Saturday, 27 June 2015

Reading Challenge Update Two

After promising myself I'd have a goal (ie. reading challenge)  this year I wouldn't actually flunk out on, and writing a happy update that was full of hope of getting somewhere, it happened: I lost motivation. 
Or more specifically, I got really distracted. 

By a game. +nod+

It swallowed up my March and April. It was horrible. 
When I wasn't busy looking at different appartments and moving, I was playing that game.
Then came a series of travels, but I might post about those at some later date~ 

I've recently (end of May) started to refocus, and have been able to read enough to type something here :D And I've had some more boxes ticked off, though that's starting to be only one or two per book now.

Alright. Here goes.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, Roddy Doyle.

Scary, in a no-happy-end-in-sight sort of way.
The novel is Paula Spencer's narrative: an abused wife, an alcoholic, a traumatised woman.
She uses the excuse of having "walked into a door" whenever her husband gives her an injury serious enough to go to the hospital for.

Doyle shocked Irish audiences when he wrote a TV mini-series about the honest portrayal of domestic abuse. That's when he wrote this book. And the thing is: it happens everywhere. And more often than you'd think. Paula tells of her romance with Charlo, and the slow "slip" into an abusive marriage that had started out so well.

She loves him, even when he hurts her.
This story hurt and scared me in a lot of ways.

The Reading Group, Elizabeth Noble.

Made me want to join a reading club. Forreals.

A collection of "middle-aged" women that come together once a month to discuss a book they have (or sometimes haven't) read. Over the span of a year, the five women, Clare, Harriet, Polly, Nicole and Susan, all different in age and each battling with their own monstrous dilemmas (not in chronological order: caring for an ageing parent, marriage that has gone stale, infertility, unexpectedly becoming a grandmother and a cheating husband)  transform themselves due to the books and each other's company. 

Spijt! (Regret!), Carry Slee.

I read most of Slee's books when I was younger (11-16 years old). She was one of the first authors that made me cry or laugh in public on train stations or dentist waiting rooms for no apparent reason (to the people watching me do the crying and laughing, anyway).

This is one of Slee's biggest hits, yet not one of my favourites. 
It's about a group of highschool kids, with one real "main character" David, and a kid that is always abused at school, Jochem. David lives with his parents and has no siblings, and is in love with one of the girls in his class, Vera, and is usually really shy when he is around her.Jochem is also in David's class. Jochem gets bullied not only by children in their class, but also by some of the teachers. 
The novel ends dramatically, when Jochem commits suicide after withdrawing more and more, when his cries for help are ignored (by David, amongst others). The title speaks for itsself, really. 

A Trilogy: The Legend of Drizzt. (Forgotten Realms series), by R.A. Salvatore.

I think I have a new favourite Dark Elf. :3
This is a prequel to the Icewind Dale Trilogy, where Drizzt Do'Urden is a supporting character of Wulfgar the Barbarian. A fantasy full of gnomes, dark elves, faeries, mindflayers, dwarves, orcs and
 humans, this trilogy was an interesting read.

Homeland.  Book I.

The first book tells the story of Drizzt's birth, and introduces us to Menzoberranzan, city of the Drow, or Dark elves. Drizzt's mother is "Matron" Malice, and his father the greatest weaponmaster of Menzoberranzan, Zaknafein.

Drizzt has a hard time growing up and trying to "adept" and find peace with his lot: the Drow society is a naturally matriarchal one, and a viciously evil one at that.
The night Drizzt is born, his older brother Dinin murders the eldest son of Malice, Nalfein, and the family Do'Urden destroys another great family entirely to climb in rank (from tenth to ninth noble house). 

Drizzt is told to become a warrior, for his skills show great aptitude, His father trains him for a few years, and then he is sent to the Academy, where he graduates with honours after ten years, during which he stoically learns to live with  the ways of the Drow, though never yet accepting them. 
After graduation, the cruelty of his race are more obvious, and Drizzt, after a lot of drama, decides to leave Menzoberranzan, despite all odds. 

Exile. Book II.

This continues Drizzt's story, telling of the wild adventures of the Underdark, a world inhabited by creatures darker than those of the night. For the ten years after leaving his home in Menzoberranzan, Drizzt lives only to survive, with no one to keep him company but his magical companian Guenhwyvar, a panther from a different astral plane.

Struggling with a lot of conflicting emotions, and torn by hurtful memories, running into enemies around every corner, always on the run from his homocidal mother Malice who is still trying to have him killed, in a world full of dangers like acid lakes and mindflayers that kidnap and enslave every roaming creature they can lay their "hands" on, it's a miracle that Drizzt manages to make friends at all, who drag him through the survival into a willingness to do more, to actually live. 

He realizes he will never be safe in the Underdark, and that all he does is drag his friends into the danger with him. Thus he decides to travel to the surface, and leave the whole Underdark behind him. 

Sojourn. III.

Though this book is not incredible, it is a must to the end of the trilogy. Once Drizzt manages to get to the surface, he is physically tormented by the sun, moon, and seasons alike. For a dark elf that has lived his entire life (forty years of it) in a place like the warm, stable and seasonless Underdark, things like snow, rain, icy wind and shortening/lengthening of days don't make sense. Yet he endures, for he considers it penance to the guilt-ridden (though usually misplaced) traumas that he has had to live through in the Underdark. 

He isn't welcomed anywhere either, for the race that he is born to happens to be an infamously scary one to most races who like to live. He is rejected, and even hunted, until he finds a place to live with an elderly blind man, Montolio, a ranger. He teaches Drizzt the common tongue, and enlightens him to Drizzt's heart of a ranger. Even though Drizzt is forced to leave, eventually, he finds a place that he can call home. 

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, by John Gray.

Eye opening in the most stupid of ways. It sold 50 million copies and was on the bestseller list for 121 weeks, one of the best non-fiction books of the nineties. This is one of those books that have been shelved in my bookplace for ages, collecting dust as it waits and waits to be given a true chance to impress. I hadn't had the time, nor - I thought- the need beforehand.

Then I suddenly wanted to write by post on the Boys vs. Girls , and did some research whilst writing it. After that post, the book suddenly started calling my name, and after having read the first two pages, I decided to give it a shot.

Men treat women like they would like to be treated, and women make the mistake of thinking men are like women. When you decide to accept these huge differences, and understand them for what they are, it's not really all that difficult. I might just write a continuation on my Men vs Women, once I've had some time to digest all of it.~

But I have been honestly enlightened in so many ways. I'll need to reread and keep trying to remember that men and women really are different on so many levels.

----* ------* ---- 

14 books in total so far, which is less than I "expected" to have read by now, but really a whole lot more than I've been reading in the past few years. (Specifically cause I haven't hit that time of the year yet where I start rereading the 7 Harry Potter books, the Lord of The Rings, Twilight and other series I know by heart..)

I figured exactly halfway through the year, my challenge is not yet a hopeless cause!~

Happy second half of 2015, peeps!

The Gypsy

Friday, 19 June 2015

If. (e.e. cummings)

If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
   And measles were nice and a lie wasn't a lie
       Life would be delight----
       But things couldn't go right
       For in such a sad plight
   I wouldn't be I.

If earth was heaven and now was hence,
   And past was present, and false was true,
         There might be some sense
          But I'd be in suspense
          For on such a pretense
   You wouldn't be you.

If fear was plucky, and globes were square,
   And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
          Things would seem fair---
           Yet they'd all despair,
           For if here was there
    We wouldn't be we.

(e.e cummings)

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Men Vs Women #1

There is a huge gap between those dwellers that once came from Mars (men), and those that used to live on Venus (women). Plenty of them are trying to close that gap, whether to seek equality or superiority. Personally, I don't agree with the theory that they are equals, neither will I say that one sex is superior to the other. They are just different. They have their own "manual", and their friends of similar gender will understand some things that their partner might never even grasp.

Sometimes, when I'm bored, I'll find myself watching whatever TV the people in the room are watching. (If I happened to be at a location with a TV). There's this funny Dutch show, Boys vs Girls,  with two teams (obviously) that quiz their way through statistics, facts, and overall silliness to reach a point where one of the two teams wins. (Fun fact: First season was a tie, 3 wins each. Second season girls won 4 times, boys 3. Third season the boys won 4 to 3. Season 4, another tie. Thank you Wikipedia)

I do admit though, that even I am a culprit in this stereotyping. I catch myself rolling my eyes and sighing "men...." or "boys will be boys.." more often than not. Obviously, usually around girlfriends. Maybe to find a bond/link or understanding with my own gender, rather than hating on the opposite one. Cause I don't. Hate men. At all.
So watching this episode tonight made me laugh out loud.
Hence, I thought I'd share.

Some of the things that were mentioned:

-- If women have to choose between living alone forever, or being in a relationship with a married man, they would go for the "single"option. Because men already have trouble relegating enough attention on their partner, it would be even worse having to share said attention.
(Maybe some men are better at spending attention than others, but in general, yes, agreed.)

-- Men gain more weight than women do after marriage. (Who knew, that was a tricky one.)

-- Women are so insecure about their own bodies, that 48% would hand in 5 years of their age to get the "perfect body".  (Just imagine ageing 5 whole yea... who am I kidding? Yes please.)

-- Men come up/make more excuses than women do to get out from under the "bed fun".  (Wait, what?)

-- Men's brains are highly specialized to use one hemisphere or the other to accomplish specific tasks. Women's brains use (big parts of)  both hemispheres for every task.

-- Men think women can't drive. They think women sure as hell can't park. Women actually tend to agree. They did this research in the UK a while ago. Turns out women are better drivers than men. +cough+

-- Men have averagely five  items in the bathroom (toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, soap, and a towel), women around 437 (Men can't identify most of these items).

-- Men can focus on narrow issues and completely block out unrelated information. Women naturally see every day things from a "big-picture" broader point of view. (Men can also focus on one specific task or activity for long periods of time, women are better at dividing their attention among multiple tasks or activities).

-- Women have a grocery list of things she needs, then goes out to the store and buys those things. Men wait till their fridge is empty but for something indistinguishable that's gone blue and furry, then goes out to buy everything that looks good, regardless of whether it will fit together in a meal.  (I'm not good at this one. I should work on being more of a woman in this respect.)

-- Women will dress up to go basically anywhere, including (but not exclusively) shopping, to see their friends, putting out the trash, answering the phone, for a date, or reading a book. Men will dress up for weddings or funerals. ( A bit crude, this one. When women were given a choice though, between a man who spent too much time on his looks or a man who cared not at all, they chose for the vain-mirror-man. True story.)

-- Men have a dominant sense, which is vision. Women don't have one dominant sense, all of them work together, and all of a woman's senses are, in some respects, more finely tuned than those of a man.

-- Men are able to compartmentalize information, stimulus, emotions, relationships, etc, into seperate "cabins" or categories. Women tend to link everything together. (The fact that it's rainy outside and you just stubbed your toe against your bedside cabinet does little to improve your mood and therefore it must be karma conspiring against you when also your boyfriend leaves the toilet seat up. Amiright?)

The Gypsy