Category Archives: blog tour

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (review and giveaway)

Word Lily review

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Dutton, April 14, 2011), 336 pages

Summary
Lincoln, thought by some to be a perpetual student, finally quit school (after several degrees) and moved back home. Now, he’s working at the newspaper, overseeing internet security and fixing printers when they need it. It’s not a great job; Lincoln’s working second shift, in a windowless office all alone. He can’t meet people, because he works when they’re awake. And he really doesn’t like snooping through private emails, but that’s what he’s paid to do.

Thoughts
Much of the book consists of email exchanges between two women, friends. Lincoln can’t bring himself to send them a warning, and he kind of feels like he’s become friends with them — even while feeling like a creep for reading their email.

In some ways, this is a coming of age novel. Although Lincoln’s not a teenager, when the book opens he doesn’t have a clear picture of who he is, and he’s lacking direction and motivation.

The Y2K scare and preparation aspect of the book (it’s set in 1999) is fun. I love the Omaha, Nebraska setting. I also loved being back in a newspaper office, talking about inky fingers, second shift, and copy-editing.

Overall, I found this book charming, and not entirely shallow. The book touches on themes of self-concept, esteem, ethics, fertility, and marriage.

Rating: 4 stars

About the author
Rainbow Rowell (Facebook @rainbowrowell), is a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald. She lives in Omaha with her family. She has a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Other reviews
Teresa’s Reading Corner
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
TinasBookReviews
Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.


Thanks to the publisher, one of you can win a copy of Attachments! (U.S. or Canada only.) To enter, leave a comment on this post. (One entry per person.) I’ll accept entries through Monday, May 2, 2011.

ETA: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker

Word Lily review

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker (Center Street, April 19, 2011), 368 pages

Summary
The Priest’s Graveyard centers around Danny Hansen, a priest who doles out punishment to people who have skirted justice through the usual channels, and Renee Gilmore, who has dedicated herself to getting revenge for the murder of the man she loved.

Thoughts
There’s one particularly bloody scene early on that had me seriously considering quitting this book. I’m not prone to a weak stomach, and I’ve most of Dekker’s recent thrillers (he’s prolific); this is the first one I had such a visceral reaction to. [My reaction could be related to my more-fragile-than-normal state when I picked the book up, but what's a girl with a deadline to do?]

I’m still going back and forth a bit on what I think about this book. On the one hand, it’s just another — albeit slightly more stomach-turning — Dekker thriller. On the other, I’m getting tired of this. I felt like he yanked the reader around (I survived because I pulled back and didn’t allow myself to engage on that level because of the aforementioned gore.) by the collar, sticking our collective nose in one dung heap after another until we cry uncle and can successfully restate the message in our own words.

The book is about morality, codes of ethics, right and wrong. He’s making a statement, but it’s one I caught a strong whiff of in the first chapter, so the rest of the book felt heavy-handed.

Dekker feels like a provocateur, like he’s playing devil’s advocate. I feel like his books are more sermons than explorations. That may seem off base, since most of his books (recently, especially) barely rate as Christian at all, but bear with me.

Premise: The best art is created when the artist wrestles with something — an idea, a concept, a problem, etc. The best art asks questions rather than purporting a single answer, particularly when the question hasn’t even been collectively asked!

I feel this book (and many of Dekker’s recent books) started out with a stated agenda. Which makes it propaganda, not art.

I did like the connection to the Bosnian war.

More info
• Trailer:

Book website
read an excerpt

Rating: 2.75 stars

About the author
Ted Dekker (Facebook) is a prolific author, having published more than 20 novels. He’s known for stories that could be described as thrillers. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and children.

Other reviews (most of whom liked it much better than I did)
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Jenn’s Bookshelves
Book Journey
My Friend Amy
The Bluestocking Guide
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Sign up for blog tour for The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker

Want to be part of the blog tour for Ted Dekker’s upcoming book? The Priest’s Graveyard will be released April 19; the blog tour will be April 9 through April 22. Tour organizer Sarah said they’re looking for Dekker fans *and* people who’ve never read a Dekker book. For more information on the book, visit http://www.getthisbook.com. Sign-ups will close March 20.

Participants will get:
• Early review copy of The Priest’s Graveyard
• Book trailer
• Excerpt
• Countdown widget
• Hi-res book cover .jpg
• Badge for sidebar
• Banner for entry

Other info:
• Participants will post on their scheduled day (and include in every post: getthisbook.com, book cover, book info, tour graphic, and a link back to the main tour page)
• What to post: Review, teaser, video, excerpt, giveaway, countdown, etc. Be creative!
• Possible: Review of another Dekker book as well (Bride Collector, etc.)

There are 30 spots total open for this blog tour. Use this form http://goo.gl/XU1yo to request a spot, and Sarah from Center Street will contact you. Since there’s limited room on the tour, we can’t guarantee a spot.

Giveaway: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

I posted my review of Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton [my review — I loved it!] on Monday, and today I’m thrilled to offer you the chance to win an autographed copy of the book as part of the blog tour! (U.S. only, though.)

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on my review expressing interest in winning and interacting with the review. (One entry per person.) I’ll accept entries through Thursday, November 18, 2010.

Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.

I received this book from the publisher, as part of a Winsome Media blog tour. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Word Lily review

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 15, 2010 — but available now), 320 pages

Summary
Teagan Wylltson’s usually steady, by-the-plan life gets turned upside down when her adoptive teenage cousin, Finn Mac Cumhaill, comes to live with her family. But it’s probably not, primarily, in the way you’d guess. He’s rugged and handsome, yes, but he’s also the Mac Cumhaill…. Oh, and did I mention? Tea’s best friend, Abby, had a dream that goblins and the like were going to attack Teagan.

Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book! Grounded in the real world but filled with the wonder of fantasy. I think this makes the book much more accessible to people who are skeptical of (or just plain unfamiliar with) high fantasy. It also makes the book very enjoyable, too.

I loved the Celtic mythology at the root of much of the story. Tea is incredibly real — earnest and likable. Abby is a great counterpoint. I appreciated all the characters, actually.

I also love that the Wylltson family is so literary. Tea’s mom writes and illustrates children’s books. Her father’s a librarian.

One more thing: I really enjoyed the bits of humor Hamilton wove into the story.

I really have no complaints about this book; I quite liked Tyger Tyger and I’m looking forward to more. Actually, I want to read the next book now! (But I’m afraid I’ll have to wait awhile; I couldn’t find any information about book 2. Which isn’t too surprising since this one just came out. But still.)

About the author
Kersten Hamilton is the author of several picture books and many middle grade book; this is her first novel for a young adult audience. She lives in New Mexico.

Other reviews
Dreadlock Girl
The Lost Entwife
Kay’s Bookshelf
Window to My World
I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Alexia’s Books and Such
Book Chic

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Interview with author River Jordan

I’m pleased, today, to welcome River Jordan to Word Lily! She is the author of The Miracle of Mercy Land [my review]

Author River Jordan

Word Lily: What makes you believe in the power of story?

River Jordan: My experience growing up for one thing. Story, the art of telling and of listening was a part of our everyday existence. I’m thankful for my Southern heritage in that respect because I’m not certain otherwise I would have had the same kind of pacing in both my life and in my novels. My faith as well. I’m a Christian and it really is a faith that has been built in many ways on the stories handed down for generations. We treasure those ancient stories. They mean a lot to us. For instance, if a character in the Bible builds an altar to remember something, we may draw on the story over and over again in our own lives to strengthen us in times of trouble.

Word Lily: You started your writing career as a playwright; how does your background writing for the stage inform your writing of novels? Of memoir?

River Jordan: I think I give more attention to the words characters speak, the rhythm of those words, how they fall and rise. The same is true in the memoir.

Word Lily: How crucial are the elements of magical realism in creating the stories you want to tell? In the sense of wonder they evoke?

River Jordan: It always shows up as crucial but it’s not because I plan it that way. It just does. I write with a lot of allegorical meaning so a mystical character in a story may actually be a representation of the things that we struggle with in our lives and that would be different things for different people. But I really do love the sense of wonder in the world. I watch the wind blow through the tops of the trees at our place in the woods and it’s as wonder-filled and mystical, magical if you will, as anything gets.

Word Lily: I read that you have a love for the newspaper business. How did that develop?

River Jordan: I think at an early age I might have developed a romance for the woman reporter. In an age such as Mercy Land’s in the novel, which is set in 1938, women weren’t always in the newsroom. A type of Lois Lane character here and there. Then I studied both print and broadcast journalism in school, received a small journalism scholarship to a community college, and had planned to pursue that. Then I took a playwriting class and although I wrote stories all my life, wanted to write a novel, somehow the theater captured me in such a way that I took a few steps away from journalism. I still love the romance of it though.

Word Lily: A couple more general questions now. Why do you write?

River Jordan: To survive. I jokingly tell people I get sick when I don’t write and by that I mean snappy, short — that kind of thing. And I really love being able to live what I call a thousand lifetimes in one life, to travel to new places, all without living the room. The Imagination is an incredible thing and being able to meet the characters in my stories and travel to where the stories are set, to live there for awhile, is amazing.

Word Lily: Thank you so much for your time! Anything else you want to say? Am I missing something?

River Jordan: Hannah, thank you so much for the opportunity to meet new readers and share my thoughts. I love your questions and appreciate your time.


About the author
River Jordan (@RealRiverJordan) teaches and speaks across the country on the power of story. She and her husband and their Great Pyrenees, Titan, live in Nashville. She began her writing career as a playwright and spent over 10 years with the Loblolly Theatre group, where her original works were produced, including Mama Jewels: Tales from Mullet Creek, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Virga.

Other interviews with River Jordan

Excerpt from 13 Questions/Harper San Francisco
Chapter 16
Christian Book
Novel Journey

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

The Miracle of Mercy Land: A Novel by River Jordan (WaterBrook, September 7, 2010), 352 pages

Summary
Mercy Land’s life is settled, and she’s content. She lives at Miss Perry’s boarding house, she’s Doc’s go-to girl at the Bay City newspaper (the Banner), and she visits her family every weekend on nearby Bittersweet Creek. She loves her job, as well as Bay City and her roots. She knows who she is. But then a very strange book shows up at the newspaper office in the middle of the night. The book reveals the lives of the people in Bay City.

Thoughts
I was really looking forward to this book, since I read River Jordan’s Saints in Limbo [my review] last year and fell in love. So, yes, my expectations going into The Miracle of Mercy Land were very high.

I’m happy to say those expectations were fully met! I loved this book. I can’t say at this point whether I loved this one or Saints in Limbo more.

The writing thrilled me, right from the beginning.

“The events that lay before us as a nation were a large, uncharted territory, watery in their shifting possibilities. The only thing certain was that the future would have to reveal itself in due time, and most likely it would be different from anything we had expected. In the meantime we went through our daily routine with a type of laughter we hoped would stave off impending enemies and allow our sacred routines to remain a part of our carefully plotted lives. For the moment the edges of our existence played out sweetly, simply, and untouched by the things we knew were happening beyond the borders of our existence. There was a whole ocean between us and trouble. It seemed like an ocean should be enough.”

~ page 3, The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan; emphasis added

The setting (coastal smalltown Alabama) is beautifully depicted; it lives. (Speaking of, this book is set in the 1930s, but for the most part the time period isn’t all that relevant.) The characters are flawed but clearly drawn and sympathetic. The story itself is grand. Is that high enough praise?

I will probably read every book Jordan writes.

Other than Saints in Limbo and The Miracle of Mercy Land (both published by WaterBrook), Jordan is also the author of:

About the author
River Jordan (@RealRiverJordan) teaches and speaks across the country on the power of story. She and her husband and their Great Pyrenees, Titan, live in Nashville. She began her writing career as a playwright and spent over 10 years with the Loblolly Theatre group, where her original works were produced, including Mama Jewels: Tales from Mullet Creek, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Virga.

I hope to have an interview with the author to post soon!

Other reviews
Reading to Know
Rundpinne
Lighthouse Academy
2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Interview with Julie Lessman & giveaway

I’m pleased, today, to welcome author Julie Lessman to Word Lily! She is the author of the Daughters of Boston trilogy and, most recently, A Hope Undaunted.

Julie Lessman

Author Julie Lessman

Word Lily: One of my favorite aspects of these books about the O’Connor family is the relationship between Patrick and Marcy. In A Hope Undaunted, that relationship is still strong, but it seems more muted than it did in the earlier books. What’s your reasoning behind this? (I have my guesses, but I’d rather hear your rationale.)

Julie Lessman: Well, I’d like to hear your “guesses” too, but just so you know, originally I had a more detailed subplot for Marcy and Patrick involving Marcy entering menopause with wild mood swings, and Patrick treading lightly so as to not trigger an outburst or crying jag (a lot like my poor husband went through, who likened menopause to walking across a minefield! :-)). BUT … the relationship between Marcy and Patrick was toned down for A Hope Undaunted because my editor felt that 1.) There was too much going on (She was right because originally I had a subplot for EACH of the couples!) and 2.) She felt that because Marcy was 52 and Patrick 53, nobody would be interested in reading about their “love life” anymore, which, although I agreed with the first point, the second ruffled my feathers a tad.

As a baby boomer who thinks romance does NOT end at the age of 30, I purposely incorporated a love story between the parents that was both inspiring and deeply tender because frankly, I get tired of romance being relegated to the young. I mean, come on now — why should they have all the fun?? I will be 60 next month and I can tell you right now that once empty nest hit, my husband and I felt like teenagers on the loose again — more active with things like biking, working out, traveling and definitely more romantic than ever before in 32 years. I think when couples are raising kids, the romance tends to suffer a lot in a marriage, so when the kids flew the coop, it was like my husband and I could really focus on each other. And I can tell you right now that not only is my marriage better than it’s ever been, but I am one of those blessed women who feels as if I am living my own personal romance novel.

Word Lily: Hm, yeah. I’m not a baby boomer, but I agree with you. I know there are another couple books planned for this Winds of Change series, but beyond that, what’s it like to think about leaving the O’Connors behind and moving on to another family’s story?

Julie Lessman: Painful. Keep in mind that these people are like a second family to me — I’ve lived and breathed them for nine years now, and a part of me dreads letting them go. But God is preparing me because already I feeling myself pulled toward another new series. But I guarantee you, I will revisit the O’Connors now and then by rereading the books and then, who knows? Maybe down the road I’ll be able to pen a series about the O’Connor cousins during WWII!

As far as what I plan to write next after the “Winds of Change” series, I’m hoping to write a prequel about Marcy and Patrick O’Connor before they were married as well as a new trilogy entitled “The Cousins McClare,” a poor-man, rich-man scenario among three cousins amid the Irish-political landscape of 1920s San Francisco, prohibition and the Barbary Coast. Think Little Women meets Dynasty. And for those of you too young to remember the TV show Dynasty, think family wealth and poverty in a political setting.

Word Lily: I’m one of those not familiar with Dynasty, I admit! I know of it, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. I just got a dog this year; Maisie, and Old English Sheepdog, is almost 11 months old now. Tell us about your dog.

Julie Lessman: Well, as you may have noticed, all the dogs in my book (with the exception of a scruffy terrier mutt in A Hope Undaunted, are golden retrievers, and that’s because we had goldens all of our lives. Unfortunately, our golden named Bunker died Easter weekend at the age of 15, a ripe age that is almost unheard of for large dogs, but I believe in praying for longevity for our pets, so I did, and it sure worked.

Word Lily: Oh, I’m sorry to hear about your loss of Bunker! What books have you read and enjoyed recently?

Julie Lessman: Oh, it’s been a realllly good month for reading, let me tell you! First off, there was Mary Connealy’s Doctor in Petticoats (love Mary’s humor!), then MaryLu Tyndall’s Surrender the Heart (love MaryLu’s romantic edge and tense adventure!), Myra Johnson’s Where the Dogwood Blooms (probing spiritual message and romance that is wonderfully sigh-worthy), Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz (Laura always packs an emotional punch with a story and characters as alive and real as my own family), and finally, my current read is Melanie Dickerson’s The Healer’s Apprentice, which is simply a delightful medieval YA that is pure magic. Yep, all in all, a very good month!

Word Lily: That definitely sounds like a good reading month, yay! I think I’ll end up adding some of those to my wish list. I know you started writing A Passion Most Pure when you were still in your teens, but I haven’t found this part of your journey in the other interviews I’ve read: What’s your writing education/training?

Julie Lessman: Actually, not much! I only completed one year of college before quitting to get a job because I didn’t get along with my father (and my mother was deceased), so I wanted out of the house BAD!! But I knew I had some writing ability because I won speech contests in high school, was published in the National Anthology of High School Poetry, was an editor of the high school yearbook and newspaper, and won poetry contests in the one year of college I did attend. In my early 20s, I took an advanced creative writing course at Washington University and then a fiction-writing course much later in life. Surprisingly enough, I ended up with a travel writer job for many years that today would require a degree.

Word Lily: A more general question now. What are you working on now?

Julie Lessman: Well, I recently completed book 2 in the “Winds of Change” series, A Heart Revealed, which tells the forbidden love story of Sean O’Connor and Emma Malloy, and have just begun book 3, Steven O’Connor’s story, tentatively titled A Trust Restored. Both books take place during The Great Depression and Prohibition, providing a wealth of historical interest about this exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and Al Capone. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness (a la Robert Stack from the old TV show The Untouchables, which most of your readers are probably too young to remember), who not only battles crime with a vengeance, but also the guilt and regret of a painful past.

Word Lily: Ooh, sounds good! Thank you so much for your time! Anything else you want to say? Am I missing something?

Julie Lessman: Thank you, Hannah, for hosting me on your blog. It’s been fun! And I LOVE to hear from readers, so they can contact me through my website at julielessman.com, either by sending an email via my site or by signing up for my newsletter. My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways. Also, I have a cool feature on my website called Journal Jots which is a very laid-back, almost-daily journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Then finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication. Thanks again, Hannah, and God bless!


As part of this Winsome Media tour, I’m thrilled to offer a signed copy of A Hope Undaunted. (U.S. only, though.)

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post expressing interest in winning and interacting with the interview. I’ll accept entries through Monday, October 4, 2010.

Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.