Monday, 22 January 2018

Under the Dragon Star - a book review

Bujana just finished reading a really wonderful book. It is a magical YA fantasy novel that we both really fell in love with. If you or your kids love beautifully written prose and tales that take you somewhere far away in your imagination you will love Under the Dragon Star. Here is her review.

Book review – Under the Dragon Star

Title of book: Under the Dragon star
Author: Kira Lily Nash

Summary: Analai is a young girl who was born and brought up in the magical land of Mairbell. She lives in the castle with her Father, King Johin and Elder brother who had mysteriously disappeared after being sent to the City. Her Mother had disappeared mysteriously when Analai was nine, leaving no trace but an enigmatic pendent. After many years of living within the boundaries of Mairbell, Analai discovers that war will soon be upon them. Fearful of the future she desperately struggles to learn everything she can about her magical gifts and how to use them to defend her homeland and her family. To have any hope of saving her home, Analai must travel the kingdom to find help to tame the hidden magic that lies within her and use it to defeat the darkness.
With the help and trust of her loyal friends, she knows she has the power to  free her world. First though, she needs to be able to see them.

Who are your Favourite characters and why: My favourite characters are Analai, Renpa and Raila. I love all these characters because I can relate to them in different ways. I love Raila because she shares a sweet and special bond with Analai's magic dragon Renpa.
I love Renpa because of his innocence and clumsiness. Renpa is a small, old and slow little dragon who loves to eat cake and wear hats. He shares a special bond with Analai and will defend her whenever she is in danger. He is a big softy and will love anyone who is willing enough to give him a good belly rub. But whenever his friends are in need of his help, he will always be there for them to rely on.
Analai is brave and her soul has a deep longing for adventure, but she loves her family, and would move mountains for the ones she cares about. The journey that takes her far beyond her borders is not just a journey to save her homeland and find help, but a journey to find what is hidden deep inside of her and finally understand who she is and who she is meant to be.

 What words would you use to best describe this book? The book was very adventurous and full of vivid descriptive imagery. I could  picture everything that was happening and became easily engrossed in the story. I was captivated by the characters and loved curling up in my favourite chair and letting my mind sink into the world of Analai. 

Did you care about the characters and why? The wonderful thing about this book is that the characters in it are so varied and diverse that practically anyone can relate a part of themselves to at least one of the characters. Seeing something that reflects a part of you inside of someone else is a great ways to get people to care about the characters feelings. I found that I could really relate Analai, because I am still young, I am also in the search for who I am and who I want to be.

What is your favourite part of the book and why? My favourite part of the book is when Rasod, Renpa and Analai and all her friends get to Rasod’s house. In the house Analai practices her magic by baking a cake and uses her powers to lift the ingredients into the cake mix and bake it with her magic. I like this part of the book because, after journeying far through the kingdom and desperately struggling for everything she knows, Analai can finally feel the comforts of a warm bed and warm food and at last get to enjoy doing things in her spare time such as baking a cake. This part of the story makes me feel happy and relaxed like I am home that is why I like this scene the best.

What would you rate this book out of ten and why?
I would rate this Novel a Nine out of ten because it was  an exciting, adventurous and magical book. It was a very inspiring tale and I finished it with a great longing to read more. I also loved the atmosphere that wove its way through the book. I felt as if I'd really spent some time in a completely different world. I  recommend this book for ten to sixteen year olds but I think that adults would enjoy it too!

For more info click here.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

A New Venture: Moss and Lichen

I have started a new website: Moss and Lichen

The concept of the site is to create a virtual retreat/journal space/ where I will share quiet (hopefully) weekly journal prompts as well as quotations, scripture and meditations.

Depending on how well it goes I might take it to its own domain. As it is still in embryo stage it has a rather clunky url but the site name is Moss and Lichen. It just spoke to me and seemed as good a name as any other. I'm sure I'll uncover, as time passes, deeper reasons for why that name came to me but perhaps not.
The forest has always been my soul home so perhaps Moss and Lichen are a kind of Manna there.  Bread for the journey.

I may still post here from time to time too but most of our homeschooling/crafty adventures will be shared over at our youtube channel "This Soulful Life"

I do also post regular moments from our days over at my Instagram page:

"A Soulful Life in Pictures"

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Advent Wreathe...

 Advent Wreathjpg

My daughter Emmy wrote this little play for her Church youth group last year. It is now a beautiful part of our own advent tradition. Please feel free to share these readings in your own home:)


Introduction: - 

I am the wreath and I am a symbol of advent. Advent is the time of preparation before Christmas day. I represent God himself, his eternity, love and endless mercy which have no beginning or end.
I express the hope that people have in God; the hope of newness, renewal and eternal life.
Cedar branches can be woven into me, they symbolise healing and strength. Holly berries are placed on me to represent sacrificial love and the blood of Christ which was shed on the cross. Holly leaves are also placed on me to signify the crown of thorns that was put on the head of Jesus at his crucifixion. Pinecones are put on me to symbolise life and resurrection. Laurel can be woven through me and this represents victory over persecution, suffering and death.
Finally, I hold the four outer candles. They represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of advent, which, in turn, symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
There are three purple candles and one pink. The three purple candles are used for the first, second and third weeks of advent, they symbolise: Hope, peace and love. The pink candle is used for the fourth week of advent and symbolises joy.
I also encircle the white candle, and that represents the light that our Lord Jesus brought into the world on Christmas day.

First Candle:-

I am the first candle. I am hope. Do you want to know why I am the most important candle? Just listen to my story.
Once, long ago in the vast stillness of a desert night three wise kings of the east noticed something shine like a diamond from the coal black sky.  It was a star; a star never charted nor gazed upon before. In that shimmering silence of the desert it shone, brighter than any star had ever done before or since.
They wondered as all men are bound to, whether they should leave their families, their work and their home to take this trip of a lifetime. Follow the call of the prophets who had spoken in ancient tongues about this sign.
Without knowing where they would end up, they mounted their camels with the barest provisions and stepped out into the night. Yes, this star had kindled something within their hearts too.
It was hope.  
And although the journey was long, the star lit their path.
When they found the child, these three wise and learned Kings took off their crowns and bowed. Then they laid down their gifts at his little feet.
It is hope that leads us through the night to the stable. Hope that finds the Christ child. I am hope. I am the most important.
Without me you can’t even begin your journey.

Second Candle:-

I am Peace. I am the most special part of the  Christmas wreathe and I’m sure you’ll agree once you’ve heard my story.
Once long ago some shepherds were watching their flocks through the night.  In those days wolves prowled and lambs could easily wander off so they needed to be carefully watched both day and night. This night was just as any other, no different. The younger shepherd boys played with the little lambs and the men told old, worn but favourite stories to pass the long night. Suddenly they could hear a rustling in the distant brush. They all fell silent. The boys held their lambs tight in fear and the men reached for their staffs.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, an unknown figure drew close to their little group. The figure was surrounded by a gentle, golden light.
At first the younger boys huddled together in fear. Even the men covered their faces with their hands. Then the angel spoke.
And suddenly all their fear fell away like a heavy coat of armour. 
All that was left on that ragged hill was peace.
I am peace.
Peace is the gift Jesus brings. It is a gift unlike anything the world can give.
 This is why I am the most special candle of all. 

Third Candle:-

I am joy and I am the most wonderful candle of all. Please stay a while and share in my happiness.
I am the carol singing of Christmas Eve and peal of the bells on Christmas morning.
I am the feeling the three Kings felt when they reached that simple dwelling of the Holy Family.
I am the feeling the shepherds felt when they knew that out of all the great men of the world, the angel had come to bring his message to them, the poor and lowly first!
I am the party to prepare for and enjoy. I am God’s smile upon His people. I am the blessing a Father gives his child.
 I am joy.
This is why I am the most wonderful thing about Christmas.

Forth Candle:-

I am love and that is what Christmas is all about. I am the reason for the season. I am also the # 1 gift of the season.
 I am swaddled tight and good within every human heart. 
All you’ve got to do is un-wrap me!
I am the bringing together. I make us all a family; Rich and poor, simple and wise, strangers and friends, heaven and earth.
I am Love.
And this is why I am all that matters most.

Last Candle:-

I am the Christ candle, the white candle, the light of the world.
I am the last candle to be lit.
 All the other candles were simply preparing for this moment; the moment when hope, peace, joy and love were born into the world through the first breath of a newborn baby.
I am pure white like light.
Long ago in the musty depths of a stable filled with animals and hay a young girl wrapped her first born child in simple, white swaddling bands. What must she have been thinking as she gazed into his eyes? As her heart swelled and brimmed with love. What were her first words to him?
Did she see in his little face the life that was to come?  Did she wonder at the dark and distant places his light was born to shine in? 
I am the last candle, the Christ candle the light of the world.
This is why I am the most honoured candle of all.


Dear candles! All of us signify important stages in the journey of advent.
God is eternal like the circle and each one of you is a part of that circle.
Without even one of you that circle would not be whole, would not be holy.
Look out beyond yourselves!
Friends and family have gathered around this circle that we have made. Hand in hand they are singing and praying and spreading joy outwards.
Yes! Our message is rippling in ever increasing circles, widening, embracing, enveloping, illuminating more and more of the darkness.
Replacing despair with hope, fear with peace, and hatred with love until the light of Christ shines in each one of us!

Love this depiction of the Blessed Mother.