Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Only Uni" winner is...

Jo at ladijo...

Congrats you won Camy Tang's book and all you have to do is email me your address to get the book on its way to you...

For everyone else - there are currently 4 giveaways going plus the big book bundles contest! Sign up for all of them so you don't miss out :-)

"A Soldier's Family" by Cheryl Wyatt

"For Pete's Sake" by Linda Windsor

"Betrayed" by Jeanette Windle

"The Bunko Babes" by Leah Starr Baker

Good luck everyone!

"The Bunko Babes" Giveaway and Interview with Leah Starr Baker!


About Leah Starr Baker
Author of The Bunko Babes
From preacher’s kid to youth pastor’s wife to Mrs. Oklahoma, “setting a good example” is pretty much second nature for author Leah Starr Baker. And, like most women, she is all too familiar with the pressure to be perfect in all arenas. But since surviving a bout with Systemic Lupus, a chronic disease that affects the immune system, Baker is more apt to celebrate life’s imperfections these days – and has found a creative outlet that allows her to do just that. Her debut novel The Bunko Babes (Emerald Pointe Books, November 2007), chronicles the lives of eight women who rely on each other through giggles, fattening foods, and weekly bunko games for strength and support.

Drawing from the frantic reality of a woman’s daily life – cooking breakfast, clothing an army, running errands, forgetting the dry cleaning – and from a host of deeper struggles, like infertility and divorce, The Bunko Babes offers readers a cast of loveable friends – friends whose troubles certainly aren’t getting in the way of their weekly bunko game.

“I have fallen in love with each of these women, and by the end of the novel, I was sad to let them go,” says Baker. While the “Bunko Babes” are far from perfect, they are survivors, much like Leah herself. “The Bunko Babes chose me I guess you could say, not the other way around,” says Baker. “And I hope the main message that readers take away from the book is that nothing and no one is perfect. Life is not perfect and better yet, God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He just wants us to be real,” she says.

Though Baker’s various career paths have included everything from stay-at-home mom to country music recording artist, she admits that she never sought out writing as a profession until recently. Her knack for storytelling, however, does appear to be a family trait: the daughter of pastor and author, Richard Exley, (Alabaster Cross and Encounters with Christ), Baker recalls watching her father burn the midnight oil preparing sermons for his congregation. “As a child, I remember my father sitting at his desk, kerosene lamp at his shoulder, preparing his Sunday sermon and me across the room watching, absorbing,” says Baker.

Combined with the colorful cast of real characters in her life – “a compilation of the many amazing women who have touched my life throughout the years,” she notes – Baker had all the tools necessary to explore female friendships in a work that has been likened to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

“I write as if I am sitting on the couch, sharing a cup of coffee, and chatting it up with one of my girlfriends,” says Baker. “I like to think of the reader as a participant in the story, instead of an observer.”

Along with her two children and husband, LEAH STARR BAKER currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When she is not writing, she is a volunteer for Jenks Public Schools. For more information, please visit thebunkobabes.biz.

And now dear readers, let's meet Leah Starr Baker...

1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"

SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR…anything jammed packed with the sweet stuff makes me drool. I am hopelessly in love with the stuff. One of my all time favorite treats are those tiny, beaded candied sprinkles that you put on top of cakes. I eat them by the spoonfuls. I know there’s absolutely nothing remotely healthy inside of them but I just can’t help myself.

2) The Bunko Babes is one of those fun books that introduces us to a group of people at the beginning and then walks us through various aspects of their lives as the book progresses. So as a reader we don't get just one new friend, we get a whole batch all at once. We get to know Becca the most intimately as the book is seen through her eyes, but we are not spared the pain, heartache, joy or turmoil of any women in The Bunko Babes. Leah, do you have a group of ladies in your life like this that support you and are there for you no matter what arises in your life?

Absolutely, I am so blessed when it comes to friends. God has brought so many amazing ladies into my life that I shake my head in amazement. I, like Becca, have friends for any circumstance that I might face. Need a pick-me-up? Call Karen or Susannah: they’ll have me feeling better and laughing within minutes. Need a good kick in the pants? Call Karen: she always helps to put things in perspective. Need a great shopping buddy? Jody can spend the dough as well as I can (hee, hee). Just need somebody to talk to? Call any of my babes or my ladies from church. As you can see, my list just goes on and on.

3) I know people that love the game Bunko and play it often, but I have never personally played it, though after reading the book I'm ready to put together a group to play like The Babes. Do you have any Bunko tips for newbies?

I have the perfect tip sheet for you newbies who are interested in putting together your own Bunko group.

1. Make a flyer announcing your own Bunko Launch Party.
2. Make a list of acquaintances or simply pass them out in your
neighborhood.
3. Create a theme for your party. For a launch party, I would do an
outer space theme with twinkle lights in the windows and on the
ceiling plus decorations with stars, moons and planets.
4. Plan your menu to reflect your theme. You can go to my website
for some great finger food recipes. Don’t forget to provide
nibbles for the Bunko tables as well.
5. Provide door prizes for different categories, including the booby prize.

And the most important tip is to just have fun, fun, and more fun.

4) I know that some of the situations in The Bunko Babes come from your own life, like Becca's mysterious illness, was it difficult to walk through that situation again as you put down on paper what you had actually gone through?

Truthfully, I was writing this book when I was at the height of my suffering. The Bunko Babes actually became a tool to help me reflect upon and share my confusion, pain, and God’s unfailing grace. Everything that Becca experienced dealing with her illness is something that I personally have gone through. At times, it was almost like a journal for me. In fact, a lot of the first draft I left out because we felt that the book was becoming too focused upon Becca’s suffering and not enough on the entire story that God had given me to write.

5) There are instances of cheating, divorce, war separating a couple, illness, infertility, abortion and a few more I don't want to mention without revealing any spoilers... but through it all the thread of friendship is what weaves this story together, and even with such heavy topics being worked through, I just really enjoyed this book - it was fun! This book really made me wish that I had a support group around me like these ladies have - tell me about an interesting situation you had to walk through with a friend of yours (your situation or theirs)...

So many of us have suffered through the humiliation and desolation that comes about when you discover that your spouse has been or is being unfaithful to you. My friends and I are no exception. I will never forget the night one of my Babes showed up at 9 o’clock balling her eyes out. I opened the door and took her in my arms to comfort her. I knew she’d been struggling for quite some time in her marriage and I was honored that she felt no matter what time of day it was that she could come to me for comfort and encouragement.

6) I love the situation between Becca and her soon to be stepfather when she finds out her mother is getting remarried after the death of Becca's dad. The very man that she wants so much to dislike (because he's "replacing" her father) becomes a spiritual mentor in her life - do you have a spiritual mentor in your life like that?

My Dad is that for me and always has been. Growing up under his tutelage has been one of my greatest honors. Anytime I have a question or concern or can’t find a particular scripture, I just pick up the phone and call him. I am extremely grateful to have him as my Dad. Having been in the ministry his entire adult life, he is a fountain of comfort and information.

7) I just have to know, is The Bunko Babes a stand alone book or will we see more of these fantastic ladies?

I am hoping that you will see many more books about these wonderful women. I am definitely in discussion with Emerald Pointe Books about writing a sequel. Look for one in the near future.

8) What are you currently working on that we can be looking forward to?

I am working on the edits for another novel right now with the working title “Shattered Trust”. It was my first novel I ever penned and Emerald Pointe Books has expressed interest in releasing it in the interim between The Bunko Babes and its sequel.

9) Where can readers find you on the web and what fun things will they see when they find you?

They can find me at: http://www.thebunkobabes.biz/ There they will find information about me and my family, they can read the first chapter of The Bunko Babes, read the novel’s reviews and hear me on my most recent radio interview.

You will be able to find recipes and share yours with me as well as find monthly Bunko party theme ideas and of course, my blog. Please continue to visit me as something new and exciting is added daily.

There are two ways you can win a copy of this book - post a comment here letting me know what kind of game you like to play when you get together with friends (and a way to contact you please!) or sign up for Feedblitz and enter the big book bundle giveaways and win the bundle that has The Bunko Babes in it :-) Either way, you will love this book - Grandma Sue is now reading my copy of The Bunko Babes and she told me yesterday, "I am really enjoying this book - the ladies are so real and their situations are so true. I am just really liking it!" That is high praise from Grandma Sue and I just have to second it so - make sure you sign up to win!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Current Contests and Giveaways!

Okay readers... currently you can still register to win "Only Uni" by Camy Tang, "For Pete's Sake" by Linda Windsor, "A Soldier's Family" by Cheryl Wyatt and newly introduced... "Betrayed" by Jeanette Windle. So sign up while you can and congratulations to Becca - the winner of "Sweet Caroline" by Rachel Hauck!!!

And don't forget to sign up for Feedblitz and register for the huge Book Bundle Giveaways!

"Betrayed" Book Review and Giveaway!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Betrayed by Jeanette Windle


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Betrayed

Tyndale House Publishers (February 6, 2008)

by

Jeanette Windle


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.











ABOUT THE BOOK


Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump.

Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?

Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.


The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1414314744/

My Review:
This book was really interesting - it has mystery and intrigue in a foreign country, hints of romance - beautiful settings, some fascinating twists and turns in the plot and overall was very enjoyable. I loved the way that Jeanette really drew me into a place that she is so familiar with and despite political issues - she almost made me want to go visit there (almost, but not quite :-) Vicki is an interesting heroine - trying to find her place in the world, wanting to help people, but not realizing soon enough that her sister may need her help the most.

I am giving away a copy of Betrayed so leave a comment with a way to reach you and tell me where is the most interesting place that you have ever been... I'll start - I went to Germany when I was 16 (had my 16th birthday there actually) for a missions trip and it was an unforgettable time - even spent a few days in Amsterdam, red light district and everything!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"For Pete's Sake" Book Review and Giveaway

Monday, March 24, 2008

For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


For Pete's Sake

Book Two of the Piper Cove Chronicles

(Avon Inspire - April 1, 2008)

by

Linda Windsor



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maryland author Linda Windsor has written some twenty-nine historical and contemporary novels for both the secular and inspirational markets, but she is most noted for delivering “The Lift of Laughter and Spirit” in her modern inspirational romances.

A Christy finalist and winner of numerous industry awards, Linda has written for Multnomah Publishing (historical fiction and contemporary romances), Barbour Publishing (romcom novella), and Westbow Press (the Moonstruck romantic comedy trilogy). Wedding Bell Blues the first book in her new The Piper Cove Chronicles series, is featured on Avon Inspire's launch list.

In addition to writing and doing fiction-writing workshops at conferences across the country, Linda continues a music and lay speaking ministry started by her and her late husband, and she is a part-time financial analyst. She also works on “as desperately needed” home improvement projects on the 18th-century-plus house that she and her husband began restoring in 1986. Wallpaper and paint are definitely in her near future.



ABOUT THE BOOK

For Pete's Sake is a remarkable story about the unlikely live between a grown-up tomboy and the millionaire next door.

Ellen Brittingham isn’t sure true live exists until she contracts to do the landscaping of the estate of the sophisticated widower next door, Adrian Sinclair. Adrian has it all—at least on the surface, He’s engaged to a beautiful woman who helped him build a successful business and he’ll soon have a mom for his troubled son Pete.

Yet, from the moment Ellen rescues a stranded Adrian on her Harley, his well-ordered world turns upside down, cracking his thin façade of happiness and revealing the void of faith and love behind it. Even more, his son seems to have his own sites set on Ellen – as his new mom.

As Ellen’s friendship grows with Pete, she realizes that his father is about to marry the wrong woman for the right reasons. And despite her resolve to remain “neighbors only” with the dad, the precocious boy works his way into her heart, drawing Ellen and Adrian closer. Close enough for heartbreak, for Pete’s sake!

But how can her heart think that Adrian Sinclair is the one when he’s engaged to a sophisticated beauty who is everything Ellen isn’t. When Ellen’s three best friends see she’s been bitten by the love bug, they jump into action and submit her to a makeover that reveals the woman underneath her rough exterior and puts her in contention for Adrian’s love.

But Ellen must ask herself whether she’s ready to risk the heart that she’s always held close. Will Ellen be able to trust that God brought this family into her life for a reason? Or will her fear of getting hurt cause her to turn away from God’s plan and her one true chance at love?

The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0061171387


My Review:
I thought this was a touching story that was fun while retaining a beautiful romance and some great mystery as well. I did not read the first in the series and didn't miss anything in this book. Linda has created a great little community with some fun characters - Ellen is the kind of woman that I would love - she definitely marches to the beat of her own drum but isn't off in her own band - she still plays music with others. This is a great book and I will be giving away a copy of it so be sure to post a comment with a way to reach you and I will get you entered - good luck!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Soldier's Family Book Review and Giveaway!

"A Soldier's Family" by Cheryl Wyatt
Wings of Refuge Series - Book #2
Book Review and Giveaway!

AUTHOR BIO:

Cheryl Wyatt's closest friends would never dream the mayhem she plots during announcements at church. An RN-turned-SAHM, joyful chaos rules her home, and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She's convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentine's Day destined her to write military romance. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. Both of her debut novels (Books 1 and 2 in her Wings of Refuge Series from Steeple Hill) have received Romantic Times Top Picks.
Visit Cheryl Wyatt on the Web
Or her blog www.Scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com

Here's the back cover blurb and an amazon link to purchase the book:
BACK COVER COPY FOR A SOLDIER'S FAMILY:

On A Crash Course With Love
She was the woman of pararescue jumper Manny Péna's dreams. But he'd stuck his foot in his mouth the last time he met Celia Munez. Now, grounded after a parachuting accident, he was desperate to make amends with the beautiful widow. But Celia wasn't having it. The last thing she needed was another man with a dangerous job—even if he had given his life to God. Yet Manny's growing commitment to her and her troubled son began to convince her that perhaps she should take her own leap of faith.
ISBN: 037387474X
Publisher: Steeple Hill
Ordering Link: Order now!




MY REVIEW:
I was fortunate to read book #1 in this series (A Soldier's Promise) and I really enjoyed it... Cheryl created a place and characters (Joel, Amber and Bradley) that were so real and down to earth. You got in their corner and rooted for them as they went to painful places and came back again and discovered joy, love and unity along the way. In book #2 we are rejoining those same people (I love it when series continue with the people we know and love!) but from the viewpoint of the best friends (Manny and Celia). Cheryl manages to keep this book so fresh and new, but familiar - I just loved it. I feel the need to point out that Joel and Manny are members of a Pararescue troop that are a brotherhood - so I am hoping that books #3, #4, #5, #10, #11... (please let it be!) will focus on other members of the troop while letting us revisit our old friends. This is a fantastic series that will uplift you and make you smile - but not without making you deal with some tough issues too... now that is a good book!

Cheryl is giving away a copy to one lucky reader so leave a comment with an e-mail address to be entered to win and tell me about someone you know that is or was a soldier for our country and what they did (they don't have to be Pararescue jumpers :-)

I'll start - my dad was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam (one of the youngest) and in Desert Storm (one of the oldest :-) and was in the National Guard for most everything in between. He won lots of medals in Vietnam, we were just happy to have him come home from Desert Storm (I was 16 and I missed him). What about you?

"Between Two Worlds" by Mike Timmis Book Review


Introducing the new blog alliance devoted to Non~Fiction books, Non~FIRST, a component of Fiction in Rather Short Takes (FIRST). (Join our alliance! Click the button!) This is our very first blog tour. Normally, we will post every 15th day of every month, featuring an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

The special feature author is:


and his book:

NavPress (February 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mike Timmis had it all.

How does a kid from working-class Detroit become an international ambassador for Christ? And what motivated an evangelical-based ministry to choose this Catholic as its chairman? Mike Timmis’s inspiring life as a Catholic and evangelical leader reveals how our unity in Christ transcends the two worlds’ differences. From him, we learn how Catholics and evangelicals can go into an alienated world together as ministers of reconciliation and witnesses to God’s salvation and love.

Mike Timmis is a chairman of both Prison Fellowship in America and Prison Fellowship International. He was also a practicing lawyer and businessman. A Roman Catholic, Mike is deeply involved in ministry in his hometown of Detroit as well as projects in Africa and Central and South America. He and his wife, Nancey, are parents of two and grandparents of four.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter One

Taking Life into My Own Hands


On January 18, 1991, I was flying in a small two-engine plane in east-central Africa from Burundi to Kenya. Our party had just come from a wonderful meeting with Burundi’s President Pierre Buyoya where we’d shared the gospel with him and a number of cabinet ministers. Still, we were somewhat anxious because the Persian Gulf War had started the previous day. Right then, American fighters were in the air against Iraqi positions.

My wife, Nancy, and my son, Michael Jr., were with me, as well as Gene Dewey, the former second-in-command at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sam Owen, a fellow believer then living in Nairobi. This trip was part of the quiet diplomacy I had undertaken as a member of a group called The Fellowship. We worked on behalf of the poor by raising up Jesus with world leaders, one means of pursuing the ministry of reconciliation that Christ entrusted to His followers.

As we flew over northern Tanzania, the pilot was suddenly issued an order that we were to land immediately. I was sitting close enough to the cockpit to hear the squawking instructions coming over the radio. I quickly assured the pilot that we had the requisite permission to fly over Tanzanian air space. The State Department had issued an order to American citizens to stay clear of Tanzania, an Iraq ally, so I made sure—or thought I had—that we had permission to fly over Tanzania en route to Kenya. The pilot relayed my protest to the Tanzanians.

“No, you do not have permission!” came the reply. “You must land immediately, or we will force you down.”

We landed at the small city airport of Mwanza. As we stepped down onto the tarmac, a military jeep pulled up. A cadre of officials and police officers met us and immediately arrested the pilot and impounded the plane.

Their leader also demanded our passports. I was reluctant to give these up, because no matter what alternative flight arrangements we might be able to make, we would be stranded without passports. Because I had requested—and been granted—permission to fly over Tanzania, our detention was making me angry. (Later I found out that the flight service we were using had previously flouted Tanzanian regulations and had again on this occasion.) Because my family was with me, I restrained my temper. My jaw clenched, I reluctantly handed over my passport.

We were allowed to find our own accommodations in Mwanza, and we found a car that took us to the New Hotel Mwanza. I would hate to have seen the old Hotel Mwanza. We were the hotel’s only guests, and for good reason. The first thing I did was check under the bed for bugs and rats.

As we caught our breath in our hotel room, I asked Nancy if she was afraid. “No, I’m not afraid,” she said. “You are with me, our son is with us, and God is with us.”

Even though we were stranded in an African backwater, I felt the same. I knew I was where God wanted us to be and felt—as I always have in my travels to what are now 114 nations—that God was going before me. In my many years of traveling on various missions, I’ve always felt protected by the special anointing that comes with God’s commission. Lost geographically, I was still at home spiritually, and for that reason at peace.

Our party of five met for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. My family is Catholic, and Gene Dewey and Sam Owen were evangelicals, but the unity we knew in the Lord sustained us, even when the dinner turned out to be rancid.

After a little while, the hotel manager, having no other guests, joined us at our table. This made way for the night’s entertainment. Four strapping young men in red overalls—the kind gas station attendants used to wear—came out, and with lamplight smiles launched into song:

My baaaaah-dy lies over the ocean,

My baaaaah-dy lies over the sea. . . .

Yes, they said “body” not “bonnie,” and since we all felt an ocean away from home, the song struck us as hilarious. Then the quartet followed with “Home on the Range,” and we nearly wept from laughing. We clapped and cheered, showing our appreciation to the young men. They had done us more good than they could possibly have known.

I spent the next day searching for transportation out of Mwanza. The others paid special attention to BBC radio reports on the progress of the war.

Within thirty-six hours, a plane flew in for us from Nairobi. We went out to the airport to meet it, eager to hightail it out of there. But when we arrived at the airport, no one seemed inclined to return our passports. Thankfully, Gene Dewey was already anticipating this. Because of his time with the United Nations, Gene had the most experience in dealing with government officials. He had also been a colonel in Vietnam and had a knack for being cool and fiercely determined at the same time. I kept asking him when he thought we’d get our passports back—and how. “Mike, don’t worry about it,” he’d say.

As we were walking out to the plane, bags in hand, with a couple of Tanzanian officials to the rear in escort, I looked over at Gene and said as forcefully as I could under my breath, “Gene, our passports!”

“Not now, Mike,” he replied quietly but just as forcefully. “Just don’t worry about it. Keep walking.”

It wasn’t until we were in the air that Gene unbuttoned his shirt and fished out all our passports.

“How did you get those?” I asked.

“I came out to the airport last night,” he said. “I broke into the office and took them. If you had kept talking, they might have found out!”

Gene’s street smarts reminded me of how I’d grown up and made my way. I asked myself, “How did I get here? How did a kid from the rough and gritty streets of Detroit end up on a trip to see international dignitaries? How could a guy born and raised Catholic go on a mission representing a largely evangelical organization?”

Read the rest of the 1st chapter at :
http://www.nonfictioninrathershorttakes.blogspot.com


MY REVIEW:
I got this book a few days ago and actually told my husband - I can't believe the first non-fiction book on our to read list for this blog alliance is an auto-biography of an evangelical Catholic. But I decided to go ahead and jump into it. I am over 1/2 way through it now and I have to say - it has been really good! I even woke up this morning and read another chapter before getting out of bed. Mike's life has been very interesting and he has a way of writing it so that you are seeing things from his viewpoint and understanding where his thinking was at different points in his life. I always kind of thought of the Catholic church as being very rigid and rote in their prayers and traditions (not even necessarily in a bad way, just in a - that's the way they are kind of way) and my husband's family is very Catholic - he has a uncle that is a priest and 3 aunts that are nuns :-) But Mike really shows me how it was so important to him to find Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the church of his childhood, the place where he first fell in love with God. And this is his journey to do just that. I'll be passing this book on to my father-in-law when I'm finished with it and I would recommend it to anyone with any kind of ties to the Catholic church. Oh, did I mention that I would also recommend it to anyone that desires to know God more deeply? It would be really good for you too...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness" Book Review

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)

by

Andrew Peterson




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Author/Singer/Songwriter Andrew Peterson, a 2005 Audie Award finalist for his readings of Ray Blackston’s Flabbergasted trilogy, wrote and produced the popular Christmas play and musical Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tale of the Coming of the Christ, and the album by the same name, which received the 2004 Best Album of the Year, World Christian Music’s Editors Choice Award. Andrew’s received critical acclaim for his seven albums and is at work on an eighth. He lives with his wife Jamie and their three young children near Nashville, Tennessee, where he reads storybooks aloud to his family each evening.


Artist Justin Gerard has illustrated several children’s books, including The Lightlings storybooks for young readers by R.C. Sproul. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and works as the chief creative officer for Portland Studios.


ABOUT THE BOOK:
Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.


“So good–smart, funny, as full of ideas as action.”
Jonathan Rogers, author of The Wilderking Trilogy

“A wildly imaginative, wonderfully irreverent epic that shines with wit and wisdom–and features excellent instructions on how to cope with Thwaps, Fangs, and the occasional Toothy Cow.”

Allan Heinberg, writer/co-executive producer of ABC’s Grey's Anatomy, and co-creator of Marvel Comics Young Avengers

“Totally fun! Andrew Peterson, a natural storyteller in the oral tradition, has nailed the voice needed to translate a rip-roaring fantasy tale to the written page.”

Donita K. Paul, author of DragonSpell, DragonKnight, DragonQuest, and DragonFire

The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073847

My review:
I suppose anytime you are creating an entire world that your book, characters and readers must live in - it takes a couple of chapters to get that reality set and in place. Andrew did this and it took a few chapters for me to grasp that reality and move into it, but when I did - goodness sakes - hold on tight! I didn't want to put this book down and I was really sad when it was over - I actually found myself wishing that book #2 was already out so I could move right onto it! I do think that this book is marketed toward a young adult audience, but I was riveted once it got going. This would be a good family read aloud book if your family likes fantasy - the chapters are nice and short. Totally enjoyable and really funny - I highly recommend this book!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Book Winners...

More Book Winners...

"Death of a 6-Foot Teddy Bear" by Sharon Dunn was won by - Bookwurm70

"Nana's Bible Stories" by Roberta Simpson was won by - Cara Putman

"The Perfect Life" by Robin Lee Hatcher was won by - mopsmomut

Congrats to all of you and it is not to late for everyone else to sign up for "Sweet Caroline" by Rachel Hauck and "Only Uni" by Camy Tang!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Camy Tang and Sushi...

COME MEET CAMY TANG...

I am so glad to have Camy Tang back with us today to talk about her new release
"Only Uni". It is the follow-up to her first book "Sushi For One" which I enjoyed
so much I put it on my Top 7 Most Entertaining Books of 2007 list. In "Sushi"
we met Lex and her crazy, kooky, fun and loving (in their own way) large family.
Only Uni follows up with the same family from the perspective of Lex's cousin
Trish. The irony here is that in "Sushi" I started out liking Trish
but by the end of the book I really perceived her as selfish and
shallow and didn't like her much at all. Consequently, I wasn't sure
that I would like "Only Uni" because it was going to revolve around
selfish Trish. Enter the moment that I received Only Uni and started
reading it... a few hours later I declared (out loud to no one), "I do
believe I like "Only Uni" even better than "Sushi For One"!" Now onto
finding out more about this book from Camy herself...


1. Camy, when you wrote "Sushi For One" did you start out intending to
write a series of 3 books about the cousins or did it develop into that?
Does it change the way you write a book if you are writing a
single book or a series?
I originally wrote Trish's story first, in a (very, very bad)
manuscript titled THE CORINTHIAN RULES. At that time, I wasn't
thinking about writing a series. But after I started working with my
first agent, I talked with Marilynn Griffith, and got the idea about
making the story into a series. I wrote the series proposal. The
Zondervan publishing committee didn't like THE CORINTHIAN RULES and
wanted another story in the series first, so I wrote Lex's story,
SUSHI FOR ONE.

It doesn't really make much difference in how I write the book if I'm
writing a series or a single title. I still do the same in-depth
characterization even if it's only for the one book. But I do have to
admit it's a lot less work if I do the in-depth characterization and
have 3 books out of it!

