domingo, 13 de septiembre de 2015

Currently | Getting into the fall spirit

shamelessly stole got this idea from Kim, who blogs at Sophisticated Dorkiness. She reviews the most amazing books, so go read her blog!

The weather is chilling - mornings are particularly crisp. Leaves are turning to brown. Things at work are slowly going back to normal. Everyone is back from their summer holidays, but the stress levels are low for the time being. I have a couple of big business trips in the near future, though, so I'm having the laziest weekend I can because it's probably one of the last ones I get to spend at home until end of October / November. My SO is out of town, so I've been lounging and reading on the couch most of the time and it's been great.

miércoles, 9 de septiembre de 2015

Bailén - Benito Pérez Galdós

Here I am once again, blogging about my reading project: going through the 46 National Episodes written by Benito Pérez Galdós, which are an account of 19th-century Spanish history. In spite of their relevance in Spanish Literature and how riveting and well-written they are, they haven't been translated into English.

In Bailén, Gabriel de Araceli is miraculously recovering from the grave wounds received by the firing squad during the aftermath of the Dos de Mayo Uprising. Taken for dead, he has been parted from his dear Inés, who has flown to Andalusia and joined a convent. Gabriel, penniless and desperate, joins the insurgent Spanish Army of Andalusia led by Generals Francisco Castaños and Theodor von Reding. Once more, he finds himself part of a historic occasion: the first defeat of the Napoleonic Army in the Battle of Bailén.

I'm going to keep this review very short, because I don't have many things to say about this. It was a bit of a letdown. It is well written and fast paced, and ends up in a cliffhanger that had me wishing I had the next book near to start reading it immediately. But (you know a but was coming) it was a bit flat.

Inés has been legitimized by her family, and her new social status forces her to marry someone from a noble house. As a result, Gabriel is no longer a proper suitor. This is the main crux of the story, and it makes for a quick read, but not a very interesting one. Gabriel has taken to heart his role as a white knight and is determined to become worthy of Inés. Unfortunately, Inés has been definitely relegated to object, so we don't get a glimpse of what she thinks of her newfound family or how she feels about the turmoil that her personal life has become. I do feel sorry for them, but I wish the characters were more real (and thus more easy to feel attached to them) since the story relies fully on them.

At the same time, they are merely an excuse to show historical events. In the previous three books, Galdós shines at describing this. He shows why they happened and the consequences they had. He didn't shy away from showing the horrors of war. Yet in Bailén he faced a conundrum: he must show a battle in good light. Why was this independence from France better? Spaniards are portrayed as brutish and uneducated, but noble and with good heart. He has been showing why French enlightment would be good for Spain, but here shows that Frenchmen are also savages. So the violent Spanish insurgence is worthy of appraisal. As a result, the Battle of Bailén is just described, but not reflected upon. The images are as vivid as always, and I would swap any history textbooks for these novels, but the pithy thoughts from other novels are absent in this one. And so it fells flat.

lunes, 7 de septiembre de 2015

RIP X | Movie: The Day of the Beast (1995)

Genre: Black comedy & Horror
Release date: 1995
Running time: 103 minutes
Country: Spain

A Basque priest (Álex Angulo) finds by means of a cabalistic study of the Bible that the Antichrist is going to be born on Christmas Day in Madrid. Assisted by a death metal salesman from Carabanchel (Santiago Segura) and the host of a TV show on the occult (Armando de Razza), he will try to summon the Devil to find and kill the baby.

The Day of the Beast is a cult classic in Spain, and it was the film that launched the career of Álex de la Iglesia, a director who has been likened to Guillermo del Toro. Both directors specialize in dark movies with humorous undercurrents where the supernatural and the mundane mix seamlessly.

I was very eager to watch this film because of its premise and its acclaim. In theory, it had every element to appeal to me, but it left me a bit cold. The story is clunkily told and the pace doesn't always suit the general storyline. Considering this was only the second film Álex de la Iglesia directed, those flaws can be forgiven. There was also too much absurd gore and kitsch for my taste, though I realize that it was the intended aesthetics, but I would have liked it better if it didn't resemble a B movie so much. I'm not such a fan of B movies, after all. 

My favorite aspect is the confusing ending, which makes you go back and realize that maybe the priest isn't such a reliable character after all. I don't want to give away too much, but the ends makes you question whether there were any paranormal shenanigans at all. The real horror has a very different source, and it ends up working better as a scathing social critique of Madrid in the 90s.

Verdict: entertaining, but I was expecting something different.

I am participating in R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X, and this counts for Peril on the Screen, as it is both horror and supernatural.

domingo, 6 de septiembre de 2015

Currently | Enjoying the Late Summer

shamelessly stole got this idea from Kim, who blogs at Sophisticated Dorkiness. She reviews the most amazing books, so go read her blog!

New bookstore in town · A game of Sherlock: Consulting Detective
September Book Photo Challenge · Hydrangea with bumblebee

It seems I'm getting over my stomach bug, whatever it was. Yay! I'm easing into routine - went back to work, started baking again and having more quiet evenings. I know this year I'm going to have to travel a lot, and I want to enjoy the time I have at home.

martes, 1 de septiembre de 2015

August in Review

August has passed in a blink, and it has been such a pleasant month. I've been to Madeira - it was truly gorgeous!

What did I read?
I started really reading again last month, and I'm still running with momentum. I'm so happy I can read again! Here's what I read this month:

Chew: Taster's Choice · Bailén · Daredevil: Guardian Devil · The Lightning Thief
Not pictured: O Último Cais · Chew: International Flavor
Lots of comics, and the three of them have been so great! I devoured (he) the two first volumes of Chew, which is crazy good. And for the fans of Kevin Smith (or Daredevil): you can't miss The Guardian Devil. It is a fantastic introduction to Daredevil which examines his troubled history with women and it's very honest and raw about it. It was a relief.

I also read my first Percy Jackson book! It was a very entertaining read, though I recognize it's written for a younger public.

But not everything was good reading-wise. Or, it was, I don't know. I finally got the courage to DNF The Innocents Abroad, which was boring me to tears. It took me half the book to do so, and it's not a slim book.

On the blog...

Goals for September
I did quite well regarding my August goals: I read O Último Cais, set in Madeira, am 75% into The Collected Stories of Conrad Aiken, and have started The Secret History. Unfortunately, I got a serious stomach bug midway through August and resorted to reading comfort books. I didn't feel like making an effort with The Secret History, and I'm not proud (sorry Fariba!). While I'm still suffering that persistent stomach bug, I hope to finish reading it this month. So goals:
  1. Finish The Secret History and The Collected Stories of Conrad Aiken.
  2. Read something for RIP X. Suggestions?
  3. Read something #Diversiverse. Once again, suggestions?