Saturday, April 23, 2011


I received a copy of IN FRONT OF GOD AND EVERYBODY by K. D. McCrite, from Thomas Nelson. It is the first book in the CONFESSIONS OF APRIL GRACE series. The cover did not really catch my attention. It shows a smiling girl, which certainly is not off-putting, but not eye-catching, either. However, once I got into the story, I was hooked.

The story takes place in the summer of 1986 – this in itself interested me, since it happens before I was born, and I wondered what things were like then as opposed to now, and what I remember from my childhood.

April Grace lives on a farm in the Ozarks. The things she says are hilarious. I laughed aloud through every page. She has a quirky, contagious sense of humor, the perfect type of person to befriend. She gives the reader her take on everything, from the weather to her grandmother’s mean cat, Queenie.

First, there is her family. Her mother, Lily, and her father, Mike, are deeply in love. They want to help everyone, including the new neighbors. Then, there is April Grace’s sister, Myra Sue, who would rather watch soap operas than weed the garden. April Grace is very close to her grandmother, who lives next door, so she’s upset when her sister thinks the elderly woman is a hillbilly. Their grandmother also has a new beau. April Grace is positive he is out to due no good, and the things she sees proves that in her mind.

April Grace loves the hippie neighbors, but not the fresh-from-California neighbors. Ian and Isabel do not know a thing about the country, especially Isabel, who is extremely rude even though April Grace’s family only wants to help.

As an elementary teacher, I know the children I sub for would adore this story. It is not only hilarious, but extremely true, with many relatable aspects. Every time April Grace describes her beloved family farm, I remember my grandmother’s farm and the happy summer days I spent there with my cousins. I look forward to reading future APRIL GRACE novels.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A contest for all my writing buddies...

Cool contest. I'm entering for TABITHA'S DEATH.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I received a copy of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACK by Rick Marschall, from Thomas Nelson. It is a biography that is part of the Christian Encounters series. I never learned much about Bach, so I was excited to enter his world. He is famous for his music, but he should also be remembered for his strong ties to Christianity.

I never knew he began his works with “Jesu, juva.” It is also how the book begins, which I feel ties the story together well. The biography is divided into eight chapters. It also includes an introduction, a part about his family, a chronology, an annotated glossary, notes, bibliography, and acknowledgements. I had never known much about his family, which made him seem like a real person. I also learned a few fun facts about him, such as that he married his cousin. That was not uncommon for the time period, but becoming famous for music was. The tales recounted in this biography gave me a new appreciation for the man I once studied in elementary school. Schools should teach the history behind the person, not just the music. It makes the notes come alive. After I read the book, I looked up some of his music and this time listening, I had a greater understanding.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I received a copy of THE GIRL IN THE GATEHOUSE by Julie Klassen, from Bethany House. It is a complex, heartwarming story. Once I started it, I found I couldn’t put it down. The girl in the gatehouse is Mariah Aubrey. After a scandalous event at a party, she is exiled from her home and sent to live with her aunt. Her aunt puts in the gatehouse, a fate most girls must dream about. Who does not want to live in a picturesque, miniature castle?

The characters are realistic and endearing. Captain Bryant is the male heartthrob – he fulfills that role and then some. He’s a rich sea Captain, handsome, intelligent, and a great friend. Then there is Dixon, Mariah’s sweet companion, who once was her nanny and then her governess.

Near the gatehouse lies a workhouse. Mariah meets astounding friends there, including two elderly woman, an eccentric man who walks the roof, and playful children. Mariah becomes a stronger person while she lives alone with Dixon – and later Martin, her aunt’s servant, and Lizzy, a young woman from the workhouse. To earn money, Mariah sells the novels she writes, but keeps her identity secret by calling herself “Lady A.”

Who does not want to live in a gatehouse while writing novels, with a handsome captain renting the estate? I will definitely look for more of Julie Klassen’s stories.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I received a copy of PROMISES TO KEEP by Ann Tatlock, from Bethany House. The cover is unique, an image of the back of a girl’s head, her neck bared by two braids. On the back of the book is the picture of a house. That image fits the story perfectly, for it’s the tale of a house and a family, the home important enough to be its own character.

The story is told by Roz, short for Rosalind. She is eleven-years-old and trying to come to terms with her parents’ separation. Her father, Alan Anthony, is vicious. He drinks a lot and beats her mother. He even tries to kill her brother once. Sometimes, when the whole family was in the car together, he would drive recklessly and threaten to crash if anyone cried out. Roz’s mother has had enough of Alan – she packed up the kids and moved to her father’s town. She feels sad and helpless, and struggles to provide for her family.

This house is not just any house. It used to belong to Tillie Monroe. She and her husband built it, and raised their children in it, and she’s not about to be put away into a nursing home. She wants to die in her beloved home, so she convinces Roz’s mother to allow her to live with them. While Roz’s mother works, Tillie looks after the chores and the children, Roz and her baby sister Valerie. Tillie helps the family build a new life for them. Roz still wants her daddy though, so when Alan meets her secretly, she’s excited, and wants to help him back into their lives – even though he steals, lies, still drinks, and eventually tries to shoot them.

I couldn’t put the story down. The characters are not only believable, they are likable. The writing is smooth, and there were only two predictable moments – Roz’s mother married Tillie’s son and Roz’s father turned out to be thoroughly “bad guy.” I feel like I could go to the town and meet everyone, even though the story took place during the Vietnam War. The wide range of characters ensure that there will be someone to relate to, whether it is Wally, the young man who decides to take out his anger on Alan by joining the army, or Roz’s best friend Mara, who suffers with prejudice.