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! 🙂

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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! 🙂

The Fall for Books Tag

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Soooo, Autumn is almost over, and I still haven’t posted this tag. I haven’t posted anything lately, actually… I won’t go into details, but, you know, life happened, and I just needed some time away. Another reason is that, even though I really want to go back to writing this blog, I’m just not feeling very inspired at the moment. I want to make this blog better, but I’m not sure how, so I just stopped writing. Anyway, let’s do this fun tag and hope for the best, shall we?

Thank you dear Rachel @paceamorelibri  for tagging me, and I’m sorry it took this long. :*

THE RULES

  • Please link back to this post so I can see your answers!
  • Have fun!

One of the first books you fell in love with:

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. That’s the first book I remember falling in love with. The characters were plush toys which talked, and I was obsessed with plush toys (I still am, to be honest). What child doesn’t want their plush toys to come alive? My favourite was Eeyore. Sad little donkey stole my heart forever.

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A book you knew you were going to love from the first page

There are a few, but the last book I fell in love with from the very beginning was Bodies of Water by Sarah Moss. This book deals with many important topics, mostly the position of women in Victorian England, but it’s also very subtle. It is full of details, emotions and thoughts of the main charater(s). This is the first Sarah Moss book that I’ve read, but I will definitely read more.

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A book you didn’t think you would love as much as you do

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo. I’ve read it for college, and I expected it to be good, but I didn’t expect it to become one of my favourite books ever. It’s so sad, but the author also makes some jokes which was unexpected. I just loved everything about this book! P.S. The Disney film is different, of course, and much happier, but it’s still the darkest Disney film. And I think it’s really underestimated!Just listen to the villain, Frodo, singing Hellfire. It’s terrifying and amazing!

The character who will always have a place in your heart

Well, I already mentioned Eeyore. XD So for this question I’ll say Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, because she’s the first who came to mind. I loved her. And, also, some Harry Potter characters, of course.

Character you love on the page, but would never want to meet in real life

I usually really like flawed characters, though I’d probably not like them in real life. Now, my favourite character from comics EVER is Poison Ivy. I just adore her! But, in real life, she’d probably be very terrifying. That’s why I love her. 😉

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Literary couple you will ship until the day you die

Lestat and Louis from The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I mean, who doesn’t ship them, right?

An author whose writing style you fell in love with

Daphne du Maurier, definitely. She is able to draw me into the story and create a wonderful atmosphere. I just wish I could write like that, create something that would truly make the readers feel what the character is feeling, and experience the world of the novel.

A book recommended to you by a friend/family member that you quickly fell for too

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was recommended to me by a friend, and I loved it. It was so heart-wrenching and wonderful. The author actually dedicated it to Afghan women, who suffered so much throughout history, and are still suffering. He tells the story of two women, and I just can’t say who I liked more.

Piece of book-related merchandise that you had to own

I actually own more comics merchandise than book merchandise. I have two Spider-man and two Deadpool T-shirts, and this Spider-man mug. I also have a tiny Kafka mug, which is for decoration, not to drink from.

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An author whose works you love so much that you auto-buy/borrow their new releases

I really can’t think of one… Most of my favourite authors are dead. XD But I assume Sarah Moss might become one of those. Han Kang, too.

And that’s it! I’ll tag a few people now, and I hope you’ll have fun with the tag (bot no pressure to do it if you don’t want to). 🙂

Anna @mybookishdream

Beatriz @booksnreviewsohmy

Amanda @acourtofbooksandlove

@bookowly

Lana @lifeinwordsandlyrics

Julie @juliedavide


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Quote for Thought: Nature in Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis

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Well, I may be misusing the title. Yes, this quote might spark some questions, but more than anything it’s a quote so beautiful you’ll want to simply enjoy it.

“Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none ay track my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”

De Profundis is a long letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, whom he called Bosie, while he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol.

I may not agree with Oscar Wilde on everything, but I found De Profundis very captivating. I loved reading Wilde’s thoughts on art as much as I liked reading about his feelings and the way he’s coping with his imprisonment. His final words, the ones quoted, left a lasting impression on me. Just a paragraph ago, I was reading his interpretation of Hamlet, and than he turned it all around, and became very personal. The entire text is like this. It’s scholarly and emotional at the same time, it’s personal but with many universal thoughts.

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The idea of finding comfort in nature has always co-existed with alongside the idea of technological progress. Humans have always tried to separate themselves from nature. We built houses, towns and walls. We developed a civilisation (or civilisations). But, of course, we cannot live completely divided from nature. Sometimes, it seems like we’re not aware of that. We are destructive. We suck the life out of our planet. And, apparently, we choose to deny that any of the problems we’ve created even exist, or we just don’t care. Yes, there are many people who are trying to make a difference, but they are still just individuals. Not much is changing on the global scale.

People get scared of spiders, flys, and other insects, though most of them are completely harmless. We fear nature. We always have. We don’t want anything to disturb our secluded lives, without relizing that the world we have created is probably just as dangerous. Society doesn’t treat everyone fairly. “Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me”, Oscar Wilde says. How many people have felt the same?

I’m not pretending to be better or more intelligent that other people. I’m exactly the same. (Except for the fear of spiders. I like spiders, but there are insects that make me feel uneasy.) I don’t have a solution, nor do I think there really is one. A perfect world doesn’t exist. Still, we should think about it. Try to do little things, or even big things, that may make a difference. The idea of nature as something wild and dangerous may be woven into the very fabric of our being, but the idea of nature as a nurturing mother is just as powerful. And I think it’s a very important part of who we are.

Twittering Tale: Among the Trees

Twittering Tales challenge is hosted by Kat Myrman. The goal is to write a twitter-length story, in 140 characters or less, based on the prompt image. You can see the challenge HERE.

This week’s photo is so beautiful! Here’s my little tale:

Among the Trees

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People are destructive. It’s better without them, among the trees.

But they might come, with their trucks and saws.

I’ll be ready.

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books Featuring Witches

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


These can be “witch books” or books that happen to feature witches as characters, whether they are main characters or side characters. 

So, to be completely honest, I haven’t read that many great “witch books” so for some of these answers I’ve taken the term in a broader sense. Here goes the list!

1. Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

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This is the first book in the Discworld series in which the witches appear, though there are more of them in the series. As I’ve said many times before, Discworld series is fun and clever at the same time, and I think everyone can find something they like in these books. Even the book titles are witty – rites sounds the same as rights – equal rights. Which is fitting because the main character is a girl who wants to become a wizard, not a witch, even though girls are supposed to be witches while boys are supposed to be wizards. It’s a silly rule and she decides to break it.

2. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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The Three Witches are crucial for the plot of this great play. Also, The three witches from the Discworld series are actually inspired by the Three Witches from Macbeth. Pratchett’s second witch novel, Wyrd Sisters, alludes to Shakespeare many times. The title of the novel is also a nod to Macbeth. Witches in Macbeth are called Weird Sisters (or Weyward), and weird here comes from the Anglo-Saxon wyrd which means fate or destiny. The name tells that witches are foretellers of fate, which also makes them connected to Fates from the Ancient mythology.

3. Wicked by Gregory Maguire

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To be honest, I like the ideas presented in Wicked more than the actual execution, but I still think this book is worth mentioning. I’ve actually never seen the musical, which I’ve heard is great, but maybe one day… And, of course, The Wizard of Oz is another great book with witches. 😉

4. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

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Now this is the case when I mention witches in a bit broader sense. Narigorm is a rune-reader, but she is also much more… I can’t actually reveal anything else because it would be a spoiler, but I certainly think she could be considered a witch. Company of Liars is a very interesting, atmospheric book, set in the Middle Ages, and I would really recommend it. You can read more of what I thought about it HERE.

5. Bright Air Black by David Vann

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Bright Air Black is a retelling of the myth of Medea. Is Medea really a witch? This could be debated, but the other character certainly do call her that. And it’s an amazing book worth mentioning every time I get the chance. 😉 You can read more about it HERE.

And that’s it! Do you have any books with witches to recommend?