Friday, April 30, 2010

"Allon" Book Review

ALLON : BOOK 1
BY
SHAWN LAMB

MY REVIEW:
I love a good YA fiction and this book is one of them. I was taken away to the land of Allon where life is not as it should be. An evil king is in charge, though really a puppet king to Dagar and his henchman Latham. The good have had to go underground but now prophecy has lined up with reality and Prince Ellis has come back to take his rightful place and unite the kingdom against Dagar and the Shadow Warriors. It will involve finding the Daughter of Allon and helping her bring the Guardians out of hiding and that is just the beginning.

This book is intense from start to finish and the story is engrossing. It is geared toward slightly older YA, I'm not sure my 12 and 13 year olds would follow it really well yet, but their getting close. There are just a lot of characters to follow, 12 different areas of Allon and keeping it straight isn't easy but well worth the effort. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the upcoming books (I'm assuming there will be more since this is book 1).


Book Description:
The land of Allon was a paradise until the fall of the Guardians paved the way for the rise of the Dark Way. Evil King Marcellus now controls the land as his forefathers did, with an iron fist and the help of the evil spirit, Dagar. But an ancient prophecy speaks of a time to come when the Guardians will return and Allon will be restored--lead by its rightful heir. All the while, the exiled teenage Promised Prince, Ellis, must prove himself worthy to be king through a series of supernatural trials that test his character, wisdom, courage, and his heart.

The first in the Allon series, this magical tale of adventure, destiny, and faith will test your strength and awaken your spirit of adventure.





About the Author


Shawn Lamb has written for children's television and has won several screenwriting awards, including a Certificate of Merit from the American Screenwriters Association. She is active in various church ministries and has created her own curriculum based upon Proverbs 31. Shawn lives outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband of 25 years and their college-aged daughter.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Too Close For Home" Book Review

TOO CLOSE TO HOME

BY

LYNETTE EASON


The FBI has a secret weapon. But now the secret's out.

When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, the FBI sends in Special Agent Samantha Cash to help crack the case. Her methods are invisible, and she never quits until the case is closed.

Homicide detective Connor Wolfe has his hands full. His relationship with his headstrong daughter is in a tailspin, and the string of unsolved murders has the town demanding answers. Connor is running out of ideas--and time.

Samantha joins Connor in a race against the clock to save the next victim. And the killer starts to get personal.

Too Close to Home ratchets up the suspense with each page even as love blossoms in the face of danger. Read this one with the lights on!





MY REVIEW:
Every once in awhile a book comes along that just begs to be in a series so I have something to look forward to when the book ends, "Too Close To Home" is one of those books. From the beginning I knew Lynette Eason had created something unusual with her homicide detective, Connor Wolfe and FBI Special Agent Samantha Cash. The book opens with Conner arriving at the scene of another dead body. She is young, obviously murdered and has one very unusual feature... she
has been pregnant recently. A pattern is developing, girls disappear for a extended period of time and then show up dead, murdered differently, but recently pregnant. No babies, just signs of pregnancy. These girls are being stalked before they go missing, the police intend to find out how before more girls go missing. Samantha Cash is an expert with computers and they bring her in to figure out the connection between their internet activity and the disappearances.

Both Connor and Samantha bring plenty of drama to the table. Connor has a teenage daughter of his own who is struggling with a daddy who isn't around and her mother passed away 4 years before - they are both missing her. Samantha has a sister who suffered a tragedy that she hasn't fully recovered from and it has left Samantha feeling very responsible for her. Together they deal with their personal lives, fight the bad guys and start falling for each other. All while the bad guys are getting "Too Close For H
ome".

This book is a definite nail biter as the story races to the finish, time is ticking and Lynette doesn't waste a single word in her writing. Everything has meaning and you will literally hold your breath. I am
thrilled that we will see these characters back in a second book and it looks like Samantha's sister Jamie will take the lead... I can't wait to see how the characters advance in book #2. Congratulations on a great new series, Lynette!

Lynette Eason is the author of Too Close to Home and three other romantic suspense novels. She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.


Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Blood Ransom" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Blood Ransom
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)


by
Lisa Harris




MY REVIEW:
Lisa Harris has written a gripping story of politics and intrigue set in the volatile country of the Republic of Dhambizao. Natalie Sinclair is on a 2 year tour of mercy helping to teach the citizens about basic health knowledge like washing hands to stop the spread of germs in an effort to help stop sickness. When she meets Joseph Komboli, a 15 year old boy that serves as her translator for awhile, her destiny is changed. He finds her after he heads home for a visit and stumbles upon the Ghost Soldiers destroying his village, murdering and kidnapping his family to take them as slaves to the mines. Then follows a harrowing tale of Natalie and a fellow American, Chad, as they try to help Joseph save his family by proving that the Ghost Soldiers are real. The problem is that there are many people in high places that don't want that proof getting into the proper hands.

I could hardly put this book down, it is fast paced and absolutely thrilling. I loved it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author Lisa Harris has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since 2000 and has more than fifteen novels and novellas in print. She currently lives with her family in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.

From Lisa:

Have you ever noticed how God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things? In writing Blood Ransom, I wanted my heroes and heroines to be ordinary people, faced with extraordinary circumstances. Chad and Natalie’s lives were changed not only through the challenges they faced, but also through their reliance on God. And when they set off on their journey to the capital to save Joseph’s family, they never imagined that God would call them to a task that was beyond the scope of their own power.

But while this story is fictional, the issue of a modern day slave trade is very real. It is estimated that there are currently more than 27 million slaves on the world today from Africa, to Eastern Europe … to the United States of America. The fact is, we don’t have to travel around the world to see people hurting and exploited. They’re real people we pass every day, living in our neighborhoods, and attending our churches and schools. They’re empty and broken, searching for freedom and hope in an often hopeless world.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Natalie Sinclair is working to eradicate the diseases decimating whole villages in the Republic of Dhambizao when she meets Dr. Chad Talcott, a surgeon on sabbatical from a lucrative medical practice now volunteering at a small clinic.

Meanwhile, things are unraveling in Dhambizao. Joseph Komboli returns to his village to discover rebel soldiers abducting his family and friends. Those that were too old or weak to work lay motionless in the African soil. When Chad and Natalie decide to help Joseph expose this modern-day slave trade---and a high-ranking political figure involved in it---disaster nips at their heels.

Where is God in the chaos? Will Chad, Natalie, and Joseph win their race against time?

Romance and adventure drive Blood Ransom, by Lisa Harris, a powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Blood Ransom, go HERE.

"Love Will Keep Us Together" 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 authors are:


and the book:


Miracle Girls #4: Love Will Keep Us Together: A Miracle Girls Novel

FaithWords (April 30, 2010)

***Special thanks to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
I love this series. This is book #4 and the end of the series, I am sorry to see it go. We have followed 4 very different girls through their 4 years of high school. This book is their senior year through Riley's eyes. There is no doubt that along with a senior year comes many decisions and choices that have to be made. Riley learns that first hand and is trying to figure out how to make everybody happy when she doesn't know what it is that will make her happy. In the process she manages to make no one happy including herself.
What college will each girl go to? Will they manage to all make it into the same college and stay together? Who might mess up the plan? Except for the fact that Riley is kind of whiny about not knowing what she wants I really liked this book. I love that this is a series that is perfect for my daughter to read, I am thankful for books like this.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Anne Dayton graduated from Princeton and has her MA in Literature from New York University. She lives in New York City. May Vanderbilt graduated from Baylor University and has an MA in Fiction from Johns Hopkins. She lives in San Francisco. Together, they are the authors of the Miracle Girls books, Emily Ever After, Consider Lily, and The Book of Jane.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (April 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446407585
ISBN-13: 978-0446407588

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The whole world has gone maroon. The bricks are maroon, the dress code is maroon, and even our peppy tour guide’s hair is dyed a deep maroon. -

“Hi, I’m Kiki, and I’m a real student here.” She grins from ear to ear as she walks backward across the giant lawn. “Welcome to the home of the Harvard Crimson.”

Pardon me. The whole world has gone crimson . The parents and prospective students around me press forward, following after our tour guide, but I slowly edge toward the back, hoping the rest of my family doesn’t notice.

The Great McGee Family College Tour is finally winding down, and not a moment too soon. We started off last week at Duke, then drove up to see Johns Hopkins, Penn, Princeton, Columbia, and Yale. This morning we got up early to do MIT, and if I can survive a little longer, we’ll check Harvard off the list and only have Cornell to go. Dad and I talked Mom out of Dartmouth. Way too much snow.

I thought it would be fun to tour colleges, but I didn’t realize everybody was going to ask me the same question again and again: “What do you want to do with your life, Riley?” Or sometimes they stick to, “What’s your passion, Riley?” And I haven’t figured out how to answer them. Somehow, “I have no earthly idea” doesn’t seem to be what they’re looking for.

“We are now entering the famous Harvard Yard.” The group falls silent, almost reverent, and Kiki stops on the other side of the crimson-bricked archway and waits while we file through. As she recaps the history of the university, which involves a bunch of dead white guys—just like every other school, Mom spies me slouching low at the back of the crowd.

“Isn’t this beautiful?” She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. “I could really see you being happy here, Riley.” I nod because it’s easier than trying to explain. “Did you know the Latin word veritas on the seal”—she holds out a brochure for me—“means truth?” She flips the brochure open and starts paging through photos of students sitting under autumn trees.

I put my pointer finger over my lips, then point at Kiki. Mom nods and jogs back to my brother, Michael, who has Asperger’s syndrome, or high-functioning autism. Mom and Dad have done a ton of work to help him with his social skills, but he’s still prone to legendary meltdowns. After the scene he caused at MIT this morning, she’s been watching him like a hawk.

“This really seems like a good one.” Dad comes up behind me in a sneak attack. I glance across the group and see Michael pulling on Mom’s hand, trying to get over to a statue of a seated man. “These kids seem like your kind of people.”

Dad and I look around the yard at the students hauling mattresses and carrying plastic crates stuffed with junk. A group lounges on the steps of one of the historic buildings, drinking from eco-friendly metal thermoses.

I shrug and pull my short hair into a pathetic ponytail. Not my best look, but it’s sweltering today.

“Do you like it better than Princeton?”

I try to avoid his stare, but he follows my eyes until I give in and focus on him. In the weak afternoon sunlight, I notice that the gray patches at his temples are spreading through his warm brown hair, like two silver streaks down his head.

“I don’t know. Princeton was fine.” Princeton is Ana’s thing, her dream. All I could think about the entire time I was there was, How did she choose this school? How did she know it was for her? Is there a feeling you get? Is it like how I knew about Tom?

Kiki climbs a few steps up to an old brick building and claps excitedly. “Massachusetts Hall is special for two reasons.” She beams at our group and holds up one finger. “First, it’s the oldest building on campus, dating back to 1720.” Everyone in our group oohs, and Mom whispers something to another mother. “And”—Kiki makes eye contact with the prospective students in her pack—“it’s a freshman dorm! Let’s go take a look, shall we?”

We walk in a tight-knit pack up the stairs and down the third-floor hallway. Loud music pours from the rooms, the beats clashing. Finally we stop at a dorm room with two neatly made beds and two tidy desks with crimson folders emblazoned with the Harvard seal. I realize there’s nothing real about this room or this choreographed moment, like almost every moment of every college tour we’ve taken. How am I supposed to get a feel for the campus with these phony experiences?

As Kiki begins explaining dorm security, I slip out of the room and try to collect my thoughts. This is merely a minor case of butterflies, nothing more. I’m sure everybody gets them when touring colleges. I’ll call Ana, and she’ll talk me through this.

I rummage through my purse, searching under all the brochures and school spirit junk until my fingers find my phone’s smooth edges.

Wait, I can’t call Ana. She loved every second of her college tour. When she came back from the East Coast a few weeks ago, she couldn’t stop talking about Princeton’s amazing science labs. Plus, she already knows beyond a shadow of a doubt she wants to be a neonatal surgeon. She had open-heart surgery as a baby and has always felt called to follow the path of the doctors who saved her life.

Zoe would totally get it. I scroll through my contacts, all the way down to Z .

But maybe it isn’t fair to call Zo. Her parents are doing a little better, but money is still tight. She didn’t get to go on a college tour this summer, and I’m not really sure there’s any money put aside for her education. I’d be a jerk to call and complain.

I scroll back up to Christine. She’s headed to New York next year to become a painter. All she’s ever wanted is to get out of Half Moon Bay. We’ve always understood each other in that way.

But as I’m pressing the button for her name, I remember that today is Tyler’s birthday and she was going to surprise him with a scavenger hunt through town.

That leaves one person. I find his name and quickly punch the button. “Pick up, pick up,” I chant quietly. A voice in my head reminds me I shouldn’t be calling my ex-boyfriend, the only guy I ever loved, the one who went off to college and left me behind, but I try to quiet it. All these months I’ve been strong and not e-mailed him, not called him, but I don’t have anyone else right now.

“Hey there.” Tom’s deep voice is a little scratchy, like he just woke up, and it sends a shiver down my spine. The guys at Marina Vista still sound like chipmunks. “How… What’s up?” he asks.

Technically the breakup a few months ago was mutual—technically. I want to talk to him, but it’s just as friends. He’s already gone through the whole college application process, so he’ll help me get my head on straight.

“I hate Harvard.” A woman glares at me as she passes down the hall. I lower my voice. “Well, I don’t hate Harvard—that’s not it. My parents love it, and the teachers all love it. Actually, everybody loves it except me.”

“What are you talking about?” He yawns loudly.

