February Wrap Up

February has been another busy month for me. I’ve read seven books, including two from my David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks. I was also lucky enough to receive two ARCs from the lovely people from HarperCollins Publishers Australia, Missing, Presumed and The Yearbook Committee.

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It was the last month of my university holidays, so I did my best to relax as much as possible. I had lots of beach days, walks around the neighbourhood and vegged out in front of Netflix quite a bit. I’m beginning to feel that Sunday night feeling, but times about a million right now, though!

In crazy cat lady news, my new cat, Ziggy, has settled in very nicely. She’s starting to get along very well with her new brother, Zeus, besides from the occasional play fight and game of chasey!

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Books I Read in February

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (Translator) shadow2

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels gnostic

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

The Gnostic Gospels is a landmark study of the long-buried roots of Christianity, a work of luminous scholarship and wide popular appeal. First published in 1979 to critical acclaim, winning the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Gnostic Gospels has continued to grow in reputation and influence over the past two decades. It is now widely recognized as one of the most brilliant and accessible histories of early Christian spirituality published in our time.

In 1945 an Egyptian peasant unearthed what proved to be the Gnostic Gospels, thirteen papyrus volumes that expounded a radically different view of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ from that of the New Testament. In this spellbinding book, renowned religious scholar Elaine Pagels elucidates the mysteries and meanings of these sacred texts both in the world of the first Christians and in the context of Christianity today.

With insight and passion, Pagels explores a remarkable range of recently discovered gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, to show how a variety of “Christianities” emerged at a time of extraordinary spiritual upheaval. Some Christians questioned the need for clergy and church doctrine, and taught that the divine could be discovered through spiritual search. Many others, like Buddhists and Hindus, sought enlightenment — and access to God — within. Such explorations raised questions: Was the resurrection to be understood symbolically and not literally? Was God to be envisioned only in masculine form, or feminine as well? Was martyrdom a necessary — or worthy — expression of faith? These early Christians dared to ask questions that orthodox Christians later suppressed — and their explorations led to profoundly different visions of Jesus and his message.

Brilliant, provocative, and stunning in its implications, The Gnostic Gospels is a radical, eloquent reconsideration of the origins of the Christian faith.

Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman rebecca

April 1951. It has been twenty years since the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, and twenty years since Manderley, the de Winter family’s estate, was destroyed by fire. But Rebecca’s tale is just beginning.

Colonel Julyan, an old family friend, receives an anonymous package concerning Rebecca. An inquisitive young scholar named Terence Gray appears and stirs up the quiet seaside hamlet with questions about the past and the close ties he soon forges with the Colonel and his eligible daughter, Ellie. Amid bitter gossip and murky intrigue, the trio begins a search for the real Rebecca and the truth behind her mysterious death.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess clockwork

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

“What we were after was lashings of ultraviolence.”

In this nightmare vision of youth in revolt, fifteen-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the State tries to reform him – but at what cost?

Social prophecy? Black comedy? A study of free will? A Clockwork Orange is all of these. It is also a dazzling experiment in language, as Burgess creates “nadsat”, the teenage slang of a not-too-distant future.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner missing

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.

Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.

As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.

A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her.

The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub theyearbookcommitteecover

‘smart, funny and relevant’ – Melina Marchetta, bestselling author of LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, SAVING FRANCESCA and ON THE JELLICOE ROAD

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

The Serenity Stone Murder by Marianne Jones  serenity

The peaceful city of Thunder Bay is shocked when one of its most prominent businessmen is murdered with a stone stolen from a nearby church garden. Visiting the city to attend a retreat, friends Margaret and Louise become intrigued by the circumstances surrounding the murder and quickly find themselves embroiled in the investigation. Will they discover that they’ve stepped into something they won’t be able to walk away from? Will the murderer target them next?

 

January Wrap Up

Is it just me getting old or did January fly by in an instant? I swear it was New Year’s Eve just the other day!

Now, in my 2015 Review post I decided I wasn’t going to make any New Year’s resolutions, but I did want to spend more time blogging. I think I’ve kept that up very well! I posted 8 blog posts, read 7 books, and started a reading challenge. 2 of my January reviews did sneak into February, but all 7 reviews are posted as of the 3rd of February, so that’s not too bad at all!

I was hit pretty hard by the death of David Bowie. I’m really not someone who feels deeply about celebrities, but I think most people will agree that there is just something about David Bowie. I’ve really loved reading posts by other bloggers, such as Alison Williams, about how David Bowie made them feel better about themselves for being a little bit different as teenagers.

David Bowie was an avid reader, as well as a musical genius. I’ve set myself a massive reading challenge based on Bowie’s top 100 books. You can check out the full list and read along with me here.

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David Bowie also managed to bring the most gorgeous little cat into my life in January. I saw my little Ziggy Stardust up for adoption at my favourite cat rescue organisation, The Cat Protection Society of Victoria, and the rest is history!

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Books I read in January

Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt

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Description

Part Viking, part Eskimo, Neiva Ellis knew her family’s ancestral home, the island of Spirit, Alaska, held a secret. A mystery so sensitive everyone, including her beloved grandmother, was keeping it from her. When Neiva is sent to stay on the island while her parents tour Europe she sets out on a mission to uncover the truth, but she was not prepared for what laid ahead.

On the night of her seventeenth birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva is mysteriously catapulted into another world full of mystical creatures, ancient traditions, and a masked stranger who awakens feelings deep within her heart. Along with her best friends Nate, Viv and Breezy, she uncovers the truth behind the town of Spirit and about her own heritage.

When an evil force threatens those closest to her, Neiva will stop at nothing to defend her family and friends. Eskimo traditions and legends become real as two worlds merge together to fight a force so ancient and evil it could destroy not only Spirit but the rest of humanity.

 

1984 by George Orwell  1984

Book 1/100 in the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Description

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

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Img Source: Goodreads

Description

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  gatsby1

Book 2/100 in the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Description

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

Fetish by Tara Moss

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Img Source: Goodreads

Description

Mak is young, beautiful- and in grave danger. An international fashion model, she arrived in Australia on assignment, only to find her best friend brutally murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer with a very deadly fetish. Before she knows it, Mak herself is caught up in the hunt for the killer .and trapped in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Who can you trust and where can you turn when you are the dark obsession of a sadistic psychopath?

Tara Moss began modeling at fifteen and worked as a top model around the world for the years before becoming a full-time crime novelist.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy pursuit

The critically acclaimed bestseller from the number one bestselling author of The Moment and A Special Relationship. A powerful romantic novel set in the tumultuous world of post-war America.

New York, 1945 – Sara Smythe, a young, beautiful and intelligent woman, ready to make her own way in the big city, attends her brother’s Thanksgiving Eve party. As the party gets into full swing, in walks Jack Malone, a US Army journalist back from a defeated Germany and a man unlike any Sara has ever met before – one who is destined to change Sara’s future forever.

But finding love isn’t the same as finding happiness – as Sara and Jack soon find out. In post-war America chance meetings aren’t always as they seem, and people’s choices can often have profound repercussions. Sara and Jack find they are subject to forces beyond their control and that their destinies are formed by more than just circumstance. In this world of intrigue and emotional conflict, Sara must fight to survive – against Jack, as much as for him.

In this mesmerising tale of longing and betrayal, The Pursuit of Happiness is a great tragic love story; a tale of divided loyalties, decisive moral choices, and the random workings of destiny.

 

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert eatpraylove

Description

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.