Friday Weekend Escape to the Wood, Marble and Bronze of Kerimäki and surrounds

by Marion Ueckermann

It’s good to be here…again…taking you all on another Finnish weekend escape. We’re not travelling far from where we stopped in Savonlinna last weekend, and although some twenty-three kilometers away, the town of Kerimäki was consolidated with Savonlinna two years ago.

But before we leave quaint Savonlinna, there’s somewhere I need to take you first—a park close to the center of town. My husband, Noel, and I had fun here creating our own “Where’s Wally” photos behind this huge bronze statue.

Savonlinna statues

Another interesting statue we found in Savonlinna was close to Olavinlinna Castle. Known as the “Spirit of the Castle,” this tall, full-figure metal statue is of Danish knight, Erick Axelsson Tott, clad in armor and gazing toward the castle he had founded—Olavinlinna. The statue was erected on the Tallisaari Island on the 500th anniversary of the castle.

Danish Knight

Another famous Savonlinna statue is “The Black Ram.” A black ram (or some other sheep) was kept in the castle. The ram was to be served on St. Olaf’s Day as a sacrificial feast, representing a bridge between old pagan traditions and Christian worship. The last ram of the castle died around 1728 by drowning in a river, marking the end of the tradition. This statue was presented to Savonlinna on its 325th anniversary.

The Black Ram

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make one last stop at another statue before we head on over to Kerimäki. We had travelled twenty-five kilometers south from Kerimäki. About thirty kilometers (as the crow flies) before the Russian border, we found this fascinating statue outside Punkaharju at Lusto—the Finnish Forest Museum—of an old lumberjack and horse moving enormous logs. Isn’t the detail exquisite?

 Kerimakki statues

In Kerimäki we stopped at a Finnish cemetery. Our friend wanted to visit her father’s grave. I’ve never been in such a beautiful and tranquil cemetery before. Uniformed headstones of even size and shape marked each grass-covered grave, while bright flowers brought color to the dark marble blocks. A forest of trees offered shade to the final resting place of the deceased.

Kerimakki cemetery

Not far from the cemetery, a tall, orangey-yellow and white wooden church reaches nearly thirty-seven meters into the sky. Built between 1844 and1847, the Kerimäki Church is the largest Christian wooden church in the world.

With over 1670 meters of pews, the church seats over 3,000 people and with standing room can hold up to 5,000 at any given time. A short distance from the church there’s a gift shop housed in the bottom of the tower (see right hand insert below).

Kerimakki church

With its pews, columns, galleries, tie-beams, arches, domes and lanterns, this beautiful church is certainly a masterpiece of carpentry.

Kerimakki church inside

Because the church can’t be heated, it’s only used in the summer for services, weddings, festivals and concerts. In 1953, a small church was built beside the huge church so that religious services could be held in the winter. But early on Christmas morning, parishioners gather in the old church and hundreds of candles fill the icy interior with a warm atmosphere.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Contained in the altarpiece, these words of Jesus are the motto of the Kerimäki church.

Kerimakki church inside chest

I loved the true story our friends told us when they took us to the Kerimäki Church of the year that black smoke was seen billowing out of the top tower. The fire brigade was called and the town’s people came to help put out the fire in this wooden church. When the firemen scoured the building they could find no sign of a fire, no smells of a fire, and yet the black smoke was a visible sign of one. Upon inspection up in the tower, they discovered the “black smoke” was actually swarms of mosquitos. In a blog on International Christian Fiction Writers, I wrote about the one thing I never expected in Finland…the infestation of mosquitos in the summer. Seems that year, even the Finns weren’t expecting it.

I trust you’ve enjoyed your visits to Finland, sans mosquitos. In two weeks’ time, I’ll take you on an escape to beautiful Budapest. Hopefully soon, you’ll get to experience a different Finland with me—the winter wonderland including Santa’s home in Lapland.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novelette, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Her Tycoon Hero featured on Foreign Affaire (plus giveaway)

Her Tycoon Hero is the featured book for November on the Foreign Affaire blog. We’re also giving away a print copy of Her Tycoon Hero (worldwide) at Foreign Affaire.

BOOK AND AUTHOR OF NOVEMBER: Her Tycoon Hero by Narelle Atkins

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/03/book-and-author-of-november-her-tycoon-hero-by-narelle-atkins/

Down Under in Sydney, Australia ~ Setting for Her Tycoon Hero

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/10/down-under-in-sydney-australia-setting-for-her-tycoon-hero/

Ryan Mitchell ~ Sun-loving Water Baby Tycoon Hero of HER TYCOON HERO

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/17/683/

Ryan Mitchell ~ A Few of Our Tycoon Hero’s Favorite Things

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/18/ryan-mitchell-a-few-of-our-tycoon-heros-favorite-things/

Cassie Beaumont ~ Her Tycoon Hero’s Recovered and Restored Heroine

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/19/cassie-beaumont-her-tycoon-heros-recovered-and-restored-heroine/

Cassie Beaumont ~ Heroine of Her Tycoon Hero ~ A Few of Her Favorite Things

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/21/cassie-beaumont-heroine-of-her-tycoon-hero-a-few-of-her-favorite-things/

Narelle Atkins ~ Up Close and Personal

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/24/narelle-atkins-up-close-and-personal/

Narelle Atkins ~ On Writing

http://foreignaffaire.com/2014/11/27/narelle-atkins-on-writing/

Heartsong Presents December New Releases

My fourth fiction book release with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line, Her Tycoon Hero, released last month in November. Today I’m posting information on all the new Heartsong Presents releases for December.

Four Heartsong Presents books are released each month under the Love Inspired brand: two contemporary inspirational romances and two historical inspirational romances. The Love Inspired range of books include contemporary romance (Love Inspired), historical romance (Love Inspired Historical) and romantic suspense (Love Inspired Suspense).

North American readers can purchase books from the Harlequin Reader Service. International readers outside the USA and Canada can purchase the print books online from Amazon and The Book Depository (free international shipping). If you’re looking for inspirational (Christian) romances to read, please check out the Heartsong Presents and Love Inspired books.

Arizona Lawman

THIS ISN’T WHAT DETECTIVE DAN ROBINSON PLANNED 

When he promised to watch over his late partner’s wife and daughters, Dan didn’t expect to fall for beautiful widow Jessica Michaels. She’s the one woman Dan shouldn’t pursue, but can’t resist. Though his growing feelings warn him to stay away, Jessica needs him now more than ever.

Jessica’s always thought of Dan simply as her husband’s friend. But as he spends time helping her with the girls, Jessica realizes her true feelings for Dan are much more than platonic. Torn between love and loyalty, can Jessica and Dan build a future together without betraying the past?

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

The Best Mans Holiday Romance

JEFF SHAW EXPECTS A BLUE CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR 

Reeling from a broken engagement, Jeff doesn’t feel like celebrating. Especially with his ex-fiancée’s younger sister, Natasha Brickson. But Natasha is determined to immerse Jeff in Christmas cheer, and to his surprise, her tender care begins to mend his heart. Unlike his ex, Natasha is warm, compassionate and lovely inside and out.

Natasha’s always stood in her sister’s shadow, so she doesn’t expect the man of her dreams to notice her. But when their friendship becomes something more, can Jeff convince Natasha that he was engaged to the wrong sister…and give her the Christmas gift of a lifetime?

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Christmas_on_the_prairie

ANSLEY POTTER JUST FOUND OUT SHE’S AN AUNT 

…of three endearing orphaned children. Only Seth Dobson isn’t planning to relinquish custody of his nephew and nieces. But Ansley didn’t come all the way to Prairie Chicken, Kansas, to give up without a fight. She’s determined to be part of the children’s lives, even with the handsome farmer opposing her at every turn.

As the children’s paternal uncle, Seth is happy to do his Christian duty. Just when he and the kids are finally becoming a family, here’s this Boston beauty who isn’t afraid to stand up to him…or to danger. Can two strangers who are constantly surprising each other create something special and lasting—together?

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Her Honorable Enemy

FOR CHARLES YOUNG, ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR 

The British soldier scorns the trappings of society life—including a society wife. So a posting in the remote San Juan Islands is perfect for him. But when an American girl crosses enemy lines, she turns his structured world upside down.

As smart as she is fetching, Rachel Thompson’s only experience with romance is the books she devours. But her father is determined that his spirited daughter make a suitable match. And a British officer could never be suitable. Can this real-life Romeo and Juliet triumph over the odds…or will their romance trigger the unthinkable—war?

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Friday Weekend Escape to Savonlinna and the Opera Festival, Finland

By Marion Ueckermann

I hope you’ve been as excited to see the sights of the quaint town of Savonlinna, located in the south-eastern Lakeland district of Finland, as I’ve been to show them to you. Narelle, thank you for hosting me again.

Savonlinna Finland

With the amount of water surrounding Savonlinna, it was no surprise that one of the first things to greet us were the boats. Some moored, waiting for a sunny weekend; some seemingly abandoned; show boats taking tourists sightseeing; and yachts banked up on the green verges of the lake.

Savonlinna boats

It was the single wooden ‘viking-type’ rowboat that really caught our attention and had us fascinated by its beauty and perfection.

Savonlinna Viking type canoe

 As we strolled through the town, we came across a quaint area of cobbled streets and vintage-style shops with colorful window boxes.

Savonlinna streets

It was here that we began to spot the black-suited musicians pressing forward, instruments in hand, clearly on a mission as they made their way toward Olavinlinna Castle. They were performing in the evening’s opera. How fortunate we were to be in Savonlinna at the time of the Savonlinna Opera Festival, and that summer of 2012, they celebrated their centenary. One hundred years of opera within this medieval castle.

The month-long festival is held annually during July and attracts a total audience of around 60,000 opera goers—2,500 at every performance—from all over the world (about a quarter hailing from outside Finland). The castle’s Great Court is covered with a giant marquee, and a stage and stands are set up inside this courtyard.

We looked on amused as patrons dressed in fancy clothes, ice-cream cones in their hands, ambled down the same route as the musicians to attend this major society event. We soon learned that it didn’t matter whether it was summer or winter, whether out to play, entertaining guests, or on the way to the opera, for the Finns, there’s always time for ice-cream.

Savonlinna Castle Bridge

We followed their path which stopped at the 15th century three-tower castle. This northernmost medieval stone fortress was fascinating, but unfortunately, we could only view it from a distance. At the bridge, we could go no further. Only opera ticket holders could cross the watery divide to the castle—some of those tickets selling for a whopping 250 Euro (of course, those were the best seats in the house). In its short season, the festival offers seven operas on one of the most unique opera stages in the world with unsurpassed atmosphere and magnificent acoustics. The 2012 operas were: La Fenice, The Flying Dutchman, Aida, The Magic Flute, Peter Grimes, Den fjerde nattevakt (The Fourth Watch of the Night), and Free Will (created collaboratively by a worldwide web community).

Some great links for photos of the operas and behind the scenes shots:

http://www.pinterest.com/savonlinnaopera/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Savonlinna-Opera-Festival-Oopperajuhlat/100486158860

Olavinlinna Castle was built by a Dane, then conquered by Sweden and Russia. It helped to protect the border against neighboring Russia.

The next time we took a drive into Savonlinna from the summer cottage, we decided to take a tour of the castle. It was a rainy day, and there was nothing much else to do. It was a good decision.

Ovalinlinna Castle

The castle was fascinating. Access via the footbridge; spiral staircases leading to the citadel towers; the King’s Hall used for receptions and banquets, and the hagioscope—a small chamber located in the wall of the southern side of the chapel for persons who were not allowed in the chapel itself. Faint fragments of al secco wall paintings are still to be seen against the stark white walls of this tiny chapel in the heart of the castle.

Castle passageways

Oh the history that echoed through those ancient stone passageways and thick-walled chambers. I particularly loved the one story the tour guide told of when the castle was under Russian rule. The Swedish army came to attack the castle but their siege failed. Their plan to scale the high walls with ladders might’ve been successful had they not arrived at the foot of the castle by boat and discovered they’d forgotten to pack the ladders.

The best part of visiting the castle had to be the backstage tour. It was incredibly interesting. I found this YouTube video which gives a little glimpse into this. For a good laugh, track the sub-titles with the audio J https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxWucTA52NM

Next week I’ll introduce you to some fascinating wood, marble and bronze structures of this area—the largest wooden church in the world situated in Kerimäki; a tranquil Finnish cemetery; and creatively crafted bronze statues.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novelette, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

ACRBA Blog Tour The Songs of Jesse Adams by Peter McKinnon

 16 – 20 November 2014

is introducing

 The Songs of Jesse Adams

Acorn Press

By

Peter McKinnon

 

About the Book

Set in the turmoil of social change and political unrest of Australia during the 1960s, The Songs of Jesse Adams traces the meteoric rise of a boy from the bush – a farmer’s son who breaks away to follow his heart, his dreams and his love of music. But, as Jesse travels with his band and the crowds gather, it becomes clear that something else is afoot. This rock singer captivates and transforms a host of fans who hear his songs and encounter his touch.

Lives are changed in unexpected ways and the enigmatic Jesse becomes a symbol of hope and freedom for those on society’s edge. But not all will celebrate the rising tide of influence of this charismatic figure whose words and actions challenge those in power – the media, the politicians, the church. In one tumultuous week this clash of ideals comes to a head – with profound consequences.

Awash in all the protest and collapse of conservative Australia, the colour and madness that was the sixties, The Songs of Jesse Adams is a tale of conflict, betrayal and tragedy, but ultimately the triumph of love.

*Warning this book contains some language that some readers may find offensive*

About the Author

For seventeen years, Peter McKinnon held senior roles in some of Australia’s largest corporations, with a focus on human behaviour and organisational effectiveness. This culminated in his appointment in 1999 as Executive General Manager, People & Culture, of Australia’s then largest financial organisation, National Australia Bank.

In late 2006, Peter was approached to head up the global human resources function of  World Vision International(WVI), based in Los Angeles. WVI is the world’s largest humanitarian aid organisation, with over 40,000 employees in 100 different countries and countless volunteers working in highly diverse and challenging settings.

When he returned to Australia in late 2009, he committed to pursuing his creative interests more directly and began to write. ‘The Songs of Jesse Adams’ is the result.

Peter has been published in publications as wide-ranging as the ‘Age’, ‘The Australian Women’s Weekly’ and ‘4 x 4‘ magazine and regards winning a Pacific cruise for his writing as his crowning achievement in this field ! He has also written and produced several musicals.

Peter is a qualified psychologist, has studied theology, worked briefly as a minister and served on the Council of the MCD University of Divinity.

He lives in Melbourne with his wife Julie. This is his first book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Narelle: The Songs of Jesse Adams is different to the books I usually read. It’s a fictional story with Christian content that’s written for a general market audience. The story touches on confronting social issues that will probably offend conservative Christian readers. It has edgy content that doesn’t just prick the so-called ‘Christian bubble’, but blows it apart with dynamite. The book contains strong language that isn’t usually found in the typical Christian fiction book. If you’re offended by reading bad language and blasphemy, this book probably isn’t for you.

I really liked the story premise. The Songs of Jesse Adams is an allegory of the gospel story, set in Australia in the late 1960’s. If Jesus had lived during this time in history, what would he be doing? Who would he be hanging around? More importantly, who would he offend with his message of love? We follow the character of Jesse Adams, a country boy who forms a band and becomes a well known singer. A charismatic man who draws a crowd and inspires people to follow him.

If you know the gospel story, you’ll follow the basic plot and discover which characters are inspired by specific Biblical characters. The story has a strong, authentic Australian flavour and includes many colloquial expressions that were common in the 1960’s. For example, nong (idiot), cocky (farmer), grog (liquor), yarns (stories), loos and dunnies (toilets), and chinwag (chat).

One reason this story is different to my usual choice of reading material is my personal preference for fiction written from a purist point of view. The Songs of Jesse Adams is written from multiple viewpoints, including omniscient (narrator) viewpoint, and there is head hopping within scenes and paragraphs. I can understand why the author has chosen to use multiple viewpoints. It stylistically fits the allegory and the original Biblical narrative story format. The reactions of the people who encounter Jesse are an important aspect of the story.

At times I found the first half of the story difficult to follow because we were introduced to a large cast of characters. I like to become absorbed in a character’s viewpoint, get to know them and become invested in their story journey. It’s harder to do this when we’re moving between a number of character’s heads in a short space of time. I did re-read a few sections to get a handle on what was happening and which characters were involved. Once I passed the half way mark, it became much easier to read and follow each of the main characters. I suspect I’m more sensitive to head hopping than the typical reader, and others may not even notice the viewpoint changes.

I recommend The Songs of Jesse Adams to readers who are looking for gritty, real-to-life fiction that isn’t sugar-coated and challenges their thinking on contemporary social issues.

I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher.

Book Cover Reveal: Winning Over the Heiress

Winning Over the Heiress cover

CAN SEAN MITCHELL BE REDEEMED?

His new boss, Julia Radcliffe, isn’t so sure. A year ago, Sean walked out on his brother’s wedding—and her. Now the bad boy with the surfer good looks is back and determined to make a new life with Julia. She wonders whether she can truly trust that he’s a changed man.

It took time and faith, but Sean is finally on the right path. And his feelings for Julia have only grown stronger. But when Sean’s past threatens to jeopardize their future, can he convince Julia they both want the same thing—a love that can overcome every mistake?

Narelle: I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for my fifth book and my second contemporary inspirational romance in my series set in Sydney, Australia.

Winning Over the Heiress will be released on February 3, 2014. It’s available for pre-order at the following stores:

Harlequin

Amazon

Christianbook.com

The Book Depository (free delivery worldwide)

Barnes and Noble

Parable Christian Stores

Cokesbury

Books-A-Million

IndieBound

iTunes

Mills and Boon Australia

Australian Christian Book Store:

Koorong

Friday Weekend Escape to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia

This weekend we’re returning to my beautiful hometown of Sydney, Australia. Last week we caught the Manly Ferry to the pretty seaside suburb of Manly, the setting for my new contemporary inspirational romance. Her Tycoon Hero is the first book in in my Sydney series. Today we’re visiting Taronga Zoo, the perfect location for a fun romantic date.

2013-04 April Sydney trip with Garth, ferry, Taronga Zoo 005

View of Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay

The ferry is a lovely way to travel from the city to Taronga Zoo, located on the waterfront in the northern Sydney suburb of Mosman.

2013-04 April Sydney trip with Garth, ferry, Taronga Zoo 016

Circular Quay

We travel past the Sydney Opera House as the ferry departs from Circular Quay.

2013-04 April Sydney trip with Garth, ferry, Taronga Zoo 025

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

It’s very relaxing to sit back on the ferry, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful scenery.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour and city skyline

The lower entrance to Taronga Zoo is opposite the wharf. The zoo is on the side of a hill and provides stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline.

Taronga Zoo entrance from the wharf

Taronga Zoo entrance from the wharf

I love wandering around the 28 hectare zoo and seeing the wide range of animals. The walking is great exercise, too. Or, you can jump on the miniature train and Sky Safari to avoid negotiating the steep terrain by foot.

2013-04 April Sydney trip with Garth, ferry, Taronga Zoo 040

Elephants

Giraffe

Giraffe

The African Safari section of the zoo is a definite favourite. I’ve always loved visiting the koalas and watching them play in the gum trees.

2013-04 April Sydney trip with Garth, ferry, Taronga Zoo 064

Koala Sanctuary

Koala

Koalas

I hope you’ve enjoyed touring Sydney Harbour and Taronga Zoo. Enjoy your weekend!

Her Tycoon Hero cover

Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances.

Set on proving to everyone that she’s no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad’s top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she’s worked hard to escape.

Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith—and Cassie—as his own.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com