The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen (Review)

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen

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About the author

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Henri Nouwen was a renowned priest and author, respected professor and beloved pastor of the L’Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto. His many bestselling books include The Return of the Prodigal Son, Home Tonight and Bread for the Journey. He died in 1996.

Blurb

The Inner Voice of Love is Henri Nouwen’s ‘secret journal’. It was written during the most difficult period of his life when, following the breakdown of a close relationship, he lost his self-esteem, his energy to live and work, his sense of being loved – even his hope in God.

For a long time Henri felt that what he had written during this time was too raw, intense and private to share. Instead he produced The Return of the Prodigal Son, in which he expressed some of the insights he had gained during the crisis. However, as time went on his feelings changed due partly in response to the persuasion of friends who asked ‘Why keep your anguish hidden from the people who have been nurtured by your writing? Wouldn’t it be a consolation for them to know about the fierce inner battle that lies beneath many of your spiritual insights?’

The warm reception enjoyed by The Inner Voice of Love over the years testifies to Henri’s generosity and wisdom in sharing this difficult part of his journey. For everyone who is living through the pain of broken relationships or suffering from the loss of a loved one, this book offers new courage, new hope, even new life.

Review

A friend recommended this book to me and last year I started to read it, since then I have dipped into it and read a little occasionally. This book is made up of one to three page reflections, which are all under different titles.

At the beginning I enjoyed this book and found it useful but as it went on I found it rather repetitive and it started to drag. I realise this book was written at a very difficult time of Nouwen’s life but I think it should have been edited as certain parts are basically saying the same thing but are just under a different title.

I also disagreed to a certain extent with his advice about relationships and how breaking of relationships can be devastating. As a priest he has never experienced in my opinion the biggest relationship which is marriage. Marriage is sacred and in the eyes of God forever, and to cope with a marriage break up must be devastating but Nouwen has no true experience of this, yes he will have seen marriage break ups and experienced the end of friendships and loss of loved ones but in my opinion he can not generalise all relationships like he does in the book.

I also disagreed with the fact that most of his reflections seem to be based on Nouwen withdrawing from society. This I do not find to be beneficial to anyone, everyone needs help from friends, everyone needs to know there is someone there for them.

All in all I found this book a bit of a struggle as I did not agree with all of it and found it repetitive. As a Christian I agreed with a lot about what was said about God in our lives but not all of it. I gave this book 2 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase from Waterstones

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On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey (Review)

On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey

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About the author

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Thomas De Quincey was born on the 15th August 1785 and died on the 8th December 1859. He was an English essayist best known for Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.

Blurb

The provocative early-nineteenth-century essayist casts a blackly comic eye over the aesthetics of murder through the ages.

Review

So on to the fourth Penguin Little Black Classics book and this one really took me out of my comfort zone. I picked this book up thinking normally I would never dream of reading a book about murder being a fine art and to be honest after this I do not think I will read another book about murder being an art form.

I did struggle a great deal with this book and I really did not see the comic side in it that is mentioned in the blurb. I found it very hard to get into and very disturbing that people seem to enjoy studying murder. I also did not like the fact that murder was referred to as an art form. However it wasn’t all bad, I did find certain little stories inside it interesting, for instance the story about Descartes was very interesting.

I think it was a disturbing essay and it made me wonder what type of mind Quincey has to come up with this essay. However the essay was an eye opener about things that were happening in that point of history. However I didn’t really enjoy the book and wouldn’t read it again. This is why sadly I have only given the book 1 Dragon out of 5.

To purchase this book from Waterstones please click here.

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The Endgame by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

The Endgame by Jeffrey Archer

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About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Taken from To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer’s fourth collection of short stories, The Endgame is an irresistible, witty and ingenious short read.

After he becomes a widower, wealthy Cornelius Barrington decides to test the loyalty of his family and friends to himself, or his money, by declaring himself bankrupt, enlisting the help of his old friend and trusted lawyer, Frank Vintcent, to make the ruse authentic. Soon though, Barrington is left pondering whether blood really is thicker than water . . .

Review

Today I had a very gap filled day teaching so I thought I would read a short story in the little gaps. This made a nice change from the recent short stories by Jeffrey Archer that I have read as the recent ones have all involved men dropping everything to run after a young pretty woman.

This is a beautiful little story where the main character Cornelius needs to rewrite his will but first he wants to see who deserves his wealth. Cornelius has always suspected that certain members of his family and friends prefer his money rather than himself, so he decided to put his theory to the test.

When Cornelius pretends to be made bankrupt he watches his family and friends reactions to what has happened and finds out who his true friends are. As the story develops it is interesting to see Cornelius’ plan unfold and how each member of his family reacts and how his friends react.

This story shows how money can make people react differently, even act like crazy people and yet there are people out there who money does not touch and who remain true. I really enjoyed reading this short story and I was upset when it ended as I did not want it to end but for the story to develop further. Considering it is a short story there is a lot of content within it and there is never a dull moment. It just shows Archer’s talent as a writer to make a story work so well in such a small space of time. I gave this story 5 Dragons out of 5 Dragons.

To buy the complete book of short stories from Waterstones please click here.

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The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anon (Review)

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

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About the author

The author is sadly anonymous but this is a well known Icelandic saga composed at the end of the 13th century.

Blurb

Ranging across Scandinavia, England and Ireland, a Viking-age epic of two poets in doomed pursuit of Helga the Fair

Review

This is the third book of the Penguin Little Black Classics and a quick little read of just 52 pages. The book contains 25 verses of skaldic poetry which are scattered through the story.

This book is essentially a love story, where two poets are in pursuit of Helga the Fair, both travel around earning glory and renown hoping to make themselves worthy of Helga’s hand in marriage.

I enjoyed this book to begin with and found the verses of poetry enjoyable, however as the story went on I found the poetry began to get on my nerves and broke up the flow of the story. I must admit I started to skim read it as I could not bare it any longer, the story was still really good though. The thing I found a struggle to get used to in the beginning was the big lists of names, but once I got used to the style this was ok. A lot of store is held in one’s ancestors and family in this book so great lists of names are often given, even if those characters are not featured in the story.

I also enjoyed how the characters travelled around Scandinavia, England and Ireland and the accompanying adventures. It was interesting learning about the kings and rulers of that time and what they were like. The other element I enjoyed was how Christianity moved across the countries and the old ways were forgotten. This was considered a really good thing in the book but I wonder whether everyone was so willing to drop the old ways and take on the new faith. In my opinion I think this element is seen through rose tinted glasses by the author.

“All the men who have been mentioned were living at the same time, and it was about this time that the best thing ever to have happened in Iceland occurred: the whole country became Christian and the entire population abandoned the old faith.”

This is an excellent little book, which will not take long to read and was a good introduction for me to Icelandic sagas. I enjoyed reading the book but because the poetry got on my nerves I only give this book 3 Dragons out of 5.

To purchase this book please click here

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New Book: 4/03/2019

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I do enjoy a good short story and have been reading the free Jeffrey Archer short stories on Kindle. Well after a bit of research I discovered they are all in a book and so I bought the book. As much as I love my Kindle, I only really use it when out and about, otherwise I much prefer a real life book.

New book is:-

The New Collected Short Stories by Jeffrey Archer

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I will continue to review the individual short stories but I now will be reading them on both formats, I’ve also noticed there are short stories in the book that are not on the Kindle, which makes me very happy.

Happy reading everyone.

To purchase this book from Waterstones Click here.

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The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths (A Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery) (Review)

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths (A Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery)

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

The past is reaching out for Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

DCI Harry Nelson is receiving anonymous letters, and their resemblance to those that first drew him to the Saltmarsh, and his first case with Dr Ruth Galloway, has left him uneasy. After all, the author of those letters is dead.

Or are they?

Then he gets a call from Ruth. She is digging on the Saltmarsh, on the site of a henge – a stone circle. And she has found the bones of a young girl.

When the body is identified as that of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old who went missing thirty years ago, the North Norfolk police reopen the cold case. Are the letters a coincidence, or did someone really know all along where Margaret could be found?

Then another body is discovered. Is this death linked to Margaret’s? It seems that feelings run high and someone is guarding their secrets. What else might they know, if only Ruth and Nelson can find them?

Review

I have never read a book by Elly Griffiths before but I saw this one in Waterstones and loved the blurb so thought I would give it a go. I am so pleased I did as I absolutely loved it and I could not put it down. When I should have been sleeping I was reading but being tired in the morning was worth it. I am fast becoming addicted to crime mystery books, I only really started reading them last year and now I am hooked and discovering more and more favourite authors.

Having not read any of the previous books I was a little worried that I would not follow the storylines between the characters but I soon found the book was possible to read as a stand alone. I also loved that there were mini character biographies at the back of the book, this helped me a lot to understand a bit more about what type of people the main characters were. The first thing that became clear was that most of the police force have complicated relationship histories, which is probably made clearer in the previous books.

This book had me hooked just with the first page, the mysterious letter, I immediately wanted to know more. I loved the idea of an archaeological dig uncovering more than expected and the mystery involved behind it.

I really enjoyed the concept of this book, most crime novels centre around the chief detective but this centres around a Doctor and not any Doctor, a forensic archaeologist. Seeing the crime from Dr Ruth’s point of view is very interesting and eye opening. I found Ruth an interesting character, she loves her daughter deeply and is still madly in love with the father of her child even though they are not together. She also lives for her work and should be thinking of progressing up the career ladder but can not seem to bare leaving Norfolk, for many complicated reasons.

My first impression of Harry Nelson is that he does not know what he wants in life and is a bit like a lost little boy but he is an excellent police officer who can work out any crime and does not let his problems in his personal life get in the way of his work.

I really enjoyed meeting Harry Nelson’s team and would love to know more about them and so I definitely plan on reading more of the books, I have in fact bought the first one in the series to read next. The other element that I absolutely loved was that I had no idea who the culprit was, I had the completely wrong person in my mind. Quite often with crime mysteries I guess the culprit quite early on, but not this book.

I can not recommend this book enough, I could not put it down. If you love crime mysteries and archaeology then this book is for you, but I must warn you, you might end up with a few sleepless nights because you can not put it down. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase from Waterstones

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Waterstones Challenge: Wolverhampton

Today after teaching we ventured off to Wolverhampton in search of the Waterstones there. This really was an adventure, mainly because we got lost a great deal.

The traffic was a nightmare getting into Wolverhampton so it was a rather slow journey, then we could not find our planned car park and after driving around in circles we just dumped the car in the nearest car park and hoped for the best. The next problem was finding the store, my phone said a 6 minute walk, this ended up taking about half an hour after getting very lost, again!

Eventually however we found the store and I went in search of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Sammanth Shannon. After a bit of searching we found the book and I think luckily I managed to get the last copy in the store. To be honest I was rather surprised how big the book is but I am very excited to start reading it.

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This store is sadly not a favourite of mine, I found the ground floor very cramped and claustrophobic but the top floor was wonderful, it was open and well organised and a relief from being downstairs.

After our adventure we found a Cafe Nero and had hot chocolates and treats. I thought my ginerbread girl was rather Harry Potteresque.

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Another Waterstones is ticked off the list and I hope to do at least one more this month, I will keep you posted.

Lady Book Dragon.

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