Monthly Archives: October 2018

Fab New Novel for November! A Poppy in Remembrance by Michelle Ule

Friends! Great news! Michelle Ule’s newest book releases November 1st. You won’t want to miss the chance to pour over the delightful pages of A Poppy in Remembrance.

You may recall her previous book, which is non-fiction, Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional. It was a wonderful discovery, learning more about Oswald Chambers, his ministry, his writings, and his family and especially his wife, Biddy who was the one that compiled My Utmost for His Highest from his sermons.

I was able to find my Mother’s copy of Oswald’s best-selling devotional,  My Utmost for His Highest. To this day, it is still the single best-selling devotional of all times. It was first published in 1935! You won’t read it the same after getting to know Oswald, thanks to Michelle.

All this to say I was beyond elated to learn A Poppy in Remembrance presents Biddy and Oswald Chambers, who blissfully cross paths with the novel’s main character, Claire Meacham. I felt as if celebrities appeared right in front of me when Claire got to meet Oswald and Biddy.

Set during World War I, Claire’s father, Jock, is a journalist and editor from a Boston newspaper with its syndicate in London. He totes his wife, Anne, and daughter, Claire, with him where they stay in Anne’s sister’s house.

Engaging scenarios, filled with entertaining conversation, ensue building the plot as we turn each page. Claire’s dream of being a reporter in a mostly all-male world comes to fruition a wee bit while they’re in London. Her father allows her to use her stenographer skills to help him with numerous war-related stories. Her two male co-workers each fall for her in their own way.

You’ll enjoy watching Claire juggle Jim and Nigel, as she becomes secretly engaged to one of them (not telling!). Claire struggles, wondering whether she’s doing the right thing or not. Her newfound faith makes these decisions that much tougher.

Her parents attend church, but believe faith is a personal matter, not to be discussed. Claire secretly attends Oswald and Biddy’s prayer meetings every Monday morning with Jim while in London. She’s drawn to both of the Chambers, even receiving one on one counsel from each of them.

Many lessons are evident in A Poppy of Remembrance thanks to Michelle’s strong faith and love for Bible study. Watching Biddy and Oswald’s interaction with Claire and others demonstrates how we as believers can learn how to handle seekers.

Convicted to be truthful with her parents, Claire tells them about going to the prayer meetings. Chalking it up to being quacks, Claire’s father dismisses Oswald.

Oh, but wait just a minute…As their beloved friends and relatives go off to fight in the war, an opportunity to help with the YMCA materializes in Egypt, first causing Oswald to go. Jock up and gets transferred to Cairo for a journalism opportunity. Zeitoun, nearby, is where Oswald preaches to the ANZAC solders. (Soldiers from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps)

Will Anne and Claire follow? What about Biddy? Will they all cross paths again? Jim, one of Claire’s suitors and a mentor to her in her faith, also goes to help with the YMCA. Nigel enlists. The plot doesn’t just thicken, it quadruples…

These are some of many tidbits which will delight us readers. Michelle’s creative writing transports us right along with Claire, her family, OC, Biddy, and their little daughter, Kathleen.

How will they survive Oswald’s early death? Will cousin Peter survive the war? Who will Claire choose as her mate? Will her parents come to faith? How will they be affected once the war ends? Ah, my friend, run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab A Poppy in Remembrance. (It launches November 1st to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I.)

Huge thanks go to Michelle who delivered this engaging novel. If you’ve not read Mrs. Oswald Chambers yet, grab it too. It’s filled with more details to encourage and bless us all and don’t miss Michelle’s website where she offers numerous resources and fascinating articles you don’t want to miss.

‘Til next time!

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Please Join Us Monday the 22nd for a Hair-raising Discussion of The House on Foster Hill!

Friends! Run and fetch our book for this month’s book club meeting ASAP! You’ll be able to finish it quickly. Be sure you have all the lights on as it will have you bug-eyed and a little on edge… (We’re meeting Monday the 22nd from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Invite your friends to join you! We’ll meet in the sanctuary of Middletown United Methodist Church. Address at the end of this post.)

