Book Review, Books, Children's fiction, christian fiction, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness

BOOK REVIEW: BURROWED by MARESSA MORTIMER

I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the blog tour for the latest book from my prolific author friend Maressa Mortimer*. Burrowed is a full – length novel, designed primarily for teens and young adults, but equally suitable for all adults to read.

Front cover of Burrowed. Black text on an image of red tulips floating above a grey sea

Daydreaming in words

Maressa describes her stories as daydreaming in words. She writes because the stories in her imagination just have to be put down on paper. As a result we get to have an insight into her extra-ordinarily imaginative brain, and to read stories that are told with an immediacy that keeps you gripped. You live each moment with the characters, wondering what is going to happen next. Wondering if the author knew when she was writing it!

Burrowed is an fantastical adventure story. It has two main characters, teens who live on the imaginary Island State of Ximiu. The island has being going through major changes, and those changes are still happening, perhaps too quickly. You get the sense that things are quickly getting out of control, so much so that when more sinister things start to happen the people in charge don’t know what to do about them. In fact they seemingly are doing nothing.

Believable characters and topical issues

Apart from telling a good story Maressa has done a great job creating characters that are believable and empathetic. Jasira is the bold and brave, inquisitive and questioning daughter of the Island’s female leader. Her male friend Ilori, is wheelchair bound, a more sensitive soul prone to poetic outbursts, but with a genuine faith in God. Together, with two new unexpected allies they set out to solve the mysteries of the things that have been going missing from the island – cars, asphalt, energy – and some things that are much more precious.

It is an engaging tale, and you are definitely drawn in. Towards the end it becomes harder and harder to put down, as the action becomes increasingly dramatic. But Burrowed is more than a good fantasy adventure story. It deals with topical issues such as climate change and the costs of going green, and autocratic government dangerously tainted by lies and deceit. It also describes a state religion that has become increasingly godless. All things that resonate with the reader.

Image listing the blog sites on the official blog tour

Emotive and dramatic

The book also sings with hope – woven throughout are references to faith, and the power of God to answer prayer. Themes of loss, grief and sacrificial love are also beautifully handled. As is the growing relationship of trust and dependency among the main protagonists. It is heartbreakingly emotive at times, edge of the seat dramatic at others.

Burrowed is a great book. And it needs a sequel. What happened to Jasira and Ilori next? Will the Island’s government survive and change for the better? What really happened under the surface and did anyone survive? And where on earth did Xandra’s sister go?

Time for some more ‘burrowing’ I think!

Image of Maressa Mortimer

*Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, with her husband and four (adopted) children. Maressa is a home-school mum as well as a pastor’s wife, so her writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descend on the house once more. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published in December 2019,  followed by two self-published YA novels, Walled City, and Beyond the Hills, and a novella, Viking Ferry.

Burrowed was released on 22 April 2022.  All Maressa’s books are available from her website, www.vicarioushome.com, Amazon or through local bookshops.

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Book Review, Books, Children's fiction, Christian Writer, Faith, God's faithfulness, Lessons from life

BOOK REVIEWS: ‘They Whisper About Us’ and ‘The Letters She Never Sent’ by Joy Vee

One of the pleasures of being a blogger who reviews books is being able to read books designed for children and teenagers, as well as those written for adults. I am particularly thrilled to once again be able to recommend two new books by Joy Vee*. They Whisper about Us, for readers 13+, and young adults and The Letters She Never Sent for readers 8+. The two books are written as companion books taking two different slants on the same story, and can be read separately or together. Each is written in a way that is age appropriate for the readers they are designed for, but as an adult I thoroughly enjoyed both!

We live in uncertain times. What we read and see on the news is deeply unsettling and frankly unbelievable. The publication of Joy’s books could not be more timely. If nothing else they might help younger readers make some sense of what is happening in Ukraine right now, and the history behind it.

They Whisper About Us

They Whisper About Us is set in two different times and places, focussing on two young girls of similar age. One is a promising ballerina, dancing for the Kirov Ballet in 1960’s USSR, the other a modern day teenager trying to work out what life is all about. What connects the two is a battered old tea tin full of letters written in Russian, and a pair of old ballet shoes, found deep inside a store cupboard in a theatre in Lincoln.

As the story and the mystery of the connection between the two unfolds, we are drawn into the not so distant past; a world of fear and uncertainty, where to be different is to be treated with suspicion. In the modern day the author deals well with the angst of teenage insecurities and family dynamics, as well as touching on themes of aging and dementia with sensitivity. The characters are engaging and the description of places and events believable.

It is a faith based book but the Christian message is subtly done, and completely in context. I would not hesitate to give this book to a non believer, but it would also challenge and encourage Christian readers too. The storytelling is great with its twists and turns, leading to a satisfactory ending. Although there may be some unanswered questions and that is where ‘The Letters She Never Sent’ comes in.

The Letters She Never Sent

This shorter book tells the story of Amy-Hope and her surprising new friend. Amy-Hope loves dancing, loves her dog Cosmo, and deals with the upheaval of the separation of her parents by writing in a diary. When her dad moves into a new house, Amy-Hope discovers she shares her love of dancing with the strangely shy, elderly lady, Mrs P, who lives next door.

The Letters She Never Sent’ takes the form of Amy-Hope’s diary entries, alternated with letters written by Mrs P to a long lost brother; letters that she will never send. The effect is to beautifully describe in intimate detail the developing friendship between the two main characters, their interactions and the growing realisation of how much they can help one another to make sense of the things that happen.

I loved both books but this one was really special. Joy Vee deals with big issues, such as fear and anxiety, in a really gentle way and there is an overriding feeling of hope throughout. The ending is lovely. It is also a faith based book, and deals with faith themes in an accessible way that only enhance the storytelling.  

Both books are available separately in paperback and kindle versions, or can be bought as a hardback omnibus edition. They are available to purchase online, or via the author direct at www.joyvee.org.

*Joy Vee lives in the UK, with her husband and two children. She is married to a Ukrainian, and lived in Ukraine and Russia for 7 years. Her first book for children, ‘The Treasure Man‘ was published by Instant Apostle in 2020. She has since published several more books for children.

About me:

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Healing, House renovations, Lessons from life, New Author, Thankfulness

Destructive Disappointment

Image of water dripping through top of window frame

If you’ve been reading my blog for while, you’ll know that we have had some major renovation work done on the house. It has been stressful at times; it has also been incredibly exciting, and we are so pleased with the changes, and so, so thankful. But there have also been disappointments and frustrations. This last weekend as high winds and rain lashed the house, one of the new windows sprung a leak. Disappointment? Definitely. We had new windows put in specifically because the old ones weren’t keeping the weather out!

Disappointed valentine

I’m writing this on Valentine’s day, but I have refused to do a Valentine’s themed post. Partly because Valentine’s day has been a source of disappointment for me over the years. I waited in hope and excitement every year for a card to plop on to the doormat. It never did. I have only ever received one card, from the hubby, and that was in our first year of dating. He doesn’t do traditional romantic gestures and it took me a while to reconcile myself to that fact. Does he love me? Unquestionably. Does he show me in a million other ways, every day? He does. But Valentine’s day continued to be a disappointment for a good while.

Unanswered prayer?

Image of a sky bright with the setting sun above a silhouetted castle, and a calm sea.

This last Sunday I went forward for prayer for healing at the end of our church meeting. Why did I do that? Because I live with a long term health condition that there is no known cure for in medicine, and lately I have felt my symptoms worsening again. Because I believe in miracles and a God who heals. Because I believe in the promises God has given me. Because I have seen Him heal miraculously, sometimes even when I have been praying for people myself. So I went forward for prayer with faith, but as I sat being prayed for, all sorts of negative, unhelpful thoughts bombarded my mind. And although the prayer prayed was lovely and faith- filled, I came away feeling no better. In fact I have felt worse since. I think disappointment is playing a part.

Destructive disappointment

Disappointment can be so destructive. It can cause our faith to falter. If I gave into disappointment it might mean that I never go forward for prayer again. So what do I do with my disappointment? Well with the window leak, we contacted the builders and ask them politely to sort it! Likewise I can take my disappointment about seemingly unanswered prayer back to the Healer. I can pour out my disappointment to Him, put it all back into His hands. He knows and understands and doesn’t condemn me for feeling disappointed. As I speak to Him, read His words, listen, He invariably encourages me with a whispered word, or a promise renewed.

Image with lovehearts and the text of Jeremiah 31:3

As for Valentine’s day. It is no longer a disappointment. Because it is only one day out of 365. And every day of the year my husband faithfully cares for me, serves me, encourages me, and loves me unconditionally. So it is with God. The moments of disappointment are small, set against His overwhelming faithfulness to me. His love, protection, provision and guidance. His mercy and grace. His empowering and comfort. His presence through it all. The daily blessings. When I start to thank Him for all of those, the disappointment dissipates. I know that I can trust Him, and His timing. I know He is good. I’ve proved it over and over. And I won’t stop going forward for prayer.


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bearing Fruit, Christian Writer, Connected to God, Faith, imitating Christ, Lessons from life, New Author, The Word of God

IMITATE WHAT IS WORTH IMITATING

I have a new part time job. It’s only one day a week, but it gets me out of the home. It’s not paid – well not with money anyway – but it is so worth my time and energy. It leaves me physically exhausted but with a heart filled fit- to- burst and with experiences and memories that are beyond value. What is it? Grandchild care.

photo of baby sitting playing with blocks

Yes, a few weeks ago my daughter returned to work after the birth of her boy. And my new job started. And I’m absolutely loving it. My grandson and I are beginning to develop an understanding, and he is getting more and more used to me being his chief care giver for those few precious hours. I just need a lie down when I get home. (How did I ever do it 24 hours a day when my kids were young??!)

LEARNING BY IMITATION

Our boy is at that lovely stage, where he is not yet verbal, or indeed mobile, but is alert and learning all the time. He watches and listens – and imitates! He knows that the TV remote and the big black screen are related and loves grabbing said remote and pointing it in the right direction!! Put the block into the box and he takes it out. Take the block out of the box and he puts it back in. He smiles when you smile, and his latest trick? Blow a raspberry and he blows one right back.

It is quite sobering to be reminded just how much children learn by imitation. But isn’t it true of all of us? Even as grown ups we can easily learn how to speak, behave, think even, from the people we associate most with. That’s why we have to be so careful that those who we choose to spend our time with are those whose speech, attitudes and actions are encouraging and edifying. It’s easy to become imitators, even when we don’t mean to be.

IMITATE CHRIST

coloured in sunflower with the text 'plant in me a desire to know and follow you'

It also follows that if we want to imitate Christ, be more like Him in our speech, actions and attitudes, then we need to spend time with Him. We can do this by walking with Him through the gospel accounts. Or by sitting quietly in His presence. Or by talking to Him about the things that concern us, and even asking Him about the things on His heart. It is so good for us to do this. And good for the people who want to be around us. For it follows that the more we imitate Christ, the better influence we will be on those who imitate us.


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, Grief, Healing, Holy Spirit, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage, Seasons of life, The Word of God

A Heart Set on Pilgrimage

image of a path across a headland, with the island of Bardsey on the horizon

As I write this, I really should be doing something else. I am supposed to be editing my manuscript for my second full length novel, The Pilgrim. The editing has been taking up most of my time and energy for the last few days. I know it has to be done, but I am finding it both exciting and exhausting. It is with mixed feelings that I read and re-read, and correct the words that I have written. And always the questions… is it going to be good enough? Are people actually going to want to read this?

Heart pilgrimage

At the end of each chapter, as I did in my first book, I have inserted a verse or two of scripture. In The Pilgrim these are taken from the Psalms. Each one is chosen for how it speaks into what is happening in the life of the central character, Brother Hywel, as he walks his own spiritual journey. But many of them have personal meaning to me too, like this one:

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Psalm 84: 5-7 NKJV

I have chosen to write about a real pilgrimage in the book, hence the title. But it isn’t just the physical path of pilgrimage that is Hywel’s journey to grace. It is also the inclination of his heart, to truly seek after God. 

Image of a valley path with the text of Psalm 84 :5

Tears bringing life

On my own journey I have been through some dark valley times, when it really feels like the Valley of Baca (‘Baca’ means ‘weeping’). I have struggled to understand why, but it isn’t always for me to understand. I only have to keep my heart set on Him. My ‘pilgrimage’ is to step by step walk the path that leads me closer to His heart. And it isn’t always easy to stay on that path, especially when blinded by tears.

But what if the very tears that I weep actually help to water the dry ground around me and turn it into springs of life? My strength to keep going actually comes from Him, if I ask for it! And He will increase that strength as I keep walking, make me even more resilient and fruitful. Nothing is wasted in Him. I might walk through the Valley of Weeping, but my very presence turns it into a place of blessing!

Image of the front cover of The Pilgrim. The title of The Pilgrim is in black font against a white background that looks like manuscript paper. The 'P ' is illuminated. Beneath this is a brightly coloured stained glass image of a group of pilgrims.

The Pilgrim: a pool of blessing

My tears have fed into the story I have written in The Pilgrim. My prayer is that the book becomes a pool of blessing for many. I am blown away that God has chosen to use the things that I have gone through, in my own pilgrimage journey, to create books that might just do that. I’ll remember that as I continue the sometimes painful editing process!

At least the book already has the most beautiful of cover designs. I pray that the words inside will be just as beautiful.

(The Pilgrim is due to be published in July 2022, but you can pre-order your copy now, by commenting on this blog post)


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Book Review, Children's fiction, Christian Writer, God in control, God's faithfulness, Lessons from life

BLOG BOOK REVIEW: OLIVER’S SECRET by Eleanor Watkins

Front cover image of Oliver's Secret showing a black and white cat with  a frame of green leaves

Eleanor Watkins has written over 45 books, very many of them for children and young adults, so I was honoured to be asked to be a part of the blog tour launch of her latest book for 6-8 year olds, ‘Oliver’s Secret’. If I still had school-age children at home, I would love to be able to introduce them to the books of Eleanor Watkins. I’m sure they would enjoy her storytelling with a gentle faith message, as much as I enjoyed this one. I was pleased to be asked to review her latest book, and you don’t have to have small children to enjoy a book written for children, now do you?

God answers Prayer?

Image of back of Oliver's Secret with synposis.

Oliver’s Secret introduces us to Claire and her family. Claire is lonely. She has moved with her family not only to a new home, but also to an entirely new country where she knows no-one. She has left her friends and all that is comforting and familiar behind. Claire is worried about very many things: about whether she will make new friends, about how her new school and church will be. But most of all she would love a pet, specifically a cat, of her own. Especially as the house her family have moved into has a built in cat flap. So Claire prays and asks God for a cat. Almost immediately, and to her great surprise, a large black and white fluffy cat meanders through the cat flap, and quickly infiltrates himself, both into Claire’s heart and her family’s home.

Learning important things

Over the next few weeks, as she makes new friends and starts her new school, Claire has to learn some important things. That friendship has to be worked at and everybody has secret fears. That God doesn’t always answer prayer in the way we want Him to. That sometimes we have to make difficult decisions and do the right thing, even when it hurts. And most of all – that cats like to wander, and that they keep very big secrets!

Line illustration of a little girl curled up with a cat on a sofa
I

Oliver’s Secret is a great story with characters and animals that children will love. It is produced to be dyslexic friendly, and also beautifully illustrated by Josh Williams. It contains a mystery as well – what exactly is Oliver’s secret and what will Claire and her new friend Eliza do when they find it out?

There are helpfully some questions at the back of the book, designed to make the reader think more deeply about the things Claire experiences. A great resource for family or Sunday school discussion.

It is a truly lovely book with a faith-filled message, and I can warmly recommend it. Even if I am more of a dog person myself!

Image of the author, Eleanor Watkins

Oliver’s Secret by Eleanor Watkins is published by Dernier Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-912457-43-4 / £7.99 It is widely available in bookshops and online, or via the publisher’s website at https://dernierpublishing.com/product/olivers-secret/


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

advent, Christian Writer, christmas, Connected to God, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness

FAITHFUL IN THE WAITING

Christmas stockings hanging on a fireplace

Well, a few days from now the wait will almost be over, and excited children will be putting out their stockings in hopeful expectation for them to be filled with goodies. For most children, I guess they have had very little to do once school is over, except to wait impatiently for Christmas.

For parents and most grown-ups, it’s a been very different scenario – frenetic being the word that comes to mind! Too much to do and too little time. It’s a very busy wait!

A KING OF DAVID’S LINE

The child whose birth we are celebrating, was born in the city of David, Bethlehem, and of David’s line. He was, as God had promised, a direct descendant of Israel’s great king.

Text of a carol...to you in David's town, this day, is born of David's line

We can learn a lot from David’s story, the lowly shepherd that became God’s chosen leader of His people. As a young boy, God had promised David he would be king, but he had to wait very many years – until he was maybe thirty years old – to see the fulfilment of that promise. In the meantime, he didn’t just sit back and wait. In the time that he was waiting for that extra-ordinary destiny to be fulfilled he continued to obediently and whole-heatedly obey God and serve others. David looked after his fathers sheep. He challenged and killed a giant. He served King Saul as court musician and as an accomplished soldier. He trained and provided for a group of mighty warriors, and served and protected his own growing family. He also wrote a whole heap of beautiful worship songs.

FAITHFUL IN THE LITTLE THINGS

Waiting well isn’t about just sitting back and letting things happen. Perhaps we are waiting for a promise from God to be fulfilled in our lives. Whilst we are waiting we need to be asking God what we can do with our time and energy. It’s about continuing to love, and serve, and being faithful in the small things.

Text of Luke 16 v10

The waiting period became a training period for David; growing and maturing him, proving his character, so that he was ready to take on the kingship he had been promised. While we are waiting, God is very likely doing the same with us; preparing us for the great things that He has destined for us to do for Him.

A BLESSED CHRISTMAS

I hope for you that the waiting for Christmas has been a blessed time this year, and that you are rejoicing already in the wonderment of the miraculous birth of our Saviour. I pray that if you are waiting for your own miracle, your yet-to-be fulfilled promise, whether it be for yourself or someone you love, that your waiting period will see you drawing even closer to the Promise Giver, who gave His very self out of love for you.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Belonging, Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, christmas, Faith, Forgiveness, Grief, Seasons of life

TALKING TO CALIPPA CUMBERLAND: BLOG TOUR BOOK REVIEW

Christmas is coming! I know, I’m beginning to panic a bit too – it’s less than a month to go and I don’t feel in any way prepared for it! I am however praying that this Christmas will be a good one; a celebration of family and fun, a ray of light in the dark winter days, a time full of joy and hope. It will be wonderful, yet again, to tap into the true meaning of Christmas and look beyond the festivities to the One who came to bring the joy and hope, and dare I say it, fun!

I love Christmas. I treasure the memories of Christmases past and truly look forward to this one, especially as it is my first as a grandparent! But for many, Christmas isn’t a time for celebration, and may not carry those happy memories. For many, Christmas is a stark reminder of loved ones lost, of childhood traumas, of heartbreak and of the relentless passing of the years. It can be an acutely painful and lonely time.

ONE CHRISTMAS EVE

Front cover of the book, Talking to Calippa Cumberland

Chick Yuill has drawn on that reality in his latest novel, Talking to Calippa Cumberland and I am absolutely thrilled to have been included in the blog tour. It all starts one Christmas Eve in 1976. A small child shopping with her mother in a department store hears the tannoy announce that there is a little girl lost and crying for her parents. For 3 year old Lori Bloom that lost child stays in her heart and imagination. The name she thinks she has heard is ‘Calippa Cumberland,’ and Calippa becomes her imaginary friend, someone she can talk to and confide in, someone who perhaps understands her. Because the truth is that Lori Bloom is herself lost.

As chapter follows chapter we follow Lori’s life through a snapshot of subsequent Christmas Eves. We journey with her into her teens and into adulthood, as she discovers painful secrets, faces betrayal, suffers heart-breaking loss, and makes life choices with complicated consequences. All the time she is confiding in her faceless friend, Calippa Cumberland. All the time searching for someone who understands and someone she can finally, fully trust.

UTTERLY COMPELLING AND DEEPLY PLEASING

Back cover of the book, Talking to Calippa Cumberland

The book is utterly compelling. I read it in almost one sitting. Chick draws Lori’s character so well, and describes the things she goes through sensitively and convincingly. It is not a maudlin book, but it is real and raw in places. The story brings tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat, but also the odd smile and nod of understanding. It covers subject matters that are not uncommon, things that many of us can relate to in some degree. You find yourself rooting for Lori, hoping that she will ultimately find what she is looking for.

She does find good friends, and one in particular has a lasting and positive effect on her. Not to divulge any spoilers. Let’s just say things definitely get better for Lori, and she comes to terms with much of what life has thrown at her in a deeply pleasing way.

WHO ARE WE TALKING TO?

I was unsure at first of the device Chick used to let us hear Lori’s deepest thoughts. Is it strange to have an imaginary friend, even in adulthood? Is it strange to write notes to them pouring out your soul? Well as one of the characters in the book says…

 ‘every night before I sleep I have a conversation with someone I can’t see, who many people tell me is a figment of my imagination and whose existence I can’t prove…’

What Lori is doing, is what many of us do in praying and journaling. Except of course, for those who know Him, Jesus is no imaginary friend. Talking to Calippa Cumberland is Christian fiction, and the message of the gospel is there subtly throughout, but is never forced down your throat. I found myself yearning for Lori to meet the one person she could completely trust and pour out her thoughts, fears and feelings to. The One who could make the lost child feel found again, and forever secure.

The book set against a Christmas scene

A FABULOUS CHRISTMAS GIFT

I loved this book, and Chick writes so well, especially as he convinces us that he knows what it feels to be like a woman with definite female issues to contend with! And I salute his encyclopaedic knowledge of Christmas Number Ones! I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially seeing as Christmas is just around the corner. This book would make a fabulous gift to anyone who loves a well written and beautifully told story based around Christmas. And perhaps is also a book not just for Christmas…

photo of the author

SPECIAL OFFER

As a special offer, Chick is offering readers of this blog, a signed paperback copy of the book for the discounted price of £9.00. To avail yourself of this kind offer, and to bless the author, contact him via margaretyuill@martyart.co.uk  before 4th December and quote the code joysblogg

Talking to Calippa Cumberland by Chick Yuill, was published by Instant Apostle (22 Oct 2021), ISBN 1912726483, RRP £9.99, and is available from all the usual places.

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage

THE PILGRIM WAY

I love that I live in an area where there is a rich history of centuries of Christianity, and that is traversed by ancient paths well-trod by many a pilgrim. When I started writing my second novel, I knew it would be about Hywel, and that it would include monks and abbeys, but I also wanted him to take a physical journey. And what better way than to make it a pilgrimage? A recognisable one. And I had the perfect fit, right on my doorstep –  the North Wales Pilgrim route from Holywell to Bardsey.

It is a route still walked by pilgrims and walkers today, although it perhaps does not have the prestige it once had. In medieval times it was said that if you completed the pilgrimage to Bardsey three times, it was the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Rome, in terms of the favour and indulgences it could earn you. Today it is just a beautifully scenic route, following the seacoast and traversing mountains, with ancient holy sites and churches along it’s route. If those are things that interest you.

I have never done the full route, and I would love to, if ever I am able to. But there are pilgrim sites that I have visited many times and are dear to me. They also feature in Hywel’s story as significant places, where he encounters God in different ways.

CLYNNOG FAWR

Large ornate stone built church with castellation sand large pillion windows.
St Beuno’s Church, Clynnog Fawr

This little village with a large church sits on the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. It was a busy place in the height of the pilgrimage era, hosting pilgrims and providing for their needs. A must stop for the medieval pilgrim, not least for St Bueno’s healing well nearby. The church that stands there now would not have been there when Brother Hywel arrived. But there was a church, and in that church Hywel experiences something of heaven in the simple worship of it’s community.

PISTYLL

Small stone church nestled on a hillside with the sea visible beyond
Pistyll Church

All that remains at Pistyll is the tiny pilgrim church, perched as it is on the cliff top. This is probably the very church that Hywel would have stepped into. Before the simple altar in this one-roomed stone building Hywel truly understands what mercy and grace mean to him personally. I love Pistyll, its peace and beauty. It stays with you, as it will in Hywel’s heart.

UWCHMYNYDD

It is no lie to say that this is my favourite place in the whole world. To stand on this cliff top, overlooking the island of Bardsey and the wide endless ocean beyond, really feels like you are standing on the edge of the world. And that if you reach up your hands you could touch heaven itself. It is a thin place. Yes the views are magnificent and the sea air fresh and clean, but it is more than that. I have never felt closer to the Creator in any other place I have been. I think it might be partly due to the thousands of faithful saints that have stood on that hill, overjoyed at last to see the island that was their destination. Full of praise to God for getting them there. Hywel feels it too, and experiences a moment of sheer exuberant joy on that mountain top.

Grassy clifftop with path, looking over the sea towards a small island. Wide expanse of clouds and skies with hazy light.

I would love to tell you more about Hywel’s pilgrimage and what he sees and experiences on the way, but for that you will have to read the book! The Pilgrim is due to be published July 2022 but you can pre-order a copy from me now  https://joymargetts.com/contact/

And if you would like a sneak preview of The Pilgrim then do subscribe to my newsletter and in a few days time you will receive a post with an extract from the book, and a little bit of information about my personal connection with Hywel’s story. You can sign up here     https://joymargetts.com/

Thank you for being a part of my writing journey, which has become such a huge part of my own life pilgrimage.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bearing Fruit, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Grief, Healing, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Seasons of life, The Passion Translation, The Word of God

HARVESTING JOY: A NEW BOOK!

I have realised that four out of my last five blog posts have featured other people’s books. Now that is not a bad thing; I love reading and reviewing books. And there have been some great books to read and review! But I do think that perhaps I should dedicate this blog post to talking about my own book!

A NEW BOOK

A smiling author signing a publishing contract

 Not The Healing, or even The Beloved, much as I love talking about them. No, I’d like to talk to you about another book. A new book. I have gone and done it again. I written a second full length novel and have signed a publishing contract with Instant Apostle. The Pilgrim will be published, God willing, in July of next year. Which seems an awful long time to wait, but I’m sure will speed by! There is plenty to keep me and my wonderful publishers busy between then and now, I’m sure.

When I wrote The Healing, I had no idea where it would lead! I loved the whole writing and publishing process so much that almost as soon as The Healing was published I had started writing The Pilgrim. Brother Hywel needed his own story, and so the idea for a prequel was born. (Now I know that isn’t the normal way to do things, but it worked for Star Wars!). It was a much harder slog to get the book down this time, made yet harder by the disruption of major house renovations and the arrival of a new grandson. But the manuscript is finally finished, and I am so grateful for Instant Apostle having enough faith in it to publish it for me.

I won’t bore you with all the story details at this stage, as I’m sure there will be time enough for that over the next few months. Needless to say it involves monks, abbeys, and horses, and a redemptive journey in the form of a pilgrimage.  If you want to get sneak previews you can always go to my website and sign up to receive my newsletter, as that will be where I will be posting a lot more about the book in the coming weeks. http://www.joymaretts.com

HARVEST OF JOY

Sheaves of ripened wheat in a sunlit field

I was reading Psalm 126 this week, ‘ They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’ I know there are many ways of interpreting that verse, but for me it seemed to just speak into what God has miraculously been doing in my life. There has been a lot of weeping. I grieved, and still do grieve at times, the life that my illness stole from me. But I can look back now, and see that what was being sown, as I wept, was the seed for what I am able to do now. Now I can write; words of truth and life, words of hope and redemption, all wrapped up in historic fiction about medieval Welsh monks! And my words can touch many –  I have had  so many messages from readers to prove that this is actually happening. Maybe this is the harvest – the abundance of sheaves that can have my heart rejoicing. It really feels like it might be. And it is all down to Him.

Those who sow their tears as seeds
    will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.
 They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
    but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
    as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!

PSALM 126 :5 – 6 The Passion Translation

The Pilgrim Fantastical pre-order Prize draw. Sign up for a pre-order copy now to win a chance of winning one of three great prizes.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com