8 Sept 2015

Teaser Tuesday #13

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.
The rules:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser is from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent:


Northern Iceland, 1829. A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover. A family forced to take her in. A priest tasked with absolving her. But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date. Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes's story.

My Teaser

 'Natan did not believe in sin. He said that it is the flaw in the character that makes a person.' 

Don't forget to leave a link to your TT post in a comment below! :)

6 Sept 2015

My Dream Literary Collection (Invaluable project)

I was contacted by Invaluable.com recently, an online auction site with a huge collection of valuable books. They asked me if I felt like putting together my dream literary collection from antique books they have to offer and I thought why not.

Being a poor student these books are only eye-candies for me, but hey, who knows? Someday I might get rich and be able to bid on half or all of these books. I'll have a private library with several floors and shelves so high I'll need a ladder to reach the highest ones... Yes, it's time to dream!

When I went through the list of books on the site, I found some that I, had I the chance, would buy without a second thought. Let me show them to you:

Lot 745 (available): The Tempest by William Shakespeare (1908)

Look at this beauty! Even though the Tempest is not one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, I studied it at uni and I have several good memories of the courses where it came up. Someday I would like to own a collection of all of Shakespeare's plays and I would be glad to own copies as beautiful as this one.

Lot 450 (available): For whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'm not a big fan of Mr. Hemingway, but I love Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby to death. These are first edition books. Although The Great Gatsby is not in pristine condition, I would still be more than happy to own it.

Lot 197 (sold): The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Oh, this is a clever cover! Beautiful edition. I have a special relationship with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I wrote an essay a few years ago for a course in which I compared Stevenson's book with Mihály Babits's Gólyakalifa (The Nightmare in English) and I enjoyed the writing process a lot, because I had amaizing materials to work with. I would definitely treasure this edition.

Lot 177 (sold): Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

I  spent long days reading Winnie-the-Pooh when I was a child. Everyone has favourite childhood books, for me this is one of them. The animals who live in the Hundred Acre Wood became my friends and who wouldn't want to share their house with their friends? Even if they live on paper. I love the colours of these editions, the minimalist cover and the map and drawings on the inside of the front and back cover.

Lot 1906 (past lot): Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Of course I would need a copy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in my collection! When I saw this cover design I completely fell in love. A bit cartoonish, but I think it reflects the atmosphere of the story just fine. The green and black works together oh so well. If you take a look at the illustrations inside (you can do that on the website), you'll see that they are a bit different from that on the front covers, but still gorgeous. *grabby hands*

 If you had a huge literary collection which books would surely be part of it? Let me know in a comment below! :) Happy reading!

2 Sept 2015

"Waiting on" Wednesday #3

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by breakingthespine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

The following book is one I truly can't wait to put my hands on. Guys, it's a steampunk Frankenstein retelling! With a Clockwork!Monster. Sounds awesome.

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Date of publication: Sept 22, 2015


In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

1 Sept 2015

Teaser Tuesday #12

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.
The rules:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week I'm going to tease you with a couple of sentences from Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin #2) by Jordan L. Hawk:

Introverted scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne wants nothing more than to live quietly with his lover, ex-Pinkerton detective Griffin Flaherty. Unfortunately, Whyborne's railroad tycoon father has other ideas, namely hiring Griffin to investigate mysterious events at a coal mine.

Whyborne, Griffin, and their friend Christine travel to Threshold Mountain, a place of dark legend even before the mine burrowed into its heart. A contingent of Pinkertons-including Griffin's ex-lover Elliot-already guard the mine. But Griffin knows better than anyone just how unprepared the detectives are to face the otherworldly forces threatening them.

Soon, Whyborne and Griffin are on the trail of mysterious disappearances, deadly accidents, and whispered secrets. Is Elliot an ally, or does he only want to rekindle his relationship with Griffin? And if so, how can Whyborne possibly hope to compete with the stunningly handsome Pinkerton-especially when Griffin is hiding secrets about his past?

For in a town where friends become enemies and horror lurks behind a human mask, Whyborne can't afford to trust anything-including his own heart.

My Teaser

"My family has certain expectations of me". I spoke only the truth father expected me to fail spectacularly at whatever I turned my hand to but I saw no need to elaborate.  

I find this series very entertaining so far. The first book reminded me of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movie and Antal Szerb's The Pendragon Legend. It was pure fun. I'm enjoying the second book so far, too!

Don't forget to leave a link to your TT post in a comment below! :)

Interview with Michael Mullin, author of Simon

Michael Mullin, author of the modern day Hamlet retelling Simon was kind enough to answer my questions regarding his novel and of course Shakespeare.

Synopsis of the novel: 

His father is dead. His mother has remarried. His uncle is . . . his new stepfather? When the ghost of Simon Elsinore's father returns and claims he was murdered by his own brother, the nineteen-year-old film student must determine what is true and exact the revenge his father demands.

You can check out my review of Simon here.

Why Hamlet? Do you have a special relationship with this particular play?

I’m a bit of a Hamlet geek for sure, but not so much one of Shakespeare on the whole. I’ve always loved the depth of the story and the character in Hamlet. As a graduate student, I designed and taught a freshman writing course that was (oddly) called The Myth of the Hero. Along with some Joseph Campbell, I taught Hamlet, Frankenstein, Frank Miller’s Batman graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns and a near-final draft screenplay of Star Wars. (Cool course, I know.) I also wanted my son’s middle name to be Hamlet. That idea, however, was shot down.

How much did you lean on the original text?

I mostly used the Hamlet text for story arc, major plot points and characterizations. While writing the novel, there were certainly no questions as to what will happen next. It was more like: “How might that happen in a modern world?” What I tried most to avoid in my adaptation was anything that would come across to readers as me trying to be clever, matching up scenes and lines and interactions and such. The joke in my pitch is that I swear, Simon’s last name (Elsinore) is like the only time!

If you taught your book alongside Hamlet in high school which similarities/differences would you put emphasis on?

It’s interesting how universal themes like revenge and mortality translate over centuries and across cultures. I think discussions and analysis of this type would best engage students. Also, much-studied aspects of the original play like Perception vs. Reality could be looked at with regards to how we are “shown” the theatrical drama of Hamlet and how the fictional public in (and readers of) Simon are “shown” the story’s aftermath via the sensational news media.

Which character was the hardest to write? Why?

I’d have to say Juliana was the biggest challenge, evidenced by the fact that her scenes were rewritten the most. It was important to me that she was much more than merely a member of some supporting cast. Her familial backstory and her demise were of my own design, and I hoped to translate some of Ophelia’s reserved, mysterious qualities in a young woman who rings true as her own, interesting person.

How and/or why did the movie aspect come in?

I must confess a little bit of a “write what you know” autobiographical approach there. I studied film and filmmaking as an undergraduate (like a century ago), so it wasn’t too difficult to revert back to my nineteen-year-old self in that regard. That said, I went with the theme mainly for two reasons: first, it worked with today’s “YA” generation. Everyone films everything now, but Simon is “above” the common folk in his serious study of the medium. And second, Simon lives (just as Hamlet does) mainly in a world of his own creation. Every bit of dramatic action – and inaction – is crafted for a purpose. His purpose.
Do you yourself prefer written, performed or screened Shakespeare?

I haven’t even read all the plays, and I’ve only seen a couple of stage productions. I imagine theatrical versions must be the hardest to do without the highest level of talent (acting and production). I’m looking forward to seeing an onscreen version of the recent theatrical production starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet. That’s here in Los Angeles in November. That counts as performed, I think because it’s not a movie!   

Do you have a favourite Hamlet movie adaptation?

Give me the Kenneth Branagh full-text film from the mid 1990s any day.

If you had to choose a death from Shakespeare’s tragedies for yourself, which one would you opt for?

If recollection serves me, it’s mostly stabbings and poisonings, right? I’d say one in which I get to give a speech while it’s happening. That narrows it down a little, but perhaps not that much.

Would you consider retelling other stories of Shakespeare?

Not any time soon, no. I just don’t have that level of investment in any other work. Simon was the proverbial labour of love for me.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

A couple of years ago, I published a YA collection of three twisted fairytale retellings called TaleSpins. The first story (featuring the 8th dwarf no one knew about) has a graphic novel adaptation already out called 8: The Untold Story. I’m currently working on comic book versions for the other two TaleSpins stories.
I’m also throwing darts at the wall on an adult, thriller novel. Years ago, the story idea produced several unfinished drafts as a screenplay, so I’m weeding through that content, deciding on a direction.

Simon on Goodreads

Simon on Amazon