Everyday Prayer with John Calvin by Donald K. McKim: A helpful, but not overly-interesting devotional

Everyday Prayer with John Calvin

Everyday Prayer with John Calvin

by Donald K. McKim

Hardcover, 117 pg.
P&R Publishing, 2019

Read: March 1-8, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


Let’s get this out of the way at the beginning: I do not like devotionals. Morning and Evening, Our Daily Bread, Ligonier’s Tabletalk…or any number of other daily helps that millions find helpful. They’re too brief, too…I don’t want to say shallow, but introductory, I guess. The instant they get near depth, they have to wrap up because they’re about to get too long for the format. And I understand why, but I just find them frustrating.

Which is just to say that I should never have bought this book. And so you know that my lack of enthusiasm isn’t necessarily a criticism. This was never going to be a book I really liked.

The term devotional shows up nowhere in the blurb, title, anywhere—”Everyday” was the only clue I overlooked (but I thought the term suggested “ordinary,” “regular,” non-pulpit prayer).

Prayer is central to the Christian life, which is why John Calvin spends more time on prayer than on any other topic in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Drawing from the Institutes and Calvin’s Old and New Testament commentaries, Donald K. McKim comments on Calvin’s biblical insights on prayer and intersperses his short readings with Calvin’s own prayers. Reflection questions and prayer points help you to meditate on Scripture, understand Calvin’s teaching, and strengthen your own prayer life.

The ninety readings start with a scripture reference, give a paragraph or so of introduction to the topic, a quotation from one of Calvin’s commentaries or the Institutes—the quotation will be a sentence fragment to a paragraph or so—then some application, a reflection question or a particular thing to pray about. There was nothing wrong in the readings, but they….lacked any real depth or insight. I think it could be helpful for some people, or maybe a useful review of some ideas.

These readings are separated by the occasional longer prayer from a commentary. which are just great—the best part of the book.

It’s based on Calvin—there’s good stuff throughout. But you’re better off reading the source material (the section from the Institutes on Prayer alone is better than this book, never mind the helpful things referred to in the commentaries). If you like devotionals, you may find this of some help. At the least, it’s worth a look.


3 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

Back to Reality: A Novel (Audiobook) by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton: A Parallel Universe/Body Swap Story Story Full of Laughs and Heart


Back to Reality

Back to Reality

by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 6 Min.
The Bestseller Experiment, 2019

Read: March 19-25, 2020


Oh, boy… how do I talk about this? I thought about calling this a bundle of joy, but that means something else. A bundle of audio joy, maybe? This was just so much fun that I want to start with that. If you’re looking to have a good time, this is a book for you.

If you read the Book Spotlight I just posted, you’ve got a good idea about the plot (and if you haven’t read the Spotlight, why not?). But for the sake of completeness here’s the gist: connected by something across the multiple parallel universes, two versions (one 18 and one almost 2 decades older) of one woman swap bodies for a few days. The older version works in PR, is the mother of a teen who can’t stand her, with marriage problems. The younger version is a pop star on the verge of breaking through in the ’90s. If they don’t swap back, there’s every sign that they won’t survive in this new world. But how can they do that?

That sounds sort of intriguing, I hope. But the book never really feels like that kind of Fringe-inspired take on a Back to the Future/Freaky Friday mashup, because of the voice, the style and approach of Stay and Oliver—which is characterized by humor and heart. It’s like early-Rainbow Rowell/Jennifer Weiner/Emily Giffin/Sophie Kinsella. These are strong women in very strange circumstances, surrounded by interesting characters responding to unbelievable situations.

We meet Jo on a night out with people from the office, which turns into an alcohol-fueled karaoke sensation (Jo has a fantastic voice, but a lot of stage fright). I enjoyed this chapter so much that I probably could’ve written 3-4 paragraphs about it alone and would’ve read an entire book about this woman’s life (especially because what happens to her in the next couple of chapters deserved a complete novel to see her respond to). It took me a little longer to get invested in “Yolo” (the 90’s version), but I came around and started rooting for her, too.

I am not the target audience for this (note the authors I mentioned above—some of which I only know through my wife’s description). And there were a few times I asked myself why I was listening to this—each time, I decided I was enjoying myself enough that I didn’t care if this was my typical read or not. There’s just a hint of SF, a dollop of Time Travel (more like jumping between parallel universes), and a healthy amount of “women’s commercial fiction.” This is a recipe for a wonderful literary dessert.

I’ll frequently (maybe too frequently?) talk about an audiobook narrator bringing the text to life. And Kim Bretton does that. But she does more than that—she fills it with life. Dynamic, energetic, vibrant…are just some of the adjectives that spring to mind. I was very happy when I just looked over her other audiobook credits and saw a couple of titles I was already thinking about—if she’s doing them, I’m giving them a try. (although, if I never hear her do another American male accent, I’d be more than okay).

Funny, sweet, amusing, heartfelt, laugh-inducing, touching, comic, imaginative—and did I mention humorous? This is 606 minutes of pure entertainment. I really encourage you to put this in your ear-holes. It’d probably work almost as well in print—Bretton’s great, but she has to have something to work with—but in audio? It’s close to a must-listen.


4 Stars

My thanks to Overview Media for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Back to Reality: A Novel (Audiobook) by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Tour for the delightful audiobook of Back to Reality by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator). Following this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


Book Details:

Book Title: Back to Reality by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator)
Release date: September 25, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: The Bestseller Experiment
Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes

Book Blurb:

The bestselling ’90s nostalgia time travel comedy

Jo’s world is about to change forever, and it’s about time

Her marriage is on auto-pilot, daughter hates her, job sucks and it’s not even Tuesday.

As Jo’s life implodes, a freak event hurls her back to ‘90s Los Angeles where, in a parallel universe, she’s about to hit the big time as a rock star.

Jo has to choose between her dreams and her family in an adventure that propels her from London to Hollywood then Glastonbury, the world’s greatest music festival.

Jo encounters a disgraced guru, a movie star with a fetish for double-decker buses, and the biggest pop star in the world… who just happens to want to kill her.

Back to Reality is a funny, heartwarming story about second chances, with a heroine to rival Bridget Jones and the rock n roll nostalgia of Keith A Pearson.

The novel from the Bestseller Experiment podcast presenters Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux. The Two Marks went to more gigs in the ’90s than in any other decade and are currently working on a time machine to see Prince in concert.


Praise for Back to Reality

“Like if Nick Hornby wrote a time travel, body swap adventure!”—New York Times bestselling author Mimi Strong

“Everything the world loves about British comedy. For those who wished Simon Pegg wrote novels, you now have the Two Marks.”USA Today bestselling author Shannon Mayer

“Written with an authentic touch and plenty of good humour. A tough book to put down.”—Mark Dawson, USA Today bestselling author of the million-selling John Milton series

“A compelling story where the comedy compliments the drama and keeps you turning the page… A delight.”—Bestselling author of The Dublin Trilogy, Caimh McDonnell

“I LOVE IT! It’s Back to the Future meets Freaky Friday.”—#1 Kindle bestselling author of Hot Mess, Lucy Vine

“Crackles with all the addictive energy of a pop hit, and the heart of a soul classic.”—Samantha King, bestselling author of The Choice

“Like a book version of Hot Tub Time Machine with fabulous female characters and great music.”—Kate Harrison, author of the bestselling 5:2 series

“If you love time travel and rock and roll, you’ll love this book!”—Julie Cohen, author of Together

Sliding Doors meets Back to the Future in a story to make you sing with joy.”—Karen Ball, Speckled Pen

“A magnificent book! Loved every page. Beautifully written.”—Callan McAuliffe, actor The Walking Dead


What Amazon readers are saying:

★★★★★ ‘A real page-turner overflowing with humour.’
★★★★★ ‘All kinds of funny, from laugh out loud to quiet snorts of recognition.’
★★★★★ ‘I miss the characters so much I think I’ll start reading it again!’
★★★★★ ‘Pure pleasure to read. You won’t put it down until you reach the last page.’
★★★★★ ‘An absolutely cracking read. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s heartwarming, and completely impossible to put down.’
★★★★★ ‘It’s —Spinal Tap meets —Back to the Future meets —Freaky Friday.’
★★★★★ ‘Funny, fast and massively entertaining. Hugely recommend.’
★★★★★ ‘—Back To Reality has it all; It’s funny, it’s thrilling, its thought-provoking and inspiring, but be warned, once you start reading this book you won’t want to put it down.’
★★★★★ ‘Think —Peggy Sue Got Married meets MTV. Funny and warmhearted. Highly Recommended.’
★★★★★ ‘This book reads like the best comedy movies. Great pace, humour and loads of action. Recommended for fans of Douglas Adams and Helen Fielding.’
★★★★★ ‘Belts along at a cracking pace, at times reminding me of Douglas Adams.’

About the Authors:

Mark Stay

Mark StayMark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. Author of the fantasy novel The End of Magic, he is also co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com

Mark Oliver

Mark OliverMark Desvaux writes fiction as Mark Oliver. He also authors inspirational non-fiction and online courses, and is a professional speaker in the fields of self-development and spiritual growth. He is chairman and co-founder of the charity Foodshare. As a bestselling recording artist (Urban Myth Club), Mark’s two critically-acclaimed albums have led to appearances at festivals such as Glastonbury (which he tries to mention on every podcast). He lives on Vancouver Island with his family, surrounded by the beautiful mountains and seas, with chickens, bees and very tall trees.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US

My thanks to Overview Media for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

GUEST POST: GenTech in the Workplace: A Fresh Perspective Employing Generations

GenTech in the Workplace: A Fresh Perspective Employing Generations

by Guest Blogger Dr. Rick Chromey

The Millennial is creative but lazy and entitled. The Gen Xer is hardworking but rude and disloyal. The Boomer is reliable but old and out of touch. It’s a generational cocktail that produces derision and indecision, doubt and depression.

So, let’s say you’re a 35-year old and you lead a diverse team of three different ages. You have a worker who’s 18, another is 56 and yet one more aged 65. Traditionally, you view them as Gen Z, Gen X, and Boomer, but you could also see them from a different perspective.

Recast them through their generational technologies, to bring out the best performance.

Let me show you how.

The 18-year old

The 18-year old was born in 2001. She’s part of the Net (1990-2010) and iTech (2000-2020) generations. She’s been coming of age since 2011 and will reach full adult maturity in 2026. She’s known only a digital, cyberculture. The internet is like electricity. Her first technology was the smartphone and the iPad. She’s been baptized in social media. As a young employee, she is fluid in digital media, embraces diversity and is constantly connected. She doesn’t do email nor Facebook but enjoys Snapchat and Instagram. She wants to be a YouTube entrepreneur. The Gen Zer likes long breaks and often calls in sick.

The 56-year old

The 56-year old was born in 1963. He’s part of the Space (1950-1970) and Gamer (1960-1980) generations. He came of age between 1973 and 1988. His whole life has been like a video game and a rocket ride. He’s seen revolutions and recessions, a man landing on the moon and a teacher dying at takeoff. He remembers Nixon’s resignation, Reagan’s near assassination and Clinton’s impeachment. He grew up on rabbit ears, snowy channels, and black and white television. Consequently, he’s a bit jaded. He’s a realist. He struggles with newer tech. He still prefers old-school letters but has fully embraced email. He got hit hard by the Big Recession and has little saved for retirement. He’s working for every last penny. The Gen Xer has had five jobs in twenty years.

The 65-year old

The 65-year old was born in 1954. She’s part of the Television (1940-1960) and Space (1950-1960) generations. She came of age between 1964 and 1979. She watched JFK’s assassination, the Beatles and Walter Cronkite on television. She had an 8-Track in her car and a stack of records on her bedroom floor. She’s an idealist with a bit of hippie in her. She doesn’t mind the tech but thinks it’s over-rated. She prefers to talk face-to-face. She’s worked for the company for thirty years. She’s Ms. Reliable and she struggles with the team at times.

You – the 35-year old

And then there’s you. You were born in 1984. You’re part of the Cable Television (1970-1990) and Personal Computer-Cell Phone (1980-2000) generations. You came of age between 1994 and 2009. You grew up in a modem, flip phone, desktop culture. You watched the 9-11 terrorist attacks on CNN and suckled on an MTV cribs reality culture. You are computer literate and tech-savvy. You’re confident, verbal and view the world differently than older workers. You don’t mind email but prefer texts.

Your team is a reflection of their “coming of age” technology. One travels life (and work) like a video game while another freely swims in social media. One prefers texts and another wants face-to-face. One is company-loyal and another works to play.

Now you have a good picture of who’s on your team. How will you now delegate workflow? What will change?

The people working for you are the products of their generation’s technology.

 

We are giving away GenTech for free for one hour on AMAZON

GenTech is having a best-seller party, Thursday, March 26, 2020, 7-8pm EST and the book will be free for 1-hour on Amazon. Join us, and please share!

Want to learn more about GenTech? Go to http://www.mygentech.us, and we are on Facebook: @authorrichchromey, Twitter: @MyGenTech2020, and Instagram @MyGenTech. You can reach Dr. Rick Chromey at rick@rickchromey.com.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are by Dr. Rick Chromey

Welcome to the Irresponsible Reader’s tour stop for Dr. Rick Chromey’s GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are! In addition to this Book Spotlight, I’ve got a Guest Post from the author coming up in a bit, too. Give this book a second-look folks, maybe more. There’s a giveaway at the end of this post (and information on how to get a free copy in the Guest Post, too!)—be sure you check them out!

We are uniquely shaped by innovations that influenced us during our “coming of age” years between 10 and 25.
It is the technological interactions in our adolescence and college
years that guide our generational frames more than anything else, not the day we were born.We are generations of technology. We are GenTech.
– Dr. Rick Chromey
Join us for this tour from Mar 23 to Apr 3, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title:  GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are by Dr. Rick Chromey
Category:  Adult Non-fiction 18 yrs +,  328 pages
Genre:  History / Cultural & Technical History
Publisher:  Morgan James Publishing
Release date:   May 26, 2020
Tour dates: Mar 23 to Apr 3, 2020
Content Rating:  G : This is a non-fiction book about our technical history and how it has shaped our culture.

Book Description:

Every twenty years a new generation rises, but who and what defines
these generations? And could current generational tags mislead and miss
the point? In this insightful analysis of technology history since 1900,
Dr. Rick Chromey offers a fresh perspective for understanding what
makes a generation tick and differ from others. Within GenTech,
readers learn how every generation uniquely interacts with particular
technologies that define historical temperament and personality and why
current generational labels are more fluid than fixed, and more loopy
than linear. Consequently, three major generational constellations
emerge, each containing four, twenty-year generations that overlap,
merge, and blend:

 

  • The Audio Generations (1900-1950):
    Transportation-Telephone Generation (1900-1920), Motion Picture
    Generation (1910-1930), Radio Generation (1920-1940), Vinyl Record
    Generation (1930-1950)
  • The Visual Generations (1940-1990): Television
    Generation (1940-1960), Space Generation (1950-1970), Gamer Generation
    (1960-1980) and Cable Television Generation (1970-1990)
  • The Digital Generations (1980-2000): Personal
    Computer-Cell Phone Generation (1980-2000), Net Generation (1990-2010),
    iTech Generation (2000-2020), and Robotics Generation (2010-2030). Dive
    in and revel in this exciting, compelling, and novel perspective to
    understanding recent American generations with GenTech.

 

Official Scheduled Release Date is May 26, 2020.
Pre-Order Now:
Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound
BAM ~ Powell‘s ~ Indigo ~ Rediscovered Books

 

Meet the Author:  

Rick Chromey is a cultural explorer, social historian and generational
futurist. He’s also served as a pastor, professor, speaker/trainer, and
consultant. In 2017, he founded MANNA! Educational Services
International to inspire and equip leaders, teachers, pastors, and
parents. Rick has a doctorate in leadership and the emerging culture;
and travels the U.S. and world to speak on culture, faith, history,
education, and leadership topics. He has authored over a dozen books on
leadership, natural motivation, creative communication, and classroom
management. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Meridian, Idaho.
Connect with the Author: website ~ youtube ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram

Enter the Giveaway:

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QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling, Jamie Lee Searle (Translator): George Orwell Goes Shopping

QualityLand

QualityLand

by Marc-Uwe Kling, Jamie Lee Searle (Translator)

eARC, 352 pg.
Orion Books, 2020

Read: February 13-15, 2020

Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


When you boil it down, QualityLand is simply the epic tale of a man trying to return something he didn’t order (and doesn’t want) to an online retailer. Peter Jobless’s tale involves a paranoid hacker, a blackmail scheme, an armed stand-off, a smitten sex-bot, a TV news panel show, a revolutionary tablet computer, swaying a presidential election, and a revival of interest in the films of Jennifer Aniston. We’ve all been there, right?

There’s no way I could describe the plot in a way to do it justice—so we’ll stick with the broad sweep. Before much gets underway story-wise, there’s a lot of set up required. When the dominoes start to fall in earnest, they go quickly. But so much of the book is devoted to setting them up, establishing/explaining the culture, government and everyday life of the QualityLand’s citizenry.

Here’s the best part about the set-up time: it’s totally worth it, and the way the dominoes are being placed is enjoyable/entertaining enough that even if the results were duds, I wouldn’t really have minded all that much. The icing on the cake is that the plot works well (we’ve all seen too many examples of elaborate worldbuilding that accompany a story that’s not worth it).

This is a world given over to algorithms, a world where the algorithms of various retail entities know so much about their customers that they no longer have to wait for a customer to order something to provide it—no, the algorithm will know what you’re going to want and will deliver it before you know you want it.

Not only are all your possessions provided for you in this manner, the algorithm decides what kind of career you will pursue, but it will also guide and govern your romantic life, your health care, and so on and so on.

It even gets into politics—so much so that during the course of this novel, there is an android running for president—because, we’re told repeatedly (mostly by the candidate), “machines don’t make mistakes.” An android chief of state (the theory goes) will better all of society because the android will know what’s needed.

At each step of the way, as each aspect of society is introduced and explained, as each character appears for the first time, it’s done in a way that will make you grin, chuckle, or laugh. The world is so zany, so…out there—and yet, completely recognizable as a natural progression of our world/society/culture.

Unlike so many satirical novels, the ending of this novel doesn’t get out of control. The plotlines come to natural conclusions and resolve in a satisfying way.

The characters—from the Everyman Peter Jobless, to the campaign manager (she can give Malcolm Tucker some lessons on the use of words as weapons), to the history teacher’s trouble-maker daughter (in-person to public officials or in online comments), to Peter’s collection of electronic companions—are wonderful. They’re a little better rounded than I’m used to in satires.

There’s a wonderful playful quality to the language, making the whole thing a barrelful of fun. I’m assuming that Searle captured the feel of the original in that, and did a great job. There’s an acronym that’s used a couple of times, that I think may be funny in the original, but doesn’t translate into anything (at least as far as I can see). That one thing aside, the ability to make a translated text feel so natural, so easy is no small feat.

QualityLand is a fun read t’s a thought-provoking read, it is (occasionally) a frightening read as you realize how close to this dystopia we are (and how fast we’re running to it). I strongly recommend this one.


4 Stars


My thanks to Tracy Fenton and Compulsive Readers for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) provided.


This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling

I’m excited to welcome the Book Tour for QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling this morning. I’ve got this little spotlight post and my take on the novel coming along in a bit. But let’s start by learning a little about this book, okay?

Book Details:

Book Title: QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling, Jamie Lee Searle (Translator)
Publisher: Orion
Release date: February 20, 2020
Format: Hardcover
Length: 352 pages
QualityLand

Book Blurb:

Everything in QualityLand is geared towards optimizing your life. QualityPartner identifies your ideal mate, earworm personal assistants get you where you need to go and android drones know you need a six pack of beer at the end of a long day even before you crave one. Humans, robots and algorithms co-exist, everything is seamlessly corporatised, stratified and monetized. Your very name reveals much of what we need to know about you and your profile discloses the rest.

Peter Jobless is a down and out metal press operator, dumped by his long term girlfriend when she is alerted to a better option on her QualityPad. But Peter has another problem – he seems to be the only one noticing that his fellow Qualityland robot citizens are experiencing an existential crisis. There is a drone who’s afraid to fly. A sex droid with erectile dysfunction. A combat robot with PTSD. Instructed to destroy these malfunctioning A.I., Peter starts to suspect the technology that rules us all has a flaw, perhaps a fatal one. Not only that, these robots might be his only friends…

 

About the Author:

Marc-Uwe KlingMarc-Uwe Kling is one of the most successful authors in Germany. His latest book QualityLand is an astounding satire of the future that sometimes feels closer to the present than you could wish for. QualityLand spent months on the German bestseller lists, has up to now been translated into twenty-four languages and the HBO is planning an adaptation with Mike Judge as show runner.


My thanks to Tracy Fenton and Compulsive Readers for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) provided.