Sailor Moon #3, by Naoko Takeuchi

23128404In this tankoubon, the Dark Kingdom is finally defeated. Of course, it’s not end of the fight for the senshis, because there wouldn’t be another 9 tankoubons to read if it were.

A new and more powerful enemy rises, Black Moon, and Mars and Mercury are abducted!! Meanwhile, a very young girl makes quite a mysterious appearance and everyone is wondering if she’s friend or foe?

Ahhhh… You gotta love Chibiusa 😀

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Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, by Umberto Eco

35183445In this authoritative, lively book, the celebrated Italian novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco presents a learned summary of medieval aesthetic ideas. Juxtaposing theology and science, poetry and mysticism, Eco explores the relationship that existed between the aesthetic theories and the artistic experience and practice of medieval culture. (from Goodreads)

I really liked this book. I’m always “afraid” before reading a non-fiction book by Eco because I always fear I won’t understand a word (I had a tough experience during my first year of college with one of his semiotics works). I was really thrilled to discover, page after page, that this book was either easier to comprehend or I’m getting better with Eco xD Everything made sense and I was actually enjoying reading about medieval philosophy. Of course I wouldn’t recommend it blindly to anyone, unless they might have an interest in the matter, but it’s a very good introductory work to the subject and great reference material.

Abbé Mouret’s transgression, by Émile Zola

182734951Serge Mouret is a very young priest working in a very ruinous church in a little village big in religious apathy. However, he’s extremely enthusiast about religion, falling into states of ecstasy that lead him into a feverish paroxysm that forced his uncle, a doctor, to take him off his work and interned him under the cares of Albine, a teenage girl living with her uncle in a nearby abandoned stately home, Le Paradou. From that point on, Serge, completely amnesic, practically has to re-learn how to normally function, with the help of Albine. The two of them live a life of idyllic bliss with many Biblical parallels (Paradou/Paradise, get it???), and over the course of a number of months, they fall deeply in love with one another. At the moment they consummate their relationship, they are discovered by Serge’s despicable and misogynist former monsignor and his memory is instantly returned to him. What comes after this isn’t good for either of them, obviously.

This was a re-reading, which was quite an interesting task. When I first read this book, it felt completely different compared to the others I read by this author before. It happens to be extremely symbolic and lyric, full of sensorial images that submerge one into what it seems to be a fantasy land. I was deeply obsessed with this book  then,  it was such a pleasure to read, such a beauty for the eyes and the imagination!

Those feelings remained in this second reading, but this time, knowing what would happen to the characters, I had a lot of fun noticing foreshadowings throughout all the book. I should reread more often.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

17616491Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack – who has already killed Bod’s family. (from Goodreads)

I “read” this as an audiobook. I started this one last year, but at some point I abandoned it, mostly because the audio chapters were too long and I wasn’t able to pay attention during an entire hour at the time. So I seize the sitting hours doing drawing and editing work for college to re-hear everything and finally finish it, in just a couple of days.

It was ok. The story is told in a series of episodes in Bod’s life, from the night of his family’s murders up to his teenage years. These episodes appear as random adventures, in and out of the graveyard, but they all come together in the last chapters and Bod’s final encounter with the man Jack, when he puts to work all what he learned through the years.

I didn’t like much how things turned in the end: what happened with Scarlett (Bod’s childhood friend), and the entire last chapter, but I can live with that.

Probably, what I liked the most, was listening to Neil Gaiman’s reading. He’s great at it. I want him to read me ALL THE BOOKS.

Edad prohibida, by Torcuato Luca de Tena

10788283English translation: Forbidden age

Published in 1955, this is a coming-of-age story setted in Spain during and after the Civil War. Anastasio’s father was killed during the war, so his mother sent him to live with his aunt and uncle in San Sebastián. There, at the beach, he meets Enrique and his friends. Enrique is everything that Anastasio isn’t: extroverted and overbold, so Anastasio feels lured to him as a moth to the light. He eventually finds his way into the gang and, unexpectedly and unwillingly he turned into Enrique’s rival in the crusade for Celia’s affection.

The book comes and goes from “the past”, these episodes from the adolescent and youth times, to “the present” in which we find Enrique in jail (not a spoiler, here is where the book begins) for reasons unknown to us, and Anastasio taking the direction of this prison. Enrique is reluctant to meet Anastasio again, so, along the book, we learn what happened to them and how they arrived to this present situation.

I loved this book, it’s such a beautiful reading, and a great example of its genre, all these episodes of growing up, and how what we do and the decisions we make in our youth still have reminiscences and consequences in our adult life. I’m not sure if this book was ever translated into other language, but, if not, could be a great excuse to learn Spanish and READ IT.

Sailor Moon #2, by Naoko Takeuchi

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SM#1 was mostly about introducing the senshis and getting to know their enemies. In this new tankoubon things are getting harder. Sailor Venus makes quite an appearance and we get to know Minako. The senshis finally wake-up fully and we learned what happened to the Moon Kingdom and who is Princess Serenity. Serenity and Endymion are finally reunited, just to be separated again, and the silver crystal is found at last! Sadly, the Dark Kingdom is gaining too much power and took Endymion as prisoner. Can’t wait for the next book!

Burial Rites, by Hanna Kent

17333319Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

How can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others? (from Goodreads)

I love when is noticeable in a book the thorough investigation behind it. The story, although fictionalized, it’s based on true events, and is partially told by Agnes and by an omniscient narrator, who takes charge when is ought to describe the other characters’ thoughts and feelings.   

The author describes beautifully the harsh living conditions in northern Iceland, and the typical activities of the farming families. Considering that the story is setted around 1830 I was astonished by the abysmal differences to what I know was any large european city by the same time. Seems like centuries away, and it really immerses the reader into what was life like in such isolated and distant region.

I fought the urge to google about Agnes’ story while reading the book, but I’m glad I didn’t and I didn’t spoiled myself the ending. Agnes’ life was tragic and heartbreaking in any way, and if there’s something you can expect from this book is that it won’t sugarcoat a bit of it. And even when you know it’s fictionalized, it feels as real as oneself.