Saturday, February 17, 2018

With Love, Wherever You Are - Book Review

What would you do if you just met a man and he persisted in asking you to marry him? What would you do if your parents thought you were crazy to think of accepting--and you had to agree? What would you do if you had to separate shortly after marrying, with a war separating you?

Written with all the verve of a novel, this story is more poignant because it is based on true people (the author's parents) and includes actual letters from the author's parents. Their service was amazing among the horrors, fear, and the longing for their spouses or sweethearts. Though the book is long--460 pages--they go by quickly as the dialogue and characters pop with the tenor of the 1940s.

I find it interesting to see so many words blocked out by sensors in the letters. And the code used by the main characters is too fun!

The main characters fall in love almost from the beginning, at least on the man's side. This may seem unrealistic, but it apparently happened. I knocked off a star for a bit of shallowness in the romance, but overall it's a fascinating look at wartime romance, nursing, and more! You may also feel a touch of conviction over the kind treatment of "enemies"--both of the German variety and of the coworker variety. The characters are Christian and pray occasionally, but it is not a preachy book.

The end of the book tells the story behind the story, and how the author came up with it all.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my fair review--thank you!

Friday, February 16, 2018

They Say We Are Infidels - Book Review

It took me a while to get through this book, partly because I lost it, and partly because it is not as riveting as I was hoping for. With a subtitle like "On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East," how can one not find it interesting?  I did find parts of it interesting, but the author herself was not really on the run. The stories of many of the people were so quick and news-like that I could not enter into their lives. Statistics and numbers are good sometimes, but I prefer a deeper look into people's lives, like a biography or autobiography, and with more quotations. We get that with a few of the people, and I did feel the horror and sadness oft-times for their troubles . . . but it was simply not enough to keep me reading non-stop. Maybe it's just me and my over-stimulated mind.

However, I do believe it is a worth-while book to read--sad, informative, inspiring. We should be praying for our brothers and sisters in other countries, who are often being persecuted, run out of their homes, and more, simply for being Christians, or non-Muslim. Even some Muslims are persecuted for not adhering to ISIS principles.

There is a mixture of Catholic, Othodox, Baptist, etc., and while they can be mentioned and provide useful examples, I would not be so careless as to put them all under a Christian banner, as the author does on occasion. They may in some way all believe in Christ, but Catholics usually mix faith and works for a different gospel.

I did not know of what to make of the politics, but I believe the author mostly lays the facts out without giving too many of her own opinions, and that can be a good thing.

I was given this book in exchange for a fair review. Thank you, Tyndale House!

Friday, February 9, 2018

White Wolf and the Ash Princess - Book Review

{My apologies for posting a day late!}

Where to start?

Izzy, the main character, leaps off the page with her quirks, insecurities, and inner voice. I can relate to her insecurities, her feeling weak and helpless. She grows considerably over the course of the book, however--maybe a bit unbelievable at times, but inspiring.

Miss Margaret is straight-laced but kind, and hides a different side. She is a mother-figure to Izzy, who does not remember her birth mother.

Jonathan is a sweetheart; though a bit over-protective and secretive, he loves and gives time after time. He has a temper, as does Izzy, and that's where it threw me a bit. *slight spoiler ahead*  I don't quite understand Izzy's sudden anger and distrust of him--it seems incongruous with the deep friendship they have, even though she learns seemingly negative things about him.

Tubs is also a fun and sweet character: chatty, sunny, and adventurous. . . . He pulls her into the mystery surrounding Jonathan, but he has no evil motives. 

I love the old castle and all that it contains! I wish this section went on longer. The inventions of Jonathan are fascinating.

The story shifts gears midway and American Indians are introduced, as well as people from Jonathan's past. Izzy journeys because it is required of her and to find belonging. There are wild animals, cold waters, snow, legends . . . and the power of forgiveness and God's Word bundled into the story.  

The writing itself is first-person present tense and a sometimes wordy and confusing, but also often lyrical and delightful, such as comparing a man's sideburns to two bushy squirrel tails.  The first setting in England seems slightly out of its time period, and occasionally the present tense awkwardly shifts to past tense, but for a first novel, it's well-done, and truly a moving story of complexity and character.

Link to Author Central:
Link to White Wolf on Amazon:

Author Bio

Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy's
home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family
enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, "hunting"
for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and
the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has
been in children's ministry for over twenty years.

Book Description for White Wolf and the Ash Princess

Eighteen year old Izzy's limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes
her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a
thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library
shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore..."Who am I?"
Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when
she was injured in a fire. Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued
her and took Izzy in as their own, but who did she belong to before they took
her in?

Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the
Gudwyne's young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property's rock
wall to a world that promises possible answers, but also great danger. A scorched
castle in the woods and a mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a
path to the New World, where she will not only have to face her own terror
but face the people responsible for her scars.

It is here, in the untamed wilds of the seventeenth century that she finds love
and a home in the most unexpected of places.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Church Fellowship

I was given two topics as ideas to write about in a Reformed writers' group, so I thought I'd try to tackle this one:

"Write about social interactions within the Church laity. What does ideal fellowship look like?"

First I had to look up laity, because I'm stupid nerdy like that. Here it is:
1. the body of religious worshipers, as distinguished from the clergy.

This is a big topic. I'm no authority, no theologian in a trained sense, but it seems like one that I can at least touch on. (The other question given me is about Cultural Christianity v. Biblical Christianity, which is perhaps harder.)

Picture this: you are sitting in a pew, listening to the preacher, looking down and up, reading the Word, perhaps daydreaming from time to time. Your gaze flicks around the room, to the potted plant, to the girl's hair in front of you, to the dirt beneath your farm-girl fingernails. (Note to self: use a fingernail brush next time.) Yes, the message is good. Yes, the preacher is helpful.
But if there is no action on the part of the people to fellowship with one another, to step alongside and encourage, is there much impact?

Our family has had so many times of fellowship with the body. When we were moving in to our new home, boxes topsy-turvy around us, we had church friends help with the moving, bring us soup and rolls, and welcome us with open arms. We were even invited to someone's house for Thanksgiving, though we had only recently met them! They encouraged us in the Lord. Long will I remember that time with its singing, prayer, thanks giving, and the warm voice of their daughter saying, "I'm glad you're here."

We've had people help us after a tornado flattened our workshop. They moved boxes and cut trees vigorously, as well as supplied food, water, and tarps.

And not just warm and fuzzy things are to be modeled. There have been times we needed challenging. Times we've been touched by the strength of a person in pain even as we sought to strengthen them. Times we've seen hard work modeled and been ashamed at our own laxity. Times we've seen beauty, times we've seen laughter. Times we've been hugged, given a gift, given a Bible verse.

This is what the hands and feet of Christ on earth should look like.

And here are some Bible verses to consider (and I'm sure there are many more):
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." - Acts 2:1

"So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed." - Acts 16:40

"For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. - Colossians 2:1-3

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?

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

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:, 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