Bookish

T5W – Best Books I’ve Read So Far in 2018

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This week’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series is: Best Books You’ve Read So Far in 2018.

I have read many excellent books this year. I had a few months when I didn’t feel like reading but despite of that, I have managed to read about 40 books.

Out of those, following five books really stood out for me:

  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (review)

educated

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 still think about it months after I finished reading this book. Its main theme is privilege – we don’t get to choose circumstances we are born into. It also explores belonging, shame, forgiveness as well as the ability to become an observer, rather than a victim of your past.

“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.” 

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (review)

eleanor

I enjoyed its witty writing, consistent pacing and all those wonderful characters. Eleanor is the main protagonist but there are many supporting personalities that I enjoyed reading about as well. They are really what this book is all about. They are vivid, charming and you just want to know a little bit more of them and have to keep on reading. It is not a fun or a light-hearted book as it deals with some serious issues, but I appreciated how it made me think as well as feel.

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.” 

  • Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe

What a lovely book. Circe tells a story of an eternal witch, who gets banished for her actions. It is a slow story full of beautiful and lyrical writing. I loved everything about it, especially the Greek mythology aspect and the feminist thoughts. My review will follow shortly.

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

  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (review)

norse mythology

It is a collection of stories that feel modern. They are fast paced and full of action and Gaiman’s sharp writing gives them a nice punch. There is also a lot of humour involved. I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by the author himself and highly recommend the audio version of this book.

“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.” 

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (review)

big little lies

It is a wonderful story of a friendship of three women, their dealings with motherhood as well as having to come to terms with some dark demons from their pasts. I saw many shame related topics in this book. Moriarty deeply understands human behaviour and portrayed honest struggles of mothers and women in general.

“She’d swallowed it whole and pretended it meant nothing, and therefore it had come to mean everything.” 


Now over to you my friends. 🙂

Fancy sharing with me your favourite 2018 reads so far?

Can’t wait to see yours. 🙂

Bookish

T5W – Books You Want to Read Before the End of the Year

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This week’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series is: Books You Want to Read Before the End of the Year.

I must admit I am slightly worried that once I admit I want to read something, I am likely not read it. I am notorious for obsessing over a book, buying it, looking at it…. and not reading it. So please bear that in mind, and yes, I have a problem, I know! 😉

  • Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (release date: 25th September 2018)
Small Spaces cover
Small Spaces cover

I adore Arden‘s books. Her The Bear and The Nightingale is one of my favourite books. Arden’s lyrical prose is something I can not get enough of. Small Spaces is supposed to be a middle grade ‘spooky’ book. I am thinking a perfect Halloween read! 🙂

  • The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock Cover

Because so many of my trusted reviewers loved this book. Also, it was shortlisted for the Women’s Fiction Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018. I read so many excited reviews and I am looking forward to reading it very shortly.

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief
The Book Thief cover

Because it’s supposed to be about a girl during WWII. Because everyone I know who read it loved it, and because I am living under a rock and haven’t read it yet. 🙂

  • I really want to re-read Steinbeck‘s novels. The one I’m hoping to read again this year is East of Eden – John Steinbeck
East of Eden
East of Eden cover

To be honest, I am pretty sure I read it but I am not entirely sure I have. My poor memory says: “the blurb sounds familiar and you read pretty much everything of Steinbeck as he is one of your favourite authors”… but I am not certain. So I will re-visit! I am slightly scared that I will change my mind (I think I loved it…) but hey, you never know until you try. 🙂

  • Catwoman by Sarah J. Maas (release date: 7th August 2018)
Catwoman
Catwoman cover

Because Maas has such a fun writing style. It’s a roller-coaster of action after action. There’s also lots of humour and snarkiness and this just screams ‘perfect fun summer read‘ to me. Can’t wait to get my hands on it. 🙂 Side note: not an fan of the cover though so eBook it is. 🙂

There you have it. My five books I’m hoping to read this year. Please don’t hold me to it! 🙂


Over to you my friends!

  • Have you read any of those?
  • What book are you looking forward to reading this year?
Bookish

T5W – Favourite Fathers/Father Figures

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This week’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series honours the upcoming Father’s day via Favourite Fathers/Father Figures discussion.

Today also happens to be my dad’s Birthday.

My dad is my hero. He showed me that I could do anything regardless if I am a girl or not. He was there to teach my to ice skate before I could barely walk, he never told me to be careful and to think twice before taking a risk. He was there to brush dirt off my knees after I had fallen down over and over again. He taught me how to think analytically via giving me puzzles and letting me question them whilst working them out. He also encouraged me to think for myself. He would happily discuss Plato or Taoism with me till early morning hours… But the most importantly: he has given me two of his biggest gifts – his unconditional love as well as my freedom to spread my wings and fly. I love you to the moon and back dad, Happy Birthday! 


Now without further ado, let’s take a look at my favourite Fathers/Father Figures:

  • Guido Orefice from Life Is Beautiful

life is beautiful

“This is my story. This is the sacrifice my father made. This was his gift to me.”

I cried my eyes out watching this movie.

It is set during the WWII. Guido is a gentle Jewish-Italian waiter that happens to suffer the faith of many Jewish people during that time – him and his family are taken to a concentration camp. Guido decides to protect his son, Giosué,  via making a concentration camp’s survival into a game. He sets Giosué ‘game objectives’ in order to protect him against those horrors happening all around him.

“Giosué Orefice <son>: When can I see Mama?

Guido <father>: When the game’s over.”

His unconditional love for his child mixed with his selflessness as well as gentle attitude made me fall in love with this character big time.

  • Lord Eddard Stark (Ned Stark) from Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin

ned stark

“Bran: Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?

Eddard (Ned): That is the only time a man can be brave.”

Oh Ned, the honourable, loving and law abiding character. I adore him for his unquestionable morals, for his fierce love for his children, for his goodness and for everything he did for John Snow. May his legacy continue…

  • Uncle Ben from Spiderman

uncle ben

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Peter Parker would never be the man he became had it not been for his uncle Ben. Ben’s morals combined with his strong faith of protecting the weaker ones, gave Peter the foundation to become a great hero.

  • “Man” from The Road, Cormac McCarthy

the road

“You have to carry the fire.”
I don’t know how to.”
Yes, you do.”
Is the fire real? The fire?”
Yes it is.”
Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.” 

Well, my love/hate relationship with The Road continues… The “Man” is facing the end of the world. Everything around him is dying, there is no hope, the remaining human survivors are cannibals and the bleakness of that situation is something I can barely stomach. But…. the “Man” is there to shield his son. He is not giving up even though I could not blame him should he decide to do so… He keeps his son alive, he gives him hope and purpose (despite having none of those himself). For that, he belongs to my favourite fictional Father category for sure.

  • Jack Bartlett, Heartland

heartland

“I hope you know you can always call this home”

Heartland is my guilty pleasure. I love it for that “feel good” factor, for those family values that are very close to my heart and of course for those horses as well.

Jack aka “Grampa“, is what is holding Heartland together. He believes that family is what matters the most and would do anything to protect those he loves. He can be stubborn and short-tempered but despite those (or maybe become of them?), he truly is a well beloved character.


That’s is from me my friends.

Now over to you:

  • Who are your favourite fictional Fathers/Father Figures?

Fancy sharing them with me? 🙂

Bookish

T5W Rewind – Tropes you Hate

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This month’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series are Rewind topics – which means we can choose any previously used topic throughout the series. For today’s topic, I have chosen Tropes you Hate.

Before I dive into this topic, I really want to stress out that I do not hate any of those tropes below. They can get on my nerves when they are used as an ‘easy way out’ – as something that bypasses either characters’ developments or plots’ challenges.

I am not judging anyone who likes these tropes either. Please keep that in mind. It’s all a matter of personal preferences. 🙂


 

  1. Love at first sight, aka. instalove

love at first sight

Insta-love is probably my biggest pet peeve. I do not believe in love at first sight. I do believe of course in attraction at first sight, but that has nothing to do with love.

In my opinion, love goes hand in hand with respect. And respect is something that is usually earned through time. It is also about understanding and appreciating each other and again, that takes time.

I think the cliché of ‘their eyes met and they knew there were destined for each another’ send a naïve message of ‘as long as there is attraction between us and we are looking at each others’ eyes, it’s all good’.

In my humble opinion, it’s a simplistic and also a bit dangerous message to be sending out there.

As my favourite author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, once famously said: “Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction.”

  1. Chosen ones / special snowflakes

special snowflake

Usually a character that is destined to be the hero and to save the entire world either because everyone around them or some prophecy says so, or because they have some incredibly unique power and are therefore extremely special.

I think this is a bit of a ‘an easy way out’ card. An author can potentially use it without having to think about characters’ motivations. Because you know… it’s their destiny!!!!

Of course some authors can use this cliché and make it work, yes HP fans, I’m talking about your favourite author. But in a lot of cases, this approach sometimes doesn’t go deep into characters’ motives and can make them a bit less relatable because of that.

  1. The Plain Jane who is magically transformed to win the hunky hero’s heart

plain-jane-it-is-i-dont-care

I honestly can not stand ‘The Plain Jane’ character. When you spice it up with a hunky hero saving her or his heart, I tend to lose a bit..

We are all unique and that makes us all interesting.

The Plain Jane is just a cliché that plays at our insecurities. The message of ‘there’s hope for all of us’ resonates but is it actually serving us?

I believe nobody is plain. Full stop.

  1. The evil one

evil one

The usual ‘good vs. evil’ dynamic is a cliché that gets on my nerves. We are all complex and pure evil villains are again, a bit of an easy way out.

It becomes double annoying when combined with the ‘monster is shot, stabbed, burned and impaled on a spike, and it rises again and again’ trope as well. I mean please, save us all our precious time and just kill those evil monsters off, will you?

It also has an irritable potential when combined with the evil one ‘accidentally‘ dying as well. I mean how convenient is that? When a murderer somehow stumbles and falls under a train, or off a cliff… yep, that one gets me too!

  1. Any good detective must be depressed—and preferably should have a drinking or substance overuse related problem.

dog detective

I think this one is quite self-explanatory. 😉

It’s usually closely followed by a maverick detective who doesn’t trust anyone and doesn’t need anybody’s help…


There you have it. Now over to you friends.

What are your favourite ‘tropes you personally dislike’? Fancy sharing some of them with me? 🙂

Bookish

T5W Rewind – Favourite Villains

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This month’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series are Rewind topics – which means we can choose any previously used topic throughout the series. For today’s topic, I have chosen Favourite Villains.


In any book I read or a movie I watch, I crave complex characters.

I enjoy discovering characters that are not entirely likeable.

The protagonists must have flaws and the purpose of their stories is to overcome them. Equally, for their antagonists, there must be still some humanity left in them in order for me to sympathise with them. I will not condone their actions, but I may at least understand, where that behaviour is coming from.

There are many evil psychopathic villains out there and they have their place. My list below probably consists mostly of sympathetic or rather tragic villains.

Side note: The Orangutan Librarian wrote a brilliant post on Why Villains are the Greatest. I really recommend checking it out!


  • Sméagol / Gollum – The Lord of the Ring Series

Gollum

Let’s pause and appreciate Gollum’s portrait by Frédéric Bennett 

Gollum is probably my favourite.

I like his character because there is still some humanity left in him, despite being consumed by his extremely powerful desire for the Ring.

He always gives me hope; that humanity can persevere.

  • Loki – Norse Mythology (and Marvel comics)

loki

Picture by incredible artist Sceith

Loki is a broken man damaged by his past.

The legends tell us the harder he tries, the harder he usually falls.

I guess that could make his actions seem somehow relatable. And I think that’s what makes him an interesting character as well.

  • Magneto – Marvel Comics, X-Men

Magneto

Image credit

Another character haunted by his dark past.

His intentions are to make the world a better place for the mutants.

Unfortunately his approach, to kill all humans, is what makes him an anti-hero material. That doesn’t mean we approve of his choices, but can at least understand what made him into that villain.

  • Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader

star wars origin

Photo credit

Because every hero has a villain potential.

And because we don’t know what we are capable of doing until everything we love is threatened to be taken away from us.

And because of that redemption and hope that goes with it.

  • Jamie Lannister from “A Song of Ice and Fire” series

George R.R Martin has this cunning ability to create complex characters that I just want to know more of.

got__jaime_lannister_by_antylopa-dazvdlv

Amazing drawing by Antylopa

Jamie is one of them.

In the first few books, he is a ‘classic’ villain. His actions are fuelled by his selfish and ego-centric behaviour and of course there is that sibling love.

Then he is forced to face his disability and he raises up to that challenge.

It has something to do with certain Brienne of Tarth. Their unlikely friendship and those first glimpses of Jamie’s humanity, that were there all along but buried deep within, are probably one of my favourite parts of the Game of Thrones series.


There you have it. Now over to you friends.

What are your favourite villains? Fancy sharing some of them with me? 🙂

Bookish

T5W Rewind – Current Favourites that Aren’t Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This month’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series are Rewind topics – which means we can choose any previously used topic throughout the series. As I am relatively new to T5W, I am excited about this opportunity! 🙂

I have chosen the topic of “Current favourites that aren’t books” as I find it currently very fitting given I read four books in March and three in April. 😉 My boyfriend, our dog and I just return from a week and half long trip in Dartmoor in West England with today being the last day of our holiday. Our washing machine is currently working over time, I’ve managed to unpack most of our things and I am finally finding time to sit down and make another list. I love list making! 🙂

Without further ado, let’s talk non books, shall we? 🙂

All of those activities below are for me to enjoy but being surrounded by the ones I love is what matters to me the most. People are my favourites that aren’t books and I feel truly grateful for all those special souls that are in my life. 

  • (Rock) Climbing

Climbing in Kalymnos

It you read my previous T5W post you know that I enjoy climbing. I call it my vertical meditation. I love how fully present I become when I climb. It’s me and the next move.

My curiosity is satisfied as well as having to piece together, at first a seemingly impossible sequence of moves, can be a fun puzzle to solve. If you don’t tear you hear out first in frustration of course.

I also appreciate that climbing takes me to some breath taking places in nature. I got to see some stunning places such as the isle of Lundy where no cars are allowed and where seals kept us the only company on those beautiful long granite sea cliffs.

And I also love the climbing community. Climbers are a fairly chilled bunch of people… must be all that vertical meditating I reckon… 😉

  • Hiking / Scrambling 

 

Nature is amongst my top values. I get fully recharged when I walk in nature. The last week and half was amazingly restorative. Walking on the moor, listening to bird-songs, meeting Dartmoor’s wild ponies and feeling an utter sense of peace and quiet. That’s happiness in my books.

I enjoy walking with my boyfriend; we have quite a few Pathfinder circular walks guides that we enjoy exploring together. I also love hiking with my sister around my native woods in the Czech Republic. I usually have great conversations during all of those walks with my loved ones. I equally enjoy walking on my own with my little dog though. I can sort my thoughts out that way really well and unplug from it all.

  • Yoga 

yoga in gower

When I’m on the mat, I feel like I’m home.

I enjoy moving gently with every breath I take. I also love how yoga teaches me to stay mindful and to get into an observer state. That ability to notice my thoughts and allow them to stay without having to react to them.

I also enjoy dedicating my practice at the beginning of it to someone. If you play sports – try it sometimes. I found, when my practice is not only about me, but also about someone else,  it gives me that tiny bit of a push I sometimes need when things get quite challenging and I want to give up.

  • Listening to podcasts

I love listening to various podcasts on a regular basis. Currently, my favourite podcasts are:

Do you listen to any of these?

And do you have a podcast you could recommend me?

I love exploring new podcasts on a regular basis. 🙂

  • Travelling

Because I enjoy exploring new places, seeing different cultures and meeting interesting people.

I don’t necessarily have to travel to exotic places though; I equally love travelling somewhere local where I have never been before or just taking a new route to places I normally go to quite regularly.

There is always so much to see when you change your direction. 🙂 Cheesy alert: I believe it is the journey, not the destination that this is all about. 🙂


There you have it. Now over to you friends.

What are your current favourites that aren’t books? Fancy sharing some of them with me?

Bookish

T5W – Favourite Fandom Items

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

In this week’s topic, let’s talk about Favourite Fandom Items.  “Whether it’s something you own or something you are lusting after, what are some of your favourite fandom items / merchandise / memorabilia? Your picks don’t all have to be from the same fandom.”


I’ll start with a long caveat. Please bear with me. 😊

I don’t own many things. I feel more things I own, more they start owning me. I ruthlessly go through my possessions on a regular basis constantly questioning if they add value to my life and if the answer is no, finding a new home for them.

I call myself a minimalist; that word may evoke in others imagines of empty walls and rooms with no furniture – that’s not me at all.

I could describe my approach as a mindful consumerism. I ask myself if I need things before I buy them. And if the answer is no, I ask myself if by owning them, I would gain any value out of them. I don’t just buy things I need though; I also buy things that my artistic self loves and that bring me joy.

