The Frozen Sky

At the beginning of this story, I felt disoriented and unconnected from the characters. I almost gave up on the book.

I’m glad I didn’t.  While the character development wasn’t as rich as I’d prefer, it got better.  The real strength of the piece, though, was the exploration of how two radically different cultures might interact at first contact (and how politics would play into that interaction).

Well worth reading.


I enjoyed this story about a young woman with a serious medical problem and the young man who befriends her at her new school even though it could have used a better copy edit.  It also leaned a bit too heavily on Twilight for my taste.

Still, a fun read with some interesting characters.

The Mind Readers

I enjoyed this dip into the life of a young woman who can tell what everyone around her is thinking.  I did find myself wondering why her grandma didn’t prepare her better for the world she was getting into, and why she was so quick to trust a pretty face–though that was explained (but not entirely to my satisfaction) later.

Still, it’s a fun, almost light–if any dystopian novel could be called light–read.  I may try to pick up the sequel if I get past my frustration with an ending that’s a blatant ad for the next book.

See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit

I meant to get a book on writing children’s lit from the library, but it wasn’t in, and this was near the empty spot in the stacks (with the “chick lit” part of the title conveniently covered by the library’s bar code). So I picked it up.

I’m glad I did. I’m not sure there’s any advice in here that I hadn’t already heard, but I loved the solid encouragement. Ms. Jacobs and Ms. Mlynowski keep their advice light, but practical, and they wrap the whole book in the attitude that writing novels (and getting them published) is an attainable career path. Maybe not an easy career path, but a possible one.

Plus, they do all this with wit and humor (made me laugh out loud at least twice–had to attempt to explain the jokes to J. and botched the translation–ah, the joys of a multicultural household). They included lots of good examples and a couple of lovely bibliographies, too.

Even though the publishing tips are outdated (it doesn’t even mention the possibility of self-publishing), I’d definitely recommend this to any writer friends who’d like a craft refresher or a pep talk.

Tread Softly on my Dreams

I picked this up long enough ago that when I waded into late eighteenth century Ireland, I had no idea what I was getting into.  My formal history of that time and place is so lacking that most of the names (including Robert Emmet’s) were unfamiliar, and all the events came as a complete surprise to me.

I was impressed with Ms. Browne’s rich characterization and her ability to make the world come alive as if it were happening right now.  The language and thinking patterns of the characters felt a touch modern to me, but I was impressed with the story-telling and the way Ms. Browne infused such a dark story with an underlying sense of undying hope.

At some point, I’ll probably go pick up the others in this series.

Sticks and Stones

Mandy, the heroine in this book, manages to work through an overwhelming burden of grief and guilt without that burden overwhelming the reader–or becoming trivialized. Granted, she’s got magical help, but still, it’s an impressive feat.

I’ll definitely be picking up more of Shawn Mcguire’s books in the future.


The main characters in this book dive into sand for treasures from the world that’s been buried under the dunes. They spend much of their lives buried, hardly able to breathe because of the weight of sand grinding in on them.

Much of the book, I felt like I, too, was buried, hardly breathing under the weight of that sand. I don’t know whether that’s genius or torture–or maybe both.

The ending comes as a bright, blessed, release. And considering what the ending is, that troubles me.

Anybody else bothered by their reaction to this book?

Trickster’s Girl

Another gift from the RMFW conference. This was well written and engaging. I enjoyed Ms. Bell’s Goblin War piece more, but I suspect that has less to do with the books themselves and more to do with my own preference for straight up fantasy than for Native-American-religion-tinged urban stuff. I also tend to get turned off by preachiness of any variety, and the environmental message here bordered on that a few times–not enough to make me dislike the book, but enough that I noticed it. Still, well worth the reading.

The Creative Life

Not strictly a book on writing–but a workbook for being creative as a believer. My Sunday school class at The Rising (I miss you guys more than I can say) went through this last year.

I appreciated the push to use our whole self (imagination included) in the service of our Lord. Creativity is a gift, not to be neglected, nor to be worshiped, but like other gifts, to be encouraged, exercised, and channeled toward deepening our relationship with God and with others.

While I tended to find the exercises annoying and pointless, many of the questions about our own processes and work as creative people were insightful and helped me think through my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I think I’m a bit stronger for that.

Every Living Thing

I’m usually more into novels than short stories; more into fantasy, sci-fi, romance and mystery than humor, but this collection was great fun.  The stories were just the right length to read while a child was occupied with a meal or a short computer game, and they kept me laughing when laughs were hard to come by. I appreciated the well-written prose and the immersion in a simpler time as well.

I have a bit more time for reading these days, so I’m back to novels, but I might still seek out another few of James Herriot’s short story collections.