The Hero of Your Life Story, Continued | Guest Post

Thursday, 12 November 2015

via Pinterest
Hello friends!
I am so thrilled that you are here.  Joy is away at the moment, but she asked me if I would be hostess for the day, and I happily said yes!  We may have met before– we may not have.  If not, I am so excited to make your acquaintanceship.  Allow me to introduce myself.   My name is Emily and my usual blogging home is over at Amity.  I live in a small-ish country town in Australia with my parents and my seven younger siblings – one brother, and six sisters.  

When Joy emailed me and asked me to pop over and host a little for her while she is away, I was excited (I always am – I love Joy heaps and always feel so honoured to write something to put on her beautiful blog!) but – also per usual – I sat there, my mind swimming, thinking What on earth am I going to write about this time???  After pondering for a while and coming up empty-handed, I got on the blog and looked up the post I wrote for her last year.  It was titled The Hero of Your Life Story.  As I read it, I was taken aback a little.  I realized that, though I had written it a year ago, I was only really letting it be true for me in the last few months, and am now on the next step, so to speak. 

This Sunday – the first day of November – I have been asked to share my testimony with the church at our family church camp.  I am also going to share it here.  I don’t want this to be about me – it’s not.  The Holy Spirit has been doing some amazing things in my life over the last few months and so this is really just a continuation of what I wrote last year.  I pray you are encouraged by it, and all glory be to Jesus.

My testimony really begins when I was born, for if the Lord had not tuned the ears of a doctor to a strange gurgling sound around my heart, I would not be here today to tell you the story.  I am always amazed and so grateful for that doctor – I don’t even know his name, but he saved my life.  Because he heard that noise, I was diagnosed with having holes in my heart, and was immediately scheduled for surgery.  Sixteen months and two open heart operations later, I was declared to be ‘good for now’.  I would probably need further surgery later in life, we were told.  I am believing otherwise. 

I have been blessed to have grown up in a Christian home.  I don’t remember it myself, but Mum tells me that I first asked the Lord Jesus into my heart when I was three years old.  I am thankful to have parents who have always endeavoured to instil the word of God in their children.

Allow me to insert a very important note right here: Your testimony – the story of where you used to be, how God saved you, and where He has brought you to now – is powerful.  You might think much of it, particularly if you have ‘always been a Christian’ or grown up in church.  That is a lie from the enemy.  Any life that is a testament to the goodness of God is a testimony worth telling and celebrating, because the same grace that saved the John Newton from slave trading, Mary Magdalene from demons and prostitution, and the drunkard and the addict from their past and their sins, is the same grace that protected you from similar evils in the first place. 

Growing up in a Christian home – and knowing that I had asked the Lord to forgive me at a young age – I took my salvation for granted and stuck to the very minimum of Christian living.  Actually, not even that.  As a girl, I hated family devotions – they were incredibly boring, in my opinion.  I never read my Bible or prayed except for when Mum figured out that I hadn’t done it that day and told me to go and have my Bible time.  It would usually run like this:
·      Read the devotion page in my kids study Bible as quickly as possible, skipping the scripture reading.
·      ‘Pray’ – “Dear-Lord-thankyou-for-today-amen.

Done.  I was free to go and do what I wanted to do. 
In the middle of all this, when I was nine years old, I decided I wanted to be water baptised.  Looking back, I’m not really sure why.  I think I was trying to convince some people – myself, my friends, and God – that I was a really good girl.  Somehow, I don’t think I fooled God, even if I managed to convince myself and those around me.  One thing I do know, is that I did not understand the significance of what I was doing.   I knew in my head what baptism was and what it represented, but I did not have a spiritual revelation of what I was actually doing. 

When I was about twelve or thirteen, I decided to become more faithful in my walk with the Lord.  Once again, I do not remember the exact moment, or what made me change my heart attitude.  It was probably a quiet movement of God in my life, gently moulding me, making me pliable.  At that time in our family, we were attending a different church and I was intrigued by the simplicity of the teaching that they presented.  Perhaps God used those messages to speak to my heart.  I rededicated my life to the Lord and strived to follow Him… on conditions.

