Literature and London Part 1: A Darker Shade of London Magic

I’ve been meaning to write this post since I’d gotten back from vacation in April, and somehow time got away with me. Or, shall I say, I ran away from time due to other time-sensitive (hah!)…stuff. In any case, I wanted to do a more geeky, in-depth post about my very short time in London (and its surrounding areas). And, of course, because I’m a book-nerd, I was going to do so with a bookish twist, much like what I did with my Prague post!

“There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London.” – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Unlike Prague, it’s got a bit more of an assortment of literary fandoms, only because many books I’ve read encompass various parts of the United Kingdom, and not just that of the city itself. Since I knew the Shades of Magic and Harry Potter references would run a bit long, I decided to split my London and Literature series of blog posts into three parts.

And, of course, Schwab won out as the first post. Because why the hell not?!

Windsor’s distance from London was terribly inconvenient considering the fact that, when traveling between worlds, Kell could only move between a place in one and the same exact place in another. Which was a problem because there was no Windsor Castle a day’s journey from Red London. In fact, Kell had just come through the stone wall of a courtyard belonging to a wealthy gentleman in a town called Disan. Disan was, on the whole, a very pleasant place.

Windsor was not.

Impressive, to be sure. But not pleasant. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I knew there was quite a bit of description of certain places in Grey London in A Darker Shade of Magic, but rereading it definitely reopened my eyes to just how much of Grey London had been largely described. I find it a bit appropriate that when I visited Windsor, it was kind of a grayish day, much like when Kell walked into the castle to see George III. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Windsor wasn’t a pleasant place, the town itself had a sort of charm, even in lieu of us crazy tourists and our need to look at the inside of The Queen’s favorite residence.

He continued on until the park gave way to the streets of London, and then the looming form of Westminster. Kell had a fondness for the abbey, and he nodded to it, as if to an old friend. Despite the city’s soot and dirt, its clutter and its poor, it had something Red London lacked: a resistance to change. An appreciation for the enduring, and the effort it took to make something so…here, Westminster Abbey always stood, waiting to greet him. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I felt sort of like Kell, though unlike him, I traveled through the Underground to get to Westminster. When I walked up the stairs and out of the underground, Westminster pretty much greeted me in its staunch regalness and unchanging glory. It was a lovely sight to walk into, and I can’t help grow a fondness for such a structure amidst the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

Even at night, the river shone red.

As Kell stepped from the bank of one London onto the bank of another, the black slick of the Thames was replaced by the warm, steady glow of the Isle. It glittered like a jewel, lit from within, a ribbon of constant light unraveling through Red London. A source.

A vein of power. An artery. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I pretty much walked parallel to the Thames for an entire day, and I often glanced at it and wondered how the city would have looked if the water was really red. Alas, no magic in this artery. The view, however, is particularly pretty, and I’d like to think that in another time and another London, a tavern boat called the Sea King moored its ports. (Up until it burns down, of course…bad Lila!)

Also, on a similar note, Red London’s version of the Thames is the Isle, a glittering red river running across Red London with power. At the heart of it stands a palace, the House of Maresh, and honestly, if it had a Grey London equivalent, I’d imagine it to be exactly like Tower Bridge, which is certainly a magnificent structure that straddles the river. Wouldn’t it be cool if that was how the palace looked like? It probably doesn’t, but my imagination ran away with me, so…

Lila was soaked to the bone.

Halfway across the bridge, the sky had finally opened up–not a drizzle, as London often seemed to favor, but a downpour. Within moments, they had been soaked through. It certainly didn’t make dragging the half-conscious Kell any easier. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

And somewhere in the distance–probably at London Bridge (which isn’t Millennium Bridge OR Tower Bridge, but the plain one in between)–in another time and another London, is a crossdressing girl thief dragging a half-conscious ginger-headed Antari across the river and into the Stone’s Throw.

