Now that I have started buying books again, it appears that I again seem to have accumulated more books than I actually have room for. I blame this on university, as many of those that I have acquired recently are either for my course, or ones that I had on my shelves in halls (which had to be taken back home to where I have less shelf room). Either way, it couldn’t possibly be my own fault I’m sure…
Given that I am letting go of a lot of books, I can’t possibly tackle a full description of each here, as much as I’d probably love to. I’ll only give the reasons why I’m getting rid of a particular book if there’s a particular explanation to share!
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
If you’ve read my review of Truthwitch, you’ll know that it’s probably going to end up as a contender for my least favourite book of this year. I don’t like to be too negative about books, and there were parts of the novel that I didn’t mind, but in general it really just didn’t live up to any of the hype for me and I struggled to actually finish it. Given that I’m certain I will never want to pick it up again, I’m happy to let it go.
Continue reading “Clearing Bookshelf Space!”
As with so many other things that we put a lot of time and energy into, we want our blogs (or any other creative outlets) to be reflective of our passion for the content and of our dedication to it. The demands of this alone mean that we want to put something into the world that is distinctly ours, and that we can happily say that we have written. These are the standards that I hold my blog to – and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing – but often it results in gaps such as the past few months where not a lot gets posted because these standards just don’t seem attainable.
Throughout the last six or so weeks, I’ve gone through a period where my writing inspiration has been at the lowest level it has been for a long while. On countless occasions I have sat down in front of my laptop and started typing with no real ideas or inclination to actually do it. I do think that inspiration can’t be forced, but that there are steps you can take to expose yourself to a higher chance of finding it. For me, that’s reading, watching creative videos, and making Pinterest boards (a recent favourite). For some reason, even that wasn’t really working for me this time. Continue reading “Perfectionism & Creativity”
June was a good month! We got some beautiful weather here in England, and I finished my exams, which left time for a good amount of reading, often out in the sunshine. After having it taunting me on my shelf for the whole of May, I finally got to read A Court of Frost and Starlight, alongside two other novels – one of which was a total wildcard. I returned to old favourites, experienced the bizarre, and learned a few things.
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (2018) *Slight spoilers
Predictably, as a massive fan of Sarah J. Maas’ works, ACOFAS was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year. I couldn’t wait to return to the world of the Inner Circle and see what was in store for them in the aftermath of A Court of Wings and Ruin.
Overall, as with all of Sarah J. Maas’ works, I found the description beautiful and the characters intriguing. Seeing Velaris in ruin was saddening, but it was definitely important to the growth of the characters and their mindsets. I particularly enjoyed seeing the direction that Nesta’s story is taking; she’s unlike any other character I’ve ever read, and I think seeing her method of dealing with grief and destruction provides a powerful alternative to the ways in which it is portrayed by the other characters.
It’s difficult to really review this book, however, as given its format as a novella between novels, it doesn’t seem to have much of its own plot and so there was no clear beginning, middle, and end. That being said, on its own it worked well as a quick read, and as always I was delighted to return to any world created by SJM.
Rating: 4/5 stars Continue reading “Reflection: June 2018”
It does sometimes seem as though the months of May and June have just become synonymous with exams. For the last five years of my life that’s what they’ve been – and this year was no exception (for May at least!) Naturally, exams always tend to equal a decline in the amount of reading for pleasure that I’m able to do, and so I only actually managed to read one short book this month. That being said, I did have a good month for watching films that I’ve never seen before, and I also accumulated some new books for my birthday this month which I thought I would show as well!
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
This was a re-read for me, as I needed to think of a book that I could do either a feminist or Marxist reading of for my literary theory exam and this seemed to work nicely for both. I was reminded instantly why I loved it so much the first time around; Wilde’s prose is dripping with luxury and extravagance, while his sharp social criticisms leave you marvelling at their wit.
The story follows Dorian Gray, an attractive yet naïve young man, who is gradually drawn into the power of his own beauty, believing it to excuse all of his poor actions. The consequences prove deadly, and Dorian is left to reconsider his own morals.
I think what I love the most about this book is the message throughout, and how perfectly the ending ties together everything that Wilde has built up but in a way that still completely takes you off guard – I’d read it already, and was somehow still taken aback. I honestly think that using a painting as a central focus, so that the reader can clearly see how visceral the change is in Dorian’s mindset, is genius. It just works so well. Continue reading “Reflection: May 2018”
*This review is spoiler-free*
I feel like it can always be a little bit intimidating when you begin an immensely popular series. There will forever be in the back of your mind the question of whether or not it will live up to the high expectations you have of it from hearing other people talk about why they love it so much. Going in to the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab, I was hyper-aware that this series is loved by so many people (as is its author). Luckily for me, it didn’t disappoint.
Kell is one of the last travellers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. There’s Grey London, without magic and ruled by the mad King George III. Red London – where magic is revered, and where Kell was raised alongside the heir to the empire. White London – where people fight to control the remaining magic and magic fights back. And once there was Black London…
Undoubtedly, one of the best aspects of this series was how unique the magic system and worldbuilding was. It was the main reason I picked A Darker Shade of Magic up in the first place and it was the reason why I loved it so much by the end. Intertwining parallel universes with non-hereditary magic made for a world that really stood out to me as different from other fantasy novels that I’ve read where magic has such a prominent place. I am also always drawn in by elemental magic especially, so incorporating this throughout and showing characters wielding different aspects of it to different ends was so intriguing.
In terms of the worldbuilding, the concept of parallel Londons just worked. I loved that each one had distinctly different characteristics: the opulence of Red London especially contrasted amazingly with the ashen feel that White London always had. In short, you knew exactly which London you were in without even looking at the chapter headings. In creating them so differently, and having our protagonists stem from different ones, I felt like there was some cohesion between them all, and each had a clear bearing on the others. Admittedly I’d have loved some more information on Black London, but I suppose there isn’t much more that could have been included without digressing completely from the main plot. Continue reading “Shades of Magic by V. E. Schwab: A Full Series Review”
I feel like it’s becoming sort of obligatory at the start of every monthly reflection post to talk about the fact that another whole month has somehow passed. We’re now in May, spring has sprung, and the days are becoming a tiny (emphasis on tiny, because this is England) bit warmer. In terms of reading, I didn’t read as many books as I did in March, but I still feel like I’ve had a very satisfying month! I managed to finish one non-fiction book and one fiction, which fits in nicely with me wanting to diversify in terms of reading a combination of both.
Here’s what I read in April!
Book #1: Your Mind is Your Teacher: Self-Awakening Through Contemplative Meditation by Khenpo Gawang
I picked up this book in my attempt to learn more about the “technical” aspects of meditation; what I’ve learned so far has largely been from a western perspective and I feel like since it’s such an integral part of my life that I want to understand its roots in greater detail. In the book, Gawang takes us through the principles of contemplative meditation from a Buddhist perspective, outlining major ideas and key terminology in a way that is made accessible as an introduction for the western reader.
The major thing that I enjoyed about this book was the aspect of simply learning more. The principles are laid out in a logically structured way of outlining concepts and giving practical advice for implementing them – and I loved the personal memoirs that are included to give some perspective on the personal nature of practice. Continue reading “Reflection: April 2018”
As far as buying books goes, I used to be someone who would buy them with any spare change I had and hoard them, regardless of whether I had enjoyed them or ever intended to read them. Fast forward a few years and I went on a massive minimalism kick, where I didn’t buy any books for months and almost religiously used the library.
That prelude sets me up for the point of this post, where I want to talk about the fact that I finally feel as though I have reached a happy medium! In the last few months I have accumulated a few books for the first time in so long and I’m glad that I have, because I missed the feeling of going into a bookstore and actually taking home the books that I’d browsed for.
One of the things that drove me towards buying less books was the fact that in all areas of my life I began to adopt this minimalist attitude. Consumerism still irritates me massively (that’s a post for another day…), and I took it to the extent that I even felt like I shouldn’t buy books because I would usually only read them once. There are still only a tiny number of books on my shelf that I haven’t read but I found recently that this was leading to me getting quite uninspired. I never realised how much having an array of books, read and unread, on your shelves can bolster your excitement for reading; after a few years of my bookshelves barely changing, I began to lose the sense that my reading had ever evolved. Continue reading “I’ve Started Buying Books Again! (+ the ones I’ve bought lately)”