Review Roundup: October 2021

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Under the Tulip Tree

By Michelle Shocklee

Reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema   

In this novel set in the 1930s, Rena struggles to find meaningful work as a writer, her life’s passion. Let go from her job as a local newspaper reporter, Rena learns about the Federal Writers’ Project, a government initiative to provide work for unemployed writers with the goal of interviewing former slaves and preserving their stories for posterity. At first Rena keeps her new job a secret from her family because of their discriminatory attitudes toward Black people. Rena herself questions whether she should participate in the project because her ancestors were slave owners. In Under the Tulip Tree, author Michelle Shocklee combines historical events, gentle romance, realistic characterization, and biblical truth to offer adults a rewarding fiction-reading experience. (Tyndale)

 

Of Women and Salt (Audiobook)

By Gabriela Garcia, narrated by Frankie Corzo

Reviewed by Michelle Loyd-Paige 

This debut novel by Gabriela Garcia is a sweeping tale of sacrifice, sorrow, struggle, and dreams of a better life in multiple generations of a Cuban family. Carmen and her family eventually move to the United States. Woven into the story of Carmen and her daughter Jeanette is the story of Anna, brought from El Salvador to the United States as a child. One day Anna’s mother is taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but Anna is not. What happens next has consequences beyond their imagination. Narrator Frankie Corzo doesn’t change her voice for characters to differentiate them. Her voice is earthy and has a fitting weariness to it. Note: This book contains strong language, stories of illegal drug use and addiction, violence, and sexual encounters. 7 hours, 7 minutes. (Audible)

 

Tales from My Grandpa’s Pulpit

By Annie Moses Band

Reviewed by Paul Delger

Sometimes one must savor every morsel of a favorite food or album. The Annie Moses Band’s latest project, Tales from My Grandpa’s Pulpit, is a musical project to be savored. The sibling band offers a heavy dose of country, some folk, and some rock ’n’ roll. The incredible instrumentation blends fiddle and guitar with awe-inspiring harmony. The album covers old hymns, such as “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “Everlasting Arms,” and even an old country folk song, “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” “One of the great figures in our family history was our grandpa, who was the preacher and the deputy sheriff in a small mountain community in Oklahoma,” said lead singer Annie Dupree. “This album is our ode to him.” (Gaither Music Group)

 

The Spiritually Vibrant Home

By Don Everts

Reviewed by Lorilee Craker

As I read this short book with lots of colorful pictures and graphs, I grew more excited about the possibilities for increasing the spiritual vibrance of my home through three main practices: “messy prayers” (making prayer and Scripture a regular, organic part of our daily lives), “loud tables” (engaging in spiritual conversations about anything and everything), and “open doors” (going from isolated, private “submarine life” to becoming more of a “rescue ship” via hospitality). Weaving original research from the Barna Group, candid and relatable anecdotes, and keen insight, this book offers households (a term mentioned 2,100 times in the Bible) a practical blueprint for becoming “warm, beautiful outposts for the kingdom of God.” (IVP)

 

The Lowdown

Differences That Remain: In Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew, theologian Hans Boersma highlights five things he wishes biblical scholars knew about theology so that these disciplines might once again serve the church hand in hand. (IVP Academic)

From Amy Grant to Lecrae: This documentary reveals Jesus Music’s untold story, from its humble beginnings at the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, Calif., through its transformation into the multibillion-dollar industry of Christian contemporary music today. (Kingdom Studios)

Modern Love, Season 2: Amazon’s anthology inspired by the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column is coming back for eight more stories of romance and heartbreak. Like Season 1, Season 2 has a stacked cast that includes Lucy Boynton, Dominique Fishback, Garrett Hedlund, Minnie Driver, Anna Paquin, and many others. (Amazon Prime)

Stylish and Propulsive: Amor Towles, the bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, returns with The Lincoln Highway, a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America. (Viking)

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