Wonder – by R J Palacio

4 02 2019

From the back cover of the book:

“My name is August.
I won’t describe what I look like.
Whatever you’re thinking,
it’s probably worse.”

August was born with a combination of genetic abnormalities which mean he has a face rather unlike other peoples. He’s 10 years old, and about to go to school for the first time having been home schooled so far. Not something that would be easy for any kid, let alone August. Obviously it’s a tough year, kids can be cruel, we know, and there is no exception here, but some kids can also be completely wonderful.

For the first chunk of the book, August is the narrator, sharing his story of that year, but as we go through, others including his sister and his friends get to share from their perspective, which is really important – they might overlap a little to explain how they got to a point, but then take you on further through events.

Much as there are some truly awful moments, this book is incredibly uplifting. I read the majority of the book in just two days – completely insane. Though I will say that the chapters are REALLY short, so often you do have half blank pages which I guess must have sped me up a bit, but truly I couldn’t put it down – I read for 90min straight this evening without falling asleep – unheard of!

And yes, I will be trying out the film soon!





The Tattooist of Auschwitz – by Heather Morris

31 01 2019

This book ticks a couple of my categories lately: books I see everywhere and so give in and buy, and books set in world war two!

The tattooist of Auschwitz is Lale (this is a true story, he really existed), a Slovakian Jew who ends up in Auschwitz and Birkenau as a prisoner. All the prisoners have jobs within the concentration camp and Lale manages to get a job tattooing all the prisoners numbers onto their arms as they arrive, a job that comes with a bit better treatment than the labouring that most do.

At its heart this book is a love story between him and a girl he meets as he tattoos her on her arrival, intertwined with the horror of life in a concentration camp. What really highlighted itself to me was just how trigger happy the guards were, the slightest thing and you could be shot dead – some even just while they popped to the loo in the middle of the night – horrifying.

One thing that really struck me with this book was only a tiny thing really, but I kept stumbling each time I picked it up to read some more and re-remembered that it’s all written in present tense – a little strange, but I got used to it by the second half!





Anne of Ingleside – by L M Montgomery

20 01 2019

After two years, I’ve finally finished the main part of this series of books! There are two more that follow, but their focus is on the children, no more “Anne of….”, so I sort of consider this a job done!

That said, even thought this is an “Anne of” book, the focus really is on the children – Anne and Gilbert have six children including a set of twins, all with their different escapades, and not a huge amount of time spent on Anne other than when the children take their problems to her to solve. For the most of the book, Anne has become a flawless woman with her days of escapades and learning about herself long gone – but there is a really nice moment near the end where we find she’s not perfect after all, and she struggles with something so completely relatable to us all, it’s nice to see she’s still got a realistic side to her.

Still very enjoyable, warm and fuzzy, and an easy read.

As with the previous books, this one still has some lovely one liners – here are a few of my favourites:

  • “‘Praying’s good. I lost a dime once and I prayed and I found a quarter. That’s how I know.'”
  • “‘Hasn’t the world got its face washed nice and clean?’ cried Di, on the morning sunshine returned.”
  • “‘God doesn’t make bargains, He gives… gives without asking from us in return, except love.'”
  • “‘If a minister preaches a sermon that hits home to some particular individual people always suppose he meant it for that very person,’ said Anne. ‘A hand=me-down cap is bound to fit somebody’s head, but it doesn’t follow that it was made for him.'”
  • “‘David is going to be married at last,’ said Miss Cornelia. ‘He’s been a long time making up his mind which was cheaper, marrying or hiring.'”
  • “‘The same summer will never be coming twice'”
  • “Anne knew quite well that this idea was absolutely unreasonable, but when was jealousy ever reasonable?”





Theologygrams – by Rich Wyld

30 12 2018

My brother got me this for Christmas. I generally don’t consider myself intelligent enough to read books on theology, but this is practically a picture book full of graphs and diagrams, and those I can do!

Some of them are serious, but many are a mixture of humour too – three involve Doctor Who and one involves Mr T, so it’s pretty lighthearted, but still got some interesting content – seeing Paul’s missionary journeys presented as a London tube map was inspired!





Going Solo – by Roald Dahl

29 12 2018

Having read the school years part of Roald Dahl’s autobiography, Boy, in September, I thought I’d try and finish the other half before the year was out!

This picks up where Boy left off, Roald heads out to work for Shell in what is now Tanzania. After a short while WW2 breaks out and after some work in that country, he goes to Nairobi to enlist in the RAF. From thereon in the book follows him through training, going into war, accidents, and all sorts, all the way through to his return to England.

I learnt so much about the war by reading this, I ignorantly never really knew what went on in Africa in the war, and it really hit home just how little chance of survival there was for those who were fighting. It really seems to me to be a miracle that he survived and that we have all these incredible books he wrote – at the point of war Roald was not an author at all, I’m guessing that comes later, and I’m so glad it did!





God’s Smuggler – by Brother Andrew

24 11 2018

Two weeks ago we had a guest speaker at church from Open Doors who talked about their work with the persecuted church around the world. He recommended this book, which has been on my shelf for several years, and so that evening when I finished my previous book, I picked this one up, and I’m so glad I did!

Brother Andrew tells his story from childhood in the Netherlands during WW2, travelling to Indonesia and training as a Commando, returning to Holland and finding work, before training as a missionary and starting to take Bibles out to Eastern Europe and beyond the Iron Curtain.

The thing that stands out most about this book is just how incredibly God meets his needs as he works to spread the Gospel, from meeting his termly costs precisely at just the right time as he trained, to how He made “seeing eyes blind” as he crossed borders with stacks of Bibles in his car and the guards just didn’t see them – it’s amazing!

The book was originally published in the late 60s, but this edition comes with an interview with Brother Andrew from around the turn of the Millennium covering some of the work done since then, with movement into Islamic countries as well as just the growth the organisation has seen in its work.

Really a powerful book, challenging, uplifting, and thoroughly thoroughly worth a read!





Will Grayson, Will Grayson – by John Green and David Levithan

8 11 2018

This has been on my shelves for ages. Having read The Fault In Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns a few years ago I bought a couple more of John Green’s books, but other books beat it to the top of my list more recently.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would as well. The book is about two guys, both called Will Grayson, who randomly bump into each other one night in Chicago. One is having girl trouble, one is having boy trouble. I don’t want to say too much about the plot as there are twists early on and I don’t want to spoil them. What isn’t a spoiler though is that the book ends with a performance of the “most epic musical ever to grace the high-school stage.”

One of the Will Graysons really beats himself up and has major self confidence issues which I think a lot of us find really relateable (at least I hope it’s not just me!) – I found that a really powerful part of the story. It’s a heavy book in places, but with a lot of fun in it too!

It was a really easy read, took me a little over a week to read the whole thing, I enjoyed it!