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Tag Archives: family-history

Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Spring 2017)

Passed and Present, by Allison Gilbert~ Do you have a growing collection of objects that hold fond memories? Maybe they are things that remind you of your childhood, or memorabilia from a deceased loved one.  Over time, these items—as beloved as they are—begin to take up a lot of space.  It can be difficult to part with them and can feel like a loss all over again.  Because I am very sentimental, I am beginning to feel stressed by the amount of material things I am fond of.  That’s why this book caught my eye as I was passing the new release shelf at my local library.  It’s chock-full of creative ideas one use to put their heirlooms and other memorabilia to good use.  Some of it involves art projects, or different display techniques, while other ideas invite the participation of others (friends, family, even strangers).  What’s nice is that this book isn’t just about the practical use of cold objects, but that the point is aimed at keeping the memory of one’s parent/grandparent/friend, etc. alive.  I was able to get a couple of good ideas I would like to implement someday.  It’s worth checking out!

The Gentle Art of Domesticity, by Jane Brocket~ This was a book I picked up at a book sale and didn’t realize how interesting it was until I got it home and got to looking at the pictures. Just the title alone has won me over, but each chapter after another holds it’s own interest as well.  If you have an interest in noticing art in the everyday small moments, this book is for you.  I don’t pretend to be a June Cleaver, I don’t like crochet or sewing or making every blessed thing from scratch.  But I love the idea of glorying in texture and patterns, identifying one’s style and expressing that in everything.  The author’s own style isn’t particularly my own but I was inspired to create different pinterest boards for myself based on what I like.  Jane Brocket’s conversational rambling of thoughts also make for interesting reading.  And I’m sure the bright colors in the photographs will be enough to brighten anyone’s day!

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Book Review: “A Shred of Truth,” by Eric Wilson

1573358Genre: mystery; suspense; intrigue

Plot Summary: [from goodreads.com] In “The Best of Evil, “Aramis Black uncovered family secrets and historical conspiracies, hoping that his own dark past had come to certain resolution. But now, in the dark of night, he finds his brother unconscious and tied to a statue in Nashville’s Music Row …with the initials AX carved into his back. A shadow from his former life has reappeared, casting threats of violence and retribution. And soon the attacker is swinging his blade of self-righteous judgment directly at Aramis, calling upon him to “face his sins.” Can Aramis finally break free from the guilt of his old ways… or will he succumb to the vengeance of an arrogant sociopath?*

My Book Review:  If you’ve read my book review of the first in the Aramis Black mysteries, you’ll know I highly enjoyed The Best of EvilNow Aramis’ story continues, starting with an assault on his older brother.

The narrative stays consistently the same in this second installment with Aramis telling the story in first person, often ruminating over his pain and anguish– first at one end of the spectrum of emotions and then swinging the next moment to the other end.  One of the hallmarks of this series seems to be the Blacks’ family history wrapped up in various conspiracy theories of American history.  This time around, it’s the Pilgrim father William Brewster and his involvement in Freemasonry.  A mysterious ring wanted by an anonymous person who calls his himself “AX.”  What does this have to do with Aramis’ mother, Diane Lewis Black, who was killed when Aramis was yet a little boy?  …Or was she?

I have little knowledge about William Brewster and the Freemasons.  Is it true or is it hype?  All I know is that even though I don’t accept Freemason teachings, I’m not freaked out about American founding fathers being involved, mainly because I don’t believe they believed they were doing anything anti-biblical in the early days of it.  But again, this is just my own speculation and I don’t know enough about it.

491d413f37cb35f482c25b3f3f479a0bI enjoyed the read, but wished that the story had given more information about the theory itself, and didn’t continually dwell on the same old ruminations that go through Aramis’ mind as he works his way through the mystery concerning his family.  He seems to go round and round in circles a lot because he doesn’t know exactly what he wants.  But overall the book was suspenseful and intriguing.  I never saw the end coming!

I can very well imagine Aramis in my mind.  I’m convinced that one of the librarians at my local library is Aramis under a different name (has black hair, always wears black, and has tattoos down both arms).

I wish there were more in this series, but sadly it doesn’t seem as though there are any on the horizon.  I know I like this author enough to want to try several others by him, and am looking forward to it, too.  So if you like a good story loaded with mysterious historical secrets, family intrigue, and riddles, I’d say A Shred of Truth would definitely be a good fit for you!

*For whoever wrote this book summary: For the record, I think this word really ought to be changed to ‘psychopath’.  Do your research. 😉

?Did any one else take the hint at the end of the book and figure out what the last letter of each chapter spells out?  Very creative!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Past is Prologue: Hunting for Hidden “Easter Eggs”/ (booklearned’s 3rd anniversary!)

09cca1b215afe1947e4d61515a4a30a3Most of us have known the fun of an Easter egg hunt.   Perhaps when we were children, some older family member made finding the eggs difficult by hiding them in the most unlikely (or most obvious) of places.  And if we were especially lucky, the eggs might have had little treasures like candy, trinkets or money hidden inside them.  That made finding them even more exciting!

But what if I told you there’s another kind of treasure hunt that can make the heart thump even more if we find something particularly special? The name of a previously unknown ancestor, for instance.  They could be ordinary folks who tried to live the best way they knew how, or they may have had some kind of importance in history.  Perhaps they lived near a site when a famous event took place.

Whoever my ancestors were and whatever they did, it never ceases to excite me when I find new names to add to my family tree. It gives me a pleasant thrill, even if I have no more information than their names.  Because our family trees get bigger and bigger the farther back they go, it can be overwhelming at times.  But then, I don’t think I’d want to reach a complete dead end on every branch and twig because the discovery is what is the most fun.  One can find out so much about their own personal background through doing this.  To think that if only one of these people had neglected to come together with their partner would mean that we wouldn’t be here right now… It makes one humble and grateful.

Personally, I am content with just researching direct ancestors, with an occasional research foray into their siblings if they were particularly interesting. I’m not so much into researching all the lines in my extended family from several hundred years ago.  But I know there are many family researchers who enjoy digging this deeply.  They are the ones who find even more deeply hidden Easter eggs!

Searching your past family history requires time, effort, and patience. But so much is available at the reach of the internet nowadays, that you basically don’t even have to get off the couch to hunt for them.  Personal heritage can be much more satisfying than a dozen or so of plastic eggs.

What are some exciting discoveries you’ve made while delving into your family past?

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2016 in Past is Prologue Series

 

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Past is Prologue: “And So-&-So Begat So-&-So…”

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How I imagine “Eve,” the mother of all the living.

Recently I’ve been working on a project in my spare time in which I scour Pinterest for photographs of people that I would “cast” in my fantasy film of the Bible. Doing so causes me to really sit down and study bible characters in a whole new way. I’ve come to admire people in the Bible that I hadn’t liked before, or dislike people that I’d thought I did. As I’ve been going along through Genesis and beyond, I’ve also become more consciously aware of which character is descended from whom. This helps me put them in perspective, see where each person is coming from. What people named their children in the Bible is very telling as to their spiritual walk at the time, and it’s interesting to see if they “lived up” to their name.

We see genealogical records over and over throughout the Scriptures. Many of us might be familiar with the recorded lineage of Jesus Christ (see Matt. 1) in which we see one of the fulfilled prophecies that Jesus was of the correct family descent to be the Messiah. But many other individuals’ genealogy is recorded as well. We often see people introduced to us multiple times as being the son of so-and-so. Joshua son of Nun. Joab son of Zeruiah. Abijah daughter of Zechariah. Other genealogies are more complex, such as the lineage of the Koathites in 1 Chronicles 33-47 or the sons of Esau in Genesis 36:10-29. Maybe these histories would bore some, but I find them fascinating. Their exotic sounding names are not just titles—they were real people who raised future generations, for good or ill.

It’s obvious the Bible holds genealogy as important, and not just to prove the lineage of the Messiah. I believe knowing one’s genealogy is important for us as well. When we look out over our family tree, we begin to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around us. We’re just a leaf on the oak or a needle on the pine. Trunks and tree boughs had to grow before us. We start out as twigs and can produce so much more in this life if we so choose and are willing to be used by God. Our story is just a part of the entire story going on since the world began. It’s humbling.

It also can create a feeling of belonging. In our tree analogy, we’re not just an acorn that came from nowhere. Some people don’t have the opportunity to find out where they came from, and when I imagine what that must be like I get a cold sense of loneliness. One can still be their own person regardless, but I think there’s still an emptiness present when one doesn’t know their heritage.

How I imagine "Levi."

How I imagine “Levi.”

Heritage can be both a blessing and a curse. Some would rather not know their background. But it’s important to realize that knowing family history, even if it is not very positive, does not doom an individual’s future because we are free to make our own choices. It’s the old adage about history being learned lest it be repeated. Is there a certain negative pattern that seems to be a characteristic theme going on generation after generation in your family? Knowing is key to understanding how these actions affect you today. Knowing is also key to breaking the pattern of negativity. In Genesis 34, we read of the account of Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi. In a mad fit of rage, they massacred a whole city while the inhabitants were incapacitated. Their father was so mad at them that he disinherited them from being the next of his sons in line to receive the blessing of family leadership (Gen. 49:5-7). Their actions had consequences that did affect future generations for all time. However, their descendants didn’t have to let that affect their choices. It seems Simeon’s line didn’t make much of a particular positive name for themselves throughout the rest of the Bible, but Levi’s tribe did. The two most prominent of this family are Moses, whom the Lord spoke to as a friend would, and Aaron, from whom Israel’s priests were descended. In fact, when Moses discovered that many Israelites had worshipped a golden calf in his absence, he put forth an order than anyone for the Lord should come to him. All the Levites rallied to him.

It’s also important to note that having a good family reputation doesn’t guarantee us the same fate. Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, was chosen and blessed by God. But some of his sons apparently thought they had a corner on the spiritual market because of their descent. In Leviticus 10, Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu grew careless and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord. Things didn’t end too well for them. Scripture informs us they had no offspring to carry on their name.

No one is perfect, but not all genealogy is depressing. There are also heroes in the family that have come before us that we can look at their legacy and claim for our own heritage. I may not agree with everything my ancestors believed spiritually, but I admire their faith in the midst of fiery persecution. I admire the perseverance an ancestor of mine must have had to suffer through the misery of Valley Forge. They might have been only farmers, pioneers, or even wigmakers, but the story of their character has been related through the ages.

The important thing is what did our ancestors make of themselves, and what can we learn from them?

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in Past is Prologue Series

 

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Book Review: The Y Factor, by Liam Roberts

The Y Factor: Scientists Discover a Genetic Secret that Threatens to Wipe Israel Off the Map...Genre: Christian; contemporary; suspense thriller; intrigue

Plot Summary: Computer analyst Eric, and geneticist Alana are a college couple in love when they both take jobs at the National Geographic working as part of the team on the Genographic Project.  But they soon discover that things are not as they seem.  Mysterious computer glitches, disappearances, and secrets abound and they are determined to get to the bottom of it.  Traveling from Cairo, to Tokyo, from Delhi to Pakistan, their international adventures collide with Muslim extremists and a bizarre plan for world domination.

My Book Review:  Hmmm… Suspense, international intrigue, and the National Geographic… sounded like quite an interesting combo to liven things up after I’d spent weeks on an old classic.  I think this especially grabbed my attention since I’d seen a documentary on tv about the NG’s Genographic Project, which can be seen here.

Exploring the author’s website, I discovered that Liam Roberts is a pen name used to protect Roberts’ family, since he writes about certain explosive topics.  This was his first novel, and there should be a sequel expected sometime in the near future, which I am looking forward to reading.  Some are calling his writing, “Christian Tom Clancy”.  I guess I wouldn’t know, but I was impressed that it wasn’t blatantly obvious this was his first book.  I felt the pacing was well-done, and he manages to pull off characters who develop relationally despite the fact that they are separated through three-fourths of the way through the novel.  And we see Eric’s spiritual development as well.  A lot of suspense thrillers don’t throw much by way of a personal life into the story for the characters.

In some ways, the story felt a little unrealistic – not in terms of jihadists (I know that is a reality), but because the main characters are mere college-age students who embark on their own to fight off terrorists, while there is barely little mention of their parents or home life.  I also felt there was no real closure as to what happened to their friend, Hamdi.  We just are left to assume what happened because Eric and Alana apparently lose interest in him.  And I don’t understand the purpose for the character Para, Alana’s assistant in India.  She is in, and then out of the story, but she seems to be unnecessary to the plot.

U.S. Navy Seals ~ someone is about to have a very bad day...I can’t say I was able to follow all of the computer-techie lingo or the maneuvers in the SEALS’ derring-do toward the end of the story, but they were painted in such glowing terms, that I didn’t really mind and was able to follow the gist of things.

Whether it be on topics such as genetic research (and biblical interpretation of it), or Muslim terrorists, the author shows he has real knowledge of what he is talking about.   I think part of what made the story appeal to me was the interweaving of the real life Genographic Project and it’s fascinating findings.

If this story peaks your interest …if you like science thrillers (with a Christian spin) …if you like stories surrounding the War on Terror … this book is for you.  Roberts packs a lot in this exciting novel.  Even SEALS and an attractive Israeli secret agent make an appearance!

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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Silk ASMR App Goes Public!

SILKlogoExciting news!  Silk ASMR’s new app for the Apple Store has now gone public as of June 21!  I participated as an app artist (under my blog name booklearner) in the project last summer and am now spreading the word to all of you.  You can download the app for free, sample recordings for free, and listen to one of my three recordings or any number of the other 40 artists’ 200+ recordings.  Silk ASMR comes preloaded with 40 free crystals + 10 extra free crystals when you take the app survey.  Plus, you can give the app your honest review and help other listeners.

What is ASMR?  ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.  It is experienced by some individuals as a “pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back peripheral regions of the body’ in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli.”  [Wikipedia] Because there is little scientific explanation or verified data, Dr. Craig Richard (professor at Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy) along with several others, created a research project on the phenomenon.  You can learn more at Dr. Richard’s ASMR University website.

8f5b89d6d60fe50c17ee2c31a10b9d2fI do not personally experience ASMR.  But many people use ASMR videos (which seems to be gaining in popularity on YouTube) for relaxation and for help with insomnia.  Some people use ASMR for guided meditation.  Instead, I chose to make my recordings more instructive and creative.  Two of my recordings are freestyle speeches, or lectures if you will, on the topics of the importance of family history and journaling.  I hope they are found to be inspiring and motivating.  They both started out as articles on this blog, which I then turned into my app speeches and erased from booklearned to avoid copyright issues.  The third recording is a collection of poetry by L. M. Montgomery.

0c772e33d28aef341be2def2986598d0Some youtube videos out there on ASMR are kind of ‘iffy’.  But I felt confident in Dr. Richard’s research and enjoyed working with him on this project.  One thing that makes this project unique is that you can mix and layer different soundtracks together.  So, you can select someone speaking, then add in some background sound effects such as crinkling, tapping, white noise, and relaxing music.  You can custom make it to suit your liking!  The app is brand new, but already the reviews are saying that the app is professional, realistic, and user-friendly.  I asked the professor how he came to name the app Silk ASMR, and he replied:

“We wanted our name to represent quality and comfort, attributes well known to the material of silk. Another major reason was the word itself. The “sk” sound is one of the strongest vocal sounds for stimulating ASMR in many individuals….

“The app icon is a silk moth. Specifically, actias luna, also known as the “luna moth.” Its transformation from an earth-bound caterpillar to a free-flying moth is a metaphor for how someone may feel after being relaxed, well rested, or after experiencing ASMR. Our hope is that this app will bring you a similar type of transformation or rejuvenation.”

I’m grateful to Dr. Richard for the opportunity, as well as thankful to Ruth Golding, an ever-popular fellow Librovoxer from across the pond who helped me with the technical side of things.  She also contributed to the app.

I hope you’ll take the time to enjoy my recordings (you’ll find me as booklearner)!  You can visit Silk’s website here, plus follow Silk on the following social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/silkasmr

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+SilkASMRapp

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SilkASMR

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/SilkASMRapp

Instagram: https://instagram.com/silkasmr/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bqkQor

Forum: http://silkforum.boards.net/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/silkasmr/

You can find tutorials and demos on YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook.  Enjoy!  🙂

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Quote for June 10, 2015

3209e8a519842b87dc6ab6e1edfe1ed1“…This is your story, and you have to write it.  If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost.  Honor your own stories and tell them, too.  The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in Quotes

 

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