Arnold on a pile of books

I cannot believe that we are already at the end of May. What?! 2021 is flying past. How has your May been? Mine has been weird and busy and too fast to keep up with. And my reading has also been quite weird too – there has been quite a few lower rated books, and just one 5 star book (although it was a really, really, really good one!).

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Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? – Andy Bannister

Christian Non-Fiction – 4/5 stars

The question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God is a big one, and this book could easily have been heavy, dull and intimidatingly academic. But instead, Andy Bannister managed to weave together personal stories, illustrations and humour to create one of the most accessible Christian Non-Fiction books I’ve read.

This book compares the Qur’an and the Bible to see how they answer four questions: Is there a god and what is god like?, who and what are human beings?, what’s wrong with the world?, and what is the solution? Through these questions, we see the differences between the God of the Bible and the God of the Qur’an.

This is a really interesting book that brings this discussion to life and I feel like I learnt a lot. I particularly enjoyed the opening chapters exploring why this question is important and why it isn’t wrong to be confident that your own faith is correct. This book is clearly written from a Christian perspective, although cites a number of Muslim scholars, so I would be really interested to see a Muslim response to some of the points in this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and SPCK for letting me read this book.

Find this book here.

Her Last Holiday – C. L. Taylor

Thriller Fiction – 4/5 stars

This was such a fun, fast paced thriller that kept me coming back for more!

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a retreat to Gozo that ended with the deaths of two people. To uncover what really happened, Fran books onto the next retreat, the first since Tom’s (the infamous man behind Soul Shrinks Retreats) release from prison.

This was such an intriguing story, and very different from anything I have read before. We get to follow three different points of view – one in the past, and two in the present, which worked really well to throw in lots of twists and turns and reveals. I also enjoyed having an older protagonist (50s) than usual. The end did go on for a bit longer than it probably needed to, but I quite seeing everything wrapped up and a bit of what’s happening afterwards. I will definitely be reading more from C. L. Taylor.

Thank you to NetGalley & HarperCollins UK Audio for letting me read this audiobook.

Find this book here.

Before the Storm – Diane Chamberlain

Contemporary Mystery – 5/5 stars

I first read this back many years ago and wasn’t sure it would live up to the love that 15-ish-year-old Jenny felt for it. I had no need to fear, because I still adore this book and it may currently be my favourite book of all time!

In this book we follow Andy, a teenage boy who has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder as he is involved in a fire at a youth lock-in. Laurel, Andy’s mum, lost him once and fought to get him back, but when Andy is suspected of starting the fire, how can she protect him? Throughout this story we uncover what actually happened on the night of the fire as well as looking back at Laurel’s past.

This book touches on so many interesting and important topics, from alcohol addiction and post-partum depression, to parenting a special needs child, and advocating for people with special needs within the justice system.

Basically, you should definitely read it because I love it ok bye.

Find this book here.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

YA Dystopian – 4/5 stars

Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy so I can’t say too much about it without spoiling the first book. But this series is set in a dystopian world where each year, each of the Districts must select 2 children to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised competition where the children fight to the death. I really enjoy this whole series and would definitely recommend!

Find this book here.

The Peace Project – Kay Wills Wyma

Christian Non-Fiction – 2/5 stars (DNF)

I really loved the idea of this book initially, but it ended up not at all being what I was expecting – and I’m really sad about it! This book is described as a 30-day experiment, so I assumed that it would give much more structure – and be something that I could work at over a 30-day period, but in reality, this is just the account of one woman and her family taking on this challenge themselves.

Kay shares her reflections and experiences, but I found that these got somewhat repetitive, and didn’t encourage me to get involved at all, particularly as they never really explained exactly what they were doing – other than just vaguely focusing on being more kind, merciful and forgiving. I liked that Kay involved her children, but even this got repetitive and became less and less relatable to someone who doesn’t have kids, as so many of the reflections were heavily about them.

Overall, I just really wish this had more structure, maybe more contributors, and actually mentioned the Bible – or at least looked more at what the Bible says about the things they were focusing on.

Thanks to NetGalley and Revell for letting me read this book.

Find this book here.

Ripper – Isabel Allende

Mystery – 2/5 stars

This one was a bit weird. In this book we follow a mother and daughter. The mother is very laid back, away-with-the-fairies; whereas her daughter is down-to-earth, very intelligent and very interested in crime. She is part of an online group where they play a game called Ripper, finding the clues and trying to solve murders. At the moment, they are looking at a number of murders that have taken place in San Francisco.

This was quite an odd set up for the book as it forced there to be a lot of just being told what is happening rather than working it out yourself. It’s also just quite slow, and maybe I missed some clues, but a lot of the in-between bits seemed a bit pointless. There were some characters I found really interesting to learn about, and the pacing did pick up but not until right at the end.

Having seen other reviews, many people have said that Isabel Allende’s other books are much better, so I’m still intrigued to get into those.

Find this book here.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Historical Fiction – 4/5 stars

One thing I love about books, especially historical fiction, is being able to dive into a whole new place, a whole new culture, a whole new community. Learn about the people, learn about the traditions, learn about the religion, learn about the language.

I particularly enjoyed that aspect of The Kite Runner, where we follow Amir, a young & wealthy boy growing up in Afghanistan, & the son of his father’s servant – Hassan.

As well as learning so much about the people and history of Afghanistan, this is also a wonderful story of friendship, betrayal, loyalty, family & perhaps most of all – redemption. This is a really emotional book, and quite difficult to read at some places, but the themes that Khaled Hosseini is able to draw upon are so raw and honest.

Find this book here.

Madhouse at the End of the Earth – Julian Sancton

Historical Non-Fiction – 3/5 stars

In this book, we are discovering the true story of the Belgica, an early polar expedition that became trapped in the ice for the entire Antarctic winter.

For me, this was a book of two halves. I was absolutely fascinated by the stories of the crew during the time that they spent trapped in the ice. From how it affected their health and sanity, to the expeditions away from the ship, and all that they did to survive. The way that Julian Sancton used the records and diary entries to capture this story was excellent and helped you to understand how the different people were dealing with this situation.

However, I found the rest of the book, both leading up to this and much of what happened afterwards, to be much harder to read. Perhaps if I had greater understanding of scientific expeditions I would have been more interested, but I found it quite slow and difficult to keep track of. 

Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin Random House UK Audio for letting me read this book.

Find this book here.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

YA Dystopian – 4/5 stars

As this is the third and final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, I definitely can’t say much about this book without spoilers! See my thoughts above under Catching Fire.

Find this book here.

The Lamplighters – Emma Stonex

Literary Mystery – 4/5 stars

Inspired by a true story, this book explores the unsolved disappearance of three men from a lighthouse. We jump between the time leading up to the disappearance, and the perspectives of the three women left behind as they are interviewed for a book on the subject.

I loved the writing style of this book, particularly the chapters where the women are being interviewed. Within these chapters it’s as if we are the interviewer so we only hear the women’s side of the conversation and this was so effective for an audiobook.

As well as uncovering the mystery and learning about the secrets that each person has kept hidden, I really enjoyed learning about lighthouse-keeping, seeing the relationship between the women and their relationships with the men, and how this event impacted so many people in different ways.

Thank you to NetGalley & Macmillan UK Audio for letting me read this book.

Find this book here.

May Statistics

  • Books Read: 10 (including 1 DNF)
  • Pages Read: 3,408
  • Average Rating: 3.7

To see which books I will be reading in June, check out my latest Penguins choose my TBR video here:

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