More Travel Adventures – Irish Castles!

Goodness, it’s been a month since our last adventure and Kate and I are just itching to go on another one but I realized this morning I never posted about last month’s quick trip to see Irish Castles!

First – I must thank my daughter Kate.  As you know, she is a flight attendant.  Well, the flight we wanted to get on was almost completely full with just one seat left.  So, she sat on a jump seat all the way to Ireland so I could get on that plane!  What a wonderful daughter!

Yes, we barely made it on the plane but we did, arriving in Dublin early on a Saturday morning.  Visitors Information at the airport was AMAZING!  We got our bus passes and then our agent called our castle (Clontarf Castle) and found out that we could check in early as our room was ready.  Hot showers are wonderfully reviving so in short order we were ready to tackle Dublin.

Using our bus passes we made our way into the heart of the city and to Trinity College.  Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth, it is in the heart of the city, is still a functioning school and has the famous Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated manuscript of the 4 Gospels, there.  We saw the Book and the incredible, beautiful “Long Room” which holds over 200,000 old books.

After a quick caffeine break we continued walking, first to Grafton Street and a statue to Molly Malone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9Deeh9n-VI), the National Museum of Ireland (Natural History) which is best described as a zoo of dead animals and the National Museum of Ireland (Archelogy).  That final museum was just incredible – the building itself was built in 1890 and had beautiful mosaic floors and tiled doorways.

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We got to see the “bog” people – the extremely well preserved bodies found in the peat bogs of Ireland, some as old as from 2000BC.  (We discovered there that one of the bodies had his hair in the man bun style of today – so it’s not a new style really!). They also had free do-your-own brass rubbings.

By this time in the day though we were getting pretty tired so we bought some groceries for the next day and a huge chicken and cheese crepe to eat for dinner and we returned to Clontarf Castle (castle #1) to sleep!

The next morning, we left our castle and went to our humbler home-away-from-home, an AirBnB, stored our bags and then hopped on a train to Dalkey.  Dalkey Castle (castle #2) is in a lovely seaside town and we got a tour from costumed guides – you should have seen Kate’s face when our host swished a bit of “you rine” in his mouth to determine the humors of the blacksmith and to see if he was sick.

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Returning to Dublin, we found Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh calling us to see their art work in the National Gallery of Art!

 

 

 

 

 

But castles we came to see so next was Dublin Castle (castle #3) – where we could see the original fortifications which are now underground as well as the beautiful chapel and ornate state apartments.

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With a little more time left in the viewing day, we made our way to Christ Church Cathedral which is a massive Gothic church.

For dinner that night we had decided to splurge and go to Celtic Nights – an Irish dancing show with dinner and music.  Our dinner was fabulous and the show wonderful!  It was quite the late night for us though – the show ended at 10:30 and then we still had to walk home.  Yes, we certainly were getting our steps in on this trip!  (I averaged almost 22,000 per day!).

We still had 2 more days left in Ireland – but that will be a post for another day!

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My Daughter’s Legacy

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Women of Unfailing Conviction

Virginia, 1864

Therese Jennings cannot abide the thought of owning slaves. When her widowed mother inherits a plantation, Therese flees to Civil War Richmond, where she works as a governess by day and tends to wounded soldiers at night. But when trouble befalls her family, can she reconcile her obligations with her beliefs? And will love—whether with an old beau or a handsome new suitor—ever fit in her broken world?

Virginia, present day

Nicole Talbot’s life is back on track after years of substance abuse. Home from college for the summer, she’s finally ready to share a shocking secret, one that raises new questions about a traumatic childhood experience. But when facts she uncovers cast doubt on her family’s legacy, she must risk all that she’s gained—her fresh start, her family’s trust, and her growing relationship with a new man—to unlock the secrets of the past.

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From the Christy Award-winning team of Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould comes a thrilling tale of two women longing to follow God’s leading, make the most of second chances, and find true love at last.

 

Wow!  Third book in the cousins of the Dove series and they just keep getting better!  This one stars Nicole in present day Richmond, Virginia (she is the youngest of the 4 Talbot cousins) and Therese Jennings in Civil War Richmond.  I thought it was neat that both young women often were at the same location but over a 100-year difference in time, which not only affected the topography of the location but also their attitudes.  Once again, the authors beautifully weave a story flowing back and forth from the past to the present, often using old photographs to connect them.

