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The Way Back to You: Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on May 17, 2018 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident. Her best friend, Cloudy, is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.


Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.


As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they’re barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot out of character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again.


Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.



Short Summary: The Way Back to You is a masterpiece that addresses grief realistically, with ties to all the other difficult parts about being a highschooler.


Full Review:  I found The Way Back to You in the clearance rack at a local book store. When I read the description on the cover, I knew I had to read it

As someone who has faced a lot of her own losses recently, I have been reading tons of books about grief whether they're good or not. THIS book, however, was very good.


The authors of The Way Back to You were not afraid to get their hands dirty. They dove into the topic of grief unafraid and as such wrote a story that was not only captivating, but was healing.

 

People looking for a story they can relate to or to help them learn to cope after losing loved ones will find The Way Back to You to fit the bill. Those who cannot relate but just want a good story will also enjoy the book. It grabs the reader's attention from the beginning and holds it, and by switching between the perspectives of two different characters throughout the story, it is sure to appeal to readers of any gender or personality.


Though this book was written as a YA novel, I doubt there is anyone who would not agree it is a touching story with a lot of heart. It's adventurous, heartfelt, authentic, and surprising. The plot twists are not cliche, the characters are realistic, and the resolution satisfying.

All in all, this was a profound book that will leave a lasting impact on readers.


Overall Rating: 5


Love Letters

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on December 21, 2017 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)



I'm not allowed to read my parent's love letters.


There have been a few times, when we're rearranging furniture or moving to a new home, when my mom will pull the letters out. All of us kids know what they are. We tend to flock when she gets them out, like our chickens do when they hear us shake their food bag. She'll read them, and we'll read the envelopes, because that's all we're allowed to read. They're quite hilarious. My parents rarely used their real names on the envelopes, it was always nicknames, some so outlandish the post office rejected them.


It's incredible to me that my parents still have those letters. They lived in an age where love letters were a primary form of communication. As a kid, it made me upset that I wasn't allowed to read them. Now though, I understand that love letters are surely deeply personal, a treasure that will hold value, that someone cherishes and takes care of, no matter how yellow or faded the paper and ink become.


I've always said, despite the ability to communicate instantly these days, I want to find a guy who will write love letters back and forth with me. I mean, c'mon, you know it sounds adorable.


I know exactly what I'd do with those letters, too.


I'd keep every last one of them. I'd probably read over them every day. I'd leave tear stains on the heart-wrenchingly sweet parts, blush over the areas that talk about how they see me, I'd giggle over our pet names. I'd cherish them, keep them where they're easily accessible. In fact, I might leave them open all the time. After all, what if I see them in passing on the table and just have to pick them up to read a few lines and be renewed by my love?


I'd read and re-read my favorite sections, especially the parts that would say things like “I miss you, and I can't wait to come back and see you.” I'd hold them to my chest when I finished reading and think “I can't believe someone like this thinks all these wonderful things about me.”


I'm getting butterflies just thinking about it.


Oh, the significance of a love letter. How I hope to experience that joy someday. How I long for the time I get to have the delight I've described above.


But wait... I already have.


That's right, mom. I have a collection of love letters sitting on my desk. And they are precious. And they do give me goosebumps. And they do give me a thousand emotions I'll never be able to describe because they're too beautiful.


You can come ground me now.


You could say I'm head over heels for the guy. And the best thing is, I think he's even more head over heels for me.


I'm not kidding. This is not a joke. I just thought it was confession time. How can I contain something this good? I don't even mind if my mom does panic and goes to my desk to read this collection of mine for herself. I'm in love. I can't write so authentically about something I've never experienced before.


I'm being treated like gold. I'm being called perfect, beautiful, wanted, and so many more things. And believe me, I've got some amazing things to call him, too. Things like wonderful, mighty, everlasting, and Abba Father.


I hope I've succeeded in at least mildly freaking some people out, even if most of you probably know me well enough to have been suspicious this whole time. But think about it. We call the Bible God's love letter to us, but do we treat it like it really is? What if we did?


Let me repeat some of the things I said earlier, but apply it to the Bible this time and let it sink in deep.


What if we read over it every single day? What if we left tear stains on the heart-wrenchingly sweet parts, blush over the areas God talks about how He sees us, giggle over the things He calls us? What if we cherished it, kept it where it's easily accessible? What if we left it open all the time, so we can read it when we pass by and be renewed by God's love? What if we read and re-read our favorite sections, especially the part that says He misses us, and He's coming back for us?


