Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: Firefly Summer by Kathleen Y'Barbo

About the Book: A new cowboy romance from award-winning author Kathleen Y'Barbo.

Trey’s biggest challenge isn’t performing surgery…it’s restoring Sessa’s heart!

Artist Sessa Chambers may never recover from losing her prodigal son. Even as she grieves the tragic decisions that led to his death, and left her with a toddler to raise, she’s asked to work on her dream project—restoring carousel horses for the Smithsonian. But she can’t do it on her own…

Dr. Trey Brown can’t pick up a scalpel again. Yes, he acted in self-defense, but the events of that awful night haunt him. He was trained to save lives, not take them. When he goes to the young man’s widowed mother to apologize, she’s not at all what he expected. For one thing, she’s not as alone as he thought—not with the fearsome ladies of the Pies, Books, and Jesus Book Club in her corner. For another, she’s beautiful, and being in her presence is more jolting than any eight-second bronco ride from his former rodeo days. Before he knows it, she’s captured his heart as easily as they capture the fireflies gracing Sessa’s Texas ranch.

How can they overcome their past to embrace a future together?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

About the Book: A killer with a penchant for torture has taken notice of forensic expert Gwen Marcey . . . and her daughter.
When Gwen Marcey’s dog comes home with a human skull and then leads her to a cabin in the woods near her Montana home, she realizes there’s a serial killer in her community. And when she finds a tortured young girl clinging to life on the cabin floor, she knows this killer is a lunatic.

Yet what unsettles Gwen most is that the victim looks uncannily like her daughter. The search for the torturer leads back in time to a neo-Nazi bombing in Washington state—a bombing with only one connection to Montana: Gwen. The group has a race-not-grace model of salvation . . . and they’ve marked Gwen as a race traitor. When it becomes clear that the killer has a score to settle, Gwen finds herself in a battle against time. She will have to use all of her forensic skills to find the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her—and the only family she has left.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway! A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

About A Thousand Nights: "A story threaded with shimmering vibrance and beauty, A Thousand Nights will weave its spell over readers' hearts and leave them captivated long after the final tale has been told." —Alexandra Bracken, New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds series

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

I have a really awesome giveaway! One lucky winner with a US address will win a copy of the book, branded nailpolish, and a tea bag dispenser.

To enter, just fill out the form below by October 3, 2015.

You can read the first four chapters of the book here!

Learn more

Use the #AThousandNights hashtag in your online discussions/explorations!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Guest Post: Catholic Romance Novels

I'm pleased to welcome author Geri Bauer to talk about what the Catholic Romance novel is:

Today, we take a look at the idea of Catholic romance novels. But what exactly
does that description mean?

To me, Catholic romance is a subgenre of Christian romance. All Catholic romances are Christian romances. But not all Christian romances are Catholic
romances. Stay with me! That’s not as confusing as it may sound! Faith is an integral element of the story in all Christian romances. Characters live by the tenets of Christianity. Personal salvation, gained by accepting Jesus as savior, is emphasized. But characters tend to be nondenominational – they aren’t Baptist or Methodist or members of another specific faith group.

Amish romances are an exception. They are very much about a distinct group of faith fellowships. The novels give readers insight into the culture, beliefs, and religious practices of the Amish characters. Faith governs lives so strongly that it almost becomes a character. Catholic romance takes a similar approach. Faith strongly influences characters and their lives. Readers get to learn about Catholic rituals and practices.

There’s another distinguishing factor in the Christian and Amish romances I’ve read. They have a Protestant worldview. They’re wonderful books written by talented authors. But, in them, I’ve never seen – for example - an infant being baptized by a priest. In a Catholic romance, you could read about such an event. In fact, it’d be an important day of celebration for the family. Other things characters might do in a Catholic romance are attend Mass or say a rosary.

Catholicism is an essential part of a believer’s being. It infuses all aspects of life, and that is reflected in characters in a Catholic romance. My hope is that the Persimmon Hollow series of historical romances will be enjoyed by people of all faiths as love stories that also provide insights into Catholicism as lived by regular people.

So, there you have my perspective on the difference between Catholic and Christian romance. I’d love to hear what readers think. Do you agree with my observations? What do you think makes the books different?

Gerri Bauer is the author of the Catholic historical romance At Home in Persimmon Hollow. Find her on Facebook at Gerri Bauer – Author, on Twitter @GerriBauer and on Pinterest at Gerri Bauer.

About At Home in Persimmon Hollow: At Home in Persimmon Hollow is the first book in a series chronicling the world of Agnes Foster and the people of frontier-era Florida. In 1886, Agnes Foster is forced to leave the Catholic orphanage in New York where she grew up to start a new life as a teacher in Persimmon Hollow, Florida, a town she has only ever seen in a newspaper ad. With nothing but her strong Catholic faith to sustain her, she leaves behind the only home she’s ever known and the little girl she hopes to adopt, and encounters a wild and beautiful new landscape, and a town full of hardworking, faith-filled people. She also meets the difficult, yet handsome and hard-to-ignore Seth Taylor, a man whose heart has been hardened to God after a terrible loss. Just as Agnes starts to feel Persimmon Hollow could be a good home for her and her daughter, and that Seth could be her love, tragedy strikes in the form of a trio of evil men from both their pasts, intent on doing them more harm. Will their fragile new love survive? Will Seth return to his faith? Can Agnes finally escape her dark past and find a bright new future?

Check out more information about the book here!


Friday, September 11, 2015

Film Rec! Life Partners

First of all, I'm way behind on Chasing Life so don't spoil me. (I already know one big awful thing but I don't want details)

Secondly, one of my favorite things about Chasing Life is the network of relationships between women. Particularly, I love April and Beth's friendship. It's really hard to explain, but this this is the kind of friendship that can only be written by someone who has had this kind of which I mean someone who has totally loved their best friend and experienced a series of highs and lows and complications, but ultimately the foundation of the friendship is love and support and just genuinely liking another person so much.I feel like this sort of deep friendship is so rarely depicted and Chasing Life touches me in a way that TV rarely does. It's not always the best on all fronts, it seriously lagged in the second half of the first season, but I mostly don't care because these moments between April and Beth are such gold. (like I love when April gets jealous of Beth spending time with her half sister and worries about being replaced because you know what? That stuff happens. But Beth tells her she just needs her own space and time and reassures her April's still #1 and it's all just so !!!!)

Anyway, Life Partners was also on my radar and when I realized the Chasing Life creator also did Life Partners, I knew I'd have to watch it. I mistakenly thought Life Partners was about two best friends and one was a lesbian who was in love with her straight best friend, but lol no. It's just about two best friends and one is a lesbian but not in love with her best friend which yay.

And it's so good. Just so good. Where are the rest of the movies like this? About growing up, being in your late twenties and falling in love and learning how to be in a relationship and learning how to adjust to the way your friendships change? This is something we all experience and deal with in our lives--but I feel like it's so rarely captured? But it's actually monumental and big. So yes that's what Life Partners is about! It's about becoming an adult and falling in love and learning how to be in a relationship as an adult and also it's about how your friendships change and that can BREAK YOUR HEART.

I just don't have enough words for how super lovely this movie is and I cried a lot and maybe if you've ever experienced any of this you'll love it, too. If, like me, you love any story that values and treats non romantic relationships as fundamental and important to life and PRECIOUS, you'll love it, too?

Plus, Leighton Meester is in it and super pretty and really carries her role well.

Anyway, the writer is Susanna Fogel who apparently writes this stuff from her life...her best friend is a lesbian and they had a web series awhile back. She talks about her stuff as being stuff for people who like to feel things, and I agree. She's an absolute treasure, I wish she'd written more because she just really hits that sweet spot of female friendship that I long to see more of!

I looked her up on Twitter and saw this tweet:

And knew she was a kindred spirit because, lol, I AGREE.

Anyway, check out Life Partners if you can! It's on Netflix!

PS ETA: Ana linked to this piece awhile back and I loved it a lot and it captures what I mean to say about the value of female friendships in stories to me so well:

Because the truth is, women have been loving each other since the beginning of time. Friendships between women are one of the abiding structural features of our lives because our relationships to one another are passionately meaningful. Any literature that attempts to treat women’s lives seriously will include female friendships. It isn’t a genre. It isn’t a cliché. It’s a way in to talking about what we’ve been trying to talk about from the beginning: the human experience.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Dark Places is my favorite Gillian Flynn book--I love the way the way it's this horrific cold murder mystery that took place on an isolated farmhouse. I loved the way she incorporated "the times" into the plot and recreated the day of the murders. I really liked how the ending was both expected and unexpected. So when I learned it was inspired by In Cold Blood, I knew I would want to read it at one point.

Well I read it via listening to the audiobook. And I can definitely see where the inspiration came from. Not only are the crimes similar and midwestern based, but I believe the specific inspiration came from a small thread in the book that doesn't end up taking up much time but immediately called Dark Places to mind. I can't say more without completely spoiling Dark Places, but I found this really really interesting.

I really really like true crime. This is something that feels like a guilty pleasure to admit, because what literary benefit is there to it, really? It feels almost like a kind of an intrusion where I want to peek behind the curtain of something terrible, see all the things that went into play and feel the extra dread of knowing this really happened as opposed to this is just someone's imagination. But..I can't help it. True crime keeps my attention. And, even more, I think it does reveal things about history, people, time and circumstances. So I had really huge hopes for In Cold Blood since it's supposed to be one of the first and best true crime books.

I ended up liking it a lot, though I'm not sure it lived up to my exact expectations. There were times when I felt bored, but by the end I did appreciate the detail the book went into.

So what's it about? A family is murdered one night in their homes. In a small Kansas town where this sort of thing never happened. No apparent motive. Horrific deaths. A family of four, two teenagers and their parents. The police are stumped.They have no leads and they most certainly don't have the technology of our times in order to investigate further.

Capote details the day of the murder, introducing you to the victims. This part felt very real and one of the things I like so much about true powerful and full and forceful life feels--how weird it is that it all just comes to an end. He also details the town's reaction and the toll of the investigation.

He also spends TONS OF TIME on the killers. I have to admit this is where I started to space out a bit because I just didn't care. And because it was so depressing in that awful life is drudgery sort of way. Which I fully understand was the point, but still. You can definitely sense the influence on Gillian Flynn!

Having said that, by the time I got to the end I felt like I have been through an experience and it was sort of worth it to have all that extra detail. I felt like I had been told a full story from every aspect, given a chance to peek inside the heads of everyone.

But really what an amazingly awful and random crime. Like, wow. You know I watch a fair bit of crime TV and read my share of books and the kind of circumstance in this book is the sort of thing they always say never happens, lol. It's amazing that they were able to figure out who did it and that it all rested on one random link. Life doesn't make sense.

I did look up some real story stuff when I was done and I guess Capote embellished/made up a few scenes, and that was hugely upsetting at the time to the critics, lol. But I sort of expected it must have been that way because of how detailed dialogue was, so I wasn't upset. Capote saying this was true is much better than like...the guy that wrote The Amityville Horror claiming that was all true.

Oh and fun facts--it took him six years to write this and Harper Lee went with him to Kansas to investigate. Interesting stuff!



Monday, September 7, 2015

Give me some recs!

I have a few posts in the works about stuff I've read. Because even though I haven't been blogging as much lately, I've still been reading and watching stuff and wanting to talk about it all! It's coming soon!

In the meantime, tis the season for spooky books. I have more occasion to listen to audiobooks these days than actually read, so I'd love to hear your recs for good horror books. The thing is, I LOVE HORROR and I worry I will run out of the good stuff. I'm totally open to classics and modern stuff, but what I'm looking for is a story that builds and really delivers on the creep factor, but at the same time, is not just cheap thrills.

Rec away, please!

And as a bonus...what do you think is the best ghost story or Haunted house book?