Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Malacca Conspiracy by Don Brown

Book description:

Set in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the United States, The Malacca Conspiracy is a bone-chilling tale of terrorism on the high seas, of political assassination and nuclear brinkmanship. And for Zack and Diane—your favorite JAG characters from Don Brown’s popular Navy Justice Series—a story of hope for a longstanding romance that is now or never.



When a dastardly plot is hatched in the Malaysian seaport of Malacca to attack civilian oil tankers at sea, to drive up the price of crude oil futures, and to assassinate the Indonesian president and use fat windfall profits to finance a nuclear attack against American cities, Navy JAG officers Zack Brewer and Diane Cocernian reunite in a sizzling race against the clock to foil the conspiracy before disaster strikes.


But as President Mack Williams sends ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet towards the Malacca Straights to reassert control over the sea lanes, will Navy JAG officers Zack Brewer and Diane Colcernian survive this dangerous and final high-stakes drama of life and death?


You won’t be able to put this thriller down until you find out.

My review:

Great book, the type that is right up my alley: suspense, a lot of action, very pro-military and pro-American.

This book is not part of Brown's Naval Justice Series, but contains the hero and heroine of those books, Zack Brewer and Diane Cocernian, whose relationship finally gets resolved in this book.

This book had a great, but scary plot. There is a takeover of Indonesia by radical Muslims, who then make unreasonable demands on the USA. There is a lot of action going on in different places, and the book bounces around a lot, but it is easy to keep up as the author always states the where and time of what is going on.

I started reading this book on Monday when it came in the mail, and also finished it Monday. It was an awesome read, and not only was I pulled into the story by the action and suspense, but also by the realization that the things in the book could happen - a scary, but true fact. This is one of those books where bad things happen, but also good.

I have been impressed with all of Don Brown's books. As a former JAG officer, I feel he presents a realistic look at what goes on in the Navy and also in the realm of JAG, yet he keeps a strong Christian element in his book, and there are no bad language issues in his books.

His books are probably more something men would enjoy, but any woman who enjoys military action novels will enjoy them.

And one last note: although two characters from his series are in this book, and reference is made to previous actions of theirs, this book could be read without reading the series.

A very highly recommended book.

About the author:


Don Brown is the author of Treason, Hostage, and Defiance, and Black Sea Affair, a submarine thriller that predicted the 2008 shooting war between Russia and Georgia. Don served five years in the U.S. Navy as an officer in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps gave him an exceptional vantage point into both the Navy and the inner workings of "inside-the-beltway" as an action officer assigned to the pentagon. He left active duty in 1992 to pursue private practice, but remained on inactive status through 1999, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He and his family live in North Carolina, where he pursues his passion for penning novels about the Navy.


The Malacca Conspiracy is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.








Monday, June 28, 2010

Simple Secrets by Nancy Mehl


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Simple Secrets
Barbour Books (June 1, 2010)



by



Nancy Mehl






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her son, Danny. She’s authored nine books and is currently at work on her newest series for Barbour Publishing.



All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”



CREATING FICTION FULL OF FAITH, HOPE AND HEART…



Nancy Mehl is a mystery writer who loves to set her novels in her home state of Kansas. Her three-in-one book, COZY IN KANSAS, contains the first three Ivy Towers’s mysteries: IN THE DEAD OF WINTER, BYE BYE BERTIE, and FOR WHOM THE WEDDING BELL TOLLS which was nominated for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award in mystery.



She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Graphic designer Gracie Temple wants it all: the big city lifestyle and a successful job in advertising. And it looks like her life is on the right track when she takes a job at a struggling, midsize firm in Wichita.



But Gracie Temple's uncle left her a house in a rural Mennonite community. She soon learns he secluded himself for years to protect a secret about her own father. Now it's up to Gracie to decide if she'll keep the secret or if she can afford to expose it.



Sam Goodrich loves his fruit farm in Harmony, Kansas. But when he meets city-girl Gracie, he begins to wonder if he could leave it behind for a woman who makes him feel things he's never felt before.



When someone tries to keep Gracie from discovering the truth behind the town's collection of secrets, will Sam and Gracie cling to their faith to help them decide what's most important...before it's too late?



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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury

Book description:

Karen Kingsbury’s celebrated series that shows the depth, passion and power of marriage.


A Time to Dance - John and Abby were the perfect couple with the perfect family. But on the verge of an affair, John is no more the man Abby married than she is the bride of his dreams. So they decide to divorce. But when they gather their children to tell them the news, their daughter announces she’s getting married.

Determined not to ruin Nicole's happiness, Abby and John agree to postpone their divorce. But as the wedding nears, they wonder: is it possible to still find joy and perhaps the time…to dance?

My review:
 
Though I am a guy, I am a huge fan of Karen Kingsbury's books. Not only can she write an awesome story  that will tug at your heart, she takes on issues in her books and addresses them through the medium of fiction.  This is one such book.
 
I read this when it first came out, back in 2001, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I decided to grab it and review it. In this book, Karen really nails the issue of staying in a marriage "for better or for worse". It starts out with the couple, John and Abby, on the brink of a divorce, but due to their daughter's engagement announcement coupled with her spoken desire to have a marriage just like her parents, they decide they cannot announce their intentions at that time. Thus begins weeks of striving to make their marriage work, but along the way, they start to examine what went wrong in their marriage and wonder if it might be able to be fixed after all.
 
I consider this book, and its sequel, to be among Karen's best works. In this day of so many divorcing for the smallest reasons, and couples not trying to work things out - even in the church - it is refreshing to read a book that encourages couples to stick with it, to work out their problems, and stay together, as God intended. A very highly recommended book.
 

About the author:
 
USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s #1 inspirational novelist. There are more than 15 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including several million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 40 novels, ten of which have hit #1 on national lists.


Karen has a true love for her readers, and she has nearly 100,000 friends on Facebook along with more than 7,500 followers on Twitter. The popular social networking sites have allowed Karen daily interaction with her reader friends.

Karen is best known for her Life-Changing Fiction (TM) and for creating unforgettable characters. When speaking before women's groups - some with more than 10,000 in attendance - Karen makes audiences laugh and cry with her compelling story-telling. She likes to tell attendees they have, "One chance to write the story of their lives," and her talk focuses on reminding women to live every day loving well, laughing often, and finding true life in Jesus Christ. Karen routinely speaks before more than 100,000 women each year.

