Tag Archives: guest post

Listen by Rene Gutteridge: Guest review by My Friend Amy

I’m excited to welcome My Friend Amy to Word Lily today!

Rene Gutteridge Week 2011, WordLily.com

I’ve heard people sing the praises of Rene Gutteridge for a long time, and so when Hannah announced she was hosting a Rene Gutteridge week, I volunteered to read my first book by her. Since Listen was the only novel I had handy, that’s the one I went for.

The town of Marlow is facing a big challenge. Someone is recording their private conversations and posting them word for word on an anonymous website. Since most people are hard-pressed to guard their tongues in private, some pretty nasty stuff is showing up and tearing apart relationships. Everyone is on edge, never knowing what people think of them, but also secretly devouring every nasty secret on their computer screens.

We enter into this world via a small family, Damien and Kay and their two children, Jenna and Hunter. The family itself is facing some conflict. Damien is a bit bored with his career and wants to change things up, Kay is feeling insecure in her friendships with the mothers of her daughter’s friends, and Jenna and Kay are also constantly at odds. As things escalate in the town and dangerous things start to happen, the family finds themselves pulled together in new ways even as the outside threat grows dark.

I’ve been wanting to read Listen for while because the premise was irresistible. Ever since a day in middle school when I was at a concert with a friend complaining about my teacher and my teacher was RIGHT BEHIND ME, I’ve been really really careful about talking about people in public places. Listen takes the threat even further since many of the recorded conversations take place within homes.

While Gutteridge doesn’t explore the idea of “how do we really know someone” as much as I’d like, I found Listen to be a fast and entertaining read. I was greatly amused by some of the humor, such as when one character describes the start of the demise of his marriage the night he brought fried chicken home on his anniversary. The faith message is subtle but present and even the pastor doesn’t escape some suspicion in the crime.

I recommend Listen to anyone looking for a quick, enjoyable read that also deals with some heavier topics and is not devoid of meaning.

Thanks to Hannah for hosting Rene Gutteridge Week and pushing me to finally read some of her work!

Thanks so much, Amy! I’m glad you enjoyed your first taste of Gutteridge — and that you decided to share that with us.

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

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‘Gutteridge is one of my go-to authors’: A guest post by Deborah of Books, Movies and Chinese Food

I’m thrilled to welcome Deborah of Books, Movies and Chinese Food to Word Lily today! She shares my appreciation for Rene Gutteridge and her books, so I’m excited she chose to participate in Rene Gutteridge Week. Plus, I feel like she kind of educates me on the subject of genres in this post. 😛 Thanks again, Deborah!

Rene Gutteridge Week 2011, WordLily.com

I love when an actor who is known for comedy suddenly does a 180 and gives a knockout performance in a serious drama. Not only is the audience caught completely off guard, they are blown away by the incredibly depth of the acting range of that actor. It shows how good an actor that person is because they are able to make the audience forget that they are seeing a guy known for crude slapstick who instead has become fully immersed in a completely different role.

It’s the same thing with an author who can write well in different genres. Rene Gutteridge is one of those authors. Romantic suspense, comedy, chick lit, women’s fiction, screenplay adaptations, she’s done it all. I was first introduced to her writing several years ago by a list of authors that author Camy Tang had put on her website. She had listed several of Rene’s books that should be read, so I figured, well I’ll give her a shot. My first taste of her books was Ghostwriter. And to this day that is my favorite of all her books. I won’t spoil the plot at all but it was such a page turner for me. The remarkable part for me as well was that there were TWO stories being told at the same time. Not just two plots taking place with different characters but a book being written within a book. And I always have high respect for authors who are able to juggle two completely different story lines into one manuscript. From then, I was sold. I knew I had to read more of Gutteridge’s books.

After Ghostwriter I read: Boo (small town charm, often called “Mitford on Steroids”) and its sequels, My Life as a Doormat (chick lit), The Storm series (romantic suspense), The Occupational Hazard series (I call this comedy) as well as several other stand alone books. ALL of them are written well and are distinct from each other. There are some authors who try to write in different genres — say, historical fiction and mystery — but you can still see them using the same formula, same plot devices in the books. With Rene’s books, they are different from each other, almost to the point where you don’t realize it’s the same author. However, I can’t explain it, but there’s still a certain trademark where you know it’s her books. She is one of my go-to authors, the ones where I know that I will enjoy the book no matter what genre she’s writing in.

Thanks so much, Deborah! And, friends? If you read Christian fiction and don’t follow her fabulous blog, you’re seriously missing out.


Thanks to Tyndale, I have three copies of Gutteridge’s latest, Possession [my review], to give away this week. And one of those giveaways is now! Enter to win a copy of Possession by Rene Gutteridge by leaving a comment on this post. (One entry per person per giveaway; sorry, U.S. only.) I’ll accept entries through Friday, January 28, 2011. The first giveaway is still open, as well.

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

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

Louise Penny on Setting, a guest post

Today I’m pleased to welcome Louise Penny, author of Still Life and the entire Gamache mystery series. As part of Detectives around the World, she wrote this about the setting of these books. Ms. Penny?

Louise Penny, photo from her website

The Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries would never have been written had Michael and I not moved into the Eastern Townships of Quebec, south of Montreal by the border with Vermont. Two things came together here, the magnificent landscape and my immeasurable laziness. It proved a potent partnership. Setting the Gamache novels where we live meant I had access to stunningly beautiful, often wild, almost always untamed countryside, and characters. And it meant I didn’t have to do much, if any, work. I write not only what I know, but what I see every day. The storms swallowing the mountain across from us as they march toward our home and village. The blizzards, and foot after foot of dazzling, fluffy snow. The grim ice and cold that lingers in the marrow. The eventual, miraculous first shoots of spring reminding us that life is indeed a force greater than death. The sizzling hot summers and the fork lightning that can explode trees and homes and barns. The delicate old world roses and honeysuckle, that survive where strong trees tumble. But more even than the landscape, it is the rich culture of Quebec that seeps into the Chief Inspector Gamache books. The French and English living in harmony if not always in peace. The cafe au laits and carrot cake. The rice pudding and steak frites. The tartes and croissants and soups and rich, fragrant stews. Baguette and brie. Yum.

Because Quebec is both French and English, and a few of the main characters are French, I throw in some French words now and then to set the atmosphere. That’s a bit of a balancing act. I’ve come to realize people have different tolerances for hitting words they don’t understand. And it’s something I’ve struggled with. How much to put in. Where. What do people understand? And does the context make the translation obvious? Merci, madame. Surely that doesn’t need translation. Bon. Voyons. All words meant to set the stage and not convey crucial clues. And I know when I read a book I have no problem when Russian speakers sometimes say something in Russian. Or Spanish or Italian. I like it, in fact. But, as I say, I realize people have different tolerances. The other thing I’ve come to realize is that readers don’t know how to pronounce the names of the characters. Now I can definitely understand the frustration with that! After all, why would you know how to pronounce Reine-Marie, or Jean Guy, or Olivier? Or even some of the meals they eat.

So, I’ve put a pronunciation guide on my website (www.louisepenny.com) where I talk about the French names and words and phrases, how to say them and what they mean. I think it helps.

I wish I could say writing my books is a titan effort, but the fact is, they are an act of love. And every word is a love letter to the place I live and the people I adore. The fact they are also murder mysteries is, it must be said, only slightly disturbing and we’re not yet sure what that says about how I really feel. But I find if I drink enough cafe au laits and eat enough croissants those questions fade. I, however, have grown more substantial.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on setting!