Month in Books: July 2017

Am I the only person who struggles to register July as a month, and just lives in a 60-day June? Either way, I read eight books this month, and here they are!

Lion – Saroo Brierley – 5 stars This is the memoir that inspired the recent movie of the same name: it follows the story of a 5 year old boy who gets separated from his family by mistakenly getting on the wrong train, and ending up on the other side of India. He gets adopted by an Australian family, and as a grown-up manages to use the internet to track down his home town. It’s an amazing story! (Although actor Saroo and real-life Saroo don’t look remotely similar)

Nomad – Alan Partridge – 4 stars For those of you who aren’t British, Alan Partridge is our Ron Burgundy. This book is pretty short, and genuinely hilarious.

The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga – 4 stars This is Adiga’s debut novel, and it is fantastic. Set in India, the story plunges into the caste system, politics, and poverty, and I could not put this down.

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte – Joe Benitez – 4 stars This is a collection of comics set in historical Mexico, and I really enjoyed it! Find my review here.

Heathen – Natasha Alterici – 3 stars Another comic! This is a beautifully drawn Viking story – my review is here!

A-List – D.P. Lyle – 3 stars An American mystery/comedy/thriller novel, and the second in the Jake Longly series. I wrote a review for this one, too – check it out here!

Collins Art Class: The Essential Guide to Creative Painting Skills and Techniques – Simon Jennings – 4 stars This book is pretty much exactly what it says on the cover. I particularly liked that it was full of little galleries of other peoples’ paintings, not just instructions. Inspiring and practical!

Once an Arafat Man – Tass Saada – 5 stars This is an autobiography of a Palestinian man born right in the midst of the conflict with Israel. He talks about running away to join the Palestinian armed forces, training to become a sniper, and how he managed to find new life for himself, and get free of all his anger and hate. I thought this book was really insightful, but most importantly, full of hope.

If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear your thoughts! What was your favourite book you read in July?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

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Month in Books: June 2017

June was a pretty slow reading month for me, but the books I did get through were very satisfying!

The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-sex Attraction – Ed Shaw – 5 stars This is a hard topic to write about well, just because both sides of the argument are so so emotionally charged. Ed Shaw knows his stuff, but most importantly, he is compassionate. This book was full of stories, and I found it so helpful to hear such a reasonable account of same-sex attraction in the context of Christianity.

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton – 4 stars I reviewed this here! This is a beautifully written historical novel set in Amsterdam. Some magic realism vibes, and a lot of love from me. I really enjoyed this story!

A Court of Thrones and Roses – Sarah J Maas – 3 stars This is a YA fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it is very imaginative! It’s not my favourite Maas book though – something about this fell slightly short of the magic of the original story.

Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What have you been reading this month?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Month in Books: May 2017

I hope you’ve all had lovely Mays! Here’s a little book summary of how mine went:

The Arrival – Shaun Tan – 5 stars If you saw last month’s wrap-up, you’ll know that I only recently discovered Shaun Tan’s work, and that I am completely in love with it.

The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood – 3 stars I was actually really disappointed about this. 3 stars is by no means a bad rating, but I usually really love Atwood’s books! This is a Dystopian, but I felt like it didn’t ring true. Of course The Handmaid’s Tale must be horrifically difficult to try and match, but I did think this one fell a little flat.

The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Just out of curiosity! I found this a lot more readable (in terms of accessibility, this isn’t a comment on the politics!) than I thought it would be.

Citizen of the Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein – 4 stars I heard that this was a childhood scifi classic, so I decided to give it a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I don’t really have a scifi-reading background, but although it was very ‘genre-d’, I found it accessible, and still very human. I was actually really surprised to find that it had been written in the 50’s; it still stands as futuristic – and just really cool – today.

The Abolition of Work – Bob Black – 2 stars A little essay pertaining to the idea that all work is slavery and therefore no one should do it. Very readable and mildly humorous, but also a little too silly to really take seriously. I found the perspective interesting though!

Vicious – V.E. Schwab – 4 stars A Young Adult novel that takes the superhero trope and refreshes it. This was a re-read for me, and you can see my latest review for it here!

By Searching – Isobel Kuhn – 5 stars This is an autobiography of Isobel Kuhn, who was a Canadian missionary in China during the 1920’s. She writes fluently and I love her tone! She’s such a cool woman, and I just loved hearing her story from such a personal level; she’s very open and vulnerable. This is the first of what I believe to be three books detailing her life story – I’m really looking forward to getting to the other two!

The Glories of God’s Love – Milton Vincent – 3 stars A little Christian book to remind people of what the gospel message means day to day. Although I love the concept, I have to admit to getting a little bored with the writing style – maybe that’s me being a terrible person? Either way, its very short and very accessible. Three stars!

And that’s all for May! Recognise any of the titles, or have any recommendations for me to tackle in June? I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this month!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Month in Books: April 2017

Here’s a little round-up of what I read in April! As always, I’ll link you up with the Goodreads page for each book.

Job – Joseph Roth – 4 stars  This is about a twentieth century Russian family of Jews, and their struggles and eventual emigration to the USA. There’s a lot of really interesting interplay with the Biblical book of Job, and overall I really enjoyed this!

The Red Tree – Shaun Tan – 5 stars Shaun Tan is an Australian artist who I think is quite big right now! This was my first introduction to his work, and it blew my mind. This was easily one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen.

The World’s Wife – Carol Ann Duffy – 4 stars This is a collection of poems by our Poet Laureate here in the UK. Each poem is from the perspective of a woman from a famous story whose voice we don’t usually get to hear. Some are funny, some sexy, some sad, but they’re all incisively clever, and force the reader to re-think some of the stories we’re all familiar with.

Intentional – Paul Williams – 4 stars This is a tiny little Christian book that encourages people to be brave enough to talk about faith. It’s not a guilt trip, but a call to authenticity.

A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett – 4 stars I’ve never really been a Pratchett fan, but when my friend told me this was her all time favourite book, I decided I should give it a try. And I loved it. This is almost on the same level as Howl’s Moving Castle ( but not quite). I loved that the humorous surrealism didn’t come at the expense of warmth and character depth.

Black Coffee – Charles Osborne – 3 stars If you were to look at the cover of this book, you’d think it was by Agatha Christie – and it does pretend to be. It’s actually a novelisation of one of Christie’s plays, and although it took me a few pages to realise that, it kind of lacks the nuance that the other mystery novels in the series have. The structure and dialogue are hers, and the rendering of Hercule Poirot as a pompous and frustrating caricature is Osborne’s. Mixed feelings about this!

Medieval Ghost Stories: An Anthology of Miracles, Marvels and Prodigies – Andrew Joynes – 3 stars This does what it says on the tin: it’s a collection of Medieval ghost stories. It was really interesting to see the kind of stories people were telling before Gothic influence, but part of me wished the book was a little shorter. There are a lot of stories here, and not all of them are that interesting.

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh – 5 stars And finally, I re-read The Wrath and the Dawn. I thought it might be one of those times where it’s better in your memory, but this book is still pretty good! Here’s the review I wrote for it the first time I read it.

That’s all I got through in April – how many of these have you read? What was your favourite read of April?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Month in Books: February/March 2016

This year I’ve been reading (if that’s the right word?) so many audiobooks. I honestly can’t get enough of them – how great is it to have a random voice reading you stories while you bake/paint your nails/practice being an artisan/partake in general fun activities? It’s ideal.

But this post isn’t just for rambling about audiobooks; here’s what I read in February!

The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper – James Carnac – 4 stars This is allegedly an old document written by a man who claims to have been Jack the Ripper. It’s intense, deeply disturbing, and really quite scary. It is also well written and very quick to read. I have no idea if it is legitimate.

That’s…actually all I completed in February. Hey, it’s a short month. I did decide that was a bit meagre though, so here’s March as well.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 4 stars I’ve been studying Gothic poetry, and this was the only one I felt was long enough to warrant a mention here. I did enjoy it – visually, it was very intense, and the story was vivid and unusual. It does kind of ruin things when you have to study them though.

The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman – 5 stars This is a Gothic short story that deals with the way people used to treat mental illness. It’s powerful and more than a little bit scary! I thought it was really wonderfully handled, though.

Confess – Colleen Hoover – 4 stars This is a contemporary romance (I think), set in the States. I’ve heard a lot about Ms. Hoover, and although none of her books jumped out to me as particularly exciting, I decided to give this one a chance. It was a real page-turner, and it was a good story…I’m just not sure that it was especially memorable. I may have just chosen the wrong book, but I may not be a Colleen Hoover person.

How to Live on 24 Hours a Day – Arnold Bennett – 3 stars This is a nonfiction self-help kind of book. The writer argues that although we have lots of help with how to live on the amount of money we get, no one is looking at how we can best use our time. He made a lot of very interesting points that definitely made me think, but the condescending and superior tone it was all written in made it a bit of a test of patience for me.

Ring for Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse – 4 stars This was my first Jeeves story, and I loved it! I realise it’s the tenth book in the series, and is the only book that doesn’t feature one of the main characters, so it was maybe not the best one to start with…but I still really enjoyed it. It was funny and sweet, and was set in a period of British modern history that I found I know very little about.

Humility – Andrew Murray – 5 stars This is a Christian non-fiction book that argues for the absolute necessity of humility. It was well written, thoroughly explained, and very helpful!

The Three Strangers – Thomas Hardy – 3 stars This is a Victorian short story. To be honest, I read it because I wanted to be able to say I’d read something by Thomas Hardy. It’s…well…maybe his novels are better?

Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars I’m obsessed. This is a fantasy novel, which I actually don’t read that often, but this is just my favourite thing. I love the sheer creativity of it, and the humour, and the way it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love Sophie’s no-nonsense nature, and Howl has already made it onto my list of characters I’m pretty much in love with. I know this is getting a bit gushy, but the books I tried to pick up after this just couldn’t quite compare. So, naturally, I had to read the rest of the trilogy:

Castle in the Air – Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars This isn’t as good as the first one. It is, however, still wonderful. I think Diana made a really good choice to take a step away from the main characters in the first book, and although they are heavily involved in the plot, focussing on some new characters made the story new and refreshing.

Guess which book will be first in my April wrap-up?

So that’s all I read in February and March. How many of these books have you read, and do you agree with my ratings? And what are your thoughts on audiobooks?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month in Books: January 2016

Last year, I managed to get through 120 books. It was a push, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun! I really got to broaden my book horizons, and I’ve learned a lot. This year, I’ve decided to take things a bit slower. I’m getting into the more serious parts of my degree, and I’ve got myself heavily involved in all sorts of extra-curricular things at university. My target is to read 52 books this year – we’ll see how that goes!

Without further ado, here’s what I picked up in January.

Holiness – J.C. Ryle – 5 stars This is a non-fiction Christian book, originally published in the 1800’s. I read a slightly updated version, so it was very easy to read – which was helpful, because there’s a lot of really juicy theological things to get your teeth into! It took me a while to read, but I really liked it!

The Red House Mystery – A.A. Milne – 4 stars I was so excited when I found out that the creator of Winnie the Pooh also wrote novels! This mystery was charming and intelligent, and I thought the main characters were really very sweet. I enjoyed it!

Seriously…I’m Kidding – Ellen Degeneres – 4 stars A memoir by the famous American talk show host. I can remember laughing at this book – it was light and witty and quite enjoyable. What I can’t remember is exactly what it was about…

So that’s a run-down of the whole three books I read in January. What have you read this year? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month in Books: August 2015

And we’re just about caught up! Here’s my reading wrap-up for August.

75 Uplifting Poems for Christians – AJ Barlow – 5 stars I loved this! It’s an accessible, thoughtful collection of lovely poetry. I wrote a review here!

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back – Todd Burpo – 5 stars This is an autobiographical account of a father whose three year old son nearly dies, and then returns to consciousness with wild tales of heaven that are spookily accurate to Biblical prophecies. It’s a quick read, but a moving one. Fab book!

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself – Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert – 5 stars This is such a great resource, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s really challenging, but also very practical and hopeful. It’s quite heavy on allegories, which I found very helpful!

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain – 4 stars It took me a while to get into this, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down! This book is sweet and funny and action-packed and all the things I could want from it.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke A. Allen – 4 stars I bought this because I loved Noelle Stevenson’s ‘Nimona’, and I was hoping this would be a similar thing. It is a very good comic, and I enjoyed the whole six pages that I bought for 99p. Not impressed. I can buy the whole of Sense and Sensibility for half that price.

Paper Towns – John Green – 4 stars I think I would have enjoyed this more if it was my first John Green book. I had to read it in order to go and see the new movie though – I wrote a post about that here!

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh – 5 stars I am SO in love with this book, and it physically hurts me that the sequel is so far away. It’s a YA romance, beautifully written, and in a gorgeous Arabian setting. I wrote a review here!

Sabriel – Garth Nix – 5 stars This is another YA book, although this one was written a bit longer ago! It’s a crazy fantasy adventure that is just so much fun to read – it’s creative and scary and wonderful. It’s the first book in the Abhorsen trilogy, and – I know this sounds weird – I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the other books. It feels a bit like Philip Pullmans Dark Materials books – I loved the first one, but I’m sensing the later books will be a lot darker and will spoil the series for me.

The Heir – Kiera Cass – 4 stars Oh look, more YA. This one is the fourth book in The Selection series which is a full-on Princess romance sort of deal. I kind of liked it. Here’s my review!

Selp Helf – Miranda Sings – 5 stars I received this book as a gift from an aunt who knows how much I love Miranda Sings. For those of you don’t know, she’s a comedy character on YouTube, and I think she’s brilliant. This book was, of course, a masterpiece, and I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter – Stacy King – 5 stars This is a manga adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, and I thought it was fantastic! It was my first time reading actual manga, but I wrote a review anyway.

Manga Messiah – Hidenori Kumai – 5 stars This is a slightly more amateur-friendly manga book, but I still loved it! It’s the story of Jesus….but manga. I thought it was clever, creative, and just great in general.

God’s Eagles, Athletes and Pilgrims – Haide Sanchez – 5 stars This is a book of weekly devotions, and I loved it! My review is here.

Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari – 5 stars Written by the famous comedian, this book is a non-fiction book that explores…well, modern romance. It focuses on USA, France, Japan and Argentina, and just studies the way romance has changed. It was actually really interesting, and I loved the chatty way all the research was presented. There are a lot of anecdotes that make the whole book more interesting. I really enjoyed it!

Apologies for the slightly longer post – some months you just have to keep reading, you know?

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Month in Books: June 2015

Let’s talk about June.(And yes, I did already post July’s wrap-up. I get mixed up, ok?)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Ian Fleming – 5 stars Did you know that the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie is based off a series written by the same author as James Bond? And did you know that the two have very very little in common? I just loved this book: it’s delightful. But view it as completely different from the film.

Songs of Innocence and Experience – William Blake – 4 stars A book of romantic poetry by the famous rebel, William Blake. I really liked it! A lot of very weird stuff going on though, especially in the illustrations.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas – 4 stars Everyone talked about this book so much that in the end I just had to buy it. Don’t you hate it when ebooks are like £7? I thought they were meant to be the cheaper option? 😦 (I did like the book, despite the exorbitant price)

Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault – Stephen R.C. Hicks – 3 stars This non fiction book talks about a lot of different issues; it’s very well researched, pretty broad in it’s explanations and reasonably accessible. I still don’t understand postmodernism though, so I felt like this could only get a three star rating.

Living Mission – Miriam Swaffield and Rich Wilson – 5 stars Written by two leaders in student evangelism, this is such a great book for people involved in their Christian Unions, but also for any Christian student ever. It’s full of really practical, really sound advice, and I thought it was great.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – Judi Barrett – 4 stars This is a tiny children’s book, but I read it anyway because of the movie. Again, they’re not really similar at all, but it was still quite a nice read.

Selected Jokes from Past Chinese Dynasties – Chien-t’ing Liu – 4 stars I think at this point I knew I was going to be separated from my university library over the summer, and was just making the most of every book I could get my hands on. I didn’t find a lot of the jokes funny, just because we have a very different sense of humour! But it was a lovely book: illustrated, and bilingual (Chinese and English.)

The Clocks – Agatha Christie – 4 stars It’s ALWAYS a good time for Agatha Christie. This is a Hercule Poirot mystery, and it’s wonderful.

The Body in the Library – Agatha Christie – 4 stars Once you start reading Agatha Christie, it’s really hard to stop. This one is about Miss Marple and libraries – how could I say no?

A Pocket Full of Rye – Agatha Christie – 4 stars Aaand another Miss Marple mystery. I just love it, ok?

A Perfect Spy – John le Carre – 4 stars This book is a brutally honest portrayal of the life of a spy during the World War 2/Cold War period. It’s gritty and solemn and really really sad, but it’s a really important angle on what spying really is. Especially if you’re like me, and have copious amounts of Alex Rider, Cherub, and James Bond stories in your head.

After Tomorrow – Gillian Cross – 3 stars This is a really interesting ‘Middle Grade’ novel, because it’s about a situation where the Brits are the refugees, forced to leave the country. I think especially in the current refugee crisis, it’s a really thoughtful and touching story. Told from the point of a child, it’s a pretty well-written and well thought-through story. Not my favourite Gillian Cross novel, though.

Scarlet – Marissa Meyer – 3 stars This is the second book in the Cinder series. It’s such a clever concept: re-tellings of fairy tales in a Sci-fi, post apocalyptic setting. I’m not 100% sold on the actual rendering of these themes, but I’m kind of hesitantly following the series at my own pace. I did like the character of Scarlet a lot more than that of Cinder.

And that’s all I read in June! If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month in Books: July 2015

Here’s what I read in July!

Under the Never Sky – Veronica Rossi – 4 stars This is a Young Adult romance sci-fi thing, and although it didn’t blow me away, I did quite enjoy it! I found it refreshingly different to many other books in this genre.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate DiCamillo – 5 stars This is the kind of book that makes me think I should just read children’s literature exclusively, all the time. It’s an incredibly beautiful story about loss, and learning to love again. I recommend this to any human ever.

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – 4 stars This book has had so much hype! While I don’t think it’s the most amazing book ever, I did really enjoy (is that the right word?) it – I was shocked by the resolution of the mystery, and was gripped by the story. Also, I thought the writing was fantastic.

They Do it With Mirrors – Agatha Christie – 4 stars What would a monthly wrap-up be without at least one Agatha Christie novel? This one’s a Miss Marple mystery, and it was as fabulous as is to be expected.

Sleepyhead – Mark Billingham – 4 stars This is the first book in a series following a detective called Tom Thorne. At first I thought it was going to be another, slightly unoriginal police mystery, but it got really dark really fast. I especially liked how unreliable the narrator was – it felt like a really fresh take on a well-trampled literary trope.

Wonder – R.J. Palacio – 5 stars I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS BOOK. You don’t even need to know what it’s about, just read it and love it.

Burning Bright – Tracy Chevalier – 3 stars I was staying at a guest house in Uganda at this point, and when I saw they had a historical novel dealing with the life of William Blake, I knew I had to read it. It was a really clever and insightful story, although something about it felt a little half-baked. I do have to give so many brownie points for incredibly thorough research, though.

The Viking – Marti Talbott – 2 stars A while ago, I wrote this post about how much I wanted to read about Vikings. This book sounded perfect: a Viking boy stranded in Scotland, having adventures. And the thing is, it’s such a promising idea for a story! So much was right about this, but the realisation of all the historical research and pro story-plotting fell flat because of the amateurish writing. I know this is horrible to say, but it felt a bit like I was reading a novel plan. rather than an actual novel. There was no meat to it!

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God – Francis Chan – 5 stars This is a short non-fiction book that discusses God’s love for humanity. It’s clear, accessible and practical, and although it obviously can’t cover everything, I thought it was a great book!

That’s all I read in July! If you’ve read any of these books, or plan to, let me know what you thought!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Month in Books: May 2015

Here’s what I read in May!

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars I liked it! This is a YA contemporary romance, about a – you guessed it – fangirl adjusting to university (college, if you’re American) life. I’d heard so much about it beforehand that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it was very sweet and enjoyable nonetheless.

Reached – Ally Condie – 2 stars This is the third book in the ‘Matched’ series. It’s a YA dystopian romance, and there’s this controlling society but it’s ok because this perfect teenage couple are fighting the system, but then there’s this love triangle…sorry what? That sounds like every other book ever? You’re not wrong. I think I should have just left it; ‘Matched’ was the only book of this series that I actually liked.

Nimona – Noelle Stevenson – 5 stars This is a graphic novel, and it is my new favourite thing. I believe it was adapted from a really popular web comic, and guys – it’s SO GOOD. It’s sweet and touching and quirky, and it made me laugh so much. I LOVE this story (and may or may not have re-read it twice since May)

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon – 3 stars I’d heard a lot about this one too! It’s a historical romance novel…I think? There’s this whole time travel thing going on, which is quite cool, but in the end the book was so long I kind of stopped caring. It is set in Scotland though, which is where I’m from!

I have no idea why there are only four books in this list. Anyway, if you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani