Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

And a white one it is...we had a great time celebrating today.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

CSFF Tour: The Skin Map, by Stephen Lawhead

First off, know that this is the first book of a series (something I didn't realize until after reading) and the end will leave you hanging in space and maybe confused. That said, it was a good read, if a little slow.

Kit, who leads a boring life in England, is visited by his should-be-dead great-grandfather Cosimo, who proceeds to take him to another dimension via "ley lines" only a few people know about. After returning home, Kit enlists his girlfriend Mina to go with him on one of these other-worldly journeys only for them to end up separated from each other in different times and places. Kit tries to find Mina while also trying to find out about the elusive skin map.

Lawhead is one of the most detailed and well-researched fantasy writers I've ever read. He totally immerses himself in his stories (in one interview he said he has been thinking about The Skin Map for 15 years or so) and it totally shows in his plot and setting complexities.

I'm only a fan of historical fiction in certain instances, and this is one of them, because it's not really historical fiction--no more than it is fantasy or sci-fi or adventure. It's an amalgamation of all those imbued with Lawhead's signature style, albeit a bit lighter and with less moral/spiritual meat.

The Amazon Book Link
Author Website

Participant links:

Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
George Duncan
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

Subtle disclaimer: My words are my own and I was given nothing for this review. I even bought my own book.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Bishop, by Steven James--Revell Blog Tour

This review is going to sound like I got paid to write it (well, my skills aren't that incredible, but still) or at least sound like I'm a psychotic overzealous fan; however, I received nothing for it except a free review copy of the book. Which is entirely enough payment for me. And I'm not psychotic. Promise. :)

If you look at my previous reviews of James' novels, you'll see that I am indeed crazy about the whole Patrick Bowers Thriller series:

THE PAWN Review at Suspense Zone

THE ROOK Review (here on my blog)

THE KNIGHT Review (here on my blog)

The Bishop continues the intrigue of Patrick Bower's cases, and explores further his relationships to his daughter Tessa, ex-girlfriend Lien-Hua, would be more-than-friend Cheyenne Warren and even DEA Margaret Wellington. Throw Tessa's real but estranged dad Paul Lansing in the mix and Pat is bound for even more trouble.

Patrick must track not one killer but a pair of them. When a young woman is found dead, killed in an unbelievably heinous fashion, Pat knows he is in for his most difficult case yet. Worse, the killers seem to anticipate the agents' every move, proving worthy opponents for Pat's keen intellect.

Though The Bishop is over 500 pages long, nowhere does the action slow too much or the author include unnecessary padding to lengthen the story. On the contrary, each plot line is so fully developed and interwoven, the action so intense, that I dare any reader to not feel saddened that the ending is near.

I always try to make James' books last, but I cannot put them down and usually end up reading them in one or two sittings. He did not get his Masters in storytelling for nothing (Can you believe universities actually award that degree?). The man can flat out write and I'm extremely picky.

As with his other books, I can't tell too much about it without giving spoilers (which I don't like to do) so everyone is just going to go out and buy it and judge for themselves. Suffice it to say that I don't like monkeys nearly as much as I used to...and I'm scared of a few other things now as well. But The Bishop does end rather nicely, less open-ended than the others in the series, and ties up quite a few ends, if not everything.

Rating: Five stars, two thumbs up, one very satisfied reader.


Steven James Launch Party!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Valley of Bones, by Eric Wilson--my review

Happy. Satisfied. Excited. Thoughtful. These are some of the emotions I felt after finishing the last of the Jerusalem's Undead series. Though I'm sad that the saga is over, reluctant to let the characters in these three books (as well as from other Wilson novels) go, and eager for whatever is next, I can say that the conclusion did exactly what it should have. It was all I hoped for, if a little less traumatic than I had originally expected.

And so the battle between the evil, undead Collectors and the good, doubly-alive Nistarim continues with losses on both sides. Gina Lazarescu has had to fake her own death and go into hiding, separated from her son Jacob, who she previously thought was dead. But her hope for his future, along with Those Who Resist, keep her strong and on task. Along with Cal, Jed, Josee, and Sarge, Gina trains and waits for the time when they can finally rid the earth of the evil that is literally sucking the life out of humans. From Oregon to Israel, our beloved characters push the drama to its ultimate end, with every story line melding into a finale worth the wait.

Nowhere is the struggle between good and evil written so originally, yet so understandably like our own real-life conflict. Wilson makes sure the reader is disgusted by the methods of the enemies by picturing them in all of their grotesqueness. He also shows downfalls as well as triumphs of the heroes who are so much like you and me. Over and over the story shows Nazarene blood prevailing no matter the failings of its followers or the obstacles they face.

I really don't know how Eric will top this, although, considering how far he has come in his writing, I have no doubt that he will continue to surprise and amaze us with something truer, deeper, and more breathtaking. I can't recommend reading only one of these three books in the series, because a reader really needs to start from the beginning and go all the way to the end—which is a great thing for those just discovering Wilson, since all of the books are released now and there will be no waiting in between!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Coming Soon...

Yes, I've gotten a little distracted by super-couponing, but in this economy, you can't blame me. It has become somewhat of an obsession, and although I'm still reading and reviewing, I haven't taken the time to post enough reviews of the good stuff I've been reading.

You can still find my reviews at Title Trakk and The Christian Suspense Zone as well.

But here's some new info...

At the beginning of August, I'll be posting a review of the long-awaited Steven James novel, The Bishop, which I know will rock our collective socks off.

If I can recover from company and kids going to camp, I'll finally post, hopefully next week, my review of Eric Wilson's Valley of Bones, which was a more than fitting ending to his incredible series.

So, my apologies for dropping the ball, as it were. My love for fiction still resounds throughout the internet and I intend to get back to promoting it with more fervor and more frequent posts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

CSFF Blog Tour presents: Raven's Ladder, by Jeffrey Overstreet


Displaced King Cal-raven and his people must leave the shelter of Barnasham and head off to the New Abascar Cal-raven has seen in his dreams. But there are many obstacles to re-establishing his people, one of which is House Bel Amica. Their wealth, beauty, bounty, and strange religion all draw Abascar's remnant in and ensnare them, making them want to stay in the seaside city instead of striking off for their new home.

Even Cal-raven gets sidetracked from his original plan (albeit it's a good sort of sidetracked), agreeing to help Cyndere, Jordam, and Ale Boy rescue the prisoners of House Cent Regus.

I liked that the author showed us several characters' points of view, including Jordam, Cyndere, Cal-raven, Tabor Jan, Emereine, Ale Boy, and others. I had hoped that many of the previous books' characters would come into play, and I was not disappointed.

I've loved this series from the beginning. The first two books were incredible. Overstreet certainly has a gift for story-telling and for immersing his readers into the fictive fantasy world. However, this third book in the series made me feel like I was wading through molasses--too slow of a pace. Much of the problem was probably that I didn't realize there would be a fourth book until the very end. That fact made me accept the open-endedness of this book and see it in a little different light. ('Course, I'm the person who hated The Empire Strikes Back because it was too dark, hopeless, and left things hanging, so take my opinion for what it's worth.) I think Overstreet focused more on character development here than packing the action, although there is plenty of that as well.

The positives far outweigh any negatives regarding this story. I have no doubt the last installment will be spectacular, and I look forward to reading it.

The Amazon Book Link
Author Website and Blog

Participant Links:
Brandon Barr
Rachel Briard (BooksForLife)
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

Unneeded disclaimer: I did NOT get a free copy of this book from the CSFF tour. However, I did get it free from another website that I review for, but no other compensation, and my words are my own.

Monday, April 19, 2010


No reviews lately, but I have been reading. I just finished James Patterson's new Alex Cross book called Alex Cross' Trial. Extremely absorbing, if you can handle the language. He handled the story with excellence, in my opinion, as difficult as the subject matter was (racism around the turn of the 20th century).

I'm also re-reading The Bride Collector for review and have one or ten other things going on.

For now, I'm excited because I've gotten involved with extreme couponing and am obsessed with saving money. I just got two boxes (yes boxes, not reams) of Hammermill Copy Plus paper from Staples for $5 each! Wanna know how? Go here:

Southern Savers

This is my new favorite website. Jenny finds me all the deals!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another Frugal Day!

I got these 16 items all for $13.86! That bag in the front is some more frozen fruit--you can't tell by my camera angle. Whoops. AND, I have a coupon for a free gallon of milk on my next trip. That's worth around $3!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Now a Frugal Fanatic!

Sorry for departing from the books/writing theme, but I just had to share.

Thanks to super-couponing I got the above 16 items for only $10.70!! The Coffee Mate creamer alone is usually around $3 and so is the Dole frozen fruit. We use these items all the time.

Taking advantage of coupons in the Sunday paper and printable ones online in conjunction with Harris Teeter Triple Coupon Week really paid off. Find out how to do this on the Southern Savers site. And no, I do not receive perks for mentioning Jenny's site. I just love it that much! You should see the deals I get from Walgreen's and CVS every week. Amazing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tea With Hezbollah

Expect a thoughtful review later. I haven't yet finished the book. Know now, though, that this is unlike anything you've ever seen from Ted or anyone else for that matter.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My One Word 2010 - Perspective

Amazing how long it took me to pick a word this year. Maybe it's because I had a hard time hearing from God. Admittedly, I made less use of my word "abide" last year than I should have. Somehow, somewhere, the spirit behind last year's word got lost and I wandered in a desert of wishy-washiness.

