Lady Dragon Tela Du: Review

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In this Blog Tour post, you’ll find:

A Review
Book Synopsis
Author Bio
A Free Book
A Special Excerpt 

Come back tomorrow for a special interview with Granite!

Review

First comes the review. If you’re here from one of the other blog tour stops, you probably already know what book we’re talking about, who wrote it, and what it’s about, and you’re only here to see what I thought of it. If so, great news! To find my review, you don’t have to scroll through the same info you’ve already read several times.

Lady Dragon, Tela Du is an epic. It’s set in the colorful and imaginative world of Rizkaland – a world plagued with its own problems, not the least of them being Amber, the Lady Dragon. Intriguing characters and stunning plot twists fill the pages of this tale. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you read.

Writing: Good
This story has undergone countless rewrites and revisions, and it shows in the final product. Since I had the privilege of being an alpha reader for this story, I read the last three versions. Even in that short amount of time, I saw tremendous improvement in the tightness of the story and the writing style itself. LDTD is written almost in the tone of a lighthearted fairy tale, but the conflicts and depth of the plot and characters lend dead seriousness to the tone of much of the story. Still, despite the dangers and uncertainties faced by the characters, the overall mood is fairly light and easy to read. It won’t drag you down, but it’s complex enough that you won’t be able to put it down.

Plot: Excellent
So seamlessly are the plot twists and foreshadowing woven together into the story that you’ll probably want to start the book over again the moment you finish. The best part of that element is that the second read will be just as exciting as the first. You’ll pick up hints you totally skimmed over, ignored, or misinterpreted the first time. Personally, I loved how the author crafted the plot so skillfully. Even though I guessed at some of the resolutions and ending, the story was so craftily put together that up until the last moment I had no clue if my desired outcome would happen or not. At the same time, the ending and everything leading up to it were extremely satisfying – so much better than I even could have hoped for or imagined. The points of view of various characters are put together in a clear way that’s easily to follow and, for the most part, easy to keep track of.

Characters: Extremely excellent
While the plot makes the story, the characters make the connection with the reader. All of the characters are vividly pictured through their dialogue, point of view, actions, and the style in which they are written. Petra and Reuben’s relationship is real and deep; Petra and Ashna’s relationship is real and strained; Petra and Amber’s relationship is real and business-like; in short, the author does an excellent job of creating true-to-life characters. And we can’t forget Amber and Granite—their relationship as a married couple is both sweet and endearing despite one of them being the villain. Throughout the course of the book, I found myself sympathizing with them more and more despite the evil that Amber continued on wreaking throughout Rizkaland. It truly take a masterful author to incite such kinship with the clearly-marked antagonist.

Content: Mild violence (nothing to be concerned about); romance (married couple and soon-to-be-married couples). Also one “dream sequence” scene (it’s not a dream sequence, but that’s the best way I can think of to describe the scene’s tone without giving spoilers) featuring dead animals coming to life. For a younger or more sensitive audience, I recommend skipping the scene – though it is as tastefully handled as possible under the circumstances.

A Few Elements I Liked:
The ending. Wow. There’s not much I can say without giving spoilers, but I will say the ending was well worth the entire book. I loved everything about it.
The message. This isn’t just entertainment; there’s truth here.
Granite and Amber’s relationship – a sweet picture of married love complete with deep struggles and heartaches. Such loyalty.
Petra and Reuben’s gift/power. It adds a new and interesting depth to their relationship.
The plot twists! I’ve never seen plot twists done in such a satisfying manner.

If you liked Water Princess, Fire Prince, you’ll absolutely love Lady Dragon, Tela Du. While the plot, characters, and message of the first were excellent, those of the second are even better.

/End of Review. Readers from other tour stops, you’re welcome. And now, you may scroll quickly through the rest of this post until you reach the last header—because I know you want to know what the Snippet from the book that I’ve included is. 😉

All other readers, keep reading to learn more about this wonderful book!

Synopsis

Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised a fifty-year reign over Rizkaland and nothing can stop her from claiming it. But when you’ve lived six thousand years, fifty is such a pitiful number. Only one person can keep her from making this reign permanent – the Tela Du, a girl who shall share Amber’s face.

The last thing Petra wants is a magical world interrupting her plans for a normal life, let alone an ultimate battle against the Lady Dragon with only one prophesied survivor. She has her childhood best friend, Reuben, at her side, but she’s not sure if he’s more of a help or a hindrance right now. Though she’d much prefer to just return home and forget about this whole crazy affair, things change when she discovers that the world has surprising connections to her own family – including her sister who disappeared without a trace two years before. Still, Rizkaland can’t possibly expect her to risk her very life, can it?

Author Bio47-IMG_5944

Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers.

 

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Read Chapter 1 free!

Water Princess, Fire Prince (Book 1 in Rizkaland Legends): free through October 23!

A Special Excerpt!

Dusk was gathering as she stepped through the gates, and found Granite lying on his back in the middle of the courtyard staring at the sky.

She sighed. “I see you’ve been making use of yourself while I was away.”

He seemed not to hear her, so she walked over and crouched by his side. “Just what are you doing?”

A smile spread across his face as he sat up. “Oh, I was just observing the Rizkan sky and reminiscing. Would you care to join me?”

She sighed and started to stand up, but he reached forward and grabbed her arm, preventing her.

“I have more important things to do with my time,” she protested.

“After six thousand years, you can make time for the little things,” Granite replied, simply.

She sighed again. He wasn’t going to give up, was he? She lay down beside him.

“I always marvel at how empty the Rizkan sky is, even at the dead of night,” he said at length. “Especially after staring at the stars of Lintooalintae for four thousand years. Do you ever miss the stars?”

“No, I can’t say I do. I find them more useful now that they have fallen.”

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Samara’s Peril Book Review & Excerpt!

If you’ve read my multiple posts on Resistance, The King’s Scrolls, and Half-Blood, you know my passion for Jaye L. Knight’s Christian fantasy series Ilyon Chronicles. 

Book Three in the series, Samara’s Peril, is the best installment yet.

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We get to revisit all of our favorite characters from previous books, following them on new adventures and through new hardships, struggles, daily life, and joys. We get to walk beside them as they learn and grow, make mistakes and repent, struggle and rise, face danger and experience joys.

Jace’s character, in particular, grows tremendously in this book. From the first chapter, Jaye L. Knight sets the stage for a complex and involved plotline that takes us through some of the darkest and brightest times in Jace’s life so far.

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Advisory/Content Warning: There’s a very short scene that involves torture, but nothing too descriptive and it’s kept quite brief. It also proves to be essential to plot development. There’s also an impulsive kiss.

What I Liked:

Elon. This part of the story was so deep, meaningful, rich, and personal. Without giving away the story, I will simply say that I have seldom or never seen this aspect of an allegory done so well. This storyline alone caused Samara’s Peril to shine above and beyond other books of its type.

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Jace. His character growth, personal growth, and social growth all expanded tremendously in this book, and it was a delight and a joy to read.

Rachel and Elanor. Looking for sweet, delightful (yet very human and realistic) female role models? Look no further. I can’t wait to see more of these two in future books.

Jace and Kyrin. Need I say anything more? I appreciated how the two of them had equally important yet different roles in the first part of the book – and how they worked together after that. Despite one impulsive mistake on Jace’s part, I sincerely enjoyed how the two of them developed throughout this book. It’s sweet, touching, uplifting, and exciting to see them walk forward step by step in Elom’s plan for them.

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King Balen. Now this is what a true king should be like. His behavior, attitude, and outlook on life are refreshing.

The professional, descriptive, and highly-polished writing style. Even the beta reader copy I received originally showed marked evidences of highly-refined grammar, style, and content. As an editor, I find this refreshing to read and it adds significant quality to the book. This is a well-crafted story in all respects.

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Daily life in camp. The glimpses and scenes of life in camp were a joy and delight to read. With the constant perils of Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, we don’t get to see much ordinary life in camp, but in Samara’s Peril, several delightful glimpses of camp life provide a refreshing change to the dangers. I also enjoyed the Altair family interactions.

Realistic actions, reactions, emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It was easy to identify with the various characters.

Kyrin’s birthday. 🙂

Warin and Lenae.

Jace and Elon!

Timothy preaching.

Jace with Kyrin and Rayad towards the end – and Jace speaking truth and life.

Emotions. There’s joy and delight in simple pleasures, as well as excitement, tender moments, thrills, love, and peace. There’s depth of spiritual relationship. There’s danger, suspense, tension, fear, hopelessness, doubt, despair, stress, anger, and hatred – all portrayed and handled excellently.

Prayer. I mention this last on this list, but it was very important to me. There is more of an urgency of fervent prayer in this book than previous books. The relationship with Elom is becoming very real and personal.

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What I Liked Less:

While I didn’t dislike anything about this book, I didn’t care for a certain torture scene. I also was disappointed with Jace in making an impulsive mistake near the end of the book at a pivotal point, but at the same time, I did enjoy seeing his character increase as he realized his error, apologized, and moved forward with true kindness, consideration, wisdom, and gentlemanliness. I also found one of the plot endings to be a bit bewildering, but there were enough “good endings” to wrap it up and leave me with a sense of satisfaction. And despite these few things, Samara’s Peril remains my favorite of the entire series and ranks near the top of my all-time favorite books.

What Else You Might Like:

Dragons
Epic battles
Intense suspense during the mission
Emotions
New characters
Surprises and plot twists

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Overall, I highly recommend this book. Hop on over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks and pick it up to celebrate release day! If you haven’t discovered Ilyon yet, pick up Resistance on Amazon. I assure you that the series is well worth it.

Samara’s Peril Excerpt!

A couple of hours later, Kyrin set one of the finished loaves on the table to cool. She had just turned to get another when the door opened again, letting in a string of excited male voices.

“—see that?”

Kaden walked in first, laughing a breathless chuckle fueled by adrenaline, and flashed a grin at Talas.

The crete shook his head. “I thought for sure you were going down!”

Kyrin could tell by their windblown hair that they had just come from flying, likely another training session for their group of dragon riders. They worked with them nearly every day. The laughter and conversation died, however, when Kaden met their mother’s probing gaze.

“What’s this about going down?”

Kaden’s gaze shifted to Kyrin, looking for support. She lifted her brows. If he was being daring and foolhardy, he wasn’t going to get any support from her.

His attention returned to their mother. “Ah . . .” A sheepish grin came to his face that Kyrin remembered him using as a child to cover up wrongdoing. “It’s nothing… I was just practicing a new maneuver and there was a little incident. That’s all.”

“Right.” Their mother nodded at Talas. “If he thought you were going down, that sounds serious.”

Kaden looked over his shoulder at Talas, probably hoping he would downplay the whole thing, but the crete merely shrugged, a mischievous twinkle in his bright green eyes. Turning back to his mother, Kaden insisted, “Really, I was fine. Exsis wasn’t going to let me fall.”

Scroll down or click “previous post” for the Samara’s Peril giveaway and other blog tour goodies! Scroll up or click “next post” for an author interview with Jaye L. Knight!

Image source credit: Pinterest

Water Princess, Fire Prince Book Review

DesktopWater Princess, Fire Prince.

It starts slow.

But it quickly becomes an engrossing and intriguing tale of two ordinary teenagers thrust into a non-ordinary life.

Kendra E. Ardnek has been working on this story for seven years, and the depth of her work shows in her characters. She has infused life into Clara, Andrew, Laura, and their friends. Each one has a true-to-life personality that it’s easy to befriend while poring over the pages of their story.

The entire concept of the story is intriguing. It answers a fundamental question that everyone has wondered: “What if I stepped in the shower and it was really a waterfall and I stepped out as a Water Princess?”

Okay, so maybe most people never have that thought. But the idea touches a chord inside of us – the thrilling realm of the imaginative “what-ifs” that adulthood never truly loses. And when Kendra had that thought, pursuing the trail of where it led her resulted in a complex and deep story that reveals the workings of Alphego (God) in the lives of those whom He has called.

Following Clara, Andrew, and their friends as they find themselves caught in His plan is an adventure of trusting Him, no matter what personal preferences might be or how crazy the situation looks.

As for the plot and content, it’s masterfully done. Some parts are predictable and the action is slower, but so many unique elements fill the sequence that the story is indeed a page-turner. There’s a bit of romance. And thumbs-up to Kendra for how her characters don’t rush into things but are willing to step back, wait, and take things slowly.

The world-traveling element of the story is also a unique plot element that adds interest to the story with the twists and turns of time, connections, and how past, present, and future mix themselves up. It keeps the readers as well as the characters on their toes.

This book has a very large cast of characters that can be slightly difficult to keep straight. However, the story is long enough that the major characters are clear and the minor characters are mentioned in such a way that they can be kept track of, even if their personalities and roles might not always be developed thoroughly.

Watching Clara and Andrew work through their struggles, both individually and together, was inspiring. Both of them are normal teens with normal feelings and issues, but both of them seek Alphego and learn to submit to Him instead of running their own lives. As they learn to put the needs of others above their own, both grow and mature throughout the book. Cause/effect is strong and clear in this story.

Dialogue is realistic and believable. The backstories are hinted at just enough to support the main story with their own unique strength. Elements of the story in the beginning tie in very well throughout the book and in the end. Overall, Rizkaland is a fresh and believable world with interesting geography, science, and history that are revealed in small snippets in natural ways interspersed throughout the story.

I recommend it for all ages. There is very minimal violence (some creatures are killed and on occasion, characters are injured by animals), there is minimal romance, and there is a very clean feel to the story.

This is not a light read – it is a thick book with five parts. However, it is well worth the time, both in entertainment and, more importantly, on an inspirational level. Kendra’s goal in her writings is to glorify God, and this theme is clear in Water Princess, Fire Prince.

Water and Fire

 

“Forgive me if this sounds like a strange question, but what do you know of the various arts of combat?”

Clara narrowed her eyes. “Could you be more specific?” Sure, her dad taught Tae Kwon Do, her mom taught fencing, and Kath’s dad taught archery, and thus she was well-trained in all three. However, she wasn’t ready to put her weapons on the table until she knew what weapons were needed and for what.

“Well,” said Lord Erik, “have you done any training with a bow and arrow, perhaps with a knife? I know this may seem like a strange question, you being a girl and all.”

Oh, please. “Do you really expect me, a young girl, to know how to use a weapon?” she asked. “Besides, where I come from, we barely even use those sorts of weapons anymore.” She paused a moment, then added, “I can throw my shoe at mouse kings, but that’s probably about it.”

“Unfortunately, our problem is a bit bigger than a mouse king,” said Lord Erik, sounding a trifle confused as he narrowed his eyes.

“Really? Because mouse kings can be huge problems, eating all of the sweets and chewing holes in dresses,” said Clara in her best shocked voice, layering in plenty of concern. “What could be worse than that?”

Lord Erik took a deep breath, while the dark-haired young man on Clara’s right whispered something under his breath. Clara shot this young man a conspiratorial smile, because she felt like it.

 

Don’t forget to check out Water Princess, Fire Prince on Amazon!

 

Image credit: pinterest

Half-Blood Review

In celebration of Jaye L. Knight’s release of Half-Blood, I am devoting a grand total of three posts to this marvelous book. This is the second of those posts, and in it I proclaim my dedicated review for this masterpiece.

Half-Blood. What does one say after finishing such a book? How long must one devote to emotional recovery? I liked Half-Blood. I don’t think I liked it quite as much as Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, but it’s different – it has a different feel, different length, different purpose. Yet it has a very continuous feel to it; it flows with the other books very well.

I particularly liked reading a whole book from Jace’s point of view. I felt like I couldn’t connect with and understand Jace like I wanted to in Resistance, and I realized that part of the reason is that we don’t get to be “inside his mind” for most of the book like we do for the others. Half-Blood provided an excellent background in seeing from his perspective and truly understanding who he is, how he thinks, and what drives him. In Resistance, we don’t get to read from Jace’s perspective until a good way in. But in Half-Blood, we get Jace’s perspective from the first line straight through to the last line. We get inside of his head. We get to know what he’s been through and what motivates him—why he acts as he does. In Resistance we’re introduced to a quiet, hurting young man who’s wrapped up in his shell. We view him with Rayad’s eyes, with Kyrin’s eyes, with Holden’s eyes, with Rebekah’s eyes and Laytan’s eyes and Trask’s eyes and Lady Anne’s eyes. But in Half Blood, we view him through his heart and soul. Yes, he does have a soul. Every action and reaction of his proves it.

The book was shorter than the others, but not so short that it left me unsatisfied and wanting more too badly. Much of it was painful. But the threads of hope that begin to weave themselves into Jace’s life provide a satisfying story line and deeper insight into what Elom is doing in his life.

One of its strongest points is that it tied into Resistance most excellently. I was riveted from the moment I knew that the two books had begun to intersect, and that continued through to the end. Jaye structured this part of the book very well.

The book didn’t make me cry. The King’s Scrolls does a much better job as far as that goes…but that’s because it’s on such a different level. The pain and emotion and hurt in TKS is different, and in a sense, deeper. It touches something that could make me cry. Half-Blood, on the other hand, is full of physical pain and slavery and mistreatment in daily life. It’s awful. It’s a very uncomfortable story to read. But it’s not a crying kind of book for me. Still, during one particular scene especially, I was right there feeling the pain, hurt, and loss with Jace.

As an advisory, this is a tough story. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for children. Although Jaye doesn’t linger on the rough details of the violence, pain, and loss that Jace suffers and handles this far better than any other portrayal I’ve read regarding such topics, it’s there. Also, I would not recommend reading this book before reading Resistance. With the perspective of Resistance, the story of Half-Blood is bearable and greatly enlightening. I would recommend it highly to fans of Resistance.

Character development was excellent and lays the foundation for the development in the other Ilyon books. Because Half-Blood focuses solely on Jace and his character, there is a lot of depth here that we wouldn’t be able to get in a larger, more complex story with more characters, plots, sub-plots, and dangers. I also greatly enjoyed the character portrayal of Rayad in this story. In Resistance, we see through his eyes. Now we see him from the other viewpoint and we appreciate him that much more.

The setting is very realistic. You can feel that you’re in Ilyon, and you know it. The emotion and dialogue were also well done. I could hear Jace in this book in a much more clear way than I could in Resistance—probably because I had no context in Resistance to guide the sound of his voice. I heard only a silent, moody, pained, hurting young man, which was hard to hear without context. Now I hear his heart, his fears, his struggles, and who he is.

Images source: Pinterest

Captive of Raven Castle: Book Review

Not the cover.
Only a cover idea – by Jessica Greyson

Why on earth must it haunt me! He is NOT MY FATHER! I WON’T LET HIM BE. I won’t, I won’t!”

Captive of Raven Castle, by Jessica Greyson, is an adventure story of a young naïve girl caught up in national problems, quite apart from her own choosing. This thrilling story, set in the medieval-like fictional world of Chambria, is filled with ups and downs, tension, drama, suspense, intrigue, disguises, plot twists, character growth and change, deception, spies, danger, courage, love, loyalty, and sacrifice. The ordinary, everyday times in Raven Castle contrast beautifully with the dangerous times. The spiritual dimension is beautifully portrayed with prayers occurring here, there, and everywhere, for the main character depends on God continually. With no one else to depend on, to whom can she turn?

Her character development is excellent. She grows, changes completely, and then becomes exactly the same girl she is originally – only in a much different, more mature, and better way. Although her stubbornness causes clashes with Taleon, the atypical relationship between the two of them provides interesting humor at times as well. Taleon is a well-portrayed supporting character. His patience, loyalty, kindness, gentleness, strength, courage, boldness, bravery, and love steady and strengthen the story.

The storyline moves quite nicely. With an overarching theme of truth dissolving into grave issues with the nation, people, and rebel king, the main character is nicely woven into both those problems. Unexpected plot twists and complications will have the reader on the edge of his/her seat. The suspense builds to the climax – and the climax is suitably and intensely dramatic and involved. True to the realism of evil, the villain is horribly wicked – and yet he has reasons of his own on top of his cruel nature. This makes him believable and desperate as well as the threat of being the bane of the main characters.

This is the second book to be released by Jessica Greyson. Those who have read, enjoyed, and wanted more after Annabeth’s War will love Captive of Raven Castle. While the style is similar, the characters and plot are entirely new and refreshing. Personally, I enjoyed Captive of Raven Castle even more than Annabeth’s War and would recommend it highly to teenagers and adults. Put this book on your to-read list. You will not regret it.

Captive of Raven Castle: coming this spring/early summer!

Watch for updates and announcements:

– At Safirewriter.

– At Jessica Greyson on Facebook.

– On Twitter

Or check out Annabeth’s War.

Ransomed: Book Review

“Powerful…beautiful… so true.” These are the first words that came to mind the first time I read Ransomed. Although this story could be viewed as fiction, it is not. Every part of it is completely real. It is an allegory: an allegory of my life – and of yours.

Ransomed sets the mood in the very first sentence. It seems impossible to set a scene so quickly, but the author does so. Although an entire background story could be behind the opening scene, further description is not needed, for we are right there, drawn into the story. The love and care are deep and real. The contrast between the quietness and the danger is astounding – and yet it is there. The deceit of the enemy is portrayed realistically and very fittingly. Persuasiveness comes across through the dialogue. The first person point of view puts the reader into the shoes of the main character – and main character is not named, for it is me. It is you.

Love – true, deep, strong love, not mushy love as modern culture has defined it – is portrayed powerfully and grippingly. At the end of each section, short gripping sentences clinch the transition. The story flows smoothly and naturally with power in the way the sentences are fashioned. The whole thing is very well put together and very effective.

It is a challenging, thought-provoking allegory with gripping spiritual dimensions. I really enjoyed reading it and it was well worth my time! Even now, after I have read it several times, it still grips me and challenges me each time, refocusing my perspective on life and what truly matters. Read Ransomed. You will be blessed.

Ransomed: Coming within the month! Watch for announcement of release at Seek Him First.

Trust: Book Review

Click to go to Amazon link.

Trust, by Molly Evangeline, continues the story begun in Truth and Courage. Many of the loose ends, plots, and characters mentioned in the first two books become central to the plot of this one. One might wonder how, with the conclusion in Courage regarding the struggle of good and evil, Trust could continue the story – but there is certainly no lack of plot, drama, and tension in Trust!

This book is not a repeat of the other two. The plot is entirely fresh and new; the evil is different; the methods of fighting against it are different. We are again reunited with favorite characters and introduced to some new ones. Many chapters end with cliffhangers, encouraging the reader to press on to find out what happens. In addition, multiple plotlines are working simultaneously as various characters have separate adventures that later become intertwined – and the author’s shifting between the situations leaves the reader wondering what happened in each instance. Of course, the conflict is later explained. This style of writing truly makes the book interesting and enjoyable.

The theme of Trust is indeed trust. The complex plots, the sudden appearances of characters both new and old, the contradictions in character’s behaviors – indeed, whom can Makilien and her friends trust? Can anyone be trusted? Can they even trust each other? How can they know?

This book has a more modern feel than the previous books which had a stronger medieval feel. The strategies are more advanced and developed; the humans are the central focus. Other species do not appear as much as they did in the other books. Additionally, the violence is greater. Evil creatures simply battle and war; evil humans are much more sinister in their approaches to dealing with their enemies. Still, the painful scenes are not overdone and most people should be able to stomach the book just fine.

The greatest overarching themes in the book are the themes of loyalty/sacrifice (“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”) and the incredible workings of Elohim who uses every evil occurrence to bring about good and avert otherwise unavoidable disaster. Indeed, with the examples of how everything in life serves Elohim’s purposes, as is laid out in the story, how can one fail to trust Him for everything? Being a witness to how He uses all things – bad situations as well as good situations – for good strengthens the knowledge that we can indeed trust Him.