January 28, 2013

Book Review: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Pages: 550

Year Published: 2006

 Rating: The world...

"The notes were born on her breath, and they died at her lips."

By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

I finished this book with my back propped against a pillow, my legs resting on my bed. I finished this book with a sweater draped over my chest, and my hair in a ponytail. I finished this book to the cracklings of the heating, the whistling of the wind. I finished this book surrounded by darkness but bathed in light. I finished this book and did not know what to do next.

I didn't even cry. I didn't, but I could feel the tears inside of me, stuck yet traveling across my body, slowly and with morose. And I don't know, maybe I'm exaggerating my emotions, but I'm not. This book, this modest book with freshly worn edges and a few wrinkled pages has taught me so much. It has taught me, shown me, softened me and strengthened me.

January 25, 2013

Classical Piece of the Week: Nocturne Op.9 No.2

Sometimes, a piano and an open soul is all you need to express all the emotions a human can feel. Nocturne Op. 9 No.2 by Frédéric Chopin is a lovely piece that really does bring that essence to reality.

It may sound like an easy piece to play, but this Nocturne requires a balance in technique, but also in the spirit within yourself. You really do have to feel at peace, or something like that, to truly bring out the beautiful music that resides within this piece.

January 21, 2013

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Author: Laini Taylor

Pages: 417

Year Published: 2011

My rating: An undeniable 5/5 stars!

Quick synopsis from Goodreads:
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

Sometimes, you forget what a good book can do to you. Pounding heart, wide eyes, shortened breath. Daughter of Smoke and Bone revived that feeling in me.

From the turn of the first page, I was sucked into a mysterious world, boldly crafted by Laini Taylor. This is the kind of book in which you have no idea what to expect. The synopsis gave away nothing, which was perfect, because you actually had the freedom to roam around in your own thoughts, your own imagination, and think about all the different possibilities this story could take in. And the writing. Rich, velvety, deep. Yet not overly excessive. Taylor is an amazing storyteller that isn't afraid to show originality.

January 18, 2013

Classical Piece of the Week: Jupiter

Well, I seem to have been going on an orchestral music roll (...two pieces...), and there are no signs of stopping, because, I present you another orchestral piece: Jupiter, from The Planets, by Gustav Holst.

This piece reminds me of a fantasy land, filled with odd creatures, a sweet air with a tad bit of mysteriousness lurking beneath it, and for some reason, lots of old-school soldiers. I absolutely love the strings' bee-like buzzing tone, and the brass' powerful dominance. It really does sound like Jupiter. Grandiose, ambitious and quite dignified.

January 15, 2013

The Best is Yet to Come

A few days back, I was trying to build a 3D cell model out of Lego. That turned out to be a failure, which totally crushed my dreams of building a cell out of Lego. But that's not exactly the point of this post.

So I had this plan, and that plan required a lot of 4x2 gray bricks. And so, I started looking for those specific bricks out of the huge pile of Lego that lay in front of me. After a few minutes, I thought I had picked out all of them, and set off to work. Of course, I misjudged my plan, and it turned out that I didn't have enough gray bricks. So out of hopelessness, I took another look at the pile of Lego to see if I might of had neglected a couple of gray bricks. And it turns out that I had. So I went back to work with a fresh new pile of gray bricks, but after a while, I was out again. I took another quick glance at the pile of Lego to see if I might've missed out on some gray bricks (like last time), and hey, who knew that I had! And so, this pattern repeated during my whole process of trying to build a cell out of Lego.

January 7, 2013

Book Review: How to Save a Life

Author: Sara Zarr

Pages: 341

Year Published: 2011

Quote: "Sometimes the road home is the hardest to find"

Quick synopsis from Goodreads:
Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one. Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too? As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.

Before I read the last 50 pages or so of this book, I thought I had already set my mind on my thoughts for it. And trust me, they were good thoughts. But then, all the storyline slowly unraveled down into a sort of unnatural ending. So now I am torn. I do not know whether or not I should still love this book. The things a bad ending can do...

I have read all of Sara Zarr's book. Story of a Girl, Once was Lost, Sweethearts. None of them appealed to me, yet when I laid my eyes on How to Save a Life at the library, I knew I just had to read it. And so began a journey with a book that I had low hopes for, but remained open hearted to. And wow, after a few dozens pages, I thought I had found my book. The story, the characters, the details... They just fit so right, so at ease.

January 4, 2013

Classical Piece of the Week: Dance of the Knights

You can also listen to this piece (and all my other CPOTW) on this Youtube playlist.

Wow, it has been quite a long time since my last Classical Piece of the Week, eh? Anyways, just yesterday, I got this giant and epic Shakespeare book over at the ever-so-awesome Costco. It contains all the plays and some poems and sonnets. I will not lie, I am very bad at reading anything old school, but I really do want to learn some knowledge on Shakespeare, so I will try my best to understand the words.

So in the theme of Shakespeare, this week I choose Dance of Knights from the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev as my Classical Piece of the Week. It is an orchestral piece that really is quite something.

January 3, 2013

More than a Cruise

What I love about cruises is that they have awesome food 24/7, a great selection of activities, people from all around the world and a fantastic vibe. Sure, I've only been on one cruise in my life, but I'm certain that many other cruises have all the great stuff I listed above.

Yet it's also more than that. When you're on a cruise, you have the freedom to roam around everywhere, you can get ice cream whenever you want, and if you feel like dancing, you can just head on over to the DJ's place and have a blast! It's like an endless amount of possibilities to have fun.

January 1, 2013

New Year, New Design!

Hello my fellow friends! If you happened to check my blog these past several days, you might have noticed that I have not posted anything since Christmas. The reason being is simply that I didn't really feel like it. I was in North Carolina and I guess I just wanted to enjoy my trip to the fullest. Anyways, you should be expecting a new post in the next few days!

Well, in other news...

Happy New Year! Wishing you guys a prosperous year full of laughs, love, new discoveries, hard work, and fun! Also, in the theme of New Year, I decided to revamp my blog's design! I changed my Template from Simple to Travel, and I replaced my three columns to two columns. And the colour theme has slightly changed too! Right now, I haven't exactly completely settled on this design, so I might make a few tweaks along the road. Don't hesitate on leaving a quick comment below to tell me what you think about my new design!

And, here's a little small news...

I have decided to break through another social barrier, and I got myself an Instagram! Honestly, it feels exactly like when I first started my blog. I check it constantly, and every time I get a new like or follower, I squeal of joy, lol. So if you guys have an Instagram, just let me know in the comments below, I'd be more glad to follow! And if anyone's interested, mine's @violingrace.

Looks like that concludes this post! I'll see you guys soon!


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