Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White

I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve on the launch team for Roseanna White's latest book, A Song Unheard. A few months ago, I wrote about the first book in the series, A Name Unknown, which followed Rosemary as she attempted to steal a name from a man whose ties to Germany have made him the object of suspicion in a pre-World War 1 England.

In this book, we get to know Willa Forsythe, Rosemary's adopted sister. She is tasked with stealing a cipher from her favorite musician, a Belgian violinist whose father had been working on an important machine that could be used against the Germans. 

Will she be able to complete her task and continue to support her family?

Find out when you purchase the book on Amazon, available in ebook or paperback form!  ;-) Or, you can order directly from the author's website and receive a signed copy! 

You can read my review and thoughts about the book below. I hope it inspires you to read it for yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you will too.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone***

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

My must-have in any great story is multi-dimensional characters who undergo serious character development throughout the events of the story.  This book did not disappoint.  A Song Unheard was full of all the classic elements of a Roseanna White book: deep characters, beautiful descriptive language, humor, drama, and of course, characters and relationships who earn their happy ending after much character development.  Willa and Lukas both start out as flawed and hurt characters.  Willa, who was abandoned by both of her parents as a child, does not trust anyone outside of her adopted family of thieves. She has grown up poor, having to steal in order to survive.  Lukas, by contrast, comes from a loving family who has always supported him, but he has not fully appreciated their influence before.  He has lived the life of a famous musician socialite, going to parties, meeting beautiful women, and reveling in his fame.  He struggles with guilt over not being able to take care of his family, Willa struggles to trust anyone outside of her circle.  Both of them find refuge in music, and it was interesting to see the way it played into their personal journeys of faith.

This book had a great cast of supporting characters as well.  I enjoyed getting to read more about Barclay, the leader of Willa's family band of thieves.  He wore the roles of Big Brother and Protector very well and  I look forward to reading more of his story in Book 3!  Another character I hope to see more of is Margot.  I absolutely LOVED her character.  Some of the most hilarious and profound quotes in the book came from her and I hope she gets her own book someday.

The writing contains beautiful storytelling, intriguing characters, and a profound message of God's faithfulness and love.  Thank you, Roseanna White, for another great read!

Favorite quotes:
"Can a man compose a symphony without paying attention to each individual note? Can he put together an orchestra without caring about each musician in it? It's ridiculous to posit a Creator who stands back, unconcerned.  If we grant a God, we have to grant a complete God."

"But she heard music.  And for the first time in her life, she wondered if maybe...maybe this was what the Lord sounded like.  If He'd been whispering to her all along, all these years.  Little snippets of melodies she'd never quite caught."

"Peter said something before he left about God calling us, drawing us while we're still sinners.  And I wonder...I wonder if that's what He's been doing all along.  Calling us to Him.  To His work."

Final Thoughts:
I believe God finds ways of speaking to us in ways that are uniquely meaningful to us. I loved the way the author brought that out in the individual storylines of the characters. In Willa's and Lukas' storylines, He speaks to them through music. In Margot's story, He speaks to her through numbers and order. In my personal walk with God, I have heard His voice through stories and books. There have been times when I have been able to look back and make sense of events in my life by looking at them in the context of a story. His greater story. The question is not whether God speaks to us in any given moment. The question is whether or not we are willing to hear His voice, listen to His song, read His story. It brings to mind a quote from another great book, The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis:

" 'You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,' said the Lion."

May each of us be able to hear His voice calling to us, and be willing to answer back.

Discussion Questions:
Have you ever heard God speaking to you through your hobbies and passions?
What spiritual lessons have you learned, or can be drawn, by experiencing these different areas of interest?

Friday, January 5, 2018

First blog post of 2018

New Year's is always a time for reflection upon the previous year, and anticipation over the year to come. What will we accomplish in the new year? How will our lives change? Looking back on the old year, what did we accomplish, and how did our lives change? I ask these questions every year and I usually enjoy looking back on the old year and finding highlights. However, this year, I don't want to do that. While I have been ready for a new beginning before, I have never, in my memory, been so glad to be rid of an old year.

2017 was a beating.

It must be stated, for the sake of honesty, that there were plenty of good moments last year, that I will treasure forever. Plenty of defining moments that were significant and character developing.

In 2017:
Relationships were solidified
Bonds grew tighter
New life was made
Cities and organizations came together to help each other in a time of crisis
The impossible became reality
I experienced new places and experiences that both enriched my life and made me grow as a person.(Traveling to New York and Broadway, being in charge of auction and having to get it set up when my partner got sick, signing up for Medicaid and going to prenatal visits, seeing my son through an ultrasound, etc.)

I am (or will be) be grateful for 2017. For the good experiences as well as the trying times and the way I grew and am continuing to grow (albeit very reluctantly) as a result of them.

That said, I am SO glad 2017 is over with.

Also in 2017:
Dreams were crushed
Lives were turned upside down, shaken, not stirred, and set down to dizzily navigate a new path
Jobs were lost
Homes we lost
Locations were changed
Friends were separated
Goals were made and not met - both because I was unable to meet them and because I simply gave up
Matthew and I were separated for the better part of four months.

2017 was a yucky, yucky year and it has left me reeling and trying to find my bearings. I realize that, in perspective, my trials have been minor in comparison to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Harvey. I try to keep that in mind when I find myself wallowing in self-pity. I do not mean to downplay their trials, or make it seem as though mine are on the same par. This is my response and attempt to process my personal trials from last year.

Things are beginning to slow down now, but they will start spinning again in a month or less when my son is born. 2017 has forced me into a place where I have no choice but to take life one day at a time.

In 2018:
My son will be born.

That is both exciting and terrifying. That one event, in and of itself, is going to change my entire life...again. More about my feelings on that in another post.

Everything else new that may or may not happen seems to hinge on this one event, and it is the only thing I know for certain about this year. There are many changes ahead, most of which I cannot fully prepare for because each possibility hinges on another possibility that may or may not happen.

There are many things I would like to happen, but I have no way of knowing if they will at this point, and no way to make them happen. Honestly, last year has made me afraid to make plans, and the uncertainty of where (in any sense of the word) we will be in a year has made me hesitant to put down roots.

2018 is not without its difficulties, friends. But I know this:

I am ready to move past 2017 and let it stop defining my attitude on life.

I want this, but at the same time I feel crippled by this because I still have days when I am driving to work and I have to give myself a firm talking to in order to keep from crying at the unfairness of 2017. I would like to know for certain what will happen. What will happen with school? Jobs? Housing? Location? Also, Parenthood?! When will, how will, what will?

How can I move on with so many questions? I don't know that I fully can.

Regardless, my attitude needs to change.

There are many possible things that could happen in 2018, and just as many chances that something else will happen instead.

I have no way of knowing which combination of events will occur. But I know this, I need to give up my need to control the situation (because, let's face it, I have no control over my situation) and trust that God has a plan for me that will be way better than anything I can come up with.

In spite of all that has happened, He has not left me. He has made me uncomfortable and He has forced me to grow, and, I will be completely honest, I have not liked Him for it. I have been the angry teenager pouting in her room after losing an argument with her parents. Deep down I know they have my best interests in their heart, even though I don't see it right now. Eventually, I have to decide whether to continue fighting against them, accomplishing nothing but more misery, or relinquish my control and open myself up to the possibility that they know better than I do.

So here is my prayer for 2018:

Father, help me to give up control and open myself up to your will. Change my heart so that I will be happy to go wherever you lead me. Change my desires so that they line up with your will for my life. Take away my anxiety over the future, and replace it with hope and contentment. Thank you for always taking care of me and showing me in little and big ways how much you love me.