Fab Four Book Picks

Book reviews by the Fab Four and our Fab Friends

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

I don’t get the whole dog show thing. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. I being the GREAT friend that I am went to a dog show this afternoon. Which is why I’m late in posting this, yeah that’s the ticket! Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with procrastination. (No comments from the peanut gallery.)

You walk around back where all the handlers are grooming their dogs and it’s insane. I’m sorry, when a dog has more grooming products than you do on your bathroom counter at home, that’s just wrong. Blow-drying, teasing, hair spraying… looks like any Saturday night at Sue Ellen’s house, before she goes out to the local honky-tonk.

Pet psychics. Do I even need to go into my normal sarcasm here? Surely, you can come up with your own. Okay, okay… your dog DOESN’T even have to be present to get an accurate reading. Hmmm… I’m thinking she’s not reading the DOG but the idiot owner that paid her big bucks. How big of bucks? She makes more in an hour than I do in seven. Hmmm change of profession maybe? “Your dog…um, well I’m sorry to inform you of this sir, but your dog hates it when you talk to him like a baby. That’s the real reason he chewed up all your slippers.”

Doggy massages. Okay… I can’t even afford to pay $40 for ME to get a massage, much less that same price for my dog! (Okay, so I don’t have a dog. Whatever. Work with me here.) Can’t you see it? “Woof, woof, yeah, that’s it, right there, pant, pant. Aw, no! Not behind the ear, not behind the ear! Geez, like I hadn’t worked my legs out enough, hit that magic spot and off my leg goes. And right in front of the cute French poodle, too! Woof. Woof.”

We won’t even go into the whole, dog slobber—floating dog hair—dog smell—Heather has major ick factor thing.

See? I’m such a good friend…

Monday, July 24, 2006

COW CRIMES AND THE MUSTANG MENACE by Sharon Dunn

COW CRIMES AND THE MUSTANG MENACE by Sharon Dunn
The Ruby Taylor Mystery Series, book 3

From the back cover:

Investigating a series of bizarre ranch thefts, dealing with the expectations of a Betty Crocker mom, and entering a recipe in the Potato Festival cookoff, have Ruby Taylor in over her flaming red head. When an outsider turns up dead, it’ll take more than a steaming mocha espresso—and her unpredictable yet intriguing Wesley—to save Ruby from the danger.

Camy here:

Once again, Ruby Taylor saves the day with her unique brand of strength and sass, flavored with the bittersweet of her inner fears and insecurities. It all makes for a very likable, sympathetic character.

I thought that this book sparkled with more humor than the other two. Ruby’s sarcasm knows no bounds, and some scenes border on slapstick.

In contrast, this book also seemed to delve deeper into the intricacies of a relationship between a godly man and woman. Ruby faces her preconceived notions and the struggle to be authentic and vulnerable rather than hide behind her usual self-sufficiency.

The ending is satisfying without being cheesy. The book entirely lived up to my expectations of an entertaining, engrossing read.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

I have come to a conclusion today. One that most writers already know. This being my first one, I was aware of how everyone felt but now know the pain for myself. I’m speaking of the dreaded… dare I say the word? Syn.. No, don’t make me. Just the thought of it strikes fear into my very soul.

Most writers I know hate them. Except of course for Camy Tang who has a critiquing service just for saps like us who scream in agony when having to write one. And trust me, once I finish this, she WILL be getting it in her inbox. She’s a freak, she actually enjoys the things.

Editors, do they really read them? Sure some of them probably do, but you know some of them are like us and hate them. They probably throw them away as soon as they get them, laughing that they have tortured yet again another writer. They figure it is payback for having to put up with us creative types.

So I say it loud and I say it proud... I hate s-s- deep breath -s-syn- ugh... Let’s try this again. S-s-syn-op-op-sis.

What say you?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

When the Heart Cries


by Cindy Woodsmall

Book One, Sisters of the Quilt

When Hannah dares to love across the boundaries of tradition, will she lose everything?
Despite being raised in a traditional Old Order Amish family, seventeen-year-old Hannah Lapp desires to break with custom and marry outside the cloistered community. She's been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for three years, and before returning to college for his senior year, Paul asks Hannah to be his wife. Hannah accepts, aware that her choice will change her relationship with her family forever.
On the evening of their engagement, tragedy strikes, and in one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed. As she finds herself entangled in questions that the Old Ways of her people cannot answer, Hannah faces the possibility of losing her place in her family, in her community--and in the heart of the man she loves.

Pammer here: Wow! This book is awesome. Cindy does a wonderful job. Her sweet and gentle heart show in her writing. You couldn't help root for Hannah and Paul in all that happened. Some of the people you just want to shake. Your emotions are grabbed as soon as you begin the story. Cindy has a way with words and you find yourself "with" these real characters in their setting, feeling with them. I learned interesting facts about the Amish and Mennonites too, which I find fascinating.
My words simply can't do justice to this book. It goes on sale in September. Get it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

CONSIDER LILY by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt


Today, my (Camy's) lovely friend Georgiana is giving her review of CONSIDER LILY by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

Back cover:

Lily Traywick thinks she must have been adopted. It’s easier than believing she’s actually related to Joan and Roland Traywick, her power-couple parents, who own Traywick’s of San Francisco, the most chichi department store on the West Coast. While her parents party with Miuccia in Milan and Gabbana in Paris ,Lily hangs out at home in ratty jeans and an old T-shirt. She loves softball, guys, and Jesus, and she’s eager to make her own way in the world. Feeling that her life is on hold, she turns to her best friend, Reagan Axness. Reagan, a fashionista who has it all, offers just the solution: a major life makeover.

Lily is soon dressing in the latest must-have fashions and pursuing a writing career. She’s even dating the “perfect” guy. But does he love her for who she really is? And will he be able to resist the tempting seductress who has her eye on him? As Lily’s old friends question her new way of life, and public scandal, family drama, and technological disasters add to her confusion, she is forced to consider whether her quest to have it all will cause her to lose everything that matters.

Hot off their debut success, Emily Ever After, “good-girl” chick-lit trailblazers Dayton and Vanderbilt return with a witty, refreshingly real story of a young woman’s adventures in the high-powered world of San Francisco haute couture.

Georgiana:

Do you see the bags under my eyes? It’s because I couldn’t put this book down for something as mundane as sleep. If only I could tell you how many times I had to clap my hand over my mouth to muffle the laughter late at night.

I love the way the authors explore the theme of transformation and all that it entails. Following a character from tomboy to head-turner is a refreshing break from the stereotypical chick-lit character, and made Lily identifiable as “the girl next door,” despite her wealth. I was sucked into Lily’s world from the first page, rooting for her to get that first date, cheering for her to snag the surfer dude, and agonizing with her when said surfer dude wasn’t playing nice.

From Lily’s quirky grandmother to Lily’s nudist roommate, the flawed characters are believable. The fact that not everyone in Lily’s world is a Christian, including those closest to her, adds a layer of realism often missing in Christian fiction today. Even her Christian friends face real-life problems without easy solutions. I wasn’t crazy about the numerous references to drinking, but hey, that’s realistic too.

The writing is fun and snappy, and the use of present tense in this book is outstanding. Lily’s blog entries are especially enjoyable as she chronicles her new life, and I loved being privy to her thoughts, which so often matched my own.

If you like to laugh, get this book and move it to the top of your TBR pile. Before you start reading, close the shades and set out the TV dinners, because you’re not going to want any interruptions.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Post

Wifi-junky—that would be me. Went to the coast like I talked about in my previous Saturday post with plans of going to a coffee shop and getting online. How hard could that be, right?

I knew from a previous trip there that the Starbucks there didn’t have a hotspot. (What’s up with that? I thought they all had them!) LOL But there’s this little coffee shop that’s a little ways from the Star. that has free wireless... The last trip down there I discovered there wasn’t a hotspot at my favorite coffee place, so I went driving around the town with my laptop on searching for a signal. And bingo! Right outside this other coffee shop—I picked up a great signal! So I sat in the parking lot and did the stuff I needed to do.

But this most recent trip I had it all planned. I’ve got this new job that requires me to be online for some portion of each day. So I thought I was brilliant when I determined I’ll just go to this little place for a couple hours each day. No problem, right?

Pull into the parking lot and think, “hmmm sure is empty.” In fact, there are NO cars in the lot, at all. Major Ruh-Ro moment. Apparently, the week before I got there, they had 8 inches of rain in a two-hour period. The whole place flooded. Closed. No coffee. No sandwiches. (I had high hopes of trying out some of their rockin’ sandwiches.) But most importantly, NO WIRELESS!!!

I was stuck checking email on my cell phone. Have you ever checked your email on your cell phone? It’s like 10 words then you have to go to the next page… and getting to the next page is like you’re on dial-up! *shudder* Which of course this does not help me with the fact that I had a job to do. So I did something really novel on my vacation...

I RELAXED!! Go figure! Well I should say, I relaxed after I hyperventilated at not having internet. Sigh. Once I got over that trauma, I enjoyed myself. I read a really good book (yes, I know I said I didn’t have any good books but I found one!! YAY! Thank God for Susie Warren!) and I read part of a really bad book. (See, told you I had bad books to read! So not naming the name. LOL)

I apparently washed and/or found clean clothes because I didn’t wear one piece of dirty laundry on the trip. Yay! Yeah okay, so I went shopping while I was there and bought a little something to wear to the beach...

Oh my and the food!!! We’re not even going there because well... y’all will just hate me! Man I so need to go on a diet now. Sigh.

So, tanned, relaxed and a wifi junky... that’s me! How was y’alls week?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Winner of The Redmption


Hi,

Those posts were both good so I ended up drawing a name.

Jennifer, you are the winner of the book.

Send your info to me (snail mail) at Pamela@pamela-james.com and that will be winging it's way to you. (By the by, if ye wins the tickets, let me knows about it, will ye?)

Have a wonderful evening. Reviewing for me, will be back to it's normal schedule next week.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

Why is it when you’re going on a trip EVERYTHING you want to pack is dirty despite the fact that you’ve done laundry four times this week AND you haven’t gone anywhere? I’m going to the coast tomorrow. I’ve even changed my mind a couple times at what I would pack only to discover that was dirty too. I’m tempted to just go shopping and buy new clothes. :-p Then reality hits and I remember a.) I’m broke and b.) I need to lose weight before I buy any clothes. Sigh.

So is this a case of a watched pot never boils? Law of averages and all that junk?

For months, I’ve been behind on my reading of books. Had huge stacks of books I needed to read for this and that. Now that I’m going to the coast, I want to take a stack of really good books to read, because I plan on doing a lot of sleeping and reading. But guess what? Somehow, I don’t have that big stack anymore! I don’t remember reading all those books but they’re gone. So now I’m scrambling around trying to find a few good books to read. I thought about buying some but again a.) I’m broke and b.) Most of the stuff that’s out that I would want to read is either being sent to me by the author/publisher or I already read it. Sigh.

Been eating terrible for months now. Drinking soda too. (you can always tell when I’ve been drinking soda.) Finally, just this week I’ve gotten myself under control, quit sodas, and started eating better. But here’s the problem, to me there is just something about sitting on a front porch on the coast, hearing the waves, feeling the breeze and drinking a ice-cold Dr Pepper. Think of an alcoholic except substitute Dr. Pepper and that’s me. And we ALWAYS eat well when we’re on the coast… Sigh.

