Friday, December 2, 2022

Christian Self Help Book Spotlight: Man Na by John J. Murray Jr.

Today, I have a Christian self help book in our book spotlight!  Check out Man Na:  A Daily Guide to Becoming the Salt God Intended, read an excerpt from the book, and learn about author John J. Murray Jr..

A Daily Guide to Becoming the Salt God Intended


Christian Self-Help

Date Published: October 9, 2022


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About the Book

 

Man Na is not just another devotional.

Each day, the typical devotional offers a passage, hopes it inspires, and waits for us to return for another dose of motivation. When the next day arrives, God is expected to feed us with more manna once again.

Man Na, on the other hand, has a secret ingredient that not only fills us up, but creates lasting fulfillment.What is its secret?

Salt. Man Na recognizes we are not only called to fill ourselves, but are designed to be salt for others through service, kindness, forgiveness, friendship, humility, gratitude, happiness, and love.

This devotional helps us stop focusing inward and start concentrating on others throughout the day.

By providing readers with God's bread and His desire for us to be salt for others, Man Na offers what other devotionals do not. So, grab your shaker and get ready to become what God intended.

 

Read an Excerpt

 

Introduction: Man Na


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.”

Exodus 16:4 English Standard Version


I have a confession.

I’ve started reading many devotionals and never finished them. 

Sure, they did their best to try to fill my soul, but something was missing that I couldn’t put my finger on at the time. After a few weeks or months, they became dust collectors on my nightstand. They still rest there like abandoned cars in an auto salvage lot. I wonder if you have a similar stack of your own.

I have another confession. 

When I started writing this devotional, I didn’t think I would finish it. 

Writing a book is hard. If the time commitment to read 365 days of inspiring content seems intimidating, writing those entries is extremely daunting. Before the battle began, it felt like Goliath’s shadow loomed over my keyboard, and doubt crept into me. 

I have final confession.

I finished, and it’s not like the ones I’ve stopped reading many times over. There’s a big difference. 

These three admissions are crucial to understanding our journey together over the next year.

You may be familiar with the word manna. In the Bible, manna was bread God rained down from heaven to sustain His followers during their time in the wilderness. Recreating this event is the goal of many devotionals. They focus on providing daily spiritual nourishment to their readers and ask them to simply return to their pages each day to gather the next portion of motivation and inspiration.

Manna has its place. There are days and seasons we spend in the wilderness when we need God’s loving hand to strengthen our faith and provide encouragement and comfort.

But God hasn’t called us to just be fed by Him. Rather, in Matthew 5:13 (New International Version), Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

God expects you to be salt. He wants you to be a preservative to others who are in danger of spoiling. Through your service, words, example, and deeds, you can make a difference to those who are searching for manna but don’t know where to look. You are vital to His plans on Earth.

Man Na is the fusion of our ongoing search for His bread and our perpetual call to be salt for mankind (the symbol for salt is Na on the periodic table of elements). If we just focus on filling our own cups, we will miss our opportunity to truly be full through service.

At the Last Supper, Jesus made this union of bread and salt clear. After washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15 NIV). Bread without salt is only half of the equation.

Unlike many devotionals, in this one, you will find a short motivational message each week. This will give you an overall theme for the Daily Bread entries that relate to each day. Try not to read ahead on the Daily Bread. Allow the Spirit to challenge, feed, and impact you each day. On days when He’s moving you to action, take action and be salt. On days when He’s providing you sustenance, allow your soul to be filled.

God is counting on you to be your best. He’s also expecting you to do your best for others.

Man Na. The satisfied servant.

I’ll see you at the finish line.



About the Author

John J. Murray Jr. is the award-winning author of Better Than Our Dogs. He leads Bible study groups with members from across the country. After leaving private practice as an attorney, John won the League for Innovation in the Community College Excellence Award as the Paralegal Program Director and law instructor at Alvin Community College. He lives in Texas with his wife, Lana, and their dog, Chloe.

  

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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Book Review Feature: 'Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate by Dorothy Rosby

It is a little tough for most of us to find the title of Dorothy Rosby's holiday essay collection at least a little relatable!  A couple of years ago, I read and reviewed her Alexa is a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked Off About so I knew that I had to give holiday themed 'Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate a spot on my reading list!    Check out 'Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate, learn about author Dorothy Rosby, read my thoughts on the book and be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.


 

Book Title:  ‘Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate; Holidays, Special Occasions and Other Times Our Celebrations Get Out of Hand  by Dorothy Rosby
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+) ,  258 pages
Genre: Humorous Essay
Publisher:  Unhinged Press
Release date:   November 2022
Content Rating:  G - appropriate for general audience as defined above
 
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About the Book

Christmas comes but once a year; chaos never ends! Happy Halloween, merry Christmas and joyful Lumpy Rug Day. We didn’t make that up. Lumpy Rug Day is celebrated every May 3, though “celebrated” might be too strong a word. It’s the American way to create a celebration for everything, then turn it into a chore or worse, a nightmare. ’Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate is a collection of humorous essays about holidays, special occasions and other times our celebrations make us feel not-so-celebratory. It’s understanding for those who think Christmas form letters can be honest—or they can be interesting. And it’s empathy for anyone who’s ever gotten poison ivy during Nude Recreation Week or eaten all their Halloween candy and had to hand out instant oatmeal packets to their trick-or-treaters. ​

My Review
 
 

Rosby Brings a Little Humor to the Chaos of Holidays. While the overdone, over-the-top activities surrounding Christmas in the U.S. is the humorous focus of many of Rosby's essays in this book--other holidays and celebration-required events take a few shots from the author too. With a conversational, relatable, sarcastic tone--the author puts thoughts to paper that many of us feel but never speak aloud. If you have ever experienced a little holiday guilt (or social media envy)--or feel lost and inadequate in the sea of commercialized chaos--this book may bring some smiles and even a slight relief in knowing that you aren't alone in your feelings!  

 

'Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate May Bring More Than a Laugh. As I read through the humorous essays, I smiled, eye-rolled, sympathized, and realized the truth behind so many of the stories and essays: we dread the holidays instead of enjoying them. I related to almost all of her pieces in at least a little way. This realization made me a little sad that I don't enjoy the reasons for the holidays because I have turned them into nightmarish monstrosities of "we have to do these ten zillion things" instead of the 2 or 3 things that matter. While Rosby shares some extremes with her humor and sarcasm in her essays, she is sadly not far from reality with many of her thoughts! 

 

Would I Recommend 'Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate: Holidays, Special Occasions and Other Times our Celebrations Get Out of Hand by Dorothy Rosby? If you could use a few laughs and a relatable book of holiday-themed essays to make you smile, take a break from the chaos of holiday preparation and merriment, and, maybe, even realize just how silly some of your holiday chaos has become--this book should be on your reading list. Some of the essays a little redundant in their sarcastic messages--but, they still bring a relatable smile.  I love the author's writing style and her sarcastic humor, and this book is the perfect way to poke fun at the holiday chaos that brings so many of us down every year!   


I would say that the author has inspired me to drop some of the chaos from our family holiday season--but, in reality, I will be making Peppermint Bark Poke Cake later today in honor of National Peppermint Bark Day.   

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About the Author


Dorothy Rosby is a syndicated humor columnist and the author of four books of humorous essays. She’s the 2022 global winner of the Erma Bombeck Writers Competition, sponsored in part by the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. She lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, 20 miles from Mount Rushmore, something she’s very proud of though she’s not on it—yet.

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Young Adult Fantasy Book Spotlight: Mother of the River by Emily McPherson

This morning, I have a young adult fantasy novel to share!  Check out Mother of the River, learn about Emily McPherson, read an excerpt and enter the giveaway at the end of this post!


Mother of the River
The Protectors
Book One
Emily McPherson

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Eyebright Books
Date of Publication: 03/07/2023
Number of pages: 272
Cover Artist: Berterra Forester

 
May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far. - Irish Proverb

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About the Book

Ianthe was only six years old when her mother vanished and the strange statue appeared in the river near her home. Now, eleven years later, the statue stands as a memorial and a place where Ianthe often visits to tell her mother about her life. But when an old acquaintance returns to town and suggests the statue isn’t just a statue, the presence of a mythical creature comes into question, and Ianthe begins to wonder what really happened all those years ago.

With her best friend, Fintan, by her side, Ianthe searches for a lost legend and discovers fantastical dangers, family secrets, and the magic of Ireland. But finding the myth may not be enough to mend the past. And finding the truth just may threaten her future.
 

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Read an Excerpt

“Ianthe, you could have said goodbye to your friend, you know. I didn’t mean to pull you away so quickly.”

“Oh, it’s fine,” Ianthe said, waving her hand in dismissal. “You didn’t.”

“But I did interrupt something, didn’t I?” Dubheasa smirked, almost amused with Ianthe’s discomfort.

“Well… sort of,” Ianthe said, “but believe me. I might owe you a favor for that one.”

Ianthe dropped her hands into her pockets and suppressed her embarrassment for another time. They arrived at the tea shop, opting for the outdoor seating on such a beautiful spring day, and claimed a small table with chipping white paint at the edge of the patio. The proprietor, Idina, weaved in and out of tables taking orders, quick as a hurricane wind.

“What’ll you have, darlings? Oh, Ianthe.” Idina’s tone brightened as she recognized Ianthe at the table. “Evening, love. How are you?” she asked with a dip of her head. A deep brown coil fell in front of her eye, and she flipped the curl back into place.

“Hello, Mrs. Kent,” Ianthe said with a cordial nod. “Just grand, and you?”

“Fine, perfectly fine. And I’ve told you to call me Idina, haven’t I?”

“Right. Sorry, Idina.”

As Ianthe got older, more and more people in town asked her to call them by their first name, as though she was one of the adults—a concept much too odd for Ianthe to accept. Now she was expected to call Ms. O’Malley from down the road Eleanor. Mr. Wilson, who brought the morning paper, asked her to call him Norman. (Who knew he’d named his cat after himself?)

And now Mrs. and Mrs. Kent were Idina and Hazel.

“You’ve just had a birthday, haven’t you?” Idina said.

“Yes— well, it’s been a couple of weeks.”

“Seventeen now, are we?” she asked, adjusting her apron.

“That’s right,” Ianthe said, and she straightened up in her chair as a proud smile dimpled her cheeks.

“I’ll have Hazel bring you some dry herbs and teas to take home then. Now, what’ll you two have?”

“I think tea and scones,” Dubheasa said, raising her brow at Ianthe, and Ianthe nodded.

“Two cups, two scones,” Idina confirmed. “Extra butter, Ianthe?”

“Yes, please,” Ianthe said with a smile.

A loud shatter sounded from inside the shop, and Idina jumped out of her skin.

“Oh, Hazel, good grief. Slippery fingers, slippery fingers,” she continued to mutter as she hurried inside.

“I hope she remembers our order,” Dubheasa said, chuckling at the commotion.

“She will,” Ianthe assured her. “They can be a bit chaotic, but Idina and Hazel are the best around. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Hazel is magic with her teas.”

“What makes you so sure she isn’t?”

Ianthe giggled at the insinuation, but Dubheasa’s eyes only narrowed.

“You’re not serious,” Ianthe said. “Tea can’t be magic.”

“Perhaps not, but people can be.”

“Pft. I was only having a laugh, Dubheasa. I know Hazel doesn’t make magic tea because magic isn’t real.”

“Here you are, darlings,” Idina said, setting the tea and scones on the table. “Enjoy!” And she rushed off again.

Ianthe slid a cup and a scone to her side of the small table and slathered butter onto the bread while Dubheasa eyed her carefully.

“Well then,” Dubheasa said, thankfully moving on to a new topic, “when did we last see each other, dear? Do you remember?”

“Um,” Ianthe paused to take a bite of her scone. “Two summers ago, I think.”

“And has much changed since then?” Dubheasa asked, stirring cream into her tea.

“Besides growing a bit taller, nothing at all.”

“Well, I’m glad to see you’re still here.”

“Why wouldn’t I be here?”

Dubheasa sipped her tea and waited for Ianthe to come to some sort of conclusion, but Ianthe stared back, lost as ever.

“Well, the Scréch Sídhe, of course,” Dubheasa finally said.

Ianthe couldn’t help but subtly roll her eyes, feeling a sliver of annoyance in her gut.

“Oh, right. Of course,” she said flatly. “How could I forget.”

“You still don’t believe in the Sídhe, do you?” Dubheasa asked, though she already knew the answer.

“No, I must admit. I don’t.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why is that?”

“You told me the Scréch Sídhe would come for me after my mother disappeared, but it’s been eleven years. Do you really believe a magical faerie would need this much time to find a person?”

Dubheasa continued to sip her tea with squinted eyes before offering another question.

“Then how do you think your mother turned to stone?”

“Oh, this again?” Ianthe said, reminding herself a bit of her dad. “My mother didn’t turn to stone.”

“I’ve seen her, Ianthe. I know she stands in the river.”

“I’ve told you,” Ianthe said, dropping her hands to the table rattling the teacups. “My father had that statue made in remembrance of her. It’s not actually her.”

“And yet, he never visits her to remember her.”

“N—no, you’ve got it wrong, Dubheasa. My mother disappeared.”

“And disappearing into thin air is a more acceptable explanation for you?” Dubheasa asked, studying Ianthe’s face.

“Certainly more acceptable than ‘cursed by a faerie’,” she said in a failed whisper, gripping the edge of the table and leaning in.

 

Meet the Author


 
Emily McPherson is an author for young adult readers with a liking for fantasy. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, she strives to normalize seeing characters of the rainbow on the page without harmful stereotypes. She is an Irish dancer with a slight obsession with mythological creatures. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, son, and—the real mythological creatures—her two rescue pugs.
 
 
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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Book Review Feature: How the Wicked Run by Annabelle Lewis

I love mysteries and suspense novels--especially those with some supernatural elements.  This week, I had the opportunity to read and review the latest novel from The Boston Clairvoyant series by Annabelle Lewis!  Learn about How the Wicked Run, read my thoughts on the book and be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.


 

​Book Title: How the Wicked Run (A Boston Clairvoyants Novel) by Annabelle Lewis
Category:  Adult Fiction 18+, 283 pages
GenreContemporary Mystery, Thriller with Romance and Humor
Publisher:  PePe Press
Release Date: Oct 2022

Content Rating:  PG13 +M: Lots of cursing, kidnapping, all sex off page, no gore

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About the Book

Destined for Love and Danger

Sidrah Keeling, well-intentioned Boston clairvoyant and stalwart protector of her newfound family of psychics, purchases a country respite hours away from her grand Boston home. Lazy Pond Farm, just outside the town of Macoun, Massachusetts is an enormous fixer-upper, but it perfectly serves her agenda of fostering romance and promoting healing. In that order.

But instead, the group encounters trouble. Fate, as usual, has her own plans.

Macoun—named after the apple—is infested with racists led by a man who harbors terrifying secrets.

Will Jenny, Max, Sidrah, Leon, and Bones—the fabulous five—have the power to change Macoun? Will they be able to rescue those who need saving?

And what about love?

As the fates do battle, so will the lives between the wicked and the good. A twisted thread. Who will break? In How the Wicked Run, romance, mystery, and adventure collide once more for this enchanting family of audacious clairvoyants.
 
My Review
 

Can be Read as a Stand Alone--But, is Better in Series. I read a lot, and I have read the other books in this series--but it had been a while, and I needed to remember some details. The author does a beautiful job filling readers in on the mysterious abilities and pasts of her characters' lives so that this novel could be read as a standalone story. However, I think reading the series in order may make some of the characters' situations and relationships more meaningful and clear to readers. Also--I love this series, and each book is well worth a spot on your reading list!

 

How the Wicked Run isn't a Who-Dun-it Style Mystery. The culprit behind the missing women--and even Astrid's murder--is easy enough to figure out even before he is divulged early in the novel. However, knowing the bad guy doesn't take away from the other storylines in this book! The heart of this mystery is watching good prevail over evil--and romance and healing rise from the "ashes" of the characters' past misfortunes and experiences. The author gives some twists and turns along the way and throws some hurdles and obstacles for the characters to overcome. This book brings racism to the forefront for the story's characters. Seeing the way the novel's pieces fall together to bring the characters resolution and peace while righting wrongs makes this the perfect thriller. 

 

Expect to Love the Characters. Even if this is the first book you have read from the series, you can expect to feel like the characters are old friends. The story has a feel-good flow as the characters use their powers and personalities to help others in need. While I love Sidrah and Max--Bones, the dog, is still my favorite.

 

Would I Recommend How the Wicked Run by Annabelle Lewis? This book, as well as the others in the series, is an easy-to-read page-turner that brings suspense, good vs. evil, social issues, romance, and even occasional humor. While you may solve the primary mystery quickly--there are lots of character pieces to place before the end that will keep you turning the pages. I recommend this book to fans of light mysteries and supernatural thrillers that entertain through wonderful characters and satisfying good vs. evil outcomes! 


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