Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Review: Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson

The Christian experience is one of death and rebirth, and that is the story of May in this newest book by Lisa Samson.

May Seymour has just graduated from the University of Kentucky, and has no idea what she will do with her life. Up until this point she has been self-centered and privileged, and the only things on the horizon are a possible job interview…and the back-up plan of a trip to Rwanda.

In the months before she leaves for Africa, May meets Claudius, a simple farmer with a fatherly love for May. She spends the summer on his farm, learning to enjoy the slower pace of life in the Kentucky hills. Claudius has hope that after Rwanda she might come home to his farm, and possibly even marry Eli – a local boy that May knows from her years at UK.

But life happens. In Rwanda May learns about God, friendship, love and war, and comes home to the farm a scarred and broken girl. Healing is slow and not without pain, but it does come as surely as the crocus blooms in the spring. But May never expected the death of self that true resurrection requires.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

WIP (Works in Progress)

Do all writers have multiple works in progress at a time? I really don’t know, but I suspect it has something to do with how we read. I always have multiple books that I’m reading at one time.

I’m always reading the Bible – I’m on my ninth year of reading the Bible through in a year. I’m also reading a new book published by Love Inspired – The Rancher’s Promise by Jillian Hart. I also try to keep a classical literature book going – currently it’s Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I have read retellings of the book before, but never the original. I’m reading it slowly – I’ll pick it up once every couple weeks. I’m usually also reading a non-fiction book, but I haven’t picked one up for awhile.

My writing seems to follow the same pattern. The writing I do for my blogs is daily, but short. I’m also working on a Christian romance set in a northern Indiana Amish community in the 1930’s. The first chapter is finished, and now the outline and characters are “cooking” in my mind. A long-term project, started a few years ago for a contest I didn’t win, is a retelling of Icelandic Sagas for young readers. It’s waiting on the back shelf until my youngest graduates from our homeschool and I’m not teaching anymore. Meanwhile, I pick up an Icelandic Saga to read once in awhile…And then the final project, and the one with the tightest deadline, is a book on homemaking skills written for girls. I’m the “contributing writer” – the project really belongs to Marmee Dear of the Homemaker’s Mentor (www.thehomemakersmentor.com/index.php). It’s a fun project, and I’m enjoying helping Martha work it up.

I’ll try to keep you updated on the various projects as we go along!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Telling the Story – What is a story?

In school we were taught to write – or at least, someone attempted to teach us to write. Usually what we learn in school are the mechanics of writing: how to write a sentence, how to construct a paragraph, how to write a five paragraph essay. If we go further into the study of English and Literature, we are taught the elements of literature: theme, plot, character, style, genre.

What is missing for almost all of us is a study of what makes a story. That something that makes us pick up a book and continue reading past the first chapter. What is it that draws us in? What makes us care about what happens? What is it about a story that can move us to tears as we read?

The first thing that a story must have is a connection to the one great story – the Story God tells us in the Bible. Some people call this story the “archetype”; some call it the “great myth”. It’s the story that underlies our very being, and we all know it. It’s the story of good vs. evil, the princess rescued by the perfect Prince, the tragedy of death and the glorious joy of resurrection.

Think of your favorite books: The Lord of the Rings, Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, Moby Dick…they all have elements of the one great story. Think about the last book you read, or the one you’re reading now. Rachel’s Garden, the book I reviewed earlier, tells the story of the death and resurrection of Rachel’s hope, faith, and ability to love again.

The next time you pick up a book, look for the Great Story within it – it will enrich your reading!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Book Review: Rachel's Garden by Marta Perry

What a refreshing look at Amish Life! Marta Perry takes us into a world that she obviously loves and respects in her second “Pleasant Valley” novel.

In Rachel’s Garden we learn to know Rachel, who was introduced to us in the first book of this series, Leah’s Choice. In the time between the two books, Rachel’s husband has been killed in a tragic accident, and the Amish community in Pleasant Valley comes to her support. Even with the help of her family and church, Rachel’s winter has been long and dark, but with spring comes a glimmer of hope and the comfort of her beloved plants and garden.

But will Rachel be able to support herself and her three children? Will she be forced to sell the dairy farm that was Ezra’s dream for his children? And in the midst of her struggles, her husband’s best friend Gideon insists on building a greenhouse for her – Ezra’s last gift to her, planned long before his death. Will Rachel ever be able to forgive Gideon for surviving the accident that claimed her husband’s life?

This is a sweet story of forgiveness and love in the aftermath of a great loss. Don’t miss this series! Book Three was published in June 2010 – Anna’s Return.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Promises We Keep

Some of you may have been reading my other blog "Classically at Home" (www.classicathome.blogspot.com) for awhile, but I found that I needed to add a new blog for an entirely different reason.

While Classically at Home gives me a place to share my thoughts on homeschooling and homemaking, there's a promise I made to myself more than 35 years ago. That promise was that I would live my life as a writer. Yes, I write all the time, and my other blog lets me write about my life, but this blog is to serve another purpose.

Love's Promise Kept will be my blog about writing, and reading, and sharing my adventures as I keep this promise I made to myself. And as I review books and share about the books I'm writing, you'll see that keeping promises is a huge part of what I live for. After all, isn't the greatest promise of all the one God makes to us in His Word?

So be sure to visit Classically at Home for my thoughts on the part of my life that takes up most of my time, but tune in here to share what takes up most of my inner life.