Monday, October 30, 2006

Book Review: "The Secret Life of Becky Miller" by Sharon Hinck

It's Supermom to the Rescue!

When I'm facing a tough situation, I often use my overactive imagination to pretend I'm someone else. Maybe I'm Princess Leia taking on Darth Vader (what if??) or I'm a medieval princess disguised as a boy fighting in a battle. Then I worry that I'm too old to pretend these things. So to my delight, I was happy to read about a mom who does the exact same thing.

Becky Miller is SAHM (stay at home mom) with 3 kids and a loving husband. She wants to be the perfect wife and mother but things don't always turn out that way, causing her to picture herself in dire situations as a astronaut, gymnast or the next Mother Teresa. She's also juggling finishing up her degree and being in charge of the women's program at church, while meeting with her small group once a week. Then her life turns upside down when her husband loses his job, the church wants someone else to run HER program and a magazine wants to feature her as their woman of the month. It's time for Supermom to come to the rescue!

I liked this book a lot. The story feels like a Job parable as everything that could go wrong happens to Becky. She also realistically handles everything. I appreciated that she got mad and frustrated and even yelled at times. This was refreshing as opposed to other books where the characters just smile and thank God for making everything go wrong. I also liked Becky's final decision involving the church position. I feel that she made the right decision after what she had been through. I also liked her family. Her husband was supportive and the kids were normal and not annoying.

This book gave me a better understanding of what it means to be a mom. Many times we take them for granted (I know I'm guilty of that. Sorry Mom!) Hopefully next time when I have kids, I can be one like Becky Miller (while still taking time to use my imagination).

The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck is published by Bethany House (2006)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Book Review: "Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante" by Sharon Dunn

A red haired Jessica Fletcher


In Sassy Cinderella, the 2nd book in the Ruby Taylor Mystery series, we find Ruby teaching at a local college due to the recent death of a professor. There are questions surrounding his death, whether it was a suicide or not, and why would he kill himself. Meanwhile, Ruby also has to deal with her long lost brother reappearing and disappearing in her house, affecting her relationship with her mother. On top of that, her relationship with Wesley is getting complicated, with him being a police officer and continually catching Ruby in awkward positions.

I really admired Ruby in this story. For example when she went into the professor's study, she wasn't scared or nervous or freaked out. If I had known there had once been a dead body in the room i was in, I'd run out immediately. Ruby, on the other hand, examines the fan the body was hanging from!

I also liked Ruby's reactions to Wesley. Guys are absolutely clueless when it comes to women and Wesley fits the profile. He's such a typical guy to be with one girl and then call another. And I still cannot figure out why guys will not tell a girl they are dating someone and they they show off the new girl in front of the old girl and of course the new girl is always better looking and makes the old girl feel bad about herself. Luckily Ruby doesn't dwell too much on this, even though she feels down, it doesn't consume her. She has a lot of guts to put up not only with this but everything else in her life. This was a great book, recommended for anyone who likes strong females with a touch of mystery.

Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante by Sharon Dunn is published by Kregel (2004)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Book Review: "Maggie's Story" by Dandi Daley Mackall


WWJD? What would you do?

If Jesus had come during our time, what would our reaction have been? We scoff at the Jewish leaders in the New Testament for not seeing Jesus as the Messiah, when clearly all the signs point at him. Yet if someone now comes and says the same things, we label them as a lunatic, insane, unstable.

Maggie's Story takes a modern day view of the story of Mary Magdalene. The book takes her story from the Bible and puts it into a 21st century setting. Maggie is a bartender living a sex, drug filled life. Pete and Andy own a garage shop. Matt is her drug dealer. Jude is a reporter. The setting is set in Ohio. Jesus is portrayed by a former construction worker named Joshua Davidson. (get it? son of David?) The reader is taken through the life of Jesus/Josh through Maggie's eyes and how she feels about him and his ministry. And there is no Da Vinci Code in this story; no sexual relationship between Josh and Maggie here.

I found this book interesting. The characters were young and the miracles and other events are made more relatable and easier to understand. You sympathize with Maggie and her situation.

Yet I kept having trouble fully getting into the story. I found it hard to accept the modern setting without Jesus having originally happen. I realize that this is just a modern retelling but if Jesus didn't originally exist how is it the 21st century? The modern era started after Christ was born. Modern events could not have taken place without Christianity. The US wouldn't have even existed. I also noticed that there was no mention of Josh's birth. I guess that the virgin birth still would be hard to explain even in modern times? Also I know that as Christians that we're suppose not to judge people and this is going to sound bad, but if I saw a bunch of girls traveling with a group of guys and they were all living in the same van together, I might think negative towards those girls. The leader may say he's religious but the atmosphere would look sketchy.

Maybe I'm just looking too hard and reading too much into this. Like I said I did enjoy it. I would recommended this for teens or anyone who wants to know more about Mary Magdalene. It is a thought-provoking read.


Maggie's Story by Dandi Daley Mackall is published by Tyndale (2006)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Election by Jerome Teel

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is reviewing Jerome Teel's latest book, The Election..

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :

Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.

He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children-Brittney, Trey, and Matthew-and reside in Tennessee, where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.

The book: THE ELECTION

They seek ultimate power.

Nothing can stand in their way.

Ed Burke has waited a lifetime to become president of the United States. He's not about to let his nemesis, Mac Foster, stop him now...especially when he's sold his soul for the Oval Office.

Claudia Duval has lived a rough life. And finally, things have turned around for her after meeting the wealthy Hudson Kinney. But is all what is seems?

When a prominent citizen is murdered in Jackson, Tennessee, attorney Jake Reed doesn't want to know the truth. He just wants to get his client off. But as he investigates, he uncovers a sinister scheme. A scheme that would undermine the very democracy of America...and the freedom of the entire world.

"The Election, by Jerome Teel, is a fast-paced, highly readable mystery filled with suspense, intrigue, and political conspiracy. Teel skillfully weaves together themes of faith, family, suffering, and providence in a way that not only compels, but enlightens."
David S. Dockery-President, Union University

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Book Review: "Pitch Black" by Melody Carlson




“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
- Phil Donahue

I hope no one has ever experienced the death of someone close to them. Unfortunately the majority of people have. It's even more sad when you know someone who's committed suicide. As the 2nd most common form of death among teenagers, it's very rare to go to a high school that has not experienced the effects of it. Even more scarier are the number of teens who have considered the thought of taking their own lives.

Pitch Black, book 4 in the True Colors series, takes a look at teen suicide, a sensitive yet important issue. Morgan's best friend has taken his life and she and two friends are struggling to figure out why. They come up with the solution that it is best to join him and they make a suicide pact. As Morgan finds out what really happen, she decides to rethink her stance and help others realize that it's not worth it to end your life.

I feel that this was a very good book that teens should read. What I found interesting is that Jason tried to kill himself not for the sake of his peers' attention but for his father's. Imagine the guilt his father will now face the rest of his life. The essay about the effects of Tylenol overdose was very informative and should be made more public. I also appreciated Carlson's acknowledgment that Christian teens sometimes shy away from situations they are uncomfortable in handling. When Morgan found herself questioning God, her youth group and even her best friend distanced themselves away from her. Those are the times when they should have been there for her the most.

I feel that many teens believe that no one would care if they died and everyone would be better off if they were gone. I know that because I used to feel that way myself. This should not be the case. Suicide is a topic that many Christians are afraid to bring up. Churches and youth groups need to be aware that even their members are struggling with this idea. I hope that more people, teens and adults, read this book and understand that there needs to be more attention brought to this issue. It might even save a life.

Pitch Black by Melody Carlson is published by NavPress (2004)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Book Review: "Dying to Decorate" by Cyndy Salzmann


Books + food= YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've said before, I love reading books about food. Reading a novel that has the recipes it mentions is even better. As soon as I'm done with the book, I want to start making the food. What's even better is when the recipes are super easy for non cooks like me.

Dying to Decorate has all this and more. I really want to be able to find friends like the ladies in the Friday Afternoon Club when I reach that age. The friends meet every Friday (hence the name) for a time of fellowship, fun and food. Each woman has a very different personality that meshes well and doesn't clash with other. One of the members inherits a Civil War era house from her great aunt and the FAC goes to help her renovate it. During their stay, they discover the history of the house and how it will eventually change their own outlook of life. I enjoyed the book tremendously. My favorite scene was when John and Liz go out to dinner and stop by a coffeehouse. They order their coffee and John thinks he is splurging by ordering a grande. His reaction to the actual size of his cup as compared to Liz's venti is hilarious. I've been in Starbucks lots of times to hear people get confused and complain about the sizes. Sooooo relatable.

I'd recommend this book for fans of The Potluck Club or The Yada Yada Prayer Group. I really related to this book even though I'm the same age of the characters' kids! This book has it all: food, mystery, fun and even a history lesson! I am definitely looking forward to the next FAC adventure. I'm thinking about making that coconut cream pie or the baked potato soup...although i think i might pass on the pioneer mush :)

Dying to Decorate by Cyndy Salzmann is published by Howard Books (2005)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Book Review: "Caught in the Middle" by Gayle Roper


Don't look the ending!

Mystery authors will hate me. I am the type of reader that will look at the end of the book. But take it as a compliment! It means I am enjoying the book so much that I want to know the ending now! And I did enjoy Caught in the Middle, the 1st book the Amhearst Mysteries series. Merry Kramer is an ideal heroine who wants independence and to become a reporter for the local paper. However that's all interrupted when she opens her car trunk and finds a dead body on top of her Oreos and soda. When the mayor turns up dead the next day, Merry soon finds her life being threatened. The book gives readers a ride of twists and turns as you try to figure out who's behind everything. And yes I was surprised with the ending. This was a very well written mystery with a strong female character. The end of the book leaves you hanging. Recommended for any grown up Nancy Drew fan.

Caught in the Middle (revised edition) by Gayle Roper is published by Steeple Hill (2007)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury




This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Karen Kingsbury's latest book, Like Dandelion Dust.


About the Author: USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007.Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

About the Book:

A PEACEFUL TOWN...
AN IDYLLIC FAMILY...
A PHONE CALL THAT THREATENS THEM ALL.



Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start lifeover with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.) When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separatee love and violence), the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Book Review: "The Prophet" by Francine Rivers


Bible Stories Made Interesting

I'll admit it. When I read my Bible, I tend to skip the minor prophets. Except for Jonah, I don't think the majority of people can even remember their names. Luckily Francine Rivers has made Amos into a novel (Book 4 in her Sons of Encouragement series) so we can learn about his story. Amos is a shepherd who is appalled at the way God's people have become in the days after the nation has split. God gives Amos visions of what will happen to the enemies of his people and to his people themselves. When Amos goes to Bethel to tell them, they first rejoice at hearing of the destruction of their enemies but then after hearing what will happen to them, they turn against Amos. Even though near death at times, Amos stays true to his word warning the people to repent and leave the ways of the false gods and priests. The people don't listen and God sends down his punishments.

I liked how the story could be related to people in today's world. If we're not careful we'll end up just like the kingdom of Israel. Another thing I liked was the cameo of Hosea, another prophet, here as a young man. His story is hinted at and can be told fully in as a parable in another of River's books, Reedeming Love. This book is recommended if you have trouble understanding the book of Amos. It's amazing how fiction makes historical and biblical event more clear.

The Prophet by Francine Rivers is published by Tyndale (2006)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Movie Review: "Jet Li's Fearless"




My parents and I don't go out ot the movies much together. In fact in all my 23 years we've only gone to see 5 movies together. We're more stay at home rent DVDs (mostly from the library b/c they're free) people. So us going to see "Jet Li's Fearless" on Saturday was considered an event in our household.

I wanted to see this movie because lately I've been on an Asian movie kick and I've seen pretty much all the major Asian movies that have come out in theaters. Also it's a Chinese movie and since I'm half Chinese, why not support my ethnic heritage? I really enjoyed Jet Li's last Chinese movie Hero (which was excellent and has the most beautiful cinematography I have ever seen in a movie) and since this is also his last martial arts film.

This movie was different from Hero or Crouching Tiger as it is more martial arts and male centered. The fight sences are intense and painful yet not over graphic. If you are familiar with other martial arts films you know what to expect. The story is based on the life of Huo Yuanjia,a legendary Chinese martial artist who challenged foreign fighters in highly publicized events, restoring pride and nationalism to China at a time when Western Imperialism was eroding the country. The main plot of the movie shows how he learns how to become humble and not arrogant. My favorite scene is at the end involving Yuanjia and the Japanese fighter. It is sad yet it shows respect and honor.


I really enjoyed this movie. I would classify this as more a guy film but if you enjoy martial arts, historical movies, or anythign with Jet Li you'd like it too. Those who are sqeamish of limbs in unnatural positions may avoid it. There is no sexual content and very minor language.

Book Review: "Entangled" by Tracie Peterson


"The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." -Jimmy Carter

Entangled is another entry in Bethany House's old Portraits series. Tracie Peterson is also one of my favorite authors. I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Cara Kellser is forced to join politician Bob Kerns as his running mate for governor of Kansas. During the road to election and after, Cara finds out what type of man Kerns really is. She wants to get out but she fears for her life and the lives of those connected to her, specifically her daughter and state trooper Harry Oberlin. The characters of the bad guys in the story are deliciously evil as they are men who think only of themselves, and how they can keep profiting not thinking about their family or those close to them. If all politicians are like this: Beware!

I enjoyed this book for the most part. My only main complaint is the character of Cara's daughter. She is supposed to be 11 years old in the book yet she acts like a 5 year old. Maybe kids have matured more in the last few years but when I was 10 I didn't' jump around all the time, waiting to be picked up and carried by people. Also I'm not sure of how other states run their elections but it seemed unlikely that someone with absolutely no political experience whatsoever would be able to run for office. Political parties are not mentioned but it seems that Cara's political views are different from Kerns, and I'm sure that the media would have brought that up and made a big deal about it.

The romance story is not the main story and seems to be put in as an afterthought. The story was fast paced, suspenseful and gives a good look into political campaigns. Enjoyable read during election time!

Entangled by Tracie Peterson is published by Bethany House (1997)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Book Review: "SAHM I Am" by Meredith Efken



Quite possibly the best book I've read this year...

I have the tendency when I find a really good book to drop everything and just read it. Sometimes this means staying up til 2am finishing a (non school related) book. For example, when the last Harry Potter book came out, all I did for 2 days straight minus 2 hours for church was read. (It was well worth it btw). Why am I talking about reading times? Well today at 2:00pm I started reading "SAHM I Am". I finished it at 5:07pm. I read a 325 page book in 3 hours. Even THAT is a record for me. It shows how good a book it was.

SAHMs are Stay At Home Moms. Of course I am not one, but I will prally be one in the future (check back with me in about 8 years). However, even with that I totally enjoyed this book. It is written in email format, with a group of women who are members of a email mailing list for SAHMs. The book focuses on 5 women who bond together, in a chat outside of the email list, and the moderator of the list who is dealing with issues with her younger sister. The women are real and very relatable with hilarious and heartwarming situations. My favorite character is Dulcie and the funniest part in the book for me involved a romance novel inspired love letter. I laughed and laughed at her reaction. Another thing I liked is that the 5 women are not afraid to speak their mind and they let us know that they are annoyed with Rosalyn and the way that she comes off across in her moderator posts. But the reader finds out why she acts the way she does so it's understandable, but for a while yes, this reader agreed with the 5 women. I enjoyed the sarcastic emails that would follow showing how the characters would feel after a Roslayn post. It made the books feel more real. I am really looking foward to the next book. In the meantime here's the prequel of SAHM I Am called "Bedtime Battles" that was posted as an online serial on eharlequin.com. Very funny stuff.

