My January

januaryThis is my monthly recap post for January. You can check what I did in December here.

January was a weird month weather-wise here: most days were warm and unpleasant so everyone I know is ill and I haven’t seen my friends for what seems like forever (they’re avoiding me so my kiddo doesn’t get sick, a gesture I support, but it’s still kind of lonely).

Reading-wise, I’ve been on a New Adult binge which may or may not be a bad thing. We’ll see. These Kindle deals are killing me. My favourite read of the month was Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, which was a total surprise because I only *liked* books 1 and 2, but didn’t *love* them. Well, I love HOF and can’t wait for Queen of Shadows, which is coming out in the fall. Stardust by Neil Gaiman is a close second, though, another new favourite. Two great books in a month is a good number, I’d say, so I think I started the year off right.

Other good reading choices from January include: Poison StudyThe Dress Shop of Dreamsand Say Yes to the Marquess.

In personal news, our baby boy got his first two teeth this month (two at once – they bothered him immensely). We’re starting to feed him pureed vegetables, too. He’s great and I’m enjoying every day while simultaneously craving more sleep all. the. time.

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What I found around the web (link love):

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What I added to my shelves:

inspire-carmack

shadow-scale-hartman

novice-matharu

heir-of-fire-maas

Aw man… I told you I went on a NA bender but this looks REALLY bad even to me… I’m setting a new rule: no new books until I read at least five books I already own (either purchased or ARCs) and no new books in February that I haven’t had on my tbr/wishlist for at least 3 months. We’ll see how that will go!

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What I wrote about:

Wow, this month was really productive! I usually write less posts. Go me! :)

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How was your January? Did you do anything interesting?

What was the best book you read this month?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Why I Love Fairytales

Mel of The Daily Prophecy asked us to write a post as a part of the Fairytale Retelling Challenge. It’s supposed to be about our first fairytale-related memory and our reasons for loving both fairytales and modern retellings. This topic is very close to me because fairytales were an integral part of my childhood and are still very important to me today.

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Neuschwanstein Castle (dubbed “the Disney Castle”) in Germany. Photo by me (2012).

The fairytales of my childhood came in two types: the literary ones (Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Italo Calvino, Oscar Wilde…) and the made-up ones. My mom was the primary source of the first and my maternal grandparents entertained us (I have a younger brother) with the second.

We had this ritual at home where my brother and I would crawl into my parents’ bed in the evening, one on each side of our mom, and she’d read to us – not just fairytales but other stuff as well – and we loved it. I remember her reading Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid to us and it was so damn scary I cried and was afraid to go to sleep (if you think you know The Little Mermaid based on Disney, think again o_O).

We also used to spend quite some time with our grandparents (who are, incidentally, thrilled to be great-grandparents at the moment) during the holidays, and they both had a number of tales to tell in the evenings. We always got “another one”, too, because they’re delightfully soft-hearted when it comes to their grandchildren.

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I then started reading on my own, and while I read a lot of children’s fantasy novels (Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter and The Witches were my favourites), I didn’t read fairytales as such. I watched all the Disney movies, but it wasn’t an obsession or anything. I high school and university, I read loads and loads of classics, but I also became interested in mythology, which is an integral part of fantasy literature and has inspired works of art for millenia.

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This is me during our first performance. I couldn’t find a photo where I looked less silly! :)

But my adult encounter with fairytales probably coincides with this wonderful storytelling festival that takes place in Ljubljana every year. It’s all about modern storytelling (mostly folk tales), with Slovenian storytellers and guests from abroad. I heard some wonderful, magical stories there, and I decided to participate in a storytelling workshop three years ago. I was a part of a great group and we had three public performances. I can tell you that storytelling is hardFor this purpose I read loads of folk tales and I discovered that Scottish and Irish folktales are my absolute favourites.

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Nowadays, I read quite a lot of fairytale retellings because I read a lot of young adult fantasy, and fairytales (and mythology) are a great source material for authors. I really like those that subvert the old tales, but they aren’t so easy to find (I will probably be reading The Book Smugglers’ collection soon).

I am also looking forward to reading fairytales to my son (we’ve started reading other stuff to him but he’s a bit young for the Grimms at 5 months, I think), because it will be a chance for me to revisit all the old favourites and discover new ones.

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Which fairytales are your favourites? Did you read them as a kid?

Which fairytale retellings are a must-read for you now?

I Mustache You Some Questions

mustache-questionsI know you all love learning random facts about the person behind the blog, so this one is for you, dear readers! (What? You don’t love learning random facts about the person behind the blog? Too bad.) Danya, a fellow fantasy+romance+pink movie+The 100 enthusiast and the owner of one of my fave blogs, Fine Print, tagged me to participate in this questionnaire. Since I love lists and bad puns, I Mustache You Some Questions tag is a must. By the way, I’m skipping the Tough Travels meme this week, but go check out other bloggers’ posts! Here goes:

Four names that people call me (other than my real name – which is Kaja, pronounced like Maya with a K):

  1. Kajč (č = ch), Kajčica (which I dislike because it’s a diminutive in Slovenian), Kajuc (only my grandpa calls me that), and other variations of the name.
  2. Bucik (pronounced BOOT-sick), which is my maiden name. It’s not customary to call women by their surnames here, but I was called this a lot in high school because there were four Kajas in my class. Kaja is not a very common name (I only knew one other Kaja before high school), so it was weird to have three others share it. We had to use surnames to avoid confusion.
  3. Mačko (= diminutive for cat), which is what my father calls everyone in the family.
  4. Pipi (= completely random, except that pi-pi-pi is the sound chickens make), which is what my mother sometimes calls me. I have to add here that I have a wonderful relationship with my parents and that their name-calling in no way reflects their opinion of me. :)

Four jobs that I have had:

  1. I translate books for a living. I love it and if I could do that forever, I would. Fingers crossed!
  2. For one summer, I worked in the translation service of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was dreadfully boring and made me redouble my efforts to be a great literary translator.
  3. I also worked as a sort of intern at the Slovenian Book Agency, helping with the archives and whatnot.
  4. I did art workshops for kids both as a kind of summer daycare programme and as a part of this great festival where the workshops are set in the street and any kid can stop by and participate. I loved this job, it was perfect for the summer!

Four movies that I have watched more than onceOh, man. I’m a serial movie re-watcher, so this list could have been at least 20 titles long.

  1. Pride and Prejudice, the Keira Knightley version.
  2. 27 Dresses. I love Katherine Heigl.
  3. Leap Year. And Amy Adams (except for her role in Man of Steel).
  4. Star Trek. I’m not a true Trekkie but I really like this one.

Honorable mentions: Lord of the Rings trilogy, Made of HonorThe Princess BrideMulanIndiana Jones movies…

Four books I’d recommend:

  1. lies-locke-lamora-lynchFor the fantasy lovers: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Lovelovelove. If you haven’t read Lynch yet, you’re seriously missing out. Best swearing, banter, and heartbreak ever.
  2. For historical romance lovers: One Night in Scotland by Karen Hawkins. She writes funny, witty romances with smart heroines and swoony heroes.
  3. For YA lovers: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I might be biased because I translated this trilogy, but I really liked it.
  4. What is this genre crap, give me a book about real people: A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. A wonderful family saga that had me laughing out loud. I adore Haddon!

Four places I have livedSlovenians are really bad at moving. It’s a cultural thing.

  1. My parents’ place. I shared a room with my younger brother for 11 years and then I got my own room, which was smaller than his but so much cooler. I loved it.
  2. The first apartment I shared with my husband (then boyfriend). It was 32 m2 (= 345 square feet, if I’m correct), so it was tiny by most standards, right under the roof of a 5-floor building with no elevator. It was really cold in the winter (like 18°C (65F) with heat to the maximum) and had a mold problem, but it was nice and cozy and ours. Really cool.
  3. Munich. I spent three months there because I got a scholarship at the International Youth Library there – it’s a crazy-cool library in a medieval castle. They have a reference library, where I studied, and an actual lending library for children’s books. I would LOVE to have something similar here, that place is seriously magical. Fun fact: I love castles.
  4. Our current place. We’re still renting, but it’s twice as big as the previous apartment and the baby has his own room. Yay!

