30 April 2011

Book Review: The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come by John Fox, Jr.

When I sit down to read a well-known classic, I feel like I've just been handed a gift. Many people I know have been raving about it, and I expect it to be amazing. I open the volume slowly, and when I take a deep breath of that delicious "new book smell" and turn to the first page of Chapter 1, I almost get a chill down my spine in anticipation. Most books that have been recommended to me by good friends turn out to be excellent in each and every way. But when I find an obscure, out-of-the-way book, a book that no one knows about (and the few who do dislike it)--and I love it--it's like discovering buried treasure in the most unexpected of places. 

This book is pure treasure. 

The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come
By John Fox, Jr.
*Summary taken from the back of the book

Chad Buford, an orphan from the Cumberland Mountains, is befriended by the aristocratic Maj. Calvin Buford of the Bluegrass, and begins a new life as "Chadwick Buford, Gentleman." But the Civil War intervenes, and Chad, like many other Kentuckians, faces a moral dilemma. Concluding that he is "first, last, and all time time, simply American," Chad casts his lot with the Union.

But The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come is more than the moving story of a Kentucky mountain boy who fights to save the Union. Even the Civil War itself is but an epic stage for the novel's main business--the testing and maturation of a hero as American as Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer.

I have to tell you that this book was actually hated by most of the people in my Lit/Comp class... which completely baffled me. Most complained that it was too long, or too detailed. These facts enhanced the story for me. I love historical fiction, as you well know, and details are important. Details help you SEE the characters and the scenery in your head; they set the stage for all that is to come. Characters come alive for me when I have plenty of details supplied; I drink them in eagerly. It's like a movie, only better because you can see the characters exactly as you want them, and no one delivers their lines poorly because they aren't acting: they're LIVING.

Ohh... how I love Chad. His determination and adult-like character from a young age really make his personality appeal to me. From the start of the book, he determines to "ack like a man," and continues to do so throughout the story, following not the crowd but his own moral conscience. He relies on God and what he thinks is His will for his life. That, my friends, is a character trait to be highly valued and one not common enough in our world.

Growing up, I always was taught (not by my parents, mind you--for some reason, we've never learned a whole lot of history on the War Between the States. We always were a Revolutionary War family, which I think is partly due to the fact that both Momma and Daddy are from Pennsylvania. :) that the Union was good, the Confederates were bad, and the War Between the States was all about slaves. The South was cruel and mean to their slaves, and the North was the kind friend who came in and rescued aforementioned abused slaves. The slaves hated their masters, but were forced into submission by angry overseers who had remarkable capability with a whip. No one in the North owned slaves or had anything to do with such a horrid practice, and they were all proud of their fighting boys who were off defeating those rascals who treated their fellow man like property. I think this worldview came partly from an improper understanding of the American Girl Addy books. :(

TLSoKC is a good book, in my mind, because it displays the War Between the States as it was: brother against brother. No one side was completely right in their beliefs. And yes, the North did own slaves! Even if they physically didn't have a slave on their land, they still profited from the selling and trading of slaves. And the South was not all bad, either. There were not very many plantation-owners in the South--it was just that the few who DID have plantations had very, very large ones and were extremely wealthy and powerful people. As I said before, there wasn't a "good" side and a "bad" side. Truly, there was nothing civil about the Civil War. 

Chad and Melissa and Margaret... the ever-despised love triangle, hated by all because one person is always bound to be left out. :( I love Melissa. I love her boldness and her bravery, her strength and determination. And I absolutely love how she loves Chad with a pure and beautiful love (I think I beat the record for how many times you can use the word "love" in a sentence :). "And what of Margaret?" you ask. *sigh* She... I do not like. Her haughty manner and flirtatious habits do not improve her character in my eyes. Margaret certainly improves by the end of the book, and if it weren't for dear Melissa, I would find her bearable. But Chad loves Margaret, despite the fact that she does not love him... yet. Who will he choose: the mountain lass or the Southern belle? Read the book and find out. :)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. 
I recommend this book for ages 13+, because of some described violence in battle scenes.

A BIT O' READING FOR THE DAY

"And as for Melissa, while she ruled him like a queen and Chad paid sturdy and uncomplaining homage, she would have scratched out the eyes of one of her own brothers had he dared to lay a finger on the boy. For Chad had God's own gift--to win love from all but enemies and nothing but respect and fear from them." ~The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, chapter IV

28 April 2011

A Poem for the Day

This poem by Rudyard Kipling is to be our next piece to memorize as a family, since we have now fully imprinted The Declaration of Independence in our minds and are ready to move on to a new bit of work. Daddy instructed all of us to sit 'round the kitchen table together yesterday and read the poem aloud, trying to dig deeper and think--really THINK--what the author was trying to convey. We came up with some very interesting and thought-provoking results, and I hope you do as well.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings
By Rudyard Kipling

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! 

Care to share what you think the author might be trying to say? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

24 April 2011

He is Risen, Indeed!


After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

~Matthew 28:1-10

I would attempt to be eloquent in this post. I would try and try to make my words look good, to make them flow. I would tell of all that this day was years ago and all it should mean to you. But all that would be nothing but a weak attempt to bring glory to ME. And to whom does the glory belong?

It belongs to Him.

And that's why, on this beautiful Easter morn, I have no words but this:

Thank You, Jesus.

You sacrificed Your life and saved me from sin and death.

Thank You, Jesus.

Without You, I am nothing.

Thank You, Jesus.

You guide me every day, helping me to see Your plan for my life.

Thank You, Jesus.

You rose on this third day... for ME. 

Thank You, Jesus.

You love me, a sinner, one not worthy of your love.

Thank You, Jesus.

22 April 2011

Good Friday



"He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." ~Isaiah 53:5

Let us not forget the sacrifice our Lord made for us today, giving His only Son to save us from our sins: the greatest example of true love the world has ever known.

19 April 2011

My Regency Gown ~ Part III

I've taken far too long getting around to posting these photos, so I don't think I shall waste much time in introducing them. You've all waited long enough, and I hate to make you wait any longer than is necessary.

So, without further ado, I present to you, my patient readers... photos of my regency gown!

(These pictures are not watermarked, due to lack of time. Please do not steal. Thank you.)


(Yours truly *wink*)


(sleeve detail)


(And finally, Bree and I. And yes, I did change the coloring to sepia to make it seem "old-fashioned". :)

After all this time and work leading up to the grand event, I ask you now... what do you think?

15 April 2011

Unsinkable: April - May 2011 Giveaway

This month's giveaway is up on Unsinkable! Click here to check it out. And while you're at it, following wouldn't be a bad idea either... :)

12 April 2011

Practically Unsinkable

Last July, I introduced to you all the book I was writing, then titled Peril on the Sea. Many months have passed since then, and much has changed over the course of those months. My book's title changed from Peril on the Sea to Violets Are Blue. And you ladies have all been such wonderful support. You have prayed for me when I most needed your prayers, and you have cheered me on in times of great joy. It has been a difficult time, but an altogether wonderful experience. 

There are still a few things to be done, and of course the road to publication will not be an easy one, but still: For the most part, the real work is done. And now it's time to celebrate. 

Which is why I am introducing to you now an event that has been forming in my mind (and my sister's) ever since January. An event that will last a whole year. 

This event is called Unsinkable

On April 14th, 2012, it will be the 100 year anniversary since the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. Besides celebrating the progress my book has made and hopeful publication, this event will also commemorate the many souls who died on that terrible night. Hosted by Bree and myself, Unsinkable will consist of monthly giveaways relating to the Titanic or a main theme from my book (i.e. letter writing, friendship), excerpts from VAB, 100 random facts about the Titanic to be posted throughout the course of the year on the Unsinkable blog (the blog design is not installed yet, and so the Unsinkable blog is still private. It will hopefully be up by tomorrow, and then I will post the link), and guest posts by different ladies on topics relating to the Edwardian era. 

It would be dishonest if I did not say how VERY excited I am about this event. We've planned and plotted for hours, and I'm sure all of you ladies will be very much excited when you see what we have in store for the next year. 

The first giveaway will be up on the 14th. Care to join me? Then hop on board! There are no icebergs in sight. :)

10 April 2011

Sunday Blessings


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(disclaimer: not my photo)

The LORD is my shepherd;
         I shall not want.
 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
         He leads me beside the still waters.
 He restores my soul;
         He leads me in the paths of righteousness
         For His name’s sake.
       
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
         I will fear no evil;
         For You are with me;
         Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
       
 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
         You anoint my head with oil;
         My cup runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
         All the days of my life;
         And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
         Forever.

~Psalm 23

I hope you all had a blessed Sunday, ladies!

08 April 2011

Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Although I have several book reviews that are sitting in my Drafts waiting for their turn to be published, I decided to go ahead and review OT before too long, seeing how I just finished it yesterday. I like to review books as soon as possible after I finish reading them, when the story and my thoughts are still fresh in my mind. Plus, this is a great book, so, as is my nature, I was extremely eager to tell you all about it. :)

Oliver Twist
By Charles Dickens
*Summary taken from the back of the book

Dickens had already achieved renown with The Pickwick Papers. With Oliver Twist, his reputation was enhanced and strengthened. The novel contains many classic Dickensian themes--grinding poverty, desperation, fear, temptation, and the eventual triumpth of good in the face of great adversity.

Oliver Twist features some of the author's most enduring characters, such as Oliver himself (who dared to ask for more), the tyrannical Bumble, the diabolical Fagin, the menacing Bill Sikes, Nancy, and 'the Artful Dodger.'

For any reader wishing to delve into the works of the great Victorian literary colossus, Oliver Twist is, without a doubt, an essential title.

Keep in mind, before you read this book, that this is a tale in which thieves, housebreakers, and... *ahem* not-so-respectable women play a large part. So there is quite some violence and swearing for which to look out. Also, it's extremely sad. If any books make me cry, they are books in which little children are mistreated. The treatment of the orphans and paupers in this book is horrible--I could barely stand reading it.  Some find the combination of these two facts to be enough to keep them from reading the book, but I wouldn't suggest that. It is still an excellent book--a classic, mind you--and one you should read.

Oliver's personality is so precious. Anyone who knows me in person knows that I love little children. I sometimes prefer their company to that of girls and boys my age. When anyone needs someone to hold their baby or watch their toddler, I'm the one who offers--it's just who I am. Oftentimes I've been told that I am extremely "matronly" because of this fact. :) So it's no surprise that I fell in love with Oliver. If any sinner on this earth were capable of being innocent, he would be--to the very letter. Even when he was forced into company with thieves and other bad characters, he didn't let them corrupt his character. Even when Oliver was being forced to rob a house by Bill Sikes, he determined to warn the inhabitants, knowing full well that he could lose his life because of this--that's how determined he is to do what's right. Wondering how that incident turned out? Read the book. :)

Before you head to your local library to check out OT, I should give you fair warning: Charles Dickens does have a habit of being a bit wordy. Being that this book was first published in installments in a magazine, and that Mr. Dickens was paid by the word, he obviously attempted to include as many words in each chapter and description as he possibly could. There are a few parts that you can scan a bit and not really miss any part of the story. I had read the Great Illustrated Classics version years ago, so this helped me to understand the story better. Perhaps the language and detail would be harder if I did not know the story quite so well. You decide. :)

And then there's... Nancy. Out of all the disreputable characters, she is the only one who seems to be regretful of her behavior. My heart breaks when I read about her, for I love her dearly. The way she cares for Oliver as if she was his mother is so sweet. And she wants so badly to change her ways, to be forgiven, redeemed. But she doesn't think that's possible--she feels as if she's fallen too far. Her character contrasts so much with that of Rose Maylie's. I almost don't know who I like better. Rose is so good and kind and sweet, and Nancy isn't, but she wants to be. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 
I recommend this book for ages 12+, because of the difficult language and the sometimes violent scenes. 

When you take a generous old gentleman, a murderous housebreaker, conniving thieves, a kind and motherly housekeeper, a sweet young lady, and a poor orphan boy who only wants a home and a family of his own, what do you have? A wonderful tale that I think each of you should read.

A BIT O' READING FOR THE DAY

"The persons on whom I have bestowed my dearest love, lie deep in their graves; but, although the happiness and delight of my life lie buried there too, I have not made a coffin of my heart, and sealed it up, forever, on my best affections. Deep affliction has but strengthened and refined them." ~Oliver Twist

Blessings on your day, ladies!

04 April 2011

Wise Words of Wisdom From the Wife of One President and the Mother of Another



Abigail Adams. As my titles indicates, she was the only woman to be the wife of one president and the mother of another. Her gift with words and her steadfastedness in times of great emotional strain make her one of my greatest role models. 

Here are a few of her quotes that I like. Enjoy!

"Great necessities call out great virtues."

"I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe."

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence."

"I've always felt that a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic."

"A little of what you call frippery is very necessary towards looking like the rest of the world."

"I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and like the grave, cries, 'Give, give.'"


P.S. And yes, regency gown pictures will be coming ASAP. :)

01 April 2011

My Regency Gown ~ Part II

I'm back, ladies. And I'm back for real this time. The English country dance was last night and it was a blast! The dances were pretty simple, and not everyone was in costume, but we all came in what we had and had fun anyway, which is really much better than getting competitive over who has the best costume. I received many sweet compliments on my gown, as did my sister, all thanks to my momma, who sewed the majority of it. *blushes* I helped, but because she has so much more sewing experience than I do, she ended up doing the majority of the sewing. But it was a great learning experience. :)

And now for the long-awaited photos!

(Keep in mind that I wrote the *below* last Saturday, and it has been in my Drafts, waiting to be published, since then.)

Sewing has been going well lately. We finished my short stays on Thursday, bought the fabric for my regency gown on Friday (oh-so-lovely sapphire blue satin!), and I am going to cut it out and sew quite a bit tomorrow. We have until Thursday (eek!) to finish, but I don't think it should take too long. 

Although I really finished my chemise last July, I failed to post pictures of it before now. :( So, you shall see photos of both my chemise AND my short stays in this post. And perhaps even a sneek peek of the fabric used for my regency gown... :)


(my chemise)


(neckline drawstring)


(sleeve)


 (short stays)


(I must say, I am quite proud of my stitching on the holes for the drawstring--that was quite fun, and it turned out much better than I expected it to! :)


(short stay sleeve/strap)


(finally, my regency gown... er, that is, my regency gown FABRIC.)

Unfortunately, that's all for tonight, ladies. I really must get to bed, especially since I was up until 11 P.M. last night, and then had to wake up at 5:45 A.M to take Daddy to the airport. :( Goodnight! 
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