Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts

Saturday, July 28, 2012

America at the Tipping Point - Gary Frazier


Pages:  232
Source:  Borrowed from my mother
Genre:  Christian


Goodreads:
"Books abound on the dilemma's facing America. We recognize America is in trouble. However, America at the Tipping Point is a fresh and bold word not only about the economic and political issues but also about the moral choices that have led us to the brink. How did we get here and what can we do...read what Gary Frazier has to say and you will see " Tim LaHaye, Co-author of the Left Behind series "What a sobering reading experience. Dr. Frazier will rock your world and challenge you to make some changes in your world view." Pat Williams, Senior Vice President, Orlando Magic, Author, Extreme Dreams Depend on Team "Gary Frazier writes with passion and conviction and motivates like few people I know to live with a sense of urgency in these turbulent times. Read this book because you will be filled with hope and faith to make a difference in the world." Dr. Jack Graham, Sr. Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church "I have long respected Dr. Gary Frazier's prophetic voice, but his new training book, America at the Tipping Point, captured my attention as a patriot. In a day of white noise rants against our beloved country, many have prematurely trumpeted taps. Dr. Frazier has stepped up to sound reveille and lead us to action." Dr. Jay Strack, President, Student Leadership University Gary Frazier is a respected and recognized speaker and writer on the subject of Bible prophecy and current events. He is a former pastor and has traveled to Israel more than 100 times since 1971. Gary is founder and President of Discovery Ministries located in the Dallas Ft. Worth metro area. Gary holds both a M.A. and a Ph.D. from Louisiana Baptist University and was honored with a Doctor of Humanities degree from Liberty University. He has appeared on numerous television programs as well as speaking on radio nationwide. Gary and his wife Sandra reside in Arlington, Texas.


My Thoughts:
My mother asked me to read the book before she shipped it to my sister.  I sat and couldn't put it down.  This book looks at the moral decline America is unfortunately in and shows us how it is getting worse and going to continue to do so if we as Christians don't do something to stop it.  This nations was founded on Christian principles and we need to stand up for those principles.  Unfortunately as a teacher in the public school system I see the moral decline.  We teach tolerance and multiculturalism beyond what was originally meant.  We step on the rights of many for the few.  


Gary has done an excellent job of backing up what he says with the Bible and other resources.  He goes to great lengths to give a list of those resources at the back for further investigation.  One of the toughest  areas of his book was the section on abortion.  I can definitely see the parallels of desensitizing our nation to abortion and euthenasia with what Hitler and many others have done.  We give it a different name and put a little make up on it and pass it off as something less harmful.    I think every teen should be forced to read, along with their parents the section in the back on abortions.  If we did so we would maybe have less abortions.


This is definitely an eye opener and one I am glad my mother asked me to read.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Submerged - Dani Pettrey


Publisher:  Bethany House
Pages:  320
Source:  Received a review copy from publisher
Genre: Christian, Romance, Suspense


From the Publisher:

A sabotaged plane.  Two dead deep-water divers. One single clue.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey, Alaska, again.  She has a past, and a reputation—and Yancey’s a town that doesn’t forget.  She’s returned only to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash, but then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can face dangerous rescue dives.  He can face the fear a murderer may be threatening his town.  But facing the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge.  She broke his heart…but doesn’t seem to be the same girl who left Yancey ten years ago.  And he’s not the same guy she left behind.

Racing against the clock and a rising body count, Bailey and Cole must move beyond the hurts of their pasts to work together until the truth of what is hidden in the depths finally surfaces.


My Thoughts:
This sucked me in right from the beginning.  We get a good look at how things we do in our teens can scar us.  It doesn’t matter if we come to the Lord and he takes away our sins, we have a tendency to hold on to things because we thing we don’t deserve forgiveness.  This  is how Bailey feels.  When she has to return to the home of her teen years she believes EVERYONE will remember her the way she was and not see her for the person she has become.  I loved how Cole could see the difference and instead of pushing Bailey to recognize and accept the change in herself he prayed that God would open her eyes. 

The suspense was awesome.  I know this is only the first book in the series.  I can’t wait to find out more about Landon and Jake, and the mysterious missing brother Reef.  We were left with just a small look at their character.  There is so much more to be learned.  If you are looking for a book that will hold you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, this is it.  If you are looking for a book that has a Godly message but doesn’t preach at you, then this is definitely the book for you.  You will fall in love with Piper who is  one of the kindest, most loving people.  She would do anything for you.  Cole is the very protective brother who runs the business with his siblings. Gage is the bottomless pit who always has Coles back as long as he is well fed. Kayden comes off as tough.  It is almost as if she THINKS she must prove herself to be equal in a man’s world. 
Landon the cop, and Jake the mysterious man who drifted into Yancey and works for Cole leave us wanting to know more of their life.

