Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pieces of Light by Julie Cave

Detective Dinah Harris hunts down a serial bomber targeting religious icons and buildings. The bomber is on a mission to rid the city of religion and establish a 'new world order'. Can someone so intent on ridding the world of God experience redemption? What lies behind his hatred of God? Will his darkened soul search for pieces of light?



The first two books of the series, Deadly Disclosures (link to product page) and The Shadowed Mind (link to product page) reveal the amazing grace of God while showcasing a world losing sight of Him. In Pieces of Light, Cave’s continues her compelling story lines using believable characters and realistic situations to:


Identify the importance of living under the authority of the Bible


Deliver a Biblical worldview perspective to current events


Illustrate the power of Jesus’s sacrifice and desire to redeem every life


Provide believers a resource easy to share with skeptics


Recently, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis described The Shadowed Mind (book two) as "another nail-biting mystery with an incredibly powerful message about God’s authoritative Word."

My review:
This book was not provided me to review, but is one I purchased, but I enjoyed the book so much that I decided to post a review.

This is the third book in a trilogy, The Dinah Harris Mystery Series, and I think is the best. It was different from most suspense/mystery novels in that the criminal/murderer became obvious very early in the book. My own opinion for the reason for that is so that she could show the inner struggles and reasoning of the bad guy.

The story in itself is great - plot, characters, the writing. As with her other two books, the author has a message to get out, and here is what I walked away with:

The church and Christians can, by ignoring wrong, hurt people worse than if they addressed a problem - and that is not to excuse the actions of the injured. But we have a responsibility to address situations, no matter who is involved.

And the other thing - no one is beyond redemption. The book had an amazing ending that moved me.

I am disappointed to see the trilogy come to an end, but with these three books, Julie has established herself as a great Christian suspense/mystery author who can write a great suspense novel, yet keep it definitely Christian in content and message.

About the author:

Julie Cave credits her parents for introducing her to books at a young age, which fostered an enduring passion for reading and writing. As a child, her favourite authors were Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis and it wasn’t long before she began copying them, writing short stories for anyone who would read them.


At fifteen, two things happened which would shape her future: she heard a creation science speaker at her church which cemented her faith in God; and she finished her second novel-length story and realised she had fallen in love with writing novels.

After school, she completed a health science degree, got married, and worked in banking and finance. All the while she wondered how she could combine her love of writing and her strong passion for Christian apologetics and evangelism. One weekend at a church camp, a friend asked, ‘What if the guy in charge of the Smithsonian Institution went missing?’

The result – and the answer to that question – was Julie’s maiden published novel, Deadly Disclosures. Julie has one daughter and lives in Brisbane, Australia with her family. She divides her time between being a wife, a mother and an author.

Pieces of Light and the other two books in the trilogy are available from New Leaf Publishing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bridge to a Distant Star by Carolyn Williford


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Bridge to a Distant Star
David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2011)
by
Carolyn Williford




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Carolyn Williford has authored seven books, including Jordan's Bend, Devotions for Families That Can't Sit Still, and Faith Tango, as well as numerous articles. She and her husband, Craig, live in Deerfield, Illinois, where he serves as president of Trinity International University. They have two children and four grandchildren.



ABOUT THE BOOK



It All Comes Tumbling Down



As a storm rages in the night, unwary drivers venture onto Tampa Bay’s most renowned bridge. No one sees the danger ahead. No one notices the jagged gap hidden by the darkness and rain. Yet when the bridge collapses vehicles careen into the churning waters of the bay below.



In that one catastrophic moment, three powerful stories converge: a family ravaged by their child’s heartbreaking news, a marriage threatened by its own facade, and a college student burdened by self doubt. As each story unfolds, the characters move steadily closer to that fateful moment on the bridge. And while each character searches for grace, the storms in their lives loom as large as the storm that awaits them above the bay.



When these characters intersect in Carolyn Williford’s gripping and moving volume of three novellas, they also collide with the transforming truth of Christ: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Bridge to a Distant Star, go HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
She Makes It Look Easy
David C. Cook (June 1, 2011)
by
Marybeth Whalen




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children. The family lives outside Charlotte, NC. Marybeth is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries writing team and a regular contributor to their daily devotions. Her first novel,The Mailbox was released in June 2010. Her next novel, She Makes It Look Easy, will be released in June 2011. Additionally, she serves as director of She Reads, Proverbs 31 Ministries' fiction division.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Ariel Baxter has just moved into the neighborhood of her dreams. The chaos of domestic life and the loneliness of motherhood, however, moved with her. Then she meets her neighbor, Justine Miller. Justine ushers Ariel into a world of clutter-free houses, fresh-baked bread, homemade crafts, neighborhood play dates, and organization techniques designed to make marriage better and parenting manageable.



Soon Ariel realizes there is hope for peace, friendship, and clean kitchen counters. But when rumors start to circulate about Justine’s real home life, Ariel must choose whether to believe the best about the friend she admires or consider the possibility that “perfection” isn’t always what it seems to be.



If you would like to read an excerpt of She Makes It Look Easy, go HERE.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Ambition by Lee Strobel

After reaching millions of people with his “Case” series, Lee Strobel has launched himself into the fiction genre with this taut legal thriller. You will be thrown into a captivating world that connects a disillusioned pastor with a corrupt judge, a cynical reporter, and a gambling addict on a desperate quest for redemption.



Description:
A corrupt judge in a mob murder case. A disillusioned pastor, hungry for power. A cynical reporter, sniffing for a scandal. A gambling addict whose secret tape threatens the lives of everyone who hears it.


New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel weaves these edgy characters into an intricate thriller set in a gleaming, suburban megachurch, a big-city newspaper struggling for survival, and the shadowy corridors of political intrigue. The unexpected climax is as gripping as the contract killing that punctuates the opening scene.

My review:
This book was an interesting read, giving a glimpse into the dirty world of politics and the workings of a mega church. I did enjoy the book. That said, it wasn't as good as it sounded or I was hoping for. The writing style was good, the plot was good. I can't really place my finger on why, but when I was done reading the book, I was left feeling there should have been more.

I try to be honest and kind in my reviews, and am not trying to slam the author... if I was ranking by stars, which I will on Amazon, I would pick 4 - meaning it wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as it could have been.

I was disappointed by one use of hell as an expletive. I don't talk that way, and don't believe it belongs in a Christian novel.

I did like the characters in the book, and overall did enjoy the book.

About the author:

Lee Strobel is an award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and a New York Times bestselling author. After years of nonfiction bestsellers, he is publishing his debut fiction novel, a legal thriller. Lee is a Yale Law School graduate, accomplished journalist, and world-renowned speaker. Author's website: www.leestrobel.com.

The Ambition is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.

Targets Down by Bob Hamer

Targets Down is the follow-up to retired FBI agent Bob Hamer's Enemies Among Us, which Publishers Weekly hailed as "a page-turning roller coaster that feels like Jack Bauer’s 24 without sailing over the top."



When an FBI wife is critically wounded and two people are found dead on a mountain pass, special agent Matt Hogan is tasked with identifying those responsible. The undercover assignment takes him into the shadow world of Russian organized crime, neo-Nazis, and the sex-slave industry. Matt's cover is almost blown twice—once by accident, once by incompetence within the FBI ranks—making violence appear to be his only solution. As he confronts evil, Hogan relies not only on the strength of his wife's faith but his own quest to find God. He also finds terror and terrorism on this heart-pounding journey.

My review:
Bob Hamer can add to his impressive list of accomplishments one more thing: A great writer.

I read and reviewed Bob's first book, Enemies Among Us, back in January. I loved it, and was very impressed with it, and when I saw a sequel was coming out, I put it on my list of must-read books. I kept hoping Broadman & Holman would send me a copy to review, but no luck. Thanks to my friend Molly for sending me her copy.

