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

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Book of the Month 2014 Summary

Basically, I’ve chosen a favourite book that I read in each month of 2014. Some I wrote posts for, most I really didn’t, but we’re going to let that slide.

JanuaryThe Help by Kathryn Stockett – Five stars and a lot of love from me. It’s about racism and justice and family and…just read it.

February: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak – Oh look another five stars. The author of The Book Thief, in case you didn’t pick up on it. It’s a contemporary and it’s fantastic.

March: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – The classic Dystopian about books and ‘firemen’. Beautifully written, and a real thought-provoker.

AprilGone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Five stars for creepy, twisted psychological thriller-iness. Read it before you watch it!

MayThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Another one of those classics that I felt pressured into reading. It’s okay though, because this one’s really good.

June: Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – So much love for this book! It’s a children’s novel about a little British girl who’s sent to live in the Brazilian Amazon. Amazing.

July: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – Kind of a cross between The Help, The Secret Garden and The Thief Lord. I liked it.

August: The Protector by Danielle Lenee Davis – I wrote a review here! It’s a detective/crime/mystery novel and I think it’s great.

September: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein – I freaking love this little fantasy novel. It’s a kind of prequel to the Lord of the Rings, and it’s just lovely. I wrote a little post about it here.

October: It Shouldn’t Happen to a Missionary by Alf Cooper – The humourous and really inspiring autobiography of a British Christian who ends up in Chile.

November: The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer – The first non-fiction book on this list, it’s more of a Christian, theological thing. I really loved it!

December: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein – What a book to finish the year with! I love it all.

So these are my twelve favourite books of the year – what are some of your picks? Have you enjoyed any of the books I mentioned?

Happy Almost-New-Year, and thanks for reading!

~Dani

Month in Books: March 2014

Here’s March’s wrap-up! (I’m slowly getting up to date with these posts…SLOWLY)

Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Six Napoleons – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 3 stars This is a short story in which Mr Holmes solves crimes and rights wrongs. I usually really love Sherlock Holmes stories, but I felt like this one was very predictable. It’s short though, so worth it!

Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare – 5 stars The inspiration for ‘She’s the Man’, this brilliant play is genuinely funny and rich and lovely. One of my favourite Shakespeare plays.

Heart to Heart – Ali Martin & Liza Hoeksma – 4 stars Non-fiction talking about the health of the metaphorical heart. It was hard to rate this, because the content and graphology were definite 5 star material, while the writing itself was…not. Worth a read though!

Cinder – Marissa Meyer – 3 stars This YA sci-fi fairytale retelling is clever and exciting, but didn’t quite live up to my high expectations.

The Life of Timon of Athens – William Shakespeare- 2 stars More Shakespeare, I know. After Twelfth Night, I was really disappointed by this one; I didn’t really connect with the plot or characters. The writing is as beautiful as always, but this play just wasn’t for me.

Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury – 5 stars This dystopian depicts a future where literature is completely absent. The lovely writing and winning characters made this my favourite book of the month…I didn’t write a post for it though!

What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me? – David Platt – 5 stars I feel like the title is self-explanatory. This book is short, free and very practical.

A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String – Joanne Harris – 3 stars This is a collection of short stories. Most of these are sweet and lovely, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of her other work.

Paroles – Jacques Prevert – 4 stars An anthology of French surrealist poetry. If you’re not a francophone this is maybe not for you, but do check out some of the musical adaptations!

Champion – Marie Lu – 4 stars The final instalment of YA dystopian trilogy ‘Legend’ is completely heart-breaking. Don’t read it if you’re emotionally unstable. Great story, though.

And that’s it! I didn’t exactly write any reviews for this month – oops!

If you’ve read/would like to read any of these titles, let me know! And as always, I’m open to recommendations.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Book of the Month: May 2014

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this for so long! I finally got around to it last month, and I really really enjoyed it.

The plot follows Nick Carraway (AKA biggest third wheel in history) who witnesses the unfolding of a complex romance between his mysterious neighbour, Gatsby, and the married woman who lives across the lake from them.

It’s so refreshing to read a classic that is so accessible to a modern audience, while still dealing with profound issues. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a brilliant writer.

What I found really helpful for getting my head round this novel was going through an analysis of the themes and characters. (Watch John Green’s 2 part discussion on ‘Crash course’ – the first part is here)

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend this book – it’s relatively short and smooth to read without forfeiting the thought-provoking issues we’d expect to be addressed by such a timeless novel.

Let me know what you thought of this book!

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Book of the Month: April 2014

Observant readers may notice that I completely skipped the ‘Book of the Month’ for March. Here is my explanation: while I did read some really interesting books, my favourite ended up being Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury). I genuinely enjoyed it, but it didn’t inspire in me the passion that my other ‘Book of the Month’ nominees did, so I decided not to dedicate an entire post to it. It’s still a very much recommended read, though!

Book of the Month April 2014: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn – 5 stars

So many people rave about this book! In fact, I’m probably a little late jumping on the band-wagon. Despite all the hype, I wasn’t expecting what I encountered upon opening this book.

Gone Girl is dark, psychological and brilliant. It is gripping and unabashedly twisted and quite unlike everything else I’ve read this year. It’s also one of the few books I think really deserves the massive build-up and publicity it receives.

The characters are gritty and convincing, the writing style confident and fluid, and the plot twists uncomfortable (in the best way possible) and, well, twisted.

(On a side note, please can we ignore the excessive, extortionate, unnecessary use of triadic structure in this post? Thanks.)

Gone Girl also happens to be one of those books that are dangerously easy to trip you into giving other people spoilers, so I’m going to leave the summary at that. Do give this a go though; Gillian Flynn is a brilliant writer.

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Book of the Month: February 2014

February was such a good reading month for me! I got through 11 novels including Vicious (V.E. Schwab), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) and Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton). You can imagine it was a really difficult decision to pick a favourite! As I neared the end of the month though, I knew this had to be the one:

I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

Now, I had already read the Book Thief, so I was expecting great things. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

The story is told from the perspective of nineteen-year-old Ed, who leads something of a dead-end life. A person of unknown identity and intent stages an intervention, forcing him to start doing very specific acts of kindness and charity around the town. (I am aware that this synopsis makes the book sound lame at best, but trust me on this one!)

The writing (of course) is simultaneously beautiful and character appropriate; and the story really does pack the same deep emotional ‘punch’ that the Book Thief does, just without the perpetual crying. It’s just so wise and candid, with a hefty dose of inspiration thrown in there.

I feel like this book is more than a little underrated, and this review probably hasn’t helped! I think it’s one of those books you have to read to understand the genius of.

 

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to know your thoughts, and if you haven’t…you know what to do!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Book of the month: January 2014

I’ve decided to start writing ‘Book of the Month’! This basically means that every month I come across a book that I don’t think I could possibly say anything at all balanced or objective about due to an all-consuming love for it, it gets a little shout-out.

Given, it is a little late to be writing about January, but I couldn’t bear to pass this book by!

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

This book, though.

The plot centres around the lives of three women in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi. The author, through first person narrative, takes us by the hand and shows us, with raw candor and a tender writing style, the struggles, the giggles, and the pure strength of the profoundly lovable characters.

I went into this book having seen (and loved) the movie, expecting to be a little disappointed. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the story left me reeling. I felt the love and the hurt of all the characters so deeply, and Ms. Stockett’s writing from all three perspectives was – to my mind – flawless.

I think what was so special about this book was the way it was highlighting a troubled time in history, but avoided – as many other books fail to – manipulating readers’ emotions with an overly dramatic event. The poignancy was derived from a simple honesty that made the whole book not only fantastic, but a favourite of mine.

 

If you haven’t read this already…I think you need to!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani