Saturday, February 26, 2011

What are the book blogs blogging about???

In an effort to spread some link love and, frankly, introduce some people to my book blog, I decided to zoom around the blogosphere and check out what the book blogs are blogging about!

(How many times did I say book and/or blog in that sentence?) :)

So here we go:

--The Bronte Blog (which, by the way, is a wonderful one-stop shop for all things Bronte) lets us know that Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have been featured recently in a comic strip!

--Fleur Fisher is reviewing Lettice Delmer, by Susan Miles--which is, interestingly enough, an entire novel written in blank verse.

--Books and Movies completely intrigues me with the news that an unknown Enid Blyton manuscript has been unearthed! I was a huge Enid Blyton fan as a child.

--Besides hosting the Saturday Review of Books (which, unfortunately, I didn't make it into this week), Semicolon is reviewing Madeleine L'Engle's Certain Women. Which reminds me that I've never yet read anything by Madeleine L'Engle. I know, I know!

--Carpe Libris is reviewing Angel Sister, by Ann H. Gabhart. And this sentence really makes me want to read the book: "I read Angel Sister in a short amount of time because I didn't want to leave the story for even a few minutes."

-- Reading to Know is reviewing James Scott Bell's No Legal Grounds--another review that makes me want to read the book! She calls it a "good, fun legal thriller." Bell is another author who I've heard great things about, but never yet read.

--Kristen Billerbeck's A Billion Reasons Why is the focus at WordVessel. I've read several novels by Billerbeck, and loved them all.

--By the Book is participating in the Friday Book Blogger Hop, which I really should start taking part in! My poor little book blog just doesn't have very many readers! The blog hop is asking the question: "Do you ever wish you'd named your blog something different?"

--The Ink Slinger--one of my favorite reviewers--is doing something similar to what I'm doing right now. He's posting links to some interesting stuff around the blogosphere. Check it out!

Hope you'll head over to these excellent blogs, and tell them I sent you! :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Fun Meme: What Authors Do You Have in Your Library?

I ran across this one several years ago, via Ashley, and it's well worth playing again!

This is how this meme works: copy this list, delete the names of the authors you don't have on your home library shelves, and replace them with names of authors you do have. Bold the replacements. Then link to me.

Charlotte Bronte
Louisa May Alcott
Jane Austen
Emily Bronte
J. R. R. Tolkien
Charles Swindoll
Charles Dickens
John MacArthur
C.S. Lewis

Join the fun!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ginny Yttrup's Words--A Poignant, Moving Story

To be honest, I approached Ginny Yttrup's Words with some hesitancy. I knew from the cover information that the story involved the sexual abuse of a little girl, and I have a difficult time even reading about such tragedy, because I know it's all too common in real life.

But once I picked this book up and began reading it, I could hardly put it down. Yes, Words is a story touched with something that's unspeakably horrible, but it's ultimately a story of the triumph of love and grace.

It's the story of Sierra, an artist whose life had become paralyzed by the burden of guilt she's carrying over something that happened twelve years earlier.

And it's the story of Kaylee, a little girl whose circumstances, unfortunately, could have been lifted out of the pages of today's newspaper...a little girl held captive by a sick man who uses her for his twisted desires.

Kaylee's only refuge is the hollowed trunk of a redwood tree, where she flees when her abuser is at work...and the imaginary box of words she keeps in her mind. One of the only books in the dilapidated cabin in which she lives is a dictionary, and she uses it to learn words to add to her mental box.

The words help her escape from the tragic reality of her life of abuse, loneliness and hunger.

One day, when Sierra goes to a secluded area to give way to her personal grief, she catches a glimpse of Kaylee.

The resulting relationship brings love, healing and redemption...but the journey to that ending is one that is poignant and riveting. Words is, quite simply, one of the most moving books I've read in a long time.

Words is so beautifully written, it blows me away that this is the first book for author Ginny Yttrup. Yttrup herself was a victim of child sexual abuse, so she knows whereof she speaks. She writes on her website:
The opportunity to write is the fulfillment of a life-long dream. Words were my salvation as a child, until I met my true Savior, the Word. Through the tumultuous years of my childhood, I lost myself in the stories I read. There, in the world of fiction, I escaped the trauma I faced and found a place of safety and rest. Today, I enjoy the gift of combining my two loves--I write words that, I hope, reflect the glory of Jesus Christ.
(While Words doesn't sugarcoat the reality of abuse, neither does it go into sordid detail, so the reader is spared any especially disturbing scenes.)

