Sunday, June 29, 2008

Baby Baby

I hinted a while back that we are having a special addition in the fall. Here's the first pictures of the newest member of our family! Aren't the feet adorable?

We're very excited. We've slowly gotten out of baby mode, so it will be a little challenge to go back into it. We have good helpers though. The boys have also come up with some interesting name suggestions, from "Sonic" to "Snake Eyes" (blame that one on G.I. Joe).

After the ultrasound, people around here were very curious about what we were having, seeing as we have three boys. I was proud to announce that we're having a human. Of course, ultrasound pictures can sometimes look creepy, but take my word for it.

She is much cuter than the pictures suggest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CSFF Tour - The Vanished

Hey, it is that time of month again. No, not time to change your air conditioner filter or shave the dog. It is time for the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour!

Too bad I goofed this month.

The focus is on Kathryn Mackel's new book, The Vanished. It is in the Christian Chillers category. Yes, I suppose that is a new category. No, I am not making it up. And I happen to think the name is way cool...


I thought I had requested a copy or ordered a copy or somesuch. Turns out I didn't. Bummer. I did enjoy the one book of hers I read for a prior tour, Trackers, (you can read about it here). However, I don't have any information about the book itself that is original.

Also, usually when I don't read the book, I highlight other CSFF tour members who have informative posts on it. Well, it seems Becky Miller did that this time. Check out her posts to keep up to date with the best of the tour.

I can offer this teaser from Kathryn's website, and I invite you to check out my tourmates below. Hopefully I'll be back on board next month.

After a bomb explodes in a working-class neighborhood of Barcester, Massachusetts, Police sergeant Jason Logan fights to keep order and assist the injured while desperately waiting for aid to arrive. Is the mist from the bomb preventing ambulances and fire trucks from coming in? Or has something far more dire occurred?

As the hours tick by, Logan tracks the terrorist mastermind—whom he learns is not done wreaking havoc. Cut off from modern medical resources, nurse-practitioner Kaya de los Santos treats the injured and soothes the fearful, unaware that her teenaged son Ben is on the run from both the cops and the terrorist.

The vanished begin a battle for survival against enemies they’ve always known—and forces they’ve never even imagined.

Kathryn Mackel is one of the best things to happen to suspense fiction in a long time—and Vanished is her most intense book yet. This book kicks off a series that’s guaranteed to give you hours of white-knuckle reading. —Jim Denney, author of the Timebenders series and Answers to Satisfy the Soul

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Linda Wichman
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Friday, June 20, 2008

CFBA Tour - The Hunted

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing The Hunted (Realms - June 3, 2008) byMike Dellosso.

Jason's Review:

The Hunted is a entertaining and suspenseful first effort from Mike Dellosso. The danger is palpable, and he keeps his cards hidden and plays them skillfully. Just when you think you've figured things out, he holds a twist or two back to keep the reader guessing.

The characters are well distinguished and interesting. Even though the book is driven by the plot, he takes time to develop characters enough that the reader is invested in them. There was one aspect here that jarred me a little: the main character has a habit of some...interesting comparisons in his mind. Meaning, he is a little sarcastic and comes up with some witty observations. Sometimes this has the effect of being too reliant on pop culture references, having the potential to date the book quickly. Also, the main character didn't do this initially, so when he starts with his observations, it seemed out of place. On the other hand, the humor changes the mood at times to allow the tension to build again, so it has a mixed effect.

Dellosso also handles the faith aspect in a good way that mostly complements the story instead of being forced on the story (which happens at times in the Christian fiction realm).

My overall impression is that The Hunted was well worth reading for any suspense fans, as well as people who enjoy a mysterious plot. There's a little squeamish potential for the sensitive reader, but I didn't feel there was anything too gratuitous that didn't serve the story. It is a very solid debut, and I look forward to more by Mike Dellosso.


A town's deadly secret will drive one man to the edge of his faith...

After learning of the disappearance of his nephew, Joe Saunders returns to his childhood home of Dark Hills to aid in the search effort. When Caleb is found, badly mauled and clinging to life, Joe embarks on a mission to find the beast responsible. But the more Joe delves into the fabric of his old hometown, the more he realizes Dark Hills has a dark secret, shrouded for three generations in a deadly code of silence.

As Joe unravels the truth behind a series of unexplained animal attacks, murder, and corruption at the highest level of law enforcement, he is led to a final showdown where he must entrust his very life into God's hands. Will his young faith be strong ehough to battle the demonic forces of The Hunted?

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted. He was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years and has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets. Mike also has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters.

Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer's Network, and International Thriller Writers. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master's Graduate School of Divinity.

You can read a great interview with Mike, over here on TitleTrakk.

Monday, June 16, 2008

CFBA Tour - Deep in the Heart of Trouble

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Deep In The Heart Of Trouble (Bethany House June 1, 2008) by Deeanne Gist.

My Wife Says:

She has been following Deeanne Gist since I found out about her first book being picked up as "edgy inspirational" fiction from Bethany House editor Dave Long, who established the (mostly quiet anymore, but once quite profound) faith*in*fiction blog. Beccy once again enjoyed Deep in the Heart of Trouble, the first sequel by Gist (this book follows Courting Trouble).

