Posted 11/22/14 at 1:28 PM | Ann Frailey
I met Mr. Pearce at an OSMM Retreat and I enjoyed his talk on Tolkien and Catholicism so much that I decided to buy his book – Race with the Devil. Now I am more impressed with the author than ever. Race with the Devil is an outstandingly honest account of his years as a racist through his conversion years into his current “rational-love” orientated life. There are times when I wonder, much like everyone else, if people can ever really change. Mr. Pearce answers this question unequivocally. The metamorphosis from his youth to his adulthood is transformative not only for the author, but for the reader as well. As a reader, I found myself totally disgusted by his early life, his family, and the culture that he lived in. But before the end of the book, I found myself admitting the humanity of the situation, the honest truth that Mr. Pearce was reflecting in all our darker selves, and the yearnings we all have to be whole, good, and just. Over all, the book was a clarion call: “Awake!” There is more that haunts us than we like to admit and in facing that, we can become transformed toward our better selves.
Posted 11/19/14 at 3:17 PM | Audra Jennings
Imagine being medically trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world — Harvard and Yale — and turning your back on a lucrative medical career in private practice to care for the poor. As Klaus-Dieter John writes in his book, I Have Seen God (Monarch Books/November 27, 2014/ISBN: 978-0857215741/$16.99), it was a dream he and his wife, Martina, shared since before they met. FULL POST
Posted 11/19/14 at 7:41 AM | Ann Frailey
The book, My Battle against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich Von Hildebrand, translated and edited by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby is one of the most interesting and inspirational works I have ever read. The book was designed with a reader like me in mind – someone who loves history but needs explanations about names and background events. I found myself caught up in the personal story as well as thoroughly mesmerized by the social implications not just for this particular epoch in history but for all of humanity throughout history ― including our world today. This is a book I would highly recommend to anyone interested in a gripping biography as well as a social commentary.
The design of the book, which included a very helpful introduction, caught my attention immediately. I was so interested in fleshing out the behind the scenes pictures that I read every note with care and I was relieved that Mr. Crosby saw fit to identify everyone Von Hildebrand mentioned and clarify what certain events referred to. I never found myself at a loss to understand what was happening. In fact, the whole thing read like a suspense novel. FULL POST
Posted 11/18/14 at 7:47 AM | Ann Frailey
A great new book out! Here’s my review:
The Grace of Yes by Lisa Hendey is an extraordinary book for one great reason – it is invaluably honest. There are many “how to” and “self-help” books dishing out advice about everything from eating well to becoming holy, but this book offers well thought out, honest reflections on very basic human experiences including love, marriage, faith, raising children, and living in a work a-day world, and how to make our lives better in a culture that has forgotten our need for our greatest good―God. The Eight Virtues for Generous Living that Mrs. Hendey outlines helps us to ponder how we live―whether we are living intentionally or just floating along from one distraction to another. I especially enjoyed the prayers offered at the end of each chapter. They were clearly sincere, yearnings from the heart, to know, to love, and to serve God better. The Grace of Yes is a book that will echo in the minds and hearts of its readers long after the last page is finished.
Posted 11/17/14 at 3:48 PM | Audra Jennings
Seattle: It could be argued there is no stronger instinct on earth than that of a mother to protect her family. The lengths she will go to do so are explored in The Brothers’ Keepers (RidgeRoute Press/November 17, 2014/ISBN: 9780991401734/ $14.99), written by award-winning journalist and world traveler NLB Horton. FULL POST
Posted 11/15/14 at 12:51 PM | Ann Frailey
Finally it is PUBLISHED! For those who have been following the progress of my work you'll know this has been a challenging year, but Georgios has been a work of love as well as a dedication to my husband , John, who passed away late last year. Georgios is a story about a young man's search for his father, his identity, and his courage in a Roman, Greek, and Celtic world in the year 100 A.D. I pray it brings inspiration to it's readers as John's courage and faith inspired his friends and family.
