Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Out With the In Crowd" Book Review



From a talented new voice in YA fiction:
HOW DO YOU START OVER AGAIN IN HIGH SCHOOL?

Teens have embraced Skylar Hoyt, the title character in The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series by debut author Stephanie Morrill. Skylar is a character readers can relate to, as she struggles with popularity, fitting in and figuring out what really matters in the midst of it all.

In the second book of the series, Out with the In Crowd, Skylar is struggling with her circle of friends: She’s vowed to change her partying ways, but it's not so easy to change her friends and her old life is constantly staring her in the face. Add to that two parents battling for her loyalty, a younger sister struggling with a crisis pregnancy, and a new boyfriend wishing for more of her time, and Skylar feels like she can't win. After all, how do you choose favorites among the people you love most?
MY REVIEW:
When given the chance to review "Out With the In Crowd" I decided to get "Me, Just Different" and read it first. So I read them back to back in about a day, they were that good. The only problem? The third book "So Over It" isn't out yet so I couldn't continue reading about Skylar's journey to a new her.
I actually let my 13 year old daughter, Sarah, read them first and she zipped through them as well. Her comment was, "When does the next one come out?!?" And she was careful not to say anything else because she didn't want to spoil the books for me... likewise I will be careful what I say to you all.
Basically this series takes place starting at the end of the summer leading into Skylar Hoyt's senior year. She has always been the Queen of the popular girls, partying with the best of them. At one of the last parties of the summer something happens that changes her mind. She decides maybe it is time to change her ways. The only issue is that while she is deciding to change into a better person, those around her aren't. Is it possible to reinvent yourself in your senior year? Skylar is about to find out...


Out with the In Crowd
by Stephanie Morrill
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3390-2
January 2010, $11.99



With style and grace, Stephanie Morrill delivers another compelling story that addresses teen issues in Out with the In Crowd.



Romantic Times reviewed the first book in The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, with praise: “This is a good start to a promising new series. Morrill introduces a strong, relatable character to root for.”

Stephanie Morrill is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Teen Lit writers' group. Morrill is the author of Me, Just Different and Out with the In Crowd, and she also serves in youth ministry. She lives in Kansas with her husband and young daughter.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.


For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.
******Special thanks to Revell Books for a review copy of "Out With The In Crowd", "Me, Just Different was purchased by myself*****

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Abigail" Book Review



Bestselling author releases new biblical fiction that tells the story of Abigail:
Her marriage to David and their life on the run

Turmoil marked her life—what price must she pay for love?
From Jill Eileen Smith, bestselling author of Michal, comes the latest biblical fiction in The Wives of King David series: Abigail.



Abigail's hopes and dreams for the future are wrapped up in her handsome, dark-eyed betrothed, Nabal. But when the long-awaited wedding day arrives, her drunken groom behaves shamefully. Nevertheless, Abigail tries to honor and respect her husband despite his abuse of her.

MY REVIEW:

I love this series by Jill Eileen Smith. Not only is it an incredibly interesting time period, but Jill has a way of getting inside the heads of these people and making you feel a part of the story. My caution is that anytime you are reading Biblical fiction you have to remember that the author is writing their interpretation of true events. It can be difficult to separate the fiction from the fact, but I think that good Biblical fiction is invaluable for making old stories current and relevant to our lives now. With that being said...

Abigail is a fascinating woman. She is in a horrid marriage to a stupid man and she goes behind his back after he insults David and she rescues the lives of all the men on her husband's estate. Instead of letting anyone kill him, she continues to honor him and God takes care of the situation. At that time she becomes David's next wife. Little understanding just how difficult that would be years later. Would she regret her decision later? She could never be David's one and only love, but she could be a woman of grace and strength.

I can not recommend this series by Jill Eileen Smith highly enough!




Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3321-6
$14.99, February 2010



Meanwhile, Abigail's family has joined David's wandering tribe as he and his people keep traveling to avoid the dangerous Saul. When Nabal suddenly dies, Abigail is free to move on with her life, and thanks to her brother, her new life includes a new husband--David. The dangers of tribal life on the run are serious, but there are other dangers in young Abigail's mind. How can David lead his people effectively when he goes against God? And how can Abigail share David's love with the other wives he insists on marrying?



Smith draws on Scripture, in-depth historical research and her vivid imagination to unveil the story of Abigail and David in rich detail and drama, for a riveting page-turner that will keep readers looking forward to the next book in this trilogy.



“Drawing on Scripture and historical research, Smith crafts a tale that will attract readers who enjoy their inspirational fiction set in biblical times.” —Library Journal




Jill Eileen Smith has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has garnered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill is the author of the bestselling Michal and lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.
*****Special thanks to Revell Books for a review copy of this book.*****

"The Big 5-Oh!" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Big 5-Oh!
Abingdon Press (February 2010)


by


Sandra D. Bricker




MY REVIEW:

What a fun book! Sandra has a real winner here with The Big 5-Oh! Will Olivia's birthday curse finally be broken? She is turning 50, but most years awful things happen around her birthday and since her husband passed away a few years ago, she is really not looking forward to this milestone. Her best friend convinces her to go housesit for her mom in Florida when she comes for a visit and Olivia finally agrees. Who knows what might await Olivia in sunny Florida? Lots of fun and excitement (including an intruder in the swimming pool, a mysterious man on the airplane and a young, hunky neighbor who sees Olivia as a dating interest). Ah, yes, Florida could be just what Olivia needs to finally break the curse!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For more than a decade, Author Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While writing in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant

and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

One of Sandie's passions revolves around the rights of animals. She's been involved in fundraising for Lost Angels Animal Rescue for several years now; in fact, a portion of the proceeds of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida will go to help the non-profit group with their expenses. And Lost Angels paid her back in a big way: They brought a free-spirited Collie named Sophie into her life after the loss of her 15-year companion Caleb.

It was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer.

In Sandie's words: "I guess most people would see my career as a publicist as a sort of dream job. But giving it up turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me!" she declares. "Not only was I given the gift of getting to know my mother as an adult woman before she passed away, but I was also afforded the blessing of being able to focus completely on my dream of a writing career. I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost, so it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch their new Love Finds You line."



ABOUT THE BOOK



Olivia Wallace has a birthday curse . . . or so she thinks. It was a broken heart on her 16th, a car accident on her 21st, pneumonia on her 30th, and a fall down a flight of stairs on her 35th. There were Ohio blizzards on her 38th, 39th, and 40th; and six days before her 45th, she lost the love of her life to a heart attack. Numbing grief stole that birthday and a couple more to follow and, on the morning of her 48th birthday, she received the call she’d dreaded ever since losing her mom so many years ago…she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer. The doctors didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but Liv survived and maintained her faith. Months of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed.

But now, as her 50th birthday creeps up the icy Ohio path toward her, her hair has grown back, her energy level is up, and she is officially cancer free. It makes her nervous. After everything she’s gone through, Liv hates the idea of driving on icy roads and returning to work as an O.R. nurse in a local Cincinnati hospital.

Her best friend Hallie knows just the thing to break Liv out of the winter doldrums, while providing a safe haven of warmth, sunshine, and a time to regroup: a holiday in the Florida sunshine!

