Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book Review: "Blade Silver" by Melody Carlson

Razor Sharp Pain

To say that Ruth doesn't have issues in an understatement. Her family is having problems. Her brother keeps running away from home. Her mother is depressed all the time. Her father is verbally abusive towards everyone in the family. Ruth is tired of putting up with all this, but feels that nothing she does can change it. The only thing that makes her feel better is when she cuts herself. The pain that comes from seeing her blood flow gives her a sense of calmness. But even Ruth knows that this wrong, but she can't seem to stop. She tries to hide it from others but someone wearing long sleeves in summer looks suspicious. It finally takes Ruth's admittance that cutting is an addiction that needs to be stopped for her to realize that she can do something to break the cycle that she's been living in.

This was one of the most difficult and painful teen fiction books I have ever read. It was so real, like I was reading an actual account of a teenage cutter.
I wish that no one ever has to go through what Ruth did, but I know that there are so many kids who share the same experience. I could not stand Ruth's dad. I believe that verbal abuse is just as bad if not more so than physical abuse as inner scars are slower to heal. There is an explanation as to why he acted that way but I was glad that the story did not portray him unrealistically changing at the end of the book. It was horrifying to read about how Ruth would get a "high" from hurting herself in such a matter. Even worse because she would feel sometimes that she deserved it. I think that it was very sad that her extended family did not do anything to protect the kids from their abusive father. Ruth's recovery did not seem fake, in fact it only made it more realistic because it took her so long to accept help.

Melody Carlson is gifted at bringing touchy subjects like this to life.
The subjects in this series are difficult and not ones many Christians like to face. In fact, there are some who think that teens only face these kinds of issues because of a lack of faith. Thus, many teens especially those who are Christians find that they have no one to go to about their problems. This series shows readers what really happens out there, allowing for questions and advice about where to turn for help. I believe this is the first Christian book to mention cutting. There needs to be more books that talk about this subject as there are many people out there who need help.

Blade Silver by Melody Carlson is published by NavPress (2005)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Spirit of Sweetgrass by Nicole Seitz

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Integrity/Thomas Nelson (March 6, 2007)


NICOLE SEITZ is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and freelance writer/illustrator published in South Carolina Magazine, Charleston Magazine, House Calls, The Island Packet and The Bluffton Packet.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole is an exhibiting artist in the Charleston, South Carolina area where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children.


Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins is a 78-year-old sweetgrass basket weaver who sits on the side of Hwy. 17 in the company of her dead husband, Daddy Jim.

Inspired by her Auntie Leona, Essie Mae finally discovers her calling in life and weaves powerful "love baskets," praying fervently over them to affect the lives of those who visit her roadside stand.

Relations are strained with her daughter Henrietta, who thinks Essie belongs in a retirement center. If Essie can't pay $10,000 in back taxes to save her home, she may have no choice. More tensions: her grandson EJ wants to marry a white girl, Essie discovers that a handsome man she's trying to find a girl for is gay, and her daughter carries a hidden secret.

When she's faced with losing her home and her stand and being put in a nursing home, Daddy Jim talks her into coming on up to Heaven to meet sweet Jesus-something she's always wanted to do.

The SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS shifts less successfully to the afterlife, where her Gullah-Creole ancestors surround her; but soon, her heavenly peace is disrupted, for she still has work to do. Now Essie Mae, who once felt powerless and invisible, must find the strength within her to keep her South Carolina family from falling apart. Together, with Daddy Jim, they team up to return to Earth and battle two spirits conjured up by Henrietta's voodoo that threatens to ruin an attempt to save the sweetgrass basket weaving culture.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Book Review: "Amanda" by Debra White Smith

Emma Retold

Amanda, the fifth book in the Austen series, is a retelling of Jane Austen's Emma. Amanda decides that it is her duty to save her friend Haley from a doomed relationship with Roger and to set her up with someone more suitable. This leads her to introducing Haley to the new pastor in town Pastor Eldridge. Meanwhile Amanda's best friend Nate begins to think more of Amanda than just a friend, but Amanda's too busy with her matchmaking to notice this plus she's also interested in the new guy in town Franklyn. But when the pastor beings to notice Amanda and Haley with Nate, it looks like Amanda's plans need some retouching!

I've always enjoyed Jane Austen's stories and so far have enjoyed Debra White Smith's modern retelling of them especially the Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility remakes. Emma is one of Austen's most well known stories and it ranks as my 3rd favorite. So I was looking forward to reading this book to compare it. I did enjoy seeing the story with all the elements from the original novel incorporated. I liked learning about the Australian culture as well. I did fell though that characters were very stock and I didn't get to understand them completely. Amanda's reasons for Haley ditching Roger are very poor and Haley seems very weak not to stand up to her. Meanwhile Nate never seems to be able to stop being at a loss of words in front of Amanda which got annoying after a while. The main problem I have about books that "retell" another story is that the real book will get mentioned in the retelling. In this book, the characters bring up the story of Emma several times. Why then can they not see that what is going on in their lives is EXACTLY what happens in the book? I mean don't the characters see that everything is completely parallel to the story? This books was also the hardest of the series to picture in a modern setting. I think, though, that the reason may be because I had just watched the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma right before reading this book.

This book was an enjoyable read. If you liked the other Austen books, pick this one up.

Amanda by Debra White Smith is published by Harvest House (2006)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Book Review: "Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels" by Mindy Starns Clark

Wooden Nickel = Be Cautious

Callie Webber has come back to her Chesapeake Bay home to relax after working hard for the J.O.S.H.U.A. foundation. However , she ends up investigating another charity, one that helps out troubled women with clothes and accessories to start a new job. Callie is drawn to one of the young women, Shayna and is eager to get her started with her new career. But then Shayna's boyfriend goes missing. Eddie Ray then ends up dead in the trunk of her car. Not believing the rumors that Shayna is a murderer Callie goes to investigate who it really is. The clues she discovers all lead up to finding out that Eddie Ray might have stumbled onto something that he shouldn't have.

This is another wonderful work from Mindy Starns Clark. Callie continues to be a likable heroine, who shows that she can remain calm and cool in heated situations. I also liked that the detective working with Callie was female as well showing that women can do men's jobs. The suspense in this book is excellent, you are kept guessing the whole way through. The reader is introduced to many clues throughout the book, but it is only at the end that you see how they all fit together. This book really makes you guess Tom's identity. At first I was annoyed that he kept ditching Callie and wouldn't offer her any answers to her questions. It was totally understandable why she would be frustrated, angry and why she would resort to snooping. It all came down to a trust issue but I can see why Callie would question Tom when he won't tell her anything. I even thought for a while that the other guy could possibly be Tom, he was a good guy for Callie though at the very least. I liked the references to geocaching, it was really cool to learn more about that activity. Once again this is an superb addition to the series, highly recommended for mystery fans.

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels
by Mindy Starns Clark is published by Harvest House (2003)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Movie Review: "The Queen"

I don't know about you but I have always found the British Royal family to be fascinating. In fact British history as a whole is one of my favorite subjects to study. But the British monarchy is a topic I can pour over for days and never be bored. The queen was even in my neck of the wood a few weeks ago, for the Jamestown celebration. My mother actually got to see Queen Elizabeth and even shake Princess Anne's hand when they visited Malaysia in the 70s. That's why my sister got her middle name as Anne after the princess. I also used to have a huge crush on Prince William, now it's switched to Harry. Maybe it's a redhead thing? But that's going off tangent...

The Queen is a terrific character study of one of the most famous people in the world. To the majority of the world, Queen Elizabeth II is a figurehead, the symbol of Great Britain. She's more of a icon, rather than a real person to most of us. In this movie, she is brought to life and we see her as actually having feelings and struggling between tradition and the modern world. The story takes place right after Princess Diana has died, and the decisions that the queen and the royal family make that will change the way Britain is ruled.

I think it's harder to play a role of someone who is still living and still has great influence over many people. Helen Mirren also portrayed the role of Queen Elizabeth I earlier this year, which some would say is easier because the character has been dead for hundreds of years. Meanwhile in this movie, the actors are portraying characters that are very much alive, and can see this movie, and therefore there is a possibility that they may be insulted by it. I mean who really wants to insult the queen by portraying her in a negative way? ("Off with their heads!!!")

Helen Mirren, who won every award possible for this role, is absolutely brilliant in this movie. She not only looks like the queen, she acts like one. She totally deserves the Oscar for this movie (although I wish Kate Winslet would not get nominated in years when someone else is guaranteed the win). It is thought provoking to think that the queen was given her "job" not by her choice but by fate and that perhaps if she could she would choose something else. IT is very hard to go against what your past generations have done for years, but for the queen to do it, made a huge difference. The scene when she finally meets the people outside the gates is very touching. And will someone please tell me why Michael Sheen did not get nominated at all for his portrayal as Tony Blair? Not only did he look like him, his acting was spot on. He really brought personality and feeling to the character. Many of us only know him from watching TV so this was really interesting to see what he really was like. James Cromwell plays an excellent Prince Phillip. He seems to be the type of person who is set in their ways and doesn't like change. I think it would be interesting to do a movie about him, it must be tough to play second fiddle to your wife. I mean he's only a prince and she's queen.

I also really appreciated how this movie was almost very clean, with no sex and only minor swearing. I guess it is rated PG13 because of 1 f-word but really other than that, it could have been PG. Which shows again, one does not need swearing, violence or sex to make an excellent movie. This movie is highly recommended not only for Helen Mirren's performance but for those who have always wondered what royalty is really like and for those all those Anglophiles out there as well.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another Book Meme

actually I'm glad Rel tagged me on this one as I haven't finished my review for tonight, LOST season finale was on (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! want season 4 now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

The Rules Are:

Post your responses.
Tag anywhere from 1-5 friends.
Leave comments to let them know they've been tagged.
Come back and leave a comment when your post is up.

Ok, here goes:

Next 5 books on your to be read shelf:

Slightly Single by Wendy Markham
What the Cat Dragged In by Gilbert Morris
As I Loved You by Nikki Arana
Without a Trace by Colleen Coble
Moon Over Tokyo by Siri Mitchell

Last 4 books you've read:

These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson
Memories by Peggy Darty
The Buck Stops Here by Mindy Starns Clark
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling

Last 3 books you've borrowed (library or friend):

The Journey of Eleven Moons by Bonnie Leon
A Case of Bad Taste by Lori Copeland
The Miracle by Gilbert Morris

Last 2 non-fiction books you've read:

Will Write for Shoes by Cathy Yardley
Star Wars the Complete Visual Dictionary by David West Reynolds

The 1 book you wish everyone would read:

The Bible :)

I'm tagging Camy, Katie, Angie, and Sally

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Snitch by Rene Gutteridge

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(The Occupational Hazards)
(WaterBrook Press May 15, 2007)


Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


Old School meets New School meets Homeschool

Just shy of retirement and a well-earned pension, Las Vegas Police Department Sergeant Ron Yeager's definition of "active duty" involves shifting his bad leg into a more comfortable position. But when he's requested from his mind-numbing desk job to head an undercover auto theft task force, the former narcotics officer determines to prove he's still got the right stuff.

That is...until he meets his unlikely team of officers.

As Yeager soon finds out, not all the crazies are on the street. An undercover rookie, the audaciously honest Mackenzie "Mack" Hazard sends Yeager's blood pressure skyrocketing by wearing her faith like an ever-present badge. Then there's Jesse Lunden, a maverick undercover officer who refuses to learn anything from an old guy with a cane. Can this tangle of egos and eccentrics be trained into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine...even while they are being drawn into something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined?

In her trademark style, Rene Gutteridge blends zany, original characters, sincere faith, and surprising plot twists into one hilariously addictive read.

"Snitch is an engaging crime novel, balanced between sheer whimsy and genuine human drama."
....CHRIS WELL, author of Tribulation House

"A wonderful, fully developed ensemble cast makes Snitch an entertaining, engaging read. Rene's flair for a comedic, well-turned phrase shines here. Snitch is worth snatching."
...SUSAN MEISSNER, author of Widows and Orphans

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Defiant Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Defiant Heart
(Avon Inspire May 8, 2007)


Tracey Bateman lives in Missouri with her husband and four children. Their rural home provides a wonderful atmosphere for a writer'simagination to grow and produce characters, plots, and settings.

In 1994, with three children to raise, she and her husband agreed that she should go to college and earn a degree. In a freshman English class, her love for writing was rekindled, and she wrote a short story that she later turned into a book.

Her college career was cut short with the news of their fourth baby's impending arrival, but the seeds of hope for a writing career had already taken root. Over the next several years she wrote, exchanged ideas with critique partners, studied the craft of writing, and eventually all the hard work paid off.

She currently has over twenty-five books published in a variety of genres. Tracey Bateman believes completely that God has big plans for his Kids and that all things are possible to anyone who will put their hope and trust in God!


Will Fannie be able to keep her family...and her heart, safe and find a new life on the frontier?

Book One of the Westward Hearts series, orphans Fannie Caldwell and her two young siblings have spent the last three years as indentured servants under a cruel master. Desperately wanting a better life for her brother and sister, Fannie devises a plan to secretly join a wagon train heading west.

Her plan immediately runs into trouble when the handsome yet bullheaded wagon master Blake Tanner refuses to allow an unmarried woman on the train.

But Fannie's determined...she'll escape and go west with or without help!

As life on the trail tests everyone's endurance and faith, Fannie soon realizes the perils of being a single woman on the frontier. Witnessing Fannie fending off one scare after another, Blake slowly recognizes how much he cares for this alluring young woman.

Will Blake sacrifice his own dreams and guide Fannie to safety?
Or will Fannie's stubborn independence keep her from finding true love?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Book Review: "The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling" by Neta Jackson

Keep On Rollin, Baby

Jodi and Co. are back again in the 6th book in the series. This time the gals are facing what happens when those you love become old and die, HIV scares, kids in jail, teenage heartbreak, devastating fires, surprise engagements, and rollerskating boycotts. Everyone, from their kids to the women themselves, seems to do a bit of growing up in this book from the experiences they face. Once again laughter and tears will accompany the latest edition in this series where the women will make you feel as if you are part of their group.

Each Yada Yada Prayer Group book just gets better and better. I think that this one, the 6th book in the series, is now my personal favorite. For once, I did not find a single character annoying or any situation to be too outrageous. The women once again face real, true to life issues that affect many women today. I felt the HIV crisis was handled really well and I hope that nothing more devastating will come from it. I also really liked the Passover scene when Ben finally realizes the connection between Jesus and Passover. It was made especially powerful because it was the children who opened up his eyes. And I really thought the prison drama scene was brilliant. Excellent idea for a school play.

I nearly cried when Willy Wonka got too old and passed away. I too have a dog myself and am dreading the day when that will happen to our family. Pets can be very special to people, even more so than actual human beings. I also liked how Chanda has changed from spending her new lottery money on herself to giving to those who really need it. Even Jodi herself notices the changes and learns to appreciate who Chanda really is. It's nice to see some of the minor Yada Yada sisters mature and grow in their personality. My only complaint is that there is now another new member of the group and it's getting harder to keep up with everyone again, just when I had it all straightened out! But if all goes as what group members have in mind, that won't be problem for long. The ending gives you a cliffhanger with both Jodi and myself with our mouths hanging open. I want next book now to find out what happens!! Excellent writing, easily one of the best series for women out there. Start from book one and I swear you won't be disappointed.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling by Neta Jackson is published by Thomas Nelson (2007)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Christian Fiction Challenge- May ( Law enforcement/Military/Mom-lit)

  • Title: The Buck Stops Here
  • Author: Mindy Starns Clark
  • Copyright: 2004
  • How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile? About 3 months
  • What made you buy/borrow the book in the first place? It's the last book in the Million Dollar Mystery Series and I had read all the others.
  • What were your thoughts on the story? Excellent book, great way to end the series. I wish there was more. I also wish I could give more details but I will when I write out my full review for the book, so look for it in a month or so :) Let's just say I learned tons about government jobs and what the NSA really does. Something interesting I did notice about the cover of the book, I read the large print version because the regular edition was checked out. My copy had the Sacajawea dollar coin on the front while the regular version has the older Susan B. Anthony dollar on it. Just a casual observance.
  • Now do you wish you read the book sooner? Definitely, I wish I had discovered Mindy Starns Clark when her books originally came out, but better late than never eh?
  • Any questions/statements for the author? One more book with Callie and Tom? Maybe they could somehow meet up with Jo and Danny from the Smart Chick series?
  • Where will the book reside now? Currently it's in a pile on the floor waiting to get back to the library, but I would like to own the whole series eventually one day.
  • The challenge is to read a book about mothers, law enforcement, or the military. Did the story showcase these professionals in a new light? Did you find a new appreciation for being a mom, being in law enforcement or being in the military? If you do, thank one/all of these professionals for a job well done! Yes, I learned tons about the NSA while reading this book. Very interesting to have a somewhat inside look at what goes on to protect the citizens of the country and we have no idea that it's going on. It is also a demanding job to have because of all the secrecy so it must be really hard for the families to go through this. They've earned my respect.
Join the Christian Fiction Challenge! Next month is June- Dad-lit or Beach Read-if it fits in your beach bag...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Movie Review: "Night at the Museum"

I have always loved museums growing up. I loved visiting art museums and the children's museum. My absolute favorite museum is the Smithsonian Institution especially the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum. When I visited them in middle school on a field trip, I never felt like I could see everything because of the time restraint. Even when going back this past February I still felt like I hadn't seen everything yet. This is probably why I really want to get a job in a museum now. I really enjoy learning about things while having fun at the same time. Museums are interactive and not boring anymore. You no longer have to be quiet, you can touch exhibits and even take pictures inside.

So when I saw the trailer for Night at the Museum, I was anxiously waiting for its release. First off any movie with Ben Stiller is bound to be funny (Zoolander, Meet the Parents, Dodgeball). Second I loved the idea of a museum coming to life at night. That would be incredibly freaky to experience. Ben Stiller was good in his role, as Larry, a night guard at the history museum in Boston trying to prove to his son that he can keep his job. The special effects I thought was really good. Loved the miniatures, especially the scene when Larry gets tied up by Owen Wilson and gang and the train rushes to hit him.

The acting is wonderful. Who would have thought Dick Van Dyke or Mickey Rooney would be bad guys? I mean it's really inconceivable to have that picture. I loved Owen Wilson's character and his interaction with Ben Stiller. His relationship with Steve Coogan's character (Octavius) was hilarious as well. Especially the scene when they are letting out the air from the tires, because they are small it's really loud, but then the camera would pan away and no noise. I just about died laughing. Robin Williams was good in his role as Teddy Roosevelt too, it's nice to see him in roles where he's not too over the top. The monkey slapping scene was a riot as well.

I was surprised at how clean this movie is. Like National Treasure (another great historical museum movie) this movie has very little language, no sex, no drinking or drugs, and only comic violence. It truly is a movie that the whole family can enjoy. It also goes to show that Hollywood can make good money making movies without having to venture into R or even PG13 waters. They need to take serious note of this. Best of all this movie shows that history and museums can be fun but you won't catch me staying at one overnight!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Book Review: "The Dream" by Gilbert Morris

This is definitely a Gilbert Morris book!

Not quite grown up Lanie Freeman is still taking care of her siblings while her father sits his sentence in jail. Along to help her is feisty over ninety Aunt Keiza who's lived so long she knows everything. Lanie's siblings are starting to grow up and she's put to the test of trying to keep them in stride. Cody becomes a zealous Christian while Maeva keeps testing Lanie's limit by being a teenager. Meanwhile Louise Langley is jealous of Lanie while her brother is taking an interest in her. The town doctor seems to be vying for her attention as well even though he's engaged to Louse. A pregnant girl is taken in by the family because she has no where else to go. Then to top it off there's a new preacher in town, one who wears jeans and rides a motorcycle. Fairhope is shaken up with his arrival, changing the lives of everyone who lives in the town.

Since I'm an avid Gilbert Morris reader, I picked up this book. I guess because I'm such a fan I feel like I have to read every book written by him. That said, I did enjoy this book over the past few I've read of his. The characters in this story are very colorful and bring life to the story. I find the background characters to be more interesting especially the restaurant group scenes. There is lots of historical fact and research done for the book and I enjoy all mention of the food that is eaten. I do like how Colin is a non typical pastor and he does grab the reader's attention from his first appearance. However once again what I find most annoying (but new readers won't notice) is recycled plot use. Why are there always characters that insist on sitting in the front row at church? There will be plenty of rows throughout the church but these characters always march right up in front under the nose of the preacher. The girl being disguised as a guy gets really old too because she doesn't really try hard to disguise herself (cut your hair instead of hiding it under a hat).

I really didn't like Lanie's brother after he became a Christian. While I was happy to hear that he became saved, I really think he went overboard with trying to convert others. Why would someone tear up a Bible and give people random pages expecting them to become saved without telling them about it? This character seemed very judgmental and stereotypical of a Christian trying to convert everyone. One more thing that really bugged me was when Colin and Louise finally kiss, they both back away immediately and the first thing Colin says is "Well I guess I shouldn't have done that." That phrase has been used too many times in Morris's books and just doesn't sound realistic at all. I also won't lie, i skipped over Lanie's poetry. I feel bad but it didn't really interest me.

I did enjoy the book but mostly out of loyalty for being a Morris fan. If you like historical fiction, then I think you'd enjoy it. Otherwise I think some of his older works are much better.

The Dream by Gilbert Morris is published by Zondervan (2006)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Orchard of Hope by Ann Gabhart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Revell March 1, 2007)

Ann Gabhart


Ann H. Gabhart has published a number of adult and young adult novels with several different publishers. The author of The Scent of Lilacs, Ann and her husband live a mile from where she was born in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. She is active in her country church, and her husband sings bass in a southern gospel quartet.

Nothing will be the same after the summer of 1964.

Drought has gripped the quiet Kentucky town of Hollyhill, and the town seems as if it is holding its breath--waiting. Jocie Brooke is nervous about starting high school. Her sister Tabitha is experiencing the weariness of waiting for a new baby. Her father David is feeling the timidity of those first steps toward true love. All of these pivotal steps in life are awaiting the Brooke family.

Into this cloud of tense anticipation, a black family from Chicago, the Hearndons move here to plant an orchard outside of town. Fresh off the Freedom Train, Myra Hearndon is sensitive to what the color of her skin may mean in a Southern town. Her family will have to contend with more than the dry ground and blazing sun as they try to create their ORCHARD OF HOPE.

Jocie finds herself befrending a boy that some townspeople shun. Due to unspoken racial lines in this southern town, the presence of these newcomers sparks a smoldering fire of unrest that will change Hollyhill..and Jocie...forever.

In this close-knit community, everything is about to change.

Let this riveting novel take you along to experience unexpected love, new life, and renewed faith amid life's trials.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Book Review: "Miss Match" by Erynn Mangum

Best Chick Lit Book of the Year

Lauren Holbrook has an uncanny knack for finding the perfect match for others. After all it was her that found the perfect guy for her sister. As a photographer working for her best guy friend Brandon, Lauren is now on the hunt to match her coworker Ruby with her singles pastor. Meanwhile the new (blond) secretary seems to have caught have caught Brandon's eye, while Ruby's brother Ryan seems to be interested in Lauren. Since she has sworn off marriage, this presents an interesting problem. Throw in a hypochondriac overprotective father, chocolate and coffee galore, uncooked Mexican food and numerous Pride and Prejudice quotes and you'll be having a blast as Lauren tries to successfully (and unsuccessfully) find the perfect mate for everyone except her own self.

