Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beautiful People # 18: Oriana

HELLO! I'm not dead! I know I've been super absent for the last few weeks, but I promise - I'm still very much alive! And here I am with my customary almost-too-late-but-just-barely-squeezing-in-at-the-end-of-the-month Beautiful People post :-)


Remember Oriana from this Beautiful People post a few months ago, which featured her and her husband Misha? Well, this month, she gets her own post, because she deserves it.

medieval warrior  vLadimir KALINSKi:

1. What is their first childhood memory?

Her mother cutting turnips in their tiny forest hut, and singing some kind of slow, lilting song about a princess who died because of what happened when she trusted a seemingly-nice prince too much. (Have you noticed that a lot of traditional folk songs are super depressing?)

2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences?

Best was probably the day before her mother died, when Oriana finally felt safe for the first time in her whole life. It wasn't because of any particular thing that happened that day; she just finally reached a mental peace that it had literally taken her over 14 years to get to.

The worst was when her mother died, because suddenly that peace and safety shattered, and she was back to the beginning.

3. What was their childhood home like? 

It was a very tiny, very unassuming hut in the forest, far out by the eastern border. Her mother would hang eggshells on strings on the branches around the house because she always said that Koshiy hated eggs and it would keep them away. They kept two chickens and a rooster in their yard to keep the egg supply coming, and Oriana had a lot of eggs for breakfast growing up. She never knew if it was true or not, but better safe than sorry?

4. What was something that scared them as a child?

 : Koshiy finding her mother and stealing her away again.She knew from an early age that her mother had been kidnapped by Koshiy and that she had been the only one ever to escape. (But Oriana didn't know that Koshiy was actually her father.) Her mother was constantly warning her against Koshiy and trying to train her up to be strong and independent and rebellious (maybe too much?) just in case she was ever in danger.

5. Who did they look up to most?

Her mother, for reasons explained in #4. She thought her mother was super badass for having run away from Koshiy, and really wanted to grow up to be just as strong. (I think she succeeded.)

6. Favorite and least favorite childhood foods?

Favorite - fresh mulberries from the bush that grew by their house.
Least favorite - eggs. Of course.

7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

Make it more normal? Have a mother that wasn't constantly in fear, and a father that was present and nice and not an immortal evil creep of a sorcerer who stole girls and then turned them into ravens?

8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

-: Oriana was a rather explosive combination of curious, independent, rebellious, and fiercely loving (and thus fiercely hating anyone who harmed those she loved). Wait, why am I saying she "was"? She still very much so IS. Just now she's an adult who can do things like lead an army and kill those she fiercely hates, instead of just pretending to by slamming knives into trees and shooting arrows at every raven she saw.

9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

Well, she has no siblings. She deeply and fiercely loves her mother, and deeply and fiercely hates her father and wants him dead. Unfortunately (for her), it's her mother that ends up dead and her father that's the immortal one.

10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they eventually become?

She wanted to be safe. She wanted to be in control of herself - her mind, her body, her environment.
She became the first female leader of the Warriors, and (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS) the one to kill her father (the source of all her fears).

I think she fulfilled her dreams quite nicely, though rather violently.

Did you do Beautiful People this month? Link me yours!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Nearly Ripe Books for 2016

You know I don't usually talk about upcoming releases, because I'm not always on top of that stuff (I'm a little behind in the book publication world). But this Tuesday I managed to scrabble together five books that I'm very excited to pluck off the shelves once they're ripe and ready later this year. This week's TTT topic is Anticipate Releases for the Rest of 2016 - and I'm doing only five because, like I said, I'm not too good at staying on top of things.

(Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate all the gorgeous cover art? OMG MY EYES. I made them all extra large sized for better ogling. And if you click them you'll end up on their GoodReads pages so you can add them to your TBR posthaste.)

1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
(Release Date: November 8th, 2016)

More magical Marissa Meyer retellings? This time with THE QUEEN OF HEARTS? Count me in. I'm so excited for this! SO EXCITED.

2. A Torch Against the Night by Saaba Tahir
(Release Date: August 30, 2016)

I absolutely adored An Ember in the Ashes, and think it ended on the AWFULLEST cliffhanger. Barely any conclusion! So of course I need book two ON THE DOUBLE.

3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
(Release Date: September 27th 2016)

I did read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, you just don't realize it because I binged them last year and was too lazy and absolutely overwhelmed to write a review. I ADORED THEM SO MUCH. And then the prologue for Strange the Dreamer was released and I suddenly realized how much better my life would be if that book was in my hands.

4. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
(Release Date: September  27th, 2016)

Yes yes, I know I haven't even read Six of Crows yet. But I loved the Grisha books so much, and I KNOW that I will love Six of Crows lots too, that I'm ALREADY excited for Crooked Kingdoms. It's allowed.

5. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
(Release Date: August 9th, 2016)

For some reason this book makes me think of Venice, or at least the intrigue and murder of Renaissance Italy. And I LOVE it. I don't know if that's intentional, and I suppose I will get a better idea of what time period / location the world is actually based on when I read the book, but when you get names like Mia Corvere and Senates and Republics and Red Churches and Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder thrown around in the synopsis - I'm fascinated.

What are you excited for in 2016? Link me your TTTs in the comments and I will slither around and enlarge my TBR list! (Like it needs enlarging) 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde // i return to the classics

 Displaying FullSizeRender.jpgDisplaying FullSizeRender.jpgDisplaying FullSizeRender.jpg
5297 When the exquisitely handsome Dorian Gray sees his portrait he dreams of remaining young forever while his painted image grows old and, in a sudden moment, he offers his soul in return for perpetual youth. While his beauty remains unblemished, the portrait begins to reflect the wildness and degradation of his soul as he surrenders to a worship of pleasure and infinite passion.

The Picture of Dorian Gray caused outrage when it was first published in 1890 and marked the onset of Oscar Wilde's own fatal reputation and eventual downfall. An evocative portrayal of London life and a powerful blast against the hypocrisies of Victorian polite society it has become one of Oscar Wilde's most celebrated works, full of the flamboyant wit for which he is justly renowned.

Well, it's definitely been a while since I've read anything off my Classics Club list! I'm still not sure if this was the best book to bring me back into the classics world - but I did enjoy it quite a bit. I unfortunately don't have a "Goodreads Progress" for this book because I read it during my flight home from Denmark. :-(

I hadn't read any Oscar Wilde before (though I have seen The Importance of Being Earnest performed multiple times), and I believe this is the only novel that Wilde ever wrote. It starts off with an interesting prologue outlining Wilde's views on art and the creation of it. I agree with some of them (like, "Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art," and "It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors," and "Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital") and I disagree with others (like, "No artist has ethical sympathies," and "No artist desires to prove anything," and "All art is quite useless"). It's an interesting prologue, and, I think, really adds to many of the philosophical discussions in the book.

And there were a lot of philosophical discussions, and I don't think I can do justice to this book in a short review written shortly after I've read the book once. I don't tend to grasp "deeper" things until the second or third reading, so don't expect too much literary analysis out of this post - it's lots of ramblings. But this book is definitely worthy of a reread because there is SO MUCH in there to analyze. My mother wants to read it too, and so then I'll have a live discussion partner!

It was fascinating the way that Wilde was able to show Dorian Gray's struggles and the tension between his conscience and the voice (Lord Henry's voice?) that told him that he should live for pleasure and nothing else. You'd think that something like a magically inexplicably changing portrait would seem odd in such a novel (it's not as gothic/eerie of a novel as I thought it would be), but it works.

Actually, let's talk about Lord Henry, because he absolutely FASCINATES me. He's a spouter of shocking aphorisms just to shock his listeners, and I am still not sure if he believes them in his own soul or is, as Dorian tells him, just saying them to be shocking. He frustrated me a bit because he was either extremely simplistic and pleasure-loving, or extremely deep, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out WHICH. But whatever his motivations may be, no one can deny that he was the catalyst to Dorian's downfall.

Since all the characters were so well portrayed, I can't help but feel bad for all of their plights - from Gray and his strange end, to all those whom he hurt with just a moment's remorse, I really just wanted to give them all hugs. Is that weird? They all had such unnecessarily troubled lives! And I can't help blaming Lord Henry and his social experiments.

Wilde was a strong believer that, as he writes the the prologue, "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." How fitting a retort, considering that this book scandalized so many when it was first published.

Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray? (Have you seen the recent movie with Ben Barnes? Was it any good?) 

ALSO: go enter my blogversary giveaways - THEY END FRIDAY!! There's something for everyone - Jane Eyre, and Rose Under Fire, and an ebook of your choice!  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May // axe throwing + blogversary + home again

This month. I can't even begin to explain what a whirlwind this month has been. I finished my study abroad program, met my family at the Copenhagen Airport, boarded a ship for Norway, cruised around Norway and Scotland, flew home to Chicago, and cleaned out my closet.

Yep, that ending was a little anticlimactic, I know. But it was an epic accomplishment. I haven't done a full closet clean up since maybe seven years ago. But you're not here to hear about my housekeeping glories, are you? (Wait, you're not? You don't want to hear about how many giant bags of clothes I'm donating to Salvation Army? WELL THE ANSWER IS FIVE.) You're just wondering about the post title and how the words "axe throwing" somehow snuck in there.

Well I'll tell you.

On our cruise, we stopped by to the Isle of Skye and (after a 1 hour walk that was supposed to be 20 minutes according to a kind and apparently untrustworthy Scot) ended up at a axe throwing, archery, and rifle shooting place. My mother had done Research and this was apparently The Thing To Do. 

So now I know how to throw axes and shoot rifles (with mediocre accuracy), so you better watch out. This is all, of course, part of my giant plan to become a badass YA heroine which started when I realized I had been born with green eyes.

ALSO THIS MONTH, this baby blog turned three! Did you miss that gloriously glitter-ful post of cake and giveaways (three of them!) and games? Well, you won't want to pass up this opportunity to win lots of books! (One of the giveaways is INT! The other two are US only, unfortunately.) The giveaway was supposed to end tomorrow, but I've extended it for another week! Click here to join the party...

(photos link to instagram)

Over the course of the semester, I ended up having some books (and bookish goodies) sent to my Chicago house while I was in Denmark. Soooo, this haul is going to be a four-month haul, instead of a monthly one. :-)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - my last #OTSPSecretSister gift from back in January from the lovely XXXX! I just read it this month and ADORED it - review coming soon!

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doehrr - this popped up on my family's bookshelves at some point during my four month absence and no one can explain how it got there. If you sent it, thank you! I have a crappy memory so maybe I entered a giveaway and forgot?

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen - my Danish host mother gave this to me for my birthday in February! I'm saving it for when I'm feeling nostalgic for my Scandinavian Crime Fiction.

THAT GLORIOUS MUG is from the Society6 shop of the ever-lovely Cait (Paper Fury)! I can't wait to use it :-)

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

These I picked up at a used book sale in Copenhagen which had an abnormally large collection of English books and a deal of 6 for 500 kroner (not the best deal but books are AWFULLY expensive in Denmark). 

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - just finished and loved it!

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie - read earlier this month! review to come!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - read coincidentally at the same time as my sister - maybe she'll pop by the blog to review it with me?

Dracula by Bram Stoker - I've read this one before but I'm about to start a reread!

The Code of the Woosters and Right Ho, Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse - I still haven't read any of Wodehouse's books but I really want to!

How was your May? Read anything interesting? I feel like I've been out of the bookworld loop since I've had no wifi for two weeks, so tell me what I missed! And have you entered my giveaways yet? :-)