Book Review: Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

One of my favourite books ever.

TL;DR – A wonderful, beautiful story about family, sibling rivalry and love.

EBBannerRagdoll Rating: EXCEPTIONAL

Recommended For: Anybody who wants a beautiful story and isn’t put off by a bit of confusion.

About the Book…

Life is pretty good for Kun, until his sister Mirai is born. Suddenly his parents seem irritable, and have less time to spend with him, and poor Kun struggles to adapt to his new reality. He hates his new sister, he hates his parents and he hates his new life. Kun’s world has been turned upside down in an instant. But after an impossible encounter with a future version of his new little sister, Kun is thrown into an even more impossible journey and nothing will ever be the same.

What I thought…

Let it be known by one and all that I want to kiss Mamoru Hosoda and his beautiful mind. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this strange little book is one of the best I have ever read.

I don’t know what it is about this book. Perhaps it’s got something to do with being the eldest of four children, perhaps it has something to do with my own internalised difficulties with perceived rejection and change, perhaps it’s something else, but this book reached out and touched my very soul (an impressive feat considering I don’t believe in the soul!). Kun is such a relatable and believable character. He is flawed, what child is perfect, but everything he does, from his initial negative, even violent reactions over the arrival of his new sister, to the results of his dream-like journey…I just felt it, deep down inside me, that I knew exactly how he felt, and how he was hurting.

Kun is a lost boy, trapped in a scary world of conflicting emotions and change and that hits me where I live. Seeing his journey, meeting members of his family and learning from them, and then losing himself completely and almost irretrievably was heart breaking, and completely poetically beautiful. I refuse to tell you much about the ending, all I can say is that if I hadn’t been convinced by the story up until that point (which I absolutely was) the final few chapters would have swung it.

My only critique about this book is that the dream-like encounters come out of nowhere. You’re reading a slice-of-life story, and all of a sudden things get weird and sci-fi. I still have no idea what was going on, and a little bit of me wants an explanation, but a much, MUCH bigger part of me doesn’t care. Just be aware of it, and if it bothers you, please just accept it and keep reading, it is SO worth it.

Final Thoughts…

I genuinely did not expect the reaction I got from this book. It is currently 3:30AM, and I hauled myself out of bed as soon as I finished reading to write this review because I felt an overwhelming urge to tell anyone and everyone who would listen to read this book. I love it, and I really hope you’ll give it a try.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book of the Month (August 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for August 2018 is:

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Foundryside

by Robert Jackson Bennett (2018)

TL;DR – In a world controlled by magical enchantments, only a small-time sneak thief and her associates can prevent a world-ending catastrophe!

See the full review here: Book Review: Foundryside (Robert Jackson Bennett)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month

 

Book Review: Foundryside (Robert Jackson Bennett)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Book of the Month
Book of the Month (August 2018)

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Ragdoll Rating: Exceptional

Recommended For: Fans of fantasy and adventure. Also anybody else at all.

About the Book

Sancia Grado is a thief. A good thief. But she is also different. Tevanne is a strange land, that runs on a form of magic known as scriving. If you know the write sigils, you can alter objects and change their behaviour – legend has it that an ancient group called the hierophants could use scriving to bend reality to their will!

Sancia is a scrived human. The only scrived human. She started her life as a slave and she was experimented on – but the scrived plate in her head gives her some special abilities which make her an excellent sneak thief.

Sancia is offered the job of a lifetime – steal one item for more money than she could ever hope to see in her lifetime. She takes the chance, and then her world falls apart.

What I thought

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed this book. I mean I really, REALLY loved it. It’s 512 pages long, and I must have read 350+ of them in one sitting – I would have read three quarters of the book in one day if I’d had the energy to keep reading. It was that kind of book.

First of all, we’ve got to talk about scriving. At first this seems like your pretty average magic stuff. Say the right words and it does what you say kind of thing. But it isn’t. It goes WAY deeper than that. Bennett goes into considerable detail over the course of the book about the mechanics of scriving, the theory, the practical uses and the history. It’s rare to find a magical mechanic in a story that has been this clearly thought out, which would be worth big points in my book on its own, but it was the way this information is relayed to the reader that really made this book stand out. We never get too much information in one go – it doesn’t feel like you’re reading fictional non-fiction – you get just enough information to understand without breaking the flow of things…and it’s just really cool.