Well, it's happened. I have found a new favorite chick lit author. This is one of the best chick lit books I have ever read. And what makes this book even more amazing is that the author is the same age as me! It's really awesome to read a book from someone who shares the same views and perspectives because we come from the same generation. Since the author is the same age as the main character, Lauren comes across as extremely realistic acting exactly as I would in certain situations. I find this very refreshing as compared to a 40 year old author trying to write as a 25 year old. Lauren is an excellent character. She dresses in old clothes, hangs out with guys as friends, and bonds with her dad. I love how Lauren really eats food, and doesn't worry about her diet. From greasy cheeseburgers to turtle pie cheesecake, this girl would rather feel full than try to be skinny. She also has one of the most random thinking patterns I have ever read about. I cracked up when reading the quote about Maid Marian's flower ring, I've always wondered about that too!! Loved all the Pride and Prejudice talk as well, especially with the mock English accents. All the characters in the story are really fleshed out. I liked how Hannah and Lauren's friendship grew in spite of Lauren's original thoughts. Brandon seems like a really good guy friend to have, albeit he can be very clueless. Lauren's relationship with her family is very touching, she obviously cares very much about her dad even though he drives her nuts. When I first started reading the book, I kept thinking I would know what happened at the end, who would end with who, believing it would follow the chick lit stereotype. I was happily proven wrong.

This is a fun and hilarious book that will make you say "This has happen to me before!" I cannot wait until the sequel comes out. Erynn Mangum has made a fantastic debut and other chick lit authors better be on the lookout!

Miss Match by Erynn Mangum is published by NavPress (2007)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Book Review: "Death of a Garage Sale Newbie" by Sharon Dunn

Shopping for a Murder

Ginger, Kindra, Suzanne, and Mary Margaret all love garage sales. To them, there's nothing more satisfying in life than finding a really good bargain. Clearance racks and midnight sales are their best friends. When one of the group doesn't show up at her own house for a meeting and turns up dead, the other three turn their bargain hunting skills into crime solving ones. Their detective work introduces them to new friends and very suspicious characters. Combing for clues becomes as easy as searching for cheap prices. The Bargain Hunters Network soon uncovers past secrets that want to stay hidden by those that will kill to stop them.

I love going to garage sales. Those are some of the best places to get really good deals on clothes, old records and best of all, books! I also like shopping for a good bargain. So I immediately connected with the characters in this book with their bargain hunting masterminding. I loved Sharon's Ruby Taylor mysteries so I was really looking forward to this book. I wasn't disappointed at all. I felt the mystery to be played out very well. The BHN members had to use their shopping skills to discover all the clues. Thus the reader went along for the ride with each member as they searched for reasons of Mary Margret's death. The characters are really fun to read. I liked the side stories about Ginger and her husband, and Tammy and her son. I felt that Kindra and Suzanne weren't fleshed out as much as Ginger, so I'm hoping that the next few books will focus more on them. I found Kindra to be an interesting character as she is much younger than the other characters and she is the type of character that one would wrongly judge by appearances. Her speech about Christian stereotypes, I felt, was dead on accurate. I also hope that Arleta will become a BHN member as I enjoyed her character as well. Once again Sharon Dunn has written an excellent book, a great read for old fans and new readers. If you enjoy cozy mysteries or shopping bargains this book is recommended for you.

Death of a Garage Sale Newbie
by Sharon Dunn is published by Multnomah (2007)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tribulation House by Chris Well

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! An extra special post is coming out today, May 11th, for an extra special author. The man who started to ball rolling for FIRST, Chris Well, has a new book out and we have decided to give him an extra plug.

So, give all your attention to:

Chris Well

and his book:


(Harvest House 2007)

Chris Well is founder of FIRST. He is an acclaimed novelist and award–winning magazine editor and has previously written the “laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers” Deliver Us from Evelyn and Forgiving Solomon Long(one of Booklist’s Top 10 Christian Novels of 2005). He has also contributed to 7ball, Infuze, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Chris and his wife live in Tennessee, where he is hard at work on his next novel.



I might as well just tell you right now, I killed Reverend Daniel Glory. Back there at the church, in his study.

But this is my story. Don't let anyone tell you different. My dad always said we all write our own story. Of course, I guess that's why it worked out so well for him.

Why did I kill Reverend Daniel Glory? Sure, it was an accident. More or less. At least, I think it was.

I don't know, we were arguing about the Rapture and it kind of got out of hand and then I just --

Wait. Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.

This all started about three months ago, when Reverend Daniel Glory told us we needed to do our Tribulation House earlier than --

Oh. Wait.

Okay, I guess this actually started last year when Marvin Dobbs left the church. Our church. The Last Church of God's Imminent Will.

A year ago last summer, Marvin left with some of the other families to start a new church, and he took his Armageddon House" multimedia show with him.

You do know about Armageddon House, right? Every Halloween for the past three or four years, Marvin and our team put together a special multimedia presentation explaining the Great Tribulation, which ends with the Battle of Armageddon.

Wait -- you don't know about the Great Tribulation? It's that seven-year period between the Rapture and the Triumphant Return of Jesus Christ, as described in the prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel and the Apostles Paul and John. After the Lord Jesus takes His Bride home, there are going to be seven years of horrible judgment inflicted on those who are left b --

What? The murder of Reverend Glory? I'm getting to that.

Well, anyway, when Marvin left to form his little offshoot splinter group, we discovered he had actually trademarked the name "Armageddon House." Imagine that.

When the board at church met to discuss the matter, we considered doing Armageddon House anyway without him. Just reconstruct it from memory and copy or use materials from previous years. Use the same name, business as usual. Just ignore the cease-and-desist letter, let God and His angels work that out.

But we decided we didn't want to be associated with Armageddon House anymore. I mean, if Marvin and his new "fellowship" planned to stage their own Armageddon House, the risk of confusion in the marketplace was enough to rebuild ours as a brand-new event.

Which is how we ended up with Tribulation House. It was an opportunity for a new beginning. We went through a whole list of potential names -- I came up with Kingdom Come, but was voted down -- before we settled on Tribulation House.

We sat down and worked through the whole grid. Instead of imagining how to simply explain or show a picture of each bowl of wrath and each trumpet of judgment, we created an entire theatrical event.

Yeah, we could have set up the charts and graphs and the overhead projector. But today's audience, this last generation, they're kind of jaded about flannel graph presentations, know what I mean?

These kids today, with their Spongebob Squarepants and their American Bandstand and their Buffy The Vampire Slayer, they need the bells and whistles and the like.

The kids don't need a lot of explanation. They need a demonstration.

You see, that was the challenge, wasn't it? It's one thing to say "the moon was blackened" or "the waters turned to blood" or "men were stung by enormous flying scorpions" -- but how do you make it happen right here, right before their eyes?

In the end, we created Tribulation House: A full-sensory immersive interactive dramatic theatrical evangelistic event that simulates what it will actually be like to live through the events of the Great Tribulation. An entire full-service prophetic experience.

You'd be surprised how much of it we accomplished with sound and light. We developed the various rooms throughout the church basement. Some college kids created soundscapes for each event. We wrote up a full script for the actors; they played everything from people caught up in the events, to the world armies fighting the Most Holy, to the father of lies himself, bound and thrown into the pit for a millennium.

The murder of Reverend Daniel Glory? I'm getting to that.

So we were working out the blueprints for creating Tribulation House as a major theatrical evangelistic full-sensory ministry outreach. We had debated the merits of various slogans for the event -- the leading contenders were WE'LL SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU; GET RIGHT OR GET LEFT; and THE TIME IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK. While the first slogan was a favorite of several board members, for its bracing, truthful stance, in the end we worried that the neighbors would misunderstand. So we went with the second slogan, for its simple, instructional message.

And I remember that our chief carpenter, Bill Broadstreet, was giving us his estimate for the physical construction to be done on the project. Suddenly, Reverend Daniel Glory burst in with some news.

"Friends!" There was a glow on the Reverend's face unlike we had seen before. The man stood there in the doorway to the church basement, leaning against the doorframe, wheezing to catch his breath. "Jesus is coming back!"

The room was silent. We all stared. At first, we wondered why he was saying this right then. After all, he preached on this topic every week. But then he dropped this bomb: "And I know when!"

Okay, that was a new one. Collectively, everyone in the room gasped. One of us, I don't even remember who it was, asked, "When, Reverend?"

"October 17."

Five months.

"5:51 a.m." Reverend Daniel Glory waved the papers clutched in his hand. Later, I would wonder what he was waving at us. His Bible study? His calculations? All I know is he grinned ear to ear and said, "The Rapture is going to happen at 5:51 a.m. on October 17."

Everyone around the meeting table reacted differently. Some were stunned into silence, others screamed with joy. One noisy woman loudly sobbed and clapped.

Reverend Daniel Glory came into room, face aglow with thrill and exhaustion, and dragged a chair from the wall over to our table. He sat, waiting until everyone was silent again. "I now have incontrovertible proof that the Rapture takes place this coming October."

I'm sure I grinned bigger than anyone in the room. "What reason do you have to say that?"

Reverend Daniel Glory looked at me and winked. "Why stop with one reason, boy? I got one hundred and seven of 'em!"

Of course, you know what this meant. We were going to have to step up the production of Tribulation House.

(I still can't believe it's not Kingdom Come.)

Chris Well’s laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers appeal to the millions of readers who gobble up the rollicking crime fiction of Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard. TRIBULATION HOUSE does not disappoint!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Book Review: "Kissing Adrien" by Siri Mitchell

An American Girl in Paris

Claire is an accountant who lives a life that is straightforward and without surprises. Then one day she is whisked away to Paris to set things straight about an inheritance given to her French born father. While she is there she is reunited with Adrien, her former crush, and soon is introduced into a world where the unexpected happens everyday. Claire soon learns to live her life to the fullest and enjoy her surroundings. And what would a story in Paris be without romance? As Adrien teaches Claire about this new life, she soon finds herself wishing he would take part in in it too.

I'm a huge chick lit fan and I've really enjoyed Siri Mitchell's books so I was very excited to pick up Kissing Adrien. The premise sounded really good and I love reading stories that take place in Europe. Paris is a city I really want to visit one day. What could be more chick lit than an American girl finding love in Paris? Well, unfortunately this book didn't meet all my expectations. I really did like the storyline about Claire going to Paris because she's inherited an apartment where the owner has her past shrouded in mystery. I loved reading about French culture and learning about the city and its inhabitants.

However I did not find the characters to my liking. The main thing that really bugged me was Adrien's insistence that Claire drink wine. She finally gave in to get him off her back. Now I do not drink, but I do not condemn those that drink socially. Why did Claire have to give in? If she did not want to drink, Adrien should have just dropped it. I did not like it that every time she would say no he would accuse her of being American and worrisome. I also didn't like how he threw away all her clothes. Yes he eventually apologized but I felt it was really rude. I also did not really like the attitude he had about her not really fitting into Paris because she was too American, didn't want to change, and was too close minded. The funny thing is I have met several European students who came here to study abroad and I found them constantly looking down on Americans and not trying to fit in at all while they were in college. So are Europeans just naturally snobby? Adrien just came off to be very much as a person who kept trying to change Claire to fit his ideals, and what's worse is that Claire allowed herself to change. I will admit some was for the better, but she didn't seem to have a backbone.

I am probably in the minority here about how I viewed the book. If you like chick lit I think you'd enjoy the book. And if you like reading about Paris and want to look like a local instead of a tourist, this book will definitely teach you how to be one.

Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell is published by Harvest House (2005)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ransomed Dreams by Amy Wallce

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Multnomah April 16, 2007)


Amy Wallace is a member of the CFBA and an avid Blogger. A self-confessed chocoholic, this freelance writer is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and serves as the liaison for the training division of the county police department. Amy is a contributing author of God Answers Moms' Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Teens, Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes, and A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Mothers. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three daughters.


Drama. Tragedy. Thriller. Romance. Can these four actually go together? Amy Wallace's meaty first book of the Defenders of Hope Series, RANSOMED DREAMS, has successfully united these genres.

It is one of those books that after you read a little and put it down, the desire to see what will happen next is so strong that it will occupy your thoughts, compelling you to make the time to finish. But watch out! It is best consumed where no one will hear you cry because, if you have children, it will hit you like a stab in the gut and wrench you with a twist of the knife.

Although the subject at first depresses, the characters are so real and likable that you need to see what will become of them.

This book will NOT bore you.


Chained To Yesterday

When tragedy struck and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.

Forgiveness Unlocks the Future

An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people’s children and nights caring for his son. He’s through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both, and definitely doesn’t expect what’s coming next.

The Past Is the Key

A plot to kidnap a British ambassador’s daughter dangerously intersects Steven and Gracie’s worlds–a collision that demands a decision. But are they willing to pay the high ransom required to redeem dreams and reignite hope?


Steeped in police intrigue and rich characters, Ransomed Dreams entertains, educates, and captivates. Amy Wallace is a fresh, vibrant voice in the Christian market

~Mark Mynheir, Homicide Detective and Author of The Void

Ransomed Dreams had me hooked from the start and didn't let go until the deeply satisfying ending.

~Kristin Billerbeck, Author of What a Girl Wants

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Book Review: "Hot Flashes and Cold Cream" by Diann Hunt

The Joys of Growing Older

Maggie is feeling old. Her kids are out of the house, she's getting hot flashes, and her husband seems to be looking at younger women. Her best friend also seems to be more concern with dating than hanging around Maggie. Maggie is all ready to accept the fate of a mid life crisis when she meets a young woman at a coffee house who seems to need a "motherly" type figure in her life. With true to life descriptions and humor that will make the reader giggle and groan, this grown up chick lit novel is perfect for those who can't wait to get older and those who wish they could stop.

So I'm not a baby boomer. In fact I'm pretty much the same age as the kids of the main characters in this book. You'd think I wouldn't enjoy it because of the generation gap. WRONG. I totally enjoyed this fun and humorous book that women of all ages will enjoy. What I found most interesting about the book was how insecure most women, even Christian women, really are. It seems that everyone is afraid about losing their husband to someone who is younger or who they think looks better than them. Women are always comparing themselves and therefore creating low self esteem. Of course men don't help out with this, as Gordon doesn't really reassure Maggie that he doesn't go for the blond type. The writing is top notch, I felt like I was a part of the story. I also really enjoyed seeing Maggie's relationship grow with Lily. And it was cool to read a mom drinking frappachinos and ending up working behind the counter in a coffee shop. I also love the Chihuahua who pees when nervous! I think it'd be cool to have her as a mom. There are some times where I would get frustrated with her actions, like her getting ticked at her daughter for being friends with her mother in law or when she stalks her best friend while she's dating. But then I realize that Maggie is having empty nest syndrome and is therefore frustrated with her life. It makes me want to learn to make sure to take time to enjoy my own life, and not just focus it on others so that way I know that I am meaningful. Excellent mom/lady lit book that everyone will enjoy.

Hot Flashes and Cold Cream by Diann Hunt is published by Thomas Nelson (2005)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Book Review: "Love Me If You Must" by Nicole Young

I see Dead People in My Basement

Tish Amble has moved to the small town of Rawlings with the intent of renovating an old Victorian house. Her plans are thwarted though when she sees a dead body buried in a cistern in her basement. However to her disbelief, no one believes her and worse no one will help her try to get started in the renovations. A cast of supporting characters help to fill out the story including the cute British neighbor who's getting over a divorce from his high profile wife and the cute cop who seems to be everywhere Tish is. With a past that keeps haunting her, Tish is determined to find out why there is a body in her home, why other dead bodies keep popping up, who is behind all this, and how to let go of her past.

I thought this was an excellent debut for Nicole Young. This book got me hooked from the very beginning. Tish was such a complex character, yet because the book is written in first person the reader sympathizes with her. She's a very headstrong woman who is very suspicious of everyone because of her past. It makes it hard for her to trust people. Thus she has problems at first with trusting her neighbors especially Brad, the policeman. Tish's past is told throughout the story, intertwining with the current events. It's very heart wrenching to read about what she had to go through. The mystery itself is played out really well. There are very spine-tingling scenes that will make you want to read this book in the daylight. She's really brave to stay in the house even after other people have told her it was haunted. I also liked learning about the renovation plans Tish had for the house. It's interesting to think about how one can make something old and decrepit into new and worthy. The ending caught me by surprise and really makes me look forward to reading the next book. This book is a great start for a new author.

Love Me If You Must by Nicole Young is published by Revell (2007)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I got tagged!

I don't ever get tagged so since Rel decided to tag me with a meme, I thought what the heck, I'll do it.

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

8 random facts/habits about me ...

1. I am absolutely terrified of Ronald McDonald. I don't have a fear about other clowns but Ronald scares me to death. I had a dream when I was five that the whole world had turned into Ronald McDonalds and it was only me and my sister that was safe. We were running and hid behind a car and then I remember turning to talk to her and she had red hair. To this day, if I see a Ronald McDonald, I quickly walk away. The irony of this is my boyfriend has red hair....

2. I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I've seen all the movie millions of times and I still cry at the end of Return of the Jedi. The irony of this is that I only got into Star Wars in 1999 AFTER Phantom Menace was released. I didn't even know Harrison Ford had been in the original trilogy. Someone loaned us the VHS of the OT and after that we were hooked. I plan on playing the Throne Room March as my wedding recessional :)

3. I am a NASCAR fan which people find odd because I am Asian. The truth is, the real reason why I got into NASCAR is because I thought Dale Earnhardt Jr was cute. And now Kasey Kahne is really cute too. I still watch the races even though you never see their actual faces for the whole race.

4. I got to meet Dale Earnhardt Jr when he came to Norfolk a few years ago. I walked up to the table and intended on telling him he should come to VT (where I was at the time) and party with us. Instead what came out was, "You're hotter in person than you are on TV". He kinda of smiled and said "Um, Thanks." I felt embarrassed.

5. I broke my leg roller skating when I was 18. The break was so bad that while my knee was turned completely left, my foot was still completely vertical. I have a metal plate and pins (no I don't set off security gates) and it hurts when it's really cold.

6. I have flown around the world! My mother is from Malaysia so we have visited back there twice as a family. In 1991 we flew the Pacific way, and in 1997 we flew the Atlantic way. It's a beautiful country btw.

7. Right before I started this blog in August, I had about 210 Christian fiction and chick lit books. Since then my library has grown to over 600 books. That's over 400 books in 9 months! My boyfriend jokes that I'll have 5000 by the time we get married.

8. The first Christian fiction adult book I read was Janette Oke's Love Come Softly when I was 8 years old. I enjoyed the story, but I couldn't understand the "prairie way" of talking the characters used. I didn't finish the rest of the series because of that. I didn't pick up the series again until 5 years later, reread the book, loved it, and have since collected every single Janette Oke title.

Well, I'm tagging whoever wants to be tagged!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Movie Review: "Moe and the Big Exit"

I am a HUGE Veggie Tales fan. I have seen all but 2 of the Veggie Tales DVDs numerous times. I mean what's not to like about the show? Talking vegetables absolutely rock. What I love about the show is that while it's aimed at kids, there's so much stuff that is there for adults as well. They're like the Pixar movies with bits of trivia and jokes thrown in that will go right over the kids heads. The writing is sharp and funny and while the messages are righteously religious they are never too preachy.

All the veggie characters are great too. Larry is my favorite, he's just so darn cute. Him and Bob make the best stand up duo. I love the French peas too ("You silly little pickle!"). I personally enjoy the later editions in the series as opposed to the earlier ones. For one, the writing is more top notch as is the animation. And I'm sorry but I'm not really a Junior Asparagus fan. He comes off being whiny to me. The newer ones are more Larry centric, which I don't mind as Larry is the best Veggie, IMO. I love Larry Boy and Minnesota Cuke, and of course Silly Songs with Larry is the best bit of the show. My favorite: "Pizza Angel" from Minnesota Cuke which has the best tune out of them all. Oh and my all time favorite Veggie Tale: "Lord of the Beans" which spoofs LOTR the movies to a tee. SPORKS!!!

Moe and the Big Exit is the story of Moses done western style. It's also a sequel to Little Joe which was the story of Joseph. I like these Veggie style versions of Bible stories, it gives a funny version of the real story. Larry is Moe or the Lone Stranger as he becomes retelling the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. I love the Veggie Version of the staff ("Hi Ho Sliver Away!") with the most non threatening version of the snake that I have ever seen. Charlton Heston's got nothing next to Larry the Cucumber. I also really liked the "Red Sea" becoming the Snow Path. The plagues were funny too. And those buffalo! Did you see how it waddled??? My only gripe was that I didn't really find the Boyz in the Sink song very memorable. I liked the Belly Button song but I can't even remember what this one was about.

If you've never watched a Veggie Tales DVD, I really urge you too. Don't use the excuse that you don't have kids. I guarantee that you will find yourself chuckling yourself over any one of the episodes. Like Monty Python? Josh and the Big Wall. Indiana Jones? Minnesota Cuke. Shakespeare? Lyke and the Kindly Viking. Batman? Any Larry Boy movie. Don't forget the silly songs on just about anything - pirates, cheeseburgers, tall hats, Sport Utility vehicles. Yes, Veggie Tales is the best thing about there.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Book Review: "Norah's Ark" by Judy Baer

Chick lit for pet lovers

Norah loves pets. Pets love Norah. So it's no surprise she owns a pet store. Pets come before men which mean that Norah doesn't have a boyfriend. That's about to change when the new police officer (who happens to ride a horse) comes to town and Norah catches his eye. It seems also that the guy her best friend is in love with instead wants Norah, and then her best guy friend keeps hinting that he wants more than friendship. But Nick is the guy Norah wants and she thinks that it will be the perfect match except for one small problem. Nick hates dogs, especially Norah's dog. He gives her an ultimatum: dog or him. Norah's choice will have a profound impact on the rest of her life.

I'm a pet lover so of course I enjoyed this book. Reading about a woman who loves pets so much and therefore owns a pet shop would be like me owning a book store. I like the town with their street of shops. It sounds like it'd be a really nice place to visit and spend the day. The townspeople were really interesting to read about as well. Lily is eccentric but I would love to visit her shop. I liked Norah's relationship with her elderly neighbor. The new people in town were interesting to read about as well, since the reader becomes suspicious of the son with the recent vandalism creeping into the town.

I liked Nick but
I'm really glad that Norah did not give in to Nick's demands. I hate reading books where women are the ones that have to do the sacrificing in order to keep their men. I understand that Nick had some fear about past experiences with dogs, but he did not even try to compromise with Norah and Bentley. I almost was happy when it looked like she was going to choose her dog over him. Pets have a special relationship to people, sometimes they are closer friends than other humans because they are loyal no matter what. They love you for who you are and not because of how you look, pets are nonjudgmental unlike people. This book, in my opinion, was so much better than Million Dollar Dilemma. The characters in this story were more likable, and more convincing in character. Wonderful chick lit read.

