Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy, Publication date: June 5th 2012, Rating: starstarstarstar/5

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024.jpgShadow and Bone, written by the immensely talented Leigh Bardugo, is the first installation in the Grisha trilogy. It introduces us to orphan girl Alina and her childhood friend Mal in a made up country heavily influenced by Russia, Ravka. In the middle ofthe country there is a dark rip where creatures live. When Alina and Mal make the dangerous trip, Alina discovers a power she never knew she had. Along with her discovery of Grisha-power, a group of people with different abilities called the Small Science. She is quickly rushed to the castle to be introduced to the king of Ravka and to hone her skills. But leaving Mal behind begins to tear her apart, will the mysterious Darkling be able to fix her wound? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

Leigh Bardugo is without doubt currently my favourite YA Fantasy writer. Her language is simple yet she manages to toy with your emotions and change your perspective numerous times within a sentence. I don’t know how to explain it but her writing completely strips the reader of their reins and she forces us into her narrative. It’s kind of freeing not having to make up your own mind about different plot twists and characters. Having just finished A Game of Thrones where the entire series is dependent on how you choose to read into it, this was a refreshing relaxing book to delve into.

The plot was solid and followed a simple and straight red thread. Leigh Bardugo is an amazing FANTASY writer but not an equally amazing ROMANCE writer. The “relationship” scenes felt forced and were wholly unexpected. There was no natural flow between what was going on, what the main character was seeing, and what suddenly was sprung on the reader.

Having read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom first, easily her best writing, easily THE best piece of YA Fantasy out there, the characters fell kind of flat in comparison. I really do sympathise with the main characters and their friends but I was more drawn to the plot rather than the characters. The characters weren’t boring or uninteresting, I actually really like Alina and Mal and the Darkling and everyone everyone everyone! The plot was more interesting and engaging than the characters. For example, in The Raven Cycle it’s the complete opposite, where the characters are the driving force of the book whilst the plot is mildly interesting.

However, this was an amazing start to the trilogy and I have already picked up the second installation in the series, Siege and Storm!

A Game of Thrones

Genre: High Fantasy, Trigger warning: rape, abuse, violence, Publication date: August 1st 1996, Rating: starstarstarstarstar/5

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A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series of A Song Of Ice And Fire by George RR Martin. If you live under a rock I’ll give a quick summary of the story and then delve into deeper themes of the story.

The story is set in a fantasy universe where winter and summer last for years. In the start of the series they are having one of the longest summers they have ever experienced of almost ten years. In preparation for winter the King’s council are responsible for rationing their food supply and use. And everyone wars that after a long summer comes an even longer winter. The Seven Kingdoms are largely ruled by King Robert Baratheon that waged a war against the old rule for his abducted betrothed Lyanna Stark. Mostly, he drinks and fucks and enjoys his other royal engagements whilst the Hand of the King rules. When the Hand dies, the King travels up north to retrieve his old friend, and Lyanna’s brother, Eddard Stark to be the new Hand. Unfortunately, the safety and emptiness of the north doesn’t ready Eddard for the corrupt south and he finds that power is unevenly distributed within the country. As he tries to amend the broken system he is supposed to deal with he is betrayed and broken by everyone he holds dear. The first book ultimately finishes with his ultimate loss of control and what comes after is a fucking shit streak in comparison to the piss stain the first book is.

Although I won’t be continuing my reread of ASOIAF until after the series airs, I want to add this review to the collection because this book and series mean a whole lot to me. I’ve been trying to finish this review for a while but it’s impossible since nothing can be said without giving away a major plot line/twist.

The series is written from different POV that take you across the whole ASOIAF universe. Despite being written in third person every chapter has a special sense to it, they’re never similar even though they’re not strictly first person. It’s not enough to say that GRRM has written a book series, he has created an entire universe. If he’s not a genius he must be a god. The writing is engaging and your reading experience depends on what characters you prefer. Interestingly enough, the book never takes its own stand on any issues and allows you to form your own opinions on each character. GRRM shows you who the characters really are, down to the nitty gritty and horrendous details. There is not a single chapter that isn’t necessary to the plot and story, and each book being a thousand pages long might give you an idea of how complex the ASOIF-universe is.

GRRM has a talent in not only displaying how horrible human nature truly is but how it develops by greed, hate, jealousy, and societal restriction. He explores sexism in depth and in different cultures, maybe not in this book but the entire series is a dismantling of human nature and oppression of women and slaves.

All in all, it is one of the best pieces of literature I have ever read and probably will ever read. It is although not my favourite of the entire series but maybe I’ll go further into that once I finish my reread.

 

Chaotic TBR

I need some order. I’m the most chaotic person I know. People might view me as highly organised (with my three diaries and two large calendars on my wall) but to me I’m the messiest person there is. Without structure and lists and planning I feel out of control, which I don’t like.

So, for my own benefit I’m going to make a rough draft of my TBR this summer. Hopefully I get all of the reading done and maybe even more! I’ve smashed my foot black and blue (not broken but heavily bruised and torn) and I’ve got 2 weeks off work to recuperate so I hope I get a lot of reading done!

My original TBR was to reread ASOIAF and The Fellowship of the Ring but that just seems tiring, I’m scrapping that idea because it will confuse me to read ASOIAF whilst the TV series is going so I’m putting that off for later. And LOTR is better to read whilst I’m in uni so I’m putting that off until after summer.


Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

After Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo has become one of my favourite writers. They’re remaking the Shadow and Bone covers but I really like the old ones so I picked them up with a 10% discount from Bookdepository.

Goodreads blurb:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This book has been everywhere the past year and now, with the movie coming out with the adorable Nick Robinson, I have to read it! From what I’ve gathered it’s about a closeted gay guy that is being threatened to being outed. I’ve heard all sorts about it making me incredibly anxious to read it!

Goodreads blurb:

19547856.jpgSixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.


Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

This is one of my dad’s favourite movies of all time and he can go on about it for hours. Coincidentally Filth is one of MY favourite movies and I’ve seen it a million times. They’re both based on books by Irvine Welsh so when I saw this, I had to pick it up! The best way to describe this book is by showing the trailer.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

x500.pngSince the TV show is going big I really need to reread this and FINISH it this time… I just remember it being incredibly weird but I liked it. To be honest, I don’t remember why I didn’t finish it. Looking forward to getting back into girls sucking guys into their pussy and all that weird shit!

Goodreads blurb:

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.


I hope I get through this list. Last year I finished 20 books during summer, this summer I hope I get through 10… The reading slump is real!


FOR MORE OF WHAT I’VE READ THIS YEAR YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON TWITTERGOODREADS, AND TUMBLR. MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THIS TWITTER THREAD OF BOOKS I HAVE READ IN 2016 AS GIFS

Non-Fiction TBR

Hi guys! I’m currently on my way back to Sweden from Morocco. Just thought I’d cook together this post. I present to you, my non fiction TBR!

  1. Blitzed by Norman Ohler: Did you know Hitler was hopped up on drugs throughout his rule? This book scrutinises that part of the concealed Nazi history.
  2. Becoming A Doctor by Melvin Konner: Melvin Konner’s journey through his last year of med school and the transition from theoretical to practical learning.
  3. Slaves Of The State by Dennis Childs: The USA’s 13th amendment has caused the legalisation of slavery in a way that’s not being questioned by the public. Childs brings this under focus in his book and examines racial capitalist misogynist incarceration.
  4. Packing For Mars by Mary Roach: Can you survive years in space without nature, sex, and friends? Do you have to give these things up? All these questions and more are answered by Mary Roach’s book released in 2010.
  5. Exoplanets by Michael Summers & James Trefil: I’ve long since followed the discovery of exoplanets, I don’t know much of it but I’m incredibly excited to learn more about exoplanets.
  6. Mars Rover Curiosity by Rob Manning & William L. Simon: Published by the Smithsonian, this first person narrated book follows the Mars Rover to quench human’s Curiosity.
  7. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil De Grasse Tyson: I’m a massive Cosmos and StarTalk fan, so this is unquestionably on my TBR!
  8. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah: We all know who Trevor Noah is! His biographical story of growing up in an apartheid.

Norse Mythology:

Norse-Mythology-by-Neil-Gaiman-e1487486255635Norse Mythology is the most recent book by Neil Gaiman, published February 7, 2017. The book is a compilation of short Norse tales that chronicle some of the events in the Norse mythology. Gaiman bases the stories on various songs and other collections that is explained in detail in the foreword by the author himself.

The first few chapters encompass the backstory of the Norse gods; it begins with the story of the story of the world and goes on to map the relations between the different gods. For example, in contrast to popular belief, Loki shares a mother with Odin and is Thor’s uncle but they have a very leisure relationship. The reviews for the first few chapters can be read here, here, and here.

The following chapters are about how the different gods acquired their powers; how Odin popped his eye out to be able to see more, how Loki’s mischief plans win the gods their different special gifts like Thor’s hammer, and how the great wall surrounding Asgard was built.

The last chapters of the book are made of stories where the gods show their strength. The stories are about how mischievous Loki really is, how strong Thor really is, how power-hungry Odin really is, and how independent Freya really is. And the absolute last chapter is about Ragnarok and how the world will crumble and Heimdall will blow the Gjallerhorn to wake the sleeping gods and prepare them for one last war at Vigrid, the final battle field. Noble warriors, lead by Odin, will clash in the loudest clang of sword against sword with the evil dead of Loki.

In the end, Yggradsil will be the only remain of the Norse world and within it are Life and Life’s Yearning that will begin the world anew.

The stories were interesting and incredibly easy to follow and the chapters were set in a logical concession of each other. They were written in short parts that was incredibly smart since the stories were very dense with information and action. This “info-dump” is possibly Gaiman’s best talent especially with the different accounts and translations he was trying to incorporate into one story. Despite this, I do not necessarily think Gaiman’s writing fit the narration the stories deserved. Although the information was distributed evenly, the writing felt choppy and didn’t flow smoothly. I was expecting a narration closer to my kindergarten teacher when I was a child and she told me some of these stories. The lack of classical story-telling techniques almost took the magic and mystery out of the stories.

I hesitantly give it a 3-star writing; it is a great collection for new people interested in Norse Mythology but it lacked in being anything more than a future source of information.

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Eid!

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DAYS BEFORE EID:

Eid is a three day celebration marking the end of the month of Ramadan. We begin our preparations well in advance for it. The days before we make sure to buy new clothes, or find clean and nice clothes, to wear on the day of Eid. My mum went even as far as buying new pyjamas and underwear for us to put on the night before Eid. Depending on what culture you are in you prepare different clothes; my Kurdish cousins wear their classical garb and most Iraqies just wear something nice (we don’t have any traditional clothes). Another important aspect is the “Eid cleaning” which is like a spring cleaning.

Parents and older muslims make sure the food and desserts are ready by baking the “kleicha” (traditional in Iraq) or other national pastries. Some also slaughter whole sheep to prepare for the family and another to give to the poor.

MORNING OF:

The most important part of Eid is to wake up and go to the Eid prayer at the Mosque. Either you go early in the morning and have breakfast afterwards or you have breakfast with your family and go to the Eid prayer and have lunch afterwards. The prayer precedes the midday prayers that are usually prayed after a short intermission.

DURING THE DAY:

Since it’s a celebration it is tradition to carry out traditional celebratory practices depending on where you live. In south Asia it is custom to go between houses and wish people a happy celebration, in Europe we usually just gather someplace together, either a restaurant or someone’s house. We serve the food we have prepared and give presents to the kids, usually money. It’s like Bar Mitzvah money but way less and annually.

More info:

CNN

Al-Jazeera

The Guardian

Laylat al-Qadr: Part III

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Laylat al-Qadr is when most Muslims try to act and do their best and pray as much as possible for prosperity and success in the year to come. But what other deeds are specific to Ramadan?

WHAT IS RAMADAN?

Ramadan is the ninth and one of the most holy month in the Islamic religion. Since muslims follow the lunar calendar, it occurs on different dates every year in comparison to the tropical solar calendar (ya know, January-December). Therefore, it is often referred to as the ‘blessed month of Ramadan’ and is observed by Muslims all over the world.

WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT RAMADAN?

Well, the month marks many important events in Islamic history. Most importantly, it is the month the Quran first appeared to the muslim Prophet (PBUH) Muhammed. During the exact night of the Quran’s revelation it is also believed that God decides your destiny for the coming year.

WHAT DO YOU DO DURING RAMADAN?

Like Christian and Jewish fasting, it is about abstaining. Most commonly, people abstain from food, water, and physical needs between sunrise and sunset. But similar to Lent and Yom Kippur it is way more than food. During the month you are encouraged to be more religious, to pray for yourself and others, and walk in the shoes of those that have less. The major aims of the month is to detox the soul of lust and gluttony and refocus and reset your self-discipline.

Abstinence is not only retained to our stomach; we have to fast our mouths from backbiting and swearing, our eyes from witnessing crime and watching sins being practiced, our ears from listening to gossip.

EID? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? WHY DO YOU GET MONEY?

Eid just means celebration or holiday. The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid Al-Fitr which is a big celebration where fasting is absolutely prohibited. We wake up in the morning and go to our Mosques to pray the ‘Eid Prayer’. Afterwards we pray the normal noon prayers.It is encouraged to give money to children that usually go around the mosque. Then we go eatttttttttt!!!!!!!!!! Some people eat at the Mosque, other’s go to restaurants with their families, or gather somewhere for a massive feast. Ultimately, we all fall to our sides in food comas and our elders give us money as presents. Last year my uncle got us all books… I got everyone chocolate and clothes… But most importantly my grandpa gave us all money! Haha! It’s just a gift-tradition like giving watches to people that graduate. I know a Swedish convert family that have their kids write wish-lists like they used to do during Christmas. It’s very different!

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