Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Classics
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

Ebenezer Scrooge has always hated Christmas, but in this particular Eve, he’s given another reason to be wary of the holiday: the ghost of Jacob Marley comes to visit! Clad in heavy chains and burdensome weights, Marley’s ghost warns Scrooge that three spirits will visit him over the next three nights, each with a ghastly storyto share. Will Scrooge’s ghoulish experience teach him to embrace the spirit of Christmas, or will he say “bah humbug” to the holidays for the last time?

This isn’t the first time I have read this classic, but I’m sad to say, it is one of the few novels by Charles Dickens I have read. You can read my review of this novel from 2008 here. My thoughts about this book haven’t really changed. I am still giving this book top marks. It is a classic Christmas read that I highly recommend.

This is probably a story that you already know – Scrooge is an angry man who hates Christmas, good will, family etc. He has an unexpected visitor who warns him that he will be visited by three spirits during the night of Christmas Eve. These ghosts show Scrooge the past, the present and a possible future. Will these visits soften Scrooge, or will be end up like Jacob Marley – a ghost weighed down by heavy chains due to the decisions he made in life?

In 2008, my favourite character was Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. This time it was Scrooge who was my favourite. I enjoyed reading about his transformation; seeing the man behind the grumpy mask. His memories were sweet and how he started to care was just lovely. I did like Fred too though!

There isn’t much more to say about this novel, as I have already written a review. This is a classic for a reason – it is a great story that is beautifully written. I was there on the journey with Scrooge, transported to another world by Dickens. The book isn’t long, but an excellent read. It is easy to give this top marks. Now, the question is…what is your favourite adaptation? I quite the Muppets one myself…

This book can also be found on Rory Gilmore’s Reading Challenge.

I part read this book, part listened to it. Whilst I was listening to it, I was knitting a cardigan for my daughter. If you would like to see my progress on the cardigan, please visit Katie Creates.

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2015 Reading Number 10 – Matilda by Roald Dahl

Synopsis:

Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!

Quick Thoughts
This isn’t the first time I have read Matilda, it was a book I loved as a child, and I am pleased to say I enjoyed it just as much as an adult! The book is fun, a little bit naughty and funny. Roald Dahl sucks you in and you find yourself cheering Matilda on. I remember enjoying the film as a child too, plus a couple of years ago I saw the musical on the West End and loved that too. There is nothing to dislike with this book!

Rating:5 out of 5

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2015 Reading Book 7 – I Do Hard Things by Havilah Cunnington
Synopsis:

I Do Hard Things is a devotional workbook written to go alongside a 4 part teaching series. However, it’s also great on it’s own leading you to great insights on how to live in victory even in the midst of challenges and struggles.

Quick Thoughts
This is the second devotional book by Havilah Cunnington which I have gone through. The first was Radical Growth in Autumn last year. As with Radical Growth, I found I Do Hard Things to be incredibly useful. They are short daily readings, based on Biblical truth, about how we can climb out of the pits we find ourselves in and live a victorious life for God. It refocusses us on Jesus, and not on ourselves. This is helpful, short teaching which I will definitely read time and again.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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

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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Book number 34 in 2014 is Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart. 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 all about realigning your thoughts, fears and doubts with God, and seeing that we don’t need to be afraid, because in God’s strength we can do all things. This book was full of verses, and confirmations about how I am in Christ and how much God loves me. It was a great read and I am already looking forward to going through it again with my journal.

 

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

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Divergent
Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2011
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

The first book in The Divergent Series – aptly named Divergent – is easily my favourite of the three. What a great introduction to the series and to the characters.

I loved this book. I have read it twice now, and definitely enjoyed it more the second time. This book has it all for me. There are great characters – I liked Tris. She is bold and follows her instincts. I liked Four – he was strong and mysterious. I liked Will and Christina. And I enjoyed disliking characters such as Eric and Peter. Roth writes with a skill that draws you into the story. You feel like you are there and you know the characters personally. I would have trusted Tris and Four. I wouldn’t have gone near Peter. I loved the feeling that I was there too (although in reality I am pleased I don’t live in that world!)

Divergent is a great story. There is everything you could want – action, risk taking, murder, war, friendship and love. I don’t think Roth could have crammed anything else into this novel. I could not put this book down. I had to keep going, I was sucked into the story and needed to know what was going to happen. When this book finished, I was desperate to read Insurgent. This novel left me wanting more and it was easy to rate it 5 out of 5.

Insurgent
Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I didn’t enjoy Insurgent as much as I hoped I would. Don’t get me wrong – this is a good book – it just wasn’t up to the standard of Divergent. I found the beginning slow to get going. A lot of the action was at the end of the book – but what a great cliff hanger!

This book is similar to the first in that it contains action and war, plus love. It has the added element of having to make really tough decisions – such as forgiving your friend for shooting your boyfriend and choosing which bad parent to follow – the manipulative one who left or the abusive one.

We see the characters develop and we see Tris work through feelings of guilt and grief. War is taking its toll on her and Four is struggling to help her. Insurgent introduces more characters – again, some I liked, such as Cara who showed great strength when she forgave her brother’s killer, and more to dislike. People like Jeanine, who were so scared of losing power they were prepared to kill almost anyone and everyone.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 because I found the beginning slow. However, once the action started this book transformed and I was hooked all over again and eager for the final installment.

Allegiant
Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Divergent fans had to wait a long time for the final installment, Allegiant, to be published. To be honest, at first it felt a little bit like a let down. Tris and Tobias, plus a small army of friends, have left Chicago to discover what lies beyond the wall. Roth seemed to use half the book to explain their existence. There was a lot of background and a lot of science. To be honest, I’m not sure how much of that half of the book I took in. It wasn’t the explosive beginning I was hoping for and I found that not a lot happened in those pages. That said, again war broke out and the book became exciting! I think Roth writes action better than she writes background.

I wasn’t sure about the dual perspective either. It came as a bit of shock to be reading one chapter from Tris’ point of view, and then the next from Tobias’. I like one of the things I liked about Divergent was his mysterious character. I didn’t like that he was suddenly stripped bare and I got to see how he felt. He seemed weaker than I had envisioned him and that spoilt the book somewhat for me.

I must mention the ending. I don’t want to give anything away but I didn’t see it coming and I didn’t like it! It fitted with the characters and the story but it was not the ending I was expecting. It worked, but it saddened me.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 as well because I thought once the story moved away from the background information and we got going, the book was great and I had to keep reading.

The Divergent Series
I have written a lot already so I will keep this brief. This is a great series. I would highly recommend it to everyone. It is worth pursuing with the second and third books because the story does pick up. This is one of the best series I have read. This is a young adult series but don’t let that put you off. It is well written, it is engaging and the story has everything without the feeling that the author has tried too hard and failed. I can’t wait for the film to be released and I think everyone should read this series. Overall, I would rate it 4 out of 5.

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The eighth book I chose to read in 2014 was a re-read for me. I don’t often re-read books, unless they are classics like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. However, I chose to pick Divergent back up because I have just purchased Allegiant by Veronica Roth, the final book in the trilogy, and I wanted to remind myself of the story. My first reading of Divergent was back in the summer of 2012 and I remember enjoying it at the time. This second read of the book however blow me away. I absolutely loved it! I was gripped from the beginning and couldn’t read it fast enough. I will write more in the review, but suffice to say I am giving this book full marks. I loved it. It was so well written and engaging. It’s a great storyline with great characters. There is a lot of action and suspense. This is a brilliant book.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2011
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

The new novel from bestselling author Rachel Hore, much loved for her stories in which past and present are grippingly entwined.When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, who’s determined to protect his secrets, and the biographer, charming and ambitious Joel Richards. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton’s past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told…

One winter’s day in 1948, nineteen year old Isabel Barber arrives at her Aunt Penelope’s house in Earl’s Court having run away from home to follow her star. A chance meeting with an East European refugee poet leads to a job with his publisher, McKinnon & Holt, and a fascinating career beckons. But when she develops a close editorial relationship with charismatic young debut novelist Hugh Morton and the professional becomes passionately personal, not only are all her plans put to flight, but she finds herself in a struggle for her very survival.

Rachel Hore’s intriguing and suspenseful new novel magnificently evokes the milieux of London publishing past and present and connects the very different worlds of two young women, Emily and Isabel, who through their individual quests for truth, love and happiness become inextricably linked.

I loved this book. I have really enjoyed all of Rachel Hore‘s books; each of them has been highly rated. I lost my reading bug a few months ago as I have recently given birth and I was too tired and busy to read. This is the first book in a while that has captured my attention and made me long for a few minutes to myself so I can read a couple more pages.

The story follows Emily and Isabel, two women moving in the world of publishing, but many years apart. Emily is given the opportunity to oversee the publishing of a new biography of the famous author Hugh Morton. She is quickly sucked into his world, and the world of Isabel, as someone keeps leaving her extracts from Isabel’s diary. Emily is determined to see Isabel’s story told – the girl who ran away from home and entered publishing by chance. Here she fell in love with Hugh but marriage changed her. What ever became of her? And could Emily get past Hugh’s widow to let the story of Hugh’s first wife out?

I am a huge fan of Rachel Hore and get very excited every time a new novel is released. I like that she is an author who isn’t churning out more than one novel a year and that her books don’t seem samey after a while. She has a similar style to Kate Morton, another author I love reading. Hore’s books are not quite as long though! I find Hore’s novels draw me in and immediately I want to sit and read the whole thing in one go (and I would of done, if I didn’t have a baby and husband to look after!)

I instantly liked Emily and did find myself envying her job – she gets to read books all the time! I loved getting a glimpse into the world of publishing; hardcore but a lot of fun discovering now authors and talents. I found myself liking Isabel a lot too and really empathising with her throughout the novel. She had to face a lot – finding a job in a world that didn’t think women should be educated, falling in love with an older man and competing with a woman who was in love with her husband. Not only that, but she had to face post-natal depression; an illness not recognised back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I thought all of this was dealt with very well by Hore. She addressed the issue in a sensitive manner but didn’t hide how hard it must be to suffer so soon after giving birth.

This was a well told story. Hore moves between the present day and the past seamlessly and I always knew where in the story I was. She writes really well. I often find when I am reading that the grammar in many books is appealing – things such as sentence structure are simply shocking. However, I didn’t find that with Hore. The writing drew me in, it didn’t distract me and annoy me. I loved the fact this novel isn’t “chick-lit”. It is well written fiction, with a historical twist and a romance. There is much more to the book than the latest love affair. We see life in the 1950’s; we see what the publishing world might be like then and now and we see two strong, independent women striving through life and being a success.

I have rated this book 5 out of 5 because I loved it. I loved how well it was written; I loved the story lines and the characters; but most of all I loved that this is the first book I have wanted to read in a long time and it is the book that has returned my reading bug. For me, this is easily a top rated book.

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