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 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

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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. 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! 🙂

The Liebster Award

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The lovely Rachel @paceamorelibri nominated me for the Liebster Award and her questions seemed very interesting so, of course, I decided to do this! Thank you so much Rachel! ❤ Let’s do this!

The rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the person asked you.
  • Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know).
  • Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions.

Q & A:

1. What’s your dream vacation?

I love to travel! So going anywhere where I haven’t been before would be great for me. But, at times, I just really want to stay in bed and relax all day. XD So, both is fine. Yes, I know contradict myself. To quote Walt Whitman:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

2. How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

I hate the taste of coffee (yes, I know I’m in minority here), but I love tea. I take it with just a bit of lemon juice, no milk or sugar. 🙂

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Image from: Pixabay.com

3. What’s your favorite kind of blog post to make (e.g. book reviews, monthly wrap ups, Top 5 Wednesday/Top 10 Tuesday, etc)?

I just recently started doing Currrently Reading posts, and I really like those. I think they are my favourites at the moment. I also like Top 5 Wednesday posts, though I sometimes skip them. It really depends on the topic, not every topic will suit everyone.

4.  Have you met any of your internet friends in real life?

No… They live far away. XD

5. If you had to blog about something other than books, what would it be?

Food, maybe. I really like making healthy deserts, but I’m a total beginner so I don’t know how helpful my blog would be. XD

6. What’s the best movie you’ve watched so far this year?

Split was amazing, it was the first one that came to mind because it was so memorable. I had nightmares after seeing it. XD But I loved it so much! Sadly, I still haven’t seen Wonder Woman, but I definitely will. I think I’m going to love that one.

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7. Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?

I’ve been to many lovely places, but I think nature leaves the most powerful impression on me. And I really can’t choose between Scottish and Irish nature. Impossible…

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This is one of my favourite photos from my trip to Scotland. 🙂

8. Do you name your car(s) and other inanimate objects?

I don’t have a car, but we named my mother’s car Bubi. XD And all of my plush toys have names, of course. They need names. This is not debatable.

9. Which blog that you follow do you think is the most similar to yours?  In terms of, ‘if you like my blog, you should also follow ____.’

Oh, I really don’t know… There are so many lovely book blogs here on WordPress… And I’m not sure which ones are the most similar to mine. But I would definitely recommend all of the people I tagged at the end of this post.

10. Favorite season?

Autumn! Summer has just started and I’m already kind of sick of it. It too hot here in Croatia. Yes, we can go to the beach (I hate beaches, but I like swimming in the sea. XD), but that’s the only positive side of summer. Temperatures above 30°C are horrible.

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Image from: Pixabay.com

11. Are there any genres that you refuse to read?

I don’t really like crime fiction. Finding out “who did it” is just not interesting enough for me, though some people might find that weird. I also don’t like romance books. It’s fine if romance is a part of the book, but not if it’s the entire book.

My questions:

1. What is your favourite period in history (the one you find most interesting)?
2. If you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?
3. What is your favourite TV show at the moment?
4. What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2017? (Or at least one of the best, I know it can be hard to choose.)
5. Do you have a favourite toy, from childhood or now? (Yes, I still buy toys for myself.)
6. Who are some of your favourite villains?
7. Which superpower would you choose to have, if you could?
8. What is your favourite snack?
9. If you had to choose, would you rather become a vampire or a werewolf?
10. Pirates or ninjas? 😛
11. Share a quote you really like!

I nominate:

@bloggingfordopamine // @mybookishdream // @natysbookshelf // @mia215 // @bionicbookwormblog  // @shannonpaigewaters // @spotlightonstories  // @readbychris // @dragonsandzombies // @blameitonchocolate // @quillsblog

As always, you don’t have to do the tag, of course. No pressure. 🙂

Currently Reading: The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

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“Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse”
― Joseph Brodsky

I’ve just reached the end of Before They Are Hanged, the second book in this trilogy. Overall, I really like this series, and I can’t wait to see what the finale brings!

There’s a lot to like about this series. The writing is slow-paced, which I think is a good thing. Instead of writing many fight scenes, the author really focuses on the characters – and they are all amazing and interesting. The narration is third person subjective, and we are given the story through the perspective of several characters, all of them unique. This doesn’t mean the plot is boring, not at all. There is figthing. And spirits, magic, strange creatures, torture. There’s mystery and problems to solve.

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The characters are, in my opinion, the greatest asset of this book. They are unpredictable, flawed, and very real. All of them have their own story, their own personality, and very different motivations. Neither of them is perfect, but they aren’t evil either.

Logen Ninefingers is a notorious man, perceived by many as a savage – and with a good reason. And yet, there is certain kindness and innocence about him. Sometimes, he gives very good advice, which proves he’s actually quite clever.

“Doing better next time. That’s what life is.”

– Logen in Before They Are Hanged

Jezal Luthar seems like a perfect knight. But he is vain, sometimes almost stupid. And yet, strangely likeable.

Bayaz is a wizard. The most famous one. Wise, yes, and powerful, but there’s also something dark about him.

Glokta in an Inquisitor. A torturer. He grew cruel and bitter after the painful events that had made him a cripple. But he is also smart and his snarky comments are, in my opinion, the best part of the book.

“Every man has his excuses, and the more vile the man becomes, the more touching the story has to be. What is my story now, I wonder?”

– Glokta in The Blade Itself

Ferro is a wild woman whose only purpose in life is revenge. She trusts no one. She shows kindness to no one. But there’s much more to her than what meets the eye.

There are many more interesting characters in this book, all of them layered and well-developed. All with a story to tell. What more to say? This is an amazing fantasy series, and though I’m not finished reading it yet, I think I can recommend it to all fantasy lovers.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?


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Currently Reading: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

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I said in one of my previous posts that I wanted to talk more about my current reads. So, I decided to start writing short posts such as this one in which I’m going to tell you a little bit about the book I’m reading, share some of my thoughts on it, and maybe share an interesting quote. Hope you’ll like them!

The book I’m currently reading is The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. It’s a well-known book, I think, so most of you probably know what it’s about.

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In this novella (I’d say it’s a novella since it’s only 198 pages long), Atwood allows Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, to tell her own story. Penelope talks about the events from The Illiad and The Oddysey from her own point of view. She shares her thoughts and feelings in a manner which seems very sincere. This Penelope is not just a loyal wife who waits her her husband – she actually hates that this is how she is remembered. The prose is raw, clever, and ruthless.

The very first paragraph really caught my attention, and I think it really shows what this book is about. So, I’ll leave you with this paragraph, and hopefully it will make you want to read the book. 🙂

Now that I’m dead I know everything. This is what I wished would happen, but like so many of my wishes it failed to come true. I know only a few factoids that I didn’t know before. Death is much too high a price to pay for the satisfaction of curiosity, needless to say.

Mid-Year Bookish Freak Out!

I really, really wanted to do this tag. It’s always nice to look back on the books you’ve read. So, though I wasn’t tagged, I decided to share with you some thoughts about the books I’ve read so far. Here go the questions:

1. Best book you’ve read in 2017 so far

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read it… And now I really want to watch the series, too.

Another both wonderful (though also horrifying) book I want to mention is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Even if you’re not a vegetarian/vegan and you don’t even want to be one, I think you’d appreciate reading this book. It reveals all the horrors of factory farms – and they go beyong animal cruelty (as if that’s not horrible enough). I wrote a big post about this book, a sort-of summary, so you can read that if you want to know more about it.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017

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I’ve read the last two books in Tales of the Ketty Jay series this year, and they’re just as good as the first two. So much fun! And I don’t really like fast-paced books, but this series manages to be both fun and action-packed and feature some interesting, fleshed-out characters. Every single character has his/her own story and personality, and I fell in love with them, despite all of their flaws.

3. New release that you haven’t read but want to

Definitely A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I can’t wait to read it!

4. Most anticipated releases for the other half of the year

I’m actually not expecting a new release… I mostly read old books. XD

5. Biggest disappointment

Verland: The Transformation by B.E. Scully. It’s a vampire novel, and I’ve been searching for a while for a good vampire novel. This one, sadly, didn’t meet my expectations, though I really thought I would like it. It even has some good reviews on Goodreads.

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6. Biggest surprise

I did manage to find a good vampire novel! Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin is really great! It’s set in the 1850s, in the American South, and it’s quite different from other vampire novels I’ve read. However, it’s innovative in a way that doesn’s entirely turn its back on old, well-known vampire fiction. It’s my first novel by Martin, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.

7. Favourite new author (debute or new to you)

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Maaaybe Marie Brennan. I’ve just finished Memoirs of Lady Trent series today, and I immediately googled the author to find out what else she’s written. I was actually thinking about puttting this series as the answer to the 2nd question, but I liked the first few books a bit more than the last two so I decided not to. Despite that, this series is amazing and I would recommed it to everyone who would like to study dragons. I sure would! 😉

8. Newest fictional crush

I don’t have one…

9. Newest favourite character

Lady Isabella Trent and Natalie Oscott from the Memoirs of Lady Trent. They are both smart and brave women who oppose the patriarchal society they live in and follow their dreams.

10. Book that made you cry

I rarely cry, but The Princes Diarist by Carrie Fisher really made me sad… And it was also funny at times. Carrie Fisher was such an amazing person.

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11. Book that made you happy

Reading a good book always makes me happy, though I don’t read very happy books. XD

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far (or received)

Just look at those books in the answer to the 7th question. They are gorgeous and I love them! Those dragons! ❤

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

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I don’t need to do anything! XD Jokes aside, I want to read The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. Probably some other books by Atwood, too.

And that’s it. So, what are your favourites of this year so far? 🙂

Get to Know Me Tag

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First of all, I have to thank dear Chris @readbychris for tagging me to do this! It’s always nice to get to know people better, and these posts are fun to do. So, let’s start, shall we?

Name: Irena

Nicknames: I don’t have a nickname… Irena is not that common name so I guess there was no need for one. It really bothered me as a kid, but I’m fine with it now.

Birthday: April 24th

Star Sign: Taurus

Occupation: Currently, trying to pass my teacher’s exam. XD I’m an English and Croatian teacher.


APPEARANCE:

Hair colour: It’s red now, but naturally I have that weird colour that’s not blonde or brown, but mostly grey. Mousy. XD

Hair length: About 10cm below my collarbones.

Eye colour: Grey-blue. Sometimes even a little bit green. It changes.

Best feature: Ummm… I’ll go with my eyes, I guess…

Braces: Oh, I had them for YEARS!

Piercings: None. I don’t even have my ears pierced. I pierced them when I was a child and there were some complications so now I’m scared of it and everything similar, such as tattoos! The holes are completely closed now.

Tattoos: I’d really like to have one! I think tattoos can be gorgeous. But, as I said earlier, I’m very scared of it. Maybe I’ll be brave enough someday… Now, I’d never get anything this huge, but I think this looks soooo lovely (link):

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Right or left: Is this a political question? 😛 Yeah, bad joke, anyway I write with my right hand (if that’s what I’m supposed to answer).


FIRSTS:

Holiday: I used to go on summer vacation every year with my parents, and I was very small on the first one so I don’t really remember it. XD We are lucky to live in a coastal town, and several beautiful islands are very close so it was easy to travel there and enjoy.

Best Friend: My brother was my first best friend. I was very sucky at making friends (and still am).

Award: Well, we had those “commendations” in primary school. Everyone who had As in all subjects got one at the end of the school year. Does this count? XD

Sport: I’m horrible at sports. Always have been. For a year I went to this kid’s club where we played all kinds of sports but I didn’t really like it so I gave up. In my defence, I’m doing yoga now. XD

Concert: I didn’t really go to concerts as a child. The only concert worth mentioning was the Iron Maiden concert, in 2008. It was so surprising that they came to our town (Split is not a really well-known location, if a band comes to Croatia, they usually hold the concert in the capital, Zagreb). Last summer they came back and it was as great as the first time. 😀

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FAVORITES:

TV shows: Unpopular opinion time: I don’t like to watch a lot of TV shows. Yeah, I’m weird. The thing is, they usually last too long and start to drag, and then I get disappointed… I do watch some, of course. My all-time favourite is Black Sails. Love that one to pieces! Nowadays I like Gotham. I liked Arrow but it’s not that good anymore. The one I really can’t wait to come back is Jessica Jones. 🙂

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Colour: Black. I know it’s not really a colour, but I don’t care. 😉

Song: Anything by Emilie Autumn. She’s the best. Then: White Flag by The Romanovs, Pain Looks Good on You by London After Midnight, Sleepwalking by The Crüxshadows, The First by Pink Turns Blue and many others. Oh, and the entire Queen of the Damned soundtrack! So vampire-ish! 😀

Emilie Autumn by Sopranino on DeviantArt

Restaurant: I don’t think I have a favourite…

Shop: Any nice bookshop. 😉 I don’t have a favourite clothing shop, I usually hate most of the stuff in the stores. XD

Books: I usually name Frankenstein as my favourite, but really, there are so many great books…

Shoes: I feel the best in a pair of black boots.


CURRENTLY:

Feeling: Eh… Fine. 😛

Single or Taken: Taken. My boyfriend is my best friend. ❤

Eating: Nothing. I’m thinking about going to the kitchen and having an apple. Actually, I’ll do it. Just wait for a moment, I’ll be back straight away….

Thinking About: Maybe I should’ve cut this apple in smaller pieces.

Watching: Nothing. I’m writing a post. XD

Wearing: Sweatpants and a shirt. Just regular “home” clothes. XD


FUTURE:

Want Children: Not really…

Want to be married: I want to be with my boyfriend, marriage doesn’t mean much to me.

Careers in mind: I would love to do something in publishing, but that’s almost impossible here. I would also like to study more, get an phD.

Where you want to live: Travel everywhere, live… Well, I don’t know. There are several places, but sometimes I also want to stay here.


DO YOU BELIEVE IN:

God: No…

Miracles: I believe in happy coincidences.

Love at first sight: No. You can’t love someone based on how that person looks, which is the only thing you know about them at first sight. Someone can draw your attention, and that can later turn into love, but only after you really get to know each other.

Ghosts: No. I will get scared if you tell me ghost stories, though. XD

Aliens: Yes. The universe is sooo big, I think there must be some other living beings out there.

Soul Mates: Depends how you define it… If you call someone you’re really close to your soul mate, that’s fine. I don’t believe in “predestined to find each other” kind of soul mates.

Heaven: No… I wish there was something after death, but I can’t make myself believe in it.

Hell: No.

Kissing on the first date: Well, it does exist, doesn’t it? XD

Yourself: Oh, I really wish I believed in myself more… I’m not a very confident person.


And in the end, I tag these wonderful people (and everyone else who want to do the tag!)

Ignitedmoth

Ellen@alittlebooklife

Ellie@bloggingfordopamine

Jackie@toomuchofabooknerd

Swetlana@readingthroughthenights

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 the Goodreads group.


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

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, 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 Zafón

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 Heaven 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, 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? 😉