Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Surrender Bay

When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"

--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)

Denise Hunter

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gathering Information

Well, it won't be long until I can start posting my own reviews about the book choices that I've agreed to read! I'm so excited for November to get here to see how all of this develops! I've been reading, talking, investigating and asking hard questions to offer you the best information I possibly can about the books that will show up here on my blog.

While I realize that everyone has their own opinion, there seems to be a lot of debate among readers as to what constitutes good, Christian fiction. Is it the publisher's name on the spine? Is it content? Is it style? There are as many opinions as there are published books it seems. However, yesterday I was given the opportunity to have a conversation with the Vice President of the Fiction Division at Thomas Nelson Publishing, Allen Arnold. He gave me a lot of insight from the publishers point of view about how a book is chosen by their house. (To let you know, the man personally answered a complaint I had emailed to their company! Talk about first-class customer service!)

Apparently, Thomas Nelson has decided that if you are a Christian (agree with the basic tenants of the faith, the basic content of the Nicaean Creed, and proclaim to be a born again Christian) and they deem you to be a good story-teller, they will let you tell your story without a whole lot of restraint. Oh, they read the manuscript several times and go over it carefully, but in spite of that, I've found some things within the pages of their chosen works of fiction alarming and disturbing. While I understand that there is no way to please everyone (why would you even try?), it does seem that when you see the name of a Christian publisher on the spine you should expect a minimum amount of Christian content. I personally think it's a cop out to bury the message so deep that even an English Major with a vivid imagination can't find it! Yet overt Christianity doesn't win the dollars of the 40-something crowd that watches late-night television. It seems the all-mighty dollar is working some wicked scheme in the world of Christian publishing.

Anyway, I'm exploring these philosophies and asking some tough questions of the books I'm reviewing. Edgy fiction is one thing, but plain old non-Christian fiction is something else entirely. Hence the separate markets. However, they are competing for the same dollars it seems. Reeks of compromise to me.

I haven't fully decided which way to carry this thought-pattern, but I just thought it fair to let you know what I'm finding beneath some of the corporate rocks I'm looking under. It sure is an interesting world out there in the land of fiction!

More to come! Stay tuned!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Return


Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."

While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.

Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.

From the Back Cover:

With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.

Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.

"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."
--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar

Austin Boyd

Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism.

THE RETURN is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fountain Creek Chronicles by Tamara Alexander

I just finished the last two books - Revealed and Remembered in this awesome trilogy! It has been a while since I read such a beautiful picture of God's love and mercy in our lives! If you want to learn about the completeness of God's love and the strength that His love provides in the face of human opinion,heartache and difficult life circumstances you must read these books! Tamara Alexander writes the most tender love scenes and "grows" a relationship so gently that you will just sigh with satisfaction at the end of each scene. After reading her novels, I'd love to just ride around Colorado and soak up some of that awesome scenery! I would particularly love to do this in the company of my own precious husband! Ahhh!! Romance!!

Truly, Tamara Alexander is an author to follow! Her books are a wonderful testament to God's faithfulness in all circumstances!! Bravo!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine

Matt Bronleewe

Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm still reading....

Sorry things are quiet in blogland, but when your are reading, you do that quietly! I'm trying to work ahead on some projects specifically for reviewing here, so that has kept me busy. Now, I'm back to trying to complete Jan Karon's Mitford series before her new book comes out next month! I also have a few good reads by Tamara Alexander I need to finish before the library comes calling. So, I'll have new stuff to post soon. I haven't stopped reviewing, just trying to get the reading done in order to have something to say! Keep coming back! Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

P.S. about Brandilyn Collins

She is one of my FAVORITE authors!! When she says don't forget to breathe, she means it!! Her books are the ultimate thrill ride in suspense fiction!!! I LOVE Brandilyn Collins!!

Crimson Eve

Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”

“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”

Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”
– Library Journal, starred review

“Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did.”

“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book.” –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

“This is your best book! I could not stop reading!” – one of many readers with similar responses

Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.) No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.

About the Author

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reading...thinking out loud...and other odd bits.

I've been reading through some of my favorite blogs this morning trying to sort out my own thoughts about what I want to accomplish here in my own internet space. There are some beautiful sites out there, and there are discussions that dig pretty deep into a lot of different subjects. However, I'm going to stick with my main idea, and leave this blog to the realm of Christian fiction.

I'm reading like crazy these days, and so far, I've enjoyed what I've read. But I will encourage everyone...myself included in this....don't read so much fiction, or write so much fiction, that you push time for God's word out of your day. Start the day in the Word. Dwell on it throughout the day. Honor God's word in your choice of reading and honor Him in what you choose to write. It's not about "me" in this very temporal existence, it's about HIM...our Father, our Saviour, our Friend. Give Him first place and all other things will fall into their right place.

Just thinking out loud!

Friends help Friends Blog!!

Becky at Joyful Mother is giving away a copy of Boo Humbug by Renee Gutteridge. Sign up for a chance to win by October 29th!! Thanks Becky!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Amy Grant's newest book: Mosaic!!! 3 copies to Give Away!!

Mosaic, by definition, is a word that defines something designed out of small pieces to create a whole pattern – be it from small pieces of glass, cloth or any other thing that is colorful and unique. Biologically, the term describes a person displaying alternative characteristics of both parents. But, I suppose one of my favorite definitions is the image of colored threads arranged side by side so that the cross section shows a pattern. I’ve often been directed to the analogy of God weaving a beautiful pattern in our lives…we see only the strings and pieces of our own lives, but He views the completed and beautiful whole.

Amy Grant must have chosen the title of her book with all of those meanings in mind, for her book Mosaic Pieces of my Life So Far is exactly what the title implies. It is a book built of random stories from her life joined by the words of songs she has sung and poems she has written throughout her forty-some-odd years of living. However, once you reach the end of the book, you see the picture of her life as a whole and the beautiful way that God has worked in her and through her to create the light of His love among the people and places He has designed especially for her. She knows that and recognizes the awesomeness of His love and mercy in her life, and that is what makes Mosaic a beautiful book.

I will admit, the only thing I knew about Amy Grant when I agreed to review her book was that she sang a song (Age to Age) that I liked a lot when I was younger. Now, after reading the book, I know that she is only eight years older than I am and that her childhood was not much different from mine. Because of that fact, I could relate to alot of the stories she shared in her book. There were stories that made me laugh, made me cry and stories that made me want to dance unto the Lord as she did once. I love the way she loves her children and her extended family, and I especially love how real and personal her relationship is to the Lord.

I imagine that if I was ever presented with the opportunity to meet Amy that we would find a lot to talk about. I have always felt it was important to record the events of my life, and I too have written journals full of events and many poems along the way to commemorate the moments that stood out in my own forty years of living. As a Christian, I am able to look back on the mosaic of my own life and see how gloriously God designed each step of the way and I am able to be thankful for His faithfulness and mercy. I can go back to the words of the song Amy sung for the first time so long ago, and be very, very glad that Age to Age He’s still the same!!

It was a privilege to be able to review this book, and I would highly recommend a copy to anyone who enjoys people who are real and who love the Lord. I have three copies that I will be giving away here on my site, so I invite you to leave a comment…you might receive your own copy to keep!! Please leave your email address in your comment so I can notify you when you are chosen! I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! Thanks, Amy for following God’s direction and sharing the Mosaic of your life with us!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In High Places by Tom Morrisey

Haunting would be a good word to describe Tom Morrisey's book In High Places. I just finished the book moments ago, and I feel like I've just awakened from a dream...real, but not real. This book is a beautiful story of love, loss, sacrifice and God's mercy in the lives of those who seem determined to deny that He loves them.

I really loved Patrick and the way he shared his heart with the reader. I love the way he loved his dad and how he went to such lengths to make sure things were always as right as they could be between the two of them. Having finally reached the end of the story, I understand its perspective completely, and I love the way that Morrisey deals with the final question many of us deal with when someone has gone into eternity and we are left uncertain as to where they will spend that span. Tom Morrisey deals beautifully with the entire scope of that painful quest, and does it in a way that is tender and real.

I highly recommend this book! Thank you so much, Tom Morrisey for writing such a beautiful story! You are definitely NOT "mumbling to yourself in the dark!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Check out the interview with Creston Mapes!

Scrambled Dregs got a chance to hear from the author of Nobody, so check it out! It's a great interview and gives insight to the man behind the novel.

Psst! You might want to just go ahead and bookmark this blog anyway....Kelly has great insight too! :) Thanks, Kelly!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!

They said, “He’s a nobody.”
They were dead wrong.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.
His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?

“Nobody was absolutely riveting from the opening scene to the final page. With compelling characters, a plot that surprised me at every turn, and a subtle, yet profound message that moved me to tears, this book goes straight to the top of my highly recommended list.”
- Deborah Raney, author of Remember to Forget and Within This Circle

“A taut, entertaining novel of mystery, intrigue, and spiritual truth. Creston Mapes delivers a winner in Nobody.”
- James Scott Bell, bestselling author of No Legal Grounds and Try Dying

“Nobody had me fascinated from the first paragraph and kept the surprises coming to the very end. Somehow, as the pages flew by, it also managed to convey a beautiful picture of faith the size of a mustard seed. From now on I’ll read anything by Creston Mapes the instant it hits the shelves.”
- Athol Dickson, Christy Award—winning author of River Rising and The Cure

Creston Mapes

Creston Mapes is a talented storyteller whose first two novels, Dark Star and Full Tilt, made him a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year awards and the Inspirational Readers Choice awards. Creston has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries, including Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Oracle, Focus on the Family, and In Touch Ministries. Committed to his craft and his family, Creston makes his home in Georgia with his wife, Patty, and their four children.

He's been married for twenty-one years to the girl he first loved way back in fourth grade. They have three lovely girls and a boy in a very close-knit family, spending a lot of time together - watching old classic movies, going on outings, and taking in various school and community events and activities. Creston loves to go for morning walks with his dog, read, paint watercolors, meet friends for coffee and Bible study, watch hockey, take his wife on dates, and spend time in God's Word.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'm doing something new on the 15th of October!

I will be posting a book review for Amy Grant's new release Mosaic. I have three copies of this beautiful hardcover book to give away, and all you have to do is leave a comment on my review during the week of the 15th to be eligible to win! Please leave your contact information so I will be able to get this to you as quickly as possible! I've already finished my copy and it is AWESOME!!! But that's all I can say for now!! I'm looking forward to sharing this great book with you!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Books make life interesting!

Last weekend I found a few hours of quiet and enjoyed a rare all-in-one session with a new book by Stephanie Grace Whitson entitled Jacob's List. I finished this book almost a week ago, and as I returned it to the library today there were two words that came to mind....loss and redemption. The synapsis on the back cover alerts the reader that there is loss to be overcome, but only by reading the entire story do you get to enjoy how individually and poignantly each person copes with such loss. For one, it may be something that causes them to become angry and bitter while that same loss may be the very thing that tenderizes one's heart toward God and leads them to His redeeming grace.

Stephanie Whitson deals masterfully and realistically with a lot of very tough issues in this story. She doesn't try to erase or skirt around what is hurtful and difficult in our lives nor the fact that even during dark times we can experience bright moments of joy that give us hope to keep going. Most certainly her style will keep the pages turning! The ending was satisfying to me in that it left you open to possibilities but promised nothing certain. That was real to me. Life is like that.

I truly enjoyed this book. It was a great story for a quiet-all-in-one reading session. I was left pondering how important even our small acts of kindness are perceived by those around us. Sometimes just being that quiet, prayerful listener means as much as sharing an encouraging word. I look forward to reading more stories by this author!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.

With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,
she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year. Featured in the New York Times and USA Today, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show for her pioneering role in Christian chick lit.

Her last three books were:

Split Ends: Sometimes the End is Really the Beginning (April 17, 2007)

She's Out of Control (Ashley Stockingdale Series #1) (Nov 13, 2007)

Calm, Cool & Adjusted (Spa Girls Series #3) (Oct 1, 2006)