In terms of both the number and quality of books that I read, March 2018 was my most rewarding month in as long as I can remember. I managed to read five books. Five! And two of them were by no means short! I’m so pleased with that total – largely because at the start of this year I said that I wanted to return to my passion (fantasy novels) and this month I started and fell in love with a whole new series! I also re-read a classic, dived into some non-fiction, and read a poem that I’ve heard referred to constantly but never experienced in its original form. Considering that in the past I’ve had to do quarterly Reflection posts due to the little amount that I’ve read, I’m very pleased… although this means that everyone is in for a fairly long post!
Without further ado, here’s what bookish goodness March brought!
Book #1: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
The first time that I read The Tempest, I was in my year nine English class and vaguely remember not really understanding the language but enjoying it anyway. Five years later, and I was presented with the opportunity to study it again. Unfortunately due to the lecturers’ strike at my university both my lecture and seminar on the text were cancelled, meaning that technically I didn’t have to read it, but chose to anyway because I love me some Shakespeare.
Overall, I really enjoyed this second reading. Shakespeare presents some very important themes of colonialism and power that I would have liked to have explored in further detail, while also maintaining the beautiful language that I’ve come to expect from his works. While not being my favourite of his plays that I’ve read, and having a potentially anti-climactic ending (although possibly that’s because I only seem to have read his tragedies…), I enjoyed the experience of delving back into this text and flew through it in one sitting!
Rating: 4/5 stars
Book #2: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This was my first venture into the works of V. E. Schwab – an author that seems to permanently be on my radar despite never having encountered her writing before. And the hype? It’s completely justified.
What I loved the most about this novel was the utterly unique magic system and world-building. You could class ADSOM as an urban fantasy novel as it is set in London, but it maintains the intrigue and strangeness that comes with a completely fictional setting. Schwab’s utilisation of parallel universes and elemental magic perfectly blended together to create a fantasy unlike any other, and this was complemented by the dual narrative of two fascinating and distinctly different protagonists. To top this all off, Schwab’s writing is absolutely engrossing. I raced through this novel because I simply didn’t want to put it down, and therefore I would highly recommend it to any fantasy fans!
Rating: 5/5 stars
Book #3: Paradise Lost by John Milton
This was yet another book that I had to read for university, and follows the stories of Adam and Eve, and of Satan, in a reworking of the biblical story of the Fall of man. Milton takes this traditional tale and gives it a fascinating, and incredibly controversial twist.
When it comes to description, I cannot help but be drawn in by excessive amounts of it in any text. I know a lot of people can find it tedious when an author goes on for pages and pages describing a landscape, but that just makes me love a book more, and it’s pretty much all that Milton does. From start to finish, his language is incredibly detailed and dramatic, making it both challenging to understand but worthwhile when you work out what he’s actually trying to say. Hell, Heaven, and Chaos (the area in between) are all clearly differentiated between, and so Milton creates a landscape that is deeply reflective of the turmoil within the poem. His characters are intriguing (and largely unexpected), his writing is expressive and I overall I absolutely loved this poem.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Book #4: Light is the New Black: A Guide to Answering Your Soul’s Callings and Working Your Light by Rebecca Campbell
This was the first book that I’ve read this year in my aim to read more widely on the spirituality that I am becoming more and more invested in. Rebecca Campbell is a spiritual teacher and writer who produced LITNB partly as a memoir of her own journey, and partly as a guide for the reader to find and shine their own light.
I really enjoyed hearing Campbell’s story, as it was written in such a way that there was always an underlying current of how what she had been through had led to her growing into the inspirational woman she is today. Her message is very much concerned with the fact that everyone is part of one whole, and that we will all prosper most when everyone is able to shine their own light. This resonated deeply with me throughout, and I especially enjoyed the chapters she dedicated to practical exercises you could do for yourself to connect to the Source and identify what your true passions are. The sole reason that I didn’t give this five stars was that occasionally Campbell’s writing style became very much like it was trying too hard to make heavier topics more light-hearted, with deep affirmations being followed by exclamations of ‘OMG!!’, which sort of distracted from the point. Other than that, I took a lot from this book.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Book #5: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Before I had even finished the first novel – A Darker Shade of Magic – in the series, I raced out to buy the second because I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait to read it once the first was over. For the most part, I loved this book: Schwab’s writing continued to be mesmerising, the characters continued to be multi-dimensional (I laughed far too hard at that pun) and I felt as though the action moved forward well. The main problem for me was… well, it didn’t read like a sequel.
Without spoiling the first novel, the events that take place appear to be tied up fairly neatly by the end. In the second novel, therefore, you expect there to be a moment early on where the characters realise that they are still under some sort of threat, but this just doesn’t happen, until the last ten pages of the book. I’m all for building tension in novels, but this took it to a new level. I spent over four hundred pages wondering when the (sometimes seemingly unrelated) events of the novel would be interrupted by a threat; it genuinely read as though I was reading the first novel in a series again. Despite this, I still gave it a very good rating, because I cannot resist V.E. Schwab’s writing. I was confused throughout a lot of the novel, but I went along for the ride because I was engrossed nonetheless.
Rating: 4/5 stars
(RW) Black Panther (2018) – Seeing this film a second time only made me love it even more; I’d give it six out of five stars if I could (5/5 stars)
(RW) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – Visually one of my favourite Harry Potter films, not to mention hilarious (and very sad) in parts (5/5 stars)
Woah. Even by my standards, this post has been a lengthy one. I really hope you enjoyed hearing about the books that I read and films that I saw in March, and as always, please leave a comment if you’ve read any of the books I mentioned and what you thought of them!
First book for April: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Have a lovely day,