Friday, June 17, 2022

Book Review: The Master Craftsman, by Kelli Stuart

Historical fiction, Faberge Eggs, and a treasure hunt?

Sign me up!

With that description, I was so excited to receive my copy of
The Master Craftsman
by Kelli Stuart. 

The Master Craftsman features a smart interweaving of historical and modern timelines that's popular in historical novels right now.

The historical side of our tale bring us to Russia in the early 1900's. Karl Faberge is at the peak of his success, crafting his iconic Faberge Eggs for the Tsar of Russia. 

We meet Alma Pihl. In real life, Alma was first woman to become a "Master Craftsman" in the Faberge studio. She started as an apprentice, graduated to making jewellery, and eventually designed two of the Faberge Eggs. I've included a photo of my favourite design on this page.

Real life Alma Pihl. SOURCE
If you have any interest in the Faberge Eggs at all, you'll want to keep Google close at hand while reading this book! Kelli describes each egg beautifully, but to truly appreciate their exquisite creativity, you'll want to see photos. 

Even though Karl Faberge is at the peak of his success, Russia is changing swiftly. Our timeline takes us through rebellion and political upheaval in the streets of St. Petersburg. In a moment of crisis and desperation, Karl entrusts Alma with his most precious creation - a final, secret Faberge Egg.

Decades later, treasure hunter, Nick Laine has become obsessed with the mysterious egg. As he faces his final days with cancer, he reaches out to his estranged daughter, Ava, to help him find the missing piece of Faberge history.

Alma's "The Mosaic Egg and Surprise" SOURCE
I don't always read other people's reviews before reading my own, but for some reason I did with this one. It was curious reading the other responses. Some people loved the historical storyline, and dismissed the modern one as far-fetched. Others found the historical parts were filled with too much description, but loved the fast-paced treasure hunt.

The two storylines are very different, but to me, those differences are part of the strength of the novel. As a creator myself, I really loved all the details of the eggs, the jewellery, and the studio. The historical chapters felt rich and full. In contrast, the treasure hunt was fast paced, with the right amount of heightened drama and humour.

I really enjoyed The Master Craftsman,
and I can't wait to read more of Kelli's beautiful books!

You can find out more about Kelli and her writing at 

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Book Review: The Souls of Lost Lake, by Jaime Jo Wright

If you've been looking for your next spooky summer read, I've got it right here!

I was first introduced to the writing of Jaime Jo Wright last year when I reviewed On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor 

I was completely shocked to find out there was such a thing as a Christian Fiction author who loved mysteries, ghost stories, and all things Gothic.

Having a Christian writer compose stories about fear and death might seem antithetical to some people, but you know, as Christians, we have a unique relationship to fear and death. At the end of this review, I've included a screenshot from Jaime Jo's spring newsletter that sums up her approach to writing in a really beautiful way.

Jaime Jo is an exquisite writer and an incredible storyteller,
so I was completely excited to receive a copy of her latest tale: 
The Souls of Lost Lake

Our story spans two time periods, with both set in the Northwoods, surrounding infamous Lost Lake.

Ava Coons is but a child in 1920 when she appears in town, covered in blood. Her recluse family is missing, presumed dead. When we meet Ava as a young woman, she is still haunted by the mysterious ghosts of unsolved murders and missing memories.

Wren Blythe, our modern day heroine, has loved growing up on the campgrounds of the Northwoods. But when a little girl goes missing, past and present collide to stir up campfire stories and rumours. Is a still-vengeful Ava Coons roaming the woods? Where is the missing girl, and why does Wren's name start to appear in creepy places?

The only way to read a campfire ghost story...
Honestly, I couldn't put this down! It's scary enough to be fun, but not so dark as to delve into horror. 

(That said, I'm easily scared, so when I read this at night, I made sure I had a funny story to read right before falling asleep!)

Jaime Jo's writing is truly beautiful, delving into near-poetry at times. Each timeline was distinct, capturing the unique flavour and behaviours of the day. And the characters and storyline were fantastic! I hate being able to see the ending, and this kept me guessing til the final twist.

I highly recommend The Souls of Lost Lake for your summer read!

Jaime Jo has a great newsletter, a fun Facebook community, podcasts,
and lots of great mentoring tools for writers. 

You can find her online at

Screenshot from Jaime Jo's most recent newsletter.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

A Queen, a Priest, and a Ghost Walk Into a Church ... - GUEST POST!


Please welcome my dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, as today's guest blogger!

This post is inspired by his Pentecost sermon. You can watch it live HERE.


Screenshot of Rev. Hollis Hiscock in action...

A Queen, a Priest and a Ghost walk into a church on a Sunday morning ...

 I know you're waiting for the punchline.

Today, the message of the homily is the punchline:

The Queen is Elizabeth …. The Priest is Hollis … the Ghost is Holy.

How are they connected with Pentecost?
 And what is their message to us in the year 2022?

The three go to the front of the church and take turns speaking ...


Queen Elizabeth goes to a table, picks up a plate, and shows it to the people sitting in the church. The plate is a souvenir of her coronation which happened on June 2, 1953.

She explains that she wants to take people back to the previous year. In 1952, when she gave her first Christmas message as Queen, she asked people that “whatever your religion may be, (I ask you) to pray for me on that day (her coronation)—to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”

After all the ups and downs in the ensuing 68 years as Queen, in her 2020 Christmas message, she spoke about the festive mood created by Christmas lights - how lights bring hope, and how Jesus Christ is “the light of the world”.

She went on to say that “the teachings of Christ have served as my inner light”, and that we should “let the light of Christmas, the spirit of selflessness, love, and above all hope, guide us in the times ahead”.


After the Queen sits down, the Priest picks up a Bible and shows it to the people.

He says it was given to him on June 13, 1965, when he was ordained to “the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God”. He explains why it looks rather unused: the King James Bible was the only version available for hundreds of years, but after 1965 there was an explosion of Bible translations. Today, portions of the Bible are available in nearly 3,500 languages.

Like the Queen, he wants to take people back to the winter of 1964: "Four of us were preparing to be ordained. We met for 2-3 hours with the Archdeacon, and I was so upset after the meeting that I went back to my room and documented my feelings." 

He shows a letter outlining why he was upset, disillusioned, and wondering if he wanted to be a Priest, after he observed the behaviour and heard the words of the Church authorities. 

After struggling through questions, like “do I preach the Gospel of Jesus or be restricted by the whims of fallible beings?” and “whom do we serve - God or church hierarchy?”, he concluded that “my firm conviction in God kept my hopes for the ordination to the Priesthood alive”.

“I have carried the copy with me ever since and when things were not going well for me in my ministry work, I reread it for guidance. My firm conviction in God kept me going”.

Hollis goes on to share:

In 2004, on my 40th anniversary of ordination, I said in a sermon, “I am still sane and have kept my faith in God”.

On my 50th anniversary, I wrote, “God is still around and promises to meet us - at all times, in all places and under all circumstances”.


When the Priest sits down, the Holy Ghost picks up a red candle, and says:

“I was there at the first Pentecost” (Acts 2:1-21).

The followers of Jesus were a sorry lot. After waiting for 40 days (not really knowing why) they were disillusioned, bored, complaining, and ready to give it all up.

But when God’s mighty wind entered the house, they opened their eyes, and when they felt God’s 'tongues of fire' touching their heads they stood up, and when they were 'filled with the Holy Ghost' they were ready to act … and they did.

First, they told the people nearby about God’s love. 

Then, they spread it across countries and down through the ages. 

One day, God’s spirit touched you and you began to follow God. I was there then and with you ever since, like I was with the Queen and the Priest." 

This brings us to today, a time to renew our faith in God:

 - Light a candle or visualize a lighted candle in your church.

- Feel God’s spirit waking or renewing your faith.

- Feel God’s fire bringing new life and energy to you.

- Feel yourself being filled with God’s spirit.

- Remember the Queen’s words, “Jesus is the light of the world”.

- Remember the Priest’s words, “wherever we go, God is there waiting for us”.

- Remember God’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) promise, “I am with you always”.

- Repeat, repeat, repeat...

Happy Pentecost!
May God's light shine brightly in your heart, today and always...

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Want even more Pentecost inspiration?

Please enjoy our first episode of Breaking Light Broadcasting:

Pentecost - A Musical Celebration