2. One of the things I really liked about "Only Uni" is that Trish is a
flawed character from the beginning. And anyone who reads "Sushi"
knows
this when they start reading. Because I knew she was flawed
right away
I watched her journey through the book a little
differently... as I realized
she was trying to change and find her way
again I got in her corner and really
started rooting for her. Was it
fun to write about a character that is less
than perfect, and are any
of her flaws taken from personal experience or is Trish
purely
fictional?

Trish is actually a lot like me. I struggled with my singleness in the
same way Trish does, which was another reason I had written her story
first in THE CORINTHIAN RULES. Her story changed quite a bit from THE
CORINTHIAN RULES to ONLY UNI, but her flaws are still the same--her
struggles with her self-image, her desires, her determination to
change.


3. Trish goes through a search during this book, she's searching for the right
church, the right relationship with God, and finding her
friendships and trust
with her cousins again. I loved this part of
the story as I think most of us
have gone through something similar in
our lives at some point or another.
How do you strike that balance at
church with being involved and a servant without
getting taken
advantage of - I've heard that 20% of the people at church do 80% of
the work and I've certainly seen that to be true for the most part...

Oh, tell me about it! I see it in my own church.

It's funny you mention this, because we discussed this issue at our
youth group meeting a few weeks ago. While God does desire us to serve
at our church, I don't think He likes it when we overcommit ourselves
and neglect other things that are more important.

Because I see so many people in my church family being taken advantage
of, I enter into ministry with a lot of prayer. I don't agree to do
something unless I've prayed hard about it, and I try to never commit
when I'm first asked--I always tell them I need time to pray about it.
That way, I can ask God what He wants me to do, and I can look
realistically at my time and resources. I have to really make an
effort to keep my priorities straight and not become overcommitted.


4. Trish is similar to the prodigal son in this book, she messes up and comes back -
but she still has to suffer the consequences of her
misguided actions. I have
children and while I know they will make
mistakes and have consequences, as a mother
I hate to see them
hurting. How would you explain this concept to people in a way
that
can be easily understood?

You touch on a topic that I feel very strongly about. Our current
American culture likes to allow people off the hook and never pay the
consequences of their own actions and decisions. While God forgives us
for our sins, often we still have to pay the consequences.

I tell my youth group kids this all the time--you have to learn to be
accountable for your actions. Sometimes God lets us off the hook, but
sometimes He doesn't. If we are held accountable, we can always trust
He'll be there for us, and that everything eventually works out for
our good, but it's still required for us to stand up under the
consequences of things we've done.


5. One of the fun parts (and common threads of these books) is Grandma Sakai.
She is the ultimate matriarch who wants to be firmly in
control of the lives of
those she loves. I think that's what keeps me
from hating her - I do believe that
she really loves her family (the
granddaughters included). I have to ask... do you
have a Grandma
Sakai in your life?

Absolutely not, thank goodness! Grandma Sakai is based off of the
grandmas, aunties, and mothers of friends of mine (both Asian and
non-Asian) who constantly nag and scheme to get the single family
members married off. So while she's fictional, she's also based on
reality.

While I do understand that those meddling family members really do
care, I personally come from a family where we respect each other's
personal lives. My family doesn't nag at all, and I'm very glad for
that. I put enough pressure on MYSELF, so why would I want pressure on
me from outside sources?



6. Now this question is purely for my information - we have a Japanese restaurant
not far from us that my husband and I just love (my
favorites are Ika Fry and
Edamame), but I am not a huge expert on
sushi itself - so share some of your
favorites with me so I know what
to try next time I'm there...

Most Japanese food comes in two categories: raw and cooked.

If you're willing to eat raw food, my suggestion is to try tuna (ahi,
maguro) sushi. If the restaurant is good, the tuna will be soft in
texture, fresh-tasting and not fishy smelling at all. The fish will be
pleasantly dry and not slimy. My favorite sushi is hamachi
(yellowtail) which has a slightly stronger taste than tuna, but very
delish.

For cooked Japanese food, one of my favorites is eel (unagi). You can
usually order unagi donburi or unagi over steamed rice. The unagi is
broiled in a flavorful sweet-salty sauce that lends itself well to the
rice. Eel is slightly slimy in texture, depending on how good quality
it is, so don't expect anything dry like normal cooked fish.

My husband and I have gotten unagi before and it wasn't bad at all, I guess I'm
a little too tame though - I like the avocado and cucumber
sushi (with nothing raw :-)

7. I liked "Only Uni" so much that I am really excited about "Single Sashimi"
that is coming out next, can you tell us a little about that
book and when its
coming out?


Single Sashimi comes out August 2008. Here's the back cover blurb:

Drake Yu. Why would Drake call her after … what, five years? Six?

Venus heard in his voice that resonance that was almost a growl, that
titanium-hard determination to get what he wanted. And he usually got
what he wanted. The voice said: "I want you to work for me."

Not this time… If it was a choice between Drake and McDonald's—she'd
choose french fries. She'd never work for him again. It would take an
act of God.

Venus Chau is determined to start her own game development company and
launch the next Super Mario-sized phenomenon. However, she needs an
investor to back her idea. When Drake Yu, an old nemesis, approaches
Venus with a contracting opportunity at his sister's startup, the
offer to become Chief Operating Officer tempts Venus to think the
unthinkable.

Venus would rather throw away her PS3 than work for Drake again …
except Grandma bribes Venus to do this favor for Drake's wealthy
family with a coveted introduction to the most respected investor in
the game industry. It's also a short job—only a few months—so Venus
won't have to stand Drake's presence for very long.

But one wild youth group, a two-faced assistant, and Grandma's
determined match-making threaten to make them both fail—or go insane.
With the encouragement of her three cousins, Lex, Trish, and Jennifer,
Venus discovers that even a wounded heart can undergo a beautiful
transformation …



8. I've heard your books referred to as Asian Chick Lit or Romance with a
Kick of Wasabi. I really like that second description, the
first one is
probably appropriate as well, but besides your books
I've not found myself
to be a huge fan of chick lit. I just think
your books are much meatier than
merely chick lit - how would you
describe your style to someone that has never
read any of your books
before?

My books are essentially humorous women's fiction with romance, or
just romantic comedy.

Most chick lit is written in first person point of view, so the reader
never gets into other characters' heads very much. I don't think
that's as conducive to romance novels, so I wrote mine in third person
so that I could get into the head of the heroes as well as the
heroines. Knowing what the hero is thinking helps the reader fall in
love with him more, I think.

I'm a huge romance fan, and I don't think I could write any book
without at least some romance in it. While the Sushi series books are
each about a woman's funny spiritual journey and not only about her
love life, there's always the hero for her to fall in love with.


Camy has agreed to giveaway a copy of "Only Uni" to one lucky reader, so leave
a comment with contact information and I'll draw for a
winner. And be sure to
check out the previous post where you can read the first chapter of "Only Uni"
and Camy's author bio.


Thank you so much for stopping by today and good luck with "Only Uni"!


Thanks for having me here, Janna!
Camy

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Only Uni" - The FIRST Chapter!


And dear readers, join me again on Tuesday when we will interview Camy about "Only Uni" and start a book giveaway as well!!! And check out "Only Uni" here -
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310273994/

It is March 15th, but no need to worry about the Ides of March when we have a special blog tour for one of our FIRST members! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) Normally, on the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter! As this is a special tour, we are featuring it on a special day!


The special feature author is:




and her book:

Only Uni

Zondervan (March 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Camy Tang is a member of FIRST and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.



Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One) was her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) is now available. The next book in the series, Single Sashimi (Sushi Series, Book Three) will be coming out in September 2008!

Visit her at her website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter One



Trish Sakai walked through the door and the entire room hushed.

Well, not exactly pin-drop hushed. More like a handful of the several dozen people in her aunty's enormous living room paused their conversations to glance her way. Maybe Trish had simply expected them to laugh and point.

She shouldn't have worn white. She'd chosen the Bebe dress from her closet in a rebellious mood, which abandoned her at her aunt's doorstep. Maybe because the explosion of red, orange, or gold outfits made her head swim.

At least the expert cut of her dress made her rather average figure curvier and more slender at the same time. She loved how well-tailored clothes ensured she didn't have to work as hard to look good.

Trish kicked off her sandals, and they promptly disappeared in the sea of shoes filling the foyer. She swatted away a flimsy paper dragon drooping from the doorframe and smoothed down her skirt. She snatched her hand back and wrung her fingers behind her.

No, that'll make your hips look huge.

She clenched her hands in front.

Sure, show all the relatives that you're nervous.

She clasped them loosely at her waist and tried to adopt a regal expression.

"Trish, you okay? You look constipated."

Her cousin Bobby snickered while she sneered at him. "Oh, you're so funny I could puke."

"May as well do it now before Grandma gets here."

"She's not here yet?" Oops, that came out sounding a little too relieved. She cleared her throat and modulated her voice to less-than-ecstatic levels. "When's she coming?"

"Uncle picked her up, but he called Aunty and said Grandma forgot something, so he had to go back."

Thank goodness for little favors. "Is Lex here?"

"By the food."

Where else would she be? Last week, her cousin Lex had mentioned that her knee surgeon let her go back to playing volleyball three nights a week and coaching the other two nights, so her metabolism had revved up again. She would be eating like a horse.

Sometimes Trish could just kill her.

She tugged at her skirt, a little tight tonight. She should've had more self-control than to eat that birthday cake at work. She'd have to run an extra day this week, maybe.

She bounced like a pinball between relatives. The sharp scent of ginger grew more pungent as she headed toward the large airy kitchen. Aunty Sue must have made cold ginger chicken again. Mmmm. The smell mixed with the tang of black bean sauce (Aunty Rachel's shrimp?), stir-fried garlic (any dish Uncle Barry made contained at least two bulbs), and fishy scallions (probably her cousin Linda's Chinese-style sea bass).

A three-foot-tall red streak slammed into her and squashed her big toe.

"Ow!" Good thing the kid hadn't been wearing shoes or she might have broken her foot. Trish hopped backward and her hand fumbled with a low side table. Waxed paper and cornstarch slid under her fingers before the little table fell, dropping the kagami mochi decoration. The sheet of printed paper, the tangerine, and rubbery-hard mochi dumplings dropped to the cream-colored carpet. Well, at least the cornstarch covering the mochi blended in.

The other relatives continued milling around her, oblivious to the minor desecration to the New Year's decoration. Thank goodness for small...

A childish gasp made her turn. The human bullet who caused the whole mess, her little cousin Allison, stood with a hand up to her round lips that were stained cherry-red, probably from the sherbet punch. Allison lifted wide brown eyes up to Trish, hanaokolele-you're-in-trouble, while the other hand pointed to the mochi on the floor.

Trish didn't buy it for a second. "Want to help?" She tried to infuse some leftover Christmas cheer into her voice.

Allison's disdainful look could have come from a teenager rather than a seven-year-old. "You made the mess."

Trish sighed as she bent to pick up the mochi rice dumplings, one large like a hockey puck, the other slightly smaller, and the shihobeni paper they'd been sitting on. She wondered if the shihobeni wouldn't protect the house from fires this next year since she'd dropped it.

"Aunty spent so long putting those together."

Yeah, right. "Is that so?" She laid the paper on the table so it draped off the edge, then stuck the waxed paper on top. She anchored them with the larger mochi.

"Since you busted it, does it mean that Aunty won't have any good luck this year?"

"It's just a tradition. The mochi doesn't really bring prosperity, and the tangerine only symbolizes the family generations." Trish tried to artfully stack the smaller mochi on top of the bottom one, but it wouldn't balance and kept dropping back onto the table.

"That's not what Aunty said."

"She's trying to pass on a New Year's tradition." The smaller mochi dropped to the floor again. "One day you'll have one of these in your own house." Trish picked up the mochi. Stupid Japanese New Year tradition. Last year, sheíd glued hers together until Mom found out and brought a new set to her apartment, sans-glue. Trish wasn't even Shinto. Neither was anyone else in her family, most of them were Buddhists, but it was something they did because their family had always done it.

"No, I'm going to live at home and take care of Mommy."

Thank goodness, the kid finally switched topics. "That's wonderful." Trish tried to smash the tangerine on top of the teetering stack of mochi. Nope, not going to fly. "You're such a good daughter."

Allison sighed happily. "I am."

Your ego's going to be too big for this living room, toots. "Um, let's go to the kitchen." She crammed the tangerine on the mochi stack, then turned to hustle Allison away before she saw them fall back down onto the floor.

"Uh, Triiiish?"

She almost ran over the kid, who had whirled around and halted in her path like a guardian lion. Preventing Trish's entry into the kitchen. And blocking the way to the food. She tried to sidestep, but the other relatives in their conversational clusters, oblivious to her, hemmed her in on each side.

Allison sidled closer. "Happy New Year!"

"Uh, Happy New Year." What was she up to? Trish wouldn't put anything past her devious little brain.

"We get red envelopes at New Year's." Her smile took on a predatory gleam.

"Yes, we do." One tradition she totally didn't mind. Even the older cousins like Trish and Lex got some money from the older relatives, because they weren't married yet.

Allison beamed. "So did you bring me a red envelope?"

What? Wait a minute. Was she supposed to bring red envelopes for the younger kids? No, that couldn't be. "No, only the married people do that." And only for the great-cousins, not their first cousins, right? Or was that great-cousins, too? She couldn't remember.

Allison's face darkened to purple. "That's not true. Aunty gives me a red envelope and she's not married."

"She used to be married. Uncle died."

"She's not married now. So you're supposed to give me a red envelope, too."

Yeah, right. "If I gave out a red envelope to every cousin and great-cousin, I'd go bankrupt."

"You're lying. I'm going to tell Mommy." Allison pouted, but her sly eyes gave her away.

A slow, steady burn crept through her body. This little extortionist wasn't going to threaten her, not tonight of all nights.

She crouched down to meet Allison at eye level and forced a smile. "That's not very nice. That's spreading lies."

Allison bared her teeth in something faintly like a grin.

"It's not good to be a liar." Trish smoothed the girl's red velvet dress, trimmed in white lace.

"You're the liar. You said you're not supposed to give me a red envelope, and that's a lie."

The brat had a one-track mind. "It's not a lie."

"Then I'll ask Mommy." The grin turned sickeningly sweet.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Trish tweaked one of Allison's curling-iron-manufactured corkscrews, standing out amongst the rest of her straight hair.

"I can do whatever I want." An ugly streak marred the angelic mask.

"Of course you can."

Allison blinked.

"But if you do, I'll tell Grandma that I found her missing jade bracelet in your bedroom." Gotcha.

"What were you doing in my bedroom?" Allison's face matched her dress.

Trish widened her eyes. "Well, you left it open when your mom hosted the family Christmas party..."

Allison's lips disappeared in her face, and her nostrils flared. "You're lying!"

"And you know Grandma will ask your mommy to search your room."

Her face whitened.

"So why don't we forget about this little red envelope thing, hmm?" Trish straightened the gold heart pendant on Allison's necklace and gave her a bland smile.

A long, loud inhale filled Allison's lungs. For a second, Trish panicked, worried that she'd scream or something, but the air left her noiselessly.

Trish stood. "See ya." She muscled her way past the human traffic cone.

She zeroed in on the kitchen counters like a heat-seeking missile. "Hey, guys."

Her cousins Venus, Lex, and Jenn turned to greet her.

"You're even later than Lex." Venus leaned her sexy-enough-to-make-Trish-sick curves against a countertop as she crunched on a celery stick.

"Hey!" Lex nudged her with a bony elbow, then spoke to Trish. "Grandma's not here yet, but your mom..."

"Trish, there you are." Mom flittered up. "Did you eat yet? Let me fill you a plate. Make sure you eat the kuromame for good luck. I know you don't like chestnuts and black beans, but just eat one. Did you want any konbu? Seaweed is very good for you."

"No, Mom!"

"How about Aunty Eileen's soup? I'm not sure what's in it this year, but it doesn't look like tripe this time."

"Mom, I can get my own food."

"Of course you can, dear." Mom handed her a mondo-sized plate.

Trish grabbed it, then eyed Venus's miniscule plate filled sparingly with meat, fish, and veggies. Aw, phooey. Why did Venus have to always be watching her hourglass figure, with inhuman self-control over her calorie intake, making Trish feel dumpy just for eating a potsticker? She replaced her plate with a smaller one.

Lex had a platter loaded with chicken and lo mein, which she shoveled into her mouth. "The noodles are good."

"Why are you eating so much today?"

"Aiden's got me in intensive training for the volleyball tournament coming up."

Trish turned toward the groaning sideboard to hide the pang in her gut at mention of Lex's boyfriend. Who had been Trish's physical therapist. Aiden hadn't met Lex yet when Trish had hit on him, but he'd rebuffed her, rather harshly, she thought - then became Christian and now was living a happily-ever-after with Lex.

Trish wasn't jealous at all.

Why did she always seem to chase away the good ones and keep the bad ones? Story of her life. Her taste in men matched Lex's horrendous taste in clothes, Lex wore nothing but ugly, loose workout clothes, while Trish dated nothing but ugly (well, in character, at least) losers.

Next to her, Jennifer inhaled as if she were in pain. "Grandma's here."

"No, not now. This is so not fair. I haven't eaten yet."

"It'll still be here." Venus's caustic tone cut through the air at the same time her hand grabbed Trish's plate. "Besides, you're eating too much fat."

Trish glared. "I am not fat!"

Venus gave a long-suffering sigh. "I didn't say you were fat. I said you're eating unhealthily."

"You wouldn't say that to Lex." She stabbed a finger at her athletic cousin, who was shoveling chicken long rice into her mouth.

Lex paused. "She already did." She slurped up a rice noodle.

Venus rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. "All of you eat terribly. You need to stop putting so much junk into your bodies."

"I will when Jenn stops giving us to-die-for homemade chocolate truffles." Trish traded a high-five with Jenn, their resident culinary genius.

"Besides, chocolate's good for you." Lex spoke through a mouthful of black bean shrimp.

Venus, who seemed to know she was losing the battle, brandished a celery stick. "You all should eat more fiber."

Trish snatched at a deep-fried chicken wing and made a face at her. "It's low carb." Although she'd love to indulge in just a little of those Chinese noodles later when Venus wasn't looking!"

She only had time to take a couple bites before she had to drop the chicken in a napkin and wipe her fingers. She skirted the edge of the crowd of relatives who collected around Grandma, wishing her Happy New Year.

Grandma picked up one of Trish's cousin's babies and somehow managed to keep the sticky red film coating his hands from her expensive Chanel suit. How did Grandma do that? It must be a gift. The same way her elegant salt-and-pepper 'do never had a hair out of place.

Then Grandma grabbed someone who had been hovering at her shoulder and thrust him forward.

No. Way.

What was Kazuo doing here?

With Grandma?

Her breath caught as the familiar fluttering started in her ribcage. No, no, no, no, no. She couldn't react this way to him again. That's what got her in trouble the last time.

Trish grabbed Jenn's arm and pulled her back toward the kitchen. "I have to hide."

Jenn's brow wrinkled. "Why?"

"That's Kazuo."

Jenn's eyes popped bigger than the moon cakes on the sideboard. "Really? I never met him." She twisted her head.

"Don't look. Hide me."

Jenn sighed. "Isn't that a little silly? He's here for the New Year's party."

Trish darted her gaze around the kitchen, through the doorway to the smaller TV room. "There are over a hundred people here. There's a good chance I can avoid him."

"He probably came to see you." A dreamy smile lit Jenn's lips. "How romantic!"

A mochi-pounding mallet thumped in the pit of Trish's stomach. Romantic this was not.

"What's wrong?" Venus and Lex separated from the crowd to circle around her.

"That's Kazuo."

"Really?" Lex whirled around and started to peer through the doorway into the front room. "We never met him!"

"Don't look now! Hide me!"

Venus lifted a sculpted eyebrow. "Oh, come on."

"How does Grandma know him?" Jennifer's soothing voice fizzled Venus's sarcasm.

"She met him when we were dating."

"Grandma loves Kazuo." Lex tossed the comment over her shoulder as she stood at the doorway and strained to see Kazuo past the milling relatives.

Venus's brow wrinkled. "Loves him? Why?"

Trish threw her hands up in the air. "He's a Japanese national. He spoke Japanese to her. Of course she'd love him."

Jennifer chewed her lip. "Grandma's not racist."

Venus snorted. "Of course she's not racist, but she's certainly biased."

"That's not a good enough reason. Don't you think there's something fishy about why she wants Trish to get back together with him?"

Venus opened her mouth, but nothing came out. After a moment, she closed it. "Maybe you're right."

Trish flung her arms out. "But I have no idea what that reason is."

"So is she matchmaking? Now?"

"What better place?" Trish pointed to the piles of food. "Fatten me up and serve me back to him on a platter."

Venus rolled her eyes. "Trish!"

"I'm serious. No way am I going to let her do that. Not with him." The last man on earth she wanted to see. Well, that wasn't exactly true. Her carnal body certainly wanted to see him, even though her brain and spirit screamed, Run away! Run away!

"Was it that bad a breakup?" Lex looked over her shoulder at them.

Trish squirmed. "I, uh - I don't think he thinks we're broken up."

"What do you mean? It happened six months ago." Venus's gaze seemed to slice right through her.

"Well, I saw him a couple days ago."

Venus's eyes flattened. "And?"

Trish blinked rapidly. "We... got along really well."

Venus crossed her arms and glared.

How did Venus do that? Trish barely had to open her mouth and Venus knew when she was lying. "We, um, got along really well."

Jennifer figured it out first. She gasped so hard, Trish worried she'd pass out from lack of oxygen.

Venus cast a sharp look at her, then back at Trish. Her mouth sprang open. "You didn't."

"Didn't what?" Lex rejoined the circle and the drama unfolding. She peered at Jenn and Venus, one frozen in shock, the other white with anger.

Trish's heart shrank in her chest. She bit her lip and tasted blood. She couldn't look at her cousins. She couldn't even say it.

Venus said it for her. "You slept with him again."

Lex's jaw dropped. "Tell me you didn't." The hurt in her eyes stabbed at Trish's heart like Norman Bates in Psycho.

Well, it was true that Trish's obsessive relationship with Kazuo had made her sort of completely and utterly abandon Lex last year when she tore her ACL. Lex probably felt like Trish was priming to betray her again. "It was only once. I couldn't help myself."

"After everything you told me last year about how you never asked God about your relationship with Kazuo and now you were free." Lex's eyes grew dark and heavy, and Trish remembered the night Lex had first torn her ACL. Trish had been too selfish, wanting to spend time with Kazuo instead of helping Lex home from one of the most devastating things that had ever happened to her.

"I just couldn't help myself." Trish couldn't seem to say anything else.

"So is Kazuo more important to you than me, after all?" Lex's face had turned into cold, pale marble, making her eyes stand out in their intensity.

A sickening ache gnawed in Trish's stomach. She hunched her shoulders, feeling the muscles tighten and knot.

Her cousins had always been compassionate whenever she hurt them, betrayed them, or caused them hassle and stress by the things she did. She knew she had a tendency to be thoughtless, but she had always counted on their instant hugs and "That's okay, Trish, we'll fix it for you." But now she realized, although they forgave her, they were still hurt each and every time. Maybe this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"Where's Trish?" Grandma's refined voice managed to carry above the conversations. "I'm sure she wants to see you." She was coming closer to the kitchen.

"I can't face him." Trish barely recognized her own voice, as thready as old cobwebs. "I can't face Grandma, either." A tremor rippled through her body.

Venus's eyes softened in understanding. "I'll stall them for you."

Trish bolted.

Out the other doorway into the living room. She dodged around a few relatives who were watching sports highlights on the big-screen TV. She spied the short hallway to Aunty's bedroom. She could hide. Recoup. Or panic.

She slipped down the hallway and saw the closed door at the end. A narrow beam of faint light from under it cast a glow over the carpet. Her heart started to slow.

Maybe she could lie down, pretend she was sick? No, Grandma might suggest Kazuo take her home.

She could pretend she got a phone call, an emergency at work. Would Grandma know there weren't many emergencies with cell biology research on New Year's Eve?

The worst part was, Trish hadn't even gotten to eat yet.

She turned the doorknob, but it stuck. Must be the damp weather. She applied her shoulder and nudged. The door clicked open. She slipped into the bedroom.

A couple stood in the dim lamplight, locked in a passionate embrace straight out of Star magazine. Trish's heart lodged in her throat. Doh! Leave now! She whirled.

Wait a minute.

She turned.

The man had dark wavy hair, full and thick. His back was turned to her, but something about his stance...

The couple sprang apart. Looked at her.

Dad.

Kissing a woman who wasn't her mother.




Taken from Only Uni, Copyright © 2008 by Camy Tang. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Nancy Drew" - Great Family Movie!


Every once in awhile a movie comes along that you actually want to watch with your family, this week it finally happened again. I went to Blockbuster to rent The Bee Movie for the kids as they had really been wanting to see it, turns out Nancy Drew came out at the same time and I didn't realize that (commercials for The Bee Movie everywhere, Nancy Drew, nope). So I picked it up too. I watched it last night with my 3 older kids (8, 10, 11) and we all loved it! (Yes, even the 10 year old boy.)

When I watch a movie, I'm always careful to look for things that make me feel uncomfortable when there are kids in the room. I am happy to say, that I didn't feel that at any point in Nancy Drew. It was a fun, quirky story of the idealistic teenager that just has a knack (and an itch) for answering the questions that no one else has been able to answer. So her dad has to go to California for a case (he's a lawyer) and Nancy is going with him. He just asks her to give up sleuthing while they are there and be a normal teenager so that he doesn't have to worry about her while they're there. She tries, she really does - she makes valiant efforts even, but alas, the mystery just kind of seeks her out... so what's a girl to do? She has to solve the case.
One of my favorite things about this movie is that Nancy is kind of stuck in the early 60's and yet she doesn't conform to the California kids, she just lives her life - my girls and I think the dress she wears to her birthday party is the prettiest dress ever! Emma Roberts does a fantastic job as Nancy Drew and I really hope they make a follow-up to this one. I will probably add it to our dvd library!