Reviews: May 2013

Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine

Part recipe book, part reflection on the embodiedness of life, this book is beautiful!  Niequist ‘love letter to life around the table’ weaves mouthwatering descriptions of food with reflections on family and friendship.  Though I had not read any of her work before and am not a passionate reader of recipe books by any means, I loved this book.

Niequist, daughter of Bill Hybels, writes with the ease of someone who has thought deeply, lived fully and is now ready to write about it.  Whilst you might be forgiven for wondering whether a famous father gives her a platform which might make her attractive to a publisher irrespective of her actual ability to write, Niequist needs only one paragraph to make clear that she can certainly write: I was captivated by her style!  The honesty and raw immediacy with which Niequist writes are powerful and make this an easy yet worthwhile read.  One to get hold of…

I received a free e-copy of this book from Booksneeze in return for a fair review.

Ian Morgan Cron, Chasing Francis

Chase Falson, megachurch minister, loses his faith in a fairly spectacular way: mid-sermon!  The elders are understandably concerned and encourage him to take some time away while they decide what to do.  Chase goes to Italy to see his uncle, a Franciscan priest, and there stumbles across the life and teachings of Francis of Assisi.  Though a fictional account, this story is packed full of information about Francis and I found this aspect of the book fascinating.  I really don’t have time to begin to research him further for now – given my existing research commitments! – but this book made me wish that I could.  Worth a read if you want to find out more about Francis without wading into the heavier biographical material.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley.

Nicky Cruz, The Devil Has No Mother

I will never forget my first reading of Run Baby Run as a new Christian.  This book was similar although it did not hit me as hard.  It focuses on the reality of the spiritual world and particularly the demonic.  Whilst I did not love the book, I would definitely recommend it to newer Christians as it is packed full of good teaching on these realities and the teaching material is interspersed with some gripping accounts of Cruz’s own real-life experience of demonic attacks.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley.

Frank Viola, God’s Favorite Place on Earth

Hmm, not what I was expecting.  At all!  But then I confess that I never know quite what to expect with Viola’s writing.  Sometimes I love it; sometimes, I’m afraid to say that I hate it.  This one I sort of loved and hated!  It’s fictionalised truth yet with a twist.  (I think it was the twist which made me not sure about this book.)  But let me explain…

Viola’s latest offering is a fictionalised account of the family in Bethany whom Jesus loved.  Written in the first person from the perspectives of  Lazarus, Mary and Martha, this book is beautiful and was an encouragement to me to reflect upon the relationships within this family as well as their friendship with Jesus.  I do enjoy fiction and especially historical fiction; when that fiction is as well-researched as this seems to be, the joy is all the greater.

But then there was the twist.  Picture me, caught up in this carefully-woven story, enjoying being lost in the text, and then suddenly – out of nowhere – comes the non-fiction bit.  This is the bit where Viola offers commentary on the story that he has been telling.  And it’s not that the commentary was bad; it wasn’t.  But it just felt like a rude awakening every time it happened – that is, in every chapter!  I wish it could have been presented in some other way, perhaps by dividing the book into two halves, but I recognise that this format would have been a conscious choice of the author’s; it just didn’t work for me.

Overall?  Worth a read but don’t get lost in the story-telling as you won’t be allowed to stay there for long!

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley.

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