Review of the Hardest Peace

Katherine Wacker:

Leaving a Legacy….

Originally posted on Katherine's Chronicle:

the hardest Peace
In her book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard, Kara Tippetts shares her journey with stage four cancer. As a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young children, Tippets chronicles painful childhood memories, her teenage rebellion, and her encounter with Jesus Christ before discussing her life-altering diagnosis. This is a story of an ordinary woman, happily married and enjoying every moment as a mom, when she finds herself thrust into devastating circumstances. But in the midst of the dark times, Tippetts has found “beauty in the brokenness” and grace in the most dreaded “gift” one could ever receive.

Words are limited when describing the impact this story has on the reader. It is heart-breaking but hopeful, incredible but authentic. Tippets endures indescribable suffering while she maintains an unshakable faith in a sovereign Savior who gives grace in the hardest of places. This book…

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Review of The Accidental Empress

The Accidental Empress


When her older sister, Hélène, becomes engaged to Emperor Franz Joseph, Elizabeth travels with her to Vienna to support her timid sibling. However, protocol is turned on its head when the monarch falls in love with Elizabeth instead. The sister is relieved, but will Elizabeth return his affection? More importantly, Will she survive the political upheaval and the insidious intrigue that dominates the Imperial Court?

To the author’s credit, the life at court for a Hapsburg King and Queen has been well-researched in The Accidental Empress. The attention to detail as far as wardrobe, custom, and protocol allows readers to immerse themselves in royal life as well as the setting in which the novel is placed. The geo-political events surrounding the story also give the novel a sense of authenticity and intrigue.

The narration and dialogue in The Accidental Empress are inconsistent. There are times which the prose and dialogue are exquisite, expressed in breath-taking detail, full of color and variety. Nevertheless, there are pages upon pages of description are tiring, and the dialogue switches from language used in 1850’s Europe to modern-day vernacular and therefore distracts from the story. Because of the inconsistent voice, the authenticity and uniqueness of each character is called into question.

The Accidental Empress is told through Elizabeth’s point of view. Because of the trials she faces at court, the reader cannot help but be sympathetic. She has enough weaknesses as to be realistic and believable, but is frustratingly weak. In addition, there are times when the characters inexplicably switch points of view, which is understandably confusing to the reader.

The way the novel is structured gives it a literary feel. The attention to detail is the greatest strength. However, the pace of the novel suffers because so many nonessential elements are over explained. The finer points of court etiquette lend to the richness of historical background, but the excessive detail makes for slow plotlines. For as long as The Accidental Empress is, it has a meandering climax with an abrupt ending which only leads to more questions.

The conflict in The Accidental Empress is one of the stronger aspects of the novel and makes the reader wish there were more of it. The political intrigues and struggle for power within the royal court are fascinating, but the geo-political clashes are not sufficiently explained. A large portion of the plot centers around the love story of the Emperor and Empress and it is effectively communicated throughout the novel. The romance ranges from sweet and sensual, to that of a soap opera with no satisfactory ending.

The Accidental Empress does not have a deep spiritual message. Although the characters attend church, the author does not seem to relay any religious truth to the audience. The target audience is women, but they should be aware that there are scenes that, although may not be inappropriate, depict mature situations. There is also some dialogue in the beginning which is more suitable for Shakespeare’s audience than Christian readers.

Apart from weaknesses in structure, form, and dialogue, the deliberate misrepresentation of facts is the greatest objection to this novel. History is full of interesting stories as The Accidental Empress can attest. Readers not familiar with a particular period of time or people who played an important role in the past may choose to familiarize themselves through the effective vehicle of a story. Historical Fiction informs as well as entertains with the logical expectation that the author has some license to make the novel engaging. Though Elizabeth’s affair with the Count may be consistent with the times, possible, and even understandable in view of her husband’s numerous extra-marital relationships, there is little evidence in the historical record to suggest that she was unfaithful to her husband. This not only affects the believability of the story but Pataki’s credibility as an author.

Overall, apart from the intriguing information about the Hapsburg royal court and some well-crafted and exquisitely detailed narration, The Accidental Empress is too long, too inconsistent, and too fast and loose with historical facts to recommend it.


I was given a free copy by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Review of Love Without Limits

Love Without Limits


In their book, Love Without Limits: A Remarkable Story of True Love Conquering All, Nick and Kanae Vujicic tell the amazing account of their relationship beginning with their first meeting. Continuing with their courtship, engagement, marriage and early parenthood, they share their delightful tale of how God brought them together. This would be a typical love story except that Nick was born without arms or legs. For understandable reasons, he doubted that he would ever marry. An internationally known speaker and author, Vujicic is open and honest about his disability, his struggle with rejection, loneliness, and the extra challenges. Being of mixed heritage and coming from a broken home, Kanae is also vulnerable as she shares her insights about marriage and motherhood. As a couple, they draw from their personal experiences to help those who are looking for love as well as those who are newly married and want a loving relationship that lasts.

Love Without Limits is told in humorous and heartwarming fashion. There is no doubt that Nick is a gifted communicator who identifies well with those who have physical disabilities and those who have been hurt in relationships. Because of his faith in God, and in spite of the pain and frustration he has experienced, he has made the conscious choice to maintain a positive attitude. His anecdotes about his engagement and his wedding day make the book a fairly quick read.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is the foundational truth that marriage isn’t about getting your needs met but, rather, about putting your spouse’s needs before your own. Another strong aspect is the detailing of warning signs or patterns of behavior in a prospective spouse. Marriage is hard work even when both parties are pulling in the same direction, but can be devastating if there are pre-nuptial problems that aren’t dealt with properly and surface in unmet expectations. To their credit, the Vujicics reiterate that they are not marital or parental experts, as their marriage is still young. However, most of the advice they impart is valuable.

Apart from some unnecessary clichés, the only weaknesses in Love Without Limits are a few statements in the preface that contradict the aim and the focus of the book, that is, marriage is meant to fulfill God’s purposes and set an example of self-sacrifice, and our own desires are subject to those goals.

Told from a Christian perspective, this book is helpful for Christians and non-Christians alike. The Vujicics draw on many biblical principles as they share strategies to maintain strong relationships in the midst of life’s challenges. They go to great lengths to avoid a preachy tone that would alienate non-believers. They do suggest that it would be easier on the relationship if both mates share a common bond of values and beliefs, which would avoid unnecessary conflict and heartache.

Love Without Limits is geared toward singles looking for lasting love and young couples who want to keep their relationship strong. The book is Nick and Kanae’s love story and is also their personal relationship advice. Love Without Limits is helpful, honest, and humorous, and it is written in the hope that others who are seeking to be in a lasting relationship will not give up on love.


I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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How To Write Good.

1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid clichés like the plague. They’re old hat.
4. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
5. Be more or less specific.
6. Writers never generalize.
Seven. Be Consistent.
8.Don’t be redundant. Don’t use more words than necessary. It’s highly superfluous.
9. Who needs rhetorical questions?
10. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.



Posted on The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page on March 15, 2015.

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The First of the Prayers of Saint Patrick

As I arise today,
May the strength of God pilot me,
The power of God uphold me,
The wisdom of God guide me.

May the eye of God look before me,
The ear of God hear me,
The Word of God speak for me.

May the hand of God protect me,
The way of God lie before me,
The shield of God defend me,
The host of God save me.


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Be Still My Soul by Jaime Jorge

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.


Words: Ka­tha­ri­na von Schle­gel

Music: Fin­land­ia, Jean Si­bel­i­us

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A Bit of Poetry From Amy Carmichael

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