Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Salon February 28, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

* Overall I had a good weekend. It went by so quick. It is hard to believe it is Sunday night already.

* I only read three books:
- Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis
- The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard
- The Lord is my Shepard by Debbie Viguie

* They were okay my favorite is probably the Country House Courtship. I will have reviews of all three in the next few weeks.

* I started A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer and so far I like it.

* Today I did my usual chores and went out to eat at Chili's with my sister, dad, and grandmother. It was good. And the weather was actually quite nice this weekend here in the Deep South.

* I have been on a baking kick lately. I made heart shaped valentine cookies, blueberry muffins, and chocolate coca cola cake. The cake is so good. Everyone at work loved it.

* I am so happy Spring is only three weeks away. In addition the Spring Reading Thing is coming up hosted by Katrina at Callipidder Days which I love her reading challenges.

* I hope everyone has a great week and lots of reading time. :)

January Books Read 2010

I know this is really late but better than never. So I had a really good reading month in January. I finished 26 books. Four of them were non fiction which is amazing for me. My absolute favorites are in bold below. My least favorite was Becca by the Book. My favorite of the non fiction is probably This is Your Brain in Love by Dr. Earl Henslin.


January
1. Her Forever Cowboy by Debra Clopton
2. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
3. Love Finds You In Holiday, Florida by Sandra Bricker
4. Camp Club Girls and the Mystery at Discovery Lake by Renae Brumbaugh
5. Sydney's DC Discovery by Jean Fischer
6. The Doctor's Perfect Match by Irene Hannon
7. The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs (Non fiction)
8. This Is Your Brain in Love by Dr. Earl Henslin (Nonfiction)
9. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
10. The Mountain Beyond by Terry Miller (Memoir)
11. The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle by Raeanne Thayne
12. Lavender Morning by Jude Deveraux
13. Screen Play by Chris Coppernoll
14. Thicker Than Blood by C. J. Darlington
15. Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery
16. The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher
17. A Lady Like Sarah by Margaret Brownley
18. Endless Night by Dana Mentink
19. Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater
20. The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
21. Kelly's Chance by Wanda Brunstetter
22. Becca by the Book by Lauren Jensen Walker
23. Angel's Den by Jamie Carie
24. The Simple Life by Thom and Art Rainer (Nonfiction)
25. Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate
26. Third Time's a Charm by Virginia Smith

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello (Review)



Book Description
Forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon unravels mysteries in her hometown of Richmond where things are never quite what they seem.


Raleigh's exemplary service in Seattle opened the door for her disciplinary transfer to be lifted, allowing her to return to her home FBI field office in Richmond, VA. A civil rights case turns out to be much more complex than anyone thought when Raleigh is forced to go undercover in a drug trafficking case.


Things aren't any simpler at home. Raleigh's old friend DeMott wants her to find time for things outside of her FBI work: friendship and maybe something more. Raleigh will have to rely on her sharpest skills--and the faith that is slowly returning to her--to navigate her way through these clouds.

My Review:
This is the third book in the Raleigh Harmon series. I have read the first two and anticipated this one greatly. It definitely lived up to my expectations. Even though the subject matter is harsher in this book the writing is the best so far. I loved her beautiful descriptions and her overall use of words was amazing. It held my attention from page one. Raleigh has returned to Richmond, VA, home. Things are not going that well at work and home. She is tagged to work a cross burning at a local plantation that has been bought by a big time black rapper. Things are not always what they seem though. At home her mother seems to be losing touch with reality and their house guest is acting weird.
There were several twists and turns and surprises in this book. It is hard to describe as the plot has several lines that cross.
Added to everything else her old friend DeMott starts hanging around again. The ending is great and wraps up the loose ends of the mystery/suspense part but not her personal life. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. Highly Recommended.
I received this book to review from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Out With The In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill (Review)




Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Revell; 1 edition (January 1, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0800733902

About the book:
Skylar Hoyt may have vowed to change her partying ways, but it's not so easy to change her friends. Even though the old Skylar is gone, she's still not sure who this new Skylar really is. 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:
Overall I liked this second book in the The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series. I read it in order which I recommend because the second flows directly from the first. I did not face any of the situations dealt with in the book in high school but they definitely seemed realistic. The characters are well developed and the plot lines interesting. There are three the main being Skylar and her life. The two minor ones involve her pregnant teen sister and her feuding parents. The plot lines interact fine. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see what happens with the characters. Recommended especially for fans of Christian YA. :)
About the author:
Stephanie Morrill is a twentysomething living in Kansas with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their daughter. She loves writing for teens because her high school years greatly impacted her adult life. That, and it's an excuse to keep playing her music really, really loud.
Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Review copy provided by Revell.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cowgirl at Heart by Christine Lynxwiler (Review)


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Cowgirl at Heart



Barbour Books (February 1, 2010)



by



Christine Lynxwiler






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.


