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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.




Edith From Wessex, by Regine Sondermann

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

“You’d like to love me, but you don’t really know me.”
     "With these words, Queen Edith begins to speak to us, as if she were still able to address us, though she lived over a thousand years ago. Magdeburg author Regine Sondermann draws the reader close to this woman from the early Middle Ages, about whom little was known until now. She was young and came from England. She died at the age of 36, and she was laid to rest in the Magdeburg Cathedral. The author sifted through documents and history books to discover small shards of Edith’s short life, like a ceramic bowl destroyed long ago. She has pieced them together in this story of a woman and her family, which takes the reader to an unfamiliar land that seems so close but is infinitely far away."

Short Summary: Regine clearly cares a lot about the topic she's writing about. Her research has gone a long way to creating a wonderful story ringing true to readers today while helping us relate to a woman from a past much different from our current world.

Full Review: It took me a chapter or two to really get into this book, but once I did there was no escaping.
     I loved getting a historical account of Edith that was so full of facts woven together to create an amazing story. I could relate to Edith, though she lived in such a different time period than I do. However, that relation was not because she was just like me. She was entirely different from people living today. I saw a quote once that said an author's job is to make familiar things feel new, and make new things feel familiar. Regine did this very well in her book.
     I feel like this book brought out how humans have always been humans, throughout all of history, and just because a woman lived in a time when there were different expectations didn't mean they didn't still have opinions and feelings.
     One complaint I have is that it is a bit of a stiff book, and by that I mean it's not for entertainment purposes. I mostly review books that have a specific problem driving the plot. This was a factual account of a person's life. Edith From Wessex was obviously written to help people gain knowledge and understand a certain point in history. That's not a bad thing, but it's certainly not for everyone. Anyone who loves history would love this book, and those who don't love history as much may still be able to enjoy this particular book more than other historical literature.
     Most authors make it their goal to jump straight to the action in a book, or grab the reader's attention right away. This isn't so easily accomplished when an author wants to tell a life story from start to finish. There's only so much you can do to make the date of a person's birth interesting. However, I think Regine did a fantastic job with what she had to work with and got creative on ways to draw reader's attention from the start.
     The book left me with a lot of food for thought. There were many quotes scattered throughout it that could easily be framed and hung on a wall. Edith was portrayed as having a wise outlook on life, and while she was most certainly human, she handled circumstances thrown at her in an admirable way, and is a good example for any reader.

Overall Rating: 5

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

$20 Amazon Gift Certificate Giveaway

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on May 5, 2016 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)



Author Matt Abraham is running a giveaway for an $20 Amazon Gift Certificate! Click on the link below to enter. 


https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d23c7ade3/


 

     "Awarded Pulp Detective's Best Newcomer of 2015, Matt Abraham spits hot PI palaver mixing Mickey Spillane with the classic super heroes from the golden age. In his series Black Cape Case Files we follow Dane Curse, a former black cape turned PI, as he navigates the powered underbelly of Gold Coast City. While not writing, Matt's engaged in juggling his newborn baby boy Kal, and supportive wife Jenny, all in the People's Paradise of China."

 


     Be sure to check out Matt's work on Amazon! If you win, you may want to use the gift card to buy his book. ;)


     The best of luck to you all!

Dear Mom...

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on May 5, 2016 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Dear Mommy,

 

     Mother's Day comes only once a year. It seems odd and insignificant to spend only one day out of the year celebrating the people who brought us into existence and shaped who we are. Once every year we do what small things we can to show you our appreciation for all that you do 24/7/365. You deserve to be celebrated every day. There's never enough that I can do or say, nothing I can give you that measures up to all that you've given me. It's one of those days of the year where I am forced to pretend like "thank you" and "I love you" is enough. But those things never seem to say what I want them to say. And the amount of times I say it doesn't add up to the amount it should. Those words touch the fringes of what I feel, but they don't go deep enough.

 

     The question is, how does one tell another person that they love them to the extent beyond what words can say? Is it even possible to express as much love as I want to? As much love as you deserve?

 

     And the answer is, you've shown me how. You've been saying "I love you" to me, to our whole family, your entire life. You've been saying it from the time you were a girl who wanted twelve kids when she grew up. Your dream has always been to be a wife and mom, and I've been told we are your dream come true. It's one thing to have your own dreams come true, but to be told that you are another person's dream come true? Especially when that person is the one you most look up to, admire, and love? That is an unmatchable honor.

 

     When you prayed over each one of us from the moment you knew we existed, that was you saying "I love you." From the time you first held each of us in your arms to coaching us through our early accomplishments and friendships, you've been saying "I love you." When helping us during those awkward in between years when everything is changing, from the way we think and perceive the world to the way our skin behaves, you were saying "I love you." When I started to pursue the things I've wanted my whole life, when I've started to fulfill what you've raised me up to do and become... you've believed in me the whole time, and you've been saying "I love you" through all of that.

 

     Most importantly, you've taught me that Jesus loves me. I was already His in the womb, because you dedicated my life to Him, and it was the best thing you could have done for me. And now you, along with my father, help me to see the very tiniest bit of what my heavenly father must be like through your example. I think I understand Him better because I have you.

 

     You've been a mother for sixteen years, and you're still saying "I love you" in everything you do every single day. It's in how you let me follow you around the house and talk until I have said everything that needs to be said and then some. It's how you hold me when I need to cry. It's in our hugs before I go to work or to bed each night. It's in how we text each other back and forth when we're apart because I just can't stand being away from you. It's in how after long days, I just need to be with you in silence, because you mean peace, acceptance, comfort, and love. It's in how you encourage me to live my dreams passionately every single day. It's in the fact that you are my best friend, and I can tell when I'm with you that it's not forced. You truly enjoy your children, and that means the world to us.

 

     It also means everything that you listen to us and take us seriously, even when we're not making any sense. Even when we're very young, you listen and discuss things with us in mature ways. You take our opinions seriously, and treat us like people who matter. You believe in us when we don't believe in ourselves. If I come to you and say "this may sound crazy and stupid, but..." you listen and then say "That sounds amazing." You're the mom who has her kids with her everywhere she goes, and there's a massive hole any time we're apart.

 

     I know I will never have a friend as valuable as you are to me. There is no one who understands my heart and very being like you do. The only other people who have sacrificed as much are the other people in our family, and the only one who has sacrificed more for me is Jesus. I'd say if the only other being in existence beating you at these things is Him, you're doing a pretty amazing job.

 

     I have done nothing to deserve you. I am so incredibly blessed that God chose to put me into your life. I've been growing up for sixteen years, and you've been patiently training me all that time, when I was selfish, didn't understand, wanted things my way, fought with you, struggled through petty problems, made messes that didn't need to be made. You loved me through it all, and it's because of all of that that I am the person I am today. Not perfect, but a whole lot better than I was and a whole lot better than I could have been. Still growing, but grateful. Even now I know that I can't quite understand, but someday I hope to have my own children, and I hope to be half the mom you have been. If I can ever achieve your level of love in motherhood, I will count my life a massive success.

 

     Your motherhood is not just something you turn on every day when you get out of bed and turn off when you're away from us. You are a mom. It's part of your being and you can't change it. And you couldn't be anything more important.

 

     God knew that this crazy family was going to need someone who could hold them all together and love them all equally despite the fact that not a single one of them was anything alike. And we all know we're difficult. But you've perservered spectacularly. The hand the rocks the cradle rules the world, and you, my dearest mother, are one of the greatest rulers of them all.

 

 

     Mommy, I love you. With all of my heart, I love you. I will always need my Mommy. I will always be your little girl. You've always been there for me, and I will always be there for you. Other people come and go, but a mother is forever. And the family that you've created is forever. And I will always be grateful for the love you have demonstrated, the full measure of it that you have lived out every day of your life for as long as I've known you.

 

I love you.

 

Your daughter,

 

~Bethanny


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