Disclaimer: Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with the ARC of this; Last of the Talons book! I received this copy for free and I’m leaving this review voluntarily.
Always controlled. Always at another’s whims. Whether it be at the behest of the Blackbloods or at the will of the Dokkaebi emperor, I am never anything but a pawn to be moved around the chessboard by another’s hands. I am nothing but a plaything.
Last of the Talons
Every step Shin Lina takes in life is decided by someone else, but if there’s any mistake in the calculation, that misstep is hers to take responsibility for. She carries so much on her shoulders, her literal life is not in her hands. Loss after loss, it’s easy for her to throw herself in the near-death situations – after all, that’s where she danced all her life. So, when the Dokkaebi shows up at the rooftop, the game doesn’t change, the stakes just get higher.
For my loud and messy mind, this book quieted every voice but that of the story in front of me. I know that sounds too dramatic, but I was literally glued to my seat and completely ignored the pain in my back, because nothing could’ve torn me apart from this gem of a book.
I loved the story, was bought by the Korean mythology, stuck around for Lina & Rui’s dynamic. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book with this much chemistry between the MCs. The bickering, the teasing…oh, I can’t!
I don’t want to spoil things, but I want to talk about the details in the book, like the eyes and the looks, how you can actually tell every emotion and how the author played with that. The way she portrayed the pain and the grief, as well… genius! And the fact that this is her debut novel… Besties, grab this book! Don’t make me use some Manpasikjeok magic on you!
Anyway, I feel like I haven’t presented the book well enough yet, so here’s some rapid-fire facts about it:
ENEMIES-TO-LOVERS, I repeat, ENEMIES-TO-LOVERS
amazing story building
wonderful dynamic between all characters, actually
beautifully crafted backstories
flashbacks throughout the story that build up to a crescendo of pain, grief, regret (and empathy from a reader)
the DETAILS!!! the subtle moments
Although the story could’ve ended completely where it has now, I hear that there’s a sequel coming, and best believe I’ll be waiting for that one. I am officially a Sophie Kim devoted fan.
First week at the University of Santiago de Compostela
This semester is the first one going back to in-person classes at the University of Santiago de Compostela, so, to welcome and motivate their students, the University organized a bunch of activities for everyone’s liking. There were sport events, concerts, picnics, traditional dance classes, presentations and seminars and visits to the museum of natural history and the observatory.
I had classes this week and, since I had to make some changes to the classes I will be attending here, I had to figure out my schedule, but I did visit the museum on Thursday.
A visit to the Museum of the Natural History of the USC
The Museum of Natural History of the University of Santiago de Compostela is located in Parque Vista Alegre. Before that, it was moved several times as it was developing. As a museum, it was located in the building of the Faculty of Chemistry and before that in the Faculty of Geography. Before gaining a status of a museum, it was a Cabinet of Natural History that dated back to the 19th century.
Today, it has six exhibition halls. Biodiversity (Galician Terrestrial Biodiversity), Global terrestrial biodiversity and Temporary exhibitions halls are on the ground floor, and Geodiversity, Soil diversity and Marine biodiversity are on the first floor. Btw, the visits are free every first Wednesday of the month, other than that, it’s 3€ for adults, 2€ for under 18, students, teachers, family and retired and 1€ for those with TUI, which is a student ID card at the USC.
Their newest collection is the butterfly collection. I saw a lot of new species (and many of them looked like fairies). Anyway, since I’m not an expert on any of that, I was just admiring the different shapes, sizes and colors of the butterflies.
My favorite halls are Geodiversity and Marine Biodiversity. My friend and I went to the museum together, and we were actually late to the presentation about each of the collections, so we didn’t hear all about it, but the Geodiversity collections were stunning, so interesting to see. I’m really glad we have the opportunity to go visit all that. Also, to think we are able to see a collection of meteors that were once somewhere else in time and space out there, and now they are literally in a museum 15 minutes from where I’m staying is mind-blowing.
A sunny day in Santiago de Compostela
After the visit to the museum, we walked through the Parque Vista Alegre, where I finally saw one of these:
This is one of the symbols of Galicia, but basically it is a construction, a barn, where people would keep the food for the animals, built like this to prevent the rodents or the flood to destroy the food.
We collected some chestnuts, some leaves with the pretty colors, and we also met this guy:
Cats are a rare sight in Santiago, btw!
On our way back, we stopped at the store called Casal Cotón, where we tried some candied almonds, this yummy cake called Tarta de la Casa, and Crema de Licor, which is like Baileys, but with less alcohol, and everything was better than the other.
The lady working there was super nice and she told us more about the liquors, what are the most famous, what are each of them made of, how to properly make a toast and what’s the meaning behind witches. There are two kinds, the good and the bad ones. There are some charms to invite or repel them. Also, there’s this plant called “el toxo”, which is very common in the area. There’s a phrase related to it. If someone tells you: “you’re such a ”toxo”! “, they are actually telling you that you are really rude or you are a grumpy person.
After walking around, we finally went to grab some ice cream. We went to this place called Puerta Real and the ice-cream was sooo good! I’ve set myself on a mission to try all the flavours while I’m here.
So, last week we had our first trip with ESN. We spent a day in A Coruña, which is a city on the Adriatic coast, north part of Galicia. The city is more than beautiful, I was literally stunned and I wish I could’ve seen more. My leg still hadn’t healed at that point, which made me sit through most of the day.
Before anything, I have to mention the fog in Galicia. We took a bus to get to A Coruña and at one point I looked outside the window and thought there’s a forest fire nearby. Turns out, it wasn’t. It was just Galician fog mixed with the sunrise (which happens around 9 a.m. here). But the cute little hills we saw after the fog lifted blew my mind. It was literally as if I entered a magical land. Kissed by the morning sun, with the cows out in the pasture and beautiful forests, it was my own version of Arcadia.
We got to A Coruña in what felt like 5 minutes and again I was amazed by the view. I expected A Coruña to be pretty, but I don’t even know how to describe it. I was like a little child, my eyebrows up in my hairline. I really want to go back there to see it all again!
This is the route we took to get to the Tower of Hercules. It actually took me double the time to get there than the rest of the group because I was limping and that lead to two new problems: muscle soreness and sunburn, because best believe I came there unprepared. We started at the Obelisk, walked the promenade to the Tower of Hercules and finally got to the Riazor beach, where we spent a few hours.
Anyway, it was such a nice walk. And even though my legs were dead, my eyes were fed! Let me show you:
We made a short stop at the Castelo de Santo Antón:
Side note, you need the sunglasses when you go to A Coruña. Can’t go without it. Trust me.
The obvious conclusion is that I am going back there for sure, and this time it will be with no injuries, with sunscreen and a hat!
Here’s a somewhat different update on my life and thoughts doing Erasmus and living in a completely different country. It’s not like I haven’t lived alone before or anything, and there’s no real language barrier, but I do feel strange. I’m actually missing the excitement. I feel like I’m just living here, not enjoying anything, always restraining myself, always stressing and worrying about everything.
It’s like I’m walking these streets, but the view is blurred in front of me. I don’t even know how to explain this feeling of detachment from a place, from myself. I’m always running for the future, where I promise myself I will finally be free, but then those days never come and no matter where I run, I can’t catch myself and I can’t make myself stay.
I don’t know where this is coming from, but I don’t have a present. I feel empty and scared and indifferent all in one. And when I’m in my small room with no windows, I hype myself about tomorrow when I will get everything done, be productive, go for a walk, take pictures, grab a coffee, go to the bookstore, etc., so I make a to-do list, but then day by day, without fault, I run to my dark room, lock the door and stare at my phone the whole day.
I’m constantly tired, but I can’t relax my shoulders, and I barely have the will to go to my classes. Although it’s fun when I get there, I want to blend in with the walls and pass through like a breeze that you barely notice. Every experience has its highs and lows, but I idealized Erasmus so much that I wanted it to completely change my life for the better, and solve all my problems, but I just can’t keep up. I was never even close to having something perfect, but I expect everything to still be so and I’m genuinely not happy.
Okay, so my laptop’s been down this past almost a week, so Thursday is a new Saturday, I guess? Anyway, the most important update is that I’ve hurt my leg, and instead of wandering around this beauty of a city, I’m pretty much stuck in my room now.
My classes haven’t started yet, so I really have the time to relax and prepare myself and just enjoy my free time. Last week was actually really fun, I was still able to walk!!! -.- so I got a lot of things done, went to see the campuses, went to the bank (that was a bit of a trouble), tried a really good drink, which was presented to us as “chupito de hierbas”, but I see different versions of the name on the Internet. Anyway, it is a traditional Galician drink and it’s absolutely perfect!
This is the drink, the one in the small glass. Mm, I want it now! Also, the one next to it, is basically ice tea and rum (I don’t know if that has a name – bear with me, I’m not an alcohol connoisseur), but my friend introduced me to it, and this one wasn’t as good as the one we tried the first time, but it is overall a really good drink and probably my new go-to for a while.
This bar’s called Casa das Crechas, btw, and it has an interesting interior design that furthers my interests in the mythology of Galicia, Celtic influence and the importance of witches. I NEED TO KNOW!!!
This is where we tried the best ice tea-rum drink. The bar is in the modern part of the city, but I forgot the name. Good thing I didn’t forget the way there, tho 😉
While we’re at the recommendations, two more honorable mentions. First, I went to Gadis (which is an absolute must go-to supermarket) and I picked up these cookies that were the best cookies ever, which is very important for me – a Cookie Monster 😀
Next stop, Newroz Döner Kebap! I don’t have a picture of this place, yet, but I will make sure to get it on one of the many future visits there. The food… OMG! I tried shawarma, falafel and baklava there so far, and I can’t choose a favorite, I just know I will be going through the whole menu while I’m here! Also, the staff is really nice there! I love it!
Okay, now before I throw a bunch of random photos here, I need to mention one more thing, and that is Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Santiago de Compostela. They have been the most helpful, they helped me find accommodation in Santiago, they organise our trips and other activities and answer all our doubts and questions. Before coming to Santiago, I purchased an ESN card that is basically like a student ID for participating in the events and trips organised by ESN, and we can also get discounts on various things with this card. Their welcome has been the sweetest and it didn’t go without a little welcome gift.
They got us a tote bag with the map of Santiago on it, a cute little bracelet, a much needed water bottle (that I can totally pour some coffee in, right?), a map of Santiago with the list of all the places to visit, a bunch of coupons and discounts for restaurants, clubs, yoga and other stuff, and the comfiest t-shirt ever!
Thanks, ESN Santiago de Compostela! 😀
And now, here’s a little walk around Santiago via my phone camera 🙂 (it’s doing it no justice, btw!)
These two photos are giving me such Jane Austen vibes and I love it!
Also, I should be working on my photographing skills, because this right picture is giving nothing and in reality, I swear, it’s so beautiful!
With this post I am starting my Erasmus series where I will be posting anything and everything about this beautiful city, the region, my experiences and any useful info.
In March of this year, I was attending an “Erasmus Days” at my university and I finally found the courage to actually apply for the programme. I picked Santiago because of a movie I saw a while back and because I love this city’s vibe. Now, I’ve only been here for two days, so this post will be a showing-off-my-phone-gallery, but I can’t wait to get comfy here!
First day walking around, I felt so distant from myself. I wanted to belong, but I wanted to be on full tourist-that’s-enjoying-a-vacation mode. I was there, walking around, but it felt like I was in a bubble where I couldn’t feel comfortable. I ran through those streets to get to my apartment.
I am so sorry to myself for setting these barriers in my head that I now need to break down. Hopefully the lights of Santiago help me with it.
Okay, now that I got that out, I want to focus on the beauty of the city. Every corner is another marvel. This is the kind of a city you want to get lost in.
I also visited my first bookstore here. It was such a nice experience and I know for sure I will be needing another suitcase to bring home. I didn’t take any pictures of it, so here’s this instead:
Endymion or The State of Entropy is a lyrical drama by Kurt Ward. „Part-epic battle, part-psychotherapeutic journey, Endymion is set at John Keats’ gravesite in Rome. It is written in poetic meter as one continuous dream, where Jupiter, Diana, Zephyrus, Hermes and Endymion wrestle with reason, fear, hope and divine inspiration.“
This is one of those books that you read and it enriches you and leaves you empty of words to describe it. It is the one that provokes the senses, combines the metaphors and mental images into a beautiful rhythm that takes you not beyond time, but through it into the most hidden and core points of existence. The introduction to this conversation brought the strongly illustrated images of different motives, the polar opposites, Day and Night, Light and what lurks under its bright dominance.
It touches on a lot of topics, but the main one is the line that divides. The polar opposites. The One that can’t go without the Other. Firstly, the Power and the absolute that is conserved and possessively guarded and the obsession over the loss, the insecurity that hides in the fragility of such a state. Having so much power that, eventually, it will slip between one’s fingers. It made me think of separation, significance, anger, hunger and restlessness.
Why are the Dreams so different from everything else, then? The Dreams belong to the point beyond conscious, beyond anyone’s rule and influence. They are the prophecies, they reveal in symbols so many answers that we cannot reach in conscience, but they stay in that area. The first rays of daylight blind the messages that played behind our eyelids.
The Realm of Sleep has its own laws,
The Dreaming are immune
To the mechanics of Perception,
Endymion or the State of Entropy
The importance of opposition is so influential in this work. It questions reason, heart, truth, lies, purpose, rules and nature. It questions the concept, the philosophy, how everything is connected and inevitably tied together. Act II is a beautiful conversation between Diana and Zephyrus. It is the type of conversation one rarely shares with another person; it’s the type of thoughts you send into the Universe.
We are unmapped inhabitants
Steering an uncharted course
Across the immensities of Desire and Loss.
Endymion or the State of Entropy
You can tell where both opinions come from, but the way they look at things provoke the thoughts, it makes you want to join the conversation. On these pages a lot was shared on the topic of pain… „Pain is transient.“ I seem to very much agree with Diana.
Although I mentioned the great role of lines and borders and oppositions in this work, what’s important to have in mind is the fine line between everything. That’s why the Dreams are the focal point here, because if anything, they show how thin the line between realities is. Our existence is the thin line, the future that pours into the past, with the present being a medium for the two. Where, inside of that, do we reside? There’s this passage that paints that thread, the Strand of time and space and the Universe.
I feel like Endymion is a symbol of the unaware part of oneself, and then it’s going back to the meaning, the rebirth and the purpose. It is a wonderful and mythical expression and I can’t wait for this book to take off so more people can talk about it.
Anyway, I said a lot and none of it made sense, but I had to get it out. Thank you to BookSirens for providing me with the copy of this book. All of this rambling was voluntary and my own.
I don’t believe in time, I cannot grasp it. In the Universe, what is time? How does it work? And here, on Earth? I know we as humans are limited. Apparently, by it. We don’t last forever – but what is forever? – we disperse after a while. Still, is it time or a change or are we just a flicker in space, something somewhere that is and then it isn’t anymore? Do we call that ”time”? I think we created this concept because we cannot believe in something if it doesn’t have a name and a form, and we cannot go without believing. That’s why we crafted time. Then we went on and mythologized it. We created it into this huge monster that sinks its teeth into things and devours them. That monster takes things from us and then eventually it takes us, as well.
We put margins on papers and stories. We put lines and borders on the things that never should’ve been restrained. We created time and then it overpowered us. It passed us by and we constantly try to catch it. We’re running out of time. We decided on the points in future that we’re trying to reach and then we act like it’s out of our hands and we can’t move our dates? What is our obsession with deadlines – do we take that expression literally? – and our phobias of all numbers? I just can’t stop thinking about how we got so estranged from the one concept we created. That’s why I don’t understand time. Because we took nothing and turned it into our enemy. We decided on the checkpoints that make no sense. Is that the time? Is it our time?
I think the main issue is that somewhere in that process of constantly running for something so trivial, we made ourselves the means to reach a goal, when instead we should realise that we are the goals.
I’ve read this collection a while back, as an ARC, just as it was coming out. Without any spoilers, I am sharing my thoughts.
When I stumbled upon this collection, I was sceptical to read it, because for me, poetry has a great ability to slip into pretention. Truth is, I didn’t know anything about the book, the cover was what got my attention. Together with the title it made a beautiful and captivating framework for the art in that collection. I was just curious, I thought maybe, let’s give it a try! Soon after I started reading, I started adding bookmarks for my favorites and even sooner I gave that up because I realised I bookmarked the whole collection.
Honestly, I loved this book! It spoke to me so simply, it felt like a conversation, although the author was sometimes directly addressing someone – in those parts I felt like an observer that appreciated just being a part of it. I had a window to author’s emotions because he was so sincere in his expression, so open and true. The main reason why I was so amazed by this collection was that I read these poems in my own voice. The author really spoke in my name. I literally stopped at some of the poems and thought: who told you that? Like, how do you know that about me?
I did say I stopped looking for my favorites, but I would still like to show some of the poems, just talk about them for a bit. I won’t be showing the whole poems because obviously I don’t want to spoil it. I just want to talk about their concepts. The collection is divided into three parts: Acceptance, Hope and Tranquility, which are the feelings and desires these poems breath out. These are also the feelings I long for. I might not have already reached that point, I don’t have every puzzle connected, but I am happy with the state of mind I am in right now. Hope is one thing that never failed me, nor did my stubborness. I am yet to find my peace, but I’m getting there and it is a wonderful journey. Serenity gave me a hand in that, I found solace in the verses. I understood the author’s feeling just like I felt he understood mine. Maybe it’s a universal thing that everyone can relate to. I don’t know, read it and let me know.
Every poem worded perfectly
My first bookmark was page 8, a poem called GIVING TO EACH OTHER. The concept of love for me is really scary.
that frightens me enough to distance myself.
F. S. Yousaf
I can go to extreme lenghts in denying someone’s love for me, too. The next poem maybe explains this better. DESERVING / UNDESERVING, my words if I could ever choose them properly. I made it very difficult to love me.
Another tone has a poem called ONE WITH THE MOON. It reminded me of a Chinese folk love story between the Cowherd and the Weaver. For some reason the tone and the emotion of the poem brought vivid images of this story, the sentiment is the same, at least for me. It speaks of extatic happiness and longing, uncertainty.
I like to tell myself that regression is normal. The author advises that we let our souls speak. Let’s take time to retrace our steps even, anything we need to find a safe footing. There was a long period of my life that was filled with self-depricating, dark and hopeless thoughts that affected my actions, my ways, my whole life. Thankfully I found my footing. I don’t know how I got here, but I’m thankful I had the chance. My legs are still weak, but the past doesn’t look like a dark shadow preying on me anymore. I can even step back and reminisce. Learn and grow and understand. I allowed my soul to speak. Her voice is still shy, but I can hear it. And it shines with the faintest shade of hope. LET YOUR SOUL SPEAK, I invite you, too.
The author talks about so much; this collection is a reminiscence of every mayor feeling a person can have. He talks about past lovers and pain, doubts, insecurity, past and present, hope for the future. Sometimes it’s not even easy to name those feelings or recognize them. Sometimes it feels like you don’t feel at all. When you’re trapped in a state of numbness and the past and future don’t exist, there’s just this moment of dullness and uncertainty.
My foot stuck in wet cement beside ongoing traffic,all moving along while I do not
F. S. Yousaf
I think that’s a moment when you need to move forward. That is you being on the last stop on the train of one period of your life. Time to take another train. In the last part of YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF, author allows himself to hope for a change. It will happen, at its own pace. Kind of in the same note goes EMBODYING ART, still on the topic of accepting our emotions, allowing ourselves to be empty for a bit. It’s the most dreadful thing, but consider it a chance to fill yourself with something new and better.
I said already that the author has this capability to transfer my thoughts onto paper and into this collection. I don’t think I’ve sensed this more than I did in INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS. Every single verse is everything I ever tried to verbalize. I don’t even need to talk about it. You’ll see it for your own when you read the poem. The energy I want to follow is the one brought in SUFFICIENT. I’m not even mentioning the beautiful metaphors in the collection. I need to praise it more. You’ll find wonderful examples in this poem.
And it comforts me to know
how much I can truly help myself.
F. S. Yousaf
This is a true and wonderful revelation: you can help yourself. It took me long enough to realise this, but now I’m owning it. There’s this little poem called PEACE EXISTS IN YOU that talks about this. I turned a few more pages and stumbled upon AWARENESS, another poem that is the direct continuation of my own thoughts. I’m amazed by how the author voiced this state.
In the end, I think I’ve found a form of art that voiced my thoughts and emotions. It’s a bit scary how accurate it was. I feel like these feelings are private because the experiences that lead to them are private. It should be entirely your own, but than you realise that your walk is your own, but the lessons are for all, I guess?
At the very very end, I want to thank NetGalley for providing me with this book. It’s a site I’ve discovered a while ago and I’ve been loving it ever since. Now, this isn’t a paid promotion nor do I need to mention NetGalley, but when I find something good, I can’t keep it to myself, I have to share it with everybody. So, I’m just suggesting you to check it out. 🙂