Monday, December 28, 2009

BOOK OF THE YEAR 2009: Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark

~*~Hey, everyone, to explain--my annual Book of the Year choice doesn't necessarily mean that the book was published in the year I write about it. It just means that I considered it the best book I'd read all year. Hope you guys pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did!~*~

Storyline: Anna Bailey is not her real name, and California is not her real home. She moved from Pennsylvania following a tragedy within the Amish community she lived close to. She hoped to never go back.

But her brother has disappeared, and his wife frantically calls Anna, unsure of who else to turn to. Anna finds herself embroiled in a tangle of DNA experiments, family secrets, and the loving arms of God's mercy as she fights for her life.

My Thoughts: Wow! Mindy Starns Clark may have had typos and grammatical errors in this book, but for the most part I easily overlooked them.

Four words: This. Book. Was. Amazing.

Yes, there were a few things in it I didn't like—one scene is a teen party involving underage drinking and marijuana among other things—however, there were drastic consequences for these actions and they are part of Anna's part that she regrets, which makes her redemption that much more moving.

The tense scenes where Anna tries to figure out what happened to her brother, plus all the interesting facts about DNA research and the Amish community, make this an enthralling read. It's not just a thrilling mystery, it's a science and history book too! Plus the twists she throws in it really knocked me for a loop!

Do yourself a favor—if you want to read a compelling, fast-paced read that is well-written, read this book. I can't recommend it enough!

Rating: Five out of five stars (I just bought it two days ago!)

Also by Mindy Starns Clark: Penny For Your Thoughts, Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels, Dime A Dozen, and The Buck Stops Here (The Million Dollar Mysteries); The Trouble With Tulip, Blind Dates Can Be Murder, and Elementary, My Dear Watkins (The Smart Chick Mysteries); Whispers of the Bayou and Under the Cajun Moon (stand-alones); and The House That Cleans Itself (housekeeping).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's a New Year!!

A fresh year, with some beautiful and amazing happenings to look forward to. I honestly can't believe that less than two months, I'll be married and on my way to Michigan with Justin. Yay! Proof positive that dreams can come true!

So, here's some things you can expect from Magical Ink in the next year:

*A new/fixed template: I don't know about you guys, but my header had been giving me fits. So I'll be revamping the blog early in the year if I have time. If not, next fall for sure.

*More focus on speculative fiction: This means I'll be reviewing more fantasy/sci-fi books, or those with a more fantasy-like twist to them. I'll most likely add in a thriller, suspense, or chicklit every now and then if I find one I really, really like and can't resist telling you guys about. But for the most part, prepare yourselves for some amazing tales of knights and dragons! :0)

*A blog series: I have several ideas for this, but I'm not sure which one I'll go with, so the name of the series is TBA.

*A hiatus in March: I'm not sure how long I'll be taking off of blogging in March--I'm guessing if I blog at all, it'll just be an update. :0)

*A new every-other-month Randomness post: You never know what you'll find! Funny quotes, youtube videos, stories, quizzes, surveys--you just never know!

And of course, I'll keep my regular posts too. Looking forward to the adventures of this new year!

~*~Inconveniences are only adventures wrongly considered~*~G.K. Chesterton

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas News

Hey everyone, I hope you're having an awesome Christmas season! I am! We had Christmas at my family's on Saturday and Christmas on Sunday with the Tituses. Lots of craziness! I've gotten about 5 pairs of fuzzy or otherwise fun socks--more "writing" socks! I think the best part of Christmas was watching Justin as he opened a gift at my house--one slipper. :0) (He got the other one the next day at Tituses.) I just couldn't resist!

Also, today's been a wonderful day because it's been one year since Justin and I started courting!!! It's been a good one-year anniversary today--and a good, wonderful, crazy year! I can't wait for March, because then it's going to be a good, wonderful, crazy life with Justin! I'm so thankful that it's only a couple more months! :0D

Livie's doing good, she had to get platelets today because her counts are so low. Please keep praying, her counts are pretty much zero and this is the most dangerous time for her right now. I'll keep everyone updated.

And finally...

~*~An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Svior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."~*~

I think that it's amazing that the shepherds told everyone they met about Jesus, who hadn't even died for our sins yet. That's faith! I hope to never get caught up in the wrong reasons for Christmas and to always remember what special event it signifies. As Linus says on A Charlie Brown Christmas, "And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Battle Is Almost Over...

...For Miss Olivia! Thank the Lord, she's done with chemo!!!

Olivia finished with her final chemo round yesterday afternoon and has been at home since! Yes!! I'm so glad for the Tituses. I'm so happy that after a hard, tough year, Olivia can finally be at home, rest, and enjoy being with her family. I'm glad that Tammy doesn't have to try to sleep in between nurses' rounds.

Please continue praying for them as Livie's immunity will go down--that they don't have any infections or sicknesses. Also, she has a bone marrow test in January that will check for luekemic cells, and if it comes back OK, then--Livie is done with cancer!!

Thanks so much for all your prayers this year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas of Classics 2009

To me, there are several tings that really enhance the Christmas season. One would be snow, of course, but we don't get a white Christmas very often in southwest Missouri. Maybe next year! (Although in Michigan, they consider it a "brown Christmas" if it's not snowing on Christmas Day.)


Another thing that makes me think of Christmas is curling up somewhere warm (preferably a fire) with a snuggly blanket, a mug of mint hot chocolate or chai tea, and a book--preferably an old book, with thick, yellow pages and that wonderful, musty smell. If you're like me, you wish that they made a perfume called "Old Book" or something! ;0)


So, to celebrate Christmas, every year I'm going to list some books that I enjoy and are my personal list of "classics". Some them really are considered classics, some (probably most) aren't, and some of them might not even fall into the "old books" category.




The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Lilith by George MacDonald

When a Man's a Man by Harold Bell Wright

Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright

Brewster's Millions by George Barr McCutcheon

Penrod by Booth Tarkington

A Common Life by Jan Karon


I encourage you to check out some of these books. Harold Bell Wright is little known, but some of his books are amazing!! And McCutcheon and Tarkington's books are both hilarious.


(As a side note, we got our Christmas tree up, finally! Yay!)


Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Something Old, Something New...

Hey everyone, sorry for not posing as usual on Monday. Our internet was having issues, as well as I was gone all day doing something very exciting--wedding gown shopping!!

I actually already found the one I'd wanted online (Beautifully Modest is an excellent site) but the closest store that carried those was in St Louis. So, my wonderful, sweet family made a day of it. We all got up bout 6 and packed everything but the kitchen sink into the Suburban and trundled up to St Louis.

Of course, Mom, Hannah, and I were close to squealing as I tried my dress on and Hannah tried on some bridesmaids dresses. Dad and Josh were slightly bored, especially since after my dress fitting and lunch, us girls decided to do--what else?--more shopping!! Not that we really found much...grr. Do designers have something against wearable long-sleeved shirts for a girl who doesn't like the misses styles but who can't wear juniors?!? Oh well...I guess it's back to layering and hoodies. :0)

So, I got to bring home my wedding dress and it's safely ensconced in a closet. I'd tell y'all more about it but Justin reads my blog. :0) I'm sooo excited!!!!! That makes it so very real to me that we do, indeed, have a set-in-stone date!

Other news: Olivia started chemo again today--the Final Round!!!! Who-hoo! As of this morning she's doing pretty good. Please keep praying fo her during this last round--just a little bit longer until Miss O doesn't have to go through this anymore!

And lastly, I'm so glad it's Christmastime! Finally, a chance to blast Christmas music to my heart's content without someone complaining! I love the Christmas season, I really do. Everything about it is wonderful, and I am so thankful that God gave us a beautiful reason to celebrate.

Merry Christmas!!


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