Saturday, April 28, 2012

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky. HarperCollins Publishers, 1995 (first published 1945) (9780064405850)

I went strawberry picking this morning and this afternoon am making strawberry jam. It reminded me of a favorite childhood book.

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky was also my introduction to Florida. Most kids probably think of Disneyland when they hear Florida. Not me, when I was little all I knew about Florida were the backwoods that Birdie and her family moved to in the early 1900s.

Strawberries I picked!
The Boyers are planning to grow strawberries and ship them off to the big city via refrigerated railway cars. Ten year old Birdie is excited that their strawberries will be enjoyed by people far away. But the neighbors cause trouble and the Boyers have some difficulty adjusting to life in Florida. Mr. Boyer is "a Caroliny feller."

Strawberry Girl is a really fun kids book and is a great way to learn about an era and area of America that isn't usually studied. In the foreword of the copy I'm skimming Ms. Lensky wrote she was "trying to present vivid, sympathetic pictures of the real life of different kinds of Americans, against authentic backgrounds of diverse localities." In that spirit Ms. Lensky had her characters speak in the dialect:
"Yes, soon we'll be pickin' oranges to sell," added her mother.
"To sell?" asked Mrs. Slater in surprise.
"Yes, ma'am. We're studyin' to sell oranges and strawberries and sweet 'taters and sich and make us a good livn'."
"Sell things? Messin' with things to sell?" said Mrs. Slater. "then you'll purely starve to death. Why, nothin' won't grow here in Floridy. The only way we-uns can git us a livin' is messin' with cows and sellin' 'em for beef."
Strawberry Girl won the Newbery Medal in 1946. You can probably find it in most libraries. If not, Barnes & Noble has it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fairy Tale Giveaway and Author Interview!

I am so excited to be a part of the Fairy Tale giveaway hop and to interview the author whose book I’m giving away:

Welcome to Rina’s Reading, Anne Elisabeth! To date you have three books published and another one coming out in the fall. When did you first decide to become a writer and how long did it take you to become published?

I think I decided to become a writer when I was nine years old. At least, that's when I decided that I would "someday publish," which was a bit premature on my side! I had no idea just how difficult publishing was. My mother is the author of sixteen published novels, (including Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor), and I grew up watching her write and publish. Thus, professional writing always seemed very possible to me.

I studied English literature for four years at various colleges and universities, and when I left school, I wrote my first novel the following summer. Well, I say my "first," but in reality, it was probably more like my seventh. The difference being that this was the first novel I wrote with the intention of selling. All the others were practice! After a certain number of rewrites, I found my agent, Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency within a year. Within a year after that, she sold Heartless to Bethany House Publishers. A year after that (and many more rewrites later!), I held the hard copy of my published novel in my hands. It was quite the whirlwind!

I’m glad you and your agent persevered! What is an ideal writing setting?

Somewhere without windows. I am far too easily distracted! I used to enjoy writing in the sunroom of our house . . . but spent MUCH too much time looking out at our garden or the pretty bamboo forest on the edge of our property. Then I started seeing all the wild cats living in our neighborhood, and suddenly I wasn't writing, but working with lost kitties and finding them homes . . . which is fun, but not literarily productive! So, these days I work in the dining room, my back to all the windows, and I tend to get a lot more accomplished.

Cute black kitten on manuscript - belongs to Anne Elisabeth
To complete the picture, I like to have a nice-sized mug of tea (dainty teacups don't hold enough to fuel my creative inspiration), specifically the mug that was the very first gift my husband bought me back before we were officially dating. It's darling (and yes, I'm a romantic).

To that, add a cat in the lap and a dog at my feet, and I'm ready to go!

Sounds like a cozy spot to work. Your stories are filled to overflowing with fantasy, history, adventure and allegory. What authors, images and experiences inspired you?

