Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Camy's Loft Giveaway and EXTRA BOOK CONTEST!

LAST DAY TO ENTER!!!!!!

Camy Tang is having a contest that runs until January 31, 2007 on her website where you can win an 8GB Ipod Nano and LOADS of books. You have to join her newsletter YahooGroup to enter and then fill out the entry form on her site. When you do, please say that beatccr referred you.
Click here for all the details.

Then come back here and leave a comment telling that you entered and then you'll be entered to win a book from me!

The winner will get to choose from 1 out of these 5 books:

Robin Jones Gunn - Sunsets (Glenbrooke Series)
Robin Jones Gunn- Clouds (Glenbrooke Series)
Gilbert Morris - A Covenant of Love (Appomattox Series #1)
Judith Pella - Frontier Lady (Lone Star Legacy #1)
Michael Phillips & Judith Pella - A House Divided (The Russians #2)

Please leave contact info in your comment. I'll pick a name from all the entries and post the winner on February 1st. Good luck!

Book Review: "Germ" by Robert Liparulo

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducting GERM (WestBow Nov 1, 2006) by Robert Liparulo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert's novel paints a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

He is currently working on his third novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK

If you breathe, it will find you...

The list of 10,000 names was created for maximum devastation. On it are business leaders, housewives, politicians, celebrities, janitors, children. None know what is about to happen...but all will be part of the most frightening brand of warfare the world has ever known.

The GERM...a more advanced form of the Ebola virus...has been genetically engineered to infect only those people whose DNA matches the codes embedded within it. If your DNA is not a match, you simply catch a cold. But if your DNA is a match, within days your internal organs liquefy and you die a most painful death. There is no cure.

The release of the virus would usher in a new era of power...one in which countries are left without any form of defense, where one person or millions could be killed with 100% accuracy yet result in no collateral damage to property or those not targeted.

That time isn't coming...It is now!

GERM is coming. Pray the assassins get you first.



Yes, Christian fiction can be gory

When I received this book in the mail, the first thing everyone said when they saw it was "Oh your book is wet." Actually I'm not sure why there are spotted raised dots on the cover, but it sure was a
way to get people to notice the book! To be honest this isn't the type of book I would normally pick up. I'm glad though that I did, I would have missed out on a really intense, suspenseful read. While reading it, I kept thinking I was in 24 with a touch of the Constant Gardener. The story moves at a extremely fast pace and you never get bored. I really liked all the characters, Julia is a very good female lead. ("Jack"ie Bauer!) And my goodness, those Atropas guys were creepy. The description of the weapon they used and how it tore the body up after you've been shot made me squirm. Same with the first chapter of the story, extremely gross out situation. But I liked it because it's definitely not something one would expect in a Christian fiction book. (blood and guts?? isn't that sinful?) Great way to hook you into the story (if you haven't thrown up on the pages already). Really scary when you think about how those guys seem to share the same identity and only think as one. What's even more scary is how realistic the storyline is and how there's a possibility it could happen in this day and age. If they make this novel into a movie, I'll definitely be in line for it. This is the type of book that would appeal to both the secular and Christian crowd.

Germ by Robert Liparulo is published by Thomas Nelson (2006)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Book Review: "I Love Claire" by Tracey Bateman

Here comes the bride...

Claire is finally about to get married! Greg has asked the questions and the happy couple is planning the event that will start their new life together. Claire has found the perfect gown but alas it is wayyy out of her price range. So in order to get the extra money, she accidentally becomes a dog walker (even though she hates dogs). Since its Claire, of course all sorts of adventures have to happen to her. Her client's irritating son is attracted to her, her daughter is again seriously involved with her college boyfriend, her son is doing drugs, and Greg wants to postpone their honeymoon to take a pastoral job in another church! Will Claire still be able to make it down the aisle?

I thought this was a wonderful end to the Claire series. I felt all the characters had come around full circle. Claire seems to have finally made her peace with Rick and Darcy and while she still sometimes feels irritated with Darcy, they have become good friends.
I also really liked the pastor's wife. She was a good example to Claire that a pastor's wife is just like everyone else and wants her husband to pay attention to her. I am glad that she said that the best type of pastor would put his wife before the church and I'm glad Greg finally realized this about Claire. Jerry was kind of creepy and I would have been extremely mad at him too in the situation with the yacht. I really enjoyed this book, it's a great read, and Claire just makes you laugh all the time with her adventures.

The only thing I didn't agree with was Ari's decision to get married so young and everyone seeming to go along with it. I personally do not think an 18 year old is ready for marriage. There is so much they do not know, Ari does not seem like a person who is ready to tackle all the responsibilities of a grown up. In the beginning of the book, she is still whining about not getting her own way, and then at the end she wants to be a wife and have her own household. I know that there are many young couples that marry and can make it but it just didn't seem realistic that everyone agrees this is the right decision in this situation.

I have grown to love Claire and her family. Let's hope there might be at least one more Claire book in the future. Highly recommended book for mom lit fans.

I Love Claire by Tracey Bateman is published by Faithwords (2007)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Book Review: "Autumn Blue" by Karen Harter


Family First

Sidney is a single mother of three kids, who has just moved into a new home. However she can't fully enjoy their new surroundings because her teenage son, Ty, has run away. Unfortunately he has a police record due to a robbery and the police are onto him. Sidney believes her son is innocent and does her hardest to make him turn to the right path no matter what it takes even with the deputy sheriff trying to vie for her attention. Meanwhile her neighbor Millard is an elderly man who's daughter insists that he is too old to take care of himself. Trying to prove her wrong, against his wishes, he soon is swept up in the affairs of Sidney's family and becomes a surrogate grandfather. This makeshift family learns to bond together as they go through a time of learning to trust and have faith.

I thought this was an excellent book. The story is so well developed that I felt like I was watching a movie instead of just reading the story. The lead characters were all very real and I could understand why all of them acted the way they did. Sidney is just a concerned mother who wants what's best for her son. You feel her frustration with trying to understand Ty and her worry when he keeps running away. Her story about finding a father figure with Jack was funny and sad. Ty is an angry teenager but you can sense why he keeps rebelling. He's not obnoxious but you can feel his anger and pain. I really liked Millard. He reminded me of the brothers in Secondhand Lions. He was crusty at first but eventually caved into the family that had showed him the affection his own daughter didn't. I didn't like Alex at first, especially with the way he barged into Sidney's bedroom. However his character too had a story behind the actions that helped to explain who he really was.
There are scenes that make you laugh and then you turn the page and want to cry. The story is not preachy at all yet still puts out a message that family and trust is important. The only problem I had with this book was that Sidney had named her youngest daughter Sissy. I don't know if this name is that popular but it sounds degrading to be called a "sissy" all the time. It makes the character sound really weak since that word is used as an insult most of the time. But since Sidney's daughters are mostly in the background, this isn't such a big deal.

This is the second novel for Karen Harter and she has done a superb job with this book. I highly recommend it for fans of women's fiction who enjoy a moving story with realistic characters.

Autumn Blue by Karen Harter is published by Center Street (2007)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Movie Review: "Grey's Anatomy Season 2"

I don't usually watch medical shows on TV. I never watched ER, never finished an episode of House, didn't even try to get into General Hospital. I just felt that no matter how good a doctor George Clooney played on TV, he wasn't a real one in the actual world. It just seemed all fake to me. So when ABC announced they would be having a new medical drama in their lineup, I immediately assumed that it would be cancelled after a few shows. However the public proved me wrong. After hearing all the hype about it, I decided to rent the first season from the library. I got hooked.

What I do like very much about the show is how real all the characters are. They don't act fake, they act how someone might react in that sort of situation whether it be a medical issue or not. And I do know that a lot of stuff might not really happen like that in a hospital but still it was very interesting to learn the technical goings on in a hospital. And it made me rethink about the time I went into surgery for my broken ankle. Although the hospital where I was at everyone seemed pretty old to me..

As for the actual surgeries, most weren't too gruesome. Since this shows on a network station they can't be TOO gory. However the episode that stuck out most to me was the one with the railroad car accident and the guy and girl that had a pole stuck between them. Ouch. I cannot even begin to imagine what I would do if I was in that situation, doctor or patient. The writers must have had a field day with that episode.

This season doesn't seem to have as much sex as what I've seen in the previews for season 3. I was so proud of Meredith for warding off all advances from McDreamy. She tells him to leave her alone, she doesn't allow herself to be in situations with him where she might be tempted, she tells him repeatedly to go back to his wife. She moves on eventually and is ready to start a new relationship with a now hot Chris O'Donnell (Robin no more). But then in the last 15 minutes of season 2, she gives in! And I'm like come on..you went all season and you gave in now? Arrgh. The other characters dabble with relationships but for the most part it's mostly talk.

I find most of the dialogue a hoot. I end up cracking up a lot while watching this show. A lot of times it's due to George who is my favorite character (well until he cut his hair, I liked the shag). He just looks so innocent, and IMO Meredith is a dolt not to take him and then to do what she did to him! Poor guy. Cristina sometimes gets on my nerves with her attitude, and especially the way she treats Burke sometimes but I guess he must really love her. Izzy's not really my favorite character either but I felt sorry for her with the Denny situation. Alex is just a hot guy who's a jerk. And I hate Addison.

This show is very addictive. I find that I can watch an episode without having to pause repeatedly to go do other stuff like I have to do with Dr. Quinn or Little House. It's a funny, fresh, feel good show. I'm looking forward to getting season 3, although I'm not going to be too fond of the promise of watching "the steamiest show on TV". I think if they cut down less on that it would be even better. Seriously...seriously!!!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Book Review: "John's Story: The Last Eyewitness" by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

Same old story again

John, the disciple Jesus loved most, is the only disciple left. All the others have been killed for their beliefs. Currently in prison awaiting his sentence, John wants to get his story about his life with the Messiah out to the rest of the world. When an attempt to boil him in a pot of oil fails, John is sentenced to exile on Patmos. Before he goes, he dictates his story to Polycarp in hopes that others will listen to it and believe.

When I first heard the premise of this novel, I was excited. I thought it was going to be the New Testament through John's eyes during that time period. I thought the story would be first person narrative from John's point of view from when he grew up, to meeting Jesus, throughout Jesus' ministry, after Jesus died, etc. Unfortunately this book was not at all what I expected. I didn't feel this book to be on the level as the Left Behind series. To me the story was just verbatim the Bible with a little background story for continuity thrown in. I did find the Gnostic believer and his arguments with John very interesting with that belief brought to contemporary popularity these days. I wish they had included more of that discussion. I also did find John's attempted death in the oil fascinating. However the rest of the book was not exciting or even uncovering anything new. Also the author's felt the need to include all of John's works from the Bible in the book. So really, the 300 page book is only half a novel. This wouldn't be such a problem if the story wasn't EXACTLY what was in the Bible. It almost feels like the authors were afraid to create a character for John, different that how he is always portrayed. You don't know anything about his personal life at all. Seeing as how John was the disciple Jesus loved the most, I expected more from this book. I only hope that for the other books, they change the format and include more original story and less repetition.

John's Story: The Last Eyewitness by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins is published by Putnum Adult (2006)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Book Review: "If the Shoe Fits" by Marilynn Griffith

Congrats to Erin for winning a copy of Arms of Deliverance! Stay tuned for more book giveaways in the future!

No, you aren't seeing double. This month we are reviewing not one, but two books by Marilynn Griffith! This prolific writer has TWO books coming out this month! This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about If the Shoe Fits (Steeple Hill Cafe', 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and mother of seven)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and Tangerine (Revell, January 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email: marilynngriffith@gmail.com.


Someday my prince will come...

Rochelle is a owner of a shoe store which is ironic since she can't stand to look at her own
disfigured feet. This can be blamed on her son's father who left her when she was pregnant, disappeared for 15 years and then comes back to her after being in a coma expecting her to welcome him with open arms. To add to all that, her son and his girlfriend are expecting a baby, plus the deacon at church and a younger-than-her waiter both have their eye on Rochelle. She'll definitely need the girls from the Sassy Sistahood to help her keep her cool and to support herself to stand on her own two feet.

This was my favorite Marilynn Griffith book, hands down. It was really fun to read, much more lighter in tone than Made of Honor, which I did enjoy but felt it was a bit serious for
chick lit. I thought it had a great opening, with Rochelle kicking Ted in the face. That would totally embarrassing to have that happen to you. You can cringe along with Rochelle as she's realized what she's just done. I really liked Rochelle's character. She seemed to be very levelheaded and able to keep calm in most situations. I got a laugh out of her date with Richard, although I do suppose there are people who are scared of children so I really shouldn't. I was also glad that Rochelle didn't get back with Jordan. Other Christian fiction books would have the two get back simply because he's now a Christian. However they weren't married in the first place, and he had done a lot of wrong things to her, plus he was living with another woman. I liked Shan too. It was nice to read about a good guy, who isn't a pushover or annoying. Actually he reminded me of Shemar Moore's character in Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He respects her, doesn't give into temptation yet isn't a prude, and he's a very caring guy. I liked all the supporting characters too. I hope there will be other books in the series focusing on them, perhaps Austin or Tracy. I wish I could shop at Dana's store and get all her bath products or drop by Rochelle's shop and try on some shoes. This book was an fun, insightful read.

If the Shoe Fits by Marilynn Griffith is published by Steeple Hill (2007)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar Nominations

News Flash!

The Oscar nominations are in. Best Picture nominees are Babel, The Departed, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen. I haven't seen any of them, but personally I hope either Letters or The Queen win.

And yes! Will Smith did get nominated for The Pursuit of Happyness. Although, I'm perfectly happy with all the nominees for Best Actor. I would like Peter O'Toole to win because he's lost all those other times. Same with Martin Scorsese for Best Director, just give it to already! And we all know Helen Mirren will win for The Queen, although I wish Kate Winslet could win an Oscar for once. (She should have won for Eternal Sunshine, cough)

And Curse of the Golden Flower got nominated for Costumes. Unfortunatley my favorite movie of 2006, Casino Royale, got completely shut out. Why no love for Best Song? Dreamgirls gets 3??? But I guess that's to make up for the fact they didn't get nominated for Best Picture or Director.

Ahh have I mentioned this is the most wonderful time of the year?

Book Review: "Stranded" by Lorena McCourtney


Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Arms of Deliverance. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

Who knew grandmas wore thongs?

Thanks to her broken down RV Ivy Malone, that spunky little old lady, has found herself stuck in the town of Hello. Her and her sidekick Abilene are worried that they might be stranded in a boring little place but since it's Ivy, of course they soon find themselves in the middle of an unsolved murder. The townspeople believe that the murdered man's niece committed the crime, but Ivy isn't so sure. Thanks to the guys' multiple marriages, everyone appears to be suspect. Soon Ivy and Abilene don't have time to worry about the Braxtons or Boone as they are fully immersed into the town life of Hello. Between helping out (aka growing romance) the town vet for Abilene and sorting through the personal library and assisting the props for the yearly revue for Ivy, the two also fill their days looking for the real murderer. Using her investigative powers and her never failing invisibility ability, Ivy is able to once again draw the reader into another page turning, side aching adventure.

Once again Ivy has another hilarious and suspenseful adventure. I laughed and I laughed while reading this book. Who knew grandmas wore thongs?!! There are so many times in this book where you'll be reading a paragraph and start to giggle from either the actions going on or Ivy's reaction to the situation. Abilene didn't have much of a presence as she had in the last book, but I was glad that her situation was happily resolved. Each book has had their own unique set of characters, but I must say this one has had my favorite. From Nutty Norman and his brain wave dance to the potbellied pig (Ivy's thoughts about pork chops were a hoot) to group of LOLs doing a chorus line, the townsfolk are lively and exciting albeit a bit on the judgmental side. And yet again, I wasn't aware of the real culprit until the very last chapter of the book. This is the type of book you just want to read while curled up in a blanket on a cold winter's day with a hot chocolate by your side. I really hope there will be another Ivy Malone book. What will happen with her and Mac??? This is one of the best book series I have ever read. Mystery, romance, humor-you name it, Ivy Malone's got it.

Stranded by Lorena McCourtney is published by Revell (2006)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Book Review: "Chocolate Beach" by Julie Carobini


Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Arms of Deliverance. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

I just want to dive into that book cover

Brianna is a beach loving tour guide who is also a happily married mother. She doesn't always see eye to eye with her mother in law, but being with her chocolate loving best friend Gaby makes up for that. Bri thinks she's been living a pretty good life and thinks that her husband would agree with her. But then she starts to worry about her husband being away constantly from his home because of his job, sees him with his young coworker, and finds an email about selling the house. Dealing with her new boss and with a friend who keeps putting her down starts to put a strain on Bri. She decides a complete change is needed and puts both the house and her own self in extreme makeover mode. However she realizes that if this is what is needed to keep her husband, she'll soon lose herself in the process.

I really had a great time reading this book. Bri was such a great character to get to know, and she was very likable and you can easily relate to her. You can understand why she does what she does and why she felt like she had to change. I loved that she's a chocoholic and I enjoyed the bit about the chocolate class, the chocolate chili sounds really good. The setting of the book was great as I too am a beach lover. I could hear the ocean and see the sun reflecting off the sand as I read the book. Reading this book took me away from the yucky cold here and into the warm beach surroundings. I also was glad that while Bri's mother-in-law could be annoying and pushy at times, she wasn't evil. Other books have portrayed the daughter in law losing every single battle and never being good enough for her husband's mom. While Mona was difficult to please at times, she and Bri could stand to be in a room without killing each other.
The Kate issue, however, I felt seemed a little forced at times and I felt she was really rude even though she eventually made up with Bri. Gaby would be such a great friend to have and I hope that there will be another book involving her story. This is Julie Carobini's first novel and I have definitely become a fan. Chocolate Beach in running for one of the best books of 2007 for me. (And I love that cover!) I'm looking forward towards her next book!

Chocolate Beach by Julie Carobini is published by Bethany House (2007)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Movie Review: "Curse of the Golden Flower"

Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Arms of Deliverance. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

Before I start my post about the movie, I'd like to dedicate this review in memory of my grandmother who passed away in Malaysia last Friday. She would have greatly enjoyed this movie.

Once again a Chinese film was playing at our theater so of course my family had to go. Since the Hampton Roads area of VA is not considered a major marketplace to the movie industry, other than indie theaters we rarely get good foreign films. And since this is an Asian film we were all looking forward to it, Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li being two of our favorite Chinese actors. I have just two words for this movie though: Blood and cleavage. And there is a LOT of both.

Quick summary: Chow Yun Fat is the emperor, Gong Li the empress. There are three princes, the crown prince being the emperor's son from his first marriage. The emperor and the empress do not get along, she realizes that he is trying to slowly poison her through her medicine. On the night of the Chrysanthemum festival she plans to take revenge through the second prince with an army to overthrow the emperor. Unfortunately for everyone, things don't go as planned for this highly dysfunctional family.

I felt this movie to be very Shakespearean, almost like Hamlet especially with the ending. Almost like a movie version of a Chinese opera with the costumes and high drama. I never knew Chow Yun Fat could play the bad guy. In Crouching Tiger, he's the mentor, the hero. Here, he is a cold, brutal emperor who is bent on keeping control of his kingdom. He will do anything to keep this power even at the cost of his family. Gong Li SO does not look like she's 41. She has got to be one of the most gorgeous actresses out there. Most of the other Chinese films that have been released in the past few years have been rated PG-13, only implying that the person has been killed with little or no blood. "Curse" is rightly rated R with heavy battle scenes, lots of stabbings, blood spurts, and a very severe beating scene. To be fair though, except for certain scenes, I felt the new version of King Kong was more gruesome than this movie. As for cleavage, almost every single woman in this movie had have their chest hanging out! I don't know if that was the style at the time, but if it had been me I would have been tugging my shirt up constantly. How they ran or rode horses without popping out is beyond me. I felt sorry for the middle son, all he wanted to do was please both his parents and instead got caught up in their own fight. Interesting how both sides wanted to gain it all, but lost instead everything. The ending, like most Chinese movies, leaves you going "huh?" as you have to use your ideas to formulate what will happen next.

I really hope this movie gets nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, but I highly doubt it with all the other movies that have come out this year. (Prove me wrong Academy voters!) Or maybe Best Costume or Best Art Direction. Actually Gong Li for Best Actress would be wonderful but the odds of that are next to nil. Either way, if you can stand the violence this is one of the best films I've seen in a while. A very thought provoking character study in the lives of a royal family.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Book Review: "On the Run" by Lorena McCourtney




Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Arms of Deliverance. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

Emus=stupid animals

Ivy Malone is back again, this time on the run in a motor home as she tries to escape the Braxtons yet again. Thinking that she can just enjoy being on the road and enjoying the sites, Ivy sets off on sets off across the country. Of course since it's Ivy, she can't escape any adventure, which comes in the form of a runaway abused wife and a new job opportunity where her would be employees end up dead before Ivy can even apply for the job. Since Ivy can't pass up a good investigation, she and her new friend Abilene search for clues as to what really happen when the son of the dead ask her to be the caretaker. Mix in some emus and enough toilet paper to last you a lifetime, and you've just encountered another normal day in the life of Ivy Malone.

I cannot get enough of Ivy Malone and her adventures. I really love how she just happens to stumble on them, she doesn't go out to look for trouble and pretend to be a detective. She's a very levelheaded person. I always love stories that involve road trips, it's just something about not knowing what's going to happen next in the story. I'm glad Ivy was able to find a good relationship with Abilene who I found to be a fascinating character and a good sidekick for Ivy. Those two women are awfully brave to enter a house with two dead bodies staring right at you. And then they stayed AT the house afterwards! I would have run far far away, just being near the house would have been too creepy for me.

I also will say I was surprised at the ending, totally didn't see it coming. Abilene's husband makes me want to scream and I hope justice happens in the next book for him. I found it very amusing during the paintball scene, imagine your grandma shooting at you with paintballs! I also love that she has a toe ring! And the emus and that huge stockpile of supplies! I could go on and on about what a great book this is. Once again I highly recommend this book, this book is like Pringles, once you start reading you can't stop.


On the Run by Lorena McCourtney is published by Revell (2006)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"Arms of Deliverance" by Tricia Goyer and Book Giveaway

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

I have a new copy of Arms of Deliverance to give away. Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday, January 24. Good luck!

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Arms of Deliverance (Moody Publishers, 2006) by Tricia Goyer (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and homeschooling mom!)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tricia Goyer is one the members of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (Tricia's Blog, "It's Real Life" Tricia's Parenting Blog, "Generation NeXt") and we are pleased to be able to review her exciting historical fiction book, Arms of Deliverance. She was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Tricia was also a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award and won ACFW's "Book of the Year" for Long Historial Romance in 2005 AND in 2006. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction (three other WWII novels, From Dust to Ashes, Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance.) She's and non-fiction books. married to John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools: Cory (17), Leslie (14), and Nathan (12). They make their home in Northwest Montana with their dog, Lilly.


Here is my review that I originally posted back in November"

History comes alive

I love historical fiction. For me, it helps me to understand history better. I learn more and it's easier to relate too. It was because of historical fiction that I changed my major to history. I love reading all types, from ancient Greek and Roman history right to stories based during the Cold War. Historical fiction brings the people, places and events to life.

"Arms of Deliverance" is Tricia Goyer's fourth novel set during World War II. Mary and Lee are two female reporters each struggling to prove they deserve to have the top story. Katrine is a Jew, living the life of an Aryan, pregnant with a Nazi's child. Their lives become intertwined as Mary and Lee are sent to Europe to report about the war and Katrine learns the risk of keeping her secret. Along the way, the reader learns about the Nazis view of children and bloodlines, the role of women reporters during war times and the true meaning of sacrifice.

I found this book fascinating. I love stories set during WWII. This was such a dramatic time period. I found the Katrine story very captivating, as she is a Jew being able to pass for a Aryan. Learning about the birthing houses where women gave birth solely to make new generations of Aryans was very interesting. I felt like I was really in the story especially during Mary and Eddie's adventure. Very edge of your seat. The amazing thing is is that many people probably faced that exact situation during the war. It makes the story more exciting and nerve wracking. You can tell there was a lot of research done in writing the book. I really liked the strong female characters. Mary and Lee kept trying to make their name on their own and allowed themselves to be pushed to the limit. Katrine risks her life to finally let the truth be known. I'm not sure I could do the same had I been in their situation.

Currently in one of my courses, we are studying about WWII and the Nazis. This book is helped get a better outlook on their thinking and way of life. I'm really glad I read it and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Tricia's books. I would recommend this for anyone who likes historical fiction.

Read Chapter One on Tricia's Blog.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Book Review: "In Plain Sight" by Lorena McCourtney


Congrats to Julie for winning a copy of Ashes and Ice. Come back tomorrow for another book giveaway!

One little old lady you don't want to mess with

Ivy Malone has left her hometown in fear of the Braxtons who have threatened her after her testimony which convicted one of them for murder. She decides to stay with her niece and her family in Arkansas in hopes that she will be able to once again become a little old invisible lady again. Ivy stays with her grandniece and is prepared to enjoy a peaceful vacation away from the worries that follow her. Unfortunately she is mistaken to be a housekeeper and gets hired from a reclusive woman who turns up dead after firing Ivy. The reader snoops along with Ivy as she tries to find out who has committed the murder while unsuccessfully trying to get herself into any more danger.

I have become a huge Ivy Malone fan. Who knew little old ladies could be so much fun? This book is very like Murder She Wrote where the heroine is not someone you would expect to go around getting involved with murders. Ivy is not afraid of anything! I loved the twists and turns in this story. I love how Ivy takes advantage of getting away with almost anything because people prejudge her because of her age. This was a hilarious read also as Ivy manages to always get caught in unsuspecting situations and has to explain why she happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I also know how she felt when she got the chance to catalogue the library. I would loved to be able to sort through all those boxes of books with her.

I did like also how the generation gap between Ivy and her grandniece was never a problem. I think that Ivy was more able to accept teenagers because she knows what it's like to be judged by other people, therefore she does her best to accept them for who they are. Ivy is a great character, I like her especially because she refuses to fall into the stereotype of a little old lady. I can't stand books where LOLs are gossipy, snoopy, crabby characters. Ivy is none of those things. This book is highly recommended for anyone who likes mysteries and having a good fun time while reading it.

In Plain Sight by Lorena McCourtney is published by Revell (2005)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Book Review: "Winter Birds" by Jamie Langston Turner


Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Ashes and Ice. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday.

Appreciate your elders

Sophia is a elderly woman who is living in the home of her nephew Patrick and his wife Rachel. She has chosen them as the place where she will live until she dies. She then proceeds to tell us about here life and what goes on inside this household. She reveals that her marriage wasn't what she had expected it to be. Her stepchildren hated her from the beginning, her husband treated her as just a mere companion, and denied her of any little happiness she had hoped would come from her marriage that she did not experience in her childhood. Plus she also found a devastating secret about her husband that he had kept hidden throughout their entire marriage until his death. Living with Patrick and Rachel has allowed her to view this small family and their lives as a quiet observer. They have lost their two children and may not have the greatest marriage but since they are Christians they still find the strength to get through any hardships that come their way. This puzzles Sophia as she struggles to understand the meaning of her life and how not to take everyone for granted.

This book was a very relaxing read for me. Have you ever seen the movie Junebug? This book reminded me of that movie, being down in the south where everything is just slow paced. You think it will be a long time before the story gets exciting, but before you know it you've already been drawn into this world. I felt that the characters were very real and the reader feels very connected to Sophia. Being still a young adult, it was fascinating for me to read the story through the eyes of an eighty year old. I never realize how really we treat the elderly, until I read about how Patrick treated his aunt IE talking to her loudly because he think she can't her or doing things because HE feels that it's best for her. I did like very much how Sophia changed throughout the course of the book as she starts to realize that she doesn't want to look forward to dying anymore. I also found the scene where she's caught eavesdropping by Rachel and to cover it up she pulls off the button from her dress on purpose very amusing. I love how all of Jamie Turner's books bring in characters from her other novels and while this story took place in a different setting from the others, we still have appearances from two memorable characters. This book is touching, hopeful, funny, sad, and manages draws you right into the story all at the same time. I highly recommend this book.

Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner is published by Bethany House (2006)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review: "Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman"


Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Ashes and Ice. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday.

I remember the first night that Dr. Quinn came on TV back in 1993. There weren't many shows that came on during weekend nights that the whole family could watch together. Then this show came on and it was actually something we all enjoyed. Going back now, I love watching this historical show with all the costumes and settings of the mid 1800s west. Dr. Mike is a great role model for young women as a she tries to stand out in a world that still isn't ready to accept her. (Very reminiscent of the Cheney Duvall MD series by Gilbert and Lynn Morris that came out around the time this show debuted.)

In the second season, Dr. Mike has now become a staple of Colorado Springs and the people have almost warmed up completely to her. Granted, some of the townsfolk like Loren and Jake still give her a hard time but that doesn't happen too often. I do like how the children have accepted her as their new mother, although I've noticed while Brian exclusively calls her Ma, and Matthew does on occasion, Collen almost never does. Sully and Dr. Mike finally get engaged even after a trip to Boston nearly compromises their relationship. And speaking of the Boston trip, why did they have to make Sully's rival so darn nice? He had no flaws at all and you expect her to turn him down? What I do like about the show are the stories from the supporting cast. Horace and Myra getting married, Dorothy's morphine addicted son, Robert E and Grace getting married, Rev. Johnson's former gambling past are some of the ones that help to flesh out the series.

What kills me though about the show though is the how two faced and narrow minded the townspeople are. In one episode everyone is helping each other out, getting ready to participate in a circus, and everyone is real friendly towards each other. Then in the next episode, there's a huge argument that tears the town apart. But what gets me in the more is that these townsfolk are so prejudiced. In this season especially, first they can't stand the Indians, they blame them for everything wrong that happens to them from droughts to sickness. Then they hate the European immigrants for not knowing how to speak English or taking away their jobs. Finally they hate the black couple who's bought a house, enough to go all KKK on them, even though they use his blacksmith shop and eat at her restaurant! (This was the only episode I couldn't finish out of this season, it was just too ridiculous that the episodes before and after everyone is happy go lucky with each other.) They even hate orphans! And they seem to have a love/hate relationship with Dr. Mike herself. One day she's the town leader, next day she's just a silly woman. They hate everyone who's different from them, and it gets really annoying after a while.

However I still really enjoy this show, even if it takes me forever to watch. I think that's probably because it's a more serious show. Makes me wish I could go back in time..

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Book Review: "The Widow's Choice" by Gilbert Morris


Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Ashes and Ice. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday.

The Winslows during Pearl Harbor

Alana is a widow with three boys living during the Great Depression. Her husband died during an accident in the mine that he worked in. She has to find a way to support to her family by working in a factory. Along the way she meets Oscar Moran, a rich older man who she decides to marry after he shows that he can support her and her family. However the marriage is one of convienience and not love, and Alana finds herself drawn to Oscar's younger brother Jason. The feelings are mutual between the two but they don't act on it due to Oscar's jealousy. Then Jason joins the military right before Pearl Harbor and everything in the lives of the three changes.

I have read almost all of Gilbert Morris's books and every single book in the House of Winslow series. I love this series because goes through almost every single important American event through the eyes of a family.
From the way the cover is portrayed, I thought the book would be more focused on Pearl Harbor but that doesn't take place until the last few chapters and even then it's only briefly mentioned. I have also noticed with this book, as with the last few HOW books, that there is no attempt to bring about other members of the Winslow family to the story. I guess when you have a family tree that goes almost four pages, it's hard to keep track of everyone. I didn't like though how Oscar changes from when he was courting Alana to after they got married. All of a sudden he goes from being a nice old man, to a cold, insensitive, jealous husband. What I do love about Morris's books is the rich historical detail he gives into his stories. I really like hearing about the culture and events that took place in the late 30s and early 40s. You learn about news events, movies that were playing, what clothes people wore. Also you can always count on a mouthwatering description of the food from that time period. I have enjoyed reading this series throughout the years, I've learned a lot about history from it. Unfortunately the next book will be the last one in the series. I was hoping for the Winslow family to come into the 21st century but I guess I'll just have to use my imagination for that.

The Widow's Choice by Gilbert Morris is published by Bethany House (2006)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Book Review: "A Pagan's Nightmare" by Ray Blackston

Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Ashes and Ice. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday.


This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing A Pagan's Nightmare (Warner Faith 2006) by Ray Blackston

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ray Blackston of Greenville, South Carolina, worked as a buyer and a broker for eleven years before cashing in his modest 401k and leaving his corporate cubicle in 2000 to write full time. He is a graduate of the University of south Carolina, with a degree in Finance and Economics.

He serves on the drama team at his church, participates in a weekly men's accountability group, serves on the missions committee of his church, has traveled to rural Ecuador on a summer missions program, and coaches his seven-year-old nephew, Action Jackson, in T-Ball.

When he is not crafting a new novel, is exploring south Carolina beaches with friends and family. He competes in golf tournaments, leads a writers' critique group, and relives his youth through a large collection of eighties music!

His first novel Flabbergasted was one of three finalists for the Christy Award for best first novel, and was chosen as Inspirational Novel of the Year by the Dallas Morning News.


What if Christians ruled the world?

Larry is a writer who has given his publisher Ned what he thinks will be the next great novel. It's
the story about Lanny who lives in a world where Christians have taken over and all the pagans are being hunted down. Lanny and radio DJ Ned Neutral (an homage to editor Ned) are two of the few "unfortunate ones" left and trying to run for their lives from. Lanny is also on the search for his girlfriend Miranda as he worries that she has become one of "them". Meanwhile in the real world, Ned is letting everyone read Larry's manuscript including his own wife who is not happy with the book. She feels that it's a attack on Christianity and must be stopped. While battling wits with his own wife, Ned continues to discover more about himself and Larry as he delves deeper into a world where Christians are the supreme ruler.

This was my first Ray Blackston novel and I must say I throughly enjoyed it. I really liked the story in a story format, I felt like I was reading at the same pace as the characters who were reading the novel. I think that Larry's story was a good representation of what a non-Christian often views the religion to be. Christians should be alerted to this, that we're not some closed off club that tries to frighten people into joining. In the story, Christians have become the bad scary guys, who all follow Marvin who claims that only he knows what God really is saying. I found the speaking in King James a hoot because there are many people who still think that the KJV is the only true version of the Bible. I really liked the way the song lyrics were changed, especially being a huge Beatles fan, I got a kick out of the new words. I felt frustrated with Ned's wife at first because it seemed to me that she was one of those Christians that spent more time attacking than witnessing. I rather found it ironic that she is such a go at it Christian, yet she is married to such a lukewarm one. I got a good laugh out of the discussion questions at the end, especially the question for single people. This book really made you think about why does Christianity have to do things are certain way? Do we place those rituals as more important than our relationship with Jesus? I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a funny, light read that makes you think hard after you're done.

A Pagan's Nightmare by Ray Blackston is published by Faithwords (2006)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book Review: "Whispers of Winter" by Tracie Peterson and Book Giveaway

Book Giveaway Below!

Pull out your winter coat again

In the third book of the Alaskan quest series, Jayce and Jacob are shipwrecked on an Arctic island with a bleak outlook of leaving. Meanwhile their wives Leah and Helena are back at home in Alaska waiting for their husbands to get back home. Leah is still struggling with the fact that her children may not be really be Jayce's children and the aftermaths of what Chase had done to her. Helena is worried that Jacob still doesn't really love her. The two women bond together as they battle the harsh Alaskan setting, dealing with influenza, changes from their friends, and the outbreak of WWI.


I've mentioned before I love really good book covers. This whole series has had some beautiful covers and this one is my favorite (the whole hair blowing in the wind thing). I want to say that it's Leah on the cover. I enjoyed reading the book as it tied up many story lines and described more historical detail about the time period and area. I felt however that the back cover summary only focused on the first half of the book. While the situation with Jayce and Jacob being shipwrecked is a big factor of the story, it is only part of the book. I did like the side storyline about the "Russian" guy. Winter usually brings about death and there were many deaths in the book, including a major beloved character that was unexpected. While reading this book, once again I felt really cold especially when the men were stuck on the island. Totally realistic reading when you think you need to put on a coat. I hope that maybe there will be another spin off of this series, perhaps focusing on Karen's children?

Whispers of Winter by Tracie Peterson is published by Bethany House (2006)

No
w for the book giveaway! I have a copy of the second book from Tracie's Yukon Quest series, "Ashes and Ice" where we are first introduced to Jacob and Leah. Leave a comment with your email address saying you want to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday, January 16. Good luck!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Book Review: "Claire Knows Best" by Tracey Bateman

Congrats to Michelle for winning a copy of Hell in a Briefcase. Stop by tomorrow for another book giveaway!

Sometimes it's Mom that knows best

Claire has now begun to settle down after having it all out with her ex husband and his new wife. She has a great boyfriend, her kids are starting to finally get along well with her and she's finally starting to relax from her panic attacks. Then a tornado hits her house and everything changes for Claire. When Greg invites Claire to move in with his mother for a while, he then drops the bomb on her that he wants to go to seminary to become a full time pastor. Claire can't deal with having to become a pastor's wife so she dumps Greg, and then begins to regret it. In between her relationship issues, she also has to deal with a contractor that dies on her, another that wants to date her, her teenage daughter rebelling big time, her son wanting to become an actor, the retired atheist actor who wants to give him acting lessons, his estranged daughter who Claire wants to reunite with her dad, and her publicist saying that her new book idea will be a flop. But leave it to Claire, who takes all this issues and handles things her own special way.

This was another fun read in the life of Claire. In this book, she's grown up some and isn't as wishy-washy as she was in the first one. She begins to put her foot down involving her children. I'm glad that she finally laid down the law with Ari because she was really starting to rebel and no one was punishing her. I felt though that Claire was being a bit unfair to Greg's decision. I realize that she may have had fears about the idea of what a pastor's wife should be and it would be intimidating. However she just blows him off without telling him the real reason why she's breaking up with him. I also felt that she was a bit paranoid about letting her atheist actor neighbor coach her son. I know she was afraid that he might let his views waver her son's faith, but I honestly felt all the guy wanted to do was just help her son with his acting, and she was making a mountain out of a molehill.
I'm glad though that Claire resolved her issues with Darcy who might be a little annoying but is still very friendly. I found it very hilarious when she called the psych student to discuss her problems and the girl was trying to pretend to be twins and Claire caught on and called her out on it. I also liked the bit about Claire's former publicist naming her daughter Anakin Skywalker. As a huge Star Wars fan, this got a big grin from me. I really did enjoy this book. It was a fun and fast read. I'll be looking very forward to reading I Love Claire.

Claire Knows Best by Tracey Bateman is published by Faithwords (2006)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Movie Review: "The Pursuit of Happyness"


Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Hell in a Briefcase. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday.

I love when Oscar season rolls around. For my boyfriend, football season is the best time of the year. He loves watching NFL and NCAA football nonstop, knows all the teams, player stats, play by plays, you name it. Me on the other hand, come January and February I can tell you every movie that's been nominated for Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Screen Actor Guilds, BAFTAs, etc. (Uber dork confession here: if I'm having trouble falling asleep I try to list as many Oscar nominees since 1998 as I can. I usually fall asleep trying to remember one from 2000). I also usually try to watch the major nominees if I can before the actual winners are announced so I can make my own predictions.

That said, I am almost guaranteed Will Smith will be nominated for his role as Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness. Based on a true story, this was one of the most inspirational and uplifting movies I've seen all year. Like most stories in this genre, you already know how the ending is going to be just by watching the trailer. However movies like this have always done well because I believe inside all of us, is the desire to know that underdogs can succeed. While the movie is mostly serious in tone, with tear jerking scenes like the scene in the subway bathroom, there are quite a few laughable moments especially involving that bone density machine. And there are some arrrghhh worthy scenes too, where you just want to yell at Chris's boss that he has to suck up to. It was very interesting to learn about how a stock brokerage operates. I never knew one had to go through so much just to get an internship. And I love the Rubik cube bit. I've yet to solve one.

Gardner's son is played by Will Smith's own son, Jaden. And let me tell you, that kid is adorable. He can also act. I love the scene where he asks his dad if his mom left him because of him and then tells him "you're a good poppa." One thing I loved was that you forget you are watching Will Smith. He becomes his character and you don't realize you are watching the same guy who played The Fresh Prince or sang Getting Jiggy With It. Like I said about Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction, you know when an actor is good when a former comedian takes a dramatic role and makes you forget he used to do comedy. The only thing that irked me was that this movie was supposed to be set in the 1980s. Other than some of the character's clothing and cars, I didn't really feel like it was right time period. But that's a minor detail.

At the end of the movie, I cried. The lady two seats over was crying too. Her husband/boyfriend looked at my boyfriend and they both laughed and shooked their heads. No matter. This movie is the type of movie that deserves the tears and applause it received. Chris Gardner's story is such an inspiration for everyone. I really do hope Will Smith becomes nominated for this movie. He totally deserves it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Book Review: "RV There Yet?" by Diann Hunt


Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Hell in a Briefcase. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday.

Road Trip!!

Dede is the owner of a chocolate store, who decides (against her better judgment) to go on a road trip with her two friends Millie and Lydia. The trio are hopping aboard an RV named Walter as they go cross country to a camp reunion. Of course the trip doesn't go as perfect as they had originally planned. The roof gets a leak, Dede can't stand the air condition that Millie and Lydia need for their hot flashes, Lydia's Andy Griffith-loving canary almost dies, and the police keep pulling them over for either speeding or being too slow! Each woman also has secrets she doesn't want the others to know, whether it be a married guy who won't leave Dede alone, Lydia's problems with her sons, or Millie being afraid of being replaced at her job. When the trio finally get to camp, they are reunited with old friends and try to get the camp ready to be reopened.

This was a really fun book. I enjoyed reading about the road trip. The three women all have different personalities that fit well with each other. It was fun to read about how Dede would try to irk Millie about her over cleanliness. Learning about the history of chocolate and hearing all the descriptions of truffles really made me hungry. I had to sneak some fudge while reading this book. My favorite part was when the women discovered that the scary biker guys that kept following them were really on of their old camp sweethearts. Looks can be deceiving! I also found it hilarious that Millie's trumpet playing sounded like a mating call. I felt that Dede's situation was very realistic as a lot of women have been caught in that situation. I'm glad she did what she did at the end. I've never been in an RV but they sound like a really fun way to take a road trip. I think however I'd choose one of the luxury RVs over Walter though. This book is recommended for anyone who enjoys chocolate, traveling, and spending good times with friends.

RV There Yet? by Diann Hunt is published by Thomas Nelson (2006)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Book Review: "Tangerine" by Marilynn Griffith

Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Hell in a Briefcase. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday.


This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Tangerine (Revell, January 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow blogger, writer, and mother of *GULP* seven!)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and If the Shoe Fits (Revell, 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email: marilynngriffith@gmail.com.


Orange you glad you read this book?


Jean is the third member of the Garments of Praise team that we get to meet in the Shades of Style series. She's all set to start designing on outfits for NBA teams when the person brought in to collaborate with her is her estranged husband who she hasn't talked to in years because he's been in prison. Nigel tries his best to reconcile with Jean but there's a big wall he has to break down in order to get to her. The two struggle with their relationship as they try to find out how to work together and maybe rekindle the love they once had.

While I enjoyed reading this book, I didn't like it as much as Pink or Jade. Maybe it's because there was such a big age difference between Jean vs Raya and Lily and I could relate more to the two younger women. Jean's also a grandmother which didn't really fit my image of chick lit and the story is more heavy than the other two. However I did enjoy reading about Jean discovering a new relationship with her estranged husband Nigel. This book tackles a lot of heavy subjects such as Nigel being wrongly accused and still put in jail, Monica's problems due to a lack of a father in her life, and what a couple has to deal with when one member has been unfaithful. Jean is very reluctant at first to accept Nigel and it's understandable with the hurt he's gone through. There were lots to learn about the Latino culture in this book. I've always found the idea of a quinceañera very cool and interesting because in the US we don't have something that's equal to it. I liked the fact that it took the granddaughter's help to get the couple back together. It was also very cool to read about hearing designing clothes for NBA teams. Very awesome job. I'd recommend this book for fans of the Shades of Style series. Looking forward to reading about Chenille's story in Turquoise!

Tangerine by Marilynn Griffith is published by Revell (2007)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Book Review: "The Winds of Sonoma" by Nikki Arana

Congratulations to Janice for winning a copy of "Afton of Margate Castle".
Don't forget to enter the book giveaway to win a copy of Hell in a Briefcase.
Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday.

Culture Clash

Angelica is a up and coming attorney working for a big firm in New York City. When she is fired and cannot find a new job due to her refusal to compromise her beliefs she heads home to California. While at home she faces the situation of illegal Mexican immigrants in the area. Her family ranch has hired a new immigrant worker, Antonio. Angelica decides to take him under her wing and try to help him out in every way she can. She also wants to try to get a job as a public defender because she wants give help to those who really are in need of it. As Angelica works with Antonio, she discovers that there may be more than just a charitable feeling shared between the two of them. The two have an uphill climb as they try to figure out their relationship.

I liked this book. It was easy to read and one could relate to the timeliness of the story. Illegal immigration is a hot topic in our country. Many politicians are debating constantly about how the nation should treat the situation. There are lots of people who are prejudiced against Mexican immigrants such as the foreman of the ranch or the people in the church who thought they were "helping" but really weren't. Angelica is a compassionate character who wants to help out Antonio. She also makes the difficult choice of choosing a harder life instead of one that would be easily handed to her. I admire people who can do that. I could also relate to Angelica's issue with not wanting to tell her parents what really happened to her in New York. It's hard to have to tell your parents that you've let them down after they think you've done so well. My parents were immigrants so the story is familiar about being alone and uncertain in a new country. They too were grateful for the people who took the time out to help them get settled in their new life. I'm looking forward to picking up the next two books in the series.

The Winds of Sonoma by Nikki Arana is published by Revell (2005)

Monday, January 01, 2007

"Hell in a Briefcase" by Phil Little with Brad Whittington and Book Giveaway!


Don't forget to enter the contest to win a copy of Afton of Margate Castle. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It is January 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:
Phil Little with Brad Whittington
and their book:

HELL IN A BRIEFCASE
(A Matt Cooper Novel)




BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!!

Guess what? The publicists for Phil have agreed to a book contest for each FIRST member's blog post on Hell in a Briefcase! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. I"ll announce the winner next Monday, January 8. Good luck!


ELEVEN BRIEFCASES AND ONE UNLIKELY HERO...CAN MATT COOPER FIND ELEVEN NUCLEAR DEVICES AND HIS FAITH BEFORE DISASTER STRIKES?

With violence in the Middle East escalating daily, Americans are glued to their televisions wondering what will happen next. Meanwhile, Matt Cooper, jet-setting star of Phil Little's debut novel Hell in a Briefcase is doing something about it. A private security executive, his adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas flights, Hollywood parties with his actress girlfriend, and direct calls from top CIA brass.
A chance meeting with Mr. Roberts, “an old broken-down millionaire” and uncommon Christian, sends Cooper on a trip to Israel that will change his life. Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism, witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war. The deeper he goes, the closer he gets to a plot involving eleven stolen briefcase nukes and a plan infinitely more sinister than 9/11.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Phil Little, president of West Coast Detectives and a recognized expert in counter-terrorism, provides bodyguards to the stars and runs a detective agency that has served ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, Paramount, MGM, and hundreds of others (www.westcoastdetectives.us). He draws on this experience in crafting the tightly wound plot of this international thriller. In addition to his duties as a security expert, Phil has also written Hostile Intent, Protecting Yourself from Terrorism and will soon be the subject of a television pilot. In the meantime, you can read more about Matt's adventures in his blog, http://detectivemattcooper.blogspot.com.

In addition, Phil is available for comment on all aspects of international terrorism, both at home and abroad, and he makes for an interesting and colorful guest. His expertise in the area of international issues combined with his personable on-camera style would make for a great interview on this hot topic. From Lebanese terror camps in the 1970’s to American airports in the months before 9/11, Phil Little has witnessed the terror threat up close and can share eye-opening stories and information that all Americans should know.

THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Marjeyoun, Lebanon.

Thursday, 21 November 2002. 01:30.


A full moon. A glow seemed to rise from the sand, allowing them to drive with their headlights off. The five Jeeps kept to 40 kph on the dark road that wound southward between hills and wadis. In the third Jeep, Major Skaff allowed himself the brief luxury of picking out Pegasus in the sharp winter sky before he compulsively scanned the rocky terrain for signs of Hezbollah fedayeen. He was leading this patrol to check out rumors of increased activity near Shaaba Farms, the disputed area where three Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped two years before.


The ridge road ran from the town of Marjeyoun down to Qlaia’a under the ominous gaze of Shqif Arnoun-the castle called “Beaufort” by the Crusaders-to the west. Christians and Muslims had fought for this ground for centuries, trading possession of the castle as their fortunes rose and fell. In the 1970’s the Palestinian Liberation Organization had used the strategic placement of the castle to shell civilian settlements in northern Israel.

That was when Skaff, then a young recruit of the Southern Lebanese Army, had been a driver in a similar convoy, shortly before the civil war broke out between Christians and Muslims in 1975. Traversing this very ridge on a mission, he had come under fire from the castle. His evasive driving had saved the convoy and drawn the attention of General Lahd.

The intervening thirty years had been a generation of unremitting war. Israel, tiring of mounting civilian casualties and the Lebanese government’s refusal to expel the terrorists, invaded southern Lebanon in 1982 and captured the castle. Eighteen years of occupation followed, during which Skaff had risen through the SLA ranks while working openly with the Israelis to keep the various Muslim factions at bay. When he had started, Hezbollah did not exist. Now the radical Muslim army controlled the south and dealt severely with the Christian resistance.

As the occupation had grown increasingly costly and casualties mounted, the pressure increased for Israel to withdraw. When the SLA collapsed in 2000, Israel destroyed what was left of the castle walls and pulled back behind the Blue Line specified by the UN. The SLA scattered. Thousands fled to Israel or went into hiding. Those who didn’t were imprisoned and tried as enemy collaborators. As Hezbollah gained control of the area, the anticipated slaughter of Christians didn’t materialize. But any SLA militiamen emboldened to return were also imprisoned.

As he scanned the distant ruins of the castle in the moonlight, Major Skaff reflected on change and constancy. Where PLO guns had once rained death on Israel and Lebanese Christians, now tourists snapped pictures and rushed home to post them on the Internet. And the same General Antoine Lahd who had brought him up in the ranks and fought beside him for decades had fled to Paris. Only a week ago he had opened a fancy restaurant in Tel Aviv called Byblos. It had a nice ocean view.

True, Lahd had a death sentence hanging over him for treason and war crimes, but so did Skaff. And so did many of the two thousand SLA in Lebanese prisons.

But some things had not changed. Southern Lebanon was just as dangerous for the men in these Jeeps as it had been when Skaff was driving instead of commanding.

Skaff was drawn from his reflections by a dark shape ahead. At the end of the ridge the road snaked through an outcropping of rock. He had passed through it many times, always with reluctance. This night he felt a peculiar sense of revulsion as he squinted at the misshapen lump of stone looming before him.

He nudged his driver and nodded toward the rocks. Hassan nodded back. He could feel it too. Skaff reached for the radio to signal the lead Jeep. A lifetime of guerrilla fighting had convinced him that such premonitions were not without merit. His transmission was brief, but they were already entering the outcropping when he put the radio down.

Five seconds later a rocket hit the grille of the lead Jeep. The explosion lit the rocks towering over them. He saw the silhouettes of two men blow out on either side of the vehicle, which was tossed onto the nose of the next Jeep. Hassan narrowly missed them, skidding left and stopping next to the driver of the lead Jeep, who was lying half off the road.

The two Jeeps behind slid sideways to a stop in the road as machine gun bursts echoed from beyond the lead Jeep. Skaff was exposed to the attack. He dove from his seat to the rear of the second Jeep, between two men already returning fire with an Uzi and an M-16.

He rolled to his feet and yelled to the two back Jeeps, motioning for them to form a double barricade with their vehicles, keeping the men covered both in the front and the rear in case the attackers attempted to sandwich them in the gap. Skaff turned back, confident that his men needed no further direction. This mission called for battle-hardened veterans, and he had personally selected the nineteen men who were with him now. Every man among them had proved himself in years of combat. Some even owed their life to his cool command in battle. Some had returned the favor multiple times.

Skaff scanned the forward battle to account for the remaining eleven men, his position shielded by the lead Jeep transfixed on the grille of the second. To the left, Hassan was pulling the driver of the first Jeep to safety. The other two men from Skaff’s Jeep were covering him with sporadic fire from their Uzis. Ahead, the driver of the second Jeep was placing a case of grenades handy to his partner, who had fitted his M-16 with a grenade launcher and was set up in the backseat. Skaff was standing beside the other two passengers in the second Jeep. That left the three passengers from the lead Jeep.

He spotted Saif on the right. He had been thrown clear onto the sand without apparent injury. He was crouched behind a boulder, occasionally returning fire with his Desert Eagle .50-caliber side arm. Failing to sight the other two, he shouted to the driver, who had acquired an Uzi.

“Rafik? Sayyed?”

He nodded forward. Skaff crawled over the middle of the jeep to the hood. Sayyed was wedged between the lead Jeep and the grille of the second Jeep, most likely dead. Rafik was lying on the hood of the second Jeep. Skaff checked for a pulse. Nothing. He closed Rafik’s eyes and whispered a short prayer. Skaff couldn’t play favorites with his men, but this loss was harder than any other would have been. At nineteen, Rafik had already spent four years with Skaff, rarely more than fifty yards from his side. Four years of relentless, driven hate. Skaff had been Rafik’s ticket for revenge. Perhaps now he had found the peace revenge had not been able to bring him.

Skaff was crawling back to get a weapon when the second rocket hit the bottom of the lead Jeep. The gas tank exploded, sending most of the shrapnel back toward the attackers. The force of the blast threw the second Jeep back five feet, knocking over the two shooters behind. The grenade launcher and the man with it fell into the front seat. The driver was standing to the side. He returned fire with the Uzi.

Skaff helped reposition the grenade launcher and crawled out of the Jeep. The two in back were already firing again. He scanned the area and then dove toward the two Jeeps in the rear. Of the eight men between the jeeps, one had taken a round in the right shoulder but was still firing left-handed, propped against a door. Three were facing the rear but indicated they hadn’t seen any action, yet. Two were covering the walls on either side with M-16s, but also hadn’t seen action. The final two had grenade launchers on their M-16s. They waited until they saw several volleys of tracer bullets originating from a single location. Then they fired three seconds apart at the source. The machine gun fire stopped. Skaff slapped them on the back. Perhaps they would get out of this thing alive.

Then a rocket hit Skaff’s Jeep. Hassan was behind a curtain of stone, firing with an Uzi, having propped the injured driver in a cleft in the rock. But the other two were using the Jeep for cover. One tumbled backward, clear of the Jeep. The other was knocked down as the Jeep rolled over, pinning his leg under it. Skaff ran through a volley of automatic weapons fire and pulled the first man to his feet. They raced to the Jeep, joined by Hassan, and rocked it back over. Then they dragged the injured man to safety next to the injured driver.

Skaff felt a shudder of unease ripple through the adrenaline-laced focus that always came over him in combat. If this kept up, the whole team would be shredded before they had used half their ammo. He grabbed Hassan’s arm and yelled into his ear over the din.

“We have to take out that rocket launcher or we don’t get out of here. Take those three and circle around.” Hassan nodded and stepped away but Skaff grabbed his arm. “Take a radio.”

He let go, and Hassan ran to the rear while the others laid down covering fire. Skaff used the opportunity to race to the front two Jeeps and get the four there away from the vehicles and behind the cover of the rocks. As they ran for cover, another rocket hit the top of the lead Jeep, sending fragments of the grille and fenders flying in all directions. Skaff ran through the explosion back to the rock curtain. When he fell against a boulder the injured man pointed at Skaff’s leg. He looked down and saw that his left trouser leg was slashed in three places. Blood was seeping down to his boots. He looked around to see how the others had fared.

Saif seemed to have been hit in the arm by something. He was now firing the Eagle while holding his upper arm with the other hand. The other four seemed to have escaped unscathed. Skaff’s radio had not survived the rocket. He nodded to the man next to him, who wielded an Uzi while he made it to the two back Jeeps, getting an Uzi and a radio. He turned it up all the way and slung it over his shoulder. Then he began firing at the source of tracers beyond the rubble of the Jeeps.

Looking for some encouragement, Skaff probed his memory. In almost three decades of fighting, he didn’t recall anything quite as dire as the current circumstance. He had two confirmed dead, one unconscious, three wounded but still firing. Almost a third of the force. The numbers were bound to increase as long as that rocket launcher was working. His calculations were interrupted by Hassan’s voice squawking through the pandemonium.

“We got the rocket launcher, but I think they have another on the left. And now we’re pinned down, so we’re going nowhere.”

The last word was drowned out by a rocket blast on the rock curtain above the injured men. Skaff doubted he could get a team around the other side. Even if he did, the enemy would be expecting them. No way around. No way through. He scanned the sheer rock walls on either side. No way over. The fedayeen had chosen their positions well and appeared to have ample men, weapons, and ammo. It seemed likely that most of this team would share the fate of Rafik and Sayyed. Probably all. The thought sickened Skaff, turning the adrenaline in his veins to bile in his throat.

There was one last hope, but it might be too late. He selected another frequency on the radio and shouted over the gunfire, “Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. (Activate Lebanon Sanction.)”