“I’m on my college tour, standing in the hallowed halls of Harvard right now. Well, a dorm hallway anyway.” Two girls pass me, talking loudly. “They want me to go here, but it doesn’t feel right.”

“So don’t apply. You’re not like everybody else.”

I bite my lip. It’s such a Tom thing to say and exactly what I need to hear. After months of not talking, he still knows how to make me feel better. Tom always put the Miracle Girls on edge, but they never got to see this side of him, the big heart hidden inside his chiseled chest.

The noisy tour group pours out of the dorm room, and Kiki ushers them toward the exit at the end of the hall, pointing at some posters on the wall. Mom spots me on the phone and motions for me to rejoin the group.

“It’s funny that you called,” Tom says. “I actually wanted to tell you something.”

The tour group files into the stairwell. Dad lingers for a moment, frowning, and then goes with them.

“I’m transferring to UCSF and moving back to San Francisco.”

“What?” I press my finger to my ear, trying to block out the noise in the hall. That can’t be right. I’ve just gotten used to him being in Santa Barbara, which isn’t that far, but far enough for him to feel really and truly gone from my life.

“Santa Barbara wasn’t working out, and now I can live at home and save some cash.”

My heart begins to pound.

“I miss my old friends, you know—crazy blond girls who call me out of the blue and stuff. I miss… talking.”

My pulse drums loudly in my ears.

Mom peeks her head back in the door and widens her eyes at me. “You’re missing everything!”

“I—” I wave at Mom. “I’ve got to run, but I’ll call you later.” I snap the phone shut before he can respond and chuck it back into my purse. He’s coming back? I lean my head against the wall to keep it from spinning.

“Riley!” Mom plants her hands on her hips.

“Coming.” I jog over to her lingering in the stairwell. I file in at the back of the group and wind down the few flights of stairs with Mom hot on my heels. I can’t think about Tom now. I’ll deal with that later, once I’m back home and I’ve had time to wrap my mind around the fact that he isn’t gone, that his voice almost sounded like it used to before we drifted apart.

We re-enter the Harvard Yard, the sun stinging my eyes, and Kiki yammers on and on about the different types of architecture, pointing out stuff like Doric columns and neoclassical facades.

It’s not that Harvard isn’t beautiful. The campus is historic and hallowed and dripping in ivy, and there’s no question that it’s one of the best colleges in the country. If I went here, I’d get a great education, have opportunities I’d never get anywhere else, and meet all kinds of new, fascinating friends….

My mind flashes to Half Moon Bay, the faces of the Miracle Girls.

I can’t believe that in a year this is going to be my life. This could be my freshman dorm, but looking out over this crowded lawn, I can’t picture it. I try to imagine myself lounging in the courtyard, heading to fascinating lectures, eating in the dining hall, but my brain refuses. The only life I can imagine is at Marina Vista, hanging out with the girls, being close when Michael needs me.

Mom grins at me as Kiki explains how the meal plans work.

They think I want to go to Harvard, but I don’t. They think I’m excited about this, but I’m scared out of my mind. They think they know the real Riley McGee, but even I haven’t met her. They think I have it all figured out, but I’m totally lost.

So much for veritas .

Copyright © 2010 by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel" 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:


A Corpse at St. Andrew’s Chapel

Monarch Books (February 19, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cat Hoort - Trade Marketing Manager - Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
What an interesting book. First off, it is set in the 1300's so the entire language, settings, dialogues and objects in the book are a new and different experience. One night I just read through the glossary with my husband because he is a history buff and wanted to see what he knew. We had fun with it. It was a good starting point for me and made reading the book much easier to read.
Once I was in the flow of the book I really enjoyed the storyline. Murders are happening and it is up to Hugh to solve them and figure out what is going on. He is a surgeon but also in charge of keeping the peace at Lord Gilbert's manor. This brings much more excitement into his life than he was anticipating when Alan the Beadle ends up dead... murdered by a wolf. Then another man ends up shot in the back with an arrow. Bodies are piling up, animals are being poached, and a girl just might be on the horizon... Hugh has his hands full, can he handle it?

This book is a nice change of pace for a mystery, took me to a different time and place, kind of fun!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Melvin R. Starr has spent many years teaching history, and has studied medieval surgery and medieval English. He lives in Michigan.



Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (February 19, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1854249541
ISBN-13: 978-1854249548

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I awoke at dawn the ninth day of April, 1365. Unlike French Malmsey, the day did not improve with age.

There have been many days I awoke at dawn but remembered not the circumstances three weeks hence. I remember this day not because of when I awoke, but why, and what I was compelled to do after. Odd, is it not, how one extraordinary event will burn even the mundane surrounding it into a man’s memory.

I have seen other memorable days in my twenty-five years. I recall the day my brother Henry died of plague. I was a child, but I remember well Father Aymer administering extreme unction. Father Aymer wore a spice bag about his neck to protect him from the malady. It did not, and he also succumbed within a fortnight. I can see the pouch yet, in my mind’s eye, swinging from the priest’s neck on a hempen cord as he bent over my stricken brother.

I remember clearly the day in 1361 when William of Garstang died. William and I and two others shared a room on St. Michael’s Street, Oxford, while we studied at Baliol College. I comforted William as the returning plague covered his body with erupting buboes. For my small service he gave me, with his last breaths, his three books. One of these volumes was, Surgery, by Henry de Mondeville. How William came by this clumes I know not. But I see now in this gift the hand of God, for I read de Mondeville’s work and changed my vocation.

Was it then God’s will that William die a miserable death so that I might find God’s vision for my life? This I cannot accept, for I saw William’s body covered with oozing pustules. I will not believe such a death is God’s choice for any man. Here I must admit a disagreement with Master Wyclif, who believes that all is foreordained. But out of evil God may draw good, as I believe He did when he introduced me to the practice of surgery. Perhaps the good I have done with my skills balances the torment William suffered in his death. But not for William.

I remember well the day I met Lord Gilbert Talbot. I stitched him up after his leg was opened by a kick from a groom’s horse on Oxford High Street. This needlework opened my life to service to Lord Gilbert and the townsmen of Bampton, and brought me also the post of bailiff on Lord Gilbert’s manor at Bampton.

Other days return to my mind with less pleasure. I will not soon forget Christmas Day, 1363, and the feast that day at Lord Gilbert’s Goodrich Castle hall. I had traveled there from Bampton to attend Lord Gilbert’s sister, the Lady Joan. The fair Joan had broken a wrist in a fall from a horse. I was summoned to set the break. It was foolish of me to think I might win this lady, but love has hoped more foolishness than that. A few days before Christmas a guest, Sir Thomas de Burgh, arrived at Goodrich. Lord Gilbert invited him knowing well he might be a thief. Indeed, he stole Lady Joan’s heart. Between the second and third removes of the Christmas feast he stood and for all in the hall to see offered Lady Joan a clove-studded pear. She took the fruit and with a smile delicately drew a clove from the pear with her teeth. They married in September, a few days before Michealmas, last year.

