Tag Archives: beauty

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Trusting Beyond the Past {Book Review – The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron}

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at
 the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for
distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young 
girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with
 William Hanover—the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul—who may
be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William
 slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist 
Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented
 violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks
 everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her
life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and
barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds 
beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner
recesses of her own troubled heart.

-from the back cover of The Butterfly and the Violin

I’ve now read two WWII novels in the last two weeks, both by debut authors.

And both good reads.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson, 2014) beautifully and powerfully covers deep emotions felt among possible prisoners of WWII and blends it with identifiable relationship and faith struggles in common day. The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

The author writes this book from Adele’s point of view in the early 1940s and from Sera’s point of view in current day Manhattan. The author offers a strong, distinguished voice in each period allowing the reader to easily tell which time period is being read, as well as glimpses into that particular culture. Sera’s story is almost as much as about Adele’s story, but I enjoyed the way the author shows Sera learning from history to grow in her current life.

I felt the first two chapters are a bit obvious in telling backstory, but future chapters revealed smaller bits of backstory slower and in intriguing ways. I was also somewhat surprised at Adele’s boldness in a conversation with her mother in an early chapter. It seemed uncharacteristic considering the dangers Adele and Vladimir had just discussed and the stifling society presented to that point. Even with these small issues in the early chapters, the actions and emotions portrayed are so powerful and interesting, the reader won’t want to put this book down.

This book also asks reasonable questions about faith within unreasonable circumstances.

“Where is He? Why does He not answer the prayers of the many here?” – p. 175

The supporting characters, particularly Penny, Omara, and William, are strong and defined. They greatly add to the story in events, intrigue, and relatability.

This book tackles heart-penetrating themes, including living beyond our past mistakes, believing in God even when we only see evil surrounding us, and opening our eyes to God’s presence and beauty everywhere. As a huge fan of historical fiction, I love the author’s note at the end of the book and find this subculture of Holocaust art extremely interesting (and something I’d like to read about more).

“This, child, is our worship. To live and survive and play to God from the depths of our souls. This is the call that binds us. When we worship in the good times, it brings God joy. But worship in the midst of agony? That is authentic adoration of our Creator.” – p. 235

What period of historical fiction do you find most interesting?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

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Learning from the Mess - a Five Minute Friday post {undergodsmightyhand,com}

Learning from the Mess

I passed by a church sign a few weeks ago that read, “Thank you Lord for the cross.”

Some folks might feel something so terrible and devastating is awfully hard to express gratitude towards.

And it is.

But, look at the beauty that came after the devastation.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Learning from the Mess - a Five Minute Friday post {undergodsmightyhand,com}

My family’s own struggles are nothing compared to what Christ suffered.

But there are things I’ve learned through parenting a child with special needs that I never want to unlearn.

My child, with all his “extra” needs and all his beautiful aspects, teaches me so much about growth and life and even God, who he’s just beginning to grasp.

I’ve learned that:

  • Smiling beats ignoring.
  • Hard work often brings satisfaction more intense than the end product.
  • Perseverance leads to progress.
  • Gratitude spurs perseverance.
  • A hug heals.
  • Dancing is a great way to express joy. 
  • Jumping up and down is a great way to exhale frustration.
  • Challenges inspire creativity for options.
  • Together works better than fighting.
  • Listening and observing (usually) reveal more than talking. 
  • Genuine smiles, especially from a child, cheer up the grumpiest grumps.

I’ve learned all this from mess. From the messy everyday, from extra challenges thrown our way, from my children (thankfully) interrupting my messy ways.

In all this mess, there’s beauty. There’s opportunity to say “yes” to my husband, my kids, my God.

There’s opportunity to renew, to remember, to love, to share grace. All from saying “yes” to the mess and the growth and beauty within it.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

What have you learned from your mess? How have you practicing saying “yes” within that mess?


It’s been quite a while since I’ve joined Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday. Five minutes without edited, where “we write without worrying if it’s just right or not.” This week’s prompt is “mess.Join in on the five minute fun, won’t you?

Five Minute Friday

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Trust and Forgiveness {Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert}

I read Christian fiction for a variety of reasons: entertainment, inspiration, to expand my understanding of characters and setting I’m unfamiliar with. And, largely, to learn from the power of story. We all play our own unique, God-given parts in a much larger story. Reading other people’s stories (whether nonfiction or fiction) can inspire us to grow, to understand, to love better.

Katie Ganshert’s novels do just that.

I first fell in love with Katie’s novels when I read Wishing on Willows as part of her launch team. I then went back and read Katie’s first novel, Wildflowers in Winter. I’m pretty much a fan for life.

I’ve now read Katie’s newest novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful, releasing on April 15th from WaterBrook.A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Katie doesn’t take the easy route in her plot lines. She covers bold, tough topics in her novels, and each of her settings have been intriguing and different from her other books.

In A Broken Kind of Beautiful, we meet Ivy Clark, a ravishingly beautiful 24-year-old who has been a model since she was only 14 years old. But, as Ivy’s career seems to be halting because of the fashion industry’s empty values on outward appearance and age, Ivy realizes she feel more like a beautiful, but empty, shell of a person.

She finally comes to the point where her only modeling job comes from her step-mother, Marilyn, who wants Ivy to be the face of her new wedding dress line for an advertising campaign. Ivy returns to Greenbrier, South Carolina, and finds out her jeopardized career may only be saved if she can convince Davis Knight to return to his photography roots in New York, even though he swore off photography two years ago for reasons Ivy doesn’t understand. Davis treats Ivy drastically different from any other man around Ivy, and she doesn’t know how to take it. Through the book, Ivy struggles with learning the “why” behind Davis’s actions, and wonders if God can see her broken past and still love her.

Katie’s ability to discuss tough topics helps us as readers learn more about others’ situations and look below surface level of situations we know little about (like the fashion industry for me!).

I love so many aspects of Katie’s writing. The dialogue is realistic and not hokey. She slowly reveals backstory in believable ways. She weaves small descriptive details in scenes to create realistic actions without distracting from the reading itself. You can visualize and feel the scenes.

Example: “A gust of heat swept across the floor and wrapped around Ivy’s calves.” – p. 91

Katie masterfully leaves each chapter with a strong emotion hanging. She doesn’t always have to frame that cliffhanger with a question, either. Each chapter ending entices and easily convinces you to go ahead and turn the page.

In Katie’s previous two novels, I related to the main female characters well. In A Broken Kind of Beautiful, I actually found myself relating to the Davis Knight the most. I could definitely relate to portions of Ivy’s character, but I’ve felt my own struggle of guilt and not truly accepting God’s grace-given forgiveness, as Davis does. The side characters (Marilyn, Sara, Arabella, Twila, even Jordan), all add to the story’s fullness, intrigue, and purpose.

This book covers themes of change and comfort zones:

“This world was never meant to be comfortable. It was never meant to feel like home. I took darkness to show me truth.” – p. 174

And trust and forgiveness:

“It doesn’t matter if I forgiven you. It doesn’t even matter if you forgive you. What matters…is that God already has. So stop wearing your past like a pair of handcuffs. – p. 255

I found myself rooting for side characters (and their very interesting stories) nearly as much as I did the main characters, and love many statements, like this one from Marilyn:

“Perhaps there was grace to be found in this mess after all.” – p. 44

"God's calling you to be His son, not His slave. He doesn't want you to wear shackles. Not when He's already cut you free." - from A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Want to learn more? Katie is hosting a Facebook webcast party for A Broken Kind of Beautiful on April 21st, from 6-7pm (CST). Click here to see the Facebook invite.

Follow Katie on Twitter for more news in a couple of weeks about some Twitter book fun, too.

To read more about Katie Ganshert, visit her website and check out an interview I did with Katie last year. Also, check out the book page for this novel on Katie’s website. I love how Katie shares multiple “theme songs” for the book and behind-the-scenes information on the characters and setting! (Check out the “inspiration” video from Matt Chandler on that page, too. Powerful.)

"...the hard is what makes us who we are. The hard is usually what God uses to draw us closer... If I have to choose between what's easy or what will bring me closer to Him, I pray my choice will be Him." - from A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Do you ever hold on to something from your past too long? How do you forgive yourself and accept forgiveness from others? Or, tell us why you read Christian fiction.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as a member of the launch team. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other manner.

When Both Beauty and Danger Line Your Path via Under God's Mighty Hand

When Both Beauty and Danger Line Your Path

Hiking on a mountain trail, it’s easy to let your mind loose in God’s beauty.

When Both Beauty and Danger Line Your Path via Under God's Mighty Hand

We wind our way alongside a steam, climb over rocks and roots, breathe deep, work hard and fun with children on our backs. We end our hike back at an access point near a power station.

One side of a narrow footpath still exudes God’s beautiful creation, but a barbed wire-topped fence lines the other side.

When Both Beauty and Danger Line Your Path via Under God's Mighty Hand

And I think how much this is like our own paths.

One direction harbors danger, the other offers beauty.

The dangerous side might even tempt us with a little beauty here and there, but there’s one thing to remember:

God’s path offers more abundant beauty than any dangerous path can ever offer.

I walk, and I’m thankful for these reminders, this creation, and His beautiful path.

You make known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence, 

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11

I was planning on writing this post today, anyway, and then I saw Lisa-Jo chose the topic “Beautiful” for this week’s Five Minute Friday. Perfect! So, I’ve joined in. Five minutes where we “just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.” No editing or backtracking! Join in on the Five Minute fun, won’t you?

Five Minute Friday

When have you seen both beauty and danger lining your life’s paths?

Weekend Inspiration: His Love

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks… She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:‘Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.’Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:17, 25-30

Thanking God for all the women He placed in my life – mothers or not – who share His love in these ways. Praying we may all do the same through His strength.

Linking up with Deidra at Jumping Tandem today.