Saturday, August 30, 2014

Barefoot Tribe... a way to love Jesus and change the world.

The Barefoot Tribe: A Manifesto for a New Kind of Church

Barefoot Tribe is like a very encouraging kick in the pants. It's timely, it's bold, and it will broaden your focus as you serve Christ. 
This book is fruitful reading for any Christian, but those under thirty may resonate with it the most. (However, maybe not... two of my neighbors are marching for social justice next month, and they're in their sixties.) 

I dislike sweeping generalizations, but there a few obvious truths about modern youth~ 

1. The world really is our classroom/playground/neighborhood today. We get the news about slavery and war and famine and plague from all over the globe, and we're empathetic to international pain and ready to act if only somebody will point the way.*
And you don't need to be Billy Graham or a billionaire to lead us... you just need a heart in line with God, hands ready to help, and a way to spread the word. 

2. We live in a consuming nation, but individually we're increasingly aware of our consumption habits, and we want to change them for the better.
We realize that there's something wrong with our plenty when poverty still stalks and kills. 

3. We are accustom to diversity, and we know that common humanity and true Christianity demand that we stop dividing into ever-narrowing denominations. Some of us are ready to abandon the word "Church"for now, because the original meaning- so alive and vital- has been exchanged for a shallow one. That's where the word "Tribe" comes in handy. It's a word that gets attention, and shakes up Christian stereotypes. 

*Case in point: Ebola. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how an African hospital lost their staff to the disease because of a lack of basic medical gear, by which I mean plastic gloves. Dear God, what a tragedy! The same day the WSJ featured their WSJ Life magazine, in which luxury clothing, cars, watches, and vacation destinations paraded across the pages. While a nurse dies because she didn't have protective gear when she cared for a deathly ill patient, a six-figure necklace is being sold somewhere.

This book covers a lot of ground, and in each case the ultimate goal is oh-so-worthy.
The Barefoot Tribe vows to make art that beautifies the world, promote sustainability, love like Jesus, put down the weapons, tend the earth and the environment, be abolitionists right now, and end the pandemics that should not be claiming lives. 
Oh yes. This is good stuff here, folks. Lets read it, Talk about it. And then find ways to live it. 

I think Palmer Chinchen asks a great question near the end of the book, and I want to use it as a barometer for my own life.
If we had to close our doors (as a church) and move away, would people miss us? Would our city miss us because of all the ways we had served them, worked with them, and blessed them? Or would they not notice our absence, or would they be glad to see us go?

What a good question. 

Thank you Howard Books for my review copy of Barefoot Tribe. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Story Keeper, by Lisa Wingate


To use the modern parlance, this book blew me away. 
I requested it for review based on the Appalachian setting, and I didn't spend too much time pondering what to expect. 

What I got was wonderful. 
Our first-person narrator is Jennia Beth Gibbs, a girl who grew up poor in the hills of North Carolina. 
Fleeing from paternal abuse, generational poverty, and stifling religion, Jennia Beth headed to New York and transformed herself into Jen-the-editor.
Jen's voice is delightful. She's single, with a portly Chihuahua for companionship, and she tries hard to make her own life while still worrying about the sisters she left behind. 

One of Jen's dreams has just come true... she's working at Vida House Publishing, a place where manuscripts are still made of paper and stories change the world. "Slush Mountain" rules the boardroom at Vida House, and it is indeed a mountain of old submissions stacked ceiling high. 
Jen never expected to touch- much less read- any of the manuscripts, until the morning one is found resting on her desk. 

And that brings us to the second heroine, whose story is told bit by tiny bit. Sarra, a Melungeon girl of other-worldly beauty that is born from her mixed ancestry. The same heritage that makes her lovely to look upon also brands her as sub-human, a soulless blend of Indian, African, and White. 

Jen is so caught up in Sarra's tale that she risks her fragile position at Vida House to go back to the hills and seek out the unknown author. 
Her odyssey will take her to Looking Glass Gap, the home-that-was-never-home. 

If you've read Miss Willie, set in Kentucky, or Christy, set in Tennessee, you have some of idea of what Jennia Beth's girlhood was like.
Now transport that dirt-floor-poor image into the 21st century. Keep in mind both the good and the bad: smoky hills rolling one atop the other, wild and abundant beauty, large families with deep roots, mountain lore and wisdom and superstition, fear-based religion and punishing isolation. 

This rural close-knit community breeds certain vices, seemingly without ever counting the cost.
Young marriages between ill-equipped partners. 
Multiple children without care for the mother or employment for the father. 
Families that "stay together" but allow deep shame and abuse to go on. 

Lisa Wingate brings it all to life, sympathetically through Jennia Beth's eyes. 

There's a touch of mystery, a thread of adventure, a glimpse of light in the darkness and the first steps to redemption are taken in this tale.

The Story Keeper is, not to be too cliche, a keeper. 

Thank you Tyndale House for my review copy! 

Lisa WingateLisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, Good Hope Road, The Language of Sycamores, and Drenched in Light. Her work was recently honored by the Americans for More Civility for promoting greater kindness and civility in American life. Lisa and her family live in Central Texas.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thief of Glory... a WWII Story

Thief of Glory

This is one of those stories that you wish wasn't true, yet you know that it was, for so many people.

Jeremiah Prins, an old man now telling his boyhood story, is a true character. 
He was the kind of boy that we don't write about anymore, and he sounds just like the youngsters who lived in the 1940's. 
He's respectful to adults- but he certainly has his own mind. 
He's a scrapper who fights often, but always fights clean. 
He never expected to fall hard for a golden haired little girl, but he has a secretly romantic heart. 
He's got too much individuality, too much integrity, too much honesty, and too much intelligence to ever cheat or ever give in. 

Jeremiah's narrating voice is perfect. 
He guides us back first to a banyan tree and a marble game, and then to a girl, and an enemy invasion, and the loss of his father and all of life as he knew it. He takes us into a camp with his mother and sisters and brother. He shows us how women and children were stripped of their dignity by captors who had renounced their own humanity.
First he tells us about imperfect-but-kindly innocence, then he opens our eyes to cruelty. 
His descriptions of the Japennkamp are chilling, and the history level is high. 

This is one of the few Christian fiction books I can actually recommend to a man. Despite the beautiful girl's face on the cover, the "romance" was properly reserved. This is a story of survival, of trying to keep "soul and body together." Fighting for food and medicine and shelter and sanity and strength for one more day. Some people had more strength, others had far less. You'll want to cry as you read. 
I think my father would treasure this story. I did. 

Thank you Waterbrook for my review copy. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Smell....

 My Grammy wore a very strong perfume. It was the kind that's so strong that mosquitoes came from miles around to follow her, sensitive people got raging headaches, and the smell crawled up into every nostril it encountered an stayed there all day.

It was r-e-a-l-l-y bad, but it was her scent. Blend it with the smell of cat- faint but evident- and the smell of cigarettes from Grampy, and you have her signature scent. (The smell of cat is hard to explain, because their cat Chunky died years ago. There must have been an uncleaned catbox left somewhere in the house.....)
She loved that perfume, and we do too. Not for itself, but because we think HER when we smell It.

Now that she's not on earth to wear that stuff, every whiff of it left in her room or on her clothes is extra-precious. Once, in a grocery store, I smelled it on another woman. It nearly knocked me over.

(As an it of note Grampy himself is particular about smells. Last time we visited, we made the mistake of mentioning that I needed to replace my sneakers, because they stunk. He nodded sympathetically, and then he proceeded to introduce us to various better smells we could add to our home. He showed us several Glade air fresheners and an economy bottle of Febreeze oder-eliminator. Last came his personal favorite... a container of Snuggle, which he washes his clothes in, gels his hair with, and eats on his toast in the morning.

I wanted him to know how much I appreciated his help, so I leaned forward and sucked in a deep breath of Snuggle. I regretted it when I nearly sneezed my sinuses loose. Sweet mercy!

Maybe the stuff isn't as natural as we thought.
Some things smell amazing. If you forgot that a working nose is a gift, walk into the kitchen in October when the first apple crisp is browning in the oven. You'll find you have something new to praise God for.

A field of mint in the setting sun on a dirt road. The coffee aisle in the grocery store, even to a non-coffee drinker. Tomato leaves when you brush against them in a garden. Salt marsh air.
Woodsmoke. Clementines, that leave their scent on your fingers for hours after you eat them.
Hamburgers and steak cooking. Lilacs.
(I wish they made a perfume that was a combo of the last two... fresh cut lilacs in an old Coke bottle and hamburgers cooking. Trust me, it works.)

So I was at the barn today, with my neighbor's goats. She went away for the weekend and let me come and help. And when you enter a barn, you think of smells. Some people love it. Others find it terrible. She apologized for The Smell before we went in. We told her not to apologize, please.
I think the smell of a barn is objectively good, whether it tickles your fancy or not.

I think it's good because it's the smell of life. The fifteen year old goat, all arthritic and fuzzy, made docile only by age. The rambunctious four month old boy goats, knocking against their stall wall. There's sweet feed, all sticky and oatey and mollasses-ey, and hay, which is the grass and flowers of lost sunshine and rain. There is milk, pulled out of three nicely rounded milking Mothers by an ancient milking machine.  (Isn't it funny that a land of milk and honey requires rather contrary goats and rather fragile bees, each working all day to make our world sweet and creamy out of their own bodies?)

After the milking room emptied out, a little orphan in a pink collar named Ida hopped up on the milking stand, to finish off the grain. She's practicing for when she's a milker. I sat down beside her, petting her shiny clean sides. She turned toward me, and I fed her from my hand. She has soft lips and warm breath, as she picked each piece out of my fingers. I loved the smell of her. She was small and alive.

And so I have two thoughts. One is that we should be glad we can smell. Two is that we shouldn't be too quick to cover up the smells of barns. Wet dog and July sweat and old-fashioned skunk are part of our experience. Don't worry about coating everything with Snuggle and drinking oder-eliminator. You're alive. I can tell by the smell. Let's smile. :-)  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wounded-God's Love Heals by Anne Graham Lotz

Wounded by God's People: Discovering How God's Love Heals Our Hearts

Two weeks ago, as part of the Booklook Blogger program, I requested Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs. 
Yesterday, I opened the box and discovered Wounded by Anne Graham Lotz. 
A mix-up? Is there really any such thing? 

So I will be reviewing this book instead.

I love Anne's Just Give Me Jesus! She writes with grace and power, speaking about a genuine Savior who lives, loves, and acts on behalf of His people.
She writes with tenderness, and she acknowledges both frailty and sin... the pain of being human and therefore breakable and fallen. 
She digs deep into the riches of God's word, and in this book she adds quotes from The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of prayers. 

I like the way she weaves her stories, and other people's stories, into her books. She writes out of our common "real life" experiences, and she's always really telling a God-story, because that's the only place God ever shows up: Reality. 

Yep. The only place you will ever feel the love of God is in your mess, not your perfection, because you'll never be perfect.
And He is good with that. 

But this book has a specific purpose: to minister to those who have been shattered, betrayed, and cut down by fellow Christians. 

Whether you were physically, emotionally, spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically trampled upon, Christians can really hurt you. 
And because the abuse comes from one who claims to serve the King of grace, peace, and self-giving, it makes the wounds bleed harder and run deeper. Men and woman mistrust the faith everyday based on the acts of Christians. 

Wounded may help shed some of God's light, love and life on the broken-hearted. Anne chose the story of Hagar, a woman used and disadvantaged if there ever was one.  She walks us beside Hagar, showing us how Abraham wounded his wife and his servant/mistress, and both his sons, and then talking about recovery and reconciliation. 

The best part of this book? The continual reminder that God will not lose us. Doesn't plan to leave us. Won't stop loving us. Will always care for us.
Never forgets his Child. And He promised not to forsake us or leave us as orphans. 

Thank you Booklook for my review copy of Wounded. I'll be looking for Anne's The Magnificent Obsession next.

