Autumnal TBR

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TBR’s… We all know them; those seemingly never-ending responsibilities that make our lives even harder than they already are. But we still love you for you are the reason that we don’t suffocate in our book piles. At least, not yet and hopefully it will stay this way for a little while longer…

Again, the time has come. Autumn is just around the corner and I can’t wait for the leaves to turn all sorts of warm colors, for the breeze to take this slightly colder tone, etc etc… I think you get my point here! So, in tribute to my favorite season, I’m willing to push myself to get out of my, what feels like, everlasting reading slump and to declare war on this nightmare. And hopefully it will, indeed, come to an end, once and for all. *raises battle ax*

This is actually my first ever seasonal TBR but since I failed my earlier attempts I thought I’d give this another try, in a slightly different way. The problem is (aside from my reading slump, though) that my life is jam-packed with all sorts of school work at the moment and it’s rather hard to spare some free time without the guilt blaming me of procrastinating. So, perhaps I’ll finally catch up on my reading again with the more open, and hopefully more generous, timeframe.


1.          Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas is one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. And I would’ve devoured it right away but my pre-order still didn’t make its way to where I live. Ahhh Amazon, why do you always have to be so cruel…?

Goodreads Synopsis: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find empire-of-storms-usthemselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

2.          Before the Feast by Saša Stanišić is a German book that was just recently translated into English and this fact alone intrigued me to get my hands on this book. And, of course, all the praise coming from a certain book lover *cough* Viktoria *cough*

btf-sasa.jpgGoodreads Synopsis: It’s the night before the feast in the village of Fürstenfelde (population: an odd number). The village is asleep. Except for the ferryman – he’s dead. And Mrs Kranz, the night-blind painter, who wants to depict her village for the first time at night. A bell-ringer and his apprentice want to ring the bells – the only problem is that the bells have gone. A vixen is looking for eggs for her young, and Mr Schramm is discovering more reasons to quit life than smoking.

Someone has opened the doors to the Village Archive, but what drives the sleepless out of their houses is not that which was stolen, but that which has escaped. Old stories, myths and fairy tales are wandering about the streets with the people. They come together in a novel about a long night, a mosaic of village life, in which the long-established and newcomers, the dead and the living, craftsmen, pensioners and noble robbers in football shirts bump into each other. They all want to bring something to a close, in this night before the feast.

3.          The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller has been on my radar for quite some time now and I finally came to the conclusion “what better time to start this book than in the upcoming season?!”…

11250317Goodreads Synopsis: Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

4.          The Secret History by Donna Tartt is one of those books you just have to read for all the praise and hype surrounding it. I haven’t heard anything but great things about this novel. Needless to say I’m overly excited to get to this one.

70897.jpgGoodreads Synopsis: Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

5.          The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt… Again, a must read. I think, one thing can’t seem to go without the other so I’ll be doing a sort of mini marathon of her two books. But I won’t promise anything!

Goodreads Synopsis: It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is 17333223.jpgtaken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

6.          Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is a fantasy read and if you know me I’m all about fantasy and since I’ve heard just the best things regarding this book this will probably be a win/win situation.

29845906.jpgGoodreads Synopsis: Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

Exposed: Feminism in Literature

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Over time reading books and discussing literary matters has taught me many things. Some of them being thinking in a more diverse manner and seeing things from another point of view than I was used to. I’m rather glad to behold this progress for it was hardly earned.

So, now you’re probably asking yourself: “Laura what is your point?” I tell you just that; it is not only about taking in what seems strikingly odd but rather forming your own opinion regarding an often discussed issue in literature, and in this case that would be feminism.

We all have read this one book where we came to the conclusion that we don’t like the main character because he or she appears weak and therefore annoying. These days one thing can’t seem to go without the other. But does it really have to be this way or is it only a figment that seemingly drains away all will from us?

I, for my part, read mostly YA which is directed to an audience between the ages of, let’s say, thirteen and twenty. I am in the center of this and rather often I found myself surrounded by some dubious displays of characters and how people seem to absorb these meetings with their own eyes. It is always a waiting game as to when the first reader just has to put in his or her two cents regarding said character’s traits and personalities. And first off, nothing is wrong with forming your own opinion and sticking to it but what makes me cringe is the fact that some people just don’t know that there’s a thin line between being of a certain opinion and being offensive and insulting towards not only said character but also the author. It is understandable for an author to be able of bearing critic. At the end it is an essential way of improving your writing but what most people don’t seem to understand is that the writer is also just a person. And who would’ve thought, they also possess, what you would call, feelings! I’m wandering off course but this just had to be said.

But to get back to the main topic, just think about it; we are all human beings. And what does that say about us? Right, we are all individuals and we all bear the mark of flaws. And I see nothing wrong with displaying this pattern in literature as well. Books are a place where fiction and reality can collide and we readers are the witnesses of this glory. So why is it, that when girls cry they seem week and annoying and as for the male characters it’s all attracting and handsome because they show true emotions? You can’t name a solid and satisfying answer to this question because there is none!

History shows us that this gender role allocation was there all along and even though it does not compare to the extent as we had it back then it is still a heavily discussed topic. Quite rightly so!

So what is it about YA? YA offers a big variety of heroines, even more so than male heroes. And do they always have to make the right decisions and to be strong in the literal sense to count as such? The answer should be simple but sadly that’s not the case. Men are the stronger sex. It has always been this way and it shall be like this today as well how it seems. Imperfection is a part of being human and not everyone can be strong and all hero-like. We have to accept this fact and see not only the bad but the good sides of a person because we have so much more to offer than our stigmas.

To involve a bit of literary as well; I bet you have already heard of the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. It is about a girl named Kestrel who lives in a fantastical world. The story is very politically-heavy and this is reflected in our main character either. She isn’t the typical strong heroine but rather a calculating and cunning mastermind who needs nothing but her knowledge to win her battles. In my opinion this concept is so much better than fighting your enemies with your fist, in many ways. It shows that we are capable of so much more than violence and recklessness.

Did you get my point? We, as the readers, have the power to change how we view these types of things but most just stick to what’s old and advocated for. It’s correct that, especially in the YA genre, this major movement has already settled in but it has the potential to show the true extent of what could be. So the next time, before you start criticizing a character, just take your time and question your earlier intentions. Perhaps you come to terms with it and even though it’s just a small step toward equality it is one more than we have reached before and can still make a difference.

Prejudices among non-readers

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I think all of us, as avid readers, can relate to this topic to a certain extent. There are always people who think they know what our personalities and traits must look like based on the simple fact that we are this alien species called book lovers, may it be strangers, acquaintances or even friends and relatives.

Even though the tension decreased and this seemingly never-ending fight between us readers and non-readers lost a bit of its gun powder over the course of the last few years there’s still this huge pit separating us from each other. This can even result in insecurity and anxiety on the reader’s part which leads to our asking whether they are right or wrong. Every single one of us is affected by this on a different level and I think we all questioned ourselves more or less already. So I picked some notorious stereotypes that need be proven wrong once and for all.

 

I. Book lovers are automatically geeks and nerds

This stereotype in particular is the one that gets to me the most. Reading doesn’t makes us eager beavers and please stop referring to us as such. Our love for books isn’t to be compared to the willingness to learn. Those two things might go along on some level and I also might be interested in some things but we still have our preferences. I love history but I hate math. I like biology but I despise physics. You see, it’s not like we fall to our knees and start pleading for more answers. It’s just annoying to be degraded as something that we are not and even if we are willing to learn new stuff I can’t see where this could be a bad thing.

II. We live in our own fictional worlds and don’t know where to draw the line

Please, we are perfectly capable of deciding on what’s fictional and what’s not. Reading books doesn’t drive all sense of reality out of us after all. Yes, we like spending time in fictional worlds. I mean who wouldn’t love to go to Hogwarts or voyage to the core of Narnia at least once? But we do know that those aren’t real and only made up. But that also won’t stop us from wishing and hoping we could visit those places anytime soon.

III. Readers are socially inept

We might spend a lot of time cuddled up in our beds with a hot cup of tea or coffee and a good book at our side but does that make us socially inept? No! Everyone is different. There are all sorts of readers such as there are all sorts of non-readers. There are the blunt ones, the funny ones, the shy ones,… You see, it’s a big variety to choose from. I’m shy myself but I’m not anti-social. I do have wonderful friends and yes, I also talk to them. You know, I’m talking about the whole package here: having a full-length conversation and not hiding behind the pages of a book in the middle of it.

IV. We don’t do anything besides reading all day

This might come as a shock to you now but yes, we do have a life. It’s not like reading is our only purpose and aspiration. Yes, we do find pleasure in reading books and discussing them afterwards but that doesn’t mean that we don’t like other things as well. I, for my part, love traveling and taking photos just as much as I love books. And I know that others feel the same way. We don’t dedicate ourselves to reading and it would be ridiculous to pretend otherwise.

V. Literature and books are boring

I always say: If you don’t enjoy reading then you just haven’t found the right book yet. Mostly I get snarls for an answer but I hope you get my point here. If my first movie ever turned out to be a bad one does that mean every single movie in the universe is bad either? No and it’s just the same with books. You have to find the right genre for you and then you  can feel your way to this one book that sucks you in and will leave you begging for more. As I was a child I thought reading was a bad thing because everyone told me so but my parents forced me to and I’ll be honest; I hated it at first. But who likes things that are being forced upon you? I think everyone can agree with me on that. But then I came across YA and that changed my life for the better. Meanwhile my reading taste has enhanced a lot and I also found pleasure in reading NA, classics, et cetera.

VI. Just because we are readers doesn’t makes us love every single book

Just to get that out of the way: We are not all-devouring maniacs. As I’ve already mentioned everyone of us is different and thus has different preferences. My go-to genre would be fantasy but I also love historical fiction and magical realism. YA contemporary is something I rarely ever pick up though. But let’s stick with my favorites first. Just because I’m a sucker for fantasy doesn’t mean I love every single book within this genre. It’s just the direction I prefer to go to. Perhaps you’re just the opposite and love YA contemporary and loathe fantasy but that’s alright as well. Everyone’s taste is different and we all should respect that.

 

 

This is something I’ve wanted to discuss for quite a while now because I just felt that these words had to be spoken sooner or later. And now it feels like this heavy weight I’ve carried with me has finally been lifted off my shoulders. So thank you for bearing with me and hopefully you are of the same mind as I am.