My Review:

I really enjoyed this second book in the McCord sisters series. It focuses for the most part on Elyse McCord, dog whisperer. We do see other members of the family again including a small side plot involving the two main characters from the first book. There is a little suspense thrown in Matthew's wife's murder and then someone stalking Elyse. In the end there was an unexpected twist involving the murder of Matthew's wife I did not see coming. Overall this is a good Christian romance novel. I would read the series in order for maximum effect. Recommended.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's On Your Nightstand? Tuesday February 23, 2010









I love pictures for this carnival. I think they show better than me typing tons of titles. The first picture has my library books currently checked out. The second picture is all the Love Inspired (Steeple Hill) books on my TBR. The last picture are my books I am reading for review and that stack probably changed the most from last time. I have read 52 books so far this year. I desperately need to do my January wrap up post. I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading ... more books to add to my list. :)

Go here if you would like to participate:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Classics Challenge 2010

http://classics2008.blogspot.com/

Classics: We love them, we hate them, now we are going to challenge ourselves to read more of them. The challenge runs April 1 to October 21, 2010.

**Choose Your Level (Keep reading for Bonus)1. Classics Snack - Read FOUR classics
2. Classics Entree - Read FIVE classics
3. Classics Feast - Read SIX classics

**Rules/Guidelines
1. Cross-posting with other challenges is allowed (and encouraged!)
2. Audiobooks are fine
3. Re-reads are acceptable, BUT books must be finished after April 1st to count for the challenge
4. Lists don't have to be set in stone; you can change your selections at any time
5. Have Fun!!
6. You do NOT need a blog to participate.

**Bonus!! (Optional)
In the past two challenges we compiled a list of books that we think might be considered classics one day. I've wiped out that old list so we can start fresh, but to get an idea of what others suggested in the past, see HERE and HERE. Pick one and read it in addition to your list but this is optional.


Brittanie:
I am signing up for the Classics Snack level just so I don't get overwhelmed. Hopefully I will read more than that because one of my informal goals for this year is to read more classics. I have discovered Georgette Heyer and Maud Hart Lovelace in the past year and I am enjoying both of their books so I hope to read some of them. Maybe a Elizabeth Gaskell if I can wait that long. No formal list right now. I can't wait for the challenge to begin. :)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? February 22, 2010


Books Read this past week:

- Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

- Anna Meets her Match by Arlene James

- A Match Made in Texas by Arlene James

- The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

- The House in Grosvenor Square by Linore Rose Burkard

- CowGirl at Heart by Christine Lynxwiler

- the Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello

- Out With the In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill

- Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

- My Deadly Valentine by Valerie Hansen and Lynette Eason

Books I am currently reading:
None

Books I plan to read next:

- Listen by Rene Gutteridge

- Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet

- Prevailing Love by Loree Lough

- The Lord Is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie

- Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren

- A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus

- Songbird Under A German Moon by Tricia Goyer

- How to Never Look Fat Again by Charla Krupp

Books I Reviewed Last Week:

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/02/kiss-for-cade-by-lori-copeland-review.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/02/about-book-sophie-is-starting-new.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/02/swinging-on-star-by-janice-thompson.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/02/pastors-wife-by-jennifer-allee-review.html

The Week in Words: February 22, 2010


Melissa at Breath of Life Ministries host this weekly meme highlighting quotes from our reading material in the previous week.

"...that what's more astounding than justice is mercy. The times when we don't get the consequences we deserve."

p. 236 Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

"She spoke with authority, a calm that comes from knowing, and not for the first time, I wondered about people's attitudes, whether half the world's agony would evaporate if each person discovered the talent God gave them instead of squandering days painting by numbers laid out according to someone else's performance. Parents. Peers. Pastors. We read books bursting with self help, about roads less traveled and finding bliss and all those so called secrets to life. But they all left out the most crucial factor. We fought an enemy, invisible yet definite, who diligently worked to block us from our intended purpose, keeping us from the one thing that brought joy, that connected us to each other and to our Creator. Condemned and resentful, miserable and uncertain, we filled our minds with chatter from talk show hosts, always hoping for the answer, when all the while one simple supernatural prescription waited: "Come to me.""

page 105 the Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon February 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

* I can't believe the weekend is over already. Is it awful to wish for next weekend to already be here? I think it is because we are not promised to wake up each morning. A little morbid ...

* I had a good weekend and I read lots of books most good. I had my hair cut Saturday and it is way shorter in the back and angled in the front. I like it.

* I read:
- The House in Grosvenor Square by Linore Rose Burkard
- Cowgirl at Heart by Christine Lynxwiler
- the Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello
- Out with the In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill
- Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

* The only one I did not like very much was Burn. It was just weird especially the last fourth. Not sure how to review it. Everything else was good.

* I am way behind in reviewing. I have read 49 books so far this year. I have been too overwhelmed to count how many I have left to be reviewed. lol

* I joined Goodreads. I have been a member of Shelfari for years but this one is a little different.

* I am finishing up the laundry and I hope to read at least one more book tonight.

* I hope everyone has a great week and find lots of reading time. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Listen by Rene Gutteridge

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.***

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.

Brittanie: I am not on this tour but I received the book to review from the publisher. I have not finished it yet but I have loved all of her books I have read so far. I wanted everyone to see the preview. This book looks really cool. I can't wait to read it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer Allee (Review)

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


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


Jennifer AlLee






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

My Review:

I loved this book. It is one of my favorites so far this year. Well written with interesting plot and characters it held my attention from the beginning to end. The plot line was refreshing not jaded as one might think just looking at it. There were several lol parts and some tender parts. It is not preachy but the message flows naturally. Several twists keep the plot moving along. I highly recommend this book. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson (Review)



There's a fine line between ambitious and crazy.


Bella's just not sure where it is.


Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. Not only does she have the perfect guy, but she's also running a successful wedding-planning business and is about to plan its 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 only one hitch. The best man just happens to be Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor, and he's showing an interest in Bella. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at her 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 and her feuding aunt and uncle, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs.


Endorsements

"If you enjoy weddings, Italian cuisine, and stories filled with humor and romance, you're going to love Swinging on a Star."--Anita Higman, award-winning author, Love Finds You in Humble, Texas


"Swinging on a Star has more layers of love than Aunt Rosa's lasagna. A sweet romance that sizzles and simmers on every page."--Allison Pittman, author, Stealing Home


My Review:
I loved this book. It is even better than the first and I did not know it was possible. Fools Rush In is the first in the Weddings by Bella series. You could read this separate but you would be missing out. They are so funny and unique. The plot and characters are well developed and interesting. It is different from everything else out there right now. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Highly Recommended. :)

About the Author:

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and native Texan. An experienced wedding coordinator herself, Thompson brings alive in her books the everyday drama and humor of getting married. She is the author of Fools Rush In and Swinging on a Star. She lives in Texas.

For more information about Swinging on a Star and to get your copy, click here.


“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
This book was provided for review by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet

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.***

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.

Brittanie: I am sorry yall. I have not finished this one yet. I love this series but it is not one to rush through. The language is beautiful. My full review coming soon.

Anything but Normal by Melody Carlson (Review)




About the 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.



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.


My Review:

Wow. This is the perfect title for this book. Anything but Normal is what Sophie's senior year of high school turns out to be. SPOILER ALERT: It is impossible to review this book without letting you know she is pregnant. It comes out pretty early in the book too. I liked the way the author dealt with it. The whole book seemed real. It flowed well and kept my attention from beginning to end. I would recommend it to teens and adults. It opened my eyes to Christian teen pregnancy even thought it is fiction. Overall an enjoyable though heart rending book. Definitely Recommended.
“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
Thank you to Revell Publishing Group for my review copy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Week in Words: February 15, 2010

This weekly meme is hosted by Melissa at Breath of life ministries. The goal is to share quotes that spoke to you in the words you read last week. If you would like to participate:
http://breathoflifeministries.blogspot.com/2010/02/week-in-words-february-15.html
I love Cupidity by Hayley and Michael DiMarco. There were lots of lines I want to remember that spoke to me.
"The good thing about being human is that you have the power to change the patterns in your life. "
p. 203 in Cupidity

A Kiss for Cade by Lori Copeland (Review)



About the book:
When Cade Kolby rode his horse out of town hot on the trail of a wanted man, he didn't wonder how he would leave the bounty hunter lifestyle behind.Now the deaths of his sister and brother-in-law prompt a return visit and Cade once again sees Zoe, the fiery redhead he left so many years ago. He promised Zoe he'd come back. Seeing the beauty that has grown both inside and out, watching her love the children his sister left behind, Cade wonders anew why he never did return. Yet a bounty hunter cannot form the kind of ties he now desires. Wanted men will only see his loved ones as pawns to hurt Cade.So Cade must walk away again, this time from both the woman he loves and his sister's children. There's no other way. Or is there?

Formerly titled The Courtship of Cade Kolby, rewritten for the inspirational market.


My Review:

I thought this was a cute western historical romance book. It is second in the series but it stands alone fine. The romance between Cade and Zoe seems believable. I liked the way the small community came together to help Cade and Zoe. I did not agree with all the events that happened at the end morally. Overall a good book and recommended to fans of this genre.


To purchase the book, click here.


Thank you Glass Road PR for a review copy of this novel.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Walking on Broken Glass by Christa Allan (Review)

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Walking on Broken Glass


Abingdon Press (February 2010)


by


Christa Allan






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

My Review:

This was a gritty, realistic, deeply moving novel. It held my attention from page one and is well written. Leah's story of alcohol addiction and dysfunctional marriage then journey through rehab really touched my heart. I have never struggled with anything like it but I now have a deeper understanding for those who have. Leah's journey to faith is not typical or formulaic but flows naturally.The author truly has a way with words and descriptions. The ending was not what I expected and I hope there is a second book featuring these same characters. Real life does not always wrap up in a pretty package either. Recommended for those who like contemporary Christian fiction.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cupidity by Michael and Hayley DiMarco (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 authors are:



and the book:


Cupidity: 50 Stupid Things People Do for Love and How to Avoid Them

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

***Special thanks to Christy Wong at Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORs:


Hayley DiMarco is the bestselling author of more than 30 books, including Dateable, Marriable, Mean Girls, and The Woman of Mystery. She spent the early part of her career working for Nike in Portland, Oregon, and Thomas Nelson publishing in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2002 Hayley founded Hungry Planet, a company intensely focused on feeding the world’s appetite for truth by producing books and new media, taking on issues of faith and life with a distinctly modern voice.

Michael DiMarco is the CEO of Hungry Planet. In addition to the nine books he has authored or co-authored, Michael also created The Hungry Planet Bible Project, a 10,000–mile road trip designed to give a voice to the hungry and homeless. Hayley and Michael are the proud parents of dozens of Hungry Planet books, including 11 best sellers, four ECPA Christian Book Award finalists, one ECPA winner, and one amazing human, their daughter, Addison.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414324677
ISBN-13: 978-1414324678

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Believing Love Is a Feeling

One of the biggest acts of Cupidity is to believe that love is a feeling and nothing more. While certainly it is true that love elicits some strong emotions, love itself isn't a feeling.

Let's say someone makes you feel amazing. You can't quit thinking about the person, and you are sure that it is love. So you confess your undying love to the object of your affection. Then a few days, a few months, or a few years down the road, that amazing feeling goes away. Does that mean you never loved the person or you stopped loving them? Or does it mean that feelings of love can't be an indicator of the existence of love? It has to be one or the other. Which one you choose says a lot about your core beliefs about love.

Early on in a relationship, it is easy for things other than love to mimic love and cause people to believe they have found their dream come true. There are so many other things that feel just like love. Take jumping out of an airplane, for example. The rush, the adrenaline, the fear, and even the pleasure of that specific moment can have the same emotional reaction and payoff as love's first expression. But obviously, jumping from extreme heights is more about fear and adrenaline than eternal commitment. A guy can feel the same kinds of emotions for his car as he does for his girl. And a woman can feel the same kind of euphoric rush when she buys a pair of shoes as when her man brings her flowers. But that doesn't mean it's accurate to call those passions love.

Hayley:

In two different relationships before I got married, I committed to making it work based on the feeling that this was the only "good guy" who would love me. Fear was my compelling emotion—I was afraid I couldn't do any better. I saw the warning signs in each relationship, but out of fear I chose to overlook them instead of doing a faithful inspection of the problems. v

A lot of single people commit Cupidity when they get so wrapped up in the emotion of love that they neglect the truth about love. They ignore red flags, concerns of friends and family, and even warnings from the very object of their love. A well-known Christian counselor once said, "Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without." And while he is no doubt a smart man and that sounds like romantic and sound advice, have you ever considered how many people marry someone they "can't live without," and then four years later they divorce the same person they no longer can live with? Did things fall apart because their way of choosing, based on a feeling, was wrong? Or was it because their definition of love as needing to feel a certain way was faulty? We could answer that for you, but we're not going to. Let's just say that no matter what the answer is, judging the presence of love based on how you feel is a dangerous, er, proposal.

If you are honest with yourself, would you say that you feel your way through love? Did you (or would you) choose your mate based on how they make you feel? Have you rejected someone because your feelings changed? Do you consider feelings the best indicator of success or failure in a relationship? Though feelings should be noted, they can't be followed blindly, because when they are, they overshadow God's commands.

Many women can be heard to say things like, "He just doesn't love me anymore." And what they often mean is, "He doesn't make me feel the same way anymore." We've considered that idea a lot. Because we were head over heels in love when we were dating and got married, and since then there have been fewer and fewer of those emotional highs. In fact, we've gone weeks, even months, without them. And the questions that keep lurking are, Does he love me anymore? Did she ever love me? But then, being the practical souls we are, we thought about how hard life would be if we permanently felt the same emotional high that we felt in the beginning of the relationship. How would we get any sleep, living in the same house together? When would we remove our lips from each other long enough to eat? How would we concentrate at work when all we could do was imagine being with the other person? That initial feeling of love that is so fantastical is also distracting—nay, all consuming. It's your soul's occupation, and while a busy soul is a happy soul, it's also a pleasure-driven soul, finding little strength or focus for things other than true love. We aren't dissing the amazing sensation of "love's first kiss," as our three-year-old fairy tale–loving daughter puts it, but we are saying that it can be a bit of an obsession.

In relationships—especially at the beginning—it is easy to take the incredible emotions another person brings you to as a sure sign that love is in the air . . . when all it might be is the thrill of the chase or the excitement of a mystery waiting to be unraveled. So that brings us back to the original premise that love isn't a feeling but an action. How do we know? Because God commands it. All over Scripture God commands us to love. Love God, love our neighbors as ourselves, even love our enemies. But if love were a feeling, then God couldn't command it. No one can order you to feel something. Emotions don't work like that—you don't turn them on and off, on command. But actions can be commanded: "Share your toys." "Don't hit back!" "Don't touch that" (not to be confused with, "You can't touch this").

But maybe there's more to it than even that. Have you considered why God gave us the command to love in the first place? If love came naturally to all of us, if it were always our first response to all people, in all situations, then God wouldn't have had to make it the focus of his instructions to us (1 Corinthians 16:14). God sees the need to command us to love, because love isn't usually our first response, except when we are deep in it. In those situations, love is easy, natural—like second nature. Love is your "soul" focus: that person gets all the best of you. You are patient, kind, caring, and selfless, and you overlook faults. You are the perfect picture of love in human form. Wow! But God knows us better than that. He knows that love, in order to prove itself true, must be tested. It must stand in the face of opposition (Matthew 5:44); it must give of itself even when it gets nothing in return (Luke 6:35); it must be a conscious choice and not an emotional response (Matthew 5:46).

According to a poll taken in March 2008 by the Barna Research Group, the divorce rate for Christian couples is statistically identical to all other faith groups, as well as atheists and agnostics. Whether or not the Christians polled truly lived biblical lives is questionable—we have no way of knowing their hearts or their basis for calling themselves Christians. But as a random poll of people who consider themselves "saved," this seems to be confirmation that feelings, not faith, most profoundly affect the actions of those who consider themselves faithful.

When you feel your way through love, you are apt to ignore the warning signs that signal a future of difficulty, if not pain. They might even be signs from God that this person is not the person. So emotions can't be allowed to have the final say on who you choose.

For the married person, trials and emotionally difficult experiences are part of the pattern of love. These trials—these tests of faith and love—are what lead to sanctification, the purification of your faith. Every time a trial rears its evil head, your first question should be What does God want me to learn about my sin from this? not What is my spouse's sin in this? According to pastor and teacher James MacDonald, "God's goal is not to make you happy; it's to make you holy."

