Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: Reading Challenges and the Art of Failing

 

 

Reading Challenge

As some of you know, I’ve created a ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series where we can talk about book related topics and which I started with a TBR list discussion. If you haven’t read it, you can check it out here.

I’ve decided to talk about Reading Challenges as that’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately as well.


Early in January this year, I set my first reading challenge. I wanted to be pushed and to read a lot. I pledged 100 books in the GoodReads 2018 challenge. The main reason being that I somehow miscalculated the amount of weeks in a year. 😳 Side note: I have a Maths degree…

After I was reminded that 100 books is not 3-4 books a month…. I freaked out a little as reading a new book every three days or so seemed impossible. And I sort of felt I was signing up for a failure. Then I decided to tackle it head on and read and read.

I was on track until early March when my reading pace slowed down. April was even a slower month reading-wise and GoodReads now cheerily reminds me I am quite behind.

I thought for a second of changing those 100 books to something more ‘doable’… like halving them.. I reasoned with ‘nobody knows, nobody notices’. That thought of avoiding a potential reading failure brought me a sense of relief. Interesting, isn’t it?

And then I though: “hang on a second. Someone will know. I will know.” And I may use that in future against myself. I could be very crafty when needed.

So I took a deep breath and accepted that I am quite likely to fail. I may get close, I may not or I may even successfully complete it. What is the worst that will happen? Well, I won’t meet my own expectations, that’s all.

What’s interesting about us not meeting our expectations is usually what we make it mean. It’s the stories we spin, especially if we make them about us, not our efforts.

Have you ever beaten yourself up after a certain “failure“? Have you talked to yourself harshly and has it demotivated you? Have you played it safe for a bit afterwards? Been there, done that.. many times.

I just read an interesting article that we should aspire to fail daily. So we become “good at it” and are willing to grow even more as we are willing to get involved in uncertain, uncontrollable scenarios. I love control. As a “recovering perfectionist” I’m learning how to let go. And it’s sometimes tough as this particular challenge reminded me. I guess I can now appreciate the effort vs the outcome. And that’s progress. Even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.

Do you have a reading challenge that is going breezily? How would you feel about doubling it?

You may say: come on, I won’t complete it then.

My answer? That’s exactly the point.

You don’t of course have to, especially if you are already being challenged with your current reading challenge as it is. I’m also not suggesting it so I am feeling better about my own challenge. It’s just a suggestion – what’s more interesting is to perhaps observe what thought popped in your head when I made that suggestion. That’s where the work usually starts..

I want us all to be comfortable with failing. I want to cheer each and every one of us when certain expectations of ours are not met. Let’s dare greatly and pick each other up when we fall.

Whatever you decide to do, I do wish you well in your challenge and sincerely hope you are having a very enjoyable reading year. 📚 💕


Chitter-Chatter Time

What do you think about Reading Challenges?

  • Do you have one?
  • If you do: how is it going?

And how do you feel about failing / not meeting your expectations about reading challenges or any other aspirations of yours?

Let me know in the comments below.

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)

Mystery

The Lying Kind by Alison James

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Side note: I have a writing ‘pet project’ that is kind of centered around mystery / crime. That’s why I’m dipping into this genre a bit this year and I must say, I am thoroughly enjoying it so far! 😊

The Lying Kind tells an engaging and mysterious story of a missing girl. It is a crime investigation set in London and its surrounding areas told from Detective Rachel Prince’s perspective as she leads the investigation.

The crime aspect of this story held my curiosity till the end. I think it was obvious who did it from quite early on but what really kept me interested was the why and how. I also appreciated that the story centred around the police aspect of such investigations. It wasn’t just about the thrills and chases but also the long desk-based hours that go into these cases.

Having lived near Bermondsey myself, a London area where Detective Rachel Prince’s flat is, I could identify many places. I also happened to suffer from knee (ACL) problems and that made me relate to the main character on different level as well.

Okay, let’s move on to the Detective Rachel Prince’s character, shall we?

Oh man… where do I begin? 😊 I didn’t like her, yet I felt empathy towards her. I found here character quite flawed yet fascinating… a piece of work but quite an interesting one. 😊

Clearly, her character has some serious unresolved issues, which we get glimpses of throughout the book. It seems that her escaping reality via being a workaholic and channelling her problems via hostility towards certain women is her way of coping.

She flirts with any ‘attractive’ man out there, yet she judges any woman out there who puts some effort into her appearance. It seems she believes that ‘looks’ are fake and overrated yet she falls for exactly such thing in men. I wonder if she addresses some of her issues in the next instalment of this series as it would be quite interesting to follow her growth and to learn more about her.

On a side note, I thought there was a bit of chemistry between her and her work partner, who happened to be ‘not attractive enough’ to be her type, eye roll, which they may be unaware of it or are just denying it.

Overall, a very interesting detective story with a not so likeable main character, who I found interesting and wanted to know more of. I am honestly looking forward to reading book 2 when it’s out.

*** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher/author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ***

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple   (4/5)