On a related note, skim-reading ADSOM was a good and terribly bad idea. Good because holy hell, HOW did I totally forget about a fake-Kell striptease happening in the middle of the book?! And bad because OMG lots of other things happened and then I ended up spending hours just reading scenes upon scenes of my favorite characters and and…hours later this post still wasn’t written. Yeah.

Pity there wasn’t a Stone’s Throw in sight, but I will say that I dined in a pub near the bridge, which comes a bit close!

Coming up in the next London and Literature post: Hogwarts and Harry Potter.

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TTT: Time Periods

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here

I was sitting here contemplating on whether I should write a formal blog review of the last book I read, but then it hit me that I’m mostly on a time crunch, and I was better off looking at a Top Ten Tuesday topic.

Now, it took a while to figure out what I wanted to write about, and eventually I thought: hey, well, I know WHAT time periods I’d rather not read about for the foreseeable future, but what about the time periods I’d love to read more about?

And thus the birth of this wibbly wobbly timey wimey take on this week’s topic.

Top Eight Time Periods I’d Love To Read About

The Jazz Age – Make no mistake, I love the era for its glitz and glamour, and the fact that it comes right after the Industrial Age makes this an even more interesting time period, what with the technology and the Prohibition and the booze and the jazz. Especially the booze and the jazz. And how.
Some notable books: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Diviners by Libba Bray, Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood

The ’50s – Baby Boomin’ 1950! This is mostly because I’ve watched too much Mad Men and at some point I wanted to read more stories taking place here. Also, I mean…this was more or less along the years of the Golden Age of Hollywood (well, 1940s, but we’ll count the ’50s along with it). More fiction there, plsthx!
Some notable books: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, England Expects by Sara Sheridan, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Feudal Japan – Honestly, I’d love many fantastical spins that take place in this country, provided they’re done right. Which makes me picky, because I tend to avoid fictional books of Japan unless they’re manga. All the same, I’d love to read more books set during feudal Japan, with all the samurai and the shogunate and all the lovely pre-samurai killing, technological advancements.
Some notable books: The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, InuYasha manga series by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogun by James Clavell

The Salem Witch Trials – There was a time where I’d been obsessed with this time period. I don’t know why, considering the witch hunts were scary and psychotic, but I always found my fascination ran on the morbid side of things when it comes to witches and Salem. I have found this time period kind of lacking in good fiction books, but that could just be me not looking hard enough.
Some notable books: The Crucible by Arthur Miller, The Witch of Blackbeard Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Ancient Ireland – Honestly, I should probably just say “Ancient Celtic” time periods, but that limited the amount of books I’ve already read to maybe one or two. Anyway, I love Ancient Celtic myths just as much as I love other stories, and the Celts were always rich with tales of magic and ritual. Also, faeries. Loads of faeries.
Some notable books: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, Hounded by Kevin HearneDaggerspell by Katherine Kerr

British Regency – Honestly, why wouldn’t I want to traipse down the English countryside and visit Pemberley Manor? I’m actually reading The Jane Austen Handbook at the moment, and I just couldn’t resist adding the British Regency time period onto this list. OF COURSE it was being added onto this list.
Some notable books: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermere, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Victorian London – Well, honestly, Victorian ANYTHING suits just fine. I wouldn’t necessarily limit myself to reading just Victorian England tales. Victoriana refers to a time period within England, but I’m personally referring to the time period for around the world. Most of the books I’ve read are steampunky in nature (which is FABULOUS).
Some notable books: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, Soulless by Gail Carriger, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Historical Russia – For a time I’d been obsessed by the Romanov dynasty, and on some days, I still am! I’d love to read more fiction taking place in the past Russia. I might even slug through authors like Tolstoy. That said, I love the fiction that pulls from Slavic mythology the best, which explains why I’ve always got a soft spot for Russian fantasy.
Some notable books: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

I’ll cap it at 8 because my brain is now turning to mush.

What about you? What time period do you normally like reading about?