In my defence I didn’t realize that I had a set of conditions that I has holding God to.   I am, by nature, very unobtrusive.  I hate to be the centre of attention, and I hate to put people out on account of me.  Somehow, though, I applied those tendencies to my spiritual life.  I didn’t want to ask God for anything and I didn’t want to grow in the spiritual gift He has given me because I knew that when the Holy Spirit starts growing and showing in someone’s life, it becomes noticeable, and I didn’t want that either.  I developed a strange sense of fear that was very strong and controlling.  It wasn’t what people would think of me, so much as it was I was scared God would use me in bigger and bigger ways that would make me unavoidable to the notice of others.  It sounds terribly silly like that, but it was very real, and I struggled against it for a long time when I recognised what it was. 

But praise God, He didn’t let me stay in that place.  With a little shove I found myself stepping forward at youth camp in August when the speaker called for all those who were afraid.  Normally I wouldn’t go forward for prayer because I was too scared, but I knew there had to be a change in my life somewhere and, praying for strength, I stepped forward. 

Another important note – God wants to use you.  Every single person has the potential to change the world, it’s just very few take their opportunities.  If you want God to use you in amazing ways, just step out and say yes.  Really.  It’s all you have to do.  James says to draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Step out and step into what He has for you.  You don’t have to have all the answers – or any at all – but just releasing yourself to the guidance of God will be so freeing and you will be amazed at what happens when you do.

I was prayed for at camp, and then I went home.   Three weeks later, I went to a women’s conference and once again, they called for people to come forward for prayer.  The speaker – Ps. Margaret – came and prayed with me.  To my amazement, she spoke exactly the same things over me that the speakers at camp had.  She was a little more detailed, but they were the same messages coming back to me three weeks later.   The main points were:

·      That old dreams I had buried and let die would come back to life.
·      That my hands would be powerful and would heal the sick and the hurting.
·      That I would receive power

And then Ps. Margaret added something else.  “You probably won’t thank me for this later,” she said with a smile as she embraced me.  She then spoke boldness into my life.  I was excited – but terrified.  I went home and thought about what it for the rest of the day.  When I was in bed that night, I wanted to pray and pursue all that had been spoken to me that day.  I was so distressed that I could feel my stomach churning and twisting.  I started to cry.  “Lord Jesus, I just need to not be afraid for one minute,” I prayed.  Instantly, everything was calm.  I was at peace both mentally and physically and I began to pray for those things I wanted to see in my life – boldness, courage and God-inspired dreams.  Since that moment, fear in prayer has not been a problem for me.  

The word about dreams and healing people was an especially exciting thing for me.   I have had some big dreams in the past involving children and orphans and adoption and so, and have been told to my face by well-meaning people that they would never come to pass.  Discouraged I stopped talking about them.  Instead, I decided to become a nurse – a paediatric nurse.  Still working with children, but more realistic for those who ask me what I plan to do.  When I got the word about healing I was thrilled.  Great!  I thought. I’m on the right track here.

Then a few weeks after that, I was talking to a friend about ministry and supernatural healing.  Something jumped within me.  I started praying and knew that God was telling me to give up the idea of nursing and pursue ministry instead.   I was so happy about that – looking back, I can see now that nursing would have smothered me.  But still, I waited.  I wanted to be sure – after all, I had been working towards nursing for some time now, and what if it was imagination running away with me?
A couple of Sundays later, the sermon at church was about worshiping in the middle – you have a word at the start of your journey and a word at the end, but where do you go in the mean time?  People were encouraged to go forward for prayer and once again, feeling lost and unsure about everything, I went.  It was our own Pastor that prayed for me this time.  Once again, she prayed for the dreams that I have tucked away.   Then she looked at me and said, “You think you’ve heard wrongly, don’t you?”  I nodded.  “You haven’t,” she said.  “You heard right.” 

That is pretty much where my story is at the moment, but how amazing is God??  Now, with ministry in mind, I am planning on begin a course at Harvest College next year called Bachelor of Arts in Ministry.  (Look it up – it’s awesome!)  Opportunities have also come up for me to join the ministry team at church.

