Book Review: For Love & Honor by Jody Hedlund

For Love & Honor by Jody Hedlund

for love and honor

Sir Bennet finds himself in a bit of a quandary.  His elder brother, Aldric, the Baron of Windsor, has made a mess of the family finances and it’s up to Sir Bennet to make things right.  An arranged marriage with wealthy Lady Sabine might just solve the problem.  Not knowing that she is on her way to meet her potential husband, Lady Sabine believes the reason for the trip to Maidstone Castle is to view the renowned relic collection housed there with the hopes of acquiring a few of the ancient pieces.  Little does she realize that the birthmark she hides beneath her glove will be proof enough to be labeled a witch, endangering her own life and the lives of all who surround her unless she is able to prove her innocence.

This novel is written with teens and young adults in mind.  The story is light and romantic. Lady Sabine are Sir Bennet are likable characters and their interactions during their courtship are entertaining.  The discussion questions that follow the story are designed to help teen girls reflect on their own lives.  This book would make a great addition to units on life in the 1300s, superstitions in medieval Europe and the belief systems of the time.

Although there is no Maidstone Castle in Hampton, where this story takes place, there is a castle near Maidstone which dates to the medieval ages.  The setting adds to the romantic nature of the story.

Set in the middle ages, the accusation of being a witch was a serious matter. A person could be accused of witchcraft for a number of reasons but one of the most common was having a witch’s mark in the form of moles, scars, or birthmarks.  Once accused, innocence could be proven through certain physical trials.

 

 

Three trials are mentioned in the story, although there were many more.  Trial by ordeal, where an accused witch was subjected to some sort of physical punishment.  Rapid healing of the wounds inflicted during the ordeal meant the accused was innocent.  However, if the wound became infected, he or she was guilty.  Trial by dunking was another common test.  The accused would be thrown into a body of water from a boat.  If the accused sank, innocence was the verdict and he or she would be pulled up into the boat.  If the accused floated, it meant he or she had renounced baptism by entering the Devil’s service.  The idea of water being so pure an element that it rejects the guilty originates with Pliney the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, BK VII (AD 70) which states that witches will never drown.

The third trial mentioned in the book was The Lord’s Prayer Test.  The accused is asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer.  If he or she is able to recite the prayer without misspeaking, then the accused would be declared innocent since it was thought that the Devil would not allow one of his servants to do so.

Get your copy here.  Read other reviews of the book here.

three stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Failing at your own business–book reviewer

So as I was gearing up for my transition away from elementary school teaching, I began looking for other ways to supplement my income.  The net loss from not working at the school was $250 USD per month, therefore, I needed something that would fill that hole with moolah.

Reading books and getting paid for it seemed like the perfect job for me! I started searching about a bit for companies that were hiring in that field.  I applied and was accepted for 2 different reviewer jobs.

The first website was BookLookBloggers.  The catch is you are required to have your own blog with a minimum number of followers.  There is no cash payout.  You will receive a book to review free of charge.  You must post the review of at least 200 words on your blog with links back to the site, plus post a review on a consumer website like Amazon.  AND it’s a Christian publishing company, so not everyone’s cup of tea.  I figured it would be a good experience, so went ahead and requested my first book.

I was not disappointed in the reading selection. It took more time than I anticipated to write the review.  I wanted to get it just right.  You can read my review of The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron here.  

The second book reviewer position was with Online Book Club.  This setup was a bit more complicated, however, there is the promise of a cash payout at the end.  You can choose a book to review, however, the options available to you are limited by your reviewer score.  For example, as a newbie, I could only download certain books in certain formats.  There are specific deadlines as well.  Within 4 days of acceptance, you must confirm you have a readable version of the book.  Then within 30 days of the download, you must confirm you finished it.  Finally, within 7 days of finishing, you must submit the review.

The review is subject to approval.  It must be at least 5 paragraphs with at least 400 words.  You must rate the book on a 4-star system.  You can NOT publish the review on your blog, but you MUST share the link to the review once it’s been reviewed on your social media networks.  Payments vary according to the books and are sent via Paypal.  As I was still a reviewer in training, I did not get paid for either of these reviews.

I reviewed Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks by Morton E Tavel, MD. You can see my review here.

I also reviewed My Trip to Adele by A.I.Alyaseer, R.I.Alyaseer.  You can see my review here.

There is a second option for income with the Online Book Club. With the Twitter Retweet Rewards, if you like, reply and tweet the Book of the Day post  @TwBookClub, you can earn $5 plus $1 per 100 followers, rounded up to the nearest dollar.  I don’t have a lot of followers on Twitter, so I only qualify for the minimum payout, but it’s something.  You must retweet, like, and reply to each BOTD announcement tweet for all 30 days within 24 hours of the original tweet in order to get your reward.  

Then there is always the chance for a $10 Amazon gift card. There are 2 given away daily, one to the person with the highest number of points and one randomly.  You receive more entries by sharing, liking or pinning the BOTD on a variety of social media sites.

So, while I have yet to make any money at this venture, I’m going to stick with it a bit longer and see what happens.  After all, I enjoy reading and the potential to get paid for this hobby is a nice additional incentive.

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Book Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Illusions, pretense, secrets and lies. When a man dies at his own resurrection, escape artist Wren Lockhart, former apprentice to the great Harry Houdini, takes center stage in the investigation. Encompassing the years 1907-1927, from Washington, DC to Massachusetts, crossing the ocean to include England and France, the layers of mystery surrounding her are a puzzle for Agent Elliot Matthews to solve. What roles do magic, sleight of hand and faith play in Victor Peale’s death?

Harry Houdini and Dorothy Young on stage.

Fictional character Wren Lockhart was inspired by the real-life entertainer Dorothy Young, stage assistant to Harry Houdini.  The premise of this novel is a comment Houdini made about returning from the dead, that “it’s humanly impossible.”  After being convinced of the fraudulent nature of mediums, he spent considerable effort debunking various spiritualists of the time. (See also Houdini and the Supernatural, Houdini’s Greatest Trick: Debunking Medium Mina Crandon, Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle: a friendship split by spiritualism, Harry Houdini Investigates the Spirit World, Houdini: Magician, Spiritualist, or Skeptic?)

Houdini, the magician who debunked magic, could not bear to see the great rationalist (Arthur Conan) Doyle enchanted by ghosts and frauds. And so he did what any friend would: He set out to prove spiritualism false and rob his friend Doyle of the only comforting fiction that was keeping him sane. It was the least he could do.—John Hodgman

Following in her mentor’s footsteps, Wren uses her knowledge about performing and sleight of hand to assist the investigation into the resurrection of Victor Peale performed by self-proclaimed magician Horace Stapleton. The historical details that have been included in this novel give the reader a glimpse into the brilliant vaudeville world of the 1920s. The suspense built by brief looks into Wren’s long-buried past and the developing criminal case, as well as a blossoming romance, made the entire reading experience quite enjoyable.

A thoroughly delightful read.  Get your copy here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Inspirational Women Writers in Mexico–Lynda Lock

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Hello, I’m Lynda Lock. I’m originally from British Columbia, Canada and now live in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico. It’s an island about seven kilometers long and a kilometer wide 15 minutes by boat from Cancun. It has all the peace and quiet of island life combined with all the big city amenities, including a large international airport just a few minutes away.

I came to Mexico with my husband. We are both from British Columbia Canada, having lived in a variety of small communities and large cities. My original hometown, located in the coastal mountains of British Columbia, is now a deserted ghost town. It was a thriving gold mining town that shut down when the mining company ran out of easily accessible gold. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in the city of West Vancouver, located directly across the harbour from the much larger metropolis of Vancouver BC. We met on a similarly sized island in BC Canada called Bowen Island in 1975. We have been together since 1980. We married in 1987. My husband and I are currently retired. For the most part of our working lives we were self-employed entrepreneurs with a wide variety of businesses that included an antique store, a freight boat business, a solid waste disposal company, an award winning bed and breakfast, and a micro-brewery, to name just a few. He was also the Fire Chief and I was a volunteer firefighter for many years in another small island community in BC Canada. I’ve also been an ambulance driver, a control centre supervisor for a high-tech computer-driven train, a park attendant, and have written a safety magazine.

My husband and I frequently say that we have Adult Attention Deficient Syndrome. As soon as a business was running well, we got bored and sold it, only to immediately start a different type of business. In the later years of our working careers, we switched to managing businesses for other companies. He managed a large winery and restaurant complex and I managed a mid-sized hotel.

We had enjoyed short vacations on the western side of Mexico for many years and then we discovered the Caribbean side in 2002. Wow! The turquoise water, good food, friendly islanders; we were hooked. After four visits to the island, we purchased an oceanfront lot in 2006 on Isla Mujeres with the idea of building a home. Since we were still working at that time we had planned to live part-time on the island and the balance of the year in Canada.

When it was time to return to work we happened to arrive in the middle of a late spring snow storm. A meter of snow! That was it for us. We told our employers that we would be leaving permanently in October of 2008, and worked until it was time to move to Mexico. In the meantime, we sold our home, furniture, paintings, decorations, books – everything. The only possessions that we kept were some articles of clothing and a few tools or special mementos. Our rule was; if it won’t fit in the car it isn’t going.

We drove from the Okanagan Valley to Isla Mujeres in our Nissan Hybrid car, taking twenty-three days to sightsee across the south-western USA and central Mexico. Our then nine-year-old cat, Thomas, had to wait until we arrived on Isla Mujeres before he could fly with my sister to his new home in Mexico. Thomas starred as the hero in my children’s book The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato. He thrived in Mexico, living until his seventeenth birthday.

Since moving to Mexico, my relationship with my family hasn’t changed. I still see everyone almost as frequently as before. We have an adult son and two grandchildren. They love that we live in Mexico. They visit as often as possible. As for friends, some I see less, others more and I’ve made many more new friends. As I was already retirement age when I moved here, learning a second language has been a big challenge. I miss the easy, silly conversations with the locals, things like chatting about the weather, what’s happening in their lives and how they are doing. I should have learned Spanish about 30 years ago when my brain was younger and I was smarter. It’s a daily struggle, but I keep trying to pick up new words and phrases. I don’t take lessons because I don’t have the patience for classroom learning. Like all things in my life, I learn as I go. My Spanish is limited, but I keep trying.

I love Mexican culture. It is like being transported back in time to the 1950’s. There are large and close knit families who look out for each other and easy freedom for the kids, not so many organized and scheduled activities, just outdoor fun with friends. I especially love the climate by the ocean in the tropics.

Living in Mexico has helped me to discover the ability to just live and not worry about the silly stuff that we have no control over. I have learned to be patient, when to give up and when to move on. For example, having a guarantee doesn’t mean much. You have to be calmly persistent to get service for any appliance or piece of equipment that is theoretically under guarantee. After seven weeks of polite and daily phone calls with the help of one of our Mexican friends, we finally got our new refrigerator fixed by the manufacturer. My friend’s words of wisdom regarding guarantees were “It’s a game of Survivor. You have to outlast, outwit and outplay your opponent to win.” That really made me laugh.

The accomplishment that makes me the proudest was self-publishing my first book in hardcover “The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato.” It involved figuring out how to get it printed in China as the printing costs in Mexico, USA and Canada were too much for my budget, arranging the shipping to Mexico, clearing the shipment through customs and arranging for trucking to our city. It was a great learning experience.

In my free time, I write for my own pleasure, walk on the beach with our low-to-the-ground rescue mutt, socialize with friends, enjoy the sunset and a glass of wine with my husband, who is my best friend, and take pictures.

I have self-published two books and three more are in the process.

The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato, a bilingual children’s book.

Treasure Isla (a great summer read)

Books in progress:
Trouble Isla, sequel to Treasure Isla, planned launch October 2017
Temptation Island, third book in the series launch date as yet unknown
Named by the Enemy, historical fiction set in Canada. Planned launch is July 2017
The Adventures of Thomas and Sparky, bilingual sequel to The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato. Planned launch December 2017

I write a weekly blog called Notes from Paradise–Isla Mujeres with my husband. Whoever has the bright idea for the week, writes the articles. I take 90% of the photographs because I habitually have a camera attached to my hand. Since we began in September of 2011, we have had over 434,000 page views with the weekly average now hitting around 10,000 pages views. The response is astounding!

day-of-the-kings-7-mm

I don’t specifically volunteer for any one charity, just help out where I can with student scholarships, donations to helping animals, and entertaining the island’s youngsters during the Christmas Golf Cart Parade and the Day of the Kings, with our Mickey and Minnie Mouse costumes.

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