Friday, December 27, 2013

A New Year, a New Challenge

This seemed like the natural thing to do, tackle a new reading challenge that is really up my alley: books written by women. Since I read 23 books written by female authors last year and most of them were quite revelatory, I decided to go for level 2 of the challenge, GIRLS POWER, and read between 6 and 15 books. It is quite doable, don't you think? Click on the image on the right side to find out more about the challenge. Do you tend to read books by female authors? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas with Jeanette

It is turning quite into a habit, Jeanette posting a few words on Christmas Eve, and this time, she has written a Christmas ghost story... and it somehow reminds me of Susan Hill's "Woman in Black".

You can read it by visiting The Guardian site here, or you can read about her thoughts on celebrating Christmas here.

Merry Christmas! :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Finding Company for Your Soul

Love (III) - George Herbert
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack,
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack'd anything.

 It is quite uplifting to discover new writers, even if they were born centuries ago, and new music, even if it may not be the ordinary music you listen to, and all this thanks to your favorite writer, in my case, Jeanette Winterson.
On the 11th of November Jeanette spoke on BBC Radio 4 about George Herbert's poetry and Sir John Tavener's elating music. Herbert's poems attract a new audience mainly because his message states that love must come before God, which seems quite controversial for a 17th century poet.

Taverner, who unfortunately died last month at the age of 69, is famous for his mystical music and the liturgical traditions that influenced his major works. How the two can mix is described in the podcast. You can listen to it here, for more insight on how the two creative minds can be related, but simply listening to "The Protecting Veil" can give you the feeling of having been touched by the wings of an angel :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Morgan Sparkles

Another week, another creative task for "The Future of Storytelling" course. This time, we have been asked to create our own character, attributing as many features to him/her as we can imagine. In my case, I have always admired Villanelle from Jeanette Winterson's "Passion", so Morgan is somehow related to her, a step sister, let's say, whose passion is to murder her lovers with a dagger and throw them into the dark waters of Venice.

She lives in a palazzo, but no one knows where exactly, she remains a mystery for everyone around. She loves playing cards and gambling her assets and her own life, mainly because she knows there is no chance she could lose. Why? Because long time ago she was cursed to live until she would find Sublime Love, which doesn't seem to be found easily... but something tells her that there might be a chance for that in a narrow street in Venice, simply because she dreamed about meeting Sublime Love while sailing on the Venetian canals.
I also have to mention that she was born in the year of the Fire Rabbit, one day in February, a long, long time ago...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An Unforgettable Character

The Good Wife

Here's me doing my homework, and that is writing another creative task for "The Future of Storytelling" course, and this time I have to write about a character from a TV series that I find interesting, to say the least :)
So, I could not help but choose Alicia Florrick, played by the beautiful Julianna Margulies, the supposedly good wife of the series with the same name. She is such a powerful woman, driven by the desire to succeed on her own, after many years devoted to taking care of her two kids, Zack and Grace,  supporting her unfaithful husband by playing the part of the "political wife" and playing hide and seek in the bedroom with Will Gardner, one of the partners at the law firm where she is working, "Lockhart and Gardner" (update: where she used to work).
Alicia loves a good challenge, and I can still remember the episodes in which she stood against the cunning Louis Canning, played by Michael J. Fox or the infatuated Mike Kresteva played by Matthew Perry.

What I like most about Alicia is that fact that she continues to surprise me with every episode. She is daring, she can forgive but not forget, she can go beyond gossip and people's opinion and what her marriage should be and she wants to prove herself without making too many compromises. I admire the way she knew how to make friends with Cary Agos, who seemed to be against her and her husband at first, how she was one step ahead her opponent lawyers and managed to win difficult trials, and how she can still have fun and act as a "merry go round" wife with her husband, now the state governor. Last but not least, I find her friendship with Kalinda during the two seasons quite intriguing.

She may be seen as mysterious and cold, but she can be very attached to her cases, or her gay brother. She enjoys a glass of wine and a good trick played on those who stand against her.
Now that the 5th season has started, I can say that getting back with Peter after the huge scandal was the most important event of her life, and I am quite sure, seeing how supportive he can be in return for her forgiveness, she was most influenced by his life and straying in her decisions. The famous saying "What does not kill you makes you stronger" is the perfect quote to define Alicia Florrick.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Story of All Stories

 “A love story is not about those who lost their heart but about those who find that sullen inhabitant who, when it is stumbled upon, means the body can fool no one, can fool nothing—not the wisdom of sleep or the habit of social graces. It is a consuming of oneself and the past.”

I have been taking a creative course on "The Future of Storytelling", which seems quite interesting after its first week, and my first assignment is to write about the story that has impressed me the most. My first thought, and the one which stayed with me the past few days was to talk about "The English Patient", since this is the story that impressed me the most, it is one of those stories that gets engrained in your heart forever.
I still remember having seen the movie for the first time at the cinema close to my place, back in 1997, and the emotions that kept on gathering during its showing. I remember how beautiful and tragic everything seemed, how every glimpse that the two characters shared felt like everlasting love. I liked Hana more that Katharine at first, maybe because she felt more down to earth, but after seeing the film for more than 6 times, I can say that I do understand Katharine better now.

I am sure that everyone will really like to experience such a life altering love story, that goes beyond being alive and present, but of course, without its tragic end.

I also remember looking for the soundtrack, that perfect music that rendered the movie even more enchanting. At that time CDs were not very popular in my country but I luckily found an American volunteer who I was working with in the summer of 2001 and she kindly recorded a tape for me. Needless to say I still have it.

But my journey towards the most beautiful story ever told did not stop there. A Romanian publishing house decided to print the book in Romanian and I can still recall the excitement with which I started reading the book, absorbing its every word. Then, in 2007, while in Northern Germany, I found "The English Patient" in its original English version in a small bookshop. What a happy encounter that was! And in 2010 I wanted to own a different, "improved" English edition, which I now do. While my passion grew bigger each day, I started following Ralph Fiennes's and Kristin Scott Thomas' careers and I can truly say they are incredible actors, never disappointing me with the parts they played. Oh, I also managed two years ago to get Michael Ondaatje's autograph on his newest release, "The Cat's Table". Lucky me, I guess.

As for the story developing in "The English Patient", if you have seen the movie or read the book, there is no point in telling you about its beauty and if you haven't read or seen the book, then you have to see for yourself as I do not plan on spoiling everything for you...

“Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theatre of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm only Happy when it Rains...

If you don't like the rain, then you will love it after you read Martin Page's book "About the Rain". 

Martin Page is a young French writer born in 1975 and who debuted at 25 with his book "How I Became Stupid". The essay - and my first book written by him - "About the Rain" was written in French back in 2007 and so far it has been translated only into Romanian, Greek and Korean. It wonderfully describes the role of the rain in eroticism, music or sacred matters. It represents a beautiful praise, both poetical and philosophical and I found myself wanting to write down every other line so I could remember it later on. However, I stopped at the following lines, mainly because they may be the most mesmerizing ever written about my favorite place in Paris, the Sacre Coeur cathedral and the simple yet miraculous rain.

 "Under the rain I am effervescent from my entire being. I am just like the Sacre Coeur cathedral in Montmartre, built from Chateau - Landon stone, which oozes a white substance when it rains. A chemical process is set off. Like a tablet of aspirin I foam and I quiver. It is not at all unpleasant to mix with the air. Disappearing, my body gains a presence. I am tightly connected with Nature. The drops fall on my skin and, just as on the surface of a swamp, they trace wavy, passing circles that reach my heart."

You can pay Martin Page a visit here.  
P.S. Thank you, Alle, for lending me the book :) 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Night at the Opera

While some of you may be busy with Dewey's Read-a-thon, which I couldn't join because of too much work and a lack in reading time, I did find some moments to escape the crazy routine and go see a wonderful show, staged by The National Opera in Cluj Napoca. I am talking about Puccini's mesmerizing "Il Trittico", which premiered last month when the new opera season started.

The three one act operas were directed by the Hungarian director K. Gyorgy and conducted by the Italian conductor David Crescenzi. The operas were sung in Italian, with Romanian translations available and they swayed from tragic love (Il Tabarro) to a tormented soul (Suor Angelica) climaxing with roars of laughter during "Gianni Schicchi". It was incredible to see such a complex performance and also one of my former students in a supporting role during the last act and I am definitely looking forward to seeing "Madame Butterfly" in the next few months.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Kate Atkinson - Life after Life: New Moon, New Life

"In the space between chaos and shape, there was another chance." (Jeanette Winterson)

The more you live, and read - in some cases - the more you realize that you've been harder on yourself than anyone else in your life. It was you who kept the windows dirty and did not let the sun in, fearing whatever was unknown. It was you who believed for too long  in something not worth believing. We delude ourselves with mere words when actions should speak for themselves. However, more often than not we should give up on people, not because we don't care, but because they don't care.

In "Life after Life" Kate Atkinson optimistically (or obsessively, it depends how you look at it) states: “What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” What if there were second chances? Or third chances? Would we still want to do things differently? Would we still want to try?

We are the stories we tell ourselves...and inbetween hypertext and metaphysics, "time is a construct, in reality everything flows, no past or present, only the now." The author retells the story of one's life in different times and from different perspectives and we find ourselves asking if novel and real life are alike, being able to do things once more, or life events are singular and final?

"Life after Life" has been praised by prestigious magazines and Kate Atkinson was shortlisted for The Women's prize for Fiction 2013.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Reading Challenges - September 2013

Having spent the month of August reading whatever my mind fancied, and it did fancy quite a lot of books, this September I am back to face three of the reading challenges I subscribed to:
I will be reading Dan Puric's "Cine suntem" (Who we are) and "The Easiest Way to Live" for Birgit's Non - Fiction Challenge, which I am proud to say that it is going smashing, with 15 books read so far;
Osamu Dazai's "Setting Sun" is meant both for Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge and New Authors Challenge, as is "The Girl with Glass Feet" which I have been planning to read for quite some time.

Happy Reading and Bonne Rentree!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

5 Things I've Learned from "The Bastard of Istanbul"

"Whatever falls from the sky above, thou shall not curse it..That includes the rain..."


I quite enjoyed reading "The Bastard of Istanbul",  for several reasons. Shafak's style of writing is one I admire, full of powerful images, Turkish folklore and the country's agitated past, and Shafak has quite a unique talent for storytelling. 

The book was published in 2006 and it stirred a public controversy due to the account of the mass killings of the Armenian people by the Ottoman government in the 1920s, recognizing it as a genocide. The writer was accused of insulting the Turkish national identity through the voice of the main character and she was sentenced to three years in prison, but the charges were later dropped. This was the first time I have heard or read about the genocide, and it felt rather strange, just happening after the First World War and people already pretending it did not happen. 

On a more happier note, the book is full of Turkish and Armenian food and sweets and a few of the culinary products were tasted on my trip to Istanbul two years ago, but not ASHURE, which plays such an important part all along the novel. Ashure, or Noah's Pudding is believed to have been made by Noah himself after the flood, with  some of the ingredients that were left. More on its story and the recipe here.  

The third thing I discovered was the story behind djinns, or genies, who can interact with people, (and they do so in the book) and who have free will and can do good or bad. 

Dervishes were not something new to me, since I have read about them and I also saw them dancing and whirling in a wonderful show back in Istanbul, but the book stresses once more their importance in the Turkish culture. 

 One cannot mention Turkish elements of culture without some linguistic examples, and SEREFE seems quite an interesting one. It means "Cheers!" and you can learn more about its history here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

All Hail the Queen!

                   Happy Birthday to Madonna!

Friday, August 9, 2013

What my Favorite Writer Is Reading...

Have you ever wondered what your favorite writers are reading? I have, and weeks ago Jeanette Winterson wrote about what she recommended as some of the best releases of this year. All five are memoirs and this was quite foreseeable mainly because Jeanette herself wrote a wonderful memoir two years ago - Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? - and I am sure she wanted to check if others are better at this :) Jeanette, without doubt yours is the best :)
I checked what the five books are all about and there are two that I may think about reading somewhere in the future: "She Left Me the Gun" and "A Fort of Nine Towers". The rest don't seem to intrigue me...

The Wave A profoundly moving, piercingly frank memoir of learning to live with grief--that begins in Sri Lanka on Dec. 26, 2004, when the author lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived.
A Fort of Nine Towers A young Afghan man's searing and redemptive memoir of his family and country. Omar survived imprisonment and opened a secret carpet factory to provide work for girls who were forbidden to go to leave their homes. Inflected with folktales, steeped in poetry, this book is a life-affirming triumph.
Bad Boy Renowned American artist Fischl has written a penetrating, often searing exploration of his coming of age as an artist, and his search for a fresh narrative style in the highly charged and competitive New York art world in the 1970s and 1980s.
She Left Me the Gun When Emma Brockes was ten years old, her mother said 'One day I will tell you the story of my life and you will be amazed.' Growing up in a tranquil English village, Emma knew very little of her mother's life before her. She knew Paula had grown up in South Africa and had seven siblings.
I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp The sharp, lyrical, and no-holds-barred memoir of the iconoclastic writer and musician--progenitor of American and British punk rock--which charts the coming of age of an artist and an indelible era in rock & roll history.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sous le Ciel de Paris...

July is over and what a Paris - related month it was, with lots of books and French music and movies! Oh, how I love holidays with worries aside...
Here are some of the movies I have seen this month, hoping you will be curious enough to give them a try:

"Ma Mere" (My Mother), starring Isabelle Huppert, whom we talked about months ago, is a movie based on Georges Bataille's book with the same title and it presents quite a disturbing story between a promiscuous mother and her troubled son. Having watched an interview with the director, I was made aware that the sex shown was meant to make us cross moral boundaries... It is a movie I would recommend to those who want to check where the new French cinema is heading.

"Dieu Est Grand, Je Suis Toute Petite" (God is great, I am Really Small) is a light movie about Michele, played by now the famous Audrey Tautou ("Amelie") , who struggles with becoming Jewish and still keeping her Jewish boyfriend.

"Amour" is probably one of the most beautiful movies I have seen so far and I am so thrilled that such cinematic jewels are still made by talented directors such as Haneke, whose two other movies I will surely watch. "Amour", which premiered in Cannes in 2012 and won Palme d'Or, the highest distinction tells the story of a love beyond common understanding between an old couple. It is definitely a must see for anyone who still believes in the powers of simple yet touching love stories.

"Dans la Maison" (In the House) was such an amazing discovery. The story is so intricate and captivating, the actors (Kristin Scott Thomas included) are so talented that you find yourself on the edge of your seat impatiently waiting to see what will happen next between the bored teacher and the student whose inspiration goes beyond the limit. Excellent movie!

All four movies seen for my pleasure but also for Paris in July Challenge :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Paris Wife - Six Word Sum Up

Paradise is lost when you stop believing.

"The Paris Wife" is probably the best book I will have read this year. I was expecting a love story, but what a love story that was. One between the mighty Ernest Hemingway, just before he became famous and Elizabeth Hadley Hemingway, his first wife. Hadley recounts the years she spent married with Hem, from the first year when he was struggling to finish his first stories and up to the end, when he almost finished "The Sun also Rises" (which he dedicated to Hadley and their son, Bumby).
Eight years older than Hemingway, Hadley dedicates her life to become a supportive wife, while they spend most of their marriage in Paris, befriending Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound or Zelda and F. S. Fitzgerald.
Paula Mclain portraits the couple as a single being, with identical haircuts and nicknames, each one calling the other "Tatie", they ski and drink together, but one day Ernest meets Pauline, whom he seduces in front of Hadley and who will become his second wife.
Although it may seem like a simple love story, filled with betrayal, it is not just that. It is a love story that scares you forever, since Hemingway, married for the fourth time, will write in  his memoir "A Movable Feast" that "I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her."

You can find an interview with the author about this book here.

Read for Paris is July and  New Authors Reading Challenges. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Reading Challenges - July 2013

The not so hot month of July is almost entirely devoted to reading French literature or novels set in Paris because such an addicted fan of everything French cannot stay away from this challenge about which you can find out more here. 
Besides reading my first Romain Gary and Robbe-Grillet, my third Stephen Clarke, which seems quite a funny book, just like the previous ones, and the famous Paris Wife, I am going to tackle one book for the Japanese Literature Reading Challenge, but I am not sure which one (yet) and some non-fiction books, if there is enough time for reading and sleeping and falling asleep while reading :)

Joyeuse lecture! :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vanessa et Benjamin

The most beautiful song of Vanessa's album "Love Songs" is definitely this one, mainly because I also love Benjamin Biolay who produced the entire album and signed eight of its songs. Voici la version live "Le Rempart" and I also recommend "Les Roses Roses" :)

Moi j’ai peur du noir
J’ai peur de la nuit du hasard
J’ai peur ici de n’plus savoir
J’ai peur de me perdre, il est tard
Là sans lumière, j’ai quel espoir ?

If you like it and you want to listen to the whole private concert, then click here :) 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

La Musique de Paris en Juillet

I decided to join, for the third year, Paris in July Challenge, which is one of the simplest yet most entertaining challenges, mainly because one can mix books with movies or music, not to mention other fun activities, all related to France and/or Paris. You can read book about France, written by French authors or listen to some French piano bar music... your choice and your delight, since you cannot think about Paris without a smile lingering on your face, but what happens or will happen in Paris stays in Paris, right? :)

The soundtrack for this July will be Patricia Kaas and Vanessa Paradis, whose latest albums are simply beautiful.
Do you have a preference for one of the two? :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Manuscript Found in Accra (or How to Fight the Best Fight)

You already know how much I appreciate Paulo Coelho's writing and now you can see those are not just simple words :)
This is my review for the French Publishing House Flammarion who kindly offered to me the French edition. In a nutshell, I consider the Manuscript as good as The Alchemist, with the advantage that it does not follow an actual plot and it can be read whenever one feels that they lack courage or determination... A perfect book to gift any friend... or foe :) 

“Combats le bon combat de la foi” (1 Timothee 6:12)

Pour ceux qui lisent constamment les livres de Paulo Coelho, etre fidele aux desirs qu’on puisse avoir est un leitmotiv qui ne demande pas trop d’explications. Coelho reste fidele a son desir d’ecrire un livre tous les deux ans, un livre qui puisse changer le monde, le rendre meilleur, meme si ce desir puisse paraitre un peu desuete. Et encore une fois l’ecrivain y parvient, par des mots simples mais prestigieux, car la verite ne devrait jamais etre trop compliquee.

“Le Manuscrit retouve” est un livre qui presente les valeurs importantes que la vie nous offre a la fin d’un combat avec nous meme, avec les autres, avec les prejudges de la societe ou on vit. “Le Manuscrit” est un livre qu’on puisse relire quand le combat est trop dur, quand on doute tout autour de nous, quand tout nous semble difficile, quand on a peur de l’echec ou du changement, quand on aime mais on ne recoit pas de l’amour en echange.

“Sois toi-meme” nous dit Coelho, et “ceci devrait etre suffisant.” “Aime, parce que tout autre chose est silence.” Est-ce qu’il y a des mots plus vrais que ceux-ci? 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dan Puric (or How to Speak Beautifully about Your Past)

 If you come from Romania, then you are bound to have heard and even admired Dan Puric. However, this post is not about his great talents as an actor, it is about how beautifully he can talk when it comes to his and our past, us as a nation, his family and his torments.
Last month I had the chance of meeting him, hearing him speak about Romanian martyrs and the Romanian church along the years, and because I am a lucky person after all, I managed to steal two autographs on his two (out of three) books. Oh, and he also wished me Happy Birthday :)
Dan Puric is an exceptional person and I am glad we have already realized that, taking into account how many people were present for his talk and how crowded the grand ballroom at Metropolis seemed before he entered. And because nothing could speak better about his nature than his own words, here are a few quotes from his most recent book, "Be Dignified!" which I tried to translate without omitting their poetic side:

"I truly believe that people who understand life in its depth cannot be too cheerful."
"What's with some memories that cannot be forgotten? Maybe they are pieces of a soul that accompany us forever..."
"After all, what is friendship but that wonderful honor of our soul in which truth can rest."
"Not everything that you have lived has the right to become a memory."
" Then, growing up, I gave to them, to those that looked at me from beyond the fence, my soul. And they rolled it around in the dust of life and gave it back to me, squashed, beaten and lifeless. I sadly took my own soul into my arms and caressed it. Then, when it would heal, it would leave me smiling and throw itself naively into the longing arms of those around. And again, smashed by the cheerful yet unknown waves of life, it would lie tired at my feet, telling me it was for the last time. Since then, I have been burying and digging out my own soulful flight just like a curse." 

You can watch a wonderful interview with Dan Puric here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Reading Challenges - June 2013

June looks like a good month for doing some meaningful reading while sipping lemonade under the shade (well, a girl can dream now, can't she? :))
Bellezza will be hosting her Japanese Literature Challenge and I will join in, since I can't really stay away from that, so I have already started reading "Out" by Natsuo Kirino, which seems like an excellent thriller, the type that you cannot put aside, even if it is 3 am.
Also, I will indulge in some non-fiction books for Birgit's Challenge, and I have in mind, among others, Lenoir's "Petit Traite de Vie Interieure" (Short Treatise on Inner Life).
I am also looking forward to Shafak's "Bastard of Istanbul" mainly because I really enjoyed all the books I have read and which she penned.
Last but not least, I hope to be able to read "The Einstein Girl" by Philip Sington, for the New Authors Challenge. The subject is quite intriguing and it seems like the perfect book to start my holiday with.
Happy Reading to all!

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Books That Changed My Life

Today, Paulo Coelho, one of my all time favorite writers, asked his readers to name the five books that changed their lives. So, how could I not have complied with his request? :)
Here are my FOUR books that really changed life as I see it, and it is only four because I always leave room for more surprising books that may come along...

Do you have any books that changed your life? :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Isabelle Huppert - Woman of Many Faces

My passion for French movies is still growing and I have recently discovered a wonderful actress, Isabelle Huppert, who turned 60 but looks a lot younger than that, whose career began in the '70s and who has been nominated (and also won a few prizes for Best Actress) at international film festivals.You can find more info here. 
 Here are my impressions on the three movies she plays in:
"Gabrielle" is the story of a married woman who realizes she does not love her husband anymore and she actually dares to tell him that face to face. The whole movie is centered around the discussion between Gabrielle and her husband who cannot understand her reasons and lack of love. Huppert manages to embody the cold woman perfectly well but what I did not enjoy was the unrealistic ending, or maybe realistic for the 1920s.
"The Piano Teacher" is a masterpiece, just like Elfriede Jelinek's book. Huppert plays the part of the masochistic piano teacher Erika Kohut who feels attracted to one of her students, played by talented Benoit Magimel. The relation between them becomes quite complex and ends tragically. The movie is extremely tense and it shows, one more time, that Isabelle Huppert is an incredible actress.
"My Worst Nightmare" presents the story of a broke guy who is about to lose his child and the relationship/ affair he develops with a married, cold woman, Agathe, played by Huppert. It is one of those cases in which the two characters should never have met, but they did and we realize in the end the reason. Despite Huppert's performance, the ending did not seem plausible at all because the characters seem too different to be together for a long period of time... but then, I am not a director :)

My next stop: Isabelle Huppert in "Madame Bovary", directed by Claude Chabrol, one of Huppert's favorite directors. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Audition - Six Word Sum Up

 Japanese literature is great, but Ryu Murakami's books are fantastic, as in mind altering and I can't really name another author who kept me at the edge of every page with every single book I read. "Audition" is tagged as a horror story, but you only discover this in the last twenty pages or so, the tension and the mystery surrounding the female character building up till the moment when you realize that nothing is what it seems, including beautiful young ex-ballerinas...

Lying makes you discover troubled women.

"What husband has never speculated how free he might feel if his wife were suddenly out of the picture? And how many count the days till she takes the kids off for a week with her folks? Let these men actually lose their wives, however, and few can even summon the will or energy to run wild; it’s only then that they recognise the support system they’ve been taking for granted. When Aoyama lost Ryoko he became mired in feelings of utter powerlessness."

"Silhouetted against the off-white walls, she walked to the chair, bowed with modest grace and sat down. That was all, but Aoyama had a very distinct sensation that something extraordinary was happening all around him. It was like being the millionth visitor to an amusement park, suddenly bathed in spotlights and a rain of balloons and surrounded with microphones and flashing cameras. As if Luck, normally dispersed in billions of tiny, freefloating, gemlike particles, had suddenly coalesced in a single beatific vision – a vision that changed everything, for ever. He was aware of an indescribable, fizzy sort of feeling in the pit of his stomach, and of the voice of Reason in his own head chanting the refrain:This can’t be right, it doesn’t make sense, things like this aren’t supposed to happen. But the voice grew weaker as the fizziness seeped into his bloodstream and spread through his system."

The Guardian offers a great review here and you can also watch the trailer for the movie based on the same book, that is if creepy movies do not scare you :)  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Giveaway Winner

There were 12 entries in the giveaway, my first giveaway, and the winner is lucky Rikki, the one who hosted this giveaway and whose idea we embraced. Congrats, Rikki! :) The book will be on its way soon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Non - Fiction Giveway Hop

Welcome to my first giveaway on the blog, kindly hosted by Rikki and which starts today, the 26th, ending on the 29th! 

I love reading non - fiction books so I am giving away one of the best books I read last year, "How to Be a Woman", by Caitlin Moran. It is a funny, yet sometimes serious book about the troubles and bliss of being a woman, among other things :)The book is in English and it will be shipped via The Book Depository if you live abroad, or via the Romanian post, if you live in my country.

What do you have to do to win it? Leave a comment with your name and e-mail and tell me why you would like to win this book. Also, you can mention one or two non - fiction books you enjoyed reading.The winner will be announced on the 1st of May.

Here are the other blogs taking part in the giveaway hop:
Rikki's Teleidoscope 

The Book Garden
Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Caitlin who? Caitlin Moran, the feminist :)

Thanks to my lovely friend Birgit, I managed to read Moran's second book, "Moranthology", after reading her bestseller "How to be a woman", which I totally loved and not just because she praises Madonna as an iconic figure. Her two books are incredibly funny and in "Moranthology" I especially loved her insights into issues that we may be familiar with: being poor, living in caravans, smoking marijuana, Michael Jackson's funeral or squirrels' testicles :)) What I didn't enjoy that much in "Moranthology" were the topics that did not ring any bell to me, or the one which she also talked about in her previous book, her crazy rendez-vous in Berlin, with lady gaga... Still, the book made me laugh and it will certainly make you, if you still think you have a sense of humour :)
Here are some quotes from "Moranthology":
 "So here I am, the next day, in London. Getting off the coach at Victoria Station wearing a gigantic hat - to make me look thinner - and carrying a lemon sponge in a suitcase. If I carry the suitcase by the handle, the cake will tip on the side - so I am carrying it flat, like a tray, in both hands. The time is 11.15am. I am due at the Observer offices, in Battersea, at 12.30pm. ' Just enough time to go to the British Museum and Buckingham Palace!' I think, having looked at the tiny map of London I have in my pocket. I am keen that this journey to London will mix business with pleasure - perhaps to create a new thing, 'plizness'. I set off, carrying my suitcase out in front of me, like a crown on a pillow." 
 A conversation between husband and wife:
"Me, happily: I am happy now. Bear and Puffin. That is us. We are Bear and Puffin. Good night, Bear.'
Pete: 'Good night.'
Me, eventually: 'Puffin.'
Pete: 'What?'
Me: 'Good night, Puffin. Say, "Good night, Puffin".'
Pete: 'Good night, Puffin. You demented f**king bitch."

You can also spend five minutes with her, in s short BBC interview.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jeremy saving the Planet :)

Now that season III of The Borgias has just started, it is time for some serious talk about Jeremy Iron's activism and work in saving planet Earth... sexiness aside, of course :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Non - Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop

(aka My First Giveaway on the Blog Ever :))
I do love reading non-fiction books and I was happy when Birgit started the non - fiction reading challenge, but when Rikki decided to host a giveaway hop on the subject, how could I have said no? :)
So, here I am, letting you know that you may join our giveaway until the 20th of April if you are a lover of non-fiction books... and please drop by to see what books we have in store for you.
To sign up for the giveaway please visit Rikki's blog

Friday, April 5, 2013


Depeche Mode are back with a fantastic album, Delta Machine, I can't refrain from listening to and this is, probably, my favorite track from the album...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Toasting with the Devil

 The last day of March brought about a lovely play by the incredibly creative and talented guys ( actually, one guy, two girls) from the independent film and theater company based in Cluj - Napoca and called "Create.Act.Enjoy"
 I first saw these great young actors in the show "A Toast with the Devil", inspired by M.J. Weeks' "The Devil's Diaries" and I instantly became a fan. They were so full of energy and creativity that the small price I paid for a ticket seemed quite an offence to their talent and work.
In a nutshell, the play had as its main character a rather sad devil and his two demons, Micky (pun intended in Romanian) and Lilith. What is the devil's story? He created a company whose business seems to flourish day in day out and his work is everywhere... or is it? I am still pondering on the answer, but what was sure was the fact that the three actors managed to make us smile and laugh and why not sign contracts... What contracts might you ask? Go see this wonderful show!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Reading Challenges - April 2013

After a month of struggling with books and reading, April definitely looks better from where I stand. I am planning to finish "Moranthology", a wonderful book Birgit offered me and which will count for her Non Fiction Challenge and I will continue reading for my Japanese Reading Challenge and read another Ryu Murakami book which I hope to be as memorable as his previous ones. Also, "The Anatomist" seems quite an interesting book so I will give it a go for the New Authors Challenge. See you on the other side of these books :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Waiting for the Clowns

 “Angajare de clovn”  aka “Old Clown Wanted” is a play written by the Romanian playwright Matei Visniec back in 1998 in Paris and which has been beautifully staged by the Municipal Theatre from Bacau on the 14th of March 2013.
The three characters, Niccolo, Peppino and Filippo are played by three talented actresses who manage to create a tender atmosphere of what art should mean for all of us: freedom.
The tension among the three clowns struggling to get the only available opening is released through small presentations of their acts on stage. Who will impress the most? The one pretending he is hungry or the one pretending to be dying? Is life nothing but a stage? Are we all actors until we die? The play partly answered these questions…  and made us smile at the end, with sadness in the corner of our eyes… 

Here’s an extract from the play: 

FILIPPO: (Gradually recovering himself) Is it you? Really you?
NICOLLO: It is me! I swear it! Me!
FILIPPO: But how? But why?
NICOLLO: That's life!
FILIPPO: God, I'd never have recognised you. If you hadn't blown your nose I'd never have recognised you.
NICOLLO: Oh, get away with you! You'll make me cry.
FILIIPO: As soon as you blew your nose I felt a shiver. I felt you right in my soul. I smelt you. I said to myself that's him, the bastard! Nobody else snorts like that. (He hugs NICOLLO again and kisses him) You old devil! All your life you've been snorting like a trooper!
NICOLLO: (Wrenching himself away from the lewd embrace) Stop it! That's enough, you're ruining my face.
FILIPPO: (Wiping his mouth) What the hell is that? What the hell are you putting on your face?
NICOLLO: Nothing.
FILIPPO: No wonder you've got so many wrinkles if you put that shit on your face!
NICOLLO: Where have I got wrinkles? Where do you see wrinkles?
FILIPPO: Oh, it doesn't matter. You could at least be happy to see me!
NICOLLO: What? Not happy? I'm happy.
FILIPPO: Say something then, you miserable old git, tell me how you are. Don't you feel crazy? I feel like I'm completely crazy! I never thought I'd see you again.
NICOLLO: Why wouldn't you see me again? Why shouldn't you see me again?
FILIPPO: Well, a while ago there was a rumour going round that you were dead. How did you manage that?
NICOLLO: Who told you I was dead? I've been working at the Fantazio. Why would I be dead?