Friday, August 31, 2007

Movie Review: "Wild Hogs"

I knew I wanted to see this movie after seeing the trailer. It made me laugh really hard, there are top quality actors in this movie and the plot did not look stupid. I mean you can't really beat that can you?

This movie made me nearly die from laughing. There are so many laugh out loud moments that I can't even name them all. William H. Macy's character is just a trip. You know this right from the beginning when the foursome are riding along in the neighborhood and he hits his head on the For Sale sign. Then his scene with the computer in the coffeehouse. And pretty much everything he does during the road trip. I"m a huge Tim Allen fan so of course everything he does is hilarious. The swimming in the lake scene is down right funny (until the police guy showed up...ugh). I loved the Extreme Home Makeover bit at the end. I really really cracked up during that part. Oh you did realize that was Peter Fonda at the end and he was referring to Easy Rider right?

At first when I saw this movie, I was wondering why is Martin in it? He's 10 years younger than the other actors and I just thought it was rather odd. But he ends up gelling with the others and it's nice to seem him in a rather subdued non cross dressing role. I also don't know why all the females in this movie are 20 years younger than the male characters. I like Jill Hennessey and Marisa Tomei but they're in their 30s while Tim Allen and William H. Macy are in their 50s. Did the producers think that older women would not be able to attract middle age men? There are also several gay jokes that are very uncomfortable, and male butts being shown. There is quite a bit of cursing going on as well so I wouldn't recommend young kids to watch this. However I think that most adults will get laughs as they see themselves as these characters: Trying to live your life to the fullest and not be tied down while still having a good time.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This Week's Book Giveaway

Congrats to Alexia for winning the Melody Carlson two book set!

I'll be having LOTS of giveaways in September including a two month contest starting tomorrow. So be sure to stop by again!!!

Book Review: "Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas" by Annie Jones


Break out the tiaras

Odessa and Maxine are best friends, pastor's wives and flea market fiends. Between the two of them are years of experience and wisdom. Which is why they feel that they are called to help out other women they see in need. From helping Bernadette find a boyfriend to Chloe's complete makeover to finding out what's really going on with seeming perfect Jan, the duo do their best to keep a lookout for others.

I liked the premise of the story. I love shopping for bargains so it was fun to read about having a booth in a flea market. The characters are really zany and very colorful. You can tell that they enjoy life and want to help others to see life as they do. I liked Bernadette and the quest to get a boyfriend for her. And I so wanted to smack Odessa's husband throughout most of the book for having to make her suffer. I felt really sad that she felt that way as a pastor's wife. I'm sure that there are many of them out of there who feel the exact same way. However I didn't feel that this was the author's best work. I really liked her mom-lit novels and was hoping this would have been along the lines except for an older audience. Instead, the storyline is rather confusing and I never really did gel with the characters. The prologue in the beginning with Odessa and Maxine trading off the narration really confused me because I couldn't tell who was who. I just felt like I never really got into the story which was sad to me because I do enjoy Annie's other books. It could be because I'm not the target age group for the book. So maybe if you're in the hen-lit crowd, you'll find that this book is perfect for you.

The Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas by Annie Jones is published by Steeple Hill (2006)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Dead Whisper On by T.L. Hines



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


THE DEAD WHISPER ON


(Bethany House July 1, 2007)


by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tony is the author of the acclaimed Waking Lazarus. He has been an advertising agency owner/principal, a trade amgazine editor, and now a novelist.

He has been a professional writer for more than 15 years with articles appearing in publications as varied as Log Homes, Conservative Theological Journal, and Travel & Leisure. He is also Creative Director at Montana's largest advertising agency.

His long list of past odd jobs includes trimming Christmas trees, sorting seed potatoes, working the graveyard shift at a convenience store, and cleaning cadaver storage rooms.

As a teen he was undefeated in air guitar competitions in which he performed songs by ZZ Top.

He lives in Montana with his wife and daughter,


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Would You Run Into A Burning Building?

Candace "Canada Mac" MacHugh lives a ghost of her former life.

Once a proud Butte, Montana, miner who daily risked her life setting explosives, she's now a garbage collector in her dying hometown.

Her beloves father is dead and she doesn't speak to her mom. More than anything, Candace Mac misses her father. He promised to contact her from the "other side" if he could...but it's been eleven long years. And now even her beloved city of Butte, Montana, seems to be dying off.

Candace Mac is alone. Longing for the past. Dreaming of making a difference.

Until one night when her father's voice speaks to her from the shadows. Bud MacHugh's trademark growl. The dead, it seems, have messages they hunger to share with the world...warnings of impending disasters and grave danger. Of cities doomed to burn.

But they need Canada's help.

T.L. Hines' first novel, Waking Lazarus was named one of the Library Journal's Top 25 Genre novels of 2006. Now he's back with a gripping suspense that brings to light our fears and asks us if we still have the courage to fight for those around us. if we have the guts to be one of those who run into burning buildings.

"Chilling!" Publishers Weekly

"...a well-paced suspense populated by dynamic characters." Kirkus Discoveries

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Book Review: "To Love Anew" by Bonnie Leon


Do you come from a land down under?

Hannah has been sent to Australia as a convict. She's been accused of stealing and has also been raped by her former employee. John has lost everything because of a bar fight that makes him lose his wife and fortune to his cousin. The two have plenty of reasons to turn their back on God as they are transported to a world far away from the life they are accustomed to. Treated like dirt and forced to live in the most despicable positions, Hannah and John must learn to find faith again and learn to trust each other in this new world.


I thought this was Bonnie Leon's best book to date. The characters were dimensional, the writing in depth, and the historical information very well researched. This book reminded me of Patricia Hickman's Land of the Far Horizon series also set in the early stages of Australia's history. I really like reading historical novels set during this time period. I really felt bad for Hannah. It seemed at first that everything that could possibly go wrong happened to her. I don't blame her for not trusting God in the beginning. If I had suffered like she did, I probably would think the same. It chilled me to read about how they disposed of the baby and the prison conditions were equally appalling. I felt for the women who had no choice when the sailors would approach them. I didn't really feel that we go to know as much about John as we did Hannah. However I sympathized with his character too. You go to jail for self defense, your wife runs off with your cousin, he steals all your money, and then you get shipped to the other side of the world for your punishment. I tell you, Britain treated their prisoners real harsh!

I really liked the Athertons. They were good people, who had no ulterior motives, and truly wanted to help out the convicts. I really thought first that Mr. Athertorn was going to side with the overseer instead of John but goodness prevailed! I also did appreciate that, at least in this book, the newcomers to the country do not treat the Aborigines with disdain or prejudice. While there is not much contact, as least what is said and done is not disrespectful or degrading. I just hope that in the future, Hannah will be able to tell John the truth about her past. Looking forward to the next books in the series.


To Love Anew by Bonnie Leon is published by Revell (2007)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Book Review: "Breaking Free" by Lauraine Snelling




Horse Therapy

Maggie is serving ten years in prison for an accident that killed her son. She soon finds solace in the horse program that allows the inmates to take care of horses that can no longer race. She finds a special kinship to Breaking Free, a spirited horse that is full of anger. Maggie soon learns to tame the horse, to the point where she can ride him. Meanwhile Gil is a single father, whose son Eddie has spina bifida and whose mother abandoned him in favor of drugs. Eddie is confined to his wheelchair and Gil wants to do whatever he can for him. They go see the horses from the prison and ends up buying Breaking Free. Maggie goes along with them to help continue the training. The two are thrown together and must learn to trust again in this new relationship.

I'm not really a horse person, but I did enjoy reading this story. I like stories when a troubled person and an equally troubled animal find each other and connect. Maggie and Breaking Free's relationship reminded me of the story of Seabiscuit. Reading about Maggie's life in prison was harsh, but I know that in real life it is even worse. I would have liked, however, if we could have found out what happened to the other inmates that she befriended. I did like how the women were allowed to take care of the horses and learn about them. It was touching to read about how they finally had something to be proud of, to know that they are performing good and to have someone look up to them. At first Grant seemed to be the overprotective father, but after learning about his ex-wife, you realize why he acts that way.

I liked Eddie very much, although I felt Grant treated him too much like a young kid. His relationship with Maggie is very moving. The only thing I didn't really like was that Maggie was served such a harsh sentence for her "crime." I mean most people do not get drunk after drinking 2 glasses of wine, and the accident didn't really sound like it was her fault, yet she gets so many years in prison for it. Yet celebrities will do worse crimes and stay in jail for less than 2 hours! It just didn't seem too believable, or else Maggie has a really bad lawyer that didn't defend her very well. I feel though that this book is well written. If you are a horse fan you will definitely want to pick it up.

Breaking Free by Lauraine Snelling is published by Faithwords (2007)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August - YA Book

ok this book isn't Christian fiction (at all), but it was the only YA book I had in my pile at the time since I had already reviewed all my Melody Carlson books.

1. Title: Sealed With a Diss

2. Author: Lisi Harrison

3. Copyright: 2007

4. How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile? I got it about 2 weeks ago from the library.

5. What made you buy/borrow the book in the first place? I've read all other Clique books. My sister reads them too, I get them first from the library and then she passes it along to me. Yes I know I am 10 years older than these girls but the story is so downright unbelievable that it's addictive. I also read the Gossip Girl and It Girl series, but the Clique is by far the tamest out of the three.

6. What were your thoughts on the story? Once again completely unbelievable. First off the constant mentioning of brand names was disgusting. I mean what 13 year old wears all this sort of stuff every day? Does the author get paid for mentioning them? And what's with the weird language? "Point!" "Ehmagawd!!!" and Massie's stupid comebacks? I did appreciate how Claire is more willing to stand up in this book and that Massie doesn't treat her like dirt. I'm confused though as to why these girls are all 13 and not a single one of them has gotten their period yet. Especially Alicia, like Layne mentioned, who keeps being described as having huge C cups. And they all act so immature every time this is mentioned. I did like the end of the book as the girls realize that they need to not pay attention to guys so much. Although I don't think it will last, at lease the author seems to be trying to convey something to the readers.

7. Now do you wish you read the book sooner? Well it only just came out, but I had been looking forward to it for some mindless entertainment time.

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

9. Where will the book reside now? Will go back to the library today.

Join the Christian Fiction Challenge! Next month is September - To be decided

Friday, August 24, 2007

Book Review: "One Little Secret" by Allison Bottke



So you want to be a pop star?

Ursula Rhodes, last seen in A Stitch in Time, is a regular housewife and mother who's taken the summer off to relax and perhaps even take some opera lessons. Her plans are ruined though when her husband is called away for business and seems to busy to talk to her about his plans. Meanwhile pop star Nik Prevel is looking for a singer who can make an album with him and boost his career. When he hears Ursala's singing at a party, he knows that she's the one. Suddenly the housewife becomes a singing sensation that everyone wants to hear. Mom - lit meets American Idol.

This was a really fun book to read. I enjoyed learning about what goes on in the music industry. Who hasn't had the dream of winning a Grammy? Even if you sing horribly, you always wish that you could be up there singing a duet with your favorite star and then getting rewarded for it. I liked how even though I know that there are negative influences in the music world, this story was able to stay in the positive area. I was proud of Ursula for not backing down with her priorities with Nik. I'm glad that she set down what conditions she was going to follow and not give in to him simply because he was famous. I know that there would have been many women who would have fallen for Nik's advances especially if their husband had been distant like Don. I'm glad that Ursula did not fall prey to him. Although I will admit, I got frustrated that she kept giving in to her family and Don at the end of the book. They keep getting mad at her for keeping a secret yet she didn't seem to explain to them the real reason why she did it. She just kept apologizing when I felt she shouldn't have to. But other than that minor quirk, I really did enjoy this book. Very fun and I learned a lot too! I really loved seeing all the famous celebrities stop by and make little cameos throughout the book. It's more fun than seeing fake names pretending to be stars. They didn't have to interact with the main characters but it was fun to not know who would pop up next. I would love to own a copy of Blissful Love. It sounds like it would be the perfect CD to listen to on a romantic evening or to kick back and relax


One Little Secret by Allison Bottke is published by Bethany House (2007)

Want to win an all expenses paid trip to Hollywood? Click here!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Book Review: Playing with Fire" by Melody Carlson and BOOK GIVEAWAY!


As part of the Melody month blog tour I'm giving away a brand new two book set of today's book and Notes from a Spinning Planet -Mexico! 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 Thursday, August 30. Good luck!

Where There's Smoke

Samantha McGregor's brother, Zach, has come home after being in drug rehab. She thinks that everything will be alright now and her family can begin to live a normal life again. However she starts to see signs that Zach is backtracking and not following steps to a full recovery. Plus there are rumors of drug uses running rampant in her high school and Ebony, her police contact, wants her help to try to find where the teens are getting their meth supply from. Sam even gets accused by the police of being a drug user. Then she has a vision of a burning cabin and her brother being dead as a consequence of his actions. She doesn't want to involve the police because she's worried they will make Zack really pay for his actions this time.

This book hits closest to home for Samantha because it deals with her brother and his ongoing drug problems. This book will appeal to families that have suffered with a family member in this same situation. This book focuses on the dangers of drug use among teens. There is no preachy "Just Say No" campaign forced on the reader. Carlson seems to understand why teens would possibly be tempted to use weed or meth or other drugs. Of course there a valid reasons why you shouldn't but Samantha, Olivia and other characters don't act like they are better than those who use them. I really liked how the party in the beginning was show with lax parental supervision. It is sad at how many parents turn a blind eye to their underage kids drinking, having sex or smoking because they figure if it's done at home, it won't be a problem. I'm glad that Samantha and Olivia were mature enough to get out of that situation without making a big scene. I really like the two girls, if I were still in high school I'd want to be friends with them. The writing again is top notch, I'm able to see how the characters feel and understand their actions. I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Playing With Fire by Melody Carlson is published by Multnomah (2007)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Void by Mark Mynheir

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


THE VOID

(Multnomah Fiction August 21, 2007)

by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Mark Mynheir is a cop writer. He has authored Rolling Thunder (The Truth Chasers Book One) and From the Belly of the Dragon (The Truth Chasers Book Two).

During his career as a police officer, Mark has worked as a narcotics agent, a S.W.A.T. team member, and a homicide detective. Mark and his wife, Lori, live with their three children in central Florida.



ABOUT THE BOOK:


The Truth Chasers Book Three

Someone’s trying to play God…and he’s turning Palm Bay into hell.


Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agent Robbie Sanchez devotes her life to crime prevention, and it shows: She has no personal life and doesn’t know the meaning of a day off. After all, someone has to be around to clean up the mess crime leaves behind.

So when Officer Brad Worthington is brutally murdered, Agent Sanchez is called to the scene along with Brad’s best friend, Detective Eric Casey. The two turn to Lifetex, the genetics lab near the scene, hoping their elaborate security system might have captured the crime outside.

But what’s going on inside the lab is far worse: a renegade scientist is cloning humans! As Robbie and Eric pursue clues–and a growing attraction–they are caught in a deadly battle as the clones begin to act on their own volition…but this battle threatens to claim more than human life; the clones are vying for human souls.


The Void is nothing short of a page-turner. Mynheir is truly hitting his stride as one of our industry's most notable Christian novelists. This latest book has it all: suspense, humor, intrigue, realistic police action, and one thought-provoking story line.

Creston Mapes
Author of Nobody

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book Review: "Notes from a Spinning Planet - Mexico" by Melody Carlson


Fun in the Sun

Maddie is going on yet another trip with her Aunt Sid. Except this time its for fun and relaxation in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Maddie is prepared for beaches, sun, and tropical drinks and is even more excited when Ryan is due to show up. However, the vacation is not all that's cracked up to be. First the timeshare location is rundown and not managed well. Then Ryan's ex girlfriend shows up making Maddie feel like a plain Jane third wheel. But Shelby has a secret that puts the pretty face facade to shame. Maddie has to fight feelings of jealousy in order to help her do the right thing.

I think that this was my favorite book out of the series. With this story, Maddie was able to enjoy herself and seek out social justice at the same time. The whole situation with Francesca's sisters and the orphanage sounded really sketchy. I wonder how many similar situations take place and it makes me worry that people will not use money correctly. I was really glad that the subject of binge drinking was brought up. In previous books, drinking one or two beers was not seen as a problem. However with this book, Shelby has become an alcoholic and refuses to admit it until Sid threatens her with drastic measures. Even an allergic reaction that almost kills her doesn't stop her. Sadly this is how many teens view their own lives. They don't care if something harms them as long as it makes them feel like it's giving a good time. But I really love how I can relate to these books. The feelings that Maddie had whenever Shelby was around her and Ryan, I think almost every girl has felt that way. And no matter how Christian a guy will be, just like Ryan they will always seem to give more attention to the prettier girl that seems to flaunt herself. It's a typical guy thing that will sadly never change, lol. I found the timeshare bit quite funny. I don't think I could get out of one of those as well as Sid could have. I really hope there will be another book in this series. There's so many other places that Maddie and Sid should travel to. I would highly recommend this book for older teens.

Notes from a Spinning Planet - Mexico by Melody Carlson is published by Waterbrook (2007)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review: "Beyond Reach" by Melody Carlson


Don't Stand So Close to Me

Samantha MacGregor feels drained from the visions she's been getting from God and prays for a break. But then Ebony, her police contact, tells her about a cold case where a suicide looks to be more suspicious that what was investigated. Samantha can't figure out how she can help out with this case until she gets a vision of a guy jumping off a bridge. The problem is that every guy she meets seems to fit that description. She begins to look into reasons of why someone would contemplate suicide and realizes that the answers may be closer than she thinks.


This is another superior novel from Melody Carlson. The book starts off with an action packed scene in a airplane involving terrorists and it doesn't stop there. Suicide is a topic that no one likes to talk about but that teens face everyday. The topic of the violence in video games was very much appreciated. I cannot understand how parents knowingly allow their kids to get games with so much killing and gore in it. I felt for Garrett and the situation with his father. I shudder to think how many people are in his situation due to verbal abusive from family members. The characters in this series are really realistic and likable. I like the subplots involving Olivia and her quest to get into the band. Samantha again shows how mature of a teenager she is especially involving situations with her mother and brother. Most people would end up suffering from being in a dysfunctional family. This is one of the best teen fiction books out there, serious with hard hitting issues yet entertaining at the same time. Melody Carlson has really outdone herself.

Beyond Reach by Melody Carlson is published by Multnomah (2007)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Movie Review: "The Last Sin Eater"

I read The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers ages ago. I enjoyed it when I originally read it but I remember that I had difficulty understanding it first. I had never heard of a Sin Eater before so I was confused plus the accents of the characters is written into their speech so I had trouble reading with the flow. But I do remember I really enjoyed reading the book as Francine Rivers is one of my all time favorite authors.

So when I heard this book was becoming a movie I was excited. Although I would have been more excited if her Mark of the Lion series came out but I suppose that might be too risque for Christian viewers. I enjoyed watching the movie. I'm always afraid of adaptations because they either leave huge chunks out or change the story completely. I never understand why the plot gets changed, if you are trying to lure in readers of the book to watch the movie, you will only anger them.

Since it's been a while since I read the book, I didn't really notice any huge differences. One big thing though is they did not show Cadi's brother but since I can barely remember what he did in the book, it doesn't really hurt the movie. I was disappointed however that they didn't explain what happens to everyone in the end. The elder Cadi is narrating the story to her granddaughter but this is never mentioned at all. The viewers won't know about the family connections that the readers will remember. The final scene in graveyard isn't as anticlimactic as it was portrayed in the book. I also suppose they wanted to have a happy ending involved the Kai.

The movie making itself is lovely. The scenery is beautiful especially the shots of the mountain. They chose a beautiful setting. However the scene with the log over the river had a horrible special effects scene shot. It was so obviously it was set on a blue screen and it looked really bad. I wish they could have fixed it, it was so blatantly obvious it ruined the moment. But other than this, it's an excellent movie. The scene that really affected me was the Indian massacre. It chills you at how evil that guy was. The acting is quite good. The girl who plays Cadi is wonderful. I recommend this movie for fans of the book and for those that enjoy a good family movie.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Book Review: "Notes from a Spinning Planet - Papua New Guinea" by Melody Carlson


Definitely Not Paradise

Maddie is off again on another global adventure with her Aunt Sid. After hitting the green hills of Ireland, they're traveling to the other side of the world to Papua New Guinea. Sid wants to write an article about how the country is unsafe for Americans and also plans to research the AIDS epidemic that is a major crisis for the country. While there, Maddie meets Lydia, who has been adopted by missionaries. It is through her that Maddie learns really what it is like to live in a country that really needs to hear about God's word.

Ok honest time here again: I didn't know anything about Papau New Guinea other than where it was located. My boyfriend's brother lived there this year for 3 months for his job but other than that I have never paid any attention to this country. However after reading this book I learned so much about the AIDS crisis. I had no idea that this was such a huge problem in Papau New Guinea. My heart goes out to those affected by the disease there especially those that are suffering due to rape. This book has a more serious tone than the first one in the series. This time Maddie and Sid are not here on vacation. They're not relaxing or looking for a good time. I really liked learning about the country and the different culture that is there. Reading about missionaries always inspires me. I greatly admire those who are able to get out of their comfort zones to help others get to know about their faith. It was nice though to read about Lydia's family with their comforts of an American home amid a foreign country. I also enjoyed reading about the layover in Hawaii and I share Maddie's confusion about the International Date Line. This series so makes me want to go traveling across the world. Another excellent work from Melody Carlson.

Notes from a Spinning Planet - Papua New Guinea by Melody Carlson is published by Waterbrook (2007)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This Week's Book Giveaway

Congrats to Nora for winning a copy of And If I Die by John Aubrey Anderson.

I'll be having another book giveaway next week. Be sure to come back to enter!

Book Review: "Off the Record" by Elizabeth White


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


OFF THE RECORD
(Zondervan August 15, 2007)
by

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beth White is the author of Fireworks and Fair Game, as well as the critically acclaimed Texas Gatekeepers serie from Love Inspired Suspense.

In her own words, she appreciate her most valued roles as wife and mom. Beth is also a second-grade Sunday school teacher, church orchestra member (She plays flute), and artist. She loves to read, crochet, sew, go on mission trips and avoid housework.

Beth lives in Mobile with her minister husband, and is currently on staff at First Baptist Church of North Mobile (fondly known as NoMo), in Saraland, Alabama.


ABOUT THE BOOK:
Ambition is on a collision course with a secret from the past.

Judge Laurel Kincade, a rising political star, is announcing her candidacy for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Her aristocratic Old South family, led by her judge grandfather, beams as she takes the podium. Then her eyes light on a reporter in the crowd…and suddenly her past becomes a threat to her future.

Journalist Cole McGaughan, religion reporter for the New York Daily Journal, has received an intriguing call from an old friend. Private investigator Matt Hogan has come across a tip…that Laurel's impeccable reputation might be a facade. Matt suggests that Cole dig up the dirt on the lovely judge in order to snag his dream job as one of the Journal's elite political reporters.

There's just one problem: Cole's history is entangles with Laurel's and he must decide if the story that could make his career is worth the price he'd have to pay.

A sensational scoop becomes a roller coaster ride of emotions. Can Laurel and Cole find forgiveness and turn their hidden past into a hopeful future...while keeping their feelings off the record?


You can't hide your love away

This book is great to read during election season. You get to see the insides of what it is like to run for office. It's not just shaking hands, and kissing babies, making promises you won't be able to keep. For Laurel it was harder because she was female. She was also a clean candidate, something the media hates because it thrives on flaws. I don't think I could ever run for office because I wouldn't want some forgotten part of my past brought out into public. I really liked Laurel's character. She was a strong female lead who did not give in easily when the going got tough. I liked Cole, I felt sorry for him at times but overall I thought he was a good guy. (The guy on the back cover who's supposed to be him looks like McDreamy!) The portrayal of the South as the setting fits perfectly with the novel. This book shows the high price of being famous and in the spotlight. It was really disturbing to see how the media will try to bring down someone. The scene when the editor says they would pay more if Laurel's career was ended by scandal was very eye awakening. It's sad to think of how money hungry the media is and even more appalling how the public thrives on tabloid news on famous people. Why are we happy when we see those in power crumble? This was not only an enjoyable read but one that made you think as well. Elizabeth White has written another winner. I'm really looking forward to her next book.

Off the Record by Elizabeth White is published by Zondervan (2007)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Book Review: "Bad Connection" by Melody Carlson


God is there, there's no denying, It's supernatural

Samantha McGregor is your normal, average, everyday teen girl. Except for one thing: she gets visions from God. She uses her unique spiritual gift to help out others in need. In this book, Samantha sees visions of one of her classmates who has been missing for several weeks. Everyone seems to think that Kayla has just run away from home, but Samantha sees her being tied up and in danger. She turns to the police for help to save her friend. But what if this is just her imagination working overtime?

First things first. This is not a Christian version of "Medium." Yes Samantha can see supernatural visions of the present and glimpses of the future. But she is very quick to defend that this is as a spiritual gift from God. I really enjoyed this book. It's a unique type of teen fiction and Melody Carlson handles it superbly. The storyline was excellent. I didn't know what was going to happen and was really awed by the twists and turns throughout the book. I liked how you have would the plot dealing with Kara and Sam's visions but also have Sam living a normal teen life. Sam is not portrayed as a someone who tries to flaunt her powers, instead she only wants to help out others. At times it'd be creepy seeing what she saw. I have no idea what I would do if something like this ever happened to me. She also acts very mature for her age in dealing with the police. The situation that Kara eventually found herself in, unfortunately, is all too real and there are many girls that have fallen prey to men like that. A good precautionary lesson mentioned there. I would highly recommend this book for teens. Melody Carlson has proved again that when it comes to teen fiction, she is the best author.

Bad Connection by Melody Carlson is published by Multnomah (2006)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Book Review: "Notes from a Spinning Planet - Ireland"


Erin go Bragh

Nineteen year old Maddie is traveling to Ireland with her Aunt Sid and Ryan, her aunt's godson. Her aunt is researching the peace camps affected by the Irish conflict with the Protestants and the Catholics. Meanwhile Maddie and Ryan explore the Irish countryside and discover the beautiful country while learning about the people and the culture. While there Ryan discovers his Irish roots and the story about his father and mother. Maddie and him then discover the truth about the IRA bomb that killed his father and what really happened to the man Sid loved.


I have always wanted to visit Ireland. I really want to see the green hills and listen to bagpipes and see the sheep. In fact I've already made plans to go to Ireland for my honeymoon one day. Heh. Reading this book was like taking the trip from my armchair. I learned lots about the culture and the people from reading. Little tidbits like stores not having bottled water or biking tours made the book more authentic like a guidebook. I learned quite a bit from reading this book about the IRA. I always used to get them confused with the IRS. This book made me understand more about what the conflict is going on in that country and how religion is a big factor in the fighting. It was sad to read about all those affected by the fighting. I also appreciated how the situation with drinking was portrayed. I understand how Maddie felt about seeing Ryan and her aunt drinking and being uncomfortable. But I also liked it how Maddie had to struggle with trying to explain why just having one drink is wrong. No one ever forced her to drink a beer, she did it on her own and then found out she didn't like it. I could have told Maddie that Guinness is horrible tasting, exactly how she described it! Drinking is not promoted in this book at all, it just gives a view that maybe as Christians we should find out why we say no to something before condemning others. I really enjoyed reading this book. It definitely makes me want to go to Ireland now more than ever. Teens will really enjoy reading this series.

Notes from a Spinning Planet - Ireland by Melody Carlson is published by Waterbrook (2006)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Movie Review: "Thr3e"

I'm going to admit this. I have never read a Ted Dekker book before. Well I take that back. I read House, his collaboration with Frank Peretti and I really enjoyed it. But I've never actually sat down with a Ted Dekker book. I really don't have an excuse either. But after seeing this movie, I think I might have to make up for lost time.

I usually end up avoiding Christian produced movies because the actors aren't very good, the special effects are really cheap looking, and the message comes off too preachy. It just doesn't come across as very appealing to me especially after watching the big blockbusters.

This movie however, I really enjoyed watching. The acting was really good. The actors aren't household names although you might recognize Marc Blucas from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The special effects rival those in blockbusters. And the storyline was excellent. Like I said, I haven't read the book so I don't know how much was changed or left off but from what I saw, I liked. It's a Christian movie, but it's not preachy at all. Yet you leave with a sense of deeper knowledge of what faith really is about. A quick plot telling is that Kevin, a seminary student is being hounded by a killer who tells him that he must confess his sins or else he will die. It's really intense.

I think though that my family enjoyed watching this movie more than others would because we don't normally watch scary thrillers like this. For those who have seen Saw or others in that genre, this is just child's play. There's no gore, sex, extreme violence, or even cursing. This will just bore them because they are so trained to needed excessive visual imagery that they cannot enjoy a good storyline. For us though, we were deliciously creeped out (my mom even yelled out in a couple of places) and it definitely gave me the creeps after watching it.

The actress who played Belinda seemed to play her really over the top. What was weird was that same weekend I had been watching the James Bond movie "License to Kill" and the same actress is in it. She played Felix's wife that got killed and what a completely different character that was. It's amazing what a difference 20 years makes. I wouldn't have recognized her if I hadn't noticed the name.

Fox Faith has done an excellent job with putting Christian movies out into the mainstream world. Movies like this are doing a good job with catching the eye of those who would normally avoid anything to do with Christianity. I hope they put out more good movies like this. The trailer for House looks like it falls into the genre of House of Wax or The Hills are Alive. Won't those folks be surprised when they see what it really is about.

I highly recommend everyone to watch this movie. And don't give me excuses about how Christians shouldn't be watching scary movies.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Book Review: "She Who Watches" by Patricia Rushford and Harrison James


Mac is Back

Sara Watson has disappeared from her home. Because she is the niece of the state senator, this attracts more media attention and makes the case more high profile. Detectives Mac McAllister and Dana Bennett are called in to help the FBI with the investigation. When her body is found near an Indian reservation questions begin to rise about who the killer is and the connections it might have to her senator uncle. The final entry in the MacAllister does not disappoint.

This was an excellent suspense novel. It was like watching a TV show, CSI comes to mind. The detective work is serious not cheesy with the police actually being competent and not bumbling characters. Mac and Dana make a good team and the secondary characters add more dimension to the story as well. The forensics team in this series is awesome. I've learned quite a bit from reading the descriptions of what the medical examiners discover. I will admit there are some grisly images but it keeps in with reality. Especially creepy was the scene where they dug up the body in the flowerbed. I honestly had no clue who the culprit really was and was quite shocked by the result. I had to flip back and catch up on clues.

The writing is top notch with suspense, humor, and realism all blended together. I did like how Mac's relationships finally came to a agreement. Throughout the whole series you never knew who he was going to end up with. I also appreciated the explanations about Native American religions and ways of life.
I'm really sad that the series is over. I love Patricia Rushford's novels and this series is definitely a favorite. I think it'd be really cool to have her four detectives get together in a book - Jennie McGrady, Helen Bradley, Mac, and Angel Delaney. She is one of the best mystery authors out there.

She Who Watches by Patricia Rushford and Harrison James is published by Thomas Nelson (2006)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

And If I Die by John Aubrey Anderson 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, August 15. Good luck!




This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


AND IF I DIE

(Faithwords August 2007)


by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


John grew up in Mississippi cotton country. After graduating from Mississippi State, he received an Air Force commission and has recently retired after flying twenty-eight years for a major airline. He lives in Texas with his wife, Nan.






ABOUT THE BOOK:

AND IF I DIE is the third book in the Black and White Chronicles. The first was Abiding Darkness (August, 2006), the second was Wedgewood Grey (February, 2007).

In 1945, a spirit voice told Mr. A. J. Mason to “Be ready.”

In 1960, the spirit drew near and said the same words to the same man. “Be ready.”

On both occasions Mason ended up in bloody battles with the forces of evil. On both occasions, he saved the life of a young girl named Missy Parker. And on both occasions good people died.

It’s 1968.Missy Parker has been married to Dr. Patrick Patterson for nine years; they live in Denton, Texas. Missy plays tennis and golf; Pat is chairman of the philosophy department at North Texas State University.

Mose Washington, a black man Missy refers to as her almost-daddy, is hiding behind a new name—Mose Mann. Mose and the young black man who poses as his grandson have spent eight years successfully evading the FBI, a murderous congresswoman, and creatures from the demonic realm. They now live in Pilot Hill, Texas—fifteen miles from Pat and Missy. Mose is committing the autumn of his life to the pursuit of the knowledge of God and the protection of his “grandson”. His “grandson” is interested in honing his skills as a bull rider.

Close friends see portents of danger in events of the early summer and converge on Pilot Hill to warn the two black men that yet another confrontation with malevolent beings may be looming.

In the pre-dawn hours, on the second day of the North Texas Rodeo, the voice of an invisible being speaks to Missy Parker Patterson. The voice warns her that it is now she, not A. J. Mason, who has been chosen as the person who needs to “Be ready” . . . and Missy doesn’t want the job.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Book Review: "Bitter Rose" by Melody Carlson




Family Feud

Maggie's family is going through a very rough time. Her parents have separated and on the verge of getting a divorce. Their bitterness spreads to Maggie who wants her parents to get back together and realize that they can work things out. But this won't happen because Maggie blames her mom for her dad leaving. Feeling as though her family has failed her, she turns to her aunt with whom she can share her true feelings with. However when the truth about her parents' split comes out and a tragedy strikes the family, Maggie has to learn whether she really wants this bitterness to take control of her life.


Once again, Melody Carlson focuses on another subject that is touchy among the Christian church. Divorce is not something a lot of people like to talk about. Therefore teens who are in families that have divorce often have no one to talk to and go through their suffering alone. Maggie's pain is understandable. No one wants to see their family split up. You don't want to see the two people who are supposed to promote family unity just give up and walk out on you. It makes sense that Maggie is bitter and cynical towards her parents. I just didn't like though how she didn't have all the facts and kept lashing out at her mother and blaming her for the split. She didn't give her a chance to explain and kept siding with her dad. So when the truth finally comes out, it hurts Maggie more than anything. I'm glad the ending of the novel doesn't end happily. Many Christian novels have everyone making up with the family getting back together and hugs all around. Unfortunately that is not always realistic. Maggie's faith keeps her strong throughout this whole ordeal. There is a subplot which involves teen drinking and the ill effects of it. With both parents involved with their own affairs, there's no one for Maggie to turn to so she gives into peer pressure and then pays for the consequences. This is an excellent book for teens who have experienced divorce. Highly recommended teen reading.

Bitter Rose
by Melody Carlson is published by NavPress (2006)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Book Review: "Sophie's Dilemma" by Lauraine Snelling


Impulsive Choices

Lauraine Snelling takes us back again to Blessing, North Dakota. This time she tells us the story of Sophie Knutson, daughter of Kaaren and Lars and twin sister of Grace. When Hamre Bjorkland returns, Sophie finds her childhood crush has grown to love. Against her father's wishes, she convinces Hamre to elope and they move to Seattle. However married life is not all that Sophie thought it would be and she soon finds that her honeymoon is not paradise. Unfortunately disaster strikes and Sophie must return back to Blessing, alone and now pregnant.

I really love the Bjorklund family. I've been reading the series for several years now and it's really cool to see the younger generation growing up. It seemed like yesterday that Ellie, Sophie, Grace and Astrid were all babies, now they're all grown women. Sophie is very headstrong compared with her twin. She is very young when she runs off with Hamre and learns from her mistake almost at once. I feel sorry for her because everything takes place so suddenly and she has no idea what to do. She is more feisty than Grace, who at first comes off as a "perfect" character. I'm glad though that Grace was portrayed being very angry with Sophie and took a while to forgive her. I didn't like Garth at first. I hate reading about men who abandon their children after their wife dies. I just don't like men who are so obsessed with their wives that they blame the new baby for killing her. He runs away without any thought for his children and thrusts them upon others to raise. It is not mentioned in this book but his relationship with his kids is going to be rocky from now on. One thing that was quite a shock was how two members of the Bjorkland family suddenly die in the middle of the book. It came out of nowhere and I was rather surprised. I also want to know why no one mentions about word getting sent to the oldest son still in Norway, did they forget about him? This is a wonderful book, an excellent addition to the Red River Saga. I'm looking forward to reading Grace's story and hopefully Astrid's as well.

Sophie's Dilemma
by Lauraine Snelling is published by Bethany House (2007)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Movie Review: Half Nelson"

Every year I make a goal to watch all the major nominated Academy Award movies. Usually I end up watching only half of them because someone end up being too much on the R-rated side for me to stand. I don't usually watch rated R movies because I don't like watching gore, sex, language or heavy violence in my entertainment. The Oscars are usually my exception because they're supposed to be the best movies of the year.

Ryan Gosling plays Dan Dunn, an inner city junior high history teacher. He's not your average teacher as he doesn't base his teachings on the curriculum, as is able to draw his students to learn more. However he has a secret he's been hiding, he is also a drug addict. When one of his students discovers this secret, they form a bond that will either damage or strengthen their relationship.

Ryan Gosling was gosh darned good in this role. He totally deserved the Best Actor nomination he received. To me he'd always been the blond hot guy from Breaker High or Young Hercules. To most people he's the dude from The Notebook or Rachel McAdam's boyfriend. Hopefully now he can come into his own as he'll always be "Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling" every time he's billed.

Yes there is a LOT of drug use in this movie. I know that the drugs used in the movie are fake but it's uncomfortable watching the amount that is used. It's pretty disconcerting especially during the scenes when Frank gets Drey to help him out on his drug runs. I love the indie feel to the movie. It makes you feel like you are watching real life instead of some big over budgeted blockbuster. This is a movie where I cannot recommend it to everyone. It's not a movie you would go to be entertained. It's a movie that makes you think.

This movie is rated R for drug content throughout, language and sexuality.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


RETURN TO ME
by
Robin Lee Hatcher


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robin is the author of over fifty novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by Library Journal.

Winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robin, who is also one of our CFBA members, lives in Boise, Idaho.

Here is my review from back in June


Who says you can't go home again?

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.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bad Idea - Todd & Jedd Hafer



It is AUGUST 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 author(s) are:






and their book:



BAD IDEA a novel (with coyotes)

(NavPress TH1NK Books, August 22, 2006)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(s):


Todd and Jedd Hafer previously teamed up to write Snickers from the Front Pew: Confessions of Two Preacher's Kids, which has now sold more than fifty thousand units.

Todd is editorial director for the inspirational book division at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jedd is director at The Children's Ark in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a home for troubled teens, and travels the country as a standup comedian.

Visit them at their website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter 1

“We should totally drive!” Rhonda said, wagging a limp french fry for emphasis.

I clenched my teeth. I hate it when adults try to talk like teenagers. Rhonda does it all the time. Her efforts are particularly grating to me because she does, in fact, employ the teen vernacular, but always, always at least one season too late.

Thus, my father’s 28-year-old fiancée didn’t say “Congratulations!” when I was inducted into Quill & Scroll (the National Honor Society for high school journalists) early in my senior year. She said, “Big ups to you, G!” And when I was named Honorable Mention All-Area in track and field (small-school division), she didn’t say “Way to go!” She said, “Big respect, G-Man! You got the mad wheels, homey!”

If she says, “I’m feelin’ you, dawg,” during one more of our Dad-initiated dinnertime theological discussions, I’m going to puke on her shoes.

Fortunately for Rhonda, and all of the people at the Big Bear Diner on the night the road trip was conceived, I didn’t barf when she said, “We should totally drive!” I raised my eyes to the ceiling and said, “I don’t think we should totally drive. I don’t even think we should partially drive.”

I looked across the booth to my dad to accept the disapproving glare I knew he would be offering. I smiled at him. It was my infuriating, smug smile. I practice it in the bathroom mirror. It’s so irritating that when I see my reflection doing it, I want to punch myself in the face.

My dad didn’t hit me. That wasn’t his style. He just nibbled his bottom lip for a while before saying calmly, “I think we should give the idea due consideration rather than reject it out of hand.”

“Okay,” I said, sipping my bitter iced tea, “let’s hear why we should cram ourselves into a car and drive for, what, three or four days to Southern California, stomping on each other’s raw nerves all along the way and probably breaking down somewhere near the Kansas-Colorado border. Or maybe getting in a wreck.”

Rhonda looked at my dad, giving him her Wounded Face, all droopy eyes and puckered chin and poofed-out lower lip. You know the look.

He looked at her, then at me. “Griffin, please . . .”

“Okay, okay, okay—you’re right, you guys. Yeah, you know, now that I consider The Rhonda Eccles-Someday-To-Be-Smith Plan carefully, it’s sounding better. I mean, why would I want to enjoy a quick, economical, and stress-free flight when we could all cram into a tired old vehicle and drive? Let’s go with the option that means more time, more money, more risks, more headaches.”

Rhonda tried to smile, but she couldn’t get the corners of her tiny heart-shaped mouth to curl upward. “Well,” she said quietly, “I just thought it would be bomb to make a road trip of it. See the country. Stop at mom-and-pop diners, like the Big Bear here. Maybe spend a day in Denver—hit an amusement park or catch a Rockies game. Griff, please be more open-minded. Think of the time it would give us to kick it.”

“We talk now,” I observed.

“Yessss,” she said, drawing the word out as though it had sprung a slow leak. She wrapped her long, slender fingers around her coffee mug and took a sip. “But in the car, you wouldn’t be able to run away from the convo whenever it got too intense for you.”

I pushed my chair back from the table and popped up like a piece of toast. I was ready to wad my napkin and spike it like a football on the table before marching out of the Big Bear. Then, only a half second before the Great Napkin Spike, I realized that would be proving her point.

Rhonda was studying me. I scrolled my mind for options on saving face, because since she had unofficially joined our family, I had lost more face than Michael Jackson. But I scrolled in vain. My brain was nothing but blank screen.

Now other patrons were watching me too. I could feel their stares. An idea began to emerge. It wasn’t a good idea, but it was all I had, so I went with it. I said, with an air of dignified indignation, “Well, I’m going back to the buffet for another muffin. Would anybody else care for one?”

This is why I’ll never be a politician, a courtroom litigator, a public speaker—or a success in anything that requires more than a modicum of human interaction. I have my moments, but rarely can I think on my feet when I’m around people. Half the time, I can’t think off of ’em either. Maybe this is why track is the only sport I’m good at. All you must do is keep alternating left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, and turn left every once in a while. I found football and basketball too taxing mentally. They say Larry Bird was a hoops legend because he could foresee plays unfolding before they actually happened. So he always executed the perfect pass, put himself in position for nearly every rebound, stole inbounds passes at will. The game didn’t take him by surprise. Not the case with me. I played organized basketball in junior high and the first two years of high school. And every time I got a jump shot swatted back in my face or ran into a hard pick, it was like a new, albeit unpleasant, experience. So I became a track man. I run the 1600 and 3200 meters—that’s the mile and two-mile for those of you still holding strong in the anti-metric resistance.

I should note that I’m also adequate in cross-country. I often panic before races, though, because many of the courses are complicated. Even after reading the maps posted near the starting line, I don’t understand where I’ll be going. And you know those diagrams at big malls, the ones that assure that YOU ARE HERE? I study them, stare at them. Then I look around the actual mall and become convinced that the diagram has no concept of where I am. The diagram is mighty presumptuous, if not outright cruel and dishonest. How can it purport to know where I am? Half the time, I don’t know that myself.

Luckily, at a mall I can always find some low-rise-jeans-wearing Mall Girls to lead me to the Food Court, and in cross-country I can follow the other runners. If I’d ever lead a race, I’d be in trouble, but this was never a problem in four years of high school, so there’s no chance it will be a problem in college. Assuming I can even make the team. Sure, I did receive one of Lewis College’s supposedly prestigious Scholar/Athlete scholarships, but I suspect it was part of some Be Kind to Kansas White Boys quota system. I’m not convinced I won’t fold like a beach chair during my first college race—or first final exam.

Anyway, I give Rhonda credit (or in Rhonda-speak, “mad props”) for not snort-laughing at my pathetic muffin excuse. She said she could “totally go for another blueberry” and smiled at me as I left the table.

When I returned, she waited as I carefully peeled the pale yellow corrugated paper away from my muffin, then hers, being careful not to break off the stumps. I hate when that happens. Destroys the integrity of the muffin.

“Before you dis the driving idea,” Rhonda said after buttering her muffin, “there’s something you should know.”

I looked at her and arched my eyebrows.

“I talked to Cole yesterday. He’s totally down with the plan. We can drop him off at Boulder on the way to So-Cal. Think of the time you guys will have together. You’ll really be able to kick it, ya know.”

I nodded toward my little brother. “What about Colby?”

“Yeah,” he said, wiping chocolate milk from his upper lip with his shirtsleeve. “What about me?”

“You’ll stay at Aunt Nicole’s crib in Topeka, my little dude,” Rhonda said cheerfully.

Colby crinkled his nose. “Crib? I’m not a stinkin’ baby! I’m five. I won’t sleep in a crib!”

“Her house,” I clarified for Colby. “‘Crib’ is what they call houses back in da ’hood where Rhonda is from. Rural Wisconsin.”

“Oh,” Colby said.

I looked to Dad for a scowl again, but he was busy patting Rhonda’s hand and whispering reassurance to her.

“I’m just kidding, Rhonda,” I said without looking at her. “Don’t get all sentimental. Hey, it was a good idea to call Cole. And if he’s ‘down widdit,’ so am I.”

Rhonda’s eyes were moist, but now they were shining-hopeful moist, not somber-moist. “So it’s a road trip then?” she said.

I sighed. It sounded like one of my dad’s sighs. Too long and too loud. Heaven help me. “Sure,” I said, “why not.”

I was quiet on the drive home. All I could think of was how I was going to talk Cole out of the trip. First, of course, I’d need to find something to calm myself down so I wouldn’t go Rant City on him. He tends to shut down when I do that. I hoped I hadn’t exhausted my supply of vodka, that I still had a bottle or two tucked away in my sock drawer. Otherwise I’d have to resort to NyQuil and Peppermint Artificial Flavoring again. And let me tell you, that’s a rough way to get yourself mellow. (Of course, it does provide the side benefits of the clearest nasal passages and freshest breath in town.)

***

“What kind of Midwest mojo did Rhonda use on you?” I asked Cole as soon as I heard his flat “Hullo?” on the other end of the phone line. “A road trip with my dad and his cliché? I mean, this is a joke, right?”

I watched the seconds morph by on my LCD watch. After eighteen of them passed, Cole said, “You need to relax, dude. The trip will be cool. It’s more time together before we have to go our separate ways. And it’s a real road trip—not just some one-day, there-and-back thing. We’ve always talked about doing something like this, remember? To be honest, I thought you’d be all over this thing.”

“But this isn’t a normal thing, Sharp. This isn’t going to St. Louis to see the Cardinals at Busch, before they tore it down, with a bunch of guys from school. There is a bona fide adult in the equation—one-point-five if you count Rhonda. So it’s no longer a road trip; it’s a chaperoned ordeal. You understand that there will be no hard music on the CD player? No Hatebreed. No Gwar. Dad listens to only classical and old-school rock. And Rhonda likes those guys who are like twenty years old but sing like sixty-year-old opera stars. That crap freaks me out, man. And there will be no mooning busloads of girls’ volleyball teams along the way.”

“It’s not volleyball season yet,” Cole said. This was no attempt at a snappy retort on his part. The way he said it, he was just pointing out a fact, such as, “Augusta is the capital of Maine.”

I sensed I was losing the argument. “You won’t be able belch in the car, or swear. My dad ‘abhors profanity.’ You know that.” I wondered if I sounded as shrill and desperate as I felt.

“His ride, his rules. Besides, you like old-school rock, and it’s kinda starting to grow on me.”

“Okay, but consider this: Before we go, my dad will make us circle up and hold hands while he blesses the stupid SUV before the trip. And since we’ll probably have to rent one of those small trailers to haul all our stuff, he’ll probably get on a roll and bless that, too: ‘Father God, please bless this little U-Haul and all of its contents.’ Those words probably have never been uttered in the history of the English language. And he’ll make a plea for ‘traveling mercies.’ Traveling mercies! That sounds like the name of a really bad folk-rock group. Are you understanding how all of this is going to go down?”

“Praying for our trip—I’m cool with that.”

“Did you hear me say we’ll have to hold hands?”

“Dude, I would hold hands with Rhonda any day. She’s a fly honey.”

“What about me? Or my dad?”

“The team held hands in football huddles all the time. It’s only a problem if you’re insecure in your masculinity.”

I did my involuntary Dad-sigh again. “Okay, man. I guess it’s on, then.”

It’s on, then? I wagged my head in disbelief. That was something Rhonda would say. I don’t talk like that.