Meet our Staff–Q&A with Melissa Willis

BioPhotoMelissa lives in a suburb of Dallas with her husband and three children. She’s a homeschooling mom who loves watching children learn. During her spare time, she enjoys reading, playing video games, and most recently has discovered the joy of quilting. Melissa also loves to hike, but the Dallas area offers little to satisfy that interest. So, every few years, she travels to Sedona, AZ to hike their beautiful red rock formations.

Melissa enjoys a variety of genres, most containing suspense and thriller elements.

SOTP: Why did you start reviewing, and what is the first book you remember reviewing?

Melissa: Around the end of 2005, I discovered Ted Dekker. At the time he had a forum and for awhile, I participated there. One of the forum members was author Eric Wilson. Aside from being a wealth of information on all things fiction, he encouraged people to review the books they read. Until that point it never occurred to me that the average everyday reader’s opinion was important. After reading Eric’s debut novel, Dark to Mortal Eyes, I reviewed it on Amazon. The review is horrible, but I found out I really liked it and have continued ever since.

SOTP: Have your reading tastes changed since you started reviewing?

Melissa: Yes and no. Mostly I’ve been able to better define what I like to read. Before I could say I liked to read mysteries. Which is true, but what I really like are crime dramas that have lots of action, adventure, suspense, and thrill.

SOTP: What book has surprised you the most in your time reviewing? (Perhaps something you wouldn’t normally have picked up, outside of your comfort genre, etc.)

Melissa: Ronie Kendig’s Nightshade. I generally try to shy away from all things romance as I’m drawn to suspense more than relationship books. But Nightshade was different. First off, the couple was married, but separated. So their feelings for each other felt genuine. Secondly, the romance was a part of the story, not the story. I’ve read every one of Ronie’s books since and have loved them. Her Wolfsbane and Firethorn are two of my favorites.

SOTP: What’s the first book you remember reading? (It still counts if someone else read it to you if you were too young to read!)

Melissa: I am positive my mother read to me as a child, but I don’t remember the books. The first one I remember is either Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows. My sister read both of them to me, but I can’t remember which was first. What I do remember is that Where the Red Fern Grows was quite traumatic. I kept crying and telling her to stop reading, but I had to know what happened next, so then I’d tell her to keep reading. To this day, I still have this type of reaction to certain books and characters. I can’t stand to read it, but I still have to know what happens, so I keep reading.

SOTP: If you’re stuck at home on a sick day, what comfort book can you count on to always cheer you up?

Melissa: None or any. I usually don’t turn to books for comfort. Instead I usually opt for video games—particularly mindless ones. However, if I do decide to turn to a book, any will do as long as it doesn’t require too much thought.

SOTP: If you could only read one book for the rest of your life (I know, the horror!), which book do you think you could read a hundred times without getting bored of it? 

Melissa: That’s a really hard question.  If Robert Liparulo’s Dreamhouse King series was in a single volume, I’d go with that one. Since it’s not, I’d have to say the first three books of Ted Dekker’s Circle series. They are all in a single volume. 🙂 While the Circle books certainly would never take the place of the Bible, they do carry the familiar thread of perfect creation, fall of man, redemption, and promised return. I tend not to re-read books, but this is a series I’ve read multiple times and could easily read again and again.

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