Book Tag

The Outstanding Blogger Award

Can you believe it’s almost December? Time is passing by so quickly when days are very short, it’s getting dark just after 3pm, you’re stuck at home once again, and everything you can do is just reading books! I’ve been desperately waiting for lockdown in Germany to end, but unfortunately, it has been extended. My pile of to-be-read books during December and Christmas break became once again longer, wooo hooo!

📚❄️

On a very positive note, I’ve been nominated by Blue to the Outstanding Blogger Award! Thank you so much for the nomination, I am so happy to answer all your questions! I’m glad that in this cold and wintery weather I get a chance to be nominated for such a fun award! 🙂

But first, some rules and paperwork:

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post.
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator, nor the blogger that nominated you, can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that ping-backs the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

And Blue’s questions are:

  1. How would you describe your aesthetic?

I’m definitely gravitating between impressionism and post-impressonism. I love Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh, and I’ve noticed that my personal aesthetic resembles these two styles too! They are very often an inspiration for my photographs too, even though I’m still learning how to use a camera properly! But I think I’m going in a fairly good direction 🙂

‘Rosy sunset’, my own photo

2. What book character do you consider yourself most like?

Ugh, that’s a difficult one! There is something of a Holden Caulfield in me (I think I mentioned already how important The Catcher in the Rye is for me) – I used to be a massive rebel when I was younger, trying to question everything around me and attempting to start a revolution. I always related to Holden Caulfield a lot and I saw myself on the pages of The Catcher in the Rye. On the other hand, I so strongly relate to Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird as well! He is said to be an INFJ after all, so I guess that’s why! #teamINFJ

There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you. That’s never possible.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

3. What book character do you wish you were?

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Fierce, smart, unconventional and feminist. What else can I ask for?

4. You stumble across a carving in the wall of a cave. It tells a myth about the moon and stars. How does the story go?

“Once upon a time, there was a very dull Nightsky which was jealous of a shiny and beautiful Daysky. Nightsky felt incredibly lonely as it didn’t have a sun to shine during a night or any clouds to float around. The stars were very small and they weren’t much of a help. One day however, they decided to change the situation. They clustered together, formed a ball in a shape of a sun, and created Moon. From now on, the Nightsky wasn’t lonely anymore – it had a beautiful and round Moon to shine and support the Nightsky during its watch.”

5. If you could control one element, which element would it be? What ordinary things would you use it for? (Example: If you chose water, you could say washing the dishes goes very quickly.)

It would be either earth or water! I can’t decide between these two as they both seem very powerful to me. Once you control earth, you basically control everything. I would obiously use it to help fauna and flora around me blooming! And once you conrol water, you can do amazing stuff with it, like walking on the surface of water and cross a river!

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

6. What genre of movie or book would you want your life’s story to be in? What genre do you think it’s actually in?

I’ve always dreamt that my life would be an inspiration for some dystopian/science-fiction story where I can save a world from a totalitarian regime or highly advanced robots who rebel against the humanity (yes, Blade Runner kind of style). I’d fight for innocent people and protect everyone’s rights while searching for the meaning of life. Right now unfortunately, my life is sort of a romantic comedy/drama with Hugh Grant in it, except for the fact that I’m nowhere near getting married and nor is any of my friends.

7. What is your exact favorite color at this moment? Where can it be found in nature?

Pink, lilac, yellow, mint, everything that’s pastel and light! I’m a very colourful person and I honestly don’t understand how anyone can wear only black clothes! Now, you can still see beautiful sunsets occasionally with pink, violet and blue clouds, but obviously there was more of my favourtie colours during summer!

🌸

My questions are:

  1. If you could only read one author for the rest of your life, who would it be?
  2. What did you think was cool when you were younger, but is not cool anymore?
  3. You are about to get into a fight, what song would you play to pump yourself up?
  4. What superhero do you wish you were?
  5. Do you prefer reading a book before seeing a movie or seeing a movie first and then reading a book?
  6. What is your favourite book/movie quote?
  7. What was your favourite fairytale growing up?

And I’d like to nominate:

Annelies @ In Another Era

Cherelle @ a bolt out of the book

Darina @ Facing the Story

Jonetta @ Blue Mood Café

Riddhi @ Whispering Stories

Happy soon-to-be December everyone and stay healthy! ☃️

The Classics Club

The Classics Club: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This is my second book from the Classics Club challenge, and this time it’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein! I decided to go for this one due to the spooky season vibes, and also because I haven’t been reading a lot of Gothic literature (luckily or unluckily…?); Frankenstein seemed like an obvious choice then. Besides, I’ve heard of Mary Shelley a lot and couldn’t wait to try out her most famous work. So… what did I think of Frankenstein?