Yttrup also doesn't minimize the part that faith in Jesus Christ can play in the triumph over guilt, shame and horrific tragedy. Neither does she pretend that healing is ever a done's clear that victims of such abuse will need ongoing counseling and therapy to deal with the ordeal they've endured.

I've already read seven books so far in 2011. Without a doubt, Words is the best one so far. I highly recommend it!

For more about author and speaker Ginny Yttrup, go to her website.

Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher.

I'm participating in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books--Click the icon for more info!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Save the Date, by Jenny B. Jones

...the perfect book to blog about on Valentine's Day!

If you're in the mood for some fun, lighthearted romance that also touches on some serious issues, then Jenny B. Jones' Save the Date is just the Valentine's month read for you.

I thought I'd seen some pretty inventive fictional devices to throw two people together, but this one is an original.

As puts it:

Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all--except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancee in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line--and maybe even her life. When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, "I do"?

Let's face it; we pretty much know what the outcome is going to be. But Jenny B. Jones deserves credit for her lively, humorous narrative ("laugh-out-loud" moments is not an exaggeration) and likable characters.

Oh, and for focusing on some serious issues-- like the lack of options for young women who get too old for the foster-care system (Lucy's not-for-profit, Saving Grace, is based on an actual organization of the same name.)

Also, kudos to Jones for infusing Lucy and Alex's faith very naturally and un-preachily into the story.

I did get a little weary of Lucy's tendency to cause disasters, and a subplot involving Latino drug dealers seemed a little superfluous. But these are minor criticisms.

When I read contemporary romantic fiction, I ask for characters I care about and a story that keeps me turning the pages. Save the Date definitely delivers, along with engaging writing and a fun sense of humor. It's truly an enjoyable read.

Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher.

Speaking of romance...

If you love romantic fiction, don't miss this post on Seekerville. In fact, don't miss Seekerville. It's an amazing blog for everyone who loves to read and write!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Lovely Little Valentine Book (and an e-harmony success story!)

Speaking straight to a woman's heart are stories about enduring love, surprising love, a second chance at love, long-distance love and

About a year ago, I interviewed LeAnn Weiss about her book, Valentine Promises, and originally posted about it on my other blog. Since it's that time of year again, and since I now have a blog about books, I'm re-posting it here!

Listen to an excerpt from my interview with LeAnn Weiss here

LeAnn Weiss is no stranger to writing the heartwarming and inspiring stories of other people. As the co-author of the bestselling "Hugs" series , LeAnn has even earned the moniker "The Hugs Lady."

But something happened to LeAnn just in time for her latest book, Valentine Promises: Heartfelt Reminders of True Love.

She fell in love.

LeAnn and her husband, who she calls the love of her life, are an e-harmony success story--even though LeAnn had pretty much given up on e-harmony and was taking a sabbatical from it, when a message from Rick slipped through.

Long story short: After waiting for 42 years for Mr. Right, LeAnn found him in Rick. So some of the love stories in this book chronicle her own falling-in-love experience.

LeAnn Weiss loves listening to people's stories, so she's the ideal person to compile them and share them in lovely little books that include her own beautiful love letters to God and paraphrased messages from God to us.

Sprinkled throughout the book are thoughtful sayings and quotations about love.

This books would make an ideal Valentine's gift for your loved one--or even for yourself.

Listen to an excerpt from my interview with LeAnn Weiss here

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mindy Starns Clark's Million Dollar Mysteries

I originally blogged about Mindy Starns Clark's Million Dollar Mysteries on my other blog, Notes in the Key of Life, on April 16, 2008. Even then, the books weren't new--but they're definitely deserving of a second look! Here's my original post:

Now, there is fiction, and there is fiction. There's the kind that keeps you up way past your bedtime because the pages are turning themselves automatically...and there's the kind that you plod through as if you were preparing for a test over it--not really giving two hoots about the story or the characters.

Believe me, the Million Dollar Mysteries are "way past your bedtime" books.

In the main character, private investigator Callie Webber, Mindy Starns Clark has created a very real person. I've always liked Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone mysteries because we as the reader know Kinsey so well--right down to the fact that she likes egg sandwiches and junk food, she runs every day, and she only owns one dress.

We get to know Callie that well. We know she's smart, pretty, courageous and cool-headed--but we also know that she's still hurting from the death of her husband, and she's terrified of getting too close to anyone, especially any man. (Except maybe her employer, the mysterious and wealthy Tom, to whom she's powerfully drawn.)

We know that she adores her little dog Sal and gets her exercise and tension relief from paddling her canoe on the scenic Chesapeake near her home.

Mindy's mysteries ring with authenticity, making it seem as if she herself has been a private eye for years. Callie's faith is a part of who she is, and Clark makes no attempt to hide that fact.

The writing is top-notch, with nuanced characterization, beautiful description, and atmospheric detail. And the device of keeping the elusive Tom just out of Callie's reach most of the time (at least in the two books I've read so far) is one that works well--making the reader want to know just what will happen with those two.

But as with any terrific fiction, it's the story that matters the most--and the stories were riveting in both of the books I've read so far: A Penny for Your Thoughts and Don't Take Any Wooden Nickles.

I'm now in the middle of A Dime a Dozen, and I'm also excited about reading Clark's stand alone novel, Whispers of the Bayou.

Note: Mindy Starns Clark's books are available on, and be sure to check out her website--she's written several more books since this review was originally posted. (Most recently, she's been writing stories set among the Amish.)

In fact, I've yet to finish the Million Dollar series. Oh well...more books for my growing to-read list!

I'm participating in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books! Click on the icon for more info...


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another fun book quiz!

My results are below. (Actually, it's not spot-on for me--I would call myself a dedicated reader, and yep, I'm pretty nerdy about it!)

Go here to take the quiz yourself!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

From the Archives: My interview with Randy Alcorn

“Messin’ with me’s like wearin’ cheese underwear down rat alley.”
-Police Detective Ollie Chandler, the main character in Deception

Originally posted on my other blog, Notes in the Key of Life, on 8/13/07

Several years ago, I read a very unusual book. It was Deadline, and the author was Randy Alcorn. The story wasn't so unusual, although it grabbed me immediately. What was unique about Deadline was that when a character died, his story didn't end there....he went to heaven, and I, as the reader, got to go there with him.

Randy Alcorn doesn't pretend to be able to describe heaven, but he believes we know some definite facts about it--and those facts don't include winged, haloed Christians sitting around on puffy clouds strumming the harp.

Not too long ago, I read a "spinoff" of Deadline, titled Dominion. Dominion--although it too has a compelling story--could never be classified as easy reading. The protagonist is a black man, and along with the story, the book includes a great deal of the history and background and baggage being a black man in America entails.

Reading Dominion was an incredible eye-opener for me. I thought I had a fairly good understanding of black people. Turns out I didn't, at all. I really had no inkling, but after reading Dominion, I believe I have a much greater understanding of the black experience in America.

...and that brings me to Deception

Randy departed a bit from his usual fiction-writing style in the writing of Deception, which is yet another spinoff of Deadline (Randy doesn't call them sequels or a series.) He wrote Deception from the first person--from the point of view of hardened, cynical police detective Ollie Chandler.

The story begins grippingly, as Ollie arrives on the scene of a murder that portends a lot of troubling questions for him personally.

From that point on, the story doesn't let you go. As a reviewer once said about a book, and I'm paraphrasing, "Don't plan on doing much else while you're reading this book."

It's to Randy Alcorn's credit that we ended up liking the character of Ollie Chandler very much. Randy admits he took pains to make the hardbitten, skeptical, world-weary cop a lovable character...and most of that had to do with giving him a terrific sense of humor.

I did labor to make Ollie likable...and part of that is his sense of humor. I think that's so important, because if you're going to spend an entire book inside of someone's head, so to's important that they have flaws, that's part of what makes the conflict that makes the story work...BUT, they've got to be, in some respects, likable.

Thanks to Randy spending many hours hanging out with, and picking the brains of, real-life police detectives, Deception has the unmistakable ring of authenticity.

Deception does have the occasional glimpses into heaven, and there are conversations among Ollie and his two Christian friends that delve into issues like atheism and apologetics. But unlike Deadline and Dominion, the book doesn't often depart from the main story--the mystery that's propelling the plot forward.

And the best news for people who love the character of Ollie? Randy Alcorn is probably not done with him. Randy told me,

"After each of my previous six novels, I have had no inclination whatsoever to repeat someone in the role of the viewpoint character. Now, in a couple of cases I've done a spinoff, where Dominion is a spinoff of Deadline. Jake Woods, the main character in Deadline appears in Dominion, but he's in a secondary role--the main character is Clarence Abernathy, who was in a minor role in Deadline. Ollie was in both of those. This was kind of Ollie's turn, and Clarence and Jake are in support roles to him...but when I fnished the book this time, for the first time I thought, 'You know, I'm not done with this character.'"

Eternal Perspectives Ministries

Randy Alcorn has written several books about heaven, and he heads Eternal Perspectives Ministries, which is aimed at teaching God's Word from an eternal viewpoint.

You can find out about all of Randy's books at that website, and you can also check out Randy Alcorn's blog.


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