Monthly Archives: August 2011

Book Review: The Hardest Thing To Do – by Penelope Wilcock

Book: The Hardest Thing To Do
Author: Penelope Wilcock
Publisher: Crossway
Date: July 2011
Genre: Christian historical fiction
Pages: 255
Price: $12.99, paperback
My Rating: A wonderful read! .. engaging and inspiring.

I received an ARC (advanced reading copy) from Crossway through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

The Hardest Thing To Do is the first of three sequels to the Hawk and the Dove trilogy which takes place early in the fourteenth century. I had not read any of the books before this one so I didn’t know what to expect, but I am very glad to have been given the opportunity to review it. What a wonderful read!

The story focuses on a monastery in a time of change and struggle as the monks welcome their new abbot. At the same time that his new role begins, Abbot John is faced with a troubling challenge. A man – a monk from another house – comes to them seeking refuge, a man they consider to be their enemy but who is now in dire need, his life in danger. No one trusts or even likes him and the brothers have to deal with issues of forgiveness, bitterness and trust as they take him in while deciding what to do about him in the long-term. The question that insistently stands before them is, “What would our Lord have us do?”

Penelope Wilcock presents the lives and events in the monastery through a journal style of writing. It is an easy book to read, very interesting, captivating, and pulled me in from the first page of the story. The believable characters stay on the reader’s mind as they are followed through their daily routines, their anxieties, joys, fears, and deep desire to walk with Christ. A lovely point in this is that the author had several of the monks discover things that were “the hardest thing to do” for them.

Having not read any other books in this series I am now keen on doing so. If you enjoy historical fiction, then there is a very good chance you will thoroughly enjoy this one. A review that does not give away too much of the story can hardly give the book justice, but The Hardest Thing To Do is well worth the read.

You can find The Hardest Thing To Do listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂


Crazy bag (bat?) lady!

“Do you have a bat on your wall?!”

Tuesday morning I was sitting in the shop talking with my hairdresser while waiting for my cab. Squinting, I said, “Is that a bat? or .. what is that!” He turned to look in the direction I was indicating. “I do have a bat on my wall!”

“May I have it?”

He turned and looked at me hesitantly, if not a little surprised. 

“I would like to take it home and release it at my house. I really like bats,” I explained, “and I don’t like mosquitoes. I haven’t seen a bat around all Summer.”

Satisfied with my explanation, he immediately began looking around, “What will I catch it with?” Grabbing a small towel he climbed onto the chair that was conveniently there, then reaching up he neatly and quickly covered the little brown bat with the towel. Carefully wrapping it securely, he stepped down and picked up a plastic grocery bag. After he gently placed the towel into the bag we tied off the top to be sure its contents stayed inside during its relocation journey. Then my cab pulled up.

Settling the bag carefully on my lap, I began chuckling as we drove along. clickclickclickclickclickclick 

“Do you hear that?” I asked the driver.
He looked over, “What?” His radio music was quite loud.
“Do you hear that clicking?”
He turned the radio down and listened. “Yeaaaahhh?”
“It’s a bat.”
“A what?”
“A bat. I have a little brown bat in this bag.”
“Ooookaaaaaaaaayyyy.” The look on his face was priceless.
“Does that bother you? Is it a problem?” I asked him.
“Oh, no, … it’s not a problem.” He kept glancing over at the bag.
I explained what had just occurred and that I was taking the bat home. “I think it’s a fair trade. He didn’t want the bat in his house, I want it outside mine.”

The driver agreed it seemed fair. Then the conversation began, mostly about bats. He told me that one of the cab drivers got into her vehicle one morning and there was a bat in it. He said, “As soon as she knew the bat was in her cab – she wasn’t!” We laughed.

The drive was less than twenty minutes but it didn’t take long for the bat to find its way out of the towel. He crawled around in the bag, clicking, which I believe was his sonar .. trying to find distance so that he knew it was an opening to freedom. I checked the bag to be sure I had not mistakenly been given one with a hole in it. Even though I like little brown bats I don’t think I would appreciate one crawling on me.

After the cab left my yard I took the bat-in-a-bag up onto a little hill beside my house. Setting the bag down beside the trees I untied the top, stepped back and waited. It took maybe twenty seconds for the bat to find the way out. Soon his little head popped up over the edge and with a flurry of fast little bat wings … zip! zoom! … he was gone, silently flying away between the trees.

When I told my girls about my fun experience their teasing remarks varied: ‘weird yet cool’, ‘not cool’, ‘crazy bag lady’, ‘strange’, ‘way to preserve wildlife’, ‘odd’. 🙂 I told one daughter that I enjoy doing the odd thing once in awhile. She replied, “Well, that was it then.”

And you know, she was right. That was it … for this week. 🙂

Would you believe … just as I finished writing the above my husband called to me, “There’s a bat in the house!” He had seen one flying around but lost sight of it, so we went looking. Sure enough, from the living-room he saw a little brown bat hanging upside down from the ceiling in the adjoining room. Hilarious!

I grabbed a towel … and released the little guy into our yard. Again. Could it have been the same one? 

How marvellous is that!  😉

What weird and wonderful thing have you done lately?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Do you use a pen name? Here are famous ones.

Pen names.

I got thinking about this strange name game that writers employ. Which famous writers are better known by their pen names? Why did they adopt a different name? I decided to do a search to see what fascinating things I could find out about famous writers – or rather, their famous pen names.

There are many more, but here is a list of what I found, with the pen name mentioned first:

Acton Bell was Anne Bronte
Anatole France was Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault
Andre Maurois was Emile Herzog
Angela Knight is Julie Woodcock
Anne Rice was born Howard Allen O’Brien
Ann Landers was Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer
Artemus Ward was Charles Farrar Browne
Boz was an early pen name for Charles Dickens
Clive Hamilton and N.W. Clerk were both pseudonyms C.S. Lewis used
Currer Bell was Charlotte Bronte
Dr. Seuss was Theodor Seuss Geisel
Elia was Charles Lamb
Ellery Queen was Frederic Dannav and Manfred B. Lee
Ellis Bell was Emily Bronte
Ernst Ahlgren was Victoria Benedictsson
Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen was Brian O’Nolan
GBS was George Bernard Shaw
George Eliot was Mary Ann Evans
George Sand was Amantine (also spelled Amandine) Lucile Aurore Dupin later to become Baroness Dudevant
George Orwell was actually Eric Blair
Isak Dinesen was Karen Blixen
Irwin Shaw was Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff
J. D. Robb is Nora Roberts who was born Eleanor Marie Robertson (Nora Roberts is really her first pen name)
John le Carre was David Cornwell
Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
Lemony Snicket is Daniel Handler
Lewis Carroll was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Mark Twain was Samuel Langhorne Clemens and also Sieur Louis de Conte
Mary Westmachott was Agatha Christie
Maxim Gorkey was ALex Makimov Peshlov
Moliere was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin
O. Henry was William Sydney Porter
Orion was J. K. Chesterton
Pearl Grey was Zane Grey
Poor Richard was Benjamin Franklin
Publius was a pen name for Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, when they were writing the Federalist Papers
Richard Bachman is Stephen King
Saki was H. H. Munro
Toni Morrison is Chloe Anthony Wofford
Voltanic was Francis Marie Arouet

You may not be familiar with all of the above-mentioned authors, but were any of them a surprise to you?

Why do authors use pseudonyms? Reasons I have found are varied.

  • Some writers do not want people knowing that they write in a certain genre, examples being erotica or genres commonly written by men. In the latter case they often use their initials, as in the case of J. K. Rowling.
  • Some prefer a name that better suits what they write. An example is Pearl Grey who used Zane Grey for his western writing.
  • Some, an example being Stephen King, are advised by their publishers to use an alternate name so that when they have a few titles released around the same time the public will still buy them.
  • Many women would use a man’s name because it used to be that women were not accepted as authors.  Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot, is a good example of this.
  • Some writers simply want a name that stands out better than their own.  There are other reasons, too, but these are the most popular ones.

If you were to use a pen name, have you thought about what it would be?

For what reason would you use a name that is not your own?

If you do use a pen name has it been a positive experience for you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂


Book Review: Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About – by Darren Whitehead & Jon Tyson

Book: Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About
Authors: Darren Whitehead & Jon Tyson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date: 2011
Genre: Religion
Pages: 189
Price: $15.99 US
My Rating: Inspiring, informative, encouraging for anyone seeking to be inspired, informed, encouraged in their Christian life.

I received this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

The authors, both from Australia, received a revelation new to them, that “God’s strategy for redemption on the earth was to be carried out by the church.” They were moved to prayer, relocated to the USA where “the future of the Western church is hanging in the balance”, and set into place in ministering to hearts and lives as part of that strategy. In this book, Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson share their vision in a clear and sincere, heartfelt manner. They include wonderful teachings, stories, and insights, which reveal “God’s kingdom coming to earth.”

Rumors of God is divided into ten chapters, each with a subtitle.

  1. The Sculptor’s Shop: Rumors of Abundant Life
  2. Hostages of the Mind: Rumors of Another Dream
  3. The Great Reversal: Rumors of Generosity
  4. The Faith You’ve Only Heard About: Rumors of Love
  5. Getting the Gospel in Order: Rumors of Grace
  6. Giving Up Your Rights: Rumors of Freedom
  7. The Radical Individual: Rumors of Commitment
  8. Loving Beneath the Surface: Rumors of Community
  9. The Greenroom: Rumors of Justice
  10. Our Burning Revolution: Rumors of Hope

At the back of the book is a section with questions based on each chapter, good questions to make the reader think and soul search. What could be a problem, though, is that the scriptural references they use throughout the book are mostly just noted in the back and not written out in full in the text of the book. This could prevent many from getting the full impact intended.

A comment that I was surprised to read was one written in chapter 5 about when the woman who was caught in adultery was brought to Jesus. The author said that Jesus “continued finger painting in the dust”, dismissing the seriousness of His meaningful action as a frivolous idle moment.

It was unclear to me as to whether the authors were always referring to church as being “church” – the organization under man’s leadership in works, or “Church” – the Body of Christ under the spiritual headship of God and from which relationship the works come.

There are some other things to watch out for, but Whitehead and Tyson made some excellent points and provided interesting – and surprising – stories to express their enthusiasm. It is a good read. On the whole Rumors of God is a book of encouragement to those who seek to be inspired and motivated in their faith.

You can find Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

To blog or not to blog .. is that the question?

I have not been posting to my blog as regularly as I had hoped because of family obligations, but still I try to keep at it. This past week I was thinking about writing, in particular “blogging” —

There are hundreds – no, thousands! – of blogs out there to read, thousands of blog artists sharing their thoughts, ideas, talents, rants, advice, art forms, humour …

It’s a wonderful way to share, vent, contribute, advertise, hone skills, meet people, reinvent oneself. It’s also a sure way to reveal one’s lack of skill, talent, intelligence, tact, and common sense.

Blogging is an expanding sense of community, a way to connect with others while building one’s platform – one’s identity and presence in this world, or at the very least – on the Internet.

A quote I found which also follows along nicely with my last post about laughter is by William Saroyan, a writer known for his stories celebrating the joy of living in spite of poverty. He said, “The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

For some, a driving force in life is writing, for others it is the reading of wonderful stories that stimulates their lives.

So, my questions to you are as follows:

Do you agree with William Saroyan’s advice? Or do you have another quote or word of advice to share with me?

If you have a blog, why or why not?

Why do you read other people’s blogs, what do you look for?

How has the blogging world impacted your life, or has it made much of a difference at all?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