reviews

a year in reading 2018

A year in reading 2018

Happy New Year everyone! Following the tradition, here we go!

Books read 2018: 70

Trends:

  • Number of books is increasing (67 in 2017, 56 in 2016, 55 in 2015)
  • I am ‘reading’ more audio books
  • I am also reading far more e-books than paper
  • This year I included (for the first time) in my list novel-length works of fan fiction (but not in my summary here).

Ratio:

49 fiction/21 non-fiction

37 e-kindle/11 audio/22 paper print

Longest paper book:

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

Shortest paper book:

The Importance of being Ernest – Oscar Wilde

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (BBC)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (BBC mini-series 2015; Netflix; my local library) is a regency era alternative history detailing the attempt of two “practical” magicians to bring magic back to England.

“We have channelled all of English magic into a butler and then we have shot him!”

Magic was common place in Britain during the era of the mysterious Raven King but for the last 300 years it has been confined to theoretical study only. The fussy, book-loving Mr. Norrell joins forces with the flamboyant, reckless Jonathan Strange to make English magic “Respectable” once more.

Mr. Norrell is aided, cajoled and protected by his mysterious man-servant Childermass, a former pick-pocket who is looking forward to the return of the Raven King.

#Childermass Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Raven King

Jonathon Strange is determined to make his wife Arabella proud of him, but is hindered by Mr. Norrell’s refusal to dabble in anything too outlandish.

Power hungry politicians, the Faerie realm, and the death of Strange’s wife tear the two apart. As they travel from France to Vienna and from Yorkshire to London in order to undo  As magic returns and the ancient roads of the Raven King are re-opened the two must decide what is most important, and whether they really will sacrifice everything for a future they may never see.

Mr. Norrell: A party? I wish to go home and read a book.

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Review: The Children Act (2017)

Based on the eponymous novel by Ian McEwan. 

As the High Court Children’s Judge, Justice Maye (Emma Thompson) must decide whether to give a Jehovah ’s Witness boy a blood transfusion against his wishes.

I entered the cinema expecting a clear-cut film condemning religion and extolling the power of ‘free choice.’ Instead I watched a gripping drama filled with flawed characters grappling with what it looks like to love their neighbour.

After visiting the precocious teen in hospital, Justice Maye rules according to the court precedent (“life over dignity”) and chooses to save his physical body, sparing little thought for his soul.

Yet when the disillusioned young man adopts her as his spiritual mentor and her own marriage begins to crumble, Justice May must confront questions such as:

How far should you be expected to go to save a child who is not your own?

Is it always right to separate your professional and personal lives?

What does it take to save a marriage when both individuals have committed betrayal?

This film explores the beauty of life, but also asks: what does it take to sustain it? Are we as Christians willing to give it?

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A Year in Reading 2017

Following the tradition, I thought I’d share the books I enjoyed reading this year – my tiny contribution to the online world of books and reading, of which I am mostly a silent consumer (but pay my dues once a year in the form of a blog post!)

Books read 2017: 67 (my goal was 57, so this was exciting)

Ratio:

48 Fiction/18 Non-fiction

21 audio books/38 paper print/8 kindle digital

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A Year in Reading 2015 & 2016

“What do you like doing?”

“I read.”

“What do you read?”

“Ermm…books?”

Two years ago I was sick of replying “Ermm…” when people asked what I liked to read. To be honest, I had no idea what the true answer was. What genre did I like? What sort of books did I gravitate towards? Don’t ask me. I didn’t analyze, I just read.

Two years ago I decided to start analyzing. The results were interesting. Last year, I continued analyzing. It’s 2017, and I’m still analyzing.

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The Final Problem SHERLOCK review

To all who don’t follow SHERLOCK, this was the final episode of Sherlock for the conceivable future, so you are safe from here on out. Rather than simply skipping this post, head over to Called to Watch for some other reading!

Well, this was an unexpected episode in many respects. Lots of reviewers have slammed it as being extremely unrealistic – and you know what? It was. There were several ‘Oh really?’ moments, not to mentions unlikely escapes and rather gaping plot holes.

But I’m not going to discuss that. Because Sherlock has always been relatively unrealistic, it has always required a suspension of disbelief, and yet we’ve swallowed it hook, line and sinker, because we’ve wanted to. It’s been fun. If we look at the original canon, most of the adventures are rather unlikely, and the deductions require luck as well as genius. And we don’t mind too much, because after all, as Sherlock Holmes himself says, truth is often stranger than fiction.

On a thematic level, this episode asks questions such as:

Does anyone ever have the right to make decisions on behalf of another?

Do emotions affect our morality? Is this right?

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The Lying Detective REVIEW

This is my second review/response to SHERLOCK Season 4. It focuses on the second episode, The Lying Detective, loosely based on Doyle’s original short story, The Dying Detective.

It took me a while to formulate this post. You see, I really, really loved the episode, to the point where I think it might be the best SHERLOCK to date – and yet I couldn’t really pin-point why.

It’s an episode about the aftermath of loss. It asks questions like:

Is there a right way to express grief?

Can you go ‘too far’ to achieve a goal?

What does it mean to be a good man?

And lastly, are any of us really ‘good’? And if not, how do we live in light of that?

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Sherlock: The Six Thatchers REVIEW

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If you signed up to email updates from Gloryafterwards in order to stay in the loop about CALLED TO WATCH – head on over. You can sign up there too to stay in the loop. A new post was published on Monday: “Watching is hard (how do we deal with that?)

| UPDATE OVER |

I’m aware that most people following this blog are probably not that fascinated by the latest reincarnation of Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes. But I have to admit… I am.

I am absolutely intrigued by how the BBC has managed to bring a 19th century hero into the 21st century – which aspects they have kept, which they have changed. What follows are my thoughts on The Six Thatchers (Season 4, Episode 1). It’s been three years since the last season, and will probably be at least that until the next one, so bear with me?

Even if you have never seen SHERLOCK, thematically the episode is interesting. It asks questions like:

Do all actions have consequences?

What things should you share with your spouse, and which should you tackle alone?

To what extent can you blame someone for a death?

Can the evil in this world be avoided if you try hard enough, love strongly enough? (spoilers: the answer is ‘no’)

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Fantastic Beasts & where to find them REVIEW

Yes… this contains spoilers. AND it’s my last post before I got on a holiday hiatus! Posting will resume January 2017.

What I liked

I liked that all the characters were a bit… odd. Even the main ones. Newt barely ever made eye-contact with the other characters, often had an unreadable expression, and kept tilting his head to the right. Tina at first seemed permanently about to burst into tears with a similar unreadable expression. These are not conventional heroes. Instead it felt as though they had simply been stuck in a random adventure, and that was refreshing.

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The fault with The Fault in Our Stars

A Young Adult romance between two teenagers dying of cancer, John Green’s The Fault in our Stars has received much critical acclaim as well as much criticism in general. Not a huge romance reader, I picked up someone else’s copy of the book and prepared to scoff. I even started skim reading at chapter 2 because I was so sure it wasn’t going to be any good that I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to finish it anyway.

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