Our Witchdoctors are Too Weak

A book about grammar, syntax, and an unwritten language. A book about missionaries in a far away jungle.

Now, before you shake your head and say, “That’s not for me,” let me tell you why this book is now one of my favourites.

Friend Number One loaned OWATW to Friend Number Two. She began to read it and immediately thought of me. (Why reading a book with a chapter titled “The Interoggation of a Suffix” makes you think of your friend the writer and editor, I can’t imagine.)

I had several books on the go, not to mention a To Do list that went on and on and on. However, when Deb dropped the book off that afternoon, I decided to take a peek. What a great decision!

From the first page, the author is all the things I admire most – not just in an author, but in a human being. Honest. Transparent. Real.

A fellow writer and I were talking yesterday. We agree that good writing is good writing no matter what the subject. On one hand, I’m willing to excuse mediocre writing if I really care about the characters. On the other, I’m willing to read a book in practically any genre if the writing carries me away. And then there are the rare and delightful finds, books with characters that draw me in and stories that transport me to another place. This is one of those books.

I’m a visual learner, and the Janks paint a vivid picture. It’s as if I’m sitting in my living room with them, watching a home movie of their adventures and hearing them tell me all about their lives among the Wilo people. Relationships are what life is all about, and I feel as if I’ve made two new friends.

With candor and humour, Davey and Marie Jank demystify what it means to reach out with love and truth. Maybe, just maybe, if they can do it, I can too.

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Justified

I hope there isn’t a rule that says you shouldn’t review a book you’ve edited. If there is, I’m about to break that rule.

Mystery. Suspense. Intrigue. That’s what you’ll find in Rob Delion’s first novel, Justified.

If something stands out and makes you ask, “Why did the author include that tidbit of information?” and he or she never answers the question, it rubs like a burr under a saddle. Persistent. Distracting. Annoying.

Because I had to edit on my first read-through, I’d often ask, “Does this need to be here?” A few such things got dropped from the first draft, but many were indispensable. I loved those Ah Ha moments, coming across their importance as I continued to read.  To me, that’s craftsmanship. It requires an author to see the big picture while only letting readers see as much as they need to at any given time.

I’m a visual learner. I want enough details to paint a picture. On the other hand, I’m not all that patient. I don’t want to read a description of every rock and blade of grass. Rob has achieved that balance. Months after reading it, I can still see a slide show of scenes playing in my mind.

When I watch a movie that keeps me on the edge of my seat, I need the occasional breather. From time to time, I want to laugh – or at least exhale. Justified propels the reader forward with the right amount of downtime.

As I said to Rob, “Make me care about your characters, and I’m hooked.” I care about the characters in Justified and am looking forward to the sequel. Get busy writing, Mr. Delion.

Order your copy of Justified at either address below or pop by Rob Delion’s Facebook page and arrange for him to send you a signed copy. (You may also want to visit Rob’s blog at http://quillzone.com)

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Justified-R-H-Delion/9781770692985-item.html?ikwid=justified&ikwsec=Home

http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=r.h.+delion&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Ar.h.+delion&ajr=0

Other Review Sites

Because I haven’t completed a book recently, I thought I’d point you to some other book review sites. Each is written by a fellow The Word Guild member.

Enjoy!

Susan Barclay…

http://reviewsfrominnisfree.blogspot.com/

Laura Davis…

http://interviewsandreviews.blogspot.com/

Donna Fawcett…

http://www.authordonnadawson.com/bookreviews.htm

Kimberley Payne…

http://kimpayne.wordpress.com/

Janet Sketchley…

http://janetsketchley.wordpress.com/reviews/

Nancy Drew

And for this week’s post…something completely different.

Let’s call it a blast from the past.

OK, enough already with the cliches.

As I was scanning my shelves for a book to review, for no particular reason, I thought back to the Nancy Drew books I read as a child.

Would they stand up to today’s standard of “good writing”? Probably not. But that’s not what I remember.

I remember the brilliance of the cliffhanger at the end of each chapter – long before I knew what to call it. It grabbed me by the throat. I had to turn the page. Just one more chapter…

Though I read many of the original 30+ volumes, did I get caught up on the repetition of details, the implausibility that one person could experience so much in just one year (she never aged), or the formula each book followed? Not on your life. It simply didn’t matter.

And I had some of my most hardy belly laughs because of Carolyn Keene, the authors’ pseudonym. My best friend and I would sprawl across my bed, each with a ND book in hand. We would open to page 1 and each of us, one after the other, would read a line…not a sentence, mind you – a line. Some of the resulting sentences made absolutely no sense. Others, however, were side-splitting. (I wonder if I’d think the same today.)

All in all, I largely credit my love of reading with the adventures of this young woman. And isn’t that what “the best” books do? They get us reading. They keep us reading. And they always retain a special place in our hearts.

So, what books grabbed your attention long ago?

 

Radical Together

If you haven’t read my review of David Platt’s Radical, I invite you to do so: https://bookrevu.wordpress.com/page/2/

In my review I called it “the second most influential book I’ve ever read.” I consider it next only to the Bible. If you haven’t read Radical, I highly recommend it.

As with Radical, Radical Together is one of the hardest easy-reads I’ve ever picked up. It challenges churches – and individuals – to openly and honestly examine not only our theology, but our methodology. Do we go about making disciples and caring for widows and orphans as we are commanded? Do our programs do so in the most effective way possible?

According to the Book of James, “faith without works is dead.” Platt warns against Andys and Ashleys. Andys believe if they claim to believe in Jesus, it’s irrelevant how they live their lives. Ashleys feel if they do enough good works they can earn their salvation. Of course, neither is a biblical view of Christianity. We must show our faith by living out scripture’s commands.

Platt does not try to guilt anyone into living sacrificially, but he does challenge readers to live radically. To effectively make an impact on the world, we must do so in community. That community is most often our local church.

In many ways, this book would be most effective if read and implemented by leaders in the church, but they can’t do it alone. All of us can become leaders if we are willing to examine our lives, begin to live radically, and encourage others to do the same by our example and an explanation of what God is doing in our hearts, minds, and lives.

Both books receive a five out of five from me.

I received Radical Together free from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Since it was a book I intended to purchase anyway, I was thrilled to see it on their list.

 

The Canary List

I recently joined Blogging for Books. In exchange for reviews, I receive free e-books. (Residents of the U.S. can request hard copies of the books they would like to review.)

I read Sigmund Brouwer’s The Canary List and posted my review on christianbook.com. Here is the link to that review:

http://www.christianbook.com/the-canary-list-sigmund-brouwer/9780307446466/pd/446466?featurereview=19177091

The Canary List

Recently I signed up for Blogging for Books. The first e-book I chose was Signmund Brouwer’s The Canary List.

The so called “canary list” was created by leaders within the Roman Catholic Church and lists those who can sense the presence of demons. Therefore, they are used to determine if it is safe to proceed – much like canaries were used in the mines to determine the presence of dangerous gases.

If you enjoy a novel with believable characters, several intriguing plot twists, and a good blend of adventure and spiritual insights, you may enjoy The Canary List. I was impressed with the author’s ability to keep me off balance right up to and including the last chapter.

While I wanted to see how everything worked out, I did notice technicalities I would have missed if I didn’t write and edit. Brouwer’s tendency to repeat words, phrases, and information struck me almost right away. Unfortunately, I found it distracting.

Also, because I’m learning about “deep point-of-view,” I was surprised by the number of times Brouwer shows rather than tells. (I consider deep POV the classic show vs. tell – on steroids. Thoughts and emotions are revealed through dialogue and detailed description of the characters’ physical responses.)

And while the author delineates between the faithful within the Roman Catholic Church and those who strive for power and/or secretly worship the devil, some might find the fact that members of the Church play the role of protagonist offensive.

Still, if you enjoy Brouwer’s books, I don’t want to discourage you from reading The Canary List. And if you want to find out how one little girl can turn a schoolteacher’s world upside down, this would be a good book for you.

If I were to rate this book on a scale of one to five, I would give it a three.