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in this section:
The Wilderness Within
Hidden In Christ
A Silent Action
Jesus
Journalling The Bible
Forgetful Heart
The Canterbury Companion To The Book Of Common Prayer Gospels
One In The Lord
One Hundred More Wisdom Stories
An Anglican Companion
Hidden in Christ
Moreish
Hungry for more of Jesus
The Scarlet Cord
Sunday Soundings
Letters To Marc About Jesus
Early Letters
Moments of Grace
Running Over Rocks
Travellers of the Heart
Jesus Calling
Sounding the Seasons
For Everything A Season
The Healing Word
Words of Spirituality
Heart to Heart
Neighbors
The Recovery of Love
Seasons of the Soul
Mary Mother of God
Less is More
Making All Things Well
Two Paths To God
To Be a Pilgrim
365 Days Of Yes
Trusting God Day By Day
Christ in the Wilderness
A Way Of Knowing
Pure Joy
Landscapes of Prayer
Places of Enchantment
His Mass Our Mass
40/40
Touched By God
Day by Day with St Francis
The Collage of God
On Holiday With God
Pathways to Peace: Facing the Future with Faith
Living the Gospel Stories Today
A Place at the Table
A Faith That Endures
Calling on The Spirit in Unsettling Times
A Quiet Mind
The Pilgrim’s Progress in Colour
Whispers of Wisdom for Women
The A.W. Tozer Bible
As a Child


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Devotional

Christian classics, meditations, reflections and other spiritual writings.

The Wilderness Within

- Meditation on Modern Life

by Nicholas Buxton


People in the west crave rewarding spiritual experiences and the plethora of courses and methodologies on offer from across the faith and secular spectrum is quite extraordinary. Yet often a Christian contribution to this marketplace is missing; as Christians we often appear to shy away from engaging alongside the populist spiritual world as if by doing so we might be tainted or somehow undermine our ‘offering’.

In this succinct volume, Nicholas Buxton seeks to introduce the beginner to the ancient tradition of Christian meditation.  Written in an easy to digest style, Buxton combines pithy reflections on contemporary issues with imaginative biblical reflection whilst drawing on the experience of the ancient mystics. Buxton’s conclusion is that meditation offers us a means by which to more fully engage with the world, rather than a route out of it towards some imaginary spiritual nirvana. Meditation does not place being above doing, but helps us make sense of doing whilst being and being whilst doing. It is a spiritual journey that he declares “is the only journey ever worth making”.

The strength of ‘The Wilderness Within’ lies in its grounding in the author’s own spiritual journey much of which has taken place to a degree in the public eye. Now a parish priest, Buxton first entered the public arena as a participant in the BBCTV series The Monastery that was aired in 2005. Readers will appreciate that this volume arises out of experience, not academic reflection alone, and is all the more valuable for that.

Review by David Ford  (28/03/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25657-6
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Hidden In Christ

- Living As God's Beloved

by James Bryan Smith


Thirty short, but considered, contemplations of no more than two or three pages each that are all based around Colossians 3:1-17.

The chapters are based around the individual verses and follow in scriptural order—sometimes one verse gets more than one contemplation. This makes it a book that would be very good for a month long study during a quiet time, especially as each chapter has very good end sections entitled living into the truth, affirmation, prayer, and reflection.

It could also be used by a group, as there is at the end of the book a group discussion guide.

One of the things I particularly liked about the book—and it's only a small thing but just framed the work for me—is that each chapter has a one word title. Raised; With; All; You; Forgive; Name; etc. And just as this book came about because of focusing on one small passage of scripture, so there is a revelation in thinking on just one word too I found.

Sadly , this is another oversized book, but at least with this one comes a very nice larger print that does make it easy on the eyes whilst reading—even if it is unweildly for the hands for those with smaller hands like myself. However, size of book aside, the writing in the book is very good and makes it a good book to use to journey through a 30 day period.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (25/02/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: March 2015
ISBN: 978-0-340-99608-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

A Silent Action

- Engagements with Thomas Merton

by Rowan Williams


Thomas Merton was an American Trappist monk, a prolific writer and a profoundly deep thinker. He was also a poet, a social activist and a student of comparative religion. Most of his writings were on issues of spirituality. Rowan Williams says that he has been engaging with Merton since he first discovered him as a teenager, and clearly Merton's thought has been influential in Williams's life and ministry. In this little volume Williams explores some of the key intellectual and spiritual issues that emerge in Merton's writings. Merton himself engaged in dialogue with a wide range of thinking by people who were distant to him both geographically, historically and from other faith traditions. Familiar names in this dialogue are those of Kark Barth, Deitrich Bonhoeffer and Gerard Manley Hopkins plus many others, some of whom were unfamiliar to the reviewer. I found the book hard going but rewarding. Rowan Williams is as much a deep thinker as Merton was and, as always, is worth wrestling with.



Review by Graham Wise  (05/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-07056-5
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Jesus

- A Pilgrimage

by James Martin


What a wonderfully written book, I'm not sure at the end of it how best to describe to it though—other than insightful and enjoyable.

It is part travelogue of a visit to the Holy Land, part autobiography of the life of a Jesuit priest, part commentary, and a lot spiritual contemplation upon the life of Jesus, the stories we encounter in the Bible, the places and situations he lived ... and their reflection upon our lives too.

All of these things are written in a seamless fashion and yet each one has it's own small section in the larger 25 chapters, and those chapters themselves also flow beautifully, one into the other, whilst remaining distinct and clear and separately intense.

 

This really is a beautiful book to spend time with. It is great to read about the places of the Holy land, to see Jesus through James Martin's eyes, coloured by sound biblical theology but also wonderfully imagined insights that add colour, flavour, nuance. This really is a wonderful pilgrimage guide, even or maybe especially for those who journey only from the armchair.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (31/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Harper One from Gardners Books
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-062-02423-7
Hardback
Price: £18.99

Journalling The Bible

- 40 Writing Exercises

by Corin Child


A thoroughly wonderful take, or so it seems to me, on Lectio Divina for the writing community and journallers.


This book has 40 really good 'writing exercises' that are both bible study, contemplation material and yet are also a brilliant study in the exercise of creative and Journal-istic writing.

Yes this book is designed to be used by an individual but it would make the most excellent basis for a spiritual writing group, indeed at the beginning of the book there is a short couple of pages given to this idea and suggestions on how to go about setting up such a writers/journalling group, something I think would be well worth doing for any church or perhaps for a small group to try as something a little different.


Also included in the opening section is a template for how a journal page could be set out, however it isn't overly prescriptive, merely a suggestion for those that may want the help of something a little more organised than free flowing words on a page.


Each of the 40 exercises follow the same format of Read, Consider, Write, Share, Go Further... with a few having an extra final section that is a note on the passage - normally where perhaps a little clarification is needed or where an alternative insight can be seen. The material is easy in style and there is nothing arduous at all about the book or sections, but there is nontheless real spiritual and creative meat on the bones as it were.


A really different and welcome book that is sure to appeal to many and is well worth considering for anyone looking for a fresh approach to bible study or wanting to do more writing and journalling.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (30/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-841-01736-5
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Forgetful Heart

- Remembering God In A Distracted World

by Lucy Mills


This is one of the most beautiful, lyrical and intense series of meditations or contemplations that I have read in a quite a while. A journey into memory, a picking apart and teasing out of meaning, thought, process and understanding - a collage of well chosen words that act as a foci on something we at once take for granted and yet forget all about in equal measure as Lucy so well demonstrates in this book and series of studies.


However this is not just a book about memory but it is about God too, it is about faith and doubt, prayer and intention and grace - and all the spaces in between that.


Mostly though it's about noise, the noise of modern life overwhelming the quiet at our heart -the time we would take to remember, to listen, to dwell ... and about how we can perhaps dial down this noise, work through our forgetfulness and find the time to remember.


This is a beautiful book, a strong book, a book that you need to make time to read and consider.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (30/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53071-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Canterbury Companion To The Book Of Common Prayer Gospels



by Raymond Chapman


For anyone that regularly uses the BCP services this is a lovely companion work that focuses on the Gospel readings in a private and contemplative way. Digging past the surface layer of the reading, past the mere surface of the Service liturgy and liturgic value, but that nevertheless also attempts to fuse the history and relevance of these two things into a devotional work that paints a new picture beyond the surface sermon details.
Here Raymond Chapman has used devotional works and prayers from a range of sermons, prayers and poems of other noteable people that probably would have well understood the BCP Gospel readings and context of service, even though many of them are not necesssarily of the anglican tradition.
In doing so he brings fresh insight and relevance to a service that many no longer see as being relevant and there is in that a rightness to this book.
You don't have to be a BCP adherent to obtain insight and relevance from this book because the devotions are of course based on Gospel readings and as such work well for anyone - however I do think if you are from the Anglican tradition then there is much here to be enjoyed ... regardless of which style of service you actually use.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 13 December 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25568-5
Paperback
Price: £16.99

One In The Lord

- Living Our Call To Christian Community

by Susan Muto


 

This is a lovely book with 32 short chapters that are each only a couple of pages long. Indeed I would even go so far as to call them contemplations, on being Christian and living that faith out, being part of the Christian Community as individuals, and facing ourselves in light of our faith an in reference to those around us.

These are not shallow reflections, and the language used is not simple but challenging and deeply penetrating and reflective at it's core. This is a book of real depth and enquiry and is beautiful for this.

At the end of every chapter are a few questions for reflection—however they could also be questions for discussions, and this whole book would make for a really deep group study too.

Personally I am going to re-use this book as a month long personal study because just reading it once straight through was not enough, and there is much here to take time over indeed.

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (26/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-565-48482-5
Paperback
Price: £8.95

One Hundred More Wisdom Stories



by Margaret Silf


Those who have read Margaret Silf's original collection of One Hundred Wisdom Stories from around the World will be delighted with this new selection of stories, some original, some 'retold' and some written by herself. They are mostly gathered when she was writer-in-residence at a Canadian Christian Life centre in 2013.

Jesus told stories to attract people's attention, to make them think, and to leave with characters like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan indelibly stored in their minds. His stories have been life-changing for many.

Every single story or fable in this book is so captivating that the temptation is to taste the joy of the next one, and then the next immediately. In fact there are so many truths to ponder in each, that this book could make an excellent addition to your daily prayer and meditation time—if only you can limit yourself to one a day! 

It would also make an excellent Confirmation gift for an older teenager or adult. 

Prepare to be enthralled, encouraged, and challenged by what you read in this wonderful anthology.



Review by Margaret Walker  (03/04/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-0-745-95606-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

An Anglican Companion

- Words From The Heart Of Faith

by compilers: Alan Wilkinson & Christopher Cocksworth


This is a book that would work brilliantly as a gift for someone entering ministry or an older person being confirmed into the Anglican church, due to the lovely bright cover with fold over flaps that adds a feeling of longevity to it.

Inside the book you find a wonderful collection of timeless prayers—or key texts, as they call them in the book—a basic, simple but well thought out twoweek daily prayer section—for which the fold over flaps really come into their own—and then a thematic section of collected prayers, quotes, sayings and thoughts from a whole range of people. These span the ages and tastes of the Anglican communion worked around key subjects such as bereavement, work, repentence, and healing amongst others, and then with a few added for the world in which we currently reside. These include, themes like sharing creation, and encountering other faiths.

The final section, called sharing the company is about the more corporate or shared aspects of being church, so eucharist, teaching, fellowship and prayer—this section is a very short synopsis and overview really of what these things are or may incorporate, hence making this a good tool for those new to the faith as well as those already living the faith.

I found this to be a lovely book, quite simple but profound in it's simplicity, and a wonderful Anglican companion indeed.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (19/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-07165-4
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Hidden in Christ

- Living as God's Beloved

by James Bryan Smith


Sadly , this is another oversized book, but at least with this one comes a very nice larger print that does make it easy on the eyes whilst reading—even if it is unweildly for the hands for those with smaller hands like myself. However, size of book aside, the writing in the book is very good.

Thirty short, but considered, contemplations of no more than two or tbree pages each that are all based around Colossians 3:1-17.

The chapters are based around the individual verses and follow in scriptural order—sometimes one verse gets more than one contemplation. This makes it a book that would be very good for a month long study during a quiet time, especially as each chapter has very good end sections entitled living into the truth, affirmation, prayer, and reflection.

It could also be used by a group, as there is at the end of the book a group discussion guide.

One of the things I particularly liked about the book—and it's only a small thing but just framed the work for me—is that each chapter has a one word title. Raised; With; All; You; Forgive; Name; etc. And just as this book came about because of focusing on one small passage of scripture, so there is a revelation in thinking on just one word too I found.

A very good book to use to journey through a 30 day period.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (18/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-0-340-99607-2
Large paperback
Price: £13.99

Moreish

- 52 Short Stories, Sermons And Studies Giving You Plenty OF Food For Thought

by Ishmeal


This is a series of 52 short stories, sermons and Bible studies on a wide range of topics. The author is Ian Smale, better known as Ishmael. He is currently a Deacon at Chichester Cathedral.

Ishmael has a varied Christian background and this shows in his writings. Essentially an evangelical Anglican, he does stray into Pentecostal and even Anglo-catholic views.

Ishmael can certainly tell a story. Quite often he writes in a jaunty style with many amusing comments. This was not to my taste—the message of God's word is too important to trivialise in this way. However, the best chapters (such as ‘Insured but not fully protected’) have a more serious tone and tackle head on important questions and subjects.

Overall this book is like the nibbles you might be offered at a cocktail party: Some are tasty leaving you wanting more, some are tasteless leaving you wanting less.



