Flower Swallow by Alana Terry ~Review~

Flower Swallow by Alana Terry

Flower Swallow

Some of us may relate to a time when we saw the world through a child’s eyes. It has always been a mystery to me how that happens. But when it does, there’s a sense of new appreciation for things that have become ‘ho hum’ to us through time and familiarity. I have discovered this book gives us the same kind of perspective. We see what life might be like in North Korea through the eyes of a lost child, a lost boy, known in that country as a ‘flower swallow.’

Once I started reading this book, I became entranced. Because really, what do we know about life in North Korea? Not really enough for us to develop compassion for people who are trapped within a nation whose despotic leaders want them to think they are gods. So this story is told in the first person by a little boy named Woong. From his viewpoint, we understand the people a little bit more; we understand a land in famine, hit by storms, flash floods, cruel dictators, starvation and hard circumstances. Life was so harsh that many children were cut loose from their families to find their own way. In the Western world, we would think of them as “street urchins” thinking back to the eighteenth century London where children often lived in the streets. If you’ve read or watched the story Oliver, that would give you a glimpse of what that life was about. It wasn’t pretty. So too, this boy Woong had a tough life. He wasn’t an orphan, but he was cut loose from family nevertheless.

Flower Swallow street-children Bogota

Street children in Bogota

The author, Alana Terry, creates a character with tons of personality. Unlike the story of Oliver, which was a serious tome from the onset to its conclusion, Woong is a mischievous little guy who thinks and ponders things through. This story is his reflection on his younger years as a ‘flower swallow’, where his adventures and attitudes remind me more of Tom Sawyer than Oliver. I often chuckled, if not at the circumstances, definitely at the way the adventures were explained by a little boy. (His present life sounds as if he’s about 8 or 9, telling this story to his American teacher.)

Flower Swallow street urchins1

19th century London, street children

What I especially appreciate about this book is the combination of pathos and humor. The humor does not detract from the seriousness of the population’s condition. It is so well written, that when the boy speaks of his every day life, you can laugh but with tears in your eyes. You gain such a sense of sympathy devoid of pity. I could appreciate the strength needed to cope and survive in such a hostile environment. I began to admire Woong, and others who barely survived. In fact, I experienced a wide range of emotions while reading this story, including admiration for the author who made this story come alive.

Flower Swallow street children in India

Street children, India

I highly recommend it for your household. This is the type of book you can read with your children, since there are no graphic scenes in this book, although you should be prepared to share harsh reality with your children if they have not been exposed to it before. Yet this book is one that’s appropriate for a wide range of readers. As a former homeschool mom, I can see many applications in this book for children and young people.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Paralyzed (A Kennedy Stern Christian Suspense Novel Book 2) by Alana Terry ~ Review

Paralyzed (A Kennedy Stern Christian Suspense Novel Book 2) by Alana Terry

ParalyzedParalyzed is the second book of the Kennedy Stern novel series by Alana Terry. This series runs parallel to another series by the same author. That set involves Kennedy’s parents who live in China where they conduct a secret seminary for North Korean refugees. While book 1 and 2 in Kennedy’s series works closely together, you can read each one independently of the other. Of course, I think they are best read back to back, since the events only occur six weeks apart. You can view my review of book 1 here.

Kennedy Stern, after having lived in China ten years, is now attending Harvard University as a pre-med student. It’s only been six weeks since she’d been kidnapped in what turned out to be a high profile case that involved a big political name, underground thugs, and a pregnant girl. Kennedy ended up handcuffed for 24 hours in a filthy darkened basement watching the young teen die from bleeding out. She still had nightmares of the horrors she witnessed. While taking final exams before the Christmas break, she started have coughing fits, and out in the hallway, she thought she saw a familiar ugly face. It frightened her enough that she fled the exam in panic to her dorm room. Then she had to see a doctor for her cough and an excused absence for her professor. The doctor recognized her and asked her several questions. He hinted that she may need counseling, possibly for PTSD. She couldn’t get her mind wrapped around the concept. Could she really have PTSD? She was a Christian. She’d been praying an reading her Bible more often since her traumatic experience. She’d even memorized Bible verses. Didn’t that help?Paralyzed Quote1

From that point on, the author provides non-stop suspense. Kennedy’s friend took her out to see the Nutcracker Suite. She enjoyed it but was once again spooked when they attempted to see some of the players backstage, and she wound up alone in a dark hallway. Then they took a subway to get some pizza, but a power outage created new panic; she felt as if someone was following her in the dark tunnel, especially after a smoke bomb forced everyone out of the car and into the unlit tunnel. Once home her shaken nerves were further rattled when her father called to warn her a second man was discovered to have been involved in the kidnapping case. He sent her with an email with a picture of the man. She immediately recognized him from the subway incident. She needed to flee, but she didn’t know where to go. That’s when Pastor Carl Lindgren, a family friend, entered the fray. He had received the same warnings from Kennedy’s dad. Pastor Carl decided she needed to stay with him for her safety. They were anything but safe. What ensued was a terrifying car chase, a shoot out, a hospital visit, police protection, and an ambush. At that point, I just could not put the book down.

Paralyzed Quote2

Alana Terry writes excellent suspenseful scenes that are fast-paced. That alone has me recommending this book to you. But Kennedy’s inner battles are just as interesting to me. Yes, growing up in a missionary family ensured her head was filled with knowledge that made her appear to be a Christian. She prayed, read her Bible, lived by a set of moral codes in spite of her environment, and even memorizing Scripture. But something was missing. She seemed a little two dimensional to me. I kept asking myself, “Where’s the joy? Where’s the relationship, the inner peace, the intimacy between her Heavenly Father and a daughter?” Kennedy’s spiritual life is often too formulaic in my opinion. A true dynamic Christian life is much more than saying prayers, doing good deeds, going to church, and even reading the Bible. It’s vital and alive–an active relationship between a loving Father and His child. there should be dialogue and exchange. I believe this lack of depth has been carefully crafted by the author as an underlying subplot that began in the first book and grows gradually throughout the series. It is not yet resolved in the second book in spite of the satisfactory resolution of the more active portions of the story line. I suspect the quieter theme will continue into the next book or books in the series. I look forward to further development of this character thread because it is an ever pressing issue in today’s world.

Paralyzed Quote3

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Unplanned (A Kennedy Stern Christian Suspense Novel Book 1) by Alana Terry ~Review~

Unplanned by Alana Terry

Unplanned

Unplanned is one of three books by Alana Terry that are loosely tied together by references to an American couple, Roger and Juliette Stern, living in China near the North Korean border. There, they take in refugees from North Korea who express a desire to return to their home country with the gospel of Christ. The Sterns train them for a year in their secret seminary. The book Slave Again has more of their story and acts as a pre-quel for the book Torn Asunder, which focuses on three of the Stern’s students once they return to North Korea: Simon, Levi, and Hannah.

The main character in Unplanned is Kennedy Stern, Roger and Juliette’s daughter. She lives in Massachusetts, acclimating to American culture after ten years living in China. She attends Harvard University as a pre-med first year student. Rather than a sequel, this book is to begin a new series while occurring in the same time frame as Torn Asunder. From time to time, Kennedy reflects back to some of her parents’ students and wonders how they are faring in their missionary calling. At the opening of this book, she has just met with her childhood pastor, the first familiar face she has seen since her return to the States. Pastor Carl is married to Sandy, Kennedy’s childhood Sunday School teacher. The Lindgrens were also family friends of the Sterns, so from this point on the couple practically adopts Kennedy and looks after her.

Unplanned quote1

Pastor Carl and Sandy, along with their church, St. Margaret’s, had just opened a crisis pregnancy center and were searching for volunteers. Before she could think twice, Kennedy was given the hotline phone to answer over the weekend. Thinking this was the least time-consuming, low-impact help she could offer, she accepted. But her first…and second…and third calls were anything but ordinary. By the end of the weekend, she was embroiled in a sinister mystery that grew bleaker by the hour. A short, cursory investigation online placed her on someone’s radar. She and her unknown caller were both abducted and found themselves fighting for their lives.

Based on the three books I have recently read by this author, I enjoy the way she writes suspense thrillers. The issue she uses in her works are relevant, up-to-date and pertinent, especially for Christian readers. She is willing to push the envelope a bit and challenge her readers to really ponder things we are complacent about. In this particular case, she uses abortion, not as the issue, but as an issue that pushes the action and tension forward and challenges the readers to examine their own perceptions and beliefs.

The second aspect of the book I like is how well the author intertwines the suspense with character introspection. Kennedy is one person whom many of us may readily relate with. She all too easily gets caught in the pressing details of her life: lost in test preparation, lab assignments and reports, and assigned readings, barely communicating with her roommate, her parents and her friends. Finally faced with crushing seclusion, fear, and the threat of death, she realized how shallow she had become. What bothered her most during her darkest hours were thoughts of the Secret Seminary Students. Why couldn’t she be more like them in contrast to the plastic world in which she currently existed?

Unplanned quote2

Reading this story reminded me of reading one of Jesus’ parables. Let’s call this one the parable of the rock and the rowboat. The rock is what was solid and stable in Kennedy’s world. She has lived on the rock all her life until now. Suddenly, in spite of her knowledge of the perils of the sea, she finds herself out in a rowboat, seeking adventure and excitement. She is aware that the rock is still there while she allows the gentle waves to ease her further away. Reading this story, we find her in choppy waters she is barely aware of until they become turbulent. The adventure is exciting to read, although there is not yet a conclusion. There seem to be more adventures ahead for our boater. Will she head back toward the rock? Will she continue to drift outward or choose an entirely different option? To be continued. I recommend all the works by this author, including this most recent fiction, to read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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30 Days of Prayer for World Missions by Alana Terry ~Review~

30 Day of Prayer for World Missions

30 Days of Prayer for World Missions by Alana Terry

Suppose someone came up to you and asked, “Do you pray for world missions?” Would that question make you feel uncomfortable? Would you squirm because praying for world missions sounds like something everyone should do? It is a tremendous goal, but how would you implement it? Where would you begin? What would you pray for? This prayer guide answers these questions and more.

The author, Alana Terry, provides caring Christians with a guide that covers 30 days or a month’s worth of important needs we ought to bring to the feet of Jesus on behalf of missionaries all around the world. Each day there is a short devotional or commentary about the need being prayed for. Some examples of what we should to be praying about are: encouraging the called, second-career missionaries, the sending churches, physical protection, the missionary’s marriage, cultural barriers, relief work, and so much more. There is even a day dedicated for those who can’t go out as a missionary.

30 Days of Prayer for World Missions quote1

This short book is written from the perspective of a person who has served overseas as a missionary. Her experience is evident on every page. Her genuine voice demonstrates to her readers just how important prayer is to a missionary’s ministry.

Here’s how I would use this guide. Most churches have a group of missionaries they support with their financial gifts, physical gifts, emotional and spiritual encouragement and prayers. It’s a good place to begin. I would adopt a missionary for a month and pray through the guide for this family or person every day. The author provides at least three prayer points we can use to keep our prayers on topic. The following month, I would adopt another missionary and their family and so on. Another idea would be to adopt a country for a month, and pray for a group of missionaries or persecuted Christians each day.30 Days of Prayer for World Missions quote2 In still another cycle, we could adopt a people group, a missionary organization, or relief workers in a particular country in distress. One month, we could broaden the scope, and another month, narrow it down to a particular person or family. Keep in mind extended family such as parents of missionaries and adult children of missionaries. This guide is flexible and adaptable.

The guide’s prayer points could be transferred to a church calendar, a private calendar, printed onto index cards, put into a flip book, and onto posters. You can challenge other sisters and brothers in Christ to pray every day using the guide. Christian schools could adopt a missionary or support organization each month. 30 Days of Prayer for World Missions quote3This could be used by Sunday School classes, Bible study groups, sports groups supported by the church, and so on to keep our missionaries in the forefront of our minds.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to step up their prayer life and pray with more purpose. Where our minds go, there our hearts will be also.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Torn Asunder by Alana Terry ~Review~

Torn Asunder by Alana Terry

Torn Asunder

In the book, Torn Asunder by Alana Terry, we are faced with the hard facts of life in North Korea. To be a believer in Jesus Christ is a death sentence, or a sentence of condemnation to life in a labor camp or torture, or at the very least, living a secret life filled with the fear of discovery. In the book, Slave Again, the reader is introduced to an American businessman and his wife, Roger and Juliette Stern. They run a Secret Seminary where they train North Korean refugees who want to return to their country with the gospel of Christ as missionaries. It is the most dangerous mission field in the world. Slave Again tells us a little about the men and women who volunteered to return to their homeland.

Torn Asunder quote3

Even with the references to the Sterns and their training program, Torn Asunder still stands on its own very well. Rather than being a sequel to Slave Again, the reverse is more true; Slave Again is better described as a pre-quel to Torn Asunder. In this suspenseful story, we follow Simon and Hannah, two of the Sterns’ pupils, as they enter North Korea, their first missions and subsequent capture. The story is gritty and sometimes difficult to read. But it is also inspiring.

Simon had fallen in love with Hannah the first day he met her at the Stern’s home in Sanji. His love for her grew during their year of training together, learning to become secret missionaries in their homeland. When the Sterns attempts to disuade Hannah from re-entering North Korea failed, he tried to convince her to do something safer. But she remained adamant. It was the Sterns’ policy to send out each missionary out alone. They were not to work together as partners because of the dangers of betraying each other under duress. Simon knew this but he was determined to follow Hannah once she crossed the river. It wasn’t long before he regretted this decision. Only two days into her mission, Hannah was captured and taken to the local jail where she was interrogated. Broken-hearted, Simon completed Hannah’s mission and warned the recipients of the Bibles of her fate. Just as he was about to begin his own assignment, he was taken and placed in the same jail. After their grueling experience, they were separated. Simon was taken to Camp 22, while Hannah was somehow placed in a safe house where her wounds would heal. Hannah had been chosen by the mysterious and legendary “Moses” for work in the underground church.

Torn Asunder quote2

This is an exciting and chilling tale of native North Koreans and how God used them to encourage other members of the underground church. I just couldn’t put this book down once I started reading it. The nail-biting suspense kept me glued to the pages. It isn’t a pretty story, although the love between Simon and Hannah is endearing and uplifting. Their love for God and for each other sustains them through many painful encounters and long days of solitary confinement. Hannah often repeated hymns and Scripture to herself to keep her morale up, while Simon had vast reserves of Bible verses hidden away in his heart. But what kept Simon sane most were his dreams of a life with Hannah some time in the future.

Torn Asunder quote1

While this book may be tough to read because of the realistic descriptions of their suffering, it is well worth reading. The reader gets to view the ugly underbelly of a nation’s efforts to squelch Christian voices. We see through Hannah and Simon’s eyes what happens to people whose only guilt is to be discovered loving God and their fellow believers. For me, this was an eye-opener. It has given me a closer look at the way many people bear unfair treatment for Jesus. I have a newly formed empathy and love for these believers. This book has played a part in reforming my prayer life.

Torn Asunder quote4

The third thing I like about this book is the author’s writing style. The subject matter Ms. Terry has chosen to write about isn’t an easy one to convey without crossing over the invisible line of what is acceptable to put into a book of the Christian genre. But I feel that lines need to be crossed if we readers are to be shaken out of our safe, secure, and unfortunately complacent worlds. In my opinion the author has accomplished this fragile balance. I can only hope many people will read her books, feel the pain of empathy, and be compelled to reach out to help. There are many ways available. In addition, I hope many will become prayer warriors in earnest for those suffering for Christ. May we also display more gratitude for the blessings in life that already surround us every day.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Blog Tour! Torn Asunder by Alana Terry

Torn Asunder by Alana Terry

Torn Asunder is the newest suspense novel from award-winning author Alana Terry. Torn Asunder is the story of Hannah and Simon, two North Korean refugees who sneak back into their country to serve as underground missionaries. In this world of spies, secret police, and informants, Simon and Hannah learn that staying together won’t just compromise their ministry. It could cost them both their lives.
 
Torn Asunder launches today for just 99 cents, and all book sale proceeds today support the work of Liberty in North Korea, an organization that runs an underground railroad for North Korean refugees. You can get the paperback or the ebook for 99 cents for a limited time only. And remember the best news ~ Your purchase will help save a North Korean refugee!

Excerpt from Torn Asunder:



Simon gritted his teeth. His head felt like it was sinking. The general kept his voice level and pleasant as he slipped the device over Simon’s pinky. “Now, you just tell me who you delivered your Bibles to, and I’ll let you leave here with everything intact.”Simon tried to swallow. His whole jaw was swollen from his scuffle in the woods. He shut his eyes and hoped the general couldn’t feel him tremble.

General Sin chuckled to himself. “Silly me. I forgot.” He slid the device off Simon’s finger. “This kind of tool won’t work on a big, strong man like you.” He strode over to Hannah and yanked her hand before Simon could even cry out. He jammed her ring finger into the opening.

Simon struggled against his iron restraints. “Let her go!”

Hannah sucked in her breath. General Sin still glared at Simon. “This is your last chance. Give me the names, and I’ll release her unharmed.”

Simon’s field of vision blurred over. He wanted to scream. The metal from his handcuffs sliced open his wrists. He pictured himself breaking free and tackling the general to the ground.

“Better talk.” General Sin yawned. “I hate getting my uniform messy.”

Hannah’s hand trembled, but she didn’t make a noise.

“Three …”

Simon clenched his jaw, unable to tear his face away from Hannah’s wide, terrified eyes.

“Two …”





Want more? Buy Torn Asunder on amazon now. And remember, all book sales today will be donated directly to Liberty in North Korea, a group committed to seeing North Koreans achieve their freedom in THIS GENERATION.

Want to help spread the word? See below to click and tweet, or share this image on your timeline. Then be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $100 gift card, surprise grab bag ($60 retail), great CD from Cherie Norquay, and free prizes to everyone who enters! And don’t forget to leave a comment and tell us what you think of Hannah and Simon and those like them who sneak into hostile mission fields to share the gospel.

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Or copy and paste into an email or Facebook status: Torn Asunder is a new Christian suspense novel by Alana Terry about two North Koreans who serve as undercover missionaries. It’s on sale for only 99 cents, and all book proceeds today will be donated to Liberty in North Korea’s underground railroad for North Korean refugees.

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Book Launch! Ebook Giveaway: Torn Asunder by Alana Terry

Torn Asunder by Alana Terry

Free Ebook Giveaway From Alana Terry



Torn Asunder is the upcoming release from award-winning Christian suspense novelist Alana Terry. You can pre-order Torn Asunder on amazon now for only 99 cents and have it delivered right to you when it’s released in December. As an added bonus, Alana, along with recording artist Cherie Norquay, is offering free downloads of one of the songs featured in Torn Asunder.

Synopsis: After graduating from the Secret Seminary, Hannah and Simon are ready to return to their homeland. Their training has equipped them to carry the gospel to a country ravaged by darkness and despair. If necessary, they’re even prepared to face the North Korean labor camps, but the hardest part of their mission isn’t the hunger, cold, and incessant danger. The hardest part is cutting off contact with one another.

In this world of spies, secret police, and informants, staying together might not just compromise their ministry. It could cost them both their lives.

A Christian romantic suspense from the author of The Beloved Daughter, which won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, The Book Club Network, and more.
Pre-order Torn Asunder for only 99 cents or enter the giveaway below! You can also sign up to get a free mp3 song download from Cherie Norquay, whose work is put out by Grammy-award-winning producer, Phil Naish, and whose lyrics helped inspire certain scenes in Torn Asunder. Click below or get her free song downloads here. (Several of her song lyrics also appear in the novel itself.)

You can also sign up below to help spread the word about Alana’s fundraiser to help rescue North Korean refugees on a modern-day underground railroad.

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