My most common prayer at the moment is “What are you doing, God?”  I look at myself in the mirror and laugh.  Who would have thought that in such a short amount of time (not quite three months) I could go from who I was to who I am now?  I can only say – God.  Only God could have changed me the way He has. 

As I said at the beginning, I have not told all of this for attention – attention like that is something I am still find difficult to handle – but rather to encourage you, my fellow Pilgrims, and to glorify God who has redeemed us and brought us to Himself through Jesus and given us the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us.  Praise His name forever!

I am a stay-at-home daughter, home-school graduate, piano teacher, big sister to six sisters and a brother, and a follower of the Lord Jesus.  I spend my days studying for my diploma, babysitting my little sisters, playing music with my siblings, scribbling poetry, writing on my blog Amity, and doing life with my family.  In the near-ish future, I hope to do paediatric nursing and, Lord willing, get married and have (and adopt) a whole heap of cute kiddies to keep me on my toes.  :)

#DesertIslandReads | Blog Update

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Would my desert island have such a beautiful view as this little bay near our home? Please say it will!
Hello, lovely readers! Here I am at last, scribbling away at a long belated post! First of all, I've got a little blog-keeping update to share with you all. 

It's that time of the year again - November - the year is swiftly coming to a close. It's the month of scribbles, mad studying and a general determination to finish the year with some important goals tucked under the way and with a happy bang! :) Sadly, I'll not be doing NaNoWriMo this year, much as I'd love to, because of an intense study-month (cheers to all of you doing it, fellow inklings!). However, I will be taking an online-break during November, just to focus on my studies and get in those extra goals before the end of the year. I haven't been that much around blogger-land the past few weeks, so I already feel like I haven't been contributing much to my blog (which makes me sad, because I love blogging and have so many blogging ideas to share with you all!), but every now and again I just need a total break from the internet to get the job done, stay focused and think through things, enjoying living daily without other cyber distractions and procrastinations :). I look forward to coming back in December, though, Lord willing, with lots of posts to share with you, my lovely enthusiastic readers, a good amount of studies done and dusted (they're a LOT!), and with a renewed creative inspiration/enthusiasm for this happy little corner of cyber-space :)

Throughout the month, I will be off facebook, instagram, google+ and blogger. . . I'll also be mostly off my email as well, though occasionally I will check them throughout the month. If I haven't responded to your messages/emails yet, that's why, but please know that I hope to get to them soon and appreciate them (and you!) so much <3. 

Through November I will be featuring some lovely blogging friends of mine on Fullness of Joy blog who will contribute some delightful guest-posts, so please stay tuned for that! ^_^ 
Pendragon's Heir and Gilead were the biggest highlights of October!
October was a huge-reading month for me with lots of fantastic novels read - I can't wait to share them with you on Fullness of Joy, but you can check my updates on Instagram and Goodreads for mini reviews for now :D. For November, I'm hoping to predominantly read non-fiction and poetry - mostly because I feel the need to really refresh my heart and mind spiritually and emotionally, but also because. . . well, non-fiction is not quite as distracting as my fiction reads and therefore I feel less likely to procrastinate ;). Some of the books on my November TBR are Notes from Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson, The Cost of Discipleship by Detriech Bonhoeffer, Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Eliot, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Silas Mariner by George Elliot, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coldridge (both books for school), Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot, Beowulf translation by Burton Raffel, Hamlet by Shakespeare, and Recapture the Wonder by Ravi Zacharias. . . quite a pile! ;)

Speaking of books and what to read, there has been floating around the internet a hashtag called #DesertIslandReads where you share 8 of the books you'd wish to have with you if you were deserted on a desert island. I loved the idea so much, I thought it would be fun to do it as a sort of tag and share with you what books I would wish to have with me in such a dire situation. I've modified the number to 10, actually, just because I couldn't help it. . .

The whole idea is quite novel - because if I were stuck on an island with no internet/communication, my first thought should be for a way to escape or get out of my predicament  - maybe a practical handbook or guide to how to build a boat or build a shelter for myself out of palm-branches and find food (head-nod to Chesterton). But as I have a bit of an imagination, we'll pretend there's no means of escape and that I'm provided with the basic needs of life, and nothing more, and that all I really need is companionship and something to keep me engaged. Without further ado, here are the top 10 books I'd wish to have with me on a desert island!

-The Bible
God's Word is all and enough for all my longings and needs, and if I had no book on earth, but the Bible, I'd be the happiest person, because His Word is rich and powerful and Life itself! How wonderful it would be to dig up and read all those glorious chapters and study the Bible in-depth for hours, if I were on a deserted island! I've been struggling with distractions and wanting to read more committedly in my Bible-devotions lately, and I really am hoping that this online break will be an encouragement to me to set aside more time, especially in the evenings to meditate on God's Word. Daniel, David and Joseph are particular accounts that have been dear to my heart lately, and I want to revisit them so much. 

-The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I think you all know by now my love for J.R.R. Tolkien's books, and what a powerful and inspirational blessing they've been in my life. If I could have no other book aside from the Bible and one other, I'd most positively would wish to have the Lord of the Rings with me on a deserted desert island. It would be so hard to not be able to come back and read quotations from the books and reread my favourite passages and spend time in the wonderful company of my dear fictional companions - Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippen, Gandalf and Aragorn. . . Eoywn and Galadriel! As C.S. Lewis said in praise of Tolkien's book, "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart."

-The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien
I think I will need to have some Hobbit cheer in such a dire circumstance, and oh, The Hobbit is such a cosy, comforting and encouraging book! I could not part with it, I don't think.

-The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
I am positive I need Tolkien's full legenderium with me in my life, and The Silmarillion would be no exception. I read it a few years ago, but I so want to go and read it again, and just treasure the stories and characters and themes! As it also is a bit of a challenging read, it would be a perfect companion for me and give me that little bit of hope in the dark, and a refreshing ointment to a weary heart. 

-North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
While technically this may not be the most appropriate desert read (it's all about people and relationships!) this book is so beloved to me and so close to my heart, I'd so want to have it with me, and just be able to reread it again and treasure this beautiful, moving, gripping classic. It would also remind me of what life with people is like, and all the dreams and struggles and heartaches and lessons, both painful and beautiful in life. I'd want to have Margaret Hale and John Thornton as people I could revisit and see come alive on the pages while alone on an island by myself. . .

-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 
This is rightly an epic! I've been so wanting to read this humongous classic for a while now, and so intrigued by Russian literature and Russian authors (Tolstoy, Dystovosky, etc) that this would be the perfect opportunity to dig into a story with such scope and magnitude. I loved the miniseries I watched for War and Peace, and though it had some tough themes, I was deeply moved by it as well. I like Prince Andrei especially, and Princess Maria. . . 

-Bleak House by Charles Dickens
I've been in such a Dickens roll lately, with reading David Copperfield and watching most of the period-dramas available for Dickens' book adaptions that I had not already seen before (Nicholas Nickleby, Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House. . . ). It's been EPIC, folks! I'm coming to really love Dickens' novels, and am constantly amazed by how he draws his plots together and all those characters! Wow. Bleak House BBC miniseries especially moved me - it was at times so miserable and heartbreaking, but so worth all the tears I cried! The plot, themes and characters were so rich, and the episodes so beautifully acted and filmed! I want to read all Dickens' novels now, but most keenly "Bleak House" I think. Also a perfect read because of its size #lovepicbigbooks.

-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coldridge 
I first heard about this poem recently as an assigned piece for my literature course, but I read it this month and loved it so keenly, I'd definitely like to have a piece of poetry like that with me in an island alone - it would comfort me with a reminder I'm not the only one going through a horrific odyssey, but it would also keep me from shooting beautiful albatrosses for food! ;)

-A Collection of 19th Century Poetry
Lately I've been getting more keen about reading poetry, with sampling small bits of Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, and T.S. Eliot's poetry. Much as I appreciate the lyrical beauty of poetry, it's always been something of a challenge to read and grasp fully, so I really want to develop a keener taste for poetry, an appreciation for reading it, and for the understanding of its themes. I think I'd especially appreciate a collection of 19th century Romantic poetry, and would love to dig more into such poets like Christina Rossetti. A big collection like that would be a beautiful thing to have to read and treasure on an island.

-"Morning and Evening", book of daily devotions - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
There are so many devotional books I want to read and treasure, and Elisabeth Eliot was definitely vying for a place on this list because I love her writing so much, and her books are such an encouragement for me in many of the daily struggles of my life, just in learning to wait silently and rest in the Lord patiently, learning Christian obedience and joy in Christ, the meaning of love and sacrifice. . . however, I thought perhaps something even more appropriate on a desert island would be a daily reading by Spurgeon. What gems and true spiritual encouragement/edification can be found from this giant of the spiritual faith! And look, he wrote something about solitude and silence which I think would be a great opportunity if I were on a desert island. . . ;)

"There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . " - Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

So, dear friends, that is my list of books that I'd take with me on a deserted island! Out of necessity, I've left out some of my favourite authors and books - C.S. Lewis, Rosemary Sutcliff, Patricia St. John, Jane Austen. . . but it was definitely fun to try and think of the kinds of books I'd wish to have close to me in such a circumstance. What books would you wish to have with you if you were all alone on a deserted island without any internet or form of entertainment? I tag Schuyler, Annie, Emily D, Mirriam Neal, Emily H, Cait, Ana, Jessica, Suzannah, Sarah, Joy, Jenelle, Esther, and Dani to do the #desertislandreads challenge as well, and have fun with it :D. Also if any of you would like to do this tag, please feel free to be tagged and go right ahead and do it. I'd love to see your book-lists!

Until my next post though, I'm off to my own island of studies and books and solitude. Please pray for me that the Lord will help me accomplish all my study-goals, as I'm feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment. It's going to be a busy November. . . 

Lord willing, see all in a month! 

Top Ten Series of Books I'd Like to Finish. . . | Actually, more like 17

Friday, 25 September 2015

Meet my cute literary-dog, Atticus!
I am an odd little ball with finishing a series, because predominantly in the past, once I started a book in a series, and liked it enough, I was quite prompt to grab those other copies, and finish that series. This year has been a little bit of an exception for me, as I've read the first book in more than one trilogy/series but have not had the opportunity to get my hand on, or find the time to finish the rest of the books. It's something I'm working on, but I am actually not stressed about it, because when a series ends that I like, I feel quite sad about it, so I don't mind stretching the enjoyable experience of anticipation over a long stretch of time ;) Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun if I joined in The Broke and the Bookish "Top Ten Tuesday" of a few weeks ago, and share with you the book-series I've not finished (yet) but really want to!

I read the first book, A Cast of Stone, earlier this year, after hearing Schuyler mention it on several occasions on her blog, and really quite enjoyed the adventure and quest-like nature of the story. Also Errol was a really engaging and interesting hero; the ending of A Cast of Stone left me on tenterhooks with the revelations and plot-twists and danger, so I'd like to see how the story pans out for young Errol and his friends. 

The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl: "Poison Crown".

I've read all of the books and novellas in Stengl's "Goldstone Wood" series as they stand published so far, and they are so good! It's an excellent fairy-tale/ish Christian fantasy series for young people; I highly recommend this series, folks! But the wonderful thing is the series is still unfinished, and Anne Elisabeth has plans for more books which I am eagerly looking forward to :). In fact, she's been working on Book 8 in the series, "Poison Crown: Smallman's Heir" for a long while now, but has currently chosen to put it on hold for a break to work on other projects, so we may have wait a few years before the next Goldstone Wood comes out. . . *sniffs sadly* 

I read A Distant Melody a few years ago, and loved it! Basically, as far as I gather, the Wings of Glory series is a set of three books, each book telling the story of one of the three Novak brothers, Ray, Jack and Walt. A Distant Melody tells the story of the youngest, Walt, who is in the Air Force during WW2, and about a young woman who correspondences with him called Allie. It was a great debut novel and just a sweet historical romance about WW2 which I thoroughly enjoyed - despite the romantic plot, the story had other in-depth themes and well-written characters, so that the romance did not leave out those elements. I also loved the exploration of the themes of honesty, sacrifice, and love through-out the story and really loved that ending! I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy and discover the stories of Walt's two older brothers. (P.S. I'm actually currently reading A Memory Between Us!)

Like with A Distant Melody, I loved the first book in this series, With Every Letter immensely. While some elements of the romance bugged me a little, I loved all the historical detail and richness of the plot! It was just so good. The characters were so well-rounded and captivating, and I loved the idea of two people getting to come and love each other through letters. I then started the second book "On Distant Shores". . . but oh dear! While the historical detail was as stellar as the first book, the romance and the plot of relationships between the different characters got on my nerves too much, and I just had to lay aside the book, sadly. The romance wasn't my cup-a-tea, plus it had a streak of feminism which I didn't like. However, I might consider picking up  "In Perfect Time" sometime and giving it a go, just because of how good Sundin writes WW2 history. We shall have to see. . . 

This was a series I discovered while browsing online, and because of my love WW2 stories, I picked up the first book in the series "All God's Children". It was quite good, and sad in parts. The story dealt with the White Rose movement with Sophie Scholl which I found really interesting. I can't say it was exceptional in any way, and the writing-style wasn't my favourite part, but I think it was good enough so that I'd like to read the other two books in the series.

The Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke.

I was not super keen for the film series with Michael Landon Jr, but I really did like the first two books, Love Comes Softly, and Love's Enduring Promise, better than the films, and would really love to continue the series. . .

Luner Chronicles by Merissa Meyer. 

Now this is technically cheating to include this series in this list, because I've only just started Cinder, but so far I'm intrigued to read the full series, as I've heard quite a few interesting things about it. . . and I know that is a very shallow motivation, but they have such gorgeous book-covers! 
Jeeves and Wooster series P.G. Wodehouse.

So far, I've only read Right Ho, Jeeves, and saw the first two or three episodes of Jeeves and Wooster tv show with Stephan Fry, but I'm hooked! I want to read all the P.G. Wodehouse books now, and most definitely all the Jeeves & Wooster series in particular. Such a good dose of humour, comedy and nonsensical wit to lift the soul :). 
Hercule Poirot series Agatha Christie.

I've seen several of the episodes in the tv show with David Schuett, but so far I've only read one of Agatha Christie's novels, Murder on the Orient Express, but I really liked that one, so I need to read her other stories. . . !
The sequel to The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.

The Princess and the Curdie. Technically I don't think this is a series, but I really loved The Princess and the Goblin, so I'd love to continue the story with The Princess and the Curdie.
War of the Realms series by Chuck Black.

I've already read Cloak of the Light, which I really loved, and book 2 Rise of the Fallen, which I am still all in a muddle about (that book challenged me quite a bit, and made me think a lot, but I'm not sure I agree with all the spiritual allegory/symbolism the author used. Need to ponder that one more). But as far as I know, it will end up being a trilogy of three books, so I would like to read the last book when it comes out by and by, despite some of my reservations with the series. I've just really loved a lot of Chuck Black's writing over the years (you should all check out The Knights of Arrethtrae series - so good!), so it would be neat to see how his writing continues to develop in the years ahead.

A good friend introduced me to the author Kim Vogel Sawyer, and I really loved My Heart Remembers - it was a good, decent historical fiction story that I found engaging, so I'd love to read the companion novel, In Every Heartbeat and continue the story with new characters. . . 
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Well, I read To Kill a Mockingbird earlier this year, and loved it so much. I wasn't surprised it made it to one of my favourite ever book-list :). Atticus Finch was my favourite part of the book, but I just loved Scout as well. And the writing was beautiful and raw and poignant. I definitely loved this modern classic. Despite the controversy around this book, I do want to read Go Set a Watchman - not so much because it's a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird and will wow me the same way. . . I know it won't; but I do love this type of literary fiction, and I'd love to read more of Harper Lee's writing (a wee bit apprehensive though about whether my view of Atticus will be spoilt in any way?).
The Dolphin Ring Cycle by Rosemary Sutcliff.

I've read so far "The Eagle and the Ninth", "The Silver Branch", "The Lantern Bearers" and "The Shield Ring" which all fall under the Dolphin Ring Cycle, but I'd definitely like to read Sutcliff's other novels that are a part of that series (I'd read love to read all the books I can for Sutcliff!)

The Hawk and the Dove series by Penelope Wilcock.

I read the first book in this series back in May after having noticed the series several times online and being especially intrigued by its premise of medieval monastery life and its focus on how to live a godly life and show love to your neighbours. I really loved The Hawk and the Dove, and would love to continue the series and read The Wounds of God soon. . . 
The Plenilune Series by Jennifer Freitag.

Now, I had such mixed feelings about Plenilune when I read it early this year, however I do believe that if Jenny did publish her subsequent books in the series I would pick them up. On two grounds - firstly, I loved the first half of Plenilune exceedingly - I loved the richness of her world and characters and her beautiful prose. That book definitely made me think. And then, though I did not like the ending, and was upset about certain aspects/themes in the story regarding justice, mercy and violence, I would love to re-read Plenilune to see if I might be able to appreciate her perspective better without the shock factor of a first read; I'd also like to read more of her writing because she is a good writer, and I loved what she did in The Shadow Things and I have learnt so much from her over the years. . . 

Ooh, what a cozy English mystery Anon, Sir, Anon, was! I'd definitely pick up more Vivi & Farnham Mysteries if Rachel should ever release another one (which I think she has plans to by and by?). . . 

"She Gathered Books Like Clouds. . . " | The Curious Wren Tag

Sunday, 6 September 2015

It never rains but it pours, they say. . . Well, it's been pouring tags lately, folks, and I can't complain! I love tags, and enjoy the process of reading them on other's blogs, and writing 'em myself. It's been one of those easy things to write on my blog lately, too, considering how busy things are with my studies. (Hope you all don't mind too much!) I do have more in-depth posts planned out in the weeks to come, Lord willing - reviews, literary reflections, musings on life and faith and daily struggles; it's just a working challenge to fit time to sit down and write all my deeper thoughts. Until then, I hope you enjoy this delightful tag hosted by the lovely Annie from her lovely new blog, Curious Wren. (I did an interview with her last Tuesday which you can check out: here !)
1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
I finished reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett last week, and I really enjoyed it. It's such a sweet classic story :). It was quite an appropriate season to read it in as well, as here in Australia we're slowly putting aside winter and embracing the joys of Spring, with the twittering of birds and feeling of hope and promise in the air!

But I actually just finished reading the first book in the King Arthur Trilogy: The Sword and the Circle by Rosemary Sutcliff the other day, which was so good. It's my first introduction into the King Arthur legend (I'm trying to get more into it before I start Suzannah Rowntree's novel, Pendragon's Heir), and I must say, I'm loving it so far. . .and I love Rosemary Sutcliff, so there is that too :D. 
2. Describe the perfect reading spot.
A cozy reading nook for me would be in a couch or armchair by a fireplace in the winter, and by a window facing the sea-breeze and sunshine in the summer, preferably with a downy light and bookcases near me; a pretty lace curtain would be an amazing addition! 
3. Favourite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers?
It really depends on the mood I'm in, and the season. I  quite enjoy fresh fruit juice beverages, in particular during the summer months, like mango, berry fruit boosts, or iced lemonade. But I'm very fond of my tea, especially these days in the afternoons in the midst of my studies. A current favourite is Harney and Sons' Paris flavoured black-tea, and forest-fruit tea - ah, so soothing and refreshing!
But I'd take hot chocolate if you offered me, no questions asked ;). 
4. Share favourite quotes from four books.
Well, it's like this. I went on Goodreads and spent a whole evening browsing the richest and most beautiful quotes from my favourite novels, and I came away with the biggest pile of quotes. I then thought. . . how do I narrow them down? So I tried avoiding the quotes I mentioned in previous tags, and hopefully in my friends' tags, though they may be special too. Just, it was painful, okay?

"Oh, I can't describe my home. It is home, and I can't put its charm into words." - Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South.

"But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan." - C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle.

"It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

"The wind blustered in from the sea, setting the horses' manes streaming sideways, and the gulls wheeled mewing against the blue-and-grey tumble of the sky; and Aquila, riding a little aside from the rest as usual, caught for a moment from the wind and the gulls and the wet sand and the living, leaping power of the young red mare under him, something of the joy of simply being alive that he had taken for granted in the old days." - Rosemary Sutcliff, The Lantern Bearers. 

"It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived." - Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

"It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King.
5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic?
Fantasy: The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, The Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and The Knights of Arrethtrae series by Chuck Black.

Dystopia: I have not read anything in that genre yet.
Contemporary: I'll give you a few favourite contemporary authors (I don't read in the contemporary genre much, to be honest), so Anne Elisabeth Stengl, N.D. Wilson, Chuck Black, Sarah Sundin, Kristy Cambron, Rachel Heffington, Janette Oke, Jill Stengl, and Rachel Coker's novels are some of my current favourites. 

Sci-fi: I have not ventured into the science-fiction genre at all really (much as Annie begs me to watch Doctor Who!), except for The Cosmic Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) which I loved immensely and highly recommend. 

Classic: I have too many favourites! They'd include North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, A Tale of Two Cities and Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Emma by Jane Austen, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin, Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Shining Company and The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff . . . oh, you know, you get the idea?
6. List three authors you’ve collected the most books from.
I own quite a few J.R.R. Tolkien novels, almost all of C.S. Lewis' main works (there are many more I still need to acquire though), and then it's a tie between Anne Elisabeth Stengl's novels, Chuck Black's and Patricia St. John's, I think. I also have a decent haul of Dickens' books now ^_^. 
7. What are your thoughts on magic in literature?
As this is a rather lengthy question, I'll refer you to another post in which I discussed this issue on my blog. You can check it out here: "Like in the Great Stories, Mr. Frodo. . . "

I also second both Emily and Ana's responses to the question heartily :).
8. What types of book covers capture your imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images.
Ooh, I am fond of so many! I'm a sucker for illustrated-covers, and I love beautiful typography, bright colours, foil and gold embossing, art, illustration, and a cover that will give a sense and feel of the type of novel it is, it's themes, characters and genre through its palate of colours, font, and images. I normally dislike movie-tie in editions, and am very picky with having a full-face model of a character on the cover unless they feel in-setting and right from a book-scene . . . not like ahem. . . a photo-shoot or something like that *shudders*. Here are a few I can't quite have enough of ^_^.
I have not read this book,
though it is on my TBR
I have only read the first book in this trilogy so far. . . 

I have yet to read this. . . 
I have only read the first book this trilogy,
A Distant Melody but I really enjoyed it. 
Another book I have yet to read. . .
I still need to read Flannery O'Connor's books too. . . 

9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this.
I had a brief scuffle in my mind, like a kaleidoscope of character-images floating past my mind, when my mind finally rested on Margaret Hale from North and South. She's one of my all time favourite heroines in literature, and a character I deeply empathise with and love. It's interesting, because I love how realistic and genuinely real she is with all her flaws and stubborn prejudices, but also with her deep and loving compassion to those in suffering and need, her sense of moral fealty and duty as a daughter to aid and support her father and mother,  her keen sense of conviction, and her humility and gentle endurance through the sufferings she goes through. . .
I also love how normal and ordinary a literary heroine she is, one I can very closely relate to both in character and in the situations she finds herself - the small regrets and griefs of coming into womanhood, the daily struggles of living in her parents' home and suffering the pains that they do alongside them, realizing a growing change of attitudes and perspectives in her life, a clinging to her faith, the weariness of ironing curtains for the arrival of her father's guest ;), and the struggle of being caught up in more than one society.

Much as I love Jane Eyre I confess Bronte's heroine is not one I can closely relate to just because of the experiences and vividly dark, gothic and morbid circumstances/situations and characters she encounters - they are so far removed from anything I could ever imagine or experience. (It's not every day one finds a mad-wife in the attic!) I do love her, but I cannot relate. . . with Margaret I do, and I love that. She's a real character to me. 
10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies?
I don't mind too much lending my books to members to my family because, you know, I can badger them any time without scruples ;). But uhm. . . sending them outside the house? With friends or acquaintances I get to see no more than once a month? *ouch* I'm a hoarder of my precious books and do not part with them easily, but for the joy of seeing a friend being blessed or delighted by a book I love as much as me, I think I can do it! I'd much rather go and buy them a copy though, if I had the available funds ;).