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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When Princes are TOO Charming

If you’ve read my Month in Books for March, you may have noticed that I didn’t enjoy ‘Cinder’ (Marissa Meyer) as much as I could have. Today I wanted to talk about one of the issues that kind of spoiled the story for me. (That’s not to say Cinder is the only culprit; only that it’s the example most fresh in my mind.)

We all love a good ‘Prince + Common Girl’ romance: it shows that class does not make you a good person, that two hearts can unite over social boundaries, and that you really can go from rags to riches.

The problem, however, arises when the Prince flirts, is refused, and then continues to flirt, creating an imbalance of power and effectively demonstrating a lack of respect for the girl’s wishes. Does he not realise that he literally has power over the entire country? His ‘Let’s go out’ is a royal command! How is the girl expected to say no?

We see in the story of Cinder a Prince so used to being adored by girls that he really can’t take no for an answer. There are times when he explicitly orders his love interest around. Where’s the balance in this? That’s not okay!

It worries me that we can read about, and even envy, relationships that are so one-sided, and – to quote my good friend Belle – ‘positively primeval’. Nobody – no, not even a prince – deserves to be liked back. A guy doesn’t have a right to a girl just because he likes her. (Let’s look again at Beauty and the Beast – no means no, Gaston!)

In the end, the young lady does fall for her prince (obviously), but does that really justify his actions before? Is there any point in phrasing your words as an interrogative when the reality is the other person only has one option?

I think relationships should be an equilibrium; a mutual exchange.

What do you think? Do you agree, or am I over-reacting? Share your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~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