Publié le 9 Novembre 2014

Une fois n’est pas coutume, quelques livres en français (and some books in English in the second part).

Un peu par hasard, tout simplement parce que la couverture me plaisait, et parce que ce que j’ai pu lire en feuilletant les livres me plaisait bien, j’ai acheté deux livres de Gilles Legardinier, Demain j’arrête et Complètement cramé.

Demain j’arrête

« Et vous, quel est le truc le plus stupide que vous ayez jamais fait ? Comme tout le monde, Julie en a fait beaucoup. Elle pourrait raconter la fois où elle a enfilé un pull en dévalant des escaliers, celle où elle a tenté de réparer une prise électrique en tenant les fils entre ses dents, ou encore son obsession pour le nouveau voisin qu’elle n’a pourtant jamais vu – obsession qui lui a valu de se coincer la main dans sa boîte aux lettres en espionnant un mystérieux courrier… Mais tout cela n’est rien, absolument rien, à côté des choses insensées qu’elle va tenter pour approcher cet homme dont elle veut désormais percer le secret. Poussée par une inventivité débridée, à la fois intriguée et attirée par cet inconnu à côté duquel elle vit mais dont elle ignore tout, Julie va prendre des risques toujours plus délirants. »

C’est un livre très drôle, complètement délirant mais avec aussi de très beaux messages sur la vie, ce qu’on décide de faire de la sienne, et ce que l’on a à apporter aux autres. De bons fous rire et un livre que l’on a pas envie de poser avant de l’avoir fini (le genre de livre qui si vous le lisez l’été peut vous rendre associable).

Complètement cramé

« Arrivé à un âge où presque tous ceux qu’il aimait sont loin ou disparus, Andrew Blake n’a même plus le cœur à orchestrer ses blagues légendaires avec son vieux complice, Richard. Sur un coup de tête, il décide de quitter la direction de sa petite entreprise anglaise pour se faire engager comme majordome en France, pays où il avait rencontré sa femme. Là-bas, personne ne sait qui il est vraiment, et cela lui va très bien.

Mais en débarquant au domaine de Beauvillier, rien ne se passe comme prévu… Entre Nathalie, sa patronne veuve aux étranges emplois du temps ; Odile, la cuisinière et son caractère aussi explosif que ses petits secrets ; Manon, jeune femme de ménage perdue ; Philippe, le régisseur bien frappé qui vit au fond du parc, et même l’impressionnant Méphisto, Andrew ne va plus avoir le choix. Lui qui croyait sa vie derrière lui va être obligé de tout recommencer… »

J’ai encore plus aimé celui-ci. Le personnage d’Andrew est très touchant, très sympathique. Les situations sont moins farfelues que dans ‘Demain j’arrête’ et plus touchantes. Là aussi c’est le genre de livre que l’on a pas envie de poser avant de l’avoir terminé.

And now for the books in English

Because I knew I would have to spend quite some time without internet access, I had loaded my kobo with some nice ‘girly’ books by Cecelia Ahern.

The book of tomorrow

« Tamara Goodwin has always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. Until a travelling library arrives in her tiny village, bringing with it a mysterious, large leather-bound book locked with a gold clasp and padlock.

What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her work to its core. »

What I really like with Cecelia Ahern’s books is the touch of magic she weaves through her story. Proper magic, like a book where the future is written. It’s a pleasure to read, it’s very touching and even if the heroin is a teenager and not an adult it’s still a book it’s easy to relate to. A real pleasure.

The gift

"If you could wish for one gift this Christmas, what would it be?

Lou Suffern wishes he could be in two places at once. His constant battle with the clock is a sensitive issue with his wife and family.

Gabe wishes he was somewhere warm. When Lou invites Gabe, a homeless man who sits outside his office, into the building and into his life, Lou’s world is changed beyond all measure…

An enchanting and thoughtful Christmas story that speaks to all of us about the value of time and what is truly important in life."

This one is a bit particular. It has magic too, but it’s very sad. It’s a good book in the run up for christmas but be prepared to feel a bit teary and to suddenly want to hug all your loved ones every day for a week or so.

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Rédigé par Faoileàn

Publié dans #Bouquins

Publié le 16 Septembre 2014

The story

Thomas Cromwell. You could sum up the story of these two books (a third one is planned) by saying that it is a romanced version of Thomas Cromwell’s life. It would be true if a bit dry.

Wolf Hall shows how Cromwell rose from being a nobody to being Wolsey’s right hand and managing to keep his career on track after Wolsey’s death. Bring up the bodies follows with his rise to power under Anne Boleyn and his role in her fall and in the rise of Jane Seymour. Logically the third book will be about his fall following the Anne of Clèves debacle.

Review

I love history, so there was a big chance I’d love this book, and I did. I loved the style which isn’t easy but is rewarding. I also loved the way Mantel showed the humanity of the characters. They are historical characters and we tend to see them under the cold light of history, forgetting that they were human. I don’t know if avenging Wolsey played a part in Cromwell’s complicity in the fall of Boleyn but it’s somehow a kinder explanation than thinking it was pure political opportunism. I also liked that the depiction of Thomas More was more balanced than that shown in the Tudors, because friend of Erasmus though he was, More was still a bit of a religious fanatic (which is an accusation that can be levelled at almost any thinker of the time, with the possible exception of Erasmus) and rather quick to burn people.

In a nutshell: if you liked the Tudors, then read those books!

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Publié le 12 Septembre 2014

Another case of being late to the party...but this was the summer of the great catching up.

The story

Jackson, Mississippi, early 1960s. Aibileen and Minnie are black maids in white families. Aibileen raises children while Minnie is first and foremost a cook. ‘Skeeter’ Phelan is a young girl from a well to do (and therefore white) family, friend with the employers of Aibileen and Minnie. Because of a series of incident, Skeeter starts questioning the society she lives in and the racial laws. Soon she decides to write about the experience of the maids working for white families.

Review

I really loved this book. First, although I knew about segregation, civil rights, different level of wealth etc… I had never realised that a hundred years after the end of the Civil War, black women were still routinely employed as house maids. There isn’t much difference between how they were treated in the South before the Civil War and how they were treated in the 60s, except for the fact that they were (very poorly) paid. Then the book is very well written, alternating between the point of view of the three women which makes the story very lively and near impossible to put down. The book isn’t Manichean, it does insist on the fact that some white employers were very nice to their help, out of sheer decency or because of real affection.

This is definitely a book I’d recommend. It gives you a small history lesson and a big lesson in tolerance. And it is (as often is the case) better than the film as it is more developed. I really regret that the stories Aibileen tells baby girl aren’t in the film as they show how you can try and start a revolution by teaching the children about things like tolerance and brotherhood.

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Publié le 8 Septembre 2014

Another page-turner but not for the same reasons…

The story

In a dystopian future, following some unnamed catastrophe, the world is divided into geographical zone (Europe, USA, Asia) and the growth of the population is strongly monitored. Women are put in their proper place, that of incubators. Because women are so worthless fewer and fewer are born every year until all children born are male. To ensure the survival of the human race, the powers that be decide to create women – called eves – from scratch, some sorts of clones based on the ideal physical characteristics of real women. There are 3 times as many eves as boys (naturally) born in any given year. Once the eves have completed their education, the young men they were created for get to pick which ones will be companions – wives with reproductive rights – the rest will be concubines, whose only task is to satisfy the sexual needs of the inheritents, or chastities, devoted to teaching the next generation of girls.

Review

This is a highly disturbing book. At first I didn’t like the thinly veiled references to our world (ipads, facebook and so on) but then realised that what makes this book so scary. We’re not yet at the stage described there but we’re not too far from it either. The constant obsessing about women’s bodies, the categorisation into a limited number of job/types of character etc…

It’s not Simone de Beauvoir or your classical feminist manifesto but it’s a very interesting read for any woman aged 15 and above, simply to make you take note and think things over.

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Publié le 5 Septembre 2014

Yes, I’m back. Not sure for how long, but I’m back.

Hunger Games. Another example of how late to the party I can be sometimes. I had vaguely heard of the movies, knew there were some books but it took my Dad reading them (he had seen the first 2 films and couldn’t wait for the 3rd one to come out to know how it was going to end) for me to finally do something about it. So I bought them on my new kobo (new favourite gadget). And read them in about 5 days. I wasn’t yet on holidays at this time so that’s why it took me so long to finish them. Otherwise they would have been read in 3 days. They are slightly addictive. Only slightly so….

The story

In a dystopian future, some 75 years before the start of the stories, thirteen districts attempted a revolt against the central power, the Capitol. The revolt was crushed and one district obliterated. To make sure people did not forget the outcome of the revolt, the Capitol decided to organise every year ‘Hunger Games’ where one girl and one boy from each of the twelve remaining districts would fight to the death, live on tv.

The books follow the adventures of Katniss and Peeta, the two tributes from district 12 and how their actions end up menacing the regime.

Review

As mentioned above, the books are real page-turners, you simply can’t stop reading them. They’re well-written language-wise but it’s true that sometimes the constant flow of thoughts from Katniss’s mind is a bit annoying. That’s the only thing I have against them, it’s that they’re told from Katniss’s point of view and sometimes you wish she was a bit less self-centred.

The characters are likeable, they’re far from being perfect which is nice. Some could be a bit more developed, but these are the limitations you deal with when you chose one character as your narrator. It’s quite common in teen fiction, so I can hardly complain.

It took me a couple of days to realise what the tributes plotline reminded me of, until I woke up one day almost shouting “Theseus!”. I think the whole “tributes fighting in an arena to commemorate a defeat” is probably inspired by the “tributes sent to a maze to be killed to commemorate a defeat” found in the Theseus and the Minotaur myth. There are probably other references which I didn’t see but this give the books a certain feeling of familiarity which is reassuring.

All in all, I think they are very good books, very entertaining and that they make good reading for teenagers and adults alike.

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Publié le 18 Juin 2014

Dernier spectacle de la saison au Châtelet pour moi, après la très agréable surprise que fut Into the Woods.

Le roi et moi est une œuvre que je connais peu, mais qui reste associée à Yul Brynner dans mon esprit et la façon animale qu’il a de regarder Deborah Kerr pour Shall we dance ? C’était donc l’occasion de voir cette œuvre sur scène, et je ne le regrette absolument pas. Coupe du monde de foot oblige, la salle n’était pas remplie et je pense qu’il doit rester des places pour les prochaines représentations, donc si vous êtes à Paris, n’hésitez pas !

Ce qu’en dit le Châtelet

Ici

Basé sur l’histoire d’Anna Leonowens, qui a réellement existé, le roman Anna and the King of Siam de Margaret Landon obtient un immense succès à sa sortie en 1944.

L’œuvre relate l’arrivée à la cour de Siam de cette jeune préceptrice galloise (accompagnée de son fils) qui doit enseigner l’anglais à la nombreuse progéniture que le roi a eue avec différentes femmes. La forte personnalité du souverain heurte la jeune femme, qui tentera de l’apprivoiser tout en essayant de faciliter les amours de l’une des jeunes favorites du roi avec l’élu de son cœur. Après avoir acquis les droits du roman, l’actrice anglaise Gertrude Lawrence créa le rôle d’Anna à la scène en 1951. Le Roi était incarné par l’inoubliable Yul Brynner, qui devait immortaliser plus tard le rôle aux côtés de Deborah Kerr dans le film de Walter Lang (1956). Avec cette cinquième collaboration, Rodgers et Hammerstein signaient l’une de leurs meilleures comédies musicales, qui recèle quelques pépites comme « Something Wonderful » ou « Hello Young Lovers ».

Nouvelle production - En anglais, surtitré.

Durée : environ 3h15 avec entracte Presented through special arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe

Ce qu’en j’en ai pensé

Disons le de suite, j’ai beaucoup aimé. Les décors étaient superbes et tous les artistes chantaient très bien. Je ne savais pas que Lambert Wilson chantait et j’ai été agréablement surprise par son interprétation de ‘A puzzlement’.

Néanmoins j’ai parfois eu un léger goût amer dans la bouche. Déjà parce que le livret a très mal vieilli et que l’histoire fleure bon le colonialisme (pour montrer qu’ils ne sont pas ‘barbares’, les siamois doivent se comporter comme des européens). Ensuite à cause de Lambert Wilson.

Dans le programme, Wilson dénonce la performance de Brynner comme étant kitch, et indique qu’il voulait faire quelque chose de différent, pour montrer la profondeur du personnage du roi. Je suis assez d’accord sur son analyse, le roi interprété par Brynner a parfois un côté clown qui est assez dérangeant. Mais malheureusement, je n’ai rien vu de différent dans l’interprétation de Wilson, si ce n’est son insistance sur l’utilisation d’un accent très fort, et d’une élocution assez cassée. Il faut dire que le personnage du roi tel qu’écrit dans le livret ne lui laissait pas beaucoup de marge de manœuvre non plus. J’ai donc parfois eu l’impression de voir un Européen, blanc, s’amuser à prétendre être un barbare asiatique, et à parler dans un anglais approximatif avec un faux accent. Et au final, Brynner semble plus authentique, parce qu’il ne cherche pas à faire l’étranger et se contente d’être lui-même (il ne force pas l’accent par exemple).

Plus que la faute de Wilson, je pense qu’il s’agit d’une faute du metteur en scène qui n’aurait pas dû choisir un Européen pour le rôle du roi.

Cette impression désagréable n’a pas été dissipée par les ricanements du public lors du ballet sur la case de l’oncle Tom. Je trouve que c’est un des moments les plus touchants de la comédie musicale et aussi une démonstration de l’universalité de certains thèmes comme la liberté, mais apparemment une partie du public a trouvé les danses thaïlandaises drôles…

Malgré ces quelques bémols, j’ai vraiment apprécié la mise en scène et c’est un spectacle que je recommande chaudement.

Et pour finir, Shall we dance avec Yul Brynner et Deborah Kerr

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Publié le 8 Juin 2014

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately, but life’s a bit complicated and is showing no sign of becoming less so. Still, there are a few beauty bits I’ve been using in the past few months which I think deserve a post. No picture though, as I haven’t had the time.

Taking off my make-up: the Body Shop Camomile range

This range has been out for some months (ok, quite a few months), and I’ve been using the cleansing oil and the cleansing butter to remove my make-up.

Of the two, I prefer the butter. I think that because of the difference of texture you tend to let it penetrates more in the skin and it is therefore more effective to remove make-up.

Both do a great job on my mascara and I haven’t had mascara traces on my pillowcase since I’ve started using them. None of the make-up removers I used before ever managed that.

Both work the same way: put a bit in your hand, rub it on your face, add a bit of water and remove everything with a muslin clothe.

Cleansing butter: 14€ (French price) for 90mL, which lasts a good 4 months

Cleansing oil: 15€ (idem) for 200mL, can’t say how long it lasts as I use it only at weekends.

One of latest addition to the Vitamin E range: the serum

If I had been quicker, I could have said it was the latest addition to the range, but they’ve added a new day cream (which I’ve starting using today as it seems lighter than my winter Nuxe rêve de miel one). This is the ‘serum-in-oil’ which you have to use under your night cream.

Let’s be honest, I can’t say I have seen a major improvement in my skin as I don’t have particularly dry skin and the simple fact of using a night cream, no matter how light, is enough for me. But it is nice, absolutely not greasy and a little goes a long way. I’d recommend it for anyone with dry skin who feels that their night cream is not enough.

Serum-in-oil: 24€ (French price) for 28mL, I have been using for 2 months, it’s not showing any sign of running out, so I’d say it should last 4 to 5 months no problem.

Now, let’s talk make-up: the Bourjois shop is a place of perdition

Bourjois had the wonderful idea to open a shop in the Passage du Havre close to St Lazare in Paris, i.e. somewhere that I have to pass in front of anytime I go to Paris. And they often have lovely offers. Buy 3 get the 4th one free, buy 2 polishes get a third for free etc…. Place of perdition I tell you?

Anyway, my latest interesting purchases (beside some colours from the 1s polish range) are lippies and mascara.

1 second mascara: my ‘they’re real’ is stating to get dry so I figured out it was the right time to try a new one. Oh, and Monoprix (another place of perdition for singleton, especially women. They sell wine by the glass. And good wine it is too) and 20% off this mascara, so I really had no excuse.

I don’t ask too much of a mascara. I’m not asking for extra-long eyelashes, extra volume or any of the rubbish you see in ads. No, all I want is something that doesn’t end up in my eyes at the end of the day – especially during pollen season – and which gives a bit of volume to my lashes, but not much. Something like ‘natural only slightly improved and darker’.

This one is the business. It lasts all day (I haven’t tried the waterproof version yet but have great hopes), looks nice but not fake, it gives just the right amount of volume.

Price: 14,35€ (RRP in France)

Rouge Edition lipsticks: this was quite a pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect a lipstick that costs less than 15€ to last more than an hour. And I absolutely didn’t expect it to last through 2 cups of tea/coffee. But this one does. It last about 4 hours, maybe 3 if you drink a lot of tea/coffee (don’t look this way, I’m only on 2L a day). There’s a wide range of colours. N° 13 Rouge jet set is a bright red, just the sort I like to cheer me up, N°14 Pretty prune is a deep burgundy and N°05 Brun bohème is almost a nude on me, reminding me of Nars’ Casablanca.

Price: 11,95€ (RRP in France)

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Publié le 6 Mai 2014

Quand arrive le temps des élections – quelle que soit l’élection – deux choses m’agacent. La première c’est l’abstention. C’est bête, c’est sentimental, mais que voulez-vous, j’estime que puisque des gens dans le monde sont prêts à mourir pour obtenir le droit de voter dans des élections libres, la moindre des choses que nous pouvons faire, nous autres européens privilégiés vivant dans des démocraties, c’est d’utiliser ce droit de vote qui nous est acquis. D’autant plus que voter c’est obtenir le droit de se plaindre après. Parce que critiquer la politique d’un gouvernement alors que l’on ne s’est même pas donner la peine d’aller voter c’est absurde et hypocrite.

La seconde chose qui m’agace c’est le vote de protestation. Le principe de voter pour un parti que l’on ne soutient pas, dont les idées ne sont pas forcément les nôtres, juste pour énerver le gouvernement en place. Et le vote de protestation aux Européennes est celui qui m’énerve le plus. Pour une raison très simple : la majorité des gouvernements n’en tient pas compte, utilisant l’excuse du « c’est une élection avec des enjeux européens, cela ne concerne pas ma politique » et bien souvent le seul résultat est que débarquent au Parlement des députés qui ne siègent que le nombre de fois minimum pour obtenir leurs indemnités, ne travaillent pas en commission et en gros ne servent à rien, et surtout pas à représenter leurs électeurs. Dans le genre gâchis des deniers des contribuables, cela se pose là.

Donc voilà, je me moque de savoir pour qui vous allez voter, mais essayer au moins de voter pour un parti dont les idées sont les vôtres.

 

Et c’est dans cette idée que j’ai essayé de réunir une liste de sites utiles pour comprendre les enjeux de ces élections. Aucun de ces liens ne renvoie vers un parti politique et les sites pro-européens sont clairement indiqués comme tel.

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Election time… I have two pet hates when it comes to elections. The first one is the abstention. Call me a sentimental fool, but people have died (and are still dying in some countries) to get the right to vote in free elections. I believe the least we can do, since we are privileged enough to be able to enjoy this right freely, is to use it. Besides, how can you criticise a policy if you didn’t even turn out to vote?

My second pet hate is the protest vote. You know the kind, voting for a party you don’t necessarily like or whose ideas are not yours, just to annoy your government. And when this protest vote takes place during the European elections, it annoys me even more. Why? Because most governments will ignore it anyway, using the old “it’s an election about Europe not about my policy” excuse, which means that as far as protests go, it’s pretty useless. And then because the end result is usually to send to the EU Parliament a bunch of MEPs who will only come to the plenary sessions the required minimum of times to get their full allowance, who won’t work in the committees and who are not going to represent the interests of anyone, especially not of those who voted them in. This is a complete was of taxpayers’ money.

So please, go and vote, but vote for a party whose ideas you believe in.

 

This is why I’ve drawn up a short list of websites that can be useful to understand these European elections and their importance. No link is to a political party, and all pro-EU websites are clearly indicated as such.

 

Fact checking

 

Des chiffres, rien que des chiffres / Plain data

 

https://factcheckeu.org/

Ce site Internet fait du fact checking. Un homme politique avance un chiffre concernant l’Europe ? Les petites mains derrière le site cherchent la source et note le degré de véracité. Parfois c’est intéressant, parfois ça l’est moins, cela dépend du sujet traité.

 

As the name indicates, this is a fact checking website. When a politician uses a figure about Europe, the team behind the website tries to assess its veracity. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes not, it depends on the topic.

 

Que fait votre député ? / What is your MEP doing

http://www.votewatch.eu/

 

Un de mes sites favoris (oui, j’ai une vie passionnante), votewatch recense l’activité parlementaire de chaque député. Idéal pour savoir si le député pour lequel vous envisagez de voter respecte les consignes de son parti / vote selon des critères nationaux etc… Pour les élections, ils ont même un petit gadget vous permettant de faire correspondre vos idées à un député.

 

One of my favorite website. Votewatch compiles all the data regarding the parliamentary activity of every MEP. It is the best tool available to know how your MEP is voting on each topic, whether he/she follows the party’s rules or vote according to his country of origin etc… For the elections, they have a nice little gadget allowing you to match your ideas to a MEP.

 

Blog

 

En français uniquement : les coulisses de Bruxelles

http://bruxelles.blogs.liberation.fr/

 

Quatremer est un oiseau rare dans le paysage journalistique français. C’est à mon sens le seul journaliste qui comprennent réellement comment fonctionne l’UE (faut dire qu’il est correspondant Europe depuis 1990) et qui soit capable d’en parler tous les jours ou presque. Il est pro-européen, mais pas euro-béat non plus.

Site partisan pro-europeéen.

 

 

Think tanks / groupes de réflexion

 

Fondation Schuman

http://www.robert-schuman.eu/

A French think tank, pro-European but with good analysis papers.

Un groupe de réflexion français, pro-européen produisant de bon articles de fond

Site pro-europeén

Pro-EU website

 

Bruegel

http://www.bruegel.org/

An English-speaking think tank, dealing mainly with economics. Liberal and with a good reputation for respectability.

Rather pro-European (but liberal)

 

 

Sites d’information / News

 

Les sites suivants sont des sites d’information sur l’UE. Certains sont relativement pro-UE (Toute l’Europe par exemple), mais ce sont surtout des sites qui concentrent en un seul endroit toute l’information habituellement disséminée sur les sites institutionnels ou dans la presse, tout en y ajoutant des enquêtes et des analyses.

 

The following links are news websites on EU affairs. Some are rather pro-EU (Toute l’Europe), but most importantly they are websites which gather in one place data and information coming from institutional sources or other newspapers, adding their analysis or investigation.

 

 

En français uniquement : http://www.touteleurope.eu/

French but with English and German versions : http://www.euractiv.fr/

In English only : http://www.europeanvoice.com/

 

 

Et pour finir… / Last but not least…

 

Le site officiel/ The official website

http://www.elections2014.eu/

Site pro-europeén

Pro-EU website

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Bon vote!

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Publié le 4 Mai 2014

Yes I know. Children’s books. So what ? That’s what they say about Harry Potter too !

The first time I heard about Percy Jackson was when the first movie came out. “You should watch it, it’s really good” said my best friend. And he was right (an annoying habit of his). A few weeks ago I saw the second one and remembered that the films were based on books. So I bought the books. All 5 of them. And read them in…oh…5 days? And then discovered that there was another series (Heroes of Olympus). So I read them. Except that the 5th one isn’t published yet. So now I have to wait till October… I hate when this happens.

The story

Percy Jackson is a 12-year old boy with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who gets expelled from a lot of schools because strange things happen to him. This is because Percy is a demi-god, the child of a god – Poseidon – and a mortal. To protect him and because of the threat of a rather unpleasant prophecy that hangs above his head, he is taken to Camp Half-Blood to meet the other demi-gods and train with them.

Why do I love these books? Well, first of all, I think they’re well written. The first series is written from Percy’s point of view, at the first person. Heroes of Olympus is written from different characters’ points of view and the first person is abandoned which I sort of regret (but can live with).

Then, they are a modern take on the old Greek myths. As a child, I was fascinated by the Greek myths. At the age of 10 I had already read the Iliad and the Odyssey. I knew all about Greek myths. At 12 I was even telling the story of the Atreidai to my baby cousin (what d’you mean not appropriate?). So of course, books based on all these myths are exactly my cup of tea. I also think that they are very good to teach children Greek mythology if they haven’t read anything about it yet. The second series is very good in that respect too because it explores the differences between the Roman and the Greek versions of the gods, in a very clever way.

And finally, the characters, and more especially the girls. I don’t remember reading teenage fiction as a teenager. I’m not even sure such a thing existed, but in any case I was into the classics (Dumas, obviously, some Pushkin, Molière). The problem with the classics is that you don’t find many female role models (Jo March excepted, but even her is questionable). I never grew up thinking I wanted to be like Queen Margot. Nowadays it looks like there are more teenage fictions than in my time, but I’m not sure there really are a lot of role models for girls. We’re talking about a world where Twillight is a hit… Anyway, there is Hermione in Harry Potter, and Ginny to a certain extent, but that’s all. And these are books written by a woman, so it’s not even as if the author didn’t realise the need to give young girls role models. No such problem in the Percy Jackson’s books.

In the first series we get Annabeth (rather similar to Hermione but more fun to have around. And she’s deadly with a blade), Thalia (daughter of Zeus, fights with her own aegis. And she’s a punk), Clarisse (daughter of Ares, how awesome is that?), the hunters of Artemis, Bianca and finally Silena (very brave even if she’s a daughter of Aphrodite).

In Heroes of Olympus, there is Piper (another daughter of Aphrodite but with a brain and who learns to fight) and Hazel (fights, uses magic etc…). All have brains, are brave and do not need the boys to rescue them. Hermione is nothing compared to any of these girls. So a big thank you to Rick Riordan for having created so many great teenage girls in his books.

So yes, these are books for teenagers. But I don’t care because they are great books. If you love Greek mythology, enjoyed Harry Potter and want some escapism, go on, grab The lightning thief and I’m sure you’ll be reading The House of Hades before long.

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