My online journal.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Win a copy of Alison Strobel's "The Weight of Shadows"!

You've maybably heard me mention my friend Alison, who I met back in high school and who has gone on to become a fabulous published author.

Here she is:

Alison has been a Christian since she was a little kid -- her dad was a journalist, and then a pastor (and is now a very well-established author himself). Alison was the first Christian I'd ever met who had a personal relationship with Jesus. My family had always gone to church, and I went to Catholic school for 8 years, but I was intrigued about this different kind of spirituality. After college, I read her dad's first couple of books and they really blew my mind. (I recommend those to you, as well -- but I digress.)

Alison is the author of novels Worlds Collide and Violette Between, and has written a children's book, That's Where God Is, with her husband Dan.

Her latest book, The Weight of Shadows, has just come out, and I devoured it in just a couple days -- and mind you, I am a sloooooow reader. The tagline goes like this:

Kim finally found a release for her guilt--but is her penance more important than her daughter's life?

Sounds a bit melodramatic, but it's totally not. Which doesn't mean it's not gripping! Because it totally is! Argh, I am the worst book-reviewer ever. Anyway, I read a review of "The Weight of Shadows" that called it "an important book" and I totally agree. I read about domestic abuse in the papers all the time... yet how is it that I've never before read a novel about it? Alison intertwines a small handful of storylines involving very real, sympathetic, flawed characters. And the Christianness of the book is so natural, so integrated, that I hesitate even to call it a "Christian" book. It's just a book about people -- some of them know Jesus, some don't, some find Him, some don't.

The way Alison writes it is very realistic, I think -- sometimes some of the characters burst into prayer. (People mock musicals because, they say, "People don't just burst into song!" But I assure you: They Do. Same thing with prayer.) Reading the book, it struck me how little faith of any kind is portrayed in most of the books we read. Why is that, do you think? I mean, I know in lots of books the characters dash off a quick prayer before heading into one dramatic situation or another -- but rarely do you read real characters, of ANY faith, actively practicing that faith. OK anyway. The Weight of Shadows is not just a character study, although the characters are indeed compelling. I grew to love the characters in all their damaged humanity; I cried in several spots. And the storyline is also fascinating and engaging. It's a very well-written book that I highly recommend, and it's my birthday and I'm tired so I'm just going to leave it at that!

And TWO Contests!

First, from me (Meg):
If you comment on this post (below), I will send you a FREE copy of The Weight of Shadows. Seriously! And I know I'll get, like, one or two comments so your chances of winning are exceedingly high. Comment!

And second, from Alison:
On July 18th, which is one week after the close of the tour*, I'll choose one commentor from a randomly selected blog to receive either autographed copies of my first three books or a gift card to their favorite bookstore.
*Meg again: I didn't do a good job of explaining that I'm part of a "blog tour" Alison has put together to get the word out about her book. Basically lots of other bloggers are also writing about The Weight of Shadows. Who? Why, funny you should ask -- click the "Who else is blogging..." link below.

So there you have it. It's a great book, and you can get it for free. Comment now!

Alison's website
Who else is blogging about this book?
The Weight of Shadows at Amazon
The Weight of Shadows at

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eating... GOOD

Hey there! Got back from out 10-year anniversary trip to Holland and Belgium and it was awesome! All my pics are on facebook -- I'm hoping to put my journal up on here but I can't really see that happening any time soon. It was a great trip -- loved experiencing how they do things across the pond, loved the challenges and surprises of travelling.

Joel and I brought home about 5 pounds of cheese: Gouda, Emmenthaler, and some delicious, mild variety that was served every morning in our B&Bs. What a difference REAL cheese makes! Wow. Anyway, we also got our first box of organic produce from our CSA: mustard greens, pac choy, mint, rhubarb, and a couple kinds of spinach. And it, also, is awesome.

AND we've been getting farm-fresh eggs for the last couple months. I think they're from part-time free-range hens. And Cameron bought me some wild rice! ANNNNND being gone for a week earned us a couple extra bucks in our grocery budget, which I'm hoping to put toward the occasional grass-fed-beef and free-range-chicken purchase. Joel likes to have meat every day for dinner, and even though the food experts say meat is one thing that it's really important to buy organically, it is truly prohibitively expensive. I mean, I can get 90%-lean ground beef at Aldi for $2.99/lb. or I can spend almost three times that on the good stuff. So I don't know. I think we can do the occasional splurge, especially if I can cut back on the meat -- like, for example, I made spaghetti last night and just didn't put the sausage in (all right, if you're really curious, I forgot to defrost it) and the kids actually preferred it that way. Incroyable! Of course, tonight I made a fab egg bake (with wild rice and mustard greens sauteed in soy sauce) and the kids hated it. Win some, lose some.

Hey, I turn 34 tomorrow at 8:47 am. Watch this space early-morning June 25 for my review of Alison's book (and a chance to win free books! Plural!).