What I read over the summer

I know I am posting this rather late – but better late than never! I took time off of blogging while my kids were on holiday, and have been busy finishing off a book I am co-writing since they went back to school. But I read some great books during the summer, so wanted to share them with you:

vis-fearful-symmetryFearful Symmetry
By C.F. Dunn
I was so excited that I got to read the final book in the gripping ‘Secret of the Journal’ series before it was officially released, as I am a great fan. It certainly didn’t disappoint, as I was totally engrossed right until the end. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing the author about her writing process and how she felt having finished the series. I was feeling quite bereft knowing that I wouldn’t be engaging with the characters anymore – it seems she has ways of keeping them alive in her head and getting to know them better! I would definitely recommend this whole series. If you haven’t read them at all, they are quite epic but flow really naturally and draw you in immediately. The series would make a great Christmas present…

the-fragmentjpegThe Fragment
Davis Bunn
This book was sent to me by the publisher the day before I was flying out on holiday, so it made it into my hand luggage. It was a delightful read, very well crafted and full of interest from the off. It is set in 1923, and centres around Muriel Ross, a young American photographer who travels to Paris to document antiques for a US Senator. But all is not as it seems, and she ends up part of a much more dangerous mission… Historical interest, intrigue and romance all interweave with one another seamlessly. I will certainly be looking up some of the author’s other books now.

chosenjpegChosen?
Mel Menzies
Having read Mel’s Time to Shine, I was looking forward to seeing what Evie Adams’ latest clients would reveal and how they would impact on her. I didn’t realise how personal this story would be for the main character, but loved finding out more about her – often at the same time as she did! It was interesting to see how Mel explored the whole concept of being ‘chosen’ – one of the other major characters, Matt, is adopted and the book charts his journey into discovering more about his birth parents and wider family. Through her characters, Mel tussles with the thought of whether being adopted means you are chosen or cheated. One of the other main themes is about being free to make our own choices – both Evie and another character, Sophie, have moments in which they have to decide whether to face both their fears and their own responses to situations and people, or to hide from the truth. Yet again, Mel has used her own knowledge to create a riveting book about some difficult subjects – it is well worth a read.

9781782642053

End of the Roadie
Elizabeth Flynn
I felt I still needed to include this book, even though I interviewed Elizabeth for her official blog tour on my website. She writes great detective mysteries with characters that are likeable and ‘real’. If you like this genre I would definitely recommend the book.

 

 

 

to-everything-a-timejpegTo Everything a Time
Eleanor Watkins
This is a story about a farming family who live in a rural setting, but still fairly close to a town. Centring around the wife, Alison, it is a very honest look at the challenges of raising teenagers and younger children. There are mysteries, misunderstandings, tears and laughter throughout, but it is also a really gentle read full of tenderness. As a farmer’s wife Alison is very aware of the seasons, and the book’s structure is hung on them too, which was a nice touch.

The family’s faith is a thread through the book too, and I like the way that the women of the community learn to share more deeply with one another and support each other through some tough times. Alison also shares times where she really sees God at work in her interactions with people – helpfully sharing her mistakes as well as good decisions 😉

Eleanor is obviously an accomplished writer: I was drawn into the story very quickly and felt like I could really empathise with Alison – as well as draw my own life lessons from those she was learning.

simplifyusejpegSimplify
Bill Hybels
I started reading this as research for the book I’m co-writing on how to deal with burnout, but I soon found it is full of really practical advice helpful for anyone juggling 21st century living. I don’t know why we all rush about so much, filling our time with endless chores – advances in technology haven’t given us the extra time and space we all thought it would (we are now constantly available – if we are allow ourselves to be!). I stopped reading after the first couple of chapters, as I felt it was a great book to work through with my husband. Each chapter ends with questions/reflections for you to apply to your own life and we have found them extremely challenging and helpful.

holyhabitscoverHoly Habits
Andrew Roberts
This book explores the ten ‘holy habits’ we see in Acts 2 (biblical teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, giving, service, eating together, gladness and generosity, worship and discipleship making). Andrew, a Methodist minister, uses a mixture of biblical background and real-life stories to put them into context for 21st-century disciples.

I like the fact that a lot of the chapters focus on cultivating and outworking these habit in community, as so many other discipleship books are more introspective. I did find it took me a little while to get into the book – I don’t know whether it is because there are a lot of quotes – and there were a few typos, which are a particular bugbear of mine.

I did like the suggestions for further reflection and action that Andrew provides at the end of each chapter. He facilitates personal and collective reflection and action both at a local as well as global level. He also helpfully provides recommended reading and, where relevant, further resources – the list within the chapter on prayer was particularly helpful as we have a week of prayer coming up as a church! His chapter on worship really got me thinking about how well we cater for everyone during a Sunday morning meeting. There is a lot to ponder in this book…

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