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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.

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Come Monday

If you’re a Parrothead (Jimmy Buffett fan for the uninitiated), you will undoubtedly get my title. If not, that’s OK. This is an announcement that something had to give, and that’s my twice-weekly blog posts. Choosing between Friday and Monday, I picked the much maligned Monday hated equally by cubicle dwellers and fat orange cats. Hopefully, I’ll be your little bit of enjoyment as you prepare for another week.

Why the cutback? Because my awesome critique group The Scriblerians have launched our website. Our kickoff post written by Lisa Godfrees is a big one. An interview with Robert Treskillard about his book Merlin’s Blade and soon-to-be-released Merlin’s Shadow. So far, Merlin’s Blade is the best book I’ve read in 2013 and will likely keep that slot unless eclipsed by its sequel.

I will be a regular contributor to the Scriblerians. As with a pie, one piece is great but a whole one is better. I’ll be one of eight pieces of a really good pie. And like the pumpkin variety, it comes with a generous dose of whipped cream. In this case, the literary equivalent, a giveaway of a copy of Merlin’s Blade for anyone who subscribes to the Scriblerians.

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