psychology

‘Fire Damage’ by Kate Medina #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

fire damage

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To find a killer, she must unlock a child’s terror…

The first in an exciting new crime series featuring psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn – a brilliantly complex character who struggles with a dark past of her own. Perfect for fans of Nicci French and Val McDermid.

A traumatized little boy

Four years old, terrified, disturbed – Sami is a child in need of help. Now it’s up to psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn to find the cause of his suffering and unlock his darkest memories, before it’s too late.

A psychologist with a secret

Meanwhile Jessie is haunted by an awful truth of her own. She works alongside former patient, Captain Ben Callan, to investigate a violent death – but the ghosts of her past refuse to leave her.

A body washed up on the beach

When a burnt corpse is found on the Sussex coast, Jessie begins to uncover a link between her two cases – and a desperate killer will do anything to keep it buried…

Army psychologist Jessie Flynn is asked to treat the traumatised four-year-old son of an army major. His father has been badly burned in a petrol bomb attack in Afghanistan and it seems that he is the terrifying ‘shadowman’ at the heart of Sami’s terror. But the situation is far more complex than that, and Jessie’s investigations lead her to make some intriguing discoveries about Nooria, the boy’s mother.

Jessie is also asked to help a former patient, Captain Ben Callan, with his investigation into the apparent murder of a soldier in Afghanistan. And does a body washed up on a Chichester beach have links with either case?

There were some parts of this book that I found really gripping and thoroughly enjoyed. Jessie is an interesting main character and is certainly three-dimensional. Her history has a huge effect on her everyday life and this adds an extra depth to her character, and her relationship with Callan is also well-written. I didn’t guess the twist at the end either. And Sami is a hugely effective character, and very sensitively written

However, the story took a while to get going and I did find myself skipping through some of it. And there were aspects of the writer’s style that I didn’t like. There were quite a few incomplete sentences. Sometimes these worked, adding drama and tension, but quite often they just seemed awkward and unfinished.

And the ending felt very rushed. Everything was tied up very quickly in almost one scene, which was a little disappointing, particularly as things took a while to get going in the beginning.

3-stars-out-of-5

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.

‘The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters’ by Emily Esfahani Smith #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview

cover

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There is a myth in our culture that to find meaning you have to travel to a distant monastery or wade through dusty volumes to figure out life’s great secret. The truth is, there are untapped sources of meaning all around us: right here, right now. Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology; on insights from George Eliot, Viktor Frankl, Aristotle, the Buddha and other great minds, Emily Esfahani Smith identifies four pillars upon which meaning rests: Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling and Transcendence. 

She also explores how we can begin to build a culture of meaning into our families, our workplaces and our communities.

Inspiring and full of contemporary examples, The Power of Meaning will strike a profound chord in anyone seeking a richer, more satisfying life.

I have to admit that I’m not really a great fan of the whole idea of ‘self-help’, mainly because I feel it over-simplifies complex mental health issues and trivialises them. However, I was intrigued by the premise of this book.

It is very well-written and there is a great deal of very interesting stuff here. The idea of a life that means something being far more important that a fruitless search for happiness did strike a chord with me. I found the opening chapters, with the inclusion of ideas from many psychologists, philosophers, and thinkers the most interesting and though-provoking part of the book.

The idea here is that it is important to find meaning in whatever you do, and that connections to others are vital to living a life that means something. The author backs up this theory with lots of research and references and also with anecdotal evidence.

The book lost it for me though when it went on to discuss the four pillars central to a life of meaning, and to look at real-life examples. For me, the references to religion, while not the central theme here, left me cold, and I did feel some of the accounts were rather biased and one-sided. It was a little simplistic.

This book was very well researched and referenced, and the premise is a strong one – being part of a community and feeling that you matter, and connections with others certainly are good for mental health and well-being and these ideas will help people. However, living with mental health issues is much more complex than this.

So this didn’t work for me. I found some of it very interesting, and the idea of a meaningful life is one that does resonate, but, on the whole, this wasn’t for me.

three stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy for review.