Book Reviews , , ,

Author Spotlight: Remi Roy

Hey guys,
I would like to introduce you all to a new author friend of mine, Remi Roy. She’s a fantastic new Christian author with two books out already. I have read the first one, Ms. Unlikey, which is a sweet romance about a girl trying to work out what she wants to do in life and falling in love. I’m currently reading the second one, From the Sidelines, which is Biblical fiction from the point of view of Bible characters who don’t usually get much attention. Both are great books. Remi is definitely one to watch, and she’s on my list of authors I read when I’m between book projects of my own.

Without further ado, here’s Remi…

Ms Unlikely by Remi RoyMe: Thanks, Remi, for stopping by. It’s great to have you on my blog. First, I’d like to ask a personal question. What are your hobbies?

Remi: Hmm, let’s see… I like to read. I like watching movies that make me laugh and relax. I like browsing through books shelves and store aisles (I think I prefer the latter. It’s therapeutic. Haha). I like solving jigsaw puzzles. And, most recently, I like looking for new ways to cook and eat healthy.

Me: Yeah, I like funny movies too. I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch something that scares them or makes them cry–unless it’s sweet romance that pulls at the heartstrings 🙂 Moving on, any interesting facts about yourself?
Remi: A few, I guess. I didn’t walk until I was three-years-old. [Don’t ask why.] I’m a night owl. I can read a single book or watch one great movie a gazillion times and never get bored. I can have fried plantains for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all day every day. I hold back now though. Trying to eat healthy.

Me: Plaintains, mmm. I prefer them boiled or grilled though. Tell us about your family.

Remi: I’m the last of four children and my siblings were the first best friends I ever had. We grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, a simple, fun, God-loving family.

Me: How did your interest in writing begin and what inspired you to write your first book?

Remi:  I got interested in writing mostly because I grew up reading a lot. I started actively writing sometime in 2008 even though I’d been scribbling stuff long before then.

My first book was inspired by personal struggles with defining my life and career. It was something I came to realize that other young women like me had: this uncertainty about the future, the desire for success and finding fulfillment in life. The story came from that struggle.

FTS COVERMe: I think that’s a struggle most people experience. I certainly experienced it. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your books?

Remi: My first book was primarily written for a young, female demographic. However I believe anyone who picks up my books will be entertained and ultimately have something helpful to take away from them.

Me: What books have influenced your life most? 

Remi: So very many. Children’s books by Charles Dickens. African Fiction by Chinua Achebe and Elechi Amadi. Christian Fiction by Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers. Romance Series by Heart Song Presents. And most recently books by fellow female authors working hard to make a difference with their gifts.

Me: As a writer I’m always interested in the writing process of other writers. Do you outline your books before writing them, or make things up as you go? How long does it take you? How many drafts do you do?

Remi: My writing process is an amoebic thing. It takes different forms and shapes but the goal and end result is the same. I didn’t outline my first book. I just wrote. I’m more of a ‘pantser’ and the ideas just flow when I put my hands to the keyboard.

However, I have come to learn the benefits of outlining. It gives you a bird’s eye view, if you will, of the world you’re creating and makes it easier to see the trouble spots. I also think your work might require less rewriting and changes when you start with an outline. So needless to say I now combine both methods and I find it works great for me.

My first book took me about seven months. And I still say it felt like an out of body experience. My second book was a collection of short stories I had written for a period of time.

As for drafts, after I hit publish I always have to rid my computer of several drafts just so I don’t mistake them for the final one.

Me: Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing? 

Remi: Yeah, it’s that thing called writing. Lol. Being descriptive in my scenes is a challenge but I find it gets better the more I write and tweak and work on my output. And really finding the time to write amidst all of life’s demands. But we do what we must, don’t we?

Me: We certainly do. Name one person that you feel supported you with regards to your writing. 

Remi: My Husband! 🙂

Me: What book are you currently working on?

Remi: I have two works-in-progress, the second volume of my Historical Flash Fiction series and a story that’s making me both smile with joy and pull out my hair in frustration.

Me: Ah, I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds writing to be an emotional roller coaster. I would like to end with a few quick-fire questions. Ready?

Remi: Sure!

Silver or gold? Silver
Casual or formal? Casual every day!
Summer or Winter? Fall. Sorry 🙂
Chocolates or flowers? Neither.
Books or movies? No…Do I have to choose?
Reading or writing? I will not choose! Haha
Pen or Pencil? Haven’t used a pencil in ages.
Tea or Coffee? Smoothie.
Early bird or Night Owl? Night Owl
Ice-cream or yoghurt? Smoothie? 🙂

Me: Thanks Remi, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Remi: Thanks for having me.

Remi RoyAbout Remi Roy

Remi Roy was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. Her love of books and reading blossomed into a desire to tell stories. In 2013 she moved to the United States for a Master’s Program in Emerging Media and Communication.

Her books Ms. Unlikely and From the Sidelines are available on Amazon. Remi lives in the United States with her husband.

Check her out on Amazon!

Book Reviews , ,

Author Spotlight – Ava Bleu

Hi guys,

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. Things have been so busy, but I will update you properly in a subsequent post in a few days. In the meantime, I have an awesome author to present to you. To date, my author spotlight feature has been an interview with the author, but this time, the author will be guest posting. She is truly inspirational, and her blog is a must-read. For those of you who read my blog all the way from Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, I think you’ll like her upcoming book 🙂
Ladies and Gents, without further ado, I present to you…Ava Bleu.

 

Why I Like Edgy Inspirational Romance – Ava Bleu

diva of peddler's creekSome time ago I was exploring my own faith and wondering how far on the spectrum I would travel. I am plenty flawed but imagined that someday I would become so wise and strong in my faith I would barely resemble the person I am today.

But then I asked myself, do I really dislike the person I am today? If a part of me cringes every time I think of becoming more immersed in faith, does that mean I’m going to hell or does it just mean the authentic me doesn’t want to be a hypocrite?

So the question became, do I want to travel further on the spectrum to become more Godly or am I just Godly enough for me?

I happen to pray quite a bit (yes, God knows all about me, thank you very much). I ask lots of questions and analyze a whole lot of things. I explain a lot (yes, I know it’s kind of pointless to explain yourself to God) and I ask forgiveness a lot. And when all is said and done, the more I think about changing me the less I want to. Yes, I will always try to be a better person, and I will pray for grace. But I will still be myself.

When people meet me they automatically assume I’m a church girl (I have a deceptively sweet face), but I didn’t grow up in the church. I learned my faith mostly through hard knocks and hard times. I don’t like to represent myself as something I’m not. Truth is, I am skirting the edge of faith: I am hopeful and aspirational, but I also dip my toe in the wild side from time to time.  My characters are just the same.

There is something to be said for admitting what you are and what you are not. Because I know what it is to feel awkward, misunderstood, self-conscious and to want the world to love you, I create characters who feel the same. You may not like my heroines, but you will darn sure identify with them. And there’s no telling, maybe the introduction to faith by my flawed characters will spur someone else to explore more of their own.

I like where I am right now and whether it’s contemporary romance or edgy inspirational romance (with or without fantasy), I am telling the stories that make me smile and bring a little light into my flawed life. I sincerely hope in my own way I am bringing just a little faith to the faithless and doing it in my own unique way.

~~

Ava’s upcoming book is called Glorious Sunset and will be released August 26, 2014 (Urban Christian/Kensington. ISBN: 978-1601626707)

Summary…

glorious sunsetAfrican King Taka Olufemi has traveled over four hundred years to find the woman who holds the soul of his murdered queen and he’s a little cranky.  With a ruby brooch as his vessel, the former king is forced to grant wishes to ungrateful mortals hoping to one day find, and win, the heart of his lost love.

But it will take more than good looks, superior intelligence and an impressive pedigree to earn the love of Violet Jackson.  The ambitious interior designer doesn’t remember Taka or their history.  Love—with its inevitable heartbreak chaser—has no place in Violet’s immediate life plan.  All the handsome “genie” can do for her is pony up on the three wishes he’s promised and try not to be a pain while he’s at it.

While the arrogant king is praying for his submissive queen and the faithless object of his affection isn’t praying at all, guardian angel, Aniweto, is praying for them both.  With Ani’s help, Taka and Violet’s epic love will be rekindled and this royal couple-behaving-badly will finally earn their happily-ever-after through the grace of the Almighty.

Excerpt…

1600 A.D., Jaha, West Africa

The acrid smell of a burning village brought King Taka Olufemi awake, sputtering, coughing and wincing in pain as he did so.  Slowly memory returned and with it the horror.  He cracked his eyelids open, his eyes immediately burning with the pebbly smoke that floated in a low hanging cloud.  Pushing himself upright from where he lay causing sharp pain to streak through his torso and the agony brought his gaze down as he sucked in his breath and jerked his hands to the source.  Seeing the jagged, torn flesh of the wound in his side, the rest of his memory came and with the memory…

“Oh no … no, no, no….”

He forgot his pain.  He fought off the sway of the world as he stood, struggling to focus and see through eyes watering with smoke and something else he didn’t dare identify.  He didn’t need to see when he could smell.  He was a king and warrior; battle was in his bones and death always a close companion.  He smelled both here.

He looked around.  Men, women, children; the massacre was complete.  Beyond the hall huts and houses of his village were blackened ash.  The air still burned with the stench of fire.  He couldn’t understand this.  In all his life he’d never seen such brutality; never known such dishonor.  Still, he firmed his jaw and kept looking, turning in a wide circle until his feet staggered to a stop before his brain could even register.

His body knew how to find its heart…

You can pre-order Glorious Sunset at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author…

croppedpicava[1]Ava Bleu lives and loves in the Midwest, countering bitter winters with smooth jazz and tasty edibles. Ava Bleu is the author of the contemporary romantic comedy, The Diva of Peddler’s Creek, and Glorious Sunset, an edgy inspirational romance with a time-traveling king, an angel and a love for the ages.

Ava can be found in bookstores and the public library camped next to the cookbooks and/or on the town keeping an eye out for hero-material.  She can also be found at her website.

Website: http://www.avableu.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ava.bleu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AvaBleu1

Email: ava@avableu.com

 

Book Reviews , , , ,

Author Spotlight: Denise Hunter

ImageThe best book I have read this year is Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter. I loved it. Not many people know just how much I like Denise Hunter. I think she’s amazing. I have read most of her books and love most of them to pieces. So when I contacted Denise about interviewing her, I didn’t really expect her to agree to it, or even to respond to be honest. But she did. So here’s the interview.

Me: Thank you so much, Denise, for agreeing to this interview. First of all I’d like to ask a personal question, what are your hobbies?

Denise: Reading, playing drums, and traveling

Me: As a writer I am interested in your writing process. All of it. Do you outline your book before writing it, or make it up as you go? What time of the day do you write? Where do you write? Do you write in order from chapter 1 to end or do you write whatever scenes you feel like? How do you deal with writers‚ block? How many rewrites do you go through before you get to the final draft? Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing? 

Denise: Before I start a story, I have some idea of what it’s about and where it’s going, though it’s by no means a detailed synopsis. I write in the mornings during the first draft stage until I reach 6 quality pages, usually until noon or so. During the rewriting and editing stages I work a full day. I do write scenes in order–I don’t have the brain to write out of sequence! I don’t get writer’s block. The closest thing to it is not knowing what comes next in the story, and I often get stuck with that, but I work through it until I figure it out. That’s the most challenging thing about writing for me. I do 6 drafts of each novel.

Me: I loved the scene in Barefoot Summer where Beckett thought that Madison was being attacked. What part of Barefoot Summer was the most fun to write?

Denise: I love writing dialogue, and it comes easily to me, so any banter between characters is the most fun to write. With Barefoot Summer I enjoyed writing the banter between Madison and Cassidy and also, of course, between Madison and Beckett.

Me: If you were stuck in a dark cave with a character from your book (male or female) which would you want it to be?

Denise: Probably Beckett because he could figure out how to get us out of there!

Me: What can we expect from you in the future?

Denise: I’m currently working on the rest of the Chapel Springs novels.

Me: I would like to end with a few quick-fire questions:
Silver or gold?
Silver
Casual or formal? Casual
Summer or Winter? Summer
Chocolates or flowers? Depends if I’m on a diet. 🙂
Books or movies? Books!
Reading or writing? Oh, reading is more fun for sure. Writing is more rewarding. Plus it pays. 🙂
Pen or Pencil? Pen
Tea or Coffee? Tea
Early bird or Night Owl? Neither.
Ice-cream or yoghurt? Ice cream

ImageAbout Denise Hunter:

Denise Hunter is the best-selling author of many novels, including The Convenient Groom and Driftwood Lane. In 1996 Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she s been writing ever since. Her books contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! She lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons.

Check her out on Amazon!!

Book Reviews , , ,

Author Spotlight: Alison Stanley

ImageA few months ago I was looking around on Amazon and I found a book by a Christian author called Trust Me Twice. I liked the title and the cover so I read the description and decided that I liked that too. For some reason, I didn’t get around to reading it until earlier this month. It was such a cute story that I decided I wanted to interview the author. She’s Australian, so I dare you to read her answers out loud in an Australian accent. I just tried and didn’t do too good (I’m terrible at accents).

Me: Alison, thank you for agreeing to this interview. First of all, tell us about your family.

Alison: I have been married to Josh for 8 years (time flies!) and we have two delightful little girls who are 6 and 4 years old. We live in Sydney, Australia.

Me: Aww, I have two little girls too! How did you get started in writing?

Alison: My passion for writing has developed out of a love for reading. About two years ago, I’d run out of good books to read, so I thought “Hey, why don’t I try and write my own book; the kind of book I’d like to read.” This is where Second Chances started. It was just an experiment, but as I spent the next 12 weeks getting lost in the lives of my characters, I realised it was something I loved. Once I published my book, I then began to see my writing as a way I could reach out to others and encourage them to trust their lives to God.

ImageMe: What inspired you to write Trust Me Twice?

Image

Alison: After writing my first book, Second Chances, I wanted to base another story in the town of Oakley. Alana was a minor character in my first book (Hannah’s older sister) and I was curious to find out her story. She seemed kind of mysterious to me, and as I wrote, I got to see her story unfold. It was fun.

Me: What message do you want readers to grasp from Trust Me Twice?

Alison: As a Christian, I know that God has a plan for my life, but when things gets tough, it is easy to feel lost or like God doesn’t care. I have seen God at work through difficult circumstances in my own life, and I wanted to share that hope with others through my book.

Me: In Trust me Twice, I loved the part where Alana and Zac were passing each other notes under the door. As a writer I sometimes find it easier to express strong emotions in writing so I could relate with Alana being able to face Zac in writing rather than in verbal words. Would you describe yourself as the typical introverted writer or are you an exception to the stereotype?

Alison: I’m not a complete recluse, but I have to admit to being an introvert (I’m yet to find a writer who isn’t, although I’m sure they are out there). I loved the note-passing scene too. When I was writing it I could barely breathe, I was so caught up in the moment.

Me: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your books?

Alison: My book is aimed at teens and young adults, but a lot of my readers are in their thirties, forties and fifties. I think my book will appeal to anyone who is young at heart and enjoys a sweet, romantic love story with spiritual applications.

Me: What books have most influenced your life most? 

Alison: The Bible would be the book with the biggest influence on my life. I try and read it a few times a week, as it helps me keep life in perspective. When I’m not reading it, I notice that I get anxious or feel depressed because there are things in this world that get you down – just watch the evening news! It is such an encouragement to know that there is more to life, and that I can have hope in God’s promises for the future.

Me: I have to say I concur with that. What is your writing process? Do you outline your book before writing it, or make it up as you go?

Alison: I tend to have a rough skeleton of where the story is headed, but I like the freedom of sitting in front of my laptop and seeing where things go. The negative side of this is that I have whole chapters I have deleted from my story because I followed a particular idea and then reached a dead-end. They key thing in writing a book is having an idea that you are passionate enough about to see through to completion. I find it helpful to write a synopsis (book jacket blurb) to help me flesh out who the story is about, the major conflict, and the spiritual themes I want to bring out.

Me: What are your hobbies?

Alison: I work four days a week, so I enjoy hobbies that don’t require too much energy or brainpower in the evenings. After my daughters are in bed, I might curl up on the couch next to my hubby and watch The Mentalist or Castle, or read a book. I also enjoy playing piano and singing.

Me: Any interesting facts about yourself?

Alison: I have a few weird talents that are occasionally useful for freaking people out, like saying the alphabet backwards in less than 3 seconds and bending my thumbs backwards. It’s been a while since I did that though…

Me: That’s funny! What book are you currently working on? 

Alison: I’ve decided to take a break from the Oakley series and write a book that has been on my heart for a while. I got the idea from an experience I shared with my grandmother when she showed me some old letters she wrote to a young man who was overseas in WWII. There wasn’t any romance between them as my grandmother was a child at the time, but it got me thinking, what if she had been older…

Here is my synopsis:

When Ellie is forced to spend four weeks at her grandmother’s house over the mid-semester break, she thinks it will be torture. However, when she comes across a hidden box of old letters, she finds out things she never knew about her grandmother – and the mystery man who wrote those letters. As her grandmother shares her story, Ellie notices the parallels with her own love-life. When her faith is put to the test, will she listen to the wisdom of her grandmother and risk losing the guy she loves?

The difference with this book is that it is written from a first-person point of view, which is new for me, but I think it suits the book well and will appeal to my target audience.

Me: That sounds pretty intriguing. How can readers find out more about your books and upcoming projects?

Alison: If readers want to find out more about my writing, please stop by my website (http://alisonstanleychristianfiction.wordpress.com).

Me: Thanks very much for doing this interview, Alison.

Alison: Thanks so much for inviting me on your blog. It has been a pleasure.

My Review of Trust Me Twice

Alana and Zac were childhood friends but as they grew up Zac got all goodlooking and Alana was all awkward and slightly dorky. They grow apart, but meet again years later when they both go home to Oakley for Christmas, and by now Zac is a famous actor but Alana doesn’t know. I was so hoping they’d get together, but I guess you’ll just have to read the book to see what happens. I love cute love stories, and this one was just so cute. It only took a few hours to read. It’s set in Australia which is nice because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set there. Thanks Alison Stanley for this heartwarming read.

You can find Alison’s books at Amazon.

Book Reviews Pure Passion Series , , ,

Books Similar to Lust (Pure Passion Series)

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to give me feedback on my latest book, Lust (Pure Passion Series). To be honest I wasn’t sure how it was going to be received as it’s very different to anything I’ve written so far. I’m so glad you guys are liking it.

I’m hard at work on the next book in the Pure Passion Series. At the moment it’s called ‘Bondage’ but that might change. I can tell you that the main character, Savannah McPherson, is on the run from the organisation she works for. While in hiding, she runs into her first (and only) love, Rhys Cannon. I have already fallen in love with their story and I hope you will too.

I’ve been asked about books that are similar to Lust, so here are few books that I think you might like to read while you wait for your next ‘fix’ of the Pure Passion series (:-)):

Product DetailsThe Jewel Series by Hallee Bridgeman

So far, I’m only about halfway through the first book of the series, Sapphire Ice. It’s quite good and features a deeply troubled protagonist who was abused as a child and finds healing through love. The romance in this book is beautiful. It’s a Cinderella story (poor hard working girl meets rich guy) and Hallee proves that clean romance can still have passion. The other books in the series are Greater than Rubies, Emerald Fire, and Topaz Heat.

The Atonement ChildAtonement Child by Francine Rivers

I’m in no way comparable to the great Francine Rivers, she’s amazing, but this book is about the tough decision a young woman faces about whether or not to have an abortion after she was raped. To be honest, I never did finish this book because a friend gave me a summary of what happens and totally ruined it for me. I was happy though because I needed to stop reading and get back to writing.

Product DetailsLetting Go by Michelle Sutton

I recently reviewed this book on my blog. Click Here to read my review. Again, the main character has lived a troubled life and it’s great to follow her journey to healing.

 

 

The Retreat

The Retreat by Dijorn Moss

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. It was sooooo good. The four main characters are men, which is pretty different from the books I usually read. I had a lot of laugh out loud moments, especially about the super ‘holy’ character who just didn’t have a clue.

This book deals with purity, relationship issues, and being a man of God, but you won’t feel alienated reading it as a woman. In fact, it gives you some insight into how guys think. And while the retreat the men in this book go on is not a sexual healing retreat, like in my book, you’ll still get a few thoughts on purity, such as: ‘when the Scripture talks about putting on the whole armour of God, the first thing you are to put on is a belt to hold your pants up. Christian men should never be caught with their pants down. We have to cut off the door of infidelity and fornication.’ Ha ha, I think that is my favourite part of the whole book. I’d say give it a chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Book Reviews ,

Book Review: Letting Go by Michelle Sutton

I haven’t done a book review for a while so I thought it’s about time I got my act together. This week I finished reading Letting Go by Michelle Sutton. I’ve only just discovered Michelle’s books. I have my favourite authors and I usually just stick to them because I know I won’t be disappointed, but I’m so glad I gave Michelle a chance. She’s edgy and very real. She doesn’t tread soft at all. But she still manages not to be yucky or embarrassing, if you know what I mean. She covers sensitive issues with taste.

I haven’t reviewed a book on Amazon for a while, but immediately I finished reading ‘Letting Go’, I got onto Amazon because it just had to be reviewed. So I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and paste my Amazon review below:

I don’t even know where to begin. This story was so beautiful. Diane went through so much pain and heartbreak, it was horrible. I just couldn’t wait for things to start getting better for her.
Her relationship with Dave is sweet and real. The author didn’t gloss over anything but was so real about how a Christian couple can struggle to stay pure. I loved that because it ain’t always easy!!!

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I loved Diane’s road to healing. I loved Dave’s character and his insecurities. I loved Joleen, who wasn’t meant to be liked but I liked her anyway because I felt like Diane met her match a little with her. Anyway, at the beginning of the book I couldn’t wait for Diane and Dave to meet because I wanted to see how on earth Diane would go from where she was at to being able to have a healthy relationship. I wasn’t disappointed. It was so sweet.

I’m glad I have discovered this author because life isn’t always rainbows and kittens like a lot of Christian fiction portrays it. If you want realism and a story about how God brings healing and beauty out of brokenness then read this book.

Here’s the official book synopsis:

Sometimes for dreams to come true, you have to let go . . .

Outwardly Diane Simmons appears to have everything a woman could want. A successful attorney, she’s beautiful and talented, and yet she always seems to be attracted to the wrong men. Longing to be loved for who she is, not for what she looks like, she finally realizes the world’s view of love is totally unrealistic and distorted and gives up on romance. She wants to find a better way but has no clue where to look.

Dave Passel can never father a biological child. He loves his foster son deeply, but something goes terribly wrong before the adoption can be finalized. When the State tries to reunite the child with the birth mother he has never known and the new caseworker accuses Dave of sabotaging visits with her, he hires Diane to fight for him in court. He believes in God’s sovereignty, but bad experiences with his late wife make it hard for him to trust Diane as she advocates for his son. If only he didn’t struggle so much with letting go . . .

Final Words: If you’re going to read the book, give it a chance as Michelle builds it up for a few chapters first, setting the scene. David and Diane don’t meet for a while. But all the build up is necessary.

God bless xx

Book Reviews

Goodbye Kristin Billerbeck – Book Review

I just read some very sad news: Kristin Billerbeck, THE Christian chicklit author, is capping her pen!!! Or shutting down her laptop, if you prefer that expression. This is such a big deal to me because her books had a huge impact on me when I was 19 and was writing my first novel. I read ‘What a Girl Wants’ and it inspired me to write my own books. I cannot believe she is quitting writing! I mean, she is the queen of Christian Chicklit. Seriously. I am so gutted (sorry American readers if you’re not familiar with that word, it just means sad or upset).

At the moment, I work in Human Resources and I am doing a Masters on the side. My dissertation is due soon and it’s really getting on my nerves because I am sick of studying, writing exams, doing assignments, etc. I feel like I’ve been studying all my life. When will it end? I want to write. I love writing, it’s my passion, but I don’t really take myself very seriously as a writer yet. I’m like Lexi in Raw Deal at the moment. She’s a model, but not a proper model, although she wants to be. I hope to be a ‘proper writer’ one day i.e. write for a living.

Being a full time writer is my idea of heaven. Wake up, write, eat, write, listen to music and dance around the house a bit (for exercise you see), write, sleep, write, hang out with the husband and kids, write, go to church, write. You get the point. This is what Ms Billerbeck has been doing for YEARS. Why would she give it up? She says she wants an office job! Why??? It seems she is where I want to be and I am where she wants to be. I want to beg her not to do it. She can’t stop writing. What will the genre of Christian Chicklit do without her? There are others like her, but they’re not her. Ms Billerbeck is witty, and name-drops people in her books that I have no idea who they are. It makes me do research (God bless Google). I would never have heard about Hugh Jackman if not for ‘What a Girl Wants.’ (I know, I live on my own planet). So when Les Miserables came out recently I was like ‘oh yeah, Hugh Jackman, I know who that is,’ and no one knew that I knew him from a Christian book instead of from the movies.

Okay, dramatic reaction over. This news is very sobering for me because maybe life as a full-time author isn’t the bed of roses I imagine. I guess times are tough right now in every industry, and Ms Billerbeck says in her blog that she’s looking forward to a steady paycheck. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m doing this Masters. Maybe it’s better to just keep my job and keep writing on the side. So sad.

Well, to say farewell to Ms Billerbeck, I will now proceed to review the first series of hers that I read. I read the books a while ago so I don’t really remember everything about them, but I will just say a few words about each.

ImageWhat a Girl Wants

This book is funny. I had a few laugh out loud moments. I felt bad for the main character, Ashley, because she wanted Seth so badly and he is just like a brick wall. Okay, I know some guys can be clueless, but Seth is beyond clueless. And he is soo annoying. Who watches the Matrix all the time? I know it’s got special effects and all those things that guys think are ‘cool’ but c’mon. Yeah, keep watching the Matrix while everyone around you is getting married and moving on in life. Anyway, the other love interest is really nice, and looks like Hugh Jackman, and is a doctor, and all that. But not saved. I wasn’t sure which of the guys I preferred. I just wanted Ashley to be happy and she seemed to like Seth better so I was hoping Seth would switch off the Matrix long enough to notice her. (I could not stand to look at a Matrix DVD after reading this book. Seth’s instant messaging name is even matrixman…oh please!).

ImageShe’s Out of Control

This is the sequel to ‘What a Girl Wants.’ I liked this book but I got really frustrated with Seth. I wanted to shake him. It was in this book that I realised that Seth is actually supposed to be cute. Eww. Let us know when you finish watching the Matrix, Seth. Oh, actually he does stop watching the Matrix long enough to do something really annoying. I couldn’t believe he did it. Before doing this thing I thought he was just clueless. After he did this thing I just wanted him out of the book. As in, I am not wasting any eye energy reading about this man. If I see his name on the page I am just going to skip over it. He’s so mean. Although, I suppose he can’t help who he loves. I mean, if that’s God’s will for him, good for him.

ImageWith this Ring I’m Confused

So, our Ashley is finally engaged, but to which man? Seth ‘matrixman’ Greenwood, or the doctor whose name I forget right now? Ashley is planning her wedding, and her in-laws to be are really awful to her. In books 1 and 2 of this series Ashley is a strong woman, but in this book she’s this weak person that I didn’t recognize at all. I wished she would stand up to her in laws to be. Then her fiance tells her he wants them to move across the country and the way he says it leaves much to be desired. I didn’t like it because by the time I got around to reading this book it was years after I’d read the first two and I was married to someone who was born and raised in another part of the world. He only came to England to do a Masters, but aren’t I glad he came or how would we have met? We didn’t talk about what would become of ‘us’ once his time here was up because I didn’t want to think about the possibility of moving out of England (unless it was to Hawaii or Barbados or something, lol). We had to have the talk when we started talking about marriage and it was really sensitive and required both of us to be understanding and selfless. If my husband had spoken to me the way Ashley’s fiance speaks to her, I would have felt awful. So, I felt sorry for Ashley. But I also thought, ‘girl just go with him.’ Ashley really needed to get away from Silicon Valley and her workaholic lifestyle anyway.

Last Words

In summary this series is really good. I don’t think Ashley is someone to be emulated because she is a bit selfish sometimes (aren’t we all) and very materialistic, but she is funny and you do feel sorry for her. She also seemed to have a problem with Asians, which was pretty shocking, but this changed when her brother married an Asian woman. You really need to know your celebrities to read this series. I don’t so I had to keep Googling things. I got the Halle Berry joke though. Even I know who she is, lol.

Kristin Billerbeck, your writing will be missed. Thank you for inspiring this British writer who wishes she had half your wit.

God bless.

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Book GIVEAWAY & Book Review!!! – Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury

ImageI love this book so much that I am not just reviewing it, but I am also giving away a free copy!!! To enter for the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment (either on facebook or on my blog) about a book you’ve read that you really enjoyed, that changed your life, or that impacted you in some other way. It doesn’t have to be an essay, even if you just write the title of the book that’ll do. I will select a winner at random on Saturday morning. So excited!!!

Anyway, on to the review:

Unlocked is one of the best books I read last year. It is truly beautiful. When I saw that it was about a guy with autism I didn’t know what to expect, and I honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy it. But it was amazing and I was so glad I gave it a chance. Warning: you will need tissues on one particular part.

My favourite character in the book is Ella Reynolds. She is amazing and a truly beautiful character. She’s not just a pretty face but she’s has a heart of gold and bucket loads of confidence. She stands up for what she believes in and doesn’t let anyone push her around. Everyone needs a friend like her. The way she sticks by the autistic guy, Holden, is great, because she really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Holden is also a sweet character. My heart really broke for him.

There are also some extremely ugly characters in the book, like Jake and his friends. And there are some truly pitiful characters; I felt sorry for Ella’s mum a lot.

The two main things I took from this book are:

  1. It’s important to love people.  As Christian we’re supposed to be loving and accept people for who they are.
  2. The prayers we send up during the course of each day are actually heard by God. I knew that before reading this book, but there are characters in this book that are constantly praying and it just made me more aware that God really is listening.

This book gets five stars from me. Here’s the synopsis

Before You Take a Stand … You Got to Take a Chance. Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal—on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality, he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different. Ella Reynolds is part of the ‘in’ crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him … the way he is drawn to the music. Then, Ella makes a dramatic discovery—she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied, and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake. Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden’s praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.

If you have already read this book what did you think of it?

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Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – A book review

ImageOne of my New Year’s Resolutions is to write book reviews on my blog. This is partly because I’m always shocked when I get messages from my readers about how they wish there were more Christian writers. There are absolutely tons of Christian writers, many of them far better than myself. I’m just a beginner. One of my favourite Christian authors is Francine Rivers. She’s one of my favourite, not because I read all her books (I don’t), but because she wrote one of the best books I have ever read in my life (this is includes non-Christian books). And I’ve read plenty.

Overview

Redeeming Love is the story of a prostitute, Angel. Angel has really lived a hard life. Your heart will break for her as you read this book. And just when you think you know about all the awful things that have happened to her, Francine hits you with more awful things from the poor girls past. I mean, just how much does one woman have to suffer? The hero in the book is called Michael Hosea. He’s a Christian and he wants to marry Angel. He is really cool. He’s good for Angel, but she doesn’t know it. I’m all for freedom of choice, so at first I was thinking he should just give her a break, you can’t force someone to marry you, but  well, it’s all good (desperately trying not to give any spoilers here).

Why I love this book

  1. It’s different from your average Christian book. A lot of Christian authors tread a little too softly around certain issues, but Francine just goes for it. The book is realistic about the life of a prostitute and the life of a husband and wife.
  2. It’s the story of Christ and the church. Angel represents the church and Michael represents Christ. I read some negative reviews about the book on amazon, and one reviewer was saying they didn’t like the fact that Angel was naked in some scenes. Well, uh, she wasn’t just naked for the sake of it. And there was nothing explicit at all. I think she just removed her clothes to show how a Christian should approach God, i.e. we need to bare all.
  3. It’s based on the book of Hosea. After I read Redeeming Love I went and read the book of Hosea and it’s really a powerful book that’ll make you want to be more faithful to God.
  4. The use of names is really artistic. I loved how Michael called Angel different names in different situations. It was beautiful.
  5. The ending was very moving, for me anyway. It’s one of the most life changing books I have read. Reading about Angel’s journey to spiritual freedom and liberty was so inspiring for me.
  6. The book encouraged me as a writer to write whatever is on my heart and not be hung up about being ‘safe’. Obviously it’s not about being shocking just for the sake of being shocking. It’s about being true to God and being realistic.

I was an aspiring writer when I read this book and I was green with envy when I finished it. It’s that awesome. I made lots of my friends read it. My brother even gave in and read it, which is saying something because he doesn’t read. Huge props to Ms Rivers.

The book synopsis is:

A Story of Love That Won’t Let Go – No Matter What!

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.

But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.

A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.