out of your suit. “ - Rosalind, As You Like It

Did you like last month's reading? Was it depressing to read so many people die? Let's relieve ourselves then. This month, we will laugh!

This month's reading theme is Shakespeare's Comedy. When we talk about plays, we will talk no doubt about stage productions, and of course, about the costumes. Costumes are important in Shakespeare's plays stage adaptations. Some try to make Shakespeare stays Shakespeare, and put vintage clothes on their casts. The others want to make Shakespeare looks modern, and change the costumes into modern ones.

This month, you may pick a play or a character, and feature the costumes you like/dislike. Here are some ideas:
  • Pick a character, and talk about his/her costumes in your favourite stage/film adaptation.
  • Pick a character, and compare costumes
  • Pick a play, and compare productions costumes
  • Pick a play, and say what you like/dislike about the costumes
  • Pick a character or a play, and say what costume you think would fit most.

Things above are just ideas. You can of course improvise. Just have fun with costumes. You can even feature yourself in somebody else's costume (Rosalind or Portia, maybe?).

The linky will open the whole month. I'm looking forward to your entries.