A BOOK OR MORE

Christian book haul

I put myself on a bit of a book ban this year. The aim was to blitz through the books I had on my shelf before 2017 and as far as I was concerned, it was going well; We were 8 months in and I’d only bought 7 books. Book lovers, you understand the struggle of holding back when charity/ book shops are always right around the corner… not to mention the internet.

But THEN came the holidays, and I went to a christian event called Newday and I also went camping with my church youth group. The book shops were well stocked at both, and really, can you stop yourself growing in your faith for the sake of a book ban? I don’t think so: the perfect excuse had arisen.

Newday

1. Storylines

Goodreads tells me that I’m 45% of the way through this, and I’m likin’ it. The book aims to take its readers through the 6 overarching themes of the Bible to help show us the relevance of scripture we might not have understood and to reveal the links between the new & old testament. It’s an easy read, the tone is friendly and it brings a lot of clarity.

2. Erasing Hell

I haven’t started this yet, but one of the main reasons I picked it up was because I heard one of the authors -Francis Chan- preach and it was extremely moving and compelling. (I laughed a lot as well). Now, that kind of speaker probably has an interesting thing or two to say. The blurb tells me that this book seeks to illuminate what the Bible actually says about hell, much needed in a time where many Christians feel too uncomfortable thinking about what the concept of hell could actually imply. This book has unsurprisingly got some mixed reviews, so I look forward to having a look myself.

Youth group camp

The book stall at camp had some absolute bargains, let me tell you. Pretty sure every book there was less than a fiver.

1. How can I be sure?

This is an addition to the ‘Questions Christians ask’ series (as is book #2) which I am definitely a fan of. As the title suggests, this is a book about all the times Christians have doubts about their faith. It deals with uncertainties that stem from things such as not having an ‘experience’ with God or wondering if you’re loved. I’m positive there’ll be a lot of content I can relate to and a lot of encouraging material.

2. How will the world end?

I finished this last week and gave it a 4 star rating. I was keen to begin it right away because it’s a question that confused me immensely. There’s always some horror movie about the Antichrist as well as a dozen different theories on Christians being zapped up to heaven, so I wanted to know what the Bible actually said about this stuff and what was just speculation. Disclaimer: I wasn’t disappointed. Although it isn’t much of a shock that people will read Revelation and have different interpretations, that shouldn’t divide our community. My personal opinion is still being formulated on this matter, but the important thing for Christians is that we unite in knowing Jesus will return. I think that’s a crucial point made by the author.

3. Ezekiel: For His Glory

This is one of many devotional books by 10Publishing. Before buying, I’d read their devotional through the book of Hosea and currently, I’m on Esther. I find the format of these books really helpful, so for £1.50 of course I was going to snap it up. Each page is numbered but undated so there’s no pressure to read them every day without fail. The explanations of passages (in the others I’ve read) were coherent easy reads and each of those sections end with a helpful reflection/ prayer.

4. Crazy Lazy

Despite this consisting of a mere 43 pages I’m expecting this to be convicting. It’s very telling that all of my family members were confident this was the book for me. The fact that this is my first post in about 8 months might also give you some insight into my need for a lil something on laziness. After all, I have an inkling that sloth wasn’t one of the fruits of the spirit.

Well, there we have it: the demise of a book ban, but a burst of new life into my bookshelves. Thanks for reading!

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2016 wrap up

Last year I read 52 books out of a goal of 50, which needless to say, I’m happy with- though it does seem like reading goals are the only ones I can actually complete (rip).

Below is a summary of my 3 favourite and 3 least favourite reads last year… this excitement almost warrants party poppers, don’t ya think?

Least favourites

3. Frankenstein

I’m lazy, so if you care why this classic ended up here then my short review: https://abookormore.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/frankenstein/ might shed some light. I do respect this as a work of literature, don’t get me wrong. I just do not like it.

2. Demigods and monsters

This is Raye Wagner’s second installment of her ‘Sphinx’ series. Bafflingly, this has so far achieved a 4.3 average rating on Goodreads. A 4.3 rating for a sequel indicates a work of fiction where the plot progresses… a 4.3 rating signalizes a book that draws you closer to the characters… a 4.3 rating is not fitting for this book.

We’ll keep this short before I begin to rant, but I guess I was just disappointed that this new series of curses and mythology was reducing itself to a secret-ridden girl, sidelining her mission (and her readable story line) to work out her ever so confusing love triangle. Sigh.

1. Alice in Wonderland

???

I just didn’t really seem to get the appeal here. There’s an abundance of imaginative ideas (obviously) but I found Alice irritating and somewhat cringey, which is certainly not what one looks for in a protagonist.  I can’t say I enjoyed this which is disappointing. I will potentially read it again in the future to see if I can grasp some of its greatness because it just felt pointless to me, and still does. But hey, it was short so that’s a bonus.

Favourites

3. Red Queen

Did I really just slander two loved and respected classics, only to appraise an over-hyped YA fiction? Well, at least I’m self aware! Victoria Aveyard  t r u l y  sucked me in with this addictive read. I lapped up all the descriptions of the powers and special abilities on show, I was shamelessly excited to see an arena, I adored the cast of characters. Later on in life, I may sigh at my love for this. For now though, my teen self will continue to inwardly squeal at this series; Its just a lotta fast-paced fun, my friends.

2. Skulduggery Pleasant series

This 9 book series is one heck of a ride and well worthy of being mentioned in my bookish highlights. The first book is the weakest for me- perhaps it was trying to find its feet? In any case, I’ll let it slide. Throughout the series there is an incredible and exciting cast of cool characters, who work to make up a delightfully witty dialogue. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes magic, a bit of violence, and who’s looking for a laugh. It does do to bare in mind that this series is targeted at younger readers, but I know myself and many others still found it immensely enjoyable.

1. Ender’s Game series (thus far)

~~~ Just as a disclaimer, I’d like to say that my respect for these books (Ender’s game and Speaker for the dead) doesn’t extend to a respect/ endorsement of any hurtful remarks from Orson Scott Card himself. It is sad that many readers have blacklisted this story due to the author, but I cannot blame them for it. ~~~

Ender’s Game is conceptually rich and immersive, and focuses on a young boy onto which the burden of winning a war is thrust. The writing is haunting in the way that it challenges morals and evokes emotion, but it also handles the action and the thrill present in any good sci-fi with adept ease. The sequel follows on so well, and is yet so different to the first, that the series is massively intriguing. It’s deep and it’s exciting. I really cannot wait to pick up the third book.

 

So there were my messy thoughts on last year’s reads! Feel free to comment if there was anything you agreed/disagreed with, but first and foremost thank you if you even read this far! A happy new year to you all x

4 months left

This week’s T5W makes us confront our (most likely overflowing) tbr piles and select 5 books we particularly want to read by the end of the year. There’s a little less than 4 months to get this done…

lez go.

My choices:

Seraphina #1 and #2

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman will be a reread for me since I read it in 2015 but desire a ‘refresh’ to read it’s sequel, Shadow Scale.  From the start of Hartman’s novel I was just engrossed by the fantasy world, and need I explain why I enjoyed the dragon content ?? After I finished it, it was instantly a favourite of mine. Now that I’m so much older and  so much wiser I’m also curious to see if I love it as much the second time around. Dear readers, I am so excited for this serious. Pumped. Raring. Ready to go. You might even be treated with an actual review when I’m done.

The Cursed Child

Ssssssh. I know you’ve heard too much about this. I know: I understand. The Cursed Child is the ridiculously hyped new addition to the Harry Potter series that has earned itself ridiculously naff reviews. But like everyone else, I can’t resist having a look for myself.

Heracles

I purchased Heracles by the Stephanides brothers when I was in Greece last month because hey- that’s a good cultural choice right? I really adore mythology and this cute pocket sized book looked like a perfect addition to my shelf. I’m also starting a classical civilisation course in September (peek into my personal life, oooooh) so I particularly want to get through some Greek-related books soon.

Incomparable

In this book, Andrew Wilson addresses 60 descriptions of God in snappy bible-focused chapters to encourage faith. My sister gave this a strong recommendation, as well as rating it 5 stars on goodreads, so I definitely  wanted to give it a read. As cool as dragons are, I can’t think of a better subject to read about than God.

I See You

Clare Mackintosh left me gobsmacked with her début psychological thriller I Let You Go, and when I’d discovered she’d written another book I was itching to get my hands on it. Huge thanks to Tesco for providing for my needs here: £5 for a new hardback isn’t bad going. I See You now sits pretty in my room and the only reason I haven’t devoured it yet is because I’m waiting for the perfect moment to read it (in reality, this will merely be a test of my will-power). The general consensus says not to fear, Mackintosh isn’t just a one trick pony. Can’t wait to agree.

So those are my choices! Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment any books you especially want to get through this year. Happy blogging!

 

Holiday

Tomorrow I’m taking a flight to Greece for 10 days- not trying to brag just providing context (yeh Olivia they’ll all buy that) and instead of packing I’m trying to formulate a blog post on this trial: what should I bring to read?

Deciding what books to take on holiday should have been one of the labours of Hercules.

Usually in such a time I’m faced with trying to balance the desire to be optimistic about the reading I’ll get done, along with the practical dilemma of not being able to pack hundreds of books. However, I was lucky enough to get a kindle last Christmas so this problem has been somewhat eradicated.

But issues remain.

If this week I find myself relaxing by the pool, do I really want be holding an electronic device? I’m leaning towards a ‘no’ here for obvious reasons, so dabbling between physical and electronic books seems to be the best option.

Let’s take a look at some stunningly groundbreaking conclusions I’ve reached:

Physical books

  • Take paperbacks. I’m of the opinion this should be a definitive rule. Despite the beauty of the hardback, they take up more room and you’ll only end up ruining their pretty dust jackets.
  • Bring shorter books so you can pack more. It probably didn’t need to be said, but if you have an e-reader you can download all those long windy classics on there for free instead to save space.
  • Don’t worry about taking a particularly summery book or a fluffy YA if you’re not into that genre. It’s what a lot of people suggest and it probably does help you get into that holiday spirit- but hey, if you want to take Great Expectations to the beach you go for it.

Electronic books

  • It’s apparent that you can download how ever many you like, so why not get something out of your comfort zone? All sorts of books are free on kindle so there’s no harm at all in trying something new whilst you’re on your flight. You’ve added no extra burden to your luggage if you don’t like it.
  • Browse lists of the free books available (they’re not all Homer and Jane Austen- you’d be surprised). You will have no worries about running out of reading material.

And finally, if you’re interested, here’s what I’ve decided to take with me:

  1. Grimm’s Fairy Stories, Jacob Grimm (electronic, free)
  2. The Odyssey, Homer (electronic, free)
  3. The Foxhole Court, Nora Sakavic (electronic, free)
  4. Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card (paperback)
  5. Curse of the Sphinx, Raye Wagner (free on e-readers if you sign up to her newsletter)
  6. The Waves, Virginia Woolf (paperback)

 

 

Smooth

Smooth is today’s one-word prompt, courtesy of whatever angel happens to run The Daily Post.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to think about the particularly smooth characters that glide into literature: the charmers, the ‘irresistibles’.  This was proven quite difficult when I came to the realization that I hardly ever reach for romance.

Ah.

But it was a challenge that I didn’t want to back down from, so I’ve weeded out a few smooth operators nonetheless.

3) Lancelot 

Not exactly a bookish creation I know, but Arthurian elements in literature hold a special place in my heart. I’d read books such as Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Arthur High King of Britain’ from an early age, and after binge watching BBC’s ‘Merlin’ with my sister, it became a solidified love.  When Lancelot swoops onto the scene, as he inevitably does, I feel like we can all understand a bit more why Guinevere was part of one of the most legendary love affairs of history. A knight vying for affection in (arguably) the height of chivalry is probably quite hard to resist. Sorry, Arthur.

2) Ginny Weasley

No-one said this shortlist was just for the blokes in fiction, and no-one whose read the Harry Potter books can deny Ginny’s fiery and flirty allure. During her time at Hogwarts she dated Michael Corner, Dean Thomas, and Harry Potter. Not a shabby list at all, and not many people could scoff at dating and even marrying the chosen one. There’s also this slytherin interaction which I find humorously  illuminating:

Draco Malfoy: “But that Weasley girl! What’s so special about her?”

Pansy Parkinson: “A lot of boys like her. Even you think she’s good-looking, don’t you Blaise, and we all know how hard you are to please!”

She’s an amazing Quidditch player, a master of the bat-bogey hex, AND good looking. It’s almost dizzying.

1 ) Finnick Odair 

Not an overly shocking choice is it? The very Capitol was in love with Finnick, and I can think of many of my own friends who are also rather taken by the trident-wielding victor. He’s barely clothed and described as ‘seductive’ when we first meet him; though for many of us our love for Finnick really came about after his witty charm and dedication was revealed. I’d mention his utter love for Annie, but then I might just start sobbing. So here’s some lightheartedness instead:

“Finnick?” I say, “Maybe some pants?”
He looks down at his legs as if noticing his outfit for the first time. Then he whips off his hospital gown leaving him in just his underwear. “Why? Do you find this” – he strikes a ridiculously provocative pose – “distracting?”

You know, I think I will take that sugar cube.

So that was my list! Not particularly detailed or thought-provoking, but it was fun to write and I hope you enjoyed it.  x

Songs I associate with different books

Songs you find yourself associating with different books (whether that be because of lyrics, tone or whatever reason), is this week’s topic for Top 5 Wednesday. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly book challenge that’s been going strong in the book blogging community for quite some time, and if you want to get involved, you can find the information needed for this month on this goodreads page. I’m obviously a bit late as it’s now Friday, but I hope you realize that I’m practically on my knees begging for your forgiveness.

…Onto my choices!

Laughter Lines by Bastille + We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

LYRICS: “I’ll see you in the future when we’re older
And we are full of stories to be told
Cross my heart and hope to die
I’ll see you with your laughter lines” 

We are all Completely Beside Ourselves is a highly praised novel that delves into the gritty, emotional life of a girl named Rosemary whose father used her childhood as an experiment. The novel begins in the middle of Rosemary’s life with her at college, but goes on to explore her undigested past, and then later, her future. I chose the song because Rosemary spends a lot of her time longing to see her siblings again to help her put the past behind her. To me, this drew parallels with the voice in Laughter Lines who desires also to see their loved ones again, and hopefully in a happier situation where they can reminisce instead of despair.

My Blood by Ellie Goulding + Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

LYRICS: “And God knows I’m not dying but I bleed now
And God knows it’s the only way to heal now
With all the blood I lost with you
It drowns the love I thought I knew”

Red Queen is the first book in Aveyard’s best-selling YA debut series. First of all, Red Queen is not particularly original; It has many of the girls vs society tropes that YA fantasy is drowning in. However, people still find excitement and enjoyment in it, despite the lack of ground breaking material. Much like pop music. Do we still read/listen to it? Yes. Did I rate the book 5 stars on goodreads? You bet.

Secondly, blood is a major theme in both of my choices. In Red Queen, those with silver blood have incredible, varied talents and are the elite in society because of it. The red bloods are inferior, common and all lack skill… that is of course until we discover that our protagonist Mare has both red blood and a special ability. Who could’ve seen THAT one coming?!  Not only this, but Mare falls in love with a silver, and well, it doesn’t quite work out for her.

Looks like Ellie relates.

What Went Down by Foals + Lord of the Flies by William Golding 

LYRICS: “Give up my money, give up my name, take it away
I’ll give it away, I’ll give it away, I’ll give it
When I see a man, I see a lion
When I see a man, I see a liar”

If you’ve heard this song, then chances are you’re confused. What Went Down is an alternative rock track whilst Lord of the Flies is a classic in which upper class British boys are stranded on an island. However, there’s a particular line in the book that explains my choice:

“However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick.”

Both of these very different examples agree that humanity has the potential to be like a courageous ‘lion,’ and be ‘heroic.’ They also draw attention to the innate darkness in us that makes us ‘sick’ and ‘liar[s]’. Cheery stuff.

I Miss the Old Kanye by Kanye West + The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

LYRICS: “I used to love Kanye, I used to love Kanye
I even had the pink Polo, I thought I was Kanye
What if Kanye made a song, about Kanye?
Called “I Miss The Old Kanye,” man that would be so Kanye
That’s all it was Kanye, we still love Kanye
And I love you like Kanye loves Kanye”

In this first installment of Rick Riordan’s new series,  you have Apollo (it’s a close call, but he’s probably the most self absorbed of the Greek gods) and he has angered Zeus- big time. As punishment, Apollo is thrown off Mount Olympus into the mortal world as a painfully average 16 year old, and lacking any of the godly abilities he possessed. To earn back Zeus’ favour, Apollo must complete a number of incredibly difficult trials. If you’ve read ANY of the Percy Jackson books and seen Apollo in action, then I’m pretty sure you know why I have made this choice. If not, I shall explain for you.

  1. Apollo is the Greek god of music and poetry. This means that he can frequently be found projecting his own crafted works to whatever crowd he can get. Spoiler alert, they’re hilariously awful. I’ll let you figure out why I’ve paired him with this particular rap.
  2. Like I have mentioned, he loves himself. If you swapped the names in the song, you’ve managed to make yourself a ridiculously accurate portrayal of his character. Man, that would be so Apollo.

Runnin’ by Naught Boy + Allegiant by Veronica Roth

LYRICS: “I ain’t runnin’, runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all
If I lose myself, I lose it all”

I realize that this post is already too long (sorry) so i’ll try and make this brief.

Allegiant is the third and final book in the Divergent series. What makes it stand out from the others (apart from the shock ending, but that’s another matter entirely) is it’s multiple POVs; the events of the book unfold through both Tris’ and Tobias’ narration. This is a contributing factor to why I’ve linked my choices, because Runnin’ is sung by Beyoncé as well as Arrow Benjamin: it’s enjoyable to get both a male and female voice.  Additionally, the song is about outrunning personal fears and being stronger, which has always been a goal of the main characters mentioned.

So that’s it! If you actually got this far and are reading this, then I am delighted! Truthfully, I’m also quite shocked because this is over 1000 words…

You’re a dedicated soul I’ll give you that.

Was this even remotely coherent? Does anyone even know what I’m on about? Should I go back to normal book reviews? Blogging is hard.

The Scorpio Races

Title: The Scorpio Races

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 482

Publisher: Scholastic

“Tell me what it’s like. The race.”
What it’s like is a battle. A mess of horses and men and blood…It’s speed, if you’re lucky. It’s life and it’s death or its both and there’s nothing like it.

The Scorpio Races was enjoyable, for sure. It’s a beautiful, sturdy retelling of the ancient water horse myth: wild creatures emerging from the sea, eager to eat the very men who dare to ride them. This stunningly vicious concept was definitely the selling point for this book.

I did, however, find this novel quite slow paced. The town it is set in, Thisby, is built up and layered thoroughly (which I enjoyed), but I found at times the plot was sacrificed for this. The Scorpio Races is not mainly about a singular bloody thrill race, I can tell you.

Instead, Stiefvater writes about relationships and devotion of all kinds. Throughout the novel there is dual narration that allows readers to explore the protagonists’ struggles and hopes. It was a nice and useful addition, but the narrative voices were not distinct, and it was hard to believe they were, ya know, actually in love. A heart warming friendship? Most certainly. But a passionate romance between the characters… too much of a young adult cliché and not quite right.

Despite the selection of criticisms niggling at my mind, The Scorpio Races is soundly written and provides readers with a tale of loyalty and bravery that YA lovers would certainly appreciate. The characters are undoubtedly wholesome and likeable, and the ending…*deep breathe* emotional times my friends. Gorgeous and emotional times.

My rating: 3.5

Frankenstein

Title: Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

Pages: 170

Publisher: Wordsworth Classics

On one hand, Frankenstein is a masterful classic- a pioneering work that makes one examine the tendencies of humanity as a whole, and one’s own, darker thoughts. On the other, you have a novel full of Frankenstein and his monster prating. This book could have been condensed to half the length.

It’s entirely possible that I just lack the sophisticated intelligence required to appreciate Shelley’s  classic, but it really did get to the point amidst the book where all I wanted was for one of the characters to hurry up and off the other.

But, if you don’t mind battling through pages of a man cursing beautiful mountains because he believes his presence is tainting them, then congratulations! this book will certainly offer you a lot of food for thought. If not, just believe me when I say we can declare Victor Frankenstein as perfectly synonymous with ‘self pitying ass-hole’.

Glass Sword

Title: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2)

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Pages: 444

Publisher: Harper Teen

Admittedly, I couldn’t get into the book straight away because I spent the first 100 pages or so worrying that Glass Sword wouldn’t be as good as it’s predecessor, but Victoria Aveyard spent the rest of the book proving my worries utterly baseless.

Glass Sword may disappoint fans with it’s limited Maven content; I’d argue that when he did appear, this made it all the more sweet. Perhaps sweet is the wrong word, given he’s a manipulative and malicious monster… but who am I to judge?

The series has received criticism on it’s lack of originality, and some moments do scream ‘The Hunger Games,’ but I’m a sucker for YA fantasy and I’ve certainly become hugely invested in Aveyard’s incredible characters.

If you liked Red Queen, I find it extremely difficult to believe you wouldn’t absolutely adore this next instalment.

Day Of Tears

Title: Day of tears

Author: Julius Lester

Pages: 192

Publisher: Hyperion Books

‘Day of Tears’ is a combination of history and fiction, that reads like a play and feels like a punch in the gut.

Through the novel, readers are taken from plantation to plantation, focusing particularly on one extraordinary slave-girl named Emma who suffers and toils immensely for her rightful freedom.

The particularly refreshing aspect of Lester’s work, is the range of contrasting and complimenting view points the character’s hold about slavery as a concept. One father in slavery says that:

“You can live better in slavery than you can when you free”

And there are obviously those who disagree:

“[There was] a little white girl who hated slavery, too. She hated wrong”

Julius Lester is an american POC, so I do not believe he has included such quotes to excuse the actions of white people, but to craft a historically accurate account.

My rating: 4/5