Friday, August 28, 2015

Faithful Fridays: Psalm 103

"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting onthose who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

Psalm 103 ESV

These are the verses God showed me as I was feeling fearful and discouraged one night. They encouraged me, and soothed my soul!

So if you're afraid, go to the Word of God, and listen for His voice. Also, pray. Talk to Him. I find that in the midst of my anxiety, praying out loud is very powerful. Speak Jesus' name and watch as darkness is chased away!

Blessings to you, my dear readers. Rest in the Lord today! <3 

Book Review: Honor by Lyn Cote

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Title: Honor

Author: Lyn Cote

Series: Quaker Brides #1

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult

**4 stars**

Honor by Lyn Cote was an intriguing tale. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it. But it ended up quite thoroughly capturing my interest.

A young Quaker woman, almost destitute; betrayed, disinherited, and alone to try to keep herself and her black-skinned maid safe from a harsh world. A deaf man, struggling with insecurity and anger; unwilling to accept that his mother is dying. Unable to believe that a woman could love him. A terrible wrong ravaging a nation … leaving innocent people treated as animals, or worse.
   Is there hope for Honor, Samuel, Royale, and the others struggling through life where the wicked seem to prevail?

I found this book intriguing and easy to read. I was quickly caught up in the story, in the intricate lives of Honor, Samuel, maid Royale, and the little nephew, Eli. I enjoyed the historical part of it; the fight against slavery. Women starting abolitionist groups. Sympathizers spiriting away runaway slaves in the night. It was also interesting (and saddening) to read of how people who couldn’t hear were treated in that era.

A gripping story overall. Sweet romance. Adventure and suspense. Poignant themes. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the QUAKER BRIDES series, Blessing.

Book Review: The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

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Title: The Princess Spy

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Series: Hagenheim #5

Genre: Historical/Fairy Tale

Audience: Young Adult

**4 stars**

I was quite excited to finally get to read another book by Melanie Dickerson! Yay for medieval fairytale romances! *smiles* The Princess Spy was a lovely story, based on the fairytale, The Frog Prince, I believe; and I quite enjoyed it!

So this story is connected to all four of Melanie’s previous books, I’m pretty sure. Margaretha, our main character, is the daughter of Lady Rose (from The Healer’s Apprentice), and is sister to the heroes from The Fairest Beauty and The Captive Maiden. And I think Colin, our other main character, is somehow connected to the hero from The Merchant’s Daughter. So there you have it. If I’m right in my speculations, the stories are all entwined together!
     In The Princess Spy, Margaretha is contemplating whether or not to accept Lord Claybrook’s proposal of marriage. And trying to figure out if people are annoyed by her constant chatter. Colin is a young lord set on revenge, and not about to be deterred. Then new dangers arise, throwing both their lives into chaos. Margaretha and Colin are on a journey to save their family and friends. And perhaps to find faith, hope … and love?

Suspenseful. Adventurous. Romantic. And sweet. The Princess Spy was sooo sweet! ^_^ Some parts were a bit slow, but overall it was a very worthwhile read. I loved Colin and Margaretha together, and watching their relationship grow … their love blossom!
     On that note, there were a few heated scenes when it came to romance. But I did really appreciate the constraint and boundaries that were shown as this love story unfolded. Perhaps it was just the “properness” of the era and family, but Colin was quite a respectful guy, and always aware … We’re not betrothedI don’t see marriage in the future, so I shouldn’t … Even if he himself was in love with this girl. I saw it as him protecting her heart and his.

Anyway. Yes. It was a cute tale for sure. Some parts had me holding my breath, like: “Oh no! How’s this going to turn out okay?” And there was some violence, not too bad; but a bit jarring at points. There were unexpected twists and turns too, which made it exciting. And it ended in an altogether darling way, *happy sigh* I loved how the fathers were involved (in the ending part). I adore the young, innocent love theme. So tender. So uncertain, but sweet. Gentle and true.

Ah. Now I’m eagerly awaiting The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest!

Book Review: This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson

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Title: This Fine Life

Author: Eva Marie Everson

Series: Standalone

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult

**4 stars**

This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson was a unique story; not quite your average Christian romance. And I loved it for that! Real, bittersweet, tender, raw … it openly displays the struggles, joys, questions, and victories of a young woman trying to find her way in life.

What’s a high-society young lady to do when she falls for the handsome boy who’s considered below her? And will her feelings change when he feels he’s being called into ministry? Walk alongside Mariette as she starts on a life-altering adventure; and finds new things out about herself, her husband’s heart, and God along the way.

So yes. It was just different. And real. I really appreciated this story; it was like looking into the life of a young pastor’s wife, and seeing what it would be like. I imagine pastor’s wives would probably identify and enjoy This Fine Life! Personal and unique.

I connected with Mariette’s struggle. With her questions. She trying, but it’s hard. I was fascinated by the exploration of young love. Of a new pastor and his wife’s day-to-day life. Of a privileged girl trying to fit into a small town. Of a young (perhaps slightly foolish at times) couple sort of growing and learning together. Of Mariette’s journey to finding God.

Some parts of This Fine Life were a tad bit slow. But as it’s not at all a fluffy or “fake” story, I don’t really find that a fault. It’s just kind of real. I really love fantasy, fairytale, and action-packed, highly entertaining novels; but sometimes a story like this just really captures my attention and blesses my heart as well.

I have few complaints. Some romantic moments got a little too heated for my taste. Mostly, I felt it was okay, though a bit blunt at times perhaps. But again, it was real. I appreciated that. It was just some of the moments before the couple got married that were a bit much. ***SPOILER ALERT*** There’s an elopement, and the “love” starts out based a lot on the physical side. Both of those made me a bit uncomfortable. ***SPOILER ALERT ENDS*** But the love did grow and grow into something beautiful!

Overall, it was just a lovely, stirring book. Then end-ish part brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart deeply. It was such a story of real life. I really, really enjoyed it. Sweet, genuine, tender, and memorable.

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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Title: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games #3

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction

Audience: Young Adult

**2.5 stars**

***Spoilers in this Review***

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Whew … what a journey. O.O I still hardly know what to think. My poor heart, *tears* Though warned quite thoroughly, I was still left a bit stunned, sad, aching, and with a feeling of hopelessness at the end of this book. That being said, it still had its merits … maybe.

Two Games down, Katniss Everdeen is more broken than she’s ever been. This is largely due to the fact that Peeta Mellark has been ripped from her side and taken to the capital, where surely he’s being tortured. Everything is frightening, uncertain, and hopeless, and Katniss is not sure she can bear up under it.
     But President Coin of District 13 and former head game-maker, Plutarch Heavensby, want their mockingjay. Their symbol of rebellion. The district’s sign of hope.
     Through up and downs, trials, pain, and horrors, Katniss must decide if she can lead this rebellion against the Capital.

I was simultaneously excited and scared to read this story. The last book of THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy! I’d already searched out all the horrific spoilers, and watched the first movie for this book, Mockingjay: Part 1 (2014) … but it was still scary. Was I going to be disappointed? Yes I was. Was I sure about that though? Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope? Nope. There’s not a glimmer of hope. If you are looking for a satisfying, good, novel-like ending for THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy in Mockingjay, prepare to be crushed. Just … do not read this series for entertainment and enjoyment. It’s gripping, exciting, intriguing, emotional, complex, shocking, real … and not happy. Joyful, satisfying, hopeful endings are so important to me. Mockingjay’s ending had none of that. So yeah, just consider yourself warned. Actually, someone should have warned you before you read The Hunger Games (they should have warned me at least) …

Anyway, let’s see. This book gets a little bit more like The Hunger Games than Catching Fire … violence and gruesomeness are reintroduced a bit heavily. More toward the end part of the book probably. But just be cautious, there’s some brutal stuff. I found a lot of it quite unnecessary and sickening. (It was the same for me with The Hunger Games).

Katniss sort of goes off the deep end. Peeta Mellark has had his brain and emotions tampered with, programmed to hate Katniss basically … but Katniss is the one who ends up going a bit mad mentally. It’s just a sad, sad story. But it gripped me nonetheless. Katniss’s struggle. Who wouldn’t go a little crazy after going through two Games? After being forced to take up weapons against other citizens for yet other citizens’ entertainment? Seeing unimaginable horrors? Living in fear every moment that someone you loved was going to be hurt because of you? I very much appreciated the realness and emotion that Suzanne Collins wrote into this book. Katniss is broken. And I felt her pain. I understood her emotions and reactions (well, some of them I didn’t). After all she’d experienced, you could almost see why she did this crazy thing or that absurd thing. After all the horrible things done to her and her loved ones … her mind is going around and around and around. Uncertainty. Fear. Pain. Anger. Is this right or wrong? Who is right and who is wrong? Are they all wrong? Are we all wrong? What is life? What’s the point? Real or not real?
     So in a way, I “liked” (liked is not the right word, but we’ll just go with it) this book. It gripped me. I felt for Katniss. I saw why she acted like she did in some situations. It was real. Raw. Sorrowful. It was life in an evil world trying to figure out everything on your own. And you can’t. So you slowly go mad.
     If only this trilogy could have been told from a Christian viewpoint! God can heal broken things. God can give hope in dark, desperate, horrible situations. Oh, to tell all the Katnisses, Joannas, Gales, Finnicks, and Peetas of this powerful Healer!

The deaths, though I had been forewarned, were pretty heart-rending. Prim, I could perhaps see a reason why she died. How it contributed to the story. Finnick, absolutely none. Why did he have to die? There was no reason at all for his death. He’s just taken down by a bunch of capital weapons. Right after his wedding. No memorable last words. Just look back and see our wonderful, poor, dear Finnick fall. :’( Yeesh, that was hard.

I, like Peeta, almost blew up when the idea of a last Hunger Game was suggested. I COULD NOT believe that Katniss and Haymitch agreed to it. How could they possibly want to send more innocent children into something that shattered their own souls so deeply? That was perhaps the most difficult part of this book. (However, after reading the book, someone told me that Katniss agreed because she was conspiring against the new president ... not actually because she was planning to send children into an arena. Whew.) 

Poor, mentally disoriented Katniss. It hurt me to see how calloused she’s become … but I suppose that’s a result of her utter numbness. Like I said, sad story. I really don’t understand why so many teens are obsessed with this series. It’s brilliantly done, but it’s a terrible, depressing, heart-rending story. Is that what people like these days? I mean, even Peeta and Katniss’s “amazing, fabulous love story” … isn’t so much of a love story after all. I can see the true, sacrificial, deep love on Peeta’s part (though that was all messed up when the Capital made him forget his true memories of her); but Katniss didn’t really seem to love Peeta in the end. She just needed him. She married him because he was the only one left to take care of her, kind of thing. It was really depressing and heart-breaking for me! I really thought something deep and beautiful was blossoming in Catching Fire!

Gale, was also going a bit mad in a way. He’s so angry, and broken, and bitter—seen so many of his own die—that he’s forgotten the preciousness of human life, somehow. President Coin, it seems, it not so different from evil President Snow. Evil President Snow dies laughing. Haymitch still drinks himself into oblivion. Katniss’s mother basically leaves her. It seems the only truly characters who held onto a bit of the softness and goodness of life are Peeta and Annie - they choose love.

Anyway, forgive all my ranting. It was an interesting journey. It showed the true depravity that mankind can so easily slip into. It showed how everything can get so confusing, blurred, uncertain, and “everyone for himself” … when you don’t have a truly good and just leader to follow; solid rights and wrongs that you firmly believe in. We’re all utterly hopeless. And it’s so easy to slip into doing exactly what we hate our enemies for doing because we’re …angry, pained, haunted, bitter. Life can so easily break you. Maybe it’s because we don’t realize who the real enemy is. Not humans. Not stuff we can see. But the one who dwells in darkness and whispers confusion, lies, hopelessness, and revenge into our minds. Satan is the real enemy. And God is the real leader, savior, and healer. *Ahem* Again, sorry for going on so. Mockingjay made me think, as I’m sure you’ve picked up by now.

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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Title: Catching Fire

Author: Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games #2

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction

Audience: Young Adult

**4 stars**

I was actually really quite excited to read Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins. I’d already watched the first three movies, and read the first book. I didn’t particularly like The Hunger Games, book or movie, but loved Catching Fire (2013). So reading the book was great!

After coming out victor from the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen is trying to cope with the confusion and hurt her pretending in the Games caused … and also being haunted day and night by the horrors she’s witnessed and been a part of.
     It doesn’t take her long to realize that the Games haven’t really ended for her. The president of Panem is still watching her. Threatening her. Threatening the lives of her mother, Prim, Gale, and Peeta.
     What will Snow’s next move be? And will Katniss be able to hold up under it? Will she succumb or fight?

Reading Catching Fire was intriguing and exciting. It was basically the same as the movie, but with more of Katniss’s thoughts obviously. Some things were made clear, that I didn’t quite catch in the movie. Overall, it was great and just made me want to watch Catching Fire (2013) again … right away! *grins*

Some downs: I’m pretty sure I liked Joanna Mason better in the movies. Probably Katniss too. In the books they can be quite hard and calloused at times. I guess the movies just makes, overall, all the characters a tad more soft and whatnot. They’re still broken, scarred, hurting, angry, and sometimes clearly wrong … but just a little more relatable. I don’t know. I remember with The Hunger Games, Katniss was definitely made out to be more calloused and hateful than in the movie. In the movies she (and Joanna) is still hard and does wrong things at times, but she’s a bit more innocent than the books! Arg. Do you HG readers understand what I’m trying to say?
     Another thing, some scenes were narrated instead of lived out. In the movie, they’re lived out. In the book, just kind of like Katniss telling us about them. Definitely preferred the movie in that aspect.

All in all? I really liked it! Exciting. Complex. Emotional. Captivating. WAY better than The Hunger Games. I’m forgetting already, but it probably was still violent and gory. Just not as much as the first book. The books tend to be radical … violence, gruesomeness, (non-sexual) nudity, and the movies more gloss over those things. They’re not as violent, not near as gruesome, and people have on more clothes. Characters are a little more kind and soft.

So Catching Fire was fun to read after watching the movie, kind of figure things out more. Still like the movie more, because of the things I explained above. But it was a good read for me. If you don’t know what THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy is about, be warned that it’s a story of a terrible government with extreme cruelty and evil involved. These are not light reads. I would strongly caution younger readers. I don’t think I myself would have been able to read these any younger than 17/18 … but apparently I’m sensitive. *shrugs* I just appreciate the realness and emotion of these stories. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Some things ...

     So my blogging schedule has been horrible these days ... I feel like I've been sadly neglecting posting. Ah, well here I am -- at the library because the place I'm staying at for the time being doesn't have wi-fi. A slight bump in the road. I'll be fine. Just hopefully I can get to the library once a week! :)

     I've heard back from several of my beta readers of Silver Rose. Hopefully I'll hear back from the rest of them by sometime in September! I'm slightly overwhelmed, but excited to get working on this project again.

     A Dream Not Imagined is doing well, I feel, :) I'm very excited about the positive responses I'm getting. If you've read it and liked it, please do leave a review on Amazon ... I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

     So I moved ... of sorts. Spending a few months in a new state, new place, and seeing how things go. I have a lot on my mind! Searching for jobs, cars, phones ... Maybe you can understand more why I've been neglecting all things books and social media. (Besides the lack of wi-fi problem). But yes, it's been good overall. I've been blessed by so many people!! ^_^ God is faithful!

     I am managing to get some reading in. Right now, I'm reading Isaiah and Matthew, which have both been interesting. And Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra E. Ardnek; and I'll be doing a review here on my blog on the 3rd of next month!

     After that, I'm hoping to get to Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson, and An Accidental Life by Pamela Binnings Ewen. What do you guys think? Good choices?

     I recently won Siren's Fury by Mary Weber, which is pretty exciting! :) Waiting for my family to send it to me, since I left home before it arrived.
     Also found some great book deals while thrift shopping! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis to add to my collection, two books for my younger sisters (Adventures in Northwoods by Lois Walfrid Johnson), and almost the whole Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn! For about $.48 each! :D Good stuff.

     Now don't judge me, but my writing has been non-existent as well. Eek, I know! It's horrible. I'll try to do better! Maybe start a new short story, or work on my spontaneous dystopian story.

     Ah, what else? Summer is slipping away. I hope I can get to some campfires and summery stuff like that before it's gone! Some more garage sales and book sales too, hopefully! :D

     But settled ... I really just want to feel settled. But, it might be awhile before I get that feeling. Ha. I'll just read a lot and Lord willing get some good fellowship with dear friends ... and hopefully survive. ;)

     How's life going for you all? Anything new?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I Look Not Back

     There has been a lot of anxiety and stress and fear in my life lately. I've made some decisions, and have some more uncertain ones ahead of me. I wonder and worry. I feel unsettled. Some days I see purpose ahead of me ... other days I just hurt.
     So I wanted to share with you this beautiful song:

I Look Not Back

1. I look not back; God knows the fruitless efforts,
The wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets.
I leave them all with Him who blots the record,
And graciously forgives, and then forgets.

2. I look not forward; God sees all the future,
The road that, short or long, will lead me home,
And He will face with me its ev'ry trial,
And bear for me the burdens that may come.

3. I look not round me; then would fears assail me.
So wild the tumult of earth's restless seas,
So dark the world, so filled with woe and evil,
So vain the hope of comfort and of ease.

4. I look not inward; that would make me wretched;
For I have naught on which to stay my trust.
Nothing I see save failures and shortcomings,
And weak endeavors, crumbling into dust.

5. But I look up--into the face of Jesus,
For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled;
And there is joy, and love, and light for darkness,
And perfect peace, and ev'ry hope fulfilled.

The New Christian Hymnal #235

     Ah. Rest in the midst of turmoil. Just look up into the face of Jesus. Jesus is the answer. This song is such a reminder, and challenge, and encouragement to me. It's been on my heart lately, and I hope the words touch you as much as they did me! Blessings! <3

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Blog Tour: Where Shadows Lie by Tialla Rising

     Excited to be part of the blog tour for Where Shadows Lie by Tialla Rising today! I haven't read this book yet, but it's certainly piqued my interest, and I hope to read it when I have the chance! :)

About the Book

His dark past haunts him. His new life taunts him. 

After twenty years in the gangs and a hefty prison sentence, an early release gives Shawn the opportunity to turn his life around.

But that isn’t so easy when gangs are involved.

Only a year into his fresh start, the gang catches on and makes Shawn’s life miserable. After all, once a gang member, always a gang member. His very blood belongs to them.

Threats become promises. Whispers become actions. Words become bullets. He must fight – not only for his life, but to save his honor, prove his integrity, and protect the woman he loves.

An ember of hope glows in the darkness, strengthening his resolve. Will her support and his determination be enough to dispel the shadows of his past?

A story of discovery and faith, love and perseverance.

Genre: Christian New Adult Suspense
Release Date: June 14th 2015

Purchase: Amazon

Book Trailer

About the Author

Tialla Rising is a Christian young woman living with her family in the mountains of Arizona. She loves to write and will passionately spend hours long into the night developing her stories. Like most writers, Tialla fills her spare time with reading from her favorite fantasy and mystery genres. A good book, a stormy day, and an iced coffee comprise her favorite moments.

Interview with Tialla Rising

Me: Welcome to my blog, Tialla! We'll start off with: when did you first start writing?

Tialla: I started writing when I was 11. A friend and I emailed our own stories to each other and created secret fantasy worlds.  Those are such great memories!

Me: That does sound like a lovely memory! And sounds something like what I used to do with my friends! What is your favorite genre to write?

Tialla: I really like writing action-adventure. I've always loved action movies and books the best, so I suppose it's only natural that I drift toward this genre in my writing as well.

Me: What is your favorite genre to read? 

Tialla: Aside from action, I love fantasy, dystopian, and crime mystery the best. It's pretty much impossible for me to just pick one genre as my favorite when it comes to reading.

Me: Ooh, fantasy is definitely a favorite for me. And dystopian has more recently captured my interest as well! Do you have another writing project started?

Tialla: At the moment, no. I like to take a few months between finishing a big project and starting another—give myself a chance to breathe, that is. I published "Where Shadows Lie" in June after two solid years of work on it, so I'm enjoying this short break. Before long, however, I will begin my next project.

Me: Sounds perfect, :) Is there a character you're most like from Where Shadows Lie?

Tialla: I share many characteristics with Virginia. She and I are both short and I gave her my love of summer monsoons and rainy days. However, she is by far braver and emotionally stronger than me.

Me: That's neat! It's fun how parts of us come out in our characters, hey? :) Anyway, thanks for being here on my blog!

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Tour Schedule