Saturday, January 16, 2021

Restoring Fairhaven by Carolyn Miller Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Restoring Fairhaven

Author: Carolyn Miller

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Love hurts, or so the songs say, so who wants it?

Taking on her ailing father’s gardening business on Merriweather Island, Samantha Green only wants to escape her ex and to make her father proud.

But Sam gets more than she bargained for when Greener Gardens accepts the job of restoring the gardens of a reclusive writer, Max Fairhaven, whose historical novels about romance and unrequited love litter bookstore shelves and movie marquees all over the world.

Max much prefers the fictional world to the real, and the gardening girl’s interruptions means he’s driven from his writing cave far too often for his liking.

How’s he supposed to craft stories with her distracting him all the time?

Things change when he learns something of Sam’s family challenges, and his admiration slowly kindles. With his secretary’s goading, he’s forced to confront the past, while facing the fact that he needs to change in order to avoid a lonely future.

Gentle pruning and a whole lot of banter forges a friendship between this not-so-Southern belle landscaper and the half-British author. But is their budding attraction enough to grow into a flourishing happily-ever-after?

Restoring Fairhaven is the final “Merriweather book,” but don’t forget to embark on a tour of the next island in this series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review 

Miller has given readers a fun Christian romance. The plot revolves around restoration. One aspect is the restoration of landscape a wealthy author has ignored for years. The other restoration is of the broken hearts of two people.

I really liked the witty dialogue. That helped reveal more about Sam and Max. It was interesting to see how their personalities quickly changed once they reluctantly came to see potential romance. Overcoming obstacles to romance is an important aspect of a romance plot and I felt things went a little too smoothly for this romance. A huge misunderstanding or other obstacle would have provided material for more character transformation.

There is a bit of mystery involved as Sam received threatening phone calls. The calls were quite disturbing and I felt the resolution to them was easy and quick, not fitting the previous gravity given them. I always like it when I learn something when reading fiction and I had hoped to learn a bit about gardening or landscaping. No such information was included.

Nonetheless, this is a fun and enjoyable book, pure romance.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher.
 
A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop, Miss Serena’s Secret, The Making of Mrs. Hale, A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh, Underestimating Miss Cecilia, and Misleading Miss Verity, all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Koorong, etc Her contemporary novels include Restoring Fairhaven and Regaining Mercy, as part of the Independence Islands series.
 

More from Carolyn

I’m a long time lover of gardens, plants, flowers and trees! I’m married to a horticulturalist, who once upon a time worked at Lyme Park, the site of Mr. Darcy’s magnificent Pemberley from the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, and who has also worked at Kew Gardens in England.

Some of my garden and plant highlights include visiting Blarney Castle’s Poison Garden in Ireland, New Zealand’s Hamilton Gardens, Dunrobin Castle in Scotland, Frederik Meijer Gardens in Michigan, the redwoods of Yosemite, California, Butchart Gardens in Victoria Island, Canada, and Jardin Botanique in Montreal, Canada.

I love to post pictures of flowers and trees on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/carolynmillerauthor/)  and have included pictures of some of these places at my website (www.carolynmillerauthor.com) I have incorporated some of the gardens and plants in a number of my historical novels, including the gorgeous gardens at a castle in Scotland where I set Misleading Miss Verity.

I’m so excited to be introducing readers to my new contemporary books, where I can bring some of my love of gardens (& my hubby’s expertise!) to a new audience. Restoring Fairhaven sees readers introduced to a range of gardening experts who together will bring the gardens of the Independence Islands back to life.

If you’re someone who has enjoyed The Secret Garden, or Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart, you’ll be sure to enjoy this story of a reclusive writer and the gardening guru sent to restore his gardens – and his heart.

Happy reading!

Carolyn

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 16

lakesidelivingsite, January 16

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, January 17

April Hayman, Author, January 17

A Novel Pursuit, January 17

Texas Book-aholic, January 18

Rebekah Reads, January 18

Blogging With Carol, January 18

Inklings and notions, January 19

Library Lady's Kid Lit, January 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 20

Mary Hake, January 20

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 21

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 21

CarpeDiem, January 21

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, January 22

Cultivating Us, January 22

Kathleen Neely, January 22

Livin’ Lit, January 23

Ashley’s Bookshelf, January 23

Simple Harvest Reads, January 23 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Older & Smarter?, January 24

Artistic Nobody, January 24 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For Him and My Family, January 25

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, January 25

Inkwell Inspirations, January 25

deb's Book Review, January 26

Blossoms and Blessings, January 26

Joanne Markey, January 26

She Lives To Read, January 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 27

Christian Chick's Thoughts, January 28

Splashes of Joy, January 28

Godly Book Reviews, January 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 29

Daysong Reflections, January 29


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carolyn is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon prize and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/105a8/restoring-fairhaven-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book throufh Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Faith, Farming and Family by Caitlin Henderson

Henderson's book is a refreshing collection of honest essays on lessons she has learned. She writes about feeling insecure, feeling broken, being authentic, being vulnerable, being a perfectionist, reactions to suffering, fear, and many more. She shares the lessons in the context of her life experiences, telling stories about farm and family life.

Her writing style is engaging and she shares her insights in a very readable way. My favorite essay is the one on control. She is quick to point out we cannot control the actions of others. What we can control is our reactions to them. This lesson and the others encourage readers to focus on God rather than self.

Her book is also an interesting commentary on social media. We are told several times about how some of her social media posts were well received, even going viral, pouring her heart out to thousands of strangers. (Loc 1133/2256). She would be on cloud nine. (Loc 1718/2256) At another times, scrolling through comments on a post, she played the comparison game and went from feeling content and joyous to feeling frustrated and doubtful about her efforts. (Loc 1591/2256) I am sure young women who put much store in social media will identify with her various reactions.

Henderson encourages her readers to be vulnerable and open to others, pointing them to Jesus and the hope He offers. The idea is to let God bring healing to you and others through the vulnerability. She is a good story teller and has an engaging writing style. Young women will like the honesty and vulnerability she shares in this book.

You can find out more about Henderson and farm life at her blog, https://www.faithfarmingandfamily.com/

You can watch the book trailer here.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Caitlin Henderson is a small town girl from Kansas who fell in love with a farmer. She and her husband have three kids who keep her on her toes and clinging to coffee. She is passionate about showing people Jesus and writing about her family's life full of grace, craziness, love, dirt, and cows. The Henderson family lives on a grain and cattle farm in south central Kansas.

WaterBrook, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Lightning on a Quiet Night Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book:  Lightning on a Quiet Night

Author: Donn Taylor

Genre: Historical  romance

Release Date: Summer, 2014

In the years following World War II, a town too proud of its own virtues has to deal with its first murder.

Despite  the implications of this crime, the town of Beneficent, Mississippi, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in town. While the sheriff tries to find the murderer, Jack and Lisa’s contentious courtship reveals the town’s strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about the true nature of the town. But where will those discoveries lead? To repentance or to denial and continuation in vanity?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Taylor has created an interesting setting of a town where the inhabitants think they are all nice Christian people. The town is rocked when a murder occurs. Taylor explores what it means to be a nice Christian, to be good. Does it mean doing good actions, like attending church? Yet can one be doing all those good things and be a murderer? Does being good have more to do with loving God or looking good on the outside?

Balancing the shocking murder aspect of the plot are relationship issues including loneliness, loyalty, forgiveness and romance. The romance is nicely framed with increasing affection challenged by doubts as to who the murderer might be, including the potential boyfriend.

Taylor's writing style is engaging and the characters are crafted rather well. It is not a page turner but it did keep my interest throughout. A reading group could have a good discussion about all the relationship issues although a discussion guide was not included in the copy I read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Raised in Mississippi, Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterward, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His published works include six suspense novels and a book of poetry. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics

More from Donn

There’s a very personal background to my historical romance Lightning on a Quiet Night. When I was seventeen, my parents moved from central Mississippi to teach at a college in the northeastern corner of the state. I quickly came to love the region’s wooded hills and small, fertile valleys, and I developed an appreciation for the people who lived there. That region was also where I met Mildred, who taught me the meaning of love. The critical stage of our courtship occurred when the area was snowbound. By the time the snow melted (with no help from us, of course) we were engaged.

So when, decades later, I came to write a historical novel, I set it in a fictitious town in that region, and in 1948, the time period Mildred and I had known together. I wanted to write about love, of course, but I also wanted to write about the everyday citizens of that region—the storekeepers, small-town bankers, farmers—people of good will who seemed never to be accurately represented in fiction.

Readers will find the main focus of the novel to be romance, suspense, and comedy—with a snowbound love scene, of course. But as the writing progressed, the scope of the story broadened. What would happen if a town too proud of its virtues had to deal with its first murder? How would its citizens struggle against the reality of human imperfection? I’d started out to write about love and solving a murder but found myself grappling with the most basic problems of human life.

How successful was this? Readers will decide, but I can say I was gratified when Publishers Weekly wrote that the novel had “passion and heart” and showed “a keen understanding of the human condition.”

Among my books, this was Mildred’s favorite, and she helped in many ways during the writing. She lived long enough to read its dedication to her and to see the novel contracted, though not to see it in print.

But enough of the personal: Readers want mostly to be entertained by a good story, and I hope that is what I have given them.

Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, January 12

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 13

deb's Book Review, January 14

Mary Hake, January 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 15

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, January 16

Connie's History Classroom, January 17

Artistic Nobody, January 18 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 19

Texas Book-aholic, January 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 23

A Novel Pursuit, January 23

Pause for Tales, January 24

For Him and My Family, January 25

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Donn is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card plus one paperback copy of Lightning on a Quiet Night!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10537/lightning-on-a-quiet-night-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Our Town Atheist by Victoria Buck Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book:  Our Town Atheist

Author: Victoria Buck

Genre: Christian Women’s Fiction

Release Date: October 30, 2020

Small-town banker Adam Bender tackles a robber and loses. But that’s not what shakes the foundations of his well-managed life. He awakens in the hospital to the vision of an angel. But that’s not what casts doubt on his reasonable judgment. Turns out the angel is only a beautiful doctor—someone Adam wants to get to know better.

The bank robber is on the loose and out to get Adam. News spreads in the gossipy little town of Adam’s misfortune, his love interest, and his…atheism? He’d thought he could keep that a secret. But Adam Bender can handle it. Or, can he?

What happens one night on a mountain road leaves him questioning his worldview. And his sanity. And soon the whole town is waiting to find out if what Adam saw will alter his unbelief.

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review

This is an unusual book, portraying a few weeks in the life of a small town bank manager. He is a Jew who has rejected any belief in God. The town is deep in the Bible belt and he is hesitant to let anyone know of his atheism, fearing rejection. But it is a town where gossip spreads quickly and his religious view becomes known. A reading group could have a lively discussion on how citizens respond to the news.

The plot centers around two aspects of his life. His bank gets robbed and he falls in love with a Christian doctor. That makes for a good plot balance of budding romance and periodic suspense.

Buck's writing style is interesting. Reading the narrative was like experiencing life. It just seemed natural. There are some passages when Buck is clever in her writing. My favorite was when the atheist realizes the whole town will soon know his view. He muses that he does not know what a prayer closet is, if this town had one he knew he had just come out of it.

I had mixed emotions at the end of the book. I wanted to rant at the surprise ending. I also knew it should not have been a surprise. And I'm not really sure what the dog represents. Nonetheless, I found this novel to be entertaining and thought provoking. I'll be looking for more from Buck.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Victoria Buck is a native Floridian running a small business with her husband, who teaches her everything she needs to know about both melodrama and comic relief. Wake the Dead is her debut novel. Killswitch is the follow-up to book one. Transfusion is the last book in the trilogy about the world’s first transhuman.

Now, on to other stories! Victoria is currently working on two present-day novels. No transhumans or insurrections. Of course, there has to be a bit of a weird twist!

 

More from Victoria


Have you ever heard of a porkpie hat? Maurice is wearing one that terrible night when Adam sees him. The Chief of Police hasn’t seen a porkpie in Crossroads for decades, but old Mrs. Jones can tell you all about it. I wasn’t familiar with the hat until I wrote this story. Now I have one of my own!

I admit unusual characters pop into my head. Not your typical protagonist for someone who writes from a Christian worldview, Adam Bender showed up in my imagination after I wrote some blog posts about atheism. Those posts drew more response than I expected from the atheist community. Some were not so kind, but others wanted only to exchange ideas and explain their views in a non-confrontational manner. That’s when this easy-going, fictitious atheist began speaking to the writer in me. I let him talk for a while, and then I had to tell his story.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 13

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 14

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, January 15

Susan K. Beatty, Author, January 16 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, January 16

Artistic Nobody, January 17 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 18

deb's Book Review, January 19

Inklings and notions, January 20

For Him and My Family, January 21

Texas Book-aholic, January 22

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, January 23

Stories By Gina, January 24 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, January 24

CarpeDiem, January 25

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Victoria is giving away the grand prize package of an eBook copy of the book and a porkpie hat!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10539/our-town-atheist-celebration-giveaway


I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Monday, January 11, 2021

Lethal Intent by Cara Putnam Blog Tour and Giveaway

Lethal Intent

by Cara Putman

January 11 - February 5, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:


If they expected silence, they hired the wrong woman.

Caroline Bragg’s life has never been better. She and Brandon Lancaster are taking their relationship to the next level, and she has a new dream job as legal counsel for Praecursoria—a research lab that is making waves with its cutting-edge genetic therapies. The company’s leukemia treatments even promise to save desperately sick kids—kids like eleven-year-old Bethany, a critically ill foster child at Brandon’s foster home.

When Caroline’s enthusiastic boss wants to enroll Bethany in experimental trials prematurely, Caroline objects, putting her at odds with her colleagues. They claim the only goal at Praecursoria is to save lives. But does someone have another agenda?

Brandon faces his own crisis. As laws governing foster homes shift, he’s on the brink of losing the group home he’s worked so hard to build. When Caroline learns he’s a Praecursoria investor, it becomes legally impossible to confide in him. Will the secrets she keeps become a wedge that separates them forever? And can she save Bethany from the very treatments designed to heal her?

This latest romantic legal thriller by bestseller Cara Putman shines a light on the shadowy world of scientific secrets and corporate vendettas—and the ethical dilemmas that plague the place where science and commerce meet.
 

My Review:

This book got off to a bit of a slow start for me but once firmly into the plot it was engaging. Putnam is always good at revealing aspects of legal work and this novel concentrates on cutting edge cancer research. Caroline, the heroine, is a new legal hire and has to deal with a corporate structure that leans toward cutting corners to get necessary treatment to children as soon as possible. It was interesting to learn some of the FDA requirements for approved clinical trials. I also learned a bit more about CAR T-cells and HeLa cells.

Putnam adds two side issues to fill out the plot. One issue is ethical as Caroline is dating Brian, a man who has invested in the company for which she has started working. She can't talk about her work with him as any information she relates could result in insider trading charges. That puts pressure on their budding romance.

The other issue is about foster care. Brian has established a foster care facility where siblings can stay together rather than be sent to different foster families. He faces a number of glitches in what seems like continually changing regulations.

I recommend this entertaining and informative novel dealing with ethical issues in medical research and the heartbreak of kids in foster care. The character development was done well and the plot was good after a slow start.

My rating: 4/5 stars.



Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0785233318 (ISBN13: 9780785233312)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Caroline shifted in the high-backed chair. The massive conference room table made her feel more petite than usual. Quentin Jackson, the man propelling Praecursoria through its rapid growth, vibrated with energy as he studied her.

“We are on the cusp of amazing developments and a transition from the lab to trials. We have a few CAR T-cell therapies in early stages now with more in our pipeline.”

She racked her mind for the importance of T cells, and he gave a hearty laugh.

“Don’t worry if the science overwhelms you. We’ll have you up to speed in no time. All you need to know right now is that T cells are one of the two cells that make up white blood cells. The treatments we’re working on could be the difference between life and death for young cancer patients. We need your legal expertise and quick mind to synthesize the science with the map to market.”

“I’ve overseen several court trials related to patents, which should help with that process.” It had been an unforeseen aspect of her days clerking for Judge Loren. She swallowed against the lump in her throat that still welled up when she thought about his untimely death from pneumonia. A month ago she couldn’t imagine interviewing for a job somewhere else, even if a part of her knew that she should stretch her wings.

“When can you start? Today?”

She felt rooted to the chair. Everything was moving so fast. Could she really transition her experience managing clerks for a judge into managing patents and contracts for a start-up? While Praecursoria had been around for a decade as a cancer research lab, about eighteen months ago Quentin sold off its lucrative genetic testing branch to focus exclusively on the development of cutting-edge CAR T-cell therapies. Starting over that way was a bold if risky move.

She lifted her chin and forced a smile that didn’t waver. “If that’s what you need. First we have a few details to work out.”

He laughed. “I like the way you tackle issues head-on. That will be key in this role. I know how to steer the ship, and my chief scientist can navigate the research, but you’ll keep us on the legal straight and narrow.” He tapped his pen against the legal pad in front of him. Then he picked up her résumé and named a salary that pressed her against the chair. “There will be performance bonuses tied to the successful conclusion of trials. We want to look into stock options as well. That will be one of your assignments in conjunction with HR.” He slapped his hands on the table and she jumped. “My enthusiasm gets away from me sometimes.” He shrugged but never wavered as he examined her. “Let’s start with a field trip. The best way for you to understand why we’re doing this work and research is to show you.”

***

Excerpt from Lethal Intent by Cara Putman. Copyright 2021 by Cara Putman. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

Visit Cara Putman:
CaraPutman.com
Goodreads: caraputman
BookBub: @CPutman
Instagram: caracputman
Twitter: @Cara_Putman
Facebook: Cara.Putman

 

Lethal Intent Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


Click here to view Lethal Intent by Cara Putman Participants

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Putman. There will be three (3) winners of one (1) physical copy of Lethal Intent by Cara Putman (US ONLY). The giveaway begins on January 11, 2021 and runs through February 7, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

  
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Man: The Dwelling Place of God by A W Tozer

While I review many contemporary books on Christian growth, I decided to read some older ones this year. This book by Tozer came out in 1966. The essays are from various talks and writings. He pulled no punches in expressing his opinion on the state of Christianity.

He drew attention to an inadequate view of sin. He noted that the Bible might be hard to understand but that was because it was not meant for everyone. He called complacency the scandal of Christianity. He asked that we quit negotiating with evil. He called us to love God with our entire being, noting there was no place for a secondary love. He warned of self-deception. He called us to always be contrite. He shared how he evaluated new teaching.

Perhaps his most disturbing essay for me was on prayer. He was not happy with the teaching that God answered every prayer, even if sometimes with a no. God is under no obligation to honor carnal prayers, he wrote. When we pray, we must keep in mind two requirements: praying in the will of God and living a life pleasing to God.

Tozer would certainly give some Christians today a wake up call. “The effort to think well with an empty head is sure to be largely wasted. There is nothing like a good hard fact to correct our carefully constructed theories.” (Loc 1823/2218) He bemoaned the Christians of his day who did not apply themselves to learning. “To think without a proper amount of good reading is to limit our thinking to our own tiny plot of ground. The crop cannot be large.” (Loc 1832/2218)

Reading this book revealed how books on Christian living have changed over the last half decade. Tozer was not afraid to offend his readers if it meant preserving the purity of the gospel and the importance of holy living. Read it and be prodded to think again about your spiritual life and your relationship to the world.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

A W Tozer (1897-1963) was a pastor, author, and magazine editor. Saved by hearing a street preacher, he was self taught, receiving honorary doctorates. You can find out more at https://awtozer.com/.

Wingspread, 106 pages.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, January 9, 2021

No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton

I read many contemporary books on Christian growth, often as part of the publisher's promotion or launch efforts. This year I decided to read some older books to see how the contemporary ones compare.

This book came out in 1955 and in it Merton shared his thoughts on a variety of topics dealing with man and his relationships to others. He emphasized man's interior life, his spiritual life, as the life of the real man. I was surprised by his concept of iniquity. It is inequality, he wrote, seeking more for myself than my rights allow and giving others less than they should receive. He encouraged us to see possessions for what they really are, a means to love God. I have freedom only when serving the will of God. “True happiness is not found in any other reward than that of being united with God.”

A thought provoking discussion of his was distinguishing right intention from simple intention. Simple intention means seeking God alone. Right intention means seeking right action. Right intention yields God's acceptance. Simple intention results in God's acceptance as well as His pleasure. That really made me think about my motives for my actions.

While I don't agree with everything Merton wrote, his thoughts on a number of topics, like suffering, prayer, and sacrifice, are worth reading and thinking about. This book reminded me that the depth of spiritual life encouraged by writers a generation ago is much deeper than that of today's writers.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Thomas Merton was born in France in 1915. Despite choosing a life of contemplation and prayer, he continued to communicate with some of the most famous activists, artists, politicians, and theologians of his day, and wrote many books, articles, and essays. He died during a visit to Thailand in 1968.

Harcourt, 288 pages.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Red Thread by Rebekah Pace and Tracy Lawson

I enjoyed this novel that is sort of a combination of dual time, magical realism and alternative history. The main character is Peter, a Holocaust survivor. Part of the narrative is relatively current, Peter living in a tiny apartment in New Jersey. As the narrative progresses, we become aware of his childhood memories of living in Leipzig, first freely then forced to live in a Judenhaus, then being transported to Theresienstadt Jewish Ghetto and then Birkenau. A third aspect of the book comes in as Peter begins to have lucid dreams. He dreams of experiences with his childhood friend, Mira, who had become the love of his life. His dreams are as if the Holocaust had not happened and are an alternate reality.

The narrative and structure of the novel are complex but the authors do a good job of creating an interesting story. There is the theme of lost love, when Peter is separated from Mira at the concentration camp and he thinks he has lost her forever. There is the possibility of what might have been had Peter's future not been altered forever by Hitler. There is the heart breaking story of Peter's experiences in captivity. There is the issue of Peter being old and some thinking he should no longer be allowed to live alone. And there is the question of whether horrible experiences from the past should be talked about or kept quiet.

This is a good novel and a tender love story. It is based on a Chinese legend where lovers meant to be are connected through space and time by a red thread. It includes several interesting themes, is informative and touching and is a good debut effort from Pace.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Rebekah Pace was a lost soul wandering the infamous Wells Street in Chicago when a traveling street mission from the small town of Clifton, Illinois, saved her soul and she was reborn in Christ. Now writing from her Victorian bed and breakfast, she enjoys telling stories that celebrate the important lessons learned from Christ by believers and non-believers alike.

Tracy Lawson spent 25 years in the performing arts and then made a career change, resulting in a four-volume series of thrillers for young adults, two nonfiction history books and an upcoming novel set during the American Revolution. She is married with a grown daughter and splits her time between Dallas, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.

Level 4 Press, 264 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)