Monthly Wrap Up

April Wrap Up

In my March Wrap Up, I was somehow processing how quickly that particular month went by. I must admit this trend continues and I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that we are in May. 🙂 🙂

March was a fairly slow month reading-wise and April felt somehow even slower. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy reading at present. I just simply can not decide what I want to read, which usually results in me staring into nothingness and day dreaming instead. Not that I mind, it’s just a bit hard to write book reviews when you are actually not reading anything🤔

Anyhow, James and I took a week and half off work at the end of April and enjoyed our time off in Dartmoor National Park – a vast moorland in the county of Devon, in southwest England. It was a serene experience, we would wake up to bird songs, enjoy the tranquillity of moors where wild ponies kept us the only company. Our dog loved it as well and keeps on telling me that we need to book another holiday sometime soon. I better listen! 😉


I managed to read three books in April. I must admit that I loved them all and despite my slow reading pace, there were highly enjoyable reads.

  • Educated by Tara Westover, 5 stars  Review here

This was the book of the month for me.

Educated is a powerful testament of how we can choose to stop being defined by our past. It is a thought provoking memoir that left me with a strong feeling of unease long after I finished reading it.

I’m still thinking about this book and have a feeling it may become the book of 2018. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… there are still many months to go… 😉

  • Tangerine by Christine Mangan, 4 stars  Review here

Tangerine is a psychological thriller that made me pause sometimes to fully digest what I just read. The relationship between two female protagonists was highly toxic and reading about it was unsettling at times. There were many mind games involved and I was engaged till the end.

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, 4 stars  Review to follow next week

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store” was another enjoyable read.

It is not a ‘How to’ guide but rather a memoir documenting a year long journey of a self imposed shopping ban. I have been following Cait’s blog for some time and really enjoy both her writing as well as her thought provoking topics. Its review is to follow next week, promise!


And that’s April done and dusted.

Now over to you my friends.

What was your favourite book you read in April?

Fantasy

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I have a confession to make. I want to be liked. I can be whoever I need to be for you to like me.

Why am I telling you this?

I don’t enjoy criticising. Trust me, the irony of starting a critical book review blog is not lost on me. I did it on purpose though. I want to push myself whilst battling those inner demons of mine. 🙂

With that said: DING DONG, DING DONG, a not so popular review coming your way.


wintersongWintersong is narrated by Liesl and follows her quest to save her sister Käthe, who is taken underground by the Goblin King.

“There is a law that for spring to begin, a life of a maiden must be given to the land. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth.”

If you are thinking of the film Labyrinth, you are on the right track.

It is a retelling of Labyrinth that was also inspired by the poem Erlkönig by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.
“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!

~ Erlkönig translated by Edgar Alfred Bowring

Initially, I picked Wintersong because of its haunting writing. But sadly, this book was not meant to be. Don’t be put off by what I am about to say. This book has received many five star reviews and maybe I was just not its target audience.

Let’s break it down. I felt the entire book could have been summarised in a page. I felt, not much happened throughout the story.

Then there was Liesel, whom I found exasperating. She would fulfil her dreams via her younger, ‘gifted’ brother, whilst being envious of her ‘beautiful’ sister. She would not honour her own gift of music composing as she was afraid to be judged.

She was described as ‘plain’ – seemingly having a ‘character’ was not something she would recognise as necessary.

I guess I was supposed to like her as she ‘sacrificed’ herself to stay underground instead of her sister. Regrettably, I did not see her offering as a true sacrifice as she fancied the Goblin King and had an inner motive to stay.

She was jealous, judgemental, insecure and full of self-loathing. I would consider a character experiencing all of those traits intriguing as long as there was a growth potential. Liesel did not evolve, a missed opportunity perhaps, and for that, I found her tedious and annoying.

Let’s talk ‘real problems’, shall we?

  1. The romance between Liesl and the Goblin King troubled me.

It is below par to portray dangerous ‘monster’ men as romantic heroes.

“I am” he whispers, “the monster I warned you against.”
“You are,” I say hoarsely. “the monster I claim.” 

It may appear ‘thrilling’ to some but I have enough drama in my life without having to invite a monster into it, thank you very much.

In my opinion, such messages may influence someone into tolerating an abusive behaviour whilst justifying it as ‘oh, he/she is a monster now but he/she is ‘my’ monster’.

