Tag Archives: Books

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #14

If you’re just joining us, the hunt begins at www.LisaBergren.com, with Stop #1. If you complete the loop of 26 stops and write down the clue on each author’s site, you can enter to win all 25 books as well as Amazon gift cards, an iPad and more!

Without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my guest for the Scavenger Hunt, Jody Hedlund! I’ve only known Jody by name and by her books (which are fantastical, by the way!), but recently I was able to meet her in person. She was kind to a shy author like me and made me feel welcome. So when I discovered I would be hosting her on my blog, I was excited!

Jody Hedlund. Web - Copy
Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Here’s the summary of her latest book:

Sophie Neumann and her two young charges join a group of orphans heading west by train, hoping to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life. Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he’s in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?

Searching For You Final Cover

You can purchase her book at your local bookstore or online:

Barnes and Noble



And here’s her EXCLUSIVE content that you’ll only find in this hunt!


By Jody Hedlund

I’ve recently entered a new stage of life where my home is beginning to empty. Three of my five kids are away at college. And the two left are very independent.

Not only does my new stage entail more uninterrupted writing time, but I’ve also found myself having more free time too.

Free time?! *Gasp* What is that?!

To be honest, I haven’t had free time in so long that I don’t know how to relax very well anymore. Rather than enjoy the down time, sometimes I drum up more work for myself.

Even though I listen to audio books and wind down with a book in bed, I’ve always dreamed about having more reading time. And yet, those few evenings when I’ve allowed myself the pleasure of sitting down with a book, I admit, I always feel slightly guilty. Often, instead of losing myself in a book, I make myself do other “more productive” things like bake or take a walk or finally clear out the dying flowers in the pots on the front porch.

The truth is, it’s all too easy to let reading take a back burner, isn’t it?

But the other truth I’ve learned over the years is that there will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be something demanding our attention. Our modern culture is a harsh task master with never-ending to-do lists. Our society subtly sends us the message that the busier we are the better off we’ll be.

So we get ourselves and our kids involved in everything until we’re running ourselves ragged. We’re on the go most of the time, and our down-time turns into staring at the TV screen because we’re too tired to do anything else.

We need to add white space back in to our lives that have become over-crowded. Can we even say that if we don’t add in white space—quiet, meditative, sedentary time to our daily schedules—we run the risk of increasing physical and mental health breakdown?

My challenge to myself and to you, is to buy one of the books on this scavenger hunt or check one out from the library. Then make time in the day (or evening) to read it—without feeling guilty.

And if you’re already an avid reader, then make a point of sending a friend or relative to this scavenger hunt. Tell them about your favorite authors. And encourage them to read more.

What about you? Do YOU ever feel guilty for reading? Why or why not? Do you agree that many of us need to clear more white space into our lives, including time for pleasure reading?


Thanks for stopping by on the hunt! Before you go, make sure you WRITE DOWN THIS CLUE:

Secret Word: scavenger

Do you have it written down? Great! Your next stop is #15, Jody Hedlund’s site: https://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/

If you get lost, a complete list of the loop with links can be found on Lisa Bergren’s website.

And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Mark of the Raven! (US only)


Dreamwalker. Nightwatcher. Lady of Ravenwood.

Thanks for stopping by!

Teen Titans and Book Reviews

A couple days ago I was watching Teen Titans Go with my kids. In this particular episode Raven (one of the characters who is usually portrayed as intelligent and dark) introduces the rest of the Titans to reading. They fall in love with reading and want more. So they ask her what they should do next. She says they should start a book club and discuss their books. So they start a club and discuss their books and how much they loved their books.

A couple minutes into the meeting Raven says it’s  not enough to share how much they like their books. They need to go deeper. How? they ask. She starts with her own book by saying the premise of the book was unbelievable and goes on for a minute breaking her book down into tiny increments, dissecting each scene and word.

The Titans stare at her in horror. “You just took the fun out of reading!” they shout.

And that’s what I found interesting. I don’t think books were meant to be taken apart and each little section scrutinized and reviewed. Books are meant to be read as a whole. Enjoyed. Read and understood in their full context.

Sometimes I can’t articulate why I liked or didn’t like a book. I just know I liked it and it made me think. Or I didn’t like it because it left a bad feeling behind. Perhaps that is one reason I don’t like writing reviews (for the most part). Because I feel like I need to take the book apart and say why I did or didn’t like the book. Bleh.

I’ve seen reviews where the book is scrutinized down to its very words. I’ve even known people who read with a pad and pen next to them so they can take notes. I don’t think fiction was meant to be read like this. How do you get into the story when you’re constantly taking notes? Perhaps that’s just me.

The episode ends when the Titans read a mystical book that lets loose evil magic that feeds off their imagination. In order to stop the book, they start reviewing the book, talking about its premise and using big words. In essence, they are shutting off their imagination so they can trap the magic back inside the book.

Ironic, isn’t it?

For those who are curious, the episode is called Books.


When Reading Loses its Magic

When I was a child, I devoured books. In fact, I broke the record of the most books read in one year at my elementary school. I read anything I could get my hands on. I even read Shakespeare, biographies, and encyclopedias :).

As an adult, my love for a good story continued. I found myself blessed with a husband who loved reading. Even better, we loved the same kind of books. We read Star Wars novels together, Harry Potter together, even Twilight. And I would read whatever nonfiction he was going through, whether it was on church ministry, leadership, or spiritual disciplines.

It wasn’t until I became a writer that reading began to lose its magic. I still read, but now that I was learning the craft of writing myself, I began to critique what I read. I couldn’t help myself. If I learned to stay in one-person point of view, then every book I read that didn’t follow that rule I thought was wrong.

As an author recently put it, reading a book is like watching a magic show. It’s fascinating and you are caught up in the spectacle. But when you start to learn the magician’s tricks, the show loses its charm. You know how he does it now. And you begin to critique the magician if he doesn’t do it right.

So how does a writer find her way back to the magic of simply enjoying a story? That’s a hard one, a feat that has taken me almost 2 years to learn.

One, I had to learn to turn off my inner editor. If there is one thing I have learned in writing, it is there are many styles of writing. And one style is not necessarily better than another. Just different. Both accomplish the same thing: a well-written, emotionally engaging book. But if I let my particular style drive my reading, then I am bound to be disappointed in a book that is different than me.

Two: don’t go into a book with preconceived ideas or emotions. What do I mean? In this industry, it can be easy to let jealousy come in and distort my view of a book. That is not right. If I am jealous, I will not see the good in a book, I will only be looking for the bad. But if I learn to rejoice with my fellow authors when they produce a good book, then I will enjoy their written work (for more on that topic, click here).

Thirdly, I need to let myself enjoy the experience of reading. Drink a cup of tea, curl up on the couch. Allow myself to be drawn in and taken to another place. And make the writer part of myself stay home! It has no place in my pleasure reading.

When I do this, I am finally free to just simply read. I get to experience the book as a reader. And the magic of reading comes back, just the way I remember it as a child.


Sex, Romance, and Books

I read about a series that hit the bestsellers list on a blog a couple weeks ago. Intrigued, I went to Amazon to check it out… and stopped cold after reading the first review. My heart sunk and I felt sick. The descriptions the reviewer used made me blush and wish I had something I could clean my mind out with.

Shortly afterward, everywhere I looked, the book series kept popping up. I found it on lists, more blog posts, and everyday conversation. But what struck me the most were the people interested in reading this book: Christian women.

The book I am referring to is Fifty Shades of Grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey is about a young woman’s encounter with a brilliant, handsome man. A man who has dark tastes when it comes to the physical. They embark on a “daring, passionately physical affair” where the young woman explores her own dark desires.

That description alone made me hesitate, but then the reviews talked about all the sex in the book. Graphic, erotic sex. And then the blog posts started coming in. Even secular bloggers were taken back by all the sex. And not just regular sex, but more. No, I have not read the book, but when it shows up at the top of a list labeled “kinky sex” (I replaced a word), then there is definitely something disturbing (at least for me).

So why do I bring this up? To slam a series? No, to share my heart with you. What makes a book filled with descriptive sex any different than pornography? Both are visually stimulating. Both contain graphic content. And both are addictive.

You will never find a book with a white bunny and photos of nude women on the bestsellers list (at least I’ve never seen one). However, it seems that if the images are enclosed inside a story, then it’s okay. And to me, that is scary. Unlike a TV show or movie where you can just fast-forward through the scene, I find myself scrambling to a stop halfway down the page. But by then it’s too late. The words are already there, inside my mind. And with my photographic memory, they will never leave.

I write this post as a call to Christian women. For some, it is a warning about books like these. I stumbled into these kinds of books when I was a young girl and wish I had never opened the covers. I had no idea books with graphic sex existed. I had been taught that to look at naked people in photos was wrong, but not about books with naked people. So as a fellow Christian woman to another, I am warning you now that these books exist, and to be careful with what you read.

For others, this is plea to not go down this road. I will be the first one to say I love romance. I think it has been ingrained in us since the moment God first brought Eve to Adam (see my post about romance here ). But consider the romance in these books. Is it really romance? Or simply lust?

And I would take it a step farther and say reading books like these is no different than your husband sitting down with the latest Playboy. How would you feel if you saw him do it? How do you think he would feel about your book?

My friends, the images and scenes you read generally don’t stay in the living room. They follow you to the bedroom and can destroy the intimacy between you and your husband. Your husband will never live up to the hunky hero in a book. So it can be tempting to replace your husband inside your mind with the hero from your book. Or wish for a more exciting sex life, instead of finding fulfillment and pleasure in your husband.

Romance is good. Sex is good. But there are just some things that should be left behind closed doors and not displayed for the entire world to see. Even on the page.

For another great article about this subject, check out Mommy Porn is okay, But Daddy Porn is not

Top Ten Books I Love

It’s Friday and I’m coming into the weekend after my first full week of work. To celebrate (and because my brain is recharging), I thought I would do a light fluffy post today. This post is also the kickoff for my next three posts where I will talk about what it means to be a writer (and why you should find a more sane hobby :)). So here we go!

These books are like comfort food. When I want something to read and have nothing new, I grab one of these. I have read them over and over again. These books are old friends who live on my shelf (you know what I mean?).

1)   Anne of Green Gables. L. M. Montgomery’s books take me to a time and place filled with unique characters. If you haven’t read the series (past the first book), I would highly recommend you do :).

2)   The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion. It was The Hobbit that first sparked my love for the fantasy genre. I also love the Silmarillion. Basically it’s the history book for anything Middle Earth.

3)   Pride and Prejudice. Personally I think this is the best romance written. Girl meets boy. Girl hates boy. Girl realizes she was wrong about boy. Boy does everything to win girl back. Love it!

4)   The Scarlet Pimpernel. I read this book for the first time a couple months ago and absolutely loved it. It takes place during the French Revolution (fascinating time period) and revolves around a mysterious man who, with the help of a group of young English noblemen, smuggles French nobility out of France.

5)   Jane Eyre. A darker tale of love, but beautiful as well. It is about a young woman who has to choose between the way of love and the way of virtue. She chooses to stand by her convictions. At the end of the book, she is finally free to marry the man she loves who by then has paid the price for his past wrongs. A wonderful book about enduring love.

6)   Mark of the Lion Series. Excellent three book series that takes place during the Roman time period right after the fall of Jerusalem. The story follows a young Jewish woman who is sold as a slave into a roman household. Great historical fiction.

7)   Star Wars: Heir to the Empire series. There are many Star Wars books out there written by many different authors, but my all time favorite is this first series written by Timothy Zahn. If you want to read Star Wars, start with this series.

8)   Harry Potter. I first began reading this series after the teens in my youth group were asking about Harry Potter. This post is not the place to discuss the controversies surrounding Harry Potter (instead, go to this link* where I friend of mine discusses why Harry Potter is important to Christian discernment in reading). I love the books. J.K. Rowling has written an amazing world and deep characters.

9)   Sherlock Holmes. Yep, I love the man of deduction. It always fascinates me how Sherlock Holmes is able to solve each mystery by seeing what we all see, but in a different way. Classic mystery.

10)  Chronicles of Narnia. I could not end a post like this without mentioning C.S. Lewis and his stories about Narnia. I will say the books are better than the movies. So go read them.

So there’s my list. I would love to hear from my readers what are your most favorite books, those books whose covers are worn and pages dirty, but you read time after time after time again. Please share in the comments. Maybe I’ll find a new love amongst your lists :).



Why isn’t Marriage Romantic Anymore?

Dan and I were watching The Event one night. Afterwards, I turned to Dan and told him they should have had two of the main characters married instead of just dating. I would have pulled for them more. Then Dan pointed out something: most of the world does not see the romance or permanence of marriage anymore.

Dan’s words saddened me. I guess I’m one of those that still believes marriage can be the strongest human relationship in the world. Where a man finds a woman and chooses to love only her the rest of his life. Where a woman stands beside her man as his lover, friend, and ally. The kind of bond that if the woman went missing, the man will go to the ends of the earth to find her (cue music “I’ll Always Find You”).

I have a hard time believing in that kind of permanent love between two people merely dating. And even harder time believing that of total strangers. Yet that is the romance we see on the big screen or read about in books.

I know, I know, you’re saying that kind of romantic marriage is more fairytale than reality. And considering the amount of divorce, infidelity, and disrespect in marriages nowadays, it’s easy to see why. But isn’t the heartthrobbing, I-will-throw-myself-in-front-of-the-monster (even though I’ve only known you two days), let’s kiss (and do more) but I may or may not be here tomorrow kind of love just as fairytalish?