Wrap Up: April 2017

This is probably not the last thing you’ll hear from me with regards to what I did in April, but I figure I might as well try to put this monthly wrap-up together anyway. Which was hard, by the way. I had way too many pictures to filter through, and it was crazily tempting to put everything on my vacation up as a slideshow. But that’s hundreds of pics, and so to save space and time, I had to limit the pics I used. That said, vacation wasn’t the only thing I did in April, which could also explain why I’ve been scarce in the blogoverse lately.

Books Read

Yeah, I read a meager two books over the month of April…which means I’m pretty behind. Considering BookCon is around the corner, I really should get through my books, since I’m anticipating I’ll be getting more in the beginning of June. Urghhh frustrationz.

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs || Silk by Caitlin Kiernan

Currently Reading

Portal of a Thousand Worlds by Dave Duncan || The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan || Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Writing

Other than minor edits for a few writing pieces, not much on this front. I’ve been focusing on putting my writing voldies’ anthology together for the school, so I haven’t actually managed to gain the time to go back to my own stories. This whole time management thing is really kicking me in the rear.

Movies and Television

I was just as bad with movies over April like I was in March, so not much on my front.

London Has Fallen || Your Name || La La Land (yes, again, I don’t know why) || Assassin’s Creed

And TV wasn’t any better, though I am making my way back to watching Arrow and Flash. I’ll probably be adding Supergirl into that list at some point, but it’s practically a low priority. I may end up bingeing most things once the summer hits, because then I’ll finally be out of work for several weeks!

Video Games

Final Fantasy XV – I’ve been playing this game for way too long. And there are way too many feels in it. TOO MANY FEELS. I’m probably halfway into the playthrough, but I keep getting distracted with all those damn side quests. I must have spent a good 3-4 hours just gambling away at the monster arena alone… *twitches*

Fooding, Drinking, and Desserting

This is going to be a food-heavy post. Surprisingly, I didn’t really eat so much during my week in Europe, so the food pics were not as numerous as I’d thought. Same thing with the drinks. I kind of had a bit of a stomach ache in the middle of my vacation, so that might have curtailed my appetite a bit (and it’s still a bummer about not being able to have butterbeer!).

With the exception of the lamb, everything else I’d had abroad.

Fish n’ Chips || Lamb Curry || Chicken Meat Pie || Fettuccine Bolognese || Croquettes || Pork Roast || Smoked Salmon on Seaweed and Rice || Hummus and Tabbouleh

And, of course, the drinks! Not all alcoholic, mind…

Whittard’s mango tea || Phileas Fogg’s Trans-Siberian Express (vodka base) || Fuller’s London Pride (pale ale) || Cappuccino Americano || Phileas Fogg’s Oriental Journey (gin base) || Earl Grey tea with apple and blackberry butter biscuit || Rose wine rainbow float || Thai iced tea

And, of course, vacation days wouldn’t be complete without dessert! I went to Brussels as well, so two-thirds of these pics came from there.

Belgian Waffles (banana and Nutella) || Snickers ice cream || Haagen-Dazs Limoncello ice cream || Tiramisu || Chocolate parfait || Assorted Belgian chocolates and macarons

Miscellany

Spring break happened! Honestly, I thought spending a week in the UK was not enough, especially when I had packed my vacation days with so much to do. I visited quaint English villages, countrysides, castles, and traipsed the city for hours, and I found that I still hadn’t seen everything that London and much of England had to offer. I guess that means having to book another trip at some point over there, amiright?

I also took a day trip to Brussels, which was pretty cool, though honestly, I was a little underwhelmed by the city itself. Much of the center and the touristy areas were pretty, and it was worth the day trip. The most I got out of the city, though, were the numerous amount of artisanal chocolateries that lined the streets. While the city itself underwhelmed me, I was certainly overwhelmed by all the chocolate shopping I did!

I’m not even going to discuss the fact that I’d gone to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio. Because that’s just a whole other post waiting to happen.

Nerdy News

Here be vampires. Now all I need scientists to do is uncover skeletal evidence of were-creatures and I’m set. I mean…um, a lot of things are possible these days, right?

With all the complaints people had of Mass Effect: Andromeda, it was a matter of time that a patch came through. Though, honestly, people, do you remember how it was like playing ME1? Because I do, and from the looks of things, ME:A shouldn’t really have been getting so much Hater-ade. But maybe that’s just my rational side talking.

I mean, between G.R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss, I’m wondering if there’s a betting pool somewhere for who gets their next book published first. Not that I should complain, I’m horrible at reading series, and I haven’t read either of their latest series installments. Well, in the case of Rothfuss, this will be remedied at some point!

Here comes the General! Word is that the late Carrie Fisher will at least have footage added into the next two Star Wars movies. Which is great, because giving her an off-screen mention would have been really sad.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about Bioware’s MMO IP, because I’m not a big MMO player, but I’d totally try this game out for when it ever gets released.

Meet young Albus Dumbledore. Though, really, how “young” is young anyway? In any case, I thought this was a much better casting call than the silly thing they did with Grindelwald (ugh, Depp, seriously? I still don’t see it).

I can tell why Star Wars fans would lose their collective shits over this trailer. Honestly, I didn’t know which I loved more, the fact that Rey is doing Jedi training or the fact that the legendary Luke Skywalker finally has some speaking roles in this movie. Probably both, because I was squeeing by the end of the trailer.

Yaaaaas Carmen San Diego yaaaaaaaaaaas. She was seriously my version of James Bond growing up, and I’m SO happy they’re going to reboot this over in Netflix. SO HAPPY.

I’ve read only the first book, and a couple volumes of the graphic novel adaptation, but I could totally get into watching The Wheel of Time series. I am a little wary about what studio is going to do this, though, because I thought The Shannara Chronicles weren’t as well-done as I’d hoped, and that was also based off a fantasy series.

I find them adapting Fahrenheit 451 into a series kind of amusing, considering Bradbury’s commentary on media itself. But, hey, y’know what, I’D STILL WATCH IT.

I’m not caught up with Marvel’s superhero movies (in fact, I’m not caught up with any of the superhero movie franchises), but this particular X-Men arc is near and dear to my heart. The Dark Phoenix storyline was always my favorite of the X-Men franchise, and I thought it had been poorly handled in the original movie trilogy.

TTT: Fictional Character Vacation Spots

ttt

For more info on Top Ten Tuesday and The Broke and the Bookish, click here.

I’ll admit it, what with almost ten school days left before summer break, I’ve pretty much caught the travel bug. This means I’m going to be continually making lists and eyeing my suitcase to get ready to go on vacation. This TTT is a reflection of that, because if I’m going on vacation, then by all that is good, I think my favorite book characters should go on vacation, too. Somewhere far from their normal haunts.

Top Ten Vacation Spots For Fictional Characters

chichenitza

Alina and Mal (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo) – Chichen Itza, Mexico
Ravka is a cold, cold place, and that’s not even the furthest north anyone can go. After their excursion in Tsibeya (which seems to be as north as anyone is going to get in Shadow and Bone), it’s obvious that Alina and Mal are going to need a bit of relaxing somewhere far, faaaar away from the snows and the Shadow Fold. I’d say something a bit more solitary, warm, sunny, and someplace they can both explore together. There are some dangerous, of course, but what wilderness doesn’t?

napavalley

Lirael and Sabriel (Abhorsen by Garth Nix) – Napa Valley, California
With all that’s happening in the Old Kingdom throughout the first three books, I would say the Abhorsens have their work cut out for them. They all need a break, much more so than any of their predecessors (other than Belatiel, the Abhorsen line in Clariel were kind of disappointing, so I discount them since they always seemed to be in a constant state of vacation). I don’t particularly see Lirael as an alcohol drinker, but I can imagine Sabriel taking a sip of wine here and there and actually savoring it. Dulling the death senses might be just what these ladies need in any case, and wine-tasting their way across Napa Valley is one thing I can think of to alleviate their worries for a time.

berlin

Mercy Thompson (River Marked by Patricia Briggs) – Berlin, Germany
Don’t get me wrong. The whole honeymoon thing happening in River Marked was absolutely wonderful. But Mercy seems prone to getting in trouble almost anywhere she goes. At least take her to Berlin for a weekend, and keep her busy in more metropolitan areas. With luck, that might actually minimize the amount of trouble she’d get into. I’m not holding my breath, though, considering Germany is rife with fae folk…but whatever…

Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland

Vin and Elend (The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson) – Newcastle, Ireland
Luthadel and its surrounding lands is a bleak place, and gets even bleaker throughout the Mistborn trilogy. There’s constant ash spewing from the Ashmounts, the world is covered in darkness, and plants and green pastures are nothing but myths and legends for the people living in Scadrial. So, assuming Vin and Elend have any time on their hands (and the means to get out of their book-world, lol), I’d totally send them to somewhere green. Newcastle is a quaint Irish town, bordering the sea and a beautiful mountain range. The sights are certainly rejuvenating, and I have no doubt Vin and Elend will find something to do individually and together.

alexandria

Celeana Sardothien (Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas) – Alexandria, Egypt
What I loved about Celeana in Throne of Glass was the fact that when she wasn’t found training and fighting and breaking hearts, she was indoors reading a book. I think some of her happier, peaceful moments was definitely staying in the library and picking up a few novels to read, and most of them–from what I recall–were read for fun. Alexandria would be a great place to send her, not just for the famous library located in the city, but also for its arid surroundings, far removed from her current location (though I suppose she’s already been in a desert, but whatever).

cartagena

Eve Dallas (Naked in Death by J.D. Robb) – Cartagena, Colombia
Honestly, this came to mind while I was drinking coffee. Then I remembered how much Eve actually joyasmed when she had legit Colombian coffee, and I figure, why not take her to the source? She’s been living and working in futuristic New York City for so long, she probably needs to go on vacation in a different environment for a bit. I’m sure Roarke would rather spirit her away to his luxury space cruiser, but I think she needs a bit more of an old-fashioned vacation. Cartagena has beaches aplenty, historical buildings, and quaint coffee shops that could send Eve to actual paradise.

kyoto

Yelena (Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder) – Kyoto, Japan
There’s no place better to send Yelena. It’d be an exotically different place for her. Can you imagine the wide array of different flavors in their food? Yelena’s food-tasting palate could definitely use a new set of experiences. Also, I’m sure she’d look fabulous in a kimono. Also, she could learn a few more things or two about poisons.

london

Lady Mara (Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts) – London, England
While Lady Mara is entrenched in the politics and Warlord’s game in Kelewan, she is often found to be curious about other cultures that isn’t her own. Certainly, with the introduction of Kevin in Servant of the Empire, the thought of another world–Midkemia–and another set of customs kind of piques her interest. She will probably find London to be a refreshing change in lifestyle from the Japanese-inspired Kelewan culture. At least nobody’s going to try to kill her in the bustling city.

sydney

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) – Sydney, Australia
Get Katniss far away from Panem and anything is a vacation. The furthest I can think of is definitely somewhere on the other side of the world. Sydney is a pretty place, and maybe therapeutic to the poor Tribute. She could even take her family members and fellow tributes (whatever’s left of them…) and make it a vacation party. Goodness knows they all need it, what with all the trauma happening to them on a regular basis throughout the trilogy.

puntacana

Kahlan Amnell (Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind) – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
From the first two books I’ve read of The Sword of Truth series, it seems to be that the Mother Confessor needs one long break, since she can’t seem to catch any in the books. Every possible thing goes wrong, and so much shmat happens to Kahlan even when she’s not traveling by herself. I’d love to send her away from her crazy magical world, too. She would probably enjoy an all-inclusive resort, where she can just relax, let her long hair down, and the only threat she’d be facing is a full-blown sunburn and drunken declarations of love. She’s used to the latter and can take care of herself just fine, and I’m sure she wouldn’t say no to a bit of a tan.


Travel bug get you yet? Keep in mind, it’s super-contagious!