Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Week in Links

Much of the awesome stuff I found in the blogosphere this week:

In the News
Already, Sasha and Malia Obama face the world of celebrity brought to them not of their choice. I have to admit I found this letter from the Bush girls touching and I cried a little! While not on the same scale, I can relate a tiny bit to some of the feelings having grown up with a pastor for a father. (HT: Without Wax)



Faith
Brant Hansen started a festival of judgement over at Letters from Kamp Krusty. And wow, what's scary is just how spot on some of the comments are! Anyway, if you need to laugh at just how ridiculous Christians judging Christians can sound, you should check it out and maybe even join in. In other news, Laura featured a great two part interview with What's Your Response? an organization fighting human trafficking at the local level at Inspired to Action.

Film
Author Kristin Billerbeck doesn't seem overly thrilled with the choices for this year's Academy Awards. Go check out her nominations and see if you agree with her or not. (for the record, while I do believe Hollywood is overly invested in political films, I don't agree with her!)

Strange Culture takes a look at Best Picture nominees adapted from books and gives us a wonderful list of more adaptations coming out...in case we want to read the books first!

Books
I read a non-fiction book a few years ago that was a collection of stories of the women of China. I forgot the name (I borrowed it from a friend) and have since wondered how to find it again. Lo and behold the magic of the book blogosphere..it popped up here in a review!

Harelquin is giving away 16 free ebooks! Check it out, there's something for everyone!

Jen pondered the definition of handsome during the 14th and 16th centuries (read the comments there's some interesting stuff there!)

Shelly shared another great author interview with Merrily Kutner. Shelly does a really fantastic job at the author interviews, unlike yours truly.

Tracy has another review of Beat the Reaper. Have you read this one? I still haven't decided whether or not I'll read it. Wendi gave a fantastic review of The Heretic's Daughter...I really want to read this one! Speaking of which, Trish reviewed The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffrey Deaver...I definitely want to read this one as well. Beth reviewed a graphic novel that looks interesting. Her enthusiasm for graphic novels is definitely inspiring me to give the desire to dedicate more time to them. Marta reviewed the Famiy Bones which I've been thinking of checking out myself.

Have a smoke stench in your books? Sometimes when you buy books secondhand this can be a problem. Check out these great tips for getting rid of it!

Wendy shared her list of 50 must read novels which, considering how few I've read, kind of stressed me out a little! Wendy also lost Caribou this week. My prayers are with her, you can read her beautiful tribute here.

John Updike's death will increase sales of his book and by the way, did you know a lot of indie booksellers blog? Check out the sidebars here and here and watch your google reader explode.


Other
Cute kid drawings here and here. Shaun Groves shares his judgemental theory about beautiful people. And a lover of literary theory celebrates the power of story.




Amy

Friday, January 30, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday: What Would You Recommend?




Welcome to Faith 'n Fiction Saturday! If this is your first time participating, please read this post. It will tell you everything you need to know!!

First, though, an announcement! Author Jamie Carie is giving away a 150 dollar gift certificate to edressme.com! Please visit her blog to find out how you can enter.

Today's Question:
You have a good friend who is a devoted Christian and voracious reader. He or she, however, tried to read a Christian fiction book in the past and found it to be too preachy and unrealistic. Your friend wants to try it again and has asked you for a recommendation. Their favorite genre of book is what is considered literary fiction. What book would you recommend to them?

You also have a friend who is not a Christian but wants to read fiction that is considered clean without being too Christian. They have asked you if there are Christian fiction books that might meet their reading needs. They are interested in romance and novels. What book would you recommend to them?

My Answer:
To the first friend I would recommend anything by Lisa Samson. While her books are clearly Christian, I think she tackles many obstacles and issues that are very real and aren't easily answered. Her style is very unique and she is actually one of the few Christian writers I would classify as literary fiction.

To the second friend, I would recommend Julie Lessman's Daughters of Boston series. While these books contain an overt Christian message, they are so completely romantic that I have a hard time thinking anyone wouldn't like them. I would also recommend some of the Love Inspired books. I find that the Christian message in these books is often much lighter and a bit more organic to the story.

Your Turn
Just write a post on your blog answering these questions and include a link back to this post. Then enter your permalink in the Mister Linky below!

About Stats and Readership...from Robin Maxwell

Robin Maxwell, author of the wonderful Signora da Vinci actually stopped by my blog last week and read the post Stats....Do You Care? She wrote me this email and gave me permission to post it here....she also talks a bit about using the internet and blogosphere for book promotion and that John Irving quote....


The first blog I ever wrote landed on the political page of the Huffington Post. It was called "Hillary Boleyn," and it compared you-know-who and you-know-who. I was taken completely unawares. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. The comments started coming in fast and furious, as the HuffPo was then a Hillary hating blog. The comments were mostly venomous, but once I got the hang of it, I didn't care. I stayed at my computer most of the day and read them as they came in - 106 in all. It was wild. And yes, you DO care about who reads your blogs and that you get lots of comments. The next one I did was called "MoveOn and keep on movin' right outta my life". It was my objection to MoveOn.com foisting their views about the Democratic candidate on their members. That one got, I think, 170 comments (2-to-1 in agreement with me). But one blog for them that ended up on the "entertainment page" - "The Swiftboating of Anne Boleyn," only got a handful of responses, and I was disappointed. Anybody who writes for anyone other than her or himself DOES care about what readers think. They're kidding themselves if they think otherwise.


As for John Irving's comments about only other novelists having the right to critique another novel is very interesting. I've always been very suspect of professional book critics, worried that many of them might be frustrated writers. These days it's getting so difficult to get reviews from newspapers (who are themselves going down the tubes... bigtime). Less and less space is given over to book reviews. National magazines are also ridiculously hard to get reviews in, and in radio it's rare to hear fiction reviewed -- it's mostly non-fiction ( political or health-related). After six novels, all brilliantly reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal and Booklist, for Signora da Vinci, I got one review out of all of them (and my publicist had to beg for it). Nobody can explain this trend, but everybody in publishing is tearing out their hair.

So for reviews on Signora, (without knowing this was John Iriving's opinion) I went to other historians and historical novelists that I respect for my blurbs. C.W. Gortner (The Last Queen), Michelle Moran (Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen), Vicki Leon (The Uppity Women in History series of books, and an in-process novel) and Sandra Worth (The King's daughter), and I was delighted and honored by their praise, knowing that they really knew what they were talking about. Knew how difficult it is to write these kinds of books.

This is my seventh novel, and it's the first time I've promoted one almost exclusively on the web -- in blogs and in online arts magazines, like the brand new TheRumpus.net (if you want to read my recent interview, here's the link:
http://therumpus.net/2009/01/the-shorty-qa-robin-maxwell/ . It is the future of publishing, whether we authors are ready to make the change-over or not. I, myself, came kicking and screaming into the blogosphere, but I'm liking it more and more, and I realize that people who read literary blogs are among the most devoted book readers in the world. So getting lots of attention from lots of blogs -- like what is happening with Signora da Vinci -- you can't beat it with a stick.




Amy

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Review: Christian Writers' Market Guide '09 by Sally Stuart


I'm not 100% sure of how to write a review for this kind of book, but here goes!

If you are at all interested in writing for the Christian market, you NEED this book! And don't think it's only about Christian fiction! There are so many different kinds of opportunities represented here that if it exists, it's in this book!

Also, it will help you learn about submission policies etc. So basically, I got lost just reading everything in the book. All the information you need is there, easy to find. There's also a CD-Rom that I think makes the searching easier, but I haven't tried it out yet.

Now I'm going to give you the information straight from the publisher, rather than plagiarize!

From the Publisher:
Completely updated and revised to feature the latest on…

* more than 1,200 markets for the written word
* 416 book publishers (32 new)
* 654 periodicals (52 new)
* 96 literary agents
* 100 new listings in Resources for Writers
* 226 poetry markets
* 316 photography markets
* 25 African-American markets
* and 166 contests (29 new)

So there you have it! You can buy it on Amazon.



Amy

CFBA: Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gatekeepers
(Dreamhouse Kings #3)

Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)

by

Robert Liparulo



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

And his third book Deadfall. debuted to rave reviews!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Bob Liparulo wants to give away a signed 3 book set of the DreamHouse Kings books! Send an email to Bob [at] Liparulo [dot] com and put "CFBA" in the subject line. He will pick a winner next week!!!!

In the third novel of this young adult series, the mystery deepens in a house that is more than meets the eye.

The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they've experienced enough terror to last a lifetime. And the mystery is growing even more baffling. Shadowy and shifting, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams-and the slightest misstep can change history forever.

At least, that's if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. "There's a reason you're in the house," he tells them. "As gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future."

The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren't enough, the Kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side-like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.

It's hard to believe that things could have gotten worse for the King family-but they have. Dad's in handcuffs, the school bully has just found the secret portal that leads from the high school to the house, and Xander is sure he's found Mom, but they can't get back to her. Then Jesse arrives, and he seems to be a virtual Obi Wan of knowledge about the place. But is he the key they need to unlock the secrets, or just a crazy old man?

Dangers are increasing from within and without when Xander makes a startling discovery that explains why they haven't found any rooms that lead to the future. Alongside the threats, though, they're also starting to find some surprising allies.
All they have to do is get organized, get psyched, and get Mom. But that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother-and discover how truly high the stakes have become.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gatekeepers
(Dreamhouse Kings #3)
, go HERE

What they're saying:

Review
"If you like creepy and mysterious, this is the house for you! Every room opens a door to magic, true horror, and amazing surprises. I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?" --R.L. Stine (Goosebumps)

Review
"A powerhouse storyteller delivers his most fantastic ride yet!"
-Ted Dekker, bestselling author of Kiss, Chosen and Infidel

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

LOST Discussion: "Jughead"


So, um, okay. First things first...Penny and Desmond had a baby boy named Charlie! Very cool if he's named after our beloved Charlie, very strange if he's named after Penny's father. In any case, what an adorable and happy thing to have happen!

In fact, we had two love stories going on in this episode and I just loved every Desmond and Penny moment there was! Daniel and Charlotte seem a little strange together to me.

We spent a lot of time on the island with the British soldiers, one of whom was a young Charles Widmore. Just how old is Charles Widmore, by the way? I thought that was a nice little moment when he claimed a bit of ownership of the island ("Do you think he knows this island better than I do?" Does anyone really know the island?? Yet, they all seem to want it) In any case, Charles Widmore is an Other. The Others speak Latin, by the way.

Furthermore, we learn that Daniel Faraday has done some questionable things, like experiment on the mind of Theresa Spencer and then abandon her. Charles Widmore funded all of Daniel's research and continues to take care of Theresa.

Okay, I admit that I read a few forums before writing this and it seems the general idea is that Ellie (somber faced blond on the island) is Mrs. Hawking who is Faraday's mother. (we all think) Which leads me to wonder...is Widmore Faraday's father? Is such a thing possible? And I'm really confused about the role time travel is playing. It seems that indeed their travels through time are having an impact on the course of things. For example, Locke telling Richard to go see him? Faraday telling Ellie what to do with the bomb?

I'm also really interested in how Ben and Widmore end up enemies. It seems Widmore was on the island long before Ben (who showed up during the Dharma Initiative days)

So I'm not sure that this episode actually answered any burning questions. It filled in some holes, it placed Charles Widmore on the island in the past, but I still feel like I have no idea what is going on!

Other points:
*Charlotte is quite sick from the time travel. While I'm somewhat concerned for her, I don't feel like her character has been developed enough for me to really care.
*I'm rooting for a Sawyer/Juliet hook-up officially now
*Miles makes me laugh
*I really hope Penny doesn't die!!

Overall, I think this episode is a 4/5. The media really hyped it up and I'm not sure it really lived up to that hype. Share your thoughts below, and find out what everyone else thought at the LOST Books Challenge Blog.




Amy

Review: The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall


About the Book: Faith Westcott is a lady by day and a pirate by night. Can she garner the riches she so desperately needs before her secret is revealed? Captain Dajon Waite is determined to catch the fiery redhead who has been pillaging the Carolina coast. When Faith invites his courtship, she hopes his infatuation will shield her true identity and keep other suitors at bay. Can the love of a godly captain win her heart, or will she be forced to marry Sir Wilhelm Carteret, a man obsessed with taking her to wife?

