Friday, September 11, 2015

Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae -- Guest Book Review

Lynzie and I are gone to England so my friends are running the show! I'm so excited to welcome my friend Jennifer as a guest blogger today! Jennifer was my roomie when I went to England in 2013 and is one of my dearest friends. She blogs at Chickadee Manor.

In Sarah Mae’s latest book, Longing For Paris, she writes about her longings to experience the beauty and culture of Paris and her search to find out if her dreams and longings are Biblical or simply selfish desires.  As she explores the idea of longings we are presented with an amazing picture of God’s love for us and the love and intention He had when He formed each of us in our mothers' wombs.  Many of us have stifled or sacrificed our dreams and longings along the way and yet these feelings and desires still surface again and again.

I’ve been so concerned with being “right” and “good” that I never stopped to contemplate the heart of my Father and His pleasure over the things that stir my heart…He designed me.  He put the very ability to long in my soul.  He gave me the gift of dreaming so I could have vision in this life. – Sarah Mae

Longing For Paris offers up practical ways that we can bring our longings into our everyday lives.  While most of us don’t have the resources to travel the world with our families or drop our day to day existence to experience the exotic, we can nurture the individual longings that God has placed in our hearts.  This book is an encouragement to be in communion with our God and to both cultivate the longings He has placed within us and to give those back to Him so that He is glorified in our lives.  It is a call to appreciate our surroundings in the life stage we are currently in and to live our lives fully awake.  

We can choose to trust God with our dreams and longings because He is a loving Father who wants the best for us and who delights in us, especially when we are shining our lights brightly, being the people He designed us to be. 

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that the God who holds it is good. – Sarah Me

I felt refreshed and inspired by Longing For Paris and felt that my perspective on life was that much brighter after being reminded of God’s care in uniquely creating each one of us.  Sarah Mae encourages us to live authentically and to realize that nothing on earth will fully satisfy us because we were made for heaven in all of its perfection.  The glimpses of beauty and wonder we see on earth remind of us of how wonderful our eternal home will be and that one day we will be completely fulfilled at last.

Jen is happily married to Dwayne and together they have five sweet kiddos - two sons and three daughters.  She hails from Canada’s Northwest Territories where they make a life enjoying the great outdoors, homeschooling, running a family business, and trying all sorts of creative pursuits.  Her blog, Chickadee Manor, captures some of the fun and beauty in the world around her.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Tale of Despereaux By Kate DiCamillo -- Guest Book Review

Lynzie and I are having a blast in England. She helped me out a little before we left by writing up this guest book review to share with you all. Lynzie blogs at Thoughts From a Young Writer.

This book has enchanted me since the day I read it. I checked it out from the library, curious about what it would be like. I then fell in love with it, and recently read it for the fourth time!

The story is about a little mouse named Despereaux Tilling, the youngest of the Tilling family. He was not very smart, and looked funny with his large ears. He comes upon a story, one day, about a young princess, and soon decides that he will be a hero too! He meets a real princess above the castle named Pea and falls in love. But to his horror, the first and most followed rule was broken: no mouse must appear before a human. Despereaux is then sent to the rat-infested dungeon, where he fights off rats and darkness to save the Princess from the evil rat, Roscoro.

A young girl named Miggery Sow also appears in the story. She is a young maid who desperately wants to become a princess, after sighting Pea years before. She teams up with Roscoro and kidnaps the lovely Pea, forcing her to teach Miggery how to be a princess.

This story is full of light, rats, perfidy, soup, and quests. My favorite part is when Despereaux meets the princess and calls the King’s music, “heaven”, and “honey”.

I also have a few favorite quotes, such as this one in chapter three:

“Despereaux looked down at the book, and something remarkable happened. The marks on the pages, the “squiggles” as Merlot referred to them, arranged themselves into words, and the words, and the words spelled out a delicious and wonderful phrase: Once upon a time.”
“Reader, you may ask this question; in fact you must ask this question: Is it ridiculous for a very small, sickly, big-eared mouse to fall in love with a beautiful human princess named Pea?
The answer is…yes. Of course, it’s ridiculous. Love is ridiculous.
But love is ridiculous.
But love is wonderful. And powerful.”

Also, chapter forty-five: 

“Cook turned away from him. She put the candle down, and picked up her spoon and started to stir. “Oh,” she said, “these are dark days.” He shook her head. “And I’m kidding myself. There ain’t no point in making soup unless others eat it. Soup needs another mouth to taste it, another heart to be warmed by it.”

This book is truly amazing and cannot be put down. It would be a great book to go on a wish list.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins -- Guest Post

Thanks to mom for filling in this week while Lynzie and I are in England. I loaned her my copy of The Moonstone and was thrilled to hear her thoughts on it!

I just finished reading one of the best mystery novels of all time. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins was first published in 1868. This talented author was born in London in 1824 and published more than twenty six novels in his career, making him one of Britain's most popular writers. He compares, without a doubt, to other accomplished writers such as, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens, whom he actually met and became friends with in 1851.

This entertaining story is set in a comfortable English country home in the year 1848. It is told in the first person words of several of the main characters, each telling their story regarding a missing valuable diamond which was gifted to the lady of the manor's daughter, Rachel, at her eighteenth birthday party.

I loved the mix of characters and respected Gabriel Betteridge the most for his honesty in all things. He was the elderly house steward who was outspoken and kept to his convictions at all times. His constant reading of Robinson Crusoe was an adorable addition to this story.

Sargent Cuff reminded me of an old fashioned "Columbo" from the 1960's and 1970's "whodunit" TV show starring Peter Falk. All Mr. Cuff needed was a glass eye and a rumpled coat to complete his look!

The fanatic Miss Clack was the classic copy of some women I have known who will never take no for an answer. I am sure she invented Obsessive Compulsive Disorder before anyone even knew what OCD was. I love how she decided to leave her hoard of tracts to Rachel as a legacy in her will!
I have to say, the ending of this book was perfect and I was shaking my head at how easy the task of guessing who the thief was should have been. This author did a great job of keeping me guessing.
I would recommend this suspense-filled detective story to anyone, young or old, who enjoys a good mystery!