Monday, May 19, 2014

Feeling like an author and writing book reviews

I went to an Oregon Christian Writer's Conference on Saturday--great talks, great food, great things to learn, and great people! But the highlights for me were:
  • When I put out my books on the bookstall, someone else came over and stood them up more visibly, as if I were a real author worthy of display.
  • When the keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, saw me, she remembered me! And
  • When Jane Kirkpatrick was speaking, she even mentioned me!!!!
Okay, so I didn't sell any books, but I did suddenly feel like a real author. And it was a truly wonderful day. I learned a lot, and hope I will use what I learned as I continue to write. (I also ate lots of gluten free food. Thank you OCW for catering so kindly to celiacs!)
 And thank you Jane Kirkpatrick for writing great books, speaking so compellingly, and being such an encouragement to people like me.

I did buy a book as well, but I've not read it yet. Still, here are brief reviews of books I have recently read, with the usual coffee recommendations. (They had good coffee at OCW too!)

Since OCW is a Christian writers' organization, I'll start with a Christian historical romance, River Oaks Plantation, By B. J. Robinson. Set in Louisiana, it weaves present-day Hurricane Katrina drama with Civil War slavery and resistance, creating a story with gentle touches of danger, always quickly resolved, and building tension through people honestly praying through all their trials. Where war and weather destroy, God guards a remnant of hope and sweet coincidence. Enjoy this tale with a sweet cup of two-star, lively, easy-drinking coffee.

Next is a beautifully illustrated children's picture book, with a wise lesson drawn from Judaism, Never say a mean word again, by Jacqueline Jules. The images are bright and inviting, with a gorgeous feel for culture, place and face. And the story's simple, intriguing and enjoyable, for adults as well as kids. A great lesson in not bullying, teaching how to make friends and influence people, this is a great book to share with kids, over, perhaps a perfectly balanced, smooth-flavored 3-star coffee.

Oh dear said the deer, by Sigal Adler is a sweet rhyming picture book with pleasing rhythm and a nice tale of animals coming to the aid of a friend. The pictures have a nice hand-crayoned feel. Enjoy with a lively, easy-drinking 2-star coffee.

And then there's The Pacifier Tree, by Uncle Amos, with bright inviting images of a more computer-generated kind. A small child sucks his pacifier too much, and his mom comes up with an interesting idea. The story ends rather abruptly with the sudden passage of time--but so does childhood I guess. Enjoy with a light crisp 1-star cup of coffee (and a cold drink for the child).

Returning to more adult themes, The seduction of a bluestocking, by Scarlett Rains, tells a complete historical romance, with undercurrents of threat to be explored in a later volume. A jilted woman and a widowed man meet over the education of a young girl in a world of Poor Law Reform, bluestocking activism, and the decline of privilege. Some delightfully humorous scenes keep the story light and entertaining, even while evil plots and human folly keep the protagonists from their love. And, of course, love wins in the end. Enjoy with a lively, easy-drinking 2-star cup of coffee.

Finally, heading off in a very different and definitely scary direction, Burning the Middle Ground, by L. Andrew Cooper, offers horror, mystery and shocks galore, in a story that offers readers an intriguing sense of discovery as the past behind present terror is slowly revealed in small-town America. With a truly scary ending, one can only hope there are more novels to come in the series. But this is classic horror fiction, best enjoyed with a seriously bold, dark, intense 5-star coffee.





1 comment:

Aaron Lazar said...

I love that feeling of realizing you are a "real" author. Strange how we need that validation from time to time. But rest assured, Sheila, you are a great writer and reviewer, and we all appreciate your multiple facets of talent and great humanity. ;o)