March 2017 WRAPUP

What a busy month I’ve had! Full of school assignments, dramas and general busyness. That said, I did get little inbetween moments to read some delightful books!

I read 16 books this month.

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The Gipsy Queen (Emma Leslie) – 4 // 5

Reread: Walk in My Shoes (Alwyn Evans) – 4 // 5

The Enchanted Castle (E. Nesbit) – 3 // 5

The Time Machine (H. G. Wells) – 3 // 5

The Elite (Kiera Cass) – 2 // 5

The Selection (Kiera Cass) – 3 // 5

The One (Kiera Cass) – 2 // 5

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Nothing in my Hand I Bring (Ray Galea) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did at School (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did Next (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: Mary Poppins (P. L. Travers) – 4 // 5

Reread: Clover (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Beastkeeper (Cat Hellisen) – 4 // 5

In the High Valley (Susan Coolidge) – 4 // 5

Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell) – 3 // 5


about the books…

Sometimes it annoys me how many books I reread each month – but at the same time, I do love revisiting old friends that I’ve known for years and years! The What Katy Did series is like that for me. I’ve reread it countless times and haven’t had enough yet.

I finally got around to the Selection series – and let’s just say that I’ll be stopping after the third book. It wasn’t really my kind of series. I disliked the writing style, and honestly, when that happens I automatically greatly dislike the book. Unfortunately this happened with The Selection series. That said, I understand if you like it! It certainly has its good points, and there’s no doubt that it’s a page turner 😉


in other news…

I’ve been rolling along semi-steadily this month. A lot of personal stuff has happened but I’m trying not to let it get to me??? At least not if it doesn’t have to. Sometimes I worry about the fact that I don’t stress over dramas a lot, but at the same time I’m just too lazy to stress. It’s just too much work.

Uni is happening. That’s all I have to say on that. Also, IT’S FINALLY THE HOLIDAYS. That means no more school/math!!! *throws confetti in celebration*

I’m currently trying to put all of the books we own into a database. I’m just using googledocs, because I’m too poor to buy an actual program. It’s working well so far. I’ve been told that we (as a family) should open a library! A far off dream – (but I’m starting by making a database, sssshhh).

I started up my bookstagram account again! I went on an unannounced hiatus because of busy school and no motivation to take photos. But I’m back!!!


march highlights ….

  • Starting to read again!
  • It’s the holidays, aayyyyyy
  • long chats with best friends and remembering how blessed I am to have them xx
  • scavenger hunts in shopping centres with fellow buddies 🙂
  • taking photos for bookstagram again!!
  • not dying/getting flooded from cyclones and intense rain

img_0581What did you do in March?

keep smiling,

— em 🙂

As We Sweep Through the Deep – REVIEW TIME

downloadAs We Sweep Through the Deep, by Gordon Stables.
Read February 15th,      3 // 5 stars.

I’ve been swamped under with school/uni work for the past week, but I thought I’d take a moment out from assignments and study to write a little review on this rollicking book!

This book is the height of swashbucklers. It surrounds two families, one of which has a mortgage on their old mansion, and the other of which has control of the mortgage. There is a see travelling young man, a feisty sister, a loving love interest, and kind friends.

There were many things that I enjoyed about this book! Namely:

  • The sweetness and innocence of the romance
  • Sea battles and (hopefully) accurate historical content
  • Sweet sisters with sweet characters
  • Friends that stick up for you
  • The gorgeous writing style!!!

That said, there were some iffy things with this book. The book had a clear plot from the beginning – BUT WHERE DID IT GO?? I was sooo confused in the middle of the book because the plot had packed up and left. It barely returned for a little wrap at the end.

So what did it do instead of follow the plot? Well, it…..

  • Took us through numerous sea battles
  • PIRATES
  • Death (seriously though, so many soldiers died and I was sooo surprised at the death toll)
  • There was a scene where smugglers were captured
  • Basically ships.
  • And sea fighting.
  • So … it’s essentially England vs France on the water.
  • England wins!!

(and now we return for the finale where everyone and everything ends up happy!)

I hope that wasn’t too spoiler-ly for you, but to be perfectly honest, there isn’t much to spoil. As I said, this book seemed far more interested in taking us through sea battles than following through with the plot that it had promised from the beginning. The reason I ended up rating it so high was because I enjoyed the reading experience so much! The writing was delightful and the characters were delightful and even the sea battles were delightful. Just the lack of a consistent plot irritated me.

img_0581My ancient hardcover edition of this book was found for one dollar at a second hand book sale. You can read a free eBook at Project Gutenberg here!