But all of that is aside now. For the last few weeks, I've been batting around possible words to focus on--words such as committed, consistency, example, disciple, obey, faithful. But as I thought about those words, I realized that they, as well as the last three words I've chosen (surrender, perseverance, abide), are "doing" words. They talk about something I should do. Pastor Mike said recently that we need to concentrate on what God wants us to BE, not what he wants us to DO. Sure, being godly requires doing some things. But it starts with that character, that attitude, that longing, that righteousness, that faith inside of us. Our doing overflows from who we are.

And so, after much ado, I've chosen the word PERSPECTIVE. Some important synonyms: mindset, attitude, frame of reference, viewpoint. I want God's perspective, not my own. I don't want to live by my own ideas of what to be and do. I want to know God and his word enough to see God's ways and methods and where he's moving. I want to see myself and others through his eyes. I need a bigger, better perspective--one that's not so selfish and myopic.

It's usually easy to pick a bible verse to go with my word. Usually my word is inspired directly by a certain scripture. Not this time. I had to think about it for a while to know which verse to relate to my word. Here it is:

I Corinthians 2:16b - "But we have the mind of Christ." The whole paragraph before this verse talks about how we can't know God's thoughts apart from God's Spirit, and how the Spirit reveals things to us. We have God's Spirit so (among other reasons) we "may understand what God has freely given us." I'm meditating on that part some more so I can figure out what it means to me. Like Paul said in Philippians 3, "I consider everything a loss to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ..." and in Romans 12, " transformed by the renewing of your mind." I have to change my attitude, my mindset, to the one God has, as much as possible. This is going to require more bible study, more prayer, more reflection. I'm not sure where this word will take me, but I have no doubt I will grow closer to the One that holds me in his hand. The great and glorious One whose thoughts and ways are higher than mine, and yet, who has given me the mind of Christ. Big stuff.

Lord, save me from my own view of things. Change my attitude and transform my mind. Give me your mind, eyes, and heart. Grow me into a person who knows you so well that I see things from your perspective and act accordingly. Amen.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Becoming New

It's a new year again. Time to take stock of our lives, seeking to use the present to redeem the past and consequently change our future.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come." (HCSV)

It goes without saying that our new lives in Christ should be different from our old lives without Christ. We are made for him, and our daily walks should reflect a moment by moment dependence on him. However, being is more important than doing. As my pastor puts it, "What will we be?" not "What will we do?" How should our mindset change in order to become what God wants us to be?

I've heard several pastors/teachers/speakers saying the same sorts of things about this very topic. My own pastor spoke last week of the importance of being quiet and listening to what God says to us in his Word. About slowing down and how you know that you're too busy if you don't have time for God. Is the pace we are running at right now sustainable? Or are we heading for an eventual breakdown? I have seen this happen and it's not pretty. It would behoove us to re-evaluate our priorities and see what needs to be switched around or canned completely.

Dr. Richard Swenson, a futurist, speaker, and author talks about putting margin into our lives. About how we have to say no to things. I recommend listening to him speak and/or reading articles he has written. He's an expert on many subjects and puts everything into perspective clearly and logically.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you." - Matthew 6:33 (HCSV)

This is the most important thing when thinking about renewing our minds, softening our hearts, and slowing down our pace in order to listen to God--putting the kingdom of God first. After all, we belong to that kingdom, and its advancement should be of utmost value to us.

Ephesians 3:14-21: "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. [I pray] that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. [I pray that] you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth [of God's love], and to know the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think-according to the power that works in you--to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (HCSV)

Slow down and listen to God this year. Focus on being and not doing. If you are listening closely to the Spirit, he will tell you what you ought to do. But focus instead on being. Then look and see how your calendar/schedule changes as a result. See how your attitude and outlook changes. Our God is doing a new thing, and he is doing it through us.

(cross posted at the Ted Dekker website on the Modfia blog)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Karri Compton is a contributing author to this collaborative fiction book, created by twenty-seven authors and artists from six different countries.

An immigrant and her young daughter, struggling to reach their dream…a special needs child, searching for hope…a newly released ex-con, seeking forgiveness. They have one thing in common—they’re about to be touched by God in a way they never imagined.

All through a simple postcard.

Brought up in a strict Muslim home in London, Sulafa has recently experienced the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Now, despite fear of discovery and its consequences, she knows she has to spread the good news. In an act of bravery, she sends out postcards with a single message: Let me pray for you. Her simple postcard request impacts lives and brings hope in the midst of hopelessness.

The second of many anticipated books from Peculiar People, Delivered is a collection of short stories that intertwine to deliver a single message. It is the work of twenty-five authors with one united voice, proclaiming the power of God to transform lives, and His ability to do the miraculous in the most ordinary of circumstances.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Quote of the Day

"I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is." --Albert Camus

Stay tuned for my New Year's blog--it's in process now.