Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ann Tatlock - Winning Sites

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been working on reviews, and still need to give them priority. But here's a quick Winning Sites contest. No book giveaways this time, but it's something to hold you over until the Robin Lee Hatcher contest early next month.

Ann Tatlock is a gifted writer whose varied novels showcase her deep characters and poignant description. Gina Holmes recently interviewed Ann over at Novel Journey, and since I'm reviewing Ann's latest novel, now seems like the perfect time to brag about her talented writing.

This contest is simple. Which of Ann Tatlock's five novels is your favorite, and why? If you haven't read the books, read the descriptions below (and browse the links for more info) and tell which novel's premise intrigues you the most, and why? Post your answer in a comment, and you'll be enter in a drawing to have an approved site of your choice listed under "Winning Sites" on this blog.

A Room of My Own

The daughter of a prominent doctor, loyal and imaginative Virginia Eide lived in an idyllic world a world of youthful notions of romance and hours spent daydreaming with her best friend. But Virginia's dreams are forever altered when the Depression sweeps in with crippling unemployment, strikes, and riots. Virginia soon follows her father into a whole new world a world of shanties built along the banks of the river, where out-of-work men and their families struggle to survive. It is here, working as her father's medical aid, that Virginia learns the real lessons of life. The down-and-out people of "Soo City" rise above their circumstances, displaying an uncommon spirit of generosity and love that brings Virginia's wealthy family a much-needed gift of hope.

A Place Called Morning

Mae Demaray's life in an old clapboard house on a quiet Minneapolis street had been rich with the hues of security and love, beauty and faith. It carried the scent of flowers, the sound of quiet at daybreak, the laughter of children, the touch of God all giving her the satisfying sense of living life to its fullness. But that was before the March day when Mae's world was shaken at its very center.

The ordinary days leading up to that unforgettable moment were but a quiet prelude to the mad song that followed. Unforeseen and shattering events invaded her well-ordered life and silenced her joy. Unable to make sense of her torn-apart world, Mae retreated from life as she had once known it.

How quickly life had changed. How quickly the colorful became colorless, dressed in shades of black and white, no longer reflecting the light. Yet surely a new day would soon break, with light rising gently, giving hope for restoration. Surely there must be- A Place Called Morning.

All the Way Home

Played out against the backdrop of two critical eras of American history, this beautifully written story imparts powerful lessons of forgiveness and reconciliation that will linger long after the last page is turned.

Augie Schuler is desperate for love, the kind "normal" families provide. And when she meets Sunny Yamagata and her family, Augie knows she’s found what she’s looking for in spite of cultural differences. Together, the two girls pursue the fanciful dreams of youth—and a sometimes humorous search for God—beneath the bright California sun.

When the dark days of World War II and the Japanese internment camps tear them apart, they vow never to forget each other. Reunited years later, the two find themselves offering healing and hope as they triumph over the pain of their years apart.

I'll Watch the Moon

"This is my mother's story. This is Josef's story. This is my story. There is no way to unravel the threads. All strands become one.

"I will tell all to the best of my ability. I will recreate the story from my own memory, from what my mother told me, and from the notes that she kept of what Josef told her. But you must accept that, while I can lay out the events, I can't always give the reason why certain things happened. I only know that they did, as painful as they were, and sometimes, blessedly, as marvelous as they were. But that's the whole point really. Always there remain those questions that no one can answer. But what I cannot yet understand in this our story, I leave to God, who understands all."

Thus begins this gracefully woven novel, the story of Nova Tierney who desperately longs for a father. It also is the story of her mother, Catherine, angry at a God in whom she no longer believes, and Josef Karski, an Auschwitz survivor whose trusting spirit refuses to be subdued, even by his heart-wrenching past.

Nova's tender reminiscence, charming and authentic, breathes life, love, and warmth into a St. Paul, Minnesota boardinghouse where forgiveness is in short supply.

Things We Once Held Dear

Like an artist working with small chips of colored glass, Christy Award–winning novelist Tatlock takes multiple characters and fragments of their stories and pieces them together into a tranquil mosaic of commitment, faith, love and homecoming.

When artist Neil Sadler's wife dies suddenly in New York City, he is drawn back to Mason, Ohio, the hometown that he fled almost three decades before. He spends the summer helping remodel an old "Gothic Horror" farmhouse into a bed-and-breakfast, trying to reconnect with his past and his cousin Mary Beeken. After a childhood spent caring for an invalid mother, Mary is trapped in a 23-year-old marriage to a troubled, alcoholic cop and feels her life has never quite gotten started. Mary's mother's murder years earlier and questions of innocence and guilt cast shadows on the lives of several Mason families. As Neil and Mary try to make sense of what has happened to their lives, they both discover that "you don't have to understand something completely to know it's true."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Keepin' On and More of Jack

My first review for Keepin' On, on John Eldredge's wonderful little book Epic, has been published! It's a subscription-only magazine, so you won't be able to read the entire review until you subscribe, but here's a brief sample to whet your appetite:

Using examples from classic stories and movies, Eldredge portrays what we often view as Sunday school lessons as the greatest adventure tale of all time. And you have an important role in this Story. Not only can you be rescued, you can join the underground network fighting evil - the Rebel Alliance, the Old Narnians, the little band of hobbits and elves.


I'll have a review in every issue, so be sure to subscribe. And I'm keeping my radar up for excellent books, CDs, and movies that encourage us to persevere, so if you know of a good one, be sure to let me know so I can check it out.

Gina has part two of her interview with Jack Cavanaugh up, and Jack has also posted an entry on flash fiction over at Charis Connection.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Jack Cavanaugh and Updates

Gina Holmes over at Novel Journey has posted the first part of her interview with Jack Cavanaugh. Jack's one of my favorite authors, and the interview offers some great insights into his writing process. He also blogs every once in a while at Charis Connection.

I've decided to set Evergreen Secrets aside for a while. The constant rehashing of the editing process wears down my creativity levels, so I'll look at doing yet another edit (and possible lengthing) sometime in the future.

I'm currently at work on reviews and my new work-in-progress, a fantasy novel. I'm taking Forward Motion's two-year-novel (2yn) writing class, so I won't get to start the actual writing until July. I've started a blog about it to keep all my ideas in one place (if you'd like to visit, email me for the link).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Family Forever

Brenda Coulter's wonderful novel A Family Forever arrived in my mailbox exactly a month ago. I devoured it in one sitting, then it made the rounds through four of my sisters and my mom, all of whom loved it. It is now one of my favorite romance novels of all time.

You may think I'm a little prejudiced, since I'm a regular visitor to Brenda's always witty blog. And I may be. But my family loved it, and now they're begging me to let their friends borrow my already well-worn copy.

As for me, several months ago I read an excerpt from A Family Forever online. And I knew I had to read the book when it came out.

From the back cover:

A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS

When her fiance was killed just three weeks before their wedding, violinist Shelby Franklin's "happily ever after" dreams were shattered. The discovery of her unplanned pregnancy guaranteed those dreams would never be rebuilt.

A KNIGHT IN A BIKE HELMET

Tall, husky cyclist Tucker Sharpe promised his dying brother he'd look after Shelby. When he learned there was a baby on the way, a marriage of convenience seemed his only option. But would love for the unborn child be enough to bring them - and keep them - together?

Most short inspirational romances bore me. I'd pretty much given up on Steeple Hill books. Then they publish a novel so wonderful I wonder how their other books can measure up.

If you've avoided Christian romance in the past, this is one of the best books to change your opinion. Go on, read the first chapter. I dare ya.

If you read mass-market inspirational romance by the boatload, a word of caution. Reading A Family Forever may cause you to give up those mediocre wannabees forever.