Book Review, Books, Lifestyle, Slow Living

Cosy January Reads

Its that time of year again. The time of year most people hate but I actually love, winter and autumn for me are the best as I love nothing more than snuggling under a blanket, hidden away from the cold weather outside, reading a book. I like the dark nights that make warm baths and early nights acceptable. I love hot chocolate, home made soup and stew bubbling away in the pan whilst scented candles burn and fairy lights flicker prettily. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring and summer too but nothing can beat that cosy hygge feeling I get to indulge this time of year. One thing I also love about this time of year is the feeling of a fresh start, a new beginning and a time to start following those dreams and learning new things. For me a big part of January is putting things in place to help me reach me new year goals as well as reading and learning as much as I can. I love to read books that will inspire me for the year to come and encourage me to try new things. With this in mind I have created a list of books I am looking forward to reading over the next few weeks. This time next week I will actually be married (woohooo!) and on my honeymoon so a lot of the books I’ve chosen with the idea of being able to read them quietly snuggled up in front of the log burner with my husband. Let me know if you have any new year reads you’d recommend, I love to add books to my list of to read!

The Little Book of Hygge – Meik Wiking
I bought this book before Christmas with the intention of reading it during my week off however I was bought another book about Hygge by my wonderful fiancè an so I read that one instead but have been itching to read this since. I am really interested in the Danish concept of hygge and how this can be applied to a Christian way of life. The whole cosy concept is exactly what I love about this time of year and one of my new years goals was to learn more about slow living and taking time to be present which is exactly what this little book talks about. It has the most gorgeous cover and the inside is full of pretty pictures and practical advice. I am really looking forward to taking this on my honeymoon!

8 Women Of Faith – Michael A.G. Haykin
This book was given to me by my soon to be sister in law and I am really excited to get to read it. It is a series of 8 small biographies of famous women who were devout Christians and how they faith influenced their lives and work. It is an inspiring book for men and women alike encouraging them to live out their faith. I am super excited to get my teeth into this one.

The Life – Changing Magic Of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
I know this one has been circulating for a while and although I bought it almost 6 months ago now I haven’t gotten down to reading it yet. This year however is all about slowing down and creating space to live and after moving into a new flat that is lovely and petite I decided to read up on minimalism and simplifying your home. I love to learn about new things and then create something that works for me so I am hoping this book will teach me a lot about minimalism which I can then add to the things I’ve learnt about hygge and create something that works for me.

Soulfulness – Brian Draper
I am so excited for this book! When my anxiety was getting particularly bad I started to learn a lot about mindfulness however I found a lot of the literature was very person centred. I found that I could apply some of what I learnt to my life and allow God into it but I really wanted to read about mindfulness from a Christian perspective. This book came out in the summer and I quickly snatched it up, but again with the wedding and busy life I haven’t had chance to read it yet. I am hoping with my new years resolution of taking life slowly and calmly I will be able to enjoy reading and learning from this book.  

Advertisements
Book Review, Books, Lifestyle

What I Read | May

One of my big resolutions this year was to find more time to read. I love reading, I always have but when you’re working full time and planning a wedding and also trying to write your first novel there isn’t always a lot of time for reading. Or should I say there isn’t enough time for watching tv, exploring pinterest, catching up on other blogs and reading. But as I said in my previous post about my night time routine I have been trying to turn off screens by a certain time, not only has this helped me sleep but it has also given me an excuse to tuck up in bed with a good book. And so I find myself reading more than ever before and catching up on a few books I’ve been meaning to get into for a while.

The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After is definitely going on my list of feel good books. The author Jenny Colgan is one of my absolute favourites and I am now nearly always bound to buy her latest release. This book however was given to me by a friend after she read the back and decided the book was clearly specially written just for me (I love finding those books) and I have to say I agree with her. The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After is about a quiet book worm called Nina who after losing her job at the library in Birmingham decides to buy a van and turn it into a travelling book shop and move to a tiny little village in the Scottish highlands. The book is a story of self discovery, creating the life that makes you happy and romance – everything I ever need in a book.

I am never disappointed with a Jenny Colgan book but this one was particularly special due to the fact it was written for and about book worms and about the changing power of books as well as being set in beautiful Scotland. It was both hilarious and heart wrenching and definitely caused me to think more about what it was I wanted in life. I like a book that makes me think and this one not only caused me to wonder about what I wanted from life but also encouraged me to go out and get it. The protagonist is so relatable, simply a girl who bucks up the courage to follow her dream and inspired me to do likewise. Colgans amazingly realistic portrayal of the Scottish countryside, community life and the stark contrast with the city life of Birmingham made it all the more relatable. Having lived in suburbs and cities all my life I could totally relate with that feeling of utter peace and calm the countryside of Scotland brings. I really really enjoyed this book and it just goes to show how well my best friend knows me, it really was a book written just for me.