Why is it that marriage has to be unexciting, unromantic, or the big problem in a movie/book? Why can’t it be the romantic element? That together, the hero and heroine are stronger than they would be apart?

I love the opening scene to Star Wars: Survivors Quest by Timothy Zahn. We watch Luke Skywalker and his wife Mara Jade totally clean out the bad guys. But not just in that scene. They do that through the entire book. And Star Wars series. Apart, Luke and Mara are pretty good jedis. Together, unbeatable. They are a fictional example of a great husband/wife team. They love each other exclusively, watch each other’s backs, powerful in their own right, but even more so together. Why can’t we have more romance like that?

Or how about Spy Kids? The movie starts out with two international spies assigned to take out the other. Of course, they fall in love instead and choose to embark on the “greatest journey of all”: marriage (and kids :)).

I would love to see more of this kind of romance when I read or watch a movie. A romance where marriage is a good thing, something to be desired. It reinforces my own desire for a good marriage, one worth fighting for.

How about you? Would you like to see more of this kind of romance? What books or movies have you seen marriage portrayed as romantic?

Book Review: Tales of a Dim Knight

Dave Johnson, a mild mannered janitor and superhero lover, finds a box one night inside the FBI building he cleans. Of course, he opens the box. Inside is an alien symbiote who attaches to Dave. Through their connection this alien gives him almost any and every power he could want.

Tales of the Dim Knight follows Dave as he uses his powers to save Seattle. Unfortunately, super hero powers do not translate into a good marriage and family, something Dave learns almost too late in this spoof of the super hero world.

Strengths: There are far too few super hero books with a Christian worldview out there. As a lover of the super hero genre, I am glad to see a couple making it to print. Tales of a Dim Knight is full of corny humor, larger than life characters, and nasty villains. I read this from another post and agree with this person’s assessment: Tales of a Dim Knight reads like a comic book without the pictures. If that’s your kind of story, then this is the book for you.

Weaknesses: I will admit it took me a couple chapters to get into Tales of a Dim Knight. I had a hard time connecting with Dave and his family. Dave’s obsession with superheroes was almost too much for me. But then the story mellowed out and I was able to connect more with Dave.

One other thing that I had a hard time with was the Christianity in the book. To me, the Christians and the church felt cliquish and preachy at times.

Do I recommend Tales of a Dim Knight? If you enjoy light humorous books with a super hero touch, then yes.

Check out what others are saying about Tales of a Dim Knight:

3/17/ James Somers http://www.jamessomers.blogspot.com/

3/20 and 3/27 David James http://newauthors.wordpress.com/

4/1/ April Erwin http://www.projectinga.blogspot.com/

4/3/ Phyllis Wheeler www.Christian-Fantasy-Book-Reviews.com

4/4/ Noah Arsenault http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/

4/4/ Sarah Sawyer www.sarahsawyer.com/blog

4/5/ Tammy Shelnut http://www.bluerosesheart.blogspot.com/

4/6/ Timothy Hicks http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com/

4/7 Joan Nienhuis http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com

4/8 Carol E. Keen http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/

4/11 Morgan L. Busse https://morganlbusse.wordpress.com

4/14/ Emily LaVigne http://southernfiberreads.wordpress.com/

4/15 Chawna Schroeder http://chawnaschroeder.com

4/22 Frank Creed http://afrankreview.blogspot.com

4/28/ Beckie Burnham http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com

5/3/ Amy Cruson http://the160acrewoods.com


For more information on Tales of a Dim Knight, click here. If you want to find Tales of a Dim Knight on Amazon, click here.


More about the authors Adam and Andrea Graham:

Adam Graham is a multi-talented author known for his wit and poignancy. His political column appears on Pajamasmedia.com and Renew America. He also has short stories published in the anthology Light at the Edge of Darkness, and in the Laser & Sword e-zine. He hosts the Truth and Hope Report podcast, as well as the Old Time Dragnet Radio Show, Great Detectives of Old Time Radio and the Old Time Superman Radio Show. Mr. Graham holds a general studies Associate of Arts degree from Flathead Valley Community College with a concentration in Journalism. He tweets at @idahoguy, @dimknight and @radiodetectives.

Andrea Graham co-authored Adam’s first novel, Tales of the Dim Knight. Her short story “Frozen Generation” also appeared in Light at the Edge of Darkness. She studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University. Visit her online at POVbootcamp.com and Ask Andrea, or follow her tweets @povbootcamp.
Adam and Andrea live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho. They are members of several writers groups, including Lost Genre Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers. Adam is president of their local ACFW chapter, Idahope.



*I received a free digital copy of Tales of a Dim Knight from the authors in order to review and give my honest opinion.