This sounds intriguing:

Eight talented candidates have reached the final stage of selection to join the ranks of a mysterious and powerful corporation. Entering a windowless room, an Invigilator gives them eighty minutes to answer one simple question. He outlines three rules they must obey or be disqualified: don’t talk to him or the armed guard by the door, don’t spoil their papers and don’t leave the room. He starts the clock and leaves. The candidates turn over their question papers, only to find they’re completely blank.

Exam debuted a couple months ago at the Edinburgh Film Festival, with a release date in the UK for January 8th 2010, and it looks pretty interesting. The trailer is pretty cool, but again gives away more than I feel comfortable with. Do we really have to see that much of movie? I suggest watching it halfway to three quarters. The final bits seem to spoil too much:

So what did you think? Did you watch it to the end? Too spoilery or not?

Ages ago back in March 2008 I wrote a blog post about how I was a comic book newbie, and needed some help in figuring out where to start. Then last week it hit me. I was never a newbie. Not at all. I don’t even know how I could have overlooked it, but I grew up with comic books. Lots of them, in fact. Just not the typical US/UK type comic books, which is why I kind of “forgot” and regarded myself a comic book newbie (weird how your mind works sometimes, but in my mind these ‘comics’ I used to read, just didn’t register as comics).

The comic books I grew up with were mainly European ones. My mum collected all types of comic books since she was a kid, but when she “grew up” got rid of most of her collection (like 90% of them, I believe), keeping only a fraction of the huge collection she used to own. I called her last night to ask again what comics she used to have and it was even more than I initially had thought. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, and more, she bought all of them when they were first published in the Netherlands (so all in Dutch, of course). Then also the French and Belgium comics, like Michel Valiant, Tintin, and stuff that I had never even heard of before.

Her collection must have been massive (she got rid of a part of them when she was sixteen, getting rid of the ‘childish’ ones. Then later when she was about my age it got trimmed again. And then once more when she moved to Australia with my dad) and I’m a bit sad I never got to experience her full collection, I truly wish I had. I grew up with about 200 of her comics, and, like I said before, that was only a tiny bit of what she once used to own.

So, yeah, I’m not really a comic book newbie. Not really. I am when it comes to the US/UK ones, the ones that most people here will be familiar with. But I’ve actually been reading comic books for ages, and stupidly enough it took me until last week to really realize that.

Here’s a short list of my favourite comic books that I devoured as a kid/teenager, and I have a feeling most of them may be unfamiliar to you.

1. Yoko Tsuno

Yoko Tsuno is a Belgian series (written in French) which started in 1970 of which there are 24 volumes in total (with a 25th one on the way). I love this series, and have read all of them, except for the latest volume. The series tell the story of Yoko Tsuno, an electrical engineer, who was raised in Japan now living in Belgium. How cool is that, right? A main female character who’s an electrical engineer!

Yoko Tsuno 1 Yoko Tsuno 2

The stories were a great mix of sci-fi and fantasy, featuring things like outer space, time travel and robot dragons. There was a whole storyline devoted to the Vineans, a blue skinned alien race that have come to Earth in the distant past due to catastrophic changes to their own planet.

So far there have been four volumes translated into English (although not in the same order as originally written, which is weird) and I highly recommend them if you want to try out something new: On the Edge of Life, The Time Spiral, The Prey and the Ghost, and Daughter of the Wind (Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository).

Yoko Tsuno 3 Yoko Tsuno 4

2. Franka

Franka is a Dutch comic books series that also started in the 1970s by the graphic artist Henk Kuijpers. The lead character is Franka, a young adventurous private investigator from Amsterdam. The cases she solves often take place in the worlds of art, antiquities, fashion and film, and also often feature exotic locales full of smugglers, pirates and other shady businessmen.

Franka-8 Franka-11

The latest volume came out last year, and I think they’re still continuing with it. In total there are 20 volumes, with one being published every 1-2 years. I love the drawing style in this; some of the ‘sets’ and clothes are gorgeous. I’ve had a look to see if there are English translations, but I couldn’t find any; it has, however, been translated in German, Spanish and French.

Franka-13 Franka-20

3. Suske en Wiske

Suske en Wiske might be the most well-known one on this list, being translated into English under different names: Spike and Suzy (UK), Willy and Wanda (US) and Bob and Bobette (Australia). This series started in 1946, and as of today there are over 300 titles. From what I understood from my mum she started collecting these from an early age and had over a 100 of them, including some of the rare early editions. She got rid of all of them.

Suske en Wiske 195 Suske en Wiske 170 Suske en Wiske 155

When I turned 8, a week before moving to the Netherlands from Australia, I got 2 English translations of Suske and Wiske for my birthday. Ever since then my family started collecting Suske and Wiskes again, and I think our collection is almost complete again.

The series is about the adventures of two kids Suske and Wiske, and their friends Aunt Sidonia, Lambik and Jerom. The stories combine elements of comedy, fantasy and science fiction, like talking animals, time travel and ghosts. It wasn’t my favourite series, but it was the one we had the most of just because it was so popular (300 volumes in 50 years, in comparison to the above 2 series, which each only had 20-30 in 30 years).

Suske en Wiske 164 Suske en Wiske 225 Suske en Wiske 239

4. Rik Ringers (Ric Hochet)

This one I’ve only read in Dutch, and it was only now that I discovered the terrible pun of the French name of this. Ric Hochet is a French detective comic book series about the reporter Rik Hochet. It started in 1955 and currently has 75 albums. I think I made it to album 50 or so, up until the point where my mum stopped collecting. Unlike the other series I don’t remember much of the actual story lines, just that I did read these more than once.

richochet 23 richochet 7 richochet 5

5. Natasja (Natacha)

Natasja is another French-Belgium comic from the 1970s. It tells the adventures of a young sexy air hostess and her colleague and on-again off-again boyfriend Walter. Again I don’t remember that much of this series, just that I did read it a lot.

natasja08 natasja05 natasja10

So that’s it; those are the 5 main comics I grew up with. There are a couple more, like Michel Valiant and Barbara, but the above 5 are the ones I remember reading and re-reading and re-reading. Looking at the covers above makes me want to read them all again. I know what I’ll be doing during my Christmas holiday!

Which comic books did you grow up with? What were the ones you read over and over again?

Last Friday I came across this pretty red dress at Dorothy Perkins. I’ve never actually shopped much at Dorothy Perkins before, but I saw this dress in the window and knew I just had to try it on. Of course: they didn’t have my size. They had the same dress though in cream and grey, and I managed to try a cream one in my size on. Pwetty! But I wanted it in red.

Red-Ponte-Dress

On Saturday I was staying cozy inside with my pyjamas on, while Cristiano went out in the rain to do some shopping. An hour I get a phone call that he’s found my red dress in my size and whether or not he should get it for me? Yes, yes, yes (I have the sweetest boyfriend).

The dress fits great and I’m even thinking of getting the cream one too. The belt isn’t the prettiest, but that’s easily fixed (although I don’t own that many belts, so will have to do some shopping for that). Btw, I (and a lot of other people on Google) had no idea what a ‘Ponte Dress’ is. I finally figured it out: it’s a certain way fabric is knitted that makes it firm yet a little stretchy.

The Red Belted Ponte Dress is available at Dorothy Perkins for £32.

Interesting links for November 17th through November 29th:

Just a quick post to let you know that Threadless is holding a holiday sale today! All tees are only $9!

Here are my current favourites (but they’ve got loads more on their website):

I Be Au Sm:

I-Be-Au-Sm

Fringe:

Fringe

Alien Autopsy:

Alien-Autopsy

Check out more cool tees for only $9 on the Threadless website!

And yet another bookshelf I so want to have (maybe I should start another recurring post for bookshelves, I’ve still got a whole list of pretties that I want to share with you… any name suggestions? Book Beauty? Library Lust? Shelftastic?).

Me Wantz Piniwini Bookshelf

The Piniwini design is pretty neat (take a look at the brochure if you don’t yet understand how it works), but the price tag? €51?!? For just one pin. The book space-t0-price ratio is so not worth it (although I’ve ended up now with a big lumpy cupboard, that only fits on one spot in our entire house, just because this one could fit tons of books… without realizing 3 rows of books in front of each other means I don’t actually see my pretty books).

Via swissmiss

Episode 149: “And you’re like… sweet”

This might be the best explanation of Google Wave I’ve seen so far:

Btw, I still have 16 invites to Google Wave left, so if anyone wants one just leave a comment behind here.

Nine: Famous film director Guido Contini struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother. We’ve already seen one trailer of this, now this new one features Kate Hudson a bit more. I like the look of it, but I’m not familiar at all with the musical it’s based on.  Release Date: December 2009 (UK, US limited)

Remember Me: Robert Pattinson plays Tyler, a rebellious young man in New York City who has a strained relationship with his father (Pierce Brosnan) ever since tragedy separated their family. Tyler didn’t think anyone could possibly understand what he was going through until the day he met Ally (Emilie de Ravin) through an unusual twist of fate. Ugh, Robert Pattinson. So far every movie I’ve seen with him in it, hasn’t succeeded in convincing me the guy can actually act. This trailer gives me a little bit of hope (well, hope may be the wrong word) that he can. Release Date: March 2010 (US)

Greenberg: At a crossroads in his life, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) ends up housesitting at his brother’s home in Los Angeles. There, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with his brother’s assistant Florence (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring singer. Florence and Greenberg’s encounters lead to an uncertain and wonderfully vulnerable courtship. It’s not your typical Ben Stiller movie, so curious to see how this will be received. Release Date: March 2010 (US limited)

Daybreakers: I already posted a trailer about this a while back, but a shorter TV spot has just been released. I looove the look of this, and is one of the movies I’m looking the most forward to. I still have no idea though when (and if) it will be released here in the UK. Release Date: January 2010 (US)

Season of the Witch: When two knights (Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman) return from the Crusades, they find their homeland ravaged by the Black Plague. The church blames the plague on sorcery, and orders the knights to escort an accused witch (Claire Foy) to a remote abbey , where monks will perform a ritual that they hope will put an end to the pestilence. When they arrive, the knights make a horrific discovery that pits them against a powerful and destructive force. It’s a Nicholas Cage movie, so I’m not expecting that much, but it looks like a okay popcorn flick. Release Date: March 2010 (UK, US)

The Last Station: After almost fifty years of marriage, the Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren), Leo Tolstoy’s (Christopher Plummer) devoted wife, passionate lover, muse and secretary suddenly finds her entire world turned upside down. In the name of his newly created religion, the great Russian novelist has renounced his noble title, his property and even his family in favor of poverty, vegetarianism and even celibacy. Into this minefield wanders Tolstoy’s worshipful new assistant, the young, gullible Valentin (James McAvoy). Release Date: January 2010 (US), February 2010 (UK)

I know, I know, it’s a bit overkill, but I still really like these twitter necklaces from Survival of the Hippest.

I came across them via Swiss Miss’s blog on an unrelated post about “If I could have any domain name“. One of the photos featured was this one:

If I could have any domain name, it would be...

A #fail necklace! Cool, right? Swiss Miss had a link to Survival of the Hippest underneath it, the store that sells these necklaces. Besides the hashtag necklaces they also do @username ones, and they also come in keychains, bracelet, anklets, pins, and tie clips.

Twitternecklace

I do like the idea and would love to have a necklace like #fail or even @mseckington or MissGeeky.com. I know, it is incredibly geeky, but it would be so much prettier than wearing a T-shirt with your username on it.

The necklaces start at $49.95, with optional extras like diamonds longer chains. It’s slightly too pricey for my tastes, but it would make a great geeky present for Christmas. Btw, if you want a small discount, click on the small birdy on their homepage to get $10 off your purchase.

Via swissmiss

Having learned a lesson about thwarting the gods, Imriel and royal heir Sidonie confess their affair, only to see the nation boil over in turmoil as a result. Many cannot forget the betrayals of Imriel’s mother, who plunged their country into war. According to the Queen’s decree, the only way the lovers can be together is if Imriel performs an act of faith: search the world for his infamous mother and bring her home to be executed for treason. But just as he and Sidonie prepare for another long separation, a dark, foerign force casts a shadow over Terre d’Ange. With their world suddenly turned upside down, alliances of the unlikeliest kind are made, and Imriel and Sidonie learn that the god Elua always puts hearts together apurpose.

I loved the first Kushiel trilogy from Jacqueline Carey, and was hoping her second set could live up to those ones. I’ve been disappointed in the past by second generation stories (Sara Douglass, I’m looking at you), with the beloved characters you know and love not aging well at all. This Kushiel trilogy is focused on Phedre’s adopted son Imriel, son of the traitor Melisande.

carey_mercy1

After reading the first two of this series (Kushiel’s Scion and Kushiel’s Justice), I knew I had another beloved set of books in my hands, with Imriel being a great and interesting character. But would the grand finale ever live up to it’s predecessor’s finale? One word: YES. I think I might like this series more than the first one to be honest. While I adored those books, here the focus is much more on the love story between Imriel and Sidonie, which resonated much more with me.

The book starts out pretty predictable with Imriel and Sidonie officially declaring their love for one another to the queen. Of course, the only way for them to be together is for Imriel to bring his mother to justice. I so was expecting that that was the direction the book was going, but then it did a complete 360º and does something completely unexpected. I won’t say anything more than that, cause I truly don’t want to ruin the book for you. I love how Carey’s mind works, and she’s delivered a unique story unlike anything I’ve read.

The Kushiel books are among my all-time favourites, so of course I highly recommend them to anyone. I know there’s already another sort of sequel set in the same world, but taking place 100 years later. Bring it on!

Kushiel’s Mercy is the third book in the second Kushiel trilogy from Jacqueline Carey – £6.96 on Amazon.co.uk, $7.99 on Amazon.com, £6.95 on BookDepository.co.uk (free shipping!)

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