Karen is also a public speaker, reaching more than 100,000 women annually through various national events. Karen and her husband, Don, live in the Pacific Northwest with their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.



A Time to Dance is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nightshade by Ronie Kendig..... and an Author Provided Giveaway, updated with added content

                                  (First chapter and book trailer added)
Book description:

After a tour of duty in a war-torn country, embattled former Navy SEAL Max Jacobs finds himself discarded and alienated from those he loves as he struggles with war-related PTSD. His wife, Sydney, files a restraining order against him, and a petition for divorce. Max is devastated.



Then a mysterious a man appears. He says he’s organizing a group that recycles veterans like Max. It’s a deep-six group known as Nightshade. With the chance to find purpose in life once again, Max is unable to resist the call of duty and signs on.


The team handles everything with precision and lethal skill—until they’re called upon to rescue a missionary family, and avoid a reporter hunting their identities. When the team effects the rescue, their paths collide with the reporter—Max’s wife. As they sneak through the rebel-infested jungle something about the missionary couple speaks to Max—and re-awakens the love for his wife.


Will Max yield his pride and anger? Can they escape the jungle before it’s too late?

My review:

I got to read and review Ronie's first book, Dead Reckoning, back in March. (Review here.) It was an awesome read, so I was looking forward to reading more from her, and here it is. Nightshade, the first in a series of four books, The Discarded Heroes Series.

This book easily launched into my "read-in-one-sitting" rating. I started reading it last night a little after 9, and finished it around 11:30, pausing only to chat briefly on the phone and use the "little men's room." What a totally awesome read! When an author writes a really great debut novel, you wonder if they can follow up. In addition, no offense to any publishing company, but when the second novel is with a different publisher, at least I have to wonder the same. Well, no worries. She topped her first book.

This book isn't necessarily mystery/suspense in the same vein as her first, but there is a lot of action and suspense. Military stuff, special black ops. All that. And since the author was a "military brat",  she knows her stuff.

So, what did I like about the book? Everything. :-) Definitely the action/suspense. The characters...... she paints a great picture of Max, a soldier who fought for our country, now fighting a different kind of battle - post traumatic syndrome. One that he is losing, one that is destroying him and has already destroyed his marriage. Then there is Sydney, his wife. A reporter who is determined to hunt down a story about this secret special ops group, having no idea her estranged husband is in it. And of course, the rest of the men in Nightshade, the name for this special black ops group of soldiers.

There are no curse words in the book, just a few slang, and there is a definite Christian element, as Max battles his personal demons and is forced to realize where he needs to go for help.

This truly was an entertaining read, and also informative. It gives a good look at PTSD, and also at how black ops works. I have to admit I was rooting for the romance part too - hoping Max and Sydney would patch their marriage together, and more than once had to talk myself out of looking at the end of the book to find out. So do they? Read the book and find out. They just might...... or the author may plan that for the next book. :-)

And in closing, this is one of those books that I just can't say enough good about - a very excellent read, and I am looking forward to more in this series.


Audience:
This is definitely a book that men will enjoy, but also women. So ladies, don't be turned away by talk of soldiers and special ops - you will enjoy the book also. And a side note: I have read similar books written by men, which were great, and I enjoyed them, but this was an easier read, and in my opinion, tops those.

About the author: (from her website)

"Thank you for taking the time to read more about *moi*.


You've come to this page to learn about me, so let's see what juicy details I can give you without jeopardizing myself. *g* I have several aspects to my personality (hey, I was a psychology major--it was bound to happen!):

The Christian - All of the other aspects of my life are grounded in my faith. Without the mercy and peace of God, none of the others would have or could have happened. I'm a product of growing in grace, and having the benefits of His healing mercy in my life after a rough childhood. My heart goes out to those who are hurting and searching. You are my reason for writing (besides obeying God's will LOL). I've been there.

I've been through grief, abuse, and then faced the difficult journey of restoration and reconciliation.

For me, my faith is not a religion. It's an every-second relationship, where I make decisions,
and those decisions will decide whether I am honoring Him with my life or not.

Now, that doesn't mean I'm infallible. Ask my husband. But I try.

The Wife - I've been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero.
No kidding. He's just that amazing.Brian graduated from his seventeen-year track plan in college with a 4.0. Now he's aiming for the FBI. Go, dude! My husband helps me in my writing by reading the chapters for military/tactical authenticity, and he's the one I go to for political and historical content review. Brian is also the one who helps me flesh out stronger plot points. I definitely could NOT do this without him and his belief in me! I know if I can get my story past Brian, then I can (most likely) get it past my agent.

The Mother - Okay, so maybe I did these personalities out of order--but with four kids, chaos like that just sort of happens. :-D I have four beautiful children. My eldest daughter will be 15 this year, my second daughter will be 12, and my twin boys are 8. I've been blessed and challenged to no end with my children. My twins have tendencies toward Asperger's Syndrome, and one has been diagnosed with ADHD.

The Writer - This is a challenging part of my life. Sixteen years ago when my husband suggested I write for publication, I refused to entertain the idea. I told him it would remove the pleasure I got out of writing. And sure enough, when I became consumed with publication, I lost my joy. So God led me through a series of experiences--excruciating ones, if I do say so myself--that forced me to grow up or give up. :-D

I'm not a quitter.

I grew up. Got serious about writing, and man! Writing got hard. But I love writing more now than I ever have. Part of becoming a better writer involved joining the American Christian Fiction Writers.

This is the most amazing group of people who are loving and encouraging. Visit the ACFW
and consider becoming a member if you are a writer.

In February 2007, I signed with my "dream" agent (miracles can and DO happen!), Steve Laube.

The Student - Ever met one of those amazing people who aced college in like two-point-five years? Me neither. And you won't meet that person here. I took the seventeen-year track (oops!). After having four children, I finally finished my degree in December 2006. I now have a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting my degree is a huge triumph for both me and my family--we survived!! This degree has also given me a fabulous perspective on my characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation."

Check out her website. It is rather intriguing, and has bullet holes to click to get around. Cool. :-) And there is more info about The Discarded Heroes Series, so check that out.

The Giveaway:

Ronie has graciously agreed to give away and autographed copy of her book, Nightshade, to one lucky person. Comment on this post and to make it a bit more interesting than just "enter me", tell if you have a loved one in the military - and if you entered the military, what branch would it be.

I will draw a winner 10 days from today on July 1. The author will mail the book out to the winning person.

