Friday, June 29, 2007

Movie Review: "The US Vs. John Lennon"

I am a huge Beatles fan. They've been my favorite band since The Beatles Anthology came out when I was in 7th grade. I've endured lots of teasing for liking a band that's been around for over 40 years but I don't care. The Beatles are the ones that shaped all types of music to the way they are today.

Anywho so I picked up this documentary because it's about a former Beatle. I figured this would be a political movie and I knew he was very into the peace movement but I didn't really know the whole story. I learned a lot of stuff while watching this movie. Many other biographies and movies about John Lennon gloss over or completely omit his political movements. For someone who was not from our country, he was very passionate about what he believed in. I didn't realize how much the US government was afraid of him and how they tried to get him kicked out of the country. You don't think about it when you see John as the moptop Beatle from the 60s who everyone loves. To think that it went all the way up to the President is kind of scary. I'm not saying that all his decisions were justified or that I agreed with everything he said. I just found it interesting about how scared the government was at the time about what a rock star's opinions would do for young people. Today celebrities say stuff all the time but no one really takes it seriously that it will affect a huge deciding factor.

What was also great was all the music that was in the film. Many of John's popular songs from the 70s were included as well as some of the more obscure ones. Also there were some Beatles songs and clips as well. There were really good interviews in here one especially with a anti war reporter who lambasted John for his beliefs.

The only thing I didn't like, yet it wasn't really an important subject matter for this movie, was that there was no mention of John's first son Julian. There's talk about Sean and the Beautiful Boy song but not even a picture of the 3 of them together. Of course Yoko is the one that helped out with this film, so that would have explained it. But I thought it would have made a nice touch.

I think if you're a Beatles fan you'll enjoy this documentary. If you are a John Lennon fan you'll definitely want to learn more about his political movements. If you grew up during this time period you'll feel nostalgic. History buffs will enjoy it too. It gives a fascinating picture to how popular culture will sway political beliefs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Divine Appointment by Jerome Teel and Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! 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, July 4th. Good luck!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT
(Howard Books June 5, 2007)
by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. He is also the author of The Election, another political thriller that we reviewed November of '06.

Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children...Brittney, Trey, and Matthew...and they reside in Tennessee where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

"They aren't hiding just one something, but a bunch of somethings..."


Small town southern lawyer, Elijah Faulkner is a dying breed...an attorney that actually takes pleasure in fighting injustice by working hard for the little guy. But when he takes on a case to defend a philandering doctor with a pregnant wife in a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial, Eli is not so sure he is on the 'right' side.

Back in Washington D.C., supreme Court Justice Martha Robinson has died, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for conservative President Richard Wallace to impact the direction of the highest court in the land. He believes God put him in the presidency for just such a time as this...to make a Divine Appointment. Not everyone is thrilled with the president's nominee, however. And some will stop at nothing, including murder, to prevent his confirmation by the Senate.

A lobbyist with a vendetta, a small-time Mafioso, an investigative reporter with a Watergate complex, and a powerful Washington political machine combine to create a fast-paced suspense novel that explores the anatomy of a murder, and the ripple effect that it creates across the country.

1. Who is the target audience for The Divine Appointment?

The audience is wide and I believe The Divine Appointment can reach different segments of the Christian community. Specifically, though, I think the target audience is politically active Christians such as members of Christian Alliance organizations, Right to Life Organizations, American Family Association, etc.

2. How do you describe your genre for this book?

Christian fiction political thriller.

3. Where/How did you birth the idea for this book? How did it come about?

The idea for this book was two-fold. First I think that Roe v. Wade was a very bad decision and it should be reversed. Secondly, the appointment and confirmation processes for Justice Roberts and Justice Alito were very intriguing and I wondered what it would be like if there was a true conservative, Christian jurist going through that process who would openly say that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. I found that concept very intriguing and turned it into a storyline.

4. What sort of research was involved to make The Divine Appointment sound authentic/realistic?

I researched the Washington D.C. geography to make sure I had names of buildings and streets accurate. Google Earth is an amazing tool. The legal aspects of the book and the courtroom scenes come from my many years of experience as an attorney.
5. What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?

I hope that readers will realize that it is important for Christians to be part of the political process.

6. Is The Divine Appointment part of a series?

It is not designed as a series yet. However, like The Election there could be follow-up books that would track some of the characters.

7. How do you deal with your other obligations (job, family, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near deadlines?

This is one of my most difficult tasks. I'm a partner in a law firm and that is a full-time job. Part of my practice is that I represent the local county government, which at times is very consuming. Currently I am helping coach three separate baseball teams. I am the incoming board president for a local charity. I teach a high school boys' Sunday School. And our family life is extremely busy. As you can see, there are very few unoccupied minutes in my life. When I'm working on a writing project my writing time is very late at night--typically from 10:00 p.m. to about 1:00 a.m. When a deadline is rapidly approaching I have to take time away from the office and stay at home until I'm able to get the project completed.

8. Do you plan character development and then let them run with the story, or do you plot the story in advance?

I don't know how unique my writing style is but I cannot write from an outline. The first thing that happens is that I see the beginning of a story and the end of the story, and then I begin to write. I outline as I go along and I keep a timeline. The characters begin to take on lives of their own and lead me through the story. When I get to about 30,000 words I begin to fully see the story unfold. It is at that point that I make a few notes about the direction of the book and it is all I can do to write fast enough to complete the manuscript.

9. Do you have an organized office and set times to write, or do you find yourself writing at unusual times or places?

I write at unusual times--typically very late at night. But the place is always the same. I have a study in my house and I do all of my writing there.

Thanks, Jerome, for giving us a glimpse at your life as a writer, and why you wrote The Divine Appointment.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Book Review: "When the Cat's Away" by Gilbert Morris


The Cats Rule the House

There's a cat show in town and Cleo's an entrant. Jacques is wondering why the judges just give him the prize automatically. Kate is trying to juggle between relationships with Bev and Jake. Jake is now guardian to his best friend's estranged rebel daughter. Ocie has become a Christian and is eager to tell the world about it. Rhiannon's grandfather is very ill and needs a new heart. In the midst of all this, with the cat show in the background, someone keeps stealing all the cats!


Ok the last time I reviewed a book in this series, my main gripe was that Jake was an annoying character. He was very chauvinist, rude and insensitive. He would always look down on others for not agreeing with him and pretty much keep making snide remarks at Kate. However in this book, he lessens up on all that almost making him likable. He finally comes through in this book with not being snobby, controlling or forcing others to give up non quality food. I really liked Ocie's conversion scene. I thought was Kate said was very true and it was quite moving to watch someone who kept running away from God finally trust in him. It's also cool how it got taped for national airplay. He does get a bit over enthusiastic about trying to convert others but it's nice to see that he's really excited about being a Christian.

I was worried at first that Sarita's character would be a complete retelling of past characters from Morris's series that have been in that same situation. It never fails with the best friend dying, the guy promising him that he'd take care of the estranged daughter, daughter is rebel and then tries to hit on guy, eventually becoming good. Rhiannon becomes more dimensional in this book as she actually shows feelings by being worried about her grandfather. Before she just seemed very one dimensional with big words and weird ways. It was touching to see her friendship with the one time gangster. Jacques is very narcissistic while Cleo is more friendly giving the right balance of power between the two cats. The mystery plays second fiddle to everything else that's happening but it doesn't lose your interest either. IMO best book of the series, and I hope that there's more!

When the Cat's Away by Gilbert Morris is published by Harvest House (2007)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Book Review: "Bottom Line" by Kimberly Stuart




Christian Mom Selling Thongs?

Heidi Elliot needs something to do. After taking off from work staying at home to be with her young daughter, she's starting to feel restless. Her husband, Jake, seems to be a bit on the worrisome side involving the families income plus the two have now decided it's time for another baby. So when during her Strut and Stroll class Heidi meets Kylie who tells her about a business opportunity she can do, she's all ears. All she has to do is sell lingerie to Christian women. This sound intriguing and something that Heidi would be good at. But will she give up her SAHM ways for the lure of the money making world?

I really enjoyed this book. This wasn't your typical Christian fiction mom lit book. For one, Heidi is a new Christian who is still learning the ropes about her new faith. Therefore she still would question ideas about Christianity which I found perfectly realistic. She also has issues with other Christians who try to act too perfect. I really liked the characters in the book. Heidi seems like a really cool mom and I love her interaction especially with the baby sitter. Jake is not portrayed as a husband who does nothing to help his wife by going to work and then playing hero to the kid. He seems like a really good guy. I also appreciated how Nola is not shown as a really annoying kid. Embarrassing yes, but not to the point where Heidi wants to regret being a mom. I know kids can be a challenge but it's not enjoyable to read about moms who have problems all day with their kids and then their husband comes home expecting the royal treatment. I chuckled at Heidi's description of "Laura" especially involving the bodysuit. I know that the character means well, but I can see from Heidi's perspective as a new Christian why Laura would come off as annoying. I thought the idea of Solomon's closet was unique and interesting. What Kylie said about women, sex and Christianity were all true and it was interesting to see what could be done about it. However money also becomes a huge factor and therefore ruins the idea. One small thing that really made me giddy was when Jake was looking up travel options and came across a trip to Burma. That's where my dad is from and it's really rare for me to come across that in a book so I was geeked.

I would definitely recommend this book. It's a little edgy for a Christian book (especially in the bedroom lol) but I really liked it. Great mom lit. I'm looking forward to the next Heidi Elliot book.

Bottom Line by Kimberly Stuart is published by NavPress (2007)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Christian Fiction Challenge June- Dad-lit or Beach Read-if it fits in your beach bag...


This month the rules stated that two people had to read a book. So I got the boyfriend to join along with me. He chose a non fiction book, while I went with a mom-lit type. So two different types of book for this challenge.

Here is his book:


1. Title

90 Minutes in Heaven
2. Author

Don Piper with Cecil Murphey
3. Copyright

2004, Don Piper/Revell Publishing
4. How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile?

2 Weeks
5. What made you buy/borrow the book in the first

place?

Referrals from Friends/Relatives
6. What were your thoughts on the story?

The story was very heart-warming, comforting, and offers hope to everyone who doubts the existence of heaven and the afterlife. This story reaffirms my belief in the afterlife and being welcomed into heaven by our loved ones. The author of the story is a Baptist Minister, in which experiences a horrific traffic accident; is pronounced dead by EMT’s on the scene for 90 minutes, and is brought back to life. This story recounts his time from the accident, through his spiritual voyage in heaven, and back to his body here on earth. He then recounts his long process of recovery, along with all the trials and tribulations associated with them.
7. Now do you wish you read the book sooner?

Yes.
8.
Any questions/statements for the author?

Thank you for reaffirming what I already knew to be true, and for giving all of those people who didn’t know this truth, hope for the future.
9. Where will the book reside now?

Already have a line of people wanting to borrow the book, thus it will be passed down.


And here's mine:


  • Title: Bottom Line
  • Author: Kimberly Stuart
  • Copyright: 2007
  • How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile? About a month
  • What made you buy/borrow the book in the first place? I received it as a book to review. I read it during the Spring Reading Thing while I should have been reading actual books on the list. It was that good!
  • What were your thoughts on the story? Loved it! Not your typical Christian fiction book, and not the same old run of the mill mom lit either. The main character is not your typical SAHM. Excellent writing and great story. It was very fresh and funny. I couldn't stop reading. I'll have my full review of this book on Monday.
  • Now do you wish you read the book sooner? Yes plus now I have to go back and read the first book in the series, luckily I already own it.
  • Any questions/statements for the author? I loved the book! I hope there's more Heidi stories along the way.
  • Where will the book reside now? It's back on my shelf, will hopefully be reread again one day.

Join the Christian Fiction Challenge! Next month is July-YA book (H.P.new release?)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Book Review: "Bachelor's Puzzle" by Judith Pella


Quilted With Love

The town of Maintown is all abuzz when there's news of the new minister arriving in town. Even better, he's young and single! The young women of the town (and their mothers) are gearing up to present with a quilt, showcasing the talent of potential wives. Sisters Maggie and Ellie are among those in the chase to make their mark of impression on the quilt for the new preacher. When he finally arrives in town, he's everything they wished for and more! However to Ellie, there's something not quite right about the new minister. What secrets are he hiding? What girl will win his heart?

I learned tons about quilting while reading this book. Quilting bees were huge social events that many women in town looked forward too. This was a time to get together for talk and friendship. I didn't realize exactly how important it was to be able to make such intricate squares for the quilt. I'll never take a quilt for granted again! I liked reading about all the mothers who kept trying to set their daughters up with any potential bachelor who came to town. There seems to be a great deal more single young women in Maintown than in any other book I've read set during that time period. It seems all those men who wanted mail order brides should move there instead! The story reminded me of Patricia Hickman's Millwood Hollow series with a pretend preacher fooling everyone. I liked Zach a lot and I was glad that he had enough sense not to perform a marriage which would later bring shame to the couple. He seemed like a really nice guy and seemed very cool and collected and able to fit into the role of a pastor easily. Maybe there's hope for him yet?

My only complaint about the book is that Maggie acts very childish for her age. She is only two years younger than Ellie and is at the age where many girls of that time would already be married and have kids. Yet she acts without thinking and I would cringe during her scenes with Zach because for the most part he saw her as still just a girl. Other than this, I really enjoyed this book. I love this time period and I really enjoyed all the characters. The writing was top notch and shows how Pella knows as much about quilting as she does about Russian history from her other books. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.


Bachelor's Puzzle by Judith Pella is published by Bethany House (2007)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Spring Reading Challenge Wrap Up


Well all good things must come to an end. And the Spring Reading Challenge is now over. How'd I do? Well I read all the books (31) on my list (minus one exception) PLUS 17 more for a grand total of 50 books in 3 months!!!!!

Here's a list of the books I read:
  1. Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker
  2. The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren
  3. Scenes from a Holiday by Laurie Graff, Carrie Lissner, and Melanie Murray
  4. Moonglow by Peggy Darty
  5. Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend by Lynda Curnyan
  6. A Dime a Dozen by Mindy Starns Clark
  7. A Time to Love by Al and Joanna Lacy
  8. Promises by Peggy Darty
  9. See Jane Date by Melissa Senate
  10. Tangled Web by Shirley Brinkerhoff
  11. Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh
  12. Courting Trouble by Deeane Gist
  13. A Quarter for a Kiss by Mindy Starns Clark
  14. Denim Blue by Melody Carlson
  15. When the Storm Breaks by Bonnie Leon
  16. Love Me If You Must by Nicole Young
  17. Something Beyond the Sky by Siri Mitchell
  18. Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn
  19. Kingdom Come by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins
  20. Earthly Vows by Patricia Hickman
  21. Second Choices by Shirley Brinkerhoff
  22. The Tender Flame by Al and Joanna Lacy
  23. Miss Match by Erynn Mangum
  24. Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam by R.K. Mortenson
  25. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling by Neta Jackson
  26. The Buck Stops Here by Mindy Starns Clark
  27. Memories by Peggy Darty
  28. These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking by Melody Carlson
  29. On Assignment by Marilyn Kok
  30. Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher
  31. Good Times, Bad Boys by Melanie Murray
  32. Slightly Single by Wendy Markham
  33. Without a Trace by Colleen Coble
  34. What the Cat Dragged In by Gilbert Morris
  35. The Potluck Club Takes the Cake by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
  36. Crazy Hot by Melissa De La Cruz
  37. What I Really Want to Do Is Direct by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
  38. In All Deep Places by Susan Meissner
  39. Where Mercy Flows by Karen Harter
  40. It’s Not Easy Being Mean by Lisi Harrison
  41. The Remedy for Regret by Susan Meissner
  42. Blessed are the Merciful by Al and Joanna Lacy
  43. Let’s Meet on Platform 8 by Carole Matthews
  44. The Funeral Planner by Lynn Isenberg
  45. A Window to the World by Susan Meissner
  46. The Cat’s Pajamas by Gilbert Morris
  47. Mean Season by Heather Cochran
  48. Dangerously Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  49. Bachelor’s Puzzle by Judith Pella
  50. Bottom Line by Kimberly Stuart
GAVE UP:
Strapless by Leigh Riker (This book was nothing more than a trashy romance novel disguised as chick lit. I only read five chapters and then gave up.)

