Sunday, February 19, 2012

River's Call

River's Call is the sequel to River's Song and the second book of the "Inn at Shining Waters" series.  This book begins with Anna and Clark freshly married and operating the new inn.  Anna finds a great sense of contentment in her new life until it is clear that something is wrong with Lauren, her daughter.  Opportunities arise for Anna to share her experiences with peace and forgiveness with others, but can she continue to practice them in her own life?  Will the strength of Anna's ancestors be passed to future generations?

This book is just as good, if not better than the first.  There are no wasted words in this tight novel.  The time transitions are smoothly made with no loss or confusion to the reader.  There are a few surprises in the book to keep the reader on his or her toes.  The issues that Anna faces are very realistic and it is easy to think of similar situations in my own life.  I think this draws the reader in further.  River's Song earns 4 out of 5 stars.    

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books.  She has been nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement award.  Her book Homeward won a Rita Award.  She and her husband live in Oregon near their two grown sons and their families.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Surprised By Oxford

"Who is God to you?  I'd really like to know."  No one had actually asked me such pointed questions of the topic before...I felt like a hummingbird that had hit the glass.  Hard."

Carolyn left Canada to attend Oxford.  She took with her an unquestioned agnosticism and a large chip on her shoulder from her upbringing.  She quickly met professors, friends, and assorted others who challenged (both purposefully and not) her beliefs and feelings.  Tall, Dark, Handsome (TDH) entered her life, adding a new dimension.  This book is her journey not just into belief, but purpose and fulfillment.

I really enjoyed this book as it details Weber's experiences of both the heart and mind.  So many books these days seem to cater to one or the other, rarely both.  She affirms that to believe is not anti-intellectual.  I also enjoyed the descriptions of the conversations she had with various people, believers and not and her inner thoughts that went with these discussions.  It is interesting to see how she can look back and see how various events wove together in purpose while she was there.  Overall, a very well written and interesting book appealing to a variety of readers.  Surprised By Oxford receives 4 out of 5 stars.   

From Ms. Weber herself:
Carolyn Weber graduated summa cum laude from Huron College, University of Western Ontario, Canada. She was awarded the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England, where she completed her M.Phil and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Romantic Literature. Also at Oxford, she taught undergraduates and became the first female Dean of St. Peter’s College. Most recently, Dr Weber has been Associate Professor of Romantic Literature at Seattle University.  She has also taught as an Assistant professor at the University of San Francisco, and as a visiting professor at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA.  Her primary academic research interests have included the following:  theories of the soul and the relationship among art, religion and literature in 19th c. Britain and Europe; Orientalism; the Gothic; conversion and confessional narratives; spiritual autobiography; academia and parenting.

The God Box

"She started writing down her petitions on random scraps of paper that she addressed to God and then placed into her God Box for resolution and relief."

After her mother passed away, Mary Lou Quinlan, her brother and their father began moving through their grief.  Remembering her mother's habit of writing down her prayers and tucking the papers into small boxes, Mary Lou went looking for her mother's "God Box."  She did not find just one box, but several covering decades of prayer.  As the family began sorting through, they realized how much her mother trusted God and cared for those around her.  Desiring to share her mother's faith and encourage others, Mary Lou created this book.  She shares her mother's faith, some of the prayers, and her own journey.

Last year I was flipping through a magazine and there was an article written by Quinlan about her mother's God Box.  I do not know if her book was inspired by successful articles or if the article was an excerpt from the book.  I do know that my interest was piqued.  When I first started flipping through the book, I was a bit disappointed.  This is not a thick book to sit and read, but more of a gift book to browse through and read snippets of.  There are many pictures of slips of paper with prayers written on them.  This is a book you'd want to have a hard copy of, not just a copy for an e-reader.  I do think it is a beautiful tribute from a daughter to a mother.  I think Quinlan may inspire people to "let go and let God" by sharing how her mother did that.  I think 3 out of 5 stars is appropriate for this book.

Mary Lou Quinlan holds an MBA from Fordham University.  She is a marketing strategist, speaker, and author of three previous books.  She and her husband live in New York City.

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