Top 3 Books – July 2017

Hello there! Welcome back to ‘The Way of Delight’! I just want to say that I’m so glad to have each and every one of you lovely followers following along with me on this blogging journey. And for every person that randomly happens upon this blog, I’m very glad you’ve found me! 🙂 I love getting comments, so please do drop me a comment and ask questions or give your thoughts on the post or anything really!

This week, it is again time for my ‘favourite books of the month mini-reviews’. (Goodness, what a title :D) July was quite a sparse month again, reading-wise, but I did have some good books. So let’s dive in!

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farewell to m

Farewell to Manzanar – Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston

A child growing up behind barbed wire in America.

Shocking? Yes.

True? Unfortunately also, yes.

Everyone has heard about all the internment camps under the Nazi regimes during WWII. But did you know that thousands of Americans were put into internment camps, in America, during WWII? Jeanne Wakatsuki, a Japanese-American girl, was one of those people. Her childhood was abruptly changed forever when she, along with her whole family, was placed in Manzanar camp, an internment camp for Japanese living in America. Her whole life would be shaped by her years living in captivity behind the barbed wire fences in southern California. She tells her eye-opening and gripping story in Farewell to Manzanar.

I read this book avidly, soaking in all the details about this shocking part of WWII history. I would really recommend that you read it. It is a little-known part of history, but one that I think is so important that people know about. I’m giving this book 7* out of 10, and recommending it for ages 13+

 

my heart lies south

My Heart Lies South – Elizabeth Borton De Trevino 

An American girl + a Mexican man + His family = a whole lot of entertainment

When Elizabeth Borton accepted a writing engagement down in Mexico, she didn’t expect that she would return a week or so later, engaged to a native of that land. She didn’t dream that the strange land full of fast speaking, emotionally charged, and lavishly loving people would become her own. But a year later, she returned to Mexico, Mrs Luis Trevino Arreola y Gomez Sanchez de la Barquera. And thus began the adventure of a life time, told charmingly and entertainingly by Elizabeth herself in ‘My Heart Lies South: The Story of my Mexican Marriage’.

This was was a second time read for me, but I still found it incredibly entertaining and educational. It is informative, giving a very in depth look into the Mexican life in the 1930’s. It’s also nice and easy to read, Mrs Trevino’s writing is witty, clear and educational. I felt like I was reliving what life was like in a native Mexican family for myself. There was so much information packed into this one book, from facts on the detailed courting rituals between couples, to how dinner parties were handled, to how babies and children were treated. I find that kind of thing so fascinating – real life stories mixed up with real life lessons and facts.  I’m giving it 8******** out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+.

 

jane of lhill

Jane of Lantern Hill – L.M. Montgomery

 Full of magic and delight and beautiful LMM characters – it’s a darling!

I believe this is the first LMM book I have officially featured here on my blog! And what a good one to start with. 😀 Ahhhh, this book. ❤ It’s perfectly LMM-ish in every way. The story is fascinating (A girl goes to live with her estranged father for a summer and tries to reunite her parents. Sounds interesting, right?). The characters are delightfully humorous and memorable (The Snowbeam family, Aunt Matilda Jollie, Uncle Tombstone, and the cats, First and Second Peter are some of my favourites.) (As well as of course Jane and her Dad!). The descriptions of P.E.I. are on point and magically wonderful. (‘far off hills made of opal dust’, ‘long branches of spicy fir hung over the laced water’, ‘the wind that sang in the spruces, and the gulls that soared whitely over the harbour’.)

The whole book is just packed full of whimsy and fun and delight. And let me tell you, for a LMM book, this is nothing new. She has this wonderful way of writing that is so unique and incredibly enjoyable. I love her! So if you haven’t yet, please go read some of her books. I promise you will not be disappointed. I’m giving this book 9* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+.

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So there you have it, my top 3 books of the month!

Let’s chat! Have you read any LMM books? If so, which ones are your favourites? And what were your favourite reads of July?

Top 3 Books – June 2017

Well hey there! Happy July to everybody! I hope that you’re all enjoying the beginning of summer, and all the joyousness that that brings!

This month was a lot lower in ‘books-read’ than last month (only 13 as compared to May’s 27). Thus, my top books of the month has been culled down from 5 to 3 this time. But I still read some good ones, so let’s get onto some mini-reviews!

 

the crown and the crucible

The Crown and the Crucible – by Michael Phillips + Judith Pella 

A servant and a princess. An unlikely friendship, but one that is destined to be much more than they ever imagined.

My Mum actually read this book when she was about my age, and so I was quite excited to read it! It’s quite a hunk of a book (410 pages) and it is chock full of history. Literally, sooooo much history. Which I find, as a history nerd, absolutely amazing!

It’s set before the Russian Revolution and details the lives of two very different girls, whose lives are entwined together in a fascinating story. This book takes you on a journey from humble peasant cottages to dazzling St. Petersburg ballrooms. It gives you a detailed look into the complex web that was Russian politics in 1876-78. It shows the personal lives of the fabulously rich royalty, as well as the peasants struggling to eke out a living from the land.

I devoured the book in about two days, unable to put it down due to the intriguing plot and captivating characters. I think that the immense amount of historical information in this book would probably be daunting to people who are not into history. But if you are, this is a book for you! This is definitely a solid 7* book, and I am recommending it for about ages 14+. And now I need to see if I can get my hands on the sequel! 😀

 

maniac magee

Maniac Magee – by Jerry Spinelli 

One boy. Two sides of town.  One story.

Ayeeeee, this book. It hit me out of nowhere. I picked it up intending to read a chapter or two, and then an hour later I’d finished it. I was captivated from the first page.

It’s about Maniac Magee. A boy with no home, and who has a myriad of neighbourhood legends told about him. It’s about how one boy lived for a time on both sides of of a town split by prejudice. And it’s about how he mended the divide with some simple things: a ball of string, some baseball stories, a suitcase of books, a couple of friends, some strange sleeping places, butterscotch krimpets, and most importantly, love. It’s a powerful story about so many different things – finding family, breaking down prejudice, and showing that one person really can make a difference.

It may have been aimed at a lower audience than myself, but this book has a message that really is relevant to people of all ages. I’m giving ‘Maniac Magee’ a solid 8* out of 10, and recommending it for about 10+.

 

the song of the lark

The Song of the Lark – by Willa Cather

Beauty can  blossom in hardship, and determination is born out of adversity. 

This book was unexpectedly beautiful. I read it because it was the first in the trilogy, and I wanted to read the third one, but I decided I should read the first two first. (I know, not the most amazing reason to read a book :D) This was my first time reading anything by Willa Cather, and the experience was very positive!

The story chronicles the story of a girl named Thea Kronborg, and her journey to become an esteemed singer. Born into a large family in a small country town, she seems destined for a life of normalcy and drudgery, stuck in the cage of poverty and ignominy. But just like a wild lark cannot stay imprisoned in a cage for long, so Thea cannot stay imprisoned forever in her small town. The beautiful and untamed melody of her spirited determination will break free, her voice will rise, and the song of the lark will be heard. But freedom comes with a price. The gain of fame comes with the loss of innocence.

This book was written so beautifully, and captured the heart of the characters so well. It had its very depressing moments, but it had its very beautiful moments as well. The ending was the only thing that didn’t quite satisfy me. There were some questions I had that I didn’t feel get quite resolved properly. But the goodness of the rest of the book made up for it. I’m giving it a solid 8* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 14+.

That it for this week!

Let’s chat! What have been your favourite reads of June? Have you read any of these books?

*Note: Just to let you know, I will be gone for the next two weeks on a missions trip. I will have scheduled posts going up, but I will not be able to moderate comments until I come back.

 

Book Review – Sounder

Welcome back! This week I’m going to be featuring another book review. I read this short, but impactful book a couple months ago for school, and absolutely loved it. So I’m here today to share it with you!

sounder

Statistics:

Author: William H. Armstrong

Published in: 1969

Genre: Children’s Fiction

PoV: Third Person

Number of Pages: 116

A boy, his father, and a dog. Their lives are entwined together in the Deep South, their ties of family and home and the longing for something better are the common threads that weaves their story together. Their story is one showing the strength of love, the strength of hate, and the strength of hope. Their story is one of injustice, one showing the cruelty of prejudice. Their story is one of hope for a better life and the strength to go on. Their story is beautiful. Their story is heart-breaking. And it is told in ‘Sounder’.

‘Sounder’ was a terribly beautiful book that made me want to cry with sorrow, to shout with anger, and to hug the beautiful pathos of the words close to my heart. It gave a clear insight into the lives of a poor black family struggling to survive in a world that was so prejudiced against them. It showed the depths that prejudice ran in the South, and how it so cruelly affected every black person. It showed how unfair the judicial system was, and how discriminating and horrible people were towards blacks. But it also showed the beauty of love that was so bright against the dark background of hate. It showed the strength of the bond that a family has, and particularly the strength of a bond between a boy and his father. It showed that even though hate and darkness seems to be prevailing, there is always goodness and light struggling to break through. The light of love, the light of family, the light of learning. And ultimately light overcomes the darkness.

I came away from reading ‘Sounder’ feeling sobered and very grateful that I don’t have to live in a society that is so prejudiced against me. I came away feeling affected by the beauty of the story that William H. Armstrong wove together with strands of stunning words. I came away feeling encouraged by the message that was shown – that love and hope will ultimately win over darkness and despair. I am giving ‘Sounder’ a solid 9 ********* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+.

That’s that for this week. See you back here next Saturday!

 

Top 5 Books – May 2017

Wow, how is it already June?! Seriously, we’re halfway through 2017! :O I feel like I’m still somewhere back in March… 😀

This week I am going to be highlighting the top 5 books that I read in May. Kinda like mini-reviews for my favourite books of the month. If you guys like it, I may make it a regular (monthly :D) occurrence. So, without further ado, let’s get onto the reviews!

tce

This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years – By Jaquelle Crowe

Literally what the title says: how the Gospel totally changes and transforms teenagers.

Oh boy. This book is seriously amazingly transformative. If I could get every teenager to read one book, this one would be it. It has the potential to be life-changing!! Jaquelle is a very talented writer, and her heart for teenagers comes through so clearly through her writing. Each chapter deals with a different thing that the Gospel changes in a teen’s life (e.g. – the church, relationships, time, spiritual disciplines, etc.) I was so encouraged and motivated and challenged as I read this book, and I will definitely be re-reading it. I SO recommend it! If you are a teenager, if you know a teenager, if you will soon be a teenager, get this book and read it and then pass it on to others!!! It could be life-changing! This is most definitely a 10* book.

f451

Fahrenheit 451 – by Ray Bradbury

Imagine a world where books are banned, and where firefighters start fires instead of putting them out. And then imagine it’s our world.

I read this book for school, and was very, very surprised by it. First of all, the writing is absolutely beautiful. The way Bradbury paints a picture with his words is… just wow. As an aspiring writer myself, I found a lot to chew over in terms of style. And then there is the story. The story was… I’m not even sure how to describe it. I suppose it’s about book burning and censorship. But it’s about so much more than that. I was very surprised by how much I loved this book (especially considering that it’s futuristic/sci-fi fiction, and I literally never go for that genre). It made me think very deeply about some really important issues. It also sobered me. Because the picture of the futuristic world that  Bradbury paints is one that I can actually see growing in our world today. One totally immersed in the ‘now moment’, in technology, and in entertainment. A world that is caring increasingly less about books and history and relationships. And that is scary. So yes, go read this book, and be prepared to be sobered and surprised by the beauty and the truth contained in it. This is definitely a 9* book.

evidence for Jesus

Evidence for Jesus: Discover the Facts that Prove the Truth of the Bible – by Ralph O. Muncaster

Jesus was real, and Jesus was God. The Bible is historically accurate. There is no doubt about it. And this book succinctly proves it.

I also read this book for school, and again was very happily surprised by it! Muncaster clearly and succinctly lays out truth-filled answers to many questions about Jesus posed by skeptics. He draws from historical documents to prove that yes, Jesus did exist, yes, he did rise from the dead, yes, the Bible is an accurate historical document, and to go even further, yes, Jesus is God.  I found his writing very easy to read, follow and understand. I came away from this book feeling like I’d learnt a huge amount, as well as feeling very encouraged in my faith. It’s so good to get reminders that what we believe in is true and accurate and can stand up to questioning and research! In my opinion, this book is definitely a 9* book.

p&p

Pride and Prejudice – by Jane Austen

Apparently the ultimate romantic classic. It certainly has enough romance in it, and it’s not exactly the type you would imagine either. Oh, and it’s hilarious.

Believe it or not, this was my first foray into the world of Austen! However, I went in with high expectations, and came out with them not quite fulfilled. You see, you hear so much about this book, so much hype and drama and swooning, and I went in expecting to come out a die-hard Jane Austen fan. But I’m not. I’m a fan of her writing, but not a hugely-crazily-in-love-fan. Just a fan. That said, I really did enjoy this book. It was complex, but each ‘mini-plot’ helped to bring about the culmination of the main ‘big-plot’.  And it was also really funny! That was not something I was expecting of a book that was published in 1813! I suppose I would classify this book as ‘unexpected’. Some expectations that I had were unfulfilled, and some parts of the book I totally didn’t expect, but I liked! But overall it was a good book, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Austen in the future. I’m giving P&P definitely 7* and just about 8*. So we’ll leave it at 8*. 😀

worldliness

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World – edited by C.J. Mahaney

Only through the power of the cross can we resist the seduction of a fallen world. A powerful Christ-centred look at engaging the world and worldliness.

 My dear friend sent this to me for a late birthday present, and I devoured it in the course of about 3 days. And I was just so encouraged by it! This book is a look at worldliness, and how Christians should interact with it. I think it’s really aimed more for adults, or even pastors, but this 16 yr old home-edder sure enjoyed it and gleaned a lot of wisdom from it! Each chapter is by a different author, and deals with a different subject: e.g. God, my Heart and Media/and Stuff/and Clothes. I think that each one may have been a sermon that has been put into chapter-form, but I’m not sure on that one so don’t quote me. It’s all edited by C.J. Mahaney, and he also writes a chapter. And boy, this book was just seriously so good! It’s chock-full of Biblical wisdom and encouragement, and I just love how each chapter focuses back on Jesus and the Cross. After all, that should be the centre of the Christian life! This book is definitely a 10* book.

So there we go! My top 5 books that I read in May. Oh wait. I forgot… I have a bonus book!!

rillla

Rilla of Ingleside – by L. M. Montgomery (otherwise known as LMM)

Aaaaaaggggg this book is amazing and wonderfuly beautiful and the ending is the best and everything is just so good gaaaaahhhh!!!! *dies a little from sheer love for this book*

That is literally my reaction to this book. 😀 All the other books I’ve featured were first time reads, but this months reading of ‘Rilla’ was probably my 4th or 5th time through it. And I love it just as much as the first time I read it!!! This is the 8th and last book in the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series by LMM, and in case you didn’t know, this series is my favourite set of books in the entire world. (excepting the Bible of course.) Now apart from the sadness that this is the last book in the series (which automatically makes it sad because there aren’t any more to follow! *sniffs back tears*) this book makes me so happy! The characters (gahhhh, so perfect and darling and hilarious!), the story (Ohhhh my heart! The sorrow and the hope and everything!), the stunning writing (what else can you expect from the genius LMM??) and everything about this book is absolutely frabjous. This is one of my favourite books from the AoGG series. (I’m not sure if you could tell that :D) But ohhhhh, I just love it. So if you haven’t read the AoGG series, get thyself to the books and read them, and then finish up with the beauty that is ‘Rilla’ and then come back and gush with me over the wonderfulness of this book. K? 😀 This is definitely a 10* book. So go, I command thee, read it (unless you haven’t read the first 7 books and then read them first because you don’t want to ruin the storyline and the ending). It will fill your day with sunshine and happiness.

Ok, so now I actually am done with this week’s post. Apologies for the length! (note: there  will be a bonus post coming sometime this week, so keep your eye out for it!)

Let’s chat! Have you read any of the books on this list? What were your opinions on them? What was your favourite book that you read in May?

Book Review – The Red Badge of Courage

Hello everyone! Happy Saturday! I hope that you’re having a great start to your weekend. Over here in my little corner of the world, we’ve been having a heatwave. So we have been soaking in the sunshine, and sweltering in temperatures up to 26 degrees celsius! To some that may not be very hot, but for England it certainly is!

Anyways, this week’s post is going to be a book review. I read ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ back in February for school, and was very pleasantly surprised by it.

the red badge of courage

First of all, some stats:

Author: Stephen Crane

Published in: 1895

Genre: Historical Fiction

PoV: Third Person – Limited Omniscient (if you have to google that, don’t feel bad because I did too. :D)

Number of Pages: 216 (according to my Puffin Classics version)

Now onto the review!

Have you ever wondered ‘am I brave’? Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were stared by death straight in the face? Would you run? Or would you face it straight on? The struggle between bravery and fear, between standing strong or running like a coward is one that beats in all our hearts. It is one of the questions of our very existence. And it is this inner struggle that permeates the pages of ‘The Red Badge of Courage’

This is a beautifully written book about a young soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War. Delusioned into joining the army by a promise of glory and excitement, all he does now is endlessly march, following the seemingly-pointless directions from the generals that no one sees. The private longs for home and the tussle between bravery and cowardice is strong in his heart. He fearfully wonders what will happen when he finally sees battle. As the book progresses, we follow him into his first battle, and get to witness first-hand the struggle that rages in his heart and around him in the fray. The struggle is dominant, both in the battle and in his heart, and it is one that must be answered. At the end, the fight between bravery and fear will have a winner. But who?

When I stepped into ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ I wasn’t particularly sure what to expect, so I just kept an open mind and read. And I’m actually really glad I read it. It wasn’t the easiest book to read, both because of the subject content (it’s mostly about battle, and battle isn’t exactly nice and pretty) and the writing itself (the poetic quality of it sometimes made it hard to follow, as well as the fact that its written in kind of old language.). But the gorgeous beauty of both the writing and the story made it so I was willing to overlook the times it was hard to read and digest. Really, the writing is superb. It is rich, poetic, and evocative, clearly portraying both the battle scenes, and the soldier’s inner thoughts. It was so beautiful that it, in one sense, made the battles seem less real, but in another sense made it so starkly terrible. I think the juxtaposition of the beautiful writing vs. the gory content made this book very powerful. I certainly came away from it feeling very rich because of the stunning writing I was privileged to read. However I also felt quite emotional because of this picture of the terribleness of war. That saying, it is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

After much thought and consideration, I’ve decided that it’s definitely an 8* book, and probably just about squeaks into a 9* book. So there you have it, I’m going to give it 9* stars out of the generosity of my heart, and recommending it for ages 13+.

*Note for parents: depending on the maturity of your child, you may want to go under or over that age. I’ve said 13+ because of the sometimes-complex/dense writing and the sobering battle content, but I would recommend at least looking at it yourself before you give it to your child so you can judge accurately based on your own personal circumstances.