Saturday, 28 December 2013

European Reading Challenge 2013 Wrap-Up

It's time for a wrap-up. I've been enjoying this challenge, and it opens my mind on how little I know about Europe and how invariable my choices are when it comes to books. When it comes to reading, I realise that I partially tend to choose English books before anything and place French on the second spot. I don't really favour Russian books, and I have no German ones at all. I had Greek play just because I had to read it for another challenge and I list Othello for Italy - an English play with so little reliable reference to the place anyway. 

So here's the list of books I managed to read. I didn't get the five stars I longed for, but at least I was almost there.

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

Hope my choices next year won't be so predictable.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Top 5 Quotes of the Year

Again, Fanda's Kaleidoscope. Quotes are my favourite. In fact, I tried to write down a quote every single week (which failed). Choosing just 5 favourite quotes from massive piles of pages is not an easy task. I have forgotten many of the quotes I found beautiful. So, in order to get those quotes, I consult my weekly meme "Weekend Quote" and my little phone where I read my books.

Here they are:

Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis

Who else has the right to talk about love more than our beloved Will, who speaks of so many kinds of affection? The pain of despair and hope in love, and generally in life, is summed up in these 3 lines.

“Despair and hope make thee ridiculous
The one doth flatter thee in thoughts unlikely,
In likely thoughts the other kills thee quickly”

Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

“All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”

Being cast out alone in the middle of nowhere, Robinson Crusoe found that life does not depend on riches, luxury, or comfort. In his island, he found a lot of things to be thankful of, and he realised that when we are thankful for what we have, we will be content, and that makes us happier, despite our circumstances.

Spenser's Faerie Qveene

“And later times things more vnknowne shall show.
Why then should witlesse man so much misweene
That nothing is, but that which he hath seene?
What if within the Moones faire shining spheare?
What if in euery other starre vnseene
Of other worldes he happily should heare?”

Grand things, again. Reading this, I remember that I started to sigh and imagine a vast unknown universe. I started to imagine what the world would be in years to come, what wonders, what miracles could happen. We know so little things that we need forever to discover the world we live in - and even that wouldn't be enough.

Thoreau's Walden

This is the quote I've always wanted to put on my Weekend Quote but always forgot to since I began to read the book a month ago (yes, and I haven't finished it).

"For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of men?"

Really, as I classic lover, I can't help but nodding to that remark. It doesn't mean that non-classics are rubbish. It's just that when a book is classic, it passes the test of time, so it can't be rubbish - at least probably not.

Tolkien's The Hobbit

"This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down."

If there's anything that the poets talk more of than Love and Death, it is Time. I wrote in my diary once that poets seem to hate time so much because time is the symbol of decay, of change, of uncertainty. Ah, goodness, now it reminds me of one of my poems.

So let's end it all. Those above are five quotes I choose for this year. I think those are big. What did I read during the year? I promise I will put down some lighter ones next year. I hope I will manage to find them.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Top 5 Book Boyfriends 2013

Hosted by Fanda, this is one event that I've been waiting for. It has been a year since I last participated, but a year seems so short a time compared to the list of books I want to read. Let's begin.

Don Pedro from Much Ado About Nothing

Adam James as Don Pedro
Sorry, Benedick, you didn't win. I love Benedick, I really do. But there's some cute element in the Prince's personality that I really love: he doesn't feel like a prince at all. I mean, look at the way Ben talks to him. He's full of authority, and yet everybody feels comfortable to speak their minds in his presence. Also his witty comments and his great heart add to his much adored personality. He is loyal to his subordinates. He kindly forgives his brother. Whilst it is a sad thing to 'look into happiness through another man's eyes,' he tries to be happy for his friends although he himself is not a part of that happiness. One special thing, he's still a bachelor. ;)

Arsene Lupin from... well, his series

Apart from the obvious fact that I hate the author for his constant effort to beat Sherlock Holmes, I love Lupin. This gentleman thief has been the model of all name-that-robbery-story. Besides, I can't miss a sweet romantic bad boy, can I? They are just too amazing.

Tom Hagen from The Godfather

Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen
I'm usually attracted to the name Michael. No, not this time. As much as I love Michael in the book, I love Tom Hagen better still. Why? I believe that the old Godfather loved him better than his own sons. Tom Hagen was loyal, trustworthy, and calm. Being the advisor and the right hand of the Don, he held a great deal of power. But he stayed low, and helped the family lovingly, as if they were indeed his family. Even when Michael hid things from him (which I believe with good intention – Michael want Hagen to be part of his 'clean' family, while arranging things to shut down the darker part of it) he stuck with him. He had a great role in reuniting Michael's family by convincing his wife that Michael loved her and his children better than anything in the world. There.

Bard from The Hobbit

Never thought he would be this messy, Luke Evans as Bard
Goodness! Bard! I almost missed that name! I am not going to write down any spoiler here, at least I try not to, but Bard is just amazing. Imagine Legolas, then clone him. Adds a little bit more majesty in it, and there you are, you have Bard. Unlike Thorin with all his grumpiness and selfishness, Bard wants the best for everyone – for Men, Elves, and Dwarves. That's why I love him so much. Just like Aragorn, he stays low and humble after the downfall of his people, but his august and kingly heart is still inside him. His 'crown is in his heart, not on his head' after all.

Robinson Crusoe from Robinson Crusoe

I just can't miss him. The journey through Robinson Crusoe is a journey to our inner self. What I love about him is his resignation to his condition, which is not a passive submission to fate or paralysing despair, but his acceptance of his new life and his effort to make the best of it. Robinson Crusoe teaches us all about what is really important to sustain our lives. Although I cannot say that I love the man or I'd take him as my boyfriend, he is worthy to be on the list.

Done. Those are five book boyfriends of mine this year. If my choice were not limited, Captain Blood would be on the list as well, along with Clarence from Shakespeare's Richard III. But I'm happy with those five, and I can't wait to read about many other men (*clears throat*) next year.  

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Let's Wrap It Up: Narrative Poem Reading Challenge 2013

First of all, I want to say sorry to all participants of this long quiet challenge. As you can see from the number of posts I could manage to write lately, I've been occupied with my new job(s). It's crazy. Before I realised what happened, it's December already and I haven't made any wrap-up post for this challenge.

It has been a great challenge for me, greater than what I have thought before. I thought Narrative poems would be like any other book and I would be able to read them easily but I was wrong. From the number of participants and the poems they managed to read, I have a feeling that you guys feel the same too.