When love is based on a feeling, you have Cupidity: stupid, stupid actions taken to try to get more love. But when love is based on actions, you actually get amazing feelings after you give in fully to the kind of self-sacrificing love that Jesus taught us through his life. See, when love is patient, kind, humble, meek, and all the other things Jesus taught, it is at its best. And the most amazing thing is that it isn't based on what others do or fail to do. It isn't dependent on situations but on an immovable and perfect God. In short, it's heavenly. Harp music, please!

So we've established that love is an action, not a feeling. But what does that look like? Love is an action not in the sense of "start the film rolling" but in the sense of "it's not what you feel; it's what you do." When you look at it like that, suddenly love becomes less about how people make you feel or what they do to you, but what you do in response to them.

Wait a minute . . . you mean love isn't about how a person makes me feel but about how I treat them? Yep, that's it in a nutshell—good job. So if love is lacking in your life, it isn't because of the other person; it's because of you. Ouch, that hurts even as it's coming out. Let's walk through this together—it's too scary alone. According to Scripture, you aren't going to be judged based on the love you feel but the love you give: "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Can't speak for you, but we speak for ourselves when we say that most of these things—like patience, humility, not insisting on getting our own way, never giving up, and enduring all things—ain't what we originally had in mind when we thought about what love should feel like.

Hayley:

Finding Fabio Unshaven in a White T-Shirt

Let me just jump in here. One day I was bemoaning the fact that the romance was gone from our marriage. Because romance is how a woman knows for sure that a man loves her—crazy, I know, but blame it on Disney. Anyway, that day I took to heart God's command to love regardless of what I was getting. I took the time to notice that God is love (1 John 4:16), and my thoughts and actions of love given to my "undeserving" husband transported God's very presence into my life. It was as if my act of obedience produced love and romance, right then and there (1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 John 4:11-12). And suddenly I thought that Michael was the dreamiest man on the planet. His unshaven face, white T-shirts, and holey socks were all just as they should be. Poor guy—he had no idea what I was going through or why I was so difficult to live with. It was my own misguided ideas of how things should be that made me crazy and caused me to consider him "undeserving" of my love. But when I saw things from God's perspective, all the smoke cleared and I could see true love. It wasn't what I was feeling about Michael but what I believed about God and who he commands me to be that counted. (BTW, Michael is currently editing this unshaven in a white T-shirt.) v

If you base your love on how you feel about the other person, then stop the Cupidity now and absorb this truth into your pores. Steam over it. And let the truth set you free. Love, when given God's way, is better and more lasting than any visceral reaction to your dream girl or guy.

Of course, it would be a potential act of Cupidity for a single person to determine that there need be no sensation of love that comes out of interacting with the future Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. There needs to be some kind of chemistry in order to seal the deal and proceed around the proverbial bases, but once you've slid into home (and by that we mean walked down the aisle), how you feel can't determine how much love you give your spouse. But until you marry, you are free to say, "I'm not in love with you, so I'm walking away." You just can't do that once you say, "I do."

So let's just say, enjoy the feeling of love when it comes, but know that love doesn't have to feel good in order to exist. Consider Christ on the cross. Certainly this perfect act of love didn't give him the amazing feeling that we associate with true love. In Christ's life, love hurt, to put it mildly. But thank God he knew the hurt that had to be endured in order for love to become available to all of us.

Love demands a lot of us. It demands an end to asking, "What about me?" and requires a search for the answer to "What about the other person? What do they need that I can give?" Anything that doesn't agree with the way God's Word defines love needs to be deleted from your memory. Then you'll be able to start over with a fresh motherboard of love. When you learn to love God's way, you learn to love without Cupidity, and that's a pretty amazing thing.


Book Summary:

You’re a smart person. You really are. Most of the time. So why are you having such trouble making sense of your love life? Whether you’re single and wondering where your “one” could be hiding; head over heels in a new relationship and vowing that this time it’ll work; or finding that married life isn’t the thrilling adventure you’d once anticipated . . . you might be surprised to discover that the answer lies in your own ‘Cupidity’—stupid love. In this book, popular authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco identify 50 of the most common acts of Cupidity, ways to avoid them and learn from them, and some surprising things God has to say about relationships. With the help of their inside information, smart, successful love can be just around the corner.

My Review:
I love this book. Almost every page has something I want to remember. It is going on my keeper self for future reference. I am a single 26 year old female and have never been in a serious relationship. This book opened my eyes. According to the authors there are emotional, mental,physical,social and spiritual cupidity. There were a few statements I did not agree with but for the most part it seems like sound advice. There a lot of bible verses in it to back up the statements. Highly Recommended.