Category Archives: Reading

Posts about books

Stormfront

This blog post is shameless self-promotion at its best. My short story, “Detention” was released in the Out of the Storm anthology. The book is a collection of stories that placed in the ACFW Writers on the Storm contest and is published by HopeSprings Books with all proceeds going to the ACFW Scholarship fund. You may have noticed my tagline is “A Different Kind of GEKE: From steam punk elves to the dystopia of high school. “Detention” is a take on the Cinderella story that features steam punk Elves, and the heroine’s school is rather dystopian. If you’re a fan of steam punk and/or fairy tale retellings, you’ll love “Detention”. You’re not? There are eleven other stories in this collection. That’s what is cool about this anthology, there is something for everyone. Never read Amish, western, romance, or speculative fiction. Pick up this book and read stories in genres you’d never try otherwise.

I read the entire collection. I liked some better than others, but all were solid and well-written. Here’s the list of stories in the order they appear with my brief description.

Contemporary category:

1st place: “Squall Line” by Jim Hamlett (Contemporary) – The story of a flight instructor and his student.
2nd place: “Dorothy’s Carol” by Terrie Todd (Women’s Fiction) – Two very different women are thrown together by circumstance.
3rd place: “A Rumspringa Storm” by Steve Hooley (Amish) – An Amish woman learns God’s purpose for her life.
4th place: “Tempest Tossed” by Annette O’Hare (Women’s Fiction) – A young woman makes peace with her family obligation.

Speculative category (Fantasy / SciFi):

1st place: “The Grumpy Chronicles” by Susan Lyttek (Fantasy) – Like “Detention” this story involves Elves, wicked stepmothers, and a famous fairy tale princess. Except this time it’s about seven Elves mistaken for Dwarves; and one is not happy about this mix up.
2nd place: “The Great Storm” by Karla Rose (SciFi)  – A young girl and her family seek shelter from a storm of invading enemies.
3rd place: “Oddman” by Carla Hoch (SciFi) – A man of mixed race is not fully accepted in his community, but may be the only one who can save it.
4th place: “Aperture” by Linda Kozar (SciFi) – A mysterious girl and her teddy bear show up looking for the previous owners of the home.

Other Genres category:

1st place: “Just West of Clovis” by Ralph D. James (Western) – A witty story about a man who finds a foot in a boot connected to a man who is very much alive.
2nd place: “Husband Hunting” by Crystal L. Barnes (Western) – A man steals a woman’s wedding dress and tries to make off with her heart too.
3rd place: “Detention” by Gretchen Engel (YA / Fantasy) – When her visa is denied, a young woman seeks another way home.
4th place: “Fire in a Storm” by Angela K. Couch (Historical) – Set in 1930s USSR, a man is conflicted between doing his duty and what is right.

I hope or more of these stories appeals to you. If it does, then pick up this book and read them all. You won’t be disappointed, and you’re helping support a great cause.

What genres do you like? Which genres are ones you don’t normally read? Which story appeals to you most?

OutOfTheStormFB (1)

 

Lady in Red

It’s February and I’m going to take a break from my usual posts for a public service announcement. If there’s any illness I truly fear, it’s having a stroke at a young age or even in my old age. While I haven’t lost any sleep over it, statistically and genetically speaking, it’s the most likely health concern to happen to me. If you’re a woman, it’s true for you as well. More women die from heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. (Go Red for Women) But if you’re a male the numbers are similar. According to the CDC, in 2013 the leading cause of death (male and female) was heart disease (596.6K) with cancer coming in second with nearly as many deaths (576.7K) but what also needs to be counted is the other 128.9K deaths from strokes.

Friday, February 6, is Wear Red Day. But it’s not just about wearing a red dress any more than wearing a pink or teal or any other colored ribbon will eliminate cancer. For heart disease, it’s a lot about awareness and making lifestyle changes. Eat right, exercise, and manage stress.

When you see pictures of me running a half marathon or writing about running and exercise realize that I’m not doing this to rock a bikini in July. For one, there’s a muffin top sitting on my six-pack (not to mention stretch marks). But the second reason is that I know what genetics tell me. I’m going to die from a heart attack or stroke. Fortunately, longevity is in my genes but that’s not the only factor. It’s been proven that a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. That is why I eat well (even if I’m splurging on pizza and jalapeno poppers as I write this and kind of watch the Super Bowl), exercise, and manage my stress.

I make a concerted effort to enjoy family time, read a lot, run, write. These things are all fun and relaxing. I don’t let myself overcommit (most of the time). I don’t hold grudges. I avoid drama. Even if I’m like my grandmother and live to be one hundred, life is too short to be stressed out.

You don’t like healthful foods? I bet you do. Find what you like. Try something you used to hate. Fix it in a different but healthful way. It’s amazing what a few herbs can do to vegetable. Oven roasting or grilling caramelize the natural sugars in vegetables. Steamed ones are crisp and bright. Most veggies can be eaten raw.

You don’t like to exercise? I be there’s something you like. And everything is more fun with a friend. Rather than coffee or lunch meet to walk, bike, bowl, or take an exercise class. Start slow and build up your endurance. Do you have little ones? Exercise with them. They need 60 minutes of activity each day. Why not join them?
We’re a month into the new year. Did you make a resolution? This is me cheerleading. “Keep going! You can do it!” Did you fall off the wagon? Guess what? You can start over. Confession time. Mid-January I got the flu and haven’t exercised since. But I’ll be back out there doing situps, pushups, and running.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

OK. I totally admit it. I’m a sucker (bloodsucker?) for vampire novels. I admit that I’m a Twilight fan. Not the crazy stay-up-all-night for the premier fangirl, but I liked the books a lot, especially when I first read them. I read them more for Edward and the Cullen family than for Bella. But my issue with heroines is for a different post.

But it’s not just the sparkly undead. I’m a fan of the original too. No, not “The Originals” although I have been known to watch “The Vampire Diaries”. I’m referring to Bram Stoker’s dark tale.

Last year I was introduced to the Amish variety and more recently a redeemed one. One of my favorite books of 2014 is a title that’s been getting both good and dubious press including a nod from Jimmy Fallon. Kerry Nietz’s very good take on a genre mashup never seen before Amish Vampires in Space. Or AViS if you sit at the cool table. The cool table being the one where we wear ironic t-shirts and Converse All-Stars (see last week’s post for that reference). In AViS, the vampires are the evil creatures of myth where the only good vampire is a dead vampire.

I just finished another fantastic vampire novel. It too is a Christian title, and another excellent read. But it takes a different tack. Vampires are evil but are they any more sinful than your garden variety mortal human? That’s the premise of Ben Wolf’s Blood for Blood. What I loved about it was the double layer Raven’s story told. On the surface, it’s part-horror, part-western suspense with bandits, marshals, and a vampire. Why would a revival preacher put his family at risk by taking in someone who has to kill to survive?

But it goes so much deeper. Substitute the word “vampire” for anything from “homosexual” or “prostitute” to “murderer” or “thief”, and you see why this man is so generous to Raven who he sees as redeemable even if Raven believes he’s souless and damned for all eternity. Ben spells out the difference between the “immortal” life of a vampire with that of the “eternal” life of the saved. He makes a case that will forever cement the idea that there can be such a thing as a Christian vampire. And I’m quite thankful for that.

But I’m even more thankful with how Ben handles Raven’s struggles between his redeemed self and his vampire nature. He still fights bloodlust. Garlic, daylight, flowing water, and holy objects are still off limits. Raven retains his strength and resistance to death, but is he still “immortal” as well as “eternal”? The transformation of Raven after his conversion is a beautiful reminder that we may have been baptized into a new life but that is only the beginning. Like Bunyan’s Christian and our own lives, belief is only passing through the wicket gate. We still have a long road of following Christ. And it’s not easy.

Tale as Old as Time

I had to choose a song from Beauty and the Beast in honor of book-loving Belle for this post. Another goal accomplished – 100 books read or listened to in 2014. I actually read 111 plus or minus a couple I either read at the end of 2013 or forgot to log because I couldn’t find it in my search histories. You can see my Books Read in 2014 board on Pinterest.

I’m not doing a traditional Top Ten (or whatever number) favorite book but rather highlighting ones that particularly captured my attention. For one, I had three friends publish their debut novels and picking a favorite from these diverse novels would be second to choosing which of my kids I love best.

My favorite book was The Night Circus. It’s sort of a double win because not only is it a fantastic read but also because it’s narrated by (swoon) Jim Dale. That man could read the ingredients list to Pop Tarts and I’d be enthralled. Of course, he’s better at speculative fiction novels as he is the voice of the Harry Potter audio books. It was my favorite because it was an absolutely unpredictable flight of fancy. The only negative was an f-bomb planted in the first chapter. Language isn’t a huge deal with me but I despise gratuitous profanity.

Fellow Scriblerians Cynthia Toney and Vanessa Morton published their debut novels as did one of my oldest writing friends, Nancy Kimball.

Cynthia’s Bird Face is a hilarious book about junior high aged Wendy. It touches serious topics with the best humor. I absolutely died laughing during parts of it. A hilarious reminder of those awkward years. When I began writing, I prayed for critique partners. Tim and Cynthia formed the group that would become known as The Scriblerians. I was so happy because Bird Face had me from the first chapter.

Vanessa has been with us from the beginning and her book Moonfall captured my attention in a totally different way. It’s part Biblical fiction part fantasy as she tells a fascinating story of the woman we know as Rahab. But her Rahab who is named Rachav, is an identical twin prone to visions. Intrigued? How can you not be? Vanessa has a passion for archaeology and it’s obvious in the rich details of ancient Jericho.

Nancy and I bonded over our love of heroes and we have mutual crushes on our own creations. Then again what is there to not love of Jonathan Tarquinius from Chasing the Lion. From the “man of twelve” running through the streets of Rome to the hardened on the outside, tender in the middle gladiator of the end. Chasing the Lion is an at times gritty story that honors the redemptive power of Christ. I actually “read” it twice once in print and once in audio. Joseph Narducci is another swoon-worthy narrator.

I didn’t read as many classics as I normally read with two of the three Divine Comedies being the only non-twentieth/twenty-first century books I read this year. I did tackle a few modern classics: Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I don’t include Bible studies that I do but there were two Christian non-fiction titles that I read. Both are excellent and quite different. My mentor and I discussed Grace-Based Parenting and I read the short but weighty The End of Christendom.

I “reread” the Harry Potter Books in audio form. More Jim Dale. I also started the audio series A Song of Fire and Ice, more popularly known by it’s television show title “A Game of Thrones”. This is another well narrated story.

Of course, I had to read some dystopian because I love that genre. I knew this year would be bittersweet. One of my favorite series by Jill Williamson who is one of my favorite authors published her third and final book in the Safe Lands series. Rebels ended the series in a most satisfying way.

Alas I didn’t have to mourn the end of a good series because Nadine Brandes put out the first book in her Out of Time series. A Time to Die has a cool concept that pulled me right in and makes me impatient for the next installment. Everyone wears a clock with their death timed to the last second. Katie Clark debuted with Vanquished the first in her dystopian Enslaved series. Another one that pulled me in and made me crave more.

It’s the fifth day of the new year and I’ve already finished two audio books and started my third. I’m also deep into my first e-book and I’m almost finished with Unbroken which I’m reading in print. Here’s to a new year of good books.

What was your favorite book of 2014?

Happy reading.

