Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blog Tour and Review: Songs of Deliverance by Marilynn Griffith

Songs of Deliverance by Marilynn Griffith
Publisher: Revell
Trade Paperback, 368 pages

She returns to her hometown with a suitcase full of regrets,
and a heart yearning for so much more…

Songs of Deliverance is the latest novel from popular author Marilynn Griffith, who is known for her rich and heartfelt storytelling that will stir readers’ emotions.

About the Book:

Four childhood friends have been torn apart by the mistakes and tragedies of their past. Now as adults, they are reunited in their hometown of Testimony, Ohio, where they sort through the messy, real-life struggles of secrets kept hidden, lost loves and unknown futures.

Zeely Wilkins is the one with the beautiful voice that earned her the nickname “Birdie,” when she was younger.  Now engaged to marry Jerry, her life seems to be back on track, though she struggles to bury feelings for her high school sweetheart.

Grace Okoye can make you hold your breath when she dances, but ever since that night more than a decade ago, she has pushed that dream—like so many others—aside. 

Ron Jenkins, the lone white guy who once used to preach in the black church, has returned to Testimony, now as a lawyer. He questions whether he should be here, and when enough is enough when it comes to matters of the heart.

Brian Mayfield, with his long dreadlocks, had walked away from the church awhile ago. Only recently has he started to turn back to God and find strength for healing and patience. He never knew his biological mother but is determined to make a difference in the lives of the students at Imani Academy, with the help of his assistant, Grace Okoye.

Having grown up together, they now must help and encourage one another as they begin to address the pains, heartaches and tragedies of their past—and get a second chance to make things right. Though never easy, the friends experience a spiritual awakening as they begin to face their secrets and sorrows and offer their struggles over to God. They learn the beauty and strength in friendship, and the inexhaustible depth of God’s healing grace and redemption—no matter how hopeless or doomed things may seem at first.

Marilynn Griffith’s fresh voice and masterful storytelling make this rough yet tender story come alive. It is sure to touch readers’ hearts and keep them turning pages until the very end. Fans of  
Griffith’s previous novel, Rhythms of Grace, will be delighted to know that
Songs of Deliverance picks up with that storyline and can be read as a sequel, though it is intended as a standalone for new fans.
“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

My Review:
Rating: 9.5/10.0

Wow - that is the main thing I can say about this book.  No that's not a professional opinion I know, but this book truly blew me away.  I'll start with the characters.  Ms. Griffith can write amazing characters.  I liked the changing point of view in the book and getting to know Zeely, Ron, Grace and Brian.  I liked getting in their heads, it was very effective in this book.  All of them have things they are working through and they are not perfect even the onees that seem so on the outside.  I don't think I've read a Christian book as frank as this one is.  These characters are really working through things and bad situations and striving to make more of their lives with and through their faith.  None of the characters come across as preachy either - they are all just everyday people trying to find their way.

I don't think I've read many books with African Americans as the central characters especially ones that deal with a rougher side of life.  I found this book wonderful in that regard.  It takes on interracial relationships, while pretty much every day in the outside world, are not so much in the book world.  It also deals more with the intercity teens and the problems that come when kids grow up in a certain area and they can be labeled as trouble-makers even if they are trying to make something better. 

I think this book has a lot of lessons in it that are shown in wonderful light, never overbearing, just there for the reader to take what he or she needs from this book at that moment.

The plot is wonderful but the characters are the driving force.  I did not read the first in the series and was a little lost in the beginning of this book, but overall Ms. Griffith did a good job of making this a stand-alone.  Because of my love for this book, I will be going back to read Rhythms of Grace.

Rating Breakdown:
Characterization:   2.0/2.0
Plot:                     1.75/2.0
Writing:                1.75/2.0
Attention-holding:  1.0/1.0
Ending:                 1.0/1.0
Believable:            1.0/1.0
Genre:                  1.0/1.0    
Rating:                9.5/10.0

Marilynn Griffith is a freelance writer and conference speaker whose online columns and blogs reach thousands of women each year. She is the author of the Shades of Style series and Rhythms of Grace. Marilynn lives in Florida with her husband and their seven children.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit

Weekend Wondering and Giveaway: Evolution as a reader

As I am watching my oldest son develop reading tastes and branching into longer and longer books it got me thinking about where I started and the journey I have taken with books.  Here's a quick look:

As a child 

Trixie Belden 
Nancy Drew 
Charlotte's Web
other mystery and suspense books I could find in my reading level
As a Teenager 
romance and horror were my mainstay:
Christopher Pike
Sweet Valley High
Silhouettes Teen romance line
Stephen King
Dean Koontz

mainly suspense and horror books:

More Stephen King
More Dean Koontz
Jonathan Kellerman
Michael Crichton

First years of Marriage (right after college) 
I picked up romance again and found romantic suspense and also paranormal romance:

Nora Roberts
Sandra Brown
Linda Howard
Sherrilyn Kenyon
James Patterson
Greg Iles
Nicholas Sparks
J.D. Robb
Michael Connelly
Janet Evanovich

Last few years - I continue branching out 
I've gone back to young adult and moved into more general fiction, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction and even non-fiction. I also really like new authors with the small independent presses - you can find some real gems among them:
Joshilyn Jackson 
Twilight series (I had to see what all the fuss was about)
Cecily von Ziegesar
Lisi Harrison
Anita Shreve
Michael Ruddy
J.P. O'Donnell
Chelsea Cain
Charlaine Harris

This is just a quick overview of authors/series I could think of.  One thing that has not changed over time is that I love to read.

I really love the doors that reviewing has opened up to me - books I wouldn't have necessarily read, but I got a chance to review them and they sounded good.  These books have ended up as some of my favorites.  I still find myself getting the big names from the library when their books are released but not as much as I use to - there are so many great authors out there waiting to be tried.  Not everyone will like the same books I do, but that's the beauty of the wonderful variety there is out there - we don't all have to like the same thing.

How about your evolution as a reader - have you changed over the years - broadened your horizons or come down to one or two genres you like.   Tell me about it how you have changed or stayed the same and what authors you like now for a chance to win 1 book of your choice from the selection of book/ARCs below.  Either leave a comment with your answer or a link to a blog post if you would like to do that.  Open to US/Canada only.  Ends 2/12/10.

One Amazing Thing  Sleep No More  Letter to My Daughter: A Novel  The Information Officer: A NovelLone Star Legend  Yellow Moon: A Novel