Helpless by Barbara Gowdy

This was an interesting book to read, and as I sit here writing this book I’m still trying to decide what I make of it. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Celia is the struggling single mother of an exceptionally, angelically beautiful child: nine-year-old Rachel. All too aware of the precarious balance of the life she has built for the two of them, she worries about her daughter’s longing for the father she has never met. When Rachel disappears one summer night during a blackout, Celia is stricken with guilt and terror about what her choices might now mean for her daughter’s fate. The media coverage of the abduction is tremendous, running nationwide. Closely monitoring events is Ron, an appliance repairman who lives in the neighbourhood. Though Rachel is a stranger to him, he convinces himself that she is his responsibility. His feelings for her are at once tender, misguided and chillingly possessive. Tapping into the fears that lie just beneath the surface of modern urban life, HELPLESS is a haunting and provocative story of heart-stopping suspense.

The beginning of the book had me gripped and I got half way through the book quickly, however my interest started to wain around then and it was a bit of a struggle to finish the book.

Gowdy addresses some difficult issues – single parenting, child abduction and paedophiles. I felt she looked at these issues well, there was nothing offensive or heavy about how she dealt with these. I felt it was good to write a book about these things as they are a real threat in our society.

I have mixed feelings about the characters. I liked how Gowdy looked in depth at the Rachel, who went missing and Ron, the man who felt responsible for Rachel. However, others key characters such as Celia the mother and Mika the landlord and trusted friend lacked a little depth and I felt I did not know them as well.

This isn’t a long book, and was quite a good read. I didn’t like the ending, I do not think it was realistic. There were many other ways Gowdy could have ended the book, I just wasn’t convinced by it.

6/10

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

I picked this book to read as a quick, chick-lit book. However, it is too well written to be classed as that. There is a strong story, great characters and a bit of knitting that made this a lovely, exciting read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book: The Friday Night Knitting Club. Jacobs turned out to be a great writer, and I will definitely be looking out for her work. Here is the synopsis:

Casting on! It starts almost by accident: the women who buy their knitting needles and wool from Georgia’s store linger for advice, for a coffee, for a chat and before they know it, every Friday night is knitting night. Finding a pattern! And as the needles clack, and the garments grow, the conversation moves on from patterns and yarn to life, love and everything. These women are of different ages, from different backgrounds and facing different problems, but they are drawn together by threads of affection that prove as durable as the sweaters they knit. The Friday Night Knitting Club – don’t you want to join?

My favourite character was Georgia’s daughter Dakota I think. I loved watching her grow up, search for her roots and I loved her passion for baking, one of my passions too! However, I did love all the characters. Georgia was a beautiful character; strong, independent, reliable and a real role model, showing that women, especially single-mothers can make it big in life, can achieve what they want.

I adored the Club and the people who came along. The attempts at knitting made me laugh, and made me realise how bad I would be if I tried, however, because of this book I do want to give knitting a go. The friendships formed and the way they stuck together through everything was beautiful. This showed how friends can be formed in crazy places, but they are friendships that will last.

Jacobs searched all kinds of issues, from knitting, to love, to race, to cancer. All were written about in a sensitive, commendable way and the issues are dealt with wonderfully.

My only complaints are that not all the characters were explored as much as I would have liked. Both K.C. and Marty I felt I didn’t know enough about and there was one story line involving Anita that I didn’t feel was finished.

Even though this is a book based around knitting, there was not an overload of knitting in the book, and actually, it shows how people of any age can enjoy sitting down and following a pattern.

9/10 – a lovely book, highly recommend it!

Ten by J. John

This book, Ten by J. John looks at the Ten Commandments in a modern way and makes them relevant to us today. It is 300 pages of God, love, common sense and the Bible. The book explains the Ten Commandments, why they were made and how we can keep them in this day and age. A lot of it very helpful and practical. For non-Christians, this religion is not stuffed down the throat; the book gives sensible and practical ways of living a good moral life. There are also some very funny parts, to lighten the load.

There is a lot of information in these pages however, and I don’t think I took all of it on board. It was a bit of a slow read too.

Overall, this is a great way of looking at the Ten Commandments and a new way of living.

8/10

My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison

My Lady Judge

My Lady Judge

This is the first book by Cora Harrison that I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Here is the Amazon synopsis for My Lady Judge:

In the sixteenth century, as it is now, the Burren, on the western seaboard of Ireland, was a land of grey stone forts, fields of rich green grass and swirling mountain terraces. It was also home to an independent kingdom that lived peacefully by the ancient Brehon laws of their forebears. On the first eve of May, 1509, hundreds of people from the Burren climbed the gouged out limestone terraces of Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate the great May Day festival, lighting a bonfire and singing and dancing through the night, then returning through the grey dawn to the safety of their homes. But one man did not come back down the steeply spiralling path. His body lay exposed to the ravens and wolves on the bare, lonely mountain for two nights …and no one spoke of him, or told what they had seen.And when Mara, a woman appointed by King Turlough Don O’Brien to be judge and lawgiver to the stony kingdom, came to investigate, she was met with a wall of silence …’An excellent historical novel with a most original leading character…A true Celtic feast.’ – P. C. Doherty.

This is a murder mystery set in Ireland in the Middle Ages. The main character is Mara, who is the judge of this kingdom. I loved her character. She had so many sides, the teacher, the mother, the judge and the woman. She could be deceptive when necessary, or just to get out of boring social meetings, which made me chuckle. She did have a conscience however. She was fair, calm and friendly. All the characters were well written and many I found an emotional connection too.

