Costa Rica Update March 28/17

Here’s the update from Tuesday on my other blog, On the Road with Ms. M. The countdown will be a bit off but other than that, this is what’s been going on this past week in preparation for Costa Rica. Enjoy my Sunday Reblog!

On The Road with Ms. M.

So much to do — so little time left.  The excitement is mounting.  I’m still gathering items I need to take with me, still trying to learn more Spanish, and still fund-raising.  Several of my teammates on Facebook are still short of funds as well and it all needs to be in place by the 5th of April so please keep praying for all these things.

I still have one shot to get and the anti-diarrhea medication to begin drinking next Wednesday.  Yikes! We leave 3 weeks from tomorrow!!  Just got a medical form to fill out, completed my background check application, and have to figure out how to get 25 frisbees on the plane.  Oh yeah, I’ll have to go soon to the currency exchange to get some USD for the trip.

There should be a package coming in the mail any day now with my Operation Christmas…

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The Magdalene Scrolls by Barbara Wood

The Magdalene Scrolls (1978) is an historical fiction novel I’ve been wanting to read for quite a while — partly because of the lure of ancient scrolls themselves and partly because of the idea of archaeology uncovering ancient things and what they reveal of the past.  You might think at first glance that this novel would have something to do with Mary Magdalene but the only connection is that the dig is in Khirbet Migdal and that the author of the scrolls, David ben Jonah, would have called the town Magdala as he was writing the scrolls in the 1st century AD.  Ben Jonah had been an extremely pious Jew and became associated with a group called Nazarenes — followers of Jesus the Nazarene.

When Ben Messer, paleographer, professor of Near Eastern studies at UCLA, and son of a rabbi, receives the first scroll discovered by archaeologist Dr. John Weatherby, he is excited to say the least.  First, the scroll was written in Aramaic with the odd phrase in Hebrew, and second, it was being written by an ordinary but well-educated Jew.  This was not a religious text but the story of the life of David ben Jonah, a life anticipating its end and willing, no, compelled, to unburden its guilt in a confession to his son who he hopes will find the scrolls, understand and forgive.

Ben has long ago left his Jewish heritage behind.  Traumatized as a child by neighbourhood goyim for being a “killer of Jesus” as well as by his mother’s stories of Majdanek concentration camp where she had watched Ben’s father buried alive by the Nazis, Ben turned his back on everything Jewish after his mother’s death and left New York for California.  However, his Jewishness returns to haunt him and as he reads the story of David ben Jonah, a devout Jew who trained to be a rabbi then disgraced himself one evening after drinking too much and is forced to leave his studies in shame, the story begins to mesmerize him.  As the scrolls come one or two at a time, days apart, as they are uncovered on the other side of the world, Ben can’t sleep, can’t eat, quarrels with his fiancé, and begins to lose his grip on reality.  He takes on David’s limp, begins wearing sandals, and, at times, believes he is David ben Jonah.  In fact, if it weren’t for a keen student from his Ancient and Modern Hebrew class, he might not survive the kind of “mind-melding” that occurs as he absorbs the culture and pathos of David’s Jerusalem.

One of Barbara Wood‘s 1st published novels, this is an amazing combination of two stories, past and present, that delve into the human psyche, the role of religion in man’s attempt to understand his own humanity, and the indelible mark man’s inhumanity can leave on the heart and mind of an individual. It shows how facing the past can bring some resolution and a sense of peace.  The characters are at once familiar yet larger than life; the atmosphere of ancient Jerusalem, its temples, its markets, embrace the reader as it embraces the characters in this novel.  It is a complicated journey that leaves the reader with a slight sense of discomfort as well as wonder and is well worth the read.  * * * * *

Posted in Adult Book, Historical Fiction, Letters/Epistolary, Opinion, Romance | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cozy Read Wednesday: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café by Max Lucado with Eric Newman & Candace Lee

Today’s Cozy Read, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café, is written by Max Lucado, a New York Times best-selling author whose themes are usually based in Christian/spiritual searching, along with Eric Newman and Candace Lee.  The title has several implications and the subtitle says this is ‘A Heavenly Novel’.

This story won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  Or should I say coffee.  Not everyone believes in guardian angels.  But if you like either version of that great Christmas movie The Bishop’s Wife you’ll probably enjoy this story — it is light-hearted, sincere, funny, poignant, and refreshing.  Got questions you’d like to ask God?  Ever thought He might answer them on His own blog?  Well, in this story He does!

Chelsea has inherited the Higher Grounds Café from her mother.  Occupying the ground floor of a Victorian house in one of San Antonio’s older neighbourhoods where the streets are lined with shady trees and the atmosphere is quiet and charming, the café is a tradition that goes back three generations.  This is a fresh start for Chelsea who has separated from her over-the-hill NFL superstar husband, Sawyer Chambers, who has been trying to compensate for his lost status with foolish investments, extravagant spending, and philandering.  So with her two young children, Hancock (12) and Emily (6), an unimpressive barista named Tim, and a general make-over for the café, Chelsea is about to re-open for business.  She expects it might be an uphill battle but little does she know how uphill it will be or how close she will come to giving up her dream.

Enter Samuel.  Samuel is an angel on his first solo mission and an ambitious plan to help Chelsea.  The catch is, Chelsea has to ask for help.  When helper Tim doesn’t show up to work one morning, enter Manny — clumsy, friendly, trustworthy, and handy at fixing the espresso machine.  Well he should be all those things — he’s an angel.  Right away, things start happening and not all of them good but Chelsea does ask for help.  She gets some help from her sister Sara and her minister husband Tony as well as from an old schoolmate, Deb, but mostly it’s Manny (Samuel) running interference for her with a host of heavenly helpers.

This is a great story, well told, and full of surprises.  The characters are believable, the blog responses right on, and God does work in mysterious ways.  A fast, thoroughly enjoyable read.  * * * *

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cozyreadwedCozy Read Wednesday is a recent meme hosted by Ms. M’s Bookshelf.  No list of rules — just leave a comment with a link to your Cozy Read published on Wednesday, mention that Ms M is hosting the meme, and feel free to use the Cozy Read Wednesday icon on your site.  I look forward to reading your recommendations.

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First Chapter, First Paragraph & Teaser Tuesday: Becoming Queen by Kate Williams

First Chapter, First Paragraph, is a meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  Anyone can play — just copy the first paragraph of the first chapter (or prologue) and include a picture of the book cover. Leave your link at Bibliophile by the Sea.  The book I’m hoping to start soon is, Becoming Queen by Kate Williams, the history of Queen Victoria.  Here is the beginning of Chapter 1:

‘The most distressing feelings of my heart’

The Prince of Wales was drunk.  It was his wedding day, he was disgusted by his bride, and he was the most inebriated he had ever been outside of a brothel. He was in debt to the tune of over £500,000, and the only way to settle his obligations was to marry. But he was shocked by the ugliness of his bride-to-be, Caroline of Brunswick, and thought she smelt like a peasant. In the overheated, overdecorated Chapel Royal, the Prince gritted his teeth, took another swig of porter, and tried to focus his mind on the showers of money he would receive.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, now being hosted by Ambrosia of  The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  So, from the same book:

from the introduction . . .

The idea of Victoria, young, fresh, liberal, and seemingly concerned with the plight of her people, kept the British hopeful throughout the largely appalling reigns of George IV and William IV . . .

Had the next king after William been his brother, the universally detested Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, a notorious blackguard suspected of blackmail, incest, and murder, then the fate of the monarchy might have been spectacularly different.

This will make a timely read given the TV series and a real change from previous movies which often depicted an older queen, focusing on her foibles and possible indiscretions.  What do you think?  Have you read it?  Would you read it based on the beginning and the quotes?  Leave a comment and a link to your First Chapter, First Paragraph and Teaser Tuesday post.

Posted in Adult Book, History, Meme, Non-fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Costa Rica Update March 21/17

Three and a half weeks to Costa Rica. Here’s my Tuesday Update on my Sunday Reblog! Hope you are following along.  Enjoy!

On The Road with Ms. M.

Hola! Exactly 5 weeks tomorrow and I will be on my way to Nicoya, Costa Rica.  The team members are on a closed Facebook group, meeting, sharing ideas, praying about the trip, and getting very excited.  There are young singles, couples, older singles (like me) and even families coming on the trip.  There are lots of tips about what to pack and how to pack, as well as ideas of crafts to bring to make with the children we meet.

There are several songs we need to learn in Spanish and we’ve been pointed to an amazing online program called Duolingo.  (It can also be downloaded to an iPhone or iPad.)  I’m spending about an hour a day practicing Central American Spanish so that I will be able to communicate at least a little with the people we meet while we’re there.  Please pray for my ability to learn…

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First Chapter, First Paragraph & Teaser Tuesday: The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

First Chapter, First Paragraph, is a meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  Anyone can play — just copy the first paragraph of the first chapter (or prologue) and include a picture of the book cover. Leave your link at Bibliophile by the Sea.  The book I’m dying to start is by a contemporary author I’ve grown to truly appreciate in the last few years, Paulette Mahurin both because of her writing and her impeccable research.  So, here is the opening from her book, The Seven Year Dress:

Prologue  — Present Day

I was looking to rent a room. She was looking for family. I needed a place to live. She needed to fill an empty void in her heart. But it would take me a few weeks to realize the role I was to play in her life.

 

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, now being hosted by Ambrosia of  The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  So, from the same novel:

I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and was sickened when I overheard a conversation between two teachers in my school. In the hallway on my way from class to recess, I passed an open door and heard something about Hitler. Curious, I leaned against a wall and pretended to fix my shoe, and listened. (p.35)

Would you keep reading? Have you read this book already? Have you read other books by Mahurin? Share your thoughts and leave a link to your teaser.

 

Posted in Adult Book, Historical Fiction, Meme | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Costa Rica Update March 14/17

Last week I reblogged from my own travel site the exciting news about my upcoming mission trip to Costa Rica for Operation Christmas Child. From now until I leave on April 19th, I’ll be doing updates on that site and reblogging those updates on Sunday here at Ms. M’s Bookshelf. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about the preparations and will follow my posts there when I’m on the trip. So this is the latest news on my Sunday Reblog!

On The Road with Ms. M.

Prayers have been answered and Operation Christmas Child – Costa Rica now has enough volunteers to make it a “go”!  The transportation is all in place and excitement is rising.  The volunteers have received their orientation packages and before long our T-shirts will be in the mail with our flight tickets to follow.

Our itinerary tells us we will be flying into Liberia, Costa Rica, and from there moving into the Nicoya Peninsula which is in the north-west of the country.  In addition to the shoeboxes collected last December, we will be distributing wheel chairs and Toms shoes which I hadn’t realized before.  We will also be attending/assisting with several graduations of children from The Greatest Journey program.

I have only a little bit of Spanish so I’m trying to brush up on it and learn the correct Spanish for Costa Rica.  There is still so much to do.  I…

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