A Christian Survival Guide... by Ed Cyzewski

A Christian Survival Guide

If you have ever asked yourself "What the hell do I do with the Book of Revelation?" then part of this book is for you.
(Some of it is absolutely beautiful. I love Revelation. But the chaos and the One World Order political overtones are enough to leave me terrified.) 

If you think you're a failure at evangelism because you can't get up the courage to "mug" people on the street with the Good News, then part of this book is for you. (And don't worry... there *is* a more whole life/shalom type of evangelism.)

If you want to experience Church as more than just that-white-building-with-a-steeple, but you don't know how to find a good one, then part of this book is for you. (It only took me twenty years to realize that "Church" should be used to describe a pack of Christians, not a stationary structure.) 

I did not read all of this book. Let me say that upfront. At this point, I didn't want to read the chapter on evil, hell, or violence in the OT, and I don't struggle with Genesis. 
(Main point of Genesis 1-3 being that God created a glistening, brand-new, wild, wondrous world with his Words, and we should stand amazed.) 

What I did read, though, were some thought-provoking and ultimately reassuring chapters on Prayer, Doubt, Community, Money, Apocalypse, and the Holy Spirit. 

It is possible to drive ourselves mad trying to master Christianity- as if it were an engine and we needed to take it apart and put it back together. 
Personal relationships fall apart and blog firestorms erupt because we are sure that we are putting those parts together The Right Way. 

We can hurt ourselves and other people deeply when we think it's our task to get our faith- and their faith- rolling and then keep it on the straight and narrow. A rather mysterious relationship with God Himself- a search for truth beauty and goodness- becomes a fight to keep it all together. 

I think, along with this book, readers should try Mike Erre's Astonished. That is another volume that deals with truth and paradox, life and eternity. 
I think they would combine admirably. :-)

Thank you Kregel Books for my review copy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The King's Hand~ Sequel to The Traitor's Heir

Where to start, where to start! 
How do I describe a tale that surges with life and sings of beauty and goodness? 
One that puts down roots deep into your heart and then spreads out and fills your imagination?

Well, as I said in my review of The Traitor's Heir, I do not compare fantasy books to Tolkien's. 
There are so many attempts to reproduce LOTR, and none of them work.
Anna Thayer, our author, lectures on the work of C. S and JRR. She was clearly influenced by their prose and poetry, but she did not try to retell their stories. She tells her own story of a world and a hero, and she tells it with passion. And now this is my favorite fantasy series since Narnia and LOTR. 

In some fantasies, the clash between good and evil is so large that the individuals are lost. Not so here.
By the end of this second volume, you will have read over 1,000 pages about Eamon Goodman. His growth as a human and as a Hand, step by step, with falling and faltering, makes you love him. The maturity he acquires and the way he grows into his role- loving the King while serving a city under throned rule- gives depth to his character. Eamon becomes a servant to become a leader. 

His comrades (Anderas and Ladomer, Callum and Mr Bellis) and enemies are also well drawn. Each one, noble or evil, keeps his dignity, and his deeds speak for him. 

The city of Dunthruik is a microcosm of all humanity. It teems with people, all needing work, needing food, needing care, needing hope. The systems that run the city promote poverty and crime, and they punish without justice. The Master rules by force and fear, and the city bleeds dry under his rule. 

How could this captive and oppressed people not respond to news of a coming King, one who will set them free and establish peace? But how can Eamon tell them about the King, when the punishment is death? 
And how can he not tell them, because there are fates worse than death and life under the throned is one of them. 

Final note~ 
Obviously, there are people who will avoid this series because it has been called an allegory. 
I say this: If you recognize Christ in this book, it is because both He and the King overflow with truth, beauty, and goodness. (That's the essence of the Gospel after all, the news that a good King is coming.) 
This is a fine story for anyone who wants to read it, simply because it is a story that resonates in us as real, and adventurous, and it affirms all that is right. 

Thank you very much to Lion Hudson Publishing for my review copy. 
It is a wonderful feeling to look at my bookshelf and see this series there, waiting for a reader to 

dive in.

Anna Thayer (née Slack) graduated from the University of Cambridge with first class honours in 2005 before living and teaching in Sicily for two years. She writes and lectures internationally on the works of fantasists J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and has edited a volume of essays on the latter’s work.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Love Well~

Love Well: Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck

"Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck." 
Isn't that a wonderful idea? 

Imagine if we could be done with the pressure to plan our performance and the temptation to angle every conversation to protect ourselves. Imagine if we could just live in the moment without panicking over the next step or regretting that this sweet slice of time will have to end so soon.
Imagine if we lived like it was true when the Bible said "It is for freedom that He set us free." 

Jamie George has written Love Well to help launch us on the journey to wholeness and happy holiness. 
(By the way, who doesn't desire to live like that? And if I were living a life like that, think of how many people would be attracted to the Gospel that produced it inside of me!) 

There are sections here with titles like "Open Yourself up to Goodness," "The Hidden Deep," "Touch Someone's Life," and "Love is Immeasurable."  Don't those sound great?  

Jamie tells a lot of stories in this book, because as Muriel Rukeyser said, "The Universe is made up of stories, not atoms."  

These are stories about being stuck and feeling trapped and emptied of all hope and meaning. These are stories about suddenly discovering the human beings all around you, waiting to be loved. These are stories about risking your heart in a world where hearts get broken all the time, but where God put his own Heart right in the middle of the mess. 

As Jackson Browne sang in Running on Empty- Everyone I know, everywhere I go, people need some reason to believe. 

This book is a fine one to encourage you. Stuck? It's not without hope. Lift up your face. God is here. 
And an un-stuck life is possible for you and me. 

Thank you David C. Cook for my review copy. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Just 18 Summers

Just 18 Summers

Just 18 Summers is a story with a lesson. 

Some parts are truly moving, and the characters really grow and change. 
Some moments are very cute, and I had a big grin on my face while reading them. 

This book is based off the script of a movie that is in the works now. I think it will make a very gentle comedy, and take well to the screen. 
The dialogue and action, the kids escapades and the parental neuroses, will make this a movie that I think a whole family could enjoy. 
It doesn't take itself too seriously, even when pointing out obvious wisdom. 
The characters first appear to be caricatures: the pizza boy who wants to marry your daughter, the over-controlled neighbor kids who can't climb trees, the father who is obsessed about money and the teen who doesn't fit in, and backstory is introduced slowly to show you fuller personalities. 

The wisdom in this book is expressed in this quote: Everything changes. And parenting is the hardest work you'll ever do. You don't know it yet, but you'll love in a way you didn't know you were capable of.

That is sho'nuff the truth. 

Thank you Tyndale House and for my review copy. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Surviving Henry.

Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe

  This book is 70% funny, and about half of that is genuine-chuckle-to-straight-up-laughter humor.
Even when the story is yanking on your heart strings, comedy is always there.

Henry was an adorable boxer puppy when he came home with Erin Taylor Young and her husband and sons.
As a child Erin's best canine friend was a beautiful and brawny boxer, the easiest dog you could ever hope to own.
It was time to replicate that experience for her boys.
Henry had an impressive pedigree. His breeder had spared no expense to pair the finest animals, and the numerous offspring were destined to be standard-setting champions. Except there were only two pups, and neither were show quality.
But they would be perfect pets, of course.
I bet you can guess that this wasn't the case.
Henry was something else entirely.

Thus begins this dog's tail, and we get front row seats to the drama!
We hear about....
K9 University, where Henry was enrolled after a fellow customer in Petco diagnosed him as "dominant."
(I don't think Henry ever graduated from this obedience school.)
Doggie life-vests, for visits to the lake, and rides in a bass boat, and discovering flocks of ducks.
Erin's strategies for wearing out her high energy pup. These include riding a motor scooter while walking the dog. Riding a bicycle while walking the dog.
Ending up in the hospital after the bicycle incident.

I'm not doing the humor here justice at all. You really have to read it, and it's great for read aloud sharing!

I love laughter, but a book has to *make* me laugh. Some of Mary Roach does. Some of James Thurber does.
Now I know that Erin Taylor Young does too.

Thank you Revell Reads for my review copy!

