April Snippets!

Here's a new round of Snippets for you!  These are taken from my Safia and Kyndi projects



          Her rapid movement cost a fall to her knees once again, but as the man moved forward in seeming concern, she brandished the vase as if it were a sword.
          "Come no closer, ikran," she muttered in warning.
          The young man's face turned to puzzlement and he spoke for the first time, slowly, "I mean you no harm, my lady."
          This time Safia was confused.  Gondian?  She searched her mind for the words of the Common tongue.  Ah.
          "Come no closer, pirate," she repeated, but her strength was failing and the arm holding the make-shift weapon wavered.
          Surprised at hearing the words of his own language, his expression softened and he replied, holding his hands out, palms up, "Peace, my lady.  I am a friend."  He took a cautious step forward.

          "Konner.  We are safe, my brother.  You don't have to worry."  The Norskan words, though in sound harsh and bold, seemed to revive her friend somewhat and tears of joy fell from her eyes as he slowly opened his own to meet hers.

The Ballad of Leif
There she stands, hair in the wind;
A raider's heart begins to bend.
Her faith she shares, to him newfound;
From unseen shackles, his chains unbound.

Dark past laid bare, her family forbids
A marriage of love; for days she's hid.
But following her heart, she hears a song;
Her sailor bold is standing strong:

"Marry me, love, on the lonely moor;
Let's sail away to the enchanted shore.
Our love, our life, our home we start;
Together forever, till death do we part.

"Where ocean blue meets sand of white,
Come dance with me in the bright moonlight.
Where cliffs of rock stand high and strong,
Meet me there--where we belong.

"Till a home we build, to caverns we dwell;
Where stories sleep, secrets to tell.
A treasure we'll find; worth untold--
Not held in price, but yours to hold."

Love is a bond, this tale is true!
Of a man and a maid, sailing the ocean blue
To a home where be the bright, white sands;
Their spirits stay, hand in hand.



          "Edmund!" she shouted above the hoard of oblivious people.  Some looked at her in annoyance, but continued on their way.  She repeated his name, louder this time and burst into a run as he turned in her direction.
          Too far.  She wouldn't reach him in time.

          In a split second, he caught the flash of light as the gunman shifted.  One quick look at the sniper and Edmund's heart dropped.


Seriousness.  Again.

I'm gonna have to work on my humorous side. . . *le sigh* I apologize for this skimpy morsel of snippets, but it has been rather slow.  Something I hope to change.

Hope you liked them anyway!

Fairfarren, for now.

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What's in the Name?

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Biblical
Pronunciation:  ay-REE-lie (English)

Meaning & History
Means "lion of God" in Hebrew.  In the Old Testament, this was the name of a son of Gad, the son of Jacob.

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Celtic Mythology
Pronunciation:  eh-PON-nah, ee-PONE-nah,

Meaning & History
Taken from the Gaulish epos meaning "horse."  This was the name of the Celtic goddess of horses.

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Japanese
Pronunciation:  rie-YOO

Meaning & History
From Japanese elements meaning "dragon."

Female Eagle Hunter
in Kazakhstan
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Astronomy
Pronunciation:  (possibly) VAY-gah, VEE-gah

Meaning & History
This is the name of a star in the constellation Lyra, and is derived from the Arabic al-Waqi' meaning "the swooping (eagle.)"

Names and meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

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Book Review [Daisies Are Forever]

Daisies Are Forever
Liz Tolsma

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Released:  2014

Gisela must hold on to hope and love despite all odds in the midst of a war-torn country.

Gisela Cramer is an American living in eastern Germany with her cousin Ella Reinhardt. When the Red Army invades, they must leave their home to escape to safety in Berlin.

However, Ella is a nurse and refuses to leave, sending her young daughters with Gisela. During their journey, Gisela meets Mitch Edwards, an escaped British POW. She pretends she is his wife in order to preserve his safety among other Germans, especially one wounded German soldier, Kurt, who has suspicions about Mitch's identity. Kurt also has feelings for Gisela and tries to uncover the truth about her "marriage."

Their journey to Gisela's mother in Berlin is riddled with tragedy and hardship, but they strive to keep Ella's daughters safe so they can reunite with their mother. During the journey Gisela and Mitch begin to develop feelings for one another beyond friendship. They reach Berlin, but their struggles are far from over. Gisela and Mitch must learn to live for the day and find hope in the darkest of circumstances.

In this moving, historically accurate portrayal of WWII Germany, the characters learn that, even with destruction all around them, some things last forever.

WARNING: Possible Spoilers

If you enjoy reading the history and times of the World War II era, you will love this book.  But know firsthand, it is set in a time of war.  There is terrible suffering, death, gore, and evil written into the pages of hope, love, and yes, even joy.  

[The Basics]
Usually, in tales of WWII, we see the side of America and how we helped to win the war, right?.  But in this novel, we experience the trials and troubles of the German people.  What was that quote from Dr. Erskine, in Captain America?

Our story begins the 8th of February, 1945, in the middle of bombings where "explosions lit the dark, deep-winter evening."  Gisela Cramer, a young woman in her early twenties, trembles with each rumble that jars her relatives' house.  When an elderly neighbor shows up at the door and explains that he and his sisters are leaving before the Russians arrive, Gisela and her cousin Ella take it as the cue to leave as well.  But it turns out that Ella, a nurse, means to stay with their grandfather, and offer her services to the local hospital, leaving Gisela to care for Ella's two young daughters.  At first, Gisela refuses, but at the urging of her dear opa (grandfather),  she relents, though reluctantly, knowing full well she may never see them again.

And so begins a long and treacherous journey.

Throughout the whole of this book, Gisela shows her love and compassion in caring for others.  She sacrifices much, leading her little band across countries, over frozen lakes, and providing what she can regarding food rations, sometimes going without to make sure her people are fed.

Sacrifice plays a huge part in these pages.  Characters do all in their power to help those around them, whether it be in sharing a portion of precious sausage or giving an outfit of clothing to one who is in desperate need.

One man falls into a frozen lake and is rescued, though he loses the cart he was pulling, laden with valuables.  The cart's owner dismisses the lost items, realizing that a man's life is far more precious than earthly things.

While she does so in order to save a man's life, Gisela outright lies in claiming a strange man as her husband.  Because others heard her declaration, they are forced to travel together to keep up appearances, which all turned out for the best, but still.  Lying is wrong, and there are usually consequences.

[Spiritual Content]
Before she leaves, Gisela's opa gives her a Bible-pressed daisy flowers, and instructs her to keep it in her Bible in the passage of Isaiah 43, as a reminder that no matter the circumstances God is in control.

Characters pray to God for deliverance and protection.  

My absolute favorite scene in this book is with the character Mitch, a British POW (prisoner of war).  He, Gisela, and the rest of their little band are huddled in the basement of their current refuge when a bomb's approaching whistle screams into the home's once beautiful garden.  But doesn't go off.  After waiting several heart-pounding moments, which seemed ages, he ventures outside.  There, he finds a crater with the familiar figure of a rusty bomb that did not explode.  It was a dud.  He falls to his knees and praises his God for their deliverance.  When Gisela joins him, she finds him singing the words of "Amazing Grace" in a beautiful tenor of praise.  Her own alto blends in to finish the last verses and they are comforted by the presence of God.

So beautiful.  I could have cried.  (And I don't ever cry in books, rarely in movies, even.)

Remember.  This is war.  Gunfire from planes kill and ravage families, tearing their worlds in two.  Men (and their families), labeled as cowards and deserters, are hung from lamp-posts as a sign to others that the German army will not tolerate fear to fight.

People are killed by gunfire while traversing the length of a frozen lake.

Gisela finds a bundle thrown aside of the makeshift road and goes to it, thinking there may be items her party could use, only to find it is the frozen corpse of an infant.  

During plane raids, characters throw themselves on top of others many times in an attempt to save them.  

A train's engine is destroyed by gunfire from Russian planes, forcing passengers to walk to nearby farms.  

The winter itself is a wicked pawn in the game of war.  Just as many people succumb to the cold as others to gunfire and bombings.

A man's hand is grazed by a bullet.  A woman is beaten and bruised.

Russian and German soldiers rape and kill women.  Brutal does not cover it.  We don't ever experience this with any of the main characters, but we do see the results, briefly.

Blood and gore in general is mentioned often.

[Language, Drugs & Alcohol]
Not much that I can think of. . . 

Drunken soldiers attempt to rape a woman (SPOILER: she is saved!).  

[Love-y Content]
A relationship develops between Gisela and Mitch.  They come to care for each other deeply and kiss many times, some rather passionately.  

Kurt, a wounded soldier who lost an arm for his country, and German all the way through, is attracted to Gisela and tries to win her over, unsuccessfully.

Another character we see often, Audra, in partnering with Kurt to help him woo Gisela, attempts to sway Mitch to her side.  She kisses him, against his wishes, and starts a love triangle between him and Gisela.

This is a romance novel, too.  Did I mention that?  :]

Overall, I was well pleased with this novel and may someday read it again.  The characters are well-developed, in my opinion; the story intense.  I couldn't put it down!  A few phrases threw me off at times, due to how they are worded and written.  I had to go back and still, at times, it didn't make sense, but other than that, a wonderful book!

The author did her research and even based the tale off of two actual ladies and their true stories, as explained in an afterword: The Story Behind the Story.  Again, if you love the WWII era, you may well enjoy this tale of hope in the midst of suffering and joy that can be found in the unlikeliest of places, be it in the cellar of a war-torn house with your loved ones, or a dried daisy in the pages of your worn Bible.

Isaiah 43:1-2
" '. . .Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.' "


Recommended ages:  16-18+
(due to violence and gory scenes)

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A + A Friday!

  • Stretching, then getting your ring caught in your braids and being forced to ask you sister to help free you.
  • HYDRA really is taking over. . . (Found this while driving through town. Marvel fans will understand.)
No!  Not our swimming pools!
  • Getting junk mail in your name that you have absolutely nothing to do with.  "Flooring?  I don't do anythin' with flooring, except walk on it!"
  • Knowing you don't like peanut butter, and yet you like eating it with a banana.
  • When a sneeze catches you off guard and you make a funny face.
  • . . . Not having enough "awkwards" to fill an "awkward and awesome" post. . . O_o

  • Receiving an email from your best friend who lives on the other side of the country. <3
  • When your dance instructor/part-time employer greets you in the morning with a VeggieTales song.  :D "Good morning, George, how are you?  I hope your feeling fine!" 
  • Accomplishing a spectacular feat in discovering you can build Legos with your toes!  (It's true!)
  • Finishing a good book that you were hesitant about, and really liking it. (Review coming soon! Daisies Are Forever)
  • Successfully making a birthday cake for 11-year-old cousin.  Horseshoe!

  • When your Church's Easter "drama" runs smooth and well.  No last minute problems and service ended with maybe at least two souls added to the King's Book! 
  • Watching Sight & Sound Theaters' Joseph. So good!

Fairfarren, for now!

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Alas, my computer is down again, but here's a fun post anyway! (Don't worry, the A+A post will come later.)

I've been tagged! Again! Thanks so much to Brittany from Daughter of the King, for sending the Liebster back my way.  :]

|| RULES ||
~ Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
~ List eleven facts about yourself.
~ Answer the eleven questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
~ Nominate nine bloggers who have less than 200 followers (excluding the one who awarded you. (Because I've had this award a couple different times...) I nominate anyone who wishes to join in the fun!
~ Ask them eleven questions of your own making, and let them know they've been tagged!

|| 11 FACTS ||
1.  The A-Team is my absolute favorite TV show.
2.  I have a freckle on my lower lip.  O_o
3.  I despise sea food.  Fish are friends, not food!  (I'm not vegetarian though, which--fun fact--is an Indian word meaning "poor hunter." I do love a good hamburger!  And bacon.  LOVE bacon.  If ever you find bacon seeds, let me be the first to know! ;D )
4.  I really want to own a parrot someday.  His name would be Jack Sparrow, and I would teach him to say, "Help! I've been turned into a parrot!"
5.  Mint Chocolate Chip is my favorite ice cream!
6.  If my life had taken a different path, I would have wished to be a professional ballerina.
7.  My siblings and I have always said we would one day build a huge castle/house that our families could all live together, and it would serve as a bed and breakfast for travelers.  We had the layout and everything!  It would be called The Green Dragon.
8.  I have a ring my parents gave me for Christmas that is in the form of an arrow.
9.  My favorite comic book is a western
version of Rapunzel by Shannon Hale.
10.  I'm clumsy. I fell off a stool (again) earlier this week...
11.  I hate insects, but love to catch mice, moles, and snakes.

Brittany's Questions!
1)  Favorite superhero?

          CAPTAIN AMERICA.  Need I say more? 
2)  If you could change your hair and eye color, what would you change it to?
          I would never change my hair color, I love being a brunette!  But if I could request an eye color change from God, I would ask that He make my eyes green.
3)  What's your favorite flower?
          The red Poppy.
4)  Favorite drink?
          Hmmm.  That's hard.  I've grown up on good ol' Southern sweet tea, but if I could choose a special drink for a treat, I'd want homemade, fresh-squeezed lemonade.
5)  Anna or Elsa?  (from Disney's Frozen)
          Oh dear.  I love them both! My fav is probably Elsa, 'cause she the eldest daughter (like me!), she carries herself like a queen, she seems wise beyond her years, and she would do anything to protect those she loves.
6)  Sweatshirts or tank-tops? 
          Hmm.  I'm a summer girl!  Unfortunately, the cold does bother me some. . .  So, let's go with tank-tops.  :]
7)  Flip-flops or boots?
          Flip-flops.  Though I prefer ballet flats any day.
8)  What's your favorite childhood memory?
          Reading a Louis L'Amour western at the age of two.  (I don't really remember it, except for the home video!)
9)  Favorite book of the Bible?
          "Story" book, would be Esther.  But I enjoy reading and re-reading the Psalms and Proverbs.
10)  Favorite quote?
          Ah! Too hard.  I kinda collect quotes. . .  So, here's a recent one I've discovered:  "Every morning is a beginning, a fresh start, and a man needn't be hog-tied to the past.  Whatever went before, a man's life can begin now, today." (Louis L'Amour, in his book Milo Talon)
11)  Favorite Pinterest board of mine [Brittany's]?
          Your Super Heroes!!!


And now it's your turn!  As mentioned in the Rules, I nominate anyone and everyone who wishes to take part.  Have fun with it, and don't forget to leave a comment letting me know you did it!  I'd love to visit and check it out.

Here are my questions for you:
1.  Of the three, who do you like best: Captain America, Iron Man, or Hawkeye?
2.  Which upcoming movie(s) will you most likely go see in theaters? (for example, How to Train Your Dragon 2?  The Amazing Spiderman 2? The Hobbit: There & Back Again?  etc...) Or will you simply wait for DVD and Redbox?
3.  Do you prefer reading fairytales, historical fiction, or futuristic novels?
4.  Digital e-book? or good ol' paper-turning-pages book?
5.  What would be your dream house: a small cottage or a medieval mansion?
6.  British accents or Australian?
7.  Tropical cruise ship or cross-country road trip?
8.  Would you prefer watching a drama production or actually participating in it?
9.  Favorite movie quote?
10.  If you could spend the day with your a favorite book or movie character, who would it be?
11.  What would be your kind of dream pet? (For example: mine would be a cuddly panda bear.  Maybe yours is a rhino? or a zebra? Eagle?

This tag is for anyone and everyone, have fun! But don't forget to leave a comment!

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Character Spotlight [Konner]

Sketch by Julia (my sister)
Konner Strand
age:  20
height:  6'
weight:  180 lbs.
eye color:  grey-blue
hair color:  sandy-blond
home country:  Norska

Strong character.  Confident.  Adventurous.  Reckless.  Arrogant at times, but quick to correct his mistakes. 

Merchant sailor aboard the Lady of Leif.  Serves as a gunner and swordsman against possible raids.

Worst Fear:
Disappointing his captain, who has been the father he never knew.  Being unable to protect Safia.

Personal Quote:
"Take care of her, mikheim.  Her father's enemies are now hers."

Role in Safia:
Konner acts as Safia's big brother.  He's her protector and guardian when her father's not around, and her best friend any other time.  Aboard ship, he works as a gunner and guard against possible ambushes.  (Being a large and wealthy merchant vessel, they are prone to attacks, though the name of his Captain Leifson is known to most folks along the seas and ports in which they harbor.)  He is a master swordsman, and wields twin blades with deft accuracy.

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What's in a Name?

Hello, dearies!  :]  Guess what!  My computer is back and running (for now)!  Woohoo! I never knew how much I would miss a full size keyboard.

So, on to the post!  I don't know if you have noticed, but I have been trying to publish my Name posts on Mondays, Word posts on Tuesdays, hopefully Character Spotlights on Wednesdays, whatever on Thursdays (like reviews and such), and of course, A+A posts on Fridays.  But today, instead of a word, I've decided to go on and give you another set of names.  These hail from German roots.  Enjoy!

Also, I'm up for requests if you are curious as to what meaning a certain name could have or if you simply wish to see a set of names from another culture or country.  Leave a comment!

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  German
Pronunciation:  BE-no

Meaning & History
Short form of German given names containing the element bern, meaning "bear."

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  German
Pronunciation:  VAH-le-skah, vah-LE-skah

Meaning & History
Diminutive of Valeria, the feminine form of Valerius, an Ancient Roman family name taken from the Latin valere, meaning "to be strong."

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Polish, German, Hungarian, Croatian
Pronunciation:  daw-MEE-neek (Polish), DO-mi-nik (German)

Meaning & History
Cognate of Dominic, which comes from the Late Latin name Dominicus, meaning "of the Lord."

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Dutch, German, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Catalan
Pronunciation:  YAH-nah (Dutch, German)

Meaning & History
Feminine form of Jan (YAHN), which is ultimately derived from the English John, meaning "YAHWEH is gracious."

Names and meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

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A + A Friday!

This A + A post is a mix of last week's as well as this week. :]

  • Going to bed with your fuzzy socks on and waking up with them gone, then having no recollection whatsoever as to how or when they came off.  O_o
  • Saying the word "invisible" as "invigible."  (Don't ask why, that's just how it came out.  I don't remember what I was talking about either, maybe invisible vegetables. . .)
  • Nibbling leftover goodies after a movie night "party" with friends.  You swipe a small piece of cake that your sister is apparently hovering over, though she is distracted and in conversation with someone or other, and without another thought pop delectable piece in your mouth and savor the goodness.  Until your peaceful pleasure is interrupted by aforesaid sister saying, "Hey!  I was eating that!"  In which you burst into laughter, ruining your innocence as having no idea she was really eating it. . .
  • Making an awesome joke, then laughing at it by yourself, cause nobody understood it at first...
  • Breaking into your aunt's house to retrieve a canvas backdrop for the Church's Easter "drama", with her own key, noticing the security alarm didn't go off, and realizing that SHE'S HOME... (All's well! We got a good laugh.)
  • Vacuuming a high school auditorium (in prep for Easter drama) with OLD dusty vacuums that release the dust as soon as you vacuum it.  
  • Typing a blog post on your Kindle Fire... hdkfhfbjfbdbsjkd! 'Nuff said.

  • Going (went) to the theaters to see. . . CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER!!!
  • The Hobbit: DoS came to DVD last week!  Organized a movie night with friends and enjoyed long-awaited film.
  • Accomplishing another "chapter" or two in my WIP, Safia!
  • When people praise your famous, homemade, chocolate chip cookies.
  • When your former dance instructor offers you a part-time job.
  • Hosting a successful ladies tea party that was so much fun!
  • Trying out a new craft that turned out beautifully! Alas, I do not have pictures because of my computer situation. Maybe I'll brave my sister's computer and try...

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Guess What!

Hello, all!

Sadly, I am still having issues with my computer and alas am now using my awesome little Kindle Fire.  Though it still doesn't compare to an actual keyboard...  TT_TT Ah, well. You are tired of my whining, I'm sure, so I shall get on with this post and explain the title before you are surely slain by Curiosity.

Ahem.  I have been featured in an interview as a Stay-at-Home daughter over at a fellow blogger's site, A Noble Calling!  I recently found Libby's blog and have enjoyed reading her posts.  Please make sure to stop by!

Have a great day!

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Computer Trouble

Oh, dear.

Experiencing minor (at least that's what I hope) computer problems... I'm in need of a fixer-upper!
But I don't think love will help for this one... ☺️

Right now, my poor little laptop--that's only four years old--is giving me the black screen of death. Hence, I've been forced to resport to my iPhone. (*sobs* I miss my keyboard!!!) 😔

Hopefully, I'll be up and running again soon (today??), 'cause I've missed my A+A post! Aah!

And I've got a couple reviews in the works.

So hang in there! 

Happy Saturday!

(photo via Pinterest)

A Word, Guv'na?

1828 Webster's Dictionary
noun  1. Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace.
2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from Him.
3. Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin.
4. The application of Christ's righteousness to the sinner.
5. A state of reconciliation to God.
10. Favor; mercy; pardon.
13. That in manner, deportment or language which renders it appropriate and agreeable; suitableness; elegance with appropriate dignity.  We say, a speaker delivers his address with grace; a man performs his part with grace.
14. Natural or acquired excellence; any endowment that recommends the possessor to others.
15. Beauty; embellishment; in general, whatever adorns and recommends to favor; sometimes, a single beauty.

2 Corinthians 12:9
"My grace is sufficient for you, for [My] power is perfected in weakness. . ."

Ephesians 2:8
"For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift."


G od's      
R iches    
A t          
 C hrist's   
E xpense

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What's in a Name?

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Pronunciation: AY-bǝl (English), ah-BEL (Spanish), ǝ-BEL (Portuguese)

Meaning & History
From the Hebrew name Hevel or Havel, which means "breath."  In the Old Testament, Abel was the given name of the second son of Adam and Eve, murdered by his brother Cain out of jealousy of God's favor.  This name came into use in England during the Middle Ages, and was common during the Puritan era.

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Hebrew
Pronunciation:  reev-KAH, RIV-kah

Meaning & History
Hebrew form of Rebecca, which possibly means "a snare."  (Sorry, ladies. . . Not exactly the kind of meaning I would want. . .)

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, Biblical
Pronunciation:  JO-(English)

Meaning & History
From the Hebrew given name Yonah, meaning "dove."  This was the name of the prophet from the Book of Jonah in the Old Testament, famously known as the man swallowed by a fish, in whose belly he remained for three days, and later emerged alive to give a message of hope to a lost people.

Gender:  Feminine & Masculine
Usage:  Hebrew
Pronunciation:  seem-KAH, SIM-kah

Meaning & History
Means "happiness, joy" in Hebrew.

Names and meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

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A + A Friday!

  • Starting a 30-Day Drawing Challenge, and the first day's assignment is to draw yourself. . . And so you do, trying for a more realistic version than usual.  You show the masterpiece to a sister and ask rather cheerfully, "Does it look like me?" She looks at it, makes a face she thinks you didn't see, and eventually nods a "yes."  But you immediately think:

  • Trying something new for lunch for yourself, thinking it's gonna be delicious, and yet it resulted in not so good. . .
  • Leaving a pen uncapped by your arm while you are typing and coming away with little marks all over.
  • Sitting by your little brother at the kitchen counter and nearly falling off the stool while doing. . . nothing.  Yep, it happened.  You can ask him.  And my dad.  And probably a sister or two.  *cough*
  • Watching the newest VeggieTales film, Veggies in Space: The Fennel Frontier, last night.  It's kinda like Star Wars and Star Trek all jumbled together.  It was cute, but a little goofy.  I laughed a good bit, if that tells you anything.  :]  Oh, and Archibald the Asparagus makes a brief appearance as Dr. Who.  O_o  That threw me for a spin!  Never once expected to see that kind of cameo in VeggieTales! 
  • Laughing when a hiccup or sneeze sneaks up on you.  What?  This doesn't happen to anyone else??

  • Estate sales!  And great bargains!  I bought a GOOD tripod for my camera for $10!!! (The box had the original price listed as $137.66)  I also got an antique game PIT for $1 and a set of drink coasters that look like little wooden books for $1 as well.  :]
  • Finding new thrift shop websites like ThredUp.com!  Great prices, and you can send in clothes you don't want, as long as they are brands they accept, and get credit.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now in theaters!!!  Hope we can see it soon. . . *-*
  • John Waller's song "Orphan."  So beautiful. 
  • Going to see a field-full of trout lilies in a neighbors' farm.  Hundreds of them! all spread throughout a patch of woods in their field.  
  • Finishing a new book, that I LOVED, and starting another! (Around the World in 80 Days)

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Book Review [The Queen's Handmaid]

The Queen's Handmaid
Tracy L. Higley

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  YA, Historical Fiction
Released:  2014

[rear cover]
A jealous Egyptian queen.
A lascivious Galilean governor.
A beautiful servant girl.
Theirs is a story of prophecy, self-discovery, and revelation.

          The year is 39 BC.  All of Alexandria awaits the arrival of Herod, the Galilean governor with his eye on the Judean kingship.  The handmaid of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, receives a troubling visit from her aging mentor.
          An orphan since birth, Lydia lives in the palace at the demand of Cleopatra and her royal child, the son of Julius Caesar.  But Lydia has a growing problem on her hands: her beauty is becoming a liability to the aging queen, and the visiting Herod's undisguised interest only make matters worse.
          When Lydia's mentor is murdered, the handmaid inherits a daunting task.  An ancient set of sealed scrolls, the secret writings of the prophet Daniel, must be returned to the Israelites depends on it.  So Lydia leaves the palace to serve as lady's maid to Herod's wife in the Holy City.
          As Lydia is absorbed into the machinations of Herod's household, her mission--and her people's hope of a Messianic King--are endangered at every turn.  Can Lydia avoid the adulterous intentions of Herod?  Can she deliver the scrolls to the mysterious man on the steps of the Temple?  Will the true King of Israel ever rise?

WARNING: Possible Spoilers

If you are a fan of historical fiction, particularly when it is set in places like Rome, Judea, and Egypt, than you will love this novel!

Forewarning!  This is rather a lengthy review. . .  :D

[The Basics]
This tale centers on a young servant girl and her journey of faith as a child of the One God.  She has grown up Egyptian, knowing nothing of her parents and feeling all her life she had been abandoned as worthless.  She soon learns she is so much more.  Her life takes an unexpected turn, where she goes from being the queen-Pharoah Cleopatra's handmaid to lady's maid of Marc Antony's (Roman politician and general, and lover of Cleopatra) wife, Octavia, sister of Octavian, who later became Caesar Augustus (long story).  Her role as maid for Octavia was brief, as they were only passing through Rome and on to Masada where she would become the handmaid of Mariamme, bride of King Herod (who became the psycho/murderer Herod the Great--the wicked king who asked the wise men the birth location of our King Jesus).

Since leaving Egypt, Lydia had been given an important role by her dying mentor, regarding sacred scrolls, yet sealed, of the writings of Daniel.  As their keeper, she was charged to bring them to the steps of the Temple in the Holy City of Jerusalem and into the hands of the Chakkiym (pro. kahk-keem), men specifically chosen and trained generation after generation to await the arrival of the precious scrolls, which were said to hold prophecies of a coming Messiah.

Lydia constantly doubts her abilities and worthiness, but there is always a friend to comfort her and drive away the depressing thoughts.

She finds friendship with the Queen Mariamme, wife of Herod, her mistress.  Their relationship brings them as close as sisters.

Despite her personal losses, Lydia learns to open up to others.  She loves the feeling of being needed, of having a place to belong.  She has an outward beauty that everyone sees, but also an inward beauty that symbolizes a gentle and quiet spirit.

Though she loves to feel needed and loves to love others, she tries to distance herself for fear of losing them, as she has lost so many that she came to care for.  This causes her to be wary of relationships, unwilling to let anyone get close to her heart.

Upon discovering her true birthright, Lydia and a close friend, fall apart, avoiding each other if possible (but they eventually reconcile).  :]

[Spiritual Content]
Christian fiction!  There is an important theme throughout the whole of the story: Faith in the One God yields power, mercy, and unconditional love.  In Him, Lydia finds true worth and strength.

A woman openly worships a goddess who grants her dark powers, that seem like magic.  From Lydia's perspective, she claims she feels the darkness.  On two or three different occasions, the dark woman attempts to kill Lydia only to be stopped by an invisible force that leaves her perplexed and terrified.  This is an example of the supernatural powers, both good and evil, that wage unseen war.

Lydia, while raised in an Egyptian palace with knowledge of the peoples' gods and goddesses, was taught in the ways of the One God by her mentor, Samuel.  Only later does she come to realize and fully follow His ways.

Politics play a huge part.  And where politics are, there seems to be war also.  Men (and women) are killed, wounded, tortured, and whipped.  Two young men drown (years apart with no relation to the other), both said to be accidents, but it is obvious one had been planned.

A woman is executed by hanging.  A man and woman both commit suicide (part of factual history, actually).  Another man is strangled, and it is mentioned a couple different times the fact that his ears were cut off in order that he would not be eligible for a high position.

Blood and gore, mentioned in detail at times.  Bodies litter courtyards and Temple steps.

[Language, Drugs & Alcohol]
Parties and banquets boast amphorae of wine.  Much drinking at these shindigs, a couple men are said to be drunk.

[Love-y Content]
While this novel is a Christian story, it is also romance.  And need I say more about the era and legacy left by Cleopatra, and her lovers?  Kings (and queens) marry, divorce, and have affairs.  The whole thing is just one big mess.

A poet takes a great interest in the beautiful Lydia, but nothing happens, they simply roam the gardens and talk.  Another servant girl, Riva, is very sensual and tries too hard to please others.  Royalty is accused of taking other royals/servants/guards to their beds.

Lydia, unexpectedly (and yet, it is expected) falls for a man who works as the palace manager.  Though harsh and rough on the outside, she sees what the others do not: a compassionate heart, a loyal patriot.  They share a few kisses and embraces.

I loved this book.  It is filled to the brim with historical facts (mixed with fiction, of course), places, and characters.  And while I'm not too fond of that era with Cleopatra, Herod, and the Roman/Parthian/Judean wars, I couldn't pass up on this story.  If you love history and romance, I would definitely recommend this one.  Each page had me wishing for the next, and an unexpected plot twist near the end made me love it even more.  You'll probably want to cry during some scenes and/or rage in others, then maybe shout a cheer of encouragement as a character stands up for what's right.  And through it all God's love for His people is evident.

To conclude, this is a great novel and a definite favorite.  :]


Recommended ages:  16+

I was provided a copy of this book, thanks to BookLookBloggers.com, for my honest review.

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