Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin and The Death of the Author

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“Perhaps I did not do you justice, Lavinia.”

This is what Virgil himself says to the character he wrote, but never allowed to speak. In Ursula Le Guin’s novel Lavinia, Aeneas’ wife is finally given a voice. The story follows Lavinia from early childhood to her death, and almost reads as a memoir. To me, a particularly interesting part of the book was when Le Guin also gave voice to the author of the Aeneid himself. As he’s dying, Virgil appears as a spectre to Lavinia and talks to her about his work and what awaits her.

“‘And what I thought I knew of you – what little I thought of at all – was stupid, conventional, unimagined. I thought you were a blonde! But you can’t have two love stories in one epic. Where would the battles fit? In any case, how could one possibly end a story with a marriage?’
‘It does seem more like a beginning than an end,’ I said.
We both brooded.
‘It’s all wrong,’ he said. ‘I will tell them to burn it.'”

I loved how Le Guin used the fact that Aeneid was left unfinished and that Virgil wanted his work burned as a part of her own story. It also poses some interesting questions about authors and their characters. Once the characters are written, they begin a life of their own. They do not belong only to the author, they live in the minds of everyone who reads about them. It made me think of Roland Barthes and his “The Death of the Author”. One of the things Barthes points out is that the author’s intent is not what we should be concerned about. Writer, after writing a book, becomes just another reader. Barthes calls for the reader-response critial theory, the basis of which are individual thoughts about a literary work. The point is not to try to understand what the author wanted to say, but to focus on what you (the reader) think the book is saying.

“The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination.” – Roland Barthes, “Death of the Author”

I don’t think this novel is trying to make the same points as Barthes, but since I’m a reader and I have the power to say what I think, I’ll just share with you my thoughts. 😉 Le Guin’s novel makes the author just a part of the story. He created Lavinia and her life depends on him, but it also continues without him. His vision of Lavinia is not the same as her own view of her personality and her life. And while Lavinia is a character, I feel she might also be seen as a reader. Virgil tells her some of the things that are going to happen, and she gives her own opinion on them. She also reads the signs and prophecies on Aeneas’ shield. While Aeneas sees a the birth of a city, and his destiny fullfilled, Lavinia sees war and death. Both of these things are going to happen, but they are seeing them in a different way. The entire novel is basically the Aeneid seen in a different way, and from a different perspective.

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Speaking of war, I liked how the novel treats this subject. Yes, Aeneas is the hero. But does this make the wars he leads and deaths he causes acceptable? While Aeneas sees only his mission, and does what he thinks is right, Lavinia sees countless wars in the future. This doesn’t mean Aeneas is an unlikeable charater. He knows not everything is black and white, and is tortured by everything he did. He takes no pleasure in killing, and is trying to teach his son not to seek unnecessary wars. And yet, to him wars seem inevitable. Lavinia notices this, and she sees how men are raised to think of war as a part of their lives. They are raised to seek honour, and even to seek conflict. She, on the other hand, fears war, destruction, and loss. To Lavinia, war represents violence and loss of innocence, and she cannot see it as something that brings honour.

“Of all the greater powers the one I fear most is the one I cannot worship, the one who walks the boundary, the one who sets the ram on the ewe, and the bull on the heifer, and the sword in the farmer’s hand: Mavors, Marmor, Mars.”

Lavinia is not physically strong. She wants to lead a happy, calm life. And in that lies her feminine strength. She doesn’t have to be a warrior in order to be a heroine of her own story – and this is what book Virgil admits having failed to see. First he wonders why it is Lavinia who appeared to him before his death, and not his hero, Aeneas. He talks about heroism and honour, things that are important to him, but apparently not to her.

“Without war there are no heroes.”
“What harm would that be?”
“Oh, Lavinia, what a woman’s question that is.”

But in the end, Virgil sees Lavinia’s strengths. She’s clever, often cynical, but kind and caring. She is an interesting person to have a conversation with because she sees the world in a different way. Lavinia questions Virgil’s ideals, even his religion, and that’s what makes him admire her.

“Is it the gods who set this fire in our hearts, or do we each make our fierce desire into a god?”

Virgil’s fictional realisation validates Lavinia’s importance. And I think it is these metatextual elements that make this book an interesting read, despite some of it’s flaws. If any of these ramblings seemed interesting to you, then I recommend reading the book. 🙂


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Unique Blogger Award

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I have a quick, fun little post for you today! The lovely Ellie @bloggingfordopamine nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award, and asked some interesting questions. Now, it’s time for me to answer.

First, the rules:

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  • Ask them 3 questions.

And here are my answers:

1. I have so many books I’m looking forward to reading this year. What’s your most anticipated 2018 read?

It is (or actually was) Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, which is now my current read. And it’s great so far, I’ll definitely write a post about it soon. Another book I really want to read is The Sagas of the Icelanders, a collection of old Icelandic tales and sagas. It’s a huge book, but I’m sure it will be worth my time.

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2. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now that I’m older, I have even more admiration for her character. Are there any childhood favourite characters that you appreciate even more now that you’re older?

I can’t really think of one specific character for this question, but the characters from Winnie-the -Pooh as a whole really mean a lot to me. I loved then as a child, and when I reread the book I realized just how wonderful they are. They are all flawed – Piglet is always anxious, Eeyore is depressed, Pooh doesn’t understand what’s going on most of the time… But they are all supportive of each other, and accept their friends the way they are. For example, they try to mae Eeyore happy on his birthday, but they don’t expect him to change and instantly stop being sad. And they say the sweetest, most innocent things. Oh, I just love how pure those books are.

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3. My blog has changed so much since I started it. What was the topic of the first ever blog post you wrote?

My first post as a silly “introduction”. Not really interesting. XD And the first real one was about my favourite books of all time. I guess I could do a new one, since there are some books that should definitely be added to the list.

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Now, here are the questions I came up with:

1. A monster breaks into your home! (Gasp!) But it’s not a very dangerous one, don’t worry. It’s just lost, poor thing. It can easily be scared, and then it will go into the wild and live happily ever after. But you need to scare it. The only thing that comes to mind is to throw a book at it, because you’re standing next to your shelves. You obviously don’t want to throw and possibly destroy a book you love, so you grab a book you don’t like and you don’t even know why you still have it. What book do you choose?

2. You’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and you find a magical lamp. (You now it’s magical because it sparkles. Or something.) And what do you do – you rub the lamp of course. You know how these things work! And, yes, a genie comes out and says he’ll give you any superpower you want.
“But, I thought I was supposed to get three wishes!” you say.
“I’m the genie, I know how this works! You get a superpower!”
You shrug and accept the offer. A superpower is still great. Which superpower do you choose?

3. I’ll keep this one shorter, I promise. XD Now, you have superpowers, but you still need help because you’re new at the whole supernatural thing. Which character (from a book or tv show) would you choose to be your partner and best friend?

Now I will nominate some people, but if anyone wants to answer these questions, feel free to do it. I’m interested to hear your answers. 🙂

Anna @mybookishdream

Chelsea @spotlightonstories

Lola @lolaetlavie

Sarah @dragonsandzombies

Jewel @foxynerdyrebelle

Naty @natysbookshelf

Luna @bookishluna

Izzy @thinkingandinking

Maniacal Book Unicorn @maniacalbookunicorn


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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! 🙂

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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Top 5 Wednesday: Book Covers I’d Live In

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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.


This is a great topic! I’ll just start showing some lovely covers, straight away! 🙂

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone illustrated by M. Kay

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Well, we’ll just get this out of the way because, of course, I need to have a Hogwarts related book cover on this list. Everyone wants to live there. I (still) don’t own any of these editions, but I think they’re gorgeous! This is the entire illustration. Just look at this!

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2. The Wordsworth Classics Edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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It just looks so peaceful. And such a gorgeous view! Also, I really wish I could paint, but I’m very bad at it. Maybe I could learn?

3. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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How pretty is this, ha? Barcelona, here I come!

4. These editions of the first two Vampire Chronicles books

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This is how I would live if I ever became a vampire. (There’s still time, I might.) I mean, what’s the point of being a vampire if you don’t live in a big creepy house, right?

5. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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So, I get a gorgeous mansion with this one? Ok, I’m gone, bye!


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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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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? 🙂