Thursday, May 29, 2008

bleh...brief hiatus

i've been so busy the past few days (And did you see that Lost Finale??? OMG!!!!! )

haven't had time to actually write the posts! i have a bunch of book reviews and movie reviews so don't think i've gone off the blogging world. will be back to regular posting on monday.

until then i leave you with this blast from the past (leave a comment if you remember this)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Ruby Among Us

(WaterBrook Press May 20, 2008)

by

Tina Ann Forkner



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband and their three children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors with her family, and works as a full-time writer.






ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past...

In Ruby Among Us, Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art─but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty can shield her from the memory of the mother she can no longer remember. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide from the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento, to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search for a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is enigmatic and stirring in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.

“What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
~Point of Grace~

“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.”
~Jordin Sparks~, 2007 winner of American Idol

“Highly recommended. If you’re a mother or daughter, you’re going to love Ruby Among Us. Forkner does an extraordinary job…. I look forward to more from this author.”
~Ane Mulligan~, Novel Journey

“Don’t miss this one! Tina Ann Forkner is a strong new voice in fiction and Ruby Among Us is an amazing story of trials, regrets, and, ultimately, redemption. Lucy and her family history in the historic wine country of Sonoma bring to life the Scriptures about the Vine and His branches.”
~Kristin Billerbeck~, author of The Trophy Wives Club


If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Review: "On the Loose" by Jenny B. Jones


Life In Between

Katie Parker's still hanging around In Between with her foster parents. She's managed to finally start to settle down and get used to things. However just as she's starting to relax, news comes that her foster mother has cancer. Then she has to deal with the snobby girlfriend of her science partner. Her archenemy has declared war on her and accuses her of stealing. The Scott's daughter returns and tries to reclaim her place at the family home. Then to top it off, Katie hears that her mom wants her back. Will life ever go back to normal?

Just like the first Katie Parker book in the series, I totally had a blast reading this book. It brought me back to my high school days (not necessarily a good thing lol). I think Katie is one of the best characters for teen readers these days. She is going through everything a regular teen faces and she handles them totally realistic. I laughed over the scenes with Charlie and his girlfriend because I know exactly how it feels to be in Katie's situation. I can't stand guys who are blind to their girlfriend's faults and can't see when a girl is using them. Chelsea really got on my nerves because Katie reluctantly did try to befriend her but still got the cold shoulder from her. You can bet I was rooting for Katie at the end of the book. I was really glad to see the Scotts' final reaction to Amy's behavior. If it had been anything less, I would have been severely disappointed in the characters. But I was pleased to read about their decision and I supported them completely. I also understood about how Katie felt during this whole situation. I thought that her foster parents could have been a bit more understanding but it's also easy to see why there was a lack of communication.

This is one of the best YA series out there and I would definitely recommend it as an alternative over the highly secular Gossip Girl books. Looking forward to reading my copy of the 3rd book.

On the Loose by Jenny B. Jones is published by NavPress (2007)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Skid by Rene Gutteridge and Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book Skid by Rene Gutteridge! 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 Monday, June 2. US readers only. Good luck!

Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain, a co-pilot with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant with an outsized attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.

On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled in-flight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier, and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith, whose personal mantra of “What Would Oprah Do?” will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard, whose unusually polite but constant requests–prompted by his covert role as a spy for the airline–test the limits of the crew’s customer service.

But as Lucy and the rest of the crew discover, Hank’s odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies.

Rene Gutteridge is the author of twelve novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, and the novelization for The Ultimate Gift, as well as Scoop and Snitch, the first two Occupational Hazard novels. She lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children in Oklahoma City.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Movie Review: "Juno"

I really did enjoy watching this movie. I think this movie actually ranks in my top 10 for this year. Ellen Page is just so darn cute as Juno. I love the clothes she wears in this movie. If I tried to pull it off, I'd just end up looking like a boy. And the words that come out of her mouth! Not foul language mind you, but just a lot of words. And shenanigans! Oh I loved that burger phone too.

I was pleasantly surprised that there was a pro-life slant focus in this movie. While it is not overtly in your place, it was really awesome to see Juno realize she cannot abort the baby because she's just learn babies have fingernails. Her parents were very supportive of her decision. I was surprised at how calm they were when she told them. This may be due to the fact that Juno is quite mature. She is more than ready to give the baby to someone who wants it because she knows she is not ready to take care of that responsibility at this point in her life.

I love Michael Cera as Paulie Bleeker. He was dorkily adorable. You could tell throughout the whole movie that he was in love with Juno. I was really glad to see that she went for that type of guy instead of the popular big man on campus. It was refreshing to see characters I liked get together with no middle man involved. The song they sang together at the end of the movie was just too cute for words.

I did feel at times that Juno acted much older than a normal 16 year old would. I was also leery of the scenes with Juno and Mark. I was just afraid his reasons for what he did would involve her. I was relieved at Juno's reaction. I think she was just thinking about what a cool dad her baby was going to have and how much they had in common. Her step mom's advice to her was spot on and greatly appreciated.

But I will say out of all the Best Picture nominees this year, this is by far the most tame and the most uplifting of all the movies. I mean, there's a happy ending AND no one dies. I would recommend this movie for adults and older mature teens. I think that the positives outweigh the negatives in this movie (teen sex) enough that this movie can be enjoyed and lessons learned as well.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Broken Angel

(WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)

by

Sigmund Brouwer



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen best-selling novels for children and adults. His newest book is Fuse of Armageddon and his novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. A champion of literacy, he teaches writing workshops for students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.
She fights to soar.

A father's love for his daughter…a decision that would change both their lives forever. But who is she really─and why must she now run for her life?

Caitlin's body has made her an outcast, a freak, and the target of vicious bounty hunters. As she begins a perilous journey, she is forced to seek answers for her father's betrayal in the only things she can carry with her─a letter he passes her before forcing her to run, and their shared memories together.

