Friday, June 24, 2016

What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

My brother gave my sister and I a little book on Gospel. This book, What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert, is part of a series put out by Mark Dever's IX Marks ministry. Each book talks about one healthy element each church should have.

Because the Gospel has done so much in my life and grows increasingly sweeter year after year, I was eager to see what they had to say in this book.

The Book [from Goodreads]
This newest addition to the IXMarks series presents a clear, straightforward statement of the gospel, the third mark of a healthy church.

What is the gospel? It seems like a simple question, yet it has been known to incite some heated responses, even in the church. How are we to formulate a clear, biblical understanding of the gospel? Tradition, reason, and experience all leave us ultimately disappointed. If we want answers, we must turn to the Word of God.

Greg Gilbert does so in What Is the Gospel?. Beginning with Paul's systematic presentation of the gospel in Romans and moving through the sermons in Acts, Gilbert argues that the central structure of the gospel consists of four main subjects: God, man, Christ, and a response. The book carefully examines each and then explores the effects the gospel can have in individuals, churches, and the world. Both Christian and non-Christian readers will gain a clearer understanding of the gospel in this valuable resource.

My Thoughts 
One time I was talking with a friend about legend. She told me that God's redemptive, legendary work through history was so much more spectacular, so much more moving and incredible than any legend man could have possibly invented.

I had always thought of God's work as special. Saving. Powerful. But--moving and incredible? Legendary?

Then gradually, more and more of the Scriptures began to unfold. More of my sin, more of God's love, more of his work on his own behalf and his people's. I can truly say now, in the most reverent sense I could possibly mean, that God's work is legendary to me. Not comparable to human legends--but so far surpassing it in truth and beauty that anything we try to make ourselves is a pretty silly copy.

The Gospel. God is the authority. Man rebelled. God provided a solution. Man responds in acceptance or rejection.

We hurry over those words. Sometimes we linger in guilt, sometimes we yawn and rush past them as an often-heard entrance gate into salvation. I used to. Sometimes I still don't value it as I ought. But gradually, the grace of God is shaping my heart to teach me that these very concepts are the core of my existence and the center of everything I do.You cannot do anything in a fruitful way without the Gospel being the guiding focus behind it. You cannot have any worthwhile joy without Gospel joy being at the core of it.

If you feel passionate about the Gospel, then Greg Gilbert's little book What is the Gospel? will be a feast of grace. If you don't feel this way, but want to, then this book will give you clear explanations of the glorious redemption the Gospel provides to believers.

Here's what I loved about it:

First of all, Gilbert starts out by explaining what the Gospel is. The four points I included above are what he boils it down to. They're simple, graspable points that we can use to remind ourselves and also use to witness to nonbelievers. Using this book as a guide in explaining the Gospel is one of the great key benefits of reading it.

The second reminder I appreciated was what sin is. Sin isn't a bunch of scattered actions or bad emotions or discouraged feelings. Sin is a disease--a deep pollution of our very natures. God saves us from that deep, complete contamination by the full and free redemption of his Son. He gives us that righteous nature. Once we grasp the horror of our sin, it doesn't take long for the Holy Spirit to bring us to our knees in tearful awe--that God would take something completely filthy by nature and redeem it to be completely pure.

Once in BSF our teacher said, "Nothing defiling will enter heaven. Your presence will not defile heaven." It moved me deeply at the time. I know my presence defiles. I still have a sin nature, albeit redeemed, that taints so much of what I do. But through Jesus, we will no longer defile his dwelling place, feel defiled, or defile his people. That's the power of the Gospel.

Last of all, I especially enjoyed the final chapter on our response to Jesus' redemption. We find rest. We rejoice. We tell others about this good news. This Gospel will keep renewing our hearts until God calls us home. Whenever life gets overwhelming, I suspect the Gospel hasn't been at the forefront enough. And that reminder to rest in Christ's power is healing in itself.

This book will help you glory in the cross of Christ. That's the chiefest reason I could possibly give for why it would be worth reading.

I hope you too find encouragement in these life-giving truths.

Housekeeping note: I'm taking a TLC break this coming week from blogging, but be sure to come back July 5th for a fantastic article on why modern readers should care about history! You won't want to miss it! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top 9 Fictional Dishes to Try

So I don't know about you, but I have a small foodie streak in me. I get excited about food. Especially if it's something I've never tried before. Coming back from a conference last year, my honest-to-goodness favorite part was the food, especially the amazing creme brulee at the last dinner. I get excited over everything from stopping at a favorite restaurant to eating something amazing at home.

Someday I want to write a modern novel where I can cram in a lot of good food the characters get to eat.

I thought it would be fun to explore the fictional dishes I'd love to try among my current bookshelves. Some books talk a lot about food. Some barely mention it. (Am I the only one who would love to see some more amazing food in fantasy? I mean, medieval meat and bread are great, but let's get creative here!)

So here's my list of dishes I'd love to try from books:

Puny Bradshaw's cornbread. (At Home in Mitford) I'd kill to sit down at her table. (Um, not really. Metaphor for I'D REALLY LIKE TO DO IT.) Jan Karon had a proper appreciation of food in literature, and eating Puny Bradshaw's cornbread would be a dream come true.

Father Tim's ham. (At Home in Mitford) Made for every wedding--I'd gladly have him bake one for some social event I was involved in.

Esther Bolick's marmalade cake. (At Home in Mitford) Did I say Jan Karon had a proper appreciation of food in literature? That cake, when she described it straight out of the fridge, sounded just about heavenly.

Samwise Gamgee's potatoes. (The Two Towers) That famous potato line may not have been in the book, but I'd love to sit Indian-style by the fire and eat a dish of coneys and taters with Sam. (Preferably without the oliphaunts).

Candace's chicken. (Laddie: A True, Blue Story) It sounds way too good--good enough for children to snitch and carry off, all crusty and juicy. But I would never dare take Mother's piece.

Mrs. Comstock's lunches. That woman could pack a lunch box. A Girl of the Limberlost wins hands-down for the best food I have ever read about. My mouth watered over the pickles and spice cake and salads and sandwiches. I think Philip Comstock saw the light over the dinner table.

Scarlet Blaine's pie. (Chasing Jupiter) Life is not complete without reading about her peach pie. I will never taste it. Sadness.

Robin Hood's venison. (Robin Hood) It would be beyond jolly to sit around the fire, listening to tales of daring and eating deer with the lot of them. Only I shouldn't, because it's stolen deer. So it's just as well it's in a fictional book where I can't be tempted.

Ma Quiner's pancakes. (Little House in Brookfield) I ate those pancakes right along with Caroline--so fluffy and good, with the sweet syrup and butter dripping down the sides. Imagine a plate of pancakes just about now, and I defy you not to eat it.

Aunt Irene's chocolate peppermint cake. (Jane of Lantern Hill) I'm not sure it's good to eat at the table of mine enemies, but if she made a cake, then it shouldn't be left to waste.

Meat and dessert. That's pretty much the theme of this post. That's the best in life, isn't it, after all?

If you're a writer, feel free to give your character a signature dish. And don't make it boring, either! Something simple and homelike is perfect, but variety gives them that unique angle they wouldn't otherwise have had.

What food would you love to try from the books you've read?

PS. You can find lots of the titles mentioned in this post under the Book Reviews tab!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Beautiful People: June + Character Birthday

Today is a special character birthday. Ben Dorroll been my boy forever and ever, and when I saw the Beautiful People questions, and noticed the date of his birthday coincided with the day I do a blog post, I knew I had to do these for him.

Nothing says Happy Birthday like exposing an introvert's childhood secrets. *cough*

Oh, wait. This is a celebration of life. Of course he wants you to know them.

He would be 124 today, which in my mind is completely acceptable because he is immortal.

(Some of the questions he answered himself, and some I answered for him.)

Join in the Beautiful People interview yourself by answering the questions and linking up at Paper Fury!
What are their first childhood memory? 
I remember boarding the steamer to leave England when I was four. My father was on the dock as we stood at the rail, but I can't picture my brother there, so I suspect he wasn't. My father's hair was brown then instead of white. He didn't look sad. There was an angry set to his jaw, I think, but he never said goodbye to me or touched me before I left. I remember the water widening and widening between the ship and the pier. And then I remember my mother pulling me away. The hallway was carpeted and well lit, but that's where the memory stops. I wasn't told that we were leaving for good. By the time I knew, Virginia was a way of life and my father was an old memory, so I wasn't terribly sad about it.

What were their best and worst childhood experiences? 
Best: Mother went away for a weekend once, and Mrs. O'Sean (his mother's laundry lady) came and stayed with Pearlie and I. She made us good things and gave us hugs, and we didn't have anything to be afraid of. She read us a story before bed each night and woke us up every morning by sitting on the edge of our beds and running a hand over our hair. That was when I was six, the first time I really paid attention to her. Afterwards I tried to be at home every time she came to do laundry, but I didn't see her often.

Worst: He only remembered the terror of being small, keeping quiet and out of the way, the distant sounds of raised voices from [his mother] and her parents, and the quiet undercurrent of tension at dinner tables, in which he tried to remain unseen and unspoken to. There were days when he was four or five when he sat on the bed, thumping his legs against the foot board, wondering with a sad, baby kind of resignation if things would get better. The babyhood had gone away. The resignation had not.

What was their childhood home like? 
He grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and when he was very young he knew his grandparents. His grandfather gave him a set of wooden trains, and those were his favorite to play with. But after his grandparents died, he and his mother and sister moved to a smaller home and different school, and life changed. 

What’s something that scared them as child? 
Spiders, angry people, and imagining Things behind him in the dark. 

Who did they look up to most? 
His mother's laundry lady, oddly enough. Occasionally she would be ironing or washing when he got home from school, and sometimes she would look after him and talk to him. He switched to doing homework in the kitchen just so he could tell her things. She listened, and she was kind. It was she and Pearlie between them that always called him Ben, and after a while, he was more used to the nickname than his real name. 

Favourite and least favourite childhood foods? 
Favorite: Pie. Apple pie. Still is.
Least favorite: Chocolate anything. 
If they had their childhood again, would they change anything? 
Some things he wouldn't change. School was good, and time with Pearlie was good, and he found enough good memories to string together of the small variety. But some things he would change--like knowing why his father had been angry, and meeting the brother he didn't remember. 

What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious? 
Tenacious, responsible, lonely, with an incredible capacity for loving and giving, and little to no means of using it. 

What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like? 
He was a good sort of brother to his little sis. If she was afraid of something, she could tell him what it was and he would face off with whoever he needed to make sure she wasn't scared. If she wanted something so bad she told him about it, she might find it on her bed sometime later, and then all he'd want was a hug and for her to tell him how delighted she was. She could tell him all her secrets, and he was the last one she wanted to see at night before she went to sleep.

(Now I want to do a childhood edition for her.) 

What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?
He wanted to become a doctor, and that's what he became. It was the one dream he reserved for himself. Everything else could be sacrificed or altered, but he did cling to that, and he wasn't above accepting help with his education just so he could achieve it. 

And there you have it.

I won't be making elaborate celebrations today, since I have work to do, but I'll try to grab a cup of tea in honor of him if I can. Which is kind of fitting, because he doesn't like elaborate either. For him, the best kind of birthday would be someone making him apple pie, and maybe cranking ice-cream with friends, listening to them laugh and tease each other and talk about things they remembered. 

He'd probably get a phone call, asking him to come see a patient who needed treatment right away, and he'd say of course, and never breathe a word about his birthday. But I think that fact would slip around town anyway. People would be sure to write it down and remember it, and have some little remembrance ready for him to take home. It's always nicest to get a glow out of the quiet people.  

When it was late and he came back home, he would slip into bed beside his wife and listen to something very tiny and sweet stirring in the cradle in the corner. 

And for him, that would be just about perfect. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

10 Favorite Houses in Literature

So for those of you who were expecting a much different post today, I messed up my own charrie's birthday. It's on Friday, not today. If I were them, I'd go on strike for such gross neglect, but I will lure them back with promises of dreams come true. Tune in Friday for Beautiful People! 

 Houses, if they were able to talk, would have a lot of stories to tell.

Our house has stories. It has eighteen years of stories in its walls, some of which I've forgotten. Other houses have stories too. Last week, for the first time, I got to see the house my mother grew up in. I had grown up hearing about life in that small town at the parsonage, but any picture I had in my head was entirely fictional. It was pretty special to see it for real--see the window of her bedroom, see the front door with the big house numbers, and imagine all the life that had gone on between those walls.

Fictional houses can tell a lot of stories too. These top ten are favorite ones I would love to visit.

1. 221b Baker street
Someday I'm going to London to see this, but I'd love to see the fictional one even more. The letters fixed to the mantle with a jack knife....the V on the wall made of bullet holes from Sherlock's target practise (in honor of Queen Victoria) and the comfortable rooms that Mrs. Hudson let them rent all those years.

2. Viamede
The biggest vacation house in the history of ever, the Dinsmore and Travilla families went there whenever they needed a break from life or southern heat. It sounds beautiful, the grounds especially with the orange trees. I would love to spend a few months there and pretend to be rich while I was at it.

3. Pemberley 
This is one I would visit simply for the sake of its grandness. The lake and the big, spacious halls would be very cool to tour, and it would be grand fun to try out a few notes on Georgiana's pianoforte. 

4. The Stanton Home
Gene Stratton Porter describes this home with loving and painstaking detail. The parlor, the kitchen, the barn, and the outdoors all have beauty and order combined to perfection. The problem is, I'd rather visit this home and be smart enough to appreciate the various plants at the same time. I think the kitchen would be my favorite place, and the woods as well.

5. Jane Stuart's cottage
Jane's dad asks her if she knows what a house is like that has "lashings of magic" about it. Jane does, and they find such a house after the most jolly house hunt I have ever read. I would gladly sleep in the guest room at night. It would be grand fun to wake up in the morning to watch Jane slip downstairs. I could make breakfast and help her scrub the steps and plant the garden. Jane's house strikes me as a place where you can heal and be yourself. It makes me hungry for it just thinking about it.

6. The cave home in The Mysterious Island
These guys made everything. There was nothing they didn't know how to make, down to chemicals and gunpowder. Plus, who wouldn't want to visit a very cool cave home? I know I would.

7. Bag End
Bag End, with its cubby holes and old knickknacks and a pervading air of sameness about it. Stability and heritage are the words that come to mind when thinking of Bilbo's home. I would open the round door, and take a look at the Red Book, and hope to catch a glimpse of Bilbo or Frodo, quietly sitting at a desk and writing.

8. Jaeryn's House
I know this is technically cheating, since it's one of my own invention (Mental note: Schuyler honey, why is that cheating?) But I would go to Jaeryn's house hands-down. It's a combination home and clinic, and I feel as if I've lived in that place for years without ever having actually seen it. I would like to see the white blanket folded in his bottom bureau drawer, and the hall where he met a Great Threat, and the shelf in the clinic where he keeps his revolver. I'd also like to curl up on his sofa next to the fire and listen to Terry tell stories.

9. Brother Cadfael's monastery
This place feels like home to me. I'm not Catholic, but Ellis Peters does a stellar job portraying the community and ministry that take place there. Cadfael's herbarium and the guest lodge where visitors stay and the Abbot's study would be grand fun to wander through. I'd love to watch Cafael mix up his medicines and talk to him while he did it.

10. Owl's house
The Wolery will have lifelong connections to my heart. Seeing it in person would be grand, especially if I could be invisible, so I could watch the animals go about their business like usual. Seeing Pooh visit the Wolery for real would be too heartwarming to stand.

After writing this post, I'd almost like to do a companion post about how to write houses in literature. I have a passion point niggling in my brain that just doesn't fit here. So I shall file it away, and we'll see what comes.

Houses imply something. They are a source of love and comfort, a source of camaraderie, a place that hides away suffering and sin, and a place that offers healing. Not only do they supply it for the characters, but I think, in a subconscious way, they offer that hope and healing to readers as well.

What houses would you love to visit from your favorite stories? Prince Kit's castle? Cair Paravel? Green Gables? I'd love to know!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Friday, when I was a little girl, was library day.

We've always had coming of age rituals, and when we were six, the coming of age ritual was getting our library card. I still have that library card with the really shaky signature, which I try to keep hidden under the paper sleeve now that I'm older. (Somehow my signature now still looks pretty sloppy.)

I don't know how library day started exactly. My parents might remember better than I do. All I remember is stopping by a different branch than we normally went to--it was small, and I think we stopped after supper that night. There were shelves and shelves of unexplored books. I can't remember if I got any that particular visit, but I think our Friday walk ritual started up shortly thereafter.

We were young, and didn't need to do much school on Fridays, so that was always a special day. Every morning we made oatmeal for breakfast, special order. Everything from raisins to cinnamon. We loved pouring in everything we could think of. The most elaborate concoction was oatmeal with raisins, peanut butter, walnuts, and wheat bran, with milk and brown sugar on top.

Pouring that brown sugar was another ritual. We all had different ways to do it. Some of us preferred to stir it all in, but I liked to put my couple of spoonfuls over the top and stir it just a little bit--so it would be melted in little ridges of clear, golden sweetness through the oatmeal. That was only the beginning to a perfect day.

The library opened at ten. We would take our backpacks, put them in the red Rider wagon, and set off for a quarter mile walk. Wait at the light, walk past the laundromat and then--

Then enter the doors of wonder.

It didn't matter that there was a huge hill to climb on our way home (it is huge) or that the sun was hot. I crammed my navy backpack until the zipper was so tight I'm surprised it didn't burst. I checked out everything. I ordered tons of books through the library loan system. We browsed the shelves, and I picked out Little House in Brookfield while my mother helped my sister pick out books from the children's section. Sis was a wee thing at the time. She was so little my brother had to pull her up that steep hill in the red wagon on our way back. Lucky girl.

That was the library where my sister sat on a rug with other tots for story time with Miss Judy. We browsed the internet while she did it. We had dial-up internet at home, so every week I made a list of things to look up and brought my precious 250MB flashdrive to download things onto. I was really into dollhouse miniatures, and I found a website with free patterns of dollhouse-size books and things you could make out of paper. I downloaded a lot of them.

That was the library where Miss Sue would check us out and talk to my mother about shopping for fabric. Where we did summer reading programs every summer, and put our names in the window, and celebrated one year by eating pizza with other extroverted teenagers and laughing over Mad Libs.

That was the library where I ordered a cassette tape of Kidnapped, and then lost it for weeks and finally found it behind our closet door. I can't remember if they charged me or not. It was also the library where I got the autobiography of Fanny Crosby. I ordered it through loan, and it came with a sticky note that said "Patron may check out before it's discarded" or something of that nature. I asked if I could have it, and they let me. It's still sitting on my shelf today.

That was the library where I found Great Expectations on the discard shelf, and asked my mother if I could read it. I was twelve at the time. I've been in love with Dickens ever since. We also rescued the Little House books when they were discarded, and I'm pretty sure I found my first Cadfael novels there.

Sometimes we went when we shouldn't, just because it was so beloved. I remember the time we were walking down a steep hill on black ice, because today was Library Day. The idea of leaving that magic for another week was too heartbreaking to even be thought about.

I remember the deep grief in my young heart when we were too busy for Library Day. It didn't happen often. Our tradition was fairly regular. But when it happened at all, that was too much horror to be endured. I held on to Library Day tenaciously.

When we were done with our internet and choosing our books and getting the precious holds that were in, we would always walk home, chatting. And as soon as we got in the door, all sweaty and happy (or freezing cold as the case might be) I would go straight to the living-room chair, unzip my backpack, and dive in to read ahead in the books I had gotten that day. It was like checking out a portal into a whole new world.

We don't go to the library much anymore. Highschool came, and then graduation. We've aged out of all the story times and summer reading programs, and we have good internet at home. Miss Judy and Miss Sue no longer work there. My brother and I are both able to buy the books we want, instead of relying on library loans to get them. If we go, we take the car and run down quick to drop off or pick up.

But early this year, I put a couple of books on hold and went in to get them, and while I was there, I actually took a moment to browse the books on the shelves.

Something that had been asleep for a long time stirred and woke up again. I saw books I hadn't read yet--new books I wanted to read, sitting on the shelf, waiting. And I thought, I'd like to come back soon and check them out.

Perhaps it's time for another library day.

Do you have childhood memories of your library? Do you still use it often? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How Fiction Offers Soul Care

I finished reading Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter on Sunday. I'm thinking that's about my seventh or eighth time through that book ever since I picked it up from the library shelf with enamored eyes and bated breath. Freckles is one of those books I've always shelved in the soul care category of my mind. It's comforting and familiar. I've walked the trail with him, loved, fought, anguished, and conquered ever since I was a young teenager.

It got me to thinking this morning about soul care books. Soul care is the idea of a place of retreat. Of relaxation and healing. A place where, when our soul is battered and bruised, we can turn to for something to cling to and love, something to remind us of good and comfort. Something to wrap us in an embrace of hope.

I was browsing through Facebook this morning and saw a picture with the caption, "I am strong, but I am tired." That statement deeply resonated with me. We all face those times, where every fibre of energy goes into surviving--could be emotionally, physically, or spiritually, and we need that place of retreat. For me, in many ways, books have been that place of soul care. Sometimes it's only a few minutes a day, or a page before bed. But in those words and pages of something familiar, the spirit finds respite from troubling things and rests in the shadow of the Almighty.

It's the simple stories that bring soul care to me. Stories like Cinderella, which really masks deep pain under the guise of beautiful blue dresses and sweet mice, stories where a prince comes and rescues. It's in Amazing Grace, watching Wilberforce sit soaking in the fact that it is finished, and everyone's crying. It's in stories like Freckles, where the Angel meets him in the swamp and offers life and love and revolver in his defense. It's in Jane of Lantern Hill, where even though family splits exist, there are still beautiful summers of life and friendship where one can be Jane and not Victoria. It's Prester John, where adventure is met with gritted teeth and clear thinking. And it's in Tidings of Comfort and Joy, where much grief is met with much healing.

Perhaps a familiar book offers soul care because it is safe. It is finished. The end has been written. Sometimes we find ourselves in life circumstances where we desperately want to know the end of something--where we want clarity and reassurance. Reading stories that already have an end can offer comfort in the midst of that. For a moment, we are able to rest in the hands of the author, guiding us through beloved paths to a final haven of completeness. It's a mirror of our God who knows the end, and holds all things in his hands.

I think another reason why these books are soul care is simply because they're so familiar. It's like slipping on a favorite shirt or pair of earrings and feeling that familiarity.

The idea of soul care or retreat might feel strange or guilty at first. Why would you take a break from life circumstances? Why would you try to escape them? I think first of all, it is a deliberate reminder to mind and heart that good things do happen--fiction, after all, mirrors reality in that regards. We need that reminder in life. It tells us the end while we are still in the middle: that good does triumph. I think too, that the human soul was not made for constant burden. We are human, and we should not expect almighty strength from ourselves. God lets us rest under his wings when we are overwhelmed. Even youths grow weary and stumble, but they that wait on the Lord renew their strength. Just like he made the earth need cycles of rest and fallow ground, so sometimes we need to let the ground of our hearts lie fallow and rest--not trying to wrestle through a tough new book, but going back to the familiar and reassuring of a well-loved and worn volume.

Soul care, in the end, is resting in the power of God's love and ability to handle all of my life for all of his glory. It acknowledges the worship of rest as well as the worship of work. It accepts the fact that just as God has created us to need food to replenish our bodies, so he has created us to need comfort and refreshment to replenish our minds and souls.

I'm so grateful for books that can offer that, often for twenty-five cents or less.

Which books do you go to when you need to rest? :)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Summer Reading Stack

I'm almost done with my Spring reading stack (hooray! a little planning goes a long way!) so I'm looking ahead to Summer, and what I'd like to read and review on the blog here. Here's what I have on the stack so far:

Tintin in the Land of the Soviets 

Because I've never read Tintin, and I've always wanted to try a comic book. It's in the children's section at our library, so I will have to overcome my embarrassment and get it there. Or I'll just put it on hold. Probably the latter. 

The Bridezilla of Christ 

It's doesn't release until July, but it's in the mail and on it's way to me right now. Yay for review copies! 

Go Teen Writers 

I felt deeply refreshed by the writing books I read early last year, and wanted to repeat that instruction this year. While I've read and re-read sections of this book, I want to start it again and read it from beginning to end, since the advice inside is so clear and helpful. 


One of my favorite books, summer is the perfect time to curl up with Alan and Davie's adventures. I look forward to reading this book again. The part in the Highlands is always so wonderful. I made up reams of imaginary fan fiction in my head as a child, to make that part last even longer (and yes, I traveled with them, of course). 

No Man's Land

This is a novel about WW1, and it's by J.R.R. Tolkien's grandson. I'd like to at least look it up and see how he writes compared to his grandfather. There's precious little WW1 fiction out there, and if it was good, it would be dreadfully exciting. 

A Child's History of England

In the year of big books, this is the one on the summer stack. I'm only choosing one big one for summer, since it's going to go by fast. But Dickens+big book+kings of England is just the ticket. Cannot wait to get out the delightfully old red hardback that's been sitting on my shelf waiting for me. 

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert 

In the upheaval of the LGBTQ revolution in our society, Rosaria Butterfield writes some thoughts to the church as her testimony. She's a lesbian who later became a Christian and gave up that lifestyle. I think her insights would be good to have, and since my mom listened to the audio, it comes highly recommended. :) 

A Sparrow in Terezin 
The sequel to The Butterfly and the Violin, which I dearly loved, A Sparrow in Terezin sounds like the perfect Christian fiction to curl up with in the summertime. More art, a little romance, and some great history. 

History, writing, theology, comics, and how-to--that looks like a pretty grand summer to me. :) Have you read any of these books yet? What's on your to-read stack? I'd love to know! 
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