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Monday, April 30, 2012

Monthly Reflections (#4)


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Monthly Reflections, where we take the time to reflect on the previous month.

My goals for April were...


Read 9 books including:
1-2 eBooks
A book from my TBR pile
A book starting with the letter "N" or "E" (I'm trying to get "Melanie" and I'm two "E's" and one "N" away!)

In April, I... 


Read 9 books!!
 1 eBook (Yours Truly)
 Read a book starting with the letter "N" (N.H.I. No Humans Involved)


Books read: 


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Reviews:


Far From Here by Nicole Baart
Hearts That Survive: A Novel of the Titanic by Yvonne Lehman
Prowl by Amber Garza
Beckon by Tom Pawlik
N.H.I.: No Humans Involved by Ray Ellis
Yours Truly by Karen Cogan
The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell

Interviews:


Amber Garza
Ray Ellis
Randy Singer
Tricia Goyer
Greg Mitchell

I participated in a 24 Hour Read-a-thon (didn't do that well):

24 Hour Read-a-Thon
Update 1
Update 2
Update 3

April reading challenge:

A: Prowl by Amber Garza
P: Beckon by Tom Pawlik
R: The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer
I: 
L: Hearts That Survive A Novel of the Titanic by Yvonne Lehman

I didn't complete this challenge... all I needed was an "I". I'm currently reading "Illusion" by Frank Peretti, but I didn't finish it in time for this challenge (oh well).

Looking ahead:


Here is what I hope to accomplish in May...

Read 10 books
Read at least 1 eBook
Read two "Just for Fun" books (one being Nightmare by Robin Parrish)
Read a book starting with the letter "E"

May seems like it will be a busy month for this blog (I have a lot of things planned!) and I hope that I will find the time to read at least 10 books. :D


Now it's your turn! What did you accomplish in April, what do you hope to accomplish in May? 


If you want to do your own Monthly Reflections, feel free to grab the button and post about it on your blog, then leave a comment with the URL - otherwise, please share your thoughts in a comment!

FIRST Tour: To See the Sun by Peggy Blann Phifer

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

CreateSpace (January 6, 2012)

***Special thanks to  Peggy Blann Phifer  for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Peggy Blann Phifer is an author and columnist, whose work has appeared on various Web sites and writer periodicals both in print and online. She is also an avid reader and loves to escape between the covers of a good book. A retired executive assistant, Peg now makes her home in southern Nevada with husband Jim.


To See the Sun is Peg’s debut novel, released January 2012

Visit her blog, Whispers in Purple.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Pregnant and widowed hadn’t been part of her “happily ever after” dream. And now, someone was trying to kill her . . .

Erin Macintyre never expected to be a widow and a new mother in the same year, anymore than she expected mysterious notes, threatening phone calls, and a strange homeless man who seems to know all about her. The thought of raising a child without a father is daunting enough—worse when you have no idea who might want to harm you. Put an old flame into the mix, and her life begins a tailspin into a world she never knew existed.

When P.I. Clay Buchanan, stumbles upon Erin at her husband's gravesite, he’s totally unprepared for her advanced pregnancy. Her venomous reaction at seeing him, however, was predictable. But Clay can’t let her distrust, or his guilt, get in the way—not when he has evidence that proves Erin’s life is in danger.

With few options left, Erin begrudgingly accepts Clay’s help . . . and it just might be her undoing.



Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1468121081
ISBN-13: 978-1468121087



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Friday, March 26, late afternoon

What a fantastic day. A bid won. A contract signed. The job of a lifetime that would put Stuart and Macintyre at the top of the construction heap, not just in Las Vegas, but all of southern Nevada.
Whistling, Justin Macintyre pressed the keyless remote of his Cadillac Escalade, tossed his briefcase across the console to the passenger seat and slid behind the wheel.
To top it all off, after seven long years, he and his wife, Erin, were going to have a baby. A baby! He laughed aloud at the overwhelming joy of it.
"Hey, world, I'm going to be a daddy!"
He shifted the SUV into gear and pulled out of the Mt. Charleston Lodge area onto Kyle Canyon Road and headed down the mountain to the Las Vegas Valley below. Despite the successful day, Justin couldn't banish his worry over a recent discovery of some irregularities in the company's finances. Nothing concrete, and his Uncle Sebastian, S&M's CFO, assured him everything was fine. Nevertheless, Justin's uneasiness had prompted him to send what little proof he had to his long-time friend, Clay Buchanan, a private investigator in Texas.
Preoccupied with his thoughts, he vaguely registered the yellow and black blind curve warning sign. Too late he saw the stalled car across the center line. No time to stop! He spun the  wheel to the right.
I'm going too fast! God, help me . . .!
###
Seconds passed and silence settled once more over the mountainside. A shadow emerged from behind a Joshua tree and stepped to the edge of the ravine. After a moment, the form walked to the car in the road and drove away.
###
Erin Macintyre stretched her arms along the balcony's balustrade of her twenty-seventh-floor condo above the streets of Las Vegas. Beyond that, the lower edge of the setting sun kissed the still snowy peaks of the Spring Mountain Range and Mt. Charleston.
Justin would be home soon.
"Erin, where's the zester?"
Erin returned to the kitchen. "In the utility drawer."
"Which is the utility drawer?" Magie Gifford, Erin's dearest friend, pulled out drawer after drawer.
Erin giggled and reached across Magie's arm and slid out the utility drawer.
"You changed it." Magie snatched the zester and bumped the drawer shut with her hip. "That's not where it was last time."
Erin wrapped her arms around her friend and hugged. "No, Mags, I didn't change anything." She waited a beat. "Can I interest you in a memory enhancement program?"
"Very funny." Magie pushed Erin aside and proceeded to rub a lemon across the gadget and then whisked the zest into a frothy mixture of olive oil, Italian herbs, and balsamic vinegar. "Okay, just drizzle this over the salad and stick it in the fridge."
That done, Erin checked on the lasagna in the oven. The garlic toast waited on the foil-lined cookie sheet ready to pop under the broiler. Everything was ready.
Erin glanced at the kitchen clock. "He's late."
"Posh. You should know by now how those meetings can drag on."
"Yeah, I know. It's just—"
"Get over here, Erin. He'll be here when he gets here."
Erin joined her friend in the breakfast nook off the kitchen and adjacent to the balcony. She scooped up a dozing Siamese cat from her chair and sat, settling him back on her lap.
"You spoil that critter." Magie brushed off the chair cushion before sitting.
"Yeah, I do. But you love him, too. I saw you sneaking him some treats earlier." Erin smiled. "Not to mention the romp you had with him in the living room when you got here."
"Busted. But he's so much fun, aren't you, Kazimir?"
At the sound of his name, the cat uncoiled, left Erin's lap and jumped onto Magie's. She snorted. "So much for protecting my black slacks."
"Thanks for coming over to help with this meal. I wanted it to be special and I never know when the nausea will hit." She raised an eyebrow. "But you will leave as soon as Justin gets here."
"You think he'll get that bid?"
Erin tapped her heart and nodded. "I know he will."
The first five descending notes of Welcome to My World sang out in the condo's foyer. Justin! No, he wouldn't ring the doorbell. Puzzled, she stepped across the tiled floor and rose on tiptoes to peer through the peephole. She gasped and jumped back.
The doorbell chimed again.
Fingers trembling, Erin released the security lock and opened the door to two uniformed police officers.
"Mrs. Macintyre?"
Erin nodded as Magie moved to her side.
"What is it, officers?"
"I'm afraid there's been an accident, Mrs. Macintyre. Your husband . . ."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend Report (#27) and Giveaway Winners!

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Weekend Report is where I share what I accomplished (book-wise) the previous week! Feel free to join along and post your own Weekend Report on your blog/site. If you do, please leave the URL in a comment below.


What I'm currently reading:



What I've read this week:


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What I think I'll read next:



Reviews posted this week:

The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell

Current Giveaways!



Enter to win By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer! US and Canada. Here is the link to enter.



Enter to win Enemies of the Cross by Greg Mitchell! US only. Here is the link the enter.

Giveaway winners!



The winner of N.H.I. by Ray Ellis is...

Jeannette!



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The winner of The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer is...

Andrea!!

Congratulations to both of you!!

~

So that's what I accomplished (book-wise) this week, what about you? Please share in a comment below. :)
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell



The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell
Book one in The Coming Evil Trilogy
Realms ~ 2011

About the book:

Dras Weldon lives in a world of horror movies and comic books. Twenty-two and unemployed, he is content to hide in the shadow of adolescence with a faith that he professes but rarely puts into action.

But when a demonic stranger arrives and begins threatening his friends, Dras is drawn into a battle that forces him to choose which side he is on. In a race against the clock, he must not only fight these evil forces, but also somehow convince his best friend, Rosalyn, to join him--before she is lost forever.

My rating:
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My thoughts:

The Strange Man is the first book in The Coming Evil Trilogy and also the first book I've read by Greg Mitchell, but it won't be the last! While it wasn't as scary as I had anticipated (I had heard it referred to as "Christian horror") there were a few suspenseful scenes - and that made me enjoy this book all the more!

I found Dras Weldon to be funny/silly - he was like a grown-up kid in the beginning of The Strange Man. I liked seeing how his character grew and in the end there was a shocker! One character I really liked was Dras's brother, Jeff. He was also the pastor of The Good Church of the Faithful (kind of a funny name for a church, I think).

I'd say Spiritual Battle was a major part of The Strange Man and I liked that! It was interesting to read about "The Bogeyman" and how powerful God's Word is - and important!

The Strange Man is an interesting read that I really enjoyed! The ending leaves me looking forward to reading the second book in Greg Mitchell's The Coming Evil Trilogy, Enemies of the Cross. I recommend The Strange Man if you enjoy a good novel with spiritual elements and some scary scenes.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion  - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*


~


Remember, you can enter to win the second book in this trilogy, Enemies of the Cross, right now! Giveaway is only open to the US - here is the link: http://christianbookshelfreviews.blogspot.com/2012/04/interview-giveaway-greg-mitchell-author.html
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview & Giveaway! Greg Mitchell ~ Author of Enemies of the Cross!!



Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Greg!! Will you tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks, Melanie, it’s great to be here! My name is Greg Mitchell. I’ve been married to my super-cool wife Meghan ten years this July. We have two beautiful little girls with boys’ names—Jo and Dani. By day, I work in the family business, silk screen printing hats, and by night, I write about monsters and the slimy things that lurk just outside your bedroom window. It’s a very full life!

What is Enemies of the Cross about?


Enemies of the Cross is the second part of my epic The Coming Evil Trilogy. The first book in the supernatural suspense saga—The Strange Man—was released last year by Realms Fiction. The series is really my love letter to the monster movies of my youth. I grew up in the 80s watching fun fright flicks like Gremlins, Fright Night, and The Lost Boys—so this was my take on it. What makes my series decidedly different (and quite a bit odd) is that I’m adding a Christian twist to it. What happens when a town has lost its faith? What kinds of evil might slip through the cracks? If the only way to beat back the forces of hell is with faith and the Word of God, then how strong will we be in that war?

That’s sort of the overall mood of the series, but Enemies of the Cross, specifically, is about Jeff Weldon—a young pastor angry at God. The book picks up immediately after the events of the first installment and, without getting too spoiler-y, it follows Jeff as he begins to unravel the mystery surrounding the enigmatic “Strange Man” who has besieged his town of Greensboro. The Strange Man is a powerful demon with a mysterious scheme to bring about something called the “Dark Hour”. He’s got a vendetta of some kind and what few true believers are left in Greensboro are going to have to overcome their doubts and fears in order to stand against him. Enemies of the Cross is a much more mature outing that its predecessor, as it’s a story about your faith being tested when the storms of life are nearly overwhelming. But it’s all laying the ground work for the final battle in Book Three!

What is something the average reader wouldn't know about you? 

I am a crazy huge Star Wars fan—and not just the movies. I love the comics, the books. It’s not a matter of being a collector; I’m not into Star Wars memorabilia. I just love the interconnecting story that so many authors have woven together through the various mediums for the last thirty-some-odd years. Every piece of Star Wars fiction, from cartoons to novels to video games, all builds on itself, creating this jaw-dropping tapestry of modern myth. I’ve contributed a very small portion to the Star Wars “canon”, but I would love to be a larger part of that mythology one day.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller, but it’s been sort of a process to discover I wanted to be, specifically, a writer. When I was little, I wanted to be a Disney animator, then I wanted to draw comics, then I started writing screenplays, and finally I settled in writing prose (and still screenplays, with an eye toward comic book writing).

Where do you get your information and/or ideas for your books?

I think all my stories probably start with character. I’m thinking back and I’ve very rarely sat down with a plot or story in mind. It usually starts with a character that I become interested in. I follow them around in their life and wait for something exciting to happen. When it doesn’t happen fast enough, I hurl an invading alien armada at him, or something, to liven things up. I want to see how the character will react. Conflict is story, and the conflict that resonates the most—for me—is within the character’s heart during these unreal situations.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

How many have I written, or how many have been published? On the published side, my first credit was in 2001, writing the novelization for the Christian film Time Changer with Rich Christiano. Ten years later (!), I debuted The Strange Man—the first book in The Coming Evil Trilogy—for Realms Fiction. Now, this year, we’ve got the second installment, Enemies of the Cross. So I count three novels published, but I’ve finished three more (one of them being the third and final chapter in the trilogy), and I’m about halfway through another. I stay busy.

As for which one is my favorite, it’s a total cheat, but I have to say the entire The Coming Evil Trilogy. I’ve banged this drum enough, but this series has been my passion since 1998/9 when I first conceived it as a screenplay. The three books work together to tell a single story, and it’s one that I couldn’t be happier with. It’s a genre that I adore and it’s a message that resonates with every atom of my being—that is, standing up for right and not being afraid to stare down the devil. I spent a great deal of my life being afraid, so I’m all about spiritual empowerment.

I guess the logical question, now, would be: Out of the Trilogy, which one is your favorite? A tough question, indeed…

What would you say is the best and/or worst part about being a writer?

I think the best is when you get really excited about the particular story you’re working on. When it all stretches out before you like a big budget summer blockbuster and you’re just watching it in awe, trying to write as fast as you possibly can to describe to the Reader everything you’re seeing.

The worst part is when you’ve done all of that and people don’t “get” it. They don’t see the movie that’s in your head; they don’t feel it like you do. You’ve lived with a story and you’ve bled to see it come to life and then someone reads it, shrugs and goes “meh” and moves on. That’s tough.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Nothing! Writing exhausts way more brain cells than I have to offer, I fear. So, when I’m not writing—which is rarely—I want to just veg out in front of the TV, pop in a movie, and enjoy the ride.

Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet?

My wife and I have talked about going to Maine. Maybe soon we’ll do that.

Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?

Favorite movie, hmm. I guess it depends on the kind of mood I’m in, but I think I’d have to go with the entire Back to the Future Trilogy. Cheating again! There’s something magical about those movies that just makes me feel safe and happy. It’s like an old, warm blanket on a cold winter’s night when you have nothing you have to do but enjoy the quiet. Every couple years I like to sit down one Saturday morning and have a marathon where I watch all three films back-to-back-to-back. On the horror side, I think I have to go with The Monster Squad. That movie is so rad.

Favorite song? How can you choose! If I absolutely had to, perhaps I’d pick “The Creature Crawlin’” by Frank Black. I know, I know, it’s an odd one. But that’s another one—as soon as that song kicks in, I totally mellow out and just want to take a nice twilight drive on an old back country road. I listen to all kinds of music. From AC/DC to Sam Cooke to Better Than Ezra to scary movie scores. I write to music, so whatever the scene calls for is what I’ve got pumping through my headset.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? 

Man, you’re just intent to make me think hard… I’m especially fond of Hebrews 11—the “heroes of faith” chapter—but I’m partial to the latter half of that chapter. The first half are all of the heroes who “won” by conquering their present troubles, but I’m especially proud of those men and women of faith who contested for the cause, but died before they saw any glory or reward on Earth. Those are super heroes to me. In light of that, I’d probably choose 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 or something equally dealing with good triumphing over evil.

Are you currently working on any new novels? If so, could you tell us about them?

I’ve finished a new novel called Rift Jump. It’s sort of a departure for me as it’s primarily a sci-fi/interdimensional love story about these two teenage runaways, hopping across parallel universes, falling in love and trying to stay two steps ahead of some shapeless evil in the dark spaces In-Between the universes. It’s pretty wild, but a lot of fun. I’m going the indie route with that, and it’ll be published by Splashdown Darkwater sometime this summer.

Thank you so much for being here! Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers and where can we find you on the web? 

Thank you for having me, Melanie! I’m easy to find. Folks can stop by my site at www.thecomingevil.blogspot.com to stay updated on me and my projects. We even do author interviews over there and have a good time.

Book Giveaway!



Enter to win Enemies of the Cross! Giveaway is only open to the US.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter below (here is a tutorial, if you aren't familiar with Rafflecopter). The mandatory entry is to leave a comment on this blog post - after you do that, the other entries will become available. :) 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sunday, April 22, 2012

24 Hour Read-a-Thon - Third Update


Thought I'd do another update... although I haven't read anything since the last one! I watched the hockey game (the Blackhawks won!!) and since then have been doing some other stuff (and occasionally grinning for no reason except that the Blackhawks won!). It was a great game! Went to overtime and Captain Jonathan Toews got the winning goal!!! Can you tell I'm a Blackhawks fan?

There is still around 4 hours left in the read-a-thon, but I don't think I'll get that much reading done (I'm getting kinda tired *yawn*).

How are all of you doing in the read-a-thon? Hopefully better than me. :)
Saturday, April 21, 2012

24 Hour Read-a-thon - Second Update!!


In about an hour and a half I'll be taking a break to watch the hockey game (hoping the Blackhawks win!), here is my progress so far:

Books read:

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Pages read:

180

Currently reading:


I'm just starting this! :)

Read-a-Thon Update!


Update:

What book I'm reading: Lily by B.J. Bassett
Pages read: 53 of 180 (29%)

I've been taking a lot of breaks... have to keep reading! Hope to finish this book in a couple of hours. :)

24 Hour Read-a-thon!



This is the first time I'm participating in this read-a-thon and it sounds like so much fun! I have a ton of books on my shelf that I hope to read during this read-a-thon! I'm going to try to stay up doing the entire RaT, but if I feel like I might faint from tiredness, I'll take a nap (lol).

Here are the books I hope to read:


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I tried to pick books that weren't that long...

Here are the book's page count: 

Lily: 180


I doubt I'll be able to read ALL these books in 24 hours (I'm not that fast of a reader), and I will be taking a break to watch the Blackhawks game (I do NOT want to miss that), but I'm hoping I'll be able to read a lot!  :)
Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekend Report (#26) and Giveaway Winner!

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Weekend Report is where I share what I accomplished (book-wise) the previous week! Feel free to join along and post your own Weekend Report on your blog/site. If you do, please leave the URL in a comment below.


What I'm currently reading:



Just starting... hope I like it. :)

What I've read this week:




What I think I'll read next:




*not including tomorrow*

Reviews posted this week:


Current Giveaways!



Enter to win N.H.I.: No Humans Involved by Ray Ellis! Open Internationally! Here is the link to enter.

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Enter to win The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer! US only. Here is the link to enter.



Enter to win By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer! US and Canada. Here is the link to enter.

Giveaway winner!



The winner of Prowl by Amber Garza is...

Sandy! 


Congratulations!

~

So that's what I accomplished (book-wise) this week, what about you?