Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reviews of the week!

Wow Thursday already! where did the week go? I suppose that's what happens when you've got your head buried in books, time passes as if unnoticed. Ahh the life of a bookshop boss, it's not that bad really...
Right so here are this weeks delights for you, all the books I've read since last week, some nice little crackers in this bunch (and I do mean little - there seem to be a preponderance of short books being published at the moment, don't get me wrong they are great books on big subjects but just short on pages so they feel more like chapter books to me!).

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All these reviews and indeed a geat many more can be found on the excellent Good Book Stall Website - well worth checking out :D
All the books reviewed here (and don't forget to check out the review page we have on here as well!) and those found on can also be found at or ordered from Unicorn Tree Books too, both in the shop and online at either or or at the wonderful (but please do remember to make us your favourite shop when you visit Hive! the online bookshop where every sale supports independent physical bookshops!)

Title – Confession – Looking Into The Eyes Of God
Author – Paul Farren
Format – Hardback
Price – £8.50
Publisher – Columba Press
Date of Publication – January 2013
ISBN – 978-1-85607-878-8
Reviewer – Melanie Carroll

A short (only 79 pages) but considered book on an important subject, Confession, or more accurately in this case the Act of Reconciliation as practiced in the Catholic church and which in recent years has lost favour. Largely the author works to show us that this is because it has lost meaning and understanding in the eyes of people as to what it is really all about. What at heart it is, Farren says, is an act of love and not an act about Hell or damnation as so many seem to think it is and as he does admit was for a time how it largely seemed to be taught as. The book is a lovingly crafted work on a subject the author really does obviously love and feel a passion for – and this comes over well and with insight, the book flows and reads in a way that feels more like a devotional work or a contemplation, and it really does help open up the view of confession as an act of love so much so that even this non-participant felt it was something they perhaps should give another go.

Title – Like The Wideness Of The Sea – Women Bishops And The Church Of England
Author – Maggie Dawn
Format – Paperback
Price – £6.99
Publisher – DLT
Date of Publication – February 2013
ISBN – 978-0-232-53001-8
Reviewer – Melanie Carroll

A very short book at only 76 pages long, but it is nonetheless considered and insightful, and certainly an important book given the discussions over Women Bishops and the turmoil and unrest that this has really caused within the Church of England. Maggi Dawn has here penned a book that is in part a testimony whilst also setting out clearly the arguments around the issue and the latest vote at Synod. As an ordained Priest within the Church of England and a theologian currently based at Yale Divinity School in the US she is well able to put forward clearly and articulately the issues and pain that is felt by the many women within the church. She pulls no punches in this small book, but neither does she labour the painful issues of sexism and disenfranchisement, rather she comments calmly and lucidly from a position of personal experience. This book is not a harsh condemenation so much as it is an honest imploration for integrity within the Church of England and an understanding of where they are leaving women within its environs. – or perhaps more accurately how they are at risk of leaving them outside those environs.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue this is perhaps a good book to read on a tricky and emotional subject.

Title – Neighbors – Short Reflections On Loving The People Around Us
Author – Chiara Lubich
Format – Paperback
Price – £5.95
Publisher – New City Press
Date of Publication – November 2012
ISBN – 978-1-56548-476-4
Reviewer – Melanie Carroll

Chiara Lubich is well known in Catholic circles as she was president of the catholic lay movement Focolare, she passed away in 2008 but her works still speak loudly and deserve a wide audience beyond the catholic church. This small book is a collection of short insights she offered over time to do with neighbours and neighbourliness. They are gentle and have an air at times of the mystic to them even though utterly down to earth at the same time,‘Only God can form His image in someone. We can only ruin Him.’
They would suit a wide range of situations and would be perfect for a devotional time but could also be used as a basis for communal prayers or intentions within a wide setting of groups and organisations. Some of them, like the consideration on page 68 on ‘Today’s Poor’, could also make very good discussion starters for groups indeed. A lovely little book for anyone looking to reflect on the issue of Neighbours.


Title – There Must Be More Than This …  Let God Write Your Story
Author – Stepehn Rademan
Format – Paperback
Price – £7.99
Publisher – Valleys Ablaze (Dist. Joining The Dots)
Date of Publication – February 2013
ISBN 978-1-907080-36-4
Reviewer Melanie Carroll

A short (just over 100 pages long) testimony book that rather than being a long biography style testimony is instead a series of incidents in the Authors life that he uses to show that God is active in his life and that he can be in yours too. These incidents happen at home, abroad on missions, in his personal life and in his public ministry, and they all combine to be evidence of God’s continuing activity in his life. They are short and well written and easy to digest. This book would most appeal to those within the Pentecostal or charismatic traditions because a lot of the testimonies do involve things like active healing, revelation and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Each testimony also comes with a solid bible scripture to uphold it and underpin it, this is also used as the foundation for showing how this testimony can in it’s own way also be a teaching for others. The underlying message of the book is that God is active in your life, believe in him and trust in him.

Title – Friends In Christ – Paths To A New Understanding Of Church
Author – Brother John of Taize
Format – Paperback
Price – £14.99
Publisher – Orbis books (Dist. Alban)
Date of Publication – August 2012
ISBN – 978-1-64698-000-6
reviewer Melanie Carroll

This is an absolutely wonderful book on friendship, and through that friendship it is a book on how the church could really be and should really be. It is beautiful in it’s simplicity of heart and message and amazing in it’s depth of understanding, conviction and well reasoned argument. This book does not fail to address the issues that arise from friendship, the problems of friends falling out, of who is a friend etc, it also does not fail to acknowledge that a church based on friendship could have problems on leadership and authority if not done right, but at the end of the day you are left convicted that only when we truly reach out in friendship will we truly connect to the church as God and Christ wanted it to be. It’s also a book that gives you a lovely glimpse into the ethos and day to day understanding of Taize, and that is a lovely picture. This book is certainly one for anyone who has been touched by Taize in anyway, but more it is also one for anyone that wants to see the church be all it can be and/or wants to grapple with the real issue of friendship.

Title – Fresh Expressions Of Church And The Kingdom Of God (Ancient Faith, Future Mission Series)
Author – Various
Format – Paperback
Price – £16.99
Publisher – Canterbury Press
Date of Publication – July 2012
ISBN 978-1-84825-091-8
Reviewer Melanie Carroll

The third book in the Ancient Faith, Future Mission Series that looks at and arises out of the Fresh Expressions movement within the UK. This is a series of articles from well known contributors that look at the movement as it is happening and practiced, but looks also with a critical eye, noting at times the tensions between intent and action, between saying and doing and this is extremely important, not least to help set up a framework of understanding and argument against what critics may say, but also as a checks and measures balance thing within the movement itself.
As someone from within the Fresh Expressions movement, as it were, I found this book to be intelligent and erudite in it’s theology and outlook, especially noteable for me where the chapters by Cray, Tickle and Harvey, although the others were still very good and spanned a range of idea’s within the movement. Certainly one for any involved or interested in Fresh Expressions of Church, but probably also good for those outside the movement too.

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