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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Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

A shivering of worlds.

Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.

This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.

As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.

There will be a reckoning…

This is the final book in Terry Pratchett‘s amazing Discworld Series. This is one of my favourite book series – so many characters, so many adventures, so much humour. These books are well written, they are hilarious, there is always danger and adventure, and the characters are fabulous. There are 41 books in this series, and I am pleased to say I have read them all!

I really enjoyed The Shepherd’s Crown. This book had all the elements I mentioned above. This novel is the 5th book in the Tiffany Aching mini-series, which also features the witches, Granny Weatherwax and Granny Ogg. Tiffany has found herself in the position were she must save the Chalk from the fairies, who are getting set to attack. She must keep her wits about her, round up the witches, plus the folk of the Chalk, and get set for battle.

As ever, this book was entertaining from the start. Pratchett never fails to draw me in and keep me hooked. He uses characters I love – I was pleased that Death had a cameo in this novel, he is one of my favourite Discworld characters – and he writes such good stories! In other Discworld novels, other reviewers have felt that there is too much going on in the story; I didn’t feel this was the case with The Shepherd’s Crown. We had the story of Tiffany, and her rise as a witch on the Chalk, we had the story of Geoffrey, the man who wanted to be a witch, and his work alongside Tiffany; and of course there is the elves storyline. All three worked well together and brought us to a great climax – the battle for the Chalk.

I have read other reviews about this book which mention that Pratchett died before this novel was completed, and that it is obvious in places that he hadn’t quite filled out some of the story. To be honest, I didn’t notice this. I was excited that there was a final book, grateful that I was able to go back to the Discworld one more time and I just enjoyed the story.

I was reminded somewhat of Julia Kagawa’s Iron Fey series when we were in the world of the fairies. This is another series I enjoyed so this isn’t a criticism. The stories are very different, but as I was reading it there were moments when I was transported into Kagawa’s world.

This book ticked all the boxes for me. It was entertaining, gripping, humorous and enjoyable. This is an excellent fantasy novel. It didn’t feature all my favourite characters – I really like the characters based in Ankh-Morpork, such as the Wizards – but I found the Nac Mac Feeble really funny. However, if you have read any Discworld novels, you will also see the sadness in the pages. This is a goodbye to the Discworld series, and to Terry Pratchett. I am rating this novel 4 out of 5, and I am gutted there won’t be another Pratchett novel.

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Books 21-25 in 2015 are:

21.
Erica James – The Dandelion Years
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is one of my favourite types of books, by one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy Erica James novels, and this one was set in both the present day and during WW2. I love books with a dual timeline! This story was interesting, gripping and touching – plus it was set in Bletchley Park, which I found really exciting. My review is HERE.

 

22.
Amanda Hocking – Wake
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. I really enjoyed her Trylle series, so had high hopes for this new book. This is young adult, fantasy literature, which I almost always enjoy. This book is darker than Hocking’s Trylle series, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. That said, it wasn’t a boring or bad read – I read this book in two sittings! My review is HERE.

 

23.
Marina Fiorato – The Glassblower of Murano
Rating: 3 out of 5

The Glassblower of Murano is one of those books which has been sitting on my bookcase for a few years, so I added it to my Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to report that I have now read it! This is another book which has a dual timeline; present day and the 1600s. I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I thought I might. I didn’t find the storyline terribly exciting and I wasn’t overly keen on any of the characters. My review is HERE.

24.
Amanda Hocking – Lullaby
Rating – 3 out of 5

This is the second novel in the Watering series by Amanda Hocking. It continues the story of Gemma, and her entanglement with the sirens. Again, this instalment is darker than the first, but as this is a young adult book it doesn’t get too bad! I am enjoying this series. The storyline is gripping, I like the characters and the books are exciting. I have the last two novels to read, and I am looking forward to them.

 

25.
Beth Redman – God Knows My Name
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the second time I have read this book, and I have loved it each time. Beth Redman looks at our identity in God. She talks about how God knows us, made us, and how we don’t have to feel shame or regret in His presence. This is a great read, full of truth and encouragement about who we are in God, and who God is to us. This is a must-read in my opinion.

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I haven’t done a Recommended Author post in a long time, but today I wanted to change that!

recommended authors

The author I am recommending is: Katy Hollway!

katy_avatar

Katy has released two books so far; The Times of Kerim and The Days of Eliora. These are the first two books in the Remnant Chronicles series. Katy’s books are young adult, Christian books and I have really enjoyed both of them. Her writing is engaging and draws you in – with both novels I found myself reading huge chunks in one go as I wanted to know what would happen. I have found Katy’s writing to be like Frank Peretti, which is a big compliment as although I have only read one of his books, I really enjoyed it. If you like young adult fiction, if you like fantasy fiction, and if you like Christian fiction, than Katy is definitely worth checking out!

You can find out more about Katy Hollway and read the first three chapters of The Days of Eliora at her website, www.katyhollway.com

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They’re the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone’s attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. A few years ago I read Hocking’s Trylle series and really enjoyed it, so I had quite high expectations for this book. I was also nervous, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this book, which would have been sad as I liked the Trylle series so much.

This book follows Gemma, a sixteen year old girl who loves swimming. Her beauty and natural ability in the water attract the attention of three girls – Penn, Thea and Lexi. These girls are newcomers to the town, and their stunning beauty is making the town nervous. Gemma is cautious of them, but during a late night swim she is convinced to join them in the cove. She wakes the next morning having no memory of the night before, but knows something has changed – she has changed. What does this mean for her and her future?

I am pleased to write that I enjoyed this book. Maybe not as much as the Trylle series, but enough to read it in two sittings! This book is gripping, and pulled me in straight away. It is an easy read, but enjoyable. I liked the characters and I liked the story. This is a young adult novel, but as an adult I enjoyed it.

I liked Gemma and her sister Harper. I felt for Harper, she just wanted to protect Gemma. I found the storyline with their Mother a bit odd, and I’m not sure it added much to the book. Their Father seemed to be a sweetheart. Hard-working and trying hard to look after his girls. I think I forgot that Gemma is on sixteen, she seemed more mature than that. I liked the boys written into the story as well. Daniel made me chuckle as he humoured Harper, and Alex just seemed very sweet.

The storyline was good. This is the first in a four book series, so it took a little longer to get going than usual but I didn’t mind the scene-setting. I quickly worked out what fantasy characters the three girls are, but I enjoyed watching the story unfold. There were bits that were a little bit more gory than I expected, but that didn’t bother me much. The story is gripping, there are a couple of mysteries throughout the story, and of course there are a couple of romances too.

I don’t have anything bad to say about this book, except that it isn’t the best book I have ever read. I may have rated this book higher if this was the first Hocking book I had read, however this was a good read. Like I have said, I read it very quickly and I did enjoy it.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the Trylle series, however I liked it enough to buy the second book in the series. I am rating this book 3 out of 5.

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Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Fantasy, young adult
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

I received this book from Netgalley to give an honest review.

This is the first book by Django Wexley I have read, and it is the first in The Forbidden Library series. In this novel we meet Alice, a girl recently orphaned, who has been sent to live with her mysterious Uncle. But things are not as they seem. She quickly learns that magic is everywhere and her Uncle is some sort of wizard. She is drawn into this world when she follows Ashes, a talking cat, into the library she has been forbidden from. She is on a hunt to find out what has happened to her father, but she is about to enter a whole new world and start leading a life she wouldn’t have believed possible just a few months ago.

This book falls into the scope of fantasy for young adults. But it is more than just that. This book has adventure and suspense. There are unanswered questions – mystery follows through the book – and there is fighting and the need to survive throughout the book.

As a character, I quite liked Alice. She was hard working, compassionate and fearless. She is however, only 12 and I think that when you read through the book you forget that. She seems to be a very mature 12 year old. I felt like I was reading the adventures of a late teen, not a girl. I did find it convenient and a bit far-fetched the number of times she suddenly had a plan that would save her life. My favourite character was Ashes – who doesn’t love a grumpy cat! He reminded me a lot of Grimalken the cait sith from the Iron Fey series. As a rule, I don’t like cats, however Ashes was exactly how I imagined a cat who could speak would be. He was definitely a highlight in the book for me.

I think my biggest complaint with this book is simple: it dragged a bit. I know I have said that there is action and adventure, but it was a bit slow. I did find myself checking to see how long I had left in the book. There is a lot that happens in the book – we are taken into three different worlds, there are the encounters with the evil fairies, plus we watch Alice fight for her life on more than one occasion – yet there were moments when I wondered if I would finish the book.

Overall, I am rating this book 3 out of 5. There are elements of this book which I really enjoyed. There is action, a sense of mystery and I did wonder what was going to happen. However, I won’t be rushing to read the next book in this series.

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2015 Reading: Book 1 – The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

Synopsis:

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

Quick thoughts:

I received this book from Netgalley to give an honest review.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book – I have never read a novel by Django Wexley before. This is fantasy and action, with a hint of thriller in one book. We follow Alice into a mysterious world – one with talking cats and fairies. My initial thoughts are this: I did enjoy the book however I did find it a little slow. There is quite a lot in the book and a fair amount happens, yet I did catch myself checking to see how many pages were left. I am currently writing a full review of this book, but I would say this was an OK book – lots of adventure and fantasy, but I did think it dragged sometimes.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Book number 47 was in fact an audiobook! I wanted to listen to a book whilst I worked hard on making my Mum’s Christmas present so decided to listen to Frank E. Peretti because someone had said to me that Katy Hollway‘s novels are similar to his – and as I enjoy Hollway’s books I thought I would try out Peretti. I am pleased I did, I found this a really enjoyable book to listen too. It was engaging, full of action, with twists and turns. This is not young adult fiction like Hollway but so enjoyable. I have another Peretti book on my shelf which I am looking forward to reading (even though it is MASSIVE!)

Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Christian, fantasy
Published: 1986
Rating: 4 out of 5

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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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Book 22 in 2014 was Lauren Oliver’s Delirium. This is the first book in the Delirium series, which was first released in 2011, so like usual, I am late to read the series!

This was a book I was nervous about reading. This is a big series, on par with The Hunger Games and Twilight. I remember being nervous reading them too – the reason I was cautious is I worry I will be the only person in the world who doesn’t like the novel! As it happens, this book didn’t live up to expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this book, but it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. It took the first quarter of the book for anything to really happen, then the pace increased a bit, but it wasn’t until the final few pages that the excitement really hit the book. I did enjoy the story, and I have reserved the next book, Pandemonium, from the library; but that is the difference for me between this series and other great YA series that I have read – this time I am waiting for the book to come into the library, with the Divergent series I downloaded the second and third books as fast as I could.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2011
Rating: 3 out of 5

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