Speaking of Challenges


Don’t forget that The Fantasy Challenge is winding down. We have a great group of participants, some who have taken advantage of the opportunity to enter the challenge more than once, but you have a few more days to add your name.

On July 1 I will be doing the drawings to determine our prize winners, first for Sharon Hinck‘s The Restorer, then for Bryan Davis‘s Dragons in Our Midst.

I’ll post the names of the winners once I’ve made the drawings, but just a word of caution in advance to whomever might win—both Bryan and Sharon will be participating in the Fantasy Four tour, so they may not be able to send out the prizes until after they get home towards the end of July.

My post yesterday on the Spring Reading Thing has me thinking about summer reading. Add to that The Fantasy Challenge, and I’m locked in on summer fantasy reading, secular or Christian. (As much as I support Christian fantasy, published by CBA houses, I am by no means advocating a policy of exclusion. Not to mention that for writers, it’s good to learn by reading top writers, and sometimes those are found in the ABA.)

So fantasy fans, what fantasies are you planning on reading this summer?

In no special order, my list includes the following:

  • In Winter’s Shadow, Gillian Bradshaw
  • DragonFire, Donita Paul
  • The Hand That Bears the Sword, George Bryan Polivka
  • Shaman’s Crossing, Robin Hobb
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling
  • The Return of the King, J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Who, in your opinion, should I be adding to the list?

    Published in: on June 26, 2007 at 11:02 am  Comments (14)  

    Male Protagonists and the Women Who Read Them


    Well, I’ll admit, I thought that title was a little provocative. I don’t really have any studies to unveil or deep insights about the subject. Mostly I want to echo some of the people who responded to yesterday’s post. And give my own background.

    I grew up with an ecclectic reading experience. I was a Nancy Drew fan—gobbled the books down. But I also had access to my brother’s extensive personal library. I read the Sugar Creek Gang books—or had them read to me. I also read Danny Orlis and the Hardy boys, even the Christian version —the Halliway boys. At one point I fell in love with Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books, and then the Island Stallion. My first foray into the classics, though, was with Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. I continued on with the Bronte sisters, though I mixed in Dumas and Steinbeck and a host of others.

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a particular pattern. Girl books, guy books. Mystery, contemporary, romance, horse stories, people stories. I was exposed to books of all kinds, some well written, others not so much. Some with male protagonists, others with female leads. I can’t help but feel richer for all of it.

    Why would anyone want to read only about people like them? I mean, isn’t part of the magic of reading, the chance to go places and “live” in times other than out own? And don’t we get to meet people who are like us but beyond us because they are braver, wiser, more adventurous? Don’t we also get to meet people who are like us inside but are in circumstances vastly different from our own, as well as people who are wholly other than we are?

    That being said, I think I’d like to challenge women readers to read some of the fine CBA books with male protagonists. And of course the guys are invited along. Here are some authors I’d recommend and the books I read.

  • George Bryan Polivka, The Legend of the Firefish (Harvest House, 2007), fantasy.
  • T. Davis Bunn, Elixir (Thomas Nelson, 2004).
  • T. L. Hines, Waking Lazarus (Bethany, 2006). If you’re interested, check out my review of the book.
  • Alton Gansky, Submerged (Barbour, 2005).
  • Chris Well, Forgiving Solomon Long and Tribulation House (Harvest House, 2007).
  • Other male author with male protagonists you might want to explore:
    Ted Dekker
    L. B. Graham (fantasy)
    Robin Parrish
    Robert Liparulo

    Then there are books written by female authors with male protagonists. Karen Hancock comes to mind with her Legend of the Guardian-King series. I suspect there are others that I’m not remembering right now, but this is enough to get you started.

    And guys, I’d suggest you take a brave pill ( 😉 )and read a book or two with a female protagonist. I suggest you start with Sharon Hinck. There are some guys who have already read her books because of the reviews they were assigned and were surprised to discover there was much they connected with. If you’re skittish about the mom-lit Becky Miller (no relation) books put out by Bethany, try the just released fantasy The Restorer (NavPress, 2007).

    Your turn. What titles/authors would you recommend?

    Published in: on May 16, 2007 at 10:31 am  Comments (18)  

    First Spring Reading Review


    Well, I admit I might have cheated a little. I put on my Spring Reading List (see Saturday’s post) a book I was about half way through. I justified this because I came at the Spring Reading Challenge late, so I thought it was fair for me to include a book I’d already started. I’ll let you be the judge if that was “cricket” or not.

    At any rate, this weekend I finished Gillian Bradshaw’s Hawk of May (Simon and Schuster).

      Hawk of May

    I admit, I haven’t read an ABA book in quite some time. Add to the fact that this book came into print in the 80s, when writing wasn’t yet so quided by the film industry, and I found this to be … refreshing.

    Don’t take this as a diss on CBA, please. However, I do think, with a few exceptions, there is a certain feel that CBA books have.

    Since the powers that be claim the CBA audience is 90 percent a narrow slice of society, it makes sense to write books that this slice would wish to buy. The result, in my opinion, is a certain commonality, that makes the books feel as if cut from the same cloth.

    All that to say, it was refreshing to read Hawk of May precisely because it felt different.

    I’ll also say, I’m not a big fan of Arthurian tales, and this is one more of a long, long line. And yet, I am eager to read the second in the series. I found myself crying in more than one place, and certainly cheering for the hero.

    Today’s writers would rip the book apart because of all the narrative. “Show, don’t tell” they’d scribble all over the manuscript. They’d complain about information dumps and criticize the inclusion of “too much” backstory, especially early on.

    Maybe these criticisms are valid and point out why Hawk of May was not a best seller. I only know the story captivated me, because the protagonist won my heart. Not immediately, though I sympathized with him. But eventually I came to empathize, too, which is much stronger. I came to love what he loved, to believe what he believed, to wish what he wished.

    I guess the story would be tagged a Young Adult fantasy, though I think it is a book adults would like more than youth. There is a coming of age experience which is more typically aimed at teens, but I can’t help think a lot of adults need to come of age, too.

    I highly recommend Hawk of May to readers of all stripes.

    Published in: on April 9, 2007 at 10:39 am  Comments (3)  

    Spring Reading Thing


    I wish I knew how to turn this cool sticker into a link.

    Spring Reading Thing

    I’ve joined a very cool Spring Reading Challenge started by Katrina at Callapidder Days. Granted, I’m coming into the challenge late, and I haven’t really thought through which books I want to read this spring, but here’s a start. I don’t know if it’s strictly according to challenge rules, but I just may edit this list as I see what else is on the reading horizon. As of now, I aim to read the following:

    Robin Parrish, Fearless (Bethany)
    Austin Boyd, The Evidence (NavPress)
    Austin Boyd, The Proof (NavPress)
    George Bryan Polivka , The Hand That Bears the Sword (Harvest House)
    Sharon Hinck, Restorer’s Son (NavPress)
    Brandilyn Collins, Coral Moon (Zondervan)
    Gillian Bradshaw, Hawk of May (Simon and Schuster)
    Gillian Bradshaw, Kingdom of Summer (Simon and Schuster)
    Kathleen Popa, To Dance in the Desert (River Oak)

    Published in: on April 7, 2007 at 10:09 am  Comments (8)  
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