I don’t usually read celebrity autobiographies…

…but Greenlights caught my attention. And, so confirms, yet again, my belief that I don’t find the book. It finds me.

I’m really not sure why Matthew McConaughey‘s book was recommended to me on an online bookstore as I haven’t browsed any similar books. Or, why I even bothered to look at it. But, somehow I did. Somehow I was meant to. Because it is really great!

And, to be honest, until now I wasn’t one to consciously go find his movies. In general, I’m not really phased about celebrity personal lives either. But Matthew is such a cool dude in this book. He so casually and matter-of-factly tells us about his life, his experiences. Not in an I’m-so-brilliant-I’m-such-a-Hollywood-star way but rather like a down-to-earth guy just dishing out his thoughts. What I enjoyed were his green lights thrown in. This things that are positive about life. His take on things. Not preaching. Not a self-help book. But once again, just really “oh-of-course” thoughts, notes, advice (to himself) and other affirmations that make perfect sense.

I flew through this book within a few evenings. I’ve been a bad reader in the past few years as I’ve just been too tired and too busy…lame excuse I know but it is true. So, when I polish off a book this quickly it’s good. Really good.

But probably it comes down to the fact that Matthew does tell a pretty good story. He’s had some interesting experiences. There are some bits that make me rethink what is important and what not. Like the part where he went to Germany for a motorbike trip with some friends and they totally wrecked one of the bikes. How, the guy from the rental place didn’t rant and rave, losing his cool and demand immediate payment but instead, first asked if they were OK and then drove to Italy with a brand new bike so the guys could finish their journey. Would I react that way?

What has really stuck with me was his chat about “unbelievable”. We use that word way too much and totally wrong. Think of something fantastic. Anything beautiful. Or amazing. Why should we describe it as “unbelievable”? We should acknowledge it. State how spectacular or special it is rather than doubt or downplay it by saying “wow, that’s just unbelievable”. But, that’s me. And the bit that made a difference to me.

Ultimately, this is a story well told and would be so famous author or not (and I mean that as a compliment). It’s never arrogant nor preaching. Just a damn good read.

Animal Farm…thought provoking

I’d always “known” about Animal Farm by George Orwell but it is another of those books that, embarrassingly, I’ve never gotten around to read. Until now…and I should have read it a long time ago. But then, I’ve always believed that a book finds you at the right time…

…you see, I’ve been on a serious reading drought for the last, hmmm, two years…but, recently a work colleague recommended it. Said it was a nice thin book that I’d get through quickly. Hmmm, ja, maybe, we’ll see…besides, I don’t like asking people for their books…but somehow I asked after all…

Well worth it. And yes, it is a quick and easy read, but by no means to be underestimated. It is thought provoking both while you are reading and long afterwards.

The story, is about a bunch of farm animals who are convinced of a cause. Of getting rid of humans and running the farm themselves. Such they do, starting off with reasonable ideals and living well as a community. But, from the get-go, you have an inkling around the cracks that are inevitably going to appear. Of course, as the story unfolds, these cracks get bigger and bigger and by the end, the initial cause is no longer recognisable, although, you saw this coming all along. It’s all so clear. Well, obviously not to the animals. Or maybe it was?

While the allegory is on the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and the following Stalinist era, I wouldn’t restrict it to that – reading it, many other situations/events came to mind. In fact, we can simply go down to a general human nature level with this book. I’m sure you too will be able to pick out people you know. Look no further than your circle of acquaintances (possibly even friends), people you engage with at work or just the community on the whole. Interestingly, Mollie, Boxer, Clover and Benjamin immediately brought known people to mind, even Moses seemed familiar. In fact every single animal or group of animals could be associated in some way or other in the current time.

As for the helplessness or inevitability of the situation…nothing more frustrating than being the outsider who just knows where it is all heading. And the signs are so clear. I just wanted to scream at the animals…can’t you see where this is all going? But so too I guess is the real life situation…frustration at why people just can’t see what is happening. Frustration at why people don’t change things, or why they don’t change things earlier. Why they allow themselves to be brainwashed, to become indifferent, to just accept things, to accept others’ egotistical goals and power kicks. It is seemingly easier for many to remain in a comfort zone, even if it isn’t an ideal one, than to stand up for things, to question, to challenge. To simply accept someone else’s “me, me, me” approach. And so often the gripes are vocalised (amongst the discontent) but never actioned upon because status quo appears to be better than to ruffle feathers. To just continue because “it is done” or because “what difference will it make”. But, this is a touchy subject, one that I will ponder some more, take it offline.

And on a different note, ahh, the book itself…visually, striking. I had it lying on my desk at work and the cover caught the attention of quite a few people.

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) looks really good too. Just bought it and can’t wait to get stuck into it!

I’ve fallen in love…

….sigh, ah…where do I start? That, I shouldn’t have waited this long to discover my feelings? That, I’ve realised we shouldn’t judge people by their apparent looks? Or, is it sufficient to say…Mr Darcy? I suspect for most of you, that should sum it up perfectly…right?

1200px-PrideAndPrejudiceTitlePage.jpgSo, now that it is all out in the open…I can’ believe it took me so long to “read” Pride and Prejudice. That is just soooo inexcusable…isn’t it? I say “read” because it wasn’t a book but the Audiobook in the car the last two weeks. And never before have I wanted to carry on driving purely to get in a few more minutes of listening. Thank goodness I have the book at home (have had so for years and years) so sneaked (or is it snuck?) in some proper reading when I had the moment. It is one of those books that I didn’t want to end (but did, because I needed to know how it ends – even though I already kind of knew…make sense?). And, when it did end (all too soon), I wanted nothing more than to start at the beginning again.

I’ve always loved the movie (the Matthew Macfadyen one) but now, seeing how much character and story development, dialogue and other is left out, it isn’t quite the same. The book absolutely tops it by miles. Not to say I don’t like the movie anymore. But I can’t get the full story, as intended by Jane Austen, out of my mind.

And make no mistake…it isn’t only about the gentleman mentioned above. It’s about all the wonderful characters and how they make for a story that is timeless. I’m sure we all know a Miss Bingley or a Mrs Bennet whose snotty or  ignorant comments are no different now as back then.

And how wonderful to visualise the movie Mr Darcy for an entire book! Yes, yes…sorry, but I just couldn’t resist…


Fender (Book Blog Tour)


My first instinct, and I told Shanannigans of Reads & Reels as much, was “no thanks. This book isn’t for me”. Why? Well, based on the blurb (see further down), my initial judge-a-book-by-its-coverblurb was that I wasn’t reading about the loss of a child (or spouse). Ever since I have a child of my own I avoid this topics as I find it soooo heartbreaking and would hate for anything to happen to any child. Yet, for some reason, Fender kept nagging and nagging at me until I popped Shanannigans a mail again…yes, asking if it was too late to join after all. Next thing I knew, Fender by Brent Jones was in my mailbox. And you know what? I really enjoyed it.

RR Book Tours Button (2)Wasn’t at all what I had expected. Here’s what the blurb says:


How far must we travel to find our way home?

Nothing could have prepared Brennan Glover for the car crash that claimed the lives of his wife and six-year-old daughter. Stricken with grief, the only things that get him through each day are breaking his sobriety and clinging to Fender—the family dog and the sole survivor of the crash.

Desperate to distance Brennan from tragedy, his two closest friends take him on the cross-country road trip they had always talked about. But what begins as an effort to mend his broken heart ends up unraveling a secret that changes everything he thought he knew about his family. Can a journey of six thousand miles lead Brennan to acceptance and new beginnings?

From finding the good in an often cruel world to learning to say goodbye to those we love most, this sophomore release from author Brent Jones is sure to leave readers longing for home, wherever that may be.

Fender Cover

What I got was:

A book that most definitely didn’t pull me down in terms of the loss of family. Yes, it was tragic (and definitely not a pleasant thing) but the approach was more about finding one’s feet and the will to move on. That life happens for a reason and that there are certain things that are out of our control (be it the good or the bad). And, that people and animals cross our paths when they are meant to. That friends, human and animal, are so important.

I’ve had a bit of a reading drought recently (just because I’ve had lots on my mind) but for the first time in ages I managed to get through a book without forcing myself to read it. Fender was that book. Granted, a few places I did get a bit of a repetitive feel, but that’s not something that overshadows the story. The author kept me on my toes in that I had no idea as to how this one would end. Spoiler alert: I was expecting the main character to meet someone new…but if that would have happened, it just wouldn’t have worked. Would have been pic

So, a really enjoyable book that wasn’t heavy yet didn’t undermine the theme at hand. Thanks Reads & Reels for sending this one my way. After my initial “no thanks” I’m glad I read it.

Here’s an excerpt for you:

Brennan sat on the living room floor staring at his polished shoes, his back pressed against the leather sofa, a bottle of Jim Beam in his left hand, a lit cigarette in his right. Traces of afternoon sun peeked through lush drapes, adding a hint of color to an otherwise dark and empty room. He tilted the bottle back and flicked ash in an empty drinking glass between his legs, trickles of silver smoke rising up past his face. He was too stricken with grief to hear the front door open.

“You here, Bee?” Rocco entered with Franky in tow. He lowered his head, taking in the scene before him. “We’re so sorry.” He offered Brennan a sympathetic frown, his forehead wrinkled with worry. “How’re you holding up?”

Brennan flicked more ash in the drinking glass without responding.

Rocco let out a deep breath, added, “It was a beautiful service.”

Brennan kept his head down, making no effort to suggest he had heard Rocco.

“Should we come back later?”

“It’s all right if you wanna be alone,” said Franky.

Brennan raised his eyes with pronounced difficulty. He was immediately turned off by their concern, which looked a lot to him like judgment and shame. Rocco, evidently concerned about his drinking, and Franky, concerned because Rocco was concerned. “Go ahead,” said Brennan. “Say it.”

“Say what?” asked Rocco, exchanging a glance with Franky.

Brennan dropped his cigarette in the glass, raised the Jim Beam to his lips. “Say I shouldn’t be drinking again.”

“What you’re going through right now, Bee, I understand—”

“Oh, you always understand, Rocco. Don’t you? Not thisss one, though. You fucking can’t. You didn’t loosh yer family.” Brennan could hear himself slurring.

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“He’s saying he’d be fucked up, too,” Franky chimed in. “That’s all.”

Brennan hadn’t taken a drink since the day his daughter was born—hadn’t smoked a cigarette since that day, either—and he knew drinking himself senseless was no way to honor her memory. Just this one time, he had told himself. I need this today. But so far, it had brought him no peace. It only heightened his sense of hopelessness.

A faint jingle echoed down the hallway, getting closer, a senior beagle with a limp and fresh stitches emerging at last. Franky knelt down, extended his hands. “Fender,” he said in a singsong voice, scratching behind the dog’s ears. “Who’s a good boy, Fender? Who’s a good boy?”

Fender parked himself at Franky’s feet—not out of obedience or affection, but sheer exhaustion. He was normally playful and energetic—even at twelve years old—and never allowed anyone to enter the house without barking to alert his humans. But at that moment he whimpered, sullen and subdued, rubbing his snout against Franky’s leg.

“When’s the last time he ate?” Rocco asked.

Brennan shook his head.

Rocco motioned to Franky. “Why don’t you take Fender out for a bathroom break? Maybe fill up his food and water bowls, too.”

Franky nodded and Fender followed him out of the room.

Rocco sat on the floor next to Brennan. “Listen, Bee, I get that this is tough.”

Brennan rubbed his temples and said nothing. He was a sensitive man, emotional, fragile at times, and now near speechless. He could almost feel himself shutting down, giving in to the pain, letting go of the world. It felt like he was drowning in a sea of sorrow, violent waves of grief washing over him, and he was losing the will to keep his head above water.

Rocco touched Brennan’s shoulder. “Me and Franky want to take you away for a little bit. It’d do you good.”


“Yeah.” Rocco motioned to the Jim Beam. “I think now’s good. You’ve been outta work for a couple months. I’ve got vacation time saved up at the office, and Franky can walk away from roofing anytime. We were thinking of taking that trip to California we’d always talked about.”

“We talked ’bout ’at shit when wurrr kidsss.”

“Yeah, I get that, but we could still do it. We’d make a road trip out of it, just like you, me, Franky, and Colin—” Rocco winced, having unintentionally drudged up the past.

“My family was just kilt in a car crasssh,” said Brennan. “And you think the best place furr me ish out on the open road?”

Rocco nodded. “I do, Bee. You need to get away and clear your head.”

Brennan listened without speaking, his line of sight again lowered toward his shoes. Tears spilled down his cheeks.

“You can’t stay here by yourself. It’s—it’s too much. It’s too much for anyone to have to handle.” Rocco glanced at Brennan through narrowed and swollen eyes. “Our hearts are heavy, too, and we all need to grieve. But nothing good can come of you sitting here alone and drinking. You need something to take your mind off it.”

Franky returned a minute later. Fender hobbled behind him, his movements labored and graceless, his eyes wet and dark. He positioned himself near Brennan in slow motion. Fender was the last member of the Glover household to see Rosie and Abby alive, and the only survivor of the crash that killed them both.

“Did he eat?” asked Rocco, gesturing toward Fender.

“Not much.” Franky changed gears without blinking. “What’d he say?” He asked the question as if he and Rocco were alone in the room.

“Bee says he’s gonna think on it,” Rocco said, standing. He looked down at Brennan before walking out. “You will give it some thought, right? That’s all I’m asking.”

The house was quiet again, but Brennan was certain nothing could silence the storm in his heart. He ran his finger over the tattoo on his left shoulder through his shirt, as he often did during difficult times. He knew its intricacies by heart—the anniversary of Colin’s death inked in a simple script. He once thought losing his best friend had prepared him for anything life might throw his way, but now he knew better.


Book Tour: The Last Dragon Rider


I’m venturing into the unknown in more than one aspect. Firstly, I’ve never taken part in a Blog Tour before. And secondly, this type of book (genre-wise, or rather sub-genre-wise) is totally new to me.

ButtonHosted by Shanannigans of Reads & Reels under her R&R Book Tours, I thought I’d sign up for something a little different. So, here goes…

My two cents’ worth: As I said, I’ve never read a book where the characters are elves and dragon riders. In fact, other than The Hobbit, I’ve never read a dragon book before. So, to be very honest, I needed to “get into” this new world that has been crafted. Had to really focus on the descriptions in order to visualize the characters. But, I enjoyed that. Something new. Once I’d managed to sort out who was who and form the elven world in my mind, I quite enjoyed this novella. A quick read perfect for me with limited time on my hands at the moment.

The numbers: I’d give this a rating of 3 out of 5 points (or 6 out of 10 😉 ) but that’s probably purely because this world that has been created is totally new to me.

The Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure/ Romance

Novella Release Date: August 9, 2017

TheLastDragonRider CoverThe bit on the back of the book: Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?


Author PicThe lady behind it: Errin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

St. Patrick’s Day Book Tag

I happened to come across this from Reads & Reels who’s tagged anyone who feels like doing it. I’m likewise not tagging anyone – so, feel free to tag yourselves 🙂 I hope they’re not meant to be Irish authors or books. Oh well…here goes.

St. Patrick’s Day- Your Favourite Green Book

The only green book I have is The Lord of the Rings. Not my favourite book (sorry…no offense) but it will have to do. I’m not saying I didn’t like it though. I was doing lots of travelling at the time so never got around to fully appreciate this book as it pretty much became an airport and airplane book  – doesn’t work for me.

Corned Beef & Cabbage- A Book That Made You Hungry

So…hope it classifies as a book but Asterix in Switzerland really made me crave a Cheese Fondue. In fact, right now, that sounds pretty good too. Hmmmmm…..

Four Leaf Clover- A Book or Item that was a Rare, Good Luck Find

Jasmine Nights by S.P. Somtow. I came across this book while in Thailand and didn’t think to buy it there. Back home, I looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find it. Until, I happened to walk into a random second-hand bookshop and there it was…calling me. Never seen another copy but I have mine. Wonderful, unique story.

Irish Whiskey- A Book So Bad, You Need a Drink to Get Over It

Only one drink???  A Girl Walks into a Bar by Helena S. Paige. Well….I shouldn’t even admit to reading this one. I think the reason I bought it was because it was meant to be an “adults” version of those books we had as kids where you made a decision at the end of a chapter and based on that decision, went to one of two other chapters creating your own chain of events. So please, pretty please, don’t judge me for my awful book selection here.

Irish Dancing- A book So Good, it Made You Want to Dance in Excitement

Oooh, easy peasy. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. The readers out there with whom I’ve exchanged book comments probably would have expected this one. It is absolutely amazing and wonderful and superb and lovely and fantastic….oooh, did I say amazing? Need I go on? Oh, I could dance 😉

Ireland- A Book that Made You Want to Travel to Another Country

Namma: A Tibetan Love Story by Kate Karko. Beautiful and interesting story of Kate, an English woman who met Tibetan Tsedup. It is an interesting account of her life as his wife, living in Tibet with his family. Having read this book, I was amazed by the way of life and culture of these nomadic people. Would love to see their world.

The Pub- A Meeting Place in a Book You Would Love to Go to

This is difficult. Hmmmm…does the dragon ship of Jarl Sigurd and his band of  Norsemen count? It seems the ship is where all the camaraderie happens, problems are discussed and adventures started. This from the Raven series by Giles Kristian.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!




Der Tastenficker…what a great read

Before we go on: Don’t be put off by the title…

I don’t normally care for books by or about celebrities but Der Tastenficker* is an exception. Probably because it doesn’t feel like an “autobiography” as such. It is quite refreshing hearing about life and experiences in the former DDR yet not going on and on about the negatives and politics. And for a change, not about a terrible childhood and how hard and depressing life was – that’s what most biographies and autobiographies seem to be about. I enjoyed that fact that minimal names were mentioned and that it wasn’t about the famous band he is in. In fact, I never felt like I was reading about Flake of Rammstein but about Flake (real name Christian Lorenz), a normal everyday person and his experiences. Overall, interesting and light to read. And lots of fun (pianos aren’t practical to take to and from rehearsal and camping trips can become quite a challenge). The “random” photos add something different. I devoured this book in a matter of days. And felt so positive when I’d finished. (I also had a totally different view of this man who always comes across as the underdog when on stage)

*I’d only noticed after I’d received this book that it is actually a numbered, autographed first edition. Not that it is important but, I guess subconsciously, it added a little special touch.











Something different: The Whip

The Whip by Karen Kondazian has patiently been waiting its turn on my bookshelf for ages now (yes, a paper book…I’m old-fashioned that way).

It tells the story of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst (b. 1812, d. 1879) who grew up in an orphanage where circumstances gave her the opportunity to learn about horses until she was old enough to leave. Falling in love with a former slave and having a baby together, she vows revenge when they are brutally taken from her. However, she realises that only as a man will she have the means and freedom to accomplish this. So she becomes Charley and ultimately one of the best Wells Fargo stagecoach drivers (whip).

While it is classified as fiction, there really was a Charley/Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst aka One Eyed Charley (towards the end of her life). Only on her death was it discovered that “he” was really a woman. It was thought that she may have been the first woman to vote in the United States, although, as a man (there are some arguments against this as I believe some States allowed women the vote already).

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and polished it off in a matter of days. It has been criticised as being poorly written but I found myself so caught up in the story that I didn’t really notice. Yes, it may be very easy to read and have short chapters (between about 2 to 6 pages max) but that worked for me. I’ve had a lot on the go lately so was actually grateful for a book like this. One where I didn’t have to concentrate too hard yet still holding my attention.

An easy but interesting read that had me cringing while she was in the orphanage, almost in tears when her family was murdered and plain fascinated by her life.










Schwingfest – Verliebt in einen Bauern

 “Schweizer Bestseller” (Swiss Bestseller) is stuck on ever cover of Schwingfest and gazed lovingly at me from every book shop! I just couldn’t get away from it. So, with my belief that a book finds me (and not the other way round), I decided to give it a go. I needed a holiday read after all. Besides, I just couldn’t resist that cute cover.

The story is about Bea, a freelance journalist and freelance-whatever-comes-her-way, who meets Sämi, a farmer, while writing an article to accompany his photo in a calendar. They have totally different lifestyles…naturally, otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. Attracted to Sämi, Bea takes an interest in Schwingen and farming and thus it all unfolds. Some developments I didn’t see coming which is what made me enjoy this book. Initially I thought it would be just another routine light romance.

I must admit, that I get very nervous of the newer German and Swiss books. I find they bring in too much English and tend to use expressions in the wrong context. Anyway, that’s the way languages evolve I guess. This one wasn’t too bad, although kept going on about “that’s what friends are for” and such. It didn’t really fit in.

That aside, once I’d gotten used to the “clipped” writing style and come to terms with the fact that this was a very, veeery, light read, I quite enjoyed it. Reading so many books, many with similar settings, it was really refreshing to be transported to the Central Swiss region with which I’m familiar. I thoroughly enjoyed the use of Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) as a central theme. It made for something a bit different.

At the end of it all, it is still a girl-meets-boy story but very sweet and a fun quick read. Perfect for the holidays and as a bridging book between ‘heavier’ books.







My two whispers’ worth…

The Horse Whisperer. A book that wasn’t on my “Want to Read” list. And, for those books on my list I generally start reading them in my own time…that being, when the book calls to me, appeals to me, tells me it is the right time. Little children who give their mothers books for Christmas don’t really understand this so I was asked and asked and asked when will I start “Horse Whisperers”. I managed to explain that I needed to finish the book I was busy with first but I just couldn’t (and didn’t want to) explain about having to be “in the mood” for a book so The Horse Whisperer it was next.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but as it is with this thing of expectations, I wasn’t expecting what the book actually was. Something very beautiful. Something heartfelt.

Being a parent, the tragic opening was hard and emotional to read. And it was the first indication that I had totally misjudged the book. Not sure if the beginning was actually slow, or, if it was the lack of time on my behalf, but it took me a while to get through those first few chapters. Then, all of a sudden, I was hooked. Despite a fast-paced reading, reading, reading to see what was going to happen, I savoured every single page. Apologies if I’m cliché here but it is such a beautiful story of family, friendship and forgiveness…oh, and love. Love in all its different forms. Love with all its workings from platonic to mother-daughter to new-found lovers. I thoroughly enjoyed the subtle nuances as friendships developed and characters were healed. Nicholas Evans evokes such vivid images of the landscape, the ranch and the story in general. What a beautiful read that I will definitely revisit, probably slower this time (knowing the end), taking it all in without the self-imposed pressure of needing to know what happens.

Beyond the Cover of Jane Eyre

Having just completed a short bit on The Crow for this same Blogathon, I’m quite happy I signed up for two book/movie combos as I need something a little lighter to push out the dark, dreary disposition I’m finding myself in. Here goes:

Jane Eyre converted me. The movie, that is. Sorry to all the purists out there but that’s the truth. I read lots, I mean really lots but had never ventured into the world of the Brontës, Austen and such. In my mind I judged (cringe). I judged that they were extremely difficult reading and for some bizarre reason, that they were this heavy, old English. Oh my! Shake me hard! And again for being such an absolute moron.

The 2011 movie was released with Michael Fassbender in it (oh, and Judy Dench but sorry to say, she’s not really what drew me despite being wonderful) so, becoming totally shallow (I mean, who at my age watches movies because of the actors???) off I went to watch it. I’m not usually like this but my excuse, which I’ll stick to, is that it was meant to be. Whatever. Well…what can I say? That I thoroughly enjoyed it? Not for Michael Fassbender at all, but for the story. In fact, I’m not quite sure he was Rochester for me. Actually, having read the book, the movie’s actors don’t reflect how I saw them while reading but they seem to work in the movie. That aside, the critical thing here is that it got me straight online to order a real, paper copy of the book. The moment it was delivered I devoured it. Ah, what a great read. No, more than great. Fantastic. Brilliant. You get my drift. That’s the beauty of books – when they’re good, there is so much more material to savour and enjoy word for word as slow or fast as you want, to “see” in your mind as your own personal movie. Often I struggle with books once I’ve seen the movie in that the actor/s sneak their way into my mind while I’m reading. This wasn’t the case here and I easily had my own characters visualised.

My verdict? The film is great. I honestly enjoyed it as its own medium as books made to movies, in my opinion, can’t be compared. But that book….oh, don’t get me started. It shares privileged status, together with Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry), as my favourite book(s?) of all time. And nothing so far has managed to get even within the vicinity of these two books. I doubt anything ever will.


Beyond the Cover of The Crow

The Crow. Tragic. Heavy. Dark. Both the graphic novel and film.

Having signed up for this Blogathon, I’m in a re-watch and re-read position. And I’m just a little scared. A little nervous. Not sure what to expect. I’ve just pulled out my prized copy of the graphic novel and already the first few pages are pulling me down into a gritty world where I’m not sure I want to go right now. But…I’ll get back to you…

…so, book read, movie watched…I’m back.

220px-Crow_ver2I first saw the movie on the big screen all those years ago. I vaguely remember the story and that I couldn’t stop raving about it. It must have been great at the time (with all my teenage angst) because I rushed out to by the graphic novel (well, rushing turned out to be a long process as it wasn’t easily available and involved lots of driving around (I’m talking about pre-online shopping days) and handing over a large portion of my precious student savings). Somehow, it must have made an impression that a few years ago I saw the DVD and just had to have it (but it hasn’t been opened until today).

Now, 22 years later…I’m not sure where I stand. I’m naturally that much older and therefore in a different place emotionally, physically, career-wise etc. And this time round I found both book and film good but not something to “enjoy” as such. Know what I mean? For me, there are certain books and films that are really great, if not excellent, but that aren’t “enjoyable”. Not sure that makes any sense.

The graphic novel, by J.O’Barr, is stunning from an art perspective but you need to be in the right frame of mind for the story. I found it really, really dark (duh…naturally). The introduction by John Bergin states “In a Lonely Place” followed by “One day you are going to lose everything you have” and continues around this theme. This time round I actually registered that it was written because J.O’Barr had someone close to him lost, clearly in a sudden, probably brutal, way. The graphic novel portrays this. Very clearly. Very vividly. You should check it out- wow, the illustrations are so detailed and the style brings across such a realistic mood and atmosphere.250px-The_Crow1_Cover Oh boy! What an artist J.O’Barr is – using no colour at all (except on the cover and some pictures after the END), he is successfully able to portray light and dark times in the characters’ lives, more so than if he had actually used any colour. The “chopping and changing” between characters, scenes and style also adds to the doomed and violent feeling. Rounding off the experience is additional material such as the “history” of the Crow and additional illustrations.

Now the movie. It is also dark and in its own way is well done. For me it lacks that “something” and while it tends to stay true to the book, the fateful incident is different (I’m leaning toward the written version). It took a while to get into but then I started appreciating it especially that most of the scenes are cleverly set up to come across as black and white. The flashbacks weren’t as “light” as in the book and would have given a bit of relief from the relentless dark. Brandon Lee was perfectly cast, giving me a very similar Eric Draven as in the book. I just loved his smooth acrobatic movements, most of all his ‘crossed leg jump’ onto Top Dollar‘s boardroom table. In fact all the actors and their respective characters are spot on and I especially like Michael Wincott who is the perfect villain in every role he tackles (sorry Mr Wincott, I’ve only seen you in these roles). There is much less interaction with the actual crow and some of the wonderful nuances of their relationship existing in the novel are lost. But it is, after all, a totally different form of art.

Both forms come with a deep loss. And by this I don’t mean only the loss of Eric’s fiancée which drives the story. I mean the real thing. The heart wrenching loss of his girlfriend that became the story given to us by J.O’Barr as a means to deal with the situation (you can feel the pain page for page). And, an almost parallel loss when Brandon Lee was tragically killed on set, leaving behind a fiancée. Personal loss created a story which in return created personal loss.

So, having written down my thoughts, I realise this: I actually do still think the graphic novel is pretty darn amazing, however, is by no means the same read I experienced as a teenager. It probably hits home a bit more these days. Of the movie, however, I’m in two minds. Most likely because it too hits home a bit more.

Quotes taken from “The Crow”, J.O’Barr, Kitchen Sink Press Inc, 1994

(I’ve written a second bit for this Blogathon – Beyond the Cover of Jane Eyre)


Raven: Blood Eye – Bloody brilliant

“Wow…what a book!” is an exclamation that I don’t make very often. And when I do utter these words it means the book in question has completely immersed me in its own world that I have failed to notice my own. It means I have visualised the setting so clearly that it feels as if I am actually there. Furthermore, this world that I have been living through stays alive beyond the last page and a piece of it never really leaves me.

Raven had me hanging onto his every action and word from page one right to the end and then some. Yet I still managed to breathe…just. I’m not always the greatest fan of 1st person narrative, however here it is used so well to keep me in suspense and feel Raven’s perspective in not knowing enemy whereabouts and their plans. Perfect for keeping me on the edge.

Usually, it takes me time to start feeling sympathetic towards characters and in a way, for them to prove themselves to me. To show me why I should or shouldn’t like them. Not this time. As I got more and more engrossed in the story, I felt more and more for the wonderful cast including the Wolves. Well, most of them – but then finding myself hating the bad ones is goal achieved I guess. I was a little sad whenever one of the Norsemen was sent off to Valhöll possibly with the exception of those who may have deserved that fate. I found myself holding my breath until I knew Sigurd and his men were alive. For Black Floki and Penda I had fingers and toes crossed. Unfortunately, I never really found myself hoping too much for Raven because I knew he had to survive in order for there to be a Trilogy. But I’m ok with this because the story made up for it and there were still some touch-and-go moments.

Giles Kristian has this subtle but effective way of juxtaposing nature’s beauty with man’s violence. I can’t remember exactly where (so engrossed was I) but somewhere along the journey I remember birds singing in the forest – that really stood out for me. At the end, he brings such a stunning description of the waves to life. In contrast, he had me looking through the carnage desperately picking out survivors and wanting to wash the blood, guts and dirt off Raven, Weohstan and Cynethryth. Wonderful writing throughout!

The thing with these amazing stories is that you want to finish the last page yet don’t want to. I’m sure you understand what I mean – that feeling of needing to know what happens yet desperately not wanting the story to end. At least I have two more in the Raven Trilogy waiting for me so I can prolong the story a bit more (hope that they meet the bar set by Raven: Blood Eye). And call me old-fashioned but these stories just need to come in the shape of a physical book. There’s something special about living an alternate world through actual paper pages that just isn’t there electronically.

Lonesome Dove, a masterpiece

I believe books find me and not the other way round. And, they find me only then when the timing is right. And Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry) was around at exactly the right time. Truth be told, I had pretty much abandoned this book around page 62 or so. It was in the pile of books awaiting a prison sentence in my storage unit (Aaaaarrrrghhh how could I????). Somehow I kept seeing such rave reviews and I just didn’t understand. And then – fate intervened with one review amongst hundreds saying that one had to get past page 100. What was it that had pulled me to this particular one? The book doing its magic? Must have been because, true as Bob, once I got past that mystical page number I was totally hooked. I couldn’t put it down – not to eat, to sleep or any other reason. I devoured the remaining 845 or so pages in a matter of days.

You can almost feel the grit, grime and dust kicked up by the cattle and horses, smell the rain and clearly “see” absolutely everything described. Like I was magically drawn right into the centre of the story, physically! At times, I could even taste the dust. The characters were so clear in my mind that I felt I knew them as if they were with me in flesh and blood. They held such a special place in my heart that I sometimes just wanted to change things for the “better”, or rather to make things selfishly happier for them but obviously their flaws and experiences are exactly what makes the book what it is and changing anything would have been plain wrong.

How often do you come across a book so of so many pages yet never feeling it is getting a bit drawn out or time to wind up? Never the case here. I’m always in the middle of a book, yet for the first time in my life, I needed about two weeks on completing to mull it over, to savour the after-effect, to re-live in my mind the amazing experience I’d just had. It’s almost like no book would ever live up to this one and that reading anything else would make me a traitor.

I’ve purchased the other books (Streets of Laredo, Dead Man’s Walk and Comanche Moon) in the hope that they’ll be as good but I just can’t get myself to start them because I’m a bit scared of being let down. I tell myself that I shouldn’t be greedy and rather just stay in love with one special thing thus saving the heartache of disappointment and thereby losing some of the magic that Lonesome Dove holds.