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

Advertisements

Review: The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton – 4.5 stars

The Miniaturist

I was in a kind of fiction-reading-slump when I picked up this novel, and – no exaggeration – the first paragraph snapped me right out of it. This book is beautifully written, well-crafted both structurally and syntactically, and just thoroughly enchanting.

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam, the story focuses on the lives of an unusual little household. A wealthy merchant marries a country girl young enough to be his daughter, and she moves in with his prim and religious sister, their nosy maid, African manservant, and two dogs. Although some of the characters may seem like fairly run-of-the-mill story components, it’s the relationships between all of these people that kicks the story into being. The people are three dimensional and complicated, and they are what pulls the plot along at a good pace.

This book is full of twists and turns that I couldn’t have predicted, and the unpredictability – the mystery – is what I think will make this book really memorable for me. This is just a sample of really really good story-telling.

One little thing that did niggle me was the ideology. There are a lot of key issues addressed in some way in this book (no spoilers!), but there were a few times that characters spoke and reasoned about these things in a way that would fit perfectly into our modern society, but that seemed a little anachronistic for their context. I wanted more transition; more space so that a counter-cultural stance isn’t just portrayed as moral integrity, but as something learned, discovered.

Overall though, the setting of this book is magical, and I feel pretty confident in saying that this book will drag you back to 1600’s Netherlands, and you won’t want to tear yourself away.

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

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Clockwork Angel and Poetry: Part 5

Here is the fifth – and final! – instalment of all the poetry alluded to and quoted in Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Enjoy!

The Old Church Tower by Emily Bronte – I really like this poem! I think its apparent simplicity makes it all the more lovely.

I watched how evening took the place
Of glad and glorious day
I watched a deeper gloom efface
The evening’s lingering ray

Genesis 31:49 – This Biblical quote made the list because it’s just great. The verse is taken from the story of Jacob and Laban, and is used in reference to a covenant. The way it’s used in Clockwork Angel is a little more romanticised!

It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me while we are away from each other.”

The Lost Leader by Robert Browning – I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like Robert Browning.

Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,

One task more declin’d, one more foot-path untrod,

One more devil’s-triumph, and sorrow for angels,

One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!

And with that, we’ve finished! That was every poem/work of literature (excluding novels) quoted or alluded to in Clockwork Angel. I hope you enjoyed it!

Did you have a favourite poem from the selection? Is there any more Victorian poetry you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Clockwork Angel and Poetry: Part 4

We’re getting through it! Here’s part 4 of my compilation of poetry quoted in Clockwork Angel.

Laus Veneris by Algernon Charles Swinburne – This is another long poem, but if you’re into romantic, beautifully-written verse, you should probably have a read.

I dare not always touch her, lest the kiss

Leave my lips charred. Yea, Lord, a little bliss,

Brief bitter bliss, one hath for a great sin;

Nathless thou knowest how sweet a thing it is.

Maxims by Francois La Rochefoucauld – Apart from being the proprietor of a fantastic name, Francois is also the writer of a book of philosophical maxims. I really like this one!

Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and fans the bonfire.

The River’s Tale by Rudyard Kipling – I’m confused as to how I’ve managed to write over 100 posts about literature and NOT mention this man yet. Doesn’t this little excerpt make you want to read more?

Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew

Wanted to know what the River knew,

For they were young and the Thames was old,

And this is the tale that the River told

The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde – Wilde was imprisoned in Reading Gaol for ‘homosexual offenses’. It’s thought that this poem was written during his exile.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other’s way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say

Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Believe it or not, there is more to this play than an over-quoted line spoken at a skull. Shocking, I know.

There are more things in heaven and earth…

Than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

Part 4 is done! As always, I love to hear what you think of the poems.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

World Cup Inspired: France

If you weren’t aware, the FIFA World Cup is in full swing, sparking good-natured national rivalry across the globe. I decided it would be fun to pick a country, and find books that I’ve read that offer a representation of said country, whether that be historically, culturally or linguistically. Today (or at least, as I write this) France plays Germany! I’ve chosen to pick books based on France not necessarily because I support them but because the books I’ve read about Germany tend to be focused around the World Wars, which I didn’t feel was a fair representation of the country.

  • Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly This YA historical fiction is grossly under-appreciated. Two girls from different centuries find that their paths collide in Paris, only to discover that they are not alone in their struggles. It’s been a long time since I read this, but I will say this: no plot summary can do justice to the brilliant work that is this book. Five stars from me!
  • The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner Don’t worry – this is the last one related to the French revolution! Sally Gardner is one of my favourite authors both for YA and Adult literature, and this was the book that introduced me to her. This historical fiction blends magic realism, fantasy and romance to make one of my all-time favourite novels. Another five stars!
  • Waiting for Anya – Michael Morpurgo I think, being a Michael Morpurgo book, we can all assume that this is going to be a heart-warming and tenderly told read. Set in the Second World War, the story follows an endeavour to rescue Jewish children from the Nazi regime. A really touching children’s book that receives 4 stars from me.
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick Recently adapted into a movie, this beautiful YA/children’s book blends illustration and prose to create a completely original steam-punk-esque depiction of 1930’s Paris. Definitely recommended for all ages; you’ll fall in love with orphaned Hugo as he searches for answers. 4 stars!
  • Chocolat – Joanne Harris This one’s a movie, too! When slightly eccentric mother and daughter move to a little French village, they create a stir. The unheard-of blasphemy of opening a chocolaterie during Lent means that tension is manifest. Beautifully written and sensitively told, Chocolat is a really fantastic novel that I gave 4 stars.
  • La Parure – Guy de Maupassant To my shame, this is the only book on my list that was originally written in French. It’s a short story published in English as “The Necklace.” A comment on consumerism and an exploration of human nature, this is well worth a read. (As it’s such a short work, I’m hesitant to attempt a plot summary for fear of diminishing the reading experience!) That’s 3 stars from me.

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to know what you thought of them! Also, who are you supporting this World Cup? Are there any books about France that you’d recommend? Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!