Sunday, 31 July 2011

Christian Encounters: J. R. R. Tolkien

I was introduced to Tolkien's work as a child through The Father Christmas Letters, and The Hobbit, which my father read to me before bedtime. Like many children, I loved The Hobbit and couldn't wait for the next installment! This led me to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a young teenager, and although I sometimes found it a struggle, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and felt a real sense of achievement when I finished the final volume, along with sadness that the epic story was at an end. I haven't read anything by Tolkien  in about ten years, so I was particularly excited about the prospect of reviewing Christian Encounters: J. R. R. Tolkien for BookSneeze. 

Mark Horne's biography about the author of "the best book of the twentieth century" is concise and easy to read, but informative and thoroughly engaging. Horne presents Tolkien's life in a way that would appeal to a wide readership, including a younger audience. As the title suggests, Horne's focus is Tolkien's religious and spiritual life, and this recurs throughout the book. Horne writes this well, and in a way that both Christians and non-Christians can relate to. It has a good Christian message throughout, and Horne weaves this into the biography well. 

As an aspiring author, I enjoyed reading about Tolkien's writing habits, and how past experiences may have influenced his stories and inspired his characters, alongside the long and sometimes frustrating journey of a writer trying to get his work to a publishable standard. I could definitely relate to Tolkien's perfectionism! 

What came through was Horne's admiration for Tolkien, which I am sure many readers will also share. This is definitely a book for Tolkien fans, but may also be enjoyed by people who haven't previously read anything by Tolkien. 

I review for BookSneeze®

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Travelling Notebook

Don't forget to sign the visitor's page!

Introductory page and rules

My pages! Can you guess what I wrote about?

I am sending the notebook on to my prospective sister-in-law, Tamara, but I am also working on a second notebook (called The Book of Dreams) which will be sent on to Anna, who inspires me. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

God's Love Letters to You

God's Love Letters to You is a "40 Day Devotional Experience" based on 66 Love Letter's also by Dr Larry Crabb. Each devotional focuses on one of the books of the Bible, and provides us insight into God's love for us through Crabb's personal conversations with God. The format of each devotional is simple: it opens with a title and a Bible verse relevant to the day's theme, followed by three or four paragraphs summarising what God is saying to us through this particular book of the Bible. Crabb provides us with some reflective, and sometimes quite challenging, questions and then closes with a short prayer. Each devotional takes just a couple of minutes to read, but readers are encouraged to take more time over the questions to ensure they get the most out of it. 

I am reading this alongside my other devotionals, and I am impressed by what I've read so far. It has really challenged me and changed my perspective on certain aspects of my personal relationship with God. Crabb writes with genuine spiritual wisdom and discernment, and his conversation with God is deep and compelling. I believe this devotional will really help me to engage with the Bible and take more from it, as well as encouraging my own faith. I would recommend this to any Christian, whatever stage they are at on their journey with God. 

I review for BookSneeze®

Sunday, 10 July 2011

I've Been Busy!

...Working like a Trojan at Sainsbury's... Driving to work or to Spud's house, and then home again... Getting to bed by 9pm to ensure I get a good night's sleep before work the next day... Going to church... Tending my strawberry and tomato plants (which are doing very well!)... Writing short stories... Chatting to my parents on the phone... Writing letters to friends... Nursing Spud back to health... Planning two Travelling Notebooks... Washing up... Doing my daily devotional readings... Chatting to my Treasure... Helping out at Boy's Brigade... Praying... Applying for a job... Spending time with Spud... Showering... Knitting (but only as of today)... Making the first few wedding preparations... Having recurring nightmares about the wedding... Reading blogs and wishing I had something more interesting to blog about... Reading when I get a spare moment... Dreaming... Adjusting to the new blogger format (which I hate!)... Playing my flute at communion... Enjoying the sunshine... Enjoying the rain... Wishing I had more time to write... Wishing I had more time...

Not all in that order of course! Perhaps this explains my absence...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

On This Day...

...A year ago, I moved into Treasure's spare bedroom. Her son answered the door to us, and Spud and I began to ferry a car-full of my belongings up the stairs and into my new room. It took several trips, but soon we were done, and we then joined Treasure downstairs for refreshments. I spent most of the day unpacking and arranging the room as I wanted it to be, while Spud lounged on one of the beds. Treasure made us salads for lunch, and then she went out for a hour or two. When I was finished unpacking, Spud and I curled up on the bed and watched a film, which finished just as Treasure called me down for dinner: salmon with potatoes and veg. Spud went home, and soon Treasure and I were talking easily, enjoying each other's company. 

I don't remember the evening, but I know I sat in my room awhile, trying to adjust to the place that would be my home for the next two years: the halfway house between leaving home and finding a house of our own. That night I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable in my new bed. That was the only sleepless night I endured here. I'm happy. Treasure is lovely and we get on like a house on fire. And the last year has flown by!