Some quotes to get you through bad days

Everybody has bad days. When mine approach, a book is always a friend that helps. Another way to see things in a lighter shade, is your favourite authors’ sayings. So here are some of mine, hope they help on “rainy” days.

pizap.com14456039932631

 

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

pizap.com14456038109441

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
― Robert Frost

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
― André Gide, Autumn Leaves

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride_and_prejudice_and_zombiesWould you like to read the classics but need a bit of encouragement? Do you feel you would get bored? And, mostly, do you like Zombieeeees???

Pride and Prejudice is one of the most popular, and to the majority of readers one of the best  classics. Elizabeth Bennet, one of the five daughters of the Bennet family, finds herself interested in (and at the same time utterly despising) a handsome, smart upper class man named Mr. Darcy. Between them will stand a multitude of people and problems, but most importantly, their own pride and prejudice.

But now is the time for an alteration. The same novel, more action! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies  leaves the same basic line, but 19th century England is now full of zombies! The five Bennet  girls, including Elizabeth, are well trained warriors against the plague that has infested the country. A lot of fighting scenes included, the story looses nothing of its beauty, but gains some extra interesting points.

Should you read it? If you like zombie stories, definitely. If you like fantasy novels and parody novels, likewise. Please take this novel as lightly as it was written, though. It was not written as to offend the fanatics of Pride and Prejudice, nor to mock the great novel. It is just another way of looking at the plot, in an alternate, zombie-infested universe. Enjoy!

6 Horror stories for Halloween eve

Halloween is just around the corner! Although it is not a part of Greece’s tradition, more and more people celebrate it. Some organize costume parties, some go to bars or clubs with spooky decorations,  some watch horror films, and then there are the bibliophiles. W hat better time is there for a good scary-to-death book or just short horror stories? So here are some of my favourites that you might also enjoy.

The Black Cat, Edgar Allan Poe

A personal favourite, Poe is known for his atmospheric and terrifying horror stories, most of them being fairly short. One of his best stories, according to the majority of Poe readers, is The Black Cat. A couple very fond of pets adopts a black cat, Pluto. Soon after, the husband starts being very suspicious of the cat, believing it pushes him towards being violent…to the point of murder.

SalemslothardcoverSalem’s Lot, Stephen King

Coming from a master of horror books, Salem’s Lot was one of King’s first novels. Ben Mears  returns to Jerusalem’s Lot (or ‘Salem’s Lot) in Maine, where he had lived from nine through thirteen, only to discover that the residents are starting to change and then disappear… If you are a fan of supernatural literature, this gem is a must!

Uncle-MontagueUncle Montague’s Tales of Terror, Chris Priestley

Uncle Montague always has the best stories to tell, and every one of them is as spooky as can be. But are they just stories? Or is his nephew about to find more on his latest visit? A collection of beautiful short stories that will get you in Halloween mood!

 

And then there were none, Agatha Christie

Looking for something a bit less spooky? If you want something classic and mysterious, yet nothing of the supernatural sort, go for a good mystery. And who was ever better at mystery novels than Agatha Christie? Ten people are invited on the Indian Island for a weekend, and there they start being murdered, one by one. Are you going to figure out the murderer before the end of the story?

Dracula, Bram Stoker

Ok, the title is self explanatory. Who hasn’t heard of Stoker’s novel, which was one of the first depictions of vampires in literature? Although Coppola’s movie was quite an accurate depiction of the story, nothing can beat the original. Reading this classic is highly suggested. You’ll come to love it, trust me.

coraline_graphic_novelCoraline, Neil Gaiman

A lot of you must have seen the movie, but again, read the book, pretty please! It is such a wonderful story, and it is definitely not just for children. Coraline Jones moves to an old house along with her parents. Being an energetic little girl, she soon finds a key that opens a strange little door hidden behind furniture in the living room, which leads to … her Other Mother! At first looking amazing, her Other Mother and Father will soon start to seem strange and threatening, and she will have to find a way back home quickly.

edx.org as a means to enhancing your reading experience!

edx-logo-headerEver wanted to “dig deeper” into a piece of literature you really liked? Whether a classic or a modern novel, sometimes a books touch as so much that we want to learn more about it and just reading it once isn’t enough. That’s what book clubs are for, right? But nowadays there are more ways to do that.