I’m not sure if the following paragraph counts as spoilers, but I’m gonna talk a bit about why scriving is awesome:

  1. Scrived objects are logical and stupid – you can only change them in ways that make sense. For example, you can make wood stronger, by scriving it to act like stone, but you can’t make it melt by telling it that it’s ice, because that’s too different.
  2. BUT you can do cool things with it if you are clever. For example, you can make a cart propel itself by telling the wheels they are rolling down a hill and telling them how steep the hill is. This leads to some wild things later on.
  3. It’s hard work. You’ve read got to know what you are doing to make it work, and experimentation can be really dangerous because its so easy to get things wrong – because of this, it’s a rich mans game, which has led to a really horrible unequal society.
  4. It controls (almost) everything in Tevanne. It’s so understandable. Sometimes you read about something amazing in a story and wonder why it’s under utilised, like the Force in Star Wars. If I had the force I would never stop using it, all the time for EVERYTHING. But they never do. But in Foundryside, those who can afford scriving, use it for everything they possibly can. It supports buildings, changes weapons, powers foundries, it is everywhere, and that can lead to big problems.

I’m sure there is more I could say about why I like this element, but I don’t want to go on and on. Trust me though, it’s really cool and it stays cool all the way through.

Secondly, two words. Unexpected Queers. I’m not the only queer person who, unless explicitly told otherwise (and often even then), assumes every character in everything is 400% queer. Then I find out it’s not the case. Well guess what – there’s at least 3 actual, factual queers in this book (by my count). Which is GREAT. Not just because they are queer –  but because it’s written completely naturally. Nobody bats an eye. In Tevanne, it’s perfectly, completely and utterly normal to be queer. And that is so refreshing. It’s so nice to read a book that – to the best of my knowledge – isn’t presented as queer-lit where a characters queerness is just another part of their character. It was also really nice to be right for a change, after deciding a character was queer.

Thirdly, the plot. I am a big fan of the idea that if it’s gonna go wrong, it may as well go catastrophically wrong. I like it when things go to hell, real fast. It’s fun and I like seeing how it can get worse as much as I enjoy seeing how that characters fix the problems – and this book did not disappoint on that front. I found every page more exciting than the last (especially the pages involved in the previous paragraph 😀 ). Everything went from bad to worse, and was written really well so you actually care about it.

Finally, the mystery element. This book has a lot of folklore in it – tales of the Makers or Hierophants or Ancient Ones – a race of giants who could bend reality to their whim with scriving. It also includes a talking key and a bunch of weird artefacts which are all surrounded in mystery. You find yourself constantly guessing how the ancient mysteries actually work, and how to solves the puzzles the characters are trying to solve – and I was right about 50-70% of the time. Actually if I’m honest this was probably the only element (besides some peculiar phrasing at times) that I didn’t like as much – mainly because for some things (for example, how the ritual works), I knew how it worked so long before the characters I wanted to yell at them for being so dense! But I suppose that’s the advantage readers have over characters – we get the extra context.

Final Thoughts

I loved it and I think anyone with even a vague interest in the fantasy / adventure genre should read it immediately. Also, I cannot wait for part 2 in the series!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: The Alchemist’s Illusion (Gigi Pandian)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of mystery novels. Young folks.

About the Book

The Alchemist’s Illusion is part of the Accidental Alchemist series, although it is mostly a stand-alone work. This book makes frequent references to things that I assume happened in the previous three titles – I’ve not read them yet, so I can’t be totally sure – but I didn’t feel I missed anything from not having read them, everything was explained to some extent.

Zoe Faust has set herself up in Portland, Oregon. Zoe is an alchemist who created the Elixir of Life and has lived for hundreds of years. She has led a life on the run, skipping town and changing her identity every few years to avoid detection and revealing her secret, but now she had built herself a comfortable little life and she want’s to stay where she is. Then she discovers her old mentor, Nicholas Flamel is in danger and needs her help. Suddenly her life is turned on its head, and Zoe finds herself in the midst of an alchemical conspiracy / murder mystery.

What I thought:

It took me a while to get properly into this book. I think it was the abundance of language related to alchemy that did it. I know absolutely nothing about alchemy, which highlighted two thoughts in my head. Firstly, I didn’t know what any of the words meant, and secondly, I didn’t know if the vocabulary used was accurate or just made up by the author. I don’t know why this bugged me, and I don’t know why it stopped bugging me either. But it did stop, and once I got over it I was in the middle of a really excellent mystery novel. I read the whole book in less than a day – I stayed up all night just to finish, it was that kind of book. I couldn’t put it down.

So the first thing I really liked was the way alchemy was portrayed in the book. As I’ve just said, I know nothing about it, so perhaps everything is totally accurate (in so much as you can be accurate about something like alchemy), but it was different to how I usually see it portrayed. There is a lovely line in the book that says that the different between alchemy and chemistry is that alchemy requires a connection to the materials, and proper intention (or words to that effect). Zoe, for example, really struggles to turn things into gold, because she’s just not interested in it, but she is superb with plant-based alchemy. Edward Kelley can’t make gold, because his intentions aren’t good – he’s greedy and want’s the power and so he just can’t manage it. It’s very different from, for example, the Harry Potter style of alchemy where the philosophers stone gets made and suddenly anybody can use it just by having it on them.

It was also really interesting to see the variety of alchemy. Nicholas Flamel is sort of the traditional alchemist, lead into gold, that sort of thing (although by no means limited to just that one thing). Zoe is all about the plants. Tobias is a spiritual alchemist – someone who works to transform the spirit into something better. Phillipe Hayden is a alchemical painter – using raw materials to do magical things with paint. It really makes the world of alchemy more interesting and alive to know that there is so much to it that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Another thing I liked was the characters. Particularly Dorian – a gargoyle who became real by accident. Dorian still looks like a gargoyle – he’s grey, he’s got wings, he’s 3 feet tall – but he wanted to do things with his life, so he apprenticed under a blind chef and cooked for blind folks as a way of being out in the world but not seen. He’s heavily influenced by the books he reads and throws himself into any situation that calls for his attention. He’s just a wonderful creation and the whole book was improved by his existence.

One thing I noticed – and this an observation more than a criticism – is that Pandian has a tendency to repeat things that have already been said. The attic room where Dorian lives, for example, is probably described 3 times in much the same way at different points in the book, and there are other examples that escape me – mostly alchemical things. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it certainly helped cement some of the concepts in my mind, but I’m aware it could bug some people. Also there were a couple of times where characters said things that I just can’t imagine any human being every saying. The one that sticks in my mind most was an outburst by a murder victims wife, who says “He was wearing that on the moonlit night he was murdered!” The night he was murdered, sure, but the moonlit night? Perhaps people in Portland are more poetic than I am. Again, this isn’t a criticism it just struck me as a bit peculiar.

The thing I liked most about this book is that, as I said, after a shaky start (due to an abundance of technical terminology) I was completely and totally hooked. I think I read a few chapters Monday night, and then the entire book in on sitting last night. That’s not something I usually do, unless I’m really hooked into something. I’ll read for a long time, but it’s not often I find something I’m willing to stay up all night just to see how it ends. I’m also desperate to read the other three books in the series so I hope that goes some way to showing just how much I liked this book.

Final Thoughts

This is a really fun book, that I would happily recommend to anyone, and will probably wind up buying a physical copy of the series so my younger sisters can read it too, because I know they will love it.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Coraline (Neil Gaiman)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

I cannot overstate how much I adore this book.

TL;DR – A truly creepy tale.

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RAGDOLL RATING: Exceptional

Why I read it…

I got this book signed at a talk Gaiman did at Ely Cathedral years ago – it’s the pride of my book collection! I read it again today (all in one sitting) because I’ve been trying to read books aimed with a younger audience in mind (as I am trying to write a book for younger audiences) and this is probably my favourite of them all.

The Story…

Coraline Jones is bored. She has just moved house, her parents are busy working, her toys are not fun anymore and there is nothing for her to do. Until she discovers a doorway to another world – a world full of colour, with attentive parents, delicious food and excitement by the bucket-load.

But all is not what it seems, and Coraline must learn the a lesson in the hardest way possible. The grass ain’t always greener on the other side – and if it is, it’s probably poisonous!

Why I love It…

I freely admit I am biased. I adore Gaiman’s work, but there is a reason for that. I like the way the man writes. It dances merrily between serious and silly, formal and informal. Behind it’s sometimes playful wording, lies a seriously creepy tale of terror. It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d been read as a child, or alternatively, wish I had a child to read it to.

I love Coraline (the character). Her motivations are so believable, boredom, curiosity, and a vague sense that nobody is really interested in her or her thoughts lead her to dive into this new and exciting world. But she is also clever, brave, resourceful and ever so caring. It would be so easy for her to have just stayed in the Other world (except, perhaps, for having buttons sewn onto her eyes), but instead she risks her own safety to save the souls trapped by the Other mother.

I also love the supporting characters. Gaiman has a knack for making characters interesting in as few words as possible. It’s a skill I infinitely admire, and am super jealous of. Characters such as Mr Bobo (Bobinski in the film), and his all-mouse circus.

‘The reason you cannot see the mouse circus’ said the man upstairs, ‘is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed. Also, they refuse to play the songs I have written for them. All the songs I have written for the mice to play go oompah oompah. But the white mice will only play toodle oodle, like that. I am thinking of trying them on different types of cheese.’

One paragraph and Mr Bobo and his world have come instantly to life. I can’t think of many authors who can make me so interested in the inner workings of a supporting character in so few words – heck, many can’t do it in a whole book.

I would also love to talk about how much I love the ending of this book – specifically the part about the picnic – but I can’t think of a way to do so without spoiling the ending for those who haven’t read it, so you’ll just have to trust me that it is wonderful.

Recommended For…

I recommend this book to everyone. Everybody should read this book at some point. It’s fun, it’s creepy and it’s brilliantly told. It is a beautiful example of the art of writing. Although I should point out that it could scare the impressionable youngsters (depending on their temperament), but they should read it anyway and just accept that being scared is a price well paid for such excellent and fun reading.

Final thoughts…

I love this book. The children I used to work with (primary school) loved this book. My sister saw the film this book inspired, and was completely (and hilariously) traumatised by how scary it was. It is truly excellent. Read it. Immediately.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book of the Month (July 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for July 2018 is:

ButtonThe Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton (2018)

TL;DR – A twisting, turning magical who-dunnit – a really excellent read!

See the full review here: Book Review: The Last Chance Hotel (Nicki Thornton)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month

Book Review: Notes on a Nervous Planet (Matt Haig)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Insightful, thought provoking, and very, very real.

TL;DR – This book takes a good, hard look at anxiety, grabs it by the collar and yells “Not today!”

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RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

My mum used to read my chapters of “Reasons to Stay Alive” at night, during one of my worst periods of mental ill-health, I’m not sure how much of it I took in, but it just seemed that reading Haig’s latest offering would be a good idea during my most recent mental health crisis.

The Book…

I suppose you could call this book a self help book, but that doesn’t cover it. More accurately, I supposed it is a collection of ‘anxiety things’, bunched together into a really helpful little manual.

The purpose of the book is to take a good hard look at anxiety, it’s effects on society, and societies effects on it. Through personal stories, quotations, lists and data, Haig takes us through the world of anxiety and offers us things we can do to combat it.

I suppose the big take-away from this book is that modern society is a breeding ground for stress and anxiety, and human beings have not had time to adapt to it. BUT, there are ways to make things feel that little bit better.

This book isn’t going to be a one-stop cure for anxiety disorders, and it isn’t supposed to be. It’s just a collection of useful information and tips, to make something really bad, a little easier.

What I liked…

I suppose the thing I like most about this book (and “Reasons to Stay Alive”) is the fact that Matt Haig doesn’t hold back on his personal experience. He’s not afraid to stand up and talk about his mental health, and to talk about it in detail. One of the parts that stuck out most for me, was when Matt talks about having a panic attack in a shopping center – being surrounded by crowds, being in tears and feeling like the worst has happened. It stuck out for me because I’ve been there, but also because outside of a group therapy session I’ve never heard anyone talk about that before. It’s one of those things that are really hard for people to understand, because they don’t necessarily make sense. These stories of his personal struggles – and the distinct lack of pointless psycho-babble and other rubbish – make the book really relatable, and help to make the rest of the book easier to engage with.

The problem with a lot of books on anything mental health related, is the tendency for them to be written by people who have never personally experienced the things they are talking about, written using a whole bunch of technical sounding terms that tend to just come off as annoying. THIS BOOK DOES NOT DO THIS. The whole book is written in really simple language – as if Haig was sitting in the room telling you his story, instead of you reading it. It’s comforting, and much more approachable. But he also only gives you advice he has tried, and more importantly, he admits the bits of advice he finds hard to follow himself, or that he isn’t very good at doing. It is infinitely easier to follow the advice of someone you  just know understands how overwhelming the advice seems. Someone who freely admits they should be doing something, but they aren’t good at it. Stuff they are trying to get better at.

I also love the way that the book puts focus on the way modern society affects us and can cause us considerable stress and anxiety. Haig explains how elements of society, for example shops or social media or news rely completely on people not feeling content. Feeling they need more, or that something isn’t ‘quite right’. How social media is designed to reward extremes of opinion. Or how the constant stream of camera-phone footage of horrible things happening, can make us feel more involved but also more scared of current events than we ever have been before. He also talks about how many of the things we do day-to-day, are like an addiction. Compulsively checking social media, or taking quick email breaks instead of focusing on one thing at a time. It’s hard to take in frankly. But it is true – I didn’t realise how many random marketing emails I saw every single day until I started unsubscribing from them as a result of reading this book.

Obviously Haig isn’t the only person ever to have spoken about this kind of thing, but he is the only person I’ve come across who managed to put it so clearly, and so obviously that I felt compelled to do something about it.

One final thing I loved about this book was the format. This book has no consistent structure. It is, as Haig puts it, ‘intentionally disorganised’. Each chapter starts with a quote or two, and then the chapter is broken up into seemingly random segments. There are lists, personal stories, data from psychological studies, advice, analysis of society, anxiety and stress…and so on. The reason I love this formatless format so much, is because it makes the whole thing so much easier to take in. You don’t get pages and pages and pages of advice from someone who doesn’t care if you follow it or not. You don’t get long explanations of complex quotations from someone who cares more about coming across intellectual than a ‘real’ person. You get little bits and pieces. Here a story about panic attacks, there a list of things that have gotten faster in recent years, here a bit about addiction and social media, there a little happy thought or bright idea. Mental health is hard to read about, especially when every story can trigger memories of your own – but this quirky little format experiment breaks it all up, and makes for a peculiar, but brilliant read.

What I disliked…

I didn’t dislike anything about the book. I disliked how I felt reading it at times, but that is obviously not Matt Haig’s fault.

One thing you should note, is that Matt does talk about suicide at times so if that’s a trigger for you, be aware.

Final thoughts…

This book made me feel a little less alone. I think everyone should read it, just to get a real, pure look into mental health problems.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Reading Challenge Complete (#2)

Technically speaking, that’s three reading challenges complete so far this year. 52 total books and two different runs of the Badass Books Reading Challenge detailed here.

The 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge was from a book blog I found – mehawkins.com18 unique categories. Doing this challenge actually inspired my to write my own challenges for next year (and the Around the World 2018 Reading Challenge you can try out already!!)

So here is the rundown of my progress through the challenge. (Please note: I read these in no particular order)

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Graphic and content from mehawkins.com

The 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge (Run #2)

A book published in 2018.

ButtonHead On by John Scalzi(2018)

Another fast paced science fiction crime/conspiracy novel. Scalzi’s work makes for excellent reading.

See the full review here: Book Review: Head On (John Scalzi)

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book published the year you were born.

ButtonGood Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (1990)

Two of my absolute favourite authors writing a book about the end of the world. What could be finer? Funny, clever and entertaining.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A classic book or a book published over 100 years ago.

ButtonRound the Moon by Jules Verne (1865)

After being blasted into orbit around the moon in Journey to the Moon, our intrepid heroes find themselves stuck – never to hit the moon, never to fall back to Earth. To orbit until their death. It sounds far more dull than it actually is.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book that you’ve started before and never finished.

ButtonThief of Time by Terry Pratchett (2001)

“The construction of the world’s first truly accurate clock starts a race against, well, time, for Lu Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd. Because it will stop time. And that will only be the start of everyone’s problems.” (from Goodreads). Probably my least favourite Pratchett book – it’s telling that I remember so little that I had to steal a summary rather than write my own – I may owe it a re-read.

Rating: 2/5 Buttons
A book you should have read in school, but didn’t.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arther Conan Doyle (1902)

After the suspicious death of land-owner, Holmes and Watson must solve the case of the mysterious devil-dog that has been reported to curse the Baskerville family, before the last of the great line meets a grizzly end. One of my favourite Holmes stories.

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A Book you’ve already read – time for a re-read!

ButtonThe Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon Defoe (2004)

This story finds the Pirate Captain giving up piracy and going to become a beekeeper on the island of Corsica, which he bought from the dastardly Black Bellamy. But PC’s dreams are shattered with the arrival of Napoleon, which sees the pair become locked in a battle for supremacy – and popularity – over the Island and it’s inhabitants.

See the full review here: Series Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with… (Gideon Defoe)

Rating: Exceptional (Series)

 

A book that you’ve put off reading.

ButtonThe Bodhisattva Ideal by Sangharakshita (2000)

A brief introduction into what it means to be a Bodhisattva – someone who strives to attain enlightenment for all beings . A fascinating read. Don’t read this unless you have at least some idea about Buddhism beforehand.

Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

See the full review here: Book Review: Bodhisattva Ideal: Wisdom and Compassion in Buddhism (Sangharakshita)

 

A banned book.

ButtonAnimal Farm by George Orwell (1945)

The animals take over the farmyard in the interests of seizing the means of production so they can all live a better life. Until the pigs take over. A weird, but enjoyable read.

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A book by an author you’ve never read.

ButtonElla Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

The very strange tale of the land of Nollop, where words are treasured and linguists are deified. A weird but brilliant look into the world of religious totalitarianism. A word lovers dream (or indeed nightmare).

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

See the full review here: Book Review: Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters (Mark Dunn)

 

A popular author’s first book.

ButtonThe Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)

A collection of tales about the colonization of Mars. I tried SO hard to like this book. Bits of it were interesting but mostly it just bored me. If you’re not a serious Sci-fi fan, give it a miss.

Rating: 2/5 Buttons

 

A book turned movie you’ve seen but haven’t read.

ButtonAround the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (1872)

Phileas Fogg sets off on an impossible journey, in order to win a wager. A delightful tale of round the world travel in the shortest possible time. Well worth a read.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book turned TV show you’ve seen but haven’t read.

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Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)

When an ancient clue, written in runes, is discovered and translated a journey is made to discover what lies beneath the Earth’s surface. A tale of peril and adventures – fanciful and wonderful.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A funny book.

ButtonThe Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists by Gideon Defoe (2006)

The Pirates – for reasons that escape me – find themselves in London and have to solve a mystery involving the Opera, and see’s the Pirate Captain mistaken for Karl Marx, and become a Philosopher himself. Probably my least favourite of the series – it’s a great book, but the story doesn’t stand out in my mind as well as the rest.

See the full review here: Series Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with… (Gideon Defoe)

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A book that will make you smarter.

ButtonThe Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Nanh (1998)

This book is a basic introduction to the foundations of Buddhism, taught from the point of view of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Absolutely recommended. This is definitely one of the most important books I have ever read.

See the full review here: Book Review: The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Rating: Exceptional (Book of the Month June 2018)

 

An award-winning book.

ButtonThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)

The unlikely, and indeed impossible, tale of Arthur Dent – sole survivor of the destruction of Earth. What can you do when you discover your best friends an alien, your planet has been destroyed to make an interstellar bypass and you’ll never get a decent cup of tea ever again? Hilarious – one of my all time favourite books.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book based on a true story.

ButtonBuddha by Osamu Tezuka (1972)

This is the first book on a graphic novel series detailing the events of the life of the Buddha. It’s interesting, but I can’t help but feel that if you didn’t already know the story you would be completely lost almost immediately.

Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

 

A book chosen for you by a friend.

ButtonPirate Lattitudes by Michael Crichton (2009)

Most of the story was really good, and with a few small changes could have been amazing. Still recommended. It’s exciting and entertaining and a little bit racist which is super annoying.

See the full review here: Book Review: Pirate Lattitudes (Michael Crichton)

Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

 

A book set during Christmas.

ButtonLost Christmas by David Logan (2011)

This is the story of the boy whose life falls apart on Christmas eve. The book reads like that list of ‘really bad metaphors’ that surfaces on the net every now and then – and I LOVE it.

See the full review here: Kwik Review: Lost Christmas (David Logan)

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

 

So there we have it. Badass Books Reading Challenge #2 is complete. Only a handful of books left to read before I make run #3 and the second total books challenge (80 books).

Last thing before I go:

Top 3 of the Challenge:

You gotta pick a top three, so here are mine (Drum roll please):

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You should go out and read these books immediately!!

Finally, a big thank you to mehawkins.com for writing the reading challenge in the first place and getting me reading again!

Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves (Robin Talley)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

“A stunning novel about love, race and finding the truth..”

TL;DR – A book about integration and the struggles POC faced in the late 1950’s. A very good read although I’m not so sure about the romantic angle.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 4/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

I read this book because it was recommended to me by a very good friend. Her judgement in books is (usually) on point, so I agreed to read it.

The Story…

This book is set in Virginia 1959 at the peak of the fight for civil rights. Sarah Dunbar has been picked to be part of a group of ten black students to be sent to Jefferson High School, a previously all-white institution. She is such a strong character and through it all, her, her sister Ruth and their friends stick together. Her and her peers are subjected to days of constant abuse from the white students and teachers (except the music teacher Mr. Lewis).

One of these white students is Linda Hairston, daughter of one of the town’s biggest segregationists. All her life she has been taught that the races should be kept separate and, until she meets Sarah, she almost believes this. When Linda and her best friend Judy are forced to work on a French project with Sarah, the reader begins to see the cracks and doubts Linda has about her and her father’s views. Over the course of the book, we see Linda drifting away from the segregationists and closer to Sarah. They fall in love and at the end of the book, they go off to college together for a fresh start.

What I liked…

I loved all the strong, beautiful and brave characters created in this book. All of them: the secondary characters like Chuck, Ennis, and Ruth; the main characters like Sarah, all of them. They really show great courage.                                                                                                                                                                          Ruth is Sarah’s 15 year old sister. She is treated as though she needs the most protection, but in reality, she shows some of the greatest spirit and resilience in the book. I love how this book really makes you feel and understand what it’s like to live with a mark, to be different, to be ashamed of who you really are, not just people from a different race but for LGBTQIA+ people too. I think if more people read and wrote books like this, books that give people this understanding, the world could be a much better place than it is now. The power and fire behind the messages of this book are morals that everyone should have to learn.

I also really liked seeing both Linda developing as character as well. At the start, she was not likeable at all. But as the book progresses, you see that in no way is this her fault. Growing up in a society like the one she lives in with an aggressive father who is the voice of the towns segregationists cannot be easy and by the end, her having such courage amid all the evil she’d been brought up to believe in was very honourable indeed.

What I disliked…

While I do like the development of the characters and completely support the friendship between Linda and Sarah, I do not see any reason for Sarah to have loved Linda. I completely understand why Linda could fall in love with the beautiful, strong character that Sarah is, but I don’t agree with how quickly those feelings are requited. I feel like their should’ve been much more time. I mean, by the end of the book they had only known each other for about 6 months, half of which were spent having arguments, debates or avoiding each other. In my opinion the friendship was already a huge step between the two girls and the relationship between them just came on too quickly.

Final thoughts…

I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction, equality, civil rights or just a very good read.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I borrowed this books from the library for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book of the Month (June 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for June 2018 is:

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The Heart Of Buddha’s Teaching

by Thich Nhat Hanh (1998)

TL;DR – This book is a basic introduction to the foundations of Buddhism, taught from the point of view of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Absolutely recommended.

See the full review here: Book Review: The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (Thich Nhat Hanh)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month