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

How mutable are our feelings, and how strange is that clinging love we have of life even in the excess of misery!

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The book tells a story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who is fascinated by the idea of creating life. One night, after a lot of research and consideration, he fulfills his dream and brings a monster to life. He then must deal with the consequences of his action.

My first thought is, it was definitely different to what my idea of Frankenstein was. I had to confront my expectations of the story with what we’ve been often given by the culture, which is essentially a mad scientist shouting “It’s alive!” and a green, creepy monster rising from the dead. We’ve been bombarded so much with different adaptations of Frankenstein that the original story of Mary Shelley’s book kind of faded away among all those films and Halloween impersonations. I was definitely surprised to hear that the book is not only about some scientist’s experiment and there is much more to the story than just monster’s creation. And surprisingly, the name Frankenstein doesn’t refer to the monster itself, but to Victor, the scientist! (Also, please tell me that I’m not alone in finding out that Frankenstein is not about a big green monster – I feel a bit silly but at the same time I think I wasn’t the first person to feel that way!)

Frankenstein is also a very complex novel. It starts off in a form of letters from Robert Walton to his sister, then the narrative takes a different turning and it’s Victor Frankenstein’s telling his story; there is also the monster narrating from his point of view, and then the story goes back to Victor Frankenstein again, just to finish off with Robert Walton’s narration again. It all works perfectly together and we have a lot of insight into different points of view and a very detailed evaluation of characters’ thoughts and feelings. What is more, there is a lot of focus on the monster’s life and its struggles with gaining acceptance.

The themes of knowledge, alienation, identity and family are the most prevalent themes and it’s really fascinating how they are explored in the book. It’s also quite interesting to see how the books explores the theme of creation of life – Victor Frankenstein can be perceived as God (or Prometehus, according to the subtitle of the novel) who created life, but is horrified with the outcome of his creation.

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

But unfortunately, Frankenstein was also a very tedious and monotonous novel. This is a very personal opinion, but it really did take me some time to finish it (I finished a couple of other books in-between Frankenstein, just to fill the void). I couldn’t help but thinking how long everything takes in the novel and how much unnecessary thoughts or information has been added there (as though just to purposefully make it longer). On one hand, we have descriptions of beautiful mountains and nature, and on the other, there is a deformed monster rummaging through the hills with the intention to kill Frankenstein’s family. The mood of the book is quite dark and depressing, so it just seemed to me a bit “too extra” to implement such things, which, unfortunately, sounded detached and not on point.

Also, isn’t it funny how intelligent the monster is? It’s interesting how people back in the day thought that a monster creation like Frankenstein’s monster would achieve full capability of a human brain in such a short time. The only advantage of multiple modern adapations of Frankenstein is the fact that they attempted to make it more realistic, I guess.

Frankenstein is considered to be a cult horror/science-fiction book and I definitely agree with it! Mary Shelley is definitely an interesting person (she wrote the novel when she was only 18 years old) and I can imagine how mind-blowing Frankenstein must have been back then. For me now, it was definitely an interesting read, with a couple of reservations in terms of Shelley’s writing style and the idea behind the monster’s development! 🙂

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Recommendation

4 uplifting books to read during difficult times of second lockdown

Mental health has become such an important issuse since the last couple of months that I decided to make a post about some reading recommendations for all of us who feel a little bit discouraged during this time. I think it’s incredibly important now to stay safe and healthy, both physically and mentally, and one way of cheering yourself up could be by reaching for a good book about our daily struggles and how to fight with them! I really do like self-help books, especially those that deal with a more spiritual side of our problems, and I thought I could share with you a couple of my own favourites that can be somewhat of a help!

  • The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to be Calm in a Busy World by Haemin Sunim

This beautiful little self-help book by Haemin Sunim was the best purchase I’ve done in quite some time. Written by a Buddhist monk and illustrated with calming and powerful pictures by a Korean artist, it offers a lot of insightful advice on common and uncommon struggles of daily life. Haenim Sunim shares his views on topics such as anxiety, relationships, work, and shows how important it is to slow down, take a deep breath and be mindful about the surrounding world. I think it can be a fantastic read during lockdown hassle and I totally recommend it for people who want to learn how to (properly) stop for a second, who want to hear that everything is going to be okay, and who want to explore mindfullness in even more details.

  • How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s a tiny book, but a very powerful one. Thich Nhat Hanh is a world-famous Buddhist monk who wrote a hella lot of books on mindfullness, spirituality and Buddhist teachings. How to Relax is one of the Mindfullness Essentials pocket books and, as the title suggests, it explains how to relax (in a Buddhist way of course). It’s only 120 long and can easily fit in a pocket, but it carries a very important message – we all know how to relax, we just lost this ability in the midst of our busy lives. It’s got a lot of short and sweet teachings on how to stay calm during a day and how to bring peace to our body and mind. Great for releasing the stress of the pandemic!

  • Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Even though I’m much bigger fan of Haig’s prose rather than his self-help books, Notes on a Nervous Planet got me thinking about my life A LOT. I also read it at a very good point in my life so I guess that’s why it stayed with me for some time. Notes on a Nervous Planet is full of everyday-wisdom that we actually lack so much in our lives. I liked how simple and easy-to-follow Haig’s notes were and how encouraging he sounded when talking about changing your life. He also talks a lot about how to escape the dangers of social media, which is a really important problem nowadays. I think Notes on a Nervous Planet one might be a really good pick for during-coronavirus mood!

  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s books used to be quite popular. They still kind of are. Simply, times have changed and we have a lot of other authors who write about similar stuff. Nevertheless, he is still one of the most important authors of self-help books, and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, alongside How to Win Friends and Influence People, are his most famous works. He explains how unhappy he was with his life, how this unhappiness led to worrying a lot, and how to tackle a problem of worrying. He gives some really nice ideas on how to stop overthinking and how to plan your day so you don’t let your thoughts ruin it. It might be helpful for when the boredom of lockdown hits us hard! But please be careful, the book was written around 80 years ago and some of Carnegie’s opinions on mental health can be pretty outdated and controversial…

Have you read any of those books? What do you think about self-help books in general? Let me know in the comments! 😊

Stay safe and healthy everyone ❤️

Review

Book Review: The Mermaid from Jeju by Sumi Hahn

Another review of a historical fiction book coming from me today, this time dealing with the history of Korea after World War II. The Mermaid from Jeju captivated me with its description and cover design (once again!) and I’m very happy that I’ve been given a copy of this book in exchange for a review. I don’t usually read a lot of books on East Asian history or culture so I was very intrigued about this one, and particularly about the WW2 theme implemented there! With an interesting blurb and a beautiful cover, what is there not to like? What did I think of The Mermaid of Jeju then?

Now you understand what being a woman means. The world will determine your path for you, without any regard for your abilities or your desires. But at least you are a haenyeo on Jeju. We have more say about our lives than most women.

Sumi Hahn, The Mermaid from Jeju

Set in post-war Korea, the book tells a story of Junja, a young sea diver from the Korean island of Jeju. Junja, just like her mother and grandmother, belongs to a group of women called haenyeos, who spend their days hunting for seafood and seaweed at the shores of Jeju Island. One day, the girl is sent on a journey to the holy mountain of Hallasan, and when she returns, she returns to a completely new reality.

The book consists of two Parts. Part One deals with Junja’s story during her life in Lonely Rock Village and it’s a general story about Jeju’s haenyeos.

I must say, the premise of the book is amazing. I absolutely loved the world of Korean Jeju Island, the stories of the women divers, the whole culture of Korean food, and Korean language as well. The Mermaid from Jeju is packed with small nuances about the Korean culture and I think that’s what the strongest point of the book was. The fact that Part One is set during 1944 only makes it more interesting – there is beautiful Korean scenerey mixed with war reality, there are Nationalists and Communists hiding among Jeju folks, and there are a lot of myths and legends about ancient Korean gods juxtaposed with the change after World War II.

Junja is a strong and brave main character, and the book is full of similar female characters who are independent just like her. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that already (sorry if I keep repeating myself!) but I really like strong female characters in books, especially in historical fiction books. Junja’s mother and grandmother are equally interesting characters, who are also the most crucial points of the story. Male characters are also a great asset of the book – they are not just there to complement Junja’s story, but they have their own, fascinating stories to present.

People who denied the spirit world were monstrous like that baby, missing parts that made them fully human. Without a spirit sense to guide their actions, such people would be capable of unthinkable deeds.

Sumi Hahn, The Mermaid from Jeju

As much as Part One was an incredibely beautiful account of Junja’s life as a mermaid, Part Two was sadly not such a good part of the book. Part Two is set in 2001, occassionally going back to memories from 1948, and it was told from a perspective of Junja’s husband, Dr. Moon. The part felt very detached from the original story and it focused more on the political side of the plot, especially on the Jeju Uprising (which was, unfortunately, presented in not such great details and I had to do my own research on that). Dual timelines simply didn’t really work for me and I think so much of the information has been lost due to this very big gap in timelines.

The two Parts of he books feel like their completely separate stories and I really wish that didn’t happen. A big part of Junja’s life has been omitted and her husband doesn’t really explain that much in terms of Junja’s life (and she was, essentially, the protagonist of the book). He offers his own account, which is also interesting, but lacks this magic realism that we had in the first part of the book. Also, forgive me if I’m being silly, but Junja and Dr. Moon’s love story hasn’t been really elaborated (a small spoiler alert: Junja was almost married to a different man, but they split up in very dangerous circumstances, and then it was simply mentioned that she and Dr. Moon were married).

The Mermaid from Jeju is a beautiful story. It’s a great debut book and it offers a beautiful, magical story about Korean haenyeos. I am very impressed with the world created by Sumi Hahn, but the two timelines and two different perspectives on the story seemed simply quite disjointed. I do recommend this book and I hope that this fascinating setting will mesmerize even more readers, but watch out for the two timelines!

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thank you NetGalley and Alcove Press for a free copy of this book. My review here is my honest and unbiased opinion.

Book Tag

The Liebster Award

Happy Monday and beginning of November to all my readers and blogging friends! 💜

I have been nominated by amazing Abby @ Beyond the Read to the Liebster Award! Thank you so much for that, I am really happy that someone thought about me and nominated me in such a fun tag! 🙂 The Liebster Award is a very simple, yet fantastic tag and I can’t wait to share my answers with all of you!

The rules are really easy:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and give a link to the blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  3. Nominate between 5-11 other bloggers.
  4. Ask your nominees 11 questions.
  5. Notify your nominees once you’ve uploaded your post.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the questions!

  1. Who/what is your biggest inspiration?

I don’t really have a person or an object that is an inspiration to me. I think it was Matthew McConaughey that put it very nicely (correct me if I’m wrong!), and he said that our biggest inspiration should be ourselves in around 10 years time from now, living the life that we want, being happy, mature and stable, with all our goals and dreams achieved. So I can say that my biggest inspiration is simply 31-year old me after having travelled around the world and read all the books! 🙂

2. What’s a book/movie you’ve read that takes place where you live?

That is so difficult because I don’t think there is a book or film that takes places where I live in Poland! The only title I can currently come up with is the very popular Polish film Cold War that takes place in Poland in general and has been nominated to 3 Oscars and won an award in Cannes for the Best Director! Check it out if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a really marvellous film!

3. What’s something that you can’t imagine a life without?

Is it going to sound basic if I say books? I can’t imagine my life where I don’t read, watch films and shows. I also can’t imagine my life where I don’t go out in nature to explore, take pictures and inhale fresh air! So these would be my two things in life I can’t life without.

4. What’s your favorite type of weather?

I absolutely love summer. Just because it’s lovely and sunny, the days are warm and long, you can go out, you can go on holidays to rest and explore new places, or simply read a book on a beach. You can also get free vitamin D from sunlight and stock it up for the winter which is soooooo incredibly important. I like wintery weather as well when you can curl up in a blanket, chill out and drink tea while watching things or reading things. These are my two all time favourite types of weather!

5. What’s a playlist/album/song you’ve had on repeat recently?

It’s called Chill as Folk on Spotify and it’s absolutely lovely. I need those chilled out vibes right now!

6. What was your favorite book/series when you were younger?

Of course the whole Harry Potter series. I was an insane fan back in a day, and this craziness lasted for some time, until it kind of faded away. I still apreciate Harry Potter, I am even re-reading the whole series this year, but I am trying to stay cool about it and look at it from a more mature perspective. Another series I absolutely loved was Percy Jackson. I was a massive Greek mythology geek so Rick Riordan’s books were an absolute blessing! I was also the first person in the cinema in my town to watch Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters!

7. Who would you invite as a guest on your very own late night talk show?

If I ever made a late night talk show, I’d make sure it wouldn’t be just about celebrities’ private lives, make-up or fashion. A little bit of comedy, sure, but I’d loveeeee to make it about more meaningful too. So my first guest would be probably Neil deGrasse Tyson. I just love this man and how he talks about space and the universe, and he’s got such a calming voice as well! 😁

8. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Back to question 1 where I answered that my biggest inspiration is me from the future! And in ten years time, I’d love to see myself as a happy person living my best life. Nothing else really matters to me right now.

9. Do you have a language you’d like to learn?

Russian, definitely! For some very odd reason I find Russian extremely sexy 😜

10. What is one thing that you want to be better at?

Hmm, probably writing and spelling! I know it’s a small thing but I am still in the process of learning how to write and spell in English without making silly mistakes like I usually do!

