Saturday, 8 December 2012

Todd Burpo: Heaven is for real - A little boy's astounding story of his trip to heaven and back

A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven. 'Heaven Is for Real' is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how 'reaaally big' God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit 'shoots down power' from heaven to help us. Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Fascinating, sad and gripping and life-confirming, positive. Although it's difficult to believe, the book does provide a new view of heaven and makes you rethink your belief.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Sarah Tucker: Battle for Big School

There are 50 places at The Oaks, the best grammar school in Letchbury, and 1,000 children applying. Competition is fierce and parents are prepared to do everything and anything to get their child one of the coveted spaces.

An easy read, but a little disappointing. It wasn't as gripping and funny as it could have been.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Sarah Herbert Robbins: The Everything Parent's Guide to Raising a Gifted Child

Sarah Herbert Robbins, Med is a curriculum development specialist with advanced degrees in designing programs for gifted children. She currently provides training workshops as well as counseling services for parents of gifted children and teaching professionals. She is a former elementary school teacher with direct experience teaching gifted students in both traditional and self-contained classroom environments as well as gifted programs in public school settings. Sarah currently offers advice, posts news pieces, and shares her methods for parenting gifted children on her website,

This book is an absolute eye-opener. Our child has been diagnosed with a high IQ, but we were not aware of how this would affect social and emotional needs and development. This guidebook provides great insight and links to further research and reading, but also some practical ideas to try out at home. This book has certainly helped us understand our child better.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Linda Sonna: Everything Tween Book

A guidebook for dealing with Tweens. The tween years fall between the ages of eight and twelve and can often be a challenging time for both parents and children. This books helps to navigate the trying years between childhood and adolescence and covers serious issues as eating disorders and school violence as well as tolerance for pink and blue hair. The book helps understand the child's psychological, social and emotional needs.

Interesting. Some very fascinating insights into the psyche of young children and pre-teens.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sarah Tucker: The playground mafia

Meet Caroline Gray: divorcee and newly-single mother. Firmly closing the door on her acrimonious divorce, Caroline and son Ben have moved to trendy Frencham where they join Caroline's long-time best friends, Heather and Eva. Settling into their new life is easy, but nothing has prepared Caroline for the demands of motherhood at The Sycamore, the school the trio's beloved offspring attend. Forget classroom bullies, forget trips to the head's office, this is full-scale adult playground politics. This is battle with the mothers who won't take no for an answer -- the Playground Mafia.

Easy chick-lit. This was quite funny in the middle, whilst the first few pages and the ending weren't that brilliant. The story about bullying amongst mothers on the school playground could have been explored a lot more, in greater detail and in more funny ways. But still quite relaxing...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Patricia Cornwell: Unnatural exposure - 8

Dublin, Ireland and Richmond, Virginia: separated by thousands of miles - linked by murder. For Dr Kay Scarpetta a lecture stint in Ireland provides the perfect opportunity to find out if the murders on both sides of the Atlantic are indeed connected. Five dismembered, beheaded bodies were found in Ireland five years ago - now four have been discovered in the States. But the tenth corpse in Virginia is different. There are vital discrepancies, and an indication that the elderly victim was already seriously ill. A copy-cat killing. Ghoulish, perhaps, but not unusual. And then abject terror grips Scarpetta and her colleagues when the next body is found. The circumstances of death broadcast a clear and horrifying message: the killer is armed with the most lethal weapon on earth - smallpox.

This Scarpetta novel was again a treat. The final twist in the "whodunnit" was not predictable at all and kept me intrigued.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Patricia Cornwell: Cause of death - 7

New Year's Eve and the final murder scene of Virginia's bloodiest year takes Scarpetta thirty feet below the Elizabeth River's icy surface. A diver, Ted Eddings, is dead, an investigative reporter who was a favourite at the Medical Examiner's office. Was Eddings probing the frigid depths of the Inactive Shipyard for a story, or simply diving for sunken trinkets? And why did Scarpetta receive a phone call from someone reporting the death before the police were notified?

Great and quick read.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Patricia Cornwell: From Potter's Field - 6

Christmas is not a particularly good time for Dr Kay Scarpetta. A naked, female body is found propped against a fountain in a bleak area of New York's Central Park. Her apparent manner of death points to a modus operandi that is chillingly familiar: the gunshot wound to the head, the sections of skin excised from the body, the displayed corpse - all suggest that Temple Brooks Gault, Scarpetta's nemesis, is back at work.

This was the most predictable of the series so far. It was very gripping, but I really have preferred the previous novels, where in addition to the forensics there were some unexpected twists, too.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Patricia Cornwell: The Body Farm - 5

Black Mountain, North Carolina: a sleepy little town where the local police deal with one homicide a year and so the discovery of the corpse of an 11-year-old girl sends shock waves through the community. Dr Kay Scarpetta is called in to apply her forensic skills to this latest atrocity, but the apparent simplicity of the case proves something of a poisoned chalice...

I had enjoyed the previous Scarpetta novels, but this one certainly was the best so far. Although some of the forensic details became a little confusing at times, the unexpected twists and turns made this novel a great read.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Patricia Cornwell: Cruel and unusual - 4

The fingerprints say the murderer is the man who's just been executed. At 11.05 one December evening in Richmond, Virginia, convicted murderer Ronnie Joe Waddell is pronounced dead in the electric chair. At the morgue Dr Kay Scarpetta waits for Waddell's body. Preparing to perform a post-mortem before the subject is dead is a strange feeling, but Scarpetta has been here before. And Waddell's death is not the only newsworthy event on this freezing night: the grotesquely wounded body of a young boy is found propped against a rubbish skip. To Scarpetta the two cases seem unrelated, until she recalls that the body of Waddell's victim had been arranged in a strikingly similar position.

Gripping and fascinating, although a little far-fetched at times.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Patricia Cornwell: All that remains - 3

A killer is stalking young lovers. Taking their lives and leaving just one tantalising clue. But when the latest girl goes missing turns out to be the daughter of one of the most powerful women in America, Kay Scarpetta finds herself prey to political pressure and press harassment. As she starts to investigate, she finds that vital evidence is being withheld from her - or even faked. And all the time a cunning, sadistic killer is still at large...

Having read two previous Scarpetta novels, I become more interested in Scarpetta's personal life in addition to the forensic aspects.

Patricia Cornwell: Body of Evidence - 2

A reclusive writer is dead. And her final manuscript has disappeared. Thus begins for Dr Kay Scarpetta the investigation of a crime that is as convoluted as it is bizarre. As Scarpetta retraces the writer's footsteps, an investigation that begins in the laboratory with microscopes and lasers leads her deep into a nightmare that soon becomes her own.

Fascinating, quick, thrilling, gripping.

Patricia Cornwell: Postmortem - 1

A serial killer is on the loose in Richmond, Virginia. Three women have died, brutalised and strangled in their own bedroom. There is no pattern: the killer appears to strike at random - but always early on Saturday mornings. So when Dr Kay Scarpetta, she knows there is a fourth victim. And she fears now for those that will follow unless she can dig up new forensic evidence to aid the police.

A quick holiday read. It was great to get into a series of books as to not run out of reading materials. But I sometimes struggled with the outdated approach to investigations. DNA tests, for example, are new...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Thomas Raab: Der Metzger geht fremd

So ein Toter am Grund des Kurschwimmbeckens kann einem schon ziemlich die Laune verderben. Der Danjela Djurkovic jedenfalls. Ihrem Hilferuf folgt Willibald Adrian Metzger aus seiner Restauratorenwerkstatt ein bisschen widerwillig in die Provinz – und findet unerwarteten Familienanschluss sowie bald auch einen abgetrennten Ringfinger.

Wie immer, der Metzger ist ein untypischer Held mit Ängsten und Sorgen und schlittert mehr oder weniger nur wegen der Djurkovic in eine atemberaubende Familientragödie mit erschreckendem Ausgang. Unterhaltsam und nicht immer vorhersehbar, wenn auch die Haifischszenen ein wenig skurril sind.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Tony Hawks: Round Ireland With A Fridge

'I hereby bet Tony Hawks the sum of One Hundred Pounds that he cannot hitchhike round the circumference of Ireland, with a fridge, within one calendar month'. A foolhardy attempt to win a drunken bet led to Tony Hawks having one of the most unforgettable experiences of his life. Joined by his trusty travelling-companion-cum-domestic-appliance, he found himself in the midst of a remarkable, inspirational and, at times, downright silly adventure.An absurd story of an extraordinary adventure, Round Ireland with a Fridge follows the fearless pair as they battle towards Dublin and a breathtaking finale that is moving, uplifting, and a fitting conclusion to the whole ridiculous affair.

Surreal, but a great read and incredibly encouraging and inspiring.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Christine Craggs-Hinton: The Fibromyalgia Healing Diet

This new edition of "The Fibromyalgia Healing Diet" looks at the latest research on how to redress nutritional imbalances, including information about osteoporosis, the importance of vitamin D, and the correct balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat for people with fibromyalgia. Topics include: what it means to have fibromyalgia; why diet is important in treating fibromyalgia; essential nutrients; substances to avoid; supplements that may help; a simple detox programme; losing any excess fat - and the toxins that may go with it; and, delicious recipes.

For reference and to learn about fibro...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Shelley Ann Smith: The Fibromyalgia Cookbook

The rules are few and basic: no meat, no green peppers, no eggplant. But these simple rules - eating pure foods with no additives, the least toxins, and the most nutrition - can give fibromyalgia patients energy and motivation they never thought possible. This title includes: more than 135 delicious recipes; foreword explaining the nature of the disease and the role of diet in finding relief; glossary clarifying the strengths and dangers of specific foods; and, substitution suggestions.

Another fibro book to learn about what's good and what isn't and at the same time some good recipes to try out...

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Victor N. Davich: 8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life.

This book is simple, easy and geared to fit your busy lifestyle. In just 8 minutes a day, you can develop a strong meditation practice that can last you a lifetime.

An interesting and inspiring book, but the lifestyle change is still to be seen, as I am still struggling to meditate...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Chris Jenner: Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome

Written by one of the UK s leading consultants on pain control, this authoritative, yet easily comprehensible book, delivers a high level of understanding and practical advice to the lay reader. Highly recommended. Manage your Fibromyalgia by becoming an expert patient.

Certainly keeps its blurb promises. A good handbook to be read and re-read and re-read again.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Paul Torday: More than you can say

Traumatised by a tour of duty in Iraq, Richard Gaunt returns home to his girlfriend with very little of a plan in mind. Finding it difficult to settle into civilian life, he turns to drink and gambling - and is challenged to a bet he cannot resist. All he has to do is walk from London to Oxford in under twelve hours. But what starts as a harmless venture turns into something altogether different when Richard recklessly accepts an unusual request from a stranger ...

I only got this book as part of a Buy 2 Get 1 Free. I saw the author's name on the book and immediately thought I'd like it, considering how great "Salmon fishing in the Yemen" was. If I'd looked more carefully at the blurb, I certainly would not have chosen this novel. However, I really enjoyed the story. It was a little hard to read at times, when the story turned to Richard's experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Overall, though the adventure story-line captured my interest and kept me going. A fascinating read after all.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Alfred Komarek: Zwölf mal Polt

Alfred Komarek erzählt zwölf neue Geschichten rund um den Weinviertler Kult-Gendarmen Simon Polt. Dabei spannt er einen weiten Bogen von Polts prägenden ersten Tagen im Gendarmeriedienst bis zu seinem späteren Leben als Ermittler im Ruhestand, Ehemann und Vater. Mit seinem unnachahmlichen Gespür für Landschaft und Leute des Weinviertels erzählt Alfred Komarek von den Dörfern und Kellergassen des Wiesbachtals und erlaubt seinen Leserinnen und Lesern neue Begegnungen mit Polt und den liebgewonnenen Menschen um ihn herum: mit der allwissenden Gemischtwarenhändlerin Habesam und dem Winzer Höllenbauer, mit Karin Walter, der Frau an Polts Seite und natürlich mit seinem Kater Czernohorsky.

12 Kurzgeschichten rund um Polt. Interessante und lustige Krimilektüre für zwischendurch.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Tracy Klehn: Prayer starters for busy Moms

When Tracy Klehn's two children were under two years old, she began to pray. Now she shares with other moms what she learned, including the power of praying for their children, families, friends, and themselves. Each of the twelve sections focuses on a different aspect of prayer along with creative ways to strengthen a mother's faith. This book helps women focus on prayer - still leaving them time to get the laundry put away!

Again, I was looking for inspiration to help me become more faithful and spiritual. I loved this book. It's full of short sections on how to talk and listen to God and how to improve one's spirituality. I am already working through some of those suggestions and I will continue doing more over the next months...

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Kim Carpenter: The vow

Life as Kim and Krickitt Carpenter knew it was shattered beyond recognition on November 24, 1993. Two months after their marriage, a devastating car wreck left Krickitt with a massive head injury and in a coma for weeks. When she finally awoke, she had no idea who Kim was. With no recollection of their relationship and while Krickitt experienced personality changes common to those who suffer head injuries, Kim realized the woman he had married essentially died in the accident. And yet, against all odds, but through the common faith in Christ that sustained them, Kim and Krickitt fell in love all over again. Even though Kim stood by Krickitt through the darkest times a husband can ever imagine, he insists, "I'm no hero. I made a vow."

On the hunt for a book that's similar to "The Shack" I stumbled across this one: an absolutely awe-inspiring life-story. Although I knew that the story would end happily, I was moved to tears by the strength of Kim and Krickitt's relationship and love for one another and in particular of their relationship to God. It was certainly that strong faith that helped them through their tough times...

Thomas Raab: Der Metzger holt den Teufel

Willibald Adrian Metzger bekommt Gesellschaft. Denn nicht nur die Polizei rückt ihm im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes zu Leibe, auch eine schöne Unbekannte tritt unvermutet in sein Leben. Alles beginnt damit, dass am Morgen nach dem Besuch eines klassischen Konzerts auch für eine Musikerin des Orchesters der Schlussakkord erklingt - vorbei ist es für den Metzger mit der Ruhe. Und es dauert nicht lange, bis er neben weiteren Musikerinnen mit durchschnittener Kehle und einem unleidlichen Kommissar auch noch schwerwiegende private Probleme am Hals hat ... Thomas Raab schickt seinen erfolgreichen Ermittler Willibald Adrian Metzger in einen neuen Fall, in dem gute Musik und die besseren Kreise bedeutende, wenn auch unrühmliche Rollen spielen.

Aus irgendeinem Grund habe ich lange gebraucht, um dieses Buch zu lesen anzufangen. Aber dann konnte ich es nicht aus den Händen legen. Die verschiedenen Perspektiven und die vielen unerwarteten Wendungen machten den Krimi zu einem tollen Leseabenteuer. Nur das Ende war mir etwas zu vorhersehbar...

Ellen Emerson White: Titanic - An Edwardian girl's diary 1912

Margaret Anne dreams of leaving the orphanage behind, and she can hardly believe her luck when she is chosen to accompany wealth Mrs Carstairs aboard the great Titanic. But when the passengers are woken on a freezing night in April 1912, she finds herself caught up in an unimaginable nightmare...

I had this book at home for a long time, as I got it through a book club once. Now that the Titanic centenary had come around I wanted to see whether this book would be suitable for my son. It wasn't, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt new facts about the Titanic, too.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Jo Brand: Look back in hunger

Jo Brand is one of Britain's funniest and best-loved comedians. With a sharp eye for the absurd and in her own unique voice, she tells her story for the first time. What possessed her to become a professional comedian in the cut-throat world of stand-up comedy after ten years as a psychiatric nurse? How did she deal with late night drunken audiences? From her early years growing up in a small south coast town with two brothers who toughened her up, to emerging on stage as 'The Sea Monster', Jo Brand tells it like it is with wit and candour.

A very interesting life-story and some good humour, as would be expected with Jo Brand. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot about her career as a stand-up comedian, though. So I suppose I'll have to read the second autobiography, too.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Michael Köhlmeier: Der Menschensohn

Die Passion, die Geschichte vom Leiden Jesu und seiner Auferstehung, ist nicht nur das eindrucksvollste Glaubenszeugnis der Urkirche, sondern auch ein Mythos, eine Sage, die Michael Köhlmeier herausforderte, sie auf seine eigene Art frei zu erzählen, und so werden die Ereignisse von Jesu Einzug in Jerusalem bis zu seiner Kreuzigung und Auferstehung zu Menschengeschichten von Liebe und Verrat, Zweifel und Vertrauen, Not und Erlösung.

Die Geschichte Jesu von Nazareth erzählt aus der Sicht des Ungläubigen Thomas. Wie immer bei Köhlmeier, leicht verdaulich und leicht erzählt. Eine etwas andere Art die Geschichte von Ostern nachzuempfinden.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Jodi Picoult: Lone Wolf

When Luke Warren is involved in a car accident which leaves him in a coma, his family are gathered together against the odds; they face an impossible dilemma. His daughter Cara is praying for a miracle: she will fight everything and everyone to save her father's life. His son Edward can't imagine that a man who once ran with wolves could ever be happy with a different life. But he hasn't spoken to Luke for six years. How can he dare to speak on his father's behalf? Somehow, they must choose: Do they keep Luke alive? Or do they let him go?

As with all Picoult stories, this is a great moral dilemma and the reader can identify with all characters and finds it hard to take sides. In between the stories of Edward and Cara, we can see Luke's own version of the truth - the behaviour of a pack of wolves and how human life is or should be reflected.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Michael Köhlmeier: Geschichten aus der Bibel

Die Bibel ist Gottes Wort – aber das Alte Testament ist zugleich die grandioseste Geschichtensammlung der Weltliteratur. Michael Köhlmeier, der begnadete Erzähler, führt uns von der Erschaffung der Welt, dem Brudermord von Kain und Abel über die Sintflut und den Turmbau zu Babel bis zu Moses' Einzug in das Gelobte Land.

Eine interessante Geschichte nach der anderen erzählt in einem Stil, der die Bibel für alle zugänglich macht. Ein Buch zum immer wieder lesen...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Stephen Knight: Mr Schnitzel

Stefan retells his childhood bedtime stories of the Austrian Navy, featuring Count Otto von Otto, Elfrieda the pirate, and the remarkable Herman the Birdman. As he retells them, another story unfolds, that of Stefan's parents.

I was incredibly interested in this story, as it is the family story of an Austrian/English marriage told from the perspective of the bicultural child. I expected the book to be funny and interesting, but was rather disappointed to find out that the Austrian mother suffered severe depressions and alcoholism and so the family life was one on edge all the time. This was not about the culture and the cultural differences, it was about coming to terms with one's parents depressions and alcoholism.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

William P Young: The Shack

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

A fantastic read. I wasn't too sure as it was advertised as a "Christian" book, but in a way it reminded me of "Sophie's world", where difficult concepts were also simplified to be more accessible to the public. I fully identified with Mack and found the ending particularly emotional and tearful. This is a book to keep and re-read.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Suzanne Bugler: This Perfect World

Laura Hamley is the woman who has everything: a loving and successful husband, two beautiful children, an expensive home and a set of equally fortunate friends. But Laura’s perfect world is suddenly threatened when she receives an unwelcome phone call from Mrs Partridge, mother of Heddy – the girl Laura and her friends bullied mercilessly at school.

The storyline was interesting, but somehow the book is unsettling, depressing and not as gripping as I would have expected from the blurb.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Cecelia Ahern: If you could see me now

Elizabeth Egan is too busy for friends. As a reluctant mother to her sister Saoirse's young son Luke and with her own business to run, every precious moment is made to count. But with Saoirse crashing in and out of their lives, leaving both her sister and her son reeling, Luke and Elizabeth are desperately in need of some magic. Enter Ivan. Wild, spontaneous and always looking for adventure, in no time at all Ivan has changed Elizabeth in ways she could never have imagined.

An easy and magical read. A great story about friendship and happiness and how belief and personal thoughts are important to achieve both.