Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Music Review and Giveaway: Glory Song by Matt Redman

Matt Redman, possibly most known for his popular Christian song, "10,000 Reasons" has a new album coming out soon!  It's called Glory Song, and it contains thirteen tracks with not only Matt Redman, but several guest artists.

  1. All Glory, featuring Kierra Sheard
  2. Gospel Song, featuring Guvna B
  3. Greatest Hallelujah
  4. Gracefully Broken, featuring Tasha Cobbs Leonard
  5. One Day (When We All Get to Heaven)
  6. Redemption Ground, featuring Madison Cunningham
  7. It is Finished
  8. Questions (You Are Faithful)
  9. Still I Will Sing
  10. Place of Praise, featuring Kim Walker-Smith
  11. Hope is Marching On
  12. Simple Pursuit/Glory Song
  13. Your Ways

When I received my review copy of the CD, I wasn't in a place where I could listen to it just yet. However, I opened the case and took out the liner notes, which featured the lyrics for all the songs. I love tunes with a good hook, but if I'm listening to a Christian album, I especially appreciate it if the lyrics are compelling and are theologically on point.

To be honest, I wasn't bowled over by the lyrics.  Yes, they were absolutely on track with my personal theology. Matt Redman is an accomplished author himself, writing books and devotionals related to his musical work. So I'm sure he's taken many hours to choose just the right words for his songs.  And as one of the executive producers is Louie Giglio, a preacher I admire, I'm sure everything was properly vetted theologically before it was committed to the album. That being said, I didn't see much within the liner notes that was inventive or groundbreaking. I still wanted to give the CD a chance though, given that I hadn't heard a single note yet.

Initially my suspicions were confirmed with the first four tracks.  They're lovely tunes, again, with lyrics that could be used in any evangelical church. I just didn't care for the music. The inclusion of guest artist Guvna B seemed out of place, given Matt's usual style.  Perhaps he was trying to mix things up a bit, and from an artistic standpoint, I do applaud his wanting to branch out. It just didn't flow right for me. I wasn't repelled by these tracks per se, but I found them to be much like everything else I hear on Christian radio today.

Track four, "One Day" was a nice change.  The music was lovely, and I particularly liked how it employed the now-common method of merging new lyrics with an old hymn. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed this track more, because I was already familiar with a portion of the song. Again, nothing revolutionary was done here, but I really liked this track and plan to play it again in the future.

Track nine, "Still I Will Sing" did have a nice sound, with a faster beat and an almost '80s flavor, but ultimately I found it to be another track that would be shortly forgotten.

Heartfelt, earnest, and well-meaning, Glory Song would for the most part make a fine addition to any church worship leader's Sunday morning set list.  The production values are good, and Matt Redman does exhibit his considerable music talent within these tracks.  However, I cannot say that the album as a whole will be a memorable one as the years go by.  I remain a Matt Redman fan, but I look forward to another collection, one where he might stretch his lyrical and musical wings just a little bit more.


Although this wasn't a glowing review, I would still like to give away a copy of Glory Song  to one of our U.S. continental readers.  Perhaps the Lord has a personal message for you within these tracks that will touch you in a special way.  To be eligible to win, comment below and include some way for me to contact you (email, social media handle, etc.) if you are chosen.  Comment ideas: What is your favorite Matt Redman song? Who is one of your favorite singer/songwriters, from any genre? What was the last album you listened to, from beginning to end?

Contest concludes at 12:01am on Saturday, October 7th. Open to continental U.S. mailing addresses only. I will contact the winner shortly thereafter for their delivery mailing address.  If I don't get a response from the winner within 72 hours, I will choose another name.  Giveaway prize administration will be facilitated by FlyBy Promotions. Thanks for entering!

Below I've included a music video of Matt singing "Gracefully Broken", so you can get the feel for the sound of the album.

Pre-Order Glory Song

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: Conceit and Concealment by Abigail Reynolds

~ Pride & Prejudice meets Alternate History ~

Six years after Napoleon’s invasion of England…

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a traitor. He even admits to collaborating with Napoleon’s troops. And Elizabeth Bennet despises all traitors.

But she can’t make sense of Darcy. He doesn’t act like a traitor. He risks his own safety to save young women from the French. And how can she despise a man who loves puppies? Something about him doesn’t add up – and she finds him far too attractive.

Then Darcy’s carefully constructed world crumbles, and he must entrust his closest-held secret to Elizabeth. To protect that secret, Elizabeth must disappear entirely, leaving her family and Darcy behind, to plunge herself into the dizzying world of fashionable London and the dangers of the Loyalist Resistance. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Darcy is determined to find Elizabeth. Now that she knows the truth about him, there’s nothing to keep them apart – nothing, that is, until the day Darcy is forced to choose between his country and the life of the woman he loves…

At the at the end of the 18th and at the start of the 19th centuries, it was a common fear among the English that Napoleon would invade their lands. The Frenchman made more than one attempt, and there were rumors that he even had plans for an aerial attack by military balloon!  Napoleon’s main obstacle was the English Channel.  This stretch of water enabled the English to defensively avoid invasion again and again. In Abigail Reynolds’ latest Austenesque novel Conceit and Concealment, she posits an alternate reality, wherein Napoleon has managed to lure much of the English navy away to the West Indies, thereby leaving the Channel open for an invasion. This reality is also set within the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, featuring many characters from that beloved novel.

I have read several of Abigail’s novels, with my favorite being Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, which I reviewed in 2010. Next to Obsession, I would have to say that Conceit and Concealment is my next favorite of hers! While the story veers wildly from the source material, Reynolds has her characters retain the same tones and values of their originals. Mr. Darcy is a responsible, wealthy man who is not prone to hyperbole and is quite discreet with important secrets. Elizabeth Bennet is a strong, loyal woman who will do what is necessary to stand by her beliefs and support her loved ones and friends. Within Abigail Reynolds’ alternative reality, Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves in a grand enterprise, one that will test the limits of their principles and physical well-being.

My Pick for Kit Darcy
Conceit and Concealment was a delight to read, an adventure with unexpected revelations on numerous occasions throughout the novel. One major plot twist near the outset of the story had me gasping aloud in surprise and amusement. Throughout the narrative, Reynolds held my attention with excellent storytelling, tantalizing (but not immoderate) romance, and a touch of espionage. I loved the addition of a younger brother for Mr. Darcy, the twenty year-old Christopher “Kit” Darcy.  I pictured the English actor Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) for the part of Kit.

In addition to reading the Kindle edition of Conceit and Concealment, I also enjoyed “reading” about half the novel via audiobook from Audible.com.  During times when I could not sit and read, I listened to the dulcet tones of Elizabeth Klett as she shared the story with me.  Ms. Klett’s performance was excellent, and I would liken her accent to that of a mature Emma Watson, also known as Hermoine Granger of the Harry Potter films. Her tone was appropriately posh and intelligent, without being distracting. I was able to work through household chores or run my errands in the car as I listened in.

Due to my graduate school studies these days, I don’t have as much time for book reviewing as I used to. So I have to be very selective in the titles that I do choose to enjoy when I’m not studying. Conceit and Concealment was an excellent diversion, and I can heartily recommend it to anyone, but I suggest it to Janeites in particular. As mentioned, the story is very unlike Pride and Prejudice, but the characters retain their original demeanor, and the tale that Reynolds weaves with them is quite enjoyable. Find a cozy spot to read, (even a hayloft will do) and enjoy what might have been…

About the Author

Abigail Reynolds may be a nationally bestselling author and a physician, but she can’t follow a straight line with a ruler. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.

A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Mr. Darcy’s Journey, the national bestsellers Alone with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, The Darcys of Derbyshire, and Mr. Darcy’s Refuge. She is currently working on a new Pemberley Variation and the next novel in her Cape Cod series. Her books have been translated into five languages. A lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, she lives on Cape Cod with her husband, her son and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.

Giveaway - Ebook and Audio!

Abigail Reynolds has graciously offered to give three of our readers Conceit and Concealment! Two international winners will receive the ebook edition of the novel, and one U.S. winner will receive the Audible.com version.  The first randomly-chosen U.S. name will be our audiobook winner. The remaining two randomly-chosen names will receive the ebook edition. The contest will conclude at 12am EST on Sunday, September 24, 2017. Please utilize the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. The only required entry is your contact information, so that we may get in touch with you should you win. All additional options are for extra entries, increasing your chance of winning.

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