The Imagination Chamber by Philip Pullman, a review (His Dark Materials #3.7)

The Imagination Chamber by Philip Pullman was sent to me as a birthday present by the wonderful Renette and the actual book itself, with the red sprayed edges and the gilded decorations on the cover, is gorgeous.

The Imagination Chamber: Cosmic rays from Lyra’s Universe, by Philip Pullman

Each page in this book essentially contains a scene idea that Pullman had within Lyra’s universe. Whether these were different plot points he though of, extra back story for side characters, or interactions between characters that didn’t make their way into the main books.

It’s a very short and very quick little read, but as someone who really likes the His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust universe, I adored these extra insights to the characters and the world.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 5, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 7, giving an average of 6.57 and 3.5*. It was hard to rate this one given the nature of the book!

No content warnings found.

This is a short little book that is a fab gift (thanks again Renette!) for anyone who enjoys this world. If that’s you? Consider grabbing this! But if you’ve not read any of the other books yet, this is a bad intro to the universe and I’d recommend picking up The Golden Compass first!

October Reading Wrap Up 🎃 2022

So it’s been more than 10 days since you last had a post from me, I’m sorry! Honestly I got really reading slumpy as well as just not that great overall, so I took some time away from work and from the bookish world and I’m doing a lot better for it. But I’m back with my October wrap up so let’s dive straight in!

I read very little this month, 2394 pages total but only finishing five books. Although I did read most of a few other books, those are carrying over to November (or as I’m calling it October Part 2) so they’ll be mentioned there.

First up? I finished Babel by R.F. Kuang! This was just the final 93 pages of the book that I finished up on the 1st October. I loved this book so much. It is a gorgeous dark academia set in 1800s Oxford that tackles racism, colonialism, the British empire and so much more. It’s heart wrenching, and despite being a very slow read (something I usually really don’t like) I found myself wanting more when I reached the final pages. It’s beautifully done and personally I think it deserves all the hype.

Next is The Imagination Chamber by Philip Pullman, one of my birthday books I was gifted (thank you Renette!) that is only 87 pages, and I needed a win so I thought why not! It’s a very quick read as it’s simply collections of Pullman’s extra ideas for scenes and character development within the world of His Dark Material’s and The Book of Dust. I enjoyed it a lot and I’m even more excited about the final book in the Book of Dust trilogy!

Then I read The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono, another birthday book (this time thanks go to Caitlyn!) that I picked up this month for a similar reason, it clocks at 42 pages. This one is an environmental read that is a gorgeous little ode to Mother Earth and I’m so glad I read it.

Then, the first book that I was actually on my tbr for this month, The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Five star read this book is amazing! This is a YA dystopian written by a Nigerian author that follows young women who are marginalised for having the “wrong” colour blood. Gold. This book dives deep into identity, misogyny, and so much more. It’s an absolutely beautiful work and I’m so excited to read the second book next year!

And finally, the book that gave me no end of trouble. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I buddy read this with Kari, and without her I wouldn’t have gotten through this book! It’s a rough read. The final 250 pages I actually found mildly enjoyable, but considering this book is over 1000 pages long… that’s not exactly a glowing recommendation. This is a book that I recommend everyone reading the triggers for, but especially sexual assault and rape. I usually “hide” trigger warnings because I consider them spoilers, but it’s so severe in this book that I would be doing you a disservice if I hide those. On top of this, this book truly is just one huge essay on cathedral building with some historical fiction Follett decided to slide in. With this being such a behemoth to get through (both in page count and in content) it ground my reading to a halt. I wont’ be picking up any more Follett for a little while!

In the exact opposite of this… I got a ridiculous number of books in October because it was my birthday! I’m so grateful to everyone for all of these books, and very glad that I’m not doing balancing the books this month 😅.

What was your best read this month? For me it was The Gilded Ones, that book is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it!

The Secret Commonwealth – a reivew

If you’d like to know just how far behind on reviews I am… I read this book in December 2020. Right look. There were other reviews that needed to come first, some specific review copies and some War and Peace ones (which I’m also behind on, look, shut up). But I’m here now. And this was a helluva book. I’d put off reading this for quite a while as it’s a big book, but the lovely Eleanor had read it and posted a video review that I really wanted to watch so I sat my arse down and read this. And wow. What a book. Such a mixture of both good and bad! I’m not the biggest tabber or note maker whilst I read, but I made so many notes through the whole of this!

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Despite all of these notes that I made, I won’t be talking much about them here. They’re all quite spoiler heavy and I don’t want to risk ruining the book for someone who hasn’t picked it up yet. I will say that this book, opposite to La Belle Sauvage, is set after the events of His Dark Materials. We once again are following Lyra, now in her early 20s, as she navigates the world and her relationship to it. We see how her and Pan’s relationship has changed since the… incident in the main series (I’m tryna keep things spoiler free here!) and the struggles that they go through.

I did think that Lyra was quite childish for someone in her early 20s. Whenever she’s arguing with Pan her points are just so silly and juvenile, and as someone who is in her early 20s herself, it just feels a little bit young for the age range Pullman is aiming for. Contrary to this, there’s a relationship that feels a little too adult and I don’t quite know how I feel about it just now. I don’t want to say anything more specific than that, cause again spoilers. But it is something that just didn’t sit quite right with me and I’m going to have to see how things develop in book three before I make my final decision.

As just a general summary, this book was an interesting middle book with lots of plot development in order to bring us up to speed for the third book but also some confusing aspects such as the seeming abandonment of previous events and a few questionable choices. Overall though I did enjoy the book and I’m looking forward to reading book three, especially after that cliffhanger that we were left on at the end!!

Highlight here to see trigger warnings: attempted rape, murder, police violence, rape mention, racism, religious fundamentalism, sexism, sexual assault, stalking, suppression of free speech, violence, xenophobia

Have you read this book? Or any of the other books from the Book of Dust or His Dark Materials trilogies? Let me know what you thought of them and whether you’re going to be picking up book three!

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1)

Being plunged headfirst back into this world was so much fun! I absolutely loved His Dark Materials and really missed the world so as soon as I found out about this book I knew I needed to pre-order it.

We get to learn a lot more about the general background of this world with some really good additional details which are woven very well into the fabric of the story. The alethiometer is featured more in this story, giving us some more of its background and also some more of Lyra’s background before she grows up into the spunky and mischievous child we love from the main trilogy.

I absolutely loved Malcolm, his dedication to doing what’s right, and his constant fighting to look after Lyra. I originally didn’t like Alice, but I came to love her over time and she turned out to be an amazing young girl. I’m really hoping that these two, along with Hannah Relf, are going to be featured in the next book in the trilogy as I’d like to get to know them better. This next book is going to be set 20 years into the future, so this book definitely contains a lot of exposition and information dumpage. Despite that, the book was so incredibly enjoyable and something that all those who loved His Dark Materials will enjoy and should pick up!