Tin Cottage Journal

Tin Cottage Journal

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Streams in the Desert - book review

Streams in the DesertStreams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Streams in the Desert is encouraging devotional reading compiled from a wide variety of sources by Mrs. Cowman. The readings range from anecdotal to prayer, all chosen to supply living water to thirsty souls.

Perhaps it is in some ways dated and not all the sentiments expressed reflect the views of generations who have a longer historical perspective on past events, but it's still a treasury of faith and comfort.

I particularly like the peek into the lives of believers who went before us, their struggles, victories and testimonies of courage and how God led and strengthened them.

We've had this book and its sequels in our home for decades. My mother and grandmother read this. My husband and I have been enriched by it.

Dive in! The water's fine.

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Monday, October 09, 2017

On the Beach - Book Review

On the BeachOn the Beach by Nevil Shute
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This review might be a spoiler. I consider it a warning.

In "On the Beach," Nevil Shute describes the last weeks in the land "down under," after the rest of the world has died following a nuclear halocaust. How they choose to spend their final days, facing certain death, is the primary focus.

I read this at age 12 and had recurring nightmares thereafter. In each one, a beloved cousin of mine and I suffered the horrifying symptoms described in the novel. Just as we slipped into death, the dream would start all over again!

No other book has had this kind of impact on me.

As you can see, as a teen, I read freely from the library offerings and the volumes found in the 2 for 1 used book shop.

Perhaps, rereading it as an adult might reveal concepts I overlooked at age 12.  I have no desire to so! 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

In Conversation With God

In Conversation with God: Complete Set v. 1-7: Meditations for Each Day of the YearIn Conversation with God: Complete Set v. 1-7: Meditations for Each Day of the Year by Francis Fernandez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this set is an ongoing process for me. It is a work meant to be read as part of daily prayer and meditation. The richness and depth of its spiritually nourishing content is not absorbable in mass quantity. It must be savored, pondered in one's heart and mind, accepted as a communion of bread and wine, to receive its refreshing and healing properties.

This set is on my "short list" of books and writers who have bottled and administer an infusion of living oil and wine. These range from strongly astringent to the tenderest of offerings. Their common factor is the revelation of Jesus to me, in my life, my own inner being, and in those I encounter along the way.

This list includes:

'My Utmost for His Highest' by Oswald Chambers
Anything by Henry Nouwen
and George MacDonald

There are a few others, but these rank highest on my "stranded on an island" reading material.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Smouldering Flame, Book Review

A Scottish Laird makes an inn of his castle in order to be able to afford to keep his family land. He is served and assisted by his loyal ghillie, whose family line have served the Laird's family for generations.
Among the groups of guests that stay in his castle, the Laird meets a woman and her young son who are hiding from her abusive ex-husband. The Laird and his lady guest become friends and fall in love, but circumstances complicate their path to romantic bliss.
Some reviewers express dismay at a twist in this tale of love and loyalty. In my opinion, that's what makes the book a genuine exploration of Scottish heritage and not just another pleasant romance novel. Though an avid fan, I've forgotten the story lines of several of Ms. Stevenson's books, but this one still tugs at me, years after I read it. I've been trying to find it for years.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Angel in the House

A childless couple, a failing toy factory, a troubled marriage,  and a door nobody opens set the stage for a mystery that will keep you guessing from start to finish. 

Who can slueth out this puzzle?  Enter Eli - a suit wearing, news watching, 7 year old foster child who sleeps with a teddy bear and calls a taxi when he decides to play hookie from school.  That just leaves one missing piece -  who is this pint sized cosmopolitan sage?  

"Angel in the House " is heartwarming and sweet, without a crumb of cheese.

"Angel in the House" deals with sensitive issues of grief, loss and disappointment with disarming delicacy and a mischievous grin.

This movie was first released under the title "Foster," then "Angel in the  House."  At one point, Netflix released it as "Christmas Angel in the House."

Netflix released it as "Christmas Angel in the House."

I streamed "Angel in the House," via Amazon Prime.

Rated PG for 1-2 uses of strong language and sensitive issues.

Photos used under Fair Use terms for the purpose of product review.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Syrian Wedding

A Syrian Wedding

by Nicholas Seeley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Za’atari by Moonlight

Eighteen year old Amneh and Mohammed, 22, could make beautiful music together if only they were living in the peaceful Syria where they grew up instead of the bleak and impoverished, Jordanian provided refugee camp, Za’atari.

If Za’atari by moonlight is more attractive than sunlit Za’atari, it is only because the darkness hides the harsh realities of makeshift shelters, community toilets and the publicly visible clotheslines that typify the loss of privacy and dignity the refugees lost when bombs and gunfire drove them from their Syrian home.

The primary question the refugees all face is, " Shall we do our best to get on with our "normal" lives, or is "normal" only something we left behind and hope to return to someday? How a family answers that question determines whether they pursue education, business, or social connections or defer the major events and accomplishments that make up life: preparing for the future, schooling, career preparation, building relationships, marriage and childbirth.

Amneh's and Mohammed's families decide they have delayed their marriage long enough. They face the fact that they will not have the extended, extravagant festivities they so enjoy, and rent a lovely wedding dress from the ramshackle bridal shop and make plans to prepare the best meal they can on their one-burner camp stove.

I couldn't help but think of Fiddler on the Roof and Anne Frank as I read this documentary account of Syrian life in a refugee camp. Their Jordanian benefactors offer basic shelter, and donations from other nations provide the minimum allowance of calories needed to maintain life. But, as the Za’atarian villagers know, "normal" is a relative term and truly, "There is no place like home."

I didn't give this book a 5 star rating to measure it's enjoyment factor. Three stars given for how interesting it is, and 1 star is to indicate the importance of its message. The 5th star is a medal of honor for the courage and strength it takes for these people to persevere. They deserve far more, but like resources in Za’atari, those are all the stars I have.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's January of 1946.  World War 2 is over, but young Juliet Ashton, like all Londoners, is attempting to emerge from the ruins and begin life anew.

As she searches for a topic for her next book, she receives a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams, living on the British Isle of Guernsey,  requesting that she find and order a particular book for him

Guernsey had been occupied by the Germans and, unable to get any supplies, the people had, in desperation, burned the books in the town bookshop as fuel to keep from freezing to death.  Dawsey made mention of their literary society, which sparked a correspondence between him and Juliet, in which he attempted to satisfy her curiosity about the a paradoxical existence of such an organization on a book poor island.

Juliet, entranced by the poignant and humorous tales of the occupied islanders, decides to write their story, so she leaves the rubbles of London behind and relocates to Guernsey.  There, she embraces the griefs, grit and gifts of the eclectic, indomitable people who will change her life forever.

Once I remembered to carefully note the writer and receiver of each  letter or telegram, I was able to immerse myself in the story.

As Juliet is the primary protagonist and the most frequent writer and receiver of the messages, I slipped into her chair, sipped her tea  and reveled in the struggles, mysteries, and triumphs of Guernsey from behind her eyes.  Like Juliet, I fell in love .

Whenever Juliet was not privy to the facts, I became a nosy postmistress, steaming envelopes open and entertaining myself with the secrets and drama of Guernsey's citizens, then innocently resealing them. What fun, as the reader, to know the thoughts, desires and intentions of each character, while each character knows only that which or she has personally observed or had confided in them.

How I wish I could be a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Even Potato Peel Pie might be digestible among such a hardy, supportive group of survivors.