An epic tale spun from erratic thoughts placed into text and delivered to the world. That is the sense that readers will get from Black Inked Pearl A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan. Our protagonist, Kate, is searching for something. She is on a journey through years and lifetimes as she seeks out this piece that is required to complete her. We see this world through her eyes, her thoughts and her experiences. The tale is epic not only in page count, but in content as well. We know that Kate has lost something, that she is searching for this thing, but we don’t know exactly what it is. We are left with speculation and can only turn the next page to find out if she has achieved her goal. With songs, poetry and influences of dreams long past, this tale is one that is begging to be heard.
The way this book is written, with its dream-like prose and fractured sentences, allows this epic fantasy novel to be told in a stream of consciousness style of writing. The thoughts are thrown at the reader: fast and unforgiving. At first glance, the reader may think that our protagonist, Kate, has simply gone mad and the first chapters are from her point of view. However, the entire book reads that way and, if you are not paying close attention, you may get lost. Readers are quickly taken from scene to scene and thought to thought with barely a lull. Perfect for readers who like to be fully engaged in a story.
The words are very beautiful. The poetry both original and borrowed lends a mystical air to the story. If you view the entire book as a sort of waking-dream, it begins to make sense. This writing style is wonderful for conveying emotions and we can get a better sense of how Kate is feeling as she continues her search. The blending of a warped reality with a warped sense of fantasy lends well to the thought of this being a dream-like state that Kate has found herself in.
A whirlwind of a read is what you’ll find between the covers of Black Inked Pearl A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan. The mystical sense of the book is intriguing. This is a book recommended to be finished in one sitting as you may find it hard to pull away. The dream-like madness that seems to grip the pages make for an exciting read, but this can also be overwhelming. This may be a book suited to seasoned readers who are looking for a dreamlike story of epic proportions.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B0158VRF26
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A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.
The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.
It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.
The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.
I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.
Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ
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Father Michael Kieh suffered the loss of his family in Liberia as a child. Taken in at a Catholic center for children, he went on to become a priest. Father Michael was stationed at the airport in London, listening to confessions of passing travelers. He became involved with a crime that happened years before involving some of the most powerful people in London, and found himself drawn into a very dangerous situation. Through love, loss, and love again, Father Michael navigates the difficult terrain in which he finds himself, trying to heal his past through his actions in the present and his hopes for the future.
This book ended up being one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in some time. I don’t read a lot of thrillers because I often find myself disappointed with how un-thrilling they turned out to be, but that was not a problem I had with A Burning In The Darkness. I was drawn in from the very first page, finding myself looking for stolen moments to sneak in a few more.
One quirk of the book is that it appears to have been written by a non-native English speaker, which left behind some stilted English. The first time I encountered it in the book I worried it was a bad sign, but on the contrary, I found that the mistakes in English made it quite charming, like listening to someone with an accent telling a story. Though there were some grammatical mistakes in it, on the flip side, much of the language was beautiful and parts of the writing were almost poetic. I found myself, more than once, reflecting on a beautiful turn of phrase.
I felt all of the characters in the book were well developed, and Father Michael was both sympathetic and borderline heroic. I had some strong feelings about nearly every character that appears in the story, and that’s not always an easy task to accomplish. A.P. McGrath did a wonderful job breathing life into each person in the novel, giving them their own personalities and making them deeply likable, or deeply detestable, driving the story forward with strong character development.
If I have one complaint about the story itself, it’s that everyone was perhaps a little too charmed by Father Michael. It seemed that everyone he met fell under his spell right away, and that seems rather too neat for me. I felt as though it was too easy for him to convince the right people to trust him and to help him.
All in all, I found this to be an addictive book. So much so that I was sad to say goodbye to the characters at the end and wish there was a sequel. This is my first exposure to A.P. McGrath’s work, but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the next novel!
Pages: 253 | ASIN: B06ZYXJ1KL
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The Reaper opens with the revelation that the King of Akala is missing, and the new Queen, Leah, is now in power. She meets with President Inaeus Janu of Shaweh to offer a peace treaty that brings their long war to an end. Janu suspects the Queen is a figurehead and focuses on the mysterious Lialthas who seems to have an undue influence over the Queen.
In the meantime, refugees from Akala reach the city-state of Shaweh seeking asylum. The group includes the missing King Darius, his half-sister Moriene with the child Hannah in tow, General Victor Ikharson, and Sefas, once called Meddiah when he was an Empty One. They are shadowed by the black-clad Zacharias who used his magic to help them escape from Lialthas. When the Akalan’s gestures of peace turn out to be empty promises, President Janu and the Akalan refugees are whisked to a secure location as war resumes.
This is the second book in the Fallen Conviction series, and it wasn’t hard to catch up when the asylum-seekers told their story to Janu. This gave me the chance to get up to speed on the plot if you haven’t read the first book.
The interplay between Darius’ group of refugees and the leadership of Shaweh are the primary drivers of the plot. Character-driven stories are a big draw for me, and the author has a knack for showing the complex, often antagonistic relationships between all of these strong-willed characters. My favorite characters in this book were Moriene and Sefas, who were once under Lialthas’ control. Both escaped his grasp and recovered from being “Empty,” yet both still seem to be fighting the battles of the past.
I also enjoyed the high-tension setting. Being locked in a bunker with people you don’t like but are forced to trust is hard enough, but if that trust is tested, things are going to get violent. The situation erodes when Zacharias reveals that there’s something even worse that Lialthas out there, and they may not be able to stop it.
The first thing that struck me about The Reaper was the unusual formatting. At first, I thought it was a typesetting error, but it became clear that the line numbering was meant to give it a scriptural feel. Some of these passages have archaic sentence structure with rhyming words at the end of sentences, but it’s not always consistent and that can be frustrating for those expecting poetic meter. However, the nod to scripture isn’t surprising because gods and religion play a major part in this story.
Don’t assume that because this is written in poetic language that it won’t be exciting. This is a place where magic and technology that we would recognize today are both present, where battles are fought with WMD strikes as well as mind-bending magical attacks. War is gruesome, and the author doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to violence and mayhem. In this world, magic is fueled by blood, fear, and suffering, so whoever wields this power must harm others in order to succeed.
If you’re looking for a novel that offers both a unique style and a reading experience that challenges and defies “the usual” in fantasy, give this book a try.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B06XRS3SFD
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In this delightfully imaginative tale, two children, Chris and Kate, find a log of driftwood on the beach. They decide to build a boat and sail across the ocean. Whether by magic or imagination, the two friends and their little dog Holly build their ship, name it the Pearl of the Seas, and begin their journey. Like any fairy tale, there are obstacles to overcome, dangers to face, and kind strangers to help them along their way. They rely on friendship, faith, and kindness to see them home to a happy ending.
Intended as a prequel to Black Inked Pearl, a romance novel, this story is dedicated to young teens. I believe it would also appeal to middle-grade youth as well. There’s a real sense of youth-centered discovery and the freedom to let creative fancies bloom into epic adventures. And I don’t use ‘epic’ lightly; the author weaves in themes, events, and allusions borrowed from the Bible, the original Greek epics, tales of Aladdin and Orpheus, and classic narrative poetry. Indeed, poetry is the heart of the tale, and to me, it read less like a novel and more like a prose poem:
“All things stayed silent. Harkening. The gulls sat in white lines along the rocks; on the beach, great seals lay basking and kept time with lazy heads; while silver shoals of fish came up to hearken, and whispered as they broke the shining calm.”
Poems in traditional form are often combined with the prose. Finnegan creates a language that can take some time to get used to the unusual sentence structure and sing-song pattern of the words. In some passages, the child-like way of chaining words together lends an air of playfulness. Since readers (especially young readers) may be inspired to learn more about the poetry and prose of the book, the author includes a section of notes at the end. She offers more information about key phrases and events, poetic references, and the inspiration for some of the key events in the story. I found this to be a big help in deciphering some of the words and concepts of the book.
The characters are charming. Kate and Chris have their own problems in the real world. Kate is perplexed by math and the nuns who teach her; Chris has lost his mother and is being raised by a foster father. Holly, the dog, finds every opportunity for danger and gives both children a chance to play hero and rescue her. Once they’re sailing the sea of dreams, they meet Yahwiel with his riddles, as well as the benevolent King and Queen who live on an Eden-like island. These characters all have an air of the divine, and the lessons they teach are steeped in the Christian faith.
If you’re looking for a unique book for a young reader or a short chapter book to read to very young children, Pearl of the Seas is a unique story that goes beyond mere entertainment. It’s an excellent introduction to poetry, classic literature, and imagination.
Pages: 138 | ISBN: 1625902557
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“Highlights both the skill and depth of a maturing poet” – The US Review of Books
“A wonderful poetry collection that will delight readers” – The Columbia Review
Author Interview with Lyman Ditson, author of Please Don’t Ask.
Please Don’t Ask is a collection of 51 poems covering a wide range of topics. Dog Nap is my favorite poem. What is your favorite poem in the collection, and why?
Bracelet. Because it touches the soul. It makes us deal with the inevitability of death. I remember the moment that held so much contrast between my mother’s innocent happiness at getting a bracelet and my sadness that she didn’t understand the meaning of the bracelet.
Some poems cover mundane things, like dogs taking up too much room on the bed, while other poems such as Dear Brother, are beautiful and seem deeply personal. Was there any inspiration pulled from real life that you put into your poems?
Yes. Pretty much all of the poems were either about my experience or were pulled out from my spiritual experiences. Some were just silly such as Frog Heaven.
I liked this collection because I could grasp the meaning of the poems, but they were still complex enough to keep me thinking about them after they were done. Do you have a specific style that you like to write in?
I don’t know if I have a favorite style. I love having diversity of style. Most poetry books from one poet use pretty much the same style and it doesn’t seem as alive after a while of reading as when different styles and subjects are used.
Here is a poem from Lyman Ditson.
Yet still I wait,
the calling distractions
I recall the whisper
yet still I wait
Please Don’t Ask is an eclectic mix of spiritual and secular poetry written by Lyman Ditson. You will find inspirational as well as comical work in this book. Do not be surprised by the occasional critique of situations that are happening in the world today. Two poems, Cricketland and Adobe Land will seem very familiar to those who know Austin, Texas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The inspiration for these poems comes from not only a deep commitment spiritually but also an awareness of how day-to-day life can be affected by things outside of our understanding. “Please Don’t Ask” is enjoyable both as a casual read but will also be of interest to students of life in general. “Please Don’t Ask” is suitable for readers of all ages and all students of life.
Please Don’t Ask by Lyman Ditson is a collection of poetry. There are fifty-one poems in the collection covering a wide range of topics and eliciting emotions of all kinds from the reader. The book opens with the title poem please don’t ask. It sets the tone for this collection, one of sarcasm and dry wit. It makes it clear this is not a book of love poems, or Shakespeare. This is not the book for someone looking for romantic rhyming verses with perfect meter or even following any standard poetic mechanisms. Instead, Ditson uses freeform prose, punctuation and line breaks to convey a deep message in each poem.
Some of the poems are light hearted such as dog nap, a playful take on the frustration of how such a small creature can take up the whole bed when they refuse to move. This is something all animal owners are well aware of. Than there are poems like the general. This piece speaks of war. One of the longer poems in the collection, it goes into great detail talking about the meaninglessness and pain that war causes, that it is not by God’s direction, and not some grand event to run quick into. Instead the author shows the pain, the meaningless loss of life and just the drudgery that is there, not glory.
Ditson has the ability to cover topics well that are mundane and those that are deep. He questions God’s will in many of the poems and those that are devote believers might take offense to some of his tone. Than there are poems such as Dear Brother, that are beautiful and deeply personal. Speaking of the everlasting relationship between brothers that will extend even beyond death. The poem frog heaven gives the reader a look into the world of what might be. It makes the reader stop and think of life in a new perspective, not all things that look bad to start are in the end. The author challenges the reader to think further than the moment and see the whole picture, not just in them, but of the world. Trying to feel truly strikes at the heart of some of todays problems in the world, the inattentiveness we have for those around us as we divulge deeper and deeper into the electronic world. The collection ends with several poems dealing with the end of things, death, end of a season of life, and a message that we are all smaller than we think we are in this world.
Over all Lyman Ditson’s collection of poetry is a good read. It brings forth an emotional response from the reader, as all good poetry should. I enjoyed the lack of whimsical prose and the more sarcastic realist views. The collection brings you face to face with many of the modern issues we are living with right now. It does not shy away from the topics that people do not want to think about. Thought provoking and meaningful poetry, a collection that can bring the reader in and leave them thinking about the subjects well after the cover is closed.
Pages: 140 | ISBN: 1504350324
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Black Inked Pearl is a romance story following a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious man and then must search for him through Heaven and Hell. I found Kate to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for her and her emotional turmoil through the story?
My reading: above all (as you’ll see from the similes) Homer and the mystic love poetry of Shakespeare, Blake and Rumi. Music – the dreams in which the book was given to me (from where?), one dream / one chapter a night for about two months, were interlaced with my hearing classical music through the night, most poignantly Bach, slow Mozart piano and John Rutter’s ‘Blessing’. But most of all my life, living through it:, I think no serious novelist can write of love or emotion of searching unless she has experienced it herself, at least in imagination (what else?): as the agreed poet Aeschylus rightly summed it up ‘learning through suffering … ‘
Within this book you flawlessly blend poetry with prose that brings beauty and intrigue to the story. It takes exceptional talent to blend the two genres together. How did you go about blending the two genres without disrupting the story?
I don’t think they’re essentially so very different, in fact some of the ‘poetry’ could equally well be set as rhythmic prose (my publisher – lovely Garn Press – had quite a discussion about which should be which, we changed our minds several times), and ‘prose passages’ could equally appear as poetry (actually, some of the ‘prose’ similes are now set as verse in my Poems from Black Inked Pearl: after all many of them came directly from, or were inspired, by Homer, the great arch poet). Also as I learned when I was writing my book Oral Poetry it’s really only a fairly recent typographical western convention that makes prose ‘look’ different from poetry. Ultimately it’s the SOUND and the INTENSITY OF EMOTION – or so I think -that are fundamental to poetry, and that, for me anyway, runs all through the book. So in a way it’s all poetry and I couldn’t feel any break between them. That said, interestingly, the poems came separately, also in dreams (each one already made, complete, perfect – well as perfect as it was ever going to get anyway) over the months BEFORE the novel started, mysteriously, to arrive. I thought they were independent poems. But when the novel chapters were written I saw that, all the time, they were part of the story and needed to be there. So now, there they are.
I felt that Black Inked Pearl is about love, romance, and life experiences that shape the person we become. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?
I think – as in The Alchemist (a kind of soulmate book with mine) follow your dream, whatever anyone else says – and maybe at the end of that rainbow what you will find will be the pearl, yourself. Love is all, even if unrequited – that has its deep treasures too. The ‘new’ words (the Garn Press copy editor said there were hundreds!!) just came to me; they were just standing there already in my mind (like the poems were), complete, ready to be written. When I looked back (having forgotten…) I saw that they were (almost) all because they made the line SOUND better, more rhythmic. Roll on the audio, oral, version for its full realization, much influenced by my experience of African (and Irish) oral story telling. Oh and often it turned out to be sense too – some subtle change from the meaning conveyed by the ‘ordinary’ form – didn’t James Joyce and Homer and even Shakespeare sometimes find they had to do the same? (sorry, what a comparison….)
An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected. Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
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The Empty One is an epic fantasy novel setup like other epic poetry in the past; Beowulf for example. Why did you choose to write in verse for the book and what was your experience writing in this style?
Verse can set a tone that cannot ordinarily be achieved through the use of prose, and by using poetic phrases, more can be conveyed in just a single line than in an entire paragraph otherwise. For example by using short, quick words in succession, you can convey a kind of rushed and hurried atmosphere; conversely, longer phrasing sets up a more relaxed scene. Subtle keys such as these allow for a lot fewer ex-positional portions within the novel, and make room for action and character development. While writing in this style, I took a lot of inspiration from the epic poems of India, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads – and as these dealt with fantastic situations and characters, poetry seemed a natural choice for my book, as well. When it came to my experience with writing in this style, it was challenging and rewarding at the same time. It took several weeks to come up with just the right phrasing in certain parts, because I simply didn’t like the mood or atmosphere of a particular section. (The hardest part was chapter twenty-six; it took so many rewrites to get that chapter just the way I wanted it, for a while I considered removing it altogether). Additionally, while not being an established writer, I made many safe choices when it came to the rhyme schemes I used – such as only using end rhymes in most places. However, I fully intend to advance to more complex styles in the future entries of the series.
In your novel I picked up some inspiration from other fantasy novels and mythology of the past that I thought played well in the story. What were some of your sources of inspiration for this book?
As mentioned, I took inspiration from The Bhagavad Gita, but I was also influenced by some Greek mythology surrounding The Titans and the Gnostic text The Reality of the Rulers.
In The Empty One there are two nations against one another, The Akalan Nation and the City States of Shaweh, that represent good and evil in the story. How did you create the dichotomy between these two nations?
The history of the two nations is that they were once one land, but split due to a civil war over ideology. They have a common history, language, and even culture in many aspects – but they cannot get past their differences over the definition of morality. They are therefore like brothers that grew apart over the ages, so much so that they have disowned each other. However, just as you might be furious with a loved one if they committed something atrocious yet still feel the need to help them, this is how the two nations exist. Both see the other as completely wrong and evil, but on some level they still feel inexorably connected.
In fantasy novels it’s easy to get carried away with the magical powers characters have. How did you balance the use of supernatural powers in The Empty One?
Magic is incidental to the story, and this was always the intention. The characters were the focus of the narrative. To achieve this, there was an idea that I always kept in mind: Supernatural powers would just be commonplace for any supernatural being, just as locomotion might seem supernatural to a plant but is ordinary for humans. Therefore any character in the book with these types of abilities would not use them to show off and instead they would use them only when the need arose.
What is the next book that you’re working on? When can you fans expect it to come out?
I am working on two books right now: The sequel to The Empty One, which is currently titled The Reaper, and it is also written in the same style (as an epic poem). This second entry into The Fallen Conviction should be out by early 2017. The other work that I have going is a horror story, not written in verse, which is much less closer to being done, called Mind.
Connect with the author on GoodReads
Two superpowers – The Akalan Nation and the City States of Shaweh – are at war. The Akalan Nation is a brutal theocracy that believe the City States are evil for not following their beliefs, and both sides are decimated from the years of fighting. In a desperate move to try and win the war for his people and his faith, the king of the Akalans, Darius, enlists the power of a mysterious man with supernatural powers named Lialthas, who claims to be an angel sent to help the righteous win the war against the disbelievers. However, as Darius soon discovers, Lialthas is not who he says he is – and he has his own motives and aspirations to power.
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Sublime Adoption delivers the adoption story from three points of view; from the mother, adoptive parents, and child. From what point of view did you find the easiest to write and which was the hardest?
Adoptions can be for the most part sublime when the endeavor by all parties is a noble one, following legalities and heart dictates. All parties have something to give and some have a lot to lose. For a long time, I had been troubled by certain perceived notions of the good or bad roles each character played in real life’s adoptions. Thus, I tried to impart the right balance in my story by humanizing the process, recognizing the individual pains, and giving credit to those who deserved it – all the while equating the status of being adopted with that of feeling wanted; hence, it was an equally sensible act for me to passionately engage in each subplot – from one character to the next – despite their angst.
It seemed like you took your time in building the characters and the story to great emotional effect. How did you manage the pacing of the story while keeping readers engaged?
I did not plan the whole story at the outset, though I knew how far I wanted to go with it. On those premises, I let the story evolve as I wrote – something I always do. Although the adoption theme was to be the crux of the story, a passionate and illicit love intervened throughout the first chapters, giving way to lies and deception. Each wrong move by two of the characters brought about a new unforeseen scenario, resulting in a story within a story – adding complicacy and interest.
There was a constant theme of poetry being used to express emotions throughout the story. How do you think poetry bridges the emotional gap between fictional characters and the reader?
When I interject poetry within a story, I am trying to add emphasis to a prior segment. Either the narrative voice or the characters at play can surprise the reader in verse form with their condensed experiences, feelings or thoughts.
Do you have a poem you could share with us?
I am glad to share a love poem, extracted from my recently published book which includes love, motivational, inspirational, abstract and miscellaneous poems.
NIGHT OF NIGHTS
© Mirta Oliva
Night of nights…
As the moon gleefully shines above,
Falling stars spray silvery rays
And a derelict wind blows across my face.
I then feel the warm embrace
Of this radiant night
While I wait for my love to arrive.
Night of nights…
Could that be him coming from afar?
I feel his presence ever so near…
But why is the wind swirling around me,
The shimmering stars disappearing,
And the moon beginning to hide,
As I long for my love to be here?
I prefer to ponder in vain
Than to hear the truth once again
That my love may never return…
But my doubts have now disappeared…
A guiding star brings his vessel so near
With flashing lights beaming in my eyes
Sending me a message of love so dear…
Nigh of nights, my love has arrived!
As the title implies, this is a tale of love and mendacity, recurring acts that surround the unique sublime adoption theme. The story does not lead to a merciless condemnation of certain characters for mistakes or actions in their past; instead, it focuses on the cumulative ill effects of lies and deception as the only way to deal with difficult situations. In the end, repentance and forgiveness prevailed, providing a new insight into the complex spectrum of adoptions.