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

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Month in Books: September 2014

This month has been my best reading month this year! I had a lot of spare time working as a receptionist, and hanging around before university, so I got through quite a selection! As always, you can clicking the title will send you to the Goodreads page for the book.

Tales from Ovid – Ted Hughes – 5 stars This is Ted Hughes’ translation and interpretation of some of the Roman poems presented in The Ovid. They’re nicely written and very accessible to read.

Disappearing in Plain Sight – Francis L. Guenette – 3.5 stars The story of a small lake-side community that run a camp for teenagers who are working through problems. It’s a great read, with a real emphasis on psychology so if you’re into that, this book may be for you! I reviewed this here.

Be Bright: Living for Christ at University – Dr Andrew King – 4 stars The title is pretty self-explanatory! This is a really short little book that is both wise and very practical.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars This is a really well-loved contemporary romance, although I’ll admit I was expecting more magic and less Jacqueline Wilson.

New Weather – Paul Muldoon – 5 stars This is the most expensive collection of poetry I’ve ever come across! That said, it’s really beautiful and thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed working through these poems.

The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein – 5 stars I loved this! It was my first Tolkein book, so I was excited to get stuck in. The world, characters and whimsical story-telling completely enthralled me. I wrote a post about it here.

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower – Elizabeth Hein – 5 stars I reviewed this here! I really loved this story, which I think is perfectly described here: “A moving, surprisingly humorous, sometimes snarky novel about life, friendship… and cancer.”

The Luck Uglies – Paul Durham – 4 stars I believe this is what you call ‘Middle Grade’ reading, but I flew threw it. It’s a great fantasy story with lovely characters, and it’s just so much fun.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Roald Dahl – 4 stars I’m actually not Dahl’s biggest fan, but I did really like this story! It’s unusual and fun with a strong moral core.

Goldfinger – Ian Fleming – 4 stars Seventh in the James Bond original series, this is actually the first one I’ve ever read! I really enjoyed it, and wrote a review here.

Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable – Valorie Burton – 5 stars I wrote a review here. This is a Christian self-help book, and I found the layout and content really helpful and relevant.

The Lord of the Flies – William Golding – 3 stars Yes. This is the story where a lot of stranded children take over an island and go crazy. It was genuinely terrifying.

Negotiating with the Dead – Margaret Atwood – 4 stars This is a book made up of what were originally Atwood’s lectures on creative writing. It’s been described as erudite, chatty and fun, and I think that’s completely accurate!

Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane – 4 stars A really psychological read set in a mental institute on an isolated island. I wrote a review here.

That Summer – Sarah Dessen – 4 stars This is my first Sarah Dessen book, and it really wasn’t what I was expecting! It’s a sweet and relatable little contemporary.

Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern – 5 stars I wrote a review here. I absolutely loved this book! The quirky structure and heart-warming characters really made it something special for me.

And that’s a wrap on September! (Sixteen books – I think that’s my record!) What have you been reading? Are you interested in any of the titles listed above?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Review: Goldfinger – Ian Fleming

Goldfinger – Ian Fleming – 4 stars

Goldfinger

This was actually my first time reading an original James Bond book! (I’ve dabbled in the ‘Young Bond’ books by Charlie Higson) Although it is the seventh in the series, it’s not difficult at all to pick up on the premise. It’s almost everything I could have asked for in a tale of espionage: adventure, suspense and a dash of cool gadgetry.

Sadly, James Bond is so iconic and the stories so widely alluded to that a lot of the plot components weren’t surprising to me. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Fleming is wildly creative and fiercely intelligent; it just lost the element of surprise.

In this story, Agent 007 takes on the challenge of bringing down thief and swindler Mr Goldfinger, only to find that he may be in a little over his head.

The plot trundles along perfectly well until the golf scene – as someone who knows nothing whatsoever about golf, all the sports jargon went completely over my head. It was long and intricately described, but all I really wanted to know was who won.

I’m going to be honest with you now – this novel is a strong ‘five star’ candidate. It’s well written, gripping and fantastically plotted. What really tainted the experience for me was the fact that James Bond is kind of a jerk. Let’s talk about his womanising. He forces the villain of the story to send him his secretary for no other purpose than his own pleasure. Does he not consider the situation he’s putting this woman in? Can he really be surprised when she ends up dead? After heavily contributing to the cause of her death, surely he would never even consider pursuing her own sister…Oh wait.

The thing that got me was that the writer seemed to fully support his character. There were comments made in the prose – outside of the character’s thoughts – that bordered on misogyny and were well in the realm of chauvinism. Women are given no power in this story! Not only that, but Fleming explains away the brutal promiscuity and accidental murders in flashes of emotional reflection. Wait, are we supposed to sympathise now?

There’s more. I can understand that at the time this was written, World War 2 was still fresh in everyone’s minds. I’d hate to cry ‘racism’, but there are a few lines in this book that really didn’t sit well with me. Negative generalisations of ethnic groups is never ok – never mind which side of the war they were on!

If we can get past the shaky ethics, Goldfinger is a genuinely good novel. I don’t suggest a boycott or anything so drastic; just a little care. Don’t believe everything you read!

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think I’m over-reacting?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani