Thank you...and goodbye

Hello everyone,

When I first decided to open a blog I didn�t have any idea on how to do that or the outcome. I only knew I wanted to try. I was never that good at writing weekly or daily even. Life was always throwing something at me making me more and more busy, and tired. Still, blogging was a pleasure, until a few weeks ago. Just to cut a long story short...I have received a number of insults.

Point is...if you don�t like my blog: don�t read it. If you don�t like me...ignore me. But if you come here...do it with honesty and respect. I don�t need your fancy words and I do appreciate comments, especially from those who take time to point out mistakes, but I don�t want your insults. BookClover was never, not once, intended to make someone feel miserable or unhappy, myself included.

Last year me and other bloggers did a �Christmas Edition� and that was fun, and appreciated. I so much wanted to do the same this year, I had already written something down...but this time it didn�t feel right.

I feel Bookclover is no longer my home, it�s a house where I live but not a place where I feel happy, and safe. And I hate this, I hate the idea someone killed my baby. It took me ages to find a name for the blog and in the end...BookClover was a part of my life. It took someone five minutes to write nasty, angry words.

Will I ever feel happy here again? It doesn�t feel like it right now.

It breaks my heart, and that�s absolutely the worst Christmas present I could ever get...but I guess some people are not happy with themselves and rather than looking for a ray of light and love, pure, true love (from friends, family, lovers...) they chose to destroy the happiness of others...so BookClover will take a break from now on.

I have emailed many of you, my good friends and readers, already but please do get in touch if you haven�t heard from me yet. Thank you all almost all...- for your kind words and teachings, for making this blog the amazing experience it has been...and to the person who caused this I only have one thing to say:

�....the rest is silence...�


Karma...and Free Will

I am writing this because of a discussion  with Hiei (nop, your email doesn't show, but you can easily get mine so please do use it and thank you for the opportunity you give me) coming from my previous post so I thought it useful to write a few lines to you all.

Hiei wrote (am quoting only a few passages)

"To accept that there are things "meant or not meant to be" imply that everything is decided and you're nothing more than a mere puppet.
Karma has nothing to do as far as I can see with a life already written - even in part - and lot with cause-effect principle, as ancient oriental wisdom was WAY ahead of scientific thinking but described things in methaforical sense.
Flow of karma is about projection of consequences of our action in the future: like any of the things we do is similar to a rock falling in water: it creates waves that expands, and eventually hit the shore and come back us later."

So what is Karma? It's not easy to define it (as anything else) because we all have a personal idea/perception/experience. Still, there is a common ground to all our pieces of the puzzle. Karma is destiny, things you are meant to do, to be doing in your life, lessons you are meant to learn. No, that is NOT about being slaves of some deity. It is about learning from the past (usually a past life), about finding ourselves into the very same situation, over and over, until we learn.

Is Karma something already written? Yes, in some ways it is so. But that does not mean (at all) you're just some kind of puppet. On the contrary, you are entitled to refuse whatever comes into your life, to fight it, to change your path. Point is, that won't change the fact that at some point you will have to face the situation you kept away from.

Example: In my past life I was about to marry a man - let's call him Mr Smith - but I ended up breaking his heart and killing his brother (it's just an example).
In this life I am going to meet Mr Smith (now, Mr Owen) and somehow we are going to get to the stage where he decides to pay me back for breaking his heart (he may decide to break mine) and killing his brother (he may decide to kill me) or make a different choice. We may end up getting married in this life and fullfilling the dream we once had. The number of possibilities is endless I guess and it's strictly connected to OUR choices: Karma values free will;-)

Karma is just like school: you go there every day, you don't really like that but some people (friends, teachers) help you finding a way to take the good. Some other people remind you how bad the experience is. Some days you want to stay home and tell your parents you're so very sick (they usually don't believe you though); some other days, just before the end of the school year, or Christmas hols, you can't wait to be there. You take a number of subjects: you do not like them all. Still, you try your best (even if the reason behind it is only the opportunity to see the boy/girl you fancy). You may fail. But you've got the opportunity to try again, and again, and again, until you pass.
You won't pass just because you're a student, nor because your parents pay a very high fee. You will pass when the time is right, when you possess all the necessary requirements.

Candide contemts himself with the fruits of his work. He's the main actor because he is the one who decides what to do. He chooses to cultivate his garden (why not sleep whole day, instead?) and that's the point...Karma, destiny put him in the situation to have a piece of land, he chose to take it, how to use it (why not build a villa instead?), he chose to share it with his wife - he had chosen to marry a woman. No one forced him. - He simply had to opportunity to chose and that's what he did and how he did it. His life would have been so very different had he not made these choises.

Karma won't tell you to wear a red hat...it will put things in order so that you get to the shop. Then it will let you choose. Will your decision be the best possible, the "RIGHT" one? No, not necessarily. But if you make the wrong choice, Karma will give you other opportunities so that you make the right one and are convinced that's right for you.

Some people we meet in this life 'come' from the past. They may be former lovers, or friends. Family members, or enemies. And it's up to us to clear that karma if it is negative, or to light it if it's positive.
Yes, Karma can be positive too. For example, when someone who used to be our friend in the past life, shows up in this one. It usually happens when we're upset, sad, confused. And this person puts a smile back on our face.

Not all the people we love are meant to stay with us in this life. Some of them just popped in, to say hi. Some others, came for a reason. The point is...we do not remember when we last met them, what we are meant to learn, and how. Still, I do believe that if we change our attitude towards life, and people, if we try to contempt ourselves with the good we have, the good we cultivate (gave love, time, passion to...) then we are going to turn bad karma into good one, we are going to make friends off the people we once called our enemies.
We cannot change the past, unbreak what's been broken...but we can work on the future...if friendship is a tree in our garden , we can work hard so that the tree lives, forever.


Fruits and Gardens

Hello everyone,

it's been ages (a very bad habit indeed) since I last updated the blog but life's hectic at the moment and I am hoping to rest during Christmas hols. I haven't had much time to read...or I should rather say...I did read a lot but that's no-fiction and quite-technical books I won't bore you with.

Anyway...many things happened in my life since I last updated the blog and, since I do believe in Karma, destiny, in the fact that things happen for a reason...I'll start with that:

"I do not know," answered the worthy man, and I have not known the name of any Mufti, nor of any Vizier. I am entirely ignorant of the event you mention; I presume in general that they who meddle with the administration of public affairs die sometimes miserably, and that they deserve it; but I never trouble my head about what is transacting at Constantinople; I content myself with sending there for sale the fruits of the garden which I cultivate."

This is one of the last paragraphs from Candide by Voltaire where characters lose themselves, and each other...and then find both again but that happens after fighting, struggling, learning...
From a certain point of view Candide is a total idiot (honestly) but from another, he's a winner, a real one. The one who contents himself with the fruits of the garden he himself cultivates...
Somehow everything that happens to him doesn't change his ability to feel, to appreciate what he has, the very small things, to see the beauty of things and people surrounding him.

He is such a naive character. Still, he has a lot to offer to anyone willing to listen.
And he is loyal to himself, to what he belives, to people he once called 'his friends' even if they betrayed him, even if they took separate ways. He even ends up marrying the girl he was in love with many years earlier (she was such a beauty queen!) now turned into an horrible, extremely ugly woman.

I think this is a great book which has a lot to offer, as all classics do.

During the past few weeks I somehow met my past, people I hadn't seen in ages, one in particular. I hadn't realised how much I missed this friend of mine until I had her in front of my very own eyes. She looked just the same. Still, so many things had changed in her life..well, in mine too. And I miss the way we used to be. And I am sad and sorry because I don't think things will ever get back to what they used to. But meeting her after such a long time, even if for just a few hours, gave me hope things can change, destiny is meant to restore itself, in a way or another.

And I am sharing this with you all because I am hoping to get you thinking, to get you sending that text/email/letter or make that phone call you really want to make but never had the courage to. It's not easy, I know. But I promise you it will make you feel better. It may not restore what has been broken (hardly will) but there are things we need to do for ourselves, just so that we do not lose our ability to cultivate our gardens and content ourselves with its fruits;-)


Lace Readers...

Hello, sorry for the long absence...law is so demanding;-) But don't worry, I'll catch up...starting with The lace reader by Brunonia Barry.

We first meet Towner Whitney when she's about to leave home for Salem, the place where her family still resides; the place where her sister Lyndley died...; the place she left some fifteen years earlier...

Her Aunt Eva just died and Towner is going to Salem to attend the funeral. She has no intention of staying but something happens and she is forced to, although not forever.

Many secrets unweil within the story: Towner's real name is Sophya (what a great name, especially if pronounced in the 'old' way); she had mental problems and was forced to stay in hospital for a while...her family is exactly what one may imagine: some sort of magick between the lines (Eva and Towner herself are lace readers).

You may get to a stage where you're left wondering…did you waste your time reading this book? Did the author answer any 'cosmic' question (some may think this is the main purpose of books of any sort) or something?
I confess at one point I couldn't distinguish fact and fiction within the story. But I don't think that's the point. I think this novel is about life as we, each and every one of us, see it; it's about the fact that even when we look at the same object we see just a part of it, an aspect others may not even notice.

…by the way...there is also love in this story...and a charming detective (Rafferty)...and I think this may be a great gift for Christmas;-)


Driving with dead people

Hello everyone,
Sorry I haven't been around much, took a life journey recently and am trying to cope with it and everything else. But I promise I'll try my best to keep the blog going as much as I can and am hoping it will be easier once I'm hands on...Keep finger crossed for me;-)

Driving with dead people is a very well-written novel. It is charming and passionate, and although a part of the story is extremely sad (it's about domestic violence and its effects) I really enjoyed the journey.

It all starts with Sarah Keeler, a girl like many, and her funeral. The protagonist of Driving with dead people, Monica, has a lot in common with Sarah and somehow feels in need of attending the funeral. Their "lives" cross every now and then and although they have never met, they somehow befriend each other.

As I mentioned, the novel is also (and mainly) about domestic violence which seems to be one of the big problems of contemporary society. I do not know if there is a "right" or "good" way to explain how it works but I do feel that Monica Holloway found one which I would describe as "communicative". You read the novel and you understand. Of course, that doesn't mean you suddely "know" but the picture we get from this novel is clear and human. It's not theory nor preaching. It simply is feelings, those of a woman who married someone violent, those of their children. It's the love, the hate, the guilt (especially the guilt), the need...

"Church was the only place where I sat close to my father. He felt less prickly there, and as much as I hated him I wanted him to love me. In the silence of church I tried to steal closeness."

Monica's family (and their relationship) is quite complicated. For example, one of her sisters "gets mad" (attempts suicide, goes to hospital...) and her mother moves someplace else and "forgets" about her son and daughters (or, rather, doesn't really seem to care as obsessed as she is with her new life-new boyfriend-new job...). Still Monica tries her best to connect with each and every single one of them, including her father.
Luckily, she is blessed with Daniel, former boyfriend and true friend, especially when things get very bad.


Mma Ramotswe's adventures (2)

Precious Ramotswe is one of these ladies I love to spend my time with: she's fun, clever and, in my opinion, a very fine person. She's from Botswana, a country she dearly loves (I do too since I've met her). She's a character in a book, or, rather, in a series by Alexander McCall Smith, an author I truly love and admire.

The Tears of a Giraffe  is the second book in the series. As always, we find Mma Ramotswe solving mysteries of some sort (including unfaithful husbands and fake daddies) and enjoy the engagement of this "traditionally built" lady and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.

Two new characters, a boy and a girl, join the family: the couple, or rather, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and his good heart, adopts them.
We also get to know Mma Ramotswe's Assistant, Mma Makutsi, better (She even gets promoted and is, as always, so proud of her 97 percent...) and Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni's maid gets arrested. I truly believe that's the best part because I couldn't stop laughing, and it was also some sort of a relief since it made me think that Karma does exist and what comes around goes around...

I would love to give further details but I think this book to be the type it's just best to read than to talk about. It won't take you long, both because it's just 200 pages (circa) and because it's a light read.

However, I hope you don't mind me sharing a 'cosmic question'...why is this book catalogued as "children's"? I mean, okay, I do understand marketing and that its characteristics fit in perfectly...but, IMHO, a good book is a good book, regardless.


On life, death...and funerals

Hello everyone,

Hope you're having an amazing summer, wherever you are, and do not suffer the heat (as much as I do. I am melting...).
I think mine is a great one I am spending doing a number of things I usually have no time for...reading including so have reviews to write-)

A crowded train, in a poor country or, rather, in a country we are all used to call 'third world'. Truth is, it is rich, in history, culture, land and there's so much beauty there. In am referring to India but my mind goes further.

A crowded train. That's the first image in A fine balance by Rohinton Mistry. It is an amazing and extremely demanding book: 800 pages which helps you understand, makes you suffer, tells you the story of one which may be that of any other, of the whole humanity.

In a way, I think Mistry is the Indian version of French writer Balzac whose stories are about poverty, sufferings, strength. They both are talented story-tellers and I guess that's what makes the difference between them and many others who do manage to write 800 pages but lose their readers half way through (if they get lucy...)

I confess I am not fond of big books, mainly because I get easily bored, but I'd suggest you all to read books by Rohinton Mistry which are set in India but are not about India only. They are a sort of window to understand other people, their sufferings, their need to protect themselves from all that life throws at them. It is not easy. It is never easy and we sometimes feel the weight of the world but unfortunately we are not alone in this and luckily we do meet people who help us continue the journey, who give us the love we need to feel we can do it. People we call 'friends'.

Dina Dalal is a charming person who forgot how to be a woman from the very moment she lost her husband. It was an accident. It happened so sudden. She was not ready for it. Would she be, ever? It was too soon, they still had so much to do together; she still had so much to do...
She didn't have a job, nor money, only the house her husband had rented. So she moved back in with her brother. It wasn't going to last forever and they probably knew it but it did last for a while. And it was horrible for Dinah, forced to take the servant's place. Humiliating.

Broken dreams of characters, both major and minor. They all seem to have lost (have been forced to lose) their ability to dream good things can happen to them. Still, some of them managed to put on a brave face.

When Dina lost her husband her life lost its meaning. He died, she did too. Is death a better option than life?
I think the answer to this question is in one of the characters' words (don't worry, I won't get into many details), it's in the feeling of fine balance when joining a funeral...
I am not going to tell you it's good to lose someone you love because I know it is not, but I confess I think cemeteries are not such a horrible place because every flower, every plant, every visitor is a symbol of love, that we still feel for those who are gone, for those who will always have room in our hearts.


Look at me

There is a scene, in The History of Love (Nicole Krauss. How many times before have I mentioned it?;-), where Leo Grumsky wanders around a city which doesn't feel like his own. Still he's spent there, in that city and country, most of his life. That's when he decides to sit, naked, in front of a crowded drawing class just so that he won't pass unnoticed.

In a way, Look at me by Anita Brookner tells the same story and is about the same fear although the protagonist, Frances Hinton, makes a different choice. She writes. She does so because that's the only way for people to know her, to know about her.

Set in the beautiful britishy Maida Vale, in London, the novel tells the story of a librarian who loves her job and is desperately lonely. At the beginning, she was making up stories for her mother who loved to see things through her daughter's eyes. Then, after her mother's death, Frances began to write for herself, or rather, in hope she would get published, one day, and would therefore not pass unnoticed.

I keep using this word...
It's a choice I have to make and you will understand reasons for it once you read this great book.

Have you ever been, or felt, you were way too 'normal' to get noticed? Have you ever had the feeling you needed to record your stay or presence somewhere or that would have otherwise passed unnoticed, surrounded by 'amazing' superhero-like people? Look at me is not a big book, just 200 pages or so, but it's huge in the number of emotions you will feel while reading it, especially if you have felt that very same feeling.
Frances' life upsets her, especially when comparing it to that of Alix Fraser. Still, it is not some sort of envy. It's rather a cry for survival.

Write. Record people, feelings, happenings. Even when they seem unimportant. Do so, especially when you think they are otherwise going to pass, unnoticed.


Water (again)

It just started to rain and that makes me so happy (have been struggling with the heat the whole day or rather for the past couple of weeks and it's way too much for me)

Rain...water...Water for elephants. This is the title of a book by Sara Gruen which I absolutely loved. It tells the story of a man, Jacob Jankowski, the narrator and protagonist of the story, who is about to become a vet (is about to take his final exams) and start working with his dad. Jacob is a nice guy, a good person I'd say. He's smart and a good student. Unfortunately, his parents die, all of a sudden, in a car accident and Jacob is forced to grow up quickly: he's left with no money and nobody to rely on other than himself. He doesn't know what to do but circumstances work so that he joins a Circus, thanks to someone named August who will soon become the best of his friends and the worst of his enemies...

There, in the circus, Jacob falls in love with beautiful Marlena; becomes the owner of an elephant and makes friends with a number of people he would have never imagined.

If you judge the book by the few lines I've just written, you may end up thinking it is one of the many good books published every year. It is not. It is a fantastic book and I am absolutely sure you'll agree with me once you've read it. The story is told in a simple, yet charming manner and it's a mix of past and present. We get to know young Jacob but we also befriend him when he's "90 or 93, I don't remember".

I'm sure that once you'll start reading this book, you won't put it down until you get to the last page, also because Jacob will remind you of someone you love, and he will force you to think about life. Well, that's what happened to me. I began thinking of my grandad, what he might have felt/become forced to live in one of these houses for elderly people...

Ninety-years-old Jacob is frail, outside and inside, and forgotten: his children, now in their sixties, decided not to take care of him. Jacob's aware of that, and suffers, a lot. He's lonely, just like Leo Grumsky (The History of Love, Nicole Krauss), just like any human being who no longer is self-sufficient. Sad, and upsetting. Will this ever happen to me? That I do not know, not yet. But I do know that Jacob is one of these amazing characters who will become part of your life, of your family, of you. He will tell you his story, will open his heart to you and at the end of the book you will be grateful to Sarah for chosing not to end the novel as you'd expected, for opening up to possibilities, for giving you something to remember for a long time to come.