SOLARIS, A NOVEL BY STANISLAW LEM (READING RECOMMENDATION)

 Hello readers! I suffered a shoulder injury a few days ago and it's not getting better, so I will probably be a bit absent in the immediate future and slow to answer to comments. I cannot use my right hand, so  typing is difficult. The new year hasn't started too well for me. On a more positive note, I did listen to a lovely audiobook. Therefore, today I'll share a book review. The book in question is a philosophical science fiction classic Solaris. Written by Polish author of Jewish origin Stanislaw Lem and published in 1961, Solaris has remained popular to this day. This novel has been a subject of many adaptations in various media, from radio dramas, a play, a TV serial, several films to even ballet (in different countries and languages).  Solaris also inspired songs, music and multimedia projects. What is the secret of Solaris' success? First of all, it is a beautifully complex work, philosophical science fiction at its best. Secondly, the themes it explores are still relevant and interesting. Thirdly, the novel is well written and plotted. Fourthly, it is a book that inspired reader's interest and imagination. Finally, it is a book that asks all the right kind of questions, engaging both the heart and the mind of its reader. Scroll down to read a more detailed review (that might include some minor spoilers). 

This is a novel that I have heard much about. When I finished it, I remember thinking to myself: ' So, Solaris really is a masterpiece. ' My reading experience was quite intense. While listening to an audio version of this book, I felt like I was myself trapped on Solaris planet. Throughout the novel, there is much talk about the planet Solaris and the research being conducted there, giving the setting an authentic feel. The philosophical aspect of the book is well developed and the characters are interesting. Although as readers, we have insight only in the mind of the protagonist, the other characters remain somewhat shred in mystery- a writing choice that makes sense as it adds to the overall lonely and isolated emotion and atmosphere captured by the book.


Kris Kelvin is the protagonist of this philosophical SF novel. As soon as Kelvin arrives aboard Solaris Station, he finds chaos as one member of the crew killed himself. The two scientist on this research station (located near the surface of the living ocean) seem to be going mad. When going mad seems like an easy way out, you know things are dire. Kris Kelvin soon realizes they are not mad, but rather the 'victims' of unknown forces. Kelvin is a psychologist and his profession is well chosen on part of the writer, as it makes his theories about what is happening well articulated. His knowledge of human psychology, however, doesn't make Kelvin immune to the strange affects of Solaris planet. He cannot be a therapist in these conditions, he has to endure the strange conditions and adapt as best as he can. The overwhelming mystery of the perplexing ocean planet is a always in the background, fulling the feeling of claustrophobia. Many have described the book as claustrophobic and it is in many ways. The book hints at the limitations of human kind, both in the scientific, intellectual and emotional sense. Solaris, the planet ocean that so little is known about, haunts not just the individuals but on some level the collective human kind, reminding it that it still knows so little about itself, reminding it of its loneliness.

Solaris is one of the most captivating SF novels I read. A true classic. As far as I understand, the author Stanislaw Lem voiced his disappointment with both movie versions. Lem's vision of his novel wasn't that of a love story- and he made that clear. I do see why, because Solaris is not only about that. The writer had a pessimistic view of our ability to communicate with aliens. This novel does express it- the ultimate futility of attempted human communications with the extraterrestrial life. In addition, Lem wrote other novels centering around failed first contact, so that was obvious a subject he cared about.
Nevertheless, there is a sort of a love story within Solaris- and the novel is better for it because it gives it complexity. Once Kelvin wakes up and founds his ex Harley (that committed suicide because he left her), a love story (of some kind) begins. There is talk of love between them and Kelvin does develop an emotional relationship with the second version of the' guest' (as these beings are sometimes called).

The moral dilemma considering guests (creations created by the ocean) is fascinating. Are they not human if they have been created by planet? If you cut them, do they not bleed? The Harey replica seems to feel emotions just as much as humans do. Now, the love story and the moral debate over whether 'guests' can be considered human or not, it is not the central theme of the book, but it is one of the themes. It is there. Perhaps the human to guest relationship (Kevin- Harvey) encompass about 30 percent of the novel, whereas the rest is all about Solaris and our inability to communicate with a different life form but it is there. At times, it is hard to separate one theme from another, the moral dilemma from the love story and the main philosophical question at hand.

“We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all a sham. We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such and such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don't want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is. We are searching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, a civilization superior to our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past. At the same time, there is something inside us which we don't like to face up to, from which we try to protect ourselves, but which nevertheless remains, since we don't leave Earth in a state of primal innocence. We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us - that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence - then we don't like it anymore.”

It doesn't surprise me that the film version seem to center on love story as it is easier to adapt to film then the philosophical aspect of the novel. That being said, I cannot seem to remember anything from the newer movie version I saw years ago and I haven't seen the Russian adaptation (although from what I understand, it is a rather long one and brings new elements into the story). I think the issue is not so much directors focusing on the love story, but on not presenting a wider perspective of it. I myself found the entire book quite fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the long descriptions of the planet, something that I imagine won't be interesting to everyone but it serves a purpose in making the planet seem real. I happen to share the author's pessimistic view of a possible contact with alien culture. As humans, we often cannot effectively communicate with one another within the same culture. As humans we have failed to comprehend each others. We find it impossible to communicate with someone from a culture radically different from our own. How could we possibly hope to communicate with alien beings? But at the same time- wouldn't we just have to try? That answers the question to me why these scientist cannot leave the station even when the planet seems to torture them. They just have to try.

* EDIT (28.1) In this post, I reviewed the  Stanislaw Lew's SF classic Solaris. What I forgot to write down was that the photographs from my last post were taken in a local café in Mostar. Although, it seem that I do own every book that was on that shelf in the background (expect for the Harry Potter one) so no wonder I felt at home there. Those hardcover classical editions that were on the shelf of that Aldi café  are pretty standard editions, something most Croatian families own. Another note: I have never actually finished reading a Harry Potter novel, although I started reading quite a few of them but always abandoned them before the end. I actually prefer the film versions to the novels. Not that there is anything wrong with the novels, but the film versions are so visually stunning and so well casted that the books seem a bit pale in comparison. However, for the time being I won't talk the Harry Potter series (that I hope to actually read in full some day) so I've just wanted to clarify that. 



As always, thank you for reading and stopping by. Have a nice day and take care!

Comments

  1. Hope you feel better soon and it heals quickly. *hugs*

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  2. I laughed at you reading Harry Potter in the picture! Your outfit is lovely, so very classic and elegant, Ivana. I'm so sorry to hear your shoulder is hurt! I have a bad shoulder (also my right) and the rub Voltaren helps me a lot (as does strengthening it).

    I read Solaris many years ago, and I've read a few other books by Lem (not as good, IMO), and I've seen both the George Clooney movie and the Russian version - they were both good, but quite different.

    In the same vein, have you read, "Let the Right One In"? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/943402.Let_the_Right_One_In - it's an amazing horror/thriller (there is blood and gore) but it's also a very emotionally affecting story of a friendship. It was made into two movies, the Swedish "Let the Right One In" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_the_Right_One_In_(film)) and the US "Let Me In" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_Me_In_(film)). They complement each other really well, and cover different things/people from the book, with of course some similarities. You might enjoy that as a similar read/watch, but it is horror, so you've been warned! :-)

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    1. I looked it up, might look for it in a library.

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  3. A mi me gusto el libro. No he visto la película. Te mando un beso y te deseo buen fin de semana

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  4. The story is fascinating! I love your winter look!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  5. Dear Ivana like always you look stunning and fashionable :-)
    I Know Stanisław Lem- he is polish writer - but I never read his books ( only some story when I was kid) - it was too modern for me ( I think I was too young to read them ) . I heard about Solaris and maybe even if it is not my cup of tea in some way after your review I will read it in the future .

    Have a lovely weekend xx

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  6. Aww, I hope you will feel better soon. What a shame to get an injury. Take care of yourself.

    The book sounds really interesting. This is another author I am not familiar with, so thanks for sharing.

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  7. Oh, I hope you recovery quickly since I am certain you want to get back to your art. Thank you so much for the review. You bring so much to the book, some might have missed. And now I want a tam.

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  8. All the best to being on the mend. Thank you for sharing this honest review. All the best to your creativity!

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  9. I have both read the book and seen the 1972 film when I was in my twenties. I do remember the book as gripping and claustrophobic. After reading your review, I think it might be due a re-read. I can imagine it working very well as an audio book. Love your outfit, and like Sheila, that photo of you reading Harry Potter made me smile!
    I'm sorry to hear about your shoulder injury. Sending lots of healing vibes your way! xxx

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  10. Mi spiace cara Ivana, riposati e prenditi cura di te, ti auguro una pronta guarigione! Mi piace Lem, interessante il libro! Bellissima tu!!!

    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

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  11. This sounds like an interesting book, although not my kind of usual read. it's good you enjoyed it though!

    Sorry to hear your shoulder is painful, I hope it gets better soon and heals up quickly for you!

    Hope that you are having a great weekend! It will be a quiet one here, we are all in a 3 day lockdown due to a case of the virus being found outside of hotel quarantine for the first time in 113 days.

    Away From Blue

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  12. I really like Stanislav Lem, but I haven't read Solaris yet. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  13. I'm so sorry about your shoulder Ivana. That sure puts a damper on things. I never think about audiobooks, but what a great way to read without having to hold a book!!!
    What a fascinating book too.
    XOOX
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  14. I didn't know Solaris was a book, I've only heard about the movie, but I still have to watch that one as well. Maybe I'll look for book first, I could listen to the audio version while we're painting the house.
    Hope you'll get better soon and your shoulder won't be painful anymore. I can imagine how helpless I'd feel without being able to use my right arm.

    Love your cute winter coat, you look so cosy in that outfit <3

    LackaDaisy

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  15. Hello dear Ivana,

    So good to be back visiting your blog after a few days.... had to been off but I am finally back and your blog post are always a treasure that mixes many of the things I enjoy!

    First of all I hope that you can get better soon, my best wishes and try to relay in the things you like the most! Hope you can use your arm 100% in a few days!

    I didn't know about Solaris before, but this will go to my GoodReads lists immediately, since one of my most important resolution of the year is to keep reading!

    Oooh and that winter outfit is marvelous ! I also spotted a cute Harry Potter book in some of the photos!

    Stay safe!
    Pablo
    Hey Fungi

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    1. I'm sorry about your shoulder, I hope it sorts itself out soon so you can get back to your beloved art.
      You look very chic and cosy. I enjoyed Solaris even though I'm not remotely into sci fi or space!
      I'm probably the only person in the world whose never read Harry Potter or seen the films either! xxx

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  18. Thank you for sharing the review and I hope your shoulder will get better soon! You look lovely girl! xx
    Elegant Duchess xx
    https://www.elegantduchess.com/2021/01/02/international-giveaway-win-a-5-days-stay-for-two-in-rhodes-greece-with-atrium-hotels/

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  19. I really hope your shoulder feels better soon, take plenty of rest!

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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  20. Jako lijepo opisano djelo a slika na vrhu članka je bas divna, baš pravi umjetnički stil! Zanimljiva mi je slika na kojoj čitaš Heri Potera! Hehehehe

    Alekboras.com

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  21. Sjećam se kada su Jutarnji ili Večernji list izašli s tim kolekcijama knjiga, moja mama ih je išla svaki put kupiti i sada mi je drago što ih imamo. Nisam čitala ovu novelu, hvala za preporuku, ali Harry Pottera sam pročitala sve knjige i mogla bih opet. To mi je najbolji serijal koji sam ikada čitala.

    New Post - https://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com/2021/01/lancome-la-vie-est-belle-vs-ysl-black.html

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  22. It`s very good novel, i recommend it too:)

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  23. It's great to read about our Polish author. Thank you!

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  24. nice amazing place
    and love your outfit.
    Thanks for the reading recommendation, sounds interesting.

    Ann
    https://roomsofinspiration.blogspot.com/

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  25. Great book review and your outfit is awesome!

    Kisses,

    https://www.theartofpaloma.com/

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  26. Mi dispiace tanto per la tua spalla Ivana, spero proprio che riesca a guarti prestissimo!
    E che bel look, elegante ma con un che di unico e originale, stai davvero bene!
    Stavolta comunque sono preparata, Solaris l'ho letto anche io (anche se parecchio tempo fa, quindi alcune cose nemmeno me le ricordavo)! ^^ Però non sapevo che avessero anche fatto un film!
    Baci!
    S
    https://s-fashion-avenue.blogspot.com

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  27. Stanisław Lem is a great Polish writer. I do not like the hard fiction genre myself, but I do appreciate his talent. All good in the new year :) Beautiful photos!

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  28. Dear, Ivana!
    I'm so sorry to hear that! And I hope you feel better soon, and heal quickly.
    I'm sorry for coming here so late to wish you A Wonderful Year 2021! Please know that I missed you! Just trying my best to juggle between too many things in my hands now. I will take some time to hang in here and read some of your old posts. Please take care and take good rest.

    Sending warm hugs and best wishes your way!

    Epsita | https://www.thepositivewindow.com/

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  29. I am sorry to read about your injury, I hope you will get well soon. I haven't heared about this book until now but you really got me interested in Solaris. I will definetly dig into it.

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  30. I'm so sorry to hear about your shoulder- sending you get well soon vibes!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  31. The premise of Solaris sounds very compelling as does the philosophical aspect of the story. It was interesting to read your review and POV on it. I'm so sorry to hear about your shoulder injury. I hope it is not serious and that you will feel better soon. As someone who lived with shoulder pain for the better part of last year, I would advise you to take it as easy as much as possible so as to avoid aggravating it further.

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  32. Gostei bastante do artigo, muito bom mesmo! Estou amando ler seus artigos e compartilhar com os amigos!


    Meu Blog: Bet69

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  33. Oh no! I hope you feel better soon Ivana. You look stunning in your photos. Be well and take it easy!

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  34. Hvala ti na preporuci, draga! Uvijek tražim nešto novo za čitati ;)

    Shoot for the stars | ☆ ☆ ☆ | Facebook page | ☆ ☆ ☆ | Instagram

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  35. Hello
    I hope you get better as soon as possible. I'm not feeling well too, tomorrow will start another lockdown and I'm depressed about that! I guess I will take your advice and read Solaris!
    xoxo

    marisasclosetblog.com

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  36. Dearest Ivana,
    I'm sorry to hear that your start into 2021 wasn't good and that you have a shoulder injury that is not getting better. I wish you very much that you will soon feel good again.
    I haven't read Solaris, but my husband did. He said the book is fascinating but also confusing. He's not sure if he fully understood it ;-)
    The photos of you look so cute!
    Thank you for your empathetic words to my mother on my blog.
    All the best for 2021 🍀
    and best wishes, Traude
    https://rostrose.blogspot.com/2021/01/weihnachtszeit-2020-und-neues-jahr-2021.html

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  37. Oh no I am sorry you hurt your shoulder. I hope you are able to find an effective solution. Gosh that is not a good start to 2021. This book sounds fascinating. A lot of scifi has political and social commentary involved so it can be very interesting to read. Feel better soon!

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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  38. Firstly, sorry to hear about your injury- I hope it is healed soon.
    Secondly, this book sounds intriguing and I might try and find it this year to read- I've not seen the films so I have nothing to taint my perspective with. You really are a talented writer and your reviews are so skillful!
    Your outfit is really chic too!

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  39. Cara Ivana, come stai? Spero meglio!
    Ti abbraccio, baci, Paola.


    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

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  40. I hope you're doing well Ivana :)

    Just stopping to say hi!

    Pablo
    Hey Fungi

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  41. Gostei bastante do artigo, muito bom mesmo! Estou amando ler seus artigos e compartilhar com os amigos!


    Meu Blog: Como funciona o Bet69?

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  42. Dear heart, I am tremendously sorry about your shoulder injury. Thank you for the thoughtful update and for this engaging post.

    May wellness and shoulder pain-free days soon return to you again.

    Immense healing hugs,
    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

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  43. Hope your shoulder heels fast and you feel better soon! 💕
    Now is a great time to get into some novels. I definitely want to read more.

    www.fashionradi.com

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  44. I hope your shoulder gets better soon. The book sounds amazing! I'm definitely going to put it on my tbr list (which is growing at an alarming rate :)).

    Ekaterina | Polar Bear Style

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  45. I hope you are on the mend. Thank you so much for the comments!

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  46. I am so sorry that you have suffered from an injury, I hope that i gets better soon! I've never been able to listen to a whole audiobook before, but this one sounds so, so interesting. I have actually started writing my own novel this year, so I can learn plenty from this audiobook!!

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  47. Dear Ivana! I am very sorry to hear about your accident. I hope that your shoulder is feeling a little better? I read solaris over 20 years ago. I loved it, it really is a masterpiece.
    And I love your outfit! It's so sophisticated, feminine and chic. You just look adorable.
    Have a lovely sunday!
    xxxxx Nadine

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  48. Thank you for sharing your book review and your beautiful winter outfit. I hope that your shoulder is getting better, so that you can get back to your artwork and writing
    Julia x
    https://www.thevelvetrunway.com/

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  49. Oh so interesting darling
    thanks for share
    xx

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  50. So Wish I Possess Your Artist Abilities Because The Desert Has Been Magical - The Master Pieces That You Could Turn Out World Be Mind Bending - Sending Love & Light Towards Your Shoulder - Stay Strong

    OxoxoxO

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  51. I haven't read Solaris, but I've watched Tarkovsky's film based on it. I hope your shoulder will be all right soon

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  52. Hey honey, I'm back after a long time on my blog, missed you all. You are looking so pretty in this winter coat. Love your book review.
    Have a nice day.
    Kisses <3
    https://www.rakhshanda-chamberofbeauty.com/

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  53. Amazing review!
    Thanks for sharing 😍😍
    Regards:)

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  54. I came over to see if you had posted. Hope you are well and happy. xx

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  55. Hope everything is fine with you! Wish all the best my dear!
    xoxo

    marisasclosetblog.com

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  56. Hello dear Ivana,

    Even though we talk on Instagram I miss your content over here, but hopefully you can recover soon to come back with new content!

    Best!
    Pablo
    Hey Fungi

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  57. I hope your shoulder gets well soon! "Solaris" is the original book, right? I saw the movie of Andrei Tarkovsky 30 years ago! I can't remember the story, but the visual was so beautiful. Anyway, you are so beautiful reading Harry Potter in the fabulous cafe library!

    akiko

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  58. Hello dear Ivana, everything is okay, thanks for asking! I just decided to take a blog pause and I'm still not sure if I will continue. Hope you are well, have a happy new year!
    xx Rena

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  59. Resto sempre incantata e affascinata nel leggere i tuoi articoli :-)

    https://nettaredimiele.blogspot.com

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  60. soon evertinhg is better. lovely look
    http://retromaggie.blogspot.com/

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  61. Ivana just stopping to see if there are updates on the site,

    Wishing you an easy and a quick recovery so you can share new creative stuff soon!

    All the best from Spain,

    Pablo
    Hey Fungi

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  62. Lindas fotos!
    bjs
    http://www.pinkbelezura.com/

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  63. Come stai cara Ivana? Sta meglio la tua spalla? Spero di si, comunque sei sempre molto elegante!

    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

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  64. Sempre splendidi i posti e i look che ci fai vedere
    Un abbraccio

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  65. Accidenti Ivana mi dispiace per la spalla, spero tu stia meglio. di Solaris ho visto solo il film ma a questo punto mi leggo anche il libro!
    Don't Call Me Fashion Blogger
    Facebook
    Bloglovin'

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  66. I hope your shoulder injury heals soon dear. Solaris sounds like an immersive reading experience. Thank you for sharing your review of it here. It must be so cold there judging by the layers you're wearing. I hope you will stay warm and continue to let your body heal. Sending you my warmest regards. Take good care beautiful lady :)

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All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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