One that I have found beautiful, clever and extremely helpful is the platforms for learning, such as Coursera or Edx. For those not  familiar with them, they are designed in such a way that the user can, for free, learn a series of subjects via videos and online reading material. The subjects are designed and run by universities around the world.

Untitled
Some of the courses available

I jumped at the chance to learn what I can from one of those courses. It is on the edx platform, in collaboration with Berkley University. The book discussed is A study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the first story of Sherlock Holmes. I have just finished week one, and it is quite good. It looks a lot like a virtual book club, where you are given a reading plan ( for example two chapters per week) and then discuss the chapters on the platform’s forums. There are glossaries to help you study deeper into the book, information about the author and their era, the historical and political  situation of the time,  and some quizzes at the end of the week so that you can see if you have grasped the essence of the story so far.

Overall, I would say it is a good experience. You exchange a lot of ideas, which is quite pleasant. The information you gather about the author and the era are also very interesting. It doesn’t require a lot of your time, just a couple of hours per week, so that is a pro. If you are interested in learning more, edx provides courses for a variety of books. Go ahead and take a look, you might find something really interesting.

The watchmaker of Filigree street

{AC3657CB-4C16-4B7D-BE06-C1FF6560D7FC}Img400London, 1884. Thaniel Steepleton comes home from work to find someone has broken into his flat and left an elaborate, expensive clock for him. Six months later, when the clock saves his life from a bomb explosion, Thaniel will try to find the watchmaker and get some answers. In the same time, Grace Carrow , a theoretical physicist, is struggling to become a respected scientist in a time when women were supposed to be strictly wives and child bearers, while her mother is desperately trying to get her married. When Thaniel and Grace meet the watchmaker, mysterious things start to happen.

This is a very good mystery, full of plot twists that will leave you gasping. Admittingly, you will have to give the book some time. Personally, I found the first twenty pages or so a bit boring, but after that the story became much better, and very interesting. The character of Mr. Mori, the watchmaker, is so elaborate and mysterious, that will have you binge reading in no time.

There is more to it than the actual plot, however. I loved the fact that the author handled serious issues in the book  in a way that it blends in completely. For example, it depicts aspects of racism (in this story it is English against Japanese), women in science and voting rights, and marriage as an obligation versus marriage for love. It is sweet, without being corny.

All in all, considering that it is the author’s first novel, The watchmaker of Filigree street is quite an achievement.  If you are into fantasy books, this is one worthy of your time, especially if Victorian era is a personally favourite of yours.

Words we owe to Shakespeare

Everybody knows Shakespeare. Well, not everyone, but come on, everyone who has ever read books. But did you know that the prolific writer had a flair for creating words? As a matter of fact, a multitude of words we use nowadays are attributed to Shakespeare and can, indeed , be proven to have firstly appeared  in his works. Here are some of those:

pizap.com14448224494331

Yes,seriously, he was the person to invent the phrase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pizap.com14448232727501

pizap.com14448230995781

pizap.com14448228155791

Inspiring female authors of the classics

Being an author is a great accomplishment in itself. Becoming an author two hundred years ago was a greater one, considering how hard it was to become one, what with the small number of publishing books and far smaller reading target groups. However, what I consider an even grander accomplishment is becoming a female author , which is why I admire some of the classics so much. So here are some intelligent, inspiring women who were not afraid to express themselves in difficult times, and to achieve what only few women in the world could in their era.

 

800px-SenseAndSensibilityTitlePageJane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817). One of the most widely read writers in English literature, her works include Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. Little is known of her personal life, it is ,however, known that she received a proper amount of education and was one of the “lucky” women of her era, as she is said to have been given free access to her father’s library, having therefore an access to literature that most women did not have. Her works were published anonymously, and therefore brought her little acknowledgement through her life. Her novels, however, quickly became fashionable among opinion-makers.

 

 

 

 

 

CharlotteBronte
Charlotte Bronte (wikipedia.org)

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855). Bronte’s life was not an easy one. Having lost her mother at an early age, she acted as a motherly figure for her younger sisters.Her first novel, the famous Jane Eyre, was rejected and had to be re-edited before it was accepted under a male pseudonym. . In May 1846 Charlotte and her sisters,  Emily and Anne self-financed the publication of a joint collection of poems under their assumed names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The purpose of the pseudonym was to hide their gender. Charlotte’s pseudonym was Currer Bell, and she continued using it throughout her writing career.  Although she died at the very early age of 38, Charlotte Bronte managed to leave behind wonderful novels, such as The Professor, Emma, and Jayne Eyre.

Emily Jane Brontë (30 July 1818 – 19 December 1848) . The younger sister of Charlotte Bronte was a poet and a writer,  best known for her only novel (and my all time favorite classic), Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. She wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell in order to conceal her gender.Emily died of tuberculosis when she was only 30 years old, and all she had managed to leave literature with are some poems and her novel, Wuthering Heights, but it is such a wonderful classic piece of literature, that is now considered one of the masterpieces of literature.

 

Louisa_May_Alcott_headshotLouisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist and poet. She is best known as the author of the novel Little Women. Her family suffered severe financial difficulties and she had to  work in order  to help support the family from an early age. She worked as a teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper and  was a strong supporter for women’s suffrage , becoming the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts in a school board election. When the American Civil War broke out, she served as a nurse . She was a prolific author, writing throughout her entire life. Her works include Little Women, Litlle Men and Jo’s Boys.

 

 

 

FrankensteinDraft
Shelley’s handwritten notes of Frankenstein

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ( 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) is best known for her gothic novel Frankenstein. Daughter of a political philosopher and a feminist, Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish her husbands, Percy Shelley, works and for her novel Frankenstein.  Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her novels, which include Valperga and The Last Man and Falkner.

Harry Potter fun facts you may have missed

HarryPotter5posterAny Harry Potter fans out there reading this? I hope so… I am a huge fan myself, and I was surprised to learn that J.K. Rowling loves hiding so-called Easter Eggs in her books. To anyone not familiar with the term, an Easter Egg is a small “hint” of the plot, something so well hidden that only few will get to spot. So here are the Easter Eggs I have found out about so far

Professor Trelawney Was Right…

We all thought Professor Trelawney was somewhat nuts, right? Actually, her prophecies were quite good. In The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Trelawney refused to sit at the table where she would be the thirteenth person sitting as she believed that the first person to stand up from that table would be cursed and die. What she failed to count was that Peter Pettigrew was sitting on that table in the form of a rat, so it was already thirteen people at that table. The first to rise from it, Dumbledore, was later killed. In The Order Of The Phoenix, after sitting at a table of thirteen people, Sirius was the first one to stand, and we all know what happened to him.

Dementors Were Created From Depression

J.K.Rowling was suffered from depression while writing the books. The Dementor’s Kiss is supposed to represent how mental illness can make you feel.

October 31st

Halloween Eve, October 31st, is a very significant date in the books. It is also the date his parents were killed by Voldemort, the mountain troll was let into the school, Sirius Black broke into Hogwarts and slashed the Fat Lady’s portrait and it is also on Halloween that Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet Of Fire.

200811131411282LRon had revealed Myrtle’s murder

Not knowingly, of course. In the Chamber of secrets, Ron, talking about Tom Riddle, jokingly says that he might have been rewarded because he “ saved some teacher from a giant squid. Or maybe he murdered Myrtle…”. Little did he know he was actually right!

Snape’s Heartbreak

In the first Book , Snape’s question to Harry is:

Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?

Now, if you look up the meanings of these plants, asphodel is a lilly and wormwood  symbolizes absence and sorrow. Snape is saying ‘I bitterly regret Lily’s death.’

Then secret behind the Longbottom name

The Longbottom surname’s origin  is in J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. In Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Longbottom is a region of the Shire renowned for growing plants . Considering Neville’s flair for herbalism and magical gardening, this is certainly not a coincidence.

Alan Rickman knew all along the reasons Snape hates Harry.

In the films, Snape’s emotions towards Harry are exactly how J.K.Rowling expected him to act. How was he so good at it? Rowling had confided in Rickman about the reasons of Snape’s bitterness. Rickman kept his secret for the entire filming process, with him and the author being the only people who knew about this.