Sunday, November 29, 2009

On the First Day of Christmas: All I Have to Give

Author: Melody Carlson
Christmas Cheer Rating: 1

I was surprisingly disappointed with this book since I've read These Boots Were Made for Walking and loved it. I was really looking forward to diving into this book.

Anna Jacobs is trying to have the best Christmas ever since she's started having some concerning health problems. She also is struggling with the fact that she can't have children. Added to other challenging situations, she finds having the perfect Christmas is harder than she thinks.

I finished this book in 24 hours, which normally means the book was great. Unfortunately, I quickly finished this one just so I could be done. Anna began to annoy me by the middle of the book. I wanted to shake some sense into her because her thought process was a little on the ridiculous side. The most annoying part of this book was the unresolved ending. There were so many loose ends that I found myself wondering happened to some of the characters in the book.

I guess I'm going to have to read more of Carlson's book because this one really surprised me. I have The Christmas Dog on my list to read. I hope this book isn't any indication of the rest of this reading challenge because if it is, I'm not going to have a merry Christmas.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tea & Read: I'm So Sure

Title: I'm So Sure
Author: Jenny B. Jones
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

OMG! Jenny B. Jones as produced another fabulous book featuring Bella Kirkwood (There's something about the name Bella this season. See previous post Fools Rush In.) Bella's life is still an adventure. Just as she starts to adjust to her new life, she discovers that her step-father Jake has been selected for a reality TV show. She also has to figure out who is sabotaging the prom and deal with her editor, Luke Sullivan.

I love this series, which is a big surprise considering I'm well past the YA age group (I have children who fall into that age range). Jones knows how to tell a story to captivate readers at any age. I especially enjoy Jones' humor and whit when it comes to Bella.

I also appreciate the fact that Jones deals with several serious issues (blended families, bullying) in a way that isn't overwhelming. Jones weaves a story with these issues, but gives positive ways to deal with them. She presents the reality of life without being gritty, which, in this world of where shock value has been overused, is a good thing.

And if an old woman like me can enjoy this book, they would make a great gift for the teenage girls in your life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tea & Read: Fools Rush In

Title: Fools Rush In
Author: Janice Thompson
Rating: Two Cups of Tea
Bella must be a popular name for heroines this year. Of course, Bella Swan from the Twilight series has gotten a lot of attention but there are other Bellas out there worth mentioning. Bella Rossi is definitely one of them.
Fools Rush In features Bella Rossi, who has just taken over her parent's wedding planning business. She wants to start fresh and her first wedding as the new owners has a Texan/Cowboy theme. The problem is that she is first generational Italian-American and doesn't know a thing about "Boot-Scootin'". She seeks help in a handsome DJ who knows a thing or two about Texas flair.
I think the greatest attribute of this book is the its multi-cultural characters. I love the interaction of the different culture groups in the book. Thompson presented that interaction in a very realistic and hilarious way. Being a member of a minority ethnic group, this gives me hope. I think that most of Christian fiction is dominated by Caucasian characters. I think that's sad because that's not a true representation of the Body of Christ. More writers need to have the courage to combine more ethnic groups in their novels and I applaud Thompson for taking that leap.
If I had to take marks away from this book, it would because I didn't feel the intensity of Bella's inner conflict. She wants to make the business work but she didn't seem to have enough motivation to be as stressed as she was. Other than that, this was a great book. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the Bella series. Bella Rossi, that is.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Twelve Books of Christmas

This past summer, I challenged myself to read 20 books in 14 weeks. I fell a few books short of my goal but I did manage to knock out 17 books from my bookshelf. I discovered some excellent books and some new authors.

Well, I'm at it again. This time I'm reading 12 books for the holiday season. My 12 Books of Christmas Challenge will start on November 27 and go through December 31. I will review each book on here so check back often.

This is a perfect challenge for me because I LOVE Christmas. It's my favorite holiday and certainly my favorite time of year. Christmas is a big deal for my family and I normally spend the day at home each Christmas (I don't even go to church. Yes, I'm a heathen). It will be the icing on the cake to read 12 books about such a magical time of year. Plus, it just doesn't feel right to read Christmas stories in June.

Here is my tentative list for my 12 Books of Christmas (in no particular order):

1. The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson
2. The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
3. Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn
4. The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren
5. The Judge who Stole Christmas by Randy Singer
6. An Irish Christmas by Melody Carlson
7. The Angel of Bastonge by Gilbert Morris
8. A Midnight Clear by Jerry B. Jenkins
9. All I Have to Give by Melody Carlson
10. The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado
11. Where Angels Go by Debbie Macomber

12. The Winter of Candy Canes by Debbie Viguiye

There are a few books that is not on this list but I would like to read it but I can't get a copy of.
I'm going to keep trying to get my hands on copies.

They are:

The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland.
A Texas Legacy Christmas by DiAnn Mills
Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy

I want to hear from you. What is your favorite Christmas book? I'm sure I'll have a favorite by the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Being Humble and Squealing

I recently had my first article posted on I must admit it was a surreal experience seeing my name on a site I've visited often when doing Bible research. I've always loved the articles on Crosswalk. But one day when I logged on to do some biblical research, I found my article was on the home page of the site. And I squealed like this was the article hadn't been there for a week already.

I know this may be an extreme reaction but I still squeal each time I have something published. I'm so awed by God that He chooses to use me this way. I'm also amazed at His faithfulness. He told me that I would be a writer and I would reach many. I would like to believe that this article on Crosswalk is another step in fulfilling of His promise.

My family thinks I'm crazy for still squealing about being on Crosswalk, or anywhere else for that matter. I can't help it. My squeal comes from a humble heart. Humility is important to me, not just in my writing, but in everything I do. I have a great awareness of my dependence of God for everything. He is great and it is His greatness that flows through me, not my own abilities.

I'm still excited about what God does through me. And I pray that I will always be this way. I never want to get to a point where I'm not moved by the grace that God has poured out on my life. I never want to get puffed up so that I don’t recognize that it is God working in me. So I'm squealing...