Sometimes the things that impact us, break our hearts. (Day 4 Writing Challenge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of this writing challenge, I mentioned I would list 31 things that have had an impact on my life, and why. Today, this one is tough for me.

I have mentioned many times before that I am a lover of books. A good book is a great escape. But what happens when you read a good book about trying to escape?

I ran across the book A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres one afternoon while visiting my local library. I read the tag line was an account of the Jonestown massacre. Typically, I do not read books like this…but morbid curiosity got the best of me. I remember growing up hearing different things about “cults” and mass suicides. I knew the name Jim Jones. I had borrowed well- known phrase “drinking the kool-aid” many times before in jesting situations. Now, I just can’t bring myself to say it…. not anymore.

I checked the book out and started reading. At first it was really hard to discard my preconceived notions…soon they were obviated.

I won’t turn this into a book review. You can click on the link and read all different kinds of them on Amazon.com if you want to.

But I will tell you this… my heart broke, no, shattered after I turned the last page. I sobbed as I was reading it. I prayed harder than I ever had before.

I wondered. How…HOW does one man get to the point in their lives when they become so sold out to their own ideologies… And even more, how are they able to influence so many to follow. (All the while setting the mental tone that this is the will of God.)

What happened in their lives that they so desperately needed acceptance that they fell prey to this? My heart still breaks for this very thing. The stories, accounts and pictures will never leave my mind. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe this book will serve as a bruise on my heart…to remember how desperately people really need a Savior. (An honest relationship with their very creator.)

Maybe finding this book was no accident. Maybe I needed to see just how desperate and hurting this world really is. Yes… I am sure of it.

Mass suicides and cult followings happen every day. They didn’t start or stop with Jim Jones. I vividly remember watching the attack on David Karesh in Waco, Tx. (And these are just the ones the media talks about… )

I don’t have the solution to this…but I have a broken heart towards it.

Lord Jesus,

You know how this book has broken my heart. I am so sorry that so many have  fallen into the hands of impostors. I can’t change what happened, but I am asking that you would help me to reach further, and love greater to those who are hurting and broken in this world. Help them to see and know the real you. Cause true healing and relationship to happen. Protect us from those who would try to hurt us. Help us to be a bright light in a very dark world.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Until next time,

See ya on the Random Side,

Aj Luck

 

The Song of Unmaking-Book Review and MAJOR giveaway!!

D. Barkley Briggs seems to be a name that is becoming quite profound in the Christian fantasy genre.

Recently, I was given a copy of his third book, The Song of the Unmaking, in his five part series - Legends of Karac Tor. Thanks and a big shout out to Glass Road PR for this book in exchange for my review.

I have to say, even though I generally don’t lean toward fantasy style novels, I enjoyed this one. The creative worlds that were created and the way the author is able to take you on a remarkable journey into them…was refreshing for kids of all ages.- young and old.

If you are a fan of this genre then I do recommend this series. (It is a five part series and this particular book is book three.)  ALSO… IF YOU ARE A FAN OF THIS GENRE.. YOU WILL WANT TO KEEP READING FOR SOME EXCITING NEWS!!!

The author- Dean Barkley Briggs lost his wife tragically at the age of 36. Out of that tragedy he decided to create a written heroic journey that his four sons could relate to, thus birthing this semi autobiographical fantasy series.

A quick summary of book three is as follows:

“In the bitter north, hope and fear collide.- The dreadful Goths have invaded Rockval, testing the strengths of Bitterland’s beautiful, widowed ruler. Meanwhile, the Barlow brothers are growing stronger and stronger in their powers- all except for Ewan, who traded his gift away to save the life of his friends.

Soon it becomes clear that the Goths are the least of their worries. A terrible machine is being built high atop Mount Vishgar, above Rockval, where the raging winds never cease. If the machine really does release the Song of the Unmaking, what will happen? Can Arthur lay aside his grief and once more become a great leader of men? And what about the mysterious Doorless Tower, Nein Dyrr?

As Kr’Nunos grows more bold, the Barlow brothers take their stand with the viks of the north. Yet it is Ewan alone who must answer the question: Is any music stronger than the most powerful song of destruction the world has ever known?”

AND NOW FOR SOME REALLY FUN NEWS!!!!

BRIGGS LAUNCHES MASSIVE GIVEAWAY CONTEST

D. Barkley Briggs loves fantasy novels. He is, after all, a fantasy novelist himself. He is about to make one fan’s fantasy come true. Briggs is giving away, not just one of his books, but a complete young adult fantasy library from 15 top authors.

“The Fantasy Prize Pack Giveaway” contains forty-eight (48) of the best YA Christian fantasy novels on the planet, plus a brand new Kindle Fire™..FREE! But that’s not all. Second Place gets a FREE iPod™Shuffle.

Briggs has also collected several mini-prizes, including dragon jewelry and children’s books.

To enter, participants must upload at least one photo of themselves reading a book from Briggs’ Legends of Karac Tor series (The Book of Names Corus the Champion , or The Song of Unmaking) to his Facebook pageFacebook.com/DBarkleyBriggs

The contest launches Nov. 1 and concludes Nov. 30. For official rules, visit deanbriggs.com

Okay, so you might be saying…yes, that really is a GREAT giveaway, but I don’t OWN ANY OF HIS BOOKS- How can I possibly win??

That is where I come in to help.

I just so happen to have a copy of The Song of the Unmaking that I am willing to give away! All you need to do is leave a comment and tell me why you would like to win this major giveaway from him and what was the FIRST fantasy novel you ever read?

Curious!!

Until next time,

See ya on the Random Side,

Aj Luck

The Opposite of Art- Book Review

As you have probably noticed by now I have been spending ALOT of my time reading and reviewing books. Admittedly I am a book worm so doing this seems not only natural but right up my alley.

The latest book was provided to me by Glass Road PR in exchange for a review and is by the author- Athol Dickson. The book is titled The Opposite of Art.

Right away the cover of the book caught my attention. It is simply the back side of a canvas with the hanging wire exposed. Pretty catchy if you ask me. (And yes, this completely plays into the story line of the book.)

For most of the books I have read and reviewed I have given a glowing recommendation about. This book however I would recommend with caution.

Here’s why.

The story line in itself is very unique. The main character Sheridan Ridler is an artist who is in love with a woman named Suzanne. Suzanne has been the object of his art for a very long time and many portraits have been painted of her. Pretty early on in the book they get into somewhat of a heated argument and she rushes away from his apartment. He is clearly distressed and begins to follow her to her home in Harlem.  A sudden accident happens, he is hit by a car and knocked into the Harlem River. He is presumed dead by the known free world but he  manages to somehow survive. He doesn’t return to his life as he knew it, women, art, drugs and his world revolving around him. Instead he is compelled to find something that he “saw” in only moments after his accident, the few moments that he had in fact died. What he “saw” he refers to it as “the Glory.” He tries desperately to paint it, draw it, to recapture it- all without fail. His compulsion drives him on a 25 year world wide quest trying to find this glory. This quest leads him seeking help from holy men, traveling from New York to the jungles of Thailand, the bazaars of Istanbul, the desert city of Tel Aviv, the Eternal City of Rome, a massive shrine in Mexico, and finally, to a traveling circus in New Mexico.

All the while Suzanne has given birth and raised his daughter, unbeknownst to him, Gemma, who is completely aware that Sheridan Ridler, the world famous artist is her father. Her deceased father. His daughter is now working in the art industry and is an expert of her fathers work.

Suddenly, paintings begin to arrive to various people whom Ridler feels he has wronged over the years, in an effort to make ammends. This catches the attention of not only his daughter, who is now a prolific art expert, but also a man from his past who is an enemy.

Both the daughter and the enemy of her father began to track down clues to try and find Sheridan Ridler. Both have different motivations, different agendas. Sheridan has no idea he is being sought after. In the end Sheridan finally realizes what the “glory” is and how to truly obtain it and how close he was to it, all along.

The book concept itself was very good. However, I found myself getting lost in the writing and some of the explanations of the various religions and rituals that he participated in.  The book is very much a literary style of writing and one that I am not specifically drawn to.

It does have the strong potential to shed light on the cultures and traditions around us and the lengths that many will endure to simply find what they consider glorious or peaceful.

Overall, I think this is a decent read but not one that I can honestly recommend strongly. I commend the author for the amount of time and research such a project must have taken.

I would suggest you read other reviews of not only the book but the author itself before making your decision. Again, a good book, but not a great book… You can find the book on Amazon here.

Again, this is simply my humble opinion. ;-)

Until next time- KEEP READING

See ya on the Random Side,

Aj Luck

 

God Makes Lemonade- Book Review

Hello blogosphere! I know this entry is later in the day than normal, but hey…day’s not over! This, is a good thing…TRUST ME!

Ok, so you have probably noticed I have been doing a lot of book reviews lately. This book- the one I am about to tell you about…has got to be my favorite one to date. (For several reasons actually.)

One the book has a cover of fresh lemons and a shout out to lemonade…how could this NOT be an indicator for great things ahead.

The books full title is called “God makes Lemonade- true stories that sweeten and inspire.” by Don Jacobson.

The book is broken down into 83 short but true stories from people all over the map sharing slices so to speak of their lives and the potential lemons they were dealing with.

The book is written in a very similar style to the Chicken Soup books but this one seems just a little sweeter. The stories are easy to read (usually within 10 minutes or less) and each one leaves one encouraged and challenged to look at our lives maybe in a different perspective. One really cool addition to this project was that the author, Don Jacobson, occasionally adds “lemon drops” at the end of some of the stories. They are current follow ups to the author and their stories. It was another way to feel connected to the author, the story teller and the project. Great addition!!

(Here’s a little blurb from the back of the book.)

 God Makes Lemonade CoverI bet you could use a little good news right about now. We have just the book for you! In God Makes Lemonade™ you’ll read stories from everyday folks
who discover unexpected sweetness in the midst of sour circumstances.

Some
of these real-life stories are laugh-out-loud funny, others
are sobering, and more than a few will have you reaching for a tissue.
We sure did!

But these true stories all have one thing in common: hope.
There’s
no question that life gives us “lemons,” like issues with
health, employment, and relationships-truly sour circumstances we
wouldn’t wish on anyone. But when those lemons become lemonade, it’s as
refreshing as an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day.

There were so many stories that reached out and gripped my heart but there were two in particular. One was called “This Room” by Nicole Swort. This one was written from the unique perspective of the room itself. It showed everything it had beheld starting off with childhood innocence to adolencence of the young girl who called that room her own. It talks of how it watched her grow from a small child afraid and searching for monsters under her bed to when the teenage years dawned upon her and the real monster of abuse visited her. It told of the transition from high school to college to finding her true love  and the last night she spent in the room before becoming a bride, then eventually a mother. The room shared of how it rejoiced with her as she brought her children there to visit and the room now held twin beds for her parents grandchildren and how in one life time though things were not always perfect,and even sometimes scary- love can truly redeem all things.

my second choice was “The gunshot that saved my life.”

This spoke of how a hunting accident left a man freezing and fighting for his life in the middle of the night. His family had no idea where he was but how they managed to find him, and find him still alive. He shares how the hunting accident was a life and death moment. He was struggling to hold on to his life but if it had not been for the accident he would never have the chance to embrace the new life which he had never imagined possible…before the accident. It was truly inspiring and had me engaged from word one!

At the end of this story I sat speechless as I read that the man whom the story was about was none other than the author himself. I honestly think I clapped out loud, alone in my living room.

The book is a truly inspiring and a great addition to any bookshelf!

With the holidays just around the corner…this just may be the perfect stocking stuffer that you have been looking for. Fair warning though..BUY TWO BOOKS. Once you read the first story you won’t want to give your copy away!!

Again, another great book that I can honestly HIGHLY recommend!!

You can find the book on amazon here

Until next time,

See ya on the Random Side,

Aj Luck

p.s. Big THANKS to Glass Road PR for sending me the book in exchange for a review. :)

Look who stopped by to say hello!!!

Good morning! I am so excited for our first ever guest blogger on Randomnessofluck.com

You may recognize her name from the last post…it’s none other than author of Diary of a teenage girl- becoming me….. Ms. Melody Carlson

Find out what all she had to say in a very timely manner and some exciting news about what’s coming up next for her.

Teens and Their Supernatural
Pursuits

By Melody Carlson

Have you even wondered why some teens are drawn toward
things like Ouija boards or psychics? Or why séances are still popular at
sleepovers? Does it just have to do with Halloween and that spine-chilling need
for a good scare? Or could it be something more? And, as a Christian, should
you be concerned?

Those
questions, as well as some confused reader letters, prompted me to tackle the
“supernatural” in one of my teen novels (Moon White, TrueColors, Nav Press).
And whenever I write an issues-based novel, I’m forced to research—and often in
some dark places. So I began scouring websites, learning more about Wicca and
the occult, trying to grasp what was really going on with today’s teens—and how
I could write about it in a helpful and relevant way.

But, as usual, when I write a teen
book, I go back to my own adolescence…trying to connect with my inner
teen…and I suddenly remembered a short era when a friend and I got very
interested in witchcraft. I had honestly forgotten about this time and was
fascinated to recall how we scoured some witchcraft stores on a local campus—I
think we even purchased a few things. Fortunately, this interest was
short-lived and I became a Christian not long afterward.

However, as
I reconnected with my inner teen, I had to ask myself—why had I looked into witchcraft back then? Why do teens dabble with it now? Suddenly the answer became crystal
clear. I was searching. I’d been
calling myself an atheist for several years by then, but I was spiritually
hungry—starving in fact. Consequently I was looking for spiritual
answers—something that would fill that empty void within me. I wanted a
supernatural force in my life and I didn’t even care where it came from. I
needed something bigger than me, more powerful than me, something to hold onto.
I had no idea at the time that I was really searching for God.

This realization changed the way I viewed my research. Instead of feeling disgusted
and dismayed by the witchcraft/Wicca sites (which are not particularly
enjoyable) I began to recognize that these people (mostly girls) were simply
searching too. They wanted a power source in their lives just like I wanted one
in mine. They just hadn’t found God yet.

This led to
another discovery. A girl who’s attracted to a religion like Wicca is usually
seeking to gain some control over her
life. Something is wrong and she wants to change it. To do so, she’s often
enticed to purchase something—like “magical herbs”—to create a potion that will
give her some control over her situation. Unfortunately, she doesn’t even
realize she’s being tricked.

But think
about it, wouldn’t you love to have control over a bad situation sometimes? Wouldn’t
you love to be able to change the circumstances that make your life unpleasant?
So what if someone offered you the “power” to do just that? Perhaps if you’re
fifteen, you wouldn’t see that person as a charlatan and you would fall for it.

Which
brings me to another important factor in understanding this generation’s
attraction to the supernatural. Follow
the money.
The more I researched, the more it became painfully obvious that
Wicca and witchcraft and the occult are money-making enterprises. Thanks to the
internet, these savvy distributors sell anything imaginable—and many things you
can’t. That leads to some serious motivation—these marketers want to hook their
unsuspecting young customers and reel them in. Of course, these potions and
trinkets and how-to books don’t come with a money back guaranty. Nor are they
approved by the FDA. Yet they are a multi-million dollar industry.

So, in a
way, it’s a perfect storm. Teens that are insecure, lost, unhappy, and
searching…meet up with an unregulated industry that offers supernatural answers and power and
control…for a price. And, oh yeah, I never even mentioned how this opens a
door for Satan to slip in and wreak havoc. For that…you’ll have to read the
book.

Melody

I have got to say…with Halloween just around the corner…it seems pretty creepy but very intriguing. I truly appreciate your heart Ms. Carlson in sharing what you walked through as a teen and the answers you were seeking. I think Moon White sounds not only intriguing but very timely as well. I apprecite your heart and your voice to not only teens but parents as well. Once again, thank you for taking time to stop by today and to share your heart, as well as the story behind your latest project. I know I fort one, can’t wait to read it!

What about you??

Have you read anything by her before? If not, I highly recommed for you to do so…she is a tremendously talented author and one that I am so glad is quickly becoming a favorite on my bookshelf!

Until next time,

See ya on the Random Side,

Aj Luck

Diary of a Teenage Girl- Becoming Me (Book Review)

 

Recently I was given a copy of Melody Carlson’s book- Diary of a Teenage Girl- becoming me to read in exchange for a review by GlassRoad PR.

I wasn’t sure what I was I was going to find donning the pages of the book, but what I found was nothing that I expected.

The initial descrition read as follows:

About Becoming Me
In the fictional Diary of a Teenage Girl, sixteen-year-old Caitlin O’Conner reveals the inner workings of a girl caught between childhood and womanhood … an empty life without Christ and a meaningful one with Him. Through Caitlin’s candid journal entries we see her grapple with such universal teen issues as peer pressure, loyalty, conflict with parents, the longing for a boyfriend, and her own spirituality.

Follow Caitlin O’Conner as she makes her way from New Year’s to the first day of summer – surviving a challenging home life, changing friends, school pressures, an identity crisis, and the uncertainties of “true love.”

Caitlin experiences heartache, and encounters a new reality in her life: God. See how rejection by one group can – incredibly – sometimes lead you to discover who you really are…

At first I found myself to be somewhat hesitant to read something that was targeted more for a young adult reading audience. Despite my apprehension I cracked the spine and read the first page. That is all it took.  The book as well as the interior font not only looked but felt like a journal- and if you know ANYTHING about me…you know that one who journals is one who is of kindred heart and mind. :)

The more I read the more I found myself cheering her on as she began to find out who she was becoming and trials this life can sometimes offer. Standing with her as she walked through her life, recording it on written pages.

I will admit, I do not have a teenage daughter. I am however a mother to a young son. After the final page of this book was read I found myself reflecting on my own life and how I am parenting. I realized through this book, how important my OWN choices are and how they will affect my children in their lives. I realized that as my son grows older things that may seems silly or trite to me – may be nearly detrimental to him and how being there to help him is not only a God given responsibility but a privilege. It helped me remember that children truly are a gift from God.

A great friend once told me that we as parents are simply the bow- and the children are the arrow. Our job is to set them in the right direction and pray that God will help them become who they are meant to be.

This book doesn’t just stop with a few months journaled from Caitlin O’Connors sixteenth year- it is THANKFULLY a five part series following her all the way through high school, college and eventually to the altar as she says I do.

I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend this, as well as the rest of the series, to every teen and parent out there.

Ms. Carlson does a dynamic job capturing the essence of the teenager and the realities that they face.

Well done!

You can find the book on Amazon.com here… :) Go, get your copy today.

Again, thank you Glass Road PR for providing me this great read. I am so glad I turned that first page.

Until next time,

See ya on the Random Side,

Aj Luck

 

p.s.- Here’s a little info about the author- Kudos Ms. Carlson!!!!

Melody Carlson published her first book in 1995 and she has been writing prolifically ever since. To date, Melody has published over 200 books, making her one of the top 20 most prolific authors of all time. With total sales of over 1.4 million her award-winning books include: Homeward, Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon; Limelight; the Diary of a Teenage Girl series; the True Colors series; and the Charter House Girls series.

 

In her professional life, Melody has worn many hats: from pre-school teacher to political activist to senior editor. Currently, she writes full-time, and freelances from her home. She has two grown sons and lives in Sisters, Oregon with her husband, Chris, and Bailey, her chocolate lab. They enjoy skiing, hiking, and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Call Away- Review

I received the book this past Saturday afternoon. Sunday just shortly after midnight I turned the final page with tears still in my eyes.

I am not a sports fan so I had no idea who Kurt or Brenda Warner where when I signed up to review this book at Booksneeze.com

I saw that it was a memoir so I thought…this would be good to read something in my genre in which I am writing, so I signed up.

As soon as I got the book I opened the first page and I was sucked in instantly! My word! The book starts off with a bang- a phone call telling her that her four month old son is not breathing. She leaves work and her and her husband rush him to the emergency room.

Another phone call comes from her dad when she was a young girl with bad news about something that was VERY precious to her- shattering her world once again.

The book grips your heart from the beginning. The read is an easy one because you can’t stop turning the pages. The story is told so brilliantly you feel like you are on this trip right beside her. She grows up  in a very loving home with a sister close in age. Her father is a former marine who loved to share his military stories with her. (even against her mothers better judgement.)She found a love and a desire early on to become just like her dad…She had her life plan all laid out at a very young age. Join the Marines, Marry a Marine, have a bunch of children and live happily ever after.

Plans are good but they don’t always obey the rules we lay down.

You quickly see that she eagerly enlists into the Corp and is a fighter for the things she wants. She is strong and determined but how quickly all that can change.  She shares her life in such a transparent way. A failed marriage and abuse, how she struggled as a single mother of two children under the age of five; one with a disability. My heart broke as she also shares of tragic losses along her journey.

You cry with her and cheer along side of her as she struggles to find out who she really is and how anyone could possibly love her with “all of her baggage.” Then she meets her now husband and best friend Kurt Warner- before he was even playing in the NFL. The story of the relationship ups and downs leaves you cheering for them and not wanting to miss a single moment.

I laughed out loud as well as sobbed alone reading her story. As I turned the last page I felt challenged to look at life in a whole different way. She is a pistol with a fire in her belly to fight when all the odds were against her.

She takes you from poverty to fame and then some and how she kept her faith through it all.

This is a MUST read! It will leave you feeling like no matter what circumstance you may be facing, you are not alone and that God truly does have the ultimate control of our lives…if we will simply allow Him to.

The book was TRULY a breath of fresh air …(and a major kick in the pants- If I am gonna get a memoir out…I need to UP MY GAME!! WOW!!)

Thank you so much Brenda for sharing your life and heart so beautifully on the pages of this memoir. You can find her book on Amazon at:

One Call Away- A Memoir Answering Life’s Challenges with Unshakable Faith.

And a big thank you to Booksneeze for giving me this book for free in exchange for this review.

Grateful.

Until next time,

See ya on the Random Side,

Aj Luck