Top 2 Books – September 2017

Hi everyone! Today I’m back with a slightly-shorter-than-normal review of my favourite books of the month. I read quite a few books in September, but alas my time is running out today, so 2 is all I have time for right now. 😀

 

Yancey-Bible-Jesus-Read

 

This was (again) a book I read as part of my school work this year, and (again :D) I was very pleasantly surprised by it! Yancy takes the reader on a journey as he delves into the Old Testament – shedding light on the Bible that Jesus would’ve read. The Old Testament is the prequel to the story of Jesus, but so often Christians are put off by the sheer size of it, the dense prophecies, or the depressing stories. But Yancy takes the Old Testament and shines a light on the beauty hidden behind those initial barriers. Writing a chapter each on Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Deuteronomy, and the Prophets, he gives clarity to the story that each book holds.

The thing that I found so captivating about this book is the way that he points out how each book is part of a greater narrative, and how each story is woven into The Story. The Story of the world, and how Jesus has come to save it. This book wasn’t exactly light reading, as it had a lot of historical/theological information in it to process. But Yancy writes in a very clear, compelling and captivating way, and I didn’t find this book hard to get through at all. If you struggle with the Old Testament at all, or are just wanting to learn more about the backgrounds and meanings behind the OT books, then this book is for you! I’m giving this book a solid 9* out of 10, and recommending it for ages 14+.

 

beowulf

Three massive battles with monsters and dragons featuring feats of intense bravery and fortitude – it doesn’t get much better than that. 😀 Throw in that this book was written over 1000 years ago, but is still readable and interesting to a modern reader, and bam, you’ve got a rather interesting book on your hands. Now lest you think that I am an incredible nerd for picking up a 1000+ year old book and actually liking it, let me shed some light onto the situation. You see, I’m only a slight nerd, because I choose to take classes like ‘Middle Ages Literature’ and then actually enjoy the books that I read in that class. 😀 So yes, this is, yet again, another school book. But I enjoyed it so much I figured I’d spotlight it on here. After all, it’s not every month I read an ancient, poetical story full of monsters and daring deeds. 😛

Anyways, where was I…? Oh yes, talking about Beowulf. So yeah, it’s basically what I’ve already said – a really long poem about a guy that fights a monster, then the monster’s mother, and then a dragon. Which in itself doesn’t exactly sound thrilling. But it is! The writing is incredibly beautiful. Seriously, I wish that I could write some of the things that the author of Beowulf comes out with. The history behind it is fascinating. I’ve been learning about it in my class, and finding out so much history behind the story! Learning the history behind all the rituals detailed in the poem, the Scandinavian culture within which it was composed, and how it survived seemingly a million and two fires and finally got translated into English – it’s all so fascinating! Of course, I am a history nerd, so that might bias me a little bit. 😀

And yes, because it was written such a long time ago, the language is hard to follow. The story itself is interesting, but the rabbit trails and side-notes that the author takes are often confusing and slightly tedious. But apart from that, it’s a masterpiece! I’d really recommend going out of your comfort zone, and if not reading this book, then reading something else that you normally wouldn’t read. Because, as I found out when I read Beowulf, sometimes it’s good to stretch yourself out of your normal habits, because you can learn and grow and find gems of literature along the way! I’ve giving Beowulf 8* out of 10, and recommending it to anyone that is brave enough to take the challenge. (but probably 13+ :D)

That’s all for this week! Please feel free to share some of your favourite books you read in the past month. I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

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Top 3 Books – August 2017

Wow, can you believe it’s already September? Summer is over and done, and I’m sad about that… 😦 Summer is my favourite time of the year, and if I could I would make it doubly longer! 😀 Alas, I do not possess that power. Let me know if you know of any special trick to stop time from going so fast, I’d like to know about it. 😛

So school has started back up for pretty much everybody school aged by now. I’m going into my Junior year (of high school, for all my American readers) / Year 12 (first year of Sixth Form for all my English readers). It’s kind of scary how old I am now! 😀 And seeing how fast time has gone by recently, it seems very probable that before I know it, I’ll be graduated and done and dusted with school. Yikes! :O

To distract from that scary thought, let me tell you about my top three books that I read in August. There were some good ones!!

 

the westing game

The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin

Sam Westing is dead. He left behind a will. Which is actually a game. A game with the objective of finding out who killed him. He has chosen a random, yet very specific group of 16 people to play this game. And the wild card? One of those 16 people is the murderer. Does it sound interesting? It’s even better than it sounds. 

Seriously, this book is waaaaayyy better than it sounds. And it sounds pretty interesting to begin with! This mystery is incredibly well written – the characters are fresh, believable and unique, and the story line… well it’s SO good. Seriously, Ms. Raskin must be half-genius to come up with the plot line and the crazy twists. And the ending – man it comes out of nowhere and is so clever!! I don’t feel like anything I say can give a true idea of how cool this book is, so my advice to you is – go read it! 😀 This is a solid, most-definite 10* read. (and I’m recommending for about ages 12+)

 

Gods-and-Kings-Lynn-Austin

Gods and Kings – Lynn Austin 

A nation with their backs to God. A King bending to the mighty Assyrians’ dominion. A priest haunted by the deaths he has caused. A Prince angry and bitter against his Father. And a God who refuses to leave them alone. 

Looking back in the archives of my blog, I can’t believe that I haven’t mentioned Lynn Austin before! Apart from L.M. Montgomery, she is my favourite author. She writes historical fiction – some of the best I have ever come across. I’ve read most of her historical fiction, but I have never ventured into her Biblical historical fiction before. Until this month. And as always, she did not disappoint! She tells the story of King Hezekiah’s childhood in godless Jerusalem before he ascended the throne. Surrounded by idol worshipers, with the mighty Assyrian empire breathing down his country’s back,  Hezekiah’s story is one of great tension, but also of great redemption. God is after his people, and he won’t stop at anything until he gets their attention and brings them back to him. He might even us a prophet or two… maybe one called Isaiah? It is very evident that Ms. Austin has done immense amounts of research into every aspect of his historical time period in order to make this story accurate and compelling. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and my only complaint is that it finished and now I have to get my hands on #2 in the series. 😀 I’m giving ‘Gods and Kings’ 9* out of 10 and recommending for ages 14+

 

God's smuggler

God’s Smuggler – Brother Andrew 

God has the power to make seeing eyes blind. Especially when his Word at stake. 

God is a God of miracles. It says so in the Bible, but sometimes it’s hard to believe. But after reading this book, I was struck again by God’s power and sovereignty. This is the story of one young man that had a dream to see Bibles taken behind the Iron curtain. This also the story of how God made that dream come true. There is really no other word to describe the many narrow escapes, perfectly timed meetings, and anonymous monetary gifts that are chronicled in this book other than ‘miraculous’. God’s hand of guidance was so clearly outlined in this story. I came away from the book in awe at how God worked in order to get his Word into the hands of persecuted Christians, and encouraged by the fact that he is still doing that today! I’m giving it 9* out of 10, and recommending it for ages 14+. (due to some explicit scenes)

That’s it for this week! Hope you enjoyed the monthly review of my favourite books.

Lets chat! Have you read any on this list? How’s back to school going for you?

 

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.