These wise, well-crafted inspirational essays, worth any Christian’s time, should prove especially relevant to busy women.

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A Month of Sundays

A debut devotional book blends anecdotes, thoughts on incorporating faith into everyday life, and recipes.

Growing up the daughter of a Methodist minister, Hartman learned to value Sunday as a day of rest. Over the course of a decade, she compiled these 31 reflections on the Sabbath’s significance for Christians. She whimsically likens Sunday to “a comma penned into a runaway sentence” and calls it a “day for discovering (or rediscovering) the miraculous within the routine and the everyday.” Whether she’s spending the day directing a Nativity play, weeding her garden, teaching her teens to drive, making jam, or entertaining bittersweet memories of her dead parents, Hartman believes God can use any experience to nourish one’s faith. Even when she’s on duty on the occasional Sunday as a lab tech at a hospital blood bank, she turns it into a spiritual benefit: “When our work is done mindfully, it can feel as sacred as worship.” Each chapter is in two parts: a personal anecdote is followed by a short section suggesting wider application. The “I” of the first part is thus balanced out by “you” and “we” in the second. The pieces end with recipes for suggested Sunday dinner dishes, most of them Southern-tinged, down-home fare—a main course, salad or side, and dessert, all accompanied by approximate calorie counts—simple yet special enough to warrant the weekend effort. Hartman’s style, an appealing cross between self-deprecation (she describes herself as “the atomic fusion of a Martha Stewart wannabe and the Tasmanian devil”) and religious exhortation, should endear her to readers of Shauna Niequist and Anne Lamott. Although most readers can appreciate a message about keeping Sundays special by prioritizing family time and avoiding technology and stressors, this will be an especially meaningful bedside book for harried mothers who want to cherish life’s meaningful moments. An imagined month of Sundays is a novel format, though the material starts to get slightly repetitive at Chapter 26. But a final chapter about letting go remains an overall highlight.

These wise, well-crafted inspirational essays, worth any Christian’s time, should prove especially relevant to busy women.

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5127-3069-2

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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