Unique Blogger Award

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I have a quick, fun little post for you today! The lovely Ellie @bloggingfordopamine nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award, and asked some interesting questions. Now, it’s time for me to answer.

First, the rules:

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  • Ask them 3 questions.

And here are my answers:

1. I have so many books I’m looking forward to reading this year. What’s your most anticipated 2018 read?

It is (or actually was) Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, which is now my current read. And it’s great so far, I’ll definitely write a post about it soon. Another book I really want to read is The Sagas of the Icelanders, a collection of old Icelandic tales and sagas. It’s a huge book, but I’m sure it will be worth my time.

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2. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now that I’m older, I have even more admiration for her character. Are there any childhood favourite characters that you appreciate even more now that you’re older?

I can’t really think of one specific character for this question, but the characters from Winnie-the -Pooh as a whole really mean a lot to me. I loved then as a child, and when I reread the book I realized just how wonderful they are. They are all flawed – Piglet is always anxious, Eeyore is depressed, Pooh doesn’t understand what’s going on most of the time… But they are all supportive of each other, and accept their friends the way they are. For example, they try to mae Eeyore happy on his birthday, but they don’t expect him to change and instantly stop being sad. And they say the sweetest, most innocent things. Oh, I just love how pure those books are.

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3. My blog has changed so much since I started it. What was the topic of the first ever blog post you wrote?

My first post as a silly “introduction”. Not really interesting. XD And the first real one was about my favourite books of all time. I guess I could do a new one, since there are some books that should definitely be added to the list.

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Now, here are the questions I came up with:

1. A monster breaks into your home! (Gasp!) But it’s not a very dangerous one, don’t worry. It’s just lost, poor thing. It can easily be scared, and then it will go into the wild and live happily ever after. But you need to scare it. The only thing that comes to mind is to throw a book at it, because you’re standing next to your shelves. You obviously don’t want to throw and possibly destroy a book you love, so you grab a book you don’t like and you don’t even know why you still have it. What book do you choose?

2. You’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and you find a magical lamp. (You now it’s magical because it sparkles. Or something.) And what do you do – you rub the lamp of course. You know how these things work! And, yes, a genie comes out and says he’ll give you any superpower you want.
“But, I thought I was supposed to get three wishes!” you say.
“I’m the genie, I know how this works! You get a superpower!”
You shrug and accept the offer. A superpower is still great. Which superpower do you choose?

3. I’ll keep this one shorter, I promise. XD Now, you have superpowers, but you still need help because you’re new at the whole supernatural thing. Which character (from a book or tv show) would you choose to be your partner and best friend?

Now I will nominate some people, but if anyone wants to answer these questions, feel free to do it. I’m interested to hear your answers. 🙂

Anna @mybookishdream

Chelsea @spotlightonstories

Lola @lolaetlavie

Sarah @dragonsandzombies

Jewel @foxynerdyrebelle

Naty @natysbookshelf

Luna @bookishluna

Izzy @thinkingandinking

Maniacal Book Unicorn @maniacalbookunicorn


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In First Person: The “Why Didn’t She Leave” Argument

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I didn’t think I would write a post like this, not because I don’t think this topic is revelant, but because I wasn’t not sure I’d be able to bring anything new to the discussion. Seeing just how many cases of sexual misconduct happened and were never talked about, let alone prosecuted, makes me angry and sad. I really do care about everything that’s going on. And while all these cases are hard to read and think about, I hope the discussion they have started will lead to a better world in the future.

It also might not. Maybe we’ll be shocked for a while, and then just forget about it. Some people will suffer the consequences, but most will just move on with their lives. This is a thought that truly makes me sick. And this is why I decided to talk about it.

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There is another reason why this post came to being, and that is the fact that in my last post, just a couple of days ago, I mentioned Master of None, a tv show written by Aziz Ansari. You probably know where this is leading, but in case you don’t, apparently, the person who talked so much about woman rights in the show is now accused of sexual misconduct himself. HERE is the original article if you haven’t read it yet. This case made me feel betrayed, though I’ve never met Aziz Ansari and he definitely has no personal importance to me. I felt betrayed because this person was someone who was supposed to be on the “right” side of the debate. He was supposed to be one of the men who understands, or at least tries to understand, what women go through. This feeling that there are no men left to trust is horrible! Now, I certainly don’t feel that way, my boyfriend and my brother are my best friends, two people I trust the most. And they are men. So, of course, I’m aware that not all men are the same. But I understand when, in the midst of all this, some women start to feel that way. This way of thinking is horrible and destructive. It divides people and nourishes anger.

Now, back to the Ansari case – it turned out to be the most divisive case in the entire discussion. Ashleigh Banfield attacked Ansari’s accuser on CNN, saying that what happened to her was not abuse, and that she’s hurting the entire movement. (Watch it here). Many (feminist) women, for example Margaret Atwood, are expressing certain issues with the movement. Is it becoming attacks without proof? How big is the possibility of false accusations hurting innocent people?

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Now, I’m not saying that these issues should not be addressed. On the contrary, false accusations would definitely ruin everything that the movement stands for. The problem with sexual abuse victims has always been the lack of understading. The victims are met with doubt, and even blamed themselves for provoking the abuser. And this is something that the movement is trying to change. Women and men should not be afraid to press charges. They should never be mocked for what they went through, and their pain shouldn’t be belittled. A woman doesn’t deserve to be raped because she’s wearing a short skirt. Men can be raped, too, and this doesn’t make them less “manly”. Unfortunately, some people still can’t seem to grasp such simple concepts. And why is that? Largely because of what the society teaches us about men and women. And this is why the case of Aziz Ansari has to be talked about. He apologised to the accuser and said that he never realised she was feeling uncomfortable. But how could a person who openly speaks about these issues not see the problem? How can it be normal to proceed with sexual advances after a sentence like: “I don’t want to be forced because then I’ll hate you.”

Why didn’t the woman say a strong “no” or just left, some may ask. And others may pose a counterquestion: Why didn’t he stop if he wasn’t sure what she wanted? This leads to one of the the things we are taught, one way or the other: women are not supposed to act like “sluts”. This kind of labeling is where the problems start. It basically means women cannot enthusiastically consent to sex. They have to play “hard to get” (as if sex is something that is won by men). So, if a woman backs away, she may not really be saying no. It might just be a game. And in this game, the woman is a prize, an object. This is such a frequent trope that it’s become inbedded in our minds.

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The other side of the story is the notorious “friendzone”. This is what happens when a man doesn’t win “the game”. He does everything right. He’s nice, he tries so hard to be liked, but in the end, the woman still doesn’t want him. And the truth is, yes, some women chose a wrong man. This, however, doesn’t mean that the self-proclaimed “nice guy” is the right choice, either. Being nice in order to get something means you’re not that nice after all. *

Another thing we are taught is that women are supposed to be motherly and keep their marriages at any cost. You think this is something that has changed? It’s something we don’t have to talk about anymore, in the 21st century? There are so many proofs that, unfortunately, the problems are not yet resolved. I won’t go into much detail, since you can easily find all of the statistics on the internet. I won’t even go into the Star Wars: The Last Jedi debate, because I’m really done with that, but I feel the need to mention that a “men’s rights activist” made a no-women cut of the movie. Yes, really. And, of course, you can hate the movie, but hating it because there are too many women in to is just idiotic! Anyway, I don’t want to want about film or even books. I have a better example. Everyone trusts the victims these days, you say? Well, let me tell you a little real-life story from my own country, Croatia. It ended not even a week ago. And it didn’t end well.

County Prefect Alojz Tomašević is from the leading political party in Croatia. And he beats his wife. The wife decides to come forward, to finally press charges. After that, everyone she knows turns their back on her. EVERYONE. Even her children. The press mostly backs her up, but no one she knows gives her any help. And then the Minister of Demography, Family and Social Policy, Nada Murganić (a woman and a former social worker!) says that these things happen in families and it would’ve been better if they resolved it as a family, without going to the press. After that, the woman withdraws the charges. Literally NOTHING happens to her husband. He’s still in charge of the county. And her son writes a post on Facebook in which he thanks God that He enlightened his mother, and made her see that she made a mistake. (He’s probably just happy that his father is still influential and can “buy” him a good life.) The Church never addressed the problem directly, but an article comes out in which a priest says that divorce is a great sin, and women should never leave their husbands. All this in the 21st century. (I found a short article about it in English, if you’re interested.)

Why didn’t she just leave, you ask? Well, this is why! She was left alone and no one supported her. And this is why even smaller issues have to be talked about – that’s where everything starts. Every cat-call, every sexist remark shapes the society we live in. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, everyone sometimes says something that can be seen as problematic. But if someone warns you, you should just learn from it. If people are willing to think about ther people’s fellings, and what makes other uncomfortable, then it’s not that hard to change certain behaviours. And these changes are important for everyone. Women and men, because as I mentioned earlier, men are often mocked if they say they were sexually abused since they are expected to be strong, and to want sex all the time.

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And, since we’re talking about this, did you know there was a Spider-man comic which addressed this issues, and Peter Parker talks about his own experience of sexual abuse when he was a boy? I think this is a very important comic. To see a superhero, someone they look up to, someone powerful, go through such things, sends a very powerful message and validates the issue. It helps children realise that abuse can happen to anonye, and that it doesn’t mean you’re weak. You can read more about it HERE.

This is where I leave you, but please feel free to comment on these issues. It’s not an easy topic, but it’s important, and I’d love to talk to you!


*This goes both ways. What about the girl who is “one of the guys”? She likes her friend, but he dates the vilified “pretty girl”. The “one of the guys” girl does everything right. She likes the same things as he does. She’s not nagging like the other girls. All girls nag, but no, not her! Even if something bothers her, she will laugh it off. She never makes scenes. She doesn’t wear make-up. Boys always say how make up is misleading, how it’s “false advertising”, but still date girls who wear it. Now, why is that? And in a movie, she would get the guy. But real life is something else…


The pictures are from Pixabay.com. The Spider-man one is from HERE.


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What Makes a Good Comedy?

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> DISCLAIMER: This post doesn’t answer the question from the title. It’s just me, rambling about comedy. Basically…

This is a question I asked myself after finally watching a sitcom I actually enjoyed. (More about the sitcom later on). I rarely watch sitcoms or comedies these days, because I often find them too silly to be actually funny. And I almost never read funny books (the closest to that are Terry Pratchett’s books). And I sometimes watch some funny tv shows, but I mostly just want to rewatch those I’ve seen before.

Why is this? Are the comedies nowadays really not that good, or am I the problem? The thing is, even some comedies which I found funny before are not as funny to me anymore. Did I become too old and bitter? I hope not, I’m only 26. XD

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As I thought about this, I asked myself what comedies and sitcoms I liked and why. What makes me laugh? And I realised that I liked a bitter kind of humour, humour that actually has something to say. And these things can vary. The most obvious one is social commentary. Now, I know what you are thinking (okay, not really, but some of you might be thinking this): Does humour really have to be socially aware to be funny? Shouldn’t the main point of humour be to relax and just not think about the millions of problems our world faces? And you would be right to ask that. But, if you think about the origin of comedy, it was always, at least a little bit, a social comentary.

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If we want to go to the very origin of comedy, it would probably be the Ancient Greek theatre. Humour certainly existed before Ancient Greece, but they were the first who put some rules on how comedy should look like, and are the ones who basically invented drama. Those Greek comedies were often satirical, even political. Even religion was not left out, and sometimes the myths were changed and incorporated in comedies. One of the rules which stayed to this day is that all comedies end happily, and the conflicts are resolved.

In the Middle Ages, comedy as it once was disappeared. Theatre completely changed, and was reduced to religious and biblical stagings, and on the other hand on mistrels and troubadurs who travelled and entertained. But something else took its place as main entertainment and escape from everyday problems – carnivals. Carnivals were the time when everything was allowed. The poorest peasant could pretend to be a king. Carnivals destroyed social rules and constructs, but at the same time they affirmed those same roles. How? Well, canivals made people’s everyday lives more bearable. They were allowed to make fun of the people above them, only to return to their own social role afterwards. Carnivals were a form or regulation at the same time as they were a form of entertainment. They also created typical (or stock) characters, which remained a part of comedy to this day, just in their more modern roles. It’s basically impossible to not have society influence comedy.

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Picture from Pixabay.com

Now we come to the Rennaissance and commedia dell’ arte, which coexisted with erudite comedy which followed the ancient rules. Commedia dell’ arte was based on the stock characters and the actors’ improvisation. The stock characters were easily recognized because they wore the same clothes and some of them had masks. This is something we have today – typical characters. And this is something that, in my opinion, good comedy should use in an intersting way. Good comedy should not accept the typical characters, but play with them. I guess that originality is also something that makes a piece of art (or entertainment) good. And originality doesn’t necessarily mean moving away from every single trope. It means using what we know in a unique way.

 

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Commedia dell’ arte was very popular, which means it wasn’t boring to people even though it always had the same types of charactes. It usually satirized recent events, often some local scandals, and that’s what made it entertaining. At this point I will stop with the history of comedy, and say that this is something that definitely makes comedy a good one – being current. This leads to the sitcom I actually enjoyed recently. (Yes, I’m finally getting there!) Master of None is created by Aziz Ansari (who also plays the main role) and Alan Yang. It deals with recent issues, such as race and multiculturality. It talks about subjects people actually face today. For example, it commented on the treatment of women in a way which I rarely see in TV shows – by using the actual arguments of women that I’d read many times online but never saw being validated like this. The main character Dev and his male friends are completely oblivious to some things women go though almost every day. This was stressed by Dev complaining that he had a horrible night out and mentioning some quite petty things in comparison to what the women he was talking to went through – she was followed by a man to her apartment. (And bonus points for the stalker guy exclaiming: “Oh, come on, let the nice guy win for once!” This “nice guy” thing really has to be talked about.) Master of None uses fresh subjects and fresh jokes, while also making a social commentary. It doesn’t use real-life issues just to make a joke and then validate the status quo. It actually makes you think about those issues and gives validation to them.

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But can a show that is recent be truly good if it’s not funny some ten, twenty, fifty years in the future? Seinfeld is a sitcom I enjoy so much, even today, though it was based on (then) recent events. I guess some topics are always relevant and some things (sadly) never change. So, yes, there’s a risk of becoming dated. And, sometimes, only time can tell if this will happen. Seinfeld points out certain small social pet peeves and problems that happen to everyone, and which in a certain way won’t change that quickly. I also want to add that this is a problem with Shakespeare, too. He’s taken too seriously! But Shakespeare wrote for the people. Even his tragedies have humour and, yes, sex jokes. The thing is, he uses the language of his own time, so those jokes go unnoticed. And no one is really looking for jokes when reading Shakespeare, because that’s not how he’s taught. I think it’s a missed opportunity… Of course, explaining jokes doesn’t make them funny, but making students aware of the context can be quite interesting. Can something be truly timeless, anyway? Especially humour?

Maybe we should consider some older tv shows, the ones that could be described as “timeless”, and one of them is certainly Blackadder. The humour in this show can be a bit dark, so maybe not for everyone, but I think it will never get old. Why? Because it’s mostly based on witty dialogue and wordplay. It’s also set in different periods in history, and it makes fun of certain historical figures. It plays with our expectations when it comes to those people. Another similar example is ‘Allo ‘Allo! which manages to make one of the darkest periods of history funny.

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But, is it necessary for humour to be timeless to be good? I’m actually not sure. I guess, in the end of the day, what’s important is that we have something that makes us laugh. So, what do you find funny? Which books, films, and tv shows made you laugh, and why?



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My Top 5 Non-fiction Reads of 2017

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I made my Top 10 Books of 2017 list a few days ago, but it was actually a list of my favourite novels from last year. This was intentional, because I’ve read some great non-fiction books in 2017, and I wanted to make a separate list for those books.

These are, of course, books that I’ve read in 2017, not books published in 2017. And this list is in no praticular order since these books are all quite different, and all great. Anyway, here’s my list:

1. Romantic Outlaws; The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

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This book is the most “bookish” one on the list. As it says in the title, it’s a dual biograpy of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, and it’s just perfect. It’s very detailed, and it really gives the reader a sense of everything these women went through, and the world they lived in. I would highly recommend it to everyone interested in these two writers and thinkers, Romanticism, feminism, and just literature in general.

“[A Vindication of the Rights of Woman] outlined the evils of the present state of society, and introduced solutions that would redeem men as well as women. Yes, men. From the first page to last, Mary emphasized that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.”

2. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

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This book left such an impression on me that I wrote my longest post ever after reading it. Even if you’re not a vegetarian or a vegan, I think you would learn a lot from this book and the things that are happening not only to animals, but to the entire environment because of factory farming. It’s well-researched book, and the author talked to many people on different sides of the debate. And no, there are not just two sides – things are not that simple. I think that the fact that Jonathan Safron Foer writes novels also helped to make this book very readable, and well-written.

As told by Kafka’s close friend Max Brod:

“Suddenly he began to speak to the fish in their illuminated tanks. ‘Now at least I can look at you in peace, I don’t eat you anymore.’ It was the time he turned strictly vegetarian.”

3. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

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This is a book I would recommend to everyone who loves nature. It was very interesting and I learned so much from it! We, humans, are destroying everything. And our lack of knowledge isn’t helping, either. So, let’s learn! The point of this books it that trees (and plants) are living beings and they deserve respect. They also deserve that we try to understand them better.

“If we want to use forests as a weapon in the fight against climate change, then we must allow them to grow old, which is exactly what large conservation groups are asking us to do.”

4. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

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If you like reading about everyday life in different historical periods – this is the book you’ve been looking for. Also, it’s a perfect book for anyone interested in the Middle Ages. I always thought history should be taught this way – give students a real sense of how it was like to live back then. History is nnot just a list of kings and queens, a list of conflicts and wars. And it’s interesting to compare other time periods to our own. For example:

“When people declare that ‘children have to grow up so quickly these days’ they should reflect on this fact. Medieval boys are expected to work from the age of seven and can be hanged for theft at the same age. They can marry at the age of fourteen…”

5. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

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This is a different kind of non-fiction, so if you’re someone who likes to read memoir-like non-fiction, this is my recommendation for you. De Profundis is a long letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas  while he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol. It’s his reflection on his sentence, his life, his plans for the future, philosophy and literature. It’s amazing to read Wilde’s deepest thoughts during the probably hardest time of his life. I wrote a little post about what he says about nature which you can read here.

“But it is a very unimaginative nature that only cares for people on their pedestals.”

And that’s my list! Do you have any non-fiction recommendations? I’d love to know!

My Top 10 Books of 2017

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The time has come to look back on all we’ve read in the last year. Or not. Totally up to you.

I did look back, and decided to compose this list. It’s in no particular order, because I’m too indecisive, and the books are quite different one from the other so I would never be able to rank them. I’ll just put some similar books next to each other. Also, I’ve written posts abut some of these books, so I the title is clickable, you can go read the post. 🙂

The first two books that I’m going to mention are vampire books. I really wanted to find some interesting vampire books, especially after I was a bit disappointed by Prince Lestat, and in the end I managed to find these two which made me really happy.

1. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

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I’ve never read ASOISAF. And I’m not sure I ever will… But this book made me realize that George R.R. Martin is a great writer. The book is set in the 1850s USA, and it’s historical fiction as much as it is paranormal/vampire fiction. I loved the way Martin used the vampire legends, and made them his own, without straying too much from the source. It’s also a book about how dark humanity is, how prejudiced people can be, and just how capable they are of committing horrible deeds such as enslaving other people. It was a great read, and much more than a vampire novel.

2. The Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverly Lee

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I would never have heard of this series were it not for Instagram, because that’s where I met Bevery Lee. So thank you Instagram! The series is very atmospheric, and the characters are interesting. It follows a boy, Gabriel, but also quite a few other characters – some of them supernatural. I don’t want to reveal too much, since I’ve read the first two books (the third is not out yet) and I might spoil everything to you, but if you want a good supernatural novel, I think this might be it.

Now let’s move on to my favourite fantasy book (trilogy, actually) of this year. I haven’t read that much fantasy this year, but this series was so good it made up for this lack of fantasy reads.

3. The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

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This is the last book in the series, and the reason I put this one on the list is because I feel like it’s always hard to end a series in a really satisfying way. I loved the first two books, but the way everything ends is perfect. All the characters are very flawed, and nothing is sugar-coated or romanticized. I liked that the writing was slow-paced, and that the author focuses so much on the inner struggles of the characters, besides everything that is going of in this fictional world. Inquisitor Glokta is my favourite. He’s far from being a loveable character, but I love reading his snarky inner monologues. I highly recommend this book to all fantasy lovers!

The next three books all feature magical elements, but in a subtle way. They are fantasy combined with historical fiction.

4. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

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Daughter of the Forest is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Six Swans”, but it’s also so much more than that. The Germanic tale, collected by the Grimm brothers, is in this case set in Ireland and Britain and interwoven with Celtic mythology and folktales. It is magical, but it also feels very real; the fantastical and the historical creates one whole, one wonderful story. It is also a story which speaks against war and the hatred of others. And it’s wonderfully written. I enjoyed this book immensely!

5. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

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If a book is set in the Middle Ages, I’m immediately intrigued. If the Middle Ages are actually described in a more historically accurate, and less clichéd way, I fall in love with the book. Yeah, I’m simple like that. XD But this book is so well written, atmospheric, and mysterious. The characters all have a story to tell – literally and figuratively. They are all hiding something, and they are all lying about something. The story revolves around finding out the truth, and the destructive power of lies. Again – both literally and figuratively. The book is also inspired by the Canterbury Tales, since all the characters set off to a journey together in hope to escape the plague. It’s a great read, and I’ll definitely read more Karen Maitland’s books.

6. Bright Air Black by David Vann

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This one is not really historical fiction, but a myth retelling. It’s the story of Jason and Medea from Medea’s point of view and it’s just perfect. Brutal, but perfectly so. I loved diving into Medea’s mind. She’s a sorceress, a devotee of the witch-godess Hecate, and her powers and brutality really show in this book, but at the same time it’s hard not to find simpathise with her. The book is written so well, it feels like it transports you to a different world.

In the end, I have some literary fiction (I guess) books, with no magic, or paranormal.

7. Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss

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This novel is historical fiction. It’s set in Victorian England, and follows mostly female characters and their struggles to become more than society allows them to be. The main character, Ally, want to become a doctor. She’s focused on her cause, the fight for equal treatment of women and men in medicine, and become the best person she could be. Her perfecionism becomes a great burden, and she suffers from what I presume are panic attacks. She’s also under constant scrutiny of her mother who is trying to save suffering women, young prostitutes, and the poor, but is at the same time too harsh on her daughters. She wants them to know that they live in abundance while others suffer, and does it in a rigid, adamant manner. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s Ally’s sister May who seems to conctantly find a way to disobey her mother’s restrictions, their father the painter, and his friend who constantly hangs out with the girls… So many interesting relationships, and human struggles in one book.

8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Well, you’ve all heard of this one, so I won’t talk about it too much. I should have read it earlier, but I’m so glad I finally did. And the series is great, too!

9. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

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You need a little patience for this one, but it’s worth it! The psychological portrayal of characters is amazing! The story mostly follows Maggie and Tom Tulliver, a brother and sister, and their relationship since early childhood. The novels also speakks of the expectations that the women of the time had to meet. The protagonist, Maggie, is strong and smart, but the society she lives in makes her ignore both of those traits. The biggest tragedy of this novel is the fact that she could’ve achieved so much, but was not allowed to. There are also some great side characters, especially poor Philip who is constntly judged because of his physical appearence. This book is truly a classic.

10. The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir

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I talked about this book recently. It’s one of the last books I’ve read this year, and it’s amazing! It’s a collection of three stories, and every story follows daily life of a woman who is going though something bad in her life. None of these women are perfect, but the emotions and thoughts expressed in these stories are so raw and sincere, it really feels like you’re reading someone’s diary.

And that’s it! I hope you had a great reading year and that the next one would be even better! What are some of your favourite books from last year? If you did a similar list please feel free to link it to me, I’m really interested to read those posts! 🙂

Currently Reading: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir

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Everyone’s heard of Simone de Beauvoir (or at least everyone should have). She’s mosty known as a feminist, social theorist, and political activist. She’s the author of The Second Sex, a book on women’s opression which became one of the most important feminist works.

Simone de Beauvoir was also a fiction writer, though her works read almost like memoirs. The Woman Destroyed is a collection of three long stories, and so far I’ve finished the first one, “The Age of Discretion”, and since the description says all of the stories deal with similar themes, I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts of this story, before reading the others, as an introduction to de Beauvoir’s fiction.

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“The Age of Discretion” is written in first person, and it follows the intimate thoughts of the unnamed main character. Both the main character and her husband are intellectuals, she’s a writer and he a scientist. Their conversations are interesting and at times philosophical, as is the entire story. “The Age of Discretion” is, therefore, a quite erudite read, but at the same time it’s very sincere and human. It deals with everyday thoughts, insecurities, selfishness, and vanity. It’s about those little thoughts we have, but never dare express. Thoughts that belong to us, even though we don’t want to admit it.

Maybe it was during those moments, as I watch him disappear, that he exists to me with the most overwhelming clarity: his tall shape grows smaller, each pace marking out the path of his return; it vanishes and the street seems to be empty; but in fact it is a field of energy that will lead him back to me as his natural habitat: I find this certainty even more moving than his presence.

The story deals with the main character’s relationship with her husband, her son, and her own self – the past and the present, the constant change and passing of life. When it comes to her husband, she ponders on many questions. Does he still love her? Is he tired of her? Would another woman have made him happier? She cannot answer those questions, and sometimes her insecurities create more problems. She thinks too much which leads to misunderstandings.

The relationship with her son is even more complex, since he decided to take a past she did not intend for him. She feels he had made a mistakke, and cannot accept his decisions. She wants him to be a different man than he is now, and it’s hard for her to accept that. He decides not to be a professor, not to become an intellectual, and she acuses him of being greedy and only thinking about earning more money. Was that the real reason? It’s hard to tell, but for the main character it’s a great disappointment. She is watching her son become the kind of person she despises. He is not the person she tried to shape. He is his own person now, not a reflection of her ideals, and she feels that she’s losing him.

He will turn into a stranger.

The main character also struggles with her work, as her new book gets bad reviews. She sees that she’s getting old and fears she can no longer produce anything fresh and important. The world around her is changing. She is changing.

The sight of the changing world is miraculous and heart-breaking, both at the same time.

The “discretion” from the title really captures the tone of the story well. This story is mostly about things left unsaid, things we presume, though sometimes falsely, and things we are afraid to admit to ourselves. Expectations versus reality. It’s a wonderfully written story of human nature, without sugar-coating, but, in the end, still somewhat hopeful. It also shows how fragile we all are, how full of doubts.

What is an adult? A child puffed with age.

I feel like I don’t have to emphasize that I really liked the story, but, yes, I did, and I’m looking forward to reading the other two in the collection. What do you think? Have you read The Woman Destroyed? Are you interested in reading it?


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My Pet Tag: Kira & Seffi

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Oooooh, I’m so excited for this! I love talking about my chinchilla girls! I saw the tag on Sarah’s blog @dragonsandzombies where she talked about her adorable bunny Randy. I decided to put both of my chinchillas in one post because they live together and do almost everything together, so it’s kind of fitting to keep them in the same post. 🙂

Dear people, meet my chinchillas!

1. What is your pet’s name?

The older girl is named Seffi, which is short for Persephone. (It should probably be Sephie, but I preferred this spelling.) The younger one is called Kira, which is short for Valkira (Croatian for Valkyrie). I wanted their names to sound cute, but to have a powerful, mythological background at the same time, because that’s what they are – cute but powerful. 😉

2. What kind of pet is it and what breed?

They are standard grey chinchillas.

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Kira and her food.

3. How long have you had your pet?

I’ve had them since 21st April this year, which means for a little less than eight months.

4. How did you get your pet?

I’m from Croatia and this year our government legislated a new animal protection law and made fur farming illegal. Animal Friends Croatia, our animal protection group, managed to persuade some farmers to give them their chinchillas since they could no longer sell them anyway, and they managed to save 45 chinchillas from certain death. They made sure the chinchillas are healthy and then gave them for adoption. I adopted Seffi and Kira. The rest is history.

5. How old is your pet?

I don’t know for sure, when I got them they said that Seffi is about two years old, and Kira was about nine months old. So, by now, Seffi is probably about three, and Kira is about one year and a half.

6. What are some quirky things about your pet’s personality?

Everything about them is quirky! They are crazy little fluffballs! XD They like to eat and chew everything (literally everything!), so I have to cover things when I let them out of their cage. But, they always climb on my legs and chew my clothes.

Kira like to hide in dark places. She’s always trying to find a place to hide, and she even tries to dig. Her new obsession is a tube I bought for them. She also likes to let her head hang from it. She finds it comfortable for some reason.

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Kira in her tube.

Seffi is more of a jumper. She likes to jump on something high and just stare. XD It’s so funny, she looks like a statue, just staring into the distance.

They don’t like to be touched, but they’ll allow it if you let then chew on something while you’re petting them. They do, however, like to sniff me and “groom” my hair.

Also, they make the funniest faces.

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Kira: Leave me alone, I want to sleep!

7. What does your relationship with your pet mean to you?

It means so much! They make me so happy, and I hope I made their life happy, too. They make me laugh and forget about problems. I love seeing how they are slowly learning to trust me, more and more each day. They really had no trust in humans, which is understandable. They came from very bad life conditions… They lived in small, dirty cages, and were never let out. 😦

8. What are some of your favourite pastimes with your pet?

Mostly the time they spend out of their cage. They always manage to surprise me with something new. A new mischief, usually. They are very fun! I also love how they’ve learned to beg for treats.

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Yes, Seffi managed to climb on my bookshelf.

9. What are the nicknames that you call your pet?

I usually just add the suffix which denotes something small in Croatian – Kirica, Seffica. My boyfried calls Kira Fatty because she looks much fatter than Seffi. XD

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Seffi on the lookout. Both girls on the lookout. (Also, a representation of how Kira looks like a ball, while Seffi is more elegant). 

And that’s it! Hope you enjoyed this post, I sure did! 🙂