Friday, May 15, 2015

May Featured Book #2...And A Giveaway!!

Sally has graciously offered to give away TWO hard copies of "The Happy Hour Choir"to TWO lucky people!  In order to be entered,go to the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. You must enter by May 31 to take part in the drawing. If you are chosen, I will contact you to get your mailing address to pass along to Sally.

Before sharing my review, here's a bit of information from Sally

A Word from Sally...

Hi, I’m Sally. (Hi, Sally) And I sometimes like to have a glass of wine while I peruse the next Sunday School lesson I’m going to teach. That sort of duality is part of what inspired my novel, The Happy Hour Choir.

Beulah Land came to me first. I imagined her as the daughter of a preacher, a girl who’d been saddled with an impossible name. I mean, who can ever live up to being heavenly? Then I thought about taking an old hymn I knew well, “Dwelling in Beulah Land,” and flipping it on its ear by having her make it her signature song . . . in a bar. She would do this, of course, because she couldn’t escape her name, but she could rebel. Ginger, Beulah’s old piano teacher and rescuer, came to me next, one of those no-nonsense older ladies who has some secrets of her own. Finally, Luke entered the scene, my preacher man who knew parental pressure and had the humility and compassion of someone who also knew what it was like to make mistakes.

From there all sorts of characters walked into The Fountain, the bar where Beulah plays. I wanted to show them all as real people. Too often I think books with religious themes don’t allow their characters to mess up. To me, that goes against everything I believe because life is messy and so are we. Maybe The Happy Hour Choir was my way of saying we’re all good and bad, but if we try hard enough, the good will always win out in the end.

Writing Beulah’s story was such a leap of faith. I can’t tell you how many times contest feedback or agents or even editors said things like, “I like your writing, but this has too much religion for a mainstream/too much sinning for an inspirational/too much humor for such angst/too much angst for such humor.” I struggled because *I* was a good little girl who grew up in a little town and went to an equally little church. Maybe writing this book taught me how to bend a few rules. I should probably send Beulah a thank you note.

And thank you so much for having me here on your blog today, Leslie. Your kind words definitely helped make getting this book published well worth the wait.

My Review…

Beulah Land plays piano at the local bar, The Fountain. She unwillingly agrees to take over as pianist at County Line Methodist Church to fulfill the dying wish of her closest friend Ginger Belmont. Unfortunately, some of the current choir members do not believe Beulah is an appropriate choice, which causes Beulah to create her own Happy Hour Choir comprised of patrons from The Fountain. As Beulah and Ginger take in a pregnant teen, Beulah is forced to deal with her own secrets. And then there’s Luke Daniels, the new reverend in town. Can they come together to build up the church, and remind Beulah that she is loveable and not defined by her past? 

It is hard to believe that this is Kilpatrick’s debut novel! The characters are real, honest, lively, and heartfelt. Beulah may be a snarky character, but she deals with a number of challenges that will be identifiable for many. Even though Beulah is the main character, Ginger is truly the heart of the book. No character is wasted, and they remind the reader that anything worth having is not easy. This novel is written in the first-person point of view, which may be a bit unusual for some readers. A good takeaway reminder is that family is what we create, not restricted to bloodlines. It is an inspiring tale of faith, hope, forgiveness, and second chances. Kilpatrick mixes loss and devastation with hope, and a little bit of southern charm. She will leave the reader laughing through tears. This is an incredible start from a promising storyteller. Some yummy recipes are included, too.

About Sally…

Sally Kilpatrick lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, Ryan, and her two children. We shall call these precious and precocious children The Hobbit and Her Majesty.

Her debut novel, The Happy Hour Choir, won the Duel on the Delta, finaled in the Maggie Awards for Excellence, and was a 2012 Golden Heart finalist. Silly has two other novels coming down the pike— think Shakespeare with cows (Bittersweet Creek) and "It's a Wonderful Life" in a funeral home (Better Get to Livin', a 2013 Maggie finalist).

A former Spanish teacher — because that's what you do with an English major — Sally took an extended sabbatical when her husband gave her an application to Kennesaw State University's Master of Arts in Professional Writing Program for Christmas 2007. (Best Christmas Present Ever!)

Sally is also the current president of Georgia Romance Writers.

For fun, Sally likes to read, write, run, and — you guessed it — sing in her church choir.

You can find Sally online at:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Featured Book #1

Before sharing my review, here is a bit of information from Rachelle.

Q & A with Rachelle…

Q: How did you come up with the story for "The Choosing"?
A: This is a hard question because it has many answers. I wanted to write a theme-based novel about identity. I wanted to write a dystopian novel. I wanted to write in a world that was familiar, but in a setting where I could change the way the world worked. It actually is several ideas I'd been toying with pulled into one story. Once I landed on Carrington's core revelation and story arc, I simply fell in love with her as a character and drew the rest of the story around her.That's usually how it works for me. I come up with a character, good or bad, and create the story from there.

Q: You based your main character off of your younger sister. In what ways is Carrington like her?
A: It's more the beliefs that Carrington struggles with that remind me of my sister. The idea of worth, of not feeling like you're enough, or questioning whether anyone would choose you. Carrington came about as I spent time with my sister and her college-age friends and saw that a large majority of them were searching for significance, searching for worth — none more than my sister at the time.

Q: Carrington struggles with understanding her identity and worth and what is true. Why did you decide to write about the theme of identity?
A: Someone once asked me, "If you could leave one message for your younger sisters, what would it be?" The answer was always the same: I would pray they knew what they were worth. Identity is everything. There isn't a theme that doesn't start with identity or circle back to identity. Knowing who you truly are is the greatest journey we face. Am I enough? Am I worth it? I believe everyone faces these questions, and I sought out to explore them through the story.

Q: One of the most significant lines in the story is, "Life is a journey of remembering and forgetting." What do you mean by this?
A: We have these flashes of clarity where we see so clearly who we are — and our connection to the Father — but then, in a single moment, something pulls our attention away and we forget who we are. This is the journey of life, remembering and forgetting. But I believe the more we remember, the more we set our gaze on the Father, the less often we forget. 

My Review…

Carrington Hale has been preparing her entire life for “The Choosing” ceremony. However, it did not go the way anyone expected. Instead of planning for a husband and family of her own, she finds herself being taken away from the only home she has ever known. She is now a “Lint,” the lowest level of society.  She realizes she must learn to accept her fate as an “Unchosen,” as this is God’s plan. Carrington believes that she is worthless and her fate is of her own making. However, she starts to hear whispers that lead her to question whether or not everything she has been told is a lie.  In an unusual change of events, Carrington is given a second chance to be “Chosen”. Will it be a blessing in disguise, or something more sinister than she ever could have imagined?

This is a strong debut from Dekker, who appears to be following in her famous father’s footsteps. (She is the daughter of bestselling author Ted Dekker.)  This is a dystopian coming-of-age novel which draws the reader in quickly Fans of ”Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” will enjoy this story.

Carrington is a character that will be easily relatable for many. She is an over-thinker and struggles with her own self-worth. This struggle is a much larger part of the story than the romance angle. She is not the strong, self-assured character typically found in a dystopian novel. This allows the reader to have a better understanding of her growth.  There are some intense, dark scenes to the novel. They may be difficult for some readers, but they are relevant to the suspense side of the story. While there is some predictability, this is an engaging read. Secondary characters are well developed, and the ending, which ties up a bit too quickly, will leave the reader hoping that a sequel is planned. Some core features of faith run through this novel, reminding the reader that God is who determines our value and His love does not have any strings attached. On a final note, the cover is stunning.

About Rachelle…

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her online at