Inside & Out Book Tag

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First of all, thanks to Anna@mybookishdream for tagging me to do this. It was really fun! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anna has an amazing blog, I truly recommend you all to check it out!

I know I wasn’t as active lately, but I just had so many things to do… I also adopted two chinchillas a few days ago and they have to adapt so I’ve been very focused on them. I don’t want the introduction to be too long, but I’ll explain a bit more at the end of the post, if anyone’s interested.* So, let’s get to my answers:

1. Inside flap/Back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough?

Well, it really depends, there are all kinds of summaries. I don’t think they give up too much information, but sometimes they can be misleading, which I find annoying. There are also some books with no information about the story whatsoever, and that’s really horrible. How am I supposed to know if I want the book or not? ๐Ÿ˜„ Solution: Google. But it’s still annoying. Why not put at least a teeny-tiny description?

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2.ย New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: Audiobook, E-Book, Paperback, or Hardcover?

A nice paperback. I prefer paperbacks to hardcovers, but I don’t like the really small ones, with tiny letters. I have nothing against e-books, but if I really like a book I want to have a physical copy. And audiobooks are just not for me, sadly. I cannot concentrate on them at all, my mind just wanders off. Physical copies are just the best. ๐Ÿ™‚

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3.ย Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books, taking notes, making comments, or do you keep your books clean clean clean?

I do sometimes underline a quote I like, but that’s mostly it. Lately, I decided to start writing down my thoughts on Goodreads, so we’ll see how that goes.

4.ย Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female when youโ€™re deciding on a book? What if youโ€™re unsure of the authorโ€™s gender?

I don’t care about the gender of the author. Why would I? And wouldn’t that be a bit sexist? I read the books I think I would enjoy, that’s the only criteria.

5. Ever read ahead? or have you ever read the last page way before you got there?

Oooo, reading the last page… I used to do that a lot when I was a kid, though it’s not really a logical thing to do. ๐Ÿ˜„ Sometimes I would get nervous something would not go the way I wanted it to, so I’d read the last page in hopes it will console me. I’m sure you know thet feeling. When you read something and it makes you anxious…

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6. Organised bookshelves, or Outrageous bookshelves?

Organised bookshelves. I’m running out of space so they’re not as organised as I would like them to be. The way I arrange my books may seem random, but it makes sense in my mind.

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7.ย Have you ever bought a book based on the cover (alone)?

I haven’t. I can be drawn by the cover, but I would never buy a book without checking what it’s about. I’m not that rich. ๐Ÿ˜„

8.ย Take it outside to read, or stay in?

Stay in, definitely. I rarely read outside. I like to spend time in nature, but I’m not the kind of person who takes a book, sits on a bench, and reads. I like to be at home, preferably in bed.

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And that’s it! I will tag some people, but of course, don’t feel obligated to do the tag. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sarah @betweenthepages

Marie @marieslibrary

Shanah @bionicbookwormblog

@ignitedmoth

@ardentattachments


* My country, Croatia, recently passed a law that forbids farming animals for fur (finally!) Little, fluffy chinchillas are safe now. A local animal righs group is now trying to find people to adopt the chinchillas. Sadly, only one farmer actually gave his chinchillas for adoption. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I hope others will follow. Anyway, I adopted two girls – Kira (Valkira = Valkyrie in Croatian) and Seffi (Persephone). They are beyond adorable, but still very scared, poor babies…

โ€œThis Is My Genre, Tell Me Yoursโ€ Book Tag

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Today is a perfect day for a fun tag! Ellie at Blogging for Dopamineย tagged me fo the This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours book tag and she really made me think… I wasn’t even sure what my favourite genre was! ๐Ÿ˜„ Thank you, Ellie, so much for the tag! โค

First things first, here are the rules:

  • Credit ย Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeekย as the creator of the tag, use the created tag name graphic and link back to hisย blog. (Also, if you want to learn more about the tag you can see Drew’s post HERE.)
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag as many people as you want.

And now, let’s get to the questions!

1. What is your favourite genre?

So, in the end, I decided that my favourite genre is Gothic fiction, in all of its different shapes and forms. From the Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, published in 1764, the classics such as Samuel Talylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and many others, through books that are only slightly gothic (like my beloved Wuthering Heightsย or most of Daphne du Maurier’s books) to some modern takes on the genre. This is the genre from which some amazing characters were born, characters we never stop talking about – Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, Carmilla, Dorian Gray, Jekyll and Hyde… It’s characterised by creepy atmosphere, old castles, dark woods, and often with some paranormal occurences (though not always). It is also the genre that gave us horror fiction. What’s not to love?

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2. Who is your favourite author from the genre?

Another hard decision! ๐Ÿ˜„ When it comes to Gothic classics, then it has to be Mary Shelley. I’ve talked so many times about my love for her and her writing, so I don’t want to repeat myself, but she is my queen! And my other, modern, queen is Anne Rice. She introduced me to the vampire lore and I’ve never stopped being intrigued by it.

3. What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Mostly, it’s the atmosphere. I think Gothic fiction is the most atmospheric of all fiction. It’s dark and mysterious, beautiful and desciptive, but also creepy and un-put-downable. (Is that a word? Now it is.) And there are just so many possibilities! Many Gothic stories use some folkloric elements and make them their own, which is very interesting to me. I like seeing how different authors interpret similar ideas.

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4. What is the book that started your love for the genre?

Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles – the first three in the series are soooo amazing and I love them to death. Lestat is one of my favourite fictional characters. After reading Anne Rice’s books when I was about 14, I just had to read Dracula and that’s how my little obsession started.

5. If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

If that person wants to start with Gothic classics, then I’d recommedย Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Those are my favourites. (I think everyone should read Frankenstein, even if they’re not interested in Gothic fiction, to be honest;)) If the person wants to start with something modern, then Anne Rice, of course. Or Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I think his books are approachable to (and loved by) the people who are not fans of the Gothic genre as well as those who are.

6. Why do you read?

Because that’s how I have fun! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve always loved stories, and even before I could read, my parents read to me. My father sometimes even made up stories. I learned to love reading from an early age and my love for books only grew from there. I read to have fun, yes, but I also read to learn, to feel, to be intrigued, to have my thoughts provoked, and even to cry. ๐Ÿ™‚

And in the end, I tag these lovely people: Misty@mistysbookspace,ย Matxi@matxibooks, Sophie@blameitonchocolate, Anna@itsmybirthwrite,ย Caffeinated Bibliophileย and Elena@elenasquareeyes.

Happy blogging! ๐Ÿ™‚


First two pictures are from pixabay.com, the other two are mine.

Top 5 Wednesday: Book Trends I’m Tired of Seeing

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Top 5 Wendesday is hosted by Samatha. The guidelines and topics can be found on theย Goodreads group.


This weeks’ topic ย areย theย trends in books and publishing you are tired of seeing . It may be a certain kind of cover, or a trope seen too often in a genre.

1. Whitewashed covers

“Tired of” is too mild – this is completely unacceptable and offensive. Not many books have a POC main character, and then, when one finally does, the cover shows a white person anyway. You can find many examples of this HERE.

2. “The next xy!”

Publishers do this all the time… Every book is a “new” something. So now we have many new Harry Potters andย Twilights, Girl in the Train was advertised as newย Gone Girl etc. I think that’s very annoying, and often misleading. Also, quite unfair to the new book and author.

3. Insta-love

Now, when it comes to tropes, I think a lot of them can actually be done in a good way. It really depends on how the author handles the trope. But the thing I can’t stand is insta-love. No, I do not believe in love at first sight. Attraction – yes – and that can, with time, turn into love. But WITH TIME. You cannot love a person you don’t even know. That’s more of an obssession in my opinion. Sexual attraction and/or sexual tension can be strong feelings, and can be addressed in books, of course, but they are not love. I personally love books in which relationships are slowly developed, and not only romantic ones – frienships can also take time to develop. The only time insta-love worked was in Up. ๐Ÿ˜›

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4. Who cares about friendship?

This is something I’ve noticed, but you may not agree. Books often focus on a romantic relationship, even when it’s just a minor part of the book. Friendships are quite neglected. People always talk about their “ships” and which characters they want to end up together. But what about friendship? Especially male and female friendships – I believe in them and would like to see more of them in books.

5.ย It’s destiny!

This can be related to the insta-love trope (we were destined for each other!) and more frequently to the Chosen One trope. In my opinion, destiny is not a good enough explanation for anything (to he honest, I’m not a big believer in destiny in general, so this might be just my personal preference). It feels a bit awkward to me if a character does someting because s/he was predestined to. Also, it’s been done so many times. I think life is strange and weird, and that’s what makes it interesting. I believe we all make our own paths in life. Or at least I want to believe it.

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So, those are the things that annoy me. Hopefully they weren’t too controversial. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyway, I’d like to hear what you think!

Quote for Thought: Our Hieroglyphic World

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In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs.

– Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

I’m currently reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, and it reminded me of another novel of hers, one of my favourite books ever, The Age of Innocence.

The Age of Innocence speaks about many things, but I think that it’s most of all a novel about human behaviour, the social norms imposed on people, prejudice, hipocrisy and injustice. It also deals with love, and asks whether love is even possible in this superficial world. Yes, Wharton’s novel dealsย with the morals of 1870s New York society, but many of its issues are still present today, maybe just in a different way. From the day we were born, we had to learn how to fit into different roles that we were “assigned”. Many of these we didn’t chose. And they shaped us more than we are comfortable to accept.

The quote I chose doesn’t address these issues directly, even though the book does. The quote is maybe more about language, and how we express the “real thing”. We learn to express everything by words, but words are not “real”, they are arbitrary – as Saussure discussed in his semiotics, in a completely different context, of course. And words are signs which do not denote a particular “real thing” but a category of things.

The truth is, we rely entirely on words. Words are the way we see and understand the world, categorize things, put them in their proper boxes. Without language, we would not be that same beings that we are now. We are creatures of signs. Is it so strange that, in a certain way, our society is also based on putting everything, including people into boxes? Well, no, of course it’s not the same thing. And we are, I hope, intelligent enought to know that.

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Thoughts and impressions after reading The Golem and the Djinni

New York, 1899:

CHAVA is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a Jewish rabbi. When her master dies on the voyage from Poland, she arrives alone in an unknown city.

AHMAD is a djinni, a being of fire, trapped for centuries and brought back to life by Arbeely, an impoverished tinsmith who invites him to stay in his workshop in Lower Manhattan.

Together, experiencing freedom for the first time, they form the most unlikely of friendships. But a powerful threat will soon test their bond, driving them back into their own worlds and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

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I’ve just finished reading The Golem and the Djinni, and I thought it deserved a review. The book description on the back of this chunky, green paperback got me interested. Just as expected, the book read like a fairy tale – woven with magic, mysterious characters, and a myriad of emotions.

Ahmad and Chava look at the human world with childlike naivety, but also with fear and skepticism. In a way, the novel tries to look at people from a neutral, otherwordly point of view. How would someone who knows nothing about humans perceive our weaknesses, strengths, emotions, social constructs and habits?

Ahmad doesn’t really understand human constraints at first. Human values don’t apply to the djinni. However, once trapped in the human form, he learns how his actions affect those around him. Chava, on the other hand, was made by a human. Her master decided on her character and values, he made her proper, intelligent and curious. And it was in her golem nature to be strong but obedient – once bonded to her master, the golem has to do everything he orders. After the death of her master, Chava is without purpose and has to adapt to “normal” life. She is aware of her strength, and fears for the people around her. She accepts their values and norms, and tries to live by them. Ahmad does what he wants, just as he did once, a long time ago. He wants to be free.

“I depended on no one! I went where I would and followed my desires. I needed no money, no employer, no neighbors. None of this interminable good morning and how are you, whether one feels like it or not.”

Chava would rather go mad than hurt anyone so she hides as much as possible, and she even secretly wishes she had a master again.

“To me it felt like the way things were meant to be. And when (my master) died (…) I no longer had a purpose. Now I’m bound to everyone, if only a little. I have to fight against it, I can’t be solving everyone’s wishes. But sometimes, at the bakery where I work, I’ll give someone a loaf of bread – and it answers a need. For a moment, that person is my master. And in that moment, I’m content. If I were as independent as you wish you were, I’d feel I had no purpose at all.”

Once the two characters meet, they talk about their own natures, and try to find solutions to their situation. They are the complete opposites, and make us think about the two opposing forces that drive us all – a need to be independent, and a need to be a part of a community. People cannot live alone, but they also cannot allow themselves to do only what the others think they should. That is one of the main concepts the novel deals with – the importance of being true to ourselves, while at the same time accepting the company, friendship, love and responsibility for others.

Chava and Ahmad also discuss their own impressions of what they have seen and learned about humans, each from their own point of view. I found their conversations really interesting. They pose some questions which don’t really have an answer, and make us think about ourselves and our own character. As they try to understand human nature, the reader finds out that we don’t really understand ourselves as well. At the same time, when the golem and the djinni talk about themselves, they once again pose some universal questions. What is one’s “nature” and are we all slaves to it? What characteristics are we born with and which ones do we learn?

Ahmad also has some interesting conversations with Arbeely, and it is Arbeely, a human, who says the most harsh, and to me the most resounding claim about human character:

โ€œTheyโ€™d need no reason!โ€ shouted Arbeely. โ€œWhy canโ€™t you understand? Men need no reason to cause mischief, only an excuse!โ€

It’s clear that people are capable of great evil, but they are also capable of good. The villain, who goes by few names, embodies the insatiable thirst for power and immortality. The fear of death is something that is capable of bringing out the worst in people, making them fight for their survival regardless of the consequences, and I think this is shown quite well in the novel. But sometimes, people also show the willingness to sacrifice themselves for the others, and the novel addresses this other side of human nature as well, through some other characters.

There are so many interesting characters, and it would take too long to mention them all. And I wouldn’t want to reveal too much. What I have will say is that in the end, I really feared for them. I cared about them and hoped for the best possible outcome. I also liked how the novel combined different cultures, mostly Jewish and Muslim from which the two main characters originate. It also shows New York in the end of the 19th century, a place where people from all around the world came to start a new, better life. On the one side, the readers get en insight into the life in New York tenements, and on the other side they are able to follow Chava and Anhmad and explore the empty streets at night.

Do I have something bad to say? Not really. I do wish some things were explored a little bit more, but the book was what I expected it to be. It drew me into it’s magical world and what more could I ask from it?