I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

So a while back Cederberg Tea Company was doing a giveaway-you know me and free, I just can’t resist.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

So I commented I wanted Chai tea (as my entry) and won this package of Classic Red, Green Rooibos, Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, Rooibos + Chai, and Rooibos + Ginger.

Now I didn’t pay close attention when I entered the giveaway and didn’t realize it contained Rooibos in it. I avoid Rooibos after I had the one by Tea Forté, and it did not agree with me. I resolved to not drink any again, until I saw that this was Rooibos.

That’s not good.

Well I won it and needed to review it, so I decided to stop wasting time and start drinking some tea.

I drank some…and loved it!

The other one I had must have had something wrong with it or something, because these were fantastic. I expected to like the Chai, but was just blown away by the Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla. I drank it and drank it, until I realized I only had one teabag left.

I mean you know how I feel about Earl Grey Tea:

But I was just drinking Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, at least until it was all gone.

The others were good too, but that one was the best!

Delicious!!!! I know I will definitely be ordering from them in the future.

For more giveaway posts, go to I Won the Madsen Creations Giveaway

For more tea posts, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea.

And eat scones!

Since then I try my best to repeat it whenever I try out new teas. 🙂 As this is Chai teas and Rooibos, I tried to do my best to connect it with books that are set in Africa or India.

Tea #1: Classic Red

This Classic Red was a wonderful tea. It had everything you wanted in it and I enjoyed it so much I finished it before I realized it-picking up the cup to drink some more and finding it empty.

You can tell at first sip why it is a “classic”.

Around the World in 80 Days is one of my favorite books and an amazing classic. It is the story of mysterious, wealthy Phileas Fogg being bet to travel around the world in 80 days. It was to be an interesting challenge-made more so when he is mistaken to be a bank robber and followed by a detective; along with having some people try to sabotage him from winning. It has action, adventure, romance-everything you could want and more! It is a real page turner and keeps you on the edge of your seat to see if Phileas is going to make it or not!

One of my favorite parts is when they go to India and the group rescue Aouda, an Indian princess, from her dead husband’s evil relatives trying to sacrifice her so they can inherit everything. This is a great scene because in it we see Phileas change from his “mechanical” way of being (everything planned and thought out) as he steps out to help, becoming a “classic” hero. I love him and Aouda together-you know me and biracial relationships. A great book and great tea.

For more on Around the World in 80 Days, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

Tea #2: Green Rooibos

This tea was exactly how I expected green tea to taste, no surprises-but I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to have something and know you are going to get exactly what you want to get.

This tea made me think of Death on the Nile. Death on the Nile isn’t my favorite Agatha Christie novel as to me there wasn’t any big surprises or truly innovative or amazing characters (except Cornelia Ruth Robson). But like this tea, sometimes you want the predictable, to get exactly as you expect.

The story is of Linnet, a wealthy woman, who marries her best friend’s boyfriend, Simon Doyle. For their honeymoon they go on a trip through the Nile, and of course run into Hercule Poirot (he never gets a vacation). He sees the former best friend, Jacqueline, threaten them and they ask Poirot for help. He declines, but warns Jacqueline to stop or else she will open herself to evil. She refuses and follows the Doyles on their boat trip on the Nile, joined by 11 other interesting characters. Linnet is found dead (of course), and everything points to the two characters who could not have done it. Who could the murderer be? Poirot is on the case.

For more on Agatha Christie, go to Shame Book Tag

Tea #3: Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla

So I thought I would like this tea, as who doesn’t love vanilla? But OMGoodness I was not prepared for how amazing this tea was. It was so delicious I just drank it and drank it and before I knew it, I had drank it all up. It was sweet, wonderful, and smelled so good.

What I felt for the tea, I felt the same way about this book. When I saw the art deco style cover, I thought I would enjoy this mystery, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it. The story is of Perveen Mistry, female Indian lawyer, in the 1920s. She is sent out to a small princely state to speak to the Dowager Maharani (grandmother) and Maharani (mother) about the young Maharaja’s schooling. She is the only one who can as the ladies are observing purdah (and cannot speak to any men not related to them). Preveen travels out there and finds things are not well in the palace. The Dowager Maharani and the Maharani are both fighting for control, the circumstances of the older brother’s death are very suspicious, and Perveen believes the young prince might be next-especially after a monkey eats her bread and dies. Will Perveen be able to figure out who is responsible in time to save the prince, or will she be next?

Not only is this an intriguing mystery, but Perveen has an interesting and heartbreaking backstory. It was fantastic and so easy to have your attention captured-and keep flipping pages to find out what happens next.

Tea #4: Rooibos + Chai

This was absolutely delicious and just what I wanted in my chai tea-spicy but not too much, sweet but the right amount-i.e everything I wanted. It was so good that after I finished the bourbon one, the chai was gone just like that “snap”.

Like the tea, The Sign of the Four has everything you could want in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. You have a beautiful woman in need (Watson notes she is very attractive [he’s in love with her]), a disappeared father, jewels, a mysterious note, a secret treasure, a peculiar mansion, a villain with a wooden leg, a puzzling death, a bloodhound, and the sign of the four.

It is an amazing mystery, Holmes and Doyle at their finest, and like I said gives you everything your could want. It also is what I believe The Great Mouse Detective was based on, so if you love that movie-you’ll love this book.

For more on Sherlock Holmes, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Tea #5: Rooibos + Ginger

So I didn’t think I would like this tea as ginger tea is often too strong, but this was not overpowering but the right amount. It was enjoyable but still had a bit of a kick to it. It’s not something that I would drink all the time, but is perfect for every now and then or if I have a stomachache.

I felt this book was perfect to pair with it as it is a good story but the sam time has a “kick” to it that gets you thinking…I will actually discuss the book fully below.

So it has been over three months since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.

 

I am 13 books behind…

I know, I know-stop looking at me like that. I just will have to try harder to catch up.

Hmmm…

Anyways…so quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.

So as you all know I started a book club a few years ago, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time our member chose:

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken

So as I read this book 13 months ago, I was hoping to reread it as it had been a while and I wanted to make sure I got the timeline right. So I went to the book from the library…but it turns out the person who checked it out never returned it. Called (I work in the library) and sent notices but the book has not been returned.

Seriously??????!!!!!!!!!!!

I HATE when people do that!!!!!!

I then thought I would ask the other book club member, (one member had borrowed my library book) but she lent it to a friend who never gave it back.

So I’m doing this all based on what I remember from reading this 13 months ago, hopefully this go well. Right now I apologize for anything I write that is wrong.

So the first thing that struck me about this book, was the title. “Insanity of God”? What does that mean? Why did he choose that title?

The story starts off with Nik Ripken (a pseudonym) sharing how he came to know Christ. He was a kid that loved baseball, but God took a hold of his life and set him out on a new path.

He ends up going to a Christian college and meets and marries a pastor’s daughter. After both graduate, they both feel the strong call of the mission field and when they ask to be sent out, they are asked for their qualifications. For Nik, he quotes the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

That part made me laugh so hard.

As Nik hadn’t been raised in church he didn’t know what exactly was being asked. They want to know his education, spiritual journey, youth mission trips, background, etc-but Nik is confident in that the Great Commission tells you to go all throughout the world and he wants to answer the call.

If he was on his own he would have been denied, but his wife knows the lingo and what is being said so they are able to be sent out. They both have a heart for Africa and get sent to Somalia in 1992.

Nik and his wife aren’t able to have a “church” but are sent with an aid group, of which they try and preach to people but find it extremely difficult. Christianity is illegal and having a church is illegal, and anyone who becomes a Christian is often taken away and never seen again. Nik and his wife really struggle with questioning what they are they doing there, is it right being here? Are they helping people?

Things get more unsettled in the country, and the Somali Civil War breaks out. His charity group requests the UN to come take action, and when they do send help, he is one of the people that helps map out the unknown areas of Somalia. I remember him describing the villages and the horror-but one really sticks in my mind. There was a village that was full of kids and had no parents and one of parents with no children, so they went and took the kids to the adults.

Also it was really hard to get the people in need the supplies as the leaders and soldiers would steal them and sell them or use them, and the people would continue to go hungry and without. War is sad and hard.

Ripken’s father didn’t care for him becoming a minister, but when Black Hawk Down came out, he was suddenly proud of his son telling all his friends that Ripken made that happen-the military going in.

The first part of the book was on his mission trip and they later were moved out of Somalia into South Africa, but were moved again. A big milestone in their life and faith was when their son grew ill and because the conditions of their home they lived in aggravated it, their son died. After this, they became heartbroken and returned to the states.

They return to the United States and teach at a bible college to young adults going out into the missions but feel really mixed up. Did they help anyone? Going through trials and tribulations every day was hard and wore them out-how do they keep people going? How do they bloom, survive, and keep going when everything is bleak, when it would be easier to give up and go home?

Ripken then goes on a quest to get this information, to speak to people who have had to go to trials and survived still praising God.

There were two incidents in the quest that really struck me, and I can’t remember their names exactly-but I remember pieces.

The first one took place in Russia. This man was jailed during the communist reign, when Christianity was outlawed and the only religion allowed was the worship of the state. He was thrown in jail-often in isolation, but the thing that kept him going was writing down the word of God. He wrote verse after verse that he remembers, helping to lock it in his brain. The beatings, isolation, lack of food, cold, etc-it was all bearable when he could get a scrap and write something down. That is what got him through.

Ripken later goes to China and their he mets several secret churches, as the church is illegal there. These Christians actually delight in getting thrown in jail or having tribulations, as they feel that is a real marker of being a Christian and consider that is when they go to “school” and recieve their “theological education”. Before anyone can be a pastor they have to have been thrown in prison.

When Ripken leaves he asks what they need and all they want is bibles, a bible. He gives them his and they take the pieces apart and hand them off to different people so they have a book to memorize, and it reminded of how they memorized books in Fahrenheit 451.

It also makes me think of how lucky we are in the United States, how many bibles are available in my home, in my parent’s home, for free, online, in a phone app, etc-and here are people begging for a page.

Wow!

The rest of the book has different stories-and I enjoyed it. It defintely made you realize how lucky you are to be in the United States and how grateful we should be for everything we have, even in the midst of COVID-19.

At the end of the book, I concluded that the insanity was not in reference to God, him being insane, but how we feel as humans. We can only comprehend so much of what God’s plan is with our tiny human brain-it seems insane, but God has a plan for us-a bigger picture.

Hmmm…

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

For more Christian novels, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

For more nonfiction, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties

Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

So it has been a loooooooooooooooooooong time since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.

I am almost a year behind in reviews, but I will do my hardest to catch up.

So quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time was my turn and I chose:

Chasing the Wind (California Rising #3) by Paula Scott

So I was first introduced to Paula Scott when I worked at our local museum. I actually got to meet the her and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.

Then the second book came out and my coworker and I were discussing the series and she told me that she had really enjoyed it. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgotten to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.

I bought the Far Side of the Sea and could not put it down!

So of course I had to share the books with my book club:

So on to the third book:

The first book was the story of Protestant Rachel coming to Catholic California from the East coast, getting an arranged marriage to Roman Vasquez, befriending Roman’s sisters Maria and Isabella, and getting caught up in Bear Flag Revolt.

The second book was about Maria who gets kidnapped by Rachel’s father, raped, joins a shipping company, goes around the Americas, and ends up in the gentrifying/creating the lawful city of San Francisco. The second book is my favorite as it is an amazing story of overcoming trauma, working through past issues and insecurity, redemption, and has a powerful female character.

Chasing the Wind is the third installment and the story follows the path of Isabella Vasquez. Isabella is biracial (Native American and Russian), her mother died when she was a baby and her father, a fur trapper, brought her to Mission San Francisco Solano. There she was adopted by the Vasquez family, adopted cousin to Roman and Maria but raised as their sibling.

In the first book, she is a young girl who is one of Rachel’s first friends, spending time with her and giving her an education on the culture. With the Americans taking California, Isabella’s life is about to dramatically change. In the second book she has grown into a beautiful young woman, headed with her adopted father to the gold fields of Marysville, CA.

Marysville, for many who don’t know, was named after one of the survivors of the Donner Party and was the gateway to the gold fields. It used to be one of the largest cities in CA, a rival to San Francisco (until all the silt went into the river and made it hard for ships to pass through). You could get anything and everything you wanted in Marysville, but it was also a very hard place to live-especially for a woman-especially for a Native American woman. 

Peter Brondi is a mountain man who tamed the west with Kit Carson and John C. Fremont. He fought in the Mexican American War and against Native Americans. In fact he hates Native Americans for the horrors he witnessed and because one stole his father-he married one and had a son with her.

He’s currently searching for his half brother Paul, to bring him home and see their old and dying father. However, there is always time for cards and and he plays them winning the mining camp singer Bluebird-nickname for Isabella Vasquez.

Yes, once Isabella was the daughter of the rich Californio and now she is property-having lost her privilege and status when California changed hands.

I really enjoyed the way Paula Scott dealt with the cultural issues as there are very few books out there that cover this. We have a biracial character, raised in a completely different culture, and trying to navigate the changing culture of the state she lives in while trying to understand the identity of who she is in a world that there are hardly any like her.

Tell you what Isabella it’s almost 170 years later and it still is difficult for biracial and multicultural people.

So it doesn’t matter that Isabella is half Russian-Native American is all the world sees and how they treat her. She was educated, knows how to read and write, and speak multiple languages…but is treated like cattle. She is won by Peter, who is pressured into marrying her by a circuit preacher.

They have a night of passion-with sweet, naive, and young Isabella falling head over heels in love. The next day Peter drops her off at a brothel as he doesn’t believe they can really be married. I mean she was in a saloon and traveled the mining camps singing, there’s no way she is a classy lady-she must be a prostitute.

The brothel that she is dropped off at is still standing and now a restaurant, The Silver Dollar Saloon. We were able to meet with Paula Scott there and discuss this book along with the one she was currently working on Farming Grace: A Memoir of Life, Love, and a Harvest of Faith (which we read in September and I will review later).

Silver Dollar Saloon in Marysville, CA

When Peter left I was like this can’t be real, he’s going to march right back-but no. Isabella stays behind at the brothel earning her keep by reading to men and singing.

Poor Isabella, all she wanted was to belong to a family and then start her own. She lost hers, gained one with Peter…or so she thought. Now she has no one.

I’m so happy!

Peter leaves and Paul comes back to town. Paul falls for Isabella and every night tries to charm her more and more. Isabella is heartbroken, vulnerable, and alone.  Each night Paul breaks down more and more of her walls and she gives in to him.

But oh no…Paul leaves to get away from some card players he owes, Isabella turns out to be pregnant, she is attacked by a sadistic man, she flees to Fort Ross to search for her real father, Peter returns and discovers her “betrayal”, and Peter follows her-intent of finding her and doing right by her, but will they be able to reconcile after all that has transpired?

Tell ME!!!!!

So at first I was very angry with Peter. He left her in a brothel and then is angry because she started having sex with someone???!!! YOU LEFT HER IN A BROTHEL!!!! WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN???

But he does improve as you read. Scott created complex characters as Peter isn’t your usual hero and has to go on an emotional journey of working through envy, bitterness, prejudice, pride, iron out the issues with his father and brother in order to be a real man and a good husband.

Isabella has to go on her own journey to discover who she is, work on her abandonment issues, insecurity, forgiveness, bitterness, her own familial issues

Both are able to accomplish this by their faith and trust in God.

It was an amazing story! I highly recommend it! I LOVED it! I could not put it down as I consumed page after page in earnest to see how it would end. The characters are amazing and the story captivating.

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

For more Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

For more California Rising books, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties

Book Club Picks: Julie

So Happy Mother’s Day All!

I have never done a mother’s day post before, why? I don’t know. I must have been too busy celebrating my mom.

I had wanted to review The Mother Keeper on Mother’s Day, I thought it would be cute-but I didn’t want to put off my book club pick reviews that long. I thought I would have them all finished and be caught up by now.

I knooooooooooooow!!! I am so behind. I don’t know what happened. I have no excuse.

What’s happening?

So I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone. For Mother’s Day I will honor my mother with a review of one of her favorite books, which is also the next Book Club Pick up for review-her choice of course. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, book club reviews? Never fear-I can give a brief recap.

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time, as I mentioned above, the book club member-my mother chose:

Julie by Catherine Marshall

I would also recommend this as a Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So this book was written by Catherine Marshall, of the Christy fame. She based the book on her own life, including the poetry she wrote when she was a young girl, and the Johnstown Flood.

Julie comes from a family of five, the Wallaces-mother, father, Julie, a sister Anne-Marie, and a younger brother, Tim. Her father was a Minster in the South, but for some reason unknown to her and her siblings, has quit the ministry and a stable good-paying job to in Depression ridden American to use his wife’s small inheritance to purchase a newspaper,The Sentinel, in Alderton, Pennsylvania.

What’s going on?

Have any of you seen North and South? I love that miniseries (and plan on reviewing it sometime). But the reason I bring it up is that in that series the Dad quits the church and moves them from the South to the factory-filled North. And we are all on the edge of our seat trying to figure out what happened, and it takes quite some time until they reveal it.

It’s the same here. The left the beautiful South to go to North, the town of Alderton, controlled by Yoder Iron and Steel (based on Carnegie Steel). They are shocked when they see the cut up land and the haze and soot.  And boy when they reveal what happened to make the dad leave, it’s a doozy. Worth reading defintely.

Wow

Julie was hurt and upset that they left her senior year to start all over again somewhere new, and completely confused as to why. The trip doesn’t start off with the best of origins as their car overheats and they get covered in mud.

They are rescued by Randolph Munro Wilkerson, English Aristocrat, here in America to run the Hunting and Fishing Club. I know that might sound a little strange, but this is he 1930s when limited income royals were marrying the “gilded” heiresses.

Julie is completely mortified that she has this handsome stranger meeting a muddy mess.

When they get to their home and office, the family is shocked to discover that they are all to be the newspaper staff. Writing, editing, cleaning, collecting subscriptions, collecting ad space, etc. The hardest thing will be having to convince people who are already “trimming the fat” that a newspaper is something they need to spend money on.

This will not be easy

One day, a man, Dean Fleming, comes in to ask them to print some handbills for him and offers his services, free, everyday. Julie doesn’t like him as he knew that her father left the ministry and spoke to him about God and faith. She thinks he is going to use his volunteer time to try and force his philosophy on her father and them.

For the thousandth time

Julie starts school and makes some friends. She even likes the minister, Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like. He cares about social change and is avid about helping the steelworkers, unionizing, aiding the new immigrants by getting them better housing-etc. But to me it rings false. I think he is concerned about these issues, but I feel like he does it for the glory of himself, a complete contrast to Dean who cares about a lot of the same things but has a humble spirit. Dean continuously is there for the family, winning over everyone and becoming a part of the Wallaces.

So the Hunting and Fishing Club has this giant earthen dam, and from the very first moment Julie saw it she has felt weird about it. There is something dark and ominous about it. Now some of you might remember when there was that big scare with the Oroville Dam two years ago and everybody had to evacuate? My family had to be evacuated as we were in the potential danger zone and we went to Las Vegas to wait it out. Before that, I never knew that the Oroville Dam was an earthen dam either. When reading this book, it made me view things differently and brought back all the emotion and things we went through then.

So the Wallace family tries to adapt to their new surroundings and life. Julie helps out with the newspaper, along with navigating normal teenage issues-dating, school, etc. She still has a crush on Randolph, but doesn’t really see anything happening there.

Times get tougher and tougher, as Yoder steel lays people off and it looks like the newspaper is going to go bankrupt, and then what will the Wallaces do?

But thankfully, Dean comes through and the Wallace’s hang on. But times are tough and more and more people lose their jobs, which means less subscriptions. Mr. Wallace has been hit with bouts of depression, Mrs. Wallace saying that it was a malaria attack rising up again from when he spent a few months in the South. On these days, Dean always comes. He doesn’t call or get called, he just knows and comes to help him.

Dean is a powerful character who’s has an amazing relationship with Christ. He comes to help the Wallaces, praying for them nonstop and aiding them both spiritually and physically. Too bad the Hales didn’t have a Dean to aid them.

Flooding happens and the Wallace’s get scared, but the rest if the town is unfazed as it happens every season. The water is a little higher than normal, but flooding is just a part of Alderton. It is so horrible the National Guard is called in and keeps people from going into Alderton. Mr. Wallace is hit hard and becomes bed bound again as he worries about damage to the newspaper office.

When the water recedes and they can get to the town, they discover that the newspaper office is safe, the printing press ad paper managed to be just barely out of harms way. With her dad too ill, Julie picks up the slack and loves it.  Her stories get published, and even her poems later on.

Wow!

While writing the flood story Julie wonders about the Dam. She calls to interview them, but no dice.

I got this!

Spencer creates an aid helping organization to try and help the workers in the Lowlands (immigrants, minorities, etc.) This book presents the hard issues as they discuss who should take the blame for he damage? Who’s responsibility is it to help the people? The church? The town? Yoder Steel? The Federal Government?

Hmmm

Julie joins the crusade and learns about how Yoder treats their employees. They have a baseball team, fire department, library, night classes for the workers, etc. But they also have high rents, a company store that is bought on credit, and essentially “own” their employees. If you have ever read The Jungle (one of my favorite books) it is pretty much the same thing.

Things continue and graduation is looming along with Julie’s senior economic project. She’s unsure what to do it on until she hears her dad is visiting Tom McKeever Jr, (the Senior being the one who owns it) and she tags along hoping to get some answers on the Dam.

Julie finds out that the Dam was bought by private businessmen, which means that since it is not government owned there is no one fact-checking up on it-but it is up to the owners to decide what to do with it and make sure repairs are done, etc. The lake covers 450 acres and has 500 million tons of water. The spillways were fenced off (not good!!!) as the lake above stocked with fish.

Julie writes her paper and her father writes an editorial, that while isn’t outright saying there is a problem, it isn’t going to be something Yoder Steel will love.

A little while after the story is published, Mr. Wallace gets invited out to Tom McKeever, Senior’s private railroad car, a high honor. He brings Julie along to the meeting full of rich food and belongings, extremely posh-a complete contrast to how everyone done below is living. McKeever didn’t like the story and wants the Wallace’s to back off.

julie writes a story on the labor issue but her father won’t print it as it is too one sided. She angrily sends it to The New York Times and forgets all about it as she becomes intangled in love trapizoid with Rev. Spencer Meloy, Randolph, and high schooler Graham Gilliam. But the NY Times calls her a they are publishing the article.

Now this is where the book gets really good. Once I started reading and hit this part, I could not stop.

They start writing articles in The Sentinel, and Yoder Steel does not like it. It’s the Wallace’a against everybody as Yoder Steel tries to destroy them by killing their dog, harassing them, attacking the presses, attacking Julie, threatening others so they drop their subscriptions, etc. Everyone has to make a moral choice on who they will side with. As for the Wallaces, will they stay firm in their beliefs, or fall under Yoder Steel?

Besides that storm, an actual rainstorm is coming their way. And then the real bomb of the book is released.

“Life and death for everyone in Alderton that day hung on such small decisions as to where they would be in the early afternoon.” pg. 324

BOOOM!!! When I got to that line I was crazed to find out how it all ended.

Then the Dam breaks and all hell breaks loose.

Reading this part is amazing, the total destruction only takes a few minutes and she counts them one by one as to what happens. It was so frightening to read that and think that could have been us two years ago if the water went over the lip of the dam. With all the heavy rain and full rivers, we are still jittery. I leave a week’s worth of clothes in my trunk just in case we have to evacuate again.

So what makes this an Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers?

First, the story is about a young romantic, reminiscent of Catherine from Northanger Abbey or Marianne Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility. She loves to read-along with writing poetry and stories. She dates some of her schoolmates, but they just don’t bring up that feeling of romance she’s encountered in books and wants in real life (partly has to do with the fact she fell hard for the English Lord). By the end of the book her life experiences have matured her-keeping some of the same romantic soul, but like Catherine and Marianne, has learned to temper it. 

Julie gets a proposal from the Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like, and it is an awful proposal. Basically “we think alike and like the same things, lets get married.” Not quite as bad as Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy but still bad.

Like Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility the Wallace family goes through numerous changes that they have no real control over. While the Wallace family is much poorer than the Elliots and the Dashwoods, these girls can relate as they have to trim the fat, adjust their life, and have others see them as not marriageable material from their lack of finances. 

Rev. Spencer Meloy reminds me of Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins as to me I felt he wasn’t really being a minister for Godbut instead was looking to lift himself and his interests. Like these two men, he focuses on what he wants and believes, only. He also proposes badly as he reads women wrongly-thinking Julie is just as interested in him as he is in her because of a “look she gave”, ugh gag.

Ugh, this guy!

But like I said, this was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it!

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Glassblower

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

For more on The Great Depression, go to I Don’t Want the Money: It Happened One Night (1934)

For more bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

He Was Taken Up Before Their Very Eyes

Happy Easter!

So I don’t typically talk about an image on Easter, but this year I felt like adding one in again. This image is from Hagia Sophia or Church of Holy Wisdom. The Hagia Sophia was the most beautiful church in the world, when it was finished Justinian exclaimed:

‘’Glory to God who has deemed me worthy of accomplishing such a work! O Solomon! I have vanquished thee’’

It was so beautiful that when the Ottoman Empire took over, they didn’t destroy the church but chose to instead convert it into a mosque. What is most interesting is that during this conversion different Christian imagery was destroyed but many mosaics weren’t. This is extremely unusual as pictures of faces weren’t allowed in religious spaces in the Muslim faith. But thanks to Sultan Mehmed II for, whatever reason, choosing to preserve these pieces we have our image for today:

Christos Panto Krator or the Deesis Mosiac

This is a huge image of Christ, created to illustrate God’s presence and him watching over us. It is in the traditional style of the Byzantine art as it is flat and 2-D, a throwback to separate the Christian art from the Greeks and Romans.

Jesus is depicted with a halo, something that would continue to be a part of Christ images, and is older in this mosaic-stern, serious, more of the judgement of Christ to come in Revelations.

What also makes this image striking and noteworthy is that in his hand he holds the bible-showing the importance of the Gospel and his teachings. To me, looking at it reminds me of The Great Commission, Christ rising into heaven and urging his disciples to share his message.

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11

For more paintings of Christ, go to With That, He Bowed His Head and Gave Up His Spirit

For more Byzantine art, go to Entry into Jerusalem

With That, He Bowed His Head and Gave Up His Spirit

So last year I didn’t do this as I was too busy, but every year prior I have always reviewed different portrayals of Christ for Easter.

I am a Christian, and I received a major in art history and history, so it is time to put those to work.

Typically, I have reviewed more images, but Easter snuck up on me this year. So we only have two planned.

Gero Crucifix from Cologne Cathedral

Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified, only to be resurrected three days later. The piece I choose today is from the early Medieval period. The Gero Crucifix was created in 970 and brought to Cologne Cathedral by Archbishop Gero, hence were the name comes from.

But before we get into the art, let’s look at the text:

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” John 19:1-7

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareththe king of the Jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”John 19:19-22

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”–Luke 23: 39-43

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)…Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”–Mark 15: 33-36

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”–John 19: 30

This is an important piece of art as it is the oldest surviving monumental sculpture of crucifixion to date. This is a gigantic piece, about 6 feet tall to make it seem more lifelike.

This is an incredibly emotional piece, the way it is created to really capture the text of the bible. In this we can see the great pain he went through: blood dripping down on his forehead, his body is leaning downwards in pain as he can no longer fight gravity pulling him down, his twisted body, the strain on his arms-all the pain and suffering he would have gone through.

He looks extremely vulnerable, no powerful halo or other imagery (although there was some gold pieces added later on). There was a crown of thorns to continue to add to the pain he went through, but it has gone missing through time.

What also makes this a powerful piece, besides size and the imagery, is that this is a reliquary-the head had a chamber where they would store the Eucachrist. Wow-think how powerful that would be, to take in communion and have the bread come from Christ’s body.

Well, I hope you all have a great Good Friday and Easter, however you all celebrate it.

For more Crucifixions, go to At Noon, Darkness Came Over the Whole Land…

For more artwork, go to He is Not Here; He Has Risen