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Archive for the ‘Contemporary’ Category

Deliver Me from Evil by Kathy Mathias: a Review, an Interview, and a Giveaway

Kathi MathiasRead to the end for your chance to win a copy of this book.  

Deliver me From Evil by Kathi Mathias puts a human face on a seldom talked about worldwide atrocity:  human trafficking.  It follows the interconnected story from three vantage points.

Mara, a six year old Mexican girl, was  taken from her desperately poor family by her uncle who promised to care for her in America.  Now eighteen, she has lived twelve years as part of his violent  prostitution ring in the heart of San Diego.

Jonathan, also eighteen is a college senior planning to head to Bible College in the fall, mostly because he feels it’s what is expected of him.  Working a job selling pizzas to save the funds he needs, he inadvertently stumbles upon Mara and another young captive who has been recently snatched off the streets of the city.

Jolene and Jasmine are captive a word away.  Their captors see them as a commodity not even worthy of the basics of human comforts.  When a girl in their situation has outlived her usefulness, she is simply disposed of.

Where is the hope for these young slaves of human trafficking–is there any hope?  How far are Jonathan and his family willing to step outside of their comfort zone?  How far would you be willing to step?

A beautiful, yet horrifying tale with a clear challenge and message to the reader.  If you dare to read it, it will leave an indelible imprint on your heart. Will you be one of those who dares to open your eyes to these forgotten children of God?

5 Stars.

Kathi, how did you come up with the idea for Deliver Me From Evil and the Freedom series?


Kathi
–It actually came out of a phone conversation with Andrea Mullins, the publisher at New Hope. We were discussing the Extreme Devotion series (about the persecuted Church), which I was still working on at the time, and we began to consider topics for a second series. Andrea was the one who suggested human trafficking, and it really struck a chord with me. The more I researched it and worked on the proposal, the more excited I became about joining forces with others working to abolish modern-day slavery, which is exactly what human trafficking is.

What was your favorite scene to write in Deliver Me From Evil?

Kathi–This book/series has been the most difficult I’ve ever written, simply because the subject matter is so dark and heavy. More than once I had to walk away and clear my thoughts before moving on from one scene to another. But interspersed between the heartache and tragedy are several lighter scenes (written and incorporated into the book out of necessity), dealing with a pastor’s family and their Bible college-bound son who inadvertently discovers the human trafficking ring and becomes involved in the heroic and dramatic rescue attempt. Any scenes revolving around the absolutely functional and loving life of the Flannery family are my favorites.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

Kathi–There were many difficult scenes in this book due to the subject matter, but the hardest had to be when the main character, 18-year-old Mara, realizes that one of the younger girls is being tortured and killed in an effort to extract information and punish her. Though the actual violence is done offstage, Mara experiences each blow and muffled scream, as does the reader.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

Kathi–Oh yes, I never wanted to be anything else. From the time I discovered the power and allure of words, I was hooked! I was an avid reader before I started kindergarten. A short story I wrote in the third grade was turned into a play for the entire PTA, and I won all sorts of awards for poetry in high school. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) Al when we were in our early teens that I was going to be a writer one day.

How do you go about writing your fiction books? Which comes first for you, plot, characters, and/or theme?

Kathi–I usually get what I call “a niggling in my soul,” which eventually emerges into the very basic theme of the book. I hate outlining and writing proposals because I do NOT develop plots or even characters ahead of time. I start with a couple of main characters, a starting and ending point for my story, and just let the rest unfold as I go. I know. We’re not supposed to do it that way, but it works for me, and I so enjoy the surprises as the story develops and my characters take over. So much fun! So long as they don’t try to lead me away from my pre-determined ending. Then I have to reign them back in a bit.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

Kathi–I have ideas coming out of my ears! I am a seriously addictive idea person. You want ideas? You can have my overflow! My challenge is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing. Not every cute or fun or even meaningful idea that pops into our head is meant to be a book. I pray, think, study, bounce them off people, etc., before committing to moving ahead with one of them. For the most part, however, nearly all my book ideas are, to one degree or another, born out of some moral or social issue that I care about.

How can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and other books you are writing?

Kathi–Please visit my website at KathiMacias.com.

Here is the Book Trailer:

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (ChristianSpeakersServices.com). 

Now for what you’ve been waiting for:  your chance to win a copy of this book.  

Here’s how to do it.

1. “Like” ReadGreatFiction on facebook, and leave a comment on the link to this book= one entry  (if you already “like” ReadGreatFiction just leave a comment)

2. Get your friends to “like” ReadGreatFiction.  For each friend that leaves a comment and mentions your name you will receive another entry.

The drawing will be held on October 31, at which time I will announce the winner on this blog and at ReadGreatFiction on Facebook.

Blame it on the Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin

Joyce MagninBlame it on the Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin

Welcome back to Bright’s Pond where the residents make even your strangest relatives seem normal.

What’s going on at the Greenbriar Nursing home?  Resident’s riding trikes down the halls? Seniors making out in the gazebo?  This is strange even by Bright’s Pond standards.  Who or what could be responsible?  Is it the fault of the new gazeebo, or the strange elusive man who built it for the residents?  Maybe it’s drugs or something in the water.  Police chief Mildred Blessing has her hands full trying to solve this one.

Meanwhile elsewhere in Bright’s Pond folks must contend with a luau thanksgiving, a Christmas pageant with live camels and the on again off again romance between Griselda and Zeb.  Do I hear wedding bells?

Though lighthearted, this book is no ball of fluff.  It is well written and entertaining.  It will leave you laughing, and feeling just a little bit better about your own life. The delightfuly quirky characters, like none you’ve ever imagined, are so real you’ll feel like you’ve always known them.

As with the first three books in this series, this is a 5 star read.  If you haven’t read the others (The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, and Griselda Takes Flight), you must do so.  You’r life will be fuller from having read them.

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Cash Burn or Crash and Burn?

Michael BerrierJason Dunn thinks he know whats going on–he wasn’t born yesterday.  When he finds love notes from his wife to another man, he thinks affair, not set up (like she claims). 

 Little by little things in Jason’s life begin going so-right, and yet at the same time so-wrong.  His most despised co-worker becomes his boss, he gains a beautiful new assistant, his recently released jailbird brother is causing all kinds of trouble for him, and he finds a loophole that if he should take it, will net him enough money to last many lifetimes. 

What he would have never thought have doing at one time becomes a bit easier with every baby step, every little sin, every bit of twisted reasoning.  Now comes the big step, the one he won’t ever be able to undo.  Will he take it, or will something happen to change the path he’s headed down.

I feel like I should have had a crash course in banking and high finance before reading this book.  There was way to much bank-speak.  Also, this was definitely a book written with men in mind.  It is highly plot driven, and the characters are left swimming in shallow water. 

I was not comfortable with how the intimacy was described in the book.  If as it seemed it was truly written for men, then it would draw even more of a visual than I felt it did.  Although not excessive by mainstream standards, for a christian publisher it was awfuly close to the line.

  Overall I just did not enjoy this book, but I must admit that the writing skill was excellent and Michael Berrier has a lot of potential.  I will be looking out to see what he writes in the future.

3 Stars

This book was provided to me by the publishers through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes –book release interview

Gina Holmes is the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans and the newly released novel, DRY AS RAIN. She’s the founder of Novel Rocket, (formerly Novel Journey), a registered nurse,  wife and mother who makes her home in Southern Virginia. You can learn more about her at www.ginaholmes.com 


Your debut novel hit ECPA, Amazon, PW and CBA bestsellers list (some throughout the span of a year!) For several weeks Crossing Oceans was the #1 free kindle download and then stay in the top hundred for a long time.
Beside the commercial success, your book was a finalist in every major Christian book award, including: Christy, ECPA, Retailer’s Choice, Carol Awards, and won RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice and an INSPY. Does having that kind of success put the pressure on for your second book?
I try not to think too much about it. I didn’t expect that kind of success but am very grateful for it. I had a lot of pressure on me on this releasing novel, not because of the success of the first book, but because, unlike the first, I didn’t have all the time in the world to write it. Some books flow smoothly, this one I had to yank out like a bad tooth. I faced multiple rewrites, some of them pretty major, all while trying to promote my all important first novel. I was still working full time, mothering, running Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) and all of that, so this was a tough tough book for me to produce.
Tell our readers about your latest release, Dry as Rain:
I’m a really bad pitchman so I’ll just repeat the back of the book copy:
Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart.
When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.
Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.
You can read the first chapter HERE. 
This novel feels so much different than Crossing Oceans. Why did you choose to take such a different path?
I didn’t intend to write something completely different and I think it feels that way because of the characters telling the story. In Crossing Oceans, Jenny was our narrator and she was a melancholy, all woman sort.
In Dry as Rain, we have Eric, who is a man’s man and doesn’t think in flowery language and descriptions so it would have been wrong to write him that way. While both books have a heavy subject matter, Crossing Oceans was much more so. You can’t get heavier than dying, so it was bound to be more emotional, no matter how I wrote the next book.
But, my genre seems to be relational drama which both are and I like to pepper in a quirky cast and that’s true of both books.
You took a lot of chances in this book. First writing first person from a male’s perspective, secondly to have the protagonist someone who does a lot of things that aren’t very Christianly, like cheating on his wife, drinking, lying, etc. Are you afraid this might hurt your sales in the Christian market?
Afraid? No. Concerned, sure. While I don’t personally have a problem with Eric drinking a beer, the rest I have a problem with too. The thing is Eric’s a nominal Christian at the beginning of the book, lukewarm about his faith like many who call themselves followers of Christ. This is his journey though and he doesn’t end up where he begins. I wanted to tell the story as truthfully as I could and at the end of the day let the chips fall where they may.
What happened to your long time website, Novel Journey?
www.noveljourney.blogspot.com is now www.novelrocket.com You can get to it by either address but we decided on an overhaul because we wanted to drop the blogspot address and just have a dot com. The guy who owned Novel Journey didn’t return our emails to sell so we had to do something a little different. This turned out to be a good thing maybe because we’d been chewing on broadening the site for some time. We’ve got some exciting changes now, the most notable is the addition of “Rocket Pages” a sort of Craig’s List for writers to find the services they need to launch and sustain their career.
What’s going on with you personally?
Well, I’m blissfully married, mom to two, stepmom to three, and owner of 2 dogs and a fish. I bought a guitar and hope to start fiddling with that soon and just writing a lot. Nothing too exciting over here but that’s the way I like it. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life. I’ve accomplished many of the dreams and goals I’d hoped to and I always tell my husband, if I died today, I’d feel I lived and full and rewarding life. Not that I’m looking to die just yet.
What are you working on now?
I can’t give the title yet as that’s a work in progress but it’s a story very close to my heart. I’m more excited about this one than anything I’ve ever written. Hopefully my publisher agrees and you see it on the stands in the next year or so. That’s really all I can say for now.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’ll tell you a few. I thought I was afraid of heights until I bungee-jumped and loved it. I’d love to skydive for the first time in the next year, white water raft and get at least a little skill on the guitar. My husband is a talented songwriter. My kids are the sweetest in the world, (yes, the world!), and I love to get my hands dirty. That should do it. Thanks for having me!

A Trial of Blessings

One Step Away by Eric Wilson

Bret and Sara Vreeland are an average low income family struggling to make ends meet.  Though they try and try they just can’t seem to get ahead of all the expenses that pile up.  But they have learned to be content and serve God, and are trying to teach their children the same thing. When Satan notices this family who seems to have so little, he comes before the Almighty with a petition.  “Let me test them“, he says, “Will they still be so eager to serve you if they have riches beoynd belief?”  After careful scrutiny, The One Who Sits Upon The Throne gives his permission–permission to begin a trial of blessing. How will Bret and Sara respond when everything in life starts going their way?  An unexpected inheritance, a major promotion, a dream of sucess come true–will all these things capture the devoton they once gave God?  When they’re faced with an unexpected choice of life altering proportions what choice will they make? The premise of this book pulled me in from the start, and did not disappoint.  Well written and engaging , One Step Away brings us real characters who come alive on the pages.  I found myself cheering and yelling at the characters as if they were close friends.  Although not preachy, this book has me considering how I view the blessings I have been given.

5 Stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Bay Forest (an imprint of Kingstone Media Group).   Opinions rendered are completely my own.

Note:  Check back Monday August 15, 2011 for an Author Spotlight of Eric Wilson– a bio and interview you’ll not want to miss.

Heartwrenchingly Beautiful

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones

Jeremiah Williams has been taking care of the gardens at the Tennessee governors mansion for the past 25 years.  He has cared and prayed for its residents as well.  There is something special though about the current family.  Jeremiah wonders if all the hurt and unjust treatment he’s gone through in life have been so that he could be with this family at this specific time.

Governor Gray London and his wife Mackenzie, struggled with infertility and miscarriages for years.  Now it seems that all their dreams have come true.  Their miracle baby, Maddie, is heading off to kindergarten, and Gray is making a real difference as governor.

When tragedy strikes again and again, the London’s are thrust into circumstances they don’t know if they can survive, and they’re not sure they even want to.

What is God doing in their life?  Is he really even there?  How could he love them let these kinds of things happen?

This book is worth the read, but be prepared for uncontrollable sobs and keep a box of tissues nearby.  I was completely unprepared for the depth of this novel. Though the main plot is heavy, there are lighter sub-plots to take the edge off.  The southern voice throughout is authentic and beautiful.  The First Gardener is masterfully writt

5 Stars

This book was provided to me through the Tyndale Bloggers Network.  All opinions rendered are my own.

She’s a Pastors Wife–Except Now She’s Not

Lynne GentryLeona Harper is the quintessential pastors wife.  She knows exactly how to be the person the parishioners expect.  From little old ladies who stop by before Sunday services to making sure her kids behave in public, Leona’s got it covered.

When her husband drops dead in the pulpit, Leona’s neat little world implodes.  No longer the pastor’s wife, she finds that she’s had no identity of her own, and that she’s alienated her children by her expectations as well.

Leona’s children arrive home for the funeral ready to disappoint their mother with their life choices, and her mother comes by to remind her what a disappointment she has been to her as well.  Within two weeks Leona begins to feel squeezed out of the parsonage by the elders, and she must begin to look for employment.  Forced to become her own person for the first time in decades, Leona must learn to take a stand for herself and be the person God created her to be.

Reinventing Leona is one of the new e-book only selections from Tyndale House.  A gentle read, it is full of charm and hidden wisdom.  The characters are vulnerable, yet endearing.  I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book.  It tugs at the heart, and reminds us to be who God created us to be.  I hope to see many more books by Lynne Gentry in the future.  Definitely a 5 Star read.

This book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

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