This book resonated with me because like the main character, Stacey, I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but also struggle with my own personal demons--being bipolar. I understood the mental torment, a life of secrets, the pain of uncertainty in relationships with even friends, the pain of making poor choices and suffering the consequences, the mental confusion of memories.
The book contains raw, stark reality right from the beginning. The author doesn't disguise the agony in Stacey's mind by painting pretty words. She tells the story truthfully without apologies. I'm not certain all the intimate details were necessary to convey the message she was sharing. For me, the struggle inside her mind as she strove to come to some type of peace within herself was more important than all the outside events, even the events that ultimately led to her mental imbalance.
What I found most valuable was the glimpse of the inner turmoil, how she suffered, stumbled through recovery, and how healing took time and wasn't as smooth as the reader would have liked it to be. In addition to this, her husband/pastor wasn't perfect either, but was willing to stand by his wife of 20 years helping her when he was able, and going through some shifts in his attitude as well.
I understand how difficult it is for a sufferer to recognize when their mental grasp on life is distorted and their perceptions of life events are skewed. From personal experience, I know how hard it is to come to the point where we admit we need help from an outside source---that we can't heal ourselves. I also realize that the recovery process is not perfect. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome. Personality conflicts, toxic relationships, well-meaning acquaintances, co-workers, the church family and our own blood families all muddy the waters making recovery a difficult, time-consuming process. I so identified with the main character when people, events, and even she herself got into the way of her recovery.
I would love to see this work edited to remove the mechanical barriers of improper grammar and punctuation, unclear expressions, and tightening up of events so that this book would appeal to a greater number of readers. This story could be such a great tool in aiding others in their recovery.
The First Miracle
on March 14, 2013
The little boy has a new drum. But because there's a baby in the house, he has to keep quiet. Aaron feels he will burst if he doesn't get a chance to play his new drum soon! A couple days later, daddy said he would take Aaron to town with him. It was time to pay taxes. Aaron was so excited. He was able to play his drum the entire way in to town.
He thought about his little brother, Samuel. He was always fussy and cried so much. It looked as if he were in pain. He even was allow to play his drum quietly for the baby, and it seemed to quiet him a little. Mother was pleased. When they reached town, so many people were milling around. Something exciting was happening. Everyone was talking about it.
What an enjoyable and sweet short story. I get the impression a young person wrote this. If so, they did a great job since this is a bit of a historical fiction. This writer definitely has a lot of potential. I felt right there enjoying Aaron's adventure.
on March 26, 2013
This is a lovely short story. Most of the story is written from Abe's point of view. As a Christian young man, he was pondering his future, when his friends ask him to go to the movies with them. Before the movie started, he went to the concession stand to buy some snack food and met with a former girlfriend, Ann. They had always had a comfortable relationship, and he began to wonder why they had drifted apart.
One night Abe had a dream that featured Abraham Lincoln. It moved him to seek out original stories about the former President. He could feel the tug in his heart, that he had a purpose to fulfill, possibly something to do with re-telling Abe Lincoln's story the way it really happened. It was only months later that he enrolled in college.
While he was working on a research paper, he read how Abe Lincoln lost his first sweetheart. He began to think of Ann and suddenly wanted to call her and talk with her. Perhaps they weren't too young after all.
Included in this book are references and links to stories of Abe Lincoln. I enjoyed reading the story, but I would not call it a romance. In this case, the romance was just budding, but there was little interaction between Abe and Ann to qualify. Instead, the character Abe was featured and it was his growth within, the maturing of a young adult, that move the story forward.
Two hurting people, Sara Little and Christopher Lake. Sara is from England, an orphan whose mother died when she was twelve. Her father is unknown to her. In the late 1800's, all an orphan could expect from life was continual servitude. Christopher and his wife lived in Richmond, Virginia and owned a prosperous art gallery. They made it their mission in life to try to give someone a new start in life by sponsoring them. Christopher's sister and brother-in-law were often involved by scouting out someone for them to assist. This time, they learned about Sara and recommended her as their new recipient.
Sara's life had been a series of hardships. Her mother was a ladies' maid and life was wonderful when she was alive. But after her death, Sara bounced from employer to employer every few months; no one trusted an orphan. Often the recipient of verbal abuse, Sara's last employer too often made unwanted physical advances on her. Finally, she ran away to stay with a priest, a friend of her mother's, determined to start anew by going to American. Two years later she finally earned passage on a ship to New York.
Christopher Lake met Sara when she arrived in Richmond by train. It didn't take long before she realized that Chris's beloved Carla had died nearly two years before and he hadn't properly grieved for her. But he was determined to sponsor Sara as he and his wife had planned on when she was alive, especially after he discovered Sara's talent as an artist. She made friends with little Gwen, Mr. Lake's daughter, and with his sister and brother-in-law Dix and Paul. She became a long-term guest in his sister's home. It took Sara quite
awhile for her to get used to being on the receiving side of the serving tray. She even had a maid of her own. None of this turned her head, or made her proud.
What's impressive about Sara is her strength of character. Hardship and unfair treatment growing up had not embittered her or made her angry. It seemed to fortify her faith in God and in His faithfulness. He was her fortress and strength and she drew upon that source often while endearing herself with Christopher, his household and staff, the gallery staff, little Gwen.
Christopher himself was an artist, but since his wife's passing he had become cynical and angry--at himself, at God, at the world. He had lost his ability to see the images necessary to continue his art. So he withdrew into himself, unable to express his grief and pain in his loss.
When Sara arrived her sweet nature began to work on him, her natural empathy easing his torment. She sensed his need to move on and his inability to do so. She began to share her insights from her own experience in losing a loved one and he listened, if a bit reluctantly at first.
To me, this lovely story is a bit reminiscent of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Not only did Sara help Chris through the grieving process, she was able to reach his frozen heart and release his vision for art again. Her persistence aided his return to a closer relationship with God. Sara herself gained confidence in her new life as her art was exhibited in the gallery and enthusiastically received by the public
and art critics alike. And little Gwen blossomed under the attentions of a loving mother figure. Of course, no steps forward come without some conflict and difficulties.
I love the characters in this story. Sara just climbs into your heart and makes herself right at home. The author did a wonderful job of giving her a cockney accent that adds to her charm. The reader feels empathy for Christopher in his dilemma as an artist who is lost without his muse. Since this is the first book of a series, I can see that there will be more to the story to look forward to in time. I hope
it is soon.
Prince of Alasia
on May 31, 2014
The Prince of Alasia is one of three books in this series written for middle grade and young adults. The books in this series are not necessarily written in chronological order since their events overlap somewhat. The other books are: In the Enemy's Service and The Prince of Malorn. According to a recent post on the author's blog, a fourth book in this group is being worked on now and may be ready for publishing by the end of this year. It will be called The King of Malorn. It seems that The Prince of Malorn is the story of Prince Korram and the events that lead up to the invasion of Alasia. While knowing this story would be helpful in understanding the end portion of The Prince of Alasia, the book can be read and enjoyed on its own.
Jaymin, the young Prince of Alasia, woke up to the sound of clashing swords, yelling and screams. His bodyguard and best friend, Erik, was alert instantly, ready to protect His Highness when Sir Edmend, a loyal member of the King's Counsel, burst into the room with his own bodyguard. The four slipped through the hallways, running for their lives from the enemy attackers. Entering the secret tunnel under the palace, they moved quickly away from the conflict and into the thick woods at the far end. The Prince had only to look at the grimness of Sir Edmend's face to know that his royal family had not escaped alive.
Sir Edmend took the two boys to the remote village of Drall and established living quarters with an elderly woman who had an attic room she was willing to rent to them. Prince Jaymin and Erik were to dress and act like the common village lads to blend in. There they lived as long as it was necessary to stay hidden from the Malornian soldiers.
Jaymin and Erik experienced plenty of adventures trying to avoid the enemy troops stationed in the village. They became adept at dodging around corners and into dark alleys. Eventually it became necessary for them to attend school with the other local children. To blend in, they had to act dull and slow-witted to avoid calling attention to themselves. The Prince did not like living a lie, but he had no choice.
After school hours the two friends sought refuge in the surrounding forest where they practiced their combat skills and continued their physical training. Back in the dismal attic room, they quizzed each other on geography and history and complex mathematics problems to keep their minds sharp and alert. Jaymin was getting his eyes opened to the deplorable living conditions of the poor in his kingdom. The old woman's cooking was wretched and the boys often went hungry because she too often spent the money given her by Sir Edmend on liquor instead of good food. The Prince kept all his observations in the back of his mind, just in case he returned some day to rule Alasia.
I enjoyed reading this action-packed adventure. It is just the kind of story that would appeal to middle grade young people. The author successfully creates a world with just enough historical background to make an interesting world for two young boys to live in on their own. There is a reasonable amount of conflict to keep the Prince and his protector alert but not enough evil to overshadow the atmosphere of adventure.
In addition to the creation of believable circumstances, the author writes warm three-dimensional characters with dialogue that fits the historical context yet easy for a young reader to be comfortable with. Jaymin and Erik's witty and playful interactions allow the reader to get to know the boys and feel the bond between them. I found it easy to see that their friendship would be one that would stay strong over the years ahead.
While the two blended in at school, Sir Edmend disguised himself as a common merchant and scouted the countryside for survivors of the attack. He slipped in and out of surrounding towns to gather information, locating the kingdom's armies and providing them with food and supplies. From time to time he snuck back into Drall to bring information to the Prince and check on him. But suspense turned palpable when it became obvious that the invaders knew the young ruler was still alive and had escaped the palace. The military started scouring the villages for him. The boys barely escaped an attempt to search the school they were attending. Would young Prince Jaymin survive to govern his people?
My favorite character in this book is Erik, the skilled bodyguard. By necessity, the Prince's character was fairly predictable while Erik, in contrast, sparkled with wit. He was wise but mischievous. He was always alert to danger yet a risk taker. He was intelligent but also street smart and a tough and scrappy fighter. His character was the perfect foil for the more serious and cautious Prince. I couldn't help but be drawn to him.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this book from Smashwords on behalf of the author. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”