A fine collection that expresses ardent religious feelings in fresh, evocative language and metaphors.

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POEMS & PROVOCATIONS: A 60 DAY GUIDE BOOK TOWARD PERSONAL PSALMISTRY

Divine grace suffuses a seemingly mundane reality in these lyrical Christian devotional poems.

Schmit (Jesus Inside, 2015), a poet and writing instructor at the Bethel School of Supernatural Discipleship, offers 60 poems featuring vivid imagery of everyday life lit by epiphanies that bring God onto the scene. Nature vignettes (“The branch at bud point, / lightly bears the warbler’s weight, / shakes free of frost, / and offers a blossom peek / to the sun”), vegetable stands (“A roadside cascade of tumbling tomatoes / splits its sides laughing”), and holiday decorations (“The wren wonders at outdoor / Christmas lights, / not much there for nesting, the wires make poor worms”) make typical homespun backgrounds. Jesus appears in humble guises as an ordinary workman “in jeans /…a tool belt, thermos, / some decent boots” or a car passenger on a shopping trip (“Tuesdays I drive into town with Jesus. / We don’t talk much. He gives me / His ‘What more needs to be said’ look and fiddles with the radio to get psyched. / We pour love at the Walmart, walking down the aisles like they were water”). God figures in as a numinous, loving omnipresence (“Grace spins in spontaneous space, / the fingertip of His creation…every breath, / from the mouth of God, / is a song”). Some poems deftly call readers to a Christian engagement with worldly concerns, from homelessness (“Rainy season; plastic tarps / rumble in the wind, blankets / become roofs. /…any question where He’d be born / again this Christmas?”) to climate change and renewable energy (“The commonsense of the sun, / the compassion of the wind, / will steal the thunder of hard blowing coal fire. Cool water will yet have its day”). A few brief, punchy prose essays are sprinkled in that treat political issues more directly (“If we truly wish to make America great, let’s enlist the words of Jesus Who admonishes us to become servants of all”). The result is a stimulating volume of down-to-earth writings that will spur a deep reflection on Christian faith and values.

A fine collection that expresses ardent religious feelings in fresh, evocative language and metaphors.

Pub Date: April 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-945976-37-7

Page Count: 104

Publisher: EA Books Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

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GOLDEN GIRL

From the greenroom of the afterlife—make that Benjamin Moore "Parsley Snips" green—a newly dead Nantucket novelist watches life unfold without her.

In her 27th novel, Hilderbrand gives herself an alter ego—beloved beach-novel author Vivian Howe—sends her out for a morning jog, and immediately kills her off. A hit-and-run driver leaves Vivi dead by the side of the road, where her son's best friend discovers her body—or was he responsible for the accident? Vivi doesn't know, nor does she know yet that her daughter Willa is pregnant, or that her daughter Carson is having a terribly ill-advised affair, or that her son, Leo, has a gnawing secret, or that her ex is getting tired of the girl he dumped her for. She will discover all this and more as she watches one last summer on Nantucket play out under the tutelage of Martha, her "Person," who receives her in the boho-chic waiting room of the Beyond. Hermès-scarved Martha explains that Vivi will have three nudges—three chances to change the course of events on Earth and prevent her bereaved loved ones from making life-altering mistakes. She will also get to watch the publication of what will be her last novel, titled Golden Girl, natch, and learn the answers to two questions: Will the secret about her own life she buried in this novel come to light (who cares, really—she's dead now), and will it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list (now there's an interesting question). She'll also get to see that one of her biggest wrongs is posthumously righted and that her kids have learned her most important lesson. As Willa says to Carson, "You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things—but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them. Because they’re human.”

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31642008-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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