Fantasy

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

spinning silverSummer is coming my friends. As a winter person, I’m trying to survive it with books that will make me feel cold. I recently finished Norse Mythology and now I am about to tell you about another cold tale of winter in the wonderful story of Spinning Silver.

Before I tell you my thoughts, here’s what Goodreads have to say:


Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.


Novik stays true to her Uprooted’s Slavic theme. Spinning Silver craftily mixes Slavic folk stories with a hint of Rumpelstiltskin retelling. In case you are wondering: Uprooted is not related to Spinning Silver. These are two standalone books.

Spinning Silver takes us to wintery Lithuania. Frost covered wings of cruel winter bring mysterious riders to its villages. They travel to the human world via their winter road; steal people’s gold and kill whoever / whatever gets in their way. They are called Staryk (the ancient / old ones). And people fear and hate them equally.

Meet Miryem – our first protagonist, a moneylender’s daughter trying to revive her father’s dying business to save her ill mother. She is smart but is starting to close herself off emotionally to do what is ‘necessary’.

Then there is Wanda, a servant girl who is trying to get by. Her future is looking bleak as her abusive drunken father has one thing on his mind: how to sell her off so he can get more money for his alcohol.

The third protagonist, Irina is smart and scheming, but also compassionate and protective. She would do anything to save people from Winter’s reign. Will she succeed?

All these there females have following in common: they are happy to think for themselves and to make their own destinies. Their actions are not full off ‘roaring and screaming’ but are rather more subtle – their bravery is demonstrated by them showing up. They follow through with their smart but also uncertain plans whilst forming unlikely alliance. Novik’s beautifully crafted females are brave whilst remaining vulnerable, smart but also afraid. They show range of emotions that deeply resonated with me.

What is slightly unusual about Spinning Silver is that there are three supporting characters as well which we get to hear talking now and again. They are added gradually and because of that, they don’t overpower the narrative. They only add their unique perspectives from time to time.

There is always an element of danger whenever introducing multiple POVs. That is that us, readers, may prefer some over others. I did struggle connecting with these three characters but appreciated the part they played. Spinning Silver is narrated in first person and using this technique gave me an additional insight into the storyline.

There is a touch of slow burning romance (‘kindling’ kind of slow), which is weaved in extremely carefully. I enjoyed the main focus being on both characters’ motives as well as their mission without them being distracted by romance thoughts. Also, the slow burn is something I personally take over instalove any day.

Novik’s language is exquisite – deliberately chosen words, eerie mood, skilfully built tension. It’s all there. I was pulled into the story from the beginning, it’s a fairly slow paced one but it’s extremely atmospheric and you will appreciate it either whilst curled under a warm blanket on a cold winter day or like me, craving some cold shade on a hot day whilst dreaming of icy winter roads…

I saw in Spinning Silver a story of underdogs and a strong message of brain over brawn. 

I also thought Novik‘s exploration of Rumpelstiltskin being portrayed via a Jewish moneylender, as well as being a woman, was intriguing. I am trying not to reveal too much as spoilers are my major pet peeve. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts though if you read this book.

Recommended? Yes!!! Especially if you have enjoyed Uprooted! Also, if you have enjoyed other Slavic themes books such as Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale or Bardugo’s The Grishaverse Series.

Possible triggers: child abuse and antisemitism

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for this ARC 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)


What do you think? Do you want to read Spinning Silver or have you read it already?

And do you like Slavic folk tales?

Monthly Wrap Up

May Wrap up

Welcome to June! We are nearly half way through 2018… the variable speed of time seriously puzzles me sometimes… some years go by slower than other.. 2018 is somehow flying by… 😉

So what happened in May?

Glad you asked. 😊 May was the month when I decided to become a gardener. I apologise to those lovely plants, but I honestly am doing my best and do try looking after them. My mission is not to kill them even though it seems that way sometimes..

As we are all friends here, I must tell you I am starting to be somehow sceptical about the well-being of my lavender plants. They were blooming when I bought them in April… now they are this woody / shrubby thing. I keep on telling myself they are going through a cycle – but in all honesty, I have absolutely no clue what’s going on there. I have researched gardening YouTube videos, read many articles and know a difference now between dead heading (the danger of reading too many fantasy novels is that words like dead heading tend to trigger vivid imagines in my head… oh dear), light shearing and hard cut back..

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Here are those poor lavenders. Do you think they make it? Those two in blue pots are English lavenders and they are the ones I’m worried about. The white pots ones are French lavenders and they seem to be doing ok-ish I think..

May was also the month when I was really worried about our dog. 😦 We found a lump on his paw and it was growing. He did have it removed and fortunately, his results came back with good news of the lump being caused by viral papilloma. Something apparently quite common amongst young dogs. I was so relieved and happy when the vet called to give us those news. Not knowing what was going to happen felt so helpless. And I found it extremely hard to talk about it. But I did discuss it with James, who was equally worried, and it helped. It is still something I probably want to learn from though.

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Anyhow, apart from me getting some soil on my hands, spending time with the dog and climbing outside, I have also discovered audio books.

Everyone: ‘Vera, audiobooks are awesome, you should try them out.’

Me: ‘Hmmmm, I’m not sure…’

Me in May: ‘Audiobooks are awesome, why hasn’t anyone told me about that…’ 😉

I loved listening to We Should All Be Feminists and Norse Mythology. Both narrated by their authors. Adiche’s voice is something I could listen to for hours. So soothing and beautiful. And I found Gaiman to be an excellent narrator as well. His voice would change with each character and I was imagining Thor’s booming voice and Loki’s sly one.

Do you have any good recommendation on audiobooks you enjoyed please? Was there a particular one that stood out for you? If so, fancy sharing it with me please? Thanks!

Let’s talk lists, shall we? Here’s my May’s reading list:

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – my review here

A thought provoking essay that is extremely digestible as it is told via stories. There is no judgement or hate attached to it. Just an open mind and a vision for better future. Shout out to Kristin for her interesting review that piqued my interest.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – my review here

I absolutely adored this collection. Gaiman’s sharp writing makes those myths extremely modern. They are fast paced and full of action and there is also a lot of humour involved! Shout out to Holly for her wonderful review.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – review to arrive on Monday, 4th June

Teaser: Frost covered wings of cruel winter bring mysterious riders to Lithuanian villages. They travel to the human world via their winter road; steal people’s gold and kill whoever / whatever gets in their way. They are called Staryk and people fear and hate them equally. Three females may be able to stop them. Will they succeed?

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel – mini review to follow next week together with the one below

This novella drew me instantly in via some interesting psychological manipulation. Two females, a game of cat and mouse =  an exciting summer read.

Thanks Norrie for the recommendation!

Homes around the World by Anita Martinez Beijer – mini review to follow next week together with the one above

A beautiful collection of photos accompanied with stories behind those visuals. I am interested in carefully chosen home décor and enjoy knowing the Why behind.

I have purposely not included rating for these.

I am considering omitting my coffee style rating from reviews as I am finding it hard to sometimes compare fiction, non fiction and there are so many nuances between 4 stars, 4 ½ starts etc… in other words, it’s starting to stress me out. 🙂 I know there are bloggers out there who don’t give ratings. I will keep this topic for my next discussion post as I am curious to hear your thoughts. Stay tuned! 😊

My plans for June are following:


Non-bookish:

  • If possible, try to revive those lavenders (please wish me luck!)
  • Create a vase feature in front of our house to make it look welcoming (research ‘hardy plants’!!!)
  • Get our dog myself into running (so far we have done three runs and all I have to say: mixed results…)
  • Do Whole30

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I have been feeling under the weather recently with hay fever being the worst I have had in a very long time. I am currently figuring out my allergies and am doing elimination food experiment in June called Whole30. I have eliminated common trigger food groups and will start slowly re-introducing them back to my meals in July / August. The premise is to find out if I have any sensitivities to these and if so, eliminate them to decrease my body’s inflammation. Which will then hopefully make me cope better with other allergies. Well that’s the theory anyway, I am happy to test it though to see what happens. 🙂

Would you be interested in hearing about Whole 30 weekly recaps? Would someone benefit from that?

Bookish:

  • Listen to another audiobook
  • Finish Emotional Agility by Susan David (nearly there!)
  • Be whimsical about fantasy / thrillers / memoirs / whatever else I may fancy reading that month
  • Reflect about my ARC behaviour… I think I have a problem… 😉

That’s it for now. Now over to you.


What did really stand out for you in May?

It doesn’t have to be bookish, just something you really enjoyed. 😊

And have you tried elimination diet before? And if so, did it work? (please say yes!!!) 😊