Book Review–HOUSE OF SECRETS by Tracie Peterson

I’ve read Tracie Peterson’s work before, but until I came across this book at my local bookstore, I had no idea that she wrote anything other than historical fiction! Not only does she occasionally write contemporary fiction, Peterson writes it VERY well.

FiftHouseOfSecretseen years ago, Bailee, Geena, and Piper Cooper witnessed their father drugging their mother. They kept the secret, thinking that was the only way to reserve any sort of “normalcy” within their family. When their father invites them back to the same summer home where the incident happened, the girls decide it’s time to share what they know. Only the more the talk about that night–with each other and then with their father–the more they realize that really don’t know anything at all.

HOUSE OF SECRETS is a beautifully written book that about the bonds of sisters, and the power secrets can hold over a person. The story also deals with mental illness, and the far-reaching effects an illness can have–even years after the ill person has passed away. The characters are real and relatable. I found myself in or near tears at numerous places throughout the book. This one has definitely earned its place on my bookshelf.

Worth A Read

Visit the author online at http://www.phildavidsonbooks.com/.

Visit the author online at http://www.phildavidsonbooks.com/.

Dreamer, a suspenseful novel by author Phillip L. Davidson, is not your typical Christian fiction book.  There are some moments of rough language and some situations that can be viewed as paranormal.  This is not the type of “easy-going” Christian romance that I normally read and review.  However, I am open to trying new things.  And the fact that main character David Elliot is motivated, at least in part, by his intense love for his wife made this book worth reading.

This book is action-packed.  If you like something fast-paced, this one will be well worth your time.  My only issue with it is the language.  I realize that in wartime, the language used is much different than what I am used to using and hearing on a daily basis.  However, if a book is being marketed to a Christian audience, I do feel the author should take that into account and tone down some of the language used.  Though I enjoyed the story line, the language alone will keep likely keep this book from making it my “read again” shelf.

Lynn

 

 

About The Book:

Is the Dreamer good or evil? As war looms between Britain and Argentina over the barren Falkland Islands, Major David Elliott is having nightmares. Long ago, in a dark jungle near Cambodia, he failed to do his duty. That duty was to execute a member of his team. David’s weakness eventually led to his team’s capture. Tortured by the Viet Cong, they revealed the dark secrets of the CIA’s Phoenix program. Forced to leave the service in disgrace, his men now live in the ‘darkness’. What do the dreams mean for them? David’s wife, Sonia, sees them as harbingers of evil things to come. A revolutionary in Argentina before the war, she escaped to America and became a citizen.

Now, Captain Alvarez, head of the Argentine Secret Police, wants her back. He devises a plan that lures her into returning to Argentina where she is imprisoned on Los Estados Island. Meanwhile, a mystical creature has summoned David and his former team to gather once more to honor the ‘covenant,’ a pact they made with each other when they believed their lives were coming to an end. Together, with an errant priest, Father Perez, they reluctantly agree to assault Los Estados and free Sonia. As they travel across Mexico, Central and South America, they encounter the CIA, Contras in Nicaragua, the M-19 narco-terrorist group and the United States Navy; while all along being shadowed by the mystical entity. Is the entity God or Satan? Will submitting to the will of the entity allow David and his men to stand in the light of men once again? Is the Dreamer good or evil? You decide.

Dreamer is a tale of redemption, honor, courage, belief in God and betrayal! If you enjoy military fiction, this book is for you.

Desires

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

There are a lot of things in my life that I want to accomplish, especially where my writing is concerned. Some days, I look at all of the story ideas I have collected and I wonder where to begin. They all sound so promising to me. Oh, I am sure they are not all going to turn out to be best sellers (wouldn’t that be nice?) Many of them might not even make it off of the idea board. But there is so much material there, I just don’t know what to start with. What do I want to work on first?

And I think that is where my problem comes in. I get so focused on what I want to do that I lose sight of the real reason for my writing. It’s not to get my name on any Best Seller list or to pad my bank account or to bring any kind of honor to myself. Writing is a gift God. Using it to bring glory and honor to the Lord is my gift back to Him.

I know I’ve said it before, and I will likely say it again. This “writing thing” is not about me at all. It is all about HIM, about my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Him, I am nothing.

I lose sight of that every now and then. My dreams and desires come into play, and I forget that the focus needs to be on Him. I find myself needing the reminder that it’s not about me. It’s not about who I am, but what He’s done. It’s not about what I’ve done, but who He is.

So today, I am thanking God for the gifts he has given me. I am making a pledge to put Him first today, to think first about what He might want and pray for guidance before I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!) As much as I want to write, it won’t matter without His blessing.

Lord, be with me today. Guide my thoughts and my hands. Keep me focused on You, so that my desires can match Yours. I love you and I thank for…well, for everything.

2014 Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

I’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks thinking about plans. I suppose I am not the only one. As one year comes to an end, a lot of people think about what they accomplished—or in many case, failed to accomplish—in the preceding 12 months and begin to think of all the things they can do differently with the 12 brand new months just ahead.

Let me tell you, I’ve come up with a lot of plans. Especially where my writing is concerned.

Now, I don’t want to go into all of them here. Oh, I will share them with someone. My best friend will be getting an email shortly detaling my plans and goals, writing wise, for 2014. She is my accountability partner, my chief nagivator (yes, nagivator—she both motivates me to write and nags me to keep on track!) so I like her to know what I have planned. Kind of hard for her to keep me on track if she doesn’t know which track I should be on! I would like to share with you, though, some of the plans that I have for this blog for the coming year.

I would also like to stress that these are MY plans. One thing I know, and I freely admit there are days when is doesn’t feel like I know that many things, is that no matter how good I feel about a plan, if my plan is not God’s plan it is not going to work out. So even though this is what I plan to do, if God switches things up on me, I am going to go with that. My number one goal with my writing—a goal I am sad to say I have lost sight of in recent months—is to bring glory and honor to The One who gave me the ability and desire to write in the first place. This is all about God, what He wants, the stories He needs me to tell. Right now, I feel as if the plan I have in place is the direction He wants me to go. But if He asks me to change directions, I am willing to do that.

His will be done, not mine.

That being said, here is what I am planning at Lynn’s Corner in 2014.

  • One post per day, Monday through Friday, based on a Scripture. I have a personal goal to spend more time in The Word this year, reading my Bible daily and memorizing verses. Sharing them with help with that.
  • 52 book reviews, one posted each week through 2014
  • Spotlighting 52 Christian fiction authors, one each week, through the year. Look for the first author spotlight on Monday, January 6! (and if you know of an author I should add to my spotlight, please let me know!)

 

Those are my three main goals, my plans for the year on this blog. Of course, there will be other things in there, too. As I continue working toward my Bachelor of Arts degree (which I should receive in June!) I know I will be writing more short stories. Those will likely be shared here as well. And I am working on a novel. Something tells me I’ll be sharing progress on that throughout the year.

I am excited about this year! Hope you are, too!

New Year, New Heart

 

Create in me a clean hear, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

It’s a new year.  Resolutions are flying all over, with people taking this opportunity to try to better themselves. 

I’ve made resolutions in the past.  I’ve not been good at keeping them.  Usually by the middle of January the good intentions of my resolution have flown out the window.  I think the longest I’ve ever stuck with one is through my birthday, in mid-February. 

That is why I have decided to not start of 2014 with a resolution.  I want a better life.  I want to be thinner, to make better choices, to be calmer, to be healthier, to be more content than I was in 2013.  But resolving to be isn’t going to helping.  Even taking action toward those things won’t change them.  Not unless I understand the motivations behind them.  So I have decided to start of this beautiful New Year with a prayer.

My prayer for this year comes right from the Bible, from the heart of King David.  Funny how a man who lived thousands of years ago could write the words that so accurately describe my heart today….  The words are recorded in Psalm chapter 51.

