Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review - A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker

Book Review – A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker

AD 33 Book Cover
Looks pretty intimidating doesn’t it?  Above is a picture of Ted Dekker’s A.D. 33, and it is remarkable.  We’ll get to that in a minute.  Here are a few more details:
Author – Ted Dekker
Publisher – Center Street Publishing
About the book (from the publisher website): New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker delivers the gripping story of Maviah, a slave who becomes a queen in Arabia, A.D. 33.
They call her the Queen of the Outcasts. Maviah, a woman whose fate was sealed on her birth by this world-unwanted, illegitimate, female, a slave-subject to the whims of all. But then she met a man named Yeshua who opened her eyes. She found strength in his words, peace from the brutal word around her. Because of what he taught her, she has gathered her own traveling kingdom of outcasts deep in the desert, wielding an authority few have seen. But when her growing power threatens the rulers around her, they set out to crush all she loves, leaving her reeling as a slave once more. She must find Yeshua to save her people, but when she does, she will be horrified to discover that he faces his own death.
Enter a story full of intrigue, heart-wrenching defeat, uncompromising love and staggering victory-one that re-examines everything you thought you knew about the heart of Jesus’s stunning message and the power that follows for those who follow his easily forgotten way.
Ted Dekker –
Ted Dekker Author Photo
Let’s get into it shall we?
My review:  I had previously read A.D. 30 and was appropriately blown away by it, so when the opportunity came to re-engage in the world of Maviah, I lept at the chance.
Ted Dekker is a master of research and word, and he quickly pulled me back into the story of Maviah and life in the dessert as lived by the Beduoin people.  I found myself enchanted by the descriptive details that made everything so completely vivid and then the characters.  Maviah felt so close to my heart from A.D. 30 on.  She has been through more in her young life than you could imagine several people handling, and an experience with Yeshua has indeed changed her life.  She is strong, she is a leader, and she is making real change which makes her a real threat.  In this time frame a woman being much of a threat at all is impossible to imagine, but she is powerful and smart and Maviah will need everything from her mind to her faith to get through the current circumstances she has been thrust into.  It is truly an adventure story of faith that is absolutely gripping.
Maviah’s story is a story of grace, amazing events, strength, challenge, questions and survival.  She struggles with the same questions many of us have had at one time or another in our lives.  And I believe this stand in a life of faith or not.  We all have those moments where we are looking at our reflection in the mirror and that moment of doubt can drop us or move us ahead.  With unflinching honesty we face everything with Maviah.  Let me tell you, I love that.  In a time when so often everything falls into place for a character, it is refreshing seeing that trials can come along and that everything will not always fall into place, but that doesn’t change the love of an everlasting God.  It is not only Mavaiah who captures this story but also Talya, Saba and many of the Bedu they work together with.  You will probably find more than one favorite.  And of course Yeshua who instills forgiveness and hope as only he can.
For me it truly was a story that brought to life more aspects of my faith.  Ted Dekker is an incredible story teller who will weave a world right around you that will captivate and excite you.  It can also be an emotional ride.  It was for me.  I felt a strength in my faith at the end and had to pass it along.  My son, who is a fan of history has begun reading it and is devouring it which seriously pleases me.
I rate A.D. 33 a 4.5 star.  It is a book that will entertain as it makes you think and helps you grow.
I received A.D. 33 from Center Street a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. to facilitate my review.  The opinions are strictly my own.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time for Me to Fly - Not Really Just Moving

So a while back I took the leap into self hosting my own blog.  My goal is to take this writing love more seriously.  No...take typing it down into a blog more seriously rather than just my journal.  So I have a new blog where I will write, review, and grow.  I'd love for you to stop by and say hello.  It is pretty much another step forward in something that God has put in my heart for a long time.

Hope to see you some time.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review - Motherless by Erin Healy

When you read the back cover of a book, you get a pretty good idea of what you are getting into. When I read the summary for Motherless by Erin Healy I was intrigued and ready to strap in and take a ride. Here are a few details for you:

About the book (back cover):

A whispering voice at the back of my mind reminds me that I’ve been this way for some time. Dead, that is.

The dead have a very broad view of the living, of actions performed out of sight, of thoughts believed to be private. I would know. Losing both parents is a trial no child should endure, and Marina and Dylan have endured enough. They deserve the one thing I could never give them: a mother’s love.

A mother’s love, and the truth.

My children have believed a lie about me for years and years. After all this time I can still feel their hurt in my heart. But the tether holding me to them is frayed from years of neglect . . . and I have to find a way to make my confession before it snaps.

But when the truth comes out, what other beasts will I unleash?

“Why do we lie to the children?” someone asked me once.

“To protect them,” I answered.

How terrible it is that they need protection from me.

My Review:

When I finished reading Motherless by Erin Healy, I was emotionally spent, swept away and found myself wiping tears from my eyes. There are very few books that have had that kind of impact on me. I found myself leaning into the story to absorb as much as I could.

Motherless takes off from page one and grips the reader. It immediately immerses you into the story and you are invested in what is going on. Motherless combines the supernatural with a thriller and mystery and does it with such heart. I found myself trying to unravel what was going on and even when I knew what was happening, I would turn the page to a surprise I did not expect. Everything was well-thought out and well executed.

Highlights - 
Characters who were imperfect. How nice it is to read about individuals that you can relate to. Things aren't wrapped up in a simple bow of misunderstanding. It can be hard to read about flaws, but it is also hard to ignore them in real life. I appreciate that Healy went there with realistic characters that were perfectly fleshed out.

Location, location, location. I was blown away by the descriptions of real locations I grew up going to in California. From the vineyards to Monastery Beach, I felt like I was right there. Even the homes and businesses were so perfectly described without imposing them on the reader. I saw it, I smelled it and I felt it.

Truly engaging, There were a lot of unanswered questions bouncing about in this story and each and everyone was answered. There were no rabbits pulled out of hats (in other words the story wasn't tweaked unbelievably to make things work). Everything made perfect sense.

All in all, I can say that I am glad that I read Motherless. It was a story that entertained me, made me think and gave me a new perspective on getting away and running away (you'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about there). I would definitely give Motherless 5 Stars.

In full disclosure, I was given a copy of Motherless through a promotional team and publisher to facilitate my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review.  This review reflects my honest opinion.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review - A.D. 30: A Novel - By Ted Dekker

When it comes to books, I have certain authors that I count on for different experiences.  I have grown to count on them to bring me exactly what I look for from each genre that they excel at to such a degree, you almost can't think of that genre without thinking of them.  When it came to suspense with a fantasy or speculative fiction component, I always picked Ted Dekker.  When given an opportunity to review "A.D. 30: A Novel" I jumped at the chance.  

Here's a few details:

About the book (from  Goodreads):
A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.

A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

Step back in time to the year of our Lord...A.D. 30.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father's warriors--Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But Maviah's path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people--and herself.

My review:
This is not what I have come to expect with Ted Dekker.  I have expected excellent writing and compelling characters, but I have never read anything like this.  From the beginning I was drawn into the world of Maviah a slave and outcast whose own father, a Sheik who truly wants little to do with her.  She is doubly cursed by being a woman and from the outcast group of the Bedu (a child out of wedlock no less).  I felt an immediate sense of compassion for this woman who, through no fault of her own, had no honor.  When really there is no one else to turn to, Maviah is dispatched on a mission that surely is impossible, but she and her companions have honor and that compels them forward.

You can read what the book is about above, here is what I enjoyed.

Realism -   A.D. 30: A Novel propelled me into biblical history in a way I had not been ushered into it before.  The story of Maviah was compelling and heart wrenching.  I would expect a journey into the desert to be tiresome and full of danger, and Dekker delivered such a journey.  Nothing happened easily in  in the entire story.  This I enjoyed.  It wasn't that I wanted Maviah and her companions to go through hardships, but if it is going to be believable, things have to happen that are believable.  

Tight story - I have read books where things seemed very contradictory in order to get to a desired result.  This book was clear and on point from start to finish.  I didn't find myself turning the pages back to fact check.  I have done that in other books and it has been disappointing.

Characters - The characters are believable and sympathetic.  As a reader I never felt manipulated by character description or actions.  Nothing was ever forced.  They behaved according to the way they were drawn.  There was never a feeling of betrayal over a character suddenly doing a 180.  Both my feeling of sympathy, anger, joy and a little jealousy (they are after all going to meet up with Jesus, I wished it was me) were ignited through this book.  

Spiritual tone - I am a Christian.  I am a Christ follower, and I am happy to read a book that digs into my faith.  Dekker did this richly in A.D. 30.  I found myself making notes for my own growth and development.  It was exciting reading about how someone would picture my Jesus.  

All in all A.D. 30: A Novel, is a compelling historical novel with deep truths linking together an incredible story.  Knowing that there is so much truth made it a bit of a pilgrimage on paper.  If you like adventure?  This book has it in abundance.  Do you desire to read fiction with biblical truth?  You will find it here.  Do you want to have a moment with Jesus?  This made me dig deeper.  Dekker is a master storyteller and through this work you will be entertained but also learn from THE master storyteller, Jesus.  

And good news, a sequel is on the way with A.D. 33.  I for one will anxiously await it.

Lastly, when you pick this book up, be sure to read the opening "My Journey Into A.D. 30."  It was mesmerizing. 

Full disclosure:  I received this book from the publicist to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was given.  The opinions here are completely unbiased and my own.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Trying Something New

*Feeling excited and small*

I am taking part in the 21 Day Intentional Blogging Challenge with Jeff Goins and in doing so, I am taking a leap to self hosting!  Big yikes here.

Here is the link where I am getting started:  Kelly Blackwell

And here is that post from the new blog (pray for me would you?):

The Big Step

Hey there!  This is it.  This is my first step into getting serious.  I am one of those souls who have often found themselves to be an enthusiastic starter but not so much of an enthusiastic finisher.  It is all about the spirit being willing but the flesh becoming easily exhausted.  Here’s the thing.  I want to be a writer.  Wanting isn’t enough though.  I need to act like it.

Yesterday I decided to jump into a challenge via one of my favorite encouraging writers, Jeff Goins.  It is basically a 21 Day Challenge for intentional blogging.  Yep.  This is serious stuff and there are like over 300 people already participating with intention.  Over 300 people to draw encouragement from!  Over 300 people to grow with!  Can you imagine that?  I love that idea!  I need that!  Oh I also kind of dread it, but there are so many participating, I imagine I will kind of just blend in.  Probably a really good thing there.

–Have I mentioned that this scares me a bit?–

I read and reread Jeff’s post time and time again.  I starred the email and looked at it about 30 times this morning.  Finally I looked myself in the mirror and challenged myself to move.  I challenged myself to really do this and do it with a bang.  I decided to jump in with both feet and a new blog.
The new blog is via WordPress (yes, I guess I figure you can tell that, I’m just nervous).  I have never used this platform which will be abundantly obvious as you look around.  I did this to force myself to really commit.  See…I also jumped in with both feet into…gulp…self hosting.  The very idea freaks me out.  This has now just turned into a financial investment.  I am as frugal as they come.  I could have opened up a free site, but I’ve done that and I’ve wimped out.  I am putting my money where my mouth is.  I am committing financially, and now I need to commit with the time.  Oh and lots of prayer.  For now though, I am just going to try to figure this place out.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.  Kind of talking to you and me here.  I need to stick with this.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

So Overwhelmed You Can't Choose? - The Best Yes

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour, and I am out of my mind excited about being a part of it.  I am joining many, many other inspiring bloggers.  Many of which completely fill me with awe.  Let's just say, not only will I be posting, but I will be doing a lot of blog hopping over the next few weeks.  Learn more and come along with us as we explore, enjoy and celebrate "The Best Yes" by a simple CLICK HERE.

I first became aware of Lysa TerKeurst's "The Best Yes" via Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies.  I have become a very dependent fan of these studies for a little over a  year.  Each study has had a profound impact on my life.  I didn't know what the book was about, but I knew I would pick it up when the study rolled around in mid September (September 22 in case you are wondering). 

But then God...well, he brought me to She Speaks 2014.  A prayerful dream from saying yes to God (inspired by another of Lysa's books, by the way) became a reality, and I joined hundreds of women who wanted to share the love of Jesus through spoken and written word.  Attending She Speaks 2014 was not only a big part of saying yes to God but also a complete faith walk for me, a woman who was deathly afraid of claiming the Lord's vision for fear of mocking and the big NO (PS It was also impossible financially - but for God).

Landing in NC on July 23, my head was spinning with the possibilities of what God would do.  I was excited to be following His will and His call, and nervous about going it alone (well physically alone).  God led me to many wonderful ladies and new friends.  From the pre-conference throughout the weekend conference, I felt many God moments.  One of those moments happened to be purchasing "The Best Yes."  See I still had every intention of waiting to purchase it until the study drew closer, but again, I felt a God tug and bought it after dinner on Friday evening (leaving it in the hotel Saturday morning by the way and missing an autograph opportunity by Lysa - but I digress).  

By the time I hit the airport on July 27th, I was spiritually full but also a bit undone.  I was completely overwhelmed by all God had done during the conference.  I was motivated by the lovely women I met.  I was also intimidated by the next step and how could I possibly make it.  With the question "What's next?" rolling through my mind, and a few hours to spare before my flight, I grabbed coffee (okay...and a very carby everything bagel with cream cheese) and began to read "The Best Yes."

Have you ever read a book that has you nodding your head in agreement or even causes you to talk back to it? That was what reading "The Best Yes" was like for me.  I began to write notes in the margin, I highlighted, and I wrote in my little composition book.  I felt like I was having eureka moments by the pound as I poured over the pages.  I clutched the book in my hands as I boarded my plane thinking that people just might find me a bit odd, but I didn't care at the same time.  I read throughout much of the flight.

See, I have been that woman so overwhelmed that often I felt frozen by the decision making process.  I stood still rather than moving forward.  I want a better yes.  No I want the best yes.  I want to say yes and follow through.  Have you been there?

My first yes.  My schedule.  

“When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” - Lysa TerKeurst

Oh how I relate to these words!  There is so much in my heart that I want to do, but there is also this voice in my head that has continually told me "You can't."  Besides the general idea that I can't because I have these notions that I am simply unable, there is also this side that says I simply do not have the time.  My schedule is overwhelmed.  But is it really?  I have not laid out my time before me yet, but even as I read Chapter 3 of "The Best Yes" I knew that I had not looked for an opening in my schedule.  I had not made the time. I had been overcome by fear of no rather than overcome by the love of the Lord and sharing that love.

I read:

"The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul." pg 23

In the margin and above it, I wrote:

What does my schedule say about my soul?  
What does it say about what I want to do and about who I follow?  
My schedule only reflects my work and my down time.  I want UP time. 

What do I mean by "up time"?  Focusing up.  Focusing on God.  Focusing on his call on my life whatever that may be.  I feel a call to write.  I feel a call to share the love of Jesus.  I long to reach out to the women in this world who have been damaged and show them God's healing power and grace.  Lots of wants, but where are the steps?

Step one is finishing Lysa's book and taking this call as seriously as if I was already living it day by day and for my life to reflect my God in each and every step I make.  I'm ready to be empowered.  Are you?

Are you feeling soul tired?  Have you looked at the patterns in your life and do not like where they have taken you?  Do you struggle with when to say yes and when to say no?  Do you avoid the yes and no altogether and instead stand still?  Are you tired of filling your life with empty activities rather than fulfilling activities?

I believe this book will lead you into a read adventure and purpose.

New York Times Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst has written a new book about finding your Best Yes. Many call this book “inspiring” and “fabulous.” Myself, I call it a gift.  You can get your copy at

About Lysa

Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of Made to Crave and Unglued. She isn’t shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But in the midst of everyday “growth opportunities,” she’s been learning God’s lessons and sharing them on her blog ( and in her books. Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes from her sticky farm table in North Carolina where she lives with her husband, Art, five kids, three dogs, and mouse that refuses to leave her kitchen.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Review - Camp

There have been lots of faith-based films that I have wanted to watch recently but haven't had the time.  After catching "God's Not Dead" FINALLY, I decided to get back on board with spending some more time with uplifting films.  With that mind, I could not wait to watch and share "CAMP."

MOVIE REVIEWCAMP Roebuck Media, Word Films
Written and Directed by:  Jacob Roebuck
Starring:  Miles Elliot, Michael Mattera, Asante Jones, Michael Otis, Grace Johnston, Janet Wood, and Matthew Jacob Wayne.

SYNOPSIS(Christian Film Database) -  CAMP is the latest film from Jacob Roebuck. Inspired by true stories, we meet Ken Matthews (Michael Mattera), a hot shot investment banker doing whatever it takes to make a good impression with a wealthy client, including becoming a camp counselor. Ken is partnered with Eli, a kid thrown away by his parents and in foster care, for a week he won’t soon forget.
MY REVIEW:  When I decided to watch CAMP, I thought it would be a simple tale of an adult having their life turned about by a child's need and love.  Was I wrong!  It was so much more.  CAMP is a story of hope and it is a story of a real camp called Royal Family KIDS.  Royal Family KIDS is a week long camp that serves foster children for a week in the summer.  Many of these children are living in group foster homes which means they share most everything yet receive so little.  This is the case when there is simply not enough to go around.  This camp is the opportunity for each child to be cared for and treated as special as they truly are.  Hope and love is abounding at this camp.

Now don't get me wrong.  CAMP is not some long documentary or even a docudrama about the Royal Family KIDS.  It is a story that combines the story of many of these campers over the years Royal Family KIDS.  This film focuses mainly on Eli.  Eli is like so many children who has had so much promise, but with life handing him a rough deal, he needs hope so much more.  Ken is assigned to Eli.  Ken could use some hope himself.  Ken is a self-absorbed investment banker who has his eyes on the prize and that prize is all about getting bigger, better and wealthier clients.  This week at camp is a means to an end.  Sometimes though, God has bigger and better plans.

CAMP is a film that has heartbreaking lows and beautiful highs.  If you are willing to open up, you will find a true jewel here.  Realize the film starts hard and ends soft. 

- Remember that CAMP is PG13.  There is some foul language.  It is not something that goes on and on, but there is some swearing here and one crude gesture.  Nothing that is negative is done for any purpose other than to offer truth with minimal shock value.  This is not a full on feel good family film.  There is some violence that is primarily not seen but referred to.  There are some rough moments, but this is sharing truth that does exist for many children in the system and those who are not...yet.  It is not remotely as bad as reality, but there are some themes you should be aware of first.  I would watch it before sharing it with my family.  I think the age of 13 is where I would begin. 
- Don't stop when it is over.  The end credits include interviews with counselors and former campers turned counselors.  From this we find that many of the stories are based on experiences at the camp.  It is beautiful.  This is the time I needed tissue like you wouldn't believe! 
- I watched CAMP via Netflix streaming.

Learn more about Royal Family KIDS here.  You might even find a camp near you that you can give your time to.

Check out this clip from CAMP.