Saturday, January 31, 2009

Book of the Year 2008 Awards!

End of 2008
Cornhusker Academy
Book of the Year Winners!

****And here we have it everyone - all the winners have been revealed! Drawings start up again on Sunday (25th) and then more on Thursday (29th) and more on the following Sunday (1st). So there you have it!**** And as a reminder, if the link is still up on the left under giveaways then the contest is still open - when the link is gone the contest is closed!

I will be revealing my choice for winners in 3 different categories this year:
Most Entertaining Book of 2008
Most Life Changing Book of 2008
Most Awesome YA Book of 2008
There will be an honorable mention and 8 places given out in each category and they were chosen out of the 220 books I read over this year. They were not necessarily published in 2008 although most of them were.

I will be revealing the winners 1 or 2 a day between Christmas Day and when I am finished, some of it will depend on when I get the interview questions back from the authors.

There are some awesome interviews coming up and some amazing giveaways as well, check back daily. I will add the links to the interviews/reviews here as they are revealed!
Thanks for stopping by and please leave your comments to win on the individual posts...
Most Entertaining Books of 2008
1. "The Restorer's Son" & "Restorer's Journey" by Sharon Hinck
2. "A Passion Most Pure" & "A Passion Redeemed" by Julie Lessman
3. "Shadow of Colossus" by TL Higley
4."Only Uni" & "Single Sashimi" by Camy Tang
5. "Sweet Caroline" & "Love Starts With Elle" by Rachel Hauck
6. "Amber Morn" by Brandilyn Collins
7. "Murder, Mayhem & a Fine Man" & "Death, Deceit & some Smooth Jazz"
by Claudia Mair Burney
8. "Before The Season Ends" by Linore Rose Burkard (winner - Lora L.)
H.M. - "Sandhill Dreams" & "Captive Dreams" by Cara Putman (winners - Karen P. & reborn butterfly)

Most Life Changing Books of 2008
1. "The Shack" by William P. Young
2. "So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore?" by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman
3. "The Listener" by Terri Blackstock
4. "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris
5. "John 3:16" by Nancy Moser
6. "Heavenly Places" by Kimberly Cash Tate
7. "Havah" - the story of Eve" by Tosca Lee
8. "Every Good & Perfect Gift" by Sharon K. Souza (winner - Valorie)
H.M. "Bringing Home The Prodigals" by Rob Parsons

Most Awesome YA Books of 2008
1. "Finding Hollywood Nobody", "Romancing Hollywood Nobody" & "Goodbye Hollywood Nobody" by Lisa Samson
2. "Dreamhouse Kings Series" by Robert Liparulo (House of Dark Shadows, Watcher in the Woods)
3. "Sweet Seasons Series" by Debbie Viguie (Summer of Cotton Candy, Fall of Candy Corn, Winter of Candy Cane)
4. "DragonLight" (Dragon Keeper Chronicles Series) by Donita Paul
5. "Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione" by Chuck Black
6. "The Book of Names" by D. Barkley Briggs
7. "Where Would Cows Hide" by D.C. Stewart
Special Addition - "All About Us" series by Shelley Adina
8. "Runaway" by Dandi Daley Mackall
H.M. "Sydney Claire" and "Mesi" by Pam Davis

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Gatekeepers" by Robert Liparulo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Dreamhouse Kings #3)

Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)


Robert Liparulo


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

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

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

And his third book Deadfall. debuted to rave reviews!


Bob Liparulo wants to give away a signed 3 book set of the DreamHouse Kings books! Send an email to Bob [at] Liparulo [dot] com and put "CFBA" in the subject line. He will pick a winner next week!!!!

In the third novel of this young adult series, the mystery deepens in a house that is more than meets the eye.

The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they've experienced enough terror to last a lifetime. And the mystery is growing even more baffling. Shadowy and shifting, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams-and the slightest misstep can change history forever.

At least, that's if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. "There's a reason you're in the house," he tells them. "As gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future."

The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren't enough, the Kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side-like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.

It's hard to believe that things could have gotten worse for the King family-but they have. Dad's in handcuffs, the school bully has just found the secret portal that leads from the high school to the house, and Xander is sure he's found Mom, but they can't get back to her. Then Jesse arrives, and he seems to be a virtual Obi Wan of knowledge about the place. But is he the key they need to unlock the secrets, or just a crazy old man?

Dangers are increasing from within and without when Xander makes a startling discovery that explains why they haven't found any rooms that lead to the future. Alongside the threats, though, they're also starting to find some surprising allies.
All they have to do is get organized, get psyched, and get Mom. But that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother-and discover how truly high the stakes have become.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gatekeepers
(Dreamhouse Kings #3)
, go HERE

What they're saying:

"If you like creepy and mysterious, this is the house for you! Every room opens a door to magic, true horror, and amazing surprises. I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?" --R.L. Stine (Goosebumps)

"A powerhouse storyteller delivers his most fantastic ride yet!"
-Ted Dekker, bestselling author of Kiss, Chosen and Infidel


At this point any of my regular readers know how I feel about this series by Robert Liparulo. I LOVE it! Read my interview with Robert here and leave a comment on this post if you would like an extra entry in the giveaway for the first 2 books in this series.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The Red Siren" by ML Tyndall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Red Siren

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


M.L. Tyndall


I love ML and her pirate books! This looks like a great start to a new series :-)


M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include:The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption and The Falcon And The Sparrow


Lady Faith Westcott has turned her back on God and on man. Having witnessed the hypocrisy in the Church of England, her older sister's abuse at the hand of her husband, and her own mother's untimely
death in childbirth, Faith has determined never to marry and to gain enough wealth so she and her two sisters will never have to depend on man or God again.

To that end, though a lady by day, she becomes a pirate by night and begins her sordid career off Portsmouth when she attacks and plunders a merchant ship commanded by the young Dajon Waite. Humiliated at being defeated by a pirate and a woman no less, Dajon returns home without cargo and ship, and his father expels him from the family merchant business.

After a brief sojourn into debased society, Dajon rejoins the Royal Navy, where he finds comfort in the strict rules and redemption through his service to others. Three years later, he is sent to the frontier outpost of Charles Town, South Carolina to deal with the pirate problem. There, he connects with his mentor and old friend, Admiral Westcott, who has just arrived with his three daughters.

Much to Dajon's utter dismay, Admiral Westcott, who is being called away to Spain, asks Dajon to be temporary guardian of his three lovely daughters. One of the ladies seems familiar to him, a striking redhead who immediately sends his heart thumping.

Faith recognizes Captain Waite as the buffoon whose ship she plundered off Portsmouth. Yet, he appears no longer the fool, but instead a tall, handsome and commanding naval officer. Despite her immediate attraction to him, she labels him the enemy, but sparks are guaranteed to fly during the next few months when independent, headstrong and rebellious Faith falls in love with God-fearing honorable, rule-following Dajon-especially when Faith continues her pirating off the Carolina coast while her father is away.

Will Dajon catch her? And what will this man of honor and duty do when he does?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Red Siren, go HERE

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winners, Winners and more Winners!!!

And the winners are...

Okay everyone, here are the winners of the last round of drawings - if you are on this list contact me by email at -

ryanx6 at msn dot com

and give me your name and address so I can forward it to the author (or me if I'm the one sending it out *grin* )

I had to redraw for the winner of the Nebraska Dreams trilogy by Cara Putman and the winner is - Karin56381

Bringing Home the Prodigals by Rob Parsons - Jamerican Spice

Havah by Tosca Lee - Lora Lease

Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney - Abi (A Breading 4 Fun...)

Wounded by Claudia Mair Burney - MJ (MJ.Coward...)

Heavenly Places by Kimberly Cash Tate - Cara

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins - Carolynn W.

Girls 'N Grace books by Pam Davis - Melissa & hippmom

Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck - The Giveaway Diva

It's All About Us Series by Shelley Adina - Kate (glittergurl04...)

Congratulations everyone - the other giveaways are open for a little longer - a new round of drawings will happen this weekend!

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Wild Things - The Art of Nurturing Boys" Book Review

"Wild Things - The Art of Nurturing Boys"

Looking for answers on how to raise boys?
Ever wonder…
• Why can’t he sit still?
• Is he hearing a word I say?
• Why is he angry all the time?
Boys are born to be wild. Their strong spirit, endless imagination, and hunger for adventure are only matched by their deep desire to be affirmed, esteemed, and loved. In their new book "Wild Things", therapists Stephen James and David Thomas help parents and educators understand what exactly makes boys tick.


I have been reading "Wild Things" and being the mother of 3 boys myself I am very impressed by what I have read so far. The book is broken down into different age groups of boys and I have Stephen in The Lovers group (5-8 years) and Philip in The Individual group (9-12). They nailed Stephen to a tee and Philip is pretty close (he is also not your typical boy). Each age group is then broken into:
1) The Way of a Boy
2) The Mind of a Boy
3) The Heart of a Boy
And then there is a Hot Topics section toward the back and I don't agree with everything in the Hot Topics section, but that would be why they are Hot Topics, right? The only thing I have personally disagreed with so far is that "Love and Logic" is recommended by the authors and I don't agree with Love and Logic methods. So like most parenting stuff out there, you have to take some of it with a grain of salt. But overall these guys got it right, especially when it comes to helping you understand your sons by breaking them down into age groups and heart, mind and behavior. I would recommend this book - I'm actually considering putting together a mom's book study on it because I think it is so beneficial.

1. In your last book, How to Hit a Curveball, Grill the Perfect Steak, and Become a Real Man, you addressed a lot of fatherhood issues about rearing boys. How is your new book, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, different?

How to Hit a Curveball felt like a perfect introduction to this book. That book challenges men to take a good look at themselves, their experience of being boys themselves and how they were (or weren’t) fathered. We strongly believe that men can’t father well outside of paying attention to their own stories. Whether we like it or not, we are all creatures of habit. We gravitate back toward what we know – good or bad. That book was an invitation to look a little closer at both.

Wild Things is an invitation to take a closer look at your son. This book is a comprehensive look at boy development from birth to young adulthood. In addition to laying out the biology of a boy, we also look at the mind of a boy and the heart of a boy. We break down what a boy needs from his mom and from his dad in every stage of his development. We also hit on all the hot topics surrounding boys, everything from the impact of media to substance abuse, the role of sports, and sex and dating.

2. You address five key stages that a boy goes through on his journey to becoming a man. What stage is the most difficult for most boys to navigate?

Each of the stages holds unique challenges. We worked hard to break down each stage in a way that is easy to digest. We think that that parents and educators will walk away with a clearer understanding of a boy’s unique design in each stage and some practical ideas in how to care for him within that stage of his development.

In many ways Wild Things is the kind of thing that you don’t just read once. It is more like an entertaining reference guide that parents and teachers can go back to time and time again for encouragement, insight, and direction.

But if we had to identify one stage as the most challenging, though, we’d have to say the Wanderer stage (13-17). This window of a young man’s development is plagued by physical and emotional change. A colleague of mine, who is pediatrician, said boys in this stage are 98% hormone, which translates to their being so emotional. A part of their developmental agenda is moving toward independence and pulling away. He’s often times the most distant and hard to read in this stage, which greatly complicates the process of letting him go and trusting him with more independence. And it is during this stage that is has the ability to make decisions that will effect the rest of his life. The risks are real and boys in this stage lack the ability to choose wisely with their future in sight.

3. What mistakes have parents and educators made in their approach to rearing and training boys?

For me (Stephen) the consistent mistake my wife and I make is that we over explain and over verbalize with our sons. This is a problem that is very common. In parenting boys, adults tend to talk to them and at them a great deal. We talk and talk and talk and end up sounding a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher. “Whah, whah, whah.” In Wild Things we offer a number of different strategies for engaging and educating boys that better match their unique design. Boys learn through experience and physical repetition. They need consistent firm boundaries and loads of encouragement.

As far as school goes we speak a lot in the book that the compulsory model we use for schooling in the United States is generally well-suited to a girl’s learning style. It’s heavy on verbal and written expression, two particular areas of strength for most girls. It involves a good deal of sitting still for extended periods of time with mostly auditory instruction. These methods don’t match a boy’s way of learning or draw on his learning strengths.

4. Who are the most important role models in a boy’s life?

There is no question that a boy’s parents play a foundational role in the man he becomes. In Wild Things we have a chapter that specifically address a mother’s relationship with her son as well as a chapter that addresses a father’s relationship with his son. But it doesn’t stop there for boys. There is great truth to the old African proverb that says “it takes a village.” We talk early in the book about how a boy begins to hunger for other voices and a part of our role is to put them in his way, so that he ends up with this community of individuals who believe in him and hold him up.

5. What kinds of things can a father do to bond with his son and raise him to be emotionally mature?

One of the first things we’d challenge a dad to do is to pay attention to his own story. That was a central purpose in our book How to Hit a Curve Ball, Grill the Perfect Steak and Become a Real Man: Learning the Lessons our Fathers Never Taught Us. Unless we understand how our stories inform who we are as men, husbands, and fathers, we stand to make a number of significant mistakes with our own sons. So before a man starts making a list of things to “do” with his son, we’d encourage him to start with himself. That step doesn’t involve his son at all, but is one of the most powerful ways to love and care for him.

That step gives way to the second step. In order for a father to raise an emotionally mature young man, he must be an emotionally healthy man himself. A boy desperately needs a dad who has an interior life. Our culture is flooded with emotionally stunted, emotionally damaged males. There’s no shortage there. Men have a responsibility to lead their son’s in living from their hearts. Women can’t really teach boys how to do this. Mom’s can invite it and encourage it, but the action of it must be modeled by a man.

Thirdly, we’d challenge dads to study his son in search of his boy’s definition of enjoyment. That’s different for every boy. We both have a set of twin boys. Two males with identical genetic ingredients and yet the outcome couldn’t be any more different. These guys, born within minutes of one another, have different passions, different strengths, and different longings. And they experience enjoyment in some similar ways as well as some different ways. We are both on a long journey of discovering what that is. Just as soon as we get a handle on it, it can change just as his development does. So it’s a long journey of studying these boys and pursuing their passions and their hearts.

