Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009

It's that time of year again (already!) for the Fall Reading Challenge. Somehow I always manage to post this late, but I like doing it every year anyway so here is my list. I will change it to purple after it has been read and I will link it to the review if I do one. Add a post with your top 5 most want to read books between now and Christmas and I will do a giveaway around Christmas between all the participants. So here I go...





1) One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson
2) Fields of Grace by Kim Sawyer
3) Cowboy Christmas by Mary Coneally
4) Bluegrass Christmas by Allie Pleiter
5) 3 Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah by Melody Carlson
6) The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin
7) Bo's Cafe by Lynch, Thrall and McNichol
8) A Taste of Fame (Potluck Catering Club) by Linda Shepherd & Eva Marie Everson
9) It's Not About Him by Michelle Sutton
10) Intervention by Terri Blackstock
11) Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin
12) A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling
13) Stretch Marks by Kimberly Stuart
14) Double Cross by David James Jordan
15) The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason
16) Things Worth Remembering by Jakina Stark
17) The Last Word by Kathy Herman
18) Emmy's Equal by Marcia Gruver
19) The Fence My Father Built by Linda Clare
20) A Little Help From My Friends by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
21) Last Breath by Brandilyn Collins & Amberly Collins
22) eye of the god by Ariel Allison
23) Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh
24) What Matters Most by Melody Carlson
25) Limelight by Melody Carlson
26) Fit to Be Tied by Robin Lee Hatcher
27) Prisoner of Versailles by Golden Keyes Parsons
28) Thirsty by Tracey Bateman
29) Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer
30) Eternity Falls by Kirk Outerbridge
31) Saints Roost by Terry Burns
32) White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner
33) The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall
34) Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin
35) It's Not About Him by Michelle Sutton
36) Trial By Fire by Cara Putman
37) The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh
38) The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson
39) The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti
40) Essie In Progress by Marjorie Prestren
41) Raising Rain by Debbie Fuller Thomas
42) Songs of Deliverance by Marilyn Griffith
43) Whirlwind by Robert Liparulo
44) The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland
45) Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry
46) Sheriff's Surrender by Susan Page Davis
47) Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur
48) The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. & Cindy Kelley



Non-Fiction
1) Already Gone by Ken Ham
2) Messages to Myself by Helen B. McIntosh
3) Embrace the Struggle by Zig Ziglar
4) So Much More Than Sexy by Mark Atteberry
5) Touched by a Vampire
6) One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber
7) Setting Up Stones by Martha & Greg Singleton
8) The Christmas Kitchen by Tammy Maltby

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"The Sheriff's Surrender" Book Review

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:


The Sheriff’s Surrender

Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
Talk about a promising new series! Susan Page Davis has a great start here with the Ladies' Shooting Club series and Sheriff's Surrender has only whet my appetite for what is yet to come in these books. I love the town and setting and the scenario is just wonderful. The sheriff is murdered and an interim is appointed, but is he not doing his job? People are getting attacked and more murders are happening! The ladies are concerned and come to Gert for training in shooting so they can protect themselves. The men of the town aren't thrilled with all the women running around with weapons, but when it comes right down to it, will the sheriff need the help of the Ladies' Shooting Club to find the killer before its too late?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Award-winning author Susan Page Davis is a mother of six who lives in Maine with her husband, Jim. She worked as a newspaper correspondent for more than twenty-five years in addition to home-schooling her children. She writes historical romances and cozy mysteries and is a member of ACFW. Visit her Web site at

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602605629
ISBN-13: 978-1602605626

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Fergus, Idaho

May 1885


Gert Dooley aimed at the scrap of red calico and squeezed the trigger. The Spencer rifle she held cracked, and the red cloth fifty yards away shivered.

“I’d say your shooting piece is in fine order.” She lowered the rifle and passed it to the owner, Cyrus Fennel. She didn’t particularly like Fennel, but he always paid her brother, the only gunsmith in Fergus, with hard money.

He nodded. “Thank you, Miss Dooley.” He shoved his hand into his pocket.

Gert knew he was fishing out a coin. This was the part her brother hated most—taking payment for his work. She turned away. Hiram would be embarrassed enough without her watching. She picked up the shawl she had let fall to the grass a few minutes earlier.

“That’s mighty fine shooting, Gert,” said Hiram’s friend, rancher Ethan Chapman. He’d come by earlier to see if Hiram would help him string a fence the next day. When Cyrus Fennel had arrived to pick up his repaired rifle, Ethan had sat down on the chopping block to watch Gert demonstrate the gun.

“Thank you kindly.” Gert accepted praise for shooting as a matter of course. Now, if Ethan had remarked that she looked fine today or some such pretty thing, she’d have been flustered. But he would never say anything like that. And shooting was just work.

Fennel levered the rifle’s action open and peered at the firing pin. “Looks good as new. I should be able to pick off those rats that are getting in my grain bins.”

“That’s quite a cannon for shooting rats,” Gert said.

Ethan stood and rested one foot on the chopping block, leaning forward with one arm on his knee. “You ought to hire Gert to shoot them for you.”

Gert scowled. “Why’d I want to do that? He can shoot his own rats.”

Hiram, who had pocketed his pay as quickly as possible, moved the straw he chewed from one side of his mouth to the other. He never talked much. Men brought him their firearms to fix. Hiram listened to them tell him what the trouble was while eyeing the piece keenly. Then he’d look at Gert. She would tell them, “Come back next week.” Hiram would nod, and that was the extent of the conversation. Since his wife, Violet, had died eight years ago, the only person Hiram seemed to talk to much was Ethan.

Fennel turned toward her with a condescending smile. “Folks say you’re the best shot in Fergus, Miss Dooley.”

Gert shrugged. It wasn’t worth debating. She had sharp eyes, and she’d fired so many guns for Hiram to make sure they were in working order that she’d gotten good at it, that was all.

Ethan’s features, however, sprang to life. “Ain’t it the truth? Why, Gert can shoot the tail feathers off a jay at a hundred yards with a gun like that. Mighty fine rifle.” He nodded at Fennel’s Spencer, wincing as though he regretted not having a gun as fine.

“Well, now, I’m a fair shot myself,” Fennel said. “I could maybe hit that rag, too.”

“Let’s see you do it,” Ethan said.

Fennel jacked a cartridge into the Spencer, smiling as he did. The rag still hung limp from a notched stick and was silhouetted against the distant dirt bank across the field. He put his left foot forward and swung the butt of the stock up to his shoulder, paused motionless for a second, and pulled the trigger.

Gert watched the cloth, not the shooter. The stick shattered just at the bottom of the rag. She frowned. She’d have to find another stick next time. At least when she tested a gun, she clipped the edge of the cloth so her stand could be used again.

Hiram took the straw out of his mouth and threw it on the ground. Without a word, he strode to where the tattered red cloth lay a couple of yards from the splintered stick and brought the scrap back. He stooped for a piece of firewood from the pile he’d made before Fennel showed up. The stick he chose had split raggedly, and Hiram slid the bit of cloth into a crack.

Ethan stood beside Gert as they watched Hiram walk across the field, all the way to the dirt bank, and set the piece of firewood on end.

“Hmm.” Fennel cleared his throat and loaded several cartridges into the magazine. When Hiram was back beside them, he raised the gun again, held for a second, and fired. The stick with the bit of red stood unwavering.

“Let Gert try,” Ethan said.

“No need,” she said, looking down at her worn shoe tips peeping out beneath the hem of her skirt.

“Oh, come on.” Ethan’s coaxing smile tempted her.

Fennel held the rifle out. “Be my guest.”

Gert looked to her brother. Hiram gave the slightest nod then looked up at the sky, tracking the late afternoon sun as it slipped behind a cloud. She could do it, of course. She’d been firing guns for Hiram for ten years—since she came to Fergus and found him grieving the loss of his wife and baby. Folks had brought him more work than he could handle. They felt sorry for him, she supposed, and wanted to give him a distraction. Gert had begun test firing the guns as fast as he could fix them. She found it satisfying, and she’d kept doing it ever since. Thousands upon thousands of rounds she’d fired, from every type of small firearm, unintentionally building herself a reputation of sorts.

She didn’t usually make a show of her shooting prowess, but Fennel rubbed her the wrong way. She knew he wasn’t Hiram’s favorite patron either. He ran the Wells Fargo office now, but back when he ran the assay office, he’d bought up a lot of failed mines and grassland cheap. He owned a great deal of land around Fergus, including the spread Hiram had hoped to buy when he first came to Idaho. Distracted by his wife’s illness, Hiram hadn’t moved quickly enough to file claim on the land and had missed out. Instead of the ranch he’d wanted, he lived on his small lot in town and got by on his sporadic pay as a gunsmith.

Gert let her shawl slip from her fingers to the grass once more and took the rifle. As she focused on the distant stick of firewood, she thought, That junk of wood is you, Mr. Rich Land Stealer. And that little piece of cloth is one of your rats.

She squeezed gently. The rifle recoiled against her shoulder, and the far stick of firewood jumped into the air then fell to earth, minus the red cloth.

“Well, I’ll be.” Fennel stared at her. “Are you always this accurate?”

“You ain’t seen nothing,” Ethan assured him.

Hiram actually cracked a smile, and Gert felt the blood rush to her cheeks even though Ethan hadn’t directly complimented her. She loved to see Hiram smile, something he seldom did.

“Mind sharing your secret, Miss Dooley?” Fennel asked.

Ethan chuckled. “I’ll tell you what it is. Every time she shoots, she pretends she’s aiming at something she really hates.”

“Aha.” Fennel smiled, too. “Might I ask what you were thinking of that time, ma’am?”

Gert’s mouth went dry. Never had she been so sorely tempted to tell a lie.

“Likely it was that coyote that kilt her rooster last month,” Hiram said.

Gert stared at him. He’d actually spoken. She knew when their eyes met that her brother had known exactly what she’d been thinking.

Ethan and Fennel both chuckled.

Of course, I wouldn’t really think of killing him, Gert thought, even though he stole the land right out from under my grieving brother. The Good Book says don’t kill and don’t hate. Determined to heap coals of fire on her adversary’s head, she handed the Spencer back to him. “You’re not too bad a shot yourself, Mr. Fennel.”

His posture relaxed, and he opened his mouth all smiley, like he might say something pleasant back, but suddenly he stiffened. His eyes focused beyond Gert, toward the dirt street. “Who is that?”

Gert swung around to look as Ethan answered. “That’s Millicent Peart.”

“Don’t think I’ve seen her since last fall.” Fennel shook his head. “She sure is showing her age.”

“I don’t think Milzie came into town much over the winter,” Gert said.

For a moment, they watched the stooped figure hobble along the dirt street toward the emporium. Engulfed in a shapeless old coat, Milzie Peart leaned on a stick with each step. Her mouth worked as though she were talking to someone, but no one accompanied her.

“How long since her man passed on?” Ethan asked.

“Long time,” Gert said. “Ten years, maybe. She still lives at their cabin out Mountain Road.”

Fennel grimaced as the next house hid the retreating figure from view. “Pitiful.”

Ethan shrugged. “She’s kinda crazy, but I reckon she likes living on their homestead.”

Gert wondered how Milzie got by. It must be lonesome to have no one, not even a nearly silent brother, to talk to out there in the foothills.

“Supper in half an hour.” She turned away from the men and headed for the back porch of the little house she shared with Hiram. She hoped Fennel would take the hint and leave. And she hoped Ethan would stay for supper, but of course she would never say so.

"Wisdom Hunter" Book Review

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:


Wisdom Hunter

Multnomah Books (September 20, 2003)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
Sometimes you run across a book that is the complete package. Wisdom Hunter is one of those books. It is full of everything that makes a book great - storyline that grips, twists and turns that keep you reading, characters that pull you in, settings that are different and spiritual insight that makes you think long after you have set the book down.

Pastor Jason Faircloth has the perfect life - huge church that hangs on his every word, wife that does everything he asks, beautiful daughter that... oh wait, that ran away a year ago and hasn't been heard from since. But other than that what more could he ask for. Well, life falls apart in a swift turn of heart breaking events and Jason is left with nothing except an emptiness that even God can't fill. That is until the moment Jason decides that instead of running from God in his pain he is going to run to God in his pain and make God deal with it. In the middle of everything Jason just wants to find his granddaughter, the one link to his daughter, why can't that work out? An amazing story of God's grace and mercy in any situation.

This book gets a little heavy in a couple spots when Jason is really hunting for wisdom, but those parts are worth pondering over... the story will keep you reading rapidly... once I started this book I was eager to see how it would all wrap up. Good book!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Randall Arthur is the bestselling author of Jordan’s Crossing and Brotherhood of Betrayal. He and his wife have served as missionaries to Europe for over thirty years. From 1976 till 1998, he lived in Norway and Germany as a church planter. Since 2000, he has taken numerous missions teams from the United States on trips all over Europe. Arthur is also the founder of the AOK (Acts of Kindness) Bikers’ Fellowship, a group of men who enjoy the sport of motorcycling. He and his family live in Atlanta, Georgia.


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (September 20, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590522591
ISBN-13: 978-1590522592

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


PART 1: 1971-1972


Jason cleared his throat. His wife knew what was coming next, and the pain within her rose again. At every evening meal for the last five hundred and fifteen days he had prayed aloud for their daughter, always working his way slowly through the prayer, emphasizing each word as if to prove his sincerity.


"0 God," he said tonight, "wherever Hannah might be right now, we ask that she'll know your protection. Thank you for watching over her. And thank you even more that one day you'll honor our faith and bring her home."


He paused, as if to arrest the Almighty's attention, then continued with a faltering voice. "Just-just make it soon. We miss her... "



LYING ON THE living room couch, Hannah Freedman proudly realized once again that she was the reason Cody had emerged from his loneliness. He was absolutely consumed by her-and the thought was enthralling. Admiring her diamond-studded wedding band, she gratified herself with the reminder that Cody always treated her like a princess, as if by royal decree she had somehow granted him a new life.

At this very moment, alone in their suburban Miami home, she could feel his infatuation. It lingered in every room, echoing in the easy recall of Cody's loving words and embraces.

Hannah turned heavily upon her side, the baby in her womb preventing her from rolling all the way over onto her stomach. She smiled. It was like a fairy tale. She and Cody had met only ten months ago-she a runaway, not yet eighteen; and he a well-bred, 25 year-old professional. Now they were together forever. How could it be real? How could they have it so good?

She reached over her head, retrieving from behind her a framed photograph of Cody that sat alone on the end table. The picture had been taken only weeks before she met him. It was the same handsome face, the same green-eyed, ash-blond man who was now her husband-but he had been so different then. There was a smile on the face, but it was hiding a sense of loss that had governed his life ever since the death of his parents in a plane crash two years earlier. From that seemingly unshakable disorientation, she had rescued him. Likewise, Cody had taken her from a miserable existence and placed her on a lofty pedestal of fulfillment beyond her wildest dreams.

Her spirit soared with gratefulness as she pressed the photograph to her chest. Lost in blissful thoughts, she relived for the thousandth time the nonstop passion of the last ten months. First, the explosive romance-the instant chemistry, like gunpowder contacting fire. Then came the unplanned but welcomed pregnancy, followed by the exchange of wedding vows seven and a half months ago. Every day had been glorious. If she could live all of it over, she would not change a single detail.

A wall clock across the room began to chime the hour, and Hannah closed her eyes and stilled her thoughts to listen: Four o'clock. It was four o'clock, Friday afternoon, December 15th. The "Christmas spirit" with its commercialism was in full swing-and she, Hannah Freedman, had everything in life a woman ever dreamed of: a large and beautiful home, a flaming love life, and emotional security. In only forty minutes her lover would be home from a day's work at his veterinary clinic, ready for their usual early and intimate dinner together. And in only fourteen days, according to the doctor's calculations, she and Cody would cuddle their first child.

She lifted the photograph and contentedly stared through tears at Cody's picture. For the first time in her eighteen years, she knew what it was to live and to love.

She slowly reached over her head and carefully returned the photograph to its place. She contemplated getting up from the couch. But due to an early morning burst of energy she had already put in a full day of cleaning house and baking Christmas cookies, and the work had left her exhausted. Her small frame, now carrying an extra twenty-six pounds, simply refused to rise.


AT 4:40, CODY came in the back door. He slipped quickly through the kitchen, moving his six-foot-three, 170-pound athletic body with the fluidity of a cat, and began singing: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to live with a blue-eyed Georgia girl, hey!"

On the living room couch Hannah awoke from her light sleep, and broke into a smile as Cody continued singing heartily off-key: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to love my blue-eyed Georgia girl!"

When Cody poked his head around the corner, Hannah was applauding. "Coe," she said, extending tired but inviting arms, "you can love this blue-eyed Georgia girl anytime you want to."

Like a moth to a flame, Cody was drawn into her arms. Kneeling on the plush gray carpet beside her, he kissed her full, moist lips as if he had been starving for her for weeks. When he finally withdrew, he looked into her eyes and said with intensity, "Hannah, you're so beautiful-even when you're tired"

So often before he had told her she was beautiful-and had never stopped, even after her pregnancy began showing. Spreading her arms playfully like wings, Hannah nodded toward her body. "You like it, huh?"

Cody smiled his reply, then ran his fingers slowly through her long, thick auburn hair. "Hannah," he moaned in earnest, "I'm missing you, bad."

"How much?" she asked with delight.

"You really want to know?"

"Yeah."

Cody grinned. "Well, I'll tell you. I accidentally gave overdoses of antibiotics to four different dogs today and killed them all," he joked, "simply because I couldn't get my mind off you. All I've done today is dream about being with you."

Feeling aroused, Hannah slowly pulled him into another fiery kiss.

It took every ounce of self-control Cody could muster to keep from going further. When Hannah finally released him, he fell reluctantly to the floor and stretched out on his back. "Just you wait," he said with gusto, "till we're able to be together again. I'm going to make it unforgettable."

Hannah laughed seductively. "Are you sure you can hold out until then?"

With surprise, she watched Cody's mood turn sober. He rose to kneel beside her again, and took her hands in his. "Hannah, if I had to, I'd be willing to wait the rest of my life for you."

There was no doubt in Hannah's mind that he meant every word. She felt his sincerity as certainly as if it were rain pouring down on her. Instinctively she pulled him into another tight embrace.

“Cody,” she confided in his ear, “this will be the best Christmas I've ever had. And the reason is you…”


AFTER DINNER Cody raved as Hannah placed the tray of Christmas cookies on the dining room table beside him. "Better looking than Mother's used to be," he said. Taking a bite, he nodded, "And every bit as good!"

An LP of instrumental Christmas music was playing softly in the background. Hannah sat down to hear Cody finish telling her about his day: setting a German shepherd's broken leg, diagnosing an old tomcat that was refusing to eat, bobtailing a four-day old boxer, and giving an array of shots.

"And Mrs. Gravitt brought in her Dalmatian again," he said, then paused.

"And?" Hannah asked.

"And it should be the last time!" he smiled with satisfaction. "He's fully recovered, and Mrs. Gravitt is as happy as any client I've ever had."

"She should be," Hannah reassured him. "That dog was nearly dead two months ago when she first brought him to you. It was a miracle anyone could save him. But what can I say? You're the best!"

"Well, maybe not the best… But..."Cody tucked his thumbs beneath imaginary suspenders, in a mocking pose of greatness. They both erupted into laughter.

"Say," he said after finishing another cookie, "I called Reed's Travel Agency this morning. They promised they could reserve the cabin-"

Before he could complete the sentence, he saw Hannah suddenly gasp for breath, tense in her chair, then let out a low groan. Cody was immediately face to face with her, gripping her shoulders. "Are you all right?" he demanded.

She finally began breathing, then looked him in the eye and gave the most surprisingly beautiful smile he had ever seen. "I think so... I... uh... yeah, I'm okay," she answered. "My water just broke." She could feel the warm fluid puddling around her buttocks and running down her leg. For a moment she was embarrassed, but the feeling was quickly overcome by an acute surge of pain.

Still trying to figure out what to do, Cody saw Hannah tense again. He gripped her hand in silence, stunned by the piercing hurt locked on her face.

Several seconds later, Hannah relaxed and took a deep breath. "I'm not positive," she said, "but if that was my first contraction, we may be mommy and daddy two weeks earlier than we thought."

Elated, Cody held her in a big hug and said, "Can you believe it?" He started dancing around the table. "We're going to be a family!" he shouted, as Hannah laughed.


THEIR CELEBRATION was soon tempered by the quickly recurring pains, and the rush to leave for the hospital. Within twenty-five minutes from the time Hannah's water had broken, she was seated beside Cody in their Ford station wagon. He was timing her contractions, which now came at less than three-minute intervals. The quickly paced labor pains, coming so soon, made Cody nervous. He tried to relax, but it was all so new. And this was his wife, his baby.

This is happening too fast, he thought, calculating that the trip to the hospital would normally take twenty-five to thirty minutes. This time, he decided, it would have to be less than twenty. No stranger to speeding, he was confident he could meet the challenge.

He glanced at his wristwatch-5:51-just as they were leaving their residential area and approaching the nearest main road. One look ahead quickly confirmed a rising worry: It was rush hour. Traffic on the main road was packed, moving at only a fraction of the normal speed.

For the first time, Cody felt panic. To hide it, he forced a grin and said to Hannah, “I love adventure, but this is a little too much of the good stuff.”

She smiled briefly, before yielding to the start of yet another contraction.

Soon the eruptions of pain were less than two minutes apart. Hannah bravely fought back. Everything's under control, she kept telling herself. Be strong, be strong. Impossible as it seemed, each contraction hurt worse than the last, worse than anything she had ever felt in her life.

"Just hang in there, babe," Cody said. "I'll get you there."

The line of cars crept forward to an intersection which he realized was approximately their halfway point to the hospital. The flow of traffic halted again as he saw the same set of stoplights change to red for the second time. With mounting fear he looked at his watch: 6:16.

Suddenly, Hannah leaned forward, grabbed the dashboard with both hands, and screamed. Cody reached out and touched her shoulder. He was now almost beside himself with panic. "Are you going to make it?"

When her pain had passed its peak, she found her breath and shot back, "I don't know... Just hurry!"

He knew then what he had to do. And on impulse, as if the adrenaline surging through him had switched on a machine, he did it.

Trying to take charge of this desperate situation, he lurched the station wagon out of their traffic lane. Sounding his horn and flashing his headlights, he charged through the intersection and down the avenue, straddling the middle line.

Hannah did little more than flinch. The thought of how crazy it all seemed flashed in and out of her mind.

"I'll get you there," she heard Cody say again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shadow Government

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:


Shadow Government

WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Grant R. Jeffrey is the internationally known prophecy researcher, Mideast expert, and author of Countdown to the Apocalypse, The New Temple and the Second Coming, The Next World War, and twenty other best-selling books. He is also the editor of the Prophecy Study Bible. His popular television program, Bible Prophecy Revealed, airs weekly on TBN. Jeffrey earned his master’s and PhD degrees from Louisiana Baptist University. He and his wife, Kaye, live in Toronto.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074428
ISBN-13: 978-1400074426

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Part 1

TECHNOLOGY

THAT DESTROYS

YOUR PRIVACY


Chapter 1

YOU HAVE NO MORE PRIVACY

In the War Against Privacy, You Are the Target

An undeclared but very real war is being waged on your privacy and freedom. Your movements, personal communications, preferences, loyalties, habits—all these things are no longer private. And in spite of the fact that our privacy and liberty are under attack on multiple fronts, the average citizen in the Western world seems blissfully unaware of the threat.

We assume that our privacy, “the right to be left alone,” is secure. We couldn’t be more wrong. High-tech surveillance methods used by governments responding to the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking, tax evasion, and organized crime are stealing one of your most basic human rights—the right to privacy, the right to be left alone.


THE ALL-SEEING EYES


An interesting metaphor for the invasive surveillance society is found in a fascinating proposal for eighteenth-century prison reform. In 1785 philosopher and legal reformer Jeremy Bentham advocated that the English government build a state-of-the-art prison to more efficiently observe and guard dangerous prisoners with twenty-four-hour surveillance. Bentham’s proposed Panopticon prison called for the use of optical instruments and mirrors to allow a very small team of guards stationed in a central tower to observe hundreds of prisoners. Bentham’s system was designed in such a way that prisoners would never know when they were under active surveillance.

The idea was that the fear of continuous surveillance would motivate inmates to police their own behavior. Tragically, the practical application of Bentham’s nightmare vision is becoming reality in the twenty-first century. Advanced surveillance technologies available to government, corporations, and even your neighbors have created a twenty-four-hour, 365-day, total-surveillance society—the same system that would have violated the privacy of British prison inmates in 1785.

The current British home secretary, Jacqui Smith, exercises political control over all UK counterintelligence operations. This includes Scotland Yard’s

Counter Terrorism Command, the Security Service (MI5), and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British government’s global eavesdropping operation. Smith is working to establish an enormous computer database that would collect for analysis every telephone call, all Internet searches, and all e-mails being transmitted within or outside of the United Kingdom.1


Your Life on Camera

Smith’s plans are but one manifestation of the all-seeing, all-hearing surveillance. The installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places makes our daily activities, including our private interactions, a matter for close examination by unseen observers. My wife, Kaye, and I conducted a research trip in the United Kingdom in 2008. Although I had previously documented the massive adoption of CCTV by local councils and national authorities in the UK, I was stunned to see the extraordinary expansion of that type of surveillance. By the end of 2008, millions of CCTV cameras were monitoring the activities of every citizen and visitor in the country. The United Kingdom, the mother of Western political freedom and democracy, is now the most obsessively watched society in the West.

Surveillance cameras followed us during every step of our passage through UK customs and British immigration at Heathrow Airport. And it didn’t stop there. We were on camera as we acquired a car at the rental car agency office and as we proceeded out of the airport parking garage. As we entered the main highway, we noticed traffic-control cameras monitoring virtually every mile and covering every road, even in small towns. More than two thousand car-recognition cameras capture photos of cars, license plates, and drivers along with their passengers. Cameras recorded us as we purchased gas and food. Recent estimates by British authorities suggest that citizens and tourists alike will be captured on camera an average of five hundred times every day. Even London’s city buses are outfitted with an astonishing sixty thousand cameras, in addition to the ten thousand CCTV cameras on subway cars and trains.

