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TM "tanya2124" (England)

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Run
Run
by Ann Patchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant characterisation, 22 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Run (Paperback)
I am becoming Ann Patchett’s biggest fan, and am a little concerned that I’m running out of her books left to read. This one was about two families – one rich, one poor – thrown together via a car accident, discovering they are more closely connected than they originally thought. Like all her books, she paints the internal world of all her characters so well, and I devoured this book in a few days, because her writing is just so delicious. Highly recommended.


A Lineage of Grace: Five Stories of Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity
A Lineage of Grace: Five Stories of Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity
by Francine Rivers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Tamar is good, avoid the other four, 22 Jun. 2015
I keep looking for well-written retellings of the Bible stories, and she is the bestselling and most well-known author in this genre. This book retells the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary, mother of Jesus. There’s lots to love in this book: she has a real knack of bringing the Bible world to life, with interesting cultural and contextual details that you miss when you read the Bible story. I absolutely loved her retelling of Tamar’s story, which brings out the drama and cruelty of Judah’s actions. However, I wasn’t wholly convinced of her interpretation of the other characters’ stories: they tend towards trying to crowbar in a love story where there isn’t one, and she attempts to make Bathsheba complicit and guilty in what is essentially David’s sin, which made me feel quite uncomfortable. Read it for the good storytelling and well-imagined Biblical culture, but be aware that her retellings feel quite anti-feminist.


Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within
Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy-access inspiration for writers, 22 Jun. 2015
I have been going through this book with friends as a book club, reading a few of the ultra-short chapters each time, and doing creative exercises together. It is perfect for writers. She is my very favourite author for the craft of writing; whenever my writing is sluggish or uninspired, she gets me going again. If you’re going to get any book by Goldberg, I would start with Wild Mind, but this is an excellent follow-up. Highly recommended.


Outside In: Ten Christian Voices We Can't Ignore
Outside In: Ten Christian Voices We Can't Ignore
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, pithy and important, 22 Jun. 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed this intelligent, thoughtful book on the voices that are so often excluded from church for being ‘too doubtful, too sad, too old, or too disabled etc’ . The whole book is full of great quotes and insight. It’s a nice length: about 90 pages, very readable, it’s incredibly well-written, and a fantastic voice for the church. Highly recommended.
(I received a free advanced review copy but was not obligated to review)


WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS SC (Ordinary Theology)
WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS SC (Ordinary Theology)
by Meynell Mark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh hope for a weary and wary generation, 22 Jun. 2015
An academic and pastoral analysis of how the gospel gives fresh hope to today’s weary and wary generation. This is like having an expert tour guide taking you round the cultural and philosophical gallery of Europe, exploring why we, as a generation, are so distrustful of the media government, police - and ultimately, God. I found this both intelligent and gentle - recommend it to any thoughtful Christian.


Sea of Poppies (Ibis Trilogy Book 1)
Sea of Poppies (Ibis Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £4.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and masterful, 22 Jun. 2015
This is a long and beautiful story about India in the early 19th century, during the British rule and opium wars. It holds together a large cast of different characters from various parts of Indian life, which helps to feel like you’re utterly immersed in this world. It’s not an easy read – there is frequent use of Hindi words and the sailors speak their own semi-intelligible language – but it is a rewarding and beautiful one. This is well worth reading for a clearer understanding of 19th century India, three-dimensional characterisation, and above all, a playfulness and transparent joy in language and the way it’s used. I don’t normally like long and wide-ranging novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I can see why it was worthy of its Booker Prize Short-Listing. Now buying the others in the trilogy. (I received an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which this is).


Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Price: £7.19

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Healing balm to those who doubt, 14 April 2015
If you have ever been sitting in church, singing a hymn or song, and caught yourself thinking, “I don’t know if I believe any of this", you may well relate to Rachel Held Evans’ experience of having a faith crisis. Part memoir, part-reflection, part-essay, this is a beautiful, vulnerable book about finding church again when you feel like you’ve lost it.

She describes how she questioned and eventually left her childhood church, floundering in small pockets of Christian community before eventually making her way back to a congregation in a different denomination. She structures the book around the seven Catholic and Orthodox sacraments (baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, marriage), because she says that, surprisingly, it was the sacraments that drew her back to faith and to the church.