My Review: Christian lit bloggers have long been buzzing about Mary Lu Tyndall's books, so I was looking forward to this one! And I have to say it's a very fun romantic adventure!
Faith is an extremely likable character...she's a female pirate after all! She's bold and independent and smart. So when you have such a great heroine you need you need an equally likable hero and Dajon was just that. The romantic tension in this book is well done..enough to get your heart pounding without being explicit. :) There's a fair bit of humor and I enjoyed the interactions between the sisters. This is a Christian fiction novel...both Dajon and Faith are on independent journeys to God and this is described in detail, however I found the various viewpoints of the characters to be authentic which is always refreshing. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series...M.L Tyndall is a name to watch in Christian historical romance! You can check out the book on Amazon.

Rating: 3.75/5



Amy

Review: The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams

My Review: Rachelle gets a letter from a dying friend and suddenly realizes she is not content with her life. In an effort to change, she leaves her husband and goes to visit some relatives...and runs into an old flame.

This is a book of healing and self-discovery. At just 240 pages, it's a pretty quick read. The prose is a bit simple and straightforward and the plot is somewhat predictable, however, I still enjoyed reading about Rachelle's journey. I also appreciated that the book did not look the quickest easiest answer and that all the characters were very flawed. It also inspired me to think about some things to put on my own Someday List!
Rating: 3/5
Elements: Very much Christian Fiction!!!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Someday List

Revell (January 1, 2009)


The Someday List Blog Tour Giveaway
Tell Us One Item on Your Someday List. Leave your answer in the comment section. Participants will be entered into a drawing for The Someday List Blog Giveaway. View the prize package below:

* $50 American Express Gift Card

*Autographed Copies of all of Stacy’s books: Speak to My Heart, Nothing But the Right Thing, and Watercolored Pearls, and the anthologies The Midnight Clear and This Far By Faith.

*20% Discount Coupon from Tywebbin Creations. (May apply to one service)

Join Us for an Hour Long Chat with Stacy on January 30, 2009. We will announce the GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the THE SOMEDAY LIST BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY during the call.

Phone #: 1-518-825-1400 / Access Code: 15642 / Time: 8:00 pm EST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Stacy Hawkins Adams is a nationally-published, award-winning author and speaker. Her contemporary women’s fiction novels are filled with social themes and spiritual quests that take readers on journeys into their own souls.

She holds a degree in journalism and served as a newspaper reporter for more than a decade before turning her full attention to penning books, speaking professionally and writing freelance articles.

She is currently writing her sixth novel and her first nonfiction book, an inspirational title that will encourage women in their faith.

Stacy lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two young children.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Revell (January 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800732669
ISBN-13: 978-0800732660

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

Rachelle fumbled with the bouquet of yellow roses and locked eyes with him. Her flowers sagged from thirst.

The simple gold band she clutched stuck to her sweaty palm.

Instead of a flowing white gown, she wore the black pencil skirt and short-sleeved white silk blouse that, until today, had served as her choral ensemble uniform.

Her groom was dressed in his standard singing attire too—white collared shirt, black tie, and black slacks. He had removed the diamond earring from his left earlobe, his goatee was freshly cut, and as far as she was concerned, he had never looked finer.

Between the two of them, the worldly goods they possessed amounted to less than what Rev. Prescott likely paid to have his preaching robe cleaned.

And yet, she knew this was right. The right time, the right place, and the right man, even if she had to marry him in secret.

One day they would look back on this elopement with tenderness and pride, telling their children about their union in an empty church sanctuary, not far from the university they would graduate from in six months.

He smiled at her and arched an eyebrow, questioning the delay in her response.

The minister repeated himself.

“Rachelle Marie Mitchell, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

She smiled. Her beloved didn’t have to worry about her having second thoughts—not when she felt this way.

“I do, Reverend Prescott,” she said. “I do.”









1



Rachelle Mitchell Covington felt both giddy and guilty.

In twenty-four hours she would be completely alone and she couldn’t wait.

No worries about temporary empty-nest syndrome—she was happy to let her parents deal with two preadolescent know-it-alls for half of the summer. And no need to feign an interest in her husband’s wants, work, or even his world.

For the first time in their eleven-year marriage, she and Gabe would be away from each other for more than a week.

When he informed her that he had agreed to speak at a medical conference the week before he left for a medical mission trip, she knew he expected her to complain. Rachelle had frowned for his benefit, but also bit her lip to keep from cheering.

Though it was already steamy outside this morning, the temperature inside Houston’s Intercontinental Airport left her longing for her cashmere coat. Rachelle shivered and smiled when Tate and Taryn, looking like they had stepped off the pages of a Children’s Wear Digest catalog, turned to wave one last time before passing through the security gate and approaching a waiting airline employee.

The young woman in the crisp navy and white uniform would escort them to their direct flight to Philadelphia.

The fifth and third graders had been trying to whine their way out of their annual summer visit with Rachelle’s parents for two days, because they would miss their friends, feared boredom, and believed Gram would have way too many rules. Rachelle had reminded them again this morning that, despite those perceived hardships, they had no problem enjoying the regular outings, video games, and other treats they enjoyed during their stay.

When Tate and Taryn disappeared around a bend that led to Terminal A, Gabe turned toward Rachelle and motioned with his head that he was ready to go. He and Rachelle walked briskly toward the parking deck without touching or talking.

Gabe walked a stride or two ahead of her, as if he were on a mission. He tempered his gait as they neared his SUV, and he unlocked the doors with his key chain device.

“I’m not going into the office this morning since I’ll be flying out early tomorrow,” he said without looking toward Rachelle.

“Let’s grab breakfast at Olivette.”

Rachelle scrambled for an excuse, but none presented itself.

She hadn’t mentioned that she soon would be leaving too, for a weekend trip to the West Coast. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know. He wasn’t going to be home anyway.

“That’s fine,” she finally said about breakfast, although he had already steered his Mercedes in the direction of the hotel restaurant.

They rode in silence during the half-hour drive and didn’t speak until the waitress asked for their order.

Rachelle sighed and responded by rote. “He’ll have smoked salmon and a bagel with a side of fresh fruit.”

Gabe nodded and looked up at the waitress. “She got it right.”

“Salmon and bagel with a side of fruit,” the waitress repeated, lodging the order in her memory.

Rachelle leveled her eyes at Gabe. “Order for me.”

He peered at her over the rim of his glasses. “How would I know what to order for you?”

Rachelle didn’t feel like playing along with his public politeness today. She sat back and folded her arms.

“Try.”

The waitress shifted from one foot to the other and turned her gaze to a nearby bank of potted plants.

Gabe’s nostrils flared and he clenched his teeth. “Just order something already.”

“If you can’t do it, I guess I’m not hungry,” Rachelle said.

Gabe opened the leather-encased menu and glared at the offerings.

Seconds later, he pushed it into the waitress’s face. Startled, she grabbed it before it landed on the Oriental rug beneath the table.

“Bring her an omelet with ham, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese.”

The waitress nodded and left quickly, her reddish-brown ponytail swaying with each step. Rachelle knew the young lady had to be wondering how a couple could fight over a breakfast order.

If she had asked, Rachelle would have assured her this skirmish was overdue.

Since she had received Jillian’s unsettling invitation three weeks ago, Rachelle’s tolerance for just about everything had plummeted.

With the kids away for the next month, she didn’t have to contain herself. Gabe should be thankful he was leaving for a business trip tomorrow.

He laid his linen napkin across his lap and stared at her.

Rachelle challenged him with her eyes. She wanted him to care enough to question her, to probe why she was being defiant.

But just as she knew what to order for his meal, she knew he wouldn’t take the bait. He was his usual, detached self—enveloped in skin that was a smooth, savory brown and as self-absorbed as a two-year-old whose favorite words were “no” and “mine.”

In that moment, something welled up inside of her. She looked past Gabe’s glasses, past the perfect white teeth, past the pool of nothingness in his eyes. She wanted to see into his soul. She wanted to know that he had an “I would die for you” kind of love inside of him. For her.

Even if they had been together for what seemed like forever. Even if she didn’t know how she really felt about him. If one of them could summon the emotion, maybe that would make all the difference.

He was leaving tomorrow for New York and would return home for one day before traveling to Uganda. In twenty-four hours, she’d have the entire house to herself. But right now, she realized, she needed to leave to save herself.

Right now, what mattered more than being a good wife was being good to herself. Hearing from Jillian for the first time in a long time was nudging her to stop procrastinating.

Rachelle took a sip of her coffee and rose from her seat. “Stay and enjoy your breakfast. Call a taxi when you’re done. I may or may not be at home by then.”

“What—”

Before he could protest, Rachelle raised her hand to stop him.

Her voice trembled when she addressed him in a whisper.

“Gabe, I’m tired of playing like the happy couple. Our life is strangling me. I want a real marriage and this isn’t it . . . And by the way, I’ve always hated cheddar cheese.”

She grabbed her purse from the back of her chair and strode toward the door, heart pounding as if it would burst through her sleeveless tangerine top.

Had she really done that? Did she just walk away from her well-to-do, handsome husband and leave him stranded in a restaurant?

What would her parents say? Their friends? For the first time that she could recall, those questions wouldn’t determine her actions.

Rachelle slowed her pace when she reached the restaurant’s entrance and nodded farewell to the hostess. She strode through the lobby of the Houstonian Hotel and thanked the bellhop who held open the door for her. While the valet retrieved Gabe’s Mercedes truck, she stood at his booth, tapping her foot and looking over her shoulder.

In the minutes since she had left the table, Gabe hadn’t pursued her. Despite the fact that she had fueled this drama, she was hurt.

She breathed in the humid summer air and exhaled slowly, trying to keep her composure.

For once, she wished she were sweaty enough to mask the moisture on her face. The last thing she wanted to admit was that once again, she had allowed him to make her cry.





©Stacy Hawkins Adams, The Someday List: A Novel, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2009. Used by permission

Waiting on Wednesday: Supermarket by Satoshi Azuchi

(Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we feature books we are eagerly waiting for!)


Lately, I've found myself wanting to go back and immerse myself in the world of Asia. (specifically Japan) So when I found out that this book would be released in the States next week (not much of a wait!) I decided to feature it here.

About the Book: A modern classic of literature in Japan, Supermarket is a novel of the human drama surrounding the management of a supermarket chain at a time when the phenomenon of the supermarket, imported postwar from the US, was just taking hold in Japan. When Kojima, an elite banker resigns his job to help a cousin manage Ishiei, a supermarket in one of Japan’s provincial cities, a host of problems ensue. Store employees are stealing products, the books are in disaray, and the workers seem stuck in old ways of thinking. As Kojima begins to give all his time over to the relentless task of reforming the store’s management, a chance encounter with a woman from his childhood causes him to ask the age-old question: is the all encompassing pursuit of business success really worth it? Sincere and naive in tone, Supermarket takes us back to a simpler, kinder time, and skillfully presents the depictions of its characters alongside a wealth of information concerning Japanese post WWII recovery and industrialization.

Supermarket releases February 3rd from Thomas Dunne books.















Amy

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Special Recognition from Writer to Reader!!!


I am so honored to say that my blog has won special recognition from the blog Writer to Reader!

This is a really awesome blog that is sort of a collective place to find out what's going on in Christian publishing. Many thanks to whoever nominated me and voted for me...those were some pretty amazing author blogs I was up against! :)

Thanks Peg!



Amy

The Reader was Nominated for Best Picture


As you know, I saw and enjoyed The Reader and I read and completely loved the book. I was happy to see that it got nominated for Best Picture in this year's Academy Awards. I hope that this will help many more people discover the book. I know that many people feel it was nominated instead of The Dark Knight and were disappointed by this. I have to say, though, I rewatched The Dark Knight the other day and as much I do really like that film, The Reader is just in a completely different league. Of course, it's now impossible for me to separate the book from the film and I feel the book is outstanding. I have no commentary on the nominees, because I haven't seen any of them.

Anyway, in honor of the nomination of The Reader and in light of my most recent Sunday Salon post, I wanted to share this quote from the book with you:

Because she knew nothing about the authors, she assumed they were contemporaries, unless something indicated this was obviously impossible. I was astonished at how much older literature can be read as if it were actually contemporary; to anyone ignorant of history, it would be easy to see ways of life in earlier times simply as ways of life in foreign countries.




Amy

Monday, January 26, 2009

News! Awards! All the Good Stuff!!

