Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Hidden

My initial reaction to The Hidden was disappointment. I was hoping for the sequel to Outriders (based on a bookseller mistake), and a horse farm out west sounded really . . . boring.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

The Hidden captured my attention from sentence one. It pulled me in with expert characterization, then added a knock-em-dead plot. Plus there was the intrigue - who was Jacob, really?

I admired the realistic way Kathryn Mackel painted Susan and Melissa as completely antagonistic to each other, yet I came to care about both. And felt the value of both their efforts to help Jacob. Rick's efforts were annoying at times, yet plausible as he tried to discover The Torch.

I did guess Jacob's identity fairly early, though I still had numerous questions. And I never made the connection to his abuse.

While the theology of this supernatural thriller seemed a bit far-fetched, it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the novel in the least. In fact, it made the book much less predictable. And in addition to all the "what if" questions the author must have posed during the creation of this novel, there were some other interesting ideas to ponder. Such as - what do you do when you mistake light for darkness?

In all, this was a very worthwhile read. Don't hesitate to purchase a copy - you'll be wanting to reread it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Writerly Poverty

First go read this post on Brenda Coulter's wonderful blog.

Sad, isn't it? But to be expected. Half the world thinks they could write a book. Very few actually pick up a book and read it, let alone plunk down good money for it. So, while there are many avid readers out there, they make up a small percentage of the population. And how many of these readers are also low-paid writers? Of course, that may be a trick to get reviews from talented writers who can't afford the books and have to settle for ARCs.

Most writers have second jobs, or a supportive spouse, or live at home with their parents (i.e. me; but I feel better since Dee Henderson also moved back home with her parents to write) to be able to afford what many consider a hobby. Writers do one type of work for money, and do what they really enjoy - writing - whenever they can. I've recently realized that writing work is also divided into two groups - writing you love, and writing you do to pay the bills.

I'm a fiction writer. I love creating characters and worlds and situations, brewing them all together for a satisfying adventure - of the heart and the mind. Unfortunately, fiction is the hardest type of work to get published. I know this from personal experience in the shorter (non-book) writing realm. I've been paid for articles, reviews, even poems, but never for a short story.

So I write articles and reviews. Though they don't stir my imagination like fiction, I still enjoy them. After all, they're writing. I'm being paid to write. That brings a joy few other kinds of work can. And while my fiction takes a bit of a back burner place, I don't consider it hobby writing. It's an investment in the future.

When I can say, "Yes, I have a second job to support myself while I write. I also write."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tomorrow's Theater Choices

No, I'm not going to say anything about a certain movie based on a certain book. I just really wish I was going to go see Over the Hedge tomorrow. If only because of the certain movie.

On another DreamWorks note, Shrek the Third releases exactly a year from today. And Shrek is playing on the TV directly behind me. We've watched it so many times I just have to listen, though I wander over to watch my favorite parts.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Storm by Jack Cavanaugh

Asa Rush is unfortunate enough to be a freshman at Yale - in 1798, when upperclassmen are free to torment new students at will. Worse yet, sophomore Eli Cooper seems to have singled him out for derision.

However, a bright ray appears in Asa's life when he is reacquainted with Annabelle Byrd, his sister's old friend. Annabelle is witty, intoxicating, everything Asa dreams. If only he could get his mouth to work properly around her.

Asa knows Yale College has forsaken its Godly roots for the popular theories that fueled the French Revolution. Yale's president, the dynamic Dr. Timothy Dwight, prays that God will bring a revival to the college and knows that students like Asa Rush can help light the spiritual darkness. He gives Asa a special commission - befriend a particular student with the aim of reaching him for Christ. The student's name? Eli Cooper.

In the midst of Asa's personal conflicts, a sinister undercurrent permeates the campus. A clandestine group labors to fan the flames of revolution and overturn a government still in its infancy.

Cavanaugh expertly combines two genres - historical and suspense - into a detailed, fast-paced novel. Then he adds well-drawn characters for readers to relate to and a deep theme to ponder after the book is finished. It's no wonder he's known as a master storyteller.

The previous books in The Great Awakenings series have the same excitement and depth. While a few threads tie the books together, each story is complete in itself and the novels can be read in any order.

For an insightful pageturner, pick up Jack Cavanaugh's Storm. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Keepin' On - Free

The May issue of Keepin' On magazine is up! And since subscriptions are free, there should be nothing to stop you from signing up to read my latest review - of Kutless' new album Hearts of the Innocent. That CD is now one of my top favorites. (In fact, I was listening to it last night. And probably listened 30 times in preparation for writing the review.) Browse around and read all the great articles on the site, including my archived reviews.

Then come back here and let me know what you thought of them, especially the Kutless review. It was a bit of a departure into unfamiliar territory, as I've mostly reviewed books. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated!

I've also begun work on my website. Not a blog, not a xanga, not even a myspace, but my very own website! Bought and paid for my own domain name and everything! Still a bit sad that someone else got, but I went with the next closest thing. I'm learning as I go, so it will be rather minimalistic for a while yet. No, I'm not giving you the link now, as it's still a work-in-progress. But it doesn't take a computer technician to figure it out if you really want to visit.