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. 😊

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! 😊

Monthly Wrap Up

September & October Wrap Up

Hello my friends!

Can you believe we are in November? Less than eight weeks till Christmas. How did that happen? 😊 Not that I am complaining, I love Christmas and am already super excited about all that magical atmosphere that is coming our way.

By the way if the non-linearity of time puzzles you as much as it puzzles me, perhaps you could join the SciFiMonth that is currently happening across this lovely book community. I am looking forward to finding some inspiration there and exploring the sci-fi genre a little bit more.

Last couple of months have been – taking a big breath – busy. You see I dislike the word busy as I sometimes use it to justify not wanting to do certain things. 😉 And it sometimes makes me feel overwhelmed – hello ‘anxiety’ my friend. Me being ‘busy’ sometimes results in me lying on a sofa watching Netflix… so yes, busy is not my favourite word but nevertheless, that’s how the last couple of months felt. 😊

Apart from working a lot, I had heaps of fun travelling. I managed to travel with my sister for our ‘girls only’ extended weekend to the German Alps and then James and I took two weeks off work, hired a campervan and went to explore British Columbia and Canadian Rockies. Both of these trips were a lot of fun, required certain degree of planning and made me stop reading all together as I was fully present in those moments with my loved ones and just did not feel like reading at all.

IMG_1794

I will write a summary of our Canadian adventure in a separate post as it was such an amazing trip. I am still buzzing from it and feel so blessed to be able to experience it. If that’s something that would interest you, please stay tuned. 😊

Books

 

 

I read seven books in September and zero books in October. September was a light-hearted month full of short contemporary YA reads. October was a month of travels. 😊

I pick The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen as my book of the month. It was my first of Sarah Dessen‘s books and I enjoy both its emotional roller-coaster as well as Dessen’s story telling style. I am planning on checking more of her books soon.

Jenny Han’s:

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1) – review here
  • S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #2)
  • Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #3)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)
  • It’s Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2)
  • We’ll Always Have Summer (Summer, #3)

My favourite out of Jenny Han‘s six books was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I did not enjoy her Summer trilogy as much as I did the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy. Han‘s books feature a lot of love triangles and I got tired of them after a while. Her sequels also slightly disappointed me as I expected more.

With that said, I finished all of those books and would recommend them for a quick and fun contemporary read.

Movies

 

 

 

Avengers – Infinity War – I finally got to watch it. I know, I sometimes do feel like I live under a rock. Anyhow, I have quite mixed feelings about it. I liked it and I didn’t. There was something about this movie that just made me left slightly disappointed. It may have been the ending… or the lack of chemistry between actors. I am glad I watched it but sadly I can not gush about it. Fingers crossed I enjoy its next instalment more.

I Feel Pretty – I watched it on a plane with a set of dodgy earphones. It may have been the plane’s environment but I pretty much forgot what it was all about right after I finished watching it…

I think it was more me rather than any of those two movies… !  😊

TV Shows

 

  • Outlander – I got back into watching Outlander and I am enjoying it. I am currently on season 2 and loving the lush and decadent atmosphere of the 18th century’s French court.
  • Mad Men – I am completely hooked on this show. I blame this show for my current lack of reading. It is just too good to resist. The characters are complex and well developed, all that drama and manipulation… oh, I’m loving it. And I can’t wait to finish it. I’m on season 5 right now so still plenty of episodes for me to watch.
  • Westworld – James and I got back into watching Westworld. I really enjoyed the season 1 but am slightly confused about season 2 so far. It could be that I have missed something … we are in the middle of this season so this ‘confusion’ may change shortly. 😊
  • Bodyguard – James and I also watched BBC’s Bodyguard. We both enjoyed this gripping show. It’s current, relevant and features a lot of tension and drama. Plus it features Richard Madden, aka the Game of Throne’s ‘King of North’ but this time, he is speaking in his native Scottish accent… what’s there not to like? 😉
  • The Apprentice – Lord Sugar’s Apprentice is back. I love watching this show with James and speculating who could win it and how contestants perform during those gruelling tasks. So much fun!