I am not judging anyone who has a different approach or preferences to mine.

We are all different; there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way here. Whatever brings you joy is perfectly fine. No comparing or judging at all. Please don’t take any of this as a lecturing post. I have many anxieties and this approach seems to keep them at bay.

With this full disclosure over, let’s dive in to my favourite items:

1)    Dr. Brené Brown’s books

brene browns books

I have mentioned Dr. Brené Brown name quite a few times already on my blog.

I don’t own many physical copies of books, with most printed books James and I own being either climbing guides, hiking guides or non-fiction books.

I own physical copies of all Brown’s books. I love re-reading them and use them whenever I need a little pick me up. I love Brown’s work, admire her story telling ability and genuinely want to support her message as much as I can.

2)    The Daring Way™ certification

manifesto

This one goes hand in hand with my previous point.

I am ‘lusting’ after The Daring Way™ certification.

It is an empirically based training and certification program based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. I am currently going through Life Coach certification and working toward the day when I’ll be able to certify via The Daring Way™ programme as well. As you can clearly see: I deeply believe in Dr. Brené Brown’s work!. 🙂

3)    Lynn Hill and my signed copy of her autobiography Climbing Free

If you haven’t see Valley Uprising on Netflix, I highly recommend it. It’s about history of Yosemite Valley’s climbing scene and how it has evolved through years. You don’t have to be a climber to appreciate the story and all those stunning visuals, at least I hope. 🙂

One of my favourite female climbers featured in that movie is Lynn Hill aka Lynnie. She is an extraordinary climber that defined what was possible by being the first climber ever to free climb in 1993 The Nose, a famous route on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.

And this is what she said about it:

“Trying to free climb The Nose just happened to be the perfect goal for me and I liked the fact this climb was in Yosemite because I remember going there and just seeing the valley and it was just mind blowing how beautiful it was. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place anywhere in the world. For me The Nose was much bigger than me, it wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about my ego, my gratification it was actually something that I wanted to do.

I felt like I had a chance and that if I could do that it would be a really big statement to people to think about.

You don’t have to be a man to do something that’s ‘out there’ as a first ascent.

Obviously people tried to do that route and they failed on it and so if a lot of good climbers have come and tried to do it and failed and a woman comes and does it first it’s really meaningful. That was my underlying motivation.”

~Andy McCue “Interview: Lynn Hill”. www.climber.co.uk. 19 April 2013

I went to the Women in Climbing Symposium last November where Lynn Hill was the main speaker. I cherish the memory of hearing her talk about her adventures, meeting her in person and having her sign my copy of her book.

4)    Adam Ondra and his signed poster

IMG_0676(1)

This poster currently hangs in our garage opposite our little training climbing wall. Adam Ondra is a fellow Czech climber and he is considered by some possibly the best climber in the world at the moment.

I have watched his climbing movies and enjoyed witnessing his, not only physically challenging, but also mentally gruelling climbing projects. He challenges what is possible and how far our bodies can go.

Hearing him talk in London in 2014 for Urbanrock, at the Westway Climbing Centre was such a brilliant experience. He came across as extremely modest given his levels of achievement. Having him sign his poster for us was the cherry on the cake.


In order to grow, we have to be ready to continuously fail. If we are not failing, our goals are not big enough.

Brown in her Rising Strong writes about how to pick ourselves up after each of those failures.

You can say Brown gives me tools so I can be brave to continuously fail whilst Hill and Ondra inspire me via showing me what’s possible if you are courageous enough to Dare Greatly (yup, another reference to Brown! 😉 ).


5)    The Lord of the Rings extended edition DVDs directed by Peter Jackson

IMG_0677

I love these DVDs. They are not just a movie adaptation. There is something epic about them. I almost felt like a received a permission to openly obsess about LOTR once they got aired as all of sudden everyone knew what those books were all about.

I still re-watch them from time to time and enjoy getting lost in the magical world J.R.R. Tolkien created for us and Peter Jackson visually brought to our homes.


There you have it. Now over to you friends.

What are your favourite items you either own or are lusting after? Fancy sharing some of them with me?

And if you have done yours in the post, please let me know. I can’t wait to see others’ treasures and their lists. Mostly because I am nosy curious! 🙂