Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: Dysfunction Junction by April Erwin

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page (or your current page)
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My Teaser:

"I want to throw my chopsticks at them, and I’m not sure which one I want to impale the most. This is going to be a long night." - from Dysfunction Junction by April Erwin, coming December 2013.

What better teaser than one from my own upcoming release? As it happens, I'm doing some final edits today and it is what I'm currently reading. :)

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your teasers in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

CFBA: Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel by Melody Carlson

Song Stuck on the Brain: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
 Mom, Angel and I are choosing music to sing for church in a few weeks. I stumbled on this hymn today. It's one of my fav's at Christmas time. As I was reading through all the verses I realized it really isn't Christmas specific. It's just a prayer for Christ to return to his people. The verses are beautiful.We decided to try and work up a 3 part a cappella version for church. It's going to take a lot of work, but I think it will be worth it. The song just inspires me and draws the Holy Spirit when it's sung. I'm really hoping it will do the same for those who hear it as well.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel
B&H Publishing Group (April 30, 2013)
Melody Carlson


I identify with Daphne Ballinger a little more than I expected. First of all, her Aunt Dee reminds me a a lot of my Granny Boo. Granny might have been more brash than Dee, but they were both strong willed, independent women before their time. In Dee's case she's determined to see Daphne's life go the way she sees fit, even from the other side. Her will certainly lays down some very unique requirements. Dee does it out of love and good intentions, but her determination is still speaking from the grave.

Daphne, fortunately, had a very healthy and close relationship with her Aunt Dee. Now with her guidance gone, Dee stands at a crossroad. Should she step out of her comfort zone and see where God will lead her? Or stay with what's safe and familiar even if it doesn't make her happy?

Part of her decision includes choosing who to love and for the right reasons. I don't want to give anything away, so just know that there are several single men present and available and the choice is overwhelming! Not just for Daphne, but for me too. I found myself rooting for a particular gentleman only to question my choice a couple of chapters later. Your discovery is paced with Daphne's without a hint of who her final choice will be.

The author did a great job balancing humor and sincerity with blossoming faith. Daphne's choice at the end of the book was a bit of a surprise, but that's good! I felt like I really experienced the journey with Daphne, and even if my choices or thoughts might have taken a different path personally, I understood and empathized with the character's decisions and situations.

I know this is just the first book in the series and it was a great launching pad. Daphne's story concludes in such a way that leaves you satisfied yet wanting more. Looking forward to more from Melody Carlson.


With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel, go HERE.


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell

Today I am reviewing a book on behalf of Netgalley.com:

After reading Moonlight Masquerade, I've decided I need a butler. A tall, strapping, pious, manly, good looking butler. *sigh* Okay I'd rather he not be a butler or a spy necessarily, but goodness does Ruth Axtell know how to write a good character! Before you all pass this off as a fluff book though, let me get past my heart palpitations and tell you what else was great about this book.
Um. Everything? :) The connection between Celine and Rees is just the beginning, the tension that pulls you in and makes you want jump into the pages and shove the two together is palpable. Then there is the intrigue. Shadowy meetings. Spies following spies. Who do you trust and who has the right side of things? The politics were intriguing but never dry in my opinion and I enjoyed getting a closer look at the different factions that made up the rebellion in France. Napoleon wasn't the only one struggling for control. The glimpses between the royalists and their emigre court, and those that would see them left out of the government, was enlightening.
The book does end on a happy note, but I'll admit not in the way I expected. It was, however, just as satisfying and I love it when I don't always have things figured out from the very beginning. I like to enjoy the ride and Moonlight Masquerade was a VERY good ride... er, read. I look forward to it's sequel. 
Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need–or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess’s butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London’s West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham’s spell. Will he find the proof he needs? And if she is a spy after all, will he do the right thing?
Ruth Axtell is the author of thirteen novels, including Wild Rose, one of Booklist's Top Ten in Christian Fiction. Currently a resident of Downeast Maine, Axtell has lived in the Canary Islands, Miami, and the Netherlands.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel by Ginger Garrett

Today I'm reviewing a book on behalf of NetGalley.com:


The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel

Ginger Garrett
I should have known better. That was the thought that kept crossing my mind as I read Reign. Not because the writing was bad or the story telling confusing. No, I didn't find anything wrong with the writing itself, in fact, Ginger Garrett is a very talented writer.

No, what I should have known better was that I wouldn't enjoy the story. I knew the account of Jezebel and Ahab, of the curse God brought down on the Israelites and of the many horrible things that occurred when she brought her false gods and sacrifices with her. I knew it wasn't going to end well. Although I don't mind a sad ending or a good drama, I like a good ending and I try to choose my review books accordingly.

So why did I pick this book to review, you might ask? First the cover intrigued me (I know, you can't judge a book by it's cover...). Second, I like history. I'm just curious enough to want to understand more of the culture that surrounded the accounts in the Scriptures. It's true, there is not nearly enough written in the Holy Bible to tell Jezebel's story in depth, or any of the others involved. But I had hoped that the historical representation would be interesting and entertaining.

For some, I suppose it will be. For me, I couldn't handle it. Knowing there are child sacrifices, sexual rites and other horrors in honor of the false gods is one thing. It gets filed in the "logic" side of my brain. Reading about it, seeing it come to life and feeling sickening horror - well that falls under the "emotion" side of my brain. It's too dark and I don't handle it well. (Nightmares followed.) Although I don't believe she's extravagant in anyway, Ginger Garrett is honest and forthright in her representation of the culture. It's the sign of a talented writer when a scene can come to life so clearly.

Also, Jezebel's nature and wildness is an interesting take on who she might have been. Maybe even very accurate, the Bible definitely hints at a crazed woman. The author tries to create a story line that allows us to understand her better, to even be sympathetic toward her, but I found that very difficult. In my mind I don't feel like that was the point of the account in I and II Kings. Do I pity her, wish she had repented and turned to the one true God? Absolutely! But she didn't and her tale seems to stand more as a testament and witness against those who would defy God. A witness we should know and be aware of, but not one I find entertaining or enjoyable as fiction, no matter how well written. Every reader has their own tastes however, so choose now knowing more than I did when I picked up the book and don't judge the book by it's cover. :)

Beyond the Drama, Her Heart Was Real
From the moment her marriage to prince Ahab thrusts her into the intrigues of palace life, Jezebel’s exotic beauty opens doors and her will breaks down walls. Torn from her homeland and wed to power in a strange country, Jezebel vows to create a legacy and power all her own. Some might call her a manipulative schemer, bent on having her way. But they don’t know the whole story, and she was much, much worse. As she moves through the halls of power, her heart struggles between devotion to the gods she worships, the prince who loves her, and her thirst for revenge. She sparks a battle between her strangely powerless gods and the God of palace administrator Obadiah—a God who confronts her with surprising might. She will fight, though victory may cost her everything.


Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women’s history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

Her newest release is Beauty Secrets of the Bible, (September, Thomas Nelson) based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham’s The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include The Harvest Show, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie’s House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. A graduate of Southern Methodist University with a degree in theatre, she is passionate about creating art from history.

I received a copy of this novel free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.