Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cool Fiction- The Great Summertime Escape

I think Summer-time in the South must be similar to what my forebears in the Midwest experienced in the dead of winter: weeks and weeks of outside activities being postponed due to miserable conditions. By the way- wasn’t last month’s Ouachita Life feature “50 great ways to Beat the Heat” wonderful? I’ve already checked off several of the ideas, and I’m keeping that list handy.
There is one thing I like to do when the mercury rises that wasn’t included- curl up under the ceiling fan with a good Christmas book. Nothing cools me off more than thoughts of snow and Christmas carols. Many authors have provided us with these delightful diversions- perhaps written in July or August?
Arkansas-born John Grisham’s offering is “Skipping Christmas” (Doubleday, 2001). This tells the story of a couple whose grown daughter will be spending the holidays away from home, providing her parents an excuse to forego the traditional hustle and bustle, and instead sneak off for a tropical vacation. Unfortunately, habits that are so firmly entrenched are not dismissed so easily, and the whole community is affected. You’ll sympathize with the sentiment, and laugh at the absurdity.
Former President Jimmy Carter got in the act with “Christmas in Plains” (Simon & Schuster 2001).It is, of course a nostalgic look at growing up in the South. Though it takes place a few years before my own childhood, it brings back some great memories of simpler times.
A more recent favorite of mine is Susan May Warren’s “The Great Christmas Bowl” (Tyndale House, 2009). This purely delightful tale will strike a chord with any parent who has struggled to maintain family traditions as the children grow up and establish their own. You’ll also identify if you’ve ever been swept up in the spirit of friendly competition at a high school football game, or dressed as a Big Lake Trout to attend one. (Okay, now you just have to read it!)
A third great summer read is not centered around Christmas, and is in a more serious vein. Deborah Raney’s “Almost Forever” (Howard Books/Simon and Schuster 2010) tells the story of a young wife who has lived through a terrible tragedy. It’s about rebuilding her life, and even more importantly, facing the truth about what really happened. Ms. Raney is so skillful at portraying the torment and release felt by her characters as they come to terms with what is happening in their lives, and how God can help them get through to the other side. Recommended reading for any time of year!
Watch for a new book about Summer- “Seeds of Summer” by Deborah Vogts (Zondervan,2001). It’s the second in a series that started with “Snow Melts in Spring” and promises to be a delightful expansion on modern day romance set on the beautiful prairies of Kansas. It’s obvious that this author really knows her topic, and easily involves us in the lives of her characters.
The population of successfully published Arkansas authors increased recently when Tricia Goyer and her family moved to Little Rock. She is a multi-talented writer whose topics include child-rearing and romance, but I think she really shines in her historical fiction, particularly those books set during World War II. “The Swiss Courier”(Revel-Baker-Bethany 2009) co-written with Mike Yorkey delivers non-stop action and suspense right up to the “why didn’t I see that coming” ending.
On my nightstand right now is “Judith and the Judge” (Servant Publications, 2000) by Stephen and Janet Bly. If you like Westerns, you’ll love the Bly’s books. They always depict strong men and women in a realistic fashion. Even some of the minor characters will remain in your heart long after the last page. Anything with Stephen Bly’s name (with or without his wife) is guaranteed to please.
So, there you are. A list that includes a little something for everyone. Great for relaxing with a nice tall lemonade. Find them at your local library, or better yet purchase your own copy so you can share with friends. Speaking of sharing, I’d love to hear from you. Check out my blog and leave a comment at My monthly columns, and a few more musings about this and that are posted there. Until we meet again- stay cool!


Deborah Vogts said...

Hi Jenny, Thanks so much for promoting Seeds of Summer. I appreciate the help! Blessings to you,

Stephen & Janet Bly said...

Jenny: Appreciate your mention of our books too. Thanks so much. Glad you've enjoyed them!
Steve & Janet