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Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm an avid reader

Recently on a trip to my hometown, my sister, Katie, was recalling a story that she had told her mother in law that highlighted one of our many differences as sisters.

To provide some background on our reading differences, I have always been an avid reader, my sister, Katie, not so much. Katie has deep rooted resentful memories of our mother encouraging her to read more, often wording her request in the worst way possible, "Why don't you read more like Jennie?" Katie is a relatively even-keeled person. It really takes a lot to get her upset, but for some reason, the comparison of our reading preferences is pretty much the one thing that she hated.

So Katie told this story about how when we were young, to do any "real" clothes shopping, we
had to travel to Dubois, a town about 30 miles away from our little hometown. If we were
"good girls," meaning, if we stayed close to our mom, allowed her to do the shopping she needed to do, and we didn't fight constantly we would be allowed one of two rewards. One was a trip to the Valley Dairy to get an ice cream cone - the other was a trip to Walden's Books to choose a book.
Both were of equal excitement to me. Not Katie. She would just rather have the ice cream. From start to finish, she would inject
subliminal messages into the conversation so we would be thinking about the Valley Dairy by the time the shopping trip was over.

"I'm so hungry for ice cream."

"Yum, won't a scoop of Chocolate Marshmallow taste so good when we are done?"

By the end of the trip, we truly did believe that ice cream was the better choice. Except every so often I would remember that having a good book would last a little longer than the ice cream. I would divert her attempts by asking if I could go to the bookstore by myself before my mom had finished shopping. I would say, "You can come get me at the bookstore when you're all
done." This would ensure my mom and sisters would have to be at the bookstore where my mom would then say, "Did you find something you want? Well, let's see if the other girls can find a book too."

Mission accomplished!

So, we would get our books - most likely mine was a
Nancy Drew that I didn't already have or a Sweet Valley High.
I loved those books.

The funny part of the whole reward was that I was such an avid reader that I often started to read the book in the car on
the way home and would get halfway through the book by the time we got home. I would quickly complete the book within a day and then I would complain that I didn't have anything to read again. My mother would say we had just been to the bookstore and then would yell at me saying, "You read your books too fast! If you keep reading that fast, I'm not buying you any more books!" Katie relayed that portion of the story to her mother in law, and we all found great humor in the fact that my mother was basically saying I was such a good reader, she was going to take books away from me to punish me.

I tell you that story to highlight that I continue to be an avid reader. I've rediscovered my passion that is the Library and I've been borrowing books like mad. This satisfies my need to read and my need to be frugal. In my attempts to keep up my habit and still save money, I found a program through Bethany House Publishing. Basically, you sign up through and as long as you are willing to read the books in a timely manner, and offer reviews on retail websites, you can participate in the program. Due to shipping reasons, the program is limited to North American residents only.

Here is what the email sent to me said:
Hi! Welcome to the latest Bethany House Book Reviewers Update. In this list, we've got our lineup of Fall contemporary fiction for review. Aside from another powerful emotional drama from Kathryn Cushman (attention Karen Kingsbury readers -- you really should be reading Cushman), we have second novels from a couple of our newer authors -- Christa Parrish and Jackina Stark. Also, if you missed it the first time around, Dale Cramer's Christy Award-winning Levi's Will is back in print with a new cover.

As usual, to request a review copy, just click the link under each book's description and we'll have a copy sent out to you. Post a review on your website and on a retailer's site (Amazon,, etc.), and email me at to let us know about it! Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the new releases!

Note: We can only send books to reviewers the US and Canada. Requests will be accepted through October 5. Also - Help spread the word about this program! If you know anyone who would be interested in signing up to receive review copies of our books, direct them to!

I signed up and got my first "assignment" a few weeks ago. Then last Friday, four books came for me in the mail!

The first book I read was:

Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish

Her Rescue Might Be the Miracle They Needed

Deputy Benjamin Patil is the one to find the infant girl--hours old, abandoned in a field. When the mother can't be located, Ben and his wife, Abbi, seem like the perfect couple to serve as foster parents. But the baby's arrival opens old wounds for Abbi and shines a harsh light on how much Ben has changed since a devastating tour in Iraq. As their marriage teeters on the brink, they now must choose to either reclaim what they once had or lose each other forever.

While I found this book engaging, the main story of Abbi and Ben Patil didn't seem to captivate me as much as the sub- story of Matthew, an 18 year old high school senior who is befriended by the Patil's. Matthew lives with his Aunt and cousins, having been basically abandoned by his mother. He not only shoulders much of the responsibility in his Aunt's home, but he also is faced with the fact
that he has a genetic disorder that has rendered him deaf and with kidney failure. His Aunt tries to do her best, but she has fallen into the societal traps of low income families. She allows her older daughters and her nephew to be the childcare providers for her two youngest daughters. Her relationships with men are easy and fast and have a great impact on the children living in the house. Matthew lives with the knowledge that the only thing keeping him at his Aunt's house is the $500 a month she receives to provide for his care. Despite the worst imaginable childhood, Matthew manages to look at each day with hope and faith and trust in the Lord. His noble attempts at keeping his "family" together while struggling with "doing the right thing" I felt were the best aspects of the book. But then, perhaps, due to my former career history, I am a sucker for a kid that in the face of adversity manages to rise above it all and be the better person.

The second book I read was:

Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark

An Emotionally Gripping Story of Broken Relationships Restored

Kendy Laswell and her daughter, Maisey, used to do everything together--until one fateful summer when Maisey witnessed something she shouldn't have, and their relationship fractured. Now, Maisey is back home to get married and Kendy realizes this is her last chance to reconnect with her daughter. Will Kendy and Maisey be able to reclaim the bond they once shared?

I found this book extremely engaging and had to force myself to put it down at night in order to go to sleep. I do believe I would have read the entire book at once if I didn't have responsibilities to face in the morning. As a daughter and a mother, I found this book tearing at my heartstrings throughout. The title of this book is genius as it truly describes the main theme of the story. Unfortunately, as is highlighted by the stories within the book, while there can be countless good memories one experiences in life, it seems that it takes just one very bad memory to overtake the good, eating one up and causing one to lose sight of all the good things worth remembering. I was reminded time and again how one's perception of a situation is not the entire story and that each person involved in an experience has a different reality of that experience. The story highlights the importance of open communication and honesty but most of all, it is about forgiveness. Forgiving oneself, forgiving others, and most importantly, the forgiveness of our Father. Things Worth Remembering has given me a lot to think about in terms of my relationship with my own mother and how I want to proceed with my relationship with my daughter.

I have two more books to finish and then I'll post those reviews too! I encourage you all to become bethanyhouse reviewers! It is a lot of fun!

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