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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Colonial Courtships

Looking for a short, sweet read to escape from holiday stress? Try Colonial Courtships, a collection of four novellas by Laurie Alice Eakes, Carla Olson Gade, Lisa Karon Richardson and Amber Stockton.

Product DetailsPerfect for cozy reading, this book features four novellas, one each for the four Ingersoll brothers of colonial Connecticut. Nathaniel is a ship figurehead carver who risks his reputation for an indentured servant, Constance. Jonathan, a trader, is forced by a flood to seek shelter at an inn, but the young lady he meets there, Clara, comes with trouble. Micajah is a wounded soldier who longs for peace but finds himself protecting Sarah and her daughter. And the youngest brother, Alden, is impressed by the British Navy, but will he escape after falling in love with the captain’s niece, Phoebe?

The final story by Richardson was my favorite, and it tied up the collection nicely. The heroes and heroines of all four stories, however, are all likable and strong, and their tales of love and redemption are encouraging and entertaining. Not everyone loves novellas because they are shorter by nature and therefore can't go as deep as a trade paperback, but I find novellas to be relaxing--sometimes they provide just the break I need without tying me down to a lengthy story.

Fans of colonial-set Christian romance will enjoy this charming, cozy read.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Love in Three-Quarter Time

Dina Sleiman's Love in Three-Quarter Time is a grand tale of redemption, heartache, and love set to the tune of a waltz.

Set in early nineteenth century Virginia, the novel tells the story of Constance "Gingersnap" Cavendish, daughter of a plantation owner who falls in love with Robbie Montgomery. While they dance the brand-new waltz, he practically proposes, but that night, her world falls apart. Her father dies, their slaves escape, and the truth comes out that her father swindled most of their neighbors. Constance, her mother, and sisters, are shunned by society... and Robbie will have nothing to do with Constance.

Until she shows up as his sisters' dance instructor, hired to teach the girls how to waltz before their debut ball.

An abolitionist, Robbie has freed his slaves and works his own land, to his social detriment. But through his secret work freeing slaves, he knows more about the night Constance's father died than his conscience can bear. 

Anyone who complains Christian novels feature bland, sinless characters won't find that to be the case here. Constance is a bit of a schemer, to put it bluntly. She deceives Robbie's family so she can get a job as his sisters' dance instructor, and she works very hard to make Robbie jealous--and draws others into her schemes. She may be a fiery Gingersnap,  but her exuberance comes with a price, which she must pay eventually. Fortunately, Constance is challenged and learns a lot about God in the process. Neither she nor Robbie are the same people at the end of the book that they are in the beginning.

Fusing cultures and worship styles and set in a young America, this story is entertaining as well as enlightening. As the launch title for Zondervan First, it is moderately priced and well worth a download (click here). I highly recommend Love in Three-Quarter Time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:2-3

Monday, November 12, 2012

History will Teach us Nothing, Right?

Another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Judges 2: 10

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Before I turn on my computer, I...

I bet you thought I'd say pray, huh? Well, yes, I do, but I also do something else which isn't nearly as noble. I own a page-a-day calendar of "stupid things people say." Every day offers a funny quote, misprinted menu item or answers people have given on quiz shows or exams which aren't quite right. For example (please know I am not making fun of anyone here):

Game Show Host (I won't identify which show): When counting down, what whole number follows 37?

Contestant: Er, 19.

The history questions always seem to stump people, too:

Ye olde Wittenberg Door, from wikipedia
World History Final Exam: In 1517, what did Martin Luther nail to the door of a Catholic Church in Germany that, among other things, protested the selling of indulgences?

Student's Answer: Jesus

(Umm, yes, Jesus was nailed to wood, but it wasn't in 1517. And ... oh, never mind.)

Sometimes we hear these types of  questions regarding historical facts that honestly sound familiar. We should know them, but we just can't quite name the answer. Other times, we honestly don't care about things and people and events that occurred centuries ago.

Does history matter anymore? Perhaps I shouldn't ask that here at the Inkwell. We love our history days and fight over them on our calendar. But in general, do you notice a dearth of historical knowledge / understanding in our culture? Schools aren't entirely to blame. Yes, they face budget cuts and are required to teach more and more subjects, but how many times have you heard adults bemoan history as boring and irrelevant?

Not to sound like a frumpy geezer, but don't we need to learn about the past in order to know where we've been and recognize where we're going?

As Christians, I would argue we shouldn't remain ignorant of the rich history of our faith, recorded for us in the Bible. Since the creation of the world, God has been active in the lives of His people. He has worked through governments, battles, victories, defeats, homes, communities, and hearts for thousands of years, moving His people closer toward the fulfillment of His will.

The history of our faith isn't a dry record of long-distant events. It's a tapestry in which we're threads, as precious to the complete picture as those who went before us. Looking at what's gone before us can strengthen our faith, teach us where we're headed, and draw us closer to the God who rules over time.
The Western Wall at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, from wikipedia

So when they were in the desert, where did the Israelites get all the gold for the Ark of the Covenant? Why is the Temple such a big deal, even today? And what was it Martin Luther nailed to the Wittenberg Door?

Pick up your Bible and a book on Church History. I promise you won't regret it.

And who knows? It might come in handy on a game show, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Election's Over...Are We Still Bickering?

It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Proverbs 20:3

The US presidential election is over…do you miss the political commercials that blared persistently for the past few months on TV? Yeah, me neither. All the negativity stresses me out. Analyzing positions, sharing ideas, discussing strategies…I don’t have a problem with that. It’s the bickering—ugh! Some people love that side of politics. Not me.

Before the election, a deejay at a Christian radio station posted the above Proverb on his Facebook page. No commentary accompanied it. No political statement or insinuation that it had anything to do with the presidential debates occurring at the time. Just Scripture.

As a mom, I know a fair bit about bickering. He said that, she rolled her eyes, did not, did too, blah blah blah. I thought, hmm, this is a good verse for my family to memorize.

What a shock to learn how many people started arguing on Facebook with the guy who posted the verse. There were comments like: “You’re calling us to be passive” and “we need to stand up for our rights”, stuff like that.

Nobody seemed to catch the irony of how quick people were quick to quarrel. Also interesting to me, they may have thought they were arguing with the deejay for posting what he did, but the truth is, they were responding to Scripture.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness… 2 Tim 3:16

There are a lot of Proverbs about being slow to argue. To listen instead, to choose our words carefully. Note Proverbs 20:3 doesn’t say to be passive or to never speak up. What it tells us is it’s to our honor when we don’t create turmoil, because anybody can jump into an argument.

How quick are we to quarrel? In matters of political, religious, or parenting beliefs, do we argue with others to persuade them, or worse, to bully or shame them? Has arguing ever persuaded you of anything?

My mind has never been changed by a bickering contest. But engaging in dialogue has.

The same is true with Scripture. God doesn’t argue with us in His word. He states the truth, straight up. Sometimes we argue with Him, however, because the Bible doesn’t say what we want it to. Because it makes us uncomfortable or challenges us. Sometimes I get hung up on verses calling me to forgive or to let God handle something I wasn’t made to shoulder anyway. “But but but” sputters on my lips. Sin colors how we approach God’s word, and how we respond to it.

It’s not always easy, but when we read Scripture that makes us uncomfortable, dialogue with the Lord about it. Tell Him how you feel. Let Him work in your heart, rather than arguing with Him.

And meanwhile, I’ll ask for Him to work on the part of me that is quick to bicker.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Christmas at Holly Hill by Martha Rogers

Rich in faith, heart, and Christmas miracles, Christmas at Holly Hill by Martha Rogers is a delightful holiday read.

It’s Kansas, 1898, and Clay Barlow is just finished serving a five-year prison term for taking part in a bank robbery. The town isn’t welcoming him back with opens arms, but Clay is determined to ease his parents’ burdens at their mercantile now that he’s out of prison.  The only other person in town who seems happy to see him is Merry Warner, the girl he was sweet on before she moved to Oklahoma several years ago. Now Merry is back in Kansas, teaching school and living with her family at the Holly Hill Orphanage, caring for the town’s orphans. She seems to still harbor feelings for him, but she is such a good person—she’s too good for an ex-con like Clay.

Merry knows Clay has changed since he was caught up with the Laramie gang years ago. But has he changed enough, especially in his relationship with God, to be the person he was meant to be? And when he starts keeping secrets, Merry wonders what goes on in Clay’s heart, or if there’s room in it for her at all.

Then tragedy strikes the town and two young people—a little boy and a shy, mysterious young woman—need both Clay and Merry to make their Christmas wishes come true. 

Themes of forgiveness and redemption are intertwined with a plot that takes a few surprising twists into topics like child abuse and adoption.  The story is wholesome and sweet. Christmas is foreshadowed throughout the story, but the final quarter of the book is redolent in signs of the season: pageants, jingle bells, and the town’s first-ever electric-lit Christmas tree.

Readers of inspirational historical romance looking for a wholesome Christmas read will enjoy Christmas at Holly Hill.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of review. A positive review was neither promised nor expected.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Fun--and a Fabulous Contest

I just became a subscriber to Book Fun Magazine, a FREE digital magazine for readers and writers of Christian fiction.  Dedicated to bringing family-friendly books to book clubs and readers, the magazine showcases Christian publishers and authors. With almost 80 pages of articles, it's an interesting read.

To celebrate the launch of the magazine, the Book Club Network is offering The Signature Library Contest--and they're giving away 150 inspirational fiction titles by more than 100 authors (romance, suspense, contemporary and historical). To enter, you just have to subscribe to the magazine.

Among the authors giving away books? Some of my favorites, including (but not limited to) Ruth Reid, Anne Mateer, Jennifer AlLee, and Lisa Karon Richardson.

Also, if you click on the book covers, it helps the authors, so don't forget to click on the covers of your favorite authors!
Here's the Link: http://www.bookfunmagazine.com/i/90331

Good luck with the contest!