The fact that there are no chapters in this book made it very hard to put down, as there is no stopping point. You just want to keep reading and reading. You really feel as if you are a part of the list as a lurker. However even with all the different storylines going around, you never feel lost. I hope that next time if I become a SAHM I am able to find a email group or something akin to this so I can find the same friendships and bond like these women do.

SAHM I Am by Meredith Efken is published by Steeple Hill (2005)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Book Review: "Theodora's Wedding" by Penny Culliford


Time to break out the fake accent again

When I finished Theodora's Diary, my first thought was "Great book, I want more." Lucky for me, I had already placed my interlibrary loan and this book reached me in two weeks. I finished it in two days. This book deals mainly with Theodora's relationships with her new vicar, her new boss at her job, and of course her upcoming wedding with Kevin. I liked the introduction of the new characters especially the vicar, who does not fit into the typical ideal of a priest and gets into conflict with the uptight Jeremiah. Theodora's adventures, no matter what she does, are always exciting. Just having the deal with the people she meets and how she reacts to them is worth reading about. The scene she has with Declan, and the events that follow afterwards, are so typical of guys. And then they think they've done nothing wrong and it's all the girl's fault!

I loved reading this book. The characters were hilarious and totally relatable (well most of them). Looking foward to reading the next book, if it ever gets returned from the library...(whoever has it, it's overdue!)

My only complaint is I have no idea what on earth a bludgie is. A little help, anyone?

Theodora's Wedding by Penny Culliford is published by Zondervan (2003)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Movie Review: The Joy Luck Club


I don't know about you but there are certain movies that I will watch that I am 100% sure will make me cry. For example I know that if I watch Return of the Jedi (laugh it up.....fuzzball) I will cry especially if I've just had a Star Wars marathon (and no not because I'm crying of happiness because it's over). There's just something about Anakin's children reedeeming him from the dark side that's so compelling. I'll go into my Star Wars mania in some other post. Back to the subject on hand.

About once a year, my mother and my 2 sisters and I will sit down and watch The Joy Luck Club together. This movie is based on the wonderful novel by Amy Tan. It tells the stories of 4 women who immigrated to the US from China and also the stories of their American born daughters. This movie has particulary a strong force in my family as both of my parents are immigrants and my mother especially is Chinese. Therefore whenever we watch this movie, it's like watching a part of us.

My favorite scene in the movie is the scene with Waverly bringing home her boyfriend to meet the family and how the cultures clash. We made our boyfriends (who are all white) watch that scene especially so they know how to act. Luckily for us my mother is not as strict as the mothers are in the movie. The scenes that always make us cry are the scenes with Waverly and her mom and June and her mom. I don't know if most kids go through the same experiences as they did but for us, it was like someone had put a camera in our living room and taped us. From the conversation of dying hair to the dress young June wears while playing the piano, those scenes are straight out of our lives and therefore very touching and personal.

I know that many people have seen this movie and liked it but there are others who say they don't like it because they don't understand why the characters acted or did things the way they did. The first few times I watched it, I myself didn't and had to have my mother explain the Chinese customs. Therefore I definately recommmend watching this movie with someone who is familiar with the Chinese culture to help you fully enjoy the movie.

And yes this is definately a chick flick. It is also great to see a movie that actually uses Asian actresses, GOOD ones too. I always associate Ming-Na with this movie even though she's been in ER and of course is Mulan! And Lauren Tom was on Friends as Julie.

This movie is very typical of Asian American families espcially if you are the first born of immigrants. Recommended for all mothers and daughters to watch. Bring tissues. Lots.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Violette Between by Alison Strobel


It's that time of the week! Time to do a blog tour! This week's tour is Violette Between.

Between Here and the PAST,

THERE LIES A PLACE...
a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alison Strobel graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.

Violette Between is a poignant story of a true artist. When the love of Violette's life, Saul suddenly died, she died too. Then she meets Christian, who also is morning the loss of a loved one.

As Violette and Christian begin to feel something that they both thought was impossible. Tragedy strikes again. Christian finds Violette on the floor of his waiting room, that she had been painting to look like a New York rooftop restaurant.

As Christian holds a vigil at her bedside, begging her to come back to him, Violette is in a coma, traveling to a place where she meets her beloved Saul. And she finds that she may not want to come back!

What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

Violette Between is a powerful character study of a woman finally relinquishing the past to move on, only to be thrust into the quandry of reliving that life and needing to make a choice.

For Christians, this will definitely make you think about heaven and the consequences of eternal life.

"Delving into the underside of complicated relationships, Alison Strobel takes readers to unexpected places, but doesn't hesitate to deliver redemptiom when needed."
---Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice

Monday, October 09, 2006

Book Winners

The winners of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett are

Erin and Jason.

Congrats!

Look forward to maybe another giveway in the future. Keep checking!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Book Review: "The Potluck Club" by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson



Don't forget to enter to win the contest for Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. Leave a comment with an email address at the CFBA post or the FIRST post by Sunday night and I'll announce the winners on Monday, October 9. Good luck!

Books about food are always good

I've always been the type of person that enjoys a good book when eating. Somehow reading a book about food always makes the meal tastier even if what I'm reading isn't what I'm eating. "The Potluck Club" is another one of those great eating/reading books. It even comes complete with recipes from the dishes mentioned in the story in case you get a hankering for beef brisket, cinnamon rolls or broccoli casserole. I really enjoyed this book. It gave the story from many different angles, with the characters all have different personalities. The premise of the story deals with a group of women meeting together for prayer and potluck. The women are real, experiencing funny and heartbreaking events together. Each character has a background story that they try to keep secret from the others. I am very glad that the book did not fault Goldie for her decision in her situation with her husband. Other books would have let the matter slide by or have Goldie give in. My favorite scene in the book dealt with a certain bear and a chocolate cake. I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard. (Of course if I had been in that situation I wouldn't be.)

My only complaint was the character of Clay. I'm not sure why his viewpoint is in the story. I understand he's a newspaper journalist trying to get a story for the paper, but he just came across as annoying, nosy, and stalkerish. I also hope the conflict with Lisa Leann and Evangeline is either resolved or more fleshed out. This is a good book for women, perfect for a book club to read and discuss over a potluck! and yes! the library just got book 2 in.

The Potluck Club by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson is published by Revell (2005)

Movie Review: Macgyver The Complete Fifth Season



so i don't think there's anyone in this country (and apparently large parts of SE Asia) who doesn't know who Macgyver is. I mean everyone knows that to stop a bomb all you need is gum, a paperclip and a rubberband. Locked in room with a burning fire? Toothpaste and a knitting needles will put it out AND open the door. A sewage plant is overspilling? Acid in a chocolate bar will plug that leak right up. (ok so the first two i made up, but the third one was definately in the show).

I was too young to watch Macgyver in its original run, but thanks to TV on DVD and the library, I've been able to enjoy the first five season almost every night with my parents. See my dad's an engineer, and engineers are crazy over Macgyver. When I took my Engineering Fundamentals class first year we had a Macgyver box where we could only use those items to build things. But again i digress....(and am no longer an engineering major)

The first four seasons are great. Fun, inventive, and yes sometimes cheesy. The fifth season starts off with Macgyver having to find the holy grail. Now it was a fun episode, with an especially nervous, tense, stomach sucking in scene involving an inquistion torture device, but I couldn't help wondering, where would this story fit in with the Da Vinci Code? The rest of the season is like that. Fun, clean excitement that lets you use your brain. My two favorite episodes dealt with the Tiannamen Square situation in China and an episode that involved Macgyver having a dream he's in the west with all his friends (including a young Teri Hatcher and Bruce McGill, who looks just like my pastor) and enemies (and Cuba Gooding Jr!) The only episodes I never really like are the "social situation" episodes because they dont' have many Macgyver-isms. I mean that's why the show was popular and to not have them makes the episode boring.

But what REALLY stands out about this season is the...MULLET! My gosh it was so long that it was distracting. IF he had kept it tied up, it wouldn't be a problem. But it was just hanging there... Interestingly, no one else in the whole season had a mullet. I know it was the "fashion" of the time, but it just looks so funny in today's age. Good news, I currently am looking at the case of season six and it appears that he cut it..so here's hoping.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dark Hour Blog Tour and CONTEST x 2!!!!


It is time for another Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Tour! This week's feature author is GINGER GARRETT and her novel, Dark Hour!

Guess what? The publicists for Ginger have agreed to a book contest for each CFBA member's blog post on Dark Hour! It is up to the member on how they judge which commenter wins the free book...so, comment and you might become a winner!

Yes so this means, I'll be giving away TWO! copies of this book. Leave a comment with your email address on either this post or the FIRST post and I'll pick two names at random and announce the winners on Monday, Oct. 9. Good luck!


Monday, October 02, 2006

Movie Review: Little House on the Prairie Season One


Don't forget to enter the contest for Dark Hour. Post a comment on the blog post above. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday.


(ok so technically this is a TV on DVD review and not an actually movie but this WAS the latest DVD that i've watched)

I grew up reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read the whole series about once every two years. And reading the cookbook is the best book to read while eating. So people find it hard to believe that I never watched the TV series growing up. (or at least the reruns since the show ended right before I was born). Now I've gotten the chance to since the libraries around here have the complete series on DVD.

My first reaction to watching season one was, why does Pa not have a beard???? Pa's beard in the book is essential to his character, and Michael Landon is completely clean-shaven. Not even scruff! I mean you think about how hard it would have been back then to shave every morning and what a hassle it would have been. It would be one thing for Mr. Oleson who lived in the store and be higher class than the Ingalls family to be clean-shaven. But for Pa to not have a beard. And why was Jack not a brindle bulldog? And small nitpicking on the package: why is Mr. Edwards portrayed on the disc on the package but on the actual disc is Ernest Borgoine as the angel Jonathan?

Anywho, aside from all that I really enjoyed the show. I've always loved prairie stories and these fit right into that category. For the most part, they actually do follow some storylines with the book. The characters are not cheesy and there are funny situations in the episodes. Mrs. Oleson and Nellie are *bleh* but that's how their characters are written up to be. I like Melissa Gilbert as Laura, I think she fits her perfectly. Ma and Pa seem very natural. I liked how they ate popcorn in bed. And I absolutely loved when Anne Archer guest starred as Kate Thorvald in the episode where she is engaged to the doctor. I loved the way she wore her hair. I realize that it's probably extensions but it looked so elegant. Maybe I'll put my hair like that for my wedding one day. *shrugs*

Little House season One is perfect for family viewing. Nothing objectionable at all unless you don't like good clean family fun. Now I must patiently wait for season 2 to be returned so I can watch.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dark Hour by Ginger Grant and CONTEST!

Leave a comment in today's blog to enter to win a copy of this book! Please leave an email address where I can contact you. I'll pick a name at random and post the winner on Monday, October 9. Good luck!


It is October 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

GINGER GARRETT

About the author:

Ginger Garrett is an acclaimed novelist and expert in ancient women's history.

Her first novel, Chosen, was recognized as one of the best five novels of the year by the Christian publishing industry. Ginger enjoys a diverse reader base and creates conversation between cultures.

In addition to her 2006 and 2007 novels about the most evil women in biblical history, she will release Beauty Secrets of the Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) in Summer 2007.

Ginger Garrett's Dark Hour delves into the biblical account of Jezebel's daughter and her attempt to end the line of David.

And now, a special Q&A with Ginger Garrett:

1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.

I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.

Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel--a real woman in history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people, and destroy all hope for a Messiah.

One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.

2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?

The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.

3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?

Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.

4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?

I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.

5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?

They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh!

Without further ado...here is the FIRST chapter of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. Judge for yourself if you'd like to read more!

(There is a prologue before chapter one regarding the birth of Jehoshebeth... Athaliah is not Jehoshebeth's biological mother.)

c h a p t e r O n e

Fifteen Years Later

HER BARU, the priest of divination, opened the goatskin bag and spread the wet liver along the floor, leaving a path of blood as he worked. Retrieving a wooden board and pegs from his other satchel, the satchel that held the knives and charms, he placed pegs in the board according to where the liver was marked by fat and disease. He turned the black liver over, revealing a ragged abscess.

Athaliah covered her mouth and nose with her hands to ward off the smell but would not turn way.

“Worms,” her sorcerer said, not looking up. He placed more pegs in the board before he stopped, and his breath caught.

A freezing wind touched them, though they were in the heart of the palace in the heat of the afternoon. Athaliah cursed this cold thing that had found her again and watched the sorcerer search for the source of the chill before he returned to the divination. There was no source of wind here; in her chamber there was a bed, the table where her servants applied her cosmetics from ornate and lovely jars shaped like animals, a limestone toilet, and in the farthest corner so that no one at the chamber door would see it, her shrine. Statues of Baal, the storm god, and the great goddess Asherah, who called all life into being, stood among the panting lions carved from ivory and the oil lamps that burned at all hours. Here she placed her offerings of incense and oil, and here she whispered to the icy thing as it worshiped alongside her.

The baru watched as the flames in the shrine swayed, the chill moving among the gods. The flames stayed at an angle until one began to burn the face of Asherah. Her painted face began to melt, first her eyes running black and then her mouth flowing red. He gasped and stood.

“I must return to the city.”

Athaliah stood, blocking him from his satchel.

“What does the liver say?”

“It is not good that I have come. We will work another day.”

She did not move. He glanced at the door. Guards with sharp swords were posted outside.

“A dead king still rules here. You set yourself against him
and are damned.”

Athaliah sighed. “You speak of David.”

The baru nodded and bent closer so no other thing would hear his whisper. “There is a prophecy about him, that one from the house of David will always reign in Judah. His light will never die.”

“I fear no man, dead or living.”

The baru continued to whisper, fear pushing into his eyes, making them wide. “It is not the man you must fear. It is his God.”

Athaliah bit her lip and considered his words. She wished he didn’t tremble. It was such a burden to comfort a man.

“Yes, this God. It is this God who troubles us. Perhaps I can make an offering to Him. You must instruct me. Stay, my friend, stay.” She patted him on the arm, detesting his clammy flesh. “I have dreamed,” she confessed. “I have a message from this God, and I must know how to answer Him.”

The baru took a step back, shaking his head. “What is this dream?”

“A man,” Athaliah said.

“Tell me.”

“At night, when I sleep and the moon blankets my chamber, I see a man. He is not as we are: he is coarse and wild. He wears skins hewn from savage beasts, run round his waist with careless thought, and in his mind he is always running, ax in hand, running. I feel his thoughts, his mind churning with unrest, and he knows mine completely. I hear a burning whisper from heaven and shut up my ears, but he turns to the sound. A great hand touches him, sealing him for what lies ahead, and speaks a name I cannot hear, a calling to one yet to be. I try to strike this man, but all goes red, blankets of red washing down.”

She licked her lips and waited, breathing hard. The baru nodded.

“You see the prophet of Yahweh, Elijah, who plagues your mother.”

The baru began to reach for his goatskin sack. He picked up the liver and put it in the sack, keeping an eye on the door as he wiped his bloody hand on his robes. She knew he was measuring his steps in his mind, thinking only of freedom from here, and from her.

Athaliah grabbed his arm. “I let those who worship Yahweh
live in peace. They mean nothing to me; what is one God in a
land of so many? Why would this God send a man to make war
on my mother and then claim me also?”

The baru narrowed his eyes. “This God is not like the others.”

“How can we be free of Him?”

The baru thought for a moment then reached into his satchel. He pulled out a handful of teeth and tossed them on the ground at her feet. She did not move.

He squatted and read them, probing them with a shaking finger. She watched as the hair along his neck rose, and goose bumps popped all along his skin. The cold thing had wrapped itself tightly around him. She could see his breath.

“There is a child,” he said. “The eye of Yahweh is upon this child, always. I must counsel you to find this child and kill it, for when it is gone, Yahweh would trouble you no more.”

Athaliah murmured and ran her teeth over her lips, biting and dragging the skin as her thoughts worked back in time. “It is my daughter you speak of. Only a girl. But even so, I cannot kill her yet. I would lose my rights as the most favored wife. I will not risk my crown for so small a prize. No, I will find another way to get rid of her, and I will deal with this threat from Yahweh as I must.”

Athaliah walked to her shrine and cleaned the face of Asherah. She could hear the baru scooping the teeth back into the bag. She turned with a sly smile, pleased that her mind worked so quickly even with the cold thing so near.

“My mother has already angered this God. We will let her have our problem. She has a talent for these things.”

He had finished putting everything back into his two sacks and edged toward the door. She wondered if he would return. He was the best she had at divining dreams and saw in the liver so many answers. She sighed and tried to think of a word to reassure him.

“A farmer may own the field,” she began, “but much work is done before a harvest is even planted. Stones are removed, weeds are torn free. We must break loose the soil and uproot our enemies so the field will be ready. On that day I will sow richly.”

He managed a weak smile.

“Let your appetite grow, my friend,” she coaxed. “The harvest is coming.”

He fled so quickly she knew her words had been wasted, as all words were on frightened men. He would never return.

***

PRINCE JEHORAM nursed a silver bowl of dark wine and wished the business of inheriting a kingdom did not involve so much listening. He rubbed his beard, its thick clinging brown curls now flecked with gray. His beard was weathering his age better than the hair on his head, he realized, which had already surrendered to the assault of time, great gray streaks overtaking the brown. He knew his face was kind, though, not hardened or roughened by his years, but retaining a boyish appeal in his wry mouth and a small scar just under his left eye. Any woman could look upon him and see the child of mischief he once was. All women looked upon him and still thought to correct him.

He dined in a dim, private room with his advisers. The room was adjacent to the throne room, where he would one day rule, and was bare, save for an oil lamp on a low table. Cedar beams topped the limestone walls, giving the palace a sweet, smoky scent under the afternoon sun. The men sat around the table, scattered with maps, sharing a lunch of grapes, bread, wine, and cheese. Normally they would eat more, and in the dining hall, but the kitchen servants were busy preparing for the great send-off feast and it was easier to be served here.

Tomorrow, his father, King Jehoshaphat, would lead Judah’s army north toward Israel and King Ahab. Together, the two kingdoms would fight their inconstant friend Ben-Hadad to end his trade monopolies. Ben-Hadad fought alongside them against the cruel Assyrians but turned often and claimed the richest of trade cities for himself.

“There are implications, my prince,” Ethan said. Ethan was the tallest, and his skin turned red when he was angry, which was often. His temper had plagued him since he and the prince were boys, but now Jehoram no longer found pleasure in goading his friend. “If the kings succeed at Ramoth-Gilead against Ben-Hadad,” Ethan continued, “and the proposed alliance is
accepted, your father will have obligations both to the north and south. In this way, Ahab’s kingdom will be strengthened by this victory, and your own kingdom will be compromised. Judah may weaken and fall at last to a king of Israel.”

“I have married the daughter of Ahab,” Jehoram replied. “I have given their daughter an heir and promised her the crown. I have curried the favor of the north well enough. They will not turn on me, for their own daughter is at my side.” He tried to entertain himself with the food and wine while his advisers prattled on. He wondered what would be served at the feast tonight. If the servants’ exhausted expressions were any indication, the spread would be remarkable.

“That is true, my friend,” Ethan said. “But you are wrong to think this is Ahab’s war. It is a woman who is shaping this new world. Think on this: What does the powerful Jezebel desire more than to bring glory to her own name? She wants the north and south reunited so that she may one day rule them both, a queen equal in power to Solomon.”

Ethan smirked as he continued. “Everyone knows Ahab wears the crown but Jezebel rules. With Ahab and Jehoshaphat together in battle, their voices silenced for a time, Jezebel will be listening for yours. Let her know a lion roars in Judah. We will never be ruled by a woman, especially one who hides behind her husband’s crown.”

Jehoram listened, running his tongue across his lips, catching a spot of wine resting just above his lip. Ethan was his truest friend, if a man about to wear the crown had one, but he was always ready for a fight. Jehoram preferred to suffer a blow and stay with his women and wine. He sighed. “Ethan, you look into darkness and see monsters, but I see only shadows. It has always been this way.”

Ethan frowned. “We are no longer children hunting with our fathers at night. Listen to me, for I am the voice of God in your ear.”

Jehoram turned his face away and crossed his arms. Then he sighed and reached for a bowl of grapes and began to eat. He did not like an empty stomach.

Another adviser bit into some cheese and leaned in. “Mighty Ethan is right. Jezebel wants to see you on the throne because of your union with her daughter Athaliah, but she is no ally. Listen to what I tell you: Something evil here stirs the water and watches.”

“These voices of doom!” Jehoram yelled, slapping his bowl down on the table so that it spilled. “These voices and whispers, will they not cease?” He gripped his head and glared at the men. Each had but one wife and thought to advise him on his many? “You warn me against women, even my own wife, but they are women and nothing more!”

Ethan scooted closer to him. “Do not play the fool. Athaliah practices her strange magic and you slip under her spell little by little. There is still time to save yourself, and the kingdom, if you are indeed a man and king.”

Jehoram rose and adjusted his robe around his shoulders, staring down at Ethan.

“Do even my friends turn against me now?” he asked.

“I have always been like a brother to you. I desire nothing but your good,” Ethan said, rising. Jehoram held his temper and the two men glared at each other, breathing hard.

The adviser Ornat spoke. “May I address the future king of Judah?”

Jehoram nodded and sat, returning to his grapes. He glanced at Ethan and shook his head.

Ornat was new to his inner circle, an adviser Athaliah had recommended for his influence among the people who did not worship the God of Judah. She promised his voice would balance the harsh messages the others always gave. He had long, straight gray hair that always hung as if he had just come in from the rain. A magnificent bump crowned his nose, but it was the only remarkable feature about the man, a man who looked as if he were melting before their eyes.

“Good Jehoram,” Ornat began, “the king knows you are a son who is not like the father. King Jehoshaphat has conspired with your brothers to ensure you never take the throne. They plot behind closed doors, taking their meals without you. I have heard the plans from my spies among the servants.”

Jehoram felt his stomach churn at the accusation. He would not allow such ridiculous talk and raised his hand to dismiss the man at once.

The arrival of Athaliah interrupted them, and all bowed as she entered.

“Jehoram, I seek your face with a burden on my heart. Hear me and help me, my lord and husband,” she said.

Jehoram looked at her a moment, his eyes having trouble adjusting to the light that streamed in when the door had opened. She stirred something in him, as she had from her first night in the palace, rain-soaked and announced by thunder, her sheer robes clinging to her tiny frame. She came bearing boxes of shrines and gods, like the dolls of a child, and she clung to them even in their bedchamber. She was the only wife who did not submit to his will, and he had found her exotic. Now she had grown, but his exotic pet was still wild, shaking off the customs and manners he tried to teach her. He knew she hungered, but not for him. His face burned with shame.

“Speak, Athaliah,” he said.

“Your daughter has grown quite pale of late. I have seen this sickness before.”

Jehoram sat up straight. Sickness in the palace would spread
rapidly, a threat as swift and fierce as any Assyrian.

“What sickness?” he demanded.

Athaliah smiled at him, then at the men reclining.

“Of course you do not understand,” she said. “You are men. You have tended your kingdom well but neglected to see that your daughter has come of age.”

Jehoram exhaled and sat back, an indulgent smile on his lips.

“And what remedy does this sickness crave?” he asked.

Athaliah bowed before Jehoram. “She must marry, my lord.”

Jehoram waved his hand, a broad gesture. Here he could be master.

“I command, then, that she be married. If there is a commander well thought of, it would be an honor to give a daughter in marriage just before a battle.”

Athaliah nodded, just once. He felt his victory slipping away.

“I have sent word to the north,” Athaliah said, “to my mother’s house, that a nobleman from my own home who serves in the ivory palace of my mother be given her. King Ahab has sent you his favorite daughter.” She smiled. “Now let us send ours to him. It will be good for Jehoshebeth to hold your name ever before my father, Ahab. And Jezebel would relish a granddaughter so near.”

Jehoram stopped and frowned. “It is Jehoshebeth you speak of? She is a special child to me. I would not have her sent north.”

“But you have given the order that she be married. There is no one else worthy of her,” Athaliah said.

Jehoram rubbed his chin and pretended to study a map. Finally, he shook his head. “I must think on this.”

Athaliah bowed low, her eyes closed. “May the God you serve bless all your decisions, good Jehoram,” she said. She straightened and looked at the advisers. Jehoram could not bear to see their eyes upon his bride, the only territory he owned and could not rule. He detected secrets moving between her and Ornat like a sudden spring bubbling up from a dark source. Only a few found it distasteful and turned away. Ethan was the first to scowl and return his glance to the prince.

“I will see you all at the feast tonight,” Athaliah said as she left.
She wagged a finger at Ornat. “Take care of my good husband.”

Jehoram slouched in his seat and returned to his grapes.