My holiday bag: A bag filled with books, that my local library made me for my holiday.

The Holiday Bag

In May I began a list of books I really wanted to read this summer, because I tend to be quite disorganised in my choice of reading material. I therefore have a lot of unread books piled up on my shelves, that I hardly ever get to read before something else comes along. So this year I wanted to try and make plans for the summer. Then, what happens is: my library introduces the ’Holiday Bag’ and I just had to give it a try!

Now you are probably asking: What is a Holiday Bag? And I can understand why you would ask that, since it is a brand new concept at my local library. I’m not saying that nobody else in the wold has done this before – I am just saying, it is understandable, if it has not been done where you are from.

However, it is really quite simple: A holiday bag is a bag filled with books, that you can borrow from the library and bring with you on holiday. The fun part is that you don’t get to choose the books yourself.

How does it work

It was so easy to get my hands on a holiday bag. All I had to do, was fill out a questionnaire and e-mail it to my library. I answered questions like: How many readers are in your family (Yes, it was originally thought to be a family-thing, but I belive that you can be a one-man-family in these situations)? How old are the members of your family? What genres do you prefer to read?

A week or so later I received an e-mail telling me I could come pick up my holiday bag. I was so excited! I rarely let other people pick my reads, but I just couldn’t let this opportunity slide.

The bag was supposed to contain two or three books per person, but I think that whoever picked the books for my bag was overthrown with excitement, because I came home with ten books. TEN. I did mention, that my family consists of just two people, which would give us six books in the holiday bag. Well, maybe my librarian figured there should be somehing to pick and choose from. I am not complaining, I was merely surprised!

What was in my holiday bag

And so we close in on the content. I will list the books below with their title and a short summary of their story. The ones that are Danish, will have a translated title too.

  • The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giovanni
  • De utilpassede (The Maladjusted) by John Kenn Mortensen
  • Det bliver pinligt uanset hvad (It will be awkward no matter what) by Tyra Teodora Tronstad
  • Flyspotteren (The Planespotter) by Ole Clifford
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
  • Hunters in the Night by Oliver Bottini
  • The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse by Fredrik Brounéus
  • Regnfaldet (The Rainfall) by Gudrun Østergaard
  • Silence by Mechtild Borrmann
  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

To be fair, a lot of these books had me wrinkle my nose. The fact that I only knew (about) three of the writers made me rather uncertain, but when I decided to do this, I knew that there was the possibility of receiving a whole bag of books not to my liking. Yet, I had to give it a chance, so I picked a handful of the books and put them on my summer TBR (read more about that here). None of the crime fiction books made it on the list. The only reason for that was really, that I didn’t feel like reading crime fiction, when I put together my list.

why try out the concept of a holiday bag

The concept of the holiday bag is a great way to read books, you would not have come across otherwise. It is a great way for you to meet new authors and it gives the library a chance to suggest some of the great books in their assortment, that may not be checked out that often. Most of the books in my bag are somewhat new (ranging from 2004-2016) and they have fairly good reviews on goodreads, so it’s not like I ended up with a bag of garbage (I never thought I would!). This is also a chance to show the users of the library, that the librarians are quite skilled at recommending books based on your likings.

What’s the Verdict

Oh, what a question! Well, I am only halfway through my TBR of those books, so it’s a little hard to tell. The books I have read so far have been surprisingly good. I am biased, by not having picked them myself, and that does have an effect on my experience. I wish it didn’t, though.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the first year my library are doing this, but I hope it will be a recurring concept in the years to come. If possible, I will order a holiday bag again next year. I  thought it was mighty fun to expect the unexpected: To hope for something and receive a whole lot something else. Next year, though, I will make sure to write a few of the books I have liked in the e-mail, when I make my reservation. I believe it must be hard to pick out books for random people, when all you have to go on is the person’s age and prefered genre(s). So far, they’ve done a pretty decent job down at my local library. I still think it would be something that could make their job a bit easier, and ensure that the readers receive books to their liking.

The Winner's Kiss, on a table

The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Curse is the first book of The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski.

I first began reading The Winner’s Curse on my Kindle, but I didn’t get very far into it before I decided that I had to own the trilogy as physical copies. The Winner’s Curse was so good and the books are so pretty! And I am that vain.

It turned out to be a good choice, since The Winner’s Curse was a page-turner, that I devoured over the course of a weekend. The tone’s invigorating and although it is not a revolutionary story, it is a very good read.

The story is about Kestrel, a general’s daughter, who purchases a slave at the local market, even though she doesn’t really condone slavery – or at least not to the extend of her owning a slave. The slave she purchases is Arin, a skilled blacksmith, who – despite being a slave – manages to conduct himself with dignity. Arin is put to work at Kestrel’s father’s forge. At the same time he functions as Kestrel’s personal escort into town. This gives the two of them time to get to know each other.

The Winner’s Curse review: spoilers ahead

As these stories go, of course the one falls a teeny-tiny-bit in love with the other and vice versa, which evidently creates a problem. As I said; nothing revolutionary. I loved this book, though! It has it all: War, love, starcrossed lovers, hurt, hope, friends, pride, and I could go on.

I especially like Kestrel’s fierceness and how her personality embodies both the gentle and the stronger aspects of a person. At times, as with most young characters in stories, I tend to think that she is wise beyond her years, yet at other times, she is as stupid or as self-involved as a regular teenager can be. This is definitely a bonus, since I love when the characters seem ‘real’: Like they could be part of our world. Arin, on the other hand, is difficult for me to grasp. I never really buy the whole “He’s falling in love with her”-part, although it is apparent towards the end of the book, that he has felt this way for some time. He is a very private person, and I completely understand why that is, and that may be why I don’t really get him.

However, I think, that the book could have benefitted from having more thorough descriptions of his affection for Kestrel. And vice versa. Suddenly, I feel like I have not said enough positive things about this book. The Winner’s Curse does deserve to be praised. Although we have heard the story before, and met the characters one way or another, it is a very enjoyable read! I loved every page of it, and do already look forward to reading it again some day.

My summer reads on a table here amongst are Tell the Wolves I'm home, The Girl at Midnight and the Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse.

Summer Reads 2017

I am quite the disorganised reader. My book picks are always pretty random and are pretty much just based on what I feel like reading in the moment. This year, however, I wanted to try something new and did therefore actually create a ToBeRead-list of the books I want to read this summer. My summer reads, if you like, were actually not my picks, but instead I decided to trust a librarian. After the holiday I will go into further details about this, because there is a very specific reason as to why I am suddenly trying to be all organised and practical, and why I let somebody else pick my summer reads for me.

For now, though, I’d like to present to you – in no particular order – the books that ended up in my TBR pile for this summer. Some of the titles are Danish and are not (as far as I can tell) translated into English, but I will provide you with a (somewhat) direct translation of the title, should you not be familiar with the Danish language.

My summer reads in 2017 are (drumroll)

  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
  • Regnfaldet (The Rainfall) by Gudrun Østergaard
  • The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse by Fredrik Brounéus
  • De utilpassede (The Maladjusted) by John Kenn Mortensen
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
  • Det bliver pinligt uanset hvad (It will be awkward no matter what) by Tyra Teodora Tronstad

It is a good blend of YA novels and fantasy, which are some of my favourite genres. Despite the fact that these all sound very interesting, I especially have high expectations for “Det bliver pinligt uanset hvad”, “Tell the Wolves I’m home” and “The Girl at Midnight”.

I am so excited to begin these and already wonder if my list is long enough for the summer. But if it isn’t, then I guess it is at least a good start to being a more organised reader.

Girl in the woods, holding a book

To begin a blog

I have probably already welcomed you, but then I will just do it again: I am so thrilled that you have decided to drop by my blog and I hope you like it!

the beginning

I want to share with you some of the thoughts, fears and victories I have had while creating this book blog. Mostly because I at first thought, that having a blog was something that demanded I possessed some magical skills. Well, maybe not magical, but I was very much star struck by any other book blogger I would come across on the Internet, and thought that what they did, I could never do. I certainly thought that without an education within the field of literature, information science or the likes, I was not cut out to be a book blogger, and even if I tried I would crash and burn.

I say this, because there may be some of my site’s visitors, who secretly want to start a blog as well. It doesn’t have to be books, it could be anything, and I want you to know, that it can be done!

In October 2016 I actually started this blog. I bought a domain and began writing about the books I had read in several word documents, but it never seemed right. I never came up with something I actually wanted to share. At the same time I also started a bookstagram account on Instagram, which was a much better experience for me. Being online was never something I cared much about, and I guess, that that was what prevented me from truly starting the blog back in October. So I eased into it with Instagram.

Instagram

Instagram was fun. I remember hitting 17 followers and being full of joy that so many people actually cared about what I did (or at least cared enough to follow me). I remember hitting 56 followers and being all ecstatic over the number. From there it suddenly moved fast and I still cannot quite fathom that I have surpassed 300 followers. 300 people, who are interested in knowing what I put up! Of course some of those are of the “141” mentality (follow for follow), and they might not care at all what I put up, but I believe that most are genuinely interested. I know I am, whenever I choose to follow someone.

After a few months, I had gotten more used to being online and actively sharing thoughts and opinions, and thus I decided to begin working on my blog again. I was (and am) still scared that I might crash and burn: That I will realise that running a blog is too much work – too time consuming, or maybe even too boring. But I also know, that right now I really want to do this! I want to share my thoughts, ideas, opinions and experiences with you, and that’s what really matters.

the blog

I am, and always have been, technologically challenged. You can almost say, that I repel technology. Buying the domain was easy enough. Finding and installing a theme was harder. Making the theme fit what I had envisioned was problematic and I could not have done so without help. Luckily opposites attract, and it just so happens that my boyfriend works with multimedia. He could then help guide me through plugins and widgets and all those things I never knew existed. And so now, I am no longer scared of ruining something when I log in without him sitting next to me.

My goal was to create a blog that wasn’t too girly, but still didn’t look all minimalist, white and sterile. I am a colourful person, and I wanted the site to show that site of me. I am also a very disorganised person, and I really didn’t want the site to show that site of me. Cue, my very organised boyfriend to the rescue. I probably could have done this all by myself, but the result would not have been as pleasing as this.

I am not saying you need to know some multimedia specialist if you want to start your own blog. What I am saying is: A little help can go a long way.

Support

As I mentioned earlier, I was afraid to crash and burn with this project, and so I didn’t share my dreams with many friends or family. Looking back, I am not sure I would recommend doing that. It made me feel safe and comfortable, because if I failed, only a few would know. However, I think that their support and talents are something worth appreciating and can be put to good use. I used my boyfriend a lot. “Does this look good?”, “Would another colour work better here?”, “How do I create a new blog page?”, “I don’t like this feature – can it be removed?” and most importantly: “Will you please read this and tell me if I should correct anything.”

cherryblossomreads

To all of you, who made it down this far in the post: This is me. This is my blog. Shaped and censored to fit the online community, yet very honest and personal. It is my hope to some day be more personal. To share myself. Completely. Okay, not completely – I was just inspired by a quote from Fight Club. Words will do that to you. Creep under your skin. Live there and take control. And we often love that feeling. That feeling is what creates the worst, most prominent book hangovers. It is almost addictive. That feeling is the reason I read.

Wish me luck. Or don’t. I am beyond excited to finally be doing this! And that is what truly matters.