I loved this book, and here are some reasons why:
- Room for all. You don’t have to be on the same page theologically as Rachel Held Evans to benefit from her process and experience. She doesn’t shy away from the hard and discomfiting questions about hell, women in ministry, and gay marriage, but this book doesn’t feel like a manifesto, it feels gentle and pastoral, a space to breathe and take stock.
- Insightful and relatable. This is always a sign of well-written memoir: her story is so astutely observed that it feels universal. She perfectly captures the lonely experience of grief, anger and defensive cynicism that accompanies a crisis of faith, and I found myself underlining passages, going “YES! This was me!” I was pretty convinced for a while that we were destined to become BFFs, but sadly I think it’s probably down to good writing, so I suspect there will be a long queue of potential other BFFs saying, ‘yes, me too!’ to her experiences.
- Her writing: is elegant, witty, and intelligent. It is a joy to read. I knew from her blogs that she was a good writer, but this really brings out her dry humour. At the start of each section, there is a creative theological reflection on each of the sacraments, which are artful and art-full, and the ‘oil’ chapter especially, on the scent of God, just blew me away: I’d never before thought of the Old Testament sacrifices in quite that way.
- Her perspective on healing: I am someone who has chronic illness, and her section on anointing the sick made me want to hug her. I have always been wary of this rite, but she reframed it in such a helpful way that I wish every pastor could read it. The whole section is quite simply brilliant:

This is a book for those who’ve grown up in the church, but are now questioning their faith, or considering walking away from the church altogether. Rachel Held Evans doesn’t try to ‘fix’ her reader, but invites people to walk with her awhile, which is why, to me, it felt like sanctuary. I wholeheartedly recommend Searching for Sunday: beautiful, insightful and funny, this book will be a healing balm to many who doubt.

- Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review, which this is. -


Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together
Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, gentle, and very helpful, 11 Mar. 2015
Last night I found myself saying to a friend, ‘Ed Cyzewski has just written a book on this exact topic – you should read it’. It’s a sign of a good book when you find yourself recommending it to others without meaning to. I always think of Ed Cyzewski as a pastor to writers, and a writer to pastors, and this book encapsulates his dual ministry perfectly. In the first chapter he says this:

“If you want to improve your prayer life, try writing.
“If you want to improve your writing life, try praying.”

The rest of the book explores how both of these things can be spiritual disciplines and how they combine to make us more whole and healthy. It’s engaging, encouraging, and easy to read, and I wore out my highlighter with all the memorable quotes. As soon as I finished it, I downloaded the app he suggested and it’s already changing my prayer life. It’s a nice short book, about the length of a Kindle single and can be read in one setting.

This is a must-read for all pastors and writers, but I’d say it would be a help to anyone, even if you’ve not thought much about praying or writing before – it’s really gentle and wise with lots of helpful tips. Highly recommended

* Disclosure - I received a free copy and asked to give my honest review, which this is. *


Harvest
Harvest
by Jim Crace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but slow, 5 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Harvest (Paperback)
This is a modern fable, set in an anonymous English town, at some medieval period, and is about how society reacts to change by punishing the outsider, terrorising women and children, scrabbling for power, etc. This has ‘I want to be a Booker Prize Winner’ written all over it (and indeed it was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize) – nothing much happens, slowly, but beautifully. It is trying to be a Lord of the Flies, but I found that I didn’t emotionally engage with the characters, so the morals fell a little bit flat, and it was just a little too agricultural for my liking. In its favour is the way it conveys the message of quiet stability and power of nature even while authorities and rulers are overthrown. It is a good book, a very well-written book, but I didn’t enjoy it, and if I hadn’t been reading it for a book club I would have abandoned it.


Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry & Into the Arms of the Savior
Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry & Into the Arms of the Savior
by Annie Lobert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.18

4.0 out of 5 stars A quick and gripping read, 5 Mar. 2015
This gripping autobiography tells the story of how a nice, educated, middle-class girl ended up in the sex trade – and how she found faith and escaped from that life. Annie Lobert, founder of Hookers for Jesus, tells her story with frankness and energy, and I really appreciated her honesty of her own faults, as well as the injustice and terrifying nature of the sex industry. I found myself in admiration of her tenacity and strength, particularly in recovering from her pimp’s repeated and horrific beatings. It’s an easy and quick read, and though the Bible reflections are interesting, the book is strongest when she is telling her story and the story of others in the sex industry. Recommended.


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