11. If you could donate a million dollars to any charity, what cause would you choose?

Cancer research. I have always been working closely with different charities, and I even run a half-marathon and raised money for neuroscience and mental health reserach at my university. For next half-marathon my money raised is going to go to cancer research, together with this million dollars I’m hoping to find somewhere!

And there you have it! All eleven questions answered! My questions are as follows:

  1. Who is your favourite author and why?
  2. What is your dream travel goal (if you have any)?
  3. What is that you like the most about yourself?
  4. If you could read just one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  5. Which (if any) celebrity would you love to go on a date with?
  6. Do you have any books/films/shows that influenced you in a significant way?
  7. If today would be the end of the world, what would you do?
  8. What is your favourite holiday?
  9. What music do you listen to when you want to cheer yourself up?
  10. What character from a book/flm/show would you want to be friends with?
  11. Do you have a personal dance that you perform for yourself when no one’s looking?

And I would like to tag:

Alex @ WhimsyPages

Althea @ Althea is Reading

Jessica @ Jessica Favor

Madeline @ The Bookish Mutant

Vivian @ Passionately Perusing

No pressure if you don’t want to do the tag, it’s all just for fun! If you do want to join in, then my questions are waiting for you and I’m looking forward to what yo have to say!

Happy reading and take care everyone! 💜

Review

Book Review: The Invention of Love by Sara Schaff

Even though everyone jumped on the bandwagon of spooky season, October got me to reflect about love, relationships, family and memories. The Invention of Love is a collection of short stories by a young author Sara Schaff that caught my eye immediately. I was very intrigued by the theme of love in contemporary world (and not gonna lie, I really liked the cover design for some reason!) and I’ve been craving to read a stories collection for quite some time now. So, what did I think of it?

All I had to do was slip into a sad old memory and let it fill my body, then my eyes. Everything felt so close to the surface in those days – fragile, malleable, electric.

Sara Schaff, Affective Memory in The Invention of Love

My first thoughts are, The Invention of Love is a powerful and beautiful collection of stories. The collection consists of fourteen stories; they are of different length, some of them are more ambiguous than others, some of them are a bit more honest and direct. All of them focus on the theme of love in a different setting, whether it’s parental love, very brief infatuation, love for an ex-husband, or love between friends and half-sisters. It’s very powerful because Sara Schaff can touch a very diffucult subject in a very approachable way, and it’s beautiful because, as I like to say, the beauty lies in the mundanity.

The stories present lives of ordinary people dealing with ordinary, boring things life, and I just found it incredibly powerful and beautiful for some reason. Most of the stories are quite poignant and many of them deal with the topic of loss, grief, or abuse during the relationships, and what I found particularly interesting is how women in these stories (most of the main characters are women) are presented overcoming difficulties or obstacles in their lives. I like strong female characters in books or stories, and I’m glad that this collection included so many of them!

Another thing that I found beautiful in the book is how strongly you can connect with the characters, even though some stories are just a couple of pages long. The characters usually lead a very ordinary life – meeting up with friends, going shopping, working, renovating their houses; yet, there is something very magical about how they push through their lives. Schaff’s writing can really make you feel engaged in the characters’ lives, and it’s absolutely beautiful how she can tell a story of a girl reflecting on a friend from her art class in such an artistic way.

It is a very characters-driven collection of stories with very strong and powerful female characters. It is simply very real and raw (sometimes though, I felt it was too real and too raw!) and I absolutely loved how ordinary lives can evoke such deep and meaningful thoughts and emotions.

The life that came after this was hard to imagine, but it didn’t matter if I could imagine it or not; the next moment would come, and the on after it.

Sara Schaff, West Lake in The Invnetion of Love

The Invention of Love is a tiny, but beautifully written collection of stories. It can be poignant, but it’s very powerful at the same time. It didn’t totally sweep me off my feet, but I’ll remember it for a very long time. Most of the stories were insanely profound, but simple at the same time, and that’s where the beauty lies in Schaff’s writing.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was given a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review

Book Review: The Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve been having a lovely time this chilly (and incredibly pandemic…) October! I am back with another review! The Violinist of Auschwitz is a book I picked randomly. Well, not totally randomly, because I really like WW2 stories and Holocaust literature, but I had simply no idea what to expect from this one. Holocaust literature has become quite popular recently, there is a big variety of titles to pick from and sometimes it can be a hit or a miss. So… what did I think of The Violinist of Auschwitz?

Night. Tears, tears from every bunk around her, hushed prayers, names of the loved ones repeated for hours on end – in endless Kaddish she could no longer bear to hear.

Ellie Midwood, The Violinist of Auschwitz

The book tells a story of Alma Rosé, an Austrain violinist of Jewish descent, who in 1943 was deported to the most infamous concentration camp – Auschwitz-Birkenau. As a professional musician, she created and directed a camp orchestra that consisted only of female prisoners who, unlike Alma, weren’t sometimes trained professionals. Their concerts were attended by SS men, Kapos, and such personalities as for example Dr. Mengele himself.

I am very happy that I found out about Alma’s story. I’ve never heard of her before, even though I’ve always been quite interested in WW2 and Holocaust topics, so I am very grateful that there is now a fiction book about her. The author, Ellie Midwood, mentioned that she gathered information about Alma Rosé from other nonfiction books and historical sources, and since historical fiction is usually a more beloved genre than historical nonfiction, it’s a fantastic way for Alma’s story to be heard! Her life is truly a moving example of human decency, and her sacrifices for the girls from her orchestra and her love should definitely be widely spoken about.

Unfortunately, this is the only positive side of the book.

I think it’s Ellie Midwood’s writing that I couldn’t really connect with. As much as I liked Alma’s story, I think the execution wasn’t really good. The narrative was very fast, way too fast for such a story to be told well, and the story sounded quite plain and shallow at times. What is more, I think some events and the way characters responded to them were way too colourful and exaggerated. This is a very subjective opinion, but the book felt sometimes a bit “too happy” for me, and I couldn’t really imagine those awful, gruesome and harsh conditions of Auschwitz that everyone is so familiar with.

The introduction of characters and the characters’ development was also a big question for me. There were many characters in the book, and it confused me a lot. Most of them were also, and unfortunately, very poorly introduced, skipped over, only quickly mentioned or neglected at all, and it really bothered me. I guess that was due to the fast-paced narrative and the author simply didn’t have much time to introduce the characters properly. Even Alma herself seemed very superficial to me, as though her character lacked depth, more developed personality and thoughts. The only character that had actually some more characteristics was Dr. Mengele, who was indeed an important character, but not as important as Alma, her lover Mikóls Steinberg or at least any of the girls from the orchestra.

It was simply a very fast read and I wished it lasted longer. Some things could have been explored in more depth and a lot of things could have been avoided. I liked Alma’s story, the theme of music in Auschwitz conditions and a general image of the Music Block in the concentration camp, but I really wished this story had focused more on the characters and their stories rather than simple and superficial descriptions.

Any music was produced out of love, never out of hatred or cruelty. That’s why there was no new culture born out of Hitler’s new Germany.

Ellie Midwood, The Violinist of Auschwitz

The Violinist of Auschwitz is definitely worth reading, simply because Alma Rosé’s story is beautiful and moving. I am glad I have read it, but I guess Ellie Midwood’s style is not for me. I am very curious to hear other people’s opinions about this book and I hope I haven’t totally discouraged you to read it! It may be a wonderful choice for some people, I guess it just wasn’t for me.

Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I have been given a copy of this book via NetGalley. My review is honest and unbiased and all opinions here are my own.

The Classics Club

The Classics Club: 1984 by George Orwell

My first book from the Classics Club challenge has been finished! I decided to start with 1984 by George Orwell as it has been something I’ve wanted to read for a very very long time. Classic science-fiction and dystopian novel, Orwell’s 1984 has become a sort of a cult political manifesto with a lot of up-to-date information about the past and, surprisingly, modern world. I am very happy I have started my challenge with this book, and very happy that I can share my views with you!

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

George Orwell, 1984

The quote above is one of the most famous opening lines in the history of literature. It sets the mood, creates the first vision of the 1984 world, and then helps introducing the character, Winston Smith. Winston is a humble, ordinary man working for the Ministry of Truth, one of the ministries of the Party. Through his eyes we see the lives of people in totalitarian Oceania and we get to know his thoughts about the goverment’s strategy of propaganda, censorship, constant surveillance and war.

My first thought is that the book is insanely accurate. Not only does it relate to the past cases of totalitarianism in the history of the world, but it also shows how our lives might look like in the future if we allow for such power to overwhelm us. In times of hidden cameras and microphones everywhere, when all of your friends can easily be spying against you, when the states have been at war against each other for as long as one can remember, when the posters of Big Brother are lurking at you from very corner, and when freedom of speech, expression and even thought is basically non-existent, it can be pretty difficult to navigate the life and to distinguish what is real and what is not, and who’s in power and who is not.

I found it particularly interesting how Orwell presented the freedom of expression. Newspeak, fictional language created in order to replace English, uses a reduced amount of words and phrases, just to limit the ability of expression. The limited grammar and vocabulary are supposed to fight thoughtcrime, one’s ability to have personal thoughts and ideas. This is also one of the Party’s strategies to control and eventually stop the freedom of thought, so that the citizens are unable to think on their own, and hence, unable to rebel. I think the creation of this fictional language is a really interesting concept, and I, as a big fan of language and linguistics myself, can totally agree that language controls the mind! So big kudos from me to George Orwell for such an intriguing idea.

Characters are not the best-developed characters; they are rather there to present different views and show how the world operates. They are quite blunt when it comes to a deeper understanding, but that nevertheless works for the novel that doesn’t focus on character description. Winston is the main character thorugh whom we learn in-depth characterstics of the Oceania, Julia is represented as the rebelious young woman who doesn’t adhere to the rules set by the Party, Syme is the “too intelligent” guy working for the Party, and Parsons is, on the other hand, a completely loyal guy working for the Party.

Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

George Orwell, 1984

There was just on thing that I wasn’t really fond of. Because I see 1984 as more of a political manifesto (in a form of a novel), I guess I found it a bit boring at times. The long passages of the Goldstein’s book really took some time to read and you had to focus greatly on what you are actually reading. Not that I have short attention span, but you get me! The book is a fantastic dystopian description of the future, but in moments of such serious political talk, I usually found myself drifting away.

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

George Orwell, 1984

1984 gave me the creeps a lot. This feeling of uneasiness accompanies you throughtout the whole book and I couldn’t stop thinking about the living standards in such reality. I loved the world created by Orwell (if I can use the word “love” here…) and I found it incredibly interesting to explore the themes in the book. It is indeed one of the greatest dystopian novels of all times, even if it makes you put it away for a while and take a deep breath after the political monologue!

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Book Tag

Finally Fall Book Tag

Can you smell October in the air? Because I can (it smells like cinnamon coffee my brother makes everyday, quince juice, rainy and windy weather, and pumpkin patch Yankee candle)! It’s also a lovely time for me to do my first book tag! 🙂

I’ve been tagged by wonderful Cherelle @ cherelle the bibliophile in this amazing, Finally Fall Book Tag. I am very thankful and excited as this is the first tag I’ve ever been tagged in since opening my blog and I absolutely love this set of prompts, so I couldn’t be more happy!

So, without further ado, let us dive into the Finally Fall Book Tag prompts! Here they are:

In fall, the air is crisp and clear: Name a book with a vivid setting.

Beauty Is a Wound

It’s a fantastic and complex novel by an Indonesian author that I finished in just a couple of days, even though it’s around 500 pages long. I still have those pictures in my head from when I was reading it and it’s so vivid in my memory that I can genuinely remember every single place, house, forest and city described on its pages!

Nature is beautiful… but also dying: Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

The Sense of an Ending

I think Julian Barnes has a thing to write beautiful stories about the most ordinary things. Some people don’t like his style of writing, but I personally think there is something magical about how he tells a story of a middle-aged man reminiscing on his chidlhood and teenage life, and then dealing with the difficult outcomes of his and his friends’ life choices.

Fall is back to school season: Share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

Have You Eaten Grandma?

I got it as a birthday gift from one of my friends (most of my friends know I’m a language and linguistics freak!), and it was honestly such a fun and interesting nonfiction book to read! It explains how important it is to use punctuation, how and when to use different punctuation marks, and why English language is so tricky sometimes.

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: Name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be part of.

Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter series

I know it’s a very basic answer but how can you not want to be a part of their group?! Hogwarts is actually a dangerous place, but whenever I listen to ambient music from Hogwarts and remember all those fantastic feasts with friends, Christmas meals, wizarding chess games, arguments with Hermione over whose homework is worse, I realise that it is really a fantastic friendship they have there.

The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: Show us a pile of fall coloured spines!

I did my best! I don’t own a lot of fall coloured books so I tried compiling a pile that looks even a little bit autumn-y 😉

Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: Share a book wherein someone is telling a story.

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas is a book where everyone is telling a story constantly. I guess it’s Adam Ewing’s chapters that are the most important as his parts start off and finish off with the book and it nicely encapsulates a story within a story. But then, there is a book within a book as well, and plenty of other mini-stories too. Cloud Atlas is one of my favourite books, and even though you have to have a lot of time, patience and perseverance to read it, it’s definitely worth it!

The nights are getting darker: Share a dark, creepy read.

Annihilation

I read it just before the film was released on Netflix, and I picked it out of pure curiosity. I was scared to death. There wasn’t anything particularly scary in it, but the mood set in the book was extremely dark, unsettling, ambiguous and creepy. I must admit I was a bit confused after I finihsed it, I simlpy couldn’t gather my thoughts, but I remember very well the feeling of uneasiness throughout the whole book. I still want to read the next parts though!

The days are getting colder: Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

The Little Prince

I don’t know if I have expressed my love for The Little Prince enough. It’s the most heartwarming, beautifully-written and thought-provoking book I have ever read. It’s a perfect read for a cold and rainy day in October when we can easily forget about all those beautiful things waiting for us in the world. I have it in 3 different editions and read it whenever I feel down myself and need a little cheering up! It’s also the best source of life philosophy, even though it’s a children’s book!

Fall returns every year: Name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

The Catcher in the Rye

It’s one of my all-time favourites that I used to read a lot as a teenager. It was one of those books that I really cherished as a young adult because I always saw myself in Holden’s character and related to him sooooooo much. I used to read it every Easter when I had some more free time and I always couldn’t wait for Easter holidays to start! I hope that the nearest future may be a perfect time to go back to it and bring back those memories when Holden played a really important role in my life!

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: Share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”!

Bookmarks! I honestly can’t have enough of them. I like those leather-like, vintage bookmarks that I usually buy as a souvenir from my trips, and I have also plenty of other cute and bookish ones that remind me of how much I love reading 🙂

And there you have it! I hope you liked my answers, I had really a lot of fun doing this tag. I don’t want to nominate anyone by name, but if you see this post, you think you want to do it and you like the autumn vibe of the tag, then feel very welcome to join in!

Happy Autumn and Spooky Season to my readers! 🎃🍂💛

To-be-read

5 most anticipated thrillers on my TBR list

Spooky season has begun and I thought I’d make a post about the beloved type of books this time of the year! Even though thriller is not my favourite genre, I read it very occasionally as more of a guilty pleasure thing, simply due to the fact that I’m a big pacifist myself and don’r enjoy reading that much about mysteries, murders and psycho- and sociopaths! There are obviously a couple of big titles I enjoyed, and from time to time I like to pick a challenging and interesting thriller/mystery, just to occupy my mind with something more gruesome… Here is my list of 5 thrillers that I am actually dying to read and that I hope won’t make me

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I feel like everyone has read Gone Girl but me. It was such a big thing back in a day, both the book and the film, and I completely missed out on it. Typical marriage-mystery that tells a story of the wife’s disappearance, this book seems to me like a can’t-go-wrong thriller story. I’ve really been wanting to read it, and even though I’ve heard mixed reviews about it, I think it might be worth giving it a shot. I also think that Gone Girl has become so popular now that whatever your favourite genre is, you have either checked it out already, you want to check it out, or you will check it out in the future.

  • In The Woods by Tana French

I’ve come across this book thanks to one of the bloggers I follow! I read the blurb on Goodreads, and wow, I like it. It doesn’t sound like a cheap mystery story, which is already a promising thing, the psychological side of it seems to be very well-developed, and I also like the premise of a grown-up man facing his past. I know that there are plenty of books similar to this one, but In The Woods did really catch my eye, and since I have trust in my fellow book bloggers and Goodreads readers and believe in their reviews, I think it will be highly enjoyable.

  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

All the bookshops in the world recommended this one to me. I must admit it sounds incredibly interesting, and I love how hypnotising and eye-catching the cover is. The description looks quite gripping too – it’s about two sisters helping each other out when one of them commits murders… It’s also set in Nigeria and I absolutely books set not in an anglophone country (and I do believe this is quite rare among thrillers). People say it’s provocative and disturbing, but funny and light at the same time, so I’m simply very exicted to read My Sister, the Serial Killer!

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The most classic thriller of all times. Gothic, mysterious and considered the best psychological thriller of all, Rebecca tells a story of a young unnamed wife who is trying to find her place in Manderley, a mansion owned by Max de Winter, her new husband. The book is supposed to be incredibely suspenseful and intriguing, and the atmopshere of the gothic house seems just lovely to me… I bought this edition of the book in one of the charity shops, completely oblivious to what I was buying, and bam!, that’s how I found out about Rebecca. It also features on my Classics Club list, so if I do read it at some point in the future, I will kill two birds with one stone!

  • Misery by Stephen King

I’ve read a few Stephen King’s books but I still have a lot left on my to-be-read, one of them being Misery. I know it’s a very bloody story of a famous writer’s encounter with one of his most avid fans. It’s supposed to be horrifying, disturbing and violent, and people absolutely love it for this very reason! To be honest, Misery is more of a horror rather than a thriller, due to its… brutal content, but let’s forget about blood and and flesh for a second and focus on the suspense! I am not a massive Stephen King fan, but he does have some mad ideas sometimes. Misery is probably one of them.

Have you read any of those books? If yes, what did you think about them? Do you have any other favourite thrillers worth recommending? Let me know in the comments! 🙂