The Vikings

Last month I read my first book about Vikings (it was How to Train your Dragon, and what?) and it struck me how little mainstream literature we have about these weird and wonderful people. I’ve collected a few of my favourite Viking facts, in the hope that you’ll all be inspired and start writing stories about Dark Age sea-farers. Go!

  • Vikings skied. Apparently it was a handy way to get around, and they even had a god of skiing, called Ullr. (Source)
  • Vikings kept BEARS for PETS. Please look up Erik Liefson for more of that pretty fantastic story. (Source)
  • They all wore eye-liner. Using kohl protected their eyes, and also made them look pretty fine. (Source)
  • Blonde hair was considered more beautiful, so brunette men would often bleach their lovely locks. Some people think it helped keep lice away too, so that’s always a plus. (Source)
  • To sort out arguments, Vikings would have ‘Ordeals’ to test their bravery. This could involve picking stones out of hot water, or carrying hot iron. (Source)

Bifrost

Bonus thing: This is a Wagnerian painting of Bifrost – which was, in Norse mythology, the rainbow bridge that linked Asgard and Midgard (the world of the gods and the world of humans respectively). So no, Mario was not the first to walk a rainbow road.

Are there any other interesting Viking facts you think should have made the list? Also can you recommend a Viking-ish novel?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

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Month in Books: November 2014

It’s December! Where has the year gone?

Anyway, I’m putting my excitement for Christmas on hold just long enough to write up my November wrap-up – here it is!

The Body – Stephen King – 4 stars This is a really interesting autobiography; it centres around one main event in King’s childhood, and builds up everything around it. With emphasis on writing techniques and routes, this book makes for a really interesting read.

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal – J.K. Rowling – 5 stars I thought it was time to read a whole novel in Spanish, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone seemed like a good place to start! I’d forgotten how much fun this book was.

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman – 4 stars My second re-read of the month! I love this story and setting so much, and the protagonist, Lyra, is just fantastic. I’m glad I read this one, but I don’t plan to go back to the other two; I felt like the shift into a second world and the concentrated antitheism let the series down for me.

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter – 4 stars This is actually one of my set texts for later on in my course, so I’ll probably have to go back to it again next year. It’s a collection of Ms. Carter’s takes on popular fairy tales and folklore, all beautifully written and most pretty dark. It’s really interesting to see the famous stories re-interpreted, and to understand what someone else views as the important components of the classic tales.

How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell – 4 stars I reviewed this here! I really enjoyed this little children’s book: set in the dark ages, vikings and dragons wrestle for superiority in a series of comedic and touching events. Not to be compared with the movie.

The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner – 4 stars I must have been feeling nostalgic this month, because this is my third re-read of a book I loved when I was younger. This is set in Revolution-era France, and is just fantastic. Scary, romantic and a little bit weird, I absolutely recommend this. Also the audiobook is read by Tom Hiddleston, so…

The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer – 5 stars This was my first time reading a proper theological book, and I really loved this one! It was both practical and inspiring, and really well written. I’ll be picking this one up again!

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness – Timothy Keller – 5 stars This is a tiny little book, but it’s full of really solid advice. Insecurity is loud and confidence is knowing you’re loved as-is. Highly recommended read!

The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars  I read more Christian non-fiction this month than I have in my LIFE, but I really enjoyed it! This one is more in the realms of apologetics: why does suffering happen, and how can an all-loving God condone it? Eloquently presented and thoroughly explored, this book taught me that C.S. Lewis is well-respected and over-quoted for a reason.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend – Kody Keplinger – 4 stars I heard a movie adaptation was on its way, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and pick up the e-book. I read it in one sitting. I think I’d call it a YA romance, but it did feel like it was considering some much more profound issues. I didn’t agree with everything implied, or particularly appreciate the emotional sparsity, but on the whole the book kept me hooked and I managed to get really invested in the characters. A fun, quick read.

Divine Healing: A Scriptural Approach to Sickness, Faith and Healing – Andrew Murray – 4 stars I was a bit unsure about this book at first: the first few chapters felt a bit repetitive and I wondered whether the great points Mr. Murray was putting across actually needed to be a whole book. About halfway through I felt a shift, and there was suddenly a lot more fresh and diverse material to get my teeth into. Because the subject of this book is something I haven’t read a lot about, I really appreciated the frequent Bible references, so I could go and look up evidence for myself. It’s important not to accept everything you read, even if it is a ‘Christian’ book! I did walk away feeling inspired and empowered, so I’d recommend this!

Eleven books! I’m quite pleased with that, considering I’ve been flooded with passages to read for my course. Have you read any of the books on the list? What was your favourite read of November?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Review: How To Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell

How to Train your Dragon – Cressida Cowell – 4 stars

How To Train Your Dragon

If you’re going into this book thinking it’s going to be like the movie (which is fantastic and wonderful and you should go and watch it), stop. It’s set in the same world, and there are similar characters, but it’s a different story with a different tone. Different, I hasten to add, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Set in a fictional corner of the Viking world, the story follows a misfit called Hiccup, whose only aim in life is to be accepted into his tribe of ‘hooligans’. The only problem is, to do that, he’s going to have to work out how to train his dragon.

Ms. Cowell has a funny and chatty writing style that makes this book both accessible to younger readers and entertaining for older ones. I found the tone not unlike that of Andy Stanton’s books, which, as you’ll know if you’ve read any of my tags ever, I LOVE.

The world building was compact and a total blast to read about; the caricature-like society shone with that special magic of a writer having fun. Although blatantly moralistic, the story had a twist of timelessness that the DreamWorks animators must have picked up on. It’s a little bit silly and horribly anachronistic, but it has heart. It’s the sort of book I’d love to read aloud to a group of children.

Fast-paced and reasonably short, there’s no time to get bored. I really enjoyed seeing a different side to Hiccup and Stoic’s relationship; in the book, Stoic is supportive of his son from the start, and struggles to grasp the concept that his son might actually be a rather unconventional viking.

It’s impossible not to compare the book with the movie, so to finish up the review I wanted to say a few words on that. The film is better. That said, the book is the spark, and the world created by Cressida is really fantastic. The plot changes in the movie were absolutely necessary to make it screen-appropriate, and the character changes, especially in the dragons, made the film the magical experience it is. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read the book; it does mean that you should view them as separate entities and expect to be entertained in different ways.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen the movie and/or read the book?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

INFP (Myers Briggs and Fictional Characters)

I’m really into personality tests, so when I saw this post on The Bumbling Bookworm’s blog, I was inspired to do my own take on it! What people are doing is taking the Myers Brigg’s personality test, which will leave you with a series of four letters to classify your personality. Obviously we’re all unique, so the descriptions are pretty general, but this fun site also tells you which book characters you share a personality type with!

Personally, I’m an INFP (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling and Percieving), which means I’m a huge idealist. Look at this cute quote!

Like the flowers in spring, INFP’s affection, creativity, altruism and idealism will always come back, rewarding them and those they love perhaps not with logic and utility, but with a world view that inspires compassion, kindness and beauty wherever they go.

What? That’s so nice! (Source)

Famous INFPs include William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkein and Tom Hiddleston, so I’m pretty happy with that result!

But here’s the exciting bit: which fictional characters are also INFPs?

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia (CS Lewis)

Lucy Pevensie

I love Narnia so much! I’m really happy to share my result with Lucy.

Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell)

Hiccup

Score! How to Train your Dragon is one of my favourite movies of all time…ever.

Violet Parr from The Incredibles

Violet Parr

 

Okay, so this one isn’t a book (unless it is in which case please tell me!) but it’s still pretty awesome so it made the list.

Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkein)

Frodo Baggins

 

I’ll take it! I always wanted to be a hobbit.

Marius from Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)

Marius

 

I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this one…Maybe it’s just the spontaneous singing?

Erik (The Phantom) from The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux)

The Phantom

 

Oh my.

Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Jane Bennett

 

I love Jane! I’m really pleased with this one!

Romeo Montague from Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)

Romeo Montague

 

I’m not overjoyed about this one. And it was really hard to choose between an angsty picture of Leonardo DiCaprio and The Guy Who Looks Like Zac Efron But Isn’t. I’ve made my choice.

That’s all for me! What personality type are you? Let me know which characters correspond to yours!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

 

My Top 5 Up-coming Books-to-Movies

These are exciting times for book-y people with book-to-movie adaptations popping up left, right and center. Here’s my top 5, in no particular order:

  1. The City of Bones – Cassandra Clare. This series is incredibly popular – and for good reason. The movie (apart from one or two questionable casting choices) looks perfect and I can’t wait to see the Shadowhunter world brought to life. Starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell-Bower, here’s the official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHlwRsl2uFk
  2. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green. I, along with pretty much everyone who has read this book, am completely in love with this story. Warning: this film will be weepy. Although there’s no trailer out to date, we do know that it will star Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters.
  3. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins. The second instalment of the Hunger Games trilogy looks to be as good – if not better than – the first, and words cannot describe my excitement. Here’s the teaser trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyPnQw_Lqds
  4. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (based on the books by Cressida Cowell). I admit to not having read these books (I plan to, though!), but the first movie was incredible – I can’t wait for the next!
  5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (based on the novel by J R R Tolkein) Okay, which Lord of the Rings fan is not stupidly excited about this? Watch the teaser trailer and I will say no more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnaojlfdUbs

Which movie adaptations are you most looking forward to?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani