Book Review: Sacred Time

Thank you, NetGalley, Ave Maria Press, and Christine Valters Paintner, for the ARC of Sacred Time, Embracing an Intentional Way of Life. I am a fan of Paintner and follow her work on Facebook. I have read many of her books and I am always grateful for her wisdom and insight. This new book did not disappoint. Paintner follows a consistent and intuitive formula with her writing and how she organizes each chapter. This approach turns the reading of the text into a personal retreat. I have never read her books quickly; her words and content best read with a slow, intentional pace. You will want to linger and re-read her sentences. You will take the time to let her insights settle into your thoughts and your soul.

In this current book, Paintner takes on the topic of time, how we view it, and spend it. In our fast-paced world, we can all agree on one thing, we feel like we run short on time, and if only there were an extra 4 hours a day, right? I am someone who has always battled a very linear approach to pacing time. In this book, Paintner challenged me to consider time as sacred, “Sacred time is time governed by the rhythms of creation, rhythms that incorporate times of rest as essential to our own unfolding. Sacred time is time spent being present to the moments of eternity available to us whenever we choose to pause and breathe.” As someone who has battled with the notion that I can control time, this book was a much-needed opportunity to step back and reframe.

Paintner organized the chapters of her book by:
– breath
– rhythms of the day
– weekly rhythms and Sabbath rest
– waxing and waning lunar cycles
– seasons of the year
– seasons of a lifetime
– ancestral time
– cosmic time

Each chapter is organized into sections that include: Paintner’s reflection on the theme, a scripture reflection, an experiential exploration through meditation and creative practice (my personal favorite), and the chapter ends with a poem related to that aspect of time.
Within each chapter she also includes wisdom from saints, including St Ignatius of Loyola, St Hildegard of Bingen (a personal favorite of mine), and St Benedict. Each section of this book is an invitation to explore spiritual and creative practices to deepen our understanding of sacred time and use this information to create and embrace a life that is intentional and moves us away from the pressures of each day.

rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
pages: 160

Book Review: The Invisible Woman

Thank you, NetGalley, Erika Roebuck, and Berkley Publishing, for The Invisible Woman arc in exchange for an honest review.

The Invisible Woman tells the story of Virginia Hall, an American woman who opted out of society life in the US in exchange for adventure in Europe. Adventure and danger are what she found when Europe is thrust into chaos by Hitler and his regime. Her life dramatically changes when she is recruited to be a spy, working to arm the French Resistance. Her life as an operative would lead her to complete missions throughout the mountains of occupied France, deliver arms, train soldiers, and give direction to the French resistance. Virginia Hall was quite adept at going undercover, often as an elderly woman, hiding in plain sight. Virginia, the invisible woman, earned the Gestapo’s reputation as being “the most dangerous of the Allied spies.”
Throughout the story, Virginia demonstrates a balance of necessary stoicism and deep compassion for the people she works with and her belief in the greater cause. This historical fiction is based on real people and events, making Virginia Hall a real-life hero when women weren’t visible in war.

Erika Roebuck does a beautiful job of developing Virginia’s character. She strikes an ideal balance between action and suspense as she moves us through the story. There is just enough tension to make the book difficult to put down. I enjoyed this book!

The Invisible Woman will be released on February 9, 2021 and is available now to pre-order.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pages: 368

Book Review: Ten Ways to Pray

Thank you, NetGalley, Ave Maria Press, and Carolyn Pirtle, for an advanced copy of Ten Ways to Pray: A Catholic Guide for Drawing Closer to God in exchange for an honest review.

Prayer has always been an interest of mine, primarily because I’ve often struggled with 1. Am I doing this correctly? 2. Why do my prayers often feel dry and rehearsed? This book proved to offer some much needed and appreciated insight. I also believe non-Catholics will relate to the many ways that we can reach out to and connect with God.

Carolyn Pirtle organized the book beginning with an introduction to Christian prayer and suggestions for using her book. Following her thorough introduction, she dedicates one chapter to a method of praying. She skillfully defines the method of prayer, offers insight on why you might choose to use this form of prayer, when and where to practice it, and how to pray using that form of prayer. Her tone throughout is very warm and encouraging, which is important to those easily intimidated by prayer. I think anyone open to experiencing these different methods of prayer will find their prayer life enriched and perhaps even look at prayer through a different, more accessible lens. One of my favorite prayer methods covered is to pray through action- let your daily activities of serving and helping others be your prayer; how beautiful!

I am confident that anyone interested in deepening their prayer life will find this book to be a valuable resource to draw closer to God by bringing more depth and breadth to your prayer life.

Ten Ways to Pray: A Catholic Guide for Drawing Closer to God will be released on February 19, 2021and is available to pre-order now.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pages: 128

Book Review: The Nature of Fragile Things

Thank you to NetGalley, Susan Meissner and Berkley Publishing for this advance reader copy of The Nature of Fragile Things in exchange for an honest review.

This historical fiction centers around Sophie Whalen, a young, 20’s Irish immigrant who is living in New York in the early 1900s. Her life in New York and her living situation in the tenement housing has left her desperate to escape her circumstances. Sophie comes across an advertisement in the paper for a bride. A man in San Francisco is looking for a wife and a mother for his young, five-year-old daughter. Sophie responds to the ad and soon finds herself arriving in San Francisco, where she is picked up at the train station by handsome Martin Hocking, her soon to be husband. They waste no time getting married, and Sophie is promptly thrust into wife and mother’s role. Sophie settles into her new life that feels almost too good to be true. It’s not long before her husband’s odd behavior, and her new daughter’s silence reveals that there is more to this story than meets the eye. Her ideal life begins to crumble, literally and figuratively, when a strange pregnant woman arrives at her door on the same evening that an earthquake rocks the city. Everything begins to unravel, and she discovers that Martin is not who she believed him to be. The unraveling will lead Sophie throughout the southwest as she works to put the pieces of this mystery together. Sophie realizes she isn’t the only one trying to make sense of Martin Hocking’s life when the US Marshalls bring her in for questioning. All is not as it seems. As the story plays out, more characters are introduced, adding layers to Martin Hocking’s mystery.

I loved this book. I was immediately drawn into the story and read it in one day. Susan Meissner’s writing flows beautifully. She did an excellent job developing her characters and creating the historical setting of the early 1900s. I enjoyed how she interspersed the police interviews among the chapters. This built anticipation as I was eager to discover the extent of the deception occurring and just how many of the characters weren’t being honest, and what was at stake. This book is brimming with unexpected turns; I could not put it down. The Nature of Fragile Things will be released on February 2, 2021 and I highly recommend it!

Pages: 384
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Enchanted Herbal- Book Review

Thank you, NetGalley, Llewellyn Publication, and Gail Bussi, for the digital arc of Enchanted Herbal: Connect to Nature and Celebrate the Seasons in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely love this book! I love how the content is organized around the seasons and how nature can teach us to recognize the seasons and cycles in our own lives. These seasonal chapters organize the book:

  • Spring: creation and renewal 
  • Summer: abundance and passion 
  • Autumn: celebration and harvest 
  • Winter: peace and reflection 

Each chapter/season includes these sections: 

  • Heart Notes: thoughts and simple rituals/magic for each season’s rhythm 
  • Create: simple body/beauty products to make, as well as ideas for a natural home 
  • Nurture: ideas for natural health and wellbeing on every level, both physical and spiritual Grow: practical inspiration for planting, growing and harvesting one’s herbs and other aromatic plants, and other ideas for garden magic and enchantment 
  • Taste: seasonal recipes using herbs, spices, and flowers in delicious ways

Each season aims to identify ways to grow through self-discovery and using herbs to aid in this process. The tone of the book is very nurturing while also sharing reliable information about herbs and their benefits. I also love the focus on nature. We’ve become such a frenetic culture of being overly digital with our faces in screens far more than is healthy. Shifting our focus to nature is a much-needed reprieve from our overly social media. 

This book includes seasonal recipes and guidance on using herbs to eat, things to drink, things to do, happy home, and body care. As an herbalist, I love that she encourages the reader to keep a  Green Alchemy Journal, a journal for recording recipes, ideas, experiments, illustrations etc. as you experience herbs throughout the year.  There is an abundance of information on herbs available on the internet and countless books dedicated to herbs’ specific properties, etc. My experiences have taught me that to know and understand an herb, you need to spend time with it. Instead of learning superficial information about many herbs,  select a few for each season, and really get to know them well. This book by Bussi coupled with keeping your own seasonal herb journal is an excellent way to focus your energy on learning herbs and the different ways we can benefit from their many uses. Each season is filled with recipes, meditations, rituals, and journaling prompts to guide you in learning about and experiencing herbs.

I also love her recommendation of keeping a moon journal. Like the seasons of the year, the moon moves through predictable cycles each month. I love recognizing nature’s cycles and how closely we are connected through them. Finally, the appendix of this book is filled with useful information. Enchanted Herbal is a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in herbs and living an inspired life.

Pages: 288
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review: Yoga by the Stars

Thank you, NetGalley, Jilly Shipway, and Llewelyn Publishers, for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Yoga by the Stars includes yoga practices inspired by the zodiac wheel; this consists of asanas, meditations, visualizations, and breathing exercises. I’ve honestly never considered the symbolism between yoga practice and zodiac signs, yet reading the book and completing some of the sequences, it feels very intuitive. 

The book is broken into two parts. Part one focuses on Shipways approach to blending yoga and the zodiac wheel. Part two leads you through each month and the corresponding zodiac sign and yoga sequence to accompany that sign.

Jilly Shipway does an excellent job of providing information on the zodiac wheel, the poses, the breathwork, and mantras to get even the most novice yogi going. With the intention of improving health and wellness, mind, body and soul you will move through the months of the year gaining valuable personal insight. The book is filled with a wealth of information. As a yoga teacher, I enjoyed her creative sequences and will incorporate this into my practice and with my students. Yoga by the Stars will make a wonderful gift to any yoga student (beginners included!) or yoga teacher. 

Earth Almanac Book Review

Thank you to NetGalley, Ted Williams and Storey Publishing for an ARC of Earth Almanac in exchange for an honest review.

Earth Almanac is organized by the four seasons, beginning with winter, spring, summer then fall. Each season provides images and interesting facts and information about all manner of plants, birds and animals. It’s evident that Ted Williams is very knowledgeable on the content and it is clearly well researched. But what I especially love is the beautiful way the information is written and described, and oh my goodness, the lovely illustrations!

Honestly, Earth Almanac is a beautiful gift to readers. From the cover and throughout, the images are appealing and the writing is masterful. This is a wonderful resource book to keep on display on a coffee table. As a homeschooling mom, this book will be a wonderful resource for our weekly nature walks and discussion on plants, animals and birds. I recommend this book to everyone, especially fellow nature lovers, it’s one you will treasure.

Pages – 256
Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Little Cornish Inn- Book Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria & Aries/Aria Publishers for a copy of “No Room at the Little Cornish Inn” in exchange for my honest review.

I love a sweet Christmas romance, and this one was wonderful! Rosie Anderson, the single mom to her son Danny, has her Christmas holiday plans upended by an over-demanding boss. Rosie works for Johnson Hotels, and her boss, Susan the Sacker, is sending her to the Old Bell Inn to sort out why the inn is receiving negative reviews, oh, and she has to fire the manager , Michael Fitzpatrick. Despite this mission ruining her young son’s Christmas plans, Rosie agrees because she is anxious to finally earn a well-deserved promotion. There is only one problem when she and Danny arrive; they discover there is no room at the inn; they are overbooked! 

While the staff at the inn are lovely, Rosie continues to deal with a demanding boss. Susan calls at all times, basically whenever she wants and demands an update. Rosie begins to realize there is more to this story than she realized. With random yet abundant customer complaints and the determined way Susan is behaving, Rosie starts to question the legitimacy of the negative reviews. Oh, and there is money missing from accounts, creating lots of suspicion . 

On top of everything she is dealing with, Rosie’s’ ex-boyfriend, Danny’s father, decides to drop back into their lives after years of being gone. There is a lot going on in this story, including some holiday romance, leaving you cheering for Rosie to have a happy ending. 
I enjoyed this book a lot. I love the writer’s style and flow and found this book to be a delight, perfect read for the upcoming Christmas season. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pages: 250