(Review) Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation by Dan B. Allender


Publisher and Publication Date: Baker Books. March 1, 2016. First published in 1989.
Genre: Nonfiction, sexual abuse.
Pages: 288.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.


The Allender Center

The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology-this link gives a bio on Allender

Further links for sexual abuse survivors:
Cecil Murphey, an adult male abuse survivor
Facebook page for Overcoming Sexual Abuse
Journey to Heal by Crystal Sutherland-website
Unchanging God-Changing You by Kristin Robinson-a Christian life coach
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology 

The back cover synopsis of the book states “millions of people” have “suffered abuse in the form of rape, incest, molestation,” and other forms. That statement is hard to grasp. It’s hard because a million abuse survivors is unconscionable. However, I now know I do not stand alone. One of the aspects of being abused is shame, but another is the feeling that I’m all alone in this horror. Shame causes isolation and this exacerbates the alone feeling. In 2015, I finally acknowledged, and aloud, that I had been sexually abused as a teenage girl. This began a pivotal moment in life. Counseling, journaling, reading books, and prayer helped. I even wrote anger letters, pouring my heart out on paper, vicious acerbic words, and then I shredded them. I have a good friend who said, “Annette it is like emptying your suitcase. Your suitcase is filled with memories both good and bad. You sort through those bad memories, working through them, and then you can remove them from the suitcase, it lightens the load, and you now have room for good memories in life.” Healing the Wounded Heart has been a strong tool in helping me recover. I want to clarify something about recovery. Sexual abuse harms not just the body but the soul. Working through what happened and forgiveness is necessary. However, I will spend a lifetime dealing with “other” elements that came from the abuse. For example: taking things personally, mistrust of men (the feeling that men want to abuse me), I don’t deserve a decent man, I don’t deserve anything good, and many others. I can intellectually say these are all lies, but it is the old patterns that are the hardest to break.
In Healing the Wounded Heart, Dan B. Allender, divides the book in two sections: “Part One The Wounded Heart,” “Part Two The Healing Path.”
I took ten pages of notes. I will point out a few strong points I liked.
In “Part One The Wounded Heart.”
•Chapter Two. This is a chapter to read again and again because it shows a goal of evil: lies and bondage.

The more freedom we gain from evil’s brutal lies, the clearer we will see how past events have been used to capture and kill parts of our heart. Evil is a killer that delights in taking life and destroying hope. It does so through mocking our sense of powerlessness to escape the harm that evil has inflicted. Page 39.

Page 42 follows up by saying, “Evil destroys.” This is a strong chapter telling what abuse survivors are up against. It is a necessary chapter even if it causes uncomfortableness, because evil does not want the survivor to talk about “it” or recover.
•Chapter Four talks about the “groomer” and what coercive techniques they use. I was groomed. He sought me out. I was his prey.
•Chapter Six addresses men who have been abused. Illustrations from the people in the men’s lives are shared. If you want to read another book that addresses men who have been abused I recommend: Not Quite Healed by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe. I read this book a few years ago and highly recommend it.
Part Two is the section titled, “The Healing Path.”
•Kindness, hospitality, gratitude, honest grieving, inviting God to mature us, the stages of the healing journey, and our lives both good and bad are “revelatory” are in this section.
Healing the Wounded Heart is a book to be read cover to cover and kept for reference. It is a strong tool in recovery.

A few profound quotes:

Sex has the power to touch the deepest dimension of what it means to be human and alive to God; therefore, it stands to reason that it is hated more than any other dimension of humanity by a kingdom that opposes the glory of God. There is a power that uses sexual violation as its choice means to turn the human heart away from the Creator. This opposition to beauty and innocence is at the core of all sexual harm. Page 31.

When a perpetrator uses tenderness and care as part of the dynamic with his or her victim, the victim loses the ability to separate delight and beauty from harm and evil. Page 76.

As simple as it may sound, love heals the heart and every dimension of life to which it flows. Page 153.

Gratitude is one of the strongest weapons against the work of evil. Page 161.

Remember a core principle: we change at the level we are willing to enter reality. Page 162.

This is a photo of me during this terrible time in my life. I’m smiling on the outside because it is my senior photograph. However, I was a broken young girl.

Image (120)

(Review) Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

prairie fires

Publisher and Publication Date: Metropolitan Books. November 21, 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography. Frontier and pioneer life.
Pages: 640.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the beloved children’s books: the Little House series. The following link is provided by Goodreads: the Little House Series list of 11 books.
The Little House series is some of the first chapter books I read. I devoured these books. I read each of them several times over the years, both as a child and an adult. When I was a young girl, Laura was an endearing book friend. I was happy to both read the books and watch the television show adaption.
As an adult, I knew Laura’s life held memories she had not told. I believe this is true of people. We share what we want people to know. The closer we are to someone, the more apt we are of expressing those memories that are painful. The younger generation of people are “out there” with sharing. Sharing via Facebook or Twitter private information. People of my parents generation and prior generations would be horrified at sharing personal stuff.
What captured my interest in reading this book is it’s promoted as a “comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Another reason for reading this book is I wanted to know about the relationship between Laura and her only child, Rose Wilder Lane.
While reading Prairie Fires, I was cautious of a biography that sensationalized the problems in Laura and Rose’s lives. I was not interested in reading a tabloid like expose. I’m pleased to state, Prairie Fires, is a solid history piece. Additional features of this book gave it even more credit. For example: the Indian Wars, agriculture in the Plains, western migration, the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and presidential elections. Just as Laura gave a look at a child’s life in pioneer America. Pioneer Fires gives a mature historical account of Laura and Rose living in America in the late nineteenth and early part of twentieth centuries. Laura and Rose are the key people, but the nation of America is a strong feature.
Prairie Fires is narrative nonfiction. Narrative nonfiction is a genre using a literary style. It is the opposite of an academic nonfiction genre.
Caroline Fraser used letters, diaries, manuscripts, newspaper articles, census deeds, loan papers, and handwritten drafts as research for Prairie Fires. The “Notes to Pages” section is 85 pages. The “Acknowledgement” section holds further research on writing the “chronology of Wilder’s life.”
Twenty-four black and white illustrations of Laura, Almanzo, Rose; and Laura’s parents and siblings are included.
A map of the Midwestern states show where Laura and her family lived.
The first paragraph in the “Introduction” pulled me in. Laura had gotten, “a telegram from South Dakota. Her mother, Caroline Ingalls, had just died. Wilder hadn’t seen her for more than twenty years.” I was shocked. I cannot imagine not having seen my mother for twenty years, and then finding out she’d died. I was perplexed. Why had they not seen each other in twenty years? Had something happened in their relationship? Was this common in families during this era, to rarely see family? Caroline Fraser answered my questions.
Through Prairie Fires I learned about the relationship between Laura and Almanzo. They were a true partnership.
I’d mentioned earlier in this review about the relationship between Laura and Rose. They had a complex and complicated mother and daughter relationship. It was just messy. At times, their relationship was volatile. Even though Fraser explains from various directions the messiness. To be frank, isn’t this often typical in families? Families are imperfect because people are imperfect. If you add other complexities like mental health issues, the relationships become more tangled. I feel Fraser handled this aspect of the book with truth and grace.
I applaud Caroline Fraser for writing this book. Bravo!

A review by Amy Brady, senior editor at Chicago Review of Books. This review appeared in the Dallas Morning News.
A Sympathetic Portrait of a Complicated Life

Further links of interest:
Little House on the Prairie-a documentary.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum


Almanzo and Laura Wilder, 1885.


Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968)

Links of interest:
Rose Wilder Lane
Herbert Hoover Library (site) for Rose Wilder Lane and Laura Ingalls Wilder. 
Photograph images from the Herbert Hoover Library. 
The State Historical Society of Iowa, info on the Rose Wilder Lane Papers. 

(Review) Egypt’s Sister: The Silent Years, A Novel of Cleopatra by Angela Hunt

Egypt's Sister

Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. 2017.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 379.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Bethany House. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Good.

Angela Hunt’s website


Chava is a Hebrew, and the daughter of a teacher in the royal Egyptian household. She is raised alongside another girl named Urbi. Urbi is a princess. When the girls are young they are inseparable. When they are older, and as events change in the life of Urbi, the dynamics of the relationship alter. Urbi’s name is later changed to Cleopatra. During Cleopatra’s reign, Chava is betrayed, sold, and sent to Rome. The story shifts to Chava’s survival in a faraway land.

My Thoughts:
The aspect I enjoyed the most in the book is the polar differences in the two women. Contrasting characters is a common way to tell a fictional story. Eventually the differences in the two people cause friction. And, friction causes an additional aspect. In the beginning, Chava and Urbi are close friends. They are as close as two girls can be, closer than sisters. But their bloodlines, heritage, and religious beliefs will eventually cause the two to have problems. Urbi or Cleopatra, becomes power driven; and out of a need to survive became a different person. I knew the historical story of Cleopatra. I was compelled to read the story because I wanted to know what would happen to Chava.
Chava is a character who evolves. Her true character begins to shine as the story progresses. Chava perseveres under great pressure and she blossoms.
The culture and society of Egypt is fascinating. Who and how they worship is interesting. The Roman culture and society, which I have read some history about, filled the later half of the book.
I don’t read Christian fiction often, but I did enjoy reading Egypt’s Sister. My favorite book by Angela Hunt (and it’s one of my favorite books overall) is Magdalene.
A series called Dangerous Beauty holds three books about women of the Bible, and they are written by Angela Hunt.
Esther: Royal Beauty Book One. I’ve read this book and gave a good rating.
Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty Book Two
Delilah: Treacherous Beauty Books Three




(Review) Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O’Connell

Two Journeys Home

Publisher and Publication Date: November 2017.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 310.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Kevin O’Connell. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Good.

It’s 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane begins, Eileen O’Connell avails herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland. In Two Journeys Home, the O’Connells encounter old faces and new—and their lives change forever.

Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teen aged widow but as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court. Before returning to Vienna she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict with the O’Connell clan.

Abigail lives not in the shadow of her sister but instead becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa.

Hugh O’Connell leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade under Louis XV. But more royal entanglement awaits him in France…

Author Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe and Protestant  Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the saga continues to unfold amongst the O’Connell’s, their friends and enemies, at home and abroad.

My Thoughts:
Two Journeys Home tells the history of Irish people in the courts of Austria and France. The male lead in the book is in the Brigade in these two European countries. This was an aspect of history I found interesting. It is also an interesting storyline, because the books I’ve read who have Irish characters are either in Ireland or they have emigrated to America.
Eileen is the female lead in the book. She is a strong character. Her stature and voice is remarked in terms of masculinity: a husky voice and broad shoulders. This is also an additional feature that is different in regards to books I’ve read where the female characters may have a strong personality but their size is petite.
The point of view in Two Journeys Home is third person. This is my least favorite way to tell a story. The external narrator tells me what is going on in every setting and with all the characters. As a result, I had a difficult time becoming swept up in the story.
I feel one of the intimate scenes in the book is verbose: “…highly athletic erotic experience both possessed, the night exploded in a dizzying blend of ….” Page 136. Just a few words expressing the wonder of the night is significant.
Overall, Two Journey’s Home is a readable story for historical fiction fans. For me, the point of view is not what I like, and this was the contributing factor in giving the story a good rating.

Kevin O'Connell

About The Author:
Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and the descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French Army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

An international business attorney, Mr. O’Connell is an alumnus of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

A lifelong personal and scholarly interest in the history of eighteenth-century Ireland, as well as that of his extended family, led O’Connell to create his first book, Beyond Derrynane, which will, together with Two Journeys Home and the two books to follow, comprise the Derrynane Saga.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Editorial Reviews:

O’Connell is a fantastic storyteller. His prose is so rich and beautiful it is a joy to read. The story is compelling and the characters memorable – all the more so because they are based on real people. . . I am Irish but I did not know about this piece of Irish history. It is fascinating but historical fiction at the same time . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers!

(c) Beth Nolan, Beth’s Book Nook

I enjoyed the first part of the Saga awhile back . . . (and) couldn’t wait to continue the story of Eileen and her family . . . this author really does have a way with words. The world and the characters are so vivid . . . Overall, I was hooked from page one. I honestly think that (Two Journeys Home) was better than (Beyond Derrynane) – which is rare. The characters and world-building was done in such a beautiful manner . . . I can’t wait for the next one . . .

(c) Carole Rae, Carole’s Sunday Review, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe . . . is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters . . . a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue . . . The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises . . .  great writing. Kevin O’Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive. I was delighted (by) . . . how he builds the setting, offering . . . powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time . . . The conflict is (as well-developed as the characters) and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward . . . an absorbing and intelligently-crafted historical novel . . . .

(c) Divine Zapa for Readers’ Favourite

Tour Schedule: Blog Stops (February 19th – 23rd)

February 19th

Spotlight  Layered Pages

February 20th

Guest Post –The Writing Desk

Guest Post – Blood Mother Blog

February 21th

Book Review – A Bookaholic Swede

Book Excerpt – Kate Braithwaite

Guest Post – A Literary Vacation

February 22nd

Interview & Review – Flashlight Commentary

Book Excerpt – Just One More Chapter

Book Review –Impressions In Ink

February 23rd

Book Review – Lock, Hooks and Books

Book Review – before the second sleep

March 5th –Tour Recap

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(Review) Song Of Praise for a Flower: One Woman’s Journey through China’s Tumultuous 20th Century by Fengxian Chu, contributor Charlene Chu


Publisher and Publication Date: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. November 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, autobiography.
Pages: 488.
Source: Complementary paperback copy from Charlene Chu and Author Marketing Expert. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

At this time, the book is free through Amazon Kindle Unlimited: Song of Praise for a Flower. 


Co-author Charlene Chu, Fengxian’s first cousin, grew up in the United States and wrote the English rendering of Song of Praise for a Flower. A financial analyst well-known for her work on China’s economy and financial sector, she is quoted widely in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Business Insider and other media outlets. She holds an MBA and MA in International Relations from Yale University. “Song of Praise for a Flower” is her first book. Charlene splits her time between Washington, DC and Hong Kong.


Back cover shares the summary of book.

Fengxian Chu is now 92 years old. She was born in the 1920’s and this is the start of the book. She began to write out the story of her life in 1989 and completed it in 1992. The manuscript waited for a reading audience until Charlene Chu, a cousin from America, came to visit Fengxian in hopes of finding historical information about her family. Charlene contributed to the book, making historical corrections or filling in the blank on certain events. The book is equal parts written by Fengxian and Charlene. Fengxian is the voice and topic of the story.

Several reasons led me to give Song of Praise for a Flower an excellent rating.

•A detailed life account of the narrator, in both the logistics of living in China during the 20th century, and her thoughts and feelings.

•A brief history of the Hunan Province, including the geography of the landscape. Later, Guangdong Province is less remarked on by way of a history or geography lesson; instead, it is shown in the daily life of the narrator.

•The society and culture in China is a huge overarching theme in the book. There is a lengthy list of various topics under the heading of society and culture but these are a few: foot binding with women, prejudice between the different provinces in China, communism, family saga, relationships between husbands and wives, relationships between parents and children, family history, education, poverty, gender equality versus feudal, and opium addiction.

•An intriguing aspect of the story is communism. Fengxian Chu has (I think this is the right word) “adapted” to communism. She believes in the Communist Party despite the horrors and abuse of the early years. She feels communism has been good for women. Charlene Chu addresses this issue in brief in the “Afterword” section.

•Over a period of years various reforms took impact in China. The Communist Party pushed agricultural reforms, anti-religious reforms, education reforms, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. All of these are explored in the book.

•Another interesting aspect of the story is the beliefs of luck, good fate or bad fate, good is rewarded and evil is punished.

Song of Praise for a Flower shows the remarkable life of Fengxian Chu. She represents Chinese women during this period who survived (and also died) during the horrors of the Japanese threat of 1930s and World War IIthe war between nationalists and communistscommunism, a changing society and culture, and extreme poverty.

“Now, in the final season of my life, I see that each of us is given only one chance at life. We must take advantage of every opportunity that life presents. For when we do not truly live, life loses its meaning.” Fengxian Chu.

pearl river

Pearl River in China