Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What I've Been Reading

I read books the way some people eat food. I usually go through at least one book per week, and then I forget all about what I've read. Hence, when someone asks me to list my favorite authors or books, my mind goes blank.

This year, I set a goal to keep track of what I read. (I read mostly audiobooks.) Here are some that I've read and liked so far this year:

All the Light We Cannot See. This is historical fiction set in World War II France and Germany. It's the story of two young people--Marie Laure, a blind girl from Paris; and Werner, a German orphan from a mining town, who develops a skill for fixing radios. The two eventually meet on the French island of Saint Malo. Their stories are so detailed, and the language so beautiful that I really enjoyed the book. I  was able to read the book a little at a time over the space of six weeks. It was suspenseful enough to keep me interested, but not so suspenseful that I couldn't put it down. I should say also that the book was organized in a circular fashion, not chronologically, which may annoy some readers. In other words, it goes back and forth in time--a lot. It's told in present tense, which I love, but some people don't. As far as cleanliness goes, I'd say it's about 99% clean. It has a few sexual references and several references to Nazi brutality. It's similar in tone to The Book Thief, which I also read this year, but has fewer swear words.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read this
book when I was a kid, but, thinking it was a girl book, I never tried reading it to my boys until this year. They have enjoyed every second of it. The descriptions of hunting and homesteading fascinated them. They loved the story of the black panther and another about a bear. The boys have even loved reading about the big dance parties.

Never Give Up by Joyce Meyer. For those of you who don't know, Joyce Meyer is a Christian preacher. As the title suggests, this is a motivational book. It contains stories of successful people who overcame great challenges, people like Levi Strauss, Aron Ralston, and Oprah Winfrey. I'd heard some of the stories before, but most of them were new to me. The boys also liked listening in on some of the stories as we drove in the car. She preaches a little between the stories, but, as it was all bible-based, I found it mostly correlated with my religious beliefs. I sometimes don't like the narrators Joyce Meyers chooses for her audiobooks, but this narrator was a good one.

Jane and the 12 Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron. This is historical fiction, in which Jane Austen plays detective. It was very much like reading a book by Jane Austen, so if you like that type of book, you might like Stephanie Barron's work. She includes a lot of historical details that taught me about Jane Austen's life and times. I liked it better than Death Comes to Pemberly, which I also read recently.

Other books I've read this year: Theodore Boone: The Abduction by John Grisham (a Young Adult mystery), Kissing a Frog by Sharlene Wells Hawkes, 12 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship by JoAnne Hibbert Hamilton (Great if you have teens), 20 Years Younger by Bob Greene

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Run" by Jolyn Brown

My friend Jolyn Brown has published a Young Adult novel with Walnut Springs.

When Supermom joins Dad on his latest project, sixteen-year-old Morgan is left with her aunt. Instead of dating the cute boy from her high school track team, Morgan will spend the summer in a small town near Kanab, Utah, five hours from home and all of her friends. Her plan is to keep a sane distance between herself and her aunt’s six boys. What Morgan doesn't expect is being attracted to the neighbor kid who hangs out with her cousins. How can she like two guys at the same time?

Just when her life couldn't get more messed up, Morgan stumbles across an abandoned house and learns she lived there when she was small. The house and its secrets haunt her—it turns out she’s been dreaming about the place for years. All she wants is to hold onto what she loves. But as the summer passes, she wonders if she’s going to lose everything. 
JoLyn Brown was raised alongside a peach orchard where she worked with her family. Some of her favorite memories are of listening to stories told by her relatives. These stories and her own experiences provide inspiration for her writing. Her published works include several short stories and A Circle of Sisters, an anthology of true stories about the Relief Society. JoLyn is currently working on a romantic fantasy novel and several companion novels to Run. She lives in Utah with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing, she sews, scrapbooks, reads, and spends time with her family. Learn more about JoLyn and her books by visiting www.jolynbrown.blogspot.com

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Next Book

Photo by Rachael Nelson
My next book is coming along slowly but surely. I'm taking a break from Austen adaptations for a little bit.

The working title of my work in progress is: Turned to Gold. It's a light-hearted romance.

The main character is an animal lover, Rosie Curtis, who lives on a ranch with her grandfather. When her grandfather's health declines, she faces the prospect of losing the ranch and thus all her beloved animals. Her long-term boyfriend, Tanner, comes to her rescue, and all seems to be right with the world. Or all would be going right, except for her new next-door neighbor who's recently moved from the East Coast.

I'm having a lot of fun writing about flash floods, pet coyotes, and a lot of crazy things that happen out in the country. It's been fun to submit the chapters to my new critique group. They are helping to make it so much better than I could on my own.

I wish I were a faster writer, but with six kids ranging from college-age to preschool, I
have to take my time. Hopefully, I can finish by the end of the year. I'm so thankful to all my readers, and I want to give them something they'll enjoy.