Targets Down does not disappoint as a sequel. Far from it. Hamer has only gotten better in his second novel. His main character, Matt Hogan, is back doing undercover work, and Hamer paints a very realistic picture of what that is like, based on his own activities as a former FBI agent.

This book has it all - suspense, excitement, intrigue, yet it remains true to what a Christian novel should be. Curse word-free, and free of inappropriate content. I was hooked from page one, and had a hard time putting the book down when I needed to. My only disappointment came at the end of the book. And that was because it came. I wanted to read on. Here is hoping that the author has a third novel featuring Matt Hogan in the works.

About the author:
Bob Hamer spent twenty-six years as a "street agent" for the FBI, many of them in an undercover capacity. In assignments lasting anywhere from a day to more than three years, he successfully posed as a drug dealer, contract killer, fence, pedophile, degenerate gambler, weapons dealer, and white-collar criminal.


Bob worked undercover against such diverse groups as La Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, Mexican Mafia, Russian Mafia, Asian organized crime groups, and Los Angeles-based street gangs. His successful infiltration of NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) resulted in the arrest of what one defendant called eight members of the "inner circle."

He received numerous awards throughout his career including the FBI Director’s Award for Distinguished Service, five United States Attorney Awards for Distinguished Service, and numerous letters of commendation including one from then U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Now retired, he is a member of the Writers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of Canada and has written for TV. He also worked as the technical advisor for The Inside and Angela's Eyes and has consulted for Law & Order: SVU and Sleeper Cell. He appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Sean Hannity Show, Laura Ingraham, and other national and local TV and radio programs to discuss his role in the NAMBLA investigation.

In 2009, The Last Undercover was named as the Fifteenth Annual San Diego Book Awards Association, Best Memoir, General Interest.

A Marine Corps veteran and law school graduate, he is married and has two children.

Targets Down is available from Broadman and Holman Publishing
Sample chapter here.
 
Check out the author's website.
 

Winning Him Without Words by Donovan and Miller


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Winning Him Without Words
Regal (February 15, 2011)
by
Lynn Donovan & Dineen Miller




ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



Lynn Donovan

Verse: John 15:5 Apart from Me you can do nothing.

Tagline: Challenging Women to Live in Truth



A passionate writer and speaker, Lynn is a woman who presents a compelling message to encourage women to thrive in their marriage. She speaks at events nationwide where she challenges the myths women believe about love, pointing them to life-changing freedom through a relationship with Jesus. She reveals the zany yet meaningful stories of marriage challenges, truths, and triumphs in her life and invites women to share her view from her front row seat to an amazing journey; life lived for Christ.



Married since 1992 to her best friend and biggest enthusiast, Mike, she lives in Temecula, California. They have a son and a daughter and a wacky dog named Peanut. She loves to laugh, enjoys a strong cup of coffee and Fantasy Football and not necessarily in that order.



She lives each day in awe of the grace of God in her ordinary life.





Dineen Miller

Verse: Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tagline: Igniting the Soul



Dineen readily admits that one of the greatest lessons she’s learning about life is that there’s purpose in our trials. And it’s all about trusting God and putting our hope in Him. Her favorite stories will always be of the miracles God has wrought in the lives of her family.



Through this lens she also believes her years as a youth counselor, a Stephen Minister, a women’s ministry leader, and a small group leader have prepared her for God’s calling on her life—to write for and speak to those in mismatched marriages like hers.



In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen writes for Laced with Grace and various other fiction online magazines and newsletters. She’s also won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine.



Married for 23 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two precious daughters, and their dog Shasta, who no doubt is an angel in disguise.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Week after week, they sit in church . . . alone. They are the spiritually mismatched, those who are committed to a spouse who does not share their faith. Feeling abandoned by their spouse and forgotten by their church, they live out their faith in survival mode, guarding the spiritual flame yet never feeling free to share it. But God wants them to thrive—not just survive.



Winning Him Without Words presents 10 Christ centered keys to thriving in a spiritual mismatch. Readers are encouraged to commit to Christian community, to release their spouse to God’s capable hands, to find peace in their relationships with Christ and with their spouse, to continue their pursuit of a growing faith and to love their spouse with fresh enthusiasm. God wants every marriage to exude peace and love, and Winning Him Without Words empowers readers to create that environment in their homes and thrive as God works.



Watch their book video:







If you would like to read a sample chapter of Winning Him Without Words, go HERE.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pompeii by T.L. Higley


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pompeii
B&H Books (June 1, 2011)
by
T.L. Higley




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A fiction aficionado since grade school, T.L. Higley, author of Pompeii: City on Fire (B&H Publishing House, June 2011) started her first novel at the age of eight.



Now the author of nine historical fiction novels, including the popular Seven Wonders series, Higley isn’t just transporting readers: She’s transporting herself, too.



“My Iifelong interest in history and mythology has taken me to Italy, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, where I’ve gotten to study those ancient cultures in rich detail,” says Higley. “It’s my desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past, and I figure what better way to do that than to visit the cultures themselves?”



In addition to her accomplished novelist career, Higley is a business entrepreneur and a mother. In fact, for Pompeii, she brought her daughter along with her to Italy for the research trip.



“We gave it to her as a graduation present, not only because Italy is terrific, but because I believe in exposing children to global cultures,” says Higley, who became a student herself again this year. She’s now a graduate student at American Public University, earning her master’s degree in Ancient and Classical Studies.



When Higley isn’t traveling on research trips, writing her novels, or studying for class, she operates four online retail companies, including KoolStuff4Kids.com – a family-run business that began as a way for her oldest daughter to make some extra money for camp. Today, it is a go-to site for parents, children and teachers all over the country, looking for beads and other kid-friendly craft supplies.



Higley lives with her husband and her three other children (aforementioned daughter now in college) just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Pompeii, a city that's many things to many people. For Cato, it's the perfect escape from a failed political career in Rome. A place to start again, become a winemaker. But when a corrupt politician wrongfully jails Cato's sister, he must oust the man from power to save her.



For Ariella, Pompeii is a means to an end. As a young Jew, she escaped the fall of Jerusalem only to endure slavery to a cruel Roman general. She ends up in Pompeii, disguised as a young man and sold into a gladiator troupe. Her anger fuels her to fight well, hoping to win the arena crowds and reveal her gender at the perfect time. Perhaps then she will win true freedom.



But evil creeps through the streets of Pompeii. Political corruption, religious persecution, and family peril threaten to destroy Ariella and Cato, who are thrown together in the battle to survive. As Vesuvius churns with deadly intent, the two must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love, before the fiery ash buries Pompeii, leaving the city lost to the world.



Watch the book trailer:



If you would like to read the Prologue of Pompeii, go HERE.

This is still in my to-be-read pile. Will try to post a review later

Indelible by Kristen Heitzman

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

WaterBrook Press (May 3, 2011)
***Special thanks to Lynette Kittle, Senior Publicist, WaterBrook Multnomah, a Division of Random House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kristen Heitzmann’s gift of crafting stories has ranked her as the award-winning and best-selling author of two historical series and twelve contemporary, psychological and romantic suspense novels including Indivisible. As an artist and musician, Kristen lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and a continuous stream of extended family, various pets, and wildlife.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Award-wining and best-selling author Kristen Heitzmann brings another suspense story to life in Indelible (WaterBrook, May 3, 2011).

Follow Trevor MacDaniel, a high country outfitter, as he rescues a toddler from the jaws of a mountain lion. Discover how he can’t foresee the far-reaching consequences of his action, how it will entwine his life with gifted sculptor, Natalie Reeve—and attract a grim admirer.

Find out how Trevor’s need to guard and protect is born of tragedy, prompting his decision to become a search and rescue volunteer. And how Natalie’s gift of sculpting comes from an unusual disability that seeks release through her creative hands.

See how in each other they learn strength and courage as they face an incomprehensible foe…a twisted soul, who is drawn by the heroic story of the child’s rescue. One who sees Trevor as archangel and adversary, and threatens their peaceful mountain community—testing Trevor’s limits by targeting their most helpless and innocent.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (May 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073103
ISBN-13: 978-1400073108

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A veined bolt of lightning sliced the ozone-scented sky as Trevor plunged down the craggy slope, dodging evergreen spires like slalom poles. Rocks and gravel spewed from his boots and caromed off the vertical pitch.

“Trevor.” Whit skidded behind him. “We’re not prepared for this.”

No. But he hurled himself after the tawny streak. He was not losing that kid.

“He’s suffocated,” Whit shouted. “His neck’s broken.”

Trevor leaped past a man—probably the dad—gripping his snapped shinbone. Whit could help there. Digging his heels into the shifting pine needles, Trevor gave chase, outmatched and unwavering. His heart pumped hard as he neared the base of the gulch, jumping from a lichen-crusted stone to a fallen trunk. The cougar jumped the creek, lost its grip, and dropped the toddler. Yes.

He splashed into the icy flow, dispersing scattered leaves like startled goldfish. After driving his hand into the water, he gripped a stone and raised it. Not heavy, not nearly heavy enough.

Lowering its head over the helpless prey, the mountain lion snarled a spine-chilling warning. There was no contest, but the cat, an immature male, might not realize its advantage, might not know its fear of man was mere illusion. Thunder crackled. Trevor tasted blood where he’d bitten his tongue.

Advancing, he engaged the cat’s eyes, taunting it to charge or run. The cat backed up, hissing. A yearling cub, able to snatch a tot from the trail, but unprepared for this fearless challenge. Too much adrenaline for fear. Too much blood on the ground.

With a shout, he heaved the rock. As the cat streaked up the mountainside, he charged across the creek to the victim. He’d steeled himself for carnage, but even so, the nearly severed arm, the battered, bloody feet… His nose filled with the musky lion scent, the rusty smell of blood. He reached out. No pulse.

He dropped to his knees as Whit joined him from behind, on guard. He returned the boy’s arm to the socket, and holding it there with one trembling hand, Trevor began CPR with his other. On a victim so small, it took hardly any force, his fingers alone performing the compressions. The lion had failed to trap the victim’s face in its mouth. By grabbing the back of the head, neck, and shoulder, it had actually protected those vulnerable parts. But blood streamed over the toddler’s face from a deep cut high on the scalp, and he still wasn’t breathing.

Trevor bent to puff air into the tiny lungs, compressed again with his fingers, and puffed as lightly as he would to put out a match. Come on. He puffed and compressed while Whit watched for the cat’s return. Predators fought for their kills—even startled ones.

A whine escaped the child’s mouth. He jerked his legs, emitting a highpitched moan. Trevor shucked his jacket and tugged his T-shirt off over his head. He tied the sleeves around the toddler’s arm and shoulder, pulled the rest around, and swaddled the damaged feet—shoes and socks long gone. Thunder reverberated. The first hard drops smacked his skin. Tenderly, he pulled the child into his chest and draped the jacket over as a different rumble chopped the air. They had started up the mountain to find two elderly hikers who’d been separated from their party. Whit must have radioed the helicopter. He looked up. This baby might live because two old guys had gotten lost.

In the melee at the trailhead, Natalie clutched her sister-in-law’s hands, the horror of the ordeal still rocking them. As Aaron and little Cody were airlifted from the mountain, she breathed, “They’re going to be all right.”

“You don’t know that.” Face splotched and pale, Paige swung her head. Though her hair hung in wet blond strands, her makeup was weatherproof, her cologne still detectable. Even dazed, her brother’s wife looked and smelled expensive.

“The lion’s grip protected Cody’s head and neck,” one of the paramedics had told them. “It could have been so much worse.”

Paige started to sob. “His poor arm. What if he loses his arm?”

“Don’t go there.” What good was there in thinking it?

“How will he do the stuff boys do? I thought he’d be like Aaron, the best kid on the team.”

“He’ll be the best kid no matter what.”

“In the Special Olympics?”

Natalie recoiled at the droplets of spit that punctuated the bitter words.

“He’s alive, Paige. What were the odds those men from search and rescue would be right there with a helicopter already on standby?”

“We shouldn’t have needed it.” Paige clenched her teeth. “Aaron’s supposed to be recovering. He would have been if you weren’t such a freak.”

“What?” She’d endured Paige’s unsubtle resentment, but “ freak” ?

“Let me go.” Paige jerked away, careening toward the SUV.

Natalie heard the engine roar, the gravel flung by the spinning tires, but all she saw was the hate in Paige’s eyes, the pain twisting her brother’s face as he held his fractured leg, little Cody in the lion’s maw, the man leaping after…

She needed to clear the images, but it wouldn’t happen here. Around her, press vans and emergency vehicles drained from the lot, leaving the scent of exhaust and tire scars in the rusty mud. Paige had stranded her.

“Freak.” Heart aching, she took a shaky step toward the road. It hadn’t been that long a drive from the studio. A few miles. Maybe five. She hadn’t really watched—because Aaron was watching for her. Off the roster for a pulled oblique, he had seen an opportunity to finalize her venture and help her move, help her settle in, and see if she could do it. She’d been so thankful. How could any of them have known it would come to this? Trevor’s spent muscles shook with dumped adrenaline. He breathed the moist air in through his nose, willing his nerves to relax. Having gotten all they were going to get from him, most of the media had left the trailhead, following the story to the hospital. Unfortunately, Jaz remained.

She said, “You live for this, don’t you?” Pulling her fiery red hair into a messy ponytail didn’t disguise her incendiary nature or the smoldering coals reserved for him. He accepted the towel Whit handed him and wiped the rain from his head and neck, hoping she wouldn’t see the shakes. The late-summer storm had lowered the temperature enough she might think he was shivering.

“Whose idea was it to chase?”

“It’s not like you think about it. You just act.” Typing into her BlackBerry, she said, “Acted without thinking.”

“Come on, Jaz.” She couldn’t still be on his case.

“Interesting your being in place for the dramatic rescue of a pro athlete’s kid. Not enough limelight lately?”

“We were on another search.” She cocked her eyebrow. “You had no idea the victim’s dad plays center field for the Rockies?”

“Yeah, I got his autograph on the way down.” He squinted at the nearly empty parking lot. “Aren’t you following the story?”

“What do you think this is?”

“You got the same as everyone. That’s all I have to say.”

“You told us what happened. I want the guts. How did it feel? What were you thinking?” She planted a hand on her hip. “Buy me a drink?” He’d rather go claw to claw with another mountain lion. But considering the ways she could distort this, he relented. “The Summit?”

“I’d love to.” She pocketed her BlackBerry and headed for her car. Whit raised his brows at her retreat. “Still feeling reckless?”

“Sometimes it’s better to take her head on.”

“Like the cat?” Whit braced his hips.

“The cat was young, inexperienced.”

“You didn’t know that.”

“There was a chance the child wasn’t dead.”

“What if it hadn’t run?”

“If it attacked, you’d have been free to grab the kid.”

“Nice for you, getting mauled.”

“If it got ugly, I’d have shot it.”

“Shot?”

He showed him the Magnum holstered against the small of his back.

Whit stared at him, stone-faced. “You had your gun and you used a rock?”