Verse 3: “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”  I am far from perfect.  I make mistakes on a daily basis, mistakes I cannot hide from.  Mistakes I no longer want to hide from.  Lord, I know my anger and my attitudes are wrong.  I see it, and I give it to You.  Take this from me and turn it into something You can use for Your good.

Verse 10-12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  Cleanse my heart, Lord.  I want it to be filled only with love—love for You and for all of the wonderful things You have created.  I know I have messed up, but please don’t give up on me.  Don’t push me away.  I ask Your forgiveness for the times I have pushed You away.  Being with You is the sweetest joy, and I want more of that joy in my life.  I can feel You here now, in this moment.  I pray that I feel this sweetness and joy every moment, only a little stronger each day.

I love You, Lord.  I love You so much that the thought of hurting You, of disappointing You saddens me.  This New Year, 2014, Lord, I am dedicating it to YOU.  Everything I do is for You, for Your glory. 

Book Review: A Christmas Kindness

The Christmas season always brings with it a lot of obligations and expectations.  It’s easy to let these things interfere with the real meaning of Christmas, to get so focused on what we need to do and what we want that we forget all about others.

That’s just what happened to 8-year-old Robert in C.C. Gevry’s A Christmas Kindness.  He was excited to see Santa and completely focused on what he wanted to ask the jolly old man for that he didn’t stop to think about anyone else.  But that all changes when a loose shoelace leads to a chance meeting with a little boy who has only one very simple wish for Christmas—a picture of himself and his little brother sitting on Santa’s lap.  That one wish changes Robert’s whole attitude toward the holiday.

This adorable story, as well as the beautiful illustrations by Caroline Mabey, will warm the heart of the stingiest of Scrooges.  It’s sure to become a Christmas favorite for your family, as it has for mine.

 

cover wrap.indd

About the book:

Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who has only one request for Santa, Robert is confused over what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Excerpt:

Inside the mall, Christmas music and the tinkling of jingle bells tickled Robert’s ears. With his mother, Robert weaved through the crowd of shoppers. He smelled fried food from Burger Mart. The sweet scent of warm chocolate chip cookies from the bakery made his mouth water.

 

Purchase information:

4RV Publishing

Amazon

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble Nook

Kobo

 

 

 

About the author:

Cheryl MalandrinosC.C Gevry is a children’s author from Western Massachusetts. A Christmas Kindness is her first book with 4RV Publishing. She is also a member of the SCBWI. Ms. Gevry is married with two young children and a son who is married. Visit her online at http://ccgevry.com

 

 
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Who Am I?

“(I)t annoyed me that someone else would decide for me whether I could or couldn’t handle following a dream while being a wife.  It was almost as if becoming a wife meant giving up any other part of me.  But I really begged to disagree.  And I was even more determined that it wouldn’t happen.”
My So-Called Life As A Proverbs 31 Wife
Sara Horn

This very accurately describes my life.  Between being a wife and a mother, I feel like I have lost track of who I am.  It’s not a decision anyone else made for me.  Honestly, it’s not even a decision that I made for myself.  Not consciously, anyway.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a Mom.  Kind of strange, actually, because I am really not a big fan of kids.  It’s not that I don’t like them.  I just don’t want to be constantly surrounded by them.  And a mom, unless she is able to afford nannies, is almost always “surrounded” by kids.  I am not sorry that I have kids; these boys are the greatest blessings I could have ever imagined.  Life without them is not something I even want to consider.  I have to share them with school teachers, and that is bad enough.  Last week, one of them asked when he can date—and he is only ten!  My time with them is growing short.  I’m not looking forward to the day when there is another girl who is more important to them than I am.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t know who I am outside of being their mom.  I went from Rob and Irma’s daughter, to John’s wife, to Andru, Robin, and Seth’s mom.  There is nothing wrong with any of these roles in my life.  My parents, my husband, my children, they are all very special people in my life, very special blessings that I would not want to live without.  It’s just that I have spent so much time filling those roles that I don’t really know who I am.

Who is Lynn?

I wonder if this is a normal thing.  Does every mom go through this?  Does every woman go through it?  What about men?  Do they have an identity crisis, a time when they just don’t know who they are?

I am in the process of trying to figure out just who I am.  The problem is, I feel selfish while doing it.  This process requires putting a lot of attention on myself.  It means thinking about my needs and my wants, my likes and my dislikes.   I am trying my hardest to balance out what is good for me with what is good for my guys, but it is hard.  Balancing is not something I’ve always been good at, but I am trying.

It’s important to me that I do figure it out.  I want to be the best wife and mom I can be.  My guys deserve that.  To be that, I need to figure out who Lynn is.  There has to be more to the woman I am than just wife and mother.

And I know that whoever it is that I am, God created me to be and do something special.

I just need to be patient while He works out just what that “special” thing is.

The Monster

The Monster

                I felt the monster the moment the car turned onto my old street.  I could not actually see the house, but I knew the monster was there.  My heart beat faster, my palms began to sweat, my breath came out in rapid gasps.  I shifted in my seat, craning my neck to look in the backseat, nearly convinced that my monster would be physically there, behind me, chasing me.  It was enough to make me want to vomit.

“We don’t have to do this.”  My babysitter and chauffer, my mother had been against this little trip from the moment I suggested it.  She’d been against a lot of decisions in my life, yet that had never stopped me.  Of course, if I had listened, the monster would not be there, following me, taunting me, keeping me from leading a healthy, normal, productive life.

But this time, ignoring her misgivings was the right thing to do.  It was the only way to ever get the monster off my back and out of my life.  It was the only way to get my life back, to be free.

And I needed freedom.  Needed it more than my lungs needed the air they were desperately grasping for.

“Keep driving,” I told Mom, forcing myself to face forward.  I closed my eyes, counted to ten, breathed in as deeply as I could, imagined being in my happy place—used every calming technique I’d learned in years of therapy to chase away the monster and every panicked feeling his presence evoked.  Nothing worked.  I could run—again.  But I was tired of running.  “I have to face this,” I said, as much to assure Mom as to reassure myself.

She still wasn’t sure, but she drove.  The car inched closer to the house; soon I could see the rooftop, then the upstairs windows, the porch, and finally the front door.  It stood there, innocently, as if the pain and anguish that had occurred in its walls had meant nothing.

DSCF5249The closer we came to the house, the less innocence I saw.  Sadness.  The years, I noticed with a small sense of glee, had not been kind to the building.  The siding was cracked and pulling away in places.  Paint had chipped off the wooden support beams of the front porch, some of which were cracked, broken, barely able to stand up to the weight of that porch roof, which itself was falling down.  If the house could feel, I think it would be feeling sadness.  Because it knew the end was coming?  Or because of the horrors that had occurred inside, horrors the building had been unable to stop?

Mom pulled the car to a stop across the street.  A workman wearing a yellow hardhat and orange safety vest approached us.  “Sorry, Ma’am,” he said gruffly.  “You can’t park here.  Demolition will start soon.”

“How soon?” I asked.

“Soon,” he repeated.  “The car is not safe here.”

I opened the door and got out, ignoring the look of frustration on his face.  The monster followed me out of the car, once again breathing down my neck.  The door closed behind me and Mom drove away, to a spot we had agreed on before making the trip.  She’d walk the two blocks back, to stand with me and watch the destruction of the first house I’d ever purchased, the building that should have been a happy home for me, my husband, and our children.  She wouldn’t be gone for long.  I turned to the worker, whose face still carried a great deal of irritation.  “May I go inside?” I asked him.

“Inside?”  The sound of his voice conveyed his true feelings; he wanted to ask if I was insane.  The answer, quite possibly, was yes.  Perhaps I was insane.  This house, that monster at my back, both had led to my questionable state of mind.

“It’s my house,” I said.  “Or it was until I sold it to the city.  All I want is one last chance to walk inside.  Is that possible?”

I didn’t wait for an answer, just walked across the street, marched up the three steps, and pushed open the front door.  It didn’t take long for someone to follow me, shouting at me that I needed to stop, needed to walk back outside.  I ignored the voice.  The monster was still behind me, but I knew I could leave him behind in this building.  All I had to do was see it, I had to see that room.  His life had ended here.  If I was going to finally put the monster to rest, I needed to see the place where he had died.  I just needed my eyes to rest on it one last time.

It was old, falling down from years of neglect.  Just like my heart.  The house had to be torn down.  And with it, his recliner, the chair that he had seen as his throne, the chair he’d not been able to tear himself out of to get help in the last moments of his sad, pathetic little life.  I needed to see it, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was still there, in its place of honor in what had been the living room, positioned so that the view of the television, had it been there, would have been perfect.

As I looked at it, I began to breathe harder again, could feel my heart beat faster, could feel the monster closing in on me.  DSCF5248Hadn’t felt that level of hatred and anger in years, not since I’d escaped the house, escaped his rule.  But the fear, the fear I had always associated with this chair, with the man that lived and died in it was gone.  I was no longer scared of him.  But I was angry.

I hated him.  He was dead, and yet I hated him.  With every fiber of my being, I hated him.

I allowed myself to be escorted out of the house, back across the street to where my mother was standing.  I was admonished to stay put.

A man climbed up into a large crane, started the engine.  As the crane’s claw reached toward the roof of the house, I imagined I was in control.  It was my hand tearing through the roof, pulling apart boards and insulation, reducing the dwelling to broken bits of debris.  As the engine roared, I roared as well.  I yelled, I screamed.  I allowed another piece of my anger, of the monster that had followed me from this house to escape my body.  The claw tore through the upper floor, and I saw myself tearing him apart, piece by piece.  The way had done to me.  I watched the lower floor come apart, could see his precious recliner pulverized.

When it was over, when the roar of the engine died, I could only stare at the empty lot.  Other equipment was moved in to clear out the remains of the house, and yet I stared.  It was gone.  The house was gone.  The monster was gone.  I was alone.  I was free.

“Are you alright?” my mother asked.

I turned to her.  Smiled.  “I am,” I said.  “It’s over. I am free.”

The Tase of Fear

So I am in my second of three fiction workshops at SNHU this term.  Week one, the assignment was to write a story that focused on point of view.  I pulled this one out of my archives (don’t worry–for the first two weeks, using previously written work is allowed!)  I originally wrote it from a story prompt about the meaning of fear.  Reading that prompt brought to mind a schoolyard in the late 19th ore early 20th century.  This is what I came up with.  I entered it into a contest, which I didn’t win.  So I thought that using that story for my class would be good.  I’d like to know what I could have done better to help me win a contest like this in the future.  Please, let me know what you think.

Lynn

The Taste of Fear

Bein’ scared ain’t nothin’ new to me. I been scared plenty a times in my life. Like when Mama says she is gonna make a pie. Any man would be scared o’ that. Biscuits, potatoes and carrots, maybe even some boiled meat. Mama makes them good. But she can’t make a pie fit for the pigs.

Tellin’ Mama her pies ain’t no good is scary, too. She asked me once why I wasn’t eatin’ it. Said I didn’t wanna break my teeth. Papa was up outta his chair, smackin’ me ‘cross the face afore I even knew he had moved. Learned never to be honest about bad cookin’ that day.

Don’t tell nobody, but storms scare me, too. It’s not the rain or the lightnin’ or even the thunder that bother me. Can handle all that. It’s the wind. The way it blows the trees outside my bedroom window, makin’ the branches scratch at the side of the house—it rattles me. I always imagine it’s the devil hisself tryin’ to get at me. Can’t never get a good night sleep with a storm makin’ those trees knock on the house that away.

Even with all those things in my life, I can still say I never knew the meanin’ of fear until I kissed Becky.

Didn’t expect to kiss Becky that day, or any other neither. She wasn’t my girl. Didn’t want her to be my girl. Becky was Big Richard’s girl. I may not have been the smartest one in the school yard, but even I knew not to upset Big Richard. Everyone knew Becky was gonna marry Big Richard.

Everyone but Becky, anyhow. Becky said she wasn’t gonna get married. Said she was too smart for that. Don’t know what she thought she would do without a husband. Maybe be a school teacher. She had the smarts for it. Most woulda said she was too pretty for that. I don’t know. She was nice girl, always sharing her molasses cookies in the school yard at lunch. She mighta been a friend, I suppose. But that kiss messed everything up.

I didn’t mean to kiss her. I was just standin’ there, mindin’ my own business when I heard Becky yellin’ at Big Richard. Most people wanted to yell at him, but only Becky ever did it. Teacher never dared yell at him. And all us boys in the school, even the ones actually older than Big Richard, was too scared a him to talk in a normal voice. We never woulda yelled.

Becky, though…. There was somethin’ special about her. She was everyone’s friend, and Big Richard, he didn’t like that. He wanted Becky all to hisself. I think that is why they was fightin’ that day. Big Richard was tellin’ Becky how he expected her to act, since she was his girl. Becky was tellin’ Big Richard she belonged to no man.

“Give me back my book, Richard Taylor,” Becky yelled, chasin’ him across the school yard. She was the only girl in the school who didn’t mind havin’ her skirts drag in the dirt and mud. She woulda been happier if she could wear trousers, like us boys did. “Give it back!”

“You want this book back?” Big Richard said, laughin’ at Becky. He stopped in front of her and held the book over her head. She jumped and jumped, but couldn’t reach it. “Don’t know why you need it for.”

“It’s called ‘reading’,” Becky told him. “Maybe you should try it yourself sometime.”

“No point in you readin’,” he told her.  “Not something you are gonna have time for after we are married.  You will be too busy cleanin’ the house and birthin’ babies for stuff like readin’.”

“I am not going to marry you, Richard Taylor,” Becky said. “Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” She stomped her little foot. “Now give me back my book.”

“You can have it back,” he said, still holdin’ it out of Becky’s reach, “for a price.”

I watched as Becky placed her hands on her waist. “What price?” she asked him.

“A kiss,” Big Richard said. “Right here, in the school yard, before teacher calls us back in. I’ll give you back the book for a kiss.”

“A kiss?” Becky repeated. “Just one kiss, and I can have my book back?”

Big Richard nodded. “That’s the price. Just one little kiss, and you can have the book back.”

Becky looked around her, probably hopin’ to see Teacher nearby. Kissin’ in the school yard was not somethin’ teacher would put up with. But she wasn’t there. She was still inside, gettin’ our afternoon lessons ready. Instead what Becky saw was me. She smiled at me. “OK, Richard,” she told him sweetly. “You win.”

Big Richard smiled. He lowered the book, getting’ read for the kiss.

Instead of steppin’ toward Big Richard, Becky stepped toward me. Before I knew what was goin’ on, my life changed.

Becky placed her hands on my shoulders. Her face was right in front of mine. I noticed that she smelled good, like the rose water Mama washed in on special days. Then her lips touched mine. It happened very fast. So fast, I nearly thought I was dreamin’.

There was a thud as Becky’s book hit the ground. The thud was followed by a scream from Big Richard. “Not him!” he hollered. “You was supposed to kiss me.”

Becky calmly picked up her book. With a sweet smile, she said, “You did not say who I was supposed to kiss, Richard. You just said I would get my book back for one little kiss.”

Teacher rang the school bell then. Becky waved at Big Richard, winked at me, then headed back into the school. I tried to follow her, but Big Richard stepped in front of me.

“Hope you enjoyed that, boy,” he growled at me, “’cause you are gonna pay for kissin’ my girl.”

Yep, I knew what it was like to be really, truly afraid then.

And with the memory of Becky’s sweet lips on mine, I have to say fear tasted pretty good.