Norah's Ark by Judy Baer is published by Steeple Hill (2006)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tribulation House by Chris Well

This week


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Harvest House 2007)


Chris Well is a fellow member of the CFBA and founder of its sister organization, FIRST. He is an acclaimed novelist and award–winning magazine editor and has previously written the “laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers” Deliver Us from Evelyn and Forgiving Solomon Long(one of Booklist’s Top 10 Christian Novels of 2005). He has also contributed to 7ball, Infuze, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Chris and his wife live in Tennessee, where he is hard at work on his next novel.



Mark Hogan has it all. The job. The family. A position on the board at church. All he’s missing is a boat. Not just any boat—a 2008 Bayliner 192.

When Reverend Daniel Glory announces that the Rapture is taking place on October 17 at 5:51am, Hogan realizes his boat–buying days are numbered. So he does what any man in his situation would do—he borrows a load of money from the mob.

Not that there’s any risk involved: After all, when the Rapture comes, Hogan will be long gone. The mob will never find him.

But when Jesus fails to come back on schedule, Mark Hogan finds the mob is in no mood to discuss the finer points of end–times theology...

Chris Well’s laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers appeal to the millions of readers who gobble up the rollicking crime fiction of Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard. TRIBULATION HOUSE does not disappoint!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Heir by Paul Robertson

It is May 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:

Paul Robertson

and his book:


(Bethany House March 1, 2007)


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.


I couldn't take my eyes off the casket. It was expensive, and it glowed, resting among the candles and the heaps of flowers. It so perfectly expressed the man inside.

The dignitaries droned, and I didn't hear them. We knew it all. We knew what he had done with his life. If a man knows his purpose, then everyone else will know it, too.

They'd been told what to say and to keep it short, and they obeyed. They'd all gotten where they were by doing what they were told.

It was tribute by catalog listing: achievements, philanthropy, and Senate career. The real man was never mentioned—the companies he inherited, the rivals he crushed, the cold blood behind the politics—but everyone knew. Was anyone else listening? It's easy to eulogize a man who knew why he lived his life.

I just stared at that gleaming box and wondered why I was living mine.

We sang a hymn, and that brought me back—words obscure enough to drive any clear thoughts from a man's brain. A voice behind me sang off-key.

I watched the man's wife instead. Her name was Angela, and she was sitting between my brother, Eric, and me. I might have given her a hug, but she had always objected to my familiarity. It was nothing personal; she objected to anyone. Her brother and sister were not at the service.

She was his second wife. The other one died young of cancer, which had been worth a lot of sympathy in his first election. If he had grieved for her, I wouldn't know.

I looked back. The off-key voice behind me was another senator, a man I'd never liked. He had no speaking part. It was probably a snub.

For a moment it seemed a pity the whole thing was going by so fast. The church was flawless, and the funeral was such a good use for it. Now I even knew the true purpose of candles: to reflect off that casket. They were going to look tacky anywhere else. And there I was staring at it again.

Candles knew their purpose, but I didn't have a clue about mine.

The governor said his few words about what he had felt when he heard about the accident—the shock and sadness, the great man cut down in his prime, what a loss to the state. He shook his head at the whole sad mystery of life and death and checked his watch.


I pushed past Katie and got up to the pulpit. Now the box was right in front of me, shining like a waxed floor. I needed something else to look at.

The back wall of the place had a row of statues in it, saints or angels, and one had his hand up waving at me. I never had written anything to say.

"Why am I here?" The little saint seemed friendly, so I figured I'd just talk to him. "I wish I knew." Maybe it was a her, not a him. They all wear robes.

"I think he could have told me. He knew why he was here, what he was doing. He never doubted anything he did." Somehow, I was staring at the casket again. I found my friend on the wall. "Maybe he is now."

They were all watching me, but I watched the back of the church. "The one thing I ever really knew for sure in my life was that he was there. I only saw him a few times a year and I won't miss him for that. It's more like a mountain is gone—one you'd see off in the distance."

Katie wanted me to be impressive for the assembled personages. She knew they'd be measuring and calculating, putting me in their equations. After three years of marriage, she also knew me enough to know I didn't care. I did hope she wasn't embarrassed. Her mother was sitting behind her and she'd be embarrassed enough for all of us.

I wouldn't inherit anything anyway. It was all going to his foundation. Eric and I would just get our monthly checks, as we always had.

The saint's stone hand was palm up, as if it had been holding something that had just flown away. "Anyway, he's gone and we're still here, so we'll get by without him." I finally got myself to look at the people. What a well-dressed crowd. "And everything he knew about life is gone with him, so I'll get by without that, too."

I didn't have anything else to say. I smiled at Angela, and then I nodded at Eric on her other side.

I waited at the end of the pew as Eric got out, and he patted me on the back. Katie gave me a tight smile as I sat. She was annoyed, but not mad.

Eric was tall, dark, and clueless behind the heavy wood pulpit. We look alike, especially with him wearing one of my suits. For all the money he has, he'd never figured out how to buy clothes. It was loose on him, and maybe that was why he looked so young. Or maybe it was because he was so young. There were no questions about life beneath that spiky black hair.

But he kept his eyes on the audience the whole time and told them what a loving father the man had been. He did a good job. I appreciated him because he did the right thing, what I should have done, and maybe he thought what he said was true.

Then the priest said whatever he had to, and it was over. When I got out into the light of day, I was so glad it had lasted no longer than it did.

* * *

The rest of the festivities went about the same. In the limo, Katie chattered and Angela sighed about how nice the service had been. Eric was watching boats in the bay.

I watched them, too. I prefer water to land because land is unmoving; the water is never still and has nothing fixed. Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound, Block Island Sound—we were surrounded by silent waters named for the lands that confined them.

Eric turned to me. "What did you mean, you wouldn't miss him?"

"That's not what I said."

"And what were you looking at?"


He turned back to the boats and I did, too. I would rather have been out there. Anyone whose ancestors lived on these coasts would feel the same pull.

Across from me, Katie was glaring, so maybe she was mad after all. She had her hair down straight, over her shoulders. Her simple, dark blue dress with the string of pearls was as perfect as the church. She had me done up just right, too, with the black suit she'd picked out a year ago for weddings and funerals. She had a tailor come every six months to keep all the suits fitted. That's why it hung so loose around Eric's shoulders.

Change the subject. "He really was a great man," I said to Angela.

She smiled, and it was genuine. The funeral had penetrated the pink plastic armor. She wasn't even fifty. Her husband had been fifteen years older, but she'd still expected a lot more years with him. They'd been married for nineteen.

Katie smiled at me, and I was out of trouble. I pushed my luck.

"What do you think he would have been most proud of?"

"Most proud?" Angela always spoke so quietly, like a kitten. I'd wondered if it was an act, but it was no asset to a political wife, being so fluffy. She wasn't striking or brilliant. Why did he marry her? He must have actually loved something about her. I wouldn't even recognize her without the platinum hair and bubblegum lipstick. "He did so much. He didn't enjoy Washington, but he accomplished so much there. He was happier here at home. And he was proud of his foundation. I think that's what he was most proud of."

Not of his sons. Not of his oldest son, anyway. "I hope it will keep going," I said.

"Mr. Kern will run it. He's always done such a good job there. And now he'll have charge of all of Melvin's companies."

Melvin. The name of the deceased hovered in the air for a moment like cigarette smoke, and Nathan Kern's name was the smell of stale beer that went with it so well. I was not a patron of that saloon. I'd get my little allowance, and the big wad would go to the foundation. Melvin had made it very clear that Eric and I should have no expectations beyond simply living in the style to which we had become accustomed.

We were born to be idle rich, Eric and I, and we'd never risen above it. I wondered what our new allowance would be. Katie was feeling constrained by our thirty thousand a month.

Ahead of us, the hearse turned onto the gravel road into the cemetery. We parked beside it. As we waited for the other cars to park, I walked to the open grave. What a view he'd have, of the cliffs and the waves breaking. I was about fifty feet from the edge of the grass, and it was twenty feet straight down from there into the violent water. In a thousand years the whole place would be gone, worn down by the surf. Usually he planned better than that, but while it lasted, it would definitely be a view to die for.

There were six pallbearers. Nathan Kern and the governor took the middle on each side, for show. The casket was heavy, though, and it needed at least four strong men out of the six. So Eric and I were in front, and two gardeners from the estate were in back. We walked the short distance slowly. The sun was bright, between clouds; the better to dramatize the moment. The mourners added darker colors to the brilliant blue and greens, and the brown of the earth piled by the grave.

Five minutes after we set the box down, we were done with the words and the gardeners were lowering it into the ground. I took the shovel they handed me and dropped some ceremonial dirt down on top of the box, and then a couple more good heavy loads just for the exercise. I was just kicking into gear, and I would have filled the whole pit, but then I had to stop. I felt lightheaded and my vision blurred and my breath stuck in my throat, and that was when I knew he was gone. I dropped the shovel and walked over to the cliff, and I didn't know if the pounding I heard was the waves or my own blood filling my ears.

Then Katie was beside me. "Jason? Are you all right, dear?"

I nodded. Wherever we all end up going, he was there now—where he knew the answers to all my questions and where I couldn't ask them of him. I looked around again at the strength and ferocity of that place with its hard stone and unrelenting breakers. It was everything hard, without mercy or forgiveness. I hoped he'd enjoy it.

"Come on, let's go back." Katie sounded nervous. She knew me well enough to want me away from the cliff.

"Don't worry." The moment was over. I took her hand and we strolled back to the others.

* * *

We stood for the right number of minutes in the rolling clouds and sun, nodding to the mourners, saying the proper words. The cloud shadows were chill, a reminder that the New England summer would soon have its own abrupt end.

"I'm getting cold, dear."

I hadn't noticed Francine next to us. The last I'd seen her, she'd been talking to the senator.

"You should go home, Mother," Katie said. "I'll call tonight." We watched her skitter across the grass, like a little crab.

"I'm getting cold, too," I said.

"No, you aren't."

"Let's go home anyway."

My own car was waiting for us. I was about to open the door for Katie when Melvin's lawyer waddled over to us.

Fred Spellman was a nice man. He must have been very smart to have been Privy Counsellor, but I'd never seen him in action. To us, he had always been Uncle Fred, and I had better childhood memories of him than of Melvin.

He gave me a paternal pat on the back and kissed Katie's hand, and I might have thought he'd been crying. But he took a deep breath and pulled himself together.

"Well, well." Then he paused and took another breath and tried again. "Well. We have some things to discuss, Jason, my boy. I need to have you and Eric come see me."

"Right. The reading of the will."

Melvin's secretary, Pamela, was next to us. She really had been crying, and she still was. She hugged Katie, patted my shoulder, and walked on, all without words. I watched her.

"It won't take long," Fred was saying. "Would tomorrow morning be too soon? Or do you need time to ... adjust? I don't want to hurry you, but there are some things that will need attention, sooner rather than later."

"That's fine. The body's still warm, but at least it's underground." I looked away from Pamela to my watch. "We could do it right now, sitting on his grave. That would be poetic. I'll call Eric."

"He's not serious," Katie said. "What time tomorrow?"

Maybe I had gone too far with him. He stared at me in a way I hadn't seen. "Nine o'clock?" he suggested. "Eric is available."

"What about Angela?" I said. "The grieving widow, you know. The scene wouldn't be complete."

"She will have her own meeting."

"Whatever." I opened the door and Katie slipped in. "May I bring my wife?"

"That will be at your discretion." He smiled, the old teddy bear smile. "I think you should. It helps to face these things together."

I shrugged. "It's really not a big deal, Fred. Not to me. We'll just putter along like always. Nathan Kern will have the headaches."

That look again. I couldn't read it, and it was not from the kindly family friend I'd always known. But then we both turned to watch Eric vroom vroom out of the cemetery on his Yamaha. Nice touch, or it would have been if the thought had occurred to him. I would have done the motorcycle-at-the-funeral thing to make some kind of statement. He did it because he was oblivious.

Or maybe the bike was the most presentable thing he had. None of his five cars was very solemn. The leather jacket was going to mangle the borrowed suit.

"Tomorrow morning, nine o'clock."

"I'll be there, Fred."

I got in the car, but not fast enough. Nathan Kern floated elegantly up to the window.

"Jason! I don't know what to say." Not that that had ever stopped him from saying it. "It just doesn't seem possible." If Fred was the king's chamberlain, Nathan was the archbishop.

"Apparently it was," I said. I was the court jester.

"We will need to talk. I know the foundation will be as important for you as for your father." Selfless nobility, thy name is Nathan Kern.

"I don't plan to have much part in it."

He was surprised at that, and he shouldn't have been. He knew me better. "But it was always Melvin's foremost concern." His elegant fingers were trembling. I thought the diamonds would fall out of his cuff links.

"He left his estate to it. I feel sorry for you, Mr. Kern. You have some big responsibilities now." I was getting tired of the day or I might have been a little nicer. I could feel Katie preparing the lecture. "Give me a week, and I'll be glad to come see you." By then I might even build up some curiosity about him and his world. There had to be something beneath the sanctimony.

"Yes, yes, of course," he said.

I took that as a good-bye and closed my window.

* * *

We finally got out onto the road. "You could have acted like an adult," Katie said.

"That's not my way."

We'd come up behind a truck, and there was no place to pass. The coast road went on a few more miles like this, two winding lanes. "Everyone there was looking to you to take your father's place."

"I'd rather die."


I punched the accelerator and passed blind on a curve. The road ahead was clear so I kept the speed up. Katie held on to her shoulder belt.

"You don't have to kill me, too."

I slowed down. "All right, I won't. But the only reason I'm not taking this car off a cliff is because I don't want to die the same way Melvin did."

"Thank you." She would have bitten through the guardrail, her jaw was clenched so tight. I needed to make a gesture.

There was a gas station after a few minutes, and I stopped beside some landscaping and pulled up two flowers.


She relented. "I accept your apology." We got back out on the road and she held them, treating them with far more respect than they deserved. "Why did I marry you, anyway?"

"For my money," I said.

"Then I made a big mistake." She said it with a smile, though, for which I was very grateful. "I don't know if your money is worth putting up with you. If you worked with those people—Nathan Kern and all the rest of them—you could be rich."

"I am rich."

"Not as rich as you could be." The edges of the smile hardened a little. "He'd put you on the board of the foundation, and you could get control of everything your father had." She looked out the window. "It should have been yours anyway."

"Look, all I did was get born into this family," I said. "It wasn't my choice. As long as they send my check each month, nobody gets hurt. If they want anything else I'll inflict damage." I waited until she looked back at me. The two daisies in her hand were a little damaged. "You like your flowers?"


The road was bending through hills, away from the ocean. I stopped again, just off the edge, where the guardrail actually was bitten through. Out of the car, I stood and looked down the hillside at the scraped dirt and torn bushes and the broken tree at the bottom. They'd cleaned away the wreckage, every piece of it.

Katie got out with me.

"Why am I here?" I said. "What is the point?"

She pulled a knot of wildflowers from the ground, much nicer than the daisies, and handed it to me.


"You don't need to apologize for anything," I said.

"I just want to give you some flowers."

I stood for a moment. Then I tossed them down the steep hill and the wind caught them and they landed just where his car had. I'd seen it there, with yellow police tape and spotlights, and the trucks pulling it up the embankment.

"He's gone, Jason," she said. "It might really be different now."

Excerpted from:The Heir by Paul Robertson

Copyright © 2007; ISBN-13 9780764203244

Published by Bethany House Publishers

Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.