Title: The Magician’s Nephew
Author: C. S. Lewis
Published: 1955
Genre: Children’s novels

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

The adventure begins…
On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them.
But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia.
And in Narnia, all things are possible.

Review:

This is the first book in the wonderful Chronicles of Narnia series, written by C. S. Lewis. It is the second time I have read this book as an adult – although I remember having this collection of stories growing up so I must have read them as a child too. My review of this book, from 2008, is here.

I loved this book. We meet Aslan, and we see Narnia created. I was enjoying the story up to that point, but as soon as we met Aslan and he sang Narnia into being, the beginning of the book was basically forgotten for me! It is beautiful. One of my friends said that is her favourite chapter of all time, and it is easy to see why. The magic and the wonder are breath taking.

This series of books is meant for children, but they are wonderful reads. I was drawn in, and transported into those other worlds with ease and enjoyment. Like a lot of people, I know the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe really well, and this novel, The Magician’s Nephew, gives us a lot of background information and ties very neatly into the series. It is in this book we learn about The Witch – an evil, angry, proud woman who just wants power and minions; we discover how the lamp post arrives in Narnia; and how the wardrobe becomes the entrance into Narnia.

As when I last read this book, my favourite character is Aslan. He is fierce, yet gentle. He is powerful, yet so caring. When he was talking to Digory, who was sad that his mother was so ill, Aslan was compassionate and kind. The character of Aslan is based on God – our Heavenly Father – and it was an amazing read, and a great reminder of who God is, and what His character is like.

I loved this book. It was an easy read, but so enjoyable. I can’t recommend it enough. The highlight for me was the creation of Narnia – its just a shame that the Witch and Uncle Andrew had to feature at that point! I am rating this book 4 out of 5, and cannot wait to read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

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Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse…

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…

From an author who has described all of Henry’s queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a medieval killer.

This is number 4 in the Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory, and the star of this novel is Kateryn Parr – Henry VIII’s six and final wife. Shortly after her second husband dies, she is summoned to court to marry the King. The problem is, he is a very dangerous man. He has killed two wives, watched one die in child birth and divorced two others. If he gets bored of you, he can get rid of you, no questions asked. Kateryn has to be very careful in all she does. However, she is ambitious. She wants to see reform to the church, she wants to study and she wants to write. Plus, she is in love with another man; but if this knowledge gets out she could die.

I think I have enjoyed all the novels by Philippa Gregory that I have read, and this one is no exception. It wasn’t my favourite though. There were times when I felt the storyline was a bit slow and I found myself losing a bit of interest. However, the ending made up for it. It was dramatic and tense. It is common knowledge that Parr survives the King, but I found myself desperate to know she does it, as he is not happy with her all the time. The drama and suspense was really good. There were elements of this story I didn’t like though. I didn’t find the sex scenes added anything to the story. They were a bit too descriptive for my liking, and too frequent.

As a Christian, I did find the church debate throughout the book really interesting. Henry VIII made the Church of England, and placed himself at the head of it, when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. As an old man though, he was still thinking of the changes he could make the church – does he make the country Catholic again, or does he go down the Lutheran way of thinking? Kateryn was a reformer, but not all of Henry’s advisors were, and she found herself walking a difficult and potentially dangerous path.

I wasn’t a massive fan of Kateryn. She was quite arrogant and proud. However, she was the only queen to unite the Tudor children, so she should be commended for that. I really didn’t like Henry. He was a mean, vindictive and untrusting man, who would kill you without any thought. Goodness, you wouldn’t want to be in Parr’s position – having to marry him because he is King, then spending all her time trying to stay alive. There were scenes in the book I didn’t like much either – particularly how Henry punished Kateryn.

I am rating this book 3 out of 5. As I have said, there were times in this book I lost interest, but overall, this was a good read. I didn’t know much about Parr, so it was an education for me. I also found the theology debates really interesting. The outcome of this book was obviously not a surprise, but it was a good read nevertheless; and I will be looking to read the other books in the Tudor Court series.

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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!

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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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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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Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Christian, fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would he answer?

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Cafe, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Cafe, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now thecafe has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask, and heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

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

I have read several books by Max Lucado over the past few years but I have never read a fiction novel by him before. I didn’t know what to expect. I really like his theological books – I find them so easy to read and very helpful for my walk with God, but what was his fiction going to be like? Well, I loved this book!

This story follows Chelsea, recently single with two children, reopening her family’s cafe. She has taken a big, risky step, and things don’t really go to plan. She is helped by Manny, her strange new employee. He gets a very interesting internet router installed. This connection only loads one page: the God Blog. This is a place where you get the opportunity to ask God just one question. This draws in the crowds, but still leaves Chelsea at sea when it comes to her private life and her faith. This story follows her through this transition into a new life. Will she repair her marriage? Will she find God? Will her business survive?

This book had me gripped from the start. I liked Chelsea. I felt for her as she struggled with her public break-up, as she had to face her husband’s infidelity in front of the world, and I really wanted her to succeed in her new cafe. She had a damaged outlook on life, and I liked watching her soften as the book went on. I thought she was well written and so easy to like. I could imagine her in real life, facing the everyday struggles. She had to face debt, hostility from family and her own shame. This book took her on quite the adventure and I enjoyed watching her walk through this season.

This book has two elements: the natural world and the supernatural. I seem to be reading a lot of books at the moment which feature guardian angels – Katy Hollway’s The Remnant Chronicles and Frank E. Peretti’s This Present Darkness. This novel also has guardian angels, and I love how Lucado uses the angels to explain how God is always with us and always by our side. I liked the element of the supernatural, it added another level to the book. Lucado was able to use this idea to show darkness can creep into our lives and yet how with one prayer the light pierces the darkness.

This is a great story. Like I have said, I was gripped from the start. I read this book in one day – each time I could grab this book I did. This was easy to read and so enjoyable. Some of the storyline was a bit predictable and some of it seemed a little far fetched, but I found it really enjoyable. What I liked most was that at the end of the story, Lucado takes us to Jesus on the cross and reminds us of what He did for us there. We never have to walk through life alone because through Jesus’ death, He made a way for us to have a relationship with Father God. It was a gentle and powerful reminder of such an amazing truth.

I am rating this book 4 out of 5 because it is a great read. I did find some of it a bit predictable and some of it a little unbelievable, yet I loved this story. It was so good. Thank you Netgalley for letting me read it. This is a highly recommended read.

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Book number 53 was a review book from Netgalley. This is the first fiction book from Max Lucado which I have read and I loved it! I read this book in one day. It had an engaging story, characters I really warmed too and a lovely glimpse of the Gospel and all God has done for me. I won’t write anymore here as the review is to come, but safe to say, I loved this book and highly recommend it.

Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Christian, Fiction
Published: 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Addition:Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Christian, non-fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

We all pray . . . some.
We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. When the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart. We pray.

But wouldn’t we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? With more fire, faith, and fervency?

Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words. Unmet expectations. Unanswered requests.

We aren’t the first to struggle with prayer. The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too. In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested.

And Jesus gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Couldn’t we use the same?

In “Before Amen” best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. Let the conversation begin.

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

I requested Before Amen from Netgalley because I really like Max Lucado. I find him incredibly easy to read and all of the books I have read have made an impact in my life. I was really excited when I noticed that the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies was going to do a four week study through the book Before Amen. I decided as I had the book to review I would coincide it with this study, and I am really glad I did.

This is a book on prayer. It is clear, concise and easy to read. As the synopsis says, the only tutorial the disciples asked Jesus for was on prayer, so it is helpful for us to study prayer too. This book looks at all types of prayer and gives us different ways to pray. I really liked the “Pocket Prayer”:

This is such a simple, helpful prayer that is easy to remember and covers all bases. This prayer is used throughout the book. Alongside it, are other important truths:

I’m not going to have a review full of quotes from the book on pretty backgrounds, but you get the idea – this book is pure class. It is easy to read, clear and honest. The book looks at how to pray, our attitude towards prayer, how to pray for others and gratitude. I didn’t have a problem with any of the theology in this book. I agreed with all Lucado all the way through and it was a great reminder of how important prayer is.

I really liked the study questions too. It gave me a chance to process what I had read, think about my life and attitudes, and it gave me a chance to be before God.

This book is full of Scripture. This book is fully rooted in the Bible, and I really liked that. I was able to flick through my Bible and check out some great Scriptures that I could apply to my life.

If you want a book on prayer, this is it. Lucado is honest about his prayer life and he keeps taking us back to the Bible. This is not a long book, it only has nine chapters, but it was helpful and easy to read. The theology is easy to understand and apply to our lives. This is a great book on prayer and how it can change our lives and our walk with God.

It is easy to rate this book 4 out of 5 because it is simply a stunning book on prayer. Thank you Netgalley for letting me read it, and thank you Max Lucado for writing it, and helping me with my prayer life.

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Book number 51 was a Netgalley review book, which I read whilst participating in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies: Before Amen by Max Lucado.

I won’t write too much here as I am currently thinking through my review, but I will say, I loved this book. Such a helpful tool when it comes to looking at our prayer life. This isn’t a long book – just nine chapters, but with study questions to go alongside it, I found it really helpful. I was able to focus on God and learn more about Him. I was challenged and I think I have grown from this book. Well worth reading and applying to your life.

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

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Book number 48 was borrowed from a friend and an incredibly helpful read. Lysa TerKeurst is the President of the Proverbs 31 Ministries and has written many books. This is the first of her’s I have read, but I already have more to read!

This book focusses on how we change our food cravings to God cravings. It points us back to God. This book is full of Scripture and honesty. It challenges us and builds us up. I found it a really helpful book. My friend is re-reading it to help her refocus on God. It is easy to eat away our feelings but what we should be doing is looking to God. This book isn’t a diet plan and I don’t think that once you have read it all food problems will go away, but it is a gentle reminder that we need to turn to God not food and it is a helpful tool, pointing us to the Bible and what God has to say about food. This was such a good read.

Addition: Paperback, borrowed
Genre: Christian, non-fiction
Published: 2010
Rating: 3 out of 5

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