Monday, August 18, 2014

Author Interview and Giveaway: Radically Normal by Josh Kelley

Welcome to the Christian Book Review Blog! Thank you for being here! To begin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks for inviting me! 

How and when did you come to know the Lord in a deep and intimate way?

Someone once asked what I was like before I met Jesus. I responded (somewhat facetiously), “I cried a lot and messed my diapers.” I have no memory of life without Jesus, rather I had an ongoing process of learning about him from my parents. When I was in Jr. High, I began the vital transition from “mom and dad’s faith” to “my faith.” 

What person has had the greatest impact in your spiritual walk with Christ?

After my parents, C. S. Lewis deeply impacted (and continues to impact) how I think about God, life, and writing. 

What inspired you to write this book?

This is the book I wished I’d had as a young teenager – I really loved God and wanted to follow him with my whole heart, but didn’t want to be a Jesus freak. I needed someone to tell me how to be fully committed without being obsessive. 

What is the main message in the book and what is the greatest lesson you want readers to learn?

The world tells us to live for today and the church tells us to live for eternity. They are both wrong...and they are both right. The life that pleases God and brings us joy finds the middle ground between complacently focusing on the things of earth and obsessively denying them. 

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

Just one? I can’t narrow it down! Can I just say “Proverbs”? I read Proverbs almost daily and it has shaped how I view everything. 

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What book, besides the Bible, has greatly influenced your life?

Does “The Collected Works of C. S. Lewis” count as one book? 

Okay, now for a fun question. What is the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Bringing the fire department to school during chemistry class. My friend and I wanted to make gun powder and...if you look closely at my senior class pictures, I don’t have eyebrows. 

Please tell us about the featured book.

Radically Normal weaves stories of my time as a bi-vocational pastor working at Starbucks with lessons on how to discover the God-honoring and joy-filled path between complacent and obsessive faith. My goal was to create a book that was fun and easy to read while conveying deep, Biblical truths. 

Can you please give us the first page?

Starbucks is a big part of my life. I hold most of my meetings at Starbucks and write my sermons there. I have my monthly father-daughter dates at Starbucks. I’m at Starbucks as I write this. But in the spring of 2011, I had no idea the role Starbucks would play in my story.
I had been an assistant pastor at one of the biggest churches in Skagit Valley (about an hour north of Seattle). When I became the lead pastor of one of the smallest churches in the area, I was filled with dreams of all I’d do. In the first three and a half years, I grew the Gathering from about 100 people to about 75—not the sort of thing that one brags about at pastors’ conventions.
This is the story of the lessons God taught me through Starbucks over the next 18 months. It’s also the book I wish I had when I was growing up. All the books I read back then seemed to imply that following God with my whole heart meant enjoying this life less and less.
This book tells how I discovered that the opposite is true.

Going to Extremes

One day when I was about ten years old, my family arrived early at our pastor’s house for a Bible study, and I saw Pastor Arnie sitting in front of the TV watching a football game. Apparently, his team wasn’t doing well, because he was kind of grumpy and was shouting quietly at the TV. “What? Come on! Are you blind?”
Seeing my pastor watch football was unsettling, but I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t think TV was wrong (I watched Star Blazers every morning before school), and I didn’t have a problem with football (my mom loves football). But it seemed so unspiritual. In my ten-year-old logic, I assumed my pastor must do only spiritual stuff.
So many of us have a deep-seated fear that we have to choose—do we want to be obsessive Christians who don’t enjoy this life, or do we want to be complacent Christians who have a lot of fun here? We feel as if those are our only two options. Should we give up football, sell all of our possessions, and become missionaries to India? Or should we have nice houses, be well liked, and climb the corporate ladder? We know those aren’t really the only options, but we’re still haunted by the feeling that God must be happier when we read our Bibles than when we watch football. I wonder how many Christians remain lukewarm primarily because they think that being on fire would be miserable.

(The entire first chapter can be found at 

Where can readers learn more information about you?

My website is and I’m on Twitter at @joshkelley. I’d love to hear from you!  

Join the discussion (Don't forget to click "I commented!" in the Rafflecopter giveaway below for three extra entries): Radically Normal contains "lessons on how to discover the God-honoring and joy-filled path between complacent and obsessive faith." In your opinion, what is that path? (Providing Bible verses would be great!)

(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!) 
Josh has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Radically NormalPrint giveaway is available to U.S residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday August 30, 2014 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Author Interview and Giveaway: Out Of Hiding by Rachel Dylan

Welcome to Christian Book Review Blog, Rachel! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Yes, I’m a Georgia girl who has a wonderful husband and five amazing furkids—3 cats and 2 dogs. I write inspirational romantic suspense. 

When did you first discover that you loved writing? 

I started writing in elementary school. I especially loved writing poetry. But not until I was in my thirties did I write a novel. 

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

I write inspirational romantic suspense because I love writing edge of your seat stories filled with suspense and intrigue. I especially like to write characters who are in law enforcement.  

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?

I think getting used to your work being reviewed and judged is difficult. But I’m learning not to take it personally, and that not everyone will like every story. All I can do is write from the heart. 

Has writing changed your life in any way?

Writing has given me a much needed creative outlet. I find so much fulfillment in writing that I have been unable to find in other things I’ve done. It’s truly a blessing to be able to write.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

This is a tough one! But I always come back to Psalm 23. 

Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

Wow, this is a difficult one. There are so many wonderful books out there. I just recently started re-reading This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. I read the book when I was in high school, and it had a huge impact on me. It’s been fascinating to revisit all the years later. 

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? 

While I’m generally shy, I do love to karaoke every now and again. 
Please tell us about the featured book.

Sure! Here’s the blurb. 


This vow has kept P.I. Sadie Lane safe ever since she saw her parents murdered and then entered Witness Protection. But when she gets a lead on the long-ago killer she can't forget, Sadie joins forces with a dashing FBI agent leading his own investigation into the crime boss. Kip Moore makes her yearn to trust, but protocol demands Sadie keep her true identity hidden. Secrecy is all that has kept her alive. As they venture deep undercover into her target's syndicate, Sadie finds herself in over her head. Kip is her only hope as she comes face-to-face with a killer from her past. A deadly past that now threatens her future…and Kip's.

Can you please give us the first page?

Sadie felt the bullet whiz by her head as she crouched down in the wet dirt. Darkness surrounded her, but she wasn’t alone. Her gut screamed loudly that something was terribly wrong. And she always trusted her gut. She had company, and if that bullet was any indication, they meant business. The sound of the crackling leaves told her someone was moving quickly in her direction.

Dressed in all black, she lay flat on the ground in the dark woods. No one was going to see her. That bullet wasn’t meant for her but was intended for someone else. Who? She didn’t want to stick around long enough to find out. She prayed that Megan wasn’t out here in the woods tonight—alone, scared and with bullets flying. It was no place for a sixteen-year-old girl.

She checked her gun and kept her position low against the damp, muddy ground. Her night vision goggles were a blessing. It was then she saw what she dreaded the most. The letters FBI on a dark-colored flak jacket as an agent trounced his way through the woods. Why the FBI was involved in whatever was happening in these woods she didn’t know, but she didn’t like it. They were invading her turf.

Sadie had her first solid lead on the Vladimir network in El Paso, and she didn’t want to give up the opportunity. She’d been on stakeouts for weeks, desperately trying to determine if Igor—the man who had taken everything from her—was in El Paso. Her intel had been that something related to the Vladimir crew was going down in the woods tonight. She had hoped that whatever it was wasn’t going to involve Megan—the missing girl she was looking for. Sadie knew that Vladimir’s crew was responsible for her disappearance. That’s why she’d sought out the job just days ago.

Where can readers learn more information about you?

I’m active on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and on my webpage.

(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!) 
Rachel has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Out Of HidingPrint giveaway is available to U.S residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday August 16, 2014 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!

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