T5W: Books Featuring Witches

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To begin October (one of my favourite month!) in the proper way, here’s a collection of various witches of every kind that I gathered for this week’s topic. And no, no Harry Potter because that would be rather predictable 😉

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Stardust is a modern fairytale, or at least it reads as such. It seems appropriate then that the “evil” characters – Ditchwater Sal and the Lilim – have so many traits in common with the classical witches you can find in tales: evil, wicked and hungry for power.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The birds talked to Patricia when she was little. She doesn’t know how they find her, she doesn’t know how to contact them again. What she knows is that she’s a witch and that she wants to attend a magical future. What she doesn’t know, though, is that together with her childhood friend, she’s going to save the planet.

Dreamwalker By J. Oswald
The mother of the dragon protagonist (Benfro) is your friendly village witch: cottage at the outskirt of her society.? Checked. Collecting herbs? Checked. Helping people with her concoctions? Checked. Her practices reminded me of the modern hedgeriders or traditional witchcraft. Plus, she’s a dragon and this makes her even more cooler.

Wizard’s First Rule by T. Goodkind
I know, I know: Kahlan isn’t a witch and her powers aren’t magic or spells. However the sisterhood she’s part and head of, as the Mother Confessor, made me think about the one in the Mists of Avalon. She loves people, she’s devout in serving her community and fights for her people. Not very witchy-like in the usual sense of the term, but there’s more to the archetype of the witch apart from the cauldron and the incantations.

Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer
Okay, okay: the character isn’t really a witch. She’s just one of the other humans to discover how to bend reality through a computer file. And she isn’t more that a side-character in this book, although she’s featured in the sequel (where she flees to Atlantis to be with other reality-bending women). I liked the character, though, and I liked this concept of magical world that…isn’t that magical.

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T5W: Books You’ve Read Because of Booktube/Blogging/etc

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Since I started lurking following the book community, especially BookTubers, I found a lot of great (and not-so great) titles to put my hands on. These are the books that I’ve been pushed to read the most, for a reason or another.

Furiously Happy, a Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
I saw this book in a wrap-up, I thought “I have to read it” and after three or four days I had finished it. It’s that good. It’s a collection of essays about basically everything that happens in the author’s life, told with a big dose of humor. I appreciated Mrs. Lawson being open about her dealing with mental illness: she has a way of with words that make you laugh even when you’d like to cry (which isn’t bad) and describes her experience in such a way that you can’t but relate. We’ve all been through horrible things, after all.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Saw on a YT channel, I thought I was going to read an eerie story and got…nice vintage photographs. Don’t get me wrong, the story and the writing aren’t bad, they’re just not what I was told they were: horror or at least creepy. It really wasn’t to me, so it felt like a bit of a letdown (and no, I’m not intendioned to go on with the series: it didn’t catch my attention).

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
Written by a girl whose booklr I used to follow, this is a collection of poetry. I gave in to buying it when I saw it was listed for the 2016 Goodreads award and it didn’t disappoint: the poetry, modern in style, is touching and some poems are so relatable to my own experience in adolescence that I almost cried here and there.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I saw this book multiple times on multiple YT channels as the “must read” for every nerd and videogame lover. I bought it and…it was a huge disappointment. The story is boring and the main character is too. Overall it seems like a whole book was written just to show the knowledge of 80s pop culture of the author. Which is amazingly vast, but unfortunately not enough to write a novel about.

The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
The best way to describe this book is: “it’s like reading Mass Effect”. I really liked it and I’m soon going to re-read it to get into the companion novel, too. It’s set in space, but it’s more of a character-driven novel than a space opera. The various humans and aliens that populate the pages are well thought of and I appreciated the effort put into creating different alien species. However, the writing sometimes feels a bit off, although I couldn’t say exactly why.

Special mensions go to Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and All the Birds in the Sky by C.J. Anders! Both of them wonderful books that I recommend you check out.

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T5W – favourite mothers/maternal figures

Here I come, after an idle week, to talk about my favourite mother figures in literature!

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Catelyn Stark, Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
It took me a lot to appreciate Catelyn, because I’m more the Brienne/Arya type of person. However, Martin pictures such vivid characters that I inevitably fell for almost every single one of them, the Lady of Winterfell included. She married Ned because she had to, which I found horrible, but the way she learned to love him and take care of him…I don’t think she could fake it at that point, not even to be the proper lady she was taught to be. And I admire her courage and what she did to protect her family, her children, everyone. She did what was right to do (duty!) and what was in her power to do. And the point in which she dies was one of the most creepy, horrific and yet best-written lines I ever read.

Molly Weasley, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I know that mentioning Mrs. Weasley is cheating: who wouldn’t love her? But she is lovely, strong-willed, and ultimately a great mother. She isn’t even that severe or annoying, in the end. What I love the most about her is the fact that she goes through a lot, but find courage to go on and be herself anyway. She never stops to be caring and gentle even in the darkest times. She never refuses her hospitality and care even with the meager income her family lives on. She loves everyone of her chidlren dearly and for what they are. She gives me a warm sensetion here, in the chest. And I think that she is amazing, period.

Clara, The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
Clara maybe be the least-loved out of this list. I wanted to include her, howwver, because she is a free spirit, a creature that seem to pop up from another dimension. A spiritist who married a man who soon became rich and more interested in his money than anything else, Clara is quiet and gentle and yet her world is full of colours and images. She let herself be loved and sometimes forget to show the love back, many times it seems she’s too busy doing things to show her affection, but she has a gentle heart and is very sensitive. Unfortunately, she also is passive most of the time (at least, from my point of view) especially concerning her husband who is an idiot even if it should be remembered that there is one point in the story in which she rebels against Esteban in some way and he slaps her. That is also the moment he loose her, her mind, his place in her life, forever and honestly? I rejoyced, yes.

Ava’s grandmother, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
I continue saying that I should re-read this book and for a reason. Ava’s grandmother is probably the character I like the most in the book, because of her spirit: she never surrenders. Not when her father dies, not when her brothers and sisters dies. Not when her husband dies and she’s left alone with a little baby and she opens a bakery, aided by a native woman. Oh, no. She never surrenders and keeps going until things get better. Even with the ghost of her loved ones around the corners

The Other Mother, Coraline by Neil Gaiman
“What’s this awful creature doing in this list?!” will you ask, disgusted. Well, the point is I wanted to mention this monster because she happens to be one of my favourite villains and she also sets in motion the whole story. A story that exist only because she does. And Coraline’s story tells more than the adventure of a kid who has to save her parents. She is a child whose mother and father are too busy to look after and sometimes it doesn’t even seem they understand her. So here it comes, this Other Mother, who is somewhat like an inner demon: “I’ll love you, if you’ll love me”. The same inner black demon that hunts everyone of us, that wants us to love him and take care of him, who thrives in our fears and will leave us emptied. The story of Coraline is a story of courage lost and found, the courage of doing what’s right for us. The story of how we can save ourselves. I don’t like this figure of mother because of what she represents, but because her existance allowed a little girl (the one inside everyone of us) to learn how to be brave. I love the fact that you can fuck this monster up and send it back to the hell it came from. And yes, you’re allowed to think I’m crazy

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T5W – 5 Books with Hard Topics

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This week’s topic is “hard” topics and books talking about them. As the hard topics were defined as mental health, health issues and such I will stick with them. Let’s get started!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I feel this book is important to me because I read it in a moment of recovery. It helped me. It is beautiful and I loved almost everything in it: the characters, the writing style, the story. I would say it’s full of love and it’s how much the main character is able to love others amazed me. He’s not naive as probably many would think, he’s truly candid and genuinely in awe with what he sees. Topics are dealing with homosexuality, sexual harassment, growing up as different from most people and the list goes on. Everything is hinted, but you see what happens through the eyes of Charlie and this gives a strange contrast between how he feels – and he is always calm and accepting – and how you feel. And, personally, I felt like someone

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
I’m not even halfway through this book I finished this book this morning. I still don’t know what to say exactly, because there are so many things about it. Laurels’s sister died, her family broke apart and she’s starting high school. Plus, there are some things she can’t say: about herself, about May, about her life. She can’t say it all to her dad, her mom and not even herself. So she writes letters to famous people that died. Kurt Cobain was one of my idols at the age of 15 and not only I understand wht she wrote to him, I loved that she did. And even if I’m not 15 anymore (I’m not even a teen anymore! OMG) I found a lot of what she said so true, so deep and moving. If only I had this book back when I was 15, when I wanted to be like May, when I singed Kurt’s song and thought he understood me…

Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh
I loved this graphic novel. I read it three times in two days. It made me cry I think three or four times and I think that everyone should read it for this. The story is about a girl discovering her homosexuality, falling in love with a woman, trying to be “right” and dating boys. It’s deep, filled with love, but I found it a crude depiction. It’s true. It feels true. It probably felt so true because, although not lesbian, I’m bisexual and thus I dealt with some things the main character experienced. I truly believe, though, that no one can go through this story and come out unchanged. I also love the drawings, but mostly the colours.

Why be happy when you could be normal? by Jeanette Winterson
I never read a book that was so clearly talking about me like this one did. It’s mostly a memorial of the author, talking about herself at various points of her life, but as far as I’m concerned she could have been talking about me. I never saw myself this much into a book. It was strange, but also liberatory, to read it. To go through me as the author was going throug herself. Fear, anxiety, loss, pain, dealing with a family who seem not to love you, dealing with yourself. I don’t know if it really counts as a book with “hard” topics, but it felt good. It felt good when I felt alone, when I felt there was nothing else and I didn’t knew who I was or how to deal with life. And that was hard, so that’s why it’s in the list.

For the last book I’m going with something that I want to read in the future. As I mostly read fantasy, I haven’t found that many books dealing with hard topics, so I thought to close the list with a book I want to read. And the book in my TBR is:
George by Alex Gino
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
– I never read a book with trans issue in it, but I would want to. Even if the tone of the book seem light, I believe this isn’t an easy topic to talk about. Since my  And this little volume popped up in my Goodreads feed and grabbed my interest. So it’s definetly something I’ll read.

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Top 5 Wednesday – Rainy Reads

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Lainey and now hosted by Sam (clik on their names to go to their youtube). I’ve been watching their videos for a while and finally decided to jump on this wagon hoping that this will make me talk more about books.

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Today’s topic is top 5 rainy day reads. I like rainy days, especially in Spring or Autumn, when it’s not cold nor too hot and you can still enjoy a comfy sweater and a cup of tea. Rain also makes me extremely dreamy and melancholic, yet inspired so I kept this in mind while choosing the books:

1 – The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslie Walton
I loved this book and it’s one of the titles I want to re-read in the near future. The story focuses on three generations of women dealing with love and loss. Despite this it has an heartwarming feeling, even though its filled with melancholy. I clung to every word of it, feeling and wishing with the characters while their stories unravelled page after page.

2 – Coraline by Neil Gaiman
If you think about the movie, maybe you’ll understand fully why this story visually reconnects with rainy days for me. However, Coraline is about adventure and courage, facing hard times and going on despite the obstacles. To me it symbolize that no matter how hard the storm hits, one can always find the courage in oneself to keep walking under the rain.

 3 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
When outisde there’s an “English” weather, one of the best thing I can do is make a cup of tea and pick a Jane’s book. Pride & Prejudice makes me feel at home – I read it so many times I know it by heart, and it’s like coming back to old friends. I love Austen’s wit, I love how she made everyone believe she talked about love when she’s making a critic about the society of her time. I love how I can still spot new meanings and new things in her story, despite having read it more than a dozen times. I love that it has a soothing and relaxing effect on my poor nerves!

4 – Fairytales by Hans Christian Handersen
Or any other fairytale collection really, but this is the first one I fell in love with when I was young. I never read it from start to end, usually opened it randomly and started reading from there. Fairies live in that place between the worlds that sometimes seem to open up during rain. Water drops are like a curtain and sometimes it seem you see something behind, but it’s just an illusion. Or is it?

5 – The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
A rainy afternoon is the perfect time to immerse yourself in a different world and start a new adventure. This is another book that smells a bit like home: it’s comforting, in some way, even as the unexpected journey that it is. And rain is a bit comforting although it distresses you a bit, right?

What are your picks for a rainy day reading session? 🙂

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