13.1

I’m breaking from song titles this week. But many will know the significance of this number. Two weeks ago, I completed my first half-marathon (13.1 miles). My goal was to complete the race in 2:30, which translates to about 11:30-minute miles. I crushed my goal with a time of 2:17:21!  That’s one mile per minute faster. There’s a video clip of me crossing the finish line. I’m the one in the fluorescent yellow top and magenta skirt.

I learned a lot through the experience of training for a half-marathon.

1. We have a saying at work “Plan the work and work the plan”. I received a half-marathon training guide and I can count on one hand the times I either missed a run or modified it. I used an advanced plan and each run had a purpose. Speed, tempo, and endurance. I went from running about 11:30-11:00-minute miles to averaging about 10:30-minute miles.

2. As old as Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare”, slow and steady wins the race proved true for me. OK I didn’t “win” in the gold medal, crown of laurels way. However, I ran a consistent pace of 5.8 MPH. And I ran the entire way. The closest I came to walking was taking a few walking steps to connect with someone at a water stop.

3. I love running. That is not a phrase that would have EVER come out of my mouth a year ago. But about mile 10 I was running toward South Mountain. The weather was perfect – overcast, mid-sixties, and a slight breeze. We couldn’t have had better weather. I was at my steady 5.8 pace enjoying passing the buildings of mid-town Phoenix thinking, I am really having a good time. It was about the point when I stopped being passed and started passing others.

4. The race was a trip down memory lane. My husband and I lived in the Phoenix metro area for eleven years. There was the hair salon where I traded off seeing two awesome stylist cousins. One if not two projects my husband worked on at his last job. The fair trade coffee house I snarkily dubbed “The Communist Coffee Company” (because that’s how I roll). I could all but picture being pregnant with a toddler and meeting my husband for a no-fat latte. And a later visit where I held hands with a now preschooler while pushing an infant in a stroller. A few favorite restaurants. The Old Spaghetti Factory where we celebrated my husband’s grandfather’s 90th birthday. The restaurant we ate at the day our daughter came home from the hospital. The Mexican and Thai restaurants where we’ve eaten with visiting friends and family.

5. Half-marathons are addictive. I’m already thinking about running one scheduled for February. Originally, I planned to run the Rock ‘N’ Roll half-marathon but there’s a scheduling conflict. As I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago, my favorite thing to do is downhill ski. The race is MLK weekend so there’s no way I’m leaving the mountain because holiday weekend means night skiing. So I’ll be hitting the slopes on either a date night or evening of family fun.

 

 

 

You Belong With Me

Okay, I admit it. I am a Taylor Swift fan, especially her songs “You Belong With Me” and “Mean”. I can relate to both all too well. While I’m not exactly the “girl-next-door” type, I am the one who would have been friends with a guy who had no romantic interest in me. I’ve been in the opposite situation too, and I felt just as bad. The best situation is when friends fall for each other.

BoundHeart

I loved Dawn’s The Hesitant Heiress and fell in love with her first-person narrative and likable characters. I was eager to read The Bound Heart.

Vance Everstone stole more than a kiss from Meredith Summercourt and ever since then she’s held out hope the elusive playboy will return from Europe and claim her heart. In the mean time, Lawry Hampton has returned from the West Coast and the two resume a friendship that began when they were children. The two are close and easy companions as Lawry helps Meredyth find her passion. And she does. Helping orphans. Enter Wynn, an adorable little girl who adds to the story in so many ways.

It’s no secret I’m a hero girl and Lawry is a fine specimen. Not only is he tall, fair, and handsome he’s a kind and caring man. I love the way he patiently waits for Meredyth and how he interacts with Wynn. Who doesn’t love a guy who’s good with kids?

But what won me over was Meredyth’s character. I’m a lot harder to please in the heroine department. And Dawn did a fantastic job of creating Meredyth. She could have cutout any number of cardboard characters from Meredyth’s pieces. The oh-so-sweet do-gooder. The privileged social crusader. The mindless debutante. The damsel-in-distress. Meredyth is instead her own person wealthy and slightly spoiled, she isn’t resentful of her position yet she seeks a life beyond parties and gossip. I could see myself being a Meredyth if I were in her social position during The Gilded Age. And of course, this is a Dawn Crandall novel, so you can’t leave out the mystery and suspense than make her novels as exciting as they are romantic.

My final assessment is that Ms. Crandall’s second novel is every bit as good as her first. And I might even give it a bit of an edge because Meredyth is such a relatable heroine.

As for my romantic story. I fell for my good friend. Twenty-one years later, he’s been the only one for me for half of my life.

Find Dawn Crandall and her books here:

Book 1, The Hesitant Heiress released August 2014 — Read chapter one!
Book 2, The Bound Heart released November 2014
Book 3, The Captive Imposter releases February 2015
Twitter (@dawnwritesfirst)
Pinterest

 

 

The Piña Colada Song

ski boots
The hardest question isn’t what the title has to do with this post. That’s easy. The song is about a man who takes out a classified ad about things he loves in the hope of having an affair. *Spoiler alert* – He attracts his own wife. Anyway the connection is I’m writing about details that made me fall in love with books. And don’t worry, I’ll also explain why there are ski boots in a blog post with a tropical title.

I just finished Karen Witemeyer’s Full Steam Ahead. I’ve read most of her books and liked them, but I loved this one. It’s about a “mad scientist” who’s experimenting on steamship boilers to improve safety. That’s an automatic swoon-worthy hero. But this title is hardly the first that’s drawn me into it with the details. Dani Pettrey’s Shattered has a scene with the main characters skiing/snowboarding. That’s better than any love scene. Hence the photo of my ski boots. Let’s just say when it comes to ultimate date nights with my husband, I like to keep my boots on, specifically a pair of purple Langes I’ve had since 1996.

There are others. Cara Putman’s novella A Promise Born doubles up with a WWII-era Purdue engineer and the Enigma Project. When The Treetops Glisten, her project with Tricia Goyer & Sarah Sundin, uses Lafayette, IN as a backdrop. I lived across the Wabash River in West Lafayette for four years and can’t wait see the city in the 1940s. Sarah Sundin has done her share in creating characters that were automatic loves for me with a trio of B-17 pilots and a pharmacist (there are three in my family).

Jill Williamson is another of my favorite authors, and Project Gemini has a special place in my heart. It takes place on Okinawa where I spent the summer of 2003 on a work assignment.

I jokingly refer to books like these as 8-star books. I’d give a poorly written one a minimum of 3 stars, but the books earned 5 stars on their own merits. I haven’t read Treetops yet because I can’t quite get in the mood for an Indiana Christmas when it was 70 degrees this weekend, and we still had pumpkins to carve, but I’m guessing I will love it too.

What subjects, locations, or professions entice you to read a book?

Seize the Day

Carolyn Arends’s “Seize the Day” has been my anthem since my days traveling through the Midwest for my first job out of college. As I wrote in my post last week, I already try to live like my days are numbered. Because they are; some will live to 100  and some will die tomorrow. Or today. I write this post with a heavy heart. A young woman I’ve been praying for passed away this morning. While there is joy she’ll spend eternity in health, I mourn for a vibrant life numbered with barely two decades on earth.

As part of the launch of A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes, we are writing about what we would do if we only had a year to live. This isn’t something I’ve spent much time pondering. My grandmother lived to one hundred and my grandfather just turned ninety. My other grandparents lived long lives too. My parents are in their sixties and plan vacations around Rails to Trails bike paths.

But I was recently touched by someone who didn’t have a long timeline. Last year, I lost a friend who left behind a husband, children, and a model of how to make the most of your days. She showed me in real life how to spend days, hours, and minutes with the utmost abandon. Her intentionality to leave a legacy for her family was inspiring.

So how would I spend my last year? My infinitely practical mind went to what I would have to do: work, shuttle the kids, do laundry, and keep the kitchen from becoming a chemistry experiment let alone the bathrooms [shudder]. Not to mention making sure my husband and children would be taken care of after I was gone.

But what would I want to do? That’s where I had to go with this.

If I could choose my last year like Parvin does, it would involve being able to have financial provisions for my family to take off the entire year. I’d travel the world. I would want to have as many new experiences as I could with my family. I’d make sure I visited my extended family, especially my parents, my sister, her family, & my grandfather. I’d visit aunts and uncles. But mostly, I’d travel with my husband and kids. We’d try as many exotic foods as we could. We’d visit as many places as possible. And have as many experiences as we could. My dream experiences would be:

  • Taking my family to Yellowstone. We’d have to camp at least one night, stay in a cabin, and spend a night each in Lake Lodge and the Old Faithful Inn.
  • Go on an Alaskan cruise and visit the interior of the state, Kenai Peninsula, and Dawson City, Yukon.
  • See a Broadway play; this might be the only time I’d consider leaving the kids. It would be special time with my husband but the thought of days without my kids with such a limited timeframe is painful.
  • Visit Prince Edward Island (the only Canadian Province I haven’t visited).
  • Go skiing with my sister’s family, probably in Colorado but I’m not picky.
  • White water raft and water ski – two of my bucket list items
  • I would travel to South America – Machu Pichu is the top of my list, and I’d want to visit hot springs in Chile because I wrote about them
  • I want to spend time in England, Ireland, and Scotland because London is all I’ve seen of the UK and never visited Ireland. And haggis is a bucket list dish.
  • Spend a few days in Paris then take a train to the French Riviera. I’d spend those days in France eating, eating, and eating some more. And I’d do nothing but lie on the beach once I hit the Mediterranean. Well, I’d eat.
  • I’d also make sure to go to Germany. Because if there’s anything I love more than French cuisine, it’s German cuisine.
  • Which brings me to the next stop, Japan. I’d have to visit Okinawa where I spent the summer of 2003 as well as the mainland. Another place that I’d fuel up on awesome food. And visit an onsen (bathhouse) something I didn’t do when I stayed there the first time.
  • I want to go to Greece, Turkey, the Holy Land & Egypt (so I could say I visited Africa). To visit where Paul spread Christianity. Walk where Jesus walked. And if you know me, the pool at Bethesda would be one of my Jerusalem stops. I have a bit of an obsession with hot springs.
  • I’d travel to Australia to make sure I visited all continents. Also, who doesn’t want to go to Australia? I might even get up the courage to SCUBA dive. I’m kind of claustrophobic, but if I’m going to die anyway why not expire seeing the Great Barrier Reef.

I’m pretty sure I have more days planned than a person could do in a year but maybe it’s because the thought of such a limited time terrifies me. There’s so much I want to experience, that I feel limited by a lifetime that could easily span forty, fifty, sixty years. Or I could die tomorrow.

If I do die tomorrow I have two wishes, someone scour my hard drive and shape up my stories so they can be published posthumously and play The Newsboys’ “Breakfast Club” at my funeral. I’m sure the older people will be horrified, but it’s the message I want to leave.

SIDE NOTE: I told my 10-year old about the assignment. He said: Break the clock and live longer!

Both my son and I know our eternity is secure, but we want to make the most of the time we have here on earth. And it’s not just eating exotic foods and crossing items off a bucket list. It’s living each day for God. It’s being Jesus to those around us. Being His hands and feet. And with that, I hope to leave this world a little better place whether or not I ever see Machu Pichu or eat haggis.

What would you do if you only had one year to live?

You-Have-One-Year

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall —— her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

ATimetoDieCov

Connect with Nadine Brandes on her website (http://nadinebrandes.com)
Facebook (http://facebook.com/NadineBrandesAuthor)
Twitter, (http://twitter.com/nadinebrandes)
Goodreads (http://goodreads.com/nadinebrandes/)

And speaking of limited time: There’s less than 10 days left in her prize giveaway!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/N2MyNDRlMzE3YWMwNTQ2MWU4N2M2MzJkYzY2N2IzOjEy/

 

Live Like You Were Dying

Next week I’m scheduled for Nadine Brandes’s blog hop about what I’d do if I only have one year to live. Spoiler alert – not much.

A little over three years ago, the year I celebrated 20 years of liberation from the dystopia of high school, I sort of had a midlife crisis. Thankfully it didn’t involve cosmetic surgery or a sports car. I started writing. Now I have a completed manuscript and a great start on two more. My short story “Neatly Arranged” was published earlier this year as a stand-alone story and part of Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series. My short story “Detention” will be published February 3, 2015 as part of the anthology Out of the Storm.

When I first started writing, it was all I did. Eat, sleep, breathe, and talk about writing. While it threw my life out of balance for a while, it evened out. The benefits have been great. It’s recharged me in other areas of life – my roles as wife, mom, and engineer. I gained critique partners who turned into friends. I’ve been introduced fantastic books by great Christian authors.

Writing is my passion and even a ministry. It’s how I spend my free time. And I don’t miss the “Real Housewives” marathons (don’t judge), Facebook games (did I really enjoy them that much?), scrapbooking (when did I last order prints?), or knitting. OK. I do kind of miss knitting, but when it’s knit or read, the choice is easy. The rest of my life is better too. No televised catfights. No Farmville. No irritation that my daughter made confetti from cardstock. Maybe a little with the mess but not that she “ruined” my stash.

In a way, since I first put fingers to keyboard sometime back in 2011, I have been living like I was dying. Trying my best to make the most of my life. Leave a legacy. Along the way, I’ve realized writing wasn’t something I could do at the sacrifice of my husband, my children, my career, my health, my friendships, or even my walk with God. I mean I’ve always been writing to glorify Him. But was I always?

So now I write, but my “free time” has other priorities: a (mostly) regular quiet time, running to stay fit and enjoy God’s presence, sitting down to a video with my husband, bike rides and walks with the family, an ongoing game of Risk where somehow my minions and I defeated my husband. Good timing. Next week is fall break. Nothing says “mommy time” like plotting world domination. The minions must go down! Bwahaha!!!!

 

 

It’s The End of the World

I love dystopian fiction. The first dystopian novel I read was probably Atlas Shrugged when I was fourteen. Yes, I was one of those bookish teens and there’s a quote about us. Atlas Shrugged isn’t necessarily categorized as dystopian. It doesn’t follow the typical format of a “have not” escaping an prestige society. However, it does take place in a dystopian version of America.

Dystopian has been popular the past few years. I devoured the Hunger Games series when I first started writing. Since then I’ve read the Maze Runner series, Delirium series, and Divergent series. I also read The Giver which is both utopian and dystopian.
Even better is Christian dystopian fiction. Because the beauty of books from this worldview is that there’s always an element of hope. Both in the future and in the characters’ present situation. There are some really well-written books out there.

I just finished Rebels, Jill Williamson’s final installment of the Safe Lands series. I loved everything about these books. Great world building, fantastic characters, and a fast-paced plot. While I’m sad the series is finished, the ending was so satisfying. Perhaps one of the best endings to a series, ever.

The good thing is that I have a new series to sink into. Nadine Brandes released her debut novel, A Time to Die, and it’s the first of three in the Out of Time series. It excels in many of the same ways The Safe Lands does. Interesting characters, a fascinating story world, and unique premise. Everyone knows when they will die and carries a clock that counts down how much time they have left.

As for movies, I have Catching Fire and Divergent in my Netflix queue. And I’m still trying to figure out where I can catch Atlas Shrugged III since it’s not playing in our small town.

What is your favorite dystopian novel? What about your favorite dystopian movie?

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