My Top 10 Books of 2016

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Hi people, and I wish you all the best in the new year! ❤ I came back from my trip to Austria and I’m planning to share some photos with you, but I took so many so I need some time to pick and choose. Until then, let’s get back to talking about books!

The start of a new year usually means making new plans for some new beginnings, but it is also the time when we reflect on the year that has passed. I’m not really the new-years-resolutions kind of person, but I do like to reflect on the books I’ve read. 😄 I was really looking forward to this post, since I had no idea which books I would choose before checking my Goodreads account. Yes, I was certain I would include a few books that immediately came to my mind when thinking about this post, but there are also some I read early in the year and almost forgot they were actually read in 2016. Let’s get to the list (in no particular order):

1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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I read this one in January. I should’ve done it a long time ago. This is an epistolary novel told through the eyes of Celie,in her own words and broken language, but it also speaks about the lives of African-American women. It’s very sad, raw and real.

2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang 

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A strange book, in the most wonderful sense of the word. Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. That’s how the book starts. What follows is much bigger then anyone would expect. The book tackles so many issues, and all of them are hidden inside of a short, but amazingly captivating narrative.

3. Alice by Christina Henry

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Speaking of strange… This adaptation of Alice in Wonderland is extremely dark and violent, but I loved it so, so much. The way in which Henrry uses the well-know characters to make something completely new is done very well!

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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Another book I should’ve read a long , long time ago… I’ve read some of Plath’s poetry, but this book always somehow remained one of those I wantd to read, but never actually did. I’m so glad I finally read it. Plath’s prose reads almost like poetry, and the emotions this book evokes feel very, very real.

5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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“Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”

Hosseini’s writing is beautiful, and his stories are very emotional. It hurt to read this. I cried. And I loved it. And amazing tribute to the suffering of Afghan women, and an interesting story as well.

6. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

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I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about Russian folklore, but I have read some Russian fairy tales. This novel takes them all, and mixes them into an interesting, strange, dark and often confusing story. Confusing in a good way. I loved this book! It was unusual, which is always good, unpredictable, and magical.

7. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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This is now my favourite Gaiman novel. The world he creates in Neverwhere is wonderfully dark and fun at the same time, and the characters are intriguing. And the ending was great! Escapism at its best. 😄

8. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

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Next two books on the list are graphic novels. I don’t read these as much as I should, especially since the two I’m going to mention were more than amazing. Persepolis is not only interesting, it taught me a lot about Iran, its history and present.

9. Watchmen by Alan Moore (Author), Dave Gibbons (Illustrator), John Higgins (Colorist)

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Yes, I should’ve read this a long time ago, too. Watchmen is an amazing graphic novel! It poses so many questions other superhero graphic novels don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I like superheroes, but this is so much more than a superhero story. It’s gritty, dark, and very realistic.

10. Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding

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Now, something completely fun! I’ve read the first two books in the series this year, Retribution Falls and The Black Lung Captain, and I’m definitely going to read the next two soon. If you want a fun steampunk adventure with interesting characters you’ll love despite all of their faults – this is a perfect series for you! I mean – airship pirates! Who doesn’t want to read about airship pirates? 😉

Have you read any of these book? Did you like them, too?

New York Times “By the Book” Tag

I haven’t done a fun book tag in a while, and I’ve come across this one (among others) many times and thought: Well, this one sounds fun. So I finally decided to do it. J The tag was originally created by booktuber Mary Berg.

So, let’s get to the questions!

What book is on your night stand now?

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and I’m almost finished with it. It’s really fun! There’s also Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon, a double biography of the two wonderful Marys. I love them both, and I love the book as well.

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What was the last truly great book that you read?

The Vegetarian by Han Kang! I loved that book! It’s so beautifully written, and it’s very methapohorical, it almost feels like reading poetry.

But I also want to mention Alice by Christina Henry, for entirely different reasons. This retelling of Alice in Wonderland is truly disturbing, violent and bloody, but so sooo interesting. I love how Christina Henry deals with the characters, and makes entirely different stories for them, but they still have some of the essence of the original characters.

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What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

I don’t think anything’s too surprising… I read different kinds of books, and I think I talk about different kinds of books here on the blog. But I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I really like superheroes, so maybe you wouldn’t expect me to own some comics. Spider-man is my favourite.🙂

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How do you organize your personal library?

In a way only I understand, and is impossible to explain.😄 But I know exactly where every book is, so it seems it works well.

What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?

Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, a book I’ve wanted to read for so many years… I would actually like to read more Vonnegut in general. But I’m also quite embarrassed that I don’t read almost any contemporary Croatian authors, and I’m from Croatia. I definitely should…

What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

I actually like to read different things, depending on my current mood. Classics are always a go-to when I’m not sure what to read next, and I like to read about history. I’m also drawn to magic, in its different shapes and forms. And I like to read about different cultures… So, when I think about it, I guess I like to read about anything that I can’t experience myself, anything different and unknown.

The only thing I don’t read are contemporary romances. I just don’t find them interesting… Romance is fine as a part of the story, but I don’t like it to be the entire story.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? 

That’s an interesting question.😄 I don’t really like our (Croatian) president. (Sorry, not sorry.) She should read something nice and heart-warming, maybe something about a different culture, to make her more open-minded. For example A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. That’s such a beautiful, sad book… Or, if I was feeling mean, I’d give her something really, really boring to read.😉

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What do you plan to read next?

I’ll probably continue with the Shades of Magic series, and after that – who knows! I don’t usually plan ahead, it’s best to read the books you’re in the mood for. And who knows what mood I’m going to be in after A Gathering of Shadows.😄

And that’s it! Since I wasn’t tagged to do this, I won’t tag anyone, but if the questions seem interesting to you, I’d like to hear your answers. 🙂

3 Days 3 Quotes – Day 3

And, the last day of the tag has come… Who to quote but the great Terry Pratchett. I could quote him for days, but this time I had to choose just this one quote…

First of all, here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post three different quotes in three consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

And thank you Nicole, one more time, for thinkking of me and tagging me. 🙂

Now, here’s the quote of the day, from Terry Pratchett’s novel Small Gods:

Fear is a strange soil. It grows obedience like corn, which grow in straight lines to make weeding easier. But sometimes it grows the potatoes of defiance, which flourish underground.

So, yeah, I definitely recommend Terry Pratchett to everyone. 😄 And, the last three people I tag are: Shyla, Pen2Needle and breaktheenigma. Have fun with the tag, if you want to, of course. 🙂

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3 Days 3 Quotes – Day 2

It’s day two of the tag! I would once again like to thank Nicole for tagging me! 🙂

Here are the rules for the tag:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post three different quotes in three consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

And my today’s quote is from Just Kids, a great book by Patti Smith:

I learned from him that often contradiction is the clearest way to truth.

Today I nominate these wonderful bloggers: Lia, Erika and Emma. You are, of course, under no obligation to do the tag, but if you think it might be fun I’d love to hear the quotes you like. 🙂

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3 Days 3 Quotes – Day 1

First of all, thank you so much Nicole for tagging me! This is such a simple but wonderful tag. Nicole’s blog, Sorry, I’m Booked, is really great and you should all check it out. 😉

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post three different quotes in three consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

I decided to start with a quote from my favourite book, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It’s a long one, but it just couldn’t be shortened. 😄

These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings. Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle, and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with disgust and loathing.

The bloggers I nominate today are: Ellie MaloneyJeanyjanez and Ren. Of course, no pressure, you don’t have to do the tag. 🙂

Happy blogging!

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My Top 10 Books of 2015

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Dear bloggers, I wish you a very happy 2016!

For my first post of the year, I decided it was the best to look back on the books I’ve read in 2015. Compiling this list took me longer than I expected it to. I’ve read quite a lot of books this year and it was hard to choose the top 10.  Of course, these books are in no particular order. I could never list them in order, I think. 😄 Mostly because I like them for different reasons.

Without further ado, I’ll start the list with a few classics and then I’ll move on to more contemporary literature. Also, I noticed that I’ve already posted about or at least mentioned most of these books on my blog, which is expected since I like talking about books I liked. 😉 Therefore, I won’t talk a lot about each particular book. It would make a too long post anyway…

1.Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy

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This is a true classic – a wonderfully written story with a great heroine who makes mistakes and will drive you crazy at times, but you’ll still love her. My post on a little piece of this book can be found HERE.

 

 

2. North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell

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Another classic I think everyone should read, even though I feel it’s not talked about that often. Once again – a great, and strong heroine, who takes care of her entire family and still finds time to be kind. This novel is more than a love story – it deals with social issues and the way of life in the industrial North.

 

3. Ivanhoe, by Sir Water Scott

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As I mentioned several times before, I’m obsessed with everything medieval, even when it’s not that historically accurate. I really liked the Romantic Medievalism of Ivanhoe and the way in which Walter Scott uses some elements of medieval literature.

 

4. The Once and Future King, by T.H. White

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I’ll continue with the Middle Ages. The Once and Future King is a retelling of Arthurian legends. I had a lot to say about it, so I dedicated not one but two posts to it. 😄 (POST 1, POST 2)

 

 

5. Just Kids, by Patti Smith

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This book is Patti Smith’s memoir about her youth and life with her friend/lover Robert Mapplethorpe. It’s also a book about art and artists. It made me cry (and I don’t cry that often) but at the same time, it remained somewhat hopeful. Simply wonderful. My post about it can be found HERE.

 

6. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett.

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For me, 2014 was a year marked by Terry Pratchett. However, this is the only book of his I’ve read this, I mean last, year. On the bright side, it might be my favourite. Small Gods is a stand-alone novel of the Discworld series, which means you can read it even if you’ve never read a Discworld novel before.

 

7. Horns, by Joe Hill

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What I like about this book is how strange it is. Yes, I’ve read even stranger, but it’s still very interesting. For me, it’s a book about pain, and the evil we all have inside of us. But it’s also more than that.

 

 

8. Honour, by Elif Shafak

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This book is just wonderful! The writing, the believable characters, the non-judgemental way in which it deals with difficult topics such as immigration, culture, religion and even honour murder… Everything. If you want to know more, I wrote a post about Honour and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adicihe – find it HERE.

 

9. Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adicihe

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The book mentioned earlier, Americanah, is another book which deals with culture and, most of all, race. It is also a love story, but underneath it, it hides much, much more.

 

 

10. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

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Last but not least. Actually, it might be the least, but I enjoyed Water for Elephants despite the love story and the ending being a little too cheesy. Sometimes, you need cheesy. 😄 What I loved about it is that it’s dedicated to all the poor elephants who suffered and were even killed in circuses. Animal rights are an important issue for me and I liked how the portrayal of the circus life is not romanticized as it often is. The book is also well reasearched. I found it captivating. 🙂

 

As an honourable mention, I’ll add another book to my list.

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The book is Stonehenge, by Bernard Cornwell. I wanted to mention it because it made me want to read more Bernard Cornwell, especially since people seem to be saying that this isn’t one of his best novels, and I really liked it. It takes place 4000 years ago and deals with the building of Stonehenge, so what’s not to like? 😉

 

And in the end, I’ll also mention a manga series I really loved.

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Paradise Kiss has only 5 volumes (and there’s also a 3-volume edition). It’s about a girl who becomes a part of the fashion world after meeting a group of designers. But most of all, it’s about growing up and finding yourself. And it was very fun, though heartbreaking at times. Ai Yazawa’s manga are always heartbreaking…

 

Hope you enjoyed my list and, please, feel free to share some of the books you loved in 2015! 🙂

Learning and Thinking with the Help of Fiction

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I’ve recently read two really great books and I wanted to mention them on my blog, so, in the end, I decided the best thing to do was to talk about them together. After all, they have something in common.

The first book is Honour by Elif Shafak, which I already mentioned in an award post. The book actually deals with quite a lot of topics, but the central theme is an honour murder about which the reader learnes in the first chapter and is held in the grip of its imminence. The novel depicts everything that lead to the murder, for the most part the way of life in Kurdish villlages in Turkey, and all that followed. Since certain characters leave Turkey for London, it also explores the issues of living in a culture different than your own and the danger of being influenced by extremists. This is presented in a way which doesn’t propagate anything, but only opens the door of understanding and gives the reader something to think about. The story is spread through three generations, and it follows multiple points of view, but it never gets confusing. The characters seem very real, and the language is gorgeous. Even though the main event of the novel is an honour murder, and at points it gets very sad, the reader cannot help but notice just how beautifully Elif Shafak writes. And even though the novel is sad, I didn’t find it depressing – in the end, it’s even hopeful. After reading it, I immediately decided that I would read more of Shafak’s novels in the future.

The other book I want to talk about is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This one is, I think, quite well-known. The novel follows two Nigerian characters, Ifemelu and Obinze, and is at first sight a love story. Except that it is not really a love story. The book deals with immigration, culture, social classes, and most of all with the issue of race. In comparison to Honour, which touches on similar topics, Americanah is much more factual, especially the parts presented through Ifemelu’s point of view since, after moving to USA, she starts a blog about her experiences as a “Non-American Black”, as she puts it.  A lot can be learned about Nigeria from this book, just like Honour gives an insight of rural Turkey. And just as in Honour, the characters in Americanah are very real and believable. Even though both books were a pleasure to read, they also made me think and taught me a lot. And isn’t that the best combination one could wish for?

Even though I liked Honour a little bit more, I’m aware that’s just a case of personal preference, and I would recommend both books with equal vigour. But most of all, I would recommend reading books about the issues or cultures you may not be as familiar with. There are so many books like that out there. I can add another example – The Golem and the Djinni, a book about which I wrote before. (see the post HERE)

Learn about the world you live in as much as you can! Happy reading! 🙂