“I was pretty sure it would run.”

“Pretty sure,” Whit said. “So, what? It wouldn’t be fair to use your weapon?”

It had been the cat against him on some primal level the gun hadn’t entered into. He said, “I could have hit the boy, or the cat could have dropped him down the gulch. When it did let go, I realized its inexperience and knew we had a chance to scare it off. Department of Wildlife can decide its fate. I was after the child.”

“Okay, fine.” With a hard exhale, Whit rubbed his face. “This was bad.”

Trevor nodded. Until today, the worst he’d seen over four years of rescues was a hiker welded to a tree by lightning and an ice climber’s impalement on a jagged rock spear. There’d been no death today, but Whit looked sick. “You’re a new dad. Seeing that little guy had to hit you right in the gut.” Whit canted his head.

“I’m just saying.” Trevor stuffed his shaking hands into his jacket pockets. The storm passed, though the air still smelled of wet earth and rain. He drove Whit back, then went home to shower before meeting Jazmyn Dufoe at the Summit. Maybe he’d just start drinking now. Arms aching, Natalie drove her hands into the clay. On the huge, square Corian table, two busts looked back at her: Aaron in pain, and Paige, her fairy-tale life rent by a primal terror that sprang without warning. She had pushed and drawn and formed the images locked in her mind, even though her hands burned with the strain.

No word had come from the Children’s Hospital in Denver, where the police chief said they’d taken Cody, or from the hospital that had Aaron. Waiting to hear anything at all made a hollow in her stomach. She heaved a new block of clay to the table, wedged and added it to the mound already softened. Just as she started to climb the stepstool, her phone rang. She plunged her hands into the water bucket and swabbed
them with a towel, silently begging for good news. “Aaron?”

Not her brother, but a nurse calling. “Mr. Reeve asked me to let you know he came through surgery just fine. He’s stable, and the prognosis is optimistic. He doesn’t want you to worry.”

Natalie pressed her palm to her chest with relief. “Did he say anything about Cody? Is there any news?”

“No, he didn’t say. I’m sure he’ll let you know as soon as he hears something.”

“Of course. Thank you so much for calling.”

Natalie climbed back onto the stool, weary but unable to stop. Normally, the face was enough, but this required more. She molded clay over stiff wire-mesh, drawing it up, up, proportionately taller than an average man, shoulders that bore the weight of other people’s fear, one arm wielding a stone, the other enfolding the little one. The rescuer hadn’t held both at once, but she combined the actions to release both images.

She had stared hard at his face for only a moment before he plunged over the ridge, yet retained every line and plane of it. Determination and fortitude in the cut of his mouth, selfless courage in the eyes. There’d been fear for Cody. And himself ? Not of the situation, but something…

It came through her hands in the twist of his brow. A heroic face, aware of the danger, capable of failing, unwilling to hold back. Using fingers and tools, she moved the powerful images trapped by her eidetic memory through her hands to the clay, creating an exterior storage that freed her mind, and immortalizing him—whoever he was. The Summit bar was packed and buzzing, the rescue already playing on televisions visible from every corner. With the whole crowd toasting and congratulating him, Jaz played nice—until he accepted her ride home and infuriated her all over again by not inviting her in.

He’d believed that dating women whose self-esteem reached egotistical meant parting ways wouldn’t faze them. Jaz destroyed that theory. She was not only embittered but vindictive. After turning on the jets, Trevor sank into his spa, letting the water beat his lower- and mid-lumbar muscles.

He pressed the remote to open the horizontal blinds and to look out through the loft windows.

Wincing, he reached in and rubbed the side of his knee. That plunge down the slope had cost him, but, given the outcome, he didn’t consider it a judgment error. That honor went to putting himself once more at the top of Jaz’s hate list. He maneuvered his knee into the pressure of a jet. When he got out, he’d ice it. If he got out.

He closed his eyes and pictured the battered toddler. The crowd’s attention had kept the thoughts at bay, easy to talk about the cat, how mountain lions rarely attacked people, how he and Whit had scared it off, how DOW would euthanize if they caught it, how his only priority had been to get the child. He had segued into the business he and Whit had opened the previous spring, rock and ice climbing, land and water excursions, cross-country ski and snowshoe when the season turned.

That was his business, but rescuing was in his blood, had been since his dad made him the man of the house by not coming home one night or any thereafter. At first, the nightmares had been bad—all the things that could go wrong: fire, snakes, tarantulas, tornadoes. They had populated his dreams until he woke drenched in sweat, cursing his father for trusting him to do what a grown man couldn’t.

The phone rang. He sloshed his arm up, dried his hand on the towel lying beside it, and answered. “Hey, Whit.”

“You doing okay?”

“Knee hurts. You?”

“Oh sure. You know—”

“Hold on. There’s someone at the door.”

“Yeah. Me and Sara.”

Trevor said, “Cute. Where’s your key?”

“Forgot it.”

Gingerly, he climbed over the side, then wrapped a towel around his hips, and let them in.

“You mind?” Whit frowned at the towel, although Sara hadn’t batted an eye.

She came in and made herself at home. Whit carried their twomonth- old asleep in his car seat to a resting place. Trevor threw on Under Armour shorts and a clean T-shirt, then rejoined them. “So what’s up?”

“Nice try, Trevor.” Sara fixed him with a look. “I especially like the practiced nonchalance.”

He grinned. “Hey, I’ve got it down.”

“With Jaz, maybe. No claw marks?”

“Too public.”

Whit rubbed his wife’s shoulder. “We knew you’d worry this thing, so Sara brought the remedy.”

She drew the Monopoly box out of her oversize bag with a grin that said she intended to win and would, wearing them down with her wheeling and dealing. “I’ll take that silly railroad off your hands. It’s no good to you when I have the other three.”

He rubbed his hands, looking into her bold blue eyes. “Bring it.”

The mindless activity and their chatter lightened his mood as Sara had intended. She knew him as well as Whit, maybe better. Each time he caught the concern, he reassured her with a smile. He’d be fine.

Whit played his get-out-of-jail card and freed his cannon. “Hear what’s going in next door to us?”

“No.”

“An art gallery.”

“Yeah?” Trevor adjusted the ice pack on his knee.

“Place called Nature Waits.”

“Waits for what?”

Whit shrugged. “Have to ask the lady sculptor.”

“Won’t exactly draw for our kind of customer.”

“At least it won’t compete.” Sara rolled the dice and moved her pewter shoe. “Another outfitter could have gone in. I’ll buy Park Place.”

Both men mouthed, “I’ll buy Park Place.”

She shot them a smile.

Two hours later, she had bankrupted them with her thoughtful loans and exorbitant use of hotels on prime properties. He closed the door behind them, and it hit. He raised the toilet seat and threw up, then pressed his back to the wall and rested his head, breathing deeply. The shaking returned, and this time he couldn’t blame adrenaline. He had literally puffed the life back into that tiny body. If that child had died in his arms…

Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seemed
Alone th’ antagonist of Heaven, nor less
Than Hell’s dread Emperor, with pomp supreme,
And god-like imitated state.

Child snatched from lion’s jaws. Two-year-old spared in deadly attack. Rescuer Trevor MacDaniel, champion of innocents, protector of life. Cameras rolling, flashes flashing, earnest newscasters recounted the tale. “On this mountain, a miracle. What could have been a tragedy became a triumph through the courage of this man who challenged a mountain lion to save a toddler attacked while hiking with his father, center-fielder…”

He consumed the story in drunken drafts. Eyes swimming, he gazed upon the noble face, the commanding figure on the TV screen. In that chest beat valiance. In those hands lay salvation. His heart made a slow drum in his ears. A spark ignited, purpose quickening.

Years he’d waited. He spread his own marred hands, instruments of instruction, of destruction. With slow deliberation, he closed them into fists. What use was darkness if not to try the light?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Judas Gospel by Bill Myers

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Howard Books; Original edition (June 14, 2011)
***Special thanks to Libby Reed, Publicity Assistant, Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Myers holds a degree in Theater Arts from the University of Washington and an honorary doctorate from the Theological Institute of Nimes, France, where he taught. As an author/screenwriter/director his work has won over 50 national and international awards, including the C.S. Lewis Honor Award. His books have sold more than 8 million copies and three of his novels are being made into movies, including The Wager, starring Randy Travis.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Judas, the disciple responsible for betraying Jesus, has a conversation with God and proposes to him that if God had used his powers to market Jesus that Judas would have, Jesus would have been more successful in saving the world, with more people following him. Judas has heard rumors that God is preparing another prophet and talks God into letting Judas return to earth to prove his point using this new prophet, a woman who possesses supernatural abilities and who is stalked by a serial killer through her horrifying dreams of his victims. Judas takes her pure ministry and turns it into a marketing circus, and he comes to realize that in mixing commerce with God, bigger isn’t better and that God is interested in reaching individuals, not masses.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (June 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143915354X
ISBN-13: 978-1439153543

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

PROLOGUE
________

CHANCES ARE you hate me. Believer or nonbeliever, if you've heard the story, you despise me. And believer or nonbeliever, that makes you a hypocrite. All of you. Believers, because you refuse to embrace the very forgiveness He pleaded for others, even those who tortured Him to death. And nonbelievers, because you pretend to hate the traitor of someone you hate.

"But I don't hate Him," you say.

Really? Pretending you don't hate someone who says all your attempts at being good are worthless? Pretending you don't hate someone who claims to be the only way to God? Pretending you don't hate someone who wants to rule your life? Who are you kidding? You're not fooling anyone, least of all Him.

But hate Him or worship Him, one thing you can say, He's no hypocrite. He stuck to the truth all the way through His execution. And He still holds to it today. (Old habits die hard.) Truth is His currency… and His Achilles' heel. That's why I knew He'd allow me into His presence. If my question was asked in truth, He'd respond in truth.

Now I'm sure there are some who will debate how I had access to Him—those of you who love to argue about gnats while swallowing camels. And why not? After all, debating about dancing angels and pinheads is far easier than breaking a sweat by actually obeying. Or, as the Accuser recently confided in me, "Spending time arguing theology is the perfect way to ensure a burning world continues to burn."

In any case, my eternal state is not up for discussion. Though I will say I have displayed more remorse and repentance over my sin than most of you ever have over your own. And as to whether I'm actually in hell, I guess that depends upon your definition of the place.

But I digress.

When I came before Him, I was forced to my knees. Not by any cosmic bullying, but by the sheer weight of His glory. Yet when He spoke, His voice was kind and full of compassion.

"Hello, my friend. It's been a long time."

My eyes immediately dropped to the ground and my chest swelled with emotion. So much time had passed and He still had that power over me. Angry at His hold, I took a ragged breath and then another before blurting out like a petulant child, "You… never gave me a chance!"

I was answered by silence. He waited until I found the courage, or foolishness, to raise my head. When I did, the love in His eyes burned through me and I had to look back down. Still, He continued to wait.

I took another breath. Finally, angrily swiping at my eyes, I tried again. "If we… if we would have handled Your mission my way"—I swallowed and continued—"the world would not be in the mess it's in today."

"Your way?"

I nodded, refusing to look up. "You could have ruled the world."

"I am ruling the world."

I shook my head. "Not souls. But nations, governments. Every earthly power imaginable could have been Yours."

"Kingdoms come and go. Souls are eternal."

"Tell that to the tortured and murdered who scream Your name as an oath every day." I waited for His wrath to flare up, to consume me. But I felt nothing. I heard no rebuke. Only more silence. He knew I wasn't finished. I took another breath and continued, "If You would have used Your powers my way, everyone would have followed You."

I heard Him chuckle softly. "And you would have made Me a star."

"The likes of which the world had never seen."

"I did all right."

"You could have done better."

He waited again, making sure I had nothing more to say. This time I had the good sense to remain silent.

Finally He spoke. "What do you propose, My friend?"

I hesitated.

"Please. Go ahead."

Still staring at the ground, I answered: "Rumor has it You're preparing another prophet—though her background is questionable."

"Moses was a murderer. David an adulterer." I felt His eyes searching me. "I've always had a soft spot for the broken."

I nodded and took another swipe at my tears.

"What would you like?"

Another breath and I answered: "Let me return to Earth. Let me show You what could have been if You had followed my leading." I hesitated, then looked up, trying to smile. "Hasn't that always been Your favorite method of teaching? Letting us have our way until we wind up proving Yours?"

His eyes sparkled at my little joke. I tried to hold His gaze but could not.

After another pause He finally spoke: "When would you like to begin?"

And that's how it started—how He gave me the opportunity to prove to Him, to you, and to all of creation, what could have been accomplished if He'd proclaimed His truth my way.

I'll say no more. Neither here nor at the end. Instead, I'll practice what He, himself, employs. I'll let the story unfold, allowing truth to speak for itself.





CHAPTER ONE
________

THE FIRST thing Rachel smells is smoke. That's how it always begins. Not the smoke of wood, but the acrid, chemical smell of burning drapes, melting carpet, smoldering sofa. The air is suffocating. Hot waves press against her face and mouth, making it difficult to breathe. Her mother stands before her in a white flowing gown. Flames engulf the woman's legs, leaping up and rising toward her waist where she holds little Rebecca. The two of them stare at Rachel, their eyes pleading for help, their faces filled with fear, confusion, and accusation as Rachel stands holding a lit candle in a small glass holder.

Mother and sister waver and dissolve, disappearing into the smoke. Suddenly Rachel is standing in the doorway of an upscale bathroom. The same bathroom she stood inside last night. And the night before. The marble tile is cool to her bare feet. There is no smoke now, only fog. So thick she sees nothing. But she can hear. There is the sound of splashing water. Someone in a tub. The room is filled with the sweet scent of rose bath oil.

A nearby dog yaps, its bark shrill and relentless.

A woman shouts from the tub, "Who's there?" Her voice is strong and authoritative, masking the fear she must feel.

Rachel tries to answer, but no sound comes from her throat.

"Who are you? How did you get in?" She hears the woman rising, water dripping from her body.

The dog continues to bark.

"Get out of here!" the woman yells. Water splashes. She swears. The sound of a struggle begins. Someone falls, knees thudding into the tub. There is the squeak of flesh against porcelain. Coughing, gagging. A scream that is quickly submerged underwater, muffled and bubbling.

Rachel hears herself gasping and grunting. She feels her own hands around the woman's throat.

The dog barks crazily.

The last of the burbling screams fades. The struggle ends. There is only the gentle sound of water sloshing back and forth, back and forth.

And the yelping dog.

Rachel rises and turns, fearful of what she knows she will see through the fog. As in the previous dreams, a bathroom mirror floats before her. But this evening there is something different. This evening there are letters scrawled across it in black cherry lipstick. Her scrawling:

Tell Them

In the mirror she sees a tiny red glow dancing across her hand, the hand that holds the burning candle. It's there every night, like a firefly. But instead of her own frightened face staring back at her, she sees the face of someone else: bald, white, and pale. A swastika tattooed on the side of the neck. Man, woman, she can't tell. But it is leering. And it is climbing out of the mirror toward her.