Erin Taylor YoungErin Taylor Young is a humor writer living in a comedy with an all-star cast including one well-meaning husband, two polar opposite sons, and a noncompliant dog. When she isn’t writing or rescuing the dog from mortal danger, she works in a library where she gets to wander among books.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

If I had lunch with C. S Lewis...

If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life

Alister McGrath's book entitled "If I Had Lunch With C. S Lewis" is a great gift for all the aficionados of this 20th century Christian apologist. 
It could also serve as a catalyst to prod someone who has no idea of who this man was into taking a look for themselves. 

What I still find most intriguing was that C. S was a WWI Infantryman, who had every reason to be an atheist after witnessing "man's inhumanity to man." His own intelligence, his thoughts, his reason, his learning, and his reading all led him to just the opposite.

If you're a non-believer, or a not-always-thoroughly-convinced-believer, take a look at this book by Alister McGrath. The author will lead you to his well-known subject, and also to Someone more wild and awesome than them both. 

I Thank Tyndale's Summer Reading Program for my copy of this book.

Ps... C. S Lewis wrote plenty of books. I myself want to procure a copy of Mere Christianity and do a much more thorough reading of it than I did with my library copy. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Faith Morgan... the Reluctant Detective


I really, really like Faith Morgan. 
A cop-turned-vicar, she's got the essence of both her past profession and her current ministry inside of her. Sometimes they seem to be polar opposites, and she questions whether she is made to be either. And then their are times she can see Christianity and police-work meshing together. 

This mystery, the first in very promising series, is just the right length with just the right plot intensity and fine character building. 
The author strikes the balance between unfolding a serious mystery and letting us peek into small town politics and private relationships. 

Faith is sensitive- to fine details in a crime scene and to a breaking human heart. She's also tough without being hard- she can deal with a terrible scene and yet remember the humanity that exists within it. 

And that's what sets her apart from her former partner, Inspector Ben Shorter. Ben is a good cop, but his worldview sees only criminals and victims. He sees tragedy, with no real redemption possible- only justice and punishment. And that is where Faith disagrees with him. 
She sees the Image of God- broken and tarnished and horribly disfigured, but she still sees it. 

Read this one, and then go get The Advent of Murder, and continue your friendship with Faith Morgan.

Thank you Kregel for my review copy! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Under the Heavens

"Sometimes the most difficult things in life make the best memories." 
~Leonard's mother.

Under the Heavens is a powerful coming-of-age story. The idea of a young person spending a summer on a farm- out of their typical environment, close to the good earth and its rhythms, finding peace and perspective in the cycle of harvest and toil, it is a great beginning for a story. 
And this story delivers. 

A summer- the whole three months- spent with step-family in Amish country? Oh no. Lenny wants no part of that. Nothing about the Amish lifestyle intrigues or inspires him... until he watches two glorious black draft horses pull a bogged down tractor free of the mire. 
Those horses, flesh and blood and bone and breath, were like nothing he had ever seen. 

And from there we have our tale. 

The writing caught my imagination right from the first-chapter scene of a drenching rain and a massive thunderstorm. Thomas Nye knows how to write so that you join his characters in the moment. You can hear the thunder's avalanche, see the smooth clouds, and the mist is wet on your face.
As Lenny stands in the barn, watching the sky pour down on the fields, he cannot imagine why he is even here, but even then something is drawing him. 

Lenny's Grandfather, who always calls him "Leonard," spoken in a gentle and reassuring way, who trusts Lenny with the job of Horse Boy and trains him to care for the draft team.
The work he does with Tug and Train, the horses who touch a place inside his heart. 
Lenny's first innocent crush on Amish maiden Leah, and the fun of volleyball at dusk and working in the sunshine filling up the haymow together.
Lenny's wonderings about his own father whom he never met.

It's all here. 
This would make a great read aloud with kids. 

Thank you Bookcrash for my review copy of Under the Heavens. 

Thomas Nye

Thomas Nye, moved to a rural community in Iowa when he was nineteen. His first acquaintances happened to be an Amish family, and they took him to visit Amish Church, Singings and Volleyball games. Over the past two decades, he has owned draft horses, which were acquired from local Amish farmers. Through these neighbors, he learned to work with horses in harness. Almost a time-traveler, Thomas visits the 1800's when with his Amish neighbors; returning to the modern world when at work as a letter carrier in Iowa City, Iowa. A natural-born story teller, he intertwines his own life experiences into his writing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rain, Thunder, and Lightning...

Storm Siren. This fantasy is as intense as a hail storm, and it's crackling with magic. The tale is terrifying at times, and then it rains down beauty.

Why do I think you should hurry to sneak Storm Siren in as your last Summer-2014-Read?

Well, we have....

A heroine, who can call a storm out from inside her soul and pour it on the world. Nymia's power is deadly and she cannot force it down, cannot cut it out of her soul, cannot beat it into submission. She has been bought and sold 14 times and has 14 tattoos sliced into her arm and a left hand full of crippled fingers to prove it. She is rejected again and again, and lives under condemnation.
She is shattered, and she feels like she deserves to be broken because of what her curse has caused.

A Kingdom, under attack, a kingdom of black roads and wheat fields and green mountains and slave markets and evil creatures. 
A Kingdom where Nym is supposed to be trained as a precision weapon, and used even more to destroy the enemies. 

Her trainer seems like a man without a soul, unable to care about anybody. Yet he doesn't seem to want to control Nym, as she had expected.
And when she is with him, her storms don't feel suppressed, but gentled. 

And it's all narrated from Nymia's mouth, first person. We are inside her head, inside her desperation, inside her constant fight against herself.
As a "freak of nature" she shouldn't exist, and surely no goodness can come of her power. 
And the whole time, we readers know that she was created this way for a purpose... and it shall soon be made clear. 

This book is 330 well-used pages long, and this is the first book in a trilogy. (Be warned... the ending of Storm Siren will make you crazy with curiosity!!!) 

I think this will be a great series to follow over the coming two years. A heroine who reminds us of ourselves, a glimpse of love in a strange place, great themes to think about, and adventure aplenty. 

Thank you Booklook Bloggers for my review copy!

M. Christine WeberM. Christine Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. She lives on the breathtaking California coast with her three homeschooled children and an engineering husband who looks strikingly similar to Wolverine.
Her writing experience includes card copy for Hallmark, articles and short stories for newspapers and e-zines, and educational curriculum for a non-profit, although she can also type a mean grocery list when necessary. On her days off, you can find her penning book reviews or conducting silly interviews here at amid drinking lattes and instructing her kids on the finer aspects of world domination.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Come be my Light~ Mother Teresa

Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta

I wanted this book for the words of Mother Teresa herself, and Come Be My Light is filled with excerpts of her letters and writings. 

There is so much here to recommend this volume. 

She was a woman who willed one thing: God and the poor, a Yes to Jesus. 
She said: "I long to light the light of love in the heart of every creature of God."
Her life was characterized by her desire to "Smile for Jesus."

People the world over will tell you that she showed them a glimpse of Christ's love here on earth, over and over. 
This same soul endured times of such darkness and dryness, that she felt like she was experiencing hell: separation from God Himself. 
Somehow, even this darkness that wrenched her soul did not stop her. 

Her sweetness and sense of humor come through when she wrote to a spiritual advisor, telling him that she followed Jesus like a little dog after his Master, asking him to pray that she be a cheerful little dog. 

She was even able to minister to her sisters through the emptiness, writing: "It often happens that those who spend their time giving light to others, remain in darkness themselves."

And: "I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love." 

So we can read this book and find the pearls of wisdom that she left us, and hopefully we can begin to wear them ourselves. 
We can be reminded why the live of faith is one of beauty and mystery, a luminous, gentle light in a storm-clouded world. 
And most of all we can be amazed at the very Real, very Alive Christ who worked through Mother Teresa in all moments. 

As she wrote: 
"Remember the five fingers- You-did-it-to-Me.
Remember- love begins at home- our community- our family. 
Remember- works of love are works of peace." 

Thank you Blogging for Books for my review copy!