Saturday, May 25, 2019

Less of More by Chris Nye

There is an American Christian story saying bigger, richer, more powerful is better. Nye wonders if the American church is gaining the world but losing its own soul. He wants us to return to a biblical vision of what it means to be a Christian. He writes about concepts like humility, generosity, obscurity, vulnerability, and more

He asks some penetrating questions of the American church. For example, what defines a truly healthy church? Is it one that is notably growing in numbers or one clearly evidencing the fruit of the Spirit?

He asks some penetrating questions of American Christians too. What does it truly mean to follow the ways of Jesus, for example. We might have lots of stuff but are we actually spiritually impoverished? “The path to a truly rich and abundant life,” he writes, “has nothing to do with how much money you have or how much you have achieved.” (154/2719)

I appreciate his penetrating insights into technology and the Internet, how it has fundamentally changed our interactions between one another and changed our concept of our soul's neediness. I liked his comments on wealth, wondering if it has made us better people or if we have lost basic elements of humanity. He suggests our wealth has come at a high cost to our souls and spirituality.

Nye is clear. Living the counter cultural narrative of the Bible is not easy in today's American society. Yet he asks Christians to be disruptive, “Because the biblical pattern of life is so different from the American pattern ...” (1698/2719) He asks Christians to faithfully live an example of that biblical counter narrative.

This request may not go over well with Christians living high on American success. “We cannot pursue the American Dream and God's Dream,” he writes. “The two kingdoms are in opposition to one another.” (1736/2719)

If you are ready to declare your allegiance to God's kingdom, this book is for you. You will be challenged and receive clarity. There were no discussion questions in the advanced copy I read. That's too bad as this would be a good book for use by a small group or church board.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Chris Nye is a pastor and writer living in California's Bay Area with his wife. His writing has appeared in a number of publications and he is most recently the author of Distant God: Why He Feels Far Away...and What We Can Do About It. He currently serves as pastor for leadership development and teaching at Awakening Church, a faith community reaching the Silicon Valley. He is a frequent speaker at churches, universities and retreats. You can find out more at www.chrisnye.co.

Baker Books, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. I read an ARC and the quotes may appear differently in the published book.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: The Printed Letter Bookshop  
Author: Katherine Reay  
Genre: Women’s fiction, romance
Release Date: May 14, 2019  

Amid literature and lattes, three women come together and find that sharing one’s journey with best friends makes life richer.

When attorney Madeline Carter inherits her aunt’s bookstore in a small town north of Chicago, she plans to sell it and add the proceeds to her nonexistent “investment portfolio.” But plans change when Madeline discovers the store isn’t making money and she gets passed over for promotion at her firm. She quits in protest, takes the train north, and decides to work at the store to prep it for sale. Madeline soon finds herself at odds with employees Janet and Claire; when she also finds herself attracted to an affianced man, it only confuses the entire situation. 
After blowing up her marriage two years earlier, Janet has found solace working at the bookstore and a kindred spirit within its owner, Maddie Cullen. But when Maddie dies and her niece, Madeline, barges in like a bulldozer, Janet pushes at the new owner in every way-until she trips over common ground. Soon the women are delving into online dating and fashion makeovers, and Janet feels the pull to rediscover her art, a love she thought long behind her. After a night of bad decisions leaves the store in peril, Claire arrives and tries to save the day. While she, too, found sanctuary in the little bookstore, she knows it’s under-insured, in the red, and will never survive. When she discovers her teenage daughter has played a part in vandalizing the store, Claire taps into strength she didn’t know existed-or had long forgotten. The quietest of the three, she steps up and finds a way to save her family, the store, and the precious friendships that have grown within it. The Printed Letter Bookshop is the story of friends who find each other-and themselves-in a place none of them ever expected.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review


This is a delightful novel exploring three women and the unlikely friendship among them. The imperfect women are suddenly thrown together when, Maddie, the owner of The Printed Letter bookstore dies. Her niece, Madeline inherits the business. Madeline is a high power attorney, passed over for partnership. Claire works at the store and feels she has been a failure at being a mom. Janet also works at the store and knows she failed at her marriage. Very different women find they have to work together if they want to keep the beloved bookstore open.

I enjoyed reading how each of the women grew, faced issues in their lives, and came to depend on each other. These women have issues just like ours. They make mistakes and struggle with making situations right again. They get agitated with one another but learn how to work together. Little by little strong bonds are formed.

While the previous owner of the bookstore seems to be a strong Christian, there is little mention of faith among the three women. I would have liked to see Christian faith having a greater impact in the women's lives. Nonetheless, the novel is a touching one and very much a rewarding book to read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author


Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy and Jane, The Brontë Plot, A Portrait of Emily Price, The Austen Escape, and The Printed Letter Bookshop. All Katherine’s novels are contemporary stories with a bit of classical flair. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and is a wife, mother, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine now happily resides outside Chicago, IL. You can meet her at www.katherinereay.com; Facebook: KatherineReayBooks; Twitter: @katherine_reay; or Instagram: @katherinereay.


More from Katherine


Don’t you love bookshops? Every time I walk into a bookstore, it feels like a rainbow cracked open and rained a kaleidoscope of light, life and possibilities before me. I find worlds within the world and a call to adventure. Each bookshop tells a different story. It tells of its loyal beloved customer base. It reflects the personality of its owner and staff. It carries the aura of the stories it offers to us. And it was the perfect place to dig into lives, hearts and book loves of Janet, Claire and Madeline. These three women, at different stages in life, meet at the Printed Letter Bookshop, with all the romance and wonder it holds, and learn to work through their challenges together. They become the friends that each didn’t know she was missing. There is also a fourth woman I loved spending time with in the Printed Letter Bookshop — its original owner, Maddie Carter. Maddie doesn’t step onto the stage even once, but her presence, her love and her guiding hand are apparent from page one as Janet, Claire, and Madeline grow in friendship and in faith. The Printed Letter Bookshop is a love letter to books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship. I hope you savor your time with these three women — And, book lovers rejoice, there is a list of all the books they allude to in the back of the book!

Blog Stops

Bigreadersite, May 16
By The Book, May 16
Emily Yager, May 18
Simple Harvest Reads, May 26 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
amandainpa, May 27

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Katherine is giving away a paperback copy of The Printed Letter Bookshop to one lucky winner!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

I received a complimentary egalley 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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Pages of Her Life by James Rubart Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: The Pages of Her Life  
Author: James L. Rubart  
Genre: Christian fiction – suspense  
Release Date: May 21, 2019  

Award-winning and bestselling author James L. Rubart explores the way our memories shape us . . . and how they affect our beliefs. Allison Moore has no idea why she got out of her car on that rainy March afternoon and picked up the soaked journal laying on the side of the road. Brought it home. But she did. It was empty. Except for two lines scrawled in the front, too washed out to read. And a Jesus emblem inside the back cover. Something about the journal compels her to start writing in it, capturing thoughts about her newly acquired job that she thought would be heaven, but has turned into hell. Then one day, she finds words in the center of the journal. Words she didn’t write: Mene mene tekel upharsin. After her heart stops hammering, Allison Googles the phrase, and reads the story of Belshazzar’s Feast, where a hand from God writes on the wall, and the king is slain. Fear grips her, certain God is coming after her for what she did twelve years back. What she’s done wrong her whole life. She vows to make things right. Then she discovers more phrases appearing underneath each of her journal entries. Those phrases take her on an emotional roller coaster that forces her to look at everything she believes about her past in a new light, and opens her eyes to a supernatural realm of staggering consequence.

Click here to purchase a copy of the book.



My Review

Rubart has the unique skill of imagining possible ways God might work in a person. Each of his novels is an adventure in seeing God and his angels busy in the transformation process. In this one, a mysterious journal helps the main character, Allison, see her true character and who God wants her to be. A secondary character is her brother. God uses a stint on a fishing boat in Alaska to expose his character and cause transformation. Several issues are covered in these two stories, including living up to parental expectations and seeking parental approval, knowing one's own worth, “religious” and phony Christianity, and a few more.

This novel is character driven. There is no driving plot. In fact, it took me a while to get into the story. The strength of the novel is found in the character revelations and transformations and the bold actions that come from them. I would not call this book a page turner but when I got to the end I was so glad I read the book. There is a great deal of thought provoking content included.

My rating: 4/5 stars.
 

About the Author


James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling novel Rooms as well as Book of Days, The Chair, Soul’s Gate, Memory’s Door, and Spirit Bridge. He lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest. Website: www.jameslrubart.com Twitter: @jameslrubart Facebook: JamesLRubart  


Blog Stops

Genesis 5020, May 23
Bigreadersite, May 24
amandainpa, May 27
Hallie Reads, May 28
Mary Hake, June 4
Remembrancy, June 8
Livin’ Lit, June 9

Giveaway



To celebrate his tour, James is giving away a finished copy of The Pages of Her Life!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

I received a complimentary egalley 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.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Living Lies by Natalie Walters

I was pleasantly surprised by this debut romantic suspense novel. Walters tackled a few serious issues and did a good job of it. The main issue is depression, something Lane, the main female character experienced. She struggled with feelings of not being stable enough to take a chance on romance. We hope Charlie, the new deputy in town, is willing to understand and be the support Lane needs.

Other issues in the novel include PTSD, guilt and the pressures put on a family when a powerful judge is running for the senate. That pressure just might include lying about the past so nothing can darken the judge's pristine reputation.

The book starts out with the body of a murdered teen discovered by Lane and our handsome deputy is on the case. The plot is rather complex and is balanced with lots of character revelation. Much of the inner thoughts are Lane's as she struggles with her depression.

This is a good debut effort. I recommend it to readers who enjoy a complex but good plot, some suspense, and a good deal of character concentration.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Natalie Walters is an Army wife and mother of three adult children. She began her writing journey in 2010. Her nonfiction pieces have appeared in Proverbs 31 magazine and Guideposts online. She and her husband are currently stationed in Hawaii. You can find out more at https://www.nataliewalterswriter.com/

Revell, 336 pages.

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

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


A Father-Daughter Genealogy Team Link Present to Past on Family Tree
 
Meri flunks out of medical school—and runs from her parents. Genealogist Jillian Parisi-Duffy’s digging traces the family long tradition of doctors to an ancestor saved during a yellow fever outbreak in Memphis in 1878. As Meri’s family closes in, Jillian gets the final puzzle pieces in place just in time for them all to learn the truth. The Inn at Hidden Run is the first book in the Tree of Life series. Readers will come back to backdrop of a lovely mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that inspire them to connect with their own family histories and unique faith journeys.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this entertaining and informative novel. The narrative includes a contemporary story and a background one from 1878. The historical part of the novel is very informative, based on actual events during the yellow fever outbreak in Memphis.

The contemporary part of the novel is interesting, with a genealogical researcher, Jillian, as a main character. Jillian's father is a mediating lawyer at a law firm and it is interesting to see how he uses his skills in the family disagreement at the heart of the contemporary story.

One aspect of the novel I found lacking is descriptions of the characters. Newport does well describing houses and rooms but is so sparse on people I had difficulty picturing them. Meri is described as having “warm bronze skin” and I didn't know she was African-American until well into the book. And except for Jillian's frizzy hair, I can't tell you what she looks like. I do appreciate Jillian's obsession with finding just the right coffee mug with the right feel, however. I'm the same way.

Newport includes a number of issues in the plot. The most serious one is family expectations. What is a young woman to do when parents are overbearing in their demand she go into a certain profession, even though her heart is not in it?

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author


Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

More from Olivia


Of Family Lines and Family Lore 
 I suppose it all started in a cemetery. 
Once, while a group of relatives were visiting a cemetery, one of my cousins and I wandered off and looked at all sorts of graves, speculating about the names we read and the lives they represented. We were duly scolded both for separating from our families, which caused some consternation, and for being disrespectful—though I think the second accusation was a false one! 
Just because we were young children didn’t mean we were disrespecting the dead. Quite the opposite. We were respecting lives long forgotten with our curiosity about who they were and what legacies they left. 
These days a lot of people are interested in genealogy. Entire TV series spin around the theme, and DNA kits show up in Christmas stockings. Lost branches of family trees find the main trunk—sometimes with big surprises. 
My new Tree of Life series is set in the backdrop of a lovely Colorado mountain town I hope you’ll want to visit often, where a father-daughter genealogy team link present to past on family trees and characters learn about who they are, where they come from, and their unique faith journeys as they discover their own Tree of Life. It all starts with The Inn at Hidden Run. When Meri arrives in Canyon Mines because she wants to run away from her family, true answers come from understanding the past that generations have forgotten—the accounts from another time and place no longer handed down but that still form the backbone of the family’s story. 
What’s the backbone of your family’s history? How is it shaping your own future?

Blog Stops

Hallie Reads, May 22
Bigreadersite, May 23
By The Book, May 23
Mary Hake, May 28
Quiet Quilter, May 29
Remembrancy, May 30
Moments, May 31

Giveaway


 
To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Inn at Hidden Run!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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.