Thanks to Barbour Books for the review copy, and thanks to Ronie Kendig for writing such a great story and for doing the giveaway.



First chapter:

Cracking open the throttle ignited a wild explosion of power and speed. Zero to sixty in less than three seconds left Max Jacobs breathless. Gut pressed to the spine of his Hayabusa, he bore down the mountainous two-lane road away from civilization, away from . . . everything. Here only pine trees, concrete and speed were his friends.


His bike screamed as it ate up the road. The thrill burst through him. He needed the rush. Craved it. Stop running, Max. Her words stabbed his conscience. Made him mad.

Rounding a bend, he slowed and sighted the drop-off in the road—remembered a full 10% grade, straight down. His gaze bounced between the speedometer and the cement. Common sense told him to decelerate. The boiling in his veins said otherwise.

He twisted the throttle.

Eighty.

Max leaned into the bike and felt the surge.

Ninety.

He sucked in a breath as he sped toward the break.

The road dropped off. The Hayabusa roared as the wheels sailed out. He tried to grip the handlebars tighter as nothing but tingling Virginia oxygen enveloped him. Silence gaped.

This could be it. This could end it all. No more pain. No more life without Syd . . .

Take me. Just take me.

The Hayabusa plummeted.

Straight down. Concrete. Like a meteor slamming to earth.

The back tire hit. A jolt shot through the bike. Then the front tire bounced. Rattling carried through the handlebars and into his shoulders. He grabbed the brake—

Stupid! The brake locked. Rear tire went right. He tried to steer into the skid but momentum flipped him up. Over. Pops snapped through his back as he spiraled through the air. In the chaos his bike gave chase, kicking and screaming as it tore after him.

Crack! Pop! The sound of his crashing bike reverberated through the lonely country lane. Scenery whirled. Pine trees whipped into a Christmas-color frosting. Tree bark blurred into a menagerie of browns, drawing closer and closer.

Thud! His head bounced off the cement. He flipped again.

Finally. It’d be over. He closed his eyes. No more—

THUD! “Oof.” The breath knocked from his lungs. Pain spiked his shoulders and spine. Fire lit across his limbs and back as he slid from one lane to another. Down the road, spinning. Straight toward the trees.

He winced, arched his back. Kicking, he tried to gain traction. If he wasn’t going to die, he didn’t want to end up paralyzed. Just like you not to think it through.

He dumped into a ditch.

Smack!

Everything went black.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Chasing Lilacs
FaithWords (June 17, 2010)
by



Carla Stewart






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. She believed in Jesus, the power of the written word, and a good cup of coffee. She's a country girl living now in a mid-sized city with her engineering husband who just happens to be her best friend and biggest fan.She and her husband have four adult sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren.



FROM CARLA:



I grew up in the Texas Panhandle with two younger sisters and loving parents. Small town school. Great neighbors. Today, those small-town, fundamental things resonate within me -- the twang in people's voices, the art of being neighborly and just being a decent human being.



Growing up, I preferred the company of books over TV and playing outdoors. I imagined myself in many different careers, but given my down-to-earth raising, I settled on nursing. I didn't faint at the sight of blood and did well in science, so it seemed a natural choice.



I worked as a registered nurse off and on through the years, but primarily I stayed home with my four rambunctious boys and dreamed of the day when I could write the novels I loved to read. When our youngest son was in high school, I quit my job as a nursing instructor and settled in to pen my first novel. It's been quite a journey. One I wouldn't trade for anything.



I'm committed to writing the stories of my heart and am truly thankful to Jesus, my Savior, for allowing me this freedom. May all the glory be His.



Chasing Lilacs is her first book!





ABOUT THE BOOK



It is the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for twelve-year-old Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.



When her mother commits suicide and a not-so-favorite aunt arrives, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious kid from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.



Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.



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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Buying a Christian book - whose fault is it?

Some of the places I review for ask for a review to also be put on a site that sells books. i.e. Amazon. As I have done this, I have run across an interesting phenomenon: people who either bought a Christian fiction book, or downloaded one - usually for free - and didn't realize it was a Christian book. Some of these people leave a nasty and negative review, and harp about the fact that Amazon should have been more plain about the fact that it was a Christian book.

Here is my opinion - yeah, I have one. Big shock? :-) If I were buying a book - or downloading it for free, and was not familiar with the author, I would research them. Find out more about them, what kind of reviews their books got. And surely by doing so, you would discover that fact. So, I think it is the fault of the reader for not finding out more about the book/author.

What do you think? Should Amazon do a better job of labeling Christian fiction, or is it the fault of the person buying the book. And does it give the person the right to post a negative review because they got a Christian book?

The Witness by Josh McDowell

Book description:

From Monte Carlo to Morocco to Egypt and into Petra, Marwan Accad is pursued by authorities for murders he did not commit. Tracked by advanced intelligence-surveillance technology, his every location is eventually found out, thrusting those he loves into danger. Nurtured by a bitter past that equipped him with what he needed for his company to thrive, Marwan Accad never looks back. Yet the way forward promises only uncertainty, and living each day is a lie in which corruption and greed play in the lives of man. For whose lie is he going through all of this? Even as Marwan races against time to find his pursuers and their motives, he must grapple with what is beyond his life, with what is eternal.

My review:

Josh McDowell has written mostly non-fiction books, with just a few fiction novels under his belt. This, I believe his third fiction novel, is by far his best, in my opinion.

The book doesn't take long to launch into the action. It starts off with a murder/attack, and just keeps getting more intense with the suspense and action. It is definitely one of the "read-in-one-sitting" novels, and so I did read it in one sitting, and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

The main character is not a Christian and leads quite a violent and wild life. McDowell uses conversations between he and others to put some of what he is best known for into the book - apologetics. And what better way to do it than in a story.

I loved the book. As I read it, I was drawn more and more into the story, and felt sympathy for the hero of the story, framed for murders he did not commit, and running for his life. Though he engaged in some sinful activities, the author does not give the idea that he approves of the activities, but instead gives the idea of what a life without Christ can be like.

The book is very fast-paced, and takes the reader all over the globe. I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a good suspense/action novel.

Read the first chapter here.

About the author:

Since beginning ministry in 1961, Josh has given more than 24,000 talks to over 10 million young people in 118 countries. He is the author or coauthor of 112 books, selling over 51 million copies worldwide, including More Than a Carpenter (more than 15 million copies in print worldwide), which has been translated into over 85 languages, and The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, recognized by World magazine as one of the twentieth century's top 40 books.


