“The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman

This was a delightful read. The Golden Compass is a book I’ve wanted to read for over 10 years now, but I kept putting it off. I’d attempted it shortly after graduating college, but didn’t feel drawn to the story and had difficulty with the concept of daemons, so I gave up on the book but vowed to return to it when I felt more receptive to the story. I’m glad I did that. Reading it in 2023 was the best time to pick it up.


GENRE

MG Fantasy

SERIES

His Dark Materials, book 1

Pubbed

1995

Quick summary

The Golden Compass is the first novel in a middle-grade fantasy series. In this book, the story is set in a world that mirrors our own and is centered on Lyra Belacqua, a brave golden-haired girl who’s supposedly an orphan, which is why she’s raised among the Scholars of Jordan College (which I thought of as the equivalent of Oxford) — the only girl there as women are not often Scholars.

It’s natural, in this world, that every human has a daemon, a being in the form of an animal that’s an outward expression of the human’s inner self. A daemon completes a human, so to see a human without one is akin to seeing someone without a head, or other essential body part. Children’s daemons are quite versatile and can take on any animal form, it seems, but daemons stop changing as the human grows older and more settled into who they are.

The story here is focused on Lyra beginning to fulfill her destiny, which is prophesied to be great and lead her away from her present world. This begins to come about when she learns from her Uncle Asriel, an explorer, about the presence of Dust — which I think of as magic particles. From Asriel she learns that there are Dust particles in the Aurora Borealis, which provides a window into other worlds that people can sometimes glimpse. Asriel is interested in travelling to these other worlds and visits Jordan College to seek its Master’s approval, and funds, to do so.

However, the Magisterium, which is basically the headquarters of the Holy Church, is also interested in Dust. Why? Apparently they believe it to be physical evidence of the original sin (harking back to biblical days and Adam and Eve’s gallivanting in the Garden of Eden… with their daemons). Anyway, with the help of the singular Mrs. Coulter, a Scholar in her own right, and her Oblation Board, the Church researches Dust with the unwilling help of children, to whom the abominable is done.

Without realizing, Lyra gets caught up in both Asriel and Mrs. Coulter’s explorations into Dust. Sent to live with Mrs. Coulter for a while, Lyra later runs away and ends up travelling with gyptians to help them rescue their kidnapped children — and her best friend, Roger. With the help of an alethiometer, a queer device bestowed to her by the Master of Jordan College, Lyra is able to navigate many obstacles and dangers and get much-needed help in her effort to rescue the kids and help her friends, such as the armored bear Iorek Byrnison. It all makes for an exciting, intriguing read from beginning to end. (Goodreads)


My thoughts

It’s obvious that I enjoyed reading this. What made me choose to read it now was having watched and enjoyed the TV show. I know the 2007 movie adaptation wasn’t to everyone’s liking, but I enjoyed that too. The world fascinated me, even in that movie adaptation, and it did so in the TV show too. Curious about how closely the TV show stuck to the book, I finally decided to read it and was surprised that it is pretty faithful to the source material. There are some differences of course, but, as far as the first book goes, I don’t mind what’s changed and even agree with some of the tweaks.

The book itself is good. Again, the world immediately fascinated me because the daemons so interest me. I’m also curious about the undercurrent of political schemes regarding what Mrs. Coulter is up to and what the Magisterium is trying to achieve. I think we are quickly drawn into the political intrigues in the TV show, but in the book, it’s mostly a low rumble for now, which I guess makes sense since this is geared toward kids.

I also took an immediate liking to Lyra and her fiery, independent, adventurous spirit. I like how fearless she is, politely yet stoutly inserting herself in often-adult discussions to get what she wants, and using her “silvertongue” to manipulate folks into doing what she wants. But I also like how her character is written, especially when the story shows her trying on different identities that fascinate her, because it’s something all kids do. An example that comes to mind is when she begins trying to act and talk like a gyptian, and even believes she’s managed to become one, but Ma Costa had to sit her down and explain that simply talking and acting like a gyptian doesn’t make Lyra one, that there’s more to gyptians than that.

The concept of Dust and its connection to daemons and the world is interesting too, and I can’t wait to learn more. I hope they are further explored in other books. I wonder how a person’s daemon appears when they are born (if the worldbuilding digs that far), and why it’s odd for a person and their daemon to be of the same gender. It’s interesting that it’s a huge faux pas to touch another person’s daemon (is it like touching the person’s soul?), but daemons can interact with and touch each other.

The other beings in the world were fascinating too, like the armored bears living on Svalbard and the witches flying around on cloud-pine (would love a story about the witches and that initiation journey they have to take). I enjoyed watching both fight in the TV show; those parts made me realize that TV show seem to have taken some inspiration from the movie adaptation. And although I do not like her, Mrs. Coulter is a curiosity to me, in both the book and TV show, and I’d love to learn more about her and her connection to her daemon.

I look forward to reading the next book later this year (which is my way of saying soon since it usually takes me years to continue with series, unless I’m buddy-reading them). This one ended on a sad note that left me feeling sorry for Lyra and disliking both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter even more than I already do. Although I have an idea of what comes next due to having watched the TV show, I’m still eager to see what comes next in the book.

Overall: ★★★★☆

It a good read and a captivating one. I highly recommend it.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

Advertisement

Let’s Rewind: January 2023

It’s been such a long time since I’ve done one of these posts (not since mid 2021, I think) that I feel much out of practice. But I’d like to bring it back this year. These posts then to be long (heh, heh), but they let me chat about books I wouldn’t otherwise review (those I reread) and share thoughts on things I wouldn’t do a separate post for.

Let’s Rewind is my version of a monthly wrap up but instead of talking about only books, I include all types of other stuff, like articles… bookish news… commercials… random-ass links… movies… art… podcasts… cartoons… and whatever else happened to me in the month. You know, the usual stuff that people talk about in monthly wrap ups. So read on to see what I did and read this month. You might stumble upon something that interests you.


2021 and 2022 were such stressful, busy, trying years for me that I was surprised when I felt light and unburdened when January 2023 rolled around. I hope it’s a sign for how the rest of the year will be.

Continue reading “Let’s Rewind: January 2023”

Random Number Book Tag

Let’s wrap up BOOK TAG WEEK with this Random Number Book Tag that the Corner of Laura created. She also tagged me for it. 😀 Thanks, Laura!

To do this tag, you must:

  • Link back to the original creator. (Yep, def give the creator credit for coming up with the tag.)
  • Go to your preferred random number generator, set the number limit to the exact number of books on your TBR list (on Goodreads or any other equivalent list).
  • Generate 7 different numbers.
  • Find the books on your TBR list that correspond with those numbers.
  • Explain why you added it, try to predict what you will think of it now, and decide whether you’re going to keep it on your TBR or delete it.
  • (Optional) Challenge yourself to read the ones you decide to keep within seven weeks.
  • (Optional) Tag 5 or more other people.

I’m gonna confess now that I won’t read any of these within the next seven weeks, but I certainly can try to read them within the next two years, lol! (Master procrastinator here! I have to work in time to procrastinate on reading them, lol!)

I used the random number generator on Google and plugged in the total number of books, e-books, comics, and audio books I own — 1,369. Below are the numbers that correspond with an unread book (and about half of that 1,369 books are unread).


#653

Ico: Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe

I bought this from a Kinokuniya location in Manhattan a couple years ago. I really like that bookstore. And I’ll hold on to my copy of Ico a while longer, and hopefully read it soonish.

Continue reading “Random Number Book Tag”

What Makes Me Pick Up a Book — Tag

This was intended for yesterday, the third day of BOOK TAG WEEK!! But guess who forgot to post? I have an excuse though. I wasn’t feeling well, so let’s just pretend yesterday didn’t happened and continue BOOK TAG WEEK with the What Makes Me Pick Up a Book — Tag, created by booktuber Wonderfully Bookish.


Do you judge a book by its cover?

Temple of Silence: Forgotten Works & Worlds of Herbert Crowley by Justin Duerr, illus. by Herbert Crowley

I most certainly do, and I do so quite often. That’s why I’m featuring Temple of Silence here. It started out as a cover buy until I saw the detailed illustrations within and decided to get it for that reason too.

Continue reading “What Makes Me Pick Up a Book — Tag”

Recommendations Book Tag

Here we are, Day 2 of BOOK TAG WEEK!!

For today’s tag, I’ll do the Recommendations Book Tag, which I found over on Jessica Favor. It was created by Ally Writes Things.

(The titles below are linked to my review, if I did one.)


A book about friendship

The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill (illus.)

These middle-grade fantasy graphic novels are about people who have tea dragons as pets. The tea dragons are miniature dragons that grow tea leaves from their horns. There are three books so far in the series, and they are all cozy, sweet reads that also focus on friendship.

Continue reading “Recommendations Book Tag”

January Book Tag

Umm, so because I’m unprepared for the week, blogwise, I’ve decided to declare a BOOK TAG WEEK!! Yes, it’s time to partake in this wonderful bloggy holiday of mine.

Since January is still hanging around, I’ll do this January Book Tag I found on A Little But a Lot. The tag was created by booktuber Emma for Book Break, a YouTube channel by the publisher PanMcMillan U.K.


What’s a book you’ve read so far in 2023 that’s cheered you up?

Olympians, Vol. 1: Zeus: King of the Gods by George O’Connor (illus.)

Well, I’ve read a variety of things since the year started, but none of them was very cheering. However I chose the first volume of Olympians here, Zeus: King of the Gods, because it was a fun read and I think a great way to introduce kids to Greek mythology.

Continue reading “January Book Tag”

2022 End of Year Book Survey

I do this tag every year, so here I go again with it, looking back on all the books I read last year. It was created by Jamie, the Perpetual Page-Turner.


2022 READING STATS

Number of books read: 35

Physical: 25
E-books: 10
Audio: 0

Number of books reread: 2
(Which, wow! That’s super low for me since I OFTEN reread.)

Number of books I Did Not Finish: 4

Genre I read the most: Fantasy


Best book I read in 2022

Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race is easily the best thing I read last year. It’s a sci-fi novella about a lonely scientist at a secluded outpost on a planet, where he’s supposed to only study the inhabitants and not interact much with them. And it’s also about a princess seeking help from a sorcerer to defeat a demon terrorizing her people. We read from both characters’ perspectives, one which seems to be telling a sci-fi story and another which seems firmly set in fantasy. I loved the structure of this story and the emotional depths it explores.

Continue reading “2022 End of Year Book Survey”

“How to Fail at Flirting” by Denise Williams

In recent years whenever the winter holidays begin to roll around, I find myself turning to romance, watching those cheesy Christmas romances on the Hallmark channel and reading a bunch of romance novels (which for me usually means just two). That was the case in 2022. And because I’d been battling reading slumps throughout the year, I was more than happy to be reading, interested in, and completing the two romance books I picked up, How to Fail at Flirting being one of them.


GENRE

Contemporary Romance

SERIES

n/a

PUBBED

2020

Goodreads summary

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check… almost.

Continue reading ““How to Fail at Flirting” by Denise Williams”

“Ring Shout” by P. Djèlí Clark

This novella received a lot of praise when it was published, and I can see why. However, I procrastinated on reading it myself until it popped up as a pick for my book club. I expected to love it — and normally I would — but unfortunately, the reading experience didn’t go as I’d hoped.


GENRE

Horror, Fantasy

SERIES

n/a

PUBBED

2020

Quick summary

Set in early-1920s Macon, Georgia, during the Prohibition era, Ring Shout is about a young woman named Maryse Boudreaux hunting demonic members of the Ku Klux Klan with her two friends.

The demons are attracted to the hatred that fills members of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were able to cross over to this world during a ritual that took place in November 1915, when The Birth of the Nation (a real and controversial film) was shown. Only a few people have the ability to see the demons, which disguise themselves as White men and are all members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Continue reading ““Ring Shout” by P. Djèlí Clark”

“Best Served Cold” by Joe Abercrombie

Emily of Embuhleeliest and I are working our way through Abercrombie’s First Law books; we completed buddy-reading this one in December. I liked the books in the First Law trilogy, but this one, a standalone novel set in the same world with some familiar characters, wasn’t as appealing.


GENRE

Grimdark Fantasy

SERIES

First Law

PUBBED

2009

Quick summary

As the title suggests, Best Served Cold is a story of revenge. The famous and talented female mercenary Monza Murcatto and her brother Benna were betrayed and murdered by their employer and close, somewhat trusted, associates. However, death didn’t take to Monza despite her being thrown down a cliff (or mountain, someplace high). Angry and bent on revenge, Monza gathers up a group of misfits — the Northman Shivers, self-important poisoner Morveer and his assistant, a former member of the Inquisition named Vitari, the once-famous mercenary and now drunkard Cosca, a killer with a love of numbers called Friendly — to hunt and kill the eight men (I think it’s eight… or was it seven?) responsible for her murder, which includes Duke Orso, father of the new queen of the Union.

Continue reading ““Best Served Cold” by Joe Abercrombie”