Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review: The Forgotten Garden

The Fogotten Garden weaves a wonderful spell on readers!

"A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book -- a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to fi nd her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales." (Amazon)

Dawn's Recommendation: 4 of 5

What I liked:
*the intricate story that spanned over 100 years of a family 
*the unraveling of the family mystery by the grand-daughter, Cassandra
*the interest it piqued -- why was a four year old abandoned on a ship to Australia?
*the fairy tales 
*the story of Mountrachet family (good and evil)
*seeing how lives are affected generations down the road (I know its fiction, but its neat to see and think about) 

*it was a magical read (down to earth, but dreamy and romantic too)

It was a long book, but a good story and well-told. Very satisfying. I will look for more of Ms. Morton's books to read!

What I didn't like: the multiple time periods. It took me half the book to get used to the constant switching back and forth. Not really the author's fault (every chapter is clearly labeled) -- I guess it was just hard for me to get used to. If this is the author's usual style, then I'll be ready for it when I read her next book. LOL.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Frozen Pipes

Pipes froze in the back porch that we call the "Out Kitchen".
Silly name really -- Out Kitchen.
It is out the door of the kitchen, so I guess it makes sense, but I doubt anyone else in the world calls it that,
except for my mother. I stole the name from her tiny vestibule.

Back to the pipes.
It was no little break. Pipe split in four places and in two elbows for a total of 6 breaks!
Might as well break spectacularly, right?!

But here's the best part:
We were sleeping soundly when all of a sudden at midnight, my husband bolts upright.
"Something is wrong! I hear something."
Sure enough, we could hear water running.
Hubby ran downstairs to find water-logged carpet.

So, who woke him? How did he know?

A book I just read says God has a hand in all things and there is no such thing as coincidences.
I think this is one of those examples.
If he hadn't found the pipes till 6am, the mess would have been horrific, not to mention dangerous (with the electric heater out there).

Thank you God -- however you had a hand in alerting him. Amen.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Review: To Heaven and Back

Just finished "To Heaven and Back" by Mary C. Neal, MD. Really enjoyed it!

"A kayak accident during a South American adventure takes one woman to heaven — where she experienced God’s peace, joy, and angels — and back to life again."(Amazon)

Dawn's Recommendation: 4 of 5

What I liked: I loved Dr. Neal's no-nonsense writing style and story-telling. You can tell she is a doctor. She writes in detail and tells it like it is.  There's no emotion mumbo-jumbo. I appreciated her sharing her story of the kayak accident, her brief encounter with heaven, her recovery, and the story of her oldest son. 

The thing that stood out the most to me is the authors talk about coincidences -- that God has a hand in our everyday lives, weaving a tapestry, touching lives. On the last page, Dr. Neal encourages readers to keep a diary on coincidences in your life, writing down outcomes to see God at work.  Cool idea.

It was a quick read and kept my attention!

What I didn't like: The author talked a lot of about being wrapped in God's love and feeling God's presence. She mentioned Jesus once, but not as much as I would have liked.  Jesus is the way to heaven and to God, so I was hoping she would talk more about her faith.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cold, But Content

The house is cold.
The stove sputters to life. 
Tink tink tink - the pellets drop into the grate for fire to consume.
I head upstairs, still in my coat, and slide under the electric blanket, hands cold, toes numb. 
I'm tired after work, back hurting, but happy -- no joyful! 
My heart sings with the Spirit!
I am thankful for my family, my friends, my home, my job, my life.
The cold makes me thankful for the warmth.
I am cold, but content.

How about you?  How's winter treating you?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees

This book makes me want to wrap myself in warm honey. It's sweet food for the body, but maybe not the soul.

Overview: Set in South Carolina in 1964, it is the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come. (taken from Amazon)

Dawn's Recommendation: 4 of 5 Stars

What I liked: There were several things I loved about this book.
1. I read this in winter and the book made me warm. Set in sweltering S.C. heat, it helped me forget how cold I was.
2. The Beekeeping aspect was fascinating. I loved how Lily described the bees and their sounds in terms of rhythm and life. The hum of the bees brought me into the story and kept me there.
3. I thought the author did a good job painting the period of racism and brink of social change.
4. The story had tragic elements which made it very interesting.
5. The ending made me smile.

What I didn't like: The characters hold home church-like services and basically worship the Mother Mary/slave statue. At first I thought the book was going toward a Catholic-like faith, but it was instead Idolatry, as I can't remember any mention of faith in Jesus. The characters pray to the Mother Mary statue for power -- an idea that could lead some readers astray if their understanding and faith in Jesus is not solid.

And, I'm looking forward to watching the movie. Hmmm...I take that back. I started to watch the movie (got about 20 minutes into it) and it's, well...
1. It's boring. It tells the basic story, but you're not in Lily's head, so you're missing a lot and because of that, it feels like it's missing the soul of the book.
2. I didn't like some of the casting. Queen Latifah doesn't fit the book's character, tall, thin, gray-haired August Boatwright. Also, the actor that plays Rosaleen seemed way too young for the part, like she could be the same age as Lily.    

Friday, January 3, 2014

Book Review: An Army of Angels

I just finished reading An Army of Angels: A Novel of Joan of Arch by Pamela Marcantel.  Wow!  I finished in a whirlwind two weeks -- and that is no small feat considering the length and smallness of print!

Overview: The story is legend: the french peasant maid Joan of Arc successfully leads an army against the English and is burned at the stake before she turns twenty. Many have tried to re-create her life, but none have succeeded more brilliantly than Pamela Marcantel in this, her dazzling debut. (from Amazon)

Dawn's Recommendation: 5 of 5 Stars!

What I liked:  Oh, Everything!!!! I found this used copy at 2nd & Charles and got it because it looked interesting. Wowza! I couldn't put it down. I loved the author's writing, her interpretations of Jehanne the Maid's (aka Joan of Arc) Voices, the characters and description, the research that went into it... She took a true story and wove the fiction so expertly that you feel you know Jehanne intimately and you can't believe she is going to be burned at the stake. I wondered how an illiterate peasant could have persuaded the king to give her an army and this book shares a story that is absolutely believable!

The BEST part of the book is it's proclamation and steadfastness of faith in Jesus. Through the character, Jehanne, we see her faith and courage. We see her grow into the person God calls her to be.  I did not expect this to be a book that would strengthen my own faith, but it has! It encourages me to have courage and do what God has called me to do. No matter your station or situation in life, you can do great things through God.

What I didn't like: One thing at the end of the book that the author believes might have happened (can't tell you or it'd be a spoiler)-- it is fiction, therefore the author can write what she likes, but I choose not to believe that that particular part happened.