"How was the challenge feel like? Did you enjoy it? Is it too much for you? What's so amazing/boring with narrative poems?" I hope you will gladly share your opinions in your wrap-up post.

I managed to read and to finish Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, which is brilliant and sweet. I managed to finished the first book of Spenser's Faerie Qveene, and I almost finished Shakespeare's Lucrece. Going through pages and pages of Spenser was (I must admit) tedious. The language is beautiful, but I had to force myself through each stanza, partly because the spelling had not been modernized. I don't give up. I'm going to give it another go next year. Shakespeare is better. (I know this is a biased view.) Lucrece is beautiful. I'm going to finish it next year, I hope, and I will write about how it so subtly talks about what happened between Lucrece and the rapist (wait, I don't remember his name).

I generally love narrative poems. It's just Spenser's I find hard to deal with. I still have Eugene Onegin in my list and several other I haven't put in it. I don't think I'm going to host another NPRC next year. Maybe the year after, I still don't know, but I will certainly host something for tribute to Poe maybe in October. Let's see.

How was the challenge for you?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Arthurian Literature Reading Challenge 2014

“I know I love you before I met you.” That's my relationship with King Arthur. Honestly, I have never read anything officially Arthurian. Last year I drag myself through Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and enjoyed the first Book, while the second book felt endless. But hey, I was going to give it another try.

And then I read that Howling Frog Books is hosting an Arthurian Reading Challenge. That's when I thought, “I'm going to love it!” And here I am, thinking about what books I'm going to read for the challenge.

I don't want to be over-ambitious with my picks, so just a few, not more (and I wish these were much thinner too).
  • Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory
  • Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
  • Maybe Idylls of the King by Tennyson
That's it. Hope I'll be able to finish these. Is it to high to aim for the Knight level? Let's see.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Let's Read Plays - Wrap-Up

I don't know if I still need to write a wrap-up considering that I have this post already. I want to do it anyway. Haha.

I have enjoyed the event immensely - it was good, and full of excitement. Sadly, though, I couldn't manage to fully participate in it, since my schedule became so madly chaotic by the end of the year. Anyway, here's what I did (unless mentioned, plays are by Will Shakespeare):
I also want to express my apalogy for not being able to finish the monthly meme for this challenge. Nor did I monthly participate in Character Thursday.

But trust me, if anyone holds similar event in the future, I'm in.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Weekend Quote #48

"We are underbred and low-lived and illiterate; and in this respect I confess I do not make any very broad distinction between the illiterateness of my townsman who cannot read at all and the illiterateness of him who has learned to read only what is for children and feeble intellects."

Yay! At last, another weekend quote to feature on this blog. This time it is Thoreau's. I truly love his idea on reading. What is the benefit of one's ability if he never uses it? He who is able to read but reads nothing has no advantage over him who cannot read at all. The disadvantage, on the contrary, is that he has put effort to learn how to read but never reads anyway.

That being said, reading as Thoreau here writes, involves more than just reading whatever your eyes meet. It's about choosing and choosing carefully what is to read. There are too many books in the universe to read in one's lifetime, so reading 'whatever' is not the best option there is. Thoreau mentions the books of antiquity, such as the Bible (which I still struggle to finish), the Greeks and the Romans.

It doesn't mean, of course, that reading other 'lighter' books is useless. No! But Thoreau reminds us not to neglect amazing literatures of the past. "For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man?" he asked.

By the way, that's the quote that I will (hopefully) discuss on this blog next. Happy weekend.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

No update? When Life as I Knew It Ended

Some might wonder why everything suddenly becomes quiet over here. Well, remember when I wrote about Frost's poem? That's what happened.

Two roads diverged in the yellow wood, and I took the one hard to tread. Suddenly I became busier and busier, and it's still hard to find the right schedule to do all the things I'd like to do.

I have no intention to abandon any of my blogs. No. While this month has been hectic, and November would potentially be worse, I am sure I can manage to take care of both my book blog and Shakespeare blog.

Next month I will probably be super busy, but I hope I can manage to post at least one or two posts for the challenges I join. The drafts have been written for Puzo's Godfather (and the movie), The Hobbit movie, and also other books I have finished but not yet reviewed. 

Wish me a lot of luck. And as always, happy reading.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

I cannot help thinking about this poem over and over again. In fact, I've been using two lines of it as my status in more than one social media. What I love about it, as what I love about most Frost's poems, is that the poems are written in most simple words, but have deep meaning. For me personally, the poem tells you everything that passes your mind when you're about to take an important decision that might change your whole life. And here it goes:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back. 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Isn't it just so sweet? Frost beautifully expressed the gravity and seriousness of decision-making in something as simple as choosing someone's way. I've never formally analysed a poem before, and I don't even know the right way to do it. But I'd like to tell you how the poem sounds to me.

Firstly the poem found himself in a branching road – a road of his life. He knew he couldn't 'travel both,' but he considered seriously which road he's going to take. Aren't we all like that, especially when facing an important decision in our lives? At last he made his decision, but his choice was not something that people would ordinarily choose. He chose a road 'grassy and wanted wear.'

One of the lines I love most in this poem: “Oh, I kept the first for another day!/Yet knowing how way leads on to way/I doubted if I should ever come back.” I do that all the time, thinking that one day I will do something I chose to postpone ages ago. But in reality, we all know that time doesn't go in a circle. It goes on, and because our decision leads us to another, we can't just go back and try another option.

Some people think that the poem's sigh in the last stanza expresses his regret of the choice he had made long time ago. For me, it's like when you are lying on your back and thinking about the past, taking a deep breath. And then you smile because long time ago, you chose the road 'less travelled by,' and that's why your life, your journey, your story, is different. I must be a sigh of satisfaction.

(And now it reminds me of the song My Way)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Godfather: Family, Friends and Feuds

I started reading this book last week after a recommendation from a friend. At first, I was reluctant. But then I was offered to watch the film. I insisted (as usual) that I have to read the book before watching it on screen, so I started to read it as soon as I laid my hands on it.

Michael Corleone had no interest whatsoever to be in his father's business. His father had been one of the most respected Dons in the country. People called him “Godfather” in respectful tone, because it is what he was to them – their advisor and saviour. No problem is too big for the Don to solve. Yet he was not a saint at all. Don Vito Corleone led a huge mafia network, accompanied by his eldest son Sonny, and his adopted son and consigliore, Tom Hagen. But Michael wanted nothing to do with his father's business – that was before his father was shot.

