February Reads

Oh I read a lot of books in February. February isn’t even really over. But I still read a lot of books. Here’s a bit of a summary.

Whatever Tomorrow Brings – Lori Wick

I’ve made it my mission/goal to own, or at least read every Lori Wick book. There are quite a lot of them, but without actually looking into it, I think I’m halfway already. This is the first book in a four part series called ‘The Californians’ and I actually think this is Wick’s most popular series. These books are simple, straight forward, pure and enjoyable. I rarely like to read modern stories and sometimes all you want to read in your lunch break is something easy. I read this on my kindle and breezed through it. I’ll probably buy the other 3 soon.

The Dip – Seth Godin

I’ve been trying to expand my reading more lately and this quick little non fiction read did the trick. It actually changed my perception on a few things and had me thinking and talking about it for many days to come. Based around the concept of ‘quitting’ and how quitting isn’t always the worst choice and sticking out the wrong things can be so damaging. It’s applicable to entrepreneurs, marketing execs, people stuck in dead end jobs and .. well you could apply it to anything. I recommend it.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Uggghh. I’ve been trying to finish this book for no joke, at least a year. I had it on my iPhone and I struggled and struggled through til I finally downloaded it onto my Kindle and finished off the last 25%. I wanted to read Wuthering Heights because it’s such a classic and it’s referenced over and over again in literature. Characters rambling on about how it’s their favourite book etc etc and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I still don’t get it. Flawed cruel characters, storylines spread out over decades, old english and well.. It just wasn’t for me. I’ve hated maybe two books in my whole life and this is one of them. I’m so glad I finished it though, it was bugging me. Now it’s still bugging me, but only because it was so rubbish.

Heart of Gold – Lacy Williams

Why was this book so short? I’m not even exactly sure what this book was about it was over so quickly. Something about some sort of homestead, the search for gold which actually didn’t exist, love, family breakdown, horses and bandits. I couldn’t tell you the characters names or characteristics if I tried. That’s what happens when you purchase free books on kindle!

The Widow of Larkspur Inn – Lawana Blackwell

YES! I think I may have finally stumbled across a new Christian historical fiction author with delightful taste and easy reading style. I technically have a few chapters to go on this baby BUT February technically isn’t over and so technically, technically I can put it on this list. It’s my list so I will do what I want. This book centres around a recently widowed woman who brings her children to a new town to turn a run down old Inn into a Lodging House after her deceased husband leaves them with financial troubles. The title actually describes it fairly accurately. It has characters you fall for, a town you wish you could experience and life lessons and struggles you can relate to.

Now I can safely say I delivered all that I promised for February. This is not one book review but five short ones. Claps for Steffany.

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Kindle – A Review

I recently got a kindle!

It was part of all the things I got spoiled with at Christmas time. I seriously love to read and I talk about books frequently so I thought I’d do a little review on the Kindle. Every single person at work asks ‘what is that?’ when I read in the break room at work, so it’s safe to assume people aren’t very informed when it’s comes to the kindle.

I was pretty anti the idea of an e-reader. My love affair with books isn’t all about the stories, it’s actually with physical books. I love covers, crumped/used pages, fresh pages, libraries, the smell of books. I really love it all. Why would I give all those things I love up, for something I had to purchase, and then still, purchase books. However the one Kindle User at work convinced me to at least consider it. He brought his Kindle into work for me to examine and have a play with and little by little, I came to a place where I added ‘Kindle’ to my Christmas list.

It’s actually pretty fantastic. I have the Wireless version which doesn’t allow me access any old time but I need to be hooked into a wireless network. Which suits me and would suit other budget’s fine as it is the cheaper version.

Books are reasonably priced with classics for free and sales that occur from time to time. It’s all hooked in with an amazon account which I already had and with a click of a button I can purchase a book.

It’s extremely lightweight. No backlight, so it’s healthy for your eyes. It holds my place and let’s me know what percentage of the book I’ve read. I can skip chapters ahead, navigate easily page to page. You can purchase groovy little cases (of which I am yet to do) and I barely notice it in my handbag.

For me, the Kindle will be my travel reading companion, and I use it for my everyday reading at work. People who use public transport – GET A KINDLE. You will love love it. I’ve only really bought the one or two books. And I won’t get too carried away either. I will just buy the books I know I want to read during my breaks at work.

I recently went on a Cruise and took 4 books with me. My suitcase was heavy. I wish I had my kindle then, I could have packed more sunscreen and after sun gel. Which was what I actually needed.

Negatives? Other than it doesn’t smell like a book? None. I don’t damage my books by having them floating around my car/handbag. It’s a win win for me. If you ever want to have a play and test it out for yourself. Feel free to ask.

If you are concerned about my mental health – I wish to inform you, that I still love books. I will still buy them. In fact, for me, I will probably still buy books and then purchase them on Kindle for convenience. My library will still be extroadinarily expansive and you will all be jealous.

I hope.

5 stars

 

Gorgeous

I’m surrounded by very gorgeous things in life. Here are only a few of them.

Books! I find them so unbelievably lovely. I love to read, to get lost in a story. And film does that as well. And I never want to underestimate how beautiful television can be. But books! Books let you create a world. I love to imagine things. I love how words on an otherwise blank page – let you dive into something completely different!

Friendship. I think friendship is truly gorgeous. True friendship means accepting a person exactly as they are. It doesn’t mean they don’t mess up, that you don’t mess up.. or that there isn’t a certain amount of hurt. But it means you get all of what the other person has to give. Good and Bad. It’s actually unbeatable.

Shoes. Actually no surprises here considering my ongoing relationship with shoes. Specifically high heels. Lately I’ve realised that I don’t actually wear high heels that often. Not like I used to. Perhaps I just got lazy, and then I got into a habit of wearing flats, so heels seemed really difficult. I’m making a committment to wearing heels. I’m actually short, heels are drool worthy and I love them – so it will be worth it!

OH sweetness. His word is actually SO good. One that I’m loving at the moment..

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 1 Cor 14:33

This resonates with me so much because I love the thought of viewing God like an author. His peace is beyond compare.

Fashion. It’s actually really gorgeous. So much is unwearable. But I love to look at it all the same. I definitely see it like art. How someone makes something like that out of mere fabric.. well my experience with a sewing machine is very limited. So it impresses me greatly.

Ah.. Nature. Love it. If only you weren’t so hot and I could get out and enjoy you more. I need to go and spend some time on a rug on a pretty hill and just be.

Gorgeous might seem like an odd word choice, especially to describe something like God’.. but really I think it’s perfect.

gor·geous

–adjective

1. splendid or sumptuous in appearance, coloring, etc.; magnificent: a gorgeous gown; a gorgeous sunset.

2. Informal . extremely good, enjoyable, or pleasant: I had a gorgeous time.

Request: ABC

A-Z Advice from Steffany

A – Always make things right before you go to sleep. Life is too short.

Bwww.bookdepository.co.uk – free shipping!

C – Don’t always reject a compliment. Graciously say thanks and follow up with a story, related or otherwise. Always coming back with a return compliment can come off as fake!

D – Denier. The higher the denier the thicker the stocking! Also can I just say that tops are not dresses! Even if you are wearing tights!

E – Express yourself. Start a blog. Write a song. Draw a picture. None of us were made as mundane as we act.

F – Frozen peas! Greatest snack in the world. So cheap, so easy. Best if you drink them from a cup!

G – Google Reader. If you’ve got a gmail account, and you’re a blog reader. Get into google reader!

H – Handle challenges with grace. I could almost write an A-Z list on how to handle challenges with grace.

I – Independance in an amazing thing. It’s hard and challenging but oh so good. Move out. Do it.

J – Jump! “To succeed, jump as quickly into opportunities as you do at conclusions” Benjamin Franklin

K – Know who you are. If you think Joe Jonas is a babe. Stick to it and don’t let people give you a hard time.

L – Love languages. Find out what your love language is, find out what other’s are! Makes a whole lot of different to all your relationships.

M – I’m the worst saver in the world. Manage your money, don’t let it manage you.

N – Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game. I always love a bit of wisdom from Cinderella Story.

O – Don’t be realistic. Be optimistic! Sure you might get let down once or twice, but chances are you’ll notice more good and be less concerned about the bad.

P – Photo document everything! Sometimes I feel a bit like I might be missing out on a party or a wedding because I’m busy taking so many photos. But my photos last a lifetime and I never regret it.

Q – Question almost everything. Don’t walk blindly into life.

R – Read a book – at least once a year. Maybe you think once a year doesn’t sound like much. But for some people it is. Even if you don’t like reading, you should read at least one book a year. The bible doesn’t count.

S – Stash twenty dollars somewhere random. That pocket you never check, a hidden compartment in your phone. For that time you forget your wallet, or your bank card just stops working.

T – Tupperware.

U – Understand God is like men who try to understand women. Just get to know us and love us – you’ll end up loving the fact that you don’t understand everything.

V – Vent, find an appropriate medium and vent. Also – if it’s a blog, make it a private one.

W – Write a love letter. Maybe to your Mum, or me. It’ll do you almost as much good as the person who receives the letter. It’s important to acknowledge how great the people in your life are.

X – xoxo – be a good hugger!

Y – Almost no one can pull off the colour yellow.

Z – Zippers! I love a good zipper! On shoes, dresses, tops, bangles! They aren’t just for doing things up!

As requested by Laura Fraser.

Holiday

I’ve been thinking a bit about holidays recently. Sitting at a reception desk all day long makes you want to travel. To compile my own list I used the Top 50 must see places on the Getaway website.. (who knew that website would actually come in handy one day).

I used to always want to be a Getaway lady when I was older. Truth be told, I think I would still do it. Dad tried to tell me that it probably isn’t as fun as it seems, but I used to say that it would be more fun than going to school everyday. I guess if we were to have that conversation now I would say that it would be more fun than going to school, but school would be more fun than having a full time job.

Here’s my list of places to see (in no particular order)

1. Canadian Rockies 

 I’m reading a book series set in the Canadian Rockies, so this is why I’d like to go there. Also cos it’s beautiful.

2. The Amazon

It’s the second largest river in the world or something.  I read a book about the Amazon when I was little.. and while apparently I’ll be eaten alive by all sorts of things, I still want to go.

3. Prague

4. Ice Hotel in Sweden

Well who wouldn’t want to go to Sweden? But this would definitaley make it onto my list.

5. St Petersburg – anyone seen Anastasia? It looks pretty cool in the cartoon..

6. The Great Wall of China

7. Ireland

8. Rome

I want to go to Rome for fairly obvious reasons.

9. London

I want to go to London for fairly obvious reasons.

10. The Maldives

11. Santorini

12. Pyramids of Giza

A couple of years ago you couldn’t have convinced me to go to Egypt. I actually hate sand. But I have a fairly decent sized craving to go there. So much history, maybe half the books I read are set in Egypt. Okay, not half, but a big chunk.

13. New York

14. Paris

I dont’ really care how cliche Paris is. I still want to go there.

And yes, I realise that I want to go to these places because of books. The travel industry should really give more credit to authors.

Manhattan in the Sky

Jewel in the Evening Sky – MaryAnn Minatra

I don’t seem to have time for blogging these days, but I do seem to have time for reading. So I can guess I can blog about reading.

I knocked this book over in about a week. It was well written and fit right into the kind of book I really love to read.

Set in Germany & Poland, it’s based over several years, starting before the war. It’s essentially about three different couples and how their stories intertwine. It’s about family loyalty, love, what is right and what is wrong, fighting to stay alive, justice, power. With Hitler himself as an actual character in this novel, it’s quite epically written. I love how the stories didn’t start off together, but by the end every character was playing an integral part in the others life. It’s a good story about faith and searching for identity in a time where you were forced to conform.