The book had me from its cover:

Author Jaime Jo Wright created quite a page-turner, while jumping back and forth between two women separated by a century in the  very same house. Sounds confusing, but Jamie guides us readers along beautifully and at a fast pace.

It’s a huge deal Jamie Jo’s debut novel is nominated in two categories for the very coveted Christy Award: First Novel and Mystery/Suspense/ Thriller.

I’m only a hundred pages in, so I’m going to let reviewer Barbara Derse tease you for a moment :

“In her debut novel, Author Jamie Jo Wright has delivered a compelling tale of murder and mystery through a time split-story line connected by an old abandoned house, the lives it touched, and the long protected secrets it hold. Gripping suspense, multiple plot twists, hair-raising terror and well developed characters travel across the pages.

I found myself riveted by Kaine Prescott’s and Ivy Thorpe’s lives as they converged at The House on Foster Hill. Wright has woven a dual story so intricately entwined it took me to the end of the book to unravel and reveal the truth.

And, it was a surprise…not what I was expecting at all. The seamless transition from one era to the other kept the smooth rhythm of the story flowing and held me captive with each turn of the page to the very end.Though the story in both eras has a dark  and ominous feel to it, it also offers light and life. Intertwined with the frightening evil that overshadows the house, a legacy of hope rises and shines through the strong women who refuse to let the house’s secret ruin their lives or force them to live in fear; women who look to an eternal future.

Wright does an exceptional job weaving faith into everyday moments in a natural, unforced way…as it should be. Talk of God’s love and His promises written in scripture were flawlessly laid within casual conversation and deep reflections by the characters.

Wright has crafted a well written debut and is an author to watch in the coming years. I look forward to more from her.”

And, good news for us, Jaime Jo has written more…

(releasing January 22nd, available for ore-order.)

To find out more about Jamie Jo Wright, visit her website:  www.jaimewrightbooks.com

Grab some friends and join us in the sanctuary of Middletown United Methodist Church, Monday night, October 22nd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  The more the merrier!

Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 245-8839.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

See you next Monday!

‘Til next time…

 

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How About a Staycation Where You Get to Travel Across 4 Continents? (with help from Tsh Oxenreider)

Friends!  Who in their right mind would tote THREE young children across FOUR continents, with her husband and FIVE backpacks over NINE months??? Uh, that would be Tsh Oxenreider.  Now that I’ve read her book, I feel as if I had the fabulous opportunity to accompany her from my little chair right here on our porch.

The book?  At Home in the World:  Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe.

Having enjoyed reading another one of Tsh’s books (Notes from a Blue Bike), when I discovered this one, I had to grab it.  Her little family accomplished this traveling while “world-schooling” their kids.  Their experiences are eye-opening and jaw dropping all at once. (Small detail:  their children were 8, 6, and 4 at the time.  Piece of cake, right?)

One minute you find yourself bug-eyed, the next minute you’re howling laughing. Upon some hair-raising discoveries you’ll find yourself saying, “Wow, I’m glad they did this!  Not sure I’d be so brave.” (i.e. finding a tarantula in your shower or monkeys stealing a sandal!)

We readers get to see firsthand how travel shapes and transforms this precious family of five. Chris Guillebeau said, “Tsh is a remarkable example of how to balance the rooted stability of family with the winged adventure of wanderlust.”

Toting only backpacks, the Oxenreider family hops a plane bound for China where they land twenty-nine hours later.  Upon arrival, they snap “first day of school” pics in Beijing, their three children’s blond hair fascinating the Asians. You’ll get to go on more than one tuk-tuk ride and gag over some prepackaged chicken feet in a market.

On to Hong Kong…and then Thailand where Tsh seeks out some spiritual direction.  I love her honesty and hunger to revive her faith. Amazingly, and surely God-orchestrated, Tsh is connected with a woman by the name of Nora, a spiritual director, who she meets with a number of times since they’d be in Thailand for two months.

Right away, Nora suggests the below phrase:

Precious pearls of faith are dotted throughout, many of which are revelations. God’s omnipresence will warm your soul.

The family flies to southern Thailand, strategizing to create an endless summer.  A ninety-degree Thanksgiving is what they got. On to Singapore, where it’s also ninety degrees, we learn it’s always ninety degrees there.

And did you know the Changi Airport is the best airport in the world? “Free movie theaters, swimming pools, art stations, video game portals, nature paths in outdoor gardens, world-class playgrounds, a butterfly sanctuary, and sleeping rooms.” Who needs Disney?!

After a brief visit, the Oxenreider fam is off to Australia and it’s Christmastime. They travel from Sydney, to Brisbane, to Cairns. We learn quickly Australia is “one of the world’s most expensive countries.” Interestingly, both Tsh and her husband, Kyle, have jobs where they can work from anywhere.

A huge aha moment occurred further into the chapter on Australia.  I’ve always been a fan of koala bears, thinking Qantas Airlines surely is the bomb.  I’d never realized the country is home to “5,700 different animal species, 80 percent found nowhere else in the world…Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else on the plant. Ten of the worlds’ deadliest snakes live here, and five of the most lethal creatures in the world reside in the northeast state of Queensland.” Packin’ your bags?

Tsh’s vivid writing brings each new element of each country to life. A favorite quote from their visit to Australia is, “The land is special here; a dance of God’s divinity with dirt. We are here to witness it.”

Red Rocks, Katajuda, Outback, Australia

John, their hiking guide, warns the children not to touch a certain plant with side effects you don’t want to read about, much less subject your children to. I’d have bailed.  You don’t want to miss this part.

Nor do you want to miss their snorkeling adventure at the Great Barrier Reef, making you want to jump in with them, even if you have to stuff yourself into a wet suit. Tsh shares, “The sky and water are monochromatic. It is a canvas of blue, textured by shadowy-small waves.”

Onward to New Zealand…from Christchurch to Queenstown. The plot thickens, when because of expenses, their next half of the visit will be spent in….get ready:  a campervan in non-stop rain. (I’d have had to stop and buy duct tape to cover my mouth.)

Another nugget we should all copy is a term Tsh teaches us upon their return to Australia where they get to housesit for friends. This friend’s parents pick them up at the airport, some fifty miles from the outskirts of Sidney where they’d be staying.  They come in not one, but two cars.  Commenting on the cost of gas, Tsh insists they at least pay them something.  But no, Pete and Bez won’t hear of it.

They go on to explain about “The Westbrook Effect” which came from an experience they had with a man named Westbrook.  Every time they came to visit, he’d pull out all the stops, going above and beyond, treating them like royalty.  They decided from then on that anytime they had guests they’d do the same. Likewise Tsh and Kyle said they’d be doing it too. Their family of five celebrates Christmas, and it’s on to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is a “pear-shaped island southeast of India.”  What transpires here is my favorite part of the journey.  (Remember the tarantula and the monkeys?  Do NOT miss this chapter!) Also keep in mind that “cobras are as plentiful as Texas squirrels.” How much sleep would you get? (You’ll also discover incredible facts about tea in Sri Lanka and coffee in Ethiopia.)

Our own Kentucky author, Wendell Berry, introduces Part Four. It includes Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Morocco.

Part Five takes us to France, Italy, Croatia, Kosovo (where Tsh and Kyle met), Turkey (where they lived with two of their three children for some time), Germany, and England. Since Europe has always been Tsh’s favorite place to visit, the stops in each of these countries are extra special, including the places where they stay, one of which is an olive oil mill!

You can easily picture the countryside in these petite villages.  Breathtaking. At one point Tsh reveals, “Passport stamps became icons for gathered wisdom.

Every single chapter (there are twenty-two!) is a wealth of information, entertaining and educating the reader who I presume will add some of these stops to their own bucket list.

Now you know what I’m going to say! Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and snag a copy of At Home in the World:  Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe. See where your definition of home is after reading this.

Bonus: Don’t miss Tsh’s blog:  The Art of Simple www.theartofsimple.net

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

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