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Luck In The Shadows - Lynn Flewelling [Nightrunner series] [Aug. 1st, 2012|05:54 pm]

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Title: Luck In The Shadows
[Part 1 in the Nightrunner series]
Author: Lynn Flewelling
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bantam Spectra 1996
Pages: Paperbacks, about 500 pages each
Language: English
Rating: 8/10 over all
Summary: Series of fantasy-books about the adventures of young Alec of Kerry and his mentor Seregil of Rhíminee. They meet in the first book when their world is at the brink of war.

[Review of book 1 and 2]Review of book 1 and 2
Book 1: Luck In The Shadows (1996)
Seventeen year old archer Alec is being tortured in prison. He has already lost all hope for release when a bard is put in his jail cell who helps him escape! It turns out the man is only pretending to be a traveling musician; he is the disguised spy Seregil. After seeing how well Alec handled himself during the escape, Seregil is rather charmed by his innocent determination and offers to tutor him. Together they travel South to inform Seregil's client about the preparations for war he discovered. During their trip Seregil steals a magical relic that causes them a lot of problems; Seregil seems to slowly go mad while Alec tries to get them safely to their destination.


And? Are you intrigued already? The book is not free from (fantasy) clichés; the bad guys are a bit OTT charicatures, but it's all very exciting and much bloodier than I would have expected. The guys have to fight a lot and they get hurt more every time.
While Seregil is teaching Alec, the reader also gets a lot of information about the background of the brewing war. He tells him (and us;) extensively about the history of the lands and which part each different tribe, such as the magical Aurënfaie people, play in the conflict.
There are also chapters from other point of views, like the old wizard Nysander and Seregil's best friend and fellow nightrunner Micum. What's very cool is that the main society is matriarchal and there are many fascinating women in charge who are essential to the story. This huge universe is quite overwhelming, but very believable and knowing all the rich details gets you really involved in the story.
What got me hooked to this book however were the dialogues between naive, open Alec and the more experienced, ambiguous Seregil. And then came part two....

Book 2: Stalking Darkness (1997)
Alec and Seregil are now working together, although Alec still feels like Seregil doesn't trust him enough to share personal information. The truth is that Seregil finds it harder and harder to hide his more-than-friendly feelings for Alec...

Ooooh, bet you didn't see that coming;) Intrigued now?
I heartly recommend this series *grins*

So far there are six books and a special edition with short stories:
1. Luck in the Shadows (1996)
2. Stalking Darkness (1997)
3. Traitor's Moon (1999)
4. Shadows Return (2008)
5. The White Road (2010)
6. Casket of Souls (2012)
X. Glimpses (2010), a collection of missing scenes or 'timestamps' from different periods in the series, including before the beginning of the story. It's illustrated with fanart.

Flewelling is currently writing part seven \o/ and she keeps us up to date of the process in her livejournal: otterdance. (She recently mentioned there may be a second version of Glimpses!) Start reading the series now and join me in anticipation:)
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Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell [Jul. 31st, 2012|12:49 pm]

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Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Sceptre, 2004
Pages: Paperback, 864
Language: English
Rating: 10/10 (yes, you read that correctly)
Summary: Seemingly separate stories about different people in different times.

ReviewCollapse )
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Le Ton beau de Marot - Douglas R. Hofstadter [Jul. 22nd, 2012|01:40 pm]

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Title: Le Ton beau de Marot - In Praise of the Music of Language
Author: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Genre: Poetry, Language, Translations, Science
Publisher: Basic Books, 1997
Pages: Paperback, ~700 (including poetry)
Language: English
Rating: 8/10
Summary: Hofstadter analyses the art of translation and shows there is more to it than simply transcribing words. Is it possible to truely express the same sentiment in another language? Will a computer ever be able to convert text as a human would?

[Review + Cover image]

I've been a fan of Douglas R. Hofstadter ever since I read Gödel Escher Bach and you may remember my emotional review of Metamagical Themes.
Even so, I must admit I was a little apprehensive about Le Ton beau de Marot, seeing as Hofstadter starts off with dissecting poetry and I'm not a fan of that. But he uses the poem as an example through out the book, to explain that understanding the meaning behind the words is one of the keys to a succesful translation.

He makes different versions of a French poem by Clément Marot. He begins with a literal word for word transcription in English and ends with several attempts to capture the spirit of it in other languages. He also lets other people translate this poem to show different interpretations cause different versions that nevertheless all can be qualified as a truthful translation.

As Hofstadter's extensive research and discussions show there is more to translating than transscribing one language into an other, so he argues it is nearly impossible for a computer, a machine without conscious thought, to add an interpretation to the translation and to appreciate the beauty and complexity of language.

What I like about Hofstadter's books is that he often takes a detour into other sciences to compare and check theories. He also uses anekdotes to clarify and sometimes seems to go completely off track with a story before making a point. This book was even more personal because it's dedicated to his wife, who died while he was writing the book.

By writing the book as he did, Hofstadter proves his point about computers even better than by simply (de)constructing the poem in different languages. The connections he makes between different cultures, points of view, or personal baggage that may influence the interpretation of text, seem impossible to imitate by a machine.

Despite the poetry-angle this was probably a subject I could relate to best out of all of his books. As I am writing this review my brain is constantly switching between my own language and English. I started with translating part of a Dutch e-mail I sent to a friend about this book and even that was not easy. Even though I have years of experience and sometimes even think in English, it still takes me a long time before I'm satisfied a post expresses my feelings as it would were it written in Dutch.

I'm fascinated by the way computers translate and learn, but surprisingly not much progress has been made in that area since Hofstadter published his book more than 15 years ago! Just check Google translate and you'll find it still struggles with all the subtle differences between languages.

Definitely read this book if you're bi- or multilingual and give it a try if you ever wondered about people who speak another language than you.

Please feel free to correct me on any word of phrasing. I love to learn:)
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Unsorted Booklist [Jun. 17th, 2012|10:06 am]


This is the bookpile on my table, with books I've read in the last few months. I hope to review all of these this summer;)
  1. Douglas R. Hofstadter - Le Ton beau de Marot - In Praise of the music of Language -->REVIEW!
  2. The Fault In Our Stars - John Green
  3. Heldere Hemel - Tom Lanoye
  4. The Kissing Game - Aidan Chambers
  5. Gaudí in Manhattan - Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  6. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ - Philip Pullman
  7. NIGHTRUNNER SERIES - Lynn Flewelling
  8. Jacoba, Dochter van Holland - Simone van der Vlugt
  9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer S8 - Joss Whedon et al.
  10. De Droom Van De Leeuw - Arthur Japin
  11. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
  12. Zomerhuis met zwembad - Herman Koch
  13. The Stranger's Child - Alan Hollinghurst
  14. Fokke & Sukke, Het Afzien van 2010 - Reid, Geleijnse & Van Tol
  15. Jaspers Vlinders - Johan Vandevelde
  16. The Fry Chronicles - Stephen Fry
  17. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchel
  18. De Kraai - Kader Abdolah
  19. Scarlett Thomas - The End Of Mr. Y.
  20. John Green - Papertowns
  21. Abbing & Van Cleeff - De Zwarte Rugzak
  22. Tjibbe Veldkamp & Kees de Boer - Bert en Bart Redden De Wereld
  23. Tim Winton - Cloudstreet
  24. Theo Thijssen - Het Grijze Kind
  25. Astrid Lindgren - De Gebroeders Leeuwenhart
  26. Vamoose - Meg Rosoff
  27. Over het Kanaal - Annelies Beck
Found three more books hidden in the pile(s):
John Green - Looking For Alaska
Scarlett Thomas - PopCo
Theo Thijssen - Schoolland

I have Dutch reviews of most of them, just need to translate and organize them;)
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Good Luck - Christine Otten & Erik Kessels [Apr. 15th, 2012|11:14 am]


Title: Christine Otten & Erik Kessels
Author: Good Luck
Genre: Essay, photos
Publisher: CPNB, 2011
Pages: Hardcover, 144
Language: Dutch
Rating: 7/10
Summary: So-called essay, made for Dutch bookweek 2011, based on the theme 'Written Portraits' (Geschreven portretten). Inspired by old photos Otten & Kessels found of an unknown couple, they made up a family history for the two of them.
[Review + Cover image]

What a fun concept! The story reads like a soap-opera about Betty and Pierre Vincent and their 'houseguest', who appears to be more than just a friend to Betty... If you didn't know it was all made up, you'd almost believe it. Just look at those (holiday) snap-shots; you can totally see there's something going on between the three of them. Cute.

You can sample the book online: here!
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De Literaire Kring - Marjolein Februari [Mar. 27th, 2012|06:05 pm]


Title: De Literaire Kring (~The Bookclub)
Author: Marjolein Februari
Genre: Novel
Publisher: Prometheus, 2007
Pages: Hardcover, 253
Language: Dutch
Rating: 5/10
Summary: Thirtysomething Teresa moved back to the town where she grew up. Her wealthy husband has joined the local bookclub that was founded by her father. When Teresa hears that her former classmate Ruth wrote an international bestseller, she invites Ruth to the local bookstore for a signing and lecture. But then Teresa learns that Ruth has uncovered a past that the town would prefer to forget...
Review Cover imageCollapse )
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Vaslav - Arthur Japin [Mar. 23rd, 2012|10:01 pm]

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Title: Vaslav
Author: Arthur Japin
Including: The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsksi
Genre: Novel, diary, biography
Publisher: Arbeiderspers, 2010
Pages: Hardcover novel, 374; Paperback diary, 224
Language: Dutch
Rating: 8/10
Summary: Inspired by the diary of ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinskiby, this is the fictionalized story of his life, told from three points of view. His wife, his manager (and ex-lover) and his manservant tell what happened leading up to Vaslav's final performance in 1917, when he stopped in mid dance and said he had danced enough. After that Vaslav never danced or spoke again until his death in 1950.

Review + Cover imageCollapse )
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Loesje's view of the year 2011 [Mar. 20th, 2012|11:04 pm]


Title: Als Ik Het Even Niet Meer Weet,
Doe Ik Altijd Een Stapje Vooruit
(When I'm Lost, I Always Take A Step Forward)
Author: Loesje
Genre: Politics
Publisher: A.W. Bruna, 2011
Pages: Paperback, 192
Language: Dutch
Rating: 9/10
Summary: The 2011 collection of posters featuring thoughts and smart arse comments on politics, the economy, the world, love and other important stuff
A sample pageCollapse )

Loesje: a writer's collective, a NGO, a creative network, a contagious idea - call it what you want! This invisible girl from the Netherlands has been conquering the world with posters since 1983. I've been a fan from the start:)
For slogans that will make you think, frown or laugh, I recommend following Loesje on her English Twitter: Loesje International or check out the official website: www.loesje.org

(If you want Dutch links, let me know;)
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Herman Koch - Het Diner [Mar. 19th, 2012|08:50 pm]


Title: Het Diner (The Dinner*)
Author: Herman Koch
Genre: Novel
Publisher: Anthos, 2009
Pages: Hardcover, 300
Language: Dutch
Rating: 8.5/10
Summary: Two brothers and their wives have dinner in a fancy restaurant. Their conversations are stilted, because they are trying to avoid talking about their teenage sons. Those boys have done something that could seriously harm everybody's future. Not in the least that of one of them, who's trying to become the new prime minister of the Netherlands.

Review + ImageCollapse )

*The Dinner will be available in English in August 2012! (It's already available in German (Angerichtet), Spanish (El sopar), Italian (La cena) and French (Le dîner).
Get it! And then tell me if it's as awesome in translation:)
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Blue Grass Liefde + Ons Derde Lichaam - Edward van de Vendel [Mar. 17th, 2012|03:48 pm]

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Two books in one review! First part was written in 1999 and in 2006 there was an unexpected follow up. I read both last year:)

Title: De Dagen Van De Blue Grass Liefde (The Days of Blue Grass Love)
Author: Edward van de Vendel
Genre: Teens
Publisher: Em. Querido, 1999
(my edition is a Wolters-Noordhoff/Jonge Lijsters reprint from 2002*)
Pages: Paperback, 157
Language: Dutch
Rating: 7.5/10
Summary: Dutch Tycho travels to America to work in an international summercamp. He meets Oliver from Norway and they fall in love. What will happen when they return to their every day life in their own countries?

Review + ImageCollapse )


Title: Ons Derde Lichaam (Our Third Body)
Author: Edward van de Vendel
Genre: Teens
Publisher: Querido, 2006
Pages: Paperback, 300
Language: Dutch
Rating: 8/10

I'm putting the summary behind a cut because it's kind of spoilery if you haven't read part one!Collapse )

Strangely enough the second book was translated into French under the title All Together Now. How un-French.
It's also available in German: Die langen Nächte der Stille, which sounds rather ominous. The German editions have beautiful covers, for those of you who care about that as much as I do;)

I loved both books and they are available for borrowing from my personal library;)
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