First off, do you read lit blogs? (hint: if you're reading this, you read at least one!) Do they impact your book buying decisions? If so, please head over to the fabulous Literary License and take this survey to tell the world! :)

Secondly, I get a slew of press releases and information people want me to pass on to you in my inbox. I don't actually have the opportunity to post about them very often, but I thought that some of you might be interested in this one as I know quite a few of you enjoy Masterpiece! PBS Engage is featuring Masterpiece's award winning executive producer, Rebecca Eaton, as part of an ongoing series called 5 Good Questions. If you have questions for Ms. Eaton, please visit this post and leave a comment with your question! This is a new to me blog, but it looks pretty fantastic.

Next, the wonderful S.Krishna tagged me for this award. You have to earn the award by answering a bunch of questions, so here goes:

7 Things I Did Before:(the wording on this really confuses me...does it mean 7 Things I've done? 7 things I used to do?)
1) Taught English in Japan
2) Got abandoned at the Mongolian airport
3) Lost money in Las Vegas
4) Volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club
5) Stood in the longest line of my life to see Darlton at Comic Con
6) Dressed up as a maiko
7) Worked as a telemarkter

7 Things I Do Now:
1) Read
2) Blog
3) Watch some TV--I didn't really start watching TV until I lived in Japan...go figure.
4) Work with adults in improving their reading skills
5) Contemplate my future
6) Sponsor children through Compassion International
7) Go to church

7 Things I Want to Do:
1) Go back to Japan for a visit or maybe even for a longer period of time
2) Visit Australia and all of my wonderful friends there
3) Speak another language fluently
4) Write a book
5) Study more history
6) Make a positive contribution towards literacy
7) Surrender more fully to God's will

7 Things That Attract Me to the Opposite Sex:
1) Love for God
2) Intelligence
2) Depth
4) Humor
5) Compassion
6) Down to earth
7) Integrity

7 Favorite Foods
1) Potatoes
2) Suki Yaki
3) Yaki Niku
4) Teppanyaki
5) Lasagna
6) Shabu Shabu
7) Stuffing

7 Things I Say Most Often
1) Cool
2) For sure
3) Yeah
4) Have a wonderful day
5) Yay
6) What?
7) I agree.

Okay, seven is too high a number for these things!

And finally, the delightful Sheri of A Novel Menagerie gave me this award!

This award was created by Joanne of Book Zombie for the blogs you can't wait to see updated. Look, I have at least 20 blogs in my favorites folder, so in attempt to keep some mystery here, I'm only going to share 4 of them with you!

The Book Lady's Blog -- Rebecca is such a great writer! She always has something interesting to say as well.

S.Krishna's Books -- she loves chick lit, other good books, and LOST. Seriously cool girl!

Caribou's Mom -- I just love Wendy. I think she's wonderful and she has great taste in books.

She is Too Fond of Books -- Dawn's blog has such great warmth and she shares about so many different books. I think she's tops.

That's it!
Amy

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Sunday Salon -- The Book Nerd Who Loved Assigned Reading

I feel like I had an excellent reading week. I read and finished Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell which I loved, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, which I loved, and I'm almost finished with Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home by Kim Sunee, which I am loving. It really doesn't get better than genuinely looking forward to whatever you're reading.

Back in December, author Mitali Perkins posted about assigned reading, and how adults need to step back from forcing their reading choices on (especially) teens. I told her (on Twitter) that while I understood her point, I had loved most of the books that were assigned to me in school and that I might not have read them otherwise. She seemed surprised. Earlier this month, the popular meme Musing Mondays asked a similar question. While I don't participate in this meme, I was surprised to read many bloggers state that they did not really enjoy assigned reading.

The books that were assigned to me to read, starting in the seventh grade and on up, are so deeply a part of me that I can't imagine life any other way. I don't what it is about that age...when all your senses seem heightened and your emotions feel like life or death, but to open a book and find the exploration of morality, of life and love in the pages helps you know you're not alone.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have always been a bit of a book nerd. In high school, I was in the literature club. (I mean isn't that enough said?) We actually chose books and poems to read and discuss after school, and we put together a few literature magazines of student stories and poems.

I know I owe a lot of this to my mom, who read to my brother and sister and I when I was young...we are all still avid readers. When we were little, my sister and I would play library, when I was in elementary school I would pretend to be my favorite characters from books, and when I was in seventh grade I got my first assigned reading book. Up to that point, we had read stories out of a text book, but this time we got assigned to smaller book clubs and actual shiny new books in our hands. What book did I get? The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Oh how I loved this book! It's possible I became obsessed with it. I watched the movie. I bought every other book she had written at that point and read them. (for the record, my favorite was That was Then, This is Now)Then I watched all the movies based on those books.

It only got worse with reading The Diary of Anne Frank, Flowers for Algernon, and Night in eighth. I remember reading with horror the circumstances in the concentration camps and the loss of human dignity. Flowers for Algernon broke my heart. And The Diary of Anne Frank was just that...someone's diary.

In high school, I took the International Baccalaureate course for English and enjoyed reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time, falling in love with the tragedy of it all, and the language so foreign to my way of life and yet so true. I read Lord of the Flies and had vivid nightmares that shook me to my core, A Separate Peace which unsettled me, "The Cold Equations" a story I have never ever been able to forget, Jane Eyre, a favorite to this day.

In my upperclassmen years, I read Death in Venice, many Poe stories, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (I was surprised by how much I liked it) and The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, A Raisin in the Sun. Sometimes, lines from these plays and stories will come back to me at the oddest of times. And of course, my favorite poetry to this day, T.S. Eliot's The Four Quartets.

My hunger wasn't satisfied by what was read in class. During this time period in my life, I sought out many of the classics and read them for myself.

Maybe it was my young age. Maybe it was the way discussing a written work can bring it to life in new ways, stamp it a little more firmly into your memory. I don't know, but I do know this...I'm glad I read everything that was assigned to me. I'm thankful that the opportunity existed for me to read such great works and to learn what they meant, even if it wouldn't have been my first choice. I'm thankful for the way those books helped shape me, helped me know I wasn't as alone as I thought, opened up new ways of thinking, new worlds in their pages.

There is so much talk these days about the change in reading. We seem desperate to keep kids reading and willing to do what it takes. I have a few theories on the decline of reading, but I'm not sure that easing up on assigned reading is going to be the answer. Sometimes, yes, we need to be told that reading this is good for you. In the same way that children may not want to eat their vegetables, we don't then say, okay! Eat french fries only, because I'm worried if you don't you won't eat at all. No instead we have them eat the healthy stuff because they must, because it nourishes their bodies and makes them strong. And they eat the french fries because they like them. I think we must expose our children to enduring literature. I think that it will feed their minds and make them strong. Will they love it all? Probably not, but they will be able to think critically about it, and participate more fully in the shared human experience these texts offer. Does that mean there's no room for popular fiction? Absolutely not! There is room for both.



Amy

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This Week in Links

In the News
Just in case you missed it, Barack Obama became president this week! I found this opinion piece to be an excellent reminder that we must judge him fairly by the job he does in order for this to be the significant presidency we think it is. And one of the best pro-life videos I've ever seen emerged...watch it...even if you are adamantly pro-choice you have to admit it's good. (HT: Semicolon) Meanwhile, it looks like Hollywood is about to become the most loving generous place on the planet! (for the record, I find this video creepy at the end)

In Television
LOST is back and if broadcast television is to survive, it will have to be like LOST! The LOST Books Challenge blog is up and running and promises to be an awesome place to talk about some of the more important aspects of the show. Meanwhile, Brant wants to save you the time of watching 24 by providing his own recaps.

In Books
Trish does love to stir up a good conversation and this time she raises the question of whether or not book bloggers need to disclose where they got a copy of the book. For the record, about 90% of the books reviewed on this blog were received for review. I generally don't point that out, but I'll write a post on it later to clarify.

S.Krishna, whose sheer ability to read massive amounts of books always amazes me, reviewed two books this week that I feel I absolutely must have now!!! Be sure to check out her review for Conscience Point (I'm finding Unbridled Books to be among the best out there) and Midori by Midnight. Marta reviewed Houston, We Have a Problema which she found to be really good, which is a relief since it's on my TBR pile! Wendi reviewed The Valentine Edition by Robin Shope which she described as both a fun and light read. But also it looks like a book with a positive message! Shelly shared an interview with Tony Peters, who wrote Kids on a Case: The Ten Grand Kidnapping, which sheds some light into various aspects of being an author. Julie, the beloved Booking Mama reviewed the much hyped book Beat the Reaper. She says she doesn't get squeamish when reading, but the scene at the end shocked even her....so I'm still not sure what to think of this book! Melissa reviewed another book on my TBR pile, The Centurion's Wife, which she loved so much she couldn't find anything bad to say about it! Kathy at Bermuda Onion reviewed American Savior, another book on my TBR pile! She highlighted a quote that made her think and I also think you might enjoy reading the comments. (I did!) Beth reviewed Rebel, a book I've never heard of but it does look good. It's the first in the series, which Beth thought showed, but still a good read.

Finally, author Jennifer Weiner wrote about the discrepancy between reviews for memoirs by males and females that share about their messed up lives. An excellent piece and I'm so glad she finds these things and brings them to our attention. Subtle discrimination in thought can truly shape who we are as a people.

That's it for this week. A big huge shout-out to Florinda...I stole her style of doing a linky round-up because she does such a fabulous job!



Amy

Friday, January 23, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday: What's on Your Keeper Shelf?


Welcome to Faith 'n Fiction Saturday! If this is your first time participating--welcome! Please read this post. It will tell you everything you need to know.

One thing we share in common is a love of books. I know there are participants of Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays that read over 200 books a year!
But while we may read a lot of books, only a few books in our lifetimes are special enough that we would never part with them, always recommend them, and maybe even reread them.

So...what fiction books with faith elements are on your keeper shelf? Please keep your answers to no more than 5 books!

My Answer:
I'm going to cheat (ha, I made the rules and then cheat) and count series books as one book! Here are my answers:
The Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers--Does anyone not love these books?
Daughters of Boston Series by Julie Lessman--anyone surprised?
Silence by Shusaku Endo--Very grim book but really thought provoking
The Josey series by Susan May Warren--the ultimate in comfort reading for me!
Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson -- this was the kind of book that took me outside of my self-centeredness and made me believe change was possible.

Your Turn:
Please remember to link back to this post in your answer and enter your permalink below!

Stats...Do You Care?

A couple of weeks ago, Brody Harper confessed that he is indeed a stat whore. Then he justified it by saying that his job revolves around knowing what works on blogs to get an audience. In order to feed his kids, he needs to know how to get those stats.

I've been thinking about that post, because I think that most bloggers, to some extent, are stat whores.

I'll be honest and tell you I care about my stats. I actually spend a lot of time on this blog and it's like a nice little pat on the back to know people are visiting. The number I care about most is my subscriber number...I see my subscribers as the readership...the base. But I also enjoy seeing how many unique visitors I get and most of all, I love comments.

I could justify this all by saying that I am actively trying to promote things near and dear to my heart...a culture of literacy, social justice, and other artistic endeavors. And that's true. But really isn't there an ego issue with all bloggers? Obviously, we think we have something to say that someone somewhere might want to read.

I was thinking about this even more when Karen Harrington of Scobberlotch posted this little q&a with John Irving. To sum it up, John Irving basically said that only people who have written a novel can even begin to be qualified to critique a novel (this is actually a conversation for another day). In short, I understood him to say he didn't really care about reviews other than reviews from other novelists. So I said...I understand his point, but who is he writing for? Karen answered that writers write for themselves. To which I replied, well who is he publishing for?

After all, bloggers will often say they write for themselves. And while this is true on the most basic level, I think if we're honest, we can confess that we hope that people are reading our blogs. If we were only writing for ourselves, than we wouldn't send our thoughts, hopes, and fears out into cyberspace and hope that when we check again, there's a comment. :) So yes, we are writing for ourselves, but we have an audience in mind. And we tweak thing on our blog, because we want more people to read what we're writing.

If you're a blogger that claims to not care at all about your stats, then I'd love to hear from you. Why do you blog? Why not just journal?

If you're a blogger that does care about stats...well this is a safe place. I won't judge you. :)



Amy

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Book Spotlight: The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke


About the Book: Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.

Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

Visit the book on Amazon.

I haven't had a chance to read this book yet, but you can check out some reviews here and here.

Review and Giveaway: Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell

About the Book: Caterina was fifteen years old in 1452 when she bore an illegitimate child in the tiny village of Vinci. His name was Leonardo, and he was destined to change the world forever.

Caterina suffered much cruelty as an unmarried mother and had no recourse when her boy was taken away from her. But no one knew the secrets of her own childhood, nor could ever have imagined the dangerous and heretical scheme she would devise to protect and watch over her remarkable son. This is her story.

My Review: The author states in the back of the book that there are two facts known about Leonardo da Vinci's mother. So a great deal of this book is artistic license and creativity..and she does a great job.

I was absolutely enthralled by this book. I loved Caterina, and I feel that the way she was written could have been the way she really was. It seems that Leonardo da Vinci must have had some influence like her in order to become the man he did. I was fascinated by each part of her life and her dedication to her son and the freedom of thought and information. She was strong willed and determined, a lover of knowledge and willing to take many risks for love.

Minor spoiler alert: Caterina ends up dressing as a man and thus attains a great deal of freedom in her society. This was interesting to me, and even without the motivation she had, I can see how this would be tempting for any woman! The complications this created in her life were interesting...for example what happens when a heterosexual man thinks he has fallen in love with another man? Additionally, this book deals heavily with the persecution the catholic church perpetrated towards those who were interested in philosophy and ancient religions. End of spoiler


This book is a true page turner and it will transport you back in time to Florence. Once again, this is primarily a work of fiction, but it's an interesting one.

Rating: 4/5
Elements: S
Read about my rating system here.

The publisher has generously given me three copies of this book to giveaway. To enter, please leave a comment with a valid email address and tell me what historical figure you'd like to read a novelization about. For two extra entries, blog about this contest with a link back to this post (be sure to come leave me a comment telling me blogged about it!). Open internationally. I'll draw three winners on January 31st. Can't wait? Buy the book here.



Amy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LOST: Because You Left and The Lie

(Note: If you haven't watched these episodes of LOST yet, read no further! This post does contain spoilers!)



First of all, wow! I did my best to stay spoiler free for this premiere, because I think LOST is better sans spoilers. To understand what I mean, just think about Hurley's recap to his mother of what really happened after the crash. It sounds way too out there to be believable. :)

So I was completely unprepared for the idea that the island didn't just move, but kept moving. But it made for some very important revelations (Alpert telling Locke he'll need to die, Desmond being "miraculously special") and great drama!

Let's talk!
(I'm having a hard time knowing where to start)
The Island: Raise a hand if you love Faraday. I sometimes feel like the only one, but I find his character tremendously interesting. He does get on my nerves at times (like wasting time explaining why explaining about the island would be a waste of time--well met with a slap from Sawyer) but he seems to know the answers to what's happening on the island in a less than sinister way as Ben, Mrs. Hawking (!!!), and that chick in the butcher shop???!!??? Speaking of which, I absolutely loved the way BYL started off, as we headed back into the Dharma Initiative days with some time spent with Dr. Marvin Candle or whatever his name is. Who's the baby in the Candle household? And why is Faraday on the scene at the Orchid?
I also like the dynamic between Sawyer and Juliet. No worries, I'm not shipping yet, but have I ever mentioned Kate drives me crazy? Miles was good for some laughs, but after recently rewatching season 4 I'm up for learning more about him and exactly what his role is in this whole thing. And I'm not feeling good things for Charlotte. Does she have a constant on the island? (oh and I was also really happy to see an alive Rose and Bernard)

Speaking of Kate, she seems to be really good with Aaron. I found the way she had everything ready to go rather laughable, but I am curious about these lawyers who showed up at her door. And lucky for Kate, just a few minutes after she hightails it out of there, Sun calls! Sun seems quick to assess that the lawyers are not interested in exposure, but in taking Aaron away. I would think perhaps blackmail first, but whatever. I have to say I'm not loving the new Sun. Her objective seems to be killing Ben, purely driven by revenge, so I'm interested in seeing how she'll react to the whole going back to the island bit. She also seems to be using Kate to dig up information on Jack...does she also want to kill Jack? While we were led to believe she blamed Jack for Jin's death, (one of two people, the other being her father) she now seems to want to kill Ben. What does this all mean?

Hurley makes me laugh. As does his mother. Driving around with Sayid like that was very funny. At least Sayid got in one good fight before they knocked him out! Speaking of Sayid, what transpired with Ben that he no longer trusts Ben at all? (and please tell me it's more than that German chick) It was strangely kind of good to see Ana Lucia again. While she was not my favorite character (and no one mentioned her on my little discussion question the other day about which dead character you liked best!) it's always nice to see old familiar faces...especially when they're imparting good advice.

I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of these episodes, but I am very much looking forward to next Wednesday. I can't wait to hear what all of you thought...leave your thoughts/theories below please! And don't forget to sign up for the LOST Books Challenge by January 30th for a chance to win the third season on DVD.

(OH MY GOSH!! Just watched the preview again and saw something that.....made me very happy!!!!)




Amy

Waiting on Wednesday: The Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we all share what books we're eagerly looking forward to.

This week, I chose The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson, which is getting considerable promotion from the publisher. This book interests me because I read the memoir A Friend Like Henry last year and loved it. But more than that, I've been to Mongolia and would love to read more about someone's experiences there.

Here's the info:
When his son Rowan was diagnosed with autism, Rupert Isaacson was devastated, afraid he might never be able to communicate with his child. But when Isaacson, a lifelong horseman, rode their neighbor's horse with Rowan, Rowan improved immeasurably. He was struck with a crazy idea: why not take Rowan to Mongolia, the one place in the world where horses and shamanic healing intersected?

THE HORSE BOY is the dramatic and heartwarming story of that impossible adventure. In Mongolia, the family found undreamed of landscapes and people, unbearable setbacks, and advances beyond their wildest dreams. This is a deeply moving, truly one-of-a-kind story--of a family willing to go to the ends of the earth to help their son, and of a boy learning to connect with the world for the first time.



Amy

Guest Post: Reading Research by Donna Alward (+ Giveaway!)

It’s the start of the brand new year, and like many, I take stock of how much I read last year and how much I want to read this year. My goal last year was 52 books, one for each week. Considering my writing deadlines, and then the fact that we ended up moving nearly 4000 km, I was really pleased that I managed 56. The moving – packing, selling the house, buying the new house, renovating….well, it was stressful and time intensive.

