Book Love

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!

Book Love

Book Review: Out With the In Crowd


Out With the In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill

It’s senior year, and Skylar Hoyt should be having the time of her life. Instead, she returns to school after a Christmas break unlike any she’s ever had. Her parents are on the verge of breaking up, her younger sister Abbie is nearing the end of pregnancy but doesn’t seem worried about buying diapers or deciding on names, and Skylar’s still trying to figure out how to stay on the right track after rededicating her life to God. She’s learning that God doesn’t just want to be with her at home or at church — He even wants to be part of things she used to not care about at all, like her grades.

At least things are still good with her boyfriend Connor, even though he doesn’t always understand why Skylar is focusing so much on helping Abbie or trying to keep the peace between her parents. Or at least things are still pretty good until Skylar finds out that her former best friend Jodi — the reestablished queen of the ‘in’ crowd now that Skylar has left the partying life — is dating Skylar’s ex Eli. Then Jodi starts working her charms on Connor, nearly sending Skylar over the edge with paranoia.

Skylar doesn’t regret her decision to follow God, but she’s like anyone else who’s ever wished the walk would be a little easier. She struggles to keep her old knee-jerk reactions at bay and to figure out what God wants her to do in life. Most of all, she’s learning how to speak up at the right time and in the right way to help the people she loves.

Although Out With the In Crowd is written for teenagers, it’s a good read even for adults because the themes cross generational and social lines. Skylar and the other characters are super believable teenagers and a few surprises along the way keep the story moving. The only suggestion I would have is that you read the first book in the series, Me, Just Different, before jumping into Out With the In Crowd. Morrill does a good job including enough background to help you know what’s going on, but you’ll enjoy the story a lot more if you know all the details from book 1. Book 3 in the series, So Over It, will be out in July, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Skylar’s story.

Visit Stephanie Morrill’s website

Buy your own copy. If you enjoy good books for teens, you might also want to check out these titles from Jenny B. Jones.