Thursday, February 25, 2010

spring value fiction--"grab bag" blog tour

A few weeks ago, I received an intriguing email from the people at Blogging for Books. They would randomly select and send me two titles from eight they were re-releasing at a price of $6.99 each--pretty good for a full-length paperback! I signed up without hesitation--and really hoped I'd receive Deep Harbor, as I'd just read the first book in that series and loved the prospect of receiving book two for free. Alas, that wasn't one of my books. Instead, I received Yesterday's Promise by Linda Lee Chaikin and The Golden Cross by Angela Elwell Hunt.

First, I'll review those two books. Then, I'll include the press release attached to my invitation email so you can see which books are available. They can all be purchased by going to Of the books I didn't receive, I'd recommend Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn (one of the authors I mentioned in my last post) and Deep Harbor. If you enjoyed Gunn's Christy Miller series, you're sure to enjoy Secrets, book one in her Glenbrooke series. As for Deep Harbor, I haven't read it yet (though I did purchase it after receiving my "grab bag" books), but if it's anything like the first book in the series, it's going to be quite enjoyable!

Yesterday's Promise by Linda Lee Chaikin
Rogan Chantry arrives in South Africa hoping to follow his murdered uncle Henry's map to gold. Evy Varley, the girl Rogan loves, faces her own trials in England, as Henry's murderer is still unknown ... as is her own heritage.

This is book two in Chaikin's "East of the Sun" series. Perhaps if I had read book one prior to reading Yesterday's Promise, I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, I spent the first several chapters trying to understand who everyone was and how they all fit together. Also, Rogan and Evy spend almost all of the book apart, and I found myself not really caring if they ended up together. My guess is that their romance really develops in the first book, and anyone who read book one would be more invested in the characters. The book is well written, but I struggled to make it through the book--it just bored me. The action does pick up near the end, as Henry's murderer is revealed and Evy learns about her parents.

Should you read it? Only if you read and enjoyed the first book in the series.

The Golden Cross by Angela Elwell Hunt
I didn't have high hopes for The Golden Cross after slogging my way through Yesterday's Promise. After all, The Golden Cross is also book two in a series! However, this book grabbed my attention from the get-go, and I read it in less than two days!

Aidan O'Connor is a barmaid in Batavia, a Dutch colony in Indonesia, but she dreams of becoming an artist. Her life changes forever when she meets renowned cartographer Schuyler Van Dyck and he takes her under his wing. Due to her relationship with Van Dyck, Aidan travels to undiscovered lands, becomes an enemy of a very dangerous man, and meets the love of her life.

I absolutely loved The Golden Cross! It is book two in Hunt's "The Heirs of Cahira O'Connor" series. The book begins with prologue featuring Kathleen O'Connor, who is possibly one of Cahira's heirs. She researches Cahira and learns the stories of Anika, featured in book one, and Aidan, the heroine of The Golden Cross. Kathleen again takes center stage in the epilogue, where she wraps up Aidan's story. From what I can tell, Kathleen is the link that ties the series together. Since each book focuses on a different heir, the books work as stand-alone stories, though I would now like to read the other books in this series!

Should you read it? Absolutely!

Now, for the press release:

Value Fiction For Your Spring Break

Colorado Springs, CO— Fiction lovers don’t need to budget to travel this spring break with Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s six full-length novels by beloved Christian authors (WaterBrook, February 16, 2010). At the low cost of only $6.99, these well-read “get-aways” provide quality entertainment at a price that any reader can afford.

Full-length novels offered include:

by Robin Jones Gunn - Jessica has moved to a new town to start a new life. But a friendly fire-fighter and a suspicious boss both want to know what she’s hiding.

Beneath a Southern Sky
by Deborah Raney – Daria Camfield is expecting her first child when her husband Nate is reported dead on the mission field. Devastated, she returns to the States and soon marries again. But two years later Nate is found alive in the jungle. How can Daria possibly choose between he two men who love her?

The Golden Cross
by Angela Elwell Hunt – Aidan O’Connor may be a poor barmaid but she’s also a gifted artists. When a famous cartographer takes her on as a student, Aidan is swept into an adventure that will bring her back to her heavenly Father, and into marriage with the love of her life.

Deep Harbor
by Lisa Tawn Bergren – Tora, Elsa, Kaatje, and Karl face trouble, tragedy, and treachery across the West, Hawaii, Japan, and the high seas. These four immigrants from Bergen, Norway, each grow closer to God and learn afresh the value of faith, family, and coming alongside each other in times of need.

Faithful Heart
by Al and Joanna Lacy – The adventures of certified medical nurse and dedicated Christian Breanna Baylor continue as she travels by wagon train to visit her sister, Dottie, in California. Little does she know that her most dangerous encounter might be with Jerrod, her brother-in-law, who’s suffering from dementia caused by combat fatigue.

Yesterday’s Promise
by Linda Lee Chaikin – Rogan Chantry faces danger from tribesmen, ruthless politicians, and his own family as he searches for gold in South Africa. In England, his beloved Evy is injured by a mysterious assailant. The greed and intrigue surrounding the diamond mines could very well drive them irrevocably apart.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

i love to read, but ...

I can't remember a time that I didn't love reading. In fact, my mom tells a story about finding me crying as a young child because I didn't know how to read. Once I could read, I hardly ever stopped. As an elementary student, I flew through all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books I could get my hands on. I read every Baby-sitters Club book the local library had; while I waited for new titles, I also read the Baby-sitters Little Sister books, which were admittedly geared at much younger children. I even got the Baby-sitters Club game for Christmas one year.

In junior high, I started reading Jeanette Oke's books--my first foray into the Christian romance genre. I also read all of the Anne of Green Gables books, and I distinctly remember crying my eyes out on my parents' bed as I read about Anne & Gilbert's son Walter dying in WWI.

In high school, I read a lot of Lori Wick and Robin Jones Gunn, and I read just about every Christian romance I could get my hands on. Admittedly, those were probably not the best books for me to be reading ...

College is when I discovered Karen Kingsbury. She's still my favorite author. Then after college, a friend got me started on Ted Dekker. I could go on and on, but you get the point--I read a lot!

Obviously, I gravitate toward fiction, mainly the Christian variety. So one thing I really appreciate about the book review programs I participate in (booksneeze and Blogging for Books) is that they've caused me to branch out and read some non-fiction! (In fact, two of the best books I've read have come from these programs: Fearless by Max Lucado and Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. You can see my reviews here and here.)

However, these programs have caused a new problem--or maybe exacerbated an existing problem. I simply don't have time to read everything I've agreed to read! Oh, I'll finish the books and get the reviews in on time, but at what expense? I simply have a difficult time passing up a free book if it sounds even remotely interesting. Thus, I have two reviews to post yet this week (and I still have to finish reading one of the books) and two to post two weeks from now (and I haven't even opened those books yet). And I'm pretty sure I have another review due the week after that, and it's for a book I haven't received yet!

Perhaps the best question to ask myself right now is this: Why am I blogging instead of reading???

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

lazy blogger

I've been an incredibly lazy blogger recently. The reasons for this are many, but basically I feel I don't have enough of interest to say to create an entire blog post. So, I offer you yet another bulleted list of randomness.
  • I saw a commercial the other day illustrating how much food we throw out each year. I think the average was $500-worth. While I'm sure I don't throw that much out, I could certainly identify with the commercial. I can identify with it even more after cleaning out my refrigerator. Spoiled milk? Check. Old lunchmeat? Check. Moldy cheese? Check. Hard-as-a-rock bread? Check.
  • In case you hadn't noticed, Lost is back! Tonight is the third installment of the final season. So many questions, so little time for answers!
  • My dearly beloved desktop computer, which one of my brother's college friends built for me, exploded the other day. Maybe "exploded" isn't quite right ... I heard two loud pops, smoke shot out of the back, and it died. I'm so glad I decided to buy my laptop last summer! My brother thinks the data on the hard drive should be salvageable ... I sure hope so!
  • I love the Olympics! The "inspirational" stories they run between/during competition always make me cry. And the actual competition is so fun to watch! Back in junior high/high school/college I was absolutely obsessed with figure skating. Funny, I'm not even sure I watched it at all during the Torino Olympics. I recognize the names of the American male skaters and one pair of ice dancers, but I don't know much about them. I think I've just found a new favorite skater, though: Takahiko Kozuka of Japan. He skated his short program to Jimi Hendrix, and he was so fun to watch!
  • How is it that I went 28 years without realizing how wonderful cayenne pepper is? It's my new favorite spice. Just a little goes a long way, and it flavors without adding fat, which is excellent for my diet. Yum!
  • Val and I are contemplating a trip to see Lifehouse and Daughtry in May. Really, Daughtry is the headliner, but Lifehouse is more important to me :-) We could see them in Wichita or Kansas City ... either would require a 4-5 hour car trip, but I've already proven I don't mind traveling to see my favorite artists!
  • My next Blogging for Books review is due sometime next week. I have two books to read this time, and I'm about halfway through the first. The problem? It's a sequel, and I didn't read the first book. I was incredibly lost for at least the first 60 pages. I finally decided I didn't need to understand what was happening; I just needed to make it through. And now I think I've sort of figured out what's what ... and I really need to start speed reading!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"lost" explained ... sort of

Just came across this video of people who have never watched Lost trying to explain it. I love some of their guesses as to what's happening!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"the gospel according to lost" by chris seay

As a long-time Lost fan, I was thrilled to receive The Gospel According to Lost in the mail. My original intent was to read it prior to Lost’s sixth and final season premiere. Well, I made it halfway through by that point; after watching the premiere, I was hungry for anything and everything Lost, and I quickly devoured the last half of the book.

The Gospel According to Lost explores the religious themes found in the popular ABC drama. In particular, author Chris Seay draws parallels between the fictional world of Lost and biblical Christianity.

To say I enjoyed this book would be an understatement. Much of what the author had to say I had already read elsewhere; however, he came at it from the perspective of a follower of Christ and, therefore, went deeper into the biblical allusions than the secular bloggers I read ever did. And when he compared Benjamin Linus, one of Lost’s major villains (or is he?), to the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, I sat back and thought, “Of course! That’s exactly who he is … and why didn’t I think of this before?”

My one quibble with the book is its title. While The Gospel According to Lost may be a catchy name, the book is not so much about the gospel—that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin, was buried, and rose again—as it is about exploring the religious symbolism in Lost. And while discussing Lost could easily lead into a discussion of the gospel, I wouldn’t say the gospel message is contained in Lost.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Lost. Anyone who doesn’t watch Lost would probably just find himself … lost!

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.