I must mention one other thing about this book.  I would never have thought I would become interested in Russian History.  This book not only teaches you a lot of Russian History, but if you are like me, you feel you must do more reading on the subject.  I love books that make me want to learn more.  I will definitely recommend this author and look forward to reading more of her books.  Shattered, the second book in her series should be out in February of 2013.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Implosion – Joel Rosenberg


Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Pages:  400
Source: I received a free copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers.
Genre:  Christian Living

From Goodreads:
Bestselling author and international political expert Joel C. Rosenberg tackles the question: Is America an empire in decline or a nation poised for a historic Renaissance?America teeters on a precipice. In the midst of financial turmoil, political uncertainty, declining morality, the constant threat of natural disasters, and myriad other daunting challenges, many wonder what the future holds for this once-great nation. Will history's greatest democracy stage a miraculous comeback, returning to the forefront of the world's economic and spiritual stage? Can America's religious past be repeated today with a third Great Awakening? Or will the rise of China, Russia, and other nations, coupled with the US's internal struggles, send her into a decline from which there can be no return? "Implosion" helps readers understand the economic, social, and spiritual challenges facing the United States in the 21st century, through the lens of biblical prophecy
audience, I tend to think that he's right.

My thoughts:

Joel Rosenberg takes a look at current events with a Biblical eye.  He shows us that no matter how dismal the outlook, there is always reason for hope.  He has taken current events and put them into perspective through a prophetic end-times view.  He has four chapters in his book just devoted to what way we may implode as a nation; war/terror, financial ruin, natural disasters, and finally the rapture.  He showed that spirituality is on a roller-coaster.  When things are bad people turn to God and pray and then when things start to get better we kind of shove God to the side.  An example he gave of this in the book was the way the nation turned to God after the events of 9/11.  Just a couple of months later it was like, okay back to the norm.  We read and know the end-time prophecies but seem to sit back and take the attitude that we can’t do anything about it.  I believe God will continue to use us until HE is done with us.  We need to turn back to Christ and cling to him with all we have.  It is just my opinion that everyone should read this book.  It gives us a great look at where we are headed if we don’t wake up.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Perfect Square - Vannetta Chapman


Publisher:  Zondervan
Pages:  352
Source:  Won a copy from author
Genre:    Amish, Romance, Mystery, Christian

From Goodreads:
There's more to the quaint northern Indiana town of Shipshewana than Amish-made furniture, immaculate farms, and close-knit families. When a dead girl is found floating in a local pond, murder is also afoot. And Reuben Fisher is in jail as the suspect. Reuben refuses to divulge any information, even to clear himself of a crime Deborah is certain he didn't commit.

My Thoughts:
I love a murder mystery, especially if it has been taken up a notch by placing it in an Amish setting.  Callie and her friends are once again trying to solve a mystery.  Reuben has been locked up in jail as a suspect in the death of an Amish girl.  No one in the community believes Reuben could or would have done such a thing.  While Callie has her hands full with one mystery, an old Amish gentleman comes to her seeking her help.  His daughter had disappeared during the 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes.  I remember those tornadoes and the feel of our house being lifted off of its foundation.  Now Callie must try to make the connection between the two mysteries to solve them.

I love reading books by Vannetta Chapman.  It is a great blend of Amish and English, Romance and Mystery.  The Christian aspects are not preachy.  I can’t wait until the third book in this series, Material Witness, comes out this fall.  If you want to see what Vannetta is up to go to her Facebook page.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

First Sunday - Donald and Aura Elton


Publisher:  CreateSpace
Pages:  256
Source:  Review copy from publisher in exchange for review.
Genre:  Religion

The whole week after 9/11 we walked around in shock.  We rode the roller coaster of emotions.  Anger was an extremely hard one to deal with.  Through this book, a collection of sermons from different pastors from different denominations we discover that it is okay to be angry.  It is not okay to sin in our anger.  The pastors struggled just as we did with what to say and how to react.  Yet , on that first Sunday after the attacks they gave us a reason to push forward.  They let us know ad feel like we were not the only ones feeling this way.  They let us know it was okay to feel the emotions we were feeling.  This is an inspiring book that reminds us that we find our strength in God.  This is an uplifting book that needs to be read by everyone.



The book is available at http://FirstSundayBook.com

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day Two of Catch Up Reviews

Last Night I was looking for an empty sheet of paper to write notes on.  I pulled out a notebook I had not used at home or school for at least a month and a half.  I worked my way back toward a blank sheet and suddenly found some reviews I had previously written. I went to my blog to see if I had already posted them and lo and behold I had not.  My husband stood in the doorway to my office chuckling.  He thought it was funny that I had misplaced eight book reviews.  I kept thinking I was losing my mind.  I knew I had read the books but couldn't find the book reviews.  This is what happens when you have so many different notebooks for different purposes.  You know, one for each of your WIPs, one for school, one for reviews.  Then when that student who has no paper comes up and asks for some, you grab the first notebook you can get your hands on and then forget what you had done.  So today we will start off with four of the eight reviews I had written.  I know the authors will be happy.  They must have thought I had forgotten them.  I am trying to get things caught up and organized so that I can start the new year fresh.


Tithing and How to Get There - Paul Stephensen
Publisher:  Lulu.com
Pages:  66
Source:  Review copy from author in exchange for review
Genre:  Religion, Financial Planning


This was very appropriate for this time of year.  I know God allows things to happen for a reason.  We look at Christmas as a time for giving.  We give to others all the time but, how often and how much do we give to God.  In this book the author takes us on a short course of tithing.  He started off defining stewardship and giving examples.  God promises to bless us.  There are examples all throughout the Bible of God doing just this.    The author points out that tithing is a privilege and that it is a symbol of total service to the Lord.  It show our willingness to serve him wholly.  For me Chapter 6 was the most important in the entire book.  It was full of budgets, and worksheets and all the things I truly need to get myself back on track.   I have no credit cards.  My philosophy has always been if I didn't have the cash then I didn't need it.  Unfortunately this book made me look at my spending habits.  When I got paid the first thing I would do is buy books.  It didn't matter that I had 300 unread books on my shelf, I always bought more.  I would buy 2-4 books a month.  That may not seem like much but when you have nothing to start with and you are spending what you don't have it adds up.  This is a book I will definitely recommend to friends.  It is a book that Christian and Non-Christian alike can benefit from.  I am thankful the author sent me a copy for review, even if I did lose the review.






Flashes From the Other World – Julie Ann Weinstein
Publisher:  All Things That Matter Press
Pages:  160
Source:  Received a copy for review
Genre:  Short Stories

Product Description:
Magic without the hocus pocus, these stories explore the ethereal blur between reality and not, between dream and sleep, between love and 'other than' love. They present relationships with a tender wackiness. Tossed into the mix are mischievous ghosts, who give the talking plants and even the seductive and vocal grains of sand a run for their money. Quirky and offbeat, these stories will touch your heart, although they may tug at your funny bone first.
About the Author
Julie Ann Weinstein has published over ninety short stories and is a Pushcart Nominee. She is an editorial consultant and a flash fiction workshop leader in the Southern California area. Julie is also published under the name Julie Ann Shapiro. She currently lives in Encinitas, California, where she is working on future short story collections.

My Thoughts:
This is metaphorical writing at its best. The author has divided her book into three parts.  Part one is a collection of paranormal stories.  The are very short and bizarre.  Not bizarre in a bad way.  Bizarre in the sense they make you think.  They have a depth to them that makes you wonder if there is a deeper meaning, a hidden meaning.
The second part of the book is called relationships.  The first story grabbed me and made me hold on.  Maybe it is because my mom has to live with me now that I could see parallels between the relationship the daughter had with her mother and my own.  It takes great talent to write from the heart and attain such a deep meaning that will be read and interpreted differently by each reader.
The third part of the book is called Surreal.  I enjoyed “Blue Moon Carbs”.  This is a book where the reader is free and encouraged to make all kinds of connections.  As I try to lose weight this one story stood out.  It felt like I was reading the battle that goes on in my head every time I eat something that could potentially cause me to gain weight.  I loved it.  My favorite part of this book was actually in the back where the author explains what inspired her to write each of her stories.  Her explanations made me go back and re-read some of the stories as I looked at them through the eyes of what inspired her.  It put a truly different spin on it.  This is not an easy book to describe.  I will recommend it.  Just don’t pick it up for a quick read because that is the one thing it is not.





Justifiable Oregon – Pamela Wright


Publisher:  Reaction Press
Pages:  296
Source: Review copy from publisher
Genre:  Adult Thriller

Have you ever wished something bad would happen to someone evil because God and the law took too long? There are those that risk it all for the rest of us. This novel is about those few and the risks they take on our behalf, and the bystanders that unwittingly get caught in the fray. Duplicity, is the exquisite yacht manned by such men. Men intent on luring the world’s wealthiest human traffickers out of their million’s and into their final moments on earth inside Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

My Thoughts
After reading the first few chapters  the “Dexter” series came to mind.  In case you don’t remember it, or you’ve never seen it, Dexter was a cop who worked in the police lab.  His specialty was blood.  At night he hunted down and killed those who managed to get off for some technicality, and justice was served.
Often we hear cases of criminals getting off scott free.  What if there was a force that took care of those criminals that were put back on the street?  In Justifiable Oregon that is just what happens.  There is a group of people who take those very criminals out to the Tilamook Rock Lighthouse  in Seaside Oregon.  There the criminal arrives drugged up.  As they come to they are tortured and then their bodies are cremated.  Who are these criminals?  They are members of a drug cartel, and those who traffic in humans.  Want to know more?  Read the book.  Be forewarned that this is not a book you can start and stop at will.  This is a book that demands to be read from beginning to end.






Fury – Elizabeth Miles

Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Pages:  384
Source:  Received a review copy from publisher
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal

From Goodreads:
Sometimes sorry isn't enough....
It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

My Thoughts:
The setting of this book sets the over all tone or mood.  It is freezing cold, and snowy.  That is exactly how this story leaves you feeling, cold and empty inside.  You have Emily who is best friends with Gabby.  But what kind of friend flirts with your boyfriend?  Emily does.  She is sure that she and Zach are made for each other.  First reason to hate a character in this book.  Emily is selfish and so full of herself.  Then we have Chase who is not financially in the same league as the rest of his friends.  He tries to make up for his past by becoming something he really isn’t.  He tramples on people to get where he wants to be.  To make Emily and Chase pay for what they have done to others the three furies Ty, Meg and Ali pay a visit.  Ty is so hot that she has Chase fawning all over her.   Can you say revenge.  The job of the furies is to seek revenge for those who they feel need it against those they deserve it.  This  whole book has a creepy movie feel to it.  I could actually see it come out on the big screen.  Although the characters so so many wrong things and justify it to make you hate them they are so wonderfully developed you can’t help love them.  This is the first book in this series and it will definitely not be the last one I read.  The ending definitely leaves you hanging for more.  Definitely one to recommend to all of your friends who like creepy, paranormal, mythical type things.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist - Charles Massegee

Publisher:  Outskirts press, Inc.
Pages:  452
Source:  I received a copy from the author in exchange for a review
Genre:  Religion


From Goodreads:
Discover the Bible-Based Truth about
the End Times You Can’t Afford to Ignore

These days, more people than ever are looking to the Book of Revelation for answers. The only book of the Bible that Jesus personally signed as author, the Book of Revelation holds the key to understanding our future. But its complex and multilayered meanings are often misunderstood. Now, author and Bible expert Charles Massegee unlocks the secrets of Revelation to expose the life-changing messages you need to know. You’ll learn:

•The 7 secrets to understanding the Book of Revelation
•The most important symbols and definitions that will change everything you thought you knew about the Bible
•Which prophecies in the Book of Revelation have already come true – and what it means for the future
•Why we are now living in the so-called “end times”
•What to expect during the last days and why the coming of Christ is something to celebrate – not fear
•The evidence showing Islam’s connection to the antichrist and the last days
•Much, much more

Appropriate for a Christian scholar or newcomer to Jesus, this accessible book is based on solid scriptural evidence and analysis and skilled insight into today’s news and culture.
My mother has a habit of checking out the books I get in, and removing from my desk any she wants to read.  Often I don’t realize it until I get ready to read it.  This was one of those books.  She kept it hid in her room until she was finished with it. 

My Mother’s Thoughts:
The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist is one of those books that can’t be read in a single sitting.  I  especially enjoyed the fact that everything was backed up with scripture.  A lot of research has  gone into this book.  I agree that we are living n the last days.  Once my daughter has written her review and gives the book back to me I will recommend it to all of my friends and my pastor.  This is a must read for all Christians and those searching.

My Thoughts:
One of my favorite parts of this whole book was something that has puzzled me and fascinated me from the day I first heard it mentioned.    Hi section on what the number 666 means is very clear to me now.  I’d never thought of the 3 sixes as standing for the unholy trinity.  I also liked the explanation that seven is the number of completeness and Satan and the antichrist will never come near that so the number 6 is their number.

My mom was right.  This is definitely one of those books that you must read and study.  I have been fascinated with Revelations since my early years of sitting in church.  I didn’t always understand what was going on, so I sat and read Revelations.  I am a visual person so the pictures I painted in my head were often very literal and confusing.  This book has done what all of my years of study have not been able to do,  explain in a manner I understand, the End Times.

About the author:
Dr. Charles Massegee comes from a long line of God's messengers. At eighteen he was
licensed for the ministry at the Second Baptist Church in Ranger, Texas. A year later he
was ordained at the New Hope Baptist Church in Ranger and was the first pastor of the
East Side Baptist Church in Ranger while a freshman in college. He is a graduate of
Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and has furthered his education at the
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He leads in over thirty
revivals, crusades and Revelation Bible conferences a year throughout the U.S. 
More information about his ministry is available at www.massegee.org.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Awesome Book of Bible Stories for Kids – Sandy Silverthorn

Publisher:  Harvest House
Pages:  144
Source: NetGalley
Genre:  Middle Grade Bible Stories 

Award-winning writer and illustrator Sandy Silverthorne pairs biblical accounts with contemporary technology and culture. The result is a hilarious and informative blend of Bible lessons and modern-day applications. Kids ages 6 to 12 will instantly relate to Bible characters and eternal truths presented from a twenty-first-century kid’s perspective. Stories are introduced with improbable questions that will draw young readers in and stimulate their thinking. For example, what if…

Noah’s ark was a cruise ship?
Gideon vs. the Midianites was replayed as a video game?
Nehemiah’s rebuilding of Jerusalem was featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?
These comical illustrations and thoroughly up-to-date retellings of Bible stories will captivate young minds and hearts while maintaining the integrity of the characters and message.

My Thoughts :
I loved this book.   It is a wonderful way of getting kids to think about Bible Stories.   It takes the Bible Story and asks a twisted question to make the reader think.  At the same time it is giving the true story and where to locate it in the Bible.

I read a part of one of the stories to my mother.  She reminded me of a time when I was eighteen and taught Children’s Church with her.  We had this very age group.  I had a ventriloquist puppet who told an introduction to our Bible Story.  My nieces remember a time I was telling the David and Goliath story and “Johnny” called Goliath a basket ball player because of his height.  The kids all knew he was a giant, yet when we talked about him being so tall he could have been the star on the basketball team they “got it”.  I have to say that Sandy Silverthorne has come up with much better stories than I ever did.  This is a book that is a must have for every family.  It is one I plan on putting on my shelves at school.  It is just twisted enough many kids who would not normally read it might pick it up.


Friday, August 19, 2011

In Plain Sight - Marlayne Giron

Source:  I received a copy for review from the author
Genre:  Christian, Fiction, Paranormal
Age:  Young Adult, Adult

It was supposed to be a barn raiser like any other.  When Rebecca Esh arrived with the other women and began setting out the food, she had the distinct feeling she was being watched.  Then she saw him, the boy with the silver eyes.  She was drawn to him, yet at the same time was hesitant.  There was something different with him and it wasn’t just the eyes.  When at last they met, Seth was asked to leave.  What was it that put Rebecca’s father off?  When Rebecca finds Seth and his Twin brother Silas hiding in their barn, everything she knew about her world changed. 

I could tell you so much more about this book.  There is so much to discover.  By reading this book you will gain more knowledge about the Amish.  You will discover more about Seth and Silas.  You will witness the love grow between Rebecca and Seth.  Ask yourself this question as you read the book, What sacrifice would you make for love, and is love eternal?  This is a great book for anyone who loves Amish Romance and for those who love a little paranormal twist.  I’ve been telling everyone about this book.  I have yet   to read anything by this author that I didn’t like.  I started with her first book The Victor, followed that with Make a Wish and now a topic I love, Amish fiction with a twist.  This is an author you need to keep your eyes on.  She sprinkles tidbits of herself throughout her writing.  Check out her book trailers, websites and find out what gems wait for you with this author.


Marlayne’s trailer URL

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review, Author Interview and Book Giveaway


GIVEAWAY
To enter the giveaway for a print copy of the book Most Likely please leave a comment  and an email address below by midnight July 29th.  A winner will be chosen Saturday August 3rd at 8:00 AM,  EST.  I will announce the winner on this site an will email them.  Thank you for entering.

Most Likely – Craig Hansen
Available in ebook format from:  
Paperback format:  CreateSpace
Source:  I received a copy for review from author
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Light Christian
My Review:
I guess I will address the style of writing first.  It was so smooth and fluid that I believe even reluctant readers or those with reading difficulties will be able to pick up this book , read and enjoy it.  I don’t know if it was just his style of writing or because I am a teacher that I was able to slip into the story and identify with these teens.  Either way he is an author to watch out for.
As a teacher I see the pressures teens are under every day.  No matter what your religious beliefs, teens all face the same pressures.  They must deal with friendships,  and decisions about their behavior in all situations.   Most teens see themselves as  invincible.  The bad things won’t happen to them.  I became a Christian as a child of eight years old.  I can tell you that I faced the same pressures as my friends who were not Christians.  Craig Hansen has crafted a realistic story that shows just some of the pressures your typical teen may face.  He then throws in the pressure of abuse,  keeping secrets,  family problems and the emotions of dealing with all of these issues.  I had difficulty stopping for anything while reading this book.  I look forward to it coming out in physical form so that I can add it to my shelves at school.  Although many people who read this might not think it is a book that should be placed in middle schools because of the topic of sexual pressure,  I disagree.  In the last three years I’ve known at least four middle school students who made bad choices and got pregnant.  A book like this lets the reader know that the feelings are normal but that everything in life comes down to choices.  The way the main character handled all of the situations she was faced with, made it extremely believable.  It did not portray her as this super human teen able to conquer any problem thrown at her.  It showed the emotional roller-coaster she was on.  I not only look forward to reading more by this author, I plan on telling everyone I know about his work.  I really enjoyed the light Christian theme.  So many times our teens feel like they are in the world alone faced with decisions they don’t want to make.  Christian or not this book fills that gap.  Anytime  a book can bring out the emotions this book brought out in me, it goes high on my list.  Go to Craig Hansen’s website and read  the first chapter of his book.



INTERVIEW WITH CRAIG HANSEN

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I'm in my mid-forties and have been taking myself seriously as a writer for close to thirty years. I wrote an earlier version of MOST LIKELY in my early twenties, when I was in college earning my master's degree.

I became sidetracked into journalism and a lot of other things that were not fiction writing for a couple decades, but my wife has been a wonderful encouragement to me to start doing more with my fiction writing since we were married. So now I'm finally doing that.

MOST LIKELY is my first novel. I was down-sized in March out of my day-job and grabbed onto that old manuscript as a way to get something into print in a hurry. I updated and revised it extensively, so it now bears only a passing resemblance to its original form, though many of the story beats remain the same.

Q. What is your writing routine?

I am, by nature, a night owl. So my routine goes something like this, since becoming full-time: I get up around 11 AM CDT, and within a half-hour, I begin my work day as far as writing is concerned.

I also do some contract-based freelance editorial work, so sometimes I'll do that for a few hours until I'm ready to write. But I write or do related work for about an hour, take a brief lunch break when my wife comes home from her shift, then go back to work for all of the afternoon.

Around five or six in the evening, I break to supper with my wife and father (who lives with us). I then devote the best part of the evening to family time.

My wife, for her job, usually likes to wind down around ten in the evening, so after walking our miniature Doberman Pincher and doing some last-minute chores, I try to be done with everything by ten. We then watch the first ten minutes of the local news, maybe the weather, and I begin my evening shift by around ten thirty.

I'll write or do writing-related tasks until around three in the morning. Sometimes later, but I try to start winding down around three. Then I read something on my Kindle for a while and fall asleep and start all over the next day.

Of course, there are variations in this routine, but it typically bears me about eight to ten hours a day of writing time, and I try to dedicate at least half of that time to actual writing. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. And I write six days a week, taking time off from all of it only from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

Q. Are experiences your characters face based on someone you know?

Not necessarily on any one person. Usually my characters are patchwork jobs; a bit of this, an observation from that, that sort of thing.

Sometimes I'll insert characters who are named as tributes to people I used to know, but the character isn't them; I just named the character as a remembrance of a past friendship. And even then, it's just a first name or a last name only.

Q. Your main character is a female, so as a male did you have any challenges getting into Becky’s head and writing from her perspective?

To some degree, that was a challenge, and one I took on very intentionally. I'd read once that Stephen King's first novel, CARRIE, was written based on someone challenging him and his ability as a writer. They basically accused him of being incapable of getting inside the head of a female character. So he wrote CARRIE as an exercise in proving them wrong.

I figured if that approach of challenging oneself worked for Stephen King, it would help me grow, too. I have to say that I made sure my group of beta-readers was well-stocked with females, to help ensure I didn't look too foolish in the process. And they were needed.

Q. What was your inspiration for writing “Most Likely”?  What was the significance of the title?

Back in college, I read and enjoyed a lot of coming of age novels. However, most of these novels defined coming of age - the process of growing up - as having one's first sexual experience. That always struck me as incredibly narrow and limiting.

Any lusty teenager can choose to engage in a sexual act; that alone doesn't make a person an adult. So I wrote MOST LIKELY as a response to that trend in young adult coming of age novels; I wanted to tell a story about growing up that encompassed a more holistic perspective on what that meant.

The title itself was intended to reflect an underlying theme of the book; that there are no certainties in life, only our best guesses, whatever is most likely, until we get to such moments of decision that we find out for sure. And sometimes it's not what we expected.

Q. How much research did you have to do for this book?

Not really.

I found out that most high school tracks were composed of red kalite, not black asphalt, so that changed as a result of research.

I did a little research into Tammy Jo's medical condition and how much I could play around with the limits of what she could suffer, what her body could tolerate. But I don't want to go into details on that, because they could potentially spoil the outcome of the novel, for those who haven't read it yet.

For the most part, I tried to keep the scope of the novel into subject areas where I felt confident and that did not require a lot of research.

Q. How do you get started with writing a story (as in, how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it).

It varies from project to project.

With MOST LIKELY, I was originally in my master's program and the novel was my creative thesis. Once I knew what story I wanted to tell, I moved forward pretty slowly until the last possible moment, and then wrote two-thirds of it in a dead heat, in the space of about a week. And then revised from there.

When I updated and revised it for a 2011 audience, I worked at a steadier pace. The whole process took under three months.

Q. What was the most difficult part of writing this story for you?

In a way, staying motivated was a bit tougher than I expected. That was the case largely because MOST LIKELY is a story I've lived with and worked on for over twenty years.

So while it was somewhat fresh again when I re-entered it into a modern word processor at the beginning of the revision process, it grew so familiar to me that by the time I was going through it for the sixth and seventh passes, searching out final errors, it was a challenge to keep myself looking at it with eyes that were not tired.

I think there's a point where you become so intimately familiar with your own prose, your own story, that it's hard to see it from the outside. So when some reviews come in, or readers approach me and say, "Gee, that scene in Chapter 24 really meant something to me," or "That final chapter really moved me," or whatever, it can almost take you by surprise because you've been through it so many times.

You kind of become dulled to how successfully you pulled something off. You get so focused on "search and destroy the mistakes" that you forget that maybe you did a few things well to begin with.

Q. What genre of books do you like to read?  Do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself?

I don't always read strictly within my genre. I read plenty within it, but I love to explore outside of it as well, because good writing is good writing, so I'll go where the good writing is and learn from that and apply those lessons to what I'm doing.

MOST LIKELY is young adult Christian coming-of-age. There's not a lot out there like it. Add to that the fact that MOST LIKELY doesn't contain sermons or a salvation plan, but just tells a story about a character who's a believer, and there's even less like it on today's market. MOST LIKELY was an enjoyable novel to write because of that.

I used to read, back in college, a fair amount of CBA-approved Christian fiction, but I don't really find much in that market that engages me anymore. I'm not someone whose work fits in well with novels that sermonize. I don't like things that break the narrative flow.

So what was I reading at the time I first wrote it? Stephen King, and Gregory McDonald's Fletch mystery books. In fact, there are minor tributes to both writers in MOST LIKELY. I left them in.

I also enjoy reading lots of indie authors, such as Victorine E. Lieske (clean romance), Amanda Hocking (paranormal suspense), J.L. Bryan (horror), David McAfee (horror), L.J. Sellers (mystery/police procedural), and Cidney Swanson (paranormal romance).

In terms of traditionally published authors, Stephen King comes first and foremost. Beyond King, I enjoy a lot of mystery and suspense authors, including, in no particular order, Jeff Lindsay, Harry Kemelman, Faye Kellerman, James Patterson, and lots of others.

In the young adult arena, I'm as influenced by Terry Davis, Chris Crutcher, and A. LaFaye (who was a college classmate of mine), as I am by the current crop of young adult paranormal writers.

I think eventually I may have works of my own in all the genres I enjoy reading. But I'll always read a lot of writers outside of my own genre or genres, because for me, finding quality writing and learning from the good writing of others is more important than just reading what other people are doing in the same genre as me.

Q. How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

Well, I grew up in the Upper Midwest and so my novels are set there. That's an obvious connection.

Our family wasn't rich and wasn't quite poor, either. We had most of the things we needed and sometimes a few wants as well. Lower middle class, I guess. So I'm sure that affects my worldview and how I portray things and people.

I came from a much smaller town than I portray Hope, Wisconsin as being, but the nature of community relationships found in Hope are probably more a reflection of growing up in a smaller community.

Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?

I used to really enjoy videogames - PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the like - as a form to relaxation, but that's been changing.

I love fishing. And we're moving our family to Oregon later this summer, so I'm sure I'll be doing more outdoors.

I like to swim. I love to read. But since becoming a full-time writer, I've found I actually work harder and goof off less than I did when I had a day job.

Q. What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Well, my mother never lived to see it, but I recently put out a print version of MOST LIKELY through CreateSpace. Having that first novel in printed form means a lot to me.

My dad is 88 years old, and lives with us, so when the first proof came back from CreateSpace, suddenly he understood what I've been doing these past few months. So at least Dad is still with us to see me become a "real writer."

The newspaper jobs I did, even though I won awards and such, none of that means as much as that trade paperback of MOST LIKELY with my name on the front. Maybe I'm a bit traditional, but that told me I'd arrived as a writer, even moreso than my eBook showing up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble did.

Q. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I'd name two.

For setting a standard of writing that I felt I might someday be able to aspire to, I've learned more from the published works of Stephen King than I have from any other author.

It's not always been trendy to admire King, but when it comes to eminently readable prose, believable characterization, compelling plots, and so forth, King excels on so many levels, when he's at his best.

And even when he's not, an average King story is told better than most writers on their best days. So his work has taught me a lot.

However, when it comes to actual mentorship? To me, that requires personal interaction. I've never met Stephen King face-to-face. So in terms of direct interaction, I'd have to give the most credit for mentoring me directly to young adult novelist Terry Davis.

He was literally been my writing mentor for both my bachelor's degree and my master's degree in English. I learned from him directly and owe a lot about how I approach writing to him.

For example, it was Terry who helped me realize, in my early twenties, that I could admire Stephen King and his writing without having to write the same sort of stories, or the same genre, that King did. Seems obvious, now, but at the time, that insight really freed me up to discover what sort of stories I wanted to tell.

Q. If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

I'm not sure. I try to let my novels speak for me.

There's a reason for that. There was a time in high school where I considered not moving ahead to college. I had my first group of real friends and I didn't want to leave them behind, even though I knew I had to if wanted to take advantage of what I was good at and make something of myself.

Now, if I'd read an interview, and Stephen King had said, very blatantly, "Forget holding on too tight to your friends, that'll only hold you back. Take advantage of your talent," I would have blown it off. It wouldn't have affected me at all. It might have even annoyed me.

But at just the right time in my life, I read his short novel, "The Body," from his DIFFERENT SEASONS collection, which became the movie STAND BY ME. And the narrative of "The Body" was so compelling, so strong, so influential, that I came to the conclusion that I needed to follow my talents, rather than my friends, tough as that was for me at the time.

King's story, "The Body," changed the trajectory of my life. In some ways, it changed my life. But it did so as a narrative, not as a few words of wisdom.

So that's why I try to let my stories speak for themselves. Because often, there's more in there that'll speak to more people in more ways than any direct, "Do this, don't do that" bit of advice I could ever dream up.

Q. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

So far no one's really savaged me. The worst anyone's said is, "It's not my sort of thing, but it's well written." When you're dealing with a novel that ventures into the area of faith, that's fully expected.

Most of the feedback I get is what I could consider helpful, in a way. One reader, for example, pointed out that Becky's a pretty tall girl, but owns a car that is typically kind of small, not a lot of head room. To me, that's helpful, even though I kind of bonk myself on the head and think, "Yeah, what an oversight."

The biggest compliments have been a couple of different reviewers who used phrases like "gentle rhythms" and "lyrical quality" to describe my prose, which is highly complementary and perhaps not entirely deserved, but always wonderful to hear.

Q. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I think the George W. Bush answer is to go for the often-unspoken, obvious answer and say Jesus.

But putting aside the "proper" answer, I have to admit that even though I've never met him and have no idea if we'd get along in person, I'd love to sit down with Stephen King over a steak dinner sometime, and just talk craft.

That'd be fun.

Q. What is something surprising or shocking about you that most people don’t know?

For those who know me in a religious setting, it's that I'm a novelist.

For those who know me as a novelist, it's probably that I'm a Messianic Rabbi in training.

Two sides of the same coin; whichever way someone knows me, it's the other aspect that might surprise them.

Q. What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by or with your writing?

The main goal of my novels is to entertain. To spin a tale that captures a bit of life, and some truths of life along the way, in the process of that. Nothing more complex than that, because I think doing that in the best way possible accomplishes something special and rare, in and of itself.

Some people may think entertaining others isn't that high a calling, goal or purpose. I'd suggest they don't deeply understand entertainment at its best.

Q. When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have?

None.

I fully hope to be writing something right up to the point where I draw my last breath in this world. Writing is a way of life. And a way of processing life. It's not a job that one would typically retire from, unless illness or poor health prevents it.

Q. Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?

Don't let the "light Christian themes" scare you off. MOST LIKELY is first and foremost a novel. It just happens to feature a main character who is a believer.

And if you enjoy it, keep an eye out for my next two works, coming later this year.

SHADA is a short novel that I like to describe as my take on Stephen King's "The Body," only with a female cast. And the follow-up to SHADA is a full-length novel, young adult paranormal suspense, called EMBER.

It's what I call "light-touch" paranormal because there are some supernatural elements, but they don’t overwhelm the book. So while there are characters with unusual gifts in the EMBER, there are no sparkly vampire boyfriends lurking around every corner, nor are there going to be any vampire-werewolf wars.

Nothing against those types of novels. I read Charlaine Harris faithfully, and I've gone to the Twilight movies with my wife. But that's not who I am, as a writer.

SHADA and EMBER are the first two installments in my EMBER series of novels. They're fun, light, entertaining reads. And with a bit of hard work and good timing, I'm hoping both will be released later this year.

In the meantime, enjoy MOST LIKELY. It introduces the setting of all three of my books, Hope, Wisconsin.