A business problem led to his father's assassination attempts. The wilder part of Michael got the best of him, and before he knew it he had sunk deep in the business and was forced to fly to Italy. There he heard news that his eldest brother had been murdered and his second eldest brother was useless. He himself had barely escaped the fire. His car was bombed, killing his pregnant wife inside. Infuriated, he vowed to be “his father's son.”

The Godfather is one of the best (if not is the best) of mafia novels. It's story is almost legendary. Part of the credit goes to the trilogy films staring Al Pacino as Michael (yes, when he was young). The novel is very strong in its characterization and plot twist, whilst still sticking firmly to the main story. The people involved have their own stories, while their lives also partly unveil the vastness of the Don's business.

What I also like from the book is that it's so unpredictable. Puzo has no problem killing anyone in the way, even characters that we think deserve to live longer in the book. For those who love crime fictions, or any complicated fictions, or just looking for a modern classic, then The Godfather is a must-read for you. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Hobbit: Fun Version of LotR

I don't know why it took me so long to eventually decide to read the book. It has a good reputation of being a classic, and its praises, along with its companion Lord of the Rings' praises are sung everywhere. But at last I took it and read ot cover to cover, and because we're talking about Tolkien's book, I finished it in one night.

Bilbo Baggins was a boring person, I should say with my judgement as a human being. As most hobbits he was content with his daily routine of waking up, cooking, eating, and whatever a normal hobbit in his hole usually did. But then came Gandalf with adventure in his mind. The other part of Bilbo gave in to the tickle of adventure and off he went with his 13 dwarf companions, whom he had never seen his whole life before last night.

The quest sounded simple yet dangerous all the same. They were to take back what rightfully belong to the dwarf chieftain, Thorin Oakenshield, namely a treasure beyond any imagination locked in Erebor and guided and claimed by a huge and mighty dragon, Smaug. To get there, they had to pass the Misty Montain and Mirkwood (for my interest, I would like to add that it's Legolas' homeland), they also had to find a secret entrance, not mentioning probable goblin and warg's raid along the way and also possible clash with the natives of Mirkwood (not only the elves, but the animals as well).

Anyway, Bilbo had signed his contract and off he went, without having the complete picture of the dangers mentioned above. Luckily, he found a magic ring early on his way, which could hide the wearer from sight. This ring proved to be so valuable (or should I say precious) for their journey. It didn't serve as useful in the other story, though. Haha.

Unlike Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is much more relaxed and fun. While Lord of the Rings is more like Illiad and Odyssey, this prequel book is more like Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham kind of story in its fun, informal adventures. The characters are merry and jolly, exactly the opposite of all the grimness of Elrond, Aragorn, and Eomer in LotR.

Other thing to say, I don't really like dwarves after all. (I'm more an elvish person, you know.) Thorin's obstinacy is not really charming, and the dwarves are somewhat selfish at times. Of course it doesn't mean that elves are all saintly. It's quite shocking to see the striking difference between Thranduil and his son Legolas, who later became the best friend of a dwarf. Quite ironic, since it was Legolas' father who imprisoned Gimli's father along with his fellow dwarves in Mirkwood. But I guess people must learn to forget the past.

I'm a little bit surprised to see myself easily fall into so strong a liking to Bard the Bowman, who amazingly slain the dragon with one arrow. He didn't appear until very late in the story and it's just that. Maybe I love him so much because I know that Luke Evans would be playing him in the upcoming movie, and just imagining him bending his bow side by side with Legolas takes my breath away. Or maybe I'm just weak when it comes to bowmen. The number of bowmen in my catalogue of awesome people is considerable after all.

Well, I guess I can't wait for the other two films that will come soon enough. Well, at least the second film is only 3 months away. Let's see if it satisfies all our expectations.  

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Much Ado About Nothing: Basically A Lot of Fun

This play is sometimes categorized not as a comedy, but as something called “problem play.” The play involves two main threads of story, namely Benedick/Beatrice match and Claudio/Hero love tale.

It all started when Leonato and his family heard about the coming of Don Pedro, who had just come back from war against his half-brother Don John. Don Pedro forgave his brother and brought him also to Leonato, who received them very well. In his war, Don Pedro was accompanied by his courtiers and friends, Benedick and Claudio. Claudio, although young and inexperienced, had don “in the likeness of a lamb, the feats of a lion” and was given so much honour.

It turned out that Claudio and Hero, Leonato's daughter shared a mutual love while there was a “merry war” between Benedick and the disdainful Beatrice (Leonato's niece). Both Benedick and Beatrice swore never to marry and it seemed that they were serious about it. However, after quite a major though funny argument between them, Don Pedro swore to be their matchmaker, and asked Leonato, Hero and Claudio for assistance in accomplishing his plans.

Don John had another plan. He was determined to take his revenge upon Don Pedro and Claudio. So after Borachio's advice, Don John and his men set a plan to slander the young lady Hero and made as if she had an affair with Borachio and thus unfit for marriage.

David Tennant as Benedick
After several awkward moments in Benedick/Beatirce relationship, the cancellation of Claudio/Hero's marriage finally urged those two to confess their love to each other – still in an awkward way. Beatrice forced Benedick into breaking his friendship both with the Prince and Claudio and even challenged “Mr. Lackbeard” to a duel.

But even though the play is a problem play, well, it's still a comedy, so everything ended up fine. How? I guess it's our privilege to check it ourselves.

This play is so much more interesting on stage than on pages. Really. If Claudio and Hero along with all the Don John I-am-bad drama give a little bit of darkness to the play, once you see Benedick/Beatrice on stage, everything becomes light and fun again. And who can miss the watchmen's innocent folly? It's just so interesting.

There are so many interesting things in the play that I love. The lines and phrases are truly witty and smart. Some phrases like “better better'd expectations” and “he's all mirth” and the menacing “eat his heart in the market-place” just stick in my mind. (I actually told some of my friends about the heart-eating in the market-place part and now they remember Shakespeare by that phrase. My bad.) Overall, this comedy is so good that it has become maybe my favourite Shakespeare comedy of fun.  

Sunday, 18 August 2013

LRP August Meme: Favourite Scene

“One speech in it I
chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido; and
thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of
Priam's slaughter.” - Hamlet, Shakespeare
Right, this month we're stuck again with the Old Billy. Good news is, this month's theme is comedy. So no thinking too much about philosophical words the playwright smartly put between the lines to amaze the less witty people in the audience, nor crying too hard for the misery of his fictional characters.

This month's meme will be easy: Which one is your favourite scene in the play? If you read As You Like It, it might be anything with Jacques or Touchstone in it. Or maybe you're a romantic person, so you love Orlando kissing Rosalind in man's garment? If your choice is Love's Labour's Lost, well, what is more hilarious than the friends hiding their love only to know later that they have been overheard? It's just fantastic.

Usually I put some leading questions for inspiration. But this time, I think the question, “What is your favourite scene?” will be enough. You can answer long or short, it's up to you. You can even put more than one scene. After all, one cannot have “too much of a good thing.”

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Classic's Club Spin #3: Let's Do It

It is very possible that I won't be able to touch my beloved laptop again until Monday. This month I've been strangely busy even though I have finished everything related to school. I guess I'm not a school person.

It doesn't mean that I will miss this third Classic Club Spin. It's way too interesting. So I take this short time to list my chosen books. Here we go:

  1. Pushkin - Eugine Onegin
  2. Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  3. Spencer - Faerie Queen
  4. Queen – The Chinese Orange Mystery
  5. Conrad - Secret Agent
  6. Dickens - Tale of Two Cities
  7. Sabatini - Scaramouche
  8. Shakespeare – Lucrece
  9. Verne - 20000 Under the Sea
  10. Dickens - Christmas Carol
  11. Dumas Jr. - Camille
  12. Shakespeare - Sonnets
  13. Voltaire - Candide
  14. Doyle - The White Company
  15. Wilde - An Ideal Husband
  16. LeBlanc - The Crystal Stopper
  17. Shakespeare - Much Ado About Nothing
  18. Verne - From the Earth to the Moon
  19. Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
  20. Queen - Adventures of Ellery Queen
Great! I guess now I can leave my laptop in peace and cross my fingers. May the best book be chosen. 

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

School for Scandal: The Danger of Gossip

Like Marlowe's Dido, this is also my very first play by Sheridan. I first heard it mentioned (and played) in The Duchess film. Later on I found the book in my university library (which has so many beautiful books with nobody touching them) but felt reluctant to read it. For this month's LRP, however, I feel like reading it very much. So I brought it home last Thursday and started reading it this morning.

It's everything but serious.

School for Scandal portrays the life of England upper class where people talk about everything about everyone. It's all gossips and scandals (therefore the title). What also interesting is how the play shows gossip on the make.

CRABTREE: Why, one evening, at Mrs. Ponto’s assembly, the conversation happened to turn on the breeding Nova Scotia sheep in this country. Says a young lady in company, “I have known instances of it; for Miss Letitia Piper, a first cousin of mine, had a Nova Scotia sheep that produced her twins.” “What!” cries the Lady Dowager Dundizzy (who you know is as deaf as a post), “has Miss Piper had twins?” This mistake, as you may imagine, threw the whole company into a fit of laughter. However, ’twas the next morning everywhere reported, and in a few days believed by the whole town, that Miss Letitia Piper had actually been brought to bed of a fine boy and a girl: and in less than a week there were some people who could name the father, and the farm-house where the babies were put to nurse.

Isn't it crazy how such baseless slander should come out of nothing but mistake? The play is actually an amazing instrument to show hoe ridiculous but dangerous gossips are. Sir Peter, one of the few characters in this play who hate gossip and scandal, expresses himself beautifully.

SIR PETER: Ah! many a wretch has rid on a hurdle who has done less mischief than these utterers of forged tales, coiners of scandal, and clippers of reputation.

Ruining people's reputation is as bad as killing them. There's a proverb in my country that says 'slander is even worse than murder'. Sir Peter even would love to pass a law that forbid gossiping, so that “no person should be permitted to kill characters and run down reputations, but qualified old maids and disappointed widows,” who have too much envy and too little work to do.

And I haven't told you even a jot of the main plot. Haha. Like most comedy, School for Scandal's plot is hard to explain but easy to understand when you read (or watch) it. 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Weekend Quote #47

Certainly, Madam; to smile at the jest which plants a thorn in another's breast is to become a principal in the mischief.

This weekend's quote is taken from Sheridan's play The School for Scandal, which is nice enough to read, and quite funny too. Actually, I don't really like choosing the quote above since it was spoken by an annoying character, but because the words are so true, I decided to have it put down here.

Well, School of Scandal, as the title suggests, talks about scandals and gossips which circulate among people from the upper class of society. The people participating in it insist that they intent no harm while what they do is absolutely the contrary. Even as they laugh upon the misfortune or slander of others, they forget that somebody is hurt.

For me personally, the quote above reminds us all to think before we speak, to have in mind what effect our words might have on others. When somebody is being ill-spoken of, even smiling at it – thus considering it as entertainment – would be wrong. Instead of meddling with other people's business, let's mind our own, which if taken seriously, would consume most of our times anyway.

Ha! That's the weekend quote for you. Now, please share yours.  

Monday, 22 July 2013

Dido, Queen of Carthage: My First Marlowe's Play

Around a month ago I read the play, and found it to be very good indeed, even though I am by no means well-acquainted with any Elizabethan play except Shakespeare's. I chose the play Dido for no other reason than my fondness of Greek and Roman myths and also Shakespeare's Hamlet. In Hamlet there's a player who recites “Aeneas' tale to Dido” about Priam's slaughter, and such story I find in this play as well. So, now to the review.

The play begins with Jupiter and Ganymede together on the stage. Jupiter flirts with the young boy (yes, he's a boy) and promises him everything he desires if he could only get his love. Then Venus enters, complaining about the sufferings Aeneas must face. Jupiter assures her that Aeneas will be fine. Venus then meets with her son and leads him to Dido's place, who receives him with all honour and affection. But that's when the problem begins.

Venus has Cupid disguised as Ascanius. He then pricks Dido's heart with his arrow, which makes her suddenly and madly in love with Aeneas. She persuades Aeneas to cancel his plan to go to Italy and become the King of Carthage instead. Nevertheless, the gods have decided that Aeneas must go, leaving Dido in despair. The queen kills herself in fire, followed by her lover, Iarbas, and his lover, Anna.

