Seasonal favourites: Winter 2018

Winter is almost over (finally!) and I thought it was time to talk about some things I’ve been loving in the past couple of months. Obviously the most important things on this list are books – I’ve had a pretty good reading start to the year though I think that’s starting to change. I’ve also watched some amazing films and TV series and I want to share them with you.

First of all the best books of this winter were (in no particular order) Uprooted by Naomi Novik, La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve posted reviews on all of these books so I won’t get too much into details here, they were all wonderful and one of my favourite fantasy books of all times and I can’t wait to read them again. This winter has been great for reading fantasy literature.

The next thing I want to talk about is my favourite TV series (and no, it’s not Arrow). I actually started watching Victoria again and I love Jenna Coleman so much, I think she’s great as queen Victoria. I’m not a huge fan of the actor who plays Albert but maybe he’ll grow on me, I am currently still watching season 1 so perhaps that will change with season 2. This series has reminded me how much I love period dramas. Downton Abbey has got to be my favourite TV series and Victoria is just as wonderful.

I’ve seen quite a lot of films this past months but the one that sticks out is Black Panther. To tell you the truth, I am not the biggest Marvel fan because the stories are too similar for my liking and the films packed with action and not enough character development, but I went to see Black Panther on opening night and I my mind was blown away. IT WAS SO GOOD. Not only was the story more original and complex than in your average Marvel film but the female characters were just amazing. I can’t wait to see more of them in the upcoming Avengers film.

Moving on to my favourite music of this past winter, I actually didn’t listen to any new bands. However, I did listen to a lot of Disney soundtracks. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be an adult. But I learned that listening to Disney songs while studying or writing papers really helps me relax. Even now, I’m listening to a piano versions of the songs on Youtube and I feel surprisingly calm.

I can go on talking about my favourite food of this winter (chocolate cake with red wine infusion), my favourite drink (mint tea) and my favourite piece of clothing (my Harry Potter sweat pants) but I think those are pretty self explanatory. I’m trying to decide about a favourite moment but there were too many of them to choose from (plus I forgot like half of them). For my last favourite category I chose favourite book purchase and it has to be the illustrated version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them because the illustrations are simply beautiful and I just love browsing through the pages.

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Wrap-up: January 2018

January wasn’t a good reading month for me but I did read some of the books I received for Christmas. I told myself I won’t buy any more books till I read the ones I have at home and I’m sort of sticking to it (for now). So despite being totally stressed out because of uni and exams, I managed to read five books this months and here is the list:

  • Until by Anna B. Doe
  • La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust 1) by Philip Pullman
  • Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
  • A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

The best book I read this month was without a doubt La Belle Sauvage and you can read my full review here. It was such a great book and I loved going back to Pullman’s worlds and exploring them even further. Pullman is one of those authors who write fantasy as easily as if the magical worlds actually existed and as a reader you dive into their books and wish you could drown in them (well not drown but swim around for as long as possible).  I plan on reading two more books of his this year and of course I am patiently awaiting for the next book in this series.

Until was a romance novel, an easy and entertaining start to the year. The author sent me an ARC of her book and although I read it super fast, it didn’t deliver. I was annoyed with the main character and I hated reading the chapters that were the same as in the first book of this series, because we literally read the exact same conversation just told from a different POV. I found the story to be very typical and filled with cheesy dialogue.

Since I was so stressed out because of school, I picked up a children’s book called Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse which was really funny and hilarious! The illustrations were beautiful and the story far from ordinary. I’ve only known Chris Riddell as the illustrator who works closely with Neil Gaiman so this was the first original story of his that I read. I’ll definitely be picking up more of his books because I am really excited to read about Goth Girl and her future adventures.

As you all probably already know (I do repeat this A LOT) Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favourite fantasy writers and this month I read her novel A Tale of Time City. This book wasn’t as good as some of her other work but nevertheless I enjoyed myself immensely. I love reading children’s literature, especially fantasy stories because the main focus is on magic and happy endings are a must.

The last book I read this month was All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. Although I am a huge fan of hers, I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. Perhaps the timing was off, because when I was reading it my anxiety was all over the place and I couldn’t really relax enough to just enjoy the book. Or maybe it was because I loved The Scorpio Races so much that I set the bar too high. Anyhow, I liked this book (I highlighted a lot of paragraphs) but I didn’t love it as much as Stiefvater’s other books.

I’m currently reading Sherlock Holmes’ Best Cases or something like that (still, I know) and Uprooted by Naomi Novik which is so great, I read like half of the book yesterday evening because I just couldn’t stop. It reminds me a little of Howl’s Moving Castle, at least the main story, the frame of it, but it’s really good and I love the magical elements in it.

Hopefully February will be a better reading month for me but I’m definitely sticking to fantasy because I’m in that kind of mood. One cup of magic for me, please!

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

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I’ve been patiently waiting for this book for half of my life and I still can’t believe it’s been published! Not only that but I cannot believe I already finished reading it! I should’ve read it more slowly but it was so good that I couldn’t help myself and I read like 200 pages per day.

His Dark Materials was my second favourite series growing up, right after Harry Potter. To tell you the truth I didn’t really like Lyra that much, I actually found her to be obnoxious in the first book but I absolutely loved Will. To this day he remains close to my heart. I think Pullman did a wonderful job at character building, especially with Lyra and Will, but also with the other character and that’s why I love his books. Plus his writing style is sublime, the story flows effortlessly and that’s hard to achieve.

So my mom bought me La Belle Sauvage for Christmas but I waited till New Year’s to actually start reading it. It took me three days to finish it and I loved it, I really did, but… Yeah, there’s a but. The second part of the book – now, if you’ve read the book you know what I’m talking about – is a bit far fetched and slow paced and there are some things in it that frustrated me because I found them to be totally irrelevant to the overall story.

The book starts off great, we meet Malcolm whose parents are innkeepers and farely simple minded while their son adores books and learning about the big wide world. I loved the relationship between Malcolm and the scholar (whose name I cannot remember) because she let the boy borrow books from her and I found that to be really touching. Anyway, I loved the first part of the book which is set in Oxford and we have loads of references to His Dark Materials.

I actually liked lord Asriel in this book though I had mixed feeling about him in  the original trilogy. All the connections were so beautifully intwined within the story that it actually felt like I was reading a book equal to the trilogy which is what Pullman wished to achieve. Again the church is portrayed as the main villain and I see why some people might resent that but I think they should get pass that and just look at the book as a story (which it ultimately is).

The second part of the book dragged on, there were some references to other literary works, like the Faery Queen (that part seemed totally redundant to me) and since the book sort of ends on a cliffhanger I don’t see how Pullman will write the next two books since they will take place after the events in His Dark Materials. To this day I remain in awe of Pullman’s imagination. I mean how do you even come up with an idea like a daemon? To have your soul exist outside of your body in the form of an animal? How?!

The writing style remains as beautiful as ever, no complaints there. I don’t know how to look at this book really. It is supposed to be an equal but there so many similarities to the trilogy that it’s impossible to separate them. So although I loved the book I didn’t adore it. But I am still looking forward to reading the next two books in the series because I love Pullman’s worlds and his writing. I definitely recommend his books!

Then it started to rain, so she went inside and made some coffee and did what she had never done in her life: tried the newspaper crossword. “What a stupid exercise,” said her dæmon after five minutes. “Words belong in contexts, not pegged out like biological specimens.”

Philip Pullman, La Belle Sauvage