Guest post – Priya

Today I’m very happy to introduce this month’s guest blogger, Priya, who blogs over at Tabula Rasa. I’m a frequent visitor to her blog – in addition to reviewing novels she has reviewed poetry, wrote a post about music recently, and although she has not mentioned this, she is a writer. I really enjoyed reading her short story, The Dew Eagle which you can read online here.

Priya 1. Who are you?

My name is Priya, which means beloved in Sanskrit. It is a painfully common name here in India, a fact that used to bother me until I discovered that it shares linguistic roots with the name of the Norse goddess of love, Frejya or Frigg. I was further delighted to read that Frejya rode a carriage driven by cats. Scandinavian myths are a new hobby and the mythology section of the campus library is my favourite haunt. A twenty-something language buff, I am a year into a Master’s in Linguistics. I love to read and once had a friend introduce me to a group with the line, “She eats books for breakfast.” For a cat-lover, I am quiet as a mouse and rather fond of comfort zones. I am a TV addict, devouring everything from Downton Abbey to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I am a passionate doodler, a daydreamer and a closet believer-in-magic.

2. Why do you blog and what is your blog about?

Tabula Rasa did not start out as a book blog. But because my life is largely composed of books, it was only natural for my passion for reading to eventually take over my writing space. Tabula Rasa turns five this month, and it has gone through many changes over the years. But peel off all the layers and you will find that it is still just a cozy place for me to find my voice.

3. Favorite books/authors/genres.

J. K. Rowling, Sir Terry Pratchett, Stephen King. These three have more in common than being writers of genre fiction. Their books are sincere, passionate and they have created worlds I care about as much as, and sometimes more than, my own. All three traverse uncharted areas of the mind, shine a light of hope in its darkest corners and most strikingly, often and with great insight, wield humour to combat its deepest terrors.

4. Kindle or paper book?

Every time this debate fires up, I want to remind people that it is the story that matters, not where it is written. I would read Harry Potter on eggshells! I have begun to embrace the handy Kindle lately, with the convenience of a lit screen and the harmless virtual highlighter. However, this is not to say that there aren’t days when I crave the smell of old paper and the coarse touch of a worn dust jacket… I guess a part of me will always remain old school.

5. Three things you learned from a book.

1. The Book of Brownies by Enid Blyton is a story of three friends who are tricked by a witch into kidnapping the King’s daughter. Banished from the Brownieland, they set out to rescue her. This was my first foray into fantasy. I do not claim to have understood either the nature or power of magic at the age of seven, but I do remember the conviction that I had stumbled upon something big. Soon, I developed a near-reverence for Blyton’s stories and idly dreamt of tea parties for pixies and fountains of lemonade.
Blyton taught me this – reading fantasy is like taking your mind to the gym. It is a crucial exercise that will strengthen your mind, stretch its horizons. Growing up, you will have hurtling towards you truckloads of knowledge, big facts and unshakeable emotions. School will offer convenient explanations for some, solutions that you can pack away in neat little compartments of your head. But fantasy will teach you to accept and love that not every problem has an answer.
Fantasy gave me, early on, the curiosity essential for learning even as it made me comfortable with the inexplicable. Years later, when Terry Pratchett told me that humans need fantasy to believe, to be human, he put into words an idea that had struck me at seven.
2. I learnt the significance of the written word from Possession by A.S. Byatt, which made me see the good in keeping records of life’s seeming inconsequentialities. Byatt inspired me to maintain a (fairly consistent) diary. I will never stop thanking her for it.
3. Joining a book club made me realize, on the very first meeting I attended, that sharing your experience of reading a book makes it at least twice as pleasurable. The book in question was Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I have always had issues with it, and while the discussion did not drive all of those away, it did introduce a myriad little details I had missed and allusions I had failed to draw. Readers are like snowflakes, no two are alike, and each one will add something of his own to the interpretation of a book. That was also the day I heard someone state that the aim of the club was not to critique books, but to admire them; this, I fashioned into my blog motto.

6. Best book to take with you on a desert island.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The book is more than an entertaining adventure. It is spiritual and cynical, offers both hope and an essential reality check. More than anything, it cheekily toys with your conception of truth. Pi Patel is an intriguing character and Yann Martel is a genius world-builder. Really, what better story to read on a deserted island than that of a boy who survived two hundred and twenty seven harrowing days on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger?

7. Favorite quotes.

I have always found Ray Bradbury to be full of this kind of sharp and delicate wisdom that forever sticks with you. I haven’t read nearly enough by him.

Life in the end seemed a prank of such size you could only stand off at this end of the corridor to note its meaningless length and its quite unnecessary height, a mountain built to such ridiculous immensities you were dwarfed in its shadow and mocking of its pomp.

– Something Wicked This Way Comes –

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.

– Fahrenheit 451 –

We never sit anything out. We are cups, quietly and constantly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

– Zen in the Art of Writing –

8. Three tips for writers.

I am no expert, the only thing I can attest for is consistency. I learned this from Ray Bradbury, who says you must collect all ideas you get and try to finish one piece (story, if you are a fiction writer) a week. Practice certainly made me better. So here is my tip – read what writers you admire have to say. Stephen King tells you to read, for every good writer is a reader. Even he insists on consistency, telling you not to wait around for the muse to appear. Neil Gaiman thinks that so long as you write with honesty and confidence, there are no rules. He basically tells you to set your own rules, which is the best and hardest advice you will ever get.

Priya01 9. What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about language and how it creates and shapes thought. I am also passionate about teaching, especially children. I rarely talk about the latter on my blog, as I have not yet fully explored it. But I do believe one of the greatest pleasures in life is witnessing that moment of understanding in a kid’s eyes, catching the expression as it travels from dazed confusion to twinkling clarity.

10. Last book that made you cry.

I surprised myself last year when I teared up reading The Iliad. Admittedly, some of it may have been because I had made it through to the end, a feat I had deemed impossible. The Iliad presented a tense build up to its final showdown. It had been predicted from the start that Achilles would kill Hector, but even so, when it happened, Hector’s death hit hard. I was alone at home and had been reading aloud to myself, when I choked up. I could only imagine the stunning response the scene must have invoked in a live audience and found a new admiration for the style of narration.
The King and Queen of Troy react to their son’s murder in typical Greek-epic fashion, with wailing monologues. But it was the scene when Hector’s wife hears his mother’s cry that I found truly heartbreaking. Andromache is in a chamber, ordering her maids to heat a bath for Hector when he arrives, when she hears the commotion and runs out. The page ended with these lines:

“On reaching the great tower and the soldiers,
Andromache stood gazing from the wall
and saw him dragged before the city.
Chariot-horses at a brutal gallop
pulled the torn body toward the decked ships.
Blackness of night covered her eyes; she fell”

My tears resumed at the end when the Trojan King begged Achilles for Hector’s body, and he complied. I once met an English professor who waxed eloquent about the emotional strength of the Indian epics in contrast with the Greek ones, especially that of the Mahabharata, which is ten times the length of Homer’s works. If I ever meet the professor again, I would ask him to go back and read this.

There is a book I have been meaning to read, called Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad by Alice Oswald. The book, which sounds intense and lyrical, is a translation of the Iliad, chronicling all the deaths leading up to Hector’s. Here is a reading from it:

din-marile-legende-ale-lumii 11. Ask me a question.
Which is your earliest or fondest book-related memory?

I have so many great book-related memories that is difficult to choose just one. I used to read Jules Verne and westerns and Romanian folktales, but one book I loved very much and I would read again and again was a translated old copy of world myths. I remember the first letter of each story was an elaborate composition of curls and lines, such as you would find in a book of fairy-tales and each story had pictures. That’s how I found out about Gilgamesh, Tristan and Yseult, El Cid, Gudrun, Siegfried and Brunhilde, and King Arthur. It’s amazing how the books of our childhood stay with us for a long time. To this day I love stories based on myths and fairy-tales.

Posted in Guests | 2 Comments

The Tawny Man Trilogy – Robin Hobb

For the last month or so, I’ve been caught between three books. I started Books v. Cigarettes by George Orwell, thinking I’d take a break from trilogies for a while, then joined DolceBellezza for a read-along of Little, Big, by John Crowley which I abandoned after reading about 10% of the story on my Kindle (I blame the Kindle, naturally) before deciding I really can’t wait to find out what happens to Fitz and so went back to the next trilogy that follows him on his adventures.

I strongly recommend you read my review of The Farseer Trilogy before continuing with this one. I have tried to stay away from major spoilers – you’ll find more by reading the blurbs on the back covers of the books themselves.

TM1   TM2 TM3

After the end of the Red Ship Wars, Fitz disappears. His role in aiding the Farseer line seems to have been completed – the Outislanders commanding the Red Ships have been defeated, and the people of the Six Duchies are slowly rebuilding their lives. A new heir is to be born to the ruling house of the Farseers, and although King-In-Waiting Verity is no more, the future seems to run on a promising course again.
For fifteen years, Fitz lives in seclusion together with his wolf Nighteyes and later on, Hap joins them. He’s an orphan boy Fitz adopts as his own. Then, his old mentor, Chade, comes for a visit and brings dark tidings. Once again, the Farseer throne is in jeopardy and Fitz is required for a mission. He has to find the missing prince, Dutiful, and restore him to Buckkeep Castle before a delegation from the Out Islands arrives with his betrothed, Narcheska Elliania. After being at war for years, the marriage between the prince and the Narcheska is the key to a long lasting peace.

Book One is about retrieving prince Dutiful from the hands of his captors. This will once again bring together Fitz and The Fool who together with Chade, must act to bring Dutiful back alive. It will also be a time of loss – Nighteyes is dead. By the start of Book Two, Fitz is mourning the loss of his wolf companion but he doesn’t have time to do so for long as a new challenge presents itself – he must accompany the prince and the Narcheska to the cold icy island of Aslevjal, where Dutiful has to cut off the head of the dragon Icefyre and bring it to Elliania’s family if he is to win her hand in marriage.
In Book Three, a small group of people make it to Aslevjal. It’s a cold and dismal place, and finding Icefyre is no easy feat. They encounter an enemy and an unexpected friend, and when they finally complete their task, it’s not exactly as they planned. All I can say without giving away spoilers is that at the end everybody comes out with what they wanted.

The Fool has a much more active role in this trilogy. Although he remains a mystery, some details about his past emerge, enough to fit the puzzles of the story together but not all of them. His many faceted personality and ability to transform himself serves him well, as he has made a transition from King Shred’s Fool to rich Lord Golden, an exotic man with a penchant for flashy clothes and witty conversation. His friendship with Fitz will suffer, but like a wound, it bleeds and then closes, leaving them both with a new outlook on their relationship and bringing them even closer. As it was stated in The Farseer Trilogy, The White Prophet (The Fool) and his Catalyst (Fitz) can change the world and this they do, setting it on a new course.

I liked Book Three the best. The revelations, the decisions, the harsh conditions and challenges that Fitz and The Fool have to face made me read most of it during last weekend. Although I’ve enjoyed The Farseer Trilogy more, that could also be because it was a new story. Now, I feel like I already know the characters to some extent which made it possible to see ahead in the story, but I guess that is to be expected. There were enough turns and twists in the last book to satisfy the pickiest reader, even one with an appetite for drama like myself. I was happy for Fitz because in the end he got what he desired most even if it had to come with the price of one good friend and a lot of heartache. A little too convenient but it fit the story nevertheless.

If in The Farseer Trilogy I liked The Mountain Kingdom, this time I was intrigued by the customs of the Outislanders. Their world could not have been more different than that of the Six Duchies. According to their customs, men were raiders, going out to the sea to plunder other lands, while women owned the land passed on through maternal line. Women had the power to make the important decisions, and they were organized into “mothershouses”, each belonging to a clan, living in tight-knitted communities. Paternity was not an issue as children were seen as belonging to a house rather than to a man, and the women were the ones who choose their partner and how long they lived together.

As usual, magic was represented by The Wit and The Skill, two very special abilities that could allow people who possess them to bond with an animal (those people are called “Witted”) and to communicate and even influence and heal others or travel through special pillars to distant places for those who possess the gift of “skilling”. There are those who have either one or the other and those who have both. Thick, Chade’s aide, a “half-wit”, has strong skilling powers, and while he can be difficult at times, he can also be funny.

Another interesting aspect of the story is the presence of dragons. The Fool sees them as the only animal more powerful than man and he’s determined to do anything in his power to see them restored to earth. Without them, he thinks there is no balance and man becomes the most powerful creature, something he wants to prevent at all costs. I found the idea intriguing and I’m curious to see what will happen to the dragons in the next three books.

Now I’ll have to wait patiently for the next trilogy to be completed – “The Fitz and The Fool” is still a work in progress but I was very excited to find out from Goodreads that the second book in the trilogy is coming out this year and the last one in 2016. I’m really looking forward to reading them.

oncetimenine250 I’ve read this for the Once Upon a Time event hosted by Carl@stainlesssteeldroppings.

Read in: April-May 2015
My rating: 4.5 stars

Posted in The Book on The Nightstand | 8 Comments

What kind of music do bloggers listen to?

I know what books and genres most of my favorite bloggers gravitate towards, but music? I don’t have the faintest idea. Do you listen to classical music while trying to get the words to behave? Do you nod your head to some R&B or hip hop? Do you feel inspired by epic music and pound away on your keyboard to movie soundtracks?
A blogger friend gave me the idea for this post when he asked me about my favorite songs/bands/singers, so I decided to write a post and share some of them with you.

1. Dépêche Mode
I have such great memories about this band. I grew up with them, loved and lost with them, and in 2006, when I was finally able to go to one of their concerts, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

2. Ed Sheeran – Give Me Love
I don’t remember how I stumbled on this one but I fell in love with it from the very first sounds. Sad, haunting, and the video clip is about a tragic story of a famous angel. I also like I See Fire which was on the soundtrack of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, Photograph, and the chorus of Don’t.

3. Coldplay
I love so many of their songs it’s quite difficult to choose – Clocks, Paradise, Fix You, Speed of Sound, and my latest favorite, Lost. I discovered this one last year during NaNoWriMo and it saved both my story and my sanity.

4. INXS
I’ve liked them for almost as long as I liked Dépêche Mode. Need You Tonight and Suicide Blonde are songs I listen to every now and again.

5. Lenny KrawitzBelieve in Me, Thinking of You, I Belong to You, and the newest one, Chamber, are all great tunes.

6. Florence and the MachineBedroom Hymns and Shake It Out

7. One RepublicCounting Stars

8. Marilyn Manson – this one was a surprise to me. I have heard of Marilyn Manson and found him slightly scary (I like Gothic but I find his makeup a bit extreme) but never really paid attention to his music until I was watching an episode of Salem and really liked the song at the beginning of the movie. At first I thought it was a Dépêche Mode song because it sounds similar, but the voice was all wrong so I Googled it. That was a shock. The song, Cupid Carries a Gun, is from the album The Pale King and after listening to the album over and over again (and liking most of the songs) I decided he’s definitely on the favorites list. Killing Strangers, The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles, Birds of Hell Awaiting, Fall of the House Of Death are my favorites. There. I’ve said it.

9. SantanaMaria

10. Lana del Rey. If you have watched “The Great Gatsby” with Leonardo diCaprio you’re probably aware of Young and Beautiful, one of the songs on the soundtrack of this movie. And if you haven’t watched it yet (the movie I mean), you should. It’s a feast for the eyes and a beautiful if twisted love story.

11. Justin TimberlakeMirrors

12. Maroon 5One More Night, She Will be Loved

13. Ellie GouldingBurn, Lights, Beating Heart.
Somehow she made it on a playlist on my mp3 player and I’ve been listening to her songs for months while jogging.

14. Pink.
When Stupid Girls came out I thought it was a great song and admired Pink for daring to be part of a video that was both hilarious and real. I also like Try and Just Give Me a Reason.

15. AdeleRolling in the Deep, Someone Like You, Set Fire to the Rain

16. Thievery Corporation
Claridad. A great gem of a song from the album Saudade, this one I discovered on a plane trip in January.

17. GotyeHearts a Mess. I love this one and the video is really strange; it reminds me of Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride”. Somebody That I Used to Know is another great song and so are the weird and wonderful sounds of The Only Way.

18. The Idan Raichel ProjectMi’Ma’Amakim (Out of the Depths). I heard this song years ago at a friend’s birthday and loved it instantly. I didn’t understand a word but that didn’t make one bit of a difference.

What are your favorites? Can you find some of them on this list?

Posted in Favorite Sounds | 22 Comments

A weekend trip to Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai National Park is about two hours drive from Bangkok. My husband and I have visited the place once before but always wanted to go back and explore further. Famous for its waterfalls, jungle treks and wildlife (including leeches!), it’s a perfect spot for a quick holiday because it has open fields as well as jungle treks. Many treks can be done without a guide, and we did two, one short and one long, stopping along the way near the running water to admire some colorful butterflies. The longer trek through the jungle took us three hours one way; the road wound up and down, straight and easy to walk on, then blocked by fallen logs, then almost vertical so we had to climb, while other sections of the trail had steps, some man-made, some just tree roots and hard packed earth. Quite a few thorny plants, some at eye level. My long pants were very useful to keep me scratch free but not great to keep the leeches away, even if I had sprayed my legs and arms with insect repellent. They probably liked the orange flavor. I should have worn socks.

Many of the animals didn’t seem too bothered to see humans – the gibbons were quite friendly, climbing up on cars and even coming close to touch people and beg for food. A curious baby gibbon found a scorpion but kept well clear of it.
The deer were grazing in the open fields, and a couple of them came quite close to an information booth where a ranger was watching. It felt so out of this world to just sit in the car and see the animal a few meters away. It wasn’t afraid, just grazed placidly as in the distance a fawn was bleating, probably calling for its mother. When we came back by the same route the deer was sitting on the grass.
In the jungle we spotted a crocodile, sunning itself on a log, and a baby monitor lizard tentatively making its way out of the water. Gibbons jumped between trees above us, big millipedes scuttled on the path and above all, extremely loud cicadas sang various rhythms.

The waterfalls didn’t have that much water – it’s best to visit them during the rainy season which is still a bit away – but we enjoyed dipping our feet in the shallow water and laying down for a short nap on the rocks near the small Kong Kaeo waterfall. The most spectacular, Haew Narok Waterfall, is a sheer fifty-meter drop to a natural pool at the base. Visitor access is restricted to a wooden deck accessible after going down 175 steps. Walking down the steps felt like descending from a sky scraper with no walls. I felt a bit dizzy but held on to the rails and walked slowly. Climbing back up was even more challenging because some steps were almost vertical. The way to Haew Suwat Waterfall is straight through the jungle. One of the most famous waterfalls, it can be seen up close, as the terrain is not that rocky.

The best part of the whole trip was seeing the animals in their natural habitat. The weather was hot but not as hot as in the city, about 28 degrees Celsius, and plants kept us away from the sun – it was almost like going through a tunnel. We saw elephant droppings and near a suspended bridge a Giant Black Squirrel (that’s the name of the species) bigger than a cat, who successfully avoided my attempts at photographing it.

Another famous attraction of the area is watching the bats come out at sunset. We found a place to watch them, behind a temple, a few kilometers away from the park itself. Apparently there is a bat cave somewhere in the mountain and if you’re there at the right moment you can see them flying away. What’s impressive about it is not that you see the bats up close – in fact they’re so far away they resemble a wisp of smoke – but the fact that it takes about five minutes (I looked at my watch) for all of them to fly away from the cave in a long queue. I’m glad we had the opportunity to see them.

On our way back we stopped at Khao Yai Art Museum and saw bronze sculptures and lovely paintings by Thai artists. My favorite is a painting I called “Beautiful Death”. There’s something beautifully ugly about it, like a reminder of the ravages of time.

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Posted in Travel | 18 Comments

Guest post – Brian

Today I’m pleased to post an interview with Brian, who blogs at Babbling Books. He loves the classics, Shakespeare in particular, and what I love about his reviews is that they reflect not only his opinion, but a desire to go beyond the words and into the heart of the writing itself.

Final Book Shot 1. Who are you?

First, I am a person who is all about relationships with people in my life. My wife, my family and my friends mean everything to me. They come before everything else.
Second, I am about morality and ethics. Trying to do what is right and absolutely essential to who I am. I do not look to a divine power for guidance here, instead it is based upon my own reason and feeling.
Next, I am a conscious being who strives to understand the Universe and humanity’s place in it. This means I am always curious and always learning about science, especially the “big questions”, as well as history, art, literature, philosophy and lots of other stuff.
All of the above sounds very serious. I am also a person who likes to enjoy life, including some of life’s material aspects. I really like having fun!

2. Why do you blog and what is your blog about?

I started a blog because I wanted to be heard. I love to share my ideas. As reading is my primary life’s hobby, and because I can relate reading to just about all my three interests, I choose book blogging. Of course it is not all about me; the interactions with others relating to my blog, and to reading, are an essential reason for my blogging. I do this via my comments section, through email, twitter, etc. This communication with others is so valuable and rewarding, it alone would make blogging worth it.

3. Who are your 3 favorite authors?

My favorite authors are:
William Shakespeare who is incomparably great. His characters, themes, language and humanity are so rich and unequaled by anyone else.

Hermann Hesse is admittedly a flawed writer who probably does not belong in an objective list of all time great authors. Yet his explorations of the human personality as they relate to history, art and human existence are right up my alley. He pushes all the right buttons for me. Thus for personal reasons he is among my favorites.

Albert Camus depicts a secular and gloomy view of existence that is infused with compassion and caring for other humans. This odd mix just does it for me.
Honorable mention to Anthony Trollope – I am tempted to add him as a fourth name. I find that his depictions of people and their interactions may be the most realistic out of all the authors that I have ever read. I really need to read more of his books before I actually put him on the list.

4. Kindle or paper book?

This is an enormously controversial subject! Though this confession may vex some of my friends, I must sheepishly admit that I love e-readers. When using one, I take a lot of notes and highlight text. I would never do this with a real book, as this would damage the tome. In addition the cutting and pasting feature is invaluable when including quotes in blog posts. Of course being able to order or download a book whenever I want it is so very advantageous.
Folks often mention that they lose the aesthetic feel of a book when using an e-reader. I confess that I find it difficult to appreciate the aesthetics of a paperback or even a low cost hardcover. I do appreciate aesthetics of higher quality hardcovers. However I really cannot afford to collect those anyway.

Though I know that sales of old fashioned books have stabilized, I am not sure that low cost physical books will survive indefinitely in the digital age. I do foresee a possible future where people mostly read digital books but where some people maintain collections of high quality hard bound books. I am thinking of something similar to the way that some folks have gone back to collecting vinyl records with high quality packaging.

5. Best book to take with you on a desert island.

I tried to come up with something intellectually rich and comprehensive. Obviously I would want my choice to be long so I choose “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare”.

6. Best book to use as a doorstop.

Though I think that there are a lot of bad books out there, I would contend that the worst books champion ideas that are detrimental to people and society. I must first note that I am not in favor of censorship or the suppression of ideas. I am in favor of criticizing certain ideas however.

I choose two Ayn Rand Novels as doorstops. They are “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead”. In certain quarters, particularly in the United States, these books, as well as Rand’s ideology, exemplified by these novels, are all the rage. The books simplistically categorize all group efforts, particularly efforts initiated by the government, as “collectivism”. Furthermore such group efforts are depicted as harmful to human well-being. Furthermore the books espouse an extremely narcissistic and cold form of individuality, over all other human values. Rand goes even further and tends to demonize characters – those who do not adhere to her dogma. These days this ideology is having an extremely strong influence in American government and politics and is helping to drive really bad and extreme political and social decisions. Though occasionally insightful, the ideas here are more often sophomoric. As final word on these books, I must mention that I find Rand’s storytelling skills to be downright awful.

7. Favorite quotes

Carl Sagan from “Pale Blue Dot”.
The below quote refers to a picture of the earth taken from the Voyager 1 spacecraft when it was four billion miles from Earth. In the picture the Earth is just a speck.

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The below quote is from William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. I am not always so nihilistic about life as this quote implies, but I do think it does put some things into perspective.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

8. Three tips for book bloggers.

1. Write as much or as little as you want. It is your blog.
2. Even if you are blogging about a limited subject, strive to express something about your beliefs and feelings about life and other important ideas into your blog. This is your chance to be heard.
3. Reach out. There is a dynamic and friendly blogging community out there. Engage with others. Comment on the blogs of others. Consider guest blogging or inviting others to write posts on your site. Join in on reading events, read along events, etc.

9. What are you most passionate about?

I tend to be passionate about social and political issues. These are the things that affect the most people. It is in these areas where much of our morality is played out. Though I believe that my views are moderate and reasoned, I feel very strongly about them and I am not shy about expressing them.

10. Last book that made you cry.

Though it was not the last book that made me cry, there is a passage from a book that never fails to make me emotional when I think about it. This is true years after reading it. It comes from “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse. When the main character, Siddhartha, has sunk into the deepest depths of despair as a result of the vacuousness of the world and the hollow life that he has created for himself, he attempts suicide by drowning. As he nears the end he hears the sacred word “Om”, which at least in the context of this story, is symbolic of the harmony and balance inherent of the Universe. At this moment Siddhartha chooses not to die. Though I am not a believer in external spirituality, I do place a high value in finding meaning and strength in life based upon one’s own positive values as they interrelate to the Universe at large. I find this passage to be enormously impactful and affecting in a positive way. Thus, this scene never fails to bring tears to my eyes when I contemplate it.

11. Ask me a question.

What book has influenced you or affected you the most?

That is an easy question because this book is also my favorite – Don Juan by Josef Toman, a Czech author. I love the mix of history, religion, the battle between good and evil and the strong positive message in the second half of the book. I have never met a person who has heard of it or read it, although one or two people have done so at my recommendation. That makes me sad, because it’s an incredibly beautiful book who deserves to be out there next to the best historical fiction. I own a Romanian translation and thanks to a good friend I met in the blogosphere, an English translation from 1958. The book came out in 1944.

Posted in Guests | 51 Comments

Happy New Year – Thai style

SS1 Songkran, or Thai New Year, starts today. From the 13th to 15th of April, there will scarcely be a dry spot or person in the entire kingdom.
Originally, I was told by various Thai people, Songkran was celebrated by pouring water over the elders’ hands, a gesture meant to convey paying respects. Also, people would gently splash water on their family, neighbors and friends. This was, and still is, a good time to make merit at a temple, either through donations or simply by praying for one’s ancestors. These days, however, things have gone full on crazy.

While I enjoy a holiday just as much as the next person, it’s not fun to walk down the street just to be drenched head to toe in ice water, some of it mixed with baby powder. I have been splashed while in a bus that had open widows, on the street, and once a guy armed with a water gun made a grab for the taxi I was in. Luckily the taxi driver locked the doors and I was safe but for a moment I saw myself forced to take an unwanted shower.

I get it, it’s the hottest month of the year, the water symbolizes washing away the old year, bringing good luck and leaving you clean for the upcoming one. For most people it’s fun and fun is good but with the risk of sounding like the Grinch, why should I be included? Why can’t people just splash others who look like they want to join in this kind of fun?
Last year I was on Koh Chang, an island on the eastern side of Thailand. Husband and I had rented a motorcycle and we were driving on the winding road, extremely steep in parts, much like a roller coaster. It was a great trip, and so far we had managed to elude the rain showers that broke every now and then. Until, in the afternoon, on our way back, we saw crowds waiting on both sides of the road and I knew then we had made the wrong assumption that we were going to get away dry. We didn’t. They were very thorough, and as other motorists slowed down to avoid running over people, we were forced to do the same and got a thorough washing down. Not even my phone and camera inside the backpack I was carrying between me and my husband got away. Ice water, powder, the whole package were poured down on us from buckets, sprayed from water guns and full on drenched from several water hoses. There was no way but to bear it and drive away as soon as we could on the only road. Nobody was splashing water on the beach.

The area we live in celebrates Songkran a week later, so there’s the added joy of having to go through this again. Last year when we ventured out by car, the only vehicle to use if you want to stay dry, we spent more than two hours driving at a snail’s pace through cars, motorcycles and pedestrians in various stages of undress walking the streets in various stages of sobriety. They were armed to the teeth with water containers, and all of them were drenched and painted with white powder.
This year I’m staying home. I have some great books to read, movies to watch, and enough food for a few days. There are enough things to occupy my time with while the city is waging its water war. Happy Thai New Year or Sawadee Pee Mai!

SS6

SS4

SS2

Posted in From The Land of Smiles | 18 Comments

The Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb

I’ve wanted to read a really good fantasy series for a while but I knew most of them spanned several volumes and I wasn’t quite ready for something so epic. When I told a friend about my dilemma, she recommended The Farseer Trilogy and she even offered to lend me the books.
There are no words to express how much I love these books. But I can’t draw that well, or take a picture to capture the brilliant magic behind the story, and if I looked at you insisting that you must read this, that this is the most wonderful story I have read in a long time you’d probably just wave me away. So words will have to suffice, poor as they may be.

farseer-trilogy The story begins with a boy. Well, actually it starts with the man the boy has become, looking back on the events of his life. Brought to Buckkeep Castle when he was six, he is left there – Bastard, as his grandfather who abandoned him and many after will call the boy. Son of King-in-Waiting Chivalry, the boy whose name becomes FitzChivalry is given in the care of Burrich, the stable master. Then King Shrewd takes an interest in the boy and asks Chade, his old assassin, to train him. Fitz is also given lessons in combat, writing, learns how to take care of animals and follows various assignations given by the king. It is not long before he becomes a weapon, a royal assassin whose actions change the course of history. He is Changer, Catalyst, his missions known only to a handful of people. He makes enemies – Prince Regal being the one who will seek his death, and friends – Prince Verity, Burrich, and even King Shrewd’s Fool, an exotic man nobody knows much about.

Fitz is the main character – everything revolves around him, his actions, and the consequences those actions have on his friends’ lives and that of his own. There is so much detail but the story never becomes complicated. I could write a summary of each book but there are too many surprises and I don’t want to give them away. So instead I’m going to focus on a few things I found very interesting.

Forging

The Six Duchies Kingdom is raided every year by the Red Ships – fighters who burn everything and leave none alive. Except the prisoners they take and “forge”; when the people are released they are but empty shells of what they have been, very much like zombies. Everybody is baffled as to the raiders’ intentions until we get to find out the purpose of their actions. That was a shocker but in the context of the story not surprising.

The Mountain Kingdom

This made me remember that famous song by John Lennon – Imagine. The Mountain Kingdom is a place where everybody lives in harmony, where people respect nature and live peacefully, where bright colors abound, where the king and queen live to serve the people and call themselves “Sacrifice”, where there is no opulence but everybody has what they need and everybody can come and go to the royal palace as there are no guards. This was my favorite land in the book. If I could choose one place in the books to live in, that would be it.

The Wit and the Skilling

The Wit is the ability to communicate with animals but that’s just the short version. The Witted (people who possess this gift) can bond with a creature to the point where they become a single soul dwelling in two bodies. Fitz bonds in turn with some of Burrich’s hounds and ultimately with Nighteyes, a wolf cub he saves. They can share thoughts without speaking and call each other “brother”. It was quite funny following the thought process of the wolf who lives in the here and now and whose routine is hunt-eat-sleep, without a care for the future. In time, Fitz and Nighteyes begin to share in each other’s traits and ultimately the wolf saves the man’s life through a very supernatural method.

The Skilling is the ability to share in other people’s thoughts. It can be used to manipulate by putting thoughts in people’s heads, even switch bodies for a while. But it can also be addictive and too much skilling can bring about a monstrous headache and complete exhaustion. Members of the royal family can skill, and Fitz also tries although not being trained, as the custom is, he’s more prone to making some serious mistakes. Imagine someone being able to see inside your head and find out all your secrets and innermost thoughts and then use them against you. That’s where putting up walls come in handy – the ability to shield your thoughts, but this takes so much energy that in a combat you can’t both fight and keep your walls in place.

The names

The Farseer line who rules the Six Duchies has always had names that reflected their character – the first Farseer, Taker, was the one who claimed the land for his own. King Shrewd, like his name, is a great manipulator but everything he does is for his kingdom. His sons – Chivalry, Verity and Regal, all live up to their names. Regal, the youngest son, is good looking and vain, jealous of his half-brothers (his mother is King Shrewd’s second wife), scheming and plotting murder.

The Fool and the Catalyst

King Shrewd’s Fool is quite the entertaining character – true to his name he is witty, full of tricks and extremely agile. But behind his painted face and sharp tongue he’s fiercely loyal to his king and through his riddles he tries to help Fitz as much as he can. In the last book his role becomes crucial and his purpose revealed. He reveals part of his plan to Fitz and calls him Catalyst, “the wedge I must drive into the world to change its course”.

References to The Lord of the Rings

This is something that became obvious in the last book – Prince Verity’s quest to the mountains to find the Elderlings who can help him save the Six Duchies from the Red Ships. I couldn’t help but think of Aragon and the spirits of the long ago kings, trapped in the mountain.
It’s a long quest and Verity can’t achieve his goal without help from Fitz and a handful of others. What the Elderlings are is not clear until Fitz and his group literally stumble upon them. To bring the creatures back to life, the ultimate sacrifice is required – one of the most emotional scenes in the book.

Love

Fitz loves Molly the candle-maker, a girl he had known since childhood. He wants to marry her but his duty to the Farseer kings is above anything else and so he must suffer heartbreak, especially after he finds out Molly is pregnant.
Prince Chivalry married for love a lady named Patience, defying his father’s wishes. She cannot have children so when news of Fitz reaches her, she is heartbroken but ultimately learns to care for the boy and to protect him.
Prince Verity must marry Kettricken, daughter of the ruler of the Mountain Kingdom, in order to open up trade with the mountain folk. What seems but a cold alliance at first will gradually become a great love story.
Burrich finds love as well, and he is probably the only one truly happy, although his happiness means somebody else’s suffering. Thankfully he is innocent of that and is able to live his life in peace.

*

There are many things I love about this trilogy – how the author uses the beginning of each chapter to offer snippets of the history of the Six Duchies; how women have just as important a role as men – the weapon’s master was a woman, and so was a Skilling master and some of the castle guards. But the thing I liked the most was following Fitz on his adventures and seeing how his bond with Nighteyes became stronger with time. Their relationship provided most of the humor in the story and I couldn’t help but think of another famous creature – Oy the billy-bumbler from Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series. Oy could also talk but in a more limited way, not like the wolf who does it through thought sharing, and both creatures are fiercely loyal. I was surprised how natural Fitz’s connection with the wolf seemed until I read this on Robin Hobb’s website:

“Robin Hobb is one of the world’s finest writers of epic fiction. She was born in California in 1952 but raised in Alaska, where she learned how to raise a wolf cub, to skin a moose and to survive in the wilderness. When she married a fisherman who fished herring and the Kodiak salmon-run for half the year, these skills would stand her in good stead. She raised her family, ran a smallholding, delivered post to her remote community, all at the same time as writing stories and novels. She succeeded on all fronts, raising four children and becoming an internationally best-selling writer. She lives in Tacoma, Washington State.”

I’m always fascinated by details from writers’ lives and how these details make their way into a story. Reading Robin Hobb’s short bio after enjoying this trilogy made me appreciate it even more. I was also surprised to see this is only one of the author’s pen names. Her real name is Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden.

After finishing this trilogy I immediately started on the next one called “The Tawny Man”. This follows Fitz and the Fool as they once again try to change the course of history. I was also very happy to hear there is a third trilogy in the works, “Fitz and the Fool Trilogy”, of which the first book is already written. I can’t wait to read it.

oncetimenine250 While I was reading this, Once Upon a Time started – one of my favorite reading events of the year so I’m more than happy to bring my contribution. The beautiful drawing is by artist Kim Kincaid.

My rating: 5/5 stars
Read in March-April 2015

Posted in Challenges | 13 Comments

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Oskar is a young boy trying to come to terms with the death of his father in the 9/11 crash. His mother and grandmother are his only family now, or so he thinks. When Oskar finds a key in a vase in his father’s closet, he thinks it’s a thread whose end will bring about a much sought after answer. Whose key is it and what does it open? Will finding the lock bring something of his father back? Was he meant to find it? His only clue gives him an idea of where to start, although it’s a pretty wobbly start and there are months of puzzles ahead, waiting to be solved.

I wasn’t taken with the book at first. I thought it was trying too hard to do something clever, and then I realized I was trying too hard not to like it. Oskar seemed like a smart boy – inquisitive, always searching, but burrowing his pain deep inside, letting it out only for the briefest of moments in conversations with his mother and grandmother. Their interactions range from silly to heart-breaking seriousness in the blink of an eye, the words warm and comforting then sharp, leaving invisible wounds.

Somewhere halfway the story my perception changed – what seemed at first a jumble of events began to have a shape – of what, I did not know but at least then I began to feel confident things were going somewhere. I became fascinated with the apparent ramblings of a young boy and the letters sprinkled throughout the book, letters from his grandmother or grandfather and other people I couldn’t keep track of. But at some point it didn’t matter who wrote them but what was in them. Ramblings turned to life stories, turned to feelings, turned to tears in me.
The black and white photographs (ordinary things most of them, until the end of the book where some of them become so much more); the jumbled writing (I gave up on that, who wouldn’t, I wonder), the pages of numbers, crossed out words – all this make the book an interesting experience, almost as if the writer wanted to give the reader as complete an experience as possible. There’s Oskar’s cat, Buckminster, leaping in the air, two hands tattooed with the words YES and NO, and other pictures whose meaning I didn’t understand but accepted nevertheless. I loved how the whole book is a mix of locks, keys, doors, conversations that open you raw, light, shadows, handwritten letters, relationships and feelings, feelings, feelings.

Oskar’s quest does have an ending – dissatisfying as I thought it was, but some sort of closure. This book I felt, was not so much about him making peace with the death of his father as much as the reader being given the reason why things happened the way they did. Because in trying to have a look at Oskar’s father meant going deeper into the family history and having a look at Oskar’s grandfather, a man scarred so badly by war and a long lost love that he gave up a future because he couldn’t let go of his past. It’s as much a story about loss as it is about love and looking at it all through the eyes of a child.

Some of my favorite passages:

To my child: I’m writing this from where your mother’s father’s shed used to stand, the shed is no longer here, no carpets cover no floors, no windows in no walls, everything has been replaced. This is a library now, that would have made your grandfather happy, as if all of his buried books were seeds, from each book came one hundred.

It’s hard to say goodbye to the place you’ve lived. It can be as hard as saying goodbye to a person. We moved in after we were married. It had more room than his apartment. We needed it. We needed room for all of the animals, and we needed room between us.

The walls of the hallway were Nothing, even pictures need to disappear, especially pictures, but the hallway itself was Something, the bathtub was Nothing, the bathwater was Something, the hair on our bodies was Nothing, of course, but once it collected around the drain it was Something, we were trying to make our lives easier, trying, with all of our rules, to make life effortless.

She died in my arms, saying, “I don’t want to die.” That is what death is like. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter how good the weapons are. I thought if everyone could see what I saw, we would never have war anymore.

My rating: 4/5 stars
Read in March 2015

Posted in The Book on The Nightstand | 14 Comments

Guest post – Caroline

My guest for this month’s interview is Caroline who blogs at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. Her blog is one of my favorites because she writes in a way that makes me want to read most of the books she reviews, even one or two that I started and then abandoned. We also hosted some reading events together, the most recent being Angela Carter Week back in June last year. I was very happy when she agreed to answer the following questions.

1. Who are you?

This is such a difficult question. I wrote three different versions, one worse than the other. The first was an almost philosophical exploration of what “I” means. The second sounded a bit like a job application, and the third gave the impression that all I ever did was reading and failing at not buying more books.
And then I thought of a meme I’ve seen years ago on a few blogs. I liked it so much but never tried it myself. I figured this guest post was a good opportunity. As far as I remember, it was called something like “I’m from”. The idea was that you try a sort of prose poem about yourself and what you like.

Purple I’m from dark purple and rainy days, the pattering of drops on a glass roof, the dawn chorus on a bluish summer morning, from stuffy boudoirs and open spaces. I’m from sleeping cats and playful dogs, from rounded hills and leafy trees, bookshelves as high as cathedral roofs, sacred spaces and noisy pubs, from friendships spend talking until the early morning, from a smile on a dark night on a lonely road. I’m from a lively room and a quiet garden, from a writer’s despair and a reader’s delight. I’m from an old bathrobe and a silky dress, from high heels and bare feet on dewy grass. I’m from a book devoured in three hours and a poem learned by heart. I’m from silver jewelry and lucky charms, and talismans carried in a pocket. I’m from honey milk on sleepless nights, from popcorn while watching a movie, from olives and dates and elaborate meals, from coriander and spices. I’m from a painting of blackberries and African masks, from a song by the Waterboys and a composition by Glass. I’m from magnolia blossoms and the scent of lilac, from fern in the shade and moss under trees. I’m from the murmur of a brook and the wind in the reeds. I’m from saying no when it needs to be heard and yes when that’s what I can give. I’m from walking through Bath and dining in Rome, from book shopping in Paris and sleeping in Brittany. I’m from no parents, no siblings, no relatives, no kids; I’m from a few very close best friends. I’m from a day spent reading and a night at a club. I’m from no God but many saints, from prayers and from song. I’m from melancholy and the jokes of a trickster, from a pun and a curse. I’m from heady perfumes and freshly washed sheets, from a story told by firelight. From a poem by Yeats and a cat on the lap, from an owl’s hoot and bats chasing at twilight. I’m from foggy autumns and yellow leaves, a walk on a graveyard and a phone call late in the night.

Blue

2. Why do you blog and what is your blog about?

Initially, my blog was meant to help me stick to a daily writing routine. I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to blog about. I have too many interests to stick to one topic only and, finally, I began to write two blogs in parallel. One was a movie blog dedicated to war movies, written in English, the other one was a blog about spirituality, music, and personal essays, written in German. I wrote them both on an almost daily basis for half a year – and still post regularly – before I decided it wasn’t enough. I had to start another English blog, dedicated to “Books, Movies, Cats and Other Treasures”. At first the blog was more varied but then, eventually, it became more and more of a book blog, or rather a blog, in which I review mostly literary books. These days I feel that that isn’t enough anymore. I feel like starting a book blog dedicated to children’s books and another one focusing on genre other than crime. And maybe a blog about writing.

Talisman

3. Favorite books/authors/genres

My favorite fiction: literary fiction, crime and children’s books.
My favorite nonfiction: memoir, psychology and spirituality.

I don’t think I have a favorite author. Not anymore. It used to be E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, and Raymond Chandler, but since I’ve read all of their books when I was a teenager and haven’t re-read them, I don’t know if I would still like them as much. I suppose I would.

I’ve loved too many books to pick only a few favorites. I have a list on my blog, in the About section. The books I like the most are those that touch my soul and find their ways into my dreams. Giorgio Bassani’s novel The Garden of the Finzi Contini is one of them and so is Jonathan Coe’s The House of Sleep and Paula Fox’s The God of Nightmares.

I’d like to mention three nonfiction books that have been extremely important to me. They are the type of books I usually don’t review. Ken Wilber’s Grace and Grit, Suzanne Segal’s Collision With the Infinite and Judith Handelsman’s Growing Myself.

4. Best book to take with you on a desert island.

I wouldn’t take a novel. I would take either one of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s books, or one by Ramana Maharshi. Or a book like Barbara Walker’s The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets because it is so full of stories.

5. Best book to use as a doorstop.

I would never use a book as a doorstop. I simply couldn’t. It would feel sacrilegious.

6. Three tips for bloggers.

Enjoy what you are doing and try to write regularly. Whether once a week or daily doesn’t matter, just stick to some routine. Be welcoming and answer comments. Someone has spent time reading what you have to say and was kind enough to leave a comment, so, unless you’re a famous blogger who receives hundreds of comments, you should always try to answer.

7. Best/worst blogging experience.

I’ve had too many great experiences blogging to name just one. I love to organize events and I’m always astonished and happy to see how many people join and contribute.
I also love that I’ve made some extremely good friends. I wish that I might meet them in real life some day.

8. You are also a writer. Tell us more about your books.

I am a writer but I’m not published yet. Until this year that was by choice. I didn’t want to publish too early. I’ve written two novels in German, several dozen short stories, personal essays, thousands of diary pages and a lot more. Then, a few years ago, I realized I didn’t want to write only in German and French anymore. Since then I’ve finished two novels and over a dozen short stories in English. Just like I read in different genres, I write in different genres. My „first love“ will always be literary fiction, but one of my novels is an Urban Fantasy novel, another one is a children’s book. At the moment I’m finishing another children’s book and a book for adults. I’ve also started a crime novel.
A month ago I finally took the plunge and sent out a few query e-mails and submitted some of my short stories to literary magazines. I’m still waiting for answers. The response time, in some cases, can be up to eight weeks or more. I’ve got one negative response, which was still very nice. The agent told me that she thought the book was hard to sell but that she’d be very interested in reading anything else I had to offer. Since she’s one of the top US agents, I’m more than happy.

9. What is your writing routine like? Do you have one?

I write daily, mostly in the mornings, and again later in the afternoon. I try to write at least 1000 words. On good days it’s a lot more. Sometimes less.

10. Four tips for writers.

Write regularly. Daily. Fix yourself a word count and try to stick to it. If you write more – that’s good, but try not to write less.
Don’t show your project or talk about it before it has a shape. If you share too early you might disperse the energy.
Finish your projects. Starting one story/book after the other is a form of procrastination.
Don’t try to publish too early!

11. What are you most passionate about?

Authenticity, compassion, and tolerance. Not just of different skin color or gender but of different styles and different rhythms.

12. Last book that made you cry.

I don’t usually cry because of books, that’s why I’ll always remember the one book that did make me cry. Back when I read it, I was working for an editor, reading foreign language fiction and assessing whether a book would be a good fit for the German market. One of the books the editor sent me was by an English author I’d never heard of, Lucy English. She’s written three novels, one of which, Children of Light, was sent to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been moved emotionally as much by any other book. It’s set in the South of France and in Bath. It contains so much joy and so much heartbreak. It is a truly lovely book. Her second book, Our Dancing Days, was a very emotional read as well. I’ve still kept her first novel Selfish People “for later”. I’m sad that she’s stopped writing and that hardly anyone knows her.

13. Two books that helped me overcome difficult situations.

In the past I’ve often sought solace in books. I distinctly remember two books that I found during extremely difficult moments and which were so helpful. One was a book of short texts by the Japanese author Kenko. Here’s my favorite quote from the book:

It is a most wonderful comfort to sit alone beneath a lamp, book spread before you, and commune with someone from the past whom you have never met…

The other book that was important was Nell by US writer Nancy Thayer. Her novels aren’t exactly literary, they are rather mainstream, but I like her very much. I loved that the character Nell was almost exactly like I was back then.

14. Ask me a question.
Will you stay in Thailand or do you have plans to move somewhere else?

I plan on staying here for now but I don’t see myself living in Thailand forever. I may go back to Europe at some point.

Posted in Guests | 14 Comments

About Bookcrossing and other bookish thoughts

bookcrossing22 Last Sunday I went to our regular bookcrossing meeting held here in Bangkok once a month. I’ve been to these meetings for a few years now and it’s one event I look forward to every month. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s quite simple: people go to bookcrossing.com to connect with other readers; they leave books in train stations and cafes and hospitals and hotels, or specially designated “bookcrossing zones”, any place it can be picked up by others – bookcrossers or not – but before they do that they register the book on the site and write a number code (BCID) which can be later entered on the same site and this way track the book on its journey. I have registered books this way and left them at hotels or gave them away to people. Some came to me from Vietnam and UK, some went to Cambodia, Germany and Australia. It’s always exciting to find an email which lets me know somebody has found one of the books I released and I can see how far the book has traveled.
A while ago one bookcrosser from London was coming through Bangkok on her holiday and joined us for a chat about books. She brought James Patterson’s novel Toys, which I look forward to reading as I haven’t read any of his novels before.

March books There were lots of wonderful books to choose from at our bookcrossing get-together. I got all three books of The Farseer Trilogy, a fantasy I’ve been looking forward to reading for months, and also The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, because with such a title, how could I resist? And because I had just visited my favorite bookstore, Kinokuniya, I had with me The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker, recommended to me by Pryia, and an English translation of The Pendragon Legend by the Hungarian author Antal Szerb. That should keep me busy for a while.

Right now I’m reading the Book 1 of the trilogy and I’m already a big fan. Not only do I like the main character, Fitz, but his ability to communicate with animals makes this even more appealing. I’m glad this is a trilogy and not one of those fantasy series that are still being written. Nothing wrong with those either but I don’t like to wait.
If you know any good fantasy series, please let me know. I’d love to read more and I’m just getting started.

Posted in The Book on The Nightstand | 12 Comments