Thursday, April 25, 2013

Feature and Follow is an awesome meme hosted by ParaJunkee and Alison Can Read. You should check them out because they are fantabulous.

We're given a question, and we get to answer it and then go along our merry way stalking following and finding new awesome blogs!
It's all quite exciting!

So, this week's question is:

Q:  Is there a song that reminds you of a book? Or vice versa? What is the song & the book?

Florence + The Machine's Seven Devils for the book The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's just the lyrics, the tempo, the absolute focus of the song that reminds me of Katniss and her mission. She's got to keep herself and Peeta alive at all costs.

What about you, what songs remind you of books?

Monday, April 22, 2013

"As I pulled through the busy streets of Belfast in a taxi, I heard her voice. I love you, Mummy. I love you. And then I saw her, clear in my mind. Her chocolate-brown eyes curved with laughter, her thick black hair swept across one shoulder. She was turning to me, the white sheen of a curtain brushing against her face. The hole is gone, she said smiling.
She was only twelve years old." Carolyn Jess-Cooke, The Boy Who Could See Demons: A Novel

I could not put this down. 
I had been reading The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and I just couldn't finish it, and on the day I decided to call it quits approval came through on Netgalley for this little book. 

It is a novel told from two view points. We have diary extracts from the fantastic Alex, a young boy claiming to see a 9000 year-old Demon called Ruen (and his pals), and the thoughts and opinions of his child-psychiatrist Anya. 

Alex is a bodacious and charming child. He lives with his clinically-depressed mother (Cindy) who self-harms and regularly attempts suicide. Because of his experiences he is alienated by his peers, and has no friends of his own age. His only friend is a 9000 year old demon who comes in four different shapes. An old man, a child, horn face and a monster. Ruen has told Alex that the demons that lurk in his house are there studying him, because Alex is not affected by them like other humans. Alex and Cindy live in a run-down house, and Alex wears the clothes of an old man who lived in the house previously - things like old too-big suit jackets and bow-ties. 

Anya, the psychiatrist is an assertive and successful doctor. She is serious about her work and his highly professional. Anya though is still mourning over the loss of her daughter who commit suicide at the age of twelve, four years before. A social worker invites Anya in to Alex and Cindy's case, and Anya finds it hard not to take the case to heart... especially as she suspects that her own daughter and Alex are suffering from the same medical condition. 

I'll be honest... I judged this
book by its cover
The story is fast paced, addictive and will completely sweep you away. Some pieces of prose are just so beautifully executed that they can catch you breath. Carolyn Jess-Cooke sets this story with a backdrop of Belfast. The Troubles is a recurring theme throughout the novel, and it is sensitively explored. I believe I could not give Cooke enough credit for how she explored The Troubles within this novel. Y'see there was nothing judgemental about it, not even a political stand-point. Instead we see The Troubles both through Alex's eyes and Anya's. At the same time it is not the main theme. It is not bigger than the story. It is in the background and I imagine it would have felt that way living in Ireland at the time. That something wasn't quite right under the surface though everything seemed to be going on as normal on the surface. It also explores the idea that even when The Troubles were over, children were still traumatised by it because their parents not only lived through it but were also changed by it.

Ruen plays a very uncomfortable part in the novel. He is Alex's only friend but he is also eerie and Alex is both afraid of him and in need of him. Ruen promises Alex things constantly and takes credit for good things that happen to Alex. This leads to Alex slowly becoming tempted in to things by Ruen but it is a slow decline, and his giving-in to the demon's suggestions are always done out of self-sacrifice and love for others.

The story, as a journey is a magnificent one. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Unfortunately the ending was just absurd. Whilst I was sure I would five-star this book, unfortunately the ending flopped and made me a little frustrated. 


I couldn't give it five out of five I'm afraid, though the journey itself was worth it, the end was such a let-down that it ended up knocking the rating.

Anywho, let me know what you thought! Am I being melodramatic? Were you disappointed too? You can comment below or message me on Twitter @OrisiB

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I am thrilled to announce a visit from the fantastic Ali from Ginger-Read Reviews
We've paired up to bring you a bookish list that is slightly out of the norm. We're not casting characters for wannabe relationships, or our book crushes... no, we're a little more HARDCORE than that. We've cast ten characters from books we've read that'd help us rob a bank. Yes. A good-old fashioned bank heist.

So I'd like to introduce the fantastic Ali. She's awesome, witty, brilliant, a wide reader, and overall fabulous female! You've gotta check out her blog if you've not yet. You won't be disappointed. 
I admit it. I'm her fan girl.

You can find my choice of ten bookish bank robbers over on Ali's blog!


We have all seen many bookish top ten lists everything from; your favorite book boyfriends to your favorite book villains.  But, what if you could cast book characters into your real life.  Maybe you need a superstar team to accomplish a big project at work or perhaps you are getting married soon and want the very best people for your bridesmaids and groomsmen.  Hmm, maybe that should be a future post. Or, maybe you need to pull off the a huge bank heist. That is the crew we are casting today and I went with a little Set It Off meets Ocean's Eleven feel.  Here is who I cam up with, be sure to check my blog for who Orisi came up with and let us know in the comments who you think would want by your side during a big safe cracking.

The Mastermind ~ Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson; Evil (okay, not really) genius and ruthless when it's needed.  With all her research skills I'm sure she'd come up with the perfect plan.

The Security ~ Rudy from Taking on The Dead by Annie Walls; He uses a bow more often than guns but still a super sharp shooter, usually only target the walking dead but maybe we could get him on our side. Oh, and sexy and who doesn't want a crew of hotties, right?

The Driver ~ Edward from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer; The getaway driver needs to drive well (obviously) and good old Eddie was the first to pop in my mind.  At least he's good for something.

The Safe Cracker ~ Ellie Watts from Sins & Needles by Karina Halle; Not only does she have extensive experience at breaking into safes (not that it always works out to her benefit) but she also knows how to 'clean' money. So, she's doubly needed.

The Distraction ~ Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice; Face it, most bank employees are women and the fairer sex can be easily distracted by a charming man. Especially bored women at a boring job. Sorry to all you bank employees out there but counting money is really BORING! 
The Comic Relief ~ Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke & Bones by Laini Taylor; When you get a group of ten strong personalities together you need a someone to give off some good snarky whit. Zuzana fits the bill perfectly with her petite form but large personality and could also serve as a distraction for any male bank employees as she just demands attention.

The Crew: These are the people with exceptional talents to get in and get out. With butt loads of cash.

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling; Smart, magically talented, quick on her feet and has experience breaking into (and out of...on dragons -awesome!) the most secure of banks.

Graylee Perez from the Spellbound Series by Nikki Jefford;  Another magically talented creature but with a special talent.  Gray can make herself invisible.  Uh, no-brainer.

Vin & Kelsior from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson; Again, magically talented in a unique way. They are what we call Allomancers and can do miraculous things with just a little bit of metal. Breaking into a bank would be as easy as pie...whatever the hell that means.

And there ya have it. 

Which ten characters would you choose if you were to plan a bank heist? You can comment below, tweet Ali's face @MissAliGirl or even mine @OrisiB .

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Good morning everyone!

So I've decided to do the fantastic Feature and Follow Friday this week! ParaJunkee and Alison Can Read are the hosts. 

So the question this week is a doozy. I've never really thought about it to be honest (which sounds crazy) but there it is... in red below!

Q: If you could hang out with any author (living) who would it be and what would you want to do?

It is going to have to be Stephen Fry. He's just awesome. He's knowledgeable. Hilarious. Poetic. Deep. Has history of mental health problems. Loves both facts and fiction. Is a history buff. One of Britain's most beloved comedians. TV Show host. Audiobook Narrator. Writer. Reviewer. Rugby Fan. Art Lover. Eccentric. Author. Charming. Humble and awesome. 

I'm a fan girl. Can you tell? Without a shadow of a doubt he is the author I would want to chillax with. We would go to a cafe, drink tea, and discuss books and the general state of the world.

Which living author would you want to hang out with?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

We have a book crisis here.

It is a pretty absorbing issue for book-worms and can be quite frustrating. Let me explain why.

Y'see, here in the UAE we have Borders, we have WH Smith, we have smaller book franchises and we also have the mega-book shop in Dubai Mall called Kinokuniyah also known as Book World which is just... amazing! We have one second hand book store in Abu Dhabi, and that's pretty much it. Pretty much all the book shops I've been to around here have always been small (except from Kinokuniyah), having just a small selection of current best-sellers, and a ridiculous over-abundance of YA books (sorry YA fans!). 

Every book-worm, I hope, is going to say 'well, what about libraries?' and y'see that is the shocker. There are no real libraries here. Sure they have libraries, but you're not allowed to borrow the books; in effect, you gotta bookmark the novel you're reading and return to it every day for an hour or two to get your fix.

Books here are EXPENSIVE (mostly because they're imported). There's no Amazon here (well, you can have books delivered here but they're a pretty-penny) though I do believe a recent online company is trying to follow from Amazon's success and make it big in this region; but even still, they won't be as cheap as Amazon or others.

The thrift store (second-hand book shop) I recently visited was impressive. It had a great range and is in down town Abu Dhabi, the only problem I had with it is that it just wasn't organised as well as it could be - but I'm hoping they will sort it soon. [By the way, that book shop is a Thomas Harris wonderland. They have all his books three times over at least.] The way they get their books is through donation. Expats returning to their country of origin, or moving on, need somewhere to dump their books, so they say goodbye to their beauties and leave them with the shop. The books there are cheap, I'll give them that, BUT they're also old books, you're not gonna get new ones.

There has been a recent initiative by two Emirati girls called The Book Shelter. They quite literally saw how desperate the book reading community feels here, and so they did something about it. An interview with them will be coming up soon!

Some Cafe's are also jumping aboard the bookish rebellion by stocking shelves in their establishments with books that not only can be read at your table but taken away with you... free of charge and you choose if you want to return it. I visited Circle Cafe in Abu Dhabi and interviewed the manager there, that will also be coming up soon, and he showed himself to be a very enthusiastic promoter of this bookish movement.

It's interesting to note that certain photographs in magazines are censored here in the UAE, books are not explicitly (I'm not sure if books criticising the country/government, religion etc would be sold openly here though). WH Smith was advertising the 50 Shades books without any censorship at all; they had the books on their front tables at the front doors! In fact a colleague walked in to work with it tucked under her arm the other day - no questions asked!

The majority of the country are expats from around the world (around 80%) and so the Kindle and the Nook has proved to be blessings for the bookishly challenged. Kindle is sold in many shops around here and it has opened up a new world for us impoverished readers! Unfortunately we have to try to beat the system and put in British or American addresses to ensure that we have the best and widest possible array of books. It's sneaky, but true; otherwise we get stuck with a smaller selection, pining away until rights and what not allow the book to be sold in the Middle East.

Things aren't all that bad. I love that book stores flourish here and that young people (and old people) are able to access books, I just wish they were more affordable and that a wider array was available. I can't complain too much though because the UAE is realising that those of us who read are starving for more. You never know, this bookish-revolution may just lead to lending libraries...


Sunday, April 7, 2013

I love listing things... and I love reading lists; I'm sure that has become pretty obvious. So here are the top ten movies that have reduced me to tears... and so I am going on the crude assumption that they will emotionally wreck you too.

They are rated by how many buckets I needed to collect the water from my face.

10) Million Dollar Baby (2004)
I'm such a baby. I have always had a soft spot for these types of movies (inspirational sporting movies). Its the stupid build-up, the way the film makers and of course Eastwood and Swank make us think - wow, everything is gonna be alright and then no. No it's not alright. Not even close.

09) Dead Poets Society (1989)
Oh dear... I know. This is truly the type of movies that destroy me. I'm a sucker, and by sucker I do mean UBER-SUCKER for inspirational teacher movies. They're number one on my sucker list, and of course number two is the inspiration sporting movies. (Dead Poets Review here)

08) Les Miserables (2012)
I started crying about... I'd say forty minutes in; I then couldn't stop... not till the end. There were men and women crying in the theatre with me, not to mention some friends beside me. I cried so much that all clothing within ten centimetres of my face were wet.

07) Stepmom (1998)
This film can make me cry... every time. It's the combination isn't it? Mother. Children. Cancer. It's enough to ruin me; and it does every time.

06) My Girl (1991)
Do you know that I spent a small chunk of my childhood having to watch this because there was nothing else on the telly? Do you know that the vast majority of those viewings resulted in sobs of hopelessness from little old me. No? Well now you do. It's all compounded by  Vader's inability to mourn properly at first... and then the whole funeral scene... oh my! No. I can't think about it now!

05) Toy Story 3 (2010)
Nobody warned me! Not a single person. A couple of people said in passing 'yeah, it's kinda sad' so I went to go watch it in the cinema and a part of me died that night. It was doing all fine until - wham - my heart was crushed all out of the blue and stuff. How dare Andy become mature and stuff.

04) The Green Mile (1999)
If this film doesn't make you cry, you have no soul. You know it's a recipe for tearfulness after the first half an hour, and then it just gets worse, and worse and sadder and sadder. The first time I watched it I was clueless. I thought it was just a straight up 'death row' type of movie. No, it's not. And there's magic which makes it worse.

03) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
It's that part when Pippin in singing and Faramir is trying to be the son his father wants. Oh dear. I know, it is a testament of my ultra-geekiness but I'm proud, and that scene makes me cry every time. Oh, and when he tries to burn Faramir too.

02) Life is Beautiful (1997)
I distinctly remember this film destroying me. I watched it as a teen and have not been able to revisit it because it was just so traumatic. I recommend it, I think it should be required watching for future generations. This film has subtitles.

01) Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
I watched this a few weeks ago and wow, I just could barely keep myself together. I was absolutely exhausted at the end. We watched it with some friends and I couldn't even compose myself to not SOB (...and by sob, I really do mean the gut-wrenching, chest heaving, wobble in the throat sob) in front of them. I couldn't contain myself... the stiff-upper-lip crumbled and lay in the pool of tears between my feet.

What about you? Are these in your top ten list too? What movies are always sure to make you weep like a babe in arms? Don't be shy... you can comment below or message me right in my Twitterface @OrisiB

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Haha! Yes, that's what I did! I totally rewatched E.T. to see if it was as good as I remember it being when I was a kid.

Come on, you all know E.T. right? It's the classic tale of spaceship landing in America... alien getting left behind, boy meets alien, alien creates telepathic link with boy, alien starts dying, boy starts dying too, spaceship comes back, alien goes home. Sounds familiar, right?

This is classic Steven Spielberg. It has a great score, a dynamic cast, an up close and personal movie 'monster' and of course suspense! 

What is mesmerising about this film are the children. Children in this film sit around playing Dungeons and Dragons, their bike rides are exhilarating rather than 'exercise', T.V can hold interest for a few minutes before it's boring, and the outside world is there to be explored and dominated by them. This film is a celebration of childhood even if it did not intend to be. Spielberg is just excellent at shooting children and depicting childhood, Hook (1991) and Jurassic Park (1993) are excellent examples of his craft.  

E.T. gets excellent reviews all round. I know this, and I understand why. It is a coming-of-age tale about an alienated boy and of course the Martian that he comes to love. Spielberg always manages to unite mundanity with the paranormal/otherworldly, he does this in other movies such as The Goonies* (1985), Poltergeist (1982) and Hook.

So the real question is how has it dated? Do I still feel the same way I did when I was little? Unfortunately, no, I don't. In fact there were times where I would go walk-about forgetting that I was even watching a film (no, that's not old age!). When I was little I remember being filled with so much awe, and being terrified in all the right places, but this time round the film felt a little stale. The strangest part is that when I started it, I had honestly  forgotten the majority of the film... after all, I had probably been around six years old when I first watched it. So although I had forgotten much of what would happen, I had not forgotten the score... not a wink. The score is just so amazing.

I can't rate it as high as I would have as a child I'm afraid. I know, I'm being harsh, but even though it's a film that creates such feelings of nostalgia, without it, the film is a little slow for my tastes... and not much really happens. 

Anywho - if you think I'm some crazy crackpot let me know down in the comments section. Of course you are also welcome to scream 'MOVE BLASPHEMY' at me over on Twitter @OrisiB 

Also! Here is a fabulous video of John Williams Creating the Score of E.T.


*Please be aware that Spielberg is a director but also a writer. Some of these films he wrote the story or screenplay for rather than directed

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