Ponderin' The Past...In The Salem Witch Trials

When I read The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner I became extremely curious to learn more about the Salem witch trials, which I had never heard much about.

It started in June of 1692 and lasted through September. Nineteen people were led up Gallow's Hill and  died by hanging, another 5 died in jail, a many more were accused yet never pursued. Another elderly man was pressed to death under stones for not submitting to be tried under the accusation of witchcraft.
Many wonder why this historical event ever took place. It was an unfortunate combination of congregational discord, economic difficulties,  teenage boredom, and personal jealousies that made for the accusations, trials, and executions that occurred in the spring and summer of 1692. 

The first three people arrest were Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn. Tituba was an Indian slave in the house of Samuel Parris. When young Betty Parris became strangely ill in February or 1692, complaining of fever, dashing around, and contorting in pain, the people naturally became worried about what the problem was. Witchcraft was never suspected until three other girls took on a similar illness. When the doctor couldn't cure them with his own medicines, he suggested that it might be possible that the illness came about supernaturally. With an Indian war happening less than seventy miles away, it was easy to believe such a thought. The real cause of their symptoms may have been some mixture of stress, abuse, asthma, guilt, boredom, epilepsy, etc. But with more children taking on such symptoms, the people of the village became more and more suspicious of witchcraft. Someone told Tituba to bake a rye cake with the urine of Betty Parris and feed the cake to a do.  ( Dogs were believed to be used by witches as agents to carry out their devilish commands.) Tituba, who was already known to tell the girls tales of witchcraft from her native folklore, became a serious suspect when it was found out that she baked the rye cake. She was arrested on February 29th along with two other women; Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn.

And thus began the Salem Witch Trials. Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn were scheduled to be tried on March 1st. During the trial, Tituba confessed she was, indeed, a witch along with four other women who had been visited by a tall man who often appeared as a hog or dog(the Devil) and asked to sign his book and do his work. She even proclaimed that they had rode in on poles. The fear of the gallows was enough to make many people confess, very possibly falsely, to being witches, and they were not hung if they were.

And so progressed the trials. More and more accusations made, more and more children and teenagers becoming "afflicted" by the so accused "witches".
     By early autumn of 1692, the trials were coming to an end.  Doubt that so many respectable people could be guilty was forming. Increase Marther stated that it "were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned.". A regarded Boston minister named Samuel Willard circulated Some Miscellany Observations, which suggested that the Devil might create the specter of an innocent person. Eventually, in May of 1693, Governor Phips, who had taken Marther and Willard's works, set the remaining jailed accused free and pardoned the three already accused witches.

The Shape of Mercy: A NovelWHOO! I thought the Witch Trials would be easier, and quicker, to write about than that! :-) That is just a bit of info. You can learn more here, which is where I got a lot of my information. Hope you enjoyed! If you'd like to read a fictional account of the witch trials as told by a girl who live then and the inpact it had on a young girl reading the story, buy The Shape Of Mercy for less than $3 HERE!
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No Greater Love, More Than Conquerors, and Red Ink - Winners!

Hey guys! It's so good to be back from Thanksgiving vacation - I hope everyone had a good time! I'm excited to announce the winners of this months giveaway...and the winners are...

No Greater Love:
* * * Nonners(perhapsthatsridiculous@...* * *

More Than Conquerors:
* * * Misskallie2000(misskallie2000@...* * *

Red Ink:
* * * Cathy W (cjwallace43@...* * *

CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS! You will be emailed shortly! Thank you all for participating!
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Book Discussion - Sir Rowan, Part 1

Hey everyone! How did your Thanksgiving weekend go? Mine was great - we traveled down to Grant, FL and spent the week with my mom's parents. It was fun and relaxing! So, now I am re-envigorated and back into business with blogging!! :-D I've done some changes on my own blog, if you want to stop by and take a look! :-)

Anyways, today is my turn to do the book discussion! For it, I picked one of my top favorite Chuck Black books - Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest!

A knight left for dead. A country on the verge of ruin. An evil lord rising to conquer.

Sir Rowan is the most decorated tournament knight in Cameria, but when he is attacked and left for dead, his world collapses. Betrayed and lingering at death’s door, only a bizarre vision of his Prince and the help of a woman dedicated to the King keeps him alive. When Rowan heals, he finds new purpose in life through service to his King.

But his beloved land of Cameria has fallen victim to the tyranny of the Dark Knight.

Rowan’s countrymen need his help taking their cities back from the enemy, but all is not as it appears. The mysterious Sir Lijah insists Rowan’s purpose lies elsewhere - far away from Cameria, in an ancient city and for an ancient cause.

Rowan’s destiny is greater than he ever imagined. The final battle with the Dark Knight approaches, and he must choose where he will fight. Will he discover his true identity and purpose as a Knight of the Prince, or will the Dark Knight claim victory for eternity?


I have already reviewed this book on Book Ponderings, so I would bore you by posting it again! But if you didn't read it the week I posted it, you can go HERE and read it!


1) When Sir Rowan first was taught to use the sword, he was also taught the ways of the King and how to be a Knight of the Prince. But as Sir Rowan grew older and became talented with the sword, he began to falter in his desire to fight for the King and His son. He saw his skillfulness with the sword as more useful in gaining him fame in the tournaments then in using it for the King. Have you ever found yourself using something God intended to minister to His people and using it for your own gain or glory?

It is easy to do that with day to day things, even if we don't realize it. Such as - my blogging! I want to use them not only to review books for the benefit of others, but use it to glorify God through my reviews and posts. This can easily be forgotten as I get overwhelmed with day to day life amid trying to plan interviews, read the books sent to me, and write up reviews. While I still think my reviews are a ministry, in that they honestly tell you what is in the book - good and bad - so that you can avoid them if necessary, I discovered that I can do other posts centered on Christ. Such as my devotional posts that I have begun. I always feel encouraged after reading an inspirational post about a bible verse or hearing a persons testimony - and I hope to pass this on through my own devotional posts! 

2) When Rowan was left in the cave to die, he is rescued by someone he has never met. Has God ever sent a stranger your way to help you when you needed it?

Hmm...yes! Once, when my Dad was driving me to a class that I was taking at a local college campus, our car broke down. It was raining really hard outside and the belt to our van slipped off. Of course, the van we were driving didn't have any tools in it! (Go figure!) So Dad tried to fix it. But it was tough putting the belt on and really was a two man job. I tried to help, but wasn't much good besides to hold the flashlight! :-P We were in a gas station, and lots of people and cars were coming and going and people could see that we were having trouble...but no one asked to help. After about fifteen or twenty minutes, someone did stop and ask if Dad needed help. The man had the right tools Dad needed and in about 5 minutes, the belt was back on and we were on our way to my class, though a little late. But that man was an angel of mercy sent by God for us just when we needed it! :-)

3) When thieves came to Rowan and Mariah with intentions to harm, they instead chose to show them compassion by providing them a meal. Has someone ever done you wrong and, instead of getting mad, you turned around and did something kind to them? Luke 6:27 "But I say unto you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,"

I have had that happen to me once. A joke was played on myself and a friend, but it went sour and it went farther than just a simple joke. My friend and I were really hurt by what they did. But, instead of getting mad at them and never talking to them again (though we really felt like doing just that) we instead served up ice cream and played games with them. Although it was really awkward at first, things soothed out and I can tell you that the evildoers weren't sure how to take our open kindness after they had seen how distressed we were over the joke. So, while it was really hard to be kind to them after they hurt us, in the end, it was the right thing to do.
Check back on Wednesday for some more discussion questions! And don't forget to leave your thought or stories - we love reading them!

~ Katy

Thanksgiving Vacation

Hello readers! I'm very sorry to say this, but this past week I've not read much of anything, besides The Handmaid And The Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg, which I highly suggest you read, and Red Ink by Kathi Macias which I am still going through and am enjoying very much, so I will not be posting the normal What I've Been Reading today. SO sorry; I've been busy! :-)

Also, I've been talking to my wonderful writing companion and we've decided to take off a week for Thanksgiving, as we will both be on vacation and away from home. So, that being said, we will return Monday to announce the winner of our giveaway and to continue writing with our normal schedule. Hope everyone stays safe on their travels to see family or friends this holiday and has a marvelous time. Happy Thanksgiving; see y'all next Monday!

Author Spotlight - Jennifer Taylor

For this month's author interview, we will be spotlighting a new author - Jennifer Hudson Taylor! She's just recently published her debut novel, Highland Blessings. I am currently making my way through the book! I am about 3/4's the way through, and I have enjoyed every minute in this wonderful tale! But, let's get on with the interview! Enjoy, readers!

Welcome to Book Ponderings, Jennifer! To start this off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you for having me, Katy. I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC, the hometown of O. Henry. I knew I wanted to write as early as age 12. I wanted to write the next Gone with the Wind. I work a full-time job in a nonprofit for small children. I write whenever I can find the time--at lunch, on weekends, at night, at the allergist, etc. I have a wonderful husband who supports my writing by brainstorming with me and reading all my manuscripts. He does most of the cooking and cleaning so I can write when I get home from work. I have a 13 year old daughter who has developed the patience of a saint. 

What was the road to publishing Highland Blessings like? How long after you started writing were you published?

To be honest, it was hard. It took 14 years, 122+ rejections, 3 agents, and some nasty contest scores, lots of tears, 3 years of quitting, and even more prayers. In 2007, I had two manuscripts to final in the ACFW Genesis Contest. One of them was Highland Blessings--although it was Promised Blessings at that time. That's when I switch to Terry Burns, at Hartline Literary Agency. A year later he sold Highland Blessings on my birthday. It was the best birthday present--ever! 

Wow! That's a long road, but how wonderfully it ended! I have to agree with you - what better birthday present could you ask for? Can you tell us a little bit about Highland Blessings?

Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. . .Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst . . . and murder is the ultimate weapon.

Very intriguing! How did you come up with the title for this book? Did you think of it at the begining of writing, or once the manuscript was complete?

The title I had for it was Promised Blessings, but my publisher decided that Highland Blessings would be better for marketing reasons. They felt like people who search for Scottish historicals often type in the title Highland. I loved it, so we went with it. 

Highland Blessings is such a beautiful title - I have to agree with your publisher! Which did you think of first - the main characters or the story plot?

I wrote Highland Blessings by the seat of my pants, so it was the characters. The plot came later. I'm now a plotter. 

That's neat! I love characters that are so strongly developed that they write their own story! Which character was your favorite to write?

I think Bryce MacPhearson. He tries so hard to do what is right that he ends up making things worse. He's a huge, muscular warrior and he's a little rough around the edges, but he's a big softie at heart. He's caring and much more sensitive than people realize when they first meet him. 

Yes, I did come to love Bryce for the soft spot inside that he always tried to hide. Who was the most difficult to write about?

Sim. Since he is deaf and mute, it really stretched my imagination how to have him interact and communicate with people. 

Yes, I loved that little twist in the plot - it made the connection between Sim and Akira so special! Was it difficult to research for this book? Where exactly did you have it take place? What time?

No, research is one of my favorite things to do. I didn't choose a place specifically, although I later refer to Ross south of Inverness in the sequel, Highland Sanctuary. It takes place in 1473.

Did you have a favorite scene in the book that you enjoyed writing?

Yes, I enjoyed the mud scene after Bryce has kidnapped Akira. You really get introduced to their contrasting personalities in this scene. I thought it was kind of comical and humor doesn't come easy to me. 

Really? That is my favorite scene as well! I couldn't help but chuckle as I read it! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eyes out for? Care to give a lil' sneak peak?

I just turned in the manuscript for the sequel, Highland Sanctuary, which takes place 3 years after Highland Blessings.

Gavin MacKenzie is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.

Where can readers go to find out more about you and Highland Blessings?

My website/blog: http://www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jenniferhudsontaylor.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jt4novels

Thanks so much for stopping by Book Ponderings! So glad to talk with you about your wonderful book, Jennifer!!

Katy, Thank you so much for having me!

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed learning about Jennifer, her road to publication, and her wonderful book, Highland Blessings. Be sure to keep an eye out for the sequel as well - Highland Sanctuary! Thanks again, Jennifer! Keep up the wonderful work!!!

~ Katy

Book Review - Sir Rowan

A knight left for dead. A country on the verge of ruin. An evil lord rising to conquer.

Sir Rowan is the most decorated tournament knight in Cameria, but when he is attacked and left for dead, his world collapses. Betrayed and lingering at death’s door, only a bizarre vision of his Prince and the help of a woman dedicated to the King keeps him alive. When Rowan heals, he finds new purpose in life through service to his King.

But his beloved land of Cameria has fallen victim to the tyranny of the Dark Knight.

Rowan’s countrymen need his help taking their cities back from the enemy, but all is not as it appears. The mysterious Sir Lijah insists Rowan’s purpose lies elsewhere - far away from Cameria, in an ancient city and for an ancient cause.

Rowan’s destiny is greater than he ever imagined. The final battle with the Dark Knight approaches, and he must choose where he will fight. Will he discover his true identity and purpose as a Knight of the Prince, or will the Dark Knight claim victory for eternity?





Overall Impression:

The 6th book in the Knights of Arrethtrae series, Sir Rowan is a wonderful addition to the series! This action-packed and suspenseful book kept me turning the pages, enjoying every moment of my adventures with Rowan!

The story of Rowan - a man who learned the skills of the sword just so he could compete in tournaments, was very thought-provoking (as are all of Black's books). Many people today say they are doing or learning something to bring glory to God - but often it's only for their own glory and fame - just as Rowan was doing.

Sir Rowan's story was full of twist and turns that I wasn't expecting. Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, it would take a turn and leave wondering how Rowan can get out of it, or how any good could come out of the dreadful calamity that continue to befalls him.

I found myself chuckling at the amusing parts, smiling at the sweet parts, and crying when someone so dear was lost. As Chuck Black accurately shows through this book, answering the Kings call isn't always easy, and doesn't bring fame or fortune. But those who the King calls are blessed beyond measure in the happiness promised them once they fulfill the Princes mission.

Even thought we often don't understand why bad things happen to us or why a loved one was taken from us, we can rest in the knowledge that everything is done for a reason and our rewards in heaven will be worth every painful moment here on earth. Such is the lesson you learn when you read about Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest. I highly recommend this book for readers - old and young alike!

~ Katy

Book Discussion - No Greater Love part 2

1) Andrew cares more about Chioma's life than his own and willingly lays down his life for her. Do you have anyone that you love enough to lay down your life for without a second thought?

Oh goodness yes...I would lay down my life for any one of my many little brothers, parents, or friends. John 15:13 says "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.". I think when we truly love someone with God's definition of love that we automatically would do anything to keep them from harm. Jesus Himself laid down His life for His sheep.(John 10:15).

2) Chioma is unsure that the methods the Freedom Fighters use to gain freedom is acceptable. Killing masses of missionaries, women, and even children to make a point seems wrong and cruel to Chioma.  How would you feel about joining a group that commited such acts to gain freedom they deserved?

Yikes...that's hard, but I cannot say that I would find that acceptable; no matter what the circumstances. Jesus' commands us to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5:39. Now, that doesn't meet role over and let someone beat you up, but killing the innocent just to prove a point?? I cannot see myself justifying that. I'm sure there was some other way to make a statement rather than unjustly murdering people.

Ponderin' the Past...in Calico!

Today, as I was browsing through the bookshelf in my room that held all my historical fiction book, I came upon the two Love Finds You books that I have. Picking up my favorite of the two, I knew what I would be "Pondering" for today's post - Love Finds You in Calico, California! :-)

Love Finds You in Calico, California

In Southern California you will find, amid the Mojave Desert sands, Calico Ghost Town. It reached it's 'boom' shortly after it was founded and at it's height, Calico had a population of 1,200 people with over 500 silver mines surrounding it. Within the town, besides the usual varieties of bars, brothels, gambling halls and a few Church's, Calico could also boast of a newspaper - the Calico Print.

In the mid 1890s the price of silver dropped dramatically and Calico's silver mines were no longer economically viable. And to add another misfortune for the town, the end of borax mining in the region (in 1907) caused the town to be completely abandoned. The last original inhabitant of Calico was a Mrs. Lucy Bell Lane - who died in the 1960s. Her house remains as the main museum in the town.

For a while, the town remained abandoned - a real ghost town. But then in 1951, Walter Knott, founder of Knott's Berry Farm, bought the town and began restoring it to its original condition referencing old photographs from its boom. Though five of the original town buildings exist today, many others are are recreated as replicas of their originals - on the preexisting foundations.

In 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County - and that's when Calico became a county regional park. Today the park operates mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, a restaurant, general merchandise stores, War Between the State reenactments, and an annual Heritage Fest. (Sounds like a fun place to visit!) In 2005, Calico was designated the "official state silver rush ghost town" of California.

~ Katy
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Book Discussion - No Greater Love

Romance Rating:

Violence Rating:

Fear/Horror Rating:

Overall Impression:

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress (ANC) movement against apartheid, were murdered—16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm.
When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge—or forgiveness and selfless love.
Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.


No Greater Love was a fantastic book that had the perfect amount of action and emotional pulls in it. I really loved this book. The characters were realistic, the plot exciting, and the lessons admirable. I was instantly hooked on this gripping book and had a hard time putting it down the night I started it. The message in this book was astounding and it actually reminded me a bit of The Martyr's Song by Ted Dekker in that area. :-)

There are only two things I need to point out in this book: The first is that there is a scene that takes place the morning after a wedding. It mentions the girl reaching for her clothes but the man(her husband) pulling her back to his chest and telling her "No clothes". There is also a scene where a woman is bathing in a river and some men are threatening her(unknown what the threats are). The men never see her out of the water, but a woman does and it says she was standing over her naked.
Other than that, there was nothing worth mentioning in it at all! There was some mild violence, but nothing so much that I would need to caution you.

All being said, it was a TERRIFIC book and I HIGHLY encourage you to read it. I have just started another book in the series, Red Ink, and am enjoying that one too, though not as much as No Greater Love. I loved learning about the time, the era of the  African National Congress (ANC) movement against apartheid. I didn't know much about it and was quite intrigued by it. So, if you're looking for a heart-wrenching, adventerous, and historical story, this is a good book for you!

1) Chioma has lived her life having to bear the results of aparthied and being thought of as less important than whites. How would you feel being thought of as less important or worth less than other people just because of your color?I can't imagine it being pleasent...it's hard enough being a teenager and people thinking I'm going to do all this bad stuff - but for it to be because of the color of my skin, something I can't grow out of and is so majorly degraded, it would be very hard.

 2) Andrew feels somewhat responsible and guilty of the death of Chioma's brother's death, though he is not guilty. Have you ever felt guilty for something that was not your fault?
I'm sure I have, but I can't really recall. But as I watched Andrew deal with his own guilt, I felt my heart wrench and knew it must be SO hard for him...it was so sad to watch, especially since he loved Chioma and felt that he had hurt her. I know the feeling of guilt, so I know that it was rough on him and affected his daily life. Really, you can only find relief from your guilt by trusting God, as Andrew learns to do. Finding forgiveness in Him is the only way you will once again be able to move forward, leaving past guilts behind.

3) Chioma strongly desired to join the Freedom Fighters and fight for her cause, but when she gets what she wants, she realizes that was not what she expected and doesn't really enjoy it. Have you ever been excited to do something just to learn that it's not as great as you expected?Does a mocking bird sing? Haha I think EVERYONE has experienced this. A lot of things in life look a lot better from the window view than when it's actually happened. But, I suppose we have to take what we get and deal with the bad and good.

Photo credit: Lori Warman