Monday, October 31, 2011

Mary Connealy talks Ten Plagues

Here’s a little bit about it before we talk more:

Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy
A demon possessed serial killer acts out the Ten Plagues of Egypt on the city of Chicago.

An inner city mission pastor draws the attention of a madman and becomes the focus of his rage.

A lady cop with the spiritual gift of discerning spirits gets the case and is confronted with an evil unlike any she’s ever known.
The pastor and the cop race to stop a murderer, knowing that the plague of the first born and the plague of darkness are being saved just for them.

A Rose by any other name will still alienate her readers if Lil Rosy steps too far outside her brand.

I love Ten Plagues. I think it’s as fun as anything I’ve ever written. But it is DIFFERENT. And that’s why I wanted the pseudonym. If you pick up Ten Plagues and ask yourself, “I wonder what state THIS cowboy’s ranch is in?” you’re in for a shock.

And I don’t want you to be shocked. I want you to read it, but KNOW WHAT YOU’RE PICKING UP. ALSO KNOW THAT ROMANTIC COMEDY WITH COWBOYS IS STILL MY FIRST LOVE AND THE NEXT ONE COMES IN FEBRUARY. ALSO KNOW THIS IS A ROMANCE. I THINK READERS WILL FORGIVE A ROMANCE NOVELIST ANYTHING IF THERE’S STILL A HAPPILY EVER AFTER (that could be wishful thinking on my part).

This is me from back in the day when no one would publish my books and I was on a wild ride, writing whatever I wanted. Whatever entertained me. And this just entertained the stuffin’ out of me.

So I was reading the Bible verse about the gifts of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12--wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues.

And we’ve all heard of these and I’ve known people who had all of these…..except I was struck by the gift, discerning of spirits. And I wondered…what is that? I couldn’t think of anyone I’d ever spoken to who claimed that gift. So I started playing that typical writer game of what if. What if you had that gift and someone walked up to you and you could discern a demon? What would you do? How would your life be impacted? What would it be like to have that gift?

So I created a woman with the gift for discerning spirits. And it’s not just evil spirits. She can tell when someone has a particularly powerful spirit of faith, too.

So that’s the foundation of my book. A lady cop with the gift of discerning spirits. And she is confronted with a crime that is awash in demonic evil, the worst, ugliest, most frightening spirit she’s even known. A demon possessed serial killer who is acting out the Ten Plagues of Egypt on the city of Chicago.

An inner city mission pastor becomes the target of this madman’s murderous rage. The pastor is a former Chicago police detective who stomped on my heroine’s toes when they were both on the force.

Now Keren, my heroine, is forced to work with an old nemesis. She can sense the powerful goodness in him but she can’t quite help wanted to kick him in the shins for what he did to her.

I did a lot of research into what the Bible has to say about demons and I wanted so badly to treat that with respect. I hope I succeeded. Ten Plagues ended up being a wild ride and I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Email me: mary@maryconnealy.com
Find me online:Seekerville, Petticoats & Pistols, My Blog, My Website


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist, a RITA Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist. She's the author of The Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, The Montana Marriages Series, and The Sophie's Daughters series.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stalking Debbie Viguie


I recently had the opportunity to have some fun, crazy, (cuz that's how I roll) and even informative questions answered by a new favorite author of mine, Ms. Debbie Viguie. Debbie is a New York Times bestselling author of a diverse collection of books including fairy tale retellings, YA fantasy, epic dark fantasy, Inspirational mystery... & the list goes on and on. Her latest novel is Kiss of Night, a dark, urban-fantasy-esque Christian vampire (yes, you read that right: vampire) novel. You can read my review of this intriguing book HERE.

Now let's get to the good stuff! Welcome, Debbie!

Is there one item you insist must be present in your car (or purse) at all times?

DEBBIE: Pens! Lots and lots of pens. Sometimes I lack for paper but I never lack for pens. I've been known to write good ideas down on my hands and arms (and napkins and toilet paper, and paper tablecloths at restaurants like Macaroni Grill.) But without the pen all could be lost!

What are you reading this week?

DEBBIE: the King James Bible in Russian

YOU READ RUSSIAN??!!??

DEBBIE: A miniscule amount. I took Russian in college and didn't keep up with it after the classes were over. I regret that and so I decided to get back into it. Reading something familiar can really help when trying to strengthen your understanding of a foreign language. One of my high school Spanish teachers had us first read fairy tales and then tackle El Cid in Spanish. It was great. That's why I'm reading the KJV Bible in Russian. I'm starting with the parts I'm most familiar with and intend to eventually read the entire thing.

You're a theme park enthusiast. Which theme park is your favorite?

DEBBIE
: Disneyland, the original, in Anaheim. You can't top a classic! Although Disneyland, Paris comes really close.

If you could choose to ride one theme park attraction all day, which would it be?

DEBBIE: The Haunted Mansion!!

Your guilty pleasure snack or activity?

DEBBIE: When I'm on a deadline I have to have Coca Cola and Cheez-Its. My husband's considering buying stock.

If your desk had a name, you would call it:

DEBBIE: The Keeper of Quills (it sounds classier than Keeper of Gel Pens)

The top destination on your dream vacation list?

DEBBIE: Prague!!! I write about it because I want to visit it!!

Your favorite moment from a writers' conference or book signing event?

DEBBIE: A teenage boy, about fourteen, came up to me at a book signing all excited. His grandmother had gotten him hooked on my books and they both read them. He wanted me to sign a book for her. I asked him what her name was and he stared at me for a moment and then turned bright red and muttered, "Grandma." He actually didn't know her first name! I tried so hard to keep a straight face as I signed the book. It was so adorable and so funny at the same time!!

And finally, how DO you pronounce your last name?

DEBBIE: Vi gā (rhymes with risqué) You can also hear it pronounced here: http://www.forvo.com/word/debbie_viguie I have no idea who put this up, but it is correct!

Thanks for taking time to visit with us today, Debbie! It's been great lurking outside your writing studio and getting to know you better!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Kiss of Night by Debbie Viguie

Urban fantasy is a fairly untapped subgenre within the scope of Inspirational Fiction. With Kiss of Night, Debbie Viguie doesn't just tap into the market -- she sinks her teeth into it, tucking thoughtful theological musings within an intriguing tale of bloodlust and... umm... regular lust.

THE SITCH:

When Susan travels to Prague to bury her beloved grandmother, a new and frightening world is revealed to be hidden within her family tree. Susan's belief in the supernatural doesn't include vampires... until she meets one. And kisses him.

Raphael fought as a knight in the Crusades, serving only his lust for killing and glutting himself in its thrill. Cursed by a vampire to become the immortal embodiment of the monster he already was, Raphael lives the centuries in constant remorse, knowing the reality of the God whose existence he blasphemed in life.

War is coming between sects of vampires -- a war that could mean the end of the human race. Even with powerful vampire allies, Raphael cannot stop it without the help of Susan -- and the legacy her family has protected for generations.

HOW IT HIT ME:
Like the cold drizzle of rain hitting badly sunburned skin on a foggy, moonless night.

In other words: breathless tension coats Raphael and Susan's interactions with a right-on-the-edge-of-passion thrill. Yet there is something both ominously attractive and refreshingly uncomfortable about the romance as it blossoms, albeit grudgingly, between the innocent young woman and the jaded vampire.

I'm eerily hooked.

WHAT MADE ME SQUIRM:

The introduction of a real-life historical figure (as a vampire) was a bit jarring and I felt it ever-so-slightly damaged the integrity of the plot. That being said, the skill at which Viguie plants ideas and intrigues about this character into her readers' minds soothes those reservations. I will be among many readers anxiously awaiting the next two books of this planned trilogy to see how the author will make this character's role (and so many others) play out.

TO READ, OR NOT TO READ; THAT IS THE QUESTION:

Taking place in modern-day Prague, the vampire lore in Kiss of Night is fairly old school, yet it never becomes stale. All the classic vampire-fighting weapons come into play: crosses, holy water, sunshine, garlic, angry peasant mobs, and wooden stakes -- but the Bram Stoker-ish staples are interestingly executed (yes, that pun was intended) and refreshed by the modern characters with whom they secretly exist. Add in the draw of a dangerous attraction between a handsome vampire (Raphael) and the young woman of faith (Susan) who is destined to become a new breed of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and you can just go ahead and sign me up for the sequel, cuz I'm in.

Read it.

Viguie's original take on explaining the existence of vampires could keep your book club (or Bible study group) discussion going on for hours. Depending upon the open-mindedness of your particular group, it could even get -- dare I say? -- bloody. I'd advise you to brace yourself to encounter an angry peasant mob if your homegirls tend to sit on the -- ahem -- conservative side of the church.

Sure to bring some mainstream readers over to the dark side of Inspirational Fiction, this novel may also tempt some of the more traditional Inspirational readers to challenge their idea of what "vampire fiction" is all about. Debbie Viguie's vampires may not sparkled in the sun, but that doesn't keep the ink of her dark tale from glistening upon the page. Kiss of Night is more than just another vampire romance; it's a thought-provoking read that, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, may cause readers to question their definition of a monster.

(This review originally appeared at the USA Today romance fiction blog, Happy Ever After.)

Make sure to stop by on Saturday as we go Outside the Author's Studio with Debbie Viguie!

Serena's Rating for Kiss of Night:

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 titles to read in the event of a zombie apocalypse

Have you heard? The undead have taken over mainstream fiction. Even the CDC is preparing folks in the event of an invasion. I would be remiss if did not give my inspy readers a heads up.

Don't worry, I got your back. Should you find yourself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse-dancing or otherwise-here are five titles sure to get you through the crisis (at the very least, you can chuck the books as you make your getaway).

Title: The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook by Jeff Kinley
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, October 2011
Ben Forman was just an ordinary guy, a young professional starting his first job and falling in love with his girlfriend. Living in the outskirts of a southern city, he didn't think the zombie activity so common in the major cities would hit so close to home. But it was becoming clear that the mysterious infection reanimating the deceased was a growing epidemic across the country. The question was, would he stay alive or become the undead?

In this one-of-kind approach to teaching about sin, grace, and salvation, The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook tracks the fictional life of Ben Forman and offers solid Bible teaching to help readers understand the gravity and consequences of life without God, of life as a zombie. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." Without the salvation Jesus offers, we are all as good as dead. But as this book teaches in a winsome, cutting-edge, culturally relevant style, anyone can kill the zombie inside, escape the clutches of the undead, and come alive by the supernatural power of God's salvation.

Title: Night of the Living Dead Christianby Matt Mikalatos
Publisher: SaltRiver, September 2011
What does a transformed life actually look like?

In his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos tackles this question in an entertaining and thought-provoking way—with MONSTERS!!! While Christians claim to experience Christ’s resurrection power, we sometimes act like werewolves who can’t control our base desires. Or zombies, experiencing a resurrection that is 90 percent shambling death and 10 percent life. Or vampires, satiating ourselves at the expense of others. But through it all we long to stop being monsters and become truly human—the way Christ intended. We just can’t seem to figure out how.

Night of the Living Dead Christian is the story of Luther, a werewolf on the run, whose inner beast has driven him dangerously close to losing everything that matters. Desperate to conquer his dark side, Luther joins forces with Matt to find someone who can help. Yet their time is running out. A powerful and mysterious man is on their trail, determined to kill the wolf at all costs . . .

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Night of the Living Dead Christian is a spiritual allegory that boldly explores the monstrous underpinnings of our nature and tackles head-on the question of how we can ever hope to become truly transformed.

Title: Zombie Church: by Tyler Edwards
Publisher: Kregel Publications, September 2011
There is something missing in the church today. Stuck in a rut of routines and rituals, the church is caught up in doing what it is "supposed to do" but is lacking the true essence of what it is supposed to provide: life.

Real faith--and a real relationship with Jesus--is not about playing by the rules, attending services, and praying before meals. Real faith is more than religion. Believing there is a way to breathe life back into the church, Tyler Edwards adopts a contemporary and entertaining metaphor--zombies--to highlight and challenge the problematic attitude of today's believers.

Title: Pay Me In Flesh (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law) by K. Bennet (aka James Scott Bell)
Publisher: Pinnacle Books, August 2011
Hungry For Justice - And Brains
Meet Mallory Caine. Attorney at law. Zombie at large. She's not like those "Living Dead" losers you see in the movies. She doesn't slobber, drool, or lurch - she's smart, stylish, and sexy. Sure, she's a zombie and a lawyer but, hey, a girl's got to eat. When Mallory's not in the courtroom, going head to head with her ex-boyfriend, killer-prosecutor Aaron Argula, she's in the seedy streets of Hollywood, hunting brain after brain. That is, until some psycho starts hunting zombie after zombie...

The Defense Never Rests - In Peace
The undead are decapitated, a letter "Z" carved in their flesh. Mallory doesn't want to lose her head, but she's worried. Like many lawyers in L.A., she doesn't have a soul - a side effect of being a zombie, not a defense attorney. If Mallory dies before she gets her soul back, she goes straight to hell. No appeals. Objection overruled. If the killer isn't stopped, it's case closed for zombies everywhere. But Mallory is an undying champion of justice, and she won't go down - without a bite...

Title: Forbiddenby Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
Publisher: CenterStreet, September 2011
Many years have passed since civilization's brush with apocalypse. The world's greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace... and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.

But the blood will also resurrect hatred, ambition, and greed.

Set in a terrifying, medieval future, where grim pageantry masks death, this tale of dark desires and staggering stakes peels back the layers of the heart for all who dare to take the ride.

Did I miss your favorite inspy zombie book? Share the title in the comment section.

And in other news:
-I am outrageously late reporting the winners of two recent giveaways. The winner of her choice of Julie Lessman books is Rebecca at agent_beckster(at)yahoo(dot)com, and the winner of my review copy of The Doctor's Lady is Margaret at singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com. Emails have been sent to the winners.

-The Christian Fiction Book Club is reading Dancing on Glass by Pamela Ewen. Julia at My Only Vice is hosting the discussion November 5. Please make sure to link up!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CFBA Tour: Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
by
Deeanne Gist




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.



Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.



After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.



Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.



Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.



Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.



Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.


My Review:
I'm going to ask you to hold the line for a day or two. I'm still reading this one (and so far so good). My review will post before Saturday.

Be sure to check Monday's interview with Deeanne for a chance to win my review copy when I'm finished with it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A chat with Deeanne Gist (and giveaway!)

One of my absolute favorite authors (read the backstory on my Deeanne Gist obsession here) is making a return visit to Edgy Inspirational Romance to chat about her new release and my favorite genre!

You pioneered the term edgy inspirational romance (my favorite genre!). Is that a label you still embrace for your work?

Yes, it is. Christian women--and in particularly our singles--are constantly faced with sexual temptation and they don’t feel comfortable bringing up the issues of premarital sex and infidelity in their Ladies Bible Studies and small groups. I, however, can use Christian romance to reveal and deal with sensitive issues like these.

To do that successfully, however, I must have a bit more rope than our readers might be accustomed to, yet still being careful to glorify God. Therefore, I don’t censure my characters at all. If they want to swear, I let them swear. If they feel desire, I let them feel desire. If they have uncharitable thoughts, I let them have uncharitable thoughts. Once I turn the book in, my editor lets me know what needs to be “toned down.”

Tell us a little bit about Love on the Line.

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world…which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

What's the worst writing advice you've ever received?

Nobody cares whether the facts in your novels are accurate or not, they just want a good story. **NOT TRUE** Nothing puts readers off more than a book that hasn’t been well-researched. And I’m not speaking just of historicals. I read a contemporary novel set in Houston where the heroine drove on an expressway. The author immediately lost credibility in my mind. Had he done the barest minimum of research, he’d have known we don’t have expressways in Houston. We have freeways. Never underestimate your readers.

What's the best experience you've ever had with one of your fans?

I absolutely love getting to know my fans. After having such a blast with my readers at the Getaway With Dee last year, I've decided I want to do more "destination" type events. They provide us with so much time to hang out and have fun. My next Getaway With Dee will be in June of 2012 when we meet up at the RomCon convention in Denver, Colorado for a Titanic Tea and many other fun activities. Fans can go to GetawayWithDee.com for more details.

Three things on your bucket list?

Rest, sleep and a massage. :)

Readers can connect with Dee at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

It's giveaway time!

Leave a comment for Dee between now and October 31 for a chance to win my review copy of Love on the Line. Be sure to include your email address if it's not in your profile. Open to US residents only.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eh, I got nothing (aka rejected blog topics)

1. Top ten ways to spend a blogging sabbatical. (Probably not like this).

2. Movie review: Footloose. (If we did movie reviews here I'd tell you to see it).

3. Tips for balancing social media and family. (What the flip do I know?)

4. How Joy got her groove back (I'll let you know when I find it).

5. Rethinking the whole writing thing. (Not ready to share yet).

6. When just looking at your laptop gives you performance anxiety. (Or how I finally stopped stalking StatCounter).

7. Helping your ADHD son pass 5th grade math without losing your ever loving mind. (A cautionary tale).


Ever have a dry spell?!??

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: THERE YOU'LL FIND ME by Jenny B. Jones

There You'll Find Me, the new Young Adult novel from Jenny B. Jones, takes place in Ireland and features, as its protagonist, Finley Sinclair, a minor character from her hil-ar-i-ous grown up book, Save the Date.

You had me at "Ireland", Jen.

But wait! There's more: Not only does Finley get to go to Ireland, but she meets a cute guy on the plane -- a hunky little bite of Boy Candy who just so happens to be the star of several high-grossing vampire films.

Am I in?

Oh, yeah. I'm in! I'm in like shoulder pads in 1985. (And I have the photos to prove it.)

So here's the sitch, as written in the product description at Barnes & Noble.com:


THE SITCH:

In a small cottage house in rural Ireland, Finley is forced to face a past she can't outrun.

When Finley books her trip to the "Emerald Isle" as a foreign exchange student, she hopes to create a new identity and get some answers from God. After all, since her brother's recent death, God seems to have forgotten she even exists.

Now all she wants to do is let her heart heal, see the sights in her brother's favorite country, and work on her college audition piece for a prestigious music conservatory. She plans to use her brother's journal from his time as Ireland as her guide, yet from the moment she boards the plane and sits next to Beckett Rush, teen star of the hottest vampire flicks, nothing goes according to her well-ordered plan.

The peace and beauty of the Irish village are no match for the chaos that soon becomes her life. When she gets roped into working as Beckett Rush's personal assistant, she finds this famous wild child is not quite what he seems. And as she grows closer to the mysterious actor, her own secrets refuse to stay put.

As things begin to unravel, Finley takes desperate measures to control her own life and fill the empty spaces her brother left behind.

When it all comes crashing down, Finley must discover how to give her past to God . . . if there's to be any hope in her future.


HOW IT HIT ME:
Like a rosy red apple, tossed off an Irish cliff, and into the dark, salty sea.

In other words: each juicy bite of the story was sweet, the characters were crisply drawn, and the setting was both beautiful and alive. Finley's glances over precipice of grief -- and into the mystery of what life should look like after losing someone you love -- was achingly true. As her obsessions grow, the tension mounts, subtly tugging the heart of the reader.

(And of all the sweet, juicy things in the world, why did I pick an apple? Well, you try reading about Beckett Rush and not having at least one Twi-thought go through your mind!)

Although I'm quite used to giggling my way through a Jenny B. Jones novel, I never thought she would make me cry. But There You'll Find Me caught me by surprise. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't put it down.

Tissues, please!

TO READ, OR NOT TO READ; THAT IS THE QUESTION:

Finley's character spins off the success of Save the Date (my review HERE), which released as an Inspirational Romance for adults last February. Even though There You'll Find Me is being marketed to a teen audience, however, the humor, romance, and vivid characters of this stroy simply defy an age-definitive market. There You'll Find Me will capture the hearts of "older girls" like me as easily as it will enthrall the teens at which it was aimed.

Well, of course you are going to read it. You can't wait to read it, can you? It is flying into your Amazon cart as soon as you finish reading this post, right? Read it.

AND FINALLY, IN THE WORDS OF INIGO MONTOYA:
"No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

There You'll Find Me juxtaposes loss and grief against a magnificent landscape of smart and funny characters. Written in poignant, first-person prose (with generous helpings of snort-worthy snarkiness), this novel will have you grinning, laughing, aching, and crying along with Finley as she discovers the truths, as well as the lies, informing her sense of self -- and her sense of God -- in Ireland.

(most of the above review originally appeared at USA Today's Happy Ever After romance fiction blog. I have tweaked it a bit for ya'll, but I must give credit to the peeps who pay me!)

Serena's Rating:







Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

For someone who doesn't watch much TV, I have to admit that I'm looking forward to a few things I've noticed in the Fall TV line-up. Why?

Fairy tales are trending.

I don't just love fairy tales, I luh-uh-uvvv them. Seriously. When I hear the words "fairy" and "tale" mentioned in the same sentence, strange things begin to happen: my ears perk up, my breathing becomes shallow, and my pulse quickens, pumping a sudden rush of glitter through my veins. Weird, right?

So sue me.

So yes, Virginia, this fall I am setting my DVR to catch the pilot episodes of upcoming shows like Once Upon a Time (scheduled to premier on ABC October 23rd) and Grimm (premiering on NBC Oct. 28th -- viewer discretion advised, by me, based on trailers.), but when it comes to fairy tales, my favorite way to experience them will always be through the magical portal we know as... books.

Fairy Tales are easy to find in mainstream fiction (especially YA), but a little bit harder to locate in Christian circles. That's why I was pleased as punch to discover an author who is filling that gap: Melanie Dickerson.

The Healer's Apprentice, released in 2010, is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, "The Sleeping Beauty". Here's the sitch, as it appears on the Barnes & Noble website:

Two Hearts. One Hope.


Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.

When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.


This novel is shelved as YA and even though I got it for ME, my freshman daughter snagged it before I even had a chance to crack the spine. Being the loving, giving, and sharing-of-literature mom that I am, I gave her a quick swat on the patootie and waited for her verdict. The next day (I don't know where she gets it!) my dear sweet eldest had finished reading the novel, so she gave it back with a "thumbs up" and I dug in.

I thought the tale got off to a bit of a choppy start -- I was expecting a birth and a fairy and curse. It didn't take long before I found myself wondering exactly which fairy tale was being retold; but even though certain elements did not make an appearance in their "expected form", I was soon drawn in to Dickerson's tale.

This isn't the Walt Disney Golden Book we grew up with. There are no fairies flitting about or fire-breathing dragons, or sword-wielding princes who never speak. Wilhelm doesn't wax poetic overmuch in his speeches, but he is more than a card-board cut-out handsome prince -- he is gentle, responsible, and committed to his duty as heir to the dukedom and keeper of peace between the realms.

As a heroine, Rose had a refreshing meekness that is uncommon in today's YA literature. Like many Christian romances, this celebrates love, duty, and sacrifice -- but as a YA fairy tale it includes a most unexpected ingredient: spiritual warfare.

Ms Dickerson handles the evil villain of the tale with a more Biblical approach to pagan magic than is usually seen in YA fairy tales, giving our heroes both physical and spiritual battles to wage. The positioning of these scenes, so closely together near the end of the novel (though they are hinted at throughout the rest of the text), startled me a bit -- but I appreciated the soft-core-Peretti style in which the spiritual scenes were rendered.

Although I'm a bit late coming to the party on this title (it was a Christy finalist last year!) I'm glad I finally got to read it and I am most certainly looking forward to reading Melanie Dickerson's next fairy tale, The Merchant's Daughter, due out December 1st.

Serena's Rating:


Friday, October 07, 2011

Top Five Friday

Top Five Friday is a smaller version of Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created and fostered by our beloved friends at The Broke and Bookish. Rebel that I am, however, I'm not only going off-day, I'm also going off-number and off-topic by sharing with you my... da-da-da-dummmmmm.....

Top Five Edgy Inspirational Romance AUTHOR Websites!


In the number five position, please give a warm, edgy welcome to:

I know, I know. Ted Dekker is probably not the first name that comes to mind when you think of romance (although his books often have romantic relational subplots within them) -- but he is indisputably King Edgy, so I'm sneaking him in at NUMBER FIVE -- simply because I love his website (and his writing.)

At www.teddekker.com you can find all the pertinent info about Mr. Dekker (can we just start calling him King Edgy? That would be fun.) and his work sidled up to some super-cool, scroll over animation features. His website rocks. Go over and play.

At NUMBER FOUR you'll find a virtual tour of Europe (and beyond!) when you visit the website of:

Visiting Sandra's website is like looking through a scrapbook, taking a (fun) class in English Reformation History, and visiting a fab bookstore all at once. You can tour castles, get postcards, and salivate over French pastry all in one location. I love stopping by Sandra's digs at www.sandrabyrd.com -- but I always leave craving me some cupcakes.

Thrilling us with her brainy, poetic wit, may I introduce you to my pick for NUMBER THREE favorite Inspy Romance Author Website:

Tosca is one of my favorite crafty authors (and I don't mean Martha Stewart-crafty, so don't get all excited to whip out your glue gun when you visit Ms. Lee's website.) Her books are poetic, heart-rending, and sly with intelligent wit. Her website is just as awesome. Tosca is smart, quick with the sarcasm, and looks like she just stepped off the red carpet pretty much all the time. I'm pretty sure I want to be Tosca Lee when I grow up, so I visit often.

Tosca's website ( www.toscalee.com) has all the dish about her books and characters as well as deleted scenes, information about upcoming appearances, and... a blog. Tosca Lee's blog is always fun to read, and you never know what you're going to get. Serious one day, playful the next, it can be darkly witty or painfully true. Tosca blogs news and heart with equal zest.

Another fun thing you can discover if you visit Tosca's website is that you're only a click away from reading Lucian's darkly humorous tweets (Lucian is a character from her breakout novel, Demon: A Memoir). If you're brave enough to add a fictional demon to your list of follows you can get some deep thoughts and some brimstone snark on Twitter through Tosca's site. Pop over and look around.

Especially fun to visit en route to an exciting destination is
my NUMBER TWO pick:

Lisa has been a frequent visitor to OUR place this year (due to our shameless book love for a few Italian knights she brought to our attention) and I've stopped by her place many times as well.

Including reviews of books she's reading (I've picked a few from her shelf, upon her recommendation, and she's yet to steer me wrong!), information about her many published books, upcoming titles, and works in progress, Lisa also provides links to her travel blog. (I think just to torture people like me, who suffer acute cases of wanderlust.) It's a bright, fun spot that's loaded with info and giveaways. Drop in and say hello sometime, won't you?

And finally, my NUMBER ONE
FAVORITE INSPY ROMANCE AUTHOR WEBSITE belongs to
(drumroll, please!):

There is no web surfing I enjoy more -- (especially during a slow day at work, but don't tell my boss!) -- than to visit the website of comedienne -- I mean, author -- Jenny B. Jones. After tooling around the tabs a bit, I head over to her Zippity Blog. Jenny is always good for a snort-giggle and she never lets me down. Her website is colorfully bright and cheerful. It's youthful and invigorating, like Irish Spring soap, except not. (Just go with me here. Her latest book takes place in Ireland, okay?) And who doesn't need a pick-me-up in the middle of the day? Visit Jenny's site. Have a ball, and tell her I told you to drop by www.jennybjones.com

So what do you think of my picks?
If you haven't yet, please visit these authors' websites and give them a little pat on the back for being so awesome (and their graphic/web designers deserve a little "woot!" as well!) It's sure to be a fun little trip around the web-o-matic.

So tell me: which author websites are your favorites? And why? Leave your comments and suggestions below -- I'd love to have some new destinations to visit on those long, slow days at work!

Thanks for stopping by. Joy and I have a ton of reviews, giveaways, author interviews and more super-fantastic stuff in store for you this October -- & more fun than you can shake a jack-o-lantern at -- so don't be a stranger!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Announcing the "Talk Like a Pirate and Win" Winner!

Ahoy, Mateys! You may remember that September 19th was International Talk Like a Pirate Day (or you may not, in which case you can click HERE and get a caught up with a giggle or two.) In honor of that auspicious holiday, I brought a bit of me book booty ashore to distribute amongst ye who could speak back to me in Pirate. Thanks to everyone who dropped by me ship that day and left a comment that brought a giggle to my girth. Yer all winners to me!


A big fat CONGRATULATIONS goes out to Brenda!
Among the many who left a hilarious comment in Pirate Speak, her name was drawn (courtesy of random.org) as the winner.
She'll be winning these 4 swashbuckling books from me treasure chest!


Brenda, these books will soon set sail for your shore! I hope you enjoy them!

Thanks, everyone, for dropping by! Make sure you come by regularly -- Joy and I have lots of plans for more great giveaways!

Aarrrrgh,

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