She screams and throws the candle at the reflection. The mirror shatters, breaking into a dozen pieces, a dozen images of the face sneering up at her. Until they change. Until they morph into different faces. Froglike. Reptilian. Each climbing out of its broken shard—snarling, reaching for her feet, clutching at her ankles until, mustering all of her strength, she wakes with a stifled scream.

Nineteen-year-old Rachel Delacroix lay in bed, heart pounding, T-shirt soaked and clinging. At first she thought it was from the water of the tub… until she realized it was her own cold sweat.

"Rachel?" Her father appeared in the doorway, his bald black head glistening in the streetlight from the hall window. The same window that held the broken air conditioner they could not afford to replace. "Are you all right?"

"Mmm?" she mumbled, pretending to be asleep.

"Was it—did you have another dream?"

She gave no answer.

"You're not taking your medicine, are you."

She remained silent, hoping he'd think she'd gone back to sleep.

"Rachel?"

More silence. She could hear him standing there nearly half a minute before he turned and wearily shuffled back down the hall to his room. Tomorrow was church and he needed to get his rest. Still, she knew full well he'd not be able to go back to sleep.

Hopefully, neither would she.

She opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling, then turned to the art posters on the surrounding walls—the Monets, the Van Goghs, the Renoirs. How often they gave her comfort. Even joy. But not tonight. Tonight, as in the past two nights she'd had the dream, they would give her nothing at all.

________

IT WAS BARELY past nine in the morning and the attic was like an oven. The Santa Anas had been blowing for several days, and Sean Putnam doubted the house had dropped below eighty degrees all night. That's why he was up here now—to save whatever was left of his paintings. To bring the canvases downstairs where it was cooler and the paint wouldn't dry out and crack. Over the past months he'd already thrown away dozens, mostly self-portraits; clear signs of what he now considered to have been his self-absorbed youth.

"Dad!"

He turned toward the stairs and shouted. As was the case with many Down syndrome children, the multiple ear infections had left his son hard of hearing. "I'll be there in a second."

"Well, hurry! We don't want to be late."

"I'll be right there."

"Well, hurry."

He quietly mused. Tomorrow would be Elliot's first day in middle school. A scary time for both of them. Yet it was all part of the plan he and Beverly had agreed upon. A plan conceived as the cancer began eating away and taking her. They wanted to make sure Elliot was prepared as much as possible to face the real world. Integrating him into the public school system seemed the best choice. They'd talked about it often during her final days. And it was the last conversation they had before she slipped into unconsciousness.

Now, barely a year later, he was making good on those plans.

"Dad."

"I'll be right there."

Elliot was nervous. He had been all week. That's why Sean had agreed to this trial run. That's why, though it was nine-fifteen on a Sunday morning, the two of them would pile into the old Ford Taurus and drive over to Lincoln Middle School. A rehearsal for tomorrow's big day. An attempt to help Elliot relax by eliminating any surprises.

Too bad Sean couldn't do the same for himself. Because he wasn't just anxious about his son. Tomorrow was a big day for him as well. He'd finally graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy, and tomorrow would be his first day on patrol in a black-and-white. That was the other reason he was up here in the attic. "To put away childish things." He wasn't sure where he'd first heard that phrase, probably from his old man. But it made it no less true. The days of being a long-haired art student had come and gone. Now it was time to be a man. To make the necessary sacrifices and take care of what was left of his family.

He quickly flipped through the remaining canvases until one slowed him to a stop. Not because of any artistic skill, but because of the subjects—six-week-old Elliot lying naked on his mother's tummy, his little fist clenched, nursing at her breast. It still moved him in ways he could not explain. Somehow, some way, he'd been able to capture the truth of that moment… mother and child lost in the act of life, their faces filled with contentment, glowing with an indefinable peace.

"Dad…"

He reached down and scooped up the canvas. "I'm on my way." He tucked the painting under his arm and headed back downstairs, where he would find someplace safe to keep it.


© 2011 Bill Myers

This one slipped up on me, and I haven't got the book read yet, though it looks very interesting and intriguing.

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Sweetest Thing
• Bethany House (June 1, 2011)
by
Elizabeth Musser




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native, studied English and French literature at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. While at Vanderbilt, I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Aix-en-Provence,



France. During her Senior year at Vanderbilt, she attended a five-day missions conference for students and discovered an amazing thing: God had missionaries in France, and she felt God calling her there. After graduation, she spent eight months training for the mission field in Chicago, Illinois and then two years serving in a tiny Protestant church in Eastern France where she met her future husband.



Elizabeth lives in southern France with her husband and their two sons. She find her work as a mother, wife, author and missionary filled with challenges and chances to see God’s hand at work daily in her life. Inspiration for her novels come both from her experiences growing up in Atlanta as well as through the people she meets in her work in France. Many conversations within her novels are inspired from real-life conversations with skeptics and seekers alike.



Her acclaimed novel, The Swan House, was a Book Sense bestseller list in the Southeast and was selected as one of the top Christian books for 2001 by Amazon's editors. Searching for Eternity is her sixth novel.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Compelling Southern Novel Explores Atlanta Society in the 1930s.



The Singleton family’s fortunes seem unaffected by the Great Depression, and Perri—along with the other girls at Atlanta’s elite Washington Seminary—lives a life of tea dances with college boys and matinees at the cinema. When tragedy strikes, Perri is confronted with a world far different from the one she has always known.



At the insistence of her parents, Mary ‘Dobbs’ Dillard, the daughter of an itinerant preacher, is sent from inner-city Chicago to live with her aunt and attend Washington Seminary. Dobbs, passionate, fiercely individualistic and deeply religious, enters Washington Seminary as a bull in a china shop and shocks the girls with her frank talk about poverty and her stories of revival on the road. Her arrival intersects at the point of Perri’s ultimate crisis, and the tragedy forges an unlikely friendship.



The Sweetest Thing tells the story of two remarkable young women—opposites in every way—fighting for the same goal: surviving tumultuous change. Just as the Great Depression collides disastrously with Perri's well-ordered life, friendship blossoms--a friendship that will be tested by jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets...



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Sweetest Thing, go HERE.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1000th post... Thoughts on being a sojourner

I started this blog in 2008. My first post was March 16, 2008. I named my blog "Thoughts of a Sojourner." The name comes from a song titled "I Don't Belong" penned and originally recorded by Buddy Green. There is a line in the chorus "I don't belong, I'm a foreigner here, singing a sojourner's song."

To sojourn means to temporarily stay - to visit. Thus, a sojourner is a visitor. I always liked the song, and if we are a Christian, we are just visiting here. We are visitors.... sojourners.

Since I posted that first blog post, life has changed so much. At the time, I was living in Indiana, sharing an apartment with my best friend. Since then, I have moved back to Ohio, am staying with my parents in what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but is going on too long as I struggle to find full time work so I can have my own place.

I have dealt with - still deal with - depression.

I turned 40.

My blog has gone from being a place where I share myself, to being mostly a book review blog.

I've gone from thinking I had all of the answers, to feeling I don't have any.

I've made new friends, and seem forever distanced from other friends.

I've gone from thinking my church was right on everything, to wondering if they are wrong on more than they are right.

I started to write a book... then quit.

I lost weight...... then gained it back.

I lost myself.... and have yet to find myself.

I have gotten older, and hopefully wiser.

I've learned that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

I started two more blogs, both of which I don't do much with.


And as I sit here looking at the screen as I type, listening to my favorite music.... more than ever, I feel like a sojourner.

I sometimes park in one of the visitor parking places at church when I drive my car on Sunday evenings, and have got a few comments about that. I half-jokingly told someone that I feel like a visitor, so thus I can park there, but it is true. I feel like a visitor - a sojourner - at my own church..... but where do I belong? Heaven someday? I hope so, but we all need a sense of belonging here, and I am not there.

I feel torn between two worlds. Often, I have tried to live in both, which doesn't work. Yet, I don't feel like I belong in either. Sometimes the pull is stronger for one than the other. Other times, both seem to pull equally.

I look in the mirror, and don't like the man I have become.... and wonder if I can change. I have become so jaded, so cynical. Can I be carefree and hopeful again, or did that die with the turning of 40.

There is a song that says "if I'd known then, what I know now." How true. Hindsight is truly better than foresight. As I sit here and look back over the blog posts, the days, weeks, months.... if I'd known then, what I know now... I would have done things differently. But I didn't.

One thousand posts.... three years, and almost three months later. What will my life be like at two thousand? I hope and pray that it is better and that I am truly wiser by then.

I DON'T BELONG - words by Gloria Gaither, music by Buddy Greene

It's not home
Where men sell their souls
And the taste of power is sweet
Where wrong is right
And neighbors fight
While the hungry are dyin' in the streets
Where kids are abused And women are used
And the weak are crushed by the strong
Nations gone mad
Jesus is sadAnd
 I don't belong

Chorus:
I don't belongAnd
 I'm going someday
Home to my own native land
I don't belong
And it seems like I hear
The sound of a "welcome home" band
I don't belong
I'm a foreigner here
Singing a sojourner's song
I've always known
This place ain't home
And I don't belong

Don't belong
But while I'm here
I'll be living like I've nothin' to lose
And while I breatheI'll
 just believe
My Lord is gonna see me through
I'll not be deceived
By earth's make-believe
I'll close my ears to her siren song
By praisin' His name, I'm not ashamed
'Cause I don't belong

Repeat Chorus

I belong To a kingdom of peace
Where only love is the law
Where children lead And captives are freed
And God becomes a baby on the straw
Where dead men live
And rich men give
Their kingdoms to buy back a song
Where sinners like me
Become royalty
And we'll all belong

Yes I belong
And I'm going someday
Home to my own native land
Where I'll belong
And it seems like I hear
The sound of a "welcome home" band
Yes, I'll belong
No foreigner there
Singin' a sojourner's song
I've always known
I'm going home
Where I belong
Yes I've always known
This place ain't home
And I don't belong


Monday, June 13, 2011

Amish Prayers by Beverly Lewis

A One-of-a-Kind Collection of Inspiring Prayers Used by Amish and Mennonites for Over 300 Years!



The Amish and other Anabaptist groups have treasured the same book of prayers for centuries, turning to it for inspiration during times of peace as well as persecution. Now a selection of prayers from Die Ernsthafte Christenpflicht is readily available in English. This exclusive, authentic translation from the original German--with an introduction by bestselling author Beverly Lewis--pairs each prayer with a Scripture passage and offers insights into the rich spiritual foundations of the Plain people. Whether used for personal devotions or in a group setting, this beautifully illustrated collection will draw you closer to God.

My review:
I have never reviewed a book of prayers before, but here goes.

The book itself is very attractive, jacketed hardcover. There are several prayers in the book, separated into different types of prayers such as prayers of gratitude, repentance, for strength, and many more. Each prayer is followed with a Scripture verse.

There are several attractive illustrations throughout the book, which adds a lot to the book.
The prayers themselves are all fairly short, but are thoughtful and heartfelt.

This book would make a great gift for anyone, but especially anyone interested in the Amish and/or Beverly Lewis books.

About the author:
Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, is The New York Times bestselling author of more than eighty books. Her stories have been published in eleven languages worldwide. A keen interest in her mother's Plain heritage has inspired Beverly to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with The Shunning, which has sold more than one million copies and was recently made into an Original Hallmark Channel movie. In 2007 The Brethren was honored with a Christy Award. She has been interviewed by both national and international media, including Time magazine, the Associated Press, and the BBC. Beverly lives with her husband, David, in Colorado. Visit her Web site at www.beverlylewis.com for more information.

Amish Prayers is available from Bethany House Publishing.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Out of a Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan...Includes a Giveaway

I have a copy of this book to give away. Details at the end of the blog post.

Coming Out, Then Coming Home



Christopher Yuan, the son of Chinese immigrants, discovered at an early age that he was different. He was attracted to other boys. As he grew into adulthood, his mother, Angela, hoped to control the situation. Instead, she found that her son and her life were spiraling out of control—and her own personal demons were determined to defeat her.


Years of heartbreak, confusion, and prayer followed before the Yuans found a place of complete surrender, which is God’s desire for all families. Their amazing story, told from the perspectives of both mother and son, offers hope for anyone affected by homosexuality.


God calls all who are lost to come home to him. Casting a compelling vision for holy sexuality, Out of a Far Country speaks to prodigals, parents of prodigals, and those wanting to minister to the gay community.


“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” - Luke 15:20


Includes a discussion guide for personal reflection and group use.

My review:
I usually don't review biographical type books, but this one sounded interesting, so I decided to go ahead and review it, and am glad I did.

This book is two stories. One is the story of Christopher, a young man who lived the gay lifestyle and a life of drugs, and how God reached him. The other story is about his mother, Angela. Of how she was about to kill herself to get out of a bad marriage and away from the knowledge that her youngest son was gay.

I tend to read suspense novels that are gripping.... this book is gripping in a totally different way. It is amazing to read how God worked in this family. It is more than the story of how a young man came out of homosexuality to serve God. It is how God changed an entire family. I found myself with tears in my eyes at times, and rejoicing at others.

The gay issue is becoming more and more prevalent, and all too many people have friends and/or relatives in that lifestyle. It does us good to read a book like this, but the issue of homosexuality aside, this is a great encouraging book to read of what God can do, and how he can change anyone - even when it seems impossible.

I am not one to grade books I read with stars, but if I did that, this would get 5 out of 5 stars. Definitely worth reading. Interesting, gripping, and very encouraging.

About the authors:


A passionate minister with a heart for those working through issues of sexuality and those living with HIV/AIDS, Christopher Yuan who teaches at Moody Bible Institute, speaks locally and internationally to youth, on college campuses, in churches and in prisons. His speaking ministry - where he testifies about how God has changed his life from that of a drug dealer and a homosexual to a sought out speaker and bible teacher - has reached four continents worldwide. Christopher has spoken at both Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church in America and at many conferences including InterVarsity's Urbana and the Moody Pastors' Conference and Men's Conference. He is featured in the award-winning documentary, "HOPE Positive: Surviving the Sentence of AIDS" and has co-authored with his mother, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God, A Broken Mother's Search for Hope (forthcoming May 3, 2011 by WaterBrook Multnomah a division of Random House). Christopher graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 2005 and Wheaton College Graduate School in 2007 with a Master of Arts in Biblical Exegesis and is currently pursuing a doctorate of ministry at Bethel Seminary.

Angela Yuan is the mother of Christohpher Yuan. She has co-authored a book with Christopher, Out of a Far Land. She travels around the country speaking, often with her son.




Out of a Far Country is available from Watrerbrook/Multnomah Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbook/Multnomah for the review copy.

Read the first chapter here.



Giveaway:
I was sent two copies of this book by mistake, so I am offering one as a giveaway. Just comment on this blog post, and you will be entered. I will pick a winner on June 30.

Rate my review here.

The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

WaterBrook Press (June 21, 2011)
***Special thanks to Lynette Kittle, Senior Publicist, WaterBrook Multnomah, a Division of Random House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Sigmund Brouwer is the bestselling author of Broken Angel and nineteen other novels, with close to three million books in print. His work has appeared in Time, The Tennessean, on Good Morning America and other media. Sigmund is married to recording artist Cindy Morgan and has two young daughters.


Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer of Broken Angel, releases another suspense thriller in The Canary List (WaterBrook Press, June 21, 2011).

Jaimie is just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can’t—something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.

And all Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter’s death alone.

But when his student Jaimie comes to him terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, initiating a tangled web of bizarre events that sends them both spiraling toward destruction.

Crockett’s one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie’s past and her strange gift. It isn’t long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world—the Vatican.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307446468
ISBN-13: 978-0307446466

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Prologue

She knew that they hurt the boy, because he told her, always, the mornings after he was returned.

She was the only one the boy trusted. She was five and he was four. Each time he was returned to the house, it seemed he had grown smaller.

Black walls and candles, he said. Hoods and robes, like the scary people in Scooby Doo cartoons. Except it wasn’t a cartoon. He couldn’t describe what the people in hoods and robes did to him because he would start shaking and sobbing as he made the attempt.

He told her it must be something they ate that made them so mean to him. Hales.

She didn’t know what hales were and neither did he. But he told her about two pieces of wood crossed, and how they trampled it and kept repeating about the hales they had ate in, but he never knew what they ate the hales in, because they never finished explaining. They just said ‘hales ate in’ and left it at that.

On the last night she saw the boy, she was in his bedroom at the foster home. They heard the car drive up and looked out the window and saw it was
them again. She had his toy bow and arrow set, and she vowed to the boy that she wouldn’t let them take him again.

She was ready when the man in the mask came into the bedroom. She aimed the arrow at the eyes of the tall man, and the rubber suction cup of the
toy arrow hit him squarely in his left eye. He cursed and lifted the mask and rubbed his eye before he realized that she was the one who had fired the arrow,
not the boy. He dropped the mask into place and, with a snort of rage, stepped forward and swept her away with a blow across her face.

“I am The Prince,” he said, as she struggled to her knees. He moved to stand over her. “Bow to me.”

His face. She had seen it before. He was someone she saw at church on Sundays. In a robe at the front, handing out bread to people as they bowed
down in front of him.

She did not want to bow.

Instead she rose in defiance and spit on his leg. He lashed out again, hitting her across the cheek. She tried to scream, but the pain was too great.

Another man in another mask stepped into the bedroom and pulled him away. Then they took the boy.

She never saw the boy again. He went to live at another house, the people at the house said.

But the man with the mask came back. He wore the mask while he hurt her again. In horrible ways. He promised if she told anyone, he could come
back and kill her and then kill the people of the house.

So she didn’t tell anyone. She tried to believe it was a dream. A very bad dream.

But some nights she would wake up and shiver and cry and wonder where the boy was. And she would wonder, too, what hales were and what they ate the hales in and how it was that hales could make people so horrible.

Chapter 1

Evil hunted her.

It had driven her toward the beach, where, protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper crept toward the front window of a small bungalow a few
blocks off the ocean in Santa Monica.

She knew it was wrong, sneaking up on her schoolteacher like this, but she couldn’t help herself. She was afraid—really afraid—and she wanted his help.

First she had to make sure he was alone. If he was with someone else, she wouldn’t bother him.

The sound of night bugs was louder than the traffic on the main boulevard that intersected this quiet street. It was June, and the air was warm and
had the tangy smell of ocean. The grass was cool and wet. She felt the dew soaking through her canvas high-top Converse sneakers. Jaimie wasn’t one to
worry about fashion. She just liked the way the sneakers felt and looked. Okay, maybe she liked them too because none of the other kids her age wore them.

Jaimie was twelve. Slender and tall, she had long, fine hair that she tended to wear in a ponytail with a ball cap. If she let it hang loose, it softened her appearance to the point where others viewed her as girlie, something she hated.

The alternative was to cut it herself, because her foster parents didn’t like wasting money by sending her to a beauty salon, but cutting it herself would just remind her that she was nothing but a foster kid, so she just let it grow. And wore Converse sneakers that looked anything but girlie.

Not only was it wrong to be sneaking up on her teacher’s house, but it was wrong even to know where he lived. Jaimie knew that. But his wallet had been open on his desk once, with his driver’s license showing behind a clear plastic window, and she’d read it upside down while she was talking to him and had memorized his address.

Although this was the first time she’d stopped, she had ridden her bike past his house plenty of times, wondering what it would be like if she lived in
the little house near the beach.

It wasn’t the house that drew her. It was dreaming about what it would be like to have a family, and it seemed the perfect house for a family with a mom and a dad and a couple of girls.

A real family. A house that they had lived in for years and years, with a yard and a couple of dogs. Beagles. She loved beagles.

Her mom would be a little pudgy but someone who laughed all the time. Jaimie didn’t like the moms she saw who were cool and hip and trying to outdo their daughters in skinniness and tight-fitting jeans.

Her dad would not have perfect hair and drive a BMW. Jaimie didn’t have friends, because Jaimie wasn’t a friend kind of person, but she knew girls at
school with dads like that, and those girls didn’t seem happy. If Jaimie had a dad, he’d be the kind of guy who went to barbers, not stylists, and had hair that
was always a couple of weeks past needing a barber, who wore jeans and didn’t tuck in his shirt and always dropped everything to listen to whatever story his
girl wanted to tell him.

A dad like Mr. G, her teacher. He drove an old Jeep, the kind with canvas top and roll bars. Sometimes she’d see a surfboard strapped to the top of it, canvas top gone. Mr. G had that kind of surfer-dude look, with the long hair and a long nose bent a little. Not perfect kind of handsome, but a face you still
looked at twice. Some of the girls in her class had a crush on him.

Not Jaimie.

She just wished she could have a dad like him and a house like the house he lived in. Sometimes when she was really lonely, she would ride her bike in the neighborhood, pretending it was her home and that when she got there, she’d be able to wheel up the sidewalk and drop her bike on the grass and leave
it there, because if it really was her family, no one would get upset about little things like that.

It wasn’t that she just had a good feeling about him. It was that Jaimie knew Mr. G could be trusted. Jaimie had a sense about people, a sense that sometimes haunted her.

Like earlier tonight, when she’d met a guy who had come to her house to talk to her foster parents. She’d watched his eyes as he checked the layout of the
house, standing in the kitchen, saying that he was from Social Services. She had taken her bracelet off to hand wash some dishes, and without it on her
wrist, she’d felt the Evil that radiated from him. Evil that hunted her.

So while the man with Evil was talking to her foster parents, she’d grabbed her bracelet and snuck out of the house and jumped on her bike. Dusk was just turning black when she began the twenty-minute ride from the large old house toward the ocean, where she often snuck at night anyway to walk the beach.

But the feeling of Evil was still so real she couldn’t shake it. She wanted—no, needed—to talk to someone about it. Wanted—no, needed—to feel safe. Somehow.

The one person who had promised to help wasn’t answering her phone. That only left Mr. G. The only other person in the world she could trust.
She made it to the side of the window at his house. She inched her head up to peek through the glass.

She saw a single candle.

And Mr. G on the couch. Holding a big book open in his lap.

She watched, knowing she shouldn’t watch.

It looked like he was talking to the book.

And then he glanced up, and for that split second, it seemed like he was staring right into her eyes.

My review:
To be honest, after I received this book, I wasn't sure I was going to like it, so I put off reading it until today. I actually enjoyed it. It was a very interesting read, exciting, and suspenseful.

The novel explores the idea of demons and demon possession - are they real, does it really happen.

Corruption and cover-ups in the Catholic church are the central theme of the book, resulting in a showdown in the Vatican, and it was interesting and scary to think about what such a big powerful church might do to cover up its sins and of those in power.

I was a bit disappointed in the ending. I would have liked some more details concerning the main character to be wrapped up better, but I still enjoyed reading the book.