Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Review: "A Taste of Fame" by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson


The women of the Potluck Catering Club have a growing business. They even became the subject of a budding filmmaker's class project. Problem is, they didn't read the fine print when they signed off on his documentary. When he enters the club in the reality show "Great Party Showdown," the ladies of Summit View, Colorado, head to the Big Apple for the unexpected adventure of their lives. Between navigating New York City, dealing with other cutthroat contestants, and trying to maintain their close friendship in the high-stress world of reality TV, the Potluck women must keep their eyes on the prize--a cool million dollars--and work together if they're going to make it back to Colorado in one piece. A Taste of Fame serves up the perfect blend of humor, misadventure, and mouth-watering recipes. Fans new and old will love this exciting trip into the wild world of competitive cooking!

This has probably got to be my absolute favorite Potluck Club book ever. The story was written so extremely well. As a huge fan of the Food Network, I love any show that deals with competitive cooking. If the competition that happened in this book actually became a TV show (and I really think it should) I would definitely be watching and be a fan. I loved the behind the scenes action that took place and the descriptions of what it takes to make one of these shows. Also greatly enjoyed the trip to New York and the adventures the ladies had of just being in the city.

What I love best about this series is that these women are real. I get tired of reading other Christian fiction that portrays their characters as saints or those who are always eager to cast the first stone. Not only is it an overused stereotype, it's just plain wrong. The women in this book are just like any woman you meet in your church. They are flawed characters but they are real. They learn from their mistakes and they do what they can to live better lives. Usually you can tell with multiple authors when each author is writing. There is a distinct tone that is unique to that author's voice and stands out. This can be a distraction sometimes when it's obvious that the narrator has changed. Well in this series, I can't tell when Linda is writing or when Eva holds the pen. It all blends so seamlessly that the story just flows along. You don't feel overwhelmed, lose track or get confused with any of the character's stories. I felt that in this book, everyone had equal story time and each story was just as interesting, hilarious, and touching all at the same time.

There are TONS of recipes in this story, and all were used in the book. Alas I didn't get to try out any but there are many that are really simple to make. That way, if you get a hankering to try out something you're reading about, it's right there for you to stop reading, start cooking, and then eat and read at the same time. I cannot wait until the next book but at the same time, it's bittersweet because I know it'll be the last one. Until then, I shall cook up some of the recipes from this one and enjoy what I have. VERY HIGHLY recommended.

A Taste of Fame by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson is published by Revell (2009)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: "The Great Christmas Bowl" by Susan May Warren

Marianne Wallace is focused on two things this holiday season: planning the greatest family Christmas ever and cheering on her youngest son’s team in their bid for the state championship. Disaster strikes when the team loses their mascot—the Trout. Is it going too far to ask her to don the costume? So what if her husband has also volunteered her to organize the church Christmas tea. When football playoffs start ramping up, the Christmas tea starts falling apart. Then, one by one her children tell her they can’t come home for Christmas. As life starts to unravel, will Marianne remember the true meaning of the holidays?

This is probably one of the best Christmas novellas I've ever read. Yes it's short, but it gets to the point and it's sweet and funny and it totally gets you in the mood for Christmas. The way the book started, I was worried that it would fall in the trap of moms who find themselves empty nesters and make everyone else feel sorry for them. The other potential overused storyline trap would be a mom who does too much for everyone else because she can't say no and has a weak backbone. However instead I read about a mom who loves her kids and will do anything for them including potentially humiliating herself in front of the whole town. Would you (or your mom) dress up as what could possibly be the worst mascot of all time, a trout? I love reading about Marianne's adventures as as fish, from starting out being self conscious and scaring kids to just hamming it up in front of the crowd. She obviously love her kids very much and I did feel sorry for her when they didn't come home from the holidays. It made me think about how next time, I should give my parents at least some notice if I can't make it for the holidays.

Plus there's a yummy clam chowder recipe featured in the story and as a huge clam chowder fan I swooned. The recipe is included so you can try it out for yourself. If you're itching to get into the Christmas mood now, this book is perfect for you. It packs a lot of punch for a short story but by the end you'll clearly get the point. Along the way, it'll bring a lot of laughs, a lot of love, and a lot of trout.

The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren is published by Tyndale (2009)

CONTEST: Be a part of the Great Christmas Bowl recipe exchange! Susan loves getting recipes from friends, and sharing the delicious cookies, soups, breads and other fun fixings that go with celebrating the Christmas season. More than that, she loves the crazy stories about favorite Christmases – serious, touching, funny…whatever. Find the recipe contest here:
http://thegreatchristmasbowl.blogspot.com/2009/07/recipe-exchange.html


Will you share your story and recipe with Susan and the readers of the Great Christmas Bowl? She will post your story and recipe on the FRONT PAGE of the Great Christmas Bowl website, and send you a link when it goes up so you can tell all your friends. Then, at the Great Christmas Bowl party (December 5th, 10am, online! Details TBA) she’ll make the entire cookbook available for download!

For every recipe/story you submit (up to 3), you will be entered in a drawing to receive one of SMW’s collections (Noble Legacy, Team Hope, Heirs of Anton, Deep Haven Series, Josey series, or THE ADVANCED COPY of Sons of Thunder – Susie’s brand new epic World War 2 novel, due out in January 2010!)

Go – run, get your recipe, then come back here and click on the link below to share your Christmas memories!
http://thegreatchristmasbowl.blogspot.com/2009/07/recipe-exchange.html

Check out other stops on the tour here:
http://www.litfusegroup.com/latest/current-blog-tours/91-the-great-christmas-bowl-blog-tour

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow

Abingdon Press (September 2009)

by

Joyce Magnin



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joyce Magnin is the author of short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children.

Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups.

She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet who can’t seem to keep a name. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is her first published novel.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is the story of an unusual woman, Agnes Sparrow. No longer able or willing to leave her home, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda, Agnes has committed her life to the one thing she can do-besides eat. Agnes Sparrow prays and when Agnes prays things happen, including major miracles of the cancer, ulcer-healing variety along with various minor miracles not the least of which is the recovery of lost objects and a prize-winning pumpkin.

The rural residents of Bright's Pond are so enamored with Agnes they plan to have a sign erected on the interstate that reads, "Welcome to Bright's Pond, Home of Agnes Sparrow." This is something Agnes doesn't want and sends Griselda to fight city hall.

Griselda's petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward until a stranger comes to town looking for his miracle from Agnes. The truth of Agnes's odd motivation comes out when the town reels after a shocking event. How could Agnes allow such evil in their midst? Didn't she know?

Well, the prayers of Agnes Sparrow have more to do with Agnes than God. Agnes has been praying to atone for a sin committed when she was a child. After some tense days, the townsfolk, Griselda, and Agnes decide they all need to find their way back to the true source of the miracles-God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, go HERE

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review: "Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah" by Melody Carlson

In the final installment in the 86 Bloomberg Place series, Melody Carlson follows the girls in a crazed competition for bridesmaids, wedding locations, and showers. Newly engaged Lelani has returned from Maui to Bloomberg Place and is trying to book her wedding date. Unfortunately there are scheduling conflicts for that same weekend. For starters, Megan and Marcus have a family wedding commitment. Anna and Edmond have promised to attend his younger stepbrother’s Bar Mitzvah and, to everyone’s surprise, Kendall has just accepted her “Maui Man’s” proposal of marriage and also wants to be wed on that first weekend in June. Wedding madness ensues at 86 Bloomberg Place, yet at the same time friendships are being forged that will last a lifetime.

Wedding bells are ringing at 86 Bloomberg Place as Lelani begins to prepare for her wedding to Gil. As someone who's recently finished with her own wedding, I totally understand the importance and struggle of trying to have a small wedding. To me, weddings are supposed to be a celebration of a marriage and the union of two people who love each other. They are NOT supposed to be a party where you invite anyone and everyone just so they don't feel left out. For that reason, I just kept getting irritated with Gil's mother for trying to go against every one of Lelani's and Gil's wishes. On the other hand, I was really proud of the couple of standing up to her. I hate seeing people become doormats during wedding season! The girls were run to read as everyone's trying to prepare for the celebration. I really like seeing how they've grown since their arrival at house 86. Each one of them has matured and has found their niche in life and has taken full advantage of it. Once again there's lots of humor in this book, and for the most part I can really relate to these girls. They are my age and do things that I would do and like things I like. As I've said before I would have loved to share a house with them.

The only thing I didn't really like was that I felt Kendall's marriage is extremely rushed. I know that she had matured a bit since the beginning of the series, especially due to the baby. However, she's still not really that responsible to me and her rushing into marriage like this doesn't seem very wise at all. It doesn't help that her parents are very good people to turn to in times like this and don't have that much advice to give her. Her roommates try to advise when they can but even still, it feels like this might end up being a mistake. There's also the fact that this seems to be a long distance relationship that hasn't taken time to fully grow and it's not even really mentioned how often the couple has seen each other. One off beat note is that the bar mitzvah is not really a big factor in the story as the title seems to imply.


Other than this, I have really enjoyed reading this entire series. I have felt that I have gotten to know the girls really well and I shall miss reading about them and their adventures. This is probably the chick lit-tiest of all of Melody's books and I think that it has appeal to the general market as well. I hope that she'll be writing another series in this same fashion again.

Three Wedding and a Bar Mitzvah by Melody Carlson is published by David C. Cook (2009)

Here is the first chapter of the book


Megan Abernathy


“Okay, then, how does the second Saturday in June look?” Anna asked her housemates.


Megan frowned down at her date book spread open on the dining room table. She and Anna had been trying to nail a date for Lelani and Gil's wedding. Megan had already been the spoiler of the first weekend of June, but she'd already promised her mom that she'd go to a family reunion in Washington. Now it seemed she was about to mess things up again. “I'm sorry,” she said, “but I promised Marcus I'd go to his sister's wedding. It's been scheduled for almost a year now, and it's the second Saturday too. But maybe I can get out of it.”


Lelani just shook her head as she quietly rocked Emma in her arms, pacing back and forth between the living room and dining room. The baby was teething and fussy and overdue for her afternoon nap. Megan wasn't sure if Lelani's frustrated expression was a result of wedding planning or her baby's mood.


“Is it possible you could do both weddings in one day?” Anna asked Megan.


“That might work.” Megan picked up her datebook and followed Lelani into the living room, where she continued to rock Emma.


“Or we could look at the third weekend in June,” Anna called from the dining room.


“Shhh.” Megan held a forefinger over her lips to signal Anna that Emma was finally about to nod off. Megan waited and watched as Emma's eyes fluttered closed and Lelani gently eased the limp baby down into the playpen set up in a corner of the living room. Lelani pushed a dark lock of hair away from Emma's forehead, tucked a fuzzy pink blanket over her, then finally stood up straight and sighed.


“Looks like she's down for the count,” Megan whispered.


Lelani nodded. “Now, where were we with dates?”


“If you still want to go with the second Saturday,” Megan spoke quietly, “Anna just suggested that it might be possible for me to attend two weddings in one day.”


“That's a lot to ask of you,” Lelani said as they returned to the dining room, where Anna and Kendall were waiting expectantly with the calendar in the middle of the table and opened to June.


Megan shrugged as she pulled out a chair. “It's your wedding, Lelani. You should have it the way you want it. I just want to help.”


Anna pointed to the second Saturday. “Okay, this is the date in question. Is it doable or not?”


Lelani sat down and sighed. “I'm willing to schedule my wedding so that it's not a conflict with the other one. I mean, if it can even be done. Mostly I just wanted to wait until I finished spring term.”


“What time is Marcus's sister's wedding?” asked Anna.


“I'm not positive, but I think he said it was in the evening.” She reached for her phone.


“And you want a sunset wedding,” Kendall reminded Lelani.


“That's true.” Anna nodded.


“But I also want Megan to be there,” Lelani pointed out.


“That would be helpful, since she's your maid of honor,” said Anna.


Megan tried not to bristle at the tone of Anna's voice. She knew that Anna had been put a little out of sorts by Lelani's choice--especially considering that Anna was the sister of the groom--but to be fair, Megan was a lot closer to Lelani than Anna was. And at least they were all going to be in the wedding.


“Let me ask Marcus about the time,” Megan said as she pressed his speed-dial number and waited. “Hey, Marcus,” she said when he finally answered. “We're having a scheduling problem here. Do you know what time Hannah's wedding is going to be?”


“In the evening, I think,” Marcus said. “Do you need the exact time?”


“No, that's good enough.” Megan gave Lelani a disappointed look. “I'll talk to you later, okay?”


“You're not thinking of bailing on me, are you?” He sounded genuinely worried.


“No, but we're trying to pin down a time and date for Lelani.”


“It's just that I really want my family to meet you, Megan. I mean all of my family. And I want you to meet them too.”


“I know, and I plan to go with you.”


“Thanks. So, I'll see you around six thirty tonight?”


“That's right.” Megan told him good-bye, then turned to Lelani with a sigh. “I'm sorry,” she told her. “That wedding's at night too. Maybe I should blow off my family reunion so that you--”


“No.” Anna pointed to the calendar. “I just realized that the first Saturday in June is also my mother's birthday.”


“So?” Kendall shrugged. “What's wrong with that?”


Megan laughed. “Think about it, Kendall, how would you like to share your wedding anniversary with your mother-in-law's birthday?”


Kendall grinned. “Oh, yeah. Maybe not.”


“How about a Sunday wedding?” suggested Megan.


“Sunday?” Lelani's brow creased slightly as she weighed this.


“Sunday might make it easier to book the location,” Kendall said. “I mean, since most weddings are usually on Saturdays, and June is a pretty busy wedding month.”


“That's true,” agreed Megan.


“And you gotta admit that this is short notice for planning a wedding,” added Kendall. “Some people say you should start planning your wedding a whole year ahead of time.”


“Marcus's sister has been planning her wedding for more than a year,” Megan admitted. “Marcus says that Hannah is going to be a candidate for the Bridezillas show if she doesn't lighten up.”


They all laughed.


“Well, there's no way Gil and I are going to spend a year planning a wedding.” Lelani shook her head. “That's fine for some people, but we're more interested in our marriage than we are in our wedding.”


“I hear you.” Kendall laughed and patted her slightly rounded belly. She was in her fifth month of the pregnancy. They all knew that she and her Maui man, Killiki, were corresponding regularly, but despite Kendall's high hopes there'd been no proposal.


“I really don't see why it should take a year to plan a wedding,” Megan admitted. “I think that's just the wedding industry's way of lining their pockets.”


“So how much planning time do you have now anyway?” Kendall asked Lelani. “Like three months?”


“Not even.” Lelani flipped the calendar pages back. “It's barely two now.”


“Which is why we need to nail this date today,” Megan said. “Even though it's a small wedding--”


“And that remains to be seen,” Anna reminded her. “My mother's list keeps growing and growing and growing.”


“I still think it might be easier to just elope,” Lelani reminded them. “I told Gil that I wouldn't have a problem with that at all.”


“Yes, that would be brilliant.” Anna firmly shook her head. “You can just imagine how absolutely thrilled Mom would be about that little idea.”


Lelani smiled. “I actually thought she'd be relieved.”


“That might've been true a few months ago. But Mom's changing.” Anna poked Lelani in the arm. “In fact, I'm starting to feel jealous. I think she likes you better than me now.”


Lelani giggled. “In your dreams, Anna. Your mother just puts up with me so she can have access to Emma.”


They all laughed about that. Everyone knew that Mrs. Mendez was crazy about her soon-to-be granddaughter. Already she'd bought Emma all kinds of clothes and toys and seemed totally intent on spoiling the child rotten.


“Speaking of Emma”--Kendall shook her finger--“Mrs. Mendez is certain that she's supposed to have her on Monday. But I thought it was my day.”


“I'm not sure,” Lelani admitted. “But I'll call and find out.”


“And while you've got Granny on the line,” continued Kendall, “tell her that I do know how to change diapers properly. One more diaper lecture and I might just tape a Pamper over that big mouth of hers. Sheesh!”


They all laughed again. Since coming home from Maui, Kendall had been complaining about how Mrs. Mendez always seemed to find fault with Kendall's childcare abilities. In fact, Mrs. Mendez had spent the first week “teaching” Kendall the “proper” way to do almost everything.


To be fair, Megan didn't blame the older woman. Megan had been a little worried about Kendall too. But to everyone's surprise, Kendall turned out to be rather maternal. Whether it had to do with her own pregnancy or a hidden talent, Megan couldn't decide, but Kendall's skill had been a huge relief.


“Now, back to the wedding date,” said Lelani.


“Yes,” agreed Megan. “What about earlier on Saturday?”


“Oh, no,” Anna said. “I just remembered that I promised Edmond I'd go to his brother's bar mitzvah on that same day--I think it's in the morning.”


Lelani groaned.


“Edmond's brother?” Megan frowned. “I thought he was an only child. And since when is he Jewish?”


“Remember, his mom remarried,” Anna told her. “And Philip Goldstein, her new husband, is Jewish, and he has a son named Ben whose bar mitzvah is that Saturday.” She sighed. “I'm sorry, Lelani.”


“So Saturday morning is kaput,” Megan said.


“And Lelani wanted a sunset wedding anyway,” Anna repeated.


“So why can't you have a sunset wedding on Sunday?” Kendall suggested.


“That's an idea.” Megan turned back to Lelani. “What do you think?”


Lelani nodded. “I think that could work.”


“And here's another idea!” Anna exclaimed. “If the wedding was on Sunday night, you could probably have the reception in the restaurant afterward. I'm guessing it would be late by the time the wedding was over, and Sunday's not exactly a busy night.”


Lelani looked hopeful. “Do you think your parents would mind?”


“Mind? Are you kidding? That's what my mother lives for.”


“But we still don't have a place picked for the wedding,” Megan said.


“I have several outdoor locations in mind. I'll start checking on them tomorrow.”


“We'll have to pray that it doesn't rain.” Megan penned 'Lelani and Gil's Wedding' in her date book, then closed it.


“Should there be a backup plan?” asked Anna. “I'm sure my parents could have the wedding at their house.”


“Or here,” suggested Kendall. “You can use this house if you want.”


Anna frowned. “It's kind of small, don't you think?”


“I think it's sweet of Kendall to offer.” Lelani smiled at Kendall.


“I can imagine a bride coming down those stairs,” Kendall nodded toward the staircase. “I mean, if it was a small wedding.”


“I'll keep it in mind,” Lelani told her. “And your parents' house too.”


“It might be tricky getting a church reserved on a Sunday night,” Megan looked at the clock. “And speaking of that, I better get ready. Marcus is picking me up for the evening service in about fifteen minutes.” She turned back to Lelani. “Don't worry. I've got my to-do list and I'll start checking on some of this stuff tomorrow. My mom will want to help with the flowers.”


“And my aunt wants to make the cake,” Anna reminded them.


“Sounds like you're in good hands,” Kendall sad a bit wistfully. “I wonder how it would go if I was planning my wedding.”


“You'd be in good hands too,” Lelani assured her.


“Now, let's start going over that guest list,” Anna said as Megan stood up. “The sooner we get it finished, the less chance my mother will have of adding to it.” Megan was relieved that Anna had offered to handle the invitations. She could have them printed at the publishing company for a fraction of the price that a regular printer would charge, and hopefully she'd get them sent out in the next couple of weeks.


As Megan changed from her weekend sweats into something presentable, she wondered what would happen with Lelani's parents when it was time for the big event. Although her dad had promised to come and was already committed to paying Lelani's tuition to finish med school, Lelani's mom was still giving Lelani the cold shoulder. Make that the ice shoulder. For a woman who lived in the tropics, Mrs. Porter was about as chilly as they come. Still, Lelani had friends to lean on. Maybe that was better than family at times.


“Your prince is here,” Kendall called into Megan's room.


“Thanks.” Megan was looking for her other loafer and thinking it was time to organize her closet again. “Tell him I'm coming.”


When Megan came out, Marcus was in the dining room, chatting with her housemates like one of the family. He was teasing Anna for having her hair in curlers, then joking with Kendall about whether her Maui man had called her today.


“Not yet,” Kendall told him with a little frown. “But don't forget the time-zone thing. It's earlier there.”


“Speaking of time zones,” Lelani said to Marcus. “Did I hear you're actually thinking about going to Africa?”


Marcus grinned and nodded. “Yeah, Greg Mercer, this guy at our church, is trying to put together a mission trip to Zambia. I might go too.”


“Wow, that's a long ways away.” Kendall turned to Megan. “How do you feel about that?”


Megan shrugged as she pulled on her denim jacket. “I think it's cool.”


“Are you coming with us to church tonight, Kendall?” Marcus asked. “Greg is going to show a video about Zambia.”


“Sorry to miss that,” Kendall told him. “But Killiki is supposed to call.”


“Ready to roll?” Megan nodded up to the clock.


He grinned at her. “Yep.” But before they went out, he turned around. “That is, unless anyone else wants to come tonight.”


Lelani and Anna thanked him but said they had plans. Even so, Megan was glad he'd asked. It was nice when Kendall came with them occasionally. And Lelani had come once too. Really, it seemed that God was at work at 86 Bloomberg Place. Things had changed a lot since last fall.


“So are you nervous?” Marcus asked as he drove toward the city.


“Nervous?” Megan frowned. “About church?”


“No. The big interview.”


Megan slapped her forehead. “Wow, I temporarily forgot. We were so obsessed with Lelani's wedding today, trying to make lists, plan everything, and settle the date … I put the interview totally out of my mind.”


“Hopefully, it won't be out of your mind by Monday.”


“No, of course not.”


“So … are you nervous?”


Megan considered this. It would be her first interview for a teaching job. And it was a little unsettling. “The truth is, I don't think I have a chance at the job,” she admitted. “And, yes, I'm nervous. Thanks for reminding me.”


“Sorry. Why don't you think you'll get the job?”


“Because I don't have any actual teaching experience.” She wanted to add duh, but thought it sounded a little juvenile.


“Everyone has to start somewhere.”


“But starting in middle school, just a couple of months before the school year ends? Don't you think they'll want someone who knows what they're doing?”


“Unless they want someone who's enthusiastic and energetic and smart and creative and who likes kids and had lots of great new ideas and--”


“Wow, any chance you could do the interview in my place?”


“Cross-dress and pretend I'm you?”


She laughed. “Funny.”


“Just have confidence, Megan. Believe in yourself and make them believe too. You'd be great as a middle-school teacher.”


“What makes you so sure?”


“Because I remember middle school.”


“And?”


“And most of my teachers were old and dull and boring.”


“That's sad.”


“And I would've loved having someone like you for a teacher.”


“Really?”


He chuckled. “Yeah. If I was thirteen, I'd probably sit right in the front row and think about how hot you were, and then I'd start fantasizing about--”


“Marcus Barrett, you're pathetic.” Just the same, she laughed.


“What can I say? I'm just a normal, warm-blooded, American kid.”


“Give me a break!” She punched him in the arm.


“Is that your phone?” he asked as he was parking outside of the church.


“Oh, yeah, a good reminder to turn it off.” She pulled it out to see it was Kendall. Megan hoped nothing was wrong. “Hey, Kendall,” she said as Marcus set the parking brake. “What's up?”


“Guess what?” shrieked Kendall.


“I have no idea what, but it sounds like good news.” She stepped out of the car.


“Killiki just called.”


“That's nice.”


“And he asked me to marry him!”


Megan raised her eyebrows and looked at Marcus as he came around to meet her. “And you said yes?”


“Of course! Do you think I'm crazy?”


“No. Not at all. Congratulations, Kendall. I mean, I guess that's what you say.”


“So now we have two weddings to plan.”


Megan blinked. She walked with Marcus toward the church entry. “Oh, yeah, I guess we do.”


“And I'm getting married in June too!”


“That's great, Kendall. I'm really, really happy for you. And Killiki seems like a great guy.”


“He is! Anyway, we just looked at the calendar again. And we finally figured that I should just get married the same day as Lelani, only I'll get married in the morning. That way we'll all be able to go to both weddings.”


“Wow, the same day?”


“Otherwise, you'll be at your reunion or Marcus's sister's wedding. Or Anna will be at the bar mitzvah. Or Lelani and Gil will be on their honeymoon.”


“Oh, that's right.”


“And I want all of you there!”


“Yes, I suppose that makes sense.”


“It'll be busy, but fun.”


“Definitely.” Then Megan thanked Kendall for telling her, and they said good-bye. Megan closed her phone and just shook her head. “Wow.”


“Kendall's getting married?” asked Marcus as he held the church door open for her.


“Yes. Can you believe it?”


“Good for her.”


“And her wedding will be the same weekend as your sister's and the same day as Lelani's.”


Marcus held up three fingers and wore a perplexed expression. “Three weddings in one weekend? That's crazy.”


“Yep.” Megan nodded. “Three weddings and a bar mitzvah.”


“Huh?” Marcus looked confused, but they were in the sanctuary, and Megan knew she'd have to explain later.


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah by Melody Carlson. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Guest Review: "The Book That Made America" by Jerry Newcombe

*This is a guest review from my dad!*


In this pluralistic society and postmodern generation, most of us may not know the greatness of America, much less the source of its greatness. You cannot help but be amazed at the greatness of America when you see the sheer number of people from all over the world migrating to this nation, often at the risk of their lives. What then is the source of the greatness of this nation? The author gives convincing proofs that America is great because it was founded on the teachings of the Bible—the word of God. To prove his point, the author cites document after document that the early settlers (the Pilgrims, Puritans, Jamestown settlers) were motivated by the teachings of the Bible to come to the New World, hoping to worship God freely, and to propagate the gospel to the natives. The author also cites how the founding fathers of this nation were shaped and molded by the teachings of the Bible to write the Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the USA. The book also clears up the misconception of the so-called “a wall of separation between Church and State.” Contrary to what the modern day historical revisionists ignore or claim, the author points out and discusses in detail that in 1812, the United States Supreme Court declared America as a Christian nation. This book should be a required reading for Churches, schools, and colleges, and every American who want to know the Christian root of this great nation.

The Book That Made America
by Jerry Newcombe is published by
Nordskog Publishing (2009)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Have a New Husband by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman

In Have a New Husband By Friday, author Kevin Leman shows women how making a few changes in attitude, behavior, and communication style can revolutionize their marriages and bring out the very best in their husbands. Leman's popular common sense method sprinkled with his humorous wit makes his advice to women irresistible and easy to swallow.

As someone who's recently gotten married, and still technically in the period of the honeymoon year, one would think I wouldn't need this book. Well it's always better to be prepared in case of unexpected turn of events right? The main purpose of this book is the help women be able to communicate with the husbands in the hopes of a better marriage. Communication is usually the biggest factor in problems in a marriage. This book explains the differences between men and women and how women should use those differences to help change their own attitudes and help them figure out their husbands.

Usually I have trouble with reading marriage books because a lot of times the books seem to say that even though the wife may be right, she needs to adapt for her husband's sake. This time however, the book recognizes that it isn't just the wife's responsibility for change, the guy needs to shape up as well.

