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Librocubicularist

6 Degrees of Separation: Revolutionary Road

December 3, 2016 | One comment


 

6 Degrees of Separation is a book meme hosted by Kate at Books are My Favorite and Best. The goal is to construct a chain with 6 other books, using any criteria you want, and see where you end up.

The last starting book for 2016 is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. I have seen the film adaption and loved it but I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not yet read the book (in spite of multiple trusted book bloggers, including Kate, recommending it). I have checked it out from the library countless times but I never get around to reading it before I have to return it.

Another book that I frequently check out from the library, but never have read, is The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. It is one of my friend Em’s all-time favourite books, and I have decided that 2017 will be the year when I finally read it.

Another book that is on my must-read list for 2017 is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It’s one of those books that kind of scare me. I never feel brave enough to jump in and get started with the >1000 pages.

A recent addition to my to-read-list, but that I’m also a bit hesitant to start reading, is Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton. It’s gotten great reviews, and I’m always telling myself that I should read more non-fiction (but then I get distracted by all the crime novels).

The most recent crime series that made me rearrange my to-read pile is Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy. The first book, The Blackhouse, had me captivated from the first page. The setting is just one of the many things that I love about it.

Another crime series set on a Scottish island that I just started reading, and love, is Ann Cleeves’ Shetland Series. I’m currently listening to the first book, Raven Black, and it is spectacular. It is narrated by Gordon Griffin, who is a joy to listen to.

Another book I recently listened to, with an excellent narrator (Dan Stevens), is Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None. It is the first book by her I ever read, and it remains one of my favourites.

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This time, my chain took me from Revolutionary Road, via books I’m either preparing to read or is currently reading, to And Then There Were None, one of my all-time favourites.

Why don’t you join us and make your own chain? Starting with Revolutionary Road, where will you end up? Visit Books Are My Favourite and Best to read the rules and see who else made a chain this month.

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Life & Everything

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #68

December 2, 2016 | No comments


 

1. I cannot believe it is already December. Time goes too fast.

2. The good thing is that it’s finally time to start listening to all the Christmas music and decorate my apartment. My favourite decoration is this Christmas countdown calendar that my grandma made. She made multiple ones, all identical – I have one, my sister has one, and my cousin has one (and I’m pretty sure there are at least a couple more in the family).

christmas

3. I don’t buy cookbooks that often, but The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook – Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For is one that I’d like to add to my collection.

4. One of the things I always look forward to in December is to hear DJ Earworm’s mashup United State of Pop (although I have to admit that this year I could only recognize about half of the songs included).

5. Kate has complied her list of lists of the best books of the year. It’s a must read for all fans of lists, books, and booklists. The only negative thing about these lists is that they make me want to buy so many books. (Or all the books, really.)

Visit Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for more bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.

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Librocubicularist

Reading Recap | 123

November 28, 2016 | One comment


 

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Last week I finally finished the spy thriller The Travelers by Chris Pavone (★). I had a hard time finishing it because it was overly confusing and disjointed.

I also finished Den dubbla tystnaden by Mari Jungstedt (★★★), the seventh book about Detective Anders Knutas.

I listened to Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (★★★). I’ve read this one several times before, and I very much enjoyed listening to the full cast edition with Kate Beckinsale as Juliet.

I also listened to And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer (★★★), narrated by Gerard Doyle. I don’t read short stories that often, but this one was overall a good read with several stories I wished had been longer.

 

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This week I’m continuing The Blackhouse by Peter May, the first in a trilogy about Detective Inspector Fin Macleod in Edinburgh.

I’m also planning to read Without Mercy by Jefferson Bass, the 10th book in the Body Farm series.

I’m listening to Raven Black by Ann Clevees, the first book in her Shetland Island series about Inspector Jimmy Perez.

 
What are you reading at the moment? For more inspiration and other’s reading plans, visit the it’s Monday, what are you reading linkup.

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Librocubicularist

And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer

November 27, 2016 | No comments


 

andtherebyhangsatale

In brief: Collection of 15 short stories, some of which are based on real events.

Setting: Various countries.

The good: Archer is a master of detailed descriptions, interesting characters, and intriguing plot lines. This is shown in stories like Stuck On You about a young man who is played by a diamond thief; The Queen’s Birthday Telegram about a cute old couple; Where There’s a Will about a woman who tricks an old man; and my absolute favourite High Heels about an insurance claims investigator who receives help from his wife to solve a case involving designer shoes. The audiobook is narrated by Gerard Doyle, who is becoming one of my favourites.

The not-so-good: Some of the stories felt forced or didn’t make much sense (like Better the Devil You Know). Others, like Members Only and No Room at the Inn were quite boring.

Why I read it: I’ve liked most of what I’ve read by Archer, and I was in the mood for something easy to listen to.

My rating: ★★★ (some stories ★★★★)

Conclusion: Quick, easy read with multiple gems.

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Life & Everything

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #67

November 23, 2016 | 3 comments


 

1. Winter is here. I don’t so much mind the cold, but the darkness is harder to get used to. At the moment, the sun doesn’t rise until around 10:30 am and it sets at 4:00 pm. I usually don’t have a hard time waking up in the morning, but lately it seems impossible to get out of bed before 8 am.

2. I bought an alarm clock that simulates sunlight. I might imagine things, but I think it helps.

3. I cannot wait to see the new Beauty and the Beast.

4. Amazon published their list for the best books of 2016. I have only read one of the books the editors picked (The Trespasser by Tana French), and one (Lab Girl by Hope Jahren) is on my to-read list.

5. I highly approve of lists like this one pairing books and wine.

6. I’ve been lazy lately and have mostly been borrowing ebooks from the library, but Saturday I finally went to the library and picked up a bunch of books. The library had a display shelf all about Icelandic Noir, so I ended up with a lot more books than I had planned.

7. I had completely missed that the Iceland Noir festival was last week. I have already marked my calendar for next year so I don’t miss it again.

8. All of these are on my Christmas wishlist.

9. This post very eloquently summarizes almost all the things that I find scary about the outcome of the US election.

Visit Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for more bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.

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Librocubicularist

Reading Recap | 122

November 21, 2016 | 4 comments


 

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Last week I finished The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron (★★★), the fifth book about game warden Mike Bowditch in Maine.

I finished listening to This Body of Death by Elizabeth George (★★★), the 16th book in the Inspector Lynley series.

I also listened to Murder on the Orient Express (★★★) and And Then There Were None (★★★★) by Agatha Christie, both narrated by Dan Stevens. I had read both of them before, and the audiobooks were very good.

 

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This week I’m continuing the spy thriller The Travelers by Chris Pavone. So far, I’m not very impressed by it.

I’m much more enjoying Den dubbla tystnaden by Mari Jungstedt, the seventh book about Detective Anders Knutas.

I’m also planning to read The Blackhouse by Peter May, the first in a trilogy about Detective Inspector Fin Macleod in Edinburgh.

I’m currently listening to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for the Reading the Classics challenge (which I sadly have been neglecting this year).

 
What are you reading at the moment? For more inspiration and other’s reading plans, visit the it’s Monday, what are you reading linkup.

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My Brain is Mostly Song Lyrics

Hallelujah

November 20, 2016 | No comments


 

Yesterday, I mentioned some of my favourite lyrics by the late Leonard Cohen. Number four on my list was Hallelujah. This song took Cohen about four years to write, with draft versions of 80 or so verses. The original recording from 1994 had four verses, and in 1988 he sang an alternative version of three of them.

Of all his songs, Hallelujah is probably the most well-known and it is definitely the one that I listen to the most. If you are like me, and don’t actually like listening to Leonard Cohen singing, there are hundreds and hundreds of cover versions to find a favourite among. The cover versions span the range from hideous and hated to brilliant and adored. No matter what musical style or mood you prefer, there is surely to be a cover version for you. Unfortunately, searching for Hallelujah on for example youtube can lead you to some scary places. To save your ears (and your sanity), I’ve made a list of both the good and some of the bad to get you started.

 
GROUP 1: THE CLASSIC VERSIONS

John Cale | Cale re-arrangement using two verses from the original 1984 version and three from the 1988 version is probably my favourite (although the new music video linked above gives me chills – and not the good kind).

Jeff Buckley | Jeff Buckley’s recording from 1994 is probably the most popular cover version, and is mostly based on Cale’s version with the same verses. Unless you’ve actually heard Cohen’s or Cale’s recordings, this is probably the one you are most familiar with (or blasphemy, even think is the original). I love this for how sorrowful the song has become.

Rufus Wainwright | Wainwright’s version, which was featured on the 2001 soundtrack to the film Shrek (although Cale’s version was used in the film) is another classic. It’s a bit of mix between Cale’s and Buckley’s versions.

k.d. lang | I my opinion, k.d. lang’s version from 2004 combines the best of Cohen’s original with Cale’s and Buckley’s covers, and using two of the 1984 verses and two of the 1988 verses.

 
GROUP 2: THE ACAPELLA VERSIONS

Pentatonix | Penatonix’s version from last month is one of the most recent. It uses the same verses as k.d. lang. At first, I wasn’t sure if this belonged in the hate or love category, but the more I hear it, the more I like it.

Peter Hollens & Jackie Evancho | I usually like both Peter Hollens and Jackie Evancho, but their version of Hallelujah did not impress me.

 
GROUP 3: THE TRANSLATED VERSIONS

Côr Glanaethwy | This version with the Welsh choir Côr Glanaethwy is absolutely amazing.

Il Divo | Best version if you’re in the mood for Hallelujah in Italian.

Peter Jöback | Plenty of artists have performed Swedish covers of Hallelujah (with different translations). This is one of the better.

 
GROUP 4: THE INSTRUMENTAL VERSIONS

Brooklyn Duo | I have a soft spot for this version, with a piano and cello, based on Buckley’s version.

Roy & Rosemary | This version, with a piano and violin (and an orchestra), is lovely.

Chris Botti | Hallelujah on trumpet? Yes, please.

Brian Crain | There’s plenty of great pianists that have recorded Hallelujah. This is one of my favourites.

Lindsey Stirling | I’m usually a big fan of Lindsey Stirling, but this arrangement did not work for me (it starts nicely but then it goes downhill fast).

 
GROUP 5: THE RANDOM VERSIONS

Gregorian | The German bad Gregorian’s rendition, using two of the 1984 verses and one of the 1988 verses, is big and magnificent. It’s actually one of the versions I listen to the most often.

Espen Lind, Kurt Nilsen, Alejandro Fuentes and Askil Holm | The 2006 acoustic version by a Norwegian quartet, using two of the 1984 verses and only one of the 1988 verses, is worth listening to just to hear Kurt Nilsen singing the last verse. It gives me chills (the good kind).

Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris | This heartfelt cover from the Hope for Haiti Now concert following the 2010 earthquake is worth listening to.

The Canadian Tenors | The orchestra is a nice touch, but this rendition is quite forgettable. (And part of the arrangement doesn’t work for me.)

Sam Tsui, Alex G, and Casey Breves | Sam Tsui and Casey Breves’ voices are perfect, but I’m not a fan of Alex G.

Vocal Majority | Hallelujah with a big choir? Yes, why not.

Choir! Choir! Choir! | Another big choir (1500!), this one singing with Rufus Wainwright. I love it.

Jake Hamilton | I’m all for people reinterpreting songs and making them their own, but this one makes my ears hurt (and my heart ache).

Shawn Mendes | This is probably one of the worst covers of Hallelujah I have ever heard. You have been warned.

 
What’s the best (or worst) cover of Hallelujah you have come across?

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My Brain is Mostly Song Lyrics

Leonard Cohen

November 19, 2016 | 2 comments


 

David Bowie. Paul Kanter. Glenn Frey. Prince. And now Leonard Cohen. 2016, you are turning out to be one depressing year (in so many, many ways). A while ago, I wrote about the problem I have with Bob Dylan. I have the same issue with Leonard Cohen. I think he was a brilliant songwriter (and poet), but I do not like listening to him singing.

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This week I have been rediscovering some of Cohen’s gems. Some of my favourite lyrics are:

1. Anthem
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”

2. Bird on the Wire
“I have torn everyone who reached out for me
But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee”

3. Dance Me to the End of Love
“Dance me to the children
Who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains
That our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now
Though every thread is torn
And dance me to the end of love”

4. Hallelujah
“There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah”

“Love is not some kind of victory march
No it’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah”

5. Come Healing
“Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace
O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart
O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The Heart beneath is teaching
To the broken Heart above”

6. If I Didn’t Have Your Love
“That’s how broken it would be
What the world would seem to me
If I didn’t have your love to make it real”

7. First We Take Manhattan
“They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within”

8. Suzanne
“And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love”

9. Everybody Knows
“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost”

10. A Street
“It wasn’t all that easy
When you up and walked away
But I’ll save that little story
For another rainy day
I know the burden’s heavy
As you wheel it through the night
Some people say it’s empty
But that don’t mean it’s light

The party’s over
But I’ve landed on my feet
I’ll be standing on this corner
Where there used to be a street”

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Librocubicularist

The Trespasser by Tana French

November 17, 2016 | No comments


 

thetrespasser

In brief: Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran of the Dublin Murder Squad investigates the murder of Aislinn Murray, a blond, pretty woman found dead in her home next to a table set for a romantic dinner. Aislinn’s boyfriend is the obvious suspect, but Conway and Moran soon finds that there are things about the open-and-shut case that do not add up.

Published: 2016

Setting: Dublin, Ireland.

Why I read it: It’s the sixth book about the detectives at the Dublin Murder Squad, one of my favourite series.

The good: One of the things I like about this series is that each book is narrated by a different detective that has been introduced in a previous book. Conway, from The Secret Place, is one of my favourite characters. She is bold, brash, and sarcastic. The dynamic between her and Steve Moran (previously introduced in Faithful Place) is close to perfect. Tana French is an expert at creating interesting characters that are likable, in spite of all their unlikable attributes, and at writing great dialogue – both of which are showcased in The Trespasser.

The not-so-good: Compared to the earlier books in the series (especially the first two In the Woods and The Likeness) I thought the plot occasionally moved a bit too slow. The solution of the case was also a bit more predictable than in the previous novels.

My rating: ★★★★

Conclusion: Tana French never disappoints.

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Couch Potato

Ten Favourite Romantic Films

November 15, 2016 | 11 comments


 

I love movies, almost as much as I love books. Making a list of my top ten all-time favourites (as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) turned out to be an impossible task, but ten of my favourite romantic films that I can watch over and over again are in no particular order:

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1. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
About two business rivals (Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) who despise each other in real life but fall in love over the internet.

2. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
About a hopeless romantic Chicago Transit Authority token collector (Sandra Bullock) is mistaken for the fiancée of a coma patient (Peter Gallagher) while falling in love with his brother (Bill Pullman).

3. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
About a recently widowed man (Tom Hanks) whose son calls a radio talk-show in an attempt to find his father a partner, and a reporter (Meg Ryan) who is intrigued by their story.

4. Dirty Dancing (1987)
About the girl Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) who spends the summer at a resort with her family and falls in love with the camp’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).

5. The Lake House (2006)
About a lonely doctor (Sandra Bullock) who begins exchanging love letters with an architect (Keanu Reeves) whose former home she once lived in.

6. Titanic (1997)
About a seventeen-year-old aristocrat (Kate Winslet) who falls in love with a kind but poor artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic.

7. City of Angels (1998)
About the meeting between a doctor and an angel (Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage).

8. Ever After (1998)
About the orphan Danielle (Drew Barrymore) who falls in love with a prince (Dougray Scott).

9. The Notebook (2004)
About a young man (Ryan Gosling) who falls in love with a rich young woman (Rachel McAdams) but are separated because of their social differences.

10. The Bodyguard (1992)
About a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) who takes on the job of bodyguard to a pop singer (Whitney Houston).

Which are some of your all-time favourite romantic movies?

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