Monday, March 23, 2009

Round Table Monday: If I Were a Christy Award Judge. . .

If I were a Christy Award judge? Well, let's just say I'm glad I'm not. It has to be a difficult job. Too many great choices and too many great books. But - to dream a little dream. . .

Christy Awards go out to books that are written from a Christian worldview, so that "shelves" a whole range of books I've read this year. Oh, and that's another caveat. Christys go out to books that were published in the last year. I'm woefully behind in my reading, so I can only comment on books I've actually read. And so I will, books I've read that are on the list, and a few I loved that didn't make the list for whatever reason. Joy Jordan Lake rocks the house with her book Blue Hole Back Home. Believe me, to get a Canadian to love a book about racism in the American South (that isn't To Kill A Mockingbird) is no small feat.

I second Bonnie for the nomination of Blue Hole Back Home for debut novel. It's an amazing story and one of the best constructed novels I've ever read. In fact, I just read it again and am studying its construction to guide me in the book I'm working on now.

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by our own Debbie Thomas is another excellent novel. It's a well-told, touching story, and though it too is a debut novel, it has been nominated for Contemporary Standalone fiction. I'm pulling for both Joy and Debbie, big time! Those are the only two nominated books I've read, but I've just moved some of the others to the top of my to-be-read pile.

I'm going to cheat a little, because otherwise, I will only tell you that I third Bonnie and Sharon's votes for Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon and Blue Hole Back Home. (I am so amazed to be associated with Debbie Fuller Thomas, and I am in awe of Joy Jordan-Lake.)

But this Sunday night as I write this, I've been reading an Advance Reader Copy of Patti Hill's novel, Seeing Things, and I have to say, I am completely charmed by the character Patti has created in this story, a hallucinating grandmother named Birdie. Can I make a nomination? I'm completely enthralled with the story, and the dialogue is just amazing, both for Birdie and for Huckleberry Finn, the storybook character come to life, that only she can see.

I know you all think I'm promoting this book because our own Patti wrote it, but nope. It's that good. Look forward to Seeing Things.

Katy! How can I scold you? You're so sweet and generous. Thanks, darlin'.

The only nominated book I've read this year is, you guessed it, Debbie's smart and daring--she speaks from the point of view of an adult and a child!--Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. But I do have favorites from previous years, like River Rising by Athol Dickson and Levi's Will by Dale Cramer. These men can't be rushed. They write until every word is inspired. I hope this is true of my writing someday. And can I make a nomination? For next year, The Passion of Mary-Margaret better be up there among the nominees. I'm reading this book now, and I'm completely envious of Lisa Samson's command of story.

Intrepid reader Latayne here. I, too, absolutely loved Debbie's Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. It starts out with a punch -- an incredible situation that goes far beyond "switched at birth" and keeps you deeply involved.

I bought Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White by Claudia Mair Burney (and paid full price for it, something I never do! Hope she appreciates that!) because I read an excerpt from it online and thought, "This is a terrific writer!"

And I'm in the middle of Bonnie's Talking to the Dead. It should be on next year's list. It is wonderful!

The most wonderful part of being associated with the Novel Matters gang (apart from enjoying their sparkling personalities) is to be able to read their books before they hit the shelves. What wonderful new fiction we have to look forward to! My reading list is in constant flux and growing. I appreciate the kind words from my fellow bloggers here. I stand scratching my head at finding myself included with awesome novelists as a Christy finalist, and I'll bet Patti Hill felt the same way when her book Like a Watered Garden was a Christy finalist in 2006. I predict that next year we'll be celebrating with more Novel Matters authors.

Your turn, dear readers. We'd love for you to share your reviews on the nominated novels.


Lori Benton said...

The only nominated book I've read thus far is Zora & Nicky, by Burnie. Loved, loved, loved it. My copy is loaned out right now, and if for some reason it doesn't come back I'd have no problem paying full price a second time to have my own copy of this book.

So many more on the list I plan to get to. Blue Hole Back Home is one of those.

Wait, I've just perused the list again. I've also read Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin (enjoyed it very much) and Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy (funny and sprightly, though I wanted to wring the neck of the "hero" most of the way through it *s*).

Congratulations Debbie! I like the sound of your book. In fact all those in your category are books I plan to read.

Anonymous said...

I'ved read and reviewed Zora and Nicky and absolutely loved it. Profound writing with a sassy demeanor. (Embrace Me is in my TBR pile.) And I completely agree that Lisa Samson's newest, The Passion of Mary-Margaret, is phenomenal. It made my all-time Top Ten list. Loved Dogwood by Chris Fabry even though I didn't especially like the ending, but the writing itself was exquisite.

Since I don't read historicals, visionary, chick-lit, or young adult novels, the only other novels on the list I've read and reviewed were Randy Singer's By Reason of Insanity which I liked but not my favorite Randy Singer novel, The Rook by Steven James which I loved, but it's more of a thriller than "suspense", and Winter Haven by Athol Dickson which was excellent and truly fits this category.

I thought it was significant that there were no Zondervan nominees.

Anonymous said...

You rawk for paying full price for my book in this economy! I am most grateful, and thank you for your kind words. Lori and Nicole, I thank you as well. Please keep me in your prayers.

claudia mair burney

Bonnie Grove said...

Some how the second part of my part of the roundtable was cut off - but I'm not pointing fingers (Sharon), or anything like that.

In the missing bit, I mention Athol Dickson as a clean writer who delivers a steady story every time. I also mentioned that Claudia Mair Burney RAWKS - and insist you run out and get one of her novels because her voice is one you will want to listen to.

I too am reading Lisa Samson's The Passion of Mary-Margaret - Lisa never steps away from difficult topics.

I also mentioned in the snipped off bit, that there are a handful of authors I'm watching and expecting great things from - perhaps I will blog about what I see in them in a future post.

Patti Hill said...

Oh boy, more books to read!

May I stop and say something profound here? I'll do say it anyway!

Here goes: Only 4 more days to add a comment to be eligible for the March giveaway, four novels by moi, including my Christy Finalist, Like a Watered Garden.

Gab away!

Unknown said...

Of course I've read Debbie Thomas's and Patti Hill's nominated titles and am gobsmacked by how engaging and smart they are. I've also read Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks Go Brit. Robin has such an amazing ability to write winsome characters, take you on an adventure, and wow you with her turn of phrase.

LeAnne Hardy said...

Thanks for the list and the recommendations. I am a YA writer. Mostly I read from the mainstream lists. When it comes to Christian YA, I wait for the Christy list to tell me what is worth my time. I need to get reading!

Bonnie Grove said...

LeAnne:Have you read Wonderous Strange by Lesley Livingston?