Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review Monday: The Governess of Highland Hall

Yikes! It's already the last day of September...time flies! Soon it will be Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, and then Christmas and New Year's already.

Sorry about that little rant, I just got caught off guard when I looked at the calendar.

Anyway, on to today's review.

I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC copy of The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky from Multnomah Publishers.

Here's a little bit about the book:

"Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help? 
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?"

Here are my thoughts:
I really, really, really liked this book. I also did not expect to like it as much as I did.

For one, I honestly had not heard of the author before, but I can guarantee you that I will be looking for more from her soon. 
Anyway, on to the actual book. It's setting is amazing. I love that it is late enough in history to have automobiles, but early enough to still be set in the grand, opulent halls of an old English manor. The setting reminds me somewhat of Downton Abbey.
I loved the added touch of the love of mission work in India that the main character, Julia, has. 
At first I did not really love either main character. I thought Julia was slightly annoying, but after a couple of more chapters, I grew to love her. Also, I disliked the hero, William, at first because of how he treated his children, but after I learned his reasons, and how he changed later on, I really liked him.
There are also some lovely side-stories, including a bit of a romance between Sarah, William's crippled sister, and the hall's head gardener. I loved these two!

Anyway, Julia is taken in as, you guessed it, the governess of Highland Hall. She is governess to William's two young children and his two cousins, who are in their teens. 
William is struggling with paying death duties for the estate he inherited, and must try to think of new ways to save or earn money, or he will lose his home. Luckily, Julia is happy to help him.

I loved this story, and I recommend it. 

Pre-order or order a copy when you can. It's for sale on October 15, 2013.
I was given this copy in exchange for my honest review.

Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of nearly a dozen novels and novellas, including Snowflake Sweethearts and Along Came Love. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award and the International Digital Award. She lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, counselor and the author of several parenting books. - See more at:

Have you read books by this author? Do you like this type of setting?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bible Verse Sunday: Believe

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Acts 16:31

Friday, September 27, 2013

Writing Friday: Writers Write

Hello, friends!

Do you know what writers do? They write.

If writers want to improve their writing or just grow accustomed to it, they need to write. Now, I'm not implying that authors need to constantly add to their books. I would eventually need a change of pace if that was all I ever wrote all the time.

So, I have been paying attention to what I actually do write.
I spend a good chunk of time writing these blog posts for you, my lovely readers.
Also, I am beginning to work on writing a play. I know that a play is still fiction, but it is a bit of a change of pace from the novels I am used to writing.
I also occasionally write short stories for school. I wrote an unusual one last week, which I may share with you in next week's post. (You may need to remind me!)

And finally, another large portion of my writing is spent on yearbook. I am the editor in chief of my school's yearbook, and I write a lot of articles for that. Journalism is sometimes a refreshing change of pace as well.

All in all, as I writer, I write a lot. As writers should do.

Do you write? If so, what do you write? Fiction, novels, short stories, plays, articles?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Music Thursday: You Raise Me Up

Hello, everyone!

Today I decided to share with you Josh Groban singing a lovely song.  Here he is singing "You Raise Me Up". This was the song for my audition dance for Les Miserables! :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bible Verse Wednesday: Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
Matthew 13:44

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Broadway Tuesday: Someone Like You

Hello, everyone!

This weekend, I got to see The play Red Badge Variations at the Coterie Theatre. It was its world premiere, and it was a fantastic show! It had superb acting and great characters and themes. It was a modern take on the classic book Red Badge of Courage, and was set in modern-day Afghanistan.

If you live in the Kansas City area, I strongly suggest you go see it. It plays September 17th-October 5th.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with today's Broadway Tuesday.

Today I will share a song I LOVE from Jekyll and Hyde: "Someone Like You."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review Monday: An Excerpt from Goddess Tithe

Hello, everyone!
I'm doing something a little bit different today.
I am joining in with the Cover Reveal Blitz of Goddess Tithe by Anne Elizabeth Stengl.

So, here's some info from her next book.

Title: Goddess Tithe

Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood

Expected Release Date: November 12, 2013

Publisher: Rooglewood Press

Page Count: 130 pages

The Vengeful Goddess Demands Her Tithe
When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya's only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown's garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

Check it out here:

Excerpt from the Story:

Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:


"“And what do you make of him yourself?”
Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”
“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.
The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”
Munny made neither answer nor any move.
“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”
“I hope—” Munny began.
But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”
The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.
Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.
“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.
“It’s a sign!”
“She’s warning us!”
“It’s a sign, I tell you!”
Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.
They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.
They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.
Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”
There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.

But it was."

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower,and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bible Verse Sunday: It Is By Grace

Ephesians 2:4-5
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions---it is by grace you have been saved.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Writing Friday: Acting And Writing

Sorry, this post would have been up sooner but my internet was down all last night. As most of you who know me fairly well know, acting and writing are my two favorite hobbies.
Have you ever realized how closely the two tie in together?

First of all, I have noticed that a lot of my writer friends also act or enjoy acting, and that some of my actor friends also like to write on the side.

Have you ever noticed that?
Well, I think I have figured out the reason why.  Acting and writing are both artistic, and they both display emotions and characters and settings and plot…and everything else like that.

An actor and an author do almost the same thing by telling their audience a story.
Whenever I do theatre, I connect how different characters think, and how they interact with other characters. I can apply this to my own writing, and I think it makes me understand my characters more deeply.
The same reverses to acting, because I feel that my writing makes my acting stronger.
These are two similar worlds connected by portraying stories and characters.

Also, I am now a member of the Coterie Theatre’s Roundtable for Young Playwrights. We meet a couple of times each month. I am learning through this what it is like to be a playwright (along with some VERY helpful peer editing) , and that connects my two worlds of acting and writing even more closely. I am learning how writers write for actors and everything else.
I really like it!

Have you ever noticed a correlation between the skills used in acting and writing? Have you thought of anything I didn’t mention?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Music Thursday: The Pirate Queen

Ahoy everyone!

Did ye know today 'tis National Talk Like A Pirate Day?


So, today I will be sharin' with ye a beautiful song from the amazing musical "The Pirate Queen" performed by Hadley Fraser and Stephanie J. Block.

Now go swab the decks, ye worthless cockroaches!*

*I realize that my "pirate talk" is very cheesy and not very accurate to true pirates. ;)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bible Verse Wednesday: Saved through His Life

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 5:10

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Broadway Tuesday: Catch Me If You Can

A while ago, I saw the musical Catch Me If You Can while it was in town, and I really loved it! Here is the lovely song "Goodbye" performed by the very talented Aaron Tveit. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review Monday: Elusive Hope by MaryLu Tyndall!


Guys, I just finished reading Elusive Hope by MaryLu Tyndall. I'm so happy that I got to read it early, but soooo sad it's over already. :(

If you don't know already, Elusive Hope is the sequel to Forsaken Dreams, an equally great book. To know what I thought of Forsaken Dreams, click this link to see my review.

Anyway, on to my review of Elusive Hope.

First of all, here is a little bit about the book, taken from amazon: "Embark on an exotic adventure in Book 2 of the Escape to Paradise series from bestselling author MaryLu Tyndall. In the fledgling colony of New Hope, their friends struggle to create a Southern utopia in Brazil soon after the Civil War. But Hayden is seeking revenge—relentlessly. And Magnolia is seeking a way out—desperately. They both seek to use the other for their own purposes—deceptively. Falling in love was never part of their plans. . . ."

Now, here is what I thought.

It took me about two weeks to read Elusive Hope, and I can assure that it was not because I did not enjoy reading it. No, I wanted it to last as long as I could possibly make it last. Which was still not long enough.

I am pretty sure that Elusive Hope was better than the book before it in the Escape to Destiny trilogy, Forsaken Dreams, if that is even possible. Every single word was masterfully written, and I loved every second of this novel.

Magnolia hates life in the fledgling Southern Utopia in Brazil her family forced her to move to. So, she sets her mind to running away, and going home, back where she hopes her fiance is still waiting for her. It turns out, Hayden, the charming man she regularly refers to as a toad, seems to be her ticket out. She braves the task of a multiple-day journey through the jungles of Brazil with Hayden to get to Rio in order to catch a ship back to the United States.

Trouble is, Hayden doesn't plan on returning her to America. Hayden plans on doing what he, the confidence man, does best--swindle Magnolia out of her money.

The toiling trek to the jungle brings these two unlikely people together in ways they never would have suspected.

On the side, there are reoccurring creepy things happening in this creepy jungle including mysterious black mist, an abandoned cannibal's dwelling, reoccurring visions of people from all the character's pasts, and some dark forces that have been unleashed. Some of the scenes were written so well they actually had me kind of scared, as if I were right there with the characters.

Oh, by the way, there are pirates in this book! So I obviously loved that part. :)

The characters are wonderfully developed. I felt like I knew them personally! And, to top that, I felt Magnolia's pain in trekking through the blisteringly hot jungle in all of her underskirts and hoops and high heels.
I loved how Magnolia's character grew and changed throughout the novel, and I loved Hayden from the beginning and even more by the time I was finished reading.

All together, this is an absolutely lovely piece of writing and I think it has something in it to entertain everyone. I recommend it to all of my friends!

I suggest you pre-order Elusive Hope here.

I hope you found my review helpful! Have you read Forsaken Dreams, or anything else by MaryLu Tyndall?

Have you read anything about the US reconstructing after the Civil War?

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bible Verse Sunday: Rejoice

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
 Philippians 4:4

Friday, September 13, 2013

Writing Friday: What It's Like to Be a Writer

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a writer?

I'll tell you what it is like for me.

During the normal week, I go to school, come home, do homework, read a little or watch some TV, and then write. Or at least try to write. I'm participating in the Go Teen Writers 100 for 100 challenge, which really helps me get at least some writing done each day. Basically it challenges you to write at least 100 words for 100 days.

If I'm not writing, I am editing other friend's works or reading.

Obviously, I get to write more on the weekends. :) Now, I am a member of the Coterie Theatre's Young Playwrights Roundtable, which meets a couple of Sundays of each month. So, for that, I get to meet fellow writers and work on writing a play.

Also, I am a member of ACFW, and I get lots of emails from them that are very helpful. Actually, right now the ACFW annual conference is going on and I get Stay-At-Home Conference emails where I am.

Tomorrow I have my first local ACFW chapter meeting which I am very excited for.(VERY!)

All in all, I love being a writer. :)

Do you write? What time of day do you write the best?

If you don't write, what would you like to know about how and when I (or other writers) write?

Sorry, No Writing Friday Today!

I totally forgot to do a post for today. I'm so sorry. 
I promise I will have something up later today or tomorrow.

See you then!

Here's a picture of Kinder chocolate, the bet chocolate in the world, to soothe you. ;)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Music Thursday: I Still Believe

I still really like Miss Saigon after seeing it, so today I am going to share Lea Salonga singing "I Still Believe" from Miss Saigon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bible Verse Wednesday: Listen

Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance.
Proverbs 1:5

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Broadway Tuesday: Sun and Moon

I got to see the wonderful musical Miss Saigon this weekend, and I loved it!

If you aren't familiar with Miss Saigon, it was written by the same creators of Les Miserables.

Miss Saigon is going on a tour of the US right now and is opening in West End soon. If you get a chance to see it, go do so! It is full of beautiful music.

Here is "Sun and Moon" sung by Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman. Enjoy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review Monday: Still Reading!

Hello, everyone!

Sadly, I don't have a review yet again for today. I am still reading! Elusive Hope by MaryLu Tyndall seems a little on the longish side (which isn't a bad thing!) and I've had to cut down reading time due to writing and schoolwork.

I am still reading it diligently and should probably have a review for you next week.

I can still tell you what I think of it so far!

Really, I am loving it. I may be taking longer to read because I am enjoying it so much I don't want it to end.

