Book: Beachworth Bakery Bears

A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-book by Frank Prem

This is a delightful and easy way to step back into childhood, when teddy bears could talk and move about. These bears are supposed to sit on shelves at the Beachworth Bakery and coffee shop, politely waiting for someone to come along and adopt them, but they’d rather be exploring and having fun — as revealed in Frank’s clever rhymes.

I bought a copy a few days ago and enjoyed it myself. Now I’d like to read this e-book to my grandchildren and hope it will be coming out in a paperback before long. The photos are excellent and it would be fun to sit down and go through the book with young children and grandchildren.

Currently Reading…

WHY JESUS by Ravi Zacharias

I’m finding this book an intriguing commentary on the mixed bag of truths being offered to seekers in our day. In the first part of the book the author discusses the electronic media, its effect on society, how it’s altered society’s acceptance of truth. The media we view in our own homes has subtly exchanged the “old values” for a new truth — one that we want to believe. None of us can escape the effect of this change, he points out, because even if we aren’t viewers ourselves, we’re surrounded by others who are.

Then he examines the illusive nature of New Age Spirituality circulating in North America today. The West, because of the basic principles of freedom we subscribe to, is so willing to cast of the old and accept new religions. He notes that, in the countries where these religions have been established for centuries, nothing new or different is tolerated. New Age gurus may attack the Judo-Christian foundation of North America and people will hear them gladly, but go to one of those countries and you risk reputation or even life for even suggesting a different religion — as many Christian missionaries have discovered.

Peeking at the coming chapters, I see that he predictably concludes with “the message of Jesus Christ…both timely and timeless.” A message he himself embraced as a young intellectual, recovering in the hospital after attempting suicide. Though he knew very little of Christianity, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, if you are who you claim to be, reveal yourself to me and take me out of my desperate situation and I will leave not stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”

Books: Calm Before the Storm

Just re-released in Kindle form:

Calm Before the Storm
by Janice L Dick

Calm Before the Storm (The Storm Series Book 1) by [Janice L. Dick, The Mosaic Collection]If you enjoy historical fiction set in Europe, here’s a compelling story for you that’s well written and well researched. Exciting, at times quite tense, this is the story of a Christian family living through the turbulent times of the Russian Revolution.

In the 1700s Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, invited an number of German religious groups to move in and establish themselves in the fertile farmland of the Ukraine and they were doing well for themselves. The Russian serfs had been freed some time before this story begins, but they received no land or help from their government and had to survive however they could.

As the 1900s began, severe poverty and hunger had made the peasants desperate. The government of Tzar Nicholas was imploding, a political cyclone was stirring, and some of the Russian peasants were starting to look resentfully at the prosperous German communities around them.

The Hildebrandts were one of many families in the prosperous Mennonite communities. Heinrich, the widowed father, sixteen-year-old Katarina, the beautiful fourteen-year old Mika, her mentally unbalanced brother Peter, and the two youngest siblings Anna and Kolya (Nicholai) were enjoying the good life on a beautiful estate, scarcely touched by the winds of change until the Great War started.

Entwined with their story is the experience of Johann Sudermann, hired to tutor the younger children, enthralled by the lovely but super-efficient Mika. Though the Mennonites had been granted exemption from the army when they first settled in Russia, soon after the war begins all conscientious objectors must report to work camps. Johann and many others were sent to the medical corps to care for wounded soldiers however they could. The Russian army was so overwhelmed and under-equipped that defeat was inevitable.

We also get cameos of Johann’s childhood Russian friend, Paul Tekanin, as he goes to St Petersburg and joins the Bolsheviks in their plan to overthrow the Tzar. Excerpts from his life give readers a picture of the deplorable state of affairs in St Petersburg before the Revolution, with the mad monk Rasputin pulling the strings.

I’m impressed with how well the author has researched the historical background for this story and interweaves it with an accurate account of day-to-day life in the Mennonite community at that time. Together with the Hildebrandt family readers can experience the joys of prosperity, the fear of a looming collapse of government, the immediate effects of war, and their faith that God will bring them through, come what may.

Books, Mystery + History

I see that Sue at JibberJabber has posted this writing prompt for today: BOOKS

Oh, yes. Ask me about books! 🙂

And this afternoon some author sent an e-mail notice that there’s going to be a SALE of MYSTERY BOOKS this weekend Here’s the scoop.

Just lately I read an article about the “rules” for writing mystery books. I wish I could remember them all, but a few were:
— The victim was someone not well liked. (Which definitely makes sense. There has to be some motive.)
— The one who solves the crime, or sleuth, must be an amateur, not a regular law officer assigned to the case. (Otherwise the story falls into the category of police procedural.)
— There may be animals, but they never get hurt. And you almost never see children in a mystery story.
It doesn’t say there should be a handsome single detective handling the case, or a grouchy middle-aged not–interested-in-silly-details type, but those seem to be the police options you find in mysteries.

Another important rule I could mention is: DO THE RESEARCH!

I know, this is one of my favorite beefs. But I just read two mysteries set in England, written by American authors. Do you know where I’m going with this?

Reading the reviews on Amazon for the one book gave hubby and me a chuckle, especially the reviewer who said, “We do not put cream in our tea and a Scotsman does not have an Irish accent!” This was from a review of the first book in the Helen Lightholder  mystery series. Setting your book in 1942 rural England means a lot of research. Please don’t skimp on this.

During the war years, a young, seemingly able-bodied man in England (who could hop over a fence easily) would never have said, “Especially with this war going on, I haven’t been able to find work.” He supposedly had a heart defect that kept him out of the army, but there was employment for all. And he’d have been questioned constantly about why he wasn’t in uniform. The writer just hasn’t gotten the atmosphere in England during those years.

I got a kick out of how the detective shows Helen her aunt’s obit, then says, “I’ll get you a copy.” And he comes back a few minutes later with the copy. Ha! These young squirts who write books nowadays! (This led Hubby and me into a discussion of mimeograph machines and Gestetner copiers. Remember those?)

Another reviewer, this time of the first book in the Lacey Doyle series: “The author’s knowledge of the world and how it works is abysmal. Her knowledge of England and the English is even worse.” I have to agree.

These writers are both good at their craft, but must have thought they could wing it re: situation. Sadly, most reviewers said they weren’t going to read the next book in the series, mainly for this reason.

One story I read, set in the late 1800s was loaded with anachronisms both in behavior and in language. In one place a male character asks our single heroine, “So what do you do for work?” (What’s the chances, in that era? Women’s employment options were very limited.) And she answers, “I’m into relationships.” In 1890? Groan!

Any genre, any era. If you don’t want one- and two-star reviews, writers, please do the research. Understand the era. Or have someone read over your manuscript who does know that history or place and/or setting.

Still Learning…

This is the book of verses I published a year ago;
at present it’s only available as an e-book, but I hope to do a print version soon.
Meanwhile, I’m learning how to set up an Amazon book “block”

Though Christmas is long past, I read this book last month and thought it was terrific. One of those home and family feel-good stories about a widow who learns to accept the unusual when a stray pooch, a grouchy neighbor and a run-away granddaughter show up on her property. The routine of her life and her current plans are blown to pieces and she finds something far better.
The URL I’ve embedded in this block is for Amazon.com.