Little flames whisk the smell of apple cider into the air and I breath a sigh of rest. Relax. Autumn.
So ready for orange and red and berries and crunchy leaves underfoot.
So ready for dark mornings, early arriving evenings,  crisp playful winds with hints of rain.
So ready for clouds racing across the heavens, shivers sending me for sweaters, flames flickering consuming bonfires.
So ready for pumpkin everything, holidays gleaming, homes filled with yummy smells.
It might be August, hot and still. It might be almost two more months before real fall is here, but I’m ready. Oh so ready.
Autumn: my favorite season.

All The War Books (Deanna just skip this post): The Warrior, On Combat, Helmet for my Pillow, Dead Six


The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War

By Frances Richey

A short book of poignant poems written by mother who’s son has gone to war. I found this book to be very unique and heartfelt. While I’m not anti-war myself, and while my mother took a very God-centered approach to my brother joining the military, it was still touchingly beautiful to read of a mother’s heartache. Isn’t this the great beauty to books? Sharing in the experiences of others which are unlike our own?


On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace

By Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen

I read this book for two reasons: 1) Because I love warrior stories and was interested in expanding my understanding of warriors. 2) Research for the warrior stories I’m writing.
As research, this book might be a bit dense, in that I found I couldn’t incorporate fully everything I had learned about what a warrior endures in the style of books that I write at one time. But, since I write warrior stories, I’m sure I’ll use everything I gleaned. If you’re just looking for a basic introduction to warriors than pick and choose your chapters.

I found this book to be very informative, interesting, heart-felt, and a great way for a citizen to understand and support the warriors in their community.

The chapters aren’t long, aren’t full of psychological terminology and thus incomprehensible, and aren’t boring. Everything here is interesting, challenging, and has enriched my life. I’m glad I read it.

Two things, I had a hard time with Grossman blaming much of the violence in our society on video games and violent movies even though he says that kids who are disciplined either by parents or who participate in organized sports and are taught discipline don’t tend to react the same way to the violence as kids who are undisciplined. I felt like his argument pointed to the need for strong families more than the need for getting rid of action films. I must admit, I skipped the last half of the chapter on violent games and movies.
I also think there is an inherent flaw in his sheepdog/sheep analogy. While I strongly sympathize with it, I think it leaves open a great pride in the sheepdog and, humans being humans, a situation of abuse by the sheepdogs. It is very easy if you’re a sheepdog to look down on the sheep as weak and dumb and then only a short step from that to bulling the sheep. I think his illustration works better if you have a shepherd in charge of the sheep and the sheepdog to make sure everything is kept working properly. Obviously, I’m seeing this from a Christian World view with the idea of Christ as our shepherd. I also know from personal experience that it is very easy for the sheepdog to turn on and devour the very sheep it was supposed to protect.

Other than those two things, great book.

Rated PG-13: subject is battle and it’s effects on people. Can strongly influence readers to want to be warriors.


Helmet for My Pillow

By Robert Leckie

What a beautiful and well written memoir from WWII. I found Leckie’s style to be very intelligent, insightful and touching. I stumbled on this book after watching the Pacific. Honestly, I thought the Pacific did a horrible job with Leckie. They made him far more morose than he came across in the book. In the book he was a trouble maker, a fighter, a fellow brothers in arms and a Marine. I found the same thing in With the Old Breed. These guys were Marines and proud of it. In the movie, I felt like both Leckie and Sledge were painted one-dimensionally and with too much modern “sensibility”. Band of Brothers found beauty in battle within the brotherhood and all the guys who kept coming back and who stuck together after the war. In that, they may have been rare. You don’t see as many men reuniting year after year as you do the 101st Airborne. But, when you read Helmet for my Pillow and With the Old Breed, you get the same sense of brotherhood and I think it short changed these guys heroics in the field to not show that better. They also didn’t show the pride these men had in being Marines.

Like many other’s of it’s kind, this book doesn’t focus much on the battles, but on what happened between the battles. When I first started reading WWII memoirs I found this trait to be very frustration. “Tell me about the battles, man!” I kept thinking. But know, I find it very fitting, humbling, and authentic. I don’t know why those men would want to think about the battles and their point of view on them is probably very snap shorted out. The times between the battles was what they want to tell about. And, it’s not like there is no description of the battles, they just aren’t played out in full Hollywood detail.

I found it very interesting that Leckie mentioned a couple of times that America sent it’s boys off to war with no war songs and how demoralizing that was. Very interesting insight.

All in all, a must for any and all.

I’d say age range is late high school, just due to some adult themes.

Rated PG-13: Not nearly as graphic as The Pacific. War and Adult Situations.


Dead Six (Dead Six #1)

By Larry Correa and Mike Kupari

It took me a while to get into this book. Granted, I was listening to it on audio book at a time when I could only listen a few minutes a week, so it wasn’t like I was getting to really soak in this book.
But still, the first 2/3 of the book were good but not great. The last third was awesome and well worth the wait.

The story is fairly predictable: two enemies duke it out until they realize they are fighting the same enemy and then they team up at the end and everything works out great.

If you enjoy action flicks you’re pretty used to the repackaging and retelling of these types of stores. They’ve been told and told and retold since before the Vikings and they’re as good now with guns and terrorists as they were in dragon ships and shield walls, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers. Just good stories.

As always, Correa doesn’t hold back on the violence and the guns. He also doesn’t hold back on the fun and had me giggling at times and sad at times. His books are my favorite “weekend” reads.

Rated R: Language and Violence with some Adult Situations hinted at.

The Perfect Day

Can you look back on your life and think of a perfect day? Many girls answer with their wedding day. I can’t. I still get stressed out about my wedding and it was almost 13 years ago. I could say any of the days on which one of my nieces or nephews entered the world. I could say any of the seven days of our cruise. I could say any of the four years I lived on a dirt road out in the country and spent the days biking, hiking, and generally having old-fashioned fun with my friends. I could say time spent with cousins. I could say the days I finished one of my novels. I could say any number of Christmases or snowy days. But most of these are happy moments, not perfect days.

There is one day in my life that I think of as perfect or blessed. It may seem strange, but it is the day I watched a saint go be with the Lord. I was there at the moment of my friend’s passing. I was there, surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters, when he went to meet Christ face to face. I will never forget the days leading up to his passing, the great love his church family showed him, the hymns sung, the prayers said, and the scripture read.

I will never forget the great peace the moment he died. His suffering was over. I think how strange we must have all looked to the staff at the hospital. Here was a single man who never did great things, yet he was never alone before he died. Here was a man with very little family, yet he was surrounded by people all the time. Here was a man who was cried over before he died, but not after. After he died, we had a quiet lunch cause we all knew he was in heaven. There was nothing left to be done.

I’m thankful I had the chance to watch a saint leave these shadow lands and go to the Celestial City.

So, no matter how strange it was, that day is one of the most perfect days in my memory.

(Click here for a more detailed article about this experience.)


Quote of the Weekend

“I sometimes think that we stand at sunset,” Eugenus said after a pause. “It may be that the night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Moring always grows again out of the darkness, though maybe not for the people who saw the sun go down. We are the Lantern Bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind.”

Aquila was silent a moment, and then he said an odd thing: “I wonder if they will remember us at all, those on the other side of the darkness.”

“You and I and all our kind they will forget utterly, though they live and die in our debt,” he (Eugenus) said.

The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff

(I absolutely loved this book. Such a beautiful passage!)

From Witch Week to Golden Booklet of the Christian Life


Witch Week

By Diana Wynne Jones

A fun little story with a bit of a Harry Potter flavor…in that, it was written before Harry Potter, but it has the same “witches in a boarding school out after dark” feel. It was fun to get to see the Chrestomanci helping other witches and to realize that this was Chant from book 2 as an adult. As always Jones delivers. If you enjoyed the first two Chrestomanci stories, don’t miss out on these.

Rated PG: Magic

The Magicians of Caprona (Chrestomanci, #4)
by Diana Wynne Jones
This is the last of the Chrestomanci books, and, again, we get to see what the Chrestomanci does from the point of view of other witches. This time its war, love, mayhem and a very smart cat. This is a semi-retelling of Romeo and Juliet with battling families and children who must save everything in the nick of time. Fun, creative, and very enjoyable. I can’t recommend Jones enough.
Rated PG: Magic
by Richard Bachman (Pseudonym), Stephen King
This was a fairly short and quick story about a man who kidnaps a child who he then comes to love. It is dark, gritty, a bit gross in some places, but Blaze is a very interesting character. King does an excellent job showing you the hardships Blaze has endured which make you sympathize with him. King takes you from Blaze’s early days with an abusive father, to his time at an orphanage and then to the end of his life. You can’t help but love Blaze who has a tender heart but no wisdom in choosing his friends. At the end of the book you really wish someone good could have stepped in and saved Blaze…and that, my friends, is the beauty of the book.
Rated R: Violence, gore, adult themes and situations
In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters
I went back and forth on whether to give this book two stars or three on my Goodreads account. I settled on a three because I did enjoy the book. I literally had a hard time putting it down. I enjoyed the setting (1918). I loved the parts where Mary Shelley visits the soldiers in the Red Cross hospitals. They were gripping and beautifully written. But, while I loved elements of this story, the main story didn’t really move me. The aunt was sooo annoying. I guessed the main points and wasn’t surprised by the ending.
BUT! Most of my frustration, and the reason I almost gave it two stars was the main character-Mary Shelley. She seemed so flat. I kept waiting for her to do something with the electricity and machines she claimed to love so much, but we only see her doing research once or twice. I felt like I was told Mary Shelley was spunky and bold, but all I saw was her being disrespectful and sneaky. I was told she loved electricity and machines but she never once built a machine or used a machine in any way to discover something. She starts off not believing in anything spiritual and by the end of the book she’s been a ghost twice and made out with her boyfriend ghost, (It’s not as silly as it sounds) but I don’t see her struggle with the sudden influx of proof of the spiritual realms. I don’t see her working to bring the elements of her mechanical mind and the spiritual together.
I’m now reading The Mysterious Benedict Society book and the girl in that book is spunky and into machines and things and she’s amazing. Not once did the author tell me this. He introduced her with a bucket hooked to her belt filled with things like strings, magnets, and a flashlight. Now that’s spunk.
This book is beautiful. I think lots of girls who are into supernatural stories will like it. There is some good history here too. I just felt very disappointed by the main character.
Rated PG-13: Some physicality with her boyfriend but nothing like what’s in say Twilight or something like that. Also, spirituality, war, war wounds, death, suicide, Spanish flu.
This is an excellent book to just read regularly. It is very practical covering things like suffering, contentment, death, nature, food, Christian Liberty and so much more. I plan on working it through my spiritual reading maybe a few times a year. The tiny paragraphs and short sections make everything important, With concepts which should be familiar to every believer, you have a chance just to meditate and be challenged with each reading without the “waters being muddied”. I was both convicted and encouraged by the depth of this book. It is not politically correct thankfully, but just deals with how Christians should think and deal with life. Please read it!
Rate G.

Quote of the Weekend

“He glanced aside a the young Celt now. Brychan looked very happy. He came of a people to whom fighting was the very flowering of life. Aquila, coming of another people, could not feel that, only a cold, knife-edged sense of waiting, but something leapt between them all the same, binding them for the moment into a brotherhood.”

– The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutciff