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review 2017-11-18 06:24
The Alchemist
The Alchemist - Alan R. Clarke,Paulo Coelho

I bought this book while in Amsterdam for a couple of reasons:  The title first caught my attention, and the friend I was with said he'd read it and thought it was... ok.  But mostly because of the title. 

 

Since buying it I've read a lot of reviews that say it's... ok.  Which is why it sat on my TBR for so long.

 

Now that I've read it, I understand why a lot of people might think it's just ok.  Reading it, I'm left with comparisons that include fairy tales and Pilgrim's Progress; allegory plays a big part in this tale, although the message isn't all that hidden.  And the author doesn't even try to hide his, or his characters', faiths or spirituality; it's not preachy, but God and Allah are at the root of the plot.

 

Still, it's beautifully written, and well translated.  The allegorical nature of the story and the third person POV kept me from really being invested in what happened to anyone, but I did appreciate the truly omnipotent and omnipresent role the author gave to God.  He never tried to restrict the deity's role to just a traditional Christian or a traditional Islamic one; when he claims God is everywhere, he doesn't go about contradicting himself.  My appreciation for this refreshing lack of hypocrisy went a long way to overcoming my ambivalence about the fate of the characters, and elevated my appreciation of the book to a notch above 'ok'.  

 

If you prefer your spiritualism to be deity free, you're not going to like this book.  If that's less important to you and you're intrigued by the question of "why are we here?", this might be worth a look.

 

 

Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue),

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review 2017-11-15 10:20
Pope Francis: My Door is Always Open
My Door is Always Open: A Conversation on Faith, Hope and the Church in a Time of Change - Pope Francis

I had a hard time rating this until I reminded myself I was rating the book not the Pope.  The Pope's part in the book is brilliant and I genuinely loved reading his words.  The author's part was more problematic for me.  Spadaro took on the roles of both interviewer and interpreter of the Pope's message, and I found his explanations to be denser and wordier than the Pope's original words.  His desire to expound and explain the Pope's message came from a sincere and heartfelt place, and I often got the impression it was his way of re-experiencing these interviews, but I also could not get the word 'mansplaining' out of my head, which is probably unfair, but there it is.  Eventually, I just skipped his sections of analysis and just focused on Pope Francis' words.  Ultimately, this made a huge difference for me, and I was unable to put the book down.

 

Definitely a work meant for a select demographic, but worth the time.

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text 2017-11-02 08:10
Book Blitz - Keeping The Faith

KeepingTheFaith_BlitzBanner

 

Title: Keeping the Faith

Series: Faithfully Yours, Book 3

Author: A.M. Leibowitz

Publisher: Supposed Crimes

 

Cover Artist: Stacy O’Steen

Release Date: November 1, 2017

Romance Genre(s): Contemporary, M/M

Words: 84,000

 

View on Goodreads

 

 

KeepingTheFaith

 

Blurb:

 

 It’s been three years since Micah’s spouse, Cat, passed away at the age of thirty-six. In the process of cleaning his house, Micah discovers a series of letters Cat hid before he died, in which he made one request: that Micah empty his life of Cat as a way of moving on. Micah has been able to work through his sorrow, but he’s unable to fulfill Cat’s last wish. He can’t see a way past his loneliness despite all the caring people around him.

 

Enter two new friendships. Jude, Micah’s vivacious new coworker, brings joy back into his life. But she has a big secret about her family, and the truth will rock Micah’s understanding of who she is. Chris, the new minister at Cat’s former church, intrigues Micah. Unlike Jude, Chris is an open book, from his musings on theology to his work as a trans advocate and activist. His gentle manner and deep faith become safe space for Micah to open up about his loss.

 

Through them, Micah becomes involved with the town’s new community center, where he offers a creative writing class. Using Cat’s detailed letters, he fictionalizes their love story to share with his students. In doing so, he at last begins to sort through his complicated grief. Micah learns he doesn’t have to erase his life with Cat in order to make new memories. He may even be falling for Chris, despite their vastly different spiritual views. With a little help from family and friends, Micah will need to open his heart to love again.

 

 

Excerpt:

 

After flipping through an album of Cat’s early childhood, Micah put that in the growing pile next to him and lifted out the letters.

 

These were different. They were written more recently. Micah went through the envelopes, his mouth dropping open in surprise. Cat had written them all during the time after he’d become ill. He’d known then he was dying; it had been his choice not to take drastic measures to alter the course of his long illness. It had taken five months almost to the day for him to finally acquiesce to the effects of multiple organ failure on his body. The final month had been agony, and Cat hadn’t been lucid enough in that time to compose any more letters. The last one was dated about five weeks before he died.

 

The only thing left in the trunk was the small box. Micah took it out and examined it. The box was metal and had a lock, but there was no key. Micah searched the bottom of the now-empty trunk, but there was nothing inside. He shook the box and heard the items rattle. There might be a way to pick the lock, but he wasn’t any kind of expert.

 

Micah opened the first letter. Inside, he found the key to the lock box and a folded piece of paper. He withdrew both and set the key on top of the box. Slowly, he unfolded the letter and read the greeting. He only got as far as Dearest Micah when he let the paper fall from his fingers. His immediate urge was to shove it back into the envelope and never open it again nor any of the others.

 

His head swam; he wasn’t ready for this. What secrets was Cat going to reveal in death that he hadn’t shared in life? It was as though Cat spoke his name right from the page, and it tore open the wound of his death. Micah’s eyes burned as he struggled to hold back an ocean of raw grief. Unable to continue for the moment, Micah let it take him, covering his face and sobbing.

 

It took a moment for him to realize that something was nudging him, and he fought to regain control. Opening his eyes, he found Thomas in his lap, trying to press close to Micah’s chest. Thomas’ head rubbed under Micah’s chin, and the cat purred. The rumbles soothed Micah, and his crying slowed. He took a deep breath.

 

He could do this. He could read Cat’s letters and not fall apart. Cat had trusted him to do so eventually, and Thomas was here to comfort him. Micah wiped his eyes and nose and picked the letter up again.

 

Buy Links:

 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | Kobo

 

AMLeighbowitz

Author Bio:

 

 

 A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. Their published fiction includes several novels as well as a number of short works, and their stories have been included in multiple anthologies. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.

Connect with A.M. Leibowitz:

 

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page |

Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google Plus

 

 

Giveaway:

 

To celebrate the latest release from A.M. Leibowitz, 3 lucky entrants will win an eBook bundle of all four titles in the Faithfully Yours series, which includes the following:

  • Passing on Faith
  • Walking by Faith
  • Leaps of Faith
  • Keeping the Faith

For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway closes at midnight EST on November 10, 2017, and is open to entrants worldwide. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Tour Stops

 

November 1:

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
Drops of Ink
Stories that Make You Smile
Books, Dreams, Life

November 2:

BFD Book Blog
Romance Novel Giveaways
***Kitty's Book Spot***
Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews

November 3:

Happily Ever Chapter
My Fiction Nook
The Layaway Dragon
CelticLady's Reviews

November 4:

Boys on the Brink
Liz's Reading Life
Making It Happen
Loves Great Reads

November 5:

Abibliophobia Anonymous
I Heart Reading
Bayou Book Junkie
Anna Butler - Love That's Out of This World

 

 

Tour Hosted by LoveBound Promotions

LoveBoundPromotionsLogo

 

 

 

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review 2017-10-29 21:34
Seraphs (Rogue Mage #2) by Faith Hunter
Seraphs (Rogue Mage Series, #2) - Faith Hunter
Thorn is backed by some very close friends, a fiercely loyal family. But as a newly revealed Neo-Mage in an aggressively hostile small town she’s on thin ice. Even when her powers may be the very thing keeping them safe from the monsters underground

 

But are those powers also responsible for drawing them?

 

She had sworn she wouldn’t return to face the darkness under the mountain… but it’s waiting and gathering its forces and it certainly hasn’t forgotten Thorn



This huge, complicated world contains so many wonderful conflicts. A post-apocalypse world, nearly wiped out by angelic and divine wrath, nearly consumed by demonic rage, living in equal terror of both angel from on high and demon from beneath. A deeply religious society, desperately and faithfully following proper sacred rules - but without any clear indication of what those sacred rules actually are, which religion is right and in a world where one certainty they actually have is that religious conflict will get you killed.

 

And these are just the stories the Seraphs tell… what is the real truth?

 

And into that complex world we have Thorn continuing her story - only this time revealed to be a Neomage, much to the hatred and prejudice of her neighbours. There’s so many wonderful levels to this whole conflict: there’s Thorn gloriously owning who she is, wearing it like a cape and waving it like a flag. There’s her closest friends and loved ones standing shoulder to shoulder with her ready to cut anyone who looks at her twice. There’s the good people who are pushing for honesty and fairness (and the Jewish and Cherokee communities arming and stepping up in the face of clear religious oppression was a nice, though in need of development, moment). The outright bigots willing to do anything to bring Thorn down. The hypocrites who want Thorn’s magic - but not in public, not where people could see, oh no! And, of course, Thorn makes a convenient scapegoat whenever things go wrong.

 

Throw in a lot of intrigue about her past and her mentor, lots of questions about whether the whole narrative that is being sold about the Seraphs arrival is actually true and a neat little romance sub plot with some nice twists in that it’s not happily ever after, by any stretch.



I like the people around Thorn, they’re not flawless: the fact that Audric, a Black man is in a subservient position because of his species, the fact that he and Rupert, as gay men, are similarly rendered sexless are both questionable to say the least and Rupert has a bad case of Gay Shark going on with heavily laden stereotypes. All are fiercely loyal to Thorn and along with Jessie make an excellent team around her. She has strong, good relationships.

 

The town itself is also very racially diverse, though not with major characters, Many important characters - like the chief elder of the town - are POC
 
 
 
 
 
Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/10/seraphs-rogue-mage-2-by-faith-hunter.html
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review 2017-10-27 11:44
A clean romance, where fate, faith, and history come together.
By Light of Hidden Candles - Daniella Levy

Thanks to NetGalley, to Rosie Amber (from Rosie’s Book Review Team. If you’re an author looking for reviews, check here) and to the author for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This novel fits into several genres. It is a romance (a clean or sweet romance. I’m not sure if the same that there are Christian books, there is also a category for Jewish books, but if there is, it would fall into that as well), where fate seems to conspire to unite the two protagonists whilst their faith separates them (Alma, the young American woman is an Orthodox Sephardic Jew, while Manuel, the Spanish young man is not only Catholic but he is considering priesthood). It is also a historical novel. Both protagonists have always wondered about their past, their genealogy and family histories, and are fascinated by some stories about their ancestors that have been passed down for generations although with little in the way of evidence to confirm them. They end up joining a project to do some family research in the historical archives in Madrid and they pair up as a team. Whilst we follow their research and investigation, with alternating chapters in the first-person, told from each one of the protagonists points of view, we also have some chapters set in the XV century in Spain (1492), told in the third person, from the point of view of Miriam, a Jewish young woman whose father’s dealings with conversos (Jews who had converted to Catholicism) gets him into trouble with the Spanish Inquisition (yes, Monty Python get a mention, don’t worry). The book is also a book about religious and personal identity and faith, and it goes into a fair amount of detail about the Jewish faith, not only about customs but also about points of faith and doctrine. For both, Alma and Manuel, their faiths are fundamental parts of who they are and they are both determined not to allow their friendship to cross boundaries and develop into something that is impossible if they are to remain faithful to their beliefs. I think you probably can guess where this is going.

The characters are likeable, quirky (especially Alma. Manuel seemed too good to be true at times, but then, male characters in romances sometimes are, and this is not a story full of rogues), and easy to empathise with. Alma’s family and her interaction with them feel real and give the reader a good sense of the joys and the struggles of trying to keep the tradition alive despite the pressures of the modern world. Manuel’s mother is very peculiar, although everything is explained later, and he does not have other contacts or close family, so his chapters focus mostly on his doubts about his faith and on his relationship with Alma. Their interaction is sometimes funny (rather than Romeo and Juliet this is more like Much Ado About Nothing), sometimes poignant, and sometimes deep and reflective. They can be at times naïve (they have both lived what appear to be quite sheltered lives, despite their very different backgrounds and circumstances), unaware, and blinkered (there is much made of the prejudice in Spain, both in the past and now, but they don’t seem aware of any issues on that respect in the USA), but they are devoted to their families and their projects, they are well-liked by all they come in contact with, and meet interesting people whose stories illustrate multiple aspects of living according to a religious faith.

The novel travels with the characters, providing a wonderful background for the story (New York, Granada, Madrid, Lorca, Cartagena), without long and tiresome descriptions, just enough detail to fire up the imagination and transport the readers there.

There is mystery (well, there are several mysteries) and coincidences, luck, and fate play a huge part in the story. I don’t think many readers will be surprised by what happens, although, like in many romances, the beauty is in the detail, the process, and in how seeing how things will come together in the end. And yes, the ending is satisfying.

I would recommend this novel to readers who love romances with a big dose of both fate and faith, who like clean novels (no swear words, no sex), are interested in the Jewish faith and its history, and enjoy the company of warm-hearted characters who deserve the best of luck.

 

 

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