You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2014.

Book update!

Let’s see, where did we leave off…oh yes, The Plague Dogs! I loved it, though still not as much as I did Watership Down. Adams castigates experimentation on animals without being preachy or tugging at the heartstrings too ostentatiously, which I appreciate. The characters (particularly the animal ones) are excellent, and I really enjoyed how Adams transliterated the tod’s Geordie accent. The book bogs down a little bit in the middle, but the ending is worth it: keep at it. Sprinkled along the way are plenty of startlingly apt observations about human nature that Adams seemingly tosses in as afterthoughts.

I’m a sucker for historical fiction, particularly historical fiction set during the French Revolution, and Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl did not disappoint! Stengl’s research is impeccable, and I never once felt jolted out of the story by something that felt anachronistic. The characters are all intriguing and do not fall into the stereotypes one sometimes runs across in historical fiction. Colette is a unique heroine, and one with whom I found myself empathizing strongly. The web of sibling relationships was well done, and each Girardeau to whom the reader is introduced was a fully fleshed-out individual. Though mostly serious, the novel did occasionally make me laugh: in particular I loved the line, “On the wall above his chair hung a still-life painting of a green-marbled cheese, unnaturally red apples, and a dead pheasant wearing a traumatized expression.” Also, I’m not sure if the Firefly reference (“disturbing my calm”) was intentional or not, but either way, I loved it. : ) Overall, a splendid read, and I’m avidly hoping that Jill Stengl has another novel in the works.

I found The Ship That Sailed to Mars by William Timlin in a glorious bookshop in Boulder, Colorado. How have I gone my whole life and not heard of this work of art? The story is a 1920s scifi fantasy that looks like the whole thing should be framed. The story itself is lovely, but the book also boasts some of the most beautiful illustrations I’ve ever seen. Some blessed soul put almost the whole thing online (though sadly without Timlin’s exquisite hand-lettered pages), so you have no excuse not to check it out. Read and wonder.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez had been on my to-read shelf for months, so I finally dove in. I have to say, I was disappointed. I’d heard it held up as this pinnacle of classic literature, worthy of being re-read every few years, and I just barely made it through once. I can’t even blame translation issues, since it wasn’t the wording or style that bothered me—that was admittedly good—it was the plot and characterization. I’m not a massive fan of magical realism anyway, so perhaps that colored my interpretation of the book, but that bias had nothing to do with the fatalistic view of life and morality that the book seems to endorse, as though the characters are doomed to commit certain sins, often repeated generationally. I find that theologically distasteful and inaccurate, but also literarily pretty dull. If you’re trying to shock me, Marquez, you would do well to mix it up a bit. By the time the novel meandered to its end (? I guess?), I was heartily ready to be done with the whole town and the Buendia family.

I finally, finally read the other stories in the Five Glass Slippers anthology (I know—bad, bad writer!) and enjoyed them immensely! Great job, ladies! Can’t wait for this little gem to be released out into the world on June 14th.

Advertisements

I know. It’s been an eternity without a proper post. I am without excuse.

To be fair, however, I am in the twitter-pated stage of a relationship, I’ve been working like a dog on various projects, and I’ve been traveling a lot. So I guess I have excuses, they’re just not great ones.

Everything cool I found on the internet is now obsolete, but I’ll probably post links anyway…eventually.

My trip to Colorado was exceptional! The conference itself went well overall (though there are always a few hiccups…one speaker didn’t show up until 4 minutes before she was scheduled to talk, so I was having a small heart attack by then, as you can well imagine). In the evenings after work, I found the Tattered Cover bookstore and explored the 16th Street mall.  I spent a few extra days in the state because I’ve always wanted to go to Colorado. I saw a picture of it when I was 3 and decided that I would live there in a log cabin when I grew up. I didn’t change that goal until more than a decade later, so it must have been one heck of a picture.

In my free time in CO, I hiked Rocky Mountain National Park, which was exquisite. I could’ve spent days just doing that, but unfortunately time was at a premium.

So fuzzy!

Anyone know what these things are?

But what ilk of elk?

Chilling with some elk.

I had an exciting time hiking the park; turns out the map that the rangers hand out at the gate is rather incomplete. I ended up on an unmarked trail and found myself on an unidentified mountain top with day drawing to a close.

Don't tell me you're not itching to explore.

Beautiful! If only I knew where I was…

But enjoying it.

So lost.


I finally ended up following my own trail back, since the loop I thought I was on was not, in fact, the loop I was on. Googling after the fact revealed that I was actually on a 13-mile trail that would have put me very, VERY far from my cute little rental car, so I’m glad I turned around when I did.

The next day I hiked Green Mountain near Boulder, Colorado. I love Boulder. I could easily live there. The hiking is great, and on the way down I almost stepped on a deer leg, which I’m told was an indication a mountain lion was nearby. Didn’t actually see one. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or glad about that. After that non-encounter, I went to the Boulder Bookstore, which is practically heaven, and then had lunch at Two Spoons Café, which was definitely heaven. I found an exquisite copy of William Timlin’s The Ship that Sailed to Mars, and even though it was huge and weighed a ton, I managed to fit it in my suitcase. Then I went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, which was fascinating. We walked into the mint room, which is basically a vault where they store all of their mint so that it doesn’t contaminate everything around it because the aroma is so strong. The menthol in the air immediately made everyone’s eyes water. The tour ended in the tea shop, so naturally you can imagine what else I had to cram in my suitcase when it came time to pack.

I had a pretty quiet day on Saturday and met a friend for coffee at Pablo’s. We had such a good time talking that there wasn’t a whole lot of time to do more after that, so I had a quiet evening in (working on editing and whatnot) and flew out the next day. I’d had a wonderful time in CO, but I was glad to get home—and even more so to find a certain young man waiting for me with flowers, in spite of my atrociously late arrival time. I’ll spare you the nauseatingly smitten gushings, but suffice it to say, I seem to have found myself a keeper.

Book updates, etc. to follow!

BlogLaunchTourBanner

I’m excited to be one stop along the way in a blog tour Jill Stengl is doing in honor of her new book, Until That Distant Day!

AuthorPhoto1Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.

She blogs at Books, Cats, and Whimsy. Do stop by and follow her to keep up with all her writing and reading-related activities!

 

I recently read Until That Distant Day and found myself staying up abominably late in order to finish the enthralling tale:

UntilThatDistantDayCover

Colette and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

 

“Jill Stengl is one of the rare authors with the ability to transport the reader to another world–a delightfully rich world of scent and sight and sound.” – Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of Echoes of Mercy

“Award-winning author Jill Stengl has created her greatest work yet in the inspiring and moving Until That Distant Day.” Jill Eileen Smith, bestselling author of the Wives of King David series.

This was my launch tour question for Jill: “Which character in your novel is most similar to you (or most different from you, if you want to take it that way instead)?”

Jill writes:

Colette DeMer, the “narrator” of Until That Distant Day, is probably the character most like me. I think of her as the type of woman I might have been had I been raised in her circumstances: a middle child and oldest girl in a large family, attractive to boys from an early age, never close to her parents or any other spiritual mentor, heavily influenced by a possessive, controlling, devious sibling. Life circumstances affect the character qualities we develop and our view of God.

She and I share unfortunate busybody tendencies and the compulsion to “fix” people or situations. She also has a familiar tendency to see and believe only good things and blind herself to unwelcome truths—a downside for us Pollyanna optimists.

Unlike me, Colette is a natural leader. When she sees something that needs doing, she does it. When she believes something needs to be said, she says it. However, bitter experience has tempered her tendency to act on impulse, and she struggles with self-doubt just like I do.

I suppose Colette, as my brain-child, “inherited” many of my thought processes, yet I can only admire her courage, tenacity, industry, and ability to brush off the opinions of other people. I wish!

Thank you so much for joining this blog tour, Stephanie. 🙂

It was my pleasGiveaway Prizeure, believe me!  In honor of the blog tour, Jill is doing a great giveaway of an autographed copy of Until That Distant Day through Tales of Goldstone Wood.

 

Also, for those who have yet to purchase Until That Distant Day, check out the great ebook deal below:

 

99OfferBannerxcf

Be sure to visit the rest of the launch tour locations for more answers from Jill:

May 5

May 6

May 7

May 8

May 9

May 10

May 11

May 12

May 13 – Giveaway Winner Announced

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

my read shelf:
Stephanie Ricker's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

A Storytelling

Advertisements