Hello one and all and welcome to my first ever monthly wrap up. I’ve been doing these every three months but I thought I’d expand my wrap ups to beyond books and that means each post would be longer. So, let’s begin!
The Reading Corner
Spellslinger – Sebastian de Castell
Kellan belongs to a people where magic is everything. Unfortunately his magic is slowly dissipating and he has yet to pass his mage trials or end up becoming a second class citizen. I really enjoyed reading this book, especially its lore featuring magical tattoos and how intricately the lore is woven into their society. Kellan is a humorous narrator and the book is action-packed. My only critique is that the world is supposed to be akin to the Wild West, but that only comes across in one character where the rest of the cast could belong to a high fantasy.
Normal People – Sally Rooney
Normal People follows Irish teenagers, Marianne and Connell, as they navigate the world from being teenagers to young adults. It is a contemporary romance wrapped around a bildungsroman and fair warning, nothing much happens in this book but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about relationships and growing up and not quite understanding the world. Rooney captures many moments of uncertainty that comes with youth and so many moments that rang true of being young. While the narrative voice is sometimes confusing and sometimes falls into the trap of faux-philosophical writing the rest is compelling enough to bring you back.
Read my full review of the book here.
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell as he travels between four versions of Londons and accidentally smuggles over a stone full of dark magic. This book has everything an urban fantasy should; a dark history, magic and excellent world building. I loved the world, I loved Lila Bard and it is so beautifully written. While the magical systems wasn’t quite clear to me and the two antagonists featured weren’t fully-fleshed, this was more than made up by the breakneck speed that the plot races through running from exciting scene to exciting scene, all whilst building on the larger narrative.
Read my full review of the book here.
The Home Theatre
(By which I mean my sofa and my bed of course)
Flash Gordon (1980)
Belonging in the same category as Rocky Horror, this is a fun, campy film for anyone who enjoys superhero stories. It begins with Ming the Merciless of the Planet Mongo sending down everything from hurricanes to hot hail to Earth in order to relieve his boredom. Flash Gordon finds himself on Mongo with hours to save the world and begins a rebellion against Ming. It features Brian Blessed as a Hawkman, Queen and a phantasmagoria of colours used for the CGI. Yes, there is Orientalism but it is confined somewhat to being a set piece rather than being deliberately mocking.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
I watched Indiana Jones a long time ago and have since absorbed plot points through Pop Culture Osmosis. But I hadn’t felt like I had actually watched it. Not any more. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a fun adventure film and remains iconic from the opening sequence featuring the rolling boulder to the Nazis to the Ark itself. If it were made today, I’d hope that the Arab characters were actually played by ethnically Arab people and that Marianne’s character was a little more than the two-dimensional feisty and sometimes useful love interest who stills finds herself getting rescued.
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Season 1)
Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm with her Netflix show based on her best-selling book. I haven’t seen all of this yet but I understand why it’s so popular: it’s wholesome. Kondo doesn’t just help people declutter, this decluttering improves their lives on a grand scale. A lot of people on twitter were mad about Kondo’s personal rule for keeping only 30 books but if you have seen the show you see how she’s not judgemental at all, she doesn’t force anyone to throw out everything and she absolutely doesn’t want you to throw away all your books.
Peaky Blinders (Series 4)
When is Peaky Blinders coming back? Because this series was excellent. After the Series 3 finale, we see that the Shelby clan, bar Tommy, find themselves nearly at the hangman’s noose and as a consequence of this there is a rift in the family. In this series they are being targeted by the Italian mafia and that they’re playing in the big leagues now. There’s a heartbreaking death early on, a twisty plot and the quality of writing is still consistently strong. I don’t think it needs more than 6 episodes per series, but I need one more series please.
I’ve also been watching Outlander, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place but as these are all ongoing (yes, I’m behind on Outlander!), I’ll save my thoughts on these till next month!
So lastly, I want to talk about my favourite blog posts I came across and read this month. Without further ado:
French artist Emma has translated one of her comics where she describes the domestic mental burden that a lot of women in heterosexual relationships have and it is really well written.
Amber from The Literary Phoenix talks about how the use of certain language in a fantasy novel doesn’t always fit and can take you out of it.
How could I do a January wrap up without including the Year of Asian Reading Challenge? I couldn’t. Vicky Who Reads has summarised it here, so take a look!
Though she wrote this back in December, I just wanted to highlight it because the authors who not only write well but emotively and beautifully are ones to look out for and here Lily has a list full of books with gorgeous writing.
Disclaimer: I have only read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race from this list but I’m always on the look out for non-fiction books in the feminist sphere and Alice has recommended some great ones.
How was your January? Tell me about what you’ve been reading/watching/enjoying!