Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Messenger by Siri Mitchell - a book review

I haven't read many books set in the time of our Revolutionary War, so when this book came up for review, I was really looking forward to reading it.  I've heard alot about how prisoners were treated in the war prisons during the Civil War but  I never heard much about those in the Revolutionary War.  This book is a real eye opener!  It highlights a group of people know as The Friends or Quakers, and how they tried to remain passive, at all costs. Many were arrested beccause they would not pledge allegiance to a certain side. However, there were a few who decided to support the cause of freedom and suffered greatly for it.  I also had never really considered how the spy network worked in those times.  This book provides some insight into that.

The book is written from two points of views, Hannah, the young Quaker, and Jeremiah, a Colonial spy.  The chapters alternate between the two characters and it took me a little while to get into the rythym of that.

From the publisher's website:
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith... until her twin brother joined the Colonial cause and ended up in jail. She longs to bring some measure of comfort to him in the squalid prison, but her faith forbids it. The Friends believe that they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. She is not allowed to visit him, even if she were able to secure a pass.

Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, needs access to the jail to help rescue men important to the cause. Upon meeting Hannah, a plan begins to develop. Who would suspect a pious Quaker visiting a loved one?

But Jeremiah is unprepared for Hannah, for her determination to do right, to not lie. How can one be a spy and not lie? Hannah, in turn, is surprised by Jeremiah... for the way he forces her to confront her own beliefs, for the sensitivity and concern that he shows her despite the wounds he still carries.

In a time of war, can two unlikely heroes find the courage to act?

Hannah struggles with being torn between her faith, love of her brother and her growing attraction to Jeremiah.  She tried very hard to do what she feels she has to do while still obeying her faith's teachings.  Jeremiah, on the other hand has no such scruples.  He does what needs to be done without much concern for anyone else, until he meets Hannah.  Jeremiah has emotional hindrances and a physical handicap that has prevented him from forming attachments to anyone, until Hannah.  There are several other characters and circumstances that the author delves into. The practice of slavery is one of them.  The Quakers were anti-slavery, but in the aftermath of losing their home, Hannah and her family must stay with other family members who own slaves.  This doesn't sit well with Hannah's father and his protestations cause more difficulties for the 'enslaved ones', rather than help their cause.

I found myself not wanting to put this book down.  However, when the end finally came, I was disappointed.  It seem abrupt and a big let down. 

Read an expert HERE.

There ia a very interesting note from the author regarding the history of the Revolutionary War and another one on the Quakers. The author also includes some discussion questions for reading groups.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Road Trip

     We just returned from a very special road trip.  Our oldest daughter and her soldier husband were just blessed with a new baby girl, from now on to be referred to as "the little peanut" or just "peanut".  We drove because, unless it's absolutely crucial, I don't fly.  Hate it!  It's not the actual flying that I don't like.  It's all the rigamaroll beforehand and the chaos of the airport that freaks me out.  Connecting flights, late flights, missed flights, rescheduled flights..... Bleh ! So, we drive,  or I should say, my husband drives. I ride, and if I must say, I'm good at it!  My husband doesn't like to read road signs, so my 'job' is to keep him informed of speed changes, exits, etc. This trip I had an added responsibility.  I was the official tire kicker. 
     Let me explain.....  Before we head out on one of these trips from the north to the south, through the mountains, we always have the car checked out, particularly, the brakes.  The report from the garage was positive - all systems go!  So, as is our usual tradition, we started out much later than I had planned - HOURS later -already I'm little cranky. We drove about 1.5 hours and then we noticed it.  The front passenger tire - squeak, squeak, squeak, and then a loud hum.  My husband pulled over.  We got out and P.U. It smelled bad!  So my husband did the only thing we could think of,  he kicked it! IT worked!!!  I held my breath, said a prayer and we continued on, after all, this was an important trip and could not be put off.  It was to happen about 6 more times on our trip. Sometimes my husband would just hit the rumble strips and it would stop, other times I got to give it a good kick. It was actually good therapy because I hate it when I think something's been fixed and it's not. I get a little grumpy. I don't like spending money for something and feeling like I wasted it,  Anyway...God was gracious and we made it there and back with no car breakdowns. 
     After driving about 8 hours, we stopped for the night at a place we'e stayed before, America's Best Value by Best Western in Beckly W Va.  ALL the non-smoking rooms were taken.  We were tired, so we took a smoking room.  It wasn't bad after the initial p.u. of smoke smell.  The clerk generously gave me the ---------- discount (I was so tired, I didn't even care what it was called). So, we find our room, open the door (p.u.) and schlep our bags in.  My husband immediately crawls into bed.  I make my way to check out the bathroom. I don't care if there is a hairdryer, microwave, iron, etc.  I do care if the bathroom is clean.  It was, thankfully.  Remember what I said about me not liking to feel like I've wasted money?  Well, I'm going to give you my honest opinion and observations and at times they might seem a little critical.  In the first place...I'm cheap!  I don't like to spend more than $75.00 for a room. and I don't think it's too much to ask that it be clean AND includes a decent continental breakfast.  If I have to pay more to go to a restaurant to buy breakfast, I feel cheated.  Anyway.... the carpet was stained and I wasn't really sure the sheets had been changed.  Now, I spent a couple of summers between college semesters, as a maid at a local motel.  I know what the sheets look like when they come out of the commercial dryers.  They are sreaming hot and if they're not folded right away, the wrinkles become sharp creases.  These sheets looked crumpled.  Maybe thats the way they are supposed to look but it made me a little leary, so I pulled back the covers and checked them out.  There were no obvious signs of previous use, so I gave in to the exhaustion and climbed in.  I like a soft mattress.  This was firm, but I think they all are. My husband, on the other hand likes a firm mattres, so he was completely comfortable. The room was quiet, and the bathroom clean. However, when we woke up the next morning, in the light of day, I noticed something nasty looking on my husband's blanket. I don't know what it was, but it looked like it had been there a while.  I don't even want to think about what it could have been and since we had been given a discount, I didn't feel like I should complain. I just made sure to really rumple the bedding and leave that 'thing' exposed where it couldn't be missed. They did have a decent continental breakfast.  Bagels, toast, cold cereal, oatmeal, boiled eggs, muffins, danish, milk, coffee, tea,  and juice.  (I'm probably forgetting something.).  As we head back out to the open road, I look through the receipts for gas, food, room, etc.  The discount ???  A whopping $3.00 !!!!  I should have complained.  CRANKY.
     We noticed the gas prices got cheaper the closer we got to Charlotte, NC.  We even noticed some advertised for $3.05 a gallon.  I think the cheapest we paid was $3.20 because we didn't pay cash. I hate it when stations do that!  We thought we were getting it for $3.15 a gallon but, not so.  I kept notes for the next trip.
     We finally reached our daughter's home in Georgia in the early evening.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on the 'peanut'.  So precious!! All arms and legs! Tiny little feet and hands and squirmy new-borness.  And such a content baby. 
     While we were there I was able to help my daughter get the nursery set up. Little peanut came 9 days early so things weren't as done as my daughter had hoped. We also did a little reorganzing in her office.  I did some laundry, kept the dishes done up and got to hold the peanut after she ate so Mommy could get some rest. My husband got to ride the John Deer mower and get their lawn mowed so Daddy could spend more time with his little girl before he headed back to work. We had a wonderful 5 days with them and leaving was hard.  Now that the peanut is here, traveling for them will be more difficult.  And, with our son-in-law's army schedule, it may be a while before they are able to come north, so we'll probably have to go south an extra time or two. 
     So, we head out on the road again.  We make a few wrong turns, take a wrong exit or two (obviously I wasn't doing my job very well) but get back on track, get out and kick the tire a couple of times.  We drive for 8 or 9 hours and finally stop for the night, this time in Wytheville, Va.  We've stayed  here before also. The Red Roof Inn.  I make the mistake of beginning my conversation with the desk clerk with "We saw your billborad advertising rooms for $49.99. We'd like one of those"  The clerk asks if we want smoking or non and I tell her "non".  Her response  "Oh, I'm sorry, all the non-smoking rooms at the billboard price are taken."  The only non-smoking rooms left are kings or suites.  Really?  Are you kidding me?  They must have a ton of smoking rooms because there weren't that many cars there.  (Next time, I'll begin with "We'd like the cheapest non-smoking room you've got" and after finding us one, I'll throw in the billboard thing). I asked for the AAA discount which the clerk cheerfully informed me saved me $20.00 off the room price.  In total, it was $77.00 for the night.  I already knew from our last trip that this hotel had the WORST continental breakfast (so we knew we were going to have to pay for breakfast somewhere - cranky).  Coffee, juice and muffins.  Not your normal sized muffins -  micro-muffins. The tiny snack size, about 1.5 inches.  However, the room was clean, quiet, neat and updated.  It had a microwave and mini-fridge.  No hair dryer or iron and the complimentary shampoo was a one-use foil packet, not your usual little bottle.  The bed, while firm, was comfortable for my husband but most of all it was obviously clean.
     We used the hot tire as an excuse to stop and take a gander at the New River Gorge.  My husband has wanted to do that for a while.  There is a scenic overlook that is just a short walk from the parking area.  There is also a wood stairway down to the bottom of the gorge.  The sign says that the walk down to the bottom is easy but the climb back up is 'strenuous' and that there are landings with benches for resting.  We opt out of the whole bottom of the gorge thing. We do, however walk to the overlook.  There is an impressive view of the frighteningly high bridge we just drove over and not so impressive view of tree tops.  The gorge is hidden amongt the trees. It was a beautiful day and a pleasant walk so not a complete waste of time.
     So, we're home. Thankful to the Lord for traveling mercies and a wonderful visit. We are greeted by an excited dog, hungry cat and very overgrown lawn.  Back to reality....and laundry.
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