Friday, March 2, 2012

There You'll Find Me: A Review, A Giveaway, A Knit-Beard.

Listening To: The Island by Keith Harkin
Jessica Chastain: wore my favorite Oscar dress. My second favorite was Octavia Spencer. Loved the fit, color, and the sleeves. I've never felt confident in snazzy dresses, particularly strapless ones. Finding a dress with sleeves, that still looks elegant, isn't so easy. She looked amazing though. I also loved Viola and Natalie Portman's dress. And that was pretty much it. Lots more "heh?" moments than "woo!" moments for me. 

One of my favorite novels is EB White’s Charlotte’s Web.  Not only does the book detail a perfectly wonderful friendship, but perfectly wonderful sentences line every single page. This is one of my favorites:

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”   

This quote has been bouncing around in my brain this week, because I’ve been writing about (and today I’m giving away!...) a copy of Jenny B. Jones’ newest novel There You’ll Find Me.

Jenny is an amazing writer. And I’m blessed to call her a true friend as well. We first connected through Brio Magazine, a swanky publication we’d both written for. The friendship factor was apparent from the start. There’s a certain brand of snark and sarcasm that endears people to me immediately. I gravitate to funny like a moth to a flame. (Or like a Rogue Accountant to an All You Can Eat Buffet.) Jen is funny but she’s also encouraging and fun and I can verify that she’s even cooler than she seems (which is hard to believe, but true). But I promise I’m not writing out of a total bias here.

Because I’ve never met a Jenny B. Jones book that I don’t like. There You’ll Find Me is no exception; it is a bittersweet story about an 18-year-old girl named Finley Sinclair and her journey through faith, loss, letting go, and learning to love again. You can find the full summary here, but I’m going to jump in and tell you just a few of the many things I loved about Finley’s story:   

Thing the First: The setting is atmospheric, idyllic, and magical. Finley is in Ireland as an exchange student, studying music and working on her audition piece for college. While in Ireland, she’s using her brother Will’s journal as a guide to see the places that changed his life. (Will, Finley’s older brother – and hero - died tragically before this novel begins.)

“God will open that door for you.” Sister Maria put her wrinkled hand in mine. “There’s nothing you’re searching for that can’t be found in Ireland – God, music, beautiful landscapes, wonderful food, maybe even parts of yourself. You just have to be brave enough to look.” – TYFM, p. 41

Helloooo, Ireland. Is there any place more magical than Ireland? I missed Ireland when I finished the book … and I’ve never even been there. TYFM mostly takes place in a fictional town called Abbeyglen. Hemmed in by a silver ocean, and populated with vivid characters (more on them next week), lively music (more on that too…), and rolling, green hills … Abbeyglen is totally enchanting. 

As I read, I kept thinking the book had a fairy-tale feel about it. I think the storybook vibe had everything to do with Abbeyglen, particularly the folks who call it home. I wanted to live in this book. I’m confident you will want to live there too. We can be neighbors.

Thing the Second: Beckett Rush is a doll. If you frequently develop crushes on book-boys, then you need to brace yourself. Beckett is  handsome, confident, and infuriatingly flirty. And. He’s kind and sensitive and he becomes a sincere friend to Finley, even as they’re falling for each other. I do jumpy claps every time I read a relationship in YA that’s built on genuine friendship and not just crazy Kathy/Heatcliff Ed/Bella-esc obsession. The star-crossed lover-stories are great, sometimes. But I actually prefer this kind of romance. Finley and Beckett’s relationship feels so real; and the way they banter back and forth gives the serious moments even more gravity and meaning. But you should be warned: even Beckett’s witty banter will make your heart flutter.  (One of my favorite Beckett scenes is on p.25.)

Thing the Third: The Funny. If you read Jenny’s work, then you know to expect some great humor. What’s particularly awesome this time around, is that TYFM dives into some serious subject matter – but the funny is still prevalent. The humor is never ill-timed, just true to life.

I’ll discuss more of my favorite parts of There You'll Find Me in my interview with Jen, but my most favorite part of all is what I want to leave you with. Thing the Fourth: Finley Sinclair.

Finley is, most definitely, the star of her story. She’s smart and funny and a little bit of a rebel. You might know her already, because Finley is Alex Sinclair’s little sister in Save the Date. Even more awesomely: you might recognize some of her qualities in yourself. She is fearless about standing up for other people, but not as assertive when it comes to taking care of herself. She’s a mess some days: broken and scarred by loss and unsure (and frantic) about what the future might bring.

She celebrates the wonder-moments. She wrestles with the what-the-heck moments. Through it all, her faith feels so real, and I think this has to do with the fact that she’s not afraid to wrestle with her doubt. She asks questions (even when she doesn’t get answers). She laughs. She grieves. She wears her heart on her sleeve (and scores it in a song). She makes stupid mistakes. But through every moment, even her darkest moments, Finley is a fighter. And she never, ever stops fighting. No matter how hard she falls, she clings to a Grace that pulls her back up. Finley is not a whimper. This girl knows how to roar. She's a girl who goes searching for a grave but finds life instead. That’s an incredible story to live out.  

Her headshots are better than mine.
*Gives Jenny B. Jones the stinkeye*
And I can’t wait to hear what you think about it! There You’ll Find Me is available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, IndieBound, and wherever else you buy your books. You can read more about Jen on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook

I’m super excited too, because we’re giving away a signed copy of There You’ll Find Me. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, comment on today’s post and answer this question:

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

*I would love to hear your answer even if you’ve already read the book, but be sure and let me know if you don’t want to be entered in the giveaway. 

* Next week, I’ll be posting interview I did with Jenny. I’m not going to lie … it’s a little bit awesome (God, grief, bad love songs, and Ryan Renalds are all topics we discuss at some point). But if you want to enter the giveaway, today’s post is the one you need to comment on. That way I don’t confuse myself (which happens often). I’ll announce a random winner next Friday.

See you in the comments! J I can’t wait to hear about all the places you’ll go!

* This giveaway is only open to folks living in the USA and Canada. We love you no matter where you live, and I hope you’ll still jump in on the conversation. Postage is just crazy-pricey.


  1. Natalie, I love when you talk books! It makes me feel like we are soul-sisters. I have been anticipating “There You’ll Find Me” since I first saw the cover go up on Goodreads, and all the reviews and praise have made me more eager to read it. Your line, “…a girl who goes searching for a grave but finds life instead” has pushed me over the edge! Must read.

    If I could visit anyplace in the world, it would be Europe as a whole (I’ve never crossed the pond), I would love to visit England and France and Ireland; but my true country crush has always been Russia. I would love to visit Russia someday.

    Thanks again for the chance to win Jenny’s book. Though I can tell I’ll be buying it ASAP if I don’t win :)

  2. Natalie,

    you remind me of my best friend. you are so quirky and fun and genuine and open and just all around beautiful. i feel like i know you a little bit. (by the way, this is not me trying to kiss up to you so you pick my entry, im sure the library will have this book at some point or another.)

    i am so bad with choices. asking me where i would go if i could go anywhere isnt the greatest idea, since you might get a long and kind of rambly paragraph. i guess my answer would depend on the circumstances. can i bring my best friend (who i love to the moon and back) or my family? or am i going alone? does it cost me a lot of money? (im mennonite and very bad at saving money, so good deals are my favourite.) if i could go anywhere and bring anyone, i would probably go to somewhere warm (or warmer than canada, at least) and exotic. egypt has been my dreamland since before grade three, but grade three was when i did a project on it and fell totally in love. obviously, i wouldnt go to the war zone, but it would be so cool to go and actually experience something like that. or maybe greece, since it is totally beautiful and has some really interesting (and tragic) history. if i could go anywhere but i wasnt allowed to bring anyone, i would probably go visit someone. i know i wouldnt go very far. maybe i would hop on a plane and go a province over and visit family, or maybe i would just drive an hour to go see my best friends. either way, i would never go to a far off country without knowing anyone.

    well natalie, thanks for reading my somewhat scrambled thoughts. know that you are loved.


  3. If I could go anywhere in the world, that's so difficult. At different times in life I've been drawn to different places. Right now, I feel my heart pulled towards South America. I'm not sure why exactly except to say that the people and the culture intrigue me (but most if not all people and cultures intrigue me), and the fact that I'm studying Spanish right now might have something to do with it too. But I also want to visit eastern Europe and more of South Asia and East Asia and the Indonesia-ish areas too. Oh and of course there's Africa, and one day I sincerely hope to visit the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. I have a feeling that I won't necessarily be a "settler" I've got a heart full of adventure and committed to being courageous.

    I have been thinking about this book a crazy awful lot lately, and I'm not sure why. It's just one of those that you know is going to be good. Hearing the way you talk about it too though makes me trust it more because I know you take your books seriously. ;)

  4. Honest to goodness, this book sounds spectacular. Of course, anything that you write about makes me want to read it. Being such a classics girl, it's sometimes hard for me to find modern fiction that I actually appreciate, but let's just say I'm willing to give this one a shot. (:
    So enter me in that giveaway, baby! If I were to go somewhere...hmm. France. And I'm going in June, so that's kinda wonderful.
    Also, I've wanted to tell you this for awhile--I just adore your use of the word "swanky." Random but true.

  5. This post makes me want to read the book that much more :) If I were to go anywhere I would definetely have to go to England. I have been so captivated by it since I was in 2nd grade and read Peter Pan by JM Barrie. That would be amazing :)
    Thanks so much!

  6. Natalie! Love your take on the book and will have to check it out for myself. This post made my heart flutter because my husband and I just officially decided two days ago that we're going to take a big trip in June... to Ireland!! This is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, and in Ireland they're opening a big museum and you can also see where it was built, etc. And we're going to do some castle-exploring as well. :) Your post made me even more excited!

  7. If I could go anywhere in the world... hmmm, I would say either Italy or Ireland. Italy has pasta, which I LOVE, but Ireland sounds so pretty. I would love to visit anywhere in Europe though

  8. If I could go anywhere in the world it would be either Ireland, Switzerland, or New Zealand. Anything with rolling, green hills and I would be perfectly content! Actually, send me anywhere out of Missouri and I would consider it beautiful! (Not putting Missouri under the bus, because I love my state!)

  9. Please enter me in the giveaway! :)

    If I could go anywhere, I'd want to go to Prince Edward Island-- where Anne of Green Gables "lived," of course!! I LOVE the books and I'd love to see the setting of them. Plus it's L. M. Montgomery's birthplace! :)

  10. I would want to go to England. Almost all of my favorite authors and/or books are British. I want to see Jane Austen's house and the pub where the Inklings met and English cottages. :) {I'd also love to go to Scotland and Ireland and France, but England is the major one.}

    Charlotte's Web is a gorgeous book! So is There You'll Find Me. :)

    P.S. I already have a copy, so don't enter me in the giveaway!


  11. Wow, you make me sound MUCH cooler than I really am (says the girl in yoga pants and pink socks...). Thank you for the beautiful words in regard to There You'll Find Me. I feel like you should get billing on the cover. You had to hold my hand through all 400 rewrites.

  12. Hmm... anywhere in the world, eh?
    I was going to say England...
    But I always forget about New Zealand, and honestly, I think that would be my top choice. You got the crazy awesome New Zealander accents, and the land over there seems crazy beautiful!
    I'm generally not into modern day romance novels, but I'm trusting your word in how amazing this book! Hope I win ;)

  13. If I could go That's a tough one. I really want to see some part of Africa. Or all of Africa. I'll take either. ;)

    I love it when you talk about books! I always read Jenny B. Jones stories in Brio (and yours!), so I'm pretty sure I would like this book!

  14. I'll enter! Who doesn't want a free book!?
    If I could go anywhere...okay, I must admit the first two places to pop in my head are Atlantis and Hogwarts. I have a problem with overactive imagination and dreaming big I guess. But for real, England. I've always wanted to go to England. Part of me thinks I was supposed to be born there, I must admit. It just seems so beautiful and elegant and adventuresome all at the same time.

  15. I've been wanting to read this book for awhile! I love all of Jennys books!

    If i could go anywhere in the world? Well i just got back from the Dominican Republic last week for a missions trip and i fell in love with the place! I only stayed a week which went by way to fast and i cried all the way to the airport because i didn't want to leave! I left part of myself there and i don't know how long it will be till i can go back because i leave for college in the fall... So it would be the Dominican Republic! I would go back in a heartbeat! :)

  16. I honestly don't know what one place to pick if I could go absolutely anywhere in the world. Of course there are tons of places I would love to go on vacation, but when I travel, I want God to use it as a missions trips. There are just so many places that need God and need people to reach out to them. Wait, I do know one place. I want to go to Kenya. My family is friends with the most amazing man who lives there are a missionary, and his heart for the broken is just astounding. If I could, I would go there to help him in a heartbeat <3

  17. Commeting :) If I could go anywhere... Europe probably. Or perhaps back to Ecuador ... I went there last summer.

  18. I've always wanted to visit Ireland, Australia (two of our kids went there as student ambassadors), but my husband and I would actually love to travel back east and see part of America that he's not seen but is so beautiful. I had a penpal in Finland for over 25 yrs and I'd love to go there as well someday in my dreams.

  19. I know this totally sounds like the cop out answer, but honestly one of the places that I would most like to visit really is Ireland. The movie Leap Year helped to inspire my desire to go there! :)
    I loved Jenny's book save the Date and i have many females in my house ( i have 4 daughters) haha who would love to read this book as well! Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway!

  20. Peru, most definitely!

  21. That book sounds so good! There are so many places I want to go, but probably the most random is Easter Island, where all the giant stone faces were found (Me want gum gum!). I watched a national geographic special on it and ever since, I've really wanted to go. Something about being on a tiny island in the middles of the Pacific draw me in somehow. When I think about it, though, I'd really like to travel everywhere. :)

  22. I would probably want to visit either Ireland or Italy. I've always been fascinated by both locations. :)

  23. I've heard so much about this book and it sounds amazing.
    I've been obsessed with Ireland ever since I saw Leap Year so I would love to visit there sometime. But my BIGGEST wish ever is to go to Paris. Just to stand on top of the Eiffel Tower for few minutes would be a dream come true.
    I would love to be entered in the drawing. Thank you. Your post was lovely as always :)


  24. I would absolutely love to go to Paris or Monte Carlo sometime during my life!

  25. First instinct: Spain! since I've never been there before and yo quiero practicar mi espanol otra vez.

    Love instinct: When I'm back in America*, I will want to fly to Holland to visit my boyfriend again (even though we have 3 visits coming up by the end of July). <3

    *My permanent address is still the US and I move back in July. So I hope that makes me still eligible for the book? ;)

  26. There are so many places I hope and wish to go, but the first that come to mind are Alaska and...yep, Ireland! I would soooo love to win this book. <3

  27. The cover itself makes me desperately want to get my hands on that book! And the guy with the crocheted beard.. I am lovin! I so much enjoy your blog Natalie!

  28. New Zealand, by faaaaar. In all honesty though, there are so many places in the world, that I have trouble narrowing it down to one. Someday I'll hit them all ;)

  29. I would love to go to South Africa someday. It looks so beautiful and wild, and the cities seem kind of cool too. Oh, and the accents are just beast.
    Even if I don't win the book, I really want to read it now :)
    p.s. i am publishing this as anonymous, but if i am drawn i will send you my info.

  30. Jenny B. Jones is a great author... and this is a great interview. :) Thank you so much :) If I could go anywhere, I'd go to India. My dream is to teach there. And I know that one day my dream will come true.

  31. I've always wanted to go to England. But really, anywhere in the UK will be amazing, the history there is shiver-inducing to me.

    But honestly, I'll be honored to visit any country in the world, I'm sure they all have incredible people to meet.

    Thanks for the chance to win, Natalie! Jenny is amazing and TYFM signed by her would make my year! :)

  32. I want to go to UK. I would do the whole nerdy Tourist thing and visit all the sites of my favorite books and movies. I would go see where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien met. I would go and see a Shakespeare play, preferably one with David Tennant in it. I would eat fish and ships by the Thames and then maybe see Buckingham Palace. I have wanted to visit there since the first time I read The Chronicles of Narnia.

  33. Oh my! I have such wanderlust; this is a very difficult question for me--like brownies or cheesecake kind of difficult! Spain, Taiwan, Iceland, France, Ireland, and Figi are all on the list though!

  34. Would it be corny to pick Ireland?
    I think we have family from there, because I've always felt this crazy connection with it. But I want to visit lots and lots and lots of places!

  35. The first thing that popped into my head was Ireland. And not because that happens to be the destination in the book. That fact merely heightened my excitement and anticipation to read the book. Ever since watching a chick flick: Leap Year(gotta love those) I fell in love with Ireland. Everything about it, the green hills, the hard-to-understand but charming accent. I've been praying and trying to go on a missions trip since then so I'd have to say that if I could go anywhere in the world, it would be to Ireland. And I can't wait to read Jenny's book; whether it's the free copy or not I'm sure it's just as brilliant as her other books if not a little more because of the presence of Ireland.

  36. This book sounds great....I loved "Save the Date." There are so many places I'd love to visit. Hawaii would be great (especially after Minnesota winters.) I'd also love to visit England and Ireland. And maybe Denmark. :)

    I really enjoyed your book review.

  37. I've been wanting to read this book for awhile, now I REALLY want to read it! The two countries I most want to visit are Germany and Ireland. Germany because I'm 3/4 German and have always wanted to see that country. And Ireland because it is SO beautiful. The place that I want to revisit is a children's home in Mexico. I went there on a mission trip and long to be back with the kids and other awesome people there!
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

  38. I have an obsession. It began in 5th grade. It has not ended...even 6 years later. England. That is like a magical, musical, and magnificant word to my ears. With that word, I conjure up thousands of images. It is my dream someday to study abroad there, live there, or somehow do missions work there with kids. I love the proper british accents, their kind hearts, their hilarious humor, and all their wonderful, fascinating history. My dream would be to spend a great deal of time there! I am waiting for the day, when I can visit!

    I love Jenny B. Jones! I have read all her books! Some twice! There you'll find Me was spectacular! It was hilarious, witty, and well written story! I can't wait to see what Jenny comes out wiht next!

  39. I have been anxious to read this one, since I adore JBJ's books, but have been too thrifty/cheap/scattered to buy it. So I do hope you will randomly make me win. That would certainly be nice.

    Dream vacations...oh my. Mine has only changed about a zillion times. Finally I settled on just spending a year or so visiting everywhere around the world that I want to see. I'd love to see Australia and New Zealand, and I want to spend a few months touring Europe and the UK. I'd love to go back to Israel. I'm intrigued by the idea of visiting more exotic places, too, but intimidated by the language barrier. A few years back, we got an invitation to go to Ireland to a reunion of my husband's family, which would be totally awesome. I'll be lucky if I ever get to do any of them. :/

  40. If I could go anywhere in the world I think I'd visit Greece. I'd love to go to Santorini and all the beautiful beaches that are not only beautiful but also steeped in history too.I love that. I'd visit Athens of course and then I'd visit a few cities mentioned in the Bible because I think that would just be so cool. It would be so much fun to immerse yourself into their culture, especially their delicious food. I LOVE pita and hummus and Greek salads and all sorts of things like this. Then, I think I would visit Italy too and then make my way to Ireland because those places seem super magical too.

  41. Love Jenny B. Jones, and this is one of my favorite book covers out there right now!

  42. Jenny B Jones is one of my all time favorite authors!
    I just LOVE her writing, its funny, sad, interesting, and just AMAZING!

    If I could travel anywhere, I would like to go to Ireland! I don't say that because that's where this book is placed. Well maybe that plays a part in it. But I sounds so pretty, and interesting. I guess books are really the reason I want to go there. Julie Lessman's characters are Irish and I LOVE them! So yeah... I would also like to go to Italy or/and Greece.
    I REALLY hope I win!!
    I want to read this book SOOOO bad!!


  43. Oh, I'd love to read this! I'm needing some good fun banter right about now.

    I've been to Ireland and fell instantly in love; and of course I'm a huge fan of JBJ! Since I've read Save the Date, I'm especially interested in hearing Alex's baby sister's story.

    Please enter me in this great giveaway! Thanks.

  44. oh dear. I'm an missionary kid, so sometimes i feel like the world is more my home than america is...and so i'm all about traveling (i have a thing where i want to go to as many countries as i am old -- i'm down by two right now.) on my bucket list, though, are thailand, greece or anywhere in eastern europe (prague or budapest, please!).

  45. Love reading everyone's dream destination locations! I think I'd be Australia-bound if I could go anywhere. Natalie, what about you?

  46. Natalie, I LOVE your AND Jenny B. Jones' books! I'm a teenage girl who loves sarcasm and humor (and I use them often myself), and you both know how to incorporate just the right amount of it into your writing to make me laugh, EVERY time! Stay awesome! :)

    If I could go anywhere in the world, I would either go to London (I know it's a cliche vacation spot, but I'm dying to see the famous attractions--and British accents make me swoon.) or to Italy (I would love to ride in a Gondola in romantic Venice and eat some authentic Italian food. Yum.) :)

  47. This looks like an adorable book! I would love the opportunity to read it. :)

  48. i would love to visit charleston, sc...thanks for the chance to read jenny's novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  49. There are so many places i'd like to go.
    Israel, Ireland, Paris, Australia, and Morocco just to name a few :)But hopefully my life will one of sojourning so I can see them all!

  50. Great interview so far! Can't wait to read the last part :) I'd want to go to Australia and New Zealand for sure!

  51. Oh... wow. If I could pick anywhere to go right now, I would hop on a few planes and go back to Haiti or maybe to Africa. South Africa to be exact. The people there are beautiful (and their accents are quite beautiful as well). The past of the country is very interesting and it would be interesting to see how some of its past is still (unfortunately) a part of its present.

    Random side note: When I was at an music event at college last early last year, I was sitting next to this random guy who I had never met before. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see he had a very thick red beard. I was quite impressed, so I looked to my right to get a better view to find out that it was crocheted and attached to his hat like the one you have pictured above. I was a bit caught off guard...

  52. Cara, there is nothing cliche about London. It's amazing and lovely and old and cool and beautiful.