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Big 5-Oh!, go HERE


Watch the trailer:



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Swinging on a Star" Book Review

"Swinging on a Star"
by
Janice Thompson



In order to tell you about how much I enjoyed the book "Swinging on a Star" by Janice Thompson, I must first tell you about book #1 in this series, "Fools Rush In". I was offered the opportunity to review "Swinging on a Star" but hadn't read book #1, having heard so many great things about it I did the highly unusual... I went and bought it so I could read them both in order. I'm glad I did. "Fools Rush In" is such a great, original book and it laid such a firm foundation for "Swinging on a Star". Would you have to read them both in order? No, but why deprive yourself of Janice's great writing style by limiting yourself to just one of these books?


MY REVIEW: "Fools Rush In" introduces us to Bella Rossi and her crazy, quirky, Italian family. I just wish I had gotten the invitation to join her family at the dinner table sooner! Bella has just taken over the family's wedding planning business and decided to branch out into themed weddings. Now she is organizing her first Boot Scoot'n wedding and doesn't have a dj! She runs into someone that gives her a lead on a dj and the misunderstandings ensue. She hires a dj alright, only to realize that he isn't a deejay, he is an actual D.J.! What could possibly happen except love as they work together to make this wedding perfect. But of course perfection doesn't happen often in Bella's family and why would this be any different? Hijinx, crazy neighbors, unconventional family and the fun has only just begun. Fantastic start to this new series!

Bella Rossi may be nearing thirty, but her life is just starting to get interesting. When her Italian-turned-Texan parents hand over the family wedding planning business, Bella is determined not to let them down. She quickly books a "Boot Scoot'n" wedding that would make any Texan proud. There's only one catch--she's a country music numbskull because her family only listens to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Where will she find a DJ on such short notice who knows his Alan Jackson from his Keith Urban? When a misunderstanding leads her to the DJ (and man) of her dreams, things start falling into place. But with a family like hers, nothing is guaranteed. Can the perfect Texan wedding survive a pizza-making uncle with mob ties, an aunt who is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and a massive delivery of 80 cowboy boots? And will Bella ever get to plan her own wedding? Book one in the Weddings by Bella series, Fools Rush In is fun, fresh, and full of surprises. Readers will love the flavorful combination of Italian and Tex-Mex, and the hilarity that ensues when cultures clash.

MY REVIEW: "Swinging on a Star" draws us quickly back into Bella Rossi's wild and crazy life. Only this time DJ is firmly planted in the middle of it as she plans her next big themed wedding - a Renaissance fairy tale, ah sigh! One twist Bella isn't expecting though... the Best Man happens to be a hunky movie star who appears to have his sight set on Bella, but Bella's sister has her sights set on him and Bella really just wants to have some peace and quiet with DJ... but peace and quiet aren't the norm at Bella's house and this wedding is no different. Especially when the Best Man moves in with Bella's family until the wedding! Can things get any crazier? Well, bring the crazy neighbor boy back into the picture, along with a hurricane and the quirky cast of characters from "Fools Rush In" and Janice Thompson has another hit on her hands! I can only hope that people keep wanting to get married so Bella keeps planning weddings and I keep getting invited back!

Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. She's got the perfect guy, she's running a successful business, and she's about to plan her most ambitious wedding yet, a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's just one hitch. The best man just happens to be Brock Benson, Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at the Rossi house to avoid the paparazzi? With all the pressure surrounding this wedding, Bella's not sure she's going to make it through. Add her starstruck sister, her feuding aunt and uncle, and a trio of large, sequined church ladies with even bigger personalities, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs. This hilarious romantic comedy is sure to delight both fans and new readers alike.

Thanks to Baker Publishing Group for a review copy of this book.
Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Cowgirl At Heart" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Cowgirl at Heart


Barbour Books (February 1, 2010)


by


Christine Lynxwiler


MY REVIEW:
I have read quite a few of Christine Lynxwiler's books by now and I have to say that "Cowgirl At Heart" is the most enjoyable yet. She just gets better and better every book. I loved the characters in this book, solid but not perfect. Elyse is a wonderful addition to the McCord sisters. She is the "dog whisperer" and sets out to rescue a lab that she hears might be in trouble. She discovers him, locked up and starving to death. As she tries to call for help she is attacked and in serious danger. A knight in shining armor arrives just in time to save her, but the bad guy gets away. Now Andrew wants to protect Elyse from the guy that got away, who he just happens to believe might have killed his wife three years ago. Love follows for both of them even though for their own reasons they know it can't work out. Danger follows Elyse and Andrew keeps trying to intercept.
Good story, great keeping up with Crystal and Jeremy from book #1, and excellent new situations and circumstances. Good book.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Best-selling author Christine Lynxwiler lives with her husband and two precious daughters in the foothills of the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Christine has been writing toward publication since 1997. She sold her first story in 2001 to Barbour Publishing. Since then she's written and sold fourteen Christian romance novels and novellas including the four novels that were included in the best-selling book Arkansas, which has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Her novel, Forever Christmas, ranked number 12 on the Christian Bookseller's Association Bestseller List in January, 2009.



A four-time winner of the prestigious American Christian Romance Writers/American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award, Christine recently signed a new six-book contract with Barbour Publishing bringing her total of contracted books to twenty. Besides, Along Came a Cowboy, her latest novels include Promise Me Always and Forever Christmas. She also writes mysteries with two of her sisters, Sandy Gaskin and Jan Reynolds. Their book, Alibis in Arkansas, is currently available nationwide, as well as in many bookstores. The first book in Christine's new McCord Sisters series, The Reluctant Cowgirl released in April, 2009 and was a TOP PICK in Romantic Times Magazine.



When Christine isn't at her computer, you'll often find her, with her husband, co-coaching their daughters' softball team, kayaking down beautiful Spring River with her family, or getting together with friends from church.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Elyse McCord always plays it safe─a fact she blames on being the biological daughter of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Even in the security of her adoptive family the McCords, the timid dog whisperer keeps her guard up with strangers. But when she discovers a dog being horribly mistreated, shy Elyse transforms into a mighty warrior and charges into a perilous situation, not only risking her life but also her heart



Reporter Andrew Stone has been fearless since the day his wife was shot and killed three years ago. He has one mission─use hid Texas Ranger upbringing to find her murderer and clear his own name of any involvement. When he sees a beautiful brunette in the hands of a pistol-welding maniac, he’s forced to abandon his covert surveillance and go to the rescue. The danger surrounding Andrew doesn’t scare him at all, but the awakening of his dormant heart terrifies him.



