Hello Moonlings! I hope you are all well, and 2020 is treating you kindly. I had some inspiration to make a YouTube video talking about 3 books I read in 2019 that really challenged me.
The first one I had read before, but many aeons ago when I had only started university. The second I had wanted to read one of that nature but hadn’t yet. Finally “Dirt to Soil” was a wonderfully accurate gift from Le’Boo last Christmas. He is excellent at surprising me with books.
I hope you enjoy the video and let me know if you read certain books to challenge yourself! I am on GoodReads so feel free to join me over there.
“The Forest People.” – Colin Turnbull
“Against Empathy.” – Paul Bloom
I have not reviewed this on my GoodReads. I did only give it 4/5 stars, but I explain that in the video.
“Dirt to Soil.” – Gabe Brown
“Everyone needs to read this book. Not just farmers, or ranchers but every human. We all eat, and our choices on which food we buy may mean the life or death of our Earth.” – My GoodReads review
Are you a fellow book worm? Do you love the smell of books? Or the sensation of words filtering through your brain, constructing stories about far off places, and exotic people? Then you have clicked on the right post!
I’ve read 30 books this year and rated 10 of those books 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. I have listed them below in order of preference, but let us remember, they are all excellent for their own reasons.
*There are no spoilers, this is a spoiler-free post! Enjoy my friends*
10. “Sourcery” – Terry Pratchett
Look we don’t even need to have a discussion here. Terry Pratchett is a beloved author for so many reasons. He is a hero in the writing community. You cannot read his books without being both touched and entertained. Seriously there is a joke on every page, with his humour being a mixture of complete silliness and intellectualism.
This book picks up with Rincewind the wizard whom we left back in book two “The Light Fantastic.” Rincewind is as reluctant as ever to be the hero, yet cannot stop his fate of becoming paramount to the survival of the Discworld.
Why couldn’t he have stayed at home, on his tiny cot, with the luggage snoozing in the wardrobe?
As far as debuts go, this is up there with the greats for me. I am a poetry fanatic, and very sensitive about its conjuncture. This wonderfully cathartic, yet tragic piece of work filled the gaps of my broken heart, as she waxed about pain, love, life, and the pursuit of elusive joy.
The work is divided into five parts, each a protective canopy over its subject matter. Beginning with “Screaming Numbness” we are treated to exquisitely painful lyrics about suffering and mental illness.
We press on into the pages of “Love & Loss” as she tells her tales from the world of love. As humans, we are never free from pain. We are allowed moments of beauty as a reprieve between the senseless chaos of the universe.
When the flushes of pain and joy are over we are treated to poems about the “Day and Night.” Her suffering mind remembers these times so vividly, and her fascination of the night sky appeals to fellow insomniac in me.
Life is a dazzling series of confusion and clarity. Mirza’s section, “C’est La Vie” has some hard truths about the world we try to live in. When I read these lines they ignite in me my own fears, wonders, and imagination.
The final section “Random Thoughts,” is just that, and we see the author grappling with the suffering of now, hopefully, one day leading to the freedom of tomorrow. Out of struggle, so will the time of quiet victory, and self-assurance be born. Where those of us with kindness, walk alongside those of difficult persuasions. She closes the collection strong leaving us both elated with hope, and sturdy with solidarity. Please buy this poetry collection, it is too exquisite to remain unread.
8. “The Secret Life Chimneys” – Agatha Christie
When I was a child I spent hours of my life watching Hercule Poirot shows with my mother. She has always loved Agatha Christie so recently I asked her what her favourite was and it wasn’t what I expected.
She choose “The Secret of Chimneys” and it is a laugh riot throughout. It does not take itself too seriously, although there is a dead man in the study. There are strong females, silly fathers and a cast of characters you cannot help but love.
7. “To The Women” – Scarlett Curtis
This collection of letters changed the game for me. I thought of all the women who have come before me, those I’ve known personally, and those who have fought on the front lines. When I say I cried in traffic. I genuinely did with one of the letters. The women wrote to her mother who was no longer with her. I ran home and hugged my mother.
6. “A Game Of Thrones” – George RR Martin
When the HBO show ended, I (and probably millions of others), went back to the books for solace and comfort. You cannot deny the character power of George RR Martin’s books. Although we are still two books short of a completed series, and Martin isn’t exactly a spring chicken, I live in hope that the story will conclude in an elegant threading of all storylines.
Until then I continue to read. I am on book three right now, immersed in the Song of Ice & Fire before it all went wrong.
5. “The Clan Of The Cave Bear” – Jean M. Auel
This book set in the prehistory of humankind kicked off a series that eventually disappointed me. Following the life of a young girl who is orphaned at five years old, she is taken in by the people of the Clan. Ayla is blonde and blue-eyed and appears ugly to the Clan who are dark and ancient.
There is love, loss and learning. I recommend reading the first book, but if you are short of time, do not worry about the rest. You will be disappointed. I rated the final book 1 out of 5 on Goodreads. A sad end to an epic series.
4. “The Handmaid’s Tale” – Margaret Atwood
I wanted to read this for a long time, and I finally got around to it this year. Even though it was written in 1985, (listen I wasn’t born until 1990!). So this book really affected me. It reminded me that no matter how far we have come, empires slip into dark ages.
It has happened over centuries countless times. It happened to the ancient Egyptian empire twice! With a racist, misogynistic president in the United States, the anti-immigration rhetoric in the United Kingdom, and the complete and utter media silence on what’s happening in Sudan, I realise we are never too far from chaos.
Do yourself a favour and read this book. I won’t tell you anything about it.
3. “The Hunger” – Alma Katsu
This semi-historical horror novel is on plenty of top ten modern horror novels for a reason. Set during the mass migration to the American West, the wagon train known as the Donner party encounters the horrors of hunger, disease and some unknown abomination.
As you jump between perspectives you understand the paranoia of the wide-open desert, the futility of money when there is no food to be bought, and the hidden secrets people keep close to their chest, in hopes they will never be discovered.
When you pick up this book, you will need to put it down on occasion, because it will disturb you. It won’t be long before you pick it up again, to see if you can understand the reasoning for the horror.
2. “The Witchcraft of Salem Village” – Shirley Jackson
I adore Shirley Jackson, and even though The Haunting of Hill House is cited as her best novel, I would argue it is only a small insight into her genius. My favourite of hers is “We Have Always Lived In A Castle.”
When I realised that Jackson had written a semi-historical version of the events that occurred in the now abandoned Salem village, I couldn’t help myself. This is an excellent yet frightening account.
1. The History Of Ancient Egypt – Bob Brier
Ever since I was a child I have idealised ancient Egypt in my head. I would read any books about it I could get my hands on. Fascinated by the hieroglyphs, mummification and papyrus, I imagined what life was like in times more ancient than my young mind could conceive.
My mother got me a beautiful book one Christmas that was tactile and interactive. There were real letters from Egyptologists, explanations about the Rosetta stone, and tutorials on their engravings.
The earliest settlers in the Nile valley was 700,000 years ago, and it wasn’t until 70,000 years ago that they even started using hand tools. Brier’s account brings us through the first settlers through 3000 years of history, all the way to the last Pharoh of Egypt Cleopatra.
I loved this. I listened to it on audiobook from Audible over a month and Bob Brier’s storytelling is superb. If you love ancient Egyptian history, you need to experience this.
Jennifer L. Place is a native of the Hudson Valley in New York. Her most recent book ‘Building 51‘, is based on a real abandoned asylum, in which the titled ‘Building 51″ is part of.
Having grown up in an area with this forgotten hospital Jennifer confesses she’s had an interest in it since childhood. It loomed in the background, and although she’d written 3 other successful books, the time came to invest in her curiosity.
She organised a tour of the sprawling campus and this shows throughout the book. Her knowledge of the grounds enhances the atmosphere of the novel. This is further boosted by accurate historical information displayed throughout. Evidence from the hospitals 140 years of life and beyond provides us with the chilling truth. Nothing that despicable ever dies.
If you are interested in learning more about the author herself, please feel free to head over to her website which can be found here.
As a lover of the horror genre, my initial approach to any novel within its scope is tentative. Unlike softer genres such as comedy or romance, when horror is bad, it’s awful. Therefore I was delighted to find that this story, while formulated in a classic trope, has new ideas and scares to offer. The opening shot sets group dynamics of 7 friends. They’re young, carefree, and mischievous, perfectly positioned for pain. Place jumps right into the guts of the matter as they plan to explore the abandoned hospital.
While you may make some predictions, you will not fully guess the ending. We are treated to complex character arcs, without an over indulgencing in flashbacks. You can tell the author’s imagination is well-developed and her days pondering over the dilapidated hospital is apparent.
*Ahead there be spoilers!!!*
The ‘love’ triangle’ which plagues 3 of the characters adds to the story agreeably. I have often found this tool to be cumbersome, however, without it, the characters may have behaved differently. Place directs her characters and ultimately people break off into groups. Which you should never do in a horror story, don’t they know they’re in a book?! Although Place dips into classic horror analogies there are times the characters poke fun at this and do not make the decisions we would expect them to make.
Another theme I really loved was the classic blood ‘wakes’ the beast. It shows Place really thought about ‘the why’ when she wrote this book. The 7(also a classic horror number) friends are not just attacked because they dare to wander the grounds of the hospital. It’s is an incident where blood is spilled which causes the hospital to rouse from its slumber, and welcome its new guests.
The grandmother’s introduction was seamless and the throwback to her at the end was inspired. I think this is a sensational read and you won’t want to put the book down. So make sure you’re sitting comfortably with your beverage of choice before you embark.
Yes, you can find Jennifer L. Place on all the usual platforms, and I’ve linked much of her media below. She has other books if horror is not your fancy, as you can see, so go buy one of those. You won’t be disappointed, and once again, thanks for reading Moonlings!
10 books I read or possibly re-read this year that I loved.
Hello fellow bookworms, time for another book blog boosterama. I adore books, have I mentioned that? I’m trying to read 80 (non-academic) books this year and so far I have made it to 64. I’m a little behind, however I read like a crazy mo-fo over Christmas so I think I’ll make it. 😉
I’ll try to go spoiler free but some of these books are older… so… spoiling may happen. Some of these books appeared in a previous post, but I needed to include them because I loved them so much!
These are in order unlike some of my other posts so you guys can argue with me in the comments if you disagree, I love a good debate. 😊
10. ‘Brave,’ – Rose McGowan.
This book made me both heartbroken for and proud of Rose McGowan. Her tough upbringing would have made most people hardened and silent. She instead directs her energies towards art as transformation. This is a very important book not just for woman, but for all oppressed humans. Bravo to Brave. You can check her out on Instagram. She’s doing cathartic things there at the moment.
9. ‘Furiously Happy,’ – Jenny Lawson.
Friends I read this book in less than a day because I couldn’t put it down. I forwent sleep, and in exchange, I was rewarded with laughter. Jenny Lawson reminds us that our mental illnesses are not our masters, the blame should not lie within, and we can break free. We can work hard to combat our demons, and in the meantime be furiously happy! By the way, the raccoon on the front is a taxidermy owned by the author. Oh yes.
8. ‘The Alchemist,’ – Paulo Coehlo.
When I bought this book, I was skeptical, because I had not heard one bad review from anyone. They were all correct, it was absolutely amazing. It will give you a strange feeling. If you have not read this you need to. This is my second time reading it, it’s healing.
7. ‘The Princess’ Diarist,’ – Carrie Fisher.
Get this on audiobook from audible, trust me. It’s worth it to hear Carrie Fisher tell her age-old tale, in her uniquely hilarious voice. Her wonderful daughter Billie Lourd also reads a section as Fisher’s ‘younger self.’ So sweet and at the same time, sad. I miss her so much. RIP Carrie Fisher.
6. ‘The Haunting Of Hill House,’ – Shirley Jackson.
So this came out on Netflix as a new series and in true Jaycee fashion, I had to read the book before I watched the show. Well, now I’m scared to watch the show! When I say she’s a horror legend, believe me.
5. ‘Americanah,’ – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
This book is Poetry. It’s even better served as an audiobook. I listened to Adjoa Andoh’s narration and it was fantastic. Read this book, but if you can listen to it as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I looked forward to my morning and evening commutes so I could hear more about the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze.
4. ‘Cosmos,’ – Carl Sagan
I adored this book. Although it was written nearly 40 years ago, it still feels as fresh and uplifting as ever. You need to read this book, it will change your perspective on our wonderful universe. It inspired so many people including some of my personal favourites, Professor Brian Cox and Neil Degrasse Tyson. “I have loved the stars too fondly, to be fearful of the night.”
3. ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,’ – Stephen King.
I have read many many Stephen King books and he has never disappointed me. With this book, he actually surprised me. He kept his supernatural element as an undercurrent to the book, while the true strength of human nature came in the form of a young girl, who wanted to survive. This story will grip you while putting you right there in the forest with her.
2. ‘The History Of Bees,’ – Maja Lunde.
What a wonderful book. Also what a harrowing message. Lunde tells the story of our world if our bees began to disappear tomorrow. We get a story told through three different very perspectives, yet we feel their pain as though it were our own. Lunde tells us what scientists have been trying to convey for years now. If we don’t look after our bees, the world will be a very different place.
1. ‘We Have Always Lived In A Castle,’ – Shirley Jackson.
Having truly enjoyed and been scared by ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ I had a book hangover when it was over. Io I thought I would give more Jackson’s work a try, to alleviate the pain of finishing a great book. This one was unbelievable and my favourite book I’ve read in 2018. I can’t believe I only discovered Jackson now, as a huge fan of horror I thought I’d read it all until I read ‘We Have Always Lived In A Castle.’ Check it out, my friends.
Ok my lovey loves that’s all for today. Sorry, it’s a bit short but I have an ongoing project that had a deadline. If it works out I will be able to let you in on it. If it doesn’t well it will fall into the annals of the internet, buried under memes and