Yellow Cover | Friday Face Off

This is a weekly thing created by Books by Proxy, but currently run by Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme: “I wandered lonely as a cloud” – a cover that is predominantly yellow

My pick: The Master and Margarita (a classic I have yet to read) by Mikhail Bulgakov

Kindle 50th anniversary edition (2016) Penguin Books | Paperback (2004) by Vintage Classics

Paperback (1995) by Grove Press | Paperback (2007) by Penguin Books | Portuguese Paperback (2010) by Alfaguara

Paperback (2012) by Alma Books | Paperback (2011) by Wordsworth Editions

Turkish paperback (2018) by Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları | Italian paperback (2014) by Feltrinelli

My pick

There’s soooo many editions of this book, I selected the funny and devilish cat covers on purpose. But also, as someone who’s not read the book yet, there’s way too many devil cat options. This Penguin classic option just made me laugh out loud with the surrealness.

Feather Cover | Friday Face Off

This week’s theme: “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes” – a cover featuring feathers

My pick: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Kindle (2016) by Orion Children’s Books | French Paperback (2017) by Milan | Portuguese Ebook (2017) by Gutenberg

Serbian paperback (2017) by Urban Reads | Ukrainian Hardcover (2018) by Vivat

Persian Edition | Collector’s Edition Hardcover (2019) by Orion Children’s Books

My pick

This collector’s edition cover is honestly the only cover I like. The HUGE ASS raven along with the golden brownish colors aren’t working for me.

*delete quickly* tiny uni update

I was going go write a normal bi-weekly update, but I just don’t have the time. Maybe I’ll incorporate this into it. I’m two days into university after spending the last three weeks moving, on my own. There’s sooo many changes. I share a kitchen with fifteen people, all of them really nice so far, if pretty shy. I’m surrounded by other physics & maths nerds and – two days in – nothing else seems to be important but those two subjects. Except drinking, of course. My feet are literally bleeding. The last two boxes that I’ve yet to move from the post office has all my rain clothes and I’ve been soaking wet the past two days. We’re having an introduction week socially and with subjects, meaning I’m running from school to home, quickly catching up with new friends here, back to school, then to some random house and then out (mostly partying so far). We’re all so adorably introverted that I seem like an outgoing social person in comparison to most. It’s such interesting people though. I just ended the night talking to three math students about the most geeky shit, some that went way above my head. My feet and back and everything really hurt, I feel like an old person, after so much running around and trying to figure things out. I love getting to know so many welcoming people, but I have no quiet private moments that I don’t desperately need to sleep/cook/eat. And even with the last two I rarely do so alone.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson | Book Review

Genre: YA fantasy romance, fae creatures

Pages: 300

Synopsis

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: two stars

I’ve got mixed feelings on this book, but mostly it felt like fanfiction or a draft nowhere near ready for publishing. I continued reading it to the end because I was waiting for some twist or new creative direction of the book and plot without that ever happening. My biggest problem was bad writing. The last sentence sums it up, because it could’ve been funny, I guess, if it wasn’t how the whole book was written:

And we wouldn’t live happily ever after, because I don’t believe in such nonsense, but we both had a long, bold adventure ahead of us, and a great deal to look forward to at last.

Isobel is interesting as a character that has value to the fae because she’s a great painter, and able to do something they can not, so it starts from a great concept. Especially when she so clearly from the beginning has her boundraries set and keeps a certain distance to her intriguing and dangerous clients. Not that that lasts long. It would’ve been fair to take inspiration from A Court of Mist and Fury, but this book is just nowhere near as good in its execution. Unfortunately, as lovely as the cover is, the story itself became unoriginal and uninteresting pretty quickly.

Pirate Cover | Friday Face Off

This is a weekly thing created by Books by Proxy, but currently run by Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme: “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” – A cover featuring Pirates

My pick: Demons of the Ocean (Vampirates #1) by Justin Somper

Yeah you heard right – vampirates – vampire pirates!!!

Ebook (2008) Little, Brown Books – Ebook (2010) by Simon & Schuster UK  – Italian (2006) by Arnoldo Mondadori

Hardcover (2006) by Litte Brown and Company – Swedish (2010) by B Wahlströms – Slovak (2008) by Slovart

My favourite

The italian one looks extremely italian somehow. The one I read once upon a time was the first one, so it has a place in my heart as the ultimate pirate book cover. But the winner is truly this detailed one –

A Break-Up Letter to My Village

I’m moving. I wondered whether to post this or just keep it to myself, but why not. I’m currently publishing this from a six hours busride to the new city. I both love and hate this place I’m leaving behind, which makes everything so much more difficult. I’m reminded of Mary Oliver’s poems about her hometown, where she continually goes back in her mind to her love for the nature, but also she escaped into the nature – reading poetry collections in the forest – to get away from the awful parts. Also the italic parts are the ones you’re definitely allowed to skip because this is a roller coaster.

My grandpa was very ill when we made the choice to move five years ago, to this village in a valley with a thousand people living here. The reason we moved wasn’t because he was ill, but the connection to him and this place was why we moved here. And then – in the summer between the decision and the move – he died. My grandpa was a man who went through hardships in his life, including having his leg amputated after illness. Still, he also always seemed larger than anyone he was standing in front of. He wasn’t born in the valley village, but right across the deep ‘fjords’, on a mountain farm only accessible by boat.

When my grandpa was a child during WW2 his family hid politicans from the nazis in the area. It was a combined effort from multiple farms, but ours had a great & useful escape plan because of the mountain layout. One politician in particular made an impact on him, with the way he carried himself and spoke. That politican looks quite similar to the man my grandpa would become, going from leading the factory workers campaign to being the mayor and then getting better hospitals built in the district.

When we moved I spent one year in the village full-time, being very active in the community, before I started high-school in the city and chose to commute an hour each way by a tiny bus instead of moving straight away like most 16-year-olds did. And I continued to live there and commute one hour each way for the next four years.

What everyone asks me about: Isn’t commuting to school and waking up at 5 am every day fucking exhausting?

What I say: *insert one of five different standard answers, because i’m really bored of this question*. What I want to say: I really really really want this education and is willing to do anything for it, I already moved from across the country for this reason, I don’t think you understand. I learned my limits though – can’t sleep less than five hours three days in a row, or sleep only five hours all weekdays and expect to be functioning during the weekend. Also the lack of sleep is probably damaging in the long run, but I’ve not looked into the science behind this on purpose.

The commute took three different buses, meaning you never got to sleep for the whole hour. The worst period was when my joints were so bad that standing up and walking off the bus after half an hour was pure torture, not to mention half-jog to the next one. I really should’ve had crutches, but I never knew if my wrists or knees would be more locked up. But it hasn’t been that bad – I like daydreaming/reading/sleeping/creating stories while looking out on the beautiful nature on my commute. It does really dig into the time I have to study and other activities though, which is where the lack of sleep comes in.

I’m not the first in my family that commuted. At the beginning of this year I found a book mentioning how my greatgrandparents used to commute an hour and a half to elementary school from the family mountain farm across the ‘fjords’ – by fishing boat. The waters here are treacherous too often, so applause to them.

What I wished was the NR 1 problem in this village:

  • We don’t have any sun in my village for FIVE MONTHS from october to march. The tall mountains of the valley block any chance of seeing sunlight and it’s more depressing than you can imagine. It’s not like it isn’t dark enough up north during winter. My grandma hated it too, and she was from even further north, where the nights can be even longer.

What’s actually the NR 1 problem in this village:

  • As much as I’ve found community in parts of this village, with incredible adults behind them, I’ve found the darkest evil hatred as well here. In such a small community one person can do a lot of good, as well as a lot of bad. I got on the wrong side of one of the bad ones. And then – because it’s such a small town – each person has their own relationship and view of these people and then it takes a lot to try to change people’s minds or make them see the parts you’re seeing. I’ve done it for a few people. But then it’s not always worth it, and if you meet the wrong person, suddenly the target on your back has grown. There’s also a lot of willful ignorance here as well, besides the evil. The bullying is really bad. People are targeted and harassed for pointing it out to outside authorities. People’s lives are destroyed over it. More ignorance is spread as the kids in general internalize the culture. People who’s not grown up here is told they don’t belong here, also straight-out at community events. Because who’s here to reprimand them?

So I’m finally leaving, and I hope I can return and again see beauty here sometime

I don’t agree with how this village is run. I can appreciate the nature of it, the wildness and the history both I personally and my family has with it. But living here made me see something I didn’t when I came here on holidays and vacations – the corrupted unmoral souls of some of the people in charge. It makes some sense, the lack of people to double-check your decisions makes it easier to get away with being mean and unfair, until it grows into abusing your power outright and there being no system to rein it in because they either dissolved them or never set them up.

Sometimes I want to scream from the treetops what this village has done. To itself. To who knows how many people (I’ve heard a handful of tragic stories, who knows how many more there are). Or maybe it’s just a few bad people, but then the rest of us have kept our mouths shut long enough for them to gather that power, some too afraid of the consequences, some thinking it just doesn’t affect them. Staying quiet is like poison slowly working itself into everyone’s system until you don’t notice that it affects how you think and behave, until it seems like the only good choice.

My grandpa was never one to keep quiet about injustice. But I had to, to survive here as a teenager from the outside looking at all these youths who won’t know before they leave how unormal their surroundings are and hoping, crossing my fingers hoping, they’ve not internalized one too many bad lessons. I’m all for having small communities that can give safe enviroments to grow up in, or so I thought. But I don’t know how this village turned into what it now is, while also pretending and promoting how inclusive they are and making safe homes for children. I haven’t seen this type of evil until I came here.


I do really love the calm of this place and wondered long if I was going to be one of those people who just … stayed. Or left, but never really left, returning every weekend and eventually settling down with one of the few jobs here once they’ve gotten their degree. This all might sound dramatic, but typing all this out it feels more of an understatement. Giving out any details feels dangerous because I’ve felt the backlash during my time here. But also whatever I write doesn’t convey the ice-cold emptiness I usually feel instead of rage, because there’s this nagging self-doubting comments of “what did you really expect by speaking up”? as I pass the person who’s hurt me the most, for the first time in two years on a narrow street a sunday evening, both staring straight ahead.

a calm summer bookish update

I made a summer 2019 TBR & a summer goals post, so let’s see how badly things have gone there now that my vacation ends in under a week.

Goals update

What I was afraid of didn’t happen; I was (kind of) healthy throughout the summer! What I didn’t expect was last year’s summer of nearly dying haunting me this much; every time I go in the shower I remember not being able to twist my body or raise my arms above my head because it feel like my chest would burst with pain, every time I go into the ocean I remember how cold the water felt last year and how I had to use minutes to go slowly into the water, because the cold naturally makes you breath deeper and shiver, which set of incredible amounts of pain, even on heavy pain medications. I was too proud when I was eventually back to jumping straight into the ocean.

  • Redesign graphics: no progress made, hehehe. I’ve tried, but when I’ve had the most free-time I didn’t have a computer because 1) first I didn’t have internet and 2) my last computer broke down. It’s still just excuses though, I just haven’t gotten around to it.
  • Get a routine to my writing: I’ve thought a lot about writing, but gotten no actual writing done. Which I feel surprisingly not bad for, it might’ve helped to talk to a published author a few years older than me that was like “I’ve gotten money to write this book already, and I’ve written a total of 5000 words this whole summer”. Aaahh, the stress that must be.
  • Get a routine to my day (because otherwise I fall apart): yes and no. At the start of summer I was really struggling because I’m that much of a distracted person who forgot to eat. Like honestly forgot, until the evening. I’ve gotten better with the eating and in general, I guess.
  • Pack for vacation and then moving: finally something I managed to do. It took more work than I would’ve guessed, but I managed to sort out all my belongings and am going to pack my final two bags for the move one of these days.
  • Start training: yes!!! although not how I expected. I thought I would sign up for a gym or a yoga class, but I’ve been very physically active outside and with family. I’ve got some football-loving-nearly-went-professional freaks of some brothers and cousins, mainly everyone but me, and I’m better than I expected?? for not playing for two years?? Trying to keep up with them was all I did during summers growing up though.

Summer TBR update

I’ve ordered the books, so I’ve been staring at them all summer, but I’ve barely read any of them it feels like. There was 11 books on my TBR and I’ve started two of them…

This was a small selection, believe me

Currently kind of reading:

The best book of the summer: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Looking back

Sometimes the summers aren’t as productive as I would like, but why the hell would I beat myself up for it, instead I’ve tried to look at the factors that contributed to that. In this case, I think I needed to relax way more than I thought, and I wasn’t aware how long it would take to get to that point of “I’m safe, I can let my guard down, I can take care of myself while not stressing about this and that”. But I did, so it’s been a great summer even if I wished I got to see more of my friends or catch up on more projects. It hasn’t by any means been a picture-perfect time with a bunch of exciting stories to share, but that’s okay. Hope your summer has been great too, and if not, that you’re at least not beating yourself up over it.

Denmark, you were windy as always, but at least I got (0.002 of) a ton of tea – yes, i’m hugging it. Everything has been smelling of tea since.

Three Reasons Behind My Reading Slumps

They just renovated this library and set in these cute sitting corners

…guilt

The good old being guilty for not reading for school instead. How can I read a book on Einstein’s life when I have a lot of physics chapters I could get through. Not to mention fantasy books or other fiction.

My solution: read more poetry or graphic novels. I feel like I can read for a shorter period of time and still get a lot from it and it’s a different kind of reading that doesn’t remind me of the work I have left. But really that’s the temporary solution and the real solution is to realize I shouldn’t feel like I need to study all the time, and reading is something I love to do and don’t want to sacrifice completely. It’s better than watching tv series?

everything gives me ideas and now i’m writing again

I have this problem of having periods with writing where I’m all in it and the problems and conflicts are going through the back of my head all at once and then there’s periods of no writing at all. And when I’m all in it, picking up a book might mean I get three pages in before I have a fit on inspiration, or is just reminded that now is a great time, and need to put the book down and think or find something to write on and hours later that book is sad and discarded on the floor. And so is everyone else as long as it’s going on.

My solution: it doesn’t exist yet. I’ve just got to get it out it seems, much like any obsession, everything else I’ve tried has failed.

sometimes i’m just sick

Sometimes I don’t have concentration ability I usually do or the energy. I’m chronically ill and there’s been periods where I’ve needed the escape books usually can give me, but simply can’t seem to focus long enough to get into the story.

My solution: AUDIOBOOKS! To be completely honest – I mostly dislike audiobooks. Or I did, until one faithful summer where I spent a month in and out of hospital and needed surgery. Audiobooks became the savior, which I wrote a post about how my opinion changed on them and my favourite types.


I don’t think everyone of these reasons are something people will identify with, but for me “I don’t have the time” is less of a problem than “I don’t have the energy”, with reading as with most things. I naturally rather would spend time reading than watching tv, and there’s always downtime while waiting for things or people. I imagine I’ll be in more reading slumps starting studying again, but let’s hope for a (school)year of good health and lots of good books.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim | Audiobook Review

Genre: YA fantasy

Pages: 385

Synopsis

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Audiobook review

Narrated by Kim Mai Guest: the soft voice fits the protagonist so well and the storytelling was amazing, like the slight change of her voice as the protagonists tried to mask as a boy. It seemed like a difficult task and she nailed it.

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: three

From about 30% in to 70% in, I was considering not picking this book back up. It just lacked something for me, that drive that makes me want to know more about how it’s going to end for the characters.

I think the publisher selling this book as the crossway between Project Runway and Mulan isn’t right for this book. It’s definitely got elements of both of those, with there being a competition to be the imperial tailor (instantly reminding me of the assassin competition in Throne of Glass) and the protagonist having to mask as a boy to be able to participate and restore her family’s honor. The problem is that Mulan’s story is so much better in every way. The romance is better, the bravery and single-mindedness of Mulan is better, it’s more exciting to read about fighting than tailoring and the training and close quarters leads naturally to more close-calls about Mulan’s identity. All the humor is stripped from this book. The short insults between the protagonist Maia and Edan tries to make up for it, but they’re more annoying and makes them seem more like siblings than romantically interested. I really disliked that romance, even though it’s not as forced or badly handled as it could’ve been.

I like the characters of Maia, as I like Eden in himself, but as a protagonist she doesn’t move the plot forward. It’s okay to be inexperienced and elegant, but she seems to be able to take tough choices like dress up as a guy and risk her life, and then falls into this role of needing guidance on much smaller issues. I think it’s given too much thought that she can’t be a much better tailor than old men with long careers and be able to figure things out on her own, but as a consequence Edan and the masters are guiding her every move. She never has that breaking point where she sits down and worried about how to do something, the solution is always given to her. This book just lacks that level of conflict, there’s this big threat of being killed hanging over her, but everything else goes her way. And in that it becomes predictable.

This book has a shift about 60% in where Maia goes on a journey and it becomes more magical and has that classical fantasy journey to gather supplies. Still she’s being led around by Edan, but she’s also has to find strength within herself to complete the tasks and FINALLY we’re seeing some character development. *imagine me raising my hands in victory while reading those parts* At the end of the book I nearly convinced myself I liked it, hadn’t it been so slow and lacking in the beginning. While I feel it gives the book a tougher starting point, I really like the tailor aspects and the descriptions of her craft. Sometimes I felt the garments wasn’t described well enough, but at the same time the competition took forever and became boring. Remember the parts of Project Runway with the judges critique that you skip?

I would recommend to give this book a try if you really want to.

Feelings reading this book: (yes, we’re bringing this back again) frustration, oh calm meditational stitching, frustration, bored.