Monday, March 28, 2011

From the Archives: my review of C. J. Darlington's "Thicker Than Blood"

This was originally posted on my other blog, Notes in the Key of Life,on January 21, 2010

"We want to be...a website where people of all walks can discover the amazing options available to them in Christian entertainment today"--from the site's "About Us" page

I interview co-creator and author, C.J. Darlington

How do you get word about new releases from your favorite Christian authors and musicians? Would you be interested in an online one-stop shop, so to speak, where you could get all the information on the latest books, CDs and movies...along with reviews, interviews and contests in which you can actually win some of those products?

Then is definitely for you.

The brainchild of sisters C. J. Darlington and Tracy Darlington, is one of the most varied and comprehensive websites featuring current info on books, music and movies that fall into the Christian genre.

"Tracy and I were both free-lance writers, and we had different interests...Tracy's interest was mostly Christian music, and I was more interested in the books," C.J. Darlington told me in a recent phone interview.

"We kind of were wondering how we could put our interests together, and we thought, 'Let's do a website."

The site started in 2006 with book and music info, eventually branching out into movies. is updated every week, and typically will feature a new author interview and music interview.

A strong interactive element keeps the site popping, with reader surveys and frequent contests in which site visitors can win books, CDs and movies.

C.J. Darlington's Thicker than Blood

Since I had C.J. on the phone, I took the opportunity to ask her about her first published book, Thicker Than Blood.

She says the book was birthed when she was a 15-year-old homeschooling student, so having it published after years of revisions and rejections was particularly rewarding and exciting.

In 2008, she submitted the manuscript to the Operation First Novel contest. C.J. writes on her website:

I submitted the manuscript to the contest, and in November I found out it was a finalist. On February 19th, 2009 I was amazed when Jerry B. Jenkins announced Thicker than Blood as the winner of that year’s contest. The winner received a contract with Tyndale House, and I couldn’t be more blessed with the way the Lord brought it all about. I almost gave up on this novel. I almost put it away in a drawer. Goes to show persistence is vital in writing.

My review?

Thicker Than Blood grabbed me immediately with its tale of two very different sisters.

May is about to lose her beloved ranch, but is struggling to keep it together with the help of tenacity and faith. Christy is estranged from her family, trapped in a violent relationship, and miserable.

Adding interest and suspense to the story is the fact that Christy and her abusive ex-boyfriend Vince are antique book dealers, and Vince is involved in shady dealings that threaten to bring Christy down.

The characters are real and engaging--I found myself pulling for black sheep Christy even when she was at her worst--and the faith element is strong and believable.

And as someone who has sisters that she loves very much, the family aspect of the book was relatable and appealing.

I heartily recommend Thicker than Blood.

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