About Me

Thankful and Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US friends.

Regardless where you are from, I am grateful for this amazing and supportive bookish community. Thanks for being here and thank you for sharing your love of books with me. ❤️

I am also grateful for all those wonderful authors that entertain us and write all those magical stories for us. Thank you for creating, regardless how hard it gets sometimes. ❤️

Happy reading my friends. 📚

Fiction

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

Wild Magic

Let’s start with GoodReads‘ summary:

Wildness is a kind of magic

Discover a land of enchantment, legend, and adventure in this first book of The Immortals series, featuring an updated cover – perfect for longtime fans and newcomers alike.

Daine has always had a special connection with animals, but only when she’s forced to leave home does she realize it’s more than a knack . . . it’s magic. With this wild magic, not only can Daine speak to animals, but she can also make them obey her. Daine takes a job handling horses for the Queen’s Riders, where she meets the master mage Numair and becomes his apprentice.

Under Numair’s guidance, Daine explores the scope of her magic. But she encounters other beings, too, who are not so gentle. These terrifying creatures, called Immortals, have been imprisoned in the Divine Realms for the past four hundred years – but now someone has broken the barrier. And it’s up to Daine and her friends to defend their world from an Immortal attack.


Do you remember that time when you read a book and it made your heart sing? That’s what Wild Magic did to me. I felt so wonderfully absorbed whilst reading it and all I wanted to know was what was going to happen next.

I fully agree with Saraj J Maas’ statement of Tamora Pierce‘s work: “Tamora is a pillar, an icon, and as inspiration“. There is something about Pierce‘s books that just makes me so happy.

I’ll start with a caveat– Wild Magic is not a Young Adult (YA) book anymore. It was written when YA was slightly differently classified than how it is today. I would classify it as Middle Grade (MG) as there’s a lot of innocence in it and it’s that coming-of-age story that grabbed me and stole my heart. The content is much less mature than what YA is these days but please don’t be put off by that by any means!

Wild Magic is wonderfully charming and utterly warmed my soul. For starters, our main character Daine talks to animals. How cool is that? Ever since I was a little child, I have always pretended I could understand animals and have always ‘voiced’ their opinions.

I notice a trend in YA fiction these days that delivers those ‘I can kick anyone’s butt and I don’t need anybody’s help’ heroines, which can become after a while rather tedious and bland. I suppose they are the response to those traditional damsels in distress and frankly, I am rather fed up with both of those types.

Daine is different because she fits neither category. I so wish I read this book whilst growing up as she could have been a brilliant role model for me then. I immediately warmed to Daine as she is my definition of strength. She is happy to think for herself, decides to face her fears, asks for help when needed and is also shy and modest. Her strength is this quiet quality that doesn’t scream ‘look at me, I’m so awesome’ but rather says ‘that didn’t work, I’ll try again tomorrow’. She grows and her, sometimes naïve opinions, get slowly questioned and shaped whilst she still stays in charge of those final decisions. She decides what she will think but is also willing to listen and learn. How beautiful would that be to share such message with our youngsters?

I also appreciate how Pierce dives into breaking stereotypes – her characters teach us that it’s absolutely OK not to be able to fit in. That belonging is much more than ticking certain boxes and that family, regardless if it’s our blood one or a chosen one, doesn’t care about what we are but rather who we are as people.

Daine is flawed but also likeable. She goes through many lessons – my favourite one was what to do, when someone wants to help us but we don’t want them to as ‘they may get hurt’. The lesson from this book tells us that it is the decision for them to make, not us, despite of how much that may pain us.

I absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a charming and well-written story. There is so much wisdom and soul in Wild Magic. It’s a wonderful story full of magic that features brave and likeable characters, varying from humans, horses, dogs, cats, whales, dragons and many more.

I would like to thank to both the publisher, Pan Macmillan as well as the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. 


Now over to you.

Have you read Wild Magic?

If so, what did you think?

If not, have you read anything by Tamora Pierce yet?

As always, the fun part is the one when I get to talk to you. Thanks for being here! ❤️❤️❤️

Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Week 3 – In Search of Growth

Nonfiction NovemberWelcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find Week 1 – My Year in Nonfiction post here – and Week 2 – Fiction with Nonfiction Book Pairing here.

Today’s topic is Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert and is hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness

There are three ways to join in this week – we can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that we have read and can recommend (be the expert), we can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that we have been dying to read (ask the expert), or we can create your own list of books on a topic that we’d like to read (become the expert).

I’ve decided to roll up my sleeves and look at the topic, that is, as a life coach, very close to my heart. I feel I have read a lot of books on this topics but I’d like to read more books as well. So I’m mixing Be the Expert with the Ask the Expert categories.

Today, I would like to talk about Growth and why I firmly believe in the “it’s not about the goal but rather about the journey” concept.


I feel we live in times, when we talk a lot about achievements. Don’t take me wrong – I don’t want to dismiss them or downplay them. Achievements start bothering me when the outcome becomes the only thing ‘that matters’. When all that discomfort, courage and grind that lies behind them gets overlooked. When the primary focus is on the result, rather than its process.

I firmly believe that behind any self-development is a strong desire to grow.

But when we talk about growth, I guess the important part is how we approach it. In other words:

  1. do we want to grow become we believe we are not good enough and are hoping that if we grow, we may become someone else and will feel better
  2. or do we want to grow because we want to be uncomfortable and enjoy the process, rather than its outcome.

Those two different categories indicate from which place we approach growth, the first one is coming from a fear mindset – i.e. I need to change, I’m afraid they don’t like who I am, I am not good enough, have not enough, do enough…

The second category comes from an abundance mindset. We believe we have enough and are enough but also feel that we can still go after our dreams, face our fears, be uncertain / vulnerable, let people in – in other words, we are happy to be uncomfortable and face all emotions that come with it.

Deciding how to approach growth is critical. I always tell myself: “I will grow because I want to, not because I feel I need to.” This simple sentence can shift my own mentality profoundly.

My favourite question to ask myself is: “who am I becoming in this process“? Let’s think about it. It’s a very direct question that prompts us to look for growth and how it shapes us.

I also agree with Tony Robbins, who once said: “All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.” Without discomfort, there is no growth. And without growth, there is no story to tell. At least that’s what I believe in.😊

Which books would I recommend on this subject? I’m glad you asked!

Brené BrownDaring Greatly , Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness

“…sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.” ” ~  Brené Brown

Tim Ferriss: Tools of Titans

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” ~ Tim Ferriss

Martha N. Beck: Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live

“Fear is the raw material from which courage is manufactured.” ~ Martha N. Beck

Byron Katie: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” ~Byron Katie

Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Susan David: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life 

“Emotions are data, they are not directives” ~  Susan David

Rob Bell: How to Be Here

“It’s important to embrace several truths about yourself and those around you, beginning with this one: who you AREN’T isn’t interesting.” ~ Rob Bell


That’s just a few of my favourite books. There are many more but also, there are even more I am yet to read! So many books, so little time! 😊

Now over to you.

Fancy sharing some of your favourite books about growth and self-development with me?

As always, I would love to know!

 

 

 

 

Fiction

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

The Christmas Lights

Let’s first appreciate the book’s gorgeous cover, shall we? I must admit I am usually immune (read utterly oblivious) to books’ covers but this one really appealed to me and drew me in.

Maybe it’s the festive period, maybe it’s the stars or the northern lights… or maybe it’s the recent trip to Canadian Rockies.. who knows, I love this cover. 😊 What do you think?

Let’s start with the GoodReads blurb:

December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.

June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . .

The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.

I was intrigued by both the book’s premise as well as its settings. I am slightly curious about social media ‘influencers’ and wanted to hear Swan‘s take on them. That as well as me being able to read endless books featuring Norwegian fjords! 😉

Let’s first talk about the pace. I must admit, I found the book’s beginning slightly on the slow side and it took me a while to get into it. Once I got involved though, I could not put it down. I read and read and then read some more. And yes, I was utterly bleary-eyed the next day, courtesy of The Christmas Lights. Sadly, I found the ending slightly disappointing, mainly due to being able to guess what was about to happen. It did not spoil the overall impact the book left though as it was an entertaining ride!

There are two story-lines that intertwine throughout the book. There is the present narrative told by Bo, a social media influencer. The second story-line is set in 1936 and is voiced by Signy, a young shepherd girl. Both female protagonists have to face danger – Bo is facing an online stalker whilst Signy is on a lookout for a dangerous animal.

It took me a while to warm up to Bo. It becomes quite clear from the beginning, that Bo has a lot of unresolved issues, some of which include dealing with a terrible loss. Her solution is to get distracted by escaping to new places. Bo is a part of a couple called The Wanderlusters – the ‘action’ duo that travels the world whilst embracing daring adventures, as well as promoting products from their sponsors on the way. I found her character self-indulgent, sometimes borderline annoying… yet also vulnerable and kind. There was definitely a mixture of emotions Bo triggered in me and I appreciated that she was complex and not entirely likeable as that made her feel more real.

I also enjoyed how Swan touched on what gets presented on some Instagram feeds and how reality vs. what is shown on social media, can sometimes be two very different things.

Signy‘s story appealed to me as her character is both feisty as well as modest. Signy is a fourteen year old girl, who learned very early in life, how to live in austere conditions and who loves animals she is in charge of. I found her story very poetic but also raw and brutal at times. It’s not just the wilderness that brings danger and Signy needs to learn very quickly whom to trust.

I thought the atmosphere was excellent.  I especially loved the harshness of wintery Norwegian fjords, full of serene solidarity as well as hidden dangers.

I also started feeling quite giddy about the upcoming festive period. I dreamt about lights that shine through those dark nights as well as those delightful smells of mulled wine and gingerbread that usually surround Christmas markets, and all those wonderful feelings that come with this time of year.

I recommend this book to those, who are after an adventure, who appreciate a little bit of a love story and who want to get into a festive mood. It is a charming holiday read that may just keep you awake at night as you may want to read that next page! 😊

I would like to thank to both the publisher, Pan Macmillan as well as the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Now over to you! Do you enjoy festive reads? And is The Christmas Lights something that appeals to you? 

As always, I really want to know. 😊

Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Week 2 – Nonfiction Book Pairing

Welcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find it here.

Today’s topic is fiction/nonfiction book pairings and is hosted at Sarah’s Book Shelves blog.

For my nonfiction picks, I decided to stick to memoirs and mythology as these particular nonfiction genres tend to relate to fiction really well, are full of wonderful stories. They can be a great introduction to nonfiction for those, who are reluctant to read this genre.

Let’s take a look at my picks:

1. Stories about Survival

“We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.” ~ Isabel Allende

Kristin Hannah’s Great Alone is quite a well-known fiction (my review here). It is a beautiful haunting coming-of-age story, which takes us to hostile Alaska during the 70’s. It’s a story about survival – not just the environmental one, but the domestic one as well.

If you have enjoyed it or think you could enjoy it, then I highly recommend The Educated by Tara Westhover (my review here). It’s a powerful memoir, which covers coming-of-age story, features survival and openly talks about mental health issues, whilst drawing us in and keeping us engaged via a compelling story-telling.

2. Stories about Self-Discovery

“The longest journey is the journey inward.” ~ Dag Hannarskjold

I’m sure some of you heard of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Some of you may have seen its movie version featuring Reese Witherspoon. Wild is a memoir that deals with loss but also is a journey of discovering one’s identity. It takes us to the challenging Pacific Crest Trail, where Strayed not only started her trail, but also her journey inward.

I would pair Wild with Katherine Center’s Happiness for Beginners. Center‘s story pulled me in as the main character’s search for meaning as well as her discovering of who she was and what she stood for, really appealed to me. Plus the setting was in the mountain wilderness of Wyoming, something I found highly alluring.

3. Stories about Mythical Creatures

My last pairing is hopefully appropriate for the upcoming time of year. I am a winter person and can not tell you how excited I am about this approaching season. Winter’s coming my friends!

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein

If you enjoy J.R.R Tolkien‘s stories, especially The Lord of the Rings, I really recommend Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology (my review here).

Gaiman‘s retelling of Norse myths takes us to the land of Frost Giants, lets us be crossed with the manipulate and always speculating Locki, and delivers not only the seasonal frost but also the beautiful land of fjords and northern lights.

Tolkien was highly influenced by these myths. For example Gandalf was Tolkien‘s version of Odin, he even referred to him as an “Odinic wanderer“. Tolkien‘s references to elves, Middle Earth, Balrog and much more are all his tributes to those powerfully raw and dark myths.

Both of these books are highly atmospheric reads and could be great companions in the upcoming festive period.


Now over to you.

What would be your nonfiction with fiction pairing?

Fantasy

The Lost Sisters by Holly Black

The Lost Sisters

I am a completely whimsical reader – I tend to read in line with how I feel. For example I craved a lot of escapist fantasy early this year, then moved to nonfiction, then had a serious romance / women fiction / contemporary YA stages. I tend to get impacted by how I feel a lot, and my choice of books usually reflects this.

Why am I telling you this?

Fantasy was on hold for a while – I just did not feel like reading about mythical creatures. However I’m happy to report that this particular phase has past and that my fantasy obsession has been renewed.

And I have Holly Black‘s The Lost Sisters to thank this for.

Remember how much I enjoyed The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (review here)?

The Cruel Prince enchanted me with its complex, not entirely likeable characters as well as the exquisite world Black so craftily created. I appreciated how easy it was to dislike all her characters, how their flaws made them relatable on so many levels. And of course how our need to belong was explored.

“I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.”  ~ The Cruel Prince

I’ll start with a caveat – The Lost Sisters is a short story and I was a little disappointed, when I realised a chunk of the novella actually belonged to The Wicked King‘s introduction. Don’t take me wrong, I loved reading the beginning of The Wicked King but it was a bit of a let down to realise this book was even shorter than originally anticipated.

The format of the story is an apology Taryn is practising for her twin sister Jude and despite its length, it was marvellous to be transported back to the darkly lush and decadent High Court of Faerie.  I must admit I now crave more Faerie wickedness than ever before! 😊

“Fairy tales are full of girls who wait, who endure, who suffer. Good girls. Obedient girls. Girls who crush nettles until their hands bleed. Girls who haul water for witches. Girls who wander through deserts or sleep in ashes or make homes for transformed brothers in the woods. Girls without hands, without eyes, without the power of speech, without any power at all. But then a prince rides up and sees the girl and finds her beautiful. Beautiful, not despite her suffering, but because of it.” 

The Cruel Prince is narrated by Jude and Taryn‘s actions are described via Jude‘s interpretation of them. Let’s say Taryn did something rather questionable and I did wonder about her motives when reading The Cruel Prince. Reading Taryn‘s side of the story in The Lost Sisters was a very welcome addition to the previous book.

Did I like Taryn‘s apology? Nope, I sort of hated it as it was along the lines of  love lust made me do it’.

What I appreciated though is how complex and flawed Taryn is and how skilfully  can Black dive deep into our souls to draw those little dark demons out and let us face them via her characters.

Taryn desperately wishes to be seen and to belong. She is selfish, cruel even, but underneath her jealousy, we can see her desperate ache to be loved and accepted. Black also explores Taryn‘s fear of abandonment, to the point that I had tears in my eyes for most parts of the story.

I have to applaud Black for her ability to see our darkness and our fears and reflect them not only in the dark and manipulative Fae, but also in her human characters. It would be so easy to go down the ‘evil Fea, good humans’ route and I am so happy that Black continuously chooses not to.

I recommend this novella if you enjoyed The Cruel Prince and cannot wait to read The Wicked King as it is a lovely ‘waiting piece’ and will make the anticipation of the new release even sweeter.


Now over to you.

Can you please help me with my Fae obsession and could you recommend me some darkly delicious Fae reads please?

I loved Moning’s Darkfever as well as Kagawa’s Iron Fey books. Many thanks! 😊

Non Fiction

My Year in Non Fiction

I found out recently via Kristin’s post that there is such a thing as Non Fiction November, which is being hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Julie at JulzReads, Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves, Katie at Doing Dewey, and Rennie at What’s Nonfiction.

As I love reading nonfiction , I’ve decided to take part in this celebration.i heart nonfictionWeek 1 – My Year in Nonfiction – hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness

In this post, I would like to look back at my year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions:

  • What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

My picks are two books as both of them really touched me and left me with many thoughts that lingered for months after I finished reading those:

Educated by Tara Westover (my review here) for its testament of how we can choose not to be defined by our past and circumstances.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (review is currently being written) for Noah’s witty and extremely well articulated essays set in post-Apartheid South Africa, which cover feminism, racism and much more.

  • Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

This year, I have been drawn towards topics of feminism and racism. I really enjoyed reading We Should All Be Feminist by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (review here) and want to learn more about it in the upcoming months.

As a life coach in training, I have also been attracted towards topics that explore what makes us tick. I thoroughly enjoyed Jon Ronson’s So You Have Been Publicly Shamed (review here) and currently loving Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead as well as Seth Godin’s Linchpin.

  • What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Daring greatlyBrené Brown’ Daring Greatly because:

  • it’s not a boring factual book
  • it’s full of real stories of struggle
  • it gives me hope
  • it teaches me how to be brave
  • and because it shows me that I am not alone.

This book really speaks to my heart. Every time I hear Theodore Roosevelt’s quote below, which goes hand in hand with the book, I have tears in my eyes:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

  • What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I am hoping to discover more nonfiction as well as to connect with alike minded blogging community and to perhaps inspire some of my readers to give nonfiction a go.

There is still a common misconception out there that nonfiction is dry and… boring.

There are many nonfiction books that are full of stories of epic battles that feature both heroes and anti-heroes and I am hoping that by writing about them may pique some of your interest… yes, I do have a cunning plan!


What about you? Do you enjoy nonfiction?

If so, what nonfiction book have you recommended the most?