Book Tour Review. ‘Burrowed’ by Maressa Mortimer.

Burrowed, by Maressa Mortimer – fresh out this month (April 2022)

BUY HERE on https://vicarioushome.com/ or on Amazon

This must be the first time I have read an entire book in five sittings!

This gripping adventure is billed for teens and older, but as an adult I was gripped by the plot, full of intrigue, mystery and a weaving of relationships and challenges.

Set in the fictional island community of Ximiu, our heroine, Jasira, the daughter of the Governor and a budding detective, discovers a plot to undermine the island’s way of life.

Maressa Mortimer has created a world that has challenged the status quo and put women in power. Her matriarchal world has risen to the challenge of making sacrifices to create a sustainable way of life and future.

The author cleverly approaches some very topical political themes and issues: sustainability, radical green solutions, gender/power inequalities and stereotypes, democracy, exploitation, propaganda, science, genetics and over-population. Her characters grapple with the complexities of change and the practical considerations of forcefully implementing any system.

The relationships between the characters are a forum to explore issues of trust, compromise, team-work and courage, as they learn to face their own strengths and weaknesses to overcome forces larger than themselves.

I take responsibility for the thoughts that came up in myself, but I found myself making many parallels and comparisons with political issues and the contemporary world’s approach to the environmental and climate crisis.

For me, the book reminded me of many themes that disturb me about a move towards a more authoritarian political climate.

I was reflecting on human-trafficking and the exploitation of weaker communities and our pilfering of resources to serve the richest.

I considered the gender inequalities throughout the world and how male and female can have such complimentary qualities, that working together can create a harmonious world.

I saw parallels in media propaganda and the blind acceptance of rhetoric (despite the evidence and their secret resentment) and how the ‘sheeple’ often police the authoritarian agendas, believing that it is ‘all for our own good and for our future’.

I found myself considering possibilities and ways to address climate change that maybe did not involve such drastic measures and sacrifices; that perhaps need not let the ‘baby out with the bathwater’.

I saw a world where we inadvertently let ‘science’ dictate policy and let ‘green sustainability’ become the new religion, with a focus on animals and the environment at the expense of human life.

Burrowed also brings the reader on a journey of growth through choices, courage, risk, sacrifice, justice, loss, disappointment and faith.

Emotionally, I worked through the grief and anger that God does not always say Yes in answer to our prayers. Sometimes God seems far away and when we have to deal with grief, pain and injustice, it can feel like God is either unjust or uncaring. Jasira has to process her own response to disappointment and grief, but I was left with hope in the goodness of God and that, though life can sometimes be hard and grieving is dry and grey, that surely ‘this too shall pass’ and we can re-learn to trust, to love and to hope again.

Maressa reminds us that we are allowed to see the splashes of colour in the grey winter, if we refuse to pull up the pretty flowers that appear in the cracks.

Leaving Bethany

Book and Blog review of ‘Leaving Bethany’ by Susan Sutherland

I have always been curious about the relationships between Martha’s family in Bethany and Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Luke.

Personally, reflecting on the gospel account of Martha buzzing around and fretting, whilst Mary sits at Jesus’ feet (having chosen the better way), I always identified more with Martha, and in my 20’s, I took the name of Martha as my confirmation name.

The home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, attracted Jesus and has always attracted me.

When I heard about this book by Susan Sutherland, it was one I had to buy and put at the top of my pile. And I have loved it!

The author, like all good historical fiction writers, takes all that is known from Biblical, cultural and historical documents and colours it in with life and credibility. It was exquisite to explore Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives and Bethany with Martha and to get to know Mary, Lazarus, Jesus and his followers, and even some of her neighbours. I loved the ordinary beauty and details of every day life, which brings depth and personality to the life behind the scenes of the gospel accounts.

It was especially wonderful to continue Martha’s journey, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to follow her and the other disciples as persecution forced the early Church to scatter and spread throughout the neighbouring lands.

Susan’s writing is moving and thoughtful and I found myself jotting down some beautiful and thought provoking imagery, painted with her words. Such as this, immediately after the death of Lazarus, when Martha said “A thousand sensations shattered the silence.”

No wonder Jesus wept.

I cried, I laughed; I became enraged and enamoured and like Martha, I did not want to leave Bethany.

I am delighted to learn that there is also a sequel coming, so I can find out what became of Martha, her family and the other followers of the way.

Thank you Susan for bringing these beloved characters – even Jesus – to life for me in a new way.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book……

The book can be bought from Yorkshire Publishing Direct  https://www.ypdbooks.com/religious-and-spirituality/1791-leaving-bethany–YPD02537.html

Or via the author’s website page – https://leavingbethany.com/

Susan Sutherland also writes a fascinating blog in the form of ‘interviews’ between a ‘Roman journalist,’ Aemilia Metella, and female characters of the New Testament. This is a similar style of narrative non-fiction to ‘Leaving Bethany’ – where the bare-bones and spirit of all we know of factually and historically is fleshed out into a very plausible and probable narrative.

I include a link here to her latest ‘interview’ with Phoebe, who was a benefactor of Paul and delivered an important letter from Paul to the church in Rome.

Open Heaven for simple people – reblog

You must all know how much I’m leaning about prayer over the last 12 months and how amazed I am at how God hears our prayers and answers even mine!! Yes, me. He listens to me!

Dear Jennifer, at ‘Feeding on Jesus’ blog, has produced a short audio ‘devo’, as she calls it, on this subject that has captured my heart.

Please listen and be blessed with the truth in this message.

Thank you Holy Spirit for giving Jennifer this truth to share so beautifully with us.

Click on the link below and listen for 10 minutes.

Sharing a beautiful post by Vanessa

This is such a beautiful post and has blessed me immensely. I also love the story of Ruth and Naomi.

Vanessa has been so diligent producing many posts throughout advent on the names and character of God.

I’d like to share this to give my friends access to them too.

For myself, I’ve been meditating mainly on the names of the Saviour in Isaiah 9 this Christmas.

Thank you, Vanessa.

Please click on the link below.

Book Reviews/Recommendations

Earlier this year I became an official member of ACW – the Association of Christian Writers. The wonderful writers and supporters of ACW have been a part of my life for a number of years already, through a Facebook-group communication, and I have gradually made better acquaintance of a variety of talented authors. There have been a number of online events and inspiring groups, that I have availed myself of this year and slowly I am learning how things are done to support other authors.

Having already read a number of books by these wonderful writers, today I challenged myself to write, onto ‘Goodreads’, some outstanding, as in long-awaited, reviews of some of the books I have enjoyed. As I find my way around these forums and portals, I hope to include some more. Here are my brief reviews and recommendations.

The Healing, by Joy Margetts

Set in 1231, this beautiful historical novel takes one deep into the heart of a troubled, noble soldier as he journeys from despair, to find a new, unexpected life and fresh hope in old familiar landscapes. The depth of his raw pain, his recovery and healing are all delicately explored, through the rich characters that one soon comes to love. I was delighted to hear that I sequel novella was coming…

The Beloved, by Joy Margetts

I eagerly read this as an e-book, wanting to reacquaint with the beloved characters from The Healing. This historical novella is set in 1250 and explores gratitude, courtship and the difficult task of making healthy choices. It is a delightful story, that makes one wish to physically roam the unspoilt countryside of Wales too.

Stories From The Heart, by Olusola Sophia Anyanwu

I thoroughly enjoyed these 15 entertaining, captivating short stories. They are clearly written with acute observations of the lives and attitudes of young people in Nigeria in the early 1980’s. Sophia’s own experiences and humour come alive in an authentic voice of the time, filling the stories with life, love and the optimistic concerns and dreams of those emerging into adulthood.

Walled City, by Maressa Mortimer

This is an exciting, dystopian-type adventure to a city world where emotions are banned and life is closely monitored. Infiltrating Elabi and bringing love and hope seems like an impossible mission to Gax… I loved the exploration of the concepts, characters and the story, and can’t wait to read the second book, in the Elabi Chronicles, to uncover the mysteries still to be revealed.

Your Father’s World

This post ministered greatly to my heart and soul.

Feeding On Jesus

“You are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31, NIV)

“This is my Father’s world.” I recently heard Holy Spirit whisper to my heart these profound hymn lyrics as I was out and about. As I approached the main square of our city, the sky was extravagant. The Itaya River was up ahead. The beauty of the fading day rested on my senses. Holy Spirit pointed out to me how creation’s loveliness was overwhelmingly greater than the signs of poverty around the city. In spite of the bad things that happen here, this is my Father’s world.

Later, I was sitting in my rocking chair in our back yard, praying. He whispered it again. Gazing up at the soft clouds floating by, I took in His bounty. The green leaves greeted me brightly with their gentle rustling, and I received His generosity. The songbirds regaled me…

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It is Well with my Soul

Ever had an ‘ear-worm’?

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul…”

This has been mine all week and has thoroughly moved me and encouraged me.

How much we need His peace today, amidst all the change and uncertainty in the world.

As often happens, I was almost unaware of the triggers. However, after sharing Natasha’s post yesterday – “Peace like the Prince” (https://dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/2021/01/28/peace-like-the-prince/) I began to sing it again and I then made the connection. I realised I was partly so attracted to her beautiful poem, because the song and assurance of PEACE, from the Prince of Peace, had been with me through the lyrics in this ear-worm…

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul…”

The song had become my ear-worm, after listening to an amazing video of Stuart Neale at his worship altar, recorded on YouTube. Stuart reminded me of the man behind the song, who, despite suffering tremendous loss, was still able to find the peace to compose these incredible lyrics. (I detail the story and the lyrics below)

I would like to share the work of Stuart Croxford Neale, who is a wonderfully trained and experienced musician, whose heart is to express worship to the Lord. I was introduced to his music in a celebration webinar and an evening of “soaking” prayer. Later I found videos of his recordings which he does live, Saturdays at 11am (GMT) for the weekly celebration of Shabbat.

I hope his music encourages you, as it does me.

Stuart accompanied and toured with the singer Helen Shapiro, supporting her touring and recording activities. The late 90’s saw Stuart begin a deeper journey into worship music. Of special interest to Stuart is Davidic worship.

“It Is Well With My Soul” was penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss. This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first two were the death of his four-year-old son and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially. His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to England with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, to help with D. L. Moody’s upcoming evangelistic campaigns. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship sank rapidly after a collision, and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone …”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford travelled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!

Amen, Amen and Amen!!!

As my son would say – “Mum, that’s a Banger!”

PEACE LIKE THE PRINCE

I have to share this beautiful piece of writing. Thank you, Natasha and brother. 😀 Bless you both.

Sunrise Friday

It has become blatantly apparent
Evidently visible
Undoubtedly agreeable
That JESUS is the Prince of Peace

When boats were shaking and hearts were desperate
Desperate for help
Desperate for saving
He was right there with them
In the very situation were fear and panic existed, there he was with peace
There was a Prince
There was the Prince of Peace

When he was in a sticky situation with hungry people
And the people who walked with him and experienced his power doubted and fretted
He was at ease
He was peaceful
There was the Prince of peace

To think this is someone I have been forfeiting
I tried to maneuver around all the ways to find peace like a maze
But it has always been one track
His way

I didn’t actively forfeit him though but I didn’t choose him either
To forfeit the very definition of “peace is not…

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I love this amazing young lady’s story.

My 10K Wheelchair Roll for Charity — The Wheelchair Teen

When I was sixteen, I decided to undertake one of the most physically challenging feats of my life: to push myself in my wheelchair for ten kilometres to help raise money for a school in Kenya. The ten kilometres ‘Walk For Water’ is a fund-raising event that every student in my school had to participate […]

My 10K Wheelchair Roll for Charity — The Wheelchair Teen