Even though I might not need this book right now, it is one I will keep on my shelf for future reference. I'd like to say I'll never need it but it's better to be safe than sorry. I think there should be a guy version of this book as well.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Review: "Seeing Things" by Patti Hill


Birdie Wainwright, 72, isn’t concerned about seeing things that others can’t. For a woman who still climbs mountains with her dog (Miss Bee Haven) and likes to tango, the impractical visions brought on by macular degeneration are just another gift from God, adding more adventure to life. But when a tumble down the stairs breaks her ankle and leads back to her son’s home in Denver where she must convalesce, Birdie’s imagination really takes flight. Following a conversation with her grandson about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, she begins to see and speak with the unkempt literary character himself on a regular basis. As the line between reality and whimsy turns brittle, faith is tested among friends and loved ones, and hope is reborn.

Who hasn't had an imaginary friend that used to talk to when they were little? Even now, sometimes the characters you create in your head are better company to keep than the real people you have to interact with on a daily basis. That's what life is like for Birdie as she finds that it's easier to communicate with Huckleberry Finn than with her son and his wife. That is a literary character that would be great to have a conversation with. I love how their conversations mostly consist of Birdie being able to confide and share her thoughts with Huck just sitting there listening. It's the best situation ever!

I found the relationship between Birdie and her son and his family to very interesting to the story. I felt that this relationship is the epitome of elderly parents and their children who aren't sure how to take care of them. Their reactions and attitudes towards each other were very realistic and it touches at the heart for those who have been in this situation. What I liked best was how the author portrayed Birdie. She's not shown as a cranky elderly person who thinks that her way is the best way. She loves her grandson very much and wants to make everything right for him. Her relationship with her son is rocky and is even more so with his wife. However she tries to do her best to keep the peace even though it's very difficult for her.

My only complaint is that it's very slow for about halfway through the book. It takes a while to really get into the story. It's not boring, there's just a lot of that you have to see through Birdie's eyes first before delving deeper. This book is not a fast read, but it's one to savor. I feel that it will touch many readers and pull some heartstrings. Perfect for a lazy fall's day.

Seeing Things by Patti Hill is published by B & H Publishing (2009)

A Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


A Cowboy Christmas

Barbour Books (September 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


As an award-winning author, Mary Connealy lives on a Nebraska farm with her husband and is the mother of four grown daughters. She writes plays and shorts stories, and is the author of two other novels, Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon. Also an avid blogger, Mary is a GED instructor by day and an author by night. For more information on Mary Connealy, visit her Web site at .

Visit the author's website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A mining camp in Missouri, November, 1879


“You’ll wear that dress, Songbird.” Claude Leveque grabbed Annette Talbot’s arm, lifted her to her toes, and shoved her backward.

Annie tripped over a chair and cried out as it toppled. The chair scraped her legs and back. Her head hit the wall of the tiny, windowless shack, and stars exploded in her eyes.

Stunned by the pain, she hit the floor, and an animal instinct sent her scrambling away from Claude. But there was nowhere to go in the twelve-by-twelve-foot cabin.

Her head cleared enough to tell her there was no escape, so she fought with will and faith. “Never.” Propping herself up on her elbows, she faced him and shouted her defiance. “I will never go out in public in that dress.”

“You’ll sing what I tell you to sing.” Claude, in his polished suit and tidily trimmed hair, looked every inch civilized—or he had, until tonight. Now he strode toward her, eyes shooting furious fire, his face twisted into soul-deep rot and sin.

“I sing as a mission.” Annie tried to press her back through the unyielding log wall. “I sing hymns. That’s the only thing—”

A huge fist closed over the front of her blouse, and Claude lifted her like a rag doll to eye level, but he didn’t strike.

He would. He’d proved that several times over since he’d come here with his disgusting demands.

She braced herself. She’d die first. Claude might not believe that, but he’d know before long.

“So, you’re willing to die for your beliefs, heh?” Claude’s fist tightened on her blouse, cutting off Annie’s air.

“Yes!” She could barely speak, but he heard. He knew.

“Are you willing to watch someone else die, Songbird? Maybe your precious friend, Elva?” He shook her and her head snapped back. “I can always find another piano player.”

“No!” Annie had to save Elva. Somehow. Of course Elva would be threatened. Annie hadn’t had time to think that far.

Elva would never stand for this. Elva would die for her beliefs, too.

A wicked laugh escaped from Claude’s twisted mouth. “She’s easily replaced. But I’ll never”—he shook her viciously—“find another singer like you.”

How had it come to this? God help me. Protect Elva and me.

“My answer is no! Elva wouldn’t play the piano for me if I wore that.” Her eyes went to the slattern’s dress hanging, vivid red, near the door. “She would refuse to play the piano for those vulgar songs.”

“We’ll see, Songbird.” Claude laughed again.

Annie saw the evil in him, the hunger to hurt. He wasn’t just hurting Annie to get his way. He was enjoying it. Her vision dimmed and blurred as she clawed at his strangling fist.

“I’ll go have a talk with your frail old friend and then we’ll see.” He shoved Annie backward, slamming her against the wall.

She hit so hard her knees buckled. What little air she still had was knocked away.

Claude charged out, shutting the door behind him.

Annie heard the sound of a padlock snicking shut as she slumped sideways.

She became aware of her surroundings with no idea how much time had passed. In the falling darkness, she could barely make out blood dripping down the front of her dress. Tears diluted the blood and she wept.

“Do something, idiot! You can’t just sit here crying.”

Annie proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was indeed an idiot by burying her face in her hands and sobbing her heart out. The tears burned. She swiped at them and flinched from the pain in her blackened eye.

Shuddering, she lifted her battered face from her hands and looked at the dress. It seemed to glow in the dim light, as if the very fires of the devil gave it light. Indecent, vivid red silk with black fringe. No bodice worth mentioning, the front hem cut up nearly to the knees. The garment was horrible and disgusting, and Annie’s shudders deepened. She shouted at the walls of the tiny, solidly locked cabin, “I won’t do it!”

Claude had known before he’d asked that Annie would never wear that sinful dress and sing those bawdy songs. Touching gingerly her throbbing, swollen cheek, Annie pulled her hand away and saw blood. Her lip was split, her nose bleeding. She knew Claude’s fists had been more for his own cruel pleasure than any attempt at coercion.

“Beat me to death if you want,” she yelled at the door. “I will never again perform onstage for you!” She felt strong, righteous. Ready to die for her faith.

Then she thought of Elva. Annie’s elderly accompanist was maybe, right now, being punished because Annie hadn’t fallen in line.

Claude’s cruel threats rang in her ears even with him gone.

For all her utter commitment to refusing the Leveques and singing only her beloved hymns, how could Annie watch Elva be hurt? Could Annie stand on principle while Elva was beaten?

The welts on Annie’s arm, in the perfect shape of Claude Leveque’s viselike hand, along with Annie’s swollen eye and bleeding lip, proved the hateful man knew how to inflict pain. He’d proved he had no compunction in hurting a helpless woman.

