Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CFBA: Auralia's Colors

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007)


Jefferey Overstreet


Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.

His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.

As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of
and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The
Curse of the Raven Mocker


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

CFBA: Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Thomas Nelson (October 2, 2007)


Neta Jackson

Neta Jackson Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!

Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.

In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.

But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Sneak Preview...


Making of It's A Wonderful Christmas


Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's A Wonderful Christmas

No one does Christmas like Michael W. Smith. Though I admit I'm completely biased. His first Christmas album, simply titled Christmas, was released in 1989. It became an instant favorite alongside Prism's Prism Green album and Sandi Patti's The Gift Goes On. Those three were pretty much it as far as Christian Christmas favorites were concerned. They were the only three that I had in my collection for several years at least. This means they got a LOT of play. Over the years, new favorites were added: Amy Grant's Home For Christmas, Steven Curtis Chapman's The Music of Christmas, but above them all was Michael W. Smith's second Christmas album entitled Christmastime. That second one was released in 1998. Now I'm not saying that I haven't appreciated other offerings by Christian artists--Steve Green's First Noel, FFH's Winter Wonder, MercyMe's Christmas Sessions, Third Day's Christmas Offerings, but I'll keep it honest. No ONE does Christmas like Michael W. Smith.

So you can guess my excitement when I "discovered" a few weeks ago that a third Christmas album was being released. (It was released in October, but purchased in November).

Christmas Angels
It's A Wonderful Christmas
The Promise
Song for The King
Christmas Day
A Highland Carol
Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah
What Child Is This
Son of God
Audrey's Gift
All Year Long

Those are the songs. Do they have the potential of being the soundtrack of the 2007 Christmas season? You know they do!!! This is what Amazon has to say It's A Wonderful Christmas is the, "2007 holiday release from one of the most popular Contemporary Christian Music artists of all time. It's A Wonderful Christmas features nine original songs and one standard performed by Michael and a 67-piece orchestra, recorded at London's famous Abbey Road Studios. This album is perhaps the most anticipated seasonal release this year, so don't be left out in the cold without it!"

The album is a unique blend of instrumental and vocal joys. One Amazon reviewer made this observation...which I'm quoting because it saves me the trouble of formulating it on my own..."Some of the instrumental tracks sound like the soundtrack to a movie. And one feels like a missing piece from the Nutcracker." And earlier he wrote, "Only one track, "What Child is This" is a traditional piece. Michael wrote or co-wrote everything else. Yet everything feels like an old familiar friend." Though you may not believe me at first, I was thinking the EXACT same thing. The instrumental songs really are just like the perfect Christmas movie soundtrack. And one does sound like it's inspired by The Nutcracker. From the very first moment I heard it, I thought "I see ballerinas. Ballerinas NEED to hear this song!!!"

I also learned this from an Amazon review..."This release is a more epic,classical work with four amazing choirs, among them a 100-voice choir and also a 16-member London boy's choir directed by John Tobin, and a 67-piece orchestra at London's Abbey Road studios."

Other Amazon reviews note that the album is "too short." To those critics, I say this. His first album was shorter. Shorter by almost two minutes. And his second album is only longer by five minutes. So their memory is faulty in thinking that they're getting shorted on quantity. And on the time issue, Nat King Cole's classic album The Christmas Song is only thirty minutes. Bing Crosby's classic album, White Christmas, only thirty minutes. Amy Grant's Home For Christmas, only 42 minutes. (Two minutes longer than It's A Wonderful Christmas.) Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas? 39 minutes. Elvis's It's Christmas Time? 23 minutes. The soundtrack to A Muppet Christmas Carol? Almost 39 minutes. No matter how you look at it, there's no way this argument will hold up.

This is a true must-have album. I just loved it. I'm not sure where it fits into with his other two albums. I don't see it as displacing them from their places of honor. But all three together, and you've got the perfect soundtrack for Christmas celebrations and preparations.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jars of Clay: Christmas Songs

It's never easy to review a Jars of Clay CD. I've loved the band for years. Their first two CDs were incredible; they were part of the soundtrack of my life--my college life. Yet their releases are, for me, hit and miss. A few are great, a few are good, a few are okay, and one or two are bad. The problem? Assigning albums to those categories that all fans can agree to. While most fans will admit that some are way way better than others, and that a few are just awful. It's never particularly easy to agree on which is which. Why? Because their style changes from CD to CD. Often even within one CD they display diverse styles and genres and moods. So depending on your personal taste, you might really really love an album that another Jarsy fan hates. And vice versa.

And Christmas CDs are not the easiest to review either. Taking into account that any time a band or artist 'rearranges' a Christmas song--carol, hymn, jingle, whatever--there are bound to be some that think it's not so good. Why mess with a good thing after all? And there are those that will love the new twist on an old favorite. With the philosophy why not make it theirs?

There are fourteen songs on Jars of Clay's Christmas album named Christmas Songs. Even if you think you recognize them as having been "sung" by the group before...believe me...these are new arrangements. (There was a beautiful, beautiful little single put out about a decade or so ago that had "Drummer Boy" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on it.)

The songs range from enjoyable to annoying. That's not to say that the annoying songs wouldn't or couldn't grow on you if you listened to the album at length. There are many albums that take time to appreciate. (I've only listened to the album twice.) But with Christmas albums overall consistency is almost more important than enjoying individual songs. After all, when it comes time to setting background music to cook to, to bake to, to wrap presents to, to open presents to, to eat dinner to, to drive around looking at Christmas lights to, etc. You want something that is pleasant through and through. Something not too distracting, something not annoying, something that you won't have to be stopping so you can flip songs. There are a handful of genuinely pleasant songs on this CD, but a few are a bit too much for me personally.

You might want to preview this one before you buy it. Or you might want to take advantage of stores like iTunes and buy only a few songs from this album.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CFBA: Try Dying

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Center Street October 24, 2007)


James Scott Bell


James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.


On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.
"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~


Monday, November 12, 2007

Splitting Harriet

Leigh, Tamara. 2007. Splitting Harriet.

I typically love Tamara Leigh's books. So I was surprised when this turned into a love-to-hate or hate-to-love book. And then I was equally surprised that it turned the corner there at the end and charmed me. Our heroine, Harriet or Harri, was a likable one for me. Maybe she was supposed to come off as goody two-shoes, maybe she was supposed to represent the legalistic Christian. But for me, she was neither. She was a caring, compassionate friend. I found nothing odd about a twenty-eight year old woman whose closest friends lived in the Senior Retirement mobile home park. I liked that she was all bosom buddies with the older ladies. It was charming. It was sweet. It was familiar. Okay, maybe not familiar as in the kind of thing you read about in books every day. But familiar-to-me. My close friends have always been older--most considerably older--than me. I joined the adult Sunday School class at the age of 20 or 21. I was the youngest. I still am the youngest. But even if my church had "youth" my age, I wouldn't switch now for all the money in the world. (I think it is ridiculous to separate people by age once they're not "children" anymore.) So Harri's story is a personal one. I *know* the reader was supposed to sympathize with the hero, Maddox, and see Harri as stuck-in-the-mud. The opposite was just the case for me. I loved Harri, and there for a while, I was booing when Maddox appeared in the scene. Here was a hero that I just didn't like. Maddox is an outsider. He's been hired as a marketing consultant by Harri's church to 're-envision' the church. To change it up. To make it seeker friendly. To make it relevant and appealing to the unchurched. To make the music an entertaining center attraction. (Enter drums and electric guitars. Goodbye organ and piano.) For a good portion of the text, it seems Maddox's number one 'vision' of the church is to get rid of all the older folks--the senior citizens. His only concern seems to be getting young people there. (Young people being anyone 40 and under.) So I hated Maddox. Hated him with a passion. He's a pushy, motorcycle riding jerk. Someone who is always picking on Harri. Telling her that it's wrong for her to love old people. Wrong for spending her time with senior citizens. Wrong for not having the 'same' interests as people her own age. Maddox represents everything that I theoretically hate. I am NOT a fan of "marketing" or "business" tactics in churches. I am NOT a fan of the mega-church movement. I am not a fan of this "seeker-friendly" nonsense. I am NOT a fan of turning churches into entertainment centers. Stages, musicians, projection screens. Not my thing. They never will be. And the idea that everything this woman loved about her church was being ripped away and shredded by this outsider bothered me. It seemed unfair. It seemed typical but just so wrong. Like the story Nathan tells about two men. One man had one sheep. One man had many sheep. But it was the man with the one sheep who was forced to sacrifice his sheep for the guest of the rich man. If people want a big church, a mega-church, then they should go to one. An established one. People should never try to transform other churches into something they're not. Try to 'build up' numbers and imitate the other guys. And nothing infuriates me more than 'outsiders' trying to come into a church and *transform* it into a vision of what they want. You can essentially describe these people as pushy and bossy and opinionated. I think of having these kinds of new people come into a church as the church getting cancer. But I've digressed. Back to Harri and Maddox. So I was a reluctant reader. I loved Harri, and I hated Maddox. But somehow or other I ended up liking this book. I still don't know where the turning point was. I still hate everything he stands for, but I like him just a little bit at least. And I think that is all that matters. I think most people won't have as strong a reaction against Maddox as I did. I think most will probably be charmed from the very beginning.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Redemption

Tyndall, M.L. 2006. The Redemption.

For those readers seeking adventures with pirates in the Caribbean, then The Redemption by M.L. Tyndall is a nice, safe choice. A Christian romance. You'll find adventure but no smut. It is set in the seventeenth century, 1660s to be exact, and our hero--a dashing reformed pirate--and our heroine an English lady in search of a father she never knew....are about to meet and be thrown into a love-to-hate relationship. Charlisse Bristol. Edmund Merrick.

The more she pondered her situation, the more fear squeezed her heart. She was alone on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Caribbean, with no reasonable chance of rescue. Charlisse Bristol, daughter of Lady Helena Bristol, granddaughter of Lord and Lady William Rochester of Hampstead, raised in the luxury of London nobility, yet for all her noble blood and courtly training, she had no idea how to survive on her own. Still, she felt no regret for leaving, and therefore resigned herself to accept whatever consequences fate had in store for her.

Personally, I had a hard time believing that any of these characters could have ever existed. The adventures took them all over the place, and there was plenty of suspense and excitement, but to me it felt just silly. A bit too melodramatic. A bit too over-the-top. It is what it is. If you're looking for a light-hearted, fun, silly read...then this certainly qualifies. I'm not saying it's an unsatisfying read. It isn't. It just isn't "serious." I never took the characters seriously as people. I never took the 'danger' or 'adventure' as real. But there's nothing wrong with a silly but satisfying read. So I'm NOT slamming the book. I'm not. It was fun.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

CFBA: Deadfall

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

He is currently working on his fourth novel.


Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.

Armes with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon.

With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friend elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.

An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller.

Get Downloads and EXCERPTS at

"DEADFALL is drop-dead great!"
-In The Library Reviews

"What if Mad Max, Rambo, and the Wild Bunch showed up-all packing Star Wars type weapons? You'd have Robert Liparulo's thrilling new adventure Deadfall."
-Katherine Neville, best selling author of The Eight
"A brilliantly crafted thriller with flawless execution. I loved it!"
-Michael Palmer, best selling author of The Fifth Vial

"In Deadfall, Robert Liparulo gives us a fresh fast paced novel that instills a well founded fear of the villians and an admiration for the people who refuse to be victims. It truly deserves the name thriller.
-Thomas Perry, best selling author of The Butcher's Boy and Silence

"Another brilliantly conceived premise from Robert Liparulo. Deadfall will leave you looking over your shoulder and begging for more."
-DAve Dun, best selling author of The Black Silent

A NOTE from Bob: I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All they have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (they won’t be inundated!) by going to my website ( and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.

And a second NOTE from Bob: I wanted to let you know that I’m holding a contest on my site:

**one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall
**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall
***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall

Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.


Monday, November 05, 2007

The Road Home

Tenney, Tommy & Mark Andrew Olsen. 2007. The Road Home. Bethany House.

This book is a 'modern retelling of Ruth's ancient story.' And while I had a few reservations about it before I began reading it, I must say that overall I really enjoyed this one. The names are the same--Ruth, Naomi, Orpah, Boaz in this retelling. Ruth and Orpah are from Las Vegas. Ruth is the daughter of migrant farm workers. She spent a good many years in foster care after being sexually abused in her own home. In her adulthood, she worked as a cocktail waitress. Orpah, well, she's an exotic dancer. First of all, this is a story within a story. The opening lets us see Ruth as an old woman looking back on her life--all the people and places she's known. She's passing down her legacy in a way through telling this story. But this narrative really just opens and closes the novel. The majority of the book is set in modern-day America. The book really begins when Ruth and Orpah lose their husbands in quick succession. The three women are devastated, and a new plan is formed. Naomi wants to go back home to her Mennonite community. Ruth wants to go with her. You know how the story goes. Ruth and Naomi set out on a wild road trip. They barely have enough money, and their car...well, it's beyond old. It would take a miracle for the two to arrive safely. Along the journey, Ruth and Naomi share some good times--good talks--about life, about death, about heartaches and disappointments. Can the two women find a way to start over?


Friday, November 02, 2007

Angels of a Lower Flight

Angels of A Lower Flight by Susie Scott Krabacher is such a great book. It's not my typical kind of book. I don't read much nonfiction. Let alone nonfiction geared towards adults. But this one is a wow book, and I am so so glad that I accepted this book for review! It is an amazing story of a woman who has had highs and lows, successes and failures, joys and heartaches. It's a redeeming story. A story that challenges everything that is so common, so ordinary about American life. Susie Krabacher is a former Playboy Playmate who has dedicated over a decade to Haiti--especially Haitian children. Going places where most would never dare to go, seeing, smelling, hearing all sorts of horrors. And all in the name of love and peace. It is a great story.