Monday, April 29, 2013

It Seems To Be Here

Spring is such a beautiful time of year. Of course, the temperatures are still below 60 at times (at least here in New York) but all around me there are evident signs that spring has sprung. It seems like spring is here and below is the proof.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Review: Darkness Before Dawn

DBDcover-e1362078338838.jpgAbout the Book: 
On the same night she discovers she is pregnant, twenty-eight-year-old nurse Meg Richards husband is killed in an auto accident caused by a drunken teen. James Thomas, the teen, comes from one of the most influential families in the community. He s a star athlete and glamour boy at the local high school. 

Angered by her senseless loss, Meg blames God for what has happened and considers a decision that could change her life even further until the D.A. intervenes. The results of the brutal trial enrage Meg, leading her down a frightening path of retribution. When the opportunity for revenge comes unexpectedly, will Meg follow through? Or will the remnants of her faith lead her in a different direction?

My Review:
In his newest installment, Ace Collins touches some intense emotions -revenge and grief- and a topic all too common nowadays -teen drinking and driving. In Darkness Before Dawn, Ace shows what kind of havoc, hate and pain a drunk driver wreaks on so many people and Meg's story really opened my eyes to the firsthand emotions a widow must feel, especially when she is to be a mother as well.

To be completely honest, Meg frightened me. Her constant fantasies about murdering her husband's killer, her plots for revenge and her too-cold attitude made me dislike her from the beginning. I understand that she was desperate and controlled by her pain but her morbid mentality boggled my mind a few times. Such a dramatic shift in her character toward the end of the book was impacting. I got to "meet" a new Meg who had let healing work in her life and who had learned the power of forgiveness. The secondary characters like Heather and Paul and the drama that encompassed the two was another upside to this read. Nancy, a constant source of light and encouragement, even when her life was practically over, also opened my eyes. I thought that she was the much needed "solid rock" so to speak, that Meg needed to open her eyes and find her faith once again. I enjoyed peeks into the lives of all of the character's as well. For example Jim Thomas shared that he filled the void in his heart, created by his parents and friends, with alcohol. 

The plot of Darkness Before Dawn really tugged at my heart's strings. I felt for Meg, for her mother, for Jim Thomas and even for Heather. Each character had believable difficulties and flaws like anger, rejection, guilt and the compromising of morals. I enjoyed the personal feel to each character.

One of my two favorite parts of this book would have to the court case that occurred near the middle. I loved Cheryl's (the attorney fighting for Meg) sharp wit and how she pulled out all the stops to prove Jim Thomas' guilt. She considered facets of the case that I completely overlooked and when she reveled each hidden fact, I found myself at the edge of my seat. Internally, I had hoped that Jim Thomas would have been convicted to the full extent of the law and that he would have served time behind bars, but I much more enjoyed the arrangement he and Meg made at the end.

The ending by far was my favorite part. I won't spoil anything else but it's suffice to say that I was touched, moved, pretty much crying when I finished this book. 

If you are looking for a read that's a little different, a little mysterious and very much intriguing then you have to give Darkness Before Dawn a chance. The emotions exposed in this book are so raw, so real and so intense that I had to remind myself several times that I was reading a novel and not a real-life story. I unapologetically rate Darkness Before Dawn 5 out of 5 stars for stellar characters, an emotionally involved plot and amazing life lessons. It was a thrilling page turner that immediately grabbed hold of my attention and touched my heart.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: When Jesus Wept

Guest review by Sydney.
Knowing that the Thoenes penned over 65 works of historical fiction and are awarded authors, I was thrilled at the opportunity to read this novel.

"When Jesus Wept" is written from Lazarus' perspective of various Biblical occurrences, such as hearing the message of repentance from John the Baptist, witnessing Jesus' baptism, which was the first time Lazarus laid eyes on Jesus. 

The Authors vividly depict the unfolding events, miracles and controversy that surrounded Jesus' ministry. The Thoene's managed to intertwine the Biblical accuracies of the time along with great Historical fiction content amazingly. 

I appreciated them including many conversations that we find in the Bible between Jesus and Lazarus. 

The friendship that Lazarus and Jesus establish is vividly described throughout the book. The correlation of Lazarus being an owner of a vineyard and Jesus being the One True Vine is written out in picturesque detail.

Lazarus new all to well the care that went into having a vineyard that bore a delicious bounty of grapes.  He knew that much pruning to remove the fruitless branches was necessary in order to create a healthy atmosphere in which to grow in. The message that Jesus' is the One True Vine who lovingly prunes and trains as necessary so we may also bear good fruit was captured impressively.

Other characters of the book such as Lazarus' overseer and the Jerusalem Sparrows provided a more developed story line of the intimate and personal account of Lazarus and his family happenings.

This is the first novel I am reading by Bodie & Brock Thoene. The historical Christian genre drew me in and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading more from the Jerusalem Series.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tomorrow Never Comes

Tomorrow never comes. It simply never does. Sometimes I put off something for tomorrow only to realize as I go to bed that whatever I had postponed never got done. I silently chide myself and say "tomorrow" but again the opportunity never comes. Why? Well, tomorrow never comes.

I want to live life to the fullest so that if tomorrow never comes, I won't have any regrets. I'm not talking about doing the really outrageous things. No, I'm talking about enjoying the simple pleasures of life, like windy, rainy mornings and playing with my sweet little sister. I'm talking about taking that one picture that makes me smile, doing that one thing that makes me happy and saying that one thing to make another person glad. I'm taking about writing that fiction story, emailing that newspaper for a position and just taking chances. I'm taking about being a bit daring and trying tea even if you think you don't like it. I'm talking about those things; things that reveal that there is truly beauty in the mundane. 

I've learned that tomorrow never comes. Opportunities are missed, chances are lost and gifts never get opened when we wait for tomorrow. People never know how much you love them, appreciate them, if you hold off saying so until tomorrow. I want to live life to the fullest so that if tomorrow never comes, I won't have any regrets. I'm going to take every opportunity, chance and gift that comes my way because tomorrow never comes and neither do special moments exactly like those I've missed. Postponing is a great defeater of living today. Living today is the greatest defeater of postponing and "living tomorrow"

Can you take chances? If you don't today, tomorrow will never come. Trust me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Recipe: Pizza Pockets

A few weeks ago I made up a recipe for lunch. I had opened the refrigerator and was so uninspired by what was there. I mean, it was all good stuff... but I was craving something a little different. When all hope seemed lost, I caught sight of a few items we had purchased planning to use them at some point. I was inspired (and hungry) so I made up this recipe for pizza pockets.

-freshly grated mozzarella cheese
-garlic in olive oil (optional)
-tomato or meat sauce
-precut pepperonis
-butter biscuits
-dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano.

{Step 1} Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Pop open your can of biscuits and flatten them out on a plate or cutting board. You can use your hands or a rolling pin.

{Step 2} With a spoon, dollop on your tomato or meat sauce on half of the biscuit. Drizzle on a bit of garlic oil. It's okay if you get a few flecks of garlic in your pocket.

{Step 3} Sprinkle on your mozzarella cheese and your herbs. 

{Step 4} Place two pepperonis on top of the cheese.

{Step 4} Carefully flip over the other half of your biscuit (the half without ingredients) and with a fork, press down the edges of the biscuit.

{Step 5} Repeat the process with the remaining biscuits and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown. 

So, in five easy steps you've got a delicious meal that could be eaten for lunch or could double as dinner and served with a salad. You could even do this recipe assembly-line style and cut down your prep time. My family loves this recipe and since the little sister is so find of pizza, she likes when I surprise her with a batch of my pizza pockets.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book Review: The Guardian

What a great ending to Beverly Lewis' trilogy Home to Hickory Hollow! To be honest, I was a bit hesitant when I picked this book up. In my opinion, the first two installments, The Fiddler and The Bridesmaid, were too far fetched to be credible so I was dreading another unbelievable story. Yes, there were a few things that I found somewhat unrealistic, but overall, the story was great!

Most Amish novels are about young girls somewhere in their teens or twenties so it was a refreshing twist to read about the thirty-something year old widow, Maryanna. Maryanna and her passel of children all endeared readers, making them reel attached. Jodi, an Englisher and the other main character, was my favorite. Her internal struggles, thoughts and anger toward God because of the death of her sister are interesting to read but the moments when her heart began to soften will bring a smile to the reader's face. Reading of how two stories unfold was an added bonus as opposed to reading just one.

This book takes place in Beverly Lewis' beloved, quaint little town of Hickory Hollow. The descriptors she uses here are so enthralling that on more than one occasion I felt like I was really there. From desserts like warm peach cobbler to the way the Amish dress, I felt like Beverly covered all facets to fully submerge the reader into Amish-like living, if only for a few days.

I don't like when books are unrealistic. I understand that the books I like to read are fictitious but I'm looking for ones that are at least credible. I felt that the way Jodi just happened to stumble upon little Sarah was out of whack and so was the fact that Sarah had taken off her dress in the night. It seemed weird that a little girl of four years old wouldn't have screamed when she fell out from a moving buggy. These elements were out of place for me  but I guess they added another... dimension to the book.

I'm so glad that I ordered The Guardian; it proved to be a book that tugged at my heart's strings and even though it isn't a mystery, young Sarah's disappearance was quite mysterious. Both Maryanna and Jodi discover that God has different plans for their lives and the journey they both take is moving. The one minor fault I found didn't ruin or rob from my reading experience. I found it to be a satisfying ending to another Amish series, but the Rose Trilogy still remains my favorite Beverly Lewis book. I'd rate this book 4 out of 5 stars for overall experience. 

I received a complimentary copy of the Guardian from CFBA in exchange for my unbiased, honest review.


Want to know more about the book? Here's the back cover:
When Jodi Winfield comes to Lancaster to house-sit, the last thing she expects to find is a disheveled little girl alone on the side of the road. The young teacher is mystified when she learns there have been no reports of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can't speak English. It's as if the child appeared out of nowhere.
Then Jodi turns her attention to Hickory Hollow--and the cloistered world of the Old Order Amish--in search of answers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...