Sunday, 30 May 2021

Stories from the Heart for the Older Generation

 


Good morning, Bookaholics. Today I bring you a different book, which is packed full of inspiring stories from Nigeria. Whilst this isn't the sort of book I usually read or review, I was intrigued enough to want to read it. 

Stories From the Heart by Olusola  Sophia Anyanwu is essentially a book which teases out life's issues through the medium of story, an example being the story of a promiscuous lecturer and a young female student. This allows the reader to examine their own heart in response to the stories. Each story covers a different topic, each of which has an associated bible verse.  This is a Christian book meant for a Christian readership and each story comes from a Christian viewpoint. 

The book is written in Nigerian English which I initially struggled with, however, the stories themselves carried me through as the storytelling is strong and the stories interesting and very much rooted in life. Overall I enjoyed reading this book and would like to extend a hearty congratulations to the author on the publication of this short story collection. I do believe it will appeal to her intended readership of older readers. 

I was given a copy of this book as part of a blog tour. At no point was I asked to provide a positive review and the review is unbiased and based on my reading of the book. 

That is it for another day my bookaholic friends.  I will be back soon but until then keep reading and writing.

You can buy the books by clicking on the images below.

You can find out more about Sophia and her books below. 

https://www.austinmacauley.com/book/stories-heart


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stories-Heart-Olusola-Sophia-Anyanwu/dp/1398419303/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=9781398419308&qid=1621854822&sr=8-1

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57925652-stories-from-the-heart




Monday, 17 May 2021

Not Knowing But Still Going - Book Review

 


Good morning my Bookaholic friends, today's review is for a bit of a different book to my usual, but well worth your attention just the same. 

When I was offered this book to review I was intrigued by the premise; my interest was piqued to want to know more. We all feel we know the story of Noah, not only well but, intimately, so what more can be said. Quite a lot it would appear as Jocelyn-Anne Harvey has managed to put a unique spin on a familiar tale by telling it from the point of view of the women on the ark, and she then throws in another unique twist by using a mixture of both storytelling and facts. By this point in the process I was not just intrigued but hooked and wanted to read the book. 

I don't often start a blog with a picture of the author holding his or her book but there is a reason for it in this particular post. The picture of the author is on a beach and the journey of this book started on a beach. The idea was born when 2000 tonnes of wood were washed up on a beach in the author's home town and started her wondering about Noah's Ark. I love this story as it shows us that ideas for books can come from anywhere and God can often be found in the strangest of circumstance. 

In order to make the book more intimate, Harvey has named Noah's wife and daughter-in-laws which means that by the end of the book they seem like valued friends. The author tells their stories with skill and slowly, throughout each chapter, reveals a little more of their character and what their lives would have been like. I could feel their emotions in an almost palpable sense. There is careful attention to detail and the reader gets a sense of them through their support of their husbands, the provisions they chose to take on the journey, and the tasks they may have carried out whilst on the ark, and there is so much more to it than that. The storytelling element of the book is both powerful and enjoyable.

However, there is so much more to this book than the story. It is packed with historical facts which are both fascinating and enlightening. The book is extremely well researched not only using the Bible but also historical and contemporary articles. These facts enhance the narrative and lift it to another level. You may be thinking at this point that the research may make the book less than interesting but nothing could be further from the truth. A skilled writer, Harvey presents them in such a way that they are brought to life. I found myself amazed at the things I did not know and genuinely wanted to know more. I am in awe of the amount of research that the author must have done to bring this book to fruition.

In addition to the above the book also draws parallels between Noah's story and our own lives today - not shying away from the current pandemic. It does not focus on the pandemic but it is mentioned. Backed up with bible verses it allows you to examine your own life and your relationship with God. It encourages you to be introspective and to apply the lessons learned to your walk with God in your everyday life. It does so, not only through the text but in the chapter contemplations and journal pages at the end of each chapter. This is not a read it and put it to one side type of book. It is designed to be read and applied whatever your current circumstances. The addition of prayers at the end of each chapter helps you to focus on God. Whilst I read it straight through for the purposes of this review, I did go back and read a couple of chapters the way the book was intended. This proved to be a powerful exercise that truly made me search my heart. 

It is obvious that the author's Christian faith is strong and this shines through on each page. This may be, on the surface, just another story of Noah, but it is a far cry from that. It is deep, thought provoking and powerful. It is also a great encouragement that whatever your circumstances, even if you do not know what lies ahead, you should keep going and trust in God's love and that he has everything under control. 

I believe this is the author's first book and, if so, I congratulate her. Jocelyn Anne-Harvey is definitely one to watch and I would categorically have no hesitation in buying more books when she writes them. 

You can buy the books from any Bookshop, Barnabas Christian Bookshop,  Eden, or from Amazon via the links below.

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More about the author.

Jocelyn-Anne loves the Lord, learning and literature. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, and her flash fiction has been published. Having taken the leap from her senior HR role in the UK Government, Jocelyn-Anne can identify with those walking through uncertain times, and she is passionate about supporting others through theirs and helping them develop. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in a coffee shop with friends, exploring coastal paths or trying out recipes.

I would like to thank the Publisher, Instant Apostle for a review copy of this book. At no point was I asked to provide a positive review and the review is based on my reading of and enjoyment of the book. Please note these are affiliate links and I will receive a few pence from the sale of each book. 

That's it for another day Bookaholics. See you soon with another enlightening blog post. I would encourage all Christians to read this book you won't regret it. I, for one, cannot wait to read it again, in the manner in which it deserves, and to strengthening my journey with God in the process. 


 



Monday, 10 May 2021

Leah: Unnoticed. Unwanted. Unloved. Should be read

 



Hello,  my Bookaholic friends. Today's blog comes from a completely different angle as I was honoured to be the editor of this book and to support Amanda while she wrote it. When Amanda approached me and said she wanted to write a book about Leah and she was hoping that I would agree to edit it, I was thrilled. Firstly, I know Amanda is a woman who has a passion for bringing out the story of the women in the Bible; women who can often be forgotten. I also know she is a faithful woman of God herself. 

Secondly, I agreed with her that Leah's story was one which needed to be told. Personally, I think she had a jolly raw deal and dealt with it beautifully, maintaining her faith in God through many heartaches and trials.  When I first saw the manuscript it was obvious that this was the vision that Amanda also had for the story. Yes, like any book, there were changes to be made, but we worked together to ensure the final product was polished and told Leah's story in the best way possible. Amanda is a confident and outstanding storyteller, yet was willing to make changes to strengthen the narrative.

This process has meant that Amanda has brought Leah's story to life. The characters leap off the page and into your heart and you will find your emotions being pulled in every direction. This is a book which will appeal to Christian women, and yet I feel non Christians will also enjoy it. Many women will find something of themselves in the pages.

Well done, Amanda, and congratulations on the release of your book. 


You can also buy it from all bookshops, including your local Christian bookshop. 

If You would like to find out more about Amanda and her books, you can do so here

I am delighted to be part of the Reading Between the Lines Blog Tour for this book.  You will be able to find out more about Amanda and the book all this week. Details are in the image below. 




That’s it for another day Bookaholics.  If you get the book, you won’t regret it. See you soon but until then keep reading and keep writing. 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

 


Good morning bookaholics. I know many of you are allowed out again and will be catching up with the things you couldn’t do for some time. However, this means you can once more grab a coffee in your favourite cafe and sit down an relax with a good book. There’s always a reason to read. The book I bring you today is well worth reading. 

A young man, Gax, enters unseen in the dead of night to Elabi, a city where all is not as well as its inhabitants want you to think. With every aspect of their lives controlled, no one in Elabi is allowed to think for themselves and each one believes this is for their own good. With a hierarchical system everyone aspires to climb, no one wants to step out of line. However, Gax is a man with a mission, that mission being to change the hearts and minds of those who live in the city.

This is not the usual sort of book I read but I can tell you I was spellbound and could not wait to find out what happened next. A beautifully written book, it is set in an alternate reality, but one which the author sets to perfection. Maressa Mortimer had me almost believing I was there. The characters pop off the page and each and every one of them is individual and lifelike. I found myself loving and hating them in turn. I could feel the tension inherent in living such a tightly controlled life and was rooting for the characters, Gax especially, every step of the way. 

This is the first in a new series and I cannot wait for the next one. Whether this is your usual reading matter or not, I would  encourage you to read it.  You may very well find yourself hooked as I was.

That’s it for another day my bookaholic friends. See you back here soon but until then, keep reading and keep writing. 




Thursday, 1 April 2021

Count Our Blessings Book Review




Good morning Bookaholics. This may be April Fools' Day but I can assure you this book review is one hundred percent genuine. I bring you this book because I loved it on so many levels. 

I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone in terms of reading and as it is also Easter, I took the opportunity to read the latest book by Fiona Linday. The subtitle of the book is, Short stories of identity and hope and, given the current pandemic, I feel that we can all do with a healthy dollop of hope. I wasn't sure what I was expecting from the book to be honest but what I found was a book which intrigued and enticed, which made me think and ponder, which made me reach down inside myself and find a strength I didn't know I had. 


As is indicated from the subtitle, the book is a mixture of short stories and poems around different themes. Each is written from the heart and touches your mind, your heart and your soul. They are both simple and profound, both accessible and complex and each reading brings something new to the literary table. Linday, a gifted writer uses every word to good effect weaving a tapestry of hope for these troubled times. It is a Christian book which has God at the very heart of it. It draws you closer to him and allows the reader to see the hope which can only come from God. 

It reaches through the generations and I feel readers of all ages would be attracted to its message. Linday uses tales from her own life and I particularly liked the poem which she wrote as I child at school and which was subsequently published. It's simplicity drew me in and allowed me to see things with fresh eyes - something repeated throughout the book.

This is not a book to rush through but a book to read, ingest and think about. It is a book which can be read again and again, allowing the reader to relax in its words and to feel the warmth of its literary embrace and as the title says Count Our Blessings. It is perfect, not only for Easter but, for any time of the year and would make a thoughtful present. 

      


You can buy the book from your local Christian bookshop when open, or via the links above. 

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for review purposes. At no point was I asked to provide a positive review, it is based on my reading and enjoyment of the book. The links above are affiliate links and I will receive a few pence if you buy the book. 


Sunday, 14 March 2021

The Diary of Isabella M Smugge - a perfect read, darlings.




Good morning, Bookaholics and a lovely morning it is too. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and it's a perfect day to curl up in the conservatory and read - I have just the book for you in order to help you do that.

It’s not often a book comes along that makes you laugh, cry, and take stock, then do it all again in just a matter of a few breaths. This debut novel by Ruth Leigh did that for me. This is chick lit with passion and a purpose, that purpose being to make you take a look at the way you live your life and the way you portray yourself on social media. It certainly made me take stock of the way I portray my life to others. The book is also pure entertainment from the first page to the last. A skilled writer, Leigh uses every word in the book to draw the reader in and make them keep reading. Using words, she paints a portrait of village life, how it really is, and paints a portrait of characters for who they really are.

So, what is the book about?

We all know her name should be pronounced Smug but of course, Isabella herself pronounces it like the word Bruges. Isabella is a pretentious Instagram influencer whose every living moment is catalogued on social media. Her obsession to have the most followers, likes, and comments, means that everything she does, either alone or with her family, is driven by how it will look on social media. Every moment of their lives is captured on camera and shared with millions. At the beginning of the book, she is newly settled in a Georgian pile in the country, having left her life in London, and, therefore, all her friends, behind. She immediately sets to getting to know the neighbours, but this proves more difficult than she could ever imagine. She soon finds out the villagers are harder to win over than she at first thought. Her life seems picture perfect in a shallow way, but we soon come to realise that there is more depth to Isabella than can be seen on the surface. As her life begins to unravel, she grows and develops and comes to realise the people around her are more than just an opportunity to diarise her life on Instagram. The more you read the more you come to understand and sympathise with her. My emotions were all over the place and I found myself hoping everything would turn out well for our heroine despite her being a grade A snob.

This is also a book which deals with Faith. Becoming friends with the local Vicar's wife opens Isabella up to the possibility that there may be more to life than she believes. It opens her up to the possibility that the church is more than just a place to see and be seen and as a new opportunity to paint her perfect life on Instagram.

The characterisation is truly brilliant, showing every aspect of human nature you can possibly imagine. I loved characters, hated them, and then fell in love with them again. Every one of them was real to me and I would love to have them as friends. Well, most of them anyway. Some I would like to boot out and lock the door, just as Leigh intended. She has a rare insight into the human psyche and this comes across in the characters she writes. 

This book is absolutely fabulous, darlings. It makes you want to break out the champagne and your best crystal goblets whilst realising you should keep both feet very firmly fixed on the ground. It is one of the best books I have read this year and would highly recommend you read it. Now, If you will excuse me, I'm off to share this on social media and see how many likes, shares and followers I get. Oops. Maybe I should go and read the book again. I would urge you to buy a copy, you will not regret it. As I say, pure entertainment from first word to last. 

You can buy signed copies of the book from Ruth Leigh's Website any good bookshop or alternatively you can buy the kindle version from the links below. Please note these are affiliate links and if you choose to use them I will receive a small renumeration. 

You can follow Ruth on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter 

    


That's it for another day, Bookaholics. I'm off to find my next read, although that will be after I do some writing. After all, I need to get my own books finished too.  

 

 

Saturday, 13 March 2021

The Healing - a book no one should miss reading.


Good morning Bookaholics. I may not have been with you for a few weeks but I was holding off to bring you my review of a newly published book. I am sure you will agree it was worth the wait. 

I am struggling to know where to start to review this book because there is so much I want to say, each part of which deserves to be first. Therefore I will start by saying congratulations to this debut author for a work of fiction which has truly blown me away. I read a lot and yet it is rare that a book moves me so deeply or makes me think so deeply. The Healing has done just that. 

Margetts is a skilled writer with a true gift for words - that is apparent on every page of this, her first, novel. She uses words to good effect to draw the reader in and guide them through the highs and lows of emotions. The premise of the story is that in the year 1231 a nobleman, Philip de Braose is grievously injured and is rescued from certain death by Brother Hywel a Cistercian Monk. We see Philip as he starts to heal from his wounds and yet it is obvious he also requires both emotional and mental healing, not so easily obtained. The readers joins Philip and Hywel as they journey from France back to Wales and the monastery in which Hywel is based. 

The characterisation is outstanding. Margetts draws them to perfection and pulls the readers inside their heads. Philip is a broken man but the author handles this with gentleness and deftness allowing us to see the swings in his mood and yet keeping the character relatable and likeable. As the book progresses she gently teases out different aspects of his character allowing the reader to immerse themselves in his journey to restoration and transformation. Brother Hywel, a gentle and compassionate man, brings peace, not only to Philip but to the reader. The book soothes and comforts as it is read. 

Equally well written is the setting. From the monasteries of France to the inns and monasteries of Wales, I felt like I was in the midst of the events. I could picture everything perfectly right down to the steeds which the men rode. I was right there living the story alongside the characters - saying prayers with the monks and walking with them as they carried out their chores.

This is an obviously Christian, faith driven book and yet this did not overwhelm. It is skilfully weaved throughout and is an integral part of the story. Bible passages are used at the end of each chapter and these support the narrative beautifully. God is at the heart of it, as one would expect, but the story is one of transformation and redemption. It had me soaring to the skies one minute and crying the next. I was not expecting the ending at all. This book plays a beautiful melody with the heartstrings and leaves the reader pondering on its meaning and message long after the book is finished. It will help any reader on their own journey of healing.

Whilst this is a book I could have read in one sitting, I did not do so. Whilst it begged me to keep reading I wanted to slow the pace and take my time to embrace the central message and enjoy the writing. The story came from a place of reflecting Margett's own journey of healing and I wanted to give it the time and space it deserved to be read properly. I am glad I did. 

Would I recommend this book - one hundred percent. I consider it to be one of the greats and it deserves a wide readership. Well done to the author. I hope she writes another book and I will be one of the first to buy it. If you would like to buy a copy you can do so via the links below. 

You can also buy signed copies direct from the author via her website

And of course you can buy copies from your local Christian Bookshops if they are open. You can order it from them if they don't have it on the shelf. 

If you would like to connect with Joy Margetts you can do so on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

   

That's it for another week Bookaholics. Expect more soon. I've another cracking book for you so don't miss out. Until then, keep reading and writing, my Bookaholic friends. 

I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair review. At no point was I asked to write a positive review and the review is unbiased and based on my reading and enjoyment of the book. The links above are affiliate links and if you use them I will receive a small renumeration from Amazon.