It is available on Amazon as a paperback now. The e-books will be coming soon. http://amzn.to/1ux0kqi
Georgios was written about a more specific epoch in history than The Deliverance Trilogy. My books deal more with the psychology of the time and the spiritual journey of the characters – which is rather timeless. FULL POST
Posted 11/13/14 at 10:29 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices
I believe that reading books written by other, wiser Christians is one of the most effective ways to grow as a Christian. But with millions of books available and thousands more being written every year, how can you know which ones to read? In order to help you, I compiled a list of thirty books I think that every Christian should read. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, and there are many others that should be on the list, but this should get you started.
Heaven by Randy Alcorn – Given the fact that we will spend eternity in heaven, we should know at least something of what it will be like. Randy Alcorn answers many common questions about heaven and paints a biblical picture of what eternity will be like.
Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett – These Puritan prayers will fuel your personal prayer life with their rich view of God. FULL POST
Posted 11/12/14 at 2:37 PM | Audra Jennings
When family expectations and societal pressures collide with love and faith, which values will emerge the victor? Award-winning author Carrie Turansky explores this theme in her new book, The Daughter of Highland Hall (Multnomah Books/October 7, 2014/ISBN: 978-1601424983/$14.99).
Book two in the Edwardian Brides Series, The Daughter of Highland Hall, follows 18-year-old Kate Ramsey on a journey of self-discovery as she travels to London to make her societal debut. Her overbearing aunt insists she secure a marriage proposal from a wealthy, titled man. As Kate begins making the round of balls and garden parties, she attracts the attention of a man who seems to have all the qualifications on her list. Yet, is he the best choice? Will this lifestyle bring her true happiness?
Q: At the beginning of The Daughter of Highland Hall, readers will find the scripture Matthew 6:33. What is the significance of that verse in the story?
I chose Matthew 6:33, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” as the theme verse for this story because it summarizes the faith journey of the heroine, Kate Ramsey. The novel opens as Kate comes to London for her first season, hoping to make a good impression and find a wealthy, titled husband. She believes this will give her a prominent place in society and secure her future. But when she meets others who have a sincere faith and different goals, everything she has believed is called into question. What is most important in life? How does her faith impact her choices? Kate discovers when she lays down our own plans and seeks God first, He guides her toward the best path for her future.
Q: Your heroine, Kate, is a debutante trying to find her place in society and ultimately a husband. Why will readers be able to identify with her experiences?
Everyone wants to live a meaningful, fulfilling life. That was true in 1912, and it’s true today. Readers will identify with Kate as she faces the challenges of pleasing her family, meeting society’s expectations and trying to understand her own desires and motivations as she looks toward the future. Some of those challenges and expectations may be different today . . . but many are the same, and we can learn from all Kate experiences on her journey of faith and self-discovery.
Q: The Daughter of Highland Hall is your second book in the Edwardian Bride series — what is it about that time period that interests you?
The Edwardian era (1900–1918) is an interesting time of change in England. The class system and cultural influences of the Victorian era were still present, but they were beginning to change. Many modern inventions became popular and impacted people’s lives, such as cars, electricity, airplanes and several time-saving appliances. Those make the Edwardian lifestyle similar to today, and that in turn helps readers relate to the characters and the issues they face.
Q: What first drew you to writing English historical fiction?
I enjoyed watching Downton Abbey and was intrigued by the lifestyle, time period and the upstairs-downstairs aspects of the series. I met with an editor at a conference, and she encouraged me to research the time period and submit a proposal that had a similar feeling but was unique. At first I thought the research would be too difficult. However, Cathy Gohlke, a friend and fellow author, had recently published a wonderful story set in 1912 titled Promise Me This. Cathy encouraged me to accept the editor’s challenge, and she offered me several research books. So I jumped in and discovered I loved the research and enjoyed learning more about this time period in England. The characters and story rose out of the research, and it has been a fun series to write.
Q: You’ve even taken your research efforts all the way to Europe. What were some of the highlights of your trips? Did anything you saw make it into the book?
My husband and I visited England in 2012 and focused our time in Oxfordshire, the Peak District and the Cotswolds. Our tour of Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is set was the highlight of that trip for me. I loved seeing all the rooms where Downton is filmed, including the great hall, the library, the upper gallery and bedrooms. The gardens and greenhouse were lovely, and I had those in mind for several of the scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall. But I wanted to find a unique estate and setting for my books. My online research led me to Tyntesfield, a beautiful estate near Bristol in southwest England. It was a perfect choice. Tyntestfield is featured on the cover of The Governess of Highland Hall, and I used the interior design of this house to help me envision the scenes in my novels.
I was very excited to visit Tyntesfield in May 2014. What a thrill to see all the rooms and take a private tour of the day nursery and the governess’s bedroom! It’s even more beautiful than my online research revealed. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Tyntesfield. I have a Pinterest board filled with photos to help me remember everything I saw there.
Q: How was culture changing during the period in which you wrote, and how does The Daughter of Highland Hall reflect that?
As the Victorian era came to an end, the moral climate became less strict. This is reflected by incidents in both The Governess of Highland Hall and The Daughter of Highland Hall. William Ramsey, the head of the family, is impacted by the choices of other family members and must decide how to respond. The differences between the classes were also changing. Working-class people were less satisfied with being “in service” as maids and butlers, and they wanted increased wages and benefits, putting pressure on the upper class. Taxes, especially death duties, put tremendous financial stress on families who inherited large estates. This plays a role in books one and two in the series. All these changes were even more apparent in the later half of the era because of the changes World War I brought to English society. The Ramsey family and the staff at Highland will be going through World War I in book three, A Refuge at Highland Hall.
Q: Another character in the book, Jonathan Foster, is committed to helping the poor in London’s East End. Was that common practice among physicians during that time? Was that kind of work as respected as it is now?
During the late Victorian and Edwardian eras many people became more concerned for the poor and worked for social change. Some offered practical help, including free and low-cost medical care. One of those who was concerned for the poor and encouraged practical assistance was William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. When he first started his work among the poor he was scoffed at and criticized. But near the end of his life he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford and was respected and admired for his work. When he died in 1912, Londoners lined the streets by the thousands to see his casket pass by. A speech given by his granddaughter, Catherine Booth, is featured in The Daughter of Highland Hall, and it has a great impact on Kate Ramsey.
Q: In Edwardian England, women had fewer options available to them, and marriage was the primary way they could secure their future. Yet books and TV shows such as Downton Abbey, based in this time period, are incredibly popular with women. Why do you think this is?
I think women love the fashions, houses, manners and social customs we see on Downton Abbey. Looking back, it seems like a “romantic” period when men were gentlemen and women were ladies. Life seems simpler, especially if you were from a wealthy family. I don’t think most women today would like to take on the role of a servant in that time period. In fact, there was a reality show called Manor House with that premise. People took on the roles of the family and servants and had to live as the Edwardians did for a period of time. Watching that series was a fun part of my research.
Q: While our modern circumstances will vary from Kate’s, we still face expectations placed on us by our family and society. How can we navigate those expectations while still pursuing God’s best for us?
Balancing our love for our family and our commitment to the Lord is an important issue. Following the principles in Scripture we can find help and guidance. When we are children we are told to obey our parents. As we get older the roles change, but we are still to honor them. That means asking for their input and advice on important decisions and listening to their fears and concerns before we prayerfully make decisions. If we’re married, our mate’s input should carry more weight than our parents’. I think meeting society’s expectations is less important than pleasing the Lord and living in a way that honors Him. Once again, using principles from Scripture and getting input and advice from wise and godly people can help us make the best decisions.
Q: What can readers learn from The Daughter of Highland Hall about the importance of seeking godliness in a mate, rather than looks, financial security or social status?
Both The Governess of Highland Hall and The Daughter of Highland Hall touch on the importance of choosing a mate who has a strong faith and good character. That is still an even more important message today. I hope the issues the characters face and the lessons they learn will challenge and encourage everyone who reads the series.
Q: Kate must ultimately decide what the right thing to do is based on her new relationship with God. How does her faith ultimately guide her?
The influence and examples of people who are strong Christians and who live out their faith in their daily lives have a great impact on Kate. When unexpected events in her family cause her to be excluded from social events, she has time to volunteer at a free clinic in one of the poorest areas of London, and her heart begins to soften and change. Rather than seeing the poor as a mass of humanity, she sees them as individuals who each have a story and needs not so very different than her own. Her growing attraction to a man with deep faith and convictions also has a great impact on Kate’s faith. Ultimately she must weigh her choices and use what she has learned to make important decisions about her future.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away after they’ve put The Daughter of Highland Hall back on the shelf?
I hope my readers will enjoy the journey with Kate and Jon and feel as though they have been transported back to London, England, in 1912. But I also hope they will be drawn closer to God as they identify with experiences Kate and Jon face and the challenges and choices they must make.
Posted 11/12/14 at 1:30 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
Let me tell you a story. A man from Eastern Europe arrives in America, and lives with his poor cousin. His cousin, a poor taxi company owner, has struggled to make his life in America. The man has come seeking revenge against a man who killed his friends during the war, and along his warpath discovers something about love, the futility of the American Dream for the modern immigrant, and the inescapable nature of crime.
What is this story? It’s not from a movie; it’s not some new book. It’s the plot of a video game. That game is Grand Theft Auto IV. Though surrounded in controversy, the game’s story is one which rivals that of a novel. Despite the controversies, video games can’t be ignored anymore. In 2013, the video game industry made almost $15.5 billion. Why is this medium so popular? I argue that it is an emerging art form that, while usually primarily only for entertainment, is more and more becoming an artistic medium. FULL POST
Posted 11/11/14 at 1:59 PM | Audra Jennings
Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin invite readers to turn back the clock to days gone by as they listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow and get to know the Turner family. Each of the three siblings is forging his or her own path in his or her own love story filled with the wonder of Christmas. Hailing from the heart of America in Lafayette, Indiana, these characters will never be the same as the reality of America’s involvement in World War II hits incredibly close to home.
Q: How did the three of you decide to collaborate on a collection of novellas together?
Cara: I’d written in a couple of novella collections and loved the collaborative aspects. Writing is often solitary, but when you’re working on a collection with other writers, you have fun opportunities to work together. I asked Sarah and Tricia if they’d like to work together because I love their World War II stories, and I love their hearts. I also thought this was a sneaky way to get to know them better. It’s so fun now to have a book we’ve written together!
Tricia: The coolest thing about Cara approaching me is that I highly respect both Cara and Sarah for their writing abilities and their love of World War II. There aren’t many people I know who enjoy both of these passions, just as I do, and it was easy to say YES!
Sarah: When Cara invited me to participate, I was thrilled. We all liked the idea of using one family’s experience over the course of the war to tie the stories together.
Q: What themes run through each of the stories in Where Treetops Glisten to tie the book together?
Sarah: In all three of the stories, someone is overcoming grief or loss, and someone is dealing with regrets of the past. Strong themes of healing and reconciliation and hope run through each story. Giving is also a crucial element, which is appropriate for Christmas stories!
Tricia: I also love the use of Christmas songs from that era. The title, Where Treetops Glisten, may be very familiar to readers. Also each novella is named after a popular Christmas tune from those years!
Q: How did the three of you work together to make sure there was continuity between the three novellas?
Sarah: We started in the brainstorming phase, throwing out character and family ideas and making them mesh. Since I’m the nerdy chart-maker of the trio, I made a timeline and a character chart we could use for reference to keep details straight. Also, we bounced ideas off each other throughout the writing process: “Who would Abigail have in her wedding party?” “Does this sound like something Pete would do?” “What would Merry be feeling at this time?” We shared our rough drafts to make sure the details and personalities rang true. The collaboration was challenging since our stories are more tightly connected than in most novella collections, but it was a lot of fun.
Cara: Sarah is the spreadsheet queen. Seriously! After our conference call, Sarah had character and timeline spreadsheets ready for us. We stayed in contact and used those spreadsheets to keep the details straight.
Tricia: There were also many emails that flew back and forth with questions like, “What year was Pete born again?” and “What was so-and-so doing in 1943?” It was fun figuring out this family and these characters together. And then once we figured out the information, Sarah put it in her spreadsheet!
Q: Each one of the three siblings in the books has to chart his or her own path. How is the love of their family a support system for them, even as they make their own life decisions?
Sarah: Pete’s always seen himself as the black sheep of the Turner family — but as a much-loved black sheep. His family was there for him during his wild youth, and they’re there for him when he returns from his combat tour drained of hope and joy. They offer wisdom and humor and encouragement.
Cara: Abigail has keenly felt the shortness and unpredictability of life. Because of it, she’s afraid to chase her dreams or really dare to dream. Her family provides the support and stability to try even when life is something she can’t safely manage.
Tricia: Meredith (Merry) is the wanderer. She is the one who moved to Florida to attend nursing school as soon as she graduated from high school. She’s the baby of the family, and she’s always tried to prove herself. Yet as the years go by, and as Merry finds herself serving as a nurse in Netherlands, she realizes the place she wants to be the most is home — back with the family she loves.
Q: The three novellas are all titled after a Christmas song that became popular during World War II. Can you share a little of the history behind the songs and how they became a part of the book?
Sarah: Since so many great Christmas songs debuted during World War II (“White Christmas” in 1942, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in 1943, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in 1944), I’ve often thought those songs would be a fun way to connect a novella collection, so I suggested it to Cara and Tricia, and they liked it too.
Cara: I loved the idea of using the Christmas carols to connect the stories. So many of those songs are a big part of Christmas even today! But we still had to figure out the rest. Christmas carols alone wouldn’t be enough for three stories to come to life. Once we were all on board, we had a conference call to figure out the rest.
Tricia: I used my song title, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” as an inspiration for my character too. I have a friend named Merry who was born on Christmas . . . so I used that for my novella! Meredith is nicknamed Merry, and her name plays into the story; that song makes its way into the novella too!
Q: World War II was a tumultuous, uncertain time. Why pick that era as the backdrop for a Christmas story?
Tricia: I love World War II, and I always loved chatting with Sarah and Cara about World War II. Our purpose is to remind readers of the importance of family, of home and of togetherness. Even in a time of war we can remain strong because of the love of God and the love of those we serve.
Sarah: Because World War II was so tumultuous, I think Christmas became more important. In the Christmas songs of the era, you hear a wistful nostalgia for white Christmases, for home, for mistletoe kisses, for merriness, for a time when your troubles would be out of sight. The holiday reminded people of home and hearth — exactly what they were fighting for.
Q: What sparked your interest in this particular historical time period?
Cara: I love the way this particular generation came together in a big way to fight a world-size problem. Everybody made sacrifices — sacrifices of even the most basic ‘needs’ like coffee and sugar. And everyone did it. If you talk to members of this generation today, they still insist they didn’t do anything special — yet I think it was heroic.
Tricia: I first became interested in World War II while traveling in Europe with two friends. We went to Mauthausen concentration camp, and I was overwhelmed with the stories. I ended up interviewing more than 100 World War II veterans, and then I started writing World War II novels. It’s been a passion of mine ever since I stepped in that concentration camp. I’ve written other genres, but deep in my heart I’m thankful to be back writing about World War II!
Q: What kind of research did you do before writing your story?
Cara: Because I live in Lafayette, I didn’t have to travel anywhere for research. I already had a friend’s house in mind I thought was the perfect home for this family. Still I had to research details like where the heroine worked, how McCord’s/Glatz makes candy canes, etc.
Sarah: For me, this was a refreshing change. I usually have to do great gobs of rather technical research, but not for this story. I already had a good base of Home Front research, so I just had to research Lafayette — and that was fascinating.
Tricia: Since my novella takes place in Belgium I studied a lot about the field hospitals at the time and the nurses. I also have a friend who lives in Netherlands who shared her uncle’s story with me. He died as part of the resistance. I’m thankful for the foundation I had of my other World War II novels. I enjoyed building upon that.
Q: Did any of you have a special tie to the book’s setting, Lafayette, Indiana?
Cara: Well, I actually live in Lafayette. One of my very good friends owns a historic home near downtown Lafayette, and I’ve known for years it would be the perfect home for a heroine. So when we set the book in Lafayette, I asked Ann if we could use her home. Since I wasn’t sure if anyone else would get to come to town to visit, I sketched out the floor plan and uploaded it to Pinterest so Sarah and Tricia could refer to it — reinforcing why I went to law school and not art school!
Sarah: Oh, my favorite part! I had the privilege of spending a couple of days in Lafayette, staying with the delightful Putman family. Cara — and her four children! — took me all around town. One of Cara’s friends graciously loaned us her home to serve as the Turner home, and she let us traipse through, sketching floor plans and taking pictures. We visited the Alcoa plant, the bridge over the Wabash and the charming downtown area. Driving around the area where I knew Grace would live, we saw the cutest Victorian — for sale! Since I figured they wanted people to look inside, I walked all around, peeked in the windows and took dozens of photos. I also spent a few hours at the local library going through 1943 phone books and newspapers — a treasure trove. And of course, we had to sample the wares at McCord’s!
Tricia: I was honored to travel to Lafayette to speak at a banquet, and Cara was a wonderful hostess while I was in town. We toured downtown and visited McCord Candies (and grabbed a soda there!), and we also visited some antique shops, which really gave me a feel for the area. Cara drove me around to see the home of the characters in the book. It was a delight to see the town come to life!
Q: Each of the characters in this book has to overcome not only personal obstacles, but also cultural conditions he or she has no control over. What lessons can we learn for our own times from their stories?
Tricia: The issue of “cultures” comes up strongly in my novel. Before the war, Meredith had fallen in love with a man from Germany. After Pearl Harbor, he abandoned her and returned to Germany, breaking her heart. Old and new feelings crash within her as their unit prepares to enter Germany. Meredith also cares for German soldiers who are brought into their field unit.
The lessons I hope the reader walks away with is that our nationality is only a part of who we are. Our family situations, and our faith, also make us who we are.
Q: Even just looking at the cover makes the reader want to curl up in front of a fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. What did you do to get in the Christmas spirit as you penned your story?
Cara: I visited McCord’s and watched the staff make candy canes. I also listened to a lot of Christmas carols.
Sarah: That was challenging since I wrote the novella in the summer. In California. But I had brainstormed and outlined the complete story at Christmastime the year before when I was in the Christmas mood. While writing the rough draft, I just had to think cold. And I did hum “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” while I wrote.
Tricia: I listened to wonderful Christmas music on Spotify, and I turned up the air conditioning!
Q: One thread that ties all of the stories together is the siblings’ grandmother. What do they learn from her lessons of wisdom and faith that help develop their own choices?
Cara: Grandma was such fun to write! She was feisty but with a deep love for her family. She provides the perspective of time and experience to each of the siblings — yet in a different way to reflect their unique journeys.
Tricia: I loved including a “grandma” in the story since my Grandma lives with me. I love the unconditional love and snippets of wisdom that come from the older generation.
Q: What is it about the Christmas season that engenders such a strong feeling of warmth and love?
Cara: There’s a freshness and sense of wonder to Christmas. The idea that God would send His son to earth as a newborn is an incredibly humbling thought. There’s also the cleanness of fresh-fallen snow that always makes me think of what Christ did on Calvary. Combine that with great music, tradition and the love of family, and it becomes a magical time where almost anything seems possible.
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