Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracey Bateman published her first novel in 2000 and has been busy ever since. There are two other books in the Westward Hearts Series, Defiant Heart (#1) and Distant Heart (#2)
She learned to write by writing, and improved by listening to critique partners and editors. She has sold over 30 books in six years.
She became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the early months of its inception in 2000 and served as president for a year.
Tracey loves Sci-fi, Lifetime movies, and Days of Our Lives (this is out of a 21 year habit of watching, rather than enjoyment of current storylines.
She has been married to her husband Rusty for 18 years, has four kids, and lives in Lebanon, Missouri.
ABOUT THE BOOK
For the past seven years, Ginger Freeman has had one goal: find Grant Kelley and make him pay for allowing her brother to die. Growing up motherless with a father who leads an outlaw gang, Ginger isn’t exactly peaches and cream. So when she finally tracks down Grant on a wagon train headed west, she figured providence had stepped in and given her the chance she’s been waiting for.
On the wagon train, finally surrounded by a sense of family and under the nurturing eye of Toni Rodde, Ginger begins to lose her rough edges. She’s made friends for the first time and has become part of something bigger than revenge. Not only has her heart softened toward people in general, but God has become a reality she never understood before. And watching Grant doctor the pioneers, she’s realized she can’t just kill him and leave the train without medical care. Putting her anger aside, before long, Ginger’s a functioning part of the group.
But when the outlaw gang, headed by her pa, shows up and infiltrates the wagon train, she is forced to question her decision. Only self-sacrifice and her new relationship with God can make things right. But it might also means she loses everything she’s begun to hold dear.
If you would like to read from the first chapter of Dangerous Heart, go HERE
I'm still reading this one (life got busy this weekend with Air Force commitments so less time for reading), and it's really good so far. I think what makes this book good is that the characters are worth me investing my time and attention, and the story keeps moving along.
**Edited to add**
I did finish this a couple days after posting. I enjoyed it. It wrapped up the trilogy's loose ends and filled in enough that I was able to figure out what had happened in book 2, which I had not read.
Tracey Bateman writes good historical fiction. If you like westward expansion stories, check out this series!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
THE SHAPE OF MERCY: Sunny!
BON APPETIT: Yan!
LOVE STARTS WITH ELLE: Michelle! (Michelle was one of "my girls" when I was an RA in Leslie Hall!)
I'll be emailing you to get your mailing addresses.
Thanks for all of you who entered! I (and I'm sure the authors too) appreciate you!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
That said, today I am home sick. My dear and loving Chaplain Hubby, who is a generous guy, unwittingly shared his sinus infection with me. It took me a few days to break out with it full-force (he said that's because I am slow; I glared at him before I sneezed), but here I sit, in my flannel jammies, enjoying my wireless internet connection from the comfort of my book- and notebook-strewn unmade bed, with a travel mug of coffee handy and kleenexes and lip balm at the ready.
My lovely boss at Curves told me last night I needed to stay home and get better. I was only supposed to work a 2-hour shift anyway, because school is out today and tomorrow for the statewide teachers' convention.
Maybe now I'll have time to catch up on all the book reviews I have yet to write.
Maybe after my nap.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Deciding to leave her familiar home in Seattle and her could-be boyfriend Dan, Lexi moves to a quaint village in France to pursue her dream of becoming a pastry chef. Life among the French initially proves to be less than easy as Lexi is challenged by her coworkers, missing her friends, and failing to master the perfect baguette.
Determined to find her place, Lexi settles into the culture and life becomes la perfection. She finds a church, meets a new friend, and makes the acquaintance of a child named Celine—as well as Celine’s attractive, widowed father, Philippe. Even Patricia, the gruff pastry cook, shows a softer side as she mentors Lexi in the art of baking.
Fast, fun, and packed with French culture, foodie appeal, and unique recipes readers will love accompanying Lexi on her journey in Bon Appetit as she tries to choose between two countries, two men and the faith to lean on God while savoring the surprises life brings!
This book was tres delicieux! The story was amusant, the characters were sympatiques, and worst of all, it made me crave bread and coffee! (I just might have to get a baguette and some Nutella at the store later!) It also reminded me of why I loved taking French in school and how fun it can be.
To purchase this book, please click on the book art at the top of this post, which will take you to Amazon.com
If you want to be eligible to win a copy of this book and live in the United States, leave a comment below! I'll choose a winner via random.org at the end of the week.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Elle is Caroline (of Sweet Caroline)'s friend, and the book opens with her engagement. She seems so happy, but there are warning bells pealing loudly all over the place, that Elle cannot (or chooses not to) hear.
In the meantime, Elle's house is being rented by Heath, who is a lonely single dad. When Elle finds herself unexpectedly homeless, she decides to stay in her loft while Heath lives in the house. This arrangement serves as a great chance for our gal Elle to do some soul-searching and praying.
Elle's living the dream-but is it her dream or his?
Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina-lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she's found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.
Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She's never known a man like Jeremiah-one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.
But Jeremiah's just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she's serious about their relationship, Elle will take "the call," too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle's friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.
Is love transferrable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?
What I love about Rachel Hauck's books is that they're fun with substance. They have fun characters, with funny scenes, yet real-life struggles and faith lessons to learn.
This is another "I loved it" book from Pattie's reviews. Romantic Times may have given it four stars, but I give it five.
Here's a cute book trailer for the novel:
To order Rachel's book on Amazon, just click here or click on the cover above.
I have an autographed copy of this novel to give away to one lucky reader! To be eligible you must leave a comment (and live in the United States).
Thursday, October 16, 2008
My new Hoover steam vacuum really sucks!
It truly does. It has not gotten everything out of my downstairs carpet, but it did a darn good job getting most everything up! My husband was not entirely unhappy that I spent the money on the steamer, when he saw what a great job it did.
I am no longer embarrassed at how hideous our carpet is downstairs.
I'll get the clutter under control now too, soon. I really will.
Too bad the Hoover won't take care of that, too.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Publisher's Book Summary:
Women of all ages will appreciate this highly-readable, layered, and fast-paced story about self-discovery at all stages of life. With rich undertones of intrigue and romance, this contemporary novel with a historical twist explores personal blinders and how upbringing and conditioning can shape people to judge others in ways that can lead to unhappy consequences.
Lauren Durough is a college student who finds herself on the road to self-discovery as she is hired by octogenarian Abigail Boyles to transcribe the journals of Mercy Hayworth, a seventeenth-century victim of the Massachusetts witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?
It's no surprise that I truly enjoyed this book. Susan Meissner writes such great fiction that offers more to its readers than a few hours of pleasure. It is fiction that has the potential to change the reader's thoughts or views.
Without giving too much away, I will tell you some of my favorite things. There was enough suspense to keep me turning the pages. The characters are sympathetic enough to draw me into their world and gain their trust. Lauren's transcription of Mercy's diary is intriguing and thought-provoking. And Abigail, well, I just want to break through her reserve and give her a big hug. The relationships among the women in the story are what make the story sing.
I was thrilled to actually speak with Susan on the phone during the ACFW-sponsored book extravaganza at the Mall of America a few weeks ago. I sent my mom and sister to the Mall, and my sister called me to tell me all about it. Then suddenly I heard, "Well, here, talk to Susan!" and I found myself on the phone with her! I have to say, it took everything within me not to scream like a rock fan! We chatted for a bit, and it was lovely. She is so nice!
Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Susan via email, and she kindly answered many of my questions; I offer this interview for your enjoyment, edification, and amusement, not necessarily in that order!
The Salem Witch Trials are all about judgment. Have you ever been judged by others, or had presuppositions placed upon you?
Not to the degree that those in Salem were. Not by a long shot. The only way I was able to imagine what it must be like to endure that kind of prejudice was remembering what it was like to play the role of a young woman accused of witchcraft. I was in a play called "To Burn a Witch" when I was 13, and my character started out in a jail cell with other accused girls, innocent all of them. It was scary pretending I was accused of something I would never do and no one believed in my innocence. My character decides to save herself by accusing one of the other girls in the cell of bewitching and tormenting her. My character is then led away to safety and the girl she accused is led away to her execution. My character lived, but at a terrible cost. The girl she accused was executed, but she never gave up on truth. I hated being the girl who walked out on truth.
Which of the women in the story did you feel drawn to the most: Lauren, Mercy, or Abigail?
Of the three, Lauren is the one whose thoughts stayed with me long after I would quit writing for the day. I’ve always wanted to be as benevolent as Mercy (and I know I’m not) and I don’t see myself making the same mistakes as Abigail, but I saw myself often in Lauren as the story revealed how she truly doesn’t want to judge people, but she does. She just does. We all do. We see a homeless man begging on the streets and we make all kinds of assumptions about how he got there and what he would do if we reached out to help him. We see a pregnant teenager or an obese child or a woman wearing diamonds and Jimmy Choos and we assume the teenager has no morals, the child has no restraint and the woman is wealthy and therefore has no worries. We believe these things because the crowd tells us it’s so. It seems to permeate culture, regardless of the generation. Whatever the crowd says, we too easily believe.