So, either I stay home (Ha! Yeah right!) or I go with dirty clothes, so-so books and break my eating better habit… I think I shall go! See you suckers next week… I’ll be the one with a tan! Sigh and the one that isn’t losing weight, has read boring books and had to wash clothes anyway.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Redemption

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE BOOK, READ BELOW.
by M. L. Tyndall

Book One in the series: Legacy of the King's Pirates

Lady Charlisse Bristol sets off on a voyage in search of a father she never knew, only to find herself shipwrecked on a deserted island. After weeks of combating the elements, her salvation comes in the form of a band of pirates and their fiercely handsome leader, Edmund Merrick. will Charlisse free herself from the seductive lure of this pirate captain and find the father's love she so ardently craves?

While battling his attraction to this winsome lady and learning to walk a more godly path, Edmund offers to help Charlisse on her quest--until he discovers her father is none other than Edward the Terror, the cruelist pirate on the Caribbean. Can Edmund win this lady's love while shielding her from his lecherous crew and working to bring her father to justice?

Can the supernatural power of God rescue Charlisse and Edmund from the danger and treachery that await them as they ride upon the tumultous waves of the Caribbean?

Pammer here: This is an awesome book. I loved it. In fact I couldn't put it down. Every time I got a free minute, I stuck my nose back in the book. The Redemption indeed has it all: swashbuckling adventure, romance on the high seas, and a boatload of faith.

Q & A:


1.) Tell us a bit about the story.

My story begins with a horrific storm at sea in which Lady Charlisse Bristol becomes shipwrecked on an island. She has run away from an abusive uncle in London and sailed to the Caribbean in search of a father she has never known. After weeks of combating the elements, her salvation comes in the form of a band of pirates and their fiercely handsome leader, Edmund Merrick.

Captain Merrick has only recently given his life to God and turned his back on a life of piracy to become a privateer. While battling his attraction to this winsome lady and learning to walk a more godly path, he offers to help Charlisse on her quest-until he discovers her father is none other than Edward the Terror, the cruellest pirate on the Caribbean. Edmund must find a way to win this lady's love while shielding her from his lecherous crew and working to bring her father to justice.

2.) What sparked the idea to write about pirates?

I've always had an obsession for pirates-those swashbuckling heroes who roamed the wild Caribbean seas in their tall ships. The Golden Age of Piracy was such an adventurous and romantic time in our history, and having grown up in that part of the world-south Florida-it grabbed my interest at an early age. What sparked the idea for the novel, however, was the Disney movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. After I saw it several times with my daughter, I had a desire to write about pirates that wouldn't go away. Why do the evil pirates get to have all the fun? Why not write about a Christian pirate?

3.) As you researched this subject, what most surprised you?

The biggest surprise for me was discovering that not all pirates were vicious thieves and murderers. Many, in fact, were commissioned by their countries during times of war to disturb merchant shipping lines and fleet movements, and in general to play havoc with their enemies. In fact, one of the most notorious pirate captains, Henry Morgan, commanded his own fleet of pirate ships, called the Brethren of the Coast, whose sole purpose was to raid Spanish ships and towns in the Caribbean. He was eventually knighted by King Charles II of England and became the governor of Jamaica. These facts aided my story a great deal as many of these pirates, who turned privateers, had strong religious convictions.

4.) How long did it take to write your first novel?

I began writing The Redemption in the Fall of 2003, but it was slow going at first. I was working full time as a software engineer, not to mention my responsibilities at home as wife and mother. I'm sure many of you can relate. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day! Consequently, I did not complete the novel until early Spring 2005, yet I still didn't feel it was ready. I hadn't written in a while and needed some counsel, so I hired two editors to go through my manuscript, and I entered four contests for the feedback. I made the final cut in two of those contests and felt encouraged, but I must admit, I learned a great deal more from my editors. By the end of Spring 2005, I had polished the manuscript the best I could and went looking for an agent. God's timing is always perfect. I was laid off from my job of fifteen years the same month my agent took me on as a client and began submitting The Redemption. By September of that same year, I had a contract in hand from Barbour for the entire three book series!

5.) How long must we wait for the sequel?

Not long! The second book in the series, The Reliance, will be released in January 2007, and the third book, The Restitution, will be out in stores, June, 2007. As you can tell, I've been very busy!

NOW FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THE REDEMPTION:

Just make your best pirates face and snap a picture with your digital camera, or cameraphone and send it to me at Pamela@pamela-james.com.

I will pick the best 'pirate's' expression and they will win a free copy of The Redemption. One lucky winner will receive extra treasure-a pair of movie tickets to go see Dead Man's Chest.

IT SEEMS SOME OF YOU ARE A LITTLE SHY, SO HERE ARE FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS. If you just don't want to send a picture or you just can't, then post below a pirate-y saying. Make it good.

Please put Contest in the subject. You have until next Wednesday, July 12, 2006. I will pick a winner then.

There is a link to read the first chapter. http://www.mltyndall.com

Good luck, mateys!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Everything's Coming Up Josey


by Susan May Warren

"I need you," the tall, good-looking missionary had said. . .but he'd been speaking to Josey's entire church at the time. Had she taken him too literally? Because she was no longer in Gull Lake, Minnesota. She was a missionary. In Russia. For a year.

True, Josey had wanted to skip town when her sister married her ex and her secret crush/best friend got engaged. But Russia? Yet after a few weeks the idea grew on her. She could speak enough words to buy fruit at the Moscow market, and the missionary role was feeling. . .right (although her bagel-thieving roommate tested her daily). Even the frosty Russian weather was no big deal for this Minnesota girl--it was getting her love life to thaw that was the real challenge!

Pammer here:

I loved, loved, loved this book. It was hilarious, but touching at the same time. I laughed outloud at the messes Josey could land herself in, but at the same time....strangely humbled, because she often leapt before praying, and thinking, just like me. She's so real, so forthright and confident that she is right (ahem, also like me) it's really kewl to see the way that God deals with her so gently and yet so. . .right on the head. But Josey also has a heart and she learns to align that heart with God's will.

Oh, and Chase? Whew! What a hunk.

Get. This. Book.


Extra note of apology:

It seems that more than one of us here is a day behind. I apologize for being late with this review. Yesterday I KNEW it was Wednesday, but didn't KNOW. . .

Arrrrrr, me hearties. . .

I beg your pardon.

Don't know why ye be askin' me pardon, but ye have it.

I was having a perfectly civil coversation and you just interupted.

They be wantin' to hear what I 'ave to say.

That's not the point. You didn't wait your turn.

scuffle ensues. . .muted muffles and snickers

Ladies and gents, I jes wanted a minute of yer time. Be sure an' come back tomorrow, and bring a likeness of yer mug, yer best pirate face. Now ye must be awonderin' why. Come back and see. Har!

Monday, July 03, 2006

RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE by Laura Jensen Walker


RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE by Laura Jensen Walker

From the back cover:

"You think you're self-conscious about YOUR lack of cleavage?!"

You wouldn't think the words "breast cancer" and "hilarity" belonged in the same book, much less the same sentence, but chick lit author and breast cancer survivor Laura Jensen Walker knows how to address painful topics with a wink and a smile.

Reconstructing Natalie is the story of a woman whose breast cancer is the catalyst for some serious changes—not the least of which is her cup size! Holding tight to her old friends while reaching out to new ones, Natalie must redefine herself and her faith on new terms.

Excerpt of chapter one on Amazon.

Camy here:

It is not a good idea to read this book while suffering allergies, because hooting and snorting in laughter through a runny nose is quite difficult. Then crying tears only adds to the fluids leaking out of my face. But I can honestly say it was entirely worth it.

This is a powerful book. I totally understand why this was chosen as the Women of Faith Novel of the Year. The humor lifts it above the pain and suffering of cancer patients to the hope of survival, the joy of living, and the victory of a new life.

This book has given me insight into breast cancer patients that I’ve never experienced in just a non-fiction book. I was deep in Natalie’s head, fighting with her to not be overwhelmed by depression and bitterness. Her smart mouth and quirky outlook on life is sharp and brilliant, while her moments of sadness are poignant and strong. The small moments of human drama spoke volumes about the kinds of things she faced.

Natalie’s friends and family are supportive without being cheesy or goody-goody. It’s not just about Natalie and her cancer—it’s also about how it affects the people around her, both the ones close to her and her acquaintances.

At times, Natalie’s banter with her girlfriends get a little corny, but their unflagging encouragement shows how much Natalie needs them in order to get through her ordeal. As a reader, I’m given a glimpse into both stalwart friends and also unsupportive friends, and the effect on a struggling patient.

The subplots involving Natalie’s fellow support group friends are vibrant and touching. They truly complete Natalie’s story, by adding social nuances and different threads of emotions. The storylines are all tied up at the end, but rather than seeming cheesy or over-the-top, it’s immensely satisfying because as a reader, I’ve suffered with each of these women through the course of the book, and darn it, they deserve their happy endings!

The most powerful scene is the gallery show, and the artwork pieces on display. It runs the gamut of feelings in both a patient and the people around her, from pain to victory.

The energetic humor makes this novel so rich and bright. It focuses on the gift of life, the joy of God’s Spirit, His shining love. It doesn’t paint a rose-colored world—pain and betrayal is there in all its ugliness—but it shows people rising above with the strength of Christ, the brilliance of His love.

I don’t know if a teen would catch all the emotional nuances, but it’s an eye-opening look into a cancer patient. Young and older women alike, from all walks of life, will be truly blessed by this book. Great job, Laura!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Sat...uh, Sunday

Okay, apparently, today is Sunday. Um, kinda forgot yesterday’s post didn’t I? Been a little sidetracked this week. I’m getting really close to finishing up the needed word count of my book. (So I can submit it! YAY!) Got a new job… it fell into my lap. Really it did. Wasn’t expecting it. So somewhere in all of that, I forgot what day it was. In fact I didn’t even go to church today... apparently, It’s Sunday.

You know... you stick your head all the way into the story you’re working on and days pass you by without notice. It’s the weirdest thing. I know people that forget to pay their bills on time because they are so involved with writing their books. (Ha I know other people that forget to pay their bills… but that’s just because they are ditzy they don’t have the excuse we writers do. LOL!)

Others I know forget to feed their children. I don’t know about you… but I’m thinking the kid in the back ground kicking, screaming and crying “Mooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, I’m huuuuuungry!!!!!!” Should be that writer’s first clue. LOL!

Then of course, when they finally notice the emaciated kid is hungry they get up all grumbly, to get them something to eat, muttering the whole way “I don’t know why you kids can’t learn to feed yourselves!” Only to find that the bread is molded, the milk is curdled and there isn’t any other food in the house…because they forgot AGAIN to go grocery shopping.

They walk outside (after they had to struggle their kids into the nearest thing to clean clothes she could find them… because she hasn’t done the laundry in a month.) and crunch across the lawn to the minivan. Wait. What? Crunch across the lawn? Oh, that’s right. Ted her husband keeps telling her, “Betty Jean, You HAVE to water the lawn every day. This heat this summer just kills it otherwise.” Sigh. Yet another thing she forgot while she was writing elaborate ways to kill off her villain.

I could go on but I think you get the idea… Oh! Wait. One more. Ted comes home and asks Betty Jean, “Honey? Where is Becky Jo?” Betty Jean’s eyes grow round, her hand finds its way to her opened mouth and her eyes fly to the clock. “I was supposed to pick her up three hours ago from Susie Q’s!” Her husband rolls his eyes. “I know, I know, Ted! But listen, you won’t believe what my Hero did today!" .....

So be honest... what have you forgotten while your mind is wrapped up in your story??