Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Merlin season 2 starts Friday

This has kind of snuck up on me, but season 2 of Merlin starts THIS Friday on SyFy. Here's a preview:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

By: Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3336-0

About the book:

She’s risking her life to save a man she doesn’t know. But whom can she trust along the way?

It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich after an attempt on Hitler’s life. Gabi Mueller is a young woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (forerunner to the CIA) in Switzerland. When she is asked to put herself in harm’s way to safely “courier” a German scientist who is working on the atomic bomb out of enemy territory, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.


Gabi Mueller is an idealistic Swiss-American working in the translation pool at the local office of the recently formed American Office of Strategic Services (forerunner to the CIA) in Basel, Switzerland. She’s happy to do her part, but longs to make a more exciting, significant impact on the Allied war effort. When she’s recruited by her handsome supervisor to participate in an undercover operation, she’s thrilled – but the increased responsibility comes with a price. Committing to work as a spy brings far more personally imminent dangers home than her old desk job. She must shield her family and would-be admirer from all knowledge of her dangerous work. Thanks to Switzerland’s neutral status, the country is a veritable hotbed of wartime intrigue, and carrying a Swiss passport is no guarantee of protection if one falls afoul of the Nazi government just across the border. In Germany, Joseph Engel is a dedicated physicist, driven by a thirst for knowledge. The military and government pressure on Engel and his fellow researchers to produce a “wunderwaffe” (miracle weapon) that will turn the tide of the war in favor of Germany increases by the day, especially in the wake of the failed Valkyrie assassination plot. When an overeager Gestapo officer uncovers the buried truth about Engel’s past, the academic suddenly becomes the most wanted man of the war on both sides of the conflict. Gabi is given the assignment of “couriering” Engel to safety, a job which will require all of her courage and ingenuity in order to avoid the clutches of the Gestapo.

I’ve read a couple of Tricia Goyer’s previous World War II novels, so I was curious to see how this collaboration with Mike Yorkey would play out. The Swiss Courier’s pages are filled with Goyer’s trademark passion for history, with characters testing their faith in the midst of tumultuous times. She also has a real gift for crafting characters that are true to the time period in which the story is set. What sets this novel apart is that it is quite simply one of the most tightly plotted, suspenseful historicals I’ve ever read. In that respect it reminded me of the film Valkyrie (Courier picks up where that film leaves off). Once the clock starts ticking on the unfolding drama, the story doesn’t relinquish its hold on the reader until the mission’s completion. Filled with an international cast of well-drawn characters (including a couple of surprising hidden identities!) and break-neck plot twists, The Swiss Courier is a thoroughly absorbing, suspenseful read. The only drawback is that action made me feel just the slightest bit gypped when it comes to Gabi’s character development – particularly her 180-turn in how she views her boss – but that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. Goyer and Yorkey’s contributions are seamlessly blended, resulting in a page-turning novel rich in historical detail.

As a devout fan of World War II-era fiction, I happily now rank The Swiss Courier among my favorites in the genre. Goyer’s first collaboration with Yorkey completely exceeded my expectations, and (in my experience, anyway) fills a niche within my reading about the time period. I loved the glimpse inside wartime Switzerland – the official stance of maintaining neutrality between warring factions lends the story a fascinating dynamic. I also enjoyed reading about how downed Allied fighters were interred in Switzerland for the duration of the conflict – it was an interesting historical nugget that I’ve never seen explored in WWII fiction. It’s also heartbreaking to witness the plight of Jewish refugees denied asylum because of Switzerland’s neutrality – to know freedom, only to have it snatched away by political expediency is an unconscionable circumstance the authors drive home through Gabi’s experiences. Don’t let the female-centric cover fool you – The Swiss Courier is a tightly plotted spy thriller with enough twists and turns and surprise reveals to give a reader whiplash. Here’s to hoping for many more collaborations from this stellar writing team!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Masterpiece Classic returns with Sharpe's Challenge

After a few weeks off, Masterpiece Classic returns tomorrow with Sharpe's Challenge, starring Sean Bean. This film aired a couple of years ago on BBC America, but this broadcast marks the first time it's aired on PBS. Here's a bit about the show:
Soldier-adventurer Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) comes out of retirement to find a MIA officer (his old friend Patrick Harper) and to quash a rebellion in British India. Sharpe faces shifting allegiances, the conniving seduction of Madhuvanthi (Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef) and an explosive confrontation with an old foe. Will this be Sharpe's ultimate challenge? Sharpe's Challenge is based on the characters created by novelist Bernard Cornwell.
If that doesn't convince you to watch, this program features appeareances by Lucy Brown from Primeval and TOBY STEPHENS (!!!). :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Masterpiece Mystery 2010 Schedule

PBS has finally, finally released the upcoming Masterpiece Mystery schedule. I am absolutely thrilled with this schedule:

Michael Kitchen returns as Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle in three brand new episodes of the acclaimed series. It is June 1945, and VE Day has been celebrated in Britain. The state of the country, however, is far from jubilant in the aftermath of war. Keen to retire, but bound to his old job by the steep rise in violent crime that swept the country, Foyle is thrust into the dangerous worlds of international conspiracy and execution, military racism and national betrayal. He must feel his way through this new world as he faces some of his toughest challenges and gripping plots to date. (All episodes 90 minutes.)

May 2 Foyle’s War, Series VI: “The Russian House”
May 9 Foyle’s War, Series VI: “Killing Time”
May 16 Foyle’s War, Series VI: “The Hide”

Julia McKenzie is back in the role of Agatha Christie’s spinster sleuth, pursuing a series of new crimes and dark occurrences. Appearances by Hugh Bonneville (Filth, Ms. Austen Regrets) and Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous) round out the stellar cast. (All episodes 90 minutes.)

May 23 Miss Marple, Series V: “The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side”
Jun. 6 Miss Marple, Series IV: “A Pocket Full of Rye” (Encore)
Jun 13 Miss Marple, Series IV: “Murder is Easy” (Encore)
Jun 20 Miss Marple, Series V: “The Secret of Chimneys”
Jun 27 Miss Marple, Series V: “The Blue Geranium”

David Suchet reprises his role as suave detective Hercule Poirot in three new episodes. Whether he’s on holiday or simply going about his business near his London home, Poirot finds himself exercising his “little grey cells” by helping police investigate crimes and murders…whether they ask for his help or not. (All episodes 90 minutes.)

Jul 11 Hercule Poirot, Series X: “Murder on the Orient Express”
Jul 18 Hercule Poirot, Series X: “The Third Girl”
Jul 25 Hercule Poirot, Series X: “Appointment with Death”
Aug 1 Hercule Poirot, Series IX: “Cat Among the Pigeons” (Encore)

Kevin Whately returns for a third season as Inspector Lewis in five new episodes. Once again joined by Laurence Fox (A Room with a View) as Lewis’ young partner DS Hathaway, the detectives continue solving cases in the seemingly perfect academic haven of Oxford. (All episodes 90 minutes.)

Aug 8 Inspector Lewis, Series II: “Allegory of Love” (Encore)
Aug 15 Inspector Lewis, Series II: “Quality of Mercy” (Encore)
Aug 22 Inspector Lewis, Series II: “Point of Vanishing” (Encore)
Aug 29 Inspector Lewis, Series III: “Counter Culture Blues”

Additional Lewis titles to be announced.
You can watch a preview of the new season here. It looks like the schedule is not yet finalized (the Lewis series III eps have apparently not all been assigned broadcast dates yet) since the preview mentions the modern-day Sherlock series and Wallander series II. Perhaps those shows will be incorporated in the Contemporary season? We'll have to wait and see. :) Right now I'm most excited about the return of Foyle's War which is one of the best shows EVER. Seriously.

Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Heart Of Stone
Zondervan (March 1, 2010)


Jill Marie Landis


Jill Marie Landis is the bestselling author of over twenty novels. She has won numerous awards for her sweeping emotional romances, such as Summer Moon and Magnolia Creek. In recent years, as market demands turned to tales of vampires, erotica, and hotter, sexier historical romances, Jill turned to writing Inspirational Western Romances for Steeple Hill Books. She truly feels back in the saddle again, working on stories that are a joy to write. With her toes in the sand and head in the clouds, Jill now lives in Hawaii with her husband, Steve.


Laura Foster, free from the bondage of an unspeakable childhood has struggled to make a new life for herself. Now the owner of an elegant boardinghouse in Glory, Texas, she is known as a wealthy, respectable widow. But Laura never forgets that she is always just one step ahead of her past.

When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. She knows that if her past were discovered, Brand’s reputation would be ruined. But it’d not only Laura’s past that threatens to bring Brand down─it’s also his own.

When a stranger in town threatens to reveal too many secrets, Laura is faced with a heartbreaking choice: Should she leave Glory forever and save Brand’s future? Or is it worth risking his name─and her heart─by telling him the truth?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Heart Of Stone, go HERE

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Princess and the Frog

I finally got around to watching The Princess and the Frog a few days ago. Considering how excited I was about the Disney return to hand-drawn animation when the movie was released last fall, I'm pretty shocked at myself that I waited till the DVD release. To this day, I'd rank films like Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmations, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin (just to name a few) as some of my all-time favorite films. There's a warmth and a vibrancy to that manner of storytelling that for my money just can't be beat.

That said, there's a lot I liked abotu The Princess and the Frog, and then there's a lot that left me rather underwhelmed. Let's start with that I liked. First of all, the look of the movie is just spectacular. Everything from the color palette to the detail with which the animation team brings 1920s New Orleans to life is a veritable feast for the eyes. I really appreciated the out-of-the-box thinking that brought the fairy tale of the princess kissing a frog to life in a "real world" setting like New Orleans. The relatively modern setting and the multi-cultural cast really set this movie apart in a great way. Also, seeing as I'm a long-standing fan of "warped" fairy tale retellings, anything to change a traditional story up and bring a new life or perspective to it, I will also say it was nice to see "tweaks" the script team brought to the traditional story, setting being just a part of the puzzle.

The songs are probably my biggest disappointment with the film. There's no denying Randy Newman's musical abilities, but personally they're just not my cup of tea. And I feel like his style of music has really been done to death when it comes to Disney/Pixar films. Everything just screams "sameness" to me. There wasn't a single song that really proved memorable, nothing that ranked up there with the likes of "Part of Your World," "A Whole New World," or the "Circle of Life." Also, the voo-doo villain just didn't work for me. I can't quite put my finger on - maybe it's the marriage of baddie voo-doo spirits operating in the relatively modern setting? Or just the voo-doo in general? Still mulling that over, obviously. The threat facing Tiana and Naveen just didn't flow as well as I would've liked with the way the rest of the story was set up, I guess. Speaking of Prince Naveen, it was a little annoying to have such a reality-based setting and then into that you plunk down a prince from some fictitious land? Oh well, c'est la vie.

The vocal talent is just terrific here. Anika Noni Rose does a fantastic job as Tiana - I think she's got a gorgeous voice. And one point in favor of the songs (*grin*), the melodies really do fit the setting well. Also, when Naveen is introduced I was sure I wouldn't like him - he's just so silly. But his character arc ended up being pretty well done, all things considered.

I think my expectations for The Princess and the Frog were unrealistically high, an equal mix of expectation and nostalgia. Because I don't think it's quite "as good" as "classic" animated Disney efforts, I ended up being rather ambivalent about it all, but upon reflection I'll end by saying this was definitely a step in the right direction for this type of film. No one can make animated magic happen quite like Disney - and I'm really looking forward to seeing their next animated film this fall, Tangled (the movie formerly known as Rapunzel, haha!!). It also helps that Zachary Levi, a.k.a. CHUCK (!!) is lending his voice to the film.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Doctor Who - latest trailer

Here's the latest trailer for Doctor Who series 5. Less than a month's wait, people!!! Matt Smith is looking like he will not disappoint. :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin - full review coming soon!

Currently Revell Books is celebrating the release of the first novel in Sarah Sundin's World War II trilogy Wings of Glory, A Distant Melody. Since I am still, apparently, digging myself out of the hole that is being constantly behind on one's blog tours, I'm sadly not ready with a full review. I can tell you, though, if you're a fan of the World War II time period and rich, meaty historicals, you're going to love Sarah's debut! I can't wait to share my full review with you. Till then, here's a bit about the book:

Will a chance meeting in a time of war change her life forever?

Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. While Allie has nearly resigned herself to that fate, Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas.

Walt and Allie meet and begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

Book 1 in the Wings of Glory series, A Distant Melody is an exciting and tender story of love, courage, and sacrifice during World War II.

You can learn more about Sarah Sundin and her books at her website.
You can also check out Sarah's blog and where she's constantly sharing some fact about WWII history.

Full review coming soon - I promise! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

When I saw the trailer for Did You Hear About the Morgans? I thought it looked cute, but (wisely, in my opinion) decided to forego seeing it in theaters and wait for the DVD. As you can see on the above image, the release date was Christmas 2009, and the DVD was just released this past Tuesday - so that should give you a pretty accurate picture of what a *ahem* brisk business the the film did in theaters. ;-)

Morgans is your basic fish-out-of-water story, as the estranged couple, played by Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker, witness a murder and are thrown into the witness protection program. Now, I used to pretty much loathe Hugh Grant because I used to think he was such a one-note actor, and then I saw Two Weeks Notice and fell in love with that movie and him in it. And I became convinced of something very important - Hugh Grant works best when he's playing himself on-screen. I'm convinced prime examples of this phenomenon are movies like Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics, and Morgans, though this latest effort is definitely the weakest of the trio of Marc Lawrence-directed films.

I think the problem with this movie is that it can't decide what it wants to be. It's trying to be a romance, a comedy, sort of a western, with a dash of suspense - the tone of the script just never really felt "settled" to me, if that makes sense. The best reason to watch the movie is if you want to see Hugh Grant doing what he does best, that is being high maintenence and quirky. :) Sarah Jessica Parker was okay, but I've never really been a huge fan of hers and she struck me as rather mismatched with Grant. She gets by in the role but that's about it.

Morgans has some cute, funny moments, and is a pretty clean movie, and Hugh Grant's performance is definitely the best thing about the picture in my view. It's rather a shame that it comes off as more of a made-for-TV quality movie than a major release.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Here Burns My Candle

WaterBrook Press (March 16, 2010)


Liz Curtis Higgs


In her best-selling series of Bad Girls of the Bible books, workbooks, and videos, Liz Curtis Higgs breathes new life into ancient tales about the most infamous—and intriguing—women in scriptural history, from Jezebel to Mary Magdalene. Biblically sound and cutting-edge fresh, these popular titles have helped more than one million women around the world experience God's grace anew. Her best-selling historical novels, which transport the stories of Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, and Dinah to eighteenth-century Scotland, have also helped her readers view these familiar characters in a new light. And her nonfiction book, Embrace Grace, winner of a 2007 Retailers Choice Award, presents her message of hope in an engaging and personal way, speaking directly to the hearts of her readers.

A veteran speaker, Liz has presented more than 1,600 encouraging programs for audiences in all 50 states and 10 foreign countries: South Africa, Indonesia, Germany, France, England, Canada, Ecuador, Scotland, Portugal, and New Zealand. In 1995, she received the Council of Peers Award for Excellence from the National Speakers Association, becoming one of only 32 women in the world named to their CPAE-Speaker Hall of Fame.

Feature articles about Liz have appeared in more than 250 major newspapers and magazines across the country, as well as online with Salon.com, Beliefnet.com and Spirituality.com. She has also been interviewed on more than 600 radio and television stations, including guest appearances on PBS, A&E, MSNBC, NPR, TBN with Kirk Cameron, CBC Canada, BBC Radio Scotland, Rhema Broadcasting New Zealand, Radio Pulpit South Africa, LifeToday with James Robison, Focus on the Family, Janet Parshall's America, 100 Huntley Street and Midday Connection.

