"Because I don’t want to be the one you point to and say 'explode something for us.' That is not a Jesper talent. I shoot things with style, and I look good. Just play to my strengths, boss." -Jesper Fahey
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« Until this moment, Wylan hadn't quite understood how much they meant to him. His father would have sneered at these thugs and thieves, a disgraced soldier, a gambler who couldn't keep out of the red. But they were his first friends, his only friends, and Wylan knew that even if he'd had his pick of a thousand companions, these would have been the people he chose. »
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In case you were wondering why wordbuilding for Ravka feels so random
After going down the rabbit hole in my search for answers I've stumbled across this conversation on goodreads dated back to the November of 2013, where Leigh Bardugo replied to some reasonable criticism about her 'cultural inspiration"- https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1533856-has-bardugo-talked-about-the-russian-inconsistencies
This conversation is quite long and miss Leigh gave about three replies to various questions from people that were deeply bothered by the very surface level research she did on the Russian cilture. Here are the major highlights, plus the other things I've found while goodling:
1) As far as I've understood - neither she nor her publishers expected the first book to blow up like this. So even though there was obvoiusy a lack of proper research and some mistakes variying from minor to insulting, now that she's an esteemed author Leigh claims all of it to be deliberate choices adding that "deliberate choices aren't necessarily good ones". She also tries to lift the responsibility off her shoulders, mentioning that her work "was reviewed not just by my editor, but by copy editors, proofreaders, multiple foreign editors, and foreign copy editors". Not a single word about actual Russian-speaking person/expert reviweing the text or helping her out with creating the Ravkan language though.
The only person she's ever credited as the one who helped her out with creating Ravkan is Erdene Ukhaasai from Mongolia that she's been friends on Facebook at the time (source on this one - https://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/genre-friction-what-is-tsarpunk-by-leigh-bardugo/ ). The Facebook page under this name currently doesn't exist and the only results that Google shows on this person are the mentions that Leigh Bardugo gave in her interview, so unfortunately I couldn't reach out for clarification on this topic. Still, it's highly unlikey that someone with zero publications under their name would be a proffesional linguist and therefore qualified for such a task.
2) Within your secondary world, unless you are writing satire, things should make internal sense. That world could not arize independently of its context. The problem with the Bardugo's Ravka is that it's based on Russian Empire alone, yet she claims that "it's only Russian inspired" without acknowledging that most people that are not familiar with the culture will take it in as authentic. She takes the words and objects out of the context, misgenders names and last names and creates new 'russian-sounding" words without understanding how the grammar works. Which is a shame, given how flexible Russian language is - the possibility for the word-building is endless and with the right guidance she truly could make some unique and meaningful terms specifically for the Ravka. Also on the alcoholic kvas issue - Leigh proudly claims this as a solution to be a vodka "substitute", because vodka would be too on the nose and too common (more on the matter here -https://www.leighbardugo.com/grishaverse/the-archives/tongue-twister/). What didn't cross her mind is that instead of turning a non-alcoholic drink into strong booze for "wordbuilding" it would be much better to use less known drinks whic do contain alcohol - braga, samogon, nalivka - just to name a few.
3) To elaborate on some of the specific issues with names and last names: Leigh doesn't seem to understand how gendered surnames work in Russian. That's why we get stuff like Alina Starkov (when it's supposed to be Starkova, because she's a woman) and Alexander Morozova (Morozov would be a correct form) etc. This system is never consistent - Mal Oretsev gets to have a male surname, but so does Genya Safin and Zoya Nazyalensky has a weird non-gendered kind of in between last name (very much in fashion of Natasha Romanoff, who would be called Natalia Romanova in Russian).
Also must mention Ana Kuya - poor woman's name literally sounds like "why the f*ck" in Russian, that's about just as bad as naming your Asian character Whata Phuck. Again - none of this nonsense would happen if someone bothered to find a Russian-speaking person to read the text.
Other Russian words she tries to throw in seem to be the result of a bad Google Translate, rather than a conscious choice: for example the word otkazats'ya that she uses to describe non-grishas is actually a verb that translates as "to refuse". The noun with the meaning of "the refused one" would be otkaznik or otkazniki for a plural form. Same with sobachka ("small dog") - the context from the book suggests this nickname to be an insulting one, so the word we're really looking for would be shchenok ("puppy") or shavka ("mongrel", "cur"). The list of those examples, honestly, goes on and on.
4) Leigh does mention that she "can acknowledge that the choices I made in building the language and culture of Ravka came from a place of insularity and a type of privilege". However she's more keen to talk about how she has "certainly encountered critics, but I've also had Russian fans"...Which to me sounds about just as bad as stating "I do have *insert a minority racial group* friends and they say that me doing *insert a dubious act* is fine". The problem is that Russian culture has been demonized and overlooked for so long that most people (myself included) tend to praise content creators for including even the most sterytypical "insprations". Just because some people are willing to excuse her voluntary ignorance, doesn't mean that it's okay.
5) No books on Russian culture that she's mentioned as part of the resarch were written by Russian authors. And while reading the SaB it becomes crystal clear that that the major 'cultural inspiration' Leigh got was not from those books, but from the monstrosity that is her tsapunk pinterest board - https://www.pinterest.ru/lbardugo/tsarpunk-inspiration/ . About 80% of the stuff there doesn't even relate to Russian culture and the rest is a mash of modern knockoffs.
To summorize it: Leigh very much knew about the concerns surrounding her "Russian-inspired" Ravka which were respectfully brought to her consideration by her Russian speaking fans back in 2012-2013.
She said "I've taken it to heart and it's something that I've tried to be conscious of as I move forward in the series and my other work", apologized and then she did nothing to do better. She marketed Shadow and Bone as "Tsarpunk", fetishisizing Russian culture and using it as a unique setting to uplift a generic "light vs. dark" fantasy plot supported by the bland narrative of the Chosen One.
There was an effort and will to make a change for the better, not a single letter has been changed for us.
When I think about, I can't really remember anything that would ring as a thoughtful and clever element adapted into the story from Russian culture.
If everything is always altered or twisted, if there is nothing true or authentic then should you really call it Russian-inspired? Should you really make profit off it and call this aesthetic tsarpunk?
Leigh Bardugo could have fixed the most jarring problems with the material while doing the adaptation from book to screen, but she chose not to. There was no effort made to include more people of slavic descent as a major part of production team or as background actors. Almost nothing of the production design or clothing was inspired by Russian culture.
To elaborate: I'm not even mad. I'm just deeply sad and hurt by the indifference.
Some might argue that this book series was not written for Russians, that it was written for the western audience. But don't they deserve respectfully researched and authentic stories too?
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Okay I have something to say
I don’t care if your favourite book is written by a problematic author! Buy your books second-hand!!
Sarah J Maas is problematic: She used Breonna Taylor’s de@th to promote her books. (I haven’t read acotar or crescent city) but in the throne of glass books, there’s barely any BIPOC characters, and most of them die to help the white characters achieve their goals. I adore throne of glass!! But Sarah J Maas is awful
JK Rowling: I assume most of you know, but she’s homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist and lots of other things
Rick Riordan: I guess it’s controversial, but some people may say he’s ableist. I have no idea whether it’s true or not but I’d recommend buying his books second hand, just to be safe
Michael Grant: He is ableist. He called an autistic child in his book “a burden”. He also has clear misogynistic in his books (eg: the male villans of his books are strong and ruthless, the female villans are weak and disloyal)
Roald Dahl: he is clearly racist, sexist, supports antisemitism, and a fat-shamer. Buy his books second hand!! Please!!
Philip Pullman: Transphobic, problematic racial depictions. In his books the Gyptian people were portrayed in a certain way and through Twitter, he implied the validity of trans people was up for argument
Try stanning unproblematic authors!! Like Adiba Jaigirdar (the henna wars), Leigh Bardugo (shadow and bone/six of crows), Tracy Deonn (legendborn) and Marie Lu (legend)
If you buy their book, it’ll give them money to support them! Please buy them second hand so they don’t get any profit!! This is a new tumblr account so not many people will see this, but if you do see it, please try boost this! I want to get the word around!
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After all this time, she still had not found an end to her grief. It was a dark well, an echoing place into which she’d once cast a stone, sure that it would strike bottom and she would stop hurting. Instead, it just kept falling.
King of scars, Leigh Berdugo
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leigh wrote a scene of inej almost dying and kaz going absolute feral one time and now the SOC fandom cant stop killing/hurting inej in fanfics.
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Wylan trying not to panic while Kaz goes killer mode is me every time my teacher starts asking questions and idk shit
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i’ve always felt as if leigh berdugo wrote the six of crows characters in their twenties, and it was her publicist/editor that told her to make them teenagers. the way they talk and behave... they all feel like twenty years old, or am i insane
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Me after finishing first half of King of Scars: alright so Nikolai still has the demon, Ravka is broke,shu Han is attacking grisha, and there's a slight chance that The Darkling is coming back
Me: There's no way things can get any bad right? RIGHT?
Second half of King of scars:
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that moment, somewhere
tagged by two of my favorite ladies @ithoughtyoulikedmereckless and @bigdsgirl
last song - me and the devil by soap&skin
last film - uhhh 'the new mutants'? 5/10
currently reading: a shit ton of fic, man. but also i'm in the first few pages of 'shadow and bone' by leigh berdugo
currently watching: A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES aka that show with the indecent amount of sexual tension that makes you feel like you're watching something dirty, that one
currently craving: uh, let's see, chocolate, ice cream, my hot neighbor, a cold glass of coca cola, world domination
tagging: literally who hasn't done this all my friends have done it i guess i need more friends :(
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You haven't read jk rowling's works, but have you read the other big fantasy authors like Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clair, Leigh Berdugo etc.? I haven't read the last two's works myself
Yup, read Rick Riordan, really dig his stuff. I’ve read Leigh Bardugo and enjoy her books too, the Six of Crows stuff more so than her initial series. Clare....I was never in HP fandom myself, but I was around when she was big in it and had enough friends in it to get a pretty good view of all stuff that went down around her in fandom back then, so let’s just say I’m not a fan, personally, and leave it at that.
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Yes I did start reading Shadow & Bone just to understand wtf is happening on the new netflix show with Ben Barnes
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MARCH WRAP UP???
So I decided that Saturdays will be the day of posts. Posts in other days than Saturday will be more random and probably shorter. I do realize that it’s the middle of the month of April and that everyone kind of forgot about March, but I’m about to post my March wrap up anyway.
Because in March I’ve read 9 books I will try to write it as short as I can. It’s not a lot, but I’m not disappointed, because as I said before there are 8 books I need to read per month (because of my reading challange for 2018). Not only I wasn’t disapointed by the number of the books, but also the contents; from all of 9 books I’ve enjoyed every single one, some more, some less, but there is no book I’ve give less than 3*.
The first book I’ve read in March was Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo. I’ve enjoyed these stories. I wish I had this book when I was younger. It’s inspiring and really well written. Most important it’s not only “book for children”, it’s something that we all can learn something from. Not only young girls and what’s most people haven’t noticed; not only girls. While I get a lot of women that were mention in book are not a really good examples to be followed for good girls, the book is not about being GOOD. It’s for a rebel girls for goodness sake! The book is about powerful and influential women, which sometimes doesn’t go along with being “the good girl”.
The next book was Before I Let Go written by Marieke Nijkamp.
Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return. Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger. Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…
Though I haven’t gave this book 5* it’s still one of my favorite storie I have ever read! I love the concept, getting to know characters, the wat Marieke wrote this book, not unnecessary the style. I don’t want to say too much because I’m afraid I could destroy you the reading experience.
Another book, or should I say graphic novel, is The Mortal Instruments; The Graphic Novel Vol I.
Hanging out with her best friend, Simon, is just about the most exciting thing in Clary’s life…that is, until she realizes there are people only she can see. But when her mother disappears and a monster attacks her, Clary has to embrace a world that she never even knew existed–a world full of vampires, werewolves, demons, and those who fight for the humans, Shadowhunters.
I love the idea of the graphic novel for The Mortal Instruments because the first books from the series aren’t really good for older teens and adults. They could easily skip the first three books by reading the graphic version of them! For now, there is only the first half of City of Bones (the first book from TMI series) but there will be more! And hopefully we will get them at least to City of Glass. I recommend buying this edition not only for people who are a bit too grown for the way CoB was writte, but for everyone. It’s fun, the illustrations are really good and also there is one scene that was missing from the original book!
The fourth book from March wrap up is Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levensellet.
Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.
It’s really typical YA novel and from the synopsys you can clearly say it is cheesy, but I really enjoyed my time reading this. I hope the next book (because it is a duology, and I haven’t gave you the name of the sequel for a reason; it’s pretty spoilering). Maybe I liked it because the book is about pirates and sea adventures, and I’m all about it! I don’t have problems with light books (and this was definitely one) I also don’t have any stipulations with it. But I do have some thoughts starting with „this could be better if…”. I wasn’t the big fan of a romance in it, but I believe that Levenseller will make it up with another books!
The next two books are my rereads and the first one is Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…
I’ve reread this book because I am taking part in rereading Clare’s books before Queen Of Air And Darkness release. I have to admit when I first read Clockwork Angel I wasn’t a big fan of it, especially the love trangle. During the reading this book this month I focus on London and the case they were into, I’ve tried to ignore the love affairs and I have to say, I was really pleased with it. I’m not saying that I’m madly in love with Infernal Devieces and it’s not my favorite series by Cassandra, but it definitely jump on higher place.
My second reread is the first book of my favorite duology of all times (which are basically on the same place as Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab), and that is Six of Crows by Leigh Berdugo.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone… A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
If you still wonder about buying this book… don’t wonder, just buy it! If you already read The Grisha trilogy, buy Six of Crows asap! Or if you’re not really interesting in reading The Grisha, just jump right into it! I am really mad at myslef for ignoring Six of Crows because of the hype, but it really is worth it, at least for me. There is no words that can describe my love for this book. The first time I’ve read this book in January of 2018 and I immediately had to jump into the second book! I’ve finished SoC at 9 AM and right after this I went to local book store and bought Crooked Kingdom! Still it wasn’t enough so I ended up wanting to reread both books! First time I focused only on the story and the task they had to do, which basically made me miss a lot of really important things in relation between characters. Probably with the third reread (which will probably happen in the next 4 months) I will find something else. Six of Crows is connected to The Grisha trilogy and some people says it’s not necessary to know it before reading duology. I do believe it is better to read Grisha first because there you have the whole magic system and most important thing of this world is in it. Plus Six of Crows happened after The Grisha series which basically means you might find some spoilers, not big one, but still spoilers. I personally read Six of Crows first, but if I could I would definitely start with The Grisha series.
And now the book that I did enjoy but not that much… and everybody seems to love it… and after years of trying reading it I finally finished it. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or if you prefer The Sorcerer’s Stone by none other but J.K. Rowling. Everybody probably knows what this book is about so I won’t write about it. And to be clear I love the world of HP, I love the films, I love the story, I love characters… it’s just, the book (THE FIRST BOOK) was not for me. I dislike the first movie from the series as well so maybe it’s just how it is. And maybe because I wasn’t growing with the books or that they are written for kids… I didn’t get it. The only thing I liked about this book was the exploring the world all over again. More details about it etc. For me the worst part of the book (and I do get why it was shown this way, but it still was really pissing me off) is the hate towards Slytherin. That everybody in this house have to be evil. Like they are the worst. (I also might be a bit offended because it’s my Hogwart house). But I will continue the series becuase after all I didn’t hate the book. It was okay, just not something I am madly in love with… or at love at all. I hope the next books will be better, I’m especially excited about The Half Blood Prince which is my favorite part when it comes to movies. I hope to love this series just as everybody else so much! Let’s hope I will.
Let’s move on to two the best books of March, and the first one is… Strange the Dreamer by Taylor Laini. I am so suprised that I loved this book so much.
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep and when a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors who proposed an expedition … to someone else.
Because I’m writing full review about this book, I am not gonna write here much. I really do love Lazlo and the storie following his person, and not only his! I am really happy I did buy Strange the Dreamer and I cannot wait to hear more stories from Laini because she’s an amazing author!
And finally probably best of the best reads of this year is A Conjuring of Light by one and only, amazing V.E. Schwab. I absolutely adore Shades of Magic trilogy, it stole my heart with the first sentence! Because A Conjuring of Light is the third book in a series I won’t write anything about it, except the fact that it did broke my heart and left me empty, and yet the ending was so satisfying and beautiful that I cannot complain, but I do need more. And I heard we will get the stories set five years after the Shades of Magic, but we will see what will happen! For now, I will just highly recommend you this trilogy.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my little wrap up and that people won’t jump on me becuase of Harry Potter… we all should respect each others opinion, I mean, everybody has a right to have one (..right?). But that’s it for much, thanks to anyone who read this and let me know down in a comments what was your reads of the month of march and what was your favorite? 🙂
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My favourite scene from "King of scars" so far
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