I liked it. Then again I’m partial to any historical christian novel.

four stars

Wrapped up in books

The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

I finished a book. For me, this was actually an accomplishment. It’s not that I don’t read a fair bit. This one just seemed to really.. take longer than I thought. I really thought I would never finish it. I’m not actually sure why it took so long. It was a good read. Maybe because I knew it was a big book. Maybe because I knew it wasn’t my typical read. Whatever the case, I heaved a big sigh of relief when I turned that last page.

Pillars of the Earth is very cleverly written. The story spans over decades with many different stories and characters all weaved together to create what is truly brilliant writing. I truly hated the antagonist William Hamleigh. I really wanted that cathedral to be built and for justice to finally be served. I cringed each time someone had their head chopped off. I rallied with the town of Kinsbridge. I wanted Aliena to find Jack. I enjoyed the architectural aspect. I really liked Prior Philip. Tom Builder to me seems like a silly name for a person, especially cos he was a builder. I don’t care if that’s how they did it back in the day. So much of the storyline isn’t completed until the very very end of this book which added to it’s mystery.

I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It’s kind of got more sex and violence than I like in any of my novels. But it’s truly written so well that I sort of want people to read it. So, at least I’ve warned you. I was warned when I read it.

four stars

The Thief

Sarah Starrenburg gave me a book for Christmas. Like she herself said, books aren’t always easy things to give as presents, but I wish more people gave me books.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was a really interesting read. It’s set in Nazi Germany and is the story of Leisel. She loses her brother on the way to meeting her new foster family. It’s essentially a tale of her life and how she came to be a book thief.

I found the way the book was written to be so interesting. It took me a little while to catch on, but I realised eventually that the book is narrated by ‘Death’. Which in a way makes for a slightly depressing book, but is also entertaining. I found the book to basically be a big contrast. It showed so much of the cruelty of life, yet so many of the simple joys that life can bring. It was a fiction book, but didn’t read like a fiction book. It’s strange to read a war story from the perspective of a child. It was actually very interesting, yet at the same time I found it to be a book I had to convince myself to read. Extremely well written though. It should definitely be one of those books they force you to study at school. It’s incredibly clever, although it gave so much of the ending away in the very early stages of the book. I really liked it because it’s about books. About Liesel’s fascination with books and words and stealing. It made you so mad at the German’s, even though the entire book is about a German and her German family. It was a good break from my usual reads. I even laughed once or twice. The kind of laugh that happens because the rest of the novel was fairly serious, so it was good to enjoy a bit of comic relief.

3 and a half stars

I Could Write A Book

Firstly, Happy 2010 everyone.

2009 was my year of writer’s block. It wasn’t a great year. Perhaps that showed because Laura Fraser bought me this awesome little book for Christmas called ‘Creative Block – 500 ideas to ignite your imagination’. So I’m going to start using it.

“Write random words. Just type”

And so I shall.

I’ve just moved house. Again. It seems that at this time of year, every year, I am moving house. It’s not a fun thing to be doing in your holidays, so hopefully I won’t be moving at the end of 2010. I’ve moved back home with my mother and sister (let’s see how long I last here, Georgia better not steal my favourite shoes!) and I’m still in the process of setting up my room. Try moving a 4 bedroom house into a tiny room. I have gone from having a queen bed, duchess, big tv cabinet, little tv cabinet, couch and a bedside table all in one room, plus a walk in robe and an ensuite. I now can only fit a King Single Bed, One Tv Cabinet, a Beside Table and a bookshelf. And it’s pretty cramped. My favourite part of the room is not my lovely antique bed that my parents bought me in 2008 for my birthday. Or the cute matching bedside table and mirror that hangs above it. It’s not my now fairly impressive dvd collection, or even my delightfully beautifully large clock that Georgia bought me for my 21st.

You probably guessed it, the favourite part of my room is my bookshelf. I had two bookshelfs at my last place, but I can only fit one into my room now. I’ve never had a bookshelf in my room before and I really love it. It’s right next to my bed and it means I can’t really fit past on one side of my bed, but I really love that it’s in reaching distance from my bed. It means that when I finish one book in the wee hours of the night, I can just reach over, put it back, and grab another one. I also really love, that the bookshelf is full. And full of books that I actually own, not that books that I’ve borrowed out from the library, or stolen from my Dad to bulk up the collection. I love the variety of books too. I’ve got lots of historial fiction trilogies. The Chronicles of Narnia sets. Jane Austen’s. Christian Self Help Books Galore. Scary books. Romance. A decent collection of Anne of Green Gables. Some travel books. Twilight. Fashion books.

I do have a problem though. As I said before, my bookshelf is full. I’ve actually had to stuff a few of the lamer books underneath the bed to make sure all the good books fit. I don’t know what to do when I buy another book. In fact I know I have two books on order from Amazon, so I’m not sure where they will go. And I just realised I didn’t factor in the book I’m reading at the moment. What a delightful problem to have though! When I’m older, and hopefully a lot wealthier, I’m going to have a library in my house. Which means of course, that I’ll be wealthy enough to fill the library with actual books. I was talking to someone the other day about books, she’s only owns a few books and borrows everything else from the library and through book clubs and swapping books with friends. I wonder why it is that some people like to buy their books and some people don’t care to own them, they just want the joy of reading the book and then being done with it.

Perhaps. Perhaps it is because I will often read a good novel more than once. I’ve read Arabian Winds (one of my favourites) at least 4 times. So I’m really glad I own that one. Perhaps I like the idea that by having a lot of novels in my home, I appear well read. I’ve hardly read anywhere near the amount of books I want to read, even for my age. But I feel owning books makes you seem smarter. Perhaps I just love to look at books. Before I went through all my books, and pulled them out a tiny bit, so they were all roughly level with each other when you look down the book case. I like how they look all even. Although the great thing about novels in the different shapes and sizes they come in. So perhaps when I get sick of it, I’ll go and push them up flush with the bookshelf and marvel at all the different heights and widths. Perhaps it’s a romantic notion of mine. Romantic isn’t actually the right word to use, but I’m drawing a blank at what the best word to use would be right now? Some of my favourite scenes in movies are in libraries. Beauty & the Beast, Becoming Jane. Wait, let’s talk about Beauty and the Beast for a moment. The Beast gives Bell a library as a gift! Now I am a gifts person, as well as a books person. And that’s a big hint to anyone who’s ever trying to impress me. I would have fallen in love right then and there. I think I cried a little bit in Transformers 2 when the crazy robot Home and Away chick is coming to attack what’s his name. And they hide in the uni library. The library totally gets blown to pieces and you can see books flying around the place, catching on fire. I love books, I love libraries, I love reading.

Hmm.. I obviously love writing as well. That wasn’t as hard as I thought.

This year is the year of regular blogging, much book reading and generally just enjoying life more.

Oh.. and many other serious, life changing type things of course.

Faces in the Crowd

If it is true that a picture paints a thousand words, then there was a Roman centurion who got a dictionary full. All he did was see Jesus suffer. He never heard him preach or saw him heal or followed him through the crowds. He never witnessed him still the wind; he only witnessed the way he died. But that was all it took to cause this weather-worn solder to take a giant step of faith. “Surely this was a righteous man.”

That says a lot, doesn’t it? It says the rubber of faith meets the road of reality under hardship. It says the trueness of one’s belief is revealed in pain. Genuineness and character are unveiled in misfortune. Faith is at its best, not in three-piece suits on Sunday mornings or at V.B.S on summer days, but at hospital besides, cancer wards and cemetries.

Maybe that’s what moved this old, crusty soldier. Serenity in suffering is a stirring testimony. Anybody can preach a sermon on a mount surrounded by daisies. But one one with a gut full of faith can live a sermon on a mountain of pain.

No Wonder They Call Him the Savior – Max Lucado

 

Really enjoying getting into reading more again during this 21 days. I think Max Lucado is an amazing writer. He writes about amazing things but his writing skills are also top notch. Something about the way he weaves words together makes you want to read and read and read. As if I needed any incentive!