When painful pasts collide, the explosion is deafening. Can Andrew and Elyse pick up the pieces and go forward together? Or will they forever live with haunting memories, unable to forgive, unable to love?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Cowgirl at Heart , go HERE.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"The Pastor's Wife" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Pastor's Wife
Abingdon Press (February 2010)
by


Jennifer AlLee


MY REVIEW:
I wasn't sure what to expect from this new-to-me author, Jennifer AlLee. The Pastor's Wife seemed from appearances to be a woman's fiction and that isn't my first choice for reading material. Well, Jennifer blew away my expectations. This book is good. Period. I practically read it in one sitting and just loved the characters, setting and situation.
Here we have an estranged couple, a pastor and his wife, who have been separated for 6 years now. They haven't even spoken since the night she left. They are brought back together due to a matchmaking woman in the congregation that leaves the wife, Maura, a theater and leaves the husband, Nick, a sum of money for the church if they live together for 6 months first. They can't turn it down so now after 6 years of silence they are forced into life together.
A perfect example of how communication is vital to a healthy marriage. I loved seeing both sides of the marriage that fell apart. How expectations can be unrealistic and how we can put demands on our partner that they don't even realize are there. Jennifer does an excellent job showing that there are two sides to every story and no one is without fault. But God's grace can cover all.
One of the best woman's fiction books I've read.

******Thanks to Abingdon Press for a review copy of this book.******



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer AlLee was born in Hollywood, California and for the first 10 years of her life lived over a mortuary one block from Hollywood and Vine. An avid reader and writer, she completed her first novel in high school. That manuscript is now safely tucked away, never again to see the light of day. Her first inspirational romance, The Love of His Brother, was released in November 2007 by Five Star Publisher.



Besides being a writer, she is a wife and mom. Living in Las Vegas, Nevada, her husband and teenage son have learned how to enjoy the fabulous buffets there without severely impacting their waistlines. God is good!





ABOUT THE BOOK



Maura Sullivan never intended to set foot in Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind: a husband who ignored her, a congregation she couldn't please, and a God who took away everything she ever loved.



Nick Shepherd thought he had put the past behind him, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Intending only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick finds his feelings for her never died. Now, he must admit the mistakes he made, how he hurt his wife, and find a way to give and receive forgiveness.



As God works in both of their lives, Nick and Maura start to believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has one more secret to tell Nick before they can move forward. It's what ultimately drove her to leave him three years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they've built.



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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Listen" Book Review

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Listen

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 11, 2010)

***Special thanks to Vicky Lynch of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
This book totally caught me off guard, in a really good way. The plot was brilliant. A small town that is rocked to its core when a website goes up that posts people's conversations. Their private conversations. The kind of conversations that take place between two people in the privacy of their own homes and no one knows who is posting them. But the consequences are quick... fights break out in the grocery store, neighbor turns against neighbor and much worse.

Damien is a newspaper man who wants to break into investigative reporting and this looks like his chance at a big story in the town where nothing ever happens. His best friend, Frank, is a police officer and lets him in on where the news is breaking. Things keep getting weirder and weirder and next thing you know, no one trusts anyone. Can Damien and Frank unravel who is behind this website before it tears the town apart?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Rene Gutteridge is the critically acclaimed author of more than fifteen novels, including the Storm series, the Boo series, the Occupational Hazards series, and the novelization of the motion picture The Ultimate Gift. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414324332
ISBN-13: 978-1414324333

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Present Day

Damien Underwood tapped his pencil against his desk and spun twice in his chair. But once he was facing his computer again, the digital clock still hadn’t changed.

In front of him on a clean white piece of paper was a box, and inside that box was a bunch of other tiny boxes. Some of those boxes he’d neatly scribbled in. And above the large box he wrote, Time to go.

This particular day was stretching beyond his normal capacity of tolerance, and when that happened, he found himself constructing word puzzles. He’d sold three to the New York Times, two published on Monday and one on Wednesday. They were all framed and hanging in his cubicle. He’d sent in over thirty to be considered.

He’d easily convinced his boss years ago to let him start publishing crosswords in the paper, and since then he’d been the crossword editor, occasionally publishing some of his own, a few from local residents, and some in syndication.

The puzzle clues were coming harder today. He wanted to use a lot of plays on words, and he also enjoyed putting in a few specific clues that were just for Marlo residents. Those were almost always published on Fridays.

A nine-letter word for “predictable and smooth.”

Yes, good clue. He smiled and wrote the answer going down. Clockwork.

He glanced over to the bulletin board, which happened to be on the only piece of north wall he could see from his desk at the Marlo Sentinel. Tacked in the center, still hanging there after three years, was an article from Lifestyles Magazine. Marlo, of all the places in the United States, was voted Best Place to Raise a Child. It was still the town’s shining moment of glory. Every restaurant and business had this article framed and hanging somewhere on their walls.

The community boasted its own police force, five separate and unique playgrounds for the kids, including a spray ground put in last summer, where kids could dash through all kinds of water sprays without the fear of anyone drowning.

Potholes were nonexistent. The trash was picked up by shiny, blue, state-of-the-art trash trucks, by men wearing pressed light blue shirts and matching pants, dressed slightly better than the mail carriers.

Two dozen neighborhood watch programs were responsible for nineteen arrests in the last decade, mostly petty thieves and a couple of vandals. There hadn’t been a violent crime in Marlo since 1971, and even then the only one that got shot was a dog. A bank robbery twenty years ago ended with the robber asking to talk to a priest, where he confessed a gambling addiction and a fondness for teller number three.

Damien’s mind lit up, which it often did when words were involved. He penciled it in. An eight-letter word for “a linear stretch of dates.” Timeline. Perfect for 45 across.

So this was Marlo, where society and family joined in marriage. It was safe enough for kids to play in the front yards. It was clean enough that asthmatics were paying top dollar for the real estate. It was good enough, period.

Damien was a second-generation Marlo resident. His mother and father moved here long before it was the Best Place to Raise a Child. Then it had just been cheap land and a good drive from the city. His father had been the manager of a plant now gone because it caused too much pollution. His mother, a stay-at-home mom, had taken great pride in raising a son who shared her maiden name, Damien, and her fondness for reading the dictionary.

Both his parents died the same year from different causes, the same year Damien had met Kay, his wife-to-be. They’d wed nine months after they met and waited the customary five years to have children. Kay managed a real estate company. She loved her job as much as she had the first day she started. And it was a good way to keep up with the Joneses.

Until recently, when the housing market started slumping like his ever-irritated teenage daughter.

The beast’s red eyes declared it was finally time to leave. Damien grabbed his briefcase and walked the long hallway to the door, just to make sure his boss and sometimes friend, Edgar, remembered he was leaving a little early. He gave Edgar a wave, and today, because he was in a good mood, Edgar waved back.

Damien drove through the Elephant’s Foot and picked up two lemonades, one for himself and one for Jenna, his sixteen-year-old daughter who had all at once turned from beautiful princess or ballerina or whatever it was she wanted to be to some weird Jekyll and Hyde science experiment. With blue eye shadow. She never hugged him. She never giggled. Oh, how he missed the giggling. She slouched and grunted like a gorilla, her knuckles nearly dragging the ground if anyone said anything to her. A mild suggestion of any kind, from “grab a jacket” to “don’t do drugs” evoked eyes rolling into the back of her head as if she were having a grand mal seizure.

So the lemonade was the best gesture of kindness he could make. Besides offering to pick her up because her car was in the shop.

He pulled to the curb outside the school, fully aware he was the only car among the full-bodied SUVs idling alongside one another. It was a complete embarrassment to Jenna, who begged to have Kay pick her up in the Navigator. Some lessons were learned the hard way. But his car was perfectly fine, perfectly reliable, and it wasn’t going to cause the ozone to collapse.

She got in, noticed the lemonade, asked if it was sugar-free, then sipped it and stared out the window for the rest of the ride home. It wasn’t sugar-free, but the girl needed a little meat on her bones.

“Your car’s ready.”

Finally, a small smile.

***

“Have a seat.”

Frank Merret shoved his holster and belt downward to make room for the roll of belly fat that had permanently attached itself to his midsection. He slowly sat down in the old vinyl chair across from Captain Lou Grayson’s cluttered desk.

“You got a rookie coming in this morning.”

“I thought we had an agreement about rookies.”

“You ticketed Principal MaLue. We had an agreement about that too.”

Frank sighed. “He was speeding in a school zone.”

“He’s the principal. If he wants to hit Mach speed in the school zone, so be it. The rookie’s file is in your box.” Grayson’s irritated expression said the rest.

Frank left the captain’s office and killed time in the break room until lineup, where the rookie stood next to him, fresh-faced and wide-eyed. He was short, kind of stocky, with white blond hair and baby pink cheeks like a von Trapp kid. There was not a hard-bitten bone in this kid’s body.

Frank cut his gaze sideways. “This is Marlo. The most you can hope for is someone driving under the influence of pot.”

Lineup was dismissed, and the kid followed him out. “That’s not true. I heard about that bank robbery.”

“That was twenty years ago.”

“Doesn’t matter,” the rookie said. “I’m on patrol. That’s cool. I’m Gavin Jenkins, by the way.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Did you read my stats from the academy?”

“Not even one word.”

Gavin stopped midstride, falling behind Frank as he made his way outside to the patrol car. Gavin hurried to catch up. “Where are we going? Aren’t we a little early?”

Frank continued to his car. Gavin hopped into the passenger side. Frank turned west onto Bledsoe.

“Listen, Officer Merret, I just want you to know that I’m glad they paired me with you. I’ve heard great things about you, and I think it’s—”

“I don’t normally talk in the morning.”

“Okay.”

So they drove in silence mostly, checking on a few of the elderly citizens and their resident homeless man, Douglas, until lunchtime, when they stopped at Pizza Hut. The kid couldn’t help but talk, so Frank let him and learned the entire history of how he came to be a Marlo police officer.

Gavin was two bites into his second piece and hadn’t touched his salad when Frank rose. “Stay here.”

Gavin stared at him, his cheek full of cheese and pepperoni. “What? Why?”

“I’ve got something I need to do.”

Gavin stood, trying to gather his things. “Wait. I’ll come.”

Frank held out a firm hand. “Just stay here, okay? I’ll come back to get you in about forty minutes.”

Gavin slowly sat down.

Frank walked out. He knew it already. This rookie was going to be a thorn in his side.

Excerpted from Listen by Rene Gutteridge. Copyright ©2010 by Rene Gutteridge. Used with permission from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Raven's Ladder" Book Review

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Raven's Ladder

WaterBrook Press (February 16, 2010)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
There is one major issue when reading a series such as this one... it is really beneficial to read them as close together as possible. I have read the first two books in this series and thought they were excellent. A series that is fresh, innovative, fun, but deep and with an amazingly unique world that is captivating. The problem is that since putting book #2 down I have read about 200 other books so the details were a little cloudy going into this one. I valiantly spent the first couple chapters refreshing my memory and reintroducing myself to the characters as the first two books came flooding back. Once reacquainted with my surroundings I sat back and enjoyed myself.

Following Cal-Raven as he leads his people to a New Abascar, on their detour to Bel Amica and on side roads to the Cent Regus. His Captain Tabor Jan does his best to hold things together as Cal-Raven searches for where The Keeper wants them to go, but circumstances are out of his hands. Cyndere at Bel Amica still wants to help them in memory of her husband, but she is up against the Seers and Ryllion. The plots twist and turn and I really enjoyed this book. I am hoping that there is another book coming, there were lots of loose ends... but I honestly don't know. At any rate, this is a series that will capture your imagination, I just recommend reading them close together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jeffrey Overstreet is the skilled author of Auralia’s Colors, twice-nominated for a Christy Award, and Cyndere’s Midnight. His award-winning film reviews have appeared in Image, Books and Culture, Paste, and Christianity Today, and his “moviegoer’s memoir” Through a Screen Darkly is a popular exploration of faith and film in the U.S. and Europe. His website––LookingCloser.org––draws many thousands of readers each month. Jeffrey has recently spoken to large audiences in bookstores and universities across the U.S. and The Netherlands, including recent appearances at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing. Jeffrey and his wife Anne live in Shoreline, Washington.


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (February 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074673
ISBN-13: 978-1400074679

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


CAL-RAVEN IN FOUR

KINDS OF TROUBLE

Auralia reached out to Cal-raven. As he approached, the flame of the candle he carried flapped like a flag in a hard wind.

Her smile was mysterious, just as he remembered it. That detail had proved most difficult. Other aspects had come easier as his hands sculpted the stone. Her humble stature. The tiny knob of her chin. Her feet—ten small toes emerging like a row of beads beneath a leafy skirt.

Cal-raven was not a tall man, and yet Auralia, slight for sixteen, had stood only to his shoulder. He could see her open hands pressing through the span of fabric that she offered to any visitor.

Almost a year had passed since he’d found her in the Abascar dungeon, wrapped in a magnificent cloak. Their fleeting conversation was burned in his memory more vividly than yesterday. Unflinching, Auralia had voiced her faith in phantoms dreamed and legends whispered––like the Keeper, that benevolent creature who haunted dreams, a silent guardian, a listener.

Cal-raven had sculpted, erased, and then reshaped Auralia’s lips, her eyebrows with their question pinched between them, her whole face filled with trembling hope that others would receive and understand her vision. She had been more than human. Or better, she had been more fully human than anyone around her.

The king’s hunting hound, his golden tail wagging, sniffed at the statue’s ankles. “Hagah.” The dog slumped down to the floor and sighed, resigned to wait.

That fabric the statue held––Cal-raven had not even tried to give it the textures and colors of Auralia’s cloak. How could he? Its threads had glimmered with colors no eyes in Abascar had ever seen.

“Tell the Keeper,” he whispered, “that I don’t know where to go from here.” He ran his fingertips along the span that spilled like a waterfall from her upturned hands. “When I was a child, I’d have called out myself. It was easier then to believe.”

Auralia’s expression did not change; it would not unless he changed it. Her polished eyes would not return his gaze for, in the tradition of House Abascar portraiture, they lacked detail. While each statue in the cavern was distinct––the beloved and the burdensome, the wise and the foolish, the soldiers and the miscreants––they shared that same indecipherable gaze, an affirmation of something altogether unnamable, inimitable. The mystery of the heart.

Embarrassed at his habit of addressing this likeness, he knuckle-knocked Auralia’s forehead. “Last visit. Watch over these worn-out people for me, will you?”

Something shifted in the cavern behind him. Hagah lifted his head and followed his master’s gaze through the long rows of statues.

“Wynn?” Cal-raven waited.

Hagah’s huge black nose emerged from flabby rolls of fur and sniffed. Then the dog set his chin back down on the ground.

“You’ll catch our pesky shadow in a dream, won’t you?” Cal-raven said, but he gave another look back.

Why am I so agitated tonight? he wondered.

Because some of them are turning against you, replied his father’s ghostly voice. It’s been almost a year. You’ve mentioned New Abascar, but you still haven’t shown them a plan.

The statues that crowded the Hall of Remembering listened. These extravagant stone monuments gave shape to Cal-raven’s promise that he would never let his people forget the lessons they’d learned and that they would build a new house to honor those lost in Abascar’s cataclysm.

But the name grudgers, once given to those who had rebelled against their previous king’s oppressive ways, now applied to people distrustful of Cal-raven. Grudgers objected to his embrace of the foolish along with the wise; his equal concern for the weak and the strong; his insistence that every person, no matter how “useful,” be fed and shown the care of their healer. Moreover, grudgers grumbled about the way Cal-raven gambled their futures on possibilities revealed to him in dreams.

Tonight Cal-raven had taken the fire walk. Lesyl’s turn had come, but he had offered to patrol the passages for her. He wanted to hear her sing the Evening Verse one last time before his departure the next sundown.

“I’ve written a piece that can only be played by two, ”Lesyl had said when the fire walk brought him to the chamber of Auralia’s gallery. Sitting against the wall decorated by an array of colorful weavings, she tuned the twelve stringed tharpe, a formidable, sonorous instrument. She seemed relaxed, even happy, and oblivious that this was a farewell.

“Here.” She picked up a wooden spiral. “You remember how to play the hewson-pipe, don’t you? Oh, come now, don’t tell me you lack the time. You need the practice. ”When he did not approach, she persisted. “Scared?”

“No,” he laughed. Yes, he thought.

He had torn himself away from that conversation to continue the fire walk for fear of losing his fragile restraint. Not now. Not yet.

So while she sang, he paced that routine progress, ensuring that torches would not spark any mishaps, that candles burned within the spheres prescribed, that everything was in its right place.

He had led these survivors through a hostile winter and a dispiriting spring. Just as they had begun to define a possible departure, a visit from the mage sent him scrambling in another direction. Tomorrow he would slip away and venture north to pursue the vision his teacher had given him.

The day will come, Cal-raven, when you’ll have no choice but to leave Scharr ben Fray’s imagination behind and live in the real world. His father’s fury buzzed in his ear like a skeeter-fly. If you don’t, the ground will crumble beneath you.

Facing his father’s likeness, Cal-raven felt his throat tighten. “Whose inventions plunged into the earth?”

Listen to me, boy!You’re too old for toys.Who will lead the people when I’m gone? Someone whose head is full of children’s stories?

“Show me someone better prepared for the task,” he said. “I do not enjoy the burdens you’ve left me. ”He took the shield from where it was draped over the shoulder of the king’s likeness.

The statue’s lips were parted, and a strange feeling of discomfort crept up Cal-raven’s spine. He did not know what scared him more—the thought of the stone speaking or the thought that his dreams might prove false.

Hagah’s inquisitive nose bumped the edge of Cal-marcus’s shield, and he woofed.

“You’re not waiting for him anymore, are you?”

A rough tongue exploded from the hound’s expansive smile, and his tail thumped against the floor.

“You’ve given up on them both.” Cal-raven’s gaze strayed to the statue of his mother. The runaway.

It was a good likeness, or so he’d been told. Jaralaine’s appearance seemed an echo lost in time’s clamor. But troubled scowls from older folk told him that they recognized this imperious beauty. He did remember occasional tenderness and sighs of insatiable loneliness before her disappearance. He also remembered a fury against any suggestion of a will greater than her own.

He found himself suspended between the gravity of these statues and the forested world beyond, which called to him like a feast to a starving man.

“We’re all ready to be runaways now, Mother. If we don’t leave soon, the bonds that bind us will break.”

Hagah sniffed the base of the queen’s statue.

“No!” Cal-raven shouted.

Disappointed, the dog lumbered off through the rows to settle on the lanky figure of a hunter known by his nickname—Arrowhead.

Go ahead, Cal-raven thought. Arrowhead was a grudger. He threatened my father’s life. Wouldn’t hurt him to take some abuse for a change.

Hagah would have merrily complied, but the sound of something slithering sent him bounding back to Cal-raven’s boots, fangs shining beneath his retracting lip. Cal-raven blew out and dropped the candle, held his father’s shield close, and knelt to withdraw the throwing knife at his ankle.

There was only silence. Cal-raven tiptoed through the statues, Hagah stalking low before him.

The dog led him to the western wall, where a corridor ran along the inside of the cliff. Hagah put his snout down to a crack in the floor, noisily drawing in air. His tail stopped wagging.

“What have you found, boy?”

Hagah stiffened. Then he began to back away from the fissure, a low, rolling growl changing into a worried squeal.

“Something nasty?” Scars like burns from rivulets of hot oil marked the floor all about the break. “Let’s go. This place is giving me jitters tonight.”

A puff of wind touched his ear and then––thung! He turned to see an arrow embedded in the wall beside his head.

He sprang forward, leaping over the dog, and ran through the corridor. Down the stairs. Through tiers of tunnels.

In the distance Lesyl sang the Evening Verse. But his pursuer—pursuers, he could hear their footsteps now—did not falter.

Hagah turned around snarling. “No!” Cal-raven knew the dog was no match for an arrow. “Run, boy!” He pointed, and the dog bolted ahead just as he had been trained.

Cal-raven did not follow. He faced the rugged wall, placing his hands against the rock. His fingertips sought hidden inconsistencies, and finding those points, he applied pressure and heat in a way he could never explain.

The stone awakened, rippling in a sudden wind.

Cal-raven’s body clenched like a fist, forcing energy out through his hands. Then he pressed himself through the wavering curtain.

A midsummer evening’s breeze cooled his burning face as the sand sealed itself behind him.

The grudgers are out of patience. He brushed grit from his garments. It would not take long for his hunters to find their own exit. They were watching.Waiting for me to be alone.

“Keeper, protect me,” he murmured. Crouching, he moved away from the cliffs into narrow paths through thorn-barbed thickets that blanketed the plains.

Several turns into that maze, he sat down to catch his breath. I must get back inside where it’s crowded.

He thought about standing up and calling for the guards on the tiers above. But they would not see him here in the brake. And what else might come in answer?

A strange wind moved through the shallow sea of thorns. Bramble bugs skrritch-skrritched across the plains. Something wriggled under his foot. He set his father’s shield aside, tugged off his boot, and shook loose a rock spider.

He looked up through the brambled frame. A shooting star scratched a line across the night’s black dome. As if excited by the mysterious sign, faraway wood dogs shrieked in song.

When he jerked his sleeve free of a bramble and stood, his rustling stirred up a cloud of twilight-suckers. These insects were always a help to hunters, for they uttered tiny shrieks of delight as they descended on fresh dung or carrion.

Sure enough, as the pest cloud dissipated, he saw two copper coins. He knew that reflective stare from a hundred hunts. A lurkdasher. A year ago the sight of this swift, bushy-tailed creature would not have surprised Cal-raven. Lurkdashers were common burrowers in beds of brush. But Abascar’s best hunters had been catching little more than weakened scavengers, rodents lean for lack of prey. Across the Expanse the land had gone quiet, as if emptied by some mass migration.

If Cal-raven had been out for any other purpose, he’d have thrown his knife so fast the dasher would have fallen mid sprint. But he stayed still. Something wasn’t right.

The lurkdasher vanished. Cal-raven stood in the quiet, just another secret in this complicated night.

Then he felt a chill. He could sense a presence, fierce and intent.

He turned his head slightly and drew in a deep breath. Only a stone’s throw to his right an enormous animal, many legged, lurked in the thick web of boughs. He held that breath and waited, eyes slowly translating the contours of darkness and deeper darkness all around him.

Like a mighty hand, the creature clutched the ground, tensing knuckled legs. The bushes around it shivered as the lurkdasher stole away, and like a spider the creature raised two of its front legs from the brambles, bracing the other five against the ground. It was as big as a fang bear. Cal-raven felt a faint tremor. Then he heard a hiss, and the creature shifted its weight slightly, turning those raised limbs toward him.

Considering the sword at his side, he flexed his hand.

A crush of branches sounded to his left. His heart fluttered, a trapped bird, frantic. He turned and saw the second creature—the very same kind—with its feet planted as if it might pounce. In terrified confusion he saw the wind disturb a canvas that the creature drew behind it, a dark black sheet covering the thorns.

He did not know these monstrosities. They looked like they could outrun a viscorcat. And the forest was a long, long run ahead of him through a narrow, winding passage that he could not see clearly. But the cliffs—he might just make it back to the wall. The solid stone wall.

Ever so slowly he planted his hand on the hilt of his sword. He stepped backward, placing his foot down soundlessly.

The creatures stood as still as sculpted metal.

He took another step, drawing his sword half out of its scabbard. No, he thought. The starlight. They’ll see the reflection.

At his third step the creature on the right planted its two raised feet down on the ground, digging in as if it might spring.

He heard movement behind him and felt a blast of air like a bellows. His feeble hopes went out. But something deeper than his mind, stronger than his will, unleashed a cry. He called out, as he had so many times in nightmares, for the Keeper.

The creatures leapt from the brambles and seized him. His sword never escaped the scabbard.

He had a moment to think of Lesyl, interrupted in her song, looking up to receive unexpected news, the hewson-pipe coiled beside her.

Hot limbs wrapped around him, and his feet left the ground. The creatures were shelled, bone-tough, their bellies cushioned with bundles of hair. He struggled, limbs flailing. He was falling skyward, upside down. The pressure did not increase. Nothing pierced or stung or bit. The ground, faintly chalked in moonlight, spread like the sky over his head, and beyond his feet the heavens glittered like Deep Lake at midnight. The creatures held him suspended, their vast canvases snapping in the wind as if they were wings.

And then he saw that they were wings, spread out from a towering creature.

His captors were not animals at all but hands. He hung unharmed in the clawed clutches of a monster and was carried up toward its massive equine head.

Its eyes, glassy spheres full of stars, were fixed upon the northern horizon. Flames lined its nostrils. Its mane wavered as if it were creating, not surrendering to, the night wind. And the scales on its golden neck caught more than moonlight.

A helpless toy in its hands, he watched its attention turn to him, and his fear turned to confusion.

He recognized this creature. This shape had been fixed in his mind since he first drew breath. It had moved at the edges of his dreams. In nightmares it had come when he cried out for help, and sometimes when he could not call at all. During the long days of learning, he had pillaged his father’s history scrolls and hunting journals for evidence.

Nothing had prepared him for this. The creature drew in a cavernful of air, the shield-plates of its chest separating to reveal a soft lacework beneath. It held that breath. He knew it was reading him, reading the night, the skies. Then the curtains of its eyelids came down.

Are you kind? he thought. Dreams…speak true. Let the Keeper be kind.

The creature was stranger than anything he had sculpted when imagining its shape and dimensions. He felt embarrassed by his simplistic appeals, his feeble prayers. He was a mouse in the talons of a brascle, and as the creature reared up on the pillars of its hind legs, wing upon wing upon wing unfolding from its sides like sails on a great ship, he waited for judgment.

A sound like deep recognition ran tremulous through its form. Calraven thought it spoke his name––not the name given by his mother, but the name given by the powers that had crafted him—and every thread of his being burned with attention. As the eyes opened again, the stars within were moving.

It exhaled a scattering of sparks, but gently. The sound was like the Mystery Sea, roaring as it received the river flowing out through the Rushtide Inlet.

The air about the creature shuddered. A wave of noise beyond the range of Cal-raven’s hearing stunned him, conveying a word as clearly as if the creature had spoken. He would not, in the aftermath, know how to translate such a word. But it provoked in him an immediate resolve, a reverent promise.

He would follow. What else could one do when commanded by the Keeper?

Smoke and spice clouded the air and dizzied him. He was passed from clawed hands at the edges of the creature’s wings to one of its enormous, rough-fleshed feet, which held him like a woman’s hand cradling a bird. The creature set him down within a footprint on the path, and a wind whirled fiercely about him. Squinting up through the storm, he saw that the creature had taken flight.

In the space of a sigh, it was gone, a succession of lights darkening across the sky, northward over the Cragavar forest. Cal-raven lay helpless and numb like a discarded doll in the Keeper’s footprint.

Breath burst back into his lungs. He heaved, folding and fighting, a bird shaking away the shards of a shell.

It came when I called.

Never more invigorated, never more single-minded in purpose, he smiled back toward the cliffs. He had been changed.

In that moment everything changed for House Abascar as well. It began with a jolt, not a tremor.

Tabor Jan had been yawning as he reclined atop a boulder and counted the brightening stars. Sleep, out of reach for many nights, had seemed almost possible.

But then the ground beneath him bucked like a furious steed.He scrambled to the path, unsheathing his sword as if he might smite the earth in reprimand. From deep within Barnashum came a sound like hundreds of drums. The shaking intensified. The refuge exhaled clouds of dust through shielded entryways.

“Not part of the plan,” he muttered.

Rubble spilled down the cliffs in the quiet that followed, dust sighing into the thickets below.

“Cal-raven,” he said. Another name came to mind. Brevolo.

Then came a distant cacophony of voices. Rivers of people were rushing out onto the open ledges.

Even as he scanned the scene for the woman he loved, Tabor Jan pushed his way through the crowds, shouting to soldiers that their first priority was to find Cal-raven.

Hagah bounded suddenly into Tabor Jan’s path. The soldier seized the dog’s flabby neck. “Hagah—Cal-raven!”

Thrilled by the command, the dog turned as if jerked by a chain and almost threw himself off the cliffs. It was all the captain could do to keep up with him.

He found himself running toward the sound of triumphant yelps beyond the base of the cliffs. Dog had found master. The king was alive.

Kneeling among the brambles, Cal-raven embraced Hagah, blinking as if he’d been knocked silly by a falling stone.

“Are you hurt?” Tabor Jan scanned the shadowed ground.

“Didn’t you see it?” Cal-raven pointed north toward the Cragavar.

“See it? I felt it. I think they may have felt it in Bel Amica. We may have cave-ins. I’m taking you back.”

“No, not the quake,” said Cal-raven, exhilarated. “Didn’t you see it?”

Tabor Jan braced himself. “See…what?”Then the exuberance of Calraven’s

expression triggered a spasm of alarm. “No! Don’t say it!”

“But Tabor Jan, I saw—”

“Swallow that story, my lord!” He would have preferred a beast man sighting. “Don’t speak of it to the people. Especially not tonight.”

“Not tonight! What could bring them more comfort than to hear—”

“If the grudgers hear you respond to this quake with some wild description of a phantom on our doorstep—”

“Grudgers attacked me tonight.”

“Did you see their faces?”

“No, but I became acquainted with their arrows.” He laughed. “I also became quite familiar with the Keeper. Nose-to-nose, in fact.”

Tabor Jan scowled. “I haven’t slept for so long I’m having nightmares while I’m awake.”

“It pointed me north, Tabor Jan! We’ve got to ride—”

“We’ll ride tomorrow, Cal-raven. Just as you planned.” He urged Cal-raven back toward the cliffs, and they clambered over piles of rubble newly shaken from the heights. A tumult of voices filled the sky.

Hurrying down a steep ridge, an enormous guard came stumbling to meet them.

“Bowlder, how many are hurt?”

“Cave-in!” he wheezed. “Must…dig out…three people.”

“I assume you’ve called for Say-ressa. Without her healing hands we…” Tabor Jan stopped, stricken as he read Bowlder’s expression.

He turned to Cal-raven, but the king was strangely preoccupied with the moon above the northern horizon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Anything But Normal" Book Review


Anything But Normal
by
Melody Carlson


MY REVIEW:
The secret that Sophie is keeping isn't hard to figure out, and sadly enough it is a common problem (much more common than it should be) so it is probably good that there are some books out there that deal with it. I would say this is an older YA book (16-20) and my daughter won't be reading it yet, but the time may come. I think Melody does a great job getting into the head of a high school senior that is going through some major issues. I think she shows the guilt, humiliation and denial really well and then when the truth finally starts coming out I thought the consequences were handled well too. There is a lot of realism in this book. But it is a pretty heavy book so if teen pregnancy is an issue in your circle of friends, I would definitely recommend this book.

Sophie is starting a new school year. Shopping for it with her best friend should be fun, but nothing seems to fit, which is a major issue to a high school girl. But her biggest problem is the secret she's keeping. And she's about to find out that she won't be able to keep things under wraps for much longer. This page-turning novel explores the tangled web of choices, secrets, and love that all teen girls navigate. Melody Carlson enjoys a huge audience of teen readers. Now, Revell presents another new stunning story from an author who understands teen girls right where they are.

From the Back Cover

She thought she'd left the summer behind . . . This year should be the best of Sophie Ramsay's life. She's friends with all the right people, she's a shoo-in for editor of the school newspaper, and she's managed to turn the head of one of the hottest guys in school. But something's not quite right. Sophie has a secret--one she won't be able to keep under wraps for much longer. Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books, including Just Another Girl, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Visit Melody's website at www.melodycarlson.com.

Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Thank you to Revell for a review copy of this book.

"Love Finds You In Bridal Veil, Oregon" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon


Summerside Press (January 1, 2010)
by


Miralee Ferrell


MY REVIEW:
I have read a few of the Love Finds You In... books and for the most part they have been nice romances. Bridal Veil, Oregon is my new favorite! It is so much more than just a romance. It is history, mystery, drama, excitement and wonderful characters all in one. I loved Margaret and her heart for other people even as her world falls apart around her. A new chance for love comes along at the same time an old one does. What will she choose? There is so much in this book to keep you interested. I really enjoyed Love Finds You In Bridal Veil, Oregon.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

In October 2007 Kregel Publications published The Other Daughter with excellent reviews. The Romantic Times Review magazine gave it Four out of Four and a half stars, with a very strong review. Two different major motion picture studios are currently considering the book as a possible family movie, and my second book in the series (Past Shadows) is on my publishers desk being reviewed for a possible contract offer now.



In February of 2009, Love Finds You in Last Chance, California was published by Summerside Press

And Finding Jeena will release in April 2010 from Kregel Publications.

Miralee Ferrell lives in Washington with Allen, her husband of more than 37 years, ans has two grown children. She serves on staff at her local church ans is actively involved in ministry to women.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Against a backdrop of thievery and murder in Bridal Veil Falls, Oregon, a historic logging community, a schoolteacher is torn between the memories of a distant love and the man who could be her future.

Sixteen-year-old Margaret Garvey had given her heart to Nathaniel Cooper the night he disappeared from town. Four years later, just as she's giving love a second chance with Andrew, a handsome logger, Nathaniel suddenly returns. He steams back into Bridal Veil on a riverboat to work at the nearby sawmill to town with a devastating secret.

While grappling with the betrayal of those she trusted most, Margaret risks her reputation and position by harboring two troubled runaways who might be involved in the murder of a local man.

When disaster strikes the town and threatens the welfare of its citizens, Margaret will be faced with the most important choice of her life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon, go HERE

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Love & War" Book Review

LOVE & WAR
(Finding the marriage you dreamed of)
by
John & Stasi Eldredge

MY REVIEW:

Knowing what books John & Stasi have previously written I was curious to see what they could accomplish when they combined their writing efforts. Wow... good stuff. John & Stasi have made themselves totally transparent to their readers as they open up to what makes a good marriage and the obstacles we run into on a daily basis. I love how they compare marriage between a man and a woman to God's relationship with us. This is an amazing book that will change the way you look at your marriage and at your spouse!


This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Summary:

What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing
into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.

Check out the website here...


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Walking on Broken Glass" Book Review & Giveaway!

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Walking on Broken Glass


Abingdon Press (February 2010)


by


Christa Allan




MY REVIEW:
Abingdon Press is doing it again... they are pushing the envelope and stepping outside the regular bounds of Christian fiction. Here we have one of their newest releases with "Walking on Broken Glass" by Christa Allan. It is the story of Leah who comes to the realization that she is an alcoholic and checks herself into a rehab center. It is the journey of her going through rehab and re-entering her regular world after her month is up. She has to deal with her husband and his demands on her, her baby girl that died at 6 weeks from SIDS and a new surprise that she discovers while in rehab. It is a sobering look at a person walking through a difficult time. Seeing the confrontation with her best friend who finally flat out tells her that she is an alcoholic. To the conversation with her husband when she says she is going into rehab. All the way through Leah working on the first steps as she takes her recovery seriously. I thought that overall this book was very realistic and eye-opening for me. I was a little surprised that it ended so abruptly without a lot of closure for the reader, but I think that was part of the realism as well... not all stories are wrapped up neatly and tied with a bow... and even fewer stories can really play out before our eyes all the way through the epilogue. So while I would have loved to see more at the end, I think it was probably the way to go.
Good book, heavy subjects, definitely women's fiction.

************** If you think this book would touch your life then leave me a comment telling me why and I will enter you in the drawing. Be sure to leave your email address or I will not include your entry. Good luck!********************

**Thanks so Abingdon Press for a review copy of this book~**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Christa Allan, a true Southern woman who knows any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, weaves stories of unscripted grace with threads of hope, humor, and heart.



The mother of five and grandmother of three, Christa teaches high school English. She and her husband, Ken live in Abita Springs, Louisiana where they play golf, dodge hurricanes, and anticipate retirement.







ABOUT THE BOOK



Leah Thornton's life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But already sloshed from one-too-many drinks at a faculty party, Leah cruises the supermarket aisles in search of something tasty to enhance her Starbucks—Kahlua and a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice shatters the facade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears.



When her best friend Molly gets in Leah's face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make a decision. Can this brand-conscious socialite walk away from the country club into 28 days of rehab? Leah is sitting in the office of the local rehab center facing an admissions counselor who fails to understand the most basic things, like the fact that apple juice is not a suitable cocktail mixer.



Rehab is no picnic, and being forced to experience and deal with the reality of her life isn’t Leah’s idea of fun. Can she leave what she has now to gain back what she needs? Joy, sadness, pain and a new srength converge, testing her marriage, her friendships and her faith.



But through the battle she finds a reservoir of courage she never knew she had, and the loving arms of a God she never quite believed existed.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Walking on Broken Glass, go HERE

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Hunter's Moon" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Hunter's Moon


Bethany House (February 1, 2010)


by


Don Hoesel




MY REVIEW:
I loved Don Hoesel's book Elisha's Bones... it pulled me in and kept me captivated from the beginning. I was expecting the same kind of experience with this book and while still good, it was definitely different. First off I had a hard time getting into this book, it had a lot of set up and background and I felt like I was pretty far into it before I saw much action. It had a strong middle and then, BAM!, it was over. As I analyzed it I realized that this book seems like it is written to guys. By a guy to a guy. Good storyline, a setting that was pretty much a character in the story, lots of good stuff. But not written to me as a reader - though there are probably tons of people out there that will love it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Don Hoesel was born and raised in Buffalo, NY but calls Spring Hill, TN home. He works as a Communications Department supervisor for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal.

Don and hopes to one day sell enough books to just say that he's a writer. You can help with that by buying whatever his newest novel happens to be.



He lives in Spring Hill with his wife and two children.



ABOUT THE BOOK





Every family has secrets. Few will go as far as the Baxters to keep them. Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades. Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past. With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money. There are wounds even time cannot heal.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Hunter's Moon, go HERE

Monday, February 8, 2010

"The Marriage Project" Book Review

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Marriage Project

Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Kathi Lipp for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
My husband and I are embarking on The Marriage Project and have done the first 5 projects so far. Now let's be honest, I'm reading the book, he is not. But we are doing the projects together. I have to admit that when he got me a card on Day #2 and signed it with more than just his name, even though I knew it was coming, I was touched. For Day #3 we filled out info sheets on ourselves to give to each other so we would have them when we are out and about and get the right size shirt or the correct dessert or our favorite store's gift certificate. Neither of those things took much time, but they did take some thought and that is what this book is about. Making our marriages a priority is the purpose of this book.

My husband and I have had to switch quite a few of the projects around to fit our schedules, but the program is really flexible. For instance, Day #1 was supposed to be giving each other 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to do whatever they wanted to. For my husband that is definitely 30 minutes of unwind time when he first gets home from work. Our first day fell on a Thursday and that is impossible when I'm teaching dance classes before he gets home at 5:30 and I'm teaching until after 9:00... so we swapped that for Friday when I'm available to give him that time when he gets home.

I think what I love most about this book so far is the fact that we are discussing what the next day's project is and how to do it. We are getting in tune with each other and I am really enjoying that. Check out this book.

I will be updating over the next 16 days how the projects are going...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kathi is married to Roger, the Worship Arts Director at Church on the Hill in San Jose. They have four kids and live in San Jose, CA. When she’s not doing laundry, Kathi is a full-time speaker and writer whose articles have appeared in Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and Christian Parenting Today. Her first books, The Husband Project and The Marriage Project were both released by Harvest House.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925287
ISBN-13: 978-0736925280

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Why The Marriage Project?


With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see.

-- Ella Wheeler Wilcox


I have a shelf full of marriage books and I bet if you‘ve been married for any amount of time, you do too.


Most of the books that we own are great books. They talk about God’s desire for a healthy marriage, the theories behind a healthy marriage, and what a healthy marriage should look like if you apply these principles.


Some of those marriage books have had a great impact on my relationship with my husband.


Most of them? They ended up on our bookshelf as things I feel guilty for 1) not implementing on a daily basis and 2) not dusting.


When Roger and I got married we both brought two teenagers, two full-time jobs, and a host of volunteer activities into the relationship. There just wasn’t much time to be sitting up in bed after a long day, taking turns reading pages out of marriage enhancement books and staring longingly, with great resolve, into each other’s eyes.


On the other hand, Roger and I both determined to make this marriage work. We each had been in marriages that ended in divorce, and we were committed to being absolutely intentional to do everything we could, in God’s power, to see that we had a marriage that not only lasted, but also was honoring to Him and filled with joy.


That’s when the crazy ideas started to flow.


First, there was The Husband Project, where I challenged my friends (and myself) to bless our men for 21 days without expecting anything in return. While most women kept it a secret from their husbands, I had to tell Roger eventually (he had a right to know what book I was working on seven hours a day).


After that, Roger and I wanted a project to complete as a couple. The results of that are what you hold in your hand.


I wanted a way to bless my marriage that was very practical, fun, following God’s plan and purpose for marriage (and perhaps just a little bit flirty). I needed something that wasn’t just a theory about what to do about my marriage – I wanted some checkboxes. I wanted something that would instruct me, “This is what you do, now go and do it.”


That is what I needed, and that is what I ended up writing.


Becoming an Expert on Your Own Marriage


I’m definitely not a marriage expert. After one failed marriage and just four years into my second one, I’m probably not the first person you’d approach for marital advice. (Although the fact that Roger and I got married with four teenagers between us, and we’re still together, should earn us some kind of presidential Medal of Honor. Or at least a nifty certificate in a leatherette case.)


So I gleaned and condensed the very best advice from every marriage book on our shelves and adapted it into short, doable steps – or projects, that we could work on together.


This is how I have to manage almost every area of my life – whether it’s healthy eating, child rearing, Bible study, and most recently, marriage. It’s not enough that I know what I’m supposed to do; I need to have a plan to get up and do it.


Through these crazy little projects (most taking less than five or ten minutes) my husband and I learned new things about each other. We rediscovered what makes each other tick, confirmed some basics we already knew, and found new and exciting ways to encourage one another. While I may not be a marriage expert, I became an expert on my marriage.


I love how The Message Bible illustrates the words of James when it comes to putting feet to our thoughts:


Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? (James 2:14-17)


We can talk about marriage all day long. We can buy books and listen to podcasts about how we should have great marriages. We can listen to sermons and do Bible studies. But, unless we put some God-acts to our God-talk, no one benefits.


Hundreds of couples have done the Projects before you. These simple acts have been proven to change not only people’s behavior, but also their attitudes. I pray that God pours out His blessings on you and your marriage as you put feet to His plan for your marriage.