Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Contests Galore!

I'm busy at work on the premier issue of Waterfall Books. Yes, I tend to procrastinate, but there have been a number of changes in my life since I first conceived the concept of this enewsletter. One directly impacts Waterfall Books, and I'll share the details in the newsletter (which will hopefully arrive in the inbox of subscribers tomorrow!).

I awarded the influencer packs (two of which have to be mailed to the Philippines - my bank account is cowering in fear), but there's still the subscriber grand prize to be awarded. For the sake of my bank account, the randomly chosen subscriber must offer a US address, or be willing to provide the shipping cost difference, or they can pass on the prize pack and I'll award it to another subscriber.

But, I'm not awarding the prize until tomorrow, so there's still time to subscribe and enter!

The pack consists of:

Eden Hall by Veronica Heley
Every Fixed Star by Jane Kirkpatrick
Sins of the Fathers by James Scott Bell (some black markings - received it that way from the publisher)
A Nest of Sparrows by Deborah Raney
King's Ransom by Jan Beazely and Thom Lemmons
Only Glory Awaits by Leslie S. Nuermberg
Love Rekindled by Candi Adermatt

In other news, Rhoda Balana won For Safe Keeping, and if "Anonymous" will leave another comment on the January 1st post with his/her email address, he/she will win a copy of Hell in a Briefcase.

Friday, January 26, 2007

If the Shoe Fits

Have glass slipper, need prince . . .

If the Shoe Fits by Marilynn Griffith tells the story of single mom (and soon to-be-grandma) Rochelle Gardner. After years of having the only man in her life as her son, now his father's back in the area. And the church deacon she's known for a decade suddenly seems interested in her. And then there's that new singles group she's joined, though the man who catches her eye is a waiter at the restaurant they frequent. With her son's girlfriend about to give birth, a designer shoe store to run, and people paying far too much attention to her not-so-beautiful feet, it's a good thing Rochelle has the Sassy Sistahood to back her up!

This book is the sequel to Made of Honor, and I really wish I had read book #1 first. All of the characters and how they knew each other/were related was very confusing during the first third of the novel. If the Shoe Fits deals with some difficult issues such as teen pregnancy and abandonment, yet God's workings are clearly seen. I'd give this book to any woman who complained that CBA books aren't realistic enough.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Door Within Trilogy Continues

With a pile of spoilers! So if you haven't read the trilogy, skip to the post below.

I meant it - you're not allowed to read this part. I hate people reading the middle or the last page of the book before they've read the beginning. So no peeking!

I read the books soon after they arrived, which means I'm a bit fuzzy on some of the details - and some of the questions I had. A few have been answered as I've gone back and reread parts.

There were many things I loved about the world found through The Door Within, Rise of the Wyrm Lord, and The Final Storm. Eyes glinting blue and red and green. Flowerly dialogue that just begs to be read aloud. Cool swords and dragons. Adventures and bands of friends.

I usually hate teen books where the main character does something wrong that they know is wrong - I know they're going to regret it and I ponder how they can be so stupid! Not so with book #2 in this series. I completely understood why Antoinette left the mission, and it was one of the few times I've ever read that an author's been able to pull off protagonist disobedience credibly.

The Final Storm was confusing at times, with the Thread and the end "merging" only becoming clear through 2nd and 3rd rereadings. It reminded me of Lewis's The Last Battle in many ways. I wondered why this world seemed to "end" as it merged with the Realm. Since it's obvious that this world is still here, it made the books seem like "only books," while I'm still wishing Narnia is out there. Then the "merged" Realm continues on while the Three Witnesses head to the Sacred Realm - a move I wasn't prepared for since of the "end times" overtones similar to The Last Battle. I still very much enjoyed the book.

Well, I'd write more later, but I've already saved this as a draft twice!

Visit the blogs below:

Jim Black Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Frank Creed CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis Chris Deanne Janey DeMeo April Erwin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Todd Michael Greene Leathel Grody Karen Hancock Sherrie Hibbs Sharon Hinck Joleen Howell Kait Karen K. D. Kragen Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium Rachel Marks Shannon McNear Rebecca LuElla Miller Caleb Newell Eve Nielsen John Otte Robin Parrish Cheryl Russel Hannah Sandvig Mirtika Schultz James Somers Stuart Stockton Steve Trower Speculative Faith Daniel I. Weaver Tessa Edwards

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Trilogy Begins

Enter The Realm . . . through The Door Within trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson. The Door Within, Rise of the Wyrm Lord, and The Final Storm tell of a kingdom ruled by a king unseen, threatened by a betraying evil, and populated by Glimpses.

What's a Glimpse? I'll tell you in a bit.

The first thing to love about these books are their covers - rich, mysterious hardbacks. The kind of covers that bring a warm satisfaction when you see them sitting on your bookshelf.

The sweeping scope of the novels reminds me of Tolkien, while their accessibility brings to mind Narnia (gradual discovery disbelieved by those older). While the first book holds a bit of condescension - instead of experiencing the adventure with Aidan, you're viewing young Aidan's adventure - the series improves in that respect in the following books.

These books are what I think of as "passage" fantasies - someone (or more than one) travels from this world into another. Batson adds a twist to this common fantasy element - every person in this world (referred to as the Mirror Realm) has a Glimpse twin - a person who's them but not quite them. Decisions one makes affects the other. And they can't meet, so when someone from this world enters The Realm, their Glimpse comes here.

It's a mind-boggling hypothesis that Batson pulls off with flair, though I did have a few fistfuls of unanswered questions by the trilogy's end (which I may post about in another entry if I have time - and spoilers would likely abound).

To read more about The Realm, visit the blogs below:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
K. D. Kragen
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John Otte
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hannah Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Arms of Deliverance

I just finished Tricia Goyer's Arms of Deliverance last night. Yes, I let it sit before reading it, but I have books arriving every couple of days and they're starting to pile up. Not to mention that I have several dozen sitting on my shelves that I really want to read, plus 25 or more that I'd give a try if I had a spare moment.

As if.

I'm loving my new job at Logos Bookstore. One of the few drawbacks is less reading time. One reason I was glad Tricia's book wasn't as long as the previous novel of hers that I'd read (and enjoyed), Night Song.

Tricia begins with a diverse cast of characters you know will all connect before the book ends. Katrine has safely hidden her Jewishness by her Aryan looks, completely fooling everyone, even her S.S. boyfriend. But when she becomes pregnant, he takes her to a Lebensborn home, where she and the child will have the best care the Third Reich can provide.

Raised by a working-class single mom, Mary Kelley has had to struggle to make it as a female reporter. Then Lee O'Donnelly, a wealthy fashion magazine writer, decides to turn to hard news, and with scores of contacts easily becomes Mary's rival. Both women land European assignments, and their conflict is soon displaced by the stories they cover.

Edward Anderson, B-17 navigator, simply wants to guide his crew safely through their 30 missions. But in the danger and cold, his faith becomes the only thing he can cling to.

I love WWII novels. The intrigue, the valor, the bravery, the sacrifice. I enjoyed Tricia's charactization and close attention to details. Much of the plot seemed to wrap up a bit too smoothly, though (for example, the showdown with the Nazi officer lasted all of two pages). I would have liked more intrigue and complexity.

In all, this is a good read that I'd recommend (along with Tricia's other novels) to any WWII buffs and historical fiction fans.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Pagan's Nightmare

A Pagan's Nighmare by Ray Blackston is a clever tale-within-a-tale. Larry Hutch is trying to sell his latest manuscript about a guy named Lanny who finds himself one of the last pagans on Earth. His agent loves the story (and the fact that his commission from the sale will boost his finances), but his Southern Baptist wife wants him to have nothing to do with something so sacrilegious. Meanwhile, Larry's trying to figure out how to tell the girl he likes that he based the heroine of his story on her.

But the primary focus of this nested tale is Lanny's adventures trying to find his girlfriend in a world of inflated prices for nonChristians, McScriptures, and sanitized music lyrics.

Having loved Blackston's hilarious Flabbergasted trilogy, I came to A Pagan's Nightmare prepared to laugh out loud. Unfortunately, I only giggled under my breath a bit. It just didn't strike me as funny. Not because I was offended (growing up in Baptist churches, I was the one laughing when a guy classified CCM as "charismatic music") . . . I don't know why. Perhaps the whole thing felt too surreal to be humorous. I wonder if that would have changed if Lanny's story was the only one. Perhaps the hype led to expectations that were deflated - not only do you have the "endorsements" on the back (which were perhaps the funniest part of the book, for example, "RIVETING! Gripping!! FABULOUS!!! Exclamation Points!!!!!!!" -- Today's Religious Fanatic), but Agent Orange's proclamation of the book as a "double bencher," a book you read with a flashlight in bed to finish. This was all before I read the first page of Lanny's story.

It's daring, yes, to poke fun at the Christian subculture. But we already have a Christian parody band sanitizing popular songs, and TestaMints instead of McScriptures. While Blackston's book does go to creative extremes, it falls flat, leaving readers with few characters to root for and a plot that doesn't allow for a "suspension of disbelief."

I'm still going to grab the next Blackston novel when it comes out. But if it's called My Big Fat Orbiting Cheeseball, I'm reading a chapter or two before I lay down my cash. And if that excerpt doesn't make me laugh, I'm leaving it on the shelf.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Mission: Russia

I first fell in love with Susan May Warren's writing with her Team Hope series (though I had enjoyed Ekaterina - co-written with Susan K. Downs - earlier). In her Mission: Russia series, she brings her trademark romantic suspense (I'm not sure who does the genre better, Susie or her friend Dee Henderson) back to the country where she and her family served as missionaries.

In Sheep's Clothing has doubtful missionary Gracie Benson stumbling onto a murder scene. Terrified, she flees. FSB agent Vicktor Shubnikov recognizes the kills as trademark of a man simply known as the Wolf. Gracie could be next, but how can Vicktor protect her when she thinks Vicktor is the threat?

In Sands of Time, medical missionary Sarai Curtiss watches helplessly as two children die from an unexplained illness. A government takeover brings a 48-hour notice for all foreigners to leave the area, but Sarai can't abandon her work and the clinic she is about to open. Her brother David asks Roman Novik, the man whose heart she shattered years ago, to get her out in time. Roman still loves her, and while he's realistic about her rebuffs of nearly a decade, he still hopes for a miracle. But Sarai's not happy to see him, and she's not leaving without a fight.

Filled with compelling characters, haunting secrets, and twisting plots, these novels are a must-read for romantic suspense. (The only good reason they should wait in your to-be-read pile is if you're in the middle of one of Susie's Team Hope novels.) I give both novels the Waterfall Books rating of Cascade, though In Sheep's Clothing is my favorite of the two (likely because I can't see myself breaking a guy's heart because I feared for his safety and disagreed with his occupation).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

For Safe Keeping by Charissa Schalk

One September day, nanny Heidi Montgomery's life changes forever. Persuaded by her three charges' mother to accept guardianship if anything happened to Annie, Heidi didn't dream that she would witness Annie's murder that very night. With only seconds to spare, she gathers the three young children and disappears into the Michigan night. But how long can they keep running through the wilderness when the killer is just steps behind?

Author Charissa Schalk brings together a likeable, well-drawn main character and a pulse-pounding plot. Unfortunately, a muddy beginning and some chronological confusion may cause readers to put down the book before they've gotten far. For instance, I didn't realize Heidi was a nanny until I was well into the book - I simply assumed she was a "natural" guardian - Annie's sister perhaps. The cast of characters was confusing, as I didn't expect most of the "children" listed to be in their 20s and 30s. Then near the end the timeline weaves around a bit, including a significant piece of backstory that should have been at least hinted at much earlier in the book.

Aside from these trouble spots, the book is a good read. I give it the Waterfall Books rating of Canal. And, Charissa Schalk sent me an extra copy of her book, so leave a comment on this post and I will draw one name to win a FREE copy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tangerine by Marilynn Griffith

I have lots of stuff happening in my life at the moment, including a new job! I'll have more on that in the future, but for now I don't have time for more than a quick post on the CFBA book of the week. Besides, I haven't read it yet! I did read the first book in the series, Pink, a sassy romance mixing fashion and fitness. Marilynn Griffith is one author you don't want to miss!

Marilynn's webpage
Buy Tangerine on Amazon now!

Book Description:

Fans of Pink and Jade will eat up Tangerine, the third book in the cutting-edge Shades of Style series. Jean Guerra, a designer at Garments of Praise design firm, doesn't like surprises. These days though, the unexpected meets her everywhere. Since Jean's return to the church a year ago, her God-encounters occur with increasing frequency, along with thoughts of her husband-the one she vowed to divorce and gave up on long ago. The one nobody at work knows about, not even her best friend, Lily, or her boss, Chenille. But when the designer assigned to work with Jean on a line of men's suits shows up, her heart flips. It's her husband, Nigel Salvador. Jean is finally rendered speechless. Can her bruised heart become whole enough to love again? Or will she remain in the trenches of loneliness forever?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Win a Free Book!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It is January 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:
Phil Little with Brad Whittington
and their book:
(A Matt Cooper Novel)


With violence in the Middle East escalating daily, Americans are glued to their televisions wondering what will happen next. Meanwhile, Matt Cooper, jet-setting star of Phil Little's debut novel Hell in a Briefcase is doing something about it. A private security executive, his adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas flights, Hollywood parties with his actress girlfriend, and direct calls from top CIA brass.
A chance meeting with Mr. Roberts, “an old broken-down millionaire” and uncommon Christian, sends Cooper on a trip to Israel that will change his life. Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism, witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war. The deeper he goes, the closer he gets to a plot involving eleven stolen briefcase nukes and a plan infinitely more sinister than 9/11.


Phil Little, president of West Coast Detectives and a recognized expert in counter-terrorism, provides bodyguards to the stars and runs a detective agency that has served ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, Paramount, MGM, and hundreds of others (www.westcoastdetectives.us). He draws on this experience in crafting the tightly wound plot of this international thriller. In addition to his duties as a security expert, Phil has also written Hostile Intent, Protecting Yourself from Terrorism and will soon be the subject of a television pilot. In the meantime, you can read more about Matt's adventures in his blog, http://detectivemattcooper.blogspot.com.

In addition, Phil is available for comment on all aspects of international terrorism, both at home and abroad, and he makes for an interesting and colorful guest. His expertise in the area of international issues combined with his personable on-camera style would make for a great interview on this hot topic. From Lebanese terror camps in the 1970’s to American airports in the months before 9/11, Phil Little has witnessed the terror threat up close and can share eye-opening stories and information that all Americans should know.

Note from Katie: If you're looking for the funny Brad Whittington from the Fred books, I think he's missing in the Middle East somewhere.

Win a Free Book!

Comment on this post and be entered to win a free copy of Hell in a Briefcase!