Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Captive

Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)


Kathleen Y’Barbo


There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beauty Book Giveaway!

*Contest Closed - Winners announced in 1st post*

I'm giving away 5 brand new copies of each of today's books for a total of 10 books! Leave a comment stating which book you would like to win with your email address so I can contact you if you win. Entries without book choice (you may enter for both but you must state this) and/or email address will be deleted and not entered. I'll pick 10 names and announce
the winners on Monday, December 1. US and Canada addresses (no PO boxes) only. Good luck!

In GET POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL, makeup artist Carmindy, from TLC’s hit show What Not to Wear shows you how to change your mindset from negative fault-finding to a positive beauty philosophy. You learn how to find and focus on your best features and how to combat negative thoughts about your appearance. Carmindy demonstrates easy makeup techniques for the eyes, brows, lips, cheeks, and skin, and how to adapt looks to different weather conditions and “beauty moods.”

Completely unique, GET POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL mixes self-help and makeup how-to in this total beauty book.

Carmindy has appeared on The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, CBN, as well as in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Elle, O, Glamour, InStyle, and many more prominent men’s and women’s fashion magazines.

Check out Carmindy’s website: www.carmindy.com

BOBBI BROWN'S MAKEUP MANUAL is the book that Bobbi Brown's fans have been waiting for: her 25-plus years of makeup styling experience distilled into one complete, gorgeous book. Bobbi looks at everything from skincare basics to every aspect of facial makeup. And Bobbi looks beyond the face with informative chapters on "Hands and Feet" and "Body Skin Care." Plus, there's a groundbreaking section of the book that will be of special interest to women who've wanted to know how makeup stylists do what they do: the top beauty secrets only these artists know, essential equipment to keep on hand, how to break into the business, and how to work with photographers and celebrities.

BOBBI BROWN'S MAKEUP MANUAL will be the only book any woman will need to look absolutely fabulous.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The First Escape by G.P. Taylor

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The First Escape

SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)


A motorcyclist and former rock band roadie turned Anglican minister, Graham Peter (G. P.) Taylor has been hailed as "hotter than Potter" and "the new C. S. Lewis" in the United Kingdom. His first novel, Shadowmancer, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2004 and has been translated into 48 languages. His other novels include Wormwood (another New York Times bestseller which was nominated for a Quill book award), The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street, Tersias the Oracle, and Mariah Mundi. Taylor currently resides in North Yorkshire with his wife and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 19.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414319479
ISBN-13: 978-1414319476


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays

My Friend Amy, who brought us Book Blogger Appreciation Week has a new carnival in the works, the Faith 'n Fiction Saturday.

Each week she will post a blogging prompt, which participating bloggers will answer on their own blogs. Then they head back to the original post and sign Mister Linky! This way we can all come to know each other more closely.

Today's Question:
We've been blessed to finally start seeing some of our favorite Christian books come to life on film. So far, these have been largely low budget films, but they generally get the heart of the books across. But my question for you is...if you had an unlimited budget, what Christian fiction book would you like to see made into a film? Who would you cast in the main roles? Would you have a preference on director? Any songs you'd like to see on the soundtrack?

I want to see Francine River's Mark of the Lion trilogy make it to the big screen. I honestly think that with the right director, writer, actors and studio, a big budget and top of the line special effects, it can become a huge success.

Honestly the rating would have to be at least PG 13 if not R. Because even the book is very upfront about violence, sex, homosexuality. It's information that was prevelant of the times. Rivers did not go into graphic detail but she did not ignore it and pretend it didn't exist. That's what made the books more realistic and if handled in the same way, the movie can be made a success too.

There would have to be at least one big actor in this movie. And I mean A-list, award winning huge box office draw to carry this thing. Because many people see movies because of who is in it. And I don't mean a 10 second cameo like Peter O'Toole in One Night With the King (that somehow got him top billing!) Honestly I cannot think of a director, although Spielberg comes to mind, but I would love for Thomas Newman (of Little Women, Cinderella Man, and a billion more) to do the score because then he'd finally win the Oscar! And the movie would at least get nominated for Best Art Direction and Costume too, and maybe even adapted screen play!!

I can even picture how the first movie could end.


Julia is gloating over what she's done. She turns to Marcus and looks to him for his approval. He looks at her in disgust and throws her to Callaba (or whatever her name was, I don't have the books in front of me). He storms off, the camera follows him and you see his face in a twist of pain and anguish, while in the background you see Julia confused and hurt. Meanwhile you can hear the crowds roaring and the animals devouring their feast.

Music swells. Then falls silent.

Just when you think all is lost, the camera sweeps around the colisuem floor, pans around the bodies and then settles on Hadassah. Closeup of her hand....then a twitch, and her fingers slowly make a fist. FADE TO BLACK

Tell me that ain't perfect!

*****SPOILERS END******

Although if the third book wasn't made into a movie, I could totally understand as I care more about Hadassah than Ateres anyways.

In my world, this movie would be a success with the critics because it blends religious history with GOOD QUALITY movie making. Unfortuantely I can see the #s for it being low because of the edginess of the movie. If Christians have problems with movies like Evan Almighty, can you see what they would do to a Christian movie that talks about homosexuality and temple prostitues? I mean people get mad at reading Deeane Gist or Julie Lessman for being too sexual in a book (which they are not!). Imagine what would happen if they saw it on the big screen.

The problem I feel with Christian movies is the low budget factor.

But what I don't understand is when movies like The Nativity Story comes out, Christians will not go see it. Evan Almighty, while a little on the edgy side with the jokes, had nothing offensive at all and was completely respectful of God was a bust. Sure Fireproof was a hit this year and the movie was a success in terms of profit but even so the marketing seemed to be only targeted at Christians. The trailer really didn't do anything for me, if I was not a Christian it wouldn't have excited me at all. It seems like the Passion of the Christ was a fluke. I mean it was a great movie, one that should have been done, but was it popular because of the subject matter or because it was directed by Mel Gibson and had a big budget? I mean that movie was about his death, The Nativity Story was about his birth and it flopped.

I wrote this about a year ago in a review about Evan Almighty and I still feel the same way.

I really don't know why people won't go see this movie. If you're not into comedies I can maybe understand. But what baffles me more than anything are the Christians who won't see a movie like this but then will complain that Hollywood never puts out anything decent. HELLO????? If you won't go see a movie that has nothing objectionable, is marketed to Christians, and is highly respectful to the faith, why would you think Hollywood would spend more money trying to make you happy? If I were trying to market what was popular, I would assume that movies praising religion are not ideal and that people would rather see gore and sex. Because obviously more people in this country would rather see Knocked Up that this movie. The industry has catered to your demands yet you turn them away and then expect them to keep pleasing you. I hate to call fellow believers names but *cough*hypocrites does come to mind *cough*. Ok off my soapbox. :) Feel free to disagree with me, but this is how I feel.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Free Download of Elvis Takes a Backseat by Leann Ellis

B&H Fiction is giving away free download of Leann Ellis' first book Elvis Takes a Backseat. It also enters you to win an Elvis ornament and a copy of her new book Lookin Back Texas.


Infidel - Graphic Novel by Ted Dekker

It's the 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 (November 11, 2008)


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of TedDekker.com.

Here are some of his latest titles:

Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)



(Click Pictures to Zoom!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Review: "The Outsider" by Ann Gabhart

Learning about the Shaker way of Life

Gabrielle is a member of the religious group, The Shakers. Since a small child, she has been a part of this community and has not experienced the outside world. Then one day an incident brings a doctor from the outside into the community and suddenly Gabrielle's world is shaken. She feels drawn to Dr. Brice Scott yet it means giving up everything she's ever known. However she starts to question the beliefs and practices of the Shakers and wonders if this is truly the right path for her.

Looking at the cover of this book, one might think "Oh, it's another Amish book." Well then the reader is in for a surprise as the story is about another lesser known historical religious group, The Shakers. Gabrielle's story brings to life the daily life of the Shakers and gives the reader a glimpse of what life was like for someone who did not truly belong. It was interesting to see how they dealt with the outside world and how they tried to maintain a closed knit society. The story made it sound like the Shakers were not true Christians. Their beliefs incorporated practices that were not needed to become real believers of Christ. It's sad that they felt that they had to include these in order to live a fulfilled life. It was a heartbreaking way to live with mothers being separated from their children. Doing more research showed that many times it was the husband who originally chose this way of lifestyle and forced the rest of the family into joining. It's a subject well worth spending more time looking into. The story is well written. This is the author's first historical novel and a lot of research was done for the book. I learned a lot from it as I had only the basic understanding of Shakers from history class. I'll be looking forward to reading the next book in this series by Ann Gabhart.

The Outsider by Ann Gabhart is published by Revell (2008)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book Review: "All I Have to Give" by Melody Carlson

What Christmas is really about

Anna and Michael have everything they want in life except for one thing: a child. Now approaching her forties, and after trying almost every option, it looks as if that door appears to be closing for good. Just when Anna is ready to accept her fate, she fears that she has the same symptoms of an illness that claimed her mother. Worried that this is the last Christmas she will ever spend with her husband, she tries to do everything in her power to give him the best possible Christmas. She sacrifices what she cherishes the most to make him happy.

This is a sweet modern retelling of the classic story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. It makes one wonder if you knew this was going to be your last Christmas what would you do to make it one to remember for your loved ones. I really liked the way that Anna wanted to do everything to make her husband happy even to the point of giving up what she loved the most. It's refreshing to see a Christmas story where the focus is on others and not on one's own self. I also appreciated her outburst during the mom's group as people need to be aware that couples without children are not always childless by choice. The only negative thing about this book was the way that Anna acted when she first thought she had cancer. If someone has had a history of cancer in their family and they start to believe they have the same symptoms, now is not the time to be a protector from bad news. She should have told her husband immediately and gone to see a doctor. Even if funds were short, this was not something to push back. Further more by keeping such an important secret like this from her husband would also hurt their relationship in the future. Other than that, it is a great way to spend an afternoon to get yourself ready for the holidays. This is a wonderful addition to the Christmas short stories that Melody Carlson has written throughout the years. It's a story that takes only a day to read yet the spirit of the Christmas season will remain with you throughout the entire year.

All I Have to Give
by Melody Carlson is published by Revell (2008)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Mother's Wish by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt

A grandfather’s song turns a diner into hallowed ground, like a church. A contrary girl with a gypsy heart feels the tug of home. A mother, far away, confronts impossible expectations. And a truck driver named Jedidah keeps his foot on the gas to sweep you into an unforgettable story of belonging and grace.

Readers looking for a meaningful, powerful read on a winter’s evening or with the family will love the rich 1960s nostalgia captured in the Midwest of Jedidiah’s and Ellee’s story; the peace found when family strife boils over, and the gentle reminders of the influence and effect every life has on another.

My Mother’s Wish is an unforgettable, powerful tale that ends on a memorable Christmastime note, but will be cherished and reread year-round for its bold message of grand hopes, impossible expectations, and the gift of grace that comes in between.

Jerry Camery-Hoggatt, Ph.D., is professor of New Testament at Vanguard University, in Costa Mesa, California. A professional storyteller, he is the author of the highly-acclaimed Christmas stories When Mother Was Eleven-Foot-Four (in trade adult and children’s picture book editions) and Givers of Gifts; plus Irony in Mark’s Gospel and Grapevine: A Spirituality of Gossip. His passion is theology and storytelling, which he believes are meant to go together. Jerry and his wife, Shaleen, are the parents of three children.

Monday, November 17, 2008

White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

White Christmas Pie

Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)


Wanda E. Brunstetter


Fascinated by the Amish people during the years of visiting her husband's family in Pennsylvania, WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER combined her interest with her writing and now has eleven novels about the Amish in print, along with numerous other stories and ministry booklets. She lives in Washington State, where her husband is a pastor, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the states.

This year Wanda also published A Sister's Hope


Step into Amish country for this bittersweet holiday romance. Here you'll meet Will Henderson, a young man tortured by his past, and Karen Yoder, a young woman looking for answers. Add a desperate father searching for his son, and you have all the ingredients for a first-class romance that will inspire and enthrall.

Abandoned by his father, Will Henderson was raised by an Amish couple. Now he's about to marry Karen Yoder but is having second thoughts. Can Will overcome the bitterness of his past in order to secure his future? Karen cannot break through the barrier her fiance has suddenly constructed around his heart. When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green. Has he already lost his chance for happiness?

When an accident threatens Will's life, the strength of blood ties is tested. Will a recipe for White Christmas pie contain the ingredients for a happily-ever-after?

If you would like to read the first chapter of White Christmas Pie, go HERE

Watch the book trailer:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Godly Love by Stephen Post

It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Non~FIRST will be merging with FIRST Wild Card Tours on January 1, 2009...if interested in joining, click HERE!)

The feature author is:

and his book:

Templeton Foundation Press (September 26, 2008)


Stephen G. Post has spent a lifetime studying love in its theological, scientific, and practical dimensions. He is president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL) and professor of bioethics and family medicine in the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Post has published one hundred thirty articles in peerreviewed journals and has written or edited fifteen scholarly books on subjects relating to the dynamic of love in our lives. His most recent book is Why Good Things Happen to Good People, coauthored with Jill Neimark. Dr. Post has chaired nine national conferences in his field and has received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Board of the Alzheimers Association. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his wife, Mitsuko, and their two children, Emma and Andrew.


Godly Love and Human Hatreds

In March 2007 I had the honor of spending several days north of Paris with the great Jean Vanier, then in his early eighties. Jean had founded L’Arche (“The Ark”) some four decades earlier, when he was inspired by an experience of Godly love to invite two men with cognitive developmental disabilities into his home. Over the years, L’Arche homes have flourished worldwide as volunteers dwell with the disabled in communities of faith, prayer, and Godly love. I had attended meals in L’Arche homes in Cleveland on a number of occasions, and I had heard the grace said before eating, the hymns sung, and the energy of love that was palpable in the lives of those caregivers and in the experience of those they cared for and lived with.

Jean struck me as one of the most loving, Godly, and humble men I had ever met. He spoke quietly and brilliantly, and he exuded an infectious sense of fun. On one Sunday evening there was a Catholic Mass in an old renovated chapel from the fourteenth century. About one hundred people had gathered there, mostly L’Arche volunteers and people with disabilities. I saw a volunteer wheel one older man named David up to the priest for communion. That night, at dinner, I asked Jean what he thought David had gotten from receiving communion, for David was probably the most severely disabled and agitated person I had encountered there. Jean said, “Whenever David receives communion, he becomes more peaceful, and that is the power of God’s love. Remember, Stephen, we do not know much about the mystery of God’s love and presence.” Jean’s pure, enduring, and expansive love clearly encompassed such a severely disabled man, and counted him among God’s blessed.

Evil in God’s Name

When I encounter a man like Jean Vanier, I feel that we must all stop thinking of God as the epitome of awesome power and strength in the conventional sense. This convention may be partly true, but we need to set it aside; otherwise, we begin to think of God primarily in terms of might, and human arrogance propels us into thinking that because my God is stronger than your God, violence is justified in God’s name. If we think about God in terms of power, then religions become tainted with human arrogance. Far too many prayerful people are carrying rifles in the spirit of pure hatred and pretending that their hatred is somehow divinely sanctioned. This amounts to shallow religiosity, which only causes pain and undermines Godly love. The Lord of power and might is first and foremost the author and giver of all good things, the Divine Entity who nourishes us in love and brings forth from us good works.

We need to stop thinking that our definitions of God are finite and that our knowledge of God’s will is total. Our definitions, even if divinely inspired, are still products of the human mind, and we can never fully understand the Divine. Religious doctrines, if adhered to arrogantly, tend to separate us from one another and shatter the unifying spirit of Godly love that all spirituality seeks to cultivate. When religions place doctrine and force above love, they foment massive evil—from torture to terror, from coercion to conflict. Religious wars exemplify human tribalism and arrogance, both of which bring out the worst in us.

Hatred, hostility, and revenge are such strong emotions that they can crush our fragile sense of Godly love. The pseudospirituality of hatred runs counter to all genuine spirituality, which is always an adventure in love, an expression of love’s deepest desires.

Countering Hatred with Godly Love

The love of power can sometimes overwhelm the power of love, so we must remain humble and guard against this. No matter how little we know about God, we can still experience Godly love. Only by taking Godly love much more seriously than we do now—even inculcating a profound love for one another among ancient, sworn enemies—can we expect to head off a spiral of widespread destruction.

Most of religion and spirituality is rooted in healing emotions, grounded in love. We will never achieve sustained peace in the twenty-first century unless all religions live up to those intrinsic ideals of Godly love, applying those ideals to all of humankind without exception.

The world shows no signs of becoming any less religious; we as humans will always have a passion for Ultimate Truth that provides safe haven and emotional security in times of distress. Yet we will only have a human future if we infuse universal Godly love into the rituals that religions create, and express through our actions spiritual emotions such as forgiveness and compassion. If our religions fail to promote universal Godly love, violence will sweep us all away in a cataclysmic firestorm.

Promoting Harmony and Peace

Godly love alone can realign the world in harmony and peace. Too many kill in God’s name, claiming that they alone know the destiny God intends for humankind. Our limited human knowledge of any divinely inspired destiny to be played out on the human stage belies this specious—and dangerous—claim.

Love is the source of our greatest happiness and security; therefore love is the Ultimate Good, the Supreme Good. Nothing else comes close, for love underlies the creative energy that propels us from birth to death. The withholding of love drives to destruction those deprived of love’s nurturing, its compassion, and its life-giving blessings. This occurs most notably in critical developmental periods during childhood. And it holds just as true for a child in a nursery as it does for an older adult in a hospice.

Our religions, which offer models of righteous living, must put into practice their visions of Godly love, or they risk becoming sidelined, or, worse, irrelevant.

Faith and Fiction Saturday

My Friend Amy, who brought us Book Blogger Appreciation Week has a new carnival in the works, the Faith 'n Fiction Saturday.

Each week she will post a blogging prompt, which participating bloggers will answer on their own blogs. Then they head back to the original post and sign Mister Linky! This way we can all come to know each other more closely.

The past couple of days there has been a big flare-up in the broader book blogging community regarding review policies and a blogger's obligation to an author once they've received a review copy. For those of you who belong to the blogging alliance FIRST, we've also discussed this issue a little bit.

I decided to make today's question about this, because I think this is an even tougher situation for Christian reviewers who review Christian books. So here goes...do you receive review copies of Christian books? If so, do you review them honestly? How do you handle it when you don't like a book but are obligated to provide a review? Who do you see your first commitment being to in book reviewing (besides God)? Yourself? The author? Your readers? Does your review change based on the spiritual content of the book or is it solely based on technical or artistic merit? Have you ever had a negative experience with an author after giving them a negative review? (please don't name names)

Yes I do receive copies of Christian books to review. And yes I do review them honestly.

When the situation arises that I have to review a book I don't like, I handle it in this way. First off, I give a book a max of four chapters for me to get into the book. If I cannot get into the book by four chapters, it is highly unlikely I will be able to finish/like the book. Luckily all the books I've had to review so far I've liked. Library books on the other hand are a different story, can't get into by 4 chapters, no more for you! When I do write a review on a book I don't like, what I usually do is sandwich my criticisms. Write about some good parts (even if I have to stretch), then talk the negative, then finish up with another positive comment. That way the blow is softened, I've said what I had to, but I always state the strengths of the book.

My first priority when reviewing has always been about the readers. That is why I started writing my blog, because I wanted to let other people know about the books I read. I would want to let them know what is good and what to avoid. Even if I liked the book very much, if there is something in the book that really irritated me, I would like to tell someone else about it in case they feel the same way.

This is why I don't really like bloggers who only post positive reviews on books. Yes the authors did a hard job writing their books and should be commended for that. But honestly if everything is sugarcoated, that is not how real life is. Christians tend to be very scared to post a negative review on a book. Now please don't think I'm in favor of writing negative reviews, I am not. But if there is something in the book that drives me crazy (unrealistic characters, people doing stupid things, very obvious discrepancies etc) I have to say it. I am not going to like every book that is already out there, no matter how good of a job someone might have done on it. I know if I write something, not everyone is going to like it. Sure I might get mad at you, call you names, wish you to someplace boiling hot if you don't agree with what I wrote, but that is your complete right, choice and freedom.

I have not had any negative comments from authors. Any negative reviews I have done on my blog have actually been for books that don't really need my publicity. They were books by well named authors who have tons of money already from their books. Unfortunately their books weren't all that great. And I felt that I had to tell it like it was. I wasn't mean and ugly but I had to state the negatives.

My final POV: it is ok to not like a book. Authors should know not everyone is going to like their book. If they expect every blogger they send their book to like their book they can expect one of two things -1) someone is lying or 2) everyone must be a clone of them. I'm not saying don't think positive about your work but please be ready to accept it might not be everyone's cup of tea. Bloggers should not be ugly if they don't like a book but it is ok to state what you didn't like about it. Faith should not be an issue when reviewing a book. What I mean by that is just because it's a Christian book does not mean it gets special bias vs a secular book. It all comes down to whether you like it or you don't.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Review: "Suspicious Minds" by Christy Barritt

No more viva-ing in Vegas for this Elvis

Elvis is dead again. At least that's what Gabby St. Clair has appeared to have found. When a popular Elvis impersonator turns up dead under a house, Gabby uses both her crime scene cleaning skills and her crime fighting skills to find out who committed the murder. Along the way she meets up with competition, laid back surfer Chad Davis, who won't stop to make sure her business is his as well. It soon appears though that Elvis wasn't the only one wanted dead. Gabby needs to find the killer or else she might soon be singing "I get so lonely I could die".

Let me get it out of the way first. I LOVED that this book is set in my hometown. I enjoyed recognizing all the places and being able to say "I've been there!" It's also great to see a book set there and not have made up places by authors who use creative license. Now I actually love the story itself. The mystery is extremely good and it keeps you guessing throughout the story. I wanted to gag myself when Gabby found the bodies. It made me feel all icky and gross like I had actually been there myself. The description of the finds are not graphic but they make you feel like you're actually there. I really like the chemistry between Gabby and Chad. There was much more zing between them than her and her boyfriend. I'm not a huge Elvis fan (I like young Elvis, that's it) but I found it both funny and sad to see what a huge following he still has. It's actually sad to see how some people are still obsessed with a man that's been dead (yes he is!) for over 30 years. It's like they're still worshiping him. I did love the scene at the seafood restaurant. It was hilarious although I would have been mad if I had been tricked like that all for the sake of a protest. It was a great way to add humor through a grim storyline. I really enjoy these books - not only are they are fun read but I've actually learned a lot about crime scene cleaning. I really can't wait to see what Gabby's next adventure is going to be.

Now please please go out and get one of Christy's books! She is in danger of not being able to publish the next Squeaky Clean mystery and she needs your help! Over on her blog, she's giving away prizes to people who can help promote her books. Please help her out, this is a great series and it needs to be read!!

BTW: Also wanted to mention that Deena on A Peek at My Bookshelf is spotlighting on Christy this month as author of the month. Check out her blog to see reviews, interviews, fun facts and contests all on Christy and her books!

Suspicious Minds by
Christy Barritt is published by Kregel (2008)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Review: "Blessed are the Meddlers" by Christa Ann Banister

Now that I found love, I want to help you find yours

Now that she's found the love of her life, Sydney Alexander has found the next best thing to looking for love: looking for love for your friends and family. She tries to help out her sister, her best friend and her boss find true love for themselves. Unfortunately too many cooks spoil the broth. Meddling is not always the best way to help out someone as Sydney soon finds out. Along the way characters learn the hard way about finding love which may or may not always include heartbreak, regret, and even finding love when you least expect it.

I absolutely adored this book. I wish this book could come to life so I could interact with these characters. Seriously, if I could live in a book, I would pick this series. Sydney and Gavin have one of the best and healthiest relationships I have ever read in a book. They genuinely love and trust each other and they enjoy having fun together. There's no conflict between them yet they are not boring at all. I mentioned with the first book that I loved Sydney's job. I still do in this book. Why can't I get a job like that? It's very Carrie Bradshaw-ish minus the sex and shoe excess. I love again that real bands are mentioned, yay for a Radiohead concert! Everyone in this book just adds to the story. Jane's story is ironically bittersweet while Sydney's boss has a surprise ending.

There were times where I wanted to scream at Samantha for the choices she made especially involving Aidan. Did she not learn her lesson the first time around? It got to the point to where at the ending I wanted to say "serve you right!" Unfortunately Samantha acts how most women, even Christians, do when it comes to guys It just brings up the old questions of why do girls always fall for the bad guy?
I did not find the shift in tense distracting, in fact it added to the story. While most women will enjoy this book, I recommend it most to older teens to thirty-somethings. I feel that it is written mainly for us, it's how our lives really are. I cannot wait to find out the next adventure in Sydney's life. This book is SO VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Blessed are the Meddlers by Christa Ann Banister is published by NavPress (2008)

Interview with Christa Ann Banister

Christa Ann Banister is one of my favorite chick lit authors and yes I am geeked to have her on my blog (I think I say that about every author I interview but really come on wouldn't you be too?) Her books are great to pass along to anyone even if they don't read Christian fiction at all.

Here is my gushing review of her first book Around the World in 80 Dates. Scroll below for review of her second book.

And without further adieu, an interview with Christa Banister!

Sydney lives the life, I think every 20something woman wants. How did you come up with character? Is she based on you or anyone else?

Writers can't help writing "what they know," so Sydney Alexander-Williams definitely has shades of me in her personality. She's optimistic, faith-driven, slightly sa
rcastic, a romantic and definitely opinionated, which are all accurate descriptions of yours truly. But I was also very intentional about her not being just a carbon copy of myself. I mean, how lazy is that? So she needed to have her own voice, her own hopes and fears and ways of dealing with situations.

There are many Christian fiction books that have their characters to abstain from dating. What made you choose to have a Christian that does enjoy dating

I never related very well to the idea of "kissing dating goodbye" because I always thought it was a pretty fear-driven idea. Sure, we definitely have to guard our hearts and not go around giving pieces of it to any passing crush, but at the same time, true love involves risk.

And the only way to find the person we're meant to be with is to put ourselves out there and date because as much as some people wish this was the case, he/she isn't just going to magically show up on our doorstep. Sometimes people are fortunate enough to meet the love of his/her life early on in the journey in high school or college. But for most people, finding true love involves a few lackluster dating experiences that ultimately help shape us. I can say that I've honestly learned so much from bad dates—enough to inspire many, many books, so that's why I wanting to write about the joys and yes, even the hardships of dating.

The book is written multiple points of views and even in different tenses. Was in confusing trying to get in the different mindsets?

I can't speak for all readers, but as a huge fan of books myself, I always wondered what it would be like to have insight into what the other characters (other than the lead) were thinking. If a girl went on a date, what was the guy thinking? This was the kind of information I wasn't always privy to—and wanted to be.

So I decided that when I wrote my novels, I would give this concept a try. And while it was challenging at times, it really made me have to pay more attention to each character, which I think ultimately makes the reader resonate with more of the secondary characters than he/she normally would. In fact, it's been so much fun hearing feedback on which character is a reader's favorite—and why—in "Around the World in 80 Dates" and "Blessed Are the Meddlers" because everyone's answer is different.

Aidan is the guy that you always get heartbroken over. There were many times when I wanted to yell at him. What made you want to bring him in this book?

ike the girl that Tom Petty sang about in "Free Fallin,'" Samantha is the ultimate "good girl." And for some reason, so many good girls are inevitably attracted to the "bad boys." For whatever reason, it's exciting, and I think so many girls have been in a relationship like this.

As much as I disliked Aidan the entire time I wrote about him, there was something good lurking underneath this surface that Samantha saw. She had what I call "Florence Nightingale syndrome" because she thought if they were together, he'd be the best version of himself. But Aidan was never ready to be that, and he definitely missed out on a great girl like Samantha.

Why do you think girls always never want to stay with the nice guys, choosing instead the Aidans?

You know, I bet there are a million nice guys out there who probably want to know the answer to this, but in truth, I'm not really sure. Maybe it's a simple case of opposites attracting Or maybe it's a heightened desire for adventure that someone feels he/she can't get with someone just like him/her. But whatever it is, I wanted to make a point about not settling. As great and ideal and in love with S
amantha as Eli was, Samantha never got comfortable. And when Aidan re-entered the picture, it brought the lack of excitement about her relationship with Eli into clear focus. Basically, she just wasn't that into him, and frankly, no matter how great a guy is, a girl shouldn't have to settle if he's not the right person for her. It's a disservice to the guy who could be loved better elsewhere and a disservice to the girl because she's not holding out for the very best.

Music plays a huge role in this series. (And you've included some AWESOME playlists (I was so geeked you mentioned Death Cab!!!!!)) If you had to make a soundtrack on your life, what are 5 songs that would be on it?

Wow, this is such a fun question; it's something Jack Black's character would've probably asked John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity."

Hmm, only five songs, huh?...I guess I'd start my life soundtrack with U2's "Beautiful Day," a gloriously anthemic track that could describe so many amazing moments in my life—driving all the way up the coast of California with my hubby Will, my wedding day in Viva Las Vegas, traveling alone to snowy London for the first time just before Christmas in 2003 for an assignment for CCM Magazine, holding my baby niece Adelyn for the first time—so many great times in my life could have that song playing in the backgrou

Another track I'd include is "Forever My Friend" by Ray LaMontagne. Every time I hear this track, I think back to when I was dating my husband, and we were dreaming about our future together while drinking frappuccinos and playing Scrabble.

A song that instantly takes me back to my college years, a time when I was equally struggling and growing in my faith is Jars of Clay's "Love Song for a Savior." While I knew I always wanted to be a writer, I wasn't quite sure how that would play out in the future and felt discouraged. Yet in the times I wrestled and worried the most, I remember listening to that song over and over again, praying and longing to fall even more in love with the Savior who was (and is) always there for me.

A soundtrack for my life also wouldn't be complete without John Mayer's song "Clarity," the first track from his album, "Heavier Things." That song has put me in a peaceful mood even when life has felt particularly chaotic and uncertain. Plus, the horns arrangement in that song—incredible!

As for the last coveted position on my list, wow, this is a tough one. A million songs by Radiohead, Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Death Cab, Oasis, Nick Drake and more could've totally fit the bill. But for my life soundtrack, there's not one song that screams "That's it!" So I think I'm going to have to round out things with Feist's "I Feel It All." Her music is a semi-recent discovery of mine, and this song connected with me instantly because it brilliantly captured my wide range of emotions over the years.

What's your favorite Slurpee flavor? If you don't like Slurpees: fountain drinks vs. bottled soda. Which is better? (You can answer both if you like)

Back at Ladysmith High in Wisconsin, slurpees were about the only indulgence in the school lunch program, so I drank the cherry ones like they were going out of style. Sadly, I have not had one since. When it comes to soda, a diet coke in a bottle (glass, not plastic, mind you) truly reigns supreme. It just tastes fizzier and yummier.

Thanksgiving time is coming up. What food do you NOT want to see on the table?

Since I make our Thanksgiving feast, I have complete control over the candied yams or sweet potatoes NOT being on the table. I don't care how many cute little mini marshmallows you bake on top, it looks like orange baby spit-up and the texture is just as nasty.

By the way, living in Nashville for eight years didn't change my mind on this...

Readers on my blog know I'm a huge Star Wars fan. How about you? Yes, no, thoughts?

See, you and I have equally stellar taste in music, but I think here's where we're going to be divided. I only like the "Star Wars" movies with Ewan McGregor in them which, of course, discounts the entire original trilogy. But I think you'd be glad to know that a guy once broke up with me for falling asleep during the original "Star Wars." To impress him I even wore my hair in Princess Leia nun-buns and everything, but even with practically 100 bobby pins in my head, I just couldn't stay up for more than the first 20 minutes of the movie.

What's next in store for Sydney and what else are you working on?

Sydney's getting one last book that I have just begun working on. :) I'm really excited about it and think it'll end things nicely. I'm also working on another book idea that's in the very, very beginning stages. And aside from that, I'm still writing a slew of magazine features, movie, music and book reviews and musician bios.

Any last words?

I think I've rambled on enough, but thank you sooo much for this opportunity. It's been a ton of fun! And for anyone who is still reading, be sure to check out my Website (
www.christabanister.com) where I have links to my illustrious blog and much more!

Thank you for stopping by Christa! Now readers please please go out and get Christa's books. I guarantee you, they will be a fun, hip read that will keep you wanting more.