Tuesday, August 30, 2016

David: lessons in faith, forgiveness and accepting God's plan

David is considered one of the greatest men in the Old Testament. From his humble beginnings as a shepherd boy, he was chosen by God to be become king. He is a poet, writing many of the 150 Psalms. He slayed the giant Goliath when no one else dared to try. He would be an ancestor of Jesus. His son, Solomon, would be known as the wisest king in the world. However, he was also a liar, adulterer and a murderer. Despite his flaws, David was considered a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). Through his strengths and weaknesses, his successes and failures, we can learn from David’s example. God looks in our heart first when calling us to serve. Forgiveness of our sins does not remove the consequences of sin. Accepting when God answers our prayers with “no” for He has something greater planned for us.

First, God sees our heart when calling us to serve. In David, God saw a man who had an unwavering faith. In David, God saw a man who loved him and wished to serve him to the best of his abilities. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God tells Samuel “…the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” when He called David to be the anointed king. God saw that David’s heart sought Him. He trusted Him and worshipped Him in all he did. David was outraged that Goliath, the Philistine, dared dare defy God (1 Samuel 17:26). David saw a mortal man defying almighty God. He knew he would not fight alone. God would fight with him. 1 Samuel 17:46, David says “…I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” And when David was successful, he attributed his success to God. Not his own strength or cunning but to God. When the ark was returned to Jerusalem, David danced and leaped in front of the ark as it entered the city. His wife, Michal, would despise him due to his actions and confront David about his behavior. David replies, “It was before the Lord….I will celebrate before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21). You may ask, what does David’s faith have to do with me? David was the youngest son of a shepherd but God saw in his heart a desire to serve him. God made him king of Israel. He became a very important ancestor in the genealogy of Jesus. I believe that God will reward us beyond our wildest dreams for our faith and desire to serve Him.

Second, forgiveness of our sins does not remove the consequences. The best example of this is David’s affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. As told in 2 Samuel 11-12, King David sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing one night. He sends for her to his room where he sleeps with her, knowing full well that she is another man’s wife (2 Samuel 11:3-4). When David gets word that Bathsheba has become pregnant, he tries to cover up his sin by bringing Uriah home from the battlefield to sleep with his wife and trick him into thinking he is the father (2 Samuel 11:6-13) When this fails, David sends Uriah to the front line where the fighting is the fiercest (2 Samuel 11:15) and Uriah is killed. David later marries Bathsheba and she gives birth to a son. Nathan, the Lord’s prophet, comes to David and confronts him. David immediately seeks forgiveness and he is forgiven but the consequence of his sin will be the death of his son. (2 Samuel 12:3-4). Sin has irreversible consequences. The saying “it is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission” simply isn’t true. “I’m sorry” doesn’t erase the hurt and devastation caused by a sin. You may ask why the child had to die. To me, the child’s death was a greater punishment to David than his own. Knowing the consequence could be the death of an innocent child. Therefore, be quick to seek forgiveness and confess our sins but be prepared for consequences of those sins.

Third, accepting when God answers our prayers with “no” is one of the hardest aspects of faith. Despite his faith and heart for God, David was not allowed to build a temple for the ark, a “home” for the Lord. David wanted to build a place for the ark of God, which remained in a tent while David lived in a palace (2 Samuel 7:2). The prophet, Nathan, tells him to go ahead and build the temple but receives a message from God that that was not his desire (2 Samuel 7:3-16). In this message, the Lord tells David that his job is to unite the people of Israel as one nation. This task would require a great deal of David’s time and energy and a great deal of bloodshed as he would defeat Israel’s enemies. And David’s son will build the temple (2 Samuel 7:12-13). David’s request was good. He had the best intentions when he wanted to build a temple for the Lord. But the Lord had a greater plan for David and told him no. When I pray, even though I desire God to tell me yes, I always remember that God answers prayers in three ways: yes, no and not yet. It takes great faith to hear “no” or “not yet” as God has a greater plan for me in my future. Maybe I am not ready for my request to be fulfilled. Maybe He sees something else in my future, something better than I was asking for. Whatever the reason for God’s answer, I know that when He answers “no,” He still loves me. There have been many times when I prayed for something and it didn’t happen. However, down the road I was blessed with something greater and better. I know it was God finally saying “yes.”

In conclusion, David was a great man of faith who performed great feats for the Lord. He had a heart to serve God and a faith to help him in uncertain situations. However, he was a man who faltered and sinned. No matter what his sin was, he was quick to confess his wrongdoings and seek forgiveness from God. We can see David’s life as an example of how a faithful man lives. He wasn’t perfect. He failed, he sinned but he always sought after God. He lived a life to please God and not others. He also accepted when God answered his prayers with “no.” Can you imagine what blessings God could bestow on us if we had a heart and faith like David’s? If we were quick to confess our sins and seek forgiveness? And if we were more willing to accept God’s “no” as an answer to our prayers? 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Valley: a story of a new beginning in a Virginian valley

The Valley by Helen Bryan is book one of The Valley Trilogy. After the death of her father, Sophia Grafton faces a choice: live in poverty in England or move to the colonies where her father has a tobacco plantation. She chooses to take her chances with the plantation. Only once she get there, she realizes the plantation and life in the colonies isn’t at all how it was convened to her. She begins to carve out a living with a ragtag group of freed slaves, traders and other who don’t fit elsewhere. Together they fight Indian attacks, disease, and the dread slave snatchers. Will Sophia be able to make her plantation a success? Will she survive the wild wilderness of the Americas?

The Valley is an interesting story of a beautiful valley in Virginia. It is filled with wonderful characters, beautiful scenery amd action of life on a homestead. The last few chapters were confusing as to how they fit into the story. My conclusion is that the end of the book will connect with book 2 of this trilogy. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy The Valley. I recommend this book as beautiful story of the people who lived here in the beginnings of our country.

The Valley is available on Amazon.com

In paperback, on the Kindle and Audible

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pierced by the Sun: a murder mystery

Pierced by the Sun by Laura Esquivel is a mystery which centers on a woman who must solve the mystery while battling her own demons. Lupita is a police officer who was in charge of the protection of Licenciado Arturo Larreaga, a local politician. The night ends with his murder and Lupita lost about how it could have happened. Lupita returns home in a daze and unsure of how to proceed. She spends the next few days reliving her past, fighting her demons. Since she witnessed the murder of Larreaga, she becomes a target of the corrupt Mexican government. They want to make sure she stays silent about what she knows. Can Lupita escape the danger? Will she be able to put the past behind her?

Pierced by the Sun was a very hard book to read. It was a lot introspection and not a lot of interaction between characters. The book promised action, mystery, an interesting story. Unfortunately, it failed. I really didn’t care about Lupita, her issues or her struggles of her fight to escape. I’ve read many books with characters like her: deeply failed and struggles with demons but they still seemed to care about the world around them on some level. And I didn’t feel that with Lupita. If you are a fun of Esquivel’s books, you may like Pierced by the Sun. However, I cannot recommend it. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Great new additions to the "If you were me and lived in..." series!

Another round of wonderful books by Carole P. Roman. This books are a wealth of information for young children. If you were me and lived in… series has opened the world to children about countries they may never visit and now she has included history lessons about eras long ago.

First, the Middle Ages. The book introduces the period known as the Middle Ages and the daily lives of those who lived during this time. There is information about the communities in which people lived, the jobs which were performed and the everyday homes. The food, drink and clothing which were a part of daily life were discussed. At the end of the book, there is a list of important people from the Middle Ages as well as a glossary of terms which were introduced in the book.

Second, Ancient China. The book focused on the era of the Han Dynasty (206 BC until 220 AD), the longest dynasty and known as the Golden Age of Ancient China. The importance of the Silk Road was discussed as an important trade route to China. In addition to discussion about the food, the homes and the family dynamics, the importance of the colors in which clothes were made are discussed. Red indicates joy and happiness while white was a color of mourning. And yellow was reserved for the emperor only. Religions, important holidays and lucky (and unlucky) numbers in Ancient Chinese cultural were discussed as well.

Third, the American West. The book focuses on an important part of the American Expansion and the Oregon Trail and the pioneers who settled the West with the Great Migration of 1843. Life on the trail was hard as the dangers of disease and Indian attacks were a constant worry. Once at their destinations, the pioneers would build their homes. Readers will be introduced to the homestead community including the schoolhouse and how education was conducted as the families built their homes and towns. The book includes a list of important people of the American West including Wyatt Earp.

Fourth, a book which covers the country of Brazil. With the Summer Olympics completed, this book is a great opportunity to introduce children to the host country. Brazil is the largest country in South America and is the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world. They are the largest producers of coffee and the Amazon Rainforest and the Amazon River are contained with the country.

Ms. Roman has brilliantly made a series of book which presents information in a fun and entertaining manner. The information is simply presented but grabs the attention of the readers. These books are great additions to any school or family libraries as children begin to explore history and the world. I highly recommend these titles and other titles in the If you were me and lived in… series! 

All title in this series are available on Amazon 
in paperback for $19.99
or free with KindleUnlimited 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Sicilian Veil of Shame: the heartbreaking sequel to Rented Silence

The Sicilian Veil of Shame is the second book in the African Freedom Series by Lucia Mann. It is a continuation of the story readers were introduced in Rented Silence. In this book, Brianna follows her maternal grandmother’s story from Sicilia to a Nazi concentration camp to Africa back to Sicilia. The story tells the story of Maria Teresa Genovese, the only daughter of mafia boss of the powerful Genovese family. Her life was changed forever on the night of her 10th birthday when she was kidnapped from her bedroom. As the ransom plans don’t go as plan, Maria is soon sold to a brothel where she is soon sent to Auschwitz. She experiences the horrors of the infamous camp and set free when the camp is liberated on January 27, 1945. Brianna hears her grandmother’s story while trying to piece together the strange events which are occurring in the house. Can she find the secret that Maria is finding? Will she be able to find peace after learning her family’s torrid history?

The Sicilian Veil of Shame is a horrific story of the atrocities that human beings imposed of those they think are less than them. I didn’t find the book as emotional or horrifying as Rented Silence; however, it was still heartbreaking to read about a story of Maria’s trials. The things people have done and will do to others is beyond comprehension. The ending is shocking and leads to a possible third book to explore more of atrocities which happened around the world and still happen today. I highly recommend The Sicilian Veil of Shame.

The Sicilian Veil of Shame
Is available on Amazon

In paperback for $17.95

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Kite Runner: a story of forgiveness and redemption

The Kite Runner is the first novel by Khaled Hosseini. It starts in Afghanistan before the country was torn apart by politics, racial prejudice and war. As a young boy learns about the world around him and the delicate balance between doing what is right and staying quiet out of fear. The story opens in December 2001, as a man muses that the past never stays buried. As it has a way to crawl to the present. Amir lives with his widowed father, their servant, Ali, and Ali’s son, Hassan. It seems to be an idyllic life until July 17, 1973 when the king is overthrown and a new government is established. By March 1981, Amir and his father must leave the country and become refugees on their way to America. Once in America, Amir learns to make a new life for himself. He goes to college and even gets married. His life goes smoothly until he receives a letter which will turn his life around and send him back to his homeland in search of forgiveness and redemption.

The Kite Runner is the second novel I’ve read by Khaled Hosseini and his storytelling ability is wonderful. I love this descriptions of Afghanistan before it was torn apart and you can almost imagine it was life in America. As many people in America, I didn’t know much about Afghanistan until 9/11 and Mr. Hosseini’s writing brings a beautiful country to life, brings it’s people to life and brings the long series of events which led to the country status now, to heartbreaking light. I highly recommend The Kite Runner.

The Kite Runner

Is available at all major booksellers

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

One Hundred Years of Marriage: life and marriage through the years of one family

One hundred Years of Marriage by Louise Farmer Smith is a story of one family’s journey through life’s ups and downs, marriage good times and bad times. The story opens in 1960 as Patricia, the narrator, is home from college to take care of her mother, Alice, who is ill. She is trying to figure out what is wrong her mother as she tries to figure out her own future with her boyfriend, Tom. The story then turns to the past to1934, when Alice meets her future husband’s family. The story then turns to the past again to 1923 when Alice was a little girl. And then to the past again to 1894 and this is where I stopped.

I couldn’t finish One hundred Years of Marriage. I was too bored with the story. There were way too many characters to try to keep track of without any real indication about who they were. Maybe it would have been revealed later in the story about how it all fit. I also felt the going back in time exasperated my confusion. The mystery behind Alice’s illness was the link that connected the different marriages through Patricia’s maternal family but it wasn’t enough to hold my interest. If the story peaks your interest, you can check it out. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t hold my interest.

One Hundred Years of Marriage
is available

at major booksellers

Sunday, August 14, 2016

People to be Loved: where some Christians are getting it wrong

People to be loved by Preston Sprinkle is a pastor’s search to the truth about homosexuality in the Bible. He investigates the verses which are commonly used to condemn homosexuality as well as the cultural and historical settings the verses were written in. Mr. Sprinkle goes through each verse in the Bible which mentions homosexuality and breaks it down through the original language, the cultural settings in which it was written and makes a decision if the verse condemns homosexuality or not. Through the Old Testament verse and the New Testament verses, he makes the decision that homosexuality is a sin. However, it is a sin just as lying, murder, and many other acts are. Mr. Sprinkle is very clear that just because homosexuality is a sin does not mean that Christians can condemn the LGBT community as abominations. While he spends a great deal of time discussing homosexuality in terms of the verse, he also takes more time to discuss why the LGBT community are still people who deserve to be shown Christ’s love.

As a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is a sin; however, I have never treated members of the LGBT community with condemnation and fear. I know many people who are homosexual and I have treated them with nothing but kindness and respect. While reading People to be Loved, I felt Mr. Sprinkle was trying hard to find verses which approved of homosexuality. However, as I read I realized that he was not. He was asking the Christian community to love and respect homosexuals. As he writes “Love doesn’t mean affirming one’s behavior” and “Love means accepting one’s humanity without affirming everything they do.” Affirming means to agree. I can love my friends and family without agreeing with their life choices whatever that may be. I believe this is Mr. Sprinkle’s purpose for this book. Love each other, recognize each other’s humanity and leave everything else to Christ. I recommend People to be Loved for anyone who may question what the Bible really says about homosexuality.

People to be Loved

Is available at major booksellers

Friday, August 12, 2016

Remember: a love story

Remember by Isabelle Jardin, translated by Jaime McGill, is a beautiful love story between two unlikely people. When tragedy strikes the world, their love is put to the test. The story opens as a young woman writes down her story. 

Leah Holst runs a small shop which serves the boating community in Germany. There she meets the handsome Connor Breckwohld and immediately catches his eye. In the off season, she heads home to Hamburg. It's here that their relationships begins slowly as Leah is weary of the handsome millionaire but soon they are both caught up in their attraction. They both fall deeply in love, battle family pasts and secrets and overcome any adversity. They begin to plan their wedding when tragedy strikes. Connor was conducting business in the World Trade Center when the planes hit on that fateful September morning. While she anxiously awaits news of Connor, she fears the worst. When Connor is found, Leah and his family suffer another blow. Connor has been seriously injured and doesn’t remember Leah. Leah must now find a way to reintroduce herself to Connor. Will she be able to help him knowing that he doesn’t remember her? Will Connor regain his memory? Will they be able to have the life together they dreamed about?

I loved Remember! It is a great book with a beautiful love story. I enjoyed reading about a part of the world I’ve never been and reading how September 11th affected everyone, not just the citizens of the US. The story is romantic and sensual with real conflicts. There are so many part of the book that I enjoyed but I fear talking about them would spoiler major reveals in the story. I highly recommend Remember.

is available at
major booksellers in

paperback and ebook

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Things We Knew: one family's healing begins

The Things We Knew by Catherine West is a story about one family’s healing after their mother’s tragic death and the secret which sent them running from their home. Except one stay behind. Lynette Carlisle is 24 years old and lives in her childhood home with her father, Drake, on Nantucket. Her childhood crush, Nick Cooper, had returned home after leaving suddenly 5 years before. Lynette soon realizes that her father’s failing health and the home’s deterioration is too much to bear and she reaches out to her siblings for help.  Soon her older brothers and older sister, reluctantly come home and they realize that they are all hiding secrets, past and present. Together, with a plan to turn their home around, the siblings begin to heal from the past until Lynette begins to remember the night her mother died. Soon the siblings are confronted with the past in ways they never thought they would have to face.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Things We Knew as it dealt with domestic violence, drugs, and marital issues in an honest and open matter. Things were not glossed over and sugar coasted. The story was filled with twists and turns which left you hooked until the final chapter. I even loved the ending as the family isn’t completely healed but definitely on its way. I recommend The Things We Knew.

The Things We Knew
is available at

major booksellers

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Story Traveler: an adventure between reality and stories

The Story Traveler by Max Candee is a fantastical adventure set at a boarding school with a very dark history. After the sudden death of her parents, Haley Spade’s reluctant grandparents send her to the George Hamilton Academy. There she makes quick friends who dare her to spend the night in the main hall after she refuses to believe in ghosts. She does and she quickly learns that her friends set her up to see the ghosts. After she caught her friend, Oliver Slater, in the building, they are both soon whisked away to many different amazing worlds and met extraordinary characters. But there is a monster who is trying to get to their world and they need to stop him. Will Haley and Oliver be able to return to their world?

The Story Traveler is a fun adventure across worlds of mythical and magical origins. With twists and turns, suspense and wonder, this story opens itself to many more adventures. I can’t give too many details without giving away the surprise when new characters are introduced but I found each character to be fun and fitting to their place in the adventure. I recommend The Story Traveler for young adults and any reader who enjoys adventures in strange new worlds.

The Story Traveler
Is available on the Kindle
For $2.99 or free with KindleUnlimited 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Leaving Independence: a beautiful story of a journey on the Oregon Trail

Leaving Independence by Leanne W. Smith is a story of one woman’s bravery and determination to better herself in the aftermath of the Civil War. Abigail Baldwyn is faced with a tough choice. The carpetbaggers are after her house and she learns that her husband is still alive and serving the Army in the West. Wondering why her husband never came home after the war, she decides to leave her home and join her husband with their four children. She arrives in Independence, Missouri, the starting point of the Oregon Trail, and begins to make preparations for the long journey. There she meets Hoke Matthews, a quiet and mysterious man who joins the wagon train as a team leader. On the trail, she and the wagon train meet with disease, tragedy and danger. Then danger strikes Abigail and Hoke must track her movements to rescue her from someone who plans to do her harm. Will he reach her in time? Will she discover the truth about her husband’s absence? Will they make it to the end of their journey?

I thoroughly enjoyed Leaving Independence! It reminds me of another book with a similar theme; however, this book had its own drama, twists and turns. Even though certain events were obviously going to happen, I still gasped and cheered when they did. It was a great story for the brave men and women who risked the unknown to venture to a new home and life in the American West. I highly recommend Leaving Independence.

Leaving Independence

Is available at all major booksellers

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Love in Exile: family saga torn apart by war, politics and forbidden love

Love in Exile by Ayse Kulin, translated by Kenneth Dakan. It is a family saga told between 1903 and 1941 during turbulent times in Turkey. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Balkan Wars and World War I, families were torn apart by politics and war. It is also a love story of two people who must find a way to be together despite their families’ differences and objections. Sabahat Yedic is a beautiful and intelligent woman who wants to peruse her education despite the cultural expectations that she finish. She has the drive and stubbornness to stand up against cultural expectations to follow her dreams. Raised in a Muslim family, she believes her life is meant to be more than just a good marriage and children. She convinces her family to let her continue her education. She meets the handsome Aram, a young Armenian Christian man who matches her desire for knowledge. They soon fall in love and despite their families’ objections, they defy traditions and risk everything to be together. Will Sabahat and Aram finally have the life they dream of? Or with culture, politics and war keep them apart?

Based on the author’s own family history, it is a beautiful of star-crossed lovers. The descriptions of the time and of the city of Istanbul helped bring the story alive and the story felt real. I felt as if I was there. However, there were many minor characters with no real sense of who was who and how they fit in the story. My advice is to read slowly, soak up the families, the cultures, the place and the upheaval of the time. I recommend Love in Exile for those who enjoy stories with twists and turns of historical times and a story of love conquering all.

Love in Exile
Is available at all major booksellers