Posted in Book reviews, Guest Post, Tessa Afshar

Guest Book Review: “Bread of Angels” by Tessa Afshar

Review written by my Mum! We both adore Tessa Afshar, and I love that we can read the same book and share that. <3

 

 

“Bread of Angels” by Tessa Afshar

Review copy from Tyndale

Mum’s star rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the book:

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances―along with her father’s precious dye―help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

 

 

Mum’s Thoughts:

 

I am a huge fan of Tessa Afshar’s books.  I don’t actually read a lot of fiction, but I always make time for one of her books, because I know they will be well worth it!  This book was no exception.  She creates a story line that you immerse yourself into, as if you are friends with the characters and you feel their sorrows, joys, fears and life lessons.  She makes every Bible account come to life, which I love!  She weaves fact and fiction beautifully, making it believable and realistic without any of the far-fetched information that I’ve read in other Biblical Fiction.  Some authors write stories about Bible accounts that have unrealistic and even unnecessary (and frustrating) story lines.  Not so with any of Tessa’s books.  Her words are God inspired and they give truth and even facilitate healing because of the issues that each character has and deals with.  I would recommend this book (and all of Tessa Afshar’s books) to everyone.  They do not disappoint!

 

Posted in Books, Guest Post, reading

A Summer Reading Contest!

Good morning, blog readers! Today I am sharing my blog with my dear, dear friend and amazing author, MacKenzie Morganthal! Below you will find, in her own words, a Summer Reading Contest that she is hosting! It promises to be a lot of fun. Be sure to follow her on social media (I’ll post links below) to be kept up-to-date, especially regarding this fun contest! So, without further adu, here is Miss Morganthal!

 

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ANNOUNCEMENT: I am so excited to announce that I will be hosting a Summer Reading Contest this summer! 🎉

 

Details:
The contest will begin on Monday, June 12th and end on Monday, August 21st, a duration of 10 weeks.
This contest is open to all ages. Everyone who participates must complete a goal of 10 books by the end date in order to be eligible to enter to win the grand prize.
More info on the grand prize will be coming later, but it will include a signed copy of “Not Abandoned” and a signed copy of Isabella Morganthal‘s latest book “Yes, You Can”!

 

Come up short and don’t finish reading 10 books before August 21st? There will be a couple other ways for you to get some entries towards the grand prize! If during the contest duration you read “Not Abandoned”, that will give you an automatic 2 entries! Reading “I Dare You” by Isabella Morganthal will also give you an extra 2 entries!

 

Over the course of the contest duration we will also be having 3 big challenges to give you a chance for some extra entries, and these will be announced at a later date.
Once Monday comes I will have a template available for those of you who would like one to keep track of what books you are reading, and then all you’ll have to do is turn that in to me at the end of the contest.

 

Have any other questions? Email me at: notabandonedbook@gmail.com

 

Super excited about this fun contest and hope you all are just as excited as I am to start reading lots of books! 📚

 

 

Social Media Links:

Facebook: Click THIS for link.

Twitter: @authorkenzie

Instagram: kenziehm97

Website: http://www.kenziebooks.weebly.com

 

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(I, Raechel, love this picture! Isn’t it pretty? I believe photo credit belongs to a friend of MacKenzie’s)

 

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So there you have it! Get ready to start reading, everyone! And if you have any questions, you’re welcome to post them here too, and I will get them to Miss Morganthal. :)

Have fun!!

Posted in blog tour, Guest Post

“All the Way My Savior Leads” by Faith Blum

It’s a blog tour post! Please join me in celebrating Faith Blum’s newest book, “All the Way My Savior Leads”, Book two in her Orphans of the West series. Besides the spotlight of this book, you’ll find a giveaway, and a guest post! So be sure to keep reading. :)

All The Way My Savior Leads

About the Book

Caroline and I walked out the back door and went into the barn.
“What are we going to do?” Caroline asked.
“Head out on our own. Saddle Whitey, please.”
Caroline’s mouth gaped open. “They’ll find us.”
“I know.”
Caroline sighed. “What can we do then?”
I shook my head. “We can stick together. Always.”

AlltheWay_KINDLErevisedTragedy stole everything from him … except her …

Three years ago, an illness orphaned Henry and Caroline Salisbury. The harsh years at the orphanage have forged a strong bond between the pair.

But Henry’s about to age out.

He must choose whether to leave his only family behind in relative safety, or take her with him as he pursues dreams of owning a farm. Henry trusts that God has a plan for him, but little does he know that others have plans for him and his younger sister as well. He will need all his faith to find the right path.

Although this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Note: 50% of my income from this series will go to the World Orphans organization.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071DL3Z9T

http://books2read.com/alltheway

About the Author

Author Picture 2015-2016 croppedFaith Blum is a 20-something author of multiple books in various genres. She loves to write, read, play piano, knit, crochet, sew, watch movies, and play games with her family. She lives in Wisconsin with her family on a small family farm where they raise goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and have 2 dogs and a varying number of cats.

Faith’s goal in her writing is to encourage Christians in their walk with Christ. If you enjoyed this book, go to her website to sign up for her Monthly Newsletter so you can get an email with fun facts, giveaways, and so much more every month. You will also find links to her other Social Media sites on her website. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her.

Double Sale

Double Sale

For May 26-31 only, get both books in the Orphans of the West series for just $0.99 each! They are both available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and more.

http://books2read.com/saviorlikeashepherd

http://books2read.com/alltheway

GUEST POST:

Why Henry?

 

My Orphans of the West series is mostly books about orphans I introduced in previous books in the Hymns of the West or Hymns of the West Novellas series’. But Henry Sullivan isn’t in any of those, so why did I write a book about him? A few reasons, actually.

 

First, the first version of Lily of the Valley had an epilogue that introduced Henry. That made me want to write more, even though I ended up cutting the epilogue. Another reason was because I wanted to write more about Micah, Ruth, and Jeremiah Carson. They were great characters and I didn’t want to leave them where I did.

 

The main reason, though, is because I could really identify with him. Even though I haven’t gone through anything he has, I have struggled many times with anger at how bad people could do so many awful things and get away with it. Learning to let God lead in all circumstances is a difficult, but rewarding experience.

Giveaway

Giveaway

Three prizes, three winners! The grand prize is a Savior, Like a Shepherd notebook and paperback. Sorry, but the lantern isn’t mine to giveaway. In second and third prize, the winners will receive a free eBook of All the Way My Savior Leads.

Note: The grand prize is open only to those in the continental US, but the other two are open to all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

 

May 26

Bookish Orchestrations-Intro Post

Annie Louise Twitchell-Review

 

May 27

Letters from Annie Douglass Lima-Book Spotlight

Zerina Blossom’s Books-Review

 

May 28

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae-Guest Post: Why Henry?

The Book Corner-Review

 

May 29

Sarah Allerding-Review

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Character Q&A with Henry

 

May 30

Frances Hoelsma-Book Spotlight

Purposeful Learning– Review

 

May 31

Rachel Rossano’s Words-Guest Post: How I Pick Hymns

 

Written Rest-Review

 

June 1

Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner

 

Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post: “Good Bad Guys” by Aiden

     Today I have the pleasure of bringing you a guest po-

 

————-(:///New-command:insert-my-opinion:/override-Rae/Alpha:)————-

Hey sorry to cut you off Rae but I thought it would be nice to take over your blog for a minute. Hello everyone! You can call me Aiden, I am from Jaye’s Forum. But today I decide to take over Rae’s blog.

So what do I have to talk about? Well I am glad you asked that (you really didn’t ask, I told you that but acted like you asked, I know I am breaking the fourth wall or something like that but whatever) I will be talking to you about the… Demoralization of the youth due to the acceptance of the criminal… or in other words the image the ‘new bad guy’ is setting. So what is the new bad guy? Well they commonly looks like this

 

  

     

 

 

What?! But they are not all bad guys! (Yes I know I am pretending to be you again, just roll with it) but on the contraire comrade they aren’t.  We will now be taking a look at each one of these ‘good villains’

Magneto

When Magneto first appeared in The X-Men #1 Sept. 1963 he was a mage maniac who wanted nothing more than to wipe out humanity to make way for mutant kind with him as their King. Yes that Jewish guy from the X-Men movies who can control metal in recent years has become the not so bad ‘bad guy’. Eric Magnus has changed from the ‘evil mutant who is bent on human extinction’ to now not really being a bad guy. He is just trying to make the world safe for mutants by killing one human at a time yea… Thanks to newer X-man movies this villain is now viewed as just a guy trying to save people. You hear people say “He is not really bad, look at what he went through,” and one of my favorites “He is just misguided!’.

Loki

Since his first appearance in Venus #6 1949 and Journey into Mystery #85 1962, Loki’s one desire was to kill his adopted father Odin, and to leave his brother Thor in freakish misery (holler if ya get that reference). The only thing he use to plan was the destruction of his family.  He would go to great lengths to plan everything out, He knew how to manipulate things to work towards the end he wanted. And that end would be the death of Odin and Thor. Since Thor hit the movies back in 2011 this god of mischief somehow became just a tortured soul who wants the approval of his father. They do a really good job at making us feel bad for Loki, though he still is trying to kill his father and Thor but we somehow don’t see him as that bad.

Mystique

Since Mystique first came on the scene in Ms. Marvel #16 1978, she has been a bad girl who wanted to kill the X-men to please Magneto. She was the commander of the Brotherhood of evil Mutants and often got into fights with the X-men and her two children Rogue and Kurt and wouldn’t mind killing them if they got in her way. But since the X-Men First Class movie she has taken on a totally different role, from being an evil mother bent on world domination she has become an insecure heroine who is just going about it saving ‘mutant kind’ wrong.

Gru

Oh the ever cute Despicable Me movies, such a cute cartoon about a villain who adopts three little girls to help him steal something. What could be wrong with that? But he turned good in the end! Well I know that but it wasn’t such a big thing, we never actually see him struggle with being bad he just wants to have his girls back. They don’t portray being bad as a bad thing. Though an argument can be made of number 2 it still has a very little view of good and bad, heck it almost shows like you could be both.

Hotel Transylvania

Oh another cute cartoon about the occult just wanting to be left in peace from the evil humans outside. You know these monsters also need a break from terrorizing people. After all they are normal people just like us, never mind the fact that the main character is a vampire that has to feed off people. As do most of the other evil things in the cartoon. Instead of being evil as they used to be these demonic things have been ‘fun’-a-fide, so that little kids wouldn’t find them ‘scary’ but find them ‘nice and funny’.

Fast and the Furious

So if you don’t know what this movie is about (don’t give me that look, everyone makes mistakes plus it’s a good thing that you don’t know what it is)  it is about a cop who is sent to infiltrate a drag racing gang that have been stealing major things in transit. While ‘becoming’ one of them this cop has a change of heart. Seeing that they weren’t really that bad (plus he liked the sister. Go figure) so he decides to become one of them for real and help them evade the cops and steal stuff. Basically all the movies revolve around something needing to be stolen, someone needing their teeth knocked in. Add to that all the very nasty dressed girls. And through it all they just keep stealing and getting deeper and deeper into crime but hey the only thing that really matters is that they are a ‘Family’ right? That’s what makes them not so bad of crimes right? Oh yea and the really bad guys are the cops trying to catch them.
Okay now that we have all the introductions out of the way, that was the Intro? Really? (Just let me know when this gets annoying) Yes it was. So why is this bad? Well it is because it is either calling sin ‘good’ or making light of evil things. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this (come on pick it up, it’s right behind you, here I’ll wait……) now turn to Isaiah 5:20, it says “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” and now if you’ll kindly turn to Romans 1:18-23, 32 it reads “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools,  and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things… and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”  So the Bible gives warnings about calling evil things good and good things evil. I know, I know they are not that bad. But they really are, they are desensitizing people to evil and sin with all these ‘good’ bad guys. I know some of you may like these movies/characters but just put your love for them on the side for a minute a take a good look at them, they are evil bad guys, the worse of the worst. They make us feel and see them as not really that bad. That they are just really doing ‘good’ in their own way. Now I am not telling you who you should and shouldn’t like, far be it from me to make you do anything. What I am trying to do is show is how our culture is turning the views on “good and evil” because if we don’t have evil then everything is okay and it’s just another version of ‘good’. And if everything is good then nothing is evil or sinful. Which is affecting everyone, soon (if not already) everything will be okay. Just look at all the people lining up for the Deadpool movie (I won’t be talking too much about that – it would make this way too long) in that movie anything goes, there is nothing too ‘wrong’ or too ‘shameful’ not to do or say. I’ll leave you with this: Be careful who you chose to not only accept but also to like. For those we like we approve, for those we approve we promote, and if we are promoting the wrong then  we are helping in leading others the wrong way.

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Thanks for stopping by, Aiden, and sharing your thoughts!

 

**I do not claim any ownership of the photos used here.

Posted in blog tour, God's Lessons, Guest Post, Heather Day Gilbert, Human Trafficking, lists, reading

Blog Tour Kick-Off “Not Abandoned” – Guest post by author, MacKenzie Morganthal

Today begins the blog tour for my sister-by-heart’s first published book, “Not Abandoned”! She has written the post to start of this exciting blog tour, so please read on!

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Hello, everyone! I am so excited that today is the first day of my blog tour for “Not Abandoned”! A special thank you to my amazing friend, Rae, for allowing me to start this tour with a guest post on her blog, since I don’t have a blog of my own. :)

As I prepare for this week long blog tour, I think back on the journey of writing and self-publishing that God has brought me through. He has opened so many doors for me through this process, and whenever a door closed, He always gave me a window in its place. I’ve been thinking about this verse a lot lately:

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

He has known of this day even long before I started writing “Not Abandoned”. Through all the long nights of writing, and through the frustrated tears I shed during the editing and publishing process, He was right there already knowing of the beautiful outcome it would have. And He has made this day so amazing for me! Eight years of dreaming about becoming a published author, and now that day is finally here! :)

“Not Abandoned” is a very dear story to my heart because it gives readers a peek into one of my deepest passions. From the day I heard a human trafficking survivor telling her story in an interview, I knew that I had to do something to bring more of an awareness to the subject. It is truly heart breaking to me, and when God told me to write a story dealing with this topic, I was actually terrified of the idea! I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write the story well enough and I really didn’t even have a clear idea of where the story plot was even going. But God guided my hands to write this story, and it turned out so much better than I ever could’ve imagined, thanks to having Him as my co-author.

So because I’m not the greatest at writing things like this, I’m going to end here by saying: Never be afraid to give God your everything. He will always make something beautiful out of it!

Thanks for joining me on this opening post of my first ever blog tour! I hope you’ll stick around the rest of the week to learn more about the story of “Not Abandoned”. :)

 

Curved, Lines, Curves, Black And White, Strings

The Book:

“Not Abandoned”

ebook

 

Two words….human trafficking.

Four different lives…are altered forever.

Haley, a police officer in training, is thrust right into the heart of an organized human trafficking ring when a family friend is mysteriously abducted. Once the problem hits even closer to home, Haley will stop at nothing to see justice prevail.

With no way out once trapped inside the trafficking ring, is there any hope for rescue? When trouble arises and Caryn’s life is compromised, will she be able to survive or will help come too late?

Strength is tested and trust is broken in this mystery of seemingly impossible rescue and God’s loving redemption. After hearing those words, human trafficking, these girls will never look at their lives the same way again… and neither will you.

Curved, Lines, Curves, Black And White, Strings

The Author:

MacKenzie Morganthal is an eighteen year old, Christian, Homeschool graduate. She loves writing, music, and most importantly Jesus. She resides in Pennsylvania where she keeps busy as a freelance author, worship leader, and creative arts director. She also loves going to concerts, and all things chocolate. While some people say she can be a little crazy, she always takes that as a compliment. She has been writing stories for eight years, and “Not Abandoned” is her first self-published novel.

You can find out more about MacKenzie and her book through these links:

CreateSpace estore: http://www.createspace.com/5427955

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/069243688X

Website: http://www.kenziebooks.weebly.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14073307

Twitter: @authorkenzie

Curved, Lines, Curves, Black And White, Strings

More Stops on the Blog Tour: 

Be sure to stop by these blogs participating in this book release! And a big thank you to the bloggers themselves who have generously offered to help! We appreciate you!!

June 14th:

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae (tour introduction) – you’re here!

June 15th:

Claire B. The Overactive Imagination

    Heather FitzGerald (character interview)

June 16th:

Alicia R. A Brighter Destiny

      Shantelle H. The World of the Writer

June 17th:

      Amada C. ASC Book Reviews

         God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae (book review)

June 18th:

Valerie Howard Books

June 19th:

Faith Blum (author interview)

  Heather Day Gilbert (book excerpt)

June 20th:

 God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae (tour wrap-up)

Curved, Lines, Curves, Black And White, Strings

Note from Rae: Thanks Kenzie for allowing me to be apart of this! Congratulations on your book release!!

 

Posted in Guest Post, Writing

A Guest Post….”When the Mirror Lies” by Kenzie M. Part Two

Hello again! Here is the second and last part of this splendid story, “When the Mirror Lies” by Kenzie M.  Once again, enjoy!

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“When the Mirror Lies” Part Two

Bridget closed her eyes and consented. All I want is to be beautiful.

After hours in the dress shop trying to pick the right dress for Bridget to wear to the pageant, she finally pointed to a blue dress in the corner. It was a simple pattern, but it fit Bridget’s personality and she loved it. “I want to wear this one.”

“No,” Diana pushed another mirror in front of Bridget and held the blue dress up beside her so that she could compare it to the extravagant dress she had on. “It’s too plain. It makes you look drab.”

Bridget was determined to put her foot down on this argument. “I like it. I want to wear it.”

Diana squinted at her in the mirror. “You foolish girl; you’re never going to be beautiful enough. You have to try harder. Look at your complexion,” she pointed at

Bridget in the mirror, “You’re so flawed. We need to get more make-up on you.”

Bridget watched Diana walk away and she continued to stare at her reflection in the mirror. A few tears silently slipped down her cheeks.

“Don’t cry,” Diana barked at her, “It makes your eyes look red. And we need to talk about getting you on a diet. Your waist isn’t quite thin enough.”

Bridget wiped her tears with the back of her hand. She closed her eyes and tried to bring to memory all the times her Father had told her she was beautiful. After all, He was the King. She should be seeking His approval alone. But His words of endearment and the way He always told her that she was His beautiful princess seemed to fade from her mind as she gazed in the mirror. All she could see staring back at her was Diana’s smirking face telling her that she was not good enough. And suddenly she didn’t see anything beautiful about her reflection. She could only see flaws staring back at her.

She resolved in that moment to do everything that Diana instructed her to do. I’ll do anything to be beautiful. But as the days progressed, no matter how hard Bridget worked, Diana was always there in the mirror reminding her that she was somehow still not beautiful enough.

Finally, the day of the pageant arrived. Before heading to the dress shop, Bridget took a detour and stopped by the lake that was behind the castle. She stared out across the shining waters and let the tears fall freely down her cheeks. Even when she wasn’t in the dress shop, Diana’s words were ringing through her head. And she realized that she believed every single word. I’m not beautiful enough. She reached into the pocket of her plain skirt and pulled out a mirror that Diana had given her. Gazing at her reflection just brought on a fresh rush of tears. “You’re not beautiful!” she cried aloud as she took the mirror and threw it as hard as she could. It landed with a splash in the middle of the lake.

“Who told you that?” a voice said softly from behind her.

Bridget whirled around. She saw her Father standing there and her eyes fell down to her feet. “Diana did,” she whispered, “And the mirror.”

The King walked to His daughter’s side and touched her shoulder gently. “My beautiful Bridget,” He tilted her chin up so that she was forced to look into His eyes. “Do you really think that their opinion of you matters?” He asked gently.

Bridget nodded vigorously. “Of course,” she replied.

“But it doesn’t,” He corrected her. “To the mirror you will never be beautiful enough. There will always be something wrong with your reflection. But to Me, you are the most beautiful girl there ever could be. I made you, my dear girl. I made you beautiful for Me. You don’t have to try harder or be someone that you’re not. You are already beautiful, because I say you are beautiful.”

Bridget felt more tears falling down her cheeks. She took a step forward and fell into her Father’s open arms. “How do I get the voices in the mirror to stop screaming inside my head, Daddy?” she said quietly, looking up at the King.

“Remember My words, my princess,” the King smiled at her lovingly and directed her gaze to the shimmering lake in front of them.

As Bridget gazed at her reflection in the water, her breath caught in her throat. The voices in her head stopped and she suddenly didn’t feel a need to change anything about her reflection. As she stood on the shore beside her King, she knew she was beautiful. And it wasn’t because of her hair or her dress. It was because He told her that she was.

“Never forget, my daughter,” the King whispered as they continued to gaze at the reflection in the lake. “When the mirror lies, remember the truth….You are beautiful.” 

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And there we have it! I, for one, enjoyed it, and I hope you did too! Thank you so much, Kenzie for contributing your writing to share here! I really appreciate it! <3

I thought I’d share some thoughts I had on “When the Mirror Lies”, so if you’d like, read on…

We are beautiful because He says we are. How true is that?

And why does He tells us we are beautiful? Because He is. And we are made in His image.

Beauty is not just a picture, a look. Beauty is who God is. He is beauty. Beauty is within each of our grasps, because it within us – designed in us as we reflect our Lord’ awe-ing image, His beauty. It is awe-inspiring, to think that beauty is not how we look – it is Who our God is and what He sees in us! Truly magnificent, if you ask me.

Once again, thank you, Kenzie!! And readers, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this short story! (If you would like to read more by this author, she frequently posts short stories in her sister’s magazine, which I shared about here).

Posted in Guest Post, Writing

A Guest Post….”When the Mirror Lies” by Kenzie M. Part One

Hello! Today I have a special treat for you all. A guest post from my lovely friend Kenzie! And it’s a remarkable story, too, one I hope you will enjoy. I will be splitting it up into two parts – one half today, and the other tomorrow, so be sure to check back! And as always – I love to hear from my readers, so please don’t be afraid to comment. =) Enjoy this short story:

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“When the Mirror Lies” By Kenzie M.

 

     It was exquisite.

     Bridget was sure she had never seen anything like it before. She cupped her hands around her face as she peered into the window and squinted at the marvelous dress. Her fingers longed to touch the soft silk material, and her eyes took in the beauty of the delicate beads and lace neckline. “Oh if only I could have that dress”, she thought to herself as she reluctantly pulled herself away from the window. She pushed her dark hair over her shoulder and cast one last look at the beautiful dress with her piercing blue eyes. With a sigh, she slowly turned around so that her back was to the dress shop. 

     “Aren’t you going to come in and try it on?” a voice called to her as she was walking away.

     Bridget whirled back around. She peered curiously at the middle-aged woman who had called to her. This wasn’t the owner of the dress shop, and none of the employees ever came outside to chase after customers. “No, I have to be going. But thank you for the offer,” she replied politely. She pulled her hooded cloak more tightly around her shoulders. Perhaps this woman had recognized her as the King’s daughter? She had hoped to keep her identity a secret on this trip into the village.

     “Come now, you have to at least try it on,” the older woman persisted.

     Bridget hesitated for a moment before finally relenting and following her back into the dress shop. “Where is Miranda?” she asked curiously, inquiring about the shop owner.

     “Miranda isn’t here today.”

     Bridget stopped in the doorway of the shop and crossed her arms across her chest. “If you don’t mind me asking, who are you?”

     The woman winked at her and smiled. “I’m glad you asked. My name is Diana. I’m sure you’re curious as to the reason I am here.” At Bridget’s nod, Diana continued, “I’m here looking for a star.”

     Bridget was confused. “What do you mean?” she asked slowly.

     “The next village over hosts an annual beauty pageant and it’s the largest around. So I am here looking for a beautiful girl who can be the next pageant star. If you think you have a chance, why don’t you try the dress on?” Diana explained.

     Bridget stared at the dress in the window for a long time. She hesitantly pushed her hood off of her dark hair and looked up at Diana. “I’m the princess,” she admitted, “The King’s daughter. I don’t think I should participate. Besides, my Father has taught me that true beauty is not how many beads you have on your dress or the amount of jewelry you wear. I am beautiful because my Father tells me I am beautiful. His opinion is the only one that matters. ”

     Diana threw her head back and laughed. “Silly girl, I’m not sure your Father has been honest with you.” She touched Bridget’s hair and looked her up and down critically. “There is so much we could do to improve your beauty. Let’s get started right away.” She called to another employee and hurriedly set up a dressing room for Bridget to change in. They also pulled up a chair and dumped a pile of make-up onto the table.

     Bridget gazed on the scene, her mind swirling. I should just leave. Everything inside of her was pulling her out of the shop and back to the castle, but yet she stayed. It was something that Diana had said. “There is so much we could do to improve your beauty.” What did she mean by that? Was Bridget’s beauty somehow flawed that it needed improving? The fear of not being beautiful enough latched its icy fingers around her heart, and so she pulled the dress into her arms and hurried into the dressing room.

     The rest of the day passed in a swirl for Bridget as Diana gave her a make-over and made her try on every dress in the store. By the time she got home, she was exhausted. As she fell asleep, she resolved to not go back to the dress shop the following day. But when the morning light awoke her from her slumber, she felt a pull clawing at her to go back to the shop. I need to be more beautiful. Diana had warned her that if she didn’t come back, she would never be beautiful enough.

     “I’m here,” Bridget murmured as she walked into the dress shop to the sound of the clanging bells on the door handle.

     “Finally,” Diana grumbled as she pushed Bridget down into a chair and pulled out a pair of scissors from the drawer. “I need to give you a hair cut right away.”

     Bridget touched her curls and shook her head. “No, thank you. I think its fine the way it is.”

     Diana gazed into the mirror with an amused look and locked eyes with Bridget. “You want to be beautiful, don’t you? Then do everything that I say.”

     Bridget closed her eyes and consented. All I want is to be beautiful.

 

     …….To Be Continued TOMORROW!