This year, unless something really wonky happens, there will not be any moves. (I have told my husband I am not moving again until retirement. Considering I don’t plan to retire until I’m too old to write, you get the idea.) So I’m hoping that total will be closer to 100. I do participate in the e-harlequin reader challenge, so it’s also for a good cause.

The great thing is, while I read lots of books for “Just Because” reasons, I also read for work. I read craft books – for example, last year I read Save the Cat and I adored it. I have a couple more in my tbr including Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey.

But more than that I have a whole shelf of books for research.

I’m researching World War II at the moment and from a Canadian perspective. My non fiction books include Halifax at War, Juno Beach and Hell and High Water. I’ve already read a few to get my juices flowing though not Canadian – mainly Dick Winters’s story Beyond Band of Brothers and also Brothers In Battle, Best of Friends by Babe Heffron and Bill Guarnere. Band of Brothers changed my life quite literally and while it is focused on Easy Company, there is a universality to the brotherhood that can be translated into any company of men under such circumstances. My girls and I are reading The Diary of Anne Frank next. I have never read it and so we are going to read it together – as soon as we finish Little Women – probably this week.

But I also have other books that are fiction that I’m looking at delving into for inspiration. So much of writing means being able to put myself into that world, to relate to my characters. So immersing myself in the era, touching those feelings with my own, is the objective so that when I write MY characters, I can draw upon those feelings.

In my tbr is Suite Francaise, The Kommandant’s Girl, Rachel’s Secret and Such Sweet Sorrow (the last 2 my Christmas prezzie from my Critique partner).

All in all I have lots of reading, but I’m really looking forward to getting into it!

My current release is The Rancher’s Runaway Princess from Harlequin Romance. I’ll confess, my research for this one didn’t come from a book but from a spur of the moment camping trip that turned out to be very memorable. I’ll do a random draw from the comments to win a copy! Meanwhile you can find out what’s new with me at my website, www.donnaalward.com.

This Puzzle Made Me Feel a Bit LOST

I spent my growing up years in Iowa and Missouri where Christmases were cold (sometimes with snow!). As a result, we had a tradition to work on a jigsaw puzzle each holiday. We would leave it out on the table and work on it throughout the holiday weeks. This year, since no extra family members were making the trek to California for the holidays, I suggested to my mom that we do a puzzle. And I had just the one in mind! A few months ago, I found a LOST puzzle in the discount bin at Barnes and Noble and promptly bought it.

Now, where I live? No room to do a puzzle. There are pretty much books everywhere. But there is some room at my parents house. So while my mother was less than enthusiastic, my dad agreed to work on it with me.

Here's the box of the puzzle, you know, the cover where you normally get hints about what the puzzle is supposed to look like:



So, um, yeah. That was just a tiny fragment of the puzzle. And the pieces were really small and sometimes didn't even look like they went together at all! But it was really addicting! I ended up having a hard time tearing myself away. The thing is, this puzzle says that it's one of four. I want to do the others now, except I have no idea when I'll be able to convince another person to do a puzzle with me!

I was glad to do it, though, because I had forgotten how much I enjoy putting together puzzles. So in that way, it was fun. And here's the evidence of the finished thing!


Do you like to work on puzzles? Have you done any of the LOST puzzles?

Happy LOST season 5 premiere day everyone! Winner of yesterday's little giveaway is: Michelle! Michelle please email me your mailing address and I'll get your surprise in the mail. It might make you laugh. ;)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LOST Discussion Question

(To celebrate the return of LOST, I'm having a little LOST week here on the blog. If you leave a comment with an answer to today's question, I'll enter you in a drawing for a fun small surprise. It's LOST related and it's book related and that's all I'll say!)


Sadly, no one lives forever, and on a show like LOST that's especially true. (luckily, on a show like LOST they might show up in zombie form at some point) Who is your favorite character that has been killed off on LOST? (who would you see resurrected if you could?) My answer is Mr. Eko.

If you don't watch LOST, you can answer this question...why not??











Amy

Stand in Groom by Kaye Dacus


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stand-In Groom

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)

by

Kaye Dacus



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.

She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.




ABOUT THE BOOK

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE

What they're saying about it:

“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”
Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”
M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”
Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder

Monday, January 19, 2009

Get LOST in a Good Book!


One of the things I love about LOST is that it incorporates a history of literary love into the story. Books are in plentiful supply. Some characters have author names. Literary allusions are made in the titles of episodes. On top of that, and this is really important, there are no stereotypes as to who the bookish people are. In the character of Sawyer, we have a gorgeous conman who is a voracious reader. The beautiful doctor Juliet hosts a book club. The ringleader of the Others Ben has bookshelves full. And the books range from classics to Stephen King novels.

LOST intentionally promotes reading and books as being positive. Truthfully? That's incredibly rare in our society. Most of the time, people who love to read are portrayed as either being socially awkward know-it-alls or too brilliant to associate with commonfolk. It's just one more reason that I love LOST...it's delightful in and of itself and it tips its hat to the great stories of the past.

So for that reason, and because so many interesting books were on the list, I hosted the LOST books challenge last year. The challenge officially ends this Wednesday. I know one person finished it and another who at least worked on it, but I think most people gave up. I still like the idea of the LOST books challenge and so I'm going to try again. Here are the changes:

1) Round two of the LOST books challenge will launch this Wednesday January 21st and continue until the series finale in 2010. Participants can join at any time.

2) Once again, participants will be asked to choose at least five books off the list of books alluded to or mentioned on the show to complete by the time the series concludes in 2010. If participants did not complete the first challenge, they can use those same books again. Books can be crossed with any other challenge you like.

3) The LOST books challenge will have its own blog. Participants can cross post their reviews directly onto the blog. But to add to the fun, participants can post about anything related to LOST (except for spoilers)...recaps of the episodes, theories, etc. It will be sort of a fun place for book blogging Losties.

4) I promise to try to keep it fresh and interesting with mini-challenges and contests.

Please visit the dedicated challenge blog to sign-up and learn more.

I'm hoping for big participation. So...in honor of LOST coming back this week (yay!) and to drum up enthusiasm, anyone who signs up for the LOST books challenge by January 30th and posts about it on their blog will be eligible for a drawing to win season 3 of LOST on DVD.