According to Bec, she really liked the main character Essie for her spunkiness and self-sufficiency. It was a fun book and a fun plot. Everything came together in a very satisfying way. She always passes a Deeanne Gist book around to all her friends. When it comes to romance, Gist is a can't miss.


Deeanne Gist has been a busy lady. She had a career in elementary education. She raised four children. In fifteen years she has: run a home accessory/antique business, member of the press, penned freelance journalism for a few well-known publications, People, Parents, Family Fun and more. She was the CFO for her husband's engineering company, she did all this in her home.

She also founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products which would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she submitted A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers and they picked it up for their new "edgy inspirational" line of historical fiction. After its release in July 2005, Bride hit eight best seller lists and has sold over 100,000 copies and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2006. The Measure of a Lady was her 2006 summer release. It hit five best seller lists and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2007. Gist is contracted to have a new book come out every summer. Courting Trouble was her 2007 summer release and it hit three best seller lists.

Deeanne lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-four years. They have two kids in high school, two in college.


A Texas-Sized Tale of Unexpected Love

Essie Spreckelmeyer is the last woman anyone in Corsicana, Texas, expected to see with a man on her arm. Independent and outspoken, she’s known more for riding bicycles in outrageous bloomers than for catching a man’s eye.

And the last man who seems willing to give her a second glance is Tony Morgan, newly hired at Spreckelmeyer’s oil company. The disinherited son of an oil baron, Tony wants most to restore his name and regain his lost fortune--not lose his heart to this headstrong blonde. She confounds, contradicts, and confuses him. Sometimes he doesn’t know if she’s driving him toward the aisle or the end of his rope.

That’s how life is ...Deep In The Heart Of Trouble

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reading to My Boys

I have been in the habit of reading to my boys when they go to bed since they were little. We don't do it every night, but most evenings we gather on the couch for our latest adventure. For the last year and a half or so we've been into chapter books. We're reading through the Chronicles of Narnia and other books as well.

In March, the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy tour highlighted Andrew Peterson's book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. I thought my boys (8 and 6) would enjoy this book, and I was definitely right.

The first few chapters deftly use humor to build interest even as the conflict is slowly unfolding. The boys laughed at Janner Igiby's trouble with the dog Nugget's nuggest, and couldn't understand why Gnag the Nameless (a nameless evil) had a name.

The humor continues in the book, but the adventure grows as the Igiby children run into trouble with the Fangs of Dang, and the mysteries of the Jewels of Anniera are eventually revealed. My boys started hanging on every chapter, threatening to pound me in the nose if I didn't keep reading. Dark Sea does a great job of leaving each chapter hanging a little, making the boys very interested to see what happened the next night.

We finished the book this week, and the boys are already very excited that there promises to be two more books in this series. My oldest (who has only just finished 2nd grade) has, since Wednesday, read halfway through a book that is meant for a young adult audience.

I just wanted to follow up on this book to explain how much my boys liked it, and to encourage parents out there to let their kids experience this take of adventure, peril, lost jewels, and the toothy cows of Skree.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Book Review - Skid by Rene Gutteridge

When I pick books, I tend toward the action, suspense, sci-fi, or fantasy genres. Typical guy stuff, I suppose. However, I can be swayed by a clever, inviting back-copy, and that's what happened when I first heard about Rene Gutteridge. While looking at book options for the CFBA tour, I read the synopsis for Scoop, the first book in her Occupational Hazards series. It was funny and quite intriguing, so I asked for the book. Scoop turned into my favorite book of 2006.

Rene is back with the latest book in the series: Skid. As with the first and second book, (Snitch), she nails the landing with this new tale.

The Occupational Hazards series focuses on the Hazards, a family of homeschooled kids who are strong in their faith. Their parents also owned a clown company that the whole family helped staff - until the parents' untimely hot tub accident. After the funeral the kids sell the business and it funds their attempts to go into the world and find an occupation.

Hank Hazard, who we saw introduced in Snitch, fell in love with flying and applies for a special job at struggling airline Atlantica: being a spy on their planes evaluating customer service by haranguing the flight attendants with incessant requests. Hank is such a nice guy though, he can't help but be the most polite yet irritating customer.

Gutteridge here applies her trademark twists and laugh-out-loud turns as Hank's flight includes a mysterious pilot who has survived the Bermuda triangle, a pig, a Dutch convict, a diamond smuggler, and a jilted young woman in polka dots. The plot moves along with continuous hijinks that kept me chuckling throughout the book. Just as one situation seems to be boiling over, another pot bubbles up as well. Gutteridge is able to make all of her humorous characters believable, and keeps the reader hooked for the whole crazy flight.

Publisher's Weekly said that, "No Christian fiction novelist can tickle a funny bone like Gutteridge", and I agree. Skid continues her impressive and greatly enjoyable run through various Occupational Hazards. I highly recommend this whole series for anyone who likes very readable books with a planeload of humor. You won't be disappointed.