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

February 2017 WRAPUP

I’m late – dear me I’m late – but I’m finally getting round to my wrapup for last month!

I read 8 books this month.

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Reread: Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Caroll) –  4 // 5

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell) –  4 // 5

Reread: The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater) –  4 // 5

As We Sweep Through the Deep (Gordon Staples) –  3 // 5

Words in Deep Blue (Cath Crowley) –  4 // 5

No Matter When (Karen Kingsbury) –  1 // 5

1984 (George Orwell) –  4 // 5

Reread: They Came on Viking Ships (Jackie French) –  3 // 5

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I am actually happy with my reading this month. I’ve been ridiculously busy and had barely any time to read, so I’m happy with the books I did finish.

What did you read in February?

love,

Emmeline 🙂

what is a good book? – chit chat 1

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Here I am, starting a new blog series, chit chats! I’m hoping to number them so as to keep track.

This particular post is all about how I personally rate books – what I think a good book should contain. And if you think about it, books are so objective! Someone will love a book, and someone else will hate it. It purely depends on the reader.

So then we have to wonder, are there actually any bad books?? How do we know if a book is actually good?

I personally believe that yes, there are bad books, and yes, there are many of them. It’s taken years of thought to come to this conclusion, but if we don’t have bad books, then we can’t have good books, and so all our rants on how good our favourite books are are then deemed pointless.

What I think makes a book bad.

  • poor writing. There is a bad use of description, either too much or too little. The dialogue is poorly handled; too much, too little, too descriptive, not natural, not enough context. Weak verbs are used, such as ‘grabbed’, when something more specific would suffice (though I am a fan of ‘said’). Too many adverbs. Sentences that are too short; sentences that are too long. When the writing does not have a good poetic flow.

 

  • when the characters are one dimensional. Characters that are stereotypes. Characters that are predictable. Characters with no personality. Characters that don’t change throughout the story. Characters that are simply words on a page, not springing to life at any point.
    • (note) sometimes it’s okay to have supporting characters that are one dimensional, depending on the book and the style. However, the main characters should always be 3D.

 

  • when the plot is all over the place (or nowhere to be found). While books do not necessarily have to be tightly plotted, it is important to have some sort of problem, that then has some sort of resolution.
    • (note) sometimes books don’t have much of a resolution, and often that is okay. But I think that as long as the problem is dealt with in some way, then it’s fine.

 

  • when the story endorses immorality. When main characters rape each other, and the plot doesn’t tell it’s bad in some subtle way (to use an extreme example). When people swear and slap each other and the plot tells them it’s fine.
    • (note 1) it’s a whole new topic when you start thinking about what IS scriptural morality and why are some Christians okay with things in books while others aren’t! That’s a topic for another time, though I think that the endorsement of basic immorality (lying, stealing, murdering, etc.) really degrades the book’s quality.
    • (note 2) I personally think that it is okay for the main character of a book to be a murderer (for example), as long as there is some sort of resolution that includes the consequences of murder. However, this should not be done in a predictable, ‘murdering is bad’ happy ending, where all is forgiven. Does that make sense? The ending of this particular story should be realistic, and poignant, and thoughtful.

 

Those are just some scattered thoughts, but I think that it’s certainly interesting to think about. This topic has been debated for centuries, but it’s something that I’m very interested in.

Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Chit chat with me down below!

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

1984 – REVIEW TIME

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1984 by George Orwell
Read 27th February 2017.     4 // 5 stars.

I’ve been gone for a little, studying and assignment-ing away. However, I took a little break to record my thoughts on this stunning book, one that I’d been wanting to read for a very long time.

This book is a stunning commentary on humanity. I read it in one sitting, and I’m still slightly in awe of its power??? I was quite honestly glued to the page.

My favourite thing about this book was undoubtedly the fact that it makes one think – about the human condition. It presents a very negative view on humanity. Thankfully, as a Christian I know that should I be put in the same situations as Winston was, I would stand my ground. However it was still good to read this book and see life from another’s point of view.

This book is powerful. It made me question my own reality. For a moment there I caught myself wondering if, after all, we would be a stronger society without love. It is a question that Lauren Oliver tried to answer in her Delerium series, and one that many others have also tried to answer. 1984 says that we would be. We would be stronger. We would be completely united as one. Our only loyalty would be to the Government. While (of course) I disagree with this view of humanity, I do agree that we would be stronger.

I suppose as humans we have to decide between retaining our individuality, and being strong as a society. I choose retaining our individuality. But, if a group of people (such as there are, in the world today) were to choose the latter, it would require uniting together to oppose with them. In the end, then, life goes on. And we go on with it.

If it weren’t for the fact that I believe in a God who is greater than the human condition, I would be quite discouraged by this book. But in some sense it was just reaffirming what I already believed; that humanity is messed up.

So those are just a few of the scattered thoughts that I had whilst reading this great book. There were a couple of things that brought the rating down from five to four stars; namely the emphasis on sexual pleasure. Maybe I just can’t relate to this, but it did seem to me a little unnecessary that there was such a large emphasis placed on it.

img_0581Additionally, I think that this book is not really meant to be read as a story. I think that the author intended us to think when we read it, to discuss it, to ponder it and the themes it presents.

Have you read this book?

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

Fangirl – REVIEW TIME

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. 
Read February 4 – 6 2017.     3.5 // 5 stars.

I fangirled over this book. Yet, I didn’t obsess to the level that I was expecting myself to. I surprised myself by reading it and thinking – I feel a little let down? I had ridiculously high expectations for this book and I feel like not all of them were answered.

What I liked.

  • It contained Fanfiction!! I mean, when you think about the high amounts of fanfiction on the web, it’s a bit ridiculous that most books ignore its existence!! As someone who’s read and written (sssshhhh) a lot of fic, I resonated strongly with Cath’s joys and frustrations.
  • The relationship that the book was centred around was quite adorable. I squealed a lot. Also, thanks to Cath’s nature, there wasn’t much more than kissing, for which I was very thankful for.
  • The characters were all well-developed and not wooden. They were all different, which = good book.
  • It was a very realistic book. (more on this later!)
  • It literally had so much nerd culture that my heart was rendered incredibly happy! The fanfiction, the fangirling, the midnight book releases – perfection.

what i didn’t like.

  • The book had some things missing. This is perhaps a little hard to explain, but the ending wasn’t resolved to a place that I’d like it to be. There were some scenes that could have been taken places, but weren’t, and therefore seemed rather unnecessary. The ending bugged me.

(and that was about it!)

There is one more thing I’d like to mention. Rainbow Rowell’s writing style is centred around realism. She writes in the real world – there isn’t always a happy ever after. The ending isn’t always fully resolved. It’s a very different writing style, and it does take a lot of getting used to.

I’ve heard someone say that you either like her books, or you don’t.

I personally enjoy her work. I think it’s different, and refreshing. I think that people go into her work not realising that it will be different, and that’s where the crux occurs. This was -slightly- me in Fangirl.

I kinda forgot it was written by the same author as Eleanor and Park???

Anyway, I went into it thinking that maybe there’d be a fully satisfying happy ending, and while it may have been happy it didn’t fully satisfy me. There were parts that I would have appreciated the inclusion of. There were some scenes that I don’t think were necessary, despite it being realistic. I thought that the book was too long.


img_0581And, in the end, I am not a romance reader – I’m a sword buckler, classics, fantasy world reader. And so I think that this book did quite well to entice me as much as it did! It’s certainly well written, and the writing was stunning.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

HOW TO TELL YOU HAVE A READING SLUMP + reading updates

I figured I hadn’t done some reading updates in a while, and then realised I’ve read less books than I usually would. AHH WELL, said I, LET’S DO IT ANYWAY.

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Have you ever wanted to know if you have a reading slump? Well, here’s a simple formula.

BOOKS YOU’VE READ SO FAR THIS MONTH
__________________________________________

AVERAGE BOOKS YOU READ THE LAST FEW MONTHS

In other words, divide the books you’ve read by the books you read last month. If your top number is very low compared to the rest, chances are you’ve either been really busy, or you’ve got a reading slump on your hands!

I decided to test this formula on myself, and it confirmed a sneaking suspicion I’ve had for a while.

Jan – 12

Dec – 19

Nov – 11

Oct – 17

Add the above together, and we get 59.

Now we divide 59 by four, and we get 14.75. (BUT LET’S ROUND IT UP TO 15 BECAUSE MATH.)

So my average book reading count over the last four months is fifteen books. NOW LET’S USE MY FORMULA.

3 (books I’ve read)
________________________
15 (average books read)

… well that’s wonderful isn’t it.

