Sunday, November 25, 2018

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Magnolia Summer" by Melanie Dickerson

Book Summary (Goodreads)...Truett’s hometown needed a doctor, so after finishing medical school, he returned to Bethel Springs. Fighting a secret war with a corrupt lawman wasn’t in his plans, but Sheriff Suggs thinks he’s above the law and can lynch anyone who crosses him. When Suggs threatens his childhood friend, Truett dons a cape and hood and rescues him—placing “the Hooded Horseman” in Sheriff Suggs’s crosshairs. 

Celia Wilcox arrives in Bethel Springs, Alabama, in June of 1880. She’s come from Nashville to help her sister care for their younger siblings. She hopes only to be on the small farm for the summer, just until her mother recovers from the shock of Celia’s father’s death. She must return to Nashville to fulfill her dream of opening her own dress shop, especially now, to provide for her family. 

The lovely Celia catches Truett’s eye, and he finds himself wanting to impress her. But she flatly refuses to flirt with him or to fall for his—if he does say so himself—considerable charm. 

Celia’s growing attraction to the young Dr. Beverly terrifies her, and even if she could marry him, which she cannot, what will happen when Sheriff Suggs discovers Truett is the Hooded Horseman? Will Celia be able to prevent the sheriff from carrying out one last lynching? 

My thoughts.... Magnolia Summer has all the features of a good story: good character and plot development, interesting plot twists, and romantic tension. I love all of those things when I read a novel. This novel has an element that goes beyond your typical plot. I could sense it as I reading, but when I read the author's personal notes at the end it really spoke to me. It was the author's heart and motive that made this story special.
     I, like the author, am from the South. Unfortunately, there is a long history of racial tension and prejudice that continues on today. In this novel, the hero fights against injustice and brutal treatment of his African American friends and fellow members of his community. He does this even though his reputation could be damaged and he could face physical harm. His actions, along with the actions of several characters in the story, truly embody the verse in the Bible, "Greater love has no man than this, than he who would lay down his life for his friends." And for me, this is the beautiful theme of this novel. Showing love to our fellow brothers and sisters, no matter who they are, no matter the cost. This theme really moved me more than anything else in the novel. 
**I am thankful for a copy of this novel from the author and I was happy to give an honest review.**

Monday, November 12, 2018

Ellie Claire Art Journals Review!

I'm SO excited to have the opportunity to review three beautiful art journals from Ellie Claire and Worthy publishing! These journals combine a variety of art techniques that will appeal to beginner to advanced journalers. I'll begin with the "Illuminate Your Story" journal.

Here's a brief description from the Ellie Claire website:Use the almost-lost art of illuminating letters to enhance your writing, Bible journaling, or sermon note-taking. Rich illustrated manuscripts in the Museum of the Bible’s collection inspired these gorgeous letters. Easy to follow instructions, practice pages, and encouragements guide you through the creation of amazing start letters, flourishes, and more.

The beautiful cover is so inviting with its decorative lettering, foil embellishments, and bright colors. There is a band that goes around the outside to hold everything in and a band on the spine where you can put your favorite pen. I also loved the "Keepsakes" pocket attached to the back cover along with a built in ribbon bookmark.

I did find that the illuminated lettering is a little more challenging that just plain lettering, but this journal offers step by step instructions on how to do it. The end result is a piece of artwork in itself. It will definitely make your entries pop. There are plenty of pages to take notes, practice your letters, and they are thick enough that your pens will not bleed through. To do this practice page I used a .25 tip Illustrated Faith pen in black and Crayola twistable colored pencils.

Next is "The Illustrated Word" coloring journal. Here is the description: Create your own masterpiece with this journal that has forty glorious illustrations from ancient manuscripts that have been recreated as line drawings. Just as medieval monks brought Scripture to life through intricate inked illustrations in handwritten manuscripts hundreds of years ago, you can now create your own stunning keepsake that will be treasured for years to come.
This journal is perfect for all ages and abilities! What you'll find here are coloring pages with inspiring Scripture. Alongside the coloring pages are blank journal pages with unique picture inserts from ancient manuscripts. The cover is also beautiful like the previous journal, with gold foil embellishments, beautiful bright colors, and raised lettering that appeals to one's sense of touch. I personally liked the coloring pages with nature-type pictures as opposed to those with people, but all were very beautiful. The pages are thick enough that you can use your favorite pens, pencils, or markers to color and write. 
Last, but not least, is the "Faith and Lettering" journal. I love the fun doodles on the cover of this journal, which are raised with gold foil and bright colors, and give a slight 3-D feel. The Ellie Claire website gives some good info about it: New from professional letterer Krystal Whitten! With guides, instructions, and tutorials, this is a fun and inspiring way to create beauty with words. It is the perfect place for journalers to practice Bible journaling, lettering quotes and verses, or decorating a page with original thoughts and plans. Exploring your God-given creativity has never been so rewarding.

I have to admit...I really love this journal! I enjoy trying to write with different fonts and this book offers several different types with a lot of practice space. I used my Tombow ink pen with this font and had no trouble with bleeding. Not only are there a variety of fonts to practice, but several doodles, banners, arrows and other decorative images. Colorful illustrated Bible verses are also on the corners and sides of blank journal pages that you can write your thoughts on. 
If you like illustrating Bible verses but aren't sure how to do it, there are several verses that are written with various fonts and banners with a tracing section and practice sections. With lots of empty pages, you'll have plenty of places to practice. I also thought the "pro tips" were a nice touch. I'm the type of person that needs someone else's work to look at to get an idea of how to draw things. I really have a hard time coming up with my own designs. This book is perfect for that! On these doodles I used my .25 tip pen and, again, had no trouble with ink bleeding. 

These journals would make great Christmas gifts for yourself or your loved ones. There's a little something for everyone. I know I'm going to enjoy using these for many months and years to come. I appreciate Ellie Claire ( and Worthy Publishing for the opportunity to review these journals. You can order these straight from the Ellie Claire website...and you won't be disappointed!

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!