Four places I have been: ugh, this is a hard one. I travel a lot (I expect a bit less now that we have a kid) and it’s one of my favourite things to do.

  1. Canada – twice. Vancouver was my favourite.
  2. Malaysia – it was wonderful, but I’m not a huge fan of the heat/humidity.
  3. Scotland + the Lake District – one of my fave trips, I really want to go hiking around the Highlands at some point. Outlander just confirmed this. If you haven’t watched it yet, GO WATCH IT NOW.
  4. Istanbul, Turkey – so many gorgeous things! The architecture, the food, the shops! So nice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Honorable mentions: Berlin, Helsinki, Dublin, Provence, Rome (our honeymoon!!), Paris, London, San Francisco, New York City

Four places I’d rather be right now: I did a post on this once, but here are the first four that come to mind:

  1. New Zealand – because it’s summer there now and because hobbits. My friend was just there and he sent me a postcard from the Hobbit Village (or whatever it’s called) and I have serious travel envy.
  2. Japan – I’ve been looking at some gorgeous photos recently.
  3. Iceland – well, maybe not right now, because, you know, I’d probably freeze to death, but someday for sure.
  4. Norway – ditto, it’s been on my to-go list forever, but it’s crazy expensive, so we’re saving it for later!

Four things I don’t eat: I’m a bit of a picky eater, though it’s usually more of a “I don’t eat any fruit desert if I don’t bake it myself” kind of thing.

  1. Pineapple. I hate the smell.
  2. Raspberries. I hate the smell, texture (those crunchy little seeds), and whenever I’ve had to pick them, there were earwigs. Ew.
  3. Clams. Because they’re chewy and disgusting to look at, and they filter the water they live in. I’m ok with crabs, shrimp, etc. I also wouldn’t eat snails.
  4. Tripe. While I have no problem eating black pudding and stuff like that, the idea of eating an unstuffed stomach of a cow is just too much.

Four of my favourite foods: ohhhh… I love food. I love cooking and baking. But these are my favourites:

  1. My mom’s lasagna. I can make lasagna myself but it’s so much better if she makes it.
  2. My dad’s saltimbocca. It’s really thinly sliced veal with proscuttio and sage. So good. I’m SO HUNGRY right now. Both my parents are really good cooks and it’s from them that I learned most (but not all) that I know about cooking.
  3. My mom’s tiramisu. Godlike.
  4. Brie cheese. The gooey one from French farmers’ markets, preferably.

Four TV shows that I’ve watched: again with the choosing! I can’t choose just four!

  1. Cop/detective shows: I still watch ElementaryCastle and Bones, which are great. If you’re not a chicken, Criminal Minds is good, but I had to stop watching it because I had nightmares. I hate horror.
  2. Superhero/Supernatural stuffArrow (Season 3 is the best so far), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Grimm and I watched 8 seasons of Supernatural but then it was too much even for me.
  3. ComedyThe IT Crowd (SO dorky but so good), Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  4. All the drama (in the broad sense of the term): The 100, Outlander, Game of Thrones, The Blacklist.

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

  1. Seeing our baby grow – I know all humans go through the same motions and processes, but it’s mesmerising to watch your own kid master rolling onto his belly, laughing and leaning to put his toes in his mouth. He just got his first two teeth a few days ago (yep, two at once).
  2. Vacation – probably no air travel this year but we’ll definitely escape somewhere!
  3. Reading – this goes without saying, really.
  4. Working on my PhD – as soon as I get my lazy self to do some actual work.

Four things I’m always saying:

  1. Rada te imam (= I love you), which I choose for the cheesiness level.
  2. Kakec (= poop). It’s surprising how many conversations revolve around poop these days. Seriously, I had no idea this would happen.
  3. Lačna sem (= I’m hungry). Always.
  4. Zmanjkalo nam je čokolade (= We’re out of chocolate). In a slightly panicked voice.

Four people I tag:

  1. Nikki of Bibliophibian Inc. for her love of fantasy and great reviews!
  2. Becky of A Fool’s Ingenuity for her amazing recommendations of romance novels and shared fangirling over favourite authors!
  3. Casee Marie of Literary Inklings for her thoughtful posts and her love of all things Outlander!
  4. Lark of The Bookwyrm’s Hoard for her great taste in books and shared love of historical romance!

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MAN, this was a long one!

What would you say in answer to these questions? I’d love to know more about you! :)

Introducing Author Addiction

author addictionHello, there, lovely people! I’m excited to introduce a new monthly feature here on the blog: Author Addiction. It’s an author appreciation series that I’ll be doing in cooperation with Becky of A Fool’s Ingenuity and is basically the perfect opportunity to fangirl over authors we like. We’re just planning on sharing our thoughts about the authors, nothing really sophisticated yet.

Some months, we’ll choose the author, and some months will be freebies, because obviously our tastes are silmilar but not the same. Our posts will go up on the first Monday of the month (you know… in an ideal world, but let’s be optimistic). We’ll be using #authoraddiction for our tweets.

We would like to invite you to join in the fun! This isn’t a meme or anything as organised, but if you like the author we’re doing that month (or have an author you’d like to present for a freebie month), just do a post and leave your link in the comments of my or Becky’s blog and we’ll make sure it’s visible in the post. You can do it at the same time as us, or just write it whenever and we’ll add your link later. We’re cool like that.

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For February, we chose Jennifer L. Armentrout (J. Lynn)!

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If you’d like some rough guidelines, these are the three questions we’ll be answering in our posts:

  1. When did you first discover this author?
  2. What’s your favourite book by this author?
  3. Which book by this author would you recommend to others and why?

But your post should by no means be limited by these. You can also grab our cool header (which was done by Becky because it would have been embarrassing if I’d made it) so we’ll be more meme-y (which is totally a word). You know – just fangirl (or fanboy) away! :)

Go check out Becky’s intro post as well, as I’m sure I forgot some important information.

Have a nice day and I hope to see some of your Armentrout posts in February!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor-and-parkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, published in 2013 by Orion.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Book Depository.

Source: purchased.

Genre: contemporary (well, 1980s) YA.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor. 

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park. 

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. (Goodreads)

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My rating: 4.5/5.

This book is one of my 2014 favourites. I’ve had it on my bookshelf for a year, I think, and I never got around to it, but I’m really glad I did now. It’s been a month or two since I’ve finished it and I’m only writing this review now, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot, in everyday situations. It’s one of those books that gets under your skin.

This was my first Rainbow Rowell novel – I’ve been reading about her a lot and I decided to give her a try despite the fact that I don’t often read outside my preferred genres of fantasy and romance anymore, but I’m really trying to change that.

I would have given it a 5/5 rating, but I felt like the ending was somewhat vague. This is just about the only complaint I have to make about it. I’m already trying to make my husband read it. :) I only made one note when I was reading it: “It’s brutally honest and it’s scraping me raw.” (YAY for my own personal brand of vagueness!)

think what I meant was that this is a book that makes your insides clench in the best possible way. I adored Eleanor and I adored Park, their relationship progressed just slowly enough for me to fall in love with them as they fell in love with each other.

And man, do I miss the mix tapes. Or CDs (I started high school in 2002 so we’d progressed to digital by that time). I remember making quite a few and receiving some, too. Good times.

Read this book, people. And if you liked it, you might want to check out Ketchup Clouds – the topic is totally different but it has the same punch-in-the-gut effect that I love and fear at the same time.

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Have you read this novel? What was your favourite part?

How about other Rowell books? Which one do I have to read next? :)