Friday, October 31, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patti Lacy graduated from Baylor University in 1977 with a B.S. in education. She taught at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois, until she retired in 2006 to pursue writing full time. She has two grown children with her husband, Alan, and lives in Illinois.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Far away from her Irish home, Mary Freeman begins to adapt to life in Midwest America, but family turmoil and her own haunting memories threaten to ruin her future.
A shattered cup. Cheap tea. Bitter voices asking what's to be done with the "little eejit." Mary, an impetuous Irishwoman, won't face the haunting memories--until her daughter's crisis propels her back to County Clare. There, in a rocky cliffside home, Mary learns from former neighbors why God tore her from Ireland forty-five years earlier. As she begins to glimpse His sovereign plan, Mary is finally able to bury a dysfunctional past and begin to heal. Irish folk songs and sayings add color to the narrative.
Watch the Book Trailer:
If you would like to read the first chapter of , go HERE
An Irishwoman's Tale is about a woman (married with two kids) who had a very difficult childhood full of unanswered questions. As she recounts her story to her new friend, Sally, Mary finds healing and the answers she has so desperately been needing.
Patti is a wonderful storyteller and I loved how she gave us glimpses back and forth into Mary's past and present. There are so many people in this world who grew up with pain and dysfunction who never get closure on their past. Mary is one of those people, but she finds it when she finally lets herself be vulnerable in trusting a new friend with her story.
If I were to change anything I would have not revealed as much of Mary's childhood in the beginning of the book (specifically, how her father treated her). It seemed obvious to me why she was sent away and if that information had been saved until the end it might have had an even greater impact to the story.
Even so, it was a good story and Patti did a wonderful job telling it. I recommend it, and be sure to click the link above to read the first chapter.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
This week's Booking Through Thursday asks:
Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?
Well, I have a bit of split personality on this issue. My fiction and non-fiction books are, unfortunately, not treated equally. I do like to keep all my books in the best shape possible. But some of my books (i.e. inspirational, etc.) get dog-eared and written in. I'll underline and write in them with no second thought because if I really liked something in it, I would never find it again just skimming. (But I still won't bend the cover or spine.)
Although, sometimes I'll use a piece of paper for my bookmark and when I like something I'll write the page and paragraph number on it instead of writing in my book.
However! My fiction books I like to keep in near new condition. No dog-ears. No writing in them. No bending the cover or the spine. If I'm toward the front or back of the book I'll curl the smaller end around, gently cupping it in my hand, but absolutely NOT bending it or breaking the spine!
I do cringe when I see a book being bent in all directions. My oldest daughter reads a ton and she's a dog-earer, cover bender, spine breaker. How can she be related to me?! I can't bear to watch! My heart goes out to her books. And don't think I'm not always telling her to be nice to the books and treat them better. Alas, to no avail. Part of her problem is she reads in bed and then falls asleep then rolls around on her poor, defenseless books. Or the books fall between her bed and the wall and the cover gets scratched up from the wall texture. Or she crams them into her already overfilled backpack. (Now, to her defense, she is careful not to tear pages or do destructive things like that.)
I must change the subject! It's just too painful!
So what kind of reader are you?
And be sure to check out how others are treating their books over at Booking Through Thursday!
I'm editing to add:
It just hit me! I've been reading through the other responses to this question and I can see that even though we have various opinions/habits, we all love our books.
Some people love them so much they don't mind if they "look" loved. Some people love them so much that they want them to stay looking nice. But the books are all well loved.
So, to say that a book that looks new must not be loved...or to say that a book that's worn out (and not treated well by some's standards) must not be loved...neither are true!
Anyway, it's interesting how we think they way others treat their books shows whether or not the book is well loved. What do you think?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracey Bateman published her first novel in 2000 and has been busy ever since. There are two other books in the Westward Hearts Series, Defiant Heart (#1) and Distant Heart (#2)
She learned to write by writing, and improved by listening to critique partners and editors. She has sold over 30 books in six years.
She became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the early months of its inception in 2000 and served as president for a year.
Tracey loves Sci-fi, Lifetime movies, and Days of Our Lives (this is out of a 21 year habit of watching, rather than enjoyment of current storylines.
She has been married to her husband Rusty for 18 years, has four kids, and lives in Lebanon, Missouri.
ABOUT THE BOOK
For the past seven years, Ginger Freeman has had one goal: find Grant Kelley and make him pay for allowing her brother to die. Growing up motherless with a father who leads an outlaw gang, Ginger isn’t exactly peaches and cream. So when she finally tracks down Grant on a wagon train headed west, she figured providence had stepped in and given her the chance she’s been waiting for.
On the wagon train, finally surrounded by a sense of family and under the nurturing eye of Toni Rodde, Ginger begins to lose her rough edges. She’s made friends for the first time and has become part of something bigger than revenge. Not only has her heart softened toward people in general, but God has become a reality she never understood before. And watching Grant doctor the pioneers, she’s realized she can’t just kill him and leave the train without medical care. Putting her anger aside, before long, Ginger’s a functioning part of the group.
But when the outlaw gang, headed by her pa, shows up and infiltrates the wagon train, she is forced to question her decision. Only self-sacrifice and her new relationship with God can make things right. But it might also means she loses everything she’s begun to hold dear.
If you would like to read from the first chapter of Dangerous Heart, go HERE
I admit I haven't read this book yet, but I can't wait to curl up with it! I'm the kind of girl who likes to read series in order (when possible) and since this is #3 I'm waiting until I finish the first two. I've heard so many great things about this series, I don't want to spoil it by reading the ending first.
So, even though I haven't personally read it, I do recommend you check it out. Tracey is a wonderful writer and you can't go wrong reading her work!
Today's Musing Monday asks:
"How has the economy impacted your book buying? Do you think it’ll change the reading and book-buying habits of the country? Will it increase your library visits? Will it make you wait for the paperback edition instead of buying the hardcover?"
Actually, I haven't ever bought a ton of books brand new. I go through our library (which is linked to many libraries across the state with free inter library loan!!) or I buy from our local book exchange. However, I do sometimes buy new. I like to support authors and sometimes I don't want to wait for the book! I don't think my habits will change.
Will it change the habits of the country? I certainly don't think it will change the reading habits. I mean if you love to read, you're going to read! But it will likely change the book buying habits. Many people will probably use the library more or buy used. Gotta do what we can to keep up our reading habit!
It's hard to say, though. In my opinion, those who understand this book addiction would never consider not reading because of the economy and some won't stop buying books because of the economy (or at least not drastically change their established buying habits, whatever they are).
It's a reader thing. Non-readers don't usually "get it." (Which is ok, because readers don't usually "get" non-readers! *grin*)
Check out the rest of today's Musing Mondays!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, there's something about the shorter days and chilly air that makes one want to curl up with a scary book. The horror market for Christian fiction is growing in creativity and testing all sorts of boundaries. The suspense market is also very rich with many talented authors. So my question(s) for you is...what's the best Christian fiction horror or suspense novel that you've read? What book would you recommend to someone who wanted to try out these genres? What's a book in these genres you want to read but haven't yet?
Oh my! I'm afraid I don't have much to offer in this category. I used to read scary stuff when I was younger (Stephen King!) but haven't in years. I refuse to watch scary movies any more. Not sure why I've become such a scaredy cat!
I do like suspense and would love recommendations on that genre. Horror is...well, I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet!
So let me know about some good suspense. I'd love to check it out!
Updating to add: Ok, so I didnt list the suspense I recommend! I loved Wiser Than Serpents by Susan May Warren (Mission: Russia series). I also enjoyed James Scott Bell's Try Dying and Try Darkenss (Buchanan series). I recently finished Forsaken by James David Jordan. Some were milder than others though (i.e. Forsaken was milder in suspense to me than Wiser Than Serpents, and Try Darkness was milder than Try Dying). I guess I didn't add these at first because none of these are "hardcore" suspense...they're more mild.
If you haven't already, go on over to the carnival at My Friend Amy's to check out more answers to this question...and add yours to the mix!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Saturday Christian Fiction Carnival
Last Saturday I participated in the first Saturday Christian Fiction Carnival over at My Friend Amy's. This carnival is so that we can "share our love of the growing, vibrant, and exciting market of Christian fiction" and to get to know each other better.
Each week Amy will give us a question or prompt and we answer it on our own blogs then add it to her Mr. Linky.
Since this is new, Amy is also interested in a new name for the carnival. Something fun or catchy. If you can think of one let her know. (I'm still stumped myself.)
Christian Book Carnival
Jennifer over at Quiverfull Family has started hosting a weekly Christian Book Carnival on Wednesdays. For this carnival we submit our review of a Christian book (fiction or non) to share with others, then on Wednesdays she lists them all together on her blog.
This can be a current or past review you've written, whether it's part of a book tour or not. It just needs to be 300 words or more so that it gives readers a better idea of the book, to see if it's something they'd want to read (or not). Also, you don't have to be a "reviewer" to participate. Just write what you thought about a book you've read, post it on your blog, then submit the link to Jennifer!
Jennifer is also interested in swapping host blogs for this carnival. If you're interested in hosting one be sure to let her know.
Here are the links to the first post for each carnival to give you an idea of how they work:
Saturday Christian Fiction Carnival
Christian Book Carnival
Be sure to check them out, even if you're not a blogger! There's some great reading going on!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tim Downs is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University. After graduation in 1976 he created a comic strip, Downstown, which was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate until 1986. His cartooning has appeared in more than a hundred major newspapers worldwide.
His first book, a work of non-fiction, was awarded the Gold Medallion Award in 2000. His first novel, Shoofly Pie, was awarded the Angel Award in 2004, and his third novel, PlagueMaker, was awarded the Christy Award for best suspense novel of 2007. First The Dead, the third book in this Bug Man series came out earlier this year.
Tim lives in Cary, North Carolina, with his wife Joy.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Some secrets just won't stay buried.
When strange bones surface on a U.S. senator's property, the FBI enlists forensic entomologist Nick Polchak to investigate the forgotten graveyard. Polchak's orders are simple: figure out the mess.
But Polchak, known as the "Bug Man" because of his knowledge of insects and their interaction with the dead, senses darker secrets buried beneath the soil.
Secrets that could derail the senator's presidential bid.
Secrets buried in the history of a quaint Virginia town.
Secrets someone is willing to kill to protect.
With the help of a mysterious local woman named Alena and her uncanny cadaver dogs, Polchak sets out to dig up the truth.
But with a desperate killer hot on his trail, he'll be lucky to wind up anything less than dead.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Less Than Dead, go HERE
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Well, considering I'm somewhat starting over in this reading thing, I don't exactly have a huge collection (yet...LOL!). I love reading series books, though. Some of the series I've read/started are: Tracie Peterson's Heirs of Montana series, about a family who headed west during the Civil War; Karen Kingsbury's Redemption series (haven't read the F or S series yet though...on my list!); James Scott Bell's Buchanan series, starts out about a lawyer trying to find out who killed his fiance.
I've also read parts of other series that I want to finish: Tracey Bateman's Westward Hearts series and Drama Queen series, Julie Lessman's The Daughters of Boston series, Cindy Woodsmall's Sisters of the Quilt series, and Susan May Warren's Mission: Russion series.
Of course there are others that I am wanting to start, but I won't list them all. These are all Christian fiction. I haven't dived into enough general market to know what I'd want to read yet, so we'll see on that (I'm open for suggestion!). I like historical, suspense/mystery, and chick lit the most.
I didn't know there was a series feature in Library Thing! I'm new to LT so I'll have to check that out.
Be sure to check out more responses to Tuesday Thingers!
Monday, October 20, 2008
The article (here) talked of “why women read more than men“. In it, author Ian McEwan is quoted saying: “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.”
So, what do you think of this article and its claims? Go on over to Musing Mondays and leave a comment or see what others have to say.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
In my various blog hoppings while cheerleading for for the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon readers, I encountered a wide variety of books and personalities. So fun! (I tried to comment on every reader's blog. At least the ones that I could, providing links worked and they allowed comments. If I missed anyone I apologize!)
But I also got tickled at the "other stuff" going on in people's lives during the read-a-thon. So my top 10 list is about that. (Too bad I didn't know about this earlier...I would have paid more attention!)
Top 10 Distractions from Reading
10. Kids with fevers (hugs for those of you dealing with this one!)
9. See ya! I'm going to a party!
8. My fiance showed up unexpectedly. No reading for me! ;o)
7. Can't read...I got a hair appointment!
6. I'm attending a library conference.
5. Hubby invited a bunch of people over to watch the game!
4. Gotta walk the dog, and other dog...matters.
3. I'm HUNGRY! And by gosh I'm going to stop reading to EAT!
2. Helping hubby winterize a boat. (I think it was a boat?)
And the number 1 distraction from reading:
1. There's a marching band playing outside on the street!
Disclosure: Yes, these were all real distractions from our readers. I know there were more, but I couldn't think of them. AND...for those of you these apply to...please know I mean this in all fun and good spirit. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blogs and cheering you on!
And the great thing is, the readers had these distractions...yet they read on anyway! Way to go!
Good luck with the rest of the read-a-thon!!!
(Updated to fix one of the items.)
Amy over at My Friend Amy is hosting a weekly carnival every Saturday for lovers of Christian fiction. And today is the first one!!!
Go on over to Amy's to see how to join in and also to check out everyone's answers!! (...after you leave a comment on my post, of course! ;o) )
This week the question is:
Why do you read and review Christian fiction? Do you exclusively read Christian fiction or do you also read general market books?
Actually, for me it all happened out of the blue. A year ago I had never read Christian fiction. Not. One. Book. And I only vaguely knew it even existed. Then I thought it'd probably be cheesy anyway (or worse...preachy!).
But let me back up for just a second...I used to LOVE reading and I read a lot. Then college happened (too many text books and classes to pass), then marriage and kids happened (too many parenting books and tons of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See"...I have them memorized!).
My sis-in-law sent me home with The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers and I finally read it over Christmas last year...my first Christian fiction and I LOVED it. Not at all what I expected!
Last year I started a blog and just posted about things happening with us so that our friends and family could keep up (we had moved 1300 miles away). So a few months ago, on one of my
What? What's that? People do that?
I had no clue.
So I said sure!!
And that one thing has fueled in me a love of Christian fiction and the desire to get the word out to others about it. I find it very refreshing to get absorbed in a good, clean story. No profanity. No sexual content. No graphic violence. There's enough of that in the world.
When I read, I get pulled in. I relate to characters and I feel like I'm right there with them. And with Christian fiction I can relax and allow myself to do just that. I know I won't get broadsided with something offensive.
Now, don't mistake a "good, clean story" with "boring," which is what I thought. Most Christian fiction is far from that. I've read plenty edge-of-your-seat books that are not preachy but get their point across. Something I was pleasantly surprised with in reading Christian fiction is the lessons I learn from it. Not in a "cram it down your thoat" sort of way, but in a gentle "oh, I needed to hear that, too" sort of way.
So, because I've fallen in love with Christian fiction I am excited to let others know what's out there. I think there's a stigma attached to Christian fiction that says it's boring, cheesy, or preachy (like I thought), but it's FAR from that. There are some amazing authors out there and I want others to discover them too.
Ok, part 2...
Lately I'd only been reading Christian fiction, trying to keep up with my reviews. But I have started reading some general market books now too. There are a lot of really great general market books that are very moving and not offensive, but I don't know that until I read it. So when I read general market I never know if I'm going to get slapped on the next page.
I feel like there aren't just a whole lot of Christians who review general market (that I know of, anyway...if you're one of them, please leave me a comment!). I'd like to start reviewing some general market books as well so that I can let other Christians know what to expect...things that are important to Christians. I don't want to turn down a book because it "might" be offensive. Because it "might" turn out to be one of my favorites just as easily. I can always put an offensive book down and move on...and let you know why I put it down.
The 24 Hour Read-a-Thon starts today!! I'm on mountain time, so it starts at 6:00AM here. I doubt that I will be up at that time (hey, it's Saturday!), or maybe I will (hubby's going hunting bright and early), so thank goodness for scheduled postings!
In my earlier post I said I wouldn't be "participating," but since Stan will be gone I figured I could be a cheerleader and encourage the readers along the way (as much as Saturday morning cartoons will provide).
I'll also be doing some reading of my own (I hope!). Right now I'm reading An Irishwoman's Tale by Patti Lacy. I'm not very far into it...I keep getting distracted.
You can still participate...or you can check out what everyone is doing. Go here either way!
Follow along throughout the day here where there are updates and mini-challenges listed.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
It's time for another Booking Through Thursday! This week Deb has an interesting quote from Christopher Schoppa in the Washington Post:
Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.
But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.
So this week's question is...
"What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?"
There are a few left over from college days that I thought I should keep and maybe actually read (again? did I read them the first time?). And there are just some I got and keep meaning to read but haven't. Oh and the ones that I read long ago and would like to read again...someday.
~ The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (did I read that the first time?)
~ Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (where did that one come from?)
~ To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (read it long ago, liked it, want to read it again!)
~ Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare (I did read that, but probably won't again)
And then there's...
~ Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (read it long ago because I had to, need to read it again because I want to)
~ When Christ Comes by Max Lucado (never read it but I keep thinking I will)
~ Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore (does 2-3 years count as on the shelf for years?)
Be sure to check out what's on everyone else's shelves over at Booking Through Thursday!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Ok...on to Tuesday Teasers!
TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
~ Grab your current read.
~ Let the book fall open to a random page.
~ Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
~ You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
~ Please avoid spoilers!
Here's my teaser:
"Daphne warned me about you," he muttered before bouncing over to greet the two men. Mary's heart swelled to match the size of her head, even with the addition of the hat.
~ An Irishwoman's Tale by Patti Lacy p. 187
Go check out more teasers over at Should Be Reading!
It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Non~FIRST will be merging with FIRST Wild Card Tours on January 1, 2009...if interested in joining, click HERE!)
Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2008)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Craig Detweiler (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is codirector of the Reel Spirituality Institute and associate professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has written scripts for numerous Hollywood films, and his comedic documentary, Purple State of Mind (www.purplestateofmind.com), debuted in 2008. He has been featured in the New York Times, on CNN, and on NPR and is the coauthor of A Matrix of Meanings. Barry Taylor (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary), adjunct professor of popular culture and theology at Fuller, is a professional musician, painter, and the leader of New Ground, an alternative worship gathering in Los Angeles.
List Price: 13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
How did the culture war begin? Was there a clear winner? Or did it devolve into a long, costly stalemate? What can we learn from the battle? Perhaps we are not as polarized as we presume. Political parties and pundits strive to distinguish themselves from the competition in the starkest possible terms. We use rhetoric to rail against one another while our core positions may involve only a slight divergence. We may be hardly separated rather than deeply divided. Can we move from an adolescent mind-set, shouting across the religious and political divide, into something more thoughtful, productive, and mature?
As a witness to the sixties and seventies, I’ve seen how destructive we can be—even toward ourselves. I’ve also lived through the comparative comfort of the Reagan era in the eighties. He turned back the clock to a prosperous vision of America before the social upheavals of the sixties. Can we uphold the vigorous freedom of the sixties alongside the rigorous responsibility of the fifties?
A purple state of mind pushes past the either/or squabbles of an earlier era. It adopts a both/and approach to following God and interacting with the world. It builds bridges rather than burning them. It seeks common ground rather than points of division. A purple state of mind attains maturity by knowing when and where to apply biblical truths to our blind spots.
John: I think this should be a candid discussion.
Craig: I want it to be first and foremost an honest conversation. Straightforward. Tell the truth. Nothing held back.
Were you alive when President John F. Kennedy was shot? While the world wailed, I was warm in my mother’s womb. She was in the doctor’s office, awaiting a checkup on my status. I was born two months after Kennedy was assassinated. I arrived after the initial shockwave, the outpouring of grief, and the confusion as to why such tragedy happens. But we all continue to wrestle with the conflicts that erupted in the wake of Kennedy’s death.
I entered a world on fire. Throughout my childhood, there were riots in the streets, protests on campuses, scenes from Vietnam in the news. My parents attempted to shield me from much of the conflict, turning me on to Mr. Rogers rather than Walter Cronkite. Yet the palpable conflicts over civil rights, free speech, and the war draft spilled into newspapers, televisions, and casual conversations. The struggle for civil rights was more than a century in the making. Leaders like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were as patient as possible, given their long walk to freedom. Yet the positive steps created by the Civil Rights Act still moved too slowly for those trapped in the inner city. Riots in Watts and Detroit set cities ablaze. The mistakes of the Vietnam War constitute their own painful book. As images of the war filtered into our living rooms, resentment toward our leaders grew. Chaos reigned among protestors inside and outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
I knew my dad hated the protestors, but I didn’t know why. Something about their appearance bugged him. It may have been their long hair, their scanty clothes, and their flagrant disregard of authority. The hippies seemed equally frustrated by people like my father. They were complaining about the man, the system, anyone over 30. Why were the protestors so angry? What was all the shouting about? A generation gap emerged over the war in Vietnam. The students were ostensibly resisting the draft. They did not want to serve in an endless, misguided war in Southeast Asia.
Behind the political policies were distinct lifestyle choices. The hippies were celebrating free love, plentiful drugs, and raucous rock music. My father was wondering what happened to hard work, paying taxes, and civic responsibility. Teenagers embraced freedom while adults trumpeted responsibility. These dueling notions of the American identity exploded into a full-blown culture war that has been raging ever since. Reporter Ronald Brownstein calls this second civil war “the great sorting out.”
A purple state of mind appreciates the competing ideals that launched the culture war. It recognizes the patriotism that resides behind both visions. It remembers how much capital was created by responsible citizenship in the fifties. It also celebrates the ingenuity unleashed in the freedom-loving sixties. We learned valuable lessons from both eras. A purple state of mind borrows from both, combining freedom and responsibility.
The Fifties Versus the Sixties
I have lived my entire life in the shadow of the 1960s. I’ve heard the stirring speeches of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. I’ve mourned the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in Dion’s song, “Abraham, Martin, and John.” I’ve been taken to the Vietnam War in Apocalypse Now. How many television specials have I seen that retrace the upheavals of 1968? Rolling Stone magazine commemorates Woodstock or the Summer of Love every single year! Was it the best of times or the worst of times? Forty years on, we’re still locked in an adolescent debate. We see it in the childish name-calling of Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter on the right or MoveOn.org and Daily Kos on the left.
Every American presidential election since the sixties has essentially been a referendum on that painful era. There were no clear winners in Vietnam. Like Rambo, we’re still fighting. It is a dark era in American history most of us would rather not review (even though we must learn those lessons so we stop repeating them). The fissure generated in Vietnam lies behind our conflicted feelings over the war in Iraq. We can’t talk rationally as a nation about important issues because of deep-seated, unresolved family dynamics. If you prefer the comparative calm of the fifties, then you know how to vote. If you uphold the progressive hopes of the sixties, then it is clear which candidate represents you. The only problem with this pattern is that many of us missed the fifties and the sixties. We’re ready to move on, to live in this moment, to meet today’s challenges rather than to relive yesterday’s news.
Living with this conflict is comparable to listening to our parents argue. We’ve heard all the lines, all the rhetoric, and all the old grudges. We can recite them from memory, and we’ve been exhausted by the gridlock. We haven’t bothered to speak up because we know our parents were too busy arguing to listen. The shouting match showed no signs of abating, so we let the circus pass us by. Instead of joining the conversation, we elected to start our own companies, clubs, and churches. The creative brain drain from civic activities has been well documented. Those who were turned off by the partisan rancor eventually turned off the pundits on TV. We are on the Internet instead, arguing about the minutia that remains distinctly ours—music, movies, television, shopping. We don’t want to be superficial. But with no creative political options, we opt out. If we hope to engage the next generation in public life, then this culture war, rooted in bitter recriminations, must stop. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must call a cease-fire.
Those of us who’ve inherited this war have seen enough casualties. John Marks and I were born at the end of the baby boom and the beginning of Generation X. We understand the majority position and empathize with the minorities who’ve been sidelined by the sheer size of the opposition. Consider this book an effort to bridge the generation gap. I’m here to help those over fifty understand what is coming. I stand between the baby boomers and their children, brokering a truce. As a professor, I’ve invested heavily in Generation Y, hoping that they will enact enough changes to make room for my children—Generation Z!
Seek wisdom, not knowledge.
Knowledge is of the past; wisdom is of the future.
Native American PROVERB
I recount our recent history in an effort to fill in gaps in our understanding. We must comprehend where we’ve been if we hope to figure out where we’re going. I’ve seen the abuses of power represented by Watergate. The special prosecutor’s hearings interrupted hours of my favorite TV cartoons. (Did you realize that Hillary Clinton was part of the legal team investigating Nixon’s White House? Republicans have struggled with her for a looooong time!) I watched Nixon’s sad wave goodbye on the White House lawn. I also understand the faith embodied by the first “born again” president, Jimmy Carter. His Southern Baptist beliefs led him to broker peace in the Middle East. Yet I also endured the 444 days of the Iranian hostage crisis that accompanied his peaceful negotiations. After such international embarrassment, Americans desperately wanted to return to the fifties era of strength and power. Ronald Reagan played the part of forceful leader resisting the Soviet Union. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism was a victory for freedom around the world.
Unresolved tensions about Vietnam, drugs, and the sixties fueled the vitriol hurled at the Clintons and the Bushes. Bill Clinton strapped on the mantle of President Kennedy, declaring himself “A Man from Hope.” His appearance playing saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show sent a clear signal that he embraced civil rights. As “entertainer in chief,” Clinton demonstrated a mastery of the electronic medium. His obfuscations about inhaling marijuana and dalliances with White House intern Monica Lewinsky also sparked latent fears of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. (Did you realize that Monica’s famous blue dress was found in her mother’s apartment—in the Watergate complex?) To his detractors, Clinton represented too much freedom and not enough presidential responsibility. The impeachment proceedings against him were a recapitulation and payback for the embarrassment borne by the Nixon administration.
George W. Bush represented a return to the fifties. He may have engaged in alcohol abuse or cocaine use, but Bush confessed his sins and seemed genuinely contrite. He experienced the dangers of too much personal freedom and welcomed the responsibility he found in his newfound faith. While Clinton parsed verbs, Bush offered plain-spoken surety. He distanced himself from his patrician upbringing, adopting a Texas rancher lifestyle as a populist alternative. To those tired of Clinton’s libertinism and excess, Bush offered a down-home throwback: cowboy boots and pickup trucks.
Yet all the tough talk in the world seemed insufficient in dealing with a nearly unseen enemy. How could a band of terrorists bring down the World Trade Center? They used our strengths against us, hijacking our own planes. They crashed into our most impressive symbols of financial prowess and military might. September 11, 2001, humbled and angered us. We marched into the Middle East with unprecedented firepower. Afghanistan fell almost without resistance. We submitted Iraq to “shock and awe.” Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda proved they could not only run but also hide. We attacked nations, but our enemies were individuals. American technology ended up undermined by insurgents with homemade bombs. We terrorized others with torture at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. We operated like a powerful empire but proved incapable of ferreting out an ideology. We desperately need leaders who can protect freedoms while serving as responsible world citizens. Such nuance has been lost in our prolonged and pointless culture war.
The next generation admires the civic responsibility of the fifties and the progressive art and music of the sixties. They have embraced a both/and view but have been alienated by either/or debates. A purple state of mind embraces freedom and responsibility. It takes the best of history but leaves the worst excesses (on both sides) behind. It blows away the purple haze hanging over our past. This chapter highlights key moments that got us into this mess. It will offer tangible proposals for moving on with maturity.
Nixon Versus Kennedy
For almost 50 years, we have been sorting out the choices represented by the first televised presidential debate, Republican Richard M. Nixon versus Democrat John F. Kennedy. On September 26, 1960, Vice President Nixon and Senator Kennedy squared off under the moderation of ABC’s Howard K. Smith. Over 80 million viewers tuned into the debate, which pitted Nixon’s experience (eight years as Eisenhower’s vice-president) against Kennedy’s comparative youth (one term as a U.S. senator). Both candidates offered hawkish opposition to the Communist threat represented by the Soviet Union. They debated issues of national debt, farm subsidies, welfare, and health care that continue to be unresolved. They drew distinctions about the role of government to stimulate economic growth. But Nixon and Kennedy diverged most significantly in style rather than substance.
Kennedy arrived at the debates looking tan, rested, and energetic. Nixon looked haggard, having recently fought off the flu. He refused to don makeup, figuring his forceful words would rule the day. Those who listened to the debate on the radio found Nixon the victor. Yet those watching the debate on tiny black-and-white televisions saw something else. They saw Nixon sweat while Kennedy smiled. Although Nixon was only five years older than Kennedy, his demeanor seemed comparatively ancient in outlook and energy. Nixon’s noticeable five-o’clock shadow didn’t help either.
Nixon learned the connections between style and substance too late in the campaign. Makeup covered his beard in three subsequent television debates. But Kennedy gained just enough confidence and votes to capture the closest general election of the twentieth century. Just one-tenth of 1 percent of votes separated Kennedy from Nixon. Americans have remained almost equally divided ever since.
The legacy of John F. Kennedy remains remarkably hopeful and progressive. Consider the optimism behind his war on poverty. Having watched the Russians beat Americans into orbit, Kennedy redefined the terms of the space race. How much chutzpah did it take to engage in a race to the moon? His version of American government looks almost absurdly hopeful in hindsight.
When Richard Nixon campaigned for president in 1968 (and for reelection in 1972), he promised an alternative to the vexing Vietnam War. Nixon expanded the Cold War efforts to include Cambodia and Laos. He presented a stronger America that refused to be intimidated. At the same time, Nixon engaged in a remarkable array of diplomatic missions to China and the Soviet Union. He met his adversaries face-to-face, winning surprising concessions and forging unexpected alliances.
Behind their policies, presidents Kennedy and Nixon represented divergent attitudes toward profound social change within America. The Kennedy years brought glamour to the White House. Entertainers like Marilyn Monroe sang sultry birthday greetings to President Kennedy. An air of celebration could also be read as a reign of permissiveness. A Democratic administration presided over the explosion of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Progressive politics coincided with experimentation and unrest. The Nixon presidency offered a return to law and order. Freedom took a backseat to responsibility. In 1971, President Nixon identified drug abuse as public enemy number one in the United States. He created the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (it became the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973). We’ve been fighting America’s longest war, the war on drugs, ever since.
Jimi Hendrix’ song “Purple Haze” epitomizes the fuzzy grasp of reality that accompanied drug experimentation in the sixties. The title allegedly arose from a powerful batch of LSD served to Hendrix by Owsley Stanley. Some have also attributed it to a strain of purple marijuana. Hendrix said the inspiration arrived in a dream. Whatever the derivation, “Purple Haze” is rooted in altered states of consciousness. Released in 1967, “Purple Haze” served as the psychedelic anthem for San Francisco’s summer of love. The key to the song’s eerie sound is harmonic dissonance. Jimi’s guitar is tuned in B-flat, while Noel Redding’s bass plays E octaves. Such discordant sounds matched the era perfectly. A clash of cultures resulted in something jarring and new. Jimi didn’t just play rock music, he offered the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Consider the transcendent promises contained in his phrase, “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” Some heard it as a sexual provocation, a pledge to kiss a guy. But the sound made it clear that his sights were set in the great beyond. At his seminal appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Jimi transported the crowd to a higher state of consciousness. He demonstrated the otherworldly power of raw feedback, playing his guitar behind, above, and beyond himself. Hendrix stepped into the role of sexual shaman, licking, caressing, and stroking guttural sounds from his Stratocaster. In setting his guitar on fire during “Wild Thing,” Hendrix offered his gifts to the rock gods. It is an incantation, sacrificing his most precious possessions to the altar of altered states.
Unfortunately, Jimi’s life ended up in a similar state of self-immolation, falling to pieces just as suddenly and tragically. The Experience Music Project in Seattle serves as a permanent archive for all things Hendrix. EMP founder Paul Allen spent part of his Microsoft millions acquiring Hendrix memorabilia, bringing it back to Jimi’s hometown of Seattle. It is a memorial to a musical messiah. The hall dedicated to Jimi is fittingly called “Sky Church.”
To others, “Purple Haze” demonstrated a world utterly adrift. The idyllic visions of Woodstock were undercut by the horrific murder at Altamont. With Hell’s Angels serving as security, 1969’s other free concert (at Altamont Speedway in Northern California) ended in death rather than musical bliss. Every time Rolling Stone magazine presents another rosy retrospective of the sixties, I wonder why it refuses to acknowledge the dark side of psychedelia. How can it hold up Hendrix, Joplin, and Jim Morrison as departed saints, when they are also exhibits A, B, and C in the perils of drug abuse? They were amazing and stupid at the same time. Great talents squandered by excess. So when parents who lived through the worst of the sixties attempt to spare their children the same amount of destructive experimentation, I applaud. “Just say no” arose from painful, lived experience. It may have been simplistic, but it was preferable to self-destruction.
Recent films like Drugstore Cowboy, Trainspotting, and Requiem for a Dream capture both the allure and the demolition of drugs. They provide an audio-visual approximation of a drug trip. Their images are intoxicating and attractive—the ultimate music videos. Yet their message is clear: Despite the attraction, do not be deceived—drugs will kill you. They serve as cautionary tales for a stylish era. Today’s students have largely learned from the painful past. Rates of teenage pregnancies, drug use, and violence have hit 40-year lows. The parents from a turbulent era raised remarkably respectful, well-behaved kids. Demographers Neil Howe and William Strauss noted the surprising generational shift:
Boomers started out as the objects of loosening child standards in an era of conformist adults. Millennials are starting out as the objects of tightening child standards in an era of non-conformists adults. By the time the last Millennials come of age, they could become…the cleanest-cut young adults in living memory.
To a large degree, Generation Y has embraced the family values of the 1950s. But its rebellion remains wrapped in the profane packages of the 1960s.
Consider the violent, R-rated film Fight Club (1999). It is a scathing critique of consumer culture and middle-class values. We follow Jack, the bored protagonist, on a brutal slide into an underworld of macho self-abuse. Jack longs for genuine feeling, even if he must shed blood to achieve it. So while Jack may be a mild-mannered bureaucrat by day, he rallies his friends for bare-knuckled bar fights at night. Fight Club unleashes the fragile postmodern male id with frightening results. What begins as an invigorating alternative devolves into Project Mayhem, a prescient precursor to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Schizophrenia leads to destructive nihilism.
This is contrasted by the diagnosis offered by the toughest puncher in the club, Tyler Durden. He summarizes the isolation of a generation raised in affluence rather than upheaval:
Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s— we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war…our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very p— off.
When I showed Fight Club to a class of undergraduate students, they nodded in recognition. They connected with Tyler’s frustration. During a class discussion afterward, a student announced, “We’re rebels.” When I asked what they were rebelling against, he said, “Our parents.” is all sounded more than vaguely familiar, so I pushed further. “What does that look like?” The students answered, “We don’t want to be like our parents. Drinking. Doing drugs. Getting lots of divorces…we’re rebels!” e most rebellious behavior imaginable? Abstinence!
While baby boomers harrumph about presidential candidates’ ancient drug use, their children are begging for them to grow up. Parents complain to MTV about Britney Spears’ kiss with Madonna. Switchboards light up from viewers shocked by Janet Jackson’s nipple slip during the Super Bowl halftime show. Yet the next generation lets out a collective yawn. They’ve already seen it, done it, or dismissed it. They identify with the band Weezer, which recorded a song titled “Tired of Sex.” They are ready to move on, past the provocation to more substantive issues. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer asks, “Oh, why can’t I be making love come true?”
A New Conversation
Craig: My introduction to what it meant to follow Jesus was to be a laughingstock. It meant bad hair, bad makeup, and bad TV. Is this what I signed up for? This whole tension of red state and blue state, this is the tension that I live with—how do I own my own people who so make me cringe on a regular basis? This nomenclature of left and right, red and blue is not helpful right now.
John: It’s not meant to be helpful. It’s meant to do exactly what it does. I’m not happy with what people on the traditional left, or Democrats, say is their worldview. I honestly don’t know if they have one. I’m as weary as anybody in this country of the politically correct dialogue, which basically says, “I’m a victim and you’re not. No, I’m a victim and you’re not.” It’s useless. It’s done. It’s dead. Postmodernism is dead. All those answers on the secular side are basically dead.
John Marks and I stand between generations. We are old enough to understand the boomers’ intra-generational issues, yet we’re still young enough to identify with the discontent of those who followed. We embarked on a purple state of mind because we’re desperate for a new paradigm, hungering for a different set of talking points. We each risked alienating our constituencies. Coming from evangelical Christianity, I am part of the fifties tribe, which is struggling to protect home and hearth. As a journalist, John Marks identifies with the political left and their tattered ideals. We both find ourselves embarrassed by those we represent. I ask how God’s people could have turned Jesus into a hater. John questions why allegedly free-thinking people are so close-minded when it comes to religion. A purple state of mind tries the patience of both sides. It runs the risk of disloyalty for the sake of a larger goal.
We must put the past behind us. We can no longer afford to be divided over issues of sexuality and drug use when global crises demand our attention. To lead the world, we must get past our adolescent fixation on who did what to whom. The rumor mills that trumped up charges against the Clintons in Whitewater or George W. Bush with evasion of the Vietnam War have done nothing but distract us. How much negative energy has been expended on investigations that went nowhere? We’ve been busy digging up dirt when we should have been building roads and schools. We tore down a government in Iraq rather than solidifying our own ability to lead by example. Shame on us for obsessing over the past instead of investing in the future. No wonder voters in 2008 longed for change.
The Gospel According to Austin Powers
Our desperate need for freedom and responsibility rests in the seemingly contradictory letters of the apostle Paul. He applied his godly advice in a unique way for the audience he was addressing. To Corinthian Christians navigating a libertine culture, he preached caution. Corinth was noted for temples dedicated to Apollo and Aphrodite. Worship at these temples often included sex with temple prostitutes. They were thought to serve as conduits for the divine. An intimate sexual encounter on temple grounds was comparable to an experience with the gods. So imagine how confused early Corinthian Christians may have been about what constituted proper worship of Christ. Their understanding of Christian freedom knew no bounds. Paul urged the Corinthian church to exercise spiritual discipline, to get their house in order. He insisted they “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). To those who claimed, “Everything is permissible,” Paul responded with a chastening, “Everything is not beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
In Corinth, even eating meat could involve idolatrous activity. The local cults of Apollo and Aphrodite controlled so much of the public consciousness and economy that new believers were encouraged to examine the sources of their food supply. Food sacrificed to idols may not be contaminated physically, but Paul challenged the Corinthian to demonstrate sensitivity toward those who may have confused or conflated eating with idolatry. Paul urges the Corinthian believers to take responsibility for their Christian brothers and sisters. To a chaotic church, he preaches order, propriety, and maturity.
Yet to the uptight church in Galatia, Paul preaches freedom. The new believers clung too closely to their Jewish roots. Perhaps out of fear of persecution, the local church leaders insisted that new Christians adopt the rigorous (old) rules of Hebraic law. Gentile converts were expected to get circumcised according to Jewish ritual. Paul considers such attempts to bind people to ancient purity laws as a threat to the gospel of grace. He insists, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). He begged the Galatian Christians to loosen up, to relax their standards in the name of Christ.
Was Paul contradicting himself? By no means! In each letter, he concludes with an appeal to love. To the legally minded Galatians, Paul summarizes the law in a single command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). To the battling Corinthians who confused sex with love, Paul spells out the attitudes and actions that constitute love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4). He preaches freedom to Galatia and responsibility to Corinth because they each need to apply the message in a unique way.
Unfortunately, we often fail to identify our particular blind spots. Legalistic churches will often reiterate the call to purity given to the Corinthians. Lax churches will return to Paul’s letter to the Galatians to justify more license. Those who need freedom cling to responsibility. Christians who need to learn responsibility insist upon the freedom Paul grants to Galatia. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery urges us toward maturity. In the comedic conclusion, Austin gets the drop on a surprised Dr. Evil. But Evil remains unflappable and punches Austin’s buttons: “We’re not so different, you and I. However, isn’t it ironic that the very things that you stand for—free love, swinging parties—are all now, in the nineties, considered to be evil?” Austin retorts, “No, man, what we swingers were rebelling against is uptight squares like you whose bag was money and world domination. We were innocent, man. If we’d known the consequences of our sexual liberation we would have done things differently, but the spirit would have remained the same. It’s freedom, baby, yeah!” Austin Powers connects wisdom, experience, and the spirit all in one interrelated package. Dr. Evil offers a challenge: “Face it—freedom failed.” With the sounds of the sixties anthem “What the World Needs Now Is Love” playing in the background, Austin concludes, “No man, freedom didn’t fail. Right now we’ve got freedom and responsibility. It’s a very groovy time.” Even sassy movie stars can capture profound truths.
It is not freedom versus responsibility. It is not the law and order of the Republican Party or the liberal policies of the Democratic Party. We need a strong military to defend our freedoms. We need unregulated markets to encourage innovation. We need social agencies to check our greed and support “the least of these.” We must find freedom and responsibility between the parties. We must learn to listen to Paul’s competing calls. Christian maturity incorporates the whole of scripture and applies it to an integrated life. We must be aware of our history. We must recognize how we’ve become so divided. We must grow up as a nation, moving on to freedom and responsibility rather than dragging each other into ancient history. The radical claims of Paul continue to challenge us. Libertines may need to give up some freedoms for the health of others. Conservatives may need to unwind enough for the Spirit to enter in.
Adolescence is an experiment in self-governance. It is about identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, learning to moderate. Sometimes we fall on our faces from too much excess. At other times, we shrink back from opportunities we should have seized. Highly responsible people may sprint to early success and wake up 20 years later, wondering what all the compliance wrought. They will long for freedom. Those raised in a borderless environment will have to find a roadmap that shows where the blind curves and dangerous precipices are located. Maturity arises when those maps have been internalized, when familiarity with biblical wisdom coincides with personal experience. We appreciate the gift of freedom, but we also recognize when enough is enough. Only with our house in order can we begin to focus outwardly. We do not merely play thought police, checking and correcting others. Rather, we take on the deeper challenge of walking beside others, inviting them to join us on the journey. It’s a very groovy time.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
It is October 11th, and FIRST is doing a special tour to 'Say Goodbye to Hollywood Nobody'.
and her book:
NavPress Publishing Group (September 15, 2008)
Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens
These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.
Other Novels by Lisa:
Hollywood Nobody, Finding Hollywood Nobody, Romancing Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End
Visit her at her website.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (September 15, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
I awaken to a tap on my shoulder and open my eye. My right eye. See, these days it could be one of four people: Charley, Dad, Grampie, or Grammie.
Oh well, might as well go for broke. I open the other eye.
“Did you sleep well?”
I shake my head and reach for my cat glasses. “Nope. I kept dreaming about Charley in Scotland.” We sent her off with her new beau, the amazing Anthony Harris, two days ago. “I imagined a road full of sheep chasing her down.”
“That would be silly. They would have to know she hates lamb chops.” Grammie sits on my bed. Yes, my bed. In their fabulous house. In my own wonderful room, complete with reproductions of the Barcelona chair and a platform bed of gleaming sanded mahogany. I burrow further into my white down comforter. I sweat like a pig at night, but I don’t care. A real bed, a bona fide comforter, and four pillows. Feather pillows deep enough to sink the Titanic in.
She pats my shoulder, her bangled wrists emitting the music of wooden jewelry. “Up and at ’em, Scotty. Your dad wants to be on the road by seven thirty.”
“I need a shower.”
“Hop to it then.”
Several minutes later, I revel in the glories of a real shower. Not the crazy little stall we have in the TrailMama, which Dad gassed up last night for our trip to Maine. Our trip to find Babette, my mother. Is she dead or alive? That’s what we’re going to find out.
The warm water slides over me from the top of my head on down, and I’ve found the coolest shampoo. It smells like limeade. I kid you not. It’s the greatest stuff ever.
Over breakfast, Grampie sits down with us and goes over the map to make certain Dad knows the best route. My father sits patiently, nodding as words like turnpike, bypass, and scenic route roll like a convoy out of Grampie’s mouth.
Poor Grampie. Dad is just the best at navigation and knows everything about getting from point A to point B, but I think Grampie wants to be a part of it. He hinted at us all going in the Beaver Marquis, their Luxury-with-a-capital-L RV, but Dad pretended not to get it.
Later, Dad said to me, “It’s got to be just us, Scotty. I love my mother and father, but some things just aren’t complete-family affairs.”
“I know. I think you’re right. And if it’s bad . . .”
He nods. “I’d just as soon they not be there while we fall apart.”
So then, I hop up into our RV, affectionately known as the TrailMama, Dad’s black pickup already hitched behind. (Charley’s kitchen trailer is sitting on a lot in storage at a nearby RV dealership, and good riddance. I’m hoping Charley never needs to use that thing again.) “Want me to drive?”
Yep. I still don’t have my license.
Man. But it’s been such a great month or so at the beach. So, okay, I don’t tan much really, but I do have a nice peachy glow.
I’ll take it.
And Grampie grilled a lot, and Grammie helped me sew a couple of vintage-looking skirts, and I’ve learned the basics of my harp.
I jump into the passenger’s seat, buckle in, and look over at my dad. “You really ready for this?” My heart speeds up. This is the final leg of a very long journey, and what’s at the end of the path will determine the rest of our lives.
He looks into my eyes. “Are you?”
“I don’t know,” I whisper. “But we don’t really have a choice, do we?”
“I can go alone.”
I shake my head. “No, Dad. Whatever we do, whatever happens from here on out, we do it together.”
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The Shack by William P. Young
Name a book you have read MORE than once
I don't usually read a book more than once...too many new ones I want to read!
Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
Well, the Bible of course. Other than that, I couldn't say there has been any one particular book that has greatly changed me, but many books I've read have got me thinking and probably subtly changed how I view things.
How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews
All of the above! (But not "professional" reviews...they usually irritate me.)
Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Right now - fiction, but I like non-fiction too.
What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Hmmm...well even if the writing is beautiful, if the story is completely boring I just can't get into it. So I'd say gripping plot. Can I have both? :o)
Most loved/memorable character (character/book)
One of my all time faves is Little Women.
Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
I'm a read-one-book-at-a-time kind of girl. And I don't keep them on the night stand...I have a book shelf near my bed and they stay there til I'm ready for them. :o) I just started Forsaken by James David Jordan, but I have The Shack and Spanish Bow ready and waiting. I do also have some little devotionals I read
What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?
I just read one I don't recommend so I'll say the one before that was Home Another Way.
Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
Yes, but not very often.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Elle is the quirky, artistic, yet capable and down-to-earth girl next door...in small town, America. The kind of girl who can never find her other flip-flop but knows to what to check on her boat before leaving the dock. We met her in Sweet Caroline and I couldn't wait to hear more of her story. Elle doesn't realize how captivating she is, but she draws you in as a reader as much as she draws in the other characters in the story.
Elle is an artist who, after getting feedback that her talent wasn't good enough, opened up an art gallery (her other passion) to be near the thing she loved most - art. She also loves living in her small town in South Carolina where she grew up. It's comfortable and it's safe.
She has fallen for the dynamic pastor of her church. Jeremiah seeps confidence and she gladly hands over her heart to him. When she accepts his proposal she has no idea of just how much her world is about to get rocked. He had just accepted a large pastorate in Dallas and their engagement soon becomes long distance as he starts his new job. Elle spends her time packing and selling her successful art gallery. She didn't realize how hard it would be to leave the life she knew and loved, but she was a trooper and was going to do whatever it took to be a good wife.
"Little doubts crept in at the oddest times."
In the midst of transferring her old life to her new life with Jeremiah she realizes he's become a different person with this new job. She becomes lower on his priority list and things are not running as smoothly as before. Was this just part of "growing up" and learning how to mix two lives together?
Elle also rents out her house to widower Heath McCord and his daughter, but a miscommunication lands him there sooner rather than later. As Elle sorts out her engagement with Jeremiah, she becomes friends with her new tenant and also learns how to listen to God.
I liked how Love Starts With Elle had so many different facets to it. We're drawn into not just Elle's life but also the people around her. The lady who helps her build a relationship with God. Jeremiah. Heath and his daughter. Elle's sister, Julianne. With all that variety I feel that many people could read this book and each bring something completely different away from it.
I could relate with Elle in that she seemed confident on the outside but on the inside was full of a variety of doubts. Elle is also willing to do what it takes to make things work, while noting that the same thought keeps popping up. "Little doubts crept in at the oddest times." Just jitters? Should she ignore it?
There was so much I loved about this book, but I think the thing I loved most was the message that says by all means, fall in love, but don't fall in love blindly; things aren't always what they seem. Being single is hard but deciding to get married can be even harder if you're not careful. Rachel shows us how easy it is to get caught up in what we think or feel is right.
Rachel also does a wonderful job of showing how if we would just trust God with every aspect of our lives that he will work it out (a lesson I still need to learn). His plans are way better than our own. Elle nearly missed a beautiful, artistic moment because she was trying to protect her pride instead of letting herself be vulnerable and see where God takes her.
Interested in winning a copy of this book? Love Starts With Elle is going on a blog tour starting next week and I'll be giving away an extra copy. Don't you dare think that I'd give away my only copy!
Updated to say...the giveaway is up and going! Go over to my other blog to enter! The drawing is on October 20th.