I actually didn’t visit Salem. I’ve read enough to know that the Salem that shows up in my book doesn’t exist any more. A friend of mine who drives past Salem on her way to work everyday tells me there is an apartment complex and playground on what was once Gallows Hill, the place where the accused were hanged. She tells me that in the month of October, Salem becomes a haven for all things witches and Wiccan. That just makes no sense to me. The people in Salem who lost their lives in 1692 weren’t witches. They were innocent. That’s the whole point. They died holding onto their faith and refusing to confess an allegiance to the Devil, even though to do so would’ve saved their necks. True, they would’ve been driven out of Salem and lived as outcasts the rest of their lives, but they would’ve been spared. These brave people, mostly women, wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t turn their back on God. That is amazing to me. And from what I hear, that isn’t celebrated as much as it should be in present-day Salem.
Here's a question from one pastor's wife to another: Do you play the piano?
Well, here’s the thing. I do play the piano. But I routinely have a messy closet and messy drawers and my shoes are never where they should be. Just thought you needed to know that.
(Cool. I play the piano, albeit badly. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'm a total packrat, particularly with books.)
Is the piano question the most annoying question you've ever been asked as a pastor's wife? If not, what was the worst question?
I don’t get annoyed by dumb questions. I am annoyed far more by shoppers who saunter like they’re sleepwalking and leave their carts in the middle of the aisle. They’ve no respect for the rest of the people on the planet. They drive me crazy.
Thanks, Susan! Long-distance hugs sent out to you!
To be eligible to win a copy of The Shape of Mercy you must live in the United States and leave a comment below! Winner will be chosen by random.org's integer generator (just because it's fair).
Saturday, October 11, 2008
This book turned out to be more of a romance than I originally expected, and yet, it wasn't too romancey. It was also more "real" than some inspirational Christian fiction, in that the heroine is honest about how things strike her (for example, she describes something as "sexy," and yet she is always modest in her dress).
The main conflict, however, is between Allie and her self. Her perceived self, her actual self, and the self she wishes to become. It's a struggle I can completely identify with.
I like Siri Mitchell's fiction a lot, as I've mentioned previously. The tone of this book was sort of like The Cubicle Next Door, which I also enjoyed.
I am sending this book to my friend Monika, who loves Japan. I think she'll like this book too.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I love reading. It's like breathing to me. It's how I unwind, how I while away time, how I survive travel, how I learn. It's such a part of me and my life.
I rarely go anywhere without a book. I tell people all the time what I'm reading. I ask them what they read.
If I hadn't met so many people like me, I'd think I was weird. But there are a plethora of bookish people in this world, and I'm so proud to be a book lovin' girl.
I'll leave you with one of my very favorite quotations.
PS: To meet my personal reading goal for the year, I only need to read 20 more books. It's still the beginning of October. There's plenty of time.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Mrschkfricasee is the winner of Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Me!
Congratulations and thanks to Random.org for the number generator.
Monday, October 06, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.
But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.
Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.
A Constant Heart is her sixth novel. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. She has been called one of the clearest, most original voices in the CBA.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In a world of wealth, power, and privilege...love is the only forbidden luxury.
“Trust was a valuable commodity at court. Traded by everyone, but possessed by no one. Its rarity was surpassed only by love. Love implied commitment and how could any of us commit ourselves to any but the Queen? Love implied singularity and how could any of us benefit another if our affections were bound to one in exclusivity? Love was never looked for and rarely found. When it was, it always ended badly.”
In Queen Elizabeth’s court where men and women willingly trade virtue for power, is it possible for Marget to obtain her heart’s desire or is the promise of love only an illusion?
A riveting glimpse into Queen Elizabeth's Court...
Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Her destiny is guaranteed ... at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen.
If you would like to read the first chapter of A Constant Heart, go HERE
This is Siri Mitchell's first historical novel, so comparing it to her previous contemporary work is sort of like comparing green and red apples. They're both good, but in different ways.
I really enjoyed A Constant Heart. It was enjoyable to read. I learned quite a bit about Elizabethan beautifying rituals that I do not remember learning about, when I was studying Shakespeare in graduate school.
This novel is not overtly evangelistic; the characters' faith is certainly a part of the story, but it's also consistent with the Elizabethan worldview (which I *did* get in my Shakespearean graduate classes!).
I recommend this book for any fan of historical romance.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michelle Sutton has lived in Arizona and since 1991 and has two sons and a husband of 18 years. She began writing fiction in August 2003 when God inspired her to write a novel with realistic characters that would glorify Him. In 2004 she joined ACFW - American Christian Fiction Writers. In 2006 Michelle ran for Volunteer Officer on the ACFW Operating board and ACFW members elected her to serve a two year term. She sold her first manuscript Then Sings My Soul (now re-titled It's Not About Me) to Sheaf House and her debut novel was released in Sept. 2008. The second book in the Second Glances series - It's Not About Him - will be released the following fall (Sept. 2009.)
Last, Michelle is Editor in Chief of the new Christian Fiction Online Magazine. The debut issue released in July 2008. The magazine is sponsored by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Annie has it all. She's attractive, graduated with honors, was accepted at the college of her choice, has supportive parents, good friends, and a steady boyfriend who loves her. One night an unexpected visitor appears and Annie's safe world is destroyed by a brutal attack. As she tries to pick up the pieces of her broken life, she is torn between two brothers, both of whom claim to love her. She is attracted to both, but which one does she love? How can she choose when her decision may cause a permanent rift between them? And more important, will she give her heart to the One who will sustain her even when human love fails.
"...the exquisitely written spiritual content shows the reader that redemption is available, no matter what the circumstances."
- 4 Stars, Romantic Times!
Instead of dealing with timely issues like alcoholism, premarital sex and pornography in a preachy, oh-so-tired fashion, Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Me gets to the heart of the matter with a shocking dose of realism and poignant storytelling. From the first paragraph, Sutton weaves together a thoroughly entertaining story that'll keep readers intrigued for the long haul as they get to know Annie, Dan, Tony and Susie—young adults that probably don't look and sound all that different from themselves. Now that's a seriously refreshing turn for Christian fiction."
~Christa Ann Banister~, author of Around the World in 80 Dates, (NavPress 2007) and Blessed are the Meddlers (NavPress 2008)
It's Not About Me is a wonderfully entertaining and deliciously suspenseful read that will keep you turning the pages. Sutton doesn't back away from the drama and with all of the twists and turns, It's Not About Me is hard to put down. I cannot wait for the sequel! Bravo!"
~Victoria Christopher Murray~, Essence best-selling author of multiple titles including The Ex Files and the upcoming YA series The Divine Divas
“Annie captured my heart on the first page and kept me enthralled to the very end. This edgy, yet surprisingly poignant story travels the inroads of intimate relationships – man to woman, brother to brother, parent to child, friend to friend. But especially satisfying is the author’s delicate handling of the relationship between a searching soul and the loving Savior who alone possesses the power to work all things out for the good. A terrific debut for Michelle Sutton. I can’t wait to read more from this talented author!”
~Virginia Smith~, author of Just As I Am and Sincerely, Mayla
"Michelle Sutton's gritty writing style will very likely go straight to the hearts of teens, addressing what they deal with every day in what is all too often grim reality for our youth. Sutton is no doubt a refreshing and much needed voice in today's YA fiction."
~Tina Ann Forkner~, Author of Ruby Among Us
Waterbrook Press/Random House
If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of It's Not About Me, go HERE
It may seem trite and unoriginal, but it bears repeating: Michelle Sutton most certainly lives up to her tag of "Edgy Inspirational Author." Her book is both.
The "edgy" parts of the book sometimes made me cringe, but often made me think, especially about Christian fiction in general. I think there's a place and a market for clean and smooth stories; at the same time, I think the more real and edgy books have their place in Christian fiction as well.
Inspirational, yes. The characters run the gamut of experiences and emotions, and Michelle handles all of it with panache. I felt good about the story and the characters and where they were headed once the back cover of the book was closed.
I emailed Michelle to let her know my thoughts about the novel, and she was kind enough to let me share some of her insights with you.
I loved what she said about the novel: "I just write about real issues without padding them with 'fake' Christianity. My characters are all real." Indeed, this is true. Teens and young adults, unless they live in a plastic bubble, deal with drugs, alcohol, sex, parental relationships, and sometimes all of that and church too.
She also noted, "The teen reviewers so far have said that teens can learn a lot from the story and that it makes them want to wait for marriage even more and to be careful to avoid alcohol altogether. :) So at least they are leaning in the right direction. They are hearing the message and it's 'don't let people influence you or it will just hurt you in the end.'"
If teens are influenced by a story such as this, then I say BRAVA to Michelle Sutton, and keep on writing that edgy inspirational fiction!
I'll be giving away a copy of this book, so if you live in the USA and want to be eligible, please leave a comment and I'll choose over the weekend. Thanks :)