2014 Reading: #46 Havilah Cunnington’s Radical Growth

Book number 46 was Havilah Cunnington’s Radical Growth – a devotional book looking at how we can grow in our walk with God. This is a fabulous book! It is a 30-day study, with short chapters to fit in around a busy life. I am so pleased I went through this book. I feel like God is working in me, talking to me and growing me. I have found this so helpful, such a wonderful resource. There are also videos which go alongside each day and can be found here. This is a great study and worth spending time doing. If you want to grow in God, this book is for you! Here is the preview video:

Addition: E-book
Genre: Christian
Published: 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5

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The Days of Eliora by Katy Hollway

The Days of ElioraAddition: Paperback
Genre: Young adult, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

The Days of Eliora “Si dominates her, eager for respect Caleb notices her, detecting someone unique The Remnant shuns her And I watch over, as turmoil encompasses the land Eliora lives between worlds. Disowned by one and mistrusted by the other; she has no identity. Finding solace in conflicting friendships will shape her future beyond recognition. Caleb brings relief to her testing days, but can he bring startling revelation about who she really belongs to. Will she still her confusion and listen to my message? Is her heart prepared for the battle?” Eliora does not fit. Neither the palace nor the settlement offers her a place to be who she is called to be. Join Eliora as she discovers her calling amid the slavery of her people and the tyrannical Pharaoh. Discover the unfolding story through both the human and supernatural realm.

This is the second book by Katy Hollway, and the second in the Remnant Chronicles. I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed The Times of Kerim, but fear my comments may be similar.

As was with The Times of Kerim, I found the synopsis gives away nothing about this book! I had no idea what or who to expect when I opened the novel. I don’t want to give away much of the story but I will explain that the Remnants are angels, who are protecting certain charges. Eliora is one of those charges, and she has a tough life. She is a Hebrew slave in Egypt, but expected to work at the palace amongst other Egyptians. She finds herself caught between the two different cultures, unsure who to follow and whether to believe in the Egyptian gods or the Hebrew God. Again, I don’t want to spoil the story or give away too much, but Hollway bases these novels on Biblical stories, but the main character is rarely the key Biblical person, the are intwined into the story as we follow those around them.

I found the beginning of this novel a little slow, like with her previous novel, we launched straight into a world where we are not sure what is going on. The story does become clear after a couple of chapters and I liked how we are slowly introduced to the key players in the story. As for the storyline, I found myself in a strange place – I liked it, and I didn’t like it, all at the same time! There is one particular incident in the book that then shapes the rest of the story, but I didn’t like it. I wasn’t sure if it even needed to be there. I also was surprised by how fast time moved in the book as there didn’t seem to be any indication of weeks or months. Yet, I did enjoy the book and found myself reading large chunks in one go because I wanted to know what was going to happen. I was gripped, and I did enjoy this book. There is hardship, pain, friendship and love in this book. Family and faith are so important in life, and in this novel. I loved watching how each event unfolded. This book is descriptive and draws you in. I was captivated by the story and for the most part, really enjoyed sitting and reading this book.

I keep asking myself the question, did I like Eliora? I’m quite undecided! There were moments in her vulnerability when I felt for her, really empathised with her, yet she was also a bit sulky and I didn’t like that. I did like Caleb – a hero in this book! He always saw the best in her, stood by her at all times and showed her God. He had such a great trust in God, it was amazing.

I want to make one comment about how the book is laid out. We often jumped between Eliora’s story and the Remnant’s story. We know this because it is shown through a font change. The Remnants can see the demons surrounding and covering people, and sometimes would engage them in conversation, however I didn’t find it was always clear if the demon was speaking, or if the person he was controlling was speaking.

This isn’t just a story about how God can save a nation. This is also a story about how God cares and loves each individual. God is so loving and caring – he does work all things out for the good of those who love him, and we saw this in the book. The Creator was always there, and he always has a plan for us. Bad things do happen – they happen in this book – yet God loves us, he protects us and he saves us. What was meant for evil, God uses for good – and that is the key message through the book and I love it. It was so good to be reminded of this truth in a subtle, powerful way.

I’m rating this book 4 out of 5. I liked most of the story, and my comments above are minor things in the scheme of the story. I just loved being reminded of God’s grace, and how much he loves and cares for his children. This isn’t a hard read, but it is enjoyable and full of God’s truth.

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A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore

Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Historical fiction
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?

1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations.

I received this book from Netgalley to write an honest review – thank you so much for letting me read this novel, Rachel Hore is one of my favourite authors!

This book is set in Paris during two very different times – the Second World War, and the early 1960s. We discover the truth about Kitty, her time in Paris and the life she hid from her daughter Fay. Both women fall in love with the city, and both fall in love whilst they are visiting. Kitty makes her life there with Eugene and they have Fay there. However, war breaks out and Paris becomes occupied. It isn’t safe for long there and this story follows the hard decisions Kitty has to make to protect her family – and then the decision to keep the truth from Fay. Fay, visiting Paris as part of an orchestra is struck by how much of the city she remembers, even though she is sure she has never been there. This week-long visit will be extremely life changing for her.

I really enjoy Hore’s novels. I am yet to find out I don’t like! And it is the same with this book. I found the first few chapters a bit slow, but once I was further into the story I was captivated. I read large chunks in one go. This isn’t a fast read, but it is really enjoyable. I love historical books, and ones that jump around generations – like this one does. We weren’t always reading about the war, we were regularly transported to the ’60s, were we watched life for Fay change during her short time in Paris. The story kept me hooked. I found I needed to know what happened – what was going to happen to Kitty and Fay?!

As I read, I kept changing my mind about Kitty – during the war I liked her, but I didn’t really like her in the ’60s! I didn’t like how she hid this story and her opinion on Sister Theresa. I did like Fay. She was forgiving and kind – she cared about what she saw around her and I liked that. I’m still undecided about my opinion of Eugene. He was a man consumed by work and then by his secret role in the war, it didn’t seem like he put his family first.

This is quite an emotional book. I have a toddler, who is the same age as Fay was during the war, and I kept thinking how awful and hard it must have been to keep family safe. I don’t want to give away the story, but I found my heart breaking in places at the thought of what went on.

There is a lot of historical content in this book. Paris’ role under German leadership is explained well. Eugene was American, and it was shown how for some of the war he was safe because America had yet to join in the fighting. The threat of death, the aerial bombings and the town of Vittel were all mentioned and explained. Hore seems to have taken the time to make this accurate and show the readers just what life was like in both the war and in the early ’60s.

I really enjoyed this book. I did find the beginning slow, and I thought the end was a bit rushed too. I do have some unanswered questions, however, this was a great read. I was drawn in, caught by the story, moved by the characters and events, and find myself still thinking about the book now. Rachel Hore has written another fabulous book. I cannot wait for her next novel! I rate this book 4 out of 5 – this is a must read book!

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2014 Reading: #45 John Grisham’s Playing For Pizza

The 45th book in 2014 was another from my Mount TBR Challenge – John Grisham’s Playing For Pizza. This is the second Grisham novel I have read this year, and it was very different to The Racketeer! Grisham has stepped away from his law thrillers, and taken us into the world of American Football – albeit in Italy! I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel, but I actually really enjoyed it. I do watch NFL with my husband – we are Chicago Bears fans – so I understood some of the football, but a lot of it was a bit beyond me! However, that didn’t spoil this book. It was a good read, I read most of the book in one sitting. I loved the setting, the characters and the passion. This is a worthwhile read, even if you don’t understand American Football.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2007
Rating: 3 out of 5

In case you are interested, back in 2012 we were lucky enough to have a holiday in America – we spent a week in Chicago with my husband’s family, and here we are outside Soldier Field before our tour. We didn’t get to see them play, although we did see the Bears play at Wembley a few years ago, but we did see some college football. We saw the Northwestern Wildcats play Boston College. It was a great holiday!

outside Soldier Field

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2014 Reading: #44 Rachel Hore’s A Week in Paris

Book 44 was a Netgalley review book – A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore. I love Hore, she is one of my favourite authors, so I was very excited to be reviewing this book!

I really enjoyed this book. I found the beginning of the book a little slow but once I got past the first few chapters I was hooked. I did not want to put this book down! We follow life in wartime Paris – the horrors everyone had to face and the bravery shown by many. This is such a good book!

Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Historical fiction
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #43 Katy Hollway’s The Days of Eliora

The Days of Eliora

Katy Hollway’s The Days of Eliora was book 43 in 2014. This is the second novel by Hollway, and the second in the Remnant Chronicles series.

Like with her first novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect – when this book is set or who the main characters will be. However, that should not put you off this book. Set in the times of Moses as he follows God’s orders to see his people freed, we follow Eliora, a girl stuck between the Hebrew and Egyptian worlds. It is hard to say what I thought coherently! I did enjoy this book, I wanted to keep reading and I found myself thinking about it. However, I didn’t like some of the storylines! I will write a proper review of this book, but I would rate it 4 out of 5 because I wanted to keep reading, and I would recommend it.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #42 Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island

Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island was book number 42 in 2014. This book has been on our bookcase for a while so I put it down as part of my Mount TBR challenge. I have now read 9 books in that challenge!

I didn’t know what to expect with this book. I was worried I would find it boring as I do prefer fiction novels, however, I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself enjoying this book – even chuckling in places! It took a while to read, I found that more than one chapter at a time made the book drag a bit but overall this was a good read. I laughed in some places and found the discovery of areas of Britain I knew nothing about fascinating. I would definitely recommend this book.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Non-fiction
Published: 1995
Rating: 3 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #41 Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm

Book number 41 (I’m still excited that I have passed my goal!) was Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm. This is book number 2 in the Cormoran Strike series. I had reserved this book from the library, as soon as I had finished The Cuckoo’s Calling but I couldn’t wait to read this book so ended up borrowing my Mum’s Kindle to read it!

This story is a lot darker than the first in the series, and I’m sure there were parts I didn’t quite understand but overall – great book! I couldn’t put it down. I was gripped. I didn’t guess the ending and I just really enjoyed this book. I hope we get more books in this series.

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #40 Debbie Macomber’s 74 Seaside Avenue

I HAVE FINISHED MY READING CHALLENGE!!!! But more on that another time!

Number 40 was Debbie Macomber’s 74 Seaside Avenue, a Cedar Cove novel. I haven’t read a Cedar Cove novel in a long time. I read a load of them together and got a bit fed up with them, however, I have been enjoying the series on TV and thought I would have another go. I am pleased to say I did enjoy this read. It was nice to spend time with old friends! I found some storylines a bit predictable, others a but unbelievable, but I still enjoyed the book. It didn’t take long to read it and I am considering reserving the next one at the library.

Addition: Paperback, library book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2005
Rating: 3 out of 5

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15 September 2014: Currently Reading

Are you like me…do you have more than one book on the go? For me, the breakdown is simple: What I am reading and What I have started but not picked up in a while:

What I Am Reading

Radical Growth
Havilah Cunnington

The pathway to the radical growth you’re wanting is not complex. It’s not some unattainable, envy-provoking vision or dream meant to torment you with its impossibility. However – let’s be honest, no one has a vibrant life by accident. No one has a flourishing garden unintentionally. Simply put, vibrant living looks like a life grown on purpose. With clear understanding of God’s heart toward you, a commitment to 100 % obedient, and and unrelenting determination to follow truth, radical growth is possible. It’s a life that’s within your reach! This practical guidebook will give you daily access to being your own journey of living a radical and vibrant life!

This is a devotional series too, and you can join in by watching the videos here. This is the promo video for it:

74 Seaside Avenue
Debbie Macomber
Library book

Dear Reader, I’m living a life I couldn’t even have “dreamed” of a few years ago. I’m married to Bobby Polgar now (you know, the famous chess champion who just happens to be the man I love ). And we’ve got this beautiful house with a view of Puget Sound.

But lately something’s been worrying Bobby. When I asked, he said he was “protecting his queen”–and I got the oddest feeling he wasn’t talking about chess but about “me.” He wouldn’t say anything else.

Do you remember Get Nailed, the beauty salon in Cedar Cove? I still work there. I’ll tell you about my friend Rachel, who’s got two men interested in her (count ‘em, “two”). And I’ll let you in on what I’ve heard about Linnette McAfee, who left town when her love life fell apart. (“That” kind of trouble I know all about.) Come in soon for a manicure and a chat, okay?

Teri (Miller) Polgar

Notes From A Small Island
Bill Bryson
Paperback – off my Mount TBR pile

“Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain-which is to say, all of it.”

After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson-bestsellingauthor of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to returnto the United States. (“I had recently read,” Bryson writes, “that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another,so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But before departing, he set out ona grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie’s Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.

A Week in Paris
Rachel Hore
Netgalley review e-book

1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?

1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations.

What I have started but not picked up in a while

All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque
Paperback

Jesus, Meet Him Again…For the First Time
Paul Smith
Paperback

The Approval Fix
Joyce Meyer
Netgalley review e-book

What are you currently reading?

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