Monday, January 25, 2016

A Refuge at Highland Hall

Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War One she travels to London to assist her sister Kate with the eight orphan children she and her husband Jon have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny’s dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of  chasing Zeppelins across the front line in France, he feels it’s unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can’t help admiring the pretty, warmhearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.

As Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout form those experiences push Alex beyond Penny’s reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war? Will faith and forgiveness bring them together again? (Amazon)

Read a chapter

My Review: Another satisfying story of romance and and action filled with charming characters and historical details. Set within the backdrop of World World One. This time the main character is Kate's younger sister Penny and an old family friend of Jon's, Alex Goodwin. Penny is visiting her pregnant sister to help Kate take care of 8 orphaned children she and Jonathan are caring for when she meets young RAF pilot, Alex Goodwin. The two have an instant attraction but are soon separated: Alex is assigned to protect England from the Zeppelins that are bombarding London. Due to the danger, Kate, Penny, the children, and servants are all sent to live at Highland Hall. 

Due to the distance separating them, their romance develops throughout a series of letters, until a tragedy sends Alex back to England. As he struggles to face his new normal, will he risk developing a closer relationship with Penny? Letters are also an essential part of another blossoming romance that seems doomed to failure. To be honest, I found myself more drawn to this story and wanting to learn more.

This is Book 3 in the Edwardian Brides series, and it was good to revisit familiar characters. (Reading the first two books is not essential, but I do recommend them.) This one did not hold my attention quite as much, but is still a very enjoyable book. I think there were just too many other story lines that I wanted to have more details about...and I really can't complain because Turansky left me wanting more; I consider it to be a mark of a very skilled story-teller.

I received this book at no cost to myself from Waterbrook-Multnomah's Blogging For Books program. I was only required to write an honest review.

Foundations of Honor DVD Study

The “Foundations of Honor Study Guide: Building a Powerful Community” (Loving On Purpose, Nov. 17 2015) teaches readers to build solid foundations of honor in their lives, homes, businesses, churches and communities.The Foundations of Honor Study Guide addresses questions on honor, confrontation and more through a comprehensive study of the core values, practices, and cultural effects of honor. Clear biblical teaching and illustrations, along with provoking questions and targeted action points, equip and train readers to examine their own foundations and build a solid foundation of honor in their lives, homes, businesses, churches, and communities. The Foundations of Honor Study Guide is designed to work with the Foundations of Honor Teaching Series as a 10-session course suitable for both individuals and groups. (from Amazon)

My Review: The definition I heard that seemed to sum up the whole thing is "treat others as you would Jesus." The only other sentence I could add would be Matthew 7:12 (and Luke 6:31), "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you." This is how I was raised. Not how I always act, but I have always tried to be courteous and respectful of others. And, I am usually surrounded by people who are the same in their treatment of others.

Of course, I have seen people who scream at or are disrespectful to others. I have had it directed at me. So, I am guessing the point of this study is dealing with people who do not know how to treat others, especially with confrontations, or how to respond. I have to confess, this is not the study for me. Ten weeks of people talking about talking is more than I can handle. Then, there is the overuse of the word empower in the study guide. That word annoys me---a lot. The meaning of it is to help people gain confidence, and there is nothing wrong with that; it just sounds so egocentric that it has negative connotations when I see it. 

I received this study at no cost in exchange for an honest review from Shelton Interactive.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Based on a miraculous story about the power of faith, Captive is an "amazing, inspiring" drama about the spiritual collision of two lost souls, Brian Nichols (Golden Globe Nominee David Oyelowo), on the run from police and desperate to make contact with his newborn son, takes recently widowed mother Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) hostage in her own apartment.  Fearing for her life and desperately hoping to see her daughter again, she turns to Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life for guidance.  Ashley and her captor face a crossroads where they discover hope and light in the midst of despair in the moving film. (back of DVD)
My Review: Captive is based on a true event that I remember following on television, plus I read the book both when it was originally published and again a few months ago. That is part of the problem for me. On one hand, there were very strong performances, especially by the 2 leads, David Oyelowo and Kate Mara. They were both believable in their roles and kept my attention.

However, the story-telling was a bit shallow and weak. I understand that there is a need to get into the back story and condense 7 hours into a 96 minute film, but too much time was spent on fictionalized sections that I felt took away from the actual events. And it was the fictionalized (or altered) scenes that would cause my eyes to roll a bit. This is a powerful, captivating, story that stands up based on its own merit. There also seemed as though there was a reluctance to incorporate much of the faith aspect, including The Purpose Driven Life, perhaps to entice a larger audience, but the growing faith of Ashley has always been a key part of the story and had to be shown. Don't get me wrong; it was only part of the story and did not need to be over-exaggerated either. There was something in the book that always resonated with me which was used in another part of the film, but was trivialized when moved.

So, because of the performances, I would give it a high score. The film story puts it down to an average rating, but I am going to take into consideration that I am biased in favor of the actual events and tend to be a stickler about staying with facts as much as possible. To be fair, I have loved other movies that I later found out could barely claim "based on a true story" and the Captive screenwriters honestly did not stray that far in this movie. So, I will give it 4 stars. 

DVD Release Date: January 5, 2016
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements involving violence and substance abuse) 

There are over 30 minutes of bonus content on this DVD including Journey Through Darkness: Filming Captive and Faith and The Purpose Driven Life.  Also included with this DVD is a Digital HD copy that can be instantly streamed and downloaded.  
GIVEAWAY!! Thank you to Propeller and FlyBy for providing a copy of this DVD to me at no charge for review purposes. All I had to do is give my honest opinion!! And, even better, they have another copy to send to one of my readers. Just leave a comment (or contact me if there is an issue with posting. Remember that I do need time to approve all comments) and a winner will be randomly selected.
Deadline to enter is January 29, 2016 at 2pm CT. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Providence movie
Love Needs No Words... The tagline of the upcoming film, Providence, is more than just a figure of speech. It is also an apt description of this feature length silent film that relies on action and music to tell a story of a search for love that lasted four decades. 

Providence tells the story of Rachel Cartwright and Mitchell Little whose lives touch at many times over the years, but misunderstandings and other interests pull them apart each time. The roles of Rachel and Mitchell are played by are shared of different actors: Emily Knapp and Chase Anderson as young Rachel and Mitchell, Stacey Bradshaw and Josh Allen as the teens versions, and Juli Tapken and Rich Swingle as adults. Each keep the characters true to form which makes the transition throughout the decades believable. All involved with the film are great, but I do want to say that Irene Santiago, as Rachel's mom, gives a remarkable performance. Several recognizable faces from the Christian film industry are in this, including an enthusiastic cameo by Jenn Gotzon.


Writer/director Sharon Wilharm, and her husband Fred (who produces, edits, and films) have collaborated on several movies and videos, and this is not their first silent film project. The Good Book is an hour long silent drama which follows a single Bible as it is shared from one person to another, and the impact its words have on each person who receives it. A single Bible is also a key factor in Providence.

Rachel receives a Bible from her beloved grandmother as a Christmas present, but her mom donates it to a thrift store. That Bible is the only book Mitchell can afford, so he becomes the new owner. Rachel's loss leads her to looking for love and acceptance with the popular crowd, while Mitchell becomes a follower of Christ. They have several encounters in high school that lead to a closer relationship, but that breaks off as they both go in different directions with their lives. Even when they met again as adults, it was mostly brief encounters that never lasted, until they finally realized that they were truly meant to be together after all...and for always. I have heard this story compared to Christ awaiting His Bride (the church) to prepare herself and to Abraham waiting for his promised son. The 40 years also remind me of Moses leading his people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Since there is no dialogue, each person will probably fill in the silence with their own words and come to their own comparisons.

There are a couple of times when some of the acting may be a little over the top, but overall, this is a well made film that truly does get it's message out without saying a word. And, I definitely want to commend whoever selected the music! The eclectic blend suited my personal taste and provided a perfect background for the action and I loved the score by Sean O'Bryan Smith. The music in the movie is often my favorite part, and he did a great job with it.

See Providence at an AMC Theater near you starting February 12, 2016.

Providence on FB

Providence movie website

Providence on IMDb