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

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

Review: Vicious – V.E. Schwab

Vicious – V.E. Schwab – 4 stars

Vicious

I originally read this in 2012, and I loved it. It blew my mind: it was gritty and there were superpowers – but not in a cheesy, muscles-and-Lycra kind of way – and it has this snappy, non-linear structure. I picked it up again last week for a re-read, and to be honest, I kind of wish I didn’t. It was the teeny-tiniest bit better in my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think this is a really good novel. It’s careful of cliches, and I think it puts a lot of work into being believable. ‘Vicious’ does all the superhero-y things you need it to do – moral conflict, ethical tension, violence at a safe distance – and humanises them. This book sports a cast of really fantastic character ideas. Maybe that was part of the problem, though: the characters never seemed completely realised. They played roles and sported brilliant quirks and motivations, but they never quite made it off the page. It hurts me to say this, because the character concepts are phenomenally imaginative, but a book whose distinction lies in humanity needs to excel in it, and I’m not 100% sure this one did.

The pace was full throttle throughout; this is a very quick and intense book to read. Although it was definitely violent, it wasn’t unnecessary gory – it dealt out its action scenes efficiently, vividly and with real class. Although there are a lot of injuries throughout the story, it’s never sadistic, and that’s something I look for in books (as a slightly sensitive person).

So we have a cool plot, made interesting by non-chronological story-telling and characters that are starting to sneak out of their little stereotype boxes. I gave this four stars, because although there was something that felt a little flat, I powered through right to the end, and found the whole thing thoroughly satisfying.

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Did you know she’s planning on bringing out a sequel?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

The Art of Togetherness

So, I recently took up nail art as part of my fundraising efforts (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you could read this post). Nail art is pretty much my new favourite thing though. I love the intricacy of it, and the way it makes your fingernails look iced – almost good enough to eat.

DSC_0057

An early attempt at something vaguely hipster-y

And the reason this slightly random topic is getting a blog post is this: every single nail I’ve ever painted – ever – is kind of messed up. I make mistakes all the time – I swear, it is impossible to make straight lines on that kind of scale! But most people have ten finger nails. The smudge on the little finger, or the chip at the base of the thumb aren’t the main focus; it’s the total, the summation of the ten tiny paintings, together. The art is not in one single nail, because I don’t think any of them could stand up to that kind of scrutiny. The art is in the togetherness.

[You can always trust an English Lit student to run with the weirdest metaphors – I’m not even sorry.]

This whole thing got me thinking about community – whether that’s family, housemates, colleagues, church or ‘squad’. I think every time, there’s something really beautiful about togetherness. We really really weren’t made to be alone.

There are an absolute tonne of books that deal with community, but today I wanted to point out some of my favourites.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis 

This applies to all of the books, but my particular favourite scene is in The Horse and His Boy, where we get a glimpse of a peace-time Narnian community. I love the way that everyone knows everybody, and there’s a real sense of inclusion and all round ‘getting along’.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Is this not everyone’s favourite, though? I am so in love with the Clave community: the way that although there are differences and personality clashes, there’s this fierce loyalty among the shadowhunters.

The Bible

Maybe slightly different to the other books on this list, but for real! The Bible is full of community – even in the Trinity (the doctrine of one God, three persons), there’s a real model of harmony and putting other people first. In the early church, we see the new Christians selling their belongings to provide for less well-off members of their community. (Acts 4:34)

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

I think this is maybe an obvious pick – there’s such a heavy  emphasis in this series on friendship, and not going it alone. My favourite example of this is Frodo taking the ring to Mount Doom: his friend Sam his there with him until the end. There is such intense loyalty and selflessness in this story – gah. It’s great.

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

This pick is maybe a little more obscure than the others, but I’d highly recommend it! I wrote a review here, if you’re interested. My favourite thing about the community in this book is the glaring differences in upbringing, culture and circumstance of each of the women. They each have their own stories, but they have a web of support as a group of friends.

Is this really cheesy? I find a lot of books (especially post-Romantic period?) have this really focus on individuality, and being strong enough to defeat the odds in your own strength. To my mind, that’s neither practical nor practicable – I think a need for community is not a weakness; but a strength!

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

-Howard Zinn

I want to hear your thoughts! What are your favourite books about community?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

INTJ (Myers Briggs and Fictional Characters)

Happy Friday! A few days ago, I promised Kate of The Owl and the Reader a little post about what an INTJ might look like in the fictional world, so…here is that post!

I find Myers Briggs so interesting – so if you want to find out about other personality types, feel free to request! I’ve also done posts about INFP, ISFP and ENTJ.

Anyways, Kate is an INTJ – this means that she favours Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, and Judging. I referred to my favourite Myers Briggs website (it has pictures) to see what that could mean in practice:

People with the INTJ personality type are imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but they do not squander their energy.

I had a browse through this website to find some fictional characters that might share the INTJ personality type, and there was such an interesting mix that I put together a few more examples than usual!

Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr Darcy

Okay, so Darcy isn’t a saint, but he is definitely good at heart. I think this is one to be happy about!

Gandalf and Saruman from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

Gandalf and Saruman

So we have two examples of people at opposite ends of the good/evil spectrum. I’d take this as confirmation that you can choose your own path…or something.

Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Moriarty

Okay, so this is a little scary.

Severus Snape from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Severus_Snape

Again, lovely at heart.

Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Amy Dunne

Yep. Also a little bit terrifying. I’m just going to leave this here and back away…

Thomas from the Maze Runner by James Dashner

Thomas (MR).jpg

This is a really interesting one! I would never have thought of Thomas myself, but now someone else says it, I can see it!

Jean Valjean from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

kinopoisk.ru

I thought this was a great one to end on! There’s a really vast range of characters under this personality type, but I think Valjean is my favourite. He’s the definition of an overcomer!

That’s all from me – but are there any other INTJ characters you’d add to the list?

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani