We were blessed to have a friend do a family photo shoot for us last weekend and I think the pictures turned out fantastic - thank you Kim!! (Facebook friends, feel free to check out all the pictures on my profile page).
Our blessings from God...
Emma - 9 yrs old
Sophia - 7 yrs old
Olivia - 5 yrs old
Jacob - 2 1/2 yrs old Our girls have attitude? Never! ;) I love him, I love him a lot!
Love, Charleston revolves around the lives of four main characters - sisters Anne and Alisha (Lish), their cousin Della and a widowed priest named Roy.
Anne is single but is holding out hope for love based on a promise from God she heard years ago. Her hope is waning and her sister and cousin urge her to move on.
Anne's sister Lish seemingly has the perfect life, but her health struggles combined with her husband's career ambitions threaten to destroy this picture perfect family.
Their cousin Della has become disillusioned with the life she's made with her husband and the return of her former fiance to Charleston is making her rethink her life choices.
Roy loves ministering to his flock and struggles to understand why God would call him and his daughter to pretentious and superficial Charleston.
Roy's passion for the Word is contagious and inspires you to grow in your faith. Anne's flagging hope is a reminder that God's promises will be filled in His time, not ours. Lish's story reminds us that our hope needs to be placed in God alone. Della's struggles shows us how easy it is to fall for Satan's lies especially when our focus is on ourselves instead of God. All of their stories are excellent reminders that God's plan for our lives is perfect, even when it doesn't make sense to us. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
About the Book: Sister Eustace, born Lady Juliana, the last of the de Charnais line, is about to pledge body and soul to the cause of the queen duchess, Alienor of Aquitaine. Learned yet humble, passionate yet wholly innocent, Juliana has a singular determination - to possess her rightful home, the viscounty of Tillieres.
Alienor's young scribe must choose: husband or the cloister. Juliana prays for a man who is honorable, kind, and literate. Instead she is promised to Guerin de Lasalle, a worldly though landless mercenary with a blackened soul. The couple enters the union with just one shared desire: to put an end to the marriage.
As the queen's prophecy, "Honor, like love, comes in many guises," echoes through Juliana's first days as a wife, the race intensifies to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, Alienor's last surviving son. Schemes by traitorous lords and the mystery of Lasalle's past could cost John his thrones - and Juliana her life.
My thoughts: I'm not sure if it was the strange names, the unfamiliar history, the language of the period or a combination of all three, but I had a slightly difficult time following some of the plot lines. I don't like having to concentrate as hard as I had to, when reading fiction.
That being said, the parts I did understand easily, I did enjoy. Although, enjoy is probably not the right word to use, considering how much this made me appreciate that I did not live during this period of history! There were schemes, plot twists, battles and politics - a lot going on and a lot to keep track of.
I found the interplay between Juliana and Guerin to be very interesting - I found it to be very realistic in fact, because their relationship could've been so much better if they had trusted each other enough to actually communicate what was going on in their thoughts and lives. I think the same could be said for many real life relationships as well. The truth is not always easy to tell, but deception always makes things worse.
About the Book: Russia, 1910. The young Valentina Ivanova is the darling of St. Petersburg's elite aristocracy, charming them with both her classic Russian beauty and her talent for piano. But it is a scandal when she chooses her love not from their stock, or even from Russian blood. Her romance with Jens Friis, a Danish engineer, brings to her life a passion and intimacy she has never known. Unbending in their opposition, her parents push her into a loveless engagment with a Russian count.
Valentina struggles to claim her own independence. But at the same time she is desperate to protect her young sister from the dangerous tumult that is sweeping through the city.
Meanwhile, Russia itself is bound for rebellion. With the tsar and the duma at each other's throats, and the Bolsheviks drawing their battle lines, the elegance and opulence of tsarist rule are in their last days. And Valentina will be forced to make a choice that will change not only her own life, but the lives of those around her forever....
My thoughts: I really enjoy reading historical fiction and this book was definitely no exception. In my opinion, there is no more enjoyable way to learn history! And Russian history is something I knew very little of. My interest is definitely whetted by reading this excellent piece of fiction.
Valentina was an interesting protagonist - some of her characteristics (her sense of duty and loyalty to her family, especially her sister; her determination; her desire to become a nurse despite its lowly status) make her intensely loveable, while others (her naivete; her foolishness) do not.
You get to see the two drastically different sides of Russia as Valentina dances at opulent balls and enters the poorest districts of the city. The chasm between the elite and the poor is simply mind boggling.
It's so frustrating to see history played out, knowing that so much of the war and strife could have been prevented - you know, if selfish and proud humans were not the ones in control.