Josh continues to travel throughout the United States and countries around the world, helping young people and adults bolster their faith and scriptural beliefs. Josh will tell you that his family does not come before his ministry—his family is his ministry. He and his wife, Dottie, have four children and three grandchildren.

The Witness is available from Tyndale Publishing
 
Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy, which was given to me for the purpose of reviewing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A new blog label

Occasionally, I make reference in a book review that the book was so good, that I read it in one sitting - aside from restroom and drink breaks. A while back, someone commented and sugegsted that I make that one of my blog labels so people can see what books I liked the best, so I took the suggestion, and went back and added it to all the books that I would put in that category. Hopefully, I didn't miss any. Thanks to Annette for the idea. :-)

Rediscovering a Hurting Church

A guy whose blog I follow did a great post that goes along great with some I have done in the last few months - Rediscovering a Hurting Church. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fatal Loyalty by Sue Duffy

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:

Kregel Publications (April 23, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cat Hoort of Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. Her first novel Mortal Wounds was published in 2001 and she has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (April 23, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825425948
ISBN-13: 978-0825425943

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

In an instant, his world collapsed, and no one knew it but him. The giddy chatter of students rushing to and from the cafeteria swirled about him as he felt blindly for something to lean against.

Eyes locked on the overhead television screen, Evan Markham backed slowly toward a post in the crowded student union. Just moments ago, he’d been one of them, a Florida State student preparing for exams and the long-awaited summer break. But what he’d just heard ended it all.

He had only glanced at the News at Noon anchorwoman with the glossy lips as he hurried to class. He caught something about a shootout in Tampa, but kept going. As he reached the door, though, he heard a name that stopped him cold.

“. . . Leo Francini.”

Evan turned suddenly and stared at the screen as the woman switched the broadcast to an on-the-scene reporter. A cold sweat sprang from his brow as he moved quickly toward others gathering before the monitor.

“This quiet residential street in Tampa was the scene today of a bloody standoff between FBI agents and members of a drug cartel run by Miami racketeer Leo Francini,” the somber-faced young man announced. “Before the violence ended about nine o’clock this morning, two FBI agents and Francini’s son, Donnie Francini, were killed. It is believed that Leo Francini was in the area, though not involved in the shootout. An intense manhunt by the FBI and local police is now underway. A house-to-house search is being conducted in . . .”

Steadying himself against the post, Evan turned to see if anyone was watching him. How could they know? No one knows.

Then another name caught him.

“Florida Attorney General Tony Ryborg, visibly shaken by the deaths of the two FBI agents, just moments ago issued what he calls an iron-clad promise to the people of this state, saying, ‘Leo Francini will be brought to justice and pay the severest penalty for these deaths.’”

Two hours later, Evan was packed and ready to leave. For where, he didn’t yet know. He’d removed all his belongings from the apartment and left a note for his roommate, whom he hardly knew. He hadn’t allowed himself to get close to many people, switching roommates often during the three years he’d been enrolled. Still, the guy deserved an apology for the sudden departure.

Evan returned to the student union to close his checking account and put a hold on his mail, evading inquiries about why he would do so before final exams.

As he left the building, he saw her. As usual, she didn’t notice him. Andie Ryborg seemed as absorbed in a private world as he was. Only hers hadn’t just ended in a gunfight.

One last time, he hung back and watched her. Dark hair fell loosely about her face as she sketched beneath a tree, focused on the gurgling fountain in the center of the green.

They’ll find you. Get away!

My review:

Christian suspense/mystery - my very favorite genre' to read - and this was a good one. Sue Duffy was a new author for me, and I am impressed - enough that I'm going to try to find her other book she wrote.

What did I like about the book? Everything. Had an excellent plot, with a few surprises along the way. No one was as they appeared, which made the book all the more interesting. The characters... loved them - especially Evan - I can't say why, as that would be giving "spoilers". The suspense and action - awesome. I have read books more suspenseful, but this was just right. And it was one of those "read in one sitting" books I talk about - I did read it in one sitting - allowing for bathroom breaks, drink of water - etc.

What else did I like? The language. It is completely possible to write an excellent suspense/mystery novel without throwing in inappropriate language - and this author shows it is possible.

What didn't I like? Hmm - can't come up with anything - though it went too fast. :-)

Kregel is not one of the major producers of Christian fiction, but they have put some excellent ones out lately - and this stands among the best. A highly recommended read.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hellfire and brimstone preachers......... good, or harmful

If you're not familiar with the term, it is someone who preaches firey messages full of what will happen to people if they don't go to the altar, usually ending with a long altar call and scary stories about people who stood through similar altar calls and did not go, only to be hit by a bus and killed upon exiting the church. Ok, that last part was exaggeration, but you get the point.

I've admitted it before..... I have struggled as far back as I can rememeber, to truly believe that God loves me. Many have been the times that I thought that I did, but then I'd have the rug pulled out from under me, and the doubts would come flooding in again. "If God loved me then why......" - and so forth.

There are several factors that have played into this issue, and I was thinking about this one, so I decided to blog about it and see if anyone wants to comment about it. I think one factor is being "scared" into going to the altar so much as a teenager/young adult.

Young people are often up and down a lot spiritually - struggling with becoming an adult, and having struggles wih varying issues. So in that regard, I was a typical teenager growing up in an evangelical church. One month doing all I knew to do to live as a Christian, and the next having stumbled and fallen - and giving up.

And then would come revival services or campmeetings. The preacher would preach a stirring message on hell or something along that line, and as I said before, end with a long altar call complete with the "scary story" about someone who didn't go to the altar on one such occasion, and the next day, or later that week or month - was killed in a tragic accident. Or even better..... make the announcement that  for someone sitting in this very service, it would be their last oppurtunity to get right with God.

So, time after time being in that kind of servce, knowing I wasn't where I needed to be, I would be scared into going to the altar. Looking back, I wonder how many times I actually went because I felt conviced by God, and how many times I went because of emotion - the emotion of fear. Emotions are strong - and arousing fear in someone can get them to do a lot of things - like going to the altar.

The argument could be made that if sinners go to the altar, it shouldn't matter what methods are used to get them there - and there may be some truth to that. But...... if people are scared into going to the altar, and don't go because they want to, and out of a desire to do what is right - are they going to actually become a Christian - and live a Christian life? I know in my case, I usually "fell off the wagon" the next day, week, or month. And I saw people who were outright sinners be scared or talked into going to the altar - and so many of them didn't last. The experience they got at the altar was simply a band-aid, put on because they were scared into going to the altar.

Now, don't get me wrong - I don't think hell is talked about enough - what it is like, and the reality of it. It is more than a curse word appearing in Christian fiction books - and other places. (sorry, had to slip that in!)

But.... does it do any good to scare people to the altar? And when they are scared into going to the altar, will they truly get the salvation experience, and will they last? And.... is there a danger of giving people the wrong view of God - that He is a vengeful and hateful God just waiting to cast people into hell?

The opposite view can also be damaging.... to so portray God as love that the view of a God of wrath is not shown, and people view Him as a loving doting grandfather - so a balance is needed.

So - comments anyone?

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



A Tailor-Made Bride



Bethany House (June 1, 2010)



by



Karen Witemeyer



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife and mother of three who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid-to-late 1800s.

In January, 2009, Karen signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers for three inspirational historical romance novels, and she is thrilled to announce that her first book, A TAILOR-MADE BRIDE has released this month. For an inside look into the background and quirks of some of the major players in this upcoming story, click over to Character Corner

ABOUT THE BOOK


When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have foreseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Tailor-Made Bride , go HERE.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Homecoming by Dan Walsh

A reluctant war hero returns home and encounters a new chance at love.


No sooner has Shawn Collins returned home from the fighting in Europe than he is called upon to serve his country in another way--as a speaker on the war bond tour. While other men might jump at the chance to travel around the country with attractive Hollywood starlets, Shawn just wants to stay home with his son Patrick and his aging father, and grieve the loss of his wife in private. When Shawn asks Katherine Townsend to be Patrick's nanny while he's on the road, he has no idea how this decision will impact his life. Could it be the key to his future happiness and the mending of his heart? Or will the war once again threaten his chances for a new start?


Dan Walsh does not disappoint in this tender story of family ties and the healing of a broken heart.

My review:

This book is a sequel to Walsh's first book, The Unifinished Gift, a Christmas novel, and possibly the best Christmas novel I have ever read. This book, The Homecoming, takes up where the first book left off, and though it is an excellent read, I did like the first better, but I am parital to Christmas books.

Walsh takes a page from Karen Kingsbury, who is known for righting an emotional story that grips your heart and makes you a bit misty-eyed, or outright cry. In this book, the widowed father has come back from the military and wants time to grive and spend time with his little boy, but the US military has other ideas. Walsh does a great job portraying the anguish of a father wanting to stay with his little boy, but duty-bound to obey his superiors.

There is some military action in the book - World War II is going on - which adds to the book and made it even more interesting and enjoyable. Also some romance.

I had one disappointment with the book. I do not partake of alcoholic beverages, and don't believe Christians should - I've heard all of the arguments, and I'm not out to argue about it in a book review - but when there are still a lot of Christians who feel the same way, I do wish authors would leave the consumption of alcohol by Christians out of their books - but that is my only gripe with the book. It is an excellent read, and Dan Walsh has a running head start to being an accomplished author in the Christian fiction market. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

About the author:

Dan Walsh is the author of The Unfinished Gift and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. He is a pastor and lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.



Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.




Friday, June 11, 2010

We All Came to the Cross - video added

Updated - I made a video of the song - nothing exciting video-wise, just used the album cover, but now you can listen to the song.

A new song I really like on a CD by the Southern Gospel group called "Sisters" - and yes, the three women are sisters. Unfortunately, there is no video of the song on line anywhere, but you can preview the song on the album, Healer of My Heart on their website, here.

We All Came to the Cross by Kenna West, Lee Black, and Tony Wood

Verse 1
Some came with stories
Of shame and regret
Others from places we've prayed to forget
Some from the ruins of lives that we've made
But we each had a moment when we cried out for grace

Chorus
And somehow we all found our way
A thousand winding roads
But they led to one place
So many different stories
Of life when we were lost
Yet somehow
We all came to the Cross

Verse 2
Some came from homes where His Word was read
Others from places His name wasn't said
Some bowed the first time He whispered their name
Others ran for a while
But in the end, just the same

Bridge
Some whose sins were many
Some whose sins were few
We fell down on common ground

Seeds of Summer by Deborah Vogts


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Seeds of Summer
Zondervan (May 25, 2010)



by



Deborah Vogts
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A word from Deborah:



If you haven't guessed by now, the books I write are set in the country. I believe my most dedicated readers will be those who live in the country, those who have moved from the country and still hold it in their hearts, or those who have never lived there but long for the simple life it offers. Because of this, I've chosen Country at Heart as my writing brand, which is also the title of my Blog.

On Writing: http://deborahvogts.blogspot.com/

I began my first book when I was in high school. In college I studied English literature and journalism. Then came marriage, kids . . . life. During that time, I piddled with my writing but didn't take it seriously until 2002 when I joined a local writer's group and American Christian Fiction Writers. I also joined a critique group, took online writing workshops, read writing book how-to's and attended writer's conferences. Now I have an agent, Rachelle Gardner, at WordServe Literary and have been contracted with Zondervan for a three-book contemporary romance series.

The Seasons of the Tallgrass series captures the spirit and dreams of ordinary people living in the Flint Hills of Kansas--one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world.

The first book, Snow Melts in Spring, is available in stores now. Seeds of Summer released May 2010.

ABOUT THE BOOK



When opposites attract, sparks fly--like an electrical malfunction. That's what happens when former rodeo queen, Natalie Adams meets the new pastor in Diamond Falls.



Upon the death of her father, Natalie returns to the Flint Hills to raise her two half-siblings and run the family ranch, giving up her dreams for the future. She soon realizes her time in college and as Miss Rodeo Kansas is not enough to break the bonds that held her as a girl.



Jared Logan, a new pastor in Diamond Falls, is set on making a good impression to his first congregation, but finds that change doesn't come easy for some people. In fact, most in his congregation are set against it. Natalie and her troubled family provide an outlet for his energy and soon become his personal mission project.

Having raised her stepbrother and sister from an early youth, Natalie's self-sufficient nature isn't inclined to accept help, especially from a city-boy do-gooder like Jared Logen. Though attracted to him, there's no way she'd ever consider being a pastor's wife. Bible studies and bake sales just aren't her thing.

Jared repeatedly comes to Natalie's rescue, forcing her to see him with new eyes. At the same time, Jared's plan to plant Christ's word in Natalie's heart backfires when he loses his own heart to this wayward family. When problems arise in his congregation, he must face his greatest fears---of letting down God, his congregation, or those he loves. His time with Natalie has shown him the importance of standing by those you love, a lesson he chose to ignore in order to please his father years ago.
This is put to the test when Natalie faces a battle of custody of her half-siblings against the mother who abandoned them twelve years ago. Natalie's fight for the children turns into a fight for custody of her heart as she learns the true meaning of unconditional love. In turn, Jared must decide which dreams are his own---and whether Natalie is part of those dreams.


If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Seeds of Summer, go

HERE.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sins of the Mother by Victoria Christopher Murray

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:

Touchstone; Original edition (June 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Mallika Dattatreya and Ashley Hewlett of Touchstone/Fireside Publicity Simon & Schuster, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she tested her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self published Temptation. “I wanted to write a book as entertaining as any book on the market, put God in the middle, and have the book still be a page-turner. I wasn’t writing to any particular genre – I didn’t even know Christian fiction existed. I just wanted to write about people I knew and characters I could relate to.”

In 2000, Time Warner published Temptation. Temptation made numerous best sellers list and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written six other novels: JOY, Truth Be Told, Grown Folks Business, A Sin and a Shame, The Ex Files, and Too Little, Too Late. She was a contributor to the first Christian fiction anthology, Blessed Assurance and the Contributing Editor for the Aspire Women of Color Bible published by Zondervan. All of her novels have continued to be Essence bestsellers. In addition, Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being the pioneer in African American Christian Fiction. In 2008, Victoria won the African American Literary Award for best novel (Too Little, Too Late) and Female Author of the Year.

In 2008, Victoria’s first novels in her Christian fiction teen series - The Divine Divas – were published. “I was concerned with what our young ladies were reading. I decided to do something about that – give them stories full of drama, but with a message.” The Divine Divas has already been optioned to become a television series.

Victoria splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington D.C. In Los Angeles, she attends Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church under the spiritual tutelage of Dr. Beverly “BAM” Crawford and in Washington, D.C., she fellowships at Metropolitan Baptist Church under Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr. She is also a member of the Long Beach Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.00
Paperback: 379 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 141658918X
ISBN-13: 978-1416589181

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


New York, New York November 2009

“Love Mama!”

Jasmine scooped her toddler into her arms. “You do love your mama, don't you?” She laughed.

Mae Frances rolled her eyes as Jasmine smothered her son's cheeks with kisses.

“Don't make no kind of sense, Jasmine Larson,” her best friend said. “Teaching that baby to say that.”

“What's wrong with him loving his mama?” But before Mae Frances could answer, Jasmine stood straight up and scanned the crowd that packed the new mall. In just seconds, her gaze locked on her daughter, crouched in front of the pet store window. “Jacqueline!”

The girl's brown curls bounced when she jumped up, startled, and skipped back to Jasmine and Mae Frances.

With a firm hand, Jasmine grasped her daughter's wrist. “I told you to stay where Nama and I could see you.”

Jacqueline bowed her head. “But Mama,” she sighed, “I could see you.”

“Well, I couldn't see you, so why don't you sit down for a moment and cool off,” Jasmine said as she wiped the thin line of perspiration that dampened her daughter's hairline.

“I'm not hot,” Jacqueline protested. It was the look on her mother's face that made Jacqueline wiggle onto the bench next to Mae Frances. With her eyes on Jasmine, she buried her head on the shoulder of the woman who, years before, had been nothing more than a friend of the family, but was now so close to the Bushes that Jacqueline thought of her as her grandmother. When Mae Frances put her arms around Jacqueline, the girl glared at Jasmine as if she never planned to love her again.

Jasmine shook her head, then her eyes widened when her rambunctious daughter rolled her eyes.

No, she didn't.

Jacqueline had never done that before, and Jasmine opened her mouth to scold her, then just as quickly changed her mind. When her daughter peeked back at her, Jasmine rolled her eyes. Jacqueline giggled, and Jasmine laughed, too. But when Jacqueline moved to get up again, Jasmine stared her back down.

Jacqueline pouted and bounced hard against the back of the bench, but the silent tantrum didn't faze Jasmine. She planned to let her four-year-old (or fourteen-year-old, depending on the day) sit and think about how she'd run off.

“Are you ready to go home?” Mae Frances grumbled.

As Christmas Muzak piped through speakers above, Jasmine realized this trip to the mall wasn't the best idea she'd ever had. But how could she have missed this day?




The new Harlem mall had been open for only two weeks, and this was the first big shopping day of the season; she had to make her own contribution to Black Friday. Now as she looked at Mae Frances and Jacqueline--a set of ornery twins, with their arms folded and their lips poked out--she wished she had thought this all the way through. Because if she had, she would have come alone.

“I wanna go home, too!” Jacqueline exclaimed, as if she was in charge of something.

Looking at her son, Jasmine shook her head. “You don't want to go home, do you, Zaya?” she asked, calling him by the name that Jacqueline had given to him two years ago when he had been born. Hosea had been too difficult for her to say, and no one wanted to call him Junior.

“No, no, no!” Zaya followed his mother's lead before he toddled over to his sister. “Yaki, Yaki, Yaki!” He called her by his own made-up name.

Mae Frances sucked her teeth and tightened the collar of the thirty-five-year-old mink that she loved. “Don't make no kind of sense, the way you manipulate that boy.”

“He's my baby. He's supposed to be manipulated.”

“Get away from me, Zaya!” Jacqueline exclaimed, and pushed the toddler away.

“Don't do that to your brother,” Jasmine scolded.

Jacqueline stood up, put one hand on her side as if she had hips, and, with the other, squeezed her nose. “He! Stinks!”

Jasmine sniffed, then hoisted her son up into her arms. “Your sister's right.” She grabbed the diaper bag from the stroller and reached for Jacqueline's hand. “Come on, we've got to change Zaya's diaper.”

Jacqueline folded her arms and sat back down next to Mae Frances. “I don't wanna go.” With a pout, she pointed toward the pet store. “I wanna see the puppies.”



“We'll see the puppies after,” Jasmine said, still reaching for her daughter.

“Leave her with me.” Mae Frances put her arms around Jacqueline. “No need for her to have to go with you when I'm here.”

