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Posts tagged ‘Fiction’

Frantic by Mike Dellosso –Suspense at it’s Best

Mike DellossoDo the lies you believe define who you are?   Death has followed  Marny Toogood from birth, snatching those closest to him and seemingly proving grandfather’s prediction.  He is cursed.

Despite the curse, every night Marny holds to the promise his mother told him until she died:  Behind every rain cloud is the sun, just waiting to shine.  Then he falls asleep and succumbs to the only place more dark and foreboding than his life.

We enter Marny’s life the day his nightmares and cursed life collide.  Living life in a tiny apartment above the station where he pumps gas, Marny tries to keep his involvement in the lives around him to a minimum–after all potential friends are potential victims of his curse.

But today there’s just something about the girl in the backseat of the old Ford Taurus that pulls in for a fill-up.  She speaks to him through her eyes, and through his own experiences he recognizes the message of sorrow and doom.

As the car pulls away Marny bends to pick up a piece of wadded paper.  Opening it he reads five words that have the potential to change his life forever:  HE’S GOING TO KILL ME.*

 

If there ‘s ever been a book that could be considered aerobic exercise its this one.  The plot twists, surprises, and races while keeping the reader turning pages frantically trying to find out what happens next.  The strong plot doesn’t sacrifice character depth. The book will pull you in from the first page and keep you hanging on each word til the very end.  I will warn you it’s hard to put down.

Frantic is definitely Mike Dellosso’s best work yet–and with books to his name like The Hunted, Scream, Darlington Woods, and Darkness Follows ,all five-star reads in their own right, that really say’s a lot.

Definitely a 5 Star Read.  Available early 2012

 

*Much of this description is taken directly from the book.  I couldn’t have described it with any better words, so I let it speak for itself.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Charisma House.  Any opinions rendered in this review are my own.

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.

Where the Power Lies–or Sits

James RubartThe Chair by James L. Rubart

James Rubart has done it again.  The Chair is a magnificient creation, a definite “edge of my seat” (pun intended) read.  Unpredictable up to the very end, this book deserves a very strong 5 star rating.

Corin Roscoe thinks the old lady who dropped off an even older chair at his antique shop is nuts.  Though he tries to refuse the chair, she insists he take it–claiming that it was meant to go to him.

Taking a closer look after she leaves, he realizes the chair is very well made in it’s simplicity.  Putting it off to the side, since he has an overabundance of furniture in his store right now, he figures it’s something he might take a look at later, if he has the time.

When a young boy is miraculously healed in his store after sitting in the chair, and word of it spreads, Corin realizes that maybe he has come across something special.  Could this chair possibly heal his brother–and his guilt?

When a well known mega-church pastor begins to manipulate Corin into selling the chair, he decides to lock it up for safekeeping.  Corrin, needing advice, confides in an old trusted friend, a college professor, who shares with him the history and legend behind the mysterious chair.

Does the chair really posses  power?  There are those who will stop at nothing to get it–and that puts Corin, and those he loves at the center of their cross-hairs.

I received this book from the publisher 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.

Spectacular Series: The O’Malley Family by Dee Henderson

Dee HendersonDee HendersonThe O’Malleys are a  family.  They made themselves one as they grew up in a foster home together.  Taking on the same last name just made it official.  Now all grown up the seven siblings all share another thing in common.  They Dee HendersonDee Hendersonwork to help people.

Kate is a hostage negotiator

Marcus is a U.S. Marshal

Lisa is a forensic pathologist

Dee HendersonDee HendersonJack fights fires

Rachel works disasters for the Red Cross

Stephen is a paramedic

Jennifer is a doctor                                Dee Henderson

They watch each others backs and support each other through the hard times, but as one of their own faces life’s final battle will their bonds hold them together or will they be shattered and scattered.

This Spectacular Series was  re-released by Tyndale in 2005.

For those of you who have read this series, you can find an unpublished extra Jennifer’s story at Dee Henderson’s website.

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.

C.J. Darlington

C.J. Darlington burst onto the scene of Christian fiction three years ago when she won the Jerry B Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest with her first novel, Thicker than Blood

Books have been a part of C.J.’s life since she was a young child–both as a writer and a reader.  She says every book she read influenced her in some way, but it was as a young teen when she read Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti that things changed. “Nothing was the same after that”, she said.

When she was fifteen, she started writing the book that would eventually become Thicker than Blood.  But as C.J. says, writers aren’t born overnight.  She finished writing the book many years after she began writing it.  In 2004 She entered the book in the Operation First Novel Contest run by The Christian Writers guild.  At the time the book was only 67,000 words and needed a lot of work.  It placed as one of the twenty semi-finalists, and gave C.J. the self-esteem boost she needed to begin submitting the book to publishers.

So C. J. submitted the book and was rejected, and she submitted the book again and was rejected again.  This situation repeated itself over and over again.  Some editors were kind enough to give her suggestions, so C.J. would tweak the manuscript, add to the story, and submit it again.  Eventually she began to become so discouraged by the rejections that she was ready to pack the book away in a drawer and begin focusing on getting her second book published.

C.J. decided to give the book one more chance and submit the much improvedC.J. Darlington version to the 2008 Operation First Novel contest.  She figured that if it placed again she would know that the book wasn’t completely rubbish, and if it didn’t she would know that it was time to move on.  She entered the book two weeks before the contest closed for the year.  In November C.J. Darlingtonshe found out the book was one of four finalists being considered.  She was elated and decided that maybe the book was publishable after all.

In February at the Christian Writer’s guild annual conference, C.J. was amazed when they announced on stage that Thicker than Blood had won the contest.  She received for winning, a contract with Tyndale house.  Thicker than blood was released in 2010.  Her second novel, Bound by Guilt was released in February 2011.

C.J. Darlington is an identical mirror image twin who was homeschooled throughout her school days.  She loves camping (the more primitive the better), and has traveled the country in an RV visiting 44 states and having all kinds of crazy adventures.

She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones in her novels before co-founding her own online bookstore.  In 2006 C.J. and her sister Tracey founded the Christian Entertainment website TitleTrakk.

I recently had the opportunity to interview C.J.  Here’s what she had to say:

Kristen:  You’re involved in writing, bookselling, and running an entertainment website.  If you weren’t doing any of these things, what would you most likely be doing?

C.J.:   I would love to be involved with something that involved animals or working outdoors. Lately I’ve had a real love of horses–learning how to ride, train, and understand them. It would be awesome to have the chance to work with them on a daily basis. Especially if I could work alongside someone who was much more advanced and skilled.

Kristen:  You say on your webpage that as a child you enjoyed reading the Childhood of Famous Americans series and the Landmark series, both historical fiction.  If you could  know one of these historical figures personally, who would it be?

C.J.:   I remember loving a book on Sacagawea. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear her perspective and insights on the Lewis and Clark expedition? Or Pocahontas. I went through a huge phase as a kid fascinated with the American Indians. I’m not really sure why, but I loved reading about them.

Kristen:  What does C.J. Stand for?

C.J.:   A girl’s gotta have some secrets, Kristen!! 🙂

Kristen:  How do you think being homeschooled has contributed to your success as an author?

C.J.:   Being homeschooled was HUGE for me. I truly believe that if it weren’t for homeschooling I wouldn’t be talking with you today about writing. I learned how to teach myself through learning at home. That’s enormous for me now as an adult. If I don’t understand something or want to learn something new, I don’t necessarily have to go out and take a course on the subject. I can research and discover for myself. I learned how to write fiction purely on my own through reading other novels and how-to books on the craft. Asking advice from others also played a part, but I am so thankful to my parents for making the sacrifices they did to enable me to be educated at home.

Kristen:  I’ve heard a lot of talk among Christian authors on balancing storytelling with sharing biblical truth.  How does your faith affect what you write?

C.J.:   My faith is the reason I write the stories I do. I want to share with others the hope I have. I do that by writing about flawed characters, usually at their lowest points. I want people to know that no one is ever too far gone for God to love and forgive. Some of my stories are more direct than others, of course. But the spiritual aspect is always there in some fashion or another. I don’t always know the direction the story will take along these lines until I’m in the midst of writing it, but I try to pray and ask the Lord for guidance. He’s given me ideas at the spur of the moment that have really surprised me! If one person is touched by what I write, it will be worth it.

Kristen:  Do you have a work-in-progress right now?

C.J.:  Yes, ma’am! I am currently writing my third novel and am about halfway through the rough draft. I’ve gone through a couple drafts of this story already, but I think I might’ve finally discovered the story I want to tell. I’ll keep you posted!

Brandilyn Collins

C.J. with Brandilyn Collins. Long before it was published, Brandilyn actually critiqued an early version of a scene in Thicker than Blood on her blog.

If you haven’t read C.J.’s books, be sure to pick them up sometime soon.  You won’t be disappointed.

Who controls the publishing industry?

From editors and acquisition agents to CEO’s and authors, many hands hold a piece of the pie in determining what goes on in the publishing industry.  But there is one person who holds more power than any other: you, the reader.

As the reader you have the power to tell others in the industry what books to publish.  Will a publishing house invest in 14 books on how to repair a leaky faucet, or 14 romantic suspense books?  It depends on what you buy.  If if you never, or rarely, buy a book you are telling the industry that they really don’t need to publish anything new for you to enjoy.

This week I purchased  6 books.

  1. My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren
  2. The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin
  3. The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis  (somehow this one disappeared from my set at home)
  4. Crossfire by Jeanette Windle
  5.  Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle (already read @ library)
  6. Freedom’s Stand by Jeanette Windle

My 14 year old  used the last of her funds to buy Field of Blood by Eric Wilson, and my 12 year old was told she needed to do some extra chores to earn money if she wanted to buy Lights, Action, Lily by Nancy Rue. 

I have plenty of books at home, a library nearby, and a pile of unread books for review that have been given to me by the publisher. Why would I spend my hard earned money (or in this case a gift card) to buy books when I could possibly read them for free?  I purchased them to tell the authors to keep writing.  I purchased them to tell the publishing houses to keep publishing books by these authors.  Of course, I also purchased them because they are really great books.

Many avid readers, including myself, can not afford to purchase every book they read (at least if they want to eat),  but most of us can buy at least some books.  If reading great books is important to you, then you can likely find a way to purchase some.  It may mean less trips to the theater,   less cable channels, or (horrors) less fancy coffee, but it can be done.  Unless you want to be reading memoirs of a dryer lint collector in the future, do yourself a favor and buy great books.

Ordinary People Thrust Into Quite Unusual Circumstances

The Skin Map                           by Stephen Lawhead

I don’t typically read sci-fi or fantasy books.   This being said, I committed to reviewing this book and I intend to give it a fair review.

The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead has a well developed plot and enjoyable story-world.   The book is written  well, and I enjoyed author’s  British English.

The story follows an extremely boring and mundane British couple Kit and Wilhelmina who are thrown into more adventure than they ever hoped for when Kit’s long lost grandfather introduces him to the concept of lay lines by setting him up to cross into one.  When he finally returns to present day, he is late to meet Wilhelmina which causes her to be angry.  To prove that it is not his fault, Kit drags her to the place where he crossed over and attempts to help her cross as well.  She does, but ends up in an entirely different time and place than Kit.  Of course now that she is “lost in time” it is Kit & his grandfather’s mission to find her and make things right.

I really did not understand many of the aspects that may have been easy to follow for readers of this genre.  I had to look up lay lines, because the idea was just confusing me, and it was confusing for me to keep track of the different layers of what was going on.  The whole omniverse idea while interesting for a moment, was not something I enjoyed as an integral part of the book.  Although the plot twisted greatly at some points, at others it seemed to go on, and on, and on.

I think overall what I took away was that this is a good book, but it just was not for me.  It was not introductory level in it’s genre.

I give it two stars from the perspective of someone used to reading books that take place in our dimension.

This book was given to me for review purposes by BookSneeze.  All opinions are my own.

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