Teach us to pray – Gordon T.Smith

The Details

Author: Gordon T.Smith

Genre/category: Non-fiction/Christian life

Where can I buy it? Here

Release date: 17th April 2018

Review

There are a lot of books about prayer. Tons and tons of them. I’ve read a few. There have been points in my life in which I have found prayer the simplest, most natural thing. And there have been other times when I’ve struggled with it, and it seemed like a reasonable response to turn to a book.

This book is the one I could have done with finding years ago.

Teach Us To Pray is a direct book. It doesn’t waffle. It doesn’t go off on tangents. It explains what it needs to explain clearly and left me feeling informed and prepared, as opposed to overwhelmed and a bit confused.

The book covers three main principles – thanksgiving, confession, and discernment. Smith explains each of these briefly, and then in detail, explaining how each one is vital to deepen and enrich our prayer lives. Smith is obviously very well informed, but he makes it simple to understand.

It’s a small book, but sometimes less is more. Smith’s words drove me to want to pray more, which is probably the best praise I can give it. I’d recommend it anyone who needs a boost in their prayer life, or a reminder of what the basics are.

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Missing Pieces – Laura Pearson

I am a book reviewer for NetGalley, which means I received this book for free in exchange for a review. Click here for more information.

The Details

Author: Laura Pearson

Genre/category: General Fiction

Release date: 21st Jun 2018

Where can I buy it? Pre-order here

Review

Missing Pieces follows the Sadler family – Mum Linda, Dad Tom, and their daughters – in the immediate aftermath of a terrible tragedy, one that eventually tears the family apart.

I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but I think it’s better to not give anything away. I’ll talk about the general themes, though – chiefly, the theme of grief and loss. The pure pain that Linda feels is almost uncomfortable to read. This is a book that does not shy away from grief; in fact, it stares grief full in the face. Quite a few times, the beautiful writing about loss took my breath away, and made me cry. I do feel that I wouldn’t have been able to read it had I been in a vulnerable place myself – but then again, I think as a society we are uncomfortable with death, and we don’t like to face up to it, but books like this help to shed light on it.

The book is split into two sections – the first few weeks and months after the tragedy, and then 25 years later, where we see one of the daughters, Bea, attempting to uncover what exactly happened all those years ago, and why her family won’t give her the answers to her questions.

The theme of identity shines through Bea’s character, who feels that a large part of her history is missing, and that she cannot move into a new chapter of her life without it being resolved. All the family members struggle with this – reconciling the past with who they have become, and working out how to accept what happened and move into the future, hopefully repairing their relationships in the process.

Missing Pieces is a gripping read, partly because the main details of the incident itself are kept from you, with little hints here and there as to what happened. You feel as though you are going on a journey with Bea as she tries to uncover the truth.

I loved the writing style, too – it was easy to get into, but beautifully descriptive.

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The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989-2000 – Nicole Dieker

 

The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989-2000 – Nicole Dieker

I am a book reviewer for NetGalley, which means I received this book for free in exchange for a review. Click here for more information.

The Details

Author: Nicole Dieker

Genre/category: General Fiction

Release date: 23rd May 2017

Where can I buy it? Here

Review

The Biographies of Ordinary People follows the Gruber family – Rosemary and Jack, and their three daughters, Meredith, Natalie, and Jackie. Starting in 1989 and ending in 2000, you get to watch the three daughters grow from imaginative little girls into adults (or at least in Meredith’s case).

The thing I liked the most about this book was the time period. I was born a year before this story begins, and it felt nostalgic and very real to me – the advent of the internet and the lack of awareness of how much it would change the world, the pop culture references, the fashion. It felt genuine and not overdone.

It is very much a character driven book. You get to spend time with each member of the family, delving into their thoughts and emotions. I liked the differences between each sister, and Dieker is skilled at writing from a child’s perspective. I think my favourite parts of the book were the moments when the girls were lost in play together. It reminded me of that long-ago feeling of being with a friend and entering an imaginary world, where real life is suspended and you almost become someone else. I see that in my daughter now as she plays sometimes.

I also felt a connection with the mother, Rosemary. As she watches her daughters, she notices them growing slightly apart from each other as well as from her, a natural progression as children grow into teenagers and young adults. It’s sad and inevitable at the same time. As well as this, she has to cope with the decline of her own mother, finding herself sandwiched between the needs of her husband and children, and the needs of the woman who raised her. I found her storyline the most compelling.

The characters are the strength of the book – they felt real, and three-dimensional, and rooted in reality, as though the author had spent a long time with them, imagining the people they were to be. Even the minor characters – mostly friends of the girls – are interesting and have depth to them.

However, if you like a book that has you clinging onto the edge of your seat for the next plot point, I’d say it’s not for you. It’s immersive, but not as a thrilling, can’t-put-it-down plot-driven book. It’s immersive because you come to care about the characters enough to keep reading. There were times, however, when I expected something to happen, something dramatic within the lives of the family in order to disrupt things, and it mostly didn’t. Which, I guess, isn’t the point: it’s not called The Biographies of Ordinary People for no reason. But if you like richly-developed characters and would enjoy a nostalgia trip to the nineties, I’d recommend it!

I should add, too, that it is a series, and the second book is due to be released in May. I am tempted to buy it at some stage to see what happens to the characters.

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