Top 5 Wednesday: Books That Aren’t Set In/Inspired By The Western World

top wed goth

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Samatha at Thoughts on Tomes. The guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group.


* Talk about books that are set outside of the Western World (so outside of North America and Western Europe) or if they are SFF, books that aren’t inspired by those places (so no medieval setting fantasy!) *

Sadly, I’ll have to cheat a little bit in this one… And I say sadly because it’s quite embarrasing that I’ve read so little books that are not set in the Western World. This has to change! So, since some of these books are not entirely set outside of the Western World, I decided to make a list of more than five books. Actually, I made a list of five and then an additional list of three fantasy books or books with fantastical elements that aren’t set in our world, but are inspired by a non-Western country. Here are my picks:

 

Books set in the real world

1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah

This is quite a cheat since most of the book is set in the US, but part of it is also set in Nigeria. It also speaks about race and being a black woman in the Western World, so I think it is an important read.

2. Honour by Elif Shafak

Honour

Another book that doesn’t quite fit the theme, but parts of this book are set in rural Turkey. It also speaks about immigration and being treated as “The Other”, but it also speaks about the problems people face in rural Turkey, about religious fanaticism and how easily it can be spread. It’s a powerful, painful read with no idolisation. And Shafak’s writing style is beautiful. I can’t wait to read another book by her.

3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

991197

This graphic novel is not entirely set in Iran, because it too deals with immigration. I learned a lot from it, and I highy recommend it to everyone.

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

128029

This book is absolutely wonderful! And so sad. It deals of two Afghan women whose lifes get intertwined. As Hosseini himself said, it’s a tribute to all the Afghan women who suffered so much. Just go and read it!

5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

25489025.jpg

This book is so different and mystical that it almost feels like it sould belong to the fantasy category. It’s an interesting portrayal of South Korean society, and a story of a woman’s desire to find herself despite the said society and it’s norms.

Books set in a fantasy world or with fantastical elements

1. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

Small gods

Pyramids is a stand alone novel within Terry Pretchett’s Discworld series, and it is mostlx set in Ankh-Morpork, a land which is inspired by Ancient Egypt. Terry Pratchett’s books are fun and clever, and this one is no exception.

2. Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

11276002.jpg

This book is set in the real Ancient Egypt, with the addition of some supernatural elements. Queen of Kings is a bit strange, but I liked it, though to be honest I’ve read it a long time ago so who knows what I would think of it now. XD In the book, Cleopatra doesn’t kill herself but instead makes a deal with goddess Sekhmet who then possesses her body. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but interesting.

3. Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

12974372

While the main character on these fantasy novels is from a country based on Victorian England, in each book she travels to a different part of the world. For example, in the Tropic of Serpents she travels to places based on African countries, later on she travels to places based on The Middle East etc. The books also touch upon the subject of colonisation, which is something I was very happy to find in books about dragons.

What are some of your favourite books that are not set in the Western World? I’d really appreciate your recommendations! 🙂

Top 5 Wednesday: Children’s Books

top wed goth

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Samatha at Thoughts on Tomes. The guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group.


“This can include Middle Grade (but try to recommend more than just Harry Potter and Percy Jackson!) Feel free to talk about your childhood faves or more recent reads.”

This is such a nice topic! I tried to remember the books I liked in primary school, and I came up with this list. (There are some great books by Croatian authors that loved as a child, but they haven’t been translated to English so I’ll leave them out of the list.)

1. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

DSC01120.JPG

This is the first book I remember falling in love with. I loved all the characters, and it made me believe my stuffed animals are alive, too. XD I have two Eeyore toys, he’s my absolute favourite (and you can see one of them in the photo.)

2. The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen

swan-1639154_640.jpg

Image courtesy: Pixabay.com

When I was a child, I hated unhappy endings, but Hans Christin Andersen intrigued me for some reason. When I heard that the Disney version of The Little Mermaid is based on a story by Andersen,  and that it was actually a sad story, I was a bit disappointed, but also interested to know the original story. When my mother told me that The Little Match Girl was one of the saddest stories she’s ever read, and that she still couldn’t get over it, I had to know what the story was about. Anyway, among the many tragic stories that I (strangely) grew fond of, The Ugly Duckling actually had a happy ending, but it made me cry the most. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. This story stayed with me ever since I first read it. What The Little Match Girl was for my mother, The Ugly Duckling was for me. (P.S. He’s not ugly, he’s ADORABLE, what’s wrong with you?)

3. Fear Street series by R.L. Stine

cvr9780671694111_9780671694111_hr

Anything by R.L. Stine, really. I was a horror-loving child who was scared of everything. I’m not joking, I couldn’t sleep with my lights off for a very long time, but I was always attracted to horror. Crazy, I know. I would go to the library and borrow anything with R.L. Stine’s name on it, and my library had more Fear Street than Goosebumps books, so I decided to put Fear Street on this list.

4. The Paul Street Boys by Ferenc Molnár

Paul_street_boys_sculpture_PB110359

Paul Street Boys statue in Budapest. Photo from Wikipedia.

This is a book by a Hungarian author which was required reading for us in primary school. I read it again last year because I was working in a school and my students were supposed to read it, and I think it’s a very powerful, though quite sad book. Most of my students liked it, too.

5. W.I.T.C.H.

witchposter.jpg

I loved W.I.T.C.H. comics so much I tried drawing my own version of it. And I’m not good at drawing. XD This comic is so magical, and all the girls have their own unique personalities. They had amazing powers, and they fought agains evil, but they also had problems in their personal lives. I hated the animated series, though, because they changed the story and I couldn’t accept that. XD I’d really like to know if any of you have read this? Who was your favourite? Mine was Cornelia.

Honourable mention: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

5499874

I put this book as an honourable mention because I didn’t actually read it as a child, I’ve read it a few years ago, but I really loved it! And I think I would’ve loved it as a child, too. It’s just the right combination of creepy and cute. 🙂

Aaaand that’s it. So, what were your favourite childhood reads?


If you want, we can also be friends on:

Goodreads

Instagram

Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Unlikable Protagonists

top wed goth.jpg

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Samatha at Thoughts on Tomes. The guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group.


“People always tear down “unlikeable” protagonists. But tell us the ones you pulled for!”

When I saw this topic I was very excited. I love talking about flawed characters. But, then, I realized it’s actually hard to find 5 unlikeable protagonists that I love. :O This is what I came up with in the end:

1. Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights)

giphy

I don’t think Cathy is unlikeable, but many people hate her, and I can understand why. Well, not completely… Did she make mistakes? Yes. Is she a horrible human being? No, I don’t think so. I think she was just very unhappy, and I felt sorry for her. And I liked her very much.

2. Rorschach (Watchmen)

Is Rorcharch a bad person? Absolutely. And yet, I found him very interesting and I felt really sorry for him. Having a horrible life doesn’t justify being horrible to other people, but despite being brutal, Rorschach did possess certain (questionable) ideals, and he followed them no matter what.

3. Carmilla (Carmilla)

She’s a vampire, a blood-sucking monster. But what can I say, I love vampires. XD And I actually think Carmilla kind of liked Laura. Who knows? We never heard her side of the story.

4. Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles)

giphy (4)

This is a cheat, because everyone likes Lestat. He did some bad things though, and you couldn’t call him a likeable person, um, I mean vampire. XD But I love him, and I love whiny Louis as well.

5. Severus Snape (Harry Potter Series)

giphy (7).gif

Snape is not exactly a protagonist, but I think he fits the theme well. Though many people love him, he’s not a really nice person. I completely understand people who hate Snape, and I agree with them. Yes, some bad things happened too him, but that doesn’t justify the way he acted towards Harry, Neville, and other students. Also, he was a Deatheater. However, I found him intriguing, and I have to admit I was happy that in the end he did something heroic. At that point, I kind of rooted for him, though I hate to admit it…

That’s it! Now, are there any character you like, though you feel that you should hate them? XD

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to Read More from

top-wed-goth

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Samatha at Thoughts on Tomes. The guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group.


This week’s title is quite self-explanatory. We all have those authors that we really, really want to read more from. So, let’s start with the list! These are listed in no particular order:

1. Terry Pratchett

1654.jpg

Terry Pratchett is an amazing author, and a very productive one. His books are fun and clever, they make you laugh, but they also make you appreciate Pratchett’s wit. Some also carry messages that I find very true and important. I love his books, and, luckily for me, there are many more for me to read. 🙂

2. Margaret Atwood

3472

The only Margaret Atwood book I’ve read is The Handmaid’s Tale. I know, that’s horrible and needs to be rectified! I recently bought a copy of Penelopiad, and I can’t wait to read it! The Odyssey from Penelope’s point of view? This has to be amazing!

3. Daphne du Maurier

2001717.jpg

I’ve read four of her books, and loved all of them. Du Maurier creates such an amazing atmosphere, and manages to be both descriptive and exciting. That’s something I can’t help but admire.

4. Edith Wharton

16.jpg

I loved The Agnocence and The House of Mirth. Of course I want to read more!

5. Elif Shafak

6542440

Elif Shafak’s Honour is one of my favourite books ever. Her writing is just beautiful, and she portrays the characters and their feelings very vividly, making them seem real. The themes of Honour are not happy ones. It speaks about immigration, the clash of cultures, and honour murders. I think this is an important read, which manages to present different points of view without any kind of judgement. I absolutey want to see what else this amazing author has written!


All of the photos are from Goodreads.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books that Would Make Good Video Games

top-wed-goth

I wasn’t sure what to do with this topic… I like to play video games, but most of the books I read are not very action packed. And, yes, not all video games are action games, but it was still hard to find the books that would fit this topic. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Tales of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding

62859031.jpg

This was the first series that came to mind. It would be a fun adventure, and yes, there would be lots of different action missions. It would be amazing to step into the role of an airship pirate!

2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

14497

Several Neil Gaiman books would be really fun as video games, but, in my humble opinion, this is the most game-like one. The world of London Below hides a lot of traps, and you also have to escape the creepy thugs Croup and Vandemar… A lot is going on in this book!

3. Vicious by V. E. Schwab

13638125.jpg

Victor and Eli have superpowers, and that is a great start for a game. I also think it would be interesting to be able to choose to play either as Victor or as Eli. The game could add a bit more of what they did in the meantime – especially with Eli hunting all the people with powers – before the final conflict between the two.

4. Alice by Christina Henry

23398606

This would be a great horror game, with a lot of puzzles and dialogue. Not for kids at all, though. XD This retelling of Alice in Wonderland is very creepy and violent, but I think it would look great as a game.

5. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Yes, I know Harry Potter games already exist, but I would like a game where you create your own character, and go to Hogwarts. It would be so amazing, like a combination of Pottermore and The Sims, I don’t know… XD But if we can’t go to Hogwarts we can at least play a game where we do. 😉

31ea196987047c2189eebe16ed0308ee.jpg

So, would you want to play these games?

Top 5 Wednesday: Top SFF Books on My TBR

top-wed-goth

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Samatha at Thoughts on Tomes. The guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group.


This week’s topic are fantasy and science fiction books, but the ones you haven’t read yet, but want to read SOON! There are much more than five SFF books I really want to read, but here are the six books that first came to mind so I guess I want to read them most. Yes, I said six. Five is not enough this time. 😉

1. Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

12974372.jpg

I ordered this book recently and I can’t wait for it to arrive! I loved the first book in the series, A Natural History of Dragons, which you probably know since I’ve talked about it a lot. Lady Trent is a dragon naturalist, and that is basically my dream job. I have to read this, soon! Actually, I have to read all of these books. The last one comes out in a month or so. 🙂

2. Royal Assasin by Robin Hobb

25300956.jpg

I’ve recently read the first book in the Farseer Trilogy, Assasin’s Apprentice and I can’t wait to continue with the series. I really like the main character, Fitz, the world, and I want to learn more about the Fool!

3. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

25201920.jpg

I’ve heard great things about this book. It’s supposed to be a very character driven science fiction/ space opera with aliens – which sounds amazing. My boyfriend actually bought a copy recently, so I’ll borrow it from him. Soon, of course. 😉

4. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

2761171.jpg

I don’t know much about this book, but it is set in the Middle Ages and has some magical elements, so it’s a combination of historical fiction and fantasy. I’m a bit obsessed with the Middle Ages, so this is a must-read for me.

5. The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

11699436.jpg

This is the first book in Bernard Cornwell’s series about King Arthur, and as a huge fan of Arthurian legends I need to read it! Also, I kind of want these covers… They are so pretty. (Yes, you shouldn’t judge the book by the cover, but just look at them!)

6. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

9579634.jpg

This is an epic fantasy book, also a first in the series which is often classified as dark fantasy. It’s supposed to be very, very violent and gritty, and that kind of draws me to it… I’m probably crazy. XD But I think dark and violent books can be great if done well. That’s why I can’t help being intrigued by this one.

Have you read any of these? Did you like them?

Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Angsty Romances

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Samatha at Thoughts on Tomes. The guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group.


Talk about your favorite ships that have a healthy side of angst. (definition: adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.)

I’m not a fan of romances, but it turns out there are some I can’t help but adore. Romanticism and the Victorians take the stage this time! (Tbh, most of these are not healthy at all.)

1. Catherine and Heatcliff (Wuthering Heights)

So much angst in this one! Both Cathy and Heathcliff have their issues, and they are not exactly likable (especially Heatcliff). However, they are well-rounded, complex characters and they have reasons for their actions, though that doesn’t necessarily justify them. This love story is more than a love story, and that’s what made it a classic.

giphy.gif

2. Lestat and Louis (The Vampire Chronicles)

Don’t you dare tell me theirs is not a love story! And it’s angsty as hell. Louis is angsty in general, actually. XD

tumblr_ntynucEZKS1u17twro1_500

3. Batsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak (Far From the Madding Crowd)

This is the only positive one on this list, I think. XD The relationship between these characters develops slowly, and unlike most Victorian male characters, Gabriel is actually a nice guy.

tumblr_nsubt9buWQ1r2igv7o2_250.gif

4. Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky (Anna Karenina)

There is so much pain, misfortune and angst in this love story… Most of you probably know what happens but I’m still not going to say much, because I don’t want to spoil anything to anyone. This book is wonderful, and it rings very true even today. I do have some problems with Tolstoy’s portrayal of an “ideal” love – Kitty and Levin – but I’ll leave that discussion for another time.

P.S. I actually really liked the 2012 film with Keira Knightley, though most people seem to disagree. The fact that it was filmed in a theatre is a nice way to express how people wear masks and play the roles they are supposed to (actually the roles the society expects of them). It was very artistic.

large

5. Werther and Lotte (The Sorrows of Young Werther)

Werther’s one-sided love for Lotte was the one that started (or at least made popular) a lot of literary tropes, so I had to include it. Readers identified with Werther so much that many young men comitted suicides just like he did – yes, a wave of suicides happened after the publication of this book. Sometimes the influence of books can be horrible. And even though Goethe strongly criticized the Romantic movement later on, he still said:

It must be bad, if not everybody was to have a time in his life, when he felt as though Werther had been written exclusively for him.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if you agree with this. 😉

Honourable mention: Countess Ellen Olenska and Newland Archer (The Age of Innocence)

Apparently, I don’t like romance at all! I wouldn’t call this relationship romantic, but it is very angsty – and I really wanted to include it so I’m putting it as an honourable mention. Newland falls for Countess Olenska, or to be more precise he becomes obssesed with her. She knows their relationship is doomed, but cannot help falling for him, too. Tragedy ensues…

What did you think of these books? Do you find these angsty couples as influential as I do?