Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The ol' switcheroo . . .

I've moved the blog over to a wordpress site, so if you are following me, I'd REALLY appreciate it if you would hop on over to the new site and there you'll find a feed burner sign up form. You can sign up to receive the blog in your email box, so you don't miss it.

Thanks so much!
You as readers, encourage me so much. Thanks for following me . . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sound Familiar?

I've read a lot of stories. A couple months ago I picked up a book in the bargain pile at my local bookstore (you know, those places where you can actually HOLD the book in your hand before you buy it?). I saved the book for a couple weeks, waiting for that perfect afternoon when I would have a couple hours to dive into a new story.

That afternoon finally presented itself. I read the first page. A prick of disappointment seeped into my heart because I guessed where this story would be going. How could the author be so obvious? I read to the end of the first chapter and realized the reason I was able to guess the plot line was because I'd read it before. Hello! 

Have you ever picked up a book, completely unaware you'd read it before? Maybe I'm just dense, but cut me some slack - the cover had been redone. And the back cover copy sounded so good . . . for good reason. I enjoyed the book very much the first time. 

I don't say all this to brag about my enormous list of "already read" books. It's not so long there aren't any more new ones to read, trust me. It does prove the point that we are drawn to a similar type of book time and again. For me, it's either an historical novel with lovely twists, or else it's a richly-layered contemporary novel. I tend to stay in the same vein, mining the best stories I can find. 

I think that's okay. But every once in a while, I like to force something different on myself. That's why I love book clubs. They make us read stuff we wouldn't necessarily choose ourselves, and most of the time, we are the better for it.

Do you find yourself in a genre-rut? If so, what genre? And do ever find ways to jump out of that rut?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I sorta wanted to be Ann Voskamp

I admit it. Thirty pages into One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I almost thought about becoming a farm wife who home-schools her children. (I didn't tell my hubby he'd have to walk away from the hospital and buy a farm.) And I thought about picking up my camera more often - cuz it sits in the closet so much. I even considered hand washing the dishes to meditate on soap suds.

Mostly, I wanted to be the person who could write some of the most beautiful words I've ever read. Her words pierce. They play across the page and sing to your soul until all of a sudden you are face to face with a moment and you must talk to God about it. And sometimes you know He's not gonna like what you're thinking.

Whew. I still have thirty pages to go. And I'm reading it slow. Soaking it up. Pondering, like Mary. And I hope this book will stick. I'm pretty sure it already has. Not because I'm just like Ann now. But because I'm realizing (and this realization started years ago) that what I'm called to do is different from every other person's calling. I'm not called to be Ann Voskamp. I'm called to be Jennifer Fromke. And the part I find difficult to believe is the idea that no one else can be me except me.

And what I pulled from the book is this: it's not about what I'm gonna get. It's all about what I have to give.  And what I have to offer, I only have because it's been given to me first. Like I'm standing in a rushing mountain stream and water is gushing all around me, I'm soaked and happy, and when I turn downstream, I splash water into the air, the sun catches tiny droplets in a golden moment and I push the water further down, because there are others standing in the water.

It's the water that's so beautiful. It's the rush of refreshing movement that cleanses, cools, invigorates. And splashing is just joy. And if I don't even step out into the water, I'm stuck on land with feet in the mud.

If you haven't read One Thousand Gifts, do. Even if it doesn't change your perspective, the words are beautiful unto themselves. But I think it will change something inside you. Truth does that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Can you give e-book gifts?

I must admit, I've stopped giving books to people in my life who now own e-readers. I used to spend lots of love and energy choosing perfect reads for specific people. One time I bought a gift card for my dad and told him which books I wanted him to buy, but somehow, that didn't feel quite right.

So I was thrilled to find out Amazon has addressed this frustration. There is now a way to give a specific digital book! If you go to the kindle book store, under the "buy" button, there is an option to "give as a gift." You can have the book emailed to the recipient and they can download it either to their computer or whatever device they use to read. The best part is you can choose the date your gift is delivered!

I feel so free! Even though I've already purchased gifts for everyone on my list (almost) I think I'm going to try this just for fun. So somebody gets a bonus gift this year!

And if you'd like to give it a try, here's a great idea: buy my Christmas story for $.99! It's a great little stocking stuffer - and you can stuff an email box with it too. Search for Jennifer Fromke on Amazon and check out Special Delivery.

If you get a chance to try this, come back to the blog and let me know what you think. Did the whole process work seamlessly? And what did you think about the story?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Gift of a Book

Do you give them? Do you put them on your list?

I attended a birthday celebration a few months ago and as my friend opened her gifts we began to notice a trend. The first gift was a handmade necklace - given by a girl who makes jewelry, a real jewelry hound. The second gift was something like a calendar or organizer - given by a girl who is well known for her type-A highly organized nature. (this makes me jealous, by the way) The next gift was from me, a book. And everyone said, well of course! Jenn gives her a book.

We give what we like to get, don't we? To me, there is nothing sweeter than a book given with special thought for my tastes. Someone who knows me well can pick a story I will love, and it means so much that they would put thought into choosing one especially for me.

A book is not just a thing to set on your coffee table. (especially those e-books!) It's an adventure, an escape, a process, a ride, a friendship (or two), a heartbreak, a victory, true love. It's a mirror for life which can sometimes reveal truth about yourself that you wouldn't recognize outside of fiction.

However, I know there are people in this world who will pick up a wrapped book and think to themselves, "Great. It's a book." And this reaction before they even know which book! So lately I've tried to put myself in the place of the person for whom I am buying a gift. If I know you read, I'll probably still give you a book. Because I love giving them.

Are you giving books this Christmas? If so, which ones? If you love giving books, check out this great opportunity:



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can Weather be a Character?

I've heard of the setting becoming a character, or even the time period in a novel, but can you think of any books where the weather almost seemed like a person in the room? I have a few to get the discussion started.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Part of this story takes place during the siege of Leningrad. Though I read it over a year ago, I can still feel the extreme elements, the desperation fed by freezing temperatures, unending snow, beautiful, but imprisoning. The near-empty apartments filled with people who burned almost every item they ever owned, just to keep warm for one more night. Winter became an indomitable enemy.

What about Death in Venice by Thomas Mann? I read it ages ago, but my most distinct memory is the hot, sultry beach scenes. The intensity of the heat and with it, the sickness . . . palpable.

Of course, The Perfect Storm comes to mind as well. I suppose that is self-explanatory.

Leave a comment about a "weather-character" you've read.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Do you YA?

YA = Young Adult and particularly references Young Adult Fiction.

Do you read it?

I do, and I love it. Well, I love some of it. I shy away from those titles whose covers boast a pasty white face with blood leaking from the corner of the mouth. Don't get me started.

So right now, I'm reading Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, by Richard Paul Evans. He writes the pretty little gift-type books you buy at Christmas time. The Christmas Box, The Letter, etc . . . and those books are nice. They look great on the bedside table of your guest room. But let me tell you, Michael Vey is a world away from those other very successful, very nice books.

This book is aimed at kids. It boasts international intrigue, secret powers, teenage angst, and (I'm only 2/3 through the book) possible romance, but definite teeny-bopper crushing. And it reads fast. Can't wait to see what happens next, where did he come up with that, can I stay up just a half hour later to finish this next chapter, fast.

In case you don't know me, I'm an adult. And I love this story. I love it for all the reasons a kid might like it - suspense, great characters, interesting story, fascinating story world. But I also love it because of the questions it raises. Right versus wrong. Can what you know to be right ever become wrong? But these questions are posed in such a way that we get to witness kids making moral decisions and applying their character to outrageous situations.

I can't wait to talk about this story with my kids. Of course, I need to finish the book so they can get their hands on it first. I've read some other great YA lately. Of course, who hasn't read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins? LOVED IT! The discussions between my kids and me felt like my book club discussions with adults around the table.

And then I thought, huh. Talking books with people is one of my favorite things to do. And if I read YA, then I can have that experience with my kids too. Obviously, I'm not a rocket scientist. But I finally figured this out. So I'm reading more YA these days. And my teenagers and I are having some great discussions that I'm hoping will continue on indefinitely as they become adults.

Oh, and by the way, don't tell my kids, but I get to actually teach them stuff as we talk. I don't think they've noticed yet. I'm keeping it on the down low.

What YA novels have you read recently? Have you had some great chats with kids about them? Any wonderful gems you can pass on to the rest of us?