SO MANY! It's hard to limit the number of inspiring authors to a reasonable-sized answer! Of course, I adore C.S. Lewis. I also love George MacDonald, Tolkien, and Madeline L'Engle. I thoroughly enjoy the YA fantasies of Robin McKinley, Shannon Hale, and Gail Carson Levine. Recently, I've been reading Shakespeare again, and Victor Hugo, and finding both of them inspiring in VERY different ways! Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones might be my all-time favorites when it comes to curl-up-with-a-cozy-novel writers; and I would love to be Megan Whalen Turner when I grow up!

As for experiences . . . any experience can (and often does) turn into inspiration for my work. Oddly, many of the most inspiring experiences have been the most ordinary in real life.

Wooden bridge over stream in woods
While attending my last year of university, I used to run away from homework and go down to the Nature Walk where there was a secluded wooden bridge over a dirt-brown stream, and there I would sit, sometimes for an hour at a time, pretending I had no responsibilities (and hiding in the bushes if anyone else came by, for I was a very private person). That image found its way into Heartless.

Playing "battle" with my brothers when I was growing up, throwing acorns as missiles, turning sticks into swords, trees into fortresses . . . all of that found its way into Veiled Rose.

Watching God work miracles in my life, then forgetting and doubting all over again when the next struggle comes around . . . this all-too-frequent experience found its way into Moonblood, and formed a huge part of that story.

The exciting trips abroad, the successes, the glamorous occasions almost universally have proved uninspiring when it comes to shaping my fiction. It's the simple, the everyday, the human experiences that provide the magic almost every time.

So many good authors, I love Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine’s YA fantasies. Did you plan on writing a series when you started?

That's actually a question with kind of a funny answer. Yes, I did plan a series . . . but no, I did not intend for Heartless to be part of that series! I had been working on ideas for the Tales of Goldstone Wood since I was about fourteen. But most of them I found rather too large and unwieldy for my inexperienced hands to grasp. So I shelved them through college, studied literature, and then came out the other side determined to write something unrelated to that series.

cover of Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
I wrote the first draft of Heartless. And I realized that this stand-alone book was actually the perfect gateway into the much broader series I had in mind. While the other stories were so complicated, Heartless was deceptively simple. While they dealt with enormous themes I didn't quite yet understand, Heartless grapples with very relatable human emotions.

So I redrafted Heartless to fit my series, and everything else I had tried to write back in high school suddenly took on a form and structure it had lacked before.

I often think of Heartless as God's gift to me. The idea for the story sprang up very suddenly, wrote itself very quickly, and found a publisher fast enough to make my head spin! It was all obviously God's timing and God's work . . . and I do believe He has plan for the rest of the series as well.

That’s neat that the ideas from years ago are being brought to life now. I wondered how you could make it all fit together so nicely. 
Starflower, the next book in the series, comes out in the fall and tells a bit about the history of Goldstone Wood. Can you tell us a bit about the next book you’re working on?

cover of Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Well, I am currently working on a near-final read-through of Starflower, making certain it's in good condition before it goes to print. Then I am waiting on my editor's response to Book 5, which picks up where Starflower leaves off. I am actually writing the first draft of Book 6, which continues the story of Prince Lionheart from where he ends up in Moonblood . . . but which will connect back to the storylines of Book 5.

It's complicated to type out here, but it will make sense when you read it! And I'm having tremendous fun with it all. You can expect in Book 6 to see Lionheart, Lady Daylily, cousin Foxbrush, the evil Baron of Middlecrescent, and many more familiar characters from the first three novels. And yes, you might catch a glimpse of Rose Red as well . . .

Oh, I can’t wait to read them all and find out what happens to everyone! Lastly, where can readers find you online?

They can read my author blog,, and see my various doings from there. I just hosted a Fan Art contest and will soon be displaying the original works of art, all Goldstone Wood related, done by my various talented fans! I'm also currently writing a blog series about famous fairies in fiction, including Tinkerbelle, Ariel, Queen Crosspatch, the Sugarplum Fairy, and many, many more! You'll also find random tidbits about my stories, thoughts on the writing life, rather too much about cats, a smidgen of baking . . . all sorts of random things!

You can also find me on my facebook author page under Anne Elisabeth Stengl. And I love to receive emails from my readers if they have any questions or comments they'd like to send my way!

Thank you for hosting this interview for your lovely blog, Katharina. These were fun questions!

Thank you, Anne Elisabeth for all your in depth answers! I loved learning more about how the series came to be.

And might I add that I love her blog, the current series on fairies and last fall’s series on dragons are quite informative. I also really enjoyed learning more about Goldstone Wood through the A-Z series she did on Veiled Rose earlier this year.

And now for the giveaway! One person will receive ONE BOOK (or ebook) of THEIR CHOICE from the Tales of Goldstone Wood series: Heartless, Veiled Rose, or Moonblood.

Tales of Goldstone Wood series: Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Read the Goodreads summaries or my review of Veiled Rose to help you decide.

International entries are welcome but depending on shipping costs will be limited to an ebook.

Giveaway ends May 2st at 12:01am. The winner will be notified by email (and mentioned on the blog) and will have a week to respond with the title of their choice. If I don’t hear back from you by then, I’ll pick another winner.

How to enter:
Please use the Rafflecopter form! The mandatory entry is to leave a comment answering this question: Who is your favorite fairy tale or fantasy character? (You can have more than one favorite.) 
There are two optional extra entries: Like the Rina’s Reading Facebook page and be a GFC (Google Friend Connect) follower.

Top Ten Favorite Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I know today is Wednesday and no longer Tuesday, but yesterday (and the day before) was quite busy and I didn’t have a chance to write this post.

Top Ten Favorite Characters

1 – 3. Old Shatterhand, Winetou and Old Surehand from the many books by Karl May
My dad would read the book and then retell the story to us at night. When I was old enough I read many of Karl May’s books myself and loved them. He is a very famous German author who wrote in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Even though the books are written as though the narrator (author) experienced all the adventures himself, Karl May never traveled to most of the places he wrote about.

4. Reepicheep from Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

The noblest mouse that ever appeared in print. My dad read the whole series to us when we were in elementary school and if I remember correctly my sister and I cried when Reepicheep said farewell and went over the wave at the World’s End.

Do enjoy this clip from the 2008 movie:

5. Sir Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

What acting! What cunning! What daring! What secrets! What charm! What wit! What boldness!

6. Fritz from Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

I loved this book in middle school and enjoyed the Disney movie as well. I actually don’t remember anything specific Fritz did in the book but he’s rather cute in the movie. ;)

7. Valancy from The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
If you only had a year to live what would you do? Valancy decides she’s going to start speaking her mind and stop doing what her family expects. So off she goes to propose marriage to the unlikeliest of men.

8. Rose Red from VeiledRose and Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

You know there’s more to Rose Red than meets the eye. She’s small and frail but incredibly strong. She’s kind and loyal and brave. And somehow her life is important to the powerful forces in the Far World.

9. Corrie Belle Hollister from the Series the Journals of Corrie Belle Holister by Michael Phillips
I really enjoyed this series and watching Corrie grow up.

10. Anne Shirley from the series by L.M. Montgomery
“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.” ~ Anne of Green Gables

Saturday, April 21, 2012

News and Updates

As you probably already noticed I now have a (slightly) new look to my blog! Isn't the banner image / title image / that picture up top nice? Many thanks to my friend, N. for designing and drawing it for me!

Today I also created a Facebook page for my blog. Hopefully my fb friends haven't gotten tired of me posting links to my reviews for the past three months. :) Now they have an option. I'd love it if you'd like my page as well! 
Through the page I've also "liked" several other great authors and bloggers that you should check out.

