Hope Scribbles

a children’s book in January

The Midwife’s Apprentice is one of those children’s books that can be read and enjoyed by anyone … adults, of course, as well as children. I discovered it a couple of years ago and it’s had a home on my bookcase ever since in defiance of the fact that, in a lot of ways, it’s “not my sort of book”. The story is powerful and unforgettable in spite of my usual reading preferences.

It’s difficult to know what to say about a book that is so beautiful and tiny … and beautiful in spite of being gritty.

The heroine of the story is an orphan girl without a home or a family or a name. One day in Medieval England she’s found by the midwife sleeping in a dung heap for warmth. She’s called Beetle by the villagers and becomes “the midwife’s apprentice”. She fetches and carries and does – in return for a roof over her head and dry bread – what no one else wants to do. The midwife is unkind and the boys of the village tease and torment Beetle. She doesn’t expect more and her life is better now than ever before … especially when she’s warm enough and fed enough to notice the world.

I don’t care for the gritty detail and the two bad words (bad in England, anyway), but I’m captivated by the story of transformation that follows this unpromising beginning.

First Beetle saves a cat from drowning. And then she saves a boy from drowning. She delivers a calf and then a baby. She finds a homeless waif in the pigsty and tells him that “Runt” is no name for a little boy. He chooses the King of England’s name so Beetle finds out what the king’s name is before sending Edward to the manor where he’ll find honest work and good food. And then comes the day when, at a fair, someone mistakes Beetle for a girl called Alyce who can read. She looks at her reflection and realises that she looks like that sort of girl.

I don’t want to spoil the story but I was mesmerised by what happened next … how Beetle, now called Alyce, fails to deliver a stubborn baby and runs away. And, more than that, how she discovers that Beetle is Alyce, how she learns to be kind and generous and tenacious in spite of her own hardship and suffering, how she becomes Alyce.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend The Midwife’s Apprentice for anyone under twelve, but I recommend it for anyone over twelve who enjoys a good story and is willing to risk the grittiness and recognise the beauty of a remarkable story.

A 2015 Reading Challenge

It’s almost the end of January and I’m very, very, very late to the book club or reading challenge party. However … oh, yes, there’s an “however” here!

I haven’t done a lot of reading since I finished my degree and I want that to change … in a good way. I’ve had a look at a couple of the reading challenges suggested by friends and blogs (notably here) and designed my own for 2015. I’ll be trying to follow it and blog about it here.

It would be lovely if you joined me in the comments or by linking to a post on your own blog, but whether or not you choose to do so, here’s my own personal reading challenge for 2015 …

2015 Reading Challenge

In January I hope to read … a children’s book.

In February I hope to read … a book I have on my bookcase but haven’t read.

In March I hope to read … a book I want to read.

In April I hope to read … a book I was recommended.

In May I hope to read … a book about what I do (most probably scribbling).

In June I hope to read … an old book (published before 1950).

In July I hope to read … a book about my country and heritage.

In August I hope to read … a book about another country or heritage.

In September I hope to read … a new book (published after 2010).

In October I hope to read … a classic novel.

In November I hope to read … a book found in a second-hand shop.

In December I hope to read … one of my favourite books.

The Sound of Diamonds: Cover Reveal

I think that having friends who write books is lovely! A colleague and friend from Kindred Grace, Rachelle Rea, is publishing the first book in a series of historical novels – the Steadfast Love series – with WhiteFire Publishing in 2015. I have a couple of friends who write books but I didn’t know that Rachelle was among them until she shared the news about the trilogy on Facebook. Now I couldn’t be more thrilled for Rachelle and I’m excited to introduce her debut novel here on Hope Scribbles … isn’t this book cover gorgeous?!?

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Coming in 2015 …

The Sound of Diamonds

In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor—at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.

An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.

But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome? When Dirk’s plan fails, could all be lost?

Rachelle Rea

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

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