June TBR

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June is going to be insanely busy for me, so once again I’m not holding my breath about how many books I’ll manage to read. But without further ado, here’s the shortlist of books that I’d like to read this month!

  • A library book
  • Crown of Midnight (Sarah J Maas)
  • An Agatha Christie mystery
  • Heidi

img_0581What are you planning to read in this marvellous month of June?

Love, Emmeline 🙂

may 2017 wrapup

*peeks out nervously* Anyone home?

I know I’ve been away for a month before, but I’ll be honest, this was a crazy month. Stuff happened and things went down and I was busy not reading books as hard as I could.

the stuff that happened.

A family friend passed away. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure how to handle it – it was expected and I’d known about it for months, but somehow, that didn’t help. Being the unemotional bean that I am I still haven’t fully processed it. Now it’s really about keeping going – about loving the people who are left behind.

Because of the above mentioned stuff that happened, I didn’t read a lot. On top of it all, I had about a million assignments due (and still do) and was trying to get through them as much as possible (and still am).

I’m not just saying all of this to excuse myself, by the way. I’m happy with what I’ve read!! I love the books I’ve read this month (mostly ehe) and they are handpicked and were all worth reading. I just want to record what did happen, so in years to come I can look back and go “oh, May 2017. That month. Urgh.”

Without further ado: I read 4 books this month.

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Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë) – 4 // 5

reread: Mao’s Last Dancer (Li Cunxin) – 4 // 5 (review here!)

Salt to the Sea (Rupa Sepetys) – 5 // 5

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Douglas Adams) – 3 // 5

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about the books…

On the whole, reading less books than usual meant that I was able to think about them more. I wish I had liked Wuthering Heights more … but I didn’t. I reread a book that I loved the first time round, and also enjoyed the second time round. I discovered two new books, one of which goes onto my favourite books of 2017.

I’m not sad that I didn’t get to read as much as usual. I am happy that I got to read what I did.

(also Salt to the Sea IS SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD, highly highly highly recommend!!!!)


Instagram

A little quiet from me. I kind of lowkey disappeared towards the end of the month (just like on here ehe whoopsies), and haven’t geared myself up for returning yet. I’d like to. I want to.

Just not yet.

But I took some pretty nice pictures that I’m pretty happy with, so there’s that!


May Highlights

At first I was kind of looking frantically for some highlights, because this month has been a bit of a dodgy one. But it turns out that even in the darkest of times, light can still be found.

  • Getting to see two musicals in one day! (it was a pretty good day 🙂 )
  • Getting sent a delicious hot chocolate by my university, and enjoying it with three marshmallows in my favourite mug. Mmmmhmmmm.
  • Watching The Sound of Music at midnight with a wonderful Best Friend xx
  • Games nights with friends!!
  • Also just downright wonderful support from friends and feeling generally blessed in that way.

img_0581Here’s me kind of hoping that June will be a better month than May was, and crossing my fingers that I passed all my assignments!! Also that my brain will hurry up and catch up with all the situations that are currently happening, because it’s all still very very blurry.

Anyway, how was your May?? What did you read??

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

May 2017 TBR

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Here is a short list of books that I’m planning on reading this month!

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.

Heidi, by Johanna Spyri.

Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J Maas.

One of my Agatha Christie books.



img_0581What are you planning on reading this month?

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

mini April Haul

Okay, have something to explain.

Do you remember how, ages ago, I wrote this post?

I basically promised I wouldn’t buy any books/borrow from the library till either my birthday, or until I’d read all the books in my shelf.

(this post could be renamed ‘me making excuses for myself’, whoop whoop)


So in both my March and April wrapups I admitted that I had borrowed from the library. Honestly I think not borrowing from the library was a silly goal to set myself, because (a) we go there all the time and (b) the library is basically my second home. Me not borrowing from the library is really an unrealistic goal, I’m afraid.

Here’s an overview of my shelves, and how much I’ve read in them:

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This is the main shelf, which holds most of my books. The red dots symbolise any books I haven’t read. As you can see, I’m getting through quite a few, which I’m happy with!

At the moment, there are 17 books on this shelf which I have not yet cracked open. Exciting times!

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This is the shelf which my sister and I have coined the “favourites shelf”. It holds all the favourite/aesthetically pleasing books, and as you can see there are 19 which I have still to read.


So as you can see, while I still have a bit to go, I’m slowly getting through it all. It helps that lots of the books in the shelves are actually my sister’s which I have absolutely no intention of reading.

So now the books I bought …

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Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J Maas.

These were 9 dollars each, and I couldn’t resist picking them up! They were the only books that I bought this month, and (hopefully) the only books I’m planning on buying until after my birthday.

My book buying ban is back in existence. My book borrowing ban is cancelled.


img_0581So essentially I *failed* the book buying ban, and am going to try again. So (hopefully) no more haul posts till my birthday!

