Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Goodreads Reviews: Self-Raised

     Upon finishing Ishmael, I was excited to read up on its sequel Self-Raised. However, I was somewhat disappointed, solely because the whole story did not focus on Ishmael, but rather the melodrama of Claudia Merlin. In the first book, Claudia Merlin is the spoiled, selfish heiress who has captured Ishmael's heart, but Claudia who is so intent on money and title could never see lowly Ishmael as her equal.

     So Self-Raised, which is toted as the continuation of Ishmael Worth's journey, is actually just the soap opera of Claudia Merlin's actions. Now, the book was good, but I could hardly see it as a sequel to Ishmael Worth. While Ishmael did have his heroic moments, I didn't see any general development to his story. I was hoping for more challenging court cases, his constant fight toward injustice as well as untangling himself from the romantic web he's caught himself in. It doesn't help that Claudia is so very unlikable in the the first book, you find it hard to sympathize with her plight in the sequel.

     The story itself is good, but unlike the first book it was more of a Victorian mystery novel that deals with deceitful spouses, murder plots, forbidden love, shipwrecks and the controversial issues of the slave trade in the United States. I wouldn't say the book itself is terrible, but don't go into the story expecting it to be about Ishmael Worth's life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Goodreads Reviews: Ishmael

I know I've already reviewed this book, but I'm doing the Goodreads book challenge this year and one of the books I read was the sequel to Ishmael, Self-Raised. would make sense to review this book first and then review the second one. Also, I'm going to try and review every book I read in my Goodreads challenge as a new series for my site, as well as other books that I've already read and aren't part of the challenge (Ishmael for example).

These reviews can also be found on my Goodreads page.

~ ~ ~

     Finding a good story, with a strong hero that has good Christian morals, but doesn't come off as to good to be true can be difficult. However, Ishmael Worth's story from obscure, poor beginnings and his journey to become a respectable gentleman in pre-Civil War American society, really has the makings of a great Christian hero.

     Ishmael was written by E.D.E.N. Southworth in 1876 and is loosely inspired by the life of Ishmael Worth who became the first man to ever defend a woman in court. Ishmael's life started with love and loss. His parents came from two polar opposite social circles. His father, Herman Brudenell, is immensely wealthy while his mother, Nora Worth, although beautiful and generous, comes from the poorest class. They meet, fall in love and marry in secret, but like all tragic love stories, they are separated. Herman leaves for Europe while his heartbroken bride dies in childbirth to their son, whom Herman is unaware of.

     Now, orphaned and alone, little Ishmael Worth is raised by his strict spinster aunt, Hannah Worth. From a young age, Ishmael is instilled with a strong work ethic, the importance of education and the strength of faith in God. These three qualities begin to mold Ishmael from a destitute child to a young man whose life is forever challenged by the immoral acts of others.

     Yet, with each challenge, fight, victory and even losses, Ismael continues to persevere and grow. In his early age he witnesses injustices done to those of a lower social status and the abuse of power; which eventually leads him to pursue a life of jurisprudence or simply, he wants to become a defense lawyer.

     When he's not out on the course of justice, Ishmael's heart seems to set a course of his own. He finds himself in love with a beautiful, but vain and selfish young heiress, Claudia Merlin. Yet, Claudia, so wrapped up in herself, is clueless to Ishmael's pining heart. Meanwhile, Claudia's sweet cousin, Beatrice "Bee" Middleton is madly in love with Ishmael, but he only sees Bee as a sister and nothing more.

     And then of course, we have Ishmael's big court case...but I don't want give anything away...

~ ~ ~

To sum it all up then:

     So, we have a coming of age, rags to riches character that's the paragon of the American dream. Christianity is important to the story, but is not too preachy. It's simply a part of Ishmael's growing up and is the moral foundation of his life. Ishmael is described as being extremely handsome, but his description is summed up in a few sentences instead of three of four paragraphs (thank goodness).

     Are there times when Ishmael comes off as too good to be true? Absolutely. Yet, there is is something endearing and likable about him too. He stands up to injustice and tyranny without breaking a sweat, but becomes an awkward idiot around his crush, while he is utterly clueless to the one woman who is completely perfect for him.

     I'm not sure if Ishmael Worth was real or if he is based on someone else, but the character and story of Ishmael is truly inspiring. People may compare Ishmael to the Christian likes of Elsie Dinsmore, but they are hardly the same given their circumstances in life. Yet, the moral Christian themes of faith, standing for those who cannot stand for themselves, honesty, integrity and unwavering faith in God remains the same in both characters.

     I found Ishmael to be a wonderful story, Ishmael himself, to be a great character who is forever on the pursuit of bettering himself for the benefit of honoring the God that he loves. And in so doing can better the people and the world around him.

***Ishmael's story has even made it into the movies! The 1921 silent film, Hearts of Youth is based on the original Ishmael novel, but primarily focuses on the romance between him and Beatrice.***

Monday, April 9, 2018

When Morning Comes


May 18, 1994

      Madeline opened up her eyes and was almost blinded by the great expanse of light pouring into her bedroom. It was blinding as well as a reminder that it was Monday. Most people would have groaned, but Maddie didn't. 

     Mornings. They were beautiful. 

     What was that line from "Anne of Green Gables"? Every morning is fresh with no mistakes...or something along those lines. 

     But mistakes? Maddie had made her own fair share in the last several years. Mistakes that had plunged her into dark places she never thought she would experience. Dark places made of rage, regret, shame and fear. However, she fell into those dark places with someone else and both had to fight to get out.

     Maddie got out of bed and went to her open window. A beautiful spring day in Seddleton, Virginia. No. A beautiful spring morning. Morning and day were two entirely different concepts. You could not get to day without going through morning. And you could not get to morning without getting through the night. 

     And night was what Maddie had always feared the most. Darkness had been her one enemy as a child. Afraid of every unfamiliar noise. Afraid of the monsters that she had seen in the movies that would come and haunt her. Afraid that the darkness would last forever. Yes. Darkness had never been a friend. So when the sun began to peek into her window, Maddie would finally breathe a sigh of relief and sleep would come (even if it was just a few hours).

     There was no relief more beautiful than finally escaping the darkness. Especially when it's a darkness that we have created ourselves. No one knew that better than Maddie. Dark places are not created over night. They start with one act, then followed by another, then another. Acts of cruelty and deceit. Soon you find yourself so consumed by darkness that you are unaware of what you have created around you. Then it takes something so extreme for the darkness to crack open and make you realize how far you have plunged into the deep.

     Pain and heartbreak are hardly miracles, but in Maddie's case, they saved her. Her road of healing from her own darkness had not been easy. Yet it had opened her eyes and her heart. And she was able to forgive the one person that had hurt her so badly and she forgave herself for hurting him as well. 

     The sun was finally over the trees. Maddie heard the front door open and she smiled. What a beautiful morning it was. 

New Layout!

Ringing in spring with a lovely vintage looking layout!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Once more to new creation Awake,
and death gainsay,
For death is swallowed up of life,
And Christ is risen today!

~George Newell Lovejoy

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
~Irish Blessing

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Black Panther

     I just back from the theater (a very packed theater too!) and WOW! Everything people have said about this movie is absolutely true! It went completely beyond the typical MARVEL universe and told a whole different story that was unique, but still had the timeless attributes of a coming of age character. I've been surprised at the severe lack of Black Panther movie reviews on my reading list! Most blogs I follow are die hard MARVEL/DC fans. 

     If you think that movie is simply about race and blacks bashing whites, then you are very misinformed and mistaken! There was absolutely none of that and what they did have was dealt with very well in the villain (or more like an anti-hero). There is respectful representation of both sides; and while the story takes place in Africa and has an all black cast, there is no actual racist culture dialogue from our wonderful hero or his people. 

     So...on to that wonderful (and handsome!) hero...

 Prince T'Challa/Black Panther

     We first met T'Challa as the young, soft spoken Wakandian prince in Captain America: Civil War where he certainly made his mark as an honorable and just man as well as the fierce and famed Black Panther. With what little screen time T'Challa had in the film, we see an immediate character growth starting with his loving relationship with his father, grieving his father's sudden death, hunting down the supposed assassin, siding with Tony Stark and eventually proving to be the king he was meant to be and the hero he knows he is capable of becoming. That's a lot in one day!!!

     Black Panther takes place a week later and T'Challa is finally on his way home to take his place as king of Wakanda. The beginning of the movie gives a brilliant introduction to the genesis of Wakanda and the origins of the Black Panther. While the rest of the world sees Wakanda as a poor and desolute country, hidden within it's mountains and forests is a highly technological world built on Wakanad's primary resource, vibranium. 

     The secret to Wakanda's thriving city is in their refusal to partake in the issues and problems of surrounding countries and nations. T'Challa is wanting to continue this way of life, however, his ex-girlfriend, Nakia, (whom he is still madly in love with) thinks differently and believes that Wakanda's advanced technology could be a great asset to the world. Yet, the outside world does come and threaten T'Challa in the form of an unknown cousin from America who seeks revenge and power embodied by hate and fear. 

     This unexpected adversary becomes the first great challenge that T'Challa must overcome as king. Through victory, defeat, life and death, T'Challa begins to mold himself into a new king for a new Wakanda while remaining the protector and defender of his country's pride and honor, the Black Panther. 

Needless to say, he's kind of my new crush at the moment
   As with Chris Evens as Captain America or Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chadwick Boseman played this wonderful king to be to perfection. T'Challa was so incredible in Civil War and now he is taken to a whole new level of character in Black Panther. Deeply emotional with intense courage and valor,  sometimes blindsided by love as well as being a protective older brother and dutiful son, T'Challa has all the elements you would want in a boy who was born and raised to be a king. 

Wakanda Forever
 (L-R): Erik Killmonger, Zuri, W'Kabi, M'Baku

     Erik/N'Jadaka "Killmonger" Stevens: Erik Stevens grew up in Oakland, California and faced immense pain and sorrow when he came home to find his father was killed. Ignited by rage and revenge, Erik becomes a U.S. black ops solider working for the CIA. His intense brutality on the battlefield earned him the nickname, Killmonger and creating a machine with no sense of pity or kindness. Ever since Erik found his father dead, his one primary mission is gain power to destroy any enemy that stands in his way.

     Zuri: An elder of Wakanda and counselor to the king, Zuri is gifted with wisdom and insight and holds intense loyalty to the royal family, most especially the former king, T'Chaka. However, his loyalty to the crown and T'Chaka holds serious and dangerous secrets that could be detrimental to everyone he loves.

     W'Kabi: T'Challa's best friend and the head of security from the Border Tribe. Protective of his people and his king, W'Kabi finds his loyalties tested when a would-be king takes over the throne.

     M'Baku: Leader of the Jabari, the mountain tribe of Wakanda, M'Baku is T'Challa's rival for king in the beginning. 

Princess Shuri and Queen Romanda, the Queen Mother
     Princess Shuri: T'Challa's brilliant little sister who knows how to keep her older brother in line. Lively and lovable, Shuri has an insatiable curiosity and desire to build and create. Also a strong fighter, Shuri is faithful to her family and her people and is fearless when it comes to fighting for both.

     Queen Ramonda: The gracious and proud queen and Wakanda who has raised a noble son and a strong daughter as well as serve her country with dignity. Beautiful and powerful, Romanda puts great trust and faith in T'Challa and knows that he will not fail his country or his father.

Nakia and Okoye
    Nakia: An undercover spy who knows how to hold her own in whatever capacity she finds herself in. Nakia is T'Challa's ex-girlfriend, but its obvious that the passion and love is still there, however she does not want to be queen and just sit on a throne. She has skills and talents and believes they can be best used serving her people and possibly other nations. 

    Okoye: The head of the Dora Milaje, an all female special forces, Okoye is one of the fiercest warriors in Wakanda. Calm and pragmatic, Okoye will defend and honor the throne regardless of who sits in it.

     This was a good MARVEL film that reminded me a great deal of The Avengers and Thor before they became so dark and complex. I was beginning to miss the simplicity and fun of MARVEL films, but Black Panther brought all that back, while still telling a serious story about coming of age and fighting for what is good. T'Challa is a wonderful example of a flawed but ever growing character. He may not always win his battles, but he stills stands tall and proud making his ending victories so much greater for himself and for his beloved Wakanda. 

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