Friday, 31 July 2009

Friendship Friday ~ What do you value in your close friendships with women?

Tamara Tilley

What I value the most with my dearest friend, is that our friendship is timeless. Vicki used to live and work at Hume Lake, the Christian Conference Center where I presently live and work. We would work out with each other in the gym in the wee hours of the
morning, and snatch moments together throughout the day. When she moved to Fresno, I was afraid that we would lose our connection. We both lead such busy lives and the distance between us now is about two hours. Our work schedules don’t line up so we don’t get many opportunities to visit. But our friendship is still as strong today as ever. When one of us calls the other, we fall easily into conversation with each other. We don’t keep track of who called last, or get angry when a call is not returned. We know we are each very busy and time slips away easily. We do not waste valuable moments on the phone making excuses as to why it’s been so long since we talked. We just choose to appreciate each phone call or brief visit, and hold each other up in prayer throughout the week.


Full Disclosure - Abandoned I
dentity - Criminal Obsession

Michelle Sutton

There are so many things I am not sure where to start. With older women there is mentoring and lots of hugs to be gained. I lost my mother when she passed away in 1998 and it has left a gap in my heart that only a mom can fill. Since that time I have felt more drawn to women in their 60s than I have ever before (I'm 42). Sometimes you can really share your heart with an older woman and the special bond that develops makes you feel like you are family. I can't tell my mother things about my current life and what is going on with my kids but I can tell an older woman friend who has been there, done that. I love hugs from my "sisters" in Christ and giving/receiving words of encouragement. I also enjoy mentoring younger women. My boys are both in high school so I've learned a lot I can share with them. This life is hard, so every word that lifts me up or that I can share (from my heart) that lifts someone else up brings us that much closer together. I love my girlfriends. I can laugh with them and cry with them and we feel like sisters in every way even though we aren't related in the flesh. I also adore my cyber friends. I'm a visual person so seeing something in print like, "your story really blessed me" does more for my heart than hearing someone say it in passing. I can function for weeks on those few words. Women are just special to me. Ironically, I didn't care much for my female friends when I was a teenager - and at that time I wasn't a Christian yet myself. They drained me with their boring problems and everything they talked about seemed petty to me. I guess when you have a chronically ill parent like I did you want to slap petty people and say, "enough whining already. Thank God for what you do have." But that's harsh, I know. I've learned since coming to faith in Christ to be patient and offer grace to people who are not necessarily my type of people or who don't see the world the way I do. Oh, and best of all, I love to talk about books and share a great book with a friend. There is so much amazing conversation that can take place surrounding a wonderful story. Okay, so I wrote a novel with my answer. Did you expect any less? Hehehe. Forgive me. :)

It's Not About Me - It's Not About Him

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Colleen Coble's Shannon Astor & Jack MacGowan

Today the spotlight shines on..........................Shannon Astor & Jack MacGowan

You are always in for a treat when you pick up a Colleen Coble story ~ great characters, interesting locations and top notch writing are assured. Colleen's Lonestar series is set in Texas so there are plenty of wild horses, big hats and matching hearts!

Over to you, Colleen:~

Brief physical description

Shannon is a true natural blonde with hair that is almost white it's so light. And piercing deep blue eyes. I used to do color analysis as a profession so I'll tell
you she's a spring and she looks fabulous in reddish orange and greens.

Elisha Cuthbert would be close though her blue eyes aren't a
s vivid as Shannon's.

Jack has very dark hair and green eyes. He's a cowboy, a man's man.
Jack is a young Pierce Brosnan with green eyes instead of blue.

Strengths and weaknesses

Shannon has had some hard knocks in life and she's managed to overcome them with the inner well of strength she possesses. But she thinks the less someone knows about her, the better off she is so she's prone to hiding things and keeping s
ecrets. That's a source of conflict between her and Jack. She also has MS and her driving passion is to make sure her daughter is taken care of if she's ever unable to work. Jack is a man who loves deeply and completely with no holds barred, but he also has high expectations.

Quirk (if any)

Shannon is obsessed with the wild black stallion that roams her ranch. When she was a child, she thought she saw a horn on him at night and swore he was a unicorn.

Your inspiration for the character

I've watched a friend battle with MS and keep it under control and I wanted to write about that strength.

Background to the story

I've always been fascinated with twin stories and how separated twins sometimes never know they have a twin. I started rolling that idea around and came up with this twist on the twin story. Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks Colleen :) Loved Lonestar Sanctuary so I'm looking forward to relaxing with your new story.

On Monday, the spotlight shines on Julie Carobini's Tara Sweet & Josh Adams from the newly released Sweet Waters ~ come back and find out more :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of Lonestar Sanctuary and Cry in the Night

Visit Colleen's
website and blog

Buy Colleen's books at
Amazon or Koorong

Book Trailer for B J Hoff's Where Grace Abides

BJ Hoff's latest Amish story has been given the book trailer treatment by the fabulous folk at Pulse Point Design!

Check it out :)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Getting to know Claudia Mair Burney

Claudia Mair Francis is a fascinating woman and brilliant author whose words flow with integrity and directness. With a large family, dealing with illness, writing that stems from her heart and deep faith, Claudia is an author well worth discovering. I was thrilled when asked by TitleTrakk to interview Mair and her response has been so gracious to my little ol' questions :)

Over to you, Mair:~

If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?

I did choose some of my names. Mair Francis goes right between Claudia Burney. They are in honor of my patron saints, Mary of Egypt and Francis of Assisi.

Your first pet's name?

I think she was a mongrel named Princess. Don't quote me on that. I'm doing well to remember my current pet's name is Peter, affectionately called “Bun Bun.”

Your best fr
iend's name in primary (elementary) school?

Her name was Patricia Robinson. She was sweet, and funny, and told me I had to write, even then. She died 14 years ago of cancer. I still miss her.

Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.

Yes, I did. She was an enormous doll named Tammy. She was taller than I was, so I drug her by the hair. Needless to say, she didn't h
ave much hair left. But I loved her, until I believed her to be possessed, at which time I dropped that heifer like a bad habit.

If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you? (Besides your Bible)

A pimped out, fully loaded Kindle! With solar power. N
o, make that an iPhone with the same.

What's your favourite ice cream flavour?

Peppermint, but it's seasonal. LOL. Remember that line from The Lovely Bones?


What did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer. An artist. God's been good to me.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Italy with my BFF. That's a plan.

Favourite book?

Mariette in Ecstasy, a scrumptious novel abo
ut a stigmatic nun by Ron Hansen. Hey, did you read my novel Wounded?

Rel: Not yet but my friend just did and she loved she loves all your books :)

Favourite movie?

It's a Wonderful Life. I cry every time.

Blues, rock, jazz or classical music?

Jazz if I had to choose from your list, but I prefer rhythm and blues
or neo soul.

Scrapbooking, knitting, cooking or meditation?

Meditation. I'm heady that way.

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

Swaziland. Oh. My. Gosh
! It's incredible, and it felt like home.

Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock) or Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Great Barrier Reef.

What's your most fervent prayer?

Lord, have m

What is your favourite Bible verse (or "one" of your favourites) and what does it mean to

Blessed are the poor in spirit. To me it means I'm completely reliant on Him for everything, and He's good
with that.

Besides God, who has influenced you the most?

A lot of people formed the woman I am. I'm a real mixed bag of investments people made into my soul.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?

Stayed alive when I had no desire to.

What was your most em
barrassing moment in High School?

Freshman through senior year.

How did your husband propose?

He didn't. He made a joke about sneaking off and getting married, and I ran with it. I wish I'd have trusted him and his love, or myself, that I was worthy of love. That would have changed everything.

What is the best advice you have received about marriage?

Sometimes, you'll hate it. Sometimes you'll look at the person beside you in bed and wonder how you ever got into this mess. It's then that commitment kicks in. It's not about how you “feel” much of the time. They also told me that loving feeling would return, but I'm grateful they prepared me for the rough days.

You have 7 children (fabulous!) - how do you fit writing around all your other responsibilities?

Ken is kind enough to take on the “responsibilities” while I hole up in our bedroom with imaginary people. Part of this is because along with being a writer, I have a chronic pain disease, which diminishes me considerably. I'm always grateful when I open the door and everybody is still there, and the
y still love me.

You describe yourself as “the soul-child of many saints” - please share

Did I say that? Ha! It sounds like something I'd say.

The greatest gift liturgical churches gave me was a connection to a vast network of God lovers who have gone on to glory before me. I'd always read th
at part of the Creed that said, “I believe in the communion of saints,” but I took that to mean other Christians. Living, breathing ones! On earth, not in heaven! Hanging out with Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Christians introduced me to saints like John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Mary of Egypt, and more. Their teaching and lives inspire me. Change me. That's what I mean when I say I'm their soul-child.

The Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries

What or whom was your inspiration for Bell?

My great-grandmother. I wanted her name to carry on in this world a little whi
le longer, and to loan her my success since she had so little opportunity.

Describe each of your main characters with one word

Amanda Bell Brown - Resilient

Jazz Brown - Fine!

Your characte
rs have “flaws galore”! Why is it important to you not to gloss over weaknesses?

I have too many to overcome myself. I'd be the biggest liar in Christian fiction if I didn't give my characters the struggles so familiar to me.
I serve the broken, people who can admit their woundedness. If you aren't Christ haunted and cracked, you probably won't like my books.

What do you hope readers take away from your stories about Bell and Jazz?

That God loves you even if you are a mess, and whatever fledgling love you have for the people in your life can go a long way. So love!

You are unflinchingly honest in your writing which I love ~ has that made it difficult to get published in the CBA?

Thanks, Rel. I appreciate your support.
It was ridiculously easy for me. God showed off! I got one grace after another. I think my voice was needed. God opened the doors; ready or not there I was. Now staying here is another matter. I think it's over for me here, especially now that I'm Catholic. But God knows. I would have never thought I'd be here in the first place.

What is in your writing pipeline? No pressure but a sneak peek would be lovely!

I just finished writing my first non-fiction book about one of those saints I love so much, Teresa of Avila. It's a fun pilgrimage through her amazing teachings on prayer. It's written especially for Protestants who would have had little exposure to her work, or to saints in general. It's a very fun, whimsical book. Paraclete Press is publishing it next Spring or Fall. Next to hit the bookstores is The Exorsistah 2: X Returns. Published
by Pocket Books it's due out in the Spring, also. Here's a peek:

Chapter One

I hate demons. A legion of them held my mama captive in her own body a while back. For a long time after that I felt there was nothing I could do. But that particular morning - the morning I turned eighteen - seemed so full of new mercies and possibilities. I, Emme Vaughn had no reason to hide anymore.

It took me two lumbering buses and an expensive cab--complete with ogling driver--to get to Saint Dymphna's Psychiatric Hospital. But I made it. I even dressed the part. Of a post-modern, urban-girl exorcist, that is. I wore all black: skinny jeans, a cute scarf-dress, and glorious stiletto Prada boots. An onyx rosary hung around my neck.

It was seventy-eight degrees outside. September sunshine warmed my shoulders like a kiss from God. All I had to do was strut into that hospital and kick some devil butt.

There was just one problem; my feet refused to cooperate. The imposing brown, brick building towered above me like Goliath over David, and I was terrified. In cases like this, I usually have one of three responses: I plow through with courage, I bolt away, or I blabber to buy myself time.

I chose courage. But I needed to get myself amped up first.

Got your word, Emme?

I looked down at my Bible wrapped in a pair of dark Levi's and tucked in the corner of my duffel bag.


The jeans would protect the good book from getting knocked around. Not that my bag held much, just everything I owned: a few articles of clothing Francis bought me; a Russian icon from his Godmother, Mother Nicole; my GED paperwork; my Michigan State ID card; a pair of black Timberland boots.

I fingered one of the shiny rosary beads around my neck to calm my nervousness. “Rosary in place,” I muttered, then trailed my fingers to the Saint Benedict Jubilee Cross medal across my chest.

This made me think of Francis, who gave me the medal after a nasty incubus tried to violate me. If I'm ever looking for a reason to pray, the memory of that a lust-crazed demon does it every time.

I continued down my mental checklist, hoping to summon more courage.

Prayed up?


Kick butt diva boots for whooping devil head, while still looking fly?

My gaze fell to my feet and beheld the butter-soft Puh-rah-dah on my feet.


Francis gave me those as a birthday present. A group of demons projectile vomited all over the last pair he bought me.

I took a long, deep breath and made sure all the hell-busting gadgets I needed were accounted for. Now it was time to move, only fear paralyzed me.

Time to get your act together, sistah. You're a grown woman now. What happened to your 'tude? These boots aren't made for walking!

The kicks brought Francis to mind yet again.

I should have asked him to come. It would have only taken us an hour to get here in his Camry. We could have listened to music on his iPhone. Chilled. Maybe I'd have let the brotha hold my hand.

I smiled to think of that.

I might have let him smooch me again, too.

That thought made me blush.

Warm feelings aside, my thoughts of Francis were a distraction and did nothing to propel me forward. There I was, standing alone in front of a psychiatric hospital with a million thoughts running through my head. You'd think I'd have sense enough to go in, but no.

I shuffled my feet and glanced at my boots again. The next step was getting harder and harder to take. I glanced around to see if anyone was watching me. An old man sitting on a bench in front of the hospital looked up from his sandwich and smiled at me.

I smiled a small, friendly smile back at him and knew I couldn't stand there any longer. I was beginning to look like someone who needed to be admitted.

There was just one last thing to do before I walked in. I needed to pray.

According to my mama, the Lord's Prayer takes care of everything. It's worship, petition, confession, and even has an exorcism built into it.

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” I whispered. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.”

I took a step towards the hospital.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

I took another step.

And forgive us--”

I couldn't go on. What kind of daughter was I? I hadn't shown my face in three years. The fear of getting caught was only part of the reason I hadn't visited mama more often. I also didn't want to see her looking like she did last time. Standing there, my heart beat wildly as the memories came flooding back. I remembered when the orderly opened the door and I saw an emaciated figure on the bed. Her skin was the color of caramel, just like Mama's--a color I knew so well because I used to envy it. I'm dark-skinned. Kids can be brutal.

I was about tell the orderly he'd brought me into the wrong room when the sickly woman turned her head and looked at me. Her skin looked like it'd tear it was stretched so taut across the bones in her face. But it was the unmistakable mole beneath her left eyelid that led to my undoing. Mama had always called it her beauty mark.

A scream stuck in my throat.

My mama was always beautiful and had long, black curls that fell down her back. But this person - bound by restraints, smelling of urine, and smiling at me with broken teeth - looked like an old, discarded doll.

Mama's glassy eyes fixed on mine, and something vile and haunting inside of her seemed to stare back at me. I knew she was in this condition because of me.

Now just feet from the hospital's entrance, I was doing my best to take another step forward. I shook my head. Tears slipped down my cheek I hadn't realize I'd shed.

I'm sorry, Lord. I'm ready for this. Not at all.

The old man from the bench walked past me, up the steps and through the automatic doors.

I don't know if it was love or guilt urging me on, but I followed the old man in. I had to. Sometimes false bravado and a promise is all a sistah has.

Thanks for having me, Rel. May God grant you peace.

It has been a pleasure and privilege, Mair :) Anytime at all!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man & Deadly Charm
Character spotlight on Jazz & Bell Brown
Visit Mair's website and blog
Buy Mair's books at Amazon or Koorong

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Special Character Spotlight ~ Randy Singer's Jason Noble

Today the spotlight shines on............................Jason Noble

Randy Singer is a must read author in my book! His brilliant courtroom dramas are filled with intriguing characters, plenty of unexpected twists and with his latest, The Justice Game, an ending determined by his readers!

Don't miss this insight into his young protagonist, Jason Noble and be sure to run out and get a copy of The Justice Game!

Thanks Randy:~

Brief physical description

I hope this is not cheating but I pulled a couple of descriptive passages from the book:

“Jason didn’t have the stone-carved
jaw of a movie actor, but he was in good shape and had received more than a few comments about his eyes. ‘Sleepy.’ ‘Intriguing.’ Or, on courtroom days like today, when he had his green contacts inserted, ‘piercing.’”

Later in the book, I share Kelly Starling’s first impressions about Jason—Kelly is the lawyer opposing Jason in the case.

“When Jason Noble and Case McA
llister came walking down the aisle, Kelly sized them up, positioning herself so it looked like she was talking to her client. McAllister looked old, weathered, and confident, walking with a slight limp. His thin and rounded shoulders revealed his age, but his eyes were sharp, and he had a sly half-smile on his face, as if surveying a masterpiece he had just painted. Jason Noble was young and decent-looking, in a carefree surfer sort of way. He had penetrating green eyes and dark shaggy hair. He looked like maybe he had just left a frat party at the University of Georgia, the yin to Case McAllister’s yang.

Kelly made
a note—Jason would probably do okay with young female jurors. But other than a kind of roguish charm, she couldn’t figure out why MD Firearms might have chosen him to help on the case. He was only two years out of law school—nearly five years younger than she. And Kelly herself was relatively young and inexperienced to be trying a case of such magnitude. Jason, she concluded, was probably just there to carry Case McAllister’s briefcase.

Actor/famous person

This is hard because I really didn’t have a famous person in mind as I created Jason. However, I think the closest celebrity is Jim Sturgess, especially as seen in his role in 21—a geeky rogue trying to make his way in a world where he
is incredibly gifted but also out of his element.

Strengths and weaknesses

He is a gifted performer which makes him a very talented trial lawyer. I remember as a law student clerking at a firm in New York and telling an experienced lawyer that I thought my debate background would help me do well in trials. His reply: “Not really. If you want to prepare for a career as a trial lawyer, try acting.”

One of Jason’s greatest strengths is that he is a gifted actor. He has an innate flair for the dramatic and an ability to connect with people. But, like many great performers, he is ill-at-ease around people in social settings. He has a number of weaknesses. A very rocky relationship with his father. A devastating past secret that he would do anything to cover up. And a willingness to sometimes push the ethical limits if he believes a higher cause is at stake.

His biggest challenge is maintaining the front of being a laid-back and self-confident trial lawyer when he actually feels like he’s going to throw up at any moment.

Quirk (if any)

I don’t know if you’d call this a quir
k, but he is rather shy around women. This can lead to some erratic (though not necessarily quirky) behavior.

Your inspiration for the character

Jason came about because I wanted to explore the dynamics of living with a devastating secret and how that secret affects someone emotionally an
d spiritually. Blackmail is the order of the day in The Justice Game and Jason must decide whether to come clean about his past or compromise his client’s case in order to keep the past under wraps. I once heard Rick Warren say that courage comes when you have nothing left to hide. I wanted to explore that in the life of Jason. I also wanted to look at the conflicted life of a person who tries to project an image that is very different from who that person really is at the core of his being.

Background to the story

After the target of an investigative report storms a Virginia Beach news studio, he executes one of the reporters on live television before the SWAT team is able to take him down. Fol
lowing the victim’s funeral, her family files a lawsuit against the gun company who manufactured the killer’s weapon of choice.

The lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant—Kelly Starling and Jason Noble—are young, charismatic, and highly successful. They’re also easy blackmail targets, each harboring a personal s
ecret so devastating it could destroy their careers. Millions of dollars—and more than a few lives—are at stake. But as Kelly and Jason battle each other, they discover that the real fight is with unseen players intent on controlling them both.

Wonderful insight, as always - thanks so much, Randy :) I always enjoy anticipating what you are going to come up with next!

On Thursday the spotlight shines on Colleen Coble's Shannon Astor & Jack MacGowan from Lonestar Secrets - yay!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of By Reason of Insanity

Character spotlight on Quinn Newberg from By Reason of Insanity

Visit Randy's website

Buy Randy's books at Amazon or Koorong

Book Trailer ~ Jamie Carie's Angel's Den

Jamie Carie continues to write evocative and passionate love stories while beautifully portraying a time in history with fascinating detail. In Angel's Den, Jamie brings the early 1800s to life as her characters travel the trail blazed by Lewis & Clarke across America to the Pacific Ocean.

Jamie is doing some travelling of her own so check out her schedule and follow her book tour journey!

Look for Angel's Den in February, won't be disappointed!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Kaye Dacus' William Ransome & Julia Witherington

Today the spotlight shines on Capt. William Ransome & Julia Witherington

Kaye Dacus follows her contemporary novels with a Regency Era romance about a proud Naval captain and an heiress to a Jamaican sugar plantation. For lovers of historical romance, all the ingredients are present so what are you waiting for?

Enjoy this insight into William and Julia! Thanks, Kaye:~

Brief physical description

Captain William Ransome

Thirty-four years old. He's been at sea since he was twelve, serving under Captain, then Admiral Sir Edward Witherington. Though I never give his exact height in the novel, he's not overly tall--after all, if he were, he'd be hitting his head on those low beams in the ship! William has dark, wavy hair and intense, pale-blue eyes. And he looks good in a uniform!

Think Paul McGann.

Julia Witherington

Though she'll be thirty in just a few weeks, Julia can still pass for a much younger woman. Not classically beautiful--her round cheeks and slightly pointy chin keep her from that--she has deep green eyes and luxurious, thick hair the color of polished mahogany with sunlight bouncing off it.

Think Anna Friel.

Strengths and weaknesses:

William is trustworthy, loyal, and honorable--sometimes to his own detriment. After all, it was his overly heightened sense of honor that made him decide to walk away from Julia instead of proposing to her twelve years ago.

Julia holds on to the past a little too much--whether it's refusing to admit that her twin brother, lost at sea at age fifteen, is truly gone or making the decision to never forgive William for breaking her heart. But she also took over the running of her father's sugar plantation in Jamaica as a teenager when her mother succumbed to melancholia and could no longer handle it. She is a protector by nature--and tries to protect both her inheritance and William from the machinations of her unscrupulous relatives.

Quirk (if any)

Because of his position as someone who must maintain tight control over a crew of more than eight hundred men, William has learned to mask his reactions and emotions. Great for on board ship, not so great for the drawing room.

Julia would rather talk about the tariffs on imported sugar than fashion, making her an oddity in the level of society in which she now finds herself. She can plan a dinner party for twenty with ease, but could not for the life of her pick out a morning dress from a walking dress.

Your inspiration for the character

The inspiration for the entire trilogy came from my infatuation with the character of Lieutenant William Bush, as portrayed by Paul McGann, in the Horatio Hornblower movies. In the third movie in which he appears, he tells Horatio that he doesn't know if there's ever a good time for a naval officer to marry--which of course got my creative wheel turning. What kind of woman would it take to make him change his mind? And out of that seed grew William Ransome and Julia Witherington.

Background to the story

When young Julia Witherington doesn't receive the proposal for marriage she expects from William Ransome, she determines to never forgive him. They go their separate ways--she returns to her family's Caribbean plantation, and he returns to the Royal Navy.

Now, twelve years later, Julia is about to receive a substantial inheritance, including her beloved plantation. When unscrupulous relatives try to gain the inheritance by forcing her into a marriage, she turns to the only eligible man to whom her father, Admiral Sir Edward Witherington, will not object--his most trusted captain and the man who broke Julia's heart, William Ransome. Julia offers William her thirty-thousand-pound dowry to feign marriage for one year, but then something she never imagined happens: She starts to fall in love with him again.

Can two people overcome their hurt, reconcile their conflicting desires, and find a way to be happy together? Duty and honor, faith and love are intertwined in this intriguing tale from the Regency era.

Thanks Kaye - I am in the middle of Willam and Julia's story now :) Looking forward to getting back to it!

Tomorrow I have a special spotlight on Randy Singer's Jason Noble from his newly released, The Justice Game - it is great :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Kaye's website

Buy Kaye's books at Amazon or Koorong

Special Extras from Kaye


For more information and images of characters in Ransome's Honor, visit:

To learn more about the inspiration behind the Ransome Trilogy, visit:

And for more images of the characters and settings in the Ransome Trilogy, visit:

The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson & Aussie Giveaway

When Mary-Margaret Danaher met Jude Keller, the lightkeeper's son, she was studying at convent school on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude-rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude.

After sojourning as a medical missions sister in Swaziland, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. Jude, too, returns to the island, dissolute and hardened. Mary-Margaret can hardly believe it when the Spirit tells her she must marry the troubled boy who befriended her all those years ago, forsaking the only life she ever wanted for a man she knows she'll never love.

My take:~

Want out of the ordinary, brave and confronting writing that will leave you wondering if it ever gets much better? Lisa Samson is your gal! The Passion of Mary-Margaret is beautiful and haunting as it delves into the secret depths of a woman's heart and the conflicting passion she has for her God and a man embittered by a fractured childhood and licentious lifestyle. Brilliant characterisation by Lisa brings Mary-Margaret, Jude, Sister Angelica and every other character to grace the pages of this book, to tangible life with their failings and strengths authentically displayed. Reading this book takes concentration for which you will be well rewarded ~ it is written in both past and present tense and in true Samson style, complex issues of faith, morality and human pain are tackled with candour and without apology. Redemption and sacrifice are indelible parts of the Christian experience but The Passion of Mary-Margaret will make you look a little closer at the peace and hope God offers.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Embrace Me
Visit Lisa's website
Buy Lisa's books at Amazon or Koorong

Aussie Giveaway

I have a copy of this book to give away :) To enter:~

Have an Aussie mailing address and post a comment by Sunday 2nd August, 2009 ~ easy peasy!

The winners are....

Sweet Waters

US winners ~ Becca & Brenda

Aussie winners ~ Leola & Ausjenny

Through the Fire ~ mez

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy reading these stories :)
An email is on its way to you and I will need your details within 7 days to claim your prize.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Special Character Spotlight ~ Robert Liparulo's Xander King & signed giveaway

Today the spotlight shines on...........................Xander King

Xander is the eldest King sibling and is trying to work out his place in the world! Bob has given lots of detail on Xander and we would love to know your thoughts about Xander as you have read the books.

XANDER KING (The Dreamhouse Kings)

Brief physical description

Fifteen-year-old Xander—Alexander—has dark, shabby hair, blue eyes, and that mid-teenage body that’s getting a little lanky without filling out yet. He’s not ready to start shaving, but that doesn’t stop him from checking for upper-lip hairs everyday. He’s a good looking guy, who had a girlfriend back in Pasadena. He’s anxious to grow up, to experience the freedom that a driver’s license will give him, to get on with what he thinks he’s going to do in life—be a film maker. Having grown up in the Los Angeles area, he’s a little keener about person style than a lot of kids his age, which for him translates into a kind of shabby chic way of dressing: blue jeans and button-down shirts or hip tee shirts.

Actor/famous person

It’s interesting, I get more recommendations—mostly from teenage girls—about who should play Xander in a Dreamhouse movie than I do any other character. The two actors who’ve received the most votes, by far, are Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia, Journey to the Center of the Earth) and Logan Lerman (Jack and Bobby, Hoot, 3:10 to Yuma), with Logan barely edging out Josh. Personally, I’d lean toward Logan in terms of fitting Xander’s physical characteristics and personality. But I think both actors may be a little too old now to actually play the part. You never know, though; older actors often play younger characters. They’re both good actors, who’ve shown the emotional range it would take to play Xander, who goes through the gamut from incredible sadness to anger, fear, and joy. If a movie eventually does make into production—and it is heading in that direction right now—there may be a whole bunch of new, young actors who’d fill Xander’s shoes perfectly.

Strengths and weaknesses

Like a lot of teenagers, who can’t wait to embrace what life has to offer, Xander wants to get things done—now. In the Dreamhouse story, this comes out in a way that a lot of people can relate to: He wants to find Mom, to go get her, to keep going into world after world until they get her back. But in the same way that David’s heart can lead him into trouble, so can Xander’s gung-ho attitude. In Timescape (Dreamhouse #4), his anxiousness moves him to go with his brother into a very bad world, where they find themselves facing a horde of Viking berserkers. At every turn, Xander wants to press on, even when he’s injured and utterly exhausted. At one point, he tells David, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” It takes Keal, an ex-Army Ranger who’s helping the family, to finally convince Xander that “soldiers need sleep like they need food and water and oxygen.” And it takes Dad’s firm hand to teach him that all his undirected or misdirected energy is like a racecar without a steering wheel. Slowly, Xander begins to appreciate Dad’s more methodical approach to rescuing Mom.

Under all that energy and teenage angst beats a heart that would do anything for his family. When we first meet him, he’s a little standoffish with his siblings, David, 12, and Toria, 9. The family’s crisis exposes his true feelings for them: he starts to see David as a friend and capable compatriot in their struggle against the forces aligned against them, and he becomes almost paternal in his protectiveness for his sister. Despite his yearning to be his own man, he realizes that he is part of a pretty cool family, and they all have to work together to rescue Mom.

He has a special relationship with his mother. When she was around, they would sometimes act like buddies, sharing inner thoughts with each other and laughing at jokes the other family members didn’t get. Mom understands Xander better than even Dad does. She appreciates his unique time of life, what he’s going through to discover who he is. In the first book, she shows him a little stash of cash that she’s been saving for years to eventually get him his own car. In part, it’s this closeness that fuels Xander’s near-manic drive to rescue her. I suspect most teenagers feel this way about their mothers, even if they go out of their way to hide it. The Kings’ situation forces Xander to be more honest about his love for her than he perhaps otherwise would have been.

As far as weaknesses, Xander tends to be combative. If someone disagrees with him—especially Dad—he wants to know why, and doesn’t always listen to reason. Also, his belief that he’s right and everybody else is wrong often leads him to disobey his father. Unfortunately, he usually talks his brother into going along with him, which—in the dreamhouse—puts them both in grave danger. For me, Xander and Dad’s differing approaches to getting mom back presents an interesting dilemma: obey Dad or rescue Mom? I sometimes have a hard disagreeing with Xander’s disobedience. It’s an issue that eventually comes to a head, and I think both Xander and Dad reach a compromise that works for both of them—it’s one of the hurdles the family has to get over to reach a point where they are truly working together for a common goal.

Quirk (if an

Xander is seriously movie-crazy. He watches all sorts of films, from obscure foreign ones to commercial blockbusters. He relates almost everything that happens to him to a movie. That’s where the first book gets its title. When Xander first sees the creepy ancient house the family eventually moves into, it reminds him of the house in the old TV series, Dark Shadows and one of its off-shoot movies, House of Dark Shadows. He wants make movies for a living, and has had some success making short films, which he’s posted to You Tube. He’s definitely not happy about moving from Pasadena, which is right next to Hollywood, to Pinedale. But for a while (actually, for the remaining books in the series), he’s too busy trying to find Mom and stay alive to notice. He does get to use some of the knowledge he’s gleaned from movies to get himself out of sticky situations. In Frenzy (book #6), he applies a trick from a Clint Eastwood to save David’s life.

Your inspiration for the character

I think Xander embodies every teenager I’ve ever met. Besides having reared two of my own, I remember myself at Xander’s age. Of course. I was a movie buff, so I understand Xander’s obsession. I was also pretty obnoxious, as well. I used to get into arguments with my father over the smallest things. I see now that it had less to do with trying to always be right than it was asserting my right or ability to challenge him. I love talking to high school classes (Xander’s in tenth grade), because I always meet kids who in one way or another remind me of Xander.

Background to the story

The King family moves to a small town in northern California, so Dad could take a job as principal of the local middle and high school. They move into a run-down Victorian home, where they find a hidden hallway of doors. Each door leads to a portal to a different time in history. Trouble is, not only can they go from the house to the past, people from the past can come through into their house. Someone does—and kidnaps Mom, taking her into some unknown place in the past. The Kings—primarily David and Xander—begin a quest for Mom, which takes them to many dangerous and incredible places throughout time. We slowly learn that the family is in the house for a very specific purpose and they must do much more than “simply” find their mother.

Brilliant detail as ever, Bob :) Thank you for your time and effort in preparing this spotlight for my readers. Looking forward to more fun with Whirlwind and Frenzy to come!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of House of Dark Shadows, Watcher in the Woods & Gatekeepers

Character spotlights on David King & Toria King

Exclusive interview with Bob

Visit Bob's website and blog

Buy Bob's books at Amazon or Koorong

Open Giveaway

To win a signed and personalised copy of Timescape directly from Bob, here's what you've gotta do!
  • Post a comment on or before Sunday 2nd August, 2009 telling me your favourite King kid and why ~ get one entry into the giveaway
  • Refer a new friend to my blog who also posts a comment (email me their name so I know they came from you) ~ get an extra entry into the giveaway for each friend you refer
  • Post a comment on Bob's blog, mentioning Relz Reviewz ~ get another entry into the giveaway for Timescape or a Dreamhouse Kings book of your choice!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...