Tuesday, August 23, 2016

To Get To You, by Joanne Bischof

Something about this book grabbed me and wouldn't let go ever since I saw the cover and synopsis.

I don't know what it was. It was just the square, sure knowledge that I needed to read it, and it was one I might fall in love with.

On National Book Lover's Day, I treated myself to a Kindle copy.

And I did fall in love with it.

The Book [from Goodreads]
To get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle.

Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it.

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.

A story of new beginnings and second chances.

My Thoughts 
If I could pin down my favorite element of fiction books ever, it's male camaraderie. Any book that has a decent amount of close friendship between guys is one I'm likely to love and read again. Fortunately I'm not the only author who likes this element. While To Get To You sounds like a romance, it actually spends most of the novel on Riley's trip with his dad, Jake. The romance is a catalyst to throwing Riley and his dad together for the real plot of facing each other and what they've become. Along the way, there's tons of good guy interaction between Jake and his best friend, Saul.

Probably To Get To You is so appealing to me because it's something I'd like to write. Throw together vivid characters, some angst, some comic relief, warm fuzzy moments, and an intense authorial pleasure in the little moments of life, and you've got a delicious literary smoothie of delights for any bookworm. To Get To You has all that. It's a book you want to read by the beach, or on summer vacation, one that you put down with a sigh of content.

I read it while I was supposed to be cleaning for company.

tsk, tsk, schuyler 

I really liked the way Bischof handled Riley's character arc. Probably some authors would start with him at the lowest possible point and cram too much character transformation into the story, making it hard to believe, and therefore, less satisfying. Bischof doesn't do that. Riley has a broken past, but he's found some good mentors and taken some upward steps before the story begins. Bischof shows us a manageable and believable chunk of another step in his life, as he fights between anger and grace, withdrawal and reaching out. Plus, the angst doesn't drive the story every moment. There are normal moments between him and Jake and Saul, where they're just regular people on a road trip together. The cadence of this book in plot and characterization development is very pleasing--relaxing, but never boring or dragging.

One really cute thing about it--and one I liked--was that Riley's love interest is a homeschool girl. Her parents are involved with him and what's going on, and it's a pretty good portrayal of what homeschoolers are like. I love the fact that an unlikely couple is matched up. Probably because again, when I write, I like to take an outcast like Riley and give them dignity and love. The only complaint I have about the story is that most homeschooler parents of Becca's type probably wouldn't allow the amount of physical affection they did (though it still had extremely conservative boundaries) and one scene broke my suspension of believe because of that. I would probably recommend this book for late teens and early twenties due to the romance and elements of Jake and Riley's lifestyle that are better for more mature readers.

To Get To You was a great book to read when I needed some very gentle soul care. I love remembering it. It was a chance well worth taking, and I'll be on the lookout for more Joanne Bischof novels.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Colby! +Beautiful People

Some characters you create bring different feelings to your life: angst, pride, wonder, and a wistful longing to hug them.

Other characters have brought me some of the best sunshine I have ever experienced. Colby Fisher is one of them, and since it's his birthday today, I'm going to celebrate with a post all about him.



Colby's what you could call an accident, I suppose. Technically he wasn't supposed to exist at all. I was writing about a marine and a ballet dancer who made an unexpected friendship on a cruise. While it might sound a bit cliche, it's actually turned into one of the most warm-hearted, fun, and well-received stories I've written. When I was searching for character inspiration photos, I had two actors to decide between for the leading role. While one actor was the clear winner, I couldn't get the other one out of my mind. 

And thus Colby as a sidekick came to be. Funny, loyal, and simple-hearted, I can't imagine what life would be like without him. The story certainly wouldn't be the same, and he's kept all of us in gales of laughter ever since he was created. 

So let me introduce him to you, and we can join the party fun.

(with thanks to the Beautiful People July edition for the questions.) 

Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

Of course Colby does. And I'm sure a lot of people would take him, too. He'd love to have some little Colbys running around, and he'd be the sort of dad that would take them on random bike rides and put movies on before breakfast on Saturday and get up to help them in the middle of the night when they're sick and read Bible stories to them. Short ones. He's not into long books.


And he'd take his fiancee on some pretty cute outings if they were engaged. Just sayin'.

What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.) 

Colby prefers the Glock he keeps at home for a personal weapon when he's not deployed and likes using it for target practice. He's very fond of his Glock and very proud of his good aim. But he's comfortable with a variety of weapons, and he likes his knife collection, too. 

What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it? 

Once upon a time he helped his friend get a message to a sweetheart when his friend wasn't able to do it. That was pretty nice of him. 

No more. T'would be spoilers. 

Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it? 

Yes. But he would only do it if it was part of his life as a marine, or if he were somewhere where a woman was being threatened. He's not a generally violent-minded individual. 

Are they a rule-follower or a rebel? 

Colby's a rule follower when it comes to his job (which is a good thing, or he'd be in some serious trouble) and a rebel when it comes to what he likes to eat. He likes to eat what he wants and junk food is his favorite. His friend is vegan and constantly horrified with him. Colby doesn't care. He'll happily subsist on bacon and chocolate milk until life catches up with him.
Are they organized or messy? 

Messy. At home, when he's on leave. Because what's the point of picking everything up when his mom always does it for him? And besides, it'll all get cleaned up eventually anyway, so Colby's cool with it. 

What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way? 

Colby is a huge extrovert/quality time person. If you're with him and present in whatever's going on, then that makes him extremely happy and excited. He doesn't really need to sit around and talk about the deep things of life, though he'll do it if someone needs to--he just likes to be visiting somewhere, or competing at something, or eating good food with people he loves. 

Probably the last person to make him feel that way was his buddy, Julian. 

What do they eat for breakfast?

Pancakes or cereal with milk, depending on what people like to fix for him. Or both, if he takes the notion. And juice. Always juice.  

Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened? 

Never a person. When he was young, he lost one of his pets from old age, and when he was about sixteen he lost another dog from a road accident. Colby loves pretty much every dog that crosses his path, and he has several at his parents' house in Tennessee. If you want to be friends with Colby, you'll have to get along with his animals too. 

What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?) 

Maple bacon donuts. Chocolate milk. Beef jerky. Biscuits and gravy. Sprite. Chips.

Colby appears in two stories, Caribbean Dance and Caribbean Diary, and he'll appear in a third one hopefully in the not-to-distant future. Wishing him the warmest and happiest day with lots of quality time with people he loves. <3 br="" nbsp="">

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

20 Things We'd Tell Our Twentysomething Selves

Some days you need to take a fiction book to the beach and get lost in the story.

Other days you need to take a book that will immerse you in time with God.

I've done both recently, listening to what my body and mind are telling me they need in this slow process of refueling after some heavy studies.

The afternoon that I took a book of twenties advice to the beach, I was expecting it to be good. And I found in chapter after chapter a fresh measure of healing and grace that I had been needing for a long time.

The Book [from Goodreads]
Make the most of your 20s

Despite what many think, your twenties aren’t that dead space between youth and real life. Life is now, and how you spend these years makes all the difference.

In 20 Things Wed Tell Our Twentysomething Selves, professors Peter and Kelli Worrall help you make them count. They look back on the good, bad, and miserable to give the best of what they’ve learned, like why you should:


Dig deeper than your doubt
Foster good habits
Take risks
Adjust your expectations
Press into pain
and more

With warm, brilliant storytelling, the Worralls invite you into their life and home. They share about faith, marriage, drawn-out adoptions, dark nights of the soul, and the God who’s in it all. Wise, humble, caring, and fun, they’re the kind of mentors everyone wants but few have. And now they're yours.

20 Things is more than a collection of advice; it’s a book that can change your life. Let the trend of your twenties be sowing wisdom, and who knows what the rest of life will bring?

Includes action steps, discussion questions, and ideas for further reading at the end of each chapter.

My Thoughts
It's amazing, the roundabout ways God will take to send you exactly the book you need. My mom heard about 20 Things on a radio advertisement for Moody Radio, I thought I had heard of it before and looked it up on my book blogger program. It was available, so I requested it.

Little did I know just how amazing it was going to be.

I spent a Sunday afternoon at the beach learning--growing--resting--praying. I read a few sections, pondered a few minutes, wandered down the beach and read more--read it on a swing, on the sand, on a boardwalk bench, in the back of our van. I even underlined and marked in it, which is something rare for me.

Peter and Kelli taught me that it's OK to feel emotions, and how to process them. They taught me that sometimes emotions that you don't understand and don't expect come from trauma you haven't healed--and everyone needs to heal their trauma. They taught me that mentors may be many different people teaching us many different things. They taught me to feed my soul and learn to rest properly. They taught me how to plan good habits.

One morning the following week, I woke up amazed and delighted with the knowledge that I am loved--and let my mind linger over the Creator's love for me. That made such a better way to start the day than my normal worrying, wrestling, or busyness. That came from the section on "Living Loved". I've been lingering over and applying different sections of the book ever since I turned the last page.

Kelli and Peter are engaging authors. They have the gift of knowing and sympathizing with what life is like as a twenty-something. Each chapter is packed with advice, and while there were a few sections I struggled to understand and process correctly (Take Sin Seriously often turned into taking sin too seriously, and processing emotions can quickly get way too complicated for me) on the whole I was blessed. It felt like drinking a cold glass of water or having someone tell you to lie down and rest for a while.

It felt like they were taking care of me. Giving me answers I needed. Making sense of this twentysomething life in a compassionate and grace-filled way, that coupled with the grace of family and friends, is helping me through a difficult season.

While I did not have time to go through all the journaling questions due to the book deadline, they are a rich resource for examination and prayer, and I would like to go back through them. I think they would maximize the impact of the book even further, as amazing as it was just reading it.

I highly recommend purchasing this and soaking in its truth and grace. It's one I definitely want to read again.

And if you have a twentysomething in your life, consider giving it to them. It would be a gift that blesses them in a lot of ways.

This book was given me by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Sparrow in Terezin, by Kristy Cambron

You've all been dying to know, and I've killed you with suspense!!

The Kindle is christened....

Small. 

It was a close choice. But I nearly died of cuteness when I bought a book on Tuesday and had it delivered to Small. May it have a long and happy life, and I trust Jeeves will enter into existence someday in another technological form.

And now, I have a very special book review for you all.



Two Sundays ago, I spent my worship-rest on the beach, reading like crazy. I had just finished studies an turned them in in what turned out to be a whirlwind week, and nothing sounded so good to me like forgetting time existed, picking a book, and trying to read the whole thing in one day.

Because I wanted it to be something especially restful, I went with fiction. And because I wanted it to be something I could trust to be clean, and encourage rather than tax an over-tired brain, I went with Christian fiction. Kristy Cambron's A Sparrow in Terezin was an obvious choice.

Her book provided the most beautiful worship-rest experience that my soul needed.

The Book [from Goodreads]
Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor's story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day: With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairy tale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels like she's stumbled into a charmed life until a brutal legal battle against fiance William Hanover threatens to destroy their future before it even begins.

Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future with the man she loves.

1942: Kaja Makovsky narrowly escaped Nazi-occupied Prague in 1939 and was forced to leave behind her half-Jewish family. Now a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in England, Kaja discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, she has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kaja must cling to the faith that sustains them and fight to protect all they hold dear even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

My Thoughts 
Kaja's story of family, suffering, and love was moving. I turned page after page, and found it held a satisfying depth with a good balance of hope and sorrow. I've wondered since what I would do, if I were in circumstances where both hope and creativity were crushed, and it depended on the strength and endurance of a few souls to keep it alive. It made me think of something Jenny Frietag has said several times, something I deeply resonate with: a strong woman is a woman who gets up day after day and copes with life. (I repeat the gist, though I couldn't find Jenny's exact wording.) Kaja had to be a strong woman every day, like so many of us, in the best possible Christian, biblical sense of the term, under horrific circumstances. Her fulfillment didn't revolve solely around a glowing act of heroism, though that did come several times. It shone most brightly in what we all need to prize more: everyday faithfulness.

In the early chapters, before her life takes a dark turn, her dream man is very comforting, strong, and romantic. I enjoyed him as a newspaper journalist and resonated with them as a couple. There were times when I wasn't sure if Liam was using the name of God as reverently as he should, but I would be surprised if he wasn't, coming from Kristy and Tyndale. Kaja's promise to him was absolutely gut-wrenching.

I loved the tie-in with book one in the series, The Butterfly and the Violin. You'll definitely want to read that one first, to best appreciate this book.

As far as the modern story tie-in, I enjoyed following Sara's story as well. It gave a realistic portrait of early days of marriage, loving each other deeply but still inexperienced in figuring out love and communication and becoming one.

There were parts of William's legal battle that confused me--I didn't understand in the end why his signature was on certain documents when he said it wasn't his fault, and I need to go back and look over it again. I'm suspecting the speed with which I read it made me miss some of the connecting pieces.

It was chilling to read Kristy's afterwards and learn about the artwork of the children of the Holocaust. That such children should even have to be in such a place, and that still they found opportunity to create art, creates a compelling memory of them. This story is full of big, bold themes, and the bright talent that I've seen twice now from Kristy--it's just like her hopeful, loving heart that she shares on social media. I will treasure owning this series, and I look forward to reading it again and again. It truly is a Hidden Masterpiece.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Buy

I've never linked up with The Broke and the Bookish before, but I've seen the Top Ten Tuesday posts around, and last week's looked like grand fun: 10 Books I Would Buy If Someone Handed Me a Fully Loaded Gift Card. I missed it much to my chagrin, but this week is rewind week, so I get to do it after all!

Here are some books I'm looking forward to adding to my library:



The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp

I learned about it this week. This year I've felt what it means to be broken, and I think this book premise looks incredible. Definitely can't wait for release day.



The High Deeds of Finn MacCool, by Rosemary Sutcliff

I've read it twice from the library and loved it both times. Full of glory, splendor, breathtaking emotion--Sutcliff and Ireland at their finest.



Outlining Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland--paperback

I own it on ebook, but I think it would be a lot more convenient to thumb through, learn from, and underline a print copy. Plus, it would match the print copy of the workbook I have.



Structuring Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland--paperback

For the same reasons as Outlining as above.



The Ringmaster's Wife, by Kristy Cambron

I loved both A Sparrow in Terezin and The Butterfly and the Violin. Both are full of beauty, depth, hope, sacrifice, and sorrow. Anything Kristy writes I want to buy.



The Lady and the Lionheart, by Joanne Bischof.

This book has been really intriguing me ever since I saw the cover. Joanne Bischoff does hybrid publishing, and I love her brand name: Mason Jar Publications. I'm going to treat myself to another of her books soon to see if I'd like to try out The Lady and the Lionheart too.



A Time to Die, by Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes has such a fun author presence on social media, and for that alone I'd love to be part of her street team. But I have to read her book first!



Lark Rise to Candleford, by Flora Thompson.

Technically I could get this from the library, and I probably will, but since on my list of books to read, it would be fun to own. (Because I want to watch the TV show too. Yes.)



The First World War, Martin D. Gilbert

This book would be convenient simply for research. I hate ordering and returning it, and then needing it again for writing. It could keep the How to be a Spy company on the shelf. HOW CUTE. BOOK BUDDIES.



Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy

Another one I really want to read, to see if it's as good as I think it will be. Mostly because I want to see the movie, and I should read the book first.

Actually, ten books isn't too many, and I'm gradually giving myself opportunities to choose a treat after a big milestone, so with rewards for writing and life goals, I should be able to add these in to the family.

What's on your book wishlist?

Friday, August 5, 2016

In Which Comics Come to My Lady Bibliophile


The old world has ended.

The new world has just begun.

In an unprecedented move, Lady Bibliophile added Tintin to her Summer reading list and ordered it from the library. She even braved the children's section to find another volume when it turned out she didn't get the volume she wanted. In spite of not finding Tintin Comes to America, she took her books home and dove in shortly thereafter.

(Also, her sister stole one and READ AHEAD. AHEM.)

So here's what she thought of Tintin.

(And yes, she'll switch back to first person now.)

The Book 
The Adventures of Tintin, Volume 5--containing, Land of Black Gold, Destination Moon, Explorers On the Moon.

Land of Black Gold--When cars start mysteriously exploding, Tintin and Snowy head off to Khemed by boat to investigate. While the terrible Thompson twins start their own investigative trek through the desert, Tintin exhibits his prowess once again as he enters an oil war and the case of a kidnapped boy.

Destination Moon--When their friend Professor Calculus disappears, Captain Haddock and Tintin follow him to the land of Syldavia where they find he's the primary inventor of a top-secret trial rocket to the moon. But when spies enter the compound and Professor Calculus suffers loss of memory, it may not be easy to put the first explorers on the moon.

Explorers on the Moon--Tintin, Professor Calculus, and Captain Haddock are all passengers on the first rocket to the moon. It's the chance of a lifetime for all of them, but their task won't be easy. Stowaways, oxygen deprivation, and the dangers of taking off and landing a rocket all stand between them and their safe return to earth. Will this be Tintin's last adventure?

My Thoughts

For my first foray into Tintin, of course it would be up top to ask who my favorite characters are. Tintin's an adorable investigator with an iron head, and as other reviewers have said, a character with unswerving faithful integrity. He's a good audience lead character. Snowy is an adorable grump, and I think the Thompson twins are pretty cute, mixing up their words and getting themselves into terrible scrapes. Professor Calculus is also endearing, with his constant need of someone to take care of him. Abdullah, however, is a terrible child, and it gives credit to Tintin that he helped him as long as he did.

In spite of two dimensional villains and a tendency to resolve crisis points for Tintin with fast, easy fixes (there's probably an official term for that. I haven't learned it yet.) the stories are nonstop interesting. Comic books force you to go from one suspense point to another. No one's going to stick around for a boring comic book, so everything moves at a tight pace. I appreciated the transition break points that made it possible to put the book down and pick it up at a logical point again.

At first I found the pictures overwhelming. There's so many on each page, and you have to take them in fairly quickly, but being a complete comic novice, I didn't know how to do that. However, I sped up fairly quickly, and by the time I got partway through Land of the Black Moon, it was grand fun to discover the threads of similarity that run through the Tintin's clothing choices. Herge put Tintin in disguises that still make it easy for the reader to identify him as Tintin, simply by using the same basic colors for his costumes.

Tintin has some elements that make it far from a little kid's comic book. You'll find very occasional language, though not much. Captain Haddock's constant whiskey drinking habit wasn't really a lot of fun, and there was a dark plot ending in one of the books that I skimmed because I didn't want to deal with it at the time. However, on the whole these books are an entertaining, brand new world of colorful fun. I'd definitely like to read more, and I can't wait to see how the movie turns out.

Monday, August 1, 2016

In Which Schuyler Explains Herself

Me this afternoon, sleeping the sleep of the victorious warrior. Except as a human. 

Hi friends!

So you may not have noticed, but there was *cough* ABSOLUTELY NO BLOG POST ON FRIDAY.

AND NO EXPLANATION EITHER.

I mean, good grief. ANYTHING could have happened. I could have been kidnapped by pirates, or rocketed into space, or gone running for my life with Alan Breck and Davie. I wish.

Well, it turns out I was studying. It was my last day of getting the course done, and I got it done, but by the time I finished after supper I was an exhausted lump of Chocolate-less Tired Happy Hobbit.

So we will resume blog posts on Friday. I ate up 3 Tintin comic books recently, AND read A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron, so we've got some exciting reviews in store. They were both wonderful.

To tide us over, I'd love to know: What are you currently reading? What do you think of it?

I'm currently Kidnapped, and Go Teen Writers. Loving them both, and savoring them as much as possible. Though I may take a notion to tear through the rest of both books at any moment. You just never know.

(Concerned friends: "Did Schuyler really write this post? I mean, there were all caps and everything." Yes. Yes, she did.)
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