Saturday, January 19, 2019

At Last, The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen

Monday, January 7, 2019

We Hope For Better Things A Strong Debut Novel by Erin Bartels thoughts....

I enjoyed reading We Hope for Better Things,  a compelling time slip novel that easily slips between three very different times in our country, specifically in Detroit.  From the Civil War to racially charged Detroit in the sixties to present day unrest.  Each time centers on a strong female character who is faced with finding her voice in circumstances beyond her control.

Erin Bartels has woven the subject of race discrimination among beautiful descriptions of the big family farm that is almost its own unique character in the story.  We meet Mary Balsam, a young, barely married wife sending her husband off to war, not knowing how she will manage the crops or the big house.  Mary's granddaughter, Nora, married a black man in the sixties after a Martin Luther King Jr. rally in 1963. They found refuge at the abandoned farm after she was disowned by her father.  Forbidden love is all the sweeter when it is requited in the smallest way.  Nora, after seeing the big picture said, "William was the right man, all right. But it was the wrong time, that's all."  Elizabeth Balsam, Nora's great-niece found a reclusive Nora after losing her job as a journalist at the Detroit Free Press. A generation is skipped between each woman's story and each is so tightly woven the reader will keep reading to see what is going on next in each era.

The stories of the Civil War and its aftershocks were still a bit freshly written when I was a child.  While most of the players were long gone, the stories were rich but not always pleasant.  That was a terrible time for our country.  When we think we cannot emerge stronger or better today, we can look back on how bad things were after President Lincoln was killed and the war ended. 

I remember the turmoil of the sixties although I lived far from those hot spots of the time.  We did not have cable news and in a way, I am glad of that.  Today, with news at the ready, it seems we get so many theories and guesses that it still takes a few days to sort things out.  The turmoil in our country today is not new.  We may have thought we were past some of the injustice handed to others based on their race, politics or faith.  We have not, though, I pray some day we will. 

This book is a gentle reminder that we need to tell our stories so that our family history continues to the next generation.  I am grateful for the stories that my mother wrote down and eagerly share stories with my grandchildren. We Hope for Better Things is an engaging family story that was worth telling.  While it is fiction, it could be pieces of many stories.  I recommend this book with 4 stars. 

...from the publisher... 

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request--that she look up a relative she didn't know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos--seems like it isn't worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt's 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Praying with Jane: 31 Days through the Prayers of Jane Austen Is Just Right for Our Fast Paced World thoughts....

We live in such a fast paced world that even our spiritual habits can be fast-tracked. With online bible studies and podcasts from our favorite church sermons we can fit in our spiritual needs on the go.  Or so it would seem.  Are we better off in such a manner? 

Jane Austen is more famous now than she would have considered possible.  Imagine the quiet society the author lived in and compare it with our lives today.  Imagine her sitting at her desk writing in her journal or perhaps outdoors on a blanket reading her bible.  I can imagine her carving time in her day for reading her bible, writing her thoughts or discussing her thoughts on a verse with her beloved sister, Cassandra.  Many today find it difficult to find time to simply sit and reset their minds on their spiritual needs.  I find myself seemingly running out of time when I know I have the same 24 hours every day, just as those who went before me.  Our lives today truly are busy, but we simply use our time differently.

Slowing time down can be done but it takes practice.  It also takes practice to ignore our phones in order to breathe deep and get into quiet times of reflection. We still have sixty minutes to the hour, that will not change.   I find that for myself, reading books like Praying with Jane help me slow down and pause for much needed spiritual boost.  Every care in the world still awaits but I am better equipped to manage them.  Less stress is one of my goals for the new year so relaxing with Jane came at a very good time for me.

If you like Jane Austen and want to give your spiritual side a boost, pick up a copy Praying With Jane by Rachel Dodge.  Rachel also has reading guides and discussions on her website.  This book is on my Kindle app so it is easy to access on my phone or tablet.  Just right for those times when I am waiting for an appointment or at the bus stop for my grand-kids. It is time well spent rather than watching the clock.

...from the publisher...

The charm of Jane Austen and her novels has been enjoyed for over 200 years by readers around the world. Much has been written about her fascinating life, yet little is known about Jane's spiritual side. In this lovely 31-day devotional, you will get an in-depth look at Miss Austen's vibrant, steadfast prayer and faith life. Her intimate relationship with the Father comes to life through her exquisite prayers, touching biographical anecdotes, intimate excerpts from family letters and memoirs, and illuminating scenes from her novels.

Spiritual insights and Scripture references shed light on the profound meaning behind Miss Austen's prayers and the enduring truths they contain. Each day ends with a key Bible verse and invitation to "pray with Jane," helping to ignite and deepen your own vibrant relationship with the Father.