For those who have read Aeneid, none of these are new. The story had been a legend by the time the play was written anyway. People expected these things to happen on stage. However, Marlowe, being a great poet and playwright, was able to rephrase the story into beautiful lines. There are times when his words remind me so much of Shakespeare. They lived in the same period and I think Shakespeare took a lot of lesson from Marlowe's plays.

The part I love best from the play, maybe, is as Hamlet told the player, "Aeneas tale to Dido" about the fall of Troy. It's so...Greek, or I might say, Roman. I don't know. But it reminds me of my experience reading the same sort of thing in Odyssey, when the main character must tell his story to his listeners. 

Aeneas tells Dido about the fall of Troy by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
Having said that I like the play, I want to quote what my friend said when I told him that I was reading it. He said, “I still prefer Shakespeare anyway.” I think I still love the Old Bill better than any playwright anyway.  

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Weekend Quote #46

I hope I am not too late for this week's Weekend Quote. I should have posted mine yesterday, but, yesterday being all hectic and busy, I decided to write it today, late as it is.

So, here it is:
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.
I would not change it.
From Shakespeare's As You Like It, this is the words of Duke Senior, who was exiled by his brother, and whose dukedom was taken from him. He, and some of his followers, stayed in the forest of Arden, like Robin Hood and his merry men, happy and content with their new lives.

The quote above is full of expression of contentment, which I find very interesting and inspiring. In court, where they dwelt before, even with all the riches of the world, they had to deal with enmity, and worse, flattery. But in the forest, they feel like ordinary human beings again, They hunt for food, eat what they get, find recreation in nature, and feel happy about it. For philosophers, the Duke being one of them, he finds many things to think and meditate upon.

Living such life, I have no wonder that the Duke could rightly say, “I would not change it.”

That's my choice for this weekend. Don't be shy to share yours. 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Weekend Quote #45

"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."
Taken from Wilde's play The Importance of being Earnest. This quote attracts my attention because that's exactly what I do every single day. I always leave my house with my diary and a pencil case in my bag.

Well, I've been keeping diaries since I was 10 or so. I don't write everyday, unfortunately, but I always bring it anyway, because I love reading it over and over again. It's funny to see how time and experience form you.

Besides, by having a diary, I can always track people I fall in love with. (Want to guess who are on the list?)

That's the quote for this weekend. Want to share yours?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Daughter of Time: A Great King Wronged

I didn't know that it would be like this. When I picked the title for one of this year's challenge, I didn't think of history. When I later learned that it's about Richard, I was thinking about time travel, not bedtime analysis. Anyway, I gave 5 stars for it in Goodreads.

To make long story short, the book is about Richard III. The one with the withered arm and hunchback, the one who killed his two nephews in the tower then usurped their throne, the one who was killed in Bosworth by Henry Tudor? Exactly, except that most of the well-known story isn't true.

In the Daughter of Time, a Scotland Yard investigator and an amateur researcher looked up history to find whether Richard was truly the one to be accused for it. Their 'academic investigation' brought them back to the War of the Roses through pages and pages of contemporary sources. It was not in vain. They found out, not only that the king was 'more sinn'd against than sinning', but who the true culprit probably was.

I like the way this book narrates its story. Instead of making a serious essay with pages of references, Josephine Tey made it a novel, a digestible story, and at the same time carefully put sources and actual facts inside. It must have taken a lot of research to do so, and I appreciate such effort from an author.

Talking about accuracy, I sent an email to a member of Richard III Society and asked her how much of it to be trusted. Although she said that someone thought that it flawed, overall the novel is more accurate than not. Thus I recommend it to all who love history, and who want to know more about Richard III.

Oh, and for your information, I heard that people are proposing a petition to properly bury the remains of Richard III.  

Monday, 8 July 2013

Officially using Bloglovin

So, for various considerations, I have decided to join Bloglovin. Just consider this post as a brief announcement. Please follow my blog using the link below or the button somewhere around the blog. (I can't remember exactly where.)

Have a nice day...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sunday, 7 July 2013

LRP July Meme: Let's Talk about Playwrights

“The play's the thing.” - Hamlet, Shakespeare

This month's theme is 'other author', which means we will read neither Shakespeare nor Wilde, and maybe not Greek either. So, one question: “Who is your playwright this month?”

Not everybody knows playwrights. I have a friend who didn't even know who Shakespeare was, not mentioning other less-known playwrights. To enhance our knowledge in this matter, this month's meme is simple: Tell us about your chosen playwright. Anything can go. You can give a summary of his life, is works, or, if you prefer, just what you like and dislike from him.

As usual, guiding questions. Again, this is NOT necessary. As I sadi before, anything can go.
  • Give us his brief biography.
  • Give us a tour through his plays.
  • What you like or dislike from the playwright.
  • Compare him with other playwrights you know.

Voila! Let's have fun with our chosen playwright this month. Oh, and if you happen to read more than 1 playwrights this month, feel free to share more than one also in the meme. Have a nice reading!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Weekend Quote #44

“Most people's first books are their best anyway; it's the one they wanted most to write.”

Taken from Josephine Tey's novel The Daughter of Time, this quote caught my eyes when I read it. It's not even the point of the story. In fact, it has nothing to do with the (brilliant, by the way) story. But I think it has some truth in it.

Well, not for all people, of course. Some people become a greater writer after a while. Ass Shakespeare says, 'custom lends us a kind of easiness'. But the first book is like the first born child. It's new experience. People put everything they have in that one first book.

That's the quote I want to share with you this weekend. I'm supposed to make it yesterday, but I think it's still weekend anyway. And if you haven't read Daughter of Time, I hugely recommend it to you. Will write a review in a couple of days. Meanwhile, have a nice weekend.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Captain Blood: Slavery vs. Piracy – Which One is Worse?

Perhaps firstly I need to say that this is a re-read. I read Captain Blood the first time when I was in high school. I found a simplified version of it approximately 6 years ago. After that, I tried to read the complete unsimplified novel – which was fun. And it's exactly my thought when I re-read it this time.

The story started when Peter Blood, a respectable, peaceful, quiet, and “humane” gentleman (as the man put himself), was captured and tried for attending to the wounds of a man who was a rebel. Blood himself was not, seeing how fruitless the rebellion would be, amongst them, but still he had to pay the price of being reckoned as one of their supporters. He was supposed to be hanged, but fortunately (or unfortunately, you choose) he was sold as a slave to Jamaica.

