What’s in a Name?

I was reading a book the other day, Follow the Cloud (a very interesting book, in case you were wondering), and I came across a story that really struck me. The author of the book was sitting in his car with his young daughter. This little girl had her favorite doll with her in the car, a doll that she covetously called “Isabelle”. Now the author, deciding to tease his daughter, turned and asked his daughter how “Samantha” was doing. Of course, the daughter quickly corrected him. “Isabelle” was not going to be called the wrong name on her watch. Again though, the author called the doll “Samantha”. The same correction was given him. The author probably should have learned his lesson by that point, but he hadn’t. The “Samantha” word was spoken once more and the little daughter’s pot boiled over. “Daddy, her name is not Samantha, its Isabelle. She is my doll. She belongs to me, and only I get to say who she is. Her name is Isabelle!”

The author drew a parallel between his daughter’s refusing to let anyone but herself name her doll and God naming or defining us. That story and parallel struck me in a profound way.

See, so often we see something we don’t like about our lives and adjectives fly into our minds that degrade us. We find ourselves on paths we don’t like and we define ourselves by our struggles. I know it because I do it…all the time. This story helped me realize though that when I think about myself like that I’m not just offending and hurting myself, I’m offending and hurting God, because I belong to him.

I don’t belong to myself; I belong to God, and I want to give what belongs to God back to God. I want to throw away all the names and adjectives I’ve wrongly used to define myself and I’d like to invite you to do the same. Write it down and then destroy the list, kneel down and speak it out loud or think it silently, in whatever way you want to, just do it. Find somewhere quiet and secluded so you can concentrate and pray. Then think of any adjectives you’ve used to define yourself. As you remember them, say them, or write them, reject them. one. by. one. Hand them to God so he can discard of them as he pleases. Then pray to him to help you let HIM define you, to let HIM describe you.

You are not your own to name. You are his. You belong to him. Only HE can define and name you. And in case you were wondering, he doesn’t call you “disobedient”, “failure”, “ugly”, “not good enough”, or any other adjective you’ve ever used in a hard moment, he calls youBELOVED”.

Carpe veritatem!

Therese May Signature

Check out my review of “Follow the Cloud” here!

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Review: Anne of the Island

Anne of the Island
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those timeless books that always has a new relevant message for you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this book because I’ve lost count. I read it so much as a girl and loved it dearly.

It’s been a few years since I last read it, and this time through I realized just how much Anne formed my own childhood. Anne made mistakes (pretty bad ones too!), she struggled, she loved, she lost. She has something in common with almost every young girl. And yet, she is an example for every young girl. She grew up to be such a faithful, honest, virtuous girl. She studied hard. She sought after her dreams and kept pushing toward them even when it was hard. She made great friends, offering them kindness, understanding, and love. Though she disliked people, she didn’t really speak harshly about them to others. In fact, she was the one who so often made excuses for people’s bad habits or behavior. She gave them the benefit of the doubt. Anne was a queen of grace and elegance, yet she was a queen who would tramp about the forests among the bugs and the heat to enjoy what nature had to share. She saw beauty in everything around her and had such a wonderful sense of optimism and joy. She truly is such a wonderful rolemodel.

The one thing I find her the best role model in though (at least this read through) is her journey to finding with whom she belonged. We all have dreams of what our “Mr. Right” will be like. We all have dreams of what love will be like. Anne shows us that sometimes “Mr. Right” isn’t who we imagined he’d be, and sometimes love isn’t as high and pompous as we dreamed. Sometimes “Mr. Right” is simply our good friend. Sometimes love is just a simple, yet oh-so-beautiful way of life, if we’d only take the time to see it that way.

This world has so much to tell us about “love”. About how it “should” be and how it shouldn’t be. About how it should feel, how the “right one” should look, and on and on. Books like this one remind us that what the world is talking about is often our dream. It’s a Roy Gardner with dashing dark hair, beautiful eyes, and romantic phrases. But when it comes down to it, love isn’t about dreams, it’s about realities. Dreams say Anne marries Roy. Dreams say Gilbert dies of “love” or lives into old age pining away. Dreams say that looks and feelings are what make love. Reality says that love is finding your best friend, someone you can’t live without. Reality says that Anne may have to face never marrying
Gilbert because she thought the dream of Roy was the reality of love. Dreams make the realities that we have beautiful, Anne taught us that well in the way she looked at every day things, but she also taught us that it is the reality that offers us the chance of dreams, not the dreams that offer us chances at reality. We can’t mix up order of the two.

Honestly, I think there are certain books that belong in a home in which girls reside and this series is one of them. It truly teaches them and gives them gentle advice about how to live and live well.

Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

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Review: A Viscount’s Proposal

A Viscount's Proposal
A Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this book is now vying for top place in my list of Melanie Dickerson favorites. It was very well written and had a lot of suspense.

Mrs. Dickerson does such a wonderful job of giving characters real backgrounds and reasons for acting the way they do. Lord Withinghall doesn’t like Leorah Langdon at first because he has a fear of energetic, boisterous, pretty women. Why? Because his father fell into temptation with one (I won’t say because of one since I am sure that he probably had a bad mindset before he met this woman and wasn’t simply seduced by her). In other words, the Viscount is afraid of following in his father’s path in any way and so he stays away from what his boyish mind had found to blame when he the event occurred: the pretty, energetic woman. So he hides and suppresses his own feelings and expects others to suppress their own so that all might stay away from temptation…wrong mindset here.

That’s where Leorah Langdon comes into the picture. I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything she said, with everything she stood for. At times I thought she might resemble a certain Elizabeth Bennet, but at other times I found her too modern and entirely too opinionated for her time. While I enjoyed the banter back and forth between Leorah and the Viscount, at times I felt it was overdone. I found myself almost cringing at what they said to each other.

That said, I did still thoroughly enjoy this book. As always, I loved how Mrs. Dickerson switched back and forth between the third person “personal” view points. It just makes the story so much more entertaining to get to see things from both main characters’ point of view.

Lastly, the romance! I was very impressed and happy with how Mrs. Dickerson handled the romance in this novel. I felt the characters acted mature and not simply controlled by their feelings. I felt that they truly cared for each other. I felt that the kisses mentioned were not ones thrown away for the feeling of pleasure, but ones given in love and with care.

There are some more mature themes in the book (adultery in various forms etc.) so I would recommend this book for older teens.

Rating (# out of 5):
Violence: 3.5 (Lord Withinghall’s coach driver was killed in an accident that overturned his carriage, broke his leg, and cut a bleeding gash in his forehead. He is shot at multiples times in an attempt to kill him. A man burning with revenge tries to jump toward him and strangle him. Leorah breaks her wrist falling off her horse.)
Romance: 3.5 (The lower rating is simply as a warning about the more mature themes of adultery. I would give it a four in every other point.)
Language: 5 (None that I can remember)

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Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth

A Stranger at Fellsworth
A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mrs. Ladd has done it again! …and in the very best way possible.

Delightful. It’s the word I could use over and over again to describe this book. I keep forgetting how much I enjoyed Mrs. Ladd’s book A Lady at Willowgrove Hall; it reminded me so much of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South, mostly the movie). I am glad in a way I forgot though, because it made reading this book all the more delightful (I am sorry, but that word is probably going to show up again and again).

Annabelle’s story was solid. The fear, the rejection, the reasons she fled, all were sound and believable. The plot was incredible in my opinion. I enjoyed every moment of this book. There were a few times I wasn’t so sure about reasoning behind certain things though. For instance, the poaching. I know poaching is bad and it was made clear that people could make money by doing it, but I was confused as to why Mr. Bartrell was doing it. I thought he was pretty well off. On top of that, I wasn’t convinced that poaching could bring in a sum large enough to be of significance to men of fortune. I had assumed that poaching was something that only those not used to a high income would use to gain more money. I think this could have simply been fixed by mention of what amounts of money they might have been making. Or even just mention that it was helping rid them of their debts, which would imply that they were making a considerable amount of money through poaching. Regardless, the story was still delightful though I didn’t quite understand this point. Truth be told, that may be only my impression.

The characters and character development was truly grand. I loved getting to know Annabelle and Owen and Hannah. In fact, I have rarely met characters I enjoyed getting to know as I did these. I absolutely loved how Annabelle and Owen spent the majority of their time together in the novel speaking on “normal” terms. Meaning, they seemed to form a friendship and act as friends for almost the entire book, rather than form a romance and act as two people in love. This is one of those books that simply made me smile. I truly felt that Owen loved Annabelle for who she was, not for her looks, not for her money. I saw their relationship as one that would last, since it was founded on a mutual denial of self for the sake of the other. I applaud Mrs. Ladd for writing such a praiseworthy story with such role model characters!

A truly delightful story for mid-teens and up.

This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All comments here stated are completely my own.

Ratings (# out of 5):
Violence: 4 (They spoke of hanging as a punishment for poaching.)
Romance: 3.5 (Mr. Bartrell was a little too comfortable at one point bursting Annabelle’s personal bubble, but nothing untoward happened. Her brother did wind up hitting her while he was drunk because she was running away from home. These are the reasons I would most suggest this book for older teens. There was kissing towards the end of the novel, but I think it was approached and presented in a good light. It was not overly dramatic or described in depth.)
Language: 5 (I cannot recall any ill-use of language)

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Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

Review: The Austen Escape

The Austen Escape
The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers*

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. At the beginning I was confused by the plot. I wasn’t sure what Golightly was and why it meant so much to Mary. I didn’t quite understand the whole thing with Nathan either, especially since they seemed to be heading in different directions from the beginning of the story.

I have to say though, that the longer I read, the more I understood. And, of course, the more I enjoyed the story. For those of you who liked Shannon Hale’s Austenland, this is a similar book…just without a couple more mature scenes. While this is a cleaner novel, I still would only suggest it to older teens as it does deal with abuse (neglect not physical) and the mental affects stemming from the abuse.

I haven’t enjoyed a book like this in quite a while. I loved how the some of the characters spoke about Austen with such familiarity while others were rather clueless. I loved the engineering aspect Mary brought in with how she thought and saw things. I loved the musical aspect with the piano. (Also, Bosendorfers… ) I loved how the characters spent time doing normal every day things together (even though they were pretending to be characters from Austen in Austen’s time). I loved how the issues brought up in the story were resolved in the end. All the misunderstandings with Nathan, Isabel, and with Mary herself.

There were a few things that didn’t wrap up very well. I was really confused by Mary’s reaction to Nathan discussing work with Craig. She’s in love with him judging by the way she was acting only 10 minutes before, but the moment she hears him talking to Craig and mentioning her name she concludes she must be getting fired. Why? Not really sure…unless it was just her insecurity about Karen not liking her. But then she refuses to listen to anything Nathan has to say and books a flight home to America without telling him…she doesn’t even ask him what the call was about? Doesn’t give him time to explain? Quits her job? Albeit, all this confusion and hubbub draws the conclusion out very nicely, but I really questioned the reasons the confusion and hubbub were caused. That’s really my “con” though.

This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and comments here expressed are entirely my own.

Ratings (# out of 5):
Violence: 4 (not physical violence but neglect)
Romance: 4 (There was kissing, but not a ridiculous amount and not mentioned in detail. Also, I applaud the writer for having the couple talk and spend time together before a kiss is ever given…meaning the first kiss was towards the end of the book)
Language: 5 (I don’t remember any language)

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Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature