Saturday, April 6, 2013

Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I by Sandra Byrd

"We are all concerned for your well-being Majesty," I said.  I slipped one more rose into her Tudor arrangement but had, apparently neglected to snip off a thorn and it broke my flesh and I began to bleed.

"And I for yours.  Be careful," Elizabeth said as she turned back to her dispatches. "Roses have thorns."

Amazing.  That is the word that keeps coming to mind about this book.  The content is fantastic.  Roses Have Thorns is a fictional work based on actual events that occurred during the 16th  and early 17th century in England when Elizabeth I reigned as queen.  Told from the point of view of Elin von Snakenborg, a young women who comes to live in England from Sweden, and becomes one of Elizabeth's "ladies in waiting," the story is about women, relationships, the power that being a servant produces, and the sacrifice that often comes with it. 
There is so much I want to say about this book, but cannot so as not to give away information, so the story may unfold for the reader as it did for me.  I will say that I found it amazing the amount of content in this novel.  I remember looking at the number on the page and thinking, " I am only at page 70?"  Because this is a work of historical fiction, much research was done to stay as true as possible to actual events.  In this particular genre, as well as in Biblical fiction, that is a trait I esteem highly.
I grew to love Elizabeth while reading the novel, but at the same time wanted to withdraw from her because she was often extremely fierce.  Elin von Snakenborg, the voice of the story, was also a woman I came to admire.  The relationships among women and the courses they take is something worthy of study.  The relationship between these two women and the events they weathered makes for a very good story.
A few other thoughts on this novel. As with the other two novels in the trilogy, this one could also be considered Christian fiction, yet it is a little more subtle.  I think that is due to the nature of Elizabeth.  She was quietly spiritual, as is this novel.  There is reoccurring discussion of the division between Protestants and Catholics, but it is not the focus of the book.  There are also many references to scripture, but it is not as overt as was To Die For and The Secret Keeper, the other two in the Ladies in Waiting trilogy. 
Also, the novel, if given a movie rating, would be considered PG-13.  There is mention of physical matters between a man and a woman, but only in the purest sense between a husband and a wife, as God, who created sex, intended it to be.  I felt as though I should mention it because it in my opinion, as such a well done work of historical fiction, it would be a good novel to be included on a homeschool senior level reading list.  There is a lot of information that can lead to further historical research.
Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will enjoy this book.  Those interested in the time period surrounding the Tudors will especially enjoy this novel.  
Many blessings to you as you read!

Disclosure Statement: I received this book free of charge from the publisher. I was not required to give a favorable review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sent by Hilary Alan

"God is working in your life even when you don't realize it."-Hilary Alan, Chapter 2, Sent


It is a guiding thought in my everyday life that God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us.  This is one of the themes in the book Sent.  God is constantly at work to propel us into that plan, if we will let Him.  Sent is the story of the Alan family and how God propelled them into part of His plan for their lives. 

In December of 2004, a devastating tsunami hit Southeast Asia.  The magnitude of the devastation cannot be understand I am sure unless you have personally experienced it.  In response to that event, many people were sent or went to help those affected.  The Alan family was a family that God commissioned to go.  The book shares the story of the process they went through from God leading them to go and their journey there and back. 

While reading this book, many strong words come to mind.  Commitment. Faith. Love.  Obedience.  These are all words to describe this family.  This was their response to God and to the people of Southeast Asia. 

Recently I have been reading about minimalism.  Minimalism is a philosophy about living with less.  More is not always better.  I thought about this while I was reading this book.  You will find out when you read the book all of the stuff they had to strip themselves of to be obedient to what God was asking them to do.  The only thing you can take with you to Heaven is people.  In the book, Hilary Alan shares the experiences of her family and the people that came into their lives that they got to deliver God's Word to because of their obedience to Him.
While reading this book, there was something that bothered me however.  I don't know everything.  The older I get and the more I walk with Him, I realize I don't know as much as I thought I did.  There were times in the book when the author prayed for people and because it wasn't answered instantly or in the way she prayed, she thought it wasn't God's will or He answered her prayer in another way.  I get that about answering in another way, but I just felt like it wasn't a consistent belief with scripture because of the way she believed about some things.  God wants us to pray according to His Word.  He is faithful to that.  If the answer is delayed, it doesn't mean that God doesn't want to or won't answer.  He will answer according to His Word.  Maybe we need to change our belief about a certain area, to believe that we can have what God's Word says we can have.  He is faithful.

This book was very inspiring.  It was one that I had a hard time putting down.  I have a heart for missions, so this stirred my soul greatly.  It was very refreshing to witness a family whose major focus was fulfilling the plans and purposes of God, no matter what He asked them to do. 

Many blessings to you as you read.  My prayer for you today is that you hear His voice when He leads and obey as He guides you into what He created you for!  The rewards will be eternal.

 “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” -Romans 10:15


Disclosure Statement: I received this book free of charge as part of a free books for bloggers program from Waterbrook Multnomah. I was not required to give a favorable review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.