Content from this blog has moved to www.michellerayburn.com.

12.19.2012

Review: How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person?

Have you ever thought about a friend wondering, "When will she ever learn?" How about yourself? Have you ever thought about how many times it takes for you to hear something before you apply it to your own life? Sometimes, we all need a lightbulb moment here and there.

I'd like to share a little about a book by Rhonda Rhea that I just finished reading. It's called How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person? 

My Review

Scripture is full of references to light. But how often do we stop to think about what God means when he talks about light?  In How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person?, author Rhonda Rhea shares lightbulb moments—those times when truth from scripture clicks with our reality and we "get it." Chock full of lighthearted stories alongside biblical wisdom, this book is the perfect combination for the soul seeking encouragement as well as enlightenment.

Rhea uses fun plays on words (such as the chapter title "Watt in the World?) that tie into the concept of light, making this a creative and fun book. Yet, it's a serious look at what the Bible says about light. God is called light, Jesus is called light, and we are called light too. So how can we live in the light? Rhea helps the reader plug into the power of God and live in such a way that we stand out from the darkness in the world around us.


If you are looking for a transformation in your life, this is the book for you. Perhaps it's the first time you're seeking God's light, or maybe you've been a Christian for a long time, but you're longing for a fresh awakening to God's light. The book takes a look at God's attributes and also our attitudes. I found myself both convicted and uplifted as I read through. 

As an author, Rhonda Rhea has personality. She has a way with stories and words that make the lesson come alive without it being dry an academic. I enjoyed the book and I recommend it to anyone needing a fresh perspective and spiritual encouragement. Her wit and humor had me engaged from page one.

Each chapter ends with what Rhea calls "A Little Extra Light for the Path," which is an excerpt from scripture. There is also a section at the back of the book for anyone using it for group discussion. The leader's guide gives suggestions for how to make it work with a group, and suggested weekly homework. The chapters are short, so it would work for a daily meditation if the reader also studied some of the scriptures mentioned in each chapter in more depth.

Also available in Kindle version.

About Rhonda


Rhonda Rhea (pronounced RAY) is a pastor’s wife and mother of five. She is a radio personality living in the St. Louis area. In addition to regular radio features, Rhonda also appears on radio and TV programs throughout the country, as well as enjoying many appearances on Focus on the Family’s “Weekend Magazine” radio program.
Rhonda is a humor columnist for publications in the US and Canada. She has written hundreds of columns and articles for great publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, Marriage Partnership, SBC LIFE, HomeLife, ParentLife and dozens more. She is the author of eight books:


Rhonda has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Counseling and in addition to speaking at special events, teaches at various writers’ conferences across the country. She is affiliated with many great organizations, including Christian Humor Writers, and is the Conference Chairperson for the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a board member of Right to the Heart ministries.

11.15.2012

Why I'm Boycotting Black Friday This Year

I'm so disappointed with the Black Friday promotion from stores that plan to have Black Friday begin on Thursday. I saw several commentaries that referred to it as Grey Thursday. Aptly named, because it's evidence of where our values have gone. We've greyed out gratitude and replaced it with greed. Cold, clutching greed as grey and chilling as a December sky that reaches down with sleet-filled arms and makes us want to stay inside and close the doors. 

Photo Copyright Michelle Rayburn
That's exactly what I'm going to do this Black Friday. I'm going to stay inside and close the doors against this greed played out in marketing that encroaches on the good within our generous souls. I'm closing my wallet and keeping it warm within my pocketbook...no cold plastic from my wallet will benefit any retailer who chooses to promote the Grey Thursday greed.

Thanksgiving has been a day for family. A day when we can share a meal, watch football, play games, take a walk, or sit by the fire and reminisce. I pledge to keep it that way.

Perhaps it's easy to replace "Turkey Day" with "Gimme-Grab Day," but I cannot rationalize it when I look at the real meaning of Thanksgiving Day.

Many other bloggers are boycotting Black Friday this year. Will you join in the quest to preserve the sacredness of a holiday that represents heartfelt gratitude for what we have? Consider how marketing has crowded into our attitudes to the point where we will push and reach to grab a trinket before someone else gets to it. Will you stop the insanity and join my boycott?


11.14.2012

Why Don't You Lighten Up a Little?

November 14 is Lighten Up Day. What could be better than a guest post from humorist Rhonda Rhea to help us lighten up? The following is used with permission from the author, so please do not re-post it without permission. I can't wait to review the book and tell you more about it.

Living in the Light/Dwelling in His Presence
by Rhonda Rhea
excerpt from Chapter 14 of:
 
 I admit it, I’m a cruise fan. I love everything about it. Especially the food. A cruise and overeating go together like a hand in glove. Well more accurately, they go together like a size ten hand in a size two glove. All the gourmet food you can eat, for crying out loud! I guess I was just asking for a trip back to maternity pants. I now refer to myself as “17 years post-partum.” The staff on the ship said the average person gains seven to ten pounds on a seven-day cruise. But then, I’ve always considered myself an overachiever.
 
On prime rib night, my husband and I were walking out of the dining room and, even though he was about to let his belt out a notch, Richie said he was thinking of ordering yet another prime rib. Another one! I figured that could cost him at least another two belt notches. I told him I thought that would be a mistake.
 
Get it? Prime rib? “Mis-steak”?
 
Anytime we’re going to overdo, though, it’s good to make sure we’re “overdoing” in all the right areas. First Thessalonians 4:1 talks about living right to please God and then it says, “Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” To do and to overdo. It’s an encouragement to keep growing. Not so much growing in the “bring on the elastic waistbands” kind of growth. But growing in maturity.
 
We grow as we seek to stay in the light, dwelling in the presence of the Lord, making sure our lives are for Him and all about Him. Our growth is not an option. It’s a command. Verse 7 in that same passage in 1 Thessalonians says, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
 
Rejecting His instruction? Rejecting the Father Himself? Mistake of the highest order.
 
Growing in Him and dwelling in His presence results in a life in which growing “a notch or two” spiritually is a regular happening. The good kind of growth. And seeking that consistency in growth diligently.
 
There’s a lot at stake. Sometimes also a lot at steak.
 

 
Rhonda Rhea is a radio personality, humor columnist, conference/event speaker and author of eight books, including I’m Dreaming of Some White Chocolate, High Heels in High Places, and her newest, How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? She is presently working on her ninth nonfiction book, scheduled to release in early 2013, and just this week got a yes from a publishing board on a two-book fiction deal co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. Rhonda is a pastor’s wife and mother of five mostly grown children. She chuckles through the hubbub with pastor/hubby, Richie Rhea, near St. Louis in Troy, Missouri.
Website: rhondarhea.com
 

About Rhonda's Latest Book:
 
Book Cover PhotoHow Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?—Bright Ideas for Delightful Transformation (New Hope Publishers, 2012). Author and speaker, Patsy Clairmont, calls the book “high voltage humor along with a biblical charge.”
 
In Ephesians 1:18, Paul prays, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” One version calls it “light” that will “flood your hearts.” God shines so much of His light through Scripture so that we can see—we can have understanding.
 
For every person longing for a change, for everyone who is getting weary in a grisly struggle to make a particular change, God-given enlightenment makes possible real change in every way. Lasting change.
 
The God who is powerful enough to create light, then create the sun—the God who keeps the sun blazing and the stars and moon reflecting—that same God is powerful enough, caring enough, and detail-minded enough to light our way. He wants to show us the path of change, and He longs to light the way for us in His magnificent plan for our lives.
 
How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person is a laugh-along-the-way journey into that light through God’s Word. His Word? Now there’s some enlightening! And I hear enlightening has even been known to strike twice in the same place.

11.10.2012

Spark: A Book Reivew


Have you ever participated in a 12-week group with the intent to change in some way? Perhaps it was a Bible study, or a new program. Have you ever noticed how few people really change by the end of such a program? The intent is there, but the change never happens.


In his book titled Spark, Jason Jaggard proposes that the reason the standard way we learn things leaves us unchanged is because we are not challenged to step out of our comfort zone and take risks. He says a spark is a choice, a small risk. Jaggard created what he calls "spark groups" that are risk-oriented rather than focused on information and teaching. Participants build a sense of community that creates accountability. Spark groups are made up of 10-15 people who meet once a week for five weeks. During their time together, each person chooses one risk that improves their life, or improves the world.It isn't program based, or heavy on how-to content. Instead, it's oriented around the group spurring and motivating one another.

Jaggard says, some people ask, "Why so light on content?" He answers, "you are the content." The content isn't in study resources but in the people who participate. It's their dreams, fears, problems, hopes, risks, lives (p. 68). On one hand it seems oversimplified, but on the other, it makes sense. The risk is an action. It's asking the participant to do something rather than think about doing something.

