D is for Dee

Henderson, that is.

She’s BACK!

Coming this October, Full Disclosure!

Ok, I fell in love with Dee Henderson’s work a VERY long time ago.  I read one book and then another.  I bought them in hardback.  I devoured them several times over.  She has a way of writing that keeps you turning the page even when you really need to get up and make dinner.  She’s fabulous.

Even my husband read a few!  That was back before he remembered that he LIKES reading.  Snort.

So, when year after year passed and no books came, I was discouraged.  I hate to see a good author disappear.  I had heard theories on where she went.  Heck, I had a few of my own.  I didn’t know if I was right or not, but I wondered.  Turns out there’s a whole lot of truth in people’s theories and just as much wrong.  When I got a letter from her last week, I knew things were coming back around again.

So, I am waiting for October with huge impatience.  I want to pre-order the book so badly I can’t stand it, but I want to buy from our local bookstore too, so I’ll be patient.  I’ll wait.  But in the meantime, I think I’ll reread an O’Malley book every other week or so.

Now, if they’d only make them into movies too…

Book Review: An Absence So Great ** WIN A FREE COPY**

Title: An Absence So Great

Author: Jane Kirkpatrick

Publisher’s Synopsis: Did photography replace an absence in her life or expose the truth of her heart’s emptiness?

While growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those owners who have fallen ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing in her dream to one day operate her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep painful memories from seeping into her heart when the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

Oh, my word.  I’ve loved Jane Kirkpatrick’s books since I read All Together In One Place.  GREAT book.  This is another amazing story.  Jane Kirkpatrick has a beautiful ability to take a true story and fictionalize it.  She writes about real people with real problems and weaknesses.  It seems as though she’s drawn to independent women who make unusual choices in their lives, and An Absence So Great is no different.

The book begins with a photograph, a slight vignette about why that picture was taken, the story surrounding it, and it seems to set the tone for the next chapter/section.  The heroine, Jessie, is torn between wanting what is wrong to desire and knowing that her heart desires it anyway.  I love how each person in the book is shown with all their faults, strengths, weaknesses, and glory moments.  You pity Mrs. Baur, despise her, and see how similar she is to her husband… even though she sees herself so far above him.  Jessie is so strong and fiercely independent.  Her parents see her as rejecting their upbringing, but really, she makes decisions, almost every chapter, that show how committed she is to the same values.

Sin isn’t glorified in this book, but neither is it preached about.  It’s confronted, for what it is, and the reader is left to determine where it fits in the scheme of Scripture.  It takes talent to do that without leaving the reader with the impression that the author condones it.

On the negative scale, there were places the story truly stalled.  I had to go back and reread sections to understand where she was trying to take the story.  It certainly isn’t a story killer, but it was frustrating.

Do I recommend it?  Without question.  I love reading these fictionalized true stories by Ms. Kirkpatrick. I feel obligated to point out that things happen in this book that aren’t what we’d always like to see in Christian fiction.  Without giving away the plot, things that I believe are wrong and very damaging to families happen as a matter of course.  However, this is biographical fiction.  This is the actual story of Ms. Kirkpatrick’s grandmother and her life.  She can only write what happened in that case.  She can’t whitewash what happened to make it fit into the neat boxes that Christian fiction usually confines their heroes and heroines in.

I’d like to thank Water Brook for providing me with this copy to review.  You can win this copy by posting a comment.  Please tell me how old your favorite picture is!

And, as always, please be sure to read my Giveaways disclaimer if you haven’t read it in the past or as a refresher!

Map Contest Winners!

I have to say, it was fun to look at the maps, lay them all out, and then try to decide who actually won!  I mean, I had to choose three winners…

The irony came when I realized that all three winners were from the same family.

Katie Ann-  Won a copy of the Annals of Wynnewood: Shadows & Secrets!  The moment they arrive it’ll be signed and shipped to her.  Here is her winning map for the younger division.

Nathan (Katie Ann’s brother) won for the middle division!

And Jeremy (Katie Ann and Nathan’s brother) won the overall prize of $50.00 in Amazon Gift Certificates!

I’d like to thank everyone who participated and I look forward to hearing what you think of your books when you get them.  Now, let’s all pray the box arrives tomorrow, ok?

Book Review: North! Or Be Eaten

Title: North!  Or Be Eaten (Second book in the Wingfeather Saga)

Author: Andrew Peterson

Publisher’s Synopsis: Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.
In order to survive, the Igibys must flee to the safety of the Ice Prairies, where the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot follow. First, however, they have to escape the monsters of Glipwood Forest,1 the thieving Stranders of the East Bend,2 and the dreaded Fork Factory.3
But even more dangerous are the jealousies and bitterness that threaten to tear them apart, and Janner and his siblings must learn the hard way that the love of a family is more important than anything else.

1. All possessing very sharp teeth.
2. Murderous scoundrels, the lot.
3. Woe!

Oh this was another one of those books where they sent the second book before I’d ever heard of the first.  However, I went out to buy the first and prayed I’d enjoy it.  The first introduction (yes, there are two introductions labeled long and short) of the first book started off well, but I was quickly bogged down in the excessive use of phrases like, “Everything was wonderful in Aerwiar, well except for the toothy cows, the cave blats, and horned hounds that attacked at every turn.”  (not an actual quote from the book)  The first couple of times I read those caveats, I was amused.  However, until the story rolled along on its own accord, that got old very quickly.

The great news is that the story really does roll along beautifully.  Once I got past my initial distaste of what should be (and would be if there were fewer of them) a unique use of literary license in writing exceptions, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  The author’s footnotes, in particular, are hysterical.  They remind me much of the annotations that Roy Maynard used in his Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (annotated version of Edmund Spencer’s Faerie Queene).  The author truly has an amazing ability to write absolutely impossible to believe adventures while making you quite certain you’re living them.  So, having grown excited about the next book, I picked it up eagerly and began.

Oh my how the second book whirls you immediately into the story.  I mean, there’s nothing more terrifying in Aerwiar than toothy cows and you’re thrown at one in the first sentence!  The problem is, I really can’t tell you about the story.  I mean, I want to go on and on about the adventure, the romance (of the Anne Shirley variety… not mushy drippy bodice rippy stuff… just that feeling-that-you’re-lost-in-an-amazing-experience kind of romance), and the brilliance of  Mr. Peterson’s amazing “world” where Dang isn’t a euphemism for other words, but I can’t.  I’d ruin the experience.

I can say that this book has everything you could want in a fantasy story and nothing that you would dread in one labeled “Christian”.  Forgive me, but as much as I love Christian fiction (come on, I write the stuff!), it does tend to get a bit pietistic or worse, preachy (and yes, I am guilty of the latter for sure… but it’s part of my own personality.  Sue me).  I loved that this was fiction that reflected an author’s worldview rather than an author’s worldview was outlined step-by-step in the story.  That is good writing, and I truly loved it.

I want to tell you all about the adventures of the Igilby children.  I want to immerse you into a piece of the story so you’ll want to read it without simply taking my word for its worth, but I can’t.  I’d ruin it.  You really do need to start at the beginning of book 1.  Do keep reading, past the constant contrasty sentences that annoy to no end, because I promise, they stop.  Well, I don’ t know if they actually stop or not, but they become infrequent enough that they didn’t annoy enough for me to notice anymore.

So, if you haven’t read On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, go get it… and then get the sequel.  I simply can’t wait for the next book in what I understand is a TRILOGY!  YIPPEEEEEEEEEE

Book Review: The Night Watchman

Title:  The Night Watchman

Author:  Mark Mynheir

Publisher’s Blurb: Eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough, quick-witted Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game–until a barrage of bullets ended his career…and his partner’s life.

Now medically retired with a painful handicap, Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, Ray takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case–to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.

Ray reluctantly pulls the threads of this supposedly dead-end case only to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it threatens to turn the Orlando political landscape upside down and transform old friends into new enemies. As Ray chases down leads and interrogates suspects, someone is watching his every move, someone determined to keep him from ever finding out the truth–at any cost.

I included the publisher’s blurb in this one because I think it is actually a fairly accurate one.  Often they leave you wondering if you read the same book but this one is pretty much dead-on.  It’s not exactly how I would have written it, but that probably means we now know why I am not hired to write publisher’s blurbs don’t we?  😉

First of all, I’d like to confess that I don’t usually like books written in the first person.  Generally I find them annoying.  Even worse, they’re usually the worst written books I’ve seen so when I started reading and realized, oh joy, here’s another first person story, I was dismayed.

But not for long.  Within the first five pages I was interested.  I could still put it down and do other things at that point but by page thirty, I gave up.  I had to read.  Must. Not. Stop.  It was a fascinating book, full of the lovely technical details I adore, and with a realistic plot line.  The characters were amazingly well-developed and intriguing.  I can’t wait to read more by Mynheir and there’d better be a sequel.

If I have left you with any doubt as to why you should read this, I’ll add a little tidbit.  My husband Kevin doesn’t read.  It isn’t that he doesn’t like it but that he rarely makes the time because there’s little that interests him.  I handed him the book and nagged strongly encouraged him to read it.   In three evenings, it was done.  He’d come home, grab the book, and disappear into our room to read until forced out by dinner, eager children, or other such interruptions.  Get the book.  Read it.  You won’t be sorry.

And… because Multnomah is such a generous company…  I have a free copy to give away.  Sorry guys… I’m keeping mine.  I tried to be selfless but I just can’t do it.  Mine.

So, I’ll draw on Friday some time after 6 p.m. PST for the winner of a free copy and I’ll use the random number generator to be “Fair”.