I am a warrior and a member of a team. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade . . . I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life . . . I am an American Soldier. ~from The Soldier’s Creed~
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same ~Ronald Reagan~
Remember the fallen and say a prayer for those who are still in harm’s way. Blessings on this Memorial Day, my friends!
Archives For May 2012
How can we be happier in life? By practicing gratitude for all God has given us.
In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. ~Brother David Steindl-Rast~
I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. How I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment. ~Henry David Thoreau~
Here are some favorite things that tweaked my gratitude meter recently . . .
God’s beautiful creation. This is the view that greets me each morning as I travel the Taconic Parkway to school. Upstate New York on the verge of summer is a sight to behold. Love the blue Catskill Mountains in the background.
Parties at the nursing home. This pic shows my sister, Mom, me, and my little niece Amelia having a great time on Mother’s Day.
Time spent with friends. I met two dear former students for coffee as they were passing through New York. Miss them . . .
Time off! I can pause in my essay-grading to enjoy an extra-long weekend break. Time to write and watch old episodes of NCIS. How fun is that?
How ’bout you? What’s brought a smile to your heart recently?
Need some suggestions on which books the teens in your life would love? Let us help. Recently, I asked my students to share their picks for the best inspirational books for young people. And, yes, since by this time of the school year I’m pretty tired, I am shamelessly using my students to help me generate blog posts! Sooo . . . today’s book recommendation is courtesy of Layla.
Layla is a mature-for-her-years 8th grader. She makes straight A’s, plays sports, and plans to be a Navy pilot. She’s been all over the world with her parents and with a summer student ambassador program. She regularly attends galas and other social events. Though she loves to read, she can be tough to please. This year I’ve seen her zip through The Hunger Games Trilogy and several true-life military stories. When she came to me looking for new reading material, I gave her There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones.
What was Layla’s reaction to the story? I gave her the book on a Friday. Sunday afternoon, she messaged me through Facebook three times, “I’m almost done . . . I don’t want it to end . . . Finished. Loved the book!” That Monday, when I asked what she loved, she told me lots of spoilers. But what I can share is that . . .
- The book was a page-turner.
- Her favorite character was handsome heartthrob Beckett.
- A pure love story is “the best kind ever.”
- Finley seemed like a girl she could be friends with.
- And she loved what Finley learned about God, herself, and her brother in the end.
- After reading the book, Layla decided that maybe she should work at knowing God better, too.
Layla also told me that though we’ve read The Hiding Place and Through Gates of Splendor in English class, she had never read Christian fiction books before. Now she can’t get enough of them. She raided my classroom stash and took home House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson. Then she looked up Jenny’s other books and asked me to bring in Just Between You and Me. She recently finished I’m So Sure (which we call the cow book). Tomorrow I’m bringing her So Over My Head.
Considering the types of entertainment most kids encounter—I pray that this inspirational reading binge will last her lifetime. And it all started with one sweet story. Want to find out what Layla loved so much? You can purchase a copy of There You’ll Find Me at this link.
Here’s Amazon’s book blurb for the story: Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She’s witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will.
She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will’s travel journal. It’s the place he felt closest to God, and she’s hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane.
Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She’s the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.
Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise? Then she experiences something that radically changes her perspective on life. Could it be God convincing her that everything she’s been looking for has been with her all along?
About the author in her own words: “I write Christian fiction with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy. My novels include the Katie Parker Production series, A Charmed Life series, and my first contemporary romance, Just Between You and Me. I would also like to take credit for Twilight , but somewhere I think I read you’re not supposed to lie. When I’m not typing my heart out (or checking email), I teach at a super-sized high school in Arkansas.” You can find Jenny at this website.
Need some suggestions on which books the teens in your life would love? Let us help. Recently, I asked my students to share their picks for the best inspirational books for young people. Today’s choice is courtesy of a sweet sophomore named Alissa.
Alissa approaches life with joyful enthusiasm. She maintains an A average, sings in our chapel choir, plays every girls’ sport, volunteers for community service, and takes part in school plays and concerts. Her heart is tender towards God, and her passion for Him inspires me.
I enjoy having Alissa in my English class because we both respond to the power of stories. And another interest we have in common, Alissa loves to write. She wants to be an author and is working on an epic fantasy. So when she came to me looking for reading material, I knew just what to pull off the shelf—Sharon Hinck’s The Restorer.
To say Alissa loved this book would be an understatement. Alissa lived this book. She lost herself in the story. As she devoured the novel during study halls, she would periodically burst out with, “Now that’s a game changer” or “Wow, I really didn’t see that coming” or “I love this part. I have to read it again.” Each time she saw me she would say, “By the way, this is the best book ever.”
What drew her in? She enjoyed picking out similarities between The Restorer and the Old Testament—the elements that brought to mind the twelve tribes of Judah, the divided kingdom, and the work of the prophets. She especially loved how the Lord was woven through every part of the story and considers author Sharon Hinck on par with JRR Tolkien and better than Christopher Paolini. She fell in love with a character named Tristan—part guardian, part avenging angel—and even chose an actor to play him.
After finishing this expanded edition, Alissa hung onto my copy so she could delve into the devotions, songs, recipes, and other bonus material. She now has my book two but has added all three books to her wish list because she wants to own them for herself.
So what are you waiting for? I bet you or someone you know would enjoy this story. Follow this link to buy The Restorer for the fantasy-lovers in your life.
About the author: Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a home-school mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime she’s pouring her imagination into writing. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel in 2006. In April, 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
Alissa’s favorite recipe from the book: Tara’s Pepper Soup
- Saute your choice of veggies in butter
- Add 2 cups of diced chicken
- Add 2 cups cream of potato soup
- Flavor with Worcestershire Sauce
- Don’t forget the cracked pepper!
Do right. Fear nothing.
These simple words sum up the moral code that guides Sam Hopkins, the teenage hero of Andrew Klavan’s Crazy Dangerous.
Sam is a preacher’s kid from a loving family, whose mom, dad, and brother are all a little too busy to spend time with him. When he is tapped by the biggest troublemaker in school to become part of a bad-boy entourage, he feels cool for the first time in his life. Initially, his bad choices lead to a dilemma that only affects himself. Then he stumbles upon a plot so evil he must risk his life to save his town.
This novel is a thrill ride sure to please readers from young adult on up. From the moment I opened the book, I became lost in the adventure as Sam struggles to make sense of the crazy, dangerous tangle his life has become. And one of the things I love most about this story is how Sam learns to look past the trappings of social standing and popularity, recognize the bullies of the world for who they really are, and stand up to them.
But after reaching the end—which was even more exciting than the beginning—I briefly wondered if a boy Sam’s age would have been so quick-thinking, sacrificial, and courageous. I ran down the list of young men I’ve taught in my twenty-five years of working at a Christian high school. My conclusion? Yup! Many of the boys who once sat in my classroom definitely followed Sam’s moral code in their youth and were ready even then to stand for right. Now, they’ve moved on to raise families, serve their country in Iraq and Afghanistan, and become leaders in their communities.
So this book holds a special place in my heart because the humble hero reminds me of those guys. I wish there were more like them—and Sam—on the world stage today!
***Thanks to Litfuse for providing a copy for me to review. You can purchase Crazy Dangerous at this link.
About the author: Andrew Klavan was hailed by Stephen King as “the most original novelist of crime and suspense since Cornell Woolrich.” He is the recipient of two Edgar Awards and the author of such bestsellers as True Crime and Don’t Say a Word.
His books and screenplays have been turned into films directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Michael Douglas, Ed Burns, Michael Caine among others. Hometown: Santa Barbara, California Books Sold to Date: over 1.5 million. For more about Andrew and his books for young adults, visit him at the Adventure Page on Facebook.
Celebrate with Andrew Klavan by entering his Crazy Dangerous giveaway and connecting with him during the Author Chat Party on 5/29!
- A $100 Visa Cash Card
- A copy of Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan for YOU and 5 of your Friends!
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on May 28th. Winner will be announced at the “Crazy Dangerous” Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/29. Andrew will be hosting an Author Chat, testing your survival trivia skills, giving away books and gift certificates to iTunes and Amazon.com! Don’t miss a second of the “danger”!
Grab your copy of Crazy Dangerous and connect with Andrew on the evening of 5/29/12 for an author chat and lots of giveaways.
If you love sagas that feature multi-generations of plucky, conflicted heroines and provide sweeping portraits of bygone eras, Susan May Warren’s Daughters of Fortune series will give you that same feeling. For me, these books brought to mind Showboat, Giant, Forsyte Saga, Zoya, A Woman of Substance, even Downton Abbey, and all those richly-costumed, lose-yourself-in-the-story dramas from the golden age of TV mini-series.
The story begins in Heiress and continues with the next generation in Baroness. Set in the Roaring 20s, Baroness focuses on Rosie and Lilly, a pair of high society cousins whose family fortunes provide lives of ease. But the two girls want more. They set out searching for what makes life meaningful and end up in all the wrong places. We follow the girls’ adventures and misadventures from Paris to New York City to Chicago and the wilds of Montana as they pursue exotic careers.
Lilly becomes a wing walker on an airplane, and Rosie chases the dream of being a star on the silver screen. They rub shoulders with adventurers, baseball stars, pilots, and mobsters. Meanwhile, their families wait in the wings and hope for them to come to their senses. But the girls, for the most part, make disastrous decisions—until finally God gets through to one of them and we enjoy a half happy/half cliffhanger ending. Now I can’t wait for book three!
****Baroness is an eventful page-turner that will satisfy your dramatic cravings for quite some time! You can purchase Baroness at this link. Thanks to Litfuse for providing a copy for me to enjoy and review.
Celebrate with Susan by entering her Roaring 20s Giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
- A Kindle Fire
- Signed copies of Baroness and Heiress by Susan May Warren
But hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/7/12. The winner will be announced on 5/9/12 on Susan’s blog, Scribbles!
About the author: Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You! She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com.