Friday, December 26, 2008

The Unseen: By T.L. Hines

"I always feel like somebody's watchin' meeeeeee..." Remember that 80's song?

Ever feel like you're being watched? The Unseen by T.L. Hines will make you think maybe you're not imagining things after all.

Lucas is a Peeping Tom--sort of. He lives on the fringes of society, in the shadows and nooks and crannies where no one's supposed to be. And then when HE is discovered, he's forced to make choices that rip his anonymity away forever. He's forced to deal with people face-to-face instead of watching from a distance and imagining what their lives are really like.

I won't spill the beans on this of course, but the thrill ride made me go from feeling sorry for Lucas (even though he sort of creeped me out a little at first). I wanted him to succeed until the end, when he is ready to sacrifice all--I wanted to stand up and cheer for him.

This book has bad guys, good guys, really bad guys, international intrigue, the ticking bomb, and a story that kept twisting around on itself until the end made me go--aha!! The Unseen says a lot about our voyeuristic yet detached society in a frightening way.

I was SO glad to read this over vacation, where I didn't HAVE to put it down right away, because I didn't want to.

As a writer, I really enjoyed this book, too. I want to say that we writers have a responsibility when reading someone else's book, to read it first for the pure enjoyment of the story and not critique the thing in our heads. It's not our place. This is a product bought by a publisher and produced for enjoyment and already printed. It's not our business to "fix" it in our minds. It's tempting, though, sometimes to do that when we writers read, and that's not a fair practice.

But as a writer, I was reading The Unseen and I thought,"Wow, I can see what he did here. That's so COOL! He definitely upped the suspense."

And I loved seeing how Lucas changed throughout the story. I couldn't help thinking that as I read.

One of those books that makes me say, "I wanna write like this when I grow up." This was the first book by TL Hines that I've read, and it won't be the last.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christian Bookworm Reviews 2008 Advent Calendar

2008 Advent Calendar Day 12 Lynette Sowell

Join me over at Christian Bookworm Reviews where I share a special Christmas memory. Plus, be sure to check out the other preceding days. I'm in excellent company with some fine authors.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Book Signing -- Killeen, TX

Quick news flash! If you're in the Killeen area, stop by Hastings on Saturday, December 6 between noon and 3 PM. I'll be signing A Suspicion of Strawberries and The Wiles of Watermelon. Hastings is at the corner of WS Young Drive and Business 190.

The Truth About You

I recently received a copy of Marcus Buckingham's latest release, The Truth About You. One of the reasons I chose this book is because I have an 18-year-old son who's a senior in high school, and we've had multiple go-rounds about what he's going to "do with his life" after high school. Part of his dilemma (I think) is the fact that he honestly doesn't know what his strengths are (besides video games and computers).

The pluses: Not only is this a short book, but it can be read in short sittings. If you're busy, you can set it down. Marcus's writing style is straightforward and clear. BUT this is also a book to make you think (see below).

It also comes with a short DVD that features Marcus talking about the principles of finding your strengths, what strengths and weaknesses are (as he defines them). The DVD serves as an introduction to the ideas in the book. This is ideal for those who enjoy multimedia--especially visual and auditory learners. The book is also meant to be hands-on. Included is a two-sided ReMemo pad. He clearly explains how to use this as well.

Marcus gives specific guidelines for how to find your strengths and narrow down your three best strengths. In theory, those are the strengths that should guide you into the job--into the career--that will give you the most satisfaction.

My son and I watched the 20-minute DVD and discussed the sections in the book dealing with discovering strengths. He's a video game and computer nut. We actually found a strength for him--He likes problem solving and strategy, finding solutions to win (video gaming). I never thought I'd find that strength for him in video gaming, but that makes sense.

We also talked about a class in school where he feels like he's at his best, as if time flies during class, and he looks forward to working--this is his computer animation class.

I think this book is an excellent starting point for helping someone discover what they're truly good at, their God-given strength. Although I wouldn't call this a "Christian" book, its principles brought to mind the talent/strength of Olympian and missionary Eric Liddell. He said, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure." That to me is the feeling of a real strength.

The cover. While I liked the packaging--the DVD slides nicely into the pocket inside the front cover, and the ReMemo pad fits into its box inside the back cover--I didn't like the colors and font/graphics. I honestly would never have picked this up if I saw it in a store.

Also, I felt like this book was merely a starting point for discovering strengths. I would have liked to know more about what to do if a strength is something you're not "good" at, but you love. Should you abandon this effort? I was left with a few questions after going through this book with my son.

Overall impression: I think this book will help us and help him as he decides what's next after graduation. I'd rather him find his strengths now and learn to build on them, than get into a job he's miserable at, marking time and only looking forward to weekends.

You can check out a preview of the book here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Two Little Words

First of all, I must say--egads, it's December! Where did November go?

That's right. I had a book to finish. Anyway, that's done. Francesca and Alfred's story is with my editor. Watch for All That Glitters next fall from Heartsong Presents.

So. Two little words. They are very powerful when spoken sincerely. They mean nothing if used out of obligation.

This summer I wrote a blog post about not being afraid to say "I love you." After a friend's sudden death, I talked about those moments that pass quickly, and the people who pass through our lives as well.

Here's two more words to day: I'm sorry.

Back in high school, I took two years of Spanish, and I do remember how to say I'm sorry: lo siento. This literally means "I feel it."

How many conflicts and rifts exist between us all because no one spoke two simple words from their heart?

I'm sorry.
I feel it.
I feel the pain that I caused you, and it hurts me to know you hurt as well.
So I'm sorry.

Many times pride forces us to close our mouths and close our hearts and make excuses:
"They know I'm sorry."
"They know I didn't really mean it."
"They just need to get over it."
"You know how they are: just over-sensitive."

So we go on our merry way, assuming that the other person is fine, or will be fine in time. But we don't realize the hurt we cause does not always lose its sting as quickly as we think. We sometimes expect others to recognize our hurt and apologize immediately, but then we also expect any hurt we've inflicted to heal up just as fast.

I tell you what helps healing along: two little words. I'm sorry. Usually once those two words are out, the rest of it can flow and healing can come.

Christmas is about reconciliation. How about spreading that around?