But I digress.


I awoke at dawn to thumping on my chamber door. I blinked sleep from my eyes, crawled from my bed, and stumbled to the door. I opened it as William the porter was about to rap on it again.

“It’s Alan . . . . the beadle. He’s found.”

Alan had left his home to seek those who would violate curfew two days earlier. He never returned. His young wife came to me in alarm the morning of the next day. I sent John Holcutt, the reeve, to gather a party of searchers, but they found no trace of the man. John was not pleased to lose a day of work from six men. Plowing of fallow fields was not yet finished. Before I retired Wednesday evening John sought me out and begged not to resume the search next day. I agreed. If Alan could not be found with the entire town aware of his absence another day of poking into haymows and barns seemed likely also to be fruitless. It was not necessary.

“Has he come home?” I asked..

“Nay. An’ not likely to, but on a hurdle.”

“He’s dead?”

“Aye.”

“Where was he found?”

“Aside t’way near to St. Andrew’s Chapel.”

It was no wonder the searchers had not found him. St. Andrew’s Chapel was near half a mile to the east. What, I wondered, drew him away from the town on his duties?

“Hubert Shillside has been told. He would have you accompany him to the place.”

“Send word I will see him straightaway.”

I suppose I was suspicious already that this death was not natural. I believe it to be a character flaw if a man be too mistrustful. But there are occasions in my professions – surgery and bailiff – when it is good to doubt a first impression. Alan was not yet thirty years old. He had a half-yardland of Lord Gilbert Talbot and was so well thought of that despite his youth Lord Gilbert’s tenants had at hallmote chosen him beadle these three years. He worked diligently, and bragged all winter that his four acres of oats had brought him nearly five bushels for every bushel of seed. A remarkable accomplishment, for his land was no better than any other surrounding Bampton. This success brought also some envy, I think, and perhaps there were wives who contrasted his achievement to the work of their husbands. But this, I thought, was no reason to kill a man.

I suppose a man may have enemies which even his friends know not of. I did consider Alan a friend, as did most others of the town. On my walk from Bampton Castle to Hubert Shillside’s shop and house on Church View Street I persuaded myself that this must be a natural death. Of course, when a corpse is found in open country, the hue and cry must be raised even if the body be stiff and cold. So Hubert, the town coroner, and I, bailiff and surgeon, must do our work.

Alan was found but a few minutes from the town. Down Rosemary Lane to the High Street, then left on Bushey Row to the path to St. Andrew’s Chapel. We saw – Hubert and I, and John Holcutt, who came also – where the body lay while we were yet far off. As we passed the last house on the lane east from Bampton to the chapel we saw a group of men standing in the track at a place where last year’s fallow was being plowed for spring planting. They saw us approach, and stepped back respectfully as we reached them.

A hedgerow had grown up among rocks between the lane and the field. New leaves of pale green decorated stalks of nettles, thistles, and wild roses. Had the foliage matured for another fortnight Alan might have gone undiscovered. But two plowmen, getting an early start on their day’s labor, found the corpse as they turned the oxen at the end of their first furrow. It had been barely light enough to see the white foot protruding from the hedgerow. The plowman who goaded the team saw it as he prodded the lead beasts to turn them.

Alan’s body was invisible from the road, but by pushing back nettles and thorns – carefully – we could see him curled as if asleep amongst the brambles. I directed two onlookers to retrieve the body. Rank has its privileges. Better they be nettle-stung than we. A few minutes later Alan the beadle lay stretched out on the path.

Laying in the open, on the road, the beadle did not seem so at peace as in the hedgerow. Deep scratches lacerated his face, hands, and forearms. His clothes were torn, and a great wound bloodied his neck where flesh had been torn away. The coroner bent to examine this injury more closely.

“Some beast has done this, I think,” he muttered as he stood. “See how his surcoat is torn at the arms, as if he tried to defend himself from fangs.

I knelt on the opposite side of the corpse to view in my turn the wound which took the life of Alan the beadle. It seemed as Hubert Shillside said. Puncture wounds spread across neck and arms, and rips on surcoat and flesh indicated where claws and fangs had made their mark. I sent the reeve back to the Bampton Castle for a horse on which to transport Alan back to the town and to his wife. The others who stood in the path began to drift away. The plowmen who found him returned to their team. Soon only the coroner and I remained to guard the corpse. It needed guarding. Already a vulture floated high above the path.

I could not put my unease into words, so spoke nothing of my suspicion to Shillside. But I was not satisfied that some wild beast had done this thing. I believe the coroner was apprehensive of his explanation as well, for it was he who broke the silence.

“There have been no wolves hereabouts in my lifetime,” he mused, “nor wild dogs, I think.”

“I have heard,” I replied, “Lord Gilbert speak of wolves near Goodrich. And Pembroke. Those castles are near to the Forest of Dean and the Welsh mountains. But even there in such wild country they are seldom seen.”

Shillside was silent again as we studied the body at our feet. My eyes wandered to the path where Alan lay. When I did not find what I sought I walked a few paces toward the town, then reversed my path and inspected the track in the direction of St. Andrew’s Chapel. My search was fruitless.

Hubert watched my movements with growing interest. “What do you seek?” He finally asked. It was clear to him I looked for something in the road.

“Tracks. If an animal did this there should be some sign, I think. The mud is soft.”

“Perhaps,” the coroner replied. “But we and many others have stood about near an hour. Any marks a beast might have made have surely been trampled underfoot.”

I agreed that might be. But another thought also troubled me. “There should be much blood,” I said, “but I see little.”

“Why so?” Shillside asked.

“When a man’s neck is torn as Alan’s is there is much blood lost. It is the cause of death. Do you see much blood hereabouts?”

“Perhaps the ground absorbed it?”

“Perhaps . . . . let us look in the hedgerow, where we found him.”

We did, carefully prying the nettles apart. The foliage was depressed where Alan lay, but only a trace of blood could be seen on the occasional new leaf or rock or blade of grass.

“There is blood here,” I announced, “but not much. Not enough.”

“Enough for what?” the coroner asked with furrowed brow.

“Enough that the loss of blood would kill a man.”

Shillside was silent for a moment. “Your words trouble me,” he said finally. “If this wound,” he looked to Alan’s neck, “did not kill him, what did?”

“T’is a puzzle,” I agreed.

“And see how we found him amongst the nettles. Perhaps he dragged himself there to escape the beasts, if more than one set upon him.”

“Or perhaps the animal dragged him there,” I added. But I did not believe this for reasons I could not explain.

It was the coroner’s turn to cast his eyes about. “His staff,” Shillside mused, “I wonder where it might be?”

I remembered the staff. Whenever the beadle went out of an evening to watch and warn he carried with him a yew pole taller than himself and thick as a man’s forearm. I spoke to him of this weapon once. A whack from it, he said, would convince the most unruly drunk to leave the streets and seek his bed.

