Beauty and the Beast Adaptations to Look Out For

So we’ve all seen (or at least heard of) the Disney adaptations – animated, a Broadway musical, and now a live action starring Emma Watson – of this classic fairy tale, and it’s one of my favourite stories of all time. What I wanted to do today, though, was list a couple of other interpretations of the story that may have slipped your notice! In no particular order:

Beastly (2011) Shamefully, I haven’t read the book, so I’ll just say a little about the film. This is the modern-day Young Adult movie version of the story, starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen and Neil Patrick Harris. Pretty heavy-handed with its morality, and uncomfortably obvious in soundtrack choices, it is at least a creative twist on the classic story.

A Court of Thrones and Roses – Sarah J Maas I guess I would call this a New Adult Fantasy interpretation; although it sticks reasonably closely to the fairy tale, it’s set in a world with fairies, and I think it works hard to step outside expectations.

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh Potentially my favourite on this list (find my review here), this is a Young Adult novel set in a sort of Fantasy, Pre-Islamic Middle Eastern world that puts a whole new twist on the story, and that embellishes the core story elements into a whole new fairy tale.

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter This is a collection of short fairy tale re-tellings, two of which are direct re-tellings of Beauty and the Beast. This book is pretty graphic, and uses fairy tale tropes to discuss feminist and gender issues. Carter certainly doesn’t pull any punches.

The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux Last but not least, we have The Phantom of the Opera! (I reviewed this here) I watched the musical multiple times before realising the connection with the story, and I think that’s what I like about this gothic Parisian re-telling: it is very liberal with its interpretation.

Those are all of my top picks, but I know there are loads more books based around Beauty and the Beast! Are there any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

The Wisdom of Hilaire Belloc

So I only recently heard of Hilaire Belloc, but you may recognise some of his more famous quotes! A twentieth century Anglo-French writer, he has such a fantastic way with words, and I was instantly drawn to his sense of humour. All that said, here are some of my favourite Belloc quotes – enjoy!

Any subject can be made interesting, and therefore any subject can be made boring.

(‘A Guide to Boring’, A Conversation with a Cat)

Then let us love one another and laugh. […] Let us suffer absurdities, for this is only to suffer one another.

(The Path to Rome)

The object of a religion or a philosophy is not to make men wealthy or powerful, but to make them, in the last issue, happy: that is, to fulfil their being.

 

It is in the irony of Providence that the more man comes to control the material world about him, the more does he lose control over the effects of his action; and it is when he is remaking the world most speedily that he knows least whither he is driving.

(Survivals and New Arrivals)

All creation must be chaos first

(The Four Men: A Farrago)

And I couldn’t really write a post like this without ending on this utter gem:

When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
‘His sins were scarlet, But his books were read’.

What’s your favourite quote? And which quips and gems have I missed?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Review: The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton – 4.5 stars

The Miniaturist

I was in a kind of fiction-reading-slump when I picked up this novel, and – no exaggeration – the first paragraph snapped me right out of it. This book is beautifully written, well-crafted both structurally and syntactically, and just thoroughly enchanting.

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam, the story focuses on the lives of an unusual little household. A wealthy merchant marries a country girl young enough to be his daughter, and she moves in with his prim and religious sister, their nosy maid, African manservant, and two dogs. Although some of the characters may seem like fairly run-of-the-mill story components, it’s the relationships between all of these people that kicks the story into being. The people are three dimensional and complicated, and they are what pulls the plot along at a good pace.

This book is full of twists and turns that I couldn’t have predicted, and the unpredictability – the mystery – is what I think will make this book really memorable for me. This is just a sample of really really good story-telling.

One little thing that did niggle me was the ideology. There are a lot of key issues addressed in some way in this book (no spoilers!), but there were a few times that characters spoke and reasoned about these things in a way that would fit perfectly into our modern society, but that seemed a little anachronistic for their context. I wanted more transition; more space so that a counter-cultural stance isn’t just portrayed as moral integrity, but as something learned, discovered.

Overall though, the setting of this book is magical, and I feel pretty confident in saying that this book will drag you back to 1600’s Netherlands, and you won’t want to tear yourself away.

If you’ve read this book too, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Review: You Break What Falls – Robert Okaji

You Break What Falls – Robert Okaji – 4 stars

‘You Break What Falls’ is a quick little poetry collection which you can access (for free!) here. It consists of six little poems, and guys – I would suggest it’s worth a look!

Each poem is succinct and thoughtfully crafted, grounded in tangibility, and yet light with abstraction. Although there were points where the philosophy felt a little heavy-handed (especially in ‘In Praise of Rain’), as a whole the collection was delightful to read. I loved the almost haiku-like simplicity of the lines, and the way each poem focused on specificity without running out of things to say.

My particular favourite of the collection was ‘Mirror’ – it was so perfectly contained that it left me wanting to give someone a sincere yet animated high five.

The other thing is, Okaji excels at last lines. Every single on of these poems is rounded off neatly, concisely, and without limiting the breadth of meaning behind the poems.

Have you read through this collection? Which would be your favourite poem?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Movements: Beat Poets

So I recently watched the Chilean movie ‘No!’ which details the plebiscite in 1980, in which the country overthrew a particularly nasty dictatorship. One thing that really inspired me about the film was the way that media played a huge part in the campaign; people literally ‘used their words’, and completely changed the direction of the country.

I love the idea that literature can be so powerful, so I’m starting a little series of posts under the title of ‘Movements’, talking about literary movements that worked to positively affect their society. Today we’re starting with the Beat Poets!

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night

-from ‘Howl’ by Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was an American poet (among many other things) who graduated from Columbia University in the 1940’s. It was at university that he made friends with Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and William S Bourroughs. These men would all be leading figures in what would come to be known as the ‘Beat Generation’, or the ‘Beat Movement’.

In part, the movement was a response to the end of World War Two, and a protest against the Vietnam War. Most Beat literature was popularised during the 1950’s, and was concerned with criticising a lot of core cultural aspects of America. Its essence was the questioning of the mainstream, and defying the norms of culture and of literature.

Ginsberg wrote:

Since art is merely and ultimately self-expressive, we conclude that the fullest art, the most individual, uninfluenced, unrepressed, uninhibited expression of art is true expression and the true art.

-Source

Although this was never a huge movement in terms of the number of participators, it was highly influencial, and it has been argued that the hippy movement of the 1960’s found its roots in Beat Poetry.

Many writers involved with this movement were also very interested in meditation, Eastern religion, and hallucinogenic drugs; they were looking to reach a higher consciousness, and were not content to remain within the traditions of their society.

Got up and dressed up
and went out & got laid
Then died and got buried
in a coffin in the grave,
Man—
Yet everything is perfect,
Because it is empty,
Because it is perfect
with emptiness,
Because it’s not even happening.

– from ‘Mexico City Blues’ by Jack Kerouac

Is this movement something you’d heard of before? Do you have any favourite poems from this group? And what other movements would you like to see a post about?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Hold Out Your Arms

I was saddened to hear yesterday about the passing of Helen Dunmore. You’ve probably heard of her: she was an award-winning writer, having authored 10 poetry collections, and 12 novels. She was 64 years old, and had only recently been diagnosed with cancer.

But what really struck me about this news was the release by her family of a poem she’d written in her last days. The poem – entitled ‘Hold Out Your Arms’ – is reproduced in this Guardian article, and I really recommend you check it out – there’s something beautifully innocent about her portrayal of death, and although it is a sober read, it is both chilling and peaceful.

As you push back my hair
– Which could do with a comb
But never mind –
You murmur
‘We’re nearly there.’

Dani

Month in Books: May 2017

I hope you’ve all had lovely Mays! Here’s a little book summary of how mine went:

The Arrival – Shaun Tan – 5 stars If you saw last month’s wrap-up, you’ll know that I only recently discovered Shaun Tan’s work, and that I am completely in love with it.

The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood – 3 stars I was actually really disappointed about this. 3 stars is by no means a bad rating, but I usually really love Atwood’s books! This is a Dystopian, but I felt like it didn’t ring true. Of course The Handmaid’s Tale must be horrifically difficult to try and match, but I did think this one fell a little flat.

The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Just out of curiosity! I found this a lot more readable (in terms of accessibility, this isn’t a comment on the politics!) than I thought it would be.

Citizen of the Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein – 4 stars I heard that this was a childhood scifi classic, so I decided to give it a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I don’t really have a scifi-reading background, but although it was very ‘genre-d’, I found it accessible, and still very human. I was actually really surprised to find that it had been written in the 50’s; it still stands as futuristic – and just really cool – today.

The Abolition of Work – Bob Black – 2 stars A little essay pertaining to the idea that all work is slavery and therefore no one should do it. Very readable and mildly humorous, but also a little too silly to really take seriously. I found the perspective interesting though!

Vicious – V.E. Schwab – 4 stars A Young Adult novel that takes the superhero trope and refreshes it. This was a re-read for me, and you can see my latest review for it here!

By Searching – Isobel Kuhn – 5 stars This is an autobiography of Isobel Kuhn, who was a Canadian missionary in China during the 1920’s. She writes fluently and I love her tone! She’s such a cool woman, and I just loved hearing her story from such a personal level; she’s very open and vulnerable. This is the first of what I believe to be three books detailing her life story – I’m really looking forward to getting to the other two!

The Glories of God’s Love – Milton Vincent – 3 stars A little Christian book to remind people of what the gospel message means day to day. Although I love the concept, I have to admit to getting a little bored with the writing style – maybe that’s me being a terrible person? Either way, its very short and very accessible. Three stars!

And that’s all for May! Recognise any of the titles, or have any recommendations for me to tackle in June? I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this month!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

ENFP (Myers Briggs and Fictional Characters)

Today we’re talking about ENFPs! According to the 16 Personalities website:

ENFPs are fiercely independent, and much more than stability and security, they crave creativity and freedom.

