Thursday, July 20, 2017

London in the Dark - Book Review


I wasn't expecting too much from this new and young author--and, while there is room for improvement, I greatly enjoyed the story!

Cyril Hartwell, P.I., has new and unwanted responsibilities in the form of his younger sister, Olivia. She is puzzled and hurt by the change in his character. When they were children they played and laughed together, but now he is an iceberg, shutting her out.

The characters seem alive and varied: sensitive, aggravating, funny, sweet . . . and with often complex emotions and motives. There were times I questioned the reality of their behavior, but overall I was impressed. Cyril, in particular, stood out with a cold shell hiding a tender heart. When some of his demeanor began to thaw, I was moved to tears.

Toward the end of the book things picked up speed and suspense--I was practically biting my nails as our heroine, Olivia, was drawn deeper and deeper into trouble.

There is a gospel message included, and the Christian characters pray but are not perfect. Dr Dudley (a sort of Dr. Watson sidekick) comes the closest to that; he is almost too good to be true, sensitive to his friends' every need.

All in all a rollicking-good tale, and I am looking forward to the author's next book!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Short Story from Photo Prompt


Credit: This photo was from a writer friend's (Victoria Lynn's) pinterest board. If anyone knows the original photographer, please let me know--I will remove it if so desired.

Psalm 22 was written about by a friend, and it fit just right into this story. To God be all glory. Hope this is a blessing to you, readers!


P.S. I'm sorry about the font changing back and forth from type to type. It won't let me change it all, for some reason.

~~

Mornings had always been special to Delia.  She used to tiptoe down the stairs and out onto their dock, feet bare, nightgown trailing on the wood.  There were the mists that rose off the lake like friendly apparitions--not that she believed in ghosts.  The crickets chorused and the bluebirds sang, and the sun rose--bit by glorious bit--beyond the pine trees. She used to sway and smile with a song in her heart, if not warbling on her lips.


But today . . . today she only felt numb. Today she stood frozen, with hands weighed down in her pockets like rocks. Today she looked away from the sun, into the murky depths.


A ripple coursed below her--then two.  It wasn't raining--only her eyes were.  Let tears fall as they may, she remembered her mother's sweet voice saying. Only the voice sounded like a distant echo.  And the words she used to end with seemed hollower still: They can be cleansing, and God sees them all and puts them in His bottle.


Those words used to sound lovely. But where was God now? Watching and collecting specimen tears, like an indifferent bystander? Why didn't the warmth of the words come down into her heart?


The sun was higher now, warming her back. If only it could do the same for her heart. If only . . . 


If only Mom and Dad hadn't gone to the prayer meeting that night.  Or if only she had gone with them.


Delia squeezed her eyes shut till they hurt.



~~~~

"Come with us to church."  The words were said so piteously, Delia almost felt sorry for her next-door neighbor, Mrs. Rowley.


Delia shook her head.  "I can't. Not this week."


Mrs. Rowley squeezed Delia's shoulder. "Perhaps next week. I'm praying for you," she added in a whisper.


Delia felt a buzz in her throat and eyes and blinked.  She nodded, waving to Mrs. Rowley and willing her into the blue sedan.

Mr. Rowley tottered along behind her, waving to Delia as he got into the car.


Delia lifted a few fingers in a wave and looked down, back to the newspaper on her lap.


Her parents names were in the obituaries. That had been paid for by her married brother, and he had swung by to give her the paper.  As if a newspaper obituary would sooth her. She hadn't even gotten past the front page, with its jarring headlines about politics and a bombing.


This world was beginning to feel to her like an old, giant pressure cooker with the settings messed up, popping and ready to explode, flinging everything across the room.


That's basically what it was, wasn't it? God was going to destroy it and roll it up and start again. And she would see her parents again. Wouldn't she?


That old question of her salvation, again. But it seemed more pertinent now than ever. Things weren't adding up to her. She wasn't reacting the way she should. She was doubting the goodness of God, the reason for living, for going to church, for trusting a God who one minute seemed kind and loving, and the next . . . an abusive Father.


She blinked back tears. That wasn't right, it couldn't be. That's how it felt, but she knew there was more to it.  There in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had sweat drops of blood, had cried in anguish. He had gone to the cross even still, knowing what He would suffer, knowing He would be a sacrificial Lamb that took the place of the people like her who deserved that death. 


Why, now, did her parents have to go through suffering after that car accident, lingering in bed for days with their injuries, then dying?


Is 
that fair, God?


Shame burned her stomach. She shouldn't ask that question. Her mind grappled for words--Scripture words, God's holy Word.  There were many, but they were jumbled up in her mind.

She tossed the newspaper down and went inside to retrieve her Bible.


This Book, taught and believed by her parents, had sat under her bedside table for the last few weeks--or was it months? Not that she had stopped thinking about God or His Word, but there was no closeness anymore. She winced as she traced her finger through a layer of dust on the Bible cover.


Now where to start?  She opened it toward the middle, to her favorite book of Psalms.


After a bit of aimless flipping, her eyes fell on Psalm 22. 


'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'


Her heart clenched. God the Son had truly been forsaken at that moment on the cross by God the Father! She read on.


'Why are You so far from helping Me,

And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.'

Tears blurred her vision. This was her feeling, but One had gone beyond her own hurt before . . . and He did it for her?  So that she could be called a daughter?


Oh, God, forgive me! I am hurt, but am not forsaken. I have all but forsaken You in my thoughts and actions!


A few pages later, these words shot out at her:


'Do not hide Your face from me;

Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.'

David had felt the emptiness, too, and yet penned these words, and:


'Wait on the Lord;

Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!'

A verse memorized long ago came to mind: 'And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.'

She would wait. She would seek. And the Lord, in His uniquely loving way, would take care of her.

Pray About Everything by Paul Tautges

Pray about Everything: Cultivating God-DependencyPray about Everything: Cultivating God-Dependency by Paul Tautges
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short and convicting book points us to thankfulness and reasons for prayer--as well as reasons for suffering. There are reasons listed for hindered prayer. Details are given on some Scriptural word meanings, and sometimes a quote from classic theologians. But perhaps the most lastingly helpful are the appendices, where outlines for prayer meetings and Bible studies are given, including songs and Scriptures. If these are applied, they could effect the way a church runs, how fellowship grows, and how hearts are changed.

Here are a few quotes from the book that I like:

'Just as the expansion and contraction of our lungs in necessary for the continuance of our physical life, so regular fellowship with God in prayer is essential to our spiritual well-being. Without prayer our spiritual lives will shrivel up and return to an infantile state.'

'As long as the eyes of our faith are fixed upon our troubles we will not find joy. Until our minds consciously move the Lord from our peripheral vision into the narrow corridor of our focus, joy will elude us.'

'When we find ourselves praying for something that we want, perhaps more than anything we've ever wanted before, can we honestly pray, 'Lord, do what will bring you the most glory"?'

'If we regularly ponder the depth of our own sinfulness, like the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and consider the greater depth of God's forgiveness, we will grow in our love for him. It is when we forget God's benefits that our hearts become proud. If we are not careful, we who have been forgiven much can act like those who think they have been forgiven little and, consequently, become slow to forgive others who sin against us.'

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Secret Slipper Blog Tour & Giveaway!



I have the privilege of being a part of Amanda Tero's book tour.  Her stories are quite unique and lovely!

About the Book

Being a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn't even know is searching for her?

Buy on Amazon



About the Author

Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda
Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com


My Review


The Cinderella story as you've never before seen it!

Lord Kiralyn believes his daughter has died in a plague...but years later hears that she is likely still living. The search begins, and the impatient father forgets for a while that he should be seeking God's guidance. His faithful servant and friend, Jolin, lends gentle wisdom.

Will Ellia, on her own journey of hardship and bitterness, find rest for her soul?

This is a well-done story, with emotional twists, suspense, godly lessons, great characters, a refreshing lack of romance, and a satisfying ending. 4.5 stars.


Interview with Amanda

When did you begin to write stories and why?
I was definitely under ten when I began writing, just little scribblings that my sisters and I would put together for fun (or exchange in a secret sister mailbox). It is really hard to explain the “why.” It is just something that I’ve always enjoyed.

What was the inspiration for your current series?
Ah, “The Secret Slipper.” As funny as it may sound, it was just a question. I had finished “Befriending the Beast” (a spin-off of Beauty and the Beast) as a stand-alone when an author friend asked, “Hey, have you ever considered a father/daughter Cinderella story?” And that is exactly where the inspiration started. I prayed about it, and the Lord supplied the full story for book two of this series I hadn’t planned on.

Tell me a bit about your family. How do you schedule your time in order to finish your stories?
I am happily child #5 of an even dozen (ten of which are still home). We go around singing as opportunities arise (our sorely out-of-date blog: http://www.terofamilyministies.com), so that makes life quite busy. I’m also a music teacher (I currently have 30 piano/violin students), so writing is definitely more of a hobby. Some weeks I am able to write for several hours, other weeks, I can’t write at all. So scheduling time for writing is a hit-and-miss. As much as I’d love to be a full-time writer, it’s just not that stage of life for me right now. So I write when I can and by God’s grace, I’ve published three novellas in the past year.

Are your stories more plot driven or more people driven, or are they equally both?
Hmm…my stories are changing as I’m learning more about the writing craft. Initially, I would say that my stories are people-driven, though “The Secret Slipper” has a little more plot drive in it.

If you use outlines, how so?
I use a very loose outline—basically, I get a general idea of the storyline and go from there, changing it as I go. I’m more of a pantster than a planner.

How many books do you plan to write in the Tales of Faith Series?
Ah, THE question. Honestly, I have no clue. As I earlier mentioned, a few months ago, I hadn’t planned on anything more than a cute little stand-alone story, but God led me to continue with a book two. I have a book three mulling around in my mind, but I have absolutely no clue how many will follow. We’ll just see where the Lord leads!

Video chat with Amanda Tero, answering some of the same questions--and more!

Giveaway (Ends Soon)!

Click here to enter a giveaway for 1 paperback set of Befriending the Beast and The Secret Slipper.

Click here to enter an international giveaway of her two ebooks, Befriending the Beast and The Secret Slipper.


Also Touring with The Secret Slipper
May 25, 2017
Amanda @ With a Joyful Noise | Release Day, Giveaway
Leila @ Leila Tualla's Bookshelf | Spotlight
Faith @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections | Review, Giveaway
Leona @ Great Books for God's Girls | Review, Interview

May 26
Emily @ Zerina Blossom’s Books | Interview
Kendra @ Knitted By God's Plan (Spotlight) and O'Scarlett Reviews (Review) | Spotlight, Review
Alicia @ A Brighter Destiny | Review, Giveaway

May 27
Anika @ This Journey Called Life | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Katie @ His Princess Warrior | Review, Giveaway
Sarah @ The Destiny of One | Spotlight
Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen | Spotlight, Interview, Giveaway

May 29
Kate @ Once Upon an Ordinary | Review, Interview
Sarah @ Penumbra Reviews | Review
Dary @ Peculiar Miss Darcy | Character Interview
Julia @ My Joyful Journey with Jesus | Interview

May 30
Kenzi @ Honey Rock Hills | Review, Giveaway
Anita @ Christian Author: A.M. Heath  | Review
Judith @ JudithWNicholson  | Interview

May 31
Jesseca @ Whimsical Writings for His glory  | Spotlight, Review
Raechel @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae  | Spotlight, Review
Esther @ Purposeful Learning | Review, Interview, Giveaway

June 1
Kellyn @ Reveries Reviews  | Review
Victoria @ Victoria Minks Blog  | Spotlight, Review
Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook | Spotlight

June 2
Hanne @ RockandMinerals4Him | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Erica @ Roxbury Books Blog | Spotlight
Janell @ Views from the Window Friend  | Review
Crystal @ Crystal’s Adventures for Christ  | Spotlight, Review, Interview

June 3
Alexa @ Verbosity Reviews  | Spotlight
Faith @ Chosen Vessels  | Review


Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Missing Matisse - Book Review



I really enjoyed this book, and am tempted to give it 4 stars, but there are a few things that bring it below my normal 4-star rating, which I will touch on later.

There is a fresh and lively feel to the book, as it is written in the first-person (as you'd expect), but also in the present tense. There are tidbits about art and famous artists, making for interesting reading to myself, as an artist. There are stories about WWII that are written not in a heavy, deep way, but in a boyish sort of way, with adventure around each corner--though with some sadness and shock, as well. There are illustrations in each chapter, as well as a section of photographs in the middle, which add a whimsical flourish and familial intimacy.

The author, grandson of more well-known Henri Matisse, has quite a fascinating boyhood, with mysterious family ties and underground activity (and the occasional theft). He knows God exists, and prays to Him when in distress, but it isn't until near the end of the book that he actually develops a love for Jesus. He is baptized, interestingly enough, by Willie Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame. This is explained near the end of the book, too.

There are a couple of instances of the "h" swear word. The author marries (his fourth marriage) a woman without a ceremony at first, which I don't believe is a good example--plus she married him while she was a professed Christian and he was not. There is also a strange sort of dreaming and Spirit-led painting that makes me question a bit near the end of the book. Oh, and the talk of nude paintings/sculptures. These things are reality in his life, so I understand, but they need not be prominently or favorably included (and they aren't extremely so).

I received this book from the Tyndale Blog Network for my honest review.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Day!



Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone! One of our traditions is to read Psalm 100, which we did this morning:

"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations."


Despite difficulties, slow progress, and anxieties, God is there to still us with His peace and love, to give us hope, to give us His strong and reliable arm to lean on. We are not alone, and we can never be shaken or separated from the love which is through Jesus Christ! Blessed be His name!

PSALM 40:5: “Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Day Before Thanksgiving


It was the day before Thanksgiving,
And all through the house
Everyone was stirring,
Even the odd mouse.

;)



Well, we did get naps in today after lunch, but otherwise it was
pretty busy, yet with a cozy and cheerful atmosphere. I made a
chalkboard sign for the mantel that says "Give Thanks unto the
Lord," (based on one I saw online) and we scattered gourds,
leaves, etc. up there along with it.
Mom had decided to have a simple Thanksgiving meal a day early.
We’ll have a dessert later in the week. We had a delicious turkey
that Mom cooked with a lemon and onion stuffed inside. And
mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans as sides. Oh, and the
old family treat: canned pears with peanut-butter, mayonnaise,
and maraschino cherry on lettuce leaf (I insisted on using cottage
cheese instead of mayo, and no cherry for me). We each said
something we were thankful for, which included Mom, food,
and children.
We're getting ready to watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes
for a relaxing (?) end to the day.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Revolt: A Novel in Wycliffe's England - Book Review


Five of five stars!

With vivid and tumultuous words, you are thrown into 14th century action. The story spans part of the life of John Wycliffe, but starts out with another character, a scribe, Hugh West'all, who is reporting on-location about the battle between France and England. He sees one of the archers with a father, worry creasing the son's brow, and the two young men's paths cross various times. Willard, the young archer, is full of bitterness and anger toward those of higher birth, and seeks revenge against greedy friars.

Hugh, meanwhile, becomes a scholar at Oxford. He and his friend Alfred are not much alike, but in one case Hugh and the new scholar, John of Wycliffe, turn the tables on prankster Alfred. The results are most humorous.

You get a slice of life as it might have been back then, with places, smells, characters, and jobs portrayed clearly, yet not ad infinitum. . . . It was not such a great thing that I happened to be eating while I read about the sheep being slaughtered. 

Hugh begins to hear of new things from John Wycliffe, of grace through Christ alone being able to save. Willard, also, hears the preacher and is amazed to hear him speaking against the friars who sell indulgences. 

The dreadful Bubonic plague spreads, and Willard's mother and sister are caught in its grip.

There is a bit of romance toward the end, but it is carefully done.

This is a story that teens and adults, male and female, will most likely enjoy--from battle to archery competition, from a woman tenderly caring for others (including a cat) to Wycliffe teaching and living out his gracious words with little fear of consequences.

Buy from bondbooks.net or amazon.com.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Weeds of the Soul

Our apple trees have weeds growing around the base like--well--weeds. Some are wiry grass, some are willowy. Even with wood chips put down last year, the weeds come. We are weeding and adding a heaping amount of wood chips this year.  While I was weeding I thought of some analogies of weeds to sins. I've thought of some of these before, and probably a million others have, too, but I think it is neat that God made His world--even the fallen world--to have correlations and lessons for our lives. Here are some possible correlations.
  1. Weeding takes strength, perseverance, and a desire to clean things up.
  2. Some weeds are more stubborn than others.
  3. Sometimes we have to dig deep.
  4. Some weeds are quite pretty . . . but sap strength and fruitfulness from the tree.
  5. Sometimes we have to use a sharp implement to cut or dig around the roots.
  6. Sometimes just a gentle wiggling and tug will get out a weed, especially if the weeds are surrounded by wood chips (like the Scriptures surrounding an individual).
  7. Sometimes our hands get dirty or we get hurt while weeding, especially if we aren't wearing gloves (prayer or Word of God to protect).
  8. Getting down closer to the roots helps in pulling out weeds.
  9. Pulling out just one weed or two at a time instead of a huge clump can be helpful, making others nearby come up more easily--the roots may be connected in ways we didn't realize!
  10. Weed control--constant upkeep--makes things easeasier.refreshing drink of water or encouraging word is always good.
  11. Sometimes we skip certain weeds because they are too hard or seemingly insignificant . . . but watch out--they will grow!
  12. The final results are beautiful and orderly, more pleasing to all around!
P.S. I don't always philosophize while doing yard work--usually I'm fuller of grumbling thoughts about the heat, bugs, or aching back. . . . There's one "weed" that needs to go!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Marry Wisely, Marry Well - Book Review


Coming from an ultra-conservative background, I had heard much of this before. I agreed with most of it, but didn't find a whole lot new.  But it was good, and helpful in that it made me take a deeper look at my heart and what I can do to help prepare for marriage now.

As someone pointed out on amazon.com, the statistics mentioned in the book may scare away someone from marrying unless they have a really good job, but as they were just facts stated from polls, and not harped on, I don't think this a big issue.

Each chapter ends with a set of questions to ponder/write out the answers to.

Overall it is a nice, concise book on marriage, wisdom, and loving God with all your heart.

Thanks to crossfocusedreviews.com for my free copy to review! My opinions stated here are in no way coerced.