The characters are beautifully written and I am loving every second of it. Oh, by the way, a couple days ago, I just got to pirates. You heard me, pirates! Needless to say, I am happy. LOL

Here's a blurb about the book from Amazon: "Embark on an exotic adventure in Book 2 of the Escape to Paradise series from bestselling author MaryLu Tyndall. In the fledgling colony of New Hope, their friends struggle to create a Southern utopia in Brazil soon after the Civil War. But Hayden is seeking revenge—relentlessly. And Magnolia is seeking a way out—desperately. They both seek to use the other for their own purposes—deceptively. Falling in love was never part of their plans. . . ."

What are you reading? And, if you aren't reading something right now, what was the last thing you read or the next thing you want to read?

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a good day! See you tomorrow for Broadway Tuesday.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bible Verse Sunday: Riches of His Glory

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Friday, September 6, 2013

Writing Friday: Swept to Sea

Hello, everyone!

A while back I asked you what you wanted to see in these weekly writing posts, and, along with writing tips, some of you asked to see a little more of my novel, Swept to Sea.

Well, yesterday a friend of mine (you know who you are ;) ) suggested that I share a scene or so from Swept to Sea.

So, today I will be sharing a small excerpt from my novel.

""Hmmmm, what have we got here?" Caspian chuckled, tossing his baldric and weapons onto an armchair rather than putting them away. "Why, I do believe that I have a beautiful young lady hiding out under my desk. Now, is that not a strange occurrence, Reed?" Caspian asked. The child giggled, his eyes sparkling in amusement. "I daresay this has not happened to me before."

Lady Trenton's face flushed to a comely pink. She clambered to her feet, but tripped on her voluminous gown.

"Blast these skirts!" She muttered. Caspian chuckled at the word “blast” coming out of those pretty pink lips.

"Shame on you, Lady Trenton. A lady such as you should not use such loose language. Surely 'tis most improper." Caspian suppressed a grin at her reaction.

Lady Trenton gave him a deadly glare. The woman ceased struggling with her skirts and tried to rise quickly. In the process, she whacked her head against the corner of his desk.

After a moment of looking dazed, she crumpled to the floor in an unconscious heap. `

Caspian immediately sobered and stooped down to take her limp form in his arms.

After a second her head jerked up and she struggled against his grasp. Caspian gently laid the woman on his bed. She moaned and curled onto her side, mumbling something incoherent."

--From Swept to Sea by Heather Manning

Did you like that excerpt? Hopefully yes. :) Next week's post will be about writing again. Until then, have a good week!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Music Thursday: Sirens

Hello, everybody!

Do you like Jane Eyre? I do, and I know a lot of people who do as well. But did you know that there was a musical made of Jane Eyre? I don't think it lasted very long, because not many people have heard of it, but it does have some pretty music in it.

Here is the song "Sirens" from Jane Eyre. I LOVE this song, by the way!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bible Verse Wednesday: The Fruits of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Broadway Tuesday: What You Own

Hello everyone! Today I am sharing the song "What You Own" from the musical Rent, sung by Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Review Monday: I Am Reading

Hello, everyone!
I don't have a book review for you today because I haven't finished reading a book yet, but I will tell you what I am reading right now.

I was lucky enough to have received an early review copy of Elusive Hope, written by one of my favorite authors, MaryLu Tyndall.

It is the second book in the Escape to Paradise series, the first of which was Forsaken Dreams. 
Let me tell you that I absolutely adore this book. I love the characters and the setting and just everything about it.

Here's some information from Amazon: "Embark on an exotic adventure in Book 2 of the Escape to Paradise series from bestselling author MaryLu Tyndall. In the fledgling colony of New Hope, their friends struggle to create a Southern utopia in Brazil soon after the Civil War. But Hayden is seeking revenge—relentlessly. And Magnolia is seeking a way out—desperately. They both seek to use the other for their own purposes—deceptively. Falling in love was never part of their plans. . . ."

Sadly, you have to wait until November to read this great book, but don't hesitate to pre-order it. I promise, you won't regret it.

(Isn't the cover absolutely lovely? It fits the book perfectly, too.)

I'll let you know what I thought of the entire book in my next review. Until then, have a good week and read a good book! :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bible Verse Sunday: Who Can Be Against Us?

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
Romans 8:31