“He was proud of that cudgel,” Hubert remarked as we combed the hedgerow in search of it. “He carved an ‘A’ on it so all would know t’was his.”

“I didn’t know he could write.”

“Oh . . . . he could not,” Shillside explained. “Father Thomas showed him the mark and Alan inscribed it. Right proud of it, he was.”

We found the staff far off the path, where some waste land verged on to a wood just behind St. Andrew’s Chapel. It lay thirty paces or more from the place where Alan’s body had lain in the hedgerow.

“How did it come to be here?” Shillside asked. As if I would know. He examined the club; “there is his mark . . . . see.” He pointed to the “A” inscribed with some artistry into the tough wood.

As the coroner held the staff before me I inspected it closely and was troubled. Shillside saw my frown.

“What perplexes you, Hugh?”

“The staff is unmarked. Were I carrying such a weapon and a wolf set upon me I would flail it about to defend myself; perhaps hold it before me so the beast caught it in his teeth rather than my arm.”

Shillside peered at the pole and turned it to view all sides. Its surface was smooth and unmarred. “Perhaps,” he said thoughtfully, “Alan swung it at the beast and lost his grip. See how polished smooth it is . . . . and it flew from his grasp to land here.”

“That might be how it was,” I agreed, for I had no better explanation.

As we returned to the path we saw the reeve approach with Bruce, the old horse who saw me about the countryside when I found it necessary to travel. He would be a calm and dignified platform on which to transport a corpse.

We bent to lift Alan to Bruce’s back, John at the feet and Shillside and me at the shoulders. As we swung him up Alan’s head fell back. So much of his neck was shredded that it provided little support. I reached out a hand to steady the head and felt a thing which made my hackles rise.

“Wait,” I said, rather sharply, for my companions started and gazed in wonder at me. “Set him back on the road.”

I turned the beadle’s head and felt the place on the skull which had startled me. There was a soft lump on the skull, just behind Alan’s right ear. This swelling was invisible for the thick shock of hair which covered it. I spread the thatch and inspected Alan’s scalp, then showed my discovery to reeve and coroner.

John Holcutt was silent, but Shillside, after running his fingers across the swelling looked at me and asked, “How could a wolf do this?”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"One Million Arrows" 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:


One Million Arrows: Raising Your Children to Change the World

Winepress Publishing (September 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Julie Ferwerda for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
As a parent of 7 children, the world can be a scary place. Knowing that I won't always be able to protect them but that at some point they will be making choices on their own - have their dad and I given them the tools they need to stand on their own two feet? I appreciate a good solid book that can help me as a parent in that aspect. This book does that.

Julie Ferwerda has put together a book that inspired me, motivated me and made me start thinking about what I can do to not only change my own children, but to teach them to change the world. Ideas are floating around in my head since I finished this book and I can't wait to start putting some of them into practice.

Julie has a huge heart for orphans. That comes across so strongly, you can't help but start having a passion there as well. I love the way Julie puts across to the reader that one person can make a difference, but one million people each making a little difference will make a huge difference - and if we keep in mind that our treasure is being stored up in heaven, then how can we lose?

Last month a group of homeschool families in our town got together and had a yard sale to raise money to build shelter for families in Haiti. I explained to my kids that we were getting rid of things that we didn't need so that another family could sleep under a roof and have a chance at a fresh start after the devastation that they experienced. My kids saw that in two days of work we raised $1,000.00 - enough to shelter a family of 10 and also give them a water filtration system. They grasped the significance of that and that made it totally worth it! This is just a tiny example of the things that Julie talks about in this book. She talks about many real life people and families that are making a difference right where they are and around the world. It is reminiscent to me of "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris (who she tells about) and also goes hand in hand with "Already Gone" by Ken Ham. I am very impressed and recommend this book to any parents (and people in general) who want to catch a vision for making a positive change on earth and storing up treasures in heaven.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Julie Ferwerda is recognized for making the Bible exciting and relevant to everyday life through her writing and speaking. Her articles are featured in many Christian magazines and websites for both adults and teens, and she frequently volunteers her time and talents to international orphan ministry.

Visit the author's website.
Visit the book's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $13.95
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Winepress Publishing (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606150111
ISBN-13: 978-1606150115

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter 1: Determine Your Course
And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children...Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5–9

_______________________________

Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. –William Jennings Bryan1

_______________________________

What were you doing on 9/11?

I’d just cranked up the tunes and hopped on my Nordic Track as part of my normal morning routine, when my husband called from work to tell me to turn on the TV. Watching the events unfold, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as helpless or as horrified as I did that day. The world no longer seemed like the safe, secure place I thought it was only one day before. In the worst way, I wanted to keep my two girls, ages seven and ten, out of school that day to protect them and reassure them until the danger had passed.

For the rest of that day, and many more to come, the surreal sights on TV haunted me. The planes striking the buildings; massive explosions; the sudden, momentary collapse—twice—of 110 floors of elaborately constructed concrete, steel, and glass that took years to erect; and the mountains of debris that smoked and smoldered for many days. But nothing shook me as much as the unforgettable images of human bodies spilling out of the buildings like grains of rice. Neither those who lived through it, nor those of us who watched the shocking events unfold on TV will ever forget.

One young man I read about, Cary Sheih, a technical consultant from New York, barely made it out alive. Working on a project for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at his 72nd floor desk, he’d just finished his usual mid-morning PB&J, when he heard an explosion, followed by tremendous building sways and vibrations. At first, he thought it might be an earthquake, so he dashed to the stairwell, where a quick, but calm, evacuation was underway. As people made their way down, some received messages on their cell phones that an airplane had accidentally crashed into the building, but there was no mention of a terrorist attack.

With the heavy, choking stench of jet fuel, descending the tower proved difficult. But if it was difficult for him, he couldn’t imagine how difficult it was for the rescue crews he passed, huffing their way up an endless corkscrew of stairs and then hurrying back down, carrying badly injured and burned victims. He recalls, “Sometime around the 30th or 40th floor, we passed the first firefighters coming up the stairs. They reassured people that we were safe and that we would all get out fine. By this point, they were absolutely breathless, but still pushing upward, slowly and unyieldingly, one step at a time. I could only imagine how tired they were, carrying their axes, hoses, and heavy outfits, climbing up all those stairs. Young men started offering [to help] the firemen to carry up their gear for a few flights, but they all refused. Each and every one of them.”2

As Cary neared the bottom, the building began to shake and sway again, the lights flickered out, and eerie sounds of buckling steel accompanied screams of people falling down the stairwell. After being assisted by firemen through darkness to a different stairwell, a panicked Cary somehow made it down the last few flights to safety, where his wildest imagination couldn’t have prepared him for what he encountered. The burning trees, wreckage, fireballs, and dust resembled a war zone.

While reading through this and other accounts concerning 9/11, I noticed an inspiring, recurrent theme. While there were many, many heroes and selfless individuals working tirelessly to assist throughout this tragic period, it was the firemen who undoubtedly made some of the greatest sacrifices of all, and whose ultimate acts of bravery impacted lives worldwide. While most everyone else scrambled for the exit signs to save themselves (which I’m positive I would have done, too), these rescue workers fearlessly headed up into the towering infernos that day, many likely aware that they might not make it out alive.

Most kids see firefighters as larger than life heroes, which is probably why many of them want to be one when they grow up. Who wouldn’t want to be thought of as a hero, especially one that saved lives? I came across a touching book report that was written about 9/11 by three kids: “The firefighters of 9/11 are heroes because they have saved the lives of hundreds of people, while they knew the building could collapse. While you go up a burning, 110-story building you would be very scared, because you’ll think of your own life. When you are a firefighter you mustn’t think too much about your own life or you may not be able to save lives. Being a hero means saving lives. That’s the difference between being a celebrity and being a hero. Why would a celebrity be important to you? It is just someone with a well-paying job. You’ll be someone’s hero if you help him with his or her life.”3

As I think about what these insightful kids have so magnificently articulated about the qualities of firemen, particularly the 9/11 firemen, I’m deeply moved with admiration and respect. In an emergency, firemen are:

First responders, well-trained, and ready to save lives, even at the expense of their own.
Purposeful and deliberate, aware that lives are at stake and time is short.
Doggedly determined, knowing that the more lives they can save the better.
Regarded in both life and death as the heroes of this world.
No one involved in 9/11 could disagree with this assessment. Remembering the expressions of both courage and fear etched on rescue workers’ faces as they spoke reassuringly to guide many people to safety, Cary Sheih said, “I am so grateful for the courage of the firemen and policemen who gave up their lives to help us down the burning tower. As I relive this moment over and over in my mind, I can’t help but think that these courageous firemen already knew in their minds that they would not make it out of the building alive, and that they didn’t want to endanger any more civilians or prevent one less person from making it to safety.”4

While they will undoubtedly go down in history as larger than life heroes, we can’t forget how human and vulnerable they were, too. I have looked through their pictures online. Most of them were young family men, with their whole lives ahead of them—men who kissed their own babies goodnight on Monday for the last time so that those they helped to safety could kiss their kids goodnight many more nights to come. They unknowingly said final goodbyes to their own families Tuesday morning so that many others could come home to their families that night.

In the moment of the realization of the grave danger, it had to be a dilemma for the firemen, choosing between lion-hearted courage and paralyzing, self-protective fear. How were they able to do it? Was it because it was their job? Because their buddies were doing it? Because their captain told them to do it? What exactly is it that leads a person to choose a profession where courage must prevail when all pretenses and rewards are stripped away in the face of death?

More than a job identity or a paycheck, more than an obligation or a hope of any kind of recognition, firemen are willing to risk their lives and to face their fears because they are motivated by something far greater than fear.

The Bible refers to this motivating force as love! Authentic, selfless love drives away fear (1 John 4:18). And it was the love—not the duty—of those firemen and emergency workers that truly made them heroes of the day, both the ones who died and the ones who worked doggedly through the wreckage, many suffering permanent damage to their lungs and bodies. And that kind of sacrifice, according to Jesus Christ, is love at its very best. “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” (John 15:12–13, emphasis mine).

Firemen of Life

So what does all this talk about 9/11 and firemen have to do with parenting? If you’re a follower of Christ and you want to raise children who are also followers of Christ, quite a lot. And if you want to entertain the possibility of raising children who will change the world around them, and even the world at large, everything!

It’s no secret that every day on this earth, countless lives are at stake. People are dying every day who do not know Jesus, and almost just as bad, people are living every day who do not know Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine struggling through the hardships, losses, disappointments, and sorrows of this world without the comfort and peace of knowing Jesus and His love. And we know that someday soon, this world, with all its carefully planned designs and elaborate structures, along with all the people who have not put their faith in Christ, will collapse in a catastrophic fire (Zephaniah 1:18).

In other words, time is running out.

The seriousness of that reality raises some questions: What is my family here for? As believers, is parenting a more significant and eternity-impacting role than we’ve given it credit for? Are we satisfied with happy, well-adjusted, even ambitious kids who happen to love God, or is there something more? When we consider the possibilities, we find that we’ve been given an invitation into a divine story—into His-story. As this story unfolds throughout the space of our lives, which role will our family accept in this cosmic emergency? Hopefully not the victims. Hopefully not the ones running scared to save ourselves (and I am absolutely not criticizing those who made it out on 9/11—this is for spiritual application only). Hopefully not uninvolved bystanders who are disinterested, unable, or ill equipped to do anything but watch.

I’ve realized that, in the grand scheme of life, more than just raising my kids to “keep the faith,” I want to raise my kids to save lives. I want to raise firemen. Not necessarily the earthly fire-fighting kind, but the heavenly fire-fighting kind. Kids who are well-trained and ready to help save as many lives as possible. Kids who grow up, remembering at the forefront of everything they do, that time is short and lives are at stake, and who will one day be seen as spiritual heroes for helping many to safety.

I want to raise kids who love like Jesus.

Just think what it would be like to have kids who grow up in this self-destructing world with brave faces and hope in their voices, carrying within their hearts the ambition of bringing as many people as possible safely into the Kingdom. I believe that this kind of holy ambition is the secret to life at its best, and I want my kids to experience this kind of life. Jesus said, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life” (Matthew 16:25). And therein, we hear the invitation: Will you raise your kids to be firemen? Will you be a fireman for God’s sake? We may never be called to die for Jesus like so many others in our world today, but we are still called to a holy rescue mission—to live sacrificially for God so that others will be led to safety through our loving assistance.

I recently met two brothers, both firemen of the Kingdom variety, who understand about saving lives by choosing to deliberately head into burning buildings. For them, the rescue mission all started with a small idea and a heart to snatch their fellow teens from a dangerous culture.

At age sixteen, twins Alex and Brett Harris decided to start a little blog in their spare time over the summer called TheRebelution.com, with the intent of starting a teenage rebellion. “The word ‘rebelution’ is a combination of the words ‘rebellion’ and ‘revolution,’” explains Brett. “So it carries a sense of an uprising against social norms. But in this case, it’s not a rebellion against God-established authority, but against the low expectations of our society. It’s a refusal to be defined by our ungodly, rebellious culture.” To their astonishment, within a couple years, their site had received over 14 million hits, becoming the most popular Christian teen blog on the web.

As a follow up, they decided to write a book for teens called Do Hard Things, exhorting young people not to take the easy way out, but to do those things that seem harder now but have a bigger payoff in the end (as in “delayed gratification”). Since then, God has opened doors for them to speak to thousands of teens nationwide through conferences that are planned, organized, and run primarily by youth.