  • What was the best book you read this spring? That's a toughie, I can only choose one? Fine, Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker. One of the best chick lit books ever.
  • What book could you have done without? Ugh, Strapless. There's a reason why I stopped reading it. Nothing but unreal sex scenes and men fantasizing about pregnant women. Horrible horrible book. Under false pretenses trying to pretend to be chick lit. Avoid at all costs.
  • Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again? Tons of them! Almost half the books I read was a new author. I definately liked Erynn Mangum, Kimberly Stuart, Tamara Leigh and Susan Meissner. I liked Susan Meissner so much I read 3 of her books!
  • If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it? The only book I didn't finish was Strapless and that was my choice not to finish. If a book does not gel with me after 4 chapters I will give up. This time I could barely make it past two.
  • Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones? Enjoyed seeing all the other Christian fiction books on other TBR lists. Makes me want to go back and reread them again.
  • What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share! I found that I enjoy the Red Dress Ink chick lit books very much. I own a bunch but had been putting off on reading them. The challenge forced to finally pick one up and read it. I ended up reading 5 of them and enjoyed them very much.
  • What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing? I read all my library books that I had kept putting off. So I got them all done with no fines to pay!
  • Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall? Definitely. Will keep me straight on another library book pile. It's already starting to pile up again. Lol.
  • Any other thoughts, impressions, or comments. Thanks for hosting this Katrina!!!! Can't wait til fall!

Spring Reading Challenge

Well it's that time of the year again! Katrina at Callapidder Days is issuing out the command to get our reading lists out and done!

"I can't wait to see what everyone will be reading this spring. Whether you're reading for fun, for inspiration, for learning, or just to force yourself to finish up those half-read books, I hope you enjoy every page!"

So without further adieu is here is my list for the challenge! (I will be having reviews for most of the books up on my blog once I am finished with the book, so this is a preview of what is to come for the next few months). Note: These are all my library books, which means these MUST be read by the end of the challenge or face the wrath of fines! I haven't listed books I own because I don't know if I'll get around to them, but they might pop up at the end of the challenge on my list.

FINISHED!!!!!
  1. Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker
  2. The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren
  3. Scenes from a Holiday by Laurie Graff, Carrie Lissner, and Melanie Murray
  4. Slightly Single by Wendy Markham
  5. See Jane Date by Melissa Senate
  6. A Time to Love by Al and Joanna Lacy
  7. The Tender Flame by Al and Joanna Lacy
  8. On Assignment by Marilyn Kok
  9. Memories by Peggy Darty
  10. Moonglow by Peggy Darty
  11. Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam by R.K. Mortenson
  12. Promises by Peggy Darty
  13. A Dime a Dozen by Mindy Starns Clark
  14. A Quarter for a Kiss by Mindy Starns Clark
  15. In All Deep Places by Susan Meissner
  16. A Window to the World by Susan Meissner
  17. Blessed are the Merciful by Al and Joanna Lacy
  18. Good Times, Bad Boys by Melanie Murray
  19. Where Mercy Flows by Karen Harter
  20. Tangled Web by Shirley Brinkerhoff
  21. The Buck Stops Here by Mindy Starns Clark
  22. Earthly Vows by Patricia Hickman
  23. Without a Trace by Colleen Coble
  24. Mean Season by Heather Cochran
  25. What I Really Want to Do Is Direct by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
  26. The Funeral Planner by Lynn Isenberg
  27. Let’s Meet on Platform 8 by Carole Matthews
  28. Second Choices by Shirley Brinkerhoff
  29. Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend by Lynda Curnyn
  30. It’s Not Easy Being Mean by Lisi Harrison
  31. Denim Blue by Melody Carlson
GAVE UP:
  1. Strapless by Leigh Riker (This book was nothing more than a trashy romance novel disguised as chick lit. I only read five chapters and then gave up.)
It's an eclectic mix to be sure, I've got mystery, historical, romance, teen fiction, fantasy, chick lit. Lots of variety to choose from. 32 books..I better get started! Can I finish by June 21st? Check between now and then to find out!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Reluctant Runaway by Jill Elizabeth Nelson


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

RELUCTANT RUNAWAY

(Multnomah, March 2007)

by


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Elizabeth Nelson is a member of the CFBA. Her blog, Artistic Blogger, addresses issues about art, art theft, antiquities preservation, and the art of fiction writing. She takes art seriously - when she's not having fun with it, that is. The To Catch a Thief Series combines her love of the written word with her love of other art forms.

The first in the series was Reluctant Burglar , second is Reluctant Runaway. In January 2008, she will reveal the third book, Reluctant Smuggler. Jill is thrilled if the adventures that spill from her imagination can raise awareness about art theft - deemed "a looming criminal enterprise" by the FBI. Jill and her husband, Doug, have four children and live in Minnesota.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Stolen Indian artifacts…A murdered museum guard


A missing woman…A baby in danger

Only Desiree can unearth the horrifying secret that links them all.

Museum security expert Desiree Jacobs doesn’t mean to get in danger’s path. Really she doesn’t. But when a friend is in trouble you don’t just walk away. No matter what your overprotective FBI agent boyfriend says! So when Desi and Tony’s date at a presidential ball is interrupted by a frantic Maxine Webb, Desi doesn’t hesitate to jump in.

Soon Desi is neck-deep in a confusing array of villains. Did Max’s niece run away or was she taken? Is she still alive or the victim of a perverse ritual? And who wants her infant son–and why?

Then Tony’s organized crime case collides with Desi’s investigation, throwing them both into the path of something dark and sinister. Something that craves blood...

From the streets of Desi’s beloved Boston to the mountain desert of New Mexico, Desi and Tony must rely on God to thwart unseen forces–and save a young woman and her baby from a villain more evil than any of them can imagine.

"A fresh voice, strong heroine, and unique plot make Reluctant Runaway a can't-put-down read. Jill Elizabeth Nelson is an author to watch in the realm of romantic suspense!"
----SUSAN MAY WARREN award-winning author of In Sheep's Clothing

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Book Review: "The Cat's Pajamas" by Gilbert Morris




Lights, Camera, Meow!

A movie is being filmed in White Sands and Kate, Jake, Jeremy and the cats are all involved! They soon find out that the Hollywood lifestyle isn't all that it's cracked up to be. When the acting double of an old flame of Jake's turns up dead, everyone's a suspect. From the nasty producer that everyone hates to the costar to wants a bigger role to even Jake himself, the small town becomes shaken by the murder. But when a second killing happens just days later, the only ones who can solve the case have four paws and a tail. It's up to Jacques and Cleo to come to the rescue again!


I thought that this book was lots better than the first book in the series. The cats get more talking time and a bigger role in this book. They even get to star in the movie! I liked how Jacques and Cleo have more conversations and more opinions on their owners. I think that they are smarter than Kate and Jake in regards to their relationship. There are more new characters introduced in this book. Because of the movie being filmed in the town, many Hollywood type folks enter the scene. Avis, the lead actress, and Jake have a past but their relationship felt very fake. I felt that the remarks by the producer, Aaron Tobin, were quite harsh especially the racist comments he made. He definitely comes off as a character everyone loves to hate. Jake still comes off as a very unlikable character to me. Even though there are several scenes where he helps out those around him (ie taking care of Ocie) he still acts like a jerk. Two scenes that come to mind are when he gets mad at Kate for going out with Bev and tells her he would give her a whipping if she was his daughter. This comes off very chauvinistic because he's acting jealous for no reason and plus Kate had done absolutely nothing wrong. The other scene is when he throws Jacques, who has very dangerous claws, at an actor simply because Jake doesn't like his choice of career. Eric ends up getting hurt but Jake never apologizes which I felt was really distasteful of his actions since Kate had warned him that Jacques could do serious damage.

The mystery once again is a good one. I did guess the ending this time but overall I enjoyed the whole story. I always enjoy reading books about what it is like to make a movie. Overall I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next one. I just hope that Jake's character will change in the third book, as it stands I'm still not a fan of him.

The Cat's Pajamas by Gilbert Morris is published by Harvest House (2007)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Book Review: "What the Cat Dragged In" by Gilbert Morris




Cat lovers unite!

Kate and her son Jeremy have discovered they have inherited a house in White Sands, Alabama which would mean a better life for the two of them. The catch is they have to share the house with another person plus take care of the many animals that already live there. Jake's not too thrilled about sharing the house with Kate and Jeremy plus their two cats Jacques the Ripper and Cleo. He doesn't like animals period and the cats share his same affection about them. The trio begin to adapt their new life together where all seems to be going well at first. Then a murder happens that affects them and it's up to the cats to save the day to find the killer.

This is a new genre for Morris, he's written several mysteries before but none quite like this. What I found very different about this book was the use of pop culture and modern slang. I never would have thought I would have read the words Dr. Dre or 50 Cent in a Gilbert Morris book! Kate's and Jake's situation is unique as this is one of the few CBA books I've read that have an unmarried female and male living together in the same house. This does get brought up several times in the book by church members as an issue but I think it's handled well. I don't mind reading about animals so I liked the mini zoo of animals the two have to keep in the house. However I thought it was unbelievable to keep a raccoon was kept as a pet. Aren't they wild animals? And how come nothing is mentioned about rabies? I didn't really like Jake's character. He came off as very male chauvinist and rude. Personally also I thought he acted like an old man instead of a 30 year old. I didn't like how he would insult and throw away Kate's food. He just felt like a cardboard stereotypical character with no real likable personality. Rhiannon is another strange character as I don't know many young girls who would read the encyclopedia cover to cover.

I liked the cats and their participation in the story. Although I felt that they didn't play a big of a role as the cover made it out to be. Hopefully that changes in the next book because I liked reading about what they were thinking and the communication between the two. The mystery was very good as I did not know who the killer really was and was quite surprised by the outcome. If you like cozy mysteries, this is one I think you'd enjoy.

What the Cat Dragged In by Gilbert Morris is published by Harvest House (2007)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Photo Contest

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME!!!!!

(Click above link)




This is my entry for the photo contest from Write from Karen. My sister received a stuffed pug for Christmas. Everyone would mistake the stuffed pug for the real pug if you gave it one glance. We placed the pug outside the door of where my boyfriend was sleeping when he came to visit our family. We were hoping that when he woke up, being all groggy he'd think the real pug was outside his door. To our delight the real pug went and sat next to the stuffed pug and both waited for him to get up. It makes for a cute pic at least.

Week of Book Giveaways

Congrats to all the winners! Please check back for more book giveaways this summer (yes that's plural!)


Congrats to Ingrid for winning a copy of Fair Game by Carol Cox!

Congrats to Cheryl for winning a copy of Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer!

Congrats to Debi (twiga92) for winning a copy of Gone With the Groom by Janice A Thompson!

Congrats to Peggy for winning a copy of Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky!

Congrats to Patty for winning a copy of Crime and Clutter by Cyndy Salzmann!

Movie Review: "Shrek the Third"

The Shrek trilogy is one of the most popular movies with all age groups. Kids love the talking ogres and animals. Adults love the in jokes and pop culture references that go right over the kids heads. 2007 is also the summer of 3-quels (Spiderman, Pirates, Shrek, Bourne Ultimatium not to mention Harry Potter, Fantastic Four, Die Hard 4) I chose to see Shrek because Pirates hadn't come yet at the time and I refuse to see Spiderman thanks to my Kirsten Dunst boycott (although Tobey Maguire AND Topher Grace in the same movie is very tempting). The third movie deals with Shrek and the possibility of becoming a dad mixed with Prince Charming taking revenge and taking hostage of the kingdom of Far Far Away. Shrek plus buddies must find the next heir to rule the kingdom.

I like how Shrek is worried about how he's going to be as a dad. I really did like how he and Fiona's dad made up in the end and her dad called him son. Quite touching actually. I felt that Fiona wasn't fully developed as a character as she had been in the past two movies. I personally liked her better a a human but that's just me. She just seemed to do a lot of running around in this movie and didn't have much interaction with Shrek.

My thoughts on Artie? Well I must say he looked a LOT like Nysnc Justin Timberlake. I was almost thinking that he was going to do a song and dance number. Donkey is always a favorite for comic buddy relief (funny how one can say now Donkey played by Academy Award nominee Eddie Murphy). And I love his halfbreed kids, too cute.
Everyone has a favorite character and mine is Puss in Boots. Antonio Banderas is wonderfully picked for this role. Puss gets the best one liners, the funniest scenes, and is just darn cute. I loved it especially when Donkey and Puss have their bodies switched. Donkey with big eyes just does not give off the same effect. Supposedly Puss is supposed to get his own movie. Definitely am going to see that one.

One scene which was supposed to be sad but I found hilarious was the funeral of Fiona's dad. Why? Because the frogs were singing Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die". I absolutely love that song (it's the best Roger Moore James Bond movie too btw) but for the life of me I have no idea why they picked it. It was just so random but of course the kiddies won't realize who it was. I also love the gingerbread man so his "life flashes before eyes" bit made me choke on my popcorn from laughing. I did like seeing the other princesses do their bit, the Snow White scene with the Led Zeppelin song got quite a few chuckles from the adults in the audience.

All in all I'd say this movie ranks #2 in the Shrek series for me. I still like Shrek 2 the best, but if you're a Shrek fan you won't want to miss this one. There is some crude humor that justifies the PG rating
(Puss in Boots: [Puss says to Shrek as the ship leaves] Well my friend, you are royally... [loud horn blast]

heh heh
but the message about friendship and family is very strong here. If you don't see this in the theater, definitely rent it. I recommend it more for teens and adults who will enjoy the in jokes and references better than the kids.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

As I Have Loved You by Nikka Arana


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

As I Have Loved You
(Revell June 1, 2007)

by

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of highly-acclaimed inspirational women's fiction who weaves today's social, political, and spiritual issues into her novels. She has received numerous awards, including the Excellence in Media 2007 Silver Angel Award for The Winds of Sonoma.

The book was based on the true love story of how Nikki met her future husband Antonio as he was cleaning the stalls of her parents' Arabian horses. Nikki and Antonio have been married for over thirty years, have two grown sons, and live in Idaho.



ABOUT THE BOOK:


Contemporary Struggles...

...A Single Mom and College-Ages Son.

Leigh Scott is a widowed, single mother who wants the best for her son Jeff. She would like him to graduate from college, land a secure job, and start a family. However, Jeff, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at a young age, has a God-given compassion for people. And his non-judgemental acceptance of all has unintended consequences.

Jeff starts dating Jessica, a girl with a questionable past and seemingly non-existent future. Soon, Jeff's grades drop as quickly as his sober determination to achieve the goals he's worked toward all his life, and Leigh finds herself caught ina relational tornado

To complicate matters further, Leigh is an author with a looming book deadline, a father battling cancer, and her former boyfriend and first love, a strong Christian Native American, coming back in her life.

Arana weaves a multi-layered, emotional family saga that brings the peril of judgement, the need for forgiveness and the gift of love to light

"Nikki Arana wrings the heart and exalts the soul."

---Romantic Times

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Diva NashVegas by Rachel Hauck



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

DIVA NASHVEGAS

(Thomas Nelson May 8, 2007)

by


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Rachel is the author of many books. Her current release, Diva NashVegas is the second in a series which began with Lost in NashVegas. She is also a Blogger and a CFBA member! She lives in Florida with her husband. Visit her great profile and learn more.


ABOUT THE BOOK:



Even if you are not a lover of country music, you can enjoy this fun look at the Nashville entertainment industry.

What do you do when the past you’ve been skirting shows up at your door with cameras rolling?

Aubrey James ruled the charts as the queen of country for over a decade. She’d rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parents’ death-both of them pioneers in Gospel music. But while her public life, high profile romances, and fights with Music Row execs made for juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey has remained a media mystery.

When a former band member betrays Aubrey’s trust and sells an "exclusive" to a tabloid, the star knows she must go public with her story. But Aubrey’s private world is rocked when the Inside NashVegas interviewer is someone from her past-someone she’d hoped to forget.

All the moxie in the world won’t let this Diva run any longer.
"Hauck once again takes us into the country music world, this time through the experiences of mega-star Aubrey James. Aubrey's life journey is filled with flaws, as well as a great deal of joy, and real life locales makes this highly original story authentic. The extra tidbits - from Aubrey's liner notes to quotes from the "media" at the beginning of the chapters - add extra sparkle to the plot."

- 4 Stars, Melissa Parcel, Romantic Times Book Club

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Interview with Erynn Mangum


I'm happy to have here today Erynn Mangum, author of Miss Match. If you like chick lit, you'll love this book. I have a review of Miss Match of my blog, it is simply divine. And without further adieu, an interview with Erynn Mangum!

1. How did you get started into writing and why did you choose chick lit?

I’ve been writing stories since I was tiny – I’d fill journals with almost every genre of writing possible! I didn’t think writing was ever something I could make a living at but my parents really encouraged me to pursue it after high school. I started taking courses from the Christian Writers Guild and learned so much! As for the chick-lit, I didn’t even know what it was when I started writing Miss Match. I just came home from a friend’s wedding and started typing!

2. How has your life changed since becoming a published author?

It’s one of those weird things where it’s totally changed, but hasn’t at all. And I know that makes zero sense! It’s changed in that I get letters from people about the book and have to work on promoting it, but it hasn’t changed because I’m still living at home, still spending time with friends and still working at my church.

3. Miss Match features a lead that goes against your typical chick lit heroine, Lauren doesn't want to date, eats lots of junk food and doesn't care about calories, hangs out with guys and dresses solely for comfort. How did this story come about?

I love Lauren, she was so much fun to write about! I guess I drew a lot from my own life – I typically dress for comfort over fashion (typically. Unlike Lauren, I absolutely love pink and there are times when I really like being girly!), junk food is awesome (girls really: this is the highest your metabolism will ever be! Make the most of it!), and since I have two brothers, there are always lots of guys around my house.

4. Lauren is very close to her family in the book. How has your family been throughout your writing process?

My family is super close! I definitely got the inspiration for Lauren’s tight family from my own. My mom is amazing – she has really been my biggest supporter in the writing business. She’s done everything: mailing books, emailing people, cutting bookmarks, reading through my manuscripts…pretty much you name it! My sister, Cayce, is just as involved as my mom – she reads everything I write before I mail it off, she gives me character and plot ideas, helps get the promotional materials ready, she’s wonderful! My dad and brothers are great: My littlest brother, Caleb, read Miss Match out of the kindness of his heart. I could go on about my family for hours!

5. Have you ever tried matchmaking with other people or been part of a matchmaking?

Umm. Yes to both. People have tried to match me up with guys and I’ve tried subtly hinting to some friends…with mixed results!

6. What type of books do you like reading and who are some of your favorite authors?

I love almost any kind of Christian fiction! Historical, romance, chick-lit, suspense…I just love to read. A few of my favorite authors: Kristin Billerbeck, Francine Rivers, Brandilyn Collins, Susan May Warren, the list could go on for miles… J

7. If Miss Match was made into a movie, who would you want to play Lauren, Brandon, Hannah, Ryan, etc?

Wow, good question! Umm…maybe Amanda Bynes for Lauren, Brittany Snow for Hannah and I have no idea for the guys! I’ll have to think on this… J

8. You mention Pride and Prejudice a lot in the book and quote a lot from Jane Austen's books. So who would you pick: Colin Firth or Matthew McFayden?

Oh my goodness, this question tears at the very strings of my heart! I’m feeling pulled in both directions. Can I say both? Colin Firth is classic Mr. Darcy and I’ll always picture him as the Mr. Darcy. He does such an amazing job with the aloofness but still giving those hints at Mr. Darcy’s lighter side (and oh! The smile at the end?! So worth it!!). But, Matthew McFayden did an awesome job in the newer one and each time I watch it I like him a little better. He gives a more vulnerable Mr. Darcy which you didn’t really see in the A&E version. Plus, that last scene? “I love, love, love you?” Definitely a must-see with a pan of brownies.

9. What's next in store for Lauren Holbrook and what else are you working on now?

Next up for Lauren Holbrook is ReMatch, which is releasing in October. This book was probably my favorite to write, just because the characters were established and I could really have fun with them. Lauren is still matchmaking – she’s a slow learner – and a couple of new characters are brought onto the scene. Brandon, Hannah and Ryan are still all here and there’s more developments in the relationships among that group!

As for what else I’m working on, I’m hoping to get a contract for the third book in the Lauren Holbrook series (so tell your friends about Miss Match! J). I am also working on a new series about a girl named Cassidy. It’s chick-lit as well and she’s got the reverse problem than Lauren – Cassidy’s mom is constantly trying to set her up!

10. Any last words?

If there is anything that God is laying on your heart to do, go for it! God doesn’t give talent and passion for it to never be used. J

Thanks so much, Deborah!

Thanks for stopping by Erynn! I can't wait for ReMatch to come out! If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Miss Match yet YOU NEED TO. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Book Review: "Return to Me" by Robin Lee Hatcher

Who says you can't go home again?

Roxy wanted to make it big in the country music scene. She left her home and family on bad terms to become a music superstar, immersing herself in that lifestyle and falling away from the values she had been taught at home. Meanwhile back at home her older sister Elena has learned to come out of her sister's shadow and make a name for herself. She's finally at the place she's wanted to be, head of the family company and about to marry Wyatt, Roxy's ex boyfriend who's now planning on becoming a minister. Then Roxy shows up back home, unannounced telling everyone she's trying to change. Elena doesn't believe this and begins to doubt Roxy and her own self, to point where she drives even Wyatt away from her. It takes acceptance of God's grace for the family to become reunited once more.

The story of the prodigal son is a familiar story to almost everyone, even if you didn't learn about it in Sunday School. I always sided with the older brother because I thought it was really unfair of the dad to give all the attention to the younger brother. Yes, I know that the older son will get everything in the end, but the father never acknowledges that he appreciates what the older son does. So it always seemed to me that as Christians we seem to be taken for granted by God. In this book however, I found myself siding with Roxy. Her story made me rethink about the way I felt about the prodigal son because I felt for her and wanted her to be able to start over again. Elena came across to me as being overly paranoid and would jump to conclusions without talking to others first. The scene that really got me was when she tried to dissuade Roxy from singing in church and how she wasn't believing Roxy could become a Christian. It was really sad at how bitter Elena had become especially after reading about the sisters' past. Reading the flashback stories really helped to shape the characters and allowed me to understand why they acted a certain way.I really liked Wyatt and enjoyed reading how his life changed from before to he was saved to after and how it affected both sisters. The story feels fresh and even though I know how the ending is going to be, I still wanted to read to see how it all played out. This was my first Robin Lee Hatcher novel and I was very pleased with it. This book is highly recommended for those who know the prodigal story, those who don't and especially for anyone that has a sister.

Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher is published by Zondervan (2007)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Crime and Clutter by Cyndy Salzmann and Book Giveaway #5!

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! 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, June 15. Good luck!

“When life gets sticky, dip it in chocolate,” say the six feisty members of the Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) whom fans of Salzmann’s first book, Dying to Decorate (check out my review), fell in love with. Luckily, the FAC always has plenty of chocolate on hand. At one meeting, the dog was poisoned with chocolate. (She survived, thankfully, although the carpet wasn't so fortunate.) Another time, they decided to highlight their own hair, resulting in pumpkin-colored stripes. But while carpets can be cleaned and hair color restored, this coming April, the FAC girls are about to find themselves in the middle of a sticky situation with ominous consequences.

Club member Mary Alice keeps a perfect house, cooks perfect meals, and documents everything about her perfect world in her coordinated scrapbooks. Therefore, everyone is astounded to learn that she's hiding a decrepit 1963 Volkswagen mini-bus that she refuses to talk about. It doesn't take long before M-A's secret is out. She's a flower child, born on a commune to hippie parents. The van is all M-A has left of her father. But as the gang helps her sift through the junk, they stumble upon a deeper mystery.

Set in both the present day and the turbulent 1960's, Cyndy Salzmann takes her readers along on a journey filled with as many twists and surprises as there are recipes and household tips. The novel is full of hints such as how to create a sweet-smelling house using vinegar, baking soda, and soaked cotton balls. It even has recipes ranging from Vegetarian Lentil Stew to Pesto Cheesecake. And, of course, there are chocolate recipes enjoyed by the FAC girls.


Cyndy Salzmann is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and the author of three nonfiction books on home management, one of which focuses on getting rid of clutter. She speaks nationally on the topic of home management and has a weekly radio spot airing on Moody station WDLM. Her novels celebrate life while making her readers laugh at the dilemmas faced by millions of modern women.

  1. A chocolate recipe

Triple Chocolate Pecan Brownies

1 package brownie mix

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Add remaining ingredients to batter.

3. Put batter in greased 9 x 9 pan. Bake 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

  1. A household tip

Uses for salt…

· Add a pinch of salt to your coffee basket before brewing. This will make the coffee less acidic tasting.

· To clean silk flowers and plants, place them in a large bag with one cup of salt. Shake vigorously for a few minutes. Your plants will come out dust free.

· Remove rust from household tools by making a paste with salt and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Apply to rusted area with a dry cloth and rub.

  1. An organization tip

Too many books?

4.


If you find your shelves overflowing with books, consider donating them to your church library. If you want to read a book again, you can always check it out.

Another handy tip is to slip a box in your closet to stash novels you've read. Then when a friend or family member who likes to read stops by, pass it along.

For the books you do decide to keep, categorize them according to subject so you'll be able to find the book when you need it.

  1. How many days do you wear your blue jeans before they go in the laundry?

Jeans are so much more comfortable on the second day. Plus, laundry is the bane of my existence. I am always behind. My only solace comes from Gen 2:25, “They were naked and not ashamed.”

  1. How many sizes of clothing do you have in your closet? In storage?

I sometimes think I should have those little size rings in my closet 8, 10, 12, “none of your business.” : )

  1. What is your comfort food?

My mom’s fried chicken and cream gravy. Especially in the summer when she serves it with homegrown tomatoes, green beans fresh from the garden and creamy mashed potatoes. Maybe this is why I should have those size rings in my closet…

  1. White chocolate? Milk chocolate? Dark chocolate?

Definitely dark chocolate now that researchers say it is a “super food” that’s better for you than blueberries. Plus I just found out that Harry & David sells dark chocolate covered blueberries. I can just feel the vitamins coursing through my body when I pop one of those babies into my mouth. : )

  1. What’s your favorite mode of communication? E-mail, Instant Message, Land Line Phone, Cell Phone, Old-Fashioned Snail Mail Letter?

I adore receiving a snail mail note or letter. There’s something special about seeing someone’s handwriting and knowing they took the time to write and post a letter. However, thoughtless person that I am, I always use email.

  1. What’s your idea of a day of relaxation?

Massage. Pedicure. Lunch. Movie. Bath. Bed. Ahhh…

  1. When you are stressed, who’s the first person you call?

I have this reminder on my fridge… “Go to the throne before you go to the phone.” But I usually call my hubby at work to whine – unless it’s Friday. Then I can make it to 4:30 and whine to my FAC friends.

  1. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

My husband and son’s channel surfing. I want to scream, “Just make a decision and stick with it!”

  1. Who would play you in the Cyndy Salzmann movie of the week?

    My friend Marilyn recently told me that my new hairstyle makes me look like Renée Zellweger. (Marilyn is now my very favorite friend.) So, I guess I’d have to let Renee at least audition for the part…

10. If you could do one thing over in life, what would it be?

Work less. Play more. That is so shallow…