Review: Once Upon A Summer by Janet Oke

“…God loves you … He plans for your good, not your hurt. It’s true that things happen in life that seem wrong and are painful, but it isn’t because God likes to see us suffer. He wants to see us grow. He wants us to love Him, to trust Him.” – the preacher

Once upon a Summer (Seasons of the Heart, #1)Once upon a Summer by Janette Oke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Josh’s parents died when he was a small child. Ever since then, his Auntie Lou, who was only five years older than he was, took over the role of his mother in the best way she knew how. They lived with Grandpa (Lou’s dad) and Uncle Charlie. And then when Grandpa and Uncle Charlie started talking about marrying Auntie Lou off, Josh wondered what he’d do without her. And then he decided, maybe he won’t have to find out…

“Holes in socks are sorta like sin, Josh. If you don’t tend to them right away when they’re small and controllable, they grow with amazing speed.” – the preacher

(I had to stop reading the book when I came to that quote and ponder it. Just… wow.)

As if that wasn’t bad enough, his great grandma died, leaving his great grandpa a widower. Grandpa and Uncle Charlie invited him to live with them. Josh wasn’t sure what to think about this, but he felt like it would disrupt everything.

Between Grandpa and Uncle Charlie trying to marry off Auntie Lou and a great-grandpa that he had never met coming to stay with them, Josh had a lot on his mind. The big question was, what would he do about it?

“Whenever something comes into our life that hurts us, we do the decidin’—do I let this work for my good, as God intended, or do I let bitterness grow like a bothersome canker sore in my soul?” – Auntie Lou

This story is told from 12-year-old Josh’s point of view. The writing style is so different, which I enjoyed, though it took me a chapter or two to get into the rhythm of it.

Josh’s character was well developed. Without revealing any spoilers, it was a joy to follow his story from start to where he is at the end of the book. He grows a lot. And the ending almost brought tears to my eyes. It was great.

There were too many amazing quotes in this book to list them all, but I think this one was my favorite:

“He could let us go through all of our life, bundlin’ us and shelterin’ us from anything and everything that would hurt us. I could do that with my petunias, Josh. I could build a box around them and keep them from the wind and the rain, the crawlers and the bees. What would happen iffen I did that, Josh?”

I jest shrugged. The answer was too obvious.

“They’d never bear flowers,” said Auntie Lou.

Aaaand the fun doesn’t stop here, because Janet Oke wrote four books in this series – which I have and look forward to reading soon. 🙂 However, I think this book could be read as a stand-alone. Until recently, I didn’t know that this book was even part of a series. If I had, I would have gotten my hands on the other books long ago!

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Review: Black (The Circle #1) by Ted Dekker

Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle, #1)Black: The Birth of Evil by Ted Dekker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is a dream? What is the reality? Reality is a waking dream… or is it? For Thomas Hunter, distinguishing the two is difficult. In one, he is in Denver and has a sister, and there is a deadly virus that could wipe out the whole Earth’s population. In the other, there is a beautiful girl, a colored forest, and the presence of Elyon – and a sinister entity named Telah…

But which is real? Or could both be real? Could it be two worlds? And could they be connected somehow?

The plot thickens when in one he finds out that all he holds dear in both worlds is in jeopardy. However, he thinks he may be able to change events in one from things he finds out in the other. Will he be successful? Or will one or both come to an abrupt end?

This is the first book in The Circle series. A friend gave it to me two years ago for my birthday and I enjoyed it so much! (Obviously, I am behind in writing reviews; though technically, I wrote the review last year and forgot to post it… oops. 😅) The writing style was great. Thomas is very entertaining. And the dream // world switching was done nearly flawlessly. I really felt the urgency that the character had, and I appreciated the detail that Dekker gave to the Colored Forest and the Black Forest. I also saw a bit of symbolism in the Colored Forest from the Garden Of Eden, which made me enjoy it all the more!

I loved this book so much that when my parents asked me to pick out a book for Christmas, I asked for the next in this series, Red! It’s been sitting on my to-read shelf for the past six months, and I’m looking forward to reading it. My friends keep saying that it was better than Black. 🙂

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Read Books 📚

It’s week 70 of 100 Word Wednesday, and here is the photo and my (almost late 😅) response. 🙂 If you’d like to join in the fun, just click the link! 😉

Image by Bikurgurl

Reach upon the shelf
Extract an intriguing title
And find a comfortable place and get a hot
Drink – prepare for an adventure.

Books —
Open to view the pages,
Open a portal to new worlds
Keep traveling from my comfy chair
See the universe from different perspectives.

