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text 2016-12-27 17:30
Top 10 Reads of 2016
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - Eric Metaxas
Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors - Conn Iggulden
The Heretic - Henry Vyner-Brooks
How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life - Ruth Goodman
The Colour of Poison: A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery (Volume 1) - Toni Mount
The Imp of Eye (Renaissance Sojourner Series Book 1) - Kristin Gleeson,Moonyeen Blakey
A Rule Against Murder - Louise Penny
Scythe - Neal Shusterman
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson
Salt to the Sea - Ruta Sepetys

I may have rated a few other books just as highly as these, but when I look through the 100 books that I read this year these are the ones that give me pause. Each of these books surprised me, challenged my way of thinking, uplifted me, or were extraordinarily memorable in their own way. It may seem easy to choose a top 10 for the year, but I am thankful that I've read so many fantastic books that this was a challenging task. To make it easier, I did not count re-reads (Pillars of the Earth) or books in the same series (Bloodline by Conn Iggulden).


I'm looking forward to another great year of reading in 2017! 

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text 2016-08-31 21:11
August Reading Roundup
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - Eric Metaxas
Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII - Linda Porter
Jane the Quene (The Seymour Saga) (Volume 1) - Janet A. Wertman
Thunderstruck - Erik Larson
Jasper: Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy - Tony Riches
The Hangman's Daughter - Lee Chadeayne,Oliver Pötzsch
The Northern Queen - Kelly Evans
The Heretics of De'Ath (The Chronicles of Brother Hermitage Book 1) - Howard of Warwick

Not a bad month of reading for August. Especially Bonhoeffer. Amazing book. Inspiring person. I didn't write a review of this book, but I have thought about some aspect of it every day since I finished it & have ordered Cost of Discipleship.


The Hangman's Daughter was a fun group read for More Historical than Fiction

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text 2016-08-31 16:23
How We Write Clergy
(originally published by Elsa Cook on her blogPUBLISHED ON August 24, 2016

I am a character in a book.

I learned of this news from a Facebook message. A member of the community had written a book and he wanted to know if it was alright to name the church in the book. That wasn’t my call anymore. I was no longer the pastor there, except that I was in the book.


While I was still in ministry in that place, I had had coffee with Ned Hayes many times. He was someone who came to worship on occasion. It was always clear to me that he was seeking something. He was incredibly well read. He’d read all kinds of theology and had even gone to seminary but there was still something he was looking for. I did not know in the middle of writing another book and that I would end up being a character. Of course, I said yes. By all means, print it. Publish it! I can’t wait to read how those cups of coffee and mornings in church translate into a character like Pastor Ilsa.


See what he did there? He changed the name by one letter. No doubt he was trying to avoid the connection to Disney’s Frozen that I cannot quite escape. Smart move. I borrowed a copy from my goddaughter and started to read at the pool.




Eagle Tree is the story of a boy growing up in Olympia. He is a boy that is somewhere on the spectrum of autism and it is his voice that leads the reader through the journey of saving this tree in the LBA Woods. When I lived in Olympia, there were signs all over town to save this particular park. This is the fictional story of how that park is saved from the hands of developers by this boy named March who sometimes goes to church at the United Churches of Olympia. Church is a confusing place for March. It is a place where the pastor tells strange stories that are true, but not factually true.


This is how Pastor Ilsa is introduced. His mother drags him to church and March offers this narration:

Ilsa says she likes to talk about God because she cannot
entirely understand God, but that is not how I feel at all.
I need to understand things all the way down to the root


Though Ned denies it, this could have been a note he jotted down while we were having coffee. This is totally something I would say. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I did say something exactly like this. There are, however, other things that don’t line up about me. It is fiction, after all. Pastor Ilsa is married to a professor at the local college by the name of Pierre. His name sounds equally exotic to my husband’s name but their careers are totally different. Ilsa was also a botanist before she came into ministry. There was some kind of accident that shifted her focus. Again, this is not me but makes for a good character. Most surprising to me: Ilsa is old. He husband has grey in his beard. This is not a young pastor.


For this, I am admittedly sad. Clergy are so often imagined to be sage and wise because of their many years. It somehow makes them approachable.


I’m not complaining. Not exactly. I’m just interested in how we write clergy. I’m interested in how clergy are portrayed in the media. Consider AMC’s Preacher for example. This is nothing like the pastor that Ned Hayes writes.


Ned portrays someone far less of a bad ass, though she is a police chaplain which I thought was pretty cool. Maybe because Ned isn’t worried about ratings or sensationalism that television seems to require or maybe because he sees that there is something that good that does happen in church. And he thinks that clergy are a part of that.


The pastor he writes is approachable and caring. She has an incredible bond with March. She is able to get on his level and welcome him as a full child of God. I can only pray that I do this every day in my ministry, then and now. It is really what I hope not just for clergy but for all Christians.


Ultimately, this is not a book about Christians or even clergy. It’s a book about connections. It’s a book about how we relate to each other and how we relate to the world around us. No matter what separates and divides, we can come together to do good. We can change the world around us. We can make a difference.


I am not in the least bit surprised that this is Ned’s heart or that he still sometimes worships with this brave group of people in Olympia that shares the same hope.


Source: cookingwithelsa.org/2016/08/24/how-we-write-clergy
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text 2016-08-01 14:17
August TBR
The Sunne in Splendour - Sharon Kay Penman
The Northern Queen - Kelly Evans
The Hangman's Daughter - Lee Chadeayne,Oliver Pötzsch
Jane the Quene (The Seymour Saga) (Volume 1) - Janet A. Wertman
Edward VI: The Lost King of England - Chris Skidmore
Thunderstruck - Erik Larson
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - Eric Metaxas
The Heretics of De'Ath (Chronicles of Brother Hermitage) - Howard of Warwick
Jasper - Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy - Tony Riches

Another month, another crazy TBR.


Jasper and Thunderstruck are already in progress, so I should get through those two!


Sunne in Splendour is a re-read that I am excited about. My local book club has been making selections based on the members' favorite books, and this month is mine. Yay!


The Hangman's Daughter is the selection for More Historical than Fiction, so join us in reading and discussing this. Last month's book, Colour of Poison, was awesome.


What are you excited about reading in August?

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review 2016-01-22 20:23
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - Eric Metaxas,Timothy Keller

In a word: magnificent. From his early beginnings in Berlin to his maturing into a true man of God, this stunning work shows Bonhoeffer's strength to stand and face, head-on, the evil of an emerging Nazi regime led by a relatively unknown foreigner, one Adolf Hitler. In spite of Hitler's persuasion of the German Church to adopt Nazi theology, Bonhoeffer remains steadfast in his commitment and his continual message of the Word of God as opposition to this growing evil. Amazingly, Bonhoeffer never wavered even as he was captured and eventually executed for his part in various assassination conspiracies against Hitler, even garnering the admiration of his executioners as a man "who was hardly ever seen so entirely submissive to the will of God". This is quite possibly the most important book I have ever read, and I was continually stunned and surprised at how much of this book applies to our situation in this country today. The similarities are eerie.

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