Interview & giveaway!


Destiny's Hands - Violet NesdolyI (and my book Destiny’s Hands) are thrilled to be featured today on the blog Interviews and Reviews. Thank you, Laura Davis, for interesting questions and an opportunity to talk about this project.

Though Destiny’s Hands is not a new book (it came out in 2012) it is a timely read as it tells the story of the first Passover. The modern celebration of the Jewish Feast of Passover begins at sundown tonight, April 14th.

To complement Laura’s interview, I’m giving away two paperback copies of Destiny’s Hands.

Interested in winning a book? Simply sign up in the comments below (by April 30th) and I’ll put your name in the draw. I’ll announce the winners here on May 1st.

Digital copies are also available for new-school readers who prefer the weightless version. (Sorry, I can’t give those away.)

The Auschwitz Escape (review)

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The Auschwitz EscapeThe Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jacob Weisz is an unexceptional Jewish boy who lives in Siegen, Germany in the 1940s. He likes his quiet life with his parents, loves going to violin lessons because he might catch a glimpse—even a shy smile—from Naomi Silver, and is embarrassed by his inability to hit the target when Uncle Avi tries to teach him how to shoot a gun.

But as Hitler consolidates power over Germany and then starts annexing the nations around, life changes dramatically. Soon, under Uncle Avi’s influence, Jacob finds himself part of the Jewish Resistance movement. And then the unthinkable happens.

The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg takes place in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Rosenberg not only paints scenes of these places in shades of hopeless black and grey, but we taste the slop soup and mouldy bread, feel the cold through thin clothes, the pain of bruised and blistered feet, and smell of smoke from those hellish ovens. That last is a constant reminder of what’s really happening here.

Rosenberg digs deep into Jacob, making us feel his disbelief, abhorrence, fear, despair and hope that surely help will come once the world knows what’s going on here.

The Auschwitz Escape is a compelling, sobering story that takes us back to World War II and then asks us to examine current world events in the light of what we can and should do despite how inconvenient and unpopular it might be.

The Auschwitz Escape is part of my own Kindle collection.

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How High Will You Climb? (review)

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How High Will You Climb?: Determine Your Success by Cultivating the Right AttitudeHow High Will You Climb?: Determine Your Success by Cultivating the Right Attitude by John C. Maxwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you need an attitude makeover, How High Will You Climb? is your go-to guide. Using the metaphor of attitude in the world of flight, author John C. Maxwell helps us analyze our life’s attitude (“… an inward feeling expressed by behaviour” – Kindle Location 81) from every possible angle: what an attitude is, how it’s formed, what things cause it to nose-dive, and how to change it.

The book has many practical examples. But it is more than a self-help guide, for its points are solidly buttressed by scripture. The body of the book contains lots of interactive features like self-tests and practical application suggestions. In addition, the back of the book has a Study Guide with a set of questions, discussion starters, and journal prompts for each chapter.

I found the book challenging and helpful. I especially appreciated the chapter on how to recognize and overcome discouragement. It is certainly a book I will keep close at hand, for as Maxwell points out, attitude is something we grapple with as long as we live:

“Our attitudes are formed by our experiences and how we choose to react to them. Therefore as long as we live, we are forming, changing or reinforcing attitudes. … our attitude doesn’t remain stagnant” – KL 546 & 571.

(How High Will You Climb? was first published as Your Attitude in 1984 by Here’s Life Publishers.)

I received How High Will You Climb? as a gift from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purpose of writing a review.

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Appointment in Jerusalem (review)


Appointment In JerusalemAppointment In Jerusalem by Lydia Prince

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In December of 1926 Lydia Christensen was a successful 36-year-old Domestic Arts teacher in the city of Korsor Denmark. However, just before Christmas when her longtime friend and colleague Soren asked her to marry him, she couldn’t answer “yes.” She was fond of him alright. But was the settled life in Denmark “it”? Somehow she wanted more.

Back in Korsor after spending Christmas her family in Bonderslev, she decided to spend her vacation reading. Ignoring the literary choices on her bookshelf, she pulled out the Bible. She began to read in Matthew and soon found herself transfixed as the book came alive to her.

When she got to the beatitudes she read Jesus’ words: “Ask and it shall be given you.” Could she ask about the unnamed longing she had been feeling? How did one do that? Should she kneel” Pray aloud? Then:

“And now in the familiar room, with the sound of the clock ticking in my ears, something took place for which my whole background and education left me totally unprepared. … No longer was I looking into the back of the chair. In its place a Person was standing over me. A long white garment covered the Person’s feet. Slowly I raised my eyes upward. Above my head I saw two arms outstretched in the attitude of one bestowing a blessing. … Involuntarily a word rose to my lips: ‘Jesus!’ But even as I uttered it, He was gone” – Kindle Location 450.

Everything changed for Lydia after that. She began to study her Bible seriously and spend lots of time in prayer. She asked for believer’s baptism—a scandalous thing to do in Denmark’s staunch Lutheran culture. She attended meetings with the suspect Pentecostals. And she had more visions.

Appointment in Jerusalem is the account of the several years in Lydia’s life when she went from a secure job as a Danish teacher to doing whatever she sensed God was telling her to do in Jerusalem. There she had a remarkable ministry, especially to abandoned girls, many of whom she adopted.

She later met and married Derek Prince, author and Bible teacher. He wrote Lydia’s story with her input. Written in creative non-fiction style this fascinating biography is sure to encourage and challenge readers of any age. Its clear message of love for Jerusalem and the Jewish people is a welcome one in these days Middle East conflict.

(I read the Kindle edition of this book, which is part of my own collection.)

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Heaven’s Prey (review)

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Heaven's Prey (Redemption's Edge, #1)Heaven’s Prey by Janet Sketchley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The storm that 46-year-old Ruth Warner braves to attend her weekly prayer meeting is a perfect opening to Heaven’s Prey, a debut novel by Nova Scotia native Janet Sketchley. Ruth’s husband Tony can’t understand why she would go out on such a night to pray for Harry Silver, the serial killer who abducted, then butchered their beautiful niece Susan.

But Ruth’s nightmares of Silver’s destiny without salvation drive her, especially now that he has escaped from prison and other Susans may be in danger. Little does Ruth guess, when she stops at a convenience store on her way home, who will soon be in Silver’s clutches.

Heaven’s Prey is suspense at its most gripping. In it Sketchley makes us face our worst nightmares in the company of a depraved man with no compassion, seemingly no conscience, and a deep-rooted hatred of God and everyone associated with Him. At the same time we delve, through flashbacks, into Silver’s past, following his rise to stardom on the NASCAR circuit even as his addiction to pornography spirals him into a world of obsession and lust.

Sketchley’s vigorous prose places us squarely in each scene, whether it’s tied up in an isolated Nova Scotia cottage or careening around racetrack obstacles: “Danger came from what he couldn’t see. …The tire rubber would delaminate in long strips and flail his chassis to bits” – Kindle Location 1702.

Though the subject matter is edgy, I appreciated Sketchley’s avoidance of gratuitous and disturbing description. What comes through in this bite-your-nails tale is the possibility of redemption. God, the tireless pursuer intent on capturing even the worst of sinners, is the real hero of this story. Discussion questions at the end of the book help readers debrief and make sense of what they’ve just lived through.

Explore Heaven’s Prey in more depth through the book’s page on Janet Sketchley’s blog. There you can also sign up for her newsletter so you’re in the loop for the release of more books in the Redemption’s Edge fiction series.

I received a copy of Heaven’s Prey as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review. This review was first published in Faith Today (January/February ’14).

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Glamorous Illusions (review)

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Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour, #1)Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Tawn Bergren

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cora Diehl takes the train home from Normal School in Dillon Montana expecting to spend the summer on the farm with her parents. But why aren’t they there to meet the train? The sight of her distraught mother beside her father’s collapsed form on the barn floor catapults her into a summer like no other in Lisa T. Bergren’s historical (1913) Cinderella tale Glamorous Illusions.

Cora discovers she is not who she always thought she was, Soon she finds herself in the middle of copper baron’ Wallace Kensington’s family carrying the burden of a scandalous beginning and trying to fit in with his spoiled and shallow offspring on a social and educational Grand Tour of England and the continent.

Will McCabe, nephew and assistant to the tour’s chaperone Stuart McCabe falls for Cora on sight—as do most of the males who come into her orbit. Innocent Cora feels the chemistry with Will but she also welcomes the overtures of the rich and dashing Pierre de Richelieu. Both Cora and Will profess a Christian faith and both find in it an anchor through this tempestuous summer.

I found the plot’s premise fascinating but Bergren’s treatment left me feeling a little let down. Though Cora comes to some key realizations about herself by the end of the book, the romance story line left me disappointed and liking Cora less at the end of the book than the beginning. The way she changes under the pressures of wealth and status make me wonder if she’ll end up almost as shallow as her half-sisters.

A set of discussion questions at the book’s end will be helpful for book club readers.

This book is part of my own Kindle collection.

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What’s up, and a giveaway


Aside from the blog hop posts and the March almanac, I’ve taken a break from blogging this month. From February 14th till March 17th I was away at my daughter and son-in-law’s home in northern BC. I was there to help with a new baby that joined their family on February 24th. What a happy event!

Then on March 2nd something not-so-happy happened. I mis-stepped on a couple of stairs and tumbled down to land on and fracture my right hip. Ouch! Fortunately I was near a hospital with good orthopaedic doctors and had surgery to repair the fracture on March 3rd.

Now I’m back home, hobbling about with a cane and trying to follow doctors’ orders about what I can and can’t do in my recovering state. Thankfully sitting is no problem and neither is typing.

Hip Kit

My new best friends: cane, picker, long-handled sponge, shoehorn, sock dresser, Kindle, & two-wheeled walker

While away I read several books. I’ll be posting reviews of some of them in the days ahead.

Loveology by John Mark ComerAlso, while away the generous people who provided me with a copy of Loveology to REVIEW sent another copy of the book to give away. If you’d like to win this excellent hardcover book, enter your wish and your name in the comments below. I’ll draw for the winner a week from today, April 1st. (Sorry, but due to the cost of mailing parcels internationally, I will only take entries from Canada & the U.S.)

One more thing. After three months I’ve decided to drop the monthly Freelance Writer Almanac posts. They are very time consuming to put together, I’m not convinced they are that useful, and I’ve decided to spend the time they take on other things.