Review by Alan Hill  (17/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: CWR (Crusade for World Revival)
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1-782-59018-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Hungry for more of Jesus

- The way of intimacy with Christ

by David Wilkerson


"In recent years I have been preaching more and more about my blessed Saviour and praying much for a greater revelation of His grace and glory. Never in all my years of preaching have I been so hungry for more of Him. The Holy Spirit has not failed to satisfy that growing hunger, and now He has enabled me to share with the Body of Christ a single volume entirely about Jesus. "If you, too, hunger for more of Jesus, you will find some fragments here to feed your soul. I would expect that only those who have been recently awakened by the Holy Spirit to a new hunger and thirst for Christ and His holiness will take the time to read this book. You really have to be hungry for more of Jesus to come to the table and eat. This is not for 'fast food' Christians in a hurry, but for those who are learning to wait upon the Lord for manna from heaven."
David Wilkerson


Review by x  (31/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Rickfords Hill Publishing
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-905-04431-3
Paperback
Price: £1.00

The Scarlet Cord

- Conversations With God's Chosen Women

by Lindsay Hardin Freeman & Karen N. Canton


With beautiful full colour illustrations by Karen Canton of Eve, Rahab, Sarah, Deborah, Hannah, Ruth, The Shullamite, The Well Woman, Mary, Martha, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdelene for you to use as reflective aids, along with the wonderfully imagined or re-imagined stories of these women given voice and word and emotion by Lindsay Freeman, there is here in The Scarlet Cord a wonderful book to use for study or reflection for any woman or better yet for any small group regardless of gender.

At the end of each chapter there is a short consideration of why the character matters today, and then a series of questions on what learnings they could inspire in us. Again these questions are phrased in such a way that they could be used as contemplations and considerations at a deeper level or almost a further meditation as you use these questions whilst looking at the illustration and then focusing inwards.

At the end of the book there is a 'Learn more about section' that is almost like a short commentary, but again with questions raised and elucidated on.

This is both an intelligent and contemplative book that really helps lead one deeper into the Bible through these women called by God, a truly lovely book that, through words and images, calls us to come and consider these women, and in so doing to look deeper into ourselves and what we have in common or could have in common with these women chosen by God.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: O Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: December 2010
ISBN: 978-1-846-94375-1
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Sunday Soundings

- Sermons From A Jesuit's Ministry

by Adrian Lyons


Adrian Lyons is an Australian Jesuit priest with a wide experience of ministry in local parishes, as a university chaplain and as a writer with the Jesuit Refugee Service. His varied preaching ministry to educated urban congregations and country parishes has majored on the Lectionary readings in which he has sought to bring a fresh and imaginative approach to the Gospel. The book is divided three ways, drawing on his preaching in Lectionary years A, B and C and the selection of sermons and homilies ranges across most of the Bible. They are fairly brief, lively, arise from an active and creative mind, and come across as relevant to ordinary daily life. It's a book to dip into rather than read right through, particularly because it relates to the Lectionary year, and would make a good devotional gift for a friend, particularly for someone fairly new to the Christian faith.

Review by Graham Wise  (16/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Mosaic Resources distributed by Alban Books
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-1-743-24038-0
Paperback
Price: £18.99

Letters To Marc About Jesus



by Henri J. M. Nouwen


All of Nouwen's works are deeply personal and honest books; that is one of the things that makes his works so incredibly moving and pertinent for those who read them. But here in this short little book is perhaps something intensely intimate, because here are not just his own words and pondering and experiences shared with an audience but more they are his words shared with his own nephew—and there is in this something deeply profound indeed.

A series of seven letters written to his nephew, Marc. That deal with the reality of his faith, his questions, pains and joys shared in a way that really you probably only could with a family member, someone you felt a true bond with and wanted to share so deeply with so tht they may not only understand your thoughts, but may in some way understand you too and carry them on.

This book is one that any fan of Nouwen will love, if they do not already, but it's also one that could so readily be passed on to a young adult exploring their faith, because here Nouwen reaches out to a 19 year old boy with honesty, courage and conviction. A truly beautiful book.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (05/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-232-53024-7
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Early Letters

- At the Origins of a New Spirituality

by Chiara Lubich


What a lovely and fascinating collection of letters written by a young Chiara Lubich to the early followers of the Focolare Movement. In these we see glimpses of the mystic spirit and charism that so embued her devotion and work. Indeed we see more than glimpses of the mystic in these letters because the tone and words are filled with the devotion and passion of a mystic, the faith of the heart driven by the spirit to see potential and wonder. These are lovely letters that work as devotions or meditations as well as showing how Focolare grew and developed. Certainly this book is a must for anyone involved in Focolare or for those wanting to understand Chiara better.

Review by Martin Brasier  
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-565-48432-0
Paperback
Price: £10.95

Moments of Grace

- Reflections On Meeting With God

by Joy McCormick


Another lovely book of reflections, forty in all on a range of subjects spanning five arcs, so we have Exploration and Discovery, Struggle, Celebration, Gospel Moments, and finally Pondering. Each reflection starts with a poem, then a gentle contemplation follows, based both on the poem and on the issue being reflected upon. These are both short and insightful and questioning, and that's even before you get to the actual questions or activities for that reflection.

On the whole these are short but keen reflections and certainly would fit within anyone's prayer time activity. They would perhaps also form a good basis for a series of studies, or a one-off session for a reflective group.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-46224-4
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Running Over Rocks

- Spiritual Practices to Transform Tough Times

by Ian Adams


What a wonderful book from the author of the Cave Refectory Road - and although not a companion volume it almost feels as though it is. Contained in this book is the same spirituality but turned into a practical guide, a devotional, a weekly exercise and contemplation that builds on the same ancient ways and practices we discovered in Cave Refectory Road.

There are 52 studies in this book, each begins with a poem and then moves into a series of contemplations or studies that draw both from the very modern with a biblical reflection and older wisdom or insight too and rounded out with a varying Spiritual Practice at the end of each study. Some studies are practical and physical, some are mental and psychological, some are meditative and creative, all are deeply insightful and helpful.

This is a lovely book and would make a great one year devotional, but it also makes for a great "retreat" tool or resource.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25168-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Travellers of the Heart

- Exploring New Pathways On Our Spiritual Journey

by Michael Mitton


What a wonderful book in which Michael Mitton draws from, and speaks genuinely, of his own spiritual journey through differing Christian spiritualities - part autobiographical and part guide to understanding and contextualising different denominations spiritualities. It does this in such a way that we can experience, or come to understand, the other spiritual paths and also come closer to each other's paths, whilst journeying well on our own spiritual path.

This book is honest and helps us ask questions and question our own suppositions in a gentle and refreshing way, thus really helping to potentially broaden the community of faith and fellowship.

An excellent book to use as a personal guide, it would also make a great book to use at house group or church level, or even wider afield as part of a Churches Together initiative.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (02/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-46221-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Jesus Calling

- Enjoying Peace in His Presence

by Sarah Young


After many years of writing her own words in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to be more attentive to the Saviour's voice and begin listening for what He was saying. So with pen in hand, she embarked on a journey that forever changed her - and many others around the world.

In these powerful pages are the words and Scriptures Jesus lovingly laid on her heart. Words of reassurance, comfort, and hope. Words that have made her increasingly aware of His presence and allowed her to enjoy His peace.

Jesus is calling out to you in the same way. Maybe you share the author's need for a great sense of 'God with you'. Or perhaps Jesus seems distant without you knowing why. Or maybe you have wandered farther from Him that you ever imagined you would. Here is a year's worth of daily readings from Young's journals to bring you closer to Christ and move your time with Him from monologue to a dialogue.

Each day is written as if Jesus Himself were speaking to you. Because He is. Do you hear Him calling?



Review by Publisher's notes  (02/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Thomas Nelson From TMD or Joining the Dots
Published: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-591-45188-4
Hardback
Price: £9.99

Sounding the Seasons

- Poetry for the Christian Year

by Malcolm Guite


What a beautiful and moving collection of sonnets, holding a serene lyricism and at times a harsh modernism at their edge that bites deep and buries the words and images deep on the retina, in the brain and that pull the heart - and no that's not just fanciful words! These sonnets really do have an incredible relevance to them that speaks gently but clearly. They would make the most incredible lead in to a time of meditation or prayer, indeed they could even be used as prayer in some ways. 'O Radix' on page 9 is a wonderful poem that would be well suited to considering the modern move from faith to spirituality, from real to virtual… and on page 34, 'Cleansing the Temple' is one that I felt compelled to read again and use as a personal prayer because it so reflected to me the place where I was and more importantly wanted to be.

Not to be ignored either is the rather good introduction that sets out and explains the concept of the sonnet and gives brief insights into some of the most well known of sonnet writers.

Perfect for personal reading, for poetry recitals, group meetings and for liturgical use I would say.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (23/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25274-5
Paperback
Price: £9.99

For Everything A Season



by Joan Chittister


Short meditations and contemplations based around the well known and much overused but under considered words found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. For Everything A Season by Chittister is a welcome and well considered book that looks at each "Time" mentioned in the passage in a thoughtful and considered way, digging deep with a few considered words of prose on such intense subjects that dwell at the heart of being human. Each consideration is well written and opens up the verse and subject in a way that is neither everbearing or too simplistic, but in keeping with the tone of Ecclesiastes is honest and forthright. The subjects are considered in the light of human nature, and in a contemporary context, dealing with day to day issues. This is a beautiful stand alone book for quiet self contemplation but would also make the basis of a wonderful series of group studies (though no questions are provided) should people want to consider together how they encounter the various times of life.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (15/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-626-98019-8
Paperback
Price: £11.99

The Healing Word

- Gospel medicine for the soul

by Barbara Brown Taylor


Each chapter of Barbara Brown Taylor's excellent book is a meditation on a short passage of Scripture, taken from both the Old and New Testaments. Her writing is beautifully crafted and she manages to draw out thought-provoking ideas which challenge one's thinking as well as feeding the soul. She takes us right into the stories and her vivid portrayal of events sometimes had me laughing and sometimes crying. This book is an excellent aid to Bible meditation and a wake-up call to apply the Biblical stories to our everyday lives.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (07/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 01 January 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-07035-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Words of Spirituality

- Exploring the inner life

by Enzo Bianchi


In some ways I think this book is mistitled, as the author has much practical advice about living in the world, but perhaps the process of exploring the inner life fits one to make the correct judgments about life as it is lived in the world. Bianchi speaks profoundly of how to "be" in the world and how Christian identity is formed and grown in community with others, attentive to the word of God as expressed in the Scriptures and lived out in the world. There is honesty about the spiritual life right from page one: life with God is to be experienced and lived, not just thought about.

This is a book to be read from cover to cover – including the Series Forward by Rowan Williams and the Introduction – but not in one sitting, as the words deserve time and thought, as well as prayer, to make their way into the heart of each person who reads them, to emerge in a life more attuned to listening to God and lived out in being and action.

Review by Pam Sanders  (26/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06867-8
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Heart to Heart



by Ali Martin, Liza Hoeksma


It is the nature of the strong heart, that like the palm tree, it strives ever upwards when it is most burdened. This is a fresh spirit rummage on matters of the heart: a great exploration of the importance and impact of Proverbs 4: 23. This is a matter of primal importance.

Martin and Hoeksma offer us lots in this, in a well edited, streamed tone that reflects connected thought and a lasting offering for the good of many from Soul Survivors big-impact ministry. "Sometimes we need to show our trust by the steps we're prepared to take to follow God's command."

The chapters on the trusting and surrendered heart are particularly strong. It's a short, pacey read particularly effective for a female readership. This book asks big questions around the understanding of our heart: an attitude of honesty before God about the need for our hearts to be transformed and renewed. It's full of inspiring stories and wise words and packed full of Biblical truth.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (18/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-850-78995-6
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Neighbors

- Short Reflections on Loving the People Around Us

by Chiara Lubich


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 at times have an air of the mystic to them even though at the same time they are utterly down to earth, "Only God can form His image in someone. We can only ruin Him."

These reflections 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 indeed also make very good discussion starters for groups. A lovely little book for anyone looking to reflect on the issue of neighbours.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-565-48476-4
Paperback
Price: £5.95

The Recovery of Love

- Walking the way to wholeness

by Naomi Starkey


Naomi Starkey, commissioning editor for BRF and well known for her contribution to Bible reading notes, has, in this new book, pursued a daring journey. She invites the reader to travel with her in search of God and his embracing love.

If you are 'new' to the faith, or are the sort of person who wants to know the times and route of a journey before setting off – then maybe you should stick to Naomi's Bible notes.

However, if you are excited by the prospect of a Mystery Trip, then delve into this unusual book, It is not an 'easy read' and you may well find yourself having to re-read some chapters. You will certainly have to stretch both your mind and your imagination.

There are echoes of Pilgrim's Progress here with the use of storytelling, taking the reader into a mysterious house of many rooms, where questioning minds will be opened and you will be urged to be open to his presence in whatever unexpected time or place it is revealed.

The Recovery of Love is a highly original book to be recommended to those who are eager for a mental and spiritual workout, which hopefully will reap the benefits of a closer walk with God into the way of wholeness.

Review by Margaret Walker  (13/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-841-01892-8
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Seasons of the Soul

- An Intimate God in Liturgical Time

by Carla Mae Streeter


There is a beautifully lush lyricism to this series of short meditations on the liturgical seasons, probably because the author is also a poet and we get a sampling of her poetry interspersed between each meditation or contemplation. The word usage is vivid and evocative as she attempts to dig down into the significance of the seasons both as they stand in liturgical meaning but also as they are to us today, so colours, scents and secular involvement all meet together in her considerations of these holy times. There are seven contemplations in the book, each one tied to a season - so Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Post Paschal Feasts, and of course, Ordinary Time - however in reality there are nine contemplations because to overlook the introduction and conclusion as contemplations in their own right would be to do the book and its writings an injustice. This book is a wonderful devotional tool for anyone wanting to consider the movement of the church through the year.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (09/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-565-48451-1
Paperback
Price: £7.50

Mary Mother of God



by Chris O'Donnell


A short book of 40 contemplations on Mary each starting with a one line quote. The quotes are taken from a variety of Church sources and Vatican documents, and then looking at what these really mean and how they help embody Mary in and to the world.

Though this is not a Lent book in any way, with its structure of 40 mostly single page contemplations it almost certainly could be used as one for someone looking to step out a little from the usual studies and instead focus on the mother of Jesus, the woman who bore 'God' and ultimately watched him die as a sacrifice for the world, for us and for her. This could be heady stuff if used in such a way.

However, if that is a bit much for you then this is still a good book to look at. If Marian theology is not really your thing this might well be an easy way to gain an understanding of what it is and how it works, and if you already have a devotion to Mary then this book can be a wonderful contemplative aid to looking closer.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07797-2
Paperback
Price: £5.99

Less is More

- Spirituality for Busy Lives

by Brian Draper


In this book, Brian Draper offers us a blueprint for a better life, something that must be better than this! In today's world, dominated by political and social pressures, where the need to be on the Blackberry, or to read the latest tweet or email or simply to be rushing from one meeting to another determines our life, the author suggests that we stop and declutter.

Finding himself in this position Brian Draper, asked himself a number of questions, such as "How can we make space to live and breathe?"; "What do we really want to do with our life?";"How can we make the difference that we alone were put on the Earth to make?" and the book explores these questions, and many more which should help make a "life transformation".

He offers us a choice, carry on regardless or look for an awakening of the Soul and the guiding of the Spirit and where these two meet show us a new way forward.

A book whilst easy to read gives us all a challenge.

Review by George Taylor  (10/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
ISBN: 978-0-745-95551-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Making All Things Well

- Finding Spiritual Strength With Julian of Norwich

by Isobel de Gruchy


This is a wonderful book that takes the thoughts and writings of Julian of Norwich as the basis of a daily meditation and then builds on them with wonderful poetic insight and real consideration that helps to highlight how wonderfully relevant these writings of a mystic from the 14th Century can still be today. Indeed De Gruchy's work is vivid with human insight gained through hardship and loss, that so well reflects and interacts with Julian's work that sometimes it is almost a little hard to tell which is the original work of Julian as opposed to just a modern translation or reinterpretation. This is a wonderful book for daily quiet times regardless of whether you have ever encountered the work of Julian of Norwich or not, However if you have then you will find this work to be even more insightful and a wonderful addition to your library. If you already attend a Julian Group then this book is likely to be a positive must indeed.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (17/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 30 November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25240-0
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Two Paths To God



by Fintan Creavan SJ


Blending and exploring both Celtic spirituality and Ignatian spirituality this book is a wonderful journey into how at the heart of both is a journey into the creativity of the soul and a commitment and focus on faith before all. I found this a great book that demonstrates how even in different tradtions there are at root and heart deep similarities that can work together to highlight and illuminate each other, that allow you to go further through the acceptance of the other – this if nothing else is a wonderful lesson to learn. However that's not what this book is really all about, rather it's a journey into understanding of two traditions with good insights that reflect upon the other. If you are new to either of the traditions then this would be an interesting book to learn about them from because it's quite in-depth in its comparative assesments and yet also detailed about each in its seperateness. It's an intelligent book filled with a creative fusion that really works and is well worth reading whether you are already into Ignatian and / or Celtic spirituality.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (17/12/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07793-4
Paperback
Price: £6.99

To Be a Pilgrim

- Further Reflections on the Psalms of Ascents

by Rhett Dodson


This little book consists of eight sermons on seven of the psalms of ascents. These were the psalms that the Israelites sang as they journeyed to Jerusalem for the three annual feasts of unleavened bread, weeks and tabernacles.

The author shows that these psalms instruct and inspire all pilgrims as they journey to their heavenly Jerusalem. Pastor Dodson carefully explains the text and then draws out valuable lessons for us today. Every sermon has a clear structure with memorable illustrations and applications. In particular, I like the way he sees Christ and his work in these psalms.

All believers will find help and encouragement in this book. This is a companion volume to This brief Journey also published by Day One.

Review by Alan Hill  (27/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-25355-3
Paperback
Price: £6.00

365 Days Of Yes

- Daily Prayers And Readings For A Missional People

by Church Mission Society


What an incredibly different journey through the year, small glimpses and reflections from the letters of our friends serving in mission around the world with CMS (Church Mission Society). It's a way of helping those of us not away on mission to remember those on mission, but more than that it's a way for those of us at home to become as those on mission, it's a stretch out across boundaries and a reach into intentional mission communities. All of us can be active missioners no matter where we are or who we are if we actively try to reach out to those who don't yet know Christ, or who do but are on the margins of our society. What a witness this book can be daily to those looking to be more involved whether through thought and prayer or through action. I like the way the days are listed by their names in the Lectionary rather than the day/month or number of days in the year - this very much brings it into the liturgical model of the church and reflects the commitment of mission within the church, and in it's own way identifies the church being made manifest to those outside it too - it's a good bridging step in the way all good mission is.

As someone who feels called to intentional missional living through her daily job and life here in the UK, I felt very blessed by this book and will be using this alongside of my usual Common Prayer – a liturgy for ordinary radicals throughout 2013.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (12/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25060-4
Hardback
Price: £19.99

Trusting God Day By Day

- 365 Daily Devotions

by Joyce Meyer


This is probably a must have for anyone that likes Joyce Meyer's inimitable style of down to earth writing with a hint of humour and who has (or wants to start having!) a devotional time each day. Here we have 365 daily thoughts from Joyce on trusting God - each one done in such a way as to really help you focus on how we do, or don't, but can, trust God in all circumstances of our lives, yes even when we are getting fraught because we are stuck in a traffic jam with places to be! The book is done in a somewhat square block hardback style making it quite nice to hold, and with the rose motif from the front cover reflected on each page inside it makes for a really nice touch. If I had one disappointment with it though, it would be that it doesn't start each day on a new page, so quite a few times nothing more than the date and one line is on the bottom of the page and the rest of the reading overleaf, or there is a suddenly blank gap because the end paragraph has been popped over onthe next page – however that's pretty small beans considering the content inside.

A good book to treat yourself to or give as a present.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (12/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-444-74595-5
Hardback
Price: £12.99

Christ in the Wilderness

- Reflecting On The Paintings By Stanley Spencer

by Stephen Cottrell


Stephen Cottrell opens up fruitful avenues for Christian devotion in these thoughtful reflections on 5 paintings out of Stanley Spencer’s series, ‘Christ in the Wilderness’. The 5 are: ‘Rising from sleep in the morning’, ‘Consider the lilies’, the Scorpion’, ‘The Foxes have Holes’ and ‘The Hen’. The paintings portray ‘a profound meditation on the disciplines and delights of prayer’, and, in the case of The Scorpion, a darker meditation on ‘Christ’s acceptance of his vocation to be the one who dies, the one who shares in the sufferings of the world’. Cottrell’s own love for the great artist’s work is unmistakable. The light he sheds on many details of the paintings fuelled my own respect for them too. Among other helpful things, he identifies the biblical background of the paintings, commenting that the starting point for each picture was the Scripture, though it may not always be clear which scripture in particular.
How, then, does Stephen Cottrell want us to approach these paintings? As a ‘burning bush’, he says, ‘a place of vivid encounter with God’, leading us to ‘stillness’, to ‘contemplation’, to ‘a greater appreciation of God’s presence and an increased desire to know Christ and follow in his way.’
I’m sure that reading this little book slowly and prayerfully will achieve that result for you.

Related website:www.stanleyspencer.org.uk

Review by Barry Vendy  (07/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06208-9
Flexiback
Price: £9.99

A Way Of Knowing

- Poetry, Insight, Image, Trust

by Joy Mead


Joy Mead is a member of the Iona Community and is involved in creative writing groups. This, her new book, is in three sections - Looking, Seeing, Sharing - but with one theme, indigenous knowledge. That is knowledge that is not intellectual, but which comes through our relationship with others, through story and poetry and through our senses. The book consists of a collection of her own poems and prose pieces with the emphasis on looking, seeing, sharing. The prose pieces are often reflections on Bible stories and parables. She insists that everyone loves a story and it is through stories that we build up relationships with other people. For her, worship centres on poetry and stories and that is why the Bible is full of them. Her own poetry is easy to read but is full of meaning and inspires reflection. The whole book is a new slant on the way we worship and communicate.

Review by John Irvine  (27/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Wild Goose Publications
ISBN: 978-1-849-52223-6
Paperback
Price: £11.50

Pure Joy

- Rediscover Your Conscience

by Christopher Ash


As the sub-title implies, conscience is something that often gets waylaid, buried or even forgotten.
Self-examination, which used to be seen as a pre-requisite before receiving Holy Communion, is now often relegated to being a minority exercise, which we may think of doing, perhaps in Lent.
This well presented 200-page paperback, with good bibliography and scriptural notes, aims to encourage readers to let Christ’s light sine into their consciences, to clean and liberate them. The four parts of the books look at what conscience is, what it tells you about yourself, how you respond to a guilty conscience, and how conscience can guide you and give you the blessings of joy following full and free forgiveness.
Although delving deeply into the subject this book is given added readability by the many fictional, but none the less realistic scenarios of people and their consciences (or lack of!) At the end of each chapter there is a helpful list of questions for personal study or group discussion.
However I found this book to be a journey of rediscovery of a very personal nature, as conscience is a most personal thing, which only you can examine. If you are prepared to go on this journey I would hope that you would find the route enlightening and, as a result, be helped to recalibrate your conscience according to God’s word.

Review by Margaret Walker  (22/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74585-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Landscapes of Prayer

- Finding God in the World and Your Life

by Margaret Silf


I really liked this. It’s about nature and how we can use God to connect to nature. The author Margaret Silf is obviously a person who is truly in touch with nature, and uses it to get closer to God. It's packed with useful quotations and advice on how to live your life in harmony with nature. There's a quotation suggesting that nature makes it possible to ponder the mysteries of a person's existence. It's the sort of book to take to a nature retreat, or to the mountains, and there is also an implication that we need to use God's beautiful natural resources wisely. It's designed to not be the sort of book that you read from beginning to finish, but you can open a page - and whichever page you open, it will be good for the soul. This book can be taken extremely literally, or on a more allegorical note. For example, there is one page which dwells on time for grieving, and that's about your own personal inner cave as much as discovering the caves that Margaret Silf experienced in the Peak District and South Africa. The photography is beautiful and the book is a wonderful description of how to use God's treasure trove to get in touch with the soul.

Review by Alice Collins  (24/11/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-745-95528-5
Hardback
Price: £9.99

Places of Enchantment

- Meeting God in Landscapes

by Graham B Usher


This is a book packed full of images, Graham Usher’s Places of Enchantment, to which he brings his earlier experience as an ecologist to tease out the ecology of God from within the natural landscape. He reminds us that it was a landscape that was interrogated by the Palaeolithic mind, the Israelite wanderer, St Francis staring from his solitary cell, as much as by our own. And it has shaped our notions of God.
It is a dense fabric that Usher weaves, occasionally so dense it obscures the point, but that scarcely matters for it gives us a breath of fresh air in the company of sea and mountain, forest and desert, garden and sky, a breath of God’s air. So take a stroll through its pages; you will feel better for it, and not end up with muddy shoes.

Review by Paul Scott  (22/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06792-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

His Mass Our Mass

- Meditations on Living Eucharistically

by Brendan Leahy


The book is subtitled Meditations on Living Eucharistically. The emphasis is on the Mass and on the community of believers who attend that service. The Mass is primarily the perpetuation of the sacrifice Christ made on Calvary. It is therefore ‘His’, but it is also ‘Ours’ where with our fellow worshippers we enter into deep communion with Him. The dual dimension of the title is therefore Christ’s action and our cooperation. The book is divided into four parts according to the elements of the Mass and each part has seven reflections. These reflections are a meditation a day for four weeks. They cover the lives, both past and present, of those nourished by the Eucharist, the bread of life. We are all members of one body and in the Mass we celebrate Christ’s gift of His body and our reception of it. This is a small book, but it has a great deal to say that can be reflected upon indefinitely.

Review by John Irvine  (16/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-565-48448-1
Paperback
Price: £5.95

40/40

- 40 Days to renew Your Mind, Transform Your Life

by Phil Green


Each day starts with a short Bible reading, followed by a short explanation/thoughts on the reading, a prayer, something to ponder on, a chat (which encourages a conversation with a friend or stranger about part of your life). Then there is something to write or do, (I now have sticky notes in lots of strange places!) ending with an action, which even reading it gives something else to ponder on! Each evening there is another Bible reading followed by a prayer and something else to ponder on.
After each 5 days there is a further page of five short readings each with a more personal question. These pages could be used as a group session or individually.
The book can be used at any time of the year, as a group study, for a particular special session, for example Lent or Advent, or for individual use.
It is thought provoking, and when used with the ‘write’ and ‘action’ items it aims to assist in improving the way we live our Christian lives. I found the book to be inspiring and encouraging. Some of the daily challenges seemed a little daunting in the morning, however by evening I normally found I had completed them!

Review by Sue Jones  (02/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Scripture Union (SU)
Published: Spring 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-27727-8
Paperback
Price: £5.99

Touched By God



by Anthea Dove


Touched by God is a very simple book, just random reflections by someone who is close to God and sees Him in all kinds of unlikely people and places. Most of the pieces - more than a hundred in all - are short; most tell a story of how God reveals Himself in, for instance, a crying child, two adopted sons with terrible stories of deprivation and fear, a conversation with a hive of bees, the view from Hadrian's wall, a sudden awareness on midsummer eve of the beauty of creation, and a rose at Christmas.
Many of the reflections are about the human spirit touched by God and surviving in spite of terrible suffering. The writer is particularly concerned about the plight of refugees having to make painful adjustments to a new life or facing deportation and possible torture and death. She has a great ability to empathise with people very different from herself but to whom she is connected by their common heavenly Father.
As we read this little book, we begin to know Anthea Dove herself; she has a great capacity for friendship which includes those of us who read her words. We feel that in coming to know her a little, we too are touched by God.
There is no 'right way' to read this book, but I suspect that just picking a piece at random and spending a moment or two sharing the writer's experiences will widen and deepen our awareness that all life is a gift for which we must be endlessly grateful.

Review by Joan van Emden  (26/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07796-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Day by Day with St Francis

- A Franciscan Breviary

Edited by Gianluigi Pasquale OFM CAP


This book is a must for members of any order of Franciscan, or indeed for anyone with a heart and interest in St Francis and the Franciscan way. With a quite long reading each day this book makes an incredible tool for those in formation and can be used in the contexts of daily prayer, contemplation or indeed in study.
The interior of this book is lovely, with it's excellent collection of daily readings taken from the early works of St. Francis and the Franciscan orders, and with the wonderful Foreword which acts as a précis of Francis and the Orders through to today. The actual book itself under the dust jacket is quite beautiful too being a lovely red cloth bound hardback with ribbon marker, and also a gold blocked image of Francis himself in the style of an illuminated breviary.
This really would make the most perfect gift to give to someone starting their formation or upon their profession, and at only £14.95 it also makes it affordable to buy and to use oneself. This book now has a place on my prayer table and in my daily schedule too and I heartily recommend it to others with an interest in following the precepts of St Francis.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (26/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-905-03916-6
Hardback
Price: £14.95

The Collage of God



by Mark Oakley


Originally published by DLT in 2001
Mark Oakley has written a new introduction where he considers how in the intervening eleven years some things have changed. He also reflects on what he wrote the first time and how he might now write something different, but yet how strongly the intent and central premise of the work still holds true. Melanie Carroll , July 2012
This book has been written by a priest, who very honestly says that he has 'often felt guilty during the last few years about admitting that I cannot find God where others tell me he is…' At these times he turns to friends who he knows personally, or has befriended through their writing. This has enabled him to piece together all sorts of thoughts and writings from many and varied backgrounds all making a collage of God to which he can turn in times of need. One of the things he has learnt is that God is to be shared before he is ever understood. Here he shares with all of us who have ever doubted, what he has uncovered of God’s hidden presence.
Mary Bartholomew, 2001

Review by Melanie Carroll  (19/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25238-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

On Holiday With God

- Making Your Own Retreat - A Companion and Guide

by Sue Pickering


A useful resource and tool that is neither too deep nor too shallow but provides just the right amount of buoyancy and support for anyone looking to take time out with God and make their own personal retreat.
It starts with a good solid contemplation on why and how you may want to take time out with God. It then moves on to address the detail of that ‘holiday’, what to take, what to do, where to go and how to find inspiration; thus we are provided with themed suggestions covering ideas such as visiting a gallery, being beside water or a lake, 'waiting' and contemplating what waiting is, visiting a market and even just walking, amongst others. Each one of these ‘inspirations’ includes prayers, reflections, thoughts, contemplations and more, that you could use just as they are or as part of your day and your experience. It really is an incredibly helpful resource, especially for those who maybe cannot afford a guided personal retreat but feel the need to take time out and away with God. I know I shall be using this book on my next camping trip to transform it from being merely refreshing to a retreat and time spent with God – real refreshment.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (07/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25213-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Pathways to Peace: Facing the Future with Faith

- Meditations from Isaiah 40: Reflections

by John Kitchen


This is a series of brief meditations on Isaiah chapter 40 verses 9 to 31. Pastor Kitchen’s aim is to give the Christian hope for tomorrow, whatever happens today. He does this by focusing again and again on how great God is. All bar one of the 13 chapters emphasise either the pre-eminence of God or the presence of God.
Pastor Kitchen writes in a direct at times almost abrupt style, with short sentences, pithy sayings and lively illustrations. His exposition and application of the chapter is clear although sometimes it seems that he tries too hard to say something in a clever way. Each chapter ends with several points to ponder.
Overall the book gives us a glimpse into the greatness of God that Isaiah describes in chapter 40. To the thoughtful reader this will give comfort. As the chapters are short and the subject matter similar, this book would be best read a chapter a day, rather than in one sitting.

Review by Alan Hill  (28/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-846-25212-9
Paperback
Price: £5.00

Living the Gospel Stories Today



by John Pritchard


Jesus ‘wasn’t so much a theologian as God telling stories’. John Pritchard’s simple but deeply revealing observation about Jesus takes us to the heart of the objective of this short book. Living the Gospel Stories Today is a superb encouragement to pastors not so much to ditch theology for anecdote, but to allow the truth of God’s desire to forge a relationship with us (which is what theology is) to be revealed through the ordinary narratives of life. And in the Bible we have countless excellent examples of precisely this.
The core of the book comprises 18 short reflections on different gospel stories. With each John Pritchard has given the story a new dynamic by placing the biblical story alongside experiences that will be familiar to many of us. This not only enables us to enter the gospel story with fresh vision and enthusiasm, it also transforms the story from being a dry passage of scripture into a living vehicle for God’s grace: there is something deeply missional, even sacramental about John Pritchard’s approach.
Each reflection concludes with suggestions for further individual or group reflection and prayer. And this book would certainly make an ideal tool for Advent or Lent study. Yet I suspect many pastors will turn to it for fresh sermon ideas and for that it would have been helpful to have the bible passages listed as part of the contents.
First issued in 2001, this re-print will be much valued. Let us hope that John Pritchard will in time turn to some Old Testament stories too.

Review by David Ford  (25/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 07 July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06852-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

A Place at the Table

- 40 Days of Solidarity With the Poor

by Chris Seay


Many books interest, entertain or inform me but few connect with my heart within the first few pages. A Place at the Table did precisely that by reminding me, graciously yet powerfully, that our Western industrialised lifestyle of rampant consumerism is completely out of step with biblical values. Most of us need to re-examine with urgency our relationship with the rest of creation.
Chris Seay provides the framework for us to do that with 40 days of reflections, grounded in the experience of the Exodus. Recognising that everyone in the West is addicted to something, Seay suggests that our study and prayer should be accompanied by fasting. The content of that he leaves to us, for only we know what it is that consumes us, negating our humanity and driving us far from God.
Many others have explored the relationship between faith and lifestyle but Seay’s approach is highly accessible. Much of this reflects his use of The Voice, a paraphrased version of the Bible that has much to commend it. The structure of the book helps too with each day’s reading accompanied by a prayer and information from one of the poorer countries on earth. A DVD is also available to facilitate group study and there is more information on the author’s own web site An ideal book for Lent, but can you afford to wait that long?
A Place at the Table has shot to the top 20 books on my shelves. I urge you to engage with it.

Visit the author's website:www.chrisseay.net/

Review by David Ford  (13/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01451-2
Paperback

A Faith That Endures

- Meditations on Hebrews 11

by Brian Croft


This is another in the helpful Reflectionsseries produced by Day One that provides short meditations on a famous chapter from the Bible.
Brian Croft takes as his theme the need to endure as believers in Christ. He brings us important lessons from Hebrews chapter 11 – the hall of fame of faith. Most chapters begin with a helpful illustration to introduce the subject and ends with points to reflect on. In between there are clear explanation followed by straightforward application. We see Abel, Abraham, Moses and all those covered as real people who faithfully endured to the end.
The chapters are short enough so that this could be used as part of daily devotions. All believers, but especially those who are struggling, will find food for thought and encouragement to persevere to the end.

Review by Alan Hill  (13/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-846-25292-1
Paperback
Price: £5.00

Calling on The Spirit in Unsettling Times

- Discerning God's Future for the Church

by L. William Countryman


A beautiful study and consideration of the place of the Holy Spirit in today’s world and church. Addressing the issue of focusing on the action and place of The Holy Spirit, something perhaps we think we do but might not actually be doing in any real depth, it then moves on to look at how in the light of this reality of The Spirit we re-focus on Jesus, celebrate the gifts received, be the communion of saints, rediscover humility and finally join in The Spirit’s building project.
These are incredible chapters of insight that really open up the church in all its possible glory and action and invite those of us, in communion with the church, to really look at how we can be more in tune with The Spirit in our daily lives and in our communities. Offering insights on the gentle action of the Holy Spirit in us, of how we can rework our thinking; offering up the Benedicite from Morning and Evening prayer as a way of understanding ecological and green issues, looking at how re-understanding the portraits of Jesus we find in the New Testament can open ourselves to being more receptive and welcoming, grasping humility to lead us to an acceptance of community and how The Spirit works through us all - and indeed gently speaks within this book.
There is a wonderfully poetic turn to the book, a gentle lyricism throughout it, with many traditional and non-traditional poems used to highlight the content of the prose of the book, and it works so well, making it an engaging and illuminating read.
Though aimed at Anglicans and with much talk specifically about the Anglican church and tradition it is nonetheless something that anyone, wanting to look deeper into and to consider the active principle of The Holy Spirit manifest in today’s world, would do well to read.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (09/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25169-4
Paperback
Price: £12.99

A Quiet Mind

- Uniting Body, Mind and Emotions in Christian Spirituality

by Eva McIntyre


There are only seventy one pages in this short work, but those seventy one pages nonetheless convey within them a deep understanding of the practice of meditation and contemplation; there is an interesting short section dealing with the monkey mind, i.e. thoughts that won't turn off when trying to meditate, explaining the difference between these two sorts of action within the Christian tradition. A Quiet Mind in so few words moves us into the practice and understanding of acceptance, of journeying into our thoughts and fears and emotions, into our bodies and movements and actions so as to move beyond these things and into the realisation that we are accepted and loved by God. This is the art of meditation and contemplation and this work truly encapsulates and embodies that. Wonderful, refreshing and utterly Christian even as it seems to spill over with its 'Zen' simplicity. It brings in the wonder that is to be found in biblically rooted spirituality and in Celtic spirituality too.
A good book for anyone looking to deepen their practice of meditation and contemplation.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: O Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-94507-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Pilgrim’s Progress in Colour



by John Bunyan with colouring by Jim Thornton


The Pilgrim’s Progress in Colour...only it isn’t – in colour that is, or not in the usual sense!
The Pilgrim’s Progress in Colour is a glorious re-telling of the original story introducing modern terms and expressions yet retaining the feel of the original. Yes, colourful!
Most ‘everyone’ has heard of John Bunyan’s classic but a surprising number of people have not read it for themselves, let alone the sequel and John Bunyan’s many other works. The title The Pilgrims Progress from This World to That Which Is To Come Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream Wherein is Discovered The Manner of His Setting Out, His Dangerous Journey, And Safe Arrival At the Desired Country is enough to put anybody off these days. Bunyan was not well educated and the original was full of mistakes and inconsistencies though more recent editions have been made considerably more readable.
Nevertheless The Pilgrim’s Progress in Colour is a very welcome addition to these editions. It reads with the same ‘feel’ as the original, indeed it includes direct quotes in italics and Bible quotations in bold type both in their original context. I read through from beginning to end, and was able to profit from Bunyan’s teaching in a way that I would have missed if I had laboured through the original.
Excellent. I cannot praise it too highly. Recommended as suitable for group use too.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (03/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Church Home Group Resources Ltd
Published: Spring 2012
ISBN: 978-0-953-23986-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Whispers of Wisdom for Women

- More than 100 Gentle, Encouraging Meditations

By various authors


The meditations in the book are excellent, a one line scripture verse followed by modern considerations of a number of topics - I was particularly taken by one on waking up grumpy and another on GPS systems! These are offered by a variety of authors thus making the readings different enough to suit a variety of tastes and styles. On the opposite page to each meditation there is a one line prayer and then a quote taken from a variety of religious writers which could be used as a thought for your day.
A wonderfully produced little book with really high design values all the way through, a beautiful sepia cover with a lovely faded fabric print of flowers and embossed title, add in the green ribbon marker and the fact that each page is also attractively done in a tea-stained effect with flower images from the front carried throughout and creating a lovely gift book to give to any woman, be they mother or friend.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (26/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Barbour from David C Cook/Kingsway
Published: 04 April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-616-26668-4
Flexiback
Price: £6.99

The A.W. Tozer Bible

- King James Version

by A.W.Tozer


The A.W. Tozer Bible – King James Version from Hendrickson is beautifully produced, from the lovely granite mountain cover design through to the sepia toned selections from Tozer’s own works that offer short thoughtful reflections, consideration of the scriptures and insights into challenges faced.
The Bible also includes the words of Christ in red, outside column references (instead of being in the centre- which does actually help to give the bible an uncluttered look), beautiful full colour maps and an adequate concordance for the back of a bible. Together these features make this a lovely devotional tool and would make a fantastic gift for anyone who appreciates A.W.Tozer’s works.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (26/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-598-56722-9
Hardback
Price: £25.99

As a Child

- God’s Call to Littleness

by Phil Steer


A word at a time, picked out in bold type from a relevant sentence from the Gospels at the start of each chapter , Phil Steer has brought out the true meaning of Christ’s call for us to be like little children. To be child-like.
So often we do not pause to think about this particular aspect of the Gospel story: the times when Jesus interacts with children, when he calls a child to him, when he speaks about being like a child, or says we must be born again.
The author has obviously dwelt seriously on this one theme and produced a book of teaching that clearly sets out in very readable prose, the aspects of childlike behaviour that would enhance our own faith.
A book to read and re-read, and hopefully be changed by.
Excellent – and I loved the cover, I smiled each time I looked at it.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (24/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Lulu UK
Published: 22 April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-447-67531-0
Paperback
Price: £6.99