6. People often talk about the father’s role in teaching a boy to be a man, but a mother’s relationship is important too. What are some mistakes a mother can make?

A mother’s role is so very important. That message is woven throughout Wild Things. There is so much to the answer to this question. You’ll need to read the book to get a comprehensive look at your role throughout his development. We talk a lot with mom’s about two unique callings within their role, both of which lend themselves to mistakes and potential harm to the mother-son relationship. To boil it down though to a couple of things we would say 1) The first is being safe and 2) the second is letting go. We break both of those down in great detail within the book. By being safe we mean a mothers ability to let her son be a boy. By letting go we mean a mother’s willingness to let her boy become a man. We speak a whole lot more to this throughout the book. It’s such a big question, and an important question for moms to consider.

7. If you could give once piece of advice to parents and educators reading this book, what would it be?

The study of a boy is such a worthwhile use of your time and resources. Boys are complex, imaginative, mysterious, brilliant, challenging, creative, strong, tender, courageous beings—and each is unique. Parenting and educating them is a wonderful, difficult, complex, enjoyable, physical, emotional, delightful, maddening journey. Our hope is that Wild Things is a useful guide along that journey.

If we have to give one piece of advice it would be for parents and educators to continue to invest in their own emotional and spiritual maturity. Growing yourself is the best gift you can give a boy you love.


You’ve gained some valuable advice, but there’s more! If you would like to learn more from these parenting experts about raising boys, you can order a copy of Wild Things through
Based on clinical research, Stephen James and David Thomas have filled Wild Things with practical tips and suggestions for parents. They guide readers through the five stages of a boy’s development, providing an overview and explanation of each stage, followed by a plan to put new principles into action. Pick up a copy today!

Stephen James, M.A., and David Thomas, M.S.S.W., are speakers, authors, and therapists who work directly with boys and their families. They also travel around the country, speaking on parenting and marriage communication, and they have been dynamic guests on CBN’s Living the Life, Good Day Atlanta, WGN Midday News, Moody’s Midday Connection, and other radio programs coast to coast. Learn more at

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The 1st Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...

The 1st Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...
The Shack
by William P. Young

Controversy. This book has certainly caused plenty of it. Just go look at the reviews on and see what I mean - almost 2400 reviews have been done on this book - and while around 360 only gave it one star - over 1600 gave it 5 stars. And I find most of the people that don't like this book tend to be filled with the spirit of religion and they couldn't see fresh insight and wisdom if it punched them in the face. *grin*

For me personally, this book was an eye-opener to things deeper spiritually. I was raised in a Christian home and accepted Jesus when I was 8. I have never gone into a deep backslide, things haven't always been perfect, but I've never strayed from God. But I think there are some basic truths in the Bible that we as people tend to overlook, or maybe its just that we can't grasp it in our human minds - but these are some of the things that made this book so amazing to me...

1) Jesus is pictured as a man who desires to be our friend and confidante. Plain and simple. How many of us actually talk to Jesus like we would talk to our best friend over a coke? The Shack illustrates that.

2) The Holy Spirit is visualized beautifully as moving and vibrant with colors, changing and shifting and like a hummingbird - impossible to catch but all around. There are conversations that will open your eyes to who the Holy Spirit really is.

3) Probably the biggest controversy is over how God is portrayed and I think that is tragic. We try and put God in a box (a very small box) and in this book God breaks out of that box - and it really showed me that we don't allow ourselves to see all aspects of God - CS Lewis portrays Jesus as Aslan the lion, God created man, woman and all animals - why do we limit him to a man?

Forgiveness, Grace, Peace, Love and many other issues are dealt with in ways that will blow your mind. The beauty of this book is that it is fiction - FICTION people! There is a story, plot and characters to drive the spiritual wisdom and insight in it. Too many critics have tried to discredit this book as having false teachings and theology - to them I say this :

It is a fictional work - not the word of God and William P. Young has never claimed otherwise!

I am proud to say that you can win a copy of this book by leaving a comment on this post (with your email) telling me what intrigues you most about this book! If you already have a copy but would like to win one for a friend - by all means go ahead and enter - and good luck!

****Be warned - this book is a two read book - you read it once to get the storyline and mystery figured out and glimpse some of the wisdom available - you read it a second time to soak up the insight and underline a lot! ****

I am very pleased that I was able to get this interview with Mr. Young and it came back to me just in time (yesterday :-) so sit back and see insight into the man who wrote the book that stirred a nation - let's meet William P. Young...

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?"

I actually can resist most desserts. I do like fresh mango or papaya, or a really good bran muffin (weird eh?), good just baked apple pie or strawberry-rhubarb. A bowl of vanilla ice cream will usually do the trick too.

2) Mr. Young, you have managed to singlehandedly write the most amazing and controversial book I've heard of since the Bible. Did you ever dream that this book would stir so many passionate feelings in people?

Not at all...I wrote a story at Kim's (my wife) encouragement and wanted to get it done by Christmas 2005, nothing more and nothing less. So I perceive this as totally a 'God-thing' and therefore take no credit for its positive impact (which I am grateful to be a part of) nor for the controversy it has stirred (which I think is also essentially positive in that it has helped to raise a conversation in the culture). I see Papa's interference in all of this. :)

3) I think one of the main issues that people have with The Shack is that they have trouble discerning fact from fiction. (It clearly states fiction on the back of the book) There is an amazing storyline running through the book with Mack and his daughter Missy that has a touch of mystery to it that keeps people frantically turning pages until the end. So my question is... is there any truth to that storyline or is it completely fictional?

I like to tell people that it is a true story, just not a parable. I wrote it for my children (6 kids ages 15-28), so it has a lot of me and my history in it, but it is fundamentally fiction - I never lost my own child to an abductor, although we had a 6 month period in which Kim's mom died suddenly at age 59, my 18 year old brother Stephen was killed, and my niece Jennifer was killed the day after her 5th birthday. We know the pain of loss. The story is actually deeper than that, a metaphor for my own person history. As a writer from Nashville wrote in an email, "Paul, I don't know much about your own personal history, but my sense is that Missy represents something that was murdered in you as a child, and Mackenzie is you as an adult coming to terms with it." She is spot on!

4) I call this book a "two time book". In other words you really have to read it two times, once to follow the storyline and dip into the waters of spiritual insight in it and then a second time to underline, journal and soak in the deep pools of wisdom between the covers. There aren't a lot of books that fall into this category, but there are a few - tell us how you came to write this book - what was your inspiration?

That is a very kind description...thank you! The book is quite layered, so much so that in the beginnings the publisher/editors ask me to consider breaking the story into 3 books. I said no, wanting a 'big picture' book, the box top of the puzzle as it were, that would allow my children to see how their puzzle pieces of faith fit into the larger landscape of life in relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I wanted to ask many of the questions that I was not allowed to ask as a religious child, questions considered rebellious, unrighteous or sacrilegious. I chose the deepest pain because it asks the best questions.

