Monday, April 30, 2007
To Catch a Husband
Essie is determined not to become the town spinster. She's made a list of all the eligible men in her town and is set on becoming the Mrs. of one of them. But Essie is not your normal stay at home woman, she's a tomboy who loves riding her bike, picking up snakes, and wearing outlandish hats. The town doesn't know what to do with her. With each prospective husband that Essie meets, she gets into all sorts of adventures. Will Essie get her man or is there something more important than marriage for her?
This was my first Deeanne Gist book that I have read. I have A Bride Most Begrudging sitting on my shelf but I haven't gotten around to it. But now I definitely will have to make room for it in my TBR pile. First things first, this was one of the edgiest Christian fiction books I have ever read. Most other stories just hint about sex but never really talk about it. Wow this one nearly made me blush while reading certain scenes! Of course they are still very tame, but quite risqué compared to other CBA books that are out there. I did like Essie very much. I felt her pain and frustration about not being able to find a husband. She sounds like though that she would be a really great friend to have. She'd be a perfect chick-lit character if placed in a modern setting. I love reading about independent women and Essie definitely was one, with her bike riding and snake handling. I like the characters from the town as they made the story more lively. But oh, how I hate gossipy, jealous, bitter women. They seem to want to make everyone's life miserable. When I got to the ending, I was happy with it because of the way the rest of the story lead up to it. But I do hope very much to read the sequel to this book for more Essie adventures. I cannot wait but until then I'm going back to read Deeanne's other two books. Excellent, unusual romantic story with a spunky heroine.
Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist is published by Bethany House (2007)
Friday, April 27, 2007
After finally getting over being left at the alter Jo has decided to move on by joining a blind dating service. Her first date isn't at all what she expected him to be and then even worse: he dies during their date! Suddenly Jo finds that she's the target of kidnapping, stalking, and death threats. She has no idea why but clues seem to lead back to her deceased date. Along with best friend Danny (who is now hopelessly in love with Jo) the two set out to find out why Jo is being victimized.
Once again Mindy Starns Clark has written a winner. I absolutely adore Jo, she is one of the best recent female characters I have read. Just like in Trouble With Tulip, you can find household hints sprinkled throughout the book (now in email format!) and which also help to solve the mystery. I'm really glad that Danny was able to talk to Jo, now the ball's in her court. It'll be interesting to see how all that happens. I found the blind dating service to be very interesting since I have never used one before. I was really chilled and frightened while reading this book. Especially near the end, I couldn't put the book down because I feared so much for Jo. It was totally like watching a movie: mystery, action, romance, suspense, drama, characters you hate- such a well developed story line. Actually I really think they should make this series into a TV show, you could learn household tips and be entertained at the same time. Sort of Heloise meets Alias type of deal. This was such an excellent book, I thought it was even better than the first one in the series. And with the cliffhanger at the end of this book, I can't wait to get started on the third which is in my TBR pile. VERY highly recommended.
Blind Dates Can Be Murder by Mindy Starns Clark is published by Harvest House (2006)
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and former independent bookstore owner in Blacksburg, Virginia. This is his first novel.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Is There Any Escape for The Heir?
Jason Boyer Just Got an Inheritance to Die For
The fortune wasn't supposed to befall him. Jason Boyer had known all along his father's business empire would pass to different hands. Which suited him just fine. The money was crooked and the power corrupt. But when an accident claims the old man's life, everyone is stunned by the unveiling of the will. With the passing of the Boyer crown, power-hungry politicians and shady business partners all try to force Boyer's hand. Fighting the temptation of influence and riches, he simply wants to be a better man than his father--but attempting to stand for what’s right soon brings murderous consequences. As those closest to him are endangered--and news emerges that his father's accident may be something more sinister--Boyer finds himself fighting for his soul…and his life!
All the money he could ever crave. In the splintering crash of a car plunging through a railing, Jason Boyer's life is changed. All the fame he could ever desire. But the last thing he wanted was the throne of his father's corrupt business empire. All the power he could ever wield.
The estate should have gone elsewhere, but the will was changed. And now everything is Jason's. But gaining the whole world just might cost him his life.
THE HEIR is a Gresham-like tale of intrigue and murder with a lot of humor and well-drawn minor characters.
"In THE HEIR, Paul Robertson serves up politics, privilege, and murder with a side of acerbic wit. What a fabulous book--a great mix of angst, humor, and ultimately, hope."
T.L.HINES--author of Waking Lazarus and The Dead Whisper On
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
Personally I found Amanda and Graham's story to be boring. Their relationship was based purely on sex which is NOT how it should be. They keep secrets from each other, having nothing in common, and do nothing BUT have sex. Except for the scenes involving Graham's daughters, which I did find touching, I wanted to fast forward through their story. I never connected with the couple and I did not buy the whole never crying bit. I also felt that Amanda never grew as a character. She was pretty much Cameron Diaz acting as Cameron Diaz and Jude Law is playing himself. No surprises there.
On the other hand, I absolutely loved Iris and Miles. Kate Winslet is absolutely perfect as someone who keeps going back to an addictive ex. Her story was so totally relatable I felt like it was my own. I loved her reaction when she reached Amanda's house. I loved her relationship with Arthur, it was really sweet and funny. I find it interesting that Iris visits for two weeks and forms a lifelong connection with him, yet Amanda has lived there forever and never mentions him once. Jack Black is absolutely adorable in this movie, he toned himself down, you can definitely see the chemistry between Iris and Miles. I would SO pick him over Graham any day. Him and Kate Winslet are just so cute together and their relationship is totally innocent. Very refreshing as compared to Graham and Amanda.
I also loved the two scenes where Iris talks about relationships with Miles and then with Jasper. The scene with Miles has one of the best lines I have heard about what it feels to have your heart broken:
"I understand feeling as small and as insignificant as humanly possible. And how it can actually ache in places you didn't know you had inside you. And it doesn't matter how many new haircuts you get, or gyms you join, or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends... you still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong or how you could have misunderstood. And how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy. And sometimes you can even convince yourself that he'll see the light and show up at your door. And after all that, however long all that may be, you'll go somewhere new. And you'll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade."It's so true!!!! You think it's the worst thing in the world and you hurt so much, but then you learn to move on and it all goes away. Also Iris's tirade to Jasper was SPOT ON as well. I know what it feels like to be in that sort of toxic relationship. I cheered her speech.
I loved the scene in the blockbuster, when Miles is recommending The Graduate and then the camera cuts to Dustin Hoffman. It's a "What the?" moment, totally unexpected but wonderfully done. Also wanted to mention, that the trailer that Amanda made was horrible. I would NOT want to see that movie in the theater after seeing that trailer. All in all, I really enjoyed this movie. Well more, Kate than Cameron, but very enjoyable chick lit movie.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
In 1997, Annette was working as a home health nurse. She traveled the back roads from house to house, caring for ill and injured, homebound people. Because of her unique position in the lives of relative strangers, she often found herself bearing solitary witness to intimate behind-the-scenes situations full of grace and meaning. The desire to honor both a particular patient and a poignant scene involving the woman and her husband prompted Annette to write a fictionalized story, The Anniversary.
That first story appeared as a column in the Houston Chronicle newspaper and as an essay in Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Later it became a chapter in Annette’s first and best-selling book of short stories, The Whispers of Angels, that has sold more than 100,000 copies
Since then, Annette has penned four more books of stories, two volumes on parenting, and the Coming Home to Ruby Prairie trilogy.
Annette and her husband Randy, a High School teacher and coach, make their home on a wooded lot in Quitman, Texas. They are the parents of two young adult children, Russell and Rachel, both out on their own. Wally, a grateful, rescued mutt provides warmth and entertainment and keeps the Smith’s empty nest from feeling too lonely.
In addition to writing, Annette continues to serve part-time as a registered nurse. She finds the people she works with and the patients she cares for provide great inspiration for her fiction.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Joel Carpenter did not plan for his life to turn out like this. He never meant to be a single dad, working at a hair salon in Eden Plain, Texas. But after making a careless choice four years ago, his marriage was permanently shattered. Now at twenty-seven, he finds himself juggling custody of his preschool son with Kari, the ex-wife he still loves, and sharing Sunday dinners with a group of other single dads.
Joel regrets the choices that brought him to this place, but it's not until the worst happens that he learns how much he still has to give. In the midst of deep tragedy, he learns that forgiveness is way more important than freedom. Hopefully it's not too late!
A BIGGER LIFE is a story of love in the midst of heartache, and friendship in the midst of real, everyday life.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Wild Wild West
Jori Hayden's family has lived a comfortable lifestyle. She herself is pretty much a Daddy's girl, getting everything she's wanted. But then due to an economic depression, her father loses all his money forcing the family to have to move out west. To find their way on the Santa Fe Trail, the family must have a guide. Jori finds one in Chad Rocklin, a prisoner she bails out of jail. The two clash over everything but the Haydens must listen to him if they want to survive in the harsh conditions of the road West.
As much as I enjoyed this book, why do I feel deja vu when reading it? Is it because I've read this plot in several of Gilbert Morris's other books? I guess after over 200 books things start to blend together. I am 100% certain there have been characters named either Praise God or Revelation that go around asking people if they are believers in Jesus in other Morris books. And I know that the story about the guy who can't read, the woman teaches him, they end up getting married was used in book 6 of the House of Winslow series. I guess to a new reader of Morris this is not a big deal. I did enjoy this book very much, as I have his others. Once again there is a lot of historical fact researched for the story. I do enjoy learning while reading and since I enjoy American history, Morris' books are usually spot on about facts. I like mixing real events and people with fictional characters to show what could have happened, and it also gives a new way to look at history. I just felt the characters in this book were rather one dimensional and predictable. If you want a historical western story, this is a good book. However I would recommend Morris' Cheney Duvall series or the Appomattox Saga if you haven't read any of his books before.
Santa Fe Woman by Gilbert Morris is published by B&H Publishing (2006)
Saturday, April 14, 2007
- Title: Promises
- Author: Peggy Darty
- Copyright: 1997
- How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile? About a month
- What made you buy/borrow the book in the first place? I had also been going through all the Palisades romances at my library and I first discovered Peggy Darty through her first romances. I enjoyed her tremendously and have also read her current cozy mysteries. So I was looking forward to reading her older works as well. I've read her other books and Promises is the 5th Palisades title she wrote.
- What were your thoughts on the story? Now this was a good book. I really enjoyed the writing, the plot, the characters, everything. This isn't just a romance novel, it's a romantic suspense where there is more suspense with just a touch of romance which I prefer. Elizabeth is a strong lead, and Michael finally learns to let her be one. The suspense part of the book is really good, you wouldn't have realized the ending unless you peaked. All the characters are fully developed and not cookie cutter. This is not a romance novel where the female keeps giving into the guy. (off the record but I also hate romance stories when the girl will say something, the guy laughs (meanly) at what she says, and the only comeback the girl can do is just stammer) But back to what I thought about this book. I'll just say I really recommend Peggy Darty's books if you haven't read any of them.
- Now do you wish you read the book sooner? Yes, I wish I had discovered her writing when the books originally came out. Luckily for me there are still two more in this series that she's written.
- Any questions/statements for the author? Excellent writing! I want more!
- Where will the book reside now? Back at the library, but hopefully these books will come out of print so I can buy them!
Friday, April 13, 2007
The best thing about the show is that the chemistry is just terrific. Magnum and Higgins have a love/hate relationship which the two actors portray superbly. (FYI: Did you know that Higgins isn't really British? The actor is from the South!) Higgins wants to keep a British tight ship around the estate while Magnum wants to live a more relaxed lifestyle. The two clash over nearly everything and they do it in such a convincing way. Magnum's relationship with TC and Rick is just as good. He keeps promising he'll pay them back which he never does so the other two always find a way to make him repay him in other ways. Also like in Sex and the City, the location becomes a character in the show. Hawaii is shown to perfection here, from the beaches to the locals, you really want to visit after watching.
This season had some really great episodes ranging from the hysterical to the bizarre to the deadly serious. My favorite episode was the two parter where the four team up to go back to Cambodia to help out a friend who's been kidnapped by the military there. I enjoyed seeing the four be serious for a change and actually team up to work together. A very moving episode that showed Magnum's serious side mixed with his past. The whole season is non stop good stuff with episodes showcasing murders, bank robbers, stolen identities, etc. And the humor in the show is fresh and not dated. TC and Rick give me the biggest laughs, especially TC because he says stuff so dead pan serious at times.
The only thing I find quite disturbing about the show is how SHORT Magnum's shorts are. I mean he's wearing shorts that are shorter than the average pair of boxers! But I got to admit, he has the legs for it. Haha, I know he was a dreamboat back in the day, I'm just not a fan of the mustache. LOL. I could watch this series over and over again. Shows like this makes me wish I had been older in the 80s. There's no sex, little violence, no language just a really good storyline with a cool character. Why can't TV today be like this?
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Don't be skared
Skary, Indiana has one claim to fame: being the home of recluse horror novelist Wolfe Bane. Everywhere you go, you see signs of his writing in the small town, from the local restaurant to the bookstore. Everyone is happy with this arrangement except for the sheriff's daughter, Ainsley, who is disgusted by the way the author (known as Boo) has transformed the town into a tourist trap. Then news comes that Boo has become a Christian and will no longer write horror. What will happen to the town? Is this just another media ploy? The townspeople all try to figure out the real story behind the news, getting everyone into a bunch of adventures that make for a good fun comic read.
I read that this book was described as "The Mitford Series on steroids." I totally have to agree with that description! The characters in this book are really eccentric and quirky. The small town seems to be isolated in their own little world. It's a place where everyone seems to know everyone and their business. I really liked Wolfe's character. He struck me as being the only normal person in the entire town. I really liked how persistent he was in discovering more about what it meant to become a Christian even though everyone around him was discouraging him. The story really struck me how Christians can be very snobby about their faith. Like Ainsley, they claim that want others to believe in Jesus but when someone actually does, they won't believe them. I've seen many people like Ainsley who doubt people's faith. Even worse, were the characters that tried to make Wolfe STOP being a Christian just for their own profit. I will not lie. Some of the characters in the story drove me absolutely crazy and I wanted to scream at them! And especially after what they did to Wolfe near the end of the story. Tsk. I did enjoy this book though very much. It was a funny, tongue in cheek look at the way we view hypocrisy. It's fast enjoyable read, a good intro if you haven't read any of Rene's books before.
Boo by Rene Gutteridge is published by Waterbrook (2003)
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Brandilyn Collins' is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Web Of Lies, Dead of Night, Stain of Guilt, Brink of Death, and Eyes of Elisha just to name a few.
Brandilyn and her family divide their time between the California Bay Area and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
She also maintains an informative blog called Forensics and Faith where she daily dispenses wisdom on writing, life, and the Christian book industry.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The figure remained still as stone. Leslie couldn't even detect a breath.
Spider fingers teased the back of her neck.
Leslie's feet rooted to the pavement. She dropped her gaze to the driveway, seeking...what? Spatters of blood? Footprints? She saw nothing. Honed through her recent coverage of crime scene evidence, the testimony as last month's trial, the reporter in Leslie spewed warnings: Notice everything, touch nothing...
Presently this Kanner Lake Series of books has its own character blog called Scenes and Beans . Stop by and visit the folks from Kanner Lake!
Leslie Brymes hurries out to her car on a typical workday morning...and discovers a dead body inside.
Why was the corpse left for her to find? And what is the meaning of the message pinned to its chest?
In Coral Moon, the senseless murder of a beloved Kanner Lake citizen spirals the small Idaho town into a terrifying glimpse of spiritual forces beyond our world. What appears true seems impossible.
OR IS IT?
And as Brandilyn would say...
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Deena at A Peek at My Bookshelf has recently posted her 100th blog post! In honor that she's listed doing a book meme
"I'm listing 100 books I've read. Once you've read my list, copy it, and then highlight the books you've read, underline the books you've heard of but haven't read"so here's my answers:
1. The Bible, by God
2. The Secret Life of Becky Miller, by Sharon Hinck
3. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein
4. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
5. Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
6. My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
7. Murder of a Sweet Old Lady, by Denise Swanson
8. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke
10. Loves Music, Loves To Dance by Mary Higgins Clark
11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling
12. The Negotiator, by Dee Henderson
13. The Guy I'm Not Dating, by Trish Perry
14. Lost in NashVegas, by Rachel Hauck
15. Heaven, by Randy Alcorn
16. Believing God, by Beth Moore
17. Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Meyer
18. Simply Jesus, by Joseph Stowell
19. Just As I Am, by Billy Graham
20. Just As I Am, by David Ring
21. Let's Roll, by Lisa Beamer
22. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, by Lilian Jackson Braun
23. The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges
24. Jack Bauer's Having A Real Bad Day, by Tim Wesemann
25. My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers
26. Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Montgomery
27. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
29. Sophie's Heart, by Lori Wick
30. Hitched, by Carol Higgins Clark
31. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
32. The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis
33. The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkein
34. Eragon, by Christopher Paolini
35. Stealing Adda, by Tamara Leigh
36. Get Out of That Pit, by Beth Moore
37. Relentless, by Robin Parrish
38. The Heart Reader, by Terri Blackstock
40. Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom
41. At Home In Mitford, by Jan Karon
42. Renovating Becky Miller, by Sharon Hinck
43. Desiring God, by John Piper
44. The Last Sin Eater, by Francine Rivers
45. Love Comes Softly, by Janette Oke
46. This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti
47. Black, by Tedd Dekker
48. Comes A Horseman, by Robert Liparulo
49. The Yada Yada Prayer Group, by Neta Jackson
50. Breaking Free, by Beth Moore
51. The Friendships of Women, by Dee Brestin
52. Having A Mary Heart In a Martha World, by Joanna Weaver
53. Legacy of a Packrat, by Ruth
54. Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn
55. Trixie Belden and the Black Jacket Mystery, by Kathryn Kenny
56. Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer
57. The Dead Don't Dance, by Charles Martin
58. Sisterchicks on the Loose, by Robin Jones Gunn
60. Dearest Dorothy, Slow Down!, by Charlene Baumbich
61. Like a Watered Garden, by Patti Hill
62. The Return of the King, by J. R. R. Tolkein
64. Sense & Sensibility, by Jane Austen
65. Left Behind, by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
66. Dark Blue: Color Me Lonely, by Melody Carlson
67. God As He Wants You To See Him, by Chip Ingram
68. Captivating, by Stasi Eldridge
69. Harry Potter and the Order of the
70. Deadline, by Randy Alcorn
71. More Than A Carpenter, by Josh McDowell
72. Traveling Light, by Max Lucado
73. Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On, by Stormie O'Martian
74. The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren
75. Prayer, by Philip Yancey
76. Why The Sky Is Blue, by
77. The Grace Awakening, by Chuck Swindoll
78. Where Does A Mother Go To Resign, by Barbara Johnson
79. Fresh Brewed Life, by Nicole Johnson
80. If You Give A Pig A Pancake, by Laura Numeroff
81. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett
82. Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy
83. What To Expect When You're Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff
84. Flies on the Butter, by Denise Hildreth
85. After Anne, by Roxanne Henke
86. The Oath, by Frank Peretti
87. Hangman's Curse, by Frank Peretti
88. Blink, by Tedd Dekker
89. Danger In the Shadows, by Dee Henderson
90. Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell
91. I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris
93. The English Breakfast Murder, by Laura Childs
94. The Cat Who Talked Turkey, by Lilian Jackson Braun
95. The Applause of Heaven, by Max Lucado
96. Though None Go With Me, by Jerry Jenkins
97. Divine, by Karen Kingsbury
98. The Christmas Shoes, by Donna VanLiere
99. Hazardous Duty, by Christy Barritt
100. Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan
A penny well spent
Callie Webber works for the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation, checking out charities to make sure they are practicing what they preach. If she finds them to be in good standing, she awards them with a check for their hard work. Her boss is a man named Tom, who Callie knows very little about. As she prepares to take a well earned vacation, Tom asks her to do a favor for an old friend of his and check out his charity. Callie obliges and postpones her trip, only to visit the guy and have him turn up dead minutes after she arrives. As a former PI, it's in her nature to find out who the murderer is and also as a favor to Tom. There are many suspects with many motives making this a challenge for Callie while also testing her relationship with Tom.
I had enjoyed Mindy's SmartChick series so I wanted to go back and read the rest of her books. I had heard really good things about this series, and boy I was not not disappointed. This was a top-notch mystery with a strong, hard to put down storyline. I love Callie's character, she is strong and very resourceful. She's good at noticing the tiny details which is probably why she was a PI. The reader also feels for her as she is a young widow after losing her husband only recently. Tom is a mysterious guy and if I had been in Callie's shoes I would have done some inspecting on him! The idea of the company is very cool, giving to those who deserve it but don't ask for it. I also found it very interesting about what was said about the exploiting of sponsoring children. It is true that most people do not find water irrigation very attractive to spend money on, but they will spend money to help a cute kid, so thus pictures of the kid is reused to attract people. So the people's money goes towards water irrigation but they think it's helping the kid. Is it deceiving for companies to do this, especially if they are Christian based? Why do people feel good if they help a kid, but they think it's wasteful to help an entire community? Very good stuff to think about.
Overall this was an excellent mystery story with twists I didn't see coming and likable characters making this book a great start to the series. I'm hooked.
A Penny for Your Thoughts by Mindy Starns Clark is published by Harvest House (2002)
Monday, April 09, 2007
Congrats to Ingrid for winning a copy of Miss Invisible. Stay tuned for more book giveaways in the future!
Rich with detail Frederique Farmer is a widow who lives in France and is the owner of an exclusive bed and breakfast. She is picky about who she chooses to stay there, offering the best service, but keeping her distance from her guests. But then all that changes when an American writer comes to stay longer than Frederique had originally intended. Robert Cromwell begins to chip away at Frederique's shell trying to draw out who she was before her husband died. The 200 year old diary of the former comtesse of the chateau brings in history with a touch of mystery into Frederique's life.
I had read and enjoyed The Cubicle Next Door so I wanted to go back and read the rest of Siri's books. I picked up this one because I love books about France. Something about that country is just so magical to me. The descriptions in this book about the country really make me want to go visit it one day. I liked how this story focused on the quiet countryside as opposed to big city Paris. This book was especially intriguing with the double storyline blending historical fiction with modern storyline. It was reminiscent of Angela Hunt's Heirs of Cahira O'Connor series. I really liked learning about the history of the chateau with Alix's story. Her tale seems so tragic because she was at such a young age when everything happened to her. Frederique's story is interesting and tragic as well. She seems to be such a soft spoken character that likes having everything in place and with a routine. Then this guy comes into her life and makes her want to change. I didn't like Severine from the beginning. Her character felt like she was a good person although the story did keep me wondering what she was up to throughout the whole book. The story does start off a bit slow but once the reader gets deeper into the story, it just flows naturally. This book has it all from mystery to history to romance, a perfect blend of European culture for the reader who likes to travel from their armchair.
Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell is published by NavPress (2005)
Friday, April 06, 2007
All Tied Up in Knots
They're baaaack. The Yada Yadas are having some major troubles happening their group. Ruth is finally having her baby, but her husband wishes it never had happened. Avis's daughter and her abusive husband are shaking things up with Avis's new husband. Chanda wins the lottery and is spending it left and right. Flo's son is ruining their chances of starting a new life in a new house. Nony and Mark are beginning the long hard process of rehab. And then there's Jodi who's watching it all and having her own incidents involving a lemonade stand. One thing's for sure, it's never ever boring with these friends around.
In my opinion, this was my favorite of all the Yada Yada books. By this book, all of the characters have really developed and have been given their own spotlight. These books all show how to trust God in different ways using almost every possible scenario that could exist. I'm amazed at all the adventures that the group has managed to have. Each book outdoes the one before! Jodi is still the main character and once again I found myself echoing her same thoughts about certain events like Chanda's lottery uses and Avis and her daughter. I think the characters have grown, they don't bicker as much, and they don't try to let little conflicts build up walls between them. I really like the house blessings that the group does. I want to have that done when I get my own house next time. I also envy Jodi's kids that they got to go to Cornerstone. I have always wanted to go there. Actually I'm pretty amazed that it was even mentioned, most adults don't really know or like most modern Christian rock bands, so it was really cool to read about the festival. I must also mention that I love the covers of these book. I want all these awesome socks! Once again I highly recommend this series. I am SO looking forward to reading the next book!
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught by Neta Jackson is published by Thomas Nelson (2006)
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Miss Invisible. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday.
Money (That's NOT what i want)
Cassia has always lived a life of frugality. She's learned to live cheaply and not worldly. In fact, money is the last thing on her mind. So it's a shock for her when she finds out that what she thought was a $5 donation for an office present is really her share in a multimillion dollar jackpot lottery ticket. Now she's being bombarded by everyone, those who want her money, to give her advice, even those she barely knows. Plus now she has 2 guys are who are vying for her attention. Cassia wants nothing to do with the money, but it's everywhere she goes. Money's not just the root of all evil, it also makes a normal life practically impossible!
Ok, who hasn't dreamed about winning the lottery? Everyone, no matter what they believe in, has had thoughts about what they would do if they were given a million dollars. How they spend the money may differ, but I'm sure that even the most practical person has some plans for its use. And that is why I found Cassia to be a very unreal character. Frankly she annoyed me quite a bit. I don't mind that she didn't want the money. I just found it annoying the way she kept complaining that she didn't want anything to do with the money, and then she's worried about having to pay rent. She brought up wanting to go back to college but not being able to because she didn't have money. Ok, now she has money but she won't do it because she doesn't want to touch the money. I don't understand why Cassia couldn't save just a little for her future and then give the rest away. She kept acting like it was tainted and evil. I also didn't really like that she kept throwing around Bible verses in normal conversation. If she was my coworker, I would have thought she was either showing off. There's nothing wrong with studying Scripture, but when it's quoted out of context, it's weird. I didn't really feel her relationship with Adam had much chemistry. I liked him, he was a good guy, I just didn't feel that they clicked. I did like Cassia's final decision about what to do with her winnings.
I personally enjoyed The Whitney Chronicles a lot more than this book. Maybe it's because I could relate to the main character in that book as opposed to this one. This book was a light read, but I would recommended TWC or Norah's Ark to a first time Judy Baer reader.
Million Dollar Dilemma by Judy Baer is published by Steeple Hill (2005)
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Miss Invisible. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday.
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tom Morrisey is the author of four previous novels and numerous short stories, a world-renowned adventure-travel writer whose work has appeared in Outside, Sport Diver (where he serves as Executive Editor) and other leading magazines.
He holds an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Toledo and an MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. He lives in Orlando, Florida.
ABOUT THE BOOK:For Patrick Nolan, every climb tells a story. And now maybe it's his own …. He's right at the rim, staring over the cliff's knife edge and wondering how things went wrong so quickly.
It all started after arriving home from a weekend climbing trip with his father, Kevin. That's when word reached them. In a silent moment, they'd lost the person most important to them—her death raising unanswerable questions and dangerous doubts.
Launching a new life in a new town to escape their pain, son and father find themselves in danger of being torn apart forever. As his father seeks a route to solace on the dangerous high face of the rock, Patrick finds a path to hope with the unlikeliest of allies—a pastor's daughter. Together they must discover the one answer that can bring Patrick and Kevin back from the brink of the precipice.
Endorsements: "It is rare to find a 'man's man' who knows the human heart, much less one who can write with such a well-balanced combination of sensitivity and adrenaline-charged adventure."
—Athol Dickson, Christy-Award-winning author of River Rising
"Beautifully exciting, haunting, and satisfying. Morrisey leaves you hanging by your fingertips."
—Lisa Samson, award-winning author of The Church Ladies and Straight Up
"Tom Morrisey is a master wordsmith and an expert at weaving gripping stories. If I pick up a book with his name on it, I know I'm going for gold."
—Angela Hunt, author of Uncharted
Monday, April 02, 2007
One of the best chick lit books EVER!
Freddie is a just your regular almost 30 something woman, who has a job she enjoys, with a boss she hates, trying to find that special guy. Oh and she's also on the bigger side which ironically makes her easy to miss. She's learned to blend in the crowd, pleasing society by eating carrot sticks in public and then going home and downing a pint of ice cream. She's learned to keep her anger inside and stay hidden. Then she meets Deborah, a caterer who gets Freddie to release her true self and become a new person. Once Freddie finds her voice, her life changes- for the better.
Oh I loved loved LOVED this book! The story is excellent, the characters are great, there's so much food in the book! I could really relate to Freddie. I'm not a big girl, but neither am I a size 6 either. I felt the same way she does about how smaller girls always get the attention from society and everyone else gets ignored. And I was really glad that Freddie showed realistic reactions to those girls that wear low cut jeans and belly baring shirts. I loved that there is a character named Deborah in this book. Usually when I read a book where there is a character that shares my name she usually gets it shorten down to Debbie (ugh). Not so here, and what an awesome character Deborah was. I wish I had a friend like her in my life. I really felt for Freddie when her father kept insulting her throughout her life. It really hurt during the party when he did it to her face right in front of everyone. I'm glad that the author did not feel that this book needed to have a tidied ending where Freddie and her father magically get along. I would not have believed it if it was written that way, it would have been completely unrealistic. I just loved how real this book is. Christians do tend to be prejudiced in regards to appearance no matter what they say.
I really loved this book. And I totally did not feel guilty about eating ice cream while reading it either! This is one of the best chick lit books I have ever read, Christian or secular. This is a perfect book to pass along to non Christian readers as well, it's not preachy at all, just a fun good read. If you haven't read any of Laura Jensen Walker's other books, I highly recommend reading those as well. I know I'll be anxiously awaiting her next one!
MIss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker is published by Thomas Nelson (2007)
Sunday, April 01, 2007
It is April 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 his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!
This month's feature is:
and her book:
(NavPress Publishing, 2006)
This month's feature is very special. The author is one of the FIRST Day Blog Alliance Members!!! Click here for her Blogspot! MARY E. DeMUTH has spent the last fifteen years as a writer. Winner of the 2003 Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference's Pacesetter's Award, she now splits her time between writing and planting a new church with her husband, Patrick, and two other families. Wishing on Dandelions is the second book in the Maranatha Series. The first was the critically praised book, Watching the Tree Limbs. She has also written two parenting books. Building the Christian Family You Never Had and a new one called Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture which will release this summer with Harvest House. Mary, Patrick, and their three children make their home in Texas.
I still can’t tell my story up close, like it was me in it,breathing the tangled wisteria on the fence posts of Burl, Texas. There are times I still can’t bear to say it was me. The book of my life continues to open, painful word by painful word, page after page. I get real close to typing the whole story with the word I in it, but I hit delete every time, replacing me with she.
Zady tells me I’m ready to write my story honest, but I’m not so sure. She says she’s there to help me remember my healing,even as she puts an arm around my shoulder when a tear slips through. “It hurts,” she says. “Real bad. Lord, I wish it didn’t rip at you so.”
She tells me I survived that story — that I should be proud — yet her presence brings back its horrid validity written on the backdrop of her tender love. Reminds me in a kind, wild way that this is my story even if I can’t seem to admit it on the page.
Uncle Zane appeared disheveled when Maranatha pestered
him. His silvery hair, normally combed and parted in the exact
same place, was instead bunched and unkempt, his part like a
winding Burl road.
“Camilla and me, well, we want to go to the fair. Can you drive us? Please?” Maranatha practically danced, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
“No,” he shouted, an odd outburst for such a quiet man.
Gangly and with a sinewy will of her own, she pled, “C’mon,Uncle Zane. Everyone will be there. Besides, Camilla promised we’d shoot the fair — ride every single ride from the merry-goround to the Zipper. This year I promised her I’d do it without getting sick.”
“I said no.”
Three plain words. Maranatha almost turned away in a thirteen-year-old huff, but she lingered long enough to see him sit down in a parlor chair, then bend forward, pressing palms to temple.
“We’ll ride our bikes,” she told him. The room echoed her words. “I’ll be back later.” Her words stung even as she said
them, particularly because Uncle Zane, usually a man without
reaction, looked up at her with a strange sort of look in his blue
eyes. A look that pleaded, Please stay.
She left him there. And didn’t look back.
Camilla and Maranatha raced down the road toward the embrace of the fair, miles away. “You’re going to barf on me, I know it,” Camilla teased.
“I will not. My stomach’s better.”
“Oh, right. Now that you’re a teenager, you’re not nauseous? If I were you, I’d be cautious. I don’t trust your stomach. Neither should you.”
They raced, tire to tire, until Camilla saw a wrought-iron gate and, behind it, a burnt skeleton of a house. “I smell mystery,” she said. She stopped her bike. Maranatha nearly crashed into her.
In lieu of a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and despite Uncle Zane’s pained blue eyes, Maranatha and Camilla climbed over the gate. They searched the scorched scene, pretending to be arson investigators.
They concluded a cat had set fire to the house, taking feline revenge on an evil master. “All scary houses have names. This one’s Black, sure as night,” Camilla said.
As the day’s shadows lengthened, after they’d explored the woods behind the house whose once-grand pillars stood charred against the Texas sky, Camilla said, “I want to come back here another day.” She put her hands on her hips and tilted her head back. “Let’s go back to Black.” She wailed and screamed the words like AC/DC. Maranatha laughed so hard, she nearly wet her pants.
Maranatha and Camilla never made it to the fair.
Tired from their investigating, they pedaled lazily back to town. “I’ll see you soon, baboon.” Camilla waved a good-bye to
Something niggled at Maranatha as she walked the stairs of the big white house. Everything looked the same, but nothing felt that way.
“I’m home, Uncle Zane.” Her voice echoed, bouncing off tall ceilings. She called Zady’s name, though she knew it was unlikely the housekeeper would be there on a weekend. She shivered. Loneliness pierced her.
She walked past the parlor to look out the kitchen window at Uncle Zane’s parking spot, figuring he’d probably left to look for her — again. He had swung on a wild pendulum from disinterest to overprotection the day her name changed from Mara to Maranatha three years ago, but his protection kicked into high gear when she turned thirteen. On her birthday, he gave her a bike that sported a crudely shaped bow. He handed her a hockey helmet. “Be careful,” he said. And he meant it.
She stopped in front of the window. Uncle Zane’s white Cadillac sat silent in the driveway, the same place it’d been when she’d ridden away earlier.
Panic ripped through her.
Maranatha ran to the parlor. On the floor, Uncle Zane lay prostrate, face kissing the oriental rug, arms and legs outstretched like he was making a prone snow angel.
“Wake up,” she wailed.
But he didn’t. An ambulance came and whisked him away, while the word stroke hung in the hot Burl evening.
Zady’d tried to soothe Maranatha during his long rehabilitation. “It’s not your fault, Natha,” she said. “I should’ve checked on him. He seemed altered, and I should’ve known.”
Though Zady wore guilt in the lengthening lines around her eyes, she pestered Maranatha with all sorts of don’t-blameyourself words, meaningless blather that never made it past Maranatha’s terrible heart. The best way Maranatha could explain it to Camilla was that she and Zady stood before a giant chalkboard, with the words should have and could have scrawled over and over again like naughty kids’ sentences. While Zady tried to erase Maranatha’s coulds and shoulds, Maranatha rewrote them line by line.
O n e
Every year on the anniversary of his stroke, and many times in between, Maranatha retraced the route she and Camilla had ridden that day. In front of her bike tire beckoned a serpentine of gray pavement radiating heat. The more her shirt clung to her body in a sticky embrace, the better she liked it.
She’d learned the word from Bishop Renny. He said something about trying to make things right by abusing yourself. Said Jesus took the need for all that away. But she knew Jesus would say something different to her, considering how she’d nearly killed Uncle Zane because of her selfishness.
The hot Burl breeze tangled Maranatha’s hair so that it whipped and wrangled about her face. She didn’t mind, didn’t even brush a casual hand to her face to clear the hair from her eyes. At seventeen, she welcomed the wildness, wearing her tangles like a needed mask. A gust of sideways wind whipped the mask from her face.
Maranatha passed the costume shop where, behind a cracked front window, one headless mannequin sported a faded Santa suit and another, a sequined Twenties dress. She pedaled past the farm implement shop whose yard was dotted with ancient rusty plows. This strip of road held most of Burl’s broken dreams — a turn-of-the-century white farmhouse, now converted into a bed and breakfast that no one visited, a handpainted For Sale sign declaring the dream dead. A mobile home stood way back on a fine piece of property, the structure tilted oddly to the left where the cement blocks had deteriorated. A goat preened on its roof, claiming it for himself. Four years ago, children had played out front. She and Camilla had even waved to them. So carefree for such a day.
Wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand, she glanced down at the too-small bike, despising it, as if it had once held her hostage, carrying her away from Uncle Zane’s need four years ago when she and Camilla had been drawn toward the lure of cotton candy and caramel apples.
Maranatha veered onto the familiar gravel driveway flanked by crepe myrtles. She stopped, straddling her bike, catching her breath. She listened for cars but heard only the labored noise of a tractor, far away, until the engine sputtered and died.
The silence roared at her.
It should have blessed her with peace; instead, she remembered Uncle Zane’s hair askew and wondered why God let a selfish girl like her take up space in this world.
She looked behind her. Her thoughts shifted as a deeper worry played at her, taunting her. Though she never voiced it, she lived with a constant fear that someone would burst from the silence and grab her. She hated that she always looked behind, like she was expecting some crouching phantom to nab her. She’d been running from monsters bent on destroying her ever since General first drawled, “Hey, Beautiful” in her ear. Even though she was sheltered in Uncle Zane’s white house and safety was no longer elusive, she always felt the presence of evil five steps behind her. Ready to suffocate her.
She glanced at her wrist to soothe her fears. Circling it was her name, maranatha, each sterling letter separated by a bead. Zady’d given it to her a year after she found out that her real name wasn’t Mara but Maranatha. Part of her quest in discovering her identity was a need for a name that meant more than “bitter.” When she learned that her real name meant “Come, Lord Jesus,” a part of her heart enlivened, as if it knew she was named that all along. She touched each letter, thanking God that He added Natha to the end of her name, that He changed her from bitter to a heart where Jesus could live. If He wanted to, that is.
She got off her bike. The same wrought-iron gate stood erect before her, chalkboard black and foreboding, with an out-of-place silhouette of a squirrel at its arched top. It always reminded her of Willy Wonka’s gate, the gate that prohibited children from seeing the mysteries within the glorious Chocolate Factory. She laid her bike in its familiar dusty place behind the crepe myrtles
and approached the gate. Locked.
Heart thumping, she tried the handle, a ritual she performed every time she ventured to this place, the scene of her selfishness. Why she thought it would magically open today, she didn’t know. When she tugged at it, the gate creaked a warning, but it didn’t budge. Looking back toward the road, she listened again. Nothing. Only the sound of a dove calling to its lover and the crackle of too-dry grass rubbing against itself like a fiddle against its bow. She breathed in the hot air and touched the angry wrought iron. She returned to the bike, unzipped the pouch behind her seat, and stretched on her bike gloves. Attacking the gate again, she pulled herself up, up, up until she could swing her leg over the gate’s pointed top. She scampered down, preferring to jump the last three feet.
Maranatha smiled. Before her was an open field whose hair was littered with dandelions past their prime. Bits of dandelion white floated in front of her like an idle snowfall, only these flurries drifted toward the sun, away from the ground, in lazy worship. Beyond the field stood the remains of the charred mansion.
Now shaded by the house’s pillars, she remembered Uncle Zane’s eyes the day of his stroke. The smile left her face.
She ran to the middle of the field, trying to shake the memory — her laughing, laughing, laughing while Uncle Zane pled for her. She stopped. Maranatha picked one dandelion, held it to her mouth, and blew a warm breeze over its head, scattering wishes toward the has-been mansion. Jesus, You know my name. I want to live up to it. I want my heart to be a place where You want to come. But I’m afraid it’s too dark there. What I’ve done. What’s been done to me. . . . I’m sorry I’m so needy, but I have to know, have to know it in my gut. Please show me You love me anyway. Whatever it takes.
It had been her wish since she met Jesus under the pecan tree at her home, back in the days when Uncle Zane had a quiet will and Zady, his housekeeper and her friend, kept house without the intrusions of Georgeanne, who had invaded their peaceful home with her schemes. Zady dished out helpings and helpings of His love every day at Uncle Zane’s table, but Maranatha never seemed to be able to digest even a scrap. She experienced Jesus at church, surrounded by Mama Frankie and faces darker than her own. When dark-skinned Denim spoke or his pale-faced stepdaughter Camilla rhymed truth, Maranatha thanked God for making unique folks, for giving her friends. Still, Jesus’ love seemed far away, and she, undeserving.
A portion of her little girl’s heart had been abducted by General, the boy-turned-man who violated her so many years ago. His pocked face visited her in nightmares where she had no voice, no safety, no escape. He seemed to lurk behind every stray noise. He didn’t haunt Burl anymore, but he lived firmly in her mind, igniting dread. She feared he’d stolen the only part of her that could have understood God’s love. She feared he held the middle piece to the puzzle of her life.
Am I wishing for something I’ll never have?
Maranatha shielded her eyes from the pursuing sun and walked toward the burnt house. Four once-white pillars stood tall, blackened by angry flames. She remembered when she’d first seen Uncle Zane’s home nearly a decade ago, how it loomed large on its street, how she’d longed to be the owner there someday. But reality was more complicated than that. Sure, she lived there now. Little by little, she was renovating it to splendor, but lately the joy of transforming it had waned thin, like a pilled swimsuit at summer’s end. Fixing things was hard. She’d painted and painted until her fingernails were permanently speckled. Then the pier and beam foundation settled further, cracking her handiwork.
As she gazed upward at the four pillars that reached for the sky, where the abandoned house’s roof once lived, she wondered if she’d ever have a home of her own, children about her legs, a husband to love her. The thought of marriage both repulsed her and pulsed through her. Hatred and longing — all in one girl.
She walked through the rubbish, darkening her red-dirted shoes, looking for a sign from heaven. She played this game sometimes, asking God for signs, for sacred objects that showed her that He saw her, that He knew she existed. That He cared.
Something glinted off and on as the sun played hide-and-seek through the trees. She bent low to the ashes, her body blocking the sun. The glinting stopped, so she stood and let the sun have its way again. There, spotlighted beneath the gaze of the pillars, was a simple, thick-banded gold ring. She retrieved it, dusted the ashes from the gold, and examined it, turning it over and over in her hand.
Inside the ring was a faint engraving. Forever my love.
“Thank You,” she whispered, but her words melted in a hot wind. Dark clouds obscured the sun. The sky purpled. She’d seen a sky like that before. She slipped the ring into her shirt pocket and ran toward her bike, climbed the hot gate like a criminal pursued, and dropped on the other side.
She mounted her bike. From behind she heard a bustled scurrying, like the furious bending of too-dry alfalfa.
Someone’s hands suffocated her eyes, obscuring the day, stealing her screaming breath. She kicked her leg over the tenspeed, struggling to free herself from the firm grip, and tried to holler. Like in her nightmares, she was mute from terror. Though she knew General’s presence was illogical — he’d been shipped off to some sort of juvenile-offender boot camp — she could almost smell his breath as she gasped for her own. She heard a laugh but couldn’t place it. It sounded familiar, like family.
She kicked and elbowed like a kindergarten boy proving his manhood against a playground bully, but the hands stayed enlaced around her eyes.
More laughter. Even more familiar.
She took a deep breath and screamed. Real loud.
Thunder answered back.