This book explains how to use the spark concept to motivate transformation. The book is a tool. Jaggard also has a website where individuals can register a Spark Group, and find resources and coaching.

Overall, the book is thought-inspiring. At times, it was a little repetitive, and I lost my momentum halfway through. However, the concept of a risk sparking change makes sense. I have an advance reader copy of the book, so it's difficult to tell if it looks like the final product, but the layout is different from standard. Instead of indented paragraphs, it's formatted in business style, left justified with spaces between paragraphs. It's a little different, but maybe trendy?

Although this is a book from Waterbrook Press, a Christian publisher, readers shouldn't expect this to be a deeply spiritual book. It contains illustrations from Scripture, and references to Bible passages, but it also contains expressions such as "hot dang" and I know some readers would be put off by something a little to "hip" for the conservative Christian crowd.

This book will give group leaders something to consider when leading a Bible study, starting an accountability group, or motivating a team. Those who add in the action step of taking a risk might be among the few who actually see change happen.

I received an advance reader copy of this book for review purposes from Waterbrook Press and the Blogging for Books program.

10.01.2012

Book Review - 'The Choice' by Robert Whitlow

A teen in the 1970s, Sandy finds herself pregnant and unsure what to do. Her choice leads to a lifetime of wondering about the circumstances surrounding her decision. 30 years later, an encounter with one of her high school students, who is pregnant and alone, brings Sandy full circle. The Choice by Robert Whitlow takes the reader through Sandy's journey. I won't get into any more detail, only because I really don't want to bias a reader or give away the story. I'll focus the rest of this review on the writing and execution of the plot.

What I liked:
I liked that the author, Robert Whitlow, chose to tackle a tough subject. The concept of pro-choice and pro-life is a hot button issue and it's a brave author that goes there. I also greatly appreciate that the author is a lawyer. I've read many of his book and enjoyed the legal aspect knowing that he's an expert. The story had me engaged and staying up at night to finish so I could see how it ended. It won't be a spoiler for me to say that the character Sandy didn't marry or have children after her decision as a teen and I liked that this added an element to the story. Young people don't always think about how their decisions as teens could alter the course of life. I liked that there was some mystery, danger, and adventure incorporated into the book. That kept me very engaged and I think that's one of Whitlow's strong points when it comes to plot. Speculative fiction fans will enjoy a supernatural element in several incidents with an old woman, who leads the reader to have to decide if she's real or imagined.

What I didn't like:
I had more trouble getting into the dialogue on this one than I ever have had in Whitlow's other books. I think it's because he tackled a female's story and then tried to "talk" like a woman. I felt the dialogue was much more stilted and the description flat compared to his other writing that I loved. There was also one sort of coincidental thing that really affected the plot of the book. I know, God does big things. But once in a while a plot goes a little too far with those incidents and it's almost not believable. One over the top coincidence is believable. Two, maybe. But several more than that with details that have to fall into place? Well, you'll have a difficult time reaching the reader who is a skeptic.

Conclusions

All in all, I liked the book. However, I didn't find it outstanding like I did Whitlow's other books. I felt like the characters fell into stereotypes and that made some things predictable. I think that left the story a little lacking in dimension too. The author isn't subtle about the pro-choice pro-life issue and some readers may see the book as having an agenda. Others will love it. At least it makes people think more than the average fiction book. There is a short section of group discussion questions at the end that gives readers a chance to think about the content.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book for review purposes from the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze review program. I was not compensated for my objective review.

8.18.2012

The winner of Rare Earth by Davis Bunn is...

And the winner of a copy of Rare Earth by Davis Bunn is Linda. Thanks for commenting on my review post Linda! You have until Tuesday evening, August 21 to contact me with your mailing address (check your e-mail inbox for a message from me). 

Thanks to all my readers who commented! Thanks for your patience too. The drawing slipped my mind. Or my mind slipped out for a stroll. Or something like that.

8.06.2012

Book Review - Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

Did you know that Beth Wiseman doesn't only write Amish fiction? It's true. I just finished Need You Now, Wiseman's latest contemporary novel. This is a story that touches the heart on many levels. It has all of the elements I love in a great book: intriguing characters, an element of suspense, real issues that give the reader something more than entertainment, and a emotional connection to the story and characters. Wiseman knows how to tell a story!

