31 Jan 2015

The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy- Penelope Wilcock

 The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy- Penelope Wilcock 
Kindle Edition, 560 Pages
First Published January 2000, Crossway

"In a moment of decision, they will each face the truth of their own heart in God's presence
Tom must choose between the beautiful girl he loves and the call of God upon his life.

In utter despair and abandonment, Francis finds that Someone is already praying in his own dark Gethsemane. Never again will he need to hide his pain and insecurity behind a jest.

When James cannot escape the truth of who he is, waves of shame threaten to engulf him. He pours out his confession and grief to God and rises a newborn child of grace
They belonged to another century, yet their struggles are our own--finding our niche; coping with failure; living with impossible people; and changing when we realize that we are the impossible one. These humble seekers, called to live together in brotherhood, discover in the daily rhythm of their work and worship that the whole of life is a love story about a tender and passionate God. Rich with imagery and emotion, their tales depict love in action, and love given in the most trying of circumstances.

A collection of captivating tales that reflect the timeless human drama of learning to love and to accept God's grace"
A book I have had on my Kindle for years but only recently got around to actually reading. There are other stories set in and around Medieval Monasteries, like the Cadfael series, but the device of the stories of the individual monks, told by mother to daughter centuries later holds an interesting spin.

Covering a series of themes from friendship, to pride, forgiveness, despair, learning to live with difficult personalities, the ways in God may communicate with men, and the place of sometimes marginalized groups such as children and disabled people in the church, the first two stories in this collected trilogy (The Hawk and the Dove and The Long Fall) are worthwhile and sometimes though provoking reading.
The last story The Wounds of God breaks away from the family stories device, and tells the story directly from the perspective of Abbot Peregrine (the ‘Hawk’ from the title) and his young protégé Brother Tom, detailing the events and challenges posed by the ailing Abbot’s final debilitating illness, dealing with a difficult moral issue and drawing on the author’s own experience of Nursing Care to provide a sympathetic view of growing older, and a touching conclusion to the trilogy.

On a historical level, the stories seemed generally authentic- though some of the details in the last seemed to belong more to the modern period than the 14th century (I definitely don’t think they had wheelchairs of any description) and some of the language definitely was distinctly modern.
That said, Mrs Wilcock clearly knows her Latin Liturgy, and the important details of the workings of a Benedictine Monastery. I didn’t entirely agree with the theological conclusions or spiritual beliefs of all the characters all the time, but generally it seemed sound. Also there were some occasional uses of mild bad language, including a few instances of what may be seen today as taking God's name in vain- although I'm not sure it was always meant to be taken so in the historical context.

Overall, The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy was a satisfying and enjoyable set of stories. I look forward to the sequels, written over a decade after this trilogy and continuing the stories of some of the Brothers of St Alcuin’s Monastery, to be republished later this year.

17 Jan 2015

Forsooth, tis' a good year in Fiction!...

It isn't just me. There are a lot of Christian Fiction novels set in the Medieval Period releasing this year- proving perhaps the growing popularity of this setting within the genre. Most of the time, you're lucky to see one or two books set in the Middle Ages in a year, but in 2015 we have in roughly chronological order no fewer than eleven titles coming out....

 Rising to the Challenge: Comrades of Honor Trilogy # 3- Alicia A. Willis-  Late January 

"New difficulties arise for Sir Kenneth Dale in the exciting final installment in The Comrades of Honor Series. As a favorite of the Earl of Birmingham, his life appears tranquil – until the both beautiful Lady Clarissa and a headstrong orphan named Brion arrive in the castle. It is not long before Sir Kenneth finds himself not only in love, but also the master of the most difficult squire Birmingham has ever harbored.

Brion de Lantenac is nothing short of rebellious. Hatred for Sir Kenneth’s strict rules vents itself in constant disobedience, triggering continual clashes between himself and his new lord. But there is a reason behind his self-centered character. The murder of his family has caused heartbreak he may never recover from. Will he ever reveal his true identity to Sir Kenneth? And what about Guthrie, the man who sullied his father’s shire with treacherous hands and now seeks his demise?

Caught between a hopeless romance, a rebellious squire, and the enemies on all sides, Sir Kenneth finds himself challenged. Amidst battles, heartache, and dark mystery, he must somehow rise to meet the difficulties of his life with honor. Will he ever win his squire’s heart? Will he and Clarissa be forever separated?

Join Sir Kenneth, Brion, and all the comrades of honor in a tale of perseverance, chivalry, and unconditional love. Treachery abounds and evil seems insurmountable. Will rising to the challenge preserve honor and win the day?

I must read the second before even considering this one- ahem!  Moving on, there are two due out in Spring.

An Uncertain Choice- Jody Hedlund & Dauntless- Valiant Hears Series # 1- Dina Sleiman-        Early March

First of all, Jody Hedlund breaks into the YA Genre with her new Romance An Uncertain Choice due out on March 3rd Published by Zondervan.

"Due to her parents' promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father's enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents' will left a second choice. If Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights the one who appears the most guilty had not already captured her heart."
Personally, the characters on the cover look to much like pop-stars for my liking- but don't judge a book by its cover as they say!
It looks as though Bethany House are in competition, for on the very same day the first title in Dina Sleiman's new Medieval Trilogy is also due out entitled Dauntless. 

"Though once a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest," her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?"
Yes, the cover model does bear a resemblance to Kiera Knightley. The author tells me the cover was inspired by a pic from one of her early movies about the daughter of Robin Hood.

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest- Melanie Dickerson- May 12th

Yes indeedy, Melanie Dickerson's soon to come fairytale retelling, published by Thomas Nelson,  features another courageous female, forest dwelling archer in the leading role.

"Swan Lake" meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region's most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester.

Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave's game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave's game.

Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers?

The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?"

For the record: I seriously love the cover! I want that model if I ever do write that novel about Alfred the Great's Daughter who lead her army to victory against the Vikings, but that's another story.....

Oswald: Return of the King- Northumbrian Thrones Series #2- Edoardo Albert-  Lion Fiction

My next book does bear some resemblance to my literary fantasies- at least in terms of the setting in which London based author Edoardo Albert returns the reader to seventh- century Britain,  a land in which rulers sup in the hall with the fellowship of warriors, and an exiled Prince returns to the land of the birth, briefly leaves his mark on history, before stepping into the realm of legend. I know-that sounds corny- but Oswald: Return of the King does indeed tell the story of the early Seventh century King, who grew up in exile in Ireland, where he converted to Christianity, before returning to claim his inheritance- and bringing his new faith with him- the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. (Which basically consisted of most of of what is now  Northern England and parts of Southeastern Scotland). 

The release date has not been announced yet, but I'm certainly looking forward to this one (and like the fact that a Brit is making an impression in the Christian Fiction Genre).  For the curious, the title may indeed be an allusion to the Lord of the Rings, for it is said that Oswald may have been the inspiration for Tolkien's Aragorn....well he was Professor of Anglo-Saxon studies! 

Hawk and the Dove Series- Penelope Wilcock- February 2015-February 2016

UK based Lion Hudson (known is the US as Kregel I believe) are also republishing The seven titles of The Hawk and Dove Series by another Brit, Penelope Wilcock, between February of this year and next year. 

The series is set in a Benedictine Monastery in the Yorkshire Moors in the early fourteenth century, and chronicles the lives and struggles of the Brothers, and their formidable Abbot, Peregrine (the name means Hawk) whose life was indelibly changed when he was disabled in a terrible attack at the beginning of his Abbacy in Book One. 

I am currently reading an older version of the original three books, published by Crossway, and I'm enjoying it so far with its cast of memorable well-drawn characters, and their relevant, sometimes poignant and relatable spiritual journeys and struggles.The titles in the original Trilogy The Hawk and the Dove, The Wounds of God and The Long Fall are being Published individually in February.

The following three titles, The Hardest Thing to Do, The Hour Before Dawn and Remember Me are due for release in July.
Here's the synopsizes of the fourth and fifth books in the series....

"A leader is making his way home. A priory has been torched. And now an enemy is knocking at the door.

Prior William has caused a lot of pain in his time and is known for being an evil man. So when his own priory is burned to the ground and he seeks refuge with the brothers of St. Alcuin, everyone is quite uncomfortably surprised.

The newly installed Abbot John faces the first challenge of his leadership as the brothers debate about mercy and justice, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears in coming face-to-face with a real enemy. After all, is it not positively ludicrous to invite a wolf in to live with the sheep? Yet, where is the beauty of the gospel without the risk of its grace?

Penelope Wilcock takes us on an imaginative journey into a world rife with hostility and pain, exploring the complexities of grace, the difficulties of forgiveness, and the cautions of building trust. Her intimate knowledge of the human spirit will challenge our very own prejudices as we, along with her characters, are forced to ask ourselves, "What is the hardest thing to do, and will anyone actually do it?"

"An awful crime has been committed.

A leader is shaken to the core.

And together the brotherhood looks toward the dawn of restoration.

Abbot John never knew he could feel this way--utterly empty, dazed, breakable. The agony of his soul felt as though the whole of him were racked . . . stretched . . . stretched . . . stretched to breaking, to the brink of tearing apart. Having just learned of an unthinkable family tragedy, the enormity of pain was more than he could bear. How could this have happened? What could he possibly do?

As heartache and suffering linger like a cold, dark night, the brothers of St. Alcuin undertake the greatest task of nurturing the grace of God in their souls as they eagerly await the coming dawn of healing and hope.

The Hour before Dawn explores the aftermath of trauma--the space between suffering and restoration--helping readers understand the grieving process and nurture an attitude of understanding and kindness."

 ....and finally, in November, there is, if I am correct, another offering by Melanie Dickerson, so I guess that pushes the total up to Twelve.
So I this blog may be stuck in the Middle Ages for much of this year- somewhere between the seventh and fourteenth centuries, and generally in England, but with one or two forays into Germany. The question is-will I actually have the time to finish the books on my TBR pile and read most of these too?

13 Jan 2015

Cover Reveal: Desolate Mantle by L.K.Hill

I'm hosting here a cover reveal, at the request of the author L.K.Hill  for the soon to be released book, Desolate Mantle second in her Crime Thriller series Street Games.

Desolate Mantle (Street Games #2)
In the most dangerous city in the country, one controlled by the sadistic Sons of Ares gang, Kyra Roberts recently crossed paths with detective Gabe Nichols. She dismissed any liaison with him as impossible, but telling him the truth may prove inevitable...

Walking the Slip Mire nightly, dressed in her disguise and trying to infiltrate a homicidal gang, Kyra sees plenty of things she can’t explain. When she begins to suspect a serial killer might be at work, she decides to approach Gabe again.

Gabe has plenty to keep him busy: a bizarre missing persons case, a new development in his brother’s cold case, a new neighbor, and the grisly murders that are a nightly ritual in the Slip Mire. When Kyra shows up unexpectedly, he jumps at the chance keep her around, but it’s harder than he bargained for. She’s not an average source any more than she’s an average Mireling. Gabe wishes she would be sensible about her own safety.

Their partnership crumbles, but when things become even darker than usual in the Slip Mire, they’ll need one another get survive a hellish situation. If they can’t work together to shoulder their burdens, they’ll find themselves utterly alone. In Abstreuse, it’s not a matter of not coming out of the darkness, but of being absorbed by the darkness itself…
The book can be viewed on Goodreads at this link:

Desolate Mantle: Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21524034-desolate-mantle?ac=1 and the series even has its own Facebook page: facebook.com/streetgamesbooks

Bio and picture from Goodreads.com:
L.K. Hill is a novelist who writes across three genres. Her crime and historical fiction are written under her initials, L.K., while her scifi/fantasy and dystopian are written under her full name, Liesel K. Hill. She lives in northern Utah and comes from a large, tight-knit family. She plans to keep writing until they nail her coffin shut. Or the Second Coming happens. You know, whichever happens first.

Author Links:
Facebook – facebook.com/lkhillbooks
Twitter – twitter.com/lkhillbooks
Pinterest – pinterest.com/lkhillbooks
Google + - plus.google.com/+LieselHill
Goodreads – goodreads.com/lkhill
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