Discerning the Voice of God Workbook: How to Recognize When God Speaks by Priscilla Shirer- a 5/5 Star Review!

I picked up this workbook because a friend invited me to join a Women’s Bible Study group at our church. I am very glad she did! It was a 6 week course that we did and it was brief yet deep. It is not a study to just scratch the surface of Christian fluff, this is very interactive. This workbook was also easy to keep up with daily as the “homework” was only a couple of pages per day.

Priscilla Shirer gives stories that relate to the study as well as stories that are easy to relate to. I did not expect to learn so much from this study and I look forward to reading her other books. She has a way of teaching biblical principles by showing where they come from as well as making them applicable to modern day life. I would recommend this book for any Christian looking to dig a little deeper into their faith. I would also recommend this for any non-Christian who may be curious about Christianity.

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I Am No One by Patrick Flanery Book Review: 1/5 Stars

Jeremy O’Keefe is a professor who, once his marriage fell apart, accepted a job overseas at Oxford.  However, once his life there falls apart, he finds himself back in New York.  What happened in Oxford is slowly (and I do mean slowly) revealed as well as the hidden purpose for his return to the states.  As he struggles to find his stride back in New York, questions of his mental state arise as he seems, to his family, to become paranoid.  Is he going crazy or is the man on the sidewalk who stares up at his window every night actually stalking him?

The summary sets up the novel to be a psychological thriller when it really is just a pompous old man’s rhetoric on the fall of privacy.  As for the ending, there does not appear to be one.  It seemed like the author had considered continued but even he had bored himself so exhaustively with this writing that he could not go on any longer.  That might be harsh, but it might also be true.

It is very easy to forget that this is written in a documentary style.  This makes Jeremy’s excessively detailed narrative frustrating because the said excessive detail does not appear to come around as necessary at any point.  Two examples of this are: the argument of placing his accent and the repetition of useless information.  Americans find his accent to be too British, Brits find his accent too American.  This argument occurs far too many times to be funny or interesting, whichever the author was originally intending.  Another example is the frequent description of Jeremy “staying in” for the night by turning on the radio for news and eating Vietnamese take-out.  This is not only described once, but several times but nothing comes of it-he just really likes Vietnamese cuisine.

Additionally irritating is the general theme of loneliness that looms throughout the book.  This theme is irritating because it is displayed in a tone of conceit despite feeling victimized.   There is not much content worth reading in the first half of the book, aside from the timeline of his venture to and from England.

In conclusion, I felt that the novel was long-winded, anticlimatic, and redundant.  I would not recommend this book unless you enjoy getting stuck next to the rambling stranger on the plane, the subway, or relative at a family function who really just enjoy hearing themselves talk.

For those who may be sensitive: I did not read any foul language, sexually suggestive scenarios, nor direct violence.  However, it should also be noted, that I did skim over some parts of the book that were particularly verbose.

Please note: a physical copy of this book was provided via LibraryThing.

5/5 Star Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue stuns again! I had read Room in the past and made the mistake of thinking this book might be along the same lines. It was not. The only way that they compare is that the main character has had an adverse experience before the novel begins, the focus on the strength of a child, and an underlying theme on whether or not a certain set of parents “deserve” their children.

Lib is a nurse assigned to observe Anna, an eleven year old who is gaining notoriety for sustaining without food for months. The last thing she ate was a communion host at church a few months ago and claims to have been living on “manna from heaven”. Lib is an English atheist without a family who now has to work for a very Catholic family and her colleague is a nun. She is determined to have this assignment end early by finding the truth behind this obvious lie from a child. As more and more shifts go by, she begins to wonder if the child is even lying at all.

Anna is a young child who is very strong in her faith (she prays the same prayer 33 times a day, along with the rosary at night) yet is losing strength in her body. She does not complain, instead believes the fast from food is worth the struggle if it means her dear brother Pat can be saved from purgatory. “Poor Pat” died quickly from a stomach illness months before the novel begins. The illness was so swift that he was not able to confess his sins before his death and therefore believed to be stuck in purgatory until his family prays enough for him to be released into heaven. Can Anna’s love for her brother keep her strength going long enough for Pat’s release?

Anna’s parents, the O’Donnells, are grieving the loss of their son, yet trying their best to maintain their farm and handle Anna’s new fame. People from far distances stop by their humble home just to catch a glimpse of her. Mrs. O’Donnell especially seems to enjoy the visitors and Mr. O’Donnell prefers to keep working rather than entertaining. But when Lib insists that the visitors be turned away for the duration of this observation, Mrs. O’Donnell makes her disapproval very clear.

All of these factor into why I really enjoyed this novel. The culmination was very effective, as was the character development of Lib in particular. There were a few surprising pieces of the novel that add depth to the characters. There were a few characters that did not turn out to be who I was expecting them to be. Emma Donoghue has a way of describing day-to-day routines in a way that is unexpectedly intriguing. Furthermore, the evolution of the daily routines disguise the change in path towards the uphill road leading to the conclusion.

Please note: a copy of this novel was generously provided via the publisher through NetGalley.