In Prayer Seeds, Sr. Joyce Rupp has created a beautiful resource for rediscovering and kindling the sacred fire within us all. Drawn from her workshops, retreats, conferences and weekly prayer group, her work is quite simply balm for the soul. Her lovely metaphors bring peace and solace to the readers, while challenging and energizing them to improve themselves and the world at large. Although this book may be best suited to communal prayer, much can be derived from Rupp’s carefully selected readings and her poems and prayers in solitary contemplation as well. Furthermore, her subject matter is wide ranging: Christmas, Lent, birthdays and anniversaries, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, the spring equinox, labyrinth prayer, the Eucharist, grief and loss, the song of a sparrow, a new year ritual for women, and transitioning to a nursing home are but a few. Something will prove meaningful to most everyone. Finally, Rupp thoughtfully provides a long list of her references for those who may wish to delve deeper into her resources. This book will prove a delightful addition to any spiritual library.
(Received through Netgalley.)
At the start of World War II, the women of the small village of Chilbury take the bold move of forming an all-women choir after the men have gone off to war. This novel tells their stories through journal entries and letters as they learn how to survive and even grow with the aid of their music and friendship. From the widow who faces the possible loss of her only son and the young Jewish refugee whose parents and baby brother remain under Nazi threat, to the beautiful, rebellious daughter of an abusive brigadier general and the unscrupulous midwife who will go to extremes to change her life, Jennifer Ryan deftly crafts her novel with unexpected twists that will keep the readers turning pages to find out what happens to these and other characters until the very last page. Furthermore, when readers turn that final page, they may well feel they are leaving old friends. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is Ryan’s debut novel, and readers will hope more are to follow.
(Reviewed through Netgalley.)
In The Fifth Petal, a young man in Salem, Massachusetts, dies under mysterious circumstances. The woman suspected by the town of the committing the boy’s murder is a mentally unbalanced, former scholar who believes the trees talk to her and a banshee resides within her. This woman is also tied to the unsolved, violent murders of three young women in the 1980’s, who were related to women hanged as witches in the 1600’s. A new sheriff re-opens the unsolved case, believing all four deaths may be connected, while the now-grown girl who witnessed the three women’s murders returns to Salem to understand her past.
Brunonia Barry masterfully crafted this novel. Barry clearly took great care with her research, so this novel has a realistic sense of place and history. Furthermore, although she combines delightful elements of the supernatural, they do not overwhelm the mystery, but complement it. Finally, the mystery itself is solid and will keep readers turning the pages until the very end. The Fifth Petal is the second in a series, and fans of supernatural mysteries will be looking for more books in that series.
(Review copy received through Netgalley.)