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: 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: April 2015

Fair warning: I was finishing off my Creative Writing portfolio in April, so there’s going to be a lot of stuff about writing. Sorry but also kind of not sorry.

How to Write your First Novel – Sophie King – 4 stars It is what you think it is. It’s quite a light read with some good advice – nothing too earth-shattering, but I’m glad I picked it up nonetheless.

Servant Leadership for Slow Learners – J. David Lundy – 5 stars I loved this book! It’s another non-fiction thing, talking about leadership in a Christian context. It’s not quite as sassy as the title might suggest, but it is challenging.

How I Found the Write Path – Carrie Butler – 4 stars I love this idea – it’s a compilation of letters from authors to their younger selves, giving advice on writing, publishing and just the chaos of being a creative person. It’s lovely and inspiring – worth a read if you’re interested in writing yourself! Also, dat pun.

The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis – Brian Sibley – 5 stars This is basically a tiny hardback book full of illustrated C.S. Lewis quotes. I love it.

How to Write Better Essays – Bryan Greetham – 4 stars Again…this is exactly what you think it is. There’s a lot of good advice in this, but I happen to passionately despise writing conventional essay plans, so I took the whole thing a bit bitterly. Still, 4 stars.

Akarnae – Lynette Noni – 4 stars I’ve actually been following this lady’s blog for a while, so when I saw that her book had come out, I knew I wanted to give it a try! I was not disappointed. This is a young adult fantasy novel, and it’s just wonderful. I had so much fun reading it! I left it a bit long to write a review though, so I’ll be giving it another read and reporting back 😛

Just Write: The Virgin Guide to Telling Your Story – Gabrielle Mander – 3 stars I kind of disliked this book, just for the heavy reliance on genre fiction. To paraphrase an exact quote: “if you don’t write in a clear cut genre no-one will read your stuff”. Well, excuse you. I happen to hate categories like that in literature: let your story breathe! (Other than that, this book was quite alright)

Writing: A User’s Manual – David Hewson – 3 stars More writing stuff. If I’m honest, I don’t really remember anything about this one, but past Dani gave it three stars, so…there you go.

True Worship – Vaughan Roberts – 5 stars I read so much non fiction this month! This book is a little gem about…er…true worship. Do you have to go to church to worship? (Clue: nope)

A Caribbean Mystery – Agatha Christie – 5 stars I think by this point, I was all non-fictioned out, so returned to my trusty Agatha Christie. It’s a Miss Marple story, and I freaking love that little old lady.

The Silver Chair – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars This is usually considered the fourth book in the Narnia series, and it’s my absolute favourite (after The Horse and His Boy. So, like, second favourite). Children’s fantasy can be a bit touch and go, but this series is the actual best.

Yes Please – Amy Poehler – 4 stars I never read celebrity autobiographies, so this was new to me! I loved the tone of the book, and it made me chuckle a lot. It was more than just a comedy thing though; I felt like Ms. Poehler put a lot of herself into the book, and it was really touching.

The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides – 3 stars I’d heard from a lot of people that this book was really good, and I could appreciate that it was well-written…but mostly I thought it was creepy. Everyone is a stalker, please stop.

V for Vendetta – Alan Moore – 4 stars This is a British Dystopian thing, and it’s a real downer. Good writing though, so four stars. Even if it is also a bit creepy.

Chosen – Ted Dekker – 3 stars If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I have a lot of love for Ted Dekker. This is one of his children’s/YA fantasy novels, and it was a good strong…average. I like his adult stuff better, sorry!

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Edward Albee – 4 stars A friend recommended this to me after I complained about not understanding Postmodernist literature, and I have to admit: it’s a pretty fantastic play. If a little sad.

And (finally!) that’s the end of what I read in April. Sorry it was a kind of boring month – I promise May got more interesting! If you’ve read any of the books I mentioned, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month in Books: January 2015

It’s my first monthly wrap-up this year! Yey!

Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie – 5 stars I’ve had a little Agatha Christies spree, and am loving these stories about Hercule Poirot. I think this little moustached Belgian is my favourite detective ever – I love that he’s calculating and crazily intelligent, but still very much in tune with his compassionate and human side. This story is – surprise, surprise – set in Egypt, and I loved being transported into the close world of a planned holiday. It’s the perfect (if that’s the right word?) setting for a murder mystery.

The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars My favourite book from my favourite series! I’m sure most of you are familiar with the children’s fantasy work of genius that is the Chronicles of Narnia, so just take this as a recommendation to get re-reading. I wrote a post about my love for this book here!

Hamlet – William Shakespeare – 4 stars I had to read this for my Literature course, and while I did enjoy it, it’s not my favourite Shakespeare play. An over-quoted and somewhat depressing historical tale, Hamlet is a hugely ambiguous and thought-provoking work of literature that we could probably all argue about until the end of time.

P.S. I Love You – Cecelia Ahern – 4 stars I’d heard so much about this book! I started watching the movie, but didn’t get very far – thankfully I liked the book a lot more! It’s cute and surprising, teary and really heart-warming. I’m glad I found the time to read this!

The Thief of Always – Clive Barker – 2 stars I don’t know why I picked this up. The cover’s ugly and the premise isn’t exactly inspiring, so I guess it was more of a procrastination read. It was okay – just very obscure and kind of emotionally detached.

Losing It All – Marsha Cornelius – 4 stars Find my review here! An adult fiction novel dealing with family, poverty, homelessness, and – as cheesey as it may sound – redemption. I loved this story so much!

The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion – 4 stars I reviewed this here! The sequel to ‘The Rosie Project’, this book is a strong continuation of a sweet and slightly awkward story. I had mixed feelings about it, but the ending was lovely.

Murder in the Mews – Agatha Christie – 3 stars Another Poirot novel! This is a particularly clever mystery, so I’m not quite sure why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the other Poirot books I read. Maybe it was the lack of exotic location?

The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars After having a fantastic time re-reading The Horse and His Boy, I just needed more Narnia! The first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew is just fantastic and you should all read it.

If I Stay – Gayle Forman – 5 stars I’d heard so many good things about this book, and about Gayle Forman, so I was a little worried about over-hype. The book was pretty much what I expected, but I did enjoy it and it did get me emotionally involved. I really don’t think it needs the sequel though!

You Are Special – Max Lucado – 5 stars This is one of my childhood reads! It’s a beautifully illustrated allegorical children’s story, about individual worth and how the opinions of others are pretty inconsequential. It’s a great book for people of all ages, and I loved re-living the experience.

That’s all for this month! What were your favourite reads for January? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani