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A Game of Thrones: Chapter 2 – Catelyn I

Chapter two, a short chapter that introduces Catelyn, Eddard Stark’s wife. A woman of faith, we see a brief insight into the relationship between herself and Eddard (Ned). To summarise this chapter, Catelyn receives news from King Robert Baratheon that Lord Jon Arryn, her brother-in-law, has died. Ned is clearly saddened by the loss. We discover that John Arryn was a second father to him and his friend, Robert Baratheon. Upon receiving the news from Robert Baratheon, we learn that Robert and the queen’s family, The Lannisters, are making their way to Winterfell; displeasing Ned greatly.

Catelyn had been anointed with the seven oils and named in the rainbow of light that filled the sept of Riverrun. She was of the Faith, like her father and grandfather and his father before him. Her gods had names, and their faces were as familiar as the faces of her parents. Worship was a septon with a censer, the smell of incense, a seven-sided crystal alive with light, voices raised in song.

Catelyn Stark, originally from Riverrun, south of Winterfell, misses home greatly; especially the Godswood, described as a place of worship. Compared to Winterfell which is ‘dark, primal place’ and ‘smelled of moist earth and decay’, Riverrun is ‘bright and airy’ and the ‘air was spicy with the scent of flowers’. This chapter provides a beautiful introduction to the settings and scenery. I look forward in reading the narrative as the world continues to expand.

The main theme within this chapter is religion; the introduction of Gods and the belief in higher powers. I always find it fascinating as to how writers create religion within a fantasy realm. Within this chapter we get a clear sense that Catelyn and Ned have different beliefs. Catelyn believes in the ’seven faces of god’, whereas Ned puts his faith in the ‘old Gods’. Parallels can be observed between the two religions of the book and the real world. It can be said that the ‘seven faces of God’ is linked to Catholicism, and the ‘old Gods’ is linked to Paganism. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the faith of the seven gods is the dominant religion passed down through generations. Undoubtedly, the theme of religion will continue throughout the novel and I am strangely going to enjoy learning the complex structure of the different religions.

Catelyn wished she could share his joy. But she had heard the talk in the yards; a direwolf dead in the snow, a broken antler in its throat. Dread coiled within her like a snake, but she forced herself to smile at this man she loved, this man who put no faith in signs.

Furthermore, we get a sense that Catelyn Stark, not only religious, but is also superstitious. She clearly sees the dead direwolf (in the previous chapter) as a bad sign of what’s to come. If only Ned had put more faith in sign; though perhaps that would be a different story.

Additionally, Catelyn is fearful of what lies beyond the wall, north of Westeros, stating, “There are darker things beyond the Wall.” It is said that the Wildlings and the Others live in the area. However, Ned believes the Others have been dead for 8,000 years and/or even a myth passed down through the ages, as “no living man has ever seen one”…If only they knew.

At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. “The heart tree,” Ned called it. The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself…It was said that the children of the forest had carved the faces in the trees during the dawn centuries before the coming of the First Men across the narrow sea.

We also discover within this chapter the first inhabitants, the children of the forest. Not much is known about them yet, except they are believed to have existed before the First Men arrived. They are presumed to be an extinct race, leaving behind the carved faces on the weirwood trees. Thus meaning that the children of the forest also worshipped the old Gods. What happened to them? Did they exist alongside the Others?

There was small love between him and the queen’s family, Catelyn knew. The Lannisters of Casterly Rock had come late to Robert’s cause, when victory was all but certain, and he had never forgiven them.

The hostility towards the Lannisters, notably Queen Cersei Lannister, begins very early on within the novel. As shown in the above quote, the reason for Ned’s distaste is due to the fact that the Lannisters only sided with Robert Baratheon when they saw ‘victory was all but certain’. If true, I suspect Cersei married Robert only for the politics and status. We can only assume that the Lannisters are a very proud family with a “touch” of arrogance; an antagonist that I’m sure I’ll love.

…”The Lannister woman is our queen, and her pride is said to grow with every passing year.”

As a conclusion to this brief chapter, we have gained a small understanding that Catelyn and Ned’s relationship is of trust and respect. It is clear that family comes first to both of them, regardless of their difference in religion. However, there is a lingering sense of uneasiness in the air for the House of Stark. The fact is, this is only the beginning.

Winter is coming


The Traveler’s Guide: #3 Filofax | Weekly Agenda Inserts

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”Thomas Edison

I don’t recall when my love of analog planners began. All I remember was that I have always loved handwritten projects. Perhaps it has something to do with being a 90’s kid, where computer technology was only at its initial stages. These days there are thousands of planner/calendar apps to choose from, but it just isn’t the same as planning by hand. Additionally, I have always believed that if you write down your thoughts and to-do lists, you won’t easily forget them.

Consequently, my passion for Filofax began. Who knew that a simple leather-bound binder would give me so much joy. Filled with different kinds of inserts and customisations to choose from, I was in stationery heaven. Established in 1921, Filofax are well-known for their personal organisers, which has thankfully kept up with the rise of digital calendars.

Nowadays, with a loyal fan base, organiser/planner inserts can easily be purchased throughout the world. Aside from Filofax, Etsy is a great place to find personalised inserts. There are literally thousands of designs to choose from. You can spend days trying to find the perfect inserts online. Nevertheless, it is always cheaper and sometimes easier to create them yourself if you cannot find the best design.

With the exception of designing inserts with a pen and ruler, the best software I have used (so far) is Excel. With a bit of patience and creativity, you can create the perfect insert of your choosing.

Subsequently, I have finally designed my own set of inserts that I would like to share with you all. If you are interested in using them, the inserts should fit all A5 planner systems. Comments and feedback are welcomed. Downloads are available below:

⁃ A5 Weekly Insert (undated)
⁃ A5 Agenda with Weekly Habit Tracker

New Year: Book Haul

Since it’s 2018, I thought I’ll share with you all a few books I purchased, specifically self-help books. Why this genre? My word for 2018 is ‘change’. I want 2018 to be all about change. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in this situation, but I’m bored of being stuck in this repetitive cycle I’ve somehow created. So I thought a bit of reading may help me solve my current situation and make me more motivated to try something different.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Discover the six habits that are transforming the lives of thousands of people around the world, showing them how to wake up each day with more energy, motivation and focus

I love working in the mornings. The problem is, I have trouble waking up and getting out of bed. I’m fine during the weekends, but when it comes to weekdays, I struggle getting out of bed. One day whilst I was browsing through social media, I spotted ‘The Miracle Morning’ with rave reviews. I decided to purchase the book to see what Hal Elrod had to say. Although, I am curious to see if it’s just a book about common sense or if I’m going to learn something new that motivates me to change. Either way, I will let you know and review the book in due course.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

Japan’s expert declutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you organise your rooms once and for all with her simple KonMari Method. The key to successful tidying is tackling your home in the correct order, keeping only what you really love and doing it all at once. This incredible easy method will not just transform your space, it will change you too. You will feel more confident, become more successful and be motivated to create the life you want.

I’m currently in the process of moving. I’ve discovered that after living in my one bedroom apartment for 10 years, I’ve accumulated a lot of things. Some useful, other items I question or no longer use. I’ve always wanted to live a minimal lifestyle, minus the books and stationery of course. As such, I thought I’l give Marie Kondo’s book a try to see how much stuff I can clean out of my apartment. It may prove useful.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Artist’s Way provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative-self. It aims to dispel the ‘I’m not talented enough’ conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist. Its step by step approach enables you to transform your life, overcome any artistic blocks you may suffer from, including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt, and replacing them with self-confidence and productivity.

Since working in a full-time job, I began noticing my loss of creativity. The love of photography, writing and books began to slowly fade away and money stepped in to replace it all. This year, I wanted to change myself and gradually find my creativity.

Several years ago, a friend recommended ‘The Artist’s Way’ to me, to encourage me to expand my creativity. Thus, I decided this year to take the leap and start this twelve-week course, which I’m told consists of a lot of writing. I’m excited to start learning about myself and discover what I’m missing.

The Traveler’s Guide: #2 Traveler’s Company Notebook

“There was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationery.”Charles Dickens

One of my recent purchases that I fell in love with was my traveler’s notebook, olive edition. I first noticed the traveler’s notebook back in 2012, when it was previously known as Midori. Back then, I was looking for a planner/diary setup, so I purchased the brown edition with a few inserts. I remember travelling with it for a year and then setting aside for my new-found passion with Filofax (another future blog post).

Towards the beginning of 2018, I came to realise (again) my love for writing. Due to having a full-time job, I truly missed writing. Thus, I was on the lookout for a new notebook for my daily journal writing. After spending a lot of time on YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, I wanted to revisit the traveler’s notebook again, especially the olive edition; and thus started a whole new adventure in researching different refills and setting up the traveler’s notebook to my liking.

Read More

The Traveler’s Guide: #1 An Introduction

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

It’s been a while since I’ve last shared my thoughts and opinions with you. When you’re busy working with a full-time job, it’s hard to find time to sit and review books. As a temporary alternative, I thought I’ll share the things that brings me joy and happiness. Thus, let me introduce to you ‘The Traveler’s Guide’, the blog section of Literary Boutique, where I go about obtaining memories from around the world in forms of ephemera, stationery, books and photographs.

Why call it ‘The Traveler’s Guide’? After a pretty stressful 2017, happiness and creativity is all that I wanted this year (and maybe a small pinch of change). Incidentally, the blog was originally named ‘The Happiness Diary’. Why the change? After trying to pursue happiness for several months, I’ve come to realise that I’ve been searching in the wrong direction. Here I thought happiness can be found through searching, but no, happiness is earned; and it will eventually find you  without the need of pursuing it. As Nichole Bentz once wrote “Maybe the question is not how to achieve happiness, but what creates happiness?… Happiness is not a creature that is captured easily; happiness runs away from us, it hides, and we will struggle forever if all we do is chase it … It will find us and we do not need to find it.” Alas, ‘The Happiness Diary’ felt as if I was constantly searching for happiness, which I have now gladly stopped (for my own sanity).

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Instead, these future blog posts will consist of daily things that I love and inspire my creativity. This may include snippets from my daily writer’s journal/planner, stationery items, quotes, media etc. If you’re subscribed to my Instagram then you would have already seen some sneak peaks. I find it amazing that it is the little things in life that brings joy; and where there is joy, happiness is not far behind.

A Game of Thrones: Chapter 1 – Bran I


Summer span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast frozen north, where a 700-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. The Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.

I will admit, i’ve never truly been the biggest fan of A Game of Thrones. I’ve never got into the hype of the HBO series. However, there was one character that stood out for me, intrigued me in so many ways. What can I say, I like dragons. Hence, I have finally decided to start reading the novels, chapter by chapter. Perhaps then, the books will change my mind. After all, an epic fantasy novel should be a good read.

“The Other slid forward on silent feet…its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice.”

Let me briefly summarise the prologue. We are introduced to a few members of the Night’s Watch, Gared, Will and Ser Waymar Royce, who appear to be military officers on patrol; tracking a band of Wildling raiders in the haunted forest. They quickly find themselves in danger and encounter the Others, a non-human species who appear to be very powerful and equipped with crystal blades. The Others pierce into Royce’s armour, not long after Royce shatters one of their crystal blades. Will, thinking that his comrade is dead, picks up his sword to return it to Gared. However, Will EP.0 - White Walkersdies at the hands of Royce; who appears to have risen from the dead by the Others.

Having never been a huge fan of prologues, I’ll admit this is a pretty good one. The author, George R. R. Martin, does a brilliant job describing in depth, not only the Night’s Watch but the mysterious humanoid beings called the Others. Who are the Others and where exactly do they come from? Furthermore, the prologue sets out a very dark tone to the rest of the novel. I will assume that this is the start of a very gruesome tale, where happy endings are hard to come by.

Game of Thrones: 1x01

It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran’s life.

We begin the chapter with Bran Stark, a seven-year-old boy, with long brown hair who will be witnessing his first execution. In Bran’s world, seasons are long, varied and unpredictable. Nine years of summer had passed and winter was about to begin.

Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine.

The old man being executed appears to be Gared, one of the Night’s Watch men from the prologue. Having lost his ears and fingers to frostbite, he flees in terror from the Wildlings. Eddard, Lord Stark of Winterfell brands Gared as a deserter from the Night’s Watch and sentences him to death.

“In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die.”

Eddard Stark is a very honourable man. He stands by his own traditions and beliefs. Whether killing Gared was just, that is up to the readers to decide. In my opinion, Gared, instead of reporting back to the Night’s Watch of what he had seen in the haunted forest, broke his oath and ran away. Consequently, law is law and the ultimate punishment is death.

Eddard Stark Ep.1

…Our way is the older way. The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.

On their way back to Winterfell Robb Stark discovers a dead direwolf and her litter of five pups alive, three males and two females. Upon closer inspection of the dead direwolf they find an antler pierced into her throat. A long silence casted over, as if the stag that attacked the direwolf symbolises a bad omen foreshadowing of what is yet to come. Subsequently, the three male and two female pups represent Eddard Stark’s three sons and two daughters. As such, each of his children will be given a direwolf as a pet.

Not long after, they find an additional direwolf pup, an albino, outcasted by the rest of the litter. Here, we learn that Jon Snow is the illegitimate or shall I say bastard son of Eddard Stark. Needless to say, the surname Snow and the albino direwolf correspond quite well together.

“The direwolf graces the banners of House of Stark,” Jon pointed out. “I am no Stark, Father.”

Ultimately, we learn later that the direwolf is an emblem of the House of Stark. But what does the stag represent? Skipping ahead a few chapters, it is shown that the stag is the emblem of the House of Baratheon. Consequently, I fear this may not end well for the Starks.

A New Beginning

Books & Carnations

“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

It’s been a while, give or take a couple of years since I last posted. At present, I have branded myself as a workaholic, which greatly exists in our family genes. Indeed, I have worked continuously for the past two years with no regrets…I lie, my only regret is not writing enough. I have read plenty of literature throughout these two years, but I have never had the chance to put them into writing. Consequently, I have missed this blog very much.

What’s new? As you can see, we have a new website layout. I am using the Zuki WordPress theme. It’s a minimalistic, magazine theme, which I think will fit this site very well. Not only does it display large featured posts, but I also get to add my favourite quotes anywhere I like.

Additionally, I am thinking of expanding my blog to accommodate stationery reviews. When it comes to work, I like to be very organised, keep a good track of all my daily tasks and events. Hence, I may bring onto this site my daily bullet journal and a little snippet of what goes on in my life.

In terms of literature reviews, I will try my best to get it up and running again. Preferably, I would like to be posting a critique once a week. There are a lot of ideas in my head. Hopefully, I can present these all to you in the future.

Thank you for being very patient. Stay tuned for more.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Red-Headed League

The Red-Headed League


Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called on to investigate the bizarre proceedings of The Red-Headed League, a philanthropic society which promotes the interests of men with red hair by paying them handsomely to perform small tasks. Holmes soon realises that The League is not as charitable as it appears but rather part of an ingenious criminal plot involving the fourth smartest man in London.

We continue with our journey through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by reviewing Doyle’s next short story, The Red-Headed League. Narrated by Dr. John Watson, The Red-Headed League is a fun yet bizarre mystery; or as Mr. Sherlock Holmes states “refreshingly unusual”. Even with the unusual case, it is a rather clever scheme, which I believe would have worked out if Mr. Holmes wasn’t investigating it.

“As a rule,” said Holmes, the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be.”

Our first character we are introduced to is Mr. Jabez Wilson and his ‘blazing red head’. A pawnbroker from London and a client to Mr Holmes, Mr. Wilson is a slow and somewhat gullible man. Only himself will have the patience to copy out an entire Encyclopaedia Britannica without questioning for eight weeks. Unknown to Mr. Wilson, his assistant Vincent Spaulding aka John Clay is the criminal who uses him in his scheme to rob a bank. You do start to feel sorry for Mr. Wilson in his current situation. However, his character is rather comical and makes the novel very entertaining.

Dr. John Watson, the sidekick to Mr. Holmes is a lovable character. His observation skills is relatively lacking, but that’s what makes him more likeable to the readers. I do love his initial criticism of Mr. Wilson, describing him as an ‘average commonplace British tradesman, obese, pompous, and slow’, only to have Holmes shaking his head afterwards. It’s as if, Sherlock Holmes can read minds. As Watson narrates the entire story, you find that he is very fond of Holmes. There is a beautiful paragraph in ‘The Red-Headed League’ where Watson describes Holmes as his friend and his ‘perfect happiness’ for music (see Quotes section). He clearly admires him, which I find truly sweet and touching.

“I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life. You have shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm which has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so many of my own little adventures.”

Whilst watching the television series of Sherlock Holmes, I came across ‘The Red-Headed League’ episode, starring Jeremy Brett and David Burke. I was fascinated by Brett’s performance of Holmes. He brings a lot of wit and liveliness to the character, as it should be portrayed. It was the little touches that I liked about the episode. For example, Holmes jumping on the sofa, his busy contemplative mind when Watson was falling asleep; the little things is what made Jeremy Brett, Sherlock Holmes.

As the protagonist, Holmes has a quick-thinking, brilliant mind. I suppose it’s what makes Sherlock Holmes very popular. Doyle created a bizarre, but genius character. The ultimate detective story about good vs bad. There must have been a rise in detective stories during the late 1800s. What makes Holmes brilliant? It’s the way he observes, he sees what others and readers can’t see. Towards the end, all Holmes could say was, “L’homme c’est rien — l’oeuvre c’est tout,” meaning simply: The man is nothing – his work is everything; which fits Holmes’s character perfectly.

Here I had heard what he had heard, I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it was evident that he saw clearly not only what had happened but what was about to happen, while to me the whole business was still confused and grotesque.

All things considered, ‘The Red-Headed League’ is a very entertaining novel. Even though it is a short story, Sherlock Holmes’s wittiness makes the story enjoyable. An additional bonus to Dr. Watson’s narration through his observations of Mr. Holmes; there were some fabulous quotes. I do love a fun and unusual mystery novel. It would have been even better, if there were more adventures from the ‘Red-Headed League’.

4 Stars

Life of Pi: Part One

Life Of Pi


After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan…and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

At a young age, I remember walking through my school library and picking Life of Pi to read. The title intrigued me. I have always chosen new novels by browsing through titles that instantly catches my eye. Life of Pi was one of them. Right away, I knew the novel was about someone called Pi. I thought to myself that Pi was a very strange name and I wanted to know more about the person. So I checked out the book.

Many years later, all I could recall about the novel was that it had a tiger, a boat and a boy named Pi. The rest of the plot was rather blurry. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I’m beginning to lose details of books that I’ve read in the past. Then again I’ve read many books. But I always remember the lasting impressions of all the books that I have read; the good, the bad and especially the ones that’ve made me cry. Hence, when the Life of Pi movie came out, a lot of memories came flooding back in. I instantly knew that I should reread the book.

The Fall ThumbnailThe movie was positively beautiful. The visual effects were stunning. Above all, the CGI masters captured the Bengal tiger perfectly. The scenic locations in India even reminded me of Tarsem Singh’s 2006 movie: The Fall; one of my all time favourites that I highly recommend. It’s very rare for me to fall in love with both the movie and the novel of Life of Pi. Of course, the book is better and provides a lot more detail. Nevertheless, the director, Ang Lee managed to produce a marvellous film.

As expected, I’m here to critique to you about the novel rather than the film itself. The last thing I want is a comparison between the novel and movie. It’s not needed, but I might add a few photographs from the movie. Similar to the layout of the book, the Life of Pi critique will be written in three parts. Will there be spoilers? Like many of my critiques, there will be a great deal of it. You have been warned.

“I have a story that will make you believe in God.”

The novel starts from the very beginning in the author’s note. Most author’s note are based on the truth. But I suppose it’s up to the writer to decide on how much truth is written. In the Life of Pi, the reader will have to question themselves whether the novel is based on fact or fiction. As well as how far are the readers willing to believe in the truth. Henceforth, one of the major themes throughout this novel is storytelling. Pi is telling the story to the writer, Yann Martel, who occasionally can be rather intrusive by switching the story back and forth to the present. This gives the readers enough time to breath and recollect their thoughts.

The main protagonist and narrator, Piscine Molitor Patel, also known as Pi, was named after a famous french swimming pool in Paris. With his heart in the right place, Patel lives his life with great curiosity and belief. He’s just one of those characters in which you can’t help but fall in love with. Occasionally, Martel shares touches of comedy. The way he describes characters through the eyes of Pi is rather amusing. We can all agree that his childhood brings much laughter to myself and the readers.

The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity–it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.

Pondicherry Zoo

This novel contains many excellent quotes, too many in fact. The quote above is one of my personal favourites, Pi’s constant battle with death, which we will certainly see more later on. Part one of the Life of Pi tells the story about Pi’s childhood upbringing in Pondicherry, India. His awareness and love of nature started in Pondicherry Zoo, which was owned by his father. In chapter four, Pi paints a beautiful, descriptive picture, overflowing with plants and animals, calling it his ‘paradise on earth’ and that he ‘lived the life of a prince.’ I admire how people see the world differently. Some people see the negative aspects. Whereas others, like Pi, see the beauty of the world.

I spent more hours than I can count a quiet witness to the highly mannered, manifold expressions of life that grace our planet. It is something so bright, loud, weird and delicate as to stupefy the senses.

Finding and believing in God is a fundamental theme throughout this novel. It starts within the author’s note when an elderly man approaches Martel and says, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” In a rather humorous approach, Pi finds faith in not one but three separate religions: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Why? For the simplest of reasons he replies, “All religions are true. I just want to love God”. From that sweet quote alone, we’re beginning to understand why Pi chose to believe in three religions. He naturally wants to appreciate and understand God. By believing in God, he sees the living world through kindness.

Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.