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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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This book is set in the real Ancient Egypt, with the addition of some supernatural elements.Β 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

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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! πŸ™‚

In First Person: Update

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In First Person is a monthly meme here on Books and Hot Tea. Every first of the month I talk about a certain lifestyle topic I’m passionate about. Feel free to leave comments and chat with me!


Yes, I know the first day of June was yesterday, but I’m not too late. XD Anyway, I wanted to write this In First Person post as a little update on the last few weeks of my life. As you may have noticed, I wasn’t very active lately, so first I’ll explain why.

The Teacher’s Exam

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source: Pixabay.com

That’s how I decided to call it anyway, since I don’t think there is a correct translation – the literal one would be “professional exam” but it sounds silly. Let me explain, or skip if you don’t care. Here, in Croatia, we are actually being prepared for working in schools in college, if we choose to. After graduating college, we’re supposed to have an apprenticeship in school. And after that we have this horrible, stressful exam. Not easy to become a teacher, ha?

Anyway I passed the exam! Yaaay! I cannot even explain how stressful it was. It’s a three-part exam: the written essay, one lesson in front of a class you’ve never seen before, and an oral exam. I spent two months studying for it, and now it is all done! After I finally passed the exam, I felt happy but quite drained. And that’s why I took a little break from this blog. Hopefully, I’ll be back now. πŸ™‚

What I’ve Been Reading

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Yes, this is me. XD

This is a book blog, after all, so let’s talk about books! Of course, I didn’t have a lot of time to read, but I managed to squeeze some reading into my schedule. The most important news is that I’ve finally read The Handmaid’s Tale, and I even wrote a little post about it. It’s such an amazing book, and I’m definitely going to watch the series.

After that, I read Verland: The TransformationΒ by B.E. Scully, and, sadly, I was very disappointed… I had really high expectations for this vampire novel, but it was not atmospheric at all, and I expect vampire novels to have a nice, gothic atmosphere. Also, there was this cringeworthy romance that I just couldn’t stand… Earlier this year I’ve read Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin, and if you want to read a vampire novel, I’d go with that one. This was my first book by Martin (no, I haven’t read ASOIAF, sorry) and I loved his writing. A different vampire novel, but not in a way that it goes too far away from the source (though what the source really is could be discussed).

And then, I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I liked this book, but for some reason I expected more… The ending was really, really good, though. And I loved this quote:

Chiron had said once that nations were the most foolish of mortal inventions. ‘No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from.’

And now I’m continuing with The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. I’ve mentioned many times before that I love A Natural History of Dragons, so it was high time for me to finish the series. I’m so happy to return to this world! And all the dragons! πŸ™‚

Future Plans

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First of all, I want to write more posts on this blog. I plan to write more about the books I’m reading, which I didn’t really do so often before. I don’t usually write reviews, I prefer to concentrate on one point I found interesting, but maybe I should try to write some reviews, too. Mostly, I think I’ll stick to the Quote for Thought posts.

I also want to get back to writing fiction. I’ve neglected it a bit lately… And I want to keep my Instagram (or should I say bookstagram) account alive, and to make more use of Goodreads. I’ve been using Goodreads mostly as a list of books read and to-be-read, but now I decided to connect with some people and even write reviews from time to time. It’s also a great place to write down interesting quotes as I read. And last, but definitely not least, I hope I’ll find a job soon. XD

And that’s all from me for now, hope you’re having a great Friday! Read you soon! πŸ™‚

Top 5 Wednedsday: Books I’ve Felt Betrayed by

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


Beware the Ides of March! What books (or characters) did you feel betrayed by, for whatever reason…big or small.Β 

It’s an interesting topic, so let’s get started:

1. Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice

First of all, I LOVE the first three books of The Vampire Chronicles. Love them to pieces and always will. The fourth one, Tale of the Body Thief,Β was not that good but, though I had some issues with it, it didn’t disappoint me completely. Memnoch the Devil was quite bad… And that made me so sad. From the day I read it, I decided to treat The Vampire Chronicles as a trilogy, because it really went downhill for me. Still, Lestat is amazing, so everything is forgiven. XD

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2. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz ZafΓ³n

I loved The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, so when the third book in the series came out I was more than excited. Though The Prisoner of HeavenΒ ties up the two previous books, it wasn’t as magical as they were. It was, and I’m so sad to say it, quite boring…

3. The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I didn’t expect much of this book, but when I started it I though I might be wrong. It seemed it would be interesting. And then – it wasn’t. I don’t care about the forbidden love of the two main characters! I wanted magic, and danger, and mystery! But a forbidden love story was all I got.

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4. The Fire by Katherine Neville

This book is a sequel to The Eight,Β a book I found very interesting. It is a perfect example of why I prefer standalones to series. This sequel was completely unnecessary. And boring. Though I read these books quite a lot of time ago, I still remember the general storyline of The Eight, but I have forgotten what happens in this one. I only remember the disappointment.

5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

I really though I would love this one. The premise seemed great, and many people love it. In the end, I didn’t like it at all. Reading it was a painful experience to me and I almost didn’t finish it. Don’t hate me, please!

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So, that’s it! No hard feelings, eh? πŸ˜‰