Review: The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

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Cover Rating:


Date Published: August 16, 2013
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Author: Lisa Wingate
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary
ISBN-10: 141438825X
ISBN-13: 978-1414388250
Book Source: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest opinion.

Blurb:

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Christianbook.com





Author Bio:

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and the author of twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, now in its nineteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel, Blue Moon Bay, was a Booklist Top Ten of 2012 pick. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

You can find Lisa Here:
Website  *  Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Pinterest

Favorite Excerpt:

Dearest Father,

     Forgive me for not coming to this sooner, this writing to you.Time goes by in the storm-washed days, unpredictable moment to moment, a pouring in and then a washing away. The ocean is calm today, beautiful, sunlit, and placid all around. How difficult to imagine that it has rushed ashore, washed through buildings and cars, and wrestled boasts loose from their mooring lines. But what is left behind tells the tale. Trees down in the yard, mud against the pilings, and driftwood lining the nearby. On television, the news of businees destroyed and families waiting in line at the Salvation Army canteen trucks. Camping trailers prostrate in the surf, beached like the carcasses of great whales. Rubble on curbs. Houses that sit dark at night. No lights. No air. No families.
     Yet amid all this, there is the water of grace. It flows in all directions, seeping into the hidden crevices, the darkest spaces. It comes with the stranger who rows by in a kayak when the water is yet high. “Just checking. Do you need anything?” he asks. The grace water moves in meals from hand to hand, in blankets, in trucks filled with supplies, in young men wearing military uniforms, in old men carrying chain saws, in lamp oil and candles. Light passed from hand to hand.
     The water of grace. A sponge to thirsty lips. A trickle and then a flood.
     Hope.
     The rivers moves a mountain stone by stone, slowly widening it’s path, flowing over each of us, cutting into each of us, washing through the places that are hard, that would seperate us from one another, from you among us and withinus.
     After the storm, all are equal. All wanting. All needing. All in need of the water of grace from one another and from you.
     I think of these things, and the tides are multiplied. They flow over me, stronger and more potent than the tides of destruction. The debris of anger, of desperation, seeps away, little by little. A tiny stone and then another. A mountain moving. Moved by all that is right.
     There is so much good. So much grace. So much pouring into the river. A quiet water, this river of grace. Its work done in ways that do not seek attention. Yet it is there. Always there.
     A shrimp boat rests in a parking lot not far away. You have seen this, of course. Such a strange thing. I would ask your help for the shrimper. His home is lost. There is a family to feed, the humiliation of moving children to a public shelter, meals taken from a canteen truck. The starting of a new school year, the holidays just months away, and they have nothing.
     You know this man, I am certain, as you know each of us. You are always mindful.
     And then I wonder, am I to think of a way to aid this neighbor? Is this why I have seen him today? Can these tired old hands still cup the water, pour it out? This old body that creaks and groans with small efforst, can it yet serve?
     I think to myself,
What can I do?
     Then I look at this bit of paper, the one I have grabbed up because it was close at hand when I set about writing to you. I run a finger over the margins, touch the printed images. What does a lighthouse do?I ask myself. It never moves. It cannot hike up its rocky skirt and dash into the ocean to rescue the floundering ship. It cannot calm the waters or clear the shoals.
     It can only cast light into the darkness. It can only point the way.
     Yet, through one lighthouse, you guide many ships.
     Show this old lighthouse the way.

Your loving daughter,
Iola Anne



Synopsis:

Tandi Jo Reese was running. Running from a controlling husband and a dangerous past. Running from an addiction to pain killers. She’s also running from a broken past, a father who was an alcoholic and a family life that left nothing to be desired. Odd how she winds back up on Hatteras Island, the place where it all began, the place of her youth. Tandi felt drawn to the Island for reasons she couldn’t explain. Moving into the cottage house of Iola Anne Poole was just the beginning of a new life for her and her two kids. When Iola dies suddenly, Tandi is given the option of living rent free in exchange for cleaning out Iola’s stately old mansion and she quickly agrees. When she finds 81 prayer boxes in the closet of the “Blue Room” she realizes she’s not just on a mission, but a life’s journey. As the life of Iola Anne Poole unfolds, Tandi’s life begins to change. With the help of Paul Chastain, a teacher at the local school, she sets out to prove something to the people of the Island. Can she find the life she’s always wanted hidden in the pages of those old letters? Can she find true love amidst the storm?

I loved Tandi Jo’s character. She had been dealt a hard life with nothing ever turning out the way she had hoped. Memories from the past gave her the mindset that no one could ever really love her. But she was a fighter and when she got knocked down she always came up swinging. She was determined not to let the things in life beat her down. She was a strong woman that had simply made some bad choices but when Iola’s letters started taking root in her soul she was like a flower opening up to the sun. She was at her best, I think, in difficult situations and I admired her determination.

Paul Chastain was my idea of a true hero. He sat quietly on the outskirts until he was needed. But, when he was needed, he rose to the occassion. He was a very caring and sensitive man and he always seemed to know what Tandi needed the most. He never tore her down but, instead, always built her up. He was her very own champion, always rooting for her on the sidelines. I think I fell in love just a little with his character.

The Prayer Box is such a beautiful yet heart-wrenching story. A tears-rolling-down-your-face story but, at the same time, it is filled with hope, love, faith. A story that really speaks to your soul. Lisa Wingate’s descriptions are so vivid you feel like you’re a part of the story. Iola’s letters to her Heavenly Father are like poetry on a page and showcase Lisa’s God-given gift of writing. It is a story that I will read several times over. If you liked The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright you will love this book. I recommend it VERY HIGHLY!

My Rating:



**While I was given a free copy of this book for my honest opinion, I was in no way compensated for this review**

Review: Holy Estrogen by Carol McLeod

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Cover Rating:


Date Published: August 10, 2012
Pages: 224
Publisher: Harrison House Inc
Author: Carol McLeod
Genre: Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction
ISBN-10: 1606833987
ISBN-13: 978-1606833988
Book Source: The book was provided by the publisher through Bookfun.org for my honest opinion.

Blurb:

Holy Estrogen is THE book for women. It will target your emotional fluctuations and challenge you to discover the purpose for which God gave us emotions. Did God really want women to live a roller coaster life ordered by some hormone that is absolutely out of your control? The truth is, God gave you estrogen so that you would be a woman fully alive inside and fully engaged with the life that He has given to you. Through this book, you will begin to live powerfully and learn what it means to be a woman who flourishes in all of life’s situations. You will learn to move beyond the pain, the disappointment, the fears and the princess persona and you will change your emotional clothes! Some chapters include: * OCD, Chicken Doo-Doo and Worship! * An Emotional Enemy * Fingernails on the Chalkboard of Life * Time for a Change * 1440 Reasons Why * Who Do You Mend a Broken Heart? * Earthly, Natural or Demonic? * It’s All About Me! And lots more.

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Christianbook.com  *  Parable.com   *  Family Christian  *  BAM





Author Bio:

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. She also host the highly successful Just Joy! outreaches. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol is the author of Defiant Joy! and The Rooms of a Woman’s Heart. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman’s Heart, won the Telly Award, for excellence in religious programming. She is a 1977 graduate of Oral Roberts University with a degree in Music and English. She is married to Craig McLeod, they serve as Senior Pastors of Life Church near Buffalo, NY.

You can find Carol Here:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads



Reflections:

“Many christians make the very same mistake as did our affluent farmer friend in the parable of Jesus. We continuously feed our soul and ration the nutrition of our spirit.”


If you have been guilty of this, raise your hand. I know mine is raised high above my head at the moment. Guilty as charged! Carol points out that by feeding your soul more than your spirit, your soul will grow out of control. This helped me to realize how devestating the outcome could be if I don’t nourish my spirit enough by feeding it the Word of God. Very eye-opening.


“However, a spirit that has known the strength and focus of a life lived wholeheartedly for christ will look at the past with this wisdom and peace, “I have not encountered one obstacle that hod has not used for His purposes. In every challenge and through every heartache, He has been with me.””


This quote really spoke to my heart. I am a testimony for this statement. No matter what I have been through in my life, God has carried me through to a victorious ending. This is such a powerful statement and really awakened my spirit to how truly Blessed I am.


“If you have a problem with fear and worry, I can tell you exactly where it care from! Women who have downloaded fear and worry onto their mental hard drive get their primary information from the devil himself. Ladies, let me be blunt here…you are listening to the wrong voice! You have bought the wrong newspaper! Put that gossip rag where it belongs…in the trashcan!You are accepting gifts from the wrong person! Change the channel! Press the mute button and open the Bible!”


Fear and worry…they can sure clutter your mind. I have struggled with both over the years and still do at times. Carol helped me to see they have no place in my life and only wear me down. Like dragging a suitcase full of baggage everywhere I go. If you’re battling worry and fear, this section of Holy Estrogen will certainly help you win the battle.


“If I was a doctor, and I supposed that I am…I am a doctor of the soul, so let me write you a prescription for loneliness. Give to someone else at least 3 times a day. Your loneliness will be cured when you are more concerned about someone else’s needs rather than your solitary life.”


This is a tip I will definitely take with me wherever I go. I sometimes get the “blahs”, as most people do. I enjoy giving as much as I can and love it when I manage to brighten someone’s day. This helped me to realize that when I’m giving, in whatever way, my loneliness scatters. I’m so caught up in the other person’s joy that I don’t feel the loneliness. This is a great tip that can be applied to the lives of everyone.



Synopsis:

Holy Estrogen is full of advice on how to give yourself over to God so He can help you overcome the daily stumbling blocks in your life. It’s very informative and Carol’s tips are spot-on. I also found it brought out several of my emotions. I was very touched and thought of special times with my own dad when she told the story of working in the garden with her dad. And I laughed out loud when she told the story of her friend, Kathy, and how she handled a situation with a thoughtless driver. Bottom line, Holy Estrogen is a very helpful, scriptural based book that packs quite a punch. If you need help battling and reigning in your emotions this book can do just that. It’s not just for women. Men can benefit from Carol’s advice just as easily. I would recommend it to anyone who battles such emotions as anger, fear or loneliness.



My Rating:



Review: Pennsylvania Patchwork by Kate Lloyd

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Cover Rating:


Series: Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy, Book 2
Date Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 384
Publisher: David C. Cook
Author: Kate Lloyd
Genre: Christian Fiction, Amish Fiction
ISBN-10: 0781408733
ISBN-13: 978-0781408738
Book Source: The book was provided by the publisher through Bookfun.org for my honest opinion.

Blurb:

ONE HEART. TWO LOVES. ONE CHOICE.

Seattle native Holly Fisher is smitten by Lancaster County, its simplicity and her long lost relatives. In the sequel to bestselling Leaving Lancaster, Holly embraces the Amish culture, learning to slow down to see what – and who – really matters.


Meeting the family that her mother had kept hidden from her, Holly comes face to face with her real life and blood legacy. She also falls for the charming Zach, a handsome Mennonite veterinarian who is everything she’s ever wanted in a husband: confident, kind, successful, and authentic. And Zach proposes marriage. Is this too soon? Is this the right choice? Mother and Amish grandmother think she’s rushing into too much of a lifestyle change. Holly is in love with Zach and that precludes everything. Until she meets an attractive Amish man. And an old suitor shows up.

Pennyslvania Patchwork is the moving, richly told story of one woman’s heart, her faith and trust, and the choices she makes. Never easy, but one choice can change your destiny.

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Parable.com  *  Family Christian  *  BAM




Author Bio:

Author Kate Lloyd is a passionate observer of human relationships. A native of Baltimore, Kate spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, PA, the inspiration for her novel Leaving Lancaster. She is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. Kate and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest, the setting for Kate’s first novel, A Portrait of Marguerite. Kate studied painting and sculpture in college. She’s worked a variety of jobs, including car salesman and restaurateur.
You can find her at the links below. She loves hearing from readers!

You can find Kate Here:
Website  *  Facebook  *  Twitter

Favorite Scene:

“Nee. Don’t ya see? Zach’s putting these ideas in your head so you’ll steer clear of me. He’s afraid you’ll decide you prefer the Amish life to his.”

Holly would never become Amish,” Zach said.

“That’s not what I hear.” Armin tossed the grass away. “Nathaniel told me she wore his daughter’s dress and apron, and even figured out how to secure the pins. And he said she relies on her computer less and less.”

“We don’t have internet up at my grandma’s,” I said. But Armin was speaking the truth. And I’d neglected to put on makeup today. Not to mention, I’d all but given up driving.

“She loves riding in the buggy,” Armin said. “I can tell that. ‘Tis plain as the pout on your face, but you’re too dickkeppich—thick-headed—to see.”

“How do you know so much about my future wife?”

“You ain’t married yet, Zach…”

Synopsis:

After finding out about her Amish heritage that had long been hidden, Holly Fisher abd her mother, Esther, move from Seattle to Pennsylvania so she can get to know her “new” family and the Amish lifestyle. Once there, things aren’t quite as simple as they seem. Holly finds she loves the Amish life and takes pleasure in the simple things, eventually forgetting the lack of modern conveniences. The local Veteranarian, Zach Flemming soon sweeps her off her feet. Holly thinks she knows what her heart wants until she meets a local Amish man. Armin King makes Holly’s determination to marry Zach waver and she constantly finds herself second guessing what her heart wants. When an old friend from Seattle shows up at her door asking for her hand in marriage, Holly is shocked. Amidst her indecisions about her love life, Holly is struggling with her grandmother’s failing health and a surprise package from her deceased father. Who will Holly choose and what lifestyle will she be happy with?

I always love Amish Fiction. There is just something about the close relationship the Amish share with God and their readiness to forgive that draws me. Pennsylvania Patchwork made me experience this feeling all over again. The scenes were so descriptive I felt like I was there enjoying the Amish countryside. I must say I was rooting for one of Holly’s suitors in particular. While they all had things about them I loved and admired, one stood out among the rest for me. I won’t give out any spoilers but I am looking forward to Book three so I can follow the rest of the story. Kate Lloyd wrote a thoroughly enjoyable story that kept me turning the page to find out more. While you don’t have to read book one to follow along with what’s happening, you will want to after reading this book. If you like Amish Fiction, you’ll love Pennsylvania Patchwork.

My Rating:



**While I was given a free copy of this book for my honest opinion, I was in no way compensated for this review**

Review: Gone South by Meg Moseley

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: May 7, 2013
Pages: 352
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah Books
Author: Meg Moseley
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance
ASIN: B00A5MRFGU
Book Source: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Blurb:

The charm of the South drew her back to her family’s roots. But when the town’s old resentments turn the sweet tea bitter, can Tish find a welcome anywhere?

Leaving frosty Michigan for the Deep South was never a blip in the simple plans Tish McComb imagined for her life, dreams of marriage and family that were dashed five years earlier in a tragic accident. Now an opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents’ Civil War era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word. She wonders if God has given her a new dream— the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.

When Tish discovers that McCombs aren’t welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines. Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance. What’s a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble’s resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.

Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways. With Melanie blocked from going home, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love and forgiveness.

You can purchase it Here: Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Christianbook.com

Author Bio:

Meg Moseley is still a Californian at heart although she’s lived more than half her life in other states. Holding jobs that ranged from candle-maker to administrative assistant, Meg also contributed human-interest pieces for a suburban edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contemporary fiction remains her real love, and she’s the author of When Sparrows Fall. She lives in Atlanta near the foothills of the Southern Appalachians with her husband.

You can find Meg Here: Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Favorite Scene:

Afraid she was about to lose it, George reached for her hand, then lost his nerve and petted Daisy’s head. “So Marian claims to have proof from the historical society. That’s the key word. Historical. Whether or not the stories are true, they’re in the past.”

“I know. I should focus on the present.” Tish Turned toward him, her face framed softly by long locks of red-brown hair. “No matter what happened here in 1870, this is my home now. Nobody’s going to scare me away.”

“You know the difference between a Yankee and a… well, a Yankee who’s bound for eternity in the lake of fire?”

“The ones who visit versus the ones who stay? Yeah, I’ve heard that old joke, but I’m staying. I don’t care what people call me. I don’t care what they think of me either.”

“No?”

“Okay, sometimes I do. Sometimes I care too much. I want very badly to be accepted, but sometimes I forget to mind my manners and I speak my mind instead. Someday, I’m afraid I’ll say things I shouldn’t say. Do things I shouldn‘t do.”

She could be direct, all right, and maybe she didn’t always think before she acted, but at least she did something. “If your heart’s right, your actions can’t be too far off. Case in point, the way you reached out to Mel.”

“You did too,” Tish said. “It’s very generous to hire her, and I don’t mean just about the wages you’ll pay. It’s… moral generosity.”

George squelched a grin. If he’d know hiring Mel would cast him in such a noble light, he might have hired her sooner.

“I see moral generosity on your side too,” he said. Even though you’re a Yankee.”

She laughed. “Careful there Mr. Zorbas. You’re skating on thin ice.”

“I know, but I grew up listening to my grandfather always preaching against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Sometimes he mentioned Yankees in the next breath, so I started to think Yankees and devils were one and the same.”

“Gee, thanks.”

He leaned closer, enjoying her cynical little smile. “But I’d be first to admit that some of ya’ll aren’t too bad. And some of ya’ll are mighty pretty.”

“And some of you southern gentlemen are mighty forward.” She moved Daisy to his knee and got to her feet.

“Forward? I only–”

“My feet are freezing. Good night, George.”

He rose too. “Tish, I–”

She’d already escaped inside, shutting the door firmly behind her. He carried the dog home, brooding over his extraordinary talent for ruining good conversations.

Main Characters:

Letitia “Tish” McComb: Tish works in the insurance field but is obssessed with antiques, such as, old clothes and costume jewelry among other things. She is very forth-right but honest and generous to a fault.

George Zorbas: George owns the town antique shop. He is a very serious person that believes in honesty and trust and he is always willing to give people a chance.

Melanie “Mel” Hamilton: Mel is a very intense 20 year-old with alot of issues. She feels things very strongly, whether good or bad. Her emotions are like a rollercoaster but she is a very loveable girl most of the time.

My Thoughts:

Tish McComb is a person that finds herself drawn to the past. She buys antique clothes and costume jewelry and feels a special connection to her great, great, great grandmother whom she was named after. When her mother decides to move to Florida, Tish agrees to drive to Florida to help her unpack. Just before leaving Michigan, she discovers the house her ancestors used to own is up for sale so she decides to stop by on her way back from Florida to see it and get a few pictures. Buying it was the last thing she intended but, once she saw it, she felt drawn to it. Tish finds herself in the middle of becoming a homeowner for the first time and, she has to admit, she’s excited. She has heard such good things about Letitia and Norman McComb but once the locals in Noble, Alabama find out who she is and turn a cold shoulder, Tish begins to wonder exactly what is fact and what is fiction. Studying the original letters of Letitia McComb, Tish hopes to prove the townspeople wrong. Suddenly her excitement of living in her ancestor’s home starts to dim in light of the treatment of the people of Noble. George Zorbas and his Uncle Calv are the only ones that give her a chance. While fighting to save the good name of the McCombs, Tish find herself falling for George but, after losing her fiancee’ 5 years ago in a tragic accident, Trish wants nothing more than to run scared. Can George break the barriers errected around her heart? Can the locals leave the past in the past? When Tish finds Mel in the park, cold and hungry, with nothing but her sleeping bag she knows what she has to do. She brings well home with her and gives her food, clothes and a place to stay. Mel has issues of her own she is trying to work through and with the help of Trish and George she is finally getting on the right track.

George Zorbas, the local antique dealer, is drawn the the new girl in town. While others are snubbing her, George gives her a chance and that means the world to Tish. When George buys a classic 1970 Chevelle to restore, he needs a garage big enough to work on it. It just so happens Tish McComb has a nice, big garage that she doesn’t use. Not only does the garage work perfectly but it also allows him to see Trish more frequently. George’s is also Mel’s older brother’s friend so when Mel needs a job and no one trusts her enough to hire her, George gives her a job ih his shop. George soon discovers that Mel has a learning disibility and it accounts for the previous accusations of stealing from her employers. While he works with Mel to get her life in order, he’s also working to get Trish to open up her heart and let him in.

Gone South took me on a journey from the first page to the last. It drew me into the character’s lives and made me feel like I was a part of the story. Each character had their own traits that made them special. When I first started reading and found out about the old letters and Trish’s special connection to her great, great, great grandmother Letitia I thought the story would eventually take me back in time. It didn’t but that’s not a bad thing. The story flowed well and Ms. Moseley managed to bring it to life scene by scene. Mel’s character was a little baffling to me at first. I kept wondering how old she was and when I found out she was almost twenty-one I couldn’t mentally connect her age to her child-like demeanor. After finding out she possibly had a learning disability it all clicked into place. I think Tish, George and Mel all complimented each other well for a perfect balance throughout the story. All-in-all, Gone South was a very sweet story with very charming characters. Kudos to Meg Moseley on a job well done!

Learning Disabilities Info:

If you are a parent or teacher of a child with a learning disability – or have learning disabilities yourself – you are not alone. Typical learning difficulties include dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia – often complicated by associated disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The good news is that the Learning Disabilities Association of America is here to help. Since 1963, LDA has provided support to people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers and other professionals. At the national, state and local levels, LDA provides cutting edge information on learning disabilities, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources. These services make the Learning Disabilities Association of America the leading resource for information on learning disabilities…

Continue reading Here.

Spencerian Penmanship Info:

I was fascinated by this type of writing and wanted to learn a bit about it’s history so I went on a search and came upon a website that gives a little bit of it’s history. Here is a snippet from Design Sponge.

Even though most of us spend the majority of our day banging away at keyboards, there’s nothing quite like a handwritten note. We seem to be far removed from the time when that ornamental penmanship, now reserved for weddings, was once a common characteristic of an educated individual. But even if most of us can’t write with those elaborate flourishes, we can see have a little piece of flourish design – named for the elaborate flourishes of pen. Flourishes have become a popular design motif for everything from tattoos to pillows…

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Review: The Chamomile by Susan F. Craft

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: February, 26 2011
Pages: 252
Publisher: Ingalls Publishing Group, Inc
Author: Susan F. Craft
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Romance
ISBN-10: 1932158944
ISBN-13: 978-1932158946
Book Source: Book was provided by the author for my honest opinion.

Blurb:

Lilyan joins Patriot spies in British-occupied Charlestown, SC, to rescue her brother from a notorious prison ship. She’ll lie, steal, kill or be killed she promises Nicholas Xanthakos, a scout with Francis Marion’s partisans, who leads the mission. In Nicholas’ arms she discovers enduring love…a home. But that home is a long time coming. Her journey requires she save the life of one British officer but kill another to protect her Cherokee friend Elizabeth. In escaping bounty hunters, she treks miles of wilderness and very nearly loses everything before finally reuniting with her true love.

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Author Bio:

A history lover, Susan F. Craft researches for her novels with the same excitement as Alan Quartermain hunting for King Solomon’s Mines and with the persistence of Lewis and Clark. She enjoys the chase when a clue leads her from one “treasure” to the next, to the next.

A South Carolinian, Susan has a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Her 40-year career includes working for SC Educational Television, the SC Department of Mental Health, the SC College of Pharmacy, and currently for the SC Senate. The Chamomile, published by Ingalls Publishing Group, was released in November 2011 and is the fourth book she has authored. The first two were S.C. State Library award-winning professional works in the field of mental health, and the third, self-published in 2006, is A Perfect Tempest, a historical fiction set in Columbia during the Civil War.

Susan is a member of Romance Writers of America, the American Christian Fiction Writers, The Historical Novel Society, the S.C. Writers Workshop, the SC Historical Society, the Robert Burns Society, the Colonial American Christian Writers, and the Inkplots, a writers’ critique group. Her short stories have been published in four of the group’s collections.

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance selected The Chamomile as a Fall 2011 Okra Pick, recognizing it as a top novel of the season.

Susan is represented by the Harline Literary Agency.

You can find Susan Here:
Website

Favorite Scene:

“Late one evening the first week in May as they strolled the outskirts of the camp, Nicholas stopped at pointed to the sky. “See the three stars, there, in a row?”

Lilyan followed his direction. “Yes.”

“That’s the belt of Orion, the hunter. If you look closely, you can see his upraised club.” He drew an outline with his finger.

Lilyan squinted. “Not really.”

Nicholas chuckled. “It’s difficult to see.” He paused. “Lilyanista?”

“Yes?”

“You do know that I love you, yes?” He faced her, taking her hand in his.

“I believe I do.” Her heart raced as his thumb traced circles in the palm of her hand.

“But do you realize how much?”

She leaned back, looking up at his face barely visible beneath the brim of his hat. “If it is only half as much as I love you, then your body cannot contain it.”

He sucked in a breath. “The days we spent together traveling here from the DeKruifs, I watched you. The way your body comes slowly away long before you open your lovely green eyes. I wake in the mornings remembering the way you stretch your arms to the side and arch your back. Do you realize how graceful your hands are when you braid your hair? Hair that looks like spun copper by firelight.” He twirled a tendril of her hair around his finger. “I lay down at night wondering what it would look like spread across my pillow.”

Tension polled in the pit of Lilyan’s stomach as the effect of his words swirled around in her body like warm honey.

He dropped his hands to his sides. “But what a terribly uncertain time it is to be in love. Yes?”

Lilyan pressed her other hand to his chest. “If I have learned anything over the past few months, it is this. Nothing in this life is certain. God has given us the gift of this day, not the promise of another. And I believe He expects us to live each hour, each moment, acknowledging and enjoying that gift.”

He curled his hands around hers. “If that is so, I will wait no longer. Lilyan Cameron, will you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?””

Main Characters:

Lilyan Cameron: Lilyan is an artist who owns her own store where she creates all kinds of artwork including painting murals for the more prominent citizens. Strong-willed and determined, but very protective of those she loves. Lilyan loves with a fierceness seldom seen by many. She sees through an artist’s eyes and has great passion for the beauty around her. She is slightly reserved but also knows how to throw caution to the wind.

Captain Nicholas Xanthakos : Nicholas is a Captain with Frances Marion’s partisans fighting for lives and freedom. A sweet and gentle man with the prowess of a cougar when those he cares about are threatened. He is dependable and sturdy, solid as a rock in the hard times and gentle as a lamb with the woman he loves.

Andrew Cameron: Andrew is Lilyan’s brother. Fighting for the cause, freedom for the colonies. Andrew displays a courage seldom seen and a profound love for his family.

Elizabeth Archer: Elizabeth was born among the Cherokee but when her parents died, Lilyan’s father brought Elizabeth to live with them. Elizabeth, Lilyan and Andrew were siblings by every right except birth. Elizabeth had a gentle spirit and a loving nature but she could weild a knife like an expert. She was a very welcome and calming presense in this book.

Angus McCallum: I just loved Angus. I loved his Irish brogue. I loved the few times he made me laugh. I just loved him period. Angus was a friend of Lilyan’s dad who swore to protect Lilyan and Andrew until his last breath. I must say, he did a fine job doing just that too.

My Thoughts:

Lilyan Cameron is an artist who owns her own shop in Charleston, SC. Overrun by British soldiers, the colony is ruled with an iron fist but when the citizens get tired of buckling under British rule, a battle ensues. When Andrew is arrested for stealing the powder magazing in the basement of the exchange building, he is imprisoned asnd sent to live on a ship in horrible conditions. Lilyan vows to free her brother no matter the cost, even going as far as to promise Nicholas Xanthakos (A Captain for Frances Marion’s partisans) she would lie, steal or kill if need be. Little did she know Nicholas would turn out to be the theif when he steals her heart. When murder is commited, Lilyan finds she has lived up to her promise and it sets in motion a string of unimaginable events.

Nicholas admires Lilyan’s courage and soon finds himself in love with the woman with the fiery hair and gentle spirit. After they flee the “murder scene” he leaves them encamped with several other women whose loved ones are fighting in the war. When she is discovered by “bounty hunters” she must flee again to live with the Cherokee, the family of her beloved Elizabeth. Lilyan is devestated by Elizabeth’s death. She feels God has forsaken her and carries the guilt of her friend’s murder on her shoulders. But God hasn’t forsaken her. He sent help when Andrew was deathy ill and he saved her from certain death when she was kidnapped. With the help of her brother she finds her way back to the God who loves her. And, with God’s help, Lilyan and Nicholas find their way back to each other.

The Chamomile was a very poignant story of love and loss. The devastation they suffered was balanced by the love that surrounded them daily. The Revolutionary War came to life in the pages contained in this book. It made me want to learn more about the history of the war and that is a feat in itself since I’m not much of a history buff. It also touched every emotion and left me feeling emotionaly drained. I was literally crying by the turn of the second page. Susan F. Craft is a masterful storyteller weaving together a story that will stay with me for years to come. If you haven’t read it (And I’m assuming if you’re reading this you haven’t) then you definitely should.

Revolutionary War Info:

In 1763, few would have predicted that by 1776 a revolution would be unfolding in British America.

The ingredients of discontent seemed lacking — at least on the surface. The colonies were not in a state of economic crisis; on the contrary, they were relatively prosperous. Unlike the Irish, no groups of American citizens were clamoring for freedom from England based on national identity. King George III was not particularly despotic — surely not to the degree his predecessors of the previous century had been…

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The Militia Info:

Even before the struggle for American independence ended, two contrasting views of the role of the Revolutionary militia had emerged. Popular opinion, remembering the gallant stand of the Minutemen at Concord and Lexington, held fast to the ideal of the brave citizen soldier as the mainstay of defense. Other Americans however, including many Continental Army veterans, derided the militia’s reputation for fleeing in the face of the enemy. The early histories of the Revolution also tended to minimize the contributions of the militia, and one acclaimed account of the war, written as late as 1929, even referred to “the utter failure of the militia system.”…

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