Blest Atheist by Elizabeth Mahlou

blest atheist

Synopsis taken from http://www.blestatheist.com:

As a young child, outraged by the hypocrisy she finds in a church that does nothing to alleviate the physical and sexual abuse she experiences on a regular basis, Beth delivers an accusatory youth sermon and gets her family expelled from the church. Having locked the door on God, Beth goes on to raise a family of seven children, learn 17 languages, and enjoy a career that takes her to NASA, Washington, and 24 countries. All the time, however, God keeps knocking at the door, protecting and blessing her—which she realizes only decades later. Ultimately, Beth finds God in a very simple yet most unusual way. A very human story, Blest Atheist encompasses the greatest literary themes of all time – alienation, redemption, and even the miraculous. The author’s life experiences, both tragic and tremendous, result in a spiritual journey containing significant ups and downs that ultimately yield great joy and humility.

This is the story of Elizabeth Mahlou’s life. It is harrowing and encouraging. She is honest, realistic and humble. The book begins with Beth telling us about how she spoke at a Russian Orthodox church about her role as a Good Samaritan in helping Shura, a boy in Siberia with Spina Bifida. The book is full of how she meets people, how she connects and copes in different countries and how her contacts and friends enable her to help many people. She has multiple degrees, can talk a range of languages and has many fascinating stories, such as how she was one of the only American’s allowed in Russia during the Cold War. Yet she does not brag and is not big headed. She is honest and humbled by her truly amazing experiences. She sees all of them as a chance to help others. She talks about her family and the abuse all her siblings suffered from different family members but how they supported each other and looked out for each other, and ultimately survived.

The second part of her book examines how she changed from an atheist to a practising Christian. She talks about how God has always rescued her, had a plan and loved her. How all the “coincidences” in her life were likely to be from God. She relays miracles she has seen, the faith of others and how ultimately her life was changed.

This is an amazing read. Even if you aren’t interesting in God or religion this book is inspiring and beautiful. Many lives have been changed through Mahlou’s work, and I think maybe will be changed by this book. This is a must read.

9/10

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The Teahouse on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

the teahouse on mulberry street

Synopsis from FantasticFiction:

The old tea house on Mulberry Street in Belfast hasn’t changed much over the years. But it’s about to bear witness to some significant transformations Daniel Stanley might make the most glorious deserts in the whole of Ireland, but he won’t support his wife Penny’s desire to have at least one bun in the oven. And the owners of Muldoon’s Tea Rooms are just two of the people inside hoping for change. Struggling artist Brenda sits penning letters to Nicholas Cage and dreaming of a better life. Sadie finds refuge from her diet and her husband’s infidelity in Daniel’s famous cherry cheesecake. Clare returns home from twenty years in New York, still cherishing the memory of the one night she truly loved and lost. And Penny herself discovers a secret from the past and a sexy estate agent very much in her present. They all want their lives to change but are they willing to face the consequences? And the possibility that you might not always be able to have your cake and eat it.

This was another author I had not read before and found her to be OK. The book is a bit disjointed. The characters don’t really mix – all of them led separate lives which did not connect.

However, I enjoyed the story. I found it interesting to discover what would happen to Penny as she tries to change her unhappy life, Sadie plots revenge on her cheating husband, Clare pines for and hunts down the love of her life and Brenda as she paints and longs for Nicholas Cage. There were more characters that I can’t even remember much about. There was just a little bit too much going on and it didn’t come together neatly.

All that said, I did read to the end and wanted to know what happened. Maybe the ending wasn’t too convincing but then that didn’t spoil the story too much.

This is an OK chick-lit book.

7/10

Head Over Heels by Jill Mansell

head over heels

Synopsis from Amazon:

Jessie has kept the identity of her son Oliver’s father a secret for years. She’s stunned when she discovers that the man in question, actor Toby Gillespie, has just moved in next door. The truth’s about to come out.  One glance at Oliver, and a little mental arithmetic, and Toby has the situation sussed. Meeting the son he never knew he had is the shock of a lifetime. It’s a shock, too, for Toby’s wife, the beautiful Deborah, though she seems to take it in her stride. Would Deborah be so relaxed if she knew just how close Toby wants to get to the mother of his firstborn? As the attraction between them flares up again, Jessie just can’t see her way to a happy ending. But no one is quite what they seem, and there are more surprises to come…

This is the first Jill Mansell novel I have read, and I enjoyed it. The story stars Jessie, who for 21 years has kept the identity of Oliver’s father a secret. But that is revealed when Toby Gillespie, a celebrity shows up. He quickly works out that Oliver is his son, but that does not bother him nor his wife. However, what Deborah does not realise is that Toby is still in love with Jessie. But Deborah has secrets of her own – as do most of the people in this seemingly quiet village…

This was a gripping chick-lit novel. Mansell’s style of writing draws you in. You connect with the characters and want to know what surprises are in store. Some of them were predictible but others came as a surprise – Bernadette’s being one of them.

This is another book that I have read recently that has slated men. In this book they were playing away from home and expected their women to do everything for them.

The more I read of this book the more I wanted to find out what would happen. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any chick-lit lovers.

8/10

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

knit two

Synopsis from Amazon:

Old Yarns
It is five years since the members of The Friday Night Knitting Club bonded during divorce, job loss, romance, birth – and the sudden death of their dear friend, Georgia. But the Walker and Daughter knitting store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is still going strong.

New Patterns
Drawn together by their love for Georgia’s daughter, Dakota, and the sense of family the club provides, each knitter is struggling with new challenges: for Catherine, finding love after divorce; for Darwin, newborn twins; for Lucie, being both single mum and carer for her elderly mother, and for Anita, marriage to her sweetheart over the objections of her grown-up children.

A love letter to the power of female friendship and, of course, knitting, Knit Two is entertainment with heart.

This is the sequel to the wonderful Friday Night Knitting Club. It is five years on and there have been some big changes. Georgia died, leaving Peri in charge of Walker and Daughter – although Peri really wants to expand her pocket book business. Lucy has made a name for herself as a producer, but her daughter Ginger is a handful. KC is now working in law, but is still single. Catherine is also single, and stuck in a rut. Darwin has twins, and is struggling with how to raise them. Anita is all set to marry Marty, but her sons are adamant she mustn’t. And Dakota, Georgia’s daughter is 18 and ready to take on the world, making huge, life-changing decisions. All this combined makes for interesting Friday nights knitting together in Walker and Daughter, when Lucy gets the chance to film a music video in Rome. So half the knitting group are off to Europe. Secrets are revealed, plans are formed, and friendships are forged – all until disaster strikes back in New York…. Could this be the end of Walker and Daughter…..?

I was skeptial about how this book would turn out as Jacobs killed off the main character, however, this book was just as good. The fact Georgia is dead is addressed, and we see how friends are still grieving and what her friendship meant to them individually and as a group is very well written. This sequel allows Jacobs to explore the other characters more deeply, which I think made the book. I loved all members of the group – such an odd mix of people but still they form a strong bond together, and it was nice reading about that.

It must be noted that with the odd exception, men are not greatly portrayed in this book. Nathan, Anita’s son, is manipulative and conniving, and James is dominant and stuck in his ways. I found myself disliking both of them as I read the book – although a book that sparks a reaction, whether negative or positive is a good book in my opinion.

I do have one complaint: I felt some areas of the story were too conveniently concluded. Anita’s story for one – it was too neat, a touch unpredictable really. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. It is not a fast read, but it is a good read.

9/10

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

lords and ladies

Synopsis from Amazon:

THE FAIRIES ARE BACK – BUT THIS TIME THEY DON’T JUST WANT YOUR TEETH…

Granny Weatherwax and her tiny coven are up against real elves.

It’s Midsummer Night. No time for dreaming…

With a full supporting cast of dwarfs, wizards, trolls, Morris dancers and one orang-utan. And lots of hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place.

This is the 14th book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. This adventure sees the return of the elves, and they are not as pretty and nice as they seem… Granny Weatherwax is up for a big fight – aided by the wizards.

This book is up there with my favourites. I found it very entertaining. I really enjoy the Witch books, I have found all of them to be funny and exciting, and this one was no different. In fact, the humour of this book was aided by the fact a selection of the wizards had come along. I like the Librarian – what a great character.

As ever, Pratchett’s imagination is just incredible. He draws you into this alternative world, full of fighting and mythical characters, and just lets the action unfold. His descriptions are just amazing, and I really want to travel to the Discworld.

Nanny Ogg is fast becoming one of my favourites character. She is witty and generally humorous, and a great companion to the hilarious Granny Weatherwax. I thought the old love flame between Granny and the Arch Chancellor was great, it added another dimension to the books.

As always, I really enjoyed this Discworld book, and this has to be top rated. It was full of great fight scenes, humour and pure adventure. A really good read.

10/10

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

living dead in dallas

Synopsis from Amazon:

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse isn’t happy. Her co-worker has been murdered and no one seems to care. If that wasn’t enough she’s got blood-poisoning and a raging fever. Luckily, some friendly vampires graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn’t enjoy it). But, seeing as they did save her life, when they come asking for a favour she can hardly refuse. She quickly finds herself using her telepathic skills in the search for a missing vampire, but when they break their good behaviour condition over a tasty blond, things go rapidly and horribly wrong …

This is the second book in the Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris. In this adventure, Sookie is attacked on her way to see Eric, by a mythical creature, and after having had her poisoned blood sucked, is told she is off to Dallas to use her gift. There she meets the anti-vampire group, and has to fight for her life. While all this is going on, she is trying to find out who murdered her friend and why.

There is a lot going on in this book. It starts with a murder and ends with an orgy. In between there is a lot of fighting and maybe mythical characters. Up until the last fifty pages I really enjoyed this book. It was exciting and gripping. The last bit of the book was full of sex and that put me off.

I like how Harris is introducing more mythical beings instead of just including vampires – I think this adds a new dimension to the story. It will be interesting to see where she takes the stories with all these characters and beings.

Harris is a very distinctive writer. She has her own style, which comes through in both her Sookie Stackhouse books and her Harper Connelly books. I like how she writes, for the most part she is engaging and gripping.

Apart from all the sex, which I still think is unnecessary, I think this is a good book.

8/10

The Tenko Club by Elizabeth Noble

the tenko club

Synopsis from Amazon:

Club Rules

Men, children, work, shopping, wine and chocolate. Important, but not AS important.

When they need you, you are there. No giving up.

Members

Freddie, Tamsin, Reagan and Sarah

They meet at university in the heady days of the 80s: four women with little in common but an eagerness to live life to the full. And over romantic crises, long gossipy nights and too many bottles of wine, they form the Tenko club and swear they’ll always be there for each other.

Life Membership

Twenty years later, that promise is put to the test.

Regan, Sarah, Tamzin and Freddie met at university and formed a lasting friendship. Their friendship remained after their uni years, through marriage, and children,  and the death of Sarah. Now they need each other a lot more. Freddie receives two doses of bad news, which send her to America. Regan and Tamzin go with her, and they explore themselves, their lives and their friendship. Through fights and laughter the Tenko Club move forward.

I really enjoyed this book. I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Noble. I have enjoyed the other books of hers that I have read. I love her writing style – engaging and fun, gripping and enjoyable. All her characters are believable, and the way Noble writes makes you wish you know them. I wanted to be a member of the Tenko Club! I even liked how they had memories and flash backs contained Sarah, even though she is dead.

This is definitely chick-lit, but this is chick-lit at its best. I found the book believable, but quite predictable. It was a heart warming read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

9/10