Jasmine's hesitation waned after just a moment. “Stay right there next to Nama,” she demanded sternly. “And then we'll go see the puppies, okay?”

Jacqueline nodded as she scooted back on the bench. With wide eyes and an even wider smile, she blew Jasmine a kiss. “I love you, Mama.”

Jasmine laughed. Her precious little girl--always the drama queen.

Inside the restroom, Jasmine twisted through the long line of waiting women, and as she made her way to the changing station, her cell phone rang. But just as she pulled her phone from her bag, it stopped.

She glanced at the screen. “That was your daddy,” she told her son as she laid him on his back.

He giggled and reached for her cell.

“No,” she said, taking it from his grasp.

His laughter stopped. His bottom lip trembled. His body began to shake. And before the first shriek came, the phone was back in Zaya's hands.

“Love Mama,” Zaya cooed as he pushed buttons.

Jasmine laughed. God had blessed her with a drama queen and a drama king.

That thought made her pause in wonder. Who would have ever thought that she--Jasmine Cox Larson Bush--would end up in this place? She--the ex-stripper, ex-man stealer, ex-liar, cheater, thief. The jealous girl who'd done everything she could to sabotage the success of her best friend, Kyla. The unsatisfied wife who'd badgered her first husband until he'd finally left her.



The lonely woman who lived to tear husbands away from their wives. There was hardly a sin that she hadn't committed. But that life, those abominations, were far behind her.

Today, she was a proud wife and mother--the first lady of one of the most influential churches in the city. Today, her life was filled with leisure--it was difficult to call the work she did as first lady and the time she spent with the Young Adults Ministry a job. Today, each of her needs and every one of her desires were met. And she had a Central Park South apartment, a closet full of endless racks of designer clothes, and an upcoming New Year's family vacation in Cannes to prove it.

This life was God's reward for her having turned away from her transgressions. As she glanced at her reflection in the mirror, her lips spread into a slow smile. Bountiful blessings. All she could say was, “Thank you, Father.”

Seconds later, Zaya was back on her hip, her cell was back in her bag, and she was back in the mall. But then, her steps became measured as she moved toward Mae Frances. Her friend's head was down as she pushed buttons on her cell.

Jasmine's voice was as deep as her frown as she yelled, “Mae Frances?”

She looked up. “Did you just call me?”

Jasmine let the diaper bag slip down her arm. “Where's Jacquie?”

Mae Frances waved her hands. “She's right over there. With the puppies. Did you just call me?”

Before Mae Frances had finished, Jasmine's eyes were searching the crowd. With Zaya still in her arms, she pushed through the mass of men and women, arms filled with packages, children close at their sides.

“Where's Jacquie?” The question trembled from her lips to a young boy in front of the pet store. “The little girl who was here--where is she?”



His face was pressed against the glass as he answered, “She's gone.”

There was no time to question him further. A woman, two giant steps away, grabbed the boy's hand.

“Didn't I tell you not to talk to strangers?” the woman admonished as she dragged the boy from the window.

Jasmine's eyes were wide as she spun around, clutching Zaya to her chest, searching the space around her. It had been only a minute, but terror was already crawling up and down her skin.

“Jacquie!” she screamed through the holiday din.

She tried to keep herself in check as she gripped Zaya and barged through the pet store's doors. The stench of the animals did nothing to cover the fear that was already surging from her pores.

“Jacquie!” she shouted. She kept telling herself that this was nothing: Jacqueline had just wandered off.

Pressing up one aisle, then rushing down the next, she hunted through the crowd.

“Jacquie!” she yelled.

Jasmine grabbed a pink-apron-wearing teenager who was crouched down in front of the cages. “Please,” she said to the young man, obviously one of the store's employees. “Have you seen my daughter?”

The blond spiked-hair boy glanced at Jasmine and then looked around the store, his expression telling Jasmine that her question didn't make much sense to him. “There've been a lot of kids here today,” he answered before he returned to feeding the kittens.

“Jacquie!” she screamed one last time as she rushed back through the doors.

Outside, in the middle of the passing crowd, Jasmine turned slowly, exploring each face, searching every space.


“Jacquie!”
Her distress went unnoticed; the holiday shoppers were
buried under their own cares.
“Jacquie!” Now her heart banged against her chest.



Both she and Zaya were crying by the time she hurried back to the bench. In the eyes of the woman she called her friend, Jasmine saw the same unadulterated horror that was in her heart.

“Where's Jacquie?” she screamed at Mae Frances.

Mae Frances shook her head. “She . . . she was . . . right there,” she cried as she pointed back to the store.

But Jasmine didn't bother to turn around. She didn't need to look at the store or anywhere else in the mall. Because in the space inside of her where truth lay, she knew.

As “Joy to the World” squeaked out from the speakers above, Jasmine knew that her daughter was gone.



I did not read this book. I leafed through it, and wasn't impressed by the content - it wasn't extremely bad, but didn't look like something I wanted to read, and does not fall into the class of Christian fiction, so I am just posting the info FIRST blog tours has given to put on my blog.

An Award Won

I won The Versatile Blogger award yesterday, thank you to Annette at A Well-Watered Garden. Due to an extreme lack of desire to blog, read, and many other things, I have not gotten around to doing my part.


The rules for this award is that when you receive this award, you must share seven things about yourself and then pass it on to fifteen blog's you've recently discovered that you enjoy! I am skipping the step of going to each blog to save some time though. :-)
 
Seven things about me huh? Yikes - ok
 
1) I am not bald - I shave my head. Though I shave it because I was losing it anyway.....
2) I play the piano, but due to selling my electric piano, rarely do anymore.
3) My favorite foods are chicken and pizza, and I love Mexican and Chinese food. And Italian. And American.......
4) Southern Gospel music is my favorite genre' of music, with my favorite groups being The Booth Brothers, The Talley Trio, Gaither Vocal Band, Jeff and Sheri Easter, Sisters, The Hoppers,  and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.
5) I always wanted a brother, but do love the two sisters I have.
6) Most people don't know the real me
7) My favorite attire is blue jeans and a button down shirt, untucked, and either sandals or no shoes at all
 
 
First off is Annette's blog at A Well-Watered Garden. I can return the favor, can't I? :-)
 
Mike Dellosso, one of my favorite authors, at http://mikedellosso.wordpress.com/
 
My friend Kimmy does some book reviews on her blog, The Smug Cloud, and often has giveaways. I have no idea what a smug cloud is, or what a cloud has to be smug about........
 
Molly does book reviews and book giveaways at her blog, Reviews by Buuklvr81.
 
Lena Nelson Dooley, an author, does book reviews with giveaways on her blog, A Christian Writer's World.
 
Winning Readings is a great blog - she posts links to giveaways on other people's blogs, and has helped me out with that several times.
 
Another author, Bradilyn Collins, has an interesting blog, Forensics and Faith
 
And another Annette at Live, Learn, Love.
 
I ran across a blog recently by a 16-year old young man who seems wise beyond his years. And the kid has over 200 followers. Check out Joshua's blog at While I'm Waiting.
 
Relz Reviews is a great book review blog I follow.
 
My friend, Kim Matlock has an interesting blog. She also has a homeschooling blog that if you ask nicely, she may invite you to.
 
International Christian Fiction Writers is a blog run by several authors spread out over the world - an interesting and informative blog to read.
 
I also enjoy a few political blogs:
 
Hot Air.
 
Michelle Malkin.
 
And Big Government.

Dad's Bible

Book Description


Dad's Bible: The Father's Plan is the perfect gift for fathers, fathers-to-be, and father figures of any age. The Dad's Bible is filled with challenging and helpful information designed to encourage and uplift fathers whose lives will be a priceless legacy for generations to come. Whether as a personal purchase, a Father's Day gift, or "just because," Dad's Bible is sure to draw the reader into quality personal time with our Heavenly Father.

I'm not a dad, but decided to review this Bible anyway. This Bible is the New Century Version, which I wasn't crazy about. It isn't a bad version, but I much prefer the New King James and the New Living Translation.

The pages of this Bible are made to look like the pages of an old book, which gives it a neat look.

There are several pages of notes geared for fathers - how they should live, and notes pertaining to raising kids - which are very insightful. This Bible would make a great gift for a father for Father's Day. Robert Wolgemuth did the notes for the Bible, and he did a great job. Even though I have no kids, I could see that this Bible could be a great tool and help to fathers.

WWALD?

No, that doesn't stand for Where's Waldo. :-) It stands for "What Would Al Lacy Do?" And be forewarned, I am getting up on one of my favorite soapboxes again. :-) - so if you don't like my soapboxes, close this page - now.....

If you're not familair with Al Lacy, he is a Christian fiction author who writes stories mostly set in the Old West, and in the last few years has teamed up with his wife to write together. He is the only author that I have had the privelege of meeting, though Karen Kingsbury and Mike Dellosso are dropping by lather this week for tea and input on their next books...... yeah, right. :-)

Anyway, not sure why Al Lacy has been on my mind, but he did come to my mind recently for some reason - maybe brought on by a conversation with my sister, Vicki. I won a copy of Krisitin Heitzman's new book, Indivisble. She is one of Vicki's favorite authors, so I gave her the book. Vicki was commenting that she was a bit disappointed to find some cursing in the book - hell used as a curse word, and not sure if there were others, but she mentioned that one. Incidentally, I think this is the first book the author has done for Waterbrook Publishing, writing previously for Bethany House where she didn't use that type of language. So take from that what you will......

Anyway, it seems too many people aren't bothered by hell being used as a curse word - but what if your toddler talked like that? Your teen? What if your pastor used it in his messages? Sound absurd? Well, so does language like that in a Christian novel - which brings me to Al Lacy:

If you are not very familiar with him, you will not know this. I am familiar with him, and I do know this: for some years, he wrote secular Westerns under other names. He wrote some of the Stagecoach books among others. I read a series by him called "The Badge" series - Westerns about lawmen of the old West - really good books. For the most part, they were curse free, though a few of them did have some - and that, my friends is why Al Lacy quit writing on the secular market. He would turn in his manuscripts, curse-free - and they would come out on the market with curse words in. One of the worst in the Badge series, according to him, was one of the latter titles. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember hell being used as a curse word and the "d" word - both of which are in some Christian novels I have read.

I have always been impressed with him for his stand - its a pretty big thing to write for the secular market, and to turn from that to the smaller Christian market, with no guarantee of success - all because he wanted to write books without cursing in them. Too bad all of the authors in the Christian market don't have that depth of Christian integrity in them - no, some of them are adding them - and defending their use.

So WWALD? If his Christian publisher started slipping curse words in his books - what would he do? I would wager a guess that he would change publishers - and I would also wager that he will never add them on his own.

So, Mr. Al Lacy - my hat is off to you, and you have my admiration for your depth of Christian integrity. Great job.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Deceit by Brandilyn Collins


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Deceit



Zondervan (June 18, 2010)



by



Brandilyn Collins



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.

ABOUT THE BOOK



Skip Tracer Joanne Weeks knows Baxter Jackson killed his second wife---and Joanne's best friend---seven years ago. But Jackson, a church elder and beloved member of the town, walks the streets a free man.

The police tell Joanne to leave well enough alone, but Joanne is determined to bring Jackson down. Using her skip tracing skills, she sets out to locate Melissa Harkoff, now twenty-two, who lived in the Jackson home at the time of Linda Jackson's disappearance.

As Joanne drives home on a rainy winter night, a hooded figure darts in front of her car. In her headlight beams she glimpses the half-concealed face of a man, a rivulet of blood jagging down his cheek. She squeals to a stop but clips him with her right fender. Shaking, she gets out of her car in the pouring rain. The man will not let her see his face. Before he limps off into the night he warns her not to talk to police.

As Joanne tries to find Melissa, someone seems to be after her. Who was the man she hit on the road. Is Baxter Jackson out to silence her? Or is some other skip she's traced in the past now out for revenge?

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

My review:

This wasn't quite as suspenseful in the scary meaning of the word, as some of Brandilyn's other books, but it was an excellent book and an enjoyable read. It was written in both first person and third person, bouncing back and forth in a style that was easy to read and keep track of what was going on.

I found the idea of a "skip tracer" interesting. I had never heard of such a thing until I read this book, so it was cool to learn something new there. As usual, Collins wove a fascinatting and suspenseful tale, with believeable and likeable characters.
I also liked the cover of the book. It really drew me to the book. I was glad I had the opportunity to review this latest book by Collins. I was not disappointed. And she is an author who can spin a scary, suspenseful story, and keep it Christian, and with no cursing, and my hat is always off to authors who do that.