Tuesday, April 24, 2018

TPA Homeschool Convention 2018

Or in other words, my first ever conference as an author...ever! :)

I had so much fun!

April 12th-14th I was off on a brand new adventure: sitting behind a table with my books displayed before me for the world to see, talking to complete strangers (terrifying experience, that), and making connections as an author.

My brother--I should say "one of" as I have many--was the one who convinced me to do this conference and helped me get it put together. My parents came on board and were an immense help as well. It was all crazy and new; ordering physical copies of my books (just how many copies does one need?) and creating business cards and paying for a booth space. And then the day of the conference arrived and it was talking to strangers and trying not to being a narcissist while talking solely about myself and my books.

Surprisingly--at least to me--I actually did sell books! And I made a few new connections with fellow Indie authors...and all-in-all I simply had a blast! I'm so glad that I went!

I'm excited to return next year to this conference, and I am excited to look into other conferences as well that I can go to. This is a new era for me as an author, and so far I am loving it!

That was a rather short recap there, but I really don't have a lot to say. I had a lot of fun, and I want to do it again! What I learned throughout the convention is that I need classes on how to talk to strangers, especially when all I'm doing is selling a product. It's just so awkward and embarrassing to talk to humans at the best of times, and then add that I'm selling something and it's just awful.

My favorite moment of the weekend was when a lady realized my Robin Hood series incorporates the redemption story (a.k.a Jesus) and she asked if the books were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There's four Robin Hood books right now, so I can see how that could have made sense...but no. I did not retell the gospel books via Robin Hood. At any rate, it made me laugh.

Anyway, if I head to anymore conferences or conventions I'll be sure to update you all on that when it happens. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: Blink of an Eye

Today I am reviewing Blink of an Eye by Ted Dekker. This is actually a reprinting of his book Blink. I'm not sure how much was changed between the two versions, but I do know that he made some edits to Blink and created Blink of an Eye just before the movie based on this book came out. I haven't read Blink, or seen the movie, but I did just finish reading Blink of an Eye.

Sorry if that was a tad bit confusing.

So what is this book all about?

The future changes in the blink of an eye...or does it? Miriam is a Saudi princess promised to another, a pawn in a political struggle that could shift the balance of power in the Middle East. Seth is a certified genius with a head full of numbers, a life full of baggage, and an attitude born on the waves of the Pacific. Cultures collide when they find themselves thrown together as fugitives in a high-stakes chase across Southern California. A growing attraction and a search for answers fuel their fight to survive...but with no sleep and a massive manhunt steadily closing in, their chances of surviving any future are razor thin.

This isn't in the description of the book (spoilers? What I'm about to say is in the description of Blink, just not Blink of an Eye for some reason...), but I'm going to add that Seth is given an incredible and unfathomable gift of being able to see the future. Not completely and not distantly, but he can at least see more than what is happening to him in the present.

First Impressions? I really enjoyed this story and I couldn't put it down.

It took me all of two days to read this book. I wasn't surprised by that at all, because Ted Dekker is, among every author I've read to date, the most skilled at creating irresistible page-turning stories.

The characters in this book are vibrant and leap off of the page. They all felt very real; beautifully so when it came to Miriam and Seth, the main characters, and rather terrifyingly so when it came to the antagonists. I believed this story because it felt just that; real.

I have already mentioned this, but I could not put this book down. The intense, spell-bounding tale of political intrigue had me turning pages at a rapid rate; and Seth's uncanny ability to see the futures--and yes, that is plural--had me on the edge of my seat. You might think a story about a boy who can see the future would be pretty straight forward--what could happen that Seth and we as the reader don't already know--but Ted Dekker just kept throwing plot twists in my lap and it was amazing. This was an incredibly fun read.

Now let's talk about the meat of this story: Faith. Seth is not a believer in Jesus and Miriam is deeply Muslim. They aren't particularly searching for the truth throughout the story, but they are struggling with what it means to love. Miriam is betrothed to another man for political reasons if nothing else, and has never even met him. Seth is just a college kid who is too smart for his own good. On this crazy adventure that they find themselves on, the two of them discover something simple. Love. I'm not talking about romantic love or any other specific element of that four letter emotion. Just love. I thought it was truly beautiful the way that Dekker didn't try and make the characters run into some sort of evangelical on their journey who would lead them to salvation; Jesus wasn't shoved down their throats. They came to their conclusions on their own in the most natural and simplest way possible. I loved it. I feel that a lot of times Christian fiction doesn't seem plausible. People become believers simply because that's what the author intended of them, but it doesn't feel natural. This story, however, felt more natural than any other I've read to date. And I loved it! I am an avid lover of Jesus, but sometimes Christian fiction is too preachy even for me. This story, however, was not that way.

I will also add that I found Dekker's take on the Muslim community refreshing in the sense that every one of them wasn't portrayed as a terrorist. They were people. Some of them radical in their faith, some of them simply deeply involved in it--as many Christians are in their own--and some of them simply going through the motions.

Now, with that being said, I know very little about Islam myself. I haven't studied the religion or culture, I haven't met many people who are a part of it. I can't say that a Muslim reading Blink of an Eye would agree that it is a realistic or authentic take on Islam. So take everything I just said with a grain of salt and the understanding that I'm not an expert on this subject at all. I was just relieved to find a group of Muslims portrayed as a group of people; some of them passionate about their faith, some of them less so. Each one of them unique; as real people are.

Would I read this book again? A thousand times, YES.

Would I recommend this book to others? Without hesitation. Please, go read it. It's AMAZING.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Book Review: True Courage/Kidnapped

I have another book review for you! This time of True Courage, the final (sort of) novel in Dee Henderson's Uncommon Heroes series. Technically speaking, this book is no longer available as True Courage, Uncommon Heroes #4. It has been renamed Kidnapped and removed from the Uncommon Heroes series. Why? I have no idea. I didn't do any research into that odd situation. On some level it does rather make sense, considering True Courage has zero characters or plot in common with books 1-3. They were military based entirely, and True Courage isn't. At any rate, the copy of this novel that I read is True Courage, not Kidnapped, so I'm reviewing it as True Courage. As far as I know, the only thing changed was the title, not the story itself, so this review should hold for both. Don't quote me on that though.

So what is this story all about?

Someone snatched his cousin's wife and son. FBI agent Luke Falcon is searching for a kidnapper and sorting out the crime. He's afraid it is the work of a stalker. He's afraid they're already dead. And he'll do anything required to get them back alive...he didn't plan on falling in love with the only witness.

First Impressions? This book was a lot slower to get into. To be fair, with any average novel I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but the fact it took two chapters for me to be hooked to a Dee Henderson novel struck me as odd. She usually catches me on page 1. However, once I was hooked, she delivered the same spell-binding, suspenseful, amazing storytelling she always does.

I know I say this with every Dee Henderson novel, but her characters are practically flawless. Not that the characters don't have faults but that they are written so well.

Her ability to string the reader along on an intense mystery of uncovering the truth before someone gets hurt is awe-inspiring.

I'm basically just a fangirl of Dee Henderson at this point. Expect zero intellectual or analytical breakdown of this book or any other of hers. I'm just here to rave about how awesome she is!

Because it took me two chapters or so to really get hooked on this story, I had half written a start to this review where I talked about how this is my least favorite Dee Henderson book and I was even bored by it....and then I got past the beginning and realized it could easily be a favorite Dee Henderson novel of mine. She's just that good. I don't think she's physically capable of writing a bad novel.

I will say, faith took a bit of a backseat in this one. Not that it wasn't there, because it definitely was. The two main characters have a very solid relationship with Jesus and that was definitely showcased. Usually in Dee Henderson novels the main character is struggling with a specific aspect of faith that they then deal with/learn through the tale. That wasn't the case in this specific story which is why I say it took a backseat. It was still very present, it just wasn't a plot point.

Would I read it again? Absolutely.

Would I recommend this book to others? 100% YES.