December 29, 2013

A Talent for Trouble Review~

     Miss Felicia Murdock firmly believed her destiny was to become a minister's wife. When the minister on whom she had set her sights marries another lady, Felicia is forced to take a close look at her life and comes to a few uncomfortable conclusions. Determined that something needs to change--and soon--Felicia discovers she is finally ready to spread her wings and embrace life the way she's always wanted.

     Grayson Sumner--or Lord Sefton, as he's officially known--has had more than enough of spreading his wings and only hopes to settle into the life of a normal, respectable New York gentleman. Prompted by some well-meaning friends to lift the spirits of the disappointed-in-love Miss Murdock, he is surprised to encounter a young lady who seems to have become quite adventurous and quite determined to get herself into all sorts of troublesome situations. 

     Intent on remaining independent, Felicia is reluctant to accept Grayson's help, especially as she finds herself developing feelings for him. However, just as Grayson decides he's had quite enough of her antics, his past comes back to haunt him and his presence in her life has endangered Felicia. Will Grayson and Felicia decide they want to spend the rest of their lives keeping one another out of trouble?

     I am writing all of this out of love.

     I say that, because, if Mrs. Turano were to ever read this post, I would like her to know that I'm not writing this review to be discouraging, but to be encouraging-- and honest. With that being said, here is an honest review of A Talent for Trouble:

        This book started out strong. I was laughing at all the right parts in the first chapter. I liked the fact that Mrs. Turano had the brilliant idea of making her story comedic and serious at the same time. The heroine, Felicia, was a real person. I could totally relate with her quirky character and ideas. She was me. I knew exactly how she felt, because Mrs. Turano introduced her so expressively. All of Felicia's reactions were so real that I was sighing with her, able to relate with the "tragedy" that had just befallen her. I know it is a very difficult thing to make a story serious and funny, but, in with first chapter, I was very intrigued.

    Unfortunately, it was only in the first chapter that I found the comedy entertaining. In the second chapter, my intrigue and enjoyment started dwindling. Felicia started acting like a six year old. I couldn't understand why a young lady would act so dramatic. She seemed so self-absorbed. Always doing things to call attention to herself. It seemed like she couldn't have a normal conversation with anybody, ever.

     As the book progressed, I noticed that Mrs. Turano was bringing in a pretty serious theme. My question, is: was the story supposed to be all comedy, or was it supposed to include a dramatic plot too? I felt like was the one who wasn't getting it. It was a serious theme, but I couldn't stay serious while reading, but I wasn't finding much else humorous... I was just ready to fall asleep. Maybe I've been reading too many cliched historical romance novels (which is why I decided to request this story), but I felt like every scene was a rushed mess, and towards the end, it was a quick clean-up and let's-get-everything-to-rights. I found the comedy mixed with the attempt of being intelligent lack in the characters' personalities very much. Mrs. Turano seemed to have made her characters sort of dimwitted in a quite a few scenes, in order to make them funny. Which reminds me of the television show Sponegbob. I think silly is funny, but a lot was just unreasonable or unintelligent thinking on the characters' side. Which made me just think that Ms. Turano was trying too hard and it took away from the intelligence of her characters and the sweet personalities they all seemed to have.

     One instance of the unreasonable and unintelligent attributes I noticed was when the start of the actual mystery (not the book) took place. It began with the heroine, Felicia, going into an opium den without any sense. I was very surprised by why she went  into the opium den. Her only answer to Grayson, our hero, being that she was trying to be kind to an older man and ease her curiosity. I get that Mrs. Turano wanted to create her heroine to be an adventurous and eccentric young lady, but the reasoning behind Felicia's motives was nonsensical. When one is writing a book, there are many ways of getting a character into an opium den, without making a character seem completely foolish. I am a curious person, as well. However, I could not relate with Felicia during that scene at all. I will say, after that scene and when they had been in the opium den for a little while, there were some funny parts. Especially when it was Grayson's POV, observing Felicia react to the people in the den. It made for a few smiles and a chuckle.

     Side notes:  For a Christian fiction, I was very unpleasantly surprised that Grayson was not saved until the epilogue. I was dumbstruck. The EPILOGUE. I feel like this book was an attempt to glorify the Lord to it's bare minimum. If one is going to write a book with  the point Christian authors intend to do, when they write a novel for other believers, and even unbelievers. I wholehearted do not believe that a Christian should fall in love with an unbeliever (that is being unequally yoked, 2 Cor. 6:14). However, many Christian authors are writing that into their romantic stories, so I've just had to ignore that. In the mean time, I usually remember that the character will most likely be saved towards the middle or ending of the novel.

     Nope. It was the epilogue. I thought that was pretty disgraceful for Mrs. Turano.

     The dialogue of this book was very different. I think the conversations between fifty characters at a time was supposed to attribute to the comedic side of the book, but I was not laughing very frequently. I actually felt overwhelmed, trying to keep up with the characters. I also did not think that what many of the characters had to say was relevant, but some people may have found some of their comments amusing.

     With all that being said, and I hope I'm not being too harsh, I do want to say with a much more positive scope, that I have huge hope for Mrs. Turano. I was most aggravated while I was reading, because I knew that there is so much potential in her writing and that she can do so much better. She has great ideas, but I desire for a smarter way of going about them. Mrs. Turrano is funny and she is smart. I mean, who thinks of a man dealing with the guilt of murdering people and of once being a part of a major crime, ruining hundreds or thousands of lives--just by being a "small" part of an opium business-- while trying to keep a storyline comedic and different? You have to hand it to her. It was a unique idea. I hope to try one of her future books and I will continue reading up on reviews with her books.

     Overally, I rate this book 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

     I hope that this post was helpful and edifying.

Maiden of Emmanuel

P.S. A Talent for Trouble was a given to me as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

December 2, 2013

True Joy~

It’s December and it’s official, Christmas is only 24 days away. So excited!
However, Christmas is not what I am posting about today…. sort of. I am so emotionally overwhelmed. Thanksgiving just passed and I have so much to be thankful for, especially afterthe holiday. Does that happen to you? You think of great things you can be thankful for after Thanksgiving?
That’s the way I should think everyday. And I know, you hear that from everybody, but it’s good to be reminded, right? In fact, when I had a very ungrateful attitude and my dad was teaching me a lesson, he made me read the book of Colossians 4 times in 3 days. And let me tell you, he made sure I knew what was in Colossians 3:14-17:
“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
Read how many times it says to be thankful. Part of a godly heart is being continually grateful to the Lord. So I’m just giving a friendly reminder. However, I did not get on my computer to post about my Thanksgiving either.
This past week has been a whirlwind of so many emotions and happenings. I’ll start at the beginning.
Thanksgiving week came and went, and it was magical.
I’m serious. Whimsical is another good description.
These are photos of our church’s annual Thanksgiving Fellowship. For the first time, we held it in our backyard, an my mom and another church member, who both decorated, outdid themselves.
What a fantastic time of fellowship; laughing, eating, photographing, talking, freezing (that’s a blessing, when it’s always so hot here!), and giving thanks. Normally, we have someone come up and give a testimony of thanks, and a man that has been attending our church with his family for about a year now, described our church like the one in Acts 17 (vs. 11-12, I believe). That was so encouraging.
The whole week was so great. Then last night there were a couple phone calls made–to us, and from us. My dad received some bad news, and I will not name it, but it was pretty heartbreaking. And right before Christmas too.
And it just made me think today, as I was sitting on a pew during service. We are to stand firm in the Lord. To encourage one another in the Lord. To rejoice in all things.  To reach out to the lost. To bear each other’s burdens. To endure trials. To pray. To always, always give thanks to the Lord. To live according to the gospel. To be witnesses.
Not all of those are happy things. I mean, in essence, they are all things that should be done in joy, but that joy doesn’t mean it’s always “say cheese, and everything is alright”. No, it’s an inner joy, that we receive when we are saved. When we know we are saved, we know that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. That is what brings us joy and peace.
Our hearts burst with an overwhelming love, too! Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’s birth, and Thanksgiving, a day designated to share our and hear others’ testimonies of what God has done in their lives, are reminders– good reminders–of what we need to do year round. There will be tragedy in some moments, and there will be happiness in other moments, but it should not keep us from doing what we are called to do.
True joy should not be a momentary thing. It should be everlasting.
On a couple holiday notes, because I absolutely love the holidays, one thing I will be definitely praying for is cold weather! I also wanted to express out loud, because I wasn’t given much of a platform during dinner, what I am thankful for. I’ll just name a few things:
  1. My youngest sister, who is a major ray of sunshine to us.
  2. My mom, who shows agape (selfless) and phileo (“brotherly”) love towards everyonearound her everyday. Such an example.
  3. And education
  4. My dad, for teaching and exhorting me through God’s word.
  5. All of my siblings, for loving me and keeping me accountable.
  6. And many more, but I promised only a few (;
I hope everyone is doing well, and if there are ANY prayer requests, please drop me a comment (or any other way, if you know me personally). I’d love to pray for you. Pray that I submit myself to all of God’s word.