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So if you didn’t get any of that (BECAUSE WHO NEEDS MATH TO READ) it means that I’m a third into the month, and I haven’t read anywhere near my usual amount. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a reading slump, but those three books I did read were a struggle. I really had to force myself through them.

And that’s not how I like to read!

Anyway, what were those three books?

// Books I’ve Read So Far This Month //

The Loaded Dog (Henry Lawson) – 3 // 5.    I enjoyed this short story. It was well plotted and the characters were all well written in the short space that they were allowed! I didn’t like the racism and sexism that crept in, but obviously it’s over a hundred years old so unfortunately that’s what we have to expect. How I wish it wasn’t so!

Alice in Wonderland  (Lewis Carroll) – 4 // 5.    I’ve always loved Alice in Wonderland. A couple of years ago I got to play Alice in a drama performance. This just grew my love of this book, and when I got a new edition the other day, I knew I had to reread it! The book itself is extremely crazy and random, and I have to say I didn’t enjoy it as much as I used to. I think that it was because the plot felt a little less tight than some other books I’ve been reading lately? Obviously that’s just part of the nature of the book, but it did take away a little of the magic of the story for me.

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell) – 4 // 5.     This book was incredibly enjoyable (I fangirled every few pages), and yet I still felt a little bit let down? I think it was because I didn’t like the ending, nor some of the themes present. I know that it’s all part of the author’s writing style, but I did feel that the end was very anticlimactic. Particularly with the whole Nick storyline. Anyway, if you’ve read the book you may know what I mean. I greatly enjoyed it, but I didn’t think it was brilliant.

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I do have a few reasons for this mini reading slump that I am currently experiencing.

A) I’ve been super busy lately, and struggle to find time to read. YEAR ELEVEN, MAN.

B) The internet is distracting?? I just get distracted really easily, okay, and I know this isn’t a proper excuse.

C) My life has changed a lot lately, and I kinda use my spare time to process and cope and get my brain going again. Which is a good thing, I think.

SOOOOO I’m not too sad that I haven’t been able to read properly for a while. Because sometimes I just need to make sure that I’m okay first?? I think I’ll dedicate the rest of this month to working myself out and getting properly mentally prepared for the rest of 2017.

(is it just me or where did January go???? Like seriously.)


img_0581So how are you guys? Do you have any recommendations for getting out of a reading slump?????? Cause I may desperately need your help soon, if this gets any worse. I don’t want to pressure myself but I do miss reading.

Love,

Emmeline 🙂

MY SIX MONTH BOOK BUYING BAN! (rip me)

So I decided to go on a book buying/borrowing ban, until either my birthday in August or until I’ve read all the unread books in my bookshelf.

I think this is a suitable time to shout HELP into the void.

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In some ways this was a random, impromptu decision, but in others it was well thought out and considered. I’ve known for ages that the ratio of unread books in my shelf was growing steady larger, and I knew that I would have to do something about it. THEN when I went out and bought 40+ books from a second hand sale, I knew that my TBR was really getting out of hand.

So here’s a short list of WHY I’M DOING THIS.

  1. the unread books in my shelf will squash me if I don’t.
  2. there are lots of books that I may never get round to reading unless I make myself, because libraries are distractions.
  3. I really want to read above mentioned books.
  4. my broke self can’t afford to keep up with my book-buying habit.
  5. please see number one.

My life right now is filled with regret every single time I glance at my shelf, upon which I have placed a pile of read library books in front of the unread books on my shelf.

So here’s what I’m banning myself from.

  1. libraries.
  2. bookshops.
  3. secondhand sales.
  4. borrowing from friends.

FOR……

  • six months, i.e. until my birthday because hopefully I’ll get new books.

OR….

  • until I’ve read all the unread books in my bookshelf.

Surely that won’t be that hard? Surely. *future me cries in the distance*

At the present time, I have three library books that I am planning on reading (I borrowed them before deciding on this whole ban thing) before officially starting my ban. They are the three books in the Raven Boys series, and when I saw all three of them on the library shelf next to each other in order my heart broke and I simply had to borrow them. I’ve only read the first one and can’t wait to try the rest!

SO that’s that! Six months of no buying or borrowing.

BUT WAIT.

I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE MADE TWO EXCEPTIONS.

(woops)

My Exceptions, Or the Two Books I Plan On Buying Despite My Ban:

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin, by Sarah J Maas. It comes out May 2nd and I’m sorry but I’m not waiting until my birthday to read it.
  • Berin and Luthien, by JRR Tolkien. It comes out May 4th and I’ve been looking forward to it for a very very long time! The book was edited and put together by Tolkien’s son, and I’m extremely excited to read it. MORE TOLKIEN GIMME PLEASE.

BUT APART FROM THOSE TWO I am not planning on buying any more books!



img_0581Fingers crossed that I’ll make it through the six months! I think the hardest thing will be no library visits, as I love my library. But no. I will last. I will prevail.

Have you ever done a book ban?

From a determined bookdragon,

–Emmeline 🙂

January 2017 WRAPUP

I read twelve books this month.

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Once (by six awesome authors) – 5 // 5

The Star-Touched Queen (Roshani Chokshi) – 2 // 5

A Court of Thorns and Roses ( Sarah J Maas) – 4 // 5

Reread: To Love a Sunburnt Country (Jackie French) – 4 // 5

Reread: The Ghost by the Billabong (Jackie French) – 3 // 5

If Blood Should Stain the Wattle (Jackie French) – 4 // 5

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Reread: The Adventures of Milly Molly Mandy (Joyce Lankaster Brisley) – 5 // 5

Reread: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (JK Rowling) – 5 // 5

Reread: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling) – 5 // 5

Reread: We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea! (Arthur Ransome) – 4 // 5

Whisper To Me (Nick Lake) – 3 // 5

The Loaded Dog (Henry Lawson) – 3 // 5

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I really feel like I have a reading slump coming on. You know that feeling? I actually felt like that at the beginning of the month, but I stubbornly pushed through. I think it’s because I read so much in December. Now I feel like I’m tired of reading before I’ve even started.

img_0581Does anyone have any good tips to survive a reading slump?

Keep smiling,

–Emmeline 🙂

A Waltz for Matilda: Jackie French REVIEW TIME

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A Waltz For Matilda by Jackie French. Number 1 in the Matilda saga.
Read December 26th 2016.      5 // 5 stars.

Jackie French held the place of my favourite author for a very long time, perhaps the longest out of anyone. An Australian writer, she mainly writes Historical fiction and emphasises the imagery and glory of Australia throughout all her books. I think that if you weren’t Australian you would think this country an absolute paradise from her books, but they did a lot for me by crafting an appreciation for this great land, that I still have and will  (hopefully) never lose.

A Waltz For Matilda, the first in the Matilda saga, is a slow book packed with imagery and drought and the realness of humanity in the face of despair. Matilda, a girl from the slums, leaves to find her father in the ‘middle of nowhere’. The book itself spans from when she was twelve to thirty three, and is gloriously full of everything needed for a good hearty Australian story – a farm and sheep and sun and rain and historical accuracy and forbidden love and kangaroos.

I’ve read this book … five (? something like that) times now, and though I do have a few nitpicks, on the whole it has never failed to make me smile, and appreciate this lovely brown-and-green land that I live in.

what i liked.

  • Forgiveness. It plays a huge part in this book and it’s not something that pops up often in this age of paybacks. As such, I appreciated its presence and was awed at its power. It made the book for me, I think.
  • Matilda. She is stubborn and awesome, just like this land. And can I just say that I love her obsession with sheep? Because I do.
  • Its historical value. I remember reading this for the first time when I was twelve, and I was so intrigued by it that I went and researched the late nineteenth century! That’s the best type of book; books that subtly encourage you to learn.
  • It’s pretty much an all-ages book. There are themes in there that will only be picked up by an older audience, but I am quite sure that a ten year old could read this book and enjoy it!
  • The parts where annoying characters got told off by gruff old men. It’s hilarious, I’m telling you now.

what i didn’t like.

  • The realism of a thirteen year old running a farm. I know she had loving people to help her, but it was just a leetle hard to believe. I only noticed it on this read through, however.
  • Matilda’s character was hard to discern. This is something that runs through all of Jackie French’s writing, I think – it can sometimes be hard to find the traits of a specific character, to make him/her different from the rest. By the end of the book I understood her more, but there were parts where she felt a little like cardboard – a standard character, but nothing more. HOWEVER this may just be me – knowing my reading style, I could have brushed over the most important paragraph of the book and missed a huge plot development!

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All in all, then, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book and one that I highly recommend to anyone, of any age!

Have you read this book?

Keep smiling,

–Emmeline 🙂