Recuperating from a blood clot in my lung, which involved a six-day hospital stay, has left me with a lot of time on my hands, which I am filling up with reading. This past weekend, I finished the two books listed below:

I first saw John Cena, former wrestling champion now turned life coach, influencer, and author on the Today Show (NBC). I decided to read the book he was touting in an interview.

The illustrations by Valeria Petrone were one of the biggest “draws” of this book. Using only black, white, gray, and a splash of yellow, Petrone emphasized each message and quote Cena offered. Just turning the pages was a pleasant experience.

In an attempt to read more non-fiction and get back to inspirational books during 2021, I chose this book, expecting a quick read. Actually, each page required a closing of the book and a thinking about what was written on it, so it took longer to read than expected. On the frontispiece, Cena writes, “Each day try to become a little less perfect and a little more brave.” Just one of many things to ponder in this tiny volume.

There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned murder mystery, right? I often skip this genre, thinking it has little “literary quality” (Ok, as a Lit major I am a snob!), but I tried this one as a way to while away my time.

Detective Megan Thomas is everything a fan would want as a protagonist in a murder mystery.

This was not the first book featuring Megan Thomas, there were allusions to a prior adventure/case, but the author gave just enough detail to explain certain phobias and Megan’s anxiety attacks, but not enough to push the reader off the track of the unfolding story. This was handled exceptionally well. At the end of the book, the author states, “I have loved writing Megan Thomas and I’ve tried to create a character to fit the mood of the times.” She then goes on to offer readers a COVID story writen around Megan as a bonus to the book.

Including human smuggling, unfaithful husbands who get their just desserts, a dying cop who is misanthropic and careless that puts all the detectives and uniforms in danger with his arrogant, pushy techniques, this mystery has it all.

I wrote a Tuesday Teaser and a Friday Firstliner post from this book as I read it, so I will not quote from it now. However, let it be said that an earlier reader had underlined some pretty profound thoughts about anger, violence, and divorce that spoke to her/him that also spoke to me.

This was a darned good read!

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ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING: A REVIEW

This inspirational book by Max Lucado was one of the books I read over the holidays. It is a 2017 publication provided by my church library. Lucado has been my favorite inspirational author for twenty-something years, and this is not a reworked, revised, updated older publication, but a BRAND NEW “take” on an idea Lucado has not tackled before.

The book’s theme is anxiety, described as “…a meteor shower of what-ifs.” He defines the difference between anxiety and fear. “Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one.” The writer bases the book on Phillipians 4:4-8 and directs the passage admirably, using the passage’s structure as the structure for his book.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to all men. Be anxiousus for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving , let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and minds through Jesus Christ.”(KJV) (italics mine) What, don’t worry? How is that possible? Lucado gives the steps to achieve the promise listed in the end of the passage–peace of heart and peace of mind.

The book is easy to pick up and put down, reading it at odd moments for short periods of time. There are only a total of ten chapters, divided into four sections, so while waiting for kids at the orthodontist, one can read a whole section, or at least come to a stopping place at the end of a chapter before the appointment is over. Questions for Reflection are presented for study groups, and there is a handy reprinting of all scriptures (in more than one version) at the chapters’/ book’s end(s). This is a  very applicable book to one’s attempt to improve his/her Christian walk.  It made me think and evaluate myself, and I intend to apply Lucado’s suggestions as I try to carry out my New Year’s goal of drawing closer to God.

BIG MAGIC: A Review

This 2015 self-help book by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, is proof the author has still “got it.” As a matter fact, I liked this non-fiction exploration of “Creative Living Beyond Fear” much more than her earlier bestselling hit. In Big Magic, Gilbert discusses her own creative processes and her life as she expresses the wonder and joy of Creativity. She has written many “pieces” for magazines, novels, and non-fiction books, so she is definitely the one to consult concerning “Creativity.” She insists everyone has the ability to “make something”–create.

In her last section, “In Conclusion” she writes:

“Creativity is sacred and it is not sacred./ What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all./We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits./ We are terrified, and we are brave./Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege./Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us./Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise–you can make anything.”