But despite the almost universal presence of CCTV, even in back alleys, law enforcement authorities report that the cameras have not suppressed violent crime as much as they have displaced it. Surveillance cameras motivate criminals to move their activities a few blocks away—to a location with less-active CCTV surveillance.

A few years ago a million CCTV systems were operating in the United Kingdom. However, a 2008 article in the Guardian stated that an astounding 4.2 million CCTV cameras were being used in the surveillance of UK citizens and tourists.2


Cameras That Hear

It now goes far beyond simple cameras mounted on utility poles. Scientists have developed “listening” cameras that, paired with artificial intelligence software, recognize particular sounds such as gunshots, car crashes, and breaking glass. In response to certain sounds, the camera rotates and captures what could be a criminal or terrorist act. Despite the enormous financial cost and the invasiveness of the CCTV system, a report by the UK Home Office concluded that better street lighting is seven times more effective in preventing crime.

If watching you and listening to what you are saying is not enough, some new versions of CCTV technology enable police supervisors to confront you verbally through a speaker system. Law enforcement personnel can issue an immediate warning if they feel you are engaging in illegal behavior. And just in case all of this has not been disturbing enough for you, some UK municipalities are broadcasting local CCTV coverage on television. They ask citizens to tune in and watch so they can inform on the activities of their neighbors. Welcome to the world of block informers, a system you thought was limited to the horrors committed by the Nazis, the Soviets, and Communist China.

CCTV surveillance doesn’t end with cameras posted in public places. Miniature security cameras designed to promote safety and control crime on private property are now used for vastly expanded purposes. Companies use CCTV for the continual surveillance of employees during work-hours. They are observed at their desks, in washrooms, and throughout the office area. Employers justify the spying operations against employees, vendors, clients, customers, and visitors as a way to combat theft and industrial espionage. No matter what reasons are used to justify the surveillance, you are losing your privacy in just about every setting imaginable.

We live in a total surveillance environment that closely resembles the horror described by George Orwell in his famous novel 1984. Orwell described a future global regime composed of three totalitarian governments. In comparison to his horrific vision, computer technologies developed in the last few decades have created a daily environment far more threatening than any faced by the character Winston in 1984.


THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU


The loss of privacy goes far beyond having your public activities monitored on camera. Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, declared some time ago that “privacy is dead, deal with it.”3

There are legal means that individuals and businesses can use to acquire and store information about you, obtained from your use of the Internet and even from such ordinary activities as shopping for groceries, buying a movie ticket, or ordering items online. You might think that you don’t provide information to governments, law enforcement agencies, and marketers. However, you are dispensing vast amounts of personal information every time you use a check, credit card, or debit card. Every time you make a purchase using these forms of payment, you supply information on your bank account, financial history, buying habits, and product preferences.

It seems that no information about you is insignificant. Your Internet searches, your online shopping, the e-mails you send, and the Web sites you access—all of these are of interest to someone. The subjects that attract you, the causes you support, your brand preferences, the topics you research on the Web, your reading habits online—all of these are important to Web site operators. Everything you do on the Internet, including visiting Web sites and chat rooms, sending and receiving e-mail, researching health issues and medical questions, and shopping is permanently recorded in a computer database. Google, the most popular Internet search engine, has admitted that it gathers and stores information on every one of the more than 330 million Internet searches completed every day.

What’s more, every e-mail you’ve ever sent or received and all the online searches you have completed are available to police and intelligence agencies. Who is so careful in what they say in private e-mails that they would never include a statement that might someday be considered suspicious to certain government authorities? And who considers the potential damage to their future career plans or credit rating that could result from research they have done using the Internet? For example, an innocent medical search to gain information about a disease such as Alzheimer’s, even if you are doing the research for a relative or friend, could be accessed by an investigator during a background check when you apply for a job. Even the possibility of a link between a prospective employee and a devastating disease could be sufficient cause to reject your employment application.4


Your Entire History on Exhibit

Attacks on privacy are not new. Beginning in 1917, after destroying the first elected government of Russia, the new communist dictatorship of Lenin began a process of secret police surveillance of its entire society. Even in the democratic nations of the West, government intelligence and police agencies created a surveillance system to monitor citizens’ activities. Prior to this war on privacy, only the few individuals suspected of criminal activity, sabotage, or sedition were considered worthy of police surveillance. But now, with rapid advances in sophisticated surveillance devices and computer technologies, most national governments have developed an intense interest in every citizen. Governments gather enormous amounts of previously private information on the assets, activities, communications, financial transactions, health, and political and religious activities of virtually every person on earth—and with relative ease.

Many military intelligence agencies, government agencies, and large corporations have introduced sophisticated security systems requiring employees to wear a badge containing a radio frequency identification microchip. This RFID chip enables companies, agencies, and organizations to monitor the location and activity of every worker during every moment he or she is on the premises. When an employee enters the office, a computer records the exact time and begins monitoring his or her every move throughout the day. Security sensors at strategic locations throughout the office complex record the location and duration of the activities of the badge wearer.

Many office phone systems monitor all private phone calls made by employees while at work. Computerized phone systems maintain a permanent record of all known phone numbers of clients, customers, and vendors. If an employee places a personal call, the phone system records the unauthorized number and produces a report of the employee’s private calls, along with the duration of such calls. This data can be used against the employee at the next performance evaluation.5

It’s interesting that U.S. corporations are using secret employee surveillance more than businesses in any other nation. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned, “Criminals have more privacy rights than employees. Police have to get a court order [to eavesdrop on suspected criminals], whereas in the workplace, surveillance can be conducted without safeguards.”6 Computer network security supervisors in many companies go as far as to monitor the keystrokes and productivity of all employees who use a computer in their work. Employees often complain about the stress they experience knowing they are being monitored constantly throughout the day. In many companies, computer spy ware monitors an employee’s Internet activities. Add to this the growing use of random drug testing, secret cameras in washrooms, and intrusive psychological questionnaires. The bottom line is that companies are creating an adversarial and unhealthy psychological environment for workers.

You should be appalled to know that your local and state police, federal intelligence agencies, government officials, employers, and even curious neighbors and business competitors can acquire virtually all of your private information. A record of your travel destinations, the newspapers and books you read, your video rentals, your pay-TV choices, your traffic tickets, your medical tests, as well as your private purchases are recorded in computer files. Anyone with enough computer knowledge can access your information, legally or not.

There is a growing public awareness and concern about the numerous attacks on our privacy through the misuse of computer records. However, the United States Congress and Canada’s Parliament have failed to enact serious laws to protect the privacy of citizens’ medical, criminal, and financial records.


