Thursday, December 23, 2010

Good Books

Each year, I guide students through a selection of approximately 16 titles. These books are considered classics and the majority are on a list of "must reads" for high school students. Although I have found that the must read lists vary greatly. Students do not really understand how a classic to one person, may not even make the list of someone else.

It is a matter of opinion.

But the best critical readers base that opinion on certain factors. Not arbitrary or contrived factors, but measurable, or at least provable, characteristics. Good stories will include elements of character, setting, plot, dialogue, and theme worthy of notice. Great stories will stretch and twine those elements into a pattern worthy of discussion.

Good stories are meant to be read.

Great stories are meant to be pondered.

Good stories are read.

Great stories are read, reread and shared.

But how do you find a great story? Do they still exist?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Greetings and Salutations

Let's give this another try. A new look and a new purpose. Watch for new information coming soon!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Time For Change

The time has come for a re-evaluation of the blogosphere, or at least my part in it. I began this blog three years ago, while my husband was serving overseas and I devoted a part of everyday to writing. My child was in kindergarten and gone half a day, but that's another story.

My love of words and writing has not diminished. But for the time being my focus, by necessity, is teaching young people to read critically and write better than the average teen. For the foreseeable future, and considering the posts of the last few months--or year as the case may be--it is time to say adieu.

My hope is that this will be a short hiatus and I will return with better and bigger ideas in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review: Forget Me Not

Ever wonder what it would be like to forget your whole life? It doesn't seem possible. But what happens if you forget AND someone is trying to kill you? To make matters worse, the person you appear to be, is already dead.

Vicki Hinze's new novel Forget Me Not begins en media res for not one woman, but two. Or does it? The opening chapters drops us in the middle of the story, observing the brutal murder of Susan Brandt. Then three years later, the horrifying kidnapping of...Susan Brandt? How can this be? The two women look uncannily alike. Everyone "Susan" meets is shocked and confused by the similarities. Not to mention put completely out of sorts when "Susan" turns out to be wearing the dead woman's necklace.

This is not your typical suspense novel. The reader is kept guessing and events pile up quickly--adding to the confusion. It is a page turner. It is a quick and entertaining read.

This is not a character driven novel. Events, dangerous events at that, keep the novel moving. And a spirit of knowing God is with us, no matter what.

If you are interested in an evening of suspense, this novel delivers.

Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of twenty-three novels, three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Selected for Who’s Who in America in 2004 as a writer and educator, Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a Vice President on the International Thriller Writers Board of Directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Visit to learn more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.

This book was provided for review by Multnomah Publishing.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another Man's Moccassins

Wouldn't it be nice, if everything you said and did was greeted with understanding and care?

What would happen if the people you loved and cared for above all others would look beyond themselves, and listen to the heart of your words?

There are only 24 hours in any day.

A typical day in the life: On the best of days my husband and I get about 7 hours of sleep. Oh, I know, some people think that is a lot--but for our health and sanity it is what we need. We are up by five and preparing for the day. Most of the time, he is finishing the work he did not have time to do the night before, doing a short Bible study and wrangling kids.

Despite our best efforts--making lunches the day before setting out school clothes, etc.--there is something that was overlooked. Lunch most often. But this time also includes walking the dog, feeding both pets, making sure one kid gets cleaned, and everyone has breakfast. Not to mention all the extraneous stuff.

We are in the car, all of us by 6:45. On our way to work. No need to explain what that entails. Sometimes we get done as early as 4:00. But for at least three months this year, it was 5:30 or 6:00 before we got home.

Our evening is spent making supper, feeding the pets, walking the dog (often twice cause she can't do two jobs in one trip), getting kids ready for the next day, supervising homework, grading papers, and for the last four months curriculum guides. Curriculum guides which took no less than 100 hours for each of us. Somewhere in there we get some kid snuggles and storytime and kids are in bed by 7:30.

For at least an hour, sometimes two and half hours, there is more work to be done. Work work, not work for the home. After that we have to keep some type of order in the house, you know the little things like dishes and laundry. Nothing BIG like actually putting laundry AWAY or buying groceries. By ten we are out.

We do this all week, everyday, over and over and over. And we make enough money to barely get by.

The weekends? Oh, did I mention curriculum guides? Or, the school play? There are no weekends. It's been more work, laundry and dishes.

We bought sleds for Christmas for the kids. You know how many times they used them this winter? Twice. On an inch of snow, on a small slope in our backyard.

Did I mention I've been sick during EVERY single break in the school year save one? And Husband? Let's just say the world keeps spinning for him, spinning and spinning, and he can't hear it go by.

Our work is not about money. We work with incredible kids and we get to share the love of Jesus with them on a daily basis. We are serving our LORD.

But not everyone understands.

For some reason, no money = you could if you wanted.

Exhaustion and no time = lack of caring.

There are only 24 hours in our day.

For all those out there who are juggling a home, husband, kids and a full-time job--May God bless you with rest and the ability to say no to anything that tears at the fragile shreds of hearth and home!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: Here Burns My Candle

It's just not historical romance without a bit of mystery. Liz Curtis Higgs gives us more than a little mystery, as her characters are brimming with secrets in her new book, Here Burns My Candle.

But there is so much more. The story unfolds quickly and the reader falls in love with the characters. Living breathing characters who are refined through fire: challenged to become more than they ever imagined possible. Filled with historical and geographical detail the reader is transported to another time and another place.

Liz Curtis Higgs tells a story worth hearing. Her words and characters ring true. She deals honestly with real life issues through a Christian perspective. The reader would be hard pressed not to find parallels between the characters lives and her own.

Here Burns My Candle is set in 18th century Scotland and retells the story of Old Testament story of Naomi and Ruth.
A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Finally, a book worth reading from cover to cover!

LIZ CURTIS HIGGS is the author of twenty-seven books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, and Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist. Visit the author’s extensive website at

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Yesterday's Promise

Yesterday’s Promise

Once again, Linda Chaikin delves into far away destinations and historical intricacies in this new novel from Waterbrook. Reminiscent of her earlier Heart of India trilogy and The Empire Builders (which I enjoyed), Yesterday's Promise sets the age-old story of lovers, separated by circumstance and nearly torn apart by secrets, among the hidden treasures of South Africa and the more stoic society of England.

The story weaves mystery and romance in such a way that the reader should be intrigued from the first page. For those who enjoy culturally relevant vivid descriptions of life in another time, Yesterday's Promise is for you.

But there is a is hard to follow. Instead of grabbing the reader, the opening pages leave the reader wondering: What's going on? Who are these people? And why should I care?

The appeal will be in the story and the exploration of good vs. evil without the worldliness of many modern writers.

Some of the dialogue is stilted and will not appeal to younger readers. The subject, although having much potential, never quite reaches the heights the reader hopes to find. Unlike the subject matter of The Empire Builders, Yesterday's Promise couldn't hold my interest long enough for me to wade through all 364 pages.

A Novel...
by Linda Lee Chaikin– Rogan Chantry faces danger from tribesmen, ruthless politicians, and his own family as he searches for gold in South Africa. In England, his beloved Evy is injured by a mysterious assailant. The greed and intrigue surrounding the diamond mines could very well drive them irrevocably apart.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.