Thanks to his medical skills, however, he escaped the wretched condition of regular slaves. Instead, he served as doctor in the island, attending to the Governor himself, even. Still, the life of a slave was not endurable at all – even with the presence of Miss Arabella Bishop, the very niece of his “owner”. The lady's kindness was a great contrast to her uncle's, although I think they shared the same hard-headedness and folly. Blood found this lady fascinating, and liked her very much. However, this is not the story of Romeo and Juliet, or Othello even.

One day Colonel Bishop, Blood's owner, flogged one of his friends Jeremy Pitt. This action, followed by Blood's bold and sarcastic nature almost put him in the same situation, if it were not to the Spanish pirates who came unexpectedly. Being thus strangely rescued by Fate, he made his escape along with his fellow-slaves and took over the ship. They became pirates after that.

That was actually the beginning of a long naval adventure. Exciting indeed, profitable, maybe, thanks to Blood's various skills and good judgement, but alas, not pleasurable. In Blood's mind lies the very lady after whom he named his ship – Arabella. Worse still, upon one occasion, under misguiding information and out of her own jealousy, the lady herself rudely called him 'thief and pirate'. Blood was then impelled to find a way to be a respectable gentleman once more, without neglecting his loyal crew, of course, and if possible, regain the esteem – if not love – from Miss Arabella Bishop.

I have always loved sea-adventures. I have always loved sailors. I have always appreciated the had work needed to direct and command a fleet at the times when one must depend upon Nature and his ability with little help of fortune to cross the sea successfully. And I have always loved Captain Blood since the first time I read it. The book portrays beautifully the battles on the sea, the disputes between pirates, the sense of honour that people respect in that era, and the enmity between European nations carried as far as the Carribean Sea.

I also love the plot. It talks of how much hatred people can harbour inside their heart when they were treated unjustly. And yet, even with such hatred, one can always be merciful and honourable, instead of craving for vengeance. It is also a book of second chances. People can always change. Fate can always change. Therefore it is also story of hope – long though it may be until it arrives. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Raleigh's Epitaph

Even such is time, which takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust,
Who in the dark and silent grave
When we have wandered all our ways
Shuts up the story of our days,
And from which earth, and grave, and dust
The Lord will raise me up, I trust.

Lines above are Sir Walter Raleigh's. Stories say that he wrote it the night before his execution. It was found in his Bible – a good place to write your last words. I have no idea what's wrong with me or what's so right with him that I feel very sorry for his death. I mean, I don't even know him or what kind of person he is. I only know that he was a soldier, a captain, a pirate (legal one), and a courtier. He's one of Elizabeth I's favourites, I heard.

The poem above is so beautiful. It starts rather sadly, for the writer knew that he must die. It's just the rule of nature. But the last two lines express his hope to raise again, to live again by God's Almighty power.

Apart from reading this poem, I also read his last speech right before his execution, and also some reports on his trial. He was a good, eloquent, persuasive speaker. I told you, I almost cried reading those.

Truly this makes me think what I would leave when I know it is the end. Perhaps I should start writing my own epitaph.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Importance of Being Earnest: Funny, but Absolutely not Important

I've just finished Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest, which is the first Wilde play I ever read. My experience with Wilde has only been his super-sarcastic-but-tragic short stories, which I hate and love at the same time. So this feels new.

The plot involves a guy named Jack who leads a double life. In London, he is known as Ernest Worthing, while in the country he is John 'Jack' Worthing who has a brother named Ernest. His friend, Algernon, also leads a double life, which Jack calls “Bunburying,” because he makes up an invalid person named Bunbury to get away from things. Jack is in love with Algy's cousin, Gwendolen, and she is too, in love with him – or to put it more plainly, his name. Algy, curious to know his friend's life in the country, goes there as Ernest – Jack's brother. There he meets Cecily, a young girl under Jack's guardianship. He likes her, and she likes him as well – as Ernest. To make things more complicated, Gwen goes there as well to meet his fiance, Ernest. The rest is for you to read.

The play is witty and funny, but if you're looking for serious stuff or moral lesson, the book is not to be recommended. It mostly contains Wilde's smart sarcastic remarks on life and society. The plot itself is not so different from normal Shakespearean comedy, and therefore, enjoyable. Better still, it contains nothing inappropriate. It's perfectly funny, and not at all serious.

Having praised it so much, I still don't understand why I don't give it a good score on Goodreads. I only give 3 stars for it. Maybe it's because the language is so so simple and straightforward, not at all romantic or beautiful. Even though I don't really like it, it's still a worthy book to read. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Weekend Quote #43

And is there care in heauen? and is there loue
In heauenly spirits to these creatures bace,
That may compassion of their euils moue?
There is: else much more wretched were the cace
Of men, then beasts....
And all for loue, and nothing for reward:
O why should heauenly God to man haue such regard?

Again this week's quote is from Spenser's Faerie Queene. No, I haven't finished it. It turns out that the book is much more difficult than what I thought before (and sometimes boring) because the spelling and grammar is so different from the English I usually know. Anyway...

The quote above reminds me of God's compassion towards his creatures. The last line truly resembles Psalm 8, that Milton once did into verse saying, “What is a man that you remember yet?”

That's my quote for this week. Care to share yours?

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Classic Club June Meme: Opening Line

I've been missing several months of this meme, due to the lack of time and idea. But strangely (or not), an idea just crossed my mind the moment I read the theme for this month.

Sorry, it's not PnP. I know the novel has been very popular, and its first line most conspicuous that it's very hard to miss. I've been re-reading some parts of it lately and watched the film as well, but..

It's Sherlock Holmes. The first short-story collection entitled The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes begins with "Scandal in Bohemia". The story itself begins with this line:

"To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman."

It's unforgettable because I read it 10 years ago, in my school library, imagining that Sherlock's heart is impenetrable - if he has a heart. Even with "the woman", Irene Adler, it is still debatable whether it is Sherlock's heart, or mind, or pride that puts her so high in his esteem.

There. That's my favourite opening sentence, or at least the one I remember the most.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

LRP June Meme: What Makes It So Wilde?

This month we're going to read this guy - Oscar Wilde. He has excellent reputation as a funny but sarcastic person, and a great writer too. No doubt such qualities don't escape our observation. So for this month's meme, we will dissect Wilde's play and try to find interesting characteristic of his hand. What makes it so Wilde?

As usual, a few questions to help. Please remember that you are not expected to answer these questions, these are just guidelines anyway. You are free to write anything you find relevant.

  • How is Wilde different from other playwright you've known?
  • What makes Wilde so important or interesting?
  • If you have read his novels/short stories, how are they compared to the plays?
Well, I'll be waiting for your posts, and meanwhile, enjoy the Wilde play for yourself~

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Othello: “One that loved not wisely but too well”

I know it's 2 days late for this review, and this month we'll have Wilde instead for LRP Event. But I've finished tha book and I have another to read for the next Tragedy Month, so I think it's better to do this now than later.

I love Othello. He's an amazing man, full with high spirits and lots of sufferings. I also love Desdemona. She's a fine, sweet lady, who, behind her calm and solemn manner hides courageous heart. I hate Iago. That's it.

Othello is one of the most well-known of Will Shakespeare's plays. It tells a story about Othello, a Moor who served as a military general in Venice. He married a noble and virtuous girl, Desdemona, much against her father's will. Nevertheless, Desdemona loved him so much and was very eager to marry him.

Then there was Iago, a subordinate of Othello, who, out of envy towards Cassio, and anger towards Othello, slandered Desdemona by telling Othello that she had an affair with Cassio, another Othello's subordinate – leading to disaster. Without him, the play would end like a fairytale.

I must confess that I read this play quite hastily in the middle, not because I didn't have much time, but rather because I couldn't stand the conflict. For me, Iago's slander is most wicked and unfair. I pity Othello, for as Lear, he was 'more sinned against than sinning' kind of hero.

Apart from all these personal ramblings, I need to underline also how Othello reflects people's view on non-Europeans in Shakespeare's era. Desdemona's father, for example, loathed to marry her to Othello, just because he was a Moor. Few, though, would share the same view as the Duke, who was so kind to Othello, treated him with respect and appreciation. Maybe that's why, in this world of prejudice and injustice, the play stays popular despite its age.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Keats in May: “Think not of it, sweet one, so”

When Katherine of November's Autumn announced her intention to make a Keats Blog Tour, I was immediately interested to participate. Keats is one of the most prominent poet in English Literature and more importantly, I like his poems. I read him for the first time four years ago. I found him in the library and started reading, thinking that I must at least know something about him, since he has great reputation. Then this poem, which I'm going to write about, presented itself to me.

Think not of it, sweet one, so
Give it not a tear;
Sigh thou mayst, but bid it go
Any, anywhere.
Do not look so sad, sweet one
Sad and fadingly;
Shed one drop then -- It is gone--
Oh, 'twas born to die
Still so pale? Then, dearest, weep
Weep! I'll count the tears;
And each one shall be a bliss
For thee in after years.
Brighter has it left thine eyes
Then a sunny rill
And thy whispering melodies
Are tenderer still
Yet, as all things mourn awhile
At fleeting blisses
Let us too!-- but be our dirge
A dirge of kisses

Simple, isn't it? This poem is so simple, so easy to understand, but it rings true, sincere, and full of consolation. It's so interesting how such lines, simple lines, can bring such effect to me.

It's my hobby to recite poems when they reflect my thoughts of feelings. I recite this almost every time I feel like crying. I always start with the first stanza, with emphasis on “Give it not a tear.” When it's not enough, I continue to the next one, “Shed one drop, then.” Well, the next is easy enough to guess. For very hard times, it ends in the third stanza, while I weep and count the tears, with a hope that things will be better next time.

It sounds weird perhaps, but it's true. For me, the poem helps me to control my feelings, and sometimes to pour out my feelings in tears. It works better than self-help books and people's 'dont-be-sad' lines.  

That's all from me. Please visit other participants' post for the tour too. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Weekend Quote #42

Sorry, sorry, a thousand apologies I need to say to you. I've been missing from this blog almost a month, without any post but the most necessary. Fact is, I'm working on my thesis and I can't do much beside that (except reading several books late at night or on the way). And I know, I've been neglecting the Weekend Quote, which I don't intend to do, and I hope I won't do again in the future, though I very doubt that as long as I still need to do my thesis.

Well, here's the quote of the week.

“And were I not, yet is my trouth yplight
And loue auowd to other Lady late,
That to remoue the same I haue no might
To chaunge loue causeless is reproch to warlike knight.”

I take it from Fairy Queen by Spencer, that's why the spelling is somewhat old. Those are Guyon's word when Mammon offered him his daughter as a spouse. Guyon represents “Temperance” and he passed that test by saying that he couldn't take that offer.

I especially love the last line. “To change love causeless is reproach to warlike knight.” Not only to knights, I suppose, but to all human beings. It isn't fair to 'change love' without reason. The other party may feel betrayed.

That's my quote for this week. Please share yours below.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Classic's Club Spin #2: I am Ready

Time for the second spin? All right, I took 2 or 3 books off the list because I've finished it. Haha. But now here they are, the 20 books I would enrol in this Russian Roulette.

  1. Pushkin - Eugine Onegin
  2. Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  3. Spencer - Faerie Queen
  4. Queen – The Chinese Orange Mystery
  5. Conrad - Secret Agent
  6. Sabatini - Captain Blood
  7. Dickens - Tale of Two Cities
  8. Sabatini - Scaramouche
  9. Shakespeare – Lucrece
  10. Verne - 20000 Leagues Under the Sea
  11. Wilde - Importance of Being Earnest
  12. James - Portrait of A Lady
  13. Dickens - Christmas Carol
  14. Dumas Jr. - Camille
  15. Shakespeare - Sonnets
  16. Voltaire - Candide
  17. Doyle - The White Company
  18. Sheridan - School for Scandal
  19. Dumas - Man in the Iron Mask
  20. Austen - Pride and Prejudice
See you again next Monday. 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Weekend Quote #41

Three weeks without any quote! Why, I'm at failure as a host. Such thing must not happen again. Hopefully. So here's this week's.

“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”

From Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Beautiful thing to say, isn't it? Yes, of course, but not in its context.

It was spoken after Gatsby's death, by a friend of his. In his life, many people claimed to be his friends. Many overexploited is generosity and felt no shame at all about it. They took their advantage of him and gossiped about him behind his back. Those people were just like parasites around him.

Then he died, and nobody seemed to care about what he was truly like, or who he was truly, or anything about him. It's just so sad. They didn't even bother to attend his funeral.

Out of context, however, the quote sounds really good. We have the opportunity to love people and let them know that we love them only while they are alive. Let's show our loved ones 'friendship' while we can. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, and we don't want to regret having missed an opportunity to truly love somebody.

That's the quote for this week. Share yours!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

LRP May Meme: Music

If music be the food of love, play on. - William Shakespeare

Music. It is one of the most beautiful expressions that humanity can develop during its existence. Shakespeare, being a writer, wrote some lyrics as well, to be played during his play. Another quote of him says that 'a man that has no music in himself' is not to be trusted.

But this month we're talking about music in greater scale. We will talk about any music. Anything. Any melody you can think about when you read this month's tragedy. It could be Prokoviev's Romeo and Juliet, Verdi's Otello, or other other classical music. It could even be modern. If Hamlet reminds you of Kelly Clarkson's If No One will Listen or Josh Groban's Let Me Fall (the song is so suicidal, by the way), you can put it in the meme as well.

Don't forget to give a youtube/soundcloud link as well (when possible). It's fun to share some music with the rest of the participants, isn't it?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Great Gatsby: “Frailty, Thy Name is Woman”, No, Man Too

I didn't expect the story to be like this. I expected it to be nicely boring just like This Side of Paradise, just a story of everyday life with occasional thrill in it. I expected it to be neither sad nor happy, neither exciting nor tedious, and the book is anything else but that.

The Great Gatsby is a story of a great rich person named Gatsby – quite obvious there. He loved to make parties for other people, and those people flocked to his house, invited or uninvited, had fun, and left. He seemed to be popular without having a friend, rich without having happiness, and busy without having a purpose. So much reason to pity him.

On the other side of the story there were the Bucchanans – man and wife. The man had a mistress, and the wife secretly loved Gatsby. They, Gatsby and Daisy (the wife's name), had a past, but that's just all. The woman married another, and Gatsby still loved her all the same. But, hey, she was already married.

Another part of the story now. Nick, Gatsby neighbour, liked Daisy's friend, Jordan. For some time, she liked him too. But Nick was far wiser than that to let his heart carried away by such a capricious woman. 

I think the strength of this novel is in the characters. They are so human (and I hate that). No hero, no good man, no innocent lady. They're just people. I read the pages and muttered, "Human being!" in disappointment. That's how it is. 

I cannot write how the story ends. I just can't. To be honest, my eyes are still wet because I cried reading it. (I finished reading it less than five minutes ago.) What I want to say is 'I should have known'. Truly, because I heard that Leonardo diCaprio will play in the upcoming film, I should have known it'd be tragic.

And instead I thought it would be boring. How stupid is that?

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Let’s Read Plays: Check-In #2

Check-in! Yay! This is one of the most interesting reading events I'm participating in this year, although I must confess that I have been more than busy lately, with a lot of things distracting my mind (among which Shakespeare, my thesis, and my own capricious self are the main reasons). So, while idly (which I should not be) waiting in the library, being sad and romantic after watching Giselle on YouTube, I decide to write the check-in. (I know, I haven't written a check-in for my own event, but whatever.)

How have your Let’s Read Plays been during these six months, still exciting, or a bit boring? Did you read all the monthly themes, or did you miss several ones?

AMAZING! I have always loved Shakespeare, so it becomes more like an entertainment than a burden to me. I LOVE reading those plays. I read all the monthly themes, luckily in time. I even managed to read 2 tragedies in the first month of the challenge. And it's still as exciting as ever. I expect to read more in months to come.

What has been your favorite, or your failure (if any)?

JC is a re-read, and Richard III is too dark. I'd say Antony and Cleopatra is my favourite tragedy this far, and LLL wins the comedy category.

Which play are you expecting the most in the next six months?

Othello. I must read it one day anyway, so why not now? I am also curious about Wilde, since I've never touched any of his plays yet. I still don't know about the "free months." Maybe Sheridan's School for Scandal or Shaw's Pygmalion, or both.

Have you been participated in Let’s Read Plays memes? Are you excited to participate more in the future?

Yeah! I must admit that the history stuff quite drained my brain, but the rest were quite enjoyable. I didn't participate in the costume theme (shame on me), but I try my best not to miss anything anymore. As for the Character Thursday, of course I enjoy it. What's more amazing than fangilring or ranting about a character you love or hate? But it's hard for me to do it each month. I am not good at describing people, I guess.

So, there. Hope you enjoy the event as much as I do. :D

Monday, 29 April 2013

Narrative Poem Reading Challenge Check-In #1

The first check-in for our challenge. Feel free to write anything you feel relevant with NPRC and share your progress. Don't worry, even if you haven't finished anything, we want to encourage ourselves to keep reading. Yay! Here are some questions which might help (but not mandatory):

  • Have you enjoyed any narrative poem this year? Which one?
  • How's your progress through the challenge?
  • Do you have any plan to read any narrative poem in the near future? 
I leave a linky here, so please comment or make a check-in post and put it in the linky. Have fun~

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Maltese Falcon: Smart Guy and Pretty Liar

I read this book while waiting decades for my academic transcript. The book is not so long after all, and I finished it before the transcript finished processing anyway, so, I had to spend tedious hours afterwards. But that's not the point.

Let's talk about the story. Two detectives, Spade and Archer, were asked by a lady to tail a man named Thursby. Archer followed the man as told, while Spade took care of the office. But before they got any explanation, information, or any of the sort, Archer was killed, Thursby was too, and Spade became a suspect.

Spade, partly for his partner, partly for his pride as a detective, and partly because the money that he would get, investigated the matter by himself, dodging the police using his influence and reputation in the city. He then knew that the people involved in the tragedy were after a bigger fish – the Maltese Falcon – a little bird statuette worth a fortune.

With his genius brain he got into the circle and tried to win at the game. But the lady who first got him into this was worse than anyone could imagine.

This is my first time reading anything by Hammett, and anything like this too. I like it and I don't like it. I like the story. It's amusing, original, and interesting. But I'm not a fan of the writing style. I feel like it's flat, unemotional, not thrilling or exciting. It's like watching a spy film with people tailing people for minutes on screen.

The book deserves its place in classic detective stories. Unlike some detective stories which focus on killing and tricks and so make the story sounds silly and purposeless, this story rings true. People commit crime for a purpose, not for hobby (except for a psychopath, of course). The detective, Spade, is also so human. He's not a hero I expect, but a man fit for his profession. Although I can't agree, I understand why some people think that it's the best detective story in the world.