Follow Me on PinterestOver the past few months I came across a number of articles about pinterest and blogging. For the uninformed, pinterest is kind of like an online pin board where people can "pin" pictures that other people have pinned or that they find on the web. Each picture is linked back to its original website. Here are some of them: 
I also discovered several authors were on pinterest and they have some lovely boards. Make sure you take a look at the board Jamie Carie (author of The Guardian Duke) created for that book. Jamie's Pinterest Profile Another author with several fabulous boards is Laura Frantz: Her Pinterest Profile She has a board for each of several of her books and I love her Exquisite history...dress board. And if you're curious, here's my pinterest profile. Although, let me warn you, unless you're careful this can be quite addicting.
And a heads up for Thursday through Tuesday! I'll be participating in a blog hop giveaway that you won't want to miss!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic, 2008. 374p. (9780439023528)

The Hunger Games. Most everyone has heard of it. Many have strong opinions about it. Some have seen the movie. Some refuse to see the movie. Why has it created such a debate?

That’s simple. Because it tells the story of a girl in a society that allows twenty four of its children to be placed in an arena where they must fight to the death.

Just a friendly warning, this post is much longer than what I usually write. And I promise to do my best not to include any spoilers. I really didn’t know much about the story before reading it. I saw the trailer for the movie, read World Magazine’s review of the movie and read few if any reviews of the book.

A friend wanted my opinion on the book otherwise I’m not sure if I would have read it. Maybe I would have. But then I’ve never read any Harry Potter…

At the beginning, the reaping – which is when the participants or the tributes as they are called are chosen for the Hunger Games,  reminded me of the USSR and other communist countries which take young kids who show athletic prowess and place them in special training schools. Honor, riches and fame await them if they win. But in the HG, the kids won’t go back home alive if they fail.

I don’t quite know why, but it’s disturbing to read about a controlling government reigning over what once was America and Canada. Panem (Pan Am…?) is the new nation – one shining Capitol and twelve Districts surrounding it. There were thirteen originally, but District Thirteen was obliterated after a rebellious uprising that all the Districts participated in.

Which is why the Hunger Games were created. As a reminder “that the Dark Days [the uprising of the Districts] must never be repeated.” (pg. 18) There have been 74 Hunger Games. Seventy-four times one boy and one girl from each district has been chosen to participate in the game – a game where there is one victor and 23 victims. That’s 1702 children ages 12-18 who have died.

Taking kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch – this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. “Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen.”
To make it humiliating as well as torturous, the Capitol requires us to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity, a sporting event pitting every district against the others. (pg. 18-19)

The reading level of the above quote is 8th grade according to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test that Microsoft Word can do. Scholastic says this book’s interest level is 6th – 8th grade, it has a grade level equivalent of 5.3 and a Lexile® measure of 810L – which means 4th graders would be able to read and comprehend this book.

Sorry for all the numbers, I did my master’s thesis on the readability of the Newbery Award winners and find this interesting. Now I know those numbers and tests only measure how easy a text is and thus what grade a child probably will be in when he/she is a proficient enough reader to understand the text. It doesn’t measure how suitable a story is for the reader.

Whatever happened to the children and youth stories such as Tom Sawyer, Little Women, Peter Rabbit, Treasure Island, Smokey the Cow Horse, Black Beauty, Johnny Tremain, Carry On Mr. Bowditch, etc.? When did children’s literature or young adult lit turn toward tales where teens kill other teens? And that said murder is sanctioned and encouraged?

But then again, how is the Hunger Game any different from any war stories, cowboy and Indian tales, or pirate adventures? In those adventures someone usually had to kill to survive. The guard’s throat is slit so the prisoner(s) can escape, a bandit after the gold is going to kill someone if he isn’t taken care of first, and the cabin boy kidnapped by pirates had better participate in the next raid if he doesn’t want to become a shark’s dinner.

There is a difference. In those cases the deaths were not sanctioned and encouraged, the setting was not created and manipulated by the governing forces – the deaths in the above scenarios were (unfortunately) from self-preservation and “necessity.”

