Book Review: Befriending the Beast



Hey all! Hope you are having a wonderful day! Because this is the third book review post in a row, I just thought I'd let you know that this is still a devotional blog as well :) I have had a post on my heart for months, but God's still teaching me that lesson! :) For now, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Amanda Tero who has just published another book. A Beauty & the Beast retelling with an intriguing twist: what if the Beast was Belle's father? I had the opportunity to beta-read this story and wanted to share!

About the Book

"Belle has returned unannounced to the castle to restore her relationship with the king, her father. Her hopes are dashed with the devastating message: "The king refuses to see you." Convinced that God has led her home, she is unwilling to return to Lord and Lady Kiralyn.

Time is running out for the decision that will change her life. When tragedy strikes, will she and her father be pulled further apart or knit together? Could she stay at the castle even if she will never see her father again?"

What I liked: 
To be fair, I came at this story completely biased—Beauty & the Beast is one of my all time favorites, and I am a complete sucker for a good retelling. However, we all know how a bad retelling can leave behind a hollow feeling, as though you had hunger pains that were left unmet by what promised to be a good meal. This retelling? Left you completely stuffed, yet begging for more!! One of the reasons I am such a sucker for this tale-as-old-as-time is because of the romance—and this story had none, so I wasn’t sure how I’d react to it. The suspense completely drew me in! Romance, classic B&B tale or not—I needed to know how this worked out! How the story resolved! Whether or not these characters I was beginning to love ever got their happy ending and were able to stop suffering! And the angst. Oh. My heart broke over and over again for these characters—even the mean ones! This story was incredibly well written to where I felt Belle’s pain, her hesitation, her hope.
In addition to being able to experience along with the characters, Amanda’s brilliant writing was captured in two other ways that I really liked about this book! The imagery—there were so many nods to the original story, flawless yet so subtle; I literally got excited when I found them. I’m not sure whether Amanda included them on purpose or not, but the references to the roses several times had me geeked out. Lastly, the realistic yet powerful way Amanda was able to tie in Biblical themes via Belle’s faith and her struggle to trust God greatly impressed me more than once. It’s always annoying to get to a place in a story where you feel as though the author just threw in a Biblical reference, or simply just worked too hard to get one in there. When discussed in Befriending the Beast, these things felt much more natural.  Also, more than impressing me, God used it to encourage and convict me, and I think that is one of the greatest things a story/author can do- and this story delivered, and delivered in the right way.
Another small, but legit thing I loved about this story was that Belle was strong in her faith, she had a mature walk with God… but she makes a totally “did I really just do that? I know better!!” mistake toward the end (that left me at the edge of my seat) but I appreciated that. Even the most mature of Christians make dumb mistakes once in a while, and I think we tend to forget that.

What I didn’t like:
……ummm...... nothing? lol No, but for real I loved this story. The only thing I wished was different was that I wish the ending was longer and gave more closure. I spent so much time wondering and stressing with the characters about whether or not things would be resolved that I wished the ending would just go on and on. What I didn't like was that the story had to end! ;) ;) 

Purchase Link
(order before October 8, 2016, to get it at the discounted price of $.99!)

About the Author
Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!
 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)


Connect with Amanda

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com



Journey to Love Book Release!

The Orphan Journeys Series
Journey to Love (Marie's Story, 1901)
By Amanda Tero

(Quick aside from HisPrincessWarrior: I've never been part of a book release blog tour, but I was able to participate as a beta reader for this sweet book and was very encouraged by it! I highly recommend buying your own copy, if this post piques your interest :D I found myself really identifying with Marie's struggle throughout this story!) 

About the Book
Now orphaned, Marie is swept miles away from the only life she knew to be sheltered by unknown guardians. Caught in the challenges of a new life, she cannot prevent changes from happening, but she can keep the Bowles and their friends at arm's length. Or can she?

While things appear to transition smoothly on the outside, Marie struggles against the turmoil she faces on the inside. She sees something in the Bowles and her new friends that she had never experienced before...but should she trust what the preacher is teaching when it goes against everything she had accepted as truth? Is God really a God of love? If He is, then is Marie willing to accept it?

Follow Marie as she begins the journey to love.

About the Orphan Journeys Series
Imagine yourself as an orphan, struggling for survival on the filthy New York streets, where disease and crime run rampant. Journey from these wretched streets to a temporary lodging in an overcrowded orphanage and then to the train station. After riding the train for hours, picture yourself lining up with other children, waiting as adults look you over. Would you be chosen—or would you have to hold onto the hope that maybe, at the next station, someone would want to bring you home?

Minister Charles Loring Brace had a vision for New York orphans that brought them through this journey from streets to homes. He began his orphan work in 1853, then in 1854, because of lack of orphanage space, Brace sent the first orphans by train to Dowagiac, Michigan, where the children could be sheltered by local families. The "orphan train" continued until 1929, bringing at least 150,000 children to new homes where they were fostered and, occasionally, adopted.

Brace desired to place children in good, Protestant homes. Many orphans experienced Brace's desire, but some orphans had different stories: siblings were separated, and some couples took orphans to use for cheap labor. Though many orphans ended up as successful men and women, not all of them turned out to be trustworthy citizens.

Orphan Journeys is a fictional novella series based off of the American Orphan Train saga, following orphans not only as they adjust to a new life, but also as they embark upon a spiritual journey.

About the Author

Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda

Purchase Link


Book Review: Kate's Innocence

When the FBI begins investigating bombings at Kate’s school, she becomes the main suspect because of her chemical engineering major and military background—however, Kate maintains she is innocent! As further evidence mounts against her, Kate must help the FBI clear her name—all while facing personal demons from her past—or spend the rest of her life behind bars. This was a great story and intriguing read that I was able to really “get into” and not want to stop reading until everything was resolved!

What I liked: I liked that life wasn’t perfect. Kate’s relationship with her father was strained, as was her relationship with God. Things like this are real-life, and while not condoned (for sure!) they were written in very well. Kate’s rocky relationship with God was something I appreciated because it gave her room to grow and for readers to be edified through the course of the story. This was done very well, and is something with which many readers will be able to relate.
I enjoyed the banter among the FBI team throughout the book, and that when somebody made a mistake or error in judgement, they owned it, and the responsibility that went with it, instead of pawning it off. In addition, I found the plot of the mystery to be very well thought out. You can tell that Sarah did her homework. I was skeptical as to whether or not this would be more of a romance/emotional story with the mystery tacked on, but was pleasantly surprised with the opposite. The mystery was very thought out and was the real, main deal, with the subplot woven in very well!
I also enjoyed that while romantic relationships are hinted at and feelings are felt, they were dealt with in a realistic manner! They were often ignored, pushed away for another day, dealt with slowly—any relationships or even deeper friendships were developing slowly throughout this book, leaving so much  to yet be resolved and I appreciated this soooo much! :D In real life these things take time, and they did in Kate’s Innocence, not occurring and resolving perfectly with a neat little bow in 120 pages! That, my friends, was refreshing! :D
What I didn’t like: While I loved certain conversations concerning faith and God in this story and was truly touched by them, there were a few that felt forced to me, usually between the lead male character and his best friend. Whether it was the man-to-man element or the lack of preamble that felt off to me, a few of those scenes bothered me.
Also, nearly all the FBI agents in the team were Christians; while as a Christian I would love if that was a reality ;) I did find this to be a little unrealistic. However, it seemed as though the main character Kate did as well, which I loved, so perhaps in future installments we will get more closure/information as to how this came to be.
However, neither one of these things bothered me enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book!!!

Favorite quote:  ‘“I just… I have neglected God. I don’t think He is going to give me peace and grace until I change.”
……“God doesn’t work that way, Kate. He is always waiting to be there for us, even if we haven’t done our part.”’

Final thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I found it a fun, intriguing, but also encouraging read, and was excited when I saw that Sarah plans on continuing the series! Check out Sarah's blog: The Destiny of One .
Find Kate's Innocence on Amazon here. 

**picture taken from Amanda's Review! :) 

Our Oikos

I had an extremely eventful weekend—boots in the house! cousins drove out for the day, Christmas program Sunday morning, and work at night. It was a busy, but extremely exciting!
Something we had to do while our cousins were here was go bowling—it’s almost become a tradition. But while we were on the way there—I cannot remember how it came up—but my cousin was telling me what she had been studying in their small-group Bible study at their church. She said they had been studying the word or the concept of oikos.

Oikos is a Greek word that, according to Strongs and BibleStudyTools.com, is defined as:
1. A house
2. The inmates of a house, all the persons forming one family, a household 
3. Stock, family, descendants of one

My cousin explained it to me as more of number two. She called it “the people you do life with”. She said they learned it was a group of usually 8 to 15 people that make up your every day, people you see, talk to, deal with, on a regular basis, and our big parts of your life (whether they’re “good” parts or not ;). I found a similarly minded article which I’ll add to the end of this post :D She went on to say how, yes we are to take the share the Gospel to our Judea and the “uttermost parts of the world” but also our Jerusalem, and our oikos is our Jerusalem. How we need to be impacting, loving, and leading/pointing the people in our oikos to Jesus.
It was a very interesting and new concept to me, and I really enjoyed learning about it. 

I usually work Sunday nights, and this last Sunday night, after they had our candlelight Christmas service, nearly our entire (yes, it is small ;) church came out to eat where I work. They filled up the lobby, gave me a hard time as I took their orders ;) sang a Christmas carol, and honestly rather made my night :D

After everyone was sitting down and fellowshipping, I was back behind the counter, cleaning up a mess, when I just tuned in to the conversation and laughter behind me. Sure, I hear this type of thing whenever I work, but this time it was familiar laughter, familiar voices. And I realized something: they were my oikos. That group of about 40ish people are literally the people I do life with. The ones I consider my family, closest friend, people I can trust for Godly counsel or simply encouragement; the friends I can be completely crazy with, but serious too; the ones I would miss extremely bad if I were to switch colleges and attend another out-of-state; the ones who love and accept me (and my family) for who I am.

They are my oikos.
And I love them and appreciate them very, very much!!

What about you? Who is your oikos at this stage in your life? What do you appreciate about them? :D How was your weekend? What random, awesome things has God been teaching you?

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Here is the link I referred to earlier: I haven't read it thoroughly, so I'm not saying I agree with/condone everything it says, and it is taken from a specific church's site; just sharing it for interest and the sake of further study :) 
http://www.granitecreek.org/oikos-defined/ 

http://biblehub.com/greek/3624.htm 
http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/oikos.html

HPW Update

(That looks really funny abbreviated like that, doesn't it? I've never done that before.) :)

I wanted to let all of you out there who still check on/visit/find my blog that I really appreciate you. I have been really wanting to do a post lately, but my river is still dry and I'm currently very busy with school. It blesses my heart when I log on and find that one of you have found my blog and subscribed, have commented on an old post, or to see that I have received X amount of views on a certain random day when it's been quite a while since the last post. 
I just wanted to let you know that, no, I'm not gone, just in a confusing/frustrating place right now, and that I see when you view and receive your sweet comments, 
and it really means a lot to me!
Thanks so much!!!! 
I would love to hear how you are doing, or if you have any ideas for future posts!
XoXo 
Katie <3

Princess Warrior-type Post to Share

I just finished reading a very good blog post over on the Lies Young Women Believe blog that deals with us going to battle with courage throughout this new year :) It made me think of how I want to be as, yes, a Princess, a daughter of God, but also His warrior, and not cowering in terror with the new fears and hard situations that 2015 might bring! I spent most of 2014 not being a good soldier, and by God's grace, I'd like to do better this year. 
Anyway, I'm sharing the link to this post in hopes that it will encourage your Princess Warrior heart as well :) Hope you enjoy it and are as inspired by it as I was. 
Link to post:
By God's Grace, 
Katie 

When God does the Unusual

So far, this has been a wonderful Christmas. Yes. Our family had "our Christmas" yesterday ;-), and we will be having it again tomorrow with my mom's side of the family. My brothers, sisters, and I have had lots of fun, eaten great food (thanks mom!), and received wonderful gifts... but perhaps, most wonderful of all, were the little gifts I received from Jesus (also known as special blessings :)

This past year has been one of anger and frustration for me. So. many. times. this year, I've cried out  to God, through tears of anger, in moments of raw honesty and asked,

why?!
Why God have you allowed this into my life, to happen to me? 
All I ever did was what was right! Why am I going through this {pain} when all through {this period of my life} I followed hard after you, loved you, served you, obeyed you, to the best of my ability, are others being blessed, and I am not?

First of all, you must understand, I know this is wrong. And I would tell God that. I would tell Him I knew I was acting as though I was entitled to His blessing and being utterly disrespectful, and I was sorry, but it was how I felt at the time, and He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him, so I was doing it! 
My dad always told me when I was little to 'talk to Jesus as though I was talking to my best friend'. I've been blessed with a few special friends. Friends I know I can trust implicitly and be brutally, ugly honest, and they will still love me, unconditionally, for who I am, who I can be through Christ, and will pray me through the bad times. 
And that's how I am when I talk to God. Brutally honest. He knows my deepest thoughts that even I don't understand, so He knows how I feel already. ;) 
But anyway. :) More than once I went through this. 
I felt betrayed.
Betrayed by the One who promised to never leave me nor forsake me. 
(Funny thing is, my head knew/knows waaaaaaay better. But emotions?? eh... not so much.) 
I felt betrayed. Like, since I had lived rightly before God, I should be rewarded for good behavior. But that wasn't what I saw happening. I felt my life falling into weird places I never thought it would, as I watched (over, and over, and agonizingly over again) all my friends lives fall (as i perceived it) neatly into perfect place. 
And I felt betrayed. Like I was being punished for having done the right thing. Like Joseph in the Old Testament. 
But last Sunday, my Pastor preached a sermon that, in a way, contrasted Jesus' birth and John's birth and the reactions to each. Not only did it help me to see Mary in a different way, but it was an encouragement to me as well. 
You see, when John was born? People rejoiced! When Elisabeth became pregnant with him, people celebrated! She and Zacharias were not supposed to be able to have children, and yet they did! There was joy for John. 
But except for a handful of people, there was no joy for Jesus. His parents were not married, and became the object of gossip and ridicule. His parents were poor and had to make the journey to Bethlehem, then flee shortly thereafter to Egypt. When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, people whispered behind her back, they did not rejoice with her. 
Then pastor made a comment about how "being in the will of God will bring contrast into our lives. 
God may ask us to do things, or allow things to happen to us, that MAKE. NO. SENSE. Things that very few people will understand. 
Just like when He had a virgin conceive and bear a son, and how Mary was ridiculed for the rest of her life... for simply bearing the son of God!!!! For being the Godly young woman after His own heart that He CHOSE to have His Son! Mary had done "everything right". So right, that she became the mother of the most high. But at times, when people would scowl at her in the streets, murmur behind her back as she traveled through the village with baby Jesus on her hip, make snide remarks about she and Joseph that were untrue-- untrue because God had done the unusual in her life-- I wonder if she felt betrayed. Lifted her eyes to heaven and whispered, "Why, Lord? All I ever did was serve you!" I am not trying to add anything to the Bible, I just wonder if Mary ever felt betrayed, too. 
But she knew. She knew, just like I knew, that even though I feel that way, it isn't/wasn't true. 
She knew that God had chosen to do something unusual in her life, and she chose to obey that call. 
I'm sure that often it made little sense to her, 
Just as though it makes no sense to us, when we go through what we see as useless pain. Pain so unbearable at times we cry out to God, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? How could you possibly intend to use this for your glory!?!?". But that's exactly what He tends to do. Use the unusual, the painful, the unbearable, the things in our lives that we and no one else understands, somehow. for. GOOD. 
So today, this Christmas, please dear friend. 
Don't lose hope. 
When God does or allows something not in your plans that seems to wreck your life, realize He's not betraying you. Remember He loves you, and somehow, He's going to work this all together for His good, for His purposes. (Romans 8:28) if we let Him. Mary let Him. I know this is hard :( Remember how Mary in the New Testament and Joseph in the Old did what was right, and it seemed as though they only got pain in response?? 
But the ending of those two stories?? 
God worked through Joseph to save many nations from starvation. 
and God worked, through Mary, to bring the Savior into the world who would redeem the souls of all mankind. 
What could He be doing with your pain today, sweet sister? 

Merry Christmas!!!


Picture Source: http://www.testimoniesofheavenandhell.com/Pictures-Of-Jesus/
Source of Post Title: was pastor's sermon title ;)