Max Lucado – You’ll Get Through This

You'll Get Through This

I feel like God really needed me to read this book. At Church at the moment we’ve been talking about Joseph, and with our youth group as well, plus my Bible in One Year app went through the story of Joseph at exactly the same time, and then I open up this book and find that it’s entirely about Joseph too. Too much of a coincidence to not be intended.

And right now the story of Joseph was just what I needed to read. The amount of suffering he went through in this life was obviously uncomparable to anything that I could ever go through, but what we learn from his story is that when you’re going through something that seems unbearably hard, God intends good for it and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. As the blurb says:

You’ll get through this.
It won’t be painless.
It won’t be quick.
But God will use this mess for good.
Don’t be foolish or naive.
But don’t despair either.
With God’s help, you’ll get through this.

And as the author says: “Deliverance is to the Bible what jazz music is to Mardi Gras: bold, brassy, and everywhere.”. We just need to trust God to deliver us from whatever evil is present in our lives.

Interspersed with anecdotes about people who have entered Max’s life and can be related directly to the different times of trouble that Joseph went through, the book was filled with hope for a better future and comforting words that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

I’ll never read the story of Joseph in the same way again. It’s a story we’ve probably all ready many times from our childhood, but I’ve never sat down and specifically thought about how many times Joseph was thrown to the ground and disregarded, yet he ended up in charge of all Egypt and responsible for making sure the nation didn’t die from the famine – all because he kept an unwavering trust that God was with him and would deliver him from those situations.

If you’re going through a tough time, this book may be just what you need.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2013
Number of Pages: 195
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 22nd January 2018 – 31st January 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.44
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Emily Barr – The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks

I think the biggest mistake I made when reading this book was not actually reading it. I decided to listen to it as an audio book, but I’m not sure it really worked for me.

The main character is called (unsurprisingly) Flora Banks, and (also unsurprisingly) she has memory problems, namely anterograde amnesia. This means that she can’t form new memories. Every half an hour or so her memories reset and she can’t remember anything since she was a child. The only clues she has are the ones she leaves for herself, notes in her notebook, post it notes, and mainly messages scrawled on her arm – the main of which simply says ‘Flora, be brave’.

My main problem with this as an audiobook is that due to Flora’s problems, there are a lot of repeated parts of the book when her memories reset and she discovers herself again. Normally if I was reading, I’d start to skim- read these after a while, but with the audio book I had no choice but to listen to them. It also didn’t help that the narrator had a really slow speaking voice, I had to listen at 1.5 speed to keep the pace going.

Problems with the format of the book aside, I actually found the story captivating. As instructed by her arm, Flora was a very brave girl, conquering things that even I would be scared of. Sometimes foolhardy and slightly lovey-soppy, but mainly due to her condition, she was a very likeable character.

We start the book with Flora remembering something for the first time in years. This has never happened to her before and it starts her off on a crazy chase across the world to find the boy who sparked it all.

But as she goes on this grand adventure, the story around her amnesia seems to be unravelling, it’s  just that as a reader you’re not quite sure what to trust and I was kept on tenterhooks to the very end – I’d definitely never have guessed what was coming.

I did feel slightly disappointed by the very end, I was expecting something a bit more, I’m not exactly sure what, but it didn’t seem quite finished off to me.

I think I’d like to actually read this book at some point to see if the experience is different, but I’m still giving this 4 out of 5 since I was so hooked!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 311
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 1st January 2018 – 28th January 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.54
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Becky Albertalli – The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited

I have to admit I only picked this book because the cover jumped out at me when I was scrolling through the library ebook app. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

But I did, and it was a mistake,  I just couldn’t get into this book at all. It felt hugely predictable to me which definitely diminishes the enjoyment I get, I want some surprises thrown in to keep me on my toes!

And it might just have been me, but it felt like the author was trying to throw in as many stereotypes and minorities into the book as she could. I’m all for full representation and diversity in literature, but I feel like it just felt forced in many places, and it felt like the author put more effort into doing that than giving the characters personalities that I could actually relate to.

Apart from that, this book just felt like many many other books in this genre, overweight girl who has never been kissed is desperate not to be a virgin anymore and feels like her life is terrible, until the hot guy falls in love with her and everything is right with the world again. To me, I don’t really think that’s a very empowering message to send – I’d rather the girl figures out that her life is good without the boy.

Clearly this is a popular book as it has a lot of good ratings on Goodreads, but just not for me!

My Rating: 2/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 352
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 14th January 2018 – 18th January 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.03
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Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin

This book has more ups and downs than a fairground roller coaster. If you’d asked me at the start to predict what would happen, I would probably have given you a fairly detailed description. But it would all have been completely wrong. So many shock twists that I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash.

Just as you think a character is good, it turns out that he’s not so good any more. But wait, is he really bad or might he actually be good. Sigh. So hard to keep up with, but oh so thrilling.

For 700 pages, this book went by oh so quickly. As I reached the end, I was longing for more. Over the last three books I’ve grown to love Feyre, she is definitely a strong character with her own mind, not content to sit and pine for her gorgeous mate, but willing to risk her life to save everyone again and again. That said, there were times when she was slightly reckless, but things always seemed to work out well for her.

But although I like Feyre running off and being kick-ass on her own, I also loved the times when she and Rhys were talking quietly (or even not out loud at all). You really got a sense of their connection and the more sensitive sides of both their characters. In fact, this book definitely shows you a different side to many of the characters. They’re not all war-hungry and bravado-filled, but they all bring different strengths to this epic fight that they’re undertaking.

And epic it is, so much drama packed into one book. Everytime I thought I was reading what would be the main part of the book, I’d read a bit further and realise that the bit I’d just read was nothing compared to what was coming.

Like the previous two books, this one has its fair share of steamy moments, and I would definitely be in two minds whether it’s appropriate for teenagers, I’d definitely think it’s aimed at older teenagers and young adults rather than a complete teen book. There are also some quite troubling violent scenes that wouldn’t be appropriate for those that are younger.

I think my top five favourite things about this book are:

  1. Feyre and Rhys. Their relationship just gives me all the feels.
  2. Lucien is back. I sorta shipped him and Feyre in the first book, so was glad to see him return.
  3. Well written battles – so many of them! The final battle, I have no words for.
  4. The library. Such a different side to Rhys to see this place where he cares for these abused women with no expectations of anything in return.
  5. Nesta and Elain and Feyre back together again.

I’d love love love to read more stories set in this world, I think the other courts definitely have their own stories to tell. I look forward to see what is coming next.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 699
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 29th December 2017 – 14th January 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.53
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J.K. Rowling – The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The last of the three Hogwarts Library books, and book 52 of the year (hooray!). This was my favourite of the three, it felt more familiar to me and seemed exactly like the books of stories I used to read as a child (minus the magic of course). You can definitely imagine that it would be read by little wizard children, and it’s a very clever set of stories by J.K. Rowling.

The book consists of five short tales, followed by an explanation from Dumbledore about the back-story of the tale or the moral or how well received it was by young wizards. These little explanations really do make the book, as the stories are not always as you would think!

It was nice to finally read the tale of Babbity Rabbity after I’d heard it mentioned so many times by Ron in the Deathly Hallows.  Which of course leads me to my favourite of the tales – The Tale of the Three Brothers.

If you can read this story without hearing it in Hermione’s voice, I’ll be amazed. Having watched the Deathly Hallows so many times, this story felt incredibly familiar, and that’s probably the reason it’s my favourite. While reading it, I could even see the animations in my head.

“There were once three brothers who were travelling along a lonely, winding road at twilight…”

So yes, this was a great book to end the year on. As well as lovely tales, the illustrations were beautiful and it was just a joy to read.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2007
Number of Pages: 109
Format: Hardback
Date Read: 30th December 2017 – 31st December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.07
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J.K. Rowling – Quidditch Through the Ages

Quidditch Through the Ages

Yay! Illustrations! The one thing I thought was missing from Fantastic Beasts, it really helped to complete this book. Interspersed throughout, and still only very crude sketches, I was so happy! I know, it probably makes me a child, but if this was supposed to be a proper textbook (as with Fantastic Beasts), one would like to think it would have even the most basic pictures.

I can’t imagine as a student of Hogwarts, any of the students would have read a textbook which was non-stop text, with the exception of Hermione of course!


Cushioning Charm

I really felt like this read like a real textbook, if I hadn’t known that Quidditch wasn’t a real sport, I would have been utterly convinced (although try telling that to these guys):

Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography

I really appreciated that the history of Quidditch was so thorough, with lovely anecdotes spread throughout to make it super-realistic. As well as the history of the sport itself, it goes into detail on the history of the balls and broomsticks, as well as giving you an overview of the 13 league teams.

I definitely preferred this book to Fantastic Beasts, although again, a full illustrated version would certainly be much better!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2001
Number of Pages: 105
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 30th December 2017 – 30th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.86
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J.K. Rowling – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Considering this has been out for so long and been sitting on my shelf pretty much since it was released, I can’t believe I haven’t read it properly. I think I flipped through it quickly when it was bought, but it didn’t have a ‘read’ date on Goodreads. And since I have 2 days left to read 3 books in my 2017 challenge, it seemed like this would be perfect.

I found this book quite informative, reading a bit more about creatures you hear about during the Harry Potter books/movies. I do wish I’d read it properly before I saw the Fantastic Beasts film though as I would have had more of an idea what the creatures were.

My main complaint with this book was that it was just text. I know there’s now an illustrated version, but I did think there might have been some sketches in of some of the creatures and I found it a bit disappointing that there weren’t. I did, however, like the little doodles that had been ‘added by Harry and Ron’. Like this delightful one:

Childish but fun nonetheless.

Being so short and with such large text, it was a quick read and quite pleasant, but I think I will enjoy the illustrated version much more!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2001
Number of Pages: 123
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 29th December 2017 – 30th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.96
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Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury

It’s official. I’m not the smartest person. 3 days to go on my 2017 book challenge and 5 books left to read, and I go and pick a book that’s more than 600 pages long. Unfortunately I think that might have tainted my appreciation slightly as I was so annoyed with myself, but I’ll try not to let that affect my review!

We left the first book in this series in a really interesting place, Feyre had returned to the spring court with Tamlin, but bound to Rhys for one week a month as part of the bargain for saving her. Regardless, Feyre is happy as it means she can be with the love of her life. And of course the small matter that Feyre is now an immortal Fae, a conversion necessary to stop her from dying.

But quite quickly, the dream with Tamlin shatters, as he leaves her alone in the house for long periods of time, won’t let her join in with anything more dangerous than eating her lunch, and then resorts to locking her in the house to prevent her from leaving.

But still, she loves him and is going ahead with the plans to marry him as soon as possible. But of course, Rhys isn’t happy with those plans and turns up in the middle of the ceremony to take Feyre away to the Night Court. But this seems like it may be a blessing in disguise, as Feyre soon realises that her life with Tamlin was no life at all.

But her life with Rhys is about to get much more complicated, and much more dangerous…

I won’t go too much further into the plot as I don’t want to give away more spoilers than I already have, but all I will say is that this book for the most part feels action packed all the way through. There were a few times when it felt like it was going a bit slowly, but those parts didn’t last long.

I stand by my comment on my review of the first book in this series that although this might be a ‘young adult’ book, it’s definitely not aimed at the younger end of the spectrum. There’s quite a lot of graphic content in there which wouldn’t be appropriate.

And the ending. Wow, the ending. Nothing that I expected at all and leaving my thirsting for more, desperate to know what Feyre and Rhys will do next. I’m so glad I have the third book in this series checked out of the library already so I don’t have to wait, although I think I’ll wait a couple of days til the first of January so I can complete the last 3 books of my challenge first!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 626
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 28th December 2017 – 29th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.71
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Lauren Graham – Talking As Fast As I Can

Talking As Fast As I Can

I was a late-comer to the world of Gilmore Girls, I’d heard of it of course, but only started to watch it when it came to Netflix last year. And what’s not to like, a program about an independent woman and her equally independent daughter, who just so happens to love books…

I binge watched the whole thing on Netflix in a matter of weeks, so when I read that Lauren Graham had written an autobiography that obviously covered her time on Gilmore Girls and the reboot, I knew I wanted to read it.

While reading, it was hard to tell the difference between Lauren and Lorelai, they seem to have very similar personalities, bubbly and chatty and unable to stop talking. This  felt more like a nice chat with a friend over a glass of wine than a 200+page book, I read the whole thing in one go, staying up til after 1am to finish reading. In fact, if I’d read the back of the book before I dived in, I would have read this, which couldn’t have been more true:

This book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

If you ever watched the Gilmore Girls, I would definitely recommend this as a lovely sneak peek inside that world, as well as finding out more about what makes Lauren tick and what lead her to Lorelai.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 27th December 2017 – 27th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.02
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Jenna Lucado Bishop – Love Is…

Love Is...

Now that I’ve finished this book, I have mixed thoughts. It was supposed to be read as a six week bible study, but I read it as a more intense read in just two days, so it may be partly my fault, but I do think that there wouldn’t have been enough content to keep me interested for six whole weeks.

I did, however, love the premise of the book. Aimed at teenagers, it’s a redefinition of what we think of the word ‘love’. It’s not the smushy proposals we see in films, or big grand gestures, but in actuality, love is a person: Jesus Christ.

Over the course of the book, we see how Jesus shows examples of love through six different interactions, including Jairus and his ‘dead’ daughter, and the bleeding woman who had such faith that just a touch of his cloak healed her.

It seemed like the content of the book was well researched and claims were backed up with references which I really liked. But I found the tone of the book a bit too casual, it was very conversational as if you were sat in the room with the author, which was a bit off-putting for me – others may like it though!

The other thing that annoyed me a little was the fact that the bible verses being discussed weren’t printed in the book.  None of them were particularly long, but it meant that I had to keep my Bible open at the same time as well. Not so much a problem when I’m reading at home, but if I had been reading this on the bus to work, it would have been frustrating to say the least.

I’d still recommend this book, but I’d say maybe read it over a longer period of time than I did. Maybe not 6 weeks, but over six sessions perhaps.

My Rating: 3/5
Year Published: 2013
Number of Pages: 144
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 26th December 2017 – 27th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4
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