Sunday, 17 December 2017

Advent: Pilgrims and Promises



O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

---

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:13-16 (NASB)

---

Advent is longing; for a home we long for but have never seen, for a place we travel to from birth to death.
But what is home? 
Is it this skin we inhabit, this land we lay claim to, this earth we war over?
Or is home where our hearts reside, nowhere but everywhere, in spaces of love and family, friends and kin--whether by blood or spirit, flesh or soul; this nebulous feeling of safety and familiarity and rightness.
And we long, because this is not our home. This is our not yet, the yet to come, the yesterdays for our tomorrows and we know--oh how well we know--that we are pilgrims passing through.

This world is not our home.
There are promises yet to come.

Keep safe the paths that lead us yet to home.

---

Sebaliknya, mereka merindukan sebuah negeri yang lebih baik, iaitu negeri yang di syurga. Itulah sebabnya Allah tidak malu apabila mereka menyebut Dia sebagai Allah mereka, kerana Allah sudah menyediakan sebuah kota untuk mereka.
Ibrani 11:16 (Alkitab Berita Baik)

---

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

#bookreview: The Tethered World | Heather LL FitzGerald

The Tethered World (The Tethered World Chronicles, #1)The Tethered World by Heather L.L. FitzGerald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

TLDR: The Tethered World probably works better for younger audiences. I'd put it at the younger younger end of YA, maybe even MG, even if the main character is sixteen.
--OR--
One of those books where first person POV just doesn't work for me.

---

Sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen wakes up early one morning to discover that her parents are missing. When Great Aunt Jules turns up at their doorstep, she learns something even worse: they've been kidnapped by the not-so-fictional creatures her mother has been studying. Which all seems legit crazy, but she soon finds out it's not when she's sent into the Tethered World to rescue them along with her three of her younger siblings--the twins, Brady and Brock, and Sophie.

FitzGerald has created a colourful world where Gnomes, Dwarves, Leprechauns, Trolls, Ogres and Nephilim live in a secret underworld that's tethered to our own--accessible by dragon, of course, because how else would you get there? Sadie and her siblings are in for a great adventure as they try to save their parents as well as their long-lost great-aunt. They fight trolls and ogres, get tricked by mischievous leprechauns, get soothed by motherly dwarfs and yelled at by soldierly ones, and learn to rely on and work with each other.

The Christian content isn't overly smothering; it's presented as a fact of life. The Larcens and the denizens of the Tethered World (at least the good ones) believe in God, so they tend to pray when things get bad, or when they're in need of help. The Tethered World itself is presented as a sort of New Eden, after the first one was closed off after the Fall (hence, the Nephilim). I don't have any opinions, good or bad, about the theology behind that.

Unfortunately, I didn't really connect that well with Sadie, which is probably the main cause of my ultimate meh-ness about the book, since she is the main protagonist and it is her point of view. On the surface, she seems like a very real 16YO. She tries her best to lead and guide her siblings, but she's also selfish and afraid and somewhat distracted by handsome princes. She's definitely in over her head and it shows, even if that showing comes up in her berating herself for her failures, both real and perceived.

I guess I also get the feeling that the author is trying a little too hard. There are copious snarky jokes, often with a book or movie reference, and whilst I can get the occasional need to compare this fantastic world with Narnia (and the like), it gets a little too much. It just seems a little... dated? (DO kids talk about Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Three Musketeers, Indiana Jones, and Peter Pan nowadays? Hi-Ho Silver? And that much John Wayne? Planet of the Apes I can forgive-there have been recent remakes.) I guess it just seems a bit too over done and maybe a bit forced. (Or maybe that's a quirk of how homeschooled Americans speak, I wouldn't know.)

Still, The Tethered World is overall a pretty interesting read, suitable for younger audiences looking for adventure and fun.

Note: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Monday, 11 December 2017

#musicmonday: Jealous Kind | Jars of Clay



One hundred other lovers, more, one hundred other altars
If I should slow my pace and finally subject me to grace
And love that shames the wise, betrays the heart's deceit and lies
And breaks the back of foolish pride

You know I've been unfaithful
Lovers in lines
While you're turning over tables
With the rage of a jealous kind
I chose the gallows to the aisle
Thought that love would never find
Hanging ropes will never keep you
And your love of a jealous kind
Love of a jealous kind

---

Slow.
Slow your pace.
Subject yourself to grace.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Advent: Look, your Light has come



O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

---

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you.
Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Isaiah 60:1-3

---

Yet it's hard to remember the light in the midst of the night, when the walls press in around you and the darkness closes in.
It's hard to remember to come up to breathe. It's hard to remember that there are things other than what holds you down. That there are other things, good things. Beautiful things.

That there is rest.
That you will rise.
That there is more than this.

Because your light is coming -
Behold, your Light has come. 

---

Bangkitlah, dan bersinarlah, hai Yerusalam, 
kerana cahaya penyelamatanmu sudah datang;
Tuhan menyinari engkau dengan kemuliaan-Nya
Yesaya 60:1

---

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Friday, 8 December 2017

#fridayflash: Beneath the Rumbling Earth excerpt... and a Cover Reveal!


Mica had always loved the Painted Hall. In the dark, cold year he spent in the castle, when everyone assumed he was the heir, the Painted Hall had been his only solace. It was the only place in the North where he could be with the sea and the creatures he loved, even if they were not real; even if they were just two-dimensional drawings on a cold wall, he was with them. In spirit. When his grandfather's spirit had been released and the Yuki-Onna disappeared, Mica feared the enchantment would wipe away all evidence of the sea from the Castle of Winter. He was glad it hadn’t.

Now, with Hono’s strange words lingering in his thoughts, he entered the hall cautiously. It was as he left it eleven months ago. There was the Kraken in the deep, tentacles outstretched. The whale swum ponderously at eye-level, dark and heavy. The deserted ship still rocked in the storm. In his father’s time, there had been people—his mother’s unlucky suitors—but they’d disappeared from the walls when the curse broke. He hoped they’d been returned to their lives and to their families, but no one knew for sure. Far above, the dolphins leapt, half out of the water, as if aiming for the sun. Mica’s hand hovered over the mural.

“You are here.”

Mica snatched his hand away. “Who is speaking?”

“Us. The monsters on your wall.”

Mica stared at the great whale before him, for no reason other than it was the easiest to look at. “Who said you are monsters?”

“Does not this realm consider us monsters from the deep?”

“This realm, maybe, but not mine. You are my friends.” He paused. “You have not spoken to me before. Who gave you the power of speech?”

A chuckle filled the air. “Did you not know that this castle is enchanted?”

“But Grandfather—”

“Is dead. He has left, yes. And who remains to keep us at bay?”

Who? Mica gulped. “Hono, Flame of the North.”

“Hah. She is too young. She has not grown into her powers.”

“The Steward, then.”

“The former prince is old and weak. His powers wane.”

“My mother will fight you.”

“Ah, Hana, Blossom of the Snow, the Ever Young. She has no more power here. The crown has passed from her hands.”

“Father—”

“Danis of the Sun and Sea has never ruled over us. He conquered the Yuki-Onna and broke her curse, yes. But he was not our enemy.”

Mica stared the whale in the eye. “What do you want of me?”

“Nothing. Nothing but our freedom.”

“How?”

“Come to us, son of the Sun and Snow. Fall into our embrace. Dive deep. You’ve heard your father’s stories, have you not? About how the paintings in this hall came alive for him?”

“Yes,” Mica replied cautiously.

“We give you the chance now to do the same. Come and join us. Dive into the deep waters you crave...”

---

I'm figuring out a new way to publish my stories now that Pronoun is going away. While I do that, here's the cover for Beneath the Rumbling Earth!


It's the third in the North Series and will be online sometime this month! Promise!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

#bookreview: The Silenced Tale by @scifrey

The Silenced Tale (The Accidental Turn, #3)The Silenced Tale by J.M. Frey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All good things come in threes and the Accidental Turn trilogy is no different. Whilst I loved The Forgotten Tale, after reading The Silenced Tale I have to admit that it did suffer slightly from the second-book slump—though only in comparison. The Untold Tale was absolutely brilliant in how Lucy pokes at the fantasy novel from within the novel, and The Forgotten Tale continues in that tradition, but The Silenced Tale takes it into a whole different plane.

In this third book, the focal point moves from Forsyth Turn & Lucy Piper in Hain to concentrate on the creator of the Hain itself—the self-important, misogynistic white man, Elgar Reed. Can a work of fantasy truly stand alone from its creator? How much does the writer’s world view and experiences colour the work itself? How does the fandom that grows around a work affect it? What makes something canon? Is it the intention of the writer or how the fans interpret it?

Magic isn’t supposed to exist in the real world, but somehow it’s leaking through from Hain. And Elgar is being hounded by a stalker who just might be tapping into it. Elgar hopes the stalker is a mere mortal, but if he isn’t, the only way to stop it might be to write an end to it. Only, Elgar can’t. He can’t write anything else about Hain, knowing as he does that the people in it are real. That his choices as writer have affected their lives in very real and hurtful ways. He’s learning, though. He’s learning to be better, to be respectful, to stop hurting people for the sake of the plot, to stop taking people for granted, to stop being racist and sexist in his writing—though he still lapses in real life.

Fandom isn’t as pretty and gushing as it appears to be. Yes, it’s magic and it’s creative and it pushes the boundaries in a million different ways. But there are disgruntled fans out there who believe that the only way to settle differences is through violence. And that punching up to the man may sometimes need to get bloody. Frey explores thoughtfully the world of fantasy cons and fan fiction, digs into representation and intention, argues through fetishization and tropes, doubling back to stab at the patriarchy and white men again and again in various ways—We exist for ourselves and we’re worth it is the message Frey is repeating over and over again, whether you’re talking about the portrayal of women, POC or LGBT (and probably various others I glossed over) in fiction.

In a way, it’s a difficult book to get through. There’s anger and hurt to work through, there’s fear and sorrow and a harrowing scene that made me want to cry, and then there’s that whole bittersweet ending; the finality of parting countered by a sense of reunion, the regret of an unchangeable past amidst a bright hope for tomorrow. In the vernacular of our times, when we’ve lost all ability to word: ALL THE FEELS.

Note: A special shout out to J.M. Frey who let me read a super early copy of this book and leave comments!

View all my reviews

Monday, 4 December 2017

#musicmonday: Every Season | Nichole Nordeman



For some reason I thought it was Bethany Dillon and spent a long time searching fruitlessly until I decided to just google the lyrics I remembered.

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Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars 
And early in July, a celebration 
For freedom that is ours 

And I notice you in children's games 
In those who watch them from the shade 
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder 
You are summer 

And even when the trees have just surrendered 
To the harvest time 
Forfeiting their leaves in late September 
And sending us inside 

Still I notice you when change begins 
And I am braced for colder winds 
I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come 
You are autumn 

And everything in time and under Heaven 
Finally falls asleep 
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation 
Shivers underneath 

And still I notice you when branches crack 
And in my breath on frosted glass 
Even now in death, you open doors for life to enter 
You are winter 

And everything that's new has bravely surfaced 
Teaching us to breathe 
And what was frozen through is newly purposed 
Turning all things green 

So it is with You and how You make me new 
With every season's change 
And so it will be as You are re-creating me 
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

---

Because it is time. 
The seasons have turned, the year is ending.
The King is coming. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Advent: You who are Israel, He comes



O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

---

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, no willingly, but because of Him who subject it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Romans 8:18-25 (NASB)

---

But Israel is an idea, an ideal.
It is not a state-
Neither political nor of being.
God contended.
Jacob wrestled.
And Israel walked away in both triumph and defeat
For who can say who won or who lost?

And you who believe, you are Israel, who mourns for a world broken, an earth that groans for the coming of its King.
You are Israel, who longs for the things unseen, who hopes for the redemption to come, who knows that this is not enough.

This life is not enough.
This body is not enough.
This faith is not enough.

You are Israel, who lives the struggle, and survives in the inbetween; between the death and the resurrection, in the valley of the shadow of death, looking up to the hills for the promised hope.
The promised Son.

He comes.

---

Bukan sahaja alam semesta yang merintih, tetapi kita juga merintih dalam batin. Kita yang sudah menerima Roh Allah sebagain kurnia Allah yang pertama, pun masih menunggu masanya Allah menjadikan kita anak-anak-Nya dan membebaskan diri kita seluruhnya.
Roma 8:23 (Alkitab Berita Baik)


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Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel