Month in Books: July 2017

Am I the only person who struggles to register July as a month, and just lives in a 60-day June? Either way, I read eight books this month, and here they are!

Lion – Saroo Brierley – 5 stars This is the memoir that inspired the recent movie of the same name: it follows the story of a 5 year old boy who gets separated from his family by mistakenly getting on the wrong train, and ending up on the other side of India. He gets adopted by an Australian family, and as a grown-up manages to use the internet to track down his home town. It’s an amazing story! (Although actor Saroo and real-life Saroo don’t look remotely similar)

Nomad – Alan Partridge – 4 stars For those of you who aren’t British, Alan Partridge is our Ron Burgundy. This book is pretty short, and genuinely hilarious.

The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga – 4 stars This is Adiga’s debut novel, and it is fantastic. Set in India, the story plunges into the caste system, politics, and poverty, and I could not put this down.

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte – Joe Benitez – 4 stars This is a collection of comics set in historical Mexico, and I really enjoyed it! Find my review here.

Heathen – Natasha Alterici – 3 stars Another comic! This is a beautifully drawn Viking story – my review is here!

A-List – D.P. Lyle – 3 stars An American mystery/comedy/thriller novel, and the second in the Jake Longly series. I wrote a review for this one, too – check it out here!

Collins Art Class: The Essential Guide to Creative Painting Skills and Techniques – Simon Jennings – 4 stars This book is pretty much exactly what it says on the cover. I particularly liked that it was full of little galleries of other peoples’ paintings, not just instructions. Inspiring and practical!

Once an Arafat Man – Tass Saada – 5 stars This is an autobiography of a Palestinian man born right in the midst of the conflict with Israel. He talks about running away to join the Palestinian armed forces, training to become a sniper, and how he managed to find new life for himself, and get free of all his anger and hate. I thought this book was really insightful, but most importantly, full of hope.

If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear your thoughts! What was your favourite book you read in July?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

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

Month in Books: May 2017

I hope you’ve all had lovely Mays! Here’s a little book summary of how mine went:

The Arrival – Shaun Tan – 5 stars If you saw last month’s wrap-up, you’ll know that I only recently discovered Shaun Tan’s work, and that I am completely in love with it.

The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood – 3 stars I was actually really disappointed about this. 3 stars is by no means a bad rating, but I usually really love Atwood’s books! This is a Dystopian, but I felt like it didn’t ring true. Of course The Handmaid’s Tale must be horrifically difficult to try and match, but I did think this one fell a little flat.

The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Just out of curiosity! I found this a lot more readable (in terms of accessibility, this isn’t a comment on the politics!) than I thought it would be.

Citizen of the Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein – 4 stars I heard that this was a childhood scifi classic, so I decided to give it a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I don’t really have a scifi-reading background, but although it was very ‘genre-d’, I found it accessible, and still very human. I was actually really surprised to find that it had been written in the 50’s; it still stands as futuristic – and just really cool – today.

The Abolition of Work – Bob Black – 2 stars A little essay pertaining to the idea that all work is slavery and therefore no one should do it. Very readable and mildly humorous, but also a little too silly to really take seriously. I found the perspective interesting though!

Vicious – V.E. Schwab – 4 stars A Young Adult novel that takes the superhero trope and refreshes it. This was a re-read for me, and you can see my latest review for it here!

By Searching – Isobel Kuhn – 5 stars This is an autobiography of Isobel Kuhn, who was a Canadian missionary in China during the 1920’s. She writes fluently and I love her tone! She’s such a cool woman, and I just loved hearing her story from such a personal level; she’s very open and vulnerable. This is the first of what I believe to be three books detailing her life story – I’m really looking forward to getting to the other two!

The Glories of God’s Love – Milton Vincent – 3 stars A little Christian book to remind people of what the gospel message means day to day. Although I love the concept, I have to admit to getting a little bored with the writing style – maybe that’s me being a terrible person? Either way, its very short and very accessible. Three stars!

And that’s all for May! Recognise any of the titles, or have any recommendations for me to tackle in June? I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this month!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

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: January 2016

Last year, I managed to get through 120 books. It was a push, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun! I really got to broaden my book horizons, and I’ve learned a lot. This year, I’ve decided to take things a bit slower. I’m getting into the more serious parts of my degree, and I’ve got myself heavily involved in all sorts of extra-curricular things at university. My target is to read 52 books this year – we’ll see how that goes!

Without further ado, here’s what I picked up in January.

Holiness – J.C. Ryle – 5 stars This is a non-fiction Christian book, originally published in the 1800’s. I read a slightly updated version, so it was very easy to read – which was helpful, because there’s a lot of really juicy theological things to get your teeth into! It took me a while to read, but I really liked it!

The Red House Mystery – A.A. Milne – 4 stars I was so excited when I found out that the creator of Winnie the Pooh also wrote novels! This mystery was charming and intelligent, and I thought the main characters were really very sweet. I enjoyed it!

Seriously…I’m Kidding – Ellen Degeneres – 4 stars A memoir by the famous American talk show host. I can remember laughing at this book – it was light and witty and quite enjoyable. What I can’t remember is exactly what it was about…

So that’s a run-down of the whole three books I read in January. What have you read this year? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month In Books: October 2014

This month has been really crazy for me! I started university and have been learning how to motivate myself to get to lectures and study independently, but also how to cook and do laundry and basically maintain myself as a human being. I’ve met so many new people and have tried a lot of new things. All this is fantastic, but it does mean that I have read next to nothing!

Anyway, here is my reading wrap-up for last month.

It Shouldn’t Happen to a Missionary – Alf Cooper – 5 stars This is an autobiographical account of evangelist Alf Cooper. He talks about his time training and learning about the Christian faith, and then about his work in Chile. It’s a really great read: funny, honest and fairly succinct!

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley – 3 stars I will admit to being a little disappointed by this acclaimed classic…it didn’t really scare, intrigue or incite in me any real sympathy for any of the characters. It did, however, make me think, and I wrote a post about the ethics of Frankenstein here.

The Waste Land – TS Eliot – 4 stars I think this one’s going to need a re-read! I picked it up mostly because I felt I really needed to be able to say I had read some Eliot prose, but I’m glad I did! His writing is fantastic, and this piece is very weird and will probably mess with your head!

Love Words: The Self and the Text in Medieval and Renaissance Poetry – Mariann Sanders Regan – 4 stars This book is choc-full of interesting points and theories about the subject, if you’re into that sort of thing (or if you happen to have an essay to write on Renaissance poetry!)

The Night of the Mi’raj – Zoe Ferarris – 5 stars I loved this book! It’s a murder mystery set in Saudi Arabia, and the already twisted and clever plot is further complicated by the orthodox Muslim rules and norms in place. It was both an insight into a totally different culture and a transportation into a really wonderful story.

And that’s all I got through last month! If you’ve read or are planning to read any of these, let me know! What were your favourite books of October?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

 

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

Month in Books: August 2014

August has been so busy for me, and I have done very little reading. I’ve been travelling and working and…well, you can just see my meagre list for yourself.

The Protector – Danielle Lenee Davis – 5 stars A fantastic murder mystery that I reviewed here. If you like gritty (and lovable) characters, plot twists and witty dialogue, this book is highly recommended!

Jaws – Peter Benchley – 4 stars Gripping and pacy, I’m sure you all know what Jaws is about. I loved everything except the ending.

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway – 3 stars Not my favourite Hemingway story, but definitely an important one for his career. I’m struggling to summarise the plot without directly quoting the rather self-explanatory title – but it’s about fishermen. If you like lovely writing and thoughtful stories you should give this one a try.

The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks – 3 stars I had such high expectations for this romance novel, and it didn’t quite meet them. I did love the characters though, so I’ll definitely look into the movie.

So…3 and a bit novels for August. And as I’m sorting my life out to head to university this month, the reading’s not looking much more hopeful!

Let me know your favourite read of August, and whether you enjoyed any of the books mentioned above.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month in Books: June 2014

The wrap-up for June is here!

The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells – 3 stars This is definitely my preferred Wells book! It was an interesting premise: you guessed it – there’s a man…who’s invisible.

Zoli – Colum McCann – 4 stars This novel is about the gypsy people in Slovakia, and the struggles and discrimination they’ve faced from about World War 2 onwards. Follow poet Zoli as she is not only targeted by the world but her own people.

The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde – 5 stars This is my favourite play! Funny and cute and almost Shakespearean in its gleeful confusion. It’s short too, so definitely worth getting your hands on a copy.

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding – 4 stars I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It’s told in a diary form (surprise!), but it feels very genuine and works as well as – if not better than – any other story I’ve read in this form. Also, it’s funny.

The Monstrumologist – Rick Yancey – 4 stars This YA historical horror was great! Rick Yancey also wrote the infamous’The Fifth Wave’, but I really think this one is better. The protagonist is an orphaned boy who is an apprentice for the renowned monster hunter.

Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson – 5 stars I’m sure I’ve already talked about this little gem on this blog, but here it is again! Orphaned English school-girl is sent off to the Amazon and unwittingly embarks on a fairy-tale-like adventure.

The Raven – Edgar Allan Poe “Quoth the Raven, nevermore.” Yeah, that one.

Delirium – Lauren Oliver – 5 stars I reviewed this here! At the moment, this is my favourite YA Dystopian. In a world where love is curable, our main characters have to decide what they stand for.

Everything Is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer – 4 stars A Jew visits Ukraine to try and find out more about his ancestry. This is such a creative book, told in letters, lists and prose. It’s funny and heart-breaking, and really quite an excellent book.

Crossed – Ally Condie – 3 stars The second book in Ally Condie’s YA trilogy ‘Matched’, follow our characters as they…walk across some rocks. Suffice to say that it’s not my favourite of the series, but you do get to know some great characters, and we learn about the Dystopian society in which they live.

Trash – Andy Mulligan – 4 stars Set in an unnamed Asian country (the Philippines), this story is about three young friends who survive by selling what they can find in the rubbish heaps. One day, they come across more than they bargained for…I don’t know how to summarise this. It’s great though, so you should try it.

And that’s June! We’re up to date!

As always, let me know which of these books have tempted you, or which you’ve read before. I’m open to recommendations, too!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Month in Books: May 2014

Here’s May’s wrap-up. We’re catching up!

Attachments – Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars This little romance, set at the dawn of the internet, is cute and hilarious and 100% gripping. Rainbow writes such winning characters and the plot is lovely.

Allegiant – Veronica Roth – 3 stars The third and final book in the Divergent trilogy. A big finale that completely rips your heart out. It took me a while to get to grips with the pacing, though.

I Am Legend – Richard Matheson – 5 stars Now THIS is a vampire novel! Also a movie starring Will Smith, this is the story of the last (known) human left in a world being taken over by people suffering from the illness…that turns them into vampires. Fantastic book!

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe – 3 stars Set in a fictional Nigerian tribe, Achebe introduces us to a completely different way of life. The story is set around the time Western influences start seeping in, so it makes for a very harrowing read.

Rebel Belle – Rachel Hawkins – 4 stars I kind of hated myself for liking this so much. It’s an urban fantasy/romance YA novel that is quick and funny and cute. Oh alright, I recommend it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky – 5 stars This is such a great book! (and movie, with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman, directed by the author himself) Follow main character Charlie as he works through his loves and losses during his high school years. Beautifully told and such great characters!

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5 stars This was my Book of the Month! I loved this classic (and yes, there’s a movie with Leo DiCaprio) for its accessibility, timeless relevance and gorgeous characters.

I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You – Ally Carter – 2 stars Follow a member of an all-girls spy school who speaks 12 languages and yet resorts to ‘OMG’ to express her feelings. I mean, it’s cute and fun and I’m sure it’s somebody’s thing…it just wasn’t for me.

As The Crow Flies – Damien Boyd – 4 stars I reviewed this here! A crime novel with a rock-climbing backdrop, this story will whisk you away and surprise you throughout.

Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear – Andy Stanton – 4 stars While not my favourite Mr Gum book, this one is still fantastic. Lovely illustrations and hilarious text, it’s a children’s novel that is suitable for anyone. I laugh out loud every time.

A House Somewhere – Don George, Anthony Sattin – 2 stars A collection of extracts from travel writings. I’m sure many people will love this book, but it bored me a little! Probably part of the problem was the fact that I had to study it for school.

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin – 5 stars This book is so long! And yet…worth it. This epic high fantasy has a mind-blowing scope. It’s told from lots of character’s points of view, but Mr Martin makes it all work, juggling threads of stories masterfully.

 

So that was May! If you liked the sound of any of those books, or have read them, let me know! I’m always open to recommendations, too!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani