Elle McNicoll – A Kind of Spark

I picked up this book after seeing it advertised on social media by Waterstones and I didn’t really know what to expect, apart from the fact that the cover really stood out to me. I’m so glad I took a chance. In the book we meet Addie, an 11 year old girl from a small town in Scotland. When she learns at school that her town held witch trials, she immediately feels a connection to the women that were killed for being different...

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Tony Evans – A Kid’s Guide to the Names of Jesus

I requested this book as an advance reading copy from NetGalley as I thought it might be useful for my youth groups. Although the book is pitched at a lower age range than I usually teach, I thought it would have some material that would be helpful. And I think I was mostly right. I think actually if I was to use this book with my teenagers, I wouldn’t have to do much adaptation in terms of aging the material upwards as some of it was...

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She Reads Truth – Esther

I absolutely loved this study. I’ve been struggling to commit to spending time in my Bible and a two week study felt like a perfect opportunity in the run up to Lent. I knew the rough outline of the story of Esther, but this is the first time I’ve read the whole book through, and it was such an eye opener. First of all, I never realised that God isn’t mentioned by name in the whole book of Esther, because it feels really...

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Stephenie Meyer – Midnight Sun

Ahhhhhh nostalgia. This book felt like a hefty dose of comfort, taking me back to my teenage-self who read the Twilight series repeatedly for a few years. I loved those books so much, and although in hindsight they’re not the best books in the world, they’re what got me into reading fantasy, and for that I’m thankful. Midnight Sun is basically the first Twilight book (not all three, like I originally thought from the size...

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Sarah Bessey – A Rhythm of Prayer

I received this book as a free copy in exchange for a review from NetGalley. I thought this was a great collection of prayers and meditations, although like some previous NetGalley books, I think my experience was diminished by the fact it was an ebook not a physical copy (this is in no way a reflection on the book itself, I just feel like it would lend itself better to something physical). The book is comprised of contributions from a...

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Margery Williams – The Velveteen Rabbit

Before I read this book, I felt like I was very familiar with the story. I never read it as a child, but since using the Calm meditation app, this has become my favourite sleep story read by Anna Acton. It turns out, however, that the sleep story is so good at its job that I was only really familiar with the first quarter of the book and the rest was completely unknown. If you’ve not read it, the story is about a toy rabbit made from...

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Cecelia Ahern – Postscript

PS, I Love You was my favourite book for a very long time but as it came out so long ago I had resigned myself to never hearing anything else about Holly and her beloved Gerry. So when I saw that there was actually finally a sequel, it was a must read! In fact, I was so excited that I also ordered a copy for my sister too. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers here, but this is in the blurb so I think it’s okay –...

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Rev. Chris Lee – The OMG Effect

I’ve been following Rev. Chris on instagram for a while and have loved his 60 second sermons that he posts to give a brief moment of pause during the day. When I saw that he was bringing out a book, I had to pre-order it. Each chapter in the book starts with one of Chris’ 60 second sermons, then continues on with that topic. Topics including Positivity, Prayer, Humble Confidence, Death and Grief, and Love. Each chapter is...

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Sister Wendy Beckett – The Art of Holy Week and Easter

Having no art background and having not ever gone to art galleries or spent time looking at art, I’m probably not the target audience for this book. But then again, maybe I’m exactly the target audience, because I found this book absolutely fascinating. Filled with some pictures that I’d seen before and a lot I’d never come across, this book opened my eyes to the deeper meanings behind the canvas. Each picture...

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Alice Broadway – Scar

The blurb of this book calls this the ‘explosive finale’, but I have to admit, unfortunately I think this was my least favourite of the trilogy. The first two books were really fast paced and I felt compelled to keep reading, but I felt like this one was just slower and not quite as gripping. And to be honest, the ending left me feeling quite disappointed. I’m not sure if I just didn’t ‘get it’, but it...

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Alice Broadway – Spark

This review contains spoilers for the first book in the series – if you’ve not read it yet, look away now! At the end of book one (Ink), Leora’s world is turned completely upside down. Everything she thought she knew about her life is in question, she doesn’t even know who her parents are (literally and metaphorically). And now, she’s a pawn in Mayor Longsight’s game. Sent back to her blank...

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Alice Broadway – Ink

First book of 2021 and it was a good one! For some reason, despite going to bed at 1am, I woke up at 3.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I thought I’d read to make me sleepy, but this book was so gripping that I couldn’t put it down. Leora lives in a world with no secrets. Everything about you is inked on your body – your age, your occupation, things you’ve done wrong. Imagine living in a world where everyone...

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Michelle Magorian – Goodnight Mister Tom

I think I read this book a few times in primary school, but I didn’t have many memories of it apart from finding it quite emotional, so I thought I’d try it again, given it’s part of my 100 book reading challenge poster that my sister bought me. Despite it being more than 20 years later, I still found this book highly emotional, it’s impossible not to find an instant bond with young Willie as he arrives in the...

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N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season

I was recommended this book by a few people at work when I had some money to spend on my Waterstones card, and I’m always glad to find a great new fantasy series to get stuck into. I do have mixed feelings though. The first part dealt with some pretty awful topics that would probably have stopped me from reading if the books hadn’t had such good recommendations, and I found the first 150 or so pages pretty slow paced so it took me...

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Lenny Duncan – Dear Church

This is possibly one of the most passionate books I’ve read in a long time – the subtitle was “A love letter from a black preacher to the whitest denomination in the U.S.”, and that’s exactly what it felt like – a love letter. A book that raises as many potentially ‘controversial’ points as this one could easily be seen as provocative and argument-starting, but the whole book is written from a...

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Lindsey Kelk – A Girl’s Best Friend

As seems to be the standard in this series, we start this book with another opening chapter which is a flash forward to the future. It becomes clear pretty quickly that we’re at a wedding. But what is not quite so clear is who is getting married. To start with, I was leaning towards Tess. But then Charlie arrives. And then Nick arrives. What is happening?! Then we flash back a few weeks, and we find out that the wedding is Kekipi and...

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Lindsey Kelk – What a Girl Wants

Following on from the first book in this series, What a Girl Wants starts with another dramatic opening. Tess and Amy are in a prison cell, but we have absolutely no idea what has happened in the lead up to this moment. We’re then transported back in time and left on tenterhooks waiting to catch up. Definite spoilers for the first book here, so back away if you haven’t read the first in the series yet! At the end of the first...

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Lindsey Kelk – About a Girl

This book was just what I needed, taking me away to Hawaii for a day and away from the miserable grey rain outside – it genuinely made me feel so happy. The book starts with quite a dramatic opening where Tess’ life seems to be coming to a slight dramatic point and just when you’re wondering what the heck is happening, we skip back in time to when the whole tale started. Tess is the kind of woman who has a plan for her...

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Austin Channing Brown – I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to educate myself on topics that are out of my comfort zone. It’s become abundantly clear this year through many things that have happened that it’s not enough not to be racist, but you need to be actively anti-racist too. And the only way I can think of being able to do that is to educate myself more around the problems that I could not even dream of. This book was a very...

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Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I’ve had this book on my shelf since it came out a few years ago and I’ve kept looking past it because I thought it was going to be similar to other books I’d read. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I thought at the start that I had the measure of the book, socially awkward Eleanor and the person who brings her out of her shell. But I was completely wrong, and in the worst possible way. The book was heartbreaking and...

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Colin Marshall & Tony Payne – The Trellis and the Vine

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a few people from Church. As is clearly obvious, things are not normal at the moment and of course Church has been affected by that. Almost every activity we do has been cancelled or materially altered in some way, and as we start to look to ‘the new normal’, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a deep breath and evaluate what and how we’re doing. As I’m sure it did...

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