  1. Liesel’s radical transformation after she had sex bothered me.

BOOM BOOM BANG BANG, a girl has sex for the first time and suddenly, all her misery disappears as she becomes a happy ray of sunshine.

Not only did Liesel Elisabeth start feeling like a new person, she also finally saw herself as a woman. Something that could be interpreted as sex being a ritual into one’s adulthood. Such message irritated me, especially as this genre targets young adults.

Maybe it was just me, maybe I was in a foul mood, who knows. Sadly, Wintersong was not my thing.

Verdict:  Hot Beverage on Apple  (1/5)

Monthly Wrap Up

February Wrap Up

MonthlyWrapUp @ UnfilteredTales

Hello fellow readers,

Can you believe it?

We are in March already!

I know, I know… how very observant of me…. 😉

Still, how is it possible that this year is literally flying by. 🙂

Hope you all had two wonderful winter months and that, like me, you are ready for the Spring. 🙂

“Dear Spring, whenever you are ready, I will really appreciate your warmth and sunshine!! Sun With Face on Samsung Experience 9.0

For those interested, here is what I read in February:

 

YA / Fantasy:

Crime / Thriller:

Non Fiction:

February was a busy reading month.

What definitely stood out for me was both Heartless and The Smoke Thieves.

Both very different yet utterly indulgent reads I did not want to put away.

Unfortunately Wintersong was a bit of a let down despite its gorgeous writing.

What stood out for you in February? And did something disappoint you?

Here’s to another great month of reading!Books on Apple iOS 11.2

 

Fantasy

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

uprooted

Growing up in, then communist Czechoslovakia, my childhood memories are full of Russian and Slav folk stories and re-discovering some of them recently has been tremendous fun.

Side note: for Russian inspired fantasy novels, some of my favourites are:

How dare them to write such beautiful stories that caused me so many sleepless nights!! How dare them… 😊!!

Now without further ado, let’s have a look at Uprooted:

Uprooted is inspired by Polish fairy tales and it reminded me a bit of The Beauty and the Beast story.

The main character, Agnieszka (Nieszka), lives in a quiet village near the mysterious and highly corrupted Wood.

“There is something worse than monsters in that place. Something that makes monsters.”

The Wood is being kept in check by the Dragon, who is a wizard that demands a price for his service – a company of a village girl for ten years of her life since the age of 17.

The book begins with Dragon’s choosing ceremony held every 10 years. He happens to choose Agnieszka instead of her best friend, Kasia, rumoured to be taken instead. Agnieszka is then ‘trapped’ in the Dragon’s tower serving him and slowly learning magic.

I honestly loved most parts of this book. I thought the pace was wonderful, I loved that slow build up of dread and how wonderfully dark, borderline creepy, the atmosphere was. Battles were not romanticised and were described in a horrible, yet believable manner and Agnieszka’s character thoroughly suffered through them in a very realistic way.

“Yesterday, six thousand men had marched over this road; today, they were all gone.”

Agnieszka is this clumsy but clearly ‘special’ peasant girl that has intuitive magic inside of her that clashes with her teacher’s magic, which is based on studies and is backed up by science. I know this may annoy some, but I personally liked it. I rely on my Intuition (despite calling myself a scientist 😉) and I believe we all have a certain inner wisdom and letting it speak to us is not necessarily a bad thing….

Now let’s explore a few ‘problematic’ things:

•  Early on in this book, Agnieszka narrowly avoids being raped. This is when I started disliking the Dragon’s character. The way he suggested it could have been ‘her fault’ made me see red. I don’t mind twisted and torn characters, but I thought the Dragon was a real a$$hole and I just could not see anything likable about him…

.. which makes me move to my second point:

•  The romance part didn’t work for me. The teacher (moody, irritable, controlling) vs. his student (defiant, more talented and rebellious) dynamic was just… no thanks. Those two didn’t care for each other that much and the ending was just a bit weird.

What stood out for me was the Agnieszka and Kasia friendship. Those two were clearly in love with each other. Maybe, it was a platonic, fiercely strong friendship kind of love. But regardless of what kind of love it was, I really rooted for them. There was something special about them and I thought they complemented each other well and cared very deeply for each other.

Overall, I enjoyed this book despite those few points above.

It brought me back to my childhood and Novik’s skilful spread of dread was just phenomenal.

Verdict:  Hot Beverage on Apple   Hot Beverage on Apple   Hot Beverage on Apple   Hot Beverage on Apple    (3.5/5)