Books, Christianity

Not Always The Way You Expected…..

We all known the phrase “God moves in mysterious ways” but I think I would add the phrase “God speaks in mysterious ways”. One thing I have learnt over my few years of being a Christian is that God rarely answers you in the way you think he will, so much so that I often don’t realise my prayer has been answered until I really think about it. And normally his answer surpasses all my expectations and is much better than anything I could have perceived and once again I am amazed at God and his power.

Recently I found myself in one of these situations. I had a prayer answered long after I had prayed about it and I didn’t even realise it was being answered until afterwards. It all began with me reading a wonderful book by Francine Rivers called Redeeming Love, you can read my book review here, I didn’t think much about it at first. I was struck by how connected I immediately felt with the protagonist but never did I think that this book had been placed in my hands for a reason. As I read, however, I felt the words of this story reach down and touch the depths of my soul. It brought up feelings and memories that had been hidden away for years and although painful I began to feel God’s light reach into those places.

I’m not going to say what those things are as to be quite honest I am not quite brave enough yet. I feel that one day God will use my pain and hurt for good. I know he has already used my experiences to help others and has given me a heart for women mission. But I’m not quite ready yet, I know I will probably never be ready but I do feel one day God will give me the courage I need and I will share my story and my pain and hopefully help others through it.

For now however I will praise his name for his unfailing love and the ways he continues to speak to me. I know for some people they connect with God in the same way time and time again however for me I seem to see him in places I would never expect. This book was just one of those places, I found Gods love reaching out to me from the pages and speaking right into my soul. I felt the power of God’s redeeming love through this book and I could see his face in every page. It taught me about forgiveness, unselfish love, patience, the beauty of marriage and God’s unbelievable power to redeem and make some one new. I felt like I finally started to see that God had cleansed me of this sin that I had carried round with me and I was made new, sparklingly clean and white in his sight.
I know that a lot of people will read this book and have no clue what I’m on about. I would definitely recommend you read it but I know my experience of God speaking to me through this book will be completely individual. I’m not saying that this book won’t speak to others and that God won’t use it to his glory for others as well but I think whenever we have an encounter with God it will always be individual because we are made unique in his image and he will speak to us in a way only he knows how. He knows the depths of our hearts and he can speak right to them in a way he knows will be perfect.

So what I am trying to say is don’t always expect the answer you want in the most obvious way, God speaks to us in little ways all throughout our day. Sometimes small, sometimes big. If you feel God isn’t answering you it may be that now is not the right time or it could be he’s answering you in a completely different way to what you expected. I believe we can see his face in everything around us we need only listen. 

Books, Christianity

Read, Read, Read…..

“All the secrets of the world are contained in books…..” – Unknown

Reading has always been a big part of Christian life, to have a good relationship with God it is vital that you read the bible as through the bible we hear him speak to us and we learn more about him and ourselves. But not only has it been important to read the bible as a christian it is also important to read widely on as many different subjects within the christian faith as you can. According to older Christians than I, fifty or so years ago reading was encouraged as a big part of christian life, it was seen as a tool to help you grow closer to God and to grow in wisdom. However I find now in my generation of Christians it doesn’t seem to be encouraged as much. But not only has the reading of Christian literature gone out of fashion but also that of reading in general. In todays world we are bombarded with words from our phones, to our laptops, to our tablets. From the time we get up and check our phones, to the time we turn the tele off before bed most of us will have had very little time away from a screen. We are forever reading things on screens and it has meant the slow decline of picking up an actual book. People, myself included, are too tired when they get home to do anything other than stare mindlessly at a tv screen or a laptop.

People seem to have lost their love for reading and forgotten the enjoyment and relaxation it can bring never mind the knowledge. For me in particular reading is such a key part of my life now. I have always loved reading but as I got older and began getting interested in blogs and youtube and all sorts of things I found myself not making the time to read. At one point I went 8 months without picking up a real book. About a year ago I decided that a life of screens wasn’t all I wanted and since then have made a conscious effort to read a couple of books a month. However it wasn’t until this summer when I was at Keswick convention that I realised how important reading christian books was to my spiritual growth.

If you watch my youtube channel you have probably heard me ranting and raving about my love for the book Gods Smuggler by Brother Andrew (if you haven’t read it yet what are you doing with your life?!) but that book had a huge impact on me. I realised that all over the world people didn’t have access to bibles or christian literature and risked life and death to get a hold of some and I couldn’t even be bothered to read my bible sometimes due to the fact I was “too tired”. I realised I had so many useful and helpful books available at my fingertips and I wasn’t using them. So I made a pact with myself that I would try to read one Christian book a month.

Its been about 6 months since I made that decision and I have to admit that I have only managed to read three in that time (something I am trying to rectify) but the difference it has made to my life is still huge. I have learnt things about God, Christianity and myself that I had no idea about, I have changed my views and opinions, I have become interested in new topics and my relationship with God has improved with each book I read. Every time I read a Christian book be it fictional or nonfictional it points me to God and helps me learn more about him as well as giving me a hunger to learn even more. Nearly every time I finish a book I find myself opening the bible to find answers to the questions and topics buzzing around in my head and that in turn brings me into a deeper relationship with Him.

It has honestly been one of the best goals I’ve set myself and although I’ve only managed one every two months or so I feel the habit is starting to stick. A habit I know will make such a difference to my spiritual growth for the rest of my life. I cannot emphasise or encourage you enough to read read read. Go to your library or your church or the kindle store and find yourself some Christian books, even if you are not what people call a “reader” (whatever that means), even if you’ve never read any christian books in your life or you’ve read every one on the shelf in your library go and get some more. If you enjoy a certain book pass it on to friends and tell them to read it, if it has helped you in your growth I am sure it will help some one else. Get stuck in and see what God teaches you through it. I have already learnt things that have improved my mental health, my decision making process, my relationship and future marriage and I have dealt with some very difficult feelings from my past and all because I have read a book that makes me think and gives me new perspectives and insights into life.

Let me know in the comments below any book recommendations and if a book has changed your life! 

Book Review, Books, Christianity, Inspiring

Redeeming Love – Book Review

“California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.  

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.  
 
Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.  
 
But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.  
 
A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.”

As you will know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, I absolutely love to read. I will read anything and everything and am always trying to steal away to little corners of my house to snuggle up and dive into the worlds of others. I read often and love to immerse myself in the lives of the characters but rarely does a book touch my heart so much as Redeeming Love. I was suggested this book by a friend and, as is usual with most of the books on my reading list, I intended to read it at some point in my life but when the book was physically handed to me I decided now was as good a time as any.
As I began to read the book I started to realise this was one of those rare stories that touches my soul. The story is a fictional adaptation of the story of Hosea from the bible, the story of a man whose obedience to God is so strong he follows Gods lead and marries a prostitute and even though she is unfaithful and runs away many times he always forgives her and brings her back. The book is transformed from biblical times into mid 19th century America, set in California during the gold rush where morals are lose and only the fittest survive.
The story follows Hosea’s wife, known as Angel in the book, and through her eyes we see the transforming power of Gods love. This book could easily be one of the best I have ever read, it gave me knew and interesting insights into true unselfish love within christian marriage and the redeeming power of Gods love. But more importantly than that it helped to remind me that I am a child of God. Pure and blameless in his sight. I cannot even express in words what this book has meant to me and the difference it has made but all I can do is tell you to go and read it for yourself. Find sometime to immerse yourself in it and feel the power of Gods redemption. I can tell you now you will not be disappointed! 

Adventure, Books, Food, Green, Health, Lifestyle, Travel, Vegan

My New Years Resolutions

I know this year there has been a real trend going around that people aren’t making new years resolutions and whilst I fully support people not putting too much pressure on themselves to achieve I actually find setting goals quite a helpful tool for myself. Every year I like to set myself some achievable goals that I know I can do and some crazy out there dreams that help me to keep my sights on the stars. And so without further ado here are my new years resolutions for 2016:

Health and well being:
A goal I set myself last year was to become healthier and to take more care of myself both physically and mentally. This past year I’ve started to get really interested in nutrition and have learnt a lot about the foods we eat and what they do to our bodies, I have also started to exercise more, take time out to spend it in green open spaces and meditate more through yoga or prayer. This year I would like to continue learning more, I’d like to get fitter and stronger and lose some more weight. I have already lost a stone by changing my diet to plantbased and doing more exercise and I’d like to continue that to get back down to the weight I used to be when I was my most comfortable.

Writing:
As a lot of you will know if you’ve been reading my blog, I am a writer and I love it! My main goal for this year is to finish my current novel which I am now a third of the way through and to get something published be that an article, a short story or a novel. I think its more likely to be the first two but I am going to try as hard as I can to become a published author this year, wish me luck!

Blogging:
I love this little space of the internet but over the past few months I have struggled to figure out what it should be. I found myself worrying about what I was doing and copying other successful bloggers who I liked instead of looking for my own unique voice. This year I would like to focus more on what I want this space to be like and what I want to share on here. I don’t want to be a bad copy of something else I want it to be entirely me. I am hoping to explore my interests and learn more about photography, green living, cooking and fashion through trying out new things on here. I’d also love to meet more bloggers and do some collabs so please message me, I’d love to chat.

Random:
There are always a few random goals I set myself and this year is no different. I would like to read one inspiring book a month as well as making the time to read more. I would like to start to grow my own vegetables and I would like to make mine and Russell’s Sunday walks a weekly thing for this year.

I hope you all had a lovely new year, what are your new years resolutions?

 

Book Review, Books, Inspiring

Start Something That Matters – Book Review

Being a bookaholic I am always on the search for new and interesting books that will help inspire me and so when I heard that the creator of TOMS one of my favourite all time organisations had written a book about starting something that matters I knew I had to read it. And boy am I glad that I did! This book has to be one of the best and most inspiring books I have ever read. Whenever anybody asks what is important to me and what I would like to do with my life I often to say I would like to make a difference even if its just to one person it would be worth it and that is why I am studying a degree in Social Work. But there is part of me that wants to try doing something a little bit different and although I have lots of idea’s I often have no idea where to start. 
Enter Blake Mycoskie! This book is so fantastic for helping to inspire you to make a difference and to do something that will help others. Step by step Mycoskie goes through the stages of how he believes is the best way to start something that matters using examples from his own company TOMS and from other companies that have also tried to make a difference. If you are looking for an interesting and vibrant read full of tips and inspiration than I would really suggest you get a copy of this book. It was so amazing that I managed to read it in just two days and now have lists and lists of things I’d like to try to make a bit of a difference. 

Books, Lifestyle, Summer

Book Shops Of St Andrews

“All the reading she had done gave her a view of life they had never seen” – Mathilda, Roald Dahl

I’ve always loved books, ever since I was little I’ve been an avid reader of nearly everything I could get my hands on so it’s not surprising really that one of my favourite things to do is spend a lazy afternoon trawling the local book shops. If you haven’t realised yet I have a bit of a love affair with St Andrews and when I am up in Scotland staying with my boyfriends family I tend to go into St Andrews as much as possible and over the last few visit I have managed to find some amazing places to shop for books so I thought I would share a few of my favourites.

Bouquiniste – This little second hand book shop is a bit hidden and I didn’t find it for a while until I accidentally stumbled across it on my way down to the harbour. I love second hand books possibly even more than new books, I like the way the spines have been broken and they feel soft in your hand making them easier to read and I love being able to get amazing books for only a pound or two. This little book shop stocks everything from travel to classical fiction to theology so its a great place to go and lose yourself for a while in search of one (or six in my case) new books to add to your collection.

Barnardo’s Books – Another great second hand book shop, this time all the proceeds go to charity which makes me feel a lot better about the amount of money I have spent in here already. This book shop also has a great selection of fiction, non fiction, children’s books and a nice big classics section where I have picked up even more cute copies of Dickens and Austen.

British Heart Foundation – This one doesn’t have a huge collection of books as it also sells a lot of other bits and bobs like a normal charity shop but their collection still covered nearly the whole back wall. I’ve also found some really great books in here and like with Barnardo’s all the money goes to a great cause. It is also only just down the road from Barnardo’s which means you can have a good old book shop crawl.

Topping and Company Books – And just a little bit further down the road from the other two you will find Topping and Company Books another fabulous addition to any book crawl. This book shop has only just recently opened but boy is it worth a trip. When I was little I always wanted to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast (read as still want to be Belle now) and my dream was to have a library in my house just as amazing as in the film. As I first walked into Topping and Company I had a full Belle moment and decided I wanted to move in right away. Every wall and available counter space is covered in books of all different shapes and sizes, there’s a fantastic mix of everything you could ever want with beautiful little ladders on wheels to help you find the books you want that are at the top of the book cases. The shop wiggles round into a cavern of little spaces full of different genres such as cooking, health, art, nature and so much more. There are also lots of super comfy squishy sofa’s to sit on and have a good old look at the books you’ve picked up on your way round and if you sit for a while the lovely staff will offer you a cup of tea or coffee for free. I have been in a few times now and every time it is like a dream, I just love it!

I hope you enjoyed the little insight into the book shops of St Andrews. I know having these fantastic book shops just down the road every holiday will not help my book addiction but as I keep saying to my boyfriend if I want to have a library room in my future house than I need to carry on collecting books!

I hope you are all having good summers, let me know in the comments what you are reading at the moment.

Bye for now!