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

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

The Approval Fix
Joyce Meyer
Netgalley review e-book

What are you currently reading?

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Recent Book Purchases…

I LOVE buying books! I have so many to read, yet that doesn’t stop me buying and borrowing more. And this week was no different! Earlier in the week I was enticed onto Amazon…a dangerous place for me…and treated myself too:

The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
I have read The Secret History by Tartt, which I enjoyed, so am looking forward to reading this. It is a bit long though…!

The One Plus One
Jojo Moyes
I have had a mixed experience with Jojo Moyles. I loved Me Before You and yet didn’t finish The Girl You Left Behind, so it will be interesting to see how I get on with this novel.

Haha, good thing I have a “pocket money” account!

Yesterday, I was in WHSmith with my husband, and he treated himself to the new Lee Child hardback book, and because he got a book, I was allowed to spend the same amount on books, from the joint account! I pondered and decided, I could get more Kindle books for the same amount, so I downloaded:

The White Princess
Philippa Gregory
Ooo I do like Gregory’s novels. This is book five in the Cousin’s War series. I have read the first two books in this series, and have books three and four waiting to be read. I can’t wait to get to them!

A Time to Kill
John Grisham
Now this is an oldie! I have read a few Grisham books and recently bought my husband Sycamore Row, but I haven’t read A Time to Kill so can’t read Sycamore Row once he has finished. Looking forward to reading this one a lot.

Looking For Alaska
John Green
I recently read The Fault in Our Stars – I read it in one sitting – and loved it! When I saw this wasn’t very much on Amazon, I was quick to download it!

Blossom Street Brides
Debbie Macomber
This is one of my favourite reading series. It is girly, but a comfort. For ages I have been hoping Macomber would bring out another Blossom Street book, and she has! I am one pleased girl!

I also downloaded a free Cedar Cove short story, When They First Met, by Debbie Macomber.

Plus, from my Mum I borrowed:

The Silkworm
Robert Galbraith
I have only recently finished The Cuckoo’s Calling, which is the first novel from Galbraith and the first in the Cormoran Strike books, yet I really enjoyed it. I am very much looking forward to reading this second novel by Galbraith.

So, quite a haul this week. I am quite pleased with myself! Have you read any of the above? What have you been buying this week?

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2014 Reading: #39 Mark Driscoll’s Death By Love

Number 39 in 2014 was a book off my Mount TBR pile, Death By Love by Mark Driscoll. This book has been sitting on my shelf for a long time. In fact, I had previously started this book so it was good to finish it!

This was a challenging read, for two reasons. The first, is that I struggled with some of the theology. Now, I don’t think that is a bad thing. I like being challenged, and having theological questions, and this book provided that. The second reason is a negative – there were times I didn’t think it was very well written, it just didn’t seem clear in places. However, this was a good read. It was hard going, some of the stories were tough to read, but God is good! That is what I took from this book. Whatever we are facing, Jesus can overcome it all. He died and rose again for me, and that is amazing.

Addition: Hardback
Genre: Christian
Published: 2008
Rating: 3 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #38 Sally Clarkson’s You Are Loved

Book number 38 in 2014 was Sally Clarkson’s You Are Loved. This book was written to accompany the online Christian devotion, You Are Loved, by the Love God Greatly team.

I found this devotional online and this book I could borrow from Amazon, and I enjoyed both of them. They are so helpful, full of truth and easy to engage with. I loved how honest and encouraging this book was; and I loved how it was so Scripture-based. This was such a good read – a must-read, as it is so important to know how much God loves you. Here is a link one of my favourite quotes from the book.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Christian
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #37 Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling

Book number 37 is Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the Cormoran Strike series. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym, the author of this novel also goes by J. K. Rowling! And what a novel it is…!

I have read all the Harry Potter novels, and loved them – I even queued at midnight for the release of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – so when I discovered that Robert Galbraith was actually Rowling, I was eager to read this book. Recently, I have found my reading tastes have changed a little. In the past, I wouldn’t have read a detective novel, for fear of it scaring me I think, yet over the past year or so I have started to really enjoy them. This book is no different. I started it as an audiobook, but about halfway in, I was so eager to find out what happens in the end, I downloaded the book and read it much quicker than it would have been read to me. I really enjoyed this book, I couldn’t put it down. I recommended it to my Mum (no surprises there!) and she also enjoyed it. This is such a good read – and not at all like Harry Potter!

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #36 John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

Book 36 in 2014 was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I have been wanting to read this book for ages, and yesterday decided that even though I have several books on the go, I was going to read this anyway. Oh my, this book is incredible. I read it in one sitting – I stayed up late to finish it as I couldn’t put it down. This is a sad and fantastic read. This is a must-read book and easy to rate 5 out of 5. I don’t want to say too much, but this is well written, captivating and so sad, yet a great read. I still feel like I’m processing the book this morning.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2012
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Gothic fiction
Published: 1935
Rating: 4 out of 5

Her mother’s dying request takes Mary Yellan on a sad journey across the bleak moorland of Cornwall to reach Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. With the coachman’s warning echoing in her memory, Mary arrives at a dismal place to find Patience a changed woman, cowering from her overbearing husband, Joss Merlyn.

Affected by the Inn’s brooding power, Mary is thwarted in her attention to reform her aunt, and unwillingly drawn into the dark deeds of Joss and his accomplices. And, as she struggles with events beyond her control, Mary is further thrown by her feelings for a man she dare not trust….

This is the second Daphne du Maurier book I have read, back in 2008 I read and enjoyed Rebecca. I was inspired to read Jamaica Inn because a few months ago the BBC made it into a mini-series, and I thought I would read the book before I watched the show.

The story is based around Mary. She is sent to live with her Aunt Patience and her husband Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn, after the death of her mother. The inn is not at all what she expected – and neither are Patience and Joss. There are dark and mysterious goings-on at Jamaica Inn, and everyone in the surrounding area gives it a wide berth. Joss seems to be the ring leader in some awful gang, and Patience has just turned away and become fearful and weak. Mary is not like that, and her curiosity draws her into what Joss is caught up in, with potentially deadly consequences.

This book almost immediately reminded me of Wuthering Heights. Set out on the Cornish moors, there is fear and darkness. Joss is like Heathcliff, unpredictable and not particularly nice. Although written in the 1930s, this book has all the feelings of a gothic novel – death, fear, the supernatural, love and the unknown. I was drawn in immediately, and all I can say is this is a very good book!

I liked Mary. She was courageous and strong. She had a good sense of right and wrong, and I liked her adventurous spirit. She seemed fearless and I loved how much she wanted to save her Aunt. Her Aunt however did annoy me! She was so weak and pathetic. I really wanted to tell her to pull herself together. I thought Joss was very well-written. I didn’t like him, but he was a great character.

What pleased me most about this book is guessed the baddie! That never happens! I kept saying to my Mum, “I don’t trust…” She wouldn’t comment, but it was satisfying to be right! This was a great read – full of danger and suspense. I was hooked from the beginning. My only complaint was that the book didn’t read fast enough for my liking! This novel has it all – death, suspicion, fear, danger and love. The prose are wonderful, and the descriptions of the moors are beautiful.

This is a great book and if you love classics like Wuthering Heights, you will love this book. It has made me want to re-read Rebecca, and read more of du Maurier’s novels (good thing my Mum owns them!) This was a brilliant read, and I rate it 4 out of 5.

In case you are interested, the inn, Jamaica Inn, does exist! du Maurier based the novel on the place, but her story is entirely fictional. You can find out more about Jamaica Inn here.

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2014 Reading: #35 Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn

Book number 35 in 2014 was Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. My Mum is a fan of du Maurier’s novels and for years I have stared at their covers on the bookshelf in their lounge. Earlier this year, the BBC produced a mini-series based on this novel so I thought, why not read it? I have read Rebecca by du Maurier (many years ago), which I also enjoyed and I am glad I made that decision to read Jamaica Inn – this is a good book! This is a gothic novel, which reminded me quite a lot of Wuthering Heights – a book I must re-read soon. Jamaica Inn was dark and mysterious. Set on the Cornish moors, there was fear, love and death. It wasn’t a fast read, but a very good one. Now I need to watch the series – hopefully it is as good as the book!

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Gothic fiction
Published: 1935
Rating: 4 out of 5

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A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

Addition: E-book
Genre: Christian, non-fiction
Published: 2011
Rating: 5 out of 5

Often the biggest obstacle to living out our faith is our own doubt–about our worth, our abilities, our relationship with God, and situations in our lives. “A Confident Heart” gives voice to the questions, doubts, struggles, and hopes so many women have. Author Renee Swope shows women how to identify, overcome, and even use doubt in order to live confidently in God’s power, truth, and grace. Perfect for women’s small groups or individuals, “A Confident Heart” is an authentic, insight-filled and encouraging message for any woman who wants to exchange destructive thought patterns with biblical truth that will transform the way she thinks, feels, and lives.

Renee Swope is part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries, who I follow on Facebook and receive their daily devotions. I noticed on Facebook a while ago that for one day only this book, A Confident Heart, was free on Amazon so I immediately downloaded it (who doesn’t love a free book?!) I am so glad I chose to read this book, it is excellent.

This book is full of truth about God, our loving Heavenly Father. Swope addresses issues about how we doubt ourselves, and how we doubt God, and then brings us back to the Bible to show us the truth about who we are in Christ. She shows us how we can be confident to walk with God, how he can heal the pain of our past and use it for his good, and she repeatedly brings us back to what God has done for us and how he loves us. She uses examples from the Bible of the Samaratian woman at the Well and how God knew all about her and her past, yet loved her and spent time with her. Swope uses Gideon and how fearful he was to show us that these feelings don’t surprise or hinder God, and how when we trust him, he will use us for great things.

Swope was very honest about her life, her past and her current struggles. In these reviews, I often comment about how I felt towards the fictional characters, and yet here I feel compelled to say how much I liked Renee Swope, even though she isn’t fictional and we are never likely to meet. I found her honest and helpful. She was so likeable and so encouraging.

I loved this book and I can’t wait to go through it again, noting down Bible verses and encouragements in my journal. This book is well written, easy to read and full of the Bible. Swope is open with her past and her the things she battles with today. She uses excerpts from other resources to help her and I found this an excellent, encouraging, helpful read; filled with amazing truth about God, who I am in Him and how He can and will use me, and this book has left me wanting to know God better. It is very easy to rate this 5 out of 5, what a great resource.

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