Book Review: Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! this book by Elizabeth Camden.

Into the Whirlwind is definitely a whirlwind book.

The book takes us through the tumult the Great Chicago Fire and the aftermath.  We meet two people, Mollie Knox and Zach Kazmerak.  Mollie is the owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company.  Zach is the lawyer and main procurer for a large department store.  They know each other on a purely business level but we begin to understand that Zach is more than a little interested in Mollie.

Zach’s employers wants to make a deal with Mollie to buy her watch company.  This includes all papers, watch designs, parts…everything.  Mollie does not understand everything and is a bit overwhelmed by Zach and his speed of doing business.  Mollie is a plodder.  She needs to view a situation, make calculations and then decide on what the most favorable outcome will be.   But some unfinished business between her father and the owner of the department store brings about a large share of mistrust and miscommunication between Zach and Mollie.

Will the two of them ever be able to come to an agreement or will there always be mistrust between them?  Will Mollie ever get her watch company back up and running after being destroyed physically and spiritually by the Great Chicago Fire?  You have to read to find out.

I really enjoyed this story and it truly sucked me in.  I liked the development of the characters and the pacing.  Mollie Knox is someone I can relate to and she is likable.  I understand her feeling of being overwhelmed running a business and trying to keep it afloat.  There is an isolation in that no one, but a fellow business owner can understand.  So many people depend on you!

I fell in love with Zach Kazmerak.  He is street smart, business savvy and a bit ruthless.  But under that polished exterior lays a poet who wants love but can never get it unless he compromises his loyalty to his boss.  And it’s his loyalty as well as his unflagging strength that pulled me to him.  I have always been a sucker for a hidden poet…whose easy on the eyes and who also knows the importance of a long days work.

I really felt for Mollie and Zach.  I think part of that reason it intrigued me and sucked me in is that I can relate to the whole fire experience.  We had our own little fire in our town almost a year ago and so I can totally commiserate with the whole thing albeit on a much smaller scale.

Character development, plot line and story pacing are wonderful.  There is plenty of descriptive writing and enough history woven on the pages that you actually feel like you could be reading a first hand experience of what happened to many folks during those awful 36 hours and the subsequent aftermath.

If you like reading a little bit of history melded with a wonderful love story and hard-working folks then Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden is a great start.

I was sent this book by Bethany House Publishers and I am not required to give it a good review but I did because I liked it.

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Book Review: With This Kiss-Part Three by Eloisa James

Oh My!, gentle reader.

The ending of this novella is fabulous.  I absolutely loved it!  There is not much more than I can say, other than…I wished it were a full length novel.

Now, I am going to share with you some fun!

Eloise James has a Facebook page where you can connect with other readers.  The group I joined was specifically for With This Kiss.  And we had so much fun, not only discussing and dissecting this novella, but other Eloisa James books.

The other nice thing about her FB page is that she posted “in-between” the chapters specifically for this novella so we could read what was happening between key characters.  That made it so much more interesting.  AND Eloisa actually pops in and visits, answers questions and gets involved.

HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?!  (Insert little girl squeal!)  🙂

I cannot wait to read more stories based on characters from this novella including a much maligned twin sister; a broken-hearted betrothed, and children with wicked senses of humor!  Does that not sound fabulous?

Happy reading, Gentle Reader!

The Lord’s Prayer Revisited

I sometimes have a challenge going to sleep at night.  My mind races.  My heart quickens and I start to slide into worry.  I have learned that breathing helps…counting backward from 300 by 3’s helps…but nothing works as well as when I contemplate The Lord’s Prayer.  Last night, as I tried to get my mind to rest…these were the thoughts I was thinking before I fell asleep.  I hope, gentle reader…that you enjoy my ramblings…and next time you say the Lords Prayer, you contemplate the commitment you are making.  God’s Blessing Be on you today…and every day!

“Our Father…”

He is Our Father.  He is my father.  He is the father of all.  Wait.  He is My Father.  HE is MY Father?  Wait.  HE IS MY FATHER!  I have a heavenly inheritance from the MOST HIGH GOD.  He says He formed me in my mother’s womb.  He knew me (HE KNEW ME?!) before I was born.  He knows the plans He has for me.  And His plans, are so much greater than what I know…or can even imagine for myself.  And He is MY Father.  He loves me.  He made me fearfully and wonderfully!  What an amazing inheritance!  I am a child of the Most High God.  Hallelujah!

“For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. [14] I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. [12] Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. [13] You will see me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

“Who Art in Heaven…”

Your resting place, Your home is in heaven.  It is more than what I can see or even imagine.  And You have promised me a room in Your heavenly kingdom.  This is part of my inheritance!  Amen!

“He said:

“[3]Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  [4]Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  [5]Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.  [6]Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  [7]Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  [8]Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  [9]Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  [10]Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5: 3-10 (NIV)

“Hallowed be Thy Name…”

Your name is SO powerful.  You are “El Shaddai” God Almighty, “Elohim” Creator, “Jehovah Jirah” God will Provide, “Jehovah Rapha” God who Heals, “Abba” Father.  Your name is to be revered and meant as blessing, a praising, not a curse.  Never to be taken in a funny or distasteful or ugly way.  Father God, I ask that You forgive me for ever thinking that Your name was just something to say.  It is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!  I call upon you in times of strife and abundance and I thank You all the days of my life…because I woke up this morning.  I have a family.  We are healthy and happy.  Thank You Father God for this wonderful crazy plan You have for me.

“Thy Kingdom Come…”

I am waiting.  I want to be there.  I will be there.  But Lord, You know my fickle heart.  I want to see my children grow old.  I want to hold my grandchildren.  Can You please make that happen?  Can You be so kind as to grant us, Your ungrateful children, some more time?  I cannot promise that we will be better as humans.  In fact, You know the spiritual warfare everyone on earth is facing…but we are fighting.  With Your word, and Your love and Your Spirit…we are fighting the good fight.  We love You, Father God.

“Thy Will be Done…”

Your will is so plain.  You gave us Your son, Yourself…and told us how to behave.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. [40] All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

“On Earth as it is in Heaven”

What would happen if, we as humans, behaved like our angelic hosts in heaven?  From what I have read…from folks who have gone to heaven and then returned…there is only Love.  There is only music and light.  There is no illness, no anger, no fear.  Just pure love and light.  We CAN emulate that here on earth.  We could if we wanted to.  How difficult would it be to be nice and courteous?  Oh, but our flesh is weak.  And so we sow seeds of discontent and allow others to sow those seeds in our lives.  Let’s be thankful.  Let’s be grateful.  That we can inherit the kingdom of heaven.  I can imagine what Eden was like…Heaven on Earth.  No death, no sin, no envy or anger or fear.  We had it here…and we, lowly humans that we are, decided to throw it away.  Sigh.

“Give Us This Day…”

Every single day is new.  You created this beautiful world for me and mine.  And every single day is a blessing, a covenant.  It holds something NEW every single day.  How great You are, Father God.  You make beauty from ashes.  And You gave this all to us.  Thank You for waking this morning.  Thank You for the breath that fills my body, unimpeded.  Thank You that live in this nation, on this earth.  How can I serve You better, Lord?  How can I be what You want me to be?  Show me…speak to me…

“Our Daily Bread…”

You word.  Every single day.  Write it on our hearts.  And in our minds.  You already have.  That was the new covenant that You made with us.  Instead of being written on stone and being unattainable, Your wrote it on our hearts and want to have a personal relationship with us.  Thank You.  We just need to take the effort to pick up the scripture and make it a daily habit.  Like drinking coffee which wakes my body up, Your word is a precious balm to my world-weary, heart sore, soul.