I truly love this series and am only bummed knowing that this is the conclusion.  I enjoy learning different aspects of American history but also reading about different contemporary issues – as well as the wonderful romances and mystery!  In this book, the authors bring in some notable Civil War leaders, showing their humanity.  Therese finds that although the rumors were that one highly positioned wife treated people harshly, she hadn’t seen that the night she reflected on.  She reminisced that everyone, herself “included, was capable of doing good or bad.  She’d like to think that it simply came down to one’s choices, but she feared, as with Mother, that perhaps it became more complicated than that as one aged.  She sincerely hoped she’d take the moral high road and she guessed that marrying a man of principle would help her do so.”

Great book, Mindy and Leslie!  I loved it and highly, highly recommend it!  I had my bookclub read the first in the series and now many are looking forward to reading this one!  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher to help promote it. No review was required but I am freely writing one. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I also want to say I loved the previous 2 books – My Brother’s Crown and My Sister’s Prayer!  But I am highlighting this book because it technically comes out on July 1!

 

The Authors:

Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, with over a million copies sold. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. www.mindystarnsclark.com

Leslie Gould, a former magazine editor, is the author of numerous novels, including Beyond the Blue and Garden of Dreams. She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children. http://www.lesliegould.com

With You Always

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Could Following the Opportunity of a Lifetime Cost Them the Love of Their Lives?

One of the many immigrants struggling to survive in 1850s New York, Elise Neumann knows she must take action to care for her younger sisters. She finds a glimmer of hope when the New York Children’s Aid Society starts sending skilled workers to burgeoning towns out west. But the promise of the society’s orphan trains is not all that it seems.

Born into elite New York society, Thornton Quincy possesses everything except the ability to step out from his brother’s shadow. When their ailing father puts forth a unique challenge to determine who will inherit his railroad-building empire, Thornton finally sees his chance. The conditions to win? Be the first to build a sustainable community along the Illinois Central Railroad and find a suitable wife.

Thrown together against all odds, Elise and Thornton couldn’t be from more different worlds. The spark that ignites between them is undeniable, but how can they let it grow when that means forfeiting everything they’ve been working toward?

Over the years I’ve seen many stories about the orphan trains – but never one about the women who were sent from New York on those same trains to work and populate the Midwest towns. The author, Jodi Hedlund, does such a phenomenal job of bringing the past to life, with all its difficulties, in a way that just keeps me wanting to read more.

One of the many things I loved in this book was the portrayal of the young adults – they really are only teenagers having to make life changing decisions – and even though, on one hand they may seem mature, they don’t always make the wisest of decisions!  Elise Newman is a young German immigrant who came to the United States with her parents and siblings. Unfortunately, her parents died, their children became homeless, and, at the start of the book, have just found shelter in the new Seventh Street Mission. But with the economic collapse of 1857 they need to figure something else out – a way to make a living honorably, so Elise heads out west. Wealthy Thornton Quincy is building a town on the railway and needs workers and Elise is sent to his town. But what men were paid and what women were paid were very different. When Elise complains about the wages, calling it “slave labor”, and “A job that will kill me before I can pay off my debts” she is told by Quincy’s assistant that it is a job and “Any number of women out east would trade places with you in an instant if given the chance.” So how can Thornton Quincy build the town, pay fair wages and yet make the money his father expects him to?

I really loved the ending of this story – but I won’t tell it – and also the historical facts Jodi gives at the end in the author’s note – “In September of 1857, estimates of New York unemployment ran as high as forty percent. Female employment was cut by almost half. With prostitution already a main source of income for many women, the recession drove even more to taking desperate measures, and the number of women in prison rose as well.” What a difficult time to be a woman. The author’s hope is “to give readers a glimpse into the disadvantage of women during this era by showing Elise Neumann’s struggle in New York and the heartache and problems that arose after she left her family behind so that she might start a new life in the Midwest.” I think Jodi Hedlund does a remarkable job of giving that glimpse! I look forward to reading the next book as she also says she’ll “be focusing each book on a different aspect of the Orphan Train movement, particularly from the perspectives of women who experienced riding the trains in one form or another.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it! I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher to help promote it. No review was required but I am freely writing one. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:  Jody HedlundJody

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults. She is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at http://www.jodyhedlund.com.

 

Wings of the Wind

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Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman’s destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?

Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting. When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties. Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Hebrew camp, he’s unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.

In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy. But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

 

This is the first novel from this author I have read and I absolutely love her!  What a fabulous book – I loved how Connilyn, the author, increased my understanding and knowledge of the ancient Hebrews in a fascinating, can’t-put-it-down way!

I have read the story from Exodus of the Hebrews leaving Egypt, wandering 40 years before arriving in the Promised Land – but never from a Canaanite view.  Alanah is a Canaanite, who, after fighting the Hebrews and being left for dead is rescued by Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior.  To save her he must marry her – but does she want to be saved by her enemy?  This is Alanah’s story as an alien among the Hebrews.

I found this novel fascinating as it tells of a foreigner coming among the Hebrews and learning their rules and seeing everything for the first time from a new perspective.  Alanah learns of the Creator – she sees the giant cloud above the encampment.  She is not jaded to the taste of manna –

“The manna lay thick on the ground like a heavy snowfall, almost to my ankles.  I scooped up a handful and tasted it.  It exploded against my tongue like the most exquisite honey-spiced wine.”

Her mentor, a Hebrew, had a different take on the manna, “She shrugged, indifferent. ‘I’ve been eating it since I was a babe.  It’s the same today as it was yesterday and the day before that.’”

Alanah “blinked at the dichotomy.  These Hebrews ate the most mouthwatering food every single day and yet it had become mundane to them.  They had forgotten the pleasure of its taste and texture.  Bread was supplied from the heavens each day, but they were blind to the amazing miracle of it.”

I think I found a new favorite author in reading this book.  I can’t wait to read more of hers!  (This is the 3rd in the series but I haven’t read the previous 2 – I think I’ll go find them and read them now!)  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author: Connilyn Cossette

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Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There is not much she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience.

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at http://www.connilyncossette.com.

A Love So True

A Love So TrueI so enjoyed this novel and I just felt for the heroine – poor spinster Evelyn – she has no husband, she has pox marks on her face, no hope of ever having her very own children and now, she might even be losing her livelihood!  Yes, if her parents retire she would need to leave the orphanage too as a single woman could not possibly run it.  Made me so grateful to not have the some of the same societal rules they had back in the early 1900’s!  I also loved Evelyn’s large heart – she adores kids – both the orphaned ones and the societal outcast ones born to prostitutes.  But not only does she care for the children, she also cares for their mamas – the “soiled doves”, trapped in demeaning, abusive jobs with no hope of ever escaping.  Evelyn brings hope, even as she despairs ever escaping her own past.

“A Love So True” is the second book in the series but completely stands alone.  It’s a bonus to have read the previous Teaville Moral Society novel but not necessary.

I know this is a story about early 20th century Kansas, but the author also made me think about the attitudes I might have towards societal outcasts.  Would I act like some in the book and turn a blind eye or even avoid coming into contact with the outcasts or would I try to help them?  This was a great book to read yet it also made me think.  I highly recommend it!  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher to help promote it. No review was required but I am freely writing one. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

For those in the local area, the Burke Community Church Fiction bookclub will be reading one of Melissa’s books for our September meeting and Melissa has graciously agreed to chat with us via Skype for the meeting!

 

The Author:

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Much to her introverted self’s delight, Melissa Jagears hardly needs to leave her home to be a homeschooling mother and historical romance novelist. She doesn’t have to leave her house to be a housekeeper either, but she’s doubtful she meets the minimum qualifications to claim to be one in her official bio. Her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. Find her online at http://www.melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

“I stay home with my kids, and though that’s PLENTY enough to do, I decided to add homeschooling and writing novels into my schedule too! I am an English/English as a Second Language teacher by trade and still occasionally convince myself to stuff an English class into my schedule since I LOVE adult second language learners (When students are eager to learn, that’s a teacher’s dream job).

My husband and I have been married since 2001 and have a daughter and two boys. My husband loves blacksmithing, knife smithing, traditional archery, hunting, etc. Generally whatever a mountain man does, he does it or has or wants to attempt it. He comes in handy for research!”
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PS – I love this sepia photo – what a great idea!!!

Was it a dream?

Was it all a dream?? Last week my daughter Kate and I flew from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt, Germany. She is a flight attendant so our flights don’t cost much and we were ready for an ADVENTURE! And adventure we had – albeit a whirlwind one which is why now I wonder if it was just a dream!

Since we fly standby and an earlier flight to Frankfurt had been cancelled that day, we wondered if we would even make it on the flight – but we did and we even got to sit next to each other which was nice as we tried to make ourselves comfortable enough on a long trip overnight. Landing in Germany around noon, our first stop (besides the WC – otherwise known as the ladies’ room) was Hertz – time to get a rental car. I had requested the cheapest available car – but alas, they didn’t have a standard shift and gave us an automatic after we waited ½ hour. So soon we were on our way to Stuttgart – just a 3-hour drive with lots of traffic on a rainy day in a foreign country with little sleep the night before (can you see how fast I’m driving?)! But with Kate navigating and me driving we made it without problems.

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Dinner was waiting for us when we arrived at my friend Ali’s house so we were able to eat, go for a walk and finally go to sleep in a nice comfy bed! The next morning, we arose bright and early and set off for our adventure – going to POLAND! It was a long drive (in the rain – again) but fun because we chatted and chatted for hours about everything (and Ali’s daughter was happy because Kate’s IPad delivered show after show of Flea Market Flipit). IMG_5759

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At long last we arrived in Boleslawiec, Poland and the Polish Pottery shops. There was so much to see – and buy! Shop after shop! Pattern after Pattern! What did I need  – or more accurately – want! With the tiny car filling out, our bellies saying they were hungry and the stores closing, it was time to get some dinner.

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Yes, Italian food was our choice in Poland! Restauracja Giovanna 20170428_190401.jpgserved great pizza, pasta, salad and dessert! We had all of that, and fries, for just $18 for the two of us! And it was a beautiful restaurant – although the service was a little (a lot) slow!!

 

But then. We went to our home away from home – our Polish Palace. Elim Christian Center ( http://elimcenter.pl/) was established in 1992 in Lwowek Slaski, Poland. There an Australian couple bought a ruined, 450-year-old palace (it was built in 1550 by the Von Talkennberg’s) to provide a base for their ministry to the needy, the poor and the handicapped in that region of Poland. One of the women, Judy, who serves there used to be in the US Army before she (long story) eventually married a Polish man and now they and a few others run the mission and live in the palace. Anyway, we were so blessed to be able to stay there in a beautiful room with the most comfortable beds!

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20170429_081640(That’s Kate in front of our little Citroen).

The next morning I had some tea in our little breakfast nook before the others joined me for a yummy cold pizza breakfast. We then had the pleasure of getting a quick tour around the mission – seeing the dining room, the clothing room and the nativity room (they have Polish women sew 6” nativity figures with each lady sewing only the one character and then they put them all together and sell them, bringing an income to the ladies. We were able to get 2 boxes/sets of them in the car to take back to be sold at the base in Germany).20170429_081002

And then we sadly departed from our Polish Palace, returning to the pottery shops for “just one more thing!” which, without saying, turned into several quickly purchased items before we were on our merry (long) way back to Germany. 20170429_090805There we spent the night, repacked our suitcases with all our Polish pottery, made the return trip back to Frankfurt and then flew home! Okay, we had our worst moments trying to find a gas station to fill the car up once we got back to the airport and then we discovered an earlier flight had been cancelled so now our flight was totally full and we just barely made it on the plane – did I mention that we fly standby so we never really know if we’ll make it on the plane?  But we made it on the plane and every single piece of the pottery made it home safely as well!

We had such a wonderful adventure – we left on Wednesday night and were back in our own beds Sunday night. We bought pottery, spent the night in a palace, drove the autobahn and just enjoyed the adventure! Can’t wait to travel again! But such a fast adventure leaves me wondering if it really was a dream!  Except the pottery sitting on my kitchen table reminds me that it happened!

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Bread of Angels

This book isn’t coming out until June but I got the privilege of reading an advanced copy of it and I absolutely loved it!!

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Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances―along with her father’s precious dye―help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert.

Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

I confess – I was predisposed to like this book because I read the previous one – and I was not disappointed! It was phenomenal and I just absolutely loved it! It did cost me a little sleep one night because I just could not put it down!

Lydia is known in the Bible as the dealer of purple cloth who Paul meets in Philippi (Acts 16). This is her story – from her early adolescence in Thyatira to her life in Philippi. The author Tessa Afshar has done her research on Roman life and brings the ancient days to life, giving the reader a rich understanding of Biblical days but in an enjoyable, fascinating novel. She adroitly weaves in Biblical narrative, bringing so much more meaning and understanding to the events in Acts.

Bread of Angels is a sequel to Land of Silence but is a complete separate story – the characters of the previous novel are briefly woven into this story but knowledge of them is not important to the following of the story line.

“I lost everything and found God. But it wasn’t until you (Paul) came into my life and told me the Truth that I found peace.” Early in the novel Lydia faces some extreme tragedies and then finds the God of the Old Testament through a Jewish friend. But it is not until much later that she finds Christ through his messenger Paul.

I wish I could give this book more than 5 starts as it was just so wonderful! I received it from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

I’ve never posted a link to Amazon on my blog before, but the book is on sale right now as a presale on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Bread-Angels-Tessa-Afshar/dp/1496406478/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492033186&sr=8-1&keywords=Bread+of+angels

 

The Author:  Tessa Afshar71ECfis7JBL._UX250_

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel, Land of Silence, was voted by Library Journal as one of five top Christian Fiction titles of 2016, and nominated for the 2016 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Inspirational Romance.

Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category.

Her book, Harvest of Rubies, was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category.

Her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, won her “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011.

Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever.

Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She serves on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. But that has not cured her from being addicted to chocolate.