Perfectly Ridiculous by Kristen Billerbeck



MY REVIEW:

“Perfectly Ridiculous” is the perfect name for this latest installment of the Universally Misunderstood Novel series that could also easily be called “The Life and Trials of Daisy Crispin”. Daisy has finally graduated from high school with a full scholarship to the university of her choice. Her plans are to get her degree and never go back to the less than perfect life she has always known. But first there is a vacation to Argentina with best friend Claire to enjoy – that is until she finds out at the last minute that there is a two week mission work requirement to receive her scholarship.

That is where things started to get ridiculous. When Daisy’s parents learned that an old college friend ran the mission where Daisy would work, they decided that they needed to accompany her and Claire to Argentina. Then Daisy’s Argentine love interest Max picked them up at the airport but was not the Max she knew from his exchange student days at her school. Then there was the problem with the mission director who seemed to dislike Daisy from the beginning. One complication after another seemed determined to ruin her vacation and her chance to keep her scholarship.

Although extremely entertaining, “Perfectly Ridiculous” fell somewhat short of my expectations. The author’s writing quality continued with its high standards with excellent characterization and dialogue. There were several twists and surprises in the plot that kept things interesting. The revelation about why the mission director had it in for Daisy was disappointing – how could an adult in that position be so immature? As a parent I could understand why Daisy’s parents were afraid to let her travel alone but thought that insisting on going with her was overkill. I really liked Daisy’s new friend J.C. and thought he was a good influence so I was disappointed with decisions Daisy made later in the book. It was good to see Claire find her own calling. I did not like Max in this novel at all. I don’t know if this is the final book of this series but I would like one about Daisy’s college experience that might give her a chance to reconsider decisions made in “Perfectly Ridiculous”.

“Perfectly Ridiculous” and the previous two novels in this series are fun and entertaining and perfectly good reading for young teens.

This book was provided for review by
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Kristin Billerbeck hits the target once again with Perfectly Ridiculous, the new book that looks at the life of a normal teenage girl and her challenges and struggles to fit in and not be “different”.  Growing up isn’t easy for a teenager but it’s especially hard for a girl with a unique set of parents.  This endearing story is a laugh out loud delight for teenage girls and anyone who enjoys YA fiction.

Daisy Crispin is at a crossroads. In one direction lies the promised land—life at college, away from her embarrassing and overprotective parents. In the other direction is reality—her strapped bank account, an ailing father, and family priorities. Daisy knows the “perfect” daughter wouldn’t have to think twice. But maybe Daisy was never really perfect on any level, because she does not want her life to look the way her parents think it should. She won’t let that stop her, though. Now that she has been given an exciting free trip to Argentina before going to college, she’s thrilled—until her parents decide to go along with her.

Hilarious and all too true to life, Perfectly Ridiculous gives teen girls more of what they want and love to read from Kristin Billerbeck.

Available July 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Praise for Kristin Billerbeck’s Perfectly Dateless &Perfectly Invisible:

 Well known as a chick-lit author (What a Girl Wants), Christy Award finalist Billerbeck turns her talent for witty dialog to the YA market. The title and cover alone ensure that teens will pick up this book, and parents will be pleased that there is nothing offensive inside the covers. Adults who enjoy YA fiction and are nostalgic for their high school years may also want to try this hilarious novel. – Library Journal

Overall, in classic Billerbeck style, PERFECTLY INVISIBLE contains snappy dialogue, wit, and hilarious situations. The writing is clever — brilliant in parts — and made me laugh out loud. Daisy is fresh and quirky, with character flaws most of us can relate to. If you have teens, know teens, or remember being a teen, you just might relate to her, too. – Faithful Reader

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kristin Billerbeck is the bestselling, award-winning author of several novels, including What a Girl Wants, Perfectly Dateless, and Perfectly Invisible. A Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year, Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in Northern California.

 

 

The Kingdom by Brian M. Litfin

 

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Kingdom
Crossway Books (June 30, 2012)
by
Brian M. Litfin
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bryan earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of Tennessee as well as a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is currently professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he has been since 2002. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays. Bryan has always enjoyed epic adventure stories as well as historical fiction, but most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.

Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He and his wife Carolyn are parents to two children. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains. The Litfins attend College Church in Wheaton, where Bryan has served on the Board of Missions and as a deacon. He also helped start Clapham School, a Christian primary school in Wheaton using the classical model of education.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Book Three in the Chiveis Trilogy

War and disease have destroyed the modern world. Centuries later, feudal societies have arisen across Europe. No one can remember the ancient religion of Christianity—until an army captain and a farmer’s daughter discover the Sacred Writing of the one true God.

As Teo and Ana encounter the forgotten words of the holy book, they realize its message is just what their kingdom needs. Though exiled from their homeland, they join their hearts in a quest to return. But now an ancient pact has united the enemies of the Christian faith into a dark alliance that threatens to consume the known world. Racing to stay one step ahead of their enemies, Teo and Ana must battle heinous villains, stormy seas, and the powers of the underworld itself. As armies begin to mass for a final battle, the odds favor the forces of evil. Can Teo and Ana bring divine truth to Chiveis—or will the Word of God fade from the earth forever?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Kingdom, go HERE.

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wedded to War
• River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2012)
by
Jocelyn Green
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jocelyn Green is a child of God, wife and mom living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is also an award-winning journalist, author, editor and blogger. Though she has written nonfiction on a variety of topics, her name is most widely recognized for her ministry to military wives: Faith Deployed. Her passion for the military family was fueled by her own experience as a military wife, and by the dozens of interviews she has conducted with members of the military for her articles and books, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and its sequel, Faith Deployed…Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. She is also co-author of both Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front (forthcoming, May 2012). Her Faith Deployed Web site and Facebook page continue to provide ongoing support, encouragement and resources for military wives worldwide.

Learn more about Jocelyn and her books on her Website.
 
ABOUT THE BOOK:

When war erupted, she gave up a life of privilege for a life of significance.

Tending to the army’s sick and wounded meant leading a life her mother does not understand and giving up a handsome and approved suitor. Yet Charlotte chooses a life of service over privilege, just as her childhood friend had done when he became a military doctor. She soon discovers that she’s combatting more than just the rebellion by becoming a nurse. Will the two men who love her simply stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or will their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey’s letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured. This is the first in the series “Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War,” a collection of novels that highlights the crucial contributions made by women during times of war.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wedded to War, go HERE.

WATCH WEDDED TO WAR VIDEO TRAILER:

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn




My Review:

If “A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California” is any indication, Keli Gwyn has a promising career as an author ahead of her. Her debut novel is delightful and so well written that if I didn’t know it was her first, I would guess that Keli is already an established author.

The major characters of this book are well developed and likeable. Tildy is especially entertaining with her incessant talk, her enthusiasm for life, and her humorous observations. Miles and Elenora are both appealing characters. Miles can seem a bit gruff and reserved but has a heart of gold. All he needs is the right woman to help him overcome the unwarranted guilt over something he had no control over. Elenora is strong and spunky with a determination to succeed that can be a bit daunting at times. Events from her past have driven her to prove her independence – especially from men. As you can guess, this is the perfect setup for a romance between Miles and Elenora although neither can see it. Their fierce competition makes for some interesting reading and sometimes a little impatience for them to wake up and see what’s right in front of them. Even with the unwanted help from Miles’ mother and Tildy, they seem determined to ignore the attraction. What will it take to get these two together?

“A Bride Opens Shop In El Dorado, California” had just the right blend of historical fact, drama, humor, and romance to hold my attention. The dialogue and interaction between characters was natural and quite entertaining. A strong message of faith was present but unobtrusive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to many more from Keli Gwyn. Looks like I need to make room on my keeper shelves for one more new favorite author.

This book was provided for review by the author.




About the Book:

Love Is Gold in El Dorado, California

Widow Elenora Watkins heads to California with her nine-year-old daughter, Tildy, eager to become partner in a mercantile. When the mulish owner withdraws his offer because she’s a woman, she opens her own shop. She’s determined to prove herself capable of running a successful business without the help of anyone—including her controlling father, her seemingly distant heavenly Father, and one Miles Rutledge.

Widower Miles Rutledge is not about to get involved with another willful woman like his late wife, especially when she’s his competition. But the beautiful Elenora and her precocious daughter may be too hard to resist. When another man appears out to claim Elenora’s heart, Miles searches for a way to win her back. . .while putting her out of business.

Meanwhile, Maude Rutledge, Miles’s meddling mother, longs to see her son make a good match. And Tildy is just as bent on gaining a loving papa.

The battle of wills begins, but can anyone win when the competition is more than they bargained for?

Note: The story is a sweet romance with hints of humor, along the lines of Margaret Brownley or Karen Witemeyer’s work.

Endorsements

What a delightful debut! A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California reminds me of the classic romantic comedies where two stubborn, independent people keep denying what everyone else knows is true: that they were meant for each other. I found myself eagerly turning the pages, wanting to see what was going to happen to Ellie and Miles next.

Amanda Cabot ~ author of Summer of Promise and Christmas Roses

With witty dialogue, charming characters, and an attention to historical detail that will make you feel you’re living in frontier California, you’ll love every moment you spend in El Dorado, CA with spunky, resourceful Elenora Watkins and determined, debonair Miles Rutledge. Keli Gwyn’s debut historical romance is a winner!

Erica Vetsch ~ author of A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas

Keli Gwyn’s A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, Californiais a fresh and lively tale of two strong, yet wounded people battling to outperform each other with rival shops, with violins, even with pistols. As Elenora and Miles come to terms with past hurts, they gradually shift from self-seeking to self-sacrificing, proving the power of God at work in their lives and bringing a most satisfying ending.
Janet Dean ~ author of Last Minute Bride, Brides of the West

Keli Gwyn brings the Sierra Foothills to life with rich historical details. She’s crafted delightful and unique characters that make a home in your heart. The tender and sweet romance has plenty of sparks to keep you turning the pages. And when you reach the last page, you’ll breathe a satisfied sigh but at the same time wish this lovely story didn’t have to end.

Jody Hedlund ~ award-winning and bestselling author of A Preacher’s Bride

Keli Gwyn is a fresh new voice in Christian fiction. A Bride Opens Shop is filled with characters who leap off the pages, a story line that wouldn’t let me go, and historically authentic details that delighted me. I will anxiously await the release of her next novel.

Lena Nelson Dooley ~ author of Maggie’s Journey and Mary’s Blessing,
the first two books in the McKenna’s Daughters series, and Will Rogers
Medallion Winner, Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

Keli Gwyn brings old California alive with a story that’s filled with faith, hope, and love. When a willful widow matches wits with a competitive shopkeeper you just know there will be fireworks. The battle of the sexes has never been so much fun. Highly recommended!

Margaret Brownley ~ Brides of Last Chance Ranch and New York Times bestselling author

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California is an effervescent story full of such small town charm that you might think Little House on the Prairie had jumped on a stagecoach and headed for the wild west! Author Keli Gwyn’s vivid historical settings and gentle humor will endear her to readers of sweet romance.

Rosslyn Elliott ~ award-winning author of Fairer than
Morning and Sweeter than Birdsong


About the Author:

Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives is currently available.

When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell.

Rare Earth by Davis Bunn



MY REVIEW:

As a longtime reader (over 20 years) of books by Davis Bunn, I consider it a real privilege to have been invited to participate in blog tours for some of his recent books. I have always enjoyed his writing and as good as I believed his earlier books to be, his most recent offerings have been exceptional. Reading “Rare Earth” made me feel as though I was right there with Marc Royce and his associates. I could almost see the Kenyan sky, feel the heat and volcano ash, and breath in the fragrance or stench in the air around them. When an author has the ability to totally immerse me in his story, such things as grammar, typos, etc. become irrelevant. The experience is all that matters.

Davis Bunn has a talent for taking his readers right into the heart of an adventure. In “Rare Earth” I experienced a great story with a fast moving plot that had plenty of action, drama and suspense and I actually learned about the lives of people involved. I have known on some level that things are not good in Africa but from my privileged position of comfort and plenty, it seemed to be remote and didn’t enter my thoughts very often. “Rare Earth” exposed me to the realities suffered by so many of the people of Kenya and the ways they have been exploited. Although it is fiction, “Rare Earth” could easily have been taken from current news.

“Rare Earth” is a powerful book in so many respects. The story alone is worthwhile reading but it goes beyond that. Marc Royce is the kind of hero we need so desperately today. Hopefully there are real men with his dedication and values who are working under the radar to help make the world a better place. After reading this book I am left with the question of “What can I do to help?” I wish I knew the answer.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




ABOUT THE BOOK:

 

Marc Royce stares out of the helicopter, a sense of foreboding rising with the volcanic cloud. Below, the Rift Valley slashes across Africa like a scar. Decades of conflicts, droughts, and natural disasters have left their mark.

Dispatched to audit a relief organization, Royce is thrust into the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps. But his true mission focuses on the area’s reserves of once-obscure minerals now indispensable to high-tech industries. These strategic elements—called rare earth—have inflamed tensions on the world’s stage and stoked tribal rivalries. As Royce prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes on a bold and risky venture for restoring justice to this troubled land.

But this time, Royce may have gone too far.

Read Chapters 1-3 of Rare Earth for free
Rare Earth by Davis Bunn Sample Chapters 1-3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write. Visit Davis at www.davisbunn.com.

 

 

 



Q & A with Davis Bunn
When you finished writing Lion of Babylon (book 1 in the Marc Royce series), did you just keep going with the storyline and wrote Rare Earth at the same time? Or was there a time gap in between?

Normally by the time I complete a story, I have been living with the characters and the tale for about a year. What I need more than anything just then is a break. I don’t need to stop writing; I just need to write about something else. The emotions for a new book have to be fresh. The characters are not just continuing on. They are starting over. The emotions and the concepts and the tension and the theme are all brand new. The names stay the same. The rest of the universe shifts on its axis.

Marc Royce is not your typical hero. Where did you find your inspiration for his character?

As I started researching the first book in this series, Lion of Babylon, I took a flight where I was seated next to this very remarkable woman, an amazing combination of hard intelligence and great gentleness. She was reading a pocket New Testament. We started talking, and it turned out that she was a special operative, formerly with the State Department intelligence division, and now working with the Department of Defense Intel. I found myself drawn by this incredible paradox of ruthless focus and very intense calm.

Soon after this flight, I had an opportunity to meet a senior figure in the CIA. I had never had any contact with the intelligence community, and all of a sudden I was finding one door after another being opened, because both of these people—the DOD Intel officer and the CIA agent—took it upon themselves to help introduce me to their worlds. I have found this happen on a number of occasions, and these ongoing miracles humble and astound me. I drew on these people as the basis for structuring my hero.

What can readers expect to find in Rare Earth?

All my books hold to one key aim—to create a story that carries a moral, and together result in an impact or challenge or inspiration or comforting assurance that remains long after the book is set down. That, to me, defines a worthy effort.

What kind of character is Marc Royce?

He carries his faith into a world that likes to think Jesus no longer plays a role. He sees himself as the ultimate outsider, wounded by the loss of his wife, searching for a place he can call home, and an ideal worth living for—or giving his life for.

Tell us about one or two other key characters.

Like the book that launched this series, Rare Earth is a story about the missionary church. Many of the other characters are Kenyan, and reveal the amazing role that believers play in this nation.

What type of research did you do for this series?

I worked in Africa for four years early in my adult life. I was not a believer at that time. I came to faith four years later. I taught in Kenya last year, the first time I had been back to sub-Sahara Africa in almost twenty years. Going back to Africa now, as a believer, has opened my eyes to many things. Seeing with the compassion of sharing faith and seeking to serve means that I do not merely observe, I share with them. I hope this comes across in my story.

Research is a huge component of all of my stories. But with Lion of Babylon and Rare Earth, the situation was quite different. In both these Royce novels, I was combining knowledge gained in my previous business life with the perspective gained from my walk in faith. It has been quite a fulfilling experience, personally, to revisit these lands and see them through the eyes of our compassionate God.

Which character in Rare Earth do you connect to the most?

This is the second book starring Marc Royce. He is a complex individual with a lot of amazing traits. I feel like I am finally coming to terms with the depths of this man.

Which character was the most difficult to write?

There is a Luo chief in Nairobi, a strong leader who has had everything stripped from him except his faith. He is the uncle of another great man, another leader. To have two people from the same tribe, and create individuals that stood out as unique portraits, was very challenging. I feel that I have done a solid job with them. I look forward to hearing what my readers think.

What was your favorite scene to write in Rare Earth?

It is very rare that a first scene holds such a powerful connection for me. Generally it is one where there is a revelation between characters, or a defining moment when a person’s eyes are truly opened to the eternal for the first time.

But in Rare Earth, when I shut my eyes and envision the story, it is that first scene that blazes into light. Travelling on the UN chopper from Nairobi, watching the volcano take shape upon the horizon. Marc Royce has been sent out there to fail. And to die. I really am pleased with that opening sequence.

What’s next in your writing pipeline?

The film project Unlimited, for which I wrote the screenplay, has now ‘wrapped’, that is, filming has been completed. The producer and director are now deep into the editing process. Meanwhile, I must get busy and write the novel.

I had the whole thing backwards here, doing the script first, but it has been a lot of fun, and the concept remains very fresh. So hopefully it will come alive on the page as well as the screen. Both the film and the story are titled Unlimited, and are slated for release in September 2013.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website and blog are at www.davisbunn.com

Subscribe to my blog’s feed (to get my latest posts via e-mail or through your feed reader) at http://feeds.feedburner.com/DavisBunn

Sign up for my e-newsletter (for subscriber-only giveaways and advance notice of my upcoming novels): http://www.davisbunn.com/news.htm

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