Liz is the author of twenty-six books, with more than three million copies in print.

Her fiction includes two contemporary novels, one novella, and four historical novels. And she has written five books for young children.


A mother who cannot face her future.

A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Watch the book video:

If you would like to read the first chapter of Here Burns My Candle, go HERE.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dead Reckoning by Ronie Kendig

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dead Reckoning

Abingdon Press (March 1, 2010)


Ronie Kendig


Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series begins in July from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.


Underwater archeologist Shiloh Blake is consumed with passion for the water and inflamed at the injustices of life. When her first large-scale dig traps her in the middle of an international nuclear arms clash, she flees for her life.

When she spots a man trailing her, the questions are, Who is he? And how is he always one step ahead? Is the man trailing her an enemy or a protector sent by her CIA father?

Reece Jaxon is a former Navy SEAL and now serves his country as a spy. His life is entangled by the beguiling Shiloh Blake as he hunts down the sources to a nuclear dead drop in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai, India. The only way to end this nightmare and prevent a nuclear meltdown is to join forces with Reece. Will Shiloh violate her vow to never become involved in her father's web of intrigue and mystery? Will she reconcile with her past and with him? Will she allow God to help her throught this ordeal of danger, mistrust and uncertainty?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dead Reckoning, go HERE.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review: Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren

Sons of Thunder (Brothers in Arms #1)
By: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Summerside Press
ISBN: 978-1-935416-67-8

About the book:

Two brothers love her – but only one can have her heart.

Sofia Frangos is torn between the love of hot-headed, passionate Markos and his younger brother, quiet, intelligent Dino. Markos longs to honor his family, Dino wants to forget the tragedy that drove them from their Greek home to the shores of America. One brother offers the past she loves…the other, a future. Which “Son of Thunder” will she choose? From Chicago’s sultry jazz-era clubs…to Europe’s World War II battlefields…to a final showdown on a Greek island, the Sons of Thunder discover betrayal, sacrifice – and finally…redemption.


Brothers Markos and Dino Stavros lived relatively idyllic lives as fishermen on the Greek island of Zante in the 1920s. Markos, the older of the two, quietly loved the beautiful Sofia Frangos, who worked in his family’s taverna, and dreamed of a future with her. Those hopes were destroyed on the fateful night the Stavros patriarch and oldest son were murdered, and Markos himself was involved in the bloodshed when he killed one of their attackers. Trying to escape the past, Markos, Dino, and Sofia flee to America to start their lives anew, but instead of the sanctuary they’d hoped for, their “fresh start” turns into a crucible that will test their character and threaten to destroy the promises binding them together. Epic in every sense of the word, Sons of Thunder follows Markos, Dino, and Sofia from the gang-ridden streets of 1920s Chicago to the war-torn battlefields of Europe. Gritty and heart-rending, these three passionate individuals are broken and battered by the turbulence of the times they live in, only to discover the sweet promise of deliverance and redemption found in surrender.

I absolutely love it when I read a book and the journey within those pages meet me right where I’m at in my faith walk. Markos, Dino, and Sophia are three very different personalities, bound together by mutually shared tragedy and hardship. Despite the wildly varied paths their lives take, each one of them needs to learn what deliverance looks like in their lives – not something that can be forced or earned or saves them from trouble, but a precious gift that teaches them the true source of strength and deliverance is found in reliance on a never-changing God and His promises. This is probably Warren’s grittiest, emotionally raw, real offering to date. The pain these characters endure and their joy at discovering hope and redemption brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Just when I think it’s not possible for a favorite author to get any better, Warren surpasses herself with Sons of Thunder. This isn’t a preachy novel at all – this is faith and hope finding individuals in their darkest hour, changing their lives forever. It’s one of the best examples of seeing faith lived out in the pages of a novel that I’ve ever come across – spiritual truths are wrapped in compelling, unforgettable storytelling.

Since Susan May Warren is one of my all-time favorite authors, and World War II is the historic time period I love to study the most, this Brothers in Arms series is a dream come true. Sons of Thunder took a bit longer for me to really get into than other Warren novels, but once I found the rhythm of the story it grabbed my heart and refused to let go until the final pages. The novel is divided into thirds, the first section told from the point of view of Markos, then Dino, and finally Sofia. Since the book is basically three novellas strung together by common experience, the narrative can occasionally feel a bit choppy. That is most likely the reason this novel didn’t “grab” me until towards the end of Markos’s section of the story. There’s so much action and emotional highs and lows packed within the pages of this novel, I would’ve been thrilled to see it as a trilogy. Warren presents a compelling, satisfying, life-changing story that left me wishing it would never end. With superb pacing, characters so real they’ll break your heart, and a healthy dose of suspense set against the backdrop of world war, Sons of Thunder is a story to savor, the pages saturated with hope. I can’t wait to read Warren’s next installment in the series!

***My apologies to the author and Litfuse Publicity for being a week late in posting my review for the Sons of Thunder blog tour - life interfered in a big way last week.***

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sons of Thunder tour & contest!

Currently I'm part of the blog tour celebrating the release of Susan May Warren's latest novel, Sons of Thunder. Unfortunately I'm running late with my review - I hope to have that posted tomorrow. Till then, see below for info about the contest Susan May Warren is running to celebrate this release! Do not leave a comment on this post to enter the contest, please follow the directions below so your entry will be counted.


Sophie Frangos is torn between the love of two men and the promise that binds them all together. Markos Stavros loves Sophie from afar while battling his thirst for vengeance and his hunger for honor. Dino, his quiet and intelligent brother, simply wants to forget the horror that drove them from their Greek island home to start a new life in America. One of these sons of thunder offers a future she longs for, the other the past she lost. From the sultry Chicago jazz clubs of the roaring twenties to the World War II battlefields of Europe to a final showdown in a Greek island village, they'll discover betrayal, sacrifice and finally redemption. Most of all, when Sophie is forced to make her choice, she'll learn that God honors the promises made by the Sons of Thunder. 

Sons of Thunder launches the new Romantic Suspense line for Summerside Press - it will be available to purchase in Wal-mart mid-January. Also - its uniquely written - its an epic suspense story written as three novellas - 3 points of view, 3 settings.


Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep's Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader's Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota. Learn more about Susan here: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/


Brothers in Arms website:


Visit the rest of the blog tour participants:



Be sure to check out Susan's fun contest for the book's release: Each one of us has a wealth of stories from the past – while they might not all be as sweeping and dramatic as that of Sons of Thunder’s Sofia and the Stravos brothers (swoon), your family history is a treasure nonetheless.

Well – let’s hear them! Were your great-grandparents ‘fresh off the boat’? Was your great uncle a war hero? Did your grandmother make unbelievable sacrifices to help or protect the family? Did your father harbor a family secret until his death? Are you related to someone famous? Do you have a family treasure? Whatever it is that is unique in your family history – share your story HERE! (Click on the SHARE button at the right of the screen.) One grand prize winner will receive:

• Memory Prize package containing a gift certificate to create your own hard cover photo book
• 6 month membership to Netflix (to satisfy that flick fix!)
• Signed copy of Sons of Thunder!

5 runners up will also win signed copies of Sons of Thunder!

You can also be entered to win a copy of Sons of Thunder by helping us spread the word during the blog tour!
TWEET THIS: (must use hashtag #SonsofThunder to be entered - no limit on entries! Tweet away!)

Please RT! @susanmaywarren launches new Romantic Suspense #SonsofThunder. Share your story 2 win a fab prize pack! http://ow.ly/1digM

Check back soon for my review of this fantastic book!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I saw Alice in Wonderland this afternoon, and I absolutely loved it. Every single frame of film in this movie just blew me away. Tim Burton has made several movies that I've liked, but never one that I really liked, if you know what I mean. This one fits the bill. I've never been fond of the Alice story - Lewis Carroll's books never  really captivated me, and the animated Disney film was always one of my least favorites growing up. However, I've grown into a really big fan of revisionist retellings, like Tin Man in the case of The Wizard of Oz, or the SyFy miniseries Alice that aired in December of last year. In the case of this latest version of the Alice story, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland over thirteen years after her first visit. You see, she has a destiny to fulfill - killing the Jabberwocky and ending the Red Queen's reign. But first she must navigate the dangers of Wonderland and decide if she has what it takes to be a heroine.

I loved the "real world" frame story Burton presents us with - Alice, surrounded by very conventional people, is expected to marry a gosh-awful fellow named Hamish and lead a very conventional, very safe life. But Alice's father was a man who used to believe at least six impossible things before breakfast, and that sense of wonder, and longing for adventure, is in her very blood. I really, really liked Wasikowska's take on Alice - she starts out rather unsure of herself, but as she finds her footing and her confidence, she learns to handle all of the strange creatures and dangers thrown her way with courage and ingenuity.

Helena Bonham Carter's gigantic-headed Red Queen was hilarious. Carter almost manages to turn the Red Queen into a sympathetic character (really, being sister to the White Queen would've gotten old after about five minutes), but she's too far gone really change, and is a great villainness. I'm thinking Carter is a lock to play Maleficent - given how much I like what Burton's done with the Alice story, I can't wait for his take on Sleeping Beauty, one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. Anne Hathaway was perfect to play the absolutely perfect, beloved White Queen. She takes her acting history playing perfect, princess-y characters (think The Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted) and gives the White Queen these really funny, over-the-top mannerisms that fit the character perfectly. Her dark eyebrows and lipstick was a little freaky, though - that could've done with some toning down, just sayin'!

It should come as no surprise that my absolute favorite character in the film was Johnny Depp's the Mad Hatter. I don't think you could wish for a better actor to play the crazy guy. :) The Hatter is funny, and over-the-top, and poignant, and brave all at once. It's yet another riveting chance to watch Depp completely lose himself in a role, and I loved every moment of it. The Hatter and Alice are given a really wonderful friendship in this retelling, and I wish it had been given even more screentime. There were moments when the Hatter went all crazy-intense, that he sounded like Captain Jack - loved that. :)

In addition to Martin Sheen as the White Rabbit, this movie is packed with tons of other great voiceover talent. Stephen Fry gives voice to the rather devious Cheshire Cat (LOVED it!), while Alan Rickman voices the Blue Caterpillar. I'm not familiar with actor Paul Whitehouse, who voices the March Hare, but his work was HILARIOUS, and a great companion to Depp's zany Hatter. Imelda Staunton lends her voice to two talking flowers, and Christopher Lee is pitch-perfect and menacing as the voice of the Jabberwocky. Oh, and in the non-voiceover category, it was great to see Tim Pigott-Smith (North & South) in a supporting role as Alice's future business partner, Lord Ascot.

Besides the acting talent, the script, design of the film, costumes, special effects, and music are all superb. Burton's use of color in his films is always one of the most striking things about his work (for me, anyway), and this time is no exception. The color and design of this film fills each frame with eye-popping, fantastic visuals. It will take multiple viewings of this movie on DVD, I'm sure, to really appreciate the depth and richness of this movie. Oh, and Danny Elfman's score is AMAZING! He's created some great work for Tim Burton's movies, but this score has to be my favorite. It sort of as an old-fashioned adventure movie feel to it - lush, full orchestrations with just the right dash of the whimsy and the fantastical. Just shy of two hours long, this movie flies by with never a dull or dragging moment. To sum up, see this movie asap - it's tremendous fun. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith

Abigail (The Wives of King David #2)
By: Jill Eileen Smith
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3321-6

About the book:

Her days marked by turmoil and faded dreams, Abigail has resigned herself to a life with a man she does not love. But when circumstances offer her a second chance at happiness with the handsome David, she takes a leap of faith to join his wandering tribe. Still, her struggles are far from over. How can she share his love with the other women he insists on marrying?

Abigail follows the bestselling Michal and continues Jill Eileen Smith’s rich story of David’s wives.


For her second novel in The Wives of King David series, Jill Eileen Smith explores the life of Abigail, David’s third wife, who came to him while he was still living in the wilderness, running from Saul’s never-ending attempts to end his life. As a widow and a non-royal, Abigail has a strikingly different background and perspective than Michal, David’s first wife, whose story was told in Smith’s first book. While Michal was a privileged princess, Abigail hails from a poor, but loving family, where she is given in marriage to the loutish Nabal in order to settle a long-standing family debt. For the innocent, God-fearing Abigail, her first marriage is a nightmare from day one, and the emotional and physical abuse she suffers takes an increasing toll on Abigail’s well-being and confidence. But she never loses her faith, and when the opportunity comes save the household when Nabal foolishly incites the wrath of David and his followers, she seizes the chance to bring peace to the situation. Little does she realize that her extraordinary act of bravery will set her on a path to capture the heart of God’s anointed, placing her in a position to impact the fate of her people through marriage to the future king.

Although many of the events in Abigail were also covered in Michal, the different female perspective, coupled with a greater focus on David’s years in the wilderness, work together to provide a richer, more fully realized picture of David’s life and character. Smith paints a portrait of David that breathes life into the extraordinary man of God seen in the scriptures, while also bringing to vivid life his flaws and human frailties, making him painfully human and relatable. When David begins to justify taking additional wives in order to expand his household, the result of his all too common human ability to rationalize his desires will have ramifications far into the future. Abigail, so different from her predecessor Michal, is fully fleshed out into the intriguing character that’s only hinted at in 1 Samuel 25. Abigail is the polar opposite of her foolish first husband – beautiful and wise, the abuse heaped on her during that marriage could have broken her character. Though she struggles with fear, jealousy, and trust, Abigail never allows her experiences to define her; rather, her faith takes those experiences and refines her into a woman whose bravery, faith, and compassion make her a thought-provoking, unforgettable inspiration.

I didn’t think Michal could be topped, but with Abigail Smith rises to the challenge and proves to be an even more gifted wordsmith and storyteller. Her passion for scripture and biblical history shines through each page, bringing Abigail’s world to life in brilliant detail. Like Michal, Abigail spans many years, and the time transitions scripture quotations are handled better, resulting in a smoothly flowing, rapidly paced read. I really feel like Smith captures the mindset and customs of the time, because she manages to bring Abigail and David’s love story to life with credibility – a feat that by today’s standards seems nearly impossible given that Abigail competed with David’s other wives for his time and affection. The social dynamic Abigail operated within seems so foreign, but Smith succeeds in presenting the reality of a woman’s life during this time period in a compassionate and understandable way. Once the historical trappings are stripped away, what endures is Abigail’s character and her unshakeable faith in an unchanging God who helps her overcome her fears and grants her peace in the midst of life’s storms – a lesson in faith that still resonates today.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Hearts Awakening

Bethany House (March 1, 2010)


Delia Parr


Delia Parr, pen name for Mary Lechleidner, is the author of 10 historical novels and the winner of several awards, including the Laurel Wreath Award for Historical Romance and the Aspen Gold Award for Best Inspirational Book. She is a full-time high school teacher who spends her summer vacations writing and kayaking. The mother of three grown children, she lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.


Two people in desperate circumstances. Life has left few choices for Elvira Kilmer. Her hopes for marriage and a family of her own have long since passed her by, and her arrival on Dillon's Island, nestled in the Susquehanna River, is not of her choosing, either.

She needs work. And Jackson Smith needs a housekeeper. Yet Ellie never imagined the widower would be so young...so handsome. Jackson, on the other hand, has never met anyone quite so...plain. But he quickly comes to realize that Ellie's presence may solve his own problems--both the rearing of his young boys and the scandal that surrounds his first marriage.

When Jackson offers her something quite out of the ordinary, will Ellie look beyond mere necessity and risk opening her heart?

Yet what options does she have? To marry would mean a home and stability. So despite the rumors circling Jackson and his first wife, Ellie accepts this unlikely proposal...

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hearts Awakening, go HERE.