All posts filed under: Reviews

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Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir

“It was never really about eating pizza in Italy or meditating in India or falling in love in Bali. It wasn’t about travel or spirituality or divorce. No, Eat Pray Love was about what happens when one human being realizes that her life doesn’t have to look like this anymore…” Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It (Introduction) Ten years after its publication, Eat Pray Love remains one of the great sensations of the 21st century. Elizabeth Gilbert’s blockbuster memoir of feeding her life’s hunger and unraveling the complex distance between fear and soul is a book that captivated readers worldwide and inspired a legion of fans. Each of us who opened the book were invited to join Liz in her quest for fullness as she sought to better understand the rhythm of her own soul. We journeyed with her from a debilitating heartbreak to an overseas adventure that was filled with wit, sorrow, and compassion. In Italy, we found the pleasures of life – that perfect pizza that was worth a trip …

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The Wander Society by Keri Smith (Giveaway)

“Society wants you to speed up, to produce, to seek material wealth. In a system that requires never-ending growth (at the cost of limited natural resources), to slow down seems anti-progress in nature. Who are you if you are not trying to ‘get somewhere’? Who are you if you are not actively working toward something? As a wanderer, you’re not subject to the narrative forced on you by society. You do not fall prey to trends that have nothing to do with your talents and desires. You do not strive to conform, but instead follow the life that springs from inside. You walk your own path. In this sense, you’re truly free.” from Keri Smith’s The Wander Society Walt Whitman wrote to “dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” Henry David Thoreau wrote of his wish to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.” Such profound thinkers, whose ideas feel utterly radical …

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Mercer Street by John A. Heldt

“Then she remembered that love was blind. It was Helen Keller, hooded, in a dark room. It was a condition that rendered people incapable of seeing more than they wanted to see.” John A. Heldt, Mercer Street The second book in John Heldt’s American Journey series finds three generations of twenty-first century women on an adventure to pre-WWII New Jersey in a search for closure, clarity, and childhood innocence. Novelist Susan Peterson is still trying to find calm amid the chaos following her husband’s unexpected death, grappling with the reality of his infidelity while trying to hold the world together for her daughter, Amanda. When Susan’s mother, Elizabeth, accompanies the Peterson women on a California adventure, none of them expect that Elizabeth’s curiosity over time-travel lecturer Professor Geoffrey Bell will grant them all the chance of a lifetime. With nothing to lose, the trio embark from 2016 California to 1939 California, and from there across the country to Princeton, New Jersey and a rented house on Mercer Street where Elizabeth comes face-to-face with her immigrant …

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Firstlight: The Early Inspirational Writings of Sue Monk Kidd

“The most significant gifts are often the ones most easily overlooked. Small everyday blessings: words, health, muse, laughter, memories, books, family, friends, second chances, warm fireplaces, and all the footprints scattered through our days.” Sue Monk Kidd, Firstlight Before becoming an international sensation and household name at the age of fifty-four with the publication of her first novel, Sue Monk Kidd was a writer of personal spiritual nonfiction. And earlier yet, writing was not her primary career at all. A longtime nurse, Kidd began her writing career by surprise when a piece she submitted to a contest was published by Guideposts, an interfaith publication founded in the 1940s. She went on to write for the magazine for twelve more years; thus began a superstar bestseller’s unexpected journey. From there, Kidd went on to write and publish an array of personal nonfiction, from pieces in magazines and eventually three memoirs on spirituality before she would ultimately publish The Secret Life of Bees. Her 2006 book Firstlight gathers together these early writings from her Guideposts years and …

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The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

“Me? I was never good at hatred. I felt it. I knew it. But it did not live inside me the way it lived inside them. Maybe things would have turned out better if it had. If I had been better at hatred.” Chris Bohjalian, The Guest Room Throughout his career, Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on literary thrill rides through time and space, offering spellbinding glances into the emotional complexities of both past and present, all with an intrepid honesty that catapults his fiction into a realm of literary truth. The one thing he never does: shy away from the hard stuff. In his examination of human nature, and the flawed cultures that are born over and over again as a result, Bohjalian goes into great and challenging depths to pay homage to the unthinkable truths that, as they say, are so much stranger than the fiction built upon them. This was especially true of his 2012 novel, The Sandcastle Girls, with its unforgettable romance set against the backdrop of the unconscionable Armenian genocide. …

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Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer by Joanne DeMaio

      To Wes, the moment becomes almost magical as she looks up at her tree again. The only sound – if it’s a sound at all – is the hush of the December night. Joanne DeMaio, Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer Returning her readers to the idyllic New England world of her novels, Joanne DeMaio whips up a charming love story that captures all the magic of the holidays and reminds us of the small joys of the season. The fictional village of Addison, with all its friendly neighbors and quaint charm, is the ideal setting for a heart-warming Christmas romance, and the perfect recipe includes two endearing protagonists – mailman Wesley and greeting card designer Jane – thrown together with a precocious puppy, a festive scavenger hunt, and a dose of the magic that only the holidays can deliver. In Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer, Wes is picking up the pieces after his fiance leaves him jilted just before their wedding, while Jane is nursing a broken wrist and an equally broken …

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Drop the Storyline: Pema Chodron on Learning to Stay with Difficult Emotions

“Deep down in the human spirit there is a reservoir of courage. It’s always available, always waiting to be discovered.” So writes Pema Chodron in the epilogue of her book, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, a collection of wisdom gained from her Buddhist teachers. It is, as Pema is known for producing, an attempt at honoring her beloved instructors, passing along their teachings as a means of healing a beautiful, broken world. Yet it becomes, as her work often does, a uniquely important rendering of timeless peace-based practices into a language the modern-day Westerner will be able to quickly understand. “We are all a mixture of aggression and loving-kindness, hard-heartedness and tender open-heartedness, small-mindedness and forgiving open mind. We are not a fixed, predictable, static identity that anyone can point to and say, ‘You are always like this. You are always the same.’ Life’s energy is never static. It is as shifting, fluid, changing as the weather. Sometimes we like how we’re feeling, sometimes we don’t. Then we like it …

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Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

One of the clerical undertakings that Sidney least enjoyed was the abstinence of Lent. The rejection of alcohol between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday had always been a tradition amongst the clergy of Cambridge but Sidney noticed that it neither improved their spirituality nor their patience. In fact, it made some of them positively murderous. James Runcie, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death First published in 2012, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is the first collection in an ongoing series of mysteries starring the compassionate and engaging Canon Sidney Chambers. Inspired by author James Runcie’s father, Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, the series captures all the charm of religious life in the English country – with a side of mystery as only the British can conjure. As the first page of the book reads, “Canon Sidney Chambers had never intended to become a detective.” A quiet but spirited Anglican priest, Sidney enjoys tending to the flock of his congregation in the quaint hamlet of Grantchester in Cambridgeshire. He knows his congregants by …