Learn about interesting places,
Events from the past or present, or places that
Exist in the mind and dream, or
Relive memories,

Live other’s lives
Instead of just your own –
Become a new person.
Realize you can also create
Other worlds, places, times, and perspectives –
Sit down, open a blank journal, and just write.


In addition to this being a free verse poem, it is also an acrostic. If you noticed this but were second-guessing on the last two parts, “Leer Libros” is “(To) Read Books” in Spanish, so that was an attempt to repeat the phrase in Spanish, haha. 😊

Review: Evidence Not Seen

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War IIEvidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1.)

Darlene Deibler and her husband went to New Guinea as missionaries, and at first, all was well. But then World War Two came along and she found herself separated from her husband and a prisoner of war. This book is about how Jesus sustained her during those hard times. Even after all she went through in the course of the book, she never lost her faith. She was quite an amazing women of God!

“Lord, I believe all that the Bible says. I do walk by faith and not by sight. I do not need to feel You near, because Your Word says You will never leave me or forsake me. Lord, I confirm my faith; I believe.” – Darlene

A friend gave this book to me Christmas 2016, and I’ve been slowly reading it since the beginning of 2017.  Even though it took me a while to finish, it wasn’t because of the lack of interest. I didn’t want to rush through the book too fast and miss something because there were many times I needed to stop and mull over the points she made or how God was working in her life and the lives of others. (Though I ended up reading much faster at the end of December when I first started to get sick; it was such an encouragement during that time, though I almost regret reading the end so fast because now it’s a giant blur. 😆)

This book was incredible and I highly recommend it. 🙂

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New Year, New Things

🎉 Happy New Year! 🎊

I hope that you have been enjoying the New Year so far! 😀 Mine has certainly been… interesting. 😅

Along with this new year, I have few new things to talk about.

First, I plan to change my theme soon for a refreshing new look. (My plan was for this to happen on New Years Day and then me getting sick derailed it… 😅 This is also the reason for the lack of posts since Christmas. Sorry, guys, I hope to get back on track soon. I’m much better but the congestion and coughing came after I thought I was better and uuugggghhhh. 😝) So consider this is a warning: if you see wonky things happening such as themes changing, things randomly disappearing, widgets moving from place to place – sorry for any confusion that may result from that. (Because of some cold medicine I took, I slept from 2AM until 6PM the next day for two days in a row; and now my body doesn’t understand when to sleep. Therefore, these changes will most likely happen in the middle of the night or very early morning in the days to come. Hopefully, not many people will notice the craziness that will ensue as I figure out how to set everything up… 😅)
Anyway, I plan to switch from the Booklite theme to the Hemingway Rewritten theme. Maybe. The main reason for the change is that I really like the sidebar menu and the Booklite theme doesn’t allow one. So I know that it will be a theme with a sidebar. And a header. I really like my header. 😊

Second, in the meantime, I went ahead and messed with the fonts and added new widgets at the bottom of the page now (if you are viewing in the reader, click here and scroll to view) – a new tag cloud widget and a Goodreads widget! I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had a Goodreads account, and I finally figured out how to put it on my blog so that you all can see what I’m reading. I must warn you, they span many genres. I don’t stick to one kind. 😄 So you’ll see Christian fiction and nonfiction, Mysteries, Young Adult, and Children’s books. I know, I’m in my mid-twenties I should have outgrown Children’s books already, right? Nope, not for me. 😄 I’ve always loved these and I love writing for this genre too.

Third, I’m reading My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers (looks like you can get it daily free here: https://utmost.org/ if you want to read it too) and Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman this year, which I haven’t tried to do before – reading a yearly devotional, that is. I’ve read a month-long devotional once, but not a year-long one. And two devotionals at once, I know, what am I thinking? Haha. Read one in the morning and one at night. We’ll see if I succeed in keeping up with it. So far so good. 🙂 But this is only January 2nd and I’m spending a lot of time in bed because of this cold which means extra time to read… so that doesn’t mean much. 😂

Fourth, I want to thank my parents (who got the same cold… from me… I’m so sorry both of you, that is one Christmas present I never wanted to give you 😅 😅 😅) for being so patient with me while I’ve been sick. I want to give a shout-out to my mom. Like I said above, she got the same cold I did, and even though she did, she fed my cats when I couldn’t go outside because the cold air made my cough so much worse, and I appreciate it so much. And I’m sure that they do too. (I can’t wait until I can start feeding them myself again though – I miss spending time with and cuddling my furry babies! <3) I mean, take a look at some of them. (Pictured below: Catalina, Simone, Rabbit, Jay, Firecracker, Radar, Belle, and Dottie.)

😍❤😍❤😍❤😍❤😍❤😍

OKAY, OKAY. Maybe I won’t go outside and cuddle the last one. Philip the Opposum isn’t that cuddly. But he also isn’t camera shy if you give him food… 😂

Well, I managed to get completely sidetracked and off-topic as soon as I mentioned cats. Typical… 😂 Anyway, I’ll be back soon with a new theme (I hope) and a new poem that I’ve been working on! Have a great Tuesday! ❤

Blog Issues & NaNoWriMo Updates

Hello all! 🙂

Firstly, I’d like to cover the blog issues. It looks like for the past few months, every time I’ve attempted to follow a blog, it was rejected. I thought this was a problem with my dial-up Internet and Windows XP system, and since I upgraded, all problems should be fixed. But I realized yesterday that I still could not follow blogs. I contacted support (they were so nice and helpful over there) and they told me that my account had been mistakenly flagged as an anti-spam measure for bulk following, and they fixed it. Therefore, if I made a mention that I was following you and then I disappeared, it was because I thought I was following you but I wasn’t. 😅  I’m so glad this is fixed now!

 


 

And now for the NaNoWriMo update:

I’m a bit behind still, but I’m planning to catch up. 🙂 And I just added an excerpt from my novel. I know that not all of you have NaNoWriMo accounts to view it, so I’m including it in this post so you all can read it if you wish. 😊

“He gives and He takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. That was Job’s way of dealing with loss.”

She knew now that she had been horribly wrong about Him. Maybe this was not about whether she believed, it was about whether she accepted Him. She was angry with Him; why could He not save the ones near to her?

Her sister’s words returned to her – she had said the same thing years ago, but she brushed them off because she did not want to hear.

It all started to make sense to her. She did not think that He did not exist; she only kidded herself to make Him feel the same pain that she had felt, and in the process, bit off her nose to spite her face.

She would not reject Him any longer. She fell to her knees. Holy is the Lamb. Good is her God. Loving was her Father. All her anger melted away into a puddle and was never remembered again.

Forgiveness was a powerful thing. Her burdens dropped from her shoulders and she felt lightweight, though that could be possible that she also lost weight by now.

But could her parents and sister forgive her? She knew that God was a loving God, and that He forgave because He died so that He could forgive. And defeat sin and death.

But—

She had to believe that they did. She just had to.

She opened her journal to write and realized what day this was.

Her sixteenth birthday.

She almost cried, thinking of what kind of sweet sixteen she was missing out on. And then she did cry when she realized that even if she was home having a party, her family was dead and would not be there.

It would not be a fun party.

She was half glad that she was alone and in survival mode because if she was not, she was sure she would fall to pieces.

She went to the beach and carefully built herself a cake made out of the sand, and found some sticks and stuck them in the top, pretending that they were candles with flames dancing around the wick. She pretended that her family was there with her, and blew out the fake flames.

There would be presents, and she made sandboxes with sand bows on the top and imagined what could be in there. A new purse? New jewels? An espresso maker? Items that she may have taken for granted before, but would be luxurious to have now.

She knew that soon, the high tide would wipe away her cake and presents – any trace that she had even made them. All she would have left were the memories and the memories that could have been if her parents had still been alive.

She walked the island aimlessly. It was hard to get lost; she knew the majority of it and it was so small that if she did lose her way, she could walk until she hit the beach and keep going until she stumbled upon the rocky cove or until she saw the tips of the orange tree.

Happy birthday. Sure. Not anymore. No birthday would ever be the same. It would just denote another year gone by without her family. Another reminder of how much time had passed since the tragedy that changed her life forever.

 

 

Review: The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

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The Evanses, along with their four year old daughter Jenna, are much too cramped in their tiny apartment. When an opportunity arises for them to be hired to help out an elderly lady in her large house, the family of three checks it out. They move into the East Wing within two weeks.

It’s not long until Mary becomes like a grandmother figure, and is well loved by all.

And then tragedy strikes…

I loved how from Mary, The Evanses learn the true meaning of Christmas. I usually don’t get emotional when reading a book, but this one made me tear up at the end. It was phenomenal. It was so short that I read the whole thing in one day; it was only 90 pages. It’s a good thing he wrote two more books and made this a series! (However, this book reads like a stand alone, so if you want to read this one, you won’t get a cliffhanger at the end. But if you are like me, you’ll like it so much that you’ll want to get your hands on the next two anyway!)

This story promises to be a Christmas Classic. 🙂