But wait you cry. In the HG arena it’s also out of self-preservation and necessity. Well, yes and no. If it weren’t for the existence of the HG twenty three children would keep their life each year. The event is a display of power and control. A show to keep the people cowering in fear and toeing the line to the regime.

Fortunately the deaths (prior to page 194 and a bit beyond) are all “off page” except for one and the reader doesn’t really know those kids. Later of course it’s inevitable that the reader knows some of them more and “witness” when they die.

The story does grab your attention and makes you ask ‘what is going to happen next?’ and ‘how is she going to survive?’. I’ve heard some people say the story affirms the value of life in that (I’m guessing) the main character cared for individuals and didn’t really want to kill anyone. Mmmm, perhaps, but there are better ways to tell a story that affirms the value of life.

This story reminds me of those books in high school that you had to read, discuss, dissect and evaluate. Books like The Scarlet Letter or Catcher in the Rye or The Lord of the Flies. I’ve only read the first one of those three and didn’t like it – both the story and having to find the deeper themes. 

The Hunger Games is a book to be thought about, not something to be read lightly. Only read it if you want to know what everyone is talking about, it’s not a “great” (eminent, distinguished; markedly superior in character or quality – Merriam-Webster) book, but it’s interesting.

Going to read it? I’m sure it’s at almost every library, or avoid the wait and buy it from B&N.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Amazing free eBook

I can't begin to say how much fun the Tales of Goldstone Woods are. Such an imaginative, complex world and characters. It's beyond me how anyone writes fantasy and comes up with the world in which the stories take place.

A while back I posted my review of book two of the series, Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. And book three is currently in my bag waiting to be read. Sadly it's been a busy week/weekend and I haven't had any time to read. :(

If you haven't read book one yet, then the powers to be (of Amazon and ChristianBook) are smiling upon you. Because it's currently available for free:

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Reg Price: $???
(supported devices: desktop/laptop, iPad/iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, nook, Sony)

From Amazon
Reg Price: $14.99

Summary from Goodreads:
Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon marry. She dreams of a charming prince, but when her first suitor arrives, he's not what she'd hoped. Prince Aethelbald of mysterious Farthestshore has travelled a great distance to prove his love--and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be on the hunt and blazing a path of terror.

Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald's offer--and ignores his cautions with dire consequences. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in his sights. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Enchanted Castle. By E. Nesbit

The Enchanted Castle. by E. Nesbit. Audiobook via (First published in 1907)

What a fun story! I wanted a fun, light story to listen to while driving and this certainly fit the bill. But it also has quite the adventure and wasn’t precisely what I expected. I must not have completely read the summary on the website because I thought it would be like The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West, or any of the Famous Five stories by Enid Blyton.

I was in for a pleasant surprise. While it is about three siblings who are stuck at school over the holidays, they don’t just have the “usual” adventure of catching a crook or solving a mystery. What makes this story different is that The Enchanted Castle really is enchanted and magic really does exist there. Statues come to life in the moonlight, wishes come true, and … well, I don’t want to give away any surprises. Needless to say, Jerry, Jimmy and Cathy and their friend Mable find themselves in quite the adventure and several scrapes.

The only other story by E. Nesbit that I have read is The Railway Children (great story!) and she is an excellent story teller and the kids say quite droll things:
Lawyers make you tell everything you know at trials, and a lot of lies besides.
I laughed many times and grinned many times more. Almost each chapter leaves you wondering what on earth will happen next. The only time I got lost was during the last chapter.

I enjoyed everything except the ending – but that’s because it was very late and I was driving to my final destination (I had stopped for a visit elsewhere when I had just 20 minutes left of the story). So when I resumed the story I was trying to pay attention to street signs (made two wrong turns) and wasn’t able to follow some of the descriptions in the climactic scene. So it's really my own fault that I didn't enjoy the last part of the final chapter. But it's a good ending, I liked how the ends were tied up.

I don’t usually listen to audio books; this actually might have been my first one. But I had a long car drive and this made it go quite quick. At first I thought the reader enunciated too much, but then I didn’t notice it. Make sure you explore the website Books Should Be Free because they have lots of fabulous books that are now in the public domain available for download as ebooks or audio books.

Go listen to it! Books Should Be Free

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall

The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall. Barbour, 2008. 318p. Series: Charles Towne Belles, #1 (9781602601567)

I think I saw the last two books in this series mentioned on some other blogs so I decided to get book one to see if I liked it. Well, I should have gotten books two and three at the same time. It’s a very unique story. A woman who is a pirate by night and a lady by day.

Faith Westcott is the second oldest daughter of Rear Admiral Westcott of the British Royal Navy. Yet she is also the elusive captain of the pirate ship Red Siren. Who never sheds any blood and goes after rich cargo.

Why does a lady resort to piracy? Especially when the punishment for pirates is the hangman's noose. Simple, she loves the sea, its freedom and is desperate for the money.

Why is a lady whose father is an admiral so desperate for money? Because money equals independence for a woman and that she is determined to have. She does not want the same fate her older sister endures – a forced marriage to cad. Not for herself and not for her two younger sisters. Not if she can do anything about it.

Enter Dajon Waite (terrible name in my opinion, I can’t believe it’s authentic to the time). Captain Waite is a fairly new, but strong Christian who has sworn off women. Unfortunately he has been appointed guardian over the Westcott sisters while their father is away and he’s quite taken with Faith whose shallow faith has been abandoned. But as a captain in the Royal Navy his job it is to track down pirates, particularly the Red Siren.
Charleston Harbor, SC
Charleston Harbor, SC

The story is set in 1718 Charles Town, Carolina and I really enjoyed learning more about the city in that time. My pre-revolutionary war southern colonies history is a bit rusty. M.L. Tyndall does a great job describing the city, its people, and aspects of life back then.

The story started out a bit slow – I read a bit, put it down, and then picked it up before bedtime thinking I’d read a bit while eating a snack. Not a good idea; it got too exciting and too what’s-going-to-happen-next to put down.

There was a aspect (can’t tell you more) that seemed rather far-fetched but it is a great picture of the love God has for us – he forgives us of all our gross trespasses when we confess and repent.

If you like adventure, a strong female character, pirates, and colonial America then you’ll probably enjoy this tale.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my church library. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thought provoking article

I'm a facebook fan of Dannah Gresh and this morning she shared a link to an excellent article on her blog (someone else wrote the post). Now before I share some quotes and the link let me tell you a bit about Dannah and her work.

Dannah is a speaker, writer, mom, and wife. She is a passionate Christian who is in awe of Christ's forgiveness and love. She also is quite funny.
image of Dannah Gresh with her dog
Dannah's passion is purity. She uses her "healing to equip teens to live lives of purity and heal from moments of past impurity. The Lord has expanded my ministry to coaching moms to raise pure, whole daughters!" (Meet Dannah Gresh) To that end she started Secret Keeper Girl and Pure Freedom.
Pure Freedom logo

The mission of Pure Freedom is: It is the mission of Pure Freedom to equip men and women of all ages to live a vibrant life of purity, to experience healing from past impurity if it exists in their lives and to experience a vibrant, passionate marriage which portrays the love Christ has for his Bride the church.

But without further ado here are some quotes from the article: What's Your Porn? by Jacqueline Gardner
...the brain’s deep limbic system is the primary sex organ. Believe it or not, viewing romantic media content affects your brain. Dannah’s research for one of her books led her to discover a biological component in exposure to romantic film content. (Ever watched a romantic movie with sexual nuances and then found yourself craving your/a husband?) Both men and women viewers experienced changes in progesterone and testosterone levels, indicating that media content alters the endocrine environment and hormones, at least temporarily.
Maybe it’s a stretch to compare chick flicks and romance novels to porn. Or maybe not. Beth Spraul believes that whereas porn targets men visually, the lies told to women are introduced emotionally. She says that things like chick flicks and ‘chick-lit’ “take a good gift from God [romance, relational intimacy] that women are created to desire, and distort it…And just like men buy into the lies of pornography, women who believe their husbands and marriages should always be like what they see on the screen will be sinfully dissatisfied with God’s good gift to them of a ‘normal’ husband and marriage.”
Problem is that girl porn leaves my body aroused but my heart unsatisfied. It has nothing to do with real love or real sex. (For those of you who’ve read What Are You Waiting For, it’s shakab but no yada.) No knowing, seeking, or respecting. Just the physical. Just me and my gratification. Just a counterfeit. Lust takes. Love gives.
Do you struggle with girl porn? Are you exposing yourself to romantic content (movies, TV, books, music, conversation) that leaves you dissatisfied? Pulling you further away from your husband instead of closer to him? Causing you to fantasize or masturbate? Doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, or a mom. The Enemy uses the same tricks.
Makes you think, doesn't it.

Dannah's best selling books include:
423313: What Are You Waiting For? The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex What Are You Waiting For? The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex
If you're a young woman (age 16 +) longing for true love, you can find the answers to your unspoken questions about intimacy and sex. In what are you waiting for?, author Dannah Gresh directly confronts wrong ideas prevalent in our culture today and explains why a casual attitude toward sex results in pain and disappointment. Paperback.
I highly, highly recommend this book. Not just for young women. I think guys would profit from reading it as well. And this is the book that Jacqueline referenced in her article.

83442: And The Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity (Celebration Edition) And The Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity (Celebration Edition)
Best-selling author Dannah Gresh shares the seven most important secrets to sexual purity. She challenges young women to set and maintain high standards, to value their virginity and to make a commitment to Christ for a sexually pure lifestyle.

945790: Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy
How can you teach your tween son to be honest, confident, and respectful when the world encourages him to make bad decisions and grow up too fast? The Greshes offer six proactive ways to help your boy honor his body, play unplugged, and live out his faith. Includes a Connection IQ inventory test, activity ideas, and Scripture prayers. 208 pages, softcover from Harvest.

929790: Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl
When the world wants girls to grow up too fast, how do you help your daughter navigate boy craziness, modesty, body image, media, and Internet safety? The foundation for an emotionally healthy teen girl is built between the ages of 8 and 12. Mothers of tween girls can direct and guide their daughters by developing a close relationship with them. In Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl, Dannah Gresh shares six ways to help you grow confident, godly young women. Also included is a quiz to test your relationship, fun activities to do together, and Scriptures to use in prayer. Paperback.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Maire by Linda Windsor

Maire: Fires of Gleannmara by Linda WindsorMaire by Linda Windsor. Multnomah, 2000. 355p. Series: Fires of Gleannmara, #1

When I saw this on Goodreads and ChristianBooks the cover caught my attention and the description captured it. I didn’t even look for it at the public library (although I’ve since learned that it’s there) and instead bought it. I rarely buy a book, but this was only 99 cents. :-) And it’s certainly worth all 99 pennies.

A fanciful, romantic tale of passion and faith that invites readers to the "God-graced mountains and plains" of Ireland. Maire, Gleannmara's warrior queen, finds her fierce heart is gentled when she takes a reformed mercenary -- a Christian, no less -- as hostage during a raid. At first she wonders what kind of God would make a fine warrior like Rowan of Emerys such a coward. But as she comes to know Rowan and witnesses the force of his beliefs, she learns that meekness and humility to the one true God are stronger than any blade of steel. And in the process, Maire discovers the transforming power of love and faith.

My review:
The story takes place in fifth-century Ireland and I really enjoyed learning more about early Irish Christianity. The author did a lot of research and includes a bibliography at the end of the book for those interested in learning more.

In honor of Easter weekend I wanted to share this brief excerpt from the book. One of the druids who became a Christian is explaining that Christianity is not a completely foreign concept:
image of Celtic cross with trees in the background[One of Ireland’s most beloved rulers was Conn. He had been injured in war and was warned against over exerting himself.] One day, a few years after when Conn saw how the sun turned dark in the sky, he summoned his magi to explain it. The druids who studied the heaven and stars told him that the King of all kings had been executed on a tree by his own people, and the one true God in the sun turned off its light in His grief. The kindhearted Conn was so moved and outraged that he took vengeance on the sacred grove of oaks, smiting the mighty and ancient trees until he collapsed in death and despair. (pg.232)

Maire is a warrior queen whose parent’s realm is being managed by the greedy Morlach until she comes of age. Raised alongside two foster brothers she has been trained to be queen, to be a strong warrior. Thus she is uncertain how to let others – certainly a man as attractive, strong and kind as Rowan, help her. I loved how Maire slowly learns how to be a good queen and a woman.

But Maire isn’t the only one learning lessons. Rowan struggles with memories and scars from his youth that he must confront and overcome. Forgiveness, trusting God and discerning His will are no easy matters when you’ve been uprooted from your home.

There is a fair amount of kissing and passion, the reader knows what’s going to happen but isn’t told. But there is a lot of restraint as well. Rowan fights hard to honor the 7th commandment (don’t commit adultery) which is so neat.

A great mix of adventure, action, love (several types), and friendship. 4.5 stars

Go read it! It’s only 99¢ at CBD; Wake County (NC); Greene County (OH); Find it at a library near you

Did you find this review helpful? Please rank it! (Anyone who ranks reviews is entered into a drawing by Multnomah and Blogging for Books.)

Disclosure: I bought this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Great Free Reads on Amazon - April 6

There are several great and fun ebooks available for free at Amazon currently! As always, double check the price before you click buy now. I don't know how long these will be available for free.

Reg price: $14.99
Currently: free 
So many people have raved about this book, although I haven't read it myself I trust that it's definitely worth your while.

Reg price: $14.99
Currently: free

Reg price: $14.99
Currently: free

cover of A Texan's Honor by Shelley Gray
Reg price: $14.99
Currently: free
I enjoyed this story, you can read my review here.

Many thanks to my friend who posted a link on facebook to Money Saving Mom informing me about the Francis Chan books and many thanks to Christian Fiction Book Reviews and their daily post about Amazon free deals.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A fun bookish short film

I came across this fun and poignant short film today and thought you might enjoy it as well. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore:

Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals. Morris Lessmore is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Top Ten Books to Read in a Day

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books (I'd like to be able) to Read In A Day

I can usually read any novel under 400 pages in a day, so I'm modifying this to Top Ten books that I'd like to be able to read in a day and then be able to say that I read them. These aren't in any order of preference or importance.

625 pages

776 pages

1208 pages

2016 pages

591 pages

1392 pages

500 pages

1285 pages

28 books an average of 300 pages each
(I read all of them in middle school and high school, but would like to reread them and write down what historical events take place in which book and what history stories are told by Mr. Dinsmore or Capt. Raymond in which book.)

768 pages

Free on Amazon - April 3

There are several good books available for free from Amazon today (at least, maybe even tomorrow - I don't know for how long the deal runs). Many thanks to Christian Fiction Book Reviews for pointing several of these out!

Reg price: $14.99
Currently: Free
I've read this and enjoyed it.

Reg price: $13.99
Currently: Free
I haven't read it but this series sounds fun.

Reg price: $14.99
Currently: Free
Last week I read book 2 in the series, A Texan's Honor and enjoyed it, so I was happy to see that I could get book 1 for free! :-)

I don't know how long these will be available for free, so double check the price before you click Buy Now.
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