5) I have read a few different books this year that have led me to believe that God is really trying to break out the box that we have imposed upon him. In The Shack you busted that box wide open with your portrayals of the Trinity. I tell people to keep an open mind when God enters the book, but I try not to spoil it for them - did you think that how God is portrayed would be such a big deal?

You must always keep in mind that I am writing this for my own family and a small group of friends, all who love me. So I was free to use whatever images I wanted. Little did I know. Some of the response is quite predictable, some is surprising, but the overwhelming response has been very positive and transformational. How cool is that!

6) My mother-in-law is in a Bible Study Group for The Shack right now. I have a close friend that just read the book this week and can't stop talking about it. I am still surprised by how many people (my husband included) haven't read The Shack yet. Some people view the controversy as a bad thing, but I am of the mind that important things can ignite passion in people be it for or against. The Shack has definitely done that. Will we see any other books from you in the future?

If I am alive and God wills. I have begun working on a book that tells the back story; what is the pain, the process reflected in the book...sort of, "Accidental Author's Journey to the Shack" - narrative auto-biography. Kim's encouragement again and I am glad to move in that direction. Also have some fiction perculating, but not a sequel...would rather leave well enough alone. Ultimately, I want to be involved with things that God is blessing and not spend my time trying to find things and convince Him they are worth his support.

7) Where can readers find you online?


Wm. Paul Young was born a Canadian and raised among a Stone Age tribe by his missionary parents in the highlands of former New Guinea. He suffered great loss as a child and young adult and now enjoys the "wastefulness of grace" with his family in the Pacific Northwest.

Visit the author's website.


A Confluence of Paths

Two roads diverged in the middle of my life,
I heard a wise man say
I took the road less traveled by
And that's made the difference every night and every day

—Larry Norman (with apologies to Robert Frost)

March unleashed a torrent of rainfall after an abnormally dry winter. A cold front out of Canada then descended and was held in place by a swirling wind that roared down the Gorge from eastern Oregon. Although spring was surely just around the corner, the god of winter was not about to relinquish its hard-won dominion without a tussle. There was a blanket of new snow in the Cascades, and rain was now freezing on impact with the frigid ground outside the house; enough reason for Mack to snuggle up with a book and a hot cider and wrap up in the warmth of a crackling fire.

But instead, he spent the better part of the morning telecommuting into his downtown desktop. Sitting comfortably in his home office wearing pajama pants and a T-shirt, he made his sales calls, mostly to the East Coast. He paused frequently, listening to the sound of crystalline rain tinging off his window and watching the slow but steady accumulation of frozen ice thickening on everything outside. He was becoming inexorably trapped as an ice—prisoner in his own home—much to his delight.

There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. And unlike illness, it is largely a corporate rather than individual experience. One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected this way are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologies needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry.

Of course, it is also true that storms interrupt business and, while a few companies make a bit extra, some companies lose money—meaning there are those who find no joy when everything shuts down temporarily. But they can't blame anyone for their loss of production, or for not being able to make it to the office. Even if it's hardly more than a day or two, somehow each person feels like the master of his or her own world, simply because those little droplets of water freeze as they hit the ground.

Even commonplace activities become extraordinary. Routine choices become adventures and are often experienced with a sense of heightened clarity. Late in the afternoon, Mack bundled up and headed outdoors to struggle the hundred or so yards down the long driveway to the mailbox. The ice had magically turned this simple everyday task into a foray against the elements: the raising of his fist in opposition to the brute power of nature and, in an act of defiance, laughing in its face. The fact that no one would notice or care mattered little to him—just the thought made him smile inside.

The icy rain pellets stung his cheeks and hands as he carefully worked his way up and down the slight undulations of the driveway; he looked, he supposed, like a drunken sailor gingerly heading toward the next watering hole. When you face the force of an ice storm, you don't exactly walk boldly forward in a show of unbridled confidence. Bluster will get you battered. Mack had to get up off his knees twice before he was finally hugging the mailbox like some long-lost friend.

He paused to take in the beauty of a world engulfed in crystal. Everything reflected light and contributed to the heightened brilliance of the late afternoon. The trees in the neighbor's field had all donned translucent mantles and each now stood unique but unified in their presentation. It was a glorious world and for a brief moment its blazing splendor almost lifted, even if only for a few seconds, The Great Sadness from Mack's shoulders.

It took almost a minute to knock off the ice that had already sealed shut the door of the mailbox. The reward for his efforts was a single envelope with only his first name typewritten on the outside; no stamp, no postmark, and no return address. Curious, he tore the end off the envelope, which was no easy task with fingers beginning to stiffen from the cold. Turning his back to the breath-snatching wind, he finally coaxed the single small rectangle of unfolded paper out of its nest. The typewritten message simply said:

It's been a while. I've missed you.
I'll be at the shack next weekend if you
want to get together.

Mack stiffened as a wave of nausea rolled over him and then just as quickly mutated into anger. He purposely thought about the shack as little as possible and even when he did his thoughts were neither kind nor good. If this was someone's idea of a bad joke they had truly outdone themselves. And to sign it "Papa" just made it all the more horrifying.

"Idiot," he grunted, thinking about Tony the mailman; an overly friendly Italian with a big heart but little tact. Why would he even deliver such a ridiculous envelope? It wasn't even stamped. Mack angrily stuffed the envelope and note into his coat pocket and turned to start the slide back in the general direction of the house. Buffeting gusts of wind, which had initially slowed him, now shortened the time it took to traverse the mini glacier that was thickening beneath his feet.

He was doing just fine, thank you, until he reached that place in the driveway that sloped a little downward and to the left. Without any effort or intention he began to build up speed, sliding on shoes with soles that had about as much traction as a duck landing on a frozen pond. Arms flailing wildly in hopes of somehow maintaining the potential for balance, Mack found himself careening directly toward the only tree of any substantial size bordering the driveway—the one whose lower limbs he had hacked off only a few short months before. Now it stood eager to embrace him, half naked and seemingly anxious for a little retribution. In a fraction of a thought he chose the chicken's way out and tried to plop himself down by allowing his feet to slip out from under him—which is what they had naturally wanted to do anyway. Better to have a sore butt than pick slivers out of his face.

But the adrenaline rush caused him to over compensate, and in slow motion Mack watched his feet rise up in front of him as if jerked up by some jungle trap. He hit hard, back of the head first, and skidded to a heap at the base of the shimmering tree, which seemed to stand over him with a smug look mixed with disgust and not a little disappointment.

The world went momentarily black, or so it seemed. He lay there dazed and staring up into the sky, squinting as the icy precipitation rapidly cooled his flushed face. For a fleeting pause, everything felt oddly warm and peaceful, his ire momentarily knocked out by the impact. "Now, who's the idiot?" he muttered to himself, hoping that no one had been watching.

Cold was creeping quickly through his coat and sweater and Mack knew the ice rain that was both melting and freezing beneath him would soon become a major discomfort. Groaning and feeling like a much older man, he rolled onto his hands and knees. It was then that he saw the bright red skid mark tracing his journey from point of impact to final destination. As if birthed by the sudden awareness of his injury, a dull pounding began crawling up the back of his head. Instinctively, he reached for the source of the drum beat and brought his hand away bloody.

With rough ice and sharp gravel gouging his hands and knees, Mack half crawled and half slid until he eventually made it to a level part of the driveway. With not a little effort he was finally able to stand and gingerly inch his way toward the house, humbled by the powers of ice and gravity.

Once inside, Mack methodically shed the layers of outerwear as best he could, his half-frozen fingers responding with about as much dexterity as oversized clubs at the ends of his arms. He decided to leave the drizzly bloodstained mess right where he doffed it in the entryway and retreated painfully to the bathroom to examine his wounds. There was no question that the icy driveway had won. The gash on the back of his head was oozing around a few small pebbles still embedded in his scalp. As he had feared, a significant lump had already formed, emerging like a humpbacked whale breaching the wild waves of his thinning hair.

Mack found it a difficult chore to patch himself up by trying to see the back of his head using a small hand-held mirror that reflected a reverse image off the bathroom mirror. A short frustration later he gave up, unable to get his hands to go in the right directions and unsure which of the two mirrors was lying to him. By gingerly probing around the soggy gash he succeeded in picking out the biggest pieces of debris, until it hurt too much to continue. Grabbing some first-aid ointment and plugging the wound as best he could, he then tied a washcloth to the back of his head with some gauze he found in a bathroom drawer. Glancing at himself in the mirror, he thought he looked a little like some rough sailor out of Moby Dick. It made him laugh, then wince.

He would have to wait until Nan made it home before he would get any real medical attention; one of the many benefits of being married to a registered nurse. Anyway, he knew that the worse it looked the more sympathy he would get. There is often some compensation in every trial, if one looked hard enough. He swallowed a couple over-the-counter painkillers to dull the throbbing and limped toward the front entry.

Not for an instant had Mack forgotten about the note. Rummaging through the pile of wet and bloody clothing he finally found it in his coat pocket, glanced at it and then headed back into his office. He located the post office number and dialed it. As expected, Annie, the matronly postmaster and keeper of everyone's secrets, answered the phone. "Hi, is Tony in by chance?"

"Hey, Mack, is that you? Recognized your voice." Of course she did. "Sorry, but Tony ain't back yet. In fact I just talked to him on the radio and he's only made it halfway up Wildcat, not even to your place yet. Do ya need me to have him call ya, or would ya just like to leave a message?"

"Oh, hi. Is that you, Annie?" He couldn't resist, even though her Midwestern accent left no doubt. "Sorry, I was busy for a second there. Didn't hear a word you said."

She laughed. "Now Mack, I know you heard every word. Don't you be goin' and tryin' to kid a kidder. I wasn't born yesterday, ya know. Whaddya want me to tell him if he makes it back alive?"

"Actually, you already answered my question."

There was a pause at the other end. "Actually, I don't remember you askin' a question. What's wrong with you, Mack? Still smoking too much dope or do you just do that on Sunday mornings to make it through the church service?" At this she started to laugh, as if caught off guard by the brilliance of her own sense of humor.

"Now Annie, you know I don't smoke dope—never did, and don't ever want to." Of course Annie knew no such thing, but Mack was taking no chances on how she might remember the conversation in a day or two. Wouldn't be the first time that her sense of humor morphed into a good story that soon became "fact." He could see his name being added to the church prayer chain. "It's okay, I'll just catch Tony some other time, no big deal."

"Okay then, just stay indoors where it's safe. Don't ya know, an old guy like you coulda lost his sense of balance over the years. Wouldn't wanna see ya slip and hurt your pride. Way things are shapin' up, Tony might not make it up to your place at all. We can do snow, sleet, and darkness of night pretty well, but this frozen rain stuff. It's a challenge to be sure."

"Thanks, Annie. I'll try and remember your advice. Talk to you later. Bye now." His head was pounding more than ever; little trip hammers beating to the rhythm of his heart. "That's odd," he thought, "who would dare put something like that in our mailbox?" The painkillers had not yet fully kicked in, but were present enough to dull the edge of worry that he was starting to feel, and he was suddenly very tired. Laying his head down on the desk, he thought he had just dropped off to sleep when the phone startled him awake.

"Uh . . . hello?"

"Hi, love. You sound like you've been asleep." It was Nan, sounding unusually cheery, even though he felt he could hear the underlying sadness that lurked just beneath the surface of every conversation. She loved this kind of weather as much as he usually did. He switched on the desk lamp and glanced at the clock, surprised that he had been out for a couple hours.

"Uh, sorry. I guess I dozed off for a bit."

"Well, you sound a little groggy. Is everything all right?"

"Yup." Even though it was almost dark outside, Mack could see that the storm had not let up. It had even deposited low, and he knew some would eventually break from the weight, especially if the wind kicked up. "I had a little tussle with the driveway when I got the mail, but other than that, everything is fine. Where are you?"

"I'm still at Arlene's, and I think me and the kids'll spend the night here. It's always good for Kate to be around the family . . . seems to restore a little balance." Arlene was Nan's sister who lived across the river in Washington. "Anyway, it's really too slick to go out. Hopefully it'll break up by morning. I wish I had made it home before it got so bad, but oh well." She paused. "How's it up at the house?"

"Well, it's absolutely stunningly beautiful, and a whole lot safer to look at than walk in, trust me. I, for sure, don't want you to try and get up here in this mess. Nothing's moving. I don't even think Tony was able to bring us the mail."

"I thought you already got the mail?" she queried.

"Nope, I didn't actually get the mail. I thought Tony had already come and I went out to get it. There," he hesitated, looking down at the note that lay on the desk where he had placed it, "wasn't any mail yet. I called Annie and she said Tony probably wouldn't be able to make it up the hill, and I'm not going out there again to see if he did.

"Anyway," he quickly changed the subject to avoid more questions, "how is Kate doing over there?"

There was a pause and then a long sigh. When Nan spoke her voice was hushed to a whisper and he could tell she was covering her mouth on the other end. "Mack, I wish I knew. She is just like talking to a rock, and no matter what I do I can't get through. When we're around family she seems to come out of her shell some, but then she disappears again. I just don't know what to do. I've been praying and praying that Papa would help us find a way to reach her, but . . ." she paused again, "it feels like he isn't listening."

There it was. Papa was Nan's favorite name for God and it expressed her delight in the intimate friendship she had with him.

"Honey, I'm sure God knows what he's doing. It will all work out." The words brought him no comfort but he hoped they might ease the worry he could hear in her voice.

"I know," she sighed. "I just wish he'd hurry up."

"Me too," was all Mack could think to say. "Well, you and the kids stay put and stay safe, and tell Arlene and Jimmy hi, and thank them for me. Hopefully I will see you tomorrow."

"Okay, love. I should go and help the others. Everyone's busy looking for candles in case the power goes out. You should probably do the same. There's some above the sink in the basement, and there's leftover stuffed bread dough in the fridge that you can heat up. Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah, my pride is hurt more than anything."

"Well take it easy, and hopefully we'll see you in the morning."

"All right honey. Be safe and call me if you need anything. Bye."

It was kind of a dumb thing to say, he thought as he hung up the phone. Kind of a manly dumb thing, as if he could help if they needed anything.

Mack sat and stared at the note. It was confusing and painful trying to sort out the swirling cacophony of disturbing emotions and dark images clouding his mind—a million thoughts traveling a million miles an hour. Finally, he gave up, folded the note, slid it into a small tin box he kept on the desk, and switched off the light.

Mack managed to find something to heat up in the microwave, then he grabbed a couple of blankets and pillows and headed for the living room. A quick glance at the clock told him that Bill Moyer's show had just started; a favorite program that he tried never to miss. Moyer was one of a handful of people whom Mack would love to meet; a brilliant and outspoken man, able to express intense compassion for both people and truth with unusual clarity. One of the stories tonight had something to do with oilman Boone Pickens, who was now starting to drill for water, of all things.

Almost without thinking, and without taking his eyes off the television, Mack reached over to the end table, picked up a photo frame holding a picture of a little girl, and clutched it to his chest. With the other hand he pulled the blankets up under his chin and hunkered deeper into the sofa.

Soon the sounds of gentle snoring filled the air as the media tube turned its attention to a piece on a high school senior in Zimbabwe, who had been beaten for speaking out against his government. But Mack had already left the room to wrestle with his dreams; maybe tonight there would be no nightmares, only visions, perhaps, of ice and trees and gravity.

Copyright © 2007 by William P. Young
I love this book so much that I am going to give away a copy of "The Shack" from my own collection since I have two and some of you don't have one. Be prepared though... after reading it you will probably want to share it with friends - So you know the rules...
1) Leave a comment telling me why you are interested in this book along with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Mr. Young and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry

Friday, January 23, 2009

"The Centurion's Wife" Book Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Centurion's Wife

Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2009)


Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep, and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.

He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.

Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others.

After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children's picture book, I Wonder...Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.

Janette Oke's warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President's Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.

She and her husband live nearby in Alberta, Canada.


Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.

Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Centurion's Wife, go HERE

I love the idea of a book being written about non-Christians finding Christ during the period of Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension without ever actually meeting Jesus. Here we have Leah and Alban who are separately trying to find out what actually happened to the man named Jesus' body when it was "stolen" from the tomb and if his followers are a threat to Rome. We follow them separately on their journeys for truth knowing that they have been promised to wed each other after the truth is found. Leah is not happy about this and Alban initially just sees Leah as a means to a higher status in life. Can they find the truth before those seeking to hide it get them out of the way? What will the truth mean to them? Can a life without love really be worth living? The Centurion's Wife answers all of this and much more in a beautiful story and a fantastic setting. I really enjoyed this book and fans of historical fiction (especially like Francine River's Mark of the Lion series) will love this book!

The 1st Most Entertaining Books of 2008 are...

The 1st Most Entertaining Books of 2008 are...
"The Restorer's Son" & "The Restorer's Journey"
by Sharon Hinck

Last year Sharon's first book "The Restorer" won in the Most Life Changing category and I did an interview with Sharon then, you can read that
here. I have rarely been as excited about a sequel in a series as I was when Restorer's Journey arrived in the mail - I was like, "Everybody leave me alone! I'm reading Restorer's Journey!" It's always bittersweet of course when you read a book that you know might be the last, you have to savor every word, so I did. My biggest concern is that a lot of you out there haven't read these books yet. That dismays me.

So enter with me into Susan's world... she is a soccer mom, married to a wonderful man with great kids and just a desire to maintain her sanity and try to walk a little closer with God. (Seems pretty usual so far, right?) Her precious husband turns part of the attic into a little haven for her where she can retreat to read the Bible and have her quiet time... wait... what is that in the corner of the attic... why is there a magnetic pull... where am I?!?! And thus Susan is sucked out of her own world into the world of Lyric. Now she must learn how to survive in an unfamiliar and most times unwelcoming place all while trying to figure out why she is "The Restorer" and what exactly she is supposed to restore so she can go home to her family. Moving on into The Restorer's Son we find a new Restorer has taken up the reins since Susan has left. Now there is a different enemy to deal with and this Restorer is even more reluctant than the last one!

I'm trying not to spoil anything here... In the Restorer's Journey we have another Restorer and yet another enemy - though some enemies never seem to really go away. We see most of the same characters in each book which I love and the overall setting stays the same - but situations and circumstances sure change. In every book Sharon packs the storys full of amazing allegorial pictures (the people of Lyric have the Verses (a version of our Psalms), the Rhusicans use mind poisoning to torment and kill people (our negative thought life) and much more). These books will make you think, let you escape, and thouroughly entertain you! They are too good not to read -
Now let's meet Sharon...

1. I picked The Restorer as one of the Most Life Changing Books of 2007 and while The Restorer's Son and The Restorer's Journey could have easily garnered the same title this year I decided that they should instead receive the title of Most Entertaining because above all else this entire series is designed to sweep you away to a different world and into a place where you wish you were but would be kind of freaked out to be. Is Susan based on you?

I think every character has some shadings of myself. There are elements of Susan that I identify with. I’m a wife and mom who struggles with the journey of serving Christ being more painful than anticipated, and also has felt the joy of surrendering to His purposes. But I haven’t ventured through any portals into alternate universes.

2) In books 2 & 3 Susan is no longer The Restorer, the mantle is passed on. How did you pick the next 2 Restorers? Was it obvious to you or did you have to think it through first?

I’m a “discovery” writer. I have a sense of where the story is going, but it often surprises me. I didn’t see either of those Restorer’s coming until it happened. It was one of those fun novel-writing moments, where I lifted my hands off the keyboard, read what I’d just typed, and said, “Wow!” And even though it surprised me, it felt like it had been meant to be all along.

3) In The Restorer series you make parallels between Susan and the Old Testament judge, Deborah and Kiernan and the judge Gideon. Did you model Jake after a judge ( a young, handsome, 18 year old judge)?

I was inspired by young David. He was the one voice ready to stand up to the Philistines when the seasoned warriors were afraid, he was a poet with a tender heart for God, and he had a difficult relationship with King Saul.

4) There are different enemies in the books (Rhusicans, Kahlareans, etc...) are they modeled after anything (or anyone) in particular?

When I was developing the Rhusicans (Rhus is the Latin botantical name for poison), I had been pondering the modern marketing industry. It targets people’s insecurities and seeks to exploit them to create a need. I wondered what it would be like if an enemy used that technique on a very personal level – probing, twisting, and literally poisoning people’s minds.

5) Is the Sword of Lyric series over or will we get to see what happens next in the land of Lyric?

For me, the adventures continue. I have more stories in me set in that world. I’m praying that if God wills it, I might one day have an opportunity to write more stories in the series.

6) What do you have in the works right now - so I know what to be looking forward to?

I’ve been busy the last few months with the release of “Stepping Into Sunlight” - a new contemporary novel about a Navy chaplain’s wife and her journey toward healing from PTSD.

****Readers, I recently read "Stepping Into Sunlight" and it would not surprise me to see it on the 2009 Most Life Changing list. It is a wonderful book that will increase your empathy towards others, open your eyes to those hurting and give you insight into the minds of those that have dealt with painful things. It's a wonderful story that is full of moments that will make you stop and think and be grateful for what God has given you. *****

7) How can readers find you online?

I LOVE for folks to visit me at There is encouragement for writers, for the faith journey, for families. Info on all my books. Fun video interviews. Audio clips of the music from The Restorer books. Lots to explore. :-) Thanks so much for your encouragement on these books that meant so much to me!!!!
Sharon won Book Of The Year in the fantasy category at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Minneapolis this year - this is a picture of Sharon giving her acceptance speech. You can see the picture of the winning book "The Restorer's Son" in the background.
I love these books so much that I am going to give away a copy of "The Restorer's Son" from my own collection since I have two and some of you don't have any. Be prepared though... if you win and don't have the first one, then you must go buy it so that you can read them in order. This is one series where I think it's almost unacceptable to read them out of order *grin*. So you know the rules...
1) Leave a comment telling me where you would go to getaway if you could (obviously as much as I would love to go to Lyric like Susan did, not really a possibility) along with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Sharon and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The 1st Most Amazing YA Books of 2008 are...

The 1st Most Amazing YA Books of 2008 are
"Finding Hollywood Nobody", "Romancing Hollywood Nobody" & "Goodbye Hollywood Nobody"
by Lisa Samson

One of my favorite books from 2007 was "Hollywood Nobody" by Lisa Samson. Here we finally had a truly original, free-spirited young woman who makes us realize that despite peer pressure and the world's standards - it is okay to be you - just you. She is a homeschooler who loves history and reading and travels around the country in an RV with her mom who is a food artist for movies. She starts a blog (gotta love that) because of the inside info she has on different movie stars since she lives on the sets. There is a mystery thread running through the series that has to do with her past and mom and dad. She makes different friends along the way that become a big part of her life. Through out the books she finds her faith and discovers God (but not in a typical must have a conversion before the end of book #1 kind of thing). I love this series, my 12 year old loves this series, my 60 ish mother-in-law loves this series. I don't want to giveaway any spoilers so I won't say anymore except that the saddest news I've heard in awhile is that NavPress isn't doing YA books anymore so this is the last we'll see of Scotty :-(

Regardless, this series should make your keeper shelf for any age group!

Now let's meet Lisa...

1) Lisa, I mentioned to you that this series (though written for Young Adults) has been enjoyed in my house by myself (33), my mother-in-law (63) and my oldest daughter (12). In fact, when the 4th book arrived at my house I read it that day and showed my mother-in-law (Sue) when I was finished, "Look what I got today!". She snatched it out of my hands and flipped it over to read the back and said, "You aren't done with it yet, are you?" When I proudly announced that I was she said, "Oh good!" and headed to her room to get started! Did you have any idea that this series would have such wide age appeal?

I really didn't. When NavPress told me the book was for high school/college age young women, I thought "Yeah, right." I realized my true audience would most likely be middle-schoolers. But I did try to make it interesting for all ages just in case, which is where Scotty's love of retro fit in. (I'm just tickled death that three generations in the same household like these books! Makes me happy!) I guess I tried to write Young Adult fiction that would interest me too. I don't want to write a book I wouldn't want to read myself.

2) Though this series doesn't cover a huge time period, it does cover a wide area of Scotty Dawn's life. I know that my daughter couldn't wait to get to book #3 "Romancing Hollywood Nobody". Okay, okay, to be honest neither could I! As a mother of 6 who is a little concerned with the whole dating aspect, but I really appreciate the way you handled it. I didn't have Sarah coming to me saying, "Why can't I date?" Did you know how things would wrap up romantically for Scotty all along?

I'm glad it didn't bring dating strife into your family! Actually I didn't know how it would wrap up until the last book. In my fiction for adults I probably wouldn't have gone that way, but I know how happy teens would be at the outcome so I just went with it!

3) There is a mystery thread running through the books that does get resolved along the way. Who is the biker man? What happened to Scotty's parents? What is Scotty's real name? Did you know when you started how you were going to arc that through all 4 books or did you let the story take you along?

Believe it or not, I didn't know who Biker Man really was until I began the second book. So yes, I just let the story take me along in some regards. Once that was in play, however, it was easy to figure out the directions of the final two books. It's probably NOT the way to do it, but hey, it sure is a way to make the process interesting!

4) I was impressed with how well you wrapped everything up in book #4 "Goodbye Hollywood Nobody". It left me sad, but satisfied. I would be happy to see more of Scotty Dawn in the future though... do I dare hold out any hope?

I know. Sigh. I was sad too, but it had to go that way. (Don't want to spoil it for everybody else.) However, I surrounded Scotty with such a good community of friends and family, I knew she'd be okay! Unfortunately the publisher of these books has decided not to do fiction anymore so I suppose Scotty's stuck in the summer between high school and college! It would be fun to explore her and Seth more and see how Karissa does with her new responsibilities, but we'll have to let the readers write that story themselves.

5) Some of what made Scotty one of my favorite characters was that she was a fashion retro, book loving, history buff, homeschooler who traveled all around and blogged about the famous movie people she ran into on movie sets. How did you come up with such an eclectic, fun heroine?

Well, NavPress approached me about doing YA for them at a book convention, so I literally went out to my car in the parking lot, sat there a minute, and Scotty just flowed into my brain. The set up too. Traveling around in a RV with her food stylist mother. Honestly, what I didn't want to do was write a "real-life teen book" about kids in their school, mean girls ganging up on the nerdy girls. Or a gritty book (necessary to be sure) about the worst aspects of teenage life. I do that sort of stuff in my adult fiction! I wanted to have fun. Most teen lit that grabs the readers are set in alternative worlds, limited parental influence, where the teen has to figure things out for herself. Now, in real life, we hope our children don't have to do that, but that's what makes for good fiction. The main character has to grapple with the stuff of life. And well, Scotty is a lot like my daughter Ty, so that was just a natural choice to build the character that way.

6) Do you plan on writing more for the young adult age group? What are you currently working on?

I'm thinking about what my next series will be for YA. I'd really like to but I don't have any idea jumping out at me. When it does, I'll write up a proposal and try to sell it. Right now I'm finishing up my current novel, called The Good Life, about a woman with PTSD from the Rwandan Genocide who is brought back to life by a prisoner on death row. It's been pretty agonizing. I've been in communication with a death row inmate in Ohio, and just dealing with raw life and death issues and humanity and how society's fixes are never easy has been pretty emotionally draining. Can't wait to send this puppy in for editing!

7) Where can readers find you online? Or, I'm totally in love with facebook! I'm under Lisa Samson.


I wish I had a copy of these to giveaway - but I don't - so visit your local bookstore and pick these up!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The 2nd Most Entertaining Books of 2008 are...

The 2nd Most Entertaining Books of 2008 are
"A Passion Most Pure" & "A Passion Redeemed"
by Julie Lessman

Readers - let me preface this interview by saying that my personal opinion of this book is that it is an absolute classic and we will be reading about the O'Conner family for many years and these are the kind of books that you will save on your shelf and pass on to your daughters and granddaughters. Legacy books this classic do not come along very often - at all... so don't pass up the opportunity to get to know the O'Conners and of course - Julie Lessman...

Julie blew me away with A Passion Most Pure and I really didn't think she could ever top it. I mean A Passion Most Pure was so fresh and new, it is like Little Women for 2008 - an epic saga that through the next books in the series will allow us to follow and continue to fall in love with the O'Connor family. We follow Faith closely in the first one and in A Passion Redeemed we follow her horrible, awful, dreadful sister Charity. Did I mention that she was basically the villianess in the first book? No, well she was though maybe vixen is a better word for it. At any rate I wasn't sure I really wanted to follow Charity and get inside her head. But I went for it and like I always say, there are 2 sides to every story and that holds true here.
I must
be careful because I don't want to give away anything that would spoil it for you, but let me just say that I told Julie I didn't think she could pull one over on me with this book - but she did it again - the ending was fantastic! So come meet Faith and now Charity and I can't wait to join up with the O'Connors again soon and get to know Beth really well too!

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure was her first novel.

1) When I got to read your first book "A Passion Most Pure," I thought for sure I had discovered a new Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott. I was captivated by the writing style, the setting and most of all the characters. In the O'Connor family, is there one character that you really identify with the most?

Probably Faith, and then Charity, but there’s definitely a part of my personality in each of the three sisters in the series. Faith, the sister heroine of A Passion Most Pure, is my spiritual self. Faith has an intimate relationship with God—she talks and prays to Him as naturally as if He is her best friend, but she gets angry with Him too. You might say she (and I) are emotionally engaged with the God of the Universe—we laugh with Him, tear up at His goodness to us, and worship Him with all of our hearts.

Charity, the sister heroine of Book 2, is my rebellious and “passionate” self, before I came to the Lord. I was a wild child of the seventies who, like Charity, mistakenly thought lust was love. Thank heavens that Jesus got a hold of me (as he does Charity in Book 2), to teach me that real love has HIM at the center!

Lizzie (or Beth), the sister heroine of Book 3 is my dreamer self. Lizzie is a bookworm bent on fairytale romance, just like I used to be as a little girl, sneaking downstairs to watch romantic movies after my parents went to bed. In her story, Lizzie has to learn (just like I did) that true romance, the kind that really satisfies, comes from following God’s precep
ts, not the world’s.

2) In book #1 we get to fall in love with Faith as she struggles seeing her sister dating the man she has always loved. You have been criticized for having a little too much "passion" when it should be all "pure." I personally think it’s some of the more realistic romance I've ever read. But I'm sure a little criticism is nothing to a self-confident writer like yourself, you just let all that slide right off your back, right???

Grin. Uh, no. In fact, when I got my first 1-star review on Amazon that led off with the line, “This is simply a horrible book …”, I cried all the way out of work. This reviewer thought I had crossed the bounds of passion in a Christian novel, and for one, brief, awful moment, I thought I had missed God. But then He showed me that I was writing these novels for women like me – women with a passion for romance AND a passion for God. Yes, I wanted real romantic tension and passion in the books I read, but I also wanted God in the center of it, something I couldn’t seem to find in either the secular market OR the Christian market. So I decided to write my own, taking the romantic tension I so loved in books like Gone With the Wind and lacing it with God’s precepts. My books are not for everyone, but I am hoping they will reach some women trapped in today’s amoral society with the very real message that God is the true author of romance.

3) I believe that in order to really move you a book has to be something that people will really love or hate, it has to bring forth gut-wrenching emotions. You have accomplished that. I loved Faith and really detested her sister (and rival) Charity. I didn't think I would ever like her – you told me I would when I read book #2, A Passion Redeemed. You were right to a certain extent, Faith is still my favorite but now I do at least like Charity. I think part of the reason I didn't like Charity originally is because she reminded me a lot of myself. For that reason alone I loved seeing the redemption that Charity receives. Did that stem out of your own life at all?

Unfortunately, very much so. My father used to call me an “angle shooter,” which is what Charity was – a manipulator bent on getting what she wanted. I never saw myself that way, but the sting of my father’s rebuke branded me nonetheless. Like Charity, my relationship with my father was not good, so you might say I grew up in a very dysfunctional family where I did not feel loved.

My “redemption” into Christ was not as traumatic as Charity’s, to be sure, but it was similar in that I was seeking love through lust. At the age of 23 I was a brand-new Christian who was still intimately involved with my boyfriend. When my spiritual mentor confronted me with my sin, I remember screaming at her in the work cafeteria, saying that “if God thought I was going to give up the only love I have ever had, He was dead wrong.” I basically told her that if God wanted my boyfriend out of my life, let God do it. And, oh my,
He did! My boyfriend dumped me so fast, that I was totally devastated. So much so that a Christian couple had to keep me for the weekend to prevent me from calling or going to see my boyfriend. It was during this dark time that I finally bent my knee to God and allowed Him to heal my life.

4) The O'Connor family has more children, how many of them will we get to follow in books?

There are six O’Connor children in all – four daughters and two sons – and each one will have their own story. Book 1 of the next series will be the story of the youngest daughter, Katie, which will be fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean (and guess who … Emma, Charity’s scarred friend from book 2!!), and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness … you know, a la Robert Stack from the Untouchables? I’m very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say “complicated”???) and each plot has surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away!

5) Did you ever imagine that your series would be so well received? How amazing is that for you?

Not in a million years. Keep in mind that after I wrote book 1, “A Passion Most Pure,” I had no earthly idea if it was any good or not. I knew I liked it, of course, but I honestly had no clue that anybody else would. My sisters enjoyed it, but they are blood, so I was never really sure how the public would receive it. It still stuns me today when I receive e-mails that use the words “amazing” writer.” Say what??? It pretty much stuns me, even now, which is good because it just underscores something I already know—God is the source and substance of any talent I may have, and I could NEVER do it without Him.

6) I see a lot of reviews of your books where readers say that you have reinvigorated the historical fiction genre for them. And my personal opinion is that they are books that deserve to sit on the same shelf as "Little Women." With that being said, where can readers find you online?

Thank you SO much for your kind words, Janna, and YES, I absolutely LOVE hearing from people who have read my books. I feel as if they are more like friends than readers. Let’s face it, we’re all women (at least mostly … I do have some male readers, which is a hoot!) who love a stirring romance heavily laced with God’s precepts, so for me, hearing from my “friends” seems more like a big, wonderful club of like-minded Christians. That said, I encourage anyone who wants to get in touch with me to do so by sending an e-mail through my Web site at I would LOVE to hear from you!

Thank you again, Janna, for the honor of being on your “list.” I pray a blessed 2009 for you and your family and all the readers of your blog.


Julie has agreed to give away a copy of whichever of the first 2 books the winner requests. So if you don't have the first one you can start there, but if you have that one then you can get the second one. So you know the rules...

1) Leave a comment telling me if a book cover (like the amazing covers Julie has) makes a difference in whether you purchase them or not, along with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Julie and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry