I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Perfect Pastor's Wife?

All this week on the Inkwell Inspirations blog, we're celebrating the release of our own Jennifer AlLee's new book, The Pastor's Wife. To kick off the week's festivities, I offered a post on being married to a pastor: the good, the bad, and the unexpected. What a difficult post to write! I worked on it for over a month, hoping to communicate the challenges and blessings without getting too specific or emotional. (Click here to read it.)

Jennifer AlLee isn't a pastor's wife herself, but she's worked in churches and understands the dynamics and demands on a pastor's family. I should disclose that she's also been a great friend to me. Though we've never met face to face, she's shown nothing but patience with my techinical blogging issues and writing questions!

Jen has graciously agreed to be a guest on Tea and a Good Book on February 18, and she'll be giving away a copy of The Pastor's Wife. So mark your calendars and plan on dropping by that day! You won't want to miss it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: The Raven Saint

Christy Award Finalist and bestselling author M.L. Tyndall delivers romance and adventure on the high seas in her inspirational new release, The Raven Saint. Set in the early eighteenth century – the era of pirates, tall ships, and the expanding New World – the story is rich in faith, swashbuckling action, and richly-drawn characters whose experiences with God and each other make for a satisfying, fun read.

Grace Westcott is nothing like her wayward sisters, whose souls she prays for daily. She takes seriously her Christian duty to help others, and it is while serving the poor that she is abducted by Rafe Dubois, a ruthless French sea captain. He anticipates the sweet price a Spanish don has offered for her delivery to Colombia, but Rafe has another motive in kidnapping her: revenge against her father, a British admiral. Trapped onboard Rafe's ship, Grace is frightened, but determines to serve God in whatever task He hands her as she waits for rescue. When God does not deliver her in the way she expects, however, her faith is challenged. And when she finds herself drawn to the ungodly Captain Dubois, her entire worldview is turned upside down.

In an inspirational romance, a heroine with a heart after God is expected (and if she isn’t a Christian, she’ll be converted by the end of the book, of course). Grace fits the bill: she’s prayerful, helps the needy, and is concerned about others’ spiritual well-being, especially those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord. Grace’s spiritual journey, however, is unlike any I’ve ever read about. Her faith is tested when God allows her to be taken captive and her prayers appear to go unanswered. For any who have wrestled through periods of darkness, times when it seems that God remains silent and abandons us to our own devices, Grace’s struggle is thoroughly relatable and realistic. I also appreciated how she grows through the story, recognizing the sin in her own life and learning to love Jesus for who He really is.

Rafe Dubois is a captivating hero. Naturally, he’s dashing and romantic: I loved the scenes where he is in command of his ship during a skirmish, utterly confident and comfortable with the sea. Likewise, his story is compelling, and Tyndall constructs his character so well that, like Grace, I wanted to see him freed from his anguish and sin, despite his roguish ways. His journey of faith is well-crafted and moving.

While The Raven Saint is the final book in Tyndall’s Charles Towne Belles Series, don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first two books in the series, The Red Siren and The Blue Enchantress. The Raven Saint does offer a sense of conclusion to the stories explored in those volumes, but the book stands alone, and shouldn’t be missed by any fan of inspirational romance.
M.L. Tyndall is a guest on Inkwell Inspirations today. Don’t miss the chance to learn more about her or her stories! Click here.

The Raven Saint is a Barbour Publication, available now at your local Christian bookseller and on your favorite bookselling website.

Please note that I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of this review.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Love in My Life

Our kids received a lot of things for Christmas that were on their lists: Wii games, Star Wars legos, and books. But there was one thing that they didn't find under the tree. Something round and warm and accident-prone. Something that woofed. They were bummed, to put it mildly.

They had one last present to open, however: a box of milkbones. My husband and I wanted to show them that we were seriously looking for a dog to become part of our family.

So, after numerous phone calls and visits to the pound, rescue shelters, and breeders, here he is! Our new puppy!

Happy furry Friday! (Corgi group)Image by tanakawho via Flickr

Isn't he sweet? Just four weeks old and a perfect little red Pembroke Welsh Corgi. In a few months, he'll look like a miniature version of the red corgi in the center of this picture. His sweet mama is also red, and what a doll she is. I pity her, though: she's nursing a whopping litter of nine puppies, bless her heart. And our little guy (at least from the little we could see) seems to be pretty assertive when it comes to food. Just like a lot of men I know.

He doesn't have a name yet. The list of potential candidates -- preferably British, befitting a Welsh dog and the breed favored by Queen Elizabeth -- is quite lengthy. Sigh. For now, he's "Baby" or "Mr. Foofball," but we'll find something before he comes home.

He's not ready to come home with us yet, but I'll probably need every day of the wait to get ready for him. You see, I've never had a dog before. Never. So I'm reading as much on puppy care, training, and development as I can.

If you have any good book recommendations, puppy tips or stories, I'd love to hear them!

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Review: The Glassblower by Laurie Alice Eakes

Set in New Jersey in 1809 , The Glassblower by Laurie Alice Eakes is an enjoyable new inspirational book, well-crafted and rich in historical detail and romance.

Margaret Jordan doesn't lack much materially, as her father is the owner of a glassmaking business. He's provided a building for her to accomplish her heart's desire: educating the local children, regardless of their class and without sending them away, as she was as a child. She's excited about her future, until her father informs her that it includes marriage to neighbor Joseph Pyle, a handsome and wealthy man, 'tis true. But there's something about him Meg doesn't care for...

When her attempt to save a kitten draws her up a tree and dangles her over troubled waters, both literally and figuratively, a red-haired stranger with a Scottish brogue must help her down. The stranger, Edinburgh-native Colin Grassick, is her father’s newest employee at the glassworks. Her heart is touched as never before by the the master glassblower, but she shouldn't entertain such dangerous thoughts. While America may be the newly-minted land of the free, where all men are created equal, her father will surely not accept a craftsman for her daughter’s husband, no matter how skilled, kind, or godly.

Joseph Pyle won't accept Margaret's marriage to anyone else, either.

Any romance reader wishes for the hero and heroine to be likable, worthy and interesting, and Colin and Margaret both fit the bill. Colin is gentle, righteous, and conflicted over his feelings toward Margaret as well as his difficult past. He knows he should "keep his head down" so that his family can join him in New Jersey, but he yearns to protect Margaret from the devious Joseph Pyle, though his involvement could risk his future, as well as his livelihood. Likeswise, Margaret’s teaching plans are noble, and she is a thoughtful friend and daughter. Her duty to obey her father battles against the desires of her heart. She grows in faith during this process, and I especially appreciated the moment Margaret realized that she perhaps hadn’t sought God’s will for her own life.

All of the historical tidbits in the story, whether they have to do with glassblowing, grating sugar from a cone, or wearing pattens in the snow, are woven deftly into the plot. The author is known for her thorough research, and she is quick to graciously share information with budding authors (like me) who have questions about how things looked, sounded, or were accomplished in the past.

As a Heartsong Presents novel, the story is sweet, short, and in my opinion, appropriate for readers of many ages.

If you’re a fan of cozy historical romance, you’ll definitely enjoy this well-researched story. Currently, it's available from the publisher, www.cbd.com, and christianbook.com. It will soon be available from Amazon and your favorite Christian bookseller. Check it out!

Visit Laurie Alice Eakes' blog here and her website here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author. There was no compensation or expectation of services rendered for my review.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Too Stressed to Rest?

SleepImage by bitzcelt via Flickr

Good morning! I hope this new day finds you refreshed, ready to accomplish God's work.

I confess that I don't usually wake up this way, or to paraphrase Therese of Lisieux, happy to see what excitement God had in store for her. I generally wake up earlier than I want, pulling myself out of a dream to go over my to-do list for the day.

Not very healthy, and not very glorifying to God, either.

Today on Inkwell, I posted a little feature on rest. It's become a spiritual discipline for me, a resolution, if you will, for 2010. Along with finishing my newest manuscript and cleaning my office, I'm going to balance myself, trust in the Lord, give my cares to Him and allow Him to handle the world while I rest.

Best fact I learned in reseaching this post (from Eugene Peterson): that the word "Sabbath" doesn't mean holy, worship, set apart, or anything sacred. It means something more akin to "wasting time."

Pretty cool, eh?
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