What if we held it to our chest when we finish reading it and think “I can't believe someone like this thinks all these wonderful things about me?”


Are you getting the butterflies yet?


It's a beautiful thing when people write love letters to each other. They say and feel all these things about each other in their letters. It touches the heart on a level unattainable by any others. So how much deeper it is to be that loved by the creator of the heavens.


I am guilty of looking at the Bible as nothing more than a book. I've thought it boring, long, hard to understand. But today I'm seeing it through new eyes.


That book sitting on my desk is full of incredible promises and praises and love notes and encouragement and belief and power I will never deserve. I am unfathomably loved. It's an unnatural love, one that makes me laugh, blush, cry, gasp, sing, and re-read every single day.


And it's a love you can have, too.

Hoosier Teens for Houston

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on August 31, 2017 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

"Bad things do happen in the world, like war, natural disasters, disease, but out of those situations always arise stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things." ~Daryn Kagan


One of the biggest mistakes we make when disaster strikes is thinking we cannot do anything. We watch, helplessly, as others suffer. We sit in comfort while others toil, thinking someone else will get to it. Maybe we're crippled by fear, stumped by indecision, or simply don't know where to begin. Some of my friends are proving this mindset is wrong, and I couldn't be more proud of them.


Hurricane Harvey has caused turmoil that likely won't be completely resolved for years. The devestation is almost beyond our comprehension. Over here where we're safe and far away from danger, what can any of us do to help?


The Leschorn and Lenderman families, of Terre Haute, have started a project called Hoosier Teens for Houston. With their two large vans and a trailer donated by U-Haul, they plan to collect and deliver supplies to the people who have been evacuated from their homes.



The Leschorn and Lenderman kids are the first ambassadors of Hoosier Teens for Houston. They hope many other teens will join them to represent their churches and make a larger impact for the people of Houston.  



Stores have been destroyed. Nursing homes have been cleared out. Animals have no shelters. Anything you can buy at a pharmacy without a perscription is needed, and in short supply, in Texas right now.


Hoosier Teens for Houston is asking teen ambassadors to rally their churches and youth groups to help collect what is needed for Houston. Together, they hope to make a real impact on the lives of our fellow Americans. "Nobody deserves to go through what they're going through. We want to try to make it less difficult for them," says Sarah Leschorn.


Hoosiers for Houston prefers donations of supplies, but are also taking monetary donations, welcomes others who want to volunteer to drive and help in Houston when they make the trip, and of course, prayer warriors are always appreciated.


Shannon Lenderman, one of the moms helping back up this project, referenced the song "We Are The Body" by Casting Crownds. "I feel like, in these situations, when we ask God to do something, He is saying 'you are what I'm doing,'" she said.


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The Lenderman and Leschorn families are inviting all of you to join with them, taking practical steps to make a difference. They especially want to provide teens with opportunities to learn about the joy and impact of service to others. Anyone interested in being an ambassador for their church, school, or youth group is welcome to attend an informational meeting at the Lenderman's house on Saturday, September 2 at 6 p.m. EST. To get connected, contact Erica at (812) 821-8483, or visit their Facebook page, by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/Hoosiers-For-Houston-1657064217661219/

Jason Gray Interview

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on May 19, 2017 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

While I was interning for Crown of Beauty Magazine, I had the incredible privilege of interviewing Christian Music Artist Jason Gray. Since Crown of Beauty has made the decision to stop releasing magazine issues, including the issues we had already started piecing together, our team determined not to let any of the material go to waste


I know this interview was both encouraging and inspiring to me. My belief is that anyone else who reads it will gain something of the same. I'm grateful to Jason for taking the time to answer my questions, and I hope all of you take the time to enjoy reading his insightful responses. God bless!





When did you start writing music?


My mom was in a band when I was growing up, so I was always around music. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to make music and I remember making up songs on my way home from school when I was a 3rd grader. I don't know how much that counts! It was later in high school where I really dug in and started trying to write my first songs. They were all brooding, teenage angsty songs about pain and injustice and love :-)


But God was always a part of the picture, even from a very young age. I didn't grow up in the church, so there wasn’t anybody telling me to listen for the voice of God, and yet I still heard it. I had a very difficult childhood, and my first memory of hearing God speak to me was through Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The lyric goes: "like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down...." When I heard that song, it was like God whispered in my heart, "psssssttt... this is how I feel about you. I want to be your bridge over troubled water."


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There was no one in my life to tell me that God loved me, or that he wanted to speak to me, or that I could interpret songs like that in a spiritual way, so there was no reason for me to think that way... and yet, that's how I heard it. Which tells me that it had to be the Holy Spirit, right? Anyway, all of that to say that since then I've always associated music with the voice of God. And I was only ever interested in writing music that I hoped might help people hear the God who wants to speak to them.


Was music the path you always expected to take in life?


Frederick Buechner says that the place that God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger intersect. I've always felt very fortunate that I knew where this place was in my life since a very young age. I know that not everybody figures that out so young, so I feel very fortunate that I always knew that music was the place of my deep gladness and the world's deep hunger.


What does the song writing process look like for you?


It's so terrifying! And it doesn't get easier, it gets harder! But it's also fun and really life giving. I'm a slow writer and the battle for me is to not write from my mind, but to write from my heart. It comes naturally for me to write ideas that might make people think, but as Bono of U2 says, “a feeling is stronger than a thought.” So while I work hard to write lyrics that I hope will provoke deeper thinking, I also hope it makes the listener feel something. That’s always the question for me, “does this line, does this melody make me feel something?”


Aside from that, song writing is a lot like prayer. It requires a lot of silence, reflecting, and listening. I always have a sense that I’m more of a song discoverer than a song writer—that the song already exists and is entrusted to me… and if I listen really well, I can receive the song that is waiting to be born through me.


Who were your favorite music artists growing up?


As I mentioned earlier, I first heard the voice of God through a Paul Simon song, so his music has been and continues to be a major influence in my life. I believe he is the greatest living American songwriter. Peter Gabriel and U2 were bit influences. Later on it would be Rich Mullins and Coldplay. These days I learn a lot from OneRepublic and Jon Bellion. Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman has also been a consistent influence.


Where do you draw inspiration for your music from?


I listen to my own life and try to write the songs that I need to hear, trusting that if I need it, maybe someone else does, too. Generally, I feel like the biggest part of my work is listening: listening for what the Holy Spirit is speaking to and therefore through my life.


Which song that you've written do you consider to be the most pure representation of yourself? Why?


Oh gosh, what a great question! Maybe “Nothing Is Wasted” or “Remind Me Who I Am’—though the song I’m the proudest of is a song called “I Will Find A Way.” Why? Because I believe that hell’s greatest weapons against our hearts are fear (anxiety) and shame (that deep sense of unworthiness).


“Nothing Is Wasted” is my best effort at speaking peace to anxious hearts. “Remind Me Who I Am” has proven to be my most effective song to remind people of their essential belovedness. And “I Will Find A Way” is about the beauty of the way Jesus enters the world (and even our lives) to disarm both our fear and shame.

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What do you want to accomplish with your work?


In the movie “Shadowlands” about the life of C.S. Lewis, a character says, “we read to know we’re not alone.” I think that’s why we listen to music, too. It reminds us that we’re not alone… and that helps.


Music can be so medicinal. It can help us feel feelings that are locked inside of us but for some reason we can’t let out—maybe grief, anger, gratitude, or even joy. Music unlocks hearts.


In my own life the Holy Spirit has used music to help me understand my own life, to give me courage, to pour healing into broken places, to lead me into forgiveness, worship, and compassion; it makes me want to play and dance for joy. It’s just such wonderful medicine. If my music can be any of those things for someone else, then I will feel like I’ve done something worthwhile.


What advice would you give people struggling to find faith for their futures?


Do not be afraid. Do not be anxious about the timing of things. It’s in the times of waiting that God prepares our hearts to be able to hold the next thing he will give us. Take one step at a time. You won’t know tomorrow’s step until you take today’s step—it’s today’s step that will reveal and give clarity to what step to take tomorrow.


Dwelling on the past leads to depression. Speculating about the future leads to anxiety. So be present to the holy now—this moment is when the voice of the Spirit can be heard. If you spend too much time speculating about the future you will end up only talking with yourself. Seek the Lord now—today—and that is where his voice can be heard. You only need to take the very next step. Sometimes you need to wait.


Do you have any new plans or ideas in the works?


I think maybe the Lord is directing me to begin writing a book. I don’t know exactly what that is supposed to be yet, but I think I need to begin writing and trust that what it’s supposed to be will be revealed as I move forward with faith. Today’s step will reveal tomorrow’s :-)


And finally, because we ask this question of everyone we talk to with Crown of Beauty, who is your favorite Disney Princess?


Princess Leia of course.

Heretrua One-Shots: Crystal

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on April 17, 2017 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

It was hot in the training area, humid, and smelled of sweat. Prince Ty stood in the middle of a circle formed by the soldiers gathered around him and a young man who had been bragging of his skills all morning. Naturally, Ty had to put him to the test.


Ty pulled out his sword. “How old are you?” The boy seemed far too young to be half as good as what they all claimed he was.


“Does it matter?” The blond youth shoved thick, wavy locks of hair back from his forehead.


“Not particularly. But I won't pretend I'm not curious.”


“If you win I'll tell you.”


Ty cocked an eyebrow. “Deal.”


The boy lunged at him. Ty blocked the first blow easily but the second came almost before he had recovered from the first. In a matter of seconds, the boy had a strong upper hand and was keeping Ty firmly on the defensive.


Ty waited, biding his time as he learned the boy's habits and watched for weaknesses. Eventually his opponent took a risky step. Ready, Ty took the opportunity to doge the blow and move in on the boy.


The blond hadn't been expecting it, and staggered back, struggling to defend himself from Ty's fast-paced strokes. He made a move so fast and surprising that Ty didn't have time to think. He blocked the blade in the only way that came to his mind and in doing so shoved his blade into the boy's side.


Dropping his sword, the boy backed away, stumbling on the dirt floor and falling on his rear. “Augh. Ow!” He clamped a hand over the wound, but not before Ty spotted the red seeping into his shirt.


“I'm so sorry.” He dropped to his knee next to the boy. “How bad is it?”


“I'm fine,” he muttered through clenched teeth.


“Are you sure?” Ty moved to check. “It felt like I got you pretty good.”


“No.” the boy pushed him away. “I'm fine.”


“Stop trying to act tough and let me look at it.”


“Don't touch me!” The boy's voice cracked and Ty could see fear in his eyes. He helped him to his feet, not letting go of his arm once he had him up. “Come with me,” he said firmly, helping the boy walk to a small room off to the side.


Ty made the boy sit down on a bench. “Now, behave yourself. Sometimes even what seems to be minor injuries in practice can become a big deal if you don't tend to them.”


“I can take care of myself.”


“I'm well aware. But since you're not, I'm going to do it for you.”


The boy protested and fought but couldn't overpower Ty. The prince removed the boy's hand from his side through use of some force to reveal a shirt that was blood soaked at the side. “See? This isn't fine.” He turned to a small cupboard against the wall and pulled out white rags. “Would someone get me a pitcher of water?” He called out the door.


He turned back to the boy and lifted the boy's shirt. The boy sucked in a breath as Ty pushed a rag against the wound. “There's extra fabric in the way,” Ty muttered, mostly to himself. He gripped the white binding material blocking him from properly treating the wound and ripped it. A man came in and handed Ty the water. “Thank you.”


The man's eyes grew wide. “Your highness...”


“I know.” Ty soaked a rag in the water and started cleaning around the boy's wound.


“What are you going to do about it?”


“He'll be fine. Just needs cleaned up so it doesn't get infected.”


“He?”


“Yeah?” Ty finished cleaning and started wrapping rags tightly around the wound.


“I can finish it,” The boy demanded, grabbing Ty's hand forcefully to stop him and taking the bandage away.


Ty put his hands in the air in surrender, letting the boy's shirt fall back down and standing up. “That ought to do the trick.” He finally looked up from his work at the youth in front of him, still dejectedly wrapping the bandage, and in a quick, silent moment realization struck him like a boulder. “You are not a boy.”


The young soldier... now revealed to, in fact, be a female, crossed her arms and glared at him. “No, I'm not.”


Ty looked to the other soldier standing beside him, and back to the girl. “I won. So tell me. How old are you?”


“Sixteen.”


“Your name? Your real name.”


“Crystal.”


“How long have you been here?”


She shrugged. “Couple of months.”



“Where'd you learn to fight like that?”


She peered at him, halfway between a snarl and confusion. “Anyone can do it if they work hard enough at it.”


“True. But not like you just did.”


She flounced back against the wall. “My father's a blacksmith. Makes weapons for the army. I've been around them my whole life, so naturally, I learned my way around a sword pretty quick.”


“What are you going to do?” The other soldier asked Ty.


“What do you mean?”


“It's illegal for a woman to join the army.”


Ty studied the girl before him. “I know. But she's good. And she's already been doing it for months.”


“You're not going to tell the king?”


Ty looked back to the girl, who was still watching him with arms crossed and an altogether disgusted look on her face, and groaned. “I guess I'm going to have to.”



Always Looking Up, by Madison Clark

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on July 1, 2016 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

     "Madison Clark is a mountain of a woman in a little person's body who never lets her short stature stand in the way of her giant spirit. Though uniquely created, she has learned to tackle physical and emotional challenges, fight for her beliefs, and show others that she can do anything they can do-just in a different way. Clark shares an inspiring story about what life is like for a woman who cannot reach a drinking fountain, needs help selecting items higher than the second shelf in a store, and is towered over by a typical fourth grader. While shining a spotlight on the good, bad, and ugly aspects of living with dwarfism, Clark reveals how she has persevered through it all with a never-give-up attitude and a refusal to be excluded that ultimately transforms ignorance into acceptance. In this moving and informative memoir, an ordinary girl living an almost ordinary life embraces her uniqueness and demonstrates that no matter what our challenges, it is up to each of us to determine our own happiness."

Short Summary: In a world that is often brutal and hard to navigate, people are in dire need of positive role models. Madi is an amazing person with an amazing story that everyone needs to hear.

Full Review: I loved reading Madi's memoir! The story of her life is so inspiring. It kept me up late every night because I simply couldn't put it down.
     Madi is a shining example of how to face life's problems and never let them defeat you. She retains her optimism through even the toughest of circumstances. Though she doesn't deny how hard things can get sometimes, she seems to always be able to turn it around for good.
     Reading Madi's life story is like talking with a good friend. I couldn't help but love her and her personality from the very first page.
     Madi encourages and equips people of all different walks of life to make it through whatever this world throws at them. She's shown us that she can do it, and that we can do it, and that anybody can do it. She also educates her readers on dwarfism, how it effects people who have it and the people around them, the different forms it comes in, and so much more. She brings to light how cruel people can be at times, often without any real cause. But while she leaves readers without excuse to change their own character and behaviour, she is ever kind and teaches out of a loving heart.
     In summary, even though it's not likely I'll ever get to meet Madi in person, getting to know her through her book was an honor and a joy. She has impacted my life for the better, and I think everyone could benefit greatly from reading her book.

Overall Rating: 5

*I recieved this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

The Struggle: Mom and the Summertime Blues

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on June 26, 2016 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

     "The story of four sisters-Diamond, Shelia, Crystal, and Felicity who dread their summer break because of their mom. A timely and hilarious read told through the eyes and voice of adolescent authors about their perspective of Mom's summertime "fun".

 

     Young readers will empathize with the youthful perspective of parents and “their ways”. Parents will enjoy reading about the feelings of the four girls in the story, nodding in agreement from the beginning to the end. The entire family will enjoy this book. Instead of those great summer trips and long lazy days of summer, the four sisters complain about having to eat healthy and exercise, do homework and chores, and more. Throughout the book the girls tell of important life lessons taught by their parents. These lessons are told in a comical way."


Short Summary: This is a fun, lighthearted read, written by a family that people will relate to.

Full Review: This is a book written mostly from the perspective of four kids, all different ages, and their differing viewpoints and thoughts make for a unique reading experience. As someone who comes from a family of six kids, it was fun to see and relate to how another family a lot like mine operates.
     Each individual child's personality shines through, as does how their placement in the family (oldest child, middle child, youngest child) effected them. It was especially fun to see how, even though this family doesn't deny that they have faults and disagreements, they do truly love each other. It was realistic.
     The human brain naturally focuses more on the negative than the positive. I would say this book redeemed any negativity in it by how the siblings made a point to point out their love for each other and find good as well as bad and through the conclusion by the mother. However, there were a few times when I felt as though there was a bit too much complaining or focus on problems that didn't seem logical. But then again, isn't that how life is? This book could be used as a mirror through which families can see themselves more clearly. The best writing usually does just that.
     If it wasn't for the last chapter written from the perspective of the mom, I probably wouldn't have liked the book as much, but as it is, it shows how perspective is everything. Look at the same thing through two different pairs of eyes and it will be like looking at two entirely different things. Having so many different voices in this book helped make that clear.
     Overall, this was a really good book for kids and families. There were a few errors and places where the writing style could have been more clear, but I think kids who read this book will enjoy it a lot and think to themselves over and over again "I feel the same way!"

Overall Rating: 4

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Guest Post by Andrew Joyce

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on June 26, 2016 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

     My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Bethanny has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new novel RESOLUTION: Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure. I think it's a good book, but what do I know? Anyway, I'm kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I'll turn things over to my dog Danny--Danny the Dog. So without further ado, here's Danny.


     Andrew took me away from some very important business--sniffing a tantalizing scent--to help him out here. For a person that works with words for a living, he has very little to say in real life. He wants me to tout his book for him, but I don't think I will. Instead, I think I'll tell you about some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head recently.

     I'm Danny the Dog, Esq., and for those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of making my acquaintance, I am Andrew Joyce's roommate and he is my human.

     I've just been reading a little Billy Shakespeare and listening to Kris Kristofferson. Genius will tell out. What got to me this day was how they both spoke to having nothing. Billy said: "Having nothing, nothing can he lose." And Kris wrote: "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."

      In dog years I'm an old man, or an old dog if you will. And with age comes experience and with experience comes wisdom. And with wisdom comes the realization that we need nothing to BE, nothing to exist. We accumulate so much crap and it never makes us happy. Here in America, we have a storage facility on every corner. We have so much stuff that we have to pay someone to hold it for us!

     Over one hundred and fifty years ago, Henry David Thoreau told his neighbors that they saved things--put them in their attics and there the stuff stayed until they died. Then their heirs sold the stuff and other people bought it and put it in their attics until they died. Etcetera...etcetera...etcetera.

     I reckon what I'm trying to say is that all we need--we dogs, humans, and anyones else--is love. There is only love. There is fear of course, the fear of not having enough, the fear of not being loved enough. But love always triumphs over fear. So to my non-dog friends, I say choose love. I'm only a dog and I love my human unconditionally. Love those around you. Never, ever trade your love. Never ask for something. Never ask for something in return for your love because then it is not love.

     That's about it for now. I've gotta get back to that scent before it dissipates.

     Oh yeah, I almost forgot--check out Andrew's new book on Amazon and make the old guy's day.


     This is Andrew again. On behalf of Danny and myself, I would like to thank Bethanny for having us over. It's been a real pleasure.


      It's been so much fun working with Andrew (and Danny) and I'm so grateful for their post on my blog! If you want to see more of Andrew's work, you can check out his book by following the amazon link below. Thanks so much for reading! And thank you to Andrew and Danny!

~Bethanny

https://www.amazon.com/Resolution-Huck-Finns-Greatest-Adventure/dp/0692670904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466879030&sr=8-1&keywords=resolution+huck+finn%27s+greatest+adventure

Invisible Me, by Debbi Mack

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on June 7, 2016 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)


     "Military brat and albino, 13-year old Portia Maddox, has bounced from school to school, always an outsider. So when Denise Laughton, the most popular girl in the seventh grade, asks for her help in exchange for an invite to Denise’s big birthday party, Portia jumps at the chance to go. However, Portia must spy on Randy, Denise’s boyfriend, to find out whether he’s cheating on her.

 

     Portia’s spying unearths a tangled web of duplicity, hidden agendas and family secrets. And when Portia’s budding friendship with social outcast Judy and her feelings for Randy interfere with her plans to endear herself to Denise, Portia must decide who her real friends are."


Short Summary: Invisible Me broaches some of the toughest topics kids face. Moving, making friends, dealing with bullying, divorce, romance, what is right and wrong, etc. However, it has a few flaws that makes it a book to be cautious with.


Full Review: Portia, the 13 year old main character of this story, is the narrator. Because of her dad's job, her family has to move a lot, which is tough enough as it is. To make things worse, Portia is an albino, so kids tend to mock her or be afraid of befriending her.

     Portia is cold and hardened towards people. That's certainly understandable, and many kids feel and act the same way she does when put in similar situations. However, she can be difficult to relate to, and I wouldn't call her a role model. She's the kind of character a reader sometimes has sympathy towards, but other times just want to shake until they come to their senses.

     I believe the themes in this book would be good for discussion groups. There are plenty of questions to be asked and real issues that people can benefit from talking about. However, it also seems to be a rather mature book, and I wouldn't recommend it to just anyone, especially not those already struggling with the same types of problems Portia is. I feel like it would only drag them further down, because it is inconclusive and the main character is self-absorbed. If someone is already feeling down, this book won't help them get any better. It would, however, be good for people to learn how to understand people who feel like Portia.

     It's also hard to tell what audience this book is intended for. It's written in such a way that it may seem cheesy to too juvenile for older readers, but at the same time it's innappropriate for a younger audience. Maybe it would be best for older, mature teens who struggle with reading more difficult books. It is a fairly thin book, and isn't difficult to understand or read. I zipped right through it.

     The one thing that bothered me the most about this book was the constant use of strong language. This is one point I stand most firmly on, especially in children's books. The f-bomb is dropped a dozen times along with other strong words that I would never allow my younger sisters to read, let alone recommend to other kids.

     My job as a book reviewer is two fold. I am to help the authors, and I am to protect the readers.

     To the author I would say this: You have writing talent that just needs a bit of polishing. That's okay, writing is a craft that we never stop perfecting. Keep working on it, because you will have a bright future and career if you keep it up. I appreciate that you aren't afraid of touching on real-life issues. However, I would appreciate it if you were a little more cautious in the future since you're dealing with young people here, and they are a delicate group that should be handles wisely.

     To readers and parents of readers: Use caution when reading this book or giving it to children to read. Once things are in a person's head, they never leave. If you do allow your children to read this, be available to talk to them about it, and encourage discussion. If you are a kid who wants to read this book, use discretion and understand that the way Portia acts and feels is her own decision, and you have the option to make better choices than she does.


Overall Rating: 3


*I recieved this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Author Spotlight: J.W.Webb

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on June 6, 2016 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)


     J.W. Webb is the author of the fantasy novel GOL (The Legends of Ansu). Gol is the first book in an epic fantasy series. The books feature illustrations by Roger Garland the Tolkien Illustrator.



     Webb's biography says that he fell "victim to a weird and random imagination, resulting in a love of epic stories and epic story telling." He continues to explain that this prompted him to "delve deep into the worlds of Tolkien, Peake, Eddison, and Moorock." He started dawing maps of imaginary places and inventing his own stories.

     When he was 27, Webb married a watercolour artist and got, as he puts it, a "sensible career" hauling trucks. This allowed his mind to ramble, and the result was more stories.

     "During one dark winter night back in 1993, whilst parked forlorn outside a dreary inn, something profound happened. I stumbled into Corin an Fol: A moody, rather difficult individual, mooching about in a deep tangled wood (my imagination). That wood grew into a world... the world became Ansu, home to all manner of mismatched mortals and grumpy gods. Late 2001 a plot appeared through the murky trees. It found Corin lost and wandering and introduced him to some other unruly types, resulting in The Shattered Crown," Webb says in his biography. However, "The Shattered Crown couldn't contain its characters."

     "These were (and still are) a very rough lot. They demanded a sequel. Instead (just to show who the boss was,) I focussed on a prequel, Fall of Gol being the result. But still the characters would not leave me alone. And so started The Legends of Ansu a forthcoming series of otherworldly tales, mostly involving Corin and his friends."



     Gol. A continent on the brink of destruction. Once a mighty kingdom, now six provinces torn apart by treacherous barons.

     In one province two young lovers strive to stay together when all else prises them apart. Lissane and Erun must survive to guide their people through the coming storm. The odds are stacked against them. Erun, dreamer and fool, is chosen for a dark path. Whilst Lissane is given away by her father the baron to wed the brutal son of a rival ruler.

     Meanwhile, at the far side of the world a sorcerer has freed the fire demon, Ashmali, setting off a chain of events that could ultimately bring about Gol's long foretold ruin. Caught between rising seas, civil war, and approaching fire the continent’s time is fast running out.

     Gol features beautiful sketches and maps by Tolkien illustrator, Roger Garland. It opens the doors on a new epic fantasy series titled Legends of Ansu. Within its content lies an sweeping tale of love, hatred, vengeance and destruction. In Gol the high courage of a few individuals is all that stands against the will of fickle gods and treachery of men.





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