Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15

 photo about_zps0e27a4da.jpg
 photo bookshelf_zpse9642860.jpg photo scribbles_zps2889a376.jpg

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Update Taken From Life

Wow! A post that isn't a book review or an announcement! Too bad it'll be at about the same interest level, but hey, someone apparently reads this stuff.

Anyway, I am extremely excited about the Short Story Contest. So far there are eight entries and I'm sure each one is going to be an interesting bit of fiction. =D Jamie and I can't wait to read every last one! And, (as I throw in my little advertisement) there is still time to enter! Tell your friends! Enlist your followers! The prizes are for everyone!


So, aside from that interesting and unique addition to my life, I have been rather dull lately. I haven't been too busy to post (heavens no), but I have been experiencing some writer's block and creativity that I know, from experience, is very lethal to good writing. I generally tend to veer away from adding too much to any project in my arsenal during these times, since I generally erase it all once I get a fresh burst of brain cells anyway.

Other than that, I've been doing some reading (non-review books), but am currently stuck in one and not budging. I did recently read a good biography about Queen Victoria that makes me feel like watching The Young Victoria (fabulous movie!) again.

And, I tremble to bring forth this news, but Jamie has shut herself up in her literary world again and has been sighted pounding away furiously on the computer keys. She says she's writing a serialized detective story that she is going to post on this blog - not Scribbles, imagine that! - in tantalizingly suspenseful segments. If you ask me, from what I saw looking over her shoulder, you'll have to wait for this one until probably December. She insists she's going to actually finish it though - but right now she's sitting on the counter eating grapes and yelling at me for revealing her weakness for procrastination.


I am thorougly excited at the moment because tomorrow I'm going out with a friend and we're going to see Pixar's new move Brave. I have been waiting for this movie to come out forever and am sincerely hoping that it lives up to my expectations. =D From what I've already seen, it looks like it'll fit my kinks.

Well, that's all I can say at the moment! Keep your eyes peeled for Jamie's stuff. She says it's coming soon.
Till next time!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Announcing the 2012 Short Story Contest!

Hello everyone!

We're so excited to be announcing the first If You Give A Girl A Pen Short Story Contest!

This is for all of you out there who love to write - or perhaps just love to read and have always toyed with the idea of writing something of your own - and would like to get some recognition and reward for your work!

Here's how the contest works:

Entry Rules
- You must be a follower of If You Give A Girl A Pen
- You must email your wish to enter the contest to us at by July 5th

- Your story must be at least 1000 words long - it can be more, but not less
- Your completed story must be emailed to us at before or on 
September 1st
- It must be appropriate for readers of all ages (this doesn't mean that you can't use hard-hitting topics, but it can't contain any offensive subjects or language)
- It must be a work of fiction. No biographies or poems
- It must be all your own work. You can quote sources, but they can't make up the bulk of your work.
- Limit of one entry per person
- All entries must be typed up on a computer and emailed to us. No handwritten entries.
- We're not grammar Nazis, so some mistakes and errors are fine. But please try your best to make the grammar, spelling and punctuation neat and readable to the best of your ability. An entry that is difficult to read is easy to put aside.
- Any genre goes, so write what you write best! 

The winner of the contest will be given the choice of one of these prizes which will be mailed to them by us upon their achievement of the If You Give A Girl A Pen 2012 Short Story Contest title. 
And here they are! 

American Girl Lanie's Garden outfit (including everything
in the picture except the doll)

The Hunger Games boxed set

The Ultimate Writing Tools Collection: A set put together by yours trulies 
including the things we can't write without. 
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing A Novel
- A 12 pack of the best editing pens in the universe
- An adorable spiral-bound notebook
- and more!
A $25 Amazon Gift Card

2 Nancy Drew PC Games
- The Ransom of the Seven Ships and Warnings at Waverly Academy

The Wholesome Romance Collection 1
(Three of our favorite feminine, sweet, wholesome and well-written romance books!)
- Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare
- They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth

Ending Notes
- The winning entry will be published on my blog If You Give A Girl A Pen with kudos going to the author
and a link to their blog (if applicable). If you would rather not have your work made public please contact us and let us know.
- A blog button with the winner's title will be designed and given to the winner to display on their blog

Good luck everyone!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Review: Hide In Plain Sight

As requested by Madeline, here is a review for Marta Perry's Hide in Plain Sight. =D

SynopsisShe couldn't turn her back on her family in their time of need. So when her sister was injured, financial expert Andrea Hampton traded the big city for Amish country to help turn her grandmother's house into an inn.
But life with the Plain People took a treacherous turn when a string of accidents and pranks threatened her family. Someone didn't want the secrets the old house harbored to come to light. Trusting anyone-- even the handsome carpenter who seemed so genuine--was a battle for Andrea, but her life depended on her ability to find the truth.

Plot: Unfortunately, this book wasn't long enough for both a mystery/suspense plot and thorough fleshing out of characters, so one venue had to be chosen and utilized. Marta Perry chose the plot.
I must admit that, from the beginning (and finding out that it was a LoveInspired book), I wasn't expecting much. Of course, since it was recommended to me, I was expecting it to be readable. The end result was rather surprising.

The plot was a typical sabotage-and-prowler type. It's Nancy Drew-esque and rather anticlimactic. But it's a romance novel - suspenseful or otherwise - and I've noticed that pure romance novels never have surprise endings.

As was noted by a professional reviewer on a book I once read I would have to say that Hide In Plain Sight had "moments of brilliance". There were times when I actually thought "wow. I wasn't expecting such an accurate observation from a pulp fiction writer".

Despite its generic-ness, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this book.

As I said before, characterization was pushed a bit to the back burner here. We got a brief outlining at the beginning of the looks and characteristics of the three Hampton sisters (one of which was not even in the book) and then they sort of dissolved into the plot and let it take over.

Andrea Hampton: Main character and heroine
Andrea wasn't bad. She reminded me of myself - sort of efficient, organized and judgmental. I expected her to be a typical Christian romance female, but she was surprisingly tart and opinionated. It took her longer than I expected to thaw out to the hero. She had a lot of promise, but not enough page-space to really take advantage of it.

Cal Burke: Hero
Can't say I thought much of him until he started moving furniture out of the attic. He was too much a mysterious, quiet, cliche hero and I got tired of Andrea telling me about him. I think I can figure out that he's pretty buff from carpentry work without her mentioning it every time she bumps into him - which happened to be a lot. I found him to be rather colorless, though I appreciated the fact that he was careful about relationships (most of the time) and not getting entangled in one that would hurt both him and Andrea.

Likes: Though this book was set in Amish Country (and I've read enough Beverly Lewis to really garner a dislike for the genre) it was hardly Amish - something I was thankful for. We understand, they're different, but not that fascinating.

That the romance was discreet - though at times rather tacky - and there weren't a lot of messy kisses and gush and sappiness.

That there was actually some humor and good dialogue and creative descriptions.

Dislikes: I knew how it was going to end. It's the bane of pulp-fiction. It always ends happily, perfectly, cliche-ly.

The content that made it "Christian" was pretty weak. Out-of-the-blue Andrea suddenly thought "my goodness, the atmosphere here must be bringing God back into my life" and then she's suddenly praying and asking God for wisdom and ect. It's not believable or really challenging or thought-provoking. It's just put there so "inspirational" can be stamped on the cover and the I-don't-want-to-read-a-Danielle-Steele-type-book group will read it.

Conclusion: I can't say I'll ever read Hide In Plain Sight again but I can't say that it was a waste of time either. I got some good ideas out of it and anything that gives me an idea was worth the time spend on it. It offered some easy, summer reading and - though predictable - was pleasantly interesting.

Till next time!

P.S. Not that anyone would be surprised if I don't post for a full week, but I will say that I will be out of town from the 17th to the 22nd and will not be blogging. Have a great week, everyone! =D

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: Emily of Deep Valley

This book title sounds deceptively like L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon, but thank all the mercies that it really isn't. I'll now proceed with the review.

SynopsisEmily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can't leave her grandfather.
Emily resigns herself to facing a "lost winter," but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed...

Plot: Since this book is set in one of my favorite time periods, it already had a bit of push going for it. I love the early nineteen-hundreds and think that not enough good books are written during those golden years. 

Emily of Deep Valley is charming. A sweet story that is appropriate for any age. The sort of book I wish girls nowadays were reading instead of cheap, badly-written fantasies or silly romances that contain nothing but fluff and inappropriate topics. 

It's a simple story. It hasn't really got a plot, per say. It's just a sweet, wholesome narrative of an ordinary girl. It's also a very good advertisement for stay-at-home daughterhood.

The first part of the book is bittersweet and slightly frustrating. Emily is blue because she can't go to college with her friends and about a certain indifferent young jerk who she somehow adores. 

It gets better when Emily decides to improve herself, stops pining over worthless boys, and starts to live - even though she can't go to college. 

And then, a certain someone also walks into her life and Emily finds out that perhaps living in Deep Valley isn't so bad. 

You also discover that she's not as dull as she first may seem.

Characters: This is rather tough, since Emily is pretty much the monopolizer of the book. I got a little frustrated with her at times because she was so in love with this young man who wasn't worth her time. I wanted to shake her, but thankfully she was sensible enough to shake herself. 
Although she does a lot of good, charitable work, Emily doesn't come across as a goody-two-shoes. She lives enough for herself that it's not annoying that she's so good. Besides that, not every man in the county is madly in love with her, so it makes things easier to swallow when you hit the end. 

I liked Emily's Grandpa Webster. He was funny and eccentric and just forgetful enough to be a dear.

Annette, I hope, will have grow out of herself by the time she graduates - though I think she's getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to fiancees. 

Don is frustrating because I got so sick of being told how handsome he was and how much Emily adored him. He was such a cad. But he was used for contrast, so I suppose it's all well and good in the end.

And then there's Jed - but I won't spoil the story. 

Likes: I love wholesome old books that are reminiscent of those bygone days where everything was simpler and wasn't so messed up, so I loved Emily of Deep Valley because that's what it is. True, it doesn't have a flashy cover or a twisting, turning plot, but it's got a good, solid story that's worth reading just because it's for girls who are growing up and trying to understand what to look for in life. 

The romance was sweet and - though I disapprove of kisses before marriage - I realize that it does make a good story, so I overlook it when done in chaste and brief ways. 

Dislikes: The first few chapters are rather hard to get in to. It starts out with Emily being depressed over her lot in life and pining for a romance that you, the reader, don't want to come true. But I am only saying that because I need something to put in this category and if you can get through the first few chapters of any book, you ought to be able to make it through the start of Emily's story. 

Conclusion: If you like old-fashioned stories like L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series or Francis Burnett's A Little Princess, Lousia May Alcott books or even Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, I'm sure you'll love Emily of Deep Valley. And I've also heard that Maud Hart Lovelace wrote a series about Betsy and Tacy and that they're even better than Emily. So instead of picking up the pulp fiction and fantasies this summer, why don't you consider a wholesome trip to the past, where the girls are real and the romance is sweet and you can put it down with a sigh and realize that this is how life can be.   

Till next time!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Trailer

As far as video trailers for books are concerned, my opinions tend towards the "is this really necessary?" side. I mean, come on, it's a book, not a film and for heaven's sake what is the back cover for if not to tell you why you should read the book?

From what I've seen, these "book trailers" seem to consist mostly of a walloping soundtrack, segmented bits of the back-cover blurb and uninspiring pictures of rooms and the book cover with perhaps a tree or something thrown in. (No, I'm not an authority; I don't generally make a point of watching them). But this one that I recently clicked on because the book itself looked interesting, caught me by surprise because I...liked it.

An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

Maybe it's the intense piano/flute/violin piece playing in the background or maybe it's just because the video itself is so dreary and depressing and mysterious, or maybe it's because I actually was interested in the book, but I found this "book trailer" to be quite excellent indeed. 

I'm hesitant to encourage anyone to read this book, actually, because - though it's made my to-read list - I'm not familiar with the author and I know he's not Christian, so I'm unsure of the content. All I know is that it's a mystery and probably depressing. Anyway, I just thought I'd share a tidbit of interest today. Enjoy - or not... 

Till next time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review: The Invitation

First book on my summer reading list - done! 

The Invitation is the first book in the Mustard Seed Trilogy by Nancy Moser. I'd read her historical novels (which were excellent!) and when I saw this at Goodwill I thought I might as well fork over the 89 cents to see if she could make up her own characters.

Turns out she can. But she can't name them. I'll address that later.

SynopsisJulia, Walter, Kathy, and Natalie: four ordinary people with little in common. Until each of them receives a small, white invitation from an anonymous sender. It reads: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed...Nothing will be impossible for you. Please come to Haven, Nebraska." At first, they all resist. But amazing circumstances convince them that they should heed the call and go to Haven. In this re-release of The Invitation, Nancy Moser crafts a captivating story of everyday people who come to realize that even a small faith, combined with a heart led by God, can change the world.

Plot: The Invitation is almost a creepy book to read. I can't reveal too much about what it contains because it'll give away the plot, but I couldn't help but feel that I wasn't welcome in Haven. I don't know how Mrs. Moser wrote this book because the characters aren't very friendly. They have witty conversations, their problems are believable, the aches and pains of their hearts hit the right spots, but they aren't the kinds of people you'd ever want to meet in real life. 

But, we're talking about the plot. 

The actual story twists and turns and runs and drags. It doesn't find a happy medium in which to sit. It's very, very Christian and the theology is exceptionally sound and solid, but it falls into the slightly tacky category by the end. 

I can't say that I truly loved this book or read it in one sitting or that it will have a prominent place on my bookshelf, but it was good and interesting and provided thought-provoking points on many subjects. 

The idea of getting mysterious invitations to a place no one has ever heard of is intriguing and, since it's not the kind of topic I would ever choose to write about, I wasn't sitting there the whole time wondering why the author did this and why they did that and recreating a new book in my head. Mrs. Moser handles her topics well and has a very fun and witty writing style. I found myself smiling over some of the repartee and there's a very funny description of waiting-room reading material. Her writing is excellent (as it should be, since she teaches it), but I would say that she could have been a little more careful with infusing her characters with heart and her plot with life.

Characters: We'll start with my favorites and work our way down:

Natalie: I mainly liked her because she was a writer and I love reading about characters who write. Her struggles lined up the most with mine and I also liked her outspoken loyalty and spunk.

Julia: I like strong, female protagonists who aren't overbearing and who use their leadership abilities in a graceful way. Julia was like that and so she gets second place. Her part of the story was the most interesting and I found her conversation - like her - to be cultured and interesting. She was also the most Christian character, so she didn't spend as much time with her mentor (rather nice, when you get bombarded with mentors with every other character)

Walter: He's the guy everyone loves to hate. He's obnoxiously egotistical, annoyingly proud, and absolutely uncaring of other people - most of the time.
I found his transformation interesting and I got a kick out of getting angry at him for being such a jerk. He's also caustic, cynical and sarcastic. Definitely well-drawn, if not exactly welcoming.

Kathy: If you have a name like Kathleen, why would you go by Kathy? Was one of my first impressions of this woman. I didn't like her as well as Julia and Natalie (as obvious by the fact that she's down at the bottom of the list...) because she wasn't very stubborn or outspoken, but she definitely had her moments - and her story was interesting. I thought she was a little too soft with her obvious jerk of a husband, but her fire came out on the issue of abortion. 

Del: I thought he was the tackiest character. He had this hanging-back sort of attitude that I couldn't stand and he was always just a little on the annoying side. I didn't identify with him, so that was probably the root problem of the last-place issue. He did have an amazing interesting backstory, so he was worth sticking with to the bitter end. 

As for the other characters, I found Art pretty tolerable - though his dialogue irked me at times - and I wasn't a big fan of the mentors at times. They got on my nerves and provided some long - and occasionally dull - conversations. John especially got on my nerves. Especially towards the end. 

Likes: I loved the sarcastic senses of humor. LOVED them. This book is full of witty comebacks and verbal feuds. It's worth reading for that point alone. 

The solid Christian basis and real-to-life struggles. 

The fact that one of the characters was a writer! 

Dislikes: The character names. One or two were all right, but I thought that they were bland names for the characters and (aside from Julia and a few others) I felt they struck the wrong tone. They just didn't fit the people who walked around with them.

There was some modern vernacular tossed in. *shudder* It's one of my biggest pet peeves in a book.

The unwelcoming atmosphere. 

The rather strange occurrences that bordered on tacky.   

Conclusion: The Invitation is worth at least a one-time read. I don't regret the time I spend reading it, but I'm not exactly going to go rushing off to read the second one (even if my summer reading list allowed it). The characters can sit and wait for a while before I visit them again. It definitely could have been better, but for what it is, it isn't bad. 
Till next time!