Bookish

I am a Dragon Rider and Fantasy is my Genre #GenreTag

One of my favourite blogging friends, Alexandra, tagged me recently in the ‘This is My Genre Tag’.

If you don’t know Alexandra’s blog yet, please pop over to say hello – her posts are witty, thoughtful and full of heart.

Recently, Alexandra launched a new reading / writing project –

her SPACE FLEET Is Seeking New Recruits!

I will be taking a part in it and if you like sci-fi / fantasy please come over for a visit. I hope some of you will join us on this big space adventure. 🙂


Without further ado, let’s have a look at my favourite genre. 🙂TolkienWhat is your favourite genre?

I love many genres, but if I really, really have to choose one, it would be fantasy.

And to be more precise, it would be myth / folk inspired fantasy.

Who is your favourite author in this genre?

J.R.R. Tolkien for sure.

“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

For that bitter-sweetness his books bring me.

For that imagination, exquisite language, careful attention to detail and that hope that is felt throughout his stories. His books are extremely quotable and as a fellow dreamer, my favourite quote of his is: “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” .

I also enjoy books from Neil Gaiman, George R. R. MartinRick Riordan and Katherine Arden.

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

Imagination sprinkled with possibility.

Whenever I read historic fiction, nonfiction or fiction in general, I tend to get bogged down by details wondering if they are correct. It sometimes distracts me from the story. Fantasy on the other hand is one wild ride.

I appreciate the myth inspired stories because I’m drawn to our ancestors’ need to explain the world around them.

I also like to ride dragons from time to time and enjoy getting lost in Rivendell whenever time permits. 🙂

What is the book that started your love of this genre?

There is no book per se – my grandma and my dad would read me myths and folk legends as bedtime stories. My love for fantasy started from hearing those as a child and I still remember, as if it was yesterday, how I would ask them to read me just one more story…. 🙂

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

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – because it is a hauntingly beautiful coming-of-age story that is heavily inspired by Russian folklore.

It’s such an atmospheric winter book – perfect for this current season! 😊 My review of this book can be found here

Why do you read?

René Descartes once said: Cogito ergo sum. (I think; therefore I am.).

I would like to extend that to reading: I read; therefore I am.

How can one think without reading? That’s my logic anyhow.. 😉 😉


If you have time / haven’t done this tag already, I’d love to hear from:

Gemma | Lisa | Melanie | Orangutan | Leslie

Bookish

Experience Based Gifts for Book Lovers (Minimalist Edition)

‘Tis the Season.jpg

Wow, only two weeks till Christmas. How is it possible? I still remember very vividly last year’s festivities. 🙂 If you are a bit like me, a mildly disorganised, last minute ‘it can wait’ type of person, you may find some of those ideas below useful. 🙂

Some of you may know that I am a self-proclaimed minimalist. I like not to own too many things. I love giving experience based gifts and if asked, I usually suggest them from the receiving end as well.

My intention is not to make anyone feel bad about their own gifts. I am not against material possessions nor am I judging anyone. I just want to give you some other present ideas for your ‘bookish’ loved ones.

None of these links below are sponsored; I am stating my own opinions and am not affiliated with any of these companies below. I thought I should disclose that just in case! 🙂

  • Book talks given by favourite authors

I enjoy reading author’s parting words as well as their stories on how books of theirs came about.

Book talks give us opportunities to meet our favourite authors, find out more about their work and creative process in general. They can also connect us as we can discuss our favourite books with alike minded ‘new’ friends. 🙂

Here is a list of upcoming talks in the UK for some ideas. As I am a keen adventurer, I especially like the sound of Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Living Dangerously talk.

Book talks can also be found at authors’ pages. For example my favourite Tara Westover has an event page here.

As I am eagerly anticipating the release of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, the great news for my US based friends is that she will be touring US early next year – a lot of tickets are sold out already but you may still be of luck and grab some tickets for your loved ones that enjoy reading books from this author.

  • Bookish events – exhibitions, festivals, literature conventions

I would also label bookish events under ‘let’s connect’ category as they celebrate our favourite author’s work, we get to meet some kindred spirits and may leave inspired and giddy to read yet another book from that author. They can also be a great way of getting to know new authors.

For UK readers, here’s a rather comprehensive list of events happening next year.

I especially like the sound of Harry Potter’s History of Magic hosted by the British Library that is sadly sold out now but could be used as an inspiration for any future gifts when it’s brought back again.

By the way British Library hosts some brilliant exhibitions, some of them are even free and can be used as the ‘I’m inviting you to this exhibition as our time together gift’ if you are short on money.

For Young Adults: YALC is the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention – a celebration of the very best young adult books and authors. YALC takes place each year as part of the London Film and Comic Con. Tickets can be bought here.

  • Escape rooms for mystery readers

Taken from Wikipedia: an escape room, also known as an “escape game”, is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objectives at hand.

I think this experience based gift could appeal to those, who enjoy reading detective stories or any other stories that consist of suspense and mystery. The puzzle solving aspect as well as a group based activity, could make this a great family gift or a gift for a group of friends.

There are so many escape rooms available these days, I usually check their ratings on TripAdvisor first though.

  • Writing classes & meetups

If your loved one is a keen writer as well, why not to enrol them into some writing classes to practice their skills? I would probably check this one in advance though to prevent offending anyone! 😉

Masterclass has many, but rather pricey classes, such as the one given by Margaret Atwood.

Writing meetups could be another options. I love the idea of meeting with fellow writers in person to discuss our work. It’s again that social aspect of it that really appeals to me.

  • Gifts that keep on giving

There are many book charities out there that promote learning, reading, and education in general. I am not going to tell you, which one to support, should you decide to do so. It is a personal choice and whatever appeal to you is the best way forward.

I think donating on someone’s behalf is such a sweet gift and could make either a great stockings filler (if a donation is small) or a main gift, if you decide to go that way.

Here are a few charities but the list is definitely not a comprehensive one, so please do your own research if you wish to go down this path:

BookTrust transforms lives by getting children and families reading . It is the UK’s largest children’s reading charity. Each year they reach 3.4 million children across the UK with books, resources and support. I especially love their Spark programme.

Books2Africa is saving books from going to landfill in the UK, and is shipping them instead to students and teachers across Africa.

National Literacy Trust is working with schools and communities to give disadvantaged children the literacy skills to succeed in life.

I love Pencils of Promise for its transparency, 100% direct giving promise as well as for their belief that everyone deserves access to quality education.


There you have it my friends, my few ideas on experience based gifts.

Do you have any other ideas? Fancy sharing them with me?

Thanks for reading, I appreciate you being here. ♥♥♥

Fantasy

Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce

Wolf Speaker

Do you remember how much I enjoyed Wild Magic – aka Book 1 in The Immortals series? Just in case, your memory is as good as mine, you can check it out here.

Wolf-Speaker is Book 2 in the series. Before we dive in, let’s take a look at Goodreads’ take on it:

Diane has wild magic: the ability to talk to and sway the actions of animals. When Daine is summoned to help a pack of wolves – friends from her old village – she and her mentor, the legendary mage Numair, travel to Dunlath Valley to answer the call. But when they arrive, Daine learns that it’s not only animals whose lives are threatened; people are in danger, too.

Dunlath’s rulers have discovered black opals in their valley. They’re dead set on mining the opals and using the magic contained in the stones to overthrow King Jonathan. Even if it means irreversibly damaging the land – and killing their workers. Daine must master her wild magic if she is to save the ones she loves – both human and animal . . .

I love Tamora Pierce’s books. They tend to consist of a strong moral message and there is this sense of wholesomeness about them that just makes me so happy.

I enjoyed Wolf-Speaker but didn’t love it as much as I did its predecessor.

I think the main reason is that it felt somehow slow. I sadly found some of its parts quite repetitive, purely because our main character Daine is learning about her powers and the same scene is repeated over and over as she practices her new skill on various animals.

With that said, there was enough sensory information included that kept me engaged. I got to become a bat, a cat, an eagle, a wolf and much more. I felt Pierce really researched various animals and wrote about them very vividly at times. That was the reason why the repetitiveness didn’t feel perhaps as tedious as it could have felt had such sensual information been omitted from the book.

I also felt that villains were not developed. They got introduced but we didn’t get to know them. That made them a little bit one dimensional. I like well-developed villains to understand their motives. To see what drives them, why they became that way. Sadly, I felt this was a little bit of a let-down for me.

Let’s take a look at what worked for me:

I appreciated that this book challenged our perception of good vs. evil. Daine grows in this book again. Not only is she developing her new magical skills but her beliefs about what is good or wrong get challenged on a regular basis.

The messaging is that just because someone behaves questionably, that doesn’t necessary make them bad. And the same applies to the entire group of species, let it be humans, immortals or animals. The so called ‘goodies’ get also questioned – nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes and that’s OK. Given this is a MG book, I think there could be a very powerful lesson for our youngsters to experience.

I also enjoyed the environmental aspect of this book. We only have one planet to look after. Daine cares about the environment and the impact of a possible destruction of wolves’ habitat was explained extremely well. Again, another great learning point, to which I applaud from my end.

Despite some of the points above, I still enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading book three in the series.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves animals as they are pretty much the main characters in this book. 

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 anything by Tamora Pierce yet?

Thanks for reading and for being here! ❤️❤️❤️

Monthly Wrap Up

November Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrapUp @ UnfilteredTalesI have written this post million times in my head, usually just before falling asleep. I have finally bit the bullet and will try to put my somehow chaotic thoughts into words.

November brought me back my favourite fantasy genre. I thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by mythical creatures whilst discovering new worlds (here and here).

I also participated in the Nonfiction November – a celebration of everything nonfiction (week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4).

Nonfiction NovemberI have found some amazing blogs and will be writing a post on which nonfiction books I want to read based on all those fantastic posts from fellow bloggers I read last month.

I am an avid reader that enjoys living on different planets, solving crime mysteries, learning new skills and theories, imagining alternative words and much more.

i am a reader

Books have always been my safety blanket and I am forever grateful that there are here for me to read. With that said, I haven’t read or listened to a book for more than two weeks.

A few weeks ago, me and my family lost our beloved grandmother, whom I was very close to. I am still processing all those emotions that range from anger, sadness, grief, despair, hope etc. I am finding it hard to read right now as my attention wonders a lot and I just can not concentrate.

Side note: I’m at utter peace with not reading. I am focusing on feeling what I need to feel right now.

Before I end this post, let me tell you a little bit about the person I miss everyday.

My grandma was the type of person, who would not use heating to save money, but then she would give that money to her children and grandchildren. She taught me how to see the good in everyone, how laughter and singing can heal us and how fulfilling it is to serve others.

I lived with her during my late teenage years and learned so much about her childhood during World War II as well as our extended family history. She always cherished peanut butter as it reminded her the end of the war – when the American soldiers brought it with them whilst freeing our country.

She was my favourite person and I am so angry she had to go. I sometimes forget she is no longer with us – for example when I see something I think she would like, I immediately think ‘what a great Christmas gift this will be for her’. I sometimes think ‘I need to tell her xyz next time I talk to her’. And then I remember… Moments like these can rip our hearts open and sadness comes in another wave yet again.

I know I’m not the only one feeling a loss. Our lives are precious. I am reminding myself to let my loved ones know how much they mean to me on a regular basis.

I’m not writing this post to make you sad. I am writing it to celebrate one wonderful life that touched so many hearts.

And to let you all know how glad I am that you are here.❤️

Happy reading my friends!

Non Fiction, Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER Week 4: Reads Like Fiction

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 , Week 2 – Fiction with Nonfiction Book Pairing here and Week 3 – Be The Expert/Become the Expert here.

For those who need a recap, Nonfiction November is a month-long celebration of all things nonfiction. Each week, we’ll have a different prompt and a different host looking at different ideas about reading and loving nonfiction. This week our host, Rennie from What’s Nonfiction, has a totally new topic for us to discuss:

Reads Like Fiction (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction): Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

I always fall for a good story. And I honestly don’t mind if the story is fictional or based on real events. As I appreciate an excellent story telling, my favourite non-fiction reads that compare well to fictional reads are following:

  • Memoirs

I appreciate raw memoirs that tell us stories of growth and self-discovery. I talked about those two categories in my pairing fiction with non-fiction post here.

One of my favourite memoirs is Steph Davis‘ book Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog. Davis is a well known rock climber amongst the climbing community and appeals to me because of her love of animals as well as her fight for creating a sustainable future for our next generations. I loved her memoir as it’s full of growth, there we go again! 😉 , and talks openly about how she dealt with her loss and gave me hope in our strength to push forward and lean into discomfort when needed.

  • Journalism

Remember how much I enjoyed Jon Ronson‘s So You Have Been Publicly Shamed book? His writing belongs to a category of journalism that is very dear to me.

This category of non-fiction reads extremely well because the authors are… journalists.. .. and they have been trained to write compelling stories. 😉 I especially enjoy how these authors build their cases, a bit by bit the tension starts going up, I am hooked and want to know more.

My favourite authors that belong to this category are: Malcolm Gladwell (I absolutely love his books),  Jon Ronson and from the TV world, Louis Theroux and his thought provoking documentaries.

  • Travel documentaries

I enjoy travelling. I am also happy to go to places via a compelling travel documentary. I really enjoyed Tim Butcher‘s Blood River – a documentary of his mission to re-create the expedition of H. M. Stanley in 1870’s – travelling alone through the Congo. It’s an incredible book and I got to read it weeks after returning from Africa, which magnified my memories of this beautiful continent. Butcher is a journalist as well – which means this book would probably fit the category above as well! 🙂

  • Mythology & Folklore

I talked about myths in my pairing fiction with non-fiction post here. In my opinion, to those who love fantasy and are still reluctant to read non-fiction, folk stories are a great introduction to this particular genre.


I hope these posts somehow increased your appetite towards non-fiction. 🙂

As always, I love hearing from you – what’s your favourite ‘reads like fiction’ books amongst non-fiction? 🙂

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! ❤️❤️❤️

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. 😊