Monday, June 6, 2011

‘Divine Appointments’ by Charlene Ann Baumbich – Book Review

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Often, God will bring an unexpected and happy surprise to me. That was the case when ‘Divine Appointments’ by Charlene Ann Baumbich arrived in my mailbox.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

With the Big 5-0 fast approaching, Josie Brooks begins to question her structured, picture-perfect (mid)life.
Josie Brooks, at the age of forty-seven, thought she was leading an enviable single life. A successful consultant, she calls her own shots, goes where the money is, and never needs to compromise. But her precisely managed world begins to falter during a Chicago contract when an economic downturn, a bleeding-heart boss, and the loyalty and kindness between endangered employees ding her coat of armor.
Throw in hot flashes, a dose of loneliness, a peculiar longing for intimacy, an unquenchable thirst – not to mention a mysterious snowglobe with a serene landscape, complete with a flowing river and lush greenery that seems to beckon her in – and Josie’s buttoned-up life is on the verge of coming completely undone. Maybe her solitary existence isn’t as fulfilling as she has convinced herself to believe.
It will take a few new friends, a mystical encounter, and an unexpected journey to set Josie on her own path to “right-sizing” and making the life changes that really matter. Filled with laugh-out-loud moments and a gentle dash of inspiration, Divine Appointments is another heartwarming charmer from a master storyteller.

Here is the biography of this author:

Charlene Ann Baumbich is a popular author, speaker, and award-winning journalist who is passionate about rejuvenating lives through humor. Her writings include the best-selling Dearest Dorothy series and Stray Affections, the first Snowglobe Connections novel, and several inspirational nonfiction books. Charlene lives with her husband in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

And here is Charlene talking about the inspiration for her Snowglobe Connections series:

An important and valuable character in this book is Barb DeWitt, whose spiritual gift was encouragement. Here is her advice/Godly wisdom to a colleague who was considering a career opportunity:

“I’ll tell you what, since you’re a praying woman, let’s both pester God for a solid leading. Let’s ask that the right opportunity just opens up, or you get the courage, or your sister does. Let’s pray, trusting that if it’s supposed to be, it will. But you have to promise me that if you feel that nudge again to ask her, you will. Sometimes when we’re down, and out, I think God whispers in nudges, so pay attention. And sometimes I think that little negative, self-berating voice in our heads is that old devil messing with us, making us feel insecure.” (p. 157)

I couldn’t agree more!

I really love Charlene’s writing style – and I love the sentiments that her characters share with the reader. Here is an example from Lyle Waters – a really great piece of advice:

“The older I get,” Lyle said, draining his glass of water, which Shirley immediately refilled, “the more I think doing what you love, following your passions, is an elixir for a lot of things. Just look at these two. Still singing, still happy, still living their dreams to own their own restaurant. My friend who died? She was gung-ho full of passion.” (p. 258)

In less eloquent terms – money isn’t everything!

This book arrived in my mailbox, unsolicited, from a publicist (thanks, Jeane!). I had not requested the book and was not expecting it. However, once it landed at the top of my book pile, I found it to be one of the most delightful books I have read in a good long while! The main character, Josie Brooks, and I are around the same age, and, like her, my life has been undergoing some metamorphoses of late. She lived her life for her work; I, likewise, did the same before I married for the first time six years ago (our anniversary is this week, June 10). Also, like Josie, I was not the typical little girl who pictured her wedding in her imagination; I was (pleasantly!) surprised when God brought Fred into my life. It was heartwarming to me to see how God, through the encouragement of others, softened Josie’s heart to people and, ultimately, to herself. Again, like me, Josie learned the value of close girlfriends. There was a time, when I was so consumed by my career, when I thought cultivating female friends was a waste of time (I perish the thought now!). Now, I could not live with the wonderful Godly friendships with which I’ve been blessed! In fact, I am thinking of suggesting the first book in the Snowglobe Connections series, ‘Stray Affections,’ to my friend, Natalie, when our Book Club resumes in the fall/winter.

There were so many neat elements in this book. The most unique one in my opinion is how the snowglobe figures into the storyline, and how it inspires and guides Josie’s life. God gets our attention in the most creative ways sometimes!

Although Josie was not a Christian, she was surrounded by many people who were led by the Lord, including Barb, an employee at Diamond Mutual, Ginny, a new friend of her father, Victor, and Lyle Waters, also employed at Diamond Mutual. Although she never professed faith, she certainly seemed to be on her way to realizing that there is no such a thing as a coincidence!

This book warms your heart and tickles your funny bone! If you are looking for a fun summertime read – for all ages! – I encourage you to pick up ‘Divine Appointments’! You will be glad you did! And I hope Charlene has another Snowglobe Connections novel in her creatively fertile brain!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by WaterBrook Press and provided by Wynn-Wynn Media for review purposes.

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