“And Forgive Us our Trespasses”

You have promised to forgive us.  When Your Son, Jesus, died upon the cross and then was resurrected…it was your covenant with us that our sins would be forgiven.  Oh, Lord…I am so unworthy of that great love.  How great Your love for us, that held your Son upon that lonely tree.  How great the gift!  How great the Love!  That He would DIE for even me. (Lyrics-How Great the Love)

“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. [9] He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. [10] All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. [11] For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.” Psalm 25: 8-11 (NIV)

“As We Forgive those Who Trespass Against Us”

We are commanded to forgive others because is we cannot give those folks the grace that our Good Lord showed us…then we are lost.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [15] But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)

He forgives our iniquity, our greed, our slovenly behavior, our lust…all those things that the flesh fights against.  Confess with your mouth and you will be forgiven.  Turn away from the sin…and you will be forgiven.  He is so good to us and we do not deserve his graciousness.

“And Lead Us Not into Temptation”

Would the Lord, our Father God lead us into temptation?  This could be argued, I suppose…since God did make us.  He gave us the ability to have free will.  I do not think he intended for us to be tempted…but there is the great tempter, Lucifer, who wants us to be less than him.  Remember, gentle reader…we were given free will, while the Angels in heaven were not.  How jealous and angry do you think some of the Angels were when they found this out?  Pretty mad I would say.  And now, thanks to the devil…we have sin.  We have all these things.  And he still wants us to turn our backs against God.  By telling us lies…by making us believe there is no God…when ALL of creation (and ironically, even the devil himself was formed by God) was formed by God’s own hands.  You ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THE SUM OF YOUR PARTS, dear one.  And Father God, He wants all of you!  Take your ugly to Him.  He, who heals…who loves…who forgives.  He wants You!

“But Deliver Us from Evil, Amen.”

Thank You, Father God.  From keeping us from despair.  For giving us life and hope and light.  You are amazing and I am so grateful that you believe in us lowly humans.  We can never do enough for you.  And the worst thing would be to be separated from you forever and ever.  I know my place is in heaven.  I know I have a room in Your magnificent palace.  A home…a heavenly home.  Filled with love, and joy and light.  Thank You.

Speak to My Heart

I want to hear God speak to my heart.  I want Him to tell me where I am supposed to go and what I am supposed to do.  Screw free will.  Just tell me so I can follow the path that is pleasing to You, oh Lord.  It’s a bit lazy and self serving…but I get tired of getting it wrong and starting all over again.  I don’t know if you can relate, gentle reader…but this lady would like some reassurance that what she is doing is right.

Isn’t it funny that we go through half our lives pleasing only ourselves and not caring about what other’s think…but when we finally come to the realization…or we just come to the end of ourselves and hit rock bottom…it’s then that we find our true saving Grace…and His name is Jesus.

When I think about the Love God had for me I can become overwhelmed.  My poor fellow church goers probably thought I was having an anxiety attack during Good Friday services because I was so overcome.  I mean, snot flowing, crying-snorting-overcome.  Not pretty to say the least.  It is so extremely gratifying to know that God loved me so much, He sent His son to be Sin, so that I may be forgiven.  Jesus became a sacrifice for you and for me.  His blood was shed so no other sacrifices needed to be made to atone for our sins to God.  Amazing!  What an incredible gift.

Still…I want God to speak to my heart.  Tell me where He wants me to be.  And it is such a selfish want and need.  Tell God the desires of your heart and He will provide.  I know this is true.  I longed to get back into ice skating…and He provided an amazing opportunity for me to be able to get back on the ice, with a new pair of skates no less…and it was marvelous.  I look forward with anticipation to the winter months (even when it’s -9 outside and even colder in the rink) when I can once again glide across the frozen water.  Heaven!

My heart and mind cries out.  How may I serve You, oh Lord?  How can I help bring about Your Glory and Grace.  And I can hear Him…speaking into that still small place in my heart…and He says…Be Still Child, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

So Thank You, Father God.  I know You are my heavenly Father.  You guide my steps and light my path.  You are the author and the finisher.  I will praise You all the days of my life.  Hallelujah and Amen!

Peace be with you, brothers and sisters.  May the light of our Lord and Savior shine upon you today and give you divine inspiration, intervention, inclination…whatever your need may be today.  I pray our Heavenly Father speaks into your heart and lets loose your dream.  I ask for this in Jesus name, Amen.