Your Secret Life Now on Camera

Security companies that work under contract for large corporations have found ways to make use of advances in surveillance devices. Virtually invisible pinhole cameras can be placed behind a wall to monitor everything that goes on in an adjacent room, both visually and audibly. The tiny lens, which is the size of a pinhead, is unnoticeable. Infrared cameras can record images silently and in near-total darkness. Another type of surveillance camera can be concealed in a mobile telephone, recording events through the tiny hole normally used for the microphone. This tool often is used for industrial espionage, stealing trade secrets from a competitor. It is also useful in gaining the upper hand in business negotiations. For example, during a face-to-face meeting in a protracted negotiation, the user of the cell phone can leave the phone in the boardroom when he exits to take a break. As the other team discusses their strategy, supposedly in private, the cell phone is recording the conversation.

Surveillance devices are also being used much more widely by individuals. For several hundred dollars, you can obtain a device that enables you to monitor every conversation that takes place in your home or office while you are away. A remote monitoring device known as the XPS-1000 allows you to listen to conversations in your office or home by using the telephone. From a remote location, you dial your phone number using a secret activation code. The phone will not ring, but from that moment on, you can monitor every sound in the room where the phone is located. Another tiny device, a micro transmitter powered for three months by a miniature battery, can be left in any room and will broadcast for a distance of up to one thousand yards to a hidden radio receiver–tape recorder.

While fascinating, the miniaturization of cameras, microphones, and recording devices has stolen what was left of our privacy. If a person is determined to monitor your activities, you can’t prevent it. You can try to guard your privacy by using a software program or device designed to protect your communications. But in doing so, you will have inadvertently alerted intelligence agencies and private investigators that you have something worth keeping private. This may cause them to increase the level of surveillance in an attempt to discover why you want to avoid it.


Abuse of Legitimate Data

All U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), can access data from the National Identification Center to identify and monitor every registered gun owner in the United States. However, we have to ask this question: what else will government agencies pursue using legitimate and legally acquired data?

Two of America’s most secretive agencies, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Security Agency (NSA), maintain a massive global surveillance system known as Project Echelon. This system can monitor every telephone call, fax, Internet search, and e-mail transmission worldwide. (We will look more closely at the remarkable capabilities of this massive surveillance system in chapter 5.) We need to face the sobering truth that we can’t escape the growing surveillance capabilities of all governments, both East and West. These developments turn our attention to the last-days prophecy from the book of Revelation about a coming totalitarian police system. John warned that a person’s every activity will be controlled: “That no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”

(Revelation 13:17). Remarkably, John was describing a universal population control system that would impose some kind of numerical identification on every person in order to monitor his or her financial transactions, trade, business, and ability to buy and sell. This system will enable law enforcement authorities working for the Antichrist and his partner, the False Prophet (see Revelation 13:16), to control the world’s population through a unique ID, based on the number 666, on everyone’s right hand or forehead. The recent subcutaneous pet identification chips could easily be inserted in each human being.


WHO WANTS TO CONTROL YOU?


Government authorities, national security agencies, and businesses that market and sell consumer products know far more about you than most of your friends and family will ever know. People you will never meet have compiled personal information about the details of your daily life, place of residence, type of residence, spending habits, and financial assets. Government agencies justify the invasion of your privacy by reminding us of the threats posed by international terrorism, organized crime, the influx of illegal immigrants, and citizens who defraud the government as welfare cheats or tax evaders.

The NSA possesses detailed records of millions of U.S. citizens, including your communications, health status, medical treatments, employment status, vehicle ownership, driving record, criminal record, and real-estate holdings. In addition, all of your credit records, banking and financial transactions, credit rating, educational transcripts, and travel records are available to many major corporations and government research institutes.

Your life is also of great interest to foreign governments. Most of the Western democratic governments, as well as the governments of China and Russia, are thought to maintain enormous computer databases filled with details about millions of U.S. citizens. Data storage is just the first step. Next will be the most effective ways to organize, categorize, and use this private information. This hurdle will be removed when the government assigns a unique identification number to each citizen. Once that is accomplished, the staggering number of separate files on individual citizens in various databases can be combined into a single massive intelligence file. (We will talk more about this process in chapter 3.)

A confirmation of the consolidation of citizen data was publicized in the Canadian press on May 19, 2000. The Canadian government reluctantly confirmed that up to two thousand significant pieces of information had been assembled on virtually every Canadian citizen in a massive database known as the Longitudinal Labor Force File. As a result of strident public criticism following these revelations, the Canadian government promised to destroy the computer program that linked these files. However, the federal government admitted they still will retain computer data on more than thirty million Canadians— data that are retained in separate computer files held by a variety of government departments, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Immigration, and provincial police forces.7


A SECRET CHIP IN YOUR CREDIT CARDS


Your credit and debit cards are much more than a convenient way to pay for goods and services. The magnetic strip on a credit card or debit card holds electronic data verifying your identity, as well as information validating your right to access particular computer databases, such as your bank accounts. More and more, these cards are being replaced by higher-security smart cards that contain even more information about you. A smart card contains an embedded RFID chip capable of holding millions of times more digital information than is contained in a card’s magnetic strip.

Smart cards provide high levels of security, since they are capable of storing biometric information, such as the iris pattern in the eye of the authorized user. These new cards will document the user’s identity by measuring 173 distinct characteristics from the rings, burrows, and filaments within the iris. The stored data is compared with an iris scan made by a surveillance camera that can read your iris pattern from a distance of several yards.

Other identifying data include your precise hand geometry, which involves identifying you by measuring the length of your fingers and the translucence and thickness of your skin. Infrared scanners can reveal and record the patterns of veins on your palm or the back of your hand. Voice-recognition software can confirm your identity through digital measurement of your voice tone and timbre. Incredibly, a new machine can puff air over the back of your hand, analyze your subtle body odors, and detect as many as thirty separate trace chemical elements that supply a positive identification reading.8 All of this data, and more, can be stored in an RFID chip.

Soon you will be able to replace your credit and debit cards with one very secure smart card that is virtually immune to counterfeiting and attacks by hackers. The data will be encrypted, and your unique passwords—including biometric information—will be required for you to use the card. More than two and a half billion radio frequency smart cards now in use worldwide can perform these functions:

cash transactions such as rechargeable stored-value cards that carry a predetermined monetary value
confidential transferring of medical data to paramedics and hospital in the event of a medical crisis
control of entry into high-security workplaces and computer systems
access to air travel as well as to trains, subways, and buses


These are some of the benefits of the smart card.9However, the growing use of RFID cards will make it possible for government, police, and intelligence agencies to track the activities, location, communications, and financial transactions of every citizen from cradle to grave.


AN INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FOR PRIVACY


Growing concerns over privacy have motivated representatives of member nations of the European Union (EU) to create an international standard for privacy. The basic rules are as follows:

All privacy regulations apply to both government and private organizations.
Data collection should be limited to that which can be obtained legally and with the knowledge and consent of the citizen subject, except where this is impossible or inappropriate (e.g., criminals).
Data sought on individuals should be limited to the original purpose and kept up to date. The purpose of data collection should be specified, and subsequent use of data should be limited to the original purpose.
No personal data should be disclosed to others without the consent of the subject or without a court order.
All personal data must be kept secure using all reasonable precautions.
All citizens should be able to access, review, and challenge inaccurate data held in databases.
The government agency controller of the database should be legally and criminally accountable for abiding by these privacy principles.
The policies and practices of organizations holding databases on individuals should reveal the information to those who legally inquire.
Private data collected by EU member corporations and states may not be transmitted to organizations in nations that do not have privacy regulations equal to those of the European Union.10


The introduction of similar legislation in America, Canada, and other democratic nations could provide significant protection against the abuse of our privacy. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international group of twenty-nine developed nations from North America, Europe, and Asia that has suggested the creation of powerful, binding privacy standards for both governments and businesses.11

The reality is that the growing attacks on our personal security are rapidly overwhelming the proposed defenses. One potential solution is to use a smart stored-value card that would allow a person to make a payment while the card restricts the merchant from accessing the purchaser’s identity. The card would also prevent merchants and anyone receiving an electronic funds transfer from tracking previous purchases made by that customer. For example, a smart card developed by Mondex International allows customers to transfer funds from their card to a merchant’s account to make a purchase. However, when the merchant’s bank accepts the transfer of funds to cover purchases made using Mondex cards, the bank is not able to identify the actual purchasers. A similar system is used by Visa International in its Visa cash card. The disposable card does not permit merchants to identify the person who used the card.


WHAT YOU CAN DO


There are hopeful signs that, after years of indifference to the threats to our privacy and financial security, the public is awakening to the heightened dangers posed by new surveillance technologies.

When it was revealed that Intel Corporation had embedded in every Pentium III chip a secret serial number that would allow the person using the computer to be identified, customers and privacy groups launched a protest.12 Additionally, Microsoft had embedded a hidden identification number in all documents produced by any computer using Microsoft software. The protests that followed forced the company to provide a free software program that eliminated the identifying number.13 However, the vast majority of computer users of Microsoft software are unaware of the privacy problem, and most lack the expertise to fix it.

If we are to protect what little privacy we still have, we should encourage a healthy debate about the relative advantages and disadvantages of each new technological development. Citizen involvement and thoughtful protest against the governmental and corporate threats to our privacy can slow down this relentless attack. We need to defend our right to maintain a personal life that is free from outside interference and intrusion.

Still, in violation of constitutional guarantees to the contrary, our society continues to move toward an all-encompassing surveillance society, which is described in the prophecies of the book of Revelation. We will live to see the time when our right to privacy and the freedom to be left alone are nothing more than distant memories.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Glo Bible Giveaway on Woven By Words...


glo: The Bible for the Digital World


glo brings the Bible to life with HD video and documentaries, high-resolution images, historical animations, zoomable maps, 360-degree virtual tours and much more. And it’s all easy to find and natural to use with glo’s unique browsing lenses. Find what you need when you need it. That’s Glo.

How It Works


glo’s unique zoomable interface provides simple, intuitive ways to visually browse a world of biblical content through 5 main lenses. You can visually browse all the content in terms of how it relates to biblical passages, to the geography of the Holy Land, to the biblical timeline or to topics that are relevant to you. You can use these lenses to filter content. Say you want to see what Jesus had to say on the subject of redemption during the Passion Week in Jerusalem. What would be an otherwise impossible search can be done quickly, visually and intuitively with glo.

The Five Lenses

*Bible: Within 2 clicks, find a chapter faster than a paper Bible. The Bible is easy to navigate in its natural order and easy to read in a magazine format.

*Atlas: Major stories and locations of the Bible appear geographically with a zoomable, Google-maps style interface along with map overlays, tours, photos and expert video.

*Media: Browse a huge collection of HD video, virtual tours, articles, high-resolution photos, artwork, maps, historical animations. The video library includes the "In His Shoes" HD interactive documentary, that has stunning on-location footage and expert insight from Norman Geisler, Max Lucado, William P. Young, Dr. Joel Hunter and other scholars.

*Timeline: View where events happened chronologically and in context with one another through a zoomable interface.

*Topical: Relevant verses for thousands of subjects are searchable by keyword and include commentary from leading authors, scholars and other experts.


The Numbers

2,382 High Resolution Photos

7,500 Encyclopedia Articles

463 Virtual Reality Tours

3.5 Hours of HD Video

689 Works of Art

147 Maps


*********************************************************

Mimi at Woven by Words is having a giveaway that ends tonight at 10 pm. She has 5 copies of the Glo Bible to giveaway and I have to say it looks amazing! Check it out here...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"The Familiar Stranger" Book Review


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Familiar Stranger

Moody Publishers (September 1, 2009)

by

Christina Berry


MY REVIEW:
I have heard good things about this book, but I have to admit I was still a little skeptical because it looks pretty woman's fiction to me... you know, all relationships, my life isn't perfect, my husbands a jerk, blah, blah, blah. But I really wanted to give it a try because I met Christina in September at ACFW and I was so impressed with her as a person that I had to see if she could write. Okay people, it is official. This girl can write!

She blew my mind with this book. I expected it to take me awhile to read, nope, couldn't put it down and finished it in 24 hours. I figured I'd see everything coming, nope, twists and turns down to the very end. I thought I'd be bored with all the woman's issues, nope, it was actually almost more mystery then woman's fiction. I just knew that I'd add it to my pile of one time read woman's fiction books, nope, this book might make it to my keeper shelf.

If you are looking for fresh and different, pick up The Familiar Stranger and see if it doesn't blow your mind a little too!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author's life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. All that confusion must have influenced her decision to be team captain of a winning team on Family Feud.

Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, released from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently--Forgive Extravagantly!

Her work has also appeared in The Secret Place, The Oregonian, and Daily Devotions for Writers.





ABOUT THE BOOK

Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Familiar Stranger, go HERE

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Eyewitness - the life of Christ told in one story" Book Review

About the Book

Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story by Frank Ball (WinePress Publishing)

Eyewitness reaches people who seldom go to church or read their Bibles.

Of the millions of Americans who don't go to church, 56 percent consider themselves Christian. If they knew what Jesus said and did, they would know the importance of networking and reaching out to help others. While Bibles sit on coffee tables and bookshelves at home, gathering dust, people pick up Eyewitness and don't want to put it down. Not only does it use language that is easily understood, it pulls readers into the story, almost like walking with Jesus in the first century.

The Bible has sold more copies than any other book and continues to sell year after year. Continuing in its footsteps is the Eyewitness series written for the average person.

Flash back to first century AD. One man appeared who shook up the world. Four men testified to what they saw and heard. The details of Jesus life were recorded by four of his closest followers. Each account is written from a different perspective and only one of the four tells the events in chronological order. Therefore, for centuries, the accounts have been told in out-of-sequence fragments.

Eyewitness compiles the information from the Gospels and hundreds of other Bible verses into one chronological story laid out like a story without reference or verse. The result is a seamless combination of the four gospel books that will appeal to customers across the board, even those who would not normally purchase a Bible.

MY REVIEW:

"Eyewitness - the life of Christ told in one story" is a long overdue book. Frank Ball takes all the information from the Gospels (and even Old Testament like Isaiah and Genesis) and puts them into one chronological story of Jesus' life. It is so easy to read and understand and it makes so much sense! I love it as it is making the life of Christ come alive for me. What a great tool for yourself and a phenomenal gift for others. One of the best things about it is that it isn't overwhelming. It is broken down into the individual stories of Jesus' life so you can read a one page account or you can read pages and pages as you get pulled into the living, breathing story of Jesus.


About the Author

Frank Ball was the Pastor of Biblical Research and Writing at Anchor Church in Keller, Texas, for three years. After thirty years of research and teaching the life of Christ, he began a twelve-year project to analyze every gospel story about Christ and put the events into chronological order. Ball meticulously considered almost twenty resources, including the Greek and Hebrew texts, the opinions of other Bible writers, and different translations, to make sure his translation was correct. Using the gospel of John as the chronological backbone, he determined an appropriate time setting for every event.

Ball believes there is no greater role model than Jesus. The better we know him, the more we can be like him. “It’s impossible,” he says, “to love someone you don’t know. The Scripture arranged in this easy-to-understand order helps us to know Jesus. It allows us to be more of an ‘eyewitness’ to the events of Christ’s life, and in doing so, to be more like him.”

Ball has always been a great student, especially in math and the sciences, but hated English. He excelled in high school; however, because his family was impoverished, he was unable to attend college. After high school he took a menial job that supported his parents and siblings. In 1968 he married Kay and they had three sons. Kay passed away in 2005. Ball currently lives with his family in Fort Worth, Texas.

When personal computers became available, Ball embraced systems analysis and business administration. He devoured reading material on the high-tech industry and was a successful business executive until he made a commitment to full-time ministry in 2002.

In 1995, despite his dislike of English, Ball believed God was redirecting his life, and he devoted himself to writing—which has, ironically, become his passion. Knowing the challenges he faced without a secondary education, Ball became self-taught by voraciously reading books as if they were college texts. He studied as if he were preparing for tests.

Ball says that this project wasn’t his idea at all. He just had an unexplainable desire to do this chronology, and along the way he realized that God had a plan. Using his Eyewitness Stories version of the Gospels as a foundation, Ball assembled the gospel information, as well as more than two hundred other Bible verses from the Old and New Testaments, to create what he believes is the accurate order of events. Ball believes the combined stories resolve some of the discrepancies that some say exist in the Gospels.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"The Christmas Lamp" Book Review


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Christmas Lamp

Zondervan (October 1, 2009)

by

Lori Copeland


MY REVIEW:
"The Christmas Lamp" is a great Christmas novella that quickly got me interested in the little town of Nativity, Missouri and its quirky group of residents. The town is in fiscal trouble, big time. A consultant is brought in to try and turn things around and help the town survive. Only one problem. To the town of Nativity Christmas tradition is everything and to them Christmas tradition is nothing if not expensive. As consultant Jake Briscoe starts making his cuts here and there, and here and there... all he is really succeeding at is making everyone made and killing the Christmas spirit. Can Nativity, Missouri survive Jake Briscoe and Christmas to make it to another year?

I really enjoyed this Christmas novella. A fun read to put you in the Christmas spirit!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland has been writing for twenty-five years and has over three million copies of her books in print. She began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market. In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him. It was at that time that she began writing for the Christian book market.

To date, she has more than 95 books published, including Now and Always, Simple Gifts, Unwrapping Christmas, and Monday Morning Faith, which was a finalist for the 2007 Christy Awards. Lori was inducted into the Springfield Writers Hall of Fame in 2000.

Lori lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. They have three sons, two daughter-in-laws, and five wonderful grandchildren. Lori and Lance are very involved in their church, and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Christmas trees, twinkling lights, skating in the park, and holiday displays are the hallmark elements for celebrating Jesus birth for the sentimental residents of Nativity, Missouri. Will fiscal responsibility replace Christmas their traditions when times are tough? Though their priorities and methods clash, Roni Elliot and Jake Brisco want the same thing, for the town to prosper. As the two get to know each other better, each begins to gain a new perspective on what the real wealth of Nativity and the season might be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Christmas Lamp, go HERE

"Whirlwind" Book Review


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Whirlwind

Thomas Nelson (December 29, 2009)

by

Robert Liparulo


MY REVIEW:
Mr. Liparulo is killing me!!! I waited so long for Whirlwind to come out, it finally got here and I savored every page, now I have to wait until March for the next one!!! Arrrgghh! It is so worth it though.
I love this series and each book gets better and better. In a way it is similar to the tv show "24" where each episode took place in 24 hours, in 5 books we have only passed about a weeks time. Every page is high intensity and jaw dropping as I turn page after page in a frenzy to see what will happen to Xander and David next! I really don't want to spoil anything by revealing secrets... I just have to say that if you have not started on this series - you really must, I don't care what age you are!

*******A special thanks to Thomas Nelson for a review copy of this book!*************

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, released to critical acclaim. Each of his subsequent thrillers—Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers.

He is known for investing deep research and chillingly accurate predictions of near-future scenarios into his stories. In fact, his thorough, journalistic approach to research has resulted in his becoming an expert on the various topics he explores in his fiction, and he has appeared on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio.

Liparulo’s visual style of writing has caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted last year with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January, and number four, Timescape, in July. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series, Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?”

With the next two Dreamhouse books “in the can,” he is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects supernatural elements into his brand of gun-blazing storytelling. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on his acclaimed short story, which appeared in James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Which door do you go through to save the world?

David, Xander, and Toria King never know where the mysterious portals in their house will take them: past, present, or future. They have battled gladiators and the German army, dodged soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, and jumped from the sinking Titanic. They've also seen the stark future that awaits if they can't do something to change it--a destroyed city filled with mutant creatures.

And they've still got to find a way to bring Mom back and keep Taksidian from getting them out of the house. The dangers are hitting them like a whirlwind . . . but the answers are becoming apparent as well.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Whirlwind, go HERE