What books did you buy this month?

Love, Emmeline 🙂

April 2017 WRAPUP

I’m back with my wrapup, on time for once! This was an interesting month of reading for me – I read nothing for two weeks and then binge read for the last couple of days.

I read 11 books this month.

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The Summer we Saved the Bees (Robin Stevenson) – 3 // 5 review here!

Half a Lifetime (Judith Wright) – no rating review here!

The Water Babies (Charles Kingsley) – 4 // 5 review here!

Mary Barton (Elizabeth Gaskell) – 4 // 5 review here!

reread The Endless Steppe (Esther Hautzig) – 4 // 5

reread The Story of my Life (Helen Keller) – no rating

Roseblood (A.G. Howard) – no rating (DNF’ed at 60%, but it was a long book so I’m still counting it.)

Life in Outer Space (Melissa Keil) – 3 // 5

reread Throne of Glass (Sarah J Maas) – 3 // 5

The Pause (John Larkin) – 4 // 5

The Anatomy of a Misfit (Andrea Portes) – 3 // 5

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about the books…

Only three rereads this month, which is a lot less than usual! I tried to branch out and read five books borrowed from the library. Most of them were a success, except for Roseblood, which I took too long to read and in the end decided that I couldn’t get through.

My favourite book of the month may have to be Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Stunningly written, it portrays life as it was in Victorian England. *slams recommend button*


in other news…

School has well and truly started back, so we’ll see how much I can appear on this blog. Uni is coming into the assignment season, so that’ll be a contributing factor too.

The holidays were wonderful, and far too short! Only eight weeks to go till the next ones *waits impatiently*

That’s really all I have to say. Not a huge amount has been happening. I live a fairly quiet existence.


April highlights

  • sleepovers with dear friends xx
  • HOLIDAYS!!!
  • starting piano teaching again
  • my binge reading session of last weekend 🙂
  • seeing movies with friends and feeling generally blessed!

img_0581What did you do in April?

Keep smiling, and here’s to May!

Emmeline 🙂

The Water Babies – REVIEW TIME

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The Water Babies, by Charles Kingsley. First read 15th April to 17th April 2017.   4 // 5 stars.

I may have missed a couple of days in this little challenge I set myself … (whoops) so it’s now day four and I’m here to review the Water Babies!

When I found the Water Babies for 50 cents at a book sale, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t read it already! So of course I simply had to pick it up. I finally got around to reading it the other day and was enchanted.

The Water Babies is the story of a young chimney sweep who runs away from his cruel master, and is subsequently turned into a ‘water baby’. While it is never fully explained what a water baby actually is, I worked out from the title that it’s a baby who lives in the water?? So I suppose it’s fairly self explanatory.

The writing style in this book was honestly the highlight for me! It was so delightfully old fashioned, which made the entire thing an absolute joy to read.

What I likeeed:

  • The writing style!! So much perfection and a pleasure to read.
  • Some really adorable characters in there.
  • Honestly it was just really fun to read. The prose read like music and I loved it.
  • There were some philosophical parts in there too. I did brush over them a little, not quite being in the mood for philosophy, but hey, they were there.
  • It was soo funny! I can’t remember the last time I found a book this humorous 🙂

What I didn’t like so much:

  • Just like Mary Barton, this book focused a little bit on goodness as a means for salvation. *sighs*
  • There was a little too much ‘moralising’ in places for my liking.
  • It dragged a tad in places.
  • Ummm… that’s it??

Actually, this book reminded me a little of the story of Pinocchio. There’s a good fairy, training Tom (the naughty protagonist) up. Tom has many adventures, and struggles to find other people like him. And at the end, of course, there’s a delightfully happy ending!

My little Goodreads review sums up all of my thoughts on the book:

An endearing book filled with excellent prose! How I wish books were written like this nowadays *sighs*

img_0581Just a short review for today, but I absolutely adored this book as a little break from heavier things. I can’t believe I haven’t read it before!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

Mary Barton – REVIEW TIME

 

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Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Read 19th April to 23rd April 2017.   4 // 5 stars.

This story is about a young woman and her father, two young men, and the poverty and depression that struck Manchester at the time. There’s also a murder, a chilling plot twist, and a lot of deaths. It’s really quite tragic how many characters are dead by the end, most by easily preventable causes.

One of the things I loved about this book was the fact that there weren’t tonnes of characters to keep track of. Often in classics there are many characters and it can be difficult to keep track of them all; this one, however, had just the perfect amount. There really were very few compared to other classics, and the secondary characters were very much kept to a minimum. Except for one instance where there were two Marys in one room, I was never confused!

This book opened my eyes to the extreme poverty that England – and perhaps the world – was facing. While books like Pride and Prejudice are social commentaries on higher classes of the time, this book really gets down to the nitty gritty. An excellent commentary on the lower class of Manchester in the late 1840s.

I couldn’t help comparing this book to Dickens. I mean, both authors portrayed the lower class in England, and both wrote about the struggle between the classes, and the consequences that followed. However, the true difference between the two was that Gaskell’s characters are all very personal. The book felt like Dickens in its representation of the poor, but the characters were much more personal – all the secondary characters had emotions that Dickens never quite captures, at least in my opinion (but that’s a discussion for another day :)). A personal version of Dickens, then.

The main reason that this wasn’t a 5 star book for me was its focus on goodness as a means for salvation. If a character was at the point of death, they would have absolutely no assurance – they would look back on their life and cringe at the sin it had contained. As a Christian, I have assurance in Christ. Unfortunately throughout many of these old novels, characters – rich or poor – simply do not have assurance of their what their existence after death will look like, because they are under the impression that being good gets you to Heaven.

However, this was but a personal thing, and did not stop me enjoying the narrative in the slightest. It was only really afterwards that I stopped to consider the worldview of the novel, and it was then when I picked up this issue.

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A quick list of likes:

  • Stunningly written!
  • Personal, endearing, believable characters!
  • Its focus on the poor with very few wealthy characters – refreshing I felt!
  • Its treatment of death and human suffering, not dehumanising the poor and making grief something that all classes of life feel!
  • Character development that happens slowly so you don’t notice it!
  • The clever combination of social commentary and gripping plot!
  • The absolutely delicious plot twist at the end which I didn’t see coming despite myself!

And some dislikes:

  • The aforementioned misguided beliefs concerning salvation.
  • The first half of the book was rather sloooooow.
  • Sometimes the social commentary arc overshadowed the actual plot. (although by the latter half the plot was in full swing!)

Overall, then, a thought provoking, well written book that I would recommend to nearly everybody! If you can’t do Dickens, for whatever reason, but still want a view of life as it was in the 1840s, then this one is for you.


img_0581Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865 – goodness, she died so tragically young!) also wrote North and South, which I’ve heard many things about but never tried. Given how much I enjoyed this one, I’m definitely adding her to my list!

Have you read this book, or any others by this author? I’d love to know!

Love, Emmeline 🙂

Half a Lifetime – REVIEW TIME

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Half a Lifetime, by Judith Wright. First read 15th April to 17th April 2017.  No rating.

I’m aiming to (a) review a book every day this week (this being day two) and (b) review every book I read this month! Today’s issue – Half a Lifetime, by Judith Wright.

I had to read this book in preparation for my speech exam, and found it particularly interesting. It opened my eyes to some elements of Judith’s life that I didn’t know/hadn’t thought about before.

It’s always difficult writing reviews on autobiographies, I find. This is because I can’t critique the plot without critiquing a life. This story in particular was exceptionally personal, making my job even more difficult. Perhaps autobiographies aren’t meant to be critiqued, but rather to be pondered on!

Half a Lifetime is the story of one of Australia’s best known poets, Judith Wright. It shows her childhood, her life as a young adult before, after, and during the War, and explores her relationship with the philosopher Jack McKinney.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this book was its friendly mixture of storytelling and philosophy. Judith showed the way that her philosophy and worldview was created, and even in the beginning stages of her life she showed how that time influenced her beliefs later in life. I suppose it goes to show that even the earliest events in our life affect our mind and consequently our worldview. For Judith Wright, these events were the mistreatment of the Aboriginal people who worked for her family. It was the illness of her mother which meant she was largely left to herself, free to roam the bush and be told off for being ‘unladylike’ by her family. All of these experiences led Judith Wright to be a campaigner for Aboriginal land rights in later years, spurred on by her personal witness of prejudice.

It’s interesting to me that Judith travelled Europe several years before the outbreak of WWII, and saw what was coming. However, when trying to warn those back home in Australia of the clear future, she was ignored or laughed at. Wrapped in our comfortable bubbles of the things we know (or think we know), we don’t like to peek outside and have a look outside at the things we may not know about, at the future which we fervently ignore. Given the current unrest in the world today, it’s interesting to ponder the fact that even today we refuse to see two steps in front of us.

Yet another thing that fascinated me was how Judith knew very early on that she wanted to be a poet. She was sure of this fact. So when it came time for school, she did wonderfully in English, and not-so-good at maths. She wanted to go to Uni, so she studied several different units in literature and history, rather than a whole degree.

This book was very thought provoking and very personal. The writing style is written in Judith Wright’s unique way; there are commas where there shouldn’t be and none where there should, as well as plenty of run-on sentences. It also has large gaps and silences in places, particularly her university years. Sometimes it jumps ahead a few years, or back, but not enough to make it too confusing. However, all this serves to make it feel more like an intimate conversation than a book!

Would I recommend this book? I’m really not sure. I haven’t really touched on Judith’s worldview, which is a whole topic on itself. I suppose I would suggest reading it if you’re interested in her poetry and what influenced it. It’s certainly an interesting look into one remarkable poet’s mind!


img_0581I am a fan of Judith’s poetry, and so reading this book really was an insight into her whole world. I struggle reading her prose because of the sentence structure, but this book was so personal that I barely noticed the grammar.

Have you read any of her poetry? I’d highly recommend it!

Love, Emmeline 🙂

The Summer We Saved the Bees – REVIEW TIME

SummerWeSavedTheBeescovThe Summer We Saved the Bees, by Robin Stevenson. Read April 11th,    3 // 5 stars.

I read this book for the first time just the other day. We had to be at the library for an hour, so I picked up a book that looked doable (not too long, not too short) and read it!

In this book, Wolf has to go with his family (two twin girls, a grumpy stepsister and her boyfriend, a mother, and a stepfather) around the country to promote the idea that the bees are dying – and that the end of the world is coming. His sister is sick, and he doesn’t want to go.

This is yet another case of me picking up a book in the YA section of the library, and it turning out to be Middle Grade. I didn’t mind though – it was a nice little story that shows how to live in a frankly quite confusing world.

There was something that I particularly liked about this book, which was the overall theme of ‘it is what it is’. Given the premise of the book, ‘save the world at all costs’, this was a nice little surprise that is a lot closer to what I personally agree with, though still (of course) not all the way there.

Additionally, the ending was bittersweet – my favourite type of ending. Reconciliation combined with realism makes for a good book, I feel.

While I never really got into the book enough to really feel on the edge of my seat (more my setting’s fault than the books’), there were certainly some “WHYYYYY are some people so annoying!” moments.

The story arc with the younger sister’s anxiety was good, I felt – it had mental illness representation in younger children, which I feel doesn’t happen enough. However, I am not knowledgeable enough to be able to judge whether or not the representation was realistic or not. I feel like it was … maybe … not really sure … Glad it was there at least, though!

There were some gripes that I did have with the book, however:

  • The characters were a little flat. I found myself wishing that the description focused more on the characters than the setting.
  • (okay this is slightly embarrassing but) It took me a quarter of the book to discover that (a) the main character was a boy, and (b) he was just twelve. I thought he was a she and also at least 16. Either I wasn’t paying attention oooorrrrr…..
  • The description felt very forced in places.
  • There were some odd things and inconsistencies??? In places it didn’t quite feel like they were actually a vegan all-organic family. As someone who knows many people who are actually vegan and all-organic, the inconsistencies were highly obvious to me.

But apart from these issues it was a fun little read that really picked me up for that hour at the library!


img_0581Have you read this book? What do you think of it????

Love, Emmeline 🙂

how to read scarily thick books

 

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You know when there’s a book that you really want to read, but it’s just so intimidating?? Maybe it’s really really long, or is written in a really thick style? Well, I’m here to share some tricks and tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

step one

Take a good long look at the book and tell yourself you can do it! Because you can.

And remember to keep reminding yourself that you can! If you tell yourself you can’t get through it, you’re training your brain to tell yourself that you can’t. Train your brain that you can and soon you’ll find that you have! Read the book! Clearly my rhyming skills are nonexistent right now!

step two

open the book. Sniff it. Get acquainted with it. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with it, so get used to the book itself.

step three

Set yourself a goal. Given how fast you usually read, how much time you have on your hands, and how long the actual thing is, make a goal for a time that you want to have read it by.

When I read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy last year, I aimed to finish it in two weeks. (fifty pages a day – pffffft totally achievable)

It actually took me … 17 days I think?? BuT because the goal I set for myself was so short and impossible, I was really happy with how I did! I know that if I didn’t have a goal, it would have taken farrrrrr longer to read.

ALSOOOOO … this is about knowing how you work! If you know that you won’t read the book if you set yourself a goal, then don’t set one!! Only set yourself a goal if you think it’ll work! Cannot stress this enough.

step four

Get comfortable! This includes a cup of tea or coffee or vegemite or whatever it is you like to drink, and a cozy little corner to read in. Or maybe it includes a hard little seat on a train on the way home from work or school.

Wherever it is, you need to set apart a time and place to read. Make habits!! Habits are great!

step five

read.

and read.

and read some more.

Basically, you just have to read. There’s no skipping this step. Set apart a little time a day to read it. You’ll get through it. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your progress as you inch your way through an ‘impossible’ book.


img_0581Just keep reading, just keep reading, just keep reading reading reading!! – as Dory would say 🙂

How do you motivate yourself to read long books?

love,

Emmeline 🙂