I liked the old-fashioned way of investigating the murder. There were several characters who could have been framed and way the murder was solved and reveled reminded me of the old murder mystery shows, with Mara talking to the king about how she worked it out. I guessed who the murder victim was but I did guess who the murderer was. I liked how there were two crimes that needed solving, and how we learned about the family ties and feuds that joined the community together. It was also interesting how Harrison compared English law to Irish law at the time.

I did have problems with the names. There were several long, hard to read names, but I just read over them and inserted my own version of the word.

Harrison’s description of Ireland in the Middle Ages was magical and I found myself transported back there. I will definitely be reading more in this Burren Series.

8/10

Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels

This is a small, easy to read book by Lynne Hybels, a lady who is involved in Christian ministry alongside her husband Bill. This is the first Lynne Hybels book I have read, and I found it helpful and interesting.

Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” My version of that quote is: “Never doubt that a community of thoughtful, committed women, filled with the power and love of God, using gifts they have identified and developed, and pursuing passions planted in them by God – never doubt that these women can change the world.” – Lynne Hybels. Nice Girls are taught early that serving God means earning God’s love and sacrificing oneself to meet the needs of others. Unfortunately, after living a life she thought was what God demanded, her husband wanted, her kids needed, and her church expected, Lynne Hybels felt utterly lost – both to herself and to God. In this wise and tender book, Hybels tells of her struggle to stop living someone else’s life and to reclaim the unique gifts, strengths, and passions God gave her. And she reveals how turning away from her false view of God as a harsh and demanding taskmaster enabled her to rest at last in God’s sustaining love. As she explains, it’s never too late to discover that who you really are is exactly what delights God and what the world needs.

This book is only 96 pages long and has many pictures in it, however this was not a distract, it just added to the pleasantness of the book. Hybels is honest about her life, her old image of God and her depression. This was very refreshing. She is someone who is involved in a big world-wide ministry yet she has experienced horrible emotions just like me. It was nice to know I’m not alone, even women God uses all over the world can suffer too. It was inspiring to read about how she pulled herself out of her depression and how God is now using her.

Hybels teaches about how we have a loving God, not one who is grumpy and looking for perfection. We have a God who loves us as we are and looks after us if we let Him. When God broke through Lynne’s barriers I had a tear in my eye and hope in my heart. She teaches how we must conquer fear, take a step out and be all we can be. We are unique, loved by God and can be dangerous, strong, world changing women.

I found this book easy to read, with a positive message and feel affected by her writing. I now want to go out and be all I can be. Look out world, here I come, full of God’s love, glory and grace.

10/10

Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon

I was drawn to this book by the cover:

I think it those red shoes in contrast with the blue tie, it definitely draws the eye, and I am glad it did.

What to do if Matthew, your secret lover of the past four years, finally decides to leave his wife Sophie and their two daughters and move into your flat, just when you’re thinking that you might not want him anymore …Plan A – Stop shaving your armpits. And your bikini line. Tell him you have a moustache that you wax every six weeks. Stop having sex with him. Pick holes in the way he dresses. Don’t brush your teeth. Or your hair. Or pluck out the stray hag-whisker that grows out of your chin. Buy incontinence pads and leave them lying around.Plan B – Accidentally on purpose bump into his wife Sophie. Give yourself a fake name and identity. Befriend Sophie. Actually begin to really like Sophie. Snog Matthew’s son (who’s the same age as you by the way. You’re not a paedophile). Buy a cat and give it a fake name and identity. Befriend Matthew’s children. Unsuccessfully watch your whole plan go absolutely horribly wrong. “Getting Rid of Matthew” isn’t as easy as it seems, but along the way Helen will forge an unlikely friendship, find real love and realize that nothing ever goes exactly to plan …

This was a good book. Helen quickly realizes she does not want Matthew and her ways to get rid of him are quirky and funny. This book was irresistible, hard to put down. Every time I did stop reading I was dying to know what was going to happen next.

Helen befriends the ex-wife and forms a lovely friendship. This was the highlight of the book for me, and when her true identity was revealed I nearly cried. Their friendship moved me so much, and made me grateful for my friends.

I didn’t like Matthew’s character, I could see why she wanted rid of him! He was slimy, a liar and weak and needy, plus old, not attractive. However, his character was well written and I did find myself disliking him and laughing at him.

I had a few problems with this book. The first is how long Helen’s secret life panned out, I didn’t think that was very realistic. The second was the way the children were written. They are aged 12 and 10 but to be honest it seemed like they were in their teens. And the final thing was I did not like the over-use of bad language.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and was happy to overlook my complaints. This is a great, fun chick lit book.

8/10

Re-Thinking History by Keith Jenkins

This is a higher education book looking at what history is.

Synopsis:

History means many things to many people. But finding an answer to the question ‘What is history?’ is a task few feel equipped to answer nowadays. And yet, at the same time, history has never been more popular – whether in the press, on the television or at the movies. In understanding our present it seems we cannot escape the past. So if you want to explore this tantalising subject, where do you start? What are the critical skills you need to begin to make sense of the past? Keith Jenkins’ book is the perfect introduction. In clear, concise prose it guides the reader through the controversies and debates that surround historical thinking at the present time, and offers readers the means to make their own discoveries.

This is a short introduction book – only 70 pages. It is a bit heavy going however. Jenkins does not have an easy-to-understand writing style however I did get 6 pages of notes from this book. He looks at how history is written, the difference between the past and history, the debate about whether history is art or science and different discourses in history. This book is full of information and excellent for core university courses based on studying history.

7/10