Being hunted forces Caitlyn to partner with two equally lonely companions, one longing to escape the horror of factory life in Appalachia and the others, an unexpected fugitive. Together the three will fight to reach a mysterious group that might be friend or foe, where Caitlyn hopes to uncover the secrets of her past...and the destiny she must fulfill.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlyn’s existence–and understand her father’s betrayal.

Prepare yourself to experience a chilling America of the very near future, as you discover the unforgettable secret of the Broken Angel.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo



It's May 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!


and his book:


Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

Here are some of his titles:

Comes a Horseman

Germ

Deadfall




AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



“A house of which one knows every room isn't worth living in.”

—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa


Prologue


Thirty years ago

The walls of the house absorbed the woman’s screams, until they felt to her as muffled and pointless as yelling underwater. Still, her lungs kept pushing out cries for help. Her attacker carried her over his shoulder. The stench of his sweat filled her nostrils. He paid no heed to her frantic writhing, or the pounding of her fists on his back, or even her fingernails, which dug furrows into his flesh. He simply lumbered, as steadily as a freight train, through the corridors of the big house.

She knew where they were heading, but not where she would end up. In this house, nothing was normal, nothing as it appeared. So while she knew in advance the turns her attacker would take, which hallways and doors he would traverse, their destination was as unknowable as a faraway galaxy. And that meant her taking would be untraceable. She would be unreachable to searchers. To would-be rescuers. To her family— and that realization terrified her more than being grabbed out of her bed. More than the flashes of imagined cruelty she would suffer away from the protection of the people who loved her. More than death.

But then she saw something more terrifying: her children, scrambling to catch up, to help. Their eyes were wide, streaming. They stumbled up the narrow staircase behind her attacker, seeming far below, rising to meet her. The thought of them following her into the chasm of her fate was more than she could stand.

“Go back,” she said, but by this time her throat was raw, her voice weak.

The man reached the landing and turned into another corridor.

Temporarily out of sight, her son yelled, “Mom!” His seven-year-old voice was almost lost in the shrillness of his panic. He appeared on the landing. His socked feet slipped on the hardwood floor and he went down. Behind him, his little sister stopped. She was frightened and confused, too young to do anything more than follow her brother. He clambered up and started to run again.

A hand gripped his shoulder, jarring him back.

The boy’s father had something in his fist: the lamp from his nightstand! He past the boy in the hallway. His bare feet gave him traction.

Thank God, she thought.

He reached her in seconds. With the lamp raised over his head, he grabbed her wrist. He pulled, tried to anchor himself to the floor, to the carpeted runner now covering the wood planks. But the brute under her walked on, tugging him with them. The man yanked on her arm. Pain flared in her shoulder. He might as well have tried pulling her from a car as it sped passed.

She caught a glimpse of the bizarrely shaped light fixtures on the corridor walls—mostly carved faces with glowing eyes. The bulbs flickered in time with her racing heart. She could not remember any of the lights doing that before. It was as though the electrical current running through the wires was responding to a disruption in the way things were supposed to be, a glitch in reality.

“Henry,” she said, pleading, hopeful.

His grip tightened as he stumbled along behind them. He brought the lamp’s heavy base down on her assailant. If the man carrying her flinched, she did not feel it. If he grunted or yelled out, she did not hear it.

What he did was stop. He spun around so quickly, the woman’s husband lost his grip on her. And now facing the other direction, she lost sight of him. Being suddenly denied her husband’s visage felt like getting the wind knocked out of her. She realized he was face to face with the man who’d taken her, and that felt like watching him step off a cliff.

“Nooo!” she screamed, her voice finding some volume. “Henry!”

His hand gripped her ankle, then broke free. The man under her moved in a violent dance, jostling her wildly. He spun again and her head struck the wall.

The lights went out completely . . . . but no, not the lights . . . her consciousness. It came back to her slowly, like the warmth of fire on a blistery day.

She tasted blood. She’d bitten her tongue. She opened her eyes. Henry was crumpled on the floor, receding as she was carried away. The children stood over him, touching him, calling him. Her son’s eyes found hers again. Determination hardened his jaw, pushed away the fear . . . at least a measure of it. He stepped over his father’s legs, coming to her rescue. Henry raised his head, weary, stunned. He reached for the boy, but missed.

Over the huffing breath of the man, the soft patter of her son’s feet reached her ears. How she’d loved that sound, knowing it was bringing him to her. Now she wanted it to carry him away, away from this danger. Her husband called to him in a croaking, strained voice. The boy kept coming.

She spread her arms. Her left hand clutched at open air, but the right one touched a wall. She clawed at it. Her nails snagged the wallpaper. One nail peeled back from her finger and snapped off.

Her assailant turned again, into a room—one of the small antechambers, like a mud room before the real room. He strode straight toward the next threshold.

Her son reached the first door, catching it as it was closing.

“Mom!” Panic etched old-man lines into his young face. His eyes appeared as wide as his mouth. He banged his shoulder on the jamb, trying to hurry in.

“Stay!” she said. She showed him her palms in a “stop” gesture, hoping he would understand, hoping he would obey. She took in his face, as a diver takes in a deep breath before plunging into the depths. He was fully in the antechamber now, reaching for her with both arms, but her captor had already opened the second door and was stepping through. The door was swinging shut behind him.

The light they were stepping into was bright. It swept around her, through the opening, and made pinpoints of the boy’s irises. His blue eyes dazzled. His cheeks glistened with tears. He wore his favorite pajamas—little R2D2s and C3P0s all over them, becoming threadbare and too small for him.

“I—“ she started, meaning to say she loved him, but the brute bounded downward, driving his shoulder into her stomach. Air rushed from her, unformed by vocal chords, tongue, lips. Just air.

“Moooom!” her son screamed. Full of despair. Reaching. Almost to the door.
“Mo—“

The door closed, separating her from her family forever.



1


Now

Saturday, 4:55 P.M.

“Nothing but trees,” the bear said in Xander’s voice. It repeated itself: “Nothing but trees.”

Xander King turned away from the car window and stared into the smiling furry face, with its shiny half-bead eyes and stitched-on nose. He said, “I mean it, Toria. Get that thing out of my face. And turn it off.”

His sister’s hands moved quickly over the teddy bear’s paws, all the while keeping it suspended three inches in front of Xander. The bear said, “I mean it, Toria. Get that—”

At fifteen years old, Xander was too old to be messing around with little-kid toys. He seized the bear, squeezing the paw that silenced it.

“Mom!” Toria yelled. ”Make him give Wuzzy back!” She grabbed for it.

Xander turned away from her, tucking Wuzzy between his body and the car door. Outside his window, nothing but trees—as he had said and Wuzzy had agreed. It reminded him of a movie, as almost everything did. This time, it was The Edge, about a bear intent on eating Anthony Hopkins. An opening shot of the wilderness where it was filmed showed miles and miles of lush forest. Nothing but trees.

A month ago, his dad had announced that he had accepted a position as principal of a school six hundred miles away, and the whole King family had to move from the only home Xander had ever known. It was a place he had never even heard of: Pinedale, almost straight north from their home in Pasadena. Still in California, but barely. Pinedale. The name itself said “hick,” “small,” and “If you don’t die here, you’ll wish you had.” Of course, he had screamed, begged, sulked, and threatened to run away. But in the end here he was, wedged in the back seat with his nine-year-old sister and twelve-year-old brother.

The longer they drove, the thicker the woods grew and the more miserable he became. It was bad enough, leaving his friends, his school—everything!—but to be leaving them for hicksville, in the middle of nowhere, was a stake through his heart.

“Mom!” Toria yelled again, reaching for the bear.

Xander squeezed closer to the door, away from her. He must have put pressure on the bear in the wrong place: It began chanting in Toria’s whiny voice: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

He frantically squeezed Wuzzy’s paws, but could not make it stop.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

The controls in the bear’s arms weren’t working. Frustrated by its continuous one-word poking at his brain—and a little concerned he had broken it and would have to buy her a new one—he looked to his sister for help.

She wasn’t grabbing for it anymore. Just grinning. One of those see-what-happens-when-you-mess-with-me smiles.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Xander was about to show her what happened when you messed with him—the possibilities ranged from a display of his superior vocal volume to ripping Mr. Wuzzy’s arms right off—when the absurdity of it struck him. He cracked up.

“I mean it,” he laughed. “This thing is driving me crazy.” He shook the bear at her. It continued yelling for their mother.

His brother David, who was sitting on the other side of Toria and who had been doing a good job of staying out of the fight, started laughing too. He mimicked the bear, who was mimicking their sister: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Mrs. King shifted around in the front passenger seat. She was smiling, but her eyes were curious.

“Xander broke Wuzzy!” Toria whined. “He won’t turn off.” She pulled the bear out of Xander’s hands.

The furry beast stopped talking: “Mo—” Then, blessed silence.

Toria looked from brother to brother and they laugh again.

Xander shrugged. “I guess he just doesn’t like me.”

“He only likes me,” Toria said, hugging it.

“Oh, brother,” David said. He went back to the PSP game that had kept him occupied most of the drive.

Mom raised her eyebrows at Xander and said, “Be nice.”

Xander rolled his eyes. He adjusted his shoulders and wiggled his behind, nudging Toria. “It’s too cramped back here. It may be an SUV, but it isn’t big enough for us anymore.”

“Don’t start that,” his father warned from behind the wheel. He angled the rearview mirror to see his son.

“What?” Xander said, acting innocent.

“I did the same thing with my father,” Dad said. “The car’s too small . . . it uses too much gas . . . it’s too run down . . . ”

Xander smiled. “Well, it is.”

“And if we get a new car, what should we do with this one?”

“Well . . . .” Xander said. “You know. It’d be a safe car for me.” A ten-year-old Toyota 4Runner wasn’t his idea of cool wheels, but it was transportation.

Dad nodded. “Getting you a car is something we can talk about, okay? Let’s see how you do.”

“I have my driver’s permit. You know I’m a good driver.”

“He is,” Toria chimed in.

David added, “And then he can drive us to school.”

“I didn’t mean just the driving,” Dad said. He paused, catching Xander’s eyes in the mirror. “I mean with all of this, the move and everything.”

Xander stared out the window again. He mumbled, “Guess I’ll never get a car, then.”

“Xander?” Dad said. “I didn’t hear that.”

“Nothing.”

“He said he’ll never get a car,” Toria said.

Silence. David’s thumbs clicked furiously over the PSP buttons. Xander was aware of his mom watching him. If he looked, her eyes would be all sad-like, and she would be frowning in sympathy for him. He thought maybe his dad was looking too, but only for an opportunity to explain himself again. Xander didn’t want to hear it. Nothing his old man said would make this okay, would make ripping him out of his world less awful than it was.

“Dad, is the school’s soccer team good? Did they place?” David asked. Xander knew his brother wasn’t happy about the move either, but jumping right into the sport he was so obsessed about went a long way toward making the change something he could handle. Maybe Xander was like that three years ago, just rolling with the punches. He couldn’t remember. But now he had things in his life David didn’t: friends who truly mattered, ones he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with. Kids didn’t think that way. Friends could come and go and they adjusted. True, Xander had known his current friends for years, but they hadn’t become like blood until the last year or so.

That got him thinking about Danielle. He pulled his mobile phone from his shirt pocket and checked it. No text messages from her. No calls. She hadn’t replied to the last text he’d sent. He keyed in another: “Forget me already? JK.” But he wasn’t Just Kidding. He knew the score: Out of sight, out of mind. She had said all the right things, like We’ll talk on the phone all the time; You come down and see me and I’ll come up to see you, okay? and I’ll wait for you.

Yeah, sure you will, he thought. Even during the past week, he’d sensed a coldness in her, an emotional distancing. When he’d told his best friend, Dean had shrugged. Trying to sound world-wise, he’d said, “Forget her, dude. She’s a hot young babe. She’s gotta move on. You too. Not like you’re married, right?” Dean had never liked Danielle.

Xander tried to convince himself she was just another friend he was forced to leave behind. But there was a different kind of ache in his chest when he thought about her. A heavy weight in his stomach.

Stop it! he told himself. He flipped his phone closed.

On his mental list of the reasons to hate the move to Pinedale, he moved on to the one titled “career.” He had just started making short films with his buddies, and was pretty sure it was something he would eventually do for a living. They weren’t much, just short skits he and his friends acted out. He and Dean wrote the scripts, did the filming, used computer software to edit an hour of video into five-minute films, and laid music over them. They had six already on YouTube—with an average rating of four-and-a-half stars and a boatload of praise. Xander had dreams of getting a short film into the festival circuit, which of course would lead to offers to do music videos and commercials, probably an Oscar and onto feature movies starring Russell Crowe and Jim Carrey. Pasadena was right next to Hollywood, a twenty-minute drive. You couldn’t ask for a better place to live if you were the next Steven Spielberg. What in God’s creation would he find to film in Pinedale? Trees, he thought glumly, watching them fly past his window.

Dad, addressing David’s soccer concern, said, “We’ll talk about it later.”

Mom reached through the seatbacks to shake Xander’s knee. “It’ll work out,” she whispered.

“Wait a minute,” David said, understanding Dad-talk as well as Xander did. “Are you saying they suck—or that they don’t have a soccer team? You told me they did!”

“I said later, Dae.” His nickname came from Toria’s inability as a toddler to say David. She had also called Xander Xan, but it hadn’t stuck.

David slumped down in his seat.

Xander let the full extent of his misery show on his face for his mother.

She gave his knee a shake, sharing his misery. She was good that way. “Give it some time,” she whispered. “You’ll make new friends and find new things to do. Wait and see.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Review: "Embrace Me" by Lisa Samson


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Embrace Me

(Thomas Nelson March 4, 2008)

by

Lisa Samson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."


In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…persons are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, ahs very few friends in this world and, it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE


Freaks and geeks

Lisa Samson's book always makes you think and this one is no different that the rest. Can you say EDGY?! I don't think I've ever read a Christian fiction book that deals with the type of people mentioned in this story. But these are stories that need to be told, because not everyone is living a picture perfect streak free Christian life. It's a heartbreaking story as you read what has happened in Drew and Valentine's lives. I nearly wanted to cry at times when reading because I felt the character's pain and suffering. Even though there are very few sideshow attractions such as the one portrayed in the story surviving today, it makes the reader think about what life is like for these "so-called freaks." How hard their life must be because they aren't born "normal" like the rest of us. I really don't know how Lella was able to be so upbeat and genuinely happy all the time. I don't think I could have accepted her situation quite so well. This isn't your normal happy ending novel. There is a lot of in your face stuff that a lot of Christians don't like touching. It will make you feel uncomfortable at times but it will also help you to understand more about God's infinite love and acceptance. This book is definitely edgy Christian fiction at its best. Lisa Samson has created another winner. HIGHLY recommended.


Embrace Me by Lisa Samson is published by Thomas Nelson (2008)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Review: "Daring Chloe" by Laura Jensen Walker


Learning how to live life

Chloe was supposed to be getting ready for her wedding. Everything has been planned from the ceremony, to the honeymoon, to the apartment the couple was to live in. But her fiance chose to text her the night before the wedding and called things off. Now she's living in a rut with nowhere to go. In comes her adventurous friend who suggests that Chloe joins a book club to help take her mind off things. But this isn't an ordinary book club. These women have decided their going to live out their literary adventures doing things they wouldn't normally dare to do. Chloe will have to let go of the predictable life she's lived and be prepared to face the unknown.

Laura Jensen Walker's books are always a joy to read. Her stories are always hard to put down and I usually find myself staying up late into the night to finish the novel. The characters are so relatable that you wish you could jump right in and be part of the book. Her latest one is no exception. Chloe's character makes you just want to hug her from the get go. I really detest guys like Chloe's fiance who decide to do the breakup right before the wedding. I felt that this was one of the worst ways to do a break up too. It just irks me how he couldn't let his feelings be known BEFORE all the planning had taken place. I felt Chloe's pain and I wouldn't wish feelings like that on anyone. I love reading books about book clubs. The selections chosen in this book were really interesting and has piqued my interest to look into them. I wish I could be a member of the Getaway Girls Club. They are probably the most energetic and fun to be around group of women I have ever read about. I loved reading about their adventures and wish I could be a part of them.

I absolutely loved reading about all the yummy French food. I so wish I could go to Paris now! Between this book and the movie Ratatouille, I am reading to take on France! I think the best part of the novel was seeing how Chloe changed throughout the book. This was one of the most engaging books I have read this year. I cannot wait for the next book in the series to come out. Anyone who loves books, food and traveling will love this book! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker is published by Zondervan (2008)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Healing Promises by Amy Wallace 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 Friday, May 23. US readers only. Good luck!


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Healing Promises

(Multnomah Publishers - April 15, 2008)

by

Amy Wallace

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, a homeschool mom, and a self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books, including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.





ABOUT THE BOOK

Facing a new threat.
When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.

Frozen in fear.
Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

Faith under fire.
As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris


It's May 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!



The feature author is:



and their book:

Multnomah Books (April 15, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHORs:

Alex and Brett Harris founded TheRebelution.com in August 2005 and today at age 19 are the most popular Christian teen writers on the Web. The twins are frequent contributors to Focus on the Family’s Boundless webzine, serve as the main speakers for the Rebelution Tour conferences, and have been featured in WORLD magazine, Breakaway, The Old Schoolhouse, and the New York Daily News. Sons of homeschool pioneer Gregg Harris and younger brothers of best-selling author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Alex and Brett live near Portland, Oregon.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

MOST PEOPLE DON’T…
A different kind of teen book

Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last.

Well, we do.

This is a different kind of teen book. Check online or walk through your local bookstore. You’ll find plenty of books written by fortysomethings who, like, totally understand what it’s like being a teenager. You’ll find a lot of cheap throwaway
books for teens because young people today aren’t supposed to care about books or see any reason to keep them around. And you’ll find a wide selection of books where you never have to read anything twice—because the message is dumbed-down. Like, just for you.

What you’re holding in your hands right now is a challenging book for teens by teens who believe our generation is ready for a change. Ready for something that doesn’t promise a whole new life if you’ll just buy the right pair of jeans or use the right kind of deodorant. We believe our generation is ready to rethink what teens are capable of doing and becoming. And we’ve noticed that once wrong ideas are debunked
and cleared away, our generation is quick to choose a better way, even if it’s also more difficult.

We’re nineteen-year-old twin brothers, born and raised in Oregon, taught at home by our parents, and striving to follow Christ as best we can. We’ve made more than our share of mistakes. And although we don’t think “average teenagers” exist, there is nothing all that extraordinary about us personally.

Still, we’ve had some extraordinary experiences. At age sixteen, we interned at the Alabama Supreme Court. At seventeen, we served as grass-roots directors for four statewide political campaigns. At eighteen, we authored the most popular Christian teen blog on the web. We’ve been able to speak to thousands of teens and their parents at conferences in the United States and internationally and to reach millions
online. But if our teen years have been different than most, it’s not because we’re somehow better than other teens, but because we’ve been motivated by a simple but very big idea. It’s an idea you’re going to encounter for yourself in the pages
ahead.

We’ve seen this idea transform “average” teenagers into world-changers able to accomplish incredible things. And they started by simply being willing to break the mold of what society thinks teens are capable of.

So even though the story starts with us, this book really isn’t about us, and we would never want it to be. It’s about something God is doing in the hearts and minds of our generation. It’s about an idea. It’s about rebelling against low expectations. It’s about a movement that is changing the attitudes and actions of teens around the world. And we want you to be part of it.

This book invites you to explore some radical questions:

• Is it possible that even though teens today have more freedom than any other generation in history, we’re actually missing out on some of the best years of our
lives?

• Is it possible that what our culture says about the purpose and potential of the teen years is a lie and that we are its victims?

• Is it possible that our teen years give us a once-in-alifetime opportunity for huge accomplishments—as individuals and as a generation?

• And finally, what would our lives look like if we set out on a different path entirely—a path that required more effort but promised a lot more reward?

We describe that alternative path with three simple words: “do hard things.”

If you’re like most people, your first reaction to the phrase “do hard things” runs along the lines of, “Hard? Uh-oh. Guys, I just remembered that I’m supposed to be somewhere else. Like, right now.”

We understand this reaction. It reminds us of a story we like to tell about a group of monks. Yep, monks.

On the outskirts of a small town in Germany is the imaginary abbey of Dundelhoff. This small stone monastery is home to a particularly strict sect of Dundress monks, who have each vowed to live a life of continual self-denial and discomfort.

Instead of wearing comfy T-shirts and well-worn jeans like most people, these monks wear either itchy shirts made from goat hair or cold chain mail worn directly over bare skin. Instead of soft mattresses, pillows, and warm blankets, they sleep on the cold stone floors of the abbey. You might have read somewhere that monks are fabulous cooks? Well, not these monks. They eat colorless, tasteless sludge—once a day. They only drink lukewarm water.

We could go on, but you get the picture. No matter what decision they face, Dundress monks always choose the more difficult option, the one that provides the least physical comfort, holds the least appeal, offers the least fun. Why? Because they believe that the more miserable they are, the holier they are; and the holier they are, the happier God is.

So these miserable monks must be poster boys for “do hard things.” Right?

Wrong!

We’re not plotting to make your life miserable. We’re not recommending that you do any and every difficult thing. For example, we’re not telling you to rob a bank, jump off a cliff, climb Half Dome with your bare hands, or stand on your head for twenty-four hours straight. We are not telling you to do pointless (or stupid) hard things just because they’re hard. And if you’re a Christian, we’re certainly not telling you that if you work harder or make yourself uncomfortable on purpose, God will love you more. He will never—could never—love you any more than He does right now.

So that’s what we’re not doing. What we are doing is challenging you to grab hold of a more exciting option for your teen years than the one portrayed as normal in society today. This option has somehow gotten lost in our culture, and most people don’t even know it. In the pages ahead, you’re going to meet young people just like you who have rediscovered this better way—a way to reach higher, dream bigger, grow
stronger, love and honor God, live with more joy—and quit wasting their lives.

In Do Hard Things, we not only say there is a better way to do the teen years, we show you how we and thousands of other teens are doing it right now and how you can as well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Book Review: "A Whisper of Freedom" by Tricia Goyer

Battles heat up…not only those being waged by the soldiers on both sides fighting for Spain, but in the hearts and minds of the men and women who must sacrifice more than their dreams to save the lives of their loved ones. In this meticulously researched novel, brave and idealistic Sophie, Philip, Jose, and Deion realize their only hope for freedom is escaping Spain's borders. By continuing the story of this band of volunteers during the Spanish Civil War, A Whisper of Freedom proves that there are whispers of hope and liberty that resonate through even the darkest night.

Run for your life

Tricia Goyer has totally mastered the art of historical fiction. She is able to skillfully blend real life events with dramatic storytelling. This series has taken a little known event and brought it to public attention, allowing the reader to become more knowledgeable about this important part of history.
I really felt like I was drawn into the story. I could see myself on the battle lines with Deion, going into hiding like Sofie and Philip, or being tortured like Juan. There is non stop adventure with twists the reader doesn't expect to see. The element of the gold adds more intrigue to the story as there is a race against time involving this plot. I'm really sad this series is ending. I've felt like I have connected with all the characters throughout all three books. To me the best part about reading the series was knowing how much research went into creating the story. As a history major, I can fully appreciate this because I know how hard this can be. Spain has never been so vividly described in this book. The reader walks away from the series with a better understanding of not only the country itself but the sacrifices that were made for the name of freedom. I hope these characters will pop up again in another book because I feel like their story isn't finished yet!

A Whisper of Freedom by Tricia Goyer is published by Moody (2008)

Here is the link to the blog tour schedule:
http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/2008/03/whisper-of-freedom-meme-sticky-post.html

Links:
Book excerpt: http://www.triciagoyer.com/cmsdocuments/WhisperCh1.doc
Watch the series trailer: http://cg.creativenuclei.com/wip/TriciaGoyer/cscw.html
Tricia's website: http://www.triciagoyer.com/
Tricia's Blogs: http://www.triciagoyer.com/blogs.html

During the tour, anyone can enter to win one of FIVE signed copies of A Whisper of Freedom by signing up for Tricia's newsletter here!

Three brave "players" will be selected at random to win their own lost gold (Gourmet chocolate coins and all three books in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series). To enter all you have to do is answer the MEME on your blog and then leave a comment on Tricia’s blog tour post here http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/2008/03/whisper-of-freedom-meme-sticky-post.html that you’ve posted your MEME. Easy.

MEME

1. List three things you would do with a chest full of gold (assuming you got to keep it!)
- pay off my student loans
- buy any book I don't have that I ever wanted
- give the 'rents a sizable chunk

2. List three charities/missions/organizations you support (and why).
- Man I will sound horrible, but I haven't supported any charities recently

3. List three ways you have volunteered your time/services.
- Vacation Bible School
- Food Bank Volunteer
- Church library assistant

4. List three things you keep "hidden" when company comes over.
- our pug, he likes to jump on people
- old rugs
- dirty clothes

5. List the last three things you've lost.
- my keys
- my watch
- my cell phone

6. List the last three things you've found.
- the flowers I want for my foreseeable in the future wedding
- the best ribs restaurant ever , Famous Daves
- Wawa makes good Icees

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Interview with Virginia Smith and Book Giveaway!

I'm happy to have here today Virginia Smith, author of Stuck in the Middle, Just as I Am and her new book Sincerely Mayla as another stop on her blog tour. If you haven't read any of her books, I highly recommend you pick one of them. Also...

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 Tuesday, May 20. US readers only. Good luck!


Here is a link to my review of Sincerely Mayla.

Mayla Strong’s life is finally starting to seem normal. She has been working at the same job for four years, living with a good friend, and enjoying a deep relationship with God. But when Mayla is suddenly laid off, the placid surface of her life is shattered. In this touching sequel to Just As I Am, Mayla comes face-to-face with the responsibilities and joys of friends and family. As Mayla tries to help her friends, she realizes that God has all the answers—the trick is letting go long enough to let Him prove it.


And without further adieu, an interview with Virginia Smith!

1. Have you ever dyed your hair purple or gotten a nose ring?

Strangely, I never have. But I know lots of young people (and even a few not-so-young people) who have done both. A good friend recently pierced her nose. And my daughter dyed her hair green once.

I have wanted to get a tattoo, does that count? My sister and I had a deal that if we ever got tattoos, we’d do it together. Then one day a couple of years ago she called me and said, “I betrayed you. I’m sorry. I was caught up in the moment.” She was visiting a friend who also had a theater background as she did. One thing led to another, and they got theater masks tattooed on their… uh, their hips. I’ve nursed a grudge since then, but so far I haven’t retaliated.


2. Mayla is one of the most realistic 20-something characters I have ever read. How did you research for her character and have her act her age? (most of the time it's kinda obvious that some authors don't really know how 20-somethings really act)

Thank you! I worked really hard at that. Mayla is the same age as my daughter, and I made her that age specifically so I could make sure her behavior was age-appropriate. A lot of Mayla’s opinions and even experiences have been mine, but her voice comes straight from my daughter and her friends. As I wrote Sincerely, Mayla I would occasionally call my daughter and ask, “How would you say that?” I still do it, in fact. In my last book I wrote the bachelor party of a 24-yr-old Christian guy. My daughter got married last July, and I asked my son-in-law details not only about what they did at the party, but how he phrased certain things. And I watch them very carefully to see them acting naturally in a variety of situations.


3. Would you rescue a frozen wild bunny from the road?

Absolutely! But I would be very careful about where I put him when I got him home. There were two models for Harvey, the rabbit Mayla rescues. The first is a friend’s pet. She didn’t know when her son got the rabbit that they love to chew wood. She soon found out, though, after he destroyed the expensive wood siding on their hot tub. The other model for Harvey is a big rabbit who lives at the nursing home where my father lives. That rabbit has quite a personality. And he plays catch!


4. Will we be hearing from Mayla and Pastor Paul again? What else are you working on?

I don’t have a third Mayla book contracted, but I can tell you that I always planned to write three. If I were to write a third book, I already know what happens. There’s a wedding. No, it’s not Aunt Louise’s. And no, it’s not Mayla’s either. It’s someone you—and Mayla—wouldn’t expect. I also want to spend some time exploring Sylvia’s life. In every book, I throw Mayla against some hot contemporary issues that young people really do encounter. With a bartender for a roommate, you can imagine the one I want her to tackle next.


5. Any last words?

If you read Sincerely, Mayla, I hope you’ll let me know what you think. I love to hear from readers. You can send me a comment through my website – www.virginiasmith.org. And be sure to check out the “Fun Stuff” page, because I’m constantly giving away books and other fun stuff.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson 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 Monday, May 19. International readers may enter. Good luck!

Scotty Fitzgerald, oft-neglected daughter of well-known Hollywood food stylist Charley, knows the “inside scoop” about the Hollywood stars we can’t get enough of. Having spent her life in an RV driving from set to set while her mom “styled food” for celebrities, Scotty sees what the fans do not. And she reveals it regularly on her Hollywood Nobody blog, though she’d rather be as far away from Hollywood as anyone can get. After all, Scotty has enough drama in her own life!

After learning that her ‘mother’ is really her grandmother, Charley finds out her real parents were probably killed in a mafia-style shooting reminiscent of The Sopranos. Scotty’s now certain a sinister “Biker Guy” who’s continued to track her and her mom must be connected to her parents’ shooting. There’s a pretty good chance, she decides, that he’s looking to finish the job by taking her life.

So Scotty and Charley do what they’ve always done—run and avoid the situation. But a life on the run is exhausting and Scotty’s had just about enough—enough to ignore Charley’s motherly direction and chart her own course. Let’s just hope it isn’t a course that puts her in the crosshairs of her own parents’ murderer.

Themes of the Book

Finding identity. Teen Pregnancy. Exploring faith for the first time. Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit. Encountering new environments. Discovering the courage to act on your convictions.

Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy-Award-winning Songbird. Finding Hollywood Nobody is the second book in the Hollywood series. Lisa is the mother of three children. To learn more, visit lisasamson.typepad.com.

Q&A with Lisa Samson, author of Finding Hollywood Nobody

Q. Discovering who you are is a major theme in Finding Hollywood Nobody. Scotty feels compelled to learn more about her real parents when she discovers that her mother is really her grandmother and that her parents were likely killed in a mafia-style shootout. What do you think principally defines who we are genetics & family or how we see ourselves?

A. Being no expert in such things, I really couldn't say. There are way too many stories of twins separated at birth, growing up in very different homes, who end up living very similar lives. So I'd say genetics plays a large part. But just look and see what happens to people who are raised with many more advantages than those who aren't. So family as well as social standing hold a lot of sway as well. And then . . . how we see ourselves is a large part, especially how we see ourselves in light of God. Do we really believe God loves us? So can I answer yes to all three? I think we tend to get in trouble when we try and reduce the human psyche to one principle issue, anyway. As the Bible says, "we are fearfully and wonderfully made."

Q. What would you recommend to people in a similar situation as Scotty either through adoption or other circumstances? In your opinion - is finding your genetic heritage worth risking everything?

A. I wouldn't recommend anything! I think every situation is different and I would recommend committing the matter of finding one's biological parent to intense prayer before even thinking of making a move. Let the Spirit guide above all else.

Q. What was your inspiration behind the Hollywood Nobody series?

A. I just wanted to write a fun series. There are a lot of good series out there with teens in a more typical home situation, with either one parent around or two, living in a town, going to school, dealing with friends. But I wanted to remove my main character from the everyday world teens find themselves in and see what she did. I'm fascinated by what happens in Hollywood so setting it in that world, but on its edges, was something interesting for me. I swear, there are times I read what's happening to some of these young actresses and singers and can hardly believe my ears. I wanted to be able to explore a teenage girl's reaction to some of these foibles.

Q. What can you tell us about what’s in store for Scotty in Book 3?

A. Scotty finds some romance! As does Charley. And, of course, Seth "hottie" Haas, finds himself feeling a little threatened! The search for her mother continues full force. The book takes place in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina on the set of a Scottish epic film. Lots of guys in kilts. I’m just sayin'!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Movie Review: "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"

Who knew John C. Reilly could do comedy? After seeing him in movies such as The Hours, Gangs of New York or Chicago (which he was nominated for an Oscar) one would think that he was only a serious actor. Then came Talladega Nights. Three words: "Shake and Bake!" Hahah, that 'stache makes me laugh every time. And did you see his trio with Will Ferrell and Jack Black at the Oscars two years ago? One can be funny and win awards at the same time!

I don't really like spoofs. I'm not a fan at all of the Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, etc franchise. IMHO those are cheap shots at trying to get the audience's money. This movie however is more of a parody, a fake biopic. While some of the material is quite inappropriate, the humor is more grown up. There is actually a storyline, award winning actors and very good acting and singing throughout. If you've seen Walk the Line or Ray, you'll get the little digs throughout the movie. The songs in the movie are actually really good and quite catchy. The title song and "Guilty as Charged" actually sound like they are real songs from the 60s. Personally I think these should have been nominated for the Best Song Oscar instead of all those mediocre songs from Enchanted.

My favorite scene: when Dewey meets the Beatles. Paul Rudd as John Lennon is absolutely hilariously perfect. The accent is way over the top but it's still Lennon. I'm sorry but I kept seeing Jack Black and not Paul McCartney. Funny, but still Jack Black. Justin Long looks and sounds just like George Harrison. Also this may be the first time he actually looks his age and not like a cute teenager. Jason Schwartzman is just a hoot as Ringo. So adorable. I can't believe he's only 3 years older than me. Since I'm a huge Beatles fan, I was dying of laughter throughout the entire scene.

Of course not everything is glowing about this movie. Being rated R and created by the guys who did 40 Year Virgin and Knocked Up means there's a LOT of raunchy stuff. There's quite a bit of nudity (especially male nudity for no good reason) in the film. Curse words are rampant and drug use is shown throughout (there's a funny running joke involving Tim Meadow's character but it's funny for all the wrong reasons). Therefore I cannot recommend this for viewing unless you plan on using your fast forward button. But do download from ITunes Walk Hard and Guilty as Charged. Very fine singing right there.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Book Review: "The Other Daughter" by Miralee Ferrell

All in The Family

Life was normal for the Carson clan until one day a young teen shows up at their doorstep. Susanne can't believe what she's hearing. This girl claims to be the long lost daughter of her husband. But this can't be true, her husband would have surely told her about such an important fact in his life. As the truth begins to unravel, everyone touched by this secret will never be the same again.

I think that I unconsciously select books by different authors that have the same storyline. I had just finished reading "Ocean's Apart" by Karen Kingsbury when I selected this book to read. Interestingly both of the books had similar plots involving unknown children coming to claim their parents. I thought it was interesting to see how the stories parallel each other and also how the characters would react in different ways. In this book it was refreshingly realistic to see the other parent, the one who was left in the dark, be angry and even hostile towards the entire situation. I'm not saying this is the right behavior to act but it shows true human nature as opposed to immediate acceptance with everyone hugging. I wouldn't expect anyone, even a devout Christian, to not have some hurt and wounded feelings to not have known this deep dark secret from their spouse's past. Also it would only be natural to become suspicious about everything now. I thought the story was extremely well written. It capture my interest right from the get go. The Native American touch was very interesting to read as well. The only thing that bugged me a little about the story was that I felt Briana acted younger than her age. I know she's had a hard life, but in my opinion she acted like she was 12 or younger. She didn't seem interested in a lot of things that normal fourteen year olds would be into. Other than this, I really enjoyed reading this story. It's an excellent debut and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

The Other Daughter by Miralee Ferrell is published by Kregel (2007)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Warriors by Mark Andrew Olsen


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Warriors

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)

by

Mark Andrew Olsen



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. His last novel was the supernatural thriller The Watchers.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A failed recon mission deep in the tunnels of Afghanistan has provoked a demonic onslaught that had been brewing for centuries. The mission's sole survivor is reformed black ops assassin Dylan Hatfield, and he once again teams up with Abby Sherman, now at the helm of the Watchers, an ancient spiritual force. Uncovering and preventing a secret wave of death whispered across cyberspace and threatening to be unleash against civilization will require another level of spiritual power and expertise--the Warriors.

Journeying across the Alps of Europe through the multi layered history of warfare in the unseen world, Dylan and Abby uncover an age-old stone engraving that rouses the church's Warriors to action, placing them dead center in one of the fiercest spiritual battles of their time!

And once again they are reminded: This is all part of a vast and perpetual war, a war beyond all human conflicts, one that has engulfed heaven and earth since before the dawn of history....

Abby Sherman is headed back to Israel, where a Watcher, the Sentinel of Jerusalem, lies dying. In her last breaths the old woman tells Abby of an ancient document prophesying humanity's full-scale entry into the ongoing conflict between armies of heaven and fallen angels.

Dylan Hatfield has decided to answer a summons from his old boss and join a secret operation, its mission to reconnoiter the Afghani tunnel complex from which Osama bin Laden escaped in 2001. What he discovers sears his very soul and likely will end his life.

Abby learns of the peril facing Dylan, and she sends out a call for intercession on his behalf. Her frantic email message sets in motion a series of harrowing events, propelling the two on a new mission and quest--one where the stakes are the lives of millions!

The Warriors is packed with high-octane action, featuring exotic international locales, with characters in a clash against spiritual "principalities and powers" with eternal consequences, The Warriors is a story that will enthrall, enlighten, and engage its readers.

If that piques your interest, you can read the first chapter HERE

"Olsen, one of the better writers in this subgenre, delivers powerful, action-packed plots that delve into mystical paranormal worlds."
~Library Journal, Feb. 2008

"Olsen delivers an entertaining thriller likely to be enjoyed especially by fans of the spiritual warfare genre."
~PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Book Review: "The Hand that Bears the Sword" by George Bryan Polivka


Not how I would want my honeymoon to turn out

Packer and Panna Throme are supposed to be basking in their new marriage and enjoying their honeymoon. Unfortunately this is interrupted by Packer being summoned to help fight the Drammun and defend Nearing Vast. Whisked away from his beloved, Packer must spend months aboard the Trophy Chase fighting the pirate Scat Wilkins. Meanwhile Panna refuses to stay at home twiddling her thumbs. She finds herself having to fend off the two faced Prince Mather who has sold his allegiance to the Drammun. And then there is someone who was thought to be dead, who is plotting their revenge on the Thromes....

I think I might have to rethink my views on fantasy fiction. This series has gotten me hooked on the idea of different worlds and realms. I enjoyed the first book in this series and I was thrilled to continue the adventures of Packer and Panna in the sequel. Once again Panna is my favorite character. She is such a strong female character and a wonderful role model for young women. Even though she loves Packer and respects him, she doesn't want to be left at home waiting. Her experiences with the prince showed just how well she's able to take care of herself in tough situations. The contrast between the crown prince and his brother are very apparent throughout the story. One has given in to the dark side, selling not only himself but his country as well. Meanwhile the other has gone against his brother and tries to do what is right and protect his country from evil.

There's also a surprise return of a character thought to be dead. This character is again, another one of my favorites, and they once again never cease to amaze me with their back story. There's lots of sword fighting in this story with plenty of battle fights to satisfy the adventurous reader. The firefish also makes another memorable appearance as the reader once again gets to see the story from its point of view. The best part of this book is how detailed the author describes everything. Even though this is an imaginary world, the story is written so well that one can see themselves fighting along side Packer. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this wonderful trilogy.


The Hand that Bears the Sword by George Bryan Polivka is published by Harvest House (2007)