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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore

This historical novel is based on a true story, so while reading it I wondered how much was fabricated and how much was true. It begins in France during the reign of Napoleon the III. Young Emmeline Lambert, along with her husband, Henri, a world famous magician is invited to court in order that Henri might be persuaded to use his skills of illusion to help France turn the tides on their imperial reign in Africa.  They must subdue the Bedouins who revere a holy man who they believe has great supernatural powers and will lead them to victory.

If Henri can perform flawlessly and convince them that he has greater power bestowed from God, it will aid France’s conquest and prevent bloodshed. The marriage between Emmeline and Henri is a sterile one in that Henri is too engrossed in his work to pay her any attention and because Emmeline has lost several infants and husband and wife are no longer intimate to prevent any future still births.

She is innocent and sheltered so when they travel to Africa it opens up a whole new world and she is captivated by the country and its many cultures and people. She is also enamored Colonel Deniau who is overseeing the project and bent on doing whatever is necessary to make it a success.  But as Emmeline comes to respect and love the country and its people she begins to have moral misgivings about the manipulation of the people.

In a way, this is a coming of age story and also deals with the issues of political supremacy of one country or group trying to subdue another.

I always enjoy learning about history as well as a good story which raises moral awareness. This book does both.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review – The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer

Carrie Bell who has grown up and lived all her life in Wisconsin may have settled too soon. She agreed to an engagement with Mike who she has known and dated since high school but is having misgivings. She was already feeling restless and unsure and had decided to end the relationship when Mike breaks his neck after diving off a pier.

Now, to break it off would be heartless but she also doesn’t have the heart to face life with Mike who is now a paraplegic. She quietly unravels and this is her painful journey of trying to do the right thing. However, should it be the right thing for her or the right thing for those she cares about?

She is fickle-hearted, caring about the guy she is with at the time and when she runs away announced from family and friends to New York city, she plunges into another relationship with a man who is full of secrets. When the past infringes on the present, she must make a decision. Where does she belong? Who does she really love.?

Ann Packer paints Carrie as a young and sensitive girl who is wrestling as best she can with the unbearable circumstances of Mike’s quadriplegia. What would we do in such a situation? At times I became frustrated with her because of some of the poor choices she makes and for her insensitivity at times, but doesn’t that mean that Packer has done such a superb job that makes Carrie very real. I Don't want to give away the ending but will say I was disappointed.

Be aware that there are some sexually graphic scenes.This is a well-written book focusing on a very real topic that makes us  ask, "what would I do in this case?" However, without giving away the ending, I want to say that Packer could have taken it in a much better and more satisfying direction. Then ending was a disappointment and for that reason I'm giving it a three out of five star rating. Despite that, it’s a story that will stay with you long after you finish the book.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

What Quirky Creative Habits Do You Have?

I just found a fun article on 99U entitled "Why Creative People Need to be Eccentric" and it lists some quirky habits of famous artists and writers.  I must say I feel validated as I often feel like a square peg. Nice to know I'm not alone. Here's the link.

And no, I don't work in my birthday suit.

I'd love to hear back from some of you. Do you have any odd habits that help keep your creative juices flowing? It can be anything from art, writing, music or anything else.

My job requires that I sit in front of the computer all day long and I have found that the longer I sit there, the more it drains my creativity.  So, it's really important for me to "fast" if at all possible, from the computer and electronic devices on the weekends and so something with my hands.

I also have to work in physical piles and folders because my ideas and organization comes in snatches. If my desk gets too cluttered, it makes me hyperventilate and I can't do my work at all. So I put the ideas into topical folders.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: The Tulip Tree by Howard Rigsby

I have a set of bookshelves dedicated to books I have read that I want to keep. These are usually hardback (if I can get them in hardback) and are books that stand out because of great writing and an exceptional story. The majority are fiction.

The Tulip Tree, written in 1963, is one I have just added to this collection. The story centers around a young couple, Josephine and Kimball Watts who have looked for the ideal house (with character) for their small family. They long for an oasis from the city where Kimball works for a publishing company. Though it is set in 1960’s the story seems timeless and if you were to ask me who the main character of the story is, I would have to say, it’s the house.

After months of searching, they finally find a house in the Hudson valley that meets Josephine’s criteria but she balks when they find a dead bird in one of the rooms.  Josephine, who’s superstitious, sees it as a bad omen. But Kindall, weary of looking, and brushing her reservations aside, persuades her that a dead bird holds no significance. Unknown to them, the house, originally built as two separate houses by two brothers in the 1700’s and later joined in the center, has a mysterious and violent history. Before the houses were ever built there was a tragic massacre of children by Indians on the surrounding land. Unhappiness continues to plague the house’s inhabitants as heirs have risen against heirs and blood has been shed. Great wrongs have been done and the gravest and darkest is horrible mistreatment and torture of a black slave who became a sacrificial lamb of sorts.

The Watts come to know many of the different local characters, who are as strange and mystical as the house with lineages dating back to the earliest years. At the center of the story lies the question, can there ever be healing for such severe injustices and deplorable wrong doings or will it continue to perpetuate itself? In the midst of this turmoil the Watts’ find the house to have a malevolent spirit. Mystical, suspenseful, and with characters as strange and creepy as those you might meet at a carnival side show, this book kept me turning pages to see how it would it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Treasure Seeker Book Launch. Buy Jan 8 & Get Free Gifts. Pearl Necklace Prizes & More!

Teena Stewart is an author and artist whose work reflects the spiritual message of being broken and yet valuable in God’s eyes—a message incorporated in her book The Treasure Seeker: Finding Value and Love in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father (Wine Press). When she isn’t creating up-cycled treasure (artwork and jewelry) from discarded and found objects, she is writing articles and books or leading ministry for Java Journey, an innovative coffee shop ministry in Hickory, NC.

Teena understands firsthand what it means to go from something of seemingly little value to a beautiful and valuable treasure in God’s eyes.

Q:  What motivated you to write this book?
A:  I have always been fascinated with stories of lost treasure. I am also an artist and for years have worked with recycled and discarded objects. The idea for the book developed over time as I read various treasure stories, including the ones in the Bible dealing with lost treasure, and as an artist began working with broken and discarded items making them into something valuable and beautiful. It is very much what God does with us…seeking out the lost, broken and discarded and making it into something truly valuable. 

Q:  Tell us a little more about your book
A:  I weave treasure stories I have collected throughout the book. The first part of the book covers the concept of mutual searching and finding between us searching for the greatest treasure--a deep relationship with our Heavenly Father--and His quest to enter into a close relationship with us. The next part of the book looks at God as the Master Jeweler who takes us, his rough gemstones and polishes us and refines us.
Q:  You have a section in your book dedicated to gemstones
A:  Yes. As I considered how we are each unique with our own unique skills and personality traits, I began to see how we are like certain gemstones and every gemstone has its own flaws and inclusions. One section of the book talks about certain gemstones, gives a bit of their history. Readers can have fun identifying the ones they are most like based on their personality, etc.  I also created a Treasure Seeker jewelry line and have designed necklaces and earrings based on these particular gemstones. Those who purchase my book can also order these handmade—for a 10% discount when they purchase my book.

Q:  What do you hope women will learn from this book?
A:  Most of all how important it is to stay in a deep relationship with our Heavenly Father. When we yield to him He will refine and develop us into the gemstone we are meant to be. I also want them to learn they are valued and that they can help others find value and worth as well.

Q:  What is the exact book title and where can people purchase it?
A:  It is called The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father.  It comes in paperback or Kindle and is available on Amazon and through my website and most bookstores. Some of the book’s unique accompaniments include:          
  • Intriguing and exciting Treasure stories
  • Treasure and gemstone trivia
  • Points to ponder at the end of each chapter
  • A chapter devoted to helping you understand your personality strengths and quirks and discover which gemstone you are most like
  •  Inspirational quotes and stories
  • Spiritual gifts questionnaire
  • A strong Biblical foundation
  • A Treasure Seeker jewelry line designed by the author which ties into the book.  Purchase the book and provide proof of purchase an you will receive a 10% discount on this beautiful jewelry

On Tuesday, January 8th ONLY, Teena has a special limited time offer regarding the Treasure Seeker. Purchase the book on Amazon on Tuesday, January 8th and you’ll receive free ebooks and a chance to win a hand-made pearl necklace and other free books!  Here’s the link!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Review, The Fire Brand

 When wealthy feminist Lucy Hathaway attends a lecture by renown evangelist Dwight Moody sparks fly. First, she’s incensed by Moody’s stand on women’s submission to their husbands. Then, she’s irritated by the gentlemen, Randolph Higgins next to her who riles her with her with his comments.  Before anything more can ignite, the city itself goes up in smoke like a tender box. They are caught trying to escape the great Chicago fire of 1871.

Lucy saves a baby from certain death but the fire causes her family to lose their family fortune. Lucy, ever the independent woman, starts her own bookstore and raises the child as her own. But circumstances once again bring her into the path Randolph, who has lost both a child and a wife.

Lucy later learns that the child she saved was Randolph and this begins a series of events that threatens to undo Lucy’s world.  In the mean time the attraction between the two grows.

Susan Wiggs has created good tension between the two love interests and has shown us a softer side of Lucy who is a head-strong and determined woman without having her lose the essence of who she is. I enjoyed this romance and am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013