In the book, main character Darlene is at a place where many stay-at-home moms may find themselves. Wondering what her purpose is now that her children are older, and wondering how she can help the family budget, Darlene looks for a job outside of the home. She's deeply in love with her husband of nearly 20 years, but she's lonely after moving to a new town, and she spends a lot of time alone while Brad spends a lot of time at the office. Basically, she's vulnerable. That vulnerability opens the doors for receiving attention from another very attentive male who listens and cares, and shows interest.

This story is so much like that of many women I know. That vulnerability plays tricks with their minds, and like many other women, Darlene begins suspecting her husband's time at the office is about more than just work. I won't give away the story, but it's raw and real.

In the middle of all this, Darlene meets her neighbor, another woman who needs a friend. Layla, a glamorous cowgirl with loads of connections, is a vulnerable soul under the façade of movie star glamour. There are multilayered aspects to the story and the relationships and I had to force myself to get my work done when I wanted to be reading the book instead. Wiseman addresses the topic of teen cutting in the book, as well as the struggles of parenting teens. She addresses special needs children, the work versus stay at home struggle, and so much more. Like I said, it's multilayered.

I really loved the book. I think if there is anything I'd change it's part of Layla's story. Some might consider it a spoiler, but since it's in the middle of the book, I don't think saying this next thing gives away too much (but avert your eyes if you don't like to know ANYTHING about a story before reading it).  I thought it was very abrupt how quickly Layla went from hating God about a tragedy in her life to falling back in love with him and giving out spiritual advice. I think the book needed a little more length to allow this transition to happen in a more natural progression. It isn't common for this to happen overnight for most people, and I think readers who want to know how they can get from the one point to the other would appreciate seeing Layla's process. Other than that, this book is well done and I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wiseman has moved beyond bonnets, and I predict this is the beginning of another career explosion for her!

I received a complimentary Kindle version of this book for review from the Book Sneeze program from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

7.26.2012

And the Winner of a Free Book Is...

Congratulations Sandy Salsbury for having your name drawn to receive a free copy of Hidden in Dreams by Davis Bunn. 

Sandy, you have 3 days to respond to me by e-mail (click link or send to michelle at michellerayburn dot com) with your postal mailing address and I will forward that info to the publicist. The publisher will be mailing books directly to all the winners on the blog tour in a few weeks.

I assigned a number to each entry (3 per person if you did all three tasks) and then used Random Number to draw the winner. There were 35 entries and I drew number 8, which was assigned to Sandy.

Watch for the next drawing next week for a copy of Rare Earth by Davis Bunn.

7.20.2012

Theater Shooting in Colorado Prompts Question - Should Young Children See Violent Films?

I woke up this morning to the news of an overnight shooting at a movie theater during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Reports are still out about the number of people killed in the incident, but some say up to 14 people, and at least 12. Dozens are being treated for injuries. As the news unfolds and people who were present in the theater come forward with their stories, it make me think of a deeper topic. The shooting itself is a horrible tragedy and it makes me sick. But there's more.

Photo from IMDB
I'm seeing 17-year-olds talk about being in the theater with their 12-year-old brothers. I hear a woman talking about stepping over a 6-year-old victim. This makes me ask, "What were those kids doing in a movie theater at midnight?" And it isn't really the time of day that concerns me so much, but the content of the movie. One reporter called this a "very violent movie" this morning on the news, and Common Sense Media describes it as "ultra-violent." Others have prematurely speculated that the gunman was acting out some of the violence from the movie and was dressed in character representing one of the movie characters. Regardless, if this is violent movie, why were there such young children there?

What do you think? Do you think young children should be at movies such as The Dark Knight Rises? The movie has a PG-13 rating for "intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language" according to IMDB movie info. Do you think this is an appropriate rating? How do you decide which movies you as an adult, or your family of older children will see?  If you have watched the rest of the Batman series and plan to see this film, I'd love to hear your perspective, since I haven't seen the movies. 

My children were young teens when The Dark Knight came out, and they weren't very happy with me for not allowing them to watch it. Do you agree with my decision? Or do you think I'm overprotective?


7.19.2012

More about Rare Earth - and a Free Preview

FREEBIE
Free preview of chapters 1-3 of Rare Earth Download Here

Q & A With Davis Bunn about his book Rare Earth

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 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.

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.
 
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.



Book Review of Rare Earth by Davis Bunn, and another Giveaway

As promised last week, I have another review of a book by Davis Bunn today. He released two books with two different publishers all this month, so the web is buzzing about him.

I'm extending the deadline for entry in last week's giveaway to next week, so watch for a post on Wednesday, July 25 to see if your name is the winner.

See the end of this post for another giveaway.


From the back of the book- Rare Earth
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.

Watch the Book Trailer

My Review
I like Davis Bunn's suspense novels because they include tension and action without unnecessary violence. He also proves that a book can be awesome without main characters who kill without good reason, swear for the sake of it, and justify crime. Yet, he doesn't sacrifice the excitement of a well developed suspenseful plot. I give him an A+ for this.

Rare Earth is a continuation from Lion of Babylon, but readers who haven't read that book will have no trouble understanding this one. Lead Character Marc Royce begins with a new assignment and almost all of the characters are new, so it's really a new book, with the character being the only tie-in that makes it part of a series.

I like how Bunn takes his time in revealing to the reader what the story is really about. I like how he sets up tension, keeps the reader guessing who can be trusted, and keeps the suspense going right up to the end. The book wraps up in a way that leaves room for more in the series.

I loved most of the book, but in the middle, I had a hard time following. Action slowed a little and there were a lot of characters to follow, so I couldn't read with any distractions. In a few places I had to look back to try to remember who a character was, and how he or she fit in the overall scheme. I do like how main character Marc Royce is more humble in this book than in the last one, and he works together more with locals, rather than just leaping in like the big hero from the US. There is one other thing that stood out for me. The plot involves people from several nations, and there is one country ( I won't give it away) that is a classic "bad guy" all the way through, and I was waiting for some redeeming quality, or someone to defect to the good side, but that never came.

I really liked this action-packed thriller, and I think both men and women will like it. Bunn is good with description, so as a female, I enjoyed that. I think my husband would appreciate the action. So it's a good combo.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and I recommend this and the first book in the series to readers who like gripping suspense.

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.

The Giveaway

The publisher has generously offered a free copy of this book to one of my readers. To enter your name in the drawing up to three times, simply do the following:
  • In the book, Marc Royce is thrust into an unknown situation without much preparation. In the comments below, describe a time when you were tossed into a situation that left you feeling vulnerable or uncertain. How did you respond? What made it difficult?
  • For a second entry, tell me about another Davis Bunn book you have read.
  • For a third entry, post a link to this blog post on facebook or twitter and then comment that you did it. 
On August 1, I'll use a random number generator to choose one winner from the comments you leave ( I assign a number for each of the 3 things above, in the order of your posting).

Make sure that you subscribe to my blog feed by e-mail (see the subscribe box in the sidebar if you aren't already a subscriber) so you see the post when I name the winner. The winner will have 3 days to respond to me by e-mail with a postal mailing address and a book will be shipped directly from the publisher.



7.12.2012

Q and A with Davis Bunn on Hidden in Dreams

A Conversation with Davis Bunn, 
author of Hidden in Dreams
 
 Q: How much research did you have to conduct to write this intriguing story?

 A: In a way, I suppose you could say I’ve been researching this story all my adult life. I did my studies in international economics and finance. Observing the difficulties our nation and economy has faced over the past three years, as well as what we personally have endured, has been tough. It really was great to have this chance to give voice to what we increasingly hear, that the people at fault need to be brought to justice, and the risk of another economic collapse needs to be halted.

Q: Why is it important for you to write about such timely themes?
A: Economic uncertainty defines the world we live in. I feel it is important to show how the timeless and eternal messages are applicable to every aspect of our world and our lives. And how the gift of peace and wisdom can be used in every circumstance we face.

Q: When you wrote Book of Dreams, did you have plans for this sequel, Hidden in Dreams?
A: Two months after Book of Dreams was released, I had the call every author dreams about and yearns for—a vice president of NBC/Universal suggested we discuss the possibility of turning it into a television series. I was put in touch with one of their producers and over the next six months began working up the basic structure of what this program might look like. One of the ideas I found most appealing became the basis for Hidden in Dreams. There is as yet no firm decision about the television project. But it has been a blast to even be considered.

Q: In writing a sequel it’s always a challenge to include enough back story to satisfy those who haven’t read the first book while still making sure the book stands alone. How do you approach this dilemma?
A: You’re right, it can indeed be troublesome, but this time it all fell together very easily. The structure just flowed. That sometimes happens, where the story seems to create itself. I wish it was true all the time. I can’t even say why it was such a smooth process with Hidden in Dreams. But there was a sense of impatience about the back story, as though I needed to fit in just a few paragraphs, but I couldn’t allow myself or the reader to be drawn too far from this new story’s flow.

Q: You’re writing about two women in this novel. Is it ever a challenge to write from the female point of view?
A: Learning to write from a woman’s point of view is very difficult for a male writer, as it usually is for a woman author writing a man’s story. Before I was published, I became friends with a husband and wife team who were both opera stars. The woman often sang a male role in a Mozart opera that was originally designed for a young boy, but which nowadays is usually sung by a woman with a slightly lower range, called a coloratura.

I discussed my difficulty with her, of trying to make my women sound real. She told me that my trouble stemmed from working on a woman character from the outside. It wasn’t about making women ’sound’ anything. It was all about making the character live from the inside-out.

As I worked on the point of view issue, trying to put my friend’s challenge into practice, I also began going into any meeting with a woman carrying a secret tape recorder, and taping everything that was said. I then went back and wrote out every word. It was perhaps the most boring month of my entire writing career.

But gradually I found that I could ‘hear’ the speech patterns of these women, and reshape them into structures that fitted around what was happening in my stories. And through this exercise, the emotional content that lay behind the dialogue, the person who was expressing herself, became more real, more solid.

And then I met my wife, Isabella. And the process of instruction at the intimate level of a God-centered marriage began to unfold.

Q: In Hidden, Elena and her colleagues are attacked in Miami. After the attack, why did Elena not take more precautions? 
A: Elena had a choice to make, and so did I. Either she could play the delicate flower – fearing everything and going nowhere – or she could go on the hunt. I liked the balance between her internal fears and uncertainties, and her quest as a professional psychologist. She is, in effect, trained to look for clues – to go on the quest of drawing out the hidden. I felt the actions she took, despite the dangers, to be her natural response.

Q: Is there another Elena Burroughs book planned?

A: I have another idea. The question is, what do the readers want, and how positive is the reaction to this story?

Q: While you are a prolific writer, you also get out there and live too! What’s been your most exciting real life adventure?
A: It would probably be better to ask, what has been the most exciting real-life event so far this year. Undoubtedly that would be working on the set of a film being shot from a screenplay I wrote last year.

Unlimited has now ‘wrapped’, that is, filming has been completed. The producer and director are now deep into the editing process. The film is due for release in September, 2013. I am currently working on the novel, which comes out a couple of months before then.

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 Unlimited will come alive on the page as well as the screen.

Q: What is your goal as a novelist?
A: I want to combine a truly entertaining read with a powerful after-effect. My dream is that long after the book is set down with a satisfied sigh, there are still images that surface, lessons that can be drawn, genuine hope and healing and challenges and inspirations. I want my writing to be worthy of the gift.

Hidden in Dreams Book Review and a Giveaway

About Hidden in Dreams   
Just when the world’s foremost expert on dream analysis, Dr. Elena Burroughs, thinks she is getting her life back under control after losing her position at Oxford University and the man she hoped to fall in love with, she is approached by Rachel Lamprey, the product manager of an innovative new ADHD treatment about to hit the market.

Rachel asks for Elena’s help with a clinical trial participant who has had a disturbing dream foretelling a cataclysmic global financial collapse. But even more alarming is the fact that fifteen people scattered across the globe—including Elena herself—begin to experience the same repetitive, devastating dreams of economic ruin just as one bank crisis follows another, suggesting that these aren’t merely dreams.

As Elena searches for answers in her professional networks, she is forced to form an unlikely alliance with her most vehement critic and is drawn back into the spotlight as the public face of the so-called dreamers. As Elena and her collaborators attempt to discover the dreams’ source, the clock ticks down to devastation. Suddenly, it’s no longer just about the dreams. It’s about survival.

My Review
Have you ever wakened from a dream wondering if it had really happened? Dreams, although subconscious, can often feel eerily like reality. What happens when 15 people dream the same nightmare? In different places around the world? Hidden in Dreams will give you chills as Dr. Elena Burroughs seeks to unravel the mystery behind the parallel dreams of 15 people, one of those being herself. Is it coincidence? A medial mystery? Or some sort of twisted conspiracy?

Readers will journey with Dr. Burroughs in answering these questions. Likely, they will also feel the helpless terror of those experiencing the dreams. In Hidden in Dreams, author Davis Bunn continues the series from book one, titled Book of Dreams. However readers who didn't read the first book won't be lost in this one. Although there are referrals to the first book, that one wrapped up at the end, and this begins with the next phase of Dr. Burroughs.

Davis Bunn has an engaging style that includes a thread of adventure and mystery combined with thriller. The plot is complex and just as with Bunn's other books, he makes his story lines feel believable enough for the reader to contemplate whether it could happen in real life.

If there is one thing that would make the book even more satisfying, it would be to have the reader get a more vivid picture of what the dreams were about. I won't spoil the plot, so I'll be a little vague here, but there are times when the author describes a dream as "far, far worse" than a previous one. But I didn't get a clear picture of what was far, far worse about it. This is a big challenge for an author, since dreams are difficult to really picture, but I wanted to really feel what was terrifying about it, and some of the descriptions kept me disengaged from really feeling the terror that the characters felt.

I loved it and I give the book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. 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.


Intrigued? You can read the first chapter of the book for free: Download

You'll also find a free group discussion guide online: Download

Now for the giveaway!

The publisher has generously offered a free copy of this book to one of my readers. To enter your name in the drawing up to three times, simply do the following:
  • In the comments below, describe the scariest dream you have ever had.
  • For a second entry, sign up for Davis's e-newsletter and then leave a comment telling me you subscribed. Subscribe to Newsletter
  • For a third entry, like Davis's facebook page and then comment telling me you did. Facebook Page
On July 25, I'll use a random number generator to choose one winner from the comments you leave. Make sure that you subscribe to my blog feed by e-mail (see the subscribe box in the sidebar if you aren't already a subscriber) so you see the post when I name the winner. The winner will have 3 days to respond to me by e-mail with a postal mailing address and a book will be shipped directly from the publisher.

Feel free to tell your friends about the drawing by sending a link to this post.

7.11.2012

Watch for Two Book Giveaways Coming!


This week and next, I'll be featuring two great new books from author Davis Bunn. Watch for the book reviews and the instructions on how to enter coming. In the meantime, let me introduce you to Davis Bunn and his latest novel.
About Davis Bunn
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.

Book Trailer for Hidden in Dreams


Find Davis Bunn on the web: Website, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter
 
Tomorrow: my review of Hidden in Dreams

6.28.2012

Five Miles South of Peculiar : Book Review


A brand new book from author Angela Hunt that I think you'll want to read.
My Review

Three sisters. One widowed and full of attitude. One quirky and naïve. The other a glamorous Broadway star. All so different, but so connected. In Five Miles South of Peculiar, by Angela Hunt, a 50th birthday party reunites twins Darlene and Carlene, and sister Nolie when Carlene returns to the family homestead, now occupied by her sisters. Secrets buried deep in the past have kept the women physically and emotionally separated for years. For three different reasons, each sister has a broken heart. Darlene has thrown herself into volunteer work to compensate for her sadness. Carlene stands at a crossroad wondering what to do now that her career has hopelessly and abruptly ended. She lost the love of her life years ago and never got over it. Nolie has immersed herself in sewing aprons as gifts for her neighbors and raising her dogs.

Each sister faces her own challenge and each has her own journey towards letting go of the past. It's a story of love, loss, betrayal and rivalry where each character seeks healing and forgiveness. The characters are interesting and engaging. Each is eccentric in her own way. It's a warm and endearing tale.

Most aspects of the story outcome were fairly predictable, but I really didn't mind, since this wasn't billed as suspense. I enjoyed watching the characters change and develop. Sometimes I just enjoy a book for the artistic portrayal of people and events, rather than the unexpected twists and turns. Angela Hunt knows how to deliver on intrigue by creating complex and multilayered relationships and she connects her readers emotionally to the story. She also knows how to weave in a subtle thread of faith without having it feel like someone pasted religion into the book.

I could see this made into a movie because it would be so fun to see these characters come to life. And the story line would be perfect for a movie. Reminds me of something like Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes.

I highly recommend this for a fun summer read. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a free review copy of this book from Howard Books.

About the Author
Angela Hunt PhotoWith nearly 4 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including The Tale of Three Trees, Don't Bet Against Me, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Her nonfiction book Don't Bet Against Me, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She and her husband make their home in Florida with their dogs. Learn more about Angela at AngelaElwellHunt.com.




LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails