“The Runaway Bride” Book Review

I’ve been a Jody Hedlund fan for some time now, and I was thrilled to receive a copy of her newest book The Runaway Bride to read and review before its release. This is the second book in her Bride Ships series. You can click here to read my review of the first book, A Reluctant Bride.

England in the 1860s was not a good place to find a husband. By the early part of the decade, there were about 600,000 more women than men living in the country. And when employment options are limited, especially for women of noble birth, and marriageable men are hard to come by a 25-year-old spinster doesn’t have many options. Especially when her stepmother wants her out of the house. That’s the situation Arabella Lawrence finds herself in when she agrees to marry her father’s employer. The man is old enough to be her grandfather, and he turns out to be anything but gentlemanly.

Fleeing what would certainly be an abusive marriage, she takes passage in one of the Columbia Mission Society’s bride ships bound for Vancouver Island and British Columbia, where men outnumber women approximately 10 to 1. Their need for respectable, Christian wives is Arabella’s chance at a new beginning. Upon arriving, she instantly attracts suitors with her compassion, charm, and fiery red hair. The most persistent are two very different men — Lieutenant Richard Drummond, a gentleman and naval officer, and Peter Kelly, the local baker. Read more

Book Review: Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage by Curt Landry

Back in February, I read an article on Bible Gateway interviewing Curt Landry about his new book Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage: How Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity Can Transform Your Faith. As a Messianic believer, I was excited that a book about appreciating the Jewish roots of our faith was being released by a mainstream Christian publisher like Thomas Nelson.

I didn’t get to read the book until recently because I was distracted by other new releases, some of which I had advance reader copies to review, and I was waiting for a library to buy it. I finally got a copy through an inter-library loan program and eagerly sat down to read. Unfortunately, while this book contains some really good content, I felt like it was too much about Curt Landry and not enough about its stated purpose of helping people understand how the Jewish roots of Christianity can transform their faith.

Our Forgotten Heritage

When Jesus arrived here on earth (or Yeshua, to use His Hebrew name), He didn’t come to bring a new religion. Yeshua came as the next stage in God’s plan which He’d laid out from the foundation of the world. What we now call Christianity has its roots in the faith of the ancient Israeli people and the Jews of Jesus’ time. Though this phrasing is mine, this is one of the main arguments of Landry’s book and it’s the part I found most fascinating.

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Why Fiction Matters: Can Reading Make You A Better Person?

Most people who I spend lots of time with are readers. We tend to gravitate toward each other, I suppose, drawn together in part by a mutual love of books. But I also encounter quite a few people who wonder what’s the point of all this reading, especially if it’s fiction. “Do you really want to write/read a book full of lies?” one might ask. Or another may say, “Why bother reading stories? It’s just escapism.”

We all need a bit of escape from reality now and then, and I’d say fiction is one of the healthiest ways to do that. And, as many writers have pointed out, these books full of “lies” are actually one of the most effective vehicles for truth-telling. Those are both excellent reasons to read and write stories, but for today’s post I want to focus on another reason that numerous studies have been looking at since 2013. Reading fiction can actually make you a better person.

Why Fiction Matters: Can Reading Make You A Better Person? | LikeAnAnchor.com
Photo credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay

Theory of Mind and Fiction

Back in 2013, a study in the journal Science by David Kidd and Emmanuele Castano suggested that reading “literary” short stories immediately improved participants’ scores on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). This test asks people to look at photographs of actors’ eyes and select one of four states of mind the picture conveys. It’s designed to measure “theory of mind,” which is the ability to attribute mental states to yourself and to others, as well as recognize others have distinct beliefs, desires, intentions, etc. from your own.

The media tends to embellish their reports on scientific studies, so it’s no surprise many popular news outlets said this study proved fiction can increase your empathy. That’s not exactly what the study measured, though, and a subsequent study in 2016 failed to replicate the original’s results. The new study did, however, find that “People who were lifelong readers of fiction … had significantly higher scores on the RMET.” Read more

Mermaids and Mental Health: Book Review of “Coral” by Sara Ella

I love stories about mermaids. I also love well-written stories that deal with mental health issues, so I was excited to receive an advance reader copy of Coral by Sara Ella through NetGalley. To quote the Goodreads description, “Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.”

Coral is a story told from three perspectives. Coral, the mermaid who doesn’t fit in with her family and fears she has been infected with the Disease that causes mermaids to feel human emotions. Brook, a young woman whose struggle with anxiety and depression have brought her to Fathoms, a group therapy home she doubts will help her find any point in living. And Merrick, who wants to escape his controlling father and finally reaches his breaking point when his mother disappears after his younger sister attempts suicide.

A note on mental illness in Coral

On the topic of suicide, I think it’s time to bring up trigger warnings for this book. The author says in a note at the beginning of this book that “Potential triggers include suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and unwanted/non-consensual advances.” The author approaches mental health issues in a sensitive, caring way. She did extensive research, got feedback from sensitivity readers, and used her own personal experiences when writing this book. Read more

7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFJ

What fictional characters do you relate to as an INFJ?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are INFJs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life INFJs will find relatable.

One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional INFJs can serve as examples for what real-life INFJs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

The things that makes INFJs such great fictional characters are some of the same things that make them such interesting people. Though the rarest personality type on the planet, INFJs are fairly common in fiction. They’re thoughtful, introspective characters with a unique way of looking at the world and a keen interest in other people.

Alyosha Karamazov

It’s fascinating to read the narrator of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov discuss the story’s hero Alexi Karamazov (more often called by his nickname Alyosha/Alesha). He spends most of the introduction apologizing for presenting readers with such an unusual hero. “He is by no means a great man,” the narrator explains, but he is doubtless “a strange man, even an odd one.” He was strange “from the cradle,” growing up a quiet child preoccupied by something inside him while at the same time loving people. I’m sure many INFJs can relate to that in their own childhoods — liking other people but being too preoccupied by their inner worlds to be considered sociable.

As the story progresses, we see Alyosha dreads conflict with a loathing that I think all INFJs (and the other FJ types as well) can relate to. We see him weeping when others are hurt, displaying the empathy that’s so much a part of real-life INFJs. We see him make social blunders in an effort to make everyone happy and at peace, all with an INFJ’s insistence on working toward harmony in all situations. Like so many INFJs, he’s sensitive, emotional, indecisive on certain things (though quite decisive in others), and isn’t afraid to appear weak so long as he’s being true to his beliefs. Read more

“Foremost” Book Review — A new Fairy Tale Story from Jody Hedlund

A second princess, another key to the treasure, and a cruel king desperate to squelch the growing rebellion.

If you’re looking for a wholesome and sweetly romantic series for your teens and young adults (or yourself — there’s no age limit!) then you’ll want to check out Jody Hedlund’s new Lost Princesses fairy tale series. The series started with prequel novella Always and novel Evermore, and now it continues with Foremost.

  • Mild spoiler warning: I’m not going to disclose any major plot points but if you don’t want to know anything about the plot and character relationships before reading this book then you’ll want to skip my post for now.

The story of Foremost

Raised in an isolated abbey, Lady Maribel desires nothing more than to become a nun and continue practicing her healing arts. She knows nothing outside her cloistered world but that doesn’t bother her much. She has all the friends she needs in the nuns, their protector Wade, and her fellow orphans Edmund and Collette. Sure she feels trapped sometimes and longs for a little adventure before settling down, but she does intend to take her vows and settle into life as a nun.

Adventure finds her with the arrival of an unexpected visitor who reveals Maribel’s true identity as one of the three lost princesses. With wicked King Ethelwulf’s soldiers hunting her, Maribel must leave the abbey and travel to join her sister, Queen Adelaide Constance. Edmund goes with her as her protector, hoping and praying she won’t discover that he loves her as far more than an adopted sister. He will not stand in the way of her dreams to become a nun and a healer, no matter what it costs him. Read more