Bookish

I managed to visit a charming bookstore Café Books whilst vising Canmore in Alberta. Below are a few photos I took:

 

 

 

Of course that I could not resist and had to buy quite a few of their books. My bag’s allowance was nearly exceeded on our way back to the UK because of that. 😉

The café was really cosy and I found drinking coffee whilst being surrounded by books highly therapeutic. I need to find a place like this one near where I live. Mind you it could become rather dangerous for both my wallet as well as for our tiny house’s storage capacity!

Thanks for being here. I really, really appreciate everyone of you. ❤️ Hope you all had an amazing couple of months! ❤️

What have you been up to? Fancy sharing it with me. I love hearing from you. ❤️

Fiction

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before BookSeptember was full of contemporary YA novels. I found myself craving something to read that would relax me, bring me a bit of romance and take my mind away from work and doctor appointments.

Jenny Han’s books were a perfect fit. Side note: I read six of them in September. Clearly I was on a roll! 😊

I watched the movie version of ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ on Netflix in August (I talked about it a bit here) and become interested to learn more about Lara Jean.

What it this book about? According to Goodreads:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

The book version of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before did not disappoint. Despite thinking the movie was super cute, I preferred the book to its movie version as there is more of Lara Jean in it.

“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore.”

There is something about this book that made me happy. It might have been that that bittersweet struggle of being a teenager again, that uncertainty of who I was becoming, that obsession about certain boys and worrying about them not finding about my secret crushes… and that horror that my secret letters may have been posted to certain someone… it was a perfect emotional read.

What I liked:

Emotions!!!  Dear emotions, you are cordially invited to come to this party. 😊😊😊 There are plenty of those in this book. They range from laughter, joy, love, embarrassment, anxiety, sadness… it’s all there.

John Lennon once famously sang: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. Lara Jean’s dreaming nature is something I definitely related to. I am a dreamer. I enjoy day dreaming, visualising, pretending.. you name it. And I really appreciated that side of Lara Jean’s character.😊

What I wasn’t so sure about:

There was a certain character maturity flag that I just cannot shake off. I felt Lara Jean’s character didn’t grow as much as I would have liked her to. That especially started irritating me during the second book and completely annoyed me by the end of the third book. I think this book would have been probably the best suited for a standalone book as somehow, those two follow up books didn’t resonate with me – mind you that’s my opinion only, others may wholeheartedly disagree! 😊

I also felt there was a certain lack of female friendships – I know that Lara Jean has an extremely close relationship with her sisters and has a female best friend called Chris but somehow, that relationship felt a bit off.

Overall, it was a fun and quick read and I would recommend it.

I enjoyed the emotional aspect of it and despite Lara Jean something acting quite childish for her age; I could relate to her and ended up reading the entire trilogy. 😊


Now over to you!

Have you read this book?

  • If so, what do you think?
  • If not, do you want to read it?
Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: Anticipated Releases

Before we dive into into today’s post, let me update you on my reviewing progress. 😉

Remember all those books I promised to review in my previous two posts? Well, it would honestly helped had I wrote notes whilst reading them as I am now desperately remembering what I wanted to actually write about. Mental note to self: “Please be a dear and write notes whilst reviewing books. Your future-self will thank you for that. Ta!” I haven’t given up yet, there is still hope … ! 😉


Now the review bit is over, welcome to the ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series. I’m so glad you are here. ❤️

In case you have missed previous posts in this series, we are still talking about:


Let’s dive into today’s topic. Let’s talk about that deliciously sweet feeling of anticipation.

Why now? Firstly, I’m already kind of getting excited about Christmas and secondly, James and I have an epic, two week long road trip ahead of us, that I am have been anticipating for months, created a vision board for and just can not wait to tell you about at some point. 😊

Those two points made me think about the joy of anticipation and how it can be extended to books as well.

I love anticipating new book releases. Currently, I have three books I just can not wait to get my hands on:

  • Katherine Arden’s The Winter of the Witch
  • Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars
  • and Sarah J. Maas’ final book in the Throne of Glass series, Kingdom of Ash

I can not wait to read those but equally, I am really enjoying that feeling of anticipation. I am picturing how much I will be enjoying reading them and as I am thinking about that, I am actually creating a lot of enjoyment already for myself.

I was reading the other day a note that said that sometimes, it’s nice to have things lined up just for the sake of anticipation. Regardless of how those things actually turn out to be.

You can think about a vacation you’ll be taking. Planning it, dreaming about it, visualising who you will be spending it with, what you will be talking about, what you will be doing, how much fun it will be… and you know what? It actually doesn’t matter how that vacation turns out to be, because in your mind, you will be creating those feelings ahead of time. And will be enjoying them regardless if the ‘real deal’ delivers or not.

You can of course do the same thing with books – looking forward to reading a book yet to be written by one of your favourite authors can be extremely enjoyable regardless if you happen to enjoy that book in the end or not. It’s that long, excited and sweet feeling of anticipation you will be cultivating prior to the actual reading experience.

Yes, there is also a possibility of an anticipated event not turning up to be the way we envisioned it but that disappointment doesn’t take away those giddy months of anticipation. It may be a temporary downer, I agree, but it still doesn’t take away those feelings we felt beforehand.

Of course we can decide to play it safe and numb those excited feelings in order not to get disappointed… because you know, it may hurt a little. But if we decide to squash our anticipation, we will also numb the follow up enjoyment, should that event actually deliver.  Numbing emotions is not a selective process. Something I very vividly remember from my own past…

So here’s the deal.

Shall we make a pact to celebrate anticipation, look forward to all our eagerly awaited releases no matter what we think of them afterwards?

And let’s be bold, let’s extend that to other aspects of our lives, shall we?


Let’s chat!

Tell me what you are anticipating / are looking forward to at the moment?

As always, I love reading your comments and getting to know you. ❤️

Monthly Wrap Up

August Wrap Up

Happy 1st September my friends! I am so happy to be back. 😊

Welcome to the meteorological autumn! I know that the astronomical autumn will start on 23rd September but because I love autumn, I am embracing it from now on. Come on, what’s not to like? 😊

All those vibrant pumpkins, warm blankets and cardigans, those cosy nights in. And let’s not forget those crisp autumnal days full of wonderfully colourful leaves. Albert Camus once famously said: “autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”. And I could not agree more.

I took a month off from the ‘online world’ to slow down. I must admit it was quite an experience.

Initially, they were honestly times when I didn’t know what to do with myself. 😂 😂

For example: I was so used to scrolling down my feeds every morning and all of sudden I was like… ‘ehm, I have time. Ehm, lot’s of time… what will I do? Shall I actually read?’ It took me a while to break that ‘twitch’ – I’m referencing the fellow minimalist’s, Anthony Ongaro’s blog, Break the Twitch. If you don’t know his work, I really recommend checking it out. 😊

I slowly unhooked myself from those news feeds. And frankly I don’t know if I want to go back to them. It’s something I’m still contemplating. 😊

I know that I want to blog again and connect with my readers and carry on appreciating this lovely blogging community.

I also know that I want to use Facebook sporadically to stay in touch with my family. But… I found out that when I was not using Facebook, I actually made more of an effort to reach out. Not to not just ‘like’ photos and posts but to rather make a phone call or to meet up. Which was lovely. And gave me plenty to think about… 😉

In August, I managed to read following books:

Celeste Ng – Little Fires Everywhere – a very clever fictional novel about “planning your life” vs. “living your life”. It was an extremely enjoyable read and I am desperately craving its sequel (which is of course not planned. 😉). Full review to follow in September.

Matt Haig – Notes on a Nervous Planet (dnf) – alright, I really, really wanted to love this book. Especially as I am someone, who suffers from anxiety and sometimes do feel overwhelmed. But it didn’t click. It’s a witty book but I was either not in the right mood for it or my expectation were just not in line with what this book is all about.

Side note: it’s current GR’s score is 4.21 so clearly, it’s me, not the book.

Sarah J Maas – Catwoman: Soulstealer –  I binged on this book. It was everything I needed at that moment. Fast pace – check, action – check, banter – check, fun & complex heroine – check, romance – check… I loved it. It reminded me why I enjoy Maas’ books so much. Full review to follow for sure.

Katherine Center’s books. My favourite Dr Brene Brown recommended How to Walk Away a while ago and ever since then, I’ve been eyeing it. When it finally become available at my library, I literally could not put it down and read another two of Center’s books shortly after I finished it as I really loved her writing.

  • How to Walk Away – a very sensitive look at dealing with disability and discovering of one’s core self, once our previous identities have been taken away from us.
  • Happiness for Beginners – another ‘search for our identity’ kind of book. It’s funny, full of romance (I know, I am as shocked as you are but I am clearly on a romance roll these days, must be all that summer hot weather I think…) I loved how appreciation and gratitude were slowly built in. It was a great and quick summer read. Cover appreciation – LOVE IT!!! ❤️
  • The Lost Husband – this one was probably my ‘least favourite’ but I still enjoyed it. It dealt with grief, starting over and again, discovering of who we are and what makes us happy. I recommend it as well.

I had a nasty digestive flare up and had to take some time off work. I managed to watch some movies and TV and following sort of stood up for me:

Movies

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

  • Netflix – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – oh, this was such a cute teen romance movie. Those two main actors were just adorable, and I really, really loved it. I am seriously considering re-watching it again, it was just so sweet and brought me back so much nostalgia.

TV

UnReal

  • UnReal – I got hooked on this TV show. It’s dark, messed up and I did binge on it. It follows ‘behind scenes’ of a fictional dating show called ‘Everlasting’. It shows how some of these reality TV shows may get ‘produced’ – read ‘manipulated’. I really enjoyed it, especially the first few seasons, the forth one was a little bit of a let down but the first few ones are really, really dark and twisted.

Entertainment

michael mcIntyre

  • Michael McIntyre’s stand-up comedy show – James and I went to see Michael McIntyre and he was so hysterical. I’m still laughing remembering some of his jokes. If you don’t know him, please check him out. He is sooooo funny. 😊

Health-wise, I am still being tested and prodded. I had many tests done over the last few weeks and I am seeing my specialist next week to hear if we are getting anywhere near a concrete diagnosis. So far it’s been ‘elimination’ only but that on its own is a progress I guess. 😊

Coaching wise, I attended a brilliant three-day coaching course and I am still buzzing from it. It was so much fun. Not only am I learning how to coach but I am also growing as I am learning something new about myself every day. More to come on that note shortly, stay tuned! 😊

Thank you for reading and for being here, I appreciate every one of you. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️


Now over to you.

How was your August? Please let me know! 😊

Monthly Wrap Up

July Wrap Up

July was a month full of entertaining reads.

I completed Kristin Hannah’s “triathlon” and loved it. 😊 Hannah knows how to create long lasting emotional roller-coasters. After enjoying her The Great Alone, I wanted to read more of her other books and I am her fan now. Her The Nightingale is on my TBR list next! 🙂

I also listened to the brilliant audio version of Trevor Noah – Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, narrated by the author himself. This is such an excellent memoir, full of emotionally charged stories that explore racism, feminism and a lot more. I really, really recommend it as it left a strong impression and is possibly the best audio-book I have listened to so far.

I also did a buddy with of Leigh Bardugo’s The Language of Thorns with lovely Umut. I enjoyed exchanging our notes and discussing each of those magical stories. Thanks Umut for being such an awesome buddy reader to me! ❤️

For those interested, here’s my complete list:

Leigh Bardugo:  The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Kristin Hannah:

  1. Firefly Lane
  2. True Colours
  3. Night Road

Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Health-wise: I finally bit the bullet and went to see a doctor about my digestion. We had quite a lengthy chat and he suspects some form of IBS or even IBD being behind my symptoms. I got a referral to see a specialist in August and will start the process of being tested and prodded.

My anxiety has been at its worst. It may have something to do with being quite involved in my health and self-diagnosing myself every few days with a new diagnosis, ranging from leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Hashimoto’s, Crohn’s disease …

Also, my grandma, has been very unwell and it really hit me.

I found myself spending more and more time online mindlessly scrolling down social media feeds and feeling like crap. I also spent hours researching what may be wrong with me. To feel better, I started spending money online. Something I am not proud of and which I want to address.

I am declaring August to be my month of slow and intentional living.

I have deleted my Instagram and Twitter accounts as these both contribute to my mindless scrolling addiction and may temporarily disable my Facebook account to spend more time off-line.

This is going to impact my blog as well.

August will be my blog’s summer holiday month. 🙂

If I feel like writing posts and reviews, I’ll prepare them but will not be posting, nor will be blog hopping as I want to reduce my anxiety, which is not helping my digestion and health in general.

This is not a goodbye, just a short summer holiday with the ‘see you in September’ premise. 😊

Hope you all have a wonderful August, full of long evenings, BBQs, sunshine, laughter, time with your loved ones as well as time spent outdoors.

My plan is to carry on reading but also to finally start learning how to surf and to spend time on my life coach certification.

Thank you for reading and for being here. See you in September my friends! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

About Me, Bookish

Sunshine Blogger

I’ll start with a quick shout out to Inge from The Belgian Reviewer, that had me over at her super cool blog the other day. Inge writes stellar reviews that cover thrillers, crime fiction and much more. If you don’t know her blog yet, please go over to check it out. I wholeheartedly recommend it. 🙂

Inge, it was an honour to answer your questions, thanks so much for having me at your blog.  If you would like read my answers to Inge’s questions, you can do so over here.


Now let’s dive into today’s topic.

Lovely Azu @ BookOrbit tagged me a while ago for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Azu likes YA fiction, has an extremely pretty blog and is a very sweet person, with whom I enjoy connecting. Thanks Azu for thinking of me. 

The rules are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you by linking their blog
  • Answer their questions
  • Nominate 11 blogs with 11 questions

Without further ado, here are my answers to Azu’s questions. 🙂


  1. What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Just one? That’s impossible!

I love Tolkien’s Hobbit from fantasy, King’s The Shining from horror, Coelho’s The Alchemist from fiction, Brown’s Daring Greatly from non-fiction, Exupery’s The Little Prince from children’s fiction despite it being really meant for adults…

  1. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

I like to look at books as not meant for me, rather than them being bad.

With that said, any insta-love romance type of book usually gets me bored. Add a moody / arrogant / ‘misunderstood’ object of affection to it and I am struggling to finish it… Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series being one of them. Sorry, just not my thing…

  1. If you could be any fictional character for real. Whom would you be?

Jo Little Women

I would quite like to be Jo from Little Women.

  1. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Insta-love because it usually gives an author a pass to skip a relationship building phase, which I personally find so interesting.

  1. What’s your hobby?

Rock-climbing, yoga, hiking, staring into nothingness… and people. I honestly love people watching and it does get me into trouble sometimes… 😉

  1. What’s your dream job?

I don’t think there is a dream job per se. I think any job has a dream job potential if we start perceiving it that way and start finding aspects in it that are aligned with our values. 😊 To me, as long as I am helping others and contributing to this world, I am happy and content. 🙂

  1. Who is your favourite author?

Again, just one??? If I stick to only one, I’ll go with Brene Brown. I adore her story telling ability and well as her courage to explore some difficult topics such as shame, vulnerability and belonging.

Honorary mentions go to J.R.R Tolkien, Katherine Arden, Tamora Pierce and Leigh Bardugo.

  1. What’s your favourite genre?

The problem with me is that you can not ‘box’ me. I am so whimsical and my taste changes on a regular basis. I suppose having a consistent genre would probably help with my blog’s theme… but hey, it is what it is.

I love all sorts of genres. Non-fiction, especially psychology, philosophy, memoirs and mythologies; from fiction, it would be fantasy, psychological thrillers and psychological / character driven stories in general. Sprinkled with some horror, sci-fi and crime as well from time to time. 😊

  1. How was your day today on the scale of 10?

I did wake up, so 10 it is. 😊

  1. What got you into reading?

I think it was my family upbringing. My parents are both keen readers and our family ‘quality time together’ sometimes meant all of us reading at the same time… our own books… together…. 😊

As a child, my dad would take me for walks and let me run around a forest whilst he was reading his books. I would always enquire what he was reading, and he would start telling me stories about old Greeks, religion and science (side note: I share with him my love for non-fiction as you can tell!).

I always wanted to know more. He helped me to learn how to read before I started school and we would read together Greek myths or old Slavic folk stories.

I have always been a reader. I cannot remember not reading to be honest. Reading takes me to different worlds, honours my love of creativity as I can imagine creatures that no one has seen before. It also makes me think and helps me with my staring into nothingness hobby as well… 😉

11. What is your all time favourite TV Show?

I guess it would have to be Friends for their humour, friendship and struggles of early adulthood. But it’s on par with Gilmore Girls as I just love that mother / daughter aspect of it. Both of these shows are something I could re-watch over and over again because of that humour, human connection and feel good factor.

Honorary mentions go to Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Black Mirror and then Lost, Homeland and Game of Cards when they were at their best..


Alrighty, because I had fun answering these questions and I am quite lazy, I’ll re-use Azu‘s question for those of you, who would like to take part. 😀

If you are reading it, consider yourself tagged!

If you don’t feel answering the entire list, would you mind sharing with me:

what got you into reading?

I’d love to know! 🙂

Fiction

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoI have to admit that I do not love the cover of this book and had it not been for all those excellent reviews, I would have probably not picked it up. I am so glad I gave this book a chance despite of that cover… 🙂

So what is this book all about?

There are two fictional story-lines. One is told by Evelyn, a famous Hollywood actress that takes us back to the 50’s Hollywood and tells us her story about her husbands. Another is told by Monique, who is writing Evelyn’s memoir. Monique is a reporter, who is hoping to make a name for herself one day and is eagerly awaiting her lucky break. As Evelyn shares more of her past with her, we start seeing Monique‘s growth, something I always appreciate when reading about a character.

What are the book’s main themes?

I saw behind it a manifesto of how important is to have courage to be true to who we are. To have courage to be judged, ridiculed, outcast even, and to still stand holding our heads high despite all of that.

I also saw there a question about what a true freedom actually really is.

We are never truly free until we can admit, in front of everyone, who we are. When we stop playing it safe and let others see the real us.

“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’- that’s intimacy.” 

Then there is a feminist theme present throughout the entire book. Evelyn belongs to her husbands before she can belong to herself. She gets abused by men, has to behave certain way, must ask for permissions.

We know from the book’s title that Evelyn has had seven husbands. The story explores, who was the love of her life. We get to hear the answer quite early on in the book but still, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, who hasn’t read it yet so I will not talk too much about it.

The revelation is then, what the entire story centres around.

Imagine you found the love of your life. Imagine your perception of being with that person was skewed by how the society would perceive you, should you decide to follow your heart. Would you follow your heart?

“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

There are many moral dilemmas and many philosophical questions presented. Something I immensely appreciated.

This book made me think. And I loved it.

Evelyn is a very complex character. She sometimes uses people; she takes her chances whenever she can. And she is utterly unapologetic about it, saying she would happily do it again. She accepts herself for who she is…. yet.. there are subtle regrets. Regrets about wasted years, regrets about certain decisions.

“If I want things to change, I have to change how I do things. And probably drastically.” 

I saw a woman, who grew up poor, who was abused and who was highly driven to succeed. And sometimes she would walk over whoever would stand in her way. I disliked her for that, but her ability to admit it and to own it, made me interested in her. She is not likeable but that’s what I actually liked about her.

I also saw a lot of irony behind some of Evelyn‘s decisions. She was driven to succeed but her definition of success may have not necessarily made her happy. She later on admitted that her regrets were not related to money but rather to people.

Another message that resonated with me as I think it’s really important to define what our own definitions of success are.

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a highly atmospheric read. We are thrown into the lush and vibrant world of glamorous Hollywood during 50’s. There is also a lot of diversity involved, its pace is quick and it is a character driven story that reads fairly easily and could still be a great summer read.

Recommended: YES! This book will make you think. 🙂

Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, child abuse


  • Have you read Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?
  • What is your favourite summer 2018 read so far? Fancy sharing that with me? 🙂
Fantasy, Fiction

Circe by Madeline Miller

I discovered the magical world of Greek mythology during my childhood. I talked about it a little bit here.  I must admit that the Norse myths have always been my favourite ones but the Greek ones have followed very closely behind. Stories featuring Athena, Heracles, Prometheus, Minotaur and others are something I could re-read on a regular basis.

Reading Circe was like re-discovering my favourite soft and cosy blanket. Its story soothed my soul and brought me lots of nostalgia.

Side note: you don’t have to be familiar with Greek myths to enjoy this story by the way. It’s written in a way that no prior knowledge is required whatsoever.

I saw behind Circe a search for belonging.

The wise and wonderful Maya Angelou once famously said: “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high, the reward is great. I belong to Maya.” And to me, that’s Circe’s story in a nutshell.

“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.” 

I also sensed a very strong feminist undercurrent. The main protagonist faces a lot of discrimination because of her gender and I thought the book managed to address gender issues quite well.

But it’s the writing that really stood out for me. It is truly exquisite. It’s lyrical, extremely quotable and brought me so much joy. The pace is slow. I enjoy gently-paced stories but even I found this a tad too slow at times. If you prefer action, bear that in mind as this book may not be for everyone.

The story follows a nymph called Circe throughout her journey of solitude, explores her dysfunctional family dynamics, and shows her immortal imperfections. All sprinkled with a dash of a romance on the top.

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.” 

Ever since Circe was born, she hasn’t fitted in. Her voice is weak and her appearance is strange. Everyone from her family makes fun out of her and doesn’t take her seriously. She is not perfect despite being an immortal goddess. I think it’s her flaws and complexity that make her so relatable. She craves to be loved and accepted. As we all do. And she also wants to belong.

Circe, very early on in the book, falls in love and commits an offence, which gets her sentenced into living on her own on an isolated island. There, she starts her journey of healing and self-discovery.

There was definitely lots of loneliness involved but I also saw that Circe, despite being alone didn’t always feel lonely. You see we could be surrounded by people and still feel lonely at times. That’s something I quite appreciated about her story. How she embraces her newly discovered power and decides to follow her own dreams despite her solitude, or maybe because of it.

What’s really wonderful about this story is also how it explores mother / child relationship. How do we let go and let our children roam free? How do we accept that they may get hurt? How do we give them freedom they need, without the ability to shield them from the evil in this world? I thought that was explored beautifully via exposing mother’s fears and seeing her inner torment.

“But perhaps no parent can truly see their child. When we look we see only the mirror of our own faults.” 

There is also a little bit of romance involved. It’s not the book’s main focus but it is there.

“He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.” 

The philosophical questions such as ‘what does it mean to be alive’ and ‘what can we ask for in a relationship’ are imposed and Circe ponders about them a lot. She is an immortal with the strength to stay vulnerable. She is scared because the outcome of her actions is uncertain yet she follows through with them anyway.

She gets laughed at, ridiculed, is told she is an abomination… yet she remains gentle, kind and her spine doesn’t bend. She is a goddess with a very mortal heart.

I could go on, Circe definitely captured my heart and her ability to stand her ground, despite knowing nobody else will be standing there with her, truly impressed me.

Recommended? Yes. The ending is likely to melt your heart.

Possible triggers: Rape, domestic violence