Often described as one of the most enthusiastic and lovable types, so whether you are an ENFP or are friends with one, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at some fictional ENFP examples!

Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Aang.pngOne of my favourite characters from one of my favourite cartoon series, Aang personifies the Campainer personality type!

Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)

Willy Wonka.jpgI’ve always had mixed feelings about Willy Wonka – is he not a bit creepy? Anyway, there it is.

Nymphadora Tonks from the Harry Potter series (JK Rowling)

Tonks.jpgTonks!

Alaska from Looking for Alaska (John Green)

AlaskaAlaska is wild, a free-spirit, and deeply feeling. ENFPs tend to be portrayed as a lot happier, so it’s interesting to see another side to the type.

Bruno from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne)

Bruno (striped pyjamas).jpgI always think kids are harder to type, so this one’s a maybe! But I do think he’s creative and outgoing enough to be plausible.

Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins)

Peeta_MellarkI had to choose a picture from earlier on in the series – everything else was too sad 😥

So, if you’re an ENFP, do you relate to any of these characters? Are there any you think might be mis-typed?

Let me know if there are any other personality types you’d like to see a post on!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Month in Books: April 2017

Here’s a little round-up of what I read in April! As always, I’ll link you up with the Goodreads page for each book.

Job – Joseph Roth – 4 stars  This is about a twentieth century Russian family of Jews, and their struggles and eventual emigration to the USA. There’s a lot of really interesting interplay with the Biblical book of Job, and overall I really enjoyed this!

The Red Tree – Shaun Tan – 5 stars Shaun Tan is an Australian artist who I think is quite big right now! This was my first introduction to his work, and it blew my mind. This was easily one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen.

The World’s Wife – Carol Ann Duffy – 4 stars This is a collection of poems by our Poet Laureate here in the UK. Each poem is from the perspective of a woman from a famous story whose voice we don’t usually get to hear. Some are funny, some sexy, some sad, but they’re all incisively clever, and force the reader to re-think some of the stories we’re all familiar with.

Intentional – Paul Williams – 4 stars This is a tiny little Christian book that encourages people to be brave enough to talk about faith. It’s not a guilt trip, but a call to authenticity.

A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett – 4 stars I’ve never really been a Pratchett fan, but when my friend told me this was her all time favourite book, I decided I should give it a try. And I loved it. This is almost on the same level as Howl’s Moving Castle ( but not quite). I loved that the humorous surrealism didn’t come at the expense of warmth and character depth.

Black Coffee – Charles Osborne – 3 stars If you were to look at the cover of this book, you’d think it was by Agatha Christie – and it does pretend to be. It’s actually a novelisation of one of Christie’s plays, and although it took me a few pages to realise that, it kind of lacks the nuance that the other mystery novels in the series have. The structure and dialogue are hers, and the rendering of Hercule Poirot as a pompous and frustrating caricature is Osborne’s. Mixed feelings about this!

Medieval Ghost Stories: An Anthology of Miracles, Marvels and Prodigies – Andrew Joynes – 3 stars This does what it says on the tin: it’s a collection of Medieval ghost stories. It was really interesting to see the kind of stories people were telling before Gothic influence, but part of me wished the book was a little shorter. There are a lot of stories here, and not all of them are that interesting.

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh – 5 stars And finally, I re-read The Wrath and the Dawn. I thought it might be one of those times where it’s better in your memory, but this book is still pretty good! Here’s the review I wrote for it the first time I read it.

That’s all I got through in April – how many of these have you read? What was your favourite read of April?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Books to Judge by their Covers

Having (pretty much) finished my literature degree, I decided it was also time to finish my blogging break. There’s a whole world of books still to read! And let’s face it, no one has time for sub-par stories, so here are my top five creative covers to books I probably haven’t read. They look great, though.

  1. Jules Verne – Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Brazilian edition, designed by Carlo Giovani)

[Brazil] Journey to the Centre of the EarthIt’s 3D and beautiful and 3D. And we all thought Jules Verne couldn’t get any better.

2. Ray Bradbury – Farenheit 451 (Design by Elisabeth Perez)

[match] Farenheit 451.pngIt’s a literal matchbook. This design is smart and cool and a little terrifying. (Spoilers just so we’re all on the same page – it’s a Dystopian about burning books)

3. Lauren Beukes – Zoo City (Designed by Joey Hi-Fi)

Zoo CityHow amazing is this typography, though? This blows my mind.

4. Mary Shelley – Frankenstein (Designed by Pol Alert)

[meat] FrankensteinWhy yes, that is real meat. This one is so grim that I nearly didn’t include it…but someone spent all that time sewing slabs of raw meat together, and I think we have to honour that.

5. On Such a Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee (Designed by Yentus and Markerbot Studios)

[3D] On Such a Full SeaI just can’t get over the 3D stuff. It’s just a slip, so you can take it off and still have a wonderful reading experience, but I guess you’d have to store it by itself rather than on a shelf? It looks cool, but maybe not practical at all?

So there were my top five creative book covers – what books would have made it onto your list? And how are we feeling about 3D covers?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani