Thursday, 27 April 2017

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab // ruthlilywrites about...

I was counting down the days to the release of this book- the third in the Shades of Magic series by the absolute goddess V.E. Schwab- and then it took about a million years to arrive because I foolishly preordered it on Amazon like a total dafty. So I was very excited when it was finally in my hands and I could see for myself how huuuuge it is. 

I love the world Schwab has built. The piratey parts of A Gathering of Shadows, part two in the series, were so vivid for me, as were the busy, bustling Night Market scenes during the magical tournament, which reminded a lot of the feel of the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I guess it is extra magical as multiple world have been built. There is Red London, Grey London, Black London, and White London, each with their different feels. Kell is one of the last travellers or Antari, a type of magic person who can travel between these worlds.

A Conjuring of Light gives us Red London, directly after the magical fighting tournament it has hosted, under siege from an evil magical force, Osaron, with the royal palace at the centre of all the how-do-we-defeat-Osaron planning. The palace is packed with various visiting members of royalty, noblemen and tournament magicians with Prince Rhy, his brother Kell, Lila (who is also an Antari, it turns out), Alucard, Alucard's cat, the King, the Queen, all strategising ways to save the people of Red London and defeat the evil magic. 

Schwab is just an incredible crafter of scenes, each chapter with its own arc, and not very long chapters too, keeping the pace up and giving us various different points of view. You really should just read this if you haven't yet. Also if you haven't read any of the trilogy yet, please forget all of the above so you are spoiler free!

Schwab had hinted that this isn't the end for this incredibly built world. I'm keeping my fingers crossed she brings us more of Lila and Kell. And Rhy and Alucard. I'd take an Alucard's cat story too.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Books I read in March!: The First Bad Man, A Conjuring of Light, The Scarecrow Queen

Ugh, it's marking season so crap reading record continues. I read three very good books this month though! I listened to Miranda July's The First Bad Man, read by Miranda July, which was so strange and odd and weird, but I really enjoyed it. I took absolutely ages to read part three of V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy, A Conjuring of Light. It was the perfect end to the series, but also left lots of unfinished business so I have a sneaky feeling we may be returning to that world. I finished the month with another trilogy ender, The Scarecrow Queen part three of Melinda Salisbury's The Sin Eater's Daughter series. It was an incredible and super pacey end. Bigger, review type things coming soon!

A Conjuring of Light- V.E. Schwab

The Scarecrow Queen- Melinda Salisbury

The First Bad Man- Miranda July

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Review! Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden

I found Sarah Glidden's first graphic memoir How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less so compelling and thoughtful and reflective so I was very keen to read Rolling Blackouts. It's in a similar style, but with Glidden taking more of an observer's view to the rest of her group, which comprises of two journalist friends and an ex Marine as they travel through Turkey, Syria and Iraq in 2010, pre Arab Spring. 

Glidden's two friends, Alex and Sarah, are reporters and founders of a non profit journalism site, who are researching stories of the effects of the Iraq War. They talk to refugees, an Iraqi American deportee, a UN refugee administrator, an Iranian blogger; gathering stories about their experiences in the aftermath of war. Alongside these encounters and the stories they bring, is the story of childhood friend of the journalists, Dan, who is a former Marine, and his return to Iraq. 

While in How to Understand Israel, Glidden was the centre of the story, seeking an understanding of the complicated history of her heritage, in Rolling Blackouts she becomes more of a fly on the wall as the two journalists and the ex Marine navigate their own understandings of the very complicated post war landscape of Turkey, Syria and Iraq in 2010. And in fact all the more interesting in light of everything that has happened in the last 7 years.

I really love Sarah Glidden's artwork. She has such a soft touch- subtle, with really beautiful watercolour washes, and great characters. Ugh she's good. Can't wait for next thing she does! 

Super interesting, great storytelling, beautiful artwork.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Review!: Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett is from the Fitzcarraldo Editions. This is the first I've read from these lovely blue editions, and was a Christmas present from my best pal, and I enjoyed it very much. It's another collection of short stories/essays sort of about nothing but also everything, and I will be keeping it near at all times to use as a thesaurus because Claire-Louise Bennett's vocabulary is extensive and lyrical and extremely envious.

Beauty, wisdom, whim, and humour are found in the mundanity of a quiet life in an old cottage in a small town. Claire-Louise Bennett's writing is beautiful and full of much better words than I could possibly muster, like for example this passage from pages 56-57, which I definitely had to read a few times and also made me laugh at the extravagance of the language:
"However, the sensational mode by which the latest idea came to light was in fact not the least bit dazzling or unprompted but was rather the sort of consolidated outcome which is typically produced when a protracted and half-hearted analytical process aggravates the superior auspices of an exasperated subconscious. Consequently, the emanation's illuminating glare softened soon enough, enabling me to continue looking at the trees while at the same time according the contents of this most recent development a privileged yet manageable place among my thoughts."
Just, how mind tangling yet wonderful are those two sentences. I also enjoyed the short but sweet chapter Oh, Tomato Purée! pictured below:

And I keep returning to the chapter To a God Unknown on page 65-66, pictured below, about the character taking a bath with the window open while an old storm blows outside. The idea of an old, familiar storm really caught me:
"And then, from there, it was possible, unavoidable really, to listen to the storm going around and around, and I knew it was an old one that had come back- it seemed to know exactly where it was and there was such intimacy in its movement and in the sound it made as it went along and around and around. Yes, I thought, you know these mountains and the mountains are familiar with you also."

So, if you want to read something quite beautiful and quite strange. Quite wordy and quite lyrical. This might be the book for you! I'm not allowed to buy anymore books currently because my TBR pile is essentially a mile high, but I might treat myself to a new Fitzcarraldo Edition for my Italian adventure in May.