Hi folks, February is always a quick one and work stress means that I haven’t had the brain space to sit down and type out a blog post as often as usual (which is frustrating as I had such a good V-day themed post planned, which I guess I’ll save for next year). Thankfully, free time still belongs to me and I can bring you what I’ve been reading and watching this month!
The Reading Corner
A Gathering of Shadows – V. E. Schwab
After reading ADSOM, I jumped straight into this, itching to see what the consequences would be and so impatient to see Black London. Where ADSOM goes at breakneck speed, this ambles slowly and it’s about 100 pages in when the plot begins to get a little juicy. This book addressed the issue I had with patchy character and I appreciate a need to slow the pace to do this but my expectations were for something with more substance. The writing is still fantastic and I’m keen to read the third book as this ends in a beautiful if undeserved cliffhanger.
Monstress – Marjorie M. LiuSana Takeda
This is the first book I’ve read for #YARC featuring both an Asian writer and Illustrator and it lives up to the hype. The drawings are gorgeous, the worldbuilding is excellent and the story is really compelling. It’s set in an alternate, historical China and follows Maika Halfwolf, part of the magical race of Arcanics. Volume 1 establishes a war between the Arcanics and humans, Maika’s need for revenge and the mythos of the land. I enjoyed it a lot but will have to reread it soon because it’s a huge and complicated world. Also, warning: it is extremely gory.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
Where Blade Runner is a high stakes, cyberpunk phantasmagoria, this book has a narrower focus on the philosophical question of what it means to be human. In Dick’s version of the future, most real animals have been wiped out and owning a real animal is a status symbol. Yes, Deckard is still a bounty hunter chasing escaped androids but he spends as much time longing for real animal to replace his electric. Much like other classic SF I’ve read, it speaks to what humanity means and will mean in the future but falls short when it comes to gender roles.
I managed to go to the cinema twice this month and actually watched a couple of new films (thank god for my local Vue not being extortionately priced…)
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
A natural conclusion to the trilogy. Berk is becoming too small for dragons and an infamous dragon hunter, Grimmel the Grisly, begins to pursue Toothless. The vikings decide to leave their ancestral home to seek the Hidden World where all dragons originate from. Although it felt like the plot existed simply to lead to the conclusion, it was a fun romp regardless. I also have issues with the use and design of the Light Fury but so much merit lies in how entertaining it is. It’s also obvious that the animators enjoyed making the film; aesthetically gorgeous and excellent music.
For my full review of the film, click here.
On the Basis of Sex (2019)
This film follows Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early years at Harvard and leads up to her fighting her first case for gender equality. Skipping through the 50s to the 70s, for someone such as myself who doesn’t know too much about RBG, it was an interesting insight into her early years. However it fell a little bit flat. The tone of the film refuses to shift meaning that when we get a victorious conclusion and a cameo from the real Judge Ginsburg showing her seal of approval, I wasn’t as emotionally moved as I feel the filmmakers wanted me to be.
Making a Murderer (Parts 1 and 2)
As with most popular true crime drama it has lots of factors that make it compelling; Steven Avery’s initial wrongful conviction, jury bias, a potential corruption conspiracy within the system and of course the value of DNA evidence. Although I’d say that 10 episodes per part were a little bit long and clearly stretched out to make the episode count (Part 2 repeated footage and had lots of long, hovering shots on Avery’s ailing parents), it was really compelling. I went in aware that it was inevitably biased and took what the show was presenting with a pinch of salt.
If you’ve watched it, I’d highly recommend reading this New Yorker article about the series.
Avatar: The Last Airbender (Book 1)
An Asian-inspired series this is one for fans of fantasy. Set in a world with elemental ‘benders’ who can control Water, Earth, Fire and Air, there has been a devastating war. The Avatar, 12-year old Ang, is the only one who can control all four elements and is destined to bring peace. This season follows Ang, Katara and Saka as they travel to find a master to teach Ang water bending. The creators consulted those of the culture it was borrowing from and it has rich, complicated characters, lots of humour, wonderful worldbuilding as well as a message of kindness.
I read so many good blog posts this month that it’s hard to narrow them down! (I also read one that made me really annoyed, where someone spoke about something that they had not experienced and then tried to give advice for it?! It really rubbed me the wrong way and I’ve left a respectful comment outlining how I felt, so let’s see if they accept it and respond.) On with the good posts:
Anyone who knows me knows that I love fairy tales (I wrote my dissertation on them!) so I absolutely adored that there was not one but TWO posts defending them by theorangutanlibrarian.
Amber from the Literary Phoenix wrote a piece on why you should read the Lord of the Rings books – something that’s on my bucket list – and gives realistic expectations for it.
Although I haven’t read most of the books from this list, Laura’s (the Book Corps) post on books she didn’t love despite the hype was such an entertaining read, I just had to share it!
Finally, last but not least, I’m all about raising up indie shops, especially if they are book-related. If you are interested in beautiful bookmarks, check out this post by Marianna at Marianna Reads who has just started selling them on Etsy!
How was your February? Tell me about what you’ve been reading/watching/enjoying!