More than just a website, The Rebelution is both a mindset and a movement. “Our goal,” according to the brothers, “is to create a community of young people where thinking deeply is the norm, and where achieving excellence is ‘cool.’ History says young people can be doing big things right now! Don’t let the culture’s expectations toward teenagers dictate what you think is possible. The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility. They are the training ground of future leaders who dare to be responsible now.”5

Whether from media, parents, authority figures, or peers, low expectations have become the rule for this generation, rather than the exception. Not only are kids expected not to possess admirable character or useful competence, but also they are expected to do the opposite. The Rebelution defies this kind of thinking by calling out youth to return to biblical and historical levels of character and competence as exhorted by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Their message, based on their belief that God is raising up their generation for global change, is a passionate call back to excellence, purpose, and significance for young people. It’s not about doing more things, or inflicting oneself with toilsome chores; it’s about lifestyle choices that will often take you out of your comfort zone and into places where you are focused on using your abilities and resources to encourage and benefit others…ultimately to save lives.

“Brett and I firmly believe we are living in historic times,” Alex says. “We further believe that God is raising up a generation of young people who will one day assume positions of leadership in all spheres of life: social, political, and spiritual. This is not a call for the complacent or the lackadaisical. This is not a call to those who are willing to lower their standards to meet the expectations of their culture. This is a call to the rebelutionary.”

Initially I wondered how two kids could possibly have achieved so many bold and bright accomplishments, not to mention how they’ve acquired more wisdom than many adults. Was it handed to them? Do they harbor a special gene pool (their parents might agree with that notion)? Did they turn out like this by chance?

Actually, Alex and Brett would probably be ordinary kids, except for one thing. They had parents who believed in making the sacrifices necessary to raise their kids to make a difference. Kids who, in turn, learned to make sacrifices in order to serve others. They had parents who devoted themselves to raising firemen. Keeping this at the forefront of their parenting strategy, Mom and Dad Harris raised kids who understood and accepted the fact that it was going to take a lot of hard work for everyone in order to succeed in this goal. As a result of this mentality, these young men have literally started a Rebelution across our nation…and our world.

There are actually two other grown children from the Harris home. One of them, Joshua, became a best-selling author at the age of twenty, with the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Multnomah 1997). He went on to write more bestsellers, developed purity seminars for young people, and toured as a national conference speaker in front of hundreds of thousands of young people, calling them out of their culture to a lifestyle of purity. At age twenty-seven, he became the senior pastor of a large church, where he still serves today.

In 2002, another brother, Joel, launched the Northwest Academy of Worship Music to help raise up worship leaders and worship teams for local churches in the Portland area, where over 150 students of all ages have been successfully trained. Since 2007, he’s also been using his music skills to lead worship for The Rebelution Tour.

As I got to know the Harris family, I saw that “chance” and “opportunity” had nothing to do with their parenting success. “If our teen years have been different than most,” says Alex, “it’s not because we are somehow better than other teens, but because we’ve been motivated by that simple but very big idea filtering down from our parents’ example and training: Do hard things.”

With four out of four grown children serving the Lord and significantly impacting their world, it’s obvious that the Harrises are doing something right. And I’ve discovered that this “something” is available to all parents. Throughout this book, we’re going to visit with more parents like these to find out exactly what they are doing to shape godly kids who are ready and able to help save lives, no matter what their limitations or circumstances. Turning out kids like these is not just possible—it’s possible for you and your family with just a few moderate but important lifestyle changes.

Parenting is, really, at the heart of Jesus’ command for discipleship. It’s teaching our kids to live with Jesus and to love like Jesus. It does require a cost, as anything worthwhile does, but that cost will be far outweighed by the benefits and rewards. God has created our kids with unique abilities, gifts, and desires for a very special purpose. All they need now is to be trained and ready, available for divinely appointed opportunities.

So now it’s time to ask: Do we truly want to give our kids the best of everything we have to offer in the short time we have to impact their lives? Do we want our kids to live—and someday die—the spiritual heroes of this world? If we have answered “yes,” then it’s time to learn about a vision for our families that’s so amazing; it will change the course of history.

My discovery all started on a little trip I took to northwest India.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"The Sword" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Sword
Crossway Books (April 30, 2010)
by


Bryan M. Litfin



MY REVIEW:
Okay, you know I like Speculative fiction, I enjoy a good "what if" storyline... but some can be a little over the top. Not "The Sword". "The Sword" is a brilliant blend of the futuristic past with characters and settings that grab the mind but don't boggle it into confusion. The prologue is so good and interesting that I read it out loud to my husband. This book is set in the future after a virus breaks out and spreads across the planet wiping out the human race but not before sending it into nuclear war. The little remnants of human existence that try to survive are forced to revert to life of long ago since there is no electricity, no technology and really no obvious signs of life as we know it now.
In this world we meet a "knight" and a common lady who unknowingly set out to change the world when they discover a Bible that was hidden 400 years ago and introduce it to this society where Christianity is unheard of and 3 false gods "rule" everything.
I loved this book and can't believe I have to wait an entire year to get the 2nd one!!!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bryan Litfin was born in Dallas, but lived in Memphis, Tennessee and Oxford, England, where he discovered that the house of his favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, was only five doors down from his own. Bryan still enjoys epic adventure stories, as well as historical fiction. However, most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.

After marrying his high school sweetheart, Carolyn (a true Southern belle), he went on to study for a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays.

In 2002, Bryan took a position on the faculty at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he is a professor in the Theology Department. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods.

On the morning of January 6, 2007, Bryan woke up with an epiphany. Having finished writing his primer on the ancient church, he had the idea of trying his hand at fiction. The thought occurred to him that the writer of speculative fiction typically has two options. He can create an imaginary land like Middle Earth (which offers great creative freedom but is unrealistic), or he can delve into genuine history (which is realistic, yet limted to what ‘actually occurred.’) However, if a writer were to create a future world as in the Chiveis trilogy, it could be both realistic and creatively unlimited.

This little dream stayed in Bryan’s mind while he researched how to write fiction, and also researched the European landscape where the novel would be set. He planned a trip to the story locations, then went there in the summer with a buddy from grad school. Bryan and Jeff rented a Beemer and drove all over Europe from the Alps to the Black Forest with a video camera in hand. With that epic setting fresh in his mind, Bryan returned home and began to write.

Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He is blessed by God to be married to Carolyn, and to be the father of two amazing children, William, 11, and Anna, 9. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains (which means getting far away from the Midwest – preferably to his beloved Smokies).

ABOUT THE BOOK


This novel of page-turning action and adventure poses the question, "If a society had no knowledge of Christianity, and then a Bible were discovered, what would happen?"

Four hundred years after a deadly virus and nuclear war destroyed the modern world, a new and noble civilization emerges. In this kingdom, called Chiveis, snowcapped mountains provide protection, and fields and livestock provide food. The people live medieval-style lives, with almost no knowledge of the "ancient" world. Safe in their natural stronghold, the Chiveisi have everything they need, even their own religion. Christianity has been forgotten—until a young army scout comes across a strange book.

With that discovery, this work of speculative fiction takes readers on a journey that encompasses adventure, romance, and the revelation of the one true God. Through compelling narrative and powerful character development, The Sword speaks to God's goodness, his refusal to tolerate sin, man's need to bow before him, and the eternality and power of his Word. Fantasy and adventure readers will be hooked by this first book in a forthcoming trilogy.

Visit the book website at The Sword to see amazing videos and a wealth of information about the trilogy!

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

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Sworn To Protect" Book Review...

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Sworn To Protect
Tyndale House (April 2010)


by
DiAnn Mills



MY REVIEW:
Did I happen to mention that I like DiAnn Mills, but I love her suspense books! This is a great series packed with intense drama, unique settings, strong characters and tons of mystery to keep you on edge. It doesn't get much better than this. I love the whole Border Patrol setting in this book, I learned a ton! Did you know that most BP agents don't wear their uniforms until they get to work because they don't want their neighbors to know what they do, it might put their families in danger? Crazy! This book is packed with great stuff from cover to cover - looking forward to DiAnn's next book in this series!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.



DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.



Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.



DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.



She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.





ABOUT THE BOOK







Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales sends illegal immigrants back to Mexico; a job she's paid dearly for. Her husband, Toby, was murdered two years ago trying to help and his murder's never been solved. Now a string of attacks and arrests leads her to believe that someone from McAllen profits from sneaking undocumented immigrants into the country and somehow this illegal activity is tied to her husband, Toby's death.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Sworn To Protect, go HERE.



Watch the book trailer video:



Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Power PraiseMoves" DVD Review

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Power PraiseMoves™ DVD

December 1, 2009

***Special thanks to David P. Bartlett - Print & Internet Publicist - Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
This is a great dvd. I love the idea behind Yoga, but spiritually I don't want it in my home. To see someone that has taken the Yoga idea and taken the New Age out and made it into a worship experience packed with scripture. This is the Christian Alternative to Yoga and I plan on incorporating it into my routine.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Laurette Willis, the founder of PraiseMoves®, is a Women’s Fitness Specialist and certified personal trainer, as well as a popular keynote speaker and an award-winning actor and playwright. She has produced the videos PraiseMoves™ and 20-Minute PraiseMoves™ and written BASIC Steps to Godly Fitness.


Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Actors: Laurette Willis
Directors: Josh Atkinson
Format: NTSC
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: CT Videography
DVD Release Date: December 1, 2009
Run Time: 120 minutes
ASIN: 0736928456

AND NOW...A SAMPLE OF THE VIDEO:


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Wildflowers of Terezin" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Wildflowers of Terezin
Abingdon Press (April 2010)
by


Robert Elmer


MY REVIEW:
Such interesting timing. Yesterday I review "The Secret Holocaust Diaries of Nonna Bannister" which is non-fiction and then today I review "Wildflowers of Terezin" which is fiction but also WWII Holocaust. So I read them back-to-back which made it hard to keep fact and fiction straight in my head, but one of the things I loved about Wildflowers is that it is based on true events, there are just a lot of liberties taken. For one thing, it is set in Denmark and starts when a man finds out about the Nazi plans to round up all the Denmark Jews on a Friday night and load them onto trains bound for Germany. He can not in good conscience do nothing so he tips off someone that is able to alert most of the 7,000 Jews in Denmark that they need to go into hiding until they can get out of the country. (That is based on true events.) The story then follows Hanne, who is a Jewish nurse, and Steffen, who is a Lutheran pastor as they try to help some Jews out of the country. Hanne is eventually found out and sent away as well and Steffen is desperate to get her back. Their story follows. I really enjoyed this story and loved how much of it was based on fact while there was lots of fiction for drama and romance. My favorite Robert Elmer book so far!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Robert Elmer is a former pastor, reporter and as copywriter who now writes from he home he shares with his wife Ronda in northern Idaho. He is the author of over fifty books, including eight contemporary novels for the adult Christian audience and several series for younger readers. Combined, his books have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. Like his popular "Young Underground" youth series, Wildflowers of Terezin was inspired by stories Robert heard from his Denmark-born parents and family. When he's not sailing or enjoying the outdoors, Robert often travels the country speaking to school and writers groups.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When nurse Hanne Abrahamsen impulsively shields Steffen Petersen from a nosy Gestapo agent, she’s convinced the Lutheran pastor is involved in the Danish Underground. Nothing could be further from the truth.



But truth is hard to come by in the fall of 1943, when Copenhagen is placed under Martial Law and Denmark’s Jews—including Hanne—suddenly face deportation to the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia. Days darken and danger mounts. Steffen’s faith deepens as he takes greater risks to protect Hanne. But are either of them willing to pay the ultimate price for their love?



To read the first chapter of Wildflowers of Terezin, go HERE.

"The Secret Holocaust Diaries" Book Review

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister

Tyndale House Publishers (March 4, 2010)

***Special thanks to Vicky Lynch of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
I often times hesitate to review non-fiction books because they take me a lot longer to read than fiction books do, they just tend to slow down the rapid rate at which I zip through books. Until now. This may be one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read.

This is the gripping true story of Nonna Bannister and her survival of the Holocaust during WWII as a Russian (though there are strong suspicions that her father had Jewish blood). Her family lost everything and she and her mom ended up in a cattle car on their way to Germany to be slave labor in factories. Nonna ends up in America after the war and gets married and has a family. She never tells her husband what really happened to her all those years ago, and he doesn't pry. One day, years after they were married and the kids are grown, she takes her husband to the attic and finally shows him the locked trunk with all the diaries she kept through the war. All the photos that she was able to keep with her, all the postcards and mementos that survived thanks to her. She tells her husband that she knows her story needs to be told but she doesn't want it told until after she is gone. Her husband and kids were the only ones to hear her story from her. Now it is time for the rest of us.

I could not put this book down. The Diary of Anne Frank is a beloved book, but it only tells the story to a certain point. The Secret Diaries of Nonna Bannister are able to take and drive the story farther and from a different viewpoint. I can not wait for my kids to read this book - a great historical tool and a gift to all of us here in the present.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Nonna Bannister was a young girl when World War II broke into her happy life. She went from an idyllic early-twentieth-century Russian childhood, full of love and comforts, to the life of a prisoner working in labor camps—though she was not a Jew—eventually bereft of her entire family. But she survived the war armed with the faith in God her grandmother taught her and a readiness to start a new life. She immigrated to America, married, and started a family, keeping her past secret from everyone. Though she had carried from Germany the scraps of a diary and various photographs and other memorabilia, she kept it all hidden and would only take it out, years later, to translate and expand her writings. After decades of marriage, Nonna finally shared her secret with her husband . . . and now he is sharing it with the world. Nonna died on August 15, 2004.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (March 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414325479
ISBN-13: 978-1414325477

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER: