Sunday, 26 August 2012

It's Autobiography Time

I was recently asked the question Why do you enjoy reading biographies? My answer to this question was - they inspire me and make me look at life in different way. They make me try different things and give me an insight into a world in which I would not normally play a part. Christian biographies make me realise that often I am not on my own in the way I feel and that there are many others who stand beside me. They make me marvel and wonder and cheer at the people who are portrayed in them, and take me away from my own world for a brief period of time.

The two books in todays blog certainly cover all of those points and more. I have read both of them this week and although both different, they each demonstrate that we as humans have a teancity of will and spirit which can go beyond what we could ever think we could bear.

The first, and this is in no order of favouritism or liking one more than the other is Hiking Through: One Mans Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul V. Stutzman.

This book had me so engrossed I literally could not put it down, starting to read at midday and finishing at midnight. The book starts when the authors wife is firstly diagnosed with and then dies of cancer. In order to fulfill a promise to himself whilst she was ill he hikes the whole length of the appalachian trail in order to come to terms with her death, and work out his relationship with God, who he is busy blaming for her death. This book had me gripped from the get go. From the inital preparations for the hike, to the very final step I felt like I had gone every single step right alongside him, at all times being completely immersed in his story. Paul is an excellent writer and he brings the breathtaking scenery, the storms, the sunlight, the pain , the joy. the good days and the bad completely to life. I could imagine every single detail as though I were actually there. Paul at times hikes alone and at others is accompanied by a cast of colourful characters, these being the other hikers on the trail. At times eccentric, they still demonstrate the rich tapestry of people who each year take to the trail to complete its 2100 miles. But this is so much more than a physical tale it is also one of a spiritual seeking after God. Each person has their reasons for going on the trail, and for Paul this journey is one of finding himself closer to God. At times he speaks to, and is answered by, God. Although God is talked about and Pauls faith is real, this part of the story does not overwhelm and is a natural part of the story. There are moments of sadness, moments of laughter, moments of joy and many moments of just putting one foot in front of the other, but they all add to the richness of the story. When the final step was taken I felt like I was losing a good friend. I celebrated with him, and then had to move on. An excellent book which I would highly recommend.

The Mansion Across the Street (ACK ONLY)
My next book is The Mansion Across the Street: Abundantly Beyond all that We Ask or Think  by Rose Anne Daniels.

In this book the author gives an honest and brave account of her life, particularly her struggles with bipolar disorder. Having had a somewhat difficult and, in some ways, unconventional upbringing, her childhood and early life was not the easiest. Then in her twenties she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and committed to a psychiatric hospital without her consent. This could be a book which is as depressing as the disorder of which it speaks, yet it is not. It is full of hope and courage and Rose Anne's faith in God shines through in every page. She does not feel sorry for herself, but lives her life to the full and in the way God would want her to. Her life and everything she does is firmly rooted in scripture. As I say the author is extremely honest and I felt that I was right there with her throughout. During this time Rose Ann knew that God was with her and would help her to get through anything.There were many times in this book where I found myself crying, but there are also many moments of joy, and sharing in Rose Anne's excitement of life. Despite being told she would never amount to much she now has a nursing degree and works with Brain Injured patients. This is a moving account which fills you with hope and gives you the courage and determination to deal with whatever situation God has put you in. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has or is interested in bipolar disorder, and to anyone who is struggling with their own issues. It will bring you hope.
As I say, two very different, but eqaully honest and encouraging memoirs. I am cetainly glad that each of the authors wrote them as they give me hope and strength that I can cope with any situation which may come my way. I feel as if I have made two friends, and far from leaving them behind, I know their words and actions will be with me well into the future. I hope you enjoy these books and until next time, keep reading.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Psalm 23 Mysteries

As you have probably gathered by now if you have been reading my blogs I have a wide taste in reading. My two favourite genres however, are Christian Literature (or fiction) and Murder Mysteries. This series The Psalm 23 Mysteries by Debbie Viguie combine both, so perfect for me then. These are mainly murder mysteries and the Christian Theme is subtle rather than in your face, about the right mixture I feel. There are 4 books in the series so far and today I am dedicating this blog to introducing you to all four books.

The first book The Lord is my Shepherd introduces you to Cindy, a church Secretary who, on going to work one morning stumbles over the body of a man, a parishioner, dead in the church sanctuary. Cindy's screams bring Jeremiah, the Rabbi from the Synagogue next door, running to her rescue. In this way the two main characters are introduced to us, and to each other. It is a fast apced opening to a book and the thrills, of what turns out to be a fast paced ride, continue from here. You never know what is going to happen next, and just when you think things are on an even keel, along comes something else which takes you completely by surprise. The characters are well drawn and completely believable. The intraction between Cindy, Jeremiah and the detective Mark is portrayed just right. We get to know enough about their background to keep us wanting to find out more in the next book. There are hints that Jeremiah is not all what he seems, enough to tantilise but not irritate.  Thre is also a frisson of interest between Cindy and Jeremiah, with enough happening to keep the reader interested, but enough left out to want you to keep reading the next book. The mystery is top notch and the scenes are described well, if a little graphically. I personally don't mind this but I have mentioned just in case it would not be everyone's cup of tea.

The second book in the series I shall not want is an excellent and certainly worthy follow up to the first.  The first body appears within the first few pages and they continue to come thick and fast. In this novel someone is murdering dog owners and stealing their dogs. The first murder is apparently unrelated to these events and this seems slightly puzzling, but the author pulls it in beautifully before the end. Cindy and Jeremiah are back in this book, although we do  hear slightly less of Jeremiah. This said we do get to see a bit more of who he really is and a little bit of insight into his mysterious past. That said it was just enough to keep you wanting to find out more. There is not so much interaction between Cindy and Jeremiah in this book either, but enough to keep us waiting for the next installment. The sign of a good writer I feel. This book would work as a stand alone with regards to the mystery element but you may be slightly confused with regards to the personal lives of, and interaction between, the main characters.

The third novel in the series is Lie Down in Green Pastures  and what a book it is. I read it from start to finish in one go barely taking a break. This is certainly a book which grabs you by the troat and holds your attention. Yet again Cindy and Jeremiah find themselves surrounded by a veritable array of dead bodies. Cindy is still in Town but Jeremiah has gone to a camp with a group of kids from both the church and the synagogue. He then gets stranded with some of the kids, and without giving the game away the tension builds rapidly from here, with of course, Cindy riding (figuratively) to the rescue. I certainly didn't guess the end or who did it. There is a cliff hanger at the end which will make you want to read the next book immediately. I, unfortunately, had to wait for some time for it to be released, but fortunately for anyone interested in reading these books it is now available.

The fourth novel in the series Beside Still Waters has only recently been released.  The continuing story  of Cindy and Jeremiah continues to delight and enthrall as have all three of the previous books which you will have seen by my reviews.  This is an excellent series and this book was as good as, if not better than, the others. Cindy, has gone off to Hawaii to have a well deserved rest, probably from the mayhem and madness and array of dead bodies which seem to litter her path and life. Needless to say she hasn't been there for long when she stumbles over, yes, another dead body and another murder. Someone then tries to murder her and she ends up kidnapped. Jeremiah, the Rabbi from the synagogue next door, who is mulling over his own dark and secret past, rushes to her aid the minute he realises she is missing. The action and tension in this book had me on the edge of my seat and breathless with excitement practically from the beginning. As the action unfolds we get to know a little more of Jeremiah's past, but you will need to read the book to find out what this is as I don't want to spoil the story. Jeremiah and Cindy's relationship also develops a little and we get to see more of their feelings for each other. With regards to whether the question of the cliffhanger is settled, again you will have to read the book. No plot spoilers here. This is an excellent book. If you have read the first three you will love it. If you haven't the mystery part will still be enjoyable but the relationships between the characters and the reasons they' are like they are will not. I would advise you to read them in order. A brilliant book which I would highly recommend.

I have not read any of Debbie Viguie's other books, but I would say from this series she is an excellent writer. She uses words to very good effect, to pull you into the story and to keep you wondering what is going to happen next. The plotlines in each and every book are superb, and highly entertaining. My only regret now is that book number five is not being released for some time. What on earth am I going to do to keep myself entertaned until then. Oh yes, I know, read some of the several thousand other books I have, and no I am not exagerating. See you next time in the bookaholics blog. Until then enjoy whatever book you are reading.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Only Person on Earth Who Hates Fifty Shades of Grey

The Only Person on Earth Who Hates Fifty Shades of Grey.

 I'm taking time out of my day to share the Blog Post of Julie Cave a Christian Writer. She is not the only person who hates these books. I also feel everyone has jumped on the bandwagon with this trilogy. I wont say any more as Julie has said it so well and sets out the reasons why there is danger in this type of book.

Like Julie I am not moralising here. I just have concerns that this type of book that venerates violence with sex has become mainstream. Neither am I denying people the right to read this book should they choose to do so. However, there are so many excellent books out there and I just feel sorry that people are not reading these instead.

My next Blog Post will be a bit more cheery than this I promise and will be outlining some of the books which I believe can bring enjoyment without all the sex and violence. Until then, have a great day

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A thin Film of Lies

I have recently read a book which. I enjoyed so much it is getting a blog post all to itself. The author C. S. Lakin asked me to read and review her book, A Thin Film of Lies and I am so glad she did. This book is essentially a psychological thriller with a strong Christian Theme running throughout.

Initially there are 2 seemingly disparate stories, both of which were interesting in themselves. The first was that of a young woman who is killed in a hit and run and what initially seems like an accident turns into a murder investigation. The second is that of a young married couple Alisha and Mike whose marriage is displaying an undercurrent of trouble. It is difficult to see how these stories link but when the answer comes it hits you between the eyes. The tension builds up throughout the book and one character who initially appears to be pleasant and helpful soon turns out to be completely unhinged. This character and her storyline is brilliantly written and Lakin's writing has you right inside her mind. All the main characters are drawn well and I could picture them perfectly.

With regards to building tension this book is spot on. The tension mounts ever higher throughout the book and I found myself literally breathless at times. On the one hand I couldn't wait to find out what happened and on the other I didn't want the book to end. Lakin is a writer who uses words well to completely draw you in and immerse you in the story.

The main detective in the story Fran Anders is a Christian and as I say the Christian Theme comes through strongly throughout the book. However, this is interlinked with the storyline in such a way that it comes across as completely natural and is not in any way overwhelming. She is a character with her own flaws and weaknesses and this makes her all the more real. This can be something which is often missing in Christian Fiction.

I would highly recommend this book and also C. S. Lakin as a writer. It is brilliantly written and definitely worth every penny you pay for it.