Noise outside her prison brought Annie to her feet. He was coming back! Annie was sick to think what the couple would do to the elderly woman who had spent her older years worshipping God with music.

Sick with fear that they’d force Annie to watch Elva being battered, Annie clenched her fists and prayed. God would never agree that Annie should wear that tart’s dress, sing vile, suggestive songs, and flash her legs for drunken men.

But Elva!

Please, Lord, guide me though this dark valley.

A key rattled in the doorway.

Annie braced herself. If she could get past Claude, she would run, find Elva, and get away. Go somewhere, somehow. Throw herself on the mercy of the men in this logging camp—the very ones Claude said would pay to see that dreadful harlot’s gown.

The wooden door of the secluded, one-room shack swung hard and crashed against the wall. Elva fell onto her knees, clutching her chest. “You have to run!” Elva, eyes wild with terror, lifted her head. Annie saw Elva’s face was battered; a cut on her cheek bled freely.

Expecting Claude and Blanche to be right behind the gray-haired woman, Annie rushed forward and dropped to Elva’s side. “Elva, what did they do to you?”

“I heard. . .I heard Claude making plans, awful plans for you. He caught me eavesdropping. He thought he’d knocked me cold, but I lay still and waited until he left. He’d hung the key on a nail, and I stole it and slipped away to set you free.” Elva staggered to her feet, every breath echoed with pain. She stretched out a shaking hand, and Annie saw Elva’s black velvet reticule. The one the sweet pianist, who made Annie’s voice sound as pretty as a meadowlark, carried always. “There’s money. All I’ve saved.” Elva coughed, cutting off her words. She breathed as if it hurt. “T–Take it and go. There’s a wagon. It’s already left, but run, catch it. Ride to town. Enough.” Coughing broke her voice again and Elva’s knees wobbled. She clung tight to Annie. “Enough for one train ticket.”

Annie realized what Elva was saying. “No, I won’t leave you.”

“It’s my heart.” Elva sagged sideways, clutching her chest. Annie couldn’t hold her dead weight, slight though Elva was. They both lowered to the floor. “When Claude landed his first blow, I felt my heart give out. Oh, Annie, the things he threatened for you. The evil, ugly words from a serpent’s mouth. My precious girl. Run. You must run.”

“I won’t leave you. They’ll kill you, Elva.”

“No. My heart. I’ve felt it coming for months and tonight’s the end. They can’t harm me anymore.”

“Elva, don’t talk like that.” Tears wanted to fall, but Annie had no time for such weakness. “You’re all I have!”

“Your father. Go home.”

“He doesn’t want me. You know that.”

Elva’s hand closed over the already bruised place on Annie’s wrist. Elva clearly saw what Annie had already suffered at Claude’s hands. “Go. There’s no time. What they want from you is a fate worse than death.”

Annie gasped. Those words could mean only one thing. She glanced at the indecent dress. A harlot’s dress.

“God is calling me home, my beautiful girl. He’s taking me b–because He knows you’d never leave me. God in heaven is rescuing us both. I’ll go home and so will you. I believe that.”

Annie looked into Elva’s eyes, and even now they clouded over.

“Go. Please. It’s my fault you’re in this place. I thought we’d bring the Lord to these people with your beautiful singing. I convinced you to stay when the Leveques took over. If you stay I will have died for nothing, Sw–Sweet Annie.”

Elva’s grip tightened until Annie nearly cried out in pain. Then as quickly as the spasm had come, it was gone.

And so was Elva. She sank, lifeless, to the floor.

Annie saw the very moment Elva’s spirit left her body—a heartbreaking, beautiful moment, because now Elva was beyond pain.

But Annie wasn’t.

“If you stay I will have died for nothing.”

A loud snap of a twig jerked Annie’s head around. She gazed into the nearby woods surrounding the sequestered shack she’d been locked in. The Leveques were coming.

“What they want from you is a fate worse than death.”

As if God Himself sent lightning to jolt her, Annie clutched Elva’s reticule, leaped to her feet, and ran.

“There’s a wagon. It’s already left, but run, catch it. Ride to town.”

Annie gained the cover of the woods and, without looking back, began moving with painstaking silence.

She heard Claude’s shout of rage when he discovered the cabin door ajar.

Poor Elva. No one to bury her. No one to make her funeral a testimony to her life of faith.

Annie hated herself for running away. It was cowardly. There had to be some way to stay and pay proper respect, see to a decent Christian burial. Every decent part of herself said, “Go back. Face this.”

She kept moving. Elva had insisted on it. Common sense confirmed it. God whispered it in her heart to move, hurry, be silent.

Silence was her only weapon and Annie used it. She’d learned silence in the mountains growing up, slipping up on a deer or an elk. Slipping away from a bear or a cougar.

As much as Annie had loved her mountain home, she’d never learned to hunt. Pa fed the family. But she loved the woods and was skilled in their use.

Heading for the trail to town, she was careful to get close enough to not lose her way but stay off to the side.

Not long after she’d started out, she saw Claude storming down the trail toward town. He’d catch the wagon Elva spoke of long before she did. And, she hoped, insist on searching it. Once Claude assured himself that Annie wasn’t there, she’d have her chance.

Annie felt the bite of the cool night air. She heard an owl hoot in the darkness. The rustle of the leaves covered tiny sounds she might make as she eased along. She knew the trail. She knew the night. She knew the woods.

All of it was filled with treachery.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Review: "Fashionista" by Micol Ostow


Madison, Spencer, and Reagan have it all: the looks, the connections, the money, the boys. As the daughters of three of the most prestigious families on Philadelphia's Main Line (read: old money, and lots of it) and the ruling juniors at Bradford, nothing can stand in their way...except, perhaps, their own dark secrets.

Madison feels plenty guilty for sneaking around behind Spencer's back with Spencer's long-time boyfriend, Tyler. But what Spencer doesn't know can't hurt her, right? Too bad nothing at Bradford stays secret for long...

Starting a series with the second book can be hit or miss. Sometimes there is enough information in the second book to keep you updated from what happened in the first book and therefore can be read as a standalone. Other times it feels as if the author fully expects you to have read the first book before you even touch the next one. This book feels like the latter. For the first few chapters of the book, I was totally lost. The book is written in email, blog, IM format. Normally I really enjoy this format because it makes for addictive reading due to no chapter stops. However in this case, because I was unfamiliar with any of the characters or their real names, I was unable to keep up with who was who. I felt like there's too much teen speak and label dropping in this book. While I don't mind when the occasional use of slang or see some labels every now and then, the constant usage is really jarring. This is especially true when you can understand what in the world the teens are saying. There is some language in this book, as well as teen drinking.

I've never been a fan of girls who are cheating with their best friend's boyfriend. I don't know why they can't see this relationship will never work out. There are interesting topics in this book however. There is a big discussion on kleptomania and the consequences it causes. Although, I didn't like the way it finally handled and it just didn't seem like the problem was really resolved, more like it was pushed aside and hidden under a rug. Also I appreciated there being a diverse cast, always a plus in YA book.

Overall this book was ok. As of right now, it's not in my top 3 for YA chick lit books. I probably will need to read the first book to get a full appreciation for the story and then move on to book 3. I think teens will like this series too. If you enjoyed the IM conversations and emails from Gossip Girl and The It Girl, then this book is for you.

Fashionista by Micol Ostow is published by Simon Pulse (2009)

Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fields Of Grace

Bethany House (October 2009)

by

Kim Vogel Sawyer



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Best-selling, award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, singer of songs and lover of chocolate... but most importantly, she's a born-again child of the King!

A former elementary school teacher, Kim closed her classroom door in 2005 to follow God's call on her heart to write and speak. Now blessed with multiple writing contracts with Bethany House, Barbour, and Zondervan Publishing, Kim enjoys sharing her journey to publication as well as the miraculous story of her healing from a life-long burden of pain and shame.

Kim's gentle yet forthright testimony lends credence to the promise of Ps. 117:2--"Great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."


ABOUT THE BOOK

Will their Mennonite faith be shaken or strengthened by the journey to a new land?

With their eldest son nearly to the age when he will be drafted into military service, Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to immigrate to America, the land of liberty, with their three sons and Reinhardt's adopted brother, Eli. But when tragedy strikes during the voyage, Lillian and Eli are forced into an agreement neither desires.

Determined to fulfill his obligation to Reinhardt, Eli plans to see Lillian and her sons safely settled on their Kansas homestead--and he's equally determined that the boys will be reared in the Mennonite faith. What he doesn't expect is his growing affection for Lillian--and the deep desire to be part of a family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fields Of Grace, go HERE

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Review: "A Prisoner of Versaillles" by Golden Keyes Parsons




Having fled their homeland of France because of the persecution by Louis XIV, the Clavell family seeks refuge in Switzerland. However, the king is not about to let the recently widowed Madeleine, his childhood sweetheart, escape that easily. He sends musketeers to kidnap her and her oldest son, Philippe, holding them captive in his opulent palace. King Louis is suspicious that Philippe could be his son, and he's enraged by the growing affection of one of his courtiers for Madeleine. Will Madeleine escape the king with her life or lose everything that she's fought so hard to keep?

I am not a fan of French history. There's nothing wrong with the country or anything and I will admit there are times where it is interesting. However, as an American history major, European history (except for British) just confuses me with all the kings that have similar names and the politics that kept changing the government constantly. Except for a few movies, I usually avoid most historical things European like the plague. However this series has totally changed my mind on the entire subject.

Like the first book in the series, this book is just nothing short of sweeping and majestic. I really felt like I was in Versailles and could picture the palace and its grounds in my mind's eye. The splendor of everything is described in full detail and it's easy to picture the luxury and excess of royalty vs. the humble surroundings back with Jean and the rest of the family. Madeline's adventures are extremely fascinating as you don't know what's going to happen to her fate or that of her son's. I enjoyed her relationship with Pierre and am looking forward to seeing what happens with the pair. While there is talk about the battle between Catholics and Huguenots, the story is not preachy. Instead faith is scene in a historical context, it is what you are as opposed to how you act.


I think, though, my favorite part of the book was the bringing to life of French history. I think the author did an outstanding job at the historical research, from details of the palace to what the prisons were like. I especially thought it was interesting to bring up the Man in the Iron Mask and the possibilities that could have come from this arrangement.

The only small flaw I had with the book was that I felt that Madeline seemed to get over what happened to her husband rather fast. I just didn't feel like enough time had passed. Other than this, I really enjoyed this book. The story is extremely well researched and the plot is very fast paced. I found myself glued to the pages and didn't want the story to end. I am eagerly awaiting to read what happens in the next book. Until then, I might have to brush up on my French history after all. VERY Highly recommended.


A Prisoner of Versailles by Golden Keyes Parsons is published by Thomas Nelson (2009)

If God is Good by Randy Alcorn


Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In If God is Good, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Reading Challenge 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009

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

I started these twice-yearly challenges because I thought it would be fun to share my love of reading with other bloggers and to push myself to read some books I might not otherwise read, or to finish some books I had started and then abandoned & stashed under my bed. I thought there were probably others out there who would appreciate the accountability and encouragement that a challenge can provide. And along the way, I discovered there were lots of people who — whether they needed the extra push or not — loved to share what they planned or hoped to read during the upcoming months.

So that’s the point: sharing some reading goals with all the other participants and doing it in a way that works for you. If you want to push yourself, go for it! Or if you just want to share what you’re hoping to get around to reading before winter, that works too. The most important thing is to read this fall, to enjoy it, and to share that enjoyment with others.

So without further adieu is here is my list for the challenge! Note: These are all my library books, which means these MUST be read by the end of the challenge or face the wrath of fines!

Christian fiction
  • Black by Ted Dekker
  • Red by Ted Dekker
  • Chop Shop by Tim Downs
  • Silent Enemy by Lois Richer
  • Suspicion by Ginny Aiken
  • Nowhere to Hide by Debby Giusti
  • The Missing by Beverly Lewis
  • Where Willows Grow by Kim Vogel Sawyer
  • Just to See You Smile by Sally John
  • A Time to Gather by Sally John and Gary Smalley
  • The Winding Road Home by Sally John
  • See No Evil by Gayle Roper
  • Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow
  • The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson
  • White by Ted Dekker
  • Shoofly Pie by Tim Downs
  • Death Benefits by Hannah Alexander
  • Beloved Enemy by Terri Reed
Chick lit
  • Knitting Under the Influence by Clair LaZabnik
  • Carpool Diem by Nancy Star
  • Goodbye Jimmy Choo by Annie Sanders
  • Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer
  • How to Sleep With a Movie Star by Kristin Harmel
  • Everyone Else's Girl by Megan Crane
  • Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
  • Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle by Beverly Bartlett
  • Cyber Cinderella by Christina Hopkinson
  • Forget About It by Caprice Crane
YA
  • Code Name Cassandra by Meg Cabot
  • Sanctuary by Meg Cabot
  • Safe House by Meg Cabot
  • Missing You by Meg Cabot
  • Shaken by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
  • Unmasked by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
  • Deceived by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
  • Protected by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
  • Hunted by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
  • Arrived by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
  • Promises, Promises by Annie Bryante
Other Literature
  • Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
33 books and I'll allow one set of additions because I have some holds coming in from the library this week. Luckily most of these books will be able to fit into some other challenges I'm participating in. And of course when this one is over, I know I will have read extra books on my list. This shall be fun as always!

Book Review: "An Eye for An Eye" by Irene Hannon



After he accidentally shoots a teenager at a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press starts to settle. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico to resume his work on the HRT, Mark has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he tries to strike again. But what is his motive--and who was his intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time?

Irene Hannon is back with the second installment in her Heroes of Quantico series. Once again I felt really drawn into the story and imagined that I was part of the action. There's a great deal of suspense and it's extremely realistic the way the plot folds out. Mark and Emily have great chemistry together and I enjoyed seeing them reunite and rebuild that old flame. While this book is the second in the series, there's so much to just this story alone that it can be read as a stand alone. I think that these stories would be great as a TV show. The characters have wonderful depth with wonderful chemistry, the action and suspense sequences are fast paced and realistic and the storyline as a whole is tight and well written.

While I enjoyed this book very much, I actually preferred the first book to this one. This was purely because I had enjoyed the international setting and the ripped from the headlines storyline from the first book. Also I felt that there was a bit more romance than suspense in this book, unlike the first one. One thing I did especially like was the fact that Mark and Emily have a history together. I get tired of reading romantic suspense books where the two leads meet for the first time in the beginning of the book and by the end of the story, they are practically engaged, even though they have known each other for only two months. This relationship however is more realistic as they already know each other and are reuniting. For some reason, I've always enjoyed reading stories about people who are against any form of psychology or therapy because they believe it is evil and not of God. It just really baffles me how people think this, so books like this always are interesting to read as they try to put a spin on things.

This is a fantastic series and I'm really impressed with the writing and the suspense sequences. I didn't even know the Hostage Rescue Team existed before this series so I'm really glad there is so much detail about them here. The research again in this book is outstanding and it makes the story authentic and realistic. As I've said before, I believe this is the best romantic suspense series I have ever read. I will be looking forward to when the third book comes out.

An Eye for An Eye by Irene Hannon is published by Revell (2009)

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Imperfect Christmas

Abingdon Press (September 2009)

by

Myra Johnson



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Making up stories has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. A select group of trusted friends back at dear old Mission High waited eagerly for the next installment of my "Great American Spy Novel" (think Man from Uncle) and my "All-American Teen Novel" (remember Gidget and Tammy?). I even had a private notebook of angst-ridden poetry a la Rod McKuen.

The dream of writing persisted into adulthood, although it often remained on the back burner while I attended to home and family and several "real" (read paying) jobs along the way. Then in 1983, while recovering from sinus surgery, I came upon one of those magazine ads for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I knew it was time to get serious, and the next thing I knew, I'd enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teenagers” course.

Within a year or so I sold my first story, which appeared in the Christian publication Alive! for Young Teens. For many years I enjoyed success writing stories and articles for middle-graders and young adults. I even taught for ICL for 9 years.

Then my girls grew up, and there went my live-in inspiration. Time to switch gears. I began my first women's fiction manuscript and started attending Christian writers conferences. Eventually I learned about American Christian Romance Writers (which later became American Christian Fiction Writers) and couldn't wait to get involved. Friends in ACFW led me to RWA and the online inspirational chapter, Faith, Hope & Love.

So here I am today, still on this crazy roller-coaster ride. Still writing. Still hopeful. Writing, I'm learning, is not about the destination, it's about the journey. My current projects are primarily women's fiction and romance . . . novels of hope, love, and encouragement. Novels about real women living out their faith and finding love in the midst of everyday, and sometimes not so everyday, situations.


ABOUT THE BOOK


Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Imperfect Christmas, go HERE


Watch the trailer:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Triple Threat

It's here! Today is my 3 year blogiversary! (Never mind that the first entry is marked on 9/20, I had written that post the day after and then backdated it). I can't believe that I'm still here and blogging away! As always, the reason why I started blogging was thanks to Camy Tang's blog which inspired me to write my own blog. My main goal was to blog about the books I read because I figured I'd like others to know about the good books that were out there. I honestly can't believe that it's lasted this long and I hope to keep going strong. I've met so many new friends in the past year alone and I've even gotten to meet several in person and I'm going to meet more next week at the National Book Festival!

I'd also like to say thank you to those who nominated me for Best Cultural Review Blog for the 2009 BBAW Awards. It's truly been an honor that you considered me for that award and even more awesome that I made the shortlist! I've started to branch out in the past year from doing strictly Christian fiction reviews and it's paid off!

As of today I have written 400 book reviews, 68 movie reviews, had 8 author interviews and had 122 contests. When I first started my blog I had a mere 300 books. As of today I have a whopping 2163 books in my collection. Last year I had 1498. That's an accumulation of 665 books in one year! At this rate, if I live to be 90 I'll have over 40,000 books. Oh well I can dream can't I?

Now I wouldn't be where I was today without you guys. Sure I could keep blogging, but if I didn't r
eceive comments or emails, blogging would be really lonely. You guys have kept me going and it always brightens my day when I hear someone tell me they were inspired to read/buy a book because I reviewed it on my blog. I'm always geeked to hear someone say that they never would have found out about a book if they hadn't seen it on my blog

And since it's my THREE year anniversary, I'm giving away T
HREE prize packages!!! As you know, I read and feature three genres on this blog: Christian fiction, YA and chick lit.

The first prize package is a Christian fiction package. This prize is ope
n to US addresses only.

  • The End is Now by Rob Stennett (ARC)
  • Angel Fall by Coleman Luck (ARC)
  • Saints in Limbo by River Jordan (ARC)
  • Seeing Things by Patti Hill (ARC)
  • Guardian of the Flame by T.L. Higley (ARC)
  • On the Right Path by Diann Hunt
The second prize package is a YA package. This prize is open to US and Canada addresses. Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Books for providing this package.

Books 1-5 in the All About Us Series by Shelley Adina
  • It's All About US
  • The Fruit of My Lipstick
  • Be Strong and Curvaceous
  • Who Made You a Princess?
  • Tidings of Great Boys
AND

Books 1-3 in the Miracle Girls series by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
  • The Miracle Girls
  • Breaking Up is Hard to Do
  • With a Little Help from My Friends
The third prize package is a chick lit package. This prize is open to US and Canada addresses. Thanks to Miriam at Hachette for providing this prize.

  • Hollywood is Like High School With Money by Zoey Dean
  • Damas, Dramas and Ana Ruiz by Belinda Acosta
  • Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp by Lauren Lipton
  • Italian for Beginners by Kristin Hamel
  • Love and other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas
  • Fifty is not a Four Letter Word by Linda Kelsey
  • Easy on the Eyes by Jane Porter
To enter you must leave a comment with your email address and answer the following 2 questions:

A) Which prize package you would like to win (please state Christian fiction, YA or Chick lit, you may enter for as many as you want)
AND
B) If you have been a reader of my blog, what has been your favorite book review
OR
C) If you are new to my blog, knowing the genres I read (Christian fiction, YA and chick lit), what book do you recommend for me?

You MUST answer BOTH these questions to be entered. Entries without answers to BOTH questions will NOT be entered and will be deleted. I'll pick 3 names and announce the winners on Monday, October 5
. Good luck and thank you again!!!!!

PLEASE LEAVE A WAY FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU!!!!

ENTRIES WITHOUT CONTACT INFO WILL NOT BE ENTERED.