Fun Friday

Some Favorite Reads of 2010

Although I always try to read a lot of books, I don’t usually think to stop and decide which were my favorites. Actually, if you asked me for a list right now I probably couldn’t even tell you all of the books I read in 2010! I’d like to do better with that in 2011 so I can have a “real” favorites list by the end of the year.

In the meantime, though, here are a few that I really enjoyed in 2010.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, by Joyce Magnin. I met Joyce at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in August; she taught the “Not yet published novelist” clinic I was able to participate in. I love reading a book when I’ve met the author because everything comes even more alive than usual. Joyce is open, honest, and has a quirky sense of humor – just like her book. Agnes and the other characters had some of the funniest lines and characteristics I’ve read lately. Small rural town – people who love each other but don’t spare the punches – yummy pies and other home cooking – rumors that fly quicker than a transatlantic jet. I heard Joyce’s voice throughout the story and thought it all came together in a very entertaining read. The follow-up book, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, was part of my Christmas goodies so I’m laughing over it now!

Tour de Force, by Elizabeth White. This story intrigued me from the get-go because it’s about professional ballet dancers. And, even though my dance class days are far behind me, I’ve always been a softie for things related to ballet. I loved how the story tackled the issue of being a Christian in a corner of the world where lots of other lifestyles are “the norm.” I loved how the story handled things realistically but also with respect. I fell in love with Gillian and Jacob and could tell that Elizabeth had spent hours of real-world research time around dancers to help keep things realistic. Tour de Force took me along for a wonderful adventure that I didn’t want to put down.

So Over It, by Stephanie Morrill. This was the final installment in the “Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt” series for teen girls and didn’t disappoint. Skylar’s over all the games and politics of high school so jumps at the chance to spend time with her grandparents in Hawaii after graduation. Maybe she’ll even get a job and stay there instead of heading back home. But Skylar learns some important lessons in Hawaii – like running away to hide doesn’t fix the issues, and sometimes even the most wonderful seeming places aren’t so great. The battles she has with herself and her family are so common to teenage girls, and I loved how Stephanie showed her working through things and making her own decisions. I’ve passed the series along to a couple of girls in my Wednesday night group at church – they have some great lessons without being preachy. I hope she has some new books coming soon!

 

I have several others to mention, but this blog post is getting too long! I’ll save the other 3 faves for next week. Happy new year!

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Fun Read Friday: Allon

Allon by Shawn Lamb (Creation House)

Back cover blurb: Long ago, the land of Allon was a paradise until the fall of the Guardians paved the way for the rise of the Dark Way. King Marcellus now controls the land as his forefathers did, with an iron fist and the help of the evil spirit, Dagar. But an ancient prophecy speaks of a time to come when the Guardians will return and Allon will be restored – led by its rightful heir.

At 16, Prince Ellis is forced to flee the life he has known, pursued by the king’s soldiers. With help from two mysterious strangers he meets in the forest, he must find a way to defeat the evil forces and prove himself worthy to be king if Allon is to have any hope of salvation. Along the way he will face trials that will test his character, his wisdom, his courage, and ultimately, his heart.

Allon is a magical tale of adventure, destiny, and faith that you won’t soon forget.

My review: Years ago, I read fantasy tales fairly often and usually enjoyed them. I’ve read a bit of fantasy more recently, but freely admit that part of why I wanted to read and review Allon is because I thought my son might want to read it. I knew Allon would be clean, but still wanted to know what it was about before handing it off to my 11-year-old. Plus, now we’ll have something fun to discuss once he starts reading it. 🙂

I had a little trouble getting into the story up front, but that might be because I had to shift to a fantasy world mindset and get used to oodles of characters with fairly odd names. The further I got, the more I enjoyed it, so I was eager to pick it up once I got through the first couple of chapters.

Allon begins with Ellis being snatched away from the regular life he’s always known and thrust into a world of danger, hiding, and running for his life. That is, he’s running until his protectors can tell him the truth of his birth and prepare him to fight for his rightful place as heir to the throne of Allon and the hope of peace the people have been longing for. Mentors and supporters of all shapes and sizes help Ellis along the way – everything from men he’s known all his life to a girl who communicates with animals to Guardians that Ellis always thought were just legends. Add a former King’s Champion as Ellis’s personal trainer, evil Shadow Warriors on a rampage for the dark spirit Dagar, and a young woman who wants to win Ellis’s heart – but who will change Allon’s destiny forever if she does – and you have the makings of a grand story.

Truth be told, I never did quite keep all the characters straight, but I didn’t care (and that’s probably because my mind’s not what it used to be LOL). I just let Allon sweep me along for a tale of heroism and coming of age (with a touch of sweet romance) and enjoyed the ride. If you enjoy fantasy or midieval tales (or have a child who does), then Allon is a great choice for your reading time.

Author Shawn Lamb

For more info, visit www.allonbooks.com. You’ll find an excerpt from the book, sketches of the main characters, an interactive map of Allon, and more. A very cool site to visit!

You can purchase a copy of Allon here. And if you’re looking for other fantasy-type titles for teens, here’s a good starting point.

If you read (or have already read) Allon, I’d love to know your thoughts. Happy reading!

Categories: Book reviews, Christian fiction, Fun Friday | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Fun Read Friday: Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon

 

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell

Although the “Love Finds You” books from Summerside Press began a while back, this is the first title I’ve read from the series. I love the concept – stories based on interesting towns in America with unique names/settings/histories. Some (like Bridal Veil) are historicals; others are contemporaries. But I love the real-world tie-in because that’s something I try to incorporate in my own novel.

Here’s the basic storyline … Margaret Garvey finds herself torn between a past love and a man who could be her future. She promised her heart to Nathaniel Cooper when she was only 16 and planned to run away with him – but he left town without her. Now it’s four years later and Margaret is finally taking baby steps toward a possible relationship with another man in the logging town, Andrew Browning. Then Nathaniel returns to town, a neighbor asks Margaret to harbor two runaway children, and a murder shocks the entire community. Yes, there’s a lot going on in this story, but I won’t spoil it for you. 🙂

I will say that Bridal Veil was an interesting read and kept me guessing about some things until the end. I loved the small-town feel and the details that made it realistic without bogging down the story.  The characters’ struggles with each other and within themselves rang true, which is important to me as a reader. A little romance, a little suspense, and lots of relationship issues (new and old) help make sure the story has a little something for everyone.

If you want to learn more about author Miralee Ferrell, check out her website or blog, or this interview.

You can buy a copy of Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon or read other reviews here. Or, find some other “Love Finds You” titles here. They’re great books!

Have a great weekend, and happy reading!

Categories: Book reviews, Christian fiction, Fun Friday | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Fun Read Friday: Reading Bowl & Award Winning Books

 

As I posted last week, our son is on his school’s team for the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl competition. They placed second at the county level, then second at the divisional level. Woo-hoo! 🙂 Tomorrow they compete at the divisional level. The first place teams from the state’s two divisions will play each other for the state title as part of the Children’s Literature Conference at the University of Georgia in March.

The books they read and are quizzed on are Georgia Children’s Book Award winners. Last year, I only read 2 of the 12 books (well, 2 1/2, but our son says the 1/2 doesn’t count). This year I did much better — I read 11 of the 18, and am halfway through #12. Granted, I’ve liked some better than others, but I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve read so far.

So … tomorrow will be stressful, but a lot of fun. We’re so proud of our kids